J acob tended to his chores after a quick breakfast of bread and jam. Mrs. Sommers had told him about the telegrams from Moe and Mr. Matthews stating that they’d both be returning late.

Jacob was disappointed. He missed the kind, elderly gentleman.

“Sorry about the cold breakfast,” Mrs. Sommers had apologized. “Other than boiling water for tea, I’m not permitted to cook anything for you, Jacob, house rules. Moe doesn’t allow anyone to use this kitchen.”

“Why not?”

“Just something about dietary restrictions. It would cost me my job if I so much as cooked an egg. Mr. Matthews made that clear when he hired me.”

“It’s fine, really. The bread is good. I never got fresh bread back where I— never mind,” he mumbled. Jacob reached for his glass and took a long drink.

Mrs. Sommers smiled caringly. “Well, there’s plenty more bread in the basket if you’d like.” Jacob didn’t tell her that he had already taken two loaves and hidden them under his bed.

“I might have to go to town today for fruits and vegetables,” Mrs. Sommers said. “Moe usually does the buying, but with him gone, I think I’ll take the wagon to town. It’s been a while since I was there anyway. Is there anything you’d like me to bring back for you?”

Jacob’s eyes were wistful. He wished he could join her. He hadn’t ever seen a town, but knew he had chores to finish. Besides, he wasn’t sure if he was allowed to leave the farm.

“I have everything I need,” he said. “Thank you.”

“Jacob, you’re a first-class gentleman,” Mrs. Sommers said, “but I just may find something special for you anyway. I’ll leave after lunch, and return in time for dinner.”

A bit later, with all his chores completed, Jacob returned to the bunk house. He pulled a pair of clean trousers from the shelf, and placed a shirt and a pair of socks on top. He stuffed them into a burlap sack and bent down to pull the bread out from under his bed. He added those to his sack and secured it shut. Jacob was ready now to hitch a ride on the back of Mr. Matthews’s wagon on his next trip to the onion farm.

He shoved the burlap sack deep under his bed then stood up. With lots of time on his hands, Jacob picked up Mrs. Sommers’s book on horses and plopped onto his bed. He opened to the first page, and frowned. He couldn’t read a single word.

Idy had showed him how to write his name, by scratching the letters into the earth with a stick, but that was all he knew. He couldn’t wait to show Idy the book Mrs. Sommers had given him. With it, Idy could teach him how to read. (Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 664)