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“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?”
“My child, my dear child,"cried poor Midas. “I would not give one small dimple in her chin for the power of changing the whole 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 see, has not been entirely changed to gold. Tell me, do you sincerely wish to get rid of the Golden Touch?" "It is hateful to me!" replied Midas.
“Go, then,” said the stranger, “and plunge into the river that flows past the bottom of your garden. Take likewise a jar of the same water and sprinkle over any object you may desire to change again from gold to its former substance. If you do this, you may repair the mischief your folly has caused."
King Midas bowed low, and when he lifted his head he was alone.
You will easily believe that Midas lost no time in snatching up a big earthen pitcher-earthen no longer after he had touched it, and hurrying to the river-side. On reaching the stream, he plunged in headlong, without so much as waiting to pull off his shoes.
"Poof, poof, poof!" snorted King Midas, as his head rose from the water. "Well, this is really a refreshing bath, and I think I must have quite washed
away the 'Golden Touch'-and now for filling my pitcher!"
As he dipped the pitcher in the water, he was glad to see it change from gold into the same good, honest earthen vessel which it had been before. The curse of the Golden Touch had been really removed from him.
And now King Midas hastened back to the palace, bearing the pitcher carefully, that he might not waste a single drop. In handfuls he sprinkled the water over the little golden figure of his Marygold. No sooner did it fall on her, than she began to sneeze and sputter, and how astonished was she to find herself dripping wet!
"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 statue.
King Midas never regretted the loss of the Golden Touch,
Diamonds and Toads.*
"HERE was, once upon a time, a widow who had
two daughters. The eldest was so much like her in face and humor, that whoever looked upon the daughter saw the mother. They were both so disagreeable, and so proud, that there was no living with them. The youngest, who was the very picture of her father for courtesy and sweetness of temper, was withal one of the most beautiful girls ever seen. As people naturally love their own likenesses, this mother even doted on her eldest daughter, and at the same time had a sad aversion for the youngest. She made her eat in the kitchen, and work continually.
Among other things, this poor child was forced twice a day to draw water above a mile and a half from the house, and bring home a pitcher full of it. One day, as she was at this fountain, there came to her a poor woman, who begged of her to let her drink. "O yes, with all my heart, Goody," said this pretty little girl; and rinsing the pitcher, she took up some water from the clearest place of the fountain and gave it to her, holding up the pitcher all the while that she might drink the easier.
The good woman, having drunk, said to her, “You are so very pretty, my dear, so good and so mannerly, that I cannot help giving you a gift''-for this was a
* From Heart of Oak Series, by permission of D. C. Heath & Co., publishers.
fairy, who had taken the form of a poor country woman, to see how far the civility and good manners of this pretty girl would go. “I will give you for gift, continued the fairy, "that at every word you speak there shall come out of your mouth either a flower or a jewel.”
When this pretty girl came home her mother scolded her for staying so long at the fountain. “I beg your pardon, mamma," said the poor girl, “for not making more haste," and, in speaking these words, there came out of her mouth two roses, two pearls, and two large diamonds. “What is it I see there?" said the mother quite astonished, “I think I see pearls and diamonds come out of the girl's mouth! How happens this, my child?” This was the first time she ever called her her child.
The poor creature told her frankly all the matter, not without dropping out infinite numbers of diamonds. “In good faith,” cried the mother, “I must send my child thither. Come hither, Fanny, look what comes out of your sister's mouth when she speaks! Would you not be glad, my dear, to have the same gift given to you? You have nothing else to do but go draw water out of the fountain, and when a certain poor woman asks you to let her drink, to give it her very civilly.” “It would be a very fine sight, indeed," said this ill-bred minx, "to see me go draw water!" "You shall go, hussy," said the mother, "and this minute.” So away she went, but grumbling all the way, and taking with her the best silver tankard in the house.
She was no sooner at the fountain than she saw com.
ing out of the wood a lady most gloriously dressed, who came up to her and asked to drink.
This was, you must know, the very fairy who appeared to her sister, but who had now taken the air and dress of a princess to see how far this girl's rudeness would go. “Am I come hither,” said the proud, saucy maid, “to serve you with water, pray? I suppose the silver tankard was brought purely for your ladyship, was it? However, you may drink out of it, if you have a fancy."
"You are not over and above mannerly,” answered the fairy, without putting herself in a passion. “Well, then, since you have so little breeding, and are so disobliging, I give you for gift, that at every word you speak there shall come out of your mouth a snake or a toad."
So soon as her mother saw her coming, she cried out, “Well, daughter." "Well, mother," answered the pert hussy, throwing out of her mouth two vipers and two toads. “O mercy!" cried the mother, "what is it I see! O, it is that wretch, her sister, who has occasioned all this; but she shall pay for it." And immediately she ran to beat her. The poor child fled away from her, and went to hide herself in the forest, not far from thence.
The king's son, then on his return from hunting, met her, and seeing her so very pretty, asked her what she did there alone, and why she cried. “Alas! sir, my mamma has turned me out of doors.” The king's son, who saw five or six pearls, and as many diamonds, come out of her mouth, desired her to tell him how that happened. She thereupon told him the whole story; and so the king's son fell in love