Our springhouse was a small shed built around a shallow hole where fresh, clear spring water was stored. I lived near the foothills of the mountains in Pennsylvania, where many springs bubble up from the ground. My grandfather had dug the hole, then lined it with bricks and cement to create a storage pool. An electric pump brought the cold, clear water into our house.
One day my cousin from the city came to visit us. Patty was a year older than I, and I thought she was so pretty and smart. She told me stories of riding a bus in the city and living in an apartment building with many other families. This was so strange and new to me. We lived in a little house with just me, my brother, and our mom and dad.
I wanted to show Patty all around our chicken farm and tell her about my chores of gathering the eggs and caring for the chickens. Patty didn’t like the smell of the chicken coop, so we didn’t stay around there for very long.
“Hey, what’s that little house on the side of the hill?” Patty said.
“That’s our springhouse, and I’m not allowed to go in there.”
“Because Mom says it’s a dangerous place for kids to play,” I explained.
“Aw, you’re just chicken. You just don’t want to show me the best place to make a secret hideout,” Patty said.
“I’m not afraid.”
“You’re a big baby! Don’t you want to see if there’s anything unusual in the spring?”
“My dad says there are lizards in the spring. They eat the bugs that fall into the spring, but I’ve never seen them. I never get close to the water.” I was starting to get worried. Did Patty really want to see in the springhouse?
“Come on, show me!” Patty was running ahead of me to open the springhouse door.
“I don’t think this is a good idea, Patty. I’m not supposed to be in here.”
“Stop acting like a baby and hurry up. We’ll close the door, and no one will even know we’re in here.” Patty shoved me in and pulled the door closed behind us.
There were no windows in the springhouse, and it was pitch black inside with the door closed. There was only a small brick ledge around the three-foot-deep well that held the spring water. As Patty tried to turn around in the small building, she accidentally pushed me into the well. I fell into the water headfirst!
Even though the well wasn’t deep, I was unable to get out of the water. It was filling up my mouth and lungs. I was so scared! I tried to scream, but that only made matters worse. All I could do was kick my legs, which were sticking up out of the well.
Suddenly I felt someone pulling me by my feet. My legs and then my belly scraped across the bricks as Patty pulled with all her might to get me out of the water. I was choking so much I didn’t realize how bad the scrapes were. I struggled to get my breath. Patty pulled me the whole way out of the springhouse and then ran to get my parents.
“Hurry, Aunt Grace! Linda fell into the well, and I pulled her out!” I heard Patty shouting to my mother.
“Oh, Linda, are you all right?” I felt bad seeing the worry on my mother’s face. I couldn’t stop shaking and crying. I knew I had disobeyed my mother by going into the springhouse, and I’d almost drowned.
“I’m sorry, Mom! I’ll never go into the springhouse again,” I cried.
“Well, we’re lucky Patty was there to pull you out. I’m sure you’ve learned a very valuable lesson. Don’t forget this the next time you want to disobey me.”
I never did tell my mom that it was Patty’s idea to go into the springhouse! I did learn several lessons that day. Most important, I learned to stand up for myself. If a friend wants to do something wrong, I don’t have to go along with it. I can just say, “No!”