There once lived a king called Midas who believed that nothing was more precious than gold. There was only one thing that Midas loved more, and that was his daughter, Aurelia. During a morning, as he often did, Midas went down into his dungeon. With a large brass key, he unlocked the door to the secret chamber where he kept his gold. The chamber suddenly filled with light. King Midas looked up and was amazed to behold the glowing figure of a young man. Midas knew that he was in the presence of magic.
“Do you not recognize me, friend?”
Midas shook his head. “I had thought to reward you for your kindness, but with so much gold, you must surely want for nothing.”
Midas thought for only a moment. “Perhaps if everything I touched would turn to gold,” he said. “That is your wish?” “Yes,” Midas assured him.
“And so it shall be yours.”
With that, the mysterious figure became brighter and brighter, until the light became so intense that Midas had to close his eyes. When he opened them, he was alone once again. But when King Midas awoke the next day, he found his bedchamber bathed in golden light. ”It’s true,” he cried. “I have the golden touch!”
Without wasting another moment, Midas rushed out of the room, through the palace, and into garden.
The roses glistened with the morning dew, and their scent gently perfumed the air. Midas went from bush to bush, touching each of the blossoms.
“How happy Aurelia will be when she sees these roses of gold!” he exclaimed. Soon it was time for breakfast. Midas lifted a spoonful of porridge to his mouth, but as soon as the porridge touched his lips it turned into a hard golden lump. “How am I to eat?” he grumbled. Aurelia, who had been anxiously watching her father all this time, slipped out of her chair and went to comfort him. “Please don’t cry,” she said. Midas smiled and took her hand in his. But suddenly he recoiled in horror. His cursed touch had turned Aurelia into a golden lifeless statue.
“Well, King Midas, are you not the happiest of men?” Midas wiped his eyes and saw the mysterious stranger standing before him once again.
“Oh, no, I am the most miserable of men!” he cried. “All that I truly loved is now lost to me.”
“Then make your way to the river that flows past the borders of your kingdom. Follow the river upstream until you reach its source. As you cleanse yourself in the foaming spring, the golden touch will be washed away. Take with you a vase so that you may sprinkle water over any object you wish to change back to its original form.” With those words, the mysterious man vanished. As soon as Midas reached the spring, he plunged in without removing even his shoes. The water washed the gold from his clothes.
Midas made his way back to the palace, where the first thing he did was to sprinkle the water over his beloved Aurelia. Together, the two went out to the rose garden. Midas sprinkled each frozen rose with a little river water.
Joyfully, then, Midas restored all else he had transformed except for a single rose, kept forever as a reminder of the golden touch.
( King Midas and the Golden Touch )