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
And now for a long while Psyche lived happily in this lordly pleasure house. By day she found ever delight in the treasures around her, for every day she lighted on some lovely and precious thing that she had not seen before; and whatever she wished for, either beautiful clothes, or flowers, or rare fruit and dainties, were instantly brought at her command by her invisible servants. But her greatest solace was the playing and singing of the unseen musicians, for that took away her feeling of loneliness. So the days passed; and every night, her husband came to her, whom she soon loved with her whole heart. But she never saw him, for he always went away before daybreak.
Meanwhile, Psyche’s father and mother remained in great affliction; and her two sisters, having heard of her supposed death, came from their homes to visit and condole with them. That night, Psyche’s husband said to her, “My sweet wife, I must warn you of a great danger that threatens you. Know that your two sisters, thinking you are dead, have come to mourn with your parents, and tomorrow and the next day they will climb the mountain and bewail you there. But if you hear them lamenting, beware you do not call to them, nor let them catch sight of you; for if you do, it will bring great sorrow to me and utter ruin to yourself.”
Psyche promised obedience; and all the next day she kept indoors, lest she might be tempted by hearing her sisters’ voices if she went out. But her heart yearned to see them again, and presently she began to think it very hard that she must not, nor even let them know she was alive, when they were there, close by, and in such grief about her. For in her simplicity, she never doubted that they loved her as dearly as she loved them. And now it came over her how lonely she was, and she burst out crying.
“Oh, oh!” she sobbed. “I am the most miserable girl in the world. What will become of me? Am I to be always shut up in this prison and never see a human face again? Forbidden even to see my own dear, unhappy sisters! Oj, it is too cruel!”
All day Psyche cried and fretted; she would not eat, nor take her bath, nor hear music; and when her husband came at night, he found her in floods of tears. Nor would she be comforted by his kisses and fond words. Then he sighed, and said, “Is this how you keep your promise, my beloved? What, have you been crying all day, and cannot leave off even in my arms? Well, do as you will — take your own way, and when it has led you to ruin, remember I warned you, and be sorry — too late.”
“Ah, do not think me wilful,” said Psyche, pleadingly, “but indeed, indeed I shall die unless you let me see my sisters again, just this once. I only want to comfort them and send word to my dear parents that I am not dead. What harm can there be in that? Pray, pray, if my sisters come again tomorrow, let your servant Zephyrus lift them down into the valley, so that I may talk with them and show them this lovely house.”
“They will come,” he answered, “and you shall show them your house and give them as much gold and jewels as you please to take home with them. For the truth is, I cannot bear to see you unhappy. But, my darling wife, if you have any love for me, take heed of one thing — do not let these women’s evil counsels persuade you to look on my face, lest your curiosity part us two forever.”
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“Sweet husband,” cried Psyche, overjoyed that her wish was granted, “I had rather die than be parted from you, for, whoever you may be, I love you like my own soul — I could not worship you more if you were the god of love himself. So I will heed your warning, never fear.”
And then, hearing him sigh again, she kissed him tenderly and gave him loving thanks for yielding to her prayers, calling him her lord and husband, her sweetheart, her joy, and her comfort — all so sweetly that he took no more thought for the morrow, though he knew what it would bring forth.