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“It’s due to go up for auction in two months, but we would be willing to accept an outright option at twenty million.”
From its beautiful contour to its fine detail, the first word to come to mind; exquisite. A true work of master craftsmanship. But Peter, a distinguished older gentleman, hadn’t travelled over a thousand miles for a Stradivarius.
“Exquisite,” Peter replied, “but I’m actually here for another violin you recently came in possession of. I called earlier.”
Slightly perplexed, the dealer of luxury goods glanced at his record book. “Ah, yes, Mr. Lundstrom. One moment, please, I’ll have a look in the back.”
With the utmost of care the Strad was closed up tight and taken away, a couple of minutes later the dealer returning with a tone of distaste. “I’m afraid there’s been a mistake, Mr. Lundstrom. This… fiddle, is the only other piece we have at the moment. My sincerest apologies. Sometimes, very rarely, mind you, we unintentionally acquire a less than stellar item. Perhaps-”
Peter reached out. “Please, may I?”
This time it was he who displayed such a gentle touch, the poor man’s violin about a hundred and fifty years younger than the Strad yet appearing more weathered. He turned the instrument over and read with a nostalgic whisper the name carved into its back. “Ingalls.”
“Is that the name of the crafter,” the dealer asked. “I’ve never heard of him.”
With such reverence Peter turned the violin back over and just stared. At its body, its neck, its strings. “Crafter of violins, no. Crafter of the man standing before you, yes.”
Beginning to notice the sentimental value Peter was starting to display the dealer’s salesman nature began to show. “I’m sure we can come to a fair price, Mr. Lungstrom.”
“Indeed, we already have,” Peter replied as he took his eyes off the violin long enough to show he was not one to haggle with. “A grand. Already confirmed over the phone.”
The dealer looked back at his record book, spotted the $1k written within the margins.
“Of course, Mr Lungstrum. May I ask, what makes this piece so special?”
Peter looked to the box the violin called home, lightly running his fingertips over it and the old pillow inside used for cushioning before picking up the bow and softly placing it on the strings of its counterpart.
With closed eyes Peter began to play a few notes, the level of emotion across his face not dared interrupted by the dealer.
He opened his eyes and again affixed them down upon the treasure in his hands.
“This violin, this fiddle, belonged to Charles Ingalls, a man of integrity beyond reproach.
“When I was a mere boy my father sent me to a rural town known as Walnut Grove for a summer, to get, in his words, ‘a sense of values’. My uncle owned a store out there, so I stayed with him for a few days, but for some reason I can’t recall, more than likely having to do with my mischievous behavior, I was sent to work on his friend Charles’ farm.
“Mind you, for a privileged preppy this was no day at the park, calluses and blisters, working from sunup to sundown, it was a world I wasn’t used to. But before long I was shown something else I wasn’t used to; love.
“Although he wasn’t kin, Charles Ingalls, who I started calling Uncle Charles, was more of an uncle, a father, a anything I ever had before this time. And it was in that little house on that prairie where he and his family taught me the value of hard work, true character, love.
“They didn’t have much. In fact at times they hardly had anything at all, Uncle Charles pouring out through this fiddle their hardships which seemed insurmountable, the level of perseverance shown unimaginable, all endured with an eternal optimistic spirit, ending each evening’s gathering with uplifting melodies that would propel one to a hope of a better tomorrow.
“This has within it the soul of The Ingalls Family, my dear boy. Sure it lacks the perfected detail which can be found in one of your Stradivarius’, but this is precisely what makes it special, being an actual embodiment of the human condition.
“I’ll take it.”
Written for the Writers Unite fb group