High above the city, on a tall column, stood the statue of the Happy Prince. He was gilded all over with thin leaves of fine gold; for eyes he had two bright sapphires, and a large red ruby glowed on his sword-hilt.
He was very much admired indeed.
One day, a swallow met the Prince. He had not gone to Egypt for the winter with his flock because he was in love with a beautiful reed on the river. But when he asked her to marry him, the reed had answered that would not leave her place and would not marry him. The swallow had decided to go to Egypt and flew over the city where the Happy Prince was. He went to sleep at the Prince’s feet. Strangely enough he got wet, but it wasn’t raining.
The Happy Prince’s tears were falling on the bird.
The Happy Prince in reality had never experienced true sorrow, for he had lived in a palace where sorrow wasn't allowed to enter. But when he became a statue, from his tall monument, he could see scenes of people suffering in poverty.
The Happy Prince asked the swallow to take the ruby from his hilt, the sapphires from his eyes, and the golden leaf covering his body to give to the poor.
The swallow wanted to leave and reach his flock to Egypt where his friends were enjoying a wonderful weather and flying on the Pyramids and the Sphinx, but he helped the Prince. So he stayed and took out his precious stones and his golden leaves to bring them to people in need such as a mum with an ill child who could otherwise not save him, a writer who had no money to eat and could die from hunger, a little girl whose matches had become wet and she could not sell them. Her father would beat her if she would return home with no money.
Since the Prince had become blind for having given his beautiful sapphires, the swallow wanted to remain to help him and did not go to Egypt.
One cold winter morning, the swallow understood that he was going to die for the cold.
He had just strength to fly up to the Prince’s shoulder once more. “Good-bye, dear Prince!” he murmured, “will you let me kiss your hand?”
“I am glad that you are going to Egypt at last, little Swallow,” said the Prince, “you have stayed too long here; but you must kiss me on the lips, for I love you.”
“It is not to Egypt that I am going,” said the Swallow. “I am going to the House of Death. Death is the brother of Sleep, is he not?”
And he kissed the Happy Prince on the lips, and fell down dead at his feet.
At that moment a curious crack sounded inside the statue, as if something had broken. The fact is that the leaden heart had snapped right in two.
The Mayor of the town didn’t want to keep the statue of the Happy Prince because with no gold and precious stones, it did not look nice as before. So, the statue was brought down from the pillar and melted in a furnace. But its broken heart did not melt.
“What a strange thing!” said the overseer of the workmen at the foundry. “This broken lead heart will not melt in the furnace. We must throw it away.” So they threw it on a dust-heap where the dead Swallow was also lying.
These were taken up to heaven by an angel that had deemed them the two most precious things in the city. This was affirmed by God and they live forever in the garden of paradise....