Tim Little was born in a hat. His mother said it was the easiest birth she ever had. There was no midwife, no clenched jaw, husband wringing hands in the hall, seven siblings wailing away for the attention lost to their incipient brother. Mrs. Little picked berries. She picked berries in the family orchard all hot Saturday, and when she doffed her hat to wipe her brow there was little Tim Little asleep in its crown. The accouchement was borne on the back of her hand, in the salty sweat gathered by honest work. Little Tim Little opened his newborn eyes and smiled at his mother, just before he gave his first wail (as babies do) for the milk Mrs. Little hardly knew she had. But the two of them discovered it directly.

And though he never grew higher than a fresh plucked apple, Tim Little was as healthy a man as any came puckered and yowling from his matron’s loins. Could be that was why Mrs. Little loved Tim best. And he was industrious too, hard working and clever as a fox on the loose. His father always said he had no little brain but a Little brain. Big difference.

Tim Little drove a wagon made from a watermelon rind, leading two runty cats that loved him and never broke from their traces, not even to hunt mice. He was a spy in World War I, a fine one, passing neatly under enemy lines never drawn to barricade a soldier such as he.

When the war was over and won he had a lingering notion to travel. “I feel the world’s in the palm of my hand,” he told his folks. And after a tearful goodbye he left them on the legs of a crow, his tiny arm holding tight and the other waving goodbye.

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