First Harp

The smell of shavings hit him as he entered the workshop. The journeymen and apprentices greeted him as he crossed to the low workbench in the corner. He withdrew a cloth-wrapped bundle from beneath the bench and set out its contents, three pieces of satinwood stock.

At seven years of age, Robinton was not yet expected to be able to craft a harp, but he had spent a great deal of time in the workshop, watching the artisans work and asking them about their craft. Finally tiring of his questions, they had encouraged him to practice what he learned. Under an approving journeyman’s eye, he had selected the stock carefully: straight-grained pieces for the soundboard and column and a strongly figured piece for the neck.

He readied the soundboard stock. From the tool cupboard, he borrowed a small-handed smoothing plane. He tested the iron against his thumbnail, increased its depth slightly, tested it on the stock, and adjusted it again. The first full stroke brought the rich scent of satinwood to his nostrils.

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