The Emperor of China has a wonderful porcelain palace and a garden that goes on for miles. The garden leads to a great forest, in which a nightingale lives.
One day the emperor reads about the nightingale and is surprised, for he has never seen the nightingale himself. He orders that the nightingale is brought to him
A kitchen maid leads the Emperor’s servants to where the bird can be found. They are surprised that the bird is so small, but when she sings for the Emperor he is moved to tears.
The nightingale was to live in the palace so that the Emperor can continue hearing her song. However, the Emperor receives a clockwork golden nightingale as a gift. It also sings well. The real nightingale flies back to the wood.
The Emperor listens to it so much that it broke down. Soon the Emperor falls ill. He calls out for music, but there is nobody to repair the clockwork nightingale.
The real nightingale returns and she sang for the Emperor. She sings to him about the people in the empire, he becomes a more informed and better Emperor.