This is a children’s book for ages 9-12 – I was advised by Waterstones who commented favourably on the book. I include the first three chapters as well as the poem in the epilogue.
cover illustration by Nicola Hardingham
Here is the back page synopsis with testimonials:
In the magical city of Salisbury, Cassina meets Steve who reveals doorways into the past – even to the beginning of Time. With her mother acting as guardian at the door, and hotly pursued by the enemy, Cassina dashes through time portals where adventures await…….
The speed and the wind rushing over her were exhilarating and the sight of so many millions of stars took her breath away.
‘Does your right hand know what the left hand is doing?’ Cassina looked around to see where the voice was coming from. There was no-one there.
“Have just read your book and enjoyed it very much.”
“I have just finished your book - I thoroughly enjoyed reading it - it left me thirsting for more!!
“That’s great, loved it.”
“A delightful story. Magical. Reading it was a pleasure.”
“I picked up your book on Sunday and read it that afternoon. I really enjoyed it, especially using Fisherton Street shops as ways through to another place…”.
The Garden of Eden
Chapter 1 – A new planet is born
Cassina was intrigued. Steve had told her there had been a mistake at the very beginning of Time at the moment of the Big Bang: a further, quite unexpected bang, had ensued immediately after the first almighty burst of energy. The one energy divided and the Dark sped off in one direction whilst the Light hurtled off in the opposite direction.
In a matter-of-fact voice Steve had told her a most jaw-dropping idea that this anomaly was soon to be corrected with the creation of a new, pristine universe where there would be no duality. Apparently, hard though it was to believe, a band of people had gone back through Time and created a new Big Bang that had worked this time, and not misfired like the first one.
It was now time to create a new physical world and, if she liked, Cassina could witness its creation. All she had to do was find a portal which resembled outer space – all doorways between dimensions will give clues as to their nature, Steve had pronounced. At the time, Cassina had thought the first idea ludicrous and the second, preposterous. However, despite the thoughts of her rational mind, Cassina couldn’t help feeling excited and found herself looking out for a doorway which fitted the description of ‘outer space’ and, and she walked down the street, she felt she had located just such a place. Perhaps Steve was right, perhaps Salisbury was a magical city after all.
Across the road her gaze settled upon an empty shop which looked dusty and neglected. The lower portion of its large window panes were pasted with A4 notices but between these could be glimpsed a dark, empty interior, not, in fact, unlike outer space. And the shop’s name, thought Cassina, was a dead giveaway, if ever there was one: the shop sign above had the words, Dr Who, contained within that famous lozenge shaped logo.
However, she did not pause but kept walking, fearful lest she was being watched by someone from the Dark Side. She knew they wished to perpetuate this present reality which has run its course, as the world around us is assuredly telling. We were repeating the same old story – the few having a stranglehold on the world’s energy, or, this time around, its raw materials, the plundering of which was reaching such a scale that the very survival of the planet was now in question.
It wasn’t until dusk that Cassina felt brave enough to venture forth to see if there really was an entrance at the empty Dr Who shop that would take her through space and time – after all, Dr Who was The Time Lord – back to the Beginning where she might witness the birth of a new world. Sure enough the road was quiet and the pavements empty. She stopped outside the shop trying not to look furtive and peered through the window. Nothing happened. She wasn’t sure what to expect. Determined to persevere she moved further along and stopped directly in front of the unprepossessing door. A pile of junk mail lying on the mat was clearly visible through the glass door. At that moment she noticed the air begin to shimmer like a waterfall and, involuntarily, she stepped towards it. The next moment, she found herself flying through what she could only describe as Outer Space as she could see stars twinkling all around.
The speed and the wind rushing over her were exhilarating and the sight of so many millions of stars took her breath away. She noticed with some alarm that she was making for a small area of complete blackness which was rapidly getting larger. Just when she began to feel frightened of this looming blackness she came to a halt and, recovering her breath, she made out a less black area and a gentle humming. Warily she walked towards it and slowly discerned a large circle of around 20 women who were making the humming sound.
Suddenly, one of the women bent down and picked something up which she put in the centre of the circle. The humming continued but, after a little while, another woman also bent down and retrieved something from outside of the circle and placed it on top of the stone. To her surprise, Cassina could perceive the smooth oblong stone of only 3 inches that was now the focus of the attention of all the women. Somehow, she understood what they were doing. They were creating the New World; furnishing it with the raw materials of life – earth, water, air, fire and ether.
She knew they had completed their task when they all smiled at one another and, at that precise moment, an object was lobbed into the sanctum of the inner circle by a man she could now see standing not far off, and she could see that it caused ripples in the energy field surrounding the newly created mass which transformed it from inert matter into something that was alive.
At the moment her consciousness understood this she found herself back on the pavement. Trying to look casual, she calmly turned away from the door and walked slowly along the street, crossed the road and turned into the lane to her terraced house.
Chapter 2 – The Golden Tree
Steve’s appearance was deceptive. He was short with stooping shoulders, a weather beaten face and small, bright blue eyes. The scruffy impression was largely due to his attire which consisted of a shapeless blue cotton jacket and cap to match, so that he resembled a worker from communist China. His voice was surprisingly deep, and comforting, due to the Wiltshire accent, and he had cheerful manner. However, his small, equally scruffy dog was called ‘Shay’ – as in ‘shaman’ – he explained, and he often walked with a sturdy walking stick that was so tall it qualified as a Wizard’s Staff.
She had gone in search of him in the public gardens, where they occasionally bumped into each other. She was not disappointed. She spied him and Shay in the distance crossing the bridge from the water meadows. Cassina waved; she was dying to tell him about her ‘Dr Who’ experience. His eyes twinkled in his lined, leathery face as he asked how she was.
‘You were right’ she couldn’t help blurting out. ‘I found the doorway; it just appeared and there I was, in outer space.’ She would have continued but Steve interrupted quietly;
‘And now the serious stuff can begin.’
Cassina was taken aback but before she could reply, he went on:
‘Now that you have seen for yourself that portals or entrances do exist, you can travel back in time to correct some of the anomalies set in train by the first Big Bang. Take the Garden of Eden for instance; what is the meaning of the snake? You have an opportunity to change the original script if you go back to that beginning. Do you follow the original script or write a new one? A chance – a glance through the window of time as it stands very still – no thought upon it – snake – green lady – pieces of eight. Find the right doorway and, don’t worry, you will get help along the way. Oh, and you will need someone to guard the entrance when you go through. Now you have been through once, those on the Dark Side have been alerted and they will try to slip through with you at your next attempt and thwart you. You might think of enlisting your mother’s help.’
He changed the subject and Cassina, putting aside the puzzle with which Steve had presented her, found herself slipping easily into everyday conversation before they went their separate ways.
* * *
Where, Cassina and her mother wondered, was the most likely location for the portal to take Cassina back in time to the beginning of the Garden of Eden? They went through a number of possibilities until they remembered that nearby Wilton House had once played host to the Elizabethan courtier, Sir Philip Sydney who, inspired by the beauty of the surrounding valley and downland, had written his Arcadia. It harked back to the Greek and Romans ideal of an earthly paradise. If Wilton was the setting for Arcadia, they felt sure the doorway must be nearby. They hit upon the idea of Wilton Garden Centre as being a very possible place. The same river that flowed through the Wilton Estate also ran by the Garden Centre which happened to be next to the Wilton Estate. Naturally there was free public access and, best of all, you were inconspicuous in amongst the plants and foliage. Cassina and her mother set off at the first opportunity on an afternoon when the sun was shining. The Garden Centre looked as beautiful as ever, framed as it is by the trees of the Wilton Estate. They were wandering down in the direction of the river when both saw the arch at the same time. A white clematis was growing up the arch and there was something about it that drew them irresistibly. Sure enough, as they drew closer, the air through the arch began to shimmer. Cassina’s mother whispered to her to go through quickly whilst she watched her back.
Cassina stepped through into a forest suffused with a soft, glowing, green light, while her senses were assailed by the delicious aroma of damp earth and vegetation. Then it hit her. There were no sounds: not a bird sang, not a leaf moved. There was an all-pervading air of stillness. She remembered Steve’s words about the Garden of Eden ‘standing very still’. All at once, Cassina realised she was back in that Garden before Time began, when the earth was newly made and waiting for life to inhabit her.
She thought of what else he had said – something to do with a snake and a green lady. The green lady must be Eve. Wasn’t it a snake that had tempted Eve to eat of the Forbidden Fruit of the Tree that stood at the centre of the Garden of Eden? She hoped that if she found the snake that it, too, would be frozen, like everything else in the forest.
She wandered through this eerie idyll, content for the moment to enjoy the beauty of the trees and sparkling streams and to inhale the cool, refreshing air. Then she saw them; the snake and the green lady together, gazing lovingly at each other. The snake was enormous and seemed to be part of the earth so that the trees appeared to be growing on its back. Standing sideways on, just in front of the snake, thus obscuring part of its head, was the ‘green lady’, Eve. Her hair was in a ponytail and she was expecting a baby. Cassina blinked to make sure she was seeing properly. She was seeing correctly: Eve’s body formed part of the snake’s head. They were joined. How odd!
She realised the significance of this still moment in time. The snake was Eve’s Other Self and they were still connected, although, she thought with alarm, they were beginning to pull apart. Duality had not yet been born and could still be prevented. What must she do to change the script in this precious moment? Something out of place in the scene caught her eye. To her left, leaning incongruously against the trunk of a tree, was a small blackboard with words written on it in white chalk. She walked over to have a peer and, as she knelt down, she noticed a matchbox on the grass, which she picked up.
The words on the blackboard were as follows:
Strike the spark of Life
A tinderbox can be struck once
To create a spark
So that two sparks won’t fly
She thought the tinderbox somewhat poetic, as she looked at the Bryant & May matches in her hand, but she could be in no doubt as to what she was to do. There must only be the one spark – and not a second one – so that Duality would not be born. The snake was the symbol for the aberration that was Duality with its forked tongue and split eye.
But she was forgetting the other clue, ‘Pieces of Eight’. At home, Cassina had given this enigmatic phrase some thought. In the context of the green snake, the ‘s’ at the end of ‘Pieces’ is the symbol for a snake, whilst the number ‘8’ can be described as being an ‘S’ joined with its mirror image. The expression ‘pieces of eight’ is notoriously associated with pirates and their lust for gold ducats, doubloons or, ‘pieces of eight’ – in other words it is a metaphor for greed, which is pretty much the reason for the current plight of the planet and all its creatures.
When the snake is united with its mirror image, or shadow, the ‘S’ is automatically removed from the word ‘Piece’ because it has been turned into the ‘8’, so that the word now sounds like ‘Peace’. Eight is also the number for Infinity. The original phrase has been turned into ‘Peace of Eight’ showing us that because the Light and the Dark have been reunited, we will live in peace and harmony in a new Garden of Eden, for infinity. Rivers will no longer be cut up by dams into ‘pieces of eight’; greed will no longer rule.
Resolutely, Cassina stood up and, taking a match out of the box, struck the match. In an instant everything changed. The forest became swathed in mist, the snake and Eve were lost from view and the great forest became filled with sound. Cassina was awed by the primeval feeling in the air. Gradually, a faint light began to appear through the mist as the sun rose ever higher. It felt as if the world was newly born.
As the mist began to disperse Cassina wandered slowly through the forest with the uncomfortable feeling that she had not quite accomplished what Steve expected of her. In a small clearing she saw two peacocks and thought to herself: ‘I really am in Paradise’. They each had an object in their beaks which, on closer inspection turned out to be two dead snakes. She took it as a sign that the snake had not separated from Eve this time around and was therefore no more.
A beautiful young woman entered the glade with flowers threaded in her long golden hair. What was so extraordinary was that she was golden all over. Her golden skin glowed and her eyes shone with pure joy as she skipped past Cassina. There could be no mistaking that she was Eve, but she was green no longer.
‘I must now plant my garden,’ she trilled happily as she put her hand into a pocket and drew out a handful of seed.
‘I will scatter them on the river so they can reach all four corners of the Garden.’ And with that she was gone, laughing merrily.
Finally, Cassina realised what had been nagging at her: she wished to see The Tree in the Garden of Eden. She felt it would show her that she had got things right. Most importantly she wished to see with her own eyes that the Snake, traditionally entwined around the trunk, was no longer there, nor lurking nearby. So she continued walking until she entered a large circular clearing in the forest and, at its centre, stood The Tree of Life. Cassina had the impression that the trees on the perimeter were leaning lovingly in towards this magnificent tree laden with golden apples for, like Eve, it too was no longer green but golden.
Of course, Cassina new the old stories of myth and legend that say ‘In the very Beginning’ there was a Golden Age where the inhabitants were never ill nor did they grow old. It had been downhill ever since. We fell from grace into the Silver Age and ever lower. She could see that the snake, as well as those creatures shut out in the Darkness of Duality, would have felt excluded from the glory and beauty and that, out of spite, they would have wished to destroy that bliss. It all made perfect sense. And now we were back at the Beginning of a new Creation, in a new Golden Age and the snake was no more so that the Golden Age might, this time around, go on forever.
Wandering back through the forest, she suddenly glimpsed the Golden Eve kneeling beside a river. She seemed to be concentrating very hard on something in her lap, and she was singing. Overcome with curiosity, Cassina walked towards her. As she drew closer she recognised the song, a well-known nursery rhyme which begins thus:
I had a little nut tree
Nothing would it bear
But a silver nutmeg
And a golden pear
As Cassina emerged from the wood, Eve looked up and smiled.
‘Do you like my golden apple tree?
‘It’s very pretty’, Cassina replied.
‘The apples on the Golden Tree are just like the fruit of the Little Nut Tree, except that each fruit contains a mixture of both the golden pear and the silver nutmeg. That is why the King of Spain’s daughter will soon be visiting.
Cassina could quite see why the Spanish Princess would want to cross the wide seas to visit such a magnificent golden tree with such fruit. Eve went back to fiddling with what looked like string in her lap. Finally, she let out a cry of frustration.
‘Perhaps you will help me?’ she asked Cassina. ‘I am trying to make a human body with this twine but it keeps springing out of my hand.’ And as she looked up Cassina could clearly see that Eve’s eyes were golden with green flecks.
‘I will do my best’ Cassina replied dubiously, wondering how one made a body out of garden twine, for she could now see that that is what the string was. Curiously, it was rusty red, rather than the usual green beloved of gardeners.
Eve explained what she was trying to do. The twisted twine was the Human DNA of the ‘Twins’. She wished to make the Twins – one male, the other female – into One Being by tying each end of the length of twine together to make a circle. Eve explained she wished to ‘tie a butterfly’, which Cassina realised was Eve’s way of saying ‘tie a bow’. Firstly, it would look prettier than a knot and secondly, it would neatly demonstrate the two small circles made by a bow, or butterfly, being joined and becoming the one large circle beneath.
‘Perhaps this is what was meant to have happened in the first Beginning?’ Cassina thought to herself. ‘Were the different sex bodies never meant to have been?’
So, while Cassina held the twine down with her forefinger, Eve finally managed to make a bow and was highly delighted with the result. She arose, thanking Cassina and saying she must go and tend her garden. Cassina set off once again, attempting to retrace her steps. She trudged on and on, thinking there had to be an easier way to get back when, all of a sudden she saw a large expanse of shimmering air and knew this was her way out.
The next minute she found herself back in the Wilton Garden Centre on the other side of the arch, as if she had never left. Her mother gave her a keen, inquiring look and remarked that she had disappeared from view when she walked through the arch but that she had reappeared almost simultaneously.
Chapter 3 – The Shadow World
‘You have also created a Wasteland,’ Steve calmly replied. Cassina had been telling Steve all about her experiences in the Garden of Eden, as they walked along the footpath by the river.
‘You missed the clues. Didn’t you see the Tatterdemalians in the shadows of the trees? There was also another clue’, he added.
‘What are Tatterdemalians?’ Cassina asked, then thinking better of it, she added quickly, ‘Don’t worry; I’ll look it up when I get home’.
Trying hard to disguise her disappointment and confusion, they walked on in silence until Steve suggested that she had better do what Alice did, and go through the Looking Glass. Cassina was more confused than ever.
A few days later, she finished reading Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass, and as she put the book down the germ of an idea began to form in her mind: there really was a mirror, or shadow world which was the opposite of our world, and the Tatterdemalians were part of it. The English Dictionary’s definition of the word was a person dressed in ragged clothes, whilst Thesaurus wrote: a dirty, shabbily clothed urchin. Thesaurus also gave: broken-down, dilapidated, ramshackle, tumble-down, bedraggled, derelict. The meaning was unequivocal; tatterdemalions were the rejected people in society forced to live their pitiful lives in the shadows, mostly out of sight. This was why she had failed to notice their silent presence in the shadows of the trees. In Alice’s mirror world you experience the opposite of what we are used to finding in the visible world. Hence, when Alice went through the Looking Glass, she discovered she needed to run in order to stay put and, in order to reach her desired destination, she had to set off in the opposite direction to the one she wanted to go in.
Then it dawned on her that the reason for the Shadow World being left out or marginalised could surely be traced back to the original experiment that was the Big Bang. Her mind had fairly boggled when she first heard such a momentous event as the Beginning of Time being called ‘an experiment’ which, furthermore, had gone awry practically straightaway, the first almighty explosion being swiftly followed by a second. It was this that had caused the Dark to separate from the Light. Trying to make sense of everything, it seemed to Cassina that, although she had prevented Eve’s Shadow self splitting away i.e. her Snake self, the Garden itself had also become separated, and Steve was showing her that this anomaly also needed to be put right. Somehow, she must find a way of uniting the two halves of the Garden of Eden – on the one hand there was the desolation of the Wasteland and on the other, the beautifully scented Garden, teeming with life.
Cassina smiled. She already knew where the next time portal was most likely to be – the shop, Alice’s in Wonderland. It sold dancing gear that included a lot of pink and white items such as pink ballet pumps and white tutus. Appropriately therefore, the shop front was painted in wide pink and white candy stripes. The effect was somewhat outrageous, particularly as the doors were reminiscent of the swing doors of a saloon bar in an American movie of the Wild West. She wondered if the shop had a looking glass like the one Alice went through, but she never did find out.
If there had been someone from the Opposition following them in the Wilton Garden Centre, Cassina and her mother had not noticed. All the more reason, they reasoned, to be extra vigilant as they set out for Alice’s in Wonderland. They both scanned the length of Water Lane which, luckily, happened to be empty. As they reached the top of the lane prior to crossing the road, her mother turned to look behind them and saw to her horror a very thin man with narrow shoulders, thin flaxen hair and small eyes which were looking directly at them: and those eyes were hard and humourless.
‘Don’t turn round, but there is someone behind us.’
They had to wait a tantalising few seconds before being able to cross the road, by which time the person was standing right beside Cassina.
As they crossed the road, Cassina’s mother stepped between her and the man. They stopped outside the window of the pink and white shop to see what their pursuer would do. Brazenly, he stopped too. Without exchanging a word Cassina and her mother went into action. Cassina began walking towards the entrance to the shop whilst her mother followed her, walking backwards and not taking her eyes off the man, ready to physically stop him. He stood still, clearly not wanting to create a scene. Cassina saw the shimmering light and stepped through into another world.
She found herself in what was unmistakably a municipal park. There were the different shaped flower beds ablaze with colour as well as the neatly mown grass and trimmed hedges. She then realised what was out of place with the scene. Although the flowers were blooming, people were dressed in winter clothes.
‘Oh my goodness,’ she thought, ‘I really have gone through Alice’s Looking Glass and everything is the opposite of what it should be.’
For a while she stood where she was merely observing the surroundings until she noticed something odd in the people’s behaviour. Every now and then someone would stop and place their hands over a flower bed, noticeably relax, or give a shiver, before walking on.
‘What on earth are they doing’, Cassina thought to herself.
Nothing loath, she boldly went up to a young mother holding the hands of two small children and asked politely why people were putting their hands over the flower beds. Cassina could see the mother was surprised by what she clearly thought an obvious question.
She replied: ‘When people’s hands are cold, they warm them up by holding them over the red flowers, or when they are feeling mentally sluggish, say, they hold them over a patch of yellow flowers. Warming to the subject she went on: ‘Or if they wish to improve their concentration they look for indigo coloured flowers. If you want to…’
‘Oh, I see.’ Cassina interrupted, seeing this helpfulness might stretch too far. She tried to sound casual, although her mind was reeling from the explanation.
She thanked the woman and, wishing to show that she was quite normal really, said she was a visitor to the town and where might she find The Wasteland please. Looking visibly relieved, the woman smiled and pointed Cassina in the right direction.
Fortunately, although it was May in her world, Cassina was wearing a jacket so did not stand out too much from the winter clad inhabitants. She couldn’t make out whether the temperature was warm or cold so gave up on the conundrum. Exiting the park, she found herself walking down the main street of a small town with the usual shops. She had been told that The Wasteland was to be found where a building project of a block of flats had stalled due to the recession. Turning off the main road, she walked through a wide, covered alley between a row of Victorian buildings. It took her into a long courtyard with a large building at the far end. On her left was The Wasteland. A modest block of flats was to have been built there to fill in a vacant space but work had scarcely begun before being abandoned. This had clearly been some months’ ago because a desolate feeling hung over the place like a pall.
Cassina peered through the high wire fencing that separated her from that desolate place and the tidy, organised world where she stood. Piles of orange coloured builder’s sand lay like slag heaps in several place and tall grasses had grown in uneven patches. Just at that moment, she caught sight of a rat darting into a small patch of open land before disappearing into the long grass. Staring more intently at the scene she noticed how broken branches from the straggly hedging of a railway embankment that ran alongside The Wasteland, lay on the ground like writhing snakes.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, there was a large ‘FOR SALE’ sign on the land whilst, on Cassina’s side of the fence, she noticed a large ‘SOLD’ sign in front of a small business. An idea began to form in her mind, but how to put it into effect? Each sign was mutually exclusive of the other, i.e. a place couldn’t be ‘For Sale’ if it was ‘Sold’, and vice versa. If she could somehow combine the two, that should do it. At that moment she was startled by a voice coming out of nowhere.
‘Does your right hand know what the left hand is doing?’ Cassina looked around to see where the voice was coming from. There was no-one there.
‘Over here, silly,’ the voice urged.
She looked in the direction where she thought the sound might have come from and her eyes rested on the ‘SOLD’ Sign and, to her utter amazement, she noticed a pair of pale, watery blue eyes, a nose and a mouth on the board, which were very much alive.
Once she had got over the shock of a talking sign, she asked it to explain what it meant by its remark. Articulating very carefully the Sign repeated what it had just said. Cassina had to stifle a laugh and compose her features as the Sign looked so ridiculous carefully pursing its lips to make the individual sounds.
‘If your right hand does not know what the left hand is doing, that means the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing, but if you bring the palms of both hands together, then they will each know what the other is doing.’
‘Why, that’s how I can unite the two Signs,’ Cassina thought. She realised Steve was right: she was given clues when she needed them.
Feeling relieved and excited at the same time, she thanked the Talking Sign effusively. ‘Thank you, thank you. By bringing the palms of my hands together The Wasteland will cease to exist.’
‘You have already done it,’ said the Sign in a superior voice.
‘No, I haven’t.’
‘Yes, you have.’
She was just about to contradict him again when she stopped herself, realising that this was becoming childish.
‘Well, I am going to do it anyway,’ she replied stubbornly.
Imagining that her left hand was the ‘FOR SALE’ Sign and that her right hand was the SOLD Sign, she slowly began moving the palms together. The atmosphere around her became still, expectant, and the sounds of everyday life muted. As her palms met, the fencing, the buildings and the derelict land all fell away. She felt herself being swept backwards through a tunnel but instead of finding herself on the pavement as she fully expected, she found herself elsewhere.
This time, judging by the enormous castle in the distance, she must be in the formal gardens of a French Chateau. As she adjusted herself to this new environment she realised that the gardens were vast – square upon square of low, neatly trimmed box hedging containing patterns of hearts, diamond, clubs and spades out of the same hedge. Topiary trees with a spiral design stood sentinel at the entrances. However, what could not fail to attract attention was that the vegetation was not green but golden yellow, and the flowers filling the patterns were sugar pink. She observed that the most popular pattern within the squares were pairs of hearts facing each other with the tips pointing away.
She was in a sunken area, so decided to climb the stone steps to get a better view. The gardens were impressive, if somewhat bizarre, given the golden vegetation. She wondered if Eve’s new Garden of Eden had anything to do with it. Stretched out before her was a large lake surrounded by a wide tree-lined gravel path. Walking along the avenue, she crossed a small bridge where the water from the lake overflowed into a narrow canal with small bridges criss-crossing. The water made a pretty burbling sound as it flowed down the series of steps under the bridges.
Coming back to her senses Cassina was wondering if she were completely alone in the garden when a man came running along the gravel path towards her. He was dressed in red and gold breeches with a gold braided jacket to match. A white wig with sausage roll curls either side of a centre parting and a small pony tail at the back with a black bow, completed the outfit. He looked remarkably like a footman who had lost his gilded carriage. Addressing her in an urgent, breathless voice he uttered:
‘Perhaps you can help? We are so worried. The King and Queen have turned pink and refuse to rule anymore. They just sit in the rose-decked arbour gazing into each other’s eyes. What is to be done?’
Feeling flattered she was being asked to help in such a serious matter, Cassina replied that she was not sure she could be of any assistance but she would gladly visit their Majesties. The footman proceeded to lead her through the formal gardens until they came to a screen of tall hedging. They turned to follow the line of the hedge until, to Cassina’s alarm, the footman disappeared from view. He had slipped through a concealed entrance and Cassina anxiously followed. She found herself in the most beautiful garden filled with flowers and butterflies and the soft cooing of doves which she could see in the boughs of the trees. At the far end of the golden lawn she espied a swinging seat in an arbour where the king and queen sat holding hands and gazing at each other.
As she walked with the footman towards their Majesties – Cassina with some trepidation – a glinting object at the edge of a flower bed caught her eye. It was a jewel encrusted crown that must have been discarded by one of them.
On reaching the edge of the arbour, the footman cleared his throat loudly whereupon the King and Queen turned towards him, still holding hands.
‘I have brought this lady to advise you, your Majesties.’ The King and Queen turned a solemn gaze on Cassina, who asked how she might be of assistance.
They gave a collective sigh and replied in unison:
‘We have been like this ever since we turned pink. We used to be three people each – one white, one red and one black but now we have become one person each and it is quite blissful. But we do so long to unite our two hearts.
Cassina’s mind was rapidly sifting through what she could remember of the story of Alice in Wonderland and she could only recall a white king and queen and a red king and queen – not a black pair.
‘Excuse me, but are you sure there was a black king and queen?’ Cassina asked politely.
‘Oh yes, they just weren’t visible. But can’t you tell? They give extra lustre to the wonderful shade of pink we have become.’
It was true; the shade of pink was quite beautiful. Remembering her recent experiences, Cassina cast about thinking of how she might help the King and Queen become One Heart. Her eyes lit upon a small round table to one side of the swinging seat, which was set as if for Valentine’s Day. There was an ice bucket with a bottle of champagne, two champagne flutes and a large heart-shaped box of chocolates which had been opened but left untouched with the lid left at a rakish angle.
‘I see it is Valentine’s Day today’ Cassina commented to give herself time, although an idea was already formulating in her mind.
‘It is always Valentine’s Day – ever since we turned pink that is. Now you can understand our yearning.’
With a burst of clarity Cassina replied: ‘Why, all you need do is each take one half of the heart box and unite the Two Halves. That should do it.’
The King and Queen grasped eagerly at this idea and, without hesitation, the King passed the lid to his wife, for he was the nearest to the table, picked up the bottom tray himself and tipped the chocolates unceremoniously on to the grass. The King and Queen then rose to their feet and, facing each other, with great concentration and solemnity, slowly brought the two halves of the box of chocolates together.
As they came together, the King and Queen began to merge, at which point the footman fainted, and Cassina felt a familiar rushing sound in her ears and the scene began to fade away. The next moment she really was standing on the pavement outside Alice’s in Wonderland.
(A poem from a lexigram of the word ‘Weedon’ which is a village in the heart of England where they even have a pub called The Heart of England
We (ar)e done w(ith) weed and woe
No weed, no woe, no Need
On New Eden
New dew on down,
On doe, on ewe
Nod (t)o no one
Need no one
Wed (as) oNe
 A lexigram is composed of words made solely from the letters of a particular word or words, for eg, WEEDON
© Cassina in the Garden of Eden by C A Martin 2012