Chapter 149 – Transferring the Artwork
These past few days, Chen Qing had been feeling rather frustrated. The question of who had bought Chen Li’s painting at the Dream Cup auction had been gnawing at him. With Secretary Wu’s birthday banquet approaching, Chen Qing found himself in a perpetually irritable state.
It wasn’t that Chen Qing cared deeply about the painting, to be blunt, if it weren’t for this matter, he would have simply considered Chen Li’s paintings as trash and discarded them without a second thought.
The reason Chen Qing was so bothered by this and attached so much importance to it was that it was a task assigned by Chen Shihuai. To showcase his capabilities to Chen Shihuai, Chen Qing needed to resolve this matter perfectly.
However, solutions were rarely so simple. The people attending the auction that day were either wealthy or influential. Anyone who not only took an interest in Chen Li’s painting but also paid a hefty price for it had to be well-off, to say the least, and wouldn’t be short on funds.
Furthermore, the confidentiality of the Dream Cup auction was impeccable. If the buyer chose not to reveal their identity, no one, except the organizers of the Dream Cup and the auction, would know who the buyer was. The fact that the person who had acquired Chen Li’s painting, Yi Yi, refused to disclose their information undoubtedly made Chen Qing’s task much more challenging.
For the past few days, Chen Qing had been moving between Shanghai and Beijing. Rumors suggested that the painting was in another province, so Chen Qing immediately dispatched someone to contact the individual mentioned in the rumor, but it turned out to be a dead end.
As the day of Secretary Wu’s birthday banquet approached, Chen Qing grew increasingly restless. However, he couldn’t bring himself to go to the Wei family, pleading for Chen Li’s return to the Chen family. Thus, the matter remained unresolved.
Chen Shihuai inquired about it several times, and every time, Chen Qing stammered out the results to him. As a result, whenever Chen Shihuai saw Chen Qing these days, his expression wasn’t particularly pleasant. Rumors started circulating within the Chen family that Chen Qing had angered Chen Shihuai and that they should keep their distance from him for a while.
This had infuriated Chen Qing, yet he found himself powerless.
In the end, left with no other option, Chen Qing could only muster the courage to visit the Wei family again.
Chen Qing was welcomed into the Wei family by a servant. Upon hearing that Chen Qing was here to see Wei Chen, the servant’s face was filled with apology.
“Young Master Chen, I apologize sincerely. Young Master Chen left for the capital three days ago,” the servant explained.
“Went to the capital?” Chen Qing was somewhat skeptical. He had heard that Old Master Wei had handed over the A Zone project to Wei Chen, so how could Wei Chen have gone to the capital now? Could it be that he had abandoned the project? Or was it just that he didn’t want to see him and had instructed the servant to say so on purpose?
“If Young Master Chen doesn’t believe it, you can personally call Young Master Chen and ask him. He’s truly not at home right now,” the servant responded, sensing Chen Qing’s disbelief. The servant continued, looking calm and not appearing to be lying.
Chen Qing was half-convinced, half-doubtful. “Did Achen mention when he’ll be back?”
“I don’t know about that,” the servant replied.
Chen Qing’s expression wasn’t pleasant. He turned and left the Wei residence. Anger surged within him, and he pulled out his phone, intending to call Wei Chen and question him. However, his hand hesitated over the dial button, and he withdrew it. He knew that calling Wei Chen now would only be inviting humiliation upon himself.
Wei Chen had changed. He had changed completely without any prior warning, making Chen Qing feel extremely unfamiliar. Moreover, he sensed that Wei Chen was gradually distancing himself from him. He could no longer catch up with Wei Chen’s pace.
This realization frustrated Chen Qing even more. He wanted to do something to vent his emotions, but this was still the Wei residence, and any form of outburst would be inappropriate.
Right at that moment, Chen Qing’s phone rang. It was a call from Wu Zikang.
“Zikang, have you found the person?” Chen Qing asked with a hint of urgency in his tone.
“Yes, I found him. And after talking to him, he’s willing to cooperate,” Wu Zikang’s voice carried a sense of excitement. After all, they had been searching for this person for days, and they finally located him.
“Where is he?” Chen Qing inquired, the frustration from before dissipating due to this news.
“In Beijing. He’s here on a business trip, and my team has made contact with him. We’re both on our way to Beijing,” Wu Zikang explained.
“Good, keep him stable for now. I’ll be there soon,” Chen Qing said before hanging up the phone, his steps quickening.
When Chen Qing arrived in Beijing, it was already evening. However, when he met with Wu Zikang, he was met with disappointment. Wu Zikang shook his head sadly and said, “By the time I arrived, Mr. Wang had already left Beijing.”
Chen Qing’s hopes were instantly extinguished. He thought about the expression on his grandfather’s face when he heard this news. In his frustration, Chen Qing angrily slammed his phone down and let out a curse, his demeanor gloomy.
“Aqing, don’t be too angry. Even though we can’t reach Mr. Wang right now, we’ve managed to obtain his contact information. In the next few days, if we put in more effort, Mr. Wang will surely be impressed by us and decide to sell us the painting,” Chen Qing couldn’t do much except hold onto this thread.
When they attempted to contact Mr. Wang again, they discovered that he was from the same city, Shanghai, and had returned there after leaving Beijing. This news was relatively good for both Chen Qing and Wu Zikang, as having Mr. Wang in Shanghai meant they wouldn’t have to travel around.
Without even taking a sip of water, Chen Qing turned around and headed directly back to Shanghai. However, Chen Qing still maintained some vigilance; in the car, he confirmed Mr. Wang’s identity and details with Wu Zikang.
“Zikang, are you sure this Mr. Wang is the one who bought the artwork from that artist?” Chen Qing asked.
“Rest assured. I used my connections to ask the Dream Cup staff. It was indeed Mr. Wang who collected the painting that day. I also saw a series of documents Mr. Wang sent me. I consulted a lawyer with these documents, and the lawyer confirmed their authenticity.” Wu Zikang wasn’t a fool. Naturally, he would verify everything before notifying Chen Qing.
Only then did Chen Qing feel at ease. With all the paperwork in order, there couldn’t be any mistakes.
After Chen Qing and Wu Zikang returned to Shanghai, the moon was already hanging high in the sky, and the night was rolling in.
Chen Qing had Wu Zikang contact Mr. Wang once again. Mr. Wang declined their meeting for today, citing that it was too late. However, he agreed to meet tomorrow and mentioned that other people were also interested in buying the painting, indicating that there were other potential buyers who shared his preferences.
This wasn’t surprising to Wu Zikang and Chen Qing. After all, Secretary Wu’s birthday banquet was approaching. Many people had gotten wind of Secretary Wu’s preferences and were interested in catering to them. Therefore, it was safe to assume that they were not the only ones interested in acquiring the painting.
Chen Qing immediately promised that he was willing to pay whatever price it took; he simply had to have that painting.
With the agreement reached and a meeting time set, Chen Qing’s mind was put somewhat at ease.
However, Chen Qing didn’t inform Chen Shihuai about this matter. After all, they hadn’t secured the painting yet. Additionally, Chen Qing knew that Chen Shihuai didn’t like hearing about things that weren’t a hundred percent confirmed.
The next day, in order to demonstrate sincerity, Chen Qing and Wu Zikang arrived at the agreed location early. After waiting for half an hour, they finally saw Mr. Wang arriving late.
Chen Qing felt that meeting Mr. Wang this time was as challenging as Liu Bei’s three visits to the thatched cottage. It was filled with difficulties.
“Mr. Wang, hello,” Chen Qing greeted as Mr. Wang approached, refocusing his attention.
“Young Master Chen,” Mr. Wang smiled, maintaining a dignified demeanor, without feeling inferior just because Chen Qing was from the Chen family.
Even though all the formalities were in place, Chen Qing continued to observe Mr. Wang. The man appeared to be around forty years old, with an open and extraordinary bearing. He didn’t seem like someone who would engage in deceit or fraud.
Both parties had a favorable first impression of each other, and the subsequent conversation flowed smoothly. Even during the negotiation of the price, Chen Qing’s generosity startled Mr. Wang.
“Young Master Chen truly lives up to the Chen family’s reputation; your generosity is truly remarkable,” Mr. Wang remarked, somewhat taken aback by the price of 30 million.
“It’s merely my sincerity,” Chen Qing chuckled, his gaze slightly proud.
“Then, let’s make the deal,” Mr. Wang agreed readily and took Chen Qing to his house to retrieve the painting.
Chen Qing was naturally willing, as this presented an opportunity to further assess Mr. Wang’s authenticity.
Mr. Wang’s house was located in the outskirts of Shanghai. It was a three-story small villa, not overly luxurious, but the design was quite appealing.
As Chen Qing, Wu Zikang, and Mr. Wang entered the villa, they were immediately awed by the various paintings hanging on the walls. Each painting was devoid of any dust, indicating that the owner cared deeply for them.
Chen Qing and Wu Zikang exchanged glances and nodded at each other, finally feeling assured about Mr. Wang.
Unaware of Chen Qing and Wu Zikang’s suspicions, Mr. Wang led them to the room where Chen Li’s painting was displayed. When he saw the painting, a look of fondness appeared in his eyes.
“I hadn’t originally intended to part with this painting, but your sincerity has moved me. Those willing to invest so much for it, I believe you will take good care of this painting,” Mr. Wang emotionally caressed the frame, as though bidding a final farewell to the artwork.
Chen Qing and Wu Zikang remained silent. They couldn’t quite comprehend Mr. Wang’s sentiment. In their eyes, this was an ordinary, utterly unremarkable painting, not something to be nostalgic about.
After a heartfelt farewell to the painting, Mr. Wang’s attendants carefully loaded it onto Chen Qing’s car without a word about the money, showing a sense of trust.
Naturally, as the young master of the Chen family, Chen Qing wouldn’t engage in anything that would attract gossip. Once the painting was loaded onto the car, 30 million yuan was added to Mr. Wang’s account.
With money and goods exchanged, the transaction was concluded.
As Chen Qing and Wu Zikang drove away, Mr. Wang immediately checked his account. Seeing the additional funds, a satisfied smile graced his face, but upon closer inspection, a hint of mockery seemed to accompany it.
The story of Liu Bei’s three visits to the thatched cottage is a significant episode from the Chinese historical novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” written by Luo Guanzhong in the 14th century. This novel is based on the historical events of the late Eastern Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms period (circa 184-280 AD).
Liu Bei was a warlord and a central figure in the novel, known for founding the Shu Han kingdom during the chaotic Three Kingdoms era. The story of the three visits to the thatched cottage is a portrayal of Liu Bei’s humble and virtuous character, as well as his close relationship with the strategist Zhuge Liang.
The story unfolds as follows:
Liu Bei, then a wandering and struggling warrior, came across a thatched cottage in the countryside during a heavy rainstorm. Seeking refuge from the rain, he knocked on the door and was greeted by a man named Zhuge Liang. Zhuge Liang was a brilliant strategist and scholar, often referred to as “Sleeping Dragon” or “Fulong” due to his hidden talents.
Liu Bei was impressed by Zhuge Liang’s wisdom and character, and he revealed his own aspirations of restoring the Han Dynasty and bringing peace to the land. Zhuge Liang, however, tested Liu Bei’s sincerity by pretending to be disinterested and played a musical instrument instead of engaging in conversation. Liu Bei was determined and remained kneeling outside the cottage all night, demonstrating his dedication to his cause.
Liu Bei’s determination moved Zhuge Liang, and he finally invited Liu Bei into the cottage. They engaged in a deep conversation, during which Zhuge Liang shared his concerns about the unstable state of the realm and his hopes for a just and benevolent ruler. Liu Bei expressed his admiration for Zhuge Liang’s wisdom and wished to have him as an advisor.
This initial visit marked the beginning of a strong and lasting partnership between Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang. Liu Bei returned twice more to the thatched cottage, seeking Zhuge Liang’s counsel and forming a deep bond. Zhuge Liang eventually joined Liu Bei’s cause and became one of his most trusted advisors, playing a crucial role in Liu Bei’s campaigns and efforts to establish the Shu Han kingdom.
The story of the three visits to the thatched cottage showcases Liu Bei’s humility, Zhuge Liang’s exceptional intellect, and the unwavering dedication of both men to their shared goal of restoring peace and order to a war-torn land. This episode has become an enduring symbol of virtue, loyalty, and the pursuit of a just cause in Chinese culture and literature.