: For Classes Iv. And V.
: Children Stories To Tell

The Greek God Pan, the god of the open air, was a great musician. He

played on a pipe of reeds. And the sound of his reed-pipe was so sweet

that he grew proud, and believed himself greater than the chief musician

of the gods, Apollo, the sun-god. So he challenged great Apollo to make

better music than he.

Apollo consented to the test, for he wished to punish Pan's vanity, and

they chose the mountain Tmolu
for judge, since no one is so old and wise

as the hills.

When Pan and Apollo came before Tmolus, to play, their followers came

with them, to hear, and one of those who came with Pan was a mortal named


First Pan played; he blew on his reed-pipe, and out came a tune so wild

and yet so coaxing that the birds hopped from the trees to get near; the

squirrels came running from their holes; and the very trees swayed as if

they wanted to dance. The fauns laughed aloud for joy as the melody

tickled their furry little ears. And Midas thought it the sweetest music

in the world.

Then Apollo rose. His hair shook drops of light from its curls; his robes

were like the edge of the sunset cloud; in his hands he held a golden

lyre. And when he touched the strings of the lyre, such music stole upon

the air as never god nor mortal heard before. The wild creatures of the

wood crouched still as stone; the trees kept every leaf from rustling;

earth and air were silent as a dream. To hear such music cease was like

bidding farewell to father and mother.

When the charm was broken, the hearers fell at Apollo's feet and

proclaimed the victory his. All but Midas. He alone would not admit that

the music was better than Pan's.

"If thine ears are so dull, mortal," said Apollo, "they shall take the

shape that suits them." And he touched the ears of Midas. And straightway

the dull ears grew long, pointed, and furry, and they turned this way and

that. They were the ears of an ass!

For a long time Midas managed to hide the tell-tale ears from everyone;

but at last a servant discovered the secret. He knew he must not tell, yet

he could not bear not to; so one day he went into the meadow, scooped a

little hollow in the turf, and whispered the secret into the earth. Then

he covered it up again, and went away. But, alas, a bed of reeds sprang up

from the spot, and whispered the secret to the grass. The grass told it to

the tree-tops, the tree-tops to the little birds, and they cried it all


And to this day, when the wind sets the reeds nodding together, they

whisper, laughing, "Midas has the ears of an ass! Oh, hush, hush!"