Once upon a time there was a dowdy bird which fell in love.
He began to sing with passionate fervour. The one he sang to
listened for awhile but showed no appreciation of the music and at last flew
away. The songbird immediately lost the power of singing and became convinced
that the one he loved was a monster who had deliberately stolen his song and
gone away to sell it.
He flew everywhere searching for traces of his song but since he
could not attract attention by singing, none of the other birds took any notice
of him and he could not get any news. They all thought him the dullest bird in
the world and he began to accept that they were right.
Then one day he was perched disconsolately on a dead twig in a
lonely wood when he heard a thrilling song carried urgently on the gentle tides
"That's mine!" he cried and flew wildly towards the sound.
He saw a small bird almost as dowdy as himself trilling away on
top of a silvery, green-leafed tree.
"Thief!" he called. "Bandit! Robber!" But the bird only raised
his head and went on trilling more loudly and sweetly than ever.
"Criminal! That's my song," he shrieked, beside himself with
At that moment a female bird poked her head out of a nearby nest
to see who was disturbing the peace.
"It's nothing like your song," this bird said. "If you think
that is your song you're either a megalomaniac or quite insensitive to music."
The songbird looked at her in astonishment and saw that this
impertinent creature was that treacherous beloved who had stolen his song from
him in the first place and sold it to this despicable skirler.
He opened his beak and flew down to attack her.
"Besides," said the female bird, dodging neatly, "you don't
deserve to have a song after what you did to me, and I wouldn't listen to you
even if you could sing it. Why did you desert me, you wretch?"
"Desert you!" said the songbird. "It was you who flew away. You
cared nothing for me and nothing for music. You stole my song and went off to
sell it to this villainous warbler."
"Don't be so silly," she said. "Stole it, indeed! What would I
want with a song? I've no time for singing. I've far too many other things to
do. It's plain that you have no idea of the meaning of what you were singing
when you sang to me, and I've a good mind not to bother to tell you."
A great bewilderment seized the songbird's heart. "I don't
understand," he said. "What was I singing? Please tell me."
"I don't see why I should," said the female bird, "but really
you're so ridiculous without a song that I suppose I must take pity on you.
Your song meant that I was to go away and make a nest and we were to live in it
and produce young ones. And then you cruelly and suddenly abandoned me, so I
had to find someone else, and here I am."
The songbird gazed at her in terrible distress and a song of joy
and sadness rose in his heart. "Forgive me!" he cried. "I will sing to you
again. I will sing more beautifully than before."
The female peaked at him sideways and then lowered her head with
a secret and enchanting look. "On one condition," she replied. "That you don't
in future attach more importance to your song than to what it is about."