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The Haunted Bookshop Christopher Morley

The "Cromwell" Makes its Last Appearance

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Titania wrenched herself away from the chef.

"I wouldn't give them the suitcase!" she cried.

Aubrey kept his pistol pinned against Weintraub's face. With his left hand he picked up the druggist's revolver. Roger was about to seize the chef, who was standing uncertainly on the other side of the table.

"Here," said Aubrey, "take this gun. Cover this fellow and leave that one to me. I've got a score to settle with him."

The chef made a movement as though to jump through the window behind him, but Aubrey flung himself upon him. He hit the man square on the nose and felt a delicious throb of satisfaction as the rubbery flesh flattened beneath his knuckles. He seized the man's hairy throat and sank his fingers into it. The other tried to snatch the bread knife on the table, but was too late. He fell to the floor, and Aubrey throttled him savagely.

"You blasted Hun," he grunted. "Go wrestling with girls, will you?"

Titania ran from the room, through the pantry.

Roger was holding Weintraub's revolver in front of the German's face.

"Look here," he said, "what does this mean?"

"It's all a mistake," said the druggist suavely, though his eyes slid uneasily to and fro. "I just came in to get some books I left here earlier in the afternoon."

"With a revolver, eh?" said Roger. "Speak up, Hindenburg, what's the big idea?"

"It's not my revolver," said Weintraub. "It's Metzger's."

"Where's this suitcase of yours?" said Roger. "We're going to have a look at it."

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"It's all a stupid mistake," said Weintraub. "I left a suitcase of old books here for Metzger, because I expected to go out of town this afternoon. He called for it, and your young woman wouldn't give it to him. He came to me, and I came down here to tell her it was all right."

"Is that Metzger?" said Roger, pointing to the bearded man who was trying to break Aubrey's grip. "Gilbert, don't choke that man, we want him to do some explaining."

Aubrey got up, picked his revolver from the floor where he had dropped it, and prodded the chef to his feet.

"Well, you swine," he said, "how did you enjoy falling downstairs the other evening? As for you, Herr Weintraub, I'd like to know what kind of prescriptions you make up in that cellar of yours."

Weintraub's face shone damply in the lamplight. Perspiration was thick on his forehead.

"My dear Mifflin," he said, "this is awfully stupid. In my eagerness, I'm afraid----"

Titania ran back into the room, followed by Helen, whose face was crimson.

"Thank God you're back, Roger," she said. "These brutes tied me up in the kitchen and gagged me with a roller-towel. They threatened to shoot Titania if she wouldn't give them the suitcase."

Weintraub began to say something, but Roger thrust the revolver between his eyes.

"Hold your tongue!" he said. "We're going to have a look at those books of yours."

"I'll get the suitcase," said Titania. "I hid it. When Mr. Weintraub came in and asked for it, at first I was going to give it to him, but he looked so queer I thought something must be wrong."

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The Haunted Bookshop
Christopher Morley

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