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The Haunted Bookshop Christopher Morley

Titania Arrives

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"What on earth is it?" she asked.

"Only Archy," he said, and began to read aloud--

    down in a wine vault underneath the city
    two old men were sitting they were drinking booze
    torn were their garments hair and beards were gritty
    one had an overcoat but hardly any shoes

    overhead the street cars through the streets were running
    filled with happy people going home to christmas
    in the adirondacks the hunters all were gunning
    big ships were sailing down by the isthmus

    in came a little tot for to kiss her granny
    such a little totty she could scarcely tottle
    saying kiss me grandpa kiss your little nanny
    but the old man beaned her with a whisky bottle.

    outside the snowflakes began for to flutter
    far at sea the ships were sailing with the seamen
    not another word did angel nanny utter
    her grandsire chuckled and pledged the whisky demon

    up spake the second man he was worn and weary
    tears washed his face which otherwise was pasty
    she loved her parents who commuted on the erie
    brother im afraid you struck a trifle hasty

    she came to see you all her pretty duds on
    bringing christmas posies from her mothers garden
    riding in the tunnel underneath the hudson
    brother was it rum caused your heart to harden----

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"What on earth is there funny in that?" said Mrs. Mifflin. "Poor little lamb, I think it was terrible."

"There's more of it," cried Roger, and opened his mouth to continue.

"No more, thank you," said Helen. "There ought to be a fine for using the meter of Love in the Valley that way. I'm going out to market so if the bell rings you'll have to answer it."

Roger added the Archy scrapbook to Miss Titania's shelf, and went on browsing over the volumes he had collected.

"The Nigger of the Narcissus," he said to himself, "for even if she doesn't read the story perhaps she'll read the preface, which not marble nor the monuments of princes will outlive. Dickens' Christmas Stories to introduce her to Mrs. Lirriper, the queen of landladies. Publishers tell me that Norfolk Street, Strand, is best known for the famous literary agent that has his office there, but I wonder how many of them know that that was where Mrs. Lirriper had her immortal lodgings? The Notebooks of Samuel Butler, just to give her a little intellectual jazz. The Wrong Box, because it's the best farce in the language. Travels with a Donkey, to show her what good writing is like. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to give her a sense of pity for human woes--wait a minute, though: that's a pretty broad book for young ladies. I guess we'll put it aside and see what else there is. Some of Mr. Mosher's catalogues: fine! they'll show her the true spirit of what one book-lover calls biblio-bliss. Walking-Stick Papers-- yes, there are still good essayists running around. A bound file of `The Publishers' Weekly to give her a smack of trade matters. Jo's Boys in case she needs a little relaxation. The Lays of Ancient Rome and Austin Dobson to show her some good poetry. I wonder if they give them The Lays to read in school nowadays? I have a horrible fear they are brought up on the battle of Salamis and the brutal redcoats of '76. And now we'll be exceptionally subtle: we'll stick in a Robert Chambers to see if she falls for it."

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The Haunted Bookshop
Christopher Morley

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