|A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys|
|by Nathaniel Hawthorne|
|Delightful retelling of six Greek myths to a crowd of energetic youngsters by a master storyteller. Includes The Gorgonís Head, The Golden Touch, The Paradise of Children, The Three Golden Apples, and The Miraculous Pitcher. Ages 9-12 |
NCE upon a time, there lived a very rich man, and a
king besides, whose name was Midas; and he had a little
daughter, whom nobody but myself ever heard of, and
whose name I either never knew, or have entirely
forgotten. So, because I love odd names for little
girls, I choose to call her Marygold.
This King Midas was fonder of gold than of anything
else in the world. He valued his royal crown chiefly
because it was composed of that precious metal. If he
loved anything better, or half so well, it was the one
little maiden who played so merrily around her father's
footstool. But the more Midas loved his daughter, the
more did he desire and seek for wealth. He thought,
foolish man! that the best thing he could possibly do
for this dear child would be to bequeath her the
immensest pile of yellow, glistening coin, that had
ever been heaped together since the world was made.
Thus, he gave all his thoughts and
 all his time to this
one purpose. If ever he happened to gaze for an instant
at the gold-tinted clouds of sunset, he wished that
they were real gold, and that they could be squeezed
safely into his strong box. When little Marygold ran to
meet him, with a bunch of buttercups and dandelions, he
used to say, "Poh, poh, child! If these flowers were as
golden as they look, they would be worth the plucking!"
And yet, in his earlier days, before he was so entirely
possessed of this insane desire for riches, King Midas
had shown a great taste for flowers. He had planted a
garden, in which grew the biggest and beautifullest and
sweetest roses that any mortal ever saw or smelt. These
roses were still growing in the garden, as large, as
lovely, and as fragrant, as when Midas used to pass
whole hours in gazing at them, and inhaling their
perfume. But now, if he looked at them at all, it was
only to calculate how much the garden would be worth if
each of the innumerable rose-petals were a thin plate
of gold. And though he once was fond of music (in spite
of an idle story about his ears, which were said to
resemble those of an ass), the only music for poor
Midas, now, was the chink of one coin against another.
At length (as people always grow more and more foolish,
unless they take care to grow wiser and wiser), Midas
had got to be so exceedingly unreasonable, that he
could scarcely bear to see or touch any object that was
not gold. He made it his custom, therefore, to pass a
large portion of every day in a dark and dreary
 ground, at the basement of his palace.
It was here that he kept his wealth. To this dismal
hole—for it was little better than a dungeon—Midas
betook himself, whenever he wanted to be particularly
happy. Here, after carefully locking the door, he would
take a bag of gold coin, or a gold cup as big as a
washbowl, or a heavy golden bar, or a peck-measure of
gold-dust, and bring them from the obscure corners of
the room into the one bright and narrow sunbeam that
fell from the dungeon-like window. He valued the
sunbeam for no other reason but that his treasure would
not shine without its help. And then would he reckon
over the coins in the bag; toss up the bar, and catch
it as it came down; sift the gold-dust through his
fingers; look at the funny image of his own face, as
reflected in the burnished circumference of the cup;
and whisper to himself, "O Midas, rich King Midas, what
a happy man art thou!" But it was laughable to see how
the image of his face kept grinning at him, out of the
polished surface of the cup. It seemed to be aware of
his foolish behavior, and to have a naughty inclination
to make fun of him.
Midas called himself a happy man, but felt that he was
not yet quite so happy as he might be. The very tiptop
of enjoyment would never be reached, unless the whole
world were to become his treasure-room, and be filled
with yellow metal which should be all his own.
Now, I need hardly remind such wise little people as
you are, that in the old, old times, when King Midas
was alive, a great many things came
 to pass, which we
should consider wonderful if they were to happen in our
own day and country. And, on the other hand, a great
many things take place nowadays, which seem not only
wonderful to us, but at which the people of old times
would have stared their eyes out. On the whole, I
regard our own times as the strangest of the two; but,
however that may be, I must go on with my story.
Midas was enjoying himself in his treasure-room, one
day, as usual, when he perceived a shadow fall over the
heaps of gold; and, looking suddenly up, what should he
behold but the figure of a stranger, standing in the
bright and narrow sunbeam! It was a young man, with a
cheerful and ruddy face. Whether it was that the
imagination of King Midas threw a yellow tinge over
everything, or whatever the cause might be, he could
not help fancying that the smile with which the
stranger regarded him had a kind of golden radiance in
it. Certainly, although his figure intercepted the
sunshine, there was now a brighter gleam upon all the
piled-up treasures than before. Even the remotest
corners had their share of it, and were lighted up,
when the stranger smiled, as with tips of flame and
sparkles of fire.
As Midas knew that he had carefully turned the key in
the lock, and that no mortal strength could possibly
break into his treasure-room, he, of course, concluded
that his visitor must be something more than mortal. It
is no matter about telling you who he was. In those
days, when the earth was comparatively a new affair, it
sup-  posed to be often the resort of beings endowed
with supernatural power, and who used to interest
themselves in the joys and sorrows of men, women, and
children, half playfully and half seriously. Midas had
met such beings before now, and was not sorry to meet
one of them again. The stranger's aspect, indeed, was
so good-humored and kindly, if not beneficent, that it
would have been unreasonable to suspect him of
intending any mischief. It was far more probable that
he came to do Midas a favor. And what could that favor
be, unless to multiply his heaps of treasure?
The stranger gazed about the room; and when his
lustrous smile had glistened upon all the golden
objects that were there, he turned again to Midas.
"You are a wealthy man, friend Midas!" he observed. "I
doubt whether any other four walls, on earth, contain
so much gold as you have contrived to pile up in this
"I have done pretty well,—pretty well," answered
Midas, in a discontented tone. "But, after all, it is
but a trifle, when you consider that it has taken me my
whole life to get it together. If one could live a
thousand years, he might have time to grow rich!"
"What!" exclaimed the stranger. "Then you are not
Midas shook his head.
"And pray what would satisfy you?" asked the stranger.
"Merely for the curiosity of the thing, I should be
glad to know."
Midas paused and meditated. He felt a presentiment that
this stranger, with such a golden
 lustre in his
good-humored smile, had come hither with both the power
and the purpose of gratifying his utmost wishes. Now,
therefore, was the fortunate moment, when he had but to
speak, and obtain whatever possible, or seemingly
impossible thing, it might come into his head to ask.
So he thought, and thought, and thought, and heaped up
one golden mountain upon another, in his imagination,
without being able to imagine them big enough. At last,
a bright idea occurred to King Midas. It seemed really
as bright as the glistening metal which he loved so
Raising his head, he looked the lustrous stranger in
"Well, Midas," observed his visitor, "I see that you
have at length hit upon something that will satisfy
you. Tell me your wish."
"It is only this," replied Midas. "I am weary of
collecting my treasures with so much trouble, and
beholding the heap so diminutive, after I have done my
best. I wish everything that I touch to be changed to
The stranger's smile grew so very broad, that it seemed
to fill the room like an outburst of the sun, gleaming
into a shadowy dell, where the yellow autumnal
leaves—for so looked the lumps and particles of
gold—lie strewn in the glow of light.
"The Golden Touch!" exclaimed he. "You certainly
deserve credit, friend Midas, for striking out so
brilliant a conception. But are you quite sure that
this will satisfy you?"
"How could it fail?" said Midas.
 "And will you never regret the possession of it?"
"What could induce me?" asked Midas. "I ask nothing
else, to render me perfectly happy."
"Be it as you wish, then," replied the stranger, waving
his hand in token of farewell. "To-morrow, at sunrise,
you will find yourself gifted with the Golden Touch."
The figure of the stranger then became exceedingly
bright, and Midas involuntarily closed his eyes. On
opening them again, he beheld only one yellow sunbeam
in the room, and, all around him, the glistening of the
precious metal which he had spent his life in hoarding
Whether Midas slept as usual that night, the story does
not say. Asleep or awake, however, his mind was
probably in the state of a child's, to whom a beautiful
new plaything has been promised in the morning. At any
rate, day had hardly peeped over the hills, when King
Midas was broad awake, and, stretching his arms out of
bed, began to touch the objects that were within reach.
He was anxious to prove whether the Golden Touch had
really come, according to the stranger's promise. So he
laid his finger on a chair by the bedside, and on
various other things, but was grievously disappointed
to perceive that they remained of exactly the same
substance as before. Indeed, he felt very much afraid
that he had only dreamed about the lustrous stranger,
or else that the latter had been making game of him.
And what a miserable affair would it be, if, after all
his hopes, Midas must content himself with what little
 he could scrape together by ordinary means,
instead of creating it by a touch!
All this while, it was only the gray of the morning,
with but a streak of brightness along the edge of the
sky, where Midas could not see it. He lay in a very
disconsolate mood, regretting the downfall of his
hopes, and kept growing sadder and sadder, until the
earliest sunbeam shone through the window, and gilded
the ceiling over his head. It seemed to Midas that this
bright yellow sunbeam was reflected in rather a
singular way on the white covering of the bed. Looking
more closely, what was his astonishment and delight,
when he found that this linen fabric had been
transmuted to what seemed a woven texture of the purest
and brightest gold! The Golden Touch had come to him
with the first sunbeam!
Midas started up, in a kind of joyful frenzy, and ran
about the room, grasping at everything that happened to
be in his way. He seized one of the bed-posts, and it
became immediately a fluted golden pillar. He pulled
aside a window-curtain, in order to admit a clear
spectacle of the wonders which he was performing; and
the tassel grew heavy in his hand,—a mass of gold. He
took up a book from the table. At his first touch, it
assumed the appearance of such a splendidly bound and
gilt-edged volume as one often meets with, nowadays;
but, on running his fingers through the leaves, behold!
it was a bundle of thin golden plates, in which all the
wisdom of the book had grown illegible. He hurriedly
put on his clothes, and was enraptured to see himself
magnifi-  cent suit of gold cloth, which retained its
flexibility and softness, although it burdened him a
little with its weight. He drew out his handkerchief,
which little Marygold had hemmed for him. That was
likewise gold, with the dear child's neat and pretty
stitches running all along the border, in gold thread!
Somehow or other, this last transformation did not
quite please King Midas. He would rather that his
little daughter's handiwork should have remained just
the same as when she climbed his knee and put it into
But it was not worth while to vex himself about a
trifle. Midas now took his spectacles from his pocket,
and put them on his nose, in order that he might see
more distinctly what he was about. In those days,
spectacles for common people had not been invented, but
were already worn by kings; else, how could Midas have
had any? To his great perplexity, however, excellent as
the glasses were, he discovered that he could not
possibly see through them. But this was the most
natural thing in the world; for, on taking them off,
the transparent crystals turned out to be plates of
yellow metal, and, of course, were worthless as
spectacles, though valuable as gold. It struck Midas as
rather inconvenient that, with all his wealth, he could
never again be rich enough to own a pair of serviceable
"It is no great matter, nevertheless," said he to
himself, very philosophically. "We cannot expect any
great good, without its being accompanied with some
small inconvenience. The Golden
 Touch is worth the
sacrifice of a pair of spectacles, at least, if not of
one's very eyesight. My own eyes will serve for
ordinary purposes, and little Marygold will soon be old
enough to read to me."
Wise King Midas was so exalted by his good fortune,
that the palace seemed not sufficiently spacious to
contain him. He therefore went down stairs, and smiled,
on observing that the balustrade of the staircase
became a bar of burnished gold, as his hand passed over
it, in his descent. He lifted the door-latch (it was
brass only a moment ago, but golden when his fingers
quitted it), and emerged into the garden. Here, as it
happened, he found a great number of beautiful roses in
full bloom, and others in all the stages of lovely bud
and blossom. Very delicious was their fragrance in the
morning breeze. Their delicate blush was one of the
fairest sights in the world; so gentle, so modest, and
so full of sweet tranquillity, did these roses seem to
But Midas knew a way to make them far more precious,
according to his way of thinking, than roses had ever
been before. So he took great pains in going from bush
to bush, and exercised his magic touch most
indefatigably; until every individual flower and bud,
and even the worms at the heart of some of them, were
changed to gold. By the time this good work was
completed, King Midas was summoned to breakfast; and
as the morning air had given him an excellent appetite,
he made haste back to the palace.
What was usually a king's breakfast in the days of
Midas, I really do not know, and cannot stop
 now to
investigate. To the best of my belief, however, on this
particular morning, the breakfast consisted of hot
cakes, some nice little brook trout, roasted potatoes,
fresh boiled eggs, and coffee, for King Midas himself,
and a bowl of bread and milk for his daughter Marygold.
At all events, this is a breakfast fit to set before a
king; and, whether he had it or not, King Midas could
not have had a better.
Little Marygold had not yet made her appearance. Her
father ordered her to be called, and, seating himself
at table, awaited the child's coming, in order to begin
his own breakfast. To do Midas justice, he really loved
his daughter, and loved her so much the more this
morning, on account of the good fortune which had
befallen him. It was not a great while before he heard
her coming along the passageway crying bitterly. This
circumstance surprised him, because Marygold was one of
the cheerfullest little people whom you would see in a
summer's day, and hardly shed a thimbleful of tears in
a twelvemonth. When Midas heard her sobs, he determined
to put little Marygold into better spirits, by an
agreeable surprise; so, leaning across the table, he
touched his daughter's bowl (which was a China one,
with pretty figures all around it), and transmuted it
to gleaming gold.
Meanwhile, Marygold slowly and disconsolately opened
the door, and showed herself with her apron at her
eyes, still sobbing as if her heart would break.
"How now, my little lady!" cried Midas.
 "Pray what is
the matter with you, this bright morning?"
Marygold, without taking the apron from her eyes, held
out her hand, in which was one of the roses which Midas
had so recently transmuted.
"Beautiful!" exclaimed her father. "And what is there
in this magnificent golden rose to make you cry?"
"Ah, dear father!" answered the child, as well as her
sobs would let her; "it is not beautiful, but the
ugliest flower that ever grew! As soon as I was dressed
I ran into the garden to gather some roses for you;
because I know you like them, and like them the better
when gathered by your little daughter. But, oh dear,
dear me! What do you think has happened? Such a
misfortune! All the beautiful roses, that smelled so
sweetly and had so many lovely blushes, are blighted
and spoilt! They are grown quite yellow, as you see
this one, and have no longer any fragrance! What can
have been the matter with them?"
"Poh, my dear little girl,—pray don't cry about it!"
said Midas, who was ashamed to confess that he himself
had wrought the change which so greatly afflicted her.
"Sit down and eat your bread and milk. You will find it
easy enough to exchange a golden rose like that (which
will last hundreds of years) for an ordinary one which
would wither in a day."
"I don't care for such roses as this!" cried Marygold,
tossing it contemptuously away. "It has no smell, and
the hard petals prick my nose!"
 The child now sat down to table, but was so occupied
with her grief for the blighted roses that she did not
even notice the wonderful transmutation of her China
bowl. Perhaps this was all the better; for Marygold was
accustomed to take pleasure in looking at the queer
figures, and strange trees and houses, that were
painted on the circumference of the bowl; and these
ornaments were now entirely lost in the yellow hue of
Midas, meanwhile, had poured out a cup of coffee, and,
as a matter of course, the coffee-pot, whatever metal
it may have been when he took it up, was gold when he
set it down. He thought to himself, that it was rather
an extravagant style of splendor, in a king of his
simple habits, to breakfast off a service of gold, and
began to be puzzled with the difficulty of keeping his
treasures safe. The cupboard and the kitchen would no
longer be a secure place of deposit for articles so
valuable as golden bowls and coffee-pots.
Amid these thoughts, he lifted a spoonful of coffee to
his lips, and, sipping it, was astonished to perceive
that, the instant his lips touched the liquid, it
became molten gold, and, the next moment, hardened into
"Ha!" exclaimed Midas, rather aghast.
"What is the matter, father?" asked little Marygold,
gazing at him, with the tears still standing in her
"Nothing, child, nothing!" said Midas. "Eat your milk,
before it gets quite cold."
He took one of the nice little trouts on his
and, by way of experiment, touched its tail with his
finger. To his horror, it was immediately transmuted
from an admirably fried brook-trout into a gold-fish,
though not one of those gold-fishes which people often
keep in glass globes, as ornaments for the parlor. No;
but it was really a metallic fish, and looked as if it
had been very cunningly made by the nicest goldsmith
in the world. Its little bones were now golden wires;
its fins and tail were thin plates of gold; and there
were the marks of the fork in it, and all the delicate,
frothy appearance of a nicely fried fish, exactly
imitated in metal. A very pretty piece of work, as you
may suppose; only King Midas, just at that moment,
would much rather have had a real trout in his dish
than this elaborate and valuable imitation of one.
"I don't quite see," thought he to himself, "how I am
to get any breakfast!"
He took one of the smoking-hot cakes, and had scarcely
broken it, when, to his cruel mortification, though, a
moment before, it had been of the whitest wheat, it
assumed the yellow hue of Indian meal. To say the
truth, if it had really been a hot Indian cake, Midas
would have prized it a good deal more than he now did,
when its solidity and increased weight made him too
bitterly sensible that it was gold. Almost in despair,
he helped himself to a boiled egg, which immediately
underwent a change similar to those of the trout and
the cake. The egg, indeed, might have been mistaken for
one of those which the famous goose, in the story-book,
was in the habit of
lay-  ing; but King Midas was the only
goose that had anything to do with the matter.
"Well, this is a quandary!" thought he, leaning back in
his chair, and looking quite enviously at little
Marygold, who was now eating her bread and milk with
great satisfaction. "Such a costly breakfast before me,
and nothing that can be eaten!"
Hoping that, by dint of great dispatch, he might avoid
what he now felt to be a considerable inconvenience,
King Midas next snatched a hot potato, and attempted to
cram it into his mouth, and swallow it in a hurry. But
the Golden Touch was too nimble for him. He found his
mouth full, not of mealy potato, but of solid metal,
which so burnt his tongue that he roared aloud, and,
jumping up from the table, began to dance and stamp
about the room, both with pain and affright.
"Father, dear father!" cried little Marygold, who was a
very affectionate child, "pray what is the matter? Have
you burnt your mouth?"
"Ah, dear child," groaned Midas, dolefully, "I don't
know what is to become of your poor father!"
And, truly, my dear little folks, did you ever hear of
such a pitiable case in all your lives? Here was
literally the richest breakfast that could be set
before a king, and its very richness made it absolutely
good for nothing. The poorest laborer, sitting down to
his crust of bread and cup of water, was far better off
than King Midas, whose delicate food was really worth
its weight in
 gold. And what was to be done? Already,
at breakfast, Midas was excessively hungry. Would he be
less so by dinner time? And how ravenous would be his
appetite for supper, which must undoubtedly consist of
the same sort of indigestible dishes as those now
before him! How many days, think you, would he survive
a continuance of this rich fare?
These reflections so troubled wise King Midas, that he
began to doubt whether, after all, riches are the one
desirable thing in the world, or even the most
desirable. But this was only a passing thought. So
fascinated was Midas with the glitter of the yellow
metal, that he would still have refused to give up the
Golden Touch for so paltry a consideration as a
breakfast. Just imagine what a price for one meal's
victuals! It would have been the same as paying
millions and millions of money (and as many millions
more as would take forever to reckon up) for some fried
trout, an egg, a potato, a hot cake, and a cup of
"It would be quite too dear," thought Midas.
Nevertheless, so great was his hunger, and the
perplexity of his situation, that he again groaned
aloud, and very grievously too. Our pretty Marygold
could endure it no longer. She sat, a moment, gazing at
her father, and trying, with all the might of her
little wits, to find out what was the matter with him.
Then, with a sweet and sorrowful impulse to comfort
him, she started from her chair, and, running to Midas,
threw her arms affectionately about his knees. He bent
 kissed her. He felt that his little daughter's
love was worth a thousand times more than he had gained
by the Golden Touch.
"My precious, precious Marygold!" cried he.
But Marygold made no answer.
Alas, what had he done? How fatal was the gift which
the stranger bestowed! The moment the lips of Midas
touched Marygold's forehead, a change had taken place.
Her sweet, rosy face, so full of affection as it had
been, assumed a glittering yellow color, with yellow
tear-drops congealing on her cheeks. Her beautiful
brown ringlets took the same tint. Her soft and tender
little form grew hard and inflexible within her
father's encircling arms. Oh, terrible misfortune! The
victim of his insatiable desire for wealth, little
Marygold was a human child no longer, but a golden
Yes, there she was, with the questioning look of love,
grief, and pity, hardened into her face. It was the
prettiest and most woeful sight that ever mortal saw.
All the features and tokens of Marygold were there;
even the beloved little dimple remained in her golden
chin. But the more perfect was the resemblance, the
greater was the father's agony at beholding this golden
image, which was all that was left him of a daughter.
It had been a favorite phrase of Midas, whenever he
felt particularly fond of the child, to say that she
was worth her weight in gold. And now the phrase had
become literally true. And now, at last, when it was
too late, he felt how infinitely a warm and tender
heart, that loved him, exceeded
 in value all the wealth
that could be piled up betwixt the earth and sky!
It would be too sad a story, if I were to tell you how
Midas, in the fullness of all his gratified desires,
began to wring his hands and bemoan himself; and how he
could neither bear to look at Marygold, nor yet to look
away from her. Except when his eyes were fixed on the
image, he could not possibly believe that she was
changed to gold. But, stealing another glance, there
was the precious little figure, with a yellow tear-drop
on its yellow cheek, and a look so piteous and tender,
that it seemed as if that very expression must needs
soften the gold, and make it flesh again. This,
however, could not be. So Midas had only to wring his
hands, and to wish that he were the poorest man in the
wide world, if the loss of all his wealth might bring
back the faintest rose-color to his dear child's face.
While he was in this tumult of despair, he suddenly
beheld a stranger standing near the door. Midas bent
down his head, without speaking; for he recognized the
same figure which had appeared to him, the day before,
in the treasure-room, and had bestowed on him this
disastrous faculty of the Golden Touch. The stranger's
countenance still wore a smile, which seemed to shed a
yellow lustre all about the room, and gleamed on little
Marygold's image, and on the other objects that had
been transmuted by the touch of Midas.
"Well, friend Midas," said the stranger, "pray how do
you succeed with the Golden Touch?"
 Midas shook his head.
"I am very miserable," said he.
"Very miserable, indeed!" exclaimed the stranger. "And
how happens that? Have I not faithfully kept my promise
with you? Have you not everything that your heart
"Gold is not everything," answered Midas. "And I have
lost all that my heart really cared for."
"Ah! So you have made a discovery, since yesterday?"
observed the stranger. "Let us see, then. Which of
these two things do you think is really worth the
most,—the gift of the Golden Touch, or one cup of
clear cold water?"
"O blessed water!" exclaimed Midas. "It will never
moisten my parched throat again!"
"The Golden Touch," continued the stranger, "or a crust
"A piece of bread," answered Midas, "is worth all the
gold on earth!"
"The Golden Touch," asked the stranger, "or your own
little Marygold, warm, soft, and loving as she was an
"Oh, my child, my dear child!" cried poor Midas wringing
his hands. "I would not have given that one small
dimple in her chin for the power of changing this whole
big earth into a solid lump of gold!"
"You are wiser than you were, King Midas!" said the
stranger, looking seriously at him. "Your own heart, I
perceive, has not been entirely changed from flesh to
gold. Were it so, your case would indeed be desperate.
But you appear
 to be still capable of understanding
that the commonest things, such as lie within
everybody's grasp, are more valuable than the riches
which so many mortals sigh and struggle after. Tell me,
now, do you sincerely desire to rid yourself of this
"It is hateful to me!" replied Midas.
A fly settled on his nose, but immediately fell to the
floor; for it, too, had become gold. Midas shuddered.
"Go, then," said the stranger, "and plunge into the
river that glides past the bottom of your garden. Take
likewise a vase of the same water, and sprinkle it over
any object that you may desire to change back again
from gold into its former substance. If you do this in
earnestness and sincerity, it may possibly repair the
mischief which your avarice has occasioned."
King Midas bowed low; and when he lifted his head, the
lustrous stranger had vanished.
You will easily believe that Midas lost no time in
snatching up a great earthen pitcher (but, alas me! it
was no longer earthen after he touched it), and
hastening to the river-side. As he scampered along, and
forced his way through the shrubbery, it was positively
marvelous to see how the foliage turned yellow behind
him, as if the autumn had been there, and nowhere else.
On reaching the river's brink, he plunged headlong in,
without waiting so much as to pull off his shoes.
"Poof! poof! poof!" snorted King Midas, as his head
emerged out of the water. "Well; this
 is really a
refreshing bath, and I think it must have quite washed
away the Golden Touch. And now for filling my pitcher!"
As he dipped the pitcher into the water, it gladdened
his very heart to see it change from gold into the same
good, honest earthen vessel which it had been before he
touched it. He was conscious, also, of a change within
himself. A cold, hard, and heavy weight seemed to have
gone out of his bosom. No doubt, his heart had been
gradually losing its human substance, and transmuting
itself into insensible metal, but had now softened back
again into flesh. Perceiving a violet, that grew on the
bank of the river, Midas touched it with his finger,
and was overjoyed to find that the delicate flower
retained its purple hue, instead of undergoing a yellow
blight. The curse of the Golden Touch had, therefore,
really been removed from him.
King Midas hastened back to the palace; and, I suppose,
the servants knew not what to make of it when they saw
their royal master so carefully bringing home an
earthen pitcher of water. But that water, which was to
undo all the mischief that his folly had wrought, was
more precious to Midas than an ocean of molten gold
could have been. The first thing he did, as you need
hardly be told, was to sprinkle it by handfuls over the
golden figure of little Marygold.
No sooner did it fall on her than you would have
laughed to see how the rosy color came back to the dear
child's cheek and how she began to sneeze and
sputter!—and how astonished she
 was to find herself
dripping wet, and her father still throwing more water
"Pray do not, dear father!" cried she. "See how you
have wet my nice frock, which I put on only this
For Marygold did not know that she had been a little
golden statue; nor could she remember anything that had
happened since the moment when she ran with
outstretched arms to comfort poor King Midas.
Her father did not think it necessary to tell his
beloved child how very foolish he had been, but
contented himself with showing how much wiser he had
now grown. For this purpose, he led little Marygold
into the garden, where he sprinkled all the remainder
of the water over the rose-bushes, and with such good
effect that above five thousand roses recovered their
beautiful bloom. There were two circumstances, however,
which, as long as he lived, used to put King Midas in
mind of the Golden Touch. One was, that the sands of
the river sparkled like gold; the other, that little
Marygold's hair had now a golden tinge, which he had
never observed in it before she had been transmuted by
the effect of his kiss. This change of hue was really
an improvement, and made Marygold's hair richer than in
When King Midas had grown quite an old man, and used to
trot Marygold's children on his knee, he was fond of
telling them this marvelous story, pretty much as I
have now told it to you. And then would he stroke their
glossy ringlets, and tell them that their hair,
likewise, had a rich
 shade of gold, which they had
inherited from their mother.
"And to tell you the truth, my precious little folks,"
quoth King Midas, diligently trotting the children all
the while, "ever since that morning, I have hated the
very sight of all other gold, save this!"
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