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The Haunted Bookshop Christopher Morley

Titania Arrives

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"How perfectly sweet of you," said Helen, captivated already. "Come along, we'll put them right in water. I'll show you your room."

Roger heard them moving about overhead. It suddenly occurred to him that the shop was rather a dingy place for a young girl. "I wish I had thought to get in a cash register," he mused. "She'll think I'm terribly unbusiness-like."

"Now," said Mrs. Mifflin, as she and Titania came downstairs again, "I'm making some pastry, so I'm going to turn you over to your employer. He can show you round the shop and tell you where all the books are."

"Before we begin," said Titania, "just let me give Bock his present." She showed a large package of tissue paper and, unwinding innumerable layers, finally disclosed a stalwart bone. "I was lunching at Sherry's, and I made the head waiter give me this. He was awfully amused."

"Come along into the kitchen and give it to him," said Helen. "He'll be your friend for life."

"What an adorable kennel!" cried Titania, when she saw the remodelled packing-case that served Bock as a retreat. The bookseller's ingenious carpentry had built it into the similitude of a Carnegie library, with the sign READING-ROOM over the door; and he had painted imitation book-shelves along the interior.

"You'll get used to Mr. Mifflin after a while," said Helen amusedly. "He spent all one winter getting that kennel fixed to his liking. You might have thought he was going to live in it instead of Bock. All the titles that he painted in there are books that have dogs in them, and a lot of them he made up."

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Titania insisted on getting down to peer inside. Bock was much flattered at this attention from the new planet that had swum into his kennel.

"Gracious!" she said, "here's `The Rubaiyat of Omar Canine.' I do think that's clever!"

"Oh, there are a lot more," said Helen. "The works of Bonar Law, and Bohn's `Classics,' and `Catechisms on Dogma' and goodness knows what. If Roger paid half as much attention to business as he does to jokes of that sort, we'd be rich. Now, you run along and have a look at the shop."

Titania found the bookseller at his desk. "Here I am, Mr. Mifflin," she said. "See, I brought a nice sharp pencil along with me to make out sales slips. I've been practicing sticking it in my hair. I can do it quite nicely now. I hope you have some of those big red books with all the carbon paper in them and everything. I've been watching the girls up at Lord and Taylor's make them out, and I think they're fascinating. And you must teach me to run the elevator. I'm awfully keen about elevators."

"Bless me," said Roger, "You'll find this very different from Lord and Taylor's! We haven't any elevators, or any sales slips, or even a cash register. We don't wait on customers unless they ask us to. They come in and browse round, and if they find anything they want they come back here to my desk and ask about it. The price is marked in every book in red pencil. The cash-box is here on this shelf. This is the key hanging on this little hook. I enter each sale in this ledger. When you sell a book you must write it down here, and the price paid for it."

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The Haunted Bookshop
Christopher Morley

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