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
“What is this outlandish cap,” said one of his tavern friends to the chief butler, “that the king has taken to wearing?”
“What is it? Why, it is a cap, to be sure,” replied he, testily. “Other men wear caps, I believe. Cannot the king wear one, but all the idle tongues in the city must begin wagging?”
“Nay, be not offended, good sir,” said the townsman laughing; “but when he wears one of a fashion never yet seen in this country, it is enough to set folks talking.”
“Especially,” put in the tavern keeper, “as it is said he wears it night and day. When I heard that, I said to these honest gentlemen, ‘The worthy chief butler is the man to read us this riddle.'”
“Riddle? There is none to read, I tell you,” cried the chief butler, with irritation. “Here is much ado about a piece of headgear! One would think the king had got the cap of darkness, like Perseus in the old tale, by the way you talk. I daresay, now, you have never seen this cap you make such a clatter about.”
“That we have,” said the townsman who had first spoken, “and I can describe it to you. It is a high cap of soft felt, tapering upwards into a peak that curls over a little in front, fitting close to the head, and completely covering the ears.”
The chief butler fidgeted in his seat.
“Well,” he snapped, “what is there so marvelous in that? It has pleased the king to invent a new shape of cap; and I say, it is a handsome shape and convenient wear for all weathers; and as for your calling it outlandish, you will see it worn shortly by every man in Phrygia, if they are not all asses.” He seemed to choke upon the word… “But I have no more time for idle chat,” he added hastily, “so good day to you, my friends.” And he marched out majestically.
“What has ruffled him this morning?” said one of the company.
“He loves gossiping as he loves tippling, but today he seems in no humor for either.”
“It is his conceit,” said the tavern keeper. “Since the king took him into such favor there is no bearing with it. A beggar on horseback, my masters!”
“I wish I had asked him,” said a young townsman, “if it is true that the king never takes off that cap.”
“Well, old pomposity could tell you that for certain,” said the tavern keeper, laughing. “The king has made him his barber, you know. Next time he comes, we will ask him if his master is shaved with his cap on.”