by Jonathan Shipton
King Midas was a man who was never satisfied.
No matter what he had, he always wanted more.
He wanted more money; he wanted more goats; he wanted more horses; he wanted more baths. He even wanted more gardens, even though the garden he already had was possibly the most beautiful in the whole land. It was enormous and was surrounded by miles and miles of high white walls. Inside was a paradise of fountains and pools, sweet smelling flowers and tall elegant trees. But pride of place went to the king’s collection of fruit trees. There were juicy oranges and tangy lemons, fine ripe apricots and soft pink peaches, fat purple plums and long fleshy pears, almost every delicious fruit you could imagine grew in this wonderful garden.
One day after breakfast King Midas was strolling along one of the wide avenues when he heard a strange noise. It sounded like someone sawing. Thinking it was someone trying to damage one of his precious trees he went to investigate. The noise was coming from underneath a large dark mulberry bush. The king dropped to his knees and peered underneath.
To his surprise he found that it wasn’t a thief sawing off branches but an old man with a long white beard, snoring.
‘Hey!’ shouted the king. ‘Wake up! What are you doing in my garden?’
‘Oh hello...’ yawned the old man sleepily. ‘Where am I ? Who are you?’
‘I am the mighty King Midas!’ announced the king, ‘And these are my private royal gardens. Do you know what usually happens to people who dare to come into my private royal gardens without permission?'
‘No.’ admitted the old man. ‘But I’m hoping it involves fresh fruit and cheese and possibly some wine because I’m very hungry and..’
‘Silence!’ roared the king.
‘What happens is that I call my guards. The guards grab hold of you and drag you outside and then they either throw you into jail or chop off your head!’
‘I see.' said the old man stroking his beard. 'Well do you know who I am?’
‘No.’ said the king.
‘I am Silenus the Great Magician.’ said the old man. ‘I suggest we forget about the head chopping and in return I will grant you a special wish. One wish. Anything you like.
‘Anything at all?’ demanded the King suspiciously.
‘Anything at all.’ replied Silenus. ‘Think about it and while you're making up your mind, I’ll just go for a little wander.'
‘No need,' insisted the king rubbing his hands together.' I’ve decided my wish. I want everything I touch to turn into gold.'
‘Oh dear! ’ sighed the wizard. ' Oh dear, oh dear, oh ...'
‘What do you mean ‘Oh dear! ?’ snapped the King. ‘You said I could wish for anything I wanted didn’t you?
‘But nothing. I’ll be the richest man in the whole of Greece won’t I?’
‘Well yes..’ admitted the magician ‘you will but..’
‘No more buts!’ insisted the impatient king. ‘ Either you give me my wish Now! Or your head comes off. Shall I call the guards?'
Silenus shrugged his shoulders. ‘Ok.’ he said and taking his magic wand from under his cloak, Silenus touched the king on his shoulder three times.
‘There’ he said. ‘Your wish is now granted.'
The king could hardly wait to try out his new powers. Straightaway he bent down and picked up a small grubby pebble from the path and in a flash it turned into shiny pure gold.
‘I’m rich!’ he shouted and put it into his pocket.
And of course his pocket turned to gold!
He ran over to a nearby tree and picked off a beautiful apple. At once, not only the apple, but the branches and the leaves all became golden. King Midas was overjoyed. He couldn’t stop laughing. He ran up and down the garden touching everything he saw, plants, rocks, He even turned the water in the fountain into a cascade of bright shimmering gold.
The delighted king left the garden and went back into his palace.
‘Get me my secretary!’ he ordered.
The king’s secretary came running and bowed before King Midas.
‘Your majesty ?’
‘I want a huge feast to celebrate my good fortune.' said the king
'I want you to invite all the princes and all the lords and nobles in the land. I want the finest food in the whole country. I want the biggest and the best of everything. Can you do that?’
Right away your majesty!’ replied the secretary and he hurried away and did as the king had asked.
A few hours later the feast was prepared and the invited guests had all arrived. When the guests saw the feast that King Midas had prepared they were astonished. The tables were groaning under the weight of so much food. There were hundreds of loaves of bread there were mountains of cheese there were huge plates of meat and tall jugs brimming with wine. And of course the plates and bowls and knives were all made out of the finest, pure, glittering gold.
King Midas walked proudly over to the head of the high table.
‘Welcome!’ said the King.
‘Enjoy yourselves. May you all be as happy as I am .’
As he spoke he lifted his glass of wine from the table and put it to his
lips. But of course as soon as he touched it,the glass and all the wine
inside turned to gold.
In a panic the king dropped the glass and tried to pick up a piece of
bread but it too became a hard golden lump.
It was the same with everything on the table.
With a cry of terror King Midas ran from the room.
He suddenly realised how stupid and greedy he had been.
He was never ever going to be able to drink or eat anything again!
King Midas may have been the richest man that ever lived but at that
moment he also became the hungriest and the thirstiest and the most miserable.
Luckily the story has a happy ending, for kind Silenus heard about the king’s troubles and took pity on him. He worked his magic and took away the golden spell. From that day on the grateful king made up his mind to live a much simpler life. He stopped wanting more of everything and became a much happier man. He threw open the gates to his beautiful gardens so that everyone in the kingdom, rich and poor alike, could come inside and share in their peace and beauty.