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|The Haunted Bookshop||Christopher Morley|
Mr. Chapman Waves His Wand
|Page 8 of 9||
"I'm sorry, sir," he said. "We have tried to give you service. I assure you that I've spent by far the larger part of my time at the office in working up plans for your campaigns."
He could not bear to look at Titania, ashamed that she should be the witness of his humiliation.
"That's exactly it," said Mr. Chapman. "I don't want just the larger part of your time. I want all of it. I want you to accept the position of assistant advertising manager of the Daintybits Corporation."
They all cheered, and for the third time that evening Aubrey felt more overwhelmed than any good advertising man is accustomed to feel. He tried to express his delight, and then added:
"I think it's my turn to propose a toast. I give you the health of Mr. and Mrs. Mifflin, and their Haunted Bookshop, the place where I first--I first----"
His courage failed him, and he concluded, "First learned the meaning of literature."
"Suppose we adjourn to the den," said Helen. "We have so many delightful things to talk over, and I know Roger wants to tell you all about the improvements he is planning for the shop."
Aubrey lingered to be the last, and it is to be conjectured that Titania did not drop her handkerchief merely by accident. The others had already crossed the hall into the sitting room.
Their eyes met, and Aubrey could feel himself drowned in her steady, honest gaze. He was tortured by the bliss of being so near her, and alone. The rest of the world seemed to shred away and leave them standing in that little island of light where the tablecloth gleamed under the lamp.
In his hand he clutched the precious book. Out of all the thousand things he thought, there was only one he dared to say.
"Will you write my name in it?"
"I'd love to," she said, a little shakily, for she, too, was strangely alarmed at certain throbbings.
He gave her his pen, and she sat down at the table. She wrote quickly
For Aubrey Gilbert
"Oh," she said quickly. "Do I have to finish it now?" She looked up at him, with the lamplight shining on her vivid face. Aubrey felt oddly stupefied, and was thinking only of the little golden sparkle of her eyelashes. This time her eyes were the first to turn away.
"You see," she said with a funny little quaver, "I might want to change the wording." And she ran from the room.
As she entered the den, her father was speaking. "You know," he said, "I'm rather glad she wants to stay in the book business." Roger looked up at her.
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