Last updated: June 6, 2017 at 23:39 pm
Once long ago, in a far-away land, lived a very rich and powerful king. His name was Midas. King Midas ruled his people well and his fame spread to all lands. Hearing of the king’s power and wisdom, a powerful magician came to visit him one day. The magician was so impressed with King Midas, that he asked him to make one wish.
King Midas thought for a while, and the next morning, presented his wish to the magician: I wish that anything my hands touch turn to gold. The magician’s face immediately transformed into a distressful appearance. “Are you sure?” he asked King Midas. “I urge you to think carefully before I grant this wish”.
While King Midas was a good ruler, and loved by all the people, he had one flaw: he loved money too much. Often, he would stay up all night counting his gold coins, and he came up with new and clever ways of acquiring riches. “Of course I am sure!” declared King Midas majestically. “Let everything my hands touch turn to gold!”
The magician was very sad but he granted the king’s wish. “From this moment, anything you touch with the tip of your right index finger will turn into gold.” Then the magician bid the king farewell and set out for his home.
King Midas was more than excited to put his new power to the test! Turning to the giant pillar near to him, he carefully touched it with the tip of his index finger. What magic and excitement gleamed from his eyes! He stared in wonder as the pillar slowly transformed itself into pure, sparking gold. King Midas couldn’t contain his excitement. “Now I’ll be the richest man in the whole world!” he exclaimed. “I’ll purchase every kingdom on earth and rule over all people!”
Running outside he touched the beautiful flower plant with his index finger. He watched once more with glee and excitement as the leaves and stems of the flower plant turned to gold. Next he touched his gate. The gate slowly but surely transformed itself into pure gold. King Midas jumped up and down.
King Midas went around his palace, inside and out, and transformed many different things into gold. Then he went to supper with his wife. As he held the spoon with his index finger, that too was transformed into gold. “I’ve always wanted a gold spoon like this!” he exclaimed. But his wife had a sad expression on her face. She had been looking from her window upstairs while King Midas was transforming the beautiful flower plant by the gate into gold. She had really loved that flower plant. She had planted it with her own hands. Even though it was now gold, it looked dead and lifeless. King Midas noticed the sadness in his wife’s face. “What’s the matter honey?” he asked.
“That flower plant…”, his wife said sadly, tears rolling from her eyes. “It was a gift from my mother, and I had planted it with my own hands. I loved it as dear life.” A piece of potato dropped from King Midas’ mouth and fell back into his bowl.
“Ah! OK! OK!” he exclaimed quickly, stammering a bit. “I’ll change it….” He was about to say “I’ll change it back!” But a thought crossed his mind at the same time. He realized that he didn’t have the power to change things back from gold.
He bent his head down foolishly, whispered “I’m sorry” under his breath, and continued having dinner.
King Midas continued to have a ball of a time transforming things into gold for the next few weeks. Most of his pots, pans and other kitchen utensils were now made of pure gold. He transformed some of his pear trees into gold adorned with golden pears hanging from their golden stems. King Midas’ wealth grew and grew. Within three days, he was doubtless the richest man in all the world.
That night, King Midas found it a bit hard to sleep. He was not sure why. Yes he was excited, but he reasoned that this excitement should not be enough to keep him awake ALL night.
He decided that he would pause from his “work” the next day. He would spend time with his family. Indeed, he needed to cheer his wife up a little bit. He was taking them out for a special show that evening. He ordered his carriages to come at 7:00 pm. They were going to have fun, he thought. Indeed, his wife had been seeming gloomier and gloomier as the days went by. She didn’t seem to share the excitement of the golden touch. “Ah what the hell”, he thought. “Soon she’ll realize how wonderful it is.”
It was 2:30 in the afternoon. Just then, a royal carriage pulled up and dropped off King Midas’ daughter from school. Waving a paper in her hand, she exclaimed “Daddy, daddy! Look! I won”. She had won the school spelling contest that day and was so excited. Without thinking, she jumped into her father’s arms and he caught her and lifted her into the air.
Then something very frightening started to happen. A frightened look appeared on the little girl’s face. Her golden hair was transforming into pure gold! Then her face. Then her whole body.
King Midas had always been careful not to touch his family or pets with the tip of his index finger, but today, he forgot!
King Midas ran frantically back and forth. He put the little girl down on the sofa. He feared his wife would appear right then and ask him what he had done. This is exactly what happened. King Midas, bending slowly, got on his knees and wept.
Just then, the magician who had granted him the power appeared. They looked at each other without speaking. “There is only one way I can transform your daughter back to life”, he said solemnly.
“Whatever that is, I pray you” said King Midas, “do it now!”
“But you will forever lose your magic tough and everything you had transformed will be restored to their original form.”
King Midas did not give a second thought. “Do it now!” He said.
The magician waved a wand and disappeared. The little girl came back to life and her mom and dad hugged her as though they were seeing her for the first time. The gold spoon, the flower plant, the pear trees and all other things that King Midas had transformed into gold immediately changed back into their original forms.
The king, his wife and his children from that day onward lived happily ever after and the King never more longed for a golden touch.
Adapt from Greek Legend by Patrick Carpen and retold for a more modern audience.