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THE KINGDOM OF THE FUTURE
TYLTYL and Mytyl woke up next
morning, feeling very gay; with childish
carelessness, they had forgotten their disappointment. Tyltyl was very
the compliments which Light had paid him: she seemed as happy as though
brought the Blue Bird with him:
She said, with a smile, as
she stroked the lad's dark curls:
"I am quite satisfied. You
are such a good, brave boy that you will
soon find what you are looking for."
Tyltyl did not understand the
deep meaning of her words; but, for all
that, he was very glad to hear them. And, besides, Light had promised
to-day he would have nothing to fear in their new expedition. On the
he would meet millions and millions of little children who would show
most wonderful toys of which no one on earth had the least idea. She
him that he and his little sister would travel alone with her this time
all the others would take a rest while they were gone.
That is why, at the moment
when our chapter opens, they had all met in
the underground vaults of the temple. Light thought it as well to lock
Elements and Things. She knew that, if they were left to do as they
they might escape and get into mischief. It was not so very cruel of
because the vaults of her temple are even lighter and lovelier than the
floors of human houses; but you cannot get out without her leave. She
the power of widening, with a stroke of her wand, a little cleft in an
wall at the end of the passage, through which you go down a few crystal
till you come to a sort of cave, all green and transparent like a
the sunlight sweeps through its branches.
Usually, this great hall was quite empty; but now it had sofas in it and a gold table laid with fruits and cakes and creams and delicious wines, which Light's servants had just finished setting out. Light's servants were very odd! They always made the Children laugh: with their long white satin dresses and their little black caps with a flame at the top, they looked like lighted candles. Their mistress sent them away and then told the Animals and Things to be very good and asked them if they would like some books and games to play with; they answered, with a laugh, that nothing amused them more than eating and sleeping and that they were very glad to stay where they were.
A wonderful garden lay before him, a dream-garden filled with flowers that shone like stars
Tylô, of course,
did not share this view. His heart spoke louder than
his greed or his laziness; and his great dark eyes turned in entreaty
who would have been only too pleased to take his faithful companion
with him, if
Light had not absolutely forbidden it:
"I can't help it," said the
boy, giving him a kiss. "It
seems that dogs are not admitted where we are going."
sprang up with delight: a great idea had struck him. He
had not left his real, doggy life long enough to forget any part of it,
especially his troubles. Which was the greatest of these? Was it not
What melancholy hours Tylô had spent fastened to an iron
ring! And what
humiliation he endured when the woodcutter used to take him to the
with unspeakable silliness, keep him on the lead in front of everybody,
depriving him of the pleasure of greeting his friends and sniffing the
provided for his benefit at every street-corner and in every gutter:
"Well," he said to himself,
"I shall have to submit to
that humiliating torture once again, to go with my little god!"
to his traditions, he had, in spite of his fine clothes, kept his
but not his lead. What was to be done? He was once more in despair,
when he saw
Water lying on a sofa and playing, in an absent-minded sort of way,
long strings of coral. He ran up to her as prettily as he could and,
paying her a heap of compliments, begged her to lend him her biggest
She was in a good temper and not only did what he asked, but was kind
fasten the end of the coral string to his collar. Tylô gaily
went up to his
master, handed him this makeshift chain and, kneeling at his feet, said:
"Take me with you like this,
my little god! Men never say a word to
a poor dog when he is on his chain!"
"Alas, even like this, you
cannot come!" said Light, who was
much touched by this act of self-sacrifice; and, to cheer him up, she
that fate would soon provide a trial for the Children in which his
would be of great use.
As she spoke these words, she
touched the emerald wall, which opened to
let her pass through with the Children.
Her chariot was waiting
outside the entrance to the temple. It was a
lovely shell of jade, inlaid with gold. They all three took their
seats; and the
two great white birds harnessed to it at once flew off through the
chariot travelled very fast; and they were not long on the road, much
regret of the Children, who were enjoying themselves and laughing like
but other and even more beautiful surprises awaited them.
The clouds vanished around
them; and, suddenly, they found themselves in
a dazzling azure palace. Here, all was blue: the light, the flagstones,
columns, the vaults; everything, down to the smallest objects, ,sas of
intense and fairy-like blue. There was no seeing the end of the palace;
were lost in the infinite sapphire vistas.
"How lovely it all is!" said
Tyltyl, who could not get over his
astonishment. "Goodness me, how lovely!... Where are we?"
"We are in the Kingdom of the
Future," said Light, "in the
midst of the children who are not yet born. As the diamond allows us to
clearly in this region which is hidden from men, we shall perhaps find
Bird here. . . Look! Look at the children running up!"
From every side came bands of
little children dressed from head to foot
in blue; they had beautiful dark or golden hair and they were all
pretty. They shouted gleefully:
"Live Children! . . Come and
look at the little Live Children!"
"What do they call us the
little Live Children for?" asked
Tyltyl, of Light.
"It is because they
themselves are not alive yet. They are awaiting
the hour of their birth, for it is from here that all the children come
born upon our earth. When the fathers and mothers want children, the
which you see over there, at the back, are opened; and the little ones
"What a lot there are! What a
lot there are!" cried Tyltyl.
"There are many more," said
Light. "No one could count
them. But go a little further, you will see other things."
Tyltyl did as he was told and
elbowed his way through; but it was difficult
for him to move, because a crowd of Blue Children pressed all around
last, by mounting on a step, our little friend was able to look over
of inquisitive heads and see what was happening in every part of the
was most extraordinary! Tyltyl had never dreamt of anything like it! He
with joy; and Mytyl, who was hanging on to him and standing on tiptoe
she might see too, Mytyl clapped her hands and gave loud cries of
All around were millions of
Children in blue, some playing, others
walking about, others talking or thinking.
Many were asleep; many also
were at work; and their instruments, their
tools, the machines which they were building, the plants, the flowers
fruits which they were growing or gathering were of the same bright and
blue as the general appearance of the palace. Among the Children moved
persons also dressed in blue they were very beautiful and looked just
angels. They came up to Light and smiled and gently pushed aside the
Children, who went back quietly to what they were doing, though still
our friends with astonished eyes.
One of them, however,
remained standing close to Tyltyl. He was quite
small. From under his long silk sky-blue dress peeped two little pink
dimpled bare feet. His eyes stared in curiosity at the little Live Boy;
went up to him as though in spite of himself.
"May I talk to him?" asked
Tyltyl, who felt half-glad and
"Certainly," said Light. "You
must make friends .... I
will leave you alone; you will be more at ease by yourselves .... "
So saying, she went away and
left the two Children face to face, shyly
smiling. Suddenly, they began to talk:
"How do you do?" said Tyltyl,
putting out his hand to the
But the Child did not
understand what that meant and stood without
"What's that?" continued
Tyltyl, touching the Child's blue
The Child, who was absorbed
in what he was looking at, did not answer,
but gravely touched Tyltyl's hat with his finger:
"And that?" he lisped.
"That?.... That's my hat,"
"Have you no hat?"
"No; what is it for?" asked
"It's to say How-do-you-do
with," Tyltyl answered. "And
then for when it's cold .... "
"What does that mean, when
it's cold?" asked the Child.
"When you shiver like this? Brrr! Brrr!" said Tyltyl. "And when
you go like this with your arms," vigorously beating his arms across
"Is it cold on earth?" asked
"Yes, sometimes, in winter,
when there is no fire."
"Why is there no fire?....."
"Because it's expensive; and
it costs money to buy wood .... "
The Child looked at Tyltyl
again as though he did not understand a word
that Tyltyl was saying; and Tyltyl in his turn looked amazed:
"It's quite clear that he
knows nothing of the most everyday
things," thought our hero, while the child stared with no small respect
"the little Live Boy" who knew everything.
Then he asked Tyltyl what money was.
"Why, it's what you pay
with!" said Tyltyl, scorning to give
any further explanation.
"Oh!" said the Child,
Of course, he did not
understand. How could he know, a little boy like
that, who lived in a paradise where his least wishes were granted
before he had
learnt to put them into words?
"How old are you?" asked
Tyltyl, continuing the conversation.
"I am going to be born soon,"
said the Child. "I shall be
born in twelve years .... Is it nice to be born?"
"Oh, yes," cried Tyltyl,
without thinking. "It's great
But he was very much at a
loss when the little boy asked him "how he
managed." His pride did not allow him to be ignorant of anything in
child's presence; and it was quite droll to see him with his hands in
breeches-pockets, his legs wide apart, his face upturned and his whole
that of a man who is in no hurry to reply. At last, he answered, with a
"Upon my word, I can't
remember! It's so long ago!" "They
say it's lovely, the earth and the Live People!" remarked the Child.
"Yes, it's not bad," said
Tyltyl. "There are birds and
cakes and toys... Some have them all; but those who have none can look
This reflection shows us the
whole character of our little friend. He was
proud and inclined to be rather high-and-mighty; but he was never
his generous nature made up to him for his poverty by allowing him to
good fortune of others.
The two Children talked a
good deal more; but it would take too long to
tell you all they said, because what they said was sometimes only
themselves. After a while, Light, who was watching them from a
up to them a little anxiously: Tyltyl was crying! Big tears came
his cheeks and falling on his smart coat. She understood that he was
his grandmother and that he could not keep back his tears at the
thought of the
love which he had lost. He was turning away his head, to hide his
the inquisitive Child kept asking him questions:
"Do the grannies die?... What
does that mean, dying?''
"They go away one evening and
do not come back."
"Has yours gone?"
"Yes," said Tyltyl. "She was
very kind to me."
And, at these words, the poor
little fellow began to cry again.
The Blue Child had never seen
any one cry. He lived in a world where
grief did not exist. His surprise was great; and he exclaimed:
"What's the matter with your
eyes?... Are they making pearls?"
To him those tears were
"No, it's not pearls," said
Tyltyl, sheepishly. "What is
But our poor friend would not
admit what he looked upon as a weakness. He
rubbed his eyes awkwardly and put everything down to the dazzling blue
palace. The puzzled Child insisted: "What's that falling down?"
"Nothing; it's a little
water," said Tyltyl, impatiently,
hoping to cut short the explanation.
But that was out of the
question. The Child was very obstinate, touched
Tyltyl's cheeks with his finger and asked, in a tone of curiosity:
"Does it come from the
"Yes, sometimes, when one
"What does that mean,
crying?'' asked the Child.
"I have not been crying,"
said Tyltyl proudly. "It's the
fault of that blue!... But, if I had cried, it would be the same thing
"Do you often cry on
"Not little boys, but little
girls do ....Don't you cry here?"
"No, I don't know how..."
"Well, you will learn..."
At that moment, a great breath of wind made him turn his head and he saw, at a few steps away from him, a large piece of machinery which he had not noticed at first, as he was taken up with his interest in the little Child. It was a grand and magnificent thing, but I cannot tell you its name, because the inventions of the Kingdom of the Future will not be christened by Man until they reach the earth. I can only say that Tyltyl, when he looked at it, thought that the enormous azure wings that whizzed so swiftly before his eyes were like the windmills in his part of the world and that, if he ever found the Blue Bird, its wings would certainly be no more delicate, dainty or dazzling. Full of admiration, he asked his new acquaintance what they were.
"Those?" said the Child. "That's
for the invention which I shall make on earth."
seeing Tyltyl stare with wide-open eyes, he added: "When I am on earth,
shall have to invent the thing that gives happiness... Would you like
it?... It is over there, between those two columns .... "
Tyltyl turned round to look;
but all the Children at once rushed at him,
"No, no, come and see mine!..."
"No, mine is much finer!..."
"Mine is a wonderful
"Mine is made of sugar!..."
"His is no good!..."
"I’m bringing a
light which nobody knows of!..."
And, so saying, the last
Child lit himself up entirely with a most
Amid these joyous
exclamations, the Live Children were dragged towards
the blue workshops, where each of the little inventors set his machine
was a great blue whirl of disks and pulleys and straps and fly-wheels
driving-wheels and cog-wheels and all kinds of wheels, which sent every
machine skimming over the ground or shooting up to the ceiling. Other
Children unfolded maps and plans, or opened great big books, or
statues, or brought enormous flowers and gigantic fruits that seemed
sapphires and turquoises.
Our little friends stood with
their mouths wide open and their hands
clasped together: they thought themselves in paradise. Mytyl bent over
at a huge flower and laughed into its cup, which covered up her head
like a hood
of blue silk. A pretty Child, with dark hair and thoughtful eyes, held
it by the
stalk and said, proudly:
"The flowers will all grow
like that, when I am on earth!"
"When will that be?" asked
"In fifty-three years, four
months and nine days." Next came
two Blue Children bending under the weight of a pole from which was
bunch of grapes each larger than a pear.
"A bunch of pears!" cried
"No, they are grapes," said
the Child. "They will all be
like that when I am thirty: I have found the way ...."
Tyltyl would have loved to
taste them, but another Child came along
almost hidden under a basket which one of the tall persons was helping
carry. His fair-haired, rosy face smiled through the leaves that hung
"Look!" he said. "Look at my
"But those are melons!" said
"No, no!" said the Child.
"They are my apples! They will
all be alike when I am alive! I have discovered the process!..."
I should never have done if I
were to try and describe to my little
readers all the wonderful and incredible things that appeared before
eyes. But, suddenly, a loud burst of laughter rang through the hall. A
spoken of the King of the Nine Planets; and Tyltyl, very much puzzled
perplexed, looked on every side. All the faces, bright with laughter,
turned to some spot which Tyltyl could not see; every finger pointed in
direction; but our friend looked in vain. They had spoken of a king! He
looking for a throne with a tall, dignified personage on it, wielding a
"Over there... over there...
lower down... behind you!" said a
thousand little voices together.
"But where is the King?"
Tyltyl and Mytyl repeated, greatly
Then, suddenly, a louder and
more serious voice sounded above the silvery
murmur of the others:
I am!" it said proudly.
And, at the same time, Tyltyl
discovered a chubby baby which he had not
yet remarked, for it was the smallest and had kept out of the way till
sitting at the foot of a column in an attitude of indifference,
in contemplation. The little King was the only one who had taken no
the "Live Children." His beautiful, liquid eyes, eyes as blue as the
palace, were pursuing endless dreams; his right hand supported his
was already heavy with thought; his short tunic showed his dimpled
knees; and a
golden crown rested on his yellow locks. When he cried, "Here I am!"
the baby rose from the step on which he was sitting and tried to climb
on to it
at one stride; but he was still so awkward that he lost his balance and
upon his nose. He at once picked himself up with so much dignity that
dared make fun of him; and, this time, he scrambled up on all fours and
putting his legs wide apart, stood and eyed Tyltyl from top to toe.
"You're not very big!" said
Tyltyl, doing his best to keep from
"I shall do great things when
I am!" retorted the King, in a
tone that admitted of no reply.
"And what will you do?" asked
"I shall found the General
Confederation of the Solar Planets,"
said the King, in a very pompous voice.
Our friend was so much
impressed that he could not find a word to say;
and the King continued:
"All the Planets will belong
to it, except Uranus, Saturn and
Neptune, which are too ridiculously far away."
Thereupon, he toddled off the
step again and resumed his first attitude,
showing that he had said all that he meant to say.
Tyltyl left him to his
meditations; he was eager to know as many more of
the Children as he could. He was introduced to the discoverer of a new
the inventor of a new joy, to the hero who was to wipe out injustice
earth and to the wiseacre who was to conquer Death ....
lots and lots of them that it would take days and days to name them
friend was rather tired and was beginning to feel bored, when his
suddenly aroused by hearing a Child's voice calling him:
"Tyltyl! . . Tyltyl!... How
are you, Tyltyl, how are you?...."
A little Blue Child came
running up from the back of the hall, pushing
his way through the crowd. He was fair and slim and bright-eyed and had
look of Mytyl.
"How do you know my name?"
"It's not surprising," said
the Blue Child, "considering
that I shall be your brother!"
This time, the Live Children
were absolutely amazed. What an
extraordinary meeting! They must certainly tell Mummy as soon as they
How astonished they would be at home!
While they were making these
reflections, the Child went on to explain:
"I am coming to you next
year, on Palm Sunday," he said.
And he put a thousand
questions to his big brother: was it comfortable at
home? Was the food good? Was Daddy very severe? And Mummy?
"Oh, Mummy is so kind!" said
the little ones.
And they asked him questions
in their turn: what was he going to do on
earth? What was he bringing?
"I am bringing three
illnesses," said the little brother.
"Oh, that's all, is it?''
He shook his head, with
evident disappointment, while the other
"After that, I shall leave
"It will hardly be worth
while coming!" said Tyltyl, feeling
"We can't pick and choose!"
said the little brother, pettishly.
They would perhaps have
quarrelled, without waiting till they were on
earth, if they had not suddenly been parted by a swarm of Blue Children
hurrying to meet somebody. At the same time, there was a great noise,
thousands of invisible doors were being opened at the end of the
"What's the matter?" asked
"It's Time," said one of the
Blue Children. "He's going to
open the doors."
And the excitement increased
on every side. The Children left their
machines and their labours; those who were asleep woke up; and every
eagerly and anxiously turned to the great opal doors at the back, while
mouth repeated the same name. The word, "Time! Time!" was heard all
around; and the great mysterious noise kept on. Tyltyl was dying to
know what it
meant. At last, he caught a little Child by the skirt of his dress and
"Let me be," said the Child,
very uneasily. "I'm in a
hurry: it may be my turn to-day.... It is the Dawn rising. This is the
when the Children who are to be born to-day go down to earth... You
shall see....Time is drawing the bolts....”
"Who is Time?" asked Tyltyl.
"An old man who comes to call
those who are going," said
another Child. "He is not so bad; but he won't listen or hear. Beg as
may, if it's not their turn, he pushes back all those who try to go....
be! It may be my turn now!"
Light now hastened towards
our little friends in a great state of alarm:
was looking for you," she said. "Come
quick: it will never do for Time to discover you.”
As she spoke these words, she
threw her gold cloak around the Children
and dragged them to a corner of the hall, where they could see
without being seen.
Tyltyl was very glad to be so well protected. He now knew that he who was about to appear possessed so great and tremendous a power that no human strength was capable of resisting him. He was at the same time a deity and an ogre; he bestowed life and he devoured it; he sped through the world so fast that you had no time to see him; he ate and ate, without stopping; he took whatever he touched. In Tyltyl's family, he had already taken Grandad and Granny, the little brothers, the little sisters and the old blackbird! He did not mind what he took: joys and sorrows, winters and summers, all was fish that came to his net!...
Knowing this, our friend was
astonished to see everybody in the Kingdom
of the Future running so fast to meet him:
"I suppose he doesn't eat
anything here," he thought. There he
was! The great doors turned slowly on their hinges. There was a distant
it was the sounds of the earth· A red and green light
penetrated into the hall;
and Time appeared on the threshold. He was a tall and very thin old
man, so old
that his wrinkled face was all grey, like dust. His white beard came
down to his
knees. In one hand, he carried an enormous scythe; in the other, an
Behind him, some way out, on a sea the colour of the Dawn, was a
gold galley, with white sails·
"Are they ready whose hour
has struck?" asked Time. At the
sound of that voice, solemn and deep as a bronze gong, thousands of
children's voices, like little silver bells, answered:
"Here we are!... Here we
are!... Here we are!…"
And, in a moment, the Blue
Children were crowding round the tall old man,
who pushed them all back and, in a gruff voice, said:
"One at a time!... Once
again, there are many more of you than are
wanted!... You can't deceive me!"
Brandishing his scythe in one
hand and holding out his cloak with the
other, he barred the way to the rash Children who tried to slip by him.
of them escaped the horrid old man's watchful eye:
"It's not your turn!" he said
to one. "You're to be born
to-morrow!... Nor yours either, you've got ten years to wait .... A
shepherd?.... There are only twelve wanted; there is no need for
doctors?.... There are too many already; they are grumbling about it on
earth.... And where are the engineers?.... They want an honest man;
one, as a
Thereupon, a poor Child, who
had hung back, until then, came forward
timidly, sucking his thumb. He looked pale and sad and walked with
footsteps; he was so wretched that even Time felt a moment's pity:
"It's you!" he exclaimed.
"You seem a very poor
And, lifting his eyes to the
sky, with a look of discouragement, he
"You won't live long!"
And the movement went on.
Each Child, when denied, returned to his
employment with a downcast air. When one of them was accepted, the
at him with envy. Now and then, something happened, as when the hero
who was to
fight against injustice refused to go. He clung to his playfellows, who
out to Time: "He doesn't want to, Sir!"
"No, I don't want to go,"
cried the little fellow, with all his
might. "I would rather not be born."
"And quite right too!"
thought Tyltyl, who was full of
common-sense and who knew what things are like on earth.
For people always get
beatings which they have not deserved; and, when
they have done wrong, you may be sure that the punishment will fall on
their innocent friends.
"I wouldn't care to be in his
place," said our friend to
himself. "I would rather hunt for the Blue Bird, any day!"
Meanwhile, the little seeker
after justice went away sobbing, frightened
out of his life by Mr. Time.
The excitement was now at its
height. The Children ran all over the hall:
those who were going packed up their inventions; those who were staying
had a thousand requests to make:
"Will you write to me?"
"They say one can't!"
"Oh, try, do try!"
"Announce my idea!"
"Have you forgotten nothing?"
"Don't lose your ideas!"
"Try to tell us if it's nice!"
"Enough! Enough!" roared
Time, in a huge voice, shaking his big
keys and his terrible scythe. "Enough! The anchor's
Then the Children climbed
into the gold galley, with the beautiful white
silk sails. They waved their hands again to the little friends whom
leaving behind them; but, on seeing the earth in the distance, they
"Earth! Earth!… I
can see it!…”
"How bright it
"How big it is!..."
And, at the same time, as
though coming from the abyss, a song rose, a
distant song of gladness and expectation.
Light, who was listening with
a smile, saw the look of astonishment on
Tyltyl's face and bent over him:
"It is the song of the
mothers coming out to meet them," she
At that moment, Time, who had
shut the doors, saw our friends and rushed
at them angrily, shaking his scythe at them.
"Hurry!" said Light. "Hurry!
Take the Blue Bird, Tyltyl,
and go in front of me with Mytyl."
She put into the boy's arms a
bird which she held hidden under her cloak
and, all radiant, spreading her dazzling veil with her two hands, she
protecting her charges from the onslaught of Time.
In this way, they passed
through several turquoise and sapphire
galleries. It was magnificently beautiful, but they were in the Kingdom
Future, where Time was the great master, and they must escape from his
which they had braved.
Mytyl was terribly frightened
and Tyltyl kept nervously turning round to
"Don't be afraid," she said.
"I am the only person whom
Time has respected since the world began. Only mind that you take care
Blue Bird. He's gorgeous! He is quite, quite blue!"
This thought enraptured the
boy. He felt the precious treasure fluttering
in his arms; his hands dared not press the pretty creature's soft, warm
and his heart beat against its heart. This time, he held the Blue Bird!
could touch it, because it was given to him by Light herself. What a
when he returned home!…
He was so bewildered by his happiness that he hardly knew where he was going; his joy rang a victorious peal in his head that made him feel giddy; he was mad with pride; and this, worse luck, made him lose his coolness and his presence of mind! They were just about to cross the threshold of the palace, when a gust of wind swept through the entrance-hall, lifting up Light's veil and at last revealing the two Children to the eyes of Time, who was still pursuing them. With a roar of rage, he darted his scythe at Tyltyl, who cried out. Light warded off the blow; and the door of the palace closed behind them with a thud. They were saved!... But alas, Tyltyl, taken by surprise, had opened his arms and now, through his tears, saw the Bird of the Future soaring above their heads, mingling with the azure sky its dream-wings so blue, so light and so transparent that soon the boy could make out nothing more ....