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
So poor Psyche was left alone, weeping and trembling, on the rocky mountaintop. But as she stood there, expecting with infinite terror the coming of the serpent, all of a sudden the West Wind, whom the gods call Zephyrus in their tongue, blew a soft gale that carried her off her feet and wafted her, buoyed up by her spreading mantle, gently down into a deep valley on the further side of the mountain. There he laid her in a bed of most sweet and fragrant flowers, and Psyche was no sooner couched so softly than she fell fast asleep; for she was tired out with grief, and had not slept a wink the night before.
When Psyche awoke, she rose up well refreshed and, though she knew not why, her mind was now full of peace and comfort. Then she saw at hand a wood of great and noble trees, through which ran a river as clear as crystal. And going a little way into the wood, she saw in the midst of it, beside a fall of the river, a stately house that she took at first for a king’s palace. But when she drew near and plucked up courage to enter —for the door stood wide open, and there was no one to be seen— then Psyche guessed that no mortal had built this dwelling, but that it was the pleasure house of some god or fairy.
For all the rooms had carved ceilings of ivory and citron wood, resting on golden pillars; the walls were paneled with silver; at all the doors golden lions, or bears, or leopards, stood rampant, wrought to the life, so that they seemed about to spring upon you. And all the floors were covered with a parquetry of precious stones of diverse colors, forming such exquisite patterns and pictures that a man might bless his good luck who set foot on so rare a pavement. But not only the floors, but all the wainscoting, cornices, doors, and furniture of the house, gave forth a light like sunshine, so richly they were inlaid with gems and pearl and gold. There were treasure chambers too, heaped with unimaginable wealth; but what seemed strangest of all to Psyche, they all lay open and unlocked, with never a bar or bolt to keep out thieves.
Now while she wandered from room to room, delighted with all she saw, a voice sounded in her ear; she turned quickly, but could see no one. Yet the voice spoke on:
“Mistress,” it said, “why do you marvel at these riches? Behold, all you see here is at your command. Be pleased to enter your bed chamber and repose yourself, and order your bath as you like it, whether warm or cold. For we, whose voices you will hear, are your servants, and ready to do your pleasure. And while you rest and bathe, we will prepare royal dainties for your supper.”
Then Psyche knew that some divine enchantment was at work; so first she rested awhile on the ivory bed. Then she took her bath and dressed herself in the gold-broidered white robe that was laid ready for her, casting aside her mourning garb. And then she saw a table set before her in the chamber, and a chair for her to sit in. And when she sat down in it, immediately all sorts of delicious dishes and choice wines were served to her in wondrous fashion, for each course was brought and removed by persons whom she could not see, though she heard their voices round her. After the last course, someone came in and sang, while a harper played on his harp; but still she saw no man in the room. Yet that symphony so thrilled in her ears that although she could see no one, it seemed as if she were among a crowd of listeners.
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When this sweet music ended, Psyche went to bed, for it was now night and she was weary. But she was afraid to sleep, for now it came into her mind that this was her wedding night and that this enchanted palace must belong to her husband the serpent. And presently, as she lay awake in the darkness, the bridegroom came; but no serpent was he, for he put arms about her, and whispered such tender words of love that she forgot her fears and sank into a dream of bliss. When she awoke, it was broad day, and she was alone in the chamber.