Original Content The Lute on the High Street

Original Reddit Post: The Lute on the High Street

Author's Note:
I haven't written anything in a while, and when I saw this in my archives I thought it might fit in this community. It's not typical HFY, but I reckon it still shows the good in humanity. Enjoy!


James H. Williamson was walking down the high street, late afternoon sun glinting off the windows of store fronts lining the cobbled street, when something caught his eye.

To his left was a pawnshop, with a large glass window, showing off the wares within. Tucked in behind other wares was an old lute, hidden as though the shop didn’t really want to sell it.

Williamson recognized it instantly, its shape etched into his mind from the years his grandfather played it in the evenings. For years, he had wondered what had happened to it after his grandfather passed away, and now he finally knew. He also knew he wanted his grandfather’s lute back.

Having made his decision, he turned and pushed open the door to the pawnshop.

As soon as he entered the shop, the musty scent of antiques hit him, bringing back memories of his grandfather’s cluttered old house that he stayed in in his youth. Williamson carefully walked up to the desk, where an old man was seated, avoiding the shelves of trinkets that filled the room.

He looked up at Williamson over his glasses, and said in a low, gravelly voice, “Good morning, what can I do for you today?”

“I was wondering if that lute is for sale?” Williamson replied, slightly nervous.

“Ah yes, that’s a good lute. I don’t play myself mind you, but I’ve had a few musicians inquiring about it.”

“So how much do you want for it?”

“Well, I guess I could sell it to you for fifty pounds,” the old man replied.

“FIFTY POUNDS! That’s ludicrous!” Williamson thought, trying to keep a straight face. There was no way he could ever afford that. The most he had ever had was fifteen pounds and he lost that playing cards.

“I could probably go down to forty pounds…” the old man said, evidently seeing the despair in Williamson’s face.

An improvement, but still not enough. Williamson only had ten pounds to his name, and no easy way to get any more.

“I’ll be honest with you, I can’t go any lower than thirty pounds – I’ve got plenty of other people willing to pay the full fifty.”

“I haven’t got that much at the moment, but can you hold it for me until tomorrow?” Williamson replied.

“I’ll see what I can do, but if I get a good enough offer I can’t guarantee anything.”

Disheartened, Williamson turned towards the door, and as he was leaving, something caught his eye. On a table beside the door was an old clock, engraved with intricate patterns. Beside it was a sign that read:


Williamson recognised the model from when he used to help his grandfather in his workshop, repairing all kinds of trinkets for people. This particular model was quite rare; he remembered his grandfather telling him that only one hundred of them were ever made. In working condition, it would be worth easily sixty pounds.

More importantly, he knew how to fix it.

Williamson picked up the clock, turning back to the old man.

“Actually, I’ll take this clock,” Williamson said to the old man.

“Does that mean you don’t want the lute?” the old man replied.

“No, no, keep it on hold please.”

“That’ll be ten quid then, good luck getting it working again.”

Williamson handed over the money, and left the store, hoping the clock wasn’t too damaged. When he arrived home, he set the clock down on his table, lit a lantern, and set to work.

Opening the clock, everything appeared to be in working order. The mainspring wasn’t broken, and everything else appeared fine. He carefully removed the backplate, revealing the cogs. All appeared fine, until he noticed a small screw lodged between two cogs, jamming them.

Using a pair of old tweezers, he carefully removed the screw. He then replaced the backplate, careful to not move the cogs. Once this was done, he wound the clock up, and placing his ear to it, heard the rhythmic ticking that signified that it was working. He turned it around, and sure enough, the second hand was moving.

Looking out the window, he saw that it was dark, and he would have to wait until the next day to get the lute.

The next morning, as the sun rose over the horizon, Williamson was leaving his house, with the clock under one arm. Having left it running all night, the hands had moved – it was definitely working.

The walk to the pawnshop didn’t take long on the empty morning streets, and soon he was pushing the door open. He walked to the table where the old man was seated.

“You’re up early, I’ve only just opened the shop,” the old man said, almost questioningly.

“I wanted to get here before anyone else, in case someone bought the lute before me,” Williamson replied, nervous the old man wouldn’t accept the clock as a trade. “I was wondering if you would consider a trade for this clock, now that I’ve fixed it?”

“I guess I could. It definitely works then?”

“Yes, it just had a screw jammed in the cogs.”

“Well here’s your lute,” the old man said, lifting the lute onto the table, and taking the clock to inspect.

“Thank you, I hope you have a good day,” Williamson replied, turning to leave with the lute.

“Wait, wait, I haven’t paid you properly for the clock.”

Williamson turned back to the man.

“Wasn’t the lute payment?” he asked.

“Oh no, the clock is worth far more than the lute. Here, take twenty pounds, that should be enough,” the old man said, holding out the money.

“Thank you… but I just don’t think I can take the money, after all, it can’t be worth that much.”

“Maybe not to everyone, but this clock has been in my family since before I was born. To me it is worth far more than twenty pounds and a lute. It is me who should be thanking you,” the old man replied with a smile.

“I do hope you have nice day, and I am glad to have been of service,” Williamson replied.

“A nice day to you as well,” the old man called out cheerily as Williamson walked to the door.


If you have reached this point, thank you very much for reading. It's not your typical HFY, but if you enjoyed please do upvote, and leave your thoughts down in the comments.