When the nightingale hears the boy speaking of his need for a red rose, she immediately decides to help him. First of all, she flies to the centre of the grass plot to a rose tree. She asks the tree to give her a red rose but it says it cannot because it only grows white roses. On the suggestion of this tree, she flies to another but, once again, she is disappointed: this tree only grows yellow roses. There is, however, another rose tree underneath the boy's window which the nightingale flies to next. Fortunately, this is a red rose tree but it has no flowers because of the bad weather, as it explains to the nightingale:
But the winter has chilled my veins, and the frost has nipped my buds, and the storm has broken my branches.
Undeterred, the nightingale begs for a solution and the rose tree replies that there is a way but that it is "terrible:"
All night long you must sing to me, and the thorn must pierce your heart, and your life-blood must flow into my veins.
In other words, the nightingale must sing her song while a rose thorn pierces her heart. Only when she dies will the rose tree produce the red rose which she desires. While the nightingale believes that death is a "great price to pay", she decides that the boy's love is worth such a sacrifice. That night, she perches on a branch of the rose tree and sings until the thorn pierces her heart and kills her. In return, her wish is granted and a red rose blossoms on the tree.