For a period of time after they were dug out of the ground, jade items, especially those buried close to corpses, would carry a faint fishy smell, no matter how they were cleaned, and this smell would remain a year after they were unearthed.
The two pieces of jade were already old with age, and now with this smell, those who knew the art would almost always conclude that they were from a raw pit.
After making sure the items were okay, Zhang Ermao hurriedly drove back to the city and headed straight for the antique street.
In the antique industry in Jinling, the business rules of working at sunrise and resting at sunset are still in place. In the words of people in the trade, one cannot trade in antiques when it is dark, because one is afraid of being hit by the dark, and the other is afraid of being robbed in the dark.
Therefore, the merchants and stall owners of the antique street basically start their business at dawn and close their stalls before dark.
Today was a Saturday, so when Zhang Ermao arrived at the Antique Street, it was already as busy as a vegetable market in the early morning.
Zhang Ermao was already an old man in Antique Street, and after following Hong Wu some time ago, he had left the area and never returned. Therefore, when he suddenly appeared, many people recognised him and greeted him warmly, “Brother Ermao, why are you free to come back today?”
“That’s right, Brother Ermao, you’re now a popular person beside Master Hongwu, why do you still have time to come and see us poor brothers?”
Zhang Ermao thought to himself, “When I used to cheat in the antique street, none of you looked up to me, who didn’t yell at me and talk about Zhang Ermao all day long? Now that I’ve joined Master Hong Wu, you’ve all started calling me Brother Ermao.”
Thinking of this, Zhang Ermao laughed and said to the crowd that had gathered around him, “I’m not going to lie to you all, but I’m no longer with Master Hong.”
“What?” The man who had just enthusiastically called him Brother Ermao immediately asked, “Zhang Ermao, you’ve been following Master Hongwu well, why did you suddenly say you were no longer with him?”
“That’s right.” Another man said, “Zhang Ermao, aren’t you better off following Master Hong than peddling these things in the antique street?”
A woman selling fake copper coins said with a smile, “Zhang Ermao, you didn’t make some mistake and were kicked out by Master Hong Wu, did you?”
Zhang Ermao waved his hand and said casually, “Don’t mention these things, I’m going to come back and set up my stall again.”
As he said that, he looked at the man who had greeted him first and said, “Zhao Laoshi, after I left, I lent you my stall free of charge, so now that I’m back, you should give me back my place.”
The man called Zhao Laoshi immediately waved his hand and said, “No, no, no, no, Zhang Ermao, when you left, you agreed that you would not come back to this antique street, so you let me use this stall, this man is a man, a spittle is a nail, you can’t go back on your word.”
Zhang Ermao laughed, “Lao Si, you think I’ve fallen from grace, don’t you? I might as well tell you that I left from Master Hong’s place, it was not Master Hong who drove me away, it was me, Zhang Ermao, who wanted to leave.”
“Blow it on you.” Zhao Laoshi bristled, “We’ve known each other for so many years, do I still not know you? When you pulled out of your stall to go with Master Hongwu, you didn’t know how excited and thrilled you were, and now you say you left Master Hongwu of your own accord, why do I believe you so much?”
Zhang Ermao laughed: “To tell you the truth, Zhao Lao Si, a good friend of mine has become rich in antiques, and now he has become a famous Hong Kong businessman, and he has asked me to work with him in antiques. This is not the kind of small-scale business that we used to do, but a business that specialises in selling antiques to Hong Kong bosses worth billions of dollars.
When they heard this, their eyes widened.
Zhao Laoshi exchanged glances with the others and said with a smile, “Brother Ermao, you’ve found a new way to make money, so you don’t want to work for Master Hong anymore!”
“Eh eh eh eh!” Zhang Ermao solemnly raised one hand, palm facing the crowd, and said seriously, “It’s not that I don’t despise Master Hong, as the ancients say, a good bird chooses a tree to live in, it’s just that Master Hong’s tree is not suitable for me, after all, I’ve been dealing with antiques for so many years, I’m still most comfortable in this business.”