THE CRITIC; OR, THE SECOND STORY OF MIDAS
NCE upon a time the god Pan fell in love with a
Naiad, or water-nymph, named Syrinx. She was
very beautiful, as all the nymphs were; but Pan, as
you know, was very ugly—so ugly that she hated
him, and was afraid of him, and would have nothing
to do with him. At last, to escape from him, she
turned herself into a reed.
But even then Pan did not lose his love for her.
He gathered the reed, and made it into a musical
instrument, which he called a Syrinx. We call it a
Pan-pipe, after the name of its inventor, and because upon
this pipe Pan turned into music all his sorrow for the
loss of Syrinx, making her sing of the love to which
she would not listen while she was alive.
I suppose that King Midas still kept up his friendship
for Silenus and the satyrs, for one day he was
by when Pan was playing on his pipe of reeds, and
he was so delighted with the music that he cried out,
"How beautiful!" Apollo himself is not so great a
musician as Pan!"
 You remember the story of Marsyas, and how angry
Apollo was when anybody's music was put before his
own? I suppose that some ill-natured satyr must have
told him what King Midas had said about him and
Pan. Anyway, he was very angry indeed. And
Midas, the next time he looked at himself in his
mirror, saw that his ears had been changed into those
of an Ass.
This was to show him what sort of ears those people
must have who like the common music of earth better
than the music which the gods send down to us from
the sky. But, as you may suppose, it made Midas very
miserable and ashamed. "All my people will think
their king an Ass," he thought to himself, "and that
would never do."
So he made a very large cap to cover his ears, and
never took it off, so that nobody might see what had
happened to him. But one of his servants, who was
very prying and curious, wondered why the king should
always wear that large cap, and what it was that he
could want to hide. He watched and watched for a
long time in vain. But as last he hid himself in the
king's bedroom; and when Midas undressed to go to
bed, he saw to his amazement that his master had Ass's
He was very frightened too, as well as amazed. He
could not bear to keep such a curious and surprising
 secret about the king all to himself, for he was a
great gossip, like most people who pry into other
people's affairs. But he thought to himself, "If I
tell about the king's ears he will most certainly cut
off my own! But I must tell somebody. Whom
shall I tell?"
So, when he could bear the secret no longer, he dug
a hole into the ground, and whispered into it, "King
Midas has the Ears of an Ass!" Then, having thus
eased his mind, he filled up the hole again, so that the
secret might be buried in the earth forever.
But all the same, before a month had passed, the
secret about the king's ears was known to all the land.
How could that be? The king still wore his cap, and
the servant had never dared to speak about it to man,
woman, or child. You will never be able to guess how
the secret got abroad without bring told.
It was in this way. Some reeds grew up out of the
place where the servant had made the hole, and of
course the reeds had heard what had been whispered
into the ground where their roots were. And they
were no more able to keep such a wonderful secret to
themselves than the servant had been. Whenever the
wind blew through them they rustled, and their rustle
said, "King Midas has the Ears of an Ass!" The
wind heard the words of the reeds, and carried the
 news through all the land, wherever it blew, "King
Midas has the Ears of an Ass!" And all the people
heard the voice of the wind, and said to one another,
"What a wonderful thing—King Midas has the ears
of an Ass!"