My name is Jeffrey Smith. I am an ancient musical instrument expert and engaged in the trading of ancient musical instruments. I live in Oxford. Because of working relationships, I have to go all over the world.
Six months ago, I was invited to Italy to attend a music festival. What I didn’t expect was that there was no famous musician at the festival. After two concerts, I was annoyed.
I am very happy when the festival is going to the last night. “I can go home tomorrow.” I thought. I did not attend several concerts, so I decided to attend the final one. When I arrived at the concert, the little orchestra was on the scene and I was ready to meet another boring evening.
After an hour, I looked at the watch impatiently. I made a mistake and I should not come. I decided to leave the next song as soon as I finished.
I saw it when the next song started. I don’t understand how I didn’t find it before. Perhaps it is because in this song, the violin plays a more important role. That’s right, the violin is Giordano. The rare treasure of Giordano! An expert in New York said that there are only 12 violins in the world. Now I know that the experts are wrong. I have found the 13th.
At the beginning, I noticed the sound. The sound quality of Giordano’s violin is pure, thick and deep, very different from other ancient violins. Although the Giordano violin is not as famous as the Stradivarius violin, it is more interesting to the experts. Like its unique sound quality, its construction is very different. It is said that the method used by the violinist Giordano to make the violin is very secret. He has a studio in Naples, where he has been making violins in the early 18th century. Everyone who enters his studio must swear that he will keep this secret throughout his life. I don’t believe this story. I think this is purely awkward. However, I must say that this story is why some people are willing to buy a Giordano violin at a high price.
What struck me was that at a music festival where no famous musician was present, I found a Giordano violin in a small concert of an unknown orchestra. One of the rarest violins in the world! I can’t believe my eyes.
I looked at the violinist who was playing the piano. He is a young man – maybe a student, maybe he doesn’t even know that the violin he is playing is a rare treasure. I stared at the amber instrument. The long neck, the huge body, the thick, warm voice of the summer Mediterranean night, touched my nerves. That’s right, it’s definitely a Giordano, I absolutely want the Giordano violin.
After the music was played, the audience applauded and the musicians began to leave the stage. I can’t wait any longer. I ran to the stage and came to the young violinist. I didn’t look at him, but I stared straight at the violin.
”This is a good violin, right?” he said to me. I am surprised that his English is very good.
”How do you know that I am British?” I asked him.
”You are Mr. Jeffrey Horvers? Smith, coming from London. Right?”
”Oh, no. Actually, I am not coming from London, but from Oxford. However, I am indeed Jeffrey Hoovers Smith.” After that, I said to myself in my heart: “I was so famous.”.
”My name is Giuseppe.”
”It’s nice to meet you, Giuseppe. Tell me about your violin now. Where did you get it?”
”Oh, this piano is my father. He has many ancient instruments. I think this violin is very old, but I am not sure. It is a good piano, right?”
”Well, yes, yes. Very good.”
I can’t believe my ears. How can I be so lucky – this young man in front of me seems to be a fool, not knowing that the violin he plays is a rare treasure.
”Can I have a look?” I asked him.
”Of course.” He handed me the violin. For the first time, I took this rare treasure in my hand. It’s a bit like dreaming. It is like a piece of amber, a warm, burgundy gem. It seems to be alive. I took it closer to the light and observed it carefully. That’s right, it is the work of Giordano. On the back of the neck, there is a very small line of Latin: Giordano, 1722. It is undoubtedly clear. I am very excited. I try to control my emotions.
”Can I visit your father?” I asked Giuseppe again.
”Of course. And, if you like, you can have dinner with us.”
”Great. Thank you.”
After 5 minutes, I was sitting in the car of Giuseppe. On the way, Giuseppe has been playing mobile phones. He is talking about Italian. I didn’t understand a word. I think he is chatting with his father. Finally, we arrived at the house of Giuseppe’s father. It is an old villa. Giuseppe’s father was an elegant old gentleman, dressed in elegant clothes and with a long white beard. He seems to be living alone.
”Hey, Dad. This is Mr. Jeffrey Horvers? Smith, coming from London. I just mentioned it to you on the phone.”
”It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Smith.”
”Nice to meet you……”
”Call me Frank.”
”It’s nice to meet you, Frank. But, in fact, I don’t come from London, I come from Oxford.”
After a rich dinner, Frank showed me its collection of ancient instruments. To be honest, his collection is not interesting, only one thing that interests me – Giordano violin. Finally, we talked about it.
”Is the violin played by Giuseppe tonight an ancient instrument?” I tried to hide my excitement. Frank was silent for a while and said, “Yes, I think so. But to be honest, I don’t know if it is worth it.”
”I think it’s a good violin. But I don’t know anything about it.” I know that lying is wrong, but in this world, in order to achieve the goal, sometimes you have to do whatever it takes.
”I want to buy this guqin.” I continued, “I will give you a good price.”
”Well, Mr. Smith,” Frank said. “I am an amateur in this line, not an expert. I don’t know much about ancient instruments.”
“Although I am an expert in this line,” I told him, “And I think this is a good violin, but maybe not very valuable. I think £200 is a fair price.”
Frank began to talk to his son. I think they are calculating the amount of £200 for the Italian currency. Finally, Frank shook his head.
”My father doesn’t want to be rude, but he thinks that you give him £200 is not generous,” said Giuseppe.
We all laughed.
”I can see that your father is a smart person, Giuseppe.” I said, “He is a good businessman. Well, £250, no more.”
Frank picked up his son again.
”This is a very good price, Mr. Smith.” Frank said, “I am happy to accept it.”
I can’t believe that I am so lucky. £250 bought a Guqin worth at least £250,000. I quickly wrote the check, took the piano, and called a taxi before they changed their mind.
”Goodbye Giuseppe! Goodbye Frank! Nice to meet you!”
”Goodbye, Mr. Smith! I wish you all the best!”
”I hope to see you again,” said Giuseppe. I hope that I will never see you again, I said to myself in my heart.
The next morning, I woke up very early. I packed my luggage and rushed to the airport. I am very happy about this incredible sale, but at the same time I am a little worried. Let me explain why: Although Europe is now a common market, there are still things that cannot be carried from one country to another. What we call “art” or “cultural heritage”, such as works of art or antiques, is prohibited from leaving the country by many legal provisions. This is why I am worried when I arrive at the airport.
I held the violin as a suitcase. During the security check, I didn’t want the precious guitar to pass the X-ray machine. But I have to open the box and show the instrument to the security guards.
The three security guards picked up the violin and watched it very carefully. They looked at it and talked about something seriously. Then they called the official who was in a higher position. The official also checked the violin very carefully. Then he checked my passport and stared at me. After talking to the three security inspectors for a while, he put the violin back in the case and asked me to board the plane. I breathed a sigh of relief and thought that I was the luckiest person in the world.
But the problem is not over yet. I also have to go through the security check in the UK.
When I got off the plane, my heartbeat began to accelerate. When I was waiting for my suitcase at the baggage claim, I thought that the police or customs officers would arrest me at any time. But I am lucky. Since this is a European flight, I can decide whether to declare the items brought into the country. The airport has two exits. If I go green, I can leave the airport without answering any questions – but it is illegal. If I go out of the red exit, I have to show the violin and I may be arrested.
I chose a green outlet. I went out of the airport without answering any questions. Then I called the taxi right away. When I was ready to get on the bus, I felt a hand on my shoulder.
”I’m sorry, sir,” said one voice.
”It’s over!” I thought. I will be arrested and put into prison.
”I think you forgot your suitcase.” I turned and saw that one of my suitcases was still on the ground.
”Thank you!” I said.
I am indeed the luckiest person in the world.
When I finally got home, my heart was completely put down. I took the key out of my pocket and prepared to open the door, but I found the door open.
”Oh, no! Thief!” I whispered.
I walked slowly and carefully into my home. I got it right. The thief is still in the room. There are two people. I picked up a mop and shouted: “Don’t move!” The two turned around. I am stunned. They turned out to be Giuseppe and his father Frank.
”Hello, Mr. Smith. We met again. We are waiting for you,” Frank said.
I am very shocked. How are they here? What do they want to do? How do they know that I live here?
”We must thank you again, Mr. Smith,” Frank said. “But not for the £250. Do you think we are really stupid?”
I did not answer him. I can’t speak.
”We know that you are engaged in the trading of ancient instruments. We know that you are not always honest when doing business. We want to bring the Giordano violin into the UK. Here we can sell it to wealthy collectors. But we know that It’s dangerous to take it out of the country. But you are different. In your capacity, taking a violin out of the country is normal, there is no doubt, and we estimate that security personnel cannot see that it is a rare treasure. Thank you again, Mr. Smith. For your adventures for us. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone what you have done. Now we know that you are doing this very well, and we can invite you to participate in more of our actions in the future.”
I smiled bitterly, thinking: I don’t think I am so lucky.