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The Haunted Bookshop Christopher Morley

The Disappearing Volume

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He was agreeably surprised to find that his caller was the young advertising man, Aubrey Gilbert.

"Hullo!" he said. "I've been saving something for you. It's a quotation from Joseph Conrad about advertising."

"Good enough," said Aubrey. "And I've got something for you. You were so nice to me the other evening I took the liberty of bringing you round some tobacco. Here's a tin of Blue-Eyed Mixture, it's my favourite. I hope you'll like it."

"Bully for you. Perhaps I ought to let you off the Conrad quotation since you're so kind."

"Not a bit. I suppose it's a knock. Shoot!" The bookseller led the way back to his desk, where he rummaged among the litter and finally found a scrap of paper on which he had written:

Being myself animated by feelings of affection toward my fellowmen, I am saddened by the modern system of advertising. Whatever evidence it offers of enterprise, ingenuity, impudence, and resource in certain individuals, it proves to my mind the wide prevalence of that form of mental degradation which is called gullibility. JOSEPH CONRAD.

"What do you think of that?" said Roger. "You'll find that in the story called The Anarchist."

"I think less than nothing of it," said Aubrey. "As your friend Don Marquis observed the other evening, an idea isn't always to be blamed for the people who believe in it. Mr. Conrad has been reading some quack ads, that's all. Because there are fake ads, that doesn't condemn the principle of Publicity. But look here, what I really came round to see you for is to show you this. It was in the Times this morning."

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He pulled out of his pocket a clipping of the LOST insertion to which Roger's attention had already been drawn.

"Yes, I've just seen it," said Roger. "I missed the book from my shelves, and I believe someone must have stolen it."

"Well, now, I want to tell you something," said Aubrey. "To-night I had dinner at the Octagon with Mr. Chapman." "Is that so?" said Roger. "You know his daughter's here now."

"So he told me. It's rather interesting how it all works out. You see, after you told me the other day that Miss Chapman was coming to work for you, that gave me an idea. I knew her father would be specially interested in Brooklyn, on that account, and it suggested to me an idea for a window-display campaign here in Brooklyn for the Daintybits Products. You know we handle all his sales promotion campaigns. Of course I didn't let on that I knew about his daughter coming over here, but he told me about it himself in the course of our talk. Well, here's what I'm getting at. We had dinner in the Czecho-Slovak Grill, up on the fourteenth floor, and going up in the elevator I saw a man in a chef's uniform carrying a book. I looked over his shoulder to see what it was. I thought of course it would be a cook book. It was a copy of Oliver Cromwell."

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The Haunted Bookshop
Christopher Morley

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