Having concluded his business with the Old Man’s bank and paid his fee, the young man stepped out onto the sidewalk and into the short shadows of late morning.
Several days passed. Interspersed with the occasional customer who would wander through his shop’s door, the young man would investigate further the enigmatic time piece for its defect. Unfortunately, he hadn’t made much progress. Subconsciously, the young watch maker placed the brass cover and crystal face arranged beside each other. Out of curiosity, the young watch maker took up the clear crystal face and held it by its edge to peer at it more closely. Focusing on the crack he moved the small magnifying glass hanging from his spectacles into place where he the crack was not a crack, per se, but was rather superficial.
Looking up from the object, he stared into the distance as his mind questioned what his eyes were indisputably showing. Blinking, he looked again. No, the crack most definitely did not penetrate the full thickness of the crystal. This was no crack, it was a scratch.
The young watchmaker changed to a stronger magnification. Looking impossibly close, the young watchmaker saw the small tell-tale grooves within the “scratch” to discover machining. This could no longer even be called a scratch; it was an etching on the surface of the crystal face.
“Who in their right mind would mar such a perfect piece of crystal and then mount it within such a fine time piece?” The imperfection was purposeful? Why?
The young man set the piece back on the bench. With all his desire to learn more about the tiny machine, he had more pressing matters to attend to. He needed to travel to the next town over to deliver a grandfather clock back to its owner. He did not relish the trip. Yes, it was an opportunity for a change of scenery but this change of pace would come at a cost; he would be away from hearth and home for two and a half days.
The grandfather clock was back in its position in the owner’s drawing room with the young watch maker and the owner standing before it. Somehow the dark wood of the clock’s case accentuated the wood frames of the portraits within the room; it stood apart.
Standing with the owner back some distance from the clock to admire its placement, the young watch maker suddenly realized where the faint smell of pipe tobacco that had been coming from back in his shop: the grandfather clock was emanating the smell after so many years sitting in this very room. He could smell the sweet fragrance emanating from everywhere; the plush red couch, the area rug, the very wood paneling itself was soaked in the smell.
“You’ve done an excellent job, sir. My congratulations to you for such a perfect and imperceptible repair,” said the gentleman.
“Thank you, sir. It was indeed a pleasure to work on such a fine piece of art,” responded the watch maker.
“As to your fee, I am happy to pay it.” And with this, the gentleman left the watch maker’s side and sat behind his large desk where he pulled out a large, leather-bound ledger of accounts. He turned to the first blank page and wrote a quick note,
“Please remit to the bearer of this note the sum of 1,000 marks for services finely rendered.”
The gentleman then reached into the drawer to pull out a small stick of red wax and lit a small silver lighter under it to cause to drip a few drops of the red material at the bottom of the page. The gentleman then pressed the face of his cygnet ring into the wet wax and handed the folded heavy page to the young watch maker.
“Take this document to the First National Bank on Front Street here in town. Ask for the manager and give this to him. He will provide payment of your fee.”
“Thank you, sir,” the young watchmaker said as he took the paper in his hand.
“By the by,” the gentleman interjected, “I wonder if you might pay a visit to an acquaintance of mine here in town?”
“Of course, sir, why?”
“Oh, I’m sure it’s nothing. But he and I were speaking the other day downtown and he happened to mention that a family heirloom of his had ceased to function,” the old man said dismissively. “I would just like to do my own part in supporting such a fine young man such as yourself in his work, especially when you do such excellent work! Would you be interested in another commission?”
“Of course I would, sir. Thank you for the recommendation.”
“Wonderful!” said the gentleman. Still sitting at his desk, he quickly scribbled down an address, ripped the page and handed it to the young man.
Taking the scrap of paper, the young man looked down and read, ‘111 Emerson St. #287’
Looking up, the young man smiled, saying, “thank you again for the referral, sir. The hour is growing late and I should return to my room downtown before they lock the door. I will go here first thing tomorrow.”
“Wonderful. Godspeed and thank you again for the fine work.”
With that, the young man began his trip back into town.
End of Part Three