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SCENE 1





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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 trapeziumshaped. 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 somber 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 wood-cutter'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, whois delighted to see you.... You must forgive her, she is alittle indisposed; that is why she was not able to come tomeet you.

TYLTYL

Good-day, Mrs. Night.

NIGHT

(in an offended voice)

Good-day?... I am not used to that.... You might say, Goodnight, 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.

(To NIGHT)

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 betternot 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 offone 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 affright. 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 (MORE) 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 door, 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 BREAD (cont'd) 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.

TYLTYL (cont'd)

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 momentand stretch your legs; it will do you good.... And theTerrors 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

(hall-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 likemonsters without eyes.... Who was the giant who tried toseize 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, Glowworms 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 manycoloured 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.... Ihave done for you what I have never done for any onebefore.... I have given up all my secrets to you.... I likeyou, I feel pity for your youth and innocence and I amspeaking to you as a mother.... Listen to me, my child, andbelieve me; relinquish your quest, go no further, do nottempt 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 seethat 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 shallstay!... 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 Iare 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, fairylike 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'sthey!... We have them at last!... Thousands of blue birds!...Millions!... Thousands of millions!... There will be toomany!... Come, Mytyl!... Come, Tylo!... Come, all!... Helpme! (Darting in among the birds) You can catch them by handfuls!... They are not shy!... Theyare 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 myhands!... Look, they are eating the moonbeams!... Mytyl,where are you?... There are so many blue wings, so manyfeathers falling that one cannot see anything for them!...Don't bite them, Tylo!... Don't hurt them!... Take them verygently!

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.

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