WEEKS and months had passed since the children's departure on their journey; and the hour of separation was at hand. Light had been very sad lately; she had counted the days in sorrow, without a word to the Animals and Things, who had no idea of the misfortune that threatened them.
On the day when we see them for the last time, they were all out in the gardens of the temple. Light stood watching them from a marble terrace, with Tyltyl and Mytyl sleeping by her side. Much had happened in the past twelve months; but the life of the Animals and Things, which had no intelligence to guide it, had made no progress: on the contrary! Bread had eaten so much that he was now not able to walk: Milk, devoted as ever, dragged him along in a Bath chair. Fire's nasty temper had made him quarrel with everybody and he had become very lonely and unhappy in consequence. Water, who had no will of her own, had ended by yielding to Sugar's sweet entreaties: they were now married; and Sugar presented a most piteous sight. The poor fellow was reduced to a shadow of his former self, shrank visibly day by day and was sillier than ever, while Water, in marrying, had lost her principal charm, her simplicity. The Cat had remained the liar that she always was; and our dear friend Tyl? had never been able to overcome his hatred for her.
"Poor things!" thought Light, with a sigh. "They have not gained much by receiving the benefit of life! They have travelled and seen nothing of all the wonders that surrounded them in my peaceful temple; they were either quarrelling with one another or over-eating themselves until they fell ill. They were too foolish to enjoy their happiness and they will recognize it for the first time presently, when they are about to lose it .... "
At that moment, a pretty dove, with silver wings, alighted on her knees. It wore an emerald collar round its neck, with a note fastened to the clasp. The dove was the Fairy Bérylune's messenger. Light opened the letter and read these few words:
"Remember that the year is over."
Then Light stood up, waved her wand and everything disappeared from sight.
Closely pursued by the Dog, who overwhelmed her with bites, blows and kicks
A few seconds later, the whole company were gathered together outside a high wall with a small door in it. The first rays of the dawn were gilding the tree-tops. Tyltyl and Mytyl, whom Light was fondly supporting with her arms, woke up, rubbed their eyes and looked around them in astonishment.
"What?" said Light to Tyltyl. "Don't you know that wall and that little door?"
The sleepy boy shook his head: he remembered nothing. Then Light assisted his memory:
"The wall," she said, "surrounds a house which we left one evening just a year ago to-day..."
"Just a year ago?... Why, then..." And, clapping his hands with glee, Tyltyl ran to the door. "We must be near Mummy!... I want to kiss her at once, at once, at once?”