Concerning Horse Brasses

Reads: 252  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Have you ever had a fascination for something that cannot be understood by many, specially those who should? Robbie and Danny are sick of the horse brass collection that their uncle so fantasizes. But after his death, the brasses refuse to leave the brothers. Find out why!

Submitted: July 14, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 14, 2016



We never really set by those horse brasses. No sir, we didn’t. To us, they were always just artifacts in memory of our Great-Uncle Phil. He was the one with the craze for them. And we acknowledged this craze of his right from the day when we came to live with him. In fact, Robbie, my brother, got sick of those brasses more than once. Perhaps because the only decoration at Great Uncle Phil’s huge house were the numerous and endless brasses. Cases after cases of them, there were, all from various places of the world.

We had a huge house too, once. It was taken, nay, all was taken from us. When our parents had boarded that train to Surrey, we had everything. Then, by that evening, after the dreadful accident, we had nothing. And not until we were told that Great Uncle Phil had our custody, did we feel that we belonged somewhere again. Even if it was somewhere we had only been to once. But Uncle was nice. And He was never short of wealth either, being a merchant. He took care of us, raised us and made sure we made something of ourselves. For that, we were forever grateful to him. Now, Robbie was in France, studying art, while I cooked for a living, at least that’s what I thought.

We always knew Uncle had been preposterously diabetic, having rather a stubborn sweet tooth. But unfortunately, the sugar caught up with his heart. After all, he was eighty. And after a week-long medical stint, he was given peace. Now, the question of his huge Yorkshire house and all the contents was there to be solved. But that question of the huge house was solved rather embarrassingly by the courts, which held that Uncle was in huge debt with some dealers of his and that the house would have to be turned over to them. This grew chagrin from our perspective obviously, as we later found out that Uncle had willed it to us.

There was one consolation though, if at all. All the furniture and the horse brasses were to be shared by both of us (What a pity the brasses were still there). Of course, Robbie opposed vehemently to taking the horse brasses. With one swift look of malicious disgust, he rejected them.  And nobody else took them either. Secretly, both of us didn’t want it because of Uncle’s memories. This actually made us a trifle scared of it. I remember that Mr. Frank Nugget across the street used to pay pretty generous compliments to the brass collection. “Ar! Finest one for miles, that collection is!” he used to say. Let alone finest, Robbie and I couldn’t see the finer aspect of it. We hadn’t seen Mr. Frank for a long time. We liked him. Last we heard he was at his sister’s in Stanton.  

Well, not wanting to seem ignorant of Uncle’s collection and not having the heart to mercilessly abandon them, the only choice I had was to take them to my apartment in London. While talking to us about the brasses and in instances when we complained of his craze, Uncle used to often tell us –“Someday, these brasses will prove useful for you!”

I took them to London and thought of selling them, at first. And many people recommended the same. But neither at Yorkshire, where Uncle lived, nor in London, were there any takers or collectors of these brasses. If there were, they were hard to find. I even placed an advertisement in newspapers inviting buyers. But none came. Robbie suggested approaching the National Society of Brass Collectors, for donating or selling them there. But it seemed formidable to even contact them, much less meet them. Finally, after many attempts to strike a meeting, they regretted that only Members or their recommendations could deal with them. And that was that, regarding the brasses, for I had other things to attend to. I let them lie in my hall, as a souvenir, it would seem.

My catering projects weren’t really going well. People wanted something new today. And even a slight recognition of a known taste found rejection. And London was a city full of demanding people, only satisfied with anything, be it food, clothing, accessories, tailor-made for them.

After completing my management course, I had tried working with a consultancy firm. But it never gave me the thrill of my childhood passion for cooking. I pushed myself till a limit where I could not continue. Ever did it cross my mind that I could open my own restaurant, but there was no scope at all. I had not the money, nor the resources to start one. So I kept trying to impress local catering companies, groups of food chains and joints, in the hope to strike the pot of gold post the rainbow.


 It had been ages since Robbie had visited me in my apartment in London. And he was arriving today, for an art expo. He was a successful artist, indeed. In fact, after a rather impressive training period with his institute, he had sold his first three paintings for a nice sum in France to a Cultural Society.  

His train arrived at four in the evening, when I was back from my routine visit to the joint nearby. He’d slimmed down a lot, since I last saw him.

“Daniel! Well, if it isn’t the cook himself!” he cried as I entered. I grinned in acknowledgement. He called me that ever since he learnt of my interest. We hugged and spoke of each other’s lives and of Mom and Dad. Being two years elder, Robbie always felt responsible for me. He had offered part of his first earnings for my restaurant, but I refused. I somehow couldn’t take it.

Inevitably, he found the brasses still in the showcase and winced. “So you didn’t manage to get rid of them, eh?”

I shook my head, telling him all I had tried. He laughed and waved the matter aside. “I have something for you!! On the way here, in the train, I found this classified ad in the papers.”

He pulled out a paper from his bag and showed it to me. The ad read-“Have you got what it takes to go through an internship at Joe’s Grub? Well, that remains to be seen! Send in your details to us at the given address and we shall contact you soon!”

I half-laughed. Fat chance there was! Joe’s Grub was the most sought after foodie delight of London. Located right opposite to Big Ben, it boasted of a variety of authentic dishes and cuisine, tempting every Londoner, despite its unbelievable prices. And why not! It was founded by Joseph Lloyd, the son of famous food king Adam Lloyd, who ruled the sector before. And his son wasn’t doing a bad job of it either! In fact, his son was hardly thirty and had managed to have a foothold over cuisine. He was one of those typical Phileas Fogg-ish kinds of people, proper and meticulous, rarely excited and purely practical.

“Robbie, of all the places, you had to catch the big fish! Why, there are numerous people with a much more impressive record than mine. There’s no chance.” said I, with a trace of gloom. And here I was trying to carve my way into small joints.  

“Oh come on, Danny! Don’t be too harsh on yourself. There’s no harm in trying. What have you got to lose? I suggest you contact them as soon as possible.”

Just then, the doorbell rang. I ran to get it. As soon as I opened the door, I caught a whiff of opportunity, I wondered why. Maybe it was due to the attire of the gentlemen who stood at the door. Or due to the slick car that was parked across the street. Both wore blazers, but it was obvious who wore the costlier one. This was a pair of superior-subordinate, from a big place. And the superior looked a little familiar, like I had seen him somewhere, someplace, whether face to face or not, I couldn’t say.  

“Good Morning, Mr. Trent.” said “my” subordinate, taking his hat off, while the superior gave a polite nod, indicating his good morning.

“Morning, do come in. Can I help you?”

“That remains to be seen, doesn’t it?” said subordinate, with a cheeky smile. I wonder why that remark rang a bell. But I couldn’t grasp it, so I let it be.

The gentlemen entered and sat down. After an offer of refreshment, I looked at them enquiringly.

“Mr. Trent, I’m Joseph Lloyd. This is my secretary Reginald. First of all, we are very sorry for your loss. Your uncle must have been dear to you.” said Mr. Joseph Lloyd, his voice justifying the essence of the name. I blinked. And blinked again. One doesn’t need great brains to fathom the questions in my head. But I’d rather look for answers! And some part of the bell was clanging louder now.

“Indeed, he was, Sir.” I hadn’t been much of a news reader. So whatever information I had attained of Joe’s Grub and its history was by word of mouth.  That was why I couldn’t recognize Mr. Lloyd. But after years of hearing of his greatness and Joe’s reputation, being a chef, I was thrilled beyond description. Moreover, the fact that he was here, in my humble home meant something and now was not the time to rejoice yet, but to conjecture.

“I’m honored, Sir. I have heard much about you. And about Joe’s. This is my brother Robert. To what do I owe this pleasure of your visit?” I asked, trembling from within. The opportunistic whiff and the bell kept running at the back of my mind.

“To the fact that I have heard you are a passionate cook. And if you prove it right, I come with an offer to train you. If you’re interested, that is.” He said, with a look of amusement on his face, as he saw my reaction, for it was one to be mused at.

Mr. Reginald nodded vigorously as if confirming that what I had heard was true. I looked around at Robbie. He was beaming. He came and stood by me, his hands on my shoulder and his every breath capturing the situation very well.

How do you react when you are a struggling writer and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself agrees to help you? Or when you are a struggling cricketer and Don Bradman Himself helps you?

Struggling to stand anymore, I sat down. And as I spoke, my voice shook. “It would be a joy, Sir. I saw your ads in the papers today. My brother saw it and showed it to me…But…”

“But you are wondering how is it we have come to you, ourselves, when there might be several with a better record?” ended Mr. Reginald. “Well, Mr. Trent, it’s nothing but a fantastic chance. You were recommended to us by Mr. Joseph’s uncle, when we went to him to enquire about their sale. For Mr. Lloyd desires them greatly.” While saying so, he pointed to something across the hall. Taking it as a general gesture, I ignored it, focusing on the conversation.

“Speaking of which, before we begin discussing about our offer, I hope they are still for sale?” asked Mr. Joseph hopefully, his face eager.

I looked at them, trying to understand. Robbie was in fog as well. Both of us didn’t quite get what was up for sale. “If what are for sale, Sir?”

“Why, the brasses, of course! What else would you sell, when such a fine collection was ready!” said Mr. Reginald, pointing to the brasses in the showcase.

I began to get curious. “Mr. Lloyd, they are for sale but may I know who your uncle is?”

“Why, Mr. Frank Nugget! Was a neighbor of yours, now wasn’t he?” said Mr. Lloyd.

Realization struck both of us. Who would have thought Mr. Frank was Joseph Lloyd’s uncle!

“We heard of your Uncle’s death. And Uncle Frank was very saddened to hear of it. We were with him when he found out. It was then that he told us that your Uncle had a horse brass collection. You see, I adore horse brasses. I love to collect them.” said Mr. Lloyd, with a gleam in his eyes, as he accepted a glass of champagne from Robbie. “And we saw your ad in the newspapers, which meant you hadn’t sold them. At the same time, Uncle Frank told us of your passion for cooking. He had seen you as a child, showing much interest in cooking. And Mr. Taylor- another neighbor of yours who was at your Uncle’s funeral learned of your struggle too. So much has Uncle convinced me of your passion, that I decided I must come up here to honor both of our deep desires.”

There was much sincerity in his voice and all this was in fact so unbelievable that it had to happen, I guessed. I showed them all the collection. Mr. Lloyd was thrilled. It seemed that it was very rare and antique collection. Almost 90 years old. Robbie was smirking all the while. No wonder. The brasses that he had so long detested were about to be got rid of.

Finally, after much inspection and discussion with Mr. Reginald, Mr. Lloyd said: “Mr. Trent, what I have to offer is my upper limit. Anything beyond that may be a problem. I offer you 80,000 pounds for this collection! No more, no less!”

Robbie choked on his drink. My head reeled. 80,000 pounds! Robbie opened and closed his mouth like a goldfish. If he had known these brasses would have fetched us 80,000 pounds, maybe he would have been gentler with them! Well, really!

 “Do you accept, gentlemen?” was the very eager question next from Mr. Lloyd.

After several moments silence, due to obvious reasons- “You bet we do, Sir!” I ejaculated, as Robbie still spluttered.

“Oh! Splendid! I’m thrilled!! Thank you! Here’s the cheque with the amount.” He said as Mr. Reginald took out the cheque from his suitcase and handed it to me. Obviously, Mr. Lloyd had come here completely determined to buy the brasses at any cost. With trembling fingers, I took it. “Now, what I have to offer to you further is a month-long internship at Joe’s, after which, if you’re good enough, we shall aid in placing you at the finest restaurants or you may start your own restaurant, as you wish. In the latter’s case, the certificate of internship which you shall earn at the end of the year shall be invaluable to you. Do you accept the offer?” He asked, smiling widely.

With my prayers to the heavens above, I looked at Robbie and nodded. “Yes sir. I accept.”

“Excellent. We shall be awaiting your call then, shall we? We’ll take your leave now.”

With that superior-subordinate left out the door, leaving us transfixed in our seats. And as I glimpsed at the brasses for the last time, I thought “So this was your master plan, was it?” 80,000 pounds! Why, that restaurant of mine seemed a reality now, surely!

The cheque lay before us and we sat, staring at it. “Someday, these brasses will prove useful to you!” rang Uncle Phil’s voice in our ears. And had he been right! Yes, Sir! Fate indeed is a fickle friend!

© Copyright 2018 sumeet mathur. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Literary Fiction Short Stories