A GOLDEN GIRL
ILENUS was a careless old fellow, who is often seen in
pictures wearing a garland of ivy and riding on a wine
cask. Dionysus, the god of vineyards, was fond of him,
for the old man had been his schoolmaster. Once he
wandered away, not exactly knowing what he was doing.
Some countrymen found him and took him to their king,
Midas. He knew Silenus and led him kindly into the
palace. For ten days he treated him with the best of
everything and then conducted him to Dionysus.
The god was pleased, and said to Midas, "Choose what
you would like best. That shall be the reward for this
Midas said, "Grant this, that everything I touch may
turn to gold."
Dionysus answered, "It shall be as you wish, but let me
tell you that you have made a poor choice."
King Midas did not think so. He went away glad and
proud. He broke off an oak-branch and was delighted to
find in his hand a cane of solid gold. He picked up a
stone; it went into his pocket a heavy lump of gold.
He gathered a flower; in a moment it was a golden rose.
He reached up his hand and took an apple; it changed
into shining gold.
 "I shall be richer than anybody," he thought. He went
along singing a little song, "Rich and happy, rich and
He entered his palace and said to his servants, "Bring
me all the cups and dishes in the house." They obeyed.
He touched the vessels, and they changed into gold.
"Of what is my dining-table made?" he asked.
The servants answered, "Of oak, your majesty."
"Follow me!" he said. They all went into the
dining-hall and saw him touch the table, which was then
no longer oaken, but became bright gold.
"Now bring me a splendid dinner," he ordered. "We have
a proper table service, let us have something good to
He sat down upon a chair; it turned to gold. His
clothes had already become cloth of gold, so stiff that
he could hardly move in them.
Dinner was brought in. His chair was too heavy to
move, so he had another placed at the table and sat
down. That seat also became gold in a moment. He took
up a piece of bread; before he could break it, a change
had taken place, and it was hard gold. He laid his
hand on a bunch of grapes; they were so heavy that he
dropped them with a clatter of gold upon the golden
The king began to be frightened. "Why, at this rate I
shall starve to death," he cried. "Since I can not
eat, I will drink."
He seized a gold cup, full of milk with instantly
turned yellower than any cream, yellow as gold. No
 drop could pass his lips. He was more than ever
"Miserable man that I am," he said, "I fear there is
nothing but starvation before me. Bring me the
princess, bring my litter daughter, and let her comfort
her poor rich father."
She came running in and was pleased to see so much
gold. "Oh, father," she said, "where did all these
pretty things come from? Gold cups and dishes, and
gold grapes, and gold bread! Why, this is wonderful!"
"Come to me, darling," her father cried. "Your poor
father has made a great mistake. Come and kiss me,
She ran into his arms. She was a pretty girl, with
yellow hair that some people called golden. As her
father touched her, she stood still as a statue. Her
rosy face changed to yellow. Her hair became an orange
color. Her smile showed yellow teeth, that had once
been white. Her pink arms, her lily hands, her red
shows, all were yellow. She did not move or speak, or
even cry. She could not; she was a golden girl. Her
father tried to lift her on his lap but she was too
He ran as fast as he could to Dionysus.
"Oh, I was wrong," he sobbed. "You told me I had made
a mistake, and it is too true. Take back your fatal
gift, and oh, give me back my darling little girl!"
The god told him, "Take your child with you to the head
of the river Pactolus. Wash yourself and her in the
water, and you both shall be like other people again."
Midas obeyed. The little girl turned red and white
 again and said, "How strange! See, father, how
the sands in the river-bed sparkle! They look like
They were gold, but she was flesh again. Midas had
lost his strange power, but he was much happier. Ever
afterwards the sands of Pactolus were golden.
Midas made another mistake. He said that the god Pan
could make better music than the god Apollo. From that
time his ears began to grow long and hairy.
To hide them he put on a large turban, such as the
Turks wear now. But his barber could not help seeing
them. The hair-dresser did not dare to tell his wife,
but he could not keep such a secret. He went out by
the river bank, dug a hole, whispered into it, "King
Midas has ass's ears!" and filled up the hole again.
Soon a crop of reeds sprang up there, and as the wind
blew through them, the people passing by heard them