|Posted: February 26, 2008, 11:10 pm - IP Logged|
Long ago, in a far-off land, there was a great famine. It had not rained for days, and weeks, and months. Every day the people watched for a cloud to appear, and every night they hoped and hoped that rain would come to-morrow.
But no rain came. The rivers grew narrower and narrower till there were no rivers. The ponds grew smaller and smaller till there were no ponds. A little water trickled in some springs but most of them were dry.
One day a little boy started out with a tin dipper to try to find water for his sick mother. He went past the dusty plants and the quiet birds and the sick animals, on and on, up a high hill. At last he found a tiny spring of water bubbling in the shade of a great stone. He filled his dipper to the brim. Stepping carefully, so as not to spill a drop, he started toward home.
As he hurried down the hill, he heard a faint sound. There by the path lay a little lamb. It was too sick to bleat, but it looked with longing eyes at the dipper of water. And though the lad would not take any for himself, he poured a few drops on the lamb's tongue. Then a wonderful thing happened. The tin dipper changed to silver and it was still filled to the brim!
The little boy hurried home, and took the dipper of water to his mother. As she opened her lips to drink, she thought of the nurse who had cared for her for many days and nights. "Let the nurse drink first," she said. Again a wonderful thing happened. The silver dipper was changed to gold and it was still filled to the brim!
The boy raised the dipper to his mother's lips again, when a knock was heard. There at the door stood a stranger. He was ragged and tired and pale. Like the poor lamb, he was too sick to speak, but he stretched out his hands for the water.
Without waiting a moment, the little boy took the dipper to the stranger. As he drank his face grew beautiful, and he said softly, "The water shall not be less, but more, for the giving."
As they looked in wonder, the stranger vanished. But out in the yard there gushed a spring of cool water. Men, women, and children hastened with their cups to drink from it.
The animals lapped the water that flowed from the spring in a refreshing stream. The birds chirped and sang as they bathed in the clear water.
But the golden dipper had disappeared. They searched in vain for it, till the sun went down and the stars came out. Then the little lad looked up into the sky and saw it there. It was no longer made of gold but of seven glittering stars.
And ever since that long ago time, the mothers in that land take their children to the northern window of their homes, tell them this wonderful story, and give to each child a tin dipper. Sometimes very little children have their dippers changed to silver or gold. But many grow old still carrying the tin dipper. For in that land no one can buy a dipper of gold. It comes only to those who think first of others.
The leaves and the grasses were wilted and brown. The flowers hung their dusty heads and died. The lambs were too tired to play. The birds no longer chirped and sang. The people had fevers and the little children were too thirsty to sleep.