The Happy Prince
In a town square stood a beautiful statue of the Happy Prince covered in fine gold leaves, with sapphires for eyes and a ruby on the hilt of his sword. The statue could see all the miseries and hardships of the city he once governed.
One day, a swallow heading to Egypt for the winter took shelter under the statue. The prince’s sapphire eyes were filled with tears, which fell on the swallow. Startled, the swallow asked the prince about his tears.
The Happy Prince told the swallow of the pain and suffering he could see in his city – a seamstress with a sick child, a struggling playwright, and many starving children. Even though he was rich and celebrated when alive, he never knew of these sorrows.
Deeply moved, the swallow agreed to help. He plucked the ruby from the prince’s sword and delivered it to the seamstress. On the prince’s orders, he distributed the gold leaves from the prince’s body to the poor of the city.
Winter fell, and the swallow knew he had to leave for Egypt. But he chose to stay with the prince, who was now stripped bare of all his gold. The swallow kissed the prince’s lips and fell down dead at his feet from the cold.
At the same moment, the lead heart of the prince cracked in two. The next day, the town mayor noticed the ugly bare statue and the dead bird. He ordered the statue to be pulled down and melted to make a new one of himself.
The leaden heart of the Happy Prince and the dead swallow, however, were thrown into a dust heap. But God, in Heaven, commanded his angels to bring him the two most precious things in the city. And they brought him the leaden heart and the dead bird.