Greek Myths 4 Kids Presents: CASE FILES
FROM THE HERCULES DETECTIVE AGENCY
CASE FILE: The Enchanted Well
No Problem Too Large or Too Small, Reasonable Fees
Proprietor Hercules (Roman name), also known as Heracles (Greek name), also known as Herc (Nickname)
The Hercules Detective Agency had been opened for business for some time now. Word had gotten about. Hercules had solved many a problem. He had been paid in gold, and in food, and most recently with a beautifully embroidered coat with "The Hercules Detective Agency" colorfully embroidered on the back. Food was important. Gold solved many problems. But the coat was his favorite payment so far.
Hercules did not know this yet, but a new case was about to appear at his door.
It all started when a god, dressed as an ordinary farmer, an exhausted farmer at that, covered in dust, wandered into a tiny village. He was taking a break. To be more accurate, he was hiding. His wife was very pregnant and very cranky. He had decided to take a walk but did not wish to be bothered or recognized as a god. Thus, the dusty disguise.
"You look like you could use a drink," a man surprised him. He had not seen the man standing by a well. He was that tired.
"Pardon me?" blinked the god.
"Taste this." The well watcher dropped a bucket into the well with a splash. He grunted as he pulled up the heavy bucket, now filled what looked like ordinary well water, a little green, a little dirty.
The god did not wish to be rude. He tried the water. To his surprise, it was cold and sweet and tasty, for water.
"Are all your wells like this?" the god wanted to know.
"Only this one. Our other well is the one everyone uses all the time. But this water is special. We take turns guarding this wonderful water. It was my turn today to guard the well."
"I see," mused the god. "My wife is pregnant. And cranky. Very cranky. A drink of this wonderful water would cheer her. If I may take just a bit with me?"
"Just a bit. We have to be careful. This is the only such water in the world, and there is not that much of it."
The god nodded. He reached into his dusty coat and pulled out a bottle that had not been there a moment ago. Because he was in a rather good mood, and since he knew his wife would love the water, he filled his bottle from the bucket, then waved his hand over the well. To the well watcher astonishment, well water bubbled up nearly to the top of the well. "That should make it easier for you," the god smiled. He ambled away. "Thanks again for the water," he called back over his shoulder. He disappeared from sight.
An odd gurgling sound seemed to come from the well. Bubbles appeared on the surface of the water. The well began to bubble over, and over, and over. Water flowed down the lane as if following the dusty man, who was really a god in disguise.
"Oh no!" the well watcher cried. He ran to tell the villagers. They did not need to be told. By the time he reached the center of his village, the main street was fast becoming a river of cold and sweet and tasty water. The water was still rising.
"Get Hercules," someone shouted. "And hurry!"
"So, you don't know who the man was?" Hercules questioned the villagers as he arrived in haste.
"He was dusty and dirty and looked like he could use a drink and said his wife was pregnant," cried the well watcher. "He had a bottle. He filled it up. He took it with him when he left. That's all I know!"
From all sides, the villagers gasped and yelled, "That's against the rules. This water is strictly for the village. How could you be so stupid? He'll tell everyone!"
Hercules held up his hand. "Stop, all of you. Stop. You are yelling at a man for having a kind heart. Shame on you. Now shush a bit and let me think." Hercules thought about all the gods he knew. Dusty farmer. Possible shape shifter. Pregnant wife. Thoughtless. One god came to mind. "Dionysus," he mused. "It might be Dionysus."
Hercules tracked down the god of wine, vegetation, and comedy.
"Dionysus," Hercules asked with a sigh. "Did you by any chance enchant a well recently?"
"Isn't it delicious?" Dionysus laughed. "Ariadne loved it. I knew she would. I have to go back and get more." Ariadne, Dionysus' wife, was the Princess Ariadne, daughter of the king of Crete. Theirs was a true love story if you want to read about Dionysus & Ariadne and how they met.
Hercules winced. He had kept his distance from the Princess Ariadne. As far as he knew, she had no idea it was his idea to leave her sleeping on a seawall on the island of Naxos, but keeping his distance was the way Hercules coped with most women.
"Dionysus, the well is running over. It's flowing into the village and picking up dirt and garbage. It won't be delicious for long. The village is drowning in water, dirty, tasteless water. Whatever you did, I need you to change it and put the water back in the well where it belongs."
"I don't know how to change it," Dionysus shrugged. "I usually use vines. Wine I understand. Water, not so much. Can't help you, sorry."
There was no getting around it. Hercules knew that, but still, he tried to think of a water god, any water god, who could solve his problem. Any god besides Poseidon's wife, Amphitrite, goddess of the sea. What most people did not know was that Amphitrite not only helped her husband control seawater, she could also redirect any water - rivers, streams, and water from wells, he supposed - from one place to another. Poseidon might be the mighty sea god, but his wife was a mighty water goddess. She had been after Hercules to marry one of her daughters and live under the sea. Of course, he would then be able to breathe underwater, but he would never again be able to walk on land. This did not appeal to Hercules at all. No matter how many times he had politely said no thank you, Amphitrite kept trying. There were hundreds of water spirits and deities that might try to help, but only one who could quickly solve this problem.
With a mighty sigh, Hercules shouted up at the heavens. "Somebody, please tell Poseidon I need him." His voice carried on the wind and up to the heavens and reached even as high as Mount Olympus. Poseidon appeared in a swirl of water. It splashed over Hercules, soaking him thoroughly.
"What," Poseidon thundered. "What now?"
"I need your wife." Hercules wiped his eyes.
"You can have her," Poseidon snapped.
"I need her to fix an overflowing well." He filled in Poseidon on the problem.
"It will cost you. Maybe not today, but someday, it will cost you," Poseidon warned.
Hercules hung his head. "I know. But I promised the villagers."
"It's perfectly simple," Amphitrite snorted when her husband told her the tale. "He owes me. Be sure and tell him that," and whispered a spell.
"It's perfectly simple," Poseidon told Hercules a short time later. And told Hercules the spell.
Hercules waded into the village. The water was nearly up to his neck. Hercules barely noticed. He was already soaked, and there was probably no saving his new coat anyway. He shouted at the villagers who were fearfully hanging on to their thatched, and none too sturdy, roof tops.
"Turns out, it's perfectly simple," Hercules shouted reassuringly.
He cast the spell. The water hesitated a moment, then retreated until finally all of the water had entered the well.
Unfortunately, when the bucket was raised, the villagers discovered their precious water was no longer tasty, for water.
Just the same, the cheers were deafening. "Hire Hercules!" they chanted. "No problem too big or too small!"
The villagers quickly lined up, nearly as far as the eye could see, eager for their turn to taste the new well water, water that had become clean, cold, tasty wine. Compliments of the wine god, Dionysus.
With a wave goodbye to the grateful villagers, Hercules returned home. He hung his coat up to dry, and filed the case as The Case of the Enchanted Well.
Hercules heard later that the water to wine spell only lasted a brief time, but the villagers were fine with that. They liked their cold, sweet water just the way it was. They never tired of bragging about the Hercules Detective Agency, and how Hercules himself had saved their village and everyone in it.