“You do realise that this is a viola, kid?”
“What?” you stutter.
Mr. Cooke pushes the larger of the violins towards your face.
“You see this bigger one? Its highest string, there, that’s too low-pitched, and too thick a fibre, to possibly be a violin. Its fingerings are too widely spaced for it to be a violin either. You should have tried playing them to notice the difference. By the way, where are the bows for these? They would be worth a deal more if the instruments were playable.”
You stand, open-mouthed, staring at him.
“Don’t you already sell instrument bows?”
“I do. I was just saying it if you wanted to be given more money…”
“I don’t have the bows.” You resist the temptation to say ‘so there’ and stick your tongue out at your greedy landlord. You’re not a violinist (or violist) so you wouldn’t have been able to play the instruments, despite Mr. Cooke’s ‘advice’.
“Well!” Mr. Cooke says, with a look on his face that shows he’s displeased.
“How much will you buy them for?” you ask, hoping that he doesn’t notice the desperation in your voice. You know that he knows you need the money.
“Okay, I’ll take them off your hands for £100 seeing as they seem in good condition, even without their bows. They could be useful to me in any case.”
“Make sure you keep them together…” you say, mostly automatically. It seems an odd thing for you to say, but necessary.
“Of course,” Mr. Cooke replies arrogantly, as though he knows the most about violins/violas, “This pair belongs together.”
He takes the stringed instruments and vanishes into the backroom, returning a minute later with a cheque for you. Thanking him shyly, you wait until you are out of the shop and out of his sight before you punch the air. Yes! Some money for your rent. Maybe things aren’t going so badly after all.