As soon as Tyltyl and Mytyl were in bed, Light kissed them and faded away at once, so as not to disturb their sleep with the rays that always streamed from her beautiful self.
It must have been about midnight, when Tyltyl, who was dreaming of the little Blue Children, felt a soft velvet paw pass to and fro over his face. He was surprised and sat up in bed in a bit of a fright; but he was soon reassured when he saw his friend Tylette's glowing eyes glittering in the dark.
"Hush!" said the Cat in his ear. "Hush! Don't wake anybody. If we can arrange to slip out without being seen, we shall catch the Blue Bird to-night. I have risked my life, O my dearest master, in preparing a plan which will certainly lead us to victory!"
"But," said the boy, kissing Tylette, "Light would be so glad to help us... and besides I should be ashamed to disobey her…."
"If you tell her," said the Cat, sharply, "all is lost, believe me. Do as I say; and the day is ours."
As she spoke these words, she hastened to dress him and also Mytyl, who had heard a noise and was asking to go with them.
"You don't understand," groaned Tyltyl. "You are too small: you don't know what a wicked thing we are doing.…"
But the treacherous Cat answered all his arguments, saying that the reason why he had not found the Blue Bird so far was just the fault of Light, who always brought brightness with her. Let the Children only go hunting by themselves, in the dark, and they would soon find all the Blue Birds that make men's happiness. The traitress displayed such cleverness that, before long, Tyltyl's disobedience became a very fine thing in his own eyes. Each of Tylette's words provided a good excuse for his action or adorned it with a generous thought. He was too weak to set his will against trickery, allowed himself to be persuaded and walked out of the temple with a firm and cheerful step. Poor little fellow: if he could only have foreseen the terrible trap that awaited him!
Our three companions set out across the fields in the white light of the moon. The Cat seemed greatly excited, did nothing but talk and went so fast that the children were hardly able to keep up with her:
"This time," she declared, "we shall have the Blue Bird, I am sure of it! I asked all the Trees in the very oldest forest; they know him, because he hides among them. Then, in order to have everybody there, I sent the Rabbit to beat the assembly and convoke the principal Animals in the country."
They reached the edge of the dark forest in an hour's time. Then, at a turn in the road, they saw, in the distance, some one who seemed to be hurrying towards them. Tylette arched her back: she felt that it was her inveterate enemy. She quivered with rage: was he once more going to thwart her plans? Had he guessed her secret? Was he coming, at the last moment, to save the Children's lives?
She leant over to Tyltyl and whispered to him, in her most honeyed voice: