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CHAPTER X

THE AWAKENING

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 their little beds. Mummy Tyl stood looking at them, with her arms akimbo and her apron tucked 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 noses pointing at the ceiling, their mouths wide open, their eyes shut and their cheeks all pink.

At last, after receiving a gentle thump in the ribs, Tyltyl opened one eye and murmured:

"What?.... Light?…Where are you?…. No, no, don't go away…”

"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 quite blinded…"

"Mummy!... Mummy!" said Tyltyl, rubbing his eyes. "It's you!..."

"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 made believe 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 here you are this morning! It's Christmas Day: don't you hear the bells in the village?...."

"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 say?..."

"Come, you're still asleep!" said Mummy Tyl, trying to take comfort. "You've been dreaming!... Get up and put on your breeches and your 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 Memory... it was on our way. They are dead, but they are quite well, aren't they, Mytyl?”

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 had with 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 of the forest:

"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 their 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 doctor .... "

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 looked 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 her, shouting merrily:

"It's the Fairy Bérylune!"

The neighbour, who was a little hard of hearing, paid no attention to their cries and said to Mummy Tyl:

"I have come to ask for a bit of fire for my Christmas stew .... It's very chilly this morning .... Good-morning, children.... "

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."

"Béry... what?" asked the neighbour.

"Bérylune," answered Tyltyl, calmly.

"Berlingot," said the neighbour. "You mean Berlingot."

Tyltyl was a little put out by her positive way of talking; and he answered:

"Bérylune or Berlingot, as you please, ma'am, but! know what I'm saying .... "

Daddy 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 moonbeams.... 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 would cure her, for all that. She was asking me for it only this morning, for her Christmas present...

She hesitated a little, looked at Tyltyl with a sigh and added, in a disheartened tone:

"What can I do? It's a fancy she has...."

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 would get well if Tyltyl would only give her his dove; but he was so fond of it that he 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 so long! . .."

"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 you 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, crying:

"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 home!... Oh, but how wonderful!... Mytyl, do you see the bird? What would Light say?... 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 wandering…"

Meantime, Neighbour Berlingot beamed all over her face, clasped her hands together and mumbled her thanks. When Tyltyl gave her the bird, she could hardly believe her eyes. She hugged the boy in her arms and wept with joy and gratitude:

"Do you give it me?" she kept saying. "Do you give it me like that, straight away and for nothing?... Goodness, how happy she will be!... 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, looked all 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 on:

"Why, yes, everything has been painted and made to look like new; everything is clean and polished.... And look at the forest outside the window!... How big and fine it is!... One would think it was quite new!... 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 Tyltyl and Mytyl through their beautiful dream, will have guessed what it was that altered 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 around him; he had passed through trials that had developed his courage; while pursuing the Blue Bird, the Bird of Happiness that was to bring happiness to the Fairy's little girl, he had become open-handed and so good-natured that the mere thought of giving pleasure to others filled his heart with joy. And, while travelling through endless, wonderful, imaginary regions, his mind had opened out to life.

The boy was right, when he thought everything more beautiful, for, to his richer and purer understanding, everything must needs seem infinitely fairer than before.

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 at Tylô, who was sleeping in his basket, and congratulated him on the good fight which he had made in the forest.

Mytyl stooped down to stroke Tylette, who was snoozing by the stove, and said:

"Well, Tylette?…. You know me, I see, but you have stopped talking."

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 the 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 understand her as well as I did.... Oh, how happy I am, how happy I am!..."

"So am I, so am I!" cried Mytyl.

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 porridge and laughing:

"You see, they are playing at being happy!" he said. Of course, the poor dear man did not know that a wonderful dream had taught his little children not to play at being happy, but to be happy, which is the greatest and most difficult of lessons.

"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 of 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 door!"

As a matter of fact, it was the little girl, with her mother, Neighbour Berlingot.

"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 the 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 after so many months' illness. She smiled and pressed Tyltyl's dove to her heart.

Tyltyl looked first at the child and then at Mytyl: "Don't you think she's very 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, while the parents began to feel easier in their minds and looked at them and smiled.

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 happiness that decked him with a magnificent bright blue plumage in our hero's eyes. No matter! Tyltyl, without knowing it, had discovered Light's great secret, which 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: the Bird had suddenly escaped! He was flying away as fast as he could. "My bird! My bird!" sobbed the little girl.

But Tyltyl was the first to run to the staircase and he returned in triumph:

"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 her tears:

"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."

You also, my dear little readers, now know where the Blue Bird is. Dear Light revealed nothing to the woodcutter's Children, but she showed them the road to 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 you."

The Children would never have believed her:

"What!" Tyltyl would have answered. "The Blue Bird, my dove? Nonsense! my dove is grey!... Happiness, in the cottage? With Daddy and Mummy? Oh, I say! There are no toys at home and it's awfully boring there: we want to go ever so far and meet with tremendous adventures and have all sorts of fun.... "

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.

THE END

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