Whatever happened to the Little Kitchen Girl?

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Whatever happened to the Little Kitchen Girl?

Hans Christian Andersen wrote "The Nightingale" and I always wondered what happened to the little girl in the story, so I did this painting called “Nightingale Girl” and thought about it.

__ There was a great inquiry after the wonderful Nightingale, which all the world knew excepting the people at the imperial court.

__ At last a poor little girl in the palace kitchen, said,
"The Nightingale? I know it well; it can sing gloriously. Every evening I get leave to carry my poor sick mother the scraps from the table. When I get back and rest in the wood, then I hear the Nightingale sing. And then water comes into my eyes, and it just as if my mother kissed me!"

__ "Little Kitchen Girl," said the Emperor's Lord-In-Waiting, "I will get you a place in the kitchen, with permission to see the Emperor dine, if you will lead us to the Nightingale, for it is announced for this evening."

__ So the little girl led the way out into the wood; half the court went forth where the Nightingale was accustomed to sing. And the child pointed at last to a little brown-gray bird up in the boughs.

__ "Little Nightingale," called the Kitchen Girl, "our gracious Emperor wishes you to sing before him."

__ "With the greatest pleasure!" replied the Nightingale, "Though my song sounds best in the greenwood!" Still it came willingly when it heard what the Emperor wished.

__ In the midst of the great hall, where the Emperor sat, a golden perch had been placed, on which the Nightingale was to sit. The little kitchen-girl had received permission to stand behind the door to watch. All were in full dress, and all looked at the little bird, to which the emperor nodded.

__ The Nightingale sang so gloriously that the tears came into the Emperor's eyes, and the tears ran down over his cheeks; and then the Nightingale sang still more sweetly, that went straight to the heart. The Emperor was very much pleased.

(This is where I embellished the story to tell more about the fate of the little kitchen girl...)

__ The Emperor called for the kitchen-girl to come forward. She came from her hiding place and knelt, bowed to the floor, and waited. He commanded her to rise and state her name.

__ "Here at the palace kitchen I am called Little-Bucket," the girl said. All at court began to laugh, but the Emperor silenced them instantly with a raised hand and arched brow.

__ Kindly then, he asked her about her stunning crimson robe and learned that Little-Bucket's mother had made and embroidered the robe years ago when she worked as seamstress for the Emperor's first daughter, Ping Mei. The princess had graciously given the robe to Little-Bucket on this night to wear at court.

__ The Emperor summoned the doctor and ordered him to go at once to heal the little girl's mother and bring the woman to the palace to live.

__ Turning back to the girl he said, "Today, little one, your humble, helpful sweetness has impressed me so greatly that I will bestow upon you a beautiful new name, in order for all to know that you please me." Then the Emperor himself stood up from the throne and raised his voice saying, "Because you, with your lantern, brought the Nightingale to me, you shall be called Liang Liang (Brightest-Bright) forever more!"