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The Haunted Bookshop Christopher Morley

Roger Raids the Ice-Box

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Roger had just put Carlyle's Cromwell back in its proper place in the History alcove when Helen and Titania returned from the movies. Bock, who had been dozing under his master's chair, rose politely and wagged a deferential tail.

"I do think Bock has the darlingest manners," said Titania.

"Yes," said Helen, "it's really a marvel that his wagging muscles aren't all worn out, he has abused them so."

"Well," said Roger, "did you have a good time?"

"An adorable time!" cried Titania, with a face and voice so sparkling that two musty habitues of the shop popped their heads out of the alcoves marked ESSAYS and THEOLOGY and peered in amazement. One of these even went so far as to purchase the copy of Leigh Hunt's Wishing Cap Papers he had been munching through, in order to have an excuse to approach the group and satisfy his bewildered eyes. When Miss Chapman took the book and wrapped it up for him, his astonishment was made complete.

Unconscious that she was actually creating business, Titania resumed.

"We met your friend Mr. Gilbert on the street," she said, "and he went to the movies with us. He says he's coming in on Monday to fix the furnace while you're away."

"Well," said Roger, "these advertising agencies are certainly enterprising, aren't they? Think of sending a man over to attend to my furnace, just on the slim chance of getting my advertising account."

"Did you have a quiet evening?" said Helen.

"I spent most of the time writing to Andrew," said Roger. "One amusing thing happened, though. I actually sold that copy of Philip Dru."

"No!" cried Helen.

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"A fact," said Roger. "A man was looking at it, and I told him it was supposed to be written by Colonel House. He insisted on buying it. But what a sell when he tries to read it!"

"Did Colonel House really write it?" asked Titania.

"I don't know," said Roger. "I hope not, because I find in myself a secret tendency to believe that Mr. House is an able man. If he did write it, I devoutly hope none of the foreign statesmen in Paris will learn of that fact."

While Helen and Titania took off their wraps, Roger was busy closing up the shop. He went down to the corner with Bock to mail his letter, and when he returned to the den Helen had prepared a large jug of cocoa. They sat down by the fire to enjoy it.

"Chesterton has written a very savage poem against cocoa," said Roger, "which you will find in The Flying Inn; but for my part I find it the ideal evening drink. It lets the mind down gently, and paves the way for slumber. I have often noticed that the most terrific philosophical agonies can be allayed by three cups of Mrs. Mifflin's cocoa. A man can safely read Schopenhauer all evening if he has a tablespoonful of cocoa and a tin of condensed milk available. Of course it should be made with condensed milk, which is the only way."

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The Haunted Bookshop
Christopher Morley

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