As it so happened, Psyche’s sisters were both visiting her parents and had learned of the oracle’s decree and her abandonment on the mountaintop. In their despair they went to the place, and this is where the west wind found them. He gently lifted them up and carried them, full of fear and amazement, to the beautiful garden. When their feet touched the ground they saw Psyche and their hearts overflowed with joy. “My sisters,” Psyche said, “I am so delighted to see you at last. Come, let me offer you some refreshment. All that I have is yours.”
The sisters were amazed by the palace and enjoyed the attention of the servant voices. Their youngest sister had landed in a wondrous place indeed, and they began to ask themselves what she had done to deserve such good fortune, and having no good answer, their joy was replaced with envy. It hardly seemed fair.
“Tell us about your husband Psyche,” said the eldest sister, “What is he like?” “Oh,” Psyche replied, “He is a beautiful young man and quite wealthy. He spends a great deal of time hunting in the mountains and that’s why he isn’t here.” “I’m glad to hear it,” said the middle sister, “Because back home they still speak of the oracle and imagine that your husband must be some kind of monster.” “Yes, said the eldest,” are you sure that there is nothing amiss, nothing strange? The oracle of Apollo has never been wrong before.”
Her sisters' words fed Psyche’s own submerged doubt. She admitted to them then that she had never actually seen her husband. “But he is so kind and loving,” she said, “I really don’t see how he could be a monster…” “You must find out what kind of creature he is,” her sisters insisted,” for your own safety and that of your child’s. You cannot keep your head in the sand. The inhabitants of this valley say that your husband is a terrible and monstrous serpent, who nourishes you for a while with dainties that he may by and by devour you. Take our advice. Take a lamp and a sharp knife. Hid them. When your husband is fast asleep, take a look at him, and if he is a monster, cut off his head.”
It was time for her sisters to return home and the wind gathered them up and swept them away. Psyche was greatly troubled. She was afraid and she was curious. At length she made the preparations that her sisters had suggested and waited for nightfall-- and her husband.
When he had fallen into his first sleep, she silently rose and uncovered her lamp. There was no monster, but the most beautiful and charming of the gods. His golden ringlets washed in nectar smelled so sweet, his body was smooth and perfectly formed, with two dewy wings on his shoulders, whiter than snow. There was no question that this was Eros, the young god of Love.
When Psyche saw Eros she was filled with a new passion and yearned to truly know him. She picked up one of his arrows and running a soft finger over the point, pricked herself and fell in love with Love. She leaned over to have a better view of his face when a drop of burning oil fell on the shoulder of the god. Startled, he opened his eyes and saw the lamp, the light. "Oh foolish Psyche," he said, "is this how you repay my love? Did you think I could be a monster? Love cannot dwell with suspicion." The Eros leaped up from the bed, spread his white wings, and flew out of the window.
Psyche desperately grabbed onto his ankles but she was too weak to hold on. She fell to the ground and began to weep. When she woke up the next morning she was alone in the countryside. The valley, the walled garden, the palace-- all of it was gone.
(Painting is Psyche's Love by Medard.)