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|The Haunted Bookshop||Christopher Morley|
The Disappearing Volume
|Page 1 of 9||
Well, my dear," said Roger after supper that evening, "I think perhaps we had better introduce Miss Titania to our custom of reading aloud."
"Perhaps it would bore her?" said Helen. "You know it isn't everybody that likes being read to."
"Oh, I should love it!" exclaimed Titania. "I don't think anybody ever read to me, that is not since I was a child."
"Suppose we leave you to look after the shop," said Helen to Roger, in a teasing mood, "and I'll take Titania out to the movies. I think Tarzan is still running."
Whatever private impulses Miss Chapman may have felt, she saw by the bookseller's downcast face that a visit to Tarzan would break his heart, and she was prompt to disclaim any taste for the screen classic.
"Dear me," she said; "Tarzan--that's all that nature stuff by John Burroughs; isn't it? Oh, Mrs. Mifflin, I think it would be very tedious. Let's have Mr. Mifflin read to us. I'll get down my knitting bag."
"You mustn't mind being interrupted," said Helen. "When anybody rings the bell Roger has to run out and tend the shop."
"You must let me do it," said Titania. "I want to earn my wages, you know."
"All right," said Mrs. Mifflin; "Roger, you settle Miss Chapman in the den and give her something to look at while we do the dishes."
But Roger was all on fire to begin the reading. "Why don't we postpone the dishes," he said, "just to celebrate?"
"Let me help," insisted Titania. "I should think washing up would be great fun."
"No, no, not on your first evening," said Helen. "Mr. Mifflin and I will finish them in a jiffy."
So Roger poked up the coal fire in the den, disposed the chairs, and gave Titania a copy of Sartor Resartus to look at. He then vanished into the kitchen with his wife, whence Titania heard the cheerful clank of crockery in a dishpan and the splashing of hot water. "The best thing about washing up," she heard Roger say, "is that it makes one's hands so clean, a novel sensation for a second-hand bookseller."
She gave Sartor Resartus what is graphically described as a "once over," and then seeing the morning Times lying on the table, picked it up, as she had not read it. Her eye fell upon the column headed
LOST AND FOUND
and as she had recently lost a little pearl brooch, she ran hastily through it. She chuckled a little over
LOST--Hotel Imperial lavatory, set of teeth. Call or communicate Steel, 134 East 43 St. Reward, no questions asked.
Then she saw this:
LOST--Copy of Thomas Carlyle's "Oliver Cromwell," between Gissing Street, Brooklyn, and the Octagon Hotel. If found before midnight, Tuesday, Dec. 3, return to assistant chef, Octagon Hotel.
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