Midas - The Golden Touch
Retold By Judith Lawrenson
Illustrated by William Lawrenson
Once upon a time, (Don’t you just love stories that start that way?) there was a king named Midas. He was the king of quite a nice little country where the people were content, the scenery was very beautiful, and life went along well in a day to day, regular sort of way.
Midas was a very fair king too. Each week he would invite anyone who needed to speak to him to come to court and have his say. He was a fair judge when there was a dispute, which was not very often, and he cared for the people who lived in his kingdom even though he collected high taxes to add to his great wealth.
Midas had a lovely palace with flowers and trees and fountains and servants, and just about anything a person could want. His beloved wife had died but he had a daughter who was the joy of his life. She was always happy and cheerful and the people loved her very much. Her hair was the color of spun gold and her eyes were the color of the sky. They said when she sang; the birds would come down from the trees and sit on her hand so gentle and kind was she.
All right, there would be no story if this was all there was to it, so this was the problem-King Midas loved his people, his kingdom, and his beautiful daughter, but he also loved gold! Yes, he craved it. He had rooms full of it. He had statues made out of it. He even had a throne made entirely from it. Some days it was all he could think and dream about-how to get more gold.
He was still a good man and a good king, but he could not free himself of his obsession (oub sesh un) for more and more gold.
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One day, as he sat on his golden throne, he closed his eyes and imagined that his fondest dream had come true. He had dreamed this dream over and over again for many years. He dreamed that everything he touched would turn to gold. How wonderful his life would be if he were surrounded by gold everywhere he looked and as far as his eye could see. What a beautiful dream! When he had this vision, everything else in his life faded away.
On this day, as he had his dream yet again, he saw strange figure. It was a head that looked like flames were all around it. Somehow, though, the King was not afraid of this strange creature. Then, the creature spoke to him.
"King Midas, you have been a good king, a good man and a good father," said the creature. "Your only flaw has been your craving for something unimportant, your dream of a power you don’t really want."
"Oh, I do want this power. I want it more than I want anything in the whole world!" cried Midas.
"More than anything?" questioned the creature in his dream.
"Yes, yes, more than anything!" the king answered.
"All right, but I warn you. Gold, wealth and possessions are truly meaningless."
"No, no," cried Midas. "Please, I beg you, give me the Golden Touch and I will never ask another thing and never make another wish and never dream another dream, I swear!"
"Granted, then!" said the dream talker.