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The Haunted Bookshop Christopher Morley

Titania Learns the Business

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"Bless my soul!" he said. "How are you going to live on your wages if you do that sort of thing? Pay-day doesn't come until next Friday!"

"Just one blow-out," she said cheerfully. "I thought it would be fun to brighten the place up a bit. Think how pleased your floorwalker will be when he comes in!"

"Dear me," said Roger. "I hope you don't really think we have floorwalkers in the second-hand book business."

After breakfast he set about initiating his new employee into the routine of the shop. As he moved about, explaining the arrangement of his shelves, he kept up a running commentary.

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

"Of course all the miscellaneous information that a bookseller has to have will only come to you gradually," he said. "Such tags of bookshop lore as the difference between Philo Gubb and Philip Gibbs, Mrs. Wilson Woodrow and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson, and all that sort of thing. Don't be frightened by all the ads you see for a book called "Bell and Wing," because no one was ever heard to ask for a copy. That's one of the reasons why I tell Mr. Gilbert I don't believe in advertising. Someone may ask you who wrote The Winning of the Best, and you'll have to know it wasn't Colonel Roosevelt but Mr. Ralph Waldo Trine. The beauty of being a bookseller is that you don't have to be a literary critic: all you have to do to books is enjoy them. A literary critic is the kind of fellow who will tell you that Wordsworth's Happy Warrior is a poem of 85 lines composed entirely of two sentences, one of 26 lines and one of 59. What does it matter if Wordsworth wrote sentences almost as long as those of Walt Whitman or Mr. Will H. Hays, if only he wrote a great poem? Literary critics are queer birds. There's Professor Phelps of Yale, for instance. He publishes a book in 1918 and calls it The Advance of English Poetry in the Twentieth Century. To my way of thinking a book of that title oughtn't to be published until 2018. Then somebody will come along and ask you for a book of poems about a typewriter, and by and by you'll learn that what they want is Stevenson's Underwoods. Yes, it's a complicated life. Never argue with customers. Just give them the book they ought to have even if they don't know they want it." They went outside the front door, and Roger lit his pipe. In the little area in front of the shop windows stood large empty boxes supported on trestles. "The first thing I always do----," he said.

"The first thing you'll both do is catch your death of cold," said Helen over his shoulder. "Titania, you run and get your fur. Roger, go and find your cap. With your bald head, you ought to know better!"

When they returned to the front door, Titania's blue eyes were sparkling above her soft tippet.

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The Haunted Bookshop
Christopher Morley

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