“Why aren’t you like the Happy Prince?” mothers said to their little boys when they cried.
Sad men looked at the statue and said, “I am glad that someone in the world is happy.”
He landed between the feet of the Happy Prince. “I have a golden bedroom!” he thought. But as he put his head under his wing, a large drop of water fell on him.
He looked up. “That is very strange!” he thought. “There is not a cloud in the sky, but it is raining!”
Then another drop fell. “I cannot stay on a statue that does not keep me dry,” he thought. “I must find another place.” And he decided to fly away. But as he opened his wings, a third drop fell. He looked up and saw — Ah! What did he see?
“Then why are you crying? I am wet with your tears.”
“When I was alive,” said the prince, “I had a heart like every other man. But I did not know what tears were. I lived in a palace where there was no sadness. In the daytime I played with my friends in a beautiful garden, and in the evening I danced. There was a high wall round the garden. But I did not know what lay on the other side. So I was called the Happy Prince. I was pleased with my little world. Now I am dead, and they have put me up here. I can see all the unhappiness of my city. My heart now is made of a cheap metal. But even that poor heart can feel, and so I cry.”
“Far away from here,” said the Happy Prince in a low voice, “there is a poor house in a little street. Through an open window, I can see a woman at a table. Her face is very thin and she has rough, red hands. She is making a dress for one of the queen’s ladies, for a dance in the palace. Her little boy is lying on a bed in the corner of the room. He is very ill. He is crying because she can only give him water from the river. Little bird, will you take my red jewel to her? I cannot move from here.”
“My friends are waiting for me in Egypt,” said the bird.
The Happy Prince looked very sad, and the little bird was sorry for him. “It is very cold here,” he said, “but I will stay with you for one night. Tomorrow I will take the jewel.”
Thank you, little bird,” said the prince.
The bird passed over the river and flew and flew. At last he came to the poor little house and looked inside. The boy was lying on the bed. The mother was asleep; she was so tired. He flew in and put the great red jewel on the table. Then he flew round the bed, moving the air around the boys face with his wings.
“Oh,” said the boy, “my face does not feel so hot. I think I am getting better.” And he fell asleep.
Then the bird flew back to the Happy Prince. “It is strange,” the bird said. “It is very cold, but I feel quite warm.”
“That is because you have done a good thing,” said the prince. The little bird fell asleep.
“I will go to Egypt tonight,” thought the bird.
When the moon came up, he flew back to the Happy Prince.
“Can I do anything for you in Egypt?” he said.
“Little bird, little bird,” said the prince, “please will you stay with me for one more night?” “My friends are waiting for me,” answered the bird.
“Far away across the city,” said the prince, “I can see a young writer in a little room at the top of a house. He is sitting at a table that is covered with papers. At his side there are some dead flowers.
“I will wait with you for one more night,” said the bird kindly. “What shall I take to him?”
“Take him one of my eyes,” said the prince. “They are made of beautiful blue stones from India. The young man can sell it and buy wood and food. He can finish his story.”
“Take out your eye, dear prince?” said the bird. “I cannot do that!” And he began to cry. “Do it!” said the prince.
“Someone likes my stories!” he cried happily. “This is a gift from someone who has read my books. Now I can finish writing this story!”
“When the moon came up, he flew back to the Happy Prince. I have come to say goodbye to you,” he said.
“Little bird, little bird,” said the prince, “please will you stay with me for one more night?” “It is winter,” answered the bird. “The snow will soon come. In Egypt the sun is warm and the trees are green. Dear prince, I must leave you; but I will never forget you.”
“I will stay with you for one more night,” said the bird, “but I cannot take out your other eye. You will not be able to see!”
“Do it!” said the prince.
So the bird took out the prince’s other eye and flew down with it. He flew to the girl and put the jewel in her hand.
“This is a beautiful piece of glass!” cried the little girl. She ran home, laughing.
“No,” said the poor prince, “you must go to Egypt.”
“I will stay with you,” repeated the bird, and he slept at the prince’s feet.
The next day he stayed with the prince. He told the prince stories about the strange lands that he knew.
“Dear little bird,” said the prince, “you are telling me about strange and wonderful things, but the suffering of men and women is stranger than anything. Fly over my city, little bird. Tell me what you see there.”
Then the bird flew back and told the prince.
“I am covered with fine gold,” said the prince. “Take it off, piece by piece, and give it to my poor people.”
The bird pulled off the gold, until the Happy Prince looked grey and ugly. The bird took the gold to the poor, and the children’s faces became brighter. ” We have bread now!” they cried.
The little bird became colder. He did not leave the prince, because he loved him too much. But he was dying.
“Goodbye, dear prince!” he said. “Can I kiss you?”
“I am glad that you are going to Egypt,” said the prince. “You have stayed too long. Kiss me, because I love you.”
“I am not going to Egypt,” said the bird. “I am going to the House of Death.” He kissed the prince, and fell down dead at his feet. Then there was a strange sound inside the statue. CRACK – the metal heart broke into two pieces.
“Yes he does!” said the man’s friends.
“Here is a dead bird at his feet!” said the officer. “We must make an order that birds cannot die here.”
They pulled down the statue of the Happy Prince and put it in the fire. A stream of bright metal ran out.
“This is strange!” said the workmen. “This broken piece in the middle of the statue has stayed hard. We must throw it away.” So they threw it away with the dead bird.
“Yes, you have brought the right things,” God said. “This little bird will sing for ever in my garden, and the Happy Prince will stand in my city of gold.”