Once 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 met 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
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 inmimerable
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 hear 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 apartment, under 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 peckmeasure 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; hut,
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 was supposed 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-humorcd and kindly, if not beneficent, that it would have been unreasonable to
suspect him of intending any mischief. It was far more probahle 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 room."
"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 satisfied?"
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
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
Raising his head, he looked the lustrous
stranger in the face.
"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 up.
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 gold 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 in a magnificent 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 his hand.
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 spectacles.
"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 doorlatch
(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 suinmoned
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 twelvemouth. 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
"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 coutemptuously 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 the metal.
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 a lump!
"Ha!" exclaimed Midas, rather
"What is the matter, father?"
asked little Marygold, gazing at him, with the tears still standing in her eyes.
"Nothing, child, nothing!" said
Midas. "Eat your milk, before it gets quite cold."
He took one of the nice little trouts on his
plate, 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 gold-smith 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
"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, mdeed, might have been
mistaken for one of those which the famous goose, in the story-book, was in the habit of
laying; but King Midas was the only goose that had 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 coffee!
"It would be quite too dear,"
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 down and 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!"
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
Yes, there she was, with the questioning
look of love, grief, and pity, hardened into her face. It was the prettiest and most woful
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 desired?"
"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 of bread?"
"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 hour
"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 Golden Touch?"
"It is hateful to me!" replied
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 marvellous 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
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 over her!
"Pray do not, dear father!" cried
she. "See how you have wet my nice frock, which I put on only this morning!"
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 her babyhood.
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
marvellous 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