The Wolf And The Nightingale

: Polish
: 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 h
r 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.