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
Night had fallen once more, and once more the feast was spread in the palace hall of Midas. A great and goodly supper loaded the table before him; and he had need of it, having tasted nothing since breaking his fast at sunrise in the Valley of the Roses. From thence he had hurried back to the palace, silent, and with a strange, rapt countenance; he went straight to his underground treasure chamber and remained shut up there, alone. His servants supposed him to be counting over his piles of gold and silver, which was often his pastime for hours; little could they dream that he was putting forth a miraculous power which changed the silver, the treasure jars, the very walls of the vault to gold before he quitted it…
Midas saw with rapture that Bacchus had fulfilled his promise to the letter and made him the most fortunate, enviable man in all the world, for henceforth there was no limit to his wealth… But in the meantime, he was hungry and would sup. And he raised to his lips a delicate slice of roast venison, on its silver skewer. His teeth met on something cold and hard.
“Villainous slaves!” he cried, flinging down the skewer in a rage. “Which of you has done this? How comes a stone in my meat? By Cybele, some of you shall hang for this trick!” and he struck the table violently with his fist… And then the appalling truth burst upon him; he sat stricken dumb, staring stupidly at a golden table, covered with golden viands in golden dishes.
To Midas and the terrified slaves who watched his misery, the next hours passed as in a nightmare. Sometimes he raved, cursing himself for a fool and Bacchus for a cruel trickster; sometimes, as he grew half-desperate with hunger and thirst, he would call for more food and drink to be set before him, and try to swallow one drop or morsel. Surely something must be exempt from the accursed charm, he thought wildly; water… bread… surely the god had left him these… let him have but these, and he would live on them thankfully forever…
No, it was not to be. He was doomed, and to the most horrible of deaths… At last, worn out, he flung himself prone upon his couch and lay there motionless — a haggard, starving wretch, amid the glittering simulacra of plenty.