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 — Odysseus in the Land of Shadows — Heracles and the Poisoned Robe | The Story of Pheidippides — The Story of Solon, Croesus, and Cyrus
King Midas and His Strange Adventures has the following chapters: 1. King Midas’s Unexpected Guest | 2. King Midas Meets Silenus | 3. King Midas Charmed by Silenus | 4. King Midas Receives His Famous Reward from Bacchus | 5. King Midas Tastes His Prize | 6. King Midas’s Dream | 7. King Midas’s Butler’s Conjectures | 8. King Midas’s Disdain for Gold | 9. King Midas’s Judgment | 10. King Midas’s Asses’ Ears | 11. King Midas’s Butler’s Secret
Sleep, the merciful, came over the exhausted king; and as he slept, he dreamed a dream. He dreamed he was standing on the grassy bank of the river Pactolus, near his city, and looking with longing and despair at the cool, flowing water. Suddenly, a voice hailed him from across the stream; he looked and saw Silenus sitting on the opposite bank, dabbling his bare feet in a shallow, and gravely regarding him.
And he stretched out his arms to Silenus and, bursting into tears, besought him to have pity on him and take away the gift of Bacchus, ere it destroyed him.
“It is an old and true saying,” answered Silenus, “that the gods themselves cannot recall their gifts. And another, that men’s greatest misery comes oftentimes from their granted prayers. Alas, what purblind fools are the short-lived race of mortals.”
“Is there no help, no mercy for me?” cried Midas. “Better a swift death, then” — and he unsheathed his dagger.
“Tarry, king!” said Silenus. “There is a way — and I am come to show it you. For I think you have learned your lesson, and I am much beholden to you for that noble wine of yours. Plunge into the river, Midas, and you shall live to quaff many another cup of it, though water will serve your turn this once.”
At that, Midas leaped into the river, dressed as he was, and sank head over ears in a deep pool. He came up gasping, his mouth full of —ah, blessed relief, heavenly joy!— his mouth full of water. As its delicious coolness slid down his parched throat, the king awoke… to find himself lying on his couch, in his palace hall, now bright with morning sunshine.
Midas rubbed his eyes and sat up. He felt refreshed; no longer thirsty, but exceedingly hungry. There was food set ready to his hand, he saw — but at a second glance, the events of the night rushed back upon his mind, and he turned away, shuddering.
What had been bread, or fruits, or savory meats, were nothing now but their counterfeits in gold — accursed gold! And then with a sudden pang came remembrance of his dream… the exquisite feel of the water… Its coolness was still in his mouth and on his body… Why, what was this? Oh, gods, it had been no dream, but blessed truth! For his robe was soaking wet.
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With a sob of joy, Midas sprang to his feet, so hastily that he overturned the table before him and sent its golden load clattering over the marble floor. The noise awoke a sleeper who was lying on the threshold of the hall. It was the chief butler; he got up and ran forward with a scared face.
“Bid the slaves clear away that trash,” said his master, “and make ready my morning meal this instant. But first, give me a cup of wine.”
The chief butler filled a cup from a great jar at hand; presented it to the king; saw him take a deep draught; and went out of the hall, as he said afterward, not knowing whether he was on his head or his heels.