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Children's Blue Bird
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WHEN the Children were not going on an expedition, they played
Realms of Light; and this was a great treat for them, for the gardens
country around the temple were as wonderful as the halls and galleries
The leaves of some of the
plants were so broad and strong that they were
able to lie down on them; and, when a breath of wind stirred the
Children swung as in a hammock. It was always summer there and never a
was darkened by the night; but the hours were known by their different
there were pink, white, blue, lilac, green and yellow hours; and,
their hues, the flowers, the fruits, the birds, the butterflies and the
changed, causing Tyltyl and Mytyl a perpetual surprise. They had all
that they could wish for. When they were tired of playing, they
themselves out on the backs of the lizards, which were as long and wide
little boats, and quickly, quickly raced round the garden-paths, over
which was as white and as good to eat as sugar. When they were thirsty,
shook her tresses into the cup of the enormous flowers; and the
straight out of the lilies, tulips and convolvuluses. If they were
picked radiant fruits which revealed the taste of Light to them and
juice that shone like the rays of the sun.
There was also, in a clump of
bushes, a white marble pond which possessed
a magic power: its clear waters reflected not the faces, but the souls
who looked into it.
"It's a ridiculous
invention," said the Cat, who steadily
refused to go near the pond.
You, my dear little readers,
who know her thoughts as well as I do, will
not be surprised at her refusal. And you will also understand why our
Tylô was not afraid to go and quench his thirst there: he
need not fear to
reveal his thoughts, for he was the only creature whose soul never
dear Dog had no feelings but those of love and kindness and devotion.
When Tyltyl bent over the
magic mirror, he almost always saw the picture
of a splendid Blue Bird, for the constant wish to find him filled his
entirely. Then he would run to Light and entreat her:
"Tell me where he is!... You
know everything: tell me where to find
she replied, in a tone of mystery:
"I cannot tell you anything.
You must find him for yourself."
And, kissing him, she added, "Cheer up; you are getting nearer to him
Now there came a day on which she said to him:
"I have received a message
from the Fairy Bérylune telling me that
the Blue Bird is probably hidden in the graveyard... It appears that
one of the
Dead in the grave-yard is keeping him in his tomb...."
"What shall we do?" asked
"It is very simple: at
midnight you will turn the diamond and you
shall see the Dead come out of the ground."
At these words, Milk, Water,
Bread and Sugar began to yell and scream and
chatter their teeth like anything.
"Don't mind them," said Light
to Tyltyl, in a whisper.
"They are afraid of the Dead."
"I'm not afraid of them? said
Fire, frisking about. "Time was
when I used to burn them; that was much more amusing than nowadays."
"Oh, I feel I am going to
turn," wailed Milk.
"I'm not afraid," said the
Dog, trembling in every limb,
"but if you run away... I shall run away too... and with the greatest
The Cat sat pulling at her
"I know what's what," she
said, in her usual mysterious way.
"Be quiet," said Light. "The
Fairy gave strict orders. You
are all to stay with me, at the gate of the graveyard; the Children are
to go in
Tyltyl felt anything but
pleased. He asked:
"Aren't you coming with us?'
"No," said Light. "The time
for that has not arrived.
Light cannot yet enter among the Dead. Besides, there is nothing to
shall not be far away; and those who love me and whom! love always find
She had not finished speaking, when everything around the Children changed. The wonderful temple, the dazzling flowers, the splendid gardens vanished to make way for a poor little country cemetery, which lay in the soft moonlight. Near the Children were a number of graves, grassy mounds, wooden crosses and tombstones. Tyltyl and Mytyl were seized with terror and hugged each other:
"I am frightened!" said Mytyl.
"I am never frightened,"
stammered Tyltyl, who was shaking with
fear, but did not like to say so.
"I say," asked Mytyl, "are
the Dead wicked?"
"Why, no, said Tyltyl,
"they're not alive!..."
"Have you ever seen one?"
"Yes, once, long ago, when I
was very young..."
"What was it like?"
"Quite white, very still and
very cold; and it didn't talk..."
"Are we going to see
Tyltyl shuddered at this
question and made an unsuccessful effort to
steady his voice as he answered: "Why, of course, Light said so!"
"Where are the Dead?" asked
Tyltyl cast a frightened look
around him, for the Children had not dared
to stir since they were alone:
"The Dead are here," he said,
"under the grass or under
those big stones."
"Are those the doors of their houses?' asked Mytyl, pointing to the tombstones.
"Do they go out when it's
"They can only go out at
"Because they are in their
"Do they go out also when it
"When it rains, they stay at
"Is it nice in their homes?"
"They say it's very cramped."
"Have they any little
"Why, yes, they have all
those who die."
"And what do they live
Tyltyl stopped to think,
before answering. As Mytyl's big brother, he
felt it his duty to know everything; but her questions often puzzled
he reflected that, as the Dead live under ground, they can hardly eat
that is above it; and so he answered very positively:
"They eat roots!"
Mytyl was quite satisfied and
returned to the great question that was
occupying her little mind: "Shall we see theme." she asked.
"Of course," said Tyltyl, "we
see everything when I turn
"And what will they say?"
Tyltyl began to grow
"They will say nothing, as
they don't talk."
"Why don't they
talk?” asked Mytyl.
"Because they have nothing to
say," said Tyltyl, more cross and
perplexed than ever.
"Why have they nothing to
This time, the little big
brother lost all patience. He shrugged his
shoulders, gave Mytyl a push and shouted angrily:
"You're a nuisance!..."
Mytyl was greatly upset and
confused. She sucked her thumb and resolved
to hold her tongue for ever after, as she had been so badly treated!
breath of wind made the leaves of the trees whisper and suddenly
Children to their fears and their sense of loneliness. They hugged each
tight and began to talk again, so as not to hear the horrible silence:
"When will you turn the
diamond?'' asked Mytyl.
"You heard Light say that I
was to wait until midnight, because that
disturbs them less; it is when they come out to take the air.... "
"Isn't it midnight yet..."
Tyltyl turned round, saw the
church clock and hardly had the strength to
answer, for the hands were just upon the hour:
"Listen," he stammered,
"listen… It is just going to
strike… There!… Do you hear?…."And the
clock struck twelve.
Then Mytyl, frightened out of
her life, began to stamp her feet and utter
"I want to go away!… I want to go away!..." Tyltyl, though stiff with fright, was able to say:
"Not now… I am going to turn the diamond…"
"No, no, no!" cried Mytyl. "I
am so frightened, little
brother!…Don't do it!…. I want to go away!…"
Tyltyl vainly tried to lift
his hand' he could not reach the diamond with
Mytyl clinging to him, hanging with all her weight on her brother's arm
screaming at the top of her Voice:
"I don't want to see the
Dead! …They will be awful! … I can't
possibly! … I am much too frightened! ..." Poor Tyltyl was
quite as much
terrified as Mytyl, but at each trial, his will and courage were
greater; he was learning to master himself; and nothing could induce
him to fail
in his mission. The eleventh stroke rang out.
"The hour is passing, he
exclaimed. "It is time!"
And releasing himself
resolutely from Mytyl's arms, he turned the
A moment of terrible silence
followed for the poor little children. Then
they saw the crosses totter, the mounds open, the slabs rise
Mytyl hid her face against
"They're coming out!" she
cried. "They're there!…They're there!..."
The agony was more than the
plucky little fellow could endure. He shut
his eyes and only kept himself from fainting by leaning against a tree
him. He remained like that for a minute that seemed to him like a
daring to move, not daring to breathe. Then he heard birds singing; a
scented breeze fanned his face; and, on his hands, on his neck, he felt
heat of the balmy summer sun. Now quite reassured, but unable to
believe in so
great a miracle, he opened his eyes and at once began to shout with
From all the open tombs came
thousands of splendid flowers. They spread
everywhere, on the paths, on the trees, on the grass; and they went up
until it seemed that they would touch the sky. They were great
showing their hearts, wonderful golden hearts from which came the hot,
rays which had wrapped Tyltyl in that summer warmth. Bound the roses,
and bees buzzed gaily.
"I can't believe it! It's not
possible!" said Tyltyl.
"What has become of the tombs and the stone crosses?"
Dazzled and bewildered, the
two children walked hand in hand through the
graveyard, of which not a trace remained, for there was nothing but a
garden on every side. They were as glad and happy as could be, after
terrible fright. They had thought that ugly skeletons would rise from
and run after them, pulling horrid faces; they had imagined all sorts
things. And now, in the presence of the truth, they saw that all that
been told was a great big story and that Death does not exist. They saw
there are no Dead and that Life goes on always, always, but under fresh
The fading rose sheds its pollen, which gives birth to other roses, and
scattered petals scent the air. The fruits come when the blossoms fall
trees; and the dingy, hairy caterpillar turns into a brilliant
Nothing perishes…there are only changes…
Beautiful birds circled all round Tyltyl and Mytyl. There were no blue ones among them, but the two Children were so glad of their discovery that they asked for nothing more. Astonished and delighted, they kept on repeating "There are no Dead!…There are no Dead!…"