Her stomach dropped when she heard the appraiser’s words. Apparently, she had underestimated that doorstep. There was a lot more to it than it seemed at first glance.
She followed his instructions, anxious to see what the enigmatic doorstep concealed in its interior. And when she found the note, she knew it: she had just made the biggest mistake of her life.
She thought it was just a regular doorstep. She had seen it countless times around her grandma’s house, and even though it was kind of cute, she had never thought much of it.
Now that her grandma had passed away, this doorstep seemed like just one of many items from the old house that wouldn’t be of much use. But in time, she would regret ever having judged it so lightly.
The protagonist of this story is a young woman named Alice from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She had recently lost her grandma; the loss had hurt her to no end. Alice and her grandma had shared a very special and deep bond since she was a child.
Now that she was gone, Alice felt like she had lost one of her best friends. Her grandmother had been a pillar of strength and a confidante, a source of support, hope, and comfort. She was the kindest and the most honest woman she had ever known, and there seemed to be no duplicities about her. At least, that’s what Alice thought.
Her grandma’s decease had come with a bittersweet perk for Alice; she had been appointed heir of her old house. She had spent plenty of moments in that house, of which she kept plenty of fond memories.
Now it was hers. And when she first went to the house to tidy up a little, make an inventory of all the stuff her grandma kept there, and decide what to do with it, the nostalgia hit her like a truck.
There were so many things in there! And for almost each of them, she could associate it with a specific memory of a moment she had lived with her grandma.
As she kept going through all the furniture and items that her grandma used to keep in the house, moments from the past kept replaying in her memory, from her early childhood to her teen years. She spent a while looking through all those things and strolling down memory lane. And suddenly, she saw it.
She noticed this old bronze statue that her grandma used as a doorstep. It was a beautiful piece; it represented the Greek goddess Thetis. She was the daughter of the sea god Nereus.
Her grandma had always been interested in ancient history and mythology. She would spend hours telling Alice tales about the old gods and heroes. But that wasn’t all.
As a matter of fact, she had passed on that interest to her. Alice had just graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Classics. It wasn’t the most employable degree in the world, and she was having a hard time finding a job as a recent graduate.
But she didn’t regret it. It was one of her greatest passions. However, sometimes she looked at her bank balance, and she wondered if she should have studied something else on the side. Little did she know that her luck was about to take a turn.
Even though most of that stuff had some degree of sentimental value to Alice, she decided that she couldn’t keep all of it. She would rather redecorate the house, as she intended to make it her place of residence.
Keeping all her grandma’s things around would make the place seem like a museum that constantly reminded Alice of her. But after all, the past was the past. So she decided that she would sell most of the old items. She posted ads online for a bunch of them, including the bronze doorstep. And after a few days, she received a message.
Someone from the other side of the country was interested in buying the doorstep. Just minutes after Alice had posted an ad selling it for $15, a mysterious prospective buyer had reached out.
Initially, Alice agreed to send it to him after he had made her a bank transfer. But then, she started having second thoughts. What if the doorstep was worth more than that? That wasn’t a crazy possibility, given that it was raising interest so early. So she decided to take it to an appraiser.
So Alice went to an antiques shop nearby. She told the appraiser the doorstep’s story and handed it to him. He spent a bit handling it, inspecting each and every nook.
And after a while, he found it. There was something about the doorstep that had gone unnoticed to Alice. He brought out the blacklight lantern to show it to her.
There was a hidden compartment at the bottom of the doorstep! Alice had never seen it. For all she knew, that was just a doorstep, and she didn’t know that her grandmother might have used it to store something in there.
The appraiser asked for her permission to open it. Alice agreed. Her heart was racing. What could there be inside that old Thetis statue?
It was no hidden treasure that Alice and the appraiser found inside the doorstep; it was two rolled pieces of paper. Both of them seemed pretty aged, but one more significantly so than the other.
One’s tone was yellowish, probably from the times when Alice’s grandma was young, while the other one had a brownish tone. It seemed a lot older. The appraiser took them out and handed them over to Alice.
Alice unrolled the yellowish piece of paper first. Nothing in the world could have prepared her for what she read on it. It was a letter for her grandma from many years ago.
It was signed by a woman whose name Alice had never heard of before. And from the contents of the letter, it seemed like she was a woman with whom her grandma used to be romantically involved before she married her husband, Alice’s grandfather!
This totally blew Alice’s mind. She could have never guessed about that side of her grandma! This changed her image of her in a major way. But that wasn’t all. She still had to check the brownish note.
She unrolled it and tried to read it, but she couldn’t understand what it said. She handed it to the appraiser so he could help her. And after reading it, he hit her with the news; the value of the doorstep was a lot higher than Alice thought.
The “doorstep” was really a statue crafted by one of the most famous French sculptors of the 19th century! And that wasn’t all: the note said that it had been awarded the first prize in one of France’s most prominent sculpture contests in 1857.
The appraiser told Alice that the doorstep may be worth around $30,000! And to think that she was this close to selling it for $15! Alice thanked the appraiser and brought the doorstep home, along with the two letters. She had plenty to think about.
Since the appraiser was a professional, Alice was at his mercy. For a moment, some troubling thoughts went through her mind.
She hoped that if there was any intrinsic value to the doorstep, the appraiser would be upfront about it. If he wasn’t, that would be problematic.
Alice’s biggest worry was being unsure of how to proceed. If he said it wasn’t worth much but offered to buy it, would she really ever know if he was being honest or not?
On the other hand, if he was upfront and it was worth something, how should she proceed then? Alice wasn’t sure. This was all becoming a little stressful.
Alice had heard many stories of people that struck it lucky with antique items that turned out to be real treasures. On the other hand, she’d heard just as many stories about people being swindled
Aside from the possibly priceless nature of the statue, Alice worried that it might be valuable in other ways. Her next conundrum was an even trickier one to navigate.
Since her grandma had chosen to hide the intimate notes inside the statue, she wondered if it might have meant a lot more to her.
If grandma did indeed mean for it to be kept as a family heirloom, Alice worried about letting it go too easily.
On the other hand, Alice’s inheritance had been a big help so far. However, she still did need extra income in order to be comfortable.
Her degree hadn’t quite paid off as she’d hoped, and the prospect of finding a valuable piece certainly was an exciting prospect. There was only one way to find out.
The appraiser had taken so much time examining the object. After studying the note, he went back and forth between it and examined the doorstep itself.
Alice was becoming a little impatient with expectation. All his scrutiny surely had to mean something. Or was she just being foolish like so many treasure hunters before her?
At one point, the appraiser even began consulting some notes he kept in a bag. The way his expression gradually grew intense and deep in thought made Alice more anxious.
After what felt like an eternity, finally put everything down and turned to Alice. “Okay, so here’s what you have,” he said.
It turns out that the “doorstep” was really a little statue. More importantly, according to the appraiser, it was crafted by one of the most famous French sculptors of the 19th century!
Alice was already excited by this news alone. She loved old works of art and was fascinated by historical artwork. However, the appraiser wasn’t done.
The appraiser had become a lot more animated now. Far from the stuffy, severe man he had initially been, now he spoke with a twinkle in his eye and a broad grin.
It was clear to Alice that he loved this kind of work and probably reveled in finding items like these. His excitement made Alice’s own expectations grow that much more.
As the appraiser went on, Alice became more intrigued and excited by the statue with every word. Not only had he been able to identify the piece and its time period, but the sculptor too.
As Alice listened to everything, she was intrigued. She began feeling sentimental, like she was already forming a bond with it. She wondered if it was just her that felt this way.
Now that Alice knew the true story behind the sculpture, she wondered if her grandma knew too. Her instincts told her she probably didn’t.
After all, she had been using it mostly as a doorstep. She realized now that it was probably just another trinket she’d picked up over the years and had no idea of its value. So what made it so valuable?
According to the appraiser, the note helped reveal the truth. It said that the piece had been awarded the first prize in one of France’s most prominent sculpture contests in 1857.
That meant the statue was well over a 100 years old. Alice listened intently as the appraiser went on. The best news was yet to come.
Even by the appraiser’s rudimentary first evaluation, he reckoned the pice was worth a lot. Alice was stunned when she heard just how much.
It had been locked up here for years and years. To think that grandma had a piece of history in her home all along was surprising. The appraiser’s evaluation confirmed that it was worth around $30,000!
Alice was stunned and ecstatic about this fact. She breathed a sigh of relief when she realized that she had almost sold it for $15. Alice thanked the appraiser. She was relieved at his honesty.
It was clear that he was a lover of antiques and not just someone who was out to enrich himself from the ignorance of others. Now, the question remained, what to do next?
Alice asked the appraiser for his opinion. He advised her that he could put her in touch with the right people and arrange a sale that would be to her benefit.
Thanking him again, she took the doorstep home, along with the two letters, and began dreaming of the possibilities. Aside from all the fond memories, her grandma had also given her the chance at a new beginning in life too.