A Different Spring
A short story by
This story is copyrighted by Sam Lelliott, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.
Sam Evans had spent his life on the same farm with his doting parents in the valleys of Wales. In spring the sheep were lambing and things were a little better at the farm but far from good. The two sheep dogs Amber and Darcie were past the busiest time for them, but they still accompanied Sam and his dad to patrol the lower hillside to check on the lambs. Snow had been gently falling for the whole day, rare for late March, but not enough to cause a problem to the lambing season. So far all had gone well and Sam's father was looking forward to making just enough money to save the farm from going bust. Last year was a disaster for the family. The winter had closed in and 60% of the lambs had died.
Sam at the age of 14 had the task of helping his dad on the farm to try and keep things going. He did his best working long hours before and after school, many at this time of the year during the night to help his dad survive. His dad was one of the best and although he had a bad year last year his dad had tried to pay for Sam to go to France with the school. Unfortunately he hadn't been able to find the £200,00 needed. Although Sam was disappointed he knew his dad would have found the money if he could. Sam's mum was not in the best of health with arthritis causing her severe pain even at such a young age.
Sam had just started a ten day holiday for the school half term and looked forward during his spare time to do what he loved most, to wander the hills around the valley. He loved to get up high and look down on the beauty of the valley where he was born. He had explored quite a lot of the hills in the last eighteen months since his father had allowed him to wander on his own. So it was, wrapped up warm, that on Monday morning after he had helped his dad with the sheep and lambs, he set off on climbing a new hillside. He climbed up a barely visible track that rose steeply for a thousand feet into a small wood of fir trees. As he got to the edge of the wood he stopped to have a drink and a snack of mum's homemade rabbit pie. He sat in virtual silence listening to the small noises of the hills, mostly the sounds of the birds and soft far away noises of sheep. Yet his ears picked up a new sound. He listened hard for a while. Then it came to him, water flowing gently somewhere not far away. He was one of those boys who have a thirst for knowledge. After he finished his snack, he determined to find the place the sound came from. He set off, further up the hill into the wood. As he climbed the noise increased. Finally after a short while he saw it. Water flowing out of the ground for just a minute until a short distance further on quickly disappeared back underground, probably dropping down into caves inside the hill. Sam looked at the spring and then stood behind it. He noticed that he could see their newly refurbished barn immediately below him.
Sam was a bright practical thinking boy and saw something that might just, if he could get the help, save his father loosing the farm. It had been in the family for almost 200 years. He noted the spot where the water came out of the ground and set off back down the hill. If he hurried he could just catch the bus into town. He ran as best he could, he bypassed the farm to where the bus would stop if hailed. He just made it as the bus came round the corner. The driver saw Sam and pulled in to the edge of the road and Sam climbed the steps, greeted Ted the driver, showed his bus pass and then sat down. He felt excited about his idea but he knew he needed a lot of luck and the skill of others for it to work. Finally the bus got to town and Sam got off. Where should he go first? He made his decision and went to see his friends' father. Alan Hobbs was a good man and brilliant at what he did. Sam put his idea to him and Alan listened with interest. He gave Sam his answer and Sam thanked him for his kindness. His next port of call was the local bank. Sam had a small savings account there where he put the money his father would give him as and when he could. The bank manager Mr Giles knew Sam and his father well so when Sam asked to see him he was happy to do so.
Sam spent almost an hour talking with Mr Giles who spent most of the time not saying a lot but nodding his head in the right places. He asked Sam to wait outside his office for a minute while he made a phone call. Minutes later Mr. Giles called Sam back into his office. Sam left the bank with a spring in his step and headed off to Mr. Jones the local printer. Mr. Jones was quite busy but made time for Sam. They talked together for a while and when Sam left he shook hands with the printer and thanked him. His next stop was at the local hospital where he went to see one of the specialists who gave him the final answer he needed. Now all he had to do was to try and keep it all secret until all was in place.
During the next month a lot happened on the hillside at night under cover of darkness. Finally the time to complete the last task was ready. Sam's father was called to the bank on the Tuesday morning to see Mr Giles. During that time Alan Hobbs finished his task. Finally all was set up. Sam's dad arrived back at the farm, after having his visit mysteriously turned into a full day by various events created in town to keep him there. When he returned home at 6 o'clock, much to his surprise, there to greet him were many people he knew. Alan Hobbs, Mr. Giles, Mr. Jones, his wife and Sam his son. To say he was taken aback would be an understatement. Sam elected to at last tell his father what had been happening. He took him to the barn and showed him the row of taps with crystal clear water running from each. His father shook his head in disbelief. Sam let his dad look around and slowly told his father his master plan.
The spring water would be bottled and sold as 'Witch Farm Spring' Mineral Water.
With the banks help they already had orders for thousands of bottles per month. Mr. Giles had invested the bank's money into the scheme in return for some of the profit. Alan Hobbs had done all the plumbing and Mr Jones had delivered the printed labels. In boxes stacked in a corner of the barn were thousands of plastic bottles waiting to be filled with Witch Farm Spring Mineral Water.
Sam's dad finally had to sit down. He called Sam to him and gave his son as big a hug as he could remember doing. Alan Hobbs said he had checked the water flow and they would be able to bottle one bottle from each tap in half a minute. With 10 taps that would be 1,200 bottles an hour, allowing time for any problems and breaks from the filling that should be at least 36,000 1 litre bottles per week.
Word soon got around Wales, then later further afield into England, and Scotland.
Before 5 years had elapsed the Barn was too small. A new purpose built building was built and new springs were found to keep pace with the demand. The factory now employed over one hundred local people. Sam's mother was sent to get the best possible treatment for her Arthritis. Sam's father, now a millionaire, still looked after a few sheep. His old car was gone and now a top of the class Range Rover was in its place.
Sam? Ah well, Sam was at university in his first year studying a degree in business studies. What does Sam get from his clever plan? Well, he is a very wealthy young man, a Director and part owner of the Company, and whenever he wants to he goes to France to practice the French he learned during his 'A' Levels at school, he goes without worry about money. His great love is still walking and exploring the hills around the valley at home.
The family were now very prosperous due to Sam's bright idea and 'Witch Farm Spring' Mineral Water was well known all over the World. The financial turnover for the last year was £8.5 million pounds.
Sam still smiles when he remembers swapping one spring for a different spring.