The Golden Touch

The Golden Touch

ONCE upon a time, there lived a very rich man and a king beside, whose name was

He and Midas 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 sought for wealth? He thought, foolish man! that the best thing

he could possibly do for this dear child would be to bequeath her the most immense

pile of yellow, glistening coins 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 most beautiful 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 apartment,

underground, in 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


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 as 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 not 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-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 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 know.”

Midas paused and meditated. He felt a presentiment that this stranger, with such

a golden luster 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 much.

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 gold!”

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 at 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 a token of farewell. “Tomorrow, 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 that he had

spent his life 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 had been promised in the morning. At any rate, the 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 a 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 bedposts,

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 the 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 worthwhile 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 crystal 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 by 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 downstairs 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 be.

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, freshly boiled eggs, and coffee for King Midas himself, and a bowl

of bread and milk for his daughter Marigold. 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 one.

Little Marygold had not yet made her appearance. Her father ordered her to be called

and, seating himself at the 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 on 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 sweet and had so many lovely blushes are blighted and spoilt! They are grown quite yellow, as you see this one, and no longer have 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 at the 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 taking 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 by 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 aghast.

“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 goldfish, 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 tell 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 storybook was in the habit

of laying; 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, attempted

to cram it into his mouth, and swallowed 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,” 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 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


“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

Marigold was a human child no longer but a golden statue!

Yes, there she was, with the questioning look of love, grief, and pity, hardened

on 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 on 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 need to soften the gold and make it flesh again. This, however, could

not be. So Midas had only to wring his hands and 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 luster 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 to 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 ago?”

“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 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 a vase of the same water likewise, 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 that 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!”

Marigold 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 the 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 was that little Marygold’s hair now had 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 Mary Gold’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!”

The End