Long long ago, there were four very poor farmers. They were good friends and they worked very hard together. One day, there was a very severe drought. The crops that the farmers had grown had all died. The cows and horses in the farm were starving because the grass had died. The stream nearby had dried up. The only source of water was from the farmers’ well.
One of the farmers, Mr. Lim, went to the well to collect some water. As there was very little water left, he brought home all the water he could find in the well. Mr. Lim and the other farmers divided the water between themselves. But they soon discovered another problem… No matter how they divided the water, there would be one portion that has more water!
What could be done? The farmers put their heads together and thought.
Finally, another farmer, Mr. Tan, slapped his knees and said, “I know! We’ll draw a picture of a cow with blue ink and the farmer who draws the cow in the shortest time and without any mistakes wins!” All the farmers agreed and they sent Mr. Pang, their chief, to fetch the blue ink.
After a few minutes, Mr. Pang came back with the ink, smiling. He banged the bottle of ink onto their dining table.
“Here it is! A bottleful of ink!” said Mr. Pang.
Well, perhaps he banged the bottle too hard. As the bottle was made of glass, it cracked and, without the farmers knowing it, the ink slowly dripped into the little bottle of water and gradually turned it blue.
“Now we can have our competition!” cheered all the farmers together.
It was at that time when the farmers realised that they did not have any paper. Once again, Mr. Pang went to fetch it. By the time he came back with the paper, all the ink has dripped into the uncapped bottle of well (now blue) water. The farmers were about to start the competition when Mr. Toh, the remaining farmer, gave a shriek of surprise.
“Where did the ink go?!” he asked Mr. Pang.
“I don’t know!” replied Mr. Pang.
“Stop quarreling! Let’s just drink the water! I am dehydrating already.” Mr. Tan said.
So the farmers took out the bottle of ‘blue water’.
When the farmers saw the ‘blue water’, the not-so-clever Mr. Lim shouted, “Wow! Look, the ink has heard our words, and look! There is more blue ink!”
The farmers, surprisingly, believed him.
Mr. Pang suddenly shouted, “Hey! We have never thought of that, but why don’t we bring the ink and paper outside to observe the cows!”
All the farmers agreed. Mr. Pang, Mr. Tan and Mr. Lim carried the heavy bottle of ‘blue water’ while Mr. Toh carried the paper.
After a while, Mr. Lim felt tired and let go, strolling leisurely. Mr. Tan thought that it wasn’t fair that Mr. Lim was empty-handed, so he stopped working, too. As for poor Mr. Pang, he felt that he’s hands were about to break soon! By the time they reached the cow field named ‘pilot field’, Mr. Pang dropped the bottle and ‘blue water’ began to flow out!
The ink flowed all around the farmers and began to flow to their surroundings, too. It stained a few sticks, and Mr. Pang picked up the stained sticks.
‘So much for the competition…’ he thought.
Before he knew what he was doing, he picked up a paper and drew a cow with the stick!
The farmers saw what he was doing and told him, “Why don’t we give our invention a name before we start this competition?”
“Hmm… How about ‘pilot fountain pen?’ We invented it in pilot field, under a tree that looks like a fountain…” began Mr. Pang
“… And it looks like a pencil, so let’s take the first syllabus of it, pen…” said Mr. Toh.
“…So it is ‘pilot fountain pen!'” finished Mr. Tan.
Just then, a rich man came forward and said, “Wow… a good invention! Will you sell it to me for a good price, let’s say, US$150?”
Of course, the farmers agreed, and with the money, they built a building and bought water and food. They sold their farmyard and after a while of producing more ‘pilot fountain pen (uncapped at that time)’, more people joined their company, and this invention, of course, is very useful to the world, even now. And of course Mr. Pang, Mr. Tan, Mr. Lim and Mr. Toh were not poor farmers anymore!