The YELLOW FAIRY BOOK - online childrens book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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sang ' Tra-la-la-la-la,' and the Emperor sang too sometimes. It was indeed delightful.
But one evening, when the artificial bird was singing its best, and the Emperor lay in bed listening to it, something in the bird went crack. Something snapped Whir-r-r ! all the wheels ran down and then the music ceased. The Emperor sprang up, and had his physician summoned, but what could he do ! Then the clockmaker came, and, after a great deal of talking and examining, he put the bird somewhat in order, but he said that it must be very seldom used as the works were nearly worn out, and it was impossible to put in new ones. Here was a calamity ! Only once a year was the artificial bird allowed to sing, and even that was almost too much for it. But then the bandmaster made a little speech full of hard words, saying that it was just as good as before. And so, of course, it was just as good as before. So five years passed, and then a great sorrow came to the nation. The Chinese look upon their Emperor as everything, and now he was ill, and not likely to live it was said.
Already a new Emperor had been chosen, and the people stood outside in the street and asked the First Lord how the old Emperor was. 'P!' said he, and shook his head.
Cold and pale lay the Emperor in his splendid great bed ; the whole Court believed him dead, and one after the other left him to pay their respects to the new Emperor. Everywhere in the halls and corridors cloth was laid down so that no footstep could be heard, and everything was still—very, very still. And nothing came to break the silence.
The Emperor longed for something to come and relieve the monotony of this deathlike stillness. If only someone would speak to him ! If only someone would sing to him. Music would carry his thoughts away, and would break the spell lying on him. The moon was streaming in at the open window ; but that, too, was silent, quite silent.
' Music ! music !' cried the Emperor. ' You little bright golden bird, sing ! do sing ! I gave you gold and jewels ; I have hung my gold slipper round your neck with my own hand—sing! dosing!' But the bird was silent. There was no one to wind it up, and so it could not sing. And all was silent, so terribly silent!
All at once there came in at the window the most glorious burst of song. It was the little living Nightingale, who, sitting outside on a bough, had heard the need of her Emperor and had come to sing
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