One rainy and cold March morning, The Muffin Man, a baker on Drury Lane near Covent Garden in London’s West End, set out with his umbrella and a fresh batch of warm English muffins.
“Get your muffins while they're hot!” he cheered, bopping down the street with a spring in his step. His orangish cat Ragamuffin was soaked from the drizzle as he followed The Muffin Man.
“Glad I didn’t waste time in the bath last night,” the cat quipped, catching raindrops on his tongue.
“You still need to take a regular bath,” The Muffin Man scolded. “Don’t wait for the downpour!”
Each morning, the baker had regular customers who enjoyed his warm English muffins with salted butter. He stopped by each of their homes, delivering his customers a morning treat like no other. Knocking on their doors, he handed them fresh muffins wrapped in quilted cloth napkins.
He always took extra muffins with him to sell to new customers that he might meet along the way. Ragamuffin joined him for the company and helped advertise the muffin business as the mascot.
“Do you know The Muffin Man, who lives on Drury Lane?” Mrs. Esme Mason called to passersby as she stood on her doorstep. Her children gathered ‘round her for their morning tasty joy.
“We all know The Muffin Man!” the people on the street laughed, digging in their pockets for change.
“We’d love some of your muffins, please,” they asked, taking a few from his basket and petting the cat.
Like most mornings, The Muffin Man also had special souls to whom he gave muffins for free.
“Thank you very much indeed, kind sir,” replied the impoverished homeless gent who lived on the corner of Drury Lane. As the sun peeked through the clouds, The Muffin Man handed the poorly dressed man a cup of hot tea from his basket.
“I look forward to your muffins each sunrise,” he quipped, taking a bite.
“Have a blessed day,” The Muffin Man told the smiling, but dirty, ragamuffin-of-a-man. The cat swished his tale in the vagabond’s nose, causing him to laugh out loud.
Although most people knew of the baker who travelled door-to-door, some people were surprised.
“Why, I’ve never tasted anything so delicious!” raved a young boy, hurrying to school.
“I want to try one, too!” inquired a young girl with an armful of wet schoolbooks, dripping from rain.
“Give some muffins to your friends,” suggested The Muffin Man, handing the girl a few extras.
One very special woman loved to make his acquaintance each morning, a schoolteacher named Miss Olivia Davies, who always had a new book in hand, lately famous poetry, such as Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.”
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,” she read, as The Muffin Man greeted her.
“I hope you’ll be my Muffin Woman,” he bantered, handing her a bouquet of flowers.
“Only if you’ll be my Muffin Man,” she joked, kissing him on the cheek while taking her muffins.
“I’ve been bribed for a duel in your honor again,” The Muffin Man told Olivia with a grin.
“What did you say to the fool who threatened you?” Olivia frolicked, raising an eyebrow.
“I told him that I’d meet him any day of the week with sword in hand!” The Muffin Man taunted.
“I don’t see that going well, honey,” Olivia warned. “Please tell him you’re not getting involved!”
“If you’re free for dinner, I’ll bring over a meat pie, and we can play dancing games,” The Muffin Man suggested, doing a little tap dance on her front step. “My cat will be glad to accompany us!”
Ragamuffin purred and rubbed his fury wet body against Olivia’s dry, flowered dress.
“I’ll make plum and apple cobbler for dessert,” he promised, as she nodded with delight.
“I’ll expect you by six o’clock sharp,” she agreed. “I’ll start a fire burning in the sitting room.”
As The Muffin Man left Olivia’s flat, a man dressed in a medieval armor appeared from nowhere.
“Fight me to the death for the hand of Olivia Davies, sir,” the false knight threatened.
“You have clearly lost your senses,” The Muffin Man responded. “Olivia wants nothing of the sort!”
“She gives me no choice!” the armored man announced, drawing his sword in the air.
The Muffin Man threw the remaining batch of muffins into the air, confusing his attacker. He grabbed Ragamuffin and ran down Drury Lane in retreat, as it began pouring rain.
“Alas, the gods have seen in my favor,” The Muffin Man declared to Ragamuffin.
As The Muffin Man hurried inside his bakery and shut the door, the foolish knight disappeared.
The baker shoved a muffin in his mouth with relief.
“I’m stuffed,” he joked, fluffing Ragamuffin’s fur. “I hope we never see that daft knight again, but I’m not so sure,” The Muffin Man sighed.
Despite all, Olivia and The Muffin Man enjoyed dinner by the fire, and The Muffin Man was home early enough to start his new batch of English muffins for morning delivery, just like every other morning.
Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters