The Music Man

Summary: A young busker with aspirations of becoming a famous musician finds himself in a precarious situation when he is victim to a robbery.

Intended Audience: Young Adult; 12+ years
Difficulty: Beginner
Word Count: 5822

I previously released this short story for free using KDP self-publishing. For now, I’ll house stories like this for free on my website exclusively. If you’re interested in a paper copy, please let me know, I’d be happy to send one out.

The Music Man

A short story by Jaimee Lee Kristin Jakobczak

Act 1

It was a typical Friday afternoon in the town of Cairnwell Woods, with the sun beating down on the piazza, and the busy markets at their financial peak. A short distance away from the active streets standing prominently outside of an alleyway was a young man. Here the man stood each and every day at precisely 1pm, separating his morning responsibilities as an assistant to the town blacksmith, from his evening duties, where he worked as a custodian for the local church. He didn’t say a word unless spoken to and never broke his signature charming grin. He was a soft spoken and sensible man and one of the few people in Cairnwell that were able to keep their composure in the heat that most others seemed to find joy in complaining about. As far as he felt, it had been an unusually warm spring so it would only make sense that summer would be even warmer, and there wasn’t much he could do to change the weather. As the day wore on, the young man packed up his things, consisting of one battered old acoustic guitar and a damaged worn-out case he housed it in with a few odd coins graciously given by the empathetic townsfolk. Tomorrow he would return to the same same spot, for the exact same duration, and leave with a very similar collection of coins.

“How much did you make today?” Joseph Turner asked his older brother as he walked in the door that evening.

“Enough,” replied Aidan, setting a loaf of bread onto the counter and placing his guitar case against the wall. “I think more people are starting to take notice.”

“I think you’re quite delusional,” piped Abigail, the Turner’s younger sister. “You should quit wasting your time with that silly thing, and spend more time working. Make real money, like our father always told you to.”

“Maybe so,” Aidan started, “But I like it, and so do the townsfolk. Some of them say their favourite part of their day is hearing me play. So people do notice … and one day you’ll be biting your tongue when the Duke joins them in that.”

“I severely doubt that’ll ever happen,” Joseph replied.  

“I’ll bet you all the coins in my case that by next year I’ll even play at his wedding.” Aidan wagered. His sister and brother snickered simultaneously at his remarks. 

“You’re on, and no takesies-backsies!” Abigail giggled and the two of them scurried out of the room. Aidan didn’t mind. He was used to it by now, the lack of support and all the negative put-downs his siblings could muster with their limited vocabulary. It didn’t matter to him what anybody else thought. Aidan was a dreamer, a very confident one at that who refused to give up anything without a fight. He had been playing guitar since his grandfather moved out to the neighboring town of Grandtully some two-thousand miles east when he was only six. His grandfather had left the once perfectly conditioned hand crafted instrument to his care. At the time, Aidan could hardly fit his small hands around the maple neck, or keep a steady position on the thick silk strings. Despite that, he was always eager to show his grandfather some improvements when he was able to visit and how hard the calluses on his fingertips had grown. 

“Calluses,” his grandfather had told him, “are proof of the hard work and dedication you must possess to truly master your craft. Learning may be slow, particularly in the beginning, and at times you might feel as if you’re not making any progress. When you’re feeling doubtful of the gift you have, look to your calluses and know that you making steady improvements. You are anything you choose to be.” Now, after twelve years of daily practice, Aidan decided he was going to do everything in his power to become a well respected musician in the community, the highest of which honour would be to be recognized by the royal family. He had started to learn the instrument in an effort to grow closer to his grandfather and make him proud; but now, Aidan played namely for himself.

One afternoon, while standing in front of the same grungy alleyway as all the previous days, a young boy and girl approached Aidan. As always, careful not to break his concentration on the song he was performing, Aidan merely glanced at the children and did not utter a single word. The boy waved his hands in front of Aidan’s face, stuck his tongue out at him, and mimicked his performance. All the while, Aidan played on. He had seen them before running around – these two always seemed to be running one place or another, playing in the square and getting in the way of the vendors trying to sell their produce, clothing and knick knacks. Aidan felt like they must be a bit of a nuisance but nobody ever seemed to mind them, and with his easy-going attitude he minded them just the same. Sometimes they reminded him of his own childhood and how much he missed the carefree nature of adolescence before his parents passed and he had to assume the role of caregiver to Joseph and Abigail; other times they made him recognize how blissfully ignorant kids could be and how one day, they’d grow up and come to the same conclusions as he.  

“Told you he doesn’t say anything,” said the boy. The girl giggled and began to follow the boys lead, hoping that she would be the one to break down the strange music man that they had watched from afar for months in the piazza. They often wondered what he did when he wasn’t playing and how much money he could possibly make playing such an old and decrepit guitar. The ones they had always seen were freshly painted or polished and they would sparkle in the sunlight, but not Aidan’s. His was dull and it creaked when he swung it around with a thin piece of tattered rope that looked sure to snap at any moment hugging his shoulder. “Hey music man, can’t you speak?”

“He might be dim,” the girl suggested. A passerbyer dropped a couple pennies into his case and Aidan nodded his appreciation. He looked to the sky to help him bring his attention back to the song he was in the middle of performing. He followed the clouds as they wistfully floated across the sky letting his imagination run wild with their ever-changing shapes, all the while his fingers danced up and down the fretboard, his toe tapping softly to keep his rhythm in check. 

“He must be dim,” the boy agreed. The children upon realizing that they would not be able to distract him from his performance quickly scampered off down the street and disappeared from sight. Aidan let out a relieved breath, finished his song, received a few more coins from a passing couple and packed up his things. The sun was starting to fall behind the church steeple, and as such, he knew it was time to begin the walk to work. 

A few weeks later, Aidan round up Abigail and Joseph and the three of them walked to town together for a special service. Aidan had overheard during one of his afternoons in the piazza that a special announcement would be given from the grandiose church steps, and rumour had it that the Duke of Cairnwell would be there. 

“If ever there might be an opportunity to show him my talent,” Aidan said, “this is it!” He was giddy like a young boy and eager to get there early, but Abigail had put up a fuss and they were running well behind schedule. 

“Still delusional,” she quipped. 

“Just wait, Abby,” Aidan replied calmly. “You’ll see.”

“Yeah, we’ll see you get rejected by the Duke!” Joseph laughed. By the time the three of them got into town, a humongous crowd had gathered outside the church stretching as far back as the alley Aidan performed by. He squeezed Abigail and Joseph through to get them as close as they could, and as they settled in a trio of trumpeters sounded. 

“I can’t even see,” huffed Abigail, craning her neck. Aidan knelt down and let her clamper onto his shoulders for a better look. “The Duke! It’s the Duke!” she exclaimed as the church doors opened and the crowd erupted in enamoured applause. The Duke smiled broadly and waved to his audience, soaking in the affection and attention he was undoubtedly used to receiving. He centered himself on the church steps while two advisors and a group of guards stood stiffly at his sides.

“Thank you, residents of Cairnwell. It is an absolute pleasure to be standing before you today,” he began as the crowd settled into a quiet hush. He wore a lavish red velvet suit fitted with stunning gold jewels that seemed to twinkle in the sun’s reflection. “I have called you all here for a special announcement that is very important for me to share with all of you.” The crowd fell deathly silent. “Don’t worry, it’s nothing bad,” he joked. A few people laughed nervously. It was rare for the Duke to come into town by himself so nobody was quite sure what to expect. “I would like to introduce to you someone very near and dear to my heart. Duchess Penelope of Alba!” The church doors opened for the second time and through their archway came a beautiful woman with tightly braided chestnut hair that was so long it nearly reached the floor. She walked gracefully and slow as the Duke took her hand and positioned her at the front of the church steps. She was blushing bashfully and she too appeared nervous as she waved to the crowd that had erupted once more in applause. The Duke held up his hands to silence them and the townsfolk quickly obliged. Her skin was fair and pale as emphasized by her now rosy cheeks. She smiled so widely she could hardly contain her pretty straight teeth as she looked at all of the people before her. She curtsied and waited for the Duke to continue. “This beautiful woman that I have brought before you today,” he said enthusiastically, “is to become my wife!” The crowd roared and the trumpets sounded again; people threw rice into the air and clapped until their hands were red from the contact and the Duke planted a polite kiss on his bride-to-be. The red on the Duchess’s cheeks flourished as she embarrassingly waved for everyone to settle down again. 

“Thank you,” she said so quietly that only the first few rows of people could hear. “We are to be wed in the King’s Castle next summer,” she announced. “And I am very much looking forward to representing you and this lovely quaint town.” The crowd clapped politely and looked at her with fierce admiration; except some, who looked on with palpable jealousy. 

“We would like to thank you for your kindness in coming out to see us today, and to show our gratitude we have brought barrels of the freshest fruit we could collect and wine straight from our own personal vineyard. We leave it to you to enjoy and indulge until your bellies are set to burst and your hearts are as full with love as ours. Thank you for your attention this afternoon, and we will be sure to see you soon,” the Duke wrapped up the ceremony with a swift bow and a short wave and led the Duchess promptly back into the castle. The trumpeters sounded once more and then followed the guards through the church doors. The crowd was already hustling into the piazza to get their hands on the aforementioned wine but Aidan and Joseph, with Abigail still hoisted on his shoulders, slowly made their way to the church steps where now only two guards remained.

“Excuse me,” Aidan addressed the guards and let Abigail jump down to the street beside Joseph. “Would it be at all possible for me to ask the Duke a very quick question?”

The guards looked at each other and then back to Aidan.

“You’d like to see the Duke?” one of them asked. 

“Yes, please!” Aidan said eagerly. The guards looked at each other again and then back to Aidan.

“Oh, I’m sure that’ll be no trouble at all,” the other guard said. 

“Really? Thank you!” Aidan replied, unable to contain his excitement. 

“And shall we bring these two, as well?” Joseph nudged Abigail and looked at the guards in disbelief. 

“Yes, please, I can’t leave them, they’re far too young,” Aidan explained. 

“Well let me go get the Duke then.” Aidan looked at his siblings smugly. He wanted to say I told you so but he didn’t want to embarrass himself in front of the dignified guards. They stood at the base of the steps for a few moments before Aidan glanced back at the guards who he then realized had not moved a single muscle yet.

“Well….” he started. “Are you going to get him, or should we just go in?” The guards stood silently, and looked at each other once more. Suddenly in the distance a crowd of townspeople began shouting excitedly, and the two guards before him keeled over in laughter, tears streaming down their faces. 

“You really thought…” his words came out sharply between boisterous laughs. “That we were going to let you…” 

“Uhm, Aidan,” Abigail said, tugging on the bottom of her brother’s worn out shirt. He followed her gaze to the crowd at the end of the cobblestone street to see that the Duke and the Duchess were standing atop a horse-drawn carriage and making their way out of the piazza, waving goodbye politely to those that had gathered behind them. 

“I told you!” Joseph laughed. “Rejected!” Aidan was stunned and embarrassed. He had been so sure this was his opportunity to convince the Duke to listen to him play that he had brought his guitar with him to town. He listened to his siblings jeer and giggle at his disappointment, repeating we told you so the entire walk back home. It felt like the longest walk Aidan had ever taken, but he kept his back straight and his head held high the entire way.

Act 2

Weeks passed before Joseph and Abigail grew tired of mocking their older brother, who otherwise went on his daily business as usual. His evening shifts at the church were becoming later and later, and at times he wasn’t sure if he should continue playing his guitar in the piazza or if he should allocate that time to what felt like a constant much needed midday nap. On one particularly cloudy day he decided he would perform only a song or two, as he never liked neglecting his playing unless it happened to be pouring rain. On this day the piazza was considerably more quiet than usual so he positioned himself beside the ornamental fountain in the middle of all the vendors. Legends had told that the fountain would bring youth to those who drank from its flowing faucets, and wealth and prosperity to those who bathed in it. Aidan set his guitar case down and upon noticing his hands were full of dirt and rust washed his hands thoroughly in the fountains cool, clean water. He wiped the water off on his shirt and began to play. 

It wasn’t long before he attracted a couple of interested townsfolk who wandered over from their vendor carts to encourage his playing with a few nickels. With it being so sparsely populated today, Aidan’s music seemed to float through all the shop windows and beckon for an audience. He was well over his two song-set and into his sixth rendition when he found himself standing before two children; the others had resumed their business in the square. He glanced at them briefly and recognized that they were the same two that had mocked and tried to distract him a few short weeks ago, and as he did then, he brought his attention to the sky and played on. The boy began to make faces as he had before, trying with all his might to make the strange music man react, but today the girl stood calmly and watched. Aidan found himself considering to pack up his things as the clouds overhead were becoming darker and fuller by the minute, he was sure they were about to be caught in a rainfall and he couldn’t bare to have his guitar damaged any further. As his fingers crept up the fretboard and he softly crescendoed his final chord, the little girl whipped a burlap bag out from under her shirt. Aidan was so startled he wasn’t sure how to react as the boy snatched every last dime out of his guitar case, shoved them into the bag his sister held open and started to run.  The kids must have only been seven years old, but they were very fast runners. Unfortunately, they were not quick enough for Aidan who was much more athletic than he appeared. He followed them out of the piazza, out onto the main street and down a sparsely lit alley and much to the children’s dissatisfaction, they had reached a dead end and they were cornered. 

“Help us!” the kids cried. “He’s trying to hurt us!” they yelled as Aidan held them by the arms. The children’s’ shrill screams had caught the attention of the townsfolk nearby who had followed the commotion and were now looking at Aidan with disgust and anger. Panicked, he released them from his grip and found himself now the focus of many unimpressed eyes, his back pressed up against a stone wall. 

Bewildered, Aidan stammered, “What? No. They were stealing — they were stealing from me!” But his explanation only received unimpressed glares. A few women were shaking their heads and consoling the children, cooing them to soothe their fast beating hearts. A long bell sounded twice and suddenly two strikingly beautiful adult mares come quickly trotting over to to the alley. The townsfolk angrily told Aidan to come out from his hiding and explain himself. Feeling no other option, Aidan obliged.  

The horses were pulling the largest and most extravagant carriage he had ever seen. It was taller than most of the shops in town, standing at least twelve-feet; the heavy brass wheels alone were the length of his instrument case and despite having rolled on the cobblestone, didn’t appear to have a single knick or scratch. The carriage was painted a luxurious ivory and was covered with red and gold draping for privacy. Even the reigns that held the horses were fitted with fresh leather and tiny gold inlays engraved with the letter’s CW. Aidan had never seen something so remarkably detailed and for a moment he forgot all about how he came to be before it. The children ran over to the man sitting at the helm of the carriage just as the side door opened revealing the passenger inside. It was the Duke of Cairnwell, and suffice to say, he did not look very thrilled.

“Thank God you’re here Sir! You see these two —” Aidan began but quickly was stopped as the Duke put his hand up to silence him. He shifted his focus immediately onto the children.

“Graham, Mallory… are you alright?” the Duke asked them. He took a knee to get down to their level and embraced them both in a snug hug. 

“I think so Uncle William,” responded Mallory, shuffling her feet. 

“He chased us down an alleyway,” Joseph cried. “I was so scared, Uncle.”

“Me too,” added Mallory sniffling. Aidan’s jaw dropped in complete shock, 

realizing at that moment that he was suddenly in a heap of trouble. The Duke stood up and straightened his suit.

“Well, what say you?” he snarled at Aidan.

“With all due respect Sir, what these children are saying is not true!” protested Aidan. 

“Are you calling my nieces and nephews – the royal, nieces and nephews…. liars?”

“I…. well…. yes, Sir. Liars and thieves!” Aidan burst. 

“That’s not what I saw, my liege,” one of the townsfolk chimed in. A low rumble from the others murmured in agreement. 

“I  saw this man chase them,” one said.

“I heard them crying out for help,” added another.  Aidan couldn’t believe his 

luck. He had always had such a great rapport with these very people that were accusing him of attacking children. Surely someone saw them steal his money, he thought as sweat began to formulate on his forehead. 

“That’s not true!” he exclaimed.

“Did you not chase them?” the Duke asked. 

“Well, I mean, I did….” Aidan started. “But only after —” He was silenced once again by the Duke’s right hand. 

“I’ve heard enough,” he said. “Read him his rights.” As the children scurried into the carriage, the short stubby man wearing a sparkling black vest and sporting a felted beaver top hat hopped off of his seat where he had been holding the horse’s reigns. Out of his inner vest pocket he pulled out a piece of parchment which he promptly unraveled and intently read it aloud to Aidan. 

     “By order of the New England charter rights, section 5, subsection a, paragraph four: ‘He who violates any of rules 1 through 12 aforementioned in section 4 entitled ‘Criminal Charges’ is subjected to the punishment determined by the currently appointed King. If said King is unavailable at the present moment for a hearing, the Lord of the jurisdiction in which said violation is committed may choose to deal with the issue as he sees fit. Any higher power of the monarchy as defined in subsection F has full privilege to take the matter into his own questioning if he wishes to interfere.’ Questions?” the little man asked, peering up from his paper. Aidan chose not to respond, nervously looking from the short stubby man, to the tall, powerful and clearly much stronger Duke who still stood before him. 

     “Personally, for attacking minors, I believe you deserve nothing more than death. However, we will take you to the castle for further judgment,” the Duke declared. With that, he firmly pushed Aidan into the back of the carriage and strongly cautioned him not to utter a single word throughout the ride as he slammed the door behind him. Aidan nodded his understanding, as a lump had grown in his throat making it impossible for him to dispute.

     They arrived at the castle a short while later, and Aidan was led down into the dungeon by the two children and three poshly decorated guards. The whole walk down into the deep chambers of the castle the children were further developing their story. Since they had left the town square, it was being said that Aidan had told them he was going to scoop them up and take them away to punish them if he had been successful in his catch. The girl was performing her best impression of a weeping angel and the boy was further describing how he had hoped to have a fun day in town, and instead he fears he’ll be traumatized and nightmare ridden for the rest of his life due to the events that had transpired. Aidan couldn’t believe his ears and he was growing more upset and dispirited by the second. As one of the guards took the children down a narrow hall, Aidan’s change clattered away in their pockets. The boy looked back at Aidan, wiped the fake tears from his eyes and grinned devilishly. 

“That money you hear is mine,” he pleaded to no avail. The guards led Aidan down to the deepest, darkest sector of the castle; an area where no sunlight could reach. The walls were fitted with handles for lanterns but not a single one was lit. They shoved Aidan into a cell and smashed the door shut, the cell bars clanging from the impact and the sound of the strong locks echoing in the dirty chambers. Sullenly, he took a look around at his temporary home. The castle was ancient; he could see mildew seeping through various cracks in the walls, and every few minutes you could hear the screeches and squeals of the mice which inhabited the place. He could see nothing down the right of the hall, but to his left was another cell, visible only through a small peep hole. He peered through. Inside there was another prisoner; the man looked old, tired and devoid of hope. He was so skinny it was as if he hadn’t eaten in well over a year. Aidan shuddered at the thought of being trapped in this cell for such a long time, he wondered if the man had also been falsely imprisoned. He thought about calling out to speak to the man but feared he would somehow get in more trouble if he did, even though it appeared that the two of them were alone. He slunk back against the wall and realized that he was trembling. He held his arms around his body and rested his head on his knees. It was quiet now, with only the pained moans of the old man next door to accompany him into the evening.

Act 3

     Despite his restlessness, Aidan had dozed off. He awoke the following morning to the sound of noisy rustling and shouting. Through his blurry eyes he could see two figures outside his cell, one of which was waving an object wildly in the air. As his eyes readjusted to the darkness, he realized he was looking at two guards and a third figure came into view; the prisoner from the cell beside him. The guards grabbed the man and repeatedly hit him with the blunt weapon at the knees, causing the man to fall flat on his face and yell out in elongated agony. 

     “Right. Now I bet you’ll think twice about trying’ something like that, won’t you?” one of the guards said. “Off to the guillotine with you, thief.” The man shot a desirous look to Aidan, his sunken eyes forever engrained in his mind. Before anything else could be said or done, the weary old man was taken away, his broken legs dragging on the cold floor behind him.  

     In the cell Aidan had no concept of time, and now with his neighbour gone, he was truly alone. He spent considerable time thinking about the events that had occurred and hoped that his brother and sister weren’t worried about where he disappeared to. He had to laugh a little at the idea, as surely Abigail and Joseph were enjoying a little bit of freedom. He knew he had bought enough bread to last them through the week, and he had faith that the people in town would assist them if they needed anything in his absence. He had to have faith in that, at least, as his future was entirely unknown.

The guards came back down into the dungeon hours later. Aidan sat himself upright looking as innocently as humanly possible with his spine straight and shoulders down. He waited patiently to be addressed as the lump in his throat returned.

“Aidan Turner?” one enquired. Aidan nodded delicately.

“The fool tried to harm Lord Mavericks’ kids,” the second guard scoffed. 

“Never would have guessed you were the one they were talking about all day,” 

said the other, grinning slyly. “Now get off the ground. Up! Lord Maverick wants to see you.” Without showing any sign of compassion, the guards pulled Aidan up as rashly as they had done the thief and clipped him at his knees with their batons. Aidan stifled his pain and the guards guided him up the stairs to Lord Maverick’s study without another word.
When they entered the study, there was only silence. The guards nudged Aidan forward and faced him in front of Lord Maverick’s table where he sat on a gold encrusted throne. He was surrounded by seven of the royal advisors whom all looked straight ahead; Aidan felt like they were looking through him rather than at him and he felt oddly comforted by that. The study was dimly lit as well despite the lanterns that hung on every wall between exquisite portraits of the royal family. Aidan couldn’t help but feel like they were all brazenly judging him as he stood, handcuffed, before the most influential man in all of Cairnwell. 

“Well go on boy, explain yourself. Why are you wasting space in my dungeon?” Lord Maverick asked finally. The words slithered through his gritted teeth. 

For the first time since being arrested days prior, Aidan was given the opportunity to explain himself and everything that took place leading up to this meeting. He stuttered his way through the details, careful to let out anything that might save him from a lifetime in the castle cells. He was shaking with every breath as he related to the Lord that he worked two jobs to support himself and his younger siblings and he had never gotten himself into any trouble before and that surely he would understand that this was all a massive misunderstanding. He was not interrupted, nor challenged on any of his accusations. When he was completely finished, he was ordered back to his cell until Lord Maverick and his advisors were able to determine a suitable punishment. 

    Aidan felt like it was hours later when the Lord finally ventured into the dark dungeon. He arrived alone.

     “I would like to begin my by offering my profoundest regret for the circumstances that led you here,” the Lord stated, dragging his fingers along the cell bars. He hung his head distressingly and sighed heavily. “Those kids are always getting themselves in and out of trouble for petty crimes, so I can believe your story,” he admitted. “My advisors, I’ll have you know, took significantly more convincing. Frankly, I know more about them than they think I do. Wool over my eyes; that’s what they believe, but I am not nearly so blind.” Aidan was puzzled.
“I promise I would not ever lie to you, my Lord,” he said, kneeling before him. He winced in pain as his knees pressed against the floor. Lord Maverick appeared not to notice. 

“However if word gets out about this little misunderstanding,” he gestured to the cells, “I will be finished. A laughing stock. Unfit. Do you understand me?” 

“I’m not so sure I do, Sir. Am I free to go home?” he questioned earnestly. He feared he was destined to meet the same fate as the thief; he pictured the guillotine being sharpened and primed for execution as they spoke. 

“Yes.” Lord Maverick confirmed. Aidan’s face swelled up as tears began to pool in the corners of his eyes. “This has happened too often.Ttoo many lives, I fear, have been lost senselessly.” He balled his hand into a fist and pounded the cells. Aidan recoiled. “Is there anything I can do which will keep your mouth closed on this whole spectacle?” Lord Maverick was looking at Aidan now; the question lingered in the space between them.

Aidan was stunned. He began stammering through his agreement with the ruling 

and promising not to say a word to a single soul when he recalled a conversation he once had with his grandfather. On the day his grandfather left Cairnwell, he pulled Aidan aside and told him that the opportunities one seek don’t always surface during ideal situations, and that when faced with such gifts it is one’s responsibility to take them. Not to would be careless and wasteful. It was the one conversation that had made him feel better about his grandfather’s move, and subsequently had stuck with him ever since. Aidan took a deep breath, looked confidently at Lord Maverick and started, “Well, there is one thing I’d like…”

    Months later, on a beautifully windless warm day, Aidan walked to the blacksmith’s as he normally did after dropping his brother and sister off at a pretty new neighbour’s house who he had recently taken a liking to. They had, as it turns out, grown worried when he last disappeared on them, and so he was careful to ensure they were always being watched over as he worked. Upon finishing at the blacksmith’s he walked over to the piazza, guitar grasped firmly in his hand. As he was playing that afternoon he was suddenly approached by the same little man with the beaver hat whose name he later learned was Ramsay. Ramsay was carrying a letter scribed specifically for Aidan and he was to stand with him as he read it. The envelope had a beautifully hand crafted gold trim and simply was the most elegant piece of paper Aidan had ever seen. He almost didn’t want to open it, but caught up in the excitement he ripped it so hastily he nearly damaged the note inside. The letter read;

    ‘Dear Sir Aidan Turner,

Lord Maverick has requested the honour of having you perform a solo arrangement before the entirety of the empire on Sunday, August 9th, as we celebrate the union of Duchess Penelope of Alba and Duke William of Cairnwell. Enclosed is a formal invitation to the grand event. We trust that you will not let us down. 

Be well.
      Charles O’Connell, Advisor.’

Aidan was so thrilled that much to Ramsay’s surprise he kissed him right smack on his lips, packed up his things and raced home to tell the good news to Joseph and Abigail. 

That summer Aidan fulfilled his lifelong dream of performing for the royal family. He had played his heart out at the wedding using the very same battered up guitar his grandfather gave him those many years ago. The entire Maverick family loved every minute of his performance, and after multiple encores he was surprised with a brand new acoustic guitar handed to him by none other than Graham and Mallory Mavis.
“For your troubles,” Mallory told him, her face ripe with shame.

“We haven’t stolen since!” Joseph proclaimed. Aidan thanked the two children and told them all was forgiven. They darted back promptly to their parents who too apologized on their behalf.
Aidan went on to become one of the most well known musicians in the country and was frequently commissioned to perform at formal events, including the passing of the throne from Lord Maverick to Duke William a few years later. But even after all the fame and praise he received, every now and then Aidan would set himself up with his guitar outside of the damp alleyway in the piazza where he first encountered Mallory and Graham Maverick, the young thieves that changed his life forever.


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