The Nightingale

“You didn’t roll your own cigarettes before. Why do you do so now?”

“Because the doctor told me I needed a little exercise.”


When Death as gone, the Emperor said to the little Nightingale, “Oh, dear little Nightingale, you have saved me from Death! Do not leave me again. Stay with me on this little gold perch, and sing to me always!”

“No, dear Emperor,” said the Nightingale, “I sing best when I am free; I cannot live in a palace. But every night when you are quite alone, I will come and sit in the window and sing to you, and tell you everything that goes on in your kingdom: I will tell you where the poor people are who ought to be helped, and where the wicked people are who ought to be punished. Only, dear Emperor, be sure that you never let anybody know that you have a little bird who tells you everything.”

After the Nightingale had flown away, the Emperor felt so well and strong that he dressed himself in his royal robes and took his gold scepter in his hand. And when the courtiers came in to see if he were dead, there stood the Emperor with his sword in one hand and his scepter in the other, and said, “Good morning!”

The Nightingale

Policeman (after the collision)- “You saw this lady driving toward you. Why didn’t you give her the road?”

Motorist- “I was going to, as soon as I could discover which half she wanted.”


The Emperor’s heart grew colder and colder where Death crouched upon it, and the dreadful whispers grew louder and louder, and the Emperor’s life was almost gone. Suddenly, through the open window, there came a most lovely song. It was so sweet and so loud that the whispers died quite away. Presently the Emperor felt his heart grow warm, then he felt the blood flow through his limbs again; he listened to the song until the tears ran down his cheeks; he knew that it was the little real Nightingale who had flown away from him when the gold nightingale came.

Death was listening to the song, too; and when it was done and the Emperor begged for more, Death too, said, “Please sing again, little Nightingale!”

“Will you give me the Emperor’s gold crown for a song?” said the little Nightingale.

“Yes,” said Death; and the little Nightingale bought the Emperor’s crown for a song.

“Oh, sing again, little Nightingale,” begged Death.

“Will you give me the Emperor’s scepter for another song?” said the little Nightingale.

“Yes,” said Death; and the little Nightingale bought the Emperor’s scepter for another song.

Once more Death begged for a song, and this time the little Nightingale got the banner for her singing. Then she sang one more song, so sweet and so sad that it made Death think of his garden in the churchyard, where he always liked best to be. And he rose from the Emperor’s heart and floated away through the window.