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The Haunted Bookshop Christopher Morley

Mr. Chapman Waves His Wand

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"It was gone again on Thursday night, when the Corn Cob Club met here," said Mr. Chapman.

"Yes, that time Metzger had taken it," said Aubrey. "He misunderstood his instructions, and thought he was to steal the book. You see, owing to the absence of their third man, they were working at cross purposes. Metzger, I think, was only intended to get his information out of the book, and leave it where it was. At any rate, he was puzzled, and inserted that ad in the Times the next morning--that LOST ad, you remember. By that, I imagine, he intended to convey the idea that he had located the bookshop, but didn't know what to do next. And the date he mentioned in the ad, midnight on Tuesday, December third, was to inform Weintraub (of whose identity he was still ignorant) when Metzger was to go on board the ship. Weintraub had been instructed by their spy organization to watch the LOST and FOUND ads."

"Think of it!" cried Titania.

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"Well," continued Aubrey, "all this may not be 100 per cent. accurate, but after putting things together this is how it dopes out. Weintraub, who was as canny as they make them, saw he'd have to get into direct touch with Metzger. He sent him word, on the Friday, to come over to see him and bring the book. Metzger, meanwhile, had had a bad fright when I spoke to him in the hotel elevator. He returned the book to the shop that night, as Mrs. Mifflin remembers. Then, when I stopped in at the drug store on my way home, he must have been with Weintraub. I found the Cromwell cover in the drug-store bookcase-- why Weintraub was careless enough to leave it there I can't guess-- and they spotted me right away as having some kind of hunch. So they followed me over the Bridge and tried to get rid of me. It was because I got that cover on Friday night that Weintraub broke into the shop again early Sunday morning. He had to have the cover of the book to bind his bomb in."

Aubrey was agreeably conscious of the close attention of his audience. He caught Titania's gaze, and flushed a little.

"That's pretty nearly all there is to it," he said. "I knew that if those guys were so keen to put me out of the way there must be something rather rotten on foot. I came over to Brooklyn the next afternoon, Saturday, and took a room across the street."

"And we went to the movies," chirped Titania.

"The rest of it I think you all know--except Metzger's visit to my lodgings that night." He described the incident. "You see they were trailing me pretty close. If I hadn't happened to notice the cigar at my window I guess he'd have had me on toast. Of course you know how wrongly I doped it out. I thought Mr. Mifflin was running with them, and I owe him my apology for that. He's laid me out once on that score, over in Philadelphia."

Humourously, Aubrey narrated how he had sleuthed the bookseller to Ludlow Street, and had been worsted in battle.

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The Haunted Bookshop
Christopher Morley

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