s missing from the rim, but the overall pattern was well preserved.

“Hey, kid, what family are you from? This house is being torn down.
Don’t play here.
If you’re not careful you’ll fall and break something.” A man with an ill-tempered face came out.
When he saw Shen Shao holding one of the broken old bowls they were throwing away and didn’t want, he felt a little impatient.
“Take that bowl with you and run off and play.” If the kid fell down and knocked his head, it wouldn’t just cost him money for the medical bill, it would mean bad luck.
The man was tearing down his old house and preparing to build a new one.
Who wanted to invite that kind of bad fortune?

Shen Shao looked at the man, held up the bowl in his hand and asked, “Uncle, are you selling these bowls?”

When the man saw that Shen Shao was dressed in ordinary clothes and didn’t look like a child from a rich family, he scowled.
“You want to buy them? Give me twenty yuan and they’re yours.”

“Twenty?” Shen Shao took a handful of change from his trouser pocket and counted out twenty yuan.
“My grandmother likes bowls like these.
Does Uncle have a spare cardboard box? I’d like to pack some hay around them and take them back.”

When he saw Shen Shao actually take out twenty yuan, the man immediately smiled.
He helped Shen Shao find a box and some hay and even helped him pack the things and tie the box with twine.
“My grandfather’s generation left us these bowls.
Your elders at home will definitely like them.” The man was just throwing away some junk, but he was lucky enough to run into a stupid kid who was willing to pay good money for them.
He was happy to pick up twenty yuan for nothing.
After all, that money could buy several kilograms of pork.

When he saw Shen Shao struggling to carry the box, the man enthusiastically called his neighbor who owned a bike taxi, and even helped him negotiate a better fare.
The man breathed a sigh of relief when Shen Shao was gone.

He had no idea which family raised such a loser.
The kid saw a few useless jars and bowls and acted like they were treasures.
The man decided to keep the incident a secret so people wouldn’t say he cheated a child of his money.

After Shen Shao got the jars, he was worried he’d break them on his way home and ruin them, so he hired a car to take him directly back to Furong City.
Then he went to an antique trading company that had recently opened but would have a good reputation in the future.

Antique values had been rising since the 1990s.
In recent years, transaction prices continued to soar.
Although prices weren’t as terrifying as they became after 2010, there were plenty of local tyrants who’d recently made a fortune and wanted to fill their houses with antiques to show off their status.
As long as the things were genuine, there was no lack of buyers.

Nowadays, because not many people knew the value of antiques, they often sold them as scrap to whoever wanted them.
It was hard to say how many people would someday regret thinking old things weren’t worth anything.

Shen Shao knew the jars and bowls would greatly increase in value after 2010, but he couldn’t afford to wait that long.
He was short of money right now and he had no choice.

After he walked through the door of the antique trading company, the staff inside saw that a child had brought in something.
They thought he was trying to sell things he’d stolen from home, and they weren’t willing to do business with him.
But after Shen Shao told them his parents were gone and he had no money for school, they hesitated.
When they saw Shen Shao take out his official household registration book and primary school graduation photos, their doubts began to waver.
In the end, a staff member called Shen Shao’s primary school.
The employee didn’t say it was because Shen Shao wanted to sell antiques.
He said he was going to subsidize part of Shen Shao’s tuition and wanted to confirm his situation.

Ranked first in the class—mother committed suicide by drinking pesticide—father ran away with another woman, leaving a half-grown child to fend for himself.
When the people of the trading company heard all this, their suspicions vanished, leaving them full of sympathy.
A female staff member thought Shen Shao looked thin and weak.
She took out her own milk and biscuits for him, then urged someone to invite an expert to come in and identify the items.
If they were genuine, the staff would help Shen Shao get a good price.

After the expert finished the appraisal, everyone felt relieved, because the bowls and jars were not only genuine, they were products of the official kiln of the Xuande period of the Ming Dynasty.
That confirmed they were truly first-class examples of blue and white porcelain.

“There happens to be a major national auction tomorrow.
A lot of big shots from Xiangcheng and the capital are going to come.
If you’re not in a hurry, you should stay in Furong City for two more days.
If the items sell at auction, you can get the money immediately afterwards.” The clerk in charge of registering antiques thought Shen Shao looked like a well-behaved child and couldn’t help but reassure him.
“Don’t worry.
The expert said your antiques are in good condition.
You’ll definitely get a good price.”

Shen Shao smiled gratefully at the staff member and held a glass of milk as though he was too shy to drink it.
Right now he was a child with no money or power.
Even if he deliberately told others about his tragic history, he had nothing to be ashamed of.
The father who actually did those things wasn’t ashamed, so why would he feel ashamed as a victim?

Sure enough, Shen Shao aroused even more kind-heartedness from the staff members around him.
In addition, Shen Shao’s items were genuine, and after the auction concluded, the staff would receive a commission, which made them even more enthusiastic.
They even arranged for him to stay for free in a hotel under their company’s name.

Shen Shao didn’t stay in the hotel they arranged.
He found a nearby hotel instead.
Although it was more expensive, it was safer.

The next afternoon, as soon as he walked into the antique company, the staff greeted him warmly.
They told him his items had been admired by a bigwig from the capital.
The man spent 320,000 yuan to buy them at auction.

The price was a lot higher than the company’s estimate.
After the purchase was successfully concluded, the people who’d handled Shen Shao’s transaction rejoiced.
After all, the antiques they were responsible for had sold at a good price, and they would receive a share.


Shen Shao was surprised too.
He originally thought one hundred thousand would be good.
He never expected three times as much.

Wasn’t this a lucky break?


TL Notes:

steamed bread roll – 花卷 – huā juǎn – a steamed twisted roll

Spring Festival – 春节 – Chinese New Year.
Based on the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar, observance traditionally begins the evening preceding the first day of the year, through the Lantern Festival on the 15th.
The first day begins on the new moon that appears between 21 January and 20 February (Wikipedia)

Xuande period – 宣德年间 – The Xuande Emperor (16 March 1399 – 31 January 1435), personal name Zhu Zhanji, was the fifth Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigned from 1425 to 1435.
His era name “Xuande” means “proclamation of virtue” (Wikipedia)

bike taxi – 三轮车 – A type of hatchback tricycle designed to carry passengers on a for-hire basis.
It’s also known by a variety of other names such as cycle rickshaw, velotaxi, pedicab, bikecab, cyclo, beca, becak, trisikad, sikad, tricycle taxi, trishaw, or hatchback bike (Wikipedia)

the capital – 京城 – Jīngchéng – AKA Beijing.
The author is trying to avoid using the names of RL cities


Transliterated names, places, and titles—new in this chapter:

maternal aunt, auntie, aunt – 舅妈 – jiùmā – wife of mother’s brother

Furong City – 芙蓉市

Xiangcheng – 香城 – This is the name of a fictional city that sometimes appears in exam questions as a stand-in for Hong Kong

Xuande – 宣德

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