But the more Midas loved his daughter, the more he wished to be rich for her sake. He thought, foolish man, that the best thing he could do for his child was to leave her the biggest pile of yellow glittering gold that had ever been heaped together since the world began. So he gave all his thoughts and all his time to this purpose.
When he worked in his garden, he used to wish that the roses had leaves made of gold, and once when his little daughter brought him a handful of yellow buttercups, he exclaimed, “Now if these had only been real gold they would have been worth gathering.” He very soon forgot how beautiful the flowers, and the grass, and the trees were, and at the time my story begins Midas could scarcely bear to see or to touch anything that was not made of gold.
Every day he used to spend a great many hours in a dark, ugly room underground: it was here that he kept all his money, and whenever Midas wanted to be very happy he would lock himself into this miserable room and would spend hours and hours pouring the glittering coins out of his money-bags. Or he would count again and again the bars of gold which were kept in a big oak chest with a great iron lock in the lid, and sometimes he would carry a boxful of gold dust from the dark corner where it lay, and would look at the shining heap by the light that came from a tiny window.
To his greedy eyes there never seemed to be half enough; he was quite discontented. “What a happy man I should be,” he said one day, “if only the whole world could be made of gold, and if it all belonged to me!”
Just then a shadow fell across the golden pile, and when Midas looked up he saw a young man with a cheery rosy face standing in the thin strip of sunshine that came through the little window. Midas was certain that he had carefully locked the door before he opened his money-bags, so he knew that no one, unless he were more than a mortal, could get in beside him. The stranger seemed so friendly and pleasant that Midas was not in the least afraid.
“You are a rich man, friend Midas,” the visitor said. “I doubt if any other room in the whole world has as much gold in it as this.”
“May be,” said Midas in a discontented voice, “but I wish it were much more; and think how many years it has taken me to gather it all! If only I could live for a thousand years, then I might be really rich.
“Then you are not satisfied?” asked the stranger. Midas shook his head.
“What would satisfy you?” the stranger said.
Midas looked at his visitor for a minute, and then said, “I am tired of getting money with so much trouble. I should like everything I touch to be changed into gold.”
The stranger smiled, and his smile seemed to fill the room like a flood of sunshine. “Are you quite sure, Midas, that you would never be sorry if your wish were granted?” he asked.
“Quite sure,” said Midas: “I ask nothing more to make me perfectly happy.”