In the heart of China, so far away that you’ve probably never heard of it, lies a magnificent emperor’s palace. It was made of the finest porcelain and was so delicate and precious that you had to take great care not to break anything. Around the palace, a marvelous garden stretched as far as the eye could see, filled with the most beautiful flowers and the most melodious birds.
One day, the Emperor of China discovered that one of the most beautiful things in his empire was a nightingale, a bird celebrated for its heartwarming song. He had read about it in a book, but had never heard its song. So, he commanded his courtiers to find this nightingale and bring it to the palace.
The courtiers searched high and low until they came upon a little grey bird. “Is it really you?” they asked. “I can’t believe such a small, plain thing could have such a famed song.” The nightingale assured them it was, indeed, her and agreed to come to the palace.
When the nightingale sang for the Emperor, her song brought tears to his eyes. It was so beautiful and touching that the Emperor declared she must stay in the palace and sing for him always. The nightingale agreed, but she missed her freedom and the beautiful green woods.
One day, the Emperor received a mechanical nightingale, adorned with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. It could sing one of the nightingale’s songs perfectly. Everyone was so taken with this new, sparkling bird that they forgot about the real nightingale, who flew back to her home in the forest.
The mechanical bird was a marvel, but after a year, it broke down and could no longer sing. The Emperor was heartbroken. He fell ill, and none of his doctors could cure him.
In his darkest hour, the real nightingale, having heard of the Emperor’s plight, returned to the palace. She sang with such feeling and love that the Emperor’s spirit was lifted, and he began to get better.
The nightingale told the Emperor, “Keep the mechanical bird if you like. I cannot live in a cage, but I will come and sing for you whenever you wish. I will sing about joy, and hope, and the quiet beauty of life.”
The Emperor was overjoyed and declared, “You are the true treasure of my empire!” And so, the nightingale sang for the Emperor, not as his captive, but as a free and joyful spirit, reminding him and all who heard her of the beauty and wonder of the world around them.
And that, my young reader, is the story of “The Nightingale,” a tale that reminds us that the most beautiful things in life cannot be kept in cages or adorned with jewels. They must be free and cherished in our hearts.
Also Read: The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs
Follow Up Questions
What makes the nightingale’s song so special to the Emperor and the people in the story? This question encourages children to think about the value of natural beauty and emotions over material possessions and artificial creations.
Why do you think the nightingale chose to return to the Emperor even after he replaced her with the mechanical bird? This question helps children explore themes of forgiveness, loyalty, and the importance of genuine connections.
If you were the Emperor, would you prefer the real nightingale or the mechanical bird, and why? This question prompts kids to reflect on their own values and preferences, considering the contrast between something that’s real and alive versus something that’s artificial but flawless.