SOME time after, the Children and their friends met at the first dawn to go to the Palace of Night, where they hoped to find the Blue Bird. Several of the party failed to answer to their names when the roll was called. Milk, for whom any sort of excitement was bad, was keeping her room. Water sent an excuse: she was accustomed always to travel in a bed of moss, was already half-dead with fatigue and was afraid of falling ill. As for Light, she had been on bad terms with Night since the world began; and Fire, as a relation, shared her dislike. Light kissed the Children and told Tyl? the way, for it was his business to lead the expedition; and the little band set out upon its road.
You can imagine dear Tyl? trotting ahead, on his hind-legs, like a little man, with his nose in the air, his tongue dangling down his chin, his front paws folded across his chest. He fidgets, sniffs about, runs up and down, covering twice the ground without minding how tired it makes him. He is so full of his own importance that he disdains the temptations on his path: he neglects the rubbish-heaps, pays no attention to anything he sees and cuts all his old friends.
Poor Tyl?! He was so delighted to become a man; and yet he was no happier than before! Of course, life was the same to him, because his nature had remained unchanged. What was the use of his being a man, if he continued to feel and think like a dog? In fact, his troubles were increased a hundred-fold by the sense of responsibility that now weighed upon him.
"Ah!" he said, with a sigh, for he was joining blindly in his little gods' search, without for a moment reflecting that the end of the journey would mean the end of his life. "Ah," he said, "if I got hold of that rascal of a Blue Bird, trust me, I wouldn't touch him even with the tip of my tongue, not if he were as plump and sweet as a quail!"
Bread followed solemnly, carrying the cage; the two Children came next; and Sugar brought up the rear.
But where was the Cat? To discover the reason of her absence, we must go a little way back and read her thoughts. At the time when Tylette called a meeting of the Animals and Things in the Fairy's hall, she was contemplating a great plot which would aim at prolonging the journey; but she had reckoned without the stupidity of her hearers:
The road to the Palace of Night was rather long and rather dangerous
"The idiots," she thought, "have very nearly spoilt the whole thing by foolishly throwing themselves at the Fairy's feet, as though they were guilty of a crime. It is better to rely upon one's self alone. In my cat-life, all our training is founded on suspicion; I can see that it is just the same in the life of men. Those who confide in others are only betrayed; it is better to keep silent and to be treacherous one's self."
As you see, my dear little readers, the Cat was in the same position as the Dog: she had not changed her soul and was simply continuing her former existence; but, of course, she was very wicked, whereas our dear Tyl? was, if anything, too good. Tylette, therefore, resolved to act on her own account and went, before daybreak, to call on Night, who was an old friend of hers.