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Children's Blue Bird
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THE grandfather's clock in
Tyl the woodcutter's cottage had struck eight;
and his two little Children, Tyltyl and Mytyl, were still asleep in
beds. Mummy Tyl stood looking at them, with her arms akimbo and her
up, laughing and scolding in the same breath:
"I can't let them go on
sleeping till mid-day," she said.
"Come, get up, you little lazybones!"
But it was no use shaking
them, kissing them or pulling the bed-clothes
off them: they kept on falling back upon their pillows, with their
pointing at the ceiling, their mouths wide open, their eyes shut and
cheeks all pink.
At last, after receiving a
gentle thump in the ribs, Tyltyl opened one
eye and murmured:
Light?…Where are you?…. No, no, don't go
"Light!" cried Mummy Tyl,
laughing. "Why, of course, it's
light.... Has been for ever so long!… What's the matter
with you?… You look
"Mummy!... Mummy!" said
Tyltyl, rubbing his eyes. "It's
"Why, of course, it's I!...
Why do you stare at me in that
way?… Is my nose turned upside down, by any chance?”
Tyltyl was quite awake by
this time and did not trouble to answer the
question. He was beside himself with delight! It was ages and ages
since he had
seen his Mummy and he never tired of kissing her.
Mummy Tyl began to be uneasy.
What could the matter beg Had her boy lost
his senses? Here he was suddenly talking of a long journey in the
company of the
Fairy and Water and Milk and Sugar and Fire and Bread and Light! He
that he had been away a year!...”
"But you haven't left the
room!" cried Mummy Tyl, who was now
nearly beside herself with fright. "I put you to bed last night and
you are this morning! It's Christmas Day: don't you hear the bells in
"Of course, it's Christmas
Day," said Tyltyl, obstinately,
"seeing that I went away a year ago, on Christmas Eve!…
You're not angry
with meg … Did you feel very sad?... And what did Daddy
"Come, you're still asleep!"
said Mummy Tyl, trying to take
comfort. "You've been dreaming!... Get up and put on your breeches and
little jacket ...."
"Hullo, I've got my shirt
on!" said Tyltyl.
And, leaping up, he knelt
down on the bed and began to dress, while his
mother kept on looking at him with a scared face.
The little boy rattled on:
"Ask Mytyl, if you don't
believe me.... Oh, we have had such
adventures!... We saw Grandad and Granny... yes, in the Land of
was on our way. They are dead, but they are quite well, aren't they,
And Mytyl, who was now
beginning to wake up, joined her brother in
describing their visit to the grand-parents and the fun which they had
their little brothers and sisters.
This was too much for Mummy
Tyl. She ran to the door of the cottage and
called with all her might to her husband, who was working on the edge
"Oh, dear, oh, dear!" she
cried. "I shall lose them as I
lost the others!... Do come!... Come quick..."
Daddy Tyl soon entered the
cottage, with his axe in his hand; he listened
to his wife's lamentations, while the two Children told the story of
adventures over again and asked him what he had done during the year.
"You see, you see!" said
Mummy Tyl, crying. "They have
lost their heads, something will happen to them; run and fetch the
But the woodcutter was not
the man to put himself out for such a trifle.
He kissed the little ones, calmly lit his pipe and declared that they
very well and that there was no hurry.
At that moment, there came a
knock at the door and the neighbour walked
in. She was a little old woman leaning on a stick and very much like
the Fairy Bérylune.
The Children at once flung their arms around her neck and capered round
"It's the Fairy
The neighbour, who was a
little hard of hearing, paid no attention to
their cries and said to Mummy Tyl:
have come to ask for a bit of fire for my
Christmas stew .... It's very chilly this morning .... Good-morning,
Meanwhile, Tyltyl had become a little thoughtful. No doubt, he was glad to see the old Fairy again; but what would she say when she heard that he had not the Blue Bird? He made up his mind like a man and went up to her boldly:
"It's the Blue Bird we were looking for! We have been miles and miles and miles and he was here all the time!"
"Fairy Bérylune, I
could not find the Blue Bird… "
"What is he saying?" asked
the neighbour, quite taken aback.
Thereupon Mummy Tyl began to
fret again: "Come, Tyltyl, don't you
know Goody Berlingot?"
"Why, yes, of course," said
Tyltyl, looking the neighbour up
and down. "It's the Fairy Bérylune."
asked the neighbour.
answered Tyltyl, calmly.
"Berlingot," said the
neighbour. "You mean
Tyltyl was a little put out
by her positive way of talking; and he
Berlingot, as you please, ma'am, but! know what I'm
saying .... "
Tyl was beginning to have enough of it:
"We must put a stop to this,"
he said. "I will give them a
smack or two."
"Don't," said the neighbour;
"it's not worth while. It's
only a little fit of dreaming; they must have been sleeping in the
My little girl, who is very
ill, is often like that...."
Mummy Tyl put aside her own
anxiety for a moment and asked after the
health of Neighbour Berlingot's little girl.
"She's only so-so," said the
neighbour, shaking her head·
"She can't get up... The doctor says it's her nerves... I know what
cure her, for all that. She was asking me for it only this morning, for
She hesitated a little,
looked at Tyltyl with a sigh and added, in a
"What can I do? It's a fancy
The others looked at one
another in silence: they knew what the
neighbour's words meant. Her little girl had long been saying that she
well if Tyltyl would only give her his dove; but he was so fond of it
refused to part with it....
"Well," said Mummy Tyl to her
son, "won't you give your
bird to that poor little thing? She has been dying to have it for ever
"My bird!" cried Tyltyl,
slapping his forehead as though they
had spoken of something quite out of the way. "My bird!" he repeated.
"That's true,! was forgetting about him!... And the cage!... Mytyl, do
see the cage?…It's the one which Bread carried... Yes, yes,
it's the same one,
there it is, there it is!"
Tyltyl would not believe his
eyes. He took a chair, put it under the cage
and climbed on to it gaily, saying:
"Of course, I'll give him to
her, of course, I will!..." Then
he stopped, in amazement: "Why, he's blue!" he said. "It's my
dove, just the same, but he has turned blue while I was away!"
And our hero jumped down from
the chair and began to skip for joy,
"It's the Blue Bird we were
looking for! We have been miles and
miles and miles and he was here all the time!... He was here, at
but how wonderful!... Mytyl, do you see the bird? What would Light
There, Madame Berlingot, take him quickly to your little girl.... "
While he was talking, Mummy
Tyl threw herself into her husband's arms and
moaned: "You see?... You see?.... He's taken bad again. He's
Meantime, Neighbour Berlingot
beamed all over her face, clasped her hands
together and mumbled her thanks. When Tyltyl gave her the bird, she
believe her eyes. She hugged the boy in her arms and wept with joy and
"Do you give it me?" she kept
saying. "Do you give it me
like that, straight away and for nothing?... Goodness, how happy she
I fly, I fly!... I will come back to tell you what she says.... "
"Yes, yes, go quickly," said
Tyltyl, "for some of them
change their colour!"
Neighbour Berlingot ran out
and Tyltyl shut the door after her. Then he
turned round on the threshold, looked at the walls of the cottage,
around him and seemed wonderstruck:
"Daddy, Mummy, what have you
done to the house?" he asked.
"It's just as it was, but it's much prettier."
His parents looked at each
other in bewilderment; and the little boy went
"Why, yes, everything has
been painted and made to look like new;
everything is clean and polished.... And look at the forest outside
window!... How big and fine it is!... One would think it was quite
How happy I feel here, oh, how happy I feel!"
The worthy woodcutter and his
wife could not make out what was coming
over their son; but you, my dear little readers, who have followed
Mytyl through their beautiful dream, will have guessed what it was that
everything in our young hero's view.
It was not for nothing that
the Fairy, in his dream, had given him a
talisman to open his eyes. He had learnt to see the beauty of things
he had passed through trials that had developed his courage; while
Blue Bird, the Bird of Happiness that was to bring happiness to the
little girl, he had become open-handed and so good-natured that the
of giving pleasure to others filled his heart with joy. And, while
through endless, wonderful, imaginary regions, his mind had opened out
The boy was right, when he
thought everything more beautiful, for, to his
richer and purer understanding, everything must needs seem infinitely
Meanwhile, Tyltyl continued
his joyful inspection of the cottage. He
leant over the bread-pan to speak a kind word to the Loaves; he rushed
who was sleeping in his basket, and congratulated him on the good fight
had made in the forest.
Mytyl stooped down to stroke
Tylette, who was snoozing by the stove, and
You know me, I see, but you have stopped
Then Tyltyl put his hand up
to his forehead:
"Hullo!" he cried. "The
diamond's gone!... Who's taken my
little green hat?…Never mind, I don't want it any more!...
Ah, there's Fire!
Good-morning, sir! He'll be crackling to make Water angry!" He ran to
tap, turned it on and bent down over the water. "Good morning, Water,
good-morning!... What does she say?.... She still talks, but I don't
her as well as I did.... Oh, how happy I am, how happy I am!..."
"So am I, so am I!" cried
And our two young friends
took each other's hands and began to scamper
round the kitchen.
Mummy Tyl felt a little
relieved at seeing them so full of life and
spirits. Besides, Daddy Tyl was so calm and placid. He sat eating his
see, they are playing at being happy!" he said. Of course, the poor
man did not know that a wonderful dream had taught his little children
play at being happy, but to be happy, which is the greatest and most
"I like Light best of all,"
said Tyltyl to Mytyl, standing on
tip-toe by the window. "You can see her over there, through the trees
the forest. To-night, she will be in the lamp. Dear, oh, dear, how
lovely it all
is and how glad I feel, how glad I..."
He stopped and listened.
Everybody lent an ear. They heard laughter and
merry voices; and the sounds came nearer.
"It's her voice!" cried
Tyltyl. "Let me open the
As a matter of fact, it was
the little girl, with her mother, Neighbour
"Look at her," said Goody
Berlingot, quite overcome with joy.
"She can run, she can dance, she can fly! It's a miracle! When she saw
bird, she jumped, just like that...."
And Goody Berlingot hopped
from one leg to the other at the risk of
falling and breaking her long, hooked nose.
The Children clapped their
hands and everybody laughed.
The little girl was there, in
her long white night-dress, standing in the
middle of the kitchen, a little surprised to find herself on her feet
many months' illness. She smiled and pressed Tyltyl's dove to her heart.
looked first at the child and then at Mytyl: "Don't you think she's
like Light?'' he asked. "She is much smaller," said Mytyl.
"Yes, indeed!" said Tyltyl.
"But she will grow!..."
And the three Children tried to put a little food down the Bird's beak,
the parents began to feel easier in their minds and looked at them and
Tyltyl was radiant. I will
not conceal from you, my dear little readers,
that the Dove had hardly changed colour at all and that it was joy and
that decked him with a magnificent bright blue plumage in our hero's
matter! Tyltyl, without knowing it, had discovered Light's great
is that we draw nearer to happiness by trying to give it to others.
But now something happened.
Everybody became excited, the Children
screamed, the parents threw up their arms and rushed to the open door:
had suddenly escaped!
He was flying away as fast as he could. "My bird! My bird!" sobbed the
But Tyltyl was the first to
run to the staircase and he returned in
"It's all right!" he said.
"Don't cry! He is still in the
house and we shall find him again."
And he gave a kiss to the
little girl, who was already smiling through
"You'll be sure to catch him
again, won't you?" she asked.
"Trust me," replied our
friend, confidentially. "I now
know where he is."
also, my dear little readers, now know where the Blue Bird is. Dear
revealed nothing to the woodcutter's Children, but she showed them the
happiness by teaching them to be good and kind and generous.
Suppose that, at the
beginning of this story, she had said to them:
"Go straight back home. The
Blue Bird is there, in the humble
cottage, in the wicker cage, with your dear father and mother who love
The Children would never have
"What!" Tyltyl would have
answered. "The Blue Bird, my
dove? Nonsense! my dove is grey!... Happiness, in the cottage? With
Mummy? Oh, I say! There are no toys at home and it's awfully boring
want to go ever so far and meet with tremendous adventures and have all
That is what he would have said; and he and Mytyl would have set out in spite of everything, without listening to Light's advice, for the most certain truths are good for nothing if we do not put them to the test ourselves. It only takes a moment to tell a child all the wisdom in the world, but our whole lives are not long enough to help us understand it, because our own experience is our only light.
Each of us must seek out happiness for himself; and he has to take endless pains and undergo many a cruel disappointment before he learns to become happy by appreciating the simple and perfect pleasures that are always within easy reach of his mind and heart.