The sun was setting, and the air grew colder, heavy with the smell of coming snow. It was early in the season for the temperatures to drop this low, and the man huddled his shoulders against the wind, hitching the carefully padded bag up higher on his shoulders. He had spent the week working on an order of violin necks, his rough hands artfully tracing the curves of the scroll and smoothing out the sides where the ebony met the maple. He loved the satiny feel of the raw wood and felt a tinge of sadness as he rushed to deliver them to his friend in the next village over. There, his necks would be joined with violin bodies made by another family of artisans. Then they would be taken across the border into Czechoslovakia for varnishing and labels.
He knew that he would not see the final violins but was proud of his work. He was one of the luthiers that made the famous instruments being shipped to America under the name of John Juzek. He often wondered whose fingers would touch the ebony of his fingerboard. A young man headed for the conservatory? A wealthy patron collecting instruments to be used in parlor chamber music concerts? It made no difference…He knew that his work would live on, and make music, for generations to come.