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0100_005E The Haunted Bookshop Christopher Morley

The Battle of Ludlow Street

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The train drew into Broad Street station at ten o'clock, and Aubrey followed the bookseller through the bustling terminus and round the City Hall plaza. Mifflin seemed to know his way, but Philadelphia was comparatively strange to the Grey-Matter solicitor. He was quite surprised at the impressive vista of South Broad Street, and chagrined to find people jostling him on the crowded pavement as though they did not know he had just come from New York.

Roger turned in at a huge office building on Broad Street and took an express elevator. Aubrey did not dare follow him into the car, so he waited in the lobby. He learned from the starter that there was a second tier of elevators on the other side of the building, so he tipped a boy a quarter to watch them for him, describing Mifflin so accurately that he could not be missed. By this time Aubrey was in a thoroughly ill temper, and enjoyed quarrelling with the starter on the subject of indicators for showing the position of the elevators. Observing that in this building the indicators were glass tubes in which the movement of the car was traced by a rising or falling column of coloured fluid, Aubrey remarked testily that that old-fashioned stunt had long been abandoned in New York. The starter retorted that New York was only two hours away if he liked it better. This argument helped to fleet the time rapidly.

Meanwhile Roger, with the pleasurable sensation of one who expects to be received as a distinguished visitor from out of town, had entered the luxurious suite of Mr. Oldham. A young lady, rather too transparently shirtwaisted but fair to look upon, asked what she could do for him.

"I want to see Mr. Oldham."

"What name shall I say?"

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"Mr. Mifflin--Mr. Mifflin of Brooklyn."

"Have you an appointment?"


Roger sat down with agreeable anticipation. He noticed the shining mahogany of the office furniture, the sparkling green jar of drinking water, the hushed and efficient activity of the young ladies. "Philadelphia girls are amazingly comely," he said to himself, "but none of these can hold a candle to Miss Titania."

The young lady returned from the private office looking a little perplexed.

"Did you have an appointment with Mr. Oldham?" she said. "He doesn't seem to recall it."

"Why, certainly," said Roger. "It was arranged by telephone on Saturday afternoon. Mr. Oldham's secretary called me up."

"Have I got your name right?" she asked, showing a slip on which she had written Mr. Miflin.

"Two f's," said Roger. "Mr. Roger Mifflin, the bookseller."

The girl retired, and came back a moment later.

"Mr. Oldham's very busy," she said, "but he can see you for a moment."

Roger was ushered into the private office, a large, airy room lined with bookshelves. Mr. Oldham, a tall, thin man with short gray hair and lively black eyes, rose courteously from his desk.

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The Haunted Bookshop
Christopher Morley

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