Legend of Sagenfeld, in Germany 385
broken neck and the latter a broken leg. The poor little king lay there suffering agonies of pain, and each hour seemed a long month to him. He kept h«s ear strained to hear any sound that might promise hope of rescue; but he heard no voice, no sound or horn or bay of hound. So at last he gave up all hope, and said, " Let death come, for come it must."
Just then the deep, sweet song of a nightingale swept across the still wastes of the night.
" Saved !" the king said. " Saved ! It is the sacred bird, and the prophecy is come true. The gods themselves protected me from error in the choice."
He could hardly contain his joy; he could not word his gratitude. Every few moments now he thought he caught the sound of approaching succor. But each time it was a disappointment; no succor came. The dull hours drifted on. Still no help came — but still the sacred bird sang on. He began to have misgivings about his choice, but he stifled them. Toward dawn the bird ceased. The morning came, and with it thirst and hunger; but no succor. The day waxed and waned. At last the king cursed the nightingale.
Immediately the song of the thrush came from out the wood. The king said in his heart, " This was the true bird — my choice was false — succor will come now."
But it did not come. Then he lay many hours insensible. When he came to himself, a linnet was singing. He listened — with apathy. His faith was gone. "These birds," he said, "can bring no help; land my house and my people are doomed." He turned him about to die; for he was grown very feeble from hunger and thirst and suffering, and felt that his end was near. In truth, he wanted to die, and be released from pain. For long hours he lay without thought or feeling or motion. Then his senses returned. The 25**