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The Haunted Bookshop Christopher Morley

Titania Arrives

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He viewed the shelf with pride. "Not bad," he said to himself. "I'll just add this Leonard Merrick, Whispers about Women, to amuse her. I bet that title will start her guessing. Helen will say I ought to have included the Bible, but I'll omit it on purpose, just to see whether the girl misses it."

With typical male curiosity he pulled out the bureau drawers to see what disposition his wife had made of them, and was pleased to find a little muslin bag of lavender dispersing a quiet fragrance in each. "Very nice," he remarked. "Very nice indeed! About the only thing missing is an ashtray. If Miss Titania is as modern as some of them, that'll be the first thing she'll call for. And maybe a copy of Ezra Pound's poems. I do hope she's not what Helen calls a bolshevixen."

There was nothing bolshevik about a glittering limousine that drew up at the corner of Gissing and Swinburne streets early that afternoon. A chauffeur in green livery opened the door, lifted out a suitcase of beautiful brown leather, and gave a respectful hand to the vision that emerged from depths of lilac-coloured upholstery.

"Where do you want me to carry the bag, miss?"

"This is the bitter parting," replied Miss Titania. "I don't want you to know my address, Edwards. Some of my mad friends might worm it out of you, and I don't want them coming down and bothering me. I am going to be very busy with literature. I'll walk the rest of the way."

Edwards saluted with a grin--he worshipped the original young heiress-- and returned to his wheel.

"There's one thing I want you to do for me," said Titania. "Call up my father and tell him I'm on the job."

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"Yes, miss," said Edwards, who would have run the limousine into a government motor truck if she had ordered it.

Miss Chapman's small gloved hand descended into an interesting purse that was cuffed to her wrist with a bright little chain. She drew out a nickel--it was characteristic of her that it was a very bright and engaging looking nickel--and handed it gravely to her charioteer. Equally gravely he saluted, and the car, after moving through certain dignified arcs, swam swiftly away down Thackeray Boulevard.

Titania, after making sure that Edwards was out of sight, turned up Gissing Street with a fluent pace and an observant eye. A small boy cried, "Carry your bag, lady?" and she was about to agree, but then remembered that she was now engaged at ten dollars a week and waved him away. Our readers would feel a justifiable grudge if we did not attempt a description of the young lady, and we will employ the few blocks of her course along Gissing Street for this purpose.

Walking behind her, the observer, by the time she had reached Clemens Place, would have seen that she was faultlessly tailored in genial tweeds; that her small brown boots were sheltered by spats of that pale tan complexion exhibited by Pullman porters on the Pennsylvania Railroad; that her person was both slender and vigorous; that her shoulders were carrying a sumptuous fur of the colour described by the trade as nutria, or possibly opal smoke. The word chinchilla would have occurred irresistibly to this observer from behind; he might also, if he were the father of a family, have had a fleeting vision of many autographed stubs in a check book. The general impression that he would have retained, had he turned aside at Clemens Place, would be "expensive, but worth the expense."

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The Haunted Bookshop
Christopher Morley

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