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The Three Loves of Persimmon  - Cassandra Golds

The Three Loves of Persimmon

Paperback

Published: 25th August 2010
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Published: 25th August 2010
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Persimmon lives a solitary life, pouring her passion into the florist shop she owns in the underground railway station. Her only companion is Rose, a talking cabbage. Intriguing young men come and go but Persimmon has yet to find the love of her life.

Several levels beneath Persimmon's shop lives a mouse called Epiphany. Epiphany has a questing mind. She wants to know what lies beyond the dark tunnels of her home. As in all good fables, Persimmon and Epiphany are destined to meet. And when they do, life will never be the same again.

About The Author

Cassandra Golds is the author of Michael and the Secret War, Clair-de-Lune, The Mostly True Story of Matthew and Trim, and The Museum of Mary Child.

A Mouse Called Epiphany

In a tiny hole under the train tracks on the deepest level of a vast underground railway station, lived a mouse called Epiphany.

The station was so large that it had six levels, all below ground, and each one deeper than the last. The five lower levels were for trains. The top one was for the administrative section, where one bought tickets, looked at timetables, made enquiries, stood in queues, consumed stale currant buns and cups of tea (in the Railway Refectory) and generally did everything connected with travelling on trains that was not actually travelling on trains. This highest level also had a dozen or more shops which, their colours made mysterious by the soft gaslight, resembled the jewels in Aladdin's cave.

There were three entrances, and walking down into the station from one of them was like walking into a network of subterranean caverns, each one closer to the centre of the earth. Trains chuff-chuff-chuffed in and out in clouds of ghostly steam, along deep, dark tunnels, almost continually. On Platform One, the busiest, where lived Epiphany, there was one every six minutes. And this all sat in the centre of a great city. It was said that you could catch a train from that station to almost anywhere in the world, and in a roundabout way this was probably true.

The station, with its vast underground arteries and trains rushing in and out, north, south, east, west, resembled a great heart: the heart of the city around it. And there were those who swore that sometimes, late at night, when the city was quiet, if you passed by along the empty street, you could hear it beating.

Way above Platform One, on the surface over the railway station, there were beautiful Botanical Gardens, with flowers of every colour and variety, great noble trees that had been planted long before the city existed; fountains, statues, birds and pleasant places to sit and dream. So large were the Botanical Gardens that, if you stood in the middle of them, it was impossible to believe you were in a city.

Epiphany knew nothing of this.

And any visitor to the station – a traveller waiting on Platform One, for example – would have known nothing of Epiphany, either.

She was so softly, velvetly grey, and so softly, velvetly brown (for that is what mouse coloured means) that even if the traveller had been looking onto the line in her direction – even if he had been looking right at her – he would have had difficulty distinguishing her from the gravel around the sleepers.

Epiphany was small even as mice go, and had bright black eyes and sensitive silvery whiskers and the softest, littlest, listeningest ears imaginable. She spent her waking hours foraging; and, as there were always plenty of people passing through the railway station, there was always plenty of food. So what with one thing and another – a scrap of orange peel here, a stick of liquorice there – she was well provided for. She was so small, and so quick, and so clever, that nothing but the smartest cat could have caught her.

And yet she was sad and nervous, and she did not know why.

Epiphany had lived in the tiny hole in the hollow beneath the railway line on Platform One all her life, as had generations of mice before her. Indeed, she was a member of a leading mouse family. But neither she, nor any of the mice around her, knew anything about the world outside Platform One. In fact, all her life Epiphany had been discouraged from talking or even thinking about such things. Even Platform Two, which was on the same level, and from which the trains approached and departed in the opposite direction to those on Platform One, was thought of as another country, too exotic to be taken into consideration.

'Mama,' she would sometimes say to her mother, if they had had a particularly good meal – an unaccountably abandoned apple and some chocolate cake crumbs, perhaps – and her mother seemed in a particularly indulgent mood, 'have you really never wondered what it would be like to live Somewhere Else?'

Her mother, a plump, ladylike mouse with slightly nearsighted eyes, always looked shocked.

'And leave all this?' she would say, gesturing vaguely at the dizzyingly distant black ceiling. 'My dear, our family has lived under this railway line for generations! This is our ancestral home. We have a position to uphold. Besides,' she added comfortably, 'there is no Somewhere Else.'

Epiphany considered this deeply, although already her sensitive mouse ears could hear the rumble of an approaching train.

'But Mama,' she said pleadingly after a moment, 'the trains, I cannot help wondering about them. Where do they come from? Where do they go to?'

'Well not Somewhere Else, that's for sure,' said her mother briskly. 'Epiphany, darling, I don't wish to be cross with you, but really, there are some things best not thought about. In fact, I would say that it's positively indecent for a mouse to imagine living Somewhere Else, especially a mouse in your position. I've told you time and again, one does not think about things one cannot see. It is just not done. This is your home, and if this were not the best place in the world to live, we would not be living here. You must seek to develop selfdiscipline, and master these unwholesome thoughts.'

At this point the train would be so nearly upon them that the last part of her mother's words were inaudible, strain as Epiphany might. The two mice would duck automatically out of sight, as the rumbling along the line grew louder and louder and the chuff-chuff-chuffing slower and slower, and finally the screeching train drew slowly into the station, its massive wheels rolling over the line above them.

Every six minutes, on Platform One, all activity, all conversation, all thought, had to cease while a train pulled into, and out of, the station. Every six minutes throughout her waking life, Epiphany had to duck into her hole with her paws over her ears and wait until the train pulled out again; and even in her sleep the trains arrived and departed, arrived and departed, between her dreams. Conversation was difficult; serious thinking even more so. And yet for Epiphany this was normal, for she had never known anything different.

All the same, something deep in her heart told her that life did not have to be like this; that somewhere it was possible to talk and to think and to be in quietness and serenity and peace.

But she did not know how. And she did not know where.

ISBN: 9780143205012
ISBN-10: 0143205013
Audience: Children
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 216
Published: 25th August 2010
Dimensions (cm): 19.6 x 13.1  x 1.6
Weight (kg): 19.6