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The Blue Bird: A Fairy Play in Six Acts
by Maurice Maeterlinck
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THE BLUE BIRD

A Fairy Play in Six Acts

BY MAURICE MAETERLINCK

Translated by ALEXANDER TEIXEIRA DE MATTOS



CHARACTERS

TYLTYL MYTYL LIGHT THE FAIRY BERYLUNE NEIGHBOUR BERLINGOT DADDY TYL MUMMY TYL GAFFER TYL (Dead) GRANNY TYL (Dead) TYLTYL'S BROTHERS AND SISTERS (Dead) TIME NIGHT NEIGHBOUR BERLINGOT'S LITTLE DAUGHTER TYLO, THE DOG TYLETTE, THE CAT BREAD SUGAR FIRE WATER MILK THE WOLF THE PIG THE OX THE COW THE BULL THE SHEEP THE COCK THE RABBIT THE HORSE THE ASS THE OAK THE ELM THE BEECH THE LIME-TREE THE FIR-TREE THE CYPRESS THE BIRCH THE CHESTNUT-TREE THE IVY THE POPLAR THE WILLOW STARS, SICKNESSES, SHADES, LUXURIES, HAPPINESSES, JOYS, ETC.



TRANSLATOR'S NOTE

A new act appears for the first time in this edition and is inserted as Act IV—Palace of Happiness. It has been specially written for the Christmas revival of The Blue Bird at the Haymarket Theatre, where it will take the place of the Forest Scene (Act III., Scene 2). In the printed version, however, the Forest Scene is retained; and in this and all later editions the play will consist of six acts instead of five.

ALEXANDER TEIXEIRA DE MATTOS. CHELSEA, 14 November, 1910.



COSTUMES

TYLTYL wears the dress of Hop o' my Thumb in Perrault's Tales. Scarlet knickerbockers, pale-blue jacket, white stockings, tan shoes.

MYTYL is dressed like Gretel or Little Red Riding-hood.

LIGHT.—The "moon-coloured" dress in Perrault's Peau d'ane; that is to say, pale gold shot with silver, shimmering gauzes, forming a sort of rays, etc. Neo-Grecian or Anglo-Grecian (a la Walter Crane) or even more or less Empire style: a high waist, bare arms, etc. Head-dress: a sort of diadem or even a light crown.

THE FAIRY BERYLUNE and NEIGHBOUR BERLINGOT.—The traditional dress of the poor women in fairy-tales. If desired, the transformation of the Fairy into a princess in Act I may be omitted.

DADDY TYL, MUMMY TYL, GAFFER TYL and GRANNY TYL.—The traditional costume of the German wood-cutters and peasants in Grimm's Tales.

TYLTYL'S BROTHERS AND SISTERS.—Different forms of the Hop-o'-my-Thumb costume.

TIME.—Traditional dress of Time: a wide black or dark-blue cloak, a streaming white beard, scythe and hour-glass.

NIGHT.—Ample black garments, covered with mysterious stars and "shot" with reddish-brown reflections. Veils, dark poppies, etc.

THE NEIGHBOUR'S LITTLE GIRL.—Bright fair hair; a long white frock.

THE DOG,—Red dress-coat, white breeches, top-boots, a shiny hat. The costume suggests that of John Bull.

THE CAT.—The costume of Puss In Boots: powdered wig, three-cornered hat, violet or sky-blue coat, dress-sword, etc.

N.B.—The heads of the DOG and the CAT should be only discreetly animalised.

THE LUXURIES.—Before the transformation: wide, heavy mantles in red and yellow brocade; enormous fat jewels, etc. After the transformation: chocolate or coffee-coloured tights, giving the impression of unadorned dancing-jacks.

THE HAPPINESSES OF THE HOME.—Dresses of various colours, or, if preferred, costumes of peasants, shepherds, wood-cutters and so on, but idealised and interpreted fairy-fashion.

THE GREAT JOYS.—As stated in the text, shimmering dresses in soft and subtle shades: rose-awakening, water's-smile, amber-dew, blue-of-dawn, etc.

MATERNAL LOVE.—Dress very similar to the dress worn by Light, that is to say, supple and almost transparent veils, as of a Greek statue, and, in so far as possible, white. Pearls and other stones as rich and numerous as may be desired, provided that they do not break the pure and candid harmony of the whole.

BREAD.—A rich pasha's dress. An ample crimson silk or velvet gown. A huge turban. A scimitar. An enormous stomach, red and puffed-out cheeks.

SUGAR.—A silk gown, cut like that of a eunuch in a seraglio, half blue and half white, to suggest the paper wrapper of a sugar-loaf. Eunuch's headdress.

FIRE.—Red tights, a vermilion cloak, with changing reflections, lined with gold. An aigrette of iridescent flames.

WATER.—A pale-blue or bluish-green dress, with transparent reflections and effects of rippling or trickling gauze, Neo-Grecian or Anglo-Grecian style. but fuller and more voluminous than that of LIGHT. Head-dress of aquatic flowers and seaweed.

THE ANIMALS.—Popular or peasant costumes.

THE TREES.—Dresses of different shades of green or the colour of the trunks of trees. Distinctive attributes in the shape of leaves or branches by which they can be recognised.



SCENES

ACT I.—The Wood-cutter's Cottage.

ACT II., Scene 1—At the Fairy's.

Scene 2—The Land of Memory.

ACT III., Scene 1—The Palace of Night.

Scene 2—The Forest.

ACT IV., Scene 1—Before the Curtain.

Scene 2—The Palace of Happiness.

ACT V., Scene 1—Before the Curtain.

Scene 2—The Graveyard.

Scene 3—The Kingdom of the Future.

ACT VI., Scene 1—The Leave-taking.

Scene 2—The Awakening.



The Blue Bird

ACT I

_The Wood-cutter's Cottage

The stage represents the interior of a wood-cutter's cottage, simple and rustic in appearance, but in no way poverty-stricken. A recessed fireplace containing the dying embers of a wood-fire. Kitchen utensils, a cupboard, a bread-pan, a grandfather's clock, a spinning-wheel, a water-tap, etc. On a table, a lighted lamp. At the foot of the cupboard, on either side, a_ DOG _and a_ CAT _lie sleeping, rolled up, each with his nose in his tail. Between them stands a large blue-and-white sugar-loaf. On the wall hangs a round cage containing a turtle-dove. At the back, two windows, with closed inside shutters. Under one of the windows, a stool. On the left is the front door, with a big latch to it. On the right, another door. A ladder leads up to a loft. On the right also are two little children's cots, at the head of which are two chains, with clothes carefully folded on them. When the curtain rises_, TYLTYL _and_ MYTYL _are sound asleep in their cots_, MUMMY TYL _tucks them in, leans over them, watches them for a moment as they sleep and beckons to_ DADDY TYL, _who thrusts his head through the half-open door_. MUMMY TYL _lays a finger on her lips, to impose silence upon him, and then goes out to the right, on tiptoe, after first putting out the lamp. The scene remains in darkness for a moment. Then a light, gradually increasing in intensity, filters in through the shutters. The lamp on the table lights again of itself, but its light is of a different colour than when_ MUMMY TYL _extinguished it. The two_ CHILDREN _appear to wake and sit up in bed_.

TYLTYL Mytyl?

MYTYL Tyltyl?

TYLTYL Are you asleep?

MYTYL Are you?...

TYLTYL No; how can I be asleep when I'm talking to you?

MYTYL Say, is this Christmas Day?...

TYLTYL Not yet; not till to-morrow. But Father Christmas won't bring us anything this year....

MYTYL Why not?

TYLTYL I heard mummy say that she couldn't go to town to tell him ... But he will come next year....

MYTYL Is next year far off?...

TYLTYL A good long while.... But he will come to the rich children to-night....

MYTYL Really?...

TYLTYL Hullo!... Mummy's forgotten to put out the lamp!... I've an idea!...

MYTYL What?...

TYLTYL Let's get up....

MYTYL But we mustn't....

TYLTYL Why, there's no one about.... Do you see the shutters?...

MYTYL Oh, how bright they are!...

TYLTYL It's the lights of the party.

MYTYL What party?...

TYLTYL The rich children opposite. It's the Christmas-tree. Let's open the shutters....

MYTYL Can we?...

TYLTYL Of course; there's no one to stop us.... Do you hear the music?... Let us get up....

(The two CHILDREN get up, run to one of the windows, climb on to the stool and throw back the shutters. A bright light fills the room. The CHILDREN look out greedily.)

TYLTYL We can see everything!...

MYTYL (who can hardly find room on the stool) I can't....

TYLTYL It's snowing!... There's two carriages, with six horses each!...

MYTYL There are twelve little boys getting out!...

TYLTYL How silly you are!... They're little girls....

MYTYL They've got knickerbockers....

TYLTYL What do you know?... Don't push so!...

MYTYL I never touched you.

TYLTYL (who is taking up the whole stool) You're taking up all the room...

MYTYL Why, I have no room at all!...

TYLTYL Do be quiet! I see the tree!...

MYTYL What tree?...

TYLTYL Why, the Christmas-tree!... You're looking at the wall!...

MYTYL I'm looking at the wall because I've got no room....

TYLTYL (giving her a miserly little place on the stool) There!... Will that do?... Now you're better off than I!... I say, what lots and lots of lights!...

MYTYL What are those people doing who are making such a noise?...

TYLTYL They're the musicians.

MYTYL Are they angry?...

TYLTYL No; but it's hard work.

MYTYL Another carriage with white horses!...

TYLTYL Be quiet!... And look!...

MYTYL What are those gold things there, hanging from the branches?

TYLTYL Why, toys, to be sure!... Swords, guns, soldiers, cannons....

MYTYL And dolls; say, are there any dolls?...

TYLTYL Dolls?... That's too silly; there's no fun in dolls....

MYTYL And what's that all round the table?....

TYLTYL Cakes and fruit and tarts....

MYTYL I had some once when I was little....

TYLTYL So did I; it's nicer than bread, but they don't give you enough....

MYTYL They've got plenty over there.... The whole table's full.... Are they going to eat them?...

TYLTYL Of course; what else would they do with them?...

MYTYL Why don't they eat them at once?...

TYLTYL Because they're not hungry....

MYTYL (stupefied with astonishment) Not hungry?... Why not?...

TYLTYL Well, they eat whenever they want to....

MYTYL (incredulously) Every day?...

TYLTYL They say so....

MYTYL Will they eat them all?... Will they give any away?...

TYLTYL To whom?...

MYTYL To us....

TYLTYL They don't know us....

MYTYL Suppose we asked them....

TYLTYL We mustn't.

MYTYL Why not?...

TYLTYL Because it's not right.

MYTYL (clapping her hands) Oh, how pretty they are!...

TYLTYL (rapturously) And how they're laughing and laughing!...

MYTYL And the little ones dancing!...

TYLTYL Yes, yes; let's dance too!... (They stamp their feet for joy on the stool.)

MYTYL Oh, what fun!...

TYLTYL They're getting the cakes!... They can touch them!... They're eating, they're eating, they're eating!...

MYTYL The tiny ones, too!... They've got two, three, four apiece!...

TYLTYL (drunk with delight) Oh, how lovely!... Oh, how lovely, how lovely!...

MYTYL (counting imaginary cakes) I've got twelve!...

TYLTYL And I four times twelve!... But I'll give you some....

(A knock at the door of the cottage.)

TYLTYL (suddenly quieted and frightened) What's that?...

MYTYL (scared) It's Daddy!...

(As they hesitate before opening the door, the big latch is seen to rise of itself, with a grating noise; the door half opens to admit a little old woman dressed in green with a red hood on her head. She is humpbacked and lame and near-sighted; her nose and chin meet; and she walks bent on a stick. She is obviously a fairy.)

THE FAIRY Have you the grass here that sings or the bird that is blue?...

TYLTYL We have some grass, but it can't sing....

MYTYL Tyltyl has a bird.

TYLTYL But I can't give it away....

THE FAIRY Why not?...

TYLTYL Because it's mine.

THE FAIRY That's a reason, no doubt. Where is the bird?...

TYLTYL (pointing to the cage) In the cage....

THE FAIRY (putting on her glasses to examine the bird) I don't want it; it's not blue enough. You will have to go and find me the one I want.

TYLTYL But I don't know where it is....

THE FAIRY No more do I. That's why you must look for it. I can do without the grass that sings, at a pinch; but I must absolutely have the blue bird. It's for my little girl, who is very ill.

TYLTYL What's the matter with her?...

THE FAIRY We don't quite know; she wants to be happy....

TYLTYL Really?...

THE FAIRY Do you know who I am?...

TYLTYL You're rather like our neighbour, Madame Berlingot....

THE FAIRY (growing suddenly angry) Not a bit!... There's not the least likeness!... This is intolerable!... I am the Fairy Berylune....

TYLTYL Oh! Very well....

THE FAIRY You will have to start at once.

TYLTYL Are you coming with us?

THE FAIRY I can't, because I put on the soup this morning and it always boils over if I leave it for more than an hour.... (Pointing successively to the ceiling, the chimney and the window) Will you go out this way, or that way, or that way?...

TYLTYL (pointing timidly to the door) I would rather go out that way....

THE FAIRY (growing suddenly angry again) That's quite impossible; and it's a shocking habit!... (Pointing to the window) We'll go out this way.... Well?... What are you waiting for?... Get dressed at once.... (The CHILDREN do as they are told and dress quickly.) I'll help Mytyl....

TYLTYL We have no shoes....

THE FAIRY That doesn't matter. I will give you a little magic hat. Where are your father and mother?....

TYLTYL (pointing to the door on the right) They're asleep in there....

THE FAIRY And your grandpapa and grandmamma?...

TYLTYL They're dead....

THE FAIRY And your little brothers and sisters.... Have you any?...

TYLTYL Oh, yes; three little brothers....

MYTYL And four little sisters....

THE FAIRY Where are they?...

TYLTYL They are dead, too....

THE FAIRY Would you like to see them again?...

TYLTYL Oh, yes!... At once!... Show them to us!...

THE FAIRY I haven't got them in my pocket.... But this is very lucky; you will see them when you go through the Land of Memory.... It's on the way to the Blue Bird, just on the left, past the third turning.... What were you doing when I knocked?...

TYLTYL We were playing at eating cakes?...

THE FAIRY Have you any cakes?... Where are they?...

TYLTYL In the house of the rich children.... Come and look, it's so lovely. (He drags the FAIRY to the window.)

THE FAIRY (at the window) But it's the others who are eating them!...

TYLTYL Yes; but we can see them eat....

THE FAIRY Aren't you cross with them?...

TYLTYL What for?...

THE FAIRY For eating all the cakes.... I think it's very wrong of them not to give you some....

TYLTYL Not at all; they're rich.... I say, isn't it beautiful over there?...

THE FAIRY It's no more beautiful there than here.

TYLTYL Ugh!... It's darker here and smaller and there are no cakes....

THE FAIRY It's exactly the same, only you can't see....

TYLTYL Yes, I can; and I have very good eyes. I can see the time on the church clock and daddy can't...

THE FAIRY (suddenly angry) I tell you that you can't see!... How do you see me?... What do I look like?... (An awkward silence from TYLTYL.) Well, answer me, will you? I want to know if you can see!... Am I pretty or ugly?... (The silence grows more and more uncomfortable.) Won't you answer?... Am I young or old?... Are my cheeks pink or yellow?... Perhaps you'll say I have a hump?...

TYLTYL (in a conciliatory tone) No, no; It's not a big one....

THE FAIRY Oh, yes, to look at you, any one would think it enormous.... Have I a hook nose and have I lost one of my eyes?...

TYLTYL Oh, no, I don't say that.... Who put it out?...

THE FAIRY (growing more and more irritated). But it's not out!... You wretched, impudent boy!... It's much finer than the other; it's bigger and brighter and blue as the sky.... And my hair, do you see that?... It's fair as the corn in the fields, it's like virgin gold!... And I've such heaps and heaps of it that it weighs my head down.... It escapes on every side.... Do you see it on my hands? (She holds out two lean wisps of grey hair.)

TYLTYL Yes, I see a little....

THE FAIRY (indignantly) A little!... Sheaves! Armfuls! Clusters! Waves of gold!... I know there are people who say that they don't see any; but you're not one of those wicked, blind people, I should hope?...

TYLTYL Oh, no; I can see all that isn't hidden....

THE FAIRY But you ought to see the rest with as little doubt!... Human beings are very odd!... Since the death of the fairies, they see nothing at all and they never suspect it.... Luckily, I always carry with me all that is wanted to give new light to dimmed eyes.... What am I taking out of my bag?...

TYLTYL Oh, what a dear little green hat!... What's that shining in the cockade?...

THE FAIRY That's the big diamond that makes people see....

TYLTYL Really?...

THE FAIRY Yes; when you've got the hat on your head, you turn the diamond a little; from right to left, for instance, like this; do you see?... Then it presses a bump which nobody knows of and which opens your eyes....

TYLTYL Doesn't it hurt?...

THE FAIRY On the contrary, it's enchanted.... You at once see even the inside of things: the soul of bread, of wine, of pepper, for instance....

MYTYL Can you see the soul of sugar, too?...

THE FAIRY (suddenly cross) Of course you can!... I hate unnecessary questions.... The soul of sugar is no more interesting than the soul of pepper.... There, I give you all I have to help you in your search for the Blue Bird. I know that the flying carpet or the ring which makes its wearer invisible would be more useful to you.... But I have lost the key of the cupboard in which I locked them.... Oh, I was almost forgetting!... (Pointing to the diamond) When you hold it like this, do you see?... One little turn more and you behold the past.... Another little turn and you behold the future.... It's curious and practical and it's quite noiseless....

TYLTYL Daddy will take it from me....

THE FAIRY He won't see it; no one can see it as long as it's on your head.... Will you try it?... (She puts the little green hat on TYLTYL'S head.) Now, turn the diamond.... One turn and then....

(TYLTYL has no sooner turned the diamond than a sudden and wonderful change comes over everything. The old FAIRY alters then and there into a princess of marvellous beauty; the flints of which the cottage walls are built light up, turn blue as sapphires, become transparent and gleam and sparkle like the most precious stones. The humble furniture takes life and becomes resplendent; the deal table assumes as grave and noble an air as a table made of marble; the face of the clock winks its eye and smiles genially, while the door that contains the pendulum opens and releases the Hours, which, holding one another by the hand and laughing merrily, begin to dance to the sound of delicious music.)

TYLTYL (displaying a legitimate bewilderment and pointing to the Hours) Who are all those pretty ladies?...

THE FAIRY Don't be afraid; they are the hours of your life and they are glad to be free and visible for a moment....

TYLTYL And why are the walls so bright?... Are they made of sugar or of precious stones?...

THE FAIRY All stones are alike, all stones are precious; but man sees only a few of them....

(While they are speaking, the scene of enchantment continues and is completed. The souls of the Quartern-loaves, in the form of little men in crust-coloured tights, flurried and all powdered with flour, scramble out of the bread-pan and frisk round the table, where they are caught up by FIRE, who, springing from the hearth in yellow and vermilion tights, writhes with laughter as he chases the loaves.)

TYLTYL Who are those ugly little men?...

THE FAIRY Oh, they're nothing; they are merely the souls of the Quartern-loaves, who are taking advantage of the reign of truth to leave the pan in which they were too tightly packed....

TYLTYL And the big red fellow, with the nasty smell?...

THE FAIRY Hush!... Don't speak too loud; that's Fire.... He's dangerous. (This dialogue does not interrupt the enchantment. The DOG and the CAT, lying rolled up at the foot of the cupboard, utter a loud and simultaneous cry and disappear down a trap; and in their places rise two persons, one of whom has the face of a bull-dog, the other that of a tom-cat. Forthwith, the little man with the bull-dog face, whom we will henceforward call the DOG, rushes upon TYLTYL, kisses him violently and overwhelms him with noisy and impetuous caresses; while the little man with the face of a tom-cat, whom we will simply call the CAT, combs his hair, washes his hands and strokes his whiskers before going up to MYTYL.)

THE DOG (yelling, jumping about, knocking up against everything, unbearable) My little god!... Good-morning, good-morning, my dear little god!... At last, at last we can talk!... I had so much to tell you!... Bark and wag my tail as I might, you never understood!... But now!... Good-morning, good-morning!... I love you!... Shall I do some of my tricks?... Shall I beg?... Would you like to see me walk on my front paws or dance on my hind-legs?...

TYLTYL (to the FAIRY) Who is this gentleman with the dog's head?....

THE FAIRY Don't you see? It's the soul of TYLO whom you have set free....

THE CAT (going up to MYTYL and putting out his hand to her, with much ceremony and circumspection) Good-morning, Miss.... How well you look this morning!...

MYTYL Good-morning, sir.... (To the FAIRY) Who is it?...

THE FAIRY Why, don't you see? Its the soul of Tylette offering you his hand.... Kiss him....

THE DOG (hustling the CAT) Me, too!... I've kissed the little god!... I've kissed the little girl!... I've kissed everybody!... Oh, grand!... What fun we shall have!... I'm going to frighten Tylette I Bow, wow, wow!...

THE CAT Sir, I don't know you....

THE FAIRY (threatening the DOG with her stick) Keep still, will you, or else you'll go back into silence until the end of time....

(Meanwhile, the enchantment has pursued its course: the spinning-wheel has begun to turn madly in its corner and to spin brilliant rays of light; the tap, in another corner, begins to sing in a very high voice and, turning into a luminous fountain, floods the sink with sheets of pearls and emeralds, through which darts the soul of WATER, like a young girl, streaming, dishevelled and tearful, who immediately begins to fight with FIRE.)

TYLTYL And who is that wet lady?...

THE FAIRY Don't be afraid. It's Water just come from the tap....

(The milk-jug upsets, falls from the table and smashes on the floor; and from the spilt milk there rises a tall, white, bashful figure who seems to be afraid of everything.)

TYLTYL And the frightened lady in her nightgown?...

THE FAIRY That's Milk; she has broken her jug....

(The sugar-loaf, at the foot of the cupboard, grows taller and wider and splits its paper wrapper, whence issues a mawkish and hypocritical being, dressed in a long coat half blue and half white, who goes up to MYTYL with a sanctimonious smile.)

MYTYL (greatly alarmed) What does he want?...

THE FAIRY Why, he is the soul of Sugar!...

MYTYL (reassured) Has he any barley-sugar?...

THE FAIRY His pockets are full of it and each of his fingers is a sugar-stick....

(The lamp falls from the table and, at the same moment, its flame springs up again and turns into a luminous maid of incomparable beauty. She is dressed in long transparent and dazzling veils and stands motionless in a sort of ecstasy.)

TYLTYL It's the Queen!...

MYTYL It's the Blessed Virgin!...

THE FAIRY No, my children; it's Light....

(Meanwhile, the saucepans on the shelves spin round like tops; the linen-press throws open its folding-doors and unrolls a magnificent display of moon-coloured and sun-coloured stuffs, with which mingles a no less splendid array of rags and tatters that come down the ladder from the loft. But, suddenly, three loud knocks are heard on the door at the right.)

TYLTYL (alarmed) That's daddy!... He's heard us!...

THE FAIRY Turn the diamond!... From left to right!...

(TYLTYL turns the diamond quickly.) Not so quick!... Heavens! It's too late!... You turned it too briskly; they will not have time to resume their places and we shall have a lot of annoyance....

(The FAIRY becomes an old woman again, the walls of the cottage lose their splendour. The Hours go back into the clock, the spinning-wheel stops, etc. But, in the general hurry and confusion, while FIRE runs madly round the room, looking for the chimney, one of the loaves of bread, who has been unable to squeeze into the pan, bursts into sobs and utters roars of fright.)

THE FAIRY What's the matter?...

BREAD (in tears) There's no room in the pan!...

THE FAIRY (stooping over the pan) Yes, there is; yes, there is.... (Pushing the other loaves, which have resumed their original places.) Come, quick, make room there....

(The knocking at the door is renewed.)

BREAD (utterly scared, vainly struggling to enter the pan) I can't get in!... He'll eat me first!...

THE DOG (frisking round TYLTYL) My little god!... I am still here!... I can still talk!... I can still kiss you!... Once more! Once more! Once more!...

THE FAIRY What, you too?... Are you there still?...

THE DOG What luck!... I was too late to return to silence; the trap closed too quickly....

THE CAT So did mine.... What is going to happen?... Is there any danger?...

THE FAIRY Well, I'm bound to tell you the truth: all those who accompany the two children will die at the end of the journey....

THE CAT (to the DOG) Come, let us get back into the trap....

THE DOG No, no!... I won't!... I want to go with the little god!... I want to talk to him all the time!...

THE CAT Idiot!...

(More knocking at the door)

BREAD (shedding bitter tears) I don't want to die at the end of the journey!... I want to get back at once into my pan!...

FIRE (who has done nothing but run madly round the room, hissing with anguish) I can't find my chimney!...

WATER (vainly trying to get into the tap) I can't get into the tap!...

SUGAR (hovering round his paper wrapper) I've burst my packing-paper!...

MILK (lymphatically and bashfully) Somebody's broken my little jug!...

THE FAIRY Goodness me, what fools they are!... Fools and cowards too!... So you would rather go on living in your ugly boxes, in your traps and taps, than accompany the children in search of the bird?...

ALL (excepting the DOG and LIGHT) Yes, yes! Now, at once!... My tap!... My pan!... My chimney!... My trap!...

THE FAIRY (to LIGHT, who is dreamily gazing at the wreckage of her lamp) And you, Light, what do you say?

LIGHT I will go with the children....

THE DOG (yelling with delight) I too!... I too!...

THE FAIRY That's right.... Besides, it's too late to go back; you have no choice now, you must all start with us.... But you, Fire, don't come near anybody; you, Dog, don't tease the Cat; and you, Water, hold yourself up and try not to run all over the place....

(A violent knocking is again heard at the door on the right.)

TYLTYL (listening) There's daddy again!... He's getting up this time; I can hear him walking....

THE FAIRY Let us go out by the window.... You shall all come to my house, where I will dress the Animals and the Things properly.... (To BREAD) You, Bread, take the cage in which to put the Blue Bird.... It will be in your charge.... Quick, quick, let us waste no time....

(The window suddenly lengthens downwards, like a door. They all go out; after which the window resumes its primitive shape and closes quite innocently. The room has become dark again and the two cots are steeped in shadow. The door on the right opens ajar and in the aperture appear the heads of DADDY and MUMMY TYL.)

DADDY TYL It was nothing.... It's the cricket chirping....

MUMMY TYL Can you see them?...

DADDY TYL I can.... They are sleeping quite quietly....

MUMMY TYL I can hear their breathing....

(The door closes again)

CURTAIN



ACT II

SCENE I.—At the FAIRY'S.

A magnificent entrance-hall in the palace of the FAIRY BERYLUNE. Columns of gleaming marble with gold and silver capitals, staircases, porticoes, balustrades, etc.

Enter from the back, on the right, sumptuously clad, the CAT, SUGAR and FIRE. They come from a room which emits rays of light; it is the FAIRY'S wardrobe. The CAT has donned the classic costume of Puss-in-boots; SUGAR, a silk dress, half white and half pale-blue; and FIRE wears a number of many-coloured aigrettes and a long vermilion mantle lined with gold. They cross the whole length of the hall to the front of the stage, where the CAT draws them up under a portico on the right.

THE CAT This way, I know every inch of this palace. It was left to the Fairy Berylune by Bluebeard.... Let us make the most of our last minute of liberty, while the children and Light pay their visit to the Fairy's little daughter.... I have brought you here in order to discuss the position in which we are placed.... Are we all here?...

SUGAR I see the Dog coming out of the Fairy's wardrobe....

FIRE What on earth has he got on?...

THE CAT He has put on the livery of one of the footmen of Cinderella's coach.... It was just the thing for him.... He has the soul of a flunkey.... But let us hide behind the balustrade.... It's strange how I mistrust him.... He had better not hear what I have to say to you....

SUGAR It is too late.... He has discovered us.... Look, here is Water also coming out of the wardrobe.... Goodness me, how fine she is!...

(The DOG and WATER join the first group.)

THE DOG (frisking about) There! There!... Aren't we fine I.... Just look at these laces and this embroidery!... It's real gold and no mistake!...

THE CAT (to WATER) Is that Catskin's "colour-of-time" dress?... I seem to recognise it....

WATER Yes, it's the one that suited me best....

FIRE (between his teeth) She's not brought her umbrella....

WATER What's that?...

FIRE Nothing, nothing....

WATER I thought you might be speaking of a great red I saw the other day....

THE CAT Come, don't let as quarrel; we have more important things to do.... We are only waiting for Bread; where is he?

THE DOG He was making an endless fuss about choosing his dress....

FIRE Worth while, isn't it, for a fellow who looks a fool and carries an enormous stomach?...

THE DOG At last, he decided in favour of a Turkish robe, adorned with gems, a scimitar and a turban....

THE CAT There he is!... He has put on Bluebeard's finest dress...

Enter BREAD, in the costume described above. The silk robe is crossed tightly over his huge stomach. In one hand he holds the hilt of a scimitar passed through his sash and in the other the cage intended for the Blue Bird.

BREAD (waddling conceitedly) Well?... What do you think of this?

THE DOG (frisking round the LOAF) How nice he looks! What a fool he looks! How nice he looks! How nice he looks!...

THE CAT (to the LOAF) Are the children dressed?...

BREAD Yes, Master Tyltyl has put on Hop-o'-my-Thumb's blue jacket and red breeches; and Miss Mytyl has Gretel's frock and Cinderella's slippers.... But the great thing was the dressing of Light!...

THE CAT Why?...

BREAD The Fairy thought her so lovely that she did not want to dress her at all!... Thereupon I protested in the name of our dignity as essential and eminently respectable elements; and I ended by declaring that, under those conditions, I should refuse to be seen with her....

FIRE They ought to have bought her a lampshade!...

THE CAT And what answer did the Fairy make?...

THE LOAF She hit me with her stick on my head and stomach....

THE CAT And then?...

BREAD I allowed myself to be convinced; but, at the last moment, Light decided on the moonbeam dress at the bottom of the chest with Catskin's treasures....

THE CAT Come, stop chattering, time presses.... Our future is at stake.... You have heard—the Fairy has just said so—that the end of this journey will, at the same time, mark the end of our lives.... It is our business, therefore, to prolong it as much as possible and by every possible means.... But there is another thing: we must think of the fate of our race and the destiny of our children....

BREAD Hear, hear!... The Cat is right!...

THE CAT Listen to me!... All of us here present, Animals, Things and Elements, possess a soul which man does not yet know. That is why we retain a remnant of independence; but, if he finds the Blue Bird, he will know all, he will see all and we shall be completely at his mercy.... This is what I have just learned from my old friend, Night, who is also the guardian of the mysteries of Life.... It is to our interest, therefore, at all costs to prevent the finding of that bird, even if we have to go so far as to endanger the lives of the children themselves....

THE DOG (indignantly) What's the fellow saying?... Just say that again, will you, to see if I heard right?...

BREAD Order! Order!... It's not your turn to speak!... I'm in the chair at this meeting....

FIRE Who made you chairman?...

WATER (to FIRE) Hold your tongue!... What are you interfering with?...

FIRE I shall interfere where I choose.... And I want none of your remarks....

SUGAR (concilatorily) Excuse me.... Do not let us quarrel.... This is a serious moment.... We must, above all things, decide what measures to adopt....

BREAD I quite agree with Sugar and the Cat....

THE DOG This is ridiculous!... There is Man and that's all!... We have to obey him and do as he tells us!... That is the one and only fact!... I recognise no one but him!... Hurrah for Man!... Man for ever!... In life or death, all for Man!... Man is God!...

BREAD I quite agree with the Dog.

THE CAT (to the DOG) But at least give your reasons....

THE DOG There are no reasons!... I love Man and that's enough!... If you do anything against him, I will throttle you first and I will go and tell him everything....

SUGAR (intervening sweetly) Excuse me.... Let us not embitter the discussion.... From a certain point of view, you are both of you right.... There is something to be said on both sides....

BREAD I quite agree with SUGAR!...

THE CAT Are we not, all of us, Water, Fire you yourselves, Bread and the Dog, the victims of a nameless tyranny?... Do you remember the time when, before the coming of the despot, we wandered at liberty upon the face of the earth?... Fire and Water were the sole masters of the world; and see what they have come to!... As for us puny descendants of the great wild animals.... Look out!... Pretend to be doing nothing!... I see the Fairy and Light coming.... Light has taken sides with Man; she is our worst enemy.... Here they are....

Enter, on the right, the FAIRY, in the shape of an old woman, and LIGHT, followed by TYLTYL and MYTYL.

THE FAIRY Well?... What is it?... What are you doing in that corner?... You look like conspirators.... It is time to start.... I have decided that Light shall be your leader.... You will obey her as you would me and I am giving her my wand.... The children will pay a visit to their late grandparents this evening.... You will remain behind; that is more discreet.... They will spend the evening in the bosom of their dead family.... Meanwhile, you will be getting ready all that is wanted for to-morrow's journey, which will be a long one.... Come, up, be off and every one to his post!...

THE CAT (hypocritically) That is just what I was saying to them, madam.... I was encouraging them to do their duty bravely and conscientiously; unfortunately, the Dog, who kept on interrupting me....

THE DOG What's that?... Just wait a bit I...

(He is about to leap upon the CAT, but TYLTYL foreseeing his intention, stops with a threatening gesture.)

TYLTYL Down, Tylo!... Take care; and, if ever I catch you again...

THE DOG My little god, you don't know, it was he who...

TYLTYL (threatening him) Be quiet!...

THE FAIRY Come, that will do.... Let Bread hand the cage for this evening to Tyltyl.... It is just possible that the Blue Bird may be hidden In the Past, at the grandparents'.... In any case, it Is a chance which we must not neglect.... Well, Bread, the cage?

BREAD (solemnly) One moment, if you please, Mrs. Fairy.... (Like an orator making a speech) I call upon all of you to bear witness that this silver cage, which was entrusted to my care by....

THE FAIRY (interrupting him) Enough!... No speeches!... We will go out this way and the children that....

TYLTYL (rather anxiously) Are we to go all alone?...

MYTYL I feel hungry!...

TYLTYL I, too!...

THE FAIRY (to BREAD) Open your Turkish robe and give them a slice of your good stomach....

(BREAD opens his robe, draws his scimitar and cuts two slices out of his stomach and hands them to the CHILDREN.)

SUGAR (approaching the CHILDREN) Allow me at the same time to offer you a few sugar-sticks.... (He breaks off the five fingers of his left hand, one by one, and presents them to the CHILDREN.)

MYTYL What is he doing?... He is breaking all his fingers!...

SUGAR (engagingly) Taste them, they are capital... They're made of real barley-sugar....

MYTYL (tasting one of the fingers) Oh, how good they are!... Have you many of them?...

SUGAR (modestly) Yes; as many as I want....

MYTYL Does that hurt you much, when you break them off?...

SUGAR Not at all.... On the contrary, it's a great advantage; they grow again at once and so I always have new, clean fingers....

THE FAIRY Come, children, don't eat too much sugar.... Don't forget that you are to have supper presently with your grandpapa and grandmamma....

TYLTYL Are they here?...

THE FAIRY You shall see them at once....

TYLTYL How can we see them, when they are dead?...

THE FAIRY How can they be dead, when they live in your memory?... Men do not know this secret, because they know so little; whereas you, thanks to the diamond, are about to see that the dead who are remembered live as happily as though they were not dead....

TYLTYL Is Light coming with us?

THE FAIRY No, it is more proper that this visit should be confined to the family.... I will wait near here, so as not to appear indiscreet.... They did not invite me....

TYLTYL Which way are we to go?...

THE FAIRY Over there.... You are on the threshold of the Land of Memory.... As soon as you have turned the diamond, you will see a big tree with a board on it, which will show you that you are there.... But don't forget that you are to be back, both of you, by a quarter to nine.... It is extremely important.... Now mind and be punctual, for all would be lost if you were late.... Good-bye for the present!... (Calling the CAT, the DOG, LIGHT, etc.) This way.... And the little ones that way....

(She goes out to the right, with LIGHT, the ANIMALS, etc., while the CHILDREN go out to the left.)

CURTAIN



SCENE 2.—The Land of Memory.

A thick fog, from which stands out, on the right, close to the footlights, the trunk of a large oak, with a board nailed to it. A vague, milky, impenetrable light prevails. TYLTYL and MYTYL are at the foot of the oak.

TYLTYL Here Is the tree!...

MYTYL There's the board!...

TYLTYL I can't read it.... Wait, I will climb up on this root.... That's it.... It says, "Land of Memory."

MYTYL Is this where it begins?...

TYLTYL Yes, there's an arrow....

MYTYL Well, where are grandad and granny?...

TYLTYL Behind the fog.... We shall see....

MYTYL I can see nothing at all!... I can't see my feet or my hands.... (Whimpering) I'm cold!... I don't want to travel any more.... I want to go home....

TYLTYL Come, don't keep on crying, just like Water.... You ought to be ashamed of yourself.... A great big little girl like you.... Look, the fog is lifting already.... We shall see what's behind it....

(The mist begins to move; It grows thinner and lighter, disperses, evaporates. Soon, in a more and more transparent light, appears, under a leafy vault, a cheerful little peasant's cottage, covered with creepers. The door and windows are open. There are bee-hives under a shed, flower-pots on the window-sills, a cage with a sleeping blackbird. Beside the door is a bench, on which an old peasant and his wife, TYLTYL'S grandfather and grandmother, are seated, both sound asleep.)

TYLTYL (suddenly recognising them) It's grandad and granny!...

MYTYL (clapping her hands) Yes! Yes!... So it is! So it is!...

TYLTYL (still a little distrustful) Take care!... We don't know yet if they can stir.... Let's keep behind the tree....

(GRANNY TYL opens her eyes, raises her head, stretches herself, gives a sigh and looks at GAFFER TYL, who also wakes slowly from his sleep.)

GRANNY TYL I have a notion that our grandchildren who are still alive are coming to see us today....

GAFFER TYL They are certainly thinking of as, for I feel anyhow and I have pins and needles in my legs....

GRANNY TYL I think they must be quite near, for I see tears of joy dancing before my eyes....

GAFFER TYL No, no, they are a long way off.... I still feel weak....

GRANNY TYL I tell you they are here; I am quite strong....

TYLTYL and MYTYL (rushing up from behind the oak) Here we are!... Here we are!... Gaffer! Granny!... It's we!... It's we!...

GAFFER TYL There!... You see?... What did I tell you?... I was sure they would come to-day....

GRANNY TYL Tyltyl!... Mytyl!... It's you!... It's she!... (Trying to run to meet them) I can't run!... I've still got the rheumatics!...

GAFFER TYL (hobbling along as fast as he can) No more can I.... That's because of my wooden leg, which I still wear instead of the one I broke when I fell off the big oak....

(The GRANDPARENTS and the CHILDREN exchange frantic embraces.)

GRANNY TYL How tall and strong you've grown, Tyltyl!

GAFFER TYL (stroking MYTYL'S hair) And Mytyl!... Just look at her.... What pretty hair, what pretty eyes!...

GRANNY TYL Come and kiss me again!... Come on to my lap....

GAFFER TYL And what about me?...

GRANNY TYL No, no.... Come to me first.... How are Daddy and Mummy Tyl?...

TYLTYL Quite well, granny.... They were asleep when we went out....

GRANNY TYL (gazing at them and covering them with caresses) Lord, how pretty they are and how nice and clean!... Was it mummy who washed you?... And there are no holes in your stockings!... I used to darn them once, you know.... Why don't you come to see us oftener?... It makes us so happy!... It is months and months now that you've forgotten us and that we have seen nobody....

TYLTYL We couldn't, granny; and to-day its only because of the Fairy....

GRANNY TYL We are always here, waiting for a visit from those who are alive.... They come so seldom!... The last time you were here, let me see, when was it?... It was on All-hallows, when the church-bells were ringing....

TYLTYL All-hallows?... We didn't go out that day, for we both had very bad colds....

GRANNY TYL No; but you thought of us....

TYLTYL Yes....

GRANNY TYL Well, every time you think of us, we wake up and see you again....

TYLTYL What, is it enough to...

GRANNY TYL But come, you know that....

TYLTYL No, I didn't know....

GRANNY TYL (to GAFFER TYL) It's astonishing, up there.... They don't know yet.... Do they never learn anything?...

GAFFER TYL It's as in our own time.... The Living are so stupid when they speak of the Others....

TYLTYL Do you sleep all the time?...

GAFFER TYL Yes, we get plenty of sleep, while waiting for a thought of the Living to come and wake us.... Ah, it is good to sleep when life is done.... But it is pleasant also to wake up from time to time....

TYLTYL So you are not really dead?...

GAFFER TYL What do you say?... What is he saying?... Now he's using words we don't understand.... Is it a new word, a new invention?...

TYLTYL The word "dead"?...

GAFFER TYL Yes, that was the word.... What does it mean?...

TYLTYL Why, it means that one's no longer alive....

GAFFER TYL How silly they are, up there!...

TYLTYL Is it nice here?...

GAFFER TYL Oh, yes; not bad, not bad; and, if one could just have a smoke....

TYLTYL Aren't you allowed to smoke?...

GAFFER TYL Yes, it's allowed; but I've broken my pipe....

GRANNY TYL Yes, yes, all would be well, if only you would come and see us oftener.... Do you remember, Tyltyl?... The last time I baked you a lovely apple-tart.... You ate such a lot of it that you made yourself ill....

TYLTYL But I haven't eaten any apple-tart since last year.... There were no apples this year....

GRANNY TYL Don't talk nonsense.... Here, we have them always....

TYLTYL That's different....

GRANNY TYL What? That's different?... Why, nothing's different when we're able to kiss each other....

TYLTYL (looking first at his GRANDMOTHER and then at his GRANDFATHER) You haven't changed, grandad, not a bit, not a bit.... And granny hasn't changed a bit either.... But you're better-looking....

GAFFER TYL Well, we feel all right.... We have stopped growing older.... But you, how tall you're growing!... Yes, you're shooting up finely.... Look, over there, on the door, is the mark of the last time.... That was on All-hallows.... Now then, stand up straight.... (TYLTYL stands up against the door.) Four fingers taller!... That's immense!... (MYTYL also stands up against the door.) And Mytyl, four and a half!... Aha, ill weeds grow apace!... How they've grown, oh, how they've grown!...

TYLTYL (looking around him with delight) Nothing is changed, everything is in its old place!... Only everything is prettier!... There is the clock with the big hand which I broke the point off....

GAFFER TYL And here is the soup-tureen you chipped a corner off....

TYLTYL And here is the hole which I made in the door, the day I found the gimlet....

GAFFER TYL Yes, you've done some damage in your time!... And here is the plum-tree in which you were so fond of climbing, when I wasn't looking.... It still has its fine red plums....

TYLTYL But they are finer than ever!...

MYTYL And here is the old blackbird!... Does he still sing?...

(The blackbird wakes and begins to sing at the top of his voice.)

GRANNY TYL You see.... As soon as one thinks of him....

TYLTYL (observing with amazement that the blackbird is quite blue) But he's blue!... Why, that's the bird, the Blue Bird which I am to take back to the Fairy.... And you never told us that you had him here!... Oh, he's blue, blue, blue as a blue glass marble!... (Entreatingly) Grandad, granny, will you give him to me?...

GAFFER TYL Yes, perhaps, perhaps.... What do you think, granny?...

GRANNY TYL Certainly, certainly.... What use is he to us?... He does nothing but sleep.... We never hear him sing....

TYLTYL I will put him in my cage.... I say, where is my cage?... Oh, I know, I left it behind the big tree.... (He runs to the tree, fetches the cage and puts the blackbird into it.) So, really, you've really given him to me?... How pleased the Fairy will be!... And Light too!...

GAFFER TYL Mind you, I won't answer for the bird.... I'm afraid that he will never get used again to the restless life up there and that he'll come back here by the first wind that blows this way.... However, we shall see.... Leave him there, for the present, and come and look at the cow....

TYLTYL (noticing the hives) And how are the bees getting on?

GAFFER TYL Oh, pretty well.... They are no longer alive, as you call it up there; but they work hard....

TYLTYL (going up to the hives) Oh, yes!... I can smell the honey!... How heavy the hives must be!... All the flowers are so beautiful!... And my little dead sisters, are they here too?...

MYTYL And where are my three little brothers who were buried?...

(At these words, seven little CHILDREN, of different sizes, like a set of Pan's pipes, come out of the cottage, one by one.)

GRANNY TYL Here they are, here they are!... As soon as you think of them, as soon as you speak of them, they are there, the darlings!...

(TYLTYL and MYTYL run to meet the CHILDREN. They hustle and hug one another and dance and whirl about and utter screams of joy.)

TYLTYL Hullo, Pierrot!... (They clutch each other by the hair.) Ah, so we're going to fight again, as in the old days.... And Robert!... I say, Jean, what's become of your top?... Madeleine and Pierette and Pauline!... And here's Riquette!...

MYTYL Oh, Riquette, Riquette!... She's still crawling on all fours!...

GRANNY TYL Yes, she has stopped growing.

TYLTYL (noticing the little DOG yelping around them) There's Kiki, whose tail I cut off with Pauline's scissors.... He hasn't changed either....

GAFFER TYL (sententiously) No, nothing changes here....

TYLTYL And Pauline still has a pimple on her nose....

GRANNY TYL Yes, it won't go away; there's nothing to be done for it....

TYLTYL Oh, how well they look, how fat and glossy they are!... What jolly cheeks they have!... They look well fed....

GRANNY TYL They have been much better since they ceased living.... There's nothing more to fear, nobody is ever ill, one has no anxiety....

(The clock inside the cottage strikes eight.)

GRANNY TYL (amazed) What's that?...

GAFFER TYL I don't know, I'm sure.... It must be the clock....

GRANNY TYL It can't be.... It never strikes....

GAFFER TYL Because we no longer think of the time.... Was any one thinking of the time?...

TYLTYL Yes, I was.... What is the time?...

GAFFER TYL I'm sure I can't tell.... I've forgotten how.... It struck eight times, so I suppose it's what they call eight o'clock up there....

TYLTYL Light expects me at a quarter to nine.... It's because of the Fairy.... It's extremely important.... I'm off!...

GRANNY TYL Don't leave us like that, just as supper's ready!... Quick, quick, let's lay the table outside.... I've got some capital cabbage-soup and a beautiful plum-tart....

(They get out the table, dishes, plates, etc., and lay for supper outside the door, all helping.)

TYLTYL Well, as I've got the Blue Bird.... And then it's so long since I tasted cabbage-soup.... Ever since I've been, travelling.... They don't have it at the hotels....

GRANNY TYL There!... That didn't take long!... Sit down, children.... Don't let us lose time, if you're in a hurry....

(They have lit the lamp and served the soup. The GRANDPARENTS and the CHILDREN sit down round the table, jostling and elbowing one another and laughing and screaming with pleasure.)

TYLTYL (eating like a glutton) How good it is!... Oh, how good it is!...I want some more! More!...

(He brandishes his wooden spoon and noisily hits his plate with it.)

GAFFER TYL Come, come, a little more quiet.... You're just as ill-behaved as ever; and you'll break your plate....

TYLTYL (half-raising himself on his stool) I want more, more!... (He seizes the tureen, drags it toward him and upsets it and the soup, which trickles over the table and down over their knees and scalds them. Yells and screams of pain.)

GRANNY TYL There!... I told you so!...

GAFFER TYL (giving TYLTYL a loud box on the ear) That's one for you!...

TYLTYL (staggered for a moment, next puts his hand to his cheek with an expression of rapture) Oh, that's just like the slaps you used to give me when you were alive?... Grandad, how nice it was and how good it makes one feel!... I must give you a kiss!...

GAFFER TYL Very well; there's more where that came from, if you like them....

(The clock strikes half-past eight)

TYLTYL (starting up) Half-past eight!... (He flings down his spoon.) Mytyl, we've only just got time!...

GRANNY TYL Oh, I say!... Just a few minutes more!... Your house isn't on fire!... We see you so seldom....

TYLTYL No, we can't possibly.... Light is so kind.... And I promised her.... Come, Mytyl, come!...

GAFFER TYL Goodness gracious, how tiresome the Living are with all their business and excitement!...

TYLTYL (taking his cage and hurriedly kissing everybody all round) Good-bye, grandad.... Good-bye, granny.... Good-bye, brothers and sisters, Pierrot, Robert, Pauline, Madeleine, Riquette and you, too, Kiki.... I feel we mustn't stay.... Don't cry, granny; we will come back often....

GRANNY TYL Come back every day!...

TYLTYL Yes, yes; we will come back as often as we can....

GRANNY TYL It's our only pleasure and it's such a treat for us when your thoughts visit us!...

GAFFER TYL We have no other amusements....

TYLTYL Quick, quick!... My cage!... My bird!...

GAFFER TYL (handing him the cage) Here they are!... You know, I don't warrant him; and if he's not the right colour...

TYLTYL Good-bye! Good-bye!...

THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS TYL Good-bye, Tyltyl! Good-bye, Mytyl!... Remember the barley-sugar!... Good-bye!... Come again!... Come again!...

(They all wave their handkerchiefs while TYLTYL and MYTYL slowly move away. But already, during the last sentences, the fog of the beginning of the scene has been gradually re-forming, so that, at the end, all has disappeared in the mist and, at the fall of the curtain, TYLTYL and MYTYL are again alone visible under the big oak.)

TYLTYL It's this way, Mytyl....

MYTYL Where is Light?...

TYLTYL I don't know.... (Looking at the bird in the cage.) But the bird is no longer blue!... He has turned black!...

MYTYL Give me your hand, little brother.... I feel so frightened and so cold....

CURTAIN



ACT III.

SCENE 1.—The Palace of NIGHT.

A large and wonderful hall of an austere, rigid, metallic and sepulchral magnificence, giving the impression of a Greek temple with columns, architraves, flagstones and ornaments of black marble, gold and ebony. The hall is trapezium-shaped. Basalt steps, occupying almost the entire width, divide it into three successive stages, which rise gradually toward the back. On the right and left, between the columns, are doors of sombre bronze. At the back, a monumental door of brass. The palace is lit only by a vague light that seems to emanate mainly from the brilliancy of the marble and the ebony. At the rise of the curtain, NIGHT, in the form of a very old woman, clad in long, black garments, is seated on the steps of the second stage between two children, of whom one, almost naked, like Cupid, is smiling in a deep sleep, while the other is standing up, motionless and veiled from head to foot.

Enter from the right, in the foreground, the CAT

NIGHT Who goes there?

THE CAT (sinking heavily upon the marble steps) It is I, Mother Night.... I am worn out....

NIGHT What's the matter, child?... You look pale and thin and you are splashed with mud to your very whiskers.... Have you been fighting on the tiles again, in the snow and rain?...

THE CAT It has nothing to do with the tiles!... It's our secret that's at stake!... It's the beginning of the end!... I have managed to escape for a moment to warn you; but I greatly fear that there is nothing to be done....

NIGHT Why?... What has happened?...

THE CAT I have told you of little Tyltyl, the woodcutter's son, and of the magic diamond.... Well, he is coming here to demand the Blue Bird of you....

NIGHT He hasn't got it yet.....

THE CAT He will have it soon, unless we perform some miracle.... This is how the matter stands: Light, who is guiding him and betraying us all, for she has placed herself entirely on Man's side, Light has learned that the Blue Bird, the real one, the only one that can live in the light of day, is hidden here, among the blue birds of the dreams that live on the rays of the moon and die as soon as they set eyes on the sun.... She knows that she is forbidden to cross the threshold of your palace, but she is sending the children; and, as you cannot prevent Man from opening the doors of your secrets, I do not know how all this will end.... In any case, if, unfortunately, they should lay their hands on the real Blue Bird, there would be nothing for us but to disappear....

NIGHT Oh dear, oh dear!.... What times we live in!... I never have a moment's peace.... I cannot understand Man, these last few years.... What is he aiming at?... Must he absolutely know everything?... Already he has captured a third of my Mysteries, all my Terrors are afraid and dare not leave the house, my Ghosts have taken flight, the greater part of my Sicknesses are ill....

THE CAT I know, Mother Night, I know, the times are hard and we are almost alone in our struggle against Man.... But I hear them coming.... I see only one way: as they are children, we must give them such a fright that they will not dare to persist or to open the great door at the back, behind which they would find the Birds of the Moon.... The secrets of the other caverns will be enough to distract their attention and terrify them....

NIGHT (listening to a sound outside) What do I hear?... Are there many of them?...

THE CAT It is nothing; it is our friends, Bread and Sugar; Water is not very well and Fire could not come, because he is related to Light.... The Dog is the only one who is not on our side; but it is never possible to keep him away....

(Enter timidly, on the right, in the foreground, TYLTYL, MYTYL, BREAD, SUGAR and the DOG.)

THE CAT (rushing up to TYLTYL) This way, little master, this way.... I have told Night, who is delighted to see you.... You must forgive her, she is a little indisposed; that is why she was not able to come to meet you....

TYLTYL Good-day, Mrs. Night....

NIGHT (in an offended voice) Good-day?... I am not used to that.... You might say, Good-night, or, at least. Good-evening....

TYLTYL (mortified) I beg your pardon, ma'am....I did not know....(Pointing to the two CHILDREN.) Are those your two little boys?... They are very nice....

NIGHT This is Sleep....

TYLTYL Why is he so fat?...

NIGHT That is because he sleeps well....

TYLTYL And the other, hiding himself?... Why does he veil his face?...Is he ill?... What is his name?...

NIGHT That is Sleep's sister.... It is better not to mention her name....

TYLTYL Why?...

NIGHT Because her name is not pleasant to hear.... But let us talk of something else.... The Cat tells me that you have come here to look for the Blue Bird....

TYLTYL Yes, ma'am, if you will allow me.... Will you tell me where he is?...

NIGHT I don't know, dear.... All I can say is that he is not here.... I have never seen him....

TYLTYL Yes, yes.... Light told me that he was here; and Light knows what she is saying.... Will you hand me your keys?...

NIGHT But you must understand, dear, that I cannot give my keys like that to the first comer.... I have the keeping of all Nature's secrets and I am absolutely forbidden to deliver them to anybody, especially to a child....

TYLTYL You have no right to refuse them to Man when he asks you for them....I know that....

NIGHT Who told you?...

TYLTYL Light....

NIGHT Light again! Always Light!... How dare she interfere, how dare she?...

THE DOG Shall I take them from her by force, my little god?...

TYLTYL Hold your tongue, keep quiet and try to behave.... (ToNIGHT) Come, madam, give me your keys, please....

NIGHT Have you the sign, at least?... Where is it?...

TYLTYL (touching his hat) Behold the Diamond!...

NIGHT (resigning herself to the inevitable) Well, then... Here is the key that opens all the doors of the hall.... Look to yourself if you meet with a misfortune.... I will not be responsible....

BREAD (very anxiously) Is it dangerous?...

NIGHT Dangerous?... I will go so far as to say that I myself do not know what I shall do when certain of those bronze doors open upon the abyss.... All around the hall, in each of those basalt caves, are all the evils, all the plagues, all the sicknesses, all the terrors, all the catastrophes, all the mysteries that have afflicted life since the beginning of the world.... I have had trouble enough to Imprison them there with the aid of Destiny; and it is not without difficulty, I assure you, that I keep some little order among those undisciplined characters.... You have seen what happens when one of them escapes and shows itself on earth....

BREAD My great age, my experience and my devotion make me the natural protector of these two children; therefore, Mrs. Night, permit me to ask you a question....

NIGHT Certainly....

BREAD In case of danger, which is the way of escape?...

NIGHT There is no way of escape.

TYLTYL (taking the key and climbing the first steps) Let us begin here.... What is behind this bronze door?...

NIGHT I think it is the Ghosts.... It is long since I opened the door and since they came out....

TYLTYL (placing the key in the lock) I will see.... (To BREAD) Have you the cage for the Blue Bird?...

BREAD (with chattering teeth) I'm not frightened, but don't you think it would be better not to open the door, but to peep through the keyhole?...

TYLTYL I don't want your advice....

MYTYL (suddenly beginning to cry) I am frightened!... Where is Sugar?... I want to go home!...

SUGAR (eagerly, obsequiously) Here I am, miss, here I am.... Don't cry, I will break off one of my fingers so that you may have a sugar-stick....

TYLTYL Enough of this!...

(He turns the key and cautiously opens the door. Forthwith, five or six GHOSTS of strange and different forms escape and disperse on every side. MYTYL gives a scream of fright, BREAD, terrified, throws away the cage and goes and hides at the back of the hall, while NIGHT, running after the GHOSTS, cries out to TYLTYL.)

NIGHT Quick! Quick!... Shut the door!... They will all escape and we should never be able to catch them again!... They have felt bored in there, ever since Man ceased to take them seriously.... (She runs after the GHOSTS and endeavours, with the aid of a whip formed of snakes, to drive them back to the door of their prison.) Help me!... Here!... Here!...

TYLTYL (to the DOG) Help her, Tylo, at them!...

THE DOG (leaping up and barking) Yes, yes, yes!...

TYLTYL And Bread, where's Bread?...

BREAD (at the back of the hall) Here.... I am near the door to prevent them from going out....

(One of the GHOSTS moves in that direction and he rushes away at full speed, uttering yells of terror.)

NIGHT (to three GHOSTS whom she has seized by the neck) This way, you!... (To TYLTYL) Open the door a little.... (She pushes the GHOSTS into the cave.) There, that's it.... (The DOG brings up two more.) And these two.... Come, quick, in with you!... You know you're only allowed out on All-hallows....

(She closes the door.)

TYLTYL (going to another door) What's behind this one?....

NIGHT What is the good?...I have already told you the Blue Bird has never been here.... However, as you please.... Open the doors if you like.... It's the Sicknesses....

TYLTYL (with the key in the lock.) Must I be careful in opening?...

NIGHT No, it is not worth while.... They are very quiet, the poor little things.... They are not happy.... Man, for some time, has been waging such a determined war upon them!... Especially since the discovery of the microbes.... Open, you will see....

(TYLTYL opens the door quite wide. Nothing appears.)

TYLTYL Don't they come out?

NIGHT I told you they are almost all poorly and very much discouraged.... The doctors are so unkind to them.... Go in for a moment and see for yourself....

(TYLTYL enters the cavern and comes out again immediately.)

TYLTYL The Blue Bird is not there.... They look very ill, those Sicknesses of yours.... They did not even lift their heads.... (One little Sickness in slippers, a dressing-gown and a cotton nightcap escapes from the cavern and begins to frisk about the hall.) Look!... There's a little one escaping.... Which one is it?...

NIGHT It's nothing, one of the smallest; it's Cold-in-the-Head.... It is one of those which are least persecuted and which enjoy the best health.... (Calling to COLD-IN-THE-HEAD) Come here, dear....It's too soon yet; you must wait for the winter.... (COLD-IN-THE-HEAD, sneezing, coughing and blowing its nose, returns to the cavern and TYLTYL shuts the door.)

TYLTYL (going to the next door) Let us look at this one..... What is in here?...

NIGHT Take care!... It is the Wars.... They are more terrible and powerful than ever.... Heaven knows what would happen if one of them escaped!... Fortunately, they are rather heavy and slow-moving.... But we must stand ready to push back the door, all of us together, while you take a rapid glance into the cavern....

(TYLTYL, with a thousand precautions, opens the door ajar so that there is only a little gap to which he can put his eye. He at once doubles his back against the door, shouting.)

TYLTYL Quick! Quick!... Push with all your might!... They have seen me!... They are all coming!... They are breaking down the door!...

NIGHT Come, all together!... Push hard!... Bread, what are you doing?... Push, all of you!... How strong they are!... Ah, that's it!... They are giving way!... It was high time!... Did you see them?...

TYLTYL Yes, yes!... They are huge and awful!... I don't think that they have the Blue Bird....

NIGHT You may be sure they haven't.... If they had, they would eat him at once.... Well, have you had enough of it?... You see there is nothing to be done....

TYLTYL I must see everything.... Light said so....

NIGHT Light said so!... It's an easy thing to say when one's afraid and stays at home....

TYLTYL Let us go to the next.... What is in here?...

NIGHT This is where I lock up the Shades and the Terrors....

TYLTYL Can I open the door?...

NIGHT Certainly.... They are pretty quiet; they are like the Sicknesses....

TYLTYL (half-opening the door, with a certain mistrustfulness, and taking a look into the cavern) Are they not there?...

NIGHT (looking into the cavern in her turn) Well, Shades, what are you doing?... Come out for a moment and stretch your legs; it will do you good.... And the Terrors also.... There is nothing to be afraid of.... (A few SHADES and a few TERRORS, in the shape of women, shrouded, the former in black veils and the latter in greenish veils, piteously venture to take a few steps outside the cavern; and then, upon a movement of TYLTYL'S, hastily run back again.) Come, don't be afraid.... It's only a child; he won't hurt you.... (To TYLTYL) They have become extremely timid, except the great ones, those whom you see at the back....

TYLTYL (looking into the depths of the cave) Oh, how terrifying they are!...

NIGHT They are chained up.... They are the only ones that are not afraid of Man.... But shut the door, lest they should grow angry....

TYLTYL (going to the next door) I say!... This is a darker one.... What is here?

NIGHT There are several Mysteries behind this one.... If you are absolutely bent upon it, you may open it too.... But don't go in.... Be very cautious and let us get ready to push back the door, as we did with the Wars....

TYLTYL (half-opening the door; with unparalleled precautions and passing his head fearsomely through the aperture) Oh!... How cold!... My eyes are smarting!... Shut it quickly!... Push, oh, push! They are pushing against us!... (NIGHT, the DOG, the CAT and SUGAR push back the door.) Oh, I saw!...

NIGHT What?...

TYLTYL (upset) I don't know, it was awful!... They were all seated like monsters without eyes.... Who was the giant who tried to seize me?...

NIGHT It was probably Silence; he has charge of this door.... It appears to have been alarming?... You are quite pale still and trembling all over....

TYLTYL Yes, I would never have believed.... I had never seen.... And my hands are frozen....

NIGHT It will be worse presently if you go on....

TYLTYL (going to the next door) And this one?... Is this terrible also?...

NIGHT No; there is a little of everything here.... It is where I keep the unemployed Stars, my personal Perfumes, a few Glimmers that belong to me, such as Will-o'-the-Wisps, Glow-worms and Fireflies, also the Dew, the Song of the Nightingales and so on....

TYLTYL Just so, the Stars, the Song of the Nightingales.... This must be the door....

NIGHT Open it, if you like; there Is nothing very bad inside....

(TYLTYL throws the door wide open. The STARS, in the shape of beautiful young girls veiled in many-coloured radiancy, escape from their prison, disperse over the hall and form graceful groups on the steps and around the columns, bathed in a sort of luminous penumbra. The PERFUMES OF THE NIGHT, who are almost invisible, the WILL-O'-THE-WISPS, the FIREFLIES and the transparent DEW join them, while the SONG OF THE NIGHTINGALES streams from the cavern and floods the Palace of NIGHT.)

MYTYL (clapping her hands with delight) Oh, what pretty ladies!...

TYLTYL And how well they dance!...

MYTYL And how sweet they smell!...

TYLTYL And how beautifully they sing!...

MYTYL What are those, whom one can hardly see?...

NIGHT Those are the Perfumes of my Shadow.

TYLTYL And those others, over there, in spun glass?...

NIGHT They are the Dew of the plains and forests.... But enough!... They would never have done.... It is the devil's own business to get them back, once they begin to dance.... (Clapping her hands together.) Now then, Stars, quick!... This is not the time for dancing.... The sky is overcast and heavily clouded.... Come, quick, in with you, or I will go and fetch a ray of sunlight!... (The STARS, PERFUMES, etc., take to flight in dismay and rush back into the cavern; and the door is closed upon them. At the same time, the song of the NIGHTINGALE ceases.)

TYLTYL (going to the door at the back) Here is the great middle door....

NIGHT (gravely) Do not open that one...

TYLTYL Why not?....

NIGHT Because it's not allowed....

TYLTYL Then it's here that the Blue Bird is hidden; Light told me so....

NIGHT (maternally) Listen to me, child ... I have been kind and indulgent ... I have done for you what I have never done for any one before ... I have given up all my secrets to you.... I like you, I feel pity for your youth and innocence and I am speaking to you as a mother.... Listen to me, my child, and believe me; relinquish your quest, go no further, do not tempt fate, do not open that door....

TYLTYL (a little shaken) But why?...

NIGHT Because I do not wish you to be lost.... Because not one of those, do you hear, not one of those who have opened it, were it but by a hair's breadth, has ever returned alive to the light of day.... Because every awful thing imaginable, because all the terrors, all the horrors of which men speak on earth are as nothing compared with the most harmless of those which assail a man from the moment when his eye lights upon the first threats of the abyss to which no one dares give a name.... So much so that I myself, if you are bent, in spite of everything, upon touching that door, will ask you to wait until I have sought safety in my windowless tower... Now it is for you to know, for you to reflect....

(MYTYL, all in tears, utters cries of inarticulate terror and tries to drag TYLTYL away.)

BREAD (with chattering teeth) Don't do it, master dear!... (Flinging himself on his knees) Take pity on us!... I implore you on my knees.... You see that Night is right....

THE CAT You are sacrificing the lives of all of us....

TYLTYL I must open the door....

MYTYL (stamping her feet, amid her sobs) I won't!... I sha'n't!...

TYLTYL Sugar and Bread, take Mytyl by the hand and run away with her.... I am going to open the door....

NIGHT Run for your lives!... Come quickly!... It is time!... (She flees.)

BREAD (fleeing wildly) At least wait till we are at the end of the hall!...

THE CAT (also fleeing) Wait! Wait!...

(They hide behind the columns at the other end of the hall. TYLTYL remains alone with the DOG by the monumental door.)

THE DOG (panting and hiccoughing with suppressed fright) I shall stay, I shall stay!... I'm not afraid!... I shall stay!... I shall stay with my little god!... I shall stay!... I shall stay!...

TYLTYL (patting the DOG) That's right, Tylo, that's right!... Kiss me.... You and I are two.... And now, steady!...

(He places the key in the lock. A cry of alarm comes from the other end of the hall, where the runaways have taken refuge. The key has hardly touched the door before its tall and wide leaves open in the middle, glide apart and disappear on either side in the thickness of the walls, suddenly revealing the most unexpected of gardens, unreal, infinite and ineffable, a dream-garden bathed in nocturnal light, where, among stars and planets, illumining all that they touch, flying ceaselessly from jewel to jewel and from moonbeam to moonbeam, fairy-like blue birds hover perpetually and harmoniously down to the confines of the horizon, birds innumerable to the point of appearing to be the breath, the azured atmosphere, the very substance of the wonderful garden.)

TYLTYL (dazzled, bewildered, standing in the light of the garden) Oh!... Heaven!... (Turning to those who have fled) Come quickly!... They are here!... It's they, it's they, it's they!... We have them at last!... Thousands of blue birds!... Millions!.... Thousands of millions!... There will be too many!... Come, Mytyl!... Come, Tylo!... Come, all!... Help me!... (Darting in among the birds.) You can catch them by handfuls!... They are not shy!... They are not afraid of us!.... Here! Here!.... (MYTYL and the others run up. They all enter the dazzling garden, except NIGHT and the CAT.) You see!... There are too many of them!... They fly into my hands!... Look, they are eating the moonbeams!... Mytyl, where are you?.... There are so many blue wings, so many feathers falling that one cannot see anything for them!.... Don't bite them, Tylo!.... Don't hurt them!.... Take them very gently!....

MYTYL (covered with blue birds) I have caught seven already!.... Oh, how they flap their wings!.... I can't hold them!....

TYLTYL Nor can I!.... I have too many of them!... They're escaping!.... They're coming back!.... Tylo has some, too!.... They will drag us with them!.... They will take us up to the sky!.... Quick, let us go out this way!.... Light is waiting for us!.... How pleased she will be!.... This way, this way!....

(They escape from the garden, with their hands full of struggling birds, and, crossing the whole hall amid the mad whirl of the azure wings, go out on the right, where they first entered, followed by BREAD and SUGAR, who have caught no birds. NIGHT and the CAT, left alone, return to the back of the stage and look anxiously into the garden.)

NIGHT Haven't they got him?...

THE CAT No.... I see him there, on that moonbeam.... They could not reach him, he kept too high....

(The CURTAIN falls. Immediately after, before the dropped curtain, ENTER, at the same time, on the left, LIGHT and on the right, TYLTYL, MYTYL and the DOG, who run up all covered by the birds which they have captured. But already the birds appear lifeless and, with hanging heads and drooping wings, are nothing more in their hands than inert remains.)

LIGHT Well, have you caught him?...

TYLTYL Yes, yes!...As many as we wanted!... There are thousands of them!... Here they are!... Do you see them?... (Looking at the birds, which he holds out to LIGHT, and perceiving that they are dead) Why, they are dead!... What have they done to them?... Yours too, Mytyl?... Tylo's also?... (Angrily flinging down the dead bodies of the birds) Oh, this is too bad?... Who killed them?... I am too unhappy!...

(He hides his head in his arms and his whole frame is shaken with sobs.)

LIGHT (pressing him maternally in her arms) Do not cry, my child.... You did not catch the one that is able to live in broad daylight.... He has gone elsewhere.... We shall find him again....

THE DOG (looking at the dead birds)) Are they good to eat?....

(They all go out on the left.)



SCENE 2.—_The Forest.

A forest. It is night. The moon is shining. Old trees of various kinds, notably an_ OAK, _a_ BEECH, _an_ ELM, _a_ POPLAR, _a_ FIR-TREE, _a_ CYPRESS, _a_ LIME-TREE, _a_ CHESTNUT-TREE, _etc_.

ENTER the CAT.

THE CAT (bowing to the trees in turn) To all the trees here present, greeting!....

THE TREES (murmuring in their leaves) Greeting!....

THE CAT This is a great day, a day of days!.... Our enemy is coming to set free your energies and to deliver himself into your hands..... It is Tyltyl, the son of the wood-cutter, who has done you so much harm.... He is seeking the Blue Bird, whom you have kept hidden from Man since the beginning of the world and who alone knows our secret.... (A murmuring in the leaves.) What do you say?... Ah, it's the Poplar!... Yes, he possesses a diamond which has the virtue of setting free our spirits for a moment; he can compel us to hand over the Blue Bird and thenceforth we shall be definitely at Man's mercy.... (A murmuring in the leaves.) Who is speaking?... Ah, the Oak!... How are you?... (A murmuring in the leaves of the OAK.) Still got your cold?... Does the Liquorice no longer look after you?... Can't you throw off your rheumatism?... Believe me, that's because of the moss; you put too much of it on your feet.... Is the Blue Bird still with you?... (A murmuring in the leaves of the OAK.) I beg your pardon?... Yes, there is no room for hesitation; we must take the opportunity; he must he done away with.... (A murmuring in the leaves.) I didn't quite catch.... Oh, yes, he is with his little sister; she must die, too.... (A murmuring in the leaves.) Yes, they have the Dog with them; there is no keeping him away.... (A murmuring in the leaves.) What did you say?... Bribe him?... Impossible.... I have tried everything.... (A murmuring in the leaves.) Ah, is that you, Fir-Tree?... Yes, get four planks ready.... Yes, there are Fire, Sugar, Water and Bread besides.... They are all with us, except Bread, who is rather doubtful.... Light alone is on Man's side; but she won't come.... I made the children believe that they ought to steal away while she was asleep.... There never was such an opportunity.... (A murmuring in the leaves.) Ah, that's the Beech's voice!... Yes, you are right; we must inform the animals.... Has the Rabbit got his drum?... Is he with you?... Good, let him beat the troop at once.... Here they are!...

(The roll of the RABBIT'S drum is heard, diminishing in the distance. Enter TYLTYL, MYTYL and the DOG.)

TYLTYL Is this the place?...

THE CAT (obsequiously, eagerly, mealy-mouthed, rushing to meet the CHILDREN) Ah, there you are, my little master!... How well you look and how pretty, this evening!.... I went before you to announce your arrival.... All Is going well. We shall have the Blue Bird to-night, I am sure.... I have just sent the Rabbit to beat the troop in order to convoke the principal animals of the country.... You can hear them already among the foliage.... Listen!... They are a little shy and dare not come near.... (The sounds are heard of different animals, such as cows, pigs, horses, donkeys, etc. The CAT, aside, to TYLTYL, taking him apart) But why have you brought the Dog?... I have told you he is on the worst terms with everybody, even the trees.... I fear that his odious presence will spoil everything....

TYLTYL I could not get rid of him.... (To the DOG, threatening him) Go away, you ugly thing!...

THE DOG Who?... I?... Why?... What have I done?...

TYLTYL I tell you, go away!... We don't want you here and there's an end of it.... You're a nuisance, there!...

THE DOG I sha'n't say a word.... I shall follow you at a distance.... They sha'n't see me.... Shall I beg?...

THE CAT (aside, to TYLTYL) Do you allow this disobedience?... Hit him on the nose with your stick; he is really unbearable!...

TYLTYL (beating the DOG) There, that will teach you to be more obedient!...

THE DOG (yelling) Ow! Ow! Ow!...

TYLTYL What do you say?...

THE DOG I must kiss you now you've beaten me!... (He covers TYLTYL with violent kisses and embraces.)

TYLTYL Come.... That will do.... That's enough.... Go away!...

MYTYL No, no; I want him to stay.... I am afraid of everything when he is not there....

THE DOG (leaping up and almost upsetting MYTYL, whom he overwhelms with hurried and enthusiastic kisses) Oh, the dear little girl!... How beautiful she is!... How good she is!... How beautiful she is, how sweet she is!...I must kiss her!... Once more, once more, once more!...

THE CAT What an idiot!... Well, we shall see!... Let us lose no time.... Turn the diamond....

TYLTYL Where shall I stand?...

THE CAT In this moonbeam; you will see better.... There, turn it gently!...

(TYLTYL turns the Diamond. A long-drawn-out rustling shakes the leaves and branches. The oldest and most stately trunks open to make way for the soul which each of them contains. The appearance of these souls differs according to the appearance and the character of the trees which they represent. The soul of the ELM, for instance, is a sort of pursy, pot-bellied, crabbed gnome; the LIME-TREE is placid, familiar and jovial; the BEECH, elegant and agile; the BIRCH, white, reserved and restless; the WILLOW, stunted, dishevelled and plaintive; the FIR-TREE, tall, lean and taciturn; the CYPRESS, tragic; the CHESTNUT-TREE, pretentious and rather dandified; the POPLAR, sprightly, cumbersome, talkative. Some emerge slowly from their trunks, torpidly stretching themselves, as though they had been imprisoned or asleep for ages; others leap out actively, eagerly; and all come and stand in a circle round the two CHILDREN, while keeping as near as they can to the tree in which they were born.)

THE POPLAR (running up first and screaming at the top of his voice) Men?... Little men!... We shall be able to talk to them!... We've done with silence!... Done with it!... Where do they come from?... Who are they?... What are they?... (To the LIME-TREE, who comes forward quietly smoking his pipe) Do you know them, Daddy Lime-Tree?...

THE LIME-TREE I do not remember ever having seen them....

THE POPLAR Oh, yes, you must have!... You know all the men; you're always hanging about their houses....

THE LIME-TREE (examining the CHILDREN) No, I assure you.... I don't know them.... They are too young still.... I only know the lovers who come to see me by moonlight and the topers who drink their beer under my branches....

THE CHESTNUT-TREE (affectedly adjusting his eyeglass) Who are these?... Are they poor people from the country?...

THE POPLAR Oh, as for you, Mr. Chestnut-Tree, ever since you have refused to show yourself except in the streets of the big towns...

THE WILLOW (hobbling along in a pair of wooden shoes) Oh dear, oh dear!... They have come to cut off my head and arms again for fagots!...

THE POPLAR Silence!... Here is the Oak leaving his palace!... He looks far from well this evening.... Don't you think he is growing very old?... What can his age be?... The Fir-tree says he is four thousand; but I am sure that he exaggerates.... Listen; he will tell us all about it....

(The OAK comes slowly forward. He is fabulously old, crowned with mistletoe and clad in a long green gown edged with moss and lichen. He is blind; his white beard streams in the wind. He leans with one hand on a knotty stick and with the other on a young OAKLING, who serves as his guide. The Blue Bird is perched on his shoulder. At his approach, the other trees draw themselves up in a row and bow respectfully.)

TYLTYL He has the Blue Bird!... Quick! Quick!... Here!... Give it to me!...

THE TREES Silence!...

THE CAT (to TYLTYL) Take of your hat. It's the Oak!...

THE OAK (to TYLTYL) Who are you?....

TYLTYL I am Tyltyl, sir.... When can I have the Blue Bird?...

THE OAK Tyltyl, the wood-cutter's son?...

TYLTYL Yes, sir....

THE OAK Your father has done us much harm.... In my family alone, he has put to death six hundred of my sons, four hundred and seventy-five uncles and aunts, twelve hundred cousins of both sexes, three hundred and eighty daughters-in-law, and twelve thousand great-grandsons!...

TYLTYL I know nothing about it, sir.... He did not do it on purpose....

THE OAK What have you come here for; and why have you made our souls leave their abodes?...

TYLTYL I beg your pardon, sir, for disturbing you.... The Cat said that you would tell us where the Blue Bird was....

THE OAK Yes, I know that you are looking for the Blue Bird, that is to say, the great secret of things and of happiness, so that Man may make our servitude still harder....

TYLTYL Oh, no, sir; it is for the Fairy Berylune's little girl, who is very ill....

THE OAK (laying silence upon him with a gesture) Enough!... I do not hear the Animals.... Where are they?... All this concerns them as much as us.... We, the Trees, must not assume the responsibility alone for the grave measures that have become necessary.... On the day when MAN hears that we have done what we are about to do, there will be terrible reprisals..... It is right, therefore, that our agreement should be unanimous, so that our silence may be the same....

THE FIR-TREE (looking over the top of the other trees) The Animals are coming.... They are following the Rabbit.... Here are the souls of the Horse, the Bull, the Ox, the Cow, the Wolf, the Sheep, the Pig, the Cock, the Goat, the Ass, and the Bear....

(Enter the souls of the ANIMALS, who, as the FIR-TREE utters their names, come forward and sit down among the trees, with the exception of the soul of the GOAT, who roams to and fro, and of the PIG, who snuffles among the roots.)

THE OAK Are all here present?...

THE RABBIT The Hen could not leave her eggs, the Hare is out on a run, the Stag has a pain in his horns, the Fox is ill—here is the doctor's certificate—the Goose did not understand and the Turkey flew into a passion....

THE OAK These abstentions are most regrettable.... However, we have a quorum.... You know, my brothers, the nature of our business. The child you see before you, thanks to a talisman stolen from the powers of Earth, is able to take possession of the Blue Bird and thus to snatch from us the secret which we have kept since the origin of life.... Now we know enough of Man to entertain no doubt as to the fate which he reserves for us once he is in possession of this secret. That is why it seems to me that any hesitation would be both foolish and criminal.... It is a serious moment; the child must be done away with before it is too late....

TYLTYL What is he saying?...

THE DOG (prowling round the OAK and showing his fangs) Do you see my teeth, you old cripple?...

THE BEECH (indignantly) He is insulting the Oak!...

THE OAK Is that the Dog?... Drive him out! We must suffer no traitors among us!...

THE CAT (aside, to TYLTYL) Send the Dog away.... It's a misunderstanding.... Leave it to me; I will arrange things.... But send him away as quick as you can....

TYLTYL (to the DOG) Will you be off!...

THE DOG Do let me worry the gouty old beggar's moss slippers!.... It will be such a joke!...

TYLTYL Hold your tongue!... And be off with you!... Be off, you ugly brute!...

THE DOG All right, all right, I'm going.... I'll come back when you want me....

THE CAT (aside, to TYLTYL) It would be a good thing to chain him up, or he will commit some folly; the Trees will be angry and all will end badly....

TYLTYL What can I do?... I have lost his leash....

THE CAT Here's the Ivy just coming along with strong bonds....

THE DOG (growling) I'll come back, I'll come back!... Ugh! Goutytoes! Timbertoes!... Pack of old stunted growths, pack of old roots!... It's the Cat who's at the bottom of all this!... I'll be even with him!... What have you been whispering about, you sneak, you tiger, you Judas!... Wow, wow, wow!....

THE CAT You see, he insults everybody....

TYLTYL Yes, he is unbearable and one can't hear one's self speak.... Mr. Ivy, will you chain him up, please?...

THE IVY (timorously going up to the DOG) Won't he bite?...

THE DOG (growling) On the contrary, on the contrary!... He's going to kiss you!... Just wait and see!... Come along, come along, you old ball of twine, you!...

TYLTYL (threatening him with his stick) Tylo!...

THE DOG (cringing at TYLTYL'S feet and wagging his tail) What am I to do, my little god?

TYLTYL Lie down flat!... Obey the Ivy.... Let him bind you, or....

THE DOG (growling between his teeth, while the IVY binds him) Ball of twine I... Hunk of yarn!... Hangman's rope I... Calves' leash!... Look, my little god I ... He's cutting my paws!... He's choking me!...

TYLTYL I don't care!... It's your own fault.... Hold your tongue; be quiet; you're unbearable!...

THE DOG You're wrong, for all that.... They mean mischief.... Take care, my little god!... He's closing my mouth!... I can't speak!...

THE IVY (who has tied up the DOG like a parcel) Where shall we put him?... I've muzzled him finely.... He can't utter a word....

THE OAK Fasten him tight down there behind my trunk; to my big root.... We will decide later what had best be done with him....

(The IVY and the POPLAR carry the DOG behind the OAK'S trunk.)

THE OAK Is that done?... Well, now that we are rid of this inconvenient witness, of this renegade, let us deliberate in accordance with justice and truth.... I will not conceal from you the deep and painful nature of my emotion.... This is the first time that it is given to us to judge Man and make him feel our power.... I do not think that, after the harm which he has done us, after the monstrous injustice which we have suffered, there can remain the least doubt as to the sentence that awaits him....

ALL THE TREES and ALL THE ANIMALS No! No! No!... No doubt at all!... Hanging!... Death!... The injustice has been too great!... The abuse too wicked!... It has lasted too long!... Crush him!... Eat him!... At once!... Here and now!...

TYLTYL (to the CAT) What is the matter with them?... Are they displeased?...

THE CAT Don't be alarmed.... They are a little annoyed because Spring is late.... Leave it to me; I will settle it all....

THE OAK This unanimity was inevitable.... We must now decide, in order to avoid reprisals, which form of execution will be the most practical, the easiest, the quickest and the safest, which will leave the fewest accusing traces when Man finds the little bodies in the forest....

TYLTYL What is all this about?... What is he driving at?... I am getting tired of this.... He has got the Blue Bird; let him hand it over....

THE BULL (coming forward) The most practical and the surest way is a good butt with the horns in the pit of the stomach.... Shall I go at him?...

THE OAK Who speaks?...

THE CAT It's the Bull.

THE COW It would be better to keep quiet.... I won't meddle with it.... I have all the grass to browse in the field which you can see down there in the blue light of the moon.... I have quite enough to do....

THE OX I also.... However, I agree to everything beforehand....

THE BEECH I can offer my highest branch to hang them on....

THE IVY And I the slip-knot....

THE FIR-TREE And I the four planks for their little coffin....

THE CYPRESS And I a perpetual grant of a tomb....

THE WILLOW The simplest way would be to drown them in one of my rivers.... I will take charge of that....

THE LIME-TREE (in a conciliatory tone) Come, come.... Is it really necessary to go to such extremities?... They are very young.... We could quite simply prevent them from doing any harm by keeping them prisoners in an enclosure which I will undertake to form by planting myself all around....

THE OAK Who speaks?... I seem to recognise the honeyed accents of the Lime-tree....

THE FIR-TREE Yes, it's he....

THE OAK So there is a renegade among us, as among the Animals?... Hitherto we have only had to deplore the disloyalty of the Fruit-trees; but they are not real trees....

THE PIG (rolling his small eyes gluttonously) I think we should first eat the little girl.... She ought to be very tender....

TYLTYL What's he saying?... Just wait a bit, you...

THE CAT I don't know what is the matter with them; but things are beginning to look badly....

THE OAK Silence!... What we have to decide is which of us shall have the honour of striking the first blow, who shall ward off from, our tops the greatest danger that has threatened us since the birth of Man....

THE FIR-TREE That honour falls to you, our king and our patriarch....

THE OAK Is that the Fir-tree speaking?... Alas, I am too old!... I am blind and infirm and my numbed arms no longer obey me.... No, to you, brother, ever green, ever upright, to you, who have witnessed the birth of most of these trees, to you be the glory, in default of myself, of the noble act of our deliverance....

THE FIR-TREE I thank you, venerable father.... But as I shall, in any case, have the honour of burying the two victims, I should be afraid of arousing the just jealousy of my colleagues; and I think that, next to ourselves, the oldest and the worthiest and the one that owns the best club is the Beech....

THE BEECH You know I am worm-eaten and my club is no longer to be relied upon.... But the Elm and the Cypress have powerful weapons....

THE ELM I should be only too pleased; but I can hardly stand upright.... A mole twisted my great toe last night....

THE CYPRESS As for me, I am ready.... But, like my brother, the Fir-tree, I shall have, if not the privilege of burying them, at least the advantage of weeping over their tomb.... It would be an unlawful plurality of offices.... Ask the Poplar....

THE POPLAR Me?... Are you serious?... Why, my wood is more tender than the flesh of a child!... And, besides, I don't know what's the matter with me.... I am shivering with fever.... Just look at my leaves.... I must have caught cold at sunrise this morning....

THE OAK (bursting out with indignation) You are afraid of Man!... Even those unprotected and unarmed little children inspire you with the mysterious terror which has always made us the slaves that we are!... Enough of this! Things being as they are and the opportunity unequalled, I shall go forth alone, old, crippled, trembling, blind as I am, against the hereditary enemy!... Where is he?...

(Groping with his stick, he moves towards TYLTYL.)

TYLTYL (taking his knife from his pocket) Is it me he's after, that old one, with his big stick?...

ALL THE TREES (uttering a cry of alarm at the sight of the knife, they step in between and hold back the OAK) The knife!... Take care!... The knife!...

THE OAK (struggling) Let me be!... What does it matter?... The knife or the axe!... Who's holding me back?... What! Are you all here?... What! You all want to.... (Flinging down his stick) Well, so be it!... Shame upon us!... Let the Animals deliver us!...

THE BULL That's right!... I'll see to It!... And with one blow of the horns!...

THE OX and THE COW (holding him back by the tail) What are you doing?... Don't be a fool!... It's a bad business!... It will end badly.... It is we who will pay for it.... Do let be.... It's the wild animals' business....

THE BULL No, no!... It's my business!... Wait and see!... Look here, hold me back or there will be an accident!...

TYLTYL (to MYTYL, who is uttering piercing screams) Don't be afraid!... Stand behind me.... I have my knife....

THE COCK He has plenty of pluck, the little chap!...

TYLTYL So you've made up your minds, it's me you're going for?...

THE ASS Why, of course, my little man; you've taken long enough to see it!...

THE PIG You can say your prayers; your last hour has come.... But don't hide the little girl.... I want to feast my eyes on her.... I'm going to eat her first....

TYLTYL What have I done to you?...

THE SHEEP Nothing at all, my little man.... Eaten my little brother, my two sisters, my three uncles, my aunt, my grandpapa and my grandmamma.... Wait, wait, when you're down, you shall see that I have teeth also....

THE ASS And I hoofs!...

THE HORSE (haughtily pawing the ground) You shall see what you shall see!... Would you rather that I tore you with my teeth or knocked you down with a kick?... (He moves ostentatiously towards TYLTYL, who faces him and raises his knife. Suddenly the HORSE, seized with panic, turns and rushes away.) Ah, no!... That's not fair!... That's against the rules!.... He's defending himself!...

THE COCK (unable to hide his admiration) I don't care, the little chap's full of grit!...

THE PIG (to the BEAR and the WOLF) Let us all rush on them together.... I will support you from the rear.... We will throw them down and share the little girl when she is on the ground....

THE WOLF Divert their attention in front.... I am going to make a turning movement....

(He goes round TYLTYL, whom he attacks from behind and half overthrows.)

TYLTYL You brute!... (He raises himself on one knee brandishing his knife and doing his best to cover his little sister, who utters yells of distress. Seeing him half overturned, all the ANIMALS and TREES come up and try to hit him. TYLTYL calls distractedly for assistance.) Help! Help!... Tylo! Tylo!... Where is the Cat?... Tylo!... Tylette! Tylette!... Come! Come!...

THE CAT (hypocritically, holding aloof) I can't come.... I have sprained my paw....

TYLTYL (warding of the blows and defending himself as best he can) Help!... Tylo! Tylo!... I can't hold out!... There are too many of them!... The Bear! The Pig! The Donkey! The Ass! The Fir-tree! The Beech!... Tylo! Tylo! Tylo!...

(Dragging his broken bonds after him, the DOG leaps from behind the trunk of the OAK and, elbowing his way through TREES and ANIMALS, flings himself before TYLTYL, whom he defends furiously.)

THE DOG (distributing great bites) Here! Here, my little god!... Don't be afraid! Have at them!... I know how to use my teeth!... Here, there's one for you, Bear, in your fat hams!... Now then, who wants some more?... Here, that's for the Pig and that's for the Horse and that's for the Bull's tail!... There, I've torn the Beech's trousers and the Oak's petticoat!... The Fir-tree's making tracks!... Whew, it's warm work!...

TYLTYL (overcome) I'm done for!... The Cypress has caught me a great blow on the head....

THE DOG Ow!... That's the Willow!... He's broken my paw!...

TYLTYL They're coming back, they're charging down upon us, all together!... This time, it's the Wolf!...

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