CHANTECLER [To the NIGHTINGALE, in a discouraged voice.] To sing! To sing! But how, after hearing the faultless crystal of your note, can I ever be satisfied again with the crude, brazen blare of mine?
But you must!
Shall I find it possible ever again to sing? My song, alas, must seem to
me always after this too brutal and too red!
I have sometimes thought that mine was too facile, perhaps, and too blue!
Oh, how can you humble yourself to make such a confession to me?
THE NIGHTINGALE You fought for a friend of mine, the Rose! Learn, comrade, this sorrowful and reassuring fact, that no one, Cock of the morning or evening Nightingale, has quite the song of his dreams!
[With passionate desire.] Oh, to be a sound that soothes and lulls!
To be a splendid call to duty!
I make nobody weep!
THE NIGHTINGALE I awaken nobody! [But after the expression of this regret, he continues in an ever higher and more lyrical voice.] What matter? One must sing on! Sing on, even while knowing that there are songs which he prefers to his own song. One must sing,—sing,—sing,—until—[A shot. A flash from the thicket. Brief silence, then a small, tawny body drops at CHANTECLER’S feet.]
CHANTECLER [Bending and looking.] The Nightingale!—The brutes! [And without noticing the vague, earliest tremour of daylight spreading through the air, he cries in a sob.] Killed! And he had sung such a little, little while! [One or two feathers slowly flutter down.]
CHANTECLER [Bending over the body which is shaken by a last throe.] Peace, little poet!
[Rustling of leaves and snapping of twigs; from a thicket projects PATOU’S shaggy head.]
The same, PATOU, emerging for a moment from the brush.
[To PATOU.] You! [Reproachfully.] You have come to get him?
[Ashamed.] Forgive me! The poacher compels me—
[Who had sprung before the body, to protect it, uncovers it.] A
PATOU [Hanging his head.] Yes. The evil race of man loves to shower lead into a singing tree.
See, the burying beetle has already come.
[Gently withdrawing.] I will make believe I found nothing.
[Watching the day break.] He has not noticed that night is nearly over.
CHANTECLER [Bending over the grasses which begin to stir about the dead bird.] Insect, where the body has fallen, be swift to come and open the earth. The funereal necrophaga are the only grave-diggers who never carry the dead elsewhere, believing that the least sad, and the most fitting tomb, is the very clay whereon one fell into the final sleep. [To the funeral insects, while the NIGHTINGALE begins gently to sink into the ground.] Piously dig his grave! Light lie the earth upon him!