My Brother's Keeper
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a bond servant
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Place: Town of Nazareth
Characters: Jude, a young carpenter,
and his neighbor, Samuel.
"Where is your BROTHER........, today?"
Samuel was standing
in the doorway of the small carpentry shed.
He was holding a wooden stool in one hand: one of its spokes was broken. He looked down at a mud-colored,
mangy dog that was now standing on four matted
legs, whining, with scruffy tail wagging, and sniffing at his plump fingertips.
Jude shook his head, irritably: trying not to
sound testy. Jude put down the oxen yoke he
had been working on, and pointed to the dusty, cluttered floor beside his work stool. It was not even midday yet, and already several neighbors had wandered in: looking for his older brother. Jude sighed, and shook his head again: tiny splinters of wood shavings were sticking to his dark hair, and beard.
"He is OFF, again........
with those FRIENDS of
Jude gestured with his
".........outside of TOWN.........."
Samuel, middle-aged, stocky-looking fellow who obviously had never missed a meal in his forty-odd years, sat heavily down on an upturned bucket near the warm, sunlit doorway. The
sunlight was filled with dancing particles of dust, from the wood shavings, hay, stoneware, and pottery; the shed smelled like wood chips, dust, and damp, mangy dog fur. Samuel took a small loaf of bread from his leather pouch, tore it in half, and leaned over to give his younger neighbor the other piece.
MATTER... with HIM.....,
anyway? Why is he
Samuel spoke while
he was munching. Samuel
was always munching on
something; his wife was
sold baked goods in the
town, and was a very good baker.
.... I KNOW?"
Jude held the warm, doughy peice of bread
in both hands. He didn't have much appetite, at
the moment. He tore off a big piece and held it
out to the whimpering dog. The dog, one of
his brother's many bothersome pets, clomped his big,
uneven teeth on the tasty morsel, and slumped
down gratefully onto the cool, hay-strewn, dirt floor:
raggedy tail wagging, and little families of fleas and flies dancing merrily about his mud-colored fur.
"He never tells me....
Samuel munched, thoughtfully; he wished
he had brought a little cup of honey with him.
He was always hungry.
"Is he coming BACK....
to the SHOP? What is
he DOING...with those
people, ANYWAY? Aren't they just.......
Jude lifted the piece of bread to his lips, and
then put it down in his leather-aproned lap. He
shook his head, and sighed.
"I don't LIKE those men
he has taken up with,
Samuel. They are LOUD.. and BOISTEROUS....and,
at all.....and, yet Jesus
has taken up PREACHING...with them!
Jude took a bite of the bread; it was still warm from his neighbor's oven, and very tasty. Samuel's wife and family* spent all day baking, and selling their cakes, and breads. Samuel didn't do much, except work as the cake-taster, and town gossip.
"Is he studying to be
Samuel popped the last doughy piece of bread
into his mouth, and munched. Soon it would
be time for the midday meal, and his mouth
was already watering. He shrugged, and looked
around at the dusty, cluttered carpenter's
shop; everywhere lay carpenter's tools, sawdust, hay, odd bits and pieces of shaved wood, and small unwashed bowls; Jude's brother was known for feeding any unwanted stray animal that wandered into town.
"I didn't know....HE was
Jude grimaced. He picked up the broken stool which his neighbor had brought, and began
turning it this way, and that.
"Not that I KNOW.....of...
he's always been a bit of
a LONER.........going off
to be by himself, and
Samuel leaned back on the creaking bucket, and watched his young neighbor begin to
work earnestly on the little wooden stool. The
whole family were hard-workers, and had struggled ever since their father, Joseph,
had passed away several years before.
"He's always been a
THAT one........I remember when he was
a BOY.......so QUIET,
and so well-BEHAVED...
some of the OTHER youngsters would PICK
I've heard STORIES...
and, he never fought BACK....."
Jude blew on a piece of
shaving dust on the stool leg,
"He's ALWAYS been
that WAY.......even with
US......so QUIET, and
Samuel nodded and put a hand to his stomach. He stood up; the bucket underneath his weight creaked, loudly.
"WELL! I should be...
GOING.......you just keep that stool for as
long as you NEED....alright? I know
you have a lot to DO here.....what with Jesus
GONE, and all!"
Samuel put a hand to
his pouchy stomach, again; it was gurgling.
"Why don't you come
over for midday.... MEAL?
It'll be one less MOUTH.... for your poor
Jude looked up from his work, and nodded: smiling. His neighbor was always thinking about food.
"Thank you, Samuel.
I'll be along, then.....
Samuel stood in the
small doorway for a moment: plump face
squinting, and puckering with fat dimples,
in the bright dusty sunlight.
"Are you still....writing...
Jude? You're very
Jude shook his head,
"No........! Oh, yes,
I still write once in a WHILE......but...."
Jude smiled, and laughed
Samuel turned to walk out in the bright, warm
sunlight. Down the path, several children were out playing, and calling out to one another; it was a peaceful sight in the small, decrepid, little town.
"You're a very good
one day... people, outside
of our town....will....READ
Jude burst out laughing.
Go.....ON...with you, then!"
He laughed, again.
These are blemishes....
clouds without water,
carried along by the winds,
in late autumn, twice
dead.....wild waves of
the sea, casting up
the foam of their
for whom the nether
gloom of darkness
has been reserved
*Samuel's family worked
as bakers for generations,
and generations. After the
Jews were scattered in
A.D. 70, Samuel's children
ended up traveling northward,
and into a distant land
called Germany. Centuries later,
after much tribulation and
a lot more traveling, Samuel's
grandchildren ended up
in an even more distant
land called America.....
and founded a bakery
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