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Monday, 21 March 2016
Happiness (A retelling of Maurice Maeterlinck's “The Blue Bird”) - Chapter 18, 19 and 20 (Final segment)
Chapter 18 – The Kingdom of the Future
“This is a strange place,” Tristan said as they peered at their surroundings, “It feels like we are in an ocean or in the sky.”
Transported by Lucien’s ability, Tristan, Michelle and Lucien arrived in the Kingdom of the Future.
“It’s a shame we had to leave Tylo and Tylette behind,” Michelle said.
“At least they’ll be safe,” her brother assured her, referring that they have left the cat and dog with the Blessings and the Loves.
“Are we here to find the blue bird?” Michelle asked their guide.
“I wanted to show you something,” Lucien told them and led them through the place.
The Kingdom of the Future was a large city all of blue: buildings, walls, skies, ground – even the children they saw there!
“Who are they?” Michelle asked.
“What are they?” Tristan rephrased.
“They are the children of the future.” Lucien explained.
“Hello there!” A little blue boy approached them with rolls of paper under his arm. “You must be strangers. Welcome to the Kingdom of the Future!”
“Uh, thanks!” Tristan said and then asked nodding at the paper, “What’s that you have there?”
“Oh, this?” the boy held up the paper and unrolled it before them revealing the blueprint of a building. “I am going to be an architect and build the most unique cathedral in the world!”
“Wow! I have never seen such a picture,” Michelle commented.
“We call this a blueprint. It’s basically a map for making buildings,” the little boy explained. “That little girl over there,” he nodded towards a girl with a stand containing a number of slender glass tubes, “She is going to find a unique element that will help sick people around the world.”
“That one over there,” the boy showed them another boy in a lab coat playing with a glass covered dish and some eyedroppers. “He is going to find a cure for an illness and give it to the world without a cost. And that little girl over there,” showing them a girl sitting on a bench swinging her legs. “She is going to sit on a bus and make a difference on how people think about each other.”
“What’s a bus?” Tristan asked.
Their little guide showed them more about things of the future: carts that moved without the power of horses or cattle; fruits and vegetables of various shapes, sizes and colours; clothing made of materials yet to be discovered; lanterns that were lit without candles or oil; and many more.
“Wow! I didn’t think any of those would be possible!” Tristan exclaimed.
“Yup! That’s what we are: future builders, inventors, teachers, leaders, and visionaries!” said the boy excitedly, but suddenly his face clouded with sadness, “Unfortunately, not everyone will live long enough to see the fruit of their talents and labours.”
“Why do you say that?” Michelle asked.
“Many of us will die at a young age. Some of us will die even before we are born,” the little boy explained.
“Tristan! Michelle!” called a voice, the two of them looked to see a bunch of children approach them.
“Who are you all?” Michelle asked.
“We are your children!” they all said.
“Ch-children?!” Tristan exclaimed.
“But we’re not even married! Neither of us are!” she pointed out.
“Don’t worry, you will both get married and later have children,” said a little girl who looked like a smaller version of Michelle.
“All aboard for those who are leaving for the next ship!” called a deep resounding voice.
“That’s us!” someone shouted.
“To the future! Here we come!” The children whooped and shouted as they brought their things with them and walked up a ramp to get on board a giant sailing ship. At the foot of the ramp was a man with long hair and a very long beard, in his right hand he held a scythe, in his left he held up a large hour glass with its blue glittery sand trickling through its narrow centre.
“It’s kind of sad knowing that some of them won’t live long enough to see the fruit of their labours.” Tristan reflected sadly.
“That is what the future is – it is filled with uncertainties, but full of hope and promise.” Lucien explained to them.
Just when the last child boarded the ship, a large clock sounded striking twelve. The giant ship pulled away from its harbour and sailed into the night sky. The old man with the hour glass turned and saw Tristan and Michelle. He opened his mouth to say something, but seeing Lucien he closed it and bowed his head in reverence instead.
“Time to go,” Lucien said and with those words a swirl of gold dust encircled them and transported the three of them out of there.
Chapter 19 – The Sad Parting
“Where are we now?” Michelle asked Lucien.
They looked at their surroundings and saw a familiar room: the table where they ate their meals, the bed revealed from the open doors of their bedrooms, the birdcage hanging from the ceiling holding Tristan’s pigeon.
“We’re home?” Tristan could not believe his eyes.
“But we’re not done our quest!” Michelle protested, “We still have not found the blue bird!”
“No, not on our journey,” Lucien agreed sadly.
“But that would mean we could not save the princess,” Michelle addressed.
“We still have time till Christmas day, don’t we?” Tristan asked hopefully.
Lucien only looked at them and led them to their house. Michelle threw her arms around Lucien, her shoulders shaking in tears.
“Michelle,” Lucien said to her tenderly.
“We failed our quest, Lucien!” Michelle sobbed, “We were asked by Madam Luna to find the bird of happiness for the princess and we failed!”
Lucien held her close and comforted her. “The quest is not quite over yet, dear one,” he told her.
Lucien shook his head and said, “Do not lose hope. You will find your blue bird.”
“How can you be so sure?” Tristan asked.
Their guide looked at him. “Remember what the Blessings have told you and you will know. Now, it is time for us to return to our worlds.”
“Will we see each other again?” asked Michelle as fresh tears appeared.
“We will. In time we will.” Upon those words, Lucien shone brightly until the place was washed white with his brightness.
Tristan opened his eyes and found himself back in home in his own bed. The place was still dark, but he recognized the scent and touch of his own bedclothes and home.
“I wonder what day it is,” he said to himself as he got out of bed. He approached Michelle who slept in her bed across from him separated by a thick curtain. He pulled back the curtain and found her sleeping soundly in her bed.
He let out a sigh of relief. They were home. So was it all a dream? Bringing out a candle he kept near his bed, he lit it. Climbing down the step ladder that separated them from the main level of their parent’s cottage, he silently made his way to his pigeon which he kept in its cage not far from the hearth.
The bird tucked its head under its wing. Tristan stared at his bird. Madam Luna had mentioned about the princess needing the blue bird. He lit a lantern and had a better look at his bird.
Whether it was the trick of the light, Tristan noticed that his pigeon looked bluer than it did before. He stood there in thought for a moment. Then he went back to his bed and changed his clothes. Grabbing his thick woolen coat he pulled it on. He then took his pigeon still in its birdcage; taking a thick shawl he covered the cage to keep the cold at bay. With his covered cage in one hand, he very quietly left his home after blowing out the lantern and candle on his way out.
He went to the barn, saddled their horse Greta and headed straight for the castle.
By the time Tristan arrived at the castle gates, day was beginning to break.
“Who goes there!” commanded one of the guards.
Tristan halted his horse and dismounted. “Please, sir, I would like to see the king.”
“What business do you have with the king this Christmas morning?” the second guard demanded.
“So it’s Christmas morning,” Tristan said, his face lit up with hope, “Please give this to the king. It is the blue bird for the princess.” He handed the cage to the first guard.
“Wait a minute! Did you just say a blue bird?” the second guard asked.
“Yes, I did,” he told them.
The guards whispered at each other. They peeked under the shawl and turned to Tristan.
“We’ll make sure to give it to her majesty,” the first guard told him.
“Thank you,” Tristan nodded, he stopped and asked, “Will the princess be all right now?”
“Now that we have the blue bird she will be,” the second guard assured.
Tristan nodded in gratitude. He mounted Greta and made his way back home.
Chapter 20 – As For the Blue Bird
“We’re home!” Pierre’s voice rang in the quiet home.
“Really, Pierre! They may still be asleep!” Jolie playfully smacked her husband’s arm.
In their rooms located on the second level further into their cottage, Michelle stirred in her bed at the jovial noise.
“It’s Christmas morning!” Pierre’s cheerful voice filled the air.
“Father!” Michelle leapt out of bed, scrambled down the stepladder and ran into the arms of her parents. “You’re home!” she cried out in delight.
“Well! This is a lovely Christmas greeting!” Pierre said with a chuckle. “Merry Christmas, Michelle!” he said as he kissed the top of his daughter’s head.
“Where’s Tristan? Is he still in bed?” Jolie asked as she gave her daughter a hug.
“I’m right here.” Everyone turned to see Tristan come into the cottage, fully dressed and his face red from the chilly air. He was glowing.
Michelle looked at her brother with a confused look. “What do you mean?”
“I found the blue bird. The Blessings were right; it was in our house the whole time.”
“They were right? You mean you found the blue bird? Oh, Tristan! I am so glad!” Michelle cried out in joy as she hugged her brother.
“What is going on here now?” Jolie asked her husband.
“Beats me, but if our children are happy then I guess all is well.” Pierre commented.
Tristan turned to his parents and stared at their faces. He turned to his mother and kissed her cheek and stared at her again.
“Um, yes?” their mother asked, looking puzzled.
“Just glad to see you, Mother,” Tristan told her as he put his arms around her.
“Well, I am glad to see you too, my son,” Jolie said with a smile unsure of what to make of this greeting.
“Well, let’s have breakfast ready, shall we?” Pierre said, as he removed his now wet coat.
“Yes, let’s! Michelle, get changed. We shall have a feast!” Their mother produced a large basket filled with wonderful gifts: little jars filled with jams and jellies, a loaf of bread, a wheel of cheese, a string of sausage, some apples, a bag of nuts and dried fruits, and finally a sugary cake wrapped in a tea cloth.
“Where did all this come from?” Michelle asked.
“You will not believe it, but it was left at the door of your grandparents’ cottage,” Jolie told them.
“Who would have left them?”
Tristan saw a sheet of paper wedged into the side of the basket, tied to a tin of tea with a sprig of pine with its cone. The paper was crisp with a shade of cream, on its pristine surface, in elegant script, were the words: Thank you for your kindness. Bérylune.
“What is it, Tristan?” his sister asked, as she leaned over his shoulder to see what he had in his hand.
“I believe the gifts were from Madam Luna,” Tristan said as he showed the letter to his family.
“Oh, she didn’t have to thank us!” Jolie protested.
“I think she still wanted to show us her gratitude,” Tristan explained.
Days passed and the news of the princess recovering from her mysterious illness was spread throughout the kingdom along with the news that the prince had returned safely after his long absence from his quest. Thus the people of Berlingot had the assumption that the prince found the cure and sent it ahead to his sister to speed her recovery.
“So where did you find the blue bird, Tristan?” Michelle asked her brother as they were cleaning Greta’s stable.
“I told you, it was in our home the whole time.” Tristan added new straw.
“Surely you don’t mean your pigeon.”
“I am talking about my pigeon,” Tristan brought Greta to her stall.
“Oh, Tristan! But I thought – ”
“I thought so too. I thought that the bird was not blue enough, but when I looked that early Christmas morning it was much bluer than before, so it had to be the one.”
“But that pigeon was special!”
“It was, which was all the more reason I had to give it away; if it will bring happiness to someone I was more than willing to let that person have it. Besides,” he added as he gave Greta a carrot, “I don’t need that pigeon anymore now that I could visit Grandfather in my memories.”
Michelle stared at her brother.
“What?” he asked, noticing a touched look on his sister’s face. “Why are you so emotional?”
“Oh, Tristan! I am so proud to have you as my brother!” she wept with joy as she threw her arms around her brother’s neck.
“Hey! Careful!” he protested, but was smiling the whole time.
“Tristan! Michelle!” their father called them, “You have visitors!”
“Visitors?” Michelle asked.
“Who could they be?” Tristan wondered aloud.
Their mother met them as they came out of the stable.
“Hurry, go wash up!” she shooed them to the water pump in the kitchen.
“What’s all the fuss about?” Tristan asked.
“Don’t keep them waiting! They’re already here!”
The brother and sister quickly washed up and straightened their clothes; both strode towards the front of the cottage where they saw a grand carriage with a royal crest on the door.
“Tristan!” Michelle grasped her brother’s sleeve.
“Your highnesses, allow me to introduce you to my children. My son Tristan and my daughter Michelle,” Pierre introduced them both to a regal looking pair.
The guests were also brother and sister, or so they appeared. The young man was tall and beautiful with hair fluffy and snowy white; his skin was smooth and dark as walnut; his eyes were almond shaped and the colour of amber.
His sister was just as beautiful, about Michelle’s age with smooth ivory skin, shiny black hair that flowed in silky waves about her shoulders, her lips were the colour of rose petals in the summer, and her dark amber coloured eyes were bright as stars. In her hands she held a pigeon the colour of the sky.
“Tristan, they look familiar. I wonder why?” Michelle whispered.
“You’re right, but I can’t seem to recall where I’ve seen them,” Tristan whispered back.
“Tristan,” said the young woman.
“Y-yes?” he jumped.
“I am Princess Jana,” she introduced, “I was told by the guards that you brought the blue bird to the castle.”
“I did, your highness,” Tristan said nervously.
“Thank you, Tristan,” the princess said with a smile, “I wanted to visit you sooner and thank you for your generosity.”
“It was nothing, your highness,” Tristan said, his face as red a beets.
Michelle giggled as she watched her brother’s reaction. She looked up and saw that the prince was looking right at her. He smiled.
“Excuse me, your highness, but have we met?” she asked.
“Perhaps we have, but not like this,” he said with a wink.
The princess handed the blue bird back to Tristan, but it broke away from her grasp and took flight.
“Oh no!” The princess watched the bird fly away.
“It is all right, your highness. We will find the blue bird again – this time close to our hearts.”
Chapter 16 – True Happiness
“So what was that place I found myself in?” Tristan asked as they once again took the path along the steep cliff.
“You were at the House of Luxuries,” Lucien told him.
“That was what I was told, but what are they really?”
“What did they tell you they were?”
“They say that they live like that. I guess they mean they live in luxury. What I want to know is why all that disappeared?”
“The Luxuries believe that happiness is found in material things such as food, drink and riches. What some do not realize, and some try to ignore, is that happiness do not come from having material things. Having material things only give temporary happiness which is fleeting, but also very deceptive because it never fills the emptiness that actually meant for true happiness. So the Luxuries drown and bury themselves in material things trying to fill a bottomless hole in their hearts, not realizing that those were the very things that were chasing away their true happiness.”
Tristan listened and thought over what happened to him there. He shuddered.
“Is something wrong?” Michelle asked.
“Lucien, one more question,” Tristan asked, “What would have happened if I did end up joining the party, ate their food or had their drink?”
“You would have forgotten.”
“The food and drink the luxuries served had toxic qualities. It makes one crave for those things, but never fills them. After each taking it only make the emptiness worse, so you would only think about the next meal they serve you or the next drink or the next thing you could have. You would forget the important things in life: the love you share with your family, friends and loved ones.” Lucien looked up and stopped. “We have arrived.”
They all looked around it was a vast empty field under an open sky. The field was green with grass and speckled with wildflowers.
“So where are we now?” Tristan asked.
“We are at a place called Blessings.” Lucien explained.
“Are we supposed to see something here?” Michelle asked.
“Turn the diamond, Tristan, and take a look.”
Tristan turned the diamond, its facets sparkled revealing children playing in the field. Many children of various shapes, colours and sizes laughed and played in the field gathering flowers, playing tag or just lay in the grass staring up into the blue sky – a dressed in gowns of pastel colours.
“Hey! It’s Tristan and Michelle!” one of them shouted.
At the mention of the visitor’s names, they all ran up to them, some of them brought circlets of flowers and placed them on their heads.
“Welcome to Blessings!” the children greeted.
“It’s so nice to see you!” said a little black cherub boy in mint green.
“We always talk about you and how your family make us want to dance,” said a brown girl in pale orange and yellow.
“We love to hear your family talk!” said a little boy with golden hair and blue eyes dressed in sky blue.
“How do you know our names?” Michelle asked bewildered.
The children stopped and then burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny?” Tristan asked.
“We always see you!” said a girl with almond eyes and black haired bob, she wore a pink dress.
“We see you every day!” said olive skinned girl with green eyes wearing a pale yellow dress.
“You just can’t see us because we are invisible,” explained another boy with earthen coloured skin, his hair tied back in a cue. He wore a pale brown gown.
“We are looking for the blue bird,” Tristan said. “Do you know where we could find one?”
The children giggled.
A little black girl in a lavender dress stepped forward and said, “We see one in your house every day. Right, everyone?”
The children nodded.
Tristan and Michelle looked at each other even more puzzled.
“You see one in our house?” Tristan asked.
“Are you talking about Tristan’s pigeon?” Michelle inquired.
“Nope!” the children chorused.
“There’s a real blue bird in your house,” said the little boy in the mint green.
“We saw it singing when your family shared a funny story,” said the girl in the pale yellow.
“It even flew around the house in joy when you discovered your father came home safe from a violent storm,” explained the girl in pink.
“Look! There’s someone you would like to meet!” The boy in tan suddenly grabbed Michelle’s hand.
“Yes! Do see her! She and others would love to see you!” The girl in lavender tugged Tristan’s arm.
“Come on! Come on!” the children twittered excitedly leading the older two further into the field.
“Now who do we have here?” said a sweet voice.
Tristan and Michelle looked and saw the mother Jolie smiling at them.
Chapter 17 – The Loves
“Mother?” both Tristan and Michelle asked in unison.
“But,” Tristan heard himself say, “You look like our mother, but you aren’t. The mother we know is much older than you.”
“You are right in saying that I am not your mother,” said Jolie’s look-alike. “I am Storgé.”
“Storgé?” Michelle asked.
“It means ‘love of parents and children’. I am one of the loves you find in your lives.” Storgé explained.
“Madam, can I give you a hug?” Michelle asked, “You look so much like my mother I just realized how much I missed her.”
Storgé held out her arms and Michelle fell into them. The moment they embraced Storgé’s face grew younger and prettier. Tristan gaped at what he saw.
“What’s the matter, Tristan?” Michelle asked, noticing the look on her brother’s face.
“She just – changed! She grew younger and…and prettier (not that she wasn’t before, but became more so).”
Storgé giggled. “So you see how love worked. When you show affection it brings out beauty in the one you give that affection to. In my case, your love for your mother makes her younger just as your expression of affection made me younger.”
“Do you have any left for me?” asked a deep voice.
“Father!” Michelle exclaimed.
“Hello, Michelle!” smiled Pierre.
“Are you like Storgé?” Tristan asked.
“You are right in asking so. I am Philia, ‘affectionate regard and friendship between equals’,” explained the Pierre look-alike.
“Don’t forget me!” A young girl suddenly appeared from behind Philia. She looked about the same age as Michelle and was stunningly beautiful. Her hair were wild coils of blazing copper, her eyes were bright blue-green like lake waters.
“I’m Eros! I represent intimate love. I also represent appreciation for beauty itself or beauty in the person one sees.” The girl gave a flirty wink at Tristan.
He blushed and looked away.
Eros giggled at his shy reaction.
“And we must never forget Agapé,” said Eros, prancing over to Lucien.
“But, that’s Lucien,” Michelle pointed out.
“You call him Lucien, but he is Agapé himself.” Philia explained, “He represents the ultimate love including brotherly love, charity, the love God has for man and the love man has for God.”
Michelle stared at Lucien puzzled. Lucien only smiled.
“What are you, Lucien?” she asked in wonder.
“Someone who is always there for you, my dear one,” he said with a knowing wink.
After they rested and enjoyed the company of the Blessings and Loves, the companions left the field.
“They said they saw the blue bird in our house, but I don’t remember seeing any.” Tristan reflected.
“I was thinking the same thing.” Michelle pondered, “Could it be that the bird was invisible as the Blessings were?”
Chapter 14 – Breaking Company
“Where to now, Lucien?” Tristan asked.
After leaving the Land of Memories behind them, they travelled for some time taking a dirt road that widened enough for all five of them to walk abreast. The road steadily went up a slope and wrapped itself around a tall steep wall of grey rock.
“We will be paying a visit to the Blessings and Happinesses at the top of mountain,” their guide explained. “They will tell us where to find the blue bird of happiness.”
“About that, Lucien,” Tristan said, “how many more places do we need to visit to find this bird? I mean, we’ve travelled all over the place all of which you have said (or suggested) that we will find the blue bird, but we still haven’t found any.”
“Tristan!” Michelle said.
Her brother continued, “Don’t get me wrong. We did find the blue birds, but the ones we did find were either dead or disappeared – in short, all of them were fake! So how will we know that where we are going this time we will find the real bird!”
“One stinkin’ bird, Lucien! We were supposed to find a single bloomin’ bird and we can’t find one that is even real. Why is that?”
Michelle groaned and put a hand to her face.
“You’re supposed to be our guide, Lucien! How come we’re going around to these strange places where there is supposed to be a bird –”
“That’s enough, Tristan!” Michelle snapped and stood between her brother and their guide. “Apologize to Lucien!”
Her brother scoffed. “Me? You’re telling me to apologize to that pretty faced man?”
“Lucien is our guide.”
“And a lousy one!”
Michelle pointed out, “He knows this realm better than we do. What is wrong with you? Why are you like this?”
“I am tired, Michelle!” her brother pointed out, “I want to go home, and sleep in my own bed.”
“We all are tired!” his sister reminded him, “If you would be patient, he will give us a place to rest.”
“And I am tired of chasing shadows! There is no blue bird! Why did you even agree to take up this quest?”
“Oh, now you are blaming me for this?”
Tylo and Tylette’s eyes nervously darted between their two owners as Tristan and Michelle argued.
“It was your idea from the start! ‘Oh, we should help her, Tristan! Grandfather and Grandmother told us to help strangers, Tristan!’” Her brother mimicked his sister’s voice.
“Keep our grandparents out of this! And I do not sound like that!”
“Pfft! Yeah, you do! You always find ways of having your way!”
“That’s it!” Michelle stomped towards her brother and raised a fist, but another hand grabbed her wrist.
“We should stop here,” Lucien said, gently. Lowering Michelle’s hand he turned to Tristan. “I understand that this journey seems unfruitful and pointless because we cannot find what we seek. I promise you that we will find the blue bird in the end. However,” he added, “Because Discontent is demanding you to share your heart with it you are voicing your anger and frustration. If you allow Discontent to have its way, it will eventually take more from you than you realize and you will even have more difficulty in finding the blue bird.”
The two young people stood still processing what their guide had just told them.
Tristan scoffed. “What? Now we have a riddle to solve? Oh this is rich!” He turned and made his way down the path.
“Where are you going?” Michelle asked.
“Home! Don’t worry about me! I could find my way back. You could go on with your ‘darling Lucien’!” Her brother waved as he left.
After leaving his sister and the rest of his travel companions behind, Tristan muttered and stewed as he followed the declining road.
“Stupid Light! Some guide! If Michelle didn’t talk me into this we would have been safe in our cozy beds.” He continued his monologue for some time, gradually his steam faded and his pace slowed.
“Maybe I was hard on Michelle? Since she is such a sweet girl she always wants to help.” He thought to himself, until he remembered how Michelle clung on to Lucien. Jealousy clawed at his heart, he kicked a rock over the edge of the cliff and went back to stomping down the slope again.
He came to a fork in the road. A sign was nailed to a post that said: “Happiness this way!” The sign pointed to the path on Tristan’s right that lead away from the cliff.
“Odd. I don’t remember seeing that,” Tristan reflected he turned towards his left, but stopped.
Wait a minute! What if I took that road and found the real blue bird! Won’t that be something! I could show those idiots that I was able to find the bird without help – even help from Lucien! Maybe that would make Michelle change her mind about Lucien. As Tristan thought over the possibilities of finding the blue bird, his feet pointed towards the path on the right and headed towards where happiness was promised.
Chapter 15 – The House of Luxuries
Tristan stood and stared at what he found. He took the path that directed him towards Happiness and he found a grand estate complete with a large and luxurious mansion.
The estate was impressive: surrounded by fruit trees of every kinds behind the mansion, to one side of the estate was a large piece sectioned for a bountiful vegetable garden, another section for golden wheat and grains, another section for vines and berries, and finally the largest section edged with flowers (mainly roses of every kind) surrounding a vast garden feast filled with beautiful people.
The guests at the feast were dressed in extravagant clothing. Both men and women wore tailored suits and dresses, some wore robes of silk, satin, velvet, muslin, fine linen, and laces of every design and colour. There were leather boots, breeches, gloves, and shoes all polished and shiny in the sunlight. Some wore powdered wigs while others had their hair styled to fashion. Jewels and precious metals glittered and gleamed on their hands, necks, hair, ears, and wherever they could be placed to be seen and admired.
Not only were the guests beautiful in dress and appearance, they were overweight – and for a good reason as well. On the table spread an amazing feast full of rich delicacies and drink – enough to feed an army. There were meats of every kind: bird, beast and fish all cured, stewed, steamed, and fried. There were also breads of every kind with every type of grain and seed; pastries of every colour shape and size glistening with sugar, jellies and candied fruits and nuts; fruits and vegetables perfectly shaped graced the tables with freshly cut flowers still glistening with dew; and then there were drinks: wine, cordials, liquors of every colour, strength and flavour. There were even three fountains on the table spewing fondues of cheese, chocolate and broth. Not far from the table was a tall many tiered tower of champagne glasses with a spout pouring frothy sparkly champagne down to the grassy floor.
As Tristan watched he noticed that the guests not only sat at the table but lounged almost anywhere they wished. There were even a few who reclined on the food table and ate straight from it!
“Welcome to the House of Luxuries!” Tristan turned to a cheerful voice.
A lovely young woman with thick powdery make-up and tall white wig approached him. She wore strings of silver bells and tiny diamonds draped around her already jewel covered tall hair, she had tiny jewels lined rows upon rows over her nearly revealing cleavage, her dress was low-cut with bright yellow silk, on her shoulders was a furry boa made up of every animal one could imagine, not to mention the feathers hemmed at the edge of her rather short dress.
The girl wrapped her arm around Tristan’s. “You look like you are lost. What’s your name?”
“A handsome name and a handsome man to go with it! My kind of guy!” The girl grinned as she scrunched up her nose.
“May I have your name, please?” he asked.
“And so polite!” she squealed, “I think I like you even more!” She playfully tapped his nose. “I’m Vanity!”
“Um, hello,” he greeted. Nervously scanned his surroundings he then asked, “Do you live here?”
The girl giggled. “We all do!” she said, waving at the scattered crowd.
“Come join us! The food is exquisite! The drink is amazing! Once you taste it you’ll learn what you have missed!” With that Vanity led him to the banqueting table.
“Sloth! Move your stinky feet! Ugh!” She slapped at the obese man who snored on the table using a wedding cake for a pillow and his two feet each implanted into a pie.
Now I know I won’t be able to look at fruit pies and wedding cakes the same again! Tristan thought to himself.
“Vanity!” A tall handsome gentle man with a beehive hair of red, yellow and blue grabbed Vanity by the waist and planted a slobbery kiss.
“Eew! Cad! You were in the bushes again!”
Tristan glanced around wondering if this was a good time to get back to the path.
“We are free to do here as we wish!” the young man exclaimed, “Well, well. What have we here?” he gave Tristan an interested look.
“He’s with me, now you run along with Greed, Wasteful and Envy.” She said waving him away.
“Um, does everyone here live like this?” Tristan asked.
Cad and Vanity both laughed. “This is our way of life!” said the girl.
“That’s a good one, old chap! I don’t know which rock you crawled out of.” Cad doubled over as if Tristan had just told a very funny joke.
“Come, Tristan! You have to try some of the food!” Vanity began tugging at his arm, but Tristan pulled the opposite direction.
“Thank you, but no. I need to get back,” he said.
“Why? What’s the rush?” She grabbed a golden goblet of hot chocolate and held it up to him.
The sweet intoxicating scent lured him. His stomach growled.
“See! You are hungry! You should have something,” she said as she pressed the goblet into his hand.
“Indeed, old boy, we need to put some more pounds on you!” Another man appeared and gave Tristan a friendly slap across his back.
Tristan nearly fell over dropping his goblet, upon impact his green hat fell over his eye.
“What a funny looking hat,” said another voice. Tristan suddenly felt a draft on his head.
“Hey, that’s mine!” He tried reaching for his hat.
“It’s mine now!” Another young girl, smaller in size wearing a thin satin dress the colour of roses with skinny straps, she wore tiny high heeled sandals with pin heels that were two inches long. She pranced around the garden wearing Tristan’s green hat.
“Oops!” The pixie girl tossed the hat far away to the edge of the estate.
Tristan stared wondering how she was able to prance around in such tiny high heels and how she was able to toss that hat to such a distance.
He tried to go after the hat, but more hands grabbing him pulling him towards the centre of the party.
“Join our party, Tristan!” cried Vanity.
“Let go of me!” Tristan shouted.
“Why are you so eager to leave?” Cad asked, shoving a leg of mutton into Tristan’s face.
“Eat with us!” said another as a wedge of pie pressed into his cheek.
“Drink with us!” said still another as a goblet and a bottle of wine was pressed into his hands.
“Stop it!” Tristan tried to fight them off as the partiers acted wilder and demanding.
“ENOUGH!” roared a voice. Immediately the revellers stopped and turned towards the roar. All froze in horror.
“Tristan!” Michelle called; in her hand was the green hat. Right behind her stood Lucien his face fiercely angry like a lion about to be released.
“Michelle! Turn the diamond quickly!” Lucien commanded.
Michelle pulled on the magic hat and touched the diamond. Seeing this, the revellers screamed and scrambled away from Tristan. Michelle let the diamond spin. A bright light outshone the sun disintegrating the luxurious party.
Instantly food broke down spoiling and rotting into soot, dirt and ashes. Drinks and beverages evaporated, crystals shattered into sand fragments. Gold and precious metals corroded and fell apart. Clothing shrank as colours faded and seams split, turning into rags. The obese partiers shrank and shrivelled into thin brown sticks of people – filthy, half-naked, starving, and sick. All the beautiful riches and luxuries that were part of the estate, that mansion including the bountiful gardens and orchards disappeared leaving only a barren wasteland of sand and rocks. The former party guests saw their true forms ran away screaming and weeping in shame.
“Tristan!” Michelle threw her arms around her bedraggled brother, who was a moment ago covered in food, but was now covered in dirt and soot.
“Michelle,” he put his arms around her, tears of relief filled his eyes, “I am so glad to see you again!”
“Tristan,” Lucien approached them.
Tristan looked up and looked away in shame. “I’m sorry, Lucien.” He tried to look at their guide, “I was an idiot. I – ” He swallowed, “I was also selfish and angry at the fact we couldn’t find the blue bird. Will you please forgive me?”
He felt a gentle pat on his head, one that reminded him of the time when he asked his father for forgiveness when he did something wrong.
“All is forgiven, Tristan,” Lucien told him.
Tristan finally looked up and saw that Lucien had indeed forgiven him. As Tristan bowed his head and let tears of relief flow, Michelle held him tightly and rubbed his back in comfort.