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CHAPTER VI

IN THE TEMPLE OF LIGHT

TYLTYL had enjoyed himself thoroughly in the Kingdom of the Future. He had seen many wonderful things and thousands of little playfellows and then, without taking the least pains or trouble, had found the Blue Bird in his arms in the most miraculous way. He had never pictured anything more beautiful, more blue or brilliant; and he still felt it fluttering against his heart and kept hugging his arms to his breast as though the Blue Bird were there. Alas, it had vanished like a dream!

He was thinking sadly of this latest disappointment as he walked hand-in-hand with Light. They were back in the Temple and were going to the vaults where the Animals and Things had been shut up. What a sight met their eyes! The wretches had eaten and drunk such a lot that they were lying on the floor quite tipsy! Tylô himself had lost all his dignity. He had rolled under the table and was snoring like a porpoise. His instinct remained; and the sound of the door made him prick up his ears. He opened one eye, but his sight was troubled by all that he had had to drink and he did not know his little master when he saw him. He dragged himself to his feet with a great effort, turned round several times and then dropped on the floor again with a grunt of satisfaction.

Bread and the others were as bad; and the only exception was the Cat, who was sitting up prettily on a marble and gold bench and seemed in full possession of her senses. She sprang nimbly to the ground and stepped up to Tyltyl with a smile:

"I have been longing to see you," she said, "for I have been very unhappy among all these vulgar people. They first drank all the wine and then started shouting and singing and dancing, quarrelling and fighting and making such a noise that I was very glad when, at last, they fell into a tipsy sleep."

The children praised her warmly for her good behaviour. As a matter of fact, there was no great merit in this, for she could not stand anything stronger than milk; but we are seldom rewarded when by rights we ought to be and sometimes are when we have not deserved it.

After fondly kissing the children, Tylette asked a favour of Light: "I have had such a wretched time," she whined. "Let me go out for a little while; it will do me good to be alone."

Light gave her consent without suspecting anything; and the Cat at once draped her cloak round her, put her hat straight, pulled up her soft grey boots over her knees, opened the door and ran and bounded out into the forest. we shall know, a little later, where treacherous Tylette was going so gaily and what was the horrid plot which she was mysteriously concocting.

As on the other days, the Children had their dinner with Light in a large room all encrusted with diamonds. The servants bustled around them smiling and brought delicious dishes and cakes.

After dinner, our little friends began to yawn. They felt sleepy very early, after all their adventures; and, Light – ever kind and thoughtful made them live as they were accustomed to on earth. So as not to injure their health by altering their habits, she had set up their little beds in a part of the temple where the darkness would seem like night to them.

They went through any number of rooms to reach their bedroom. They had first to pass all the lights known to Man and then those which Man did not yet know.

There were great sumptuous apartments in splendid marble, lit up by rays so white and strong that the children were quite dazzled.

"That is the Light of the Rich," said Light to Tyltyl. "You see how dangerous it is. People run the risk of going blind when they live too much in its rays, which leave no room for soft and kindly shade."

And she hurried them on so that they might rest their eyes in the gentle Light of the Poor. Here, the Children suddenly felt as if they were in their parents' cottage, where everything was so humble and peaceful. The faint light was very pure and clear, but always flickering and ready to go out at the least breath.

Next they came to the beautiful Light of the Poets, which they liked immensely, for it had all the colours of the rainbow; and, when you passed through it, you saw lovely pictures, lovely flowers and lovely toys which you were unable to take hold of. Laughing merrily, the children ran after birds arid butterflies, but everything faded away as soon as it was touched.

"Well, I never!" said Tyltyl, as he came panting back to Light. "This beats everything!… I can't understand it!"

"You will understand later," she replied, "and, if you understand it properly, you will be among the very few human beings who know the Blue Bird when they see him."

After leaving the region of the Poets, our friends reached the Light of the Learned, which lies on the borders of the known and the unknown lights:

"Let's get on," said Tyltyl. "This is boring."

To tell the truth, he was a little bit frightened, for they were in a long row of cold and forbidding arches, which were streaked at every moment by dazzling lightning-flashes; and, at each flash, you saw out-of-the-way things that had no name as yet.

After these arches, they came to the Lights Unknown to Man; and Tyltyl, in spite of the sleep that pressed upon his eyelids, could not help admiring the hall with its violet columns and the gallery with its red rays. And the violet of the columns was such a dark violet and the red of the rays such a pale red that it was hardly possible to see either of them.

At last, they arrived at the room of smooth, unflecked Black Light, which men call Darkness because their eyes are not yet able to make it out. And here the Children fell asleep without delay on two soft beds of clouds.


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