Monsieur Muffat gazed across the lavender field; the ambling wind was waving her hand across the purple plants, making them shiver as she passed. The sun was radiant and the distant bleat of a sheep added to the drowsy fragrance of the dallying lavenders. Monsieur Muffat, though, waited for a child to show up and ask him for lavender; but no child showed up, no child had showed up, since the last fall.
Monsieur Muffat was a grizzled man; who’d often wear a hazel leather jerkin and wander along his lavender field, caressing each plant, as if it were his baby. Children would come to the field, and he’d give them each a lavender plant in return of a book. He was a merchant, himself he could’ve bought any book if he wanted, but he said, “When children lend you a book they’ve read, they give you something more than just a story, they give you a part of their innocence…their smile, it makes you beautiful, every day.”
“There’d come a day, children wouldn’t come to you anymore,” the heavily ‘bearded’, horseman, Monsieur Noah, had told Muffat.
“Really? And why would that happen?” Muffat had asked incredulously.
“Because one day, they wouldn’t part with their stories for lavenders, those stories are priceless, if you want to be a part of their stories, you’d have to go to them,” Noah had answered; Muffat nodded, he didn’t believe him though.
Monsieur Muffat waited and waited; as the vibrant sun began to hide under the blanket of indigo sky, and the sheep’s bleat withered away, too; Muffat was all set to go back to his little cottage north of the field. He walked tediously along a line of lavender plants, until he finally came out of the field, then looking one last time at the silent field, expecting a hiding child to pop his head from somewhere there, he began walking homewards.
“Monsieur Muffat, can I get a lavender plant? I’ve brought a book,” a voice came from somewhere, behind Muffat.
Muffat turned in disbelief, and then his gaze fell upon a little boy, standing near the field, holding a book close to his chest.
“Well of course you can have a plant lil’ one,” Muffat almost cried in excitement as his face lit with a broad smile.
“Well that’s very kind of you sir, I have this book here it’s about one Renaud Bernard, a knight in a shiny armor, would you like that?” questioned the boy innocently.
“Oh I love stories of adventure, have you read it? did you like it?” asked Muffat as he reached the boy.
“No I haven’t sir, I’m sorry, I came for the lavenders, I love their smell, a gentleman gave this book to me, he told me what it was about,” said the boy looking at Monsieur Muffat with grateful eyes.
“Why not dear?” asked Monsieur Muffat, puzzled.
“I don’t know how to read, sir,” the boy confessed as his cheeks turned ‘redder’.
Monsieur Muffat looked at the boy with pitiful eyes then all of a sudden his eyes lit as his head was hit by an idea.
“Boy, come here tomorrow with this book, will you?” asked Monsieur Muffat.
“Sure sir, but my lavender?” asked the boy confusingly, to which Muffat smiled mildly and patted him gently on his head.
The next day, the lavenders in the field were quite cheery, as the little boy walked alongside Monsieur Muffat, petting them on the way.
“You see lil’ boy, I’m going to read this book to you, and in the coming days I’ll teach you how to read,” said Monsieur Muffat.
“You will?” the boy said with a broad smile, to which Muffat nodded benignly.
That day Monsieur Muffat read the story of the knight Renaud Bernard, to the little boy. In the coming days, Muffat would read more books to the boy, until a year later the boy would become so good at reading that he’d began to write stories himself. And one day thanking Monsieur Muffat, he’d bid him farewell and would leave with a lavender plant.
There were no children at the field again, and as the dozy scent of lavenders amused the brightly colored sky, Monsieur Muffat waited for someone to show up. Muffat was sad, he had a life, but he didn’t have a story. A gentle wind blew past Monsieur Muffat, touching his cheeks tenderly, and Muffat waited there until the sun dozed off.
Once it was dark, Muffat walked to his little cottage, northwards. A thought occurred to him, ‘why can’t he just buy books and read them, why children?’ But then it withered away. He knew it was their imagination that had brought those characters alive, how was he supposed to imagine without them?
Inside his cottage, it was dull and lonely. In a corner rested a pile of books that he’d exchanged for lavenders. Muffat sat in his rocker deep in thought, he was missing the children. He was missing their stories.
He looked at the books, and thought, “Why am I wasting my time being sad for these stories, they aren’t even real, I’m a merchant, I sell fine, being sad for stories is so child-like.” He forced a smile, when there was a knock at his door. He ambled toward it still maintaining his fake smile which soon turned into a joyous amazement, as he found it was the same little boy at his door, whom he taught to read.
“Oh my love, to what do I owe this pleasure,” said Monsieur Muffat, as he invited the little boy in.
“Monsieur Muffat, I told the story of the knight Renaud Bernard to a few of my friends, who don’t know how to read either, would you mind teaching them too?” saying so the little boy stepped aside for Monsieur Muffat to have a look at his friends.
Monsieur Muffat stepped out to find children gathered outside his little cottage, a lot of them, each was carrying a book.
Monsieur Muffat’s joy knew no bounds, he invited them all inside. Muffat read to his friends all night, until they all slept. The next morning, when the sun was as refulgent as ever, he took them to the lavender field.
The children played, danced and read as the luscious lavenders dawdled along the brisk wind. Monsieur Muffat’s field of lavenders bloomed with joy and adventure. In the days to come, there were to be more learners at the field, more readers…more storytellers.