There once was a little girl who lived with her mother in a secluded part of the woods. One day the mother became sick, and no matter what the little girl did, her mother’s health worsened every day. It seemed to the little girl that her mother would never be well again.
“Please please bring me a drink of cold water” the mother whispered one night, through parched lips. At this point she was so weak she could not leave her bed.
Since they lived alone, there was no one for the little girl to ask for help, so she took the dipper that hung on the wall and started out alone to the river. It was evening when she left, and pitch dark when she finally reached the river. She filled her dipper and started home.
She walked as quickly and as carefully as she could, but it was dark and the path was rocky. The dipper, which was full when she left the river, was now half gone. As she picked her way along, she had the distinct feeling that someone, or something was following her. She stopped to listen carefully and heard panting. She turned and saw a small dog following her. He too was thirsty.
The little girl looked at her half full dipper, barely enough to quench her mother’s thirst. But being a kind soul, she poured a few drops into her hand, and let the thirsty dog drink. He seemed immediately refreshed. Then the little girl looked at the old wooden dipper, and she was amazed, it had changed from wood to silver and was again brimming with cool water.
She resumed her journey, being as careful as she could, so as not to spill the precious water. She had not gone very far when she came upon a knight in full armor who was kneeling, bent with fatigue in the middle of the path. He looked up at her, and held out his hand, wordlessly begging for a drink from the silver dipper.
The little girl knew her mother desperately needed the water, but she also knew she should always be kind to strangers, so she put the dipper to his lips and let him drink his fill. When he was through, the little girl was again amazed to see that the once wooden, now silver dipper had changed again, this time to gold and again, it was brimming with clear cool water.
She bid the knight farewell, as he was refreshed and able to continue on his way. She hurried along to reach her mother, but by now she was so tired she could barely put one foot in front of the other. But she continued on.
It was nearly morning by the time the little girl reached her home. She held the golden dipper up to her mothers lips and slowly, and patiently, drop by drop revived her mother until her mother opened her eyes and was quite well again.
The two of them looked at the dipper and as they did, it changed yet again, this time to diamonds, which lingered a while in the little girls hand, then flew up, up, up out of the house, into the sky.
And the diamond dipper shines to this day in the night sky to to remind travelers to always be kind to strangers.