Graham's True Stories
Number 7, Queen Bess
It was a very rare 1860s Queen Bess sewing machine, in outstanding condition, and the price was more than reasonable. We were in the living room of a pleasant middle-aged couple in the Bristol area who had rung to offer us the machine.
The man of the house explained how they had come by it. Seems he was a builder and, having agreed the price, erected a fence around the property of a very senior citizen, called at the door, announced he was finished and would like to be paid.
The VSC responded, saying that she didn't have any money but would cook him breakfast for the next month in lieu of payment. Our builder's wife didn't appear too happy at this prospect and the fence was written off as a bad debt. A couple of years later the old lady rang again. She wanted new glass put in a window. After some pressure she agreed to conventional payment - no breakfasts, or any other meals, in lieu.
When the job was finished she again pleaded poverty and handed over a paper sack. The builder stormed off. When he got home he examined the old sewing machine that the sack contained, shrugged, put the whole thing down to experience and consigned the machine to the attic.
Four years passed before the machine came to mind after the builder and his wife saw Maggie, my SO, on a TV show about collecting. He made contact, we did a deal, and left him pondering that although the price he got was more than enough for the window he wasn't really sure if it covered the fence as well.