Having seen so many fire opals for the first time, Roger and the rest were visibly moved.
What Li Du had said earlier had already made a huge impact. Now that the 58 pieces of fire opal had emerged, the impact was even greater.
Roger looked at these fiery-red gems in fascination. He could not resist stretching his hand out to touch the edge of the box. Then he sighed softly, "Truly stunning."
Li Du asked, "Does your esteemed company have any intention of buying them?"
Roger swallowed with some difficulty and forced a smile before saying, "Mr. Li, I think I'm not able to make the decision. Please allow me to make a call . . ."
An old man among the three of them said, "Roger, no need to make the call. No one can make that decision. Are you guys still acquiring high value gems in bulk now?"
Another person said, "Mr. Tedrick, the decision making for the acquisition of gems has nothing to do with us. We should not get involved."
The old man Tedrick sneered, "I'm a Harry Winston shareholder, do I not have the right to make a suggestion?"
He looked at Li Du with a piercing glare, then said, "Mr. Li, if I were you, and owned such precious gems, I think I would look for a more reliable buyer."
Upon hearing that, Roger panicked and said, "Mr. Tedrick, what do you mean by that? If you are here to cause trouble, please leave my office!"
Tedrick had an explosive temper, and Roger's words had driven him up the wall. With the veins on his forehead bulging, he said, "I'm causing trouble? You actually said such stupid words out loud! If I weren't riding out the storm with Winston, would I still be around now?"
Roger pressed both of his hands down and said weakly, "I understand, I understand. It is not my intention to doubt your concern for the Winston company. I was just trying to say that I need to attend to Mr. Li now. Could you please excuse us?"
Tedrick got even angrier. "Are you chasing me away? Roger, as long as I'm still a shareholder of the Winston company, you haven't any right to chase me away!"
Roger controlled his anger and said, "I was not chasing you away, Mr. Tedrick. I'm only hoping for you to excuse us so that we can proceed with our business discussion."
Tedrick scoffed, "Do you still have money for business?"
Roger, who was momentarily speechless, looked embarrassed.
Li Du's heart was fluttering. Judging from Tedrick's attitude and words, what the cab driver said was probably not a groundless rumor.
Roger softened his tone and said slowly, "Mr. Tedrick, I know that you're not pleased with the recent decisions the company made but there's nothing I could have done. You know there was nothing I could have done. Can you please take your leave first? We'll discuss your issues later."
An overbearing Tedrick said cynically, "Discuss later? When? When my shares become worthless?"
As he spoke, he got even more worked up. "I know that you can do nothing in terms of the company's decisions. You are only the director for the Las Vegas area. If we, the shareholders, can do nothing, what more can you do?"
A white man of about 60 years of age stopped Tedrick and said, "Enough, old fella. Don't say any more. This isn't the time to talk about our matter."
Tedrick said, "Norman, how much longer do you want to suffer in silence? The value of our shares has dropped from twenty million to one million, then to five hundred thousand and even lower. Do you want to continue? Do you still want to bear with it?"
Norman frowned and sighed. "I'm not bearing with it, it's just that we should keep a low profile for now."
Tedrick shook his head and said, "No, I don't want a low profile. The truth is, Roger, I know you want to buy these gems. Then, in front of your esteemed customer, give us your promise as to when we can sell you our shares."
Roger said helplessly, "Mr. Tedrick, I don't have the right to promise you anything. You know that I'm only the regional director! I haven't got that much authority!"
Tedrick insisted, "You do. What's the value of our shares now? Five million? Five and a half million? You don't even have the authority to buy back this small amount of shares? No, I don't believe you!"
On hearing this, Li Du understood. These people must be the minor shareholders of Harry Winston and were thinking of selling their shares back to the company for cash.
Although Harry Winston was one of the largest companies in the jewelry industry, it wasnot listed on the stock exchange. Their shares had been circulating among shareholders and the general public.
These three people, who had some shares, could have also heard the news about Harry Winston closing down. They probably wanted to sell the shares but could not find any buyers, so they planned to sell the shares back to the company.
As he listened to them, the matter became even more chaotic.
Initially, the other two minor shareholders were mindful of his presence, and did not say a word. Following Tedrick's grumbling, the other two could not hold back anymore and also started to bombard Roger.
Li Du looked at Big Quinn and Godzilla standing at the entrance, and the two of them looked back at him with a confused look. What's going on? Do they not want the business anymore?
Tedrick grumbled, "Roger, you need to buy everything from us. D*mn it, the company is getting more stupid. Look at what they have been doing lately."
"Why not just focus on the diamond business? Why does it need to venture into the watch business? The Halewinner watch company, and the opening of that flagship store in Hong Kong? Isn't this crazy?"
"Our specialty is in diamonds and jewels, not diamond watches. Did they think it would be easy to enter the market? Did they think Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Excalibur and Breguet are all weaklings?"
"Buy them back from us. Harry Winston is collapsing. D*mn, I don't want to wait 'til that day comes. I don't want to lose my retirement funds!"
With the three of them taking turns to pour out their woes, Roger's voice sounded listless. "We didn't just start the watch business. It has been operating since 1978. Hasn't our watch business been doing quite well?"
In 1978, the company's founder, Harry Winston, had passed on in New York. His eldest son, Ronald Winston, became the successor of the company.
From an early age, Ronald had a special affinity with horology. After he took over running the company, he leveraged his passion and professional knowledge for precision, tediously marrying the designing of jewelry and timepieces. Eventually he started the watch department in 1989.
Tedrick said angrily, "Don't say such dumb things, Roger. You know jolly well how bad the development of our watch business is! And now, besides watches, we are also dealing in clocks? Utterly ridiculous!"
"What's that watch series called? Jewels that tell time? Listen, we old folks do not have much time left. Return the money that belongs to us, and let us enjoy the remaining time we have . . ."
"Roger, it's getting from bad to worse. You know very well the situation the company is in. You didn't buy any shares, and that was the right decision. However, we have shares, and I don't want to become a penniless beggar when the company goes bankrupt!"
"Right, when that happens, you can just take off and leave for Graff or Tiffany and continue being a director. What about us? We old folks are going to become beggars!"