The Nightingale

“Which of your works of fiction do you consider the best?”

“My last income tax return.”

 

The Chamberlain went out and asked all the great lords and ladies and pages where the Nightingale could be found, but not one of them had ever heard of him. So the Chamberlain went back to the Emperor and said, “There is no such person.”

“The book says there is a Nightingale,” said the Emperor; “if the Nightingale is not here to sing for me this evening I will have the court trampled upon, immediately after supper.”

The Chamberlain did not want to be trampled upon, so he ran out and asked everybody in the palace about the Nightingale. At last, a little girl who worked in the kitchen to help the cook’s helper, said, “Oh, yes, I know the Nightingale very well. Every night, when I go to carry scraps from the kitchen to my mother, who lives in the wood beyond the forest, I hear the Nightingale sing.”

The Chamberlain asked the little cook-maid to take him to the Nightingale’s home, and many of the lords and ladies followed after. When they had gone a little way, they heard a cow moo.

“Ah!” said the lords and ladies, “that must be the Nightingale; what a large voice for so small a creature.”

“Oh, no,” said the little girl, “that is just a cow, mooing.”

A little farther on they heard some bullfrogs, in a swamp. “Surely that is the Nightingale,” said the courtiers; “it really sounds like church-bells!”

“Oh, no,” said the little girl, “those are bullfrogs, croaking.”