The books were circulated throughout the world, and some of them reached the Emperor. He sat in his golden chair, and read and read. He nodded his head every moment, for he liked reading the brilliant accounts of the town, the Palace, and the garden. ' But the Nightingale is better than all,' he saw written.
' What is that ? ' said the Emperor. ' I don't know anything about the Nightingale ! Is there such a bird in my empire, and so near as in my garden ? I have never heard it! Fancy reading for the first time about it in a book !'
And he called his First Lord to him. He was so proud that if anyone of lower rank than his own ventured to speak to him or ask him anything, he would say nothing but ' P! ' and that does not mean anything.
' Here is a most remarkable bird which is called a Nightingale !' said the Emperor. ' They say it is the most glorious thing in my kingdom. Why has no one ever said anything to me about it ?
'1 have never before heard it mentioned !' said the First Lord, ' I will look for it and find it! '
But where was it to be found ? The First Lord ran up and down stairs, through the halls and corridors ; but none of those he met had ever heard of the Nightingale. And the First Lord ran again to the Emperor, and told him that it must be an invention on the part of those who had written the books.
' Your Imperial Majesty cannot really believe all that is written! There are some inventions called the Black Art !'
' But the book in which I read this,' said the Emperor, ' is sent me by His Great Majesty the Emperor of Japan ; so it cannot be untrue, and I will hear the Nightingale! She must be here this evening! She has my gracious permission to appear, and if she does not, the whole Court shall be trampled under foot after supper!'
' Tsing pe! ' said the First Lord ; and he ran up and down stairs, through the halls and corridors, and half the Court ran with him, for they did not want to be trampled under foot. Everyone was asking after the wonderful Nightingale which all the world knew of, except those at Court.
At last they met a poor little girl in the kitchen, who said, ' Oh ! I know the Nightingale well. How she sings ! I have permission to carry the scraps over from the Court meals to my poor sick mother, and when I am going home at night, tired and weary, and rest for a little in the wood, then I hear the Nightingale singing!