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The Haunted Bookshop Christopher Morley

Mr. Chapman Waves His Wand

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Aubrey turned to the place. He read, and smiled.

"Right you are," he said.

"Read it!" they all cried.

"To seduce the Protector's guard, to blow up the Protector in his bedroom, and do other little fiddling things."

"I shouldn't wonder if that's where he got his idea," said Roger. "What have I been saying right along--that books aren't merely dead things!"

"Good gracious," said Titania. "You told me that books are explosives. You were right, weren't you! But it's lucky Mr. Gilbert didn't hear you say it or he'd certainly have suspected you!"

"The joke is on me," said Roger.

"Well, I'VE got a toast to propose," said Titania. "Here's to the memory of Bock, the dearest, bravest dog I ever met!"

They drank it with due gravity.

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"Well, good people," said Mr. Chapman, "there's nothing we can do for Bock now. But we can do something for the rest of us. I've been talking with Titania, Mr. Mifflin. I'm bound to say that after this disaster my first thought was to get her out of the book business as fast as I could. I thought it was a little too exciting for her. You know I sent her over here to have a quiet time and calm down a bit. But she wouldn't hear of leaving. And if I'm going to have a family interest in the book business I want to do something to justify it. I know your idea about travelling book-wagons, and taking literature into the countryside. Now if you and Mrs. Mifflin can find the proper people to run them, I'll finance a fleet of ten of those Parnassuses you're always talking about, and have them built in time to go on the road next spring. How about it?"

Roger and Helen looked at each other, and at Mr. Chapman. In a flash Roger saw one of his dearest dreams coming true. Titania, to whom this was a surprise, leaped from her chair and ran to kiss her father, crying, "Oh, Daddy, you ARE a darling!"

Roger rose solemnly and gave Mr. Chapman his hand.

"My dear sir," he said, "Miss Titania has found the right word. You are an honour to human nature, sir, and I hope you'll never live to regret it. This is the happiest moment of my life."

"Then that's settled," said Mr. Chapman. "We'll go over the details later. Now there's another thing on my mind. Perhaps I shouldn't bring up business matters here, but this is a kind of family party--Mr. Gilbert, it's my duty to inform you that I intend to take my advertising out of the hands of the Grey-Matter Agency." Aubrey's heart sank. He had feared a catastrophe of this kind from the first. Naturally a hard-headed business man would not care to entrust such vast interests to a firm whose young men went careering about like secret service agents, hunting for spies, eavesdropping in alleys, and accusing people of pro-germanism. Business, Aubrey said to himself, is built upon Confidence, and what confidence could Mr. Chapman have in such vagabond and romantic doings? Still, he felt that he had done nothing to be ashamed of.

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The Haunted Bookshop
Christopher Morley

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