I bet that child is in the lavender field again. I can see the attraction for her. Those strips of soil between the serried rows of plants provide a stadium of running tracks. She goes up and down each one, just like the horses plough their regular route in the crop fields. At least our Provençal soil is dry and powdery, so no muddy shoes. Looking over the fence, I can see the whorls of purple flowerheads are showing now. The fronds will have spread and may trip her up. Anyway, I’m afraid it may not be just the bees she has for company out there, because I have seen strange men around. There is usually only one reason people come to this part of St Remy, and that is for the asylum.
* * *
Grand-mère doesn’t know about Vincent. He isn’t like the others I see around the Saint-Paul buildings; seems kind. He talks to me through the bars of his window, and holds up paintings he has done of the wheat field he sees from his room. I feel sorry for him, with that bandage over his ear. I did try to find out what happened, but he just laughed it off and said “You’ll have to ask M. Gaugin about that”. So I still don’t know. He says he will be allowed to come outside soon, and that I should tell him when the lavender is ready.
* * *
Oh, here’s Marianne, only just before dark as usual, but walking instead of running today. What’s that she’s carrying? It’s a canvas, still wet. No wonder she’s holding it so gingerly, her fingers barely glancing the sides. The purple is so vibrant, brush strokes, tiny but rough, thick paint quickly applied, yet they are all in there, the stripes of lavender that stretch away into the distance to the stone wall and the hills. With those swirls of colour for the sky and the setting sun, it would look so cheerful on the cottage wall.
* * *
“It’s for you, grand-maman, a present, from Vincent, and from me. Happy birthday!”