Once upon a time there lived a very rich King, whose name was Midas. He had one little daughter whom he loved very much, and whose name was Marigold.
King Midas loved gold more than anything else in the world, except his little daughter.
One day Midas was enjoying the sight of gold in his treasure room, when a stranger appeared before him.
“You are a rich man, King Midas,” he said. “You have a lot of gold in this room. Nobody else in the world has as much.”
“Yes, I have,” answered Midas, “but not as much as I wish to have. I wish everything that I touch to be changed to gold.”
“The Golden Touch?” said the stranger. “But are you quite sure that this will make you happy?”
“Of course, I am,” said Midas.
“And will you never be sorry to have the Golden Touch?”
”Never!” cried Midas. “I’ll be very happy”. “Be it as you wish then,” replied the stranger.
“Tomorrow at sunrise you will get the Golden Touch.” In the morning, when the sun rose, the King woke up and saw that his bed had been changed to gold.
Midas was very glad, indeed.
He jumped out of bed and ran about the room touching everything. He took up a book, and turned over the leaves; at once the leaves changed to gold, and the words of the book could not be read.
He put on his clothes and found himself dressed in gold which was very heavy. He took out his handkerchief, and it also became gold.
In the garden he found a great number of beautiful roses. He went from bush to bush touching each one as he passed until every flower was changed to gold. Then, very happy, he went back to the palace to have breakfast.
King Midas sat at table waiting for little Marigold. Soon she came into the room, crying.
“Now, now, my little lady!” cried Midas. “What is the matter with you, this bright morning?”
Marigold held a rose in one of her hands. It was one of the roses Midas had turned into gold.
“Beautiful!” cried her father.
“Ah, dear Father, it is not beautiful. I ran into the garden to get some roses for you. But, oh, dear, dear, there are no more beautiful roses there. They no longer smell sweet, and they are quite yellow.”
“Oh, my dear little girl, don’t cry about it,” said Midas. “Sit down and eat your breakfast.”
Then he took a cup of coffee and wanted to drink it. He was astonished to find that he could not. When his lips touched the coffee, it became gold. Then he put a nice little fish on his plate and carefully touched its tail with his finger. It at once changed to gold.
“I don’t quite see,” he thought to himself, “how I’ll have my breakfast.”
Now he tried one of the hot cakes, and then an egg. Both changed into yellow gold. Hoping that by being very quick he might get something to eat, King Midas then took a hot potato and put it into his mouth. But the Golden Touch was too quick for him. He found his mouth full of hot metal. He jumped up from the table and began to dance about the room, shouting with pain.
“Father, dear Father!” cried little Marigold. “What is the matter? What has happened to you?”
“Oh, my dear child,” answered Midas sadly, “it’s terrible, it’s terrible.”
Pretty Marigold jumped up from her chair, and, running to Midas, threw her arms around him. He kissed her.
“My dear Marigold!” he cried.
But Marigold made no answer. Her sweet, rosy face became yellow. Little Marigold was a child no longer, but a golden statue.
Poor King Midas! He stood still for a moment not being able to say a word. Then he began to cry: “My child, my dear child! Oh, what have I done?”
Suddenly he saw the stranger standing near the door.
“Well, friend Midas,” said he, “how are you getting on with your Golden Touch?”
“I am the poorest man in the world,” said Midas, I have lost all that my heart really cared for.”
“Ah, so life has taught you a good lesson?” said the stranger. “Let us see, then, which of these two things is dearer — the Golden Touch, or one cup of cold water?”
“Oh, dear, cold water!” cried Midas.
“The Golden Touch,” went on the stranger, “or a piece of bread?”
“A piece of bread,” answered Midas, “is better than ail the gold on earth!”
“The Golden Touch”, asked the stranger, “or your own little Marigold – warm, rosy and loving as she was an hour ago?”
“Oh, my child, my dear child!” cried poor Midas.
“You are wiser than you were, King Midas,” said the stranger looking at him. “Your heart, I see, is no longer filled with the love of gold alone. Tell me now, do you really wish to give up your Golden Touch?”
“Of course, of course!” cried Midas.
“Go then,” said the stranger, “and put your hands in the river that runs in your garden. Also take some water from the river and sprinkle it over anything that you wish to change back again from gold to what it had been before.”
King Midas wanted to thank the stranger. But the stranger had disappeared.
Midas lost no time. He went to the river at once and jumped into the water without even taking off his shoes.
King Midas went back to his palace. The first thing he did was to sprinkle the water over the golden statue of little Marigold.
The rosy colour came back to her face. She was astonished to see that she was wet, and that her father was sprinkling water over her!
“What are you doing, dear Father!” she cried, “I put on this nice dress only this morning.” Marigold didn’t know that she had been a little golden statue.
Her father didn’t tell her how foolish he had been; but he led her into the garden, and sprinkled the rest of the water over the golden roses, and changed them back into sweet flowers.
When King Midas had grown quite an old man, he was fond of telling Marigold’s children this very strange story.
He stroked their golden hair and said that he hated the very sight of all other gold except this.