The Wanderlust Lady and the Door to Door Salesman - new 39
March 11, 2013
Monday morning I finished off the room at the house on Marple Hall Drive. I was
pleased with the effect, and thought Mrs. Reynolds would be too. I really felt I had a talent for this sort of work. I hoped they would ask me to do the rest of the house, but knew that would again depend on a group decision and would be based on how good they felt my work was, and also how cheap I could keep my prices in the future. I had
stuck my neck out a bit, offering to do this work for a very low price indeed.
Mrs. Reynolds came around at 12, and I was done by then. She declared herself well
pleased with the result, gave me the cheque for £125, and said that she would get in touch with me again for a quote if they decided they wanted to paint the rest of the house.
I walked slowly back home, with Fred's small ladder, with the extra bits in my backpack. Fred had told me it was usual to leave the leftover paint with the client – in case they needed to do some touching up – so I didn't have the large paint tins to contend with.
Not having any work on at the moment, and not even any other calls regarding painting
jobs, I decided to spend the afternoon taking the rest of the silver to the jeweller.
I also did a bit of bookkeeping so I could make sure I was keeping my accounts straight.
My income from this month was:
Painting for Fred £125
Painting for Mrs. Reynolds £125 (50 spent on paint)
Painting for Mrs. Mills £1000 (250 spent on paint)
Cut for selling pictures £110
Cut for selling silver £100 plus £80 plus ?
Cut for selling gold £800?
Money from sale of bits £50
Money that belonged to Mrs. Mills, but not yet given to her
Silver £400 plus 320 plus ?
This bag of silver was heavy – but I knew that not all the cutlery was pure silver.
Some was silverplate and some of the knives had bone handles. I'd roughly put it at £400 worth before, but that might be overstretching it, as I hadn't taken into account the fact that some of the bigger and heavier pieces were not the ones that were solid silver.
I separated the silverware into the spoons and forks which I knew were proper solid
silver, with their hallmarks on. There were 10 of those. I was hoping that I would get £100 for them.
Then there were five knives that I thought were probably faux bone handled – rather than real, but how could I tell the difference, and I didn't really think I would trust the jeweller's opinion. But if they were not the real McCoy, then I'd be lucky to get £20 for them.
Twenty of the spoons and forks were definitely silver plate, and probably only worth
£40-50 for the lot.
The other five items were smaller and odd shaped – butter knife – tiny spoons – sugar cube tongs, stuff like that. I thought most were pure silver, but it was hard to make out the hallmarks on some of them. Maybe I would be lucky to get £50 for the lot.
So I was aiming for £250 to £300 for the silverware.
Having already separated it out, I wrapped the various packages of what I considered
like-items and put it all in my rucksack. Then afterwards, I decided to go and visit the antique shop in Marple Bridge again, and get the prices he might buy the bookcase and trunk for. I used my phone to take pictures of the items.
The jewellery dealer looked pleased to see me when he buzzed me in. “I expect you're
selling silver again,” he said.
“You've got it,” I said as I unloaded the four little packets of flatware onto his
“You know I don't want silverplate,” he said.
“That's okay,” I said. “But I'm sure these spoons are solid silver – and these
little items too. Why don't we weigh those together. I know the current price for silver.”
They weighed 200 gms.
“That works out at £91.54,” he said, and that was about what I was expecting.
“I think these spoons and forks are silver plate, so I assume you don't want them.”
“I could give you £2 each – so that makes £20,” he said.
“And what about these knives. I don't know what is real bone and what is what they
called faux bone.”
“I think these are the faux variety, but the rest of the knives are silver. It's hard to weigh them, but the handles aren't nearly as heavy as the blades. I usually work on 2/3 of the silver value as if all the weight was silver.”
He weighed the knives on his scale and came up with. They weighed 150 grams, so he
was going to give me the equivalent of 100 grams worth of solid silver.
“I make that £50.55,” he said.
“So what is that for the lot?”
“Say £160 for the lot,” he said, “and I'm doing you a favour by taking the silver plate.”
“Okay, it's a deal,” I said, glad to be rid of it finally.
So as I left the shop, I reckoned that my 20% cut from this bit of silver was £32.
I enjoyed the walk to Marple Bridge, and I was not surprised when the antique shop was closed. But I'd made note of the phone number of the owner, and gave him a ring.
“Hi. I'm outside your antique shop in Marple Bridge, and wanted to ask you if you were
interested in purchasing an old trunk and a solid wood bookcase. I haven't got them with me, but have pictures of them.”
“No, sorry, I only deal with small items as you will see if you look into my display
window. I can't handle big bits of furniture at all. But if you go across the road and down a bit, you'll find another antique dealer, who does sell large items. I'm not sure if he'll be in or not, but his contact details will be in his window.”
“Thanks for your help.”
“You're welcome. Good luck.”
So I crossed the road and went past an empty shop, and a fish and chippy and found the place he had mentioned, and my luck was in. The owner was inside.
“Hi,” I said as I went through the door. “Do you buy furniture as well as selling
“Depends on what it is.”
“I've got a large old trunk to sell. I've seen some like it on the internet which seem
to sell at over £100. And there's a big wooden bookcase too. Here. I've taken pictures of them on my phone,” and I handed my phone to her so she could see what I was talking about.
“They're the sorts of things we sell, but I can't offer you much for them. There's no
way I'd go to £100 for the trunk. I might sell it and I might not. But the bookcase looks substantial. Again, lots of people don't want heavy brown furniture now. They're going minimalist and lots don't want bookcases at all.”
“So how much do you think you could offer me for the bookcase?”
“Fifty at the most, but I'd have to see them.”
“No problem, except that I don't have transport – so you'd have to come to me, and if you liked them, you'd have to help me get the trunk out of the attic.”
“Not something that I fancy doing,” she said with a laugh. “But I daresay I might twist my husband's arm. How about if we come to see them tonight after work.”
“Sure. That's fine. Sort of sevenish?”
“Make it 7.30. What's your address?”
“16 Oak Lane, Marple. Do you know how to find it?”
“Is it near Birch Road?”
“Yes, my house is on the corner of Birch Road and Oak Lane.”
“No problem then. See you at 7.30.”
With my negotiations for the afternoon now well and truly over, I walked back up the hill to Marple, and enjoyed a bit of peace and quiet before tea. Only one phone call – from the estate agent. Somebody wanted to view the house tomorrow about 2 p.m.
“Not a problem,” I said. “I might or might not be in, but as you can't count on it,
probably you'd better organise to have somebody from your office come with them.”
Tea finished, the antique dealers arrived slightly late, at 7.40. I'd opened the trap
door and moved the trunk so it was very close to the opening.
“There's no light up in the attic,” I said, “but if you go half way up and shine a
torch up, you'll get the idea.”
“No, it'll have to come down here so I can see all around it and inside it before I
decide if I want it.”
So her hubby and I manhandled the trunk this way and that and eventually managed to get it down. I knew it had to work – since they'd managed to get it up there. I wondered for awhile if we'd have to remove the lid – but by taking it at an angle we finally managed it.
“Oh, I like that,” the dealer said when she was finally able to see it. “I think it
probably was a silver trunk.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, wondering if I'd left a piece of silver in it, or
there was some residue from the silver still there.
“In the olden days, people who had silver didn't want it on display all the time, so when it wasn't being used, they'd store it in a silver trunk and then get it out and polish it for high days and holidays or when they wanted to impress somebody,” she said.
“So, do you want it then?”
“Oh, yes. I'll give you £80 for it. Now lets have a look at the bookcase.”
“I took them into the living room and showed it to them.”
“A bit worn, but
all in all, I think it's in good condition. I'll give you £50 for it,” she said.
“I have no idea what its worth, but I'm glad to be getting rid of it – so that's fine,” I said, and she counted out 13 tenners into my open hand.
Then her husband and I man handled the bookcase through the house to the door, and into their white van. Then we followed it with the trunk.
“Thanks again,” the dealer said as they drove off.
“Thank you,” I said, but again, I was pretty sure that they'd made a pretty good
deal off me. But I was past trying to fight for the last penny. I knew that since the cop's visit and I'd been warned that I was being watched, every item I sold would have to accounted for to Mrs. Mills. She might or might not give me my usual 20% - but I was doing my job – getting rid of the excess furniture, and it gave me something to do. I was really hoping some more painting jobs would open up for me, but knew I couldn't count on it.
“Hi,” said Fred, who just happened to be getting into his car to go out. “You getting rid of the furniture already?”
“Only the stuff that doesn't matter – that was taking up too much space anyway.”
“Any luck with getting any more painting jobs?”
“Not since that one last week.”
“Where are you advertising?”
“Marple post office.”
“Well, you need to do more than that. If you're prepared to travel a bit, put notices up
in Marple Bridge and High Lane and Romiley. You can get there on the bus or train easily enough. And you could put a small advert in the Stockport newspaper.”
“Yeah, good idea. I didn't think of that.”
“You can't just wait for people to come to you. You have to make some effort to let
them know you're available.”
“Thanks Fred,” I said as he drove off.
When I got back inside I decided to give Mrs. Mills a call, and tell her about the
furniture I'd sold.
“Hi, Mrs. Mills. Stan here. I wanted to tell you about getting rid of a couple of the
old bits of furniture in the house. I sold them to an antique dealer – the trunk which had the silver in it for £80 and the bookcase for £50.”
“That's good. Thanks for letting me know. You'll bank the money for us, won't you?”
“Yes, of course,” Stan said but couldn't help thinking her voice was very odd, and she
wasn't showing her usual enthusiasm for the progress he was making.
“Now that you've done the painting, I'd like you to move out of the house, Stan. I'll
give you till next weekend, and then we'll be up to get the key off you, and pay you what we owe you – and you can pay us what you owe us.”
“I thought I could live here until the house was sold,” I said flabbergasted.
“Well, you thought wrong. You've done the job we employed you to do. The agents are
happy to show the house, so no need for you to be there. You've sold the valuable items from the house. There's only the gold outstanding. Do you have something you want to tell me about the gold, Stan?”
“What do you mean? I haven't got the cash back for it yet, but I'm expecting it to come
soon. There was some delay in London with the processing.”
“Oh, that's your story is it? You're not going to mention the little fact that the police are involved in this?”
“Oh, I didn't know that you knew about that.”
“So you just thought you'd keep this yet another scam to yourself, and hope we never found out how much you'd done us out of?”
“I did the best I could to put the matter straight. Honest I did.”
“But you do admit that you stole from us – yet again.”
“Well, hardly from you – it was from Minnie and when I sold the gold the first time, I
had no idea you even existed.”
“The police told me that they had initially suspected you of running Aunt Minnie
“They cleared me on that right away. They're pretty sure they know the lady who did
it, but they can't pin it on her because there were no witnesses.”
“And don't even think about running off with the money for the gold, as the police
would be onto you in no time, and you wouldn't get an easy ride this time. And we would not be putting in any good words for you either.”
“I had no intention of running off with your money.”
“Well, say what you like – we feel like you have abused our trust yet again after
we went on a limb to give you another chance. So we'll be at the house next Saturday. We'll pay you what we agreed, but not a penny more. Seems to me you'll be owing us much more than we'll be owing you. And you won't get a cut from the gold either. If we'd had the original coins they would have been worth a lot more, I'm sure. Anyway, get yourself somewhere else to live,” and she hung up.
“Boy is that unfair,” I thought. “Here I bust my boots trying to make things right, and what happens – I get blamed for everything. They're even trying to make out that I was involved in Minnie's death.”
Life was full of ups and downs. And here I'd been thinking that I was on an up at the
moment. But now my only choice is to go back and stay with my mother and step-father again – sleeping on the couch. Not much of a life. My painting job hadn't materialised. Either Mrs. Reynolds decided that my work wasn't good enough, or she found somebody cheaper, or the committee decided that they wouldn't have the rest of the house
I'd got the impression from P.C. Reilly that they wouldn't be charging me with
stealing the gold coins. I wasn't sure that was because I'd got an equivalent set back, and then sold them again at the behest of the Mills – or because once a case was heard and a judgment was made – it couldn't then be reopened.
I've done my best, I thought. I put in hours of work and done a good job. I've worked at
far less than the wage a painter would normally have taken, and now they're spitting in my face.
I went to bed, but I couldn't sleep for a long time.