|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 |
ELL, children," inquired Eustace, who was very fond
of eliciting a definite opinion from his auditors, "did
you ever, in all your lives, listen to a better story
than this of 'The Golden Touch'?"
"Why, as to the story of King Midas," said saucy
Primrose, "it was a famous one thousands of years
before Mr. Eustace Bright came into the world, and will
continue to be so as long after he quits it. But some
people have what we may call 'The Leaden Touch,' and
make everything dull and heavy that they lay their
"You are a smart child, Primrose, to be not yet in your
teens," said Eustace, taken rather aback by the
piquancy of her criticism. "But you well know, in your
naughty little heart, that I have burnished the old
gold of Midas all over anew, and have made it shine as
it never shone before. And then that figure of
Marygold! Do you perceive no nice workmanship in that?
And how finely I have brought out and deepened the
 moral! What say you, Sweet Fern, Dandelion, Clover,
Periwinkle? Would any of you, after hearing this story,
be so foolish as to desire the faculty of changing
things to gold?"
"I should like," said Periwinkle, a girl of ten, "to
have the power of turning everything to gold with my
right forefinger; but, with my left forefinger, I
should want the power of changing it back again, if the
first change did not please me. And I know what I would
do, this very afternoon!"
"Pray tell me," said Eustace.
"Why," answered Periwinkle, "I would touch every one of
these golden leaves on the trees with my left
forefinger, and make them all green again; so that we
might have the summer back at once, with no ugly winter
in the mean time."
"O Periwinkle!" cried Eustace Bright, "there you are
wrong, and would do a great deal of mischief. Were I
Midas, I would make nothing else but just such golden
days as these over and over again, all the year
throughout. My best thoughts always come a little too
late. Why did not I tell you how old King Midas came to
America, and changed the dusky autumn, such as it is in
other countries, into the burnished beauty which it
here puts on? He gilded the leaves of the great volume
"Cousin Eustace," said Sweet Fern, a good little boy,
who was always making particular inquiries about the
precise height of giants and the littleness of fairies,
"how big was Marygold, and how much did she weigh after
she was turned to gold?"
 "She was about as tall as you are," replied Eustace,
"and, as gold is very heavy, she weighed at least two
thousand pounds, and might have been coined into thirty
or forty thousand gold dollars. I wish Primrose were
worth half as much. Come, little people, let us clamber
out of the dell, and look about us."
They did so. The sun was now an hour or two beyond its
noontide mark, and filled the great hollow of the
valley with its western radiance, so that it seemed to
be brimming with mellow light, and to spill it over the
surrounding hill-sides, like golden wine out of a bowl.
It was such a day that you could not help saying of it,
"There never was such a day before!" although yesterday
was just such a day, and to-morrow will be just such
another. Ah, but there are very few of them in a
twelvemonth's circle! It is a remarkable peculiarity of
these October days, that each of them seems to occupy a
great deal of space, although the sun rises rather
tardily at that season of the year, and goes to bed, as
little children ought, at sober six o'clock, or even
earlier. We cannot, therefore, call the days long; but
they appear, somehow or other, to make up for their
shortness by their breadth; and when the cool night
comes, we are conscious of having enjoyed a big armful
of life, since morning.
"Come, children, come!" cried Eustace Bright. "More
nuts, more nuts, more nuts! Fill all your baskets; and,
at Christmas time, I will crack them for you, and tell
you beautiful stories!
So away they went; all of them in excellent
except little Dandelion, who, I am sorry to tell you,
had been sitting on a chestnut-bur, and was stuck as
full as a pincushion of its prickles. Dear me, how
uncomfortably he must have felt!
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