ONCE upon a time lived a
poor prince; his kingdom was very small, but it was large enough to
enable him to marry, and marry he would. It was rather bold of him
that he went and asked the emperor’s daughter: “Will you marry me?”
but he ventured to do so, for his name was known far and wide, and
there were hundreds of princesses who would have gladly accepted
him, but would she do so? Now we shall see.
On the grave of the prince’s father grew a rose-tree, the most
beautiful of its kind. It bloomed only once in five years, and then
it had only one single rose upon it, but what a rose! It had such a
sweet scent that one instantly forgot all sorrow and grief when one
smelt it. He had also a nightingale, which could sing as if every
sweet melody was in its throat. This rose and the nightingale he
wished to give to the princess; and therefore both were put into big
silver cases and sent to her.
The emperor ordered them to be carried into the great hall where
the princess was just playing “Visitors are coming” with her
ladies-in-waiting; when she saw the large cases with the presents
therein, she clapped her hands for joy.
“I wish it were a little pussy cat,” she said. But then the
rose-tree with the beautiful rose was unpacked.
“Oh, how nicely it is made,” exclaimed the ladies.
“It is more than nice,” said the emperor, “it is charming.”
The princess touched it and nearly began to cry.
“For shame, pa,” she said, “it is not artificial, it is natural!”
“For shame, it is natural” repeated all her ladies.
“Let us first see what the other case contains before we are
angry,” said the emperor; then the nightingale was taken out, and it
sang so beautifully that no one could possibly say anything unkind
“Superbe, charmant,” said the ladies of the court, for
they all prattled French, one worse than the other.
“How much the bird reminds me of the musical box of the late
lamented empress,” said an old courtier, “it has exactly the same
tone, the same execution.”