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The Haunted Bookshop Christopher Morley

Mr. Chapman Waves His Wand

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Aubrey wanted to ask where she was, but didn't like to say so point-blank.

"There's no question about it," said Roger, "an explosion now and then does one good. Since the reporters got here and dragged the whole yarn out of us, I've had half a dozen offers from publishers for my book, a lyceum bureau wants me to lecture on Bookselling as a Form of Public Service, I've had five hundred letters from people asking when the shop will reopen for business, and the American Booksellers' Association has invited me to give an address at its convention next spring. It's the first recognition I've ever had. If it weren't for poor dear old Bock----Come, we've buried him in the back yard. I want to show you his grave."

Over a pathetically small mound near the fence a bunch of big yellow chrysanthemums were standing in a vase.

"Titania put those there," said Roger. "She says she's going to plant a dogwood tree there in the spring. We intend to put up a little stone for him, and I'm trying to think of an inscription, I thought of De Mortuis Nil Nisi Bonum, but that's a bit too flippant."

The living quarters of the house had not been damaged by the explosion, and Roger took Aubrey back to the den. "You've come just at the right time," he said. "Mr. Chapman's coming to dinner this evening, and we'll all have a good talk. There's a lot about this business I don't understand yet."

Aubrey was still keeping his eye open for a sign of Titania's presence, and Roger noticed his wandering gaze.

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"This is Miss Chapman's afternoon off," he said. "She got her first salary to-day, and was so much exhilarated that she went to New York to blow it in. She's out with her father. Excuse me, please, I'm going to help Helen get dinner ready."

Aubrey sat down by the fire, and lit his pipe. The burden of his meditation was that it was just a week since he had first met Titania, and in all that week there had been no waking moment when he had not thought of her. He was wondering how long it might take for a girl to fall in love? A man--he knew now-- could fall in love in five minutes, but how did it work with girls? He was also thinking what unique Daintybits advertising copy he could build (like all ad men he always spoke of building an ad, never of writing one) out of this affair if he could only use the inside stuff.

He heard a rustle behind him, and there she was. She had on a gray fur coat and a lively little hat. Her cheeks were delicately tinted by the winter air. Aubrey rose.

"Why, Mr. Gilbert!" she said. "Where have you been keeping yourself when I wanted to see you so badly? I haven't seen you, not to talk to, since last Sunday."

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The Haunted Bookshop
Christopher Morley

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