Tuesday, 29 March 2016

FREE STORY - The Seller


Taken from

The Legend Of Heliodor: Tales From The Realm 

The Seller

Finally the door opened and a busy mother juggling a crying baby and a milk feeder was huffing and puffing in the doorway.
                “Sorry to bother you, kind Madam, but I have with me to sell a fine set of…”
                “Oh, Sir, I have no time but thank you for taking the trouble to call.” The lady then pushed the door shut as the baby wailed.
                That was the last house in that small row. The seller walked along a clearing. There was another small row of houses a bit further along but between the rows was a narrow path that led up a slight incline to a large house. It looked dark and unlived in. The seller walked past towards the next row of houses but stopped and turned. You never know, he thought to himself, the way his luck was going, the one house he misses out would be the one house where he would have made a sale.
                The path was very overgrown with weeds trying to reach from one edge to the other. It looked like a path that hadn’t been walked along for a long time. The house was large and impressive despite the run down appearance.
                The seller wearily knocked and sighed expecting he had just wasted his time again. The door creaked open. Inside was too dark to make anything out. A waft of stale air was released and an old man lurked in the shadows, not venturing too far into the doorway.
                “Sorry to bother you, kind Sir, but I have with me to sell a fine set of cutlery knives and forks.” The seller forced a smile and held out a knife and fork with a black cloth underneath. The polished silver contrast well against the dark background and they looked stunning. “As you can see, kind Sir, these are quality silver and with a gemstone inlaid at the top of the handles, would be a lovely treasure for the dining table.”
                The old man didn’t speak but stared intently at the cutlery held before him while still remaining within the shadows.
                “I can see you are interested in the pieces I hold for they are part of a larger set. I have them in my bag if you would allow me to show them to you.” The seller was beginning to think his luck might change as he took the set from his shoulder bag while the old man inside watched quietly. “As you can see, kind Sir, each handle is adorned with a different sparkling gem. A set to behold that would brighten up any table. Dine like the King, I jest you not, for these are high quality instruments.”
                The old man certainly seemed interested and even started to venture further into the doorway to take a closer look. He still hadn’t said a word, just looking intently. Then he backed away a little. The silence was getting awkward but still he stood with the door open and still he couldn’t take his eyes off the jewelled cutlery. The seller didn’t want to appear rude but he needed an answer.
                “Why Sir, I know that this would be quite a purchase and I can see that you are keen,” the seller said as he put the set back into his shoulder bag leaving out the one he showed first, “So I’ll say that just for you, kind Sir, I could call back tomorrow, I’m only at the tavern by the market and this will give you some time. I don’t usually call back but for you, well you seem as though you are wanting these lovely pieces.” The seller put the knife and fork away and turned to go. When he was halfway down the path, he heard the door close behind him.
                The next day the seller returned to the large house and knocked again on the door. It opened and the old man lurked inside.
                “Good morning, kind Sir, I have called back as promised to discuss the fine quality cutlery set I showed you yesterday.” The seller stood in hope as the man inside stood to the side as if giving permission to come in. This was very promising, the seller thought, the old man is obviously very keen.
                As the seller went into the house he could see that it was dusty, old and dark. He followed the man to a sitting room where he was gestured to a chair. The chairs looked as though they hadn’t been sat in for a long time and a plume of dust clouded the stale air as he sat. The old man loitered with his usual silence.
                “Well allow me to show you the set again, properly this time,” the seller said as he got them out of his shoulder bag, “And yes, kind Sir, you may hold and inspect them if you wish.” He placed them on a low table by the chair.
                The old man moved close and gazed at the gems in the cutlery, he looked very interested indeed.
                “I don’t mind telling you, it’s nice to be with someone who knows quality when he sees it.” The seller sat back in the chair, “In fact if I’m honest it’s nice to talk to somebody. Being a seller I see a lot of people but it’s a very lonely life. The number of doors I get closed in my face,” he mused as the old man examined the cutlery, “I travel from town to town, settlement to settlement… it’s not an easy living I can tell you. I like the travelling though; ever since I lost my wife… wasn’t able to stay in my house, and then even the small town I am from seemed too painful to remain. So I started selling door to door and travelling around. Been all over Heliodor, met a lot of people, never actually talk properly to anyone though. I appreciate the time you are giving me now.” The seller rested his head back on the cushioned chair as the old man let him speak freely. “I sell all kinds of things, really, found this set of knives and forks in Travertine out east of the flatlands.”
                The old man broke his stare of the cutlery and looked at the seller, then returned to peruse the gems set in the handles.
                “Be sad to see these beautiful specimens go but they will be a nice addition to your table, kind Sir, and then I’ll find something else to sell.”
                The seller sat for a long time just talking and relaxing. The old man let him talk and so he spoke for ages in a way that he had never done so before. But it was getting late and the seller realised that he must be going.
                The old man hadn’t uttered a single word the whole time he had been there and all he had done was look at the cutlery set with interest, but despite his looking, the seller was still no nearer to a sale. The seller remained a while longer.
                “You’re not going to buy this cutlery set are you Sir,” the seller said after a long silence, “You certainly seem interested but you aren’t wanting these fine pieces are you,”  he continued but he didn’t feel disappointed, “You know it’s strange but it doesn’t matter, you have allowed me to speak like I have never spoken before. I feel a lot better after talking to you. You haven’t said anything but that’s alright because, kind Sir, you have listened, and you have heard my story without judgement or dispute. I thank you, kind Sir; you have made me feel so much better.”
                The seller packed up his cutlery set, bid the old man a fond farewell and left, heading for the tavern he had been staying at.
                That night the seller sat on a stool at the bar of the tavern and enjoyed a tankard of strong ale. He felt better than he had done for a long time.
                “Busy day?” The landlord asked as he dried a tankard or two.
                “I’ve had a very good day,” the seller replied as he took a gulp of the ale, “Been up at the big old house, the one with the overgrown path between the rows of houses just past the market,” he added.
                The landlord stopped what he was doing and looked at the seller. A few others in the tavern who had heard him also stopped and looked up.
                “Yes, been talking away to the old man that lives there.” The seller said.
                “The old man that lives there,” began the landlord as others were looking towards them, “Yes a skilled old man, metal worker you know, he once made a fine quality set of cutlery out of pure silver and inlaid the handles with a gemstone.”
                The seller almost spat out his ale.
                “He lost his wife and then in the same week he was robbed and the cutlery set was stolen, soon after that he killed himself in that big house. Been dead must be twenty years or so.” The landlord stated as all in the tavern were looking at the seller. “Let me get you another ale, you look as though you need it.”

If you liked this story then read more in Tales From The Realm


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