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
Cupid and Psyche has the following chapters: 1. More Beautiful than Venus | 2. The Curse of Beauty | 3. The Enchanted Palace | 4. The Winged Monster | 5. Psyche’s Sisters | 6. A Plan Out of Envy | 7. Psyche’s Audacity | 8. Venus Finds Out about Cupid | 9. Psyche’s Wandering | 10. Psyche Surrenders to Venus | 11. Psyche’s Labors | 12. Descent to Hades | 13. Psyche’s Curiosity | 14. Cupid and Psyche’s Wedding
In the meantime, Psyche wandered far and wide over hill and dale, through wildernesses and ancient forests, in search of her husband, for the words of Pan had put a little heart into her, and she said to herself:
“If I can but find my dearest, though he can never love me again, he will surely forgive me when he sees me begging for mercy at his feet.”
One hot summer’s day as she journeyed, she spied a little temple on the top of a high hill and thought, “Who knows if my dear lord and husband is there?” So she climbed the hill, and a weary climb it was. And going into the temple, she saw the floor all scattered over with sheaves of corn and barley, among which lay scythes, sickles, and reaping hooks, but all in disorder, as though tossed carelessly down by the reapers.
Then Psyche set about putting everything tidy, hoping to please the god or goddess to whom the temple belonged by this small service. “For indeed,” she thought, “I sorely need the help of some kindly power.”
Now this was a chapel of Ceres, the corn goddess, to whom some countryfolk had newly brought the first fruits of their harvest, and they had left their reaping tools there also while they went to take their midday nap in a wood not far off. And presently who should come into the temple but Ceres herself?
When she saw Psyche busy putting the place in order, she stopped at the threshold and cried, “Ah, Psyche, poor culprit, what do you in this house of mine? Go, go, you should be in hiding — do you not know that Venus is searching for you everywhere, full of rage, and will cruelly punish you if you fall into her hands?”
Psyche looked and knew this must be Ceres by her crown of wheat ears and poppies, and the gleaner’s basket in her hand. Then she fell down at Ceres’s feet and bathed them with tears, bowing her fair head to the dust, and thus she prayed:
“Oh, great and holy goddess, I beseech thee by thy bountiful right hand, by thy joyous harvest festivals, by thy dragon chariot, by the sacred mysteries of thy temple at Eleusis, hear my prayer! By the marriage of Proserpine thy daughter with king Pluto, which cost thee all that pain to seek her through the world, by thy grief and weary wanderings — oh, take pity on me, thy humble servant Psyche! Let me hide myself here among the corn sheaves for a few days until the anger of great Venus is cooled — or at least until I have rested a little after my long, toilsome journeying.”
But Ceres answered:
“In truth, Psyche, I am much moved by your prayers and tears and desire with all my heart to aid you. But if I harbored you here I should offend Venus, my own brother’s child, and my sworn friend from of old. So take it not amiss that I send you away at once.”
Then, sick at heart with disappointment, Psyche crept out of the temple and went on her way. When she had gone about a league, she spied far off in a valley another temple, larger and more stately than the first; and she hastened towards it in hopes that there she might be suffered to take sanctuary. Coming near, she saw many golden necklaces and girdles, and rich vestments inwrought with gold, hanging on the door posts of the temple and on the trees around it; and all these offerings were engraved or embroidered with the name of Juno. Psyche went in and, kneeling devoutly before the altar, she clasped it with both hands and prayed in these words:
“Oh, spouse of most high Jupiter, thou that art worshipped in the great temples of Samos, in rich Carthage, and by the waters of Inachus, thou that all the East adores as queen of Heaven, hear my prayer! Thou that art the protectress of all women and especially of those that are with child, have pity on me and on my unborn babe… Oh, deliver me from the danger that pursues me — grant rest and shelter in thy house to me that am sore oppressed with grief and weariness.”
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No sooner had she thus spoken than Queen Juno stood before her in all her glorious majesty.
“Truly, Psyche,” she said, “I would gladly help you; but it goes against my conscience to thwart my son’s wife Venus, whom I have always loved like my own daughter. Besides, I should break the law against harboring runaway slaves — for I hear you are one, whom Venus your mistress is seeking to recover. So I must bid you leave my house immediately.”
Being thus turned away the second time, poor Psyche rose up and went out of the temple with faltering steps, sobbing like a lost child. And now despair came over her and made her reckless.
“There is no use in prayers!” she said to herself. “The gods will not help me — they only drive me away. Alas, what shall I do now? Where can I hide myself what wood or cavern is so dark and secret that Venus will not find me there? Nay, I will not be tracked down and dragged out like a beast from its lair. I will be brave — I will go straight to Venus and humbly yield myself into her hands, as though I were indeed her runaway handmaid. Yes, that is what I must do — for how do I know that he whom I seek may not be in his mother’s house?”