Although Li Du did not like Marate, he had to admit that what Marate had said was intelligent.
The church charity auction was not purely to get people to fork out their money; if that were the case, they could have just organized a donation drive instead. Since it was an auction, those bidding for the items would want the items to be useful to them.
The surrounding people were nodding their heads when they heard Marates words. Mr. and Mrs. Martin nodded as well. "Yes, thats right."
Marate glanced at Li Du; he smirked as though he had just won a battle.
Li Du smiled as well, seemingly unaffected by Marate, and said to him, "Youre right."
Marates smile disappeared from his face when Li said those words.
Li Dus smile made Marate feel as if his "blow" earlier had hit nothing but air. Obviously, Li did not want to pit himself against him.
With that, he stayed silent. He was waitingwaiting for the next opportunity to assert himself and crush Li Du.
Marate liked Sophiea lot. Both of them had been classmates in middle school. When they were still in the eighth grade together, there had been a welcome party.
Sophie had been invited to perform for the welcome party, and Marate had fallen head over heels with her when he saw her playing the piano on stage. Ever since then, he had been going after Sophie. But she never gave him a chance. Their relationship had always remained the same.
The last time he saw Sophie, hed managed to invite her to the truck dealership through Natalie. He had wanted to show her he was talented and capable in his job so as to stir up some feelings in her.
However, things hadnt worked out that way, and his plans were ruined by Li Du, who had appeared out of nowhere. He was still ashamed from the lost bet, and had been carrying a grudge against Li since. He wanted revenge.
The church event made him hopeful for a comeback. Li was obviously not a Christian, so the church was Marates territory. Moreover, everyone here had a good impression of himhe might even get some help from them.
The auction started; a young girl came out, carrying a tray. There was a piece of fine, brown-colored velvet on the tray. In the center of the velvet laid two golden bracelets.
The auctioneer, Lewis, had his white gloves on and picked up the gold bracelets so everyone could have a better look. "These pure gold bracelets were donated by Old Mrs. Lynch, made by Cartiers gold master, Tony Ralph. They are both 19.8 grams..."
As Lewis introduced the origin of the bracelets to everyone, Mr. Lynch and his wife helped an old lady stand up. Everyone clapped and the couple bowed to everyone.
As the first item to appear on the auction was a heavyweight, it sparked more interest from Li Du.
The two bracelets were not ordinary pieces of jewelry. Because they were donated by Old Mrs. Lynch, he had no reason to doubt the authenticity of the braceletsthey were made of real gold.
If one looked at the value of a gold bracelet of almost 20 grams, it would have been estimated at over 1,000 dollars.
As the bracelets had been created by Cartiers gold master, the value would definitely be more than 1,000 dollarsit could be doubled!
The auctioneer started to announce the starting bid after the introduction: "The starting bid for the bracelets is 1,000 dollars, every increase in bid must be no lower than 50 dollars!"
Immediately after he finished talking, a church member raised his bid paddle and said, "1,000 dollars!"
Another person shouted, "1,050 dollars!"
The event organizers had been smart to choose the bracelets as their starting auction item. The gold bracelets quickly grabbed the attention and interest of everyone, and the bid price kept increasing.
Li Du also liked the braceletstheir craft was exquisite. Moreover, Cartier rarely released such designs anymore. This was therefore appealing for nostalgic people such as himself.
And so, when the bidding enthusiasm started to cool off, he raised his hand and placed a bid: "1,500 dollars!"
Everyone knew that 1,500 dollars was a very good price to win the bracelets. For many, it was impossible to challenge that amount.
Marate joined in the bidding. "One thousand five hundred fifty dollars," he said.
The price continued to rise steadily to 2,000 dollars, then it further went up to 2,200 dollars.
Li Du considered for a moment and placed another bid again: "2,250 dollars!"
By the time the price reached this figure, there werent many contenders left. Everyone liked the bracelets, but at the same time, they didnt want to spend too much on them.
The auctioneers arm swept over the crowd and he said, "2,250 dollars, 2,250 dollars, 2,250 dollars, any higher bids? Dont let 50 dollars block you from going on a date with a pair of gold bracelets. If no one else is bidding then Ill say 2,250 dollars once"
"Two thousand three hundred dollars!" Marate called out in a loud voice.
The auctioneer was overjoyed. He pointed at Marate and continued his auction chant.
Li Du gave it a thought again and said, "2,500 dollars."
There was scattered applause around the church. This was because this was a charity auction and the proceeds would be used to help church members in need, so a higher bid price meant that more people could receive help.
Marate made his bid again without any hesitation, and spoke in a slightly louder voice than earlier: "3,000 dollars!"
The applause became much denser and louder now, and many believers turned their heads in their direction.
The obvious difference in treatment made Marate felt good. It was as he thought: the church was his turf. Everyone would support him, not a foreigner that they were unfamiliar with.
Li Du shook his head, backing off from the bidding. The auctioneer shouted "3,000 dollars" three times. No one else made a bid. He pointed to Marate and announced, "This precious jewelry now belongs to this adorable young man over there. Let us congratulate him with a round of applause!"
An even louder applause was heard. Marate was grinning from ear to ear; he raised his hand, looking proud of himself.
When he sat down, Mr. Martin shook hands with him. "Congratulations, young man."
Marate laughed and replied, "Thank you, Mr. Martin. Im a member of the church. I have to contributeIm not an outsider, afterall. I cant just simply sit and watch."
While the words in the beginning of Marates small speech were normal, his words toward the end of the sentence seemed to be implying something.
Li Du didnt even turn to look at him, acting as if he hadnt heard anything.
The second item was an embroidered blanket. As the art of Chinese embroidery had spread around the world, there were many people in the United States who used this craft to pass the time. There were many households with embroidered decorations.
The blanket was about six feet long, and three feet wide. It was embroidered with a scene of Christ giving blessings to his believers, which was probably based on a story in the Bible. As Li Du was not familiar with the Bible, he could not understand the story.
Because there was a lot of detailed embroidery, the starting bid was 400 dollars, which was not too low. The final deal price was 550 dollars. The enthusiasm of the crowd was much smaller, but the price was still reasonable.
The subsequent items for bidding were mainly common household products and ordinary jewelry. There were no expensive artworks on auction. This was understandable, as the majority of the believers here were part of the ordinary working class.
Li Du was not interested in the subsequent items, and therefore, he did not make any other bids and just looked on.
He had positioned himself since coming to the auction to simply be Sophie's companion. He did not want to stand in the limelight or to donate much money.
From his point of view, the charity auction was an internal activity of the church, which, to put it crudely, was none of his business. If he wanted to show his compassion for humanity, it need not be here.
Marate kept staring at Li Du; when he noticed that Li Du did not even attempt to make any bids, he felt that he had finally found a way to defeat this rival!