A nightingale overhears a student complaining that the professor's daughter will not dance with him, as he is unable to give her a red rose. The nightingale visits all the rose-trees in the garden, and one of the roses tells her there is a way to produce a red rose, but only if the nightingale is prepared to sing the sweetest song for the rose all night with her heart pressing into a thorn, sacrificing her life. Seeing the student in tears, and valuing his human life above her bird life, the nightingale carries out the ritual. She impales herself on the rose-tree's thorn so that her heart's blood can stain the rose. The student takes the rose to the professor's daughter, but she again rejects him because another man has sent her some real jewels and "everybody knows that jewels cost far more than flowers." The student angrily throws the rose into the gutter, returns to his study of metaphysics, and decides not to believe in true love anymore.