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The Haunted Bookshop Christopher Morley

The Corn Cob Club

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After this, he was busy at the sink scrubbing the dishes, when he was surprised by feeling two very competent arms surround him, and a pink gingham apron was thrown over his head. "Mifflin," said his wife, "how many times have I told you to put on an apron when you wash up!"

They greeted each other with the hearty, affectionate simplicity of those congenially wedded in middle age. Helen Mifllin was a buxom, healthy creature, rich in good sense and good humour, well nourished both in mind and body. She kissed Roger's bald head, tied the apron around his shrimpish person, and sat down on a kitchen chair to watch him finish wiping the china. Her cheeks were cool and ruddy from the keen air, her face lit with the tranquil satisfaction of those who have sojourned in the comfortable city of Boston.

"Well, my dear," said Roger, "this makes it a real Thanksgiving. You look as plump and full of matter as The Home Book of Verse."

"I've had a stunning time," she said, patting Bock who stood at her knee, imbibing the familiar and mysterious fragrance by which dogs identify their human friends. "I haven't even heard of a book for three weeks. I did stop in at the Old Angle Book Shop yesterday, just to say hullo to Joe Jillings. He says all booksellers are crazy, but that you are the craziest of the lot. He wants to know if you're bankrupt yet."

Roger's slate-blue eyes twinkled. He hung up a cup in the china closet and lit his pipe before replying.

"What did you say?"

"I said that our shop was haunted, and mustn't be supposed to come under the usual conditions of the trade."

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"Bully for you! And what did Joe say to that?"

"`Haunted by the nuts!'"

"Well," said Roger, "when literature goes bankrupt I'm willing to go with it. Not till then. But by the way, we're going to be haunted by a beauteous damsel pretty soon. You remember my telling you that Mr. Chapman wants to send his daughter to work in the shop? Well, here's a letter I had from him this morning."

He rummaged in his pocket, and produced the following, which Mrs. Mifflin read:


I am so delighted that you and Mrs. Mifflin are willing to try the experiment of taking my daughter as an apprentice. Titania is really a very charming girl, and if only we can get some of the "finishing school" nonsense out of her head she will make a fine woman. She has had (it was my fault, not hers) the disadvantage of being brought up, or rather brought down, by having every possible want and whim gratified. Out of kindness for herself and her future husband, if she should have one, I want her to learn a little about earning a living. She is nearly nineteen, and I told her if she would try the bookshop job for a while I would take her to Europe for a year afterward.

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The Haunted Bookshop
Christopher Morley

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