When they were on the way there they heard a cow mooing.
' Oh !' said the Courtiers, ' now we have found her! What a wonderful power for such a small beast to have! I am sure we have heard her before !'
( No ; that is a cow mooing-!' said the little kitchenmaid. ' We are still a long way off!'
Then the frogs began to croak in the marsh. ' Splendid !' said the Chinese chaplain. ' Now we hear her ; it sounds like a little church-bell! '
' No, no ; those are frogs !' said the little kitchenmaid. ' But I think we shall soon hear her now ! ■
Then the Nightingale began to sing.
' There she is !' cried the little girl. ' Listen ! She is sitting there!' And she pointed to a little dark-grey bird up in the branches.
(Is it possible!' said the First Lord. ' I should never have thought it! How ordinary she looks ! She must surely have lost her feathers because she sees so many distinguished men round her!'
' Little Nightingale,' called out the little kitchenmaid, ' our Gracious Emperor wants you to sing before him!'
' With the greatest of pleasure !' said the Nightingale; and she sang so gloriously that it was a pleasure to listen.
' It sounds like glass bells !' said the First Lord. ' And look how her little throat works ! It is wonderful that we have never heard her before ! She will be a great success at Court.'
s Shall I sing once more for the Emperor ?' asked the Nightingale, thinking that the Emperor was there.
' My esteemed little Nightingale,' said the First Lord, 'I have the great pleasure to invite you to Court this evening, where His Gracious Imperial Highness will be enchanted with your charming song!'
' It sounds best in the green wood,' said the Nightingale; but still, she came gladly when she heard that the Emperor wished it. At the Palace everything was splendidly prepared. The porcelain walls and floors glittered in the light of many thousand gold lamps; the most gorgeous flowers which tinkled out well were placed in the corridors. There was such a hurrying and draught that all the bells jingled so much that one could not hear oneself speak. In the centre of the great hall where the Emperor sat was a golden perch, on which the Nightingale sat. The whole Court was there,