“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. Frank and Laura were behind the fir. They saw her through the branches. She, through the farther thickness of the tree, did not notice them.
“That was good,” said Laura. “She would have beckoned us in. I hate that forefinger of hers; it’s always hushing or beckoning. It’s only two inches long. What makes us have to mind it so?”
“She puts it all into those two inches,” answered Frank. “All the must there is in the house. And then you’ve got to.”
“I wouldn’t—if father wasn’t sick.”
“Laura,” said Frank, gravely, “I don’t believe father is going to get well. What do you suppose they’re letting us stay at home from school for?”
“O, that,” said Laura, “was because Mrs. Lake didn’t have time to sew the sleeves into your brown dress.”
“I could have worn my gingham, Laura. What if he should die pretty soon? I heard her tell Luclarion that there must be a change before long. They talk in little bits, Laura, and they say it solemn.”
The children were silent for a few minutes. Frank sat looking through the fir-tree at the far-off flecks of blue.
Mr. Shiere had been ill a long time. They could hardly think, now, what it would seem again not to have a sick father; and they had had no mother for several years,—many out of their short remembrance of life. Mrs. Lake had kept the house, and mended their clothes, and held up her forefinger at them. Even when Mr. Shiere was well, he had been a reserved man, much absorbed in business since his wife’s death, he had been a very sad man. He loved his children, but he was very little with them. Frank and Laura could not feel the shock and loss that children feel when death comes and robs them suddenly of a close companionship.
“What do you suppose would happen then?” asked Laura, after awhile. “We shouldn’t be anybody’s children.”
“Yes, we should,” said Frank; “we should be God’s.’
“Everybody else is that,—besides,” said Laura.
“We shall have black silk pantalets again, I suppose,”—she began, afresh, looking down at her white ones with double crimped ruffles,—“and Mrs. Gibbs will come in and help, and we shall have to pipe and overcast.”
“O, Laura, how nice it was ever so long ago!” cried Frank, suddenly, never heeding the pantalets, “when mother sent us out to ask company to tea,—that pleasant Saturday, you know,—and made lace pelerines for our dolls while we were gone! It’s horrid, when other girls have mothers, only to have a housekeeper! And pretty soon we sha’n’t have anything, only a little corner, away back, that we can’t hardly recollect.”