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The Children's Blue Bird
THE WOODCUTTER'S COTTAGE
ONCE upon a time, a woodcutter and his wife lived in their cottage on
of a large and ancient forest. They had two dear little children who
met with a
most wonderful adventure
But, before telling you all
about it, I must describe the children to you
and let you know something of their character; for, if they had not
sweet and brave and plucky, the curious story which you are about to
never have happened at all.
Tyltyl – that was our hero's
name – was ten years old; and Mytyl, his
little sister, was only six.
Tyltyl was a fine, tall
little fellow, stout and well-setup, with curly
black hair which was often in a tangle, for he was fond of a romp. He
great favourite because of his smiling and good-tempered face and the
look in his eyes; but, best of all, he had the ways of a bold and
little man, which showed the noble qualities of his heart. When, early
morning, he trotted along the forest-road by the side of his daddy, Tyl
woodcutter, for all his shabby clothes he looked so proud and gallant
beautiful thing on the earth and in the sky seemed to lie in wait for
smile upon him as he passed.
His little sister was very
different, but looked ever so sweet and pretty
in her long frock, which Mummy Tyl kept neatly patched for her. She was
as her brother was dark; and her large timid eyes were blue as the
forget-me-nots in the fields. Anything was enough to frighten her and
cry at the least thing; but her little child's soul already held the
womanly qualities: she was loving and gentle and so fondly devoted to
brother that, rather than abandon him, she did not hesitate to
undertake a long
and dangerous journey in his company.
What happened and how our
little hero and heroine went off into the world
one night in search of happiness: that is the subject of my story.
Daddy Tyl's cottage was the
poorest of the countryside; and it seemed
even more wretched because it stood opposite a splendid hall in which
children lived. From the windows of the cottage you could see what went
inside the Hall when the dining-room and drawing-rooms were lit up in
evening. And, in the daytime, you saw the little children playing on
terraces, in the gardens and in the hot-houses which people came all
from town to visit because they were always filled with the rarest
Now, one evening which was
not like other evenings, for it was Christmas
Eve, Mummy Tyl put her little ones to bed and kissed them even more
than usual. She felt a little sad, because owing to the stormy weather,
Tyl was not able to go to work in the forest; and so she had no money
presents with which to fill Tyltyl and Mytyl's stockings. The Children
asleep, everything was still and silent and not a sound was heard but
purring of the cat, the snoring of the dog and the ticking of the great
grandfather's clock. But suddenly a light as bright as day crept
shutters, the lamp upon the table lit again of itself and the two
awoke, yawned, rubbed their eyes, stretched out their arms in bed and
a cautious voice called:
"Yes, Tyltyl?'' was the
answer. "Are you asleep?"
"No," said Tyltyl. "How can I
be asleep, when I'm talking
"I say, is this Christmas
Day?" asked his sister.
"Not yet; not till to-morrow.
But Father Christmas won't bring us
anything this year."
"I heard Mummy say that she couldn't go to town to tell him. But he will come next year."
"Is next year
"A good long while," said the
boy. "But he will come to
the rich children to-night."
cried Tyltyl of a sudden.
"Mummy's forgotten to put out the lamp!... I've an idea!"
"Let's get up."
"But we mustn't," said Mytyl,
who always remembered.
"Why, there's no one
about!.... Do you see the shutters?"
"Oh, how bright they are!"
"It' s the lights of the
party," said Tyltyl.
"The rich children opposite.
It's the Christmas-tree. Let's open the
"Can we?" asked Mytyl,
"Of course we can; there's no
one to stop us ....Do you hear the
music?.... Let us get up."
The two Children jumped out
of bed, ran to the window, climbed on the
stool in front of it and threw back the shutters. A bright light filled
room; and the Children looked out eagerly:
"We can see everything!" said
"I can't," said poor little
Mytyl, who could hardly find room
on the stool.
"It's snowing!" said Tyltyl.
"There's two carriages, with
six horses each!"
"There are twelve little boys
getting out!" said Mytyl, who was
doing her best to peep out of the window.
"Don't be silly!... They're
"They've got knickerbockers
"Do be quiet! . . And
"What are those gold things
there, hanging from the branches?"
"Why, toys, to be sure!" said
Tyltyl. "Swords, guns,
soldiers, cannons ...."
"And what's that, all round
"Cakes and fruit and
"Oh, how pretty the children
are!" cried Mytyl, clapping her
"And how they're laughing and
laughing!" answered Tyltyl,
"And the little ones
"Yes, yes; let's dance too!"
And the two Children began to
stamp their feet for joy on the stool"
"Oh, what fun!" said Mytyl.
"They're getting the cakes!"
cried Tyltyl. "They can touch
them!... They're eating, they're eating, they're eating!... Oh, how
Mytyl began to count
"I have twelve!..."
"And I four times twelve!"
said Tyltyl. "But I'll give you
some .... "
And our little friends,
dancing, laughing and shrieking with delight,
rejoiced so prettily in the other children's happiness that they forgot
own poverty and want. They were soon to have their reward. Suddenly,
a loud knocking at the door. The startled Children ceased their romp
not move a limb. Then the big wooden latch lifted of itself, with a
the door opened slowly; and in crept a little old woman, dressed all in
with a red hood over her head. She was hump-backed and lame and had
eye; her nose and chin almost touched; and she walked leaning on a
was obviously a fairy.
She hobbled up to the
Children and asked, in a snuffling voice:
"Have you the grass here that
sings or the bird that is blue?"
"We have some grass," replied
Tyltyl, trembling all over his
body, "but it can't sing…"
"Tyltyl has a bird," said
"But I can't give it away,
because it's mine," the little
fellow added, quickly.
Now wasn't that a capital
The Fairy put on her big,
round glasses and looked at the bird:
"He's not blue enough," she
exclaimed. "I must absolutely
have the Blue Bird. It's for my little girl, who is very ill... Do you
the Blue Bird stands for? No? I thought you didn't; and, as you are
children, I will tell you."
The Fairy raised her crooked
finger to her long, pointed nose, and
whispered, in a mysterious tone:
"The Blue Bird stands for
happiness; and I want you to understand
that my little girl must be happy in order to get well. That is why I
command you to go out into the world and find the Blue Bird for her.
have to start at once . . Do you know who I am?"
The Children exchanged
puzzled glances. The fact was that they had never
seen a fairy before; and they felt a little scared in her presence.
Tyltyl soon said politely:
"You are rather like our
neighbour, Madame Berlingot..."
Tyltyl thought that, in
saying this, he was paying the Fairy a
compliment; for Madame Berlingot's shop, which was next door to their
was a very pleasant place. It was stocked with sweets, marbles,
and sugar cocks-and-hens; and, at fair-time, there were big gingerbread
covered all over with gilt paper. Goody Berlingot had a nose that was
ugly as the Fairy's; she was old also; and, like the Fairy, she walked
up in two; but she was very kind and she had a dear little girl who
used to play
on Sundays with the woodcutter's Children. Unfortunately, the poor
pretty, fair-haired thing was always suffering from some unknown
which often kept her in bed. When this happened, she used to beg and
Tyltyl's dove to play with; but Tyltyl was so fond of the bird that he
give it to her. All this, thought the little boy, was very like that
Fairy told him; and that was why he called her Berlingot.
She herself helped Mytyl
to his surprise, the Fairy turned crimson
with rage. It was a hobby of hers to be like nobody, because she was a
able to change her appearance, from one moment to the next, as she
evening, she happened to be ugly and old and hump-backed; she had lost
her eyes; and two lean wisps of grey hair hung over her shoulders.
"What do I look like?" she
asked Tyltyl. "Am I pretty or
ugly? Old or young?"
Her reason for asking these
questions was to try the kindness of the
little boy. He turned away his head and dared not say what he thought
looks. Then she cried: "I am the Fairy Bérylune!"
"Oh, that's all right!"
answered Tyltyl, who, by this time, was
shaking in every limb.
This mollified the Fairy;
and, as the Children were still in their
night-shirts, she told them to get dressed. She herself helped Mytyl
she did so, asked:
"Where are your Father and
"In there," said Tyltyl,
pointing to the door on the right.
"And your Grandad and Granny?'
"They're dead .... "
"And your little brothers and
sisters... Have you any?..."
"Oh, yes, three little
brothers!" said Tyltyl. "And four
little sisters," added Mytyl.
"Where are they?" asked the
"They are dead, too,"
"Would you like to see them
"Oh, yes!... At once!...
Show them to us!..."
"I haven't got them in my
pocket," said the Fairy. "But
this is very lucky; you will see them when you go through the Land of
It's on the way to the Blue Bird, just on the left, past the third
What were you doing when I knocked?''
"We were playing at eating
cakes," said Tyltyl.
"Have you any cakes?....
Where are they?..."
"In the house of the rich
children... Come and look, it's so
And Tyltyl dragged the Fairy
to the window.
"But it's the others who are
eating them!" said she.
"Yes, but we can see them
eat," said Tyltyl.
you cross with them?"
"For eating all the cakes. I
think it's very wrong of them not to
give you any."
"Not at all; they're rich!...
I say, isn't it beautiful over
"It's just the same here,
only you can't see ...."
"Yes, I can," said Tyltyl. "I
have very good eyes. I can
see the time on the church clock; and Daddy can't!"
The Fairy suddenly grew angry:
"I tell you that you can't
see!" she said.
And she grew angrier and
angrier. As though it mattered about seeing the
time on the church clock!
Of course, the little boy was
not blind; but, as he was kind-hearted and
deserved to be happy, she wanted to teach him to see what is good and
in all things. It was not an easy task, for she well knew that most
and die without enjoying the happiness that lies all around them.
Still, as she
was a fairy, she was all-powerful; and so she decided to give him a
adorned with a magic diamond that would possess the extraordinary
always showing him the truth, which would help him to see the inside of
and thus reach him that each of them has a life and an existence of its
created to match and gladden ours.
The Fairy took the little hat
from a great bag hanging by her side. It
was green and had a white cockade, with the big diamond shining in the
it. Tyltyl was beside himself with delight. The Fairy explained to him
diamond worked. By pressing the top, you saw the soul of Things; if you
a little turn to the right, you discovered the Past; and, when you
turned it to
the left, you beheld the Future.
Tyltyl beamed all over his
face and danced for joy; and then he at once
became afraid of losing the little hat: "Daddy will take it from me!"
"No," said the Fairy, "for no
one can see it as long as
it's on your head... Will you try it?"
"Yes, yes!" cried the
Children, clapping their hands. The hat
was no sooner on the little boy's head than a magic change came over
The old Fairy turned into a young and beautiful princess, dressed all
and covered with sparkling jewels; the walls of the cottage became
and gleamed like precious stones; the humble deal furniture shone like
The two children ran from right to left clapping their hands and
"Oh, how lovely, how lovely!"
And Mytyl, like the vain
little thing she was, stood spellbound before
the beauty of the fair princess' dress.
But further and much greater
surprises were in store for them. Had not
the Fairy said that the Things and the Animals would come to life, talk
behave like everybody else? Lo and behold, suddenly the door of the
grandfather's clock opened, the silence was filled with the sweetest
twelve little daintily-dressed and laughing dancers began to skip and
around the Children.
"They are the Hours of your
life," said the Fairy.
"May I dance with them?'
asked Tyltyl, gazing with admiration at
those pretty creatures, who seemed to skim over the floor like birds.
But just then he burst into a
wild fit of laughter! Who was that funny
fat fellow, all out of breath and covered with flour, who came
struggling out of
the bread-pan and bowing to the children'. It was Bread! Bread himself,
advantage of the reign of liberty to go for a little walk on earth! He
like a stout, comical old gentleman; his face was puffed out with
dough; and his
large hands, at the end of his thick arms, were not able to meet, when
them on his great, round stomach. He was dressed in a tight-fitting
crust-coloured suit, with stripes across the chest like those on the
buttered rolls which we have for breakfast in the morning. On his
head – just
think of it! – he wore an enormous bun, which made a funny sort
He had hardly tumbled out of
his pan, when other loaves just like him,
but smaller, followed after and began to frisk about with the Hours,
giving a thought to the flour which they scattered over those pretty
which wrapped them in great white clouds.
It was a queer and charming
dance; and the Children were delighted. The
Hours waltzed with the loaves; the plates, joining in the fun, hopped
down on the dresser, at the risk of falling off and smashing to pieces;
glasses in the cupboard clinked together, to drink the health of one
and all. As
to the forks, they chattered so loudly with the knives that you could
yourself speak for the noise...
There is no knowing what
would have happened if the din had lasted much
longer. Daddy and Mummy Tyl would certainly have woke up. Fortunately,
romp was at its height, an enormous flame darted out of the chimney and
the room with a great red glow, as though the house were on fire.
bolted into the corners in dismay, while Tyltyl and Mytyl, sobbing with
hid their heads under the good Fairy's cloak.
"Don't be afraid," she said.
"It's only Fire, who has come
to join in your fun. He is a good sort, but you had better not touch
him, for he
has a nasty temper."
Peeping anxiously through the
beautiful gold lace that edged the Fairy's
cloak, the Children saw a tall, red fellow looking at them and laughing
fears. He was dressed in scarlet tights and spangles; from his
silk scarves that were just like flames when he waved them with his
and his hair stood up on his head in straight, flaring locks. He
flinging out his arms and legs and jumping round the room like a madman.
Tyltyl, though feeling a
little easier, dared not yet leave his refuge.
Then the Fairy Bérylune had a capital idea: she pointed her
wand at the tap;
and at once there appeared a young girl who wept like a regular
fountain. It was
Water. She was very pretty, but she looked extremely sad; and she sang
sweetly that it was like the rippling of a spring. Her long hair, which
her feet, might have been made of sea-weed. She had nothing on but her
but the water that streamed over her clothed her in shimmering colours.
hesitated at first and gave a glance around her; then, catching sight
still whirling about like a great madcap, she made an angry and
at him, spraying his face, splashing and wetting him with all her
flew into a rage and began to smoke. Nevertheless, as he found himself
thwarted by his hereditary enemy, he thought it wiser to retire to a
Water also beat a retreat; and it seemed as though peace would be
The two Children, at last
recovering from their alarm, were asking the
Fairy what was going to happen next, when a startling noise of breaking
made them look round towards the table. What a surprise! The milk-jug
lay on the
floor, smashed into a thousand fragments, and from the pieces rose a
lady, who gave little screams of terror and clasped her hands and
turned up her
eyes with a beseeching glance.
Tyltyl hastened to console
her, for he at once knew that she was Milk;
and, as he was very fond of her, he gave her a good kiss. She was as
pretty as a little dairy-maid; and a delicious scent of hay came from
frock all covered with cream.
Meanwhile, Mytyl was watching
the sugar-loaf, which also seemed to be
coming to life. Packed in its blue paper wrapper, on a shelf near the
was swaying from left to right and from right to left without any
result. But at
last a long thin arm was seen to come out, followed by a peaked head,
split the paper, and by another arm and two long legs that seemed never
end!... Oh, you should have seen how funny Sugar looked: so funny,
the Children could not help laughing in his face! And yet they would
to be civil to him, for they heard the Fairy introducing him in these
"This, Tyltyl, is the soul of
Sugar. His pockets are crammed with
sugar and each of his fingers is a sugar-stick."
How wonderful to have a
friend all made of sugar, off whom you can bite a
piece whenever you feel inclined!
"Bow, wow, wow! ...
Good-morning! Good-morning, my little god! . .
At last, at last we can talk! . . Bark and wag my tail as I might, you
understood!... I love you! I love you!"
Who can this extraordinary
person be, who jostles everybody and fills the
house with his noisy gaiety? We know him at once. It is Tylô,
the good Dog who
tries his hardest to understand mankind, the good-natured Animal who
the Children to the forest, the faithful guardian who protects the
staunch friend who is ever true and ever loyal! Here he comes walking
hindpaws, as on a pair of legs too short for him, and beating the air
two others, making gestures like a clumsy little man. He has not
still has his smooth, mustard-coloured coat and his jolly bull-dog
the black muzzle, but he is much bigger and then he talks! He talks as
he can, as though he wanted in one moment to avenge his whole race,
been doomed to silence for centuries. He talks of everything, now that
he is at
last able to unbosom himself; and it is a pretty sight to see him
little master and mistress and calling them "his little gods!" He sits
up, he jumps about the room, knocking against the furniture, upsetting
with his big soft paws, lolling his tongue, wagging his tail and
panting as though he were out hunting. We at once see his simple,
nature. Persuaded of his own importance, he fancies that he alone is
indispensable in the new world of Things.
After making all the fuss he
wanted of the Children, he started going the
round of the company, distributing the attentions which he thought that
could do without. His joy, now set free, found vent without restraint;
because he was the most loving of creatures, he would also have been
happiest, if, in becoming human, he had not, unfortunately, retained
doggy failings. He was jealous! He was terribly jealous; and his heart
pang when he saw Tylette, the Cat, coming to life in her turn and being
and kissed by the Children, just as he had been! Oh, how he hated the
bear the sight of her beside him, to see her always sharing in the
the family: that was the great sacrifice which fate demanded of him. He
it, however, without a word, because it pleased his little gods; and he
far as to leave her alone. But he had had many a crime on his
of her! Had he not, one evening, crept stealthily into Goody
in order to throttle her old tom-cat, who had never done him any harm?
not broken the back of the Persian cat at the Hall opposite? Did he not
sometimes go to town on purpose to hunt cats and put an end to them,
wreak his spite? And now Tylette was going to talk, just like himself!
would be his equal in the new world that was opening before him!
"Oh, there is no justice left
on earth!" was his bitter
thought. "There is no justice left!"
In the meantime, the Cat, who
had begun by washing herself and polishing
her claws, calmly put out her paw to the little girl.
She really was a very pretty
cat; and, if our friend Tylô's jealousy had
not been such an ugly feeling, we might almost have overlooked it for
could you fail to be attracted by Tylette's eyes, which were like topaz
emeralds? How could you resist the pleasure of stroking the wonderful
velvet back? How could you not love her grace, her gentleness and the
Smiling amiably and speaking
in well-chosen language, she said to Mytyl:
"Good-morning, miss!... How
well you look this morning!..."
And the Children patted her
Tylô kept watching
the Cat from the other end of the room:
"Now that she's standing on
her hind-legs like a man," he
muttered, "she looks just like the Devil, with her pointed ears, her
tail and her dress as black as ink!" And he could not help growling
his teeth. "She's also like the village chimney-sweep," he went on,
"whom I loathe and detest and whom I shall never take for a real man,
whatever my little gods may say... It's lucky," he added, with a sigh,
"that I know more about a good many things than they do!"
But suddenly, no longer able
to master himself, he flew at the Cat and
shouted, with a loud laugh that was more like a roar:
"I'm going to frighten
Tylette! Bow, wow, wow!"
the Cat, who was
dignified even when still an animal, now thought herself called to the
destinies. She considered that the time had come to raise an
between herself and the Dog, who had never been more than an ill-bred
her eyes; and, stepping back in disdain, she just said:
"Sir, I don't know you."
gave a bound under the
insult, whereupon the Cat bristled up, twisting her whiskers under her
pink nose (for she was very proud of those two pale blotches which gave
special touch to her dark beauty); and then, arching her back and
her tail, she hissed out, "Fft! Fft!" and stood stock-still on the
chest of drawers, like a dragon on the lid of a Chinese vase.
Tyltyl and Mytyl screamed
with laughter; but the quarrel would certainly
have had a bad ending if, at that moment, a great thing had not
eleven o'clock in the evening, in the middle of that winter's night, a
light, the light of the noon-day sun, glowing and dazzling, burst into
there's daylight!" said the little
boy, who no longer knew what to make of things. "What will Daddy say?'
But, before the Fairy had
time to set him right, Tyltyl understood; and,
full of wonderment, he knelt before the latest apparition that
At the window, in the centre of a great halo of sunshine, there rose slowly, like a tall golden sheaf, a maiden of surpassing loveliness! Gleaming veils covered her figure without hiding its beauty; her bare arms, stretched in the attitude of giving, seemed transparent; and her great clear eyes wrapped all upon whom they fell in a fond embrace.
"It's the Queen!" said Tyltyl.
"It's the Blessed Virgin!"
cried Mytyl, kneeling beside her
"No, my Children," said the
Fairy. "It is Light!"
Smiling, Light stepped
towards the two little ones. She, the Light of
Heaven, the strength and beauty of the Earth, was proud of the humble
entrusted to her; she, never before held captive, living in space and
her bounty upon all alike, consented to be confined, for a brief spell,
human shape, so as to lead the Children out into the world and teach
know that other Light, the Light of the Mind, which we never see, but
helps us to see all things that are.
"It is Light!" exclaimed the
Things and the Animals; and, as
they all loved her, they began to dance around her with cries of
Tyltyl and Mytyl capered with
joy. Never had they pictured so amusing and
so pretty a party; and they shouted louder than all the rest.
Then what was bound to happen
came. Suddenly, three knocks were heard
against the wall, loud enough to throw the house down! It was Daddy
Tyl, who had
been woke up by the din and who was now threatening to come and put a
"Turn the diamond!" cried the
Fairy to Tyltyl.
Our hero hastened to obey,
but he had not the knack of it yet; besides,
his hand shook at the thought that his father was coming. In fact, he
awkward that he nearly broke the works.
"Not so quick, not so quick!"
said the Fairy. "Oh dear,
you've turned it too briskly: they will not have time to resume their
we shall have a lot of bother!"
There was a general stampede.
The walls of the cottage lost their
splendour. All ran hither and thither, to return to their proper shape:
could not find his chimney; Water ran about looking for her tap; Sugar
moaning in front of his torn wrapper; and Bread, the biggest of the
unable to squeeze into his pan, in which the other loaves had jumped
higgledy-piggledy, taking up all the room. As for the Dog: he had grown
large for the hole in his kennel; and the Cat also could not get into
basket. The Hours alone, who were accustomed always to run faster than
wished, had slipped back into the clock without delay.
stood motionless and unruffled, vainly setting an example of calmness
others, who were all weeping and wailing around the Fairy:
"What is going to happen?'
they asked. "Is there any
"Well," said the Fairy, "I am
bound to tell you the truth:
all those who accompany the two Children will die at the end of the
They began to cry like
anything, all except the Dog, who was delighted at
remaining human as long as possible and who had already taken his stand
Light, so as to be sure
of going in front of his little master and mistress.
that moment, there came a
knocking even more dreadful than before.
"There's Daddy again!" said
Tyltyl. "He's getting up, this
time; I can hear him walking…"
"You see," said the Fairy,
"you have no choice now; it is
too late; you must all start with us... But you, Fire, don't come near
you, Dog, don't tease the Cat; you, Water, try not to run all over the
and you, Sugar, stop crying, unless you want to melt. Bread shall carry
in which to put the Blue Bird; and you shall all come to my house,
where I will
dress the Animals and the Things properly... Let us go out this way!"
As she spoke, she pointed her wand at the window, which lengthened magically downwards, like a door. They all went out on tip-toe, after which the window resumed its usual shape. And so it came about that, on Christmas Night, in the clear light of the moon, while the bells rang out lustily, proclaiming the birth of Jesus, Tyltyl and Mytyl went in search of the Blue Bird that was to bring them happiness.