This is a chapter of Evergreen Stories by W. M. L. Hutchinson. It includes the following stories: King Midas and His Strange Adventures — Alcestis, the Noble Wife — The Real Helen — Cupid and Psyche — The Vision of Er — Circe, the Island Witch — Bellerophon, the Rider of Pegasus — How Theseus Slew the Minotaur — The Story of Pheidippides — The Story of Solon, Croesus, and Cyrus
Circe, the Island Witch has the following chapters: 1. Odysseus and His Men Arrive at Aeaea | 2. Eurylochus Returns with Frightening News | 3. Odysseus Gets Help from Hermes | 4. Odysseus Confronts Circe | 5. Circe Surrenders to Odysseus | 6. How Circe Entertained Odysseus and His Men
And now began a pleasant time for these worn and weary mariners. Lodged and fed like princes in the house of Circe, they lived idle and secure, instead of toiling at the oar and encountering continual perils from the savage seas and the yet more savage inhabitants of the coasts they touched upon. By day they could amuse themselves with hunting the deer, which abounded in the island; at nightfall came the banquet, with Circe playing the gracious hostess, and her train of wood fays —she had many besides the four that Odysseus saw at first— deftly serving the guests. And when the meal ended, the men lay reclined, each with a golden wine cup beside him, which those lovely handmaids kept ever brimming — then Circe would delight them with her singing or with some wonderful tale. Although she sang divinely, they liked the stories best, as is the way with sailors; this she quickly saw, and thereafter told them a new one every night.
It seemed that she knew all the stories in the world — tales of the gods, adventures of heroes, and marvels to be seen in far countries. Odysseus, who was himself a great storyteller, professed to have heard many of Circe’s tales before, but he listened to them as eagerly as his crew for all that.
Sometimes, however, he would begin to fidget a little; then she would say, smiling: “Now it is your turn, Odysseus. Let us hear one of your adventures at Troy.”
And he would tell about the wooden horse, or some stratagem or night raid of his own, which his men had heard a hundred times; but they did not mind, for he told it differently every time and always with the greatest liveliness. Even Eurylochus owned that to hear the captain tell a story was like seeing the thing happen with your own eyes — though he would add: “Not that I believe half the things did happen that he boasts about.”
In this manner of life, weeks and months slipped by before the crew began to think of home; Odysseus seemed as contented as they were not without reason, for the island witch grew ever more gracious to him, and all the riches and pleasures of her palace were his to command.
She left nothing undone to please him; to all appearance, he was lord of herself and her house. But he soon found that he was not master of one thing — and that was his liberty, for Circe never let him out of her sight. If he wished to go hunting with his comrades, she must be of the party; if he stole out alone, she would suddenly meet him, smiling inscrutably, with those tame wolves and panthers following dog-like at her heels.
No words passed between them on the matter; after a while, Odysseus took to staying indoors. His comrades rallied him now and then on his laziness; he answered lightly that he had earned a long rest. A very patient man, he sat day after day in Circe’s hall, watching her shuttle go flashing through the loom — and waited…
And always, at night, she told her stories. One or two of them are set down in this book, but it would take many books to hold them all, and not half of them have come down to later ages from that far springtime of the world when they were already old.