THE NIGHTINGALE 231
quite loudly, ' our gracious Emperor wishes you to sing before him.' ^
' With the greatest pleasure ! ' replied the Nightingale, and began to sing most delightfully.
' It sounds just like glass bells ! ' said the cavalier. ' And look at its little throat, how it's working ! It 's wonderful that we should never have heard it before. That bird will be a great success at court.'
1 Shall I sing once more before the Emperor ? ' asked the Nightingale, for it thought the Emperor was present.
' My excellent little Nightingale,' said the cavalier, ' I have great pleasure in inviting you to a court festival this evening, when you shall charm his Imperial Majesty with your beautiful singing.'
' My song sounds best in the green wood ! ' replied the Nightingale ; still it came willingly when it heard what the Emperor wished.
The palace was festively adorned. The walls and the flooring, which were of porcelain, gleamed in the rays of thousands of golden lamps. The most glorious flowers, which could ring clearly, had been placed in the passages. There was a running to and fro, and a thorough draught, and all the bells rang so loudly that one could not hear oneself speak.
In the midst of the great hall, where the Emperor sat, a golden perch had been placed, on which the Nightingale was to sit. The whole court was there, and the little kitchen-maid had got leave to stand behind the door, as she had now received the title of a real court cook. All were in full dress, and all looked at the little grey bird, to which the Emperor nodded.
And the Nightingale sang so gloriously that the tears came into the Emperor's eyes, and the tears ran down over his cheeks ; and then the Nightingale sang still more sweetly, so that its song went straight to the heart. The Emperor was so much pleased that he said the Nightingale should have his golden slipper to wear round its neck. But the Nightingale declined this with thanks, saying it had already received a sufficient reward.
' I have seen tears in the Emperor's eyes—that is the real treasure to me. An Emperor's tears have a peculiar