What a silly prince! I sang for him, happily. I sang for him as if all the melodies in the world were shut up in my throat. He loved me!

But love is a terrible, terrible thing. Because he loved me, he made me a gift to the princess he adored. He took his most valuable treasures—myself, and the rose-tree that grew on his father’s grave—and he put us in two silver caskets.

He shipped us off to his darling lady, and when we were uncovered, she rejected the rose-tree right away. She wanted a toy, not something real!

As for me, I sang the poignant song that was in my throat. The emperor wept like a child, but the princess had no interest in a creature with a beating heart in his breast and a brain in his head. She ran to the window, opened it, and let me fly away.

Fly away I did!

Nightingale Rejected in The Swineherd, Yellow Fairy Book. Vintage illustration.

nightingale bird