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The Haunted Bookshop Christopher Morley

The "Cromwell" Makes its Last Appearance

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"Answer it, you chump!" said Roger. "We'll lose the connection!"

"Nix," said Aubrey. "If Titania hears my voice she'll ring off. She's sore at me."

Roger ran to the instrument. "Hullo, hullo?" he said, irritably. "Hullo, is that Wordsworth----? Yes, I'm calling Brooklyn--Hullo!"

Aubrey, leaning over Roger's shoulder, could hear a clucking in the receiver, and then, incredibly clear, a thin, silver, distant voice. How well he knew it! It seemed to vibrate in the air all about him. He could hear every syllable distinctly. A hot perspiration burst out on his forehead and in the palms of his hands.

"Hullo," said Roger. "Is that Mifflin's Bookshop?"

"Yes," said Titania. "Is that you, Mr. Mifflin? Where are you?"

"In Philadelphia," said Roger. "Tell me, is everything all right?"

"Everything's dandy," said Titania. "I'm selling loads of books. Mrs. Mifflin's gone out to do some shopping."

Aubrey shook to hear the tiny, airy voice, like a trill of birdsong, like a tinkling from some distant star. He could imagine her standing at the phone in the back of the shadowy bookshop, and seemed to see her as though through an inverted telescope, very minute and very perfect. How brave and exquisite she was!

"When are you coming home?" she was saying.

"About seven o'clock," said Roger. "Listen, is everything absolutely O. K.?"

"Why, yes," said Titania. "I've been having lots of fun. I went down just now and put some coal on the furnace. Oh, yes. Mr. Weintraub came in a little while ago and left a suitcase of books. He said you wouldn't mind. A friend of his is going to call for them this afternoon."

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"Hold the wire a moment," said Roger, and clapped his hand over the mouthpiece. "She says Weintraub left a suitcase of books there to be called for. What do you make of that?"

"For the love of God, tell her not to touch those books."

"Hullo?" said Roger. Aubrey, leaning over him, noticed that the little bookseller's naked pate was ringed with crystal beads.

"Hullo?" replied Titania's elfin voice promptly.

"Did you open the suitcase?"

"No. It's locked. Mr. Weintraub said there were a lot of old books in it for a friend of his. It's very heavy."

"Look here," said Roger, and his voice rang sharply. "This is important. I don't want you to touch that suitcase. Leave it wherever it is, and DON'T TOUCH IT. Promise me."

"Yes, Mr. Mifflin. Had I better put it in a safe place?"


"Bock's sniffing at it now."

"Don't touch it, and don't let Bock touch it. It--it's got valuable papers in it."

"I'll be careful of it," said Titania.

"Promise me not to touch it. And another thing--if any one calls for it, don't let them take it until I get home."

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The Haunted Bookshop
Christopher Morley

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