At last they found a poor little kitchen girl, who said:
"The nightingale? I know him well. Yes, indeed he can sing. Every evening I get leave to carry scraps from table to my sick mother. She lives down by the shore. When I start back I am tired, and rest in the woods. Then I hear the nightingale sing. It brings tears to my eyes. It's as if my mother were kissing me."
"Little kitchen girl," said the Lord-in-Waiting, "I'll have you appointed scullion for life. I'll even get permission for you to watch the Emperor dine, if you'll take us to the nightingale who is commanded to appear at court this evening."
So they went into the forest where the nightingale usually sang. Half the court went along. On the way to the forest a cow began to moo.
"Oh," cried a courtier, "that must be it. What a powerful voice for a creature so small. I'm sure I've heard her sing before."
"No, that's the cow lowing," said the little kitchen girl. "We still have a long way to go."
Then the frogs in the marsh began to croak.
"Glorious!" said the Chinese court person. "Now I hear it-like church bells ringing."
"No, that's the frogs," said the little kitchen girl. "But I think we shall hear him soon."
Then the nightingale sang.
"That's it," said the little kitchen girl. "Listen, listen! And yonder he sits." She pointed to a little gray bird high up in the branches.
"Is it possible?" cried the Lord-in Waiting. "Well, I never would have thought he looked like that, so unassuming. But he has probably turned pale at seeing so many important people around him."
"Little nightingale," the kitchen girl called to him, "our gracious Emperor wants to hear you sing."
"With the greatest of pleasure," answered the nightingale, and burst into song.
"Very similar to the sound of glass bells," said the Lord-in-Waiting. "Just see his little throat, how busily it throbs. I'm astounded that we have never heard him before. I'm sure he'll be a great success at court."
"Shall I sing to the Emperor again?