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Real Folks

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The parlor blinds were shut, and all the windows of the third-story rooms were shaded; but the pantry window, looking out on a long low shed, such as city houses have to keep their wood in and to dry their clothes upon, was open; and out at this window had come two little girls, with quiet steps and hushed voices, and carried their books and crickets to the very further end, establishing themselves there, where the shade of a tall, round fir tree, planted at the foot of the yard below, fell across the building of a morning.

"It was prettier down on the bricks," Luclarion had told them. But they thought otherwise.

"Luclarion doesn't know," said Frank. "People don't know things, I think. I wonder why, when they've got old, and ought to? It's like the sea-shore here, I guess, only the stones are all stuck down, and you mustn't pick up the loose ones either."

Frank touched lightly, as she spoke, the white and black and gray bits of gravel that covered the flat roof.

"And it smells—like the pine forests!"

The sun was hot and bright upon the fir branches and along the tar-cemented roof.

"How do you know about sea-shores and pine forests?" asked Laura, with crushing common sense.

"I don't know; but I do," said Frank.

"You don't know anything but stories and pictures and one tree, and a little gravel, all stuck down tight."

"I'm glad I've got one tree. And the rest of it,—why listen! It's in the word, Laura. Forest. Doesn't that sound like thousands of them, all fresh and rustling? And Ellen went to the sea-shore, in that book; and picked up pebbles; and the sea came up to her feet, just as the air comes up here, and you can't get any farther,"—said Frank, walking to the very edge and putting one foot out over, while the wind blew in her face up the long opening between rows of brick houses of which theirs was in the midst upon one side.

"A great sea!" exclaimed Laura, contemptuously. "With all those other wood-sheds right out in it, all the way down!"

"Well, there's another side to the sea; and capes, and islands," answered Frank, turning back. "Besides, I don't pretend it is; I only think it seems a little bit like it. I'm often put in mind of things. I don't know why."

"I'll tell you what it is like," said Laura. "It's like the gallery at church, where the singers stand up in a row, and look down, and all the people look up at them. I like high places. I like Cecilia, in the 'Bracelets,' sitting at the top, behind, when her name was called out for the prize; and 'they all made way, and she was on the floor in an instant.' I should like to have been Cecilia!"

"Leonora was a great deal the best."

"I know it; but she don't stand out."

"Laura! You're just like the Pharisees! You're always wishing for long clothes and high seats!"

"There ain't any Pharisees, nowadays," said Laura, securely. After which, of course, there was nothing more to be insisted.

Mrs. Lake, the housekeeper, came to the middle upper window, and moved the blind a little....