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The Haunted Bookshop Christopher Morley

Titania Arrives

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"But suppose it's charged?" said Titania.

"No charge accounts. Everything is cash. If someone comes in to sell books, you must refer him to me. You mustn't be surprised to see people drop in here and spend several hours reading. Lots of them look on this as a kind of club. I hope you don't mind the smell of tobacco, for almost all the men that come here smoke in the shop. You see, I put ash trays around for them."

"I love tobacco smell," said Titania. "Daddy's library at home smells something like this, but not quite so strong. And I want to see the worms, bookworms you know. Daddy said you had lots of them."

"You'll see them, all right," said Roger, chuckling. "They come in and out. To-morrow I'll show you how my stock is arranged. It'll take you quite a while to get familiar with it. Until then I just want you to poke around and see what there is, until you know the shelves so well you could put your hand on any given book in the dark. That's a game my wife and I used to play. We would turn off all the lights at night, and I would call out the title of a book and see how near she could come to finding it. Then I would take a turn. When we came more than six inches away from it we would have to pay a forfeit. It's great fun."

"What larks we'll have," cried Titania. "I do think this is a cunning place!"

"This is the bulletin board, where I put up notices about books that interest me. Here's a card I've just been writing."

We have hundreds more books for your enjoyment. Read them all!

Roger drew from his pocket a square of cardboard and affixed it to the board with a thumbtack. Titania read:


Now that the fighting is over is a good time to read Thomas Hardy's The Dynasts. I don't want to sell it, because it is one of the greatest treasures I own. But if any one will guarantee to read all three volumes, and let them sink into his mind, I'm willing to lend them.

If enough thoughtful Germans had read The Dynasts before July, 1914, there would have been no war.

If every delegate to the Peace Conference could be made to read it before the sessions begin, there will be no more wars.


"Dear me," said Titania, "Is it so good as all that? Perhaps I'd better read it."

"It is so good that if I knew any way of doing so I'd insist on Mr. Wilson reading it on his voyage to France. I wish I could get it onto his ship. My, what a book! It makes one positively ill with pity and terror. Sometimes I wake up at night and look out of the window and imagine I hear Hardy laughing. I get him a little mixed up with the Deity, I fear. But he's a bit too hard for you to tackle."

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The Haunted Bookshop
Christopher Morley

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