There had been no rain in the land for a very long time. It was so hot and dry that the flowers were withered, the grass was parched and brown, and even the big, strong trees were dying. The water dried up in the creeks and rivers; the wells were dry, the fountains stopped bubbling. The cows, the dogs, the horses, the birds, and all the people were so thirsty! Everyone felt uncomfortable and sick.
There was one little girl whose mother grew very ill. “Oh,” said the little girl, “if I can only find some water for my mother I’m sure she will be well again. I must find some water.”
So she took a tin cup and started out in search of water. By and by she found a tiny little spring way up on a mountainside. It was almost dry. The water dropped ever so slowly from under the rock. The little girl held her cup carefully and caught the drops. She waited and waited a long, long time until the cup was full of water. Then she started down the mountain holding the cup very carefully, for she didn’t want to spill a single drop.
On the way, she passed a poor little dog. He could hardly drag himself along. He was panting for breath, and his tongue hung from his mouth because it was so dry and parched.
“Oh, you poor little dog,” said the little girl, “you are so thirsty. I can’t pass you without giving you a few drops of water. If I give you just a little, there will still be enough for my mother.”
So the little girl poured some water into her hand and held it down for the little dog. He lapped it up quickly, and then he felt so much better than he frisked and barked and seemed almost to say, “Thank you, little girl.” And the little girl didn’t notice – but her tin dipper had changed into a silver dipper and was just as full of water as it had been before.
She thought about her mother and hurried along as fast as she could go. When she reached home, it was late in the afternoon, almost dark. The little girl pushed the door open and hurried up to her mother’s room. When she came into the room the old servant who helped the little girl and her mother and had been working hard all day taking care of the sick woman, came to the door. She was so tired and so thirsty that she couldn’t even speak to the little girl.
“Do give her some water,” said the mother. “She has worked hard all day, and she needs it much more than I do.”
So the little girl held the cup to her lips, and the old servant drank some of the water. She felt stronger and better right away, and she went over to the mother and lifted her up. The little girl didn’t notice that the cup had changed into a gold cup and was just as full of water as it was before!
Then she held the cup to her mother’s lips, and she drank and drank. Oh, she felt so much better! When she had finished, there was still some water left in the cup. The little girl was just raising it to her own lips when there was a knock at the door. The servant opened it, and there stood a stranger. He was very pale and all covered with dust from traveling. “I am thirsty,” he said, “Won’t you give me a little water?”
The little girl said, “why certainly I will, I am sure that you need it more than I. Drink it all.”
The stranger smiled and took the dipper in his hand, and as he took it, it changed into a diamond dipper. He turned it upside down and all the water spilled out and sank into the ground. And where it spilled a fountain bubbled up. The cool water flowed and splashed – enough for the people and all the animals in the whole land to have all the water wanted to drink.
As they watched the water, they forgot the stranger, but presently when they looked, he was gone. They thought they could see him just vanishing in the sky – and there in the sky, clear and high, shone the diamond dipper. It shines up there yet and reminds people of the little girl who was kind and unselfish. It is called the Big Dipper.
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