C57 – Donate
Old Master Zhang received assistance in exiting the vehicle.
He approached Su Ming at a slow pace, still feeling the excitement from earlier.
Acting on impulse, he had entered the car, but now his lower back ached, his legs throbbed, and he lacked the strength to walk.
Old Master Zhang hastily inquired, “These items are of utmost importance to us. Would you consider selling them to me? We’re prepared to offer a generous sum. I just hope you won’t entertain offers from others.”
“Mr. Su, you have the liberty to name your price. We’re willing to meet your terms.”
“Quick, fetch a chair for Mr. Su.”
“Standing under this scorching sun is unbearable. Fetch the large parasol.”
“Zhang, make a run to the neighboring convenience store and buy some ice cream, chilled watermelon, and iced water.”
“Mr. Su, my apologies. The heat today must be exhausting you.”
“Mr. Su, please take a seat in my car for a while. It’s air-conditioned.”
“I’ve got air conditioning in my car too!”
The elderly group nearly engaged in a dispute.
Su Ming observed them, uncertain whether to laugh or be perplexed.
A gathering of septuagenarians and octogenarians encircled him.
“Mr. Su, this item is sensitive to the wind. It’s inconvenient to leave it here. I have several boxes in my car. We can store it in one.”
“The box is at your disposal.”
The elderly gentleman continued, “I see a few more paintings here. Would you like to secure them as well?”
“Mr. Su, are you interested in selling the antique jade in your car?”
“I think the front of your car is dented. I’m willing to cover the repair expenses.”
“Your car appears a tad dusty. I’ll arrange for a cleaning.”
Su Ming hurriedly waved his hand and declined, “No need!”
He couldn’t bear the elderly men’s enthusiasm.
“As long as the price you propose is reasonable, I can sell these items to you.”
Su Ming offered a faint smile and said, “No need to get overly excited.”
The elderly men nodded hurriedly.
Su Ming suggested, “Furthermore, this may not be the best place for our discussion. How about we find a more suitable location?”
“You mustn’t leave surreptitiously!”
“We should sit in the trunk.”
“If you depart, what shall we do?”
They had worked hard to locate this treasure, so they needed to keep Su Ming engaged.
Su Ming felt somewhat helpless.
Su Ming chuckled, saying, “Rest assured, I won’t leave without your consent. Could you please direct me to a suitable parking spot? I’ll park there, and then we can continue our conversation.”
One of the elderly gentlemen nodded and suggested, “Let’s head to my estate. It’s only two kilometers away.”
Su Ming nodded and casually loaded the items into the car.
The elderly men were quite concerned about the safety of these objects.
If Su Ming weren’t the owner, they might have already engaged in a heated argument with him.
The security personnel at Antiques City had already received word of their arrival. A significant number of guards cleared a path through the crowd, allowing President Chen to drive the car, with Su Ming in the front passenger seat. The elderly gentleman who had spoken earlier occupied the rear seat and directed them.
It didn’t take long before they entered an expansive estate.
Soon after, a van pulled up.
Old Master Zhang and the other senior members disembarked from the van, one after the other.
Behind them was another vehicle, carrying their students and servants.
These individuals had brought numerous storage boxes and carefully packed some valuable antiques into the car. They carried the Bamboo Slips and entered the villa.
Inside the villa, President Chen stood behind Su Ming, choosing not to sit.
Since Old Master Zhang and Su Ming had prior acquaintance, he began, “We do not intend to impose, but these items hold great significance for us.”
“Certainly, we will not ask for them free of charge. Please name your price, and we will raise the funds.”
Old Master Zhang spoke with genuine sincerity.
Su Ming pondered for a moment, rubbing his chin.
Honestly, he had little interest in money.
Once money reached a certain level, it became just a number.
His primary reason for selling all these items was that his storage couldn’t accommodate them any longer.
“Well, these items are of no use to me. They would be better off in your hands, so I will donate these Bamboo Slips free of charge.”
As soon as Su Ming made this declaration, all the elderly gentlemen in the room widened their eyes, as did the young scholars standing behind them.
Had they misheard?
A free donation?
If it were an elderly gentleman in his seventies or eighties, it might be plausible, but this was a young man in his twenties.
In the prime of his life!
He had just declared that he would give it away for free?
“Mr. Su, this is not acceptable.”
An elderly gentleman nearby hastily responded, “These items are too precious. We cannot accept them for free.”
“Indeed. Set a price. Even if we have to sell our properties, we will raise the money for you.”
“Mr. Su, you cannot decide to donate or not. We would feel ashamed to accept them.”
The elderly scholars chimed in earnestly.
Su Ming smiled faintly and spoke slowly, “To me, these are merely bamboo and inscriptions I cannot decipher. But to scholars, they are priceless treasures, and they hold immense significance for our nation. I have one request: please share the findings of your research with the public.”
The elderly scholars were momentarily stunned.
They all marveled at the young man.
“This young man is truly extraordinary!”
“I can donate these items for free, but I intend to sell these antique jade pieces,” Su Ming added with a smile.
“That is not a concern. Rest assured,” Old Master Zhang replied. “How about this: if you’re comfortable with it, we will compile a list. If you leave these items with us, we will ensure you receive the highest possible price.”
“Alright, that sounds fine.”
The remaining details were easily sorted out.
When these dozen or so elderly scholars gathered, they paid no heed to anything else. Their focus was solely on the Bamboo Slips, even neglecting food and drink.
Su Ming’s assistants, comprised of young individuals and students, diligently recorded the details in a ledger.
The person overseeing the proceedings was President Chen.
As for Su Ming, the true owner, he reclined on the sofa and idly played with his phone, eventually drifting off to sleep after some time.