Authors: Robin Jarvis
THE DEPTFORD MICE
THE DARK PORTAL
Acorn Independent Press
Also by the Author
Dancing Jax 2: Freax and Rejex
The Thorn Ogres of Hagwood
THE DEPTFORD MICE
The Crystal Prison
The Final Reckoning
THE DEPTFORD MOUSELETS
THE DEPTFORD HISTORIES
The Alchymist’s Cat
The Oaken Throne
TALES FROM THE WYRD MUSEUM
The Woven Path
The Raven’s Path
The Fatal Strand
THE WHITBY WITCHES
The Whitby Witches
A Warlock in Whitby
The Whitby Child
Visit the author’s website:
Acorn Independent Press Ltd
125 Clock House Road
First Published in Great Britain in 1989 by Macdonald & Company (Publishers) Ltd
This edition published in Great Britain in 2012 by Acorn Independent Press Ltd
The Author hereby asserts his moral rights to be identified as the Author of the Work.
Copyright © Robin Jarvis 1989
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers.
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent, this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
Robin Jarvis writes: ‘Whenever I am asked where I get my ideas for books and characters, I always wish I could come up with some weird and wonderful answer: “I dream them,” for example, or, “I get inspired whenever there’s a full moon.” But, unfortunately, neither of these is true. Like many writers, I sometimes base my characters on real people (or parts of real people) and sometimes they are the complete product of my imagination. But they generally all start as a sketch or drawing and then take shape as a character is developed around them.
‘I started making sketches of mice because they were the smallest things I could think of to draw. When I sent them to a publisher, I was asked if there was a story to go with the drawings. At the same time there wasn’t, but I sat down and thought of a project visually and drew a story board as though I were making a film. I had envisaged it as a picture book, but it became a 70,000 word manuscript, and the basis for The Dark Portal.
‘My editor thought this manuscript would make a trilogy because it was so long. So I went away and cut it, and then came up with new ideas for books two and three of The Deptford Mice Trilogy – The Crystal Prison and The Final Reckoning. And I’ve been writing ever since.
‘I can’t think of a better way to earn a living!’
For my parents
Loving father and devoted husband. Albert is a commonsensical mouse, not usually given to rash actions.
Fat and jolly, Arthur likes a scrap but always comes off worse.
Tends to dream. She likes to look her best and wears lace and ribbons. Audrey cannot hold her tongue in an argument, and often says more than she should.
Gentle wife of Albert and caring mother of Arthur and Audrey. Her love of her family binds it together and keeps it strong.
Silly old gossip who gets on the nerves of everyone in the Skirtings.
Arabel’s son is an albino runt. Oswald is very weak and is not allowed to join in some of the rougher games.
A cheeky young mouse from the city, Piccadilly has no parents and is very independent.
A retired midshipmouse. Thomas is a heroic old salt – he does not suffer fools gladly.
WILLIAM SCUTTLE OR ‘TWIT’
Twit is a fieldmouse visiting Arabel Chitter, his mother’s sister. Twit is an innocent, and does not have a bad word to say about anyone.
ELDRITCH AND ORFEO
Are brothers, and as bats see far into the future. Bat advice is a very dangerous thing to seek, for they tell you only fragments of what they know.
THE GREEN MOUSE
A mysterious figure in mouse mythology. He is he spirit of spring, and of new life.
A black rat from Morocco. She is a fortune-teller who wanders around selling potions and charms to gullible customers.
A sly old worker – one of his ears is missing, but he doesn’t miss much.
A dirty old rat with bad breath and spots on his nose.
A popular rat who is threatening to oust Morgan from office.
The great dark God of the Sewers. He lives in the dark portal and possesses awesome powers. All fear him.
A rat with a terrible squint. He and Vinegar Pete are old cronies.
The Cornish piebald rat who is Jupiter’s lieutenant. Morgan trusts no one, and does all Jupiter’s dirty work.
A rat with a mouse-peeler strapped on to his stump of an arm.
A strong giant of a rat who works in the mine.
This rat never smiles. His face is always sullen and he and Leering Macky mutter to themselves.
When a mouse is born he has to fight to survive. There are many enemies – owls, foxes and of course, cats; but mice suffer far more at our hands. I have heard of a whole family of kind, gentle mice, wiped out by eating poison – four generations gone and only the baby left because it was too small to eat solids.
Mice are all descended from rural families and they remember their traditions wherever they live. They honour the green spirits of the land as Man once did and every spring they hold a celebration for the awakening year, calling to the Green Mouse to ripen the wheat and see them safe.
In a borough of London called Deptford there lived a community of mice. An old empty house was their home and in it they fashioned a comfortable life for themselves. People never disturbed them with traps, and because all the windows were boarded up they never even saw a cat.
So they dwelt there quite happily. In the winter they would visit the building next to theirs where a blind old lady lived and eat from her pantry. She never minded; her nephews always brought cakes and chocolates so there was too much for her alone. The mice never took more than they needed anyway. There were also berries on the trees that hugged the house and some of the younger mice would venture outside to pick them. The only blight on their carefree existence was the sewers – or rather the rats that lived in them. Cut-throats and pirates the lot, of them. Thin and ugly, a rat would smack his lips at the thought of Mouse for dinner. He would kill, peel and, if he was a fussy eater, roast it. Not that the rats ever came out of the sewers – they had enough muck and slime down there to keep them happy. No, what worried the mice was the Grille.