But the nightingale is the best of all. He read it in print.
"What's this?" the Emperor exclaimed. "I don't know of any nightingale. Can there be such a bird in my empire-in my own garden-and I not know it? To think that I should have to learn of it out of a book."
Thereupon he called his Lord-in-Waiting, who was so exalted that when anyone of lower rank dared speak to him, or ask him a question, he only answered, "P", which means nothing at all.
"They say there's a most remarkable bird called the nightingale," said the Emperor. "They say it's the best thing in all my empire. Why haven't I been told about it?"
"I've never heard the name mentioned," said the Lord-in-Waiting. "He hasn't been presented at court."
"I command that he appear before me this evening, and sing," said the Emperor. "The whole world knows my possessions better than I do!"
"I never heard of him before," said the Lord-in-Waiting. "But I shall look for him. I'll find him."
But where? The Lord-in-Waiting ran upstairs and downstairs, through all the rooms and corridors, but no one he met with had ever heard tell of the nightingale. So the Lord-in-Waiting ran back to the Emperor, and said it must be a story invented by those who write books. "Your Imperial Majesty would scarcely believe how much of what is written is fiction, if not downright black art."
"But the book I read was sent me by the mighty Emperor of Japan," said the Emperor. "Therefore it can't be a pack of lies. I must hear this nightingale. I insist upon his being here this evening. He has my high imperial favor, and if he is not forthcoming I will have the whole court punched in the stomach, directly after supper."
"Tsing-pe!" said the Lord-in-Waiting, and off he scurried up the stairs, through all the rooms and corridors. And half the court ran with him, for no one wanted to be punched in the stomach after supper.
There was much questioning as to the whereabouts of this remarkable nightingale, who was so well known everywhere in the world except at home.