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
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
 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
And he was allers talkin' about 'em to folks, p'intin' out
that little stone that he 'd stubbed his toe on, and this
 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
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.