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The Wolf And The Nightingale

Category: Polish

Source: Fairy Tales From All Nations

In ancient times, when matters went on in the world very differently
from what they now do, there reigned a king in Scotland who had the
loveliest queen that ever graced a throne. Her beauty and amiability
were such, that her praise was sung by every minstrel and tale-teller,
and they called her the Scottish phoenix. This fair queen bore to
her husband two children, a son and a daughter, and then died in the
prime of her youth.

The king mourned for her many years, and could not forget her; he even
said that he would never marry again. But human resolutions are
unstable, and can never be depended on; and after the lapse of years,
when the children were already grown up, he took to himself a second
wife. The new queen was an evil-disposed woman, and made indeed a
step-mother to the king's children. Yet the prince and princess were
mirrors of grace and loveliness, and this was the cause of their
step-mother's hatred of them; for the people, who loved the memory of
the former queen, were constantly praising the young people, but never
said anything about her; and whenever she appeared in public with the
young princess, they always applauded and welcomed the latter,
exclaiming, "She is good and fair like her mother." This roused her
jealousy; she was full of spite towards them, and pondered how she
might play them some evil trick; but she concealed the malignity of
her heart under the mask of friendliness, for she dared not let the
king perceive that she was ill-disposed towards them, and the nation
would have stoned her and torn her in pieces if she had done them any

The princess, who was called Aurora, was now fifteen years of age,
blooming as a rose, and the fairest princess far and near. Many kings'
sons, princes and counts, courted her and sought her hand; but she
replied to them all, "I prefer my merry and unfettered girlhood to any
lover," and thereupon they had nothing to do but to return from whence
they came.

At last, however, the right one came. He was a prince from the East, a
handsome and majestic man, and to him she was betrothed with the
consent and approbation of the king and of her step-mother. Already
the bridal wreath was twined; musicians were hired for the dance, and
the whole nation rejoiced at the approaching nuptials of the fair
Princess Aurora. But far other thoughts were in the queen's heart, and
with threatening gestures she said to herself, "I will hire musicians
who shall play a very different tune, and those feet shall dance
elsewhere than in the bridal chamber. For," continued she, "this
throws me quite in the shade, and my sun must set before this Aurora;
especially now that she is going to have such a stately man for her
husband, and will give descendants to her father, for I am childless.
The nation, too, delights in her, and receives her with acclamation,
but takes no note of me. Yet I am the queen: yes, I am the queen, and
soon all shall know that it is I who am queen, and not Aurora."

And she meditated day and night how she might ruin the princess and
her brother; but not one of her wicked plans succeeded, for they were
too well guarded by their attendants, who valued them like the apple
of their eye, and never left them day nor night, because of the dear
love they bore to their mother, the departed queen.

At length the bridal day arrived, and the queen having no more time to
lose, bethought herself of the most wicked art she knew, and
approaching the young people in the most friendly way possible, begged
them to go with her into the rose-garden, where she would show them a
wonderfully beauteous flower which had just opened. Willingly they
went with her, for the garden was close to the palace, and no one
suspected any evil, for it was only mid-day, and the king and the
grandees of the land were all assembled in the great hall of the
palace where the nuptials were to be solemnised.

The queen led her step-children to the furthermost corner of the
garden where grew her flowers, till they came beneath a dark yew tree,
where she pretended to have something particular to show to them. Then
she murmured to herself some words in a low tone, broke off a branch
from the tree, and with it gave some strokes on the backs of the
prince and princess. Immediately they were transformed. The prince, in
the shape of a raging wolf, sprang over the wall and ran into the
forest; and the princess as a grey bird, called a nightingale, flew
into a tree and sang a melancholy air.

So well did the queen play her part, that no one suspected anything.
She ran shrieking to the castle, and with rent clothes and dishevelled
hair sank on the steps of the hall, acting as if some great disaster
had befallen her, and by the king's command her women carried her to
her chamber. A full quarter of an hour passed ere she came to herself.
Then she assumed an attitude of grief, wept, and exclaimed, "Ah, poor
Aurora, what a bridal day for thee! Ah, unfortunate prince!"

After repeatedly exclaiming in this manner, she at length related that
a band of robbers had suddenly burst into the garden, and had forcibly
torn the royal children from her arms, and carried them off; that they
had struck herself to the ground and left her half dead; and she then
showed a swelling on her forehead, to produce which she had purposely
hit her head against a tree. They all believed her words, and the king
commanded all the great lords, and counts, and knights, and squires,
to mount their horses and pursue the robbers. They traversed the
forest in all directions, and visited every cave, and rock, and
mountain, for at least three miles round the palace, but they could
not find a trace of either the robbers or the prince and princess. The
king, however, could not rest, and caused further search and
enquiries to be made, for weeks and months; and he sent messengers
into all the countries he could think of; but all was in vain, and at
length it was as if the prince and princess had never been in
existence, so entirely had they disappeared.

The old king, however, thought that the robbers had been tempted by
the fine jewels that the prince and princess wore on the wedding day,
and that they had stripped them of those and then murdered them, and
buried their bodies in some secret place: this so grieved him that he
shortly after died. On his death-bed, as he had no children, he
bestowed his kingdom on his wife, and besought his subjects to be true
and obedient to her as they had been to him. They gave their promise,
and acknowledged her as queen, more out of love for him than for her.

Thus four years passed away, when, in the second year after the king's
death, the queen began to govern with great rigour; and with the
treasures the king had left behind him, she hired foreign soldiers
whom she brought over the sea to guard her and to keep watch over the
palace; for she knew that she was not beloved by her subjects, and she
said, "That they should now do out of fear what they would not do for

And so it came to pass, that from day to day she became more hated by
every one, but nobody durst show his hate, for the slightest whisper
against her was punished with death. Nevertheless, the murmurs and
whispers still went on; and it was commonly said among the people,
that the queen had a hand in the children's disappearance; for, in
truth, there were plenty of persons who, on account of her sharp eyes
and her affected love for the children, suspected her of evil
practices against them. These murmurs, so far from dying away, went on
increasing; but the queen cared not for them, and thought "they will
remain the brutes into which I have transformed them, and no one will
deprive me of the crown." However, things turned out otherwise than
she expected.

Meanwhile the poor royal children led a sorry life. The prince had
fled to the forest as a grey wolf, and was obliged to conduct himself
like a wolf, and howl like one too, and by day to wander about in
desolate places, and to prowl about at night like a thief; for wolfish
fear had also sprung up in his heart. And also, he was obliged to live
like other wolves, on all sorts of prey--on wild animals and birds,
and in the dreary winter-time he was often obliged to content himself
with a mouse, and live on very short commons, and with chattering
teeth, to make his bed amongst the hard cold stones. And this
certainly was very different from the princely mode of life to which
he had been accustomed previous to his being driven into this wild
savage misery.

He had, however, one peculiarity, which was, that he only destroyed
and devoured animals, and never desired to take human blood. Yet there
was one after whose blood he did thirst, and that was the wicked woman
who had transformed him; but she took very good care never to go where
she might be within reach of that wolf's teeth. It must not, however,
be supposed that the prince, who was now a wolf, still preserved human
reason. No; all had grown dark within him, and under the form of the
beast as which he was condemned to scour the forest, he had also very
little more than brute understanding. It is true, a dim instinct often
drew him towards the royal residence and its gardens, as though he had
cause to expect that he should find prey there; but he had no clear
remembrance of the past: how indeed should it have lasted under a
wolf's skin? At those moments when he felt the impulse, he was always
also seized with unusual fierceness; but as soon as he came within a
thousand paces of the spot, a cold shudder passed through him and
compelled him to retire. This was the effect of the queen's magic art,
which enabled her to keep him banished from her to just that distance,
and no further.

She, however, did all in her power to destroy him, and caused her
attendants to hunt very frequently in the forest which surrounded the
castle, thinking that it was most probable that he was still there. On
this account, twice in almost every week, she caused noisy hunts and
battues after wolves and foxes to be held there; and, as a pretext for
these, she kept a great many pretty deer there, of which our royal
wolf did not fail to devour as many as he could catch. He, however,
always contrived to escape the danger, although the dogs often had
their claws in the hair of his back, and the hunters aimed many a shot
at him. He concealed himself for the moment, and when the noise ceased
and the bugles no longer resounded, he returned to the thicket, which
was close to the castle, and lay in the sunny spots where, as a boy
and youth, he had often played. Still he knew nothing of the past, but
it was a mysterious love that drew him thither.

The Princess Aurora as we have said had flown up into a tree, being
transformed into a nightingale. But her soul had not become dark
beneath its light feathery garb, like the prince's within the wolf's
hide; and she knew much more than he, both of her own self and of men,
only she was deprived of the power of speech. But she sang all the
more sweetly in her solitude, and often so beautifully, that the
beasts skipped and leaped with delight, and the birds gathered round
her, and the trees and flowers rustled and bent their heads. I think
the very stones might have danced had they but had the power to love,
but their hearts were too cold. Men would soon have remarked the
little bird, and much talk would have arisen about her, but some
secret power withheld them from entering the wood, so that they never
heard the nightingale sing.

I have already related how the queen persecuted the poor royal wolf
with hunts and battues, so that he was the innocent cause of great
trouble and inconvenience to the whole wolvine family. As great evil
too befel the little birds, and in those days of tyranny, it was a
great misfortune to be born either a thrush, a linnet, or a
nightingale, in the neighbourhood of the castle. For the queen, after
the death of the king had thrown all the power into her own hands,
suddenly pretended to have an illness of so peculiar a kind, that not
only were the cries, cawing, and chattering of birds of prey
insupportable to her, but even the sweetest twittering and warbling of
the merry little birds affected her unpleasantly; and in order to make
people believe this, she fainted on two occasions when she heard them

This, however, was only a deception; her wicked aim was to kill the
little nightingale, if by chance it should still frequent those groves
and gardens. She knew full well that the little bird could not
approach within a hundred paces of the castle, for she had cast her
witch-spell upon her, as well as upon her brother. Under the pretext
of this nervous sensibility to tender and delicate sounds, war was
waged, not only against the pretty little royal nightingale, but
against all the warblers in the vicinity. They were all proscribed and
outlawed, and the queen's foresters and gamekeepers received the
strictest orders to wage war against every feathered creature, and not
to spare even the robin: no, nor the wren, at whom no sportsman ever
before fired shot.

This terrible hatred of the queen's was a misfortune for the whole
feathered race, not only for those which lived at large in the woods
and groves, but even for those which were kept in the court-yards and
houses. No feathered creature was to be found in the capital city,
nor in the vicinity of the royal residence; for the people thought to
pay court to the queen, and to win her favour, by imitating her
caprices. There was a destruction of the feathered tribe, like another
slaughter of the innocents. How many thousand canaries, goldfinches,
linnets, and nightingales; nay, even how many parrots and cockatoos,
from the East and West Indies, had their necks wrung! Discordant, or
melodious throats, the chattering, and the silent, were all menaced
with one fate; it became a crime to be born either a goose, or a
turkey, or a hen; and the common domestic fowls grew as scarce as
Chinese golden pheasants. If the queen had waged such war against the
feathered race for another ten years, they would have quite died out
of the country. Indeed, not only were all the birds murdered, but
scarcely did a human being now take a walk in the wood, for fear of
being suspected of going thither in hopes to hear the song of a bird.

And thus it was, that no one ever heard the wondrous song of the
little nightingale, except here and there a solitary sportsman, and
these never spoke of it, lest they should be punished by the queen for
not having shot it. And indeed, to the honour of the foresters it must
be said, that most of them followed their own good disposition, and
seldom shot any little bird, but they were obliged to fire through the
forest till it rang again. And this prevented any singing, and indeed
many birds withdrew from it altogether, on account of the incessant
noise, and never returned. The little nightingale, however, whom
heaven especially protected, so that she escaped all the plots against
her life, could not forsake the green forest behind the castle, where,
in her childhood, she had played, and skipped about, so that although
she flew away as soon as the bugles sounded, and the halloos and
hurrahs echoed through the wood, she always returned again. And
although her little songs, as coming from a sad heart, were, for the
most part, melancholy and plaintive, still it was pleasing to her to
live so amongst the green trees, and gay flowers, and to sing
something sweet to the moon and stars; and she was unhappy only during
a few months in the year. This was the season when autumn approached,
and she was obliged to go with the other nightingales into foreign
climes until the return of spring.

The little feathered princess confined herself then mostly to the
trees and meadows where she had sported as a child; or in later years,
with companions of her own age, had twined wreaths and garlands; or
in the happiest days of her life, had wandered in those solitudes with
her beloved. Her favourite haunt was a spot where grew a thick green
oak, which spread over a murmuring rivulet, and which served as a
covert for the soft whispers of their love. In this place she often
saw the wolf, who was also led thither by a dim feeling of the past,
but she knew not that it was her unfortunate brother. Yet she grew
attached to him, because he so often lay down and listened to her song
as though he understood it; and she often pitied him for being a harsh
and wild wolf, that could not flutter from bough to bough, like
herself and other little birds. But now I must also tell of a man,
who, in that solitary forest, was often a listener to the little
nightingale. This man was the eastern prince, her destined bridegroom
when she was yet a princess.

Whilst the old king yet lived, he loved this prince beyond all other
men, because of his virtues and valour, and on his death-bed had
recommended him to the queen as her counsellor and helper in all
difficulties and dangers, and especially as a brave and experienced
warrior. On this account, after the king's death, he had remained
about the queen, solely for love of the departed. But he soon
perceived that the queen hated him, and was even plotting against his
life, so he suddenly withdrew from her court, and left the country.
She, however, caused him to be pursued as a traitor and a fugitive,
and sent forth a decree, proclaiming him an outlaw, by which every one
was empowered to slay him, and bring his head, on which a high price
was set, to the royal castle. But he escaped to his father's land,
which lay many hundred miles to the east of the queen's palace, and
there dwelt with him. Still in his heart, he found no rest, and his
grief for his vanished princess never subsided. A wonderful thing also
came upon him, for once every year he disappeared, without any one
being able to discover whither he went. He then saddled his horse,
clad himself in obscure-looking armour, and rode off so that no one
could trace his path. He felt himself impelled to enter the country of
the queen who had outlawed him, and to visit that forest wherein the
princess had disappeared. This powerful impulse seized him annually,
just before the time when the princess had vanished, and he rode
through wild, desolate, and remote places, until he reached the
well-known spots, where he had once wandered with his betrothed. The
green oak by the rivulet, was also his favourite place. There he
passed fourteen nights in tears, and prayers, and lamentations for
his beloved; by day, however, he concealed himself in the neighbouring
thicket. There he had often seen and heard the little nightingale, and
taken delight in her wonderful, and almost bird-surpassing song.

Yet they knew nought of each other; and although the little bird
always felt sadness, and longing in her heart, when the knight had
ridden away, still she knew not wherefore, and her deep and
languishing Tin! Tin! still resounded in his heart when he had
returned to his father-land. It was, however, with him, as with most
other men who love, or do something mysterious, which puzzles all
around them, he was not conscious of his own secret. That he was
impelled each year to ride stealthily away he knew full well--but
wherefore he was so impelled, he knew not at all.

Now a long time had passed since the death of the king, and it was
already the sixth year since the royal children had disappeared, and
the queen lived in splendour and enjoyments, and caused the beasts to
be hunted, and the birds to be shot, and was no less harsh and cruel
to her subjects than to the wild inhabitants of the woods. She fancied
herself almost omnipotent, and thought her good fortune and power
would have no end. Still, ever since that day, she had never entered
the forest, a secret terror had always withheld her. She, however, did
not allow herself to dwell upon it, nor did she perceive that a magic
spell was the real cause.

Now it came to pass that she had appointed a grand festival and
banquet, to which were invited all the princes and princesses of the
kingdom, and all the nobles and all the principal officials. In the
afternoon a grand wolf hunt was to take place in the forest, at which
the princes intreated her to be present. She hesitated a long while
under all kinds of pretences, but at last she allowed herself to be
persuaded. She, however, placed herself in a very high chariot, and
bade three of her bravest warriors, completely armed, to seat
themselves beside her. She also commanded several hundred armed
outriders to keep before and behind and by the side of the chariot,
and a long train of carriages, full of lords and ladies, followed. The
wolf was never out of her thoughts, but she said to herself: "Let the
wolf come; nay, let a hundred wolves even come, this brave company
will soon make an end of them." Thus does providence blind even the
most far-seeing and cunning when they are ripe for punishment; for it
had been foretold to her by other masters of her godless art, that she
must beware of the sixth year. But of that she thought not then.

And it was a fair and cheerful spring day, and they went out into the
forests with trumpets and horns, and the steeds neighed and the arms
clashed, and the naked swords and spears glittered in the sun; but the
queen outshone them all in her most splendid attire and all her
jewels, as she sat enthroned in her high chariot. Already the chase
had commenced with loud huzzas and hurrahs, and the clanging horns of
the hunters and the baying of the dogs. Then a lion rushed before
them followed by a boar; but they did not fear, and every man stood
firm at his post, and they struck down the monsters. But ere long came
a still more dreadful beast, which filled them all with alarm. A
tremendous wolf rushed from the thicket upon the green plain, and
howled so awfully, that hunters, dogs, and riders, all took flight.
The wolf ran like an arrow from a bow; nay, he did not run, but flew
between the men and horses, and not one of these remembered that he
was armed with a bow, and a spear, and a sword, so dreadful was the
aspect of the monster, and so terrifically did he open his foaming
jaws. The queen, who saw him making towards her chariot, shrieked
"Help! help!" The women screamed and fainted, many a man cowardly did
the same. No one thought of obstructing the wolf's course, and with
one spring, he threw himself on the chariot, tore from it the proud
woman, and dyed his teeth and jaws in her blood. All the rest had
fled, or stood at bay.

And oh, wonder! when they endeavoured to rally their courage in order
to attack, the wolf was no more to be seen, but where he had just
stood appeared the form of a handsome and armed young man! The men
were astonished at the magic change, but some brandished their weapons
as though they would attack him as a second monster. Then suddenly an
ancient lord came forward from among them, the chancellor of the
kingdom, and forbade them, crying aloud, "By my grey hairs I charge
you, men, hold off! You know not whom you would strike;" and before
they could collect their thoughts he lay prostrate on the ground
before the young man and kissed his knees and hands, saying, "Welcome,
thou noble blossom of a noble sire, who again art risen in thy beauty!
And rejoice, oh nation; the son of thy lawful king is returned, and he
is now your king!"

At these words many hastened round and recognised the prince, and
hailed him as their lord, and then the rest followed their example.
They were full of terror, and astonishment, and joy, all at once, and
thought no more of the demolished queen nor of the wolf; for that the
prince had been the wolf they had no idea.

The young king desired them all to follow him to his father's castle;
he also stopped the chase, and the horns and trumpets which just
before had disturbed the woods, now resounded before him to celebrate
his happy return. And when again he was within, and looked down from
his father's turrets, tears filled his eyes, and he wept both in joy
and sorrow; for he remembered now all his trouble and thought of the
bitter past, which lay upon him like a heavy dream. Then suddenly all
grew clear in his mind, and he was able to relate to the chancellor
and the nobles of the kingdom what had befallen him, and that only by
the heart's blood of the old wicked witch, who was called his
step-mother and their queen, could he be restored to his own form. The
report of this astonishing wonder immediately circulated through the
city and amongst the whole nation; and they all rejoiced that their
beloved king's son was restored to them, and that the queen, whom they
hated, had been torn in pieces by the fangs of the wolf which she
herself had created.

But as the prince gradually came to himself, and bethought himself of
all that had occurred, it lay heavy on his heart where his beloved
sister, the Princess Aurora, might be, and whether she also were
concealed within the skin of some animal, or feathery covering. Then
he remembered her melancholy bridal day. And he enquired of every one
about her; but all were silent, for none could give him any
information. Then he again became sad and full of care, but this care
and sadness were soon changed into joy.

For when all the noise of the wolf-chase took place, the poor prince
from the East was just then lying concealed in his thicket, and the
charming little nightingale was silent, and hidden amongst the green
leaves of her oak. But a mysterious sensation shot through her little
heart as soon as the thirsty fangs of the wolf, her brother, were
bathed in the queen's blood.

Now when the chase was over, and the forest again was still, and the
sun had set, the prince came out of his dark recess, and leant sadly
against the stem of the green oak, wetting the grass with his tears,
as was his nightly custom; and his heart seemed more than usually
oppressed with sorrow. The little bird in the branches, however, began
to sing to him, as was her wont, and he fancied that she sang
differently from before, and with more enigmatical significance, and
almost in a human voice. And a shudder came over him, and in great
agitation he exclaimed, looking up amongst the branches:--"Little
bird, little bird, tell me, canst thou speak?"

And the little nightingale answered yes, just as human beings are wont
to answer, and wondered at herself that she was able to speak, and
for joy she began to weep, and for a long time was silent. Then again
she opened her little beak, and related to the man, in an audible
human voice, the whole history of her transformation, and that of her
brother, and by what a miracle he had again become a man. For in a
moment all had become clear in her mind, as if a spirit had whispered
it all to her.

The man exulted in his heart when he heard her tale, and he reflected
much within him, and revolved many a plan; and the little bird
frolicked and flew confidingly around him; yet although she now knew
her own history, and what had occurred so well, she knew not in the
least who he was. And he enticed the little bird, and caressed it, and
fondled it, and intreated it to come with him, and he would place it
in a garden where bloomed eternal spring, and where no falcon ever
entered, and no one ever fired a shot. That would be far pleasanter
than to flutter about in wild thickets, and have to tremble at the
thought of winter, and of hunters and birds of prey. But the little
bird would hear nothing of it, and praised freedom and her green oak,
and twittered, and sang, and fluttered round the man, who took no
heed, for he seemed plunged in other thoughts.

But see what were his thoughts! For before the little bird was aware,
the man had caught her by her little feet, and hastily made off, threw
himself on his horse, and flew full gallop as if pursued by a tempest
to an inn which he knew in the city, not far from the castle, took
there a solitary chamber, and shut himself up in it with his little
bird. When the little bird saw him take out the key, and give other
signs of its being her prison, she began to weep bitterly, and to
implore him to let her fly; for she felt quite oppressed and wretched
in the closed room, and could not but think of her green trees, and
her cherished liberty. But the man took no notice of her tears and
supplications, and would not let her fly.

Then the little bird grew angry, and began to transform herself into
various shapes, in order to terrify the man, that he might open the
doors and windows, and be glad that she should fly away. So she became
in succession a tiger and lion, an otter, a snake, a scorpion, a
tarantula, and at last a frightful dragon, which flew upon the man
with poisonous tongue. But none of these frightened him in the least,
but he kept his determination, and the little bird had all her trouble
for nothing, and was obliged to become a bird again.

And the man stood in deep thought, for something he had read in
ancient tales came into his mind. So he drew a knife from his pocket,
and cut a gash in the little finger of his left hand, where the
heart's blood flows most vigorously. And he smeared the blood on the
little head and body of the bird, which he had no sooner done than the
miracle was completed.

That very moment the little bird became a most lovely maiden, and the
prince lay at her feet and kissed her hand, respectfully and
submissively. The nightingale had now become the Princess Aurora, and
recognised in the man her bridegroom, the prince from the land of the
East. She was quite as young and beautiful as she was six years
before, at the time of her transformation. For it is a peculiarity of
transformations that the years during which persons are transformed do
not add to their age, but a thousand years do not count for more than
a second.

It is easy to imagine the joy of the pair; for when two loving hearts
which have remained faithful to each other, meet again, after a long
time, that is truly the greatest joy on earth. But they did not linger
long together, but caused the king to be informed that two foreign
princes from a distant land had arrived at his court, and requested
his royal hospitality. Then the king went out to welcome them, and
recognised his beloved sister Aurora, and his dear friend the prince
from the land of the East, and was overjoyed; and the nation rejoiced
with him, that all was restored as before, and that the kingdom no
longer belonged to strangers.

After a few days he set the royal crown upon his head, and began to
govern in his father's stead. He celebrated his sister's nuptials with
the greatest magnificence, and there was dancing and feasting and
knightly games. She and the prince also received from him a noble
establishment both of land and attendants, so that they were able to
live almost like kings. Aurora had, however, begged her brother to
give her the wood, wherein as a bird she had fluttered through so many
cheerful, and also sorrowful days, and this he willingly granted her.
She built there a stately royal castle by the stream where she had so
often sat and sung, and the thick green oak came into the centre of
the palace-garden, and flourished yet many a year after her, so that
her posterity still played beneath its shadow. She, however, caused a
command to be issued that the wood should to all times be left in its
natural majesty; she also gave peace to all little singing-birds, and
forbade, in the strongest manner, traps or snares to be set within
those sacred precincts, or that the little creatures should be
molested in any way. And her brother reigned as a great and pious
king, and she and her brave husband lived in happy love till they
arrived at a snow-white age, and saw their children's children around
them, till at length, accompanied by the blessing of God and men, they
sank softly to sleep. It has been a custom ever since, amongst their
children and descendants, that the eldest prince of their house should
be christened Rossignol, and the eldest princess Philomela; for she
desired to establish a pious recollection through all times of the
marvellous misfortune that befel her when she was transformed into a
nightingale. For Rossignol means, in fact, Rose-bird--the nightingales
sing chiefly in the rose season--and Philomela, friend of song. The
word nightingale means, however, songstress of the night, and this is
the best of all.

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