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Children's Blue Bird
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As soon as Tyltyl and Mytyl were in bed, Light kissed them and faded
once, so as not to disturb their sleep with the rays that always
her beautiful self.
It must have been about
midnight, when Tyltyl, who was dreaming of the
little Blue Children, felt a soft velvet paw pass to and fro over his
was surprised and sat up in bed in a bit of a fright; but he was soon
when he saw his friend Tylette's glowing eyes glittering in the dark.
"Hush!" said the Cat in his
ear. "Hush! Don't wake
anybody. If we can arrange to slip out without being seen, we shall
Blue Bird to-night. I have risked my life, O my dearest master, in
plan which will certainly lead us to victory!"
"But," said the boy, kissing Tylette, "Light would be so glad to
and besides I
should be ashamed to disobey her…."
"If you tell her," said the
Cat, sharply, "all is lost,
believe me. Do as I say; and the day is ours."
As she spoke these words, she
hastened to dress him and also Mytyl, who
had heard a noise and was asking to go with them.
"You don't understand,"
groaned Tyltyl. "You are too
small: you don't know what a wicked thing we are doing.…"
But the treacherous Cat
answered all his arguments, saying that the
reason why he had not found the Blue Bird so far was just the fault of
who always brought brightness with her. Let the Children only go
themselves, in the dark, and they would soon find all the Blue Birds
men's happiness. The traitress displayed such cleverness that, before
Tyltyl's disobedience became a very fine thing in his own eyes. Each of
Tylette's words provided a good excuse for his action or adorned it
generous thought. He was too weak to set his will against trickery,
himself to be persuaded and walked out of the temple with a firm and
step. Poor little fellow: if he could only have foreseen the terrible
Our three companions set out
across the fields in the white light of the
moon. The Cat seemed greatly excited, did nothing but talk and went so
the children were hardly able to keep up with her:
"This time," she declared,
"we shall have the Blue Bird, I
am sure of it! I asked all the Trees in the very oldest forest; they
because he hides among them. Then, in order to have everybody there, I
Rabbit to beat the assembly and convoke the principal Animals in the
They reached the edge of the
dark forest in an hour's time. Then, at a
turn in the road, they saw, in the distance, some one who seemed to be
towards them. Tylette arched her back: she felt that it was her
enemy. She quivered with rage: was he once more going to thwart her
he guessed her secret? Was he coming, at the last moment, to save the
She leant over to Tyltyl and
whispered to him, in her most honeyed voice:
"I am sorry to say it is our
worthy friend the Dog. It is a thousand
pities, because his presence will make us fail in our object. He is on
of terms with everybody, even the Trees. Do tell him to go back!"
"Go away, you ugly thing!"
said Tyltyl, shaking his fist at the
Dog. Dear old faithful Tylô, who had come because he
suspected the Cat's plans,
was much hurt by these hard words. He was ready to cry, was still out
from running and could think of nothing to say.
"Go away, I tell you!" said
Tyltyl again. "We don't want
you here and there's an end of it…You're a nuisance,
The Dog was an obedient
animal and, at any other time, he would have
gone; but his affection told him what a serious business it was and he
"Do you allow this
disobedience?" said the Cat to Tyltyl, in a
whisper. "Hit him with your stick."
Tyltyl beat the Dog, as the
"There, that will teach you
to be more obedient!" he said. The
poor Dog howled at receiving the blows; but there was no limit to his
self-sacrifice. He went up to his young
pluckily and, taking him in his arms, cried:
"I must kiss you now you've
Tyltyl, who was a
good-hearted little fellow, did not know what to do;
and the Cat swore between her teeth like a wild beast. Fortunately,
Mytyl interfered on our friend's behalf:
"No, no; I want him to stay,"
she pleaded. "I'm frightened
when Tylô's not there."
was short and they had to come to a decision.
"I'll find some other way to
get rid of the idiot!" thought the
Cat. And, turning to the Dog, she said, in her most gracious manner,
shall be so pleased if you will join us!"
As they entered the great forest, the Children stuck close together, with the Cat and the Dog on either side of them. They were awed by the silence and the darkness and they felt much relieved when the Cat exclaimed:
"Here we are!
Turn the diamond!"
Then the light spread around
them and showed them a wonderful sight. They
were standing in the middle of a large round space in the heart of the
where all the old, old Trees seemed to reach up to the sky. Wide
a white star amidst the dark green of the wood. Everything was peaceful
still; but suddenly a strange shiver ran through the foliage; the
and stretched like human arms; the roots raised the earth that covered
came together, took the shapes of legs and feet and stood on the
tremendous crash rang through the air; the trunks of the Trees burst
each of them let out its soul, which made its appearance like a funny
Some stepped slowly from
their trunks; others came out with a jump; and
all of them gathered inquisitively round our friends.
The talkative Poplar began to
chatter like a magpie:
"Little Men! We shall be able
to talk to them! We have done with
silence!... Where do they come from? ….Who are they?"
And so he rattled on.
The Lime-tree, who was a
jolly, fat fellow, came up calmly, smoking his
pipe; the conceited and dandified Chestnut-tree screwed his glass into
to stare at the Children. He wore a coat of green silk embroidered with
white flowers, lie thought the little ones too poor-looking and turned
"He thinks he's everybody,
since he has taken to living in town! He
despises us!" sneered the Poplar, who was jealous of him.
"Oh, dear, oh, dear!" wept
the Willow, a wretched little
stunted fellow, who came clattering along in a pair of wooden shoes too
him. "They have come to cut off my head and arms for firewood!"
Tyltyl could not believe his
eyes. lie never stopped asking the Cat
"Who's this?… Who's that?…"
And Tylette introduced the soul of each Tree to him.
There was the Elm, who was a
sort of short-winded, paunchy, Crabby gnome;
the Beech, an elegant, sprightly person; the Birch, who looked like the
in the Palace of Night, with his white flowing garments and his
gestures. The tallest figure was the Fir-tree: Tyltyl found it very
see his face perched right at the top of his long, thin body; but he
gentle and sad, whereas the Cypress, who stood near him, dressed all in
frightened Tyltyl terribly.
However, so far nothing very
dreadful had happened. The Trees, delighted
at being able to talk, were all chattering together; and our young
simply going to ask them where the Blue Bird was hidden, when, all of a
silence reigned. The Trees bowed respectfully and stood aside to make
way for an
immensely old Tree, dressed in a long gown embroidered with moss and
leant with one hand on a stick and with the other on a young Oak
acted as his guide, for the Old Oak was blind. His long white beard
"It's the King!" said Tyltyl
to himself, when he saw his
mistletoe crown. "I will ask him the secret of the forest."
And he was just going up to
him, when he stopped, seized with surprise
and joy: there sat the Blue Bird before him, perched on the old Oak's
"He has the Blue Bird!" cried
the boy, gleefully. "Quick!
Quick! Give him to me!"
"Silence! Hold your tongue!"
said the greatly shocked Trees.
"Take off your hat, Tyltyl,"
said the Cat. "It's the
The poor Child at once obeyed
with a smile; he did not understand the
danger that threatened him and he did not hesitate to answer, "Yes,
Sir," when the Oak asked him if he was Tyl the woodcutter's son.
Then the Oak, trembling with
rage, began to lay a terrible charge against
"In my family alone," he
said, "your father has put to
death six hundred of my sons, four hundred and seventy-five uncles and
twelve hundred cousins of both sexes, three hundred and eighty
and twelve thousand great-grandsons!"
No doubt his anger made him
exaggerate a little; but Tyltyl listened
without protest and said, very politely:
"I beg your pardon, Sir, for
disturbing you…. The Cat said that
you would tell us where the Blue Bird was."
The Oak was too old not to
know all there was to know about Men and
Animals. He smiled in his beard when he guessed the trap laid by the
Cat and he
felt very glad at it, for he had long wished to revenge the whole
forest for the
slavery to which Man had subjected it.
"It's for the Fairy
Bérylune's little girl, who is very ill,"
the boy continued.
"Enough!" said the Oak,
silencing him. "I do not hear the
Animals . . Where are they?.... All this concerns them as much as us
the Trees, must not assume the responsibility alone for the grave
have become necessary."
"Here they come!" said the
Fir-tree, looking over the top of
the other Trees. "They are following the Rabbit … I can see
the souls of
the Horse, the Bull, the Ox, the Cow, the Wolf, the Sheep, the Pig, the
the Ass and the Bear…"
All the Animals now arrived.
They walked on their hind-legs and were
dressed like human beings. They solemnly took up their positions in a
among the Trees, all except the frivolous Goat, who began to skip down
avenues, and the Pig, who hoped to find some glorious truffles
among the roots that had newly left the ground. "Are all here
present?" asked the Oak.
"The Hen could not leave her
eggs," said the Rabbit, "the
Hare was out for a run, the Stag has pains in his horns and his corns,
is ill – here is the doctor's certificate… the Goose did
understand and the
Turkey flew into a passion…."
"Look!" whispered Tyltyl to
Mytyl. "Aren't they funny?
They are just like the rich children's fine toys in the windows at
The Rabbit especially made
them laugh, with his cocked hat over his big
ears, his blue, embroidered coat and his drum slung in front of him.
Meanwhile, the Oak was
explaining the situation to his brothers the Trees
and to the Animals. Treacherous Tylette had been quite right in
"The child you see before
you," said the Oak, "thanks to a
talisman stolen from the powers of Earth, is able to take possession of
Bird and thus to snatch from us the secret which we have kept since the
we know enough of
Man to entertain no doubt as to the fate which he reserves for us, once
he is in
possession of this secret .... Any hesitation would be both foolish and
criminal... It is a serious moment; the child must be done away with
is too late..."
"What is he saying?' asked
Tyltyl, who could not make out what the
old Tree was driving at.
The Dog was prowling round
the Oak and now showed his fangs:
"Do you see my teeth, you old
cripple?" he growled.
"He is insulting the Oak!"
said the Beech indignantly.
"Drive him out!" shouted the
Oak, angrily. "He's a
"What did I tell you?''
whispered the Cat to Tyltyl. "I will
arrange things... But send him away."
you be off!" said Tyltyl to the Dog.
"Do let me worry the gouty
old beggar's moss slippers!" begged
Tyltyl tried in vain to
prevent him. The rage of Tylô, who understood
the danger, knew no bounds; and he would have succeeded in saving his
the Cat had not thought of calling in the Ivy, who till then had kept
distance. The Dog pranced about like a madman, abusing everybody. He
"Come on, if you dare, you
old ball of twine, you!"
The onlookers growled; the
Oak was pale with fury at seeing his authority
denied; the Trees and the Animals were indignant, but, as they were
one of them dared protest; and the Dog would have settled all of them,
if he had
gone on with his rebellion. But Tyltyl threatened him harshly; and,
yielding to his docile instincts, Tylô lay down at his
master's feet. Thus it
is that our finest virtues are treated as faults, when we exercise them
From that moment, the
Children were lost. The Ivy gagged and bound the
poor Dog, who was then taken behind the Chestnut-tree and tied to his
"Now," cried the Oak, in a
voice of thunder, "we can take
counsel quietly... This is the first time that it is given us to judge
Man! I do
not think that, after the monstrous injustice which we have suffered,
remain the least doubt as to the sentence that awaits him... ."
One cry rang from every
"Death! Death! Death!"
The poor Children did not at
first understand their doom, for the Trees
and Animals, who were more accustomed to talking their own special
not speak very distinctly; and, besides, the innocent Children could
imagine such cruelty!
"What is the matter with
them?" asked the boy. "Are they
"Don't be alarmed," said the
Cat. "They are a little
annoyed because Spring is late .... "
And she went on talking into
Tyltyl's ear, to divert his attention from
what was happening.
While the trusting lad was
listening to her fibs, the others were
discussing which form of execution would be the most practical and the
dangerous. The Bull suggested a good butt with the horns; the Beech
highest branch to hang the little Children on; and the Ivy was already
The Fir-tree was willing to
give the four planks for the
coffin and the Cypress the perpetual grant of a tomb.
far the simplest
way," whispered the Willow, "would be to drown them in one of my
And the Pig grunted between
my opinion, the
great thing would be to eat the little girl…. She ought to
be very tender…"
we have to decide is which of us shall have the honour of striking the
honour falls to
you, our King!" said the Fir-tree.
I am too old!"
replied the Oak.
am blind and infirm!
To you, my
evergreen brother, be the glory, in my place, of striking the decisive
shall set us free."
But the Fir-tree declined the
honour on the pretext that he was already
to have the pleasure of burying the two victims and that he was afraid
He suggested the
Beech, as owning the best club.
is out of the
question," said the Beech.
know I am worm-eaten!
Ask the Elm
and the Cypress."
Thereupon the Elm began to
moan and moan: a mole had twisted his great
toe the night before and he could hardly stand upright; and the Cypress
himself and so did the Poplar, who declared that he was ill and
fever. Then the Oak's indignation flared up:
"You are afraid of Man!" he
exclaimed. "Even those
unprotected and unarmed little Children inspire you with terror!...
shall go forth alone, old and shaky and blind as I am, against the
enemy!…. Where is he?…."
And groping his way with his
stick, he moved towards Tyltyl, growling as
Our poor little friend had
been very much afraid during the last few
minutes. The Cat had left him suddenly, saying that she wanted to
the excitement, and had not come back. Mytyl nestled trembling against
he felt very lonely, very unhappy among those dreadful people whose
anger he was
beginning to notice. When he saw the Oak marching on him with a
he drew his pocket-knife and defied him like a man:
"Is it me he's after, that
old one, with his big stick?'' he cried.
But, at the sight of the
knife, Man's irresistible weapon, all the Trees
shook with fright and rushed at the Oak to hold him back. There was a
and the old King, conquered by the weight of years, threw away his
"Shame on us!" he shouted.
"Shame on us! Let the Animals
The Animals were only waiting
for this! All wanted to be revenged
together. Fortunately, their very eagerness caused a scrimmage which
murder of the dear little ones.
Mytyl uttered piercing
"Don't be afraid," said
Tyltyl, doing his best to protect her.
"I have my knife."
"The little chap means to die
game!" said the Cock.
"That's the one I shall eat
first," said the Pig, eyeing Mytyl
"What have I done to all of
you?" asked Tyltyl.
"Nothing at all, my little
man," said the Sheep. "Eaten my
little brother, my two sisters, my three uncles, my aunt, my grandpapa
grandmamma.… Wait, wait, when you're down, you shall see
that I have teeth
And so the Sheep, the Ass and
the Horse, who were the greatest cowards,
waited for the little fellow to be knocked down before they dared take
share in the spoil.
While they were talking, the
Wolf and the Bear treacherously attacked
Tyltyl from behind and pushed him over. It was an awful moment. All the
seeing him on the ground, tried to get at him. The boy raised himself
knee and brandished his knife. Mytyl uttered yells of distress; and, to
all, it suddenly became dark. Tyltyl called wildly for assistance:
Tylô! Tylô!... To the rescue!... Where is
Tylette?.... Come! Come!..."
The Cat's voice was heard in
the distance, where she was craftily keeping
out of sight:
"I can't come!" she whined.
All this time, plucky little
Tyltyl was defending himself as best he
could, but he was alone against all of them, felt that he was going to
and, in a faltering voice, cried once more:
Tylô!... I can't hold out!... There are too many
of them!... The Bear!... The Pig! The Wolf! The Ass! The Fir-tree! The
Tylô! Tylô! Tylô!.."
Then the Dog came leaping
along, dragging his broken bonds and elbowing
his way through the Trees and Animals and flung himself before his
he defended furiously:
"Here, my little god! Don't
be afraid! Have at them! I know how to
use my teeth!"
the Trees and Animals raised a loud outcry:
Sneak!…. Leave him!…. He’s a dead
man!…. Come over to us!…"
alone against all of you!…. Never! Never!…True to
the gods, to the best, to
the greatest!…. Take care, my little master,
here’s the Bear!…. Look out
for the Bull!"
Tyltyl vainly tried to defend
done for, Tylô!
It was a blow from the Elm! My hand’s bleeding!" And he
dropped to the ground.
I can’t hold out
are coming!" said
hear somebody!….We are saved! It is Light!….
Saved! Saved!…. See,
they’re afraid, they’re retreating!….
Saved, my little king!…"
And, sure enough, Light was
coming towards them; and with her the dawn
rose over the forest, which became light as day.
is it?…. What
has happened?" she asked, quite alarmed at the sight of the little ones
their dear Tylô covered with wounds and bruises.
my poor boy,
didn’t you know? Turn the diamond quickly!"
Tyltyl hastened to obey; and
immediately the souls of all the trees
rushed back into their trunks, which closed upon them. The souls of the
also disappeared; and there was nothing to be seen but a cow and a
browsing peacefully in the distance. The forest became harmless once
Tyltyl looked around him in amazement:
"No matter," he said, "but
for the Dog... and if I hadn't
had my knife! . ."
Light thought that he had
been punished enough and did not scold him.
Besides, she was very much upset by the horrible danger which he had
Tyltyl, Mytyl and the Dog,
glad to meet again safe and sound, exchanged
wild kisses. They laughingly counted their wounds, which were not very
Tylette was the only one to
make a fuss:
"The Dog's broken my paw!"
Tylô felt as if he
could have made a mouthful of her: "Never
mind!" he said. "It'll keep!"
"Leave her alone, will you,
you ugly beast?" said Mytyl. Our
friends went back to the Temple of Light to rest after their adventure.
repenting of his disobedience, dared not even mention the Blue Bird of
had caught a glimpse; and Light said to the Children, gently:
"Let this teach you, dears, that Man is all alone against all in this world. Never forget that."