On this particular morning, there was a mist in the air and it was already very hot. The rubber plantation was quiet, dark and still. Lim went round the trees, one by one, inspecting the tins and emptying them. Some of them were full to the top, but quite a lot of them were only half-full or even less than that. However, he went to indifferently pouring the latex into the bucket without even bothering to think why so many of the tins were nearly empty.
"I'll take what I've got and not worry about anything else" he thought and joined his father at the shed. Of course, they were not paid so much money that morning, because the latex simply wasn't there.
"What's happened today, son ?" asked his father crossly. "Have you missed out half the trees or what ?"
"I don't know," shrugged Lim, who ante to hurry home with his share of the payment to check if he had got enough money to buy the latest record of his favorite pop-singer.
"Perhaps some of the tins have got holes in them," suggested his father. "Our rubber trees are young and should be yielding far more than this. Check all the tins tomorrow !"
"Check all the tins, my foot !" muttered Lim. But not aloud, of course.
And so the day passed and his father came home cross, because he had hope to have more money.
"Don't forget those tins tomorrow," he said to him. "If they've got holes in them, you must mend with some tin solder do it in good time. If you don't, we'll have to replace all the tins with new ones to say nothing of losing a lot of good latex and the good money that goes with it as well. Remember that 'a stitch in time saves nine' and in case you are too stupid to understand that, it is a European proverb which means that a little bit of trouble and work today will save the necessity of a lot of trouble and work tomorrow.
"Always preaching," mumbled Lim, as he went to bed. "They are all the same."
The next morning, however, he did check the tins and sure enough, as he poured out the latex and inspected the bottoms of the small round tins, he found tiny holes in quite half of them. the latex which had collected was, of course, much less because so much of it had dropped through these holes and had begun to congeal on the soft grass at the base of each tree.
"I'll find some better tins later on today," thought Lim, and I'll buy a stick of solder in the village and come back and mend the rest tonight. But, in fact he did nothing of the sort.
The next morning, the pools of latex below the rubber tree were bigger than ever, because somehow during the night, the holes in the tins seemed to have got bigger than ever. The quantity of latex was so small that his father came to inspect the tins himself.
"You'll get them mended or replaced now, this very morning," he yelled in rage, as he looked at the shiftless Lim. "Do it at once."
But, Lim never did and so, not many days later, there were no latex at all and the tins were beyond hoe of repair.
"They've all got to be replaced now" said his father, "and time and money will be lost while we renew them all. If only you'd listened to me and mended them while the holes were small, all this trouble would have been avoided. Now do you see that stitch in time saves nine or will you always be too stupid either to listen or to learn ?"
Have you ever heard one of your grandparents say, “A stitch in time saves nine"? They may have uttered this phrase with a wise nod of the head after a subtlerecommendation to do something now, rather than waiting until later. You may have thought, “Saves nine what?" If so, read on…
“A stitch in time saves nine" is an idiom, which is a phrase whose symbolic or intended meaning is different from the literal meaning of the words themselves.
Historians believe it first appeared in print in 1732 in Thomas Fuller's Gnomologia, Adagies and Proverbs, Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British. Of course, if Fuller considered this saying to be a proverb in 1732, it was probably around for many years before that.
Its meaning is quite simple: Don't procrastinate! Procrastination means to delay or put off doing something until a later time.
People use “a stitch in time saves nine" to express that it's better to spend a little time and effort to deal with a problem right now than to wait until later, when it may get worse and take longer to deal with. Many believe procrastination — putting off doing something until later — creates more work in the long run.
Although no one knows for sure who came up with this saying or what significance stitches or the number nine have, many people believe it was started by mothers weary of mending their children's clothing.
The phrase thus might be stated more clearly as, “One stitch, in time, saves nine stitches," meaning that mending a tear right away would only require one stitch instead of the 10 stitches necessary later if the tear goes unfixed and worsens.
Many people shorten the phrase to just "a stitch in time." Other similar proverbs include “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" and “there's no time like the present."