J acob tightened the lid on the last jar, then placed it on the shelf near the others. He was well ahead of schedule, and knew Moe would be pleased when he returned.
He pulled his jacket from the crate he had dropped it on, and slipped his arms into the sleeves.
He still marveled at the warmth this woolen contraption gave. His fingers mechanically closed the buttons before removing the gloves from his pockets. He couldn’t remember ever being so well protected from the frosty weather.
The door to the shed opened abruptly.
“Pa,” a young boy called. “Pa, you in here?” He noticed Jacob. “Oh, I’m looking for my father.”
Jacob could only stare in amazement. He had never seen another boy before.
“Did you see Pa?”
Jacob quickly came to his senses. “You mean Mr. Matthews.”
The boy nodded.
“He’s not in here.”
“You must be the new farmhand. Pa told me he brought home a new laborer.” He held out his hand. “I’m Zachary.”
Jacob looked at the outstretched arm, and wondered why Zachary had extended it. Did he want something?
“Something wrong with your hand?” Zachary said.
“No.” Jacob was confused.
“So you think I have spreadable germs or something?”
Jacob’s forehead creased. “Why would I think that?”
Zachary lowered his hand. “Oh, I get it. You’re not right in the head.”
Jacob puffed out his chest. “Of course I’m right in the head. What makes you think I’m not?”
Zachary crossed his arms in front of his chest. “Because you wouldn’t shake my hand.”
“Why would I want to shake your hand?” Jacob said. “Do you have a cramp in it?”
Zachary raised an eyebrow. “Cramp? What on earth are you talking about?”
“You said something about shaking your hand. I usually shake mine when it cramps up.”
Zachary’s eyebrows shot up. “Who said anything about my hand hurting? All I did was introduce myself and try to shake your hand.”
“I know,” Jacob said. “I’m just trying to figure out why you wanted me to shake your hand, that’s all.”
“I just told you!” Zachary’s voice rose. “I was introducing myself.”
“What does introducing yourself have to do with shaking your hand?”
Zachary peered at Jacob. “Don’t you know etiquette?”
Jacob’s frowned. “No, I don’t know anyone from around here.”
Zachary burst out laughing.
“I’m not sure what’s so funny,” Jacob said, “but I’d better head back for lunch.”
Zachary’s laughter instantly stopped. “Aren’t you going to tell me your name first?”
Zachary smiled and held out his hand. “Hi, Jacob, it’s nice to meet you.”
Jacob hesitated then grasped Zachary’s hand with his own. It suddenly made sense. Shaking hands was a way of introducing yourself. He hadn’t known. He had never seen anyone shake hands before.
“It’s nice to meet you, too,” Jacob said.
“Where you from?” Zachary asked.
Jacob licked his lips. How would he explain that he had no idea where he was from? The boy already thought him a fool.
“Zach!” a voice called. “Zach!”
Zachary’s shoulders straightened. “That’s Pa.”