Storage unit 240 contained the antique clocks. Within it were piles of boxes. At the doorway, there was some raw cowhide. Many treasure hunters were willing to venture a risk for it.
Raw cowhide wasn't cheap. Such a large roll could sell for at least a thousand dollars. And the wooden boxes in it had been arranged tidily and wrapped meticulously. They obviously contained something valuable, or they wouldn't have been kept so carefully.
Considering all this, the storage unit was worth quite a lot.
The fact that Hans and Li Du were determined to get it just emphasized its value. The other treasure hunters only knew that they had gotten information on the antique clocks from Andrew. But they didn't know how much information Hans and Li Du had.
So when Hans and Li Du bid for the unit, the others would definitely bid along with them. With the boxes and the meticulous packaging, one could easily guess what the boxes contained.
This was why they had asked to cooperate with The President's Umbrella. They couldn't do it themselves; countless people were watching them.
Luckily, there were many boxes in the unit, but there couldn't be that many antique clocks; in a way, the boxes had become a cover for the antique clocks.
The auctioneer raised his hand and said, "Everyone can see the large roll of raw cowhide at the doorway. We all know that raw cowhide is worth quite a lot. So I think the starting price of 400 dollars is quite reasonable. Is anyone willing to take it?"
"One thousand dollars!" The President's Umbrella maintained his image of a nouveau riche treasure hunter.
The alliance between Li Du, Hans, and The President's Umbrella had been made privately. They only had to sign their names on a document explaining the terms of the alliance. No one else knew that they were in cahoots.
Most of the people looked toward Hans and Li Du. Obviously, they had inferred from the beautiful wooden boxes that the unit had something to do with the antique clocks. However, they weren't sure…
Hans carried on bidding as if he hadn't seen them look at him. "One thousand one hundred dollars!"
Seeing him bid, many pairs of eyes lit up. They started scrutinizing the storage unit more closely.
The auctioneer pointed at him. Before he could say anything, the voice of The President's Umbrella rang out again. "One thousand five hundred dollars!"
Hans snorted. Just as he was about to make another bid, Li Du stopped him with a tug on his sleeve. Li Du shook his head. "That cowhide can only sell for up to one thousand dollars. Do you want to risk paying more than 1,500 dollars?"
"I just can't stand him," Hans grumbled. "Does he think that he's the only one with money?"
The President's Umbrella didn't even spare him a glance. His face remained as stern as ever.
The others who had been hoping to join in the auction gave up. With their little act, Li Du and Hans had managed to fool them into thinking that they had only bid for the cowhide.
If it was only for the cowhide, then it was just as Li Du had said—1,500 dollars was already quite risky.
But the world would never be short of treasure hunters willing to take risks. Someone placed a bid for 1,600 dollars.
Without missing a beat, The President's Umbrella raised his price to 2,000 dollars. More people pulled out, but some continued bidding, their eyes fixed on the wooden boxes. There would always be those with sharp eyes amongst the treasure hunters.
"Two thousand five hundred dollars. Very good. The price is now 2,500 dollars. Someone has bid 2,600 dollars. Okay, The President's Umbrella has bid 2,700 dollars…"
At 2,500 dollars, The President's Umbrella started bidding with smaller increments. At 3,000 dollars, he started hesitating before bidding.
Hans gave him the middle finger. "Hey, didn't you make over 10,000 dollars in Florida? Why are you giving up at just 3,000 dollars?"
The President's Umbrella looked at him coldly. "Four thousand dollars! I have more than enough money to spare."
Hans booed, flipping the middle finger at him again.
Some of those still bidding glared at Hans. It looked as if The President's Umbrella was being forced to bid at a higher price to save face in front of Hans and would take down the storage unit no matter what.
A bald, middle-aged man bid 4,100 dollars. The President's Umbrella immediately raised it by 400 dollars to 4,500 dollars. The next person bid 4,600 dollars, which The President's Umbrella brought up to 5,000 dollars without hesitating.
Seeing this, the other treasure hunters pulled out. Quite a few of them made throat-slash gestures at The President's Umbrella. "Go f*ck yourself!" someone cried out.
"Hey, sunglasses guy!" Li Du yelled. "Do you plan on buying up all the storage units?"
The President's Umbrella smirked. "I'll use all the cash I brought!"
Having secured the antique clocks, Li Du felt at peace. Their objective at this auction had been accomplished.
There were still four other storage units with some value, but he had no intention of participating in the auctions. They weren't worth much—maybe one or two thousand dollars each.
It would have been acceptable if he didn't have to share the profits. But now, he had to split the profit with not just Hans, but also The President's Umbrella. He'd get only a few hundred dollars—it wasn't worth it.
There was another reason—it would be evening by the time all twenty-five units were sold. If they were unable to clear the storage unit out at night, then they would have to come back the next day.
But the key to the storage unit would be working with The President's Umbrella. Li Du didn't trust him. What if he slipped off with the antique clocks during the night? They might as well just divide the antique clocks amongst themselves and be done with it.
The President's Umbrella was still interested in the other storage units up for auction, but Li Du shook his head. "The antique clocks are in storage unit 240," he said. "Do you want to go check them out?"
Since Li Du seemed confident, The President's Umbrella was optimistic. He said, "I'll take a look first. If the clocks really are in there, then we'll divide them amongst ourselves first. If they aren't there, then we'll keep going!"
Having paid and gotten proof of ownership of the storage unit, they opened it up and pulled out the huge roll of cowhide.
It was quite heavy. Two men could barely carry it.
They started opening the wooden boxes. "Be careful," Hans said. "These boxes are at least a hundred years old—they're works of art in and of themselves that we can also sell, so take care when opening them."
The President's Umbrella picked one up and shook his head. "No need to open this box. It's empty."
After moving out more than ten boxes, they finally found a heavy one. All three of them felt their spirits lift. They opened the box carefully. The antique namwood clock displayed itself.
The President's Umbrella chucked his sunglasses aside. Gritting his teeth, he said, "Yes! D*mmit, rushing all the way back from Florida was the right thing to do! Dear Lord, I've made it!"
Having moved all fifty-four of the boxes out, they started to discuss how they would divide the nine antique clocks between the three of them.
"Sell off the antique clocks and split the profits equally," Hans said. "That's the rule."
Li Du disagreed. "That's not a good idea. There are too many clocks and only two originals among them. The other seven are fake. Selling them will be a huge pain. God knows when we'll be able to get our hands on the money."
The President's Umbrella agreed. "So what should we do?"
"How about we test our luck?" suggested Li Du.
"Put them all back into their boxes. The first one who picks can take four, leaving five for the other party. How does that sound?"
The President's Umbrella hesitated. "It's too risky."
Li Du smiled. "It's going to be difficult to sell them in the short term. If we don't split them now, who will keep the clocks? You, or us? Frankly, we don't trust you."
The President's Umbrella pondered this for a long while, then nodded. "Fine. That's a good way to do it. Who goes first?"
"It's based on sheer luck," said Li Du. "The one who picks first can take four of them. The other party will go to the storage unit, put the clocks into the boxes, and place them randomly."
The President's Umbrella stared at him, suddenly bursting into laughter. "China Li, you really are a sly fellow."