Diff'ent Kind o' Bundles
E VERYBODY in Greenhills knew "Stoopin' Jacob," the little hump-backed boy who lived at the north end of the village. From babyhood he had suffered from a grievous deformity which rounded his little shoulders and bowed the frail form. It was characteristic of the kindly folk of the neighborhood, that, instead of calling the boy Hump-backed or Crooked-backed Jacob, they gave him the name of Stoopin' Jacob, as if the bowed and bent posture was voluntary, and not enforced.
A lovely soul dwelt in that crooked, pain-racked body, and looked out of the gentle brown eyes shining in the pale, thin little face. Every one loved the boy, most of all the dogs, cats, horses, cows of the little farms, the birds and animals of forest and brookside. He knew them all, and they knew, loved, and trusted him. The tinier creatures, such as butterflies, bees, ants, beetles, even caterpillars, downy or smooth, were his friends, or seemed so. He knew them, watched them, studied their habits, and was the little naturalist of Greenhills village, consulted by all, even by older and wiser people.
A close friendship existed between the boy and Story-tell Lib, and we all understood the tale she told us one day when Stoopin' Jacob was one of the listeners.
Diff'ent Kind o' Bundles
Once there was a lot o' folks, and every single one on 'em had bundles on their backs. But they was all diff'ent, oh! jest as diff'ent as—as anything, the bundles was. And these folks all b'longed to one person, that they called the Head Man. They was his folks, and nobody else's, and he had the whole say, and could do anything he wanted to. But he was real nice, and always done jest the best thing,—yes, sir, the bestest thing, whatever folks might say against it.
Well, I was tellin' ye about how these folks had diff'ent kind o' bundles on their backs. 'T was this way. One on 'em was a man that had a real hefty bundle on his back, that he 'd put on there hisself,—not all to onct, but a mite to time, for years 'n' years. 'T was a real cur'us bundle, made up out o' little things in the road that 'd got in his way, or hurt him, or put him back. Some on 'em was jest little stones that had hurt his feet, and some was little stingin' weeds that smarted him as he went by 'em, and some was jest mites o' dirt somebody 'd throwed at him, not meanin' no great o' harm. He 'd picked 'em all up, every bit o' worryin, prickin', hurtin' little thing, and he 'd piled 'em up on his back till he had a big bundle that he allers carried about and never forgot for a minute.
He was f'rever lookin' out for sech troublin' things, too, and he 'd see 'em way ahead on him in his road, and sometimes he 'd think he see 'em when there wa' n't any there 't all. And, 'stead o' lettin' 'em lay where they was, and goin' right ahead and forgettin' 'em, he 'd pick every single one on 'em up and pile 'em on that bundle, and carry 'em wherever he went.
And he was allers talkin' about 'em to folks, p'intin' out that little stone that he 'd stubbed his toe on, and this pesky weed that stung him, and t' other little mite o' mud he 'd conceited somebody 'd throwed at him. He fretted and scolded and complained 'bout 'em, and made out that nobody never had so many tryin' things gettin' in his way as he had. He never took into 'count, ye see, that he 'd picked 'em up hisself and piled 'em on his own back. If he 'd just let 'em lay, and gone along, he 'd 'a forgot 'em all, I guess, after a spell.
Then there was another man with a bundle, a cur'us one too, for 't was all made out o' money, dreadful heavy and cold and hard to carry. Every speck o' money he could scrape together he 'd put in that bundle, till he could n't scursely heft it, 't was that big and weighed so much. He had plenty o' chances to make it lighter, for there was folks all along the road that needed it bad,—little child'en that had n't no clo'es nor no victuals, and sick folks and old folks, every one on 'em needin' money dreadful bad. But the man never gin 'em a mite. He kep' it all on his back, a-hurtin' and weighin' him down.
Then ag'in there was another man. He had a bundle that he did n't put on his back hisself, nor the Head Man did n't nuther. Folks did it to him. He had n't done nothin' to deserve it, 't was jest put on him by other people, and so 't was powerful hard to bear. But, ye see, the Head Man had pervided partic'lar for them kind, and he 'd said in public, so 't everybody knowed about it, that he 'd help folks like that,—said he 'd help 'em carry sech bundles hisself, or mebbe take 'em off, if it 'peared to be best.
But this man disremembered that,—or, worse still, p'r'aps he did n't 'zackly believe it. So he went along all scrunched down with that hefty bundle other folks had piled up on him, not scoldin' nor complainin' nor gittin' mad about it, but jest thinkin' it had got to be, and nobody could help him. But ye see it had n't got to be, and somebody could 'a' helped him.
And then bimeby along come a man that had sech a hefty, hefty bundle! 'T was right 'tween his shoulders, and it sort o' scrooched him down, and it hurt him in his back and in his feelin's. The Head Man had put that bundle on the man hisself when he was a little bit of a feller. He 'd made it out o' flesh and skin and things. It was jest ezackly like the man's body, so 't when it ached he ached hisself. And he 'd had to carry that thing about all his born days.
I don't know why the Head man done it, I 'm sure, but I know how good and pleasant he was, and how he liked his folks and meant well to 'em, and how he knowed jest what oughter be and what had n't oughter be, so 't stands to reason he 'd done this thing a-purpose, and not careless like, and he had n't made no mistake.
I 've guessed a lot o' reasons why he done it. Mebbe he see the man would n't 'a' done so well without the bundle,—might 'a' run off, 'way, 'way off from the Head Man and the work he had to do. Or, ag'in, p'r'aps he wanted to make a 'zample of the man, and show folks how patient and nice a body could be, even though he had a big, hefty bundle to carry all his born days, one made out o' flesh and skin and things, and that hurt dreadful.
But my other guess is the one I b'leeve in most,—that the Head Man done it to scrooch him down, so 's he 'd take notice o' little teenty things, down below, that most folks never see, things that needed him to watch 'em, and do for 'em, and tell about 'em. That 's my fav'rite guess. 'T any rate, the Head Man done right,—I 'm cert'in sure o' that.
And it had made the man nicer, and pleasanter spoken, and kinder to folks, and partic'lar to creaturs. It had made him sort o' bend down, 't was so hefty, and so he 'd got to takin' notice o' teenty little things nobody else scursely 'd see,—mites o' posies, and cunnin' little bugs, and creepin', crawlin' things. He took a heap o' comfort in 'em. And he told other folks 'bout them little things and their little ways, and what they was made for, and things they could learn us; and 't was real int'restin', and done folks good too.
And, deary me, he was that patient and good and uncomplainin', you never see! No, I ain't a-cryin'. This was a stranger, this man, you know, and I make a p'int o' never cryin' about strangers.
There was a lot and a lot more kinds o' folks with bundles, but I 'm only goin to tell ye about them four,—this time, any way.
Well, come pay day, these folks all come up afore the Head Man to be settled with. And fust he called up the man that had the bundle all made out o' things that had pricked him, and tripped him up, and scratched him, and put him back on the road. And then he had up the man with the money weighin' him down,—the money he 'd kep' away from poor folks and piled up on his own back. And then come the feller that was carryin' the heavy bundle folks had put on him when 't wa' n't no fault o' his'n, and that he might 'a' got red of a long spell back, if he 'd only rec'lected what the Head Man had said 'bout sech cases, and how they could be helped.
I ain't a-goin' to tell ye what he said to them folks, 'cause 't ain't my business, seems to me. Whether he punished either on 'em, or scolded 'em, or sent 'em off to try ag'in, or what all, never mind. Knowin' 's much as I do about the ways o' that Head Man, I bet he made 'em feel terrible ashamed, any way.
But when he came to the man with the bundle made out o' flesh and skin and things, he looks at him a minute, and then says he, the Head Man does, "Why," he says, "that 's my own work! I made that bundle, and I fixed it on your back all myself. I hefted and I sized it, and I hefted you and sized you. A mite of a young one you was then. I made it jest hefty enough for you to carry, not a bit heftier, no more nor less. I rec'lect it well;" he says. "I ain't forgot it. I never forgot it one minute sence I fitted in on, though mebbe you kind o' thought by spells that I had. And now;" he says—No, I can't tell ye what he says. It 's a secret, that is. But I don't mind lettin' ye know that the man was sat'sfied, perfec'ly sat'sfied. A Angel told me he was, and went on to say the man was dreadful pleased to find he 'd been wearin' a bundle the Head Man hisself had made and fixed on him, heftin' it and sizin' it, and heftin' him and sizin' him too, so 's 't wa' n't too much for him to carry. But he ain't carryin' it no more. The Angel said so.