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“Wait a minute!” Sagacia called from the top of the stairs.

Simplia was just at that moment getting ready to cut the brown paper wrapping to the size of the box she’d found for all the letters to Carefully Clairvoyant in Cleveland. She had the tape and string and her favorite rich brown sharpie lined up on the table at the ready, and she knew exactly how she wanted to fit and fold the paper.

“Wait for what?” she called.

“I got one of those flat rate boxes at the post office last week. We can put the letters in there,” Sagacia said, stumbling down the stairs and whisking over to the table waving her official-looking box in the air. “See?”

Simplia eyed the clean whiteness of it with its smart red and blue design and its centered address lines.

“Oh,” she said, her satisfying moments of cutting and folding faded before her very eyes. “Well, I guess that’s nice.”

Sagacia did not hear the wistfulness in her friend’s voice. She popped the box into shape, peeled off the strips that protected the super-forever adhesive, laid the stack of letters inside and, “Voila!” she said.

“Now, you can write the address right there.” she pointed.

“Will you do it?” Simplia asked meekly. “I think I’m going to step outside for a minute.

Sagacia picked up the pen and gaily began to scribble their return address. Simplia stepped out and heaved a sigh. A dog bark down the way alerted her to the fact that the mail must have arrived! She walked out to the mailbox to retrieve the daily glut of catalogs, museum announcements, and AARP notices.

And one letter.

Addressed to “Vasilisa the Wise.”

She ran back toward the door. “Sagacia!” she called.

She slammed the door behind her. “Here’s another one!” she said. “Don’t seal it yet!”

“What?” Sagacia squawked! “Too late! It’s ready to go!”

“But here’s another letter!” Simplia said, tearing through the envelope seal with her finger. “It’s from Nick Smith,” she noted, unfolding the paper. And she began to read aloud.

I think that another lesson here is that a good story will be remembered, and that a bad story will not. It always seemed to me that this is the filtering part of the folk process.
 Even now, there are children’s primers and early readers that contain good stories, and kids will ask for them even once they’re past the point of needing those books in order to learn how to read. Then, there are the others.
 I never had to deal with the McGuffy books, but I certainly remember Dick and Jane readers. They were a great incentive to learn how to read better, so that I could show the teacher I never needed those stupid things, ever again.

Dick and JaneSagacia remained silent, the sealed box on the table in front of her, it’s brown scribbles quivering.

“CC in C needs to know this, too!” Simplia said softly.

“Oh, I guess so,” Sagacia replied. She stuck her fingernail under the end flap. “CC wanted to know about small lessons, and as small lessons go, it’s a big one.” She gripped the corner of the flap and pulled. “Your grandfather would have to agree with that.”

She tugged again, renewed her grip, then pulled heartily, ripping off a chunk of cardboard along with a strip of the top paper layer. It peeled off across the front of the box and right through the middle of the address.

“Oh, rats!” she said. “Now what!!?”

“It’s okay,” said Simplia. “I have another box right here. It will just take a minute!” she smiled. “You’ll see!”