After a good night’s sleep, Li Du got a call from Hans right when he opened his eyes, asking him to come over. They were going to sell the boxes and their half of the roll of rawhide.
Having jogged over to Hannah’s little apartment, Li Du exclaimed, "You woke up rather early today! Didn’t you go out last night?"
Hans seemed irritated. "I was frigging angry last night. Hannah really doesn’t know how to take care of herself. That silly girl, dressed like that, does she think she’s from the red-light district?"
Li Du tried to calm him down. "Hannah isn’t a little girl anymore. She’s been out and around, and she was classmates with Stephen. I’m sure that she knows what she’s doing."
Hans was still resentful. "Let’s handle the stuff first. I need to think about Hannah’s problem properly."
The small boxes were sold off quite easily. General stores liked old, handmade, beautiful wooden boxes like that.
Kevin inspected and caressed one of the wooden boxes repeatedly. Then, he sniffed it. "This is good. At least two-century-old namwood. Looking at the style, it may date from the time of George the Third at the earliest."
Engraved on the box were some roses and the outline of a castle. But the engravings weren’t obvious as they had been done in a light hand.
"This is an antique?" Hans’s eyes lit up.
George the Third was King of England during the eighteenth century. He reigned from 1760 to 1801.
On the eighteenth birthday of George the Third, King George the Second gifted him with the large and opulent St James's Palace. The castle engraved on the box was the view of St James’s Palace as seen from the front, and was the key to evaluating the box.
Many people had seen the ancient-looking boxes during the auction. But because they had been unable to see the engravings clearly, nor recognize the wood, no one had been willing to run a risk for the boxes.
Kevin shrugged. "Kiddo, not everything that’s old is an antique. You can pick up any stone in the Rocky Mountains, and it’d probably be millions of years old."
Hans asked, "Then how much is this box worth?"
Hans caressed the box. "It’s made of namwood of the incense machilus type. This type of wood is quite precious, so it’ll bring up the value of the box. I guess that it’ll be able to sell for 1,000 dollars."
Li Du was curious. "How could you tell that it was incense machilus?"
He and Hans had done their research on it, but had been unable to find out the specific type of wood.
Kevin placed it under the sun. "Look carefully," he said. "The wood has a purple hue to it. Look at the beautiful grain. Sniff it. It has a unique fragrance. That’s a characteristic of incense machilus."
"Your best price is 1,000 dollars?" asked Hans.
Kevin shook his head. "No, I meant that I can only sell it for up to 1,000 dollars. Not buy it at 1,000 dollars. I’m only willing to give you 500 dollars for it."
Hans exclaimed, "Don’t be too greedy, mate!"
Kevin just shrugged. "These boxes aren’t easy to sell. It may just become old stock if I were to buy it. I don’t dare take a large risk."
"Then we won’t sell it to you. Perhaps you know, but we Chinese love namwood. If we can get in contact with some rich Chinese people, we’ll be able to sell it for a higher price."
At this, Kevin laughed. "You are right! The Chinese like namwood, but the species they favor is silkwood and not incense machilus. Alright, for the sake of your parents, Hans, I’ll give you 600 dollars for this box."
"A 200-year-old namwood box for just 600 dollars?!" Hans wasn’t satisfied.
"The box isn’t that well made," Kevin said. "It’s not a work of art! Even if it were 400 years old, it still wouldn’t be worth much. If it had been carved more elaborately, or if it had a portrait on it, 60,000 dollars wouldn’t be a problem!"
Li Du and Hans exchanged a glance. "Six hundred fifty dollars!" Hans insisted.
They had asked around at other shops before this. The highest price that other general stores were willing to give them had been 500 dollars.
Kevin waved a hand. "Fine, fine. I’ll close an eye—take the rest as spare change for Hannah. Six hundred fifty dollars it is."
He took out his wallet and prepared to count out the money. Hans chuckled and stopped him. "No need to rush."
Li Du laughed along with him. The two of them moved the other boxes down from the trailer. Kevin stared at the pile of boxes. "You b*stards, so many? Then the price of 650 dollars won’t do."
"Don’t you know that antiques are more valuable if they’re rare? Such a large number of boxes means that they’re produced in bulk. How can such things be valuable!?"
Hans smiled slyly. "Sorry. Not everything that’s old is an antique. These are chests! A set of them! The more there are, the more valuable!"
Kevin shook his head and sighed painfully. "I’ve really done it today."
They sold the twenty-five boxes for 16,500 dollars. Just this income alone made them want to jump for joy.
This had been an unexpected piece of fortune. They hadn’t realized that the boxes were so valuable.
Of course, the other treasure hunters hadn’t either. Otherwise, they would have jumped at them even without considering the antique clocks.
They sold the raw cowhide to a leather shop for 500 dollars. With that, they earned a total of 17,000 dollars.
All they had to do now was sell off the antique clocks. But they couldn’t sell them off just like that; they needed an expert to appraise them first.
They discussed the matter and decided that they wouldn’t immediately sell the clocks. They would put an advertisement on the internet to test the waters first.
Li Du had expected Hans to go womanizing again after all this. Instead, Hans brought him to a supermarket, filling two large shopping carts to the brim.
Li Du was confused. Staring at the toys, sweets, detergent, DVDs, bread and snacks in the carts, he asked, "What are you doing?"
"I’m going to visit some people," Hans replied.
The two carts of goods cost 2,500 dollars. The cost had mainly been due to a bunch of children’s milk formula and supplements for the elderly.
Having piled the items into the trunk, the battered pickup drove toward the suburbs south of the city.
Flagstaff’s southern area was a quiet place, but the scenery was quite fine. It had some cottages and nursing homes. They stopped at the door of a social welfare center.
The social welfare center was called "Mother Mesa’s Home." It was about 6,500 square feet wide, with two small buildings within the fenced enclosure. A few children played near the door.
The children stood up and waved joyfully when they caught sight of Hans’s pickup. "Big Brother Fox, Big Brother Fox! Big Brother Fox is here!"
Hans jumped down from the car. Picking up a little black girl, he laughed. "Hey, Sally, little princess, are you waiting for your knight?"
The little girl replied, "Yes! Big Fox, are you my knight?"
Hans found a toy sword in the trunk for her. "Sally, you are your own knight," he said. "Look, I’ve brought Frostmourne, the blade of Prince Arthas for you!"
The little girl was ecstatic with the elaborate looking sword and held onto it tightly.
The other children crowded around Hans. He took out some toys and snacks, and handed them around one-by-one.
"Warren, this is your favourite Kentucky fried chicken. You can eat all you want today.
"Kent, you can stop looking. I know what you want—a Lamborghini, right? This is a Lamborghini Diablo. Be careful with it. It’s very fast. Obviously it uses a lot of battery too.
"Victoria, your comics. I bought the latest ‘One Piece’. You will love it."