Maurice Maeterlinck.

The children's Blue bird online

. (page 1 of 8)
Online LibraryMaurice MaeterlinckThe children's Blue bird → online text (page 1 of 8)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook






By Georgette Leb lanc






By Georgette Leblanc

Vjo STORY could be more suitable
or meaningful to young readers
of today than the children's blue
BIRD, based on the famous play by
Maurice Maeterlinck, and arranged
in story form for children by
Georgette Leblanc. A classic which
goes straight to the heart of each new
generation, it has revealed to count-
less readers of every civilized land
the nature of Truth and Happiness.
This beautiful book is the only com-
plete edition of THE children's




BIRD 5.^0

3 3333 01436 4620



The Branch Libraries
127 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10023-6447






Form #0594

(orm 048

The Children's Blue Bird

The Children's Blue Bird


Georgette Leblanc

Translated hy

Alexander Teixeira De MaftOi

New York
Dodd^ Mead a?id Company


Copyright, 191?


Copyright, 191 3



CITY OF NEW YORK fL) -^/^ / m^^,



I The Woodcutter's Cottage » . . c . 3

II At THE Fairy's . . . o o , o . . . 3^

III The Land of Memory ,„,,.,. 49

IV The Palace of Night . . o . . . c 65
V The Kingdom of the Future c , . . c 89

VI In THE Temple OF Light . . . . . .117

VII The Graveyard « . . . . » c , » 125

VIII The Forest . ...,..„.. 137

IX The Leave-Taking ........ 157

X The Awakening . .

• • • 'e • 3

C )




The Woodcutter's Cottage


THE woodcutter's COTTAGE

Once upon a time, a woodcutter and his wife lived in their
cottage on the edge of a large and ancient forest. They
had two dear little children who met with a most wonder-
ful adventure.

But. before telling you all about it. I must describe the
children to vou and let vou know something of their char-
acter: for. if thev had not been so sweet and brave and
plucky, the curious story which you are about to hear would
never have happened at all,

Tyltyl — that was our hero's name — was ten years old;
and Mytyl. his little sister, was only sis.

Tvltvl was a hne. tall little fellow, stout and well-set-
up. with curly black hair which was often in a tangle, for
he was fond of a romp. He was a great favourite because
of his smiling and good-tempered face and the bright look
in his eyes: but. best of all. he had the ways of a bold and
fearless little man, which showed the noble qualities of his
heart. When, early in the morning, he trotted along the


4 T^he Children's Blue Bird

forest-road by the side of his daddy, Tyl the woodcutter,
for all his shabby clothes he looked so proud and gallant
that every beautiful thing on the earth and in the sky
seemed to lie in wait for him to smile upon him as he

His little sister was very different, but looked ever so
sweet and pretty in her long frock, which Mummy Tyl
kept neatly patched for her. She was as fair as her
brother was dark; and her large timid eyes were blue as the
forget-me-nots in the fields. Anything was enough to
frighten her and she would cry at the least thing; but her
little child's soul already held the highest womanly qual-
ities: she was loving and gentle and so fondly devoted to
her brother that, rather than abandon him, she did not hes-
itate to undertake a long and dangerous journey in his

What happened and how our little hero and heroine
went off into the world one night in search of happiness:
that is the subject of my story.

Daddy Tyl's cottage was the poorest of the country-
side; and it seemed even more wretched because it stood
opposite a splendid hall in which rich children lived.
From the windows of the cottage you could see what went
on inside the Hall when the dining-room and drawing-

T!he Woodcutter s Cottage 5

rooms were lit up in the evening. And, in the daytime,
you saw the little children playing on the terraces, in the
gardens and in the hot-houses which people came all the
way from town to visit because they were always filled
with the rarest flowers.

Now, one evening which was not like other evenings,
for it was Christmas Eve, Mummy Tyl put her little ones
to bed and kissed them even more lovingly than usual.
She felt a little sad, because owing to the stormy weather,
Daddy Tyl was not able to go to work in the forest; and
so she had no money to buy presents with which to fill
Tyltyl and Mytyl's stockings. The Children soon fell
asleep, everything was still and silent and not a sound
was heard but the purring of the cat, the snoring of the dog
and the ticking of the great grandfather's clock. But
suddenly a light as bright as day crept through the shut-
ters, the lamp upon the table lit again of itself and the two
Children awoke, yawned, rubbed their eyes, stretched
out their arms in bed and Tyltyl, in a cautious voice
called :


'Yes, Tyltyl^" was the answeio

'Are you asleep?"
"Are you?"




6 '^he Children's Blue Bird

"No," said Tyltyl. "How can I be asleep, when I'm
talking to you?"

"I say, is this Christmas Day?" asked his sister.

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

"Why not?"

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

"Is next year far off?"

"A good long while," said the boy. *'But he will come
to the rich children to-night."


'Hullo I" cried Tyltyl of a sudden. "Mummy's forgot-
ten to put out the lamp ! o . . I've an ideal"


"Let's get up."

"But we mustn't," said Mytyl, who always remembered.

"Why, there's no one about ! . . . Do you see the shut-

"Oh, how bright they are I" . . .

"It's the lights of the party," said Tyltyl.

"What party?"

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



l^he Woodcutter s Cottage 7

"Can we?" asked Mytyl, timidly.

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

The two Children jumped out of bed, ran to the window,
climbed on the stool in front of it and threw back the shut-
ters. A bright light filled the room; and the Children
looked out eagerly:

"We can see everything!" said Tyltyl.

"I can't," said poor little Mytyl, who could hardly find
room on the stool.

"It's snowing!" said Tyltyl. "There's two carriages,
with six horses each!"

"There are twelve little boys getting out!" said
Mytyl, who was doing her best to peep out of the win-

"Don't be silly! . . . They're little girls . . ."

"They've got knickerbockers on . . ."
'Do be quiet! . . . And look! . . ."

*What are those gold things there, hanging from the

"Why, toys, to be sure!" said Tyltyl. "Swords, guns,
soldiers, cannons. . . ."

"And what's that, all round the table?"

"Cakes and fruit and cream-tarts."



8 T^he Children's Blue Bird

"Oh, how pretty the children are I" cried Mytyl, clap-
ping her hands.

"And how they're laughing and laughing!" answered
Tyltyl, rapturously.

"And the little ones dancing I . . .'*

"Yes, yes; let's dance tool" shouted Tyltyl.

And the two Children began to stamp their feet for joy
on the stool:

"Oh, what fun !" said Mytyl.

"They're getting the cakes!" cried Tyltyl. "They can
touch them! . . . They're eating, they're eating, they're
eating! . . . Oh, how lovely, how lovely! . . ."

Mytyl began to count imaginary cakes:

"I have twelve! . . ."

"And I four times twelve!" said Tyltyl. "But I'll give
you some. . . ."

And our little friends, dancing, laughing and shrieking
with delight, rejoiced so prettily in the other children's
happiness that they forgot their own poverty and want.
They were soon to have their reward. Suddenly, there
came a loud knocking at the door. The startled Children
ceased their romp and dared not move a limb. Then the
big wooden latch lifted of itself, with a loud creak; the
door opened slowly; and in crept a little old woman,

l^he Woodcutter s Cottage 9

dressed all in green, with a red hood over her head. She
was hump-backed and lame and had only one eye ; her nose
and chin almost touched; and she walked leaning on a
stick. She was obviously a fairy.

She hobbled up to the Children and asked, in a snuffling
voice :

"Have you the grass here that sings or the bird that is

"We have some grass," replied Tyltyl, trembling all
over his body, "but it can't sing . . ."

"Tyltyl has a bird," said Mytyl.

"But I can't give it away, because it's mine," the little
fellow added, quickly.

Nov/ wasn't that a capital reason?

The Fairy put on her big, round glasses and looked at
the bird :

"He's not blue enough," she exclaimed. "I must abso-
lutely have the Blue Bird. It's for my little girl, who
is very ill . . . Do you know what the Blue Bird stands
for? No? I thought you didn't; and, as you are good
children, I will tell you."

The Fairy raised her crooked finger to her long, pointed
nose, and whispered, in a mysterious tone :

"The Blue Bird stands for happiness; and I want you

lO T^he Children's Blue Bird

to understand that my little girl must be happy in order
to get well. That is why I now command you to go out
into the world and find the Blue Bird for her. You will
have to start at once . . . Do you know who I am?"

The Children exchanged puzzled glances. The fact was
that they had never seen a fairy before; and they felt a
little scared in her presence. However, Tyltyl soon said

"You are rather liKe our neighbour, Madame Berlin-
got , . »

Tyltyl thought that, in saying this, he was paying the
Fairy a compliment; for Madame Berlingot's shop, which
was next door to their cottage, was a very pleasant place.
It was stocked with sweets, marbles, chocolate cigars and
sugar cocks-and-hens; and, at fair-time, there were big
gingerbread dolls covered all over with gilt paper. Goody
Berlingot had a nose that was quite as ugly as the Fairy's;
she was old also; and, like the Fairy, she walked doubled
up in two; but she was very kind and she had a dear little
girl who used to play on Sundays with the woodcutter's
Children. Unfortunately, the poor little pretty, fair-haired
thing was always suffering from some unknown complaint,
which often kept her in bed. When this happened, she


t The Woodcutter s Cottage it

used to beg and pray for Tyltyl's dove to play with; but
Tyltyl was so fond of the bird that he would not give it
to her. All this, thought the little boy, was very like that
what the Fairy told him; and that was why he called her

Much to his surprise, the Fairy turned crimson with
rage. It was a hobby of hers to be like nobody, because
she was a fairy and able to change her appearance, from
one moment to the next, as she pleased. That evening,
she happened to be ugly and old and hump-backed; she
had lost one of her eyes; and two lean wisps of grey hair
hung over her shoulders.

"What do I look like?' she asked Tyltyl. "Am I pretty
or ugly? Old or young?'

Her reason for asking these questions was to try the
kindness of the little boy. He turned away his head and
dared not say what he thought of her looks. Then she cried;

"I am the Fairy Berylune!"

"Oh, that's all right I" answered Tyltyl, who, by this time,
was shaking in every limb.

This mollified the Fairy; and, as the Children were still
in their night-shirts, she told them to get dressed. She her-
I self helped Mytyl and, while she did so, asked :



12 Hhe Children's Blue Bird

"Where are your Father and Mother'?"

"In there," said Tyltyl, pointing to the door on the right-
"They're asleep."

And your Grandad and Granny?"
They're dead. . . ."

And your little brothers and sisters . . . Have you
any? . . ."

"Oh, yes, three little brothers!" said Tyltyl.

"And four little sisters," added Mytyl.

"Where are they?" asked the Fairy.

"They are dead, too," answered Tyltyl.

"Would you like to see them again?"

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

'1 haven't got them in my pocket," said the Fairy. "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 do-
ing when I knocked?"

"We were playing at eating cakes," said Tyltyl.

"Have you any cakes? . . . Where are they? . . ."

"In the house of the rich children . . . Come and look,
it's so lovely!"

And Tyltyl dragged the Fairy to the window.

"But it's the others who are eating them!" said she.

The Woodcutter s Cottage 13

"Yes, but we can see them eat," said TyltyL

"Aren't you cross with themT'

'What for?'

"For eating all the cakes» I think it's very wrong of them
not to give you any."

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

"It's just the same here, only you can't see. . . ."

"Yes, I can," said Tyltyl. *1 have very good eyes. I can
see the time on the church clock; and Daddy can't!"

The Fairy suddenly grew angry:

"I tell you that you can't see!" she said.

And she grew angrier and angrier. As though it mat-
tered about seeing the time on the church clock !

Of course, the little boy was not blind; but, as he was
kind-hearted and deserved to be happy, she wanted to
teach him to see what is good and beautiful in all things.
It was not an easy task, for she well knew that most
people live and die without enjoying the happiness that
lies all around them. Still, as she was a fairy, she was
all-powerful; and so she decided to give him a little hat
adorned with a magic diamond that would possess the ex-
traordinary property of always showing him the truth,
which would help him to see the inside of Things and thus

14 T^he Children's Blue Bird

teach him that each of them has a life and an existence of
its own, created to match and gladden ours.

The Fairy took the little hat from a great bag hanging by
her side. It was green and had a white cockade, with the
big diamond shining in the middle of it. Tyltyl was be-
side himself with delight. The Fairy explained to him
how the diamond worked. By pressing the top, you saw
the soul of Things ; if you gave it a little turn to the right,
you discovered the Past; and, when you turned it to the
left, you beheld the Future.

Tyltyl beamed all over his face and danced for joy; and
then he at once became afraid of losing the little hat :

"Daddy will take it from me I" he cried.

"No," said the Fairy, "for no one can see it as long as it's
on your head . . . Will you try it?"

"Yes, yes!" cried the Children, clapping their hands.

The hat was no sooner on the little boy's head than a
magic change came over everything. The old Fairy turned
into a young and beautiful princess, dressed all in silk and
covered with sparkling jewels; the walls of the cottage be-
came transparent and gleamed like precious stones; the
humble deal furniture shone like marble. The two children
ran from right to left clapping their hands and shouting
with delight.

l^he Woodcutter's Cottage 15


"Oh, how lovely, how lovely!" exclaimed Tyltyl.

" And Mytyl, like the vain little thing she was, stood spell-
bound before the beauty of the fair princess' dress.

But further and much greater surprises were in store for
them. Had not the Fairy said that the Things and the
Animals would come to life, talk and behave like every-
body else ? Lo and behold, suddenly the door of the grand-
father's clock opened, the silence was filled with the
sweetest music and twelve little daintily-dressed and
laughing dancers began to skip and spin all around the

"They are the Hours of your life," said the Fairy.

"May I dance with them?" asked Tyltyl, gazing with
admiration at those pretty creatures, who seemed to skim
over the floor like birds.

But just then he burst into a wild fit of laughter! Who
was that funny fat fellow, all out of breath and covered
with flour, who came struggling out of the bread-pan and
bowing to the children? It was Bread! Bread himself,
taking advantage of the reign of liberty to go for a little
walk on earth! He looked like a stout, comical old gen-
tleman; his face was puffed out with dough; and his large
hands, at the end of his thick arms, were not able to meet,
when he laid them on his great, round stomach. He was

i6 'T^he Children s Blue Bird

dressed in a tight-fitting crust-coloured suit, with stripes
across the chest like those on the nice buttered rolls which we
have for breakfast in the morning. On his head — just
think of it I — he wore an enormous bun, which made a funny
sort of turban.

He had hardly tumbled out of his pan, when other loaves
just like him, but smaller, followed after and began to
frisk about with the Hours, without giving a thought to the
flour which they scattered over those pretty ladies and which
wrapped them in great white clouds.

It was a queer and charming dance; and the Children
were delighted. The Hours waltzed with the loaves; the
plates, joining in the fun, hopped up and down on the
dresser, at the risk of falling off and smashing to pieces;
the glasses in the cupboard clinked together, to drink the
health of one and all. As to the forks, they chattered so
loudly with the knives that you could not hear yourself
speak for the noise. . . .

There is no knowing what would have happened if the
din had lasted much longer. Daddy and Mummy Tyl
would certainly have woke up. Fortunately, when the
romp was at its height, an enormous flame darted out of the
chimney and filled the room with a great red glow, as though
the house were on fire. Everybody bolted into the corners

T^he Woodcutter s Cottage I7

in dismay, while Tyltyl and Mytyl, sobbing with fright,
hid their heads under the good Fairy's cloak.

"Don't be afraid," she said. "It's only Fire, who has
come to join in your fun. He is a good sort, but you had
better not touch him, for he has a nasty temper."

Peeping anxiously through the beautiful gold lace that
edged the Fairy's cloak, the Children saw a tall, red fellow
looking at them and laughing at their fears. He was
dressed in scarlet tights and spangles; from his shoulders
hung silk scarves that were just like flames when he waved
them with his long arms; and his hair stood up on his head
in straight, flaring locks. He started flinging out his arms
and legs and jumping round the room like a madman.

Tyltyl, though feeling a little easier, dared not yet leave
his refuge. Then the Fairy Berylune had a capital idea : she
pointed her wand at the tap; and at once there appeared a
young girl who wept like a regular fountain. It was Water.
She was very pretty, but she looked extremely sad; and she
sang so sweetly that it was like the rippling of a spring.
Her long hair, which fell to her feet, might have been made
of sea-weed. She had nothing on but her bed-gown ; but the
water that streamed over her clothed her in shimmering
colours. She hesitated at first and gave a glance around
her; then, catching sight of Fire still whirling about like a

i8 T^he Children's Blue Bird

great madcap, she made an angry and indignant rush at him,
spraying his face, splashing and wetting him with all her
might. Fire flew into a rage and began to smoke. Never-
theless, as he found himself suddenly thwarted by his
hereditary enemy, he thought it wiser to retire to a corner.
Water also beat a retreat; and it seemed as though peace
would be restored once more.

The two Children, at last recovering from their alarm,
were asking the Fairy what was going to happen next, when
a startling noise of breaking crockery made them look round
towards the table. What a surprise I The milk- jug lay on
the floor, smashed into a thousand fragments, and from the
pieces rose a charming lady, who gave little screams of terror
and clasped her hands and turned up her eyes with a be-
seeching glance.

Tyltyl hastened to console her, for he at once knew that
she was Milk; and, as he was very fond of her, he gave
her a good kiss. She was as fresh and pretty as a little
dairy-maid; and a delicious scent of hay came from her
white frock all covered with cream.

Meanwhile, Mytyl was watching the sugar-loaf, which
also seemed to be coming to life. Packed in its blue paper
wrapper, on a shelf near the door, it was swaying from left
to right and from right to left without any result. But at

T^he Woodcutter s Cottage 19

last a long thin arm was seen to come out, followed by a
peaked head, which split the paper, and by another arm and
two long legs that seemed never to end! . . . Oh, you
should have seen how funny Sugar looked: so funny, in-
deed, that the Children could not help laughing in his face !
And yet they would have liked to be civil to him, for they
heard the Fairy introducing him in these words :

"This, Tyltyl, is the soul of Sugar. His pockets are
crammed with sugar and each of his fingers is a sugar-

How wonderful to have a friend all made of sugar, off
whom you can bite a piece whenever you feel inclined !

"Bow, wow, wow! . . . Good-morning! Good-morning,
my little god! . . . At last, at last we can talk! . . , Bark
and wag my tail as I might, you never understood ! . . . I
love you! I love you!"

Who can this extraordinary person be, who jostles every*
body and fills the house with his noisy gaiety*? We know
him at once. It is Tylo, the good Dog who tries his hardest
to understand mankind, the good-natured Animal who
goes with the Children to the forest, the faithful guardian
who protects the door, the staunch friend who is ever true
and ever loyal! Here he comes walking on his hind*
paws, as on a pair of legs too short for him, and

20 T^he Children's Blue Bird

beating the air with the two others, making gestures like
a clumsy little man. He has not changed : he still has his
smooth, mustard-coloured coat and his jolly bull-dog
head, with the black muzzle, but he is much bigger and then
he talks ! He talks as fast as he can, as though he wanted
in one moment to avenge his whole race, which has been
doomed to silence for centuries. He talks of everything,
now that he is at last able to unbosom himself; and it is a
pretty sight to see him kissing his little master and mis-
tress and calling them "his little gods I" He sits up, he
jumps about the room, knocking against the furniture, up-
setting Mytyl with his big soft paws, lolling his tongue,
wagging his tail and puffing and panting as though he were
out hunting. We at once see his simple, generous nature.
Persuaded of his own importance, he fancies that he alone
is indispensable in the new world of Things.

After making all the fuss he wanted of the Children,
he started going the round of the company, distributing the
attentions which he thought that none could do without.
His joy, now set free, found vent without restraint; and,
because he was the most loving of creatures, he would also
have been the happiest, if, in becoming human, he had not,
unfortunately, retained his little doggy failings. He was
jealous ! He was terribly jealous ; and his heart felt a pang

T^he Woodcutter s Cottage 21

when he saw Tylette, the Cat, coming to life in her turn and
being petted and kissed by the Children, just as he had been I
Oh, how he hated the Cat! To bear the sight of her beside
him, to see her always sharing in the affection of the family :
that was the great sacrifice which fate demanded of him.
He accepted it, however, without a word, because it pleased
his little gods ; and he went so far as to leave her alone. But
he had had many a crime on his conscience because of her !
Had he not, one evening, crept stealthily into Goody Ber-
1 ingot's kitchen in order to throttle her old tom-cat, who had
never done him any harm'? Had he not broken the back of
the Persian cat at the Hall opposite"? Did he not some-
times go to town on purpose to hunt cats and put an end
to them, all to wreak his spite? And now Tylette was go-
ing to talk, just like himself I Tylette would be his equal in

1 3 4 5 6 7 8

Online LibraryMaurice MaeterlinckThe children's Blue bird → online text (page 1 of 8)