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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 quickness, he might avoid what he now felt to be a considerable inconvenience, King Midas 5 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 10 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 15 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, 20 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 very hungry. Would he be less so by
dinner-time? And how ravenous would be his appetite for 25 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 the use of this rich fare?
These thoughts so troubled wise King Midas, that he began to doubt whether, after all, riches are the one desirable thing in 30 the world, or even the most desirable. But this was only a
passing thought. So pleased was Midas with the glitter of the yellow metal, that he would still have refused to give up the Golden Touch for so small a consideration as a breakfast. Just
imagine what a price for one meal's victuals ! It would have 35 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. 5 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 Lo him. Then, with a sweet and sorrowful impulse to comfort
him, she started from the 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. 15
“My precious, precious Marygold !” cried he.
Alas, what had he done? How fatal was the gift which the stranger gave! The moment the lips of Midas touched Mary
gold's forehead, a change had taken place. Her sweet, rosy 20 face, so full of affection as it had been, assumed a glittering
yellow color, with yellow tear-drops hardening on her cheeks. Her beautiful brown ringlets took the same tint. Her soft and tender little form grew hard and stiff within her father's
encircling arms. 0, terrible misfortune! The victim of his 25 great desire for wealth, little Marygold was a human child no longer, but a golden statue !
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 30 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. 35
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.
WHAT KING MIDAS LEARNED
While he was in this despair, he suddenly beheld a stranger, 10 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 unlucky power of the Golden Touch.
The stranger's countenance still wore a smile, which seemed 15 to shed a yellow lustre all about the room, and gleamed on little
Marygold's image, and on the other objects that had been changed by the touch of Midas.
“Well, friend Midas," said the stranger, "pray how do you succeed with the Golden Touch ?” 20 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 ?” 25 “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 30 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!” 5 “The Golden Touch," asked the stranger, “or your own little Marygold, warm, soft, and loving, as she was an hour ago ?”
“O, 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 10 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 15 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. 20 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
a vase of the same water, and sprinkle it over any object that 25 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. 30 You will easily believe that Midas lost no time in snatching
up a great earthen pitcher (but, alas! 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 35 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 5 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 10 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 changing itself into dull metal, but had now softened back
again into flesh. Seeing a violet, that grew on the bank of the 15 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 20 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 25 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 splutter !—and how astonished 30 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 35 statue; nor could she remember anything that had happened