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Alfred de Musset (1810–1857). The Story of a White Blackbird.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.

Chapter XI

THEREUPON I flew away, still weeping; and the wind, which is the good or ill luck of birds, carried me to a branch in Morfontaine. This time, every one had gone to bed.—“What a marriage!” said I to myself. “What a trick! The poor child certainly whitened herself with the best of intentions; but I am none the less to be pitied, nor is her color less rusty.”

The nightingale was still singing. Alone, in the deep night, he was enjoying with all his heart that gift of God which makes him so superior to poets, and was expressing himself freely to the surrounding silence. I could not resist the temptation of going to speak to him.

“How fortunate you are!” I said: “Not only have you the privilege of singing all you like, and finely too, and every one listens; but you have a wife and children, a nest, and friends, a good pillow made of moss, a full moon, and no newspapers. Rubini and Rossini are nothing, compared to you: you are the equal of the one and you foretell the other. I too have sung, Monsieur, and it was pitiful. I arranged words in battle array like Prussian soldiers, and I was stringing my foolishness together while you were here in the woods. Can you teach your secret?”

“Yes,” replied the nightingale, “but it is not what you think. My wife bores me, and I do not love her; I am in love with the rose: Sadi, the Persian poet wrote about it. All night long I sing my best for her, but she sleeps and does not hear me. Her calyx is closed now, and she is cradling an old beetle in it,—and tomorrow morning, when I have gone back to bed, worn out with suffering and fatigue, she will open, and let some bee suck from her very heart!”