Chapter 87 – A box of…… books!
“Hello? Xiao Bing? Why are you still not back yet?”
“Oh…… Aunt Xuan. I am still busy with work. I will be back late today.”
“Ok. Then I will not wait for you for dinner. Don’t come back too late and watch out for your own safety.”
“Ok. I will take care of myself.”
After hanging up the phone, Dong Xuebing kept his iPhone4 in his pocket. He finished the last bite of his dinner. There were still people walking around the demolition site, and he had to wait. He continued to write the draft proposal for Xu Yan which was due tomorrow. When he completed the proposal, it was almost 8 pm. It was dark, and there were no one around.
Dong Xuebing steadied himself and walked out of the small restaurant.
The dimmed street lights illuminated that messy demolition site. This was only the initial phase of the demolition, and there was no heavy machinery. Thus, there were no security guards around. Other than two stray grey cats and a stray dog, there was no one else. It was night, and this place was messy and dirty. No one will come here. Dong Xuebing looked at the stone floor tile. He returned to the spot where he stood for hours in the afternoon. The stone tile was still in the same position before he left.
Time to start digging!
Dong Xuebing rolled up his sleeves and squat down. He used his fingers to hook onto the cold and heavy tile. He braced himself and start to pry the tile open. This tile was too heavy. In the afternoon, he saw a few workers working together to remove one stone tile.
A bit more! More strength! Just a little bit more!
The stone tile moved. It was slowly rising as Dong Xuebing uses all his strength.
10 cm…… 20 cm…… Bang! The stone tiled was flipped over.
Dong Xuebing quickly look around to see if anyone notice the loud sound. He was relieved and patted the dust off his hands. He leans forward excitedly to look at what was buried underneath the tile. It was a box. The box was covered in dirt and was worn out. Dong Xuebing swiped the dirt away and pried opened the wooden box. There was a rusty metal box wrapped in a thick plastic sheet in the box. From the condition of the box, it should not be buried too long ago.
What was in this box?
It will be a waste of BACK if this box contains something worthless!
Dong Xuebing grumbled for a while and unwrap the metal box from the thick plastic sheet. He held the box in his hand, and his heart skipped a beat. Damn! This box was too light. It only weighs about two to three teacups. He shook the box, and there was no sound. That means the box does not contain any gold, silver, or porcelain items. Dong Xuebing was disappointed. He placed the box on the floor.
The weight of this box feels like it was filled with papers.
Damn. Don’t tell me that some kid had buried his diary or newspaper under the floor tile! That will be a joke!
Dong Xuebing rubbed his cold fingers and put them near his mouth to warm them. Then he starts to open the metal box. Click! He removed the rusty lid of the box. From the dim lighting, Dong Xuebing saw what was inside. Fuck! Dong Xuebing slapped his forehead.
There were more than a dozen small books in the box and nothing else!
It was too dim, and Dong Xuebing could not see the books clearly. But unless the book pages were made from gold, how much can he sell these old books for? 1 RMB? 2 RMB? This should be what those garbage collectors will pay for books. Damn! Wasted the whole afternoon and today’s BACK. Dong Xuebing shook his head and walked over to the lamppost with the metal box. He had spent so much time and effort to get this box, he wants to see what was written in the books.
The street lights shone on the box.
Dong Xuebing did not think much about the books. He took out one book from the box.
When he took a closer look at the book, he was stunned for a few seconds!
Wait! Wait a minute!
The title of the book was…… ? The famous Song dynasty block-printed ?
Dong Xuebing quickly took out the other small books from the box. Jiaqing block-printed ? Qing Dynasty Kangxi block-printed ? Lu You’s ? Li Zhongshi’s ? The last book was a scripture from the Tang Dynasty…… ?!
These were not worthless books. These were all classic books!!!
Dong Xuebing had worked part-time in an antique shop that specialized in old books and antique four treasures for two months. He knew the value of these books. He was speechless. This was terrific! He immediately took out all the books and kept them carefully in his bag. He checked the time and went back to return the stone tile back to its original position. After that, he flagged a cab and rushed to Panjiayuan.
The antique market at Panjiayuan closes early. Dong Xuebing was going to an antique shop just across the street from Panjiayuan.
Last summer holidays, Dong Xuebing had sold antique books at this shop.
The taxi stopped, and Dong Xuebing alighted. The lights in the shop were mostly off except for a small light. He quickly walked to the wooden door and knocked on it. “Boss Jia, Boss Jia…… Don’t close so early. I am Xiao Dong.”
Creak…… A middle-aged man with a mustache opens the door. “Xiao Dong? Why are you here?”
Dong Xuebing smiled and asked. “Can I speak to you inside? It is not convenient here.”
Boss Jia laughed. “Sure. But my business is not good this year, and I have no intentions of hiring.”
“It is not about hiring.” Dong Xuebing stepped into the shop, and there was a strong scent of books.
Boss Jia switched on the lights again. “If you are minutes later, I would have locked the door and went to bed. What’s the matter? Why are you so secretive?”
Dong Xuebing was close to Boss Jia and did not stand on ceremony. He sat on a Qing Dynasty replica official chair and wiped the water stains on the table before taking out all the antique books from his bag. “I am here to sell you these. Errr…… I am short of cash recently, and these are all my family’s collection. Name me a price.”
Boss Jia stroked his mustache. “Antique books?”
“Yes.” Dong Xuebing picked a few books and placed it on the table.
“Hohoho…… You kept all the good stuff for yourself. You should have shown me this good stuff in the past. Com, show me what you have there.” Boss Jia wore his spectacles and sat beside Dong Xuebing. He picked up one of the books on the table and start to examine it. “Wow…… ? These are 4 are Qing Dynasty blocked printed books? These are good stuff.”
“How much is it worth?” Antique books were different from other antiques. Because of the high production cost, there were very few fakes around. This was why Dong Xuebing asked for the value straight.
Boss Jia stroked his mustache again. “Hmmm…. it is still in good condition. It should be worth about 4,000 RMB. Eh? Why is the book damp?”
“Ah…… It must be I had kept it in a box at home for too long and did not bring it out to air it.”
“Ok. What else do you have? Let me see.”
Dong Xuebing took every out and placed it on the table. “Give me a good price for all these. If your offer is too low, I will not sell it. Hahaha.”
Boss Jia laughed. “You brat. Since you are the one selling these books, I will surely give you a good price.”
Dong Xuebing did not believe him. Which businessman is not interested in making more profits? But he knew Boss Jia for quite some time, and he knew Boss Jia will not lowball him.
Boss Jia starts to examine the books. “Oh…… This have some missing chapters and pages. The condition is also not very good. Look at this corner. It is damaged by insects. This book is not worth a lot. 800 RMB? At most, it’s worth about 1,000 RMB…… Wow…… This is a Song Dynasty block-printed book? ? This is good. Although there is only one chapter, the Song Dynasty block printed books are rare. This should fetch about 6,000 RMB……. ? I will offer 5,000 RMB for this……”
Dong Xuebing was calculating the total in his heart.
At last, Boss Jia looked at the last book. When he opened it up, he took in a deep breath. “Tang Dynasty scripture…… ?” He looked at Dong Xuebing in shocked. “You have kept this book in mint condition. This is great. Where did you get this from? Your family’s heirloom?”
Dong Xuebing smiles. “I am also not sure.”
Boss Jia sees that Dong Xuebing was not willing to tell him, and he did not continue to ask him. He sighed. “This Tang Scripture…… I will offer you 80,000 RMB.”
Dong Xuebing also knew a bit about antique books. He knows should worth more than this. “100,000 RMB.”
Boss Jia shook his head. “I cannot offer 100,000 RMB. That’s the auction price.”
Dong Xuebing starts to bargain. “80,000 RMB is too low. How about this? I will not bargain for the rest of the books and follow whatever prices you set. But you have to give me a bit more for this Tang Scripture.”
Boss Jia thought for a while and said. “90,000 RMB is the highest.”
“…… Ok! Deal!”
“Wait a while. I will go and get the cash.”
These few books were sold for more than 110,000 RMB!
With Dong Xuebing’s savings of about 100,000 RMB, his total assets had reached 220,000 RMB!
This was an amount Dong Xuebing did not even dare to dream about!