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The Nightingale


The Chinese Emperor had in his garden a nightingale named Bulbul who was his friend.

Bulbul came to eat from his hand, and, at night, when the emperor could not sleep, Bulbul sang so well that the Emperor forget all the worries of his job.

But one day the Minister said:

“I know a nightingale singing also during the day and that has a very beautiful plumage.”

And he brought to the Emperor a painted bird in brilliant colors and that was turned with a wrench in order to sing.

And the Emperor found the new nightingale so pretty, and listened so often his song, he forgot his Bulbul. And Bulbul would have died of hunger if the little girl of the cook had not adopted her.

But, forcing the key when turned it for the mechanical nightingale, the key broke, and the bird stopped singing.

No one could mend, and the emperor was so sad, he fell seriously ill.

But one night when he was near death, he suddenly heard next to his bed a voice so melodious that he felt back to life.

It was Bulbul singing. Bulbul sang until the emperor was completely healed.

“Oh! Bulbul,” said the emperor, “your plumage is less pretty, and you do not sing all the time as the other; but you’re a friend, and you come when I need you.”

And the emperor, grateful, ordered to Bulbul a golden cage and a small diamond crown.


(Translated and adapted from ABC – Petits Contes, by Jules Lemaître)

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