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The Haunted Bookshop Christopher Morley

The "Cromwell" Makes its Last Appearance

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You utter idiot," said Roger, half an hour later. "Why didn't you tell me all this sooner? Good Lord, man, there's some devil's work going on!"

"How the deuce was I to know you knew nothing about it?" said Aubrey impatiently. "You'll grant everything pointed against you? When I saw that guy go into the shop with his own key, what could I think but that you were in league with him? Gracious, man, are you so befuddled in your old books that you don't see what's going on round you?"

"What time did you say that was?" said Roger shortly.

"One o'clock Sunday morning."

Roger thought a minute. "Yes, I was in the cellar with Bock," he said. "Bock barked, and I thought it was rats. That fellow must have taken an impression of the lock and made himself a key. He's been in the shop hundreds of times, and could easily do it. That explains the disappearing Cromwell. But WHY? What's the idea?"

"For the love of heaven," said Aubrey. "Let's get back to Brooklyn as soon as we can. God only knows what may have happened. Fool that I was, to go away and leave those women all alone. Triple-distilled lunacy!"

"My dear fellow," said Roger, "I was the fool to be lured off by a fake telephone call. Judging by what you say, Weintraub must have worked that also."

Aubrey looked at his watch. "Just after three," he said.

"We can't get a train till four," said Roger. "That means we can't get back to Gissing Street until nearly seven."

"Call them up," said Aubrey.

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They were still in the private office at the rear of Leary's. Roger was well-known in the shop, and had no hesitation in using the telephone. He lifted the receiver.

"Long Distance, please," he said. "Hullo? I want to get Brooklyn, Wordsworth 1617-W."

They spent a sour twenty-five minutes waiting for the connection. Roger went out to talk with Warner, while Aubrey fumed in the back office. He could not sit still, and paced the little room in a fidget of impatience, tearing his watch out of his pocket every few minutes. He felt dull and sick with vague fear. To his mind recurred the spiteful buzz of that voice over the wire--"Gissing Street is not healthy for you." He remembered the scuffle on the Bridge, the whispering in the alley, and the sinister face of the druggist at his prescription counter. The whole series of events seemed a grossly fantastic nightmare, yet it frightened him. "If only I were in Brooklyn," he groaned, "it wouldn't be so bad. But to be over here, a hundred miles away, in another cursed bookshop, while that girl may be in trouble--Gosh!" he muttered. "If I get through this business all right I'll lay off bookshops for the rest of my life!"

The telephone rang, and Aubrey frantically beckoned to Roger, who was outside, talking.

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The Haunted Bookshop
Christopher Morley

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