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The Haunted Bookshop Christopher Morley

Aubrey Determines To Give Service That's Different

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For some minutes he lay prone on the tin roof, and during that time a number of distressing ideas occurred to him. If he really expected to get into Weintraub's house, why had he not laid his plans more carefully? Why (for instance) had he not made some attempt to find out how many there were in the household? Why had he not arranged with one of his friends to call Weintraub to the telephone at a given moment, so that he could be more sure of making an entry unnoticed? And what did he expect to see or do if he got inside the house? He found no answer to any of these questions.

It was unpleasantly cold, and he was glad to slip his coat on again. The small revolver was still in his hip pocket. Another thought occurred to him--that he should have provided himself with tennis shoes. However, it was some comfort to know that rubber heels of a nationally advertised brand were under him. He crawled quietly up to the sill of one of the windows. It was closed, and the room inside was dark. A blind was pulled most of the way down, leaving a gap of about four inches. Peeping cautiously over the sill, he could see farther inside the house a brightly lit door and a passageway.

"One thing I've got to look out for," he thought, "is children. There are bound to be some--who ever heard of a German without offspring? If I wake them, they'll bawl. This room is very likely a nursery, as it's on the southeastern side. Also, the window is shut tight, which is probably the German idea of bedroom ventilation."

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His guess may not have been a bad one, for after his eyes became accustomed to the dimness of the room he thought he could perceive two cot beds. He then crawled over to the other window. Here the blind was pulled down flush with the bottom of the sash. Trying the window very cautiously, he found it locked. Not knowing just what to do, he returned to the first window, and lay there peering in. The sill was just high enough above the roof level to make it necessary to raise himself a little on his hands to see inside, and the position was very trying. Moreover, the tin roof had a tendency to crumple noisily when he moved. He lay for some time, shivering in the chill, and wondering whether it would be safe to light a pipe.

"There's another thing I'd better look out for," he thought, "and that's a dog. Who ever heard of a German without a dachshund?"

He had watched the lighted doorway for a long while without seeing anything, and was beginning to think he was losing time to no profit when a stout and not ill-natured looking woman appeared in the hallway. She came into the room he was studying, and closed the door. She switched on the light, and to his horror began to disrobe. This was not what he had counted on at all, and he retreated rapidly. It was plain that nothing was to be gained where he was. He sat timidly at one edge of the roof and wondered what to do next.

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The Haunted Bookshop
Christopher Morley

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