230 THE NIGHTINGALE
corridors ; and half the court ran with him, for the courtiers did not like being trampled upon.
Then there was a great inquiry after the wonderful Nightingale, which all the world knew excepting the people at court.
At last they met with a poor little girl in the kitchen, who said,
* The Nightingale ? I know it well ; yes, it can sing gloriously. Every evening I get leave to carry my poor sick mother the scraps from the table. She lives down by the strand, and when I get back and am tired, and rest in the wood, then I hear the Nightingale sing. And then the water comes into my eyes, and it is just as if my mother kissed me ! '
* Little girl,' said the cavalier, ' I will get you a place in the kitchen, with permission to see the Emperor dine, if you will lead us to the Nightingale, for it is announced for this evening.'
So they all went out into the wood where the Nightingale was accustomed to sing ; half the court went forth. When they were in the midst of their journey a cow began to low.
1 Oh ! ' cried the court page, ' now we have it! That shows a wonderful power in so small a creature ! I have certainly heard it before.'
' No, those are cows lowing!' said the little kitchen-girl. * We are a long way from the place yet.'
Now the frogs began to croak in the marsh.
' Glorious ! ' said the Chinese court preacher. * Now I hear it—it sounds just like little church bells.'
' No, those are frogs !' said the little kitchen-maid. ' But now I think we shall soon hear it.'
And then the Nightingale began to sing.
' That is it! ' exclaimed the little girl. ' Listen, listen ! and yonder it sits.'
And she pointed to a little grey bird up in the boughs.
* Is it possible ? ' cried the cavalier. ' I should never have thought it looked like that! How plain it looks! It must certainly have lost its colour at seeing such grand people around.'
1 Little Nightingale ! ' called the little kitchen-maid,