The Haunted Bookshop

by Christopher Morley
Courtesy of Web's Top 100 at
Be pleased to know, most worthy, that this little book is
dedicated to
you in affection and respect
The faults of the composition are plain to you all ! be"in
merely in
the hope of sayin" somethin" further of the ad#entures of
%!&&L!', whose e(ploits in )*arnassus on +heels) some
of you ha#e been
kind enou"h to applaud But then came %iss Titania
,hapman, and my
youn" ad#ertisin" man fell in lo#e with her, and the two of
them rather
ran away with the tale
! think ! should e(plain that the passa"e in ,hapter -!!!,
dealin" with
the deli"htful talent of %r Sidney .rew, was written before
lamented death of that charmin" artist But as it was a
tribute, sincerely meant, ! ha#e seen no reason for
remo#in" it
,hapters !, !!, !!!, and -! appeared ori"inally in The
Bookman, and to
the editor of that admirable ma"a/ine ! owe thanks for his
to reprint
'ow that Ro"er is to ha#e ten *arnassuses on the road, !
am emboldened
to think that some of you may encounter them on their
tra#els 0nd if
you do, ! hope you will find that these new errants of the
*arnassus on
+heels ,orporation are li#in" up to the ancient and
traditions of our noble profession
0pril 23, 4545
The Haunted Bookshop
,hapter !
The Haunted Bookshop
!f you are e#er in Brooklyn, that borou"h of superb sunsets
ma"nificent #istas of husband6propelled baby6carria"es, it
is to be
hoped you may chance upon a 7uiet by6street where there is
a #ery
remarkable bookshop
This bookshop, which does business under the unusual
name )*arnassus at
Home,) is housed in one of the comfortable old brown6
stone dwellin"s
which ha#e been the 8oy of se#eral "enerations of plumbers
cockroaches The owner of the business has been at pains
to remodel
the house to make it a more suitable shrine for his trade,
which deals
entirely in second6hand #olumes There is no second6hand
bookshop in
the world more worthy of respect
!t was about si( o9clock of a cold 'o#ember e#enin", with
"usts of rain
splatterin" upon the pa#ement, when a youn" man
proceeded uncertainly
alon" $issin" Street, stoppin" now and then to look at shop
windows as
thou"h doubtful of his way 0t the warm and shinin" face
of a &rench
rotisserie he halted to compare the number enamelled on
the transom
with a memorandum in his hand Then he pushed on for a
few minutes, at
last reachin" the address he sou"ht O#er the entrance his
eye was
cau"ht by the si"n:
*0R'0SS;S 0T HO%E
R 0'. H %!&&L!'
TH!S SHO* !S H0;'TE.
He stumbled down the three steps that led into the dwellin"
of the
muses, lowered his o#ercoat collar, and looked about
!t was #ery different from such bookstores as he had been
accustomed to
patroni/e Two stories of the old house had been thrown
into one: the
lower space was di#ided into little alco#es= abo#e, a "allery
ran round
the wall, which carried books to the ceilin" The air was
hea#y with
the deli"htful fra"rance of mellowed paper and leather
surchar"ed with
a stron" bou7uet of tobacco !n front of him he found a
lar"e placard
in a frame:
TH!S SHO* !S H0;'TE. by the "hosts
Of all "reat literature, in hosts=
+e sell no fakes or trashes
Lo#ers of books are welcome here,
'o clerks will babble in your ear,
*lease smoke66but don9t drop ashes<
Browse as lon" as you like
*rices of all books plainly marked
!f you want to ask 7uestions, you9ll find the proprietor
where the tobacco smoke is thickest
+e pay cash for books
+e ha#e what you want, thou"h you may not know you
want it
%alnutrition of the readin" faculty is a serious thin"
Let us prescribe for you
By R > H %!&&L!',
The shop had a warm and comfortable obscurity, a kind of
drowsy dusk,
stabbed here and there by bri"ht cones of yellow li"ht from
"reen6shaded electrics There was an all6per#asi#e drift of
smoke, which eddied and fumed under the "lass lamp
shades *assin"
down a narrow aisle between the alco#es the #isitor noticed
that some
of the compartments were wholly in darkness= in others
where lamps were
"lowin" he could see a table and chairs !n one corner,
under a si"n
lettered ESS01S, an elderly "entleman was readin", with a
face of
fanatical ecstasy illumined by the sharp "lare of electricity=
there was no wreath of smoke about him so the newcomer
concluded he was
not the proprietor
0s the youn" man approached the back of the shop the
"eneral effect
became more and more fantastic On some skyli"ht far
o#erhead he could
hear the rain drummin"= but otherwise the place was
completely silent,
peopled only ?so it seemed@ by the "ur"itatin" whorls of
smoke and the
bri"ht profile of the essay reader !t seemed like a secret
fane, some
shrine of curious rites, and the youn" man9s throat was
ti"htened by a
stricture which was half a"itation and half tobacco
Towerin" abo#e
him into the "loom were shel#es and shel#es of books,
darklin" toward
the roof He saw a table with a cylinder of brown paper
and twine,
e#idently where purchases mi"ht be wrapped= but there was
no si"n of an
)This place may indeed be haunted,) he thou"ht, )perhaps
by the
deli"hted soul of Sir +alter Ralei"h, patron of the weed,
but seemin"ly
not by the proprietors)
His eyes, searchin" the blue and #aporous #istas of the
shop, were
cau"ht by a circle of bri"htness that shone with a curious
lustre !t was round and white, "leamin" in the sheen of a
li"ht, a bri"ht island in a surf of tobacco smoke He came
more close,
and found it was a bald head
This head ?he then saw@ surmounted a small, sharp6eyed
man who sat
tilted back in a swi#el chair, in a corner which seemed the
centre of the establishment The lar"e pi"eon6holed desk in
front of
him was piled hi"h with #olumes of all sorts, with tins of
tobacco and
newspaper clippin"s and letters 0n anti7uated typewriter,
somethin" like a harpsichord, was half6buried in sheets of
The little bald6headed man was smokin" a corn6cob pipe
and readin" a
)! be" your pardon,) said the caller, pleasantly= )is this the
%r Ro"er %ifflin, the proprietor of )*arnassus at Home,)
looked up,
and the #isitor saw that he had keen blue eyes, a short red
beard, and
a con#incin" air of competent ori"inality
)!t is,) said %r %ifflin )0nythin" ! can do for youA)
)%y name is 0ubrey $ilbert,) said the youn" man )! am
the $rey6%atter 0d#ertisin" 0"ency ! want to discuss
with you the
ad#isability of your lettin" us handle your ad#ertisin"
prepare snappy copy for you, and place it in lar"e
circulation mediums
'ow the war9s o#er, you ou"ht to prepare some
constructi#e campai"n for
bi""er business)
The bookseller9s face beamed He put down his cook6book,
blew an
e(pandin" "ust of smoke, and looked up bri"htly
)%y dear chap,) he said, )! don9t do any ad#ertisin")
)!mpossible<) cried the other, a"hast as at some "ratuitous
)'ot in the sense you mean Such ad#ertisin" as benefits
me most is
done for me by the snappiest copywriters in the business)
)! suppose you refer to +hitewash and $iltA) said %r
$ilbert wistfully
)'ot at all The people who are doin" my ad#ertisin" are
Brownin", ,onrad and ,ompany)
).ear me,) said the $rey6%atter solicitor )! don9t know
that a"ency
at all Still, ! doubt if their copy has more pep than ours)
)! don9t think you "et me ! mean that my ad#ertisin" is
done by the
books ! sell !f ! sell a man a book by Ste#enson or ,onrad,
a book
that deli"hts or terrifies him, that man and that book
become my li#in"
)But that word6of6mouth ad#ertisin" is e(ploded,) said
$ilbert )1ou
can9t "et .istribution that way 1ou9#e "ot to keep your
before the public)
)By the bones of Tauchnit/<) cried %ifflin )Look here,
you wouldn9t
"o to a doctor, a medical specialist, and tell him he ou"ht to
ad#ertise in papers and ma"a/inesA 0 doctor is ad#ertised
by the
bodies he cures %y business is ad#ertised by the minds !
0nd let me tell you that the book business is different from
trades *eople don9t know they want books ! can see 8ust
by lookin"
at you that your mind is ill for lack of books but you are
unaware of it< *eople don9t "o to a bookseller until some
mental accident or disease makes them aware of their
dan"er Then they
come here &or me to ad#ertise would be about as useful as
people who feel perfectly well that they ou"ht to "o to the
doctor .o
you know why people are readin" more books now than
e#er beforeA
Because the terrific catastrophe of the war has made them
reali/e that
their minds are ill The world was sufferin" from all sorts
of mental
fe#ers and aches and disorders, and ne#er knew it 'ow
our mental
pan"s are only too manifest +e are all readin", hun"rily,
tryin" to find out66after the trouble is o#er66what was the
matter with
our minds)
The little bookseller was standin" up now, and his #isitor
watched him
with min"led amusement and alarm
)1ou know,) said %ifflin, )! am interested that you should
ha#e thou"ht
it worth while to come in here !t reinforces my con#iction
of the
ama/in" future ahead of the book business But ! tell you
that future
lies not merely in systemati/in" it as a trade !t lies in
it as a profession !t is small use to 8eer at the public for
shoddy books, 7uack books, untrue books *hysician, cure
thyself< Let
the bookseller learn to know and re#ere "ood books, he will
teach the
customer The hun"er for "ood books is more "eneral and
more insistent
than you would dream But it is still in a way
subconscious *eople
need books, but they don9t know they need them
$enerally they are not
aware that the books they need are in e(istence)
)+hy wouldn9t ad#ertisin" be the way to let them knowA)
asked the youn"
man, rather acutely
)%y dear chap, ! understand the #alue of ad#ertisin" But
in my own
case it would be futile ! am not a dealer in merchandise
but a
specialist in ad8ustin" the book to the human need
Between oursel#es,
there is no such thin", abstractly, as a 9"ood9 book 0 book
is 9"ood9
only when it meets some human hun"er or refutes some
human error 0
book that is "ood for me would #ery likely be punk for you
pleasure is to prescribe books for such patients as drop in
here and
are willin" to tell me their symptoms Some people ha#e
let their
readin" faculties decay so that all ! can do is hold a post
mortem on
them But most are still open to treatment There is no one
"rateful as the man to whom you ha#e "i#en 8ust the book
his soul
needed and he ne#er knew it 'o ad#ertisement on earth is
as potent as
a "rateful customer
)! will tell you another reason why ! don9t ad#ertise,) he
)!n these days when e#eryone keeps his trademark before
the public, as
you call it, not to ad#ertise is the most ori"inal and startlin"
one can do to attract attention !t was the fact that ! do
ad#ertise that drew you here 0nd e#eryone who comes
here thinks he
has disco#ered the place himself He "oes and tells his
friends about
the book asylum run by a crank and a lunatic, and they
come here in
turn to see what it is like)
)! should like to come here a"ain myself and browse
about,) said the
ad#ertisin" a"ent )! should like to ha#e you prescribe for
)The first thin" needed is to ac7uire a sense of pity The
world has
been printin" books for BCD years, and yet "unpowder still
has a wider
circulation 'e#er mind< *rinter9s ink is the "reater
e(plosi#e: it
will win 1es, ! ha#e a few of the "ood books here There
are only
about ED,DDD really important books in the world !
suppose about
C,DDD of them were written in the En"lish lan"ua"e, and
C,DDD more ha#e
been translated)
)1ou are open in the e#enin"sA)
);ntil ten o9clock 0 "reat many of my best customers are
those who
are at work all day and can only #isit bookshops at ni"ht
The real
book6lo#ers, you know, are "enerally amon" the humbler
classes 0 man
who is impassioned with books has little time or patience to
"row rich
by concoctin" schemes for co/enin" his fellows)
The little bookseller9s bald pate shone in the li"ht of the
han"in" o#er the wrappin" table His eyes were bri"ht and
earnest, his
short red beard bristled like wire He wore a ra""ed brown
8acket from which two buttons were missin"
0 bit of a fanatic himself, thou"ht the customer, but a #ery
entertainin" one )+ell, sir,) he said, )! am e#er so "rateful
to you
!9ll come a"ain $ood6ni"ht) 0nd he started down the
aisle for the
0s he neared the front of the shop, %r %ifflin switched on
a cluster
of li"hts that hun" hi"h up, and the youn" man found
himself beside a
lar"e bulletin board co#ered with clippin"s,
announcements, circulars,
and little notices written on cards in a small neat script
followin" cau"ht his eye:
!f your mind needs phosphorus, try )Tri#ia,) by Lo"an
*earsall Smith
!f your mind needs a whiff of stron" air, blue and cleansin",
hilltops and primrose #alleys, try )The Story of %y Heart,)
by Richard
!f your mind needs a tonic of iron and wine, and a thorou"h
rou"h6and6tumblin", try Samuel Butler9s )'otebooks) or
)The %an +ho +as
Thursday,) by ,hesterton
!f you need )all manner of !rish,) and a relapse into
freakishness, try )The .emi6$ods,) by Games Stephens !t
is a better
book than one deser#es or e(pects
!t9s a "ood thin" to turn your mind upside down now and
then, like an
hour6"lass, to let the particles run the other way
One who lo#es the En"lish ton"ue can ha#e a lot of fun
with a Latin
RO$ER %!&&L!'
Human bein"s pay #ery little attention to what is told them
unless they
know somethin" about it already The youn" man had
heard of none of
these books prescribed by the practitioner of bibliotherapy
He was
about to open the door when %ifflin appeared at his side
)Look here,) he said, with a 7uaint touch of
embarrassment )! was
#ery much interested by our talk !9m all alone this
e#enin"66my wife
is away on a holiday +on9t you stay and ha#e supper with
meA ! was
8ust lookin" up some new recipes when you came in)
The other was e7ually surprised and pleased by this
unusual in#itation
)+hy66that9s #ery "ood of you,) he said )0re you sure !
won9t be
)'ot at all<) cried the bookseller )! detest eatin" alone: !
hopin" someone would drop in ! always try to ha#e a
"uest for supper
when my wife is away ! ha#e to stay at home, you see, to
keep an eye
on the shop +e ha#e no ser#ant, and ! do the cookin"
myself !t9s
"reat fun 'ow you li"ht your pipe and make yourself
comfortable for a
few minutes while ! "et thin"s ready Suppose you come
back to my den)
On a table of books at the front of the shop %ifflin laid a
lar"e card
!& 1O; +0'T 0'1TH!'$
Beside the card he placed a lar"e old6fashioned dinner bell,
and then
led the way to the rear of the shop
Behind the little office in which this unusual merchant had
studyin" his cook6book a narrow stairway rose on each
side, runnin" up
to the "allery Behind these stairs a short fli"ht of steps led
to the
domestic recesses The #isitor found himself ushered into a
small room
on the left, where a "rate of coals "lowed under a din"y
mantelpiece of
yellowish marble On the mantel stood a row of blackened
pipes and a canister of tobacco 0bo#e was a startlin"
can#as in
emphatic oils, representin" a lar"e blue wa"on drawn by a
stout white
animal66e#idently a horse 0 back"round of lush scenery
enhanced the
forceful techni7ue of the limner The walls were stuffed
with books
Two shabby, comfortable chairs were drawn up to the iron
fender, and a
mustard6coloured terrier was lyin" so close to the "low that
a smell of
sin"ed hair was sensible
)There,) said the host= )this is my cabinet, my chapel of
ease Take
off your coat and sit down)
)Really,) be"an $ilbert, )!9m afraid this is6666)
)'onsense< 'ow you sit down and commend your soul to
*ro#idence and
the kitchen sto#e !9ll bustle round and "et supper) $ilbert
out his pipe, and with a sense of elation prepared to en8oy
an unusual
e#enin" He was a youn" man of a"reeable parts, amiable
and sensiti#e
He knew his disad#anta"es in literary con#ersation, for he
had "one to
an e(cellent colle"e where "lee clubs and theatricals had
left him
little time for readin" But still he was a lo#er of "ood
thou"h he knew them chiefly by hearsay He was twenty6
fi#e years old,
employed as a copywriter by the $rey6%atter 0d#ertisin"
The little room in which he found himself was plainly the
sanctum, and contained his own pri#ate library $ilbert
browsed alon"
the shel#es curiously The #olumes were mostly shabby
and bruised=
they had e#idently been picked up one by one in the
humble man"ers of
the second6hand #endor They all showed marks of use and
%r $ilbert had the earnest mania for self6impro#ement
which has
bli"hted the li#es of so many youn" men66a passion which,
howe#er, is
commendable in those who feel themsel#es handicapped by
a colle"e
career and a 8ewelled fraternity emblem !t suddenly struck
him that
it would be #aluable to make a list of some of the titles in
collection, as a su""estion for his own readin" He took
out a
memorandum book and be"an 8ottin" down the books that
intri"ued him:
The +orks of &rancis Thompson ?E #ols@
Social History of Smokin": 0pperson
The *ath to Rome: Hilaire Belloc
The Book of Tea: Kaku/o
Happy Thou"hts: & , Burnand
.r Gohnson9s *rayers and %editations
%ar"aret O"il#y: G % Barrie
,onfessions of a Thu": Taylor
$eneral ,atalo"ue of the O(ford ;ni#ersity *ress
The %ornin"9s +ar: , E %onta"ue
The Spirit of %an: edited by Robert Brid"es
The Romany Rye: Borrow
*oems: Emily .ickinson
*oems: $eor"e Herbert
The House of ,obwebs: $eor"e $issin"
So far had he "ot, and was be"innin" to say to himself that
in the
interests of 0d#ertisin" ?who is a 8ealous mistress@ he had
best call a
halt, when his host entered the room, his small face ea"er,
his eyes
blue points of li"ht
),ome, %r 0ubrey $ilbert<) he cried )The meal is set
1ou want to
wash your handsA %ake haste then, this way: the e""s are
hot and
The dinin"6room into which the "uest was conducted
betrayed a feminine
touch not #isible in the smoke6dimmed 7uarters of shop
and cabinet 0t
the windows were curtains of lau"hin" chint/ and pots of
pink "eranium
The table, under a drop6li"ht in a flame6coloured silk
screen, was
bri"htly set with sil#er and blue china !n a cut6"lass
sparkled a ruddy brown wine The ed"ed tool of
0d#ertisin" felt his
spirits under"o an unmistakable upward pressure
)Sit down, sir,) said %ifflin, liftin" the roof of a platter
are e""s Samuel Butler, an in#ention of my own, the
apotheosis of hen
$ilbert "reeted the in#ention with applause 0n E""
Samuel Butler, for
the notebook of housewi#es, may be summari/ed as a
pyramid, based upon
toast, whereof the chief masonries are a flake of bacon, an
e"" poached
to firmness, a wreath of mushrooms, a cap6sheaf of red
peppers= the
whole dribbled with a warm pink sauce of which the
in#entor retains the
secret To this the bookseller chef added fried potatoes
from another
dish, and poured for his "uest a "lass of wine
)This is ,alifornia catawba,) said %ifflin, )in which the
"rape and the
sunshine #ery pleasantly ?and cheaply@ fulfil their allotted
! pled"e you prosperity to the black art of 0d#ertisin"<)
The psycholo"y of the art and mystery of 0d#ertisin" rests
upon tact,
an instincti#e perception of the tone and accent which will
be en
rapport with the mood of the hearer %r $ilbert was aware
of this,
and felt that 7uite possibly his host was prouder of his
a#ocation as "ourmet than of his sacred profession as a
)!s it possible, sir,) he be"an, in lucid Gohnsonian, )that you
concoct so delicious an entree in so few minutesA 1ou are
not hoa(in"
meA There is no secret passa"e between $issin" Street and
laboratories of the Rit/A)
)0h, you should taste %rs %ifflin9s cookin"<) said the
bookseller )!
am only an amateur, who dabbles in the craft durin" her
absence She
is on a #isit to her cousin in Boston She becomes, 7uite
weary of the tobacco of this establishment, and once or
twice a year it
does her "ood to breathe the pure serene of Beacon Hill
.urin" her
absence it is my pri#ile"e to in7uire into the ritual of
! find it #ery sedati#e after the incessant e(citement and
of the shop)
)! should ha#e thou"ht,) said $ilbert, )that life in a
bookshop would
be deli"htfully tran7uil)
)&ar from it Li#in" in a bookshop is like li#in" in a
warehouse of
e(plosi#es Those shel#es are ranked with the most furious
combustibles in the world66the brains of men ! can spend a
afternoon readin", and my mind works itself up to such a
passion and
an(iety o#er mortal problems as almost unmans me !t is
ner#e6rackin" Surround a man with ,arlyle, Emerson,
,hesterton, Shaw, 'iet/sche, and $eor"e 0de66would you
wonder at his
"ettin" e(citedA +hat would happen to a cat if she had to
li#e in a
room tapestried with catnipA She would "o cra/y<)
)Truly, ! had ne#er thou"ht of that phase of booksellin",)
said the
youn" man )How is it, thou"h, that libraries are shrines of
austere calmA !f books are as pro#ocati#e as you su""est,
one would
e(pect e#ery librarian to utter the shrill screams of a
hierophant, to
clash ecstatic castanets in his silent alco#es<)
)0h, my boy, you for"et the card inde(< Librarians
in#ented that
soothin" de#ice for the febrifu"e of their souls, 8ust as ! fall
upon the rites of the kitchen Librarians would all "o mad,
capable of concentrated thou"ht, if they did not ha#e the
cool and
healin" card inde( as medicament< Some more of the
)Thank you,) said $ilbert )+ho was the butler whose
name was
associated with the dishA)
)+hatA) cried %ifflin, in a"itation, )you ha#e not heard of
Butler, the author of The +ay of 0ll &leshA %y dear youn"
man, whoe#er
permits himself to die before he has read that book, and
also Erewhon,
has deliberately forfeited his chances of paradise &or
paradise in
the world to come is uncertain, but there is indeed a hea#en
on this
earth, a hea#en which we inhabit when we read a "ood
book *our
yourself another "lass of wine, and permit me6666)
?Here followed an enthusiastic de#elopment of the per#erse
of Samuel Butler, which, in deference to my readers, !
omit %r
$ilbert took notes of the con#ersation in his pocketbook,
and ! am
pleased to say that his heart was mo#ed to a reali/ation of
ini7uity, for he was obser#ed at the *ublic Library a few
days later
askin" for a copy of The +ay of 0ll &lesh 0fter in7uirin"
at four
libraries, and findin" all copies of the book in circulation,
he was
compelled to buy one He ne#er re"retted doin" so@
)But ! am for"ettin" my duties as host,) said %ifflin )Our
consists of apple sauce, "in"erbread, and coffee) He
rapidly cleared
the empty dishes from the table and brou"ht on the second
)! ha#e been noticin" the warnin" o#er the sideboard,) said
)! hope you will let me help you this e#enin"A) He pointed
to a card
han"in" near the kitchen door !t read:
0L+01S +0SH .!SHES
!%%E.!0TEL1 0&TER %E0LS
)!9m afraid ! don9t always obey that precept,) said the
bookseller as
he poured the coffee )%rs %ifflin han"s it there
whene#er she "oes
away, to remind me But, as our friend Samuel Butler says,
he that is
stupid in little will also be stupid in much ! ha#e a
theory about dish6washin", and ! please myself by
indul"in" it
)! used to re"ard dish6washin" merely as an i"noble chore,
a kind of
hateful discipline which had to be under"one with knitted
brow and
bra/en fortitude +hen my wife went away the first time, !
erected a
readin" stand and an electric li"ht o#er the sink, and used to
while my hands went automatically throu"h base "estures
purification ! made the "reat spirits of literature partners
of my
sorrow, and learned by heart a "ood deal of *aradise Lost
and of +alt
%ason, while ! soused and wallowed amon" pots and pans
! used to
comfort myself with two lines of Keats:
9The mo#in" waters at their priest6like task
Of pure ablution round earth9s human shores66669
Then a new conception of the matter struck me !t is
intolerable for a
human bein" to "o on doin" any task as a penance, under
duress 'o
matter what the work is, one must spirituali/e it in some
way, shatter
the old idea of it into bits and rebuild it nearer to the heart9s
desire How was ! to do this with dish6washin"A
)! broke a "ood many plates while ! was ponderin" o#er the
Then it occurred to me that here was 8ust the rela(ation !
needed !
had been worryin" o#er the mental strain of bein"
surrounded all day
lon" by #ociferous books, cryin" out at me their conflictin"
#iews as
to the "lories and a"onies of life +hy not make dish6
washin" my balm
and poulticeA
)+hen one #iews a stubborn fact from a new an"le, it is
ama/in" how all
its contours and ed"es chan"e shape< !mmediately my
dishpan be"an to
"low with a kind of philosophic halo< The warm, soapy
water became a
so#erei"n medicine to retract hot blood from the head= the
homely act
of washin" and dryin" cups and saucers became a symbol
of the order and
cleanliness that man imposes on the unruly world about
him ! tore
down my book rack and readin" lamp from o#er the sink
)%r $ilbert,) he went on, )do not lau"h at me when ! tell
you that !
ha#e e#ol#ed a whole kitchen philosophy of my own !
find the kitchen
the shrine of our ci#ili/ation, the focus of all that is comely
life The ruddy shine of the sto#e is as beautiful as any
sunset 0
well6polished 8u" or spoon is as fair, as complete and
beautiful, as
any sonnet The dish mop, properly rinsed and wrun" and
hun" outside
the back door to dry, is a whole sermon in itself The stars
look so bri"ht as they do from the kitchen door after the
ice6bo( pan
is emptied and the whole place is 9redd up,9 as the Scotch
)0 #ery deli"htful philosophy indeed,) said $ilbert )0nd
now that we
ha#e finished our meal, ! insist upon your lettin" me "i#e
you a hand
with the washin" up ! am ea"er to test this dish6pantheism
of yours<)
)%y dear fellow,) said %ifflin, layin" a restrainin" hand on
impetuous "uest, )it is a poor philosophy that will not abide
now and then 'o, no66! did not ask you to spend the
e#enin" with me
to wash dishes) 0nd he led the way back to his sittin"
)+hen ! saw you come in,) said %ifflin, )! was afraid you
mi"ht be a
newspaper man, lookin" for an inter#iew 0 youn"
8ournalist came to
see us once, with #ery unhappy results He wheedled
himself into %rs
%ifflin9s "ood "races, and ended by puttin" us both into a
book, called
*arnassus on +heels, which has been rather a trial to me
!n that book
he attributes to me a number of shallow and su"ary
obser#ations upon
booksellin" that ha#e been an annoyance to the trade ! am
happy to
say, thou"h, that his book had only a triflin" sale)
)! ha#e ne#er heard of it,) said $ilbert
)!f you are really interested in booksellin" you should come
here some
e#enin" to a meetin" of the ,orn ,ob ,lub Once a month
a number of
booksellers "ather here and we discuss matters of bookish
concern o#er
corn6cobs and cider +e ha#e all sorts and conditions of
one is a fanatic on the sub8ect of libraries He thinks that
public library should be dynamited 0nother thinks that
pictures will destroy the book trade +hat rot< Surely
that arouses people9s minds, that makes them alert and
increases their appetite for books)
)The life of a bookseller is #ery demorali/in" to the
intellect,) he
went on after a pause )He is surrounded by innumerable
books= he
cannot possibly read them all= he dips into one and picks up
a scrap
from another His mind "radually fills itself with
flotsam, with superficial opinions, with a thousand half6
0lmost unconsciously he be"ins to rate literature accordin"
to what
people ask for He be"ins to wonder whether Ralph +aldo
Trine isn9t
really "reater than Ralph +aldo Emerson, whether G %
,happle isn9t as
bi" a man as G % Barrie That way lies intellectual
)One thin", howe#er, you must "rant the "ood bookseller
He is
tolerant He is patient of all ideas and theories
en"ulfed by the torrent of men9s words, he is willin" to
listen to them
all E#en to the publisher9s salesman he turns an indul"ent
ear He
is willin" to be humbu""ed for the weal of humanity He
unceasin"ly for "ood books to be born
)%y business, you see, is different from most ! only deal
second6hand books= ! only buy books that ! consider ha#e
some honest
reason for e(istence !n so far as human 8ud"ment can
discern, ! try
to keep trash out of my shel#es 0 doctor doesn9t traffic in
remedies ! don9t traffic in bo"us books
)0 comical thin" happened the other day There is a certain
man, a %r ,hapman, who has lon" fre7uented this
)! wonder if that could be %r ,hapman of the ,hapman
,ompanyA) said $ilbert, feelin" his feet touch familiar soil
)The same, ! belie#e,) said %ifflin ).o you know himA)
)0h,) cried the youn" man with re#erence )There is a man
who can tell
you the #irtues of ad#ertisin" !f he is interested in books,
it is
ad#ertisin" that made it possible +e handle all his copy66
written a lot of it myself +e ha#e made the ,hapman
prunes a staple
of ci#ili/ation and culture ! myself de#ised that slo"an
9+e preen
oursel#es on our prunes9 which you see in e#ery bi"
ma"a/ine ,hapman
prunes are known the world o#er The %ikado eats them
once a week
The *ope eats them +hy, we ha#e 8ust heard that thirteen
cases of
them are to be put on board the $eor"e +ashin"ton for the
#oya"e to the peace ,onference The ,/echo6Slo#ak
armies were fed
lar"ely on prunes !t is our con#iction in the office that our
campai"n for the ,hapman prunes did much to win the
)! read in an ad the other day66perhaps you wrote that,
tooA) said the
bookseller, )that the El"in watch had won the war
Howe#er, %r
,hapman has lon" been one of my best customers He
heard about the
,orn ,ob ,lub, and thou"h of course he is not a bookseller
he be""ed to
come to our meetin"s +e were "lad to ha#e him do so,
and he has
entered into our discussions with "reat /eal Often he has
many a shrewd comment He has "rown so enthusiastic
about the
bookseller9s way of life that the other day he wrote to me
about his
dau"hter ?he is a widower@ She has been attendin" a
"irls9 school where, he says, they ha#e filled her head with
wasteful, snobbish notions He says she has no more idea
of the
usefulness and beauty of life than a *omeranian do"
!nstead of
sendin" her to colle"e, he has asked me if %rs %ifflin and
! will take
her in here to learn to sell books He wants her to think she
earnin" her keep, and is "oin" to pay me pri#ately for the
pri#ile"e of
ha#in" her li#e here He thinks that bein" surrounded by
books will
put some sense in her head ! am rather ner#ous about the
but it is a compliment to the shop, isn9t itA)
)1e "ods,) cried $ilbert, )what ad#ertisin" copy that would
0t this point the bell in the shop ran", and %ifflin 8umped
up )This
part of the e#enin" is often rather busy,) he said )!9m
afraid !9ll
ha#e to "o down on the floor Some of my habitues rather
e(pect me to
be on hand to "ossip about books)
)! can9t tell you how much !9#e en8oyed myself,) said
$ilbert )!9m
"oin" to come a"ain and study your shel#es)
)+ell, keep it dark about the youn" lady,) said the
bookseller )!
don9t want all you youn" blades droppin" in here to unsettle
her mind
!f she falls in lo#e with anybody in this shop, it9ll ha#e to be
,onrad or Gohn Keats<)
0s he passed out, $ilbert saw Ro"er %ifflin en"a"ed in
ar"ument with a
bearded man who looked like a colle"e professor
),arlyle9s Oli#er
,romwellA) he was sayin" )1es, indeed< Ri"ht o#er here<
that9s odd< !t +0S here)
,hapter !!
The ,orn ,ob ,lubH4I
H4I The latter half of this chapter may be omitted by all
readers who
are not booksellers
The Haunted Bookshop was a deli"htful place, especially
of an e#enin",
when its drowsy alco#es were kindled with the bri"htness
of lamps
shinin" on the rows of #olumes %any a passer6by would
stumble down
the steps from the street in sheer curiosity= others, familiar
#isitors, dropped in with the same comfortable emotion that
a man feels
on enterin" his club Ro"er9s custom was to sit at his desk
in the
rear, puffin" his pipe and readin"= thou"h if any customer
started a
con#ersation, the little man was 7uick and ea"er to carry it
on The
lion of talk lay only sleepin" in him= it was not hard to "oad
it up
!t may be remarked that all bookshops that are open in the
e#enin" are
busy in the after6supper hours !s it that the true book6
lo#ers are
nocturnal "entry, only #enturin" forth when darkness and
silence and
the "leam of hooded li"hts irresistibly su""est readin"A
ni"ht6time has a mystic affinity for literature, and it is
stran"e that
the Es7uimau( ha#e created no "reat books Surely, for
most of us, an
arctic ni"ht would be insupportable without O Henry and
Or, as Ro"er %ifflin remarked durin" a passin" enthusiasm
for 0mbrose
Bierce, the true noctes ambrosianae are the noctes ambrose
But Ro"er was prompt in closin" *arnassus at ten o9clock
0t that hour
he and Bock ?the mustard6coloured terrier, named for
Boccaccio@ would
make the round of the shop, see that e#erythin" was
shipshape, empty
the ash trays pro#ided for customers, lock the front door,
and turn off
the li"hts Then they would retire to the den, where %rs
%ifflin was
"enerally knittin" or readin" She would brew a pot of
cocoa and they
would read or talk for half an hour or so before bed
Sometimes Ro"er
would take a stroll alon" $issin" Street before turnin" in
0ll day
spent with books has a rather e(haustin" effect on the
mind, and he
used to en8oy the fresh air sweepin" up the dark Brooklyn
meditatin" some thou"ht that had sprun" from his readin",
while Bock
sniffed and padded alon" in the manner of an elderly do" at
+hile %rs %ifflin was away, howe#er, Ro"er9s routine
was somewhat
different 0fter closin" the shop he would return to his
desk and with
a furti#e, shamefaced air take out from a bottom drawer an
folder of notes and manuscript This was the skeleton in
his closet,
his secret sin !t was the scaffoldin" of his book, which he
had been
compilin" for at least ten years, and to which he had
assi"ned such different titles as )'otes on Literature,) )The
%use on
,rutches,) )Books and !,) and )+hat a 1oun" Bookseller
Ou"ht to Know)
!t had be"un lon" a"o, in the days of his odyssey as a rural
huckster, under the title of )Literature 0mon" the &armers,)
but it had
branched out until it be"an to appear that ?in bulk at least@
would ha#e to look to his linoleum laurels The manuscript
in its
present state had neither be"innin" nor end, but it was
strenuously in the middle, and hundreds of pa"es were
co#ered with
Ro"er9s minute script The chapter on )0rs Bibliopolae,)
or the art of
booksellin", would be, he hoped, a classic amon"
"enerations of book
#endors still unborn Seated at his disorderly desk,
caressed by a
counterpane of driftin" tobacco ha/e, he would pore o#er
manuscript, crossin" out, interpolatin", re6ar"uin", and then
to #olumes on his shel#es Bock would snore under the
chair, and soon
Ro"er9s brain would be"in to wa#er !n the end he would
fall asleep
o#er his papers, wake with a cramp about two o9clock, and
irritably to a lonely bed
0ll this we mention only to e(plain how it was that Ro"er
was do/in" at
his desk about midni"ht, the e#enin" after the call paid by
$ilbert He was awakened by a drau"ht of chill air passin"
like a
mountain brook o#er his bald pate Stiffly he sat up and
looked about
The shop was in darkness sa#e for the bri"ht electric o#er
his head
Bock, of more re"ular habit than his master, had "one back
to his couch
in the kitchen, made of a packin" case that had once
coffined a set of
the Encyclopaedia Britannica
)That9s funny,) said Ro"er to himself )Surely ! locked the
doorA) He
walked to the front of the shop, switchin" on the cluster of
that hun" from the ceilin" The door was a8ar, but
e#erythin" else
seemed as usual Bock, hearin" his footsteps, came trottin"
out from
the kitchen, his claws rattlin" on the bare wooden floor He
looked up
with the patient in7uiry of a do" accustomed to the
eccentricities of
his patron
)! "uess !9m "ettin" absent6minded,) said Ro"er )! must
ha#e left the
door open) He closed and locked it Then he noticed that
the terrier
was sniffin" in the History alco#e, which was at the front of
the shop
on the left6hand side
)+hat is it, old manA) said Ro"er )+ant somethin" to
read in bedA) He
turned on the li"ht in that alco#e E#erythin" appeared
normal Then
he noticed a book that pro8ected an inch or so beyond the
e#en line of
bindin"s !t was a fad of Ro"er9s to keep all his books in a
flat row
on the shel#es, and almost e#ery e#enin" at closin" time he
used to run
his palm alon" the backs of the #olumes to le#el any
left by careless browsers He put out a hand to push the
book into
place Then he stopped
)Jueer a"ain,) he thou"ht ),arlyle9s Oli#er ,romwell< !
looked for
that book last ni"ht and couldn9t find it +hen that
professor fellow
was here %aybe !9m tired and can9t see strai"ht !9ll "o to
The ne(t day was a date of some moment 'ot only was it
.ay, with the 'o#ember meetin" of the ,orn ,ob ,lub
scheduled for that
e#enin", but %rs %ifflin had promised to "et home from
Boston in time
to bake a chocolate cake for the booksellers !t was said
that some of
the members of the club were faithful in attendance more
by reason of
%rs %ifflin9s chocolate cake, and the cask of cider that her
0ndrew %c$ill sent down from the Sabine &arm e#ery
autumn, than on
account of the bookish con#ersation
Ro"er spent the mornin" in doin" a little housecleanin", in
for his wife9s return He was a trifle abashed to find how
min"led crumbs and tobacco cinders had accumulated on
the dinin"6room
ru" He cooked himself a modest lunch of lamb chops and
potatoes, and was pleased by an epi"ram concernin" food
that came into
his mind )!t9s not the food you dream about that matters,)
he said to
himself= )it9s the #ittles that walk ri"ht in and become a
member of
the family) He felt that this needed a little polishin" and
rephrasin", but that there was a "erm of wit in it He had a
habit of
encounterin" ideas at his solitary meals
0fter this, he was busy at the sink scrubbin" the dishes,
when he was
surprised by feelin" two #ery competent arms surround
him, and a pink
"in"ham apron was thrown o#er his head )%ifflin,) said
his wife, )how
many times ha#e ! told you to put on an apron when you
wash up<)
They "reeted each other with the hearty, affectionate
simplicity of
those con"enially wedded in middle a"e Helen %ifflin
was a bu(om,
healthy creature, rich in "ood sense and "ood humour, well
both in mind and body She kissed Ro"er9s bald head, tied
the apron
around his shrimpish person, and sat down on a kitchen
chair to watch
him finish wipin" the china Her cheeks were cool and
ruddy from the
keen air, her face lit with the tran7uil satisfaction of those
who ha#e
so8ourned in the comfortable city of Boston
)+ell, my dear,) said Ro"er, )this makes it a real
Thanks"i#in" 1ou
look as plump and full of matter as The Home Book of
)!9#e had a stunnin" time,) she said, pattin" Bock who
stood at her
knee, imbibin" the familiar and mysterious fra"rance by
which do"s
identify their human friends )! ha#en9t e#en heard of a
book for
three weeks ! did stop in at the Old 0n"le Book Shop
yesterday, 8ust
to say hullo to Goe Gillin"s He says all booksellers are
cra/y, but
that you are the cra/iest of the lot He wants to know if
bankrupt yet)
Ro"er9s slate6blue eyes twinkled He hun" up a cup in the
china closet
and lit his pipe before replyin"
)+hat did you sayA)
)! said that our shop was haunted, and mustn9t be supposed
to come
under the usual conditions of the trade)
)Bully for you< 0nd what did Goe say to thatA)
)9Haunted by the nuts<9)
)+ell,) said Ro"er, )when literature "oes bankrupt !9m
willin" to "o
with it 'ot till then But by the way, we9re "oin" to be
haunted by
a beauteous damsel pretty soon 1ou remember my tellin"
you that %r
,hapman wants to send his dau"hter to work in the shopA
+ell, here9s a
letter ! had from him this mornin")
He rumma"ed in his pocket, and produced the followin",
which %rs
%ifflin read:
.E0R %R %!&&L!',
! am so deli"hted that you and %rs %ifflin are willin" to
try the
e(periment of takin" my dau"hter as an apprentice Titania
is really a
#ery charmin" "irl, and if only we can "et some of the
school) nonsense out of her head she will make a fine
woman She has
had ?it was my fault, not hers@ the disad#anta"e of bein"
brou"ht up,
or rather brou"ht down, by ha#in" e#ery possible want and
"ratified Out of kindness for herself and her future
husband, if she
should ha#e one, ! want her to learn a little about earnin" a
She is nearly nineteen, and ! told her if she would try the
8ob for a while ! would take her to Europe for a year
0s ! e(plained to you, ! want her to think she is really
earnin" her
way Of course ! don9t want the routine to be too hard for
her, but !
do want her to "et some idea of what it means to face life
on one9s
own !f you will pay her ten dollars a week as a be"inner,
and deduct
her board from that, ! will pay you twenty dollars a week,
for your responsibility in carin" for her and keepin" your
and %rs
%ifflin9s friendly eyes on her !9m comin" round to the
,orn ,ob
meetin" to6morrow ni"ht, and we can make the final
Luckily, she is #ery fond of books, and ! really think she is
forward to the ad#enture with much anticipation !
o#erheard her
sayin" to one of her friends yesterday that she was "oin" to
do some
)literary work) this winter That9s the kind of nonsense !
want her to
out"row +hen ! hear her say that she9s "ot a 8ob in a
bookstore, !9ll
know she9s cured
,ordially yours,
$EOR$E ,H0*%0'
)+ellA) said Ro"er, as %rs %ifflin made no comment
).on9t you think
it will be rather interestin" to "et a nai#e youn" "irl9s
toward the problems of our tran7uil e(istenceA)
)Ro"er, you blessed innocent<) cried his wife )Life will
no lon"er be
tran7uil with a "irl of nineteen round the place 1ou may
yourself, but you can9t fool me 0 "irl of nineteen doesn9t
toward thin"s She e(plodes Thin"s don9t 9react9 anywhere
but in
Boston and in chemical laboratories ! suppose you know
you9re takin"
a human bombshell into the arsenalA)
Ro"er looked dubious )! remember somethin" in +eir of
Hermiston about
a "irl bein" 9an e(plosi#e en"ine,9) he said )But ! don9t see
she can do any #ery "reat harm round here +e9re both
pretty well
proof a"ainst shell shock The worst that could happen
would be if she
"ot hold of my pri#ate copy of &ireside ,on#ersation in the
0"e of
Jueen Eli/abeth Remind me to lock it up somewhere, will
This secret masterpiece by %ark Twain was one of the
treasures 'ot e#en Helen had e#er been permitted to read
it= and she
had shrewdly 8ud"ed that it was not in her line, for thou"h
she knew
perfectly well where he kept it ?to"ether with his life
policy, some Liberty Bonds, an auto"raph letter from
,harles Spencer
,haplin, and a snapshot of herself taken on their
honeymoon@ she had
ne#er made any attempt to e(amine it
)+ell,) said Helen= )Titania or no Titania, if the ,orn ,obs
want their
chocolate cake to6ni"ht, ! must "et busy Take my suitcase
like a "ood fellow)
0 "atherin" of booksellers is a pleasant sanhedrim to
attend The
members of this ancient craft bear mannerisms and
earmarks 8ust as
definitely reco"ni/able as those of the cloak and suit
business or any
other trade They are likely to be a little66shall we say66
worn at the
bindin"s, as becomes men who ha#e forsaken worldly
profit to pursue a
noble callin" ill rewarded in cash They are possibly a
embittered, which is an e(cellent demeanour for mankind
in the face of
inscrutable hea#en Lon" e(perience with publishers9
salesmen makes
them suspicious of books praised between the courses of a
hea#y meal
+hen a publisher9s salesman takes you out to dinner, it is
surprisin" if the con#ersation turns toward literature about
the time
the last of the peas are bein" harried about the plate But,
as Gerry
$ladfist says ?he runs a shop up on Thirty6Ei"hth Street@
publishers9 salesmen supply a lon"6felt want, for they do
now and then
buy one a dinner the like of which no bookseller would
otherwise be
likely to commit
)+ell, "entlemen,) said Ro"er as his "uests assembled in
his little
cabinet, )it9s a cold e#enin" *ull up toward the fire %ake
with the cider The cake9s on the table %y wife came back
Boston specially to make it)
)Here9s %rs %ifflin9s health<) said %r ,hapman, a 7uiet
little man
who had a habit of listenin" to what he heard )! hope she
mind keepin" the shop while we celebrateA)
)'ot a bit,) said Ro"er )She en8oys it)
)! see Tar/an of the 0pes is runnin" at the $issin" Street
palace,) said $ladfist )$reat stuff Ha#e you seen itA)
)'ot while ! can still read The Gun"le Book,) said Ro"er
)1ou make me tired with that talk about literature,) cried
Gerry )0
book9s a book, e#en if Harold Bell +ri"ht wrote it)
)0 book9s a book if you en8oy readin" it,) amended
%eredith, from a bi"
&ifth 0#enue bookstore )Lots of people en8oy Harold Bell
+ri"ht 8ust
as lots of people en8oy tripe Either of them would kill me
let9s be tolerant)
)1our ar"ument is a whole succession of non se7uiturs,)
said Gerry,
stimulated by the cider to unusual brilliance
)That9s a lon" putt,) chuckled Benson, the dealer in rare
books and
first editions
)+hat ! mean is this,) said Gerry )+e aren9t literary critics
none of our business to say what9s "ood and what isn9t Our
8ob is
simply to supply the public with the books it wants when it
wants them
How it comes to want the books it does is no concern of
)1ou9re the "uy that calls booksellin" the worst business in
world,) said Ro"er warmly, )and you9re the kind of "uy that
makes it
so ! suppose you would say that it is no concern of the
bookseller to
try to increase the public appetite for booksA)
)0ppetite is too stron" a word,) said Gerry )0s far as
books are
concerned the public is barely able to sit up and take a little
nourishment Solid foods don9t interest it !f you try to
cram roast
beef down the "ullet of an in#alid you9ll kill him Let the
alone, and thank $od when it comes round to amputate any
of its
hard6earned cash)
)+ell, take it on the lowest basis,) said Ro"er )! ha#en9t
any facts
to "o upon6666)
)1ou ne#er ha#e,) inter8ected Gerry
)But !9d like to bet that the Trade has made more money out
of Bryce9s
0merican ,ommonwealth than it e#er did out of all *arson
+ri"ht9s books
put to"ether)
)+hat of itA +hy shouldn9t they make bothA)
This preliminary tilt was interrupted by the arri#al of two
#isitors, and Ro"er handed round mu"s of cider, pointed to
the cake and
the basket of pret/els, and lit his corn6cob pipe The new
were Juincy and &ruehlin"= the former a clerk in the book
department of
a #ast dry"oods store, the latter the owner of a bookshop in
the Hebrew
7uarter of $rand Street66one of the best6stocked shops in
the city,
thou"h little known to uptown book6lo#ers
)+ell,) said &ruehlin", his bri"ht dark eyes sparklin" abo#e
tinted cheek6bones and bushy beard, )what9s the
)The usual one,) said $ladfist, "rinnin", )%ifflin confusin"
merchandise with metaphysics)
%!&&L!'66'ot at all ! am simply sayin" that it is "ood
business to
sell only the best
$L0.&!ST66+ron" a"ain 1ou must select your stock
accordin" to your
customers 0sk Juincy here +ould there be any sense in
his loadin"
up his shel#es with %aeterlinck and Shaw when the
trade wants Eleanor *orter and the Tar/an stuffA .oes a
country "rocer
carry the same ci"ars that are listed on the wine card of a
0#enue hotelA Of course not He "ets in the ci"ars that his
en8oys and is accustomed to Booksellin" must obey the
ordinary rules
of commerce
%!&&L!'660 fi" for the ordinary rules of commerce< !
came o#er here to
$issin" Street to "et away from them %y mind would
blow out its fuses
if ! had to abide by the dirty little considerations of supply
demand 0s far as ! am concerned, supply ,RE0TES
$L0.&!ST66Still, old chap, you ha#e to abide by the dirty
consideration of earnin" a li#in", unless someone has
endowed youA
BE'SO'66Of course my line of business isn9t strictly the
same as you
fellows9 But a thou"ht that has often occurred to me in
sellin" rare
editions may interest you The customer9s willin"ness to
part with his
money is usually in in#erse ratio to the permanent benefit
he e(pects
to deri#e from what he purchases
%ERE.!TH66Sounds a bit like Gohn Stuart %ill
BE'SO'66E#en so, it may be true &olks will pay a
darned si"ht more to
be amused than they will to be e(alted Look at the way a
man shells
out fi#e bones for a couple of theatre seats, or spends a
couple of
dollars a week on ci"ars without thinkin" of it 1et two
dollars or
fi#e dollars for a book costs him positi#e an"uish The
mistake you
fellows in the retail trade ha#e made is in tryin" to persuade
customers that books are necessities Tell them they9re
That9ll "et them< *eople ha#e to work so hard in this life
they9re shy
of necessities 0 man will "o on wearin" a suit until it9s
much sooner than smoke a threadbare ci"ar
$L0.&!ST66'ot a bad thou"ht 1ou know, %ifflin here
calls me a
material6minded cynic, but by thunder, ! think !9m more
idealistic than
he is !9m no propa"andist incessantly tryin" to ca8ole poor
customers into buyin" the kind of book K!K think they
ou"ht to buy
+hen ! see the helpless pathos of most of them, who drift
into a
bookstore without the sli"htest idea of what they want or
what is worth
readin", ! would disdain to take ad#anta"e of their frailty
They are
absolutely at the mercy of the salesman They will buy
whate#er he
tells them to 'ow the honourable man, the hi"h6minded
man ?by which !
mean myself@ is too proud to ram some shimmerin" stuff at
them 8ust
because he thinks they ou"ht to read it Let the boobs
blunder around
and "rab what they can Let natural selection operate !
think it is
fascinatin" to watch them, to see their helpless "ropin", and
to study
the weird ways in which they make their choice ;sually
they will buy
a book either because they think the 8acket is attracti#e, or
it costs a dollar and a 7uarter instead of a dollar and a half,
because they say they saw a re#iew of it The )re#iew)
usually turns
out to be an ad ! don9t think one book6buyer in a thousand
knows the
%!&&L!'661our doctrine is pitiless, base, and false< +hat
would you
think of a physician who saw men sufferin" from a curable
disease and
did nothin" to alle#iate their sufferin"sA
$L0.&!ST66Their sufferin"s ?as you call them@ are
nothin" to what mine
would be if ! stocked up with a lot of books that no one but
would buy +hat would you think of a base public that
would "o past my
shop day after day and let the hi"h6minded occupant die of
%!&&L!'661our ailment, Gerry, is that you concei#e
yourself as merely a
tradesman +hat !9m tellin" you is that the bookseller is a
ser#ant He ou"ht to be pensioned by the state The
honour of his
profession should compel him to do all he can to spread the
distribution of "ood stuff
J;!',166! think you for"et how much we who deal
chiefly in new books
are at the mercy of the publishers +e ha#e to stock the
new stuff, a
lar"e proportion of which is always punk +hy it is punk,
knows, because most of the bum books don9t sell
%!&&L!'660h, that is a mystery indeed< But ! can "i#e
you a fair
reason &irst, because there isn9t enou"h "ood stuff to "o
Second, because of the i"norance of the publishers, many
of whom
honestly don9t know a "ood book when they see it !t is a
matter of
sheer heedlessness in the selection of what they intend to
publish 0
bi" dru" factory or a manufacturer of a well6known 8am
spends #ast sums
of money on chemically assayin" and analy/in" the
in"redients that are
to "o into his medicines or in "atherin" and selectin" the
fruit that
is to be stewed into 8am 0nd yet they tell me that the most
department of a publishin" business, which is the "atherin"
samplin" of manuscripts, is the least considered and the
remunerated ! knew a reader for one publishin" house: he
was a babe
recently out of colle"e who didn9t know a book from a frat
pin !f a
8am factory employs a trained chemist, why isn9t it worth a
while to employ an e(pert book analy/erA There are some
of them Look
at the fellow who runs the *acific %onthly9s book business
for e(ample<
He knows a thin" or two
,H0*%0'66! think perhaps you e(a""erate the #alue of
those trained
e(perts They are likely to be fourflushers +e had one
once at our
factory, and as far as ! could make out he ne#er thou"ht we
were doin"
"ood business e(cept when we were losin" money
%!&&L!'660s far as ! ha#e been able to obser#e, makin"
money is the
easiest thin" in the world 0ll you ha#e to do is to turn out
honest product, somethin" that the public needs Then you
ha#e to let
them know that you ha#e it, and teach them that they need
it They
will batter down your front door in their ea"erness to "et it
But if
you be"in to hand them "old bricks, if you be"in to sell
them books
built like an apartment house, all marble front and all brick
you9re cuttin" your own throat, or rather cuttin" your own
which is the same thin"
%ERE.!TH66! think %ifflin9s ri"ht 1ou know the kind of
place our shop
is: a re"ular &ifth 0#enue store, all plate "lass front and
columns "lowin" in the indirect li"htin" like a birchwood
at full moon
+e sell hundreds of dollars9 worth of bunkum e#ery day
because people
ask for it= but ! tell you we do it with reluctance !t9s rather
custom in our shop to scoff at the book6buyin" public and
call them
boobs, but they really want "ood books66the poor souls
don9t know how
to "et them Still, Gerry has a certain "rain of truth to his
! "et ten times more satisfaction in sellin" a copy of
'ewton9s The
0menities of Book6,ollectin" than ! do in sellin" a copy
Tar/an= but it9s poor business to impose your own pri#ate
tastes on
your customers 0ll you can do is to hint them alon"
tactfully, when
you "et a chance, toward the stuff that counts
J;!',1661ou remind me of somethin" that happened in
our book department
the other day 0 flapper came in and said she had for"otten
the name
of the book she wanted, but it was somethin" about a youn"
man who had
been brou"ht up by the monks ! was stumped ! tried her
with The
,loister and the Hearth and %onastery Bells and Le"ends
of the %onastic
Orders and so on, but her face was blank Then one of the
o#erheard us talkin", and she "uessed it ri"ht off the bat
Of course
it was Tar/an
%!&&L!'661ou poor simp, there was your chance to
introduce her to
%ow"li and the bandar6lo"
J;!',166True66! didn9t think of it
%!&&L!'66!9d like to "et you fellows9 ideas about
ad#ertisin" There
was a youn" chap in here the other day from an ad#ertisin"
tryin" to "et me to put some copy in the papers Ha#e you
found that
it paysA
&R;EHL!'$66!t always pays66somebody The only
7uestion is, does it pay
the man who pays for the adA
%ERE.!TH66+hat do you meanA
&R;EHL!'$ you e#er consider the problem of what
! call tan"ential
ad#ertisin"A By that ! mean ad#ertisin" that benefits your
rather than yourselfA Take an e(ample On Si(th 0#enue
there is a
lo#ely delicatessen shop, but rather e(pensi#e E#ery
concei#able kind
of sweetmeat and relish is displayed in the bri"htly lit
window +hen
you look at that window it simply makes your mouth water
1ou decide
to ha#e somethin" to eat But do you "et it thereA 'ot
much< 1ou "o
a little farther down the street and "et it at the 0utomat or
,rystal Lunch The delicatessen fellow pays the o#erhead
e(pense of
that beautiful food e(hibit, and the other man "ets the
benefit of it
!t9s the same way in my business !9m in a factory district,
people can9t afford to ha#e any but the best books
?%eredith will
bear me out in sayin" that only the wealthy can afford the
poor ones@
They read the book ads in the papers and ma"a/ines, the
ads of
%eredith9s shop and others, and then they come to me to
buy them !
belie#e in ad#ertisin", but ! belie#e in lettin" someone else
pay for
%!&&L!'66! "uess perhaps ! can afford to "o on ridin" on
ads ! hadn9t thou"ht of that But ! think ! shall put a little
notice in one of the papers some day, 8ust a little card
*0R'0SS;S 0T HO%E
0'. SOL.
TH!S SHO* !S H0;'TE.
!t will be fun to see what come6back ! "et
J;!',166The book section of a department store doesn9t
"et much chance
to en8oy that tan"ential ad#ertisin", as &ruehlin" calls it
+hy, when
our interior decoratin" shark puts a few #olumes of a
pirated Kiplin"
bound in crushed oilcloth or a copy of )Knock6kneed
Stories,) into the
window to show off a Louis F-!!! boudoir suite, display
space is
char"ed up a"ainst my department< Last summer he asked
me for
)somethin" by that Rin" fellow, ! for"et the name,) to put a
finish on a layout of porch furniture ! thou"ht perhaps he
+a"ner9s 'ibelun"en operas, and be"an to di" them out
Then ! found he
meant Rin" Lardner
$L0.&!ST66There you are ! keep tellin" you booksellin"
is an
impossible 8ob for a man who lo#es literature +hen did a
e#er make any real contribution to the world9s happinessA
%!&&L!'66.r Gohnson9s father was a bookseller
$L0.&!ST661es, and couldn9t afford to pay for Sam9s
&R;EHL!'$66There9s another kind of tan"ential
ad#ertisin" that
interests me Take, for instance, a ,oles *hillips paintin"
for some
brand of silk stockin"s Of course the hi"h li"hts of the
picture are
cunnin"ly focussed on the stockin"s of the eminently
beautiful lady=
but there is always somethin" else in the picture66an
automobile or a
country house or a %orris chair or a parasol66which makes
it 8ust as
effecti#e an ad for those "oods as it is for the stockin"s
E#ery now
and then *hillips sticks a book into his paintin"s, and !
e(pect the
&ifth 0#enue book trade benefits by it 0 book that fits the
mind as
well as a silk stockin" does the ankle will be sure to sell
%!&&L!'661ou are all crass materialists ! tell you, books
are the
depositories of the human spirit, which is the only thin" in
this world
that endures +hat was it Shakespeare said66
'ot marble nor the "ilded monuments
Of princes shall outli#e this powerful rhyme66
By the bones of the Hohen/ollerns, he was ri"ht< 0nd wait
a minute<
There9s somethin" in ,arlyle9s ,romwell that comes back
to me
He ran e(citedly out of the room, and the members of the
,orn ,ob
fraternity "rinned at each other $ladfist cleaned his pipe
and poured
out some more cider )He9s off on his hobby,) he chuckled
)! lo#e
baitin" him)
)Speakin" of ,arlyle9s ,romwell,) said &ruehlin", )that9s a
book !
don9t often hear asked for But a fellow came in the other
day huntin"
for a copy, and to my cha"rin ! didn9t ha#e one ! rather
pride myself
on keepin" that sort of thin" in stock So ! called up
Brentano9s to
see if ! could pick one up, and they told me they had 8ust
sold the
only copy they had Somebody must ha#e been boostin"
Thomas< %aybe
he9s 7uoted in Tar/an, or somebody has bou"ht up the film
%ifflin came in, lookin" rather annoyed
)Here9s an odd thin",) he said )! know damn well that
copy of
,romwell was on the shelf because ! saw it there last ni"ht
!t9s not
there now)
)That9s nothin",) said Juincy )1ou know how people
come into a
second6hand store, see a book they take a fancy to but don9t
feel like
buyin" 8ust then, and tuck it away out of si"ht or on some
other shelf
where they think no one else will spot it, but they9ll be able
to find
it when they can afford it *robably someone9s done that
with your
)%aybe, but ! doubt it,) said %ifflin )%rs %ifflin says
she didn9t
sell it this e#enin" ! woke her up to ask her She was
do/in" o#er
her knittin" at the desk ! "uess she9s tired after her trip)
)!9m sorry to miss the ,arlyle 7uotation,) said Benson
)+hat was the
)! think !9#e "ot it 8otted down in a notebook,) said Ro"er,
alon" a shelf )1es, here it is) He read aloud:
)The works of a man, bury them under what "uano6
mountains and obscene
owl6droppin"s you will, do not perish, cannot perish +hat
of Heroism,
what of Eternal Li"ht was in a %an and his Life, is with
#ery "reat
e(actness added to the Eternities, remains fore#er a new
di#ine portion
of the Sum of Thin"s
)'ow, my friends, the bookseller is one of the keys in that
addin" machine, because he aids in the cross6fertili/ation of
men and
books His deli"ht in his callin" doesn9t need to be
stimulated e#en
by the bri"ht shanks of a ,oles *hillips picture
)Ro"er, my boy,) said $ladfist, )your innocent enthusiasm
makes me
think of Tom .aly9s fa#ourite story about the !rish priest
who was
rebukin" his flock for their lo#e of whisky 9+hisky,9 he
said, 9is
the bane of this con"re"ation +hisky, that steals away a
brains +hisky, that makes you shoot at landlords66and not
hit them<9
E#en so, my dear Ro"er, your enthusiasm makes you shoot
at truth and
ne#er come anywhere near it)
)Gerry,) said Ro"er, )you are a upas tree 1our shadow is
)+ell, "entlemen,) said %r ,hapman, )! know %rs
%ifflin wants to be
relie#ed of her post ! #ote we ad8ourn early 1our
con#ersation is
always deli"htful, thou"h ! am sometimes a bit uncertain as
to the
conclusions %y dau"hter is "oin" to be a bookseller, and !
shall look
forward to hearin" her #iews on the business)
0s the "uests made their way out throu"h the shop, %r
,hapman drew
Ro"er aside )!t9s perfectly all ri"ht about sendin" TitaniaA)
)0bsolutely,) said Ro"er )+hen does she want to comeA)
)!s to6morrow too soonA)
)The sooner the better +e9#e "ot a little spare room
upstairs that
she can ha#e !9#e "ot some ideas of my own about
furnishin" it for
her Send her round to6morrow afternoon)
,hapter !!!
Titania 0rri#es
The first pipe after breakfast is a rite of some importance to
smokers, and Ro"er applied the flame to the bowl as he
stood at the
bottom of the stairs He blew a "reat "ush of stron" blue
reek that
eddied behind him as he ran up the fli"ht, his mind ea"erly
the con"enial task of arran"in" the little spare room for the
employee Then, at the top of the steps, he found that his
pipe had
already "one out )+hat with fillin" my pipe and emptyin"
it, li"htin"
it and reli"htin" it,) he thou"ht, )! don9t seem to "et much
time for
the serious concerns of life ,ome to think of it, smokin",
dishes and washin" them, talkin" and listenin" to other
people talk,
take up most of life anyway)
This theory rather pleased him, so he ran downstairs a"ain
to tell it
to %rs %ifflin
)$o alon" and "et that room fi(ed up,) she said, )and don9t
try to palm
off any bo"us doctrines on me so early in the mornin"
Housewi#es ha#e
no time for philosophy after breakfast)
Ro"er thorou"hly en8oyed himself in the task of preparin"
"uest6room for the new assistant !t was a small chamber at
the back
of the second storey, openin" on to a narrow passa"e that
throu"h a door with the "allery of the bookshop Two
small windows
commanded a #iew of the modest roofs of that 7uarter of
Brooklyn, roofs
that conceal so many bra#e hearts, so many baby carria"es,
so many cups
of bad coffee, and so many cartons of the ,hapman prunes
)By the way,) he called downstairs, )better ha#e some of
the prunes for
supper to6ni"ht, 8ust as a compliment to %iss ,hapman)
%rs %ifflin preser#ed a humorous silence
O#er these noncommittal summits the bri"ht eye of the
bookseller, as he
tacked up the freshly ironed muslin curtains %rs %ifflin
had allotted,
could discern a "limpse of the bay and the le#iathan ferries
that link
Staten !sland with ci#ili/ation )Gust a touch of romance in
outlook,) he thou"ht to himself )!t will suffice to keep a
youn" "irl aware of the e(citements of e(istence)
The room, as mi"ht be e(pected in a house presided o#er
by Helen
%ifflin, was in perfect order to recei#e any occupant, but
Ro"er had
#olunteered to psycholo"i/e it in such a fashion as ?he
thou"ht@ would
con#ey fa#ourable influences to the mis"uided youn" spirit
that was to
be its tenant !ncurable idealist, he had taken 7uite "ra#ely
responsibility as landlord and employer of %r ,hapman9s
dau"hter 'o
chambered nautilus was to ha#e better opportunity to
e(pand the tender
mansions of its soul
Beside the bed was a bookshelf with a readin" lamp The
problem Ro"er
was discussin" was what books and pictures mi"ht be the
best preachers
to this con"re"ation of one To %rs %ifflin9s secret
amusement he had
taken down the picture of Sir $alahad which he had once
hun" there,
because ?as he had said@ if Sir $alahad were li#in" to6day
he would be
a bookseller )+e don9t want her feastin" her ima"ination
on youn"
$alahads,) he had remarked at breakfast )That way lies
matrimony +hat ! want to do is put up in her room one or
two "ood
prints representin" actual men who were so deli"htful in
their day that
all the youn" men she is likely to see now will seem tepid
prehensile Thus she will become dis"usted with the
present "eneration
of youths and there will be some chance of her really
puttin" her mind
on the book business)
0ccordin"ly he had spent some time in "oin" throu"h a bin
where he kept
photos and drawin"s of authors that the publishers9
)publicity men)
were always showerin" upon him 0fter some thou"ht he
promisin" en"ra#in"s of Harold Bell +ri"ht and Stephen
Leacock, and
chose pictures of Shelley, 0nthony Trollope, Robert Louis
and Robert Burns Then, after further meditation, he
decided that
neither Shelley nor Burns would 7uite do for a youn" "irl9s
room, and
set them aside in fa#our of a portrait of Samuel Butler To
these he
added a framed te(t that he was #ery fond of and had hun"
o#er his own
desk He had once clipped it from a copy of Life and found
pleasure in it !t runs thus:
LE'T TO 0 &R!E'.
! $!-E humble and hearty thanks for the safe return of this
book which
ha#in" endured the perils of my friend9s bookcase, and the
bookcases of
my friend9s friends, now returns to me in reasonably "ood
! $!-E humble and hearty thanks that my friend did not
see fit to "i#e
this book to his infant as a playthin", nor use it as an ash6
tray for
his burnin" ci"ar, nor as a teethin"6rin" for his mastiff
+HE' ! lent this book ! deemed it as lost: ! was resi"ned
to the
bitterness of the lon" partin": ! ne#er thou"ht to look upon
its pa"es
B;T 'O+ that my book is come back to me, ! re8oice and
am e(ceedin"
"lad< Brin" hither the fatted morocco and let us rebind the
#olume and
set it on the shelf of honour: for this my book was lent, and
returned a"ain
*RESE'TL1, therefore, ! may return some of the books
that ! myself ha#e
)There<) he thou"ht )That will con#ey to her the first
element of
book morality)
These decorations ha#in" been displayed on the walls, he
himself of the books that should stand on the bedside shelf
This is a 7uestion that admits of the utmost nicety of
Some authorities hold that the proper books for a "uest6
room are of a
soporific 7uality that will induce swift and painless repose
school ad#ises The +ealth of 'ations, Rome under the
,aesars, The
Statesman9s 1ear Book, certain no#els of Henry Games, and
The Letters
of Jueen -ictoria ?in three #olumes@ !t is plausibly
contended that
books of this kind cannot be read ?late at ni"ht@ for more
than a few
minutes at a time, and that they afford useful scraps of
0nother branch of opinion recommends for bedtime
readin" short stories,
#olumes of pithy anecdote, swift and sparklin" stuff that
may keep one
awake for a space, yet will ad#anta"e all the sweeter
slumber in the
end E#en "host stories and harrowin" matter are
maintained seasonable
by these pundits This class of readin" comprises O Henry,
Harte, Leonard %errick, 0mbrose Bierce, + + Gacobs,
.audet, de
%aupassant, and possibly e#en On a Slow Train Throu"h
0rkansaw, that
"rie#ous classic of the railway bookstalls whereof its
author, %r
Thomas + Gackson, has said )!t will sell fore#er, and a
thousand years
afterward) To this mi"ht be added another of %r Gackson9s
on the human intelli"ence, !9m &rom Te(as, 1ou ,an9t Steer
%e, whereof
is said ?by the author@ )!t is like a hard6boiled e"", you can9t
it) There are other of %r Gackson9s books, whose titles
memory, whereof he has said )They are a dynamite for
sorrow) 'othin"
used to annoy %ifflin more than to ha#e someone come in
and ask for
copies of these works His brother6in6law, 0ndrew %c$ill,
the writer,
once "a#e him for ,hristmas ?8ust to annoy him@ a copy of
On a Slow
Train Throu"h 0rkansaw sumptuously bound and "ilded in
what is known to
the trade as )do#e6coloured oo/e) Ro"er retorted by
sendin" 0ndrew
?for his ne(t birthday@ two #olumes of Brann the !conoclast
bound in
what Robert ,ortes Holliday calls )embossed toadskin)
But that is
apart from the story
To the consideration of what to put on %iss Titania9s
bookshelf Ro"er
de#oted the deli"hted hours of the mornin" Se#eral times
Helen called
him to come down and attend to the shop, but he was
sittin" on the
floor, unaware of numbed shins, porin" o#er the #olumes
he had carted
upstairs for a final cullin" )!t will be a "reat pri#ile"e,) he
to himself, )to ha#e a youn" mind to e(periment with
'ow my wife,
deli"htful creature thou"h she is, was66well, distinctly
mature when !
had the "ood fortune to meet her= ! ha#e ne#er been able
properly to
super#ise her mental processes But this ,hapman "irl will
come to us
wholly unlettered Her father said she had been to a
school: that surely is a "uarantee that the delicate tendrils
of her
mind ha#e ne#er be"un to sprout ! will test her ?without
her knowin"
it@ by the books ! put here for her By notin" which of them
responds to, ! will know how to proceed !t mi"ht be worth
while to
shut up the shop one day a week in order to "i#e her some
brief talks
on literature .eli"htful< Let me see, a little series of talks
the de#elopment of the En"lish no#el, be"innin" with Tom
that would hardly do< +ell, ! ha#e always lon"ed to be a
teacher, this
looks like a chance to be"in +e mi"ht in#ite some of the
to send in their children once a week, and start a little
,auseries du lundi, in fact< +ho knows ! may yet be the
Sainte Beu#e
of Brooklyn)
0cross his mind flashed a #ision of newspaper
remarkable student of letters, who hides his brilliant parts
under the
unassumin" e(istence of a second6hand bookseller, is now
reco"ni/ed as
)Ro"er<) called %rs %ifflin from downstairs: )&ront<
someone wants to
know if you keep back numbers of &oamy Stories)
0fter he had thrown out the intruder, Ro"er returned to his
)This selection,) he mused, )is of course only tentati#e !t
is to act
as a preliminary test, to see what sort of thin" interests her
of all, her name naturally su""ests Shakespeare and the
!t9s a remarkable name, Titania ,hapman: there must be
"reat #irtue in
prunes< Let9s be"in with a #olume of ,hristopher
%arlowe Then Keats,
! "uess: e#ery youn" person ou"ht to shi#er o#er St
0"nes9 E#e on a
bri"ht cold winter e#enin" O#er Bemerton9s, certainly,
because it9s a
bookshop story Eu"ene &ield9s Tribune *rimer to try out
her sense of
humour 0nd 0rchy, by all means, for the same reason !9ll
"o down
and "et the 0rchy scrapbook)
!t should be e(plained that Ro"er was a keen admirer of
.on %ar7uis,
the humourist of the 'ew 1ork E#enin" Sun %r %ar7uis
once li#ed in
Brooklyn, and the bookseller was ne#er tired of sayin" that
he was the
most eminent author who had "raced the borou"h since the
days of +alt
+hitman 0rchy, the ima"inary cockroach whom %r
%ar7uis uses as a
#ehicle for so much e(cellent fun, was a constant deli"ht to
Ro"er, and
he had kept a scrapbook of all 0rchy9s clippin"s This
bulky tome he
now brou"ht out from the "rotto by his desk where his
treasures were kept He ran his eye o#er it, and %rs
%ifflin heard
him utter shrill screams of lau"hter
)+hat on earth is itA) she asked
)Only 0rchy,) he said, and be"an to read aloud66
down in a wine #ault underneath the city
two old men were sittin" they were drinkin" boo/e
torn were their "arments hair and beards were "ritty
one had an o#ercoat but hardly any shoes
o#erhead the street cars throu"h the streets were runnin"
filled with happy people "oin" home to christmas
in the adirondacks the hunters all were "unnin"
bi" ships were sailin" down by the isthmus
in came a little tot for to kiss her "ranny
such a little totty she could scarcely tottle
sayin" kiss me "randpa kiss your little nanny
but the old man beaned her with a whisky bottle
outside the snowflakes be"an for to flutter
far at sea the ships were sailin" with the seamen
not another word did an"el nanny utter
her "randsire chuckled and pled"ed the whisky demon
up spake the second man he was worn and weary
tears washed his face which otherwise was pasty
she lo#ed 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
brin"in" christmas posies from her mothers "arden
ridin" in the tunnel underneath the hudson
brother was it rum caused your heart to harden6666
)+hat on earth is there funny in thatA) said %rs %ifflin
little lamb, ! think it was terrible)
)There9s more of it,) cried Ro"er, and opened his mouth to
)'o more, thank you,) said Helen )There ou"ht to be a
fine for usin"
the meter of Lo#e in the -alley that way !9m "oin" out to
market so
if the bell rin"s you9ll ha#e to answer it)
Ro"er added the 0rchy scrapbook to %iss Titania9s shelf,
and went on
browsin" o#er the #olumes he had collected
)The 'i""er of the 'arcissus,) he said to himself, )for e#en
if she
doesn9t read the story perhaps she9ll read the preface, which
marble nor the monuments of princes will outli#e
.ickens9 ,hristmas
Stories to introduce her to %rs Lirriper, the 7ueen of
*ublishers tell me that 'orfolk Street, Strand, is best
known for the
famous literary a"ent that has his office there, but ! wonder
how many
of them know that that was where %rs Lirriper had her
lod"in"sA The 'otebooks of Samuel Butler, 8ust to "i#e
her a little
intellectual 8a// The +ron" Bo(, because it9s the best
farce in the
lan"ua"e Tra#els with a .onkey, to show her what "ood
writin" is
like The &our Horsemen of the 0pocalypse to "i#e her a
sense of pity
for human woes66wait a minute, thou"h: that9s a pretty
broad book for
youn" ladies ! "uess we9ll put it aside and see what else
there is
Some of %r %osher9s catalo"ues: fine< they9ll show her
the true
spirit of what one book6lo#er calls biblio6bliss +alkin"6
*apers66yes, there are still "ood essayists runnin" around
0 bound
file of The *ublishers9 +eekly to "i#e her a smack of trade
Go9s Boys in case she needs a little rela(ation The Lays of
Rome and 0ustin .obson to show her some "ood poetry !
wonder if they
"i#e them The Lays to read in school nowadaysA ! ha#e a
horrible fear
they are brou"ht up on the battle of Salamis and the brutal
redcoats of
9LM 0nd now we9ll be e(ceptionally subtle: we9ll stick in a
,hambers to see if she falls for it)
He #iewed the shelf with pride )'ot bad,) he said to
himself )!9ll
8ust add this Leonard %errick, +hispers about +omen, to
amuse her !
bet that title will start her "uessin" Helen will say ! ou"ht
to ha#e
included the Bible, but !9ll omit it on purpose, 8ust to see
the "irl misses it)
+ith 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 ba" of la#ender dispersin" a 7uiet fra"rance in
)-ery nice,) he remarked )-ery nice indeed< 0bout the
only thin"
missin" is an ashtray !f %iss Titania is as modern as some
of them,
that9ll be the first thin" she9ll call for 0nd maybe a copy of
*ound9s poems ! do hope she9s not what Helen calls a
There was nothin" bolshe#ik about a "litterin" limousine
that drew up
at the corner of $issin" and Swinburne streets early that
afternoon 0
chauffeur in "reen li#ery opened the door, lifted out a
suitcase of
beautiful brown leather, and "a#e a respectful hand to the
#ision that
emer"ed from depths of lilac6coloured upholstery
)+here do you want me to carry the ba", missA)
)This is the bitter partin",) replied %iss Titania )! don9t
want you
to know my address, Edwards Some of my mad friends
mi"ht worm it out
of you, and ! don9t want them comin" down and botherin"
me ! am "oin"
to be #ery busy with literature !9ll walk the rest of the
Edwards saluted with a "rin66he worshipped the ori"inal
heiress66and returned to his wheel
)There9s one thin" ! want you to do for me,) said Titania
),all up my
father and tell him !9m on the 8ob)
)1es, miss,) said Edwards, who would ha#e run the
limousine into a
"o#ernment motor truck if she had ordered it
%iss ,hapman9s small "lo#ed hand descended into an
interestin" purse
that was cuffed to her wrist with a bri"ht little chain She
drew out
a nickel66it was characteristic of her that it was a #ery
bri"ht and
en"a"in" lookin" nickel66and handed it "ra#ely to her
E7ually "ra#ely he saluted, and the car, after mo#in"
throu"h certain
di"nified arcs, swam swiftly away down Thackeray
Titania, after makin" sure that Edwards was out of si"ht,
turned up
$issin" Street with a fluent pace and an obser#ant eye 0
small boy
cried, ),arry your ba", ladyA) and she was about to a"ree,
but then
remembered that she was now en"a"ed at ten dollars a
week and wa#ed him
away Our readers would feel a 8ustifiable "rud"e if we did
attempt a description of the youn" lady, and we will
employ the few
blocks of her course alon" $issin" Street for this purpose
+alkin" behind her, the obser#er, by the time she had
reached ,lemens
*lace, would ha#e seen that she was faultlessly tailored in
tweeds= that her small brown boots were sheltered by spats
of that pale
tan comple(ion e(hibited by *ullman porters on the
Railroad= that her person was both slender and #i"orous=
that her
shoulders were carryin" a sumptuous fur of the colour
described by the
trade as nutria, or possibly opal smoke The word
chinchilla would
ha#e occurred irresistibly to this obser#er from behind= he
mi"ht also,
if he were the father of a family, ha#e had a fleetin" #ision
of many
auto"raphed stubs in a check book The "eneral impression
that he
would ha#e retained, had he turned aside at ,lemens *lace,
would be
)e(pensi#e, but worth the e(pense)
!t is more likely, howe#er, that the student of phenomena
would ha#e
continued alon" $issin" Street to the ne(t corner, bein"
that of
Ha/litt Street Takin" ad#anta"e of opportunity, he would
o#ertake the
lady on the pa#ement, with a secret, sidelon" "lance !f he
were wise,
he would pass her on the ri"ht side where her tilted bonnet
permitted a
wider an"le of #ision He would catch a "limpse of cheek
and chin
belon"in" to the cate"ory known ?and ri"htly@ as adorable=
hair that
held sunli"ht throu"h the dullest day= e#en a small platinum
watch that mi"ht pardonably be e(cused, in its e(hilaratin"
career, for
beatin" a trifle fast 0mon" the "reyish furs he would note
a bunch of
such #iolets as ne#er bloom in the crude sprin"time, but
themsel#es for 'o#ember and the plate "lass windows of
&ifth 0#enue
!t is probable that whate#er the errand of this spectator he
would ha#e
continued alon" $issin" Street a few paces farther Then,
calculated innocence, he would ha#e halted halfway up the
block that
leads to the +ordsworth 0#enue )L,) and looked backward
with carefully
simulated irresolution, as thou"h considerin" some
for"otten matter
+ith apparently unseein" eyes he would ha#e scanned the
pedestrian, and cau"ht the full impact of her rich blue "a/e
He would
ha#e seen a small resolute face rather #i#acious in effect,
yet with a
7uaint pathos of youth and ea"erness He would ha#e
noted the cheeks
lit with e(citement and rapid mo#ement in the bracin" air
He would
certainly ha#e noted the delicate contrast of the fur of the
nutria with the soft - of her bare throat Then, to his
surprise, he
would ha#e seen this attracti#e person stop, e(amine her
and run down some steps into a rather din"y6lookin"
bookshop He would ha#e "one about his affairs with a
new and
surprised con#iction that the 0lmi"hty had the borou"h of
under His especial care
Ro"er, who had concei#ed a notion of some rather pee#ish
foundlin" of
the Rit/6,arlton lobbies and ,entral *ark ridin" academies,
a"reeably ama/ed by the sweet simplicity of the youn"
)!s this %r %ifflinA) she said, as he ad#anced all a"o"
from his smoky
)%iss ,hapmanA) he replied, takin" her ba" )Helen<) he
called )%iss
Titania is here)
She looked about the sombre alco#es of the shop )! do
think it9s
adorable of you to take me in,) she said ).ad has told me
so much
about you He says !9m impossible ! suppose this is the
he talks about ! want to know all about it)
)0nd here9s Bock<) she cried ).ad says he9s the "reatest
do" in the
world, named after Botticelli or somebody !9#e brou"ht
him a present
!t9s in my ba" 'ice old Bocky<)
Bock, who was unaccustomed to spats, was e(aminin"
them after his own
)+ell, my dear,) said %rs %ifflin )+e are deli"hted to
see you !
hope you9ll be happy with us, but ! rather doubt it %r
%ifflin is a
hard man to "et alon" with)
)Oh, !9m sure of it<) cried Titania )! mean, !9m sure ! shall
happy< 1ou mustn9t belie#e a word of what .ad says about
me !9m
cra/y about books ! don9t see how you can bear to sell
them !
brou"ht these #iolets for you, %rs %ifflin)
)How perfectly sweet of you,) said Helen, capti#ated
already ),ome
alon", we9ll put them ri"ht in water !9ll show you your
Ro"er heard them mo#in" about o#erhead !t suddenly
occurred to him
that the shop was rather a din"y place for a youn" "irl )!
wish ! had
thou"ht to "et in a cash re"ister,) he mused )She9ll think
terribly unbusiness6like)
)'ow,) said %rs %ifflin, as she and Titania came
downstairs a"ain,
)!9m makin" some pastry, so !9m "oin" to turn you o#er to
employer He can show you round the shop and tell you
where all the
books are)
)Before we be"in,) said Titania, )8ust let me "i#e Bock his
She showed a lar"e packa"e of tissue paper and, unwindin"
layers, finally disclosed a stalwart bone )! was lunchin" at
Sherry9s, and ! made the head waiter "i#e me this He was
),ome alon" into the kitchen and "i#e it to him,) said
Helen )He9ll
be your friend for life)
)+hat an adorable kennel<) cried Titania, when she saw the
packin"6case that ser#ed Bock as a retreat The
bookseller9s in"enious
carpentry had built it into the similitude of a ,arne"ie
library, with
the si"n RE0.!'$6ROO% o#er the door= and he had
painted imitation
book6shel#es alon" the interior
)1ou9ll "et used to %r %ifflin after a while,) said Helen
)He spent all one winter "ettin" that kennel fi(ed to his
likin" 1ou
mi"ht ha#e thou"ht he was "oin" to li#e in it instead of
Bock 0ll the
titles that he painted in there are books that ha#e do"s in
them, and a
lot of them he made up)
Titania insisted on "ettin" down to peer inside Bock was
flattered at this attention from the new planet that had
swum into his
)$racious<) she said, )here9s 9The Rubaiyat of Omar
,anine9 ! do think
that9s cle#er<)
)Oh, there are a lot more,) said Helen )The works of
Bonar Law, and
Bohn9s 9,lassics,9 and 9,atechisms on .o"ma9 and "oodness
knows what
!f Ro"er paid half as much attention to business as he does
to 8okes of
that sort, we9d be rich 'ow, you run alon" and ha#e a look
at the
Titania found the bookseller at his desk )Here ! am, %r
she said )See, ! brou"ht a nice sharp pencil alon" with me
to make
out sales slips !9#e been practicin" stickin" it in my hair !
do it 7uite nicely now ! hope you ha#e some of those bi"
red books
with all the carbon paper in them and e#erythin" !9#e been
the "irls up at Lord and Taylor9s make them out, and ! think
fascinatin" 0nd you must teach me to run the ele#ator
!9m awfully
keen about ele#ators)
)Bless me,) said Ro"er, )1ou9ll find this #ery different from
Lord and
Taylor9s< +e ha#en9t any ele#ators, or any sales slips, or
e#en a cash
re"ister +e don9t wait on customers unless they ask us to
They come
in and browse round, and if they find anythin" they want
they come back
here to my desk and ask about it The price is marked in
e#ery book in
red pencil The cash6bo( is here on this shelf This is the
han"in" on this little hook ! enter each sale in this led"er
you sell a book you must write it down here, and the price
paid for it)
)But suppose it9s char"edA) said Titania
)'o char"e accounts E#erythin" is cash !f someone
comes in to sell
books, you must refer him to me 1ou mustn9t be surprised
to see
people drop in here and spend se#eral hours readin" Lots
of them look
on this as a kind of club ! hope you don9t mind the smell
of tobacco,
for almost all the men that come here smoke in the shop
1ou see, !
put ash trays around for them)
)! lo#e tobacco smell,) said Titania ).addy9s library at
home smells
somethin" like this, but not 7uite so stron" 0nd ! want to
see the
worms, bookworms you know .addy said you had lots of
)1ou9ll see them, all ri"ht,) said Ro"er, chucklin" )They
come in and
out To6morrow !9ll show you how my stock is arran"ed
!t9ll take you
7uite a while to "et familiar with it ;ntil then ! 8ust want
you to
poke around and see what there is, until you know the
shel#es so well
you could put your hand on any "i#en book in the dark
That9s a "ame
my wife and ! used to play +e would turn off all the li"hts
at ni"ht,
and ! would call out the title of a book and see how near
she could
come to findin" it Then ! would take a turn +hen we
came more than
si( inches away from it we would ha#e to pay a forfeit !t9s
)+hat larks we9ll ha#e,) cried Titania )! do think this is a
)This is the bulletin board, where ! put up notices about
books that
interest me Here9s a card !9#e 8ust been writin")
Ro"er drew from his pocket a s7uare of cardboard and
affi(ed it to the
board with a thumbtack Titania read:
'ow that the fi"htin" is o#er is a "ood time to read Thomas
Hardy9s The
.ynasts ! don9t want to sell it, because it is one of the
treasures ! own But if any one will "uarantee to read all
#olumes, and let them sink into his mind, !9m willin" to
lend them
!f enou"h thou"htful $ermans had read The .ynasts before
Guly, 454B,
there would ha#e been no war
!f e#ery dele"ate to the *eace ,onference could be made to
read it
before the sessions be"in, there will be no more wars
R %!&&L!'
).ear me,) said Titania, )!s it so "ood as all thatA *erhaps
better read it)
)!t is so "ood that if ! knew any way of doin" so !9d insist
on %r
+ilson readin" it on his #oya"e to &rance ! wish ! could
"et it onto
his ship %y, what a book< !t makes one positi#ely ill with
pity and
terror Sometimes ! wake up at ni"ht and look out of the
window and
ima"ine ! hear Hardy lau"hin" ! "et him a little mi(ed up
with the
.eity, ! fear But he9s a bit too hard for you to tackle)
Titania was pu//led, and said nothin" But her busy mind
made a note
of its own: Hardy, hard to read, makes one ill, try it
)+hat did you think of the books ! put in your roomA) said
Ro"er He
had #owed to wait until she made some comment
unsolicited, but he could
not restrain himself
)!n my roomA) she said )+hy, !9m sorry, ! ne#er noticed
,hapter !-
The .isappearin" -olume
)+ell, my dear,) said Ro"er after supper that e#enin", )!
think perhaps
we had better introduce %iss Titania to our custom of
readin" aloud)
)*erhaps it would bore herA) said Helen )1ou know it isn9t
that likes bein" read to)
)Oh, ! should lo#e it<) e(claimed Titania )! don9t think
anybody e#er
read to me, that is not since ! was a child)
)Suppose we lea#e you to look after the shop,) said Helen
to Ro"er, in
a teasin" mood, )and !9ll take Titania out to the mo#ies !
Tar/an is still runnin")
+hate#er pri#ate impulses %iss ,hapman may ha#e felt,
she saw by the
bookseller9s downcast face that a #isit to Tar/an would
break his
heart, and she was prompt to disclaim any taste for the
screen classic
).ear me,) she said= )Tar/an66that9s all that nature stuff by
Burrou"hs= isn9t itA Oh, %rs %ifflin, ! think it would be
tedious Let9s ha#e %r %ifflin read to us !9ll "et down my
)1ou mustn9t mind bein" interrupted,) said Helen )+hen
anybody rin"s
the bell Ro"er has to run out and tend the shop)
)1ou must let me do it,) said Titania )! want to earn my
wa"es, you
)0ll ri"ht,) said %rs %ifflin= )Ro"er, you settle %iss
,hapman in the
den and "i#e her somethin" to look at while we do the
But Ro"er was all on fire to be"in the readin" )+hy don9t
we postpone
the dishes,) he said, )8ust to celebrateA)
)Let me help,) insisted Titania )! should think washin" up
would be
"reat fun)
)'o, no, not on your first e#enin",) said Helen )%r
%ifflin and !
will finish them in a 8iffy)
So Ro"er poked up the coal fire in the den, disposed the
chairs, and
"a#e Titania a copy of Sartor Resartus to look at He then
into the kitchen with his wife, whence Titania heard the
cheerful clank
of crockery in a dishpan and the splashin" of hot water
)The best
thin" about washin" up,) she heard Ro"er say, )is that it
makes one9s
hands so clean, a no#el sensation for a second6hand
She "a#e Sartor Resartus what is "raphically described as a
o#er,) and then seein" the mornin" Times lyin" on the
table, picked it
up, as she had not read it Her eye fell upon the column
LOST 0'. &O;'.
&ifty cents an a"ate line
and as she had recently lost a little pearl brooch, she ran
throu"h it She chuckled a little o#er
LOST66Hotel !mperial la#atory, set of teeth ,all or
Steel, 4EB East BE St Reward, no 7uestions asked
Then she saw this:
LOST66,opy of Thomas ,arlyle9s )Oli#er ,romwell,)
between $issin"
Street, Brooklyn, and the Octa"on Hotel !f found before
Tuesday, .ec E, return to assistant chef, Octa"on Hotel
)+hy) she e(claimed, )$issin" Street66that9s here< 0nd
what a funny
kind of book for an assistant chef to read 'o wonder their
ha#e been so bad lately<)
+hen Ro"er and Helen re8oined her in the den a few
minutes later she
showed the bookseller the ad#ertisement He was #ery
much e(cited
)That9s a funny thin",) he said )There9s somethin" 7ueer
about that
book .id ! tell you about itA Last Tuesday66! know it was
because it was the e#enin" youn" $ilbert was here66a man
with a beard
came in askin" for it, and it wasn9t on the shelf Then the
ni"ht, +ednesday, ! was up #ery late writin", and fell
asleep at my
desk ! must ha#e left the front door a8ar, because ! was
waked up by
the drau"ht, and when ! went to close the door ! saw the
book stickin"
out a little beyond the others, in its usual place 0nd last
when the ,orn ,obs were here, ! went out to look up a
7uotation in it,
and it was "one a"ain)
)*erhaps the assistant chef stole itA) said Titania
)But if so, why the deuce would he ad#ertise ha#in" done
soA) asked
)+ell, if he did steal it,) said Helen, )! wish him 8oy of it !
to read it once, you talked so much about it, and ! found it
)!f he did steal it,) cried the bookseller, )!9m perfectly
!t shows that my contention is ri"ht: people .O really care
for "ood
books !f an assistant chef is so fond of "ood books that he
has to
steal them, the world is safe for democracy ;sually the
only books
any one wants to steal are sheer piffle, like %akin" Life
+orth +hile
by .ou"las &airbanks or %other Shipton9s Book of
Oracles ! don9t mind
a man stealin" books if he steals "ood ones<)
)1ou see the remarkable principles that "o#ern this
business,) said
Helen to Titania They sat down by the fire and took up
their knittin"
while the bookseller ran out to see if the #olume had by any
returned to his shel#es
)!s it thereA) said Helen, when he came back
)'o,) said Ro"er, and picked up the ad#ertisement a"ain
)! wonder why
he wants it returned before midni"ht on TuesdayA)
)So he can read it in bed, ! "uess,) said Helen )*erhaps he
from insomnia)
)!t9s a darn shame he lost it before he had a chance to read
it !9d
like to ha#e known what he thou"ht of it !9#e "ot a "reat
mind to "o
up and call on him)
),har"e it off to profit and loss and for"et about it,) said
)How about that readin" aloudA)
Ro"er ran his eye alon" his pri#ate shel#es, and pulled
down a
well6worn #olume
)'ow that Thanks"i#in" is past,) he said, )my mind always
turns to
,hristmas, and ,hristmas means ,harles .ickens %y
dear, would it bore
you if we had a "o at the old ,hristmas StoriesA)
%rs %ifflin held up her hands in mock dismay )He reads
them to me
e#ery year at this time,) she said to Titania )Still, they9re
it ! know "ood old %rs Lirriper better than ! do most of
my friends)
)+hat is it, the ,hristmas ,arolA) said Titania )+e had to
read that
in school)
)'o,) said Ro"er= )the other stories, infinitely better
"ets the ,arol dinned into them until they9re weary of it, but
no one
nowadays seems to read the others ! tell you, ,hristmas
wouldn9t be
,hristmas to me if ! didn9t read these tales o#er a"ain e#ery
How homesick they make one for the "ood old days of real
inns and real
beefsteak and real ale drawn in pewter %y dears,
sometimes when ! am
readin" .ickens ! "et a #ision of rare sirloin with floury
potatoes and plenty of horse6radish, set on a shinin" cloth
not far
from a bla/e of En"lish coal6666)
)He9s an incorri"ible #isionary,) said %rs %ifflin )To
hear him talk
you mi"ht think no one had had a s7uare meal since
.ickens died 1ou
mi"ht think that all landladies died with %rs Lirriper)
)-ery un"rateful of him,) said Titania )!9m sure ! couldn9t
ask for
better potatoes, or a nicer hostess, than !9#e found in
)+ell, well,) said Ro"er )1ou are ri"ht, of course 0nd
somethin" went out of the world when -ictorian En"land
somethin" that will ne#er come a"ain Take the sta"ecoach
dri#ers, for
instance +hat a racy, human type they were< 0nd what
ha#e we now to
compare with themA Subway "uardsA Ta(icab dri#ersA !
ha#e hun"
around many an all6ni"ht lunchroom to hear the chauffeurs
talk But
they are too much on the mo#e, you can9t "et the picture of
them the
way .ickens could of his types 1ou can9t catch that sort of
thin" in
a snapshot, you know: you ha#e to ha#e a time e(posure
!9ll "rant
you, thou"h, that lunchroom food is mi"hty "ood The best
place to eat
is always a counter where the chauffeurs con"re"ate They
"et awfully
hun"ry, you see, dri#in" round in the cold, and when they
want food
they want it hot and tasty There9s a little hash6alley called
&rank9s, up on Broadway near LLth, where ! "uess the ham
and e""s and
&rench fried is as "ood as any %r *ickwick e#er ate)
)! must "et Edwards to take me there,) said Titania
)Edwards is our
chauffeur !9#e been to the 0nsonia for tea, that9s near
)Better keep away,) said Helen )+hen Ro"er comes home
from those
places he smells so stron" of onions it brin"s tears to my
)+e9#e 8ust been talkin" about an assistant chef,) said
Ro"er= )that
su""ests that ! read you Somebody9s Lu""a"e, which is all
about a head
waiter ! ha#e often wished ! could "et a 8ob as a waiter or
a bus
boy, 8ust to learn if there really are any such head waiters
1ou know there are all sorts of 8obs !9d like to ha#e, 8ust to
my knowled"e of human nature and find out whether life is
really as
"ood as literature !9d lo#e to be a waiter, a barber, a
)Ro"er, my dear,) said Helen, )why don9t you "et on with
the readin"A)
Ro"er knocked out his pipe, turned Bock out of his chair,
and sat down
with infinite relish to read the memorable character sketch
,hristopher, the head waiter, which is dear to e#ery lo#er of
)The writer of these humble lines bein" a +aiter,) he
be"an The
knittin" needles flashed with dili"ence, and the do" by the
stretched himself out in the lu(uriant #acancy of mind only
known to
do"s surrounded by a happy "roup of their friends 0nd
Ro"er, en8oyin"
himself enormously, and particularly pleased by the
chuckles of his
audience, was approachin" the e#er6deli"htful items of the
bill which is to be found about ten pa"es on in the first
sad it is that hotel bills are not so rendered in these times66
when the
bell in the shop clan"ed *ickin" up his pipe and
matchbo(, and
"rumblin" )!t9s always the way,) he hurried out of the
He was a"reeably surprised to find that his caller was the
ad#ertisin" man, 0ubrey $ilbert
)Hullo<) he said )!9#e been sa#in" somethin" for you !t9s
7uotation from Goseph ,onrad about ad#ertisin")
)$ood enou"h,) said 0ubrey )0nd !9#e "ot somethin" for
you 1ou were
so nice to me the other e#enin" ! took the liberty of
brin"in" you
round some tobacco Here9s a tin of Blue6Eyed %i(ture,
it9s my
fa#ourite ! hope you9ll like it)
)Bully for you *erhaps ! ou"ht to let you off the ,onrad
since you9re so kind)
)'ot a bit ! suppose it9s a knock Shoot<) The bookseller
led the
way back to his desk, where he rumma"ed amon" the litter
and finally
found a scrap of paper on which he had written:
Bein" myself animated by feelin"s of affection toward my
fellowmen, !
am saddened by the modern system of ad#ertisin"
+hate#er e#idence it
offers of enterprise, in"enuity, impudence, and resource in
indi#iduals, it pro#es to my mind the wide pre#alence of
that form of
mental de"radation which is called "ullibility
)+hat do you think of thatA) said Ro"er )1ou9ll find that
in the
story called The 0narchist)
)! think less than nothin" of it,) said 0ubrey )0s your
friend .on
%ar7uis obser#ed the other e#enin", an idea isn9t always to
be blamed
for the people who belie#e in it %r ,onrad has been
readin" some
7uack ads, that9s all Because there are fake ads, that
condemn the principle of *ublicity But look here, what !
really came
round to see you for is to show you this !t was in the
Times this
He pulled out of his pocket a clippin" of the LOST
insertion to which
Ro"er9s attention had already been drawn
)1es, !9#e 8ust seen it,) said Ro"er )! missed the book from
shel#es, and ! belie#e someone must ha#e stolen it)
)+ell, now, ! want to tell you somethin",) said 0ubrey
)To6ni"ht !
had dinner at the Octa"on with %r ,hapman) )!s that
soA) said Ro"er
)1ou know his dau"hter9s here now)
)So he told me !t9s rather interestin" how it all works out
see, after you told me the other day that %iss ,hapman was
comin" to
work for you, that "a#e me an idea ! knew her father
would be
specially interested in Brooklyn, on that account, and it
su""ested to
me an idea for a window6display campai"n here in
Brooklyn for the
.aintybits *roducts 1ou know we handle all his sales
campai"ns Of course ! didn9t let on that ! knew about his
comin" o#er here, but he told me about it himself in the
course of our
talk +ell, here9s what !9m "ettin" at +e had dinner in the
,/echo6Slo#ak $rill, up on the fourteenth floor, and "oin"
up in the
ele#ator ! saw a man in a chef9s uniform carryin" a book !
o#er his shoulder to see what it was ! thou"ht of course it
would be
a cook6book !t was a copy of Oli#er ,romwell)
)So he found it a"ain, ehA ! must "o and ha#e a talk with
that chap
!f he9s a ,arlyle fan !9d like to know him)
)+ait a minute ! had seen the LOST ad in the paper this
because ! always look o#er that column Often it "i#es me
ideas for
ad#ertisin" stunts !f you keep an eye on the thin"s people
an(ious to "et back, you know what they really pri/e, and if
you know
what they pri/e you can "et a line on what "oods ou"ht to
be ad#ertised
more e(tensi#ely This was the first time ! had e#er noticed
a LOST ad
for a book, so ! thou"ht to myself )the book business is
comin" up)
+ell, when ! saw the chef with the book in his hand, ! said
to him
8okin"ly, )! see you found it a"ain) He was a forei"n6
lookin" fellow,
with a bi" beard, which is unusual for a chef, because !
suppose it9s
likely to "et in the soup He looked at me as thou"h !9d run
a car#in"
knife into him, almost scared me the way he looked )1es,
yes,) he
said, and sho#ed the book out of si"ht under his arm He
seemed half
an"ry and half fri"htened, so ! thou"ht maybe he had no
ri"ht to be
ridin" in the passen"er ele#ator and was scared someone
would report
him to the mana"er Gust as we were "ettin" to the
fourteenth floor !
said to him in a whisper, )!t9s all ri"ht, old chap, !9m not
"oin" to
report you) ! "i#e you my word he looked more scared
than before He
went 7uite white ! "ot off at the fourteenth, and he
followed me out
! thou"ht he was "oin" to speak to me, but %r ,hapman
was there in the
lobby, and he didn9t ha#e a chance But ! noticed that he
watched me
into the "rill room as thou"h ! was his last chance of
)! "uess the poor de#il was scared you9d report him to the
police for
stealin" the book,) said Ro"er )'e#er mind, let him ha#e
).id he steal itA)
)! ha#en9t a notion But somebody did, because it
disappeared from
)+ell, now, wait a minute Here9s the 7ueer part of it !
think anythin" more about it, e(cept that it was a funny
coincidence my
seein" him after ha#in" noticed that ad in the paper ! had a
talk with %r ,hapman, and we discussed some plans for a
prune and
Sarato"a chip campai"n, and ! showed him some su""ested
copy ! had
prepared Then he told me about his dau"hter, and ! let on
that ! knew
you ! left the Octa"on about ei"ht o9clock, and ! thou"ht
!9d run
o#er here on the subway 8ust to show you the LOST notice
and "i#e you
this tobacco 0nd when ! "ot off the subway at 0tlantic
0#enue, who
should ! see but friend chef a"ain He "ot off the same
train ! did
He had on ci#ilian clothes then, of course, and when he was
out of his
white uniform and pancake hat ! reco"ni/ed him ri"ht off
+ho do you
suppose it wasA)
),an9t ima"ine,) said Ro"er, hi"hly interested by this time
)+hy, the professor6lookin" "uy who came in to ask for the
book the
first ni"ht ! was here)
)Humph< +ell, he must be keen about ,arlyle, because he
was horribly
disappointed that e#enin" when he asked for the book and !
find it ! remember how he insisted that ! %;ST ha#e it,
and ! hunted
all throu"h the History shel#es to make sure it hadn9t "ot
He said that some friend of his had seen it here, and he had
come ri"ht
round to buy it ! told him he could certainly "et a copy at
*ublic Library, and he said that wouldn9t do at all)
)+ell, ! think he9s nuts,) said 0ubrey, )because !9m damn
sure he
followed me down the street after ! left the subway !
stopped in at
the dru" store on the corner to "et some matches, and when
! came out,
there he was underneath the lamp6post)
)!f it was a modern author, instead of ,arlyle,) said Ro"er,
)!9d say
it was some publicity stunt pulled off by the publishers
1ou know
they "o to all manner of 7ueer dod"es to "et an author9s
name in print
But ,arlyle9s copyri"hts e(pired lon" a"o, so ! don9t see the
)! "uess he9s picketin" your place to try and steal the
formula for
e""s Samuel Butler,) said 0ubrey, and they both lau"hed
)1ou9d better come in and meet my wife and %iss
,hapman,) said Ro"er
The youn" man made some feeble demur, but it was
ob#ious to the
bookseller that he was #astly elated at the idea of makin"
,hapman9s ac7uaintance
)Here9s a friend of mine,) said Ro"er, usherin" 0ubrey into
the little
room where Helen and Titania were still sittin" by the fire
%ifflin, %r 0ubrey $ilbert, %iss ,hapman, %r $ilbert)
0ubrey was #a"uely aware of the rows of books, of the
shinin" coals, of
the bu(om hostess and the friendly terrier= but with the
intense focus
of an intelli"ent youn" male mind these were all merely
to the con"enial spectacle of the employee How 7uickly a
youn" man9s
senses assemble and assimilate the data that are really
+ithout seemin" e#en to look in that direction he had
performed the
most ama/in" feat of li"htnin" calculation known to the
faculties He had added up all the youn" ladies of his
and found the sum total less than the "irl before him He
subtracted the new phenomenon from the uni#erse as he
knew it,
includin" the solar system and the ad#ertisin" business, and
found the
remainder a minus 7uantity He had multiplied the contents
of his
intellect by a factor he had no reason to assume )constant,)
and was
startled at what teachers call ?! belie#e@ the )product) 0nd
he had
di#ided what was in the left6hand armchair into his own
career, and
found no room for a 7uotient 0ll of which transpired in
the len"th of
time necessary for Ro"er to push forward another chair
+ith the politeness desirable in a well6bred youth, 0ubrey9s
instinct was to make himself s7uare with the hostess
Resolutely he
occluded blue eyes, silk shirtwaist, and admirable chin
from his mental
)!t9s awfully "ood of you to let me come in,) he said to
%rs %ifflin
)! was here the other e#enin" and %r %ifflin insisted on
my stayin" to
supper with him)
)!9m #ery "lad to see you,) said Helen )Ro"er told me
about you !
hope he didn9t poison you with any of his outlandish dishes
+ait till
he tries you with brandied peaches a la Harold Bell
0ubrey uttered some "enial reassurance, still makin" the
sacrifice of keepin" his eyes away from where ?he felt@ they
)%r $ilbert has 8ust had a 7ueer e(perience,) said Ro"er
)Tell them
about it)
!n the most reckless way, 0ubrey permitted himself to be
impaled upon a
direct and interested flash of blue li"htnin" )! was ha#in"
with your father at the Octa"on)
The hi"h tension #olta"e of that bri"ht blue current felt like
sweet ohm, but 0ubrey dared not risk too much of it at
once &earin"
to blow out a fuse, he turned in panic to %rs %ifflin )1ou
see,) he
e(plained, )! write a "ood deal of %r ,hapman9s
ad#ertisin" for him
+e had an appointment to discuss some business matters
+e9re plannin"
a bi" barra"e on prunes)
).ad works much too hard, don9t you thinkA) said Titania
0ubrey welcomed this as a pleasant a#enue of discussion
leadin" into
the parkland of %iss ,hapman9s family affairs= but Ro"er
insisted on
his tellin" the story of the chef and the copy of ,romwell
)0nd he followed you hereA) e(claimed Titania )+hat
fun< ! had no
idea the book business was so e(citin")
)Better lock the door to6ni"ht, Ro"er,) said %rs %ifflin,
)or he may
walk off with a set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica)
)+hy, my dear,) said Ro"er, )! think this is "rand news
Here9s a man,
in a humble walk of life, so keen about "ood books that he
e#en pickets
a bookstore on the chance of swipin" some !t9s the most
thin" !9#e e#er heard of ! must write to the *ublishers9
+eekly about
)+ell,) said 0ubrey, )you mustn9t let me interrupt your
little party)
)1ou9re not interruptin",) said Ro"er )+e were only
readin" aloud
.o you know .ickens9 ,hristmas StoriesA)
)!9m afraid ! don9t)
)Suppose we "o on readin", shall weA)
)*lease do)
)1es, do "o on,) said Titania )%r %ifflin was 8ust readin"
about a
most adorable head waiter in a London chop house)
0ubrey be""ed permission to li"ht his pipe, and Ro"er
picked up the
book )But before we read the items of the coffee6room
bill,) he said,
)! think it only ri"ht that we should ha#e a little
refreshment This
passa"e should ne#er be read without somethin" to
accompany it %y
dear, what do you say to a "lass of sherry all roundA)
)!t is sad to ha#e to confess it,) said %rs %ifflin to Titania,
%ifflin can ne#er read .ickens without ha#in" somethin"
to drink !
think the sale of .ickens will fall off terribly when
prohibition comes
)! once took the trouble to compile a list of the amount of
drunk in .ickens9 works,) said Ro"er, )and ! assure you the
total was
astoundin": L,DDD ho"sheads, ! belie#e it was
,alculations of that
sort are "reat fun ! ha#e always intended to write a little
essay on
the rainstorms in the stories of Robert Louis Ste#enson
1ou see R L
S was a Scot, and well ac7uainted with wet weather
E(cuse me a
moment, !9ll 8ust run down cellar and "et up a bottle)
Ro"er left the room, and they heard his steps passin" down
into the
cellar Bock, after the manner of do"s, followed him The
smells of
cellars are a rare treat to do"s, especially ancient Brooklyn
which ha#e a cachet all their own The cellar of the
Haunted Bookshop
was, to Bock, a fascinatin" place, illuminated by a warm
"low from the
furnace, and piled hi"h with split packin"6cases which
Ro"er used as
kindlin" &rom below came the rasp of a sho#el amon"
coal, and the
clear, musical slither as the lumps were thrown from the
iron scoop
onto the fire Gust then the bell ran" in the shop
)Let me "o,) said Titania, 8umpin" up
),an9t !A) said 0ubrey
)'onsense<) said %rs %ifflin, layin" down her knittin"
)'either of
you knows anythin" about the stock Sit down and be
comfortable !9ll
be ri"ht back)
0ubrey and Titania looked at each other with a touch of
)1our father sent you his66his kind re"ards,) said 0ubrey
That was
not what he had intended to say, but somehow he could not
utter the
word )He said not to read all the books at once)
Titania lau"hed )How funny that you should run into him
8ust when you
were comin" here He9s a duck, isn9t heA)
)+ell, you see ! only know him in a business way, but he
certainly is a
corker He belie#es in ad#ertisin", too)
)0re you cra/y about booksA)
)+hy, ! ne#er really had #ery much to do with them !9m
afraid you9ll
think !9m terribly i"norant6666)
)'ot at all !9m awfully "lad to meet someone who doesn9t
think it9s a
crime not to ha#e read all the books there are)
)This is a 7ueer kind of place, isn9t itA)
)1es, it9s a funny idea to call it the Haunted Bookshop !
wonder what
it means)
)%r %ifflin told me it meant haunted by the "hosts of "reat
literature ! hope they won9t annoy you The "host of
Thomas ,arlyle
seems to be pretty acti#e)
)!9m not afraid of "hosts,) said Titania
0ubrey "a/ed at the fire He wanted to say that he intended
from now
on to do a little hauntin" on his own account but he did not
know 8ust
how to break it "ently 0nd then Ro"er returned from the
cellar with
the bottle of sherry 0s he was uncorkin" it, they heard the
shop door
close, and %rs %ifflin came in
)+ell, Ro"er,) she said= )if you think so much of your old
you9d better keep it in here Here it is) She laid the book
on the
)&or the lo#e of %ike<) e(claimed Ro"er )+ho brou"ht it
)! "uess it was your friend the assistant chef,) said %rs
)0nyway, he had a beard like a ,hristmas tree He was
mi"hty polite
He said he was terribly absent minded, and that the other
day he was in
here lookin" at some books and 8ust walked off with it
without knowin"
what he was doin" He offered to pay for the trouble he
had caused,
but of course ! wouldn9t let him ! asked if he wanted to see
you, but
he said he was in a hurry)
)!9m almost disappointed,) said Ro"er )! thou"ht that ! had
turned up
a real booklo#er Here we are, all hands drink the health of
Thomas ,arlyle)
The toast was drunk, and they settled themsel#es in their
)0nd here9s to the new employee,) said Helen This also
dispatched, 0ubrey drainin" his "lass with a /eal which did
not escape
%iss ,hapman9s discernin" eye Ro"er then put out his
hand for the
.ickens But first he picked up his belo#ed ,romwell He
looked at it
carefully, and then held the #olume close to the li"ht
)The mystery9s not o#er yet,) he said )!t9s been rebound
This isn9t
the ori"inal bindin")
)0re you sureA) said Helen in surprise )!t looks the same)
)The bindin" has been cle#erly imitated, but it can9t fool
me !n the
first place, there was a rubbed corner at the top= and there
was an ink
stain on one of the end papers)
)There9s still a stain there,) said 0ubrey, lookin" o#er his
)1es, but not the same stain !9#e had that book lon"
enou"h to know
it by heart 'ow what the deuce would that lunatic want to
ha#e it
rebound forA)
)$oodness "racious,) said Helen, )put it away and for"et
about it
+e9ll all be dreamin" about ,arlyle if you9re not careful)
,hapter -
0ubrey +alks *art +ay Home66and Rides The Rest of the
!t was a cold, clear ni"ht as %r 0ubrey $ilbert left the
Bookshop that e#enin", and set out to walk homeward
+ithout makin" a
#ery conscious choice, he felt instincti#ely that it would be
to walk back to %anhattan rather than permit the roarin"
disillusion of
the subway to break in upon his meditations
!t is to be feared that 0ubrey would ha#e badly flunked any
7ui//in" on
the chapters of Somebody9s Lu""a"e which the bookseller
had read aloud
His mind was swimmin" rapidly in the a"reeable,
unfettered fashion of a
stream ripplin" downhill 0s O Henry puts it in one of his
deli"htful stories: )He was outwardly decent and mana"ed
to preser#e
his a7uarium, but inside he was impromptu and full of
To say that he was thinkin" of %iss ,hapman would imply
too much power
of ratiocination and abstract scrutiny on his part He was
thinkin": he was bein" thou"ht .own the accustomed
channels of his
intellect he felt his mind ebbin" with the irresistible
mo#ement of
tides drawn by the blandishin" moon 0nd across these
estuaries of impulse his will, a lost and naked athlete, was
attemptin" to swim, but makin" much leeway and already
almost resi"ned
to bein" carried out to sea
He stopped a moment at +eintraub9s dru" store, on the
corner of $issin"
Street and +ordsworth 0#enue, to buy some ci"arettes,
unfailin" solace
of an a"itated bosom
!t was the usual old6fashioned pharmacy of those parts of
tall red, "reen, and blue #ases of li7uid in the windows
threw blotches
of coloured li"ht onto the pa#ement= on the panes was
affi(ed white
china letterin": H +E TR0;B, .E;T ,HE
0*OTHEKER !nside, the
customary shel#es of labelled 8ars, "lass cases holdin"
nostrums and toilet knick6knacks, and in one corner an
re#ol#in" bookcase deposited lon" a"o by the Tabard !nn
Library The
shop was empty, but as he opened the door a bell bu//ed
sharply !n a
back chamber he could hear #oices 0s he waited idly for
the dru""ist
to appear, 0ubrey cast a tolerant eye o#er the dusty
#olumes in the
twirlin" case There were the usual copies of Harold
%ac$rath9s The
%an on the Bo(, 0 $irl of the Limberlost, and The
Houseboat on the
Sty( The .i#ine &ire, much "rimed, leaned a"ainst Goe
,happle9s Heart
Throbs Those familiar with the Tabard !nn bookcases still
to be found
in outlyin" dru"6shops know that the stock has not been
)turned) for
many a year 0ubrey was the more surprised, on spinnin"
the the case
round, to find wed"ed in between two other #olumes the
empty co#er of a
book that had been torn loose from the pa"es to which it
belon"ed He
"lanced at the letterin" on the back !t ran thus:
Obeyin" a sudden impulse, he slipped the book co#er in his
%r +eintraub entered the shop, a solid Teutonic person
discoloured pouches under his eyes and a face that was a
ar"ument for prohibition His manner, howe#er, was that
of one an(ious
to please 0ubrey indicated the brand of ci"arettes he
wanted Ha#in"
himself coined the ad#ertisin" catchword for them66They9re
they satisfy66he felt a certain loyal compulsion always to
smoke this
kind The dru""ist held out the packet, and 0ubrey noticed
that his
fin"ers were stained a deep saffron colour
)! see you9re a ci"arette smoker, too,) said 0ubrey
pleasantly, as he
opened the packet and lit one of the paper tubes at a little
flame burnin" in a "lobe of blue "lass on the counter
)%eA ! ne#er smoke,) said %r +eintraub, with a smile
which somehow
did not seem to fit his surly face )! must ha#e steady
ner#es in my
profession 0pothecaries who smoke make up bad
)+ell, how do you "et your hands stained that wayA)
%r +eintraub remo#ed his hands from the counter
),hemicals,) he "runted )*rescriptions66all that sort of
)+ell,) said 0ubrey, )smokin"9s a bad habit ! "uess ! do
too much of
it) He could not resist the impression that someone was
listenin" to
their talk The doorway at the back of the shop was #eiled
by a
portiere of beads and thin bamboo sections threaded on
strin"s He
heard them clickin" as thou"h they had been momentarily
pulled aside
Turnin", 8ust as he opened the door to lea#e, he noticed the
curtain swayin"
)+ell, "ood6ni"ht,) he said, and stepped out onto the street
0s he walked down +ordsworth 0#enue, under the thunder
of the L, past
li"hted lunchrooms, oyster saloons, and pawnshops, %iss
,hapman resumed
her sway +ith the deli"htful #elocity of thou"ht his mind
whirled in
a narrowin" spiral round the e(perience of the e#enin"
The small
book6crammed sittin" room of the %ifflins, the sparklin"
fire, the
li#ely chirrup of the bookseller readin" aloud66and there, in
the old
easy chair whose horsehair stuffin" was bul"in" out, that
#ision of careless "irlhood< Happily he had been so seated
that he
could study her without seemin" to do so The line of her
ankle where
the fireli"ht danced upon it put ,oles *hillips to shame, he
E(traordinary, how these creatures are made to torment us
with their
intolerable comeliness< 0"ainst the back"round of dusky
bindin"s her
head shone with a soft ha/e of "old Her face, that had an
air of
nai#e and pro#okin" independence, made him an"ry with
its unnecessary
surplus of enchantment 0n unaccountable "ust of ra"e
dro#e him
rapidly alon" the fro/en street ).amn it,) he cried, )what
ri"ht has
any "irl to be as pretty as thatA +hy66why, !9d like to beat
her<) he
muttered, ama/ed at himself )+hat the de#il ri"ht has a
"irl "ot to
look so innocently adorableA)
!t would be unseemly to follow poor 0ubrey in his
#acillations of ra"e
and worship as he thrashed alon" +ordsworth 0#enue,
hearin" and seein"
no more than was necessary for the preser#ation of his life
at street
crossin"s Half6smoked ci"arette stubs "lowed in his wake=
H2I his
burly bosom echoed with incoherent oratory !n the darker
stretches of
&ulton Street that lead up to the Brooklyn Brid"e he
e(claimed: )By $od, it9s not such a bad world) 0s he
ascended the
slope of that #ast airy span, a black mid"et a"ainst a froth
of stars,
he was "ra#ely plannin" such #ehemence of e(ploit in the
profession as would make it seem less absurd to approach
the *resident
of the .aintybits ,orporation with a 7uestion for which no
of lo#eliness is e#er 7uite prepared
H2I 'OTE +H!LE *ROO&RE0.!'$: Surely this phrase
was unconsciously
lifted from R L S But where does the ori"inal occurA ,
. %
!n the e(act centre of the brid"e somethin" diluted his
mood= he
halted, leanin" a"ainst the railin", to consider the splendour
of the
scene The hour was late66mo#in" on toward midni"ht66but
in the tall
black precipices of %anhattan scattered li"hts "leamed, in
an odd,
irre"ular pattern like the sparse punctures on the raffle6
a chance on a %ilk6&ed Turkey)66the East !ndian ele#ator6
boy presents
to apartment6house tenants about Hallowe9en 0 fume of
"olden li"ht
eddied o#er uptown merriment: he could see the ruby
beacon on the
%etropolitan Tower si"nal three 7uarters ;nderneath the
airy deckin"
of the brid"e a tu" went puffin" by, her port and starboard
trailin" red and "reen threads o#er the tideway Some "reat
ar"osy of
the Staten !sland fleet swept serenely down to St $eor"e,
past Liberty
in her soft robe of li"ht, carryin" theatred commuters,
da/ed with
weariness and blinkin" at the raw fury of the electric bulbs
the ni"ht was a superb arch of clear frost, sifted with stars
sparks crackled stickily alon" the trolley wires as the cars
o#er the brid"e
0ubrey sur#eyed all this splendid scene without e(act
obser#ation He
was of a philosophic turn, and was attemptin" to console
discomfiture in the o#erwhelmin" lustre of %iss Titania by
the thou"ht
that she was, after all, the creature and offsprin" of the
science he
worshipped66that of 0d#ertisin" +as not the fra"rance of
presence, the soft compulsion of her "a/e, e#en the
delirious frill of
muslin at her wrist, to be set down to the credit of his
chosen artA
Had he not, ponderin" obscurely upon )attention6
compellin") copy and
lay6out and type6face, in a corner of the $rey6%atter office,
contributed to the triumphant prosperity and "race of this
beneficiaryA !ndeed she seemed to him, fiercely
tormentin" himself
with her lo#eliness, a symbol of the mysterious and subtle
power of
publicity !t was 0d#ertisin" that had done this66that had
enabled %r
,hapman, a shy and droll little person, to surround this "irl
with all
the fructifyin" "lories of ci#ili/ation66to foster and cherish
until she shone upon the earth like a mornin" star<
0d#ertisin" had
clothed her, 0d#ertisin" had fed her, schooled, roofed, and
her !n a sense she was the crownin" ad#ertisement of her
career, and her innocent perfection taunted him 8ust as
much as the
bri"ht sky6si"n he knew was flashin" the words
,H0*%0' *R;'ES abo#e the
teemin" pa#ements of Times S7uare He "roaned to think
that he
himself, by his conscientious labours, had helped to put this
"irl in
such a position that he could hardly dare approach her
He would ne#er ha#e approached her a"ain, on any prete(t,
if the
intensity of his thou"hts had not caused him,
unconsciously, to "rip
the railin" of the brid"e with stron" and an"ry hands &or
at that
moment a sack was thrown o#er his head from behind and
he was #iolently
sei/ed by the le"s, with the ob#ious intent of hoistin" him
o#er the
parapet His une(pected "rip on the railin" delayed this
attempt 8ust
lon" enou"h to sa#e him Swept off his feet by the fury of
assault, he fell sideways a"ainst the barrier and had the
"ood fortune
to sei/e his enemy by the le" %uffled in the sackin", it
was #ain to
cry out= but he held furiously to the limb he had "rasped
and he and
his attacker rolled to"ether on the footway 0ubrey was a
man, and e#en despite the surprise could probably ha#e "ot
the better
of the situation= but as he wrestled desperately and tried to
himself of his hood, a crashin" blow fell upon his head,
half stunnin"
him He lay sprawled out, momentarily incapable of
stru""le, yet
conscious enou"h to e(pect, rather curiously, the di//yin"
sensation of
a drop throu"h insupportable air into the icy water of the
East Ri#er
Hands sei/ed him66and then, passi#ely, he heard a shout,
the sound of
footsteps runnin" on the planks, and other footsteps
hurryin" away at
top speed !n a moment the sackin" was torn from his head
and a
friendly pedestrian was kneelin" beside him
)Say, are you all ri"htA) said the latter an(iously )$ee,
those "uys
nearly "ot you)
0ubrey was too faint and di//y to speak for a moment His
head was
numb and he felt certain that se#eral inches of it had been
ca#ed in
*uttin" up his hand, feebly, he was surprised to find the
contours of
his skull much the same as usual The stran"er propped
him a"ainst his
knee and wiped away a trickle of blood with his
)Say, old man, ! thou"ht you was a "oner,) he said
sympathetically )!
seen those fellows 8ump you Too bad they "ot away
.irty work, !9ll
say so)
0ubrey "ulped the ni"ht air, and sat up The brid"e rocked
under him=
a"ainst the star6speckled sky he could see the +oolworth
bendin" and 8a//in" like a poplar tree in a "ale He felt
#ery sick
)E#er so much obli"ed to you,) he stammered )!9ll be all
ri"ht in a
).9you want me to "o and rin" up a nambulanceA) said his
)'o, no,) said 0ubrey= )!9ll be all ri"ht) He sta""ered to
his feet
and clun" to the rail of the brid"e, tryin" to collect his wits
phrase ran o#er and o#er in his mind with damnable
but they satisfy<)
)+here were you "oin"A) said the other, supportin" him
)%adison 0#enue and Thirty6Second6666)
)%aybe ! can fla" a 8itney for you Here,) he cried, as
citi/en approached afoot, )$i#e this fellow a hand
Someone beat him
o#er the bean with a club !9m "oin" to "et him a lift)
The newcomer readily undertook the friendly task, and tied
handkerchief round his head, which was bleedin" freely
0fter a few
moments the first Samaritan succeeded in stoppin" a
tourin" car which
was speedin" o#er from Brooklyn The dri#er willin"ly
a"reed to take
0ubrey home, and the other two helped him in Barrin" a
nasty "ash on
his scalp he was none the worse
)0 fellow needs a tin hat if he9s "oin" to wander round
Lon" !sland at
ni"ht,) said the motorist "enially )Two fellows tried to
hold me up
comin" in from Rock#ille ,entre the other e#enin" %aybe
they were the
same two that picked on you .id you "et a look at themA)
)'o,) said 0ubrey )That piece of sackin" mi"ht ha#e
helped me trace
them, but ! for"ot it)
)+ant to run back for itA)
)'e#er mind,) said 0ubrey )!9#e "ot a hunch about this)
)Think you know who it isA %aybe you9re in politics,
The car ran swiftly up the dark channel of the Bowery, into
0#enue, and turned off at Thirty6Second Street to deposit
0ubrey in
front of his boardin" house He thanked his con#oy
heartily, and
refused further assistance 0fter se#eral false shots he "ot
his latch
key in the lock, climbed four creakin" fli"hts, and stumbled
into his
room $ropin" his way to the wash6basin, he bathed his
throbbin" head,
tied a towel round it, and fell into bed
,hapter -!
Titania Learns the Business
0lthou"h he kept late hours, Ro"er %ifflin was a prompt
riser !t is
only the #ery youn" who find satisfaction in lyin" abed in
the mornin"
Those who approach the term of the fifth decade are
sensiti#ely aware
of the fluency of life, and ha#e no taste to s7uander it
amon" the
The bookseller9s mornin" routine was brisk and habitual
He was
"enerally awakened about half6past se#en by the 8an"lin"
bell that
balanced on a coiled sprin" at the foot of the stairs This
announced the arri#al of Becky, the old scrubwoman who
came each
mornin" to sweep out the shop and clean the floors for the
traffic Ro"er, in his old dressin" "own of #ermilion
flannel, would
scuffle down to let her in, pickin" up the milk bottles and
the paper
ba" of baker9s rolls at the same time 0s Becky propped the
front door
wide, opened window transoms, and set about buffetin"
dust and tobacco
smoke, Ro"er would take the milk and rolls back to the
kitchen and "i#e
Bock a mornin" "reetin" Bock would emer"e from his
literary kennel,
and thrust out his forele"s in a "enial obeisance This was
politeness, and partly to strai"hten out his spine after its all6
cur#ature Then Ro"er would let him out into the back
yard for a run,
himself standin" on the kitchen steps to inhale the bri"ht
freshness of
the mornin" air
This Saturday mornin" was clear and crisp The plain
backs of the
homes alon" +hittier Street, irre"ular in profile as the
mar"ins of a
free #erse poem, offered Ro"er an a"reeable human
panorama Thin
strands of smoke were risin" from chimneys= a belated
baker9s wa"on was
8o""lin" down the alley= in bedroom bay6windows sheets
and pillows were
already set to sun and air Brooklyn, admirable borou"h of
homes and
hearty breakfasts, attacks the mornin" hours in cheery,
smilin" spirit
Bock sniffed and rooted about the small back yard as
thou"h the earth
?e#ery cubic inch of which he already knew by rote@ held
some new
entrancin" fla#our Ro"er watched him with the amused
and tender
condescension one always feels toward a happy do"66
perhaps the same
mood of tolerant paternalism that $ott is said to ha#e felt in
his boisterous Hohen/ollerns
The nippin" air be"an to infiltrate his dressin" "own, and
returned to the kitchen, his small, li#ely face ali"ht with
/est He
opened the drau"hts in the ran"e, set a kettle on to boil, and
down to resuscitate the furnace 0s he came upstairs for his
%rs %ifflin was descendin", fresh and hearty in a starchy
apron Ro"er hummed a tune as he picked up the hairpins
on the bedroom
floor, and wondered to himself why women are always
supposed to be more
tidy than men
Titania was awake early She smiled at the eni"matic
portrait of
Samuel Butler, "lanced at the row of books o#er her bed,
and dressed
rapidly She ran downstairs, ea"er to be"in her e(perience
as a
bookseller The first impression the Haunted Bookshop
had made on her
was one of superfluous din"iness, and as %rs %ifflin
refused to let
her help "et breakfast66e(cept set out the salt cellars66she
ran down
$issin" Street to a little florist9s shop she had noticed the
afternoon Here she spent at least a week9s salary in buyin"
chrysanthemums and a lar"e pot of white heather She was
these about the shop when Ro"er found her
)Bless my soul<) he said )How are you "oin" to li#e on
your wa"es if
you do that sort of thin"A *ay6day doesn9t come until ne(t
)Gust one blow6out,) she said cheerfully )! thou"ht it
would be fun
to bri"hten the place up a bit Think how pleased your
will be when he comes in<)
).ear me,) said Ro"er )! hope you don9t really think we
floorwalkers in the second6hand book business)
0fter breakfast he set about initiatin" his new employee
into the
routine of the shop 0s he mo#ed about, e(plainin" the
arran"ement of
his shel#es, he kept up a runnin" commentary
)Of course all the miscellaneous information that a
bookseller has to
ha#e will only come to you "radually,) he said )Such ta"s
of bookshop
lore as the difference between *hilo $ubb and *hilip
$ibbs, %rs +ilson
+oodrow and %rs +oodrow +ilson, and all that sort of
thin" .on9t be
fri"htened by all the ads you see for a book called )Bell and
because no one was e#er heard to ask for a copy That9s
one of the
reasons why ! tell %r $ilbert ! don9t belie#e in ad#ertisin"
may ask you who wrote The +innin" of the Best, and
you9ll ha#e to know
it wasn9t ,olonel Roose#elt but %r Ralph +aldo Trine
The beauty of
bein" a bookseller is that you don9t ha#e to be a literary
critic: all
you ha#e to do to books is en8oy them 0 literary critic is
the kind
of fellow who will tell you that +ordsworth9s Happy
+arrior is a poem
of 3C lines composed entirely of two sentences, one of 2M
lines and one
of C5 +hat does it matter if +ordsworth wrote sentences
almost as
lon" as those of +alt +hitman or %r +ill H Hays, if only
he wrote a
"reat poemA Literary critics are 7ueer birds There9s
*helps of 1ale, for instance He publishes a book in 4543
and calls it
The 0d#ance of En"lish *oetry in the Twentieth ,entury
To my way of
thinkin" a book of that title ou"htn9t to be published until
Then somebody will come alon" and ask you for a book of
poems about a
typewriter, and by and by you9ll learn that what they want is
Ste#enson9s ;nderwoods 1es, it9s a complicated life
'e#er ar"ue
with customers Gust "i#e them the book they ou"ht to ha#e
e#en if
they don9t know they want it)
They went outside the front door, and Ro"er lit his pipe !n
little area in front of the shop windows stood lar"e empty
supported on trestles )The first thin" ! always do6666,) he
)The first thin" you9ll both do is catch your death of cold,)
Helen o#er his shoulder )Titania, you run and "et your fur
"o and find your cap +ith your bald head, you ou"ht to
know better<)
+hen they returned to the front door, Titania9s blue eyes
sparklin" abo#e her soft tippet
)! applaud your taste in furs,) said Ro"er )That is 8ust the
of tobacco smoke) He blew a whiff a"ainst it to pro#e the
He felt #ery talkati#e, as most older men do when a youn"
"irl looks as
deli"htfully listenable as Titania
)+hat an adorable little place,) said Titania, lookin" round
at the
bookshop9s space of pri#ate pa#ement, which was sunk
below the street
le#el )1ou could put tables out here and ser#e tea in
summer time)
)The first thin" e#ery mornin",) continued Ro"er, )! set out
ten6cent stuff in these bo(es ! take it in at ni"ht and stow it
these bins +hen it rains, ! sho#e out an awnin", which is
mi"hty "ood
business Someone is sure to take shelter, and spend the
time in
lookin" o#er the books 0 really hea#y shower is often
worth fifty or
si(ty cents Once a week ! chan"e my pa#ement stock
This week !9#e
"ot mostly fiction out here That9s the sort of thin" that
comes in in
unlimited numbers 0 "ood deal of it9s tripe, but it ser#es
)0ren9t they rather dirtyA) said Titania doubtfully, lookin"
at some
little blue Rollo books, on which the siftin"s of "enerations
accumulated )+ould you mind if ! dusted them off a bitA)
)!t9s almost unheard of in the second6hand trade,) said
Ro"er= )but it
mi"ht make them look better)
Titania ran inside, borrowed a duster from Helen, and
housecleanin" the "rimy bo(es, while Ro"er chatted away
in hi"h
spirits Bock already noticin" the new order of thin"s,
s7uatted on
the doorstep with an air of bein" a party to the
con#ersation %ornin"
pedestrians on $issin" Street passed by, wonderin" who the
en"a"in" assistant mi"ht be )! wish K!K could find a maid
like that,)
thou"ht a prosperous Brooklyn housewife on her way to
market )! must
rin" her up some day and find out how much she "ets)
Ro"er brou"ht out armfuls of books while Titania dusted
)One of the reasons !9m awfully "lad you9#e come here to
help me,) he
said, )is that !9ll be able to "et out more !9#e been so tied
down by
the shop, ! ha#en9t had a chance to scout round, buy up
libraries, make
bids on collections that are bein" sold, and all that sort of
%y stock is runnin" a bit low !f you 8ust wait for what
comes in, you
don9t "et much of the really "ood stuff)
Titania was polishin" a copy of The Late %rs 'ull )!t
must be
wonderful to ha#e read so many books,) she said )!9m
afraid !9m not a
#ery deep reader, but at any rate .ad has tau"ht me a
respect for "ood
books He "ets so mad because when my friends come to
the house, and
he asks them what they9#e been readin", the only thin" they
seem to
know about is .ere %able)
Ro"er chuckled )! hope you don9t think !9m a mere
hi"hbrow,) he said
)0s a customer said to me once, without meanin" to be
funny, 9! like
both the !liad and the 0r"osy9 The only thin" ! can9t stand
literature that is unfairly and intentionally fla#oured with
,onfectionery soon dis"usts the palate, whether you find it
in %arcus
0urelius or .octor ,rane There9s an odd aspect of the
matter that
sometimes strikes me: .oc ,rane9s remarks are 8ust as true
as Lord
Bacon9s, so how is it that the .octor puts me to sleep in a
while my Lord9s essays keep me awake all ni"htA)
Titania, bein" unac7uainted with these philosophers,
pursued the
characteristic feminine course of clin"in" to the sub8ect on
which she
was informed The undiscernin" ha#e called this habit of
irrele#ant, but wron"ly The feminine intellect leaps like a
"rasshopper= the masculine plods as the ant
)! see there9s a new %able book comin",) she said )!t9s
called That9s
%e 0ll O#er %able, and the newsstand clerk at the
Octa"on says he
e(pects to sell a thousand copies)
)+ell, there9s a meanin" in that,) said Ro"er )*eople ha#e
a cra#in"
to be amused, and !9m sure ! don9t blame 9em !9m afraid !
read .ere %able !f it9s really amusin", !9m "lad they read
it !
suspect it isn9t a #ery "reat book, because a *hiladelphia
has written a reply to it called .ere Bill, which is said to be
as "ood
as the ori"inal 'ow you can hardly ima"ine a *hiladelphia
writin" an effecti#e companion to Bacon9s Essays But
ne#er mind, if
the stuff9s amusin", it has its place The human yearnin"
for innocent
pastime is a pathetic thin", come to think about it !t shows
what a
desperately "rim thin" life has become One of the most
thin"s ! know is that breathless, e(pectant, adorin" hush
that falls
o#er a theatre at a Saturday matinee, when the house "oes
dark and the
footli"hts set the bottom of the curtain in a "low, and the
tank o#er your feet climbin" into their seats6666)
)!sn9t it an adorable moment<) cried Titania
)1es, it is,) said Ro"er= )but it makes me sad to see what
tosh is
handed out to that ea"er, e(pectant audience, most of the
time There
they all are, ready to be thrilled, ea"er to be worked upon,
deliberately puttin" themsel#es into that "lorious, rare,
mood when they are clay in the artist9s hand66and Lord<
what miserable
substitutes for 8oy and sorrow are put o#er on them< .ay
after day !
see people streamin" into theatres and mo#ies, and ! know
that more
than half the time they are on a blind 7uest, thinkin" they
satisfied when in truth they are fed on paltry husks 0nd
the sad part
about it is that if you let yourself think you are satisfied
husks, you9ll ha#e no appetite left for the real "rain)
Titania wondered, a little panic6stricken, whether she had
permittin" herself to be satisfied with husks She
remembered how
"reatly she had en8oyed a .orothy $ish film a few
e#enin"s before
)But,) she #entured, )you said people want to be amused
0nd if they
lau"h and look happy, surely they9re amusedA)
)They only think they are<) cried %ifflin )They think
they9re amused
because they don9t know what real amusement is< Lau"hter
and prayer
are the two noblest habits of man= they mark us off from
the brutes
To lau"h at cheap 8ests is as base as to pray to cheap "ods
To lau"h
at &atty 0rbuckle is to de"rade the human spirit)
Titania thou"ht she was "ettin" in rather deep, but she had
tenacious lo"ic of e#ery healthy "irl She said:
)But a 8oke that seems cheap to you doesn9t seem cheap to
the person
who lau"hs at it, or he wouldn9t lau"h)
Her face bri"htened as a fresh idea flooded her mind:
)The wooden ima"e a sa#a"e prays to may seem cheap to
you, but it9s the
best "od he knows, and it9s all ri"ht for him to pray to it)
)Bully for you,) said Ro"er )*erfectly true But !9#e "ot
away from
the point ! had in mind Humanity is yearnin" now as it
ne#er did
before for truth, for beauty, for the thin"s that comfort and
and make life seem worth while ! feel this all round me,
e#ery day
+e9#e been throu"h a fri"htful ordeal, and e#ery decent
spirit is
askin" itself what we can do to pick up the fra"ments and
remould the
world nearer to our heart9s desire Look here, here9s
somethin" !
found the other day in Gohn %asefield9s preface to one of
his plays:
9The truth and rapture of man are holy thin"s, not li"htly to
scorned 0 carelessness of life and beauty marks the
"lutton, the
idler, and the fool in their deadly path across history9 ! tell
!9#e done some pretty sober thinkin" as !9#e sat here in my
durin" the past horrible years +alt +hitman wrote a little
durin" the ,i#il +ar661ear that trembled and reeled beneath
me, said
+alt, %ust ! learn to chant the cold dir"es of the baffled,
and sullen
hymns of defeatA66!9#e sat here in my shop at ni"ht, and
looked round
at my shel#es, looked at all the bra#e books that house the
hopes and
"entlenesses and dreams of men and women, and wondered
if they were all
wron", discredited, defeated +ondered if the world were
still merely
a 8un"le of fury ! think !9d ha#e "one balmy if it weren9t
for +alt
+hitman Talk about %r Britlin"66+alt was the man who
9saw it
)The "lutton, the idler, and the fool in their deadly path
history 0ye, a deadly path indeed The $erman
military men
weren9t idlers, but they were "luttons and fools to the nth
Look at their deadly path< 0nd look at other deadly paths,
too Look
at our slums, 8ails, insane asylums
)! used to wonder what ! could do to 8ustify my
comfortable e(istence
here durin" such a time of horror +hat ri"ht had ! to shirk
in a
7uiet bookshop when so many men were sufferin" and
dyin" throu"h no
fault of their ownA ! tried to "et into an ambulance unit, but
had no medical trainin" and they said they didn9t want men
of my a"e
unless they were e(perienced doctors)
)! know how you felt,) said Titania, with a surprisin" look
comprehension ).on9t you suppose that a "reat many
"irls, who
couldn9t do anythin" real to help, "ot tired of wearin" neat
uniforms with Sam Browne beltsA)
)+ell,) said Ro"er, )it was a bad time The war
contradicted and
denied e#erythin" ! had e#er li#ed for Oh, ! can9t tell you
how !
felt about it ! can9t e#en e(press it to myself Sometimes !
used to
feel as ! think that truly noble simpleton Henry &ord may
ha#e felt
when he or"ani/ed his peace #oya"e66that ! would do
anythin", howe#er
stupid, to stop it all !n a world where e#eryone was so
wise and
cynical and cruel, it was admirable to find a man so utterly
simple and
hopeful as Henry 0 boob, they called him +ell, ! say
bra#o for
boobs< ! daresay most of the apostles were boobs66or
maybe they called
them bolshe#iks)
Titania had only the #a"uest notion about bolshe#iks, but
she had seen
a "ood many newspaper cartoons
)! "uess Gudas was a bolshe#ik,) she said innocently
)1es, and probably $eor"e the Third called Ben &ranklin a
retorted Ro"er )The trouble is, truth and falsehood don9t
come laid
out in black and white66Truth and Huntruth, as the wartime
8oke had it
Sometimes ! thou"ht Truth had #anished from the earth,)
he cried
bitterly )Like e#erythin" else, it was rationed by the
! tau"ht myself to disbelie#e half of what ! read in the
papers ! saw
the world clawin" itself to shreds in blind ra"e ! saw
hardly any one
bra#e enou"h to face the brutali/in" absurdity as it really
was, and
describe it ! saw the "lutton, the idler, and the fool
while bra#e and simple men walked in the horrors of hell
stay6at6home poets turned it to pretty lyrics of "lory and
*erhaps half a do/en of them ha#e told the truth Ha#e you
SassoonA Or Lat/ko9s %en in +ar, which was so damned
true that the
"o#ernment suppressed itA Humph< *uttin" Truth on
He knocked out his pipe a"ainst his heel, and his blue eyes
shone with
a kind of desperate earnestness
)But ! tell you, the world is "oin" to ha#e the truth about
+ar +e9re
"oin" to put an end to this madness !t9s not "oin" to be
easy Gust
now, in the into(ication of the $erman collapse, we9re all
re8oicin" in
our new happiness ! tell you, the real *eace will be a lon"
comin" +hen you tear up all the fibres of ci#ili/ation it9s
a slow
8ob to knit thin"s to"ether a"ain 1ou see those children
"oin" down
the street to schoolA *eace lies in their hands +hen they
are tau"ht
in school that war is the most loathsome scour"e humanity
is sub8ect
to, that it smirches and fouls e#ery lo#ely occupation of the
spirit, then there may be some hope for the future But !9d
like to
bet they are ha#in" it drilled into them that war is a "lorious
noble sacrifice
)The people who write poems about the di#ine fren/y of
"oin" o#er the
top are usually those who dipped their pens a lon", lon"
way from the
slimy duckboards of the trenches !t9s funny how we hate
to face
realities ! knew a commuter once who rode in town e#ery
day on the
34E But he used to call it the LLE He said it made him
feel more
There was a pause, while Ro"er watched some belated
urchins hurryin"
toward school
)! think any man would be a traitor to humanity who didn9t
pled"e e#ery
effort of his wakin" life to an attempt to make war
impossible in
)Surely no one would deny that,) said Titania )But ! do
think the war
was #ery "lorious as well as #ery terrible !9#e known lots
of men who
went o#er, knowin" well what they were to face, and yet
went "ladly and
humbly in the thou"ht they were "oin" for a true cause)
)0 cause which is so true shouldn9t need the sacrifice of
millions of
fine li#es,) said Ro"er "ra#ely ).on9t ima"ine ! don9t see
dreadful nobility of it But poor humanity shouldn9t be
asked to be
noble at such a cost That9s the most pitiful tra"edy of it all
.on9t you suppose the $ermans thou"ht they too were
marchin" off for a
noble cause when they be"an it and forced this misery on
the worldA
They had been educated to belie#e so, for a "eneration
That9s the
terrible hypnotism of war, the brute mass6impulse, the pride
national spirit, the instincti#e simplicity of men that makes
worship what is their own abo#e e#erythin" else !9#e
thrilled and
shouted with patriotic pride, like e#eryone %usic and
fla"s and men
marchin" in step ha#e bewitched me, as they do all of us
0nd then
!9#e "one home and sworn to root this e#il instinct out of
my soul
$od help us66let9s lo#e the world, lo#e humanity66not 8ust
our own
country< That9s why !9m so keen about the part we9re "oin"
to play at
the *eace ,onference Our motto o#er there will be
0merica Last<
Hurrah for us, ! say, for we shall be the only nation o#er
there with
absolutely no a(e to "rind 'othin" but a pa( to "rind<)
!t ar"ued well for Titania9s breadth of mind that she was not
nor alarmed at the poor bookseller9s an"uished haran"ue
She surmised
sa"ely that he was cleansin" his bosom of much perilous
stuff !n some
mysterious way she had learned the "reatest and rarest of
the spirit9s
)1ou can9t help lo#in" your country,) she said
)Let9s "o indoors,) he answered )1ou9ll catch cold out
here ! want
to show you my alco#e of books on the war)
)Of course one can9t help lo#in" one9s country,) he added
)! lo#e
mine so much that ! want to see her take the lead in makin"
a new era
possible She has sacrificed least for war, she should be
ready to
sacrifice most for peace 0s for me,) he said, smilin", )!9d
willin" to sacrifice the whole Republican party<)
)! don9t see why you call the war an absurdity,) said
Titania )+e H0.
to beat $ermany, or where would ci#ili/ation ha#e beenA)
)+e had to beat $ermany, yes, but the absurdity lies in the
fact that
we had to beat oursel#es in doin" it The first thin" you9ll
when the *eace ,onference "ets to work, will be that we
shall ha#e to
help $ermany onto her feet a"ain so that she can be
punished in an
orderly way +e shall ha#e to feed her and admit her to
commerce so
that she can pay her indemnities66we shall ha#e to police
her cities to
pre#ent re#olution from burnin" her up66and the upshot of
it all will
be that men will ha#e fou"ht the most terrible war in
history, and
endured nameless horrors, for the pri#ile"e of nursin" their
enemy back
to health !f that isn9t an absurdity, what isA That9s what
when a "reat nation like $ermany "oes insane
)+ell, we9re up a"ainst some terribly complicated
problems %y only
consolation is that ! think the bookseller can play as useful
a part as
any man in rebuildin" the world9s sanity +hen ! was
frettin" o#er
what ! could do to help thin"s alon", ! came across two
lines in my
fa#ourite poet that encoura"ed me $ood old $eor"e
Herbert says:
0 "rain of "lory mi(ed with humblenesse
,ures both a fe#er and lethar"icknesse
),ertainly runnin" a second6hand bookstore is a pretty
humble callin",
but !9#e mi(ed a "rain of "lory with it, in my own
ima"ination at any
rate 1ou see, books contain the thou"hts and dreams of
men, their
hopes and stri#in"s and all their immortal parts !t9s in
books that
most of us learn how splendidly worth6while life is ! ne#er
the "reatness of the human spirit, the indomitable "randeur
of man9s
mind, until ! read %ilton9s 0reopa"itica To read that "reat
of splendid an"er ennobles the meanest of us simply
because we belon"
to the same species of animal as %ilton Books are the
immortality of
the race, the father and mother of most that is worth while
in our hearts To spread "ood books about, to sow them on
minds, to propa"ate understandin" and a carefulness of life
and beauty,
isn9t that hi"h enou"h mission for a manA The bookseller is
the real
%r -aliant6&or6Truth
)Here9s my +ar6alco#e,) he went on )!9#e stacked up here
most of the
really "ood books the +ar has brou"ht out !f humanity
has sense
enou"h to take these books to heart, it will ne#er "et itself
into this
mess a"ain *rinter9s ink has been runnin" a race a"ainst
these many, many years !nk is handicapped, in a way,
because you can
blow up a man with "unpowder in half a second, while it
may take twenty
years to blow him up with a book But the "unpowder
destroys itself
alon" with its #ictim, while a book can keep on e(plodin"
centuries There9s Hardy9s .ynasts for e(ample +hen you
read that
book you can feel it blowin" up your mind !t lea#es you
"aspin", ill,
nauseated66oh, it9s not pleasant to feel some really pure
filtered into one9s brain< !t hurts< There9s enou"h T ' T
in that
book to blast war from the face of the "lobe But there9s a
slow fuse
attached to it !t hasn9t really e(ploded yet %aybe it won9t
another fifty years
)!n re"ard to the +ar, think what books ha#e accomplished
+hat was
the first thin" all the "o#ernments started to do66publish
books< Blue
Books, 1ellow Books, +hite Books, Red Books66
e#erythin" but Black
Books, which would ha#e been appropriate in Berlin They
knew that
"uns and troops were helpless unless they could "et the
books on their
side, too Books did as much as anythin" else to brin"
0merica into
the war Some $erman books helped to wipe the Kaiser off
his throne66!
0ccuse, and .r %uehlon9s ma"nificent outburst The
-andal of Europe,
and Lichnowsky9s pri#ate memorandum, that shook
$ermany to her
foundations, simply because he told the truth Here9s that
book %en in
+ar, written ! belie#e by a Hun"arian officer, with its noble
dedication )To &riend and &oe) Here are some of the
books66books in which the clear, passionate intellect of that
with its sa#a"e irony, burns like a flame Romain Rolland9s
de la %elee, written in e(ile in Swit/erland= Barbusse9s
terrible Le
&eu= .uhamel9s bitter ,i#ili/ation= Bour"et9s stran"ely
no#el The %eanin" of .eath 0nd the noble books that
ha#e come out of
En"land: 0 Student in 0rms= The Tree of Hea#en= +hy
%en &i"ht, by
Bertrand Russell66!9m hopin" he9ll write one on +hy %en
0re !mprisoned:
you know he was locked up for his sentiments< 0nd here9s
one of the
most mo#in" of all66The Letters of 0rthur Heath, a "entle,
youn" O(ford tutor who was killed on the +estern front
1ou ou"ht to
read that book !t shows the entire lack of hatred on the
part of the
En"lish Heath and his friends, the ni"ht before they
enlisted, sat up
sin"in" the $erman music they had lo#ed, as a kind of
farewell to the
old, friendly 8oyous life 1es, that9s the kind of thin" +ar
does66wipes out spirits like 0rthur Heath *lease read it
you9ll ha#e to read *hilip $ibbs, and Lowes .ickinson and
all the youn"
poets Of course you9#e read +ells already E#erybody
)How about the 0mericansA) said Titania )Ha#en9t they
anythin" about the war that9s worth whileA)
)Here9s one that ! found a lot of meat in, streaked with
"ristle,) said Ro"er, reli"htin" his pipe He pulled out a
copy of
*rofessor Latimer9s *ro"ress )There was one passa"e that
! remember
markin"66let9s see now, what was itA661es, here<
)!t is true that, if you made a poll of newspaper editors, you
find a "reat many who think that war is e#il But if you
were to take
a census amon" pastors of fashionable metropolitan
)That9s a bullseye hit< The church has done for itself with
thinkin" men There9s another "ood passa"e in
*rofessor Latimer,
where he points out the philosophical #alue of dishwashin"
Some of
Latimer9s talk is so much in common with my ideas that
!9#e been rather
hopin" he9d drop in here some day !9d like to meet him
0s for
0merican poets, "et wise to Edwin Robinson6666)
There is no knowin" how lon" the bookseller9s monolo"ue
mi"ht ha#e
continued, but at this moment Helen appeared from the
)$ood "racious, Ro"er<) she e(claimed, )!9#e heard your
#oice pipin"
away for ! don9t know how lon" +hat are you doin",
"i#in" the poor
child a ,hautau7ua lectureA 1ou must want to fri"hten her
out of the
book business)
Ro"er looked a little sheepish )%y dear,) he said, )! was
only layin"
down a few of the principles underlyin" the art of
)!t was #ery interestin", honestly it was,) said Titania
%rs %ifflin, in a blue check apron and with plump arms
floury to the
elbow, "a#e her a wink66or as near a wink as a woman e#er
achie#es ?ask
the man who owns one@
)+hene#er %r %ifflin feels #ery low in his mind about the
she said, )he falls back on those hi"hly ideali/ed
sentiments He
knows that ne(t to bein" a parson, he9s "ot into the worst
line there
is, and he tries bra#ely to conceal it from himself)
)! think it9s too bad to "i#e me away before %iss Titania,)
said Ro"er,
smilin", so Titania saw this was merely a family 8oke
)Really truly,) she protested, )!9m ha#in" a lo#ely time
!9#e been
learnin" all about *rofessor Latimer who wrote The Handle
of Europe,
and all sorts of thin"s !9#e been afraid e#ery minute that
customer would come in and interrupt us)
)'o fear of that,) said Helen )They9re scarce in the early
She went back to her kitchen
)+ell, %iss Titania,) resumed Ro"er )1ou see what !9m
dri#in" at !
want to "i#e people an entirely new idea about bookshops
The "rain of
"lory that ! hope will cure both my fe#er and my
lethar"icness is my
conception of the bookstore as a power6house, a radiatin"
place for
truth and beauty ! insist books are not absolutely dead
thin"s: they
are as li#ely as those fabulous dra"ons9 teeth, and bein"
sown up and
down, may chance to sprin" up armed men How about
BernhardiA Some of
my ,orn ,ob friends tell me books are 8ust merchandise
)! ha#en9t read much of Bernard Shaw) said Titania
).id you e#er notice how books track you down and hunt
you outA They
follow you like the hound in &rancis Thompson9s poem
They know their
7uarry< Look at that book The Education of Henry 0dams<
Gust watch
the way it9s houndin" out thinkin" people this winter 0nd
The &our
Horsemen66you can see it racin" in the #eins of the readin"
!t9s one of the uncanniest thin"s ! know to watch a real
book on its
career66it follows you and follows you and dri#es you into a
corner and
%0KES you read it There9s a 7ueer old book that9s been
chasin" me for
years: The Life and Opinions of Gohn Buncle, Es7, it9s
called !9#e
tried to escape it, but e#ery now and then it sticks up its
somewhere !t9ll "et me some day, and !9ll be compelled to
read it
Ten Thousand a 1ear trailed me the same way until !
surrendered +ords
can9t describe the cunnin" of some books 1ou9ll think
you9#e shaken
them off your trail, and then one day some innocent6
lookin" customer
will pop in and be"in to talk, and you9ll know he9s an
a"ent of book6destiny There9s an old sea6captain who
drops in here
now and then He9s simply the no#els of ,aptain %arryat
put into
flesh He has me under a kind of spell= ! know ! shall ha#e
to read
*eter Simple before ! die, 8ust because the old fellow lo#es
it so
That9s why ! call this place the Haunted Bookshop
Haunted by the
"hosts of the books ! ha#en9t read *oor uneasy spirits, they
walk and
walk around me There9s only one way to lay the "host of a
book, and
that is to read it)
)! know what you mean,) said Titania )! ha#en9t read
much Bernard
Shaw, but ! feel ! shall ha#e to He meets me at e#ery turn,
me 0nd ! know lots of people who are simply terrori/ed
by H $
+ells E#ery time one of his books comes out, and that9s
pretty often,
they9re in a perfect panic until they9#e read it)
Ro"er chuckled )Some ha#e e#en been stampeded into
subscribin" to the
'ew Republic for that #ery purpose)
)But speakin" of the Haunted Bookshop, what9s your
special interest in
that Oli#er ,romwell bookA)
)Oh, !9m "lad you mentioned it,) said Ro"er )! must put it
back in
its place on the shelf) He ran back to the den to "et it, and
then the bell clan"ed at the door 0 customer came in, and
one6sided "ossip was o#er for the time bein"
,hapter -!!
0ubrey Takes Lod"in"s
! am sensible that %r 0ubrey $ilbert is by no means ideal
as the
leadin" 8u#enile of our piece The time still demands some
why the leadin" 8u#enile wears no "old che#rons on his left
slee#e 0s
a matter of fact, our youn" ser#ant of the $rey6%atter
0"ency had been
declined by a recruitin" station and a draft board on
account of flat
feet= althou"h ! must protest that their flatness detracts not
at all
from his outward bearin" nor from his physical capacity in
the ordinary
concerns of amiable youth +hen the army )turned him
down flat,) as he
put it, he had entered the ser#ice of the ,ommittee on
!nformation, and had carried on mysterious acti#ities in
their behalf
for o#er a year, up to the time when the armistice was
si"ned by the
;nited *ress Owin" to a small error of 8ud"ment on his
part, now
completely for"otten, but due to the re"rettable delay of the
en#oys to synchroni/e with o#er6e(uberant press
correspondents, the
last three days of the war had been carried on without his
assistance 0fter the natural recuperation necessary on the
42th of
'o#ember, he had been re6absorbed by the $rey6%atter
0"ency, with whom he had been connected for se#eral
years, and where
his sound and #i#acious 7ualities were hi"hly esteemed !t
was in the
course of drummin" up post6war business that he had
swun" so far out of
his ordinary orbit as to call on Ro"er %ifflin *erhaps
e(planations should ha#e been made earlier
0t any rate, 0ubrey woke that Saturday mornin", about the
time Titania
be"an to dust the pa#ement6bo(es, in no #ery world6
con7uerin" humour
0s it was a half6holiday, he felt no compunction in stayin"
away from
the office The landlady, a motherly soul, sent him up some
coffee and
scrambled e""s, and insisted on ha#in" a doctor in to look
at his
dama"e Se#eral stitches were taken, after which he had a
nap He
woke up at noon, feelin" better, thou"h his head still ached
abominably *uttin" on a dressin" "own, he sat down in
his modest
chamber, which was furnished chiefly with a pipe6rack, ash
trays, and a
set of O Henry, and picked up one of his fa#ourite #olumes
for a bit
of solace +e ha#e hinted that %r $ilbert was not what is
)literary) His readin" was mostly of the newsstand sort,
and *rinter9s
!nk, that nai#e 8ournal of the publicity professions His
di#ersion was luncheon at the 0d#ertisin" ,lub where he
would pore,
fascinated, o#er displays of ad#ertisin" booklets, posters,
pamphlets with such titles as Tell 1our Story in Bold6&ace
He was
accustomed to remark that )the fellow who writes the
*ackard ads has
Ralph +aldo Emerson skinned three ways from the Gack)
1et much must be
for"i#en this youn" man for his lo#e of O Henry He
knew, what many
other happy souls ha#e found, that O Henry is one of those
rare and
"ifted tellers of tales who can be read at all times 'o
matter how
weary, how depressed, how shaken in morale, one can
always find
en8oyment in that master romancer of the ,abarabian
'i"hts ).on9t
talk to me of .ickens9 ,hristmas Stories,) 0ubrey said to
recallin" his ad#enture in Brooklyn )!9ll bet O Henry9s
$ift of the
%a"i beats anythin" .ick e#er laid pen to +hat a shame
he died
without finishin" that ,hristmas story in Rollin" Stones< !
wish some
boss writer like !r#in ,obb or Edna &erber would take a
hand at
finishin" it !f ! were an editor !9d hire someone to wind up
yarn !t9s a crime to ha#e a "ood story like that lyin"
around half
He was sittin" in a soft wreath of ci"arette smoke when his
came in with the mornin" paper
)Thou"ht you mi"ht like to see the Times, %r $ilbert,) she
said )!
knew you9d been too sick to "o out and buy one ! see the
"oin" to sail on +ednesday)
0ubrey threaded his way throu"h the news with the
practiced eye of one
who knows what interests him Then, by force of habit, he
scanned the ad#ertisin" pa"es 0 notice in the HEL*
+0'TE. columns
leaped out at him
+0'TE.66&or temporary employment at Hotel Octa"on, E
chefs, C
e(perienced cooks, 2D waiters 0pply chef9s office, 44 *%
)Hum,) he thou"ht )! suppose, to take the place of those
fellows who
are "oin" to sail on the $eor"e +ashin"ton to cook for %r
That9s a "rand ad for the Octa"on, ha#in" their kitchen staff
for the *resident9s trip $ee, ! wonder why they don9t play
that up in
some real spaceA %aybe ! can place some copy for them
alon" that line)
0n idea suddenly occurred to him, and he went o#er to the
chair where
he had thrown his o#ercoat the ni"ht before &rom the
pocket he took
out the co#er of ,arlyle9s ,romwell, and looked at it
)! wonder what the 8in( is on this bookA) he thou"ht )!t9s a
thin" the way that fellow trailed me last ni"ht66then my
findin" this
in the dru" store, and "ettin" that crack on the bean !
wonder if
that nei"hbourhood is a safe place for a "irl to work inA)
He paced up and down the room, for"ettin" the pain in his
)%aybe ! ou"ht to tip the police off about this business,) he
)!t looks wron" to me But ! ha#e a hankerin" to work the
thin" out on
my own !9d ha#e a wonderful stand6in with old man
,hapman if ! sa#ed
that "irl from anythin" !9#e heard of "an"s of
'o, ! don9t like the looks of thin"s a little bit ! think that
bookseller is half cracked, anyway He doesn9t belie#e in
The idea of ,hapman trustin" his dau"hter in a place like
The thou"ht of playin" kni"ht errant to somethin" more
personal and
romantic than an ad#ertisin" account was irresistible )!9ll
slip o#er
to Brooklyn as soon as it "ets dark this e#enin",) he said to
)! ou"ht to be able to "et a room somewhere alon" that
street, where !
can watch that bookshop without bein" seen, and find out
hauntin" it !9#e "ot that old 22 pop"un of mine that ! used
to use
up at camp !9ll take it alon" !9d like to know more about
+eintraub9s dru" store, too ! didn9t fancy the map of Herr
not at all To tell the truth, ! had no idea old man ,arlyle
would "et
mi(ed up in anythin" as interestin" as this)
He found a romantic e(hilaration in packin" a handba"
hairbrushes, toothbrush, toothpaste66?)+hat an ad it would
be for the
,hinese *aste people,) he thou"ht, )if they knew ! was
takin" a tube of
their stuff on this ad#enture<)@66his 22 re#ol#er, a small
"reen bo(
of cartrid"es of the si/e commonly used for s7uirrel6
shootin", a #olume
of O Henry, a safety ra/or and ad8uncts, a pad of writin"
0t least si( nationally ad#ertised articles, he said to
enumeratin" his kit He locked his ba", dressed, and went
for lunch 0fter lunch he lay down for a rest, as his head
was still
#ery painful But he was not able to sleep The thou"ht of
,hapman9s blue eyes and "allant little fi"ure came between
him and
slumber He could not shake off the con#iction that some
peril was
han"in" o#er her 0"ain and a"ain he looked at his watch,
rebukin" the
la""in" dusk 0t half6past four he set off for the subway
down Thirty6third Street a thou"ht struck him He returned
to his
room, "ot out a pair of opera "lasses from his trunk, and put
them in
his ba"
!t was blue twili"ht when he reached $issin" Street The
block between
+ordsworth 0#enue and Ha/litt Street is peculiar in that on
side66the side where the Haunted Bookshop stands66the old
dwellin"s ha#e mostly been replaced by small shops of a
bri"ht, li#ely
character 0t the +ordsworth 0#enue corner, where the L
swin"s round
in a lofty roarin" cur#e, stands +eintraub9s dru" store=
below it, on
the western side, a succession of shinin" windows beacon
throu"h the
e#enin" .elicatessen shops with their appeti/in" medley
of cooked and
pickled meats, dried fruits, cheeses, and bri"ht coloured
8ars of
preser#es= small modistes with "enerously contoured wa(
busts of
coiffured ladies= lunch rooms with the day9s menu typed
and pasted on
the outer pane= a &rench rotisserie where chickens turn
hissin" on the
spits before a tall o#en of rosy coals= florists, tobacconists,
fruit6dealers, and a $reek candy6shop with a lon" soda
fountain shinin"
with ony( marble and coloured "lass lamps and nickel
tanks of hot
chocolate= a stationery shop, now stuffed for the holiday
trade with
,hristmas cards, toys, calendars, and those 7ueer little
#olumes of Kiplin", Ser#ice, Oscar +ilde, and Omar
Khayyam that appear
e#ery year toward ,hristmas time66such modest and
merchandisin" makes the western pa#ement of $issin"
Street a 8olly
place when the li"hts are lit 0ll the shops were decorated
for the
,hristmas trade= the ,hristmas issues of the ma"a/ines
were 8ust out
and bri"htened the newsstands with their "lowin" co#ers
This section
of Brooklyn has a tone and atmosphere peculiarly &rench in
some parts:
one can 7uite ima"ine oneself in some smaller *arisian
fre7uented by the petit bour"eois %idway in this en"a"in"
animated block stands the Haunted Bookshop 0ubrey
could see its
windows lit, and the shel#ed masses of books within He
felt a se#ere
temptation to enter, but a certain bashfulness added itself to
desire to act in secret There was a pri#y e(hilaration in his
plan of
puttin" the bookshop under an unsuspected sur#eillance,
and he had the
emotion of one walkin" on the frontiers of ad#enture
So he kept on the opposite side of the street, which still
maintains an
unbroken row of 7uiet brown fronts, sa#e for the mo#ie
theatre at the
upper corner, opposite +eintraub9s Some of the basements
on this side
are occupied now by small tailors, laundries, and lace6
curtain cleaners
?lace curtains are still a fetish in Brooklyn@, but most of the
are still merely dwellin"s ,arryin" his ba", 0ubrey passed
the bri"ht
halo of the mo#ie theatre *osters announcin" THE
RET;R' O& T0RN0'
showed a kind of third chapter of $enesis scene with an
E#e in a sports
suit 0..E. 0TTR0,T!O', %r 0'. %rs S!.'E1
.RE+, he read
0 little way down the block he saw a si"n -0,0',!ES in
a parlour
window The house was nearly opposite the bookshop, and
he at once
mounted the tall steps to the front door and ran"
0 fawn6tinted coloured "irl, of the kind "enerally called
arri#ed presently ),an ! "et a room hereA) he asked )!
don9t know,
you9d better see %i/9 Schiller,) she said, without rancour
the customary compromise of untrained domestics, she did
not in#ite him
inside, but departed, lea#in" the door open to show that
there was no
ill will
0ubrey stepped into the hall and closed the door behind
him !n an
immense mirror the pale cheese6coloured flutter of a "as 8et
remotely reflected He noticed the Landseer en"ra#in"
hun" a"ainst
wallpaper desi"ned in facsimile of lar"e rectan"les of "ray
stone, and
the usual telephone memorandum for the usual %rs G &
Smith ?who
abides in all lod"in" houses@ tucked into the frame of the
+ill %rs Smith please call Stockton MLL4, it said 0
carpeted stair
with a fine old maho"any balustrade rose into the dimness
0ubrey, who
was thorou"hly familiar with lod"in"s, knew instincti#ely
that the
fourth, ninth, tenth, and fourteenth steps would be creakers
0 soft
musk sweetened the warm, torpid air: he di#ined that
someone was
toastin" marshmallows o#er a "as 8et He knew perfectly
well that
somewhere in the house would be a placard o#er a bathtub
with the
le"end: *lease lea#e this tub as you would wish to find it
%ifflin would ha#e said, after studyin" the hall, that
someone in the
house was sure to be readin" the poems of Rabbi Ta"ore=
but 0ubrey was
not so caustic
%rs Schiller came up the basement stairs, followed by a
small pu" do"
She was warm and stout, with a tendency to burst 8ust
under the
armpits She was friendly The pu" made merry o#er
0ubrey9s ankles
)Stop it, Treasure<) said %rs Schiller
),an ! "et a room hereA) asked 0ubrey, with "reat
)Third floor front9s the only thin" !9#e "ot,) she said )1ou
smoke in bed, do youA The last youn" man ! had burned
holes in three
of my sheets6666)
0ubrey reassured her
)! don9t "i#e meals)
)That9s all ri"ht,) said 0ubrey )Suits me)
)&i#e dollars a week,) she said
)%ay ! see itA)
%rs Schiller bri"htened the "as and led the way upstairs
skipped up the treads beside her The si"ht of the si( feet
to"ether amused 0ubrey The fourth, ninth, tenth, and
fourteenth steps
creaked, as he had "uessed they would On the landin" of
the second
storey a transom "ushed oran"e li"ht %rs Schiller was
pleased at not ha#in" to au"ment the "as on that landin"
;nder the
transom and behind a door 0ubrey could hear someone
ha#in" a bath, with
a "reat sloshin" of water He wondered irre#erently
whether it was
%rs G & Smith 0t any rate ?he felt sure@, it was some
habitue of lod"in"s, who knew that about fi#e6thirty in the
is the best time for a bath66before cookin" supper and the
ablutions of other tenants ha#e e(hausted the hot water
They climbed one more fli"ht The room was small,
occupyin" half the
third6floor fronta"e 0 lar"e window opened onto the
street, "i#in" a
plain #iew of the bookshop and the other houses across the
way 0
wash6stand stood modestly inside a lar"e cupboard O#er
the mantel was
the familiar picture66usually, howe#er, reser#ed for the
fourth floor
back66of a youn" lady ha#in" her shoes shined by a ribald
small boy
0ubrey was deli"hted )This is fine,) he said )Here9s a
week in
%rs Schiller was almost disconcerted by the rapidity of the
transaction She preferred to solemni/e the reception of a
new lod"er
by a little more talk66remarks about the weather, the
difficulty of
"ettin" )help,) the youn" women "uests who empty tea6
lea#es down
wash6basin pipes, and so on 0ll this sort of "ossip,
aimless, has a #ery real purpose: it enables the defenceless
to si/e up the stran"er who comes to prey upon her She
had hardly had
a "ood look at this "entleman, nor e#en knew his name, and
here he had
paid a week9s rent and was already installed
0ubrey di#ined the cause of her hesitation, and "a#e her his
)0ll ri"ht, %r $ilbert,) she said )!9ll send up the "irl with
clean towels and a latchkey)
0ubrey sat down in a rockin" chair by the window, tucked
the muslin
curtain to one side, and looked out upon the bri"ht channel
of $issin"
Street He was full of the e(hilaration that sprin"s from
any chan"e
of abode, but his romantic satisfaction in bein" so close to
adorable Titania was somewhat marred by a sense of
absurdity, which is
feared by youn" men more than wounds and death He
could see the
li"hted windows of the Haunted Bookshop 7uite plainly,
but he could not
think of any ade7uate e(cuse for "oin" o#er there 0nd
already he
reali/ed that to be near %iss ,hapman was not at all the
consolation he
had e(pected it would be He had a powerful desire to see
her He
turned off the "as, lit his pipe, opened the window, and
focussed the
opera "lasses on the door of the bookshop !t brou"ht the
tantali/in"ly near He could see the table at the front of the
Ro"er9s bulletin board under the electric li"ht, and one or
nondescript customers "leanin" alon" the shel#es Then
bounded #iolently under the third button of his shirt There
she was<
!n the bri"ht, prismatic little circle of the lenses he could
Titania Hea#enly creature, in her white -6necked blouse
and brown
skirt, there she was lookin" at a book He saw her put out
one arm and
cau"ht the twinkle of her wrist6watch !n the startlin"
familiarity of
the ma"nifyin" "lass he could see her bri"ht, unconscious
face, the
merry profile of her cheek and chin )The idea of that
workin" in a second6hand bookstore<) he e(claimed )!t9s
sacrile"e< Old man ,hapman must be cra/y)
He took out his py8amas and threw them on the bed= put his
and ra/or on the wash6basin, laid hairbrushes and O Henry
on the
bureau &eelin" rather serio6comic he loaded his small
re#ol#er and
hipped it !t was si( o9clock, and he wound his watch He
was a
little uncertain what to do: whether to keep a #i"il at the
with the opera "lasses, or "o down in the street where he
could watch
the bookshop more nearly !n the e(citement of the
ad#enture he had
for"otten all about the cut on his scalp, and felt 7uite
chipper !n
lea#in" %adison 0#enue he had attempted to e(cuse the
of his e(cursion by thinkin" that a 7uiet week6end in
Brooklyn would
"i#e him an opportunity to 8ot down some tentati#e ideas
for .aintybits
ad#ertisin" copy which he planned to submit to his chief on
But now that he was here he felt the impossibility of
attackin" any
such humdrum task How could he sit down in cold blood
to de#ise any
)attention6compellin") lay6outs for .aintybits Tapioca and
,herished Sarato"a ,hips, when the daintiest bit of all was
only a few
yards awayA &or the first time was made plain to him the
ama/in" power
of youn" women to interfere with the le"itimate commerce
of the world
He did "et so far as to take out his pad of writin" paper and
8ot down
,H0*%0'9S ,HER!SHE. ,H!*S
These delicate wafers, crisped by a secret process, cherish
in their
uni7ue tan" and fla#our all the life6"i#in" nutriment that
has made the
potato the Kin" of -e"etables6666
But the face of %iss Titania kept comin" between his hand
and brain
Of what a#ail to flood the world with ,hapman ,hips if the
"irl herself
should come to any harmA )+as this the face that launched
a thousand
chipsA) he murmured, and for an instant wished he had
brou"ht The
O(ford Book of En"lish -erse instead of O Henry
0 tap sounded at his door, and %rs Schiller appeared
)Telephone for
you, %r $ilbert,) she said
)&or %EA) said 0ubrey in ama/ement How could it be for
him, he
thou"ht, for no one knew he was there
)The party on the wire asked to speak to the "entleman who
about half an hour a"o, and ! "uess you must be the one he
).id he say who he isA) asked 0ubrey
)'o, sir)
&or a moment 0ubrey thou"ht of refusin" to answer the
call Then it
occurred to him that this would arouse %rs Schiller9s
suspicions He
ran down to the telephone, which stood under the stairs in
the front
)Hello,) he said
)!s this the new "uestA) said a #oice66a deep, "ar"lin" kind
of #oice
)1es,) said 0ubrey
)!s this the "entleman that arri#ed half an hour a"o with a
)1es= who are youA)
)!9m a friend,) said the #oice= )! wish you well)
)How do you do, friend and well6wisher,) said 0ubrey
)! schust want to warn you that $issin" Street is not healthy
for you,)
said the #oice
)!s that soA) said 0ubrey sharply )+ho are youA)
)! am a friend,) bu//ed the recei#er There was a harsh,
bass note in
the #oice that made the diaphra"m at 0ubrey9s ear #ibrate
0ubrey "rew an"ry
)+ell, Herr &reund,) he said, )if you9re the well6wisher !
met on the
Brid"e last ni"ht, watch your step !9#e "ot your number)
There was a pause Then the other repeated, ponderously,
)! am a
friend $issin" Street is not healthy for you) There was a
and he had run" off
0ubrey was a "ood deal perple(ed He returned to his
room, and sat in
the dark by the window, smokin" a pipe and thinkin", with
his eyes on
the bookshop
There was no lon"er any doubt in his mind that somethin"
sinister was
afoot He re#iewed in memory the e#ents of the past few
!t was on %onday that a booklo#in" friend had first told
him of the
e(istence of the shop on $issin" Street On Tuesday
e#enin" he had
"one round to #isit the place, and had stayed to supper with
%ifflin On +ednesday and Thursday he had been busy at
the office, and
the idea of an intensi#e .aintybit campai"n in Brooklyn
had occurred to
him On &riday he had dined with %r ,hapman, and had
run into a
curious strin" of coincidences He tabulated them:66
?4@ The Lost ad in the Times on &riday mornin"
?2@ The chef in the ele#ator carryin" the book that was
supposed to be
lost66he bein" the same man 0ubrey had seen in the
bookshop on Tuesday
?E@ Seein" the chef a"ain on $issin" Street
?B@ The return of the book to the bookshop
?C@ %ifflin had said that the book had been stolen from
him Then why
should it be either ad#ertised or returnedA
?M@ The rebindin" of the book
?L@ &indin" the ori"inal co#er of the book in +eintraub9s
dru" store
?3@ The affair on the Brid"e
?5@ The telephone messa"e from )a friend)66a friend with
an ob#iously
Teutonic #oice
He remembered the face of an"er and fear displayed by the
Octa"on chef
when he had spoken to him in the ele#ator ;ntil this oddly
telephone messa"e, he could ha#e e(plained the attack on
the Brid"e as
merely a hapha/ard foot6pad enterprise= but now he was
forced to
conclude that it was in some way connected with his #isits
to the
bookshop He felt, too, that in some unknown way
+eintraub9s dru"
store had somethin" to do with it +ould he ha#e been
attacked if he
had not taken the book co#er from the dru" storeA He "ot
the co#er out
of his ba" and looked at it a"ain !t was of plain blue cloth,
the title stamped in "old on the back, and at the bottom the
London: ,hapman and Hall &rom the width of the
backstrap it was
e#ident that the book had been a fat one !nside the front
co#er the
fi"ure MD was written in red pencil66this he took to be
Ro"er %ifflin9s
price mark !nside the back co#er he found the followin"
#ol E664MM, 4LB, 24D, E25, EB5
E25 ff cf + +
These references were written in black ink, in a small, neat
Below them, in 7uite a different script and in pale #iolet
ink, was
4CE ?E@ 4, 2
)! suppose these are pa"e numbers,) 0ubrey thou"ht )!
think !9d
better ha#e a look at that book)
He put the co#er in his pocket and went out for a bite of
)!t9s a pu//le with three sides to it,) he thou"ht, as he
descended the
crepitant stairs, )The Bookshop, the Octa"on, and
+eintraub9s= but that
book seems to be the clue to the whole business)
,hapter -!!!
0ubrey $oes to the %o#ies, and +ishes he Knew %ore
0 few doors from the bookshop was a small lunchroom
named after the
"reat city of %ilwaukee, one of those pleasant refectories
where the
diner buys his food at the counter and eats it sittin" in a
chair 0ubrey "ot a bowl of soup, a cup of coffee, beef
stew, and bran
muffins, and took them to an empty seat by the window
He ate with one
eye on the street &rom his place in the corner he could
command the
strip of pa#ement in front of %ifflin9s shop Halfway
throu"h the stew
he saw Ro"er come out onto the pa#ement and be"in to
remo#e the books
from the bo(es
0fter finishin" his supper he lit one of his )mild but they
ci"arettes and sat in the comfortable warmth of a near6by
radiator 0
lar"e black cat lay sprawled on the ne(t chair ;p at the
counter there was a pleasant clank of stout crockery as
customers came in and ordered their #ictuals 0ubrey
be"an to feel a
rela(ation swim throu"h his #eins $issin" Street was #ery
bri"ht and
orderly in its Saturday e#enin" bustle ,ertainly it was
"rotes7ue to
ima"ine melodrama han"in" about a second6hand
bookshop in Brooklyn
The re#ol#er felt absurdly lumpy and uncomfortable in his
hip pocket
+hat a different aspect a little hot supper "i#es to affairs<
The most
resolute idealist or assassin had better write his poems or
plan his
atrocities before the e#enin" meal 0fter the narcosis of
that repast
the spirit falls into a softer mood, ea"er only to be amused
%ilton would hardly ha#e had the inhuman fortitude to sit
down to the
manuscript of *aradise Lost ri"ht after supper 0ubrey
be"an to wonder
if his unpleasant suspicions had not been o#erdrawn He
thou"ht how
deli"htful it would be to stop in at the bookshop and ask
Titania to "o
to the mo#ies with him
,urious ma"ic of thou"ht< The idea was still sparklin" in
his mind
when he saw Titania and %rs %ifflin emer"e from the
bookshop and pass
briskly in front of the lunchroom They were talkin" and
merrily Titania9s face, shinin" with youn" #itality, seemed
to him
more )attention6compellin") than any ten6point ,aslon
he had e#er seen He admired the layout of her face from
standpoint of his cherished techni7ue )Gust enou"h 9white
space,9) he
thou"ht, )to set off her eyes as the 9centre of interest9 Her
aren9t this modern bold6face stuff, set solid,) he said to
thinkin" typo"raphically )They9re rather &rench old6style
sli"htly leaded Set on 226point body, ! "uess Old man
,hapman9s a
pretty "ood typefounder, you ha#e to hand it to him)
He smiled at this conceit, sei/ed hat and coat, and dashed
out of the
%rs %ifflin and Titania had halted a few yards up the
street, and were
lookin" at some pert little bonnets in a window 0ubrey
hurried across
the street, ran up to the ne(t corner, recrossed, and walked
down the
eastern pa#ement !n this way he would meet them as
thou"h he were
comin" from the subway He felt rather more e(cited than
Kin" 0lbert
re6enterin" Brussels He saw them comin", chatterin"
to"ether in the
deli"htful fashion of women out on a spree Helen seemed
much youn"er
in the company of her companion )0 linin" of pussy6
willow taffeta and
an embroidered slip6on,) she was sayin"
0ubrey steered onto them with an admirable "esture of
)+ell, ! ne#er<) said %rs %ifflin )Here9s %r $ilbert
+ere you
comin" to see Ro"erA) she added, rather en8oyin" the
youn" man9s
Titania shook hands cordially 0ubrey, searchin" the old6
style italics
with the desperate intensity of a proof6reader, saw no
e#idence of
cha"rin at seein" him a"ain so soon
)+hy,) he said rather lamely, )! was comin" to see you all
wondered how you were "ettin" alon")
%rs %ifflin had pity on him )+e9#e left %r %ifflin to
look after
the shop,) she said )He9s busy with some of his old crony
+hy don9t you come with us to the mo#iesA)
)1es, do,) said Titania )!t9s %r and %rs Sidney .rew,
you know how
adorable they are<)
'o one needs to be told how 7uickly 0ubrey assented
coincided with duty in that the outer win" of the party
placed him ne(t
to Titania
)+ell, how do you like booksellin"A) he asked
)Oh, it9s the "reatest fun<) she cried )But it9ll take me e#er
e#er so lon" to learn about all the books *eople ask such
0 woman came in this afternoon lookin" for a copy of
Blase Tales How
was ! to know she wanted The Bla/ed TrailA)
)1ou9ll "et used to that,) said %rs %ifflin )Gust a minute,
! want to stop in at the dru" store)
They went into +eintraub9s pharmacy Entranced as he
was by the
pro(imity of %iss ,hapman, 0ubrey noticed that the
dru""ist eyed him
rather 7ueerly 0nd bein" of a noticin" habit, he also
obser#ed that
when +eintraub had occasion to write out a label for a bo(
of powdered
alum %rs %ifflin was buyin", he did so with a pale #iolet
0t the "lass sentry6bo( in front of the theatre 0ubrey
insisted on
buyin" the tickets
)+e came out ri"ht after supper,) said Titania as they
entered, )so as
to "et in before the crowd)
!t is not so easy, howe#er, to "et ahead of Brooklyn mo#ie
fans They
had to stand for se#eral minutes in a packed lobby while a
stern youn"
man held the waitin" crowd in check with a #el#et rope
sustained deli"htful spasms of the protecti#e instinct in
tryin" to
shelter Titania from buffets and pushin"s ;nknown to her,
his arm
e(tended behind her like an iron rod to absorb the onward
impulses of
the ea"er thron" 0 rustlin" "roan ran throu"h these
enthusiasts as
they saw the preliminary foota"e of the "reat Tar/an flash
onto the
screen, and reali/ed they were missin" somethin" 0t last,
the trio "ot throu"h the barrier and found three seats well in
at one side &rom this an"le the flyin" pictures were
distorted, but 0ubrey did not mind
)!sn9t it lucky ! "ot here when ! did,) whispered Titania
%ifflin has 8ust had a telephone call from *hiladelphia
askin" him to
"o o#er on %onday to make an estimate on a library that9s
"oin" to be
sold so !9ll be able to look after the shop for him while he9s
)!s that soA) said 0ubrey )+ell, now, !9#e "ot to be in
Brooklyn on
%onday, on business %aybe %rs %ifflin would let me
come in and buy
some books from you)
),ustomers always welcome,) said %rs %ifflin
)!9#e taken a fancy to that ,romwell book,) said 0ubrey
)+hat do you
suppose %r %ifflin would sell it forA)
)! think that book must be #aluable,) said Titania
)Somebody came in
this afternoon and wanted to buy it, but %r %ifflin
wouldn9t part with
it He says it9s one of his fa#ourites $racious, what a
weird film
this is<)
The fantastic absurdities of Tar/an proceeded on the screen,
celluloid passions to tatters, but 0ubrey found the stron"
man of the
8un"le comin" almost too close to his own imperious
instincts +as not
he, too66he thou"ht nai#ely66a poor Tar/an of the
ad#ertisin" 8un"le,
lost amon" the elephants and alli"ators of commerce, and
si"hin" for
this dainty and unattainable #ision of "irlhood that had
burst upon his
burnin" "a/e< He stole a perilous side6"lance at her profile,
and saw
the racin" flicker of the screen reflected in tiny span"les of
that danced in her eyes He was e#en so unknowin" as to
ima"ine that
she was not aware of his contemplation 0nd then the
li"hts went up
)+hat nonsense, wasn9t itA) said Titania )!9m so "lad it9s
o#er< !
was 7uite afraid one of those elephants would walk off the
screen and
tread on us)
)! ne#er can understand,) said Helen, )why they don9t film
some of the
really "ood books66think of &rank Stockton9s stuff, how
deli"htful that
would be ,an9t you ima"ine %r and %rs .rew playin" in
)Thank "oodness<) said Titania )Since ! entered the book
that9s the first time anybody9s mentioned a book that !9#e
1es66do you remember when *omona and Gonas #isit an
insane asylum on
their honeymoonA .o you know, you and %r %ifflin
remind me a little
of %r and %rs .rew)
Helen and 0ubrey chuckled at this innocent correlation of
ideas Then
the or"an be"an to play )O How ! Hate To $et ;p in the
%ornin") and the
e#er6deli"htful %r and %rs .rew appeared on the screen
in one of
their domestic comedies Lo#ers of the mo#ies may well
date a new
screen era from the day those whimsical pantomimers set
their wholesome
and humane talent at the ser#ice of the arc li"ht and the
lens 0ubrey
felt a serene and intimate pleasure in watchin" them from a
seat beside
Titania He knew that the breakfast table scene shadowed
before them
was only a makeshift section of lath propped up in some
barnlike motion
picture studio= yet his rocketin" fancy ima"ined it as some
suburb where he and Titania, by a 8u""lery of beni"n fate,
bun"alowed to"ether 1oun" men ha#e a pioneerin"
ima"ination: it is
doubtful whether any youn" Orlando e#er found himself
side by side with
Rosalind without dreamin" himself wedded to her !f men
die a thousand
deaths before this mortal coil is shuffled, e#en so surely do
contract a thousand marria"es before they "o to the ,ity
Hall for a
0ubrey remembered the opera "lasses, which were still in
his pocket,
and brou"ht them out The trio amused themsel#es by
watchin" Sidney
.rew9s face throu"h the ma"nifyin" lenses They were
disappointed in
the result, howe#er, as the pictures, when so enlar"ed,
re#ealed all
the cobweb of fine cracks on the film %r .rew9s nose, the
amusin" feature known to the mo#ies, lost its 7uaintness
when so
)+hy,) cried Titania, )it makes his lo#ely nose look like the
map of
)How on earth did you happen to ha#e these in your
pocketA) asked %rs
%ifflin, returnin" the "lasses
0ubrey was hard pressed for a prompt and reasonable fib,
ad#ertisin" men are resourceful
)Oh,) he said, )! sometimes carry them with me at ni"ht to
study the
ad#ertisin" sky6si"ns !9m a little short si"hted 1ou see,
it9s part
of my business to study the techni7ue of the electric si"ns)
0fter some current e#ent pictures the pro"ramme prepared
to repeat
itself, and they went out )+ill you come in and ha#e some
cocoa with
usA) said Helen as they reached the door of the bookshop
0ubrey was
ea"er enou"h to accept, but feared to o#erplay his hand
)!9m sorry,)
he said, )but ! think !9d better not !9#e "ot some work to do
to6ni"ht *erhaps ! can drop in on %onday when %r
%ifflin9s away, and
put coal on the furnace for you, or somethin" of that sortA)
%rs %ifflin lau"hed )Surely<) she said )1ou9re welcome
any time)
The door closed behind them, and 0ubrey fell into a
melancholy .epri#ed of the hea#enly rhetoric of her eye,
Street seemed flat and dull
!t was still early66not 7uite ten o9clock66and it occurred to
that if he was "oin" to patrol the nei"hbourhood he had
better fi( its
details in his head Ha/litt, the ne(t street below the
pro#ed to be a 7uiet little byway, cheerfully lit with modest
dwellin"s 0 few paces down Ha/litt Street a narrow
cobbled alley ran
throu"h to +ordsworth 0#enue, passin" between the back
yards of $issin"
Street and +hittier Street The alley was totally dark, but
countin" off the correct number of houses 0ubrey
identified the rear
entrance of the bookshop He tried the yard "ate
cautiously, and found
it unlocked $lancin" in he could see a li"ht in the kitchen
and assumed that the cocoa was bein" brewed Then a
window "lowed
upstairs, and he was thrilled to see Titania shinin" in the
She mo#ed to the window and pulled down the blind &or a
moment he saw
her head and shoulders silhouetted a"ainst the curtain= then
the li"ht
went out
0ubrey stood briefly in sentimental thou"ht !f he only had
a couple
of blankets, he mused, he could camp out here in Ro"er9s
back yard all
ni"ht Surely no harm could come to the "irl while he kept
beneath her casement< The idea was 8ust fantastic enou"h
to appeal to
him Then, as he stood in the open "ateway, he heard
distant footfalls
comin" down the alley, and a "rumble of #oices *erhaps
two policemen
on their rounds, he thou"ht: it would be awkward to be
skulkin" about back doors at this time of ni"ht He slipped
inside the
"ate and closed it "ently behind him, takin" the precaution
to slip the
The footsteps came nearer, stumblin" down the une#en
cobbles in the
darkness He stood still a"ainst the back fence To his
ama/ement the
men halted outside %ifflin9s "ate, and he heard the latch
)!t9s no use,) said a #oice66)the "ate is locked +e must
find some
other way, my friend)
0ubrey tin"led to hear the rollin", throaty )r) in the last
There was no mistakin"66this was the #oice of his )friend
well6wisher) o#er the telephone
The other said somethin" in $erman in a hoarse whisper
Ha#in" studied
that lan"ua"e in colle"e, 0ubrey cau"ht only two words66
Thur and
Schlussel, which he knew meant door and key
)-ery well,) said the first #oice )That will be all ri"ht, but
must act to6ni"ht The damned thin" must be finished to6
morrow 1our
idiotic stupidity66)
0"ain followed some "ar"lin" in $erman, in a rapid
undertone too fluent
for 0ubrey9s "rasp The latch of the alley "ate clicked once
more, and
his hand was on his re#ol#er= but in a moment the two had
passed on
down the alley
The youn" ad#ertisin" a"ent stood a"ainst the fence in
silent horror,
his heart bumpin" hea#ily His hands were clammy, his
feet seemed to
ha#e "rown lar"er and taken root +hat damnable complot
was thisA 0
sultry wa#e of an"er passed o#er him This bland, slick,
bookseller, was he arran"in" some blackmailin" scheme to
kidnap the
"irl and wrin" blood6money out of her fatherA 0nd in
lea"ue with
$ermans, too, the scoundrel< +hat an asinine thin" for old
,hapman to
send an unprotected "irl o#er here into the wilds of
Brooklyn and
in the meantime, what was he to doA *atrol the back yard
all ni"htA
'o, the friend and well6wisher had said )+e must find
some other way)
Besides, 0ubrey remembered somethin" ha#in" been said
about the old
terrier sleepin" in the kitchen He felt sure Bock would not
let any
$erman in at ni"ht without raisin" the roof *robably the
best way
would be to watch the front of the shop !n miserable
perple(ity he
waited se#eral minutes until the two $ermans would be
well out of
earshot Then he unbolted the "ate and stole up the alley
on tiptoe,
in the opposite direction !t led into +ordsworth 0#enue
8ust behind
+eintraub9s dru" store, o#er the rear of which hun" the
"reat "irders
and trestles of the )L) station, a kind of Swiss chalet
straddlin" the
street on stilts He thou"ht it prudent to make a detour, so
he turned
east on +ordsworth 0#enue until he reached +hittier
Street, then
sauntered easily down +hittier for a block, spyin" sharply
e#idences of pursuit Brooklyn was puttin" out its li"hts
for the
ni"ht, and all was 7uiet He turned into Ha/litt Street and
so back
onto $issin", noticin" now that the Haunted Bookshop
li"hts were off
!t was nearly ele#en o9clock: the last audience was filin"
out of the
mo#ie theatre, where two workmen were already perched
on ladders takin"
down the Tar/an electric li"ht si"n, to substitute the
letterin" for the ne(t feature
0fter some debate he decided that the best thin" to do was
to return to
his room at %rs Schiller9s, from which he could keep a
sharp watch on
the front door of the bookshop By "ood fortune there was
a lamp post
almost directly in front of %ifflin9s house, which cast
plenty of li"ht
on the little sunken area before the door +ith his opera
"lasses he
could see from his bedroom whate#er went on 0s he
crossed the street
he cast his eyes upward at the facade of %rs Schiller9s
house Two
windows in the fourth storey were lit, and the "as burned
minutely in
the downstairs hall, elsewhere all was dark 0nd then, as
he "lanced
at the window of his own chamber, where the curtain was
still tucked
back behind the pane, he noticed a curious thin" 0 small
point of
rosy li"ht "lowed, faded, and "lowed a"ain by the window
Someone was
smokin" a ci"ar in his room
0ubrey continued walkin" in e#en stride, as thou"h he had
seen nothin"
Returnin" down the street, on the opposite side, he #erified
his first
"lance The li"ht was still there, and he 8ud"ed himself not
far out
in assumin" the smoker to be the friend and well6wisher or
one of his
"an" He had suspected the other man in the alley of bein"
but he could not be sure 0 cautious "lance throu"h the
window of the
dru" store re#ealed +eintraub at his prescription counter
determined to "et e#en with the "uttural "entleman who
was waitin" for
him, certainly with no affectionate intent He thanked the
fortune that had led him to stick the book co#er in his
o#ercoat pocket
when lea#in" %rs Schiller9s E#idently, for reasons
unknown, someone
was #ery an(ious to "et hold of it
0n idea occurred to him as he passed the little florist9s
shop, which
was 8ust closin" He entered and bou"ht a do/en white
carnations, and
then, as if by an afterthou"ht, asked )Ha#e you any wireA)
The florist produced a spool of the slender, tou"h wire that
sometimes used to nip the buds of e(pensi#e roses, to
pre#ent them from
blossomin" too 7uickly
)Let me ha#e about ei"ht feet,) said 0ubrey )! need some
to6ni"ht and
! "uess the hardware stores are all closed)
+ith this he returned to %rs Schiller9s, pickin" his way
carefully and
close to the houses so as to be out of si"ht from the upstairs
He climbed the steps and unlatched the door with bated
breath !t was
half6past ele#en, and he wondered how lon" he would ha#e
to wait for
the well6wisher to descend
He could not help chucklin" as he made his preparations,
rememberin" an
occasion at colle"e somewhat similar in settin" thou"h far
less serious
in purpose &irst he took off his shoes, layin" them
carefully to one
side where he could find them a"ain in a hurry Then,
choosin" a
banister about si( feet from the bottom of the stairs he
attached one
end of the wire ti"htly to its base and spread the slack in a
loop o#er two of the stair treads The remainin" end of the
wire he
passed out throu"h the banisters, twistin" it into a small
loop so that
he could pull it easily Then he turned out the hall "as and
sat down
in the dark to wait e#ents
He sat for a lon" time, in some ner#ousness lest the pu"
do" mi"ht come
prowlin" and find him He was startled by a lady in a
"own66perhaps %rs G & Smith66who emer"ed from a
"round6floor room
passed #ery close to him in the dark, and muttered upstairs
twitched his noose out of the way 8ust in time *resently,
his patience was rewarded He heard a door s7ueak abo#e,
and then the
"roanin" of the staircase as someone descended slowly He
relaid his
trap and waited, smilin" to himself 0 clock somewhere in
the house
was chimin" twel#e as the man came "ropin" down the last
feelin" his way in the dark 0ubrey heard him swearin"
under his
0t the precise moment, when both his #ictim9s feet were
within the
loop, 0ubrey "a#e the wire a "i"antic tu" The man fell
like a safe,
crashin" a"ainst the banisters and landin" in a sprawl on
the floor
!t was a terrific fall, and shook the house He lay there
"roanin" and
Barely retainin" his lau"hter, 0ubrey struck a match and
held it o#er
the sprawlin" fi"ure The man lay with his face twisted
a"ainst one
out6spread arm, but the beard was unmistakable !t was the
chef a"ain, and he seemed partly unconscious )Burnt hair
is a "rand
restorati#e,) said 0ubrey to himself, and applied the match
to the bush
of beard He sin"ed off a couple of inches of it with intense
and laid his carnations on the head of the stricken one
Then, hearin"
stirrin"s in the basement, he "athered up his wire and shoes
and fled
upstairs He "ained his room roarin" with inward mirth,
but entered
cautiously, fearin" some trap Sa#e for a stron" tincture of
smoke, e#erythin" seemed correct Listenin" at his door he
heard %rs
Schiller e(claimin" shrilly in the hall, assisted by yappin"s
from the
pu" .oors upstairs were opened, and 7uestions were
called out He
heard "uttural "roans from the bearded one, min"led with
oaths and some
an"ry remark about ha#in" fallen downstairs The pu",
fren/ied with
e(citement, yelled insanely 0 female #oice66possibly %rs
G &
Smith66cried out )+hat9s that smell of burnin"A) Someone
else said,
)They9re burnin" feathers under his nose to brin" him to)
)1es, Hun9s feathers,) chuckled 0ubrey to himself He
locked his door,
and sat down by the window with his opera "lasses
,hapter !F
0"ain the 'arrati#e is Retarded
Ro"er had spent a 7uiet e#enin" in the bookshop Sittin" at
his desk
under a fo" of tobacco, he had honestly intended to do
some writin" on
the twelfth chapter of his "reat work on booksellin" This
chapter was
to be an ?alas, entirely con8ectural@ )0ddress .eli#ered by a
Bookseller on Bein" ,onferred the Honorary .e"ree of
.octor of Letters
by a Leadin" ;ni#ersity,) and it presented so many allurin"
possibilities that Ro"er9s mind always wandered from the
paper into
entranced #isions of his ima"ined scene He lo#ed to build
up in fancy
the flatterin" details of that fine ceremony when
booksellin" would at
last be properly reco"ni/ed as one of the learned
professions He
could see the "reat auditorium, filled with culti#ated
people: men
with Emersonian profiles, ladies whisperin" behind their
pro"rammes He could see the academic beadle, proctor,
dean ?or
whate#er he is, Ro"er was a little doubtful@ pronouncin"
the au"ust
words of presentation66
0 man who, in season and out of season, for"ettin" pri#ate
"ain for
public weal, has laboured with *romethean and sacrificial
ardour to
instil the lo#e of reasonable letters into countless
thousands= to
whom, and to whose collea"ues, amid the perishable
caducity of human
affairs, is lar"ely due the pullulation of literary taste= in
whom we seek to honour the noble and self6effacin"
profession of which
he is so representati#e a member6666
Then he could see the modest bookseller, somewhat
clammy in his
e(tremities and lost within his academic robe and hood,
fid"etin" his mortar6board, haled forward by ushers, and
rubescent before the chancellor, pro#ost, president ?or
whoe#er it
mi"ht be@ who hands out the diploma Then ?in Ro"er9s
#ision@ he could
see the "arlanded bibliopole turnin" to the e(pectant
audience, "i#in"
his trailin" "own a deft rearward kick as the ladies do on
the sta"e,
and utterin", without hesitation or embarrassment, with due
interpolation of "raceful pleasantry, that learned and
discourse on the deli"hts of bookishness that he had often
dreamed of
Then he could see the ensuin" reception: the distin"uished
crowdin" round= the plates of macaroons, the cups of
untasted tea= the
ladies twitterin", )'ow there9s somethin" ! want to ask
you66why are
there so many statues to "enerals, admirals, parsons,
statesmen, scientists, artists, and authors, but no statues to
,ontemplation of this "litterin" scene always lured Ro"er
fantastic dreams E#er since he had tra#elled country
roads, some
years before, sellin" books from a #an drawn by a fat white
horse, he
had nourished a secret hope of some day foundin" a
*arnassus on +heels
,orporation which would own a fleet of these #ans and
send them out
into the rural byways where bookstores are unknown He
lo#ed to
ima"ine a "reat map of 'ew 1ork State, with the daily
location of each
tra#ellin" *arnassus marked by a coloured pin He
dreamed of himself,
sittin" in some #ast central warehouse of second6hand
books, porin"
o#er his map like a military chief of staff and forwardin"
cases of
literary ammunition to #arious bases where his #ans would
His idea was that his tra#ellin" salesmen could be recruited
from colle"e professors, parsons, and newspaper men, who
were weary of
their thankless tasks, and would welcome an opportunity to
"et out on
the road One of his hopes was that he mi"ht interest %r
,hapman in
this superb scheme, and he had a #ision of the day when the
shares of
the *arnassus on +heels ,orporation would pay a
handsome di#idend and
be much sou"ht after by serious in#estors
These thou"hts turned his mind toward his brother6in6law
0ndrew %c$ill,
the author of se#eral en"a"in" books on the 8oys of country
li#in", who
dwells at the Sabine &arm in the "reen elbow of a
,onnecticut #alley
The ori"inal *arnassus, a 7uaint old blue wa"on in which
Ro"er had
li#ed and 8ourneyed and sold books o#er se#eral thousand
miles of
country roads in the days before his marria"e, was now
housed in
0ndrew9s barn *e", his fat white horse, had lod"in" there
also !t
occurred to Ro"er that he owed 0ndrew a letter, and puttin"
aside his
notes for the bookseller9s colle"iate oration, he be"an to
4ME $issin" Street, Brooklyn,
'o#ember ED, 4543
%1 .E0R 0'.RE+:
!t is scandalous not to ha#e thanked you sooner for the
annual cask of
cider, which has "i#en us e#en more than the customary
pleasure This
has been an autumn when ! ha#e been hard put to it to keep
up with my
own thou"hts, and !9#e written no letters at all Like
e#eryone else !
am thinkin" constantly of this new peace that has
mar#ellously come
upon us ! trust we may ha#e statesmen who will be able to
turn it to
the benefit of humanity ! wish there could be an
international peace
conference of booksellers, for ?you will smile at this@ my
con#iction is that the future happiness of the world depends
in no
small measure on them and on the librarians ! wonder
what a $erman
bookseller is likeA
!9#e been readin" The Education of Henry 0dams and wish
he mi"ht ha#e
li#ed lon" enou"h to "i#e us his thou"hts on the +ar ! fear
it would
ha#e bowled him o#er He thou"ht that this is not a world
sensiti#e and timid natures can re"ard without a shudder)
+hat would
he ha#e said of the four6year shambles we ha#e watched
with sickened
1ou remember my fa#ourite poem66old $eor"e Herbert9s
*orch66where he says66
By all means use sometimes to be alone=
Salute thyself= see what thy soul doth wear=
.are to look in thy chest, for 9tis thine own,
0nd tumble up and down what thou find9st there66
+ell, !9#e been tumblin" my thou"hts up and down a "ood
%elancholy, ! suppose, is the curse of the thinkin" classes=
but !
confess my soul wears a "reat uneasiness these days< The
sudden and
ama/in" turno#er in human affairs, dramatic beyond
anythin" in history,
already seems to be taken as a matter of course %y "reat
fear is that
humanity will for"et the atrocious sufferin"s of the war,
which ha#e
ne#er been told ! am hopin" and prayin" that men like
*hilip $ibbs
may tell us what they really saw
1ou will not a"ree with me on what ! am about to say, for !
know you as
a stubborn Republican= but ! thank fortune that +ilson is
"oin" to the
*eace ,onference !9#e been mullin" o#er one of my
fa#ourite books66it
lies beside me as ! write66,romwell9s Letters and Speeches,
edited by
,arlyle, with what ,arlyle amusin"ly calls )Elucidations)
?,arlyle is
not #ery "ood at )elucidatin") anythin"<@ ! ha#e heard
somewhere or
other that this is one of +ilson9s fa#ourite books, and
indeed, there
is much of the ,romwell in him +ith what a "rim,
co#enantin" /eal he
took up the sword when at last it was forced into his hand<
0nd ! ha#e
been thinkin" that what he will say to the *eace ,onference
will smack
stron"ly of what old Oli#er used to say to *arliament in
4MCL and
4MC366)!f we will ha#e *eace without a worm in it, lay we
of Gustice and Ri"hteousness) +hat makes +ilson so
irritatin" to the
unthou"htful is that he operates e(clusi#ely upon reason,
not upon
passion He contradicts Kiplin"9s famous lines, which
apply to most
-ery rarely will he s7uarely push the lo"ic of a fact
To its ultimate conclusion in unmiti"ated act
!n this instance, ! think, Reason is "oin" to win ! feel the
current of the world settin" in that direction
!t9s 7uaint to think of old +oodrow, a kind of ,romwell6
"oin" o#er to do his bit amon" the diplomatic shell6craters
+hat !9m
waitin" for is the day when he9ll "et back into pri#ate life
and write
a book about it There9s a 8ob, if you like, for a man who
reasonably be supposed to be pretty tired in body and soul<
+hen that
book comes out !9ll spend the rest of my life in sellin" it !
nothin" better< Speakin" of +ordsworth, !9#e often
wondered whether
+oodrow hasn9t "ot some poems concealed somewhere
amon" his papers<
!9#e always ima"ined that he may ha#e written poems on
the sly 0nd by
the way, you needn9t make fun of me for bein" so de#oted
to $eor"e
Herbert .o you reali/e that two of the most familiar
7uotations in
our lan"ua"e come from his pen, #i/:
+ouldst thou both eat thy cake, and ha#e itA
.are to be true: nothin" can need a ly=
0 fault, which needs it most, "rows two thereby
&or"i#e this tedious sermon< %y mind has been so
tumbled up and down
this autumn that ! am in a 7ueer state of min"led
melancholy and
e(altation 1ou know how much ! li#e in and for books
+ell, ! ha#e a
curious feelin", a kind of premonition that there are "reat
comin" out of this welter of human hopes and an"uishes,
perhaps 0 book
in which the tempest6shaken soul of the race will speak out
as it ne#er
has before The Bible, you know, is rather a
disappointment: it has
ne#er done for humanity what it should ha#e done !
wonder whyA +alt
+hitman is "oin" to do a "reat deal, but he is not 7uite
what ! mean
There is somethin" comin"66! don9t know 8ust what< !
thank $od ! am a
bookseller, traffickin" in the dreams and beauties and
curiosities of
humanity rather than some mere huckster of merchandise
But how
helpless we all are when we try to tell what "oes on within
us< !
found this in one of Lafcadio Hearn9s letters the other day66
! marked
the passa"e for you
Baudelaire has a touchin" poem about an albatross, which
you would
like66describin" the poet9s soul superb in its own free
helpless, insulted, u"ly, clumsy when stri#in" to walk on
earth66or rather, on a deck, where sailors torment it with
pipes, etc
1ou can ima"ine what e#enin"s ! ha#e here amon" my
shel#es, now the
lon" dark ni"hts are come< Of course until ten o9clock,
when ! shut up
shop, ! am constantly interrupted66as ! ha#e been durin"
this letter,
once to sell a copy of Helen9s Babies and once to sell The
Ballad of
Readin" $aol, so you can see how #aried are my clients9
tastes< But
later on, after we ha#e had our e#enin" cocoa and Helen
has "one to
bed, ! prowl about the place, dippin" into this and that,
myself with speculation How clear and bri"ht the stream
of the mind
flows in those late hours, after all the sediment and floatin"
trash of
the day has drained off< Sometimes ! seem to coast the
#ery shore of
Beauty or Truth, and hear the surf breakin" on those
shinin" sands
Then some offshore wind of weariness or pre8udice bears
me away a"ain
Ha#e you e#er come across 0ndreye#9s ,onfessions of a
Little %an .urin"
$reat .aysA One of the honest books of the +ar The
Little %an ends
his confession thus66
%y an"er has left me, my sadness returned, and once more
the tears
flow +hom can ! curse, whom can ! 8ud"e, when we are
all alike
unfortunateA Sufferin" is uni#ersal= hands are outstretched
to each
other, and when they touch the "reat solution will come
heart is a"low, and ! stretch out my hand and cry, ),ome,
let us 8oin
hands< ! lo#e you, ! lo#e you<)
0nd of course, as soon as one puts one9s self in that frame
of mind
someone comes alon" and picks your pocket ! suppose
we must
teach oursel#es to be too proud to mind ha#in" our pockets
.id it e#er occur to you that the world is really "o#erned by
The course of this country in the +ar, for instance, has been
determined by the books +ilson has read since he first
be"an to think<
!f we could ha#e a list of the principal books he has read
since the
+ar be"an, how interestin" it would be
Here9s somethin" !9m 8ust copyin" out to put up on my
bulletin board
for my customers to ponder !t was written by ,harles
Sorley, a youn"
En"lishman who was killed in &rance in 454C He was
only twenty years
TO $ER%0'1
1ou are blind like us 1our hurt no man desi"ned,
0nd no man claimed the con7uest of your land
But "ropers both throu"h fields of thou"ht confined
+e stumble and we do not understand
1ou only saw your future bi"ly planned,
0nd we, the taperin" paths of our own mind,
0nd in each other9s dearest ways we stand,
0nd hiss and hate 0nd the blind fi"ht the blind
+hen it is peace, then we may #iew a"ain
+ith new6won eyes each other9s truer form
0nd wonder $rown more lo#in"6kind and warm
+e9ll "rasp firm hands and lau"h at the old pain,
+hen it is peace But until peace, the storm
The darkness and the thunder and the rain
!sn9t that nobleA 1ou see what ! am dumbly "ropin" for66
some way of
thinkin" about the +ar that will make it seem ?to future
a"es@ a
purification for humanity rather than a mere blackness of
cinders and tortured flesh and men shot to ribbons in
marshes of blood
and sewa"e Out of such unspeakable desolation men
%;ST rise to some
new conception of national nei"hbourhood ! hear so much
that $ermany won9t be punished sufficiently for her crime
But how can
any punishment be de#ised or imposed for such a hu"e
panorama of
sorrowA ! think she has already punished herself horribly,
and will
continue to do so %y prayer is that what we ha#e "one
throu"h will
startle the world into some new reali/ation of the sanctity
life66all life, animal as well as human .on9t you find that a
to a /oo can humble and astound you with all that ama/in"
and "rotes7ue
#ariety of li#in" ener"yA
+hat is it that we find in e#ery form of lifeA .esire of
sort66some une(plained moti#e power that impels e#en the
insect on its 7ueer tra#els 1ou must ha#e watched some
red spider on a fence rail, bustlin" alon"66why and whitherA
knowsA 0nd when you come to man, what a chaos of
hun"ers and impulses
keep thrustin" him throu"h his cycle of 7uaint tasks< 0nd
in e#ery
human heart you find some sorrow, some frustration, some
lurkin" pan"
! often think of Lafcadio Hearn9s story of his Gapanese
cook Hearn
was talkin" of the Gapanese habit of not showin" their
emotions on
their faces His cook was a smilin", healthy, a"reeable6
lookin" youn"
fellow whose face was always cheerful Then one day, by
chance, Hearn
happened to look throu"h a hole in the wall and saw his
cook alone
His face was not the same face !t was thin and drawn and
stran"e lines worn by old hardships or sufferin"s Hearn
thou"ht to
himself, )He will look 8ust like that when he is dead) He
went into
the kitchen to see him, and instantly the cook was all
chan"ed, youn"
and happy a"ain 'e#er a"ain did Hearn see that face of
trouble= but
he knew the man wore it when he was alone
.on9t you think there is a kind of parable there for the race
as a
wholeA Ha#e you e#er met a man without wonderin" what
shinin" sorrows
he hides from the world, what contrast between #ision and
accomplishment torments himA Behind e#ery smilin"
mask is there not
some cryptic "rimace of painA Henry 0dams puts it tersely
He says
the human mind appears suddenly and ine(plicably out of
some unknown
and unima"inable #oid !t passes half its known life in the
chaos of sleep E#en when awake it is a #ictim of its own
ill6ad8ustment, of disease, of a"e, of e(ternal su""estion, of
compulsions= it doubts its own sensations and trusts only in
instruments and a#era"es 0fter si(ty years or so of
astonishment the mind wakes to find itself lookin" blankly
into the
#oid of death 0nd, as 0dams says, that it should profess
pleased by this performance is all that the hi"hest rules of
breedin" can ask That the mind should actually be
satisfied would
pro#e that it e(ists only as idiocy<
! hope that you will write to tell me alon" what cur#es your
mind is
mo#in" &or my own part ! feel that we are on the #er"e of
thin"s Lon" a"o ! fell back on books as the only
permanent consolers
They are the one stainless and unimpeachable achie#ement
of the human
race !t saddens me to think that ! shall ha#e to die with
of books unread that would ha#e "i#en me noble and
happiness ! will tell you a secret ! ha#e ne#er read Kin"
Lear, and
ha#e purposely refrained from doin" so !f ! were e#er #ery
ill !
would only need to say to myself )1ou can9t die yet, you
ha#en9t read
Lear) That would brin" me round, ! know it would
1ou see, books are the answer to all our perple(ities<
Henry 0dams
"rinds his teeth at his inability to understand the uni#erse
The best
he can do is to su""est a )law of acceleration,) which
seems to mean
that 'ature is hustlin" man alon" at an e#er6increasin" rate
so that he
will either sol#e all her problems or else die of fe#er in the
But 0dams9 candid portrait of a mind "rapplin" helplessly
with its
riddles is so triumphantly deli"htful that one for"ets the
futility of
the stru""le in the accuracy of the picture %an is
because he can make e#en his helplessness so entertainin"
His motto
seems to be )E#en thou"h He slay me, yet will ! make fun
of Him<)
1es, books are man9s supreme triumph, for they "ather up
and transmit
all other triumphs 0s +alter de la %are writes, )How
uncomprehendin"ly must an an"el from hea#en smile on a
poor human
sittin" en"rossed in a romance: an"led upon his hams,
motionless in his
chair, spectacles on nose, his two feet as close to"ether as
the flukes
of a merman9s tail, only his stran"e eyes stirrin" in his time6
+ell, !9#e been scribblin" away all this time and ha#en9t
"i#en you any
news whate#er Helen came back the other day from a #isit
to Boston
where she en8oyed herself "reatly To6ni"ht she has "one
out to the
mo#ies with a youn" prote"ee of ours, %iss Titania
,hapman, an en"a"in"
damsel whom we ha#e taken in as an apprentice bookseller
!t9s a
7uaint idea, done at the re7uest of her father, %r ,hapman,
proprietor of ,hapman9s .aintybits which you see
ad#ertised e#erywhere
He is a "reat booklo#er, and is #ery ea"er to ha#e the /eal
to his dau"hter So you can ima"ine my "lee to ha#e a
neophyte of my
own to preach books at< 0lso it will enable me to "et away
from the
shop a little more ! had a telephone call from *hiladelphia
afternoon askin" me to "o o#er there on %onday e#enin" to
make an
estimate of the #alue of a pri#ate collection that is to be
sold !
was rather flattered because ! can9t ima"ine how they "ot
hold of my
&or"i#e this lon", incoherent scrawl How did you like
ErewhonA !t9s
pretty near closin" time and ! must say "race o#er the day9s
1ours e#er,
RO$ER %!&&L!'
,hapter F
Ro"er Raids the !ce6Bo(
Ro"er had 8ust put ,arlyle9s ,romwell back in its proper
place in the
History alco#e when Helen and Titania returned from the
mo#ies Bock,
who had been do/in" under his master9s chair, rose politely
and wa""ed
a deferential tail
)! do think Bock has the darlin"est manners,) said Titania
)1es,) said Helen, )it9s really a mar#el that his wa""in"
aren9t all worn out, he has abused them so)
)+ell,) said Ro"er, )did you ha#e a "ood timeA)
)0n adorable time<) cried Titania, with a face and #oice so
that two musty habitues of the shop popped their heads out
of the
alco#es marked ESS01S and THEOLO$1 and peered in
ama/ement One of
these e#en went so far as to purchase the copy of Lei"h
Hunt9s +ishin"
,ap *apers he had been munchin" throu"h, in order to ha#e
an e(cuse to
approach the "roup and satisfy his bewildered eyes +hen
%iss ,hapman
took the book and wrapped it up for him, his astonishment
was made
;nconscious that she was actually creatin" business,
Titania resumed
)+e met your friend %r $ilbert on the street,) she said,
)and he went
to the mo#ies with us He says he9s comin" in on %onday
to fi( the
furnace while you9re away)
)+ell,) said Ro"er, )these ad#ertisin" a"encies are
enterprisin", aren9t theyA Think of sendin" a man o#er to
attend to my
furnace, 8ust on the slim chance of "ettin" my ad#ertisin"
).id you ha#e a 7uiet e#enin"A) said Helen
)! spent most of the time writin" to 0ndrew,) said Ro"er
)One amusin"
thin" happened, thou"h ! actually sold that copy of *hilip
)'o<) cried Helen
)0 fact,) said Ro"er )0 man was lookin" at it, and ! told
him it was
supposed to be written by ,olonel House He insisted on
buyin" it
But what a sell when he tries to read it<)
).id ,olonel House really write itA) asked Titania
)! don9t know,) said Ro"er )! hope not, because ! find in
myself a
secret tendency to belie#e that %r House is an able man !f
he did
write it, ! de#outly hope none of the forei"n statesmen in
*aris will
learn of that fact)
+hile Helen and Titania took off their wraps, Ro"er was
busy closin" up
the shop He went down to the corner with Bock to mail
his letter, and
when he returned to the den Helen had prepared a lar"e 8u"
of cocoa
They sat down by the fire to en8oy it
),hesterton has written a #ery sa#a"e poem a"ainst cocoa,)
said Ro"er,
)which you will find in The &lyin" !nn= but for my part !
find it the
ideal e#enin" drink !t lets the mind down "ently, and
pa#es the way
for slumber ! ha#e often noticed that the most terrific
a"onies can be allayed by three cups of %rs %ifflin9s
cocoa 0 man
can safely read Schopenhauer all e#enin" if he has a
tablespoonful of
cocoa and a tin of condensed milk a#ailable Of course it
should be
made with condensed milk, which is the only way)
)! had no idea anythin" could be so "ood,) said Titania
)Of course,
.addy makes condensed milk in one of his factories, but !
ne#er dreamed
of tryin" it ! thou"ht it was only used by e(plorers, people
at the
'orth *ole, you know)
)How stupid of me<) e(claimed Ro"er )! 7uite for"ot to
tell you<
1our father called up 8ust after you had "one out this
e#enin", and
wanted to know how you were "ettin" on)
)Oh, dear,) said Titania )He must ha#e been deli"hted to
hear ! was
at the mo#ies, on the second day of my first 8ob< He
probably said it
was 8ust like me)
)! e(plained that ! had insisted on your "oin" with %rs
because ! felt she needed the chan"e)
)! do hope,) said Titania, )you won9t let .addy poison your
mind about
me He thinks !9m dreadfully fri#olous, 8ust because !
LOOK fri#olous
But !9m so keen to make "ood in this 8ob !9#e been
practicin" doin"
up parcels all afternoon, so as to learn how to tie the strin"
and not cut it until after the knot9s tied ! found that when
you cut
it beforehand either you "et it too short and it won9t "o
round, or
else too lon" and you waste some 0lso !9#e learned how to
wrappin" paper cuffs to keep my slee#es clean)
)+ell, ! ha#en9t finished yet,) continued Ro"er )1our
father wants us
all to spend to6morrow out at your home He wants to
show us some
books he has 8ust bou"ht, and besides he thinks maybe
you9re feelin"
)+hat, with all these lo#ely books to readA 'onsense< !
don9t want to
"o home for si( months<)
)He wouldn9t take 'o for an answer He9s "oin" to send
Edwards round
with the car the first thin" to6morrow mornin")
)+hat fun<) said Helen )!t9ll be deli"htful)
)$oodness,) said Titania )!ma"ine lea#in" this adorable
bookshop to
spend Sunday in Larchmont +ell, !9ll be able to "et that
blouse ! for"ot)
)+hat time will the car be hereA) asked Helen
)%r ,hapman said about nine o9clock He be"s us to "et
out there as
early as possible, as he wants to spend the day showin" us
his books)
0s they sat round the fadin" bed of coals, Ro"er be"an
huntin" alon"
his pri#ate shel#es )Ha#e you e#er read any $issin"A) he
Titania made a pathetic "esture to %rs %ifflin )!t9s
embarrassin" to be asked these thin"s< 'o, ! ne#er heard of
)+ell, as the street we li#e on is named after him, ! think
you ou"ht
to,) he said He pulled down his copy of The House of
,obwebs )!9m
"oin" to read you one of the most deli"htful short stories !
!t9s called 90 ,harmin" &amily9)
)'o, Ro"er,) said %rs %ifflin firmly )'ot to6ni"ht !t9s
o9clock, and ! can see Titania9s tired E#en Bock has left us
and "one
in to his kennel He9s "ot more sense than you ha#e)
)0ll ri"ht,) said the bookseller amiably )%iss ,hapman,
you take the
book up with you and read it in bed if you want to 0re you
Titania looked a little scandali/ed
)!t9s all ri"ht, my dear,) said Helen )He only means are
you fond of
readin" in bed !9#e been waitin" to hear him work that
word into the
con#ersation He made it up, and he9s immensely proud of
)Readin" in bedA) said Titania )+hat a 7uaint idea< .oes
any one do
itA !t ne#er occurred to me !9m sure when ! "o to bed !9m
far too
sleepy to think of such a thin")
)Run alon" then, both of you,) said Ro"er )$et your
beauty sleep !
shan9t be #ery late)
He meant it when he said it, but returnin" to his desk at the
back of
the shop his eye fell upon his pri#ate shelf of books which
he kept
there )to rectify perturbations) as Burton puts it On this
there stood *il"rim9s *ro"ress, Shakespeare, The 0natomy
of %elancholy,
The Home Book of -erse, $eor"e Herbert9s *oems, The
'otebooks of Samuel
Butler, and Lea#es of $rass He took down The 0natomy
of %elancholy,
that most deli"htful of all books for midni"ht browsin"
Turnin" to
one of his fa#ourite passa"es66)0 ,onsolatory .i"ression,
the Remedies of 0ll %anner of .iscontents)66he was
happily lost to all
tickin" of the clock, retainin" only such bodily
consciousness as was
needful to dump, fill, and reli"ht his pipe from time to time
Solitude is a dear 8ewel for men whose days are spent in the
this6and6that of trade Ro"er was a "lutton for his midni"ht
To such tried companions as Robert Burton and $eor"e
Herbert he was
wont to e(onerate his spirit !t used to amuse him to think
of Burton,
the lonely O(ford scholar, writin" that #ast book to
)rectify) his own
By and by, turnin" o#er the musty old pa"es, he came to the
on Sleep66
The fittest time is two or three hours after supper, whenas
the meat is
now settled at the bottom of the stomach, and 9tis "ood to
lie on the
ri"ht side first, because at that site the li#er doth rest under
stomach, not molestin" any way, but heatin" him as a fire
doth a
kettle, that is put to it 0fter the first sleep 9tis not amiss to
on the left side, that the meat may the better descend, and
a"ain on the belly, but ne#er on the back Se#en or ei"ht
hours is a
competent time for a melancholy man to rest6666
!n that case, thou"ht Ro"er, it9s time for me to be turnin" in
looked at his watch, and found it was half6past twel#e He
off his li"ht and went back to the kitchen 7uarters to tend
the furnace
! hesitate to touch upon a topic of domestic bitterness, but
compels me to say that Ro"er9s e#enin" #i"ils in#ariably
ended at the
ice6bo( There are two theories as to this sub8ect of ice6bo(
plunderin", one of the husband and the other of the wife
Husbands are
prone to think ?in their simplicity@ that if they take a little of
e#erythin" palatable they find in the refri"erator, but thus
distributin" their fora"e o#er the #iands the "eneral effect
of the
depradation will be almost unnoticeable +hereas wi#es
say ?and %rs
%ifflin had often e(plained to Ro"er@ that it is far better to
take all
of any one dish than a little of each= for the latter course is
to diminish each item below the bulk at which it is still
useful as a
left6o#er Ro"er, howe#er, had the obstinate #iciousness of
all "ood
husbands, and he knew the deli"hts of cold pro#ender by
heart %any a
stewed prune, many a mess of strin" beans or naked cold
boiled potato,
many a chicken le", half apple pie, or sector of rice
puddin", had
perished in these midni"ht festi#als He made it a point of
ne#er to eat 7uite all of the dish in 7uestion, but would pass
unabated /est from one to another This habit he had
sternly repressed
durin" the +ar, but %rs %ifflin had noticed that since the
he had resumed it with hearty #iolence This is a custom
which causes
the housewife to be confronted the ne(t mornin" with a
tra"ical #ista
of pathetic scraps Two slices of beet in a little earthenware
cup, a
sli#er of apple pie one inch wide, three prunes lowly
nestlin" in a
mere trickle of their own syrup, and a tablespoonful of
stewed rhubarb
where had been one of those yellow basins nearly full66
what can the
most resourceful kitcheneer do with these oddmentsA This
practice cannot be too bitterly condemned
But we are what we are, and Ro"er was e#en more so The
0natomy of
%elancholy always made him hun"ry, and he dipped
discreetly into
#arious #essels of refreshment, sharin" a few scraps with
Bock whose
pleadin" brown eye at these secret suppers always showed
a comical
reali/ation of their shameful and furti#e nature Bock knew
#ery well
that Ro"er had no business at the ice6bo(, for the lar"er
outlines of
social law upon which e#ery home depends are clearly
understood by
do"s But Bock9s face always showed his tremulous
ea"erness to
participate in the sin, and rather than ha#e him stand by as a
and damnin" critic, Ro"er used to "i#e him most of the
cold potato
The censure of a do" is somethin" no man can stand But !
ro#e, as
Burton would say
0fter the ice6bo(, the cellar Like all true householders,
Ro"er was
fond of his cellar !t was somethin" mouldy of smell, but it
a well6stocked little bin of li7uors, and the florid "low of
furnace mouth upon the concrete floor was a "reat pleasure
to the
bookseller He lo#ed to peer in at the dancin" flicker of
small blue
flames that played abo#e the ruddy mound of coals in the
firebo(66tenuous, airy little flames that were as blue as
#iolets and
ho#ered up and down in the ascendin" "ases Before
blackenin" the fire
with a stokin" of coal he pulled up a wooden Bushmills
bo(, turned off
the electric bulb o#erhead, and sat there for a final pipe,
the rosy shine of the "rate The tobacco smoke, drawn
inward by the
hot inhalin" fire, seemed dry and "ray in the "olden
bri"htness Bock,
who had pattered down the steps after him, nosed and
snooped about the
cellar Ro"er was thinkin" of Burton9s words on the
immortal weed66
Tobacco, di#ine, rare, supere(cellent tobacco, which "oes
far beyond
all the panaceas, potable "old, and philosopher9s stones, a
remedy to all diseases a #irtuous herb, if it be well
opportunely taken, and medicinally used= but as it is
commonly abused
by most men, which take it as tinkers do ale, 9tis a pla"ue, a
mischief, a #iolent pur"er of "oods, lands, health, hellish,
and damned tobacco, the ruin and o#erthrow of body and
Bock was standin" on his hind le"s, lookin" up at the front
wall of the
cellar, in which two small iron6"rated windows opened
onto the sunken
area by the front door of the shop He "a#e a low "rowl,
and seemed
)+hat is it, BockA) said Ro"er placidly, finishin" his pipe
Bock "a#e a short, sharp bark, with a curious note of
protest in it
But Ro"er9s mind was still with Burton
)RatsA) he said )0ye, #ery likely< This is Ratisbon, old
man, but
don9t bark about it !ncident of the &rench ,amp: 9Smilin",
the rat
fell dead9)
Bock paid no heed to this persifla"e, but prowled the front
end of the
cellar, lookin" upward in curious a"itation He "rowled
a"ain, softly
)Shhh,) said Ro"er "ently )'e#er mind the rats, Bock
,ome on, we9ll
stoke up the fire and "o to bed Lord, it9s one o9clock)
,hapter F!
Titania Tries Readin" in Bed
0ubrey, sittin" at his window with the opera "lasses, soon
that he was blind weary E#en the e(alted heroics of
romance are not
proof a"ainst fati"ue, most potent enemy of all who do and
dream He
had had a lon" day, comin" after the skull6smitin" of the
ni"ht before=
it was only the frosty air at the lifted sash that kept him at
awake He had fallen into a half drowse when he heard
footsteps comin"
down the opposite side of the street
He had forced himself awake se#eral times before, to watch
the passa"e
of some harmless strollers throu"h the innocent blackness
of the
Brooklyn ni"ht, but this time it was what he sou"ht The
man stepped
stealthily, with a certain blend of wariness and assurance
He halted
under the lamp by the bookshop door, and the "lasses "a#e
him enlar"ed
to 0ubrey9s eye !t was +eintraub, the dru""ist
The front of the bookshop was now entirely dark sa#e for a
little "limmer down below the pa#ement le#el This
pu//led 0ubrey, but
he focussed his "lasses on the door of the shop He saw
+eintraub pull
a key out of his pocket, insert it #ery carefully in the lock,
and open
the door stealthily Lea#in" the door a8ar behind him, the
slipped into the shop
)+hat de#il9s business is thisA) thou"ht 0ubrey an"rily
)The swine
has e#en "ot a key of his own There9s no doubt about it
He and
%ifflin are workin" to"ether on this 8ob)
&or a moment he was uncertain what to do Should he run
downstairs and
across the streetA Then, as he hesitated, he saw a pale beam
of li"ht
o#er in the front left6hand corner of the shop Throu"h the
"lasses he
could see the yellow circle of a flashli"ht splotched upon
dim shel#es
of books He saw +eintraub pull a #olume out of the case,
and the
li"ht #anished 0nother instant and the man reappeared in
the doorway,
closed the door behind him with a "esture of careful
silence, and was
off up the street 7uietly and swiftly !t was all o#er in a
Two yellow oblon"s shone for a minute or two down in the
underneath the door Throu"h the "lasses he now made out
these patches
as the cellar windows Then they disappeared also, and all
was placid
"loom !n the 7ui#erin" li"ht of the street lamps he could
see the
bookseller9s si"n "leamin" whitely, with its letterin" TH!S
0ubrey sat back in his chair )+ell,) he said to himself,
)that "uy
certainly "a#e his shop the ri"ht name This is by me ! do
it9s only some book6stealin" "ame after all ! wonder if he
+eintraub "o in for some first6edition fakin", or some such
stunt as
thatA !9d "i#e a lot to know what it9s all about)
He stayed by the window on the 7ui #i#e, but no sound
broke the
stillness of $issin" Street !n the distance he could hear the
occasional rumble of the Ele#ated trains raspin" round the
cur#e on
+ordsworth 0#enue He wondered whether he ou"ht to "o
o#er and break
into the shop to see if all was well But, like e#ery healthy
man, he had a horror of appearin" absurd Little by little
numbed his apprehensions Two o9clock clan"ed and
echoed from distant
steeples He threw off his clothes and crawled into bed
!t was ten o9clock on Sunday mornin" when he awoke 0
broad swath of
sunli"ht cut the room in half: the white muslin curtain at
the window
rippled outward like a fla" 0ubrey e(claimed when he
saw his watch
He had a sudden feelin" of ha#in" been false to his trust
+hat had
been happenin" across the wayA
He "a/ed out at the bookshop $issin" Street was bri"ht
and demure in
the crisp 7uietness of the forenoon %ifflin9s house showed
no si"n of
life !t was as he had last seen it, sa#e that broad "reen
shades had
been drawn down inside the bi" front windows, makin" it
impossible to
look throu"h into the book6filled alco#es
0ubrey put on his o#ercoat in lieu of a dressin" "own, and
went in
search of a bathtub He found the bathroom on his floor
locked, with
sounds of leisurely splashin" within ).amn %rs G &
Smith,) he
said He was about to descend to the storey below,
bashfully conscious
of bare feet and py8amaed shins, but lookin" o#er the
banisters he saw
%rs Schiller and the treasure6do" en"a"ed in some
manoeu#res The pu" cau"ht si"ht of his py8ama le"s and
be"an to yap
0ubrey retreated in the irritation of a man baulked of a cold
tub He
sha#ed and dressed rapidly
On his way downstairs he met %rs Schiller He thou"ht
that her "a/e
was disappro#in"
)0 "entleman called to see you last ni"ht, sir,) she said
)He said he
was #ery sorry to miss you)
)! was rather late in "ettin" in,) said 0ubrey ).id he lea#e
)'o, he said he9d see you some other time He woke the
whole house up
by fallin" downstairs,) she added sourly
He left the lod"in" house swiftly, fearin" to be seen from
bookshop He was #ery ea"er to learn if e#erythin" was all
ri"ht, but
he did not want the %ifflins to know he was lod"in" 8ust
Hastenin" dia"onally across the street, he found that the
Lunch, where he had eaten the ni"ht before, was open He
went in and
had breakfast, re8oicin" in "rapefruit, ham and e""s, coffee,
dou"hnuts He lit a pipe and sat by the window wonderin"
what to do
ne(t )!t9s damned perple(in",) he said to himself )! stand
to lose
either way !f ! don9t do anythin", somethin" may happen
to the "irl=
if ! butt in too soon !9ll "et in dutch with her ! wish ! knew
+eintraub and that chef are up to)
The lunchroom was practically empty, and in two chairs
near him the
proprietor and his assistant were sittin" talkin" 0ubrey
was suddenly
struck by what they said
)Say, this here, now, bookseller "uy must ha#e struck it
)+ho, %ifflinA)
)1eh= did ya see that car in front of his place this mornin"A)
)Belie#e me, some boat)
)%usta hired it, heyA +here9d he "o atA)
)! didn9t see ! 8ust saw the bus standin" front the door)
)Say, did you see that swell dame he9s "ot clerkin" for
)! sure did +hat9s he doin", takin" her 8oy6ridin"A)
)Shouldn9t wonder ! wouldn9t blame him6666)
0ubrey "a#e no si"n of ha#in" heard, but "ot up and left
the lunchroom
Had the "irl been kidnapped while he o#ersleptA He
burned with shame
to think what a pitiful failure his kni"ht6errantry had been
first idea was to beard +eintraub and compel him to
e(plain his
connection with the bookshop His ne(t thou"ht was to call
up %r
,hapman and warn him of what had been "oin" on Then
he decided it
would be futile to do either of these before he really knew
what had
happened He determined to "et into the bookshop itself,
and burst
open its sinister secret
He walked hurriedly round to the rear alley, and sur#eyed
the domestic
apartments of the shop Two windows in the second storey
sli"htly open, but he could discern no si"ns of life The
back "ate
was still unlocked, and he walked boldly into the yard
The little enclosure was serene in the pale winter sunli"ht
0lon" one
fence ran a line of bushes and perennials, their roots
wrapped in
straw The "rass plot was lumpy, the sod withered to a
tawny yellow
and "ranulated with a sprinkle of frost Below the kitchen
stood at the head of a fli"ht of steps66was a little "rape
arbour with
a rustic bench where Ro"er used to smoke his pipe on
summer e#enin"s
0t the back of this arbour was the cellar door 0ubrey tried
it, and
found it locked
He was in no mood to stick at trifles He was determined to
the mystery of the bookshop 0t the ri"ht of the door was a
window, le#el with the brick pa#ement Throu"h the dusty
pane he could
see it was fastened only by a hook on the inside He thrust
his heel
throu"h the pane 0s the "lass tinkled onto the cellar floor
he heard
a low "rowl He unhooked the catch, lifted the frame of the
window, and looked in There was Bock, with head
7ui//ically tilted,
utterin" a rumblin" "uttural #ibration that seemed to
automatically from his interior
0ubrey was a little dashed, but he said cheerily )Hullo,
Bock< $ood
old man< +ell, well, nice old fellow<) To his surprise,
reco"ni/ed him as a friend and wa""ed his tail sli"htly, but
continued to "rowl
)! wish do"s weren9t such sticklers for form,) thou"ht
0ubrey )'ow if
! went in by the front door, Bock wouldn9t say anythin"
!t9s 8ust
because he sees me comin" in this way that he9s annoyed
+ell, !9ll
ha#e to take a chance)
He thrust his le"s in throu"h the window, carefully holdin"
up the sash
with its 8a""ed trian"les of "lass !t will ne#er be known
se#erely Bock was tempted by the e(tremities thus e(posed
to him, but
he was an old do" and his martial instincts had been
undermined by
years of kindness %oreo#er, he remembered 0ubrey
perfectly well, and
the smell of his trousers did not seem at all hostile So he
himself with a small "rumblin" of protest He was an !rish
but there was nothin" Sinn &ein about him
0ubrey dropped to the floor, and patted the do", thankin"
his "ood
fortune He "lanced about the cellar as thou"h e(pectin" to
find some
lurkin" horror 'othin" more appallin" than se#eral cases
of beer
bottles met his eyes He started 7uietly to "o up the cellar
and Bock, e#idently consumed with le"itimate curiosity,
kept at his
)Look here,) thou"ht 0ubrey )! don9t want the do"
followin" me all
throu"h the house !f ! touch anythin" he9ll probably take a
hunk out
of my shin)
He unlocked the door into the yard, and Bock obeyin" the
terrier9s natural impulse to "et into the open air, ran outside
0ubrey 7uickly closed the door a"ain Bock9s face
appeared at the
broken window, lookin" in with so 7uaint an e(pression of
surprise that 0ubrey almost lau"hed )There, old man,) he
said, )it9s
all ri"ht !9m 8ust "oin" to look around a bit)
He ascended the stairs on tiptoe and found himself in the
kitchen 0ll
was 7uiet 0n alarm clock ticked with a stumblin",
headlon" hurry
*ots of "eraniums stood on the window sill The ran"e,
with its lids
off and the fire carefully nourished, radiated a mild warmth
a dark little pantry he entered the dinin" room Still no si"n
anythin" amiss 0 pot of white heather stood on the table,
and a
corncob pipe lay on the sideboard )This is the most
kidnapper9s den ! e#er heard of,) he thou"ht )0ny
director would be ashamed not to pro#ide a better sta"e6
0t that instant he heard footsteps o#erhead ,uriously soft,
footsteps !nstantly he was on the alert 'ow he would
know the worst
0 window upstairs was thrown open )Bock, what are you
doin" in the
yardA) floated a #oice66a #ery clear, imperious #oice that
somehow made
him think of the thin rin"in" of a fine "lass tumbler !t was
He stood a"hast Then he heard a door open, and steps on
the stair
%erciful hea#en, the "irl must not find him here +hat
+O;L. she
thinkA He skipped back into the pantry, and shrank into a
corner He
heard the footfalls reach the bottom of the stairs There
was a door
into the kitchen from the central hall: it was not necessary
for her
to pass throu"h the pantry, he thou"ht He heard her enter
the kitchen
!n his an(iety he crouched down beneath the sink, and his
foot, bent
beneath him, touched a lar"e tin tray leanin" a"ainst the
wall !t
fell o#er with a terrible clan"
)Bock<) said Titania sharply, )what are you doin"A)
0ubrey was wonderin" miserably whether he ou"ht to
counterfeit a bark,
but it was too late to do anythin" The pantry door opened,
Titania looked in
They "a/ed at each other for se#eral seconds in mutual
horror E#en in
his abasement, crouchin" under a shelf in the corner,
0ubrey9s stricken
senses told him that he had ne#er seen so fair a spectacle
wore a blue kimono and a curious fra"ile lacy bonnet which
he did not
understand Her dark, "old6span"led hair came down in
two thick braids
across her shoulders Her blue eyes were #ery much ali#e
ama/ement and alarm which rapidly chan"ed into an"er
)%r $ilbert<) she cried &or an instant he thou"ht she was
"oin" to
lau"h Then a new e(pression came into her face +ithout
another word
she turned and fled He heard her run upstairs 0 door
ban"ed, and
was locked 0 window was hastily closed 0"ain all was
Stupefied with cha"rin, he rose from his cramped position
+hat on
earth was he to doA How could he e(plainA He stood by
the pantry sink
in painful indecision Should he slink out of the houseA
'o, he
couldn9t do that without attemptin" to e(plain 0nd he was
con#inced that some stran"e peril hun" about this place
He must put
Titania on her "uard, no matter how embarrassin" it
pro#ed !f only
she hadn9t been wearin" a kimono66how much easier it
would ha#e been
He stepped out into the hall, and stood at the bottom of the
stairs in
the throes of doubt 0fter waitin" some time in silence he
cleared the
huskiness from his throat and called out:
)%iss ,hapman<)
There was no answer, but he heard li"ht, rapid mo#ements
)%iss ,hapman<) he called a"ain
He heard the door opened, and clear words ed"ed with frost
downward This time he thou"ht of a thin tumbler with ice
in it
)%r $ilbert<)
)1esA) he said miserably
)+ill you please call me a ta(iA)
Somethin" in the calm, mandatory tone nettled him 0fter
all, he had
acted in pure "ood faith
)+ith pleasure,) he said, )but not until ! ha#e told you
!t9s #ery important ! be" your pardon most awfully for
you, but it9s really #ery ur"ent)
There was a brief silence Then she said:
)Brooklyn9s a 7ueer place +ait a few minutes, please)
0ubrey stood absently fin"erin" the pattern on the
wallpaper He
suddenly e(perienced a "reat cra#in" for a pipe, but felt
that the
eti7uette of the situation hardly permitted him to smoke
!n a few moments Titania appeared at the head of the stairs
in her
customary "arb She sat down on the landin" 0ubrey felt
e#erythin" was as bad as it could possibly be !f he could
ha#e seen
her face his embarrassment would at least ha#e had some
But the li"ht from a stair window shone behind her, and her
were in shadow She sat claspin" her hands round her
knees The li"ht
fell crosswise down the stairway, and he could see only a
"leam of
bri"htness upon her ankle His mind unconsciously
followed its beaten
paths )+hat a corkin" pose for a silk stockin" ad<) he
)+ouldn9t it make a stunnin" full6pa"e layout ! must
su""est it to
the 0nkleshimmer people)
)+ellA) she said Then she could not refrain from lau"hter,
he looked
so hapless She burst into an en"a"in" trill )+hy don9t
you li"ht
your pipeA) she said )1ou look as doleful as the Kaiser)
)%iss ,hapman,) he said, )!9m afraid you think66! don9t
know what you
must think But ! broke in here this mornin" because !66
well, ! don9t
think this is a safe place for you to be)
)So it seems That9s why ! asked you to "et me a ta(i)
)There9s somethin" 7ueer "oin" on round this shop !t9s not
ri"ht for
you to be here alone this way ! was afraid somethin" had
happened to
you Of course, ! didn9t know you were66were6666)
&aint almond blossoms "rew in her cheeks )! was
readin",) she said
)%r %ifflin talks so much about readin" in bed, ! thou"ht
!9d try it
They wanted me to "o with them to6day but ! wouldn9t
1ou see, if !9m
"oin" to be a bookseller !9#e "ot to catch up with some of
literature that9s been accumulatin" 0fter they left !66!66
well, !
wanted to see if this readin" in bed is what it9s cracked up
to be)
)+here has %ifflin "oneA) asked 0ubrey )+hat business
has he "ot to
lea#e you here all aloneA)
)! had Bock,) said Titania )$racious, Brooklyn on Sunday
doesn9t seem #ery perilous to me !f you must know, he
and %rs
%ifflin ha#e "one o#er to spend the day with father ! was
to ha#e
"one, too, but ! wouldn9t +hat business is it of yoursA
1ou9re as
bad as %orris &insbury in The +ron" Bo( That9s what !
was readin"
when ! heard the do" barkin")
0ubrey be"an to "row nettled )1ou seem to think this was
a mere
impertinence on my part,) he said )Let me tell you a thin"
or two)
0nd he briefly described to her the course of his
e(periences since
lea#in" the shop on &riday e#enin", but omittin" the fact
that he was
lod"in" 8ust across the street
)There9s somethin" mi"hty unpalatable "oin" on,) he said
)0t first !
thou"ht %ifflin was the "oat ! thou"ht it mi"ht be some
frame6up for
swipin" #aluable books from his shop But when ! saw
+eintraub come in
here with his own latch6key, ! "ot wise He and %ifflin are
cahoots, that9s what ! don9t know what they9re pullin" off,
but !
don9t like the looks of it 1ou say %ifflin has "one out to
see your
fatherA ! bet that9s 8ust camoufla"e, to stall you !9#e "ot a
mind to rin" %r ,hapman up and tell him he ou"ht to "et
you out of
)! won9t hear a word said a"ainst %r %ifflin,) said Titania
)He9s one of my father9s oldest friends +hat would %r
%ifflin say if
he knew you had been breakin" into his house and
fri"htenin" me half to
deathA !9m sorry you "ot that knock on the head, because it
that9s your weak spot !9m 7uite able to take care of myself,
you This isn9t a mo#ie)
)+ell, how do you e(plain the actions of this man
+eintraubA) said
0ubrey ).o you like to ha#e a man poppin" in and out of
the shop at
all hours of the ni"ht, stealin" booksA)
)! don9t ha#e to e(plain it at all,) said Titania )! think it9s
up to
you to do the e(plainin" +eintraub is a harmless old thin"
and he
keeps delicious chocolates that cost only half as much as
what you "et
on &ifth 0#enue %r %ifflin told me that he9s a #ery "ood
*erhaps his business won9t let him read in the daytime, and
he comes in
here late at ni"ht to borrow books He probably reads in
)! don9t think anybody who talks $erman round back alleys
at ni"ht is a
harmless old thin",) said 0ubrey )! tell you, your Haunted
is haunted by somethin" worse than the "host of Thomas
,arlyle Let me
show you somethin") He pulled the book co#er out of his
pocket, and
pointed to the annotations in it
)That9s %ifflin9s handwritin",) said Titania, pointin" to the
upper row
of fi"ures )He puts notes like that in all his fa#ourite
books They
refer to pa"es where he has found interestin" thin"s)
)1es, and that9s +eintraub9s,) said 0ubrey, indicatin" the
numbers in
#iolet ink )!f that isn9t a proof of their complicity, !9d like
know what is !f that ,romwell book is here, !9d like to
ha#e a look
at it)
They went into the shop Titania preceded him down the
musty aisle,
and it made 0ubrey an"ry to see the obstinate assurance of
her small
shoulders He was horribly tempted to sei/e her and shake
her !t
annoyed him to see her bri"ht, unconscious "irlhood in that
din"y #ault
of books )She9s as out of place here as66as a *ackard ad in
Liberator) he said to himself
They stood in the History alco#e )Here it is,) she said
)'o, it
isn9t66that9s the History of &rederick the $reat)
There was a two6inch "ap in the shelf ,romwell was
)*robably %r %ifflin has it somewhere around,) said
Titania )!t was
there last ni"ht)
)*robably nothin",) said 0ubrey )! tell you, +eintraub
came in and
took it ! saw him Look here, if you really want to know
what !
think, !9ll tell you The +ar9s not o#er by a lon" si"ht
a $erman ,arlyle was pro6$erman66! remember that
much from colle"e
! belie#e your friend %ifflin is pro6$erman, too !9#e heard
some of
his talk<)
Titania faced him with cheeks aflame
)That9ll do for you<) she cried )'e(t thin" ! suppose you9ll
.addy9s pro6$erman, and me, too< !9d like to see you say
that to %r
%ifflin himself)
)! will, don9t worry,) said 0ubrey "rimly He knew now
that he had put
himself hopelessly in the wron" in Titania9s mind, but he
refused to
abate his own con#ictions +ith sinkin" heart he saw her
face relie#ed
a"ainst the shel#es of faded bindin"s Her eyes shone with
a deep and
sultry blue, her chin 7ui#ered with an"er
)Look here,) she said furiously )Either you or ! must lea#e
place !f you intend to stay, please call me a ta(i)
0ubrey was as an"ry as she was
)!9m "oin",) he said )But you9#e "ot to play fair with me
! tell
you on my oath, these two men, %ifflin and +eintraub, are
somethin" up !9m "oin" to "et the "oods on them and
show you But
you mustn9t put them wise that !9m on their track !f you
do, of
course, they9ll call it off ! don9t care what you think of me
1ou9#e "ot to promise me that)
)! won9t promise you 0'1TH!'$,) she said, )e(cept ne#er
to speak to you
a"ain ! ne#er saw a man like you before66and !9#e seen a
"ood many)
)! won9t lea#e here until you promise me not to warn them,)
retorted )+hat ! told you, ! said in confidence They9#e
found out where !9m lod"in" .o you think this is a 8okeA
tried to put me out of the way twice !f you breathe a word
of this to
%ifflin he9ll warn the other two)
)1ou9re afraid to ha#e %r %ifflin know you broke into his
shop,) she
)1ou can think what you like)
)! won9t promise you anythin"<) she burst out Then her
face altered
The defiant little line of her mouth bent and her stren"th
seemed to
run out at each end of that pathetic cur#e )1es, ! will,) she
)! suppose that9s fair ! couldn9t tell %r %ifflin, anyway
!9d be
ashamed to tell him how you fri"htened me ! think you9re
hateful !
came o#er here thinkin" ! was "oin" to ha#e such a "ood
time, and
you9#e spoilt it all<)
&or one terrible moment he thou"ht she was "oin" to cry
But he
remembered ha#in" seen heroines cry in the mo#ies, and
knew it was only
done when there was a table and chair handy
)%iss ,hapman,) he said, )!9m as sorry as a man can be
But ! swear !
did what ! did in all honesty !f !9m wron" in this, you need
speak to me a"ain !f !9m wron", you66you can tell your
father to take
his ad#ertisin" away from the $rey6%atter ,ompany !
can9t say more
than that)
0nd, to do him 8ustice, he couldn9t !t was the supreme
She let him out of the front door without another word
,hapter F!!
0ubrey .etermines to "i#e Ser#ice that9s .ifferent
Seldom has a youn" man spent a more desolate afternoon
than 0ubrey on
that Sunday His only consolation was that twenty minutes
after he had
left the bookshop he saw a ta(i dri#e up ?he was then sittin"
at his bedroom window@ and Titania enter it and dri#e
away He
supposed that she had "one to 8oin the party in Larchmont,
and was "lad
to know that she was out of what he now called the war
/one &or the
first time on record, O Henry failed to solace him His
pipe tasted
bitter and brackish He was ea"er to know what +eintraub
was doin",
but did not dare make any in#esti"ations in broad dayli"ht
His idea
was to wait until dark Obser#in" the Sabbath calm of the
streets, and
the pa"eant of baby carria"es wheelin" toward Thackeray
Boule#ard, he
wondered a"ain whether he had thrown away this "irl9s
friendship for a
merely ima"inary suspicion
0t last he could endure his cramped bedroom no lon"er
someone was dolefully playin" a flute, most horrible of all
tortures to
ti"htened ner#es +hile her lod"ers were at church the
tireless %rs
Schiller was doin" a little housecleanin": he could hear the
rasp of a carpet6sweeper passin" back and forth in an
ad8oinin" room
He creaked irritably downstairs, and heard the usual
splashin" behind
the bathroom door !n the frame of the hall mirror he saw a
note: +ill %rs Smith please call Tarkin"ton 4CMC, it said
;nreasonably annoyed, he tore a piece of paper out of his
notebook and
wrote on it +ill %rs Smith please call Bath B2DD
%ountin" to the
second floor he tapped on the bathroom door ).on9t come
in<) cried an
a"itated female #oice He thrust the memorandum under
the door, and
left the house
+alkin" the windy paths of *rospect *ark he condemned
himself to
relentless self6scrutiny )!9#e damned myself fore#er with
her,) he
"roaned, )unless ! can pro#e somethin") The #ision of
Titania9s face
silhouetted a"ainst the shel#es of books came maddenin"ly
to his mind
)! was "oin" to ha#e such a "ood time, and you9#e spoilt it
all<) +ith
what an"ry con#iction she had said: )! ne#er saw a man
like you
before66and !9#e seen a "ood many<)
E#en in his disturbance of soul the familiar 8ar"on of his
came naturally to utterance )0t least she admits !9m
.!&&ERE'T,) he
said dolefully He remembered the first item in the $rey6
%atter ,ode,
a neat little booklet issued by his employers for the
information of
their representati#es:
Business is built upon ,O'&!.E',E Before you can sell
Ser#ice to a ,lient, you must sell 1O;RSEL&
)How am ! "oin" to sell myself to herA) he wondered )!9#e
simply "ot
to deli#er, that9s all !9#e "ot to "i#e her ser#ice that9s
!f ! fall down on this, she9ll ne#er speak to me a"ain 'ot
only that,
the firm will lose the old man9s account !t9s simply
'e#ertheless, he thou"ht about it a "ood deal, stimulated
from time to
time as in the course of his walk ?which led him out toward
faubour"s of &latbush@ he passed lon" #istas of si"nboards,
which he
ima"ined placarded with #i#id litho"raphs in behalf of the
prunes )0dam and E#e 0te *runes On Their Honeymoon)
was a slo"an that
flashed into his head, and he ima"ined a ma"nificent
illustratin" this te(t Thus, in hours of stress, do all men
turn for
comfort to their chosen art The poet, battered by fate,
heals himself
in the niceties of rhyme The prohibitionist can weather the
melancholia by meditatin" the contortions of other people9s
The most embittered citi/en of .etroit will ne#er perish by
his own
hand while he has an automobile to tinker
0ubrey walked many miles, "radually throwin" his despair
to the winds
The bri"ht spirits of Orison Swett %arden and Ralph +aldo
.ioscuri of $ood ,heer, seemed to be with him remindin"
him that
nothin" is impossible !n a small restaurant he found
"riddle cakes and syrup +hen he "ot back to $issin"
Street it was
dark, and he "irded his soul for further endea#our
0bout nine o9clock he walked up the alley He had left his
o#ercoat in
his room at %rs Schiller9s and also the ,romwell
taken the precaution, howe#er, to copy the inscriptions into
his pocket
memorandum6book He noticed li"hts in the rear of the
bookshop, and
concluded that the %ifflins and their employee had "ot
home safely
0rri#ed at the back of +eintraub9s pharmacy, he studied the
contours of
the buildin" carefully
The dru" store lay, as we ha#e e(plained before, at the
corner of
$issin" Street and +ordsworth 0#enue, 8ust where the
Ele#ated railway
swin"s in a lon" cur#e The course of this cur#e brou"ht
scaffoldin" of the #iaduct out o#er the back roof of the
buildin", and
this fact had impressed itself on 0ubrey9s obser#ant eye the
before The front of the dru" store stood three storeys, but
in the
rear it dropped to two, with a flat roof o#er the hinder
portion Two
windows looked out upon this roof +eintraub9s back yard
opened onto
the alley, but the "ate, he found, was locked The fence
would not be
hard to scale, but he hesitated to make so direct an
He ascended the stairs of the )L) station, on the near side,
and payin"
a nickel passed throu"h a turnstile onto the platform
+aitin" until
8ust after a train had left, and the lon", windy sweep of
plankin" was
solitary, he dropped onto the narrow footway that runs
beside the
track This re7uired watchful walkin", for the char"ed third
rail was
#ery near, but hu""in" the outer side of the path he
proceeded without
trouble E#ery fifteen feet or so a "irder ran sideways from
track, restin" upon an upri"ht from the street below The
fourth of
these o#erhun" the back corner of +eintraub9s house, and
he crawled
cautiously alon" it *eople were passin" on the pa#ement
and he "reatly feared bein" disco#ered But he reached the
end of the
beam without mishap &rom here a drop of about twel#e
feet would brin"
him onto +eintraub9s back roof &or a moment he reflected
that, once
down there, it would be impossible to return the same way
Howe#er, he
decided to risk it +here he was, with his le"s swin"in"
astride the
"irder, he was in serious dan"er of attractin" attention
He would ha#e "i#en a "reat deal, 8ust then, to ha#e his
o#ercoat with
him, for by lowerin" it first he could ha#e 8umped onto it
and muffled
the noise of his fall He took off his coat and carefully
dropped it
on the corner of the roof Then cannily waitin" until a train
o#erhead, drownin" all other sounds with its roar, he
lowered himself
as far as he could han" by his hands, and let "o
&or some minutes he lay prone on the tin roof, and durin"
that time a
number of distressin" ideas occurred to him !f he really
e(pected to
"et into +eintraub9s house, why had he not laid his plans
carefullyA +hy ?for instance@ had he not made some
attempt to find out
how many there were in the householdA +hy had he not
arran"ed with one
of his friends to call +eintraub to the telephone at a "i#en
moment, so
that he could be more sure of makin" an entry unnoticedA
0nd what did
he e(pect to see or do if he "ot inside the houseA He found
no answer
to any of these 7uestions
!t was unpleasantly cold, and he was "lad to slip his coat on
The small re#ol#er was still in his hip pocket 0nother
occurred to him66that he should ha#e pro#ided himself with
shoes Howe#er, it was some comfort to know that rubber
heels of a
nationally ad#ertised brand were under him He crawled
7uietly up to
the sill of one of the windows !t was closed, and the room
inside was
dark 0 blind was pulled most of the way down, lea#in" a
"ap of about
four inches *eepin" cautiously o#er the sill, he could see
inside the house a bri"htly lit door and a passa"eway
)One thin" !9#e "ot to look out for,) he thou"ht, )is
children There
are bound to be some66who e#er heard of a $erman without
offsprin"A !f
! wake them, they9ll bawl This room is #ery likely a
nursery, as it9s
on the southeastern side 0lso, the window is shut ti"ht,
which is
probably the $erman idea of bedroom #entilation)
His "uess may not ha#e been a bad one, for after his eyes
accustomed to the dimness of the room he thou"ht he could
percei#e two
cot beds He then crawled o#er to the other window Here
the blind
was pulled down flush with the bottom of the sash Tryin"
the window
#ery cautiously, he found it locked 'ot knowin" 8ust what
to do, he
returned to the first window, and lay there peerin" in The
sill was
8ust hi"h enou"h abo#e the roof le#el to make it necessary
to raise
himself a little on his hands to see inside, and the position
was #ery
tryin" %oreo#er, the tin roof had a tendency to crumple
noisily when
he mo#ed He lay for some time, shi#erin" in the chill, and
whether it would be safe to li"ht a pipe
)There9s another thin" !9d better look out for,) he thou"ht,
that9s a do" +ho e#er heard of a $erman without a
He had watched the li"hted doorway for a lon" while
without seein"
anythin", and was be"innin" to think he was losin" time to
no profit
when a stout and not ill6natured lookin" woman appeared
in the hallway
She came into the room he was studyin", and closed the
door She
switched on the li"ht, and to his horror be"an to disrobe
This was
not what he had counted on at all, and he retreated rapidly
!t was
plain that nothin" was to be "ained where he was He sat
timidly at
one ed"e of the roof and wondered what to do ne(t
0s he sat there, the back door opened almost directly below
him, and he
heard the clan" of a "arba"e can set out by the stoop The
door stood
open for perhaps half a minute, and he heard a male #oice66
he thou"ht66speakin" in $erman &or the first time in his
life he
yearned for the society of his $erman instructor at colle"e,
and also
wondered66in the rapid irrele#ance of thou"ht66what that
worthy man was
now doin" to earn a li#in" !n a rather lon" and poorly
sentence, hea#ily #erbed at the end, he distin"uished one
phrase that
seemed important )'ach *hiladelphia "ehen)66)$o to
.id that refer to %ifflinA he wondered
The door closed a"ain Leanin" o#er the rain6"utter, he
saw the li"ht
"o out in the kitchen He tried to look throu"h the upper
portion of
the window 8ust below him, but leanin" out too far, the tin
spout "a#e
beneath his hands +ithout knowin" 8ust how he did it, he
down the side of the wall, and found his feet on a window6
sill His
hands still clun" to the tin "utter abo#e He made haste to
climb down
from his position, and found himself outside the back door
He had
mana"ed the descent rather more 7uietly than if it had been
planned But he was badly startled, and retreated to the
bottom of the
yard to see if he had aroused notice
0 wait of se#eral minutes brou"ht no alarm, and he plucked
up coura"e
On the inner side of the house66away from +ordsworth
0#enue66a narrow
pa#ed passa"e led to an outside cellar6way with old6
fashioned slantin"
doors He reconnoitred this warily 0 bri"ht li"ht was
shinin" from a
window in this alley He crept below it on hands and knees
fearin" to
look in until he had in#esti"ated a little He found that one
flap of
the cellar door was open, and poked his nose into the
aperture 0ll
was dark below, but a stron", damp stench of paints and
arose He sniffed "in"erly )! suppose he stores dru"s
down there,)
he thou"ht
-ery carefully he crawled back, on hands and knees,
toward the li"hted
window Liftin" his head a few inches at a time, finally he
"ot his
eyes abo#e the le#el of the sill To his disappointment he
found the
lower half of the window frosted 0s he knelt there, a pipe
set in the
wall suddenly #omited li7uid which "ushed out upon his
knees He
sniffed it, and a"ain smelled a stron" aroma of acids +ith
care, leanin" a"ainst the brick wall of the house, he rose to
his feet
and peeped throu"h the upper half of the pane
!t seemed to be the room where prescriptions were
compounded 0s it
was empty, he allowed himself a hasty sur#ey 0ll manner
of bottles
were ran"ed alon" the walls= there was a hi"h counter with
scales, a
desk, and a sink 0t the back he could see the bamboo
curtain which he
remembered ha#in" noticed from the shop The whole
place was in the
utmost disorder: mortars, "lass beakers, a typewriter,
cabinets of
labels, dusty piles of old prescriptions strun" on filin"
hooks, papers
of pills and capsules, all strewn in an indescribable litter
infusion was heatin" in a "lass bowl propped on a tripod
o#er a blue
"as flame 0ubrey noticed particularly a heap of old books
feet hi"h piled carelessly at one end of the counter
Lookin" more carefully, he saw that what he had taken for
a mirror o#er
the prescription counter was an aperture lookin" into the
Throu"h this he could see +eintraub, behind the ci"ar case,
upon some belated customer with his shop6worn air of
affability The
#isitor departed, and +eintraub locked the door after him
and pulled
down the blinds Then he returned toward the prescription
room, and
0ubrey ducked out of #iew
*resently he risked lookin" a"ain, and was 8ust in time to
see a
curious si"ht The dru""ist was bendin" o#er the counter,
pourin" some
li7uid into a "lass #essel His face was directly under a
bulb, and 0ubrey was ama/ed at the transformation The
"enial apothecary of ci"ar stand and soda fountain was
"one He saw
instead a hea#y, cruel, 8owlish face, with eyelids hooded
down o#er the
eyes, and a s7uare thrustin" chin buttressed on a mass of
8aw and
suetty cheek that "listened with an oily shimmer The 8aw
7ui#ered a
little as thou"h with some intense suppressed emotion The
man was
completely absorbed in his task The thick lower lip lapped
o#er the mouth On the cheekbone was a deep red scar
0ubrey felt a
pan" of fascinated ama/ement at the "ross ener"y and
power of that
abominable relentless mask
)So this is the harmless old thin"<) he thou"ht
Gust then the bamboo curtain parted, and the woman whom
he had seen
upstairs appeared &or"ettin" his own situation, 0ubrey
still stared
She wore a faded dressin" "own and her hair was braided
as thou"h for
the ni"ht She looked fri"htened, and must ha#e spoken,
for 0ubrey saw
her lips mo#e The man remained bent o#er his counter
until the last
drops of li7uid had run out His 8aw ti"htened, he
suddenly and took one step toward her, with outstretched
imperiously pointed 0ubrey could see his face plainly: it
had a
sa#a"ery more than bestial The woman9s face, which had
borne a timid,
pleadin" e(pression, appealed in #ain a"ainst that fierce
"esture She
turned and #anished 0ubrey saw the dru""ist9s pointin"
tremble 0"ain he ducked out of si"ht )That man9s face
would be
lonely in a crowd,) he said to himself )0nd ! used to think
mo#ies e(a""erated thin"s Say, he ou"ht to play opposite
Theda Bara)
He lay at full len"th in the pa#ed alley and thou"ht that a
ac7uaintance with +eintraub would "o a lon" way Then
the li"ht in the
window abo#e him went out, and he "athered himself
to"ether for 7uick
motion if necessary *erhaps the man would come out to
close the
cellar door6666
The thou"ht was in his mind when a li"ht flashed on farther
down the
passa"e, between him and the kitchen !t came from a
small barred
window on the "round le#el E#idently the dru""ist had
"one down into
the cellar 0ubrey crawled silently alon" toward the yard
the lit pane he lay a"ainst the wall and looked in
The window was too "rimed for him to see clearly, but
what he could
make out had the appearance of a chemical laboratory and
machine shop
combined 0 lon" work bench was lit by se#eral electrics
On it he
saw "lass #ials of odd shapes, and a medley of tools
Sheets of tin,
len"ths of lead pipe, "as burners, a #ise, boilers and
cylinders, tall
8ars of coloured fluids He could hear a dull hummin"
sound, which he
surmised came from some sort of re#ol#in" tool which he
could see was
run by a belt from a motor On tryin" to spy more clearly
he found
that what he had taken for dirt was a coat of whitewash
which had been
applied to the window on the inside, but the coatin" had
worn away in
one spot which "a#e him a loophole +hat surprised him
most was to spy
the co#ers of a number of books strewn about the work
table One, he
was ready to swear, was the ,romwell He knew that
bri"ht blue cloth
by this time
&or the second time that e#enin" 0ubrey wished for the
presence of one
of his former instructors )! wish ! had my old chemistry
here,) he thou"ht )!9d like to know what this bird is up to
hate to swallow one of his prescriptions)
His teeth were chatterin" after the lon" e(posure and he
was wet
throu"h from lyin" in the little "utter that apparently
drained off
from the sink in +eintraub9s prescription laboratory He
could not see
what the dru""ist was doin" in the cellar, for the man9s
broad back was
turned toward him He felt as thou"h he had had 7uite
enou"h thrills
for one e#enin" ,reepin" alon" he found his way back to
the yard, and
stepped cautiously amon" the empty bo(es with which it
was strewn 0n
ele#ated train rumbled o#erhead, and he watched the
bri"htly li"hted
cars swin" by +hile the train roared abo#e him, he
scrambled up the
fence and dropped down into the alley
)+ell,) he thou"ht, )!9d "i#e full6pa"e space, preferred
position, in
the ma"a/ine Ben &ranklin founded to the "uy that9d tell
me what9s
"oin" on at this "rand bolshe#ik head7uarters !t looks to
me as
thou"h they9re "ettin" ready to blow the Octa"on Hotel off
the map)
He found a little confectionery shop on +ordsworth
0#enue that was
still open, and went in for a cup of hot chocolate to warm
)The e(pense account on this business is "oin" to be rather
hea#y,) he
said to himself )! think !9ll ha#e to char"e it up to the
account Say, old $rey %atter "i#es ser#ice that9s
.!&&ERE'T, don9t
she< +e not only keep ,hapman9s "oods in the public eye,
but we face
all the horrors of Brooklyn to preser#e his family from
occasions 'o, ! don9t like the company that bookseller
runs with !f
9nach *hiladelphia9 is the word, ! think !9ll ta" alon" !
"uess it9s
off for *hiladelphia in the mornin"<)
,hapter F!!!
The Battle of Ludlow Street
Rarely was a more "enuine tribute paid to entrancin"
"irlhood than when
0ubrey compelled himself, by sheer force of will and the
tickin" of his
subconscious time6sense, to wake at si( o9clock the ne(t
mornin" &or
this youn" man took sleep seriously and with a primiti#e
/est !t was
to him almost a reli"ious function 0s a minor poet has
said, he )made
sleep a career)
But he did not know what train Ro"er mi"ht be takin", and
he was
determined not to miss him By a 7uarter after si( he was
seated in
the %ilwaukee Lunch ?which is ne#er closed66Open from
'ow Till the
Gud"ment .ay Tables for Ladies, as its si"n says@ with a
cup of
coffee and corned beef hash !n the mood of tender
melancholy common
to unaccustomed early risin" he dwelt fondly on the
thou"ht of Titania,
so near and yet so far away He had leisure to "i#e free rein
to these
musin"s, for it was ten past se#en before Ro"er appeared,
toward the subway 0ubrey followed at a discreet distance,
takin" care
not to be obser#ed
The bookseller and his pursuer both boarded the ei"ht
o9clock train at
the *ennsyl#ania Station, but in #ery different moods To
Ro"er, this
e(pedition was a frolic, pure and simple He had been tied
down to the
bookshop so lon" that a day9s e(cursion seemed too "ood to
be true He
bou"ht two ci"ars66an unusual lu(ury66and let the mornin"
paper lie
unheeded in his lap as the train drummed o#er the
Hackensack marshes
He felt a "ood deal of pride in ha#in" been summoned to
appraise the
Oldham library %r Oldham was a #ery distin"uished
collector, a
wealthy *hiladelphia merchant whose choice Gohnson,
Lamb, Keats, and
Blake items were the en#y of connoisseurs all o#er the
world Ro"er
knew #ery well that there were many better6known dealers
who would ha#e
8umped at the chance to e(amine the collection and pocket
appraiser9s fee The word that Ro"er had had by lon"
telephone was that %r Oldham had decided to sell his
collection, and
before puttin" it to auction desired the ad#ices of an e(pert
as to the
prices his items should command in the present state of the
0nd as Ro"er was not particularly con#ersant with current
e#ents in the
world of rare books and manuscripts, he spent most of the
trip in
turnin" o#er some annotated catalo"ues of recent sales
which %r
,hapman had lent him )This in#itation,) he said to
himself, )confirms
what ! ha#e always said, that the artist, in any line of work,
e#entually be reco"ni/ed abo#e the mere tradesman
Somehow or other
%r Oldham has heard that ! am not only a seller of old
books but a
lo#er of them He prefers to ha#e me "o o#er his treasures
with him,
rather than one of those who peddle these thin"s like so
much tallow)
0ubrey9s humour was far remo#ed from that of the happy
bookseller !n
the first place, Ro"er was sittin" in the smoker, and as
0ubrey feared
to enter the same car for fear of bein" obser#ed, he had to
do without
his pipe He took the foremost seat in the second coach,
and peerin"
occasionally throu"h the "lass doors he could see the bald
poll of his
7uarry wreathed with e(halements of cheap ha#ana
Secondly, he had
hoped to see +eintraub on the same train, but thou"h he
had tarried at
the train6"ate until the last moment, the $erman had not
appeared He
had concluded from +eintraub9s words the ni"ht before that
dru""ist and
bookseller were bound on a 8oint errand 0pparently he
was mistaken
He bit his nails, "lowered at the flyin" landscape, and
re#ol#ed many
"rie#ous fancies in his pricklin" bosom 0mon" other
discontents was
the knowled"e that he did not ha#e enou"h money with him
to pay his
fare back to 'ew 1ork, and he would either ha#e to borrow
from someone
in *hiladelphia or wire to his office for funds He had not
anticipated, when settin" out upon this series of ad#entures,
that it
would pro#e so costly
The train drew into Broad Street station at ten o9clock, and
followed the bookseller throu"h the bustlin" terminus and
round the
,ity Hall pla/a %ifflin seemed to know his way, but
*hiladelphia was
comparati#ely stran"e to the $rey6%atter solicitor He was
surprised at the impressi#e #ista of South Broad Street, and
to find people 8ostlin" him on the crowded pa#ement as
thou"h they did
not know he had 8ust come from 'ew 1ork
Ro"er turned in at a hu"e office buildin" on Broad Street
and took an
e(press ele#ator 0ubrey did not dare follow him into the
car, so he
waited in the lobby He learned from the starter that there
was a
second tier of ele#ators on the other side of the buildin", so
tipped a boy a 7uarter to watch them for him, describin"
%ifflin so
accurately that he could not be missed By this time
0ubrey was in a
thorou"hly ill temper, and en8oyed 7uarrellin" with the
starter on the
sub8ect of indicators for showin" the position of the
Obser#in" that in this buildin" the indicators were "lass
tubes in
which the mo#ement of the car was traced by a risin" or
fallin" column
of coloured fluid, 0ubrey remarked testily that that old6
stunt had lon" been abandoned in 'ew 1ork The starter
retorted that
'ew 1ork was only two hours away if he liked it better
This ar"ument
helped to fleet the time rapidly
%eanwhile Ro"er, with the pleasurable sensation of one
who e(pects to
be recei#ed as a distin"uished #isitor from out of town, had
the lu(urious suite of %r Oldham 0 youn" lady, rather too
transparently shirtwaisted but fair to look upon, asked what
she could
do for him
)! want to see %r Oldham)
)+hat name shall ! sayA)
)%r %ifflin66%r %ifflin of Brooklyn)
)Ha#e you an appointmentA)
Ro"er sat down with a"reeable anticipation He noticed the
maho"any of the office furniture, the sparklin" "reen 8ar of
water, the hushed and efficient acti#ity of the youn" ladies
)*hiladelphia "irls are ama/in"ly comely,) he said to
himself, )but
none of these can hold a candle to %iss Titania)
The youn" lady returned from the pri#ate office lookin" a
).id you ha#e an appointment with %r OldhamA) she said
)He doesn9t
seem to recall it)
)+hy, certainly,) said Ro"er )!t was arran"ed by
telephone on
Saturday afternoon %r Oldham9s secretary called me up)
)Ha#e ! "ot your name ri"htA) she asked, showin" a slip on
which she
had written %r %iflin
)Two f9s,) said Ro"er )%r Ro"er %ifflin, the bookseller)
The "irl retired, and came back a moment later
)%r Oldham9s #ery busy,) she said, )but he can see you for
a moment)
Ro"er was ushered into the pri#ate office, a lar"e, airy
room lined
with bookshel#es %r Oldham, a tall, thin man with short
"ray hair
and li#ely black eyes, rose courteously from his desk
)How do you do, sir,) he said )!9m sorry, ! had for"otten
)He must be #ery absent minded,) thou"ht Ro"er
)0rran"es to sell a
collection worth half a million, and for"ets all about it)
)! came o#er in response to your messa"e,) he said
)0bout sellin"
your collection)
%r Oldham looked at him, rather intently, Ro"er thou"ht
).o you want to buy itA) he said
)To buy itA) said Ro"er, a little pee#ishly )+hy, no !
came o#er to
appraise it for you 1our secretary telephoned me on
)%y dear sir,) replied the other, )there must be some
mistake ! ha#e
no intention of sellin" my collection ! ne#er sent you a
Ro"er was a"hast
)+hy,) he e(claimed, )your secretary called me up on
Saturday and said
you particularly wanted me to come o#er this mornin", to
e(amine your
books with you !9#e made the trip from Brooklyn for that
%r Oldham touched a bu//er, and a middle6a"ed woman
came into the
office )%iss *atterson,) he said, )did you telephone to %r
of Brooklyn on Saturday, askin" him6666)
)!t was a man that telephoned,) said Ro"er
)!9m e(ceedin"ly sorry, %r %ifflin,) said %r Oldham
)%ore sorry
than ! can tell you66!9m afraid someone has played a trick
on you 0s
! told you, and %iss *atterson will bear me out, ! ha#e no
idea of
sellin" my books, and ha#e ne#er authori/ed any one e#en
to su""est
such a thin")
Ro"er was filled with confusion and an"er 0 hoa( on the
part of some
of the ,orn ,ob ,lub, he thou"ht to himself He flushed
painfully to
recall the simplicity of his "lee
)*lease don9t be embarrassed,) said %r Oldham, seein" the
little man9s
#e(ation ).on9t let9s consider the trip wasted +on9t you
come out
and dine with me in the country this e#enin", and see my
But Ro"er was too proud to accept this balm, courteous as
it was
)!9m sorry,) he said, )but !9m afraid ! can9t do it !9m rather
at home, and only came o#er because ! belie#ed this to be
)Some other time, perhaps,) said %r Oldham )Look here,
you9re a
booksellerA ! don9t belie#e ! know your shop $i#e me
your card The
ne(t time !9m in 'ew 1ork !9d like to stop in)
Ro"er "ot away as 7uickly as the other9s politeness would
let him He
chafed sa#a"ely at the awkwardness of his position 'ot
until he
reached the street a"ain did he breathe freely
)Some of Gerry $ladfist9s tomfoolery, !9ll bet a hat,) he
)By the bones of &anny Kelly, !9ll make him smart for it)
E#en 0ubrey, pickin" up the trail a"ain, could see that
Ro"er was an"ry
)Somethin"9s "ot his "oat,) he reflected )! wonder what
he9s pee#ed
They crossed Broad Street and Ro"er started off down
,hestnut 0ubrey
saw the bookseller halt in a doorway to li"ht his pipe, and
some yards behind him to look up at the statue of +illiam
*enn on the
,ity Hall !t was a blustery day, and at that moment a "ust
of wind
whipped off his hat and sent it spinnin" down Broad Street
He ran
half a block before he recaptured it +hen he "ot back to
Ro"er had disappeared He hurried down ,hestnut Street,
pedestrians in his ea"erness, but at Thirteenth he halted in
'owhere could he see a si"n of the little bookseller He
appealed to
the policeman at that corner, but learned nothin" -ainly he
the block and up and down Guniper Street !t was ele#en
o9clock, and
the streets were thron"ed
He cursed the book business in both hemispheres, cursed
himself, and
cursed *hiladelphia Then he went into a tobacconist9s and
bou"ht a
packet of ci"arettes
&or an hour he patrolled up and down ,hestnut Street, on
both sides of
the way, thinkin" he mi"ht possibly encounter Ro"er 0t
the end of
this time he found himself in front of a newspaper office,
remembered that an old friend of his was an editorial writer
on the
staff He entered, and went up in the ele#ator
He found his friend in a small "rimy den, surrounded by a
sea of
papers, smokin" a pipe with his feet on the table They
"reeted each
other 8oyfully
)+ell, look who9s here<) cried the facetious 8ournalist
the $reat, and none other< +hat brin"s you to this distant
0ubrey "rinned at the use of his old colle"e nickname
)!9#e come to lunch with you, and borrow enou"h money to
"et home with)
)On %ondayA) cried the other )Tuesday bein" the day of
stipend in
these 7uartersA 'ay, say not so<)
They lunched to"ether at a 7uiet !talian restaurant, and
narrated tersely the ad#entures of the past few days The
man smoked pensi#ely when the story was concluded
)!9d like to see the "irl,) he said )Tambo, your tale hath the
of sincerity !t is full of sound and fury, but it si"nifieth
somethin" 1ou say your man is a second6hand
)Then ! know where you9ll find him)
)!t9s worth tryin" $o up to Leary9s, 5 South 'inth !t9s
ri"ht on
this street !9ll show you)
)Let9s "o,) said 0ubrey promptly
)'ot only that,) said the other, )but !9ll lend you my last -
'ot for
your sake, but on behalf of the "irl Gust mention my name
to her,
will youA
)Ri"ht up the block,) he pointed as they reached ,hestnut
Street )'o,
! won9t come with you, +ilson9s speakin" to ,on"ress to6
day, and
there9s bi" stuff comin" o#er the wire So lon", old man
!n#ite me
to the weddin"<)
0ubrey had no idea what Leary9s was, and rather e(pected
it to be a
ta#ern of some sort +hen he reached the place, howe#er,
he saw why
his friend had su""ested it as a likely lurkin" "round for
Ro"er !t
would be as impossible for any bibliophile to pass this
second6hand bookstore as for a woman to "o by a weddin"
party without
tryin" to see the bride 0lthou"h it was a bleak day, and a
snell wind
blew down the street, the pa#ement counters were lined
with people
turnin" o#er disordered piles of #olumes +ithin, he could
see a #ista
of white shel#es, and the many6coloured tapestry of
bindin"s stretchin"
far away to the rear of the buildin"
He entered ea"erly, and looked about The shop was
comfortably busy,
with a number of people browsin" They seemed normal
enou"h from
behind, but in their eyes he detected the wild, peerin"
"litter of the
bibliomaniac Here and there stood members of the staff
;pon their
features 0ubrey discerned the placid and philosophic
tran7uillity which
he associated with second6hand booksellers66all sa#e
He paced throu"h the narrow aisles, scannin" the blissful
thron" of
seekers He went down to the educational department in
the basement,
up to the medical books in the "allery, e#en back to the
sections of
.rama and *ennsyl#ania History in the raised 7uarterdeck
at the rear
There was no trace of Ro"er
0t a desk under the stairway he saw a lean, studious, and
kindly6lookin" bibliosoph, who was porin" o#er an
immense catalo"ue
0n idea struck him
)Ha#e you a copy of ,arlyle9s Letters and Speeches of
Oli#er ,romwellA)
he asked
The other looked up
)!9m afraid we ha#en9t,) he said )0nother "entleman was
in here
askin" for it 8ust a few minutes a"o)
)$ood $od<) cried 0ubrey ).id he "et itA)
This emphasis brou"ht no surprise to the bookseller, who
was accustomed
to the oddities of edition hunters
)'o,) he said )+e didn9t ha#e a copy +e ha#en9t seen
one for a lon"
)+as he a little bald man with a red beard and bri"ht blue
eyesA) asked
0ubrey hoarsely
)1es66%r %ifflin of Brooklyn .o you know himA)
)! should say ! do<) cried 0ubrey )+here has he "oneA
!9#e been
huntin" him all o#er town, the scoundrel<)
The bookseller, douce man, had seen too many eccentric
customers to be
shocked by the #ehemence of his 7uestioner
)He was here a moment a"o,) he said "ently, and "a/ed
with a mild
interest upon the e(cited youn" ad#ertisin" man )!
daresay you9ll
find him 8ust outside, in Ludlow Street)
)+here9s thatA)
The tall man66and ! don9t see why ! should scruple to name
him, for it
was *hilip +arner66e(plained that Ludlow Street was the
narrow alley
that runs alon" one side of Leary9s and elbows at ri"ht
an"les behind
the shop .own the flank of the store, alon" this narrow
street, run shel#es of books under a penthouse !t is here
Leary9s displays its stock of ra"amuffin ten6centers667ueer
#olumes that call to the hearts of "entle 7uesters 0lon"
historic shel#es many troubled spirits ha#e come as near
happiness as
they are like to "et for after all, happiness ?as the
mathematicians mi"ht say@ lies on a cur#e, and we
approach it only by
asymptote The fre7uenters of this alley call themsel#es
whimsically The Ludlow Street Business %en9s
0ssociation, and ,harles
Lamb or Eu"ene &ield would ha#e been proud to preside at
their annual
dinners, at which the members recount their happiest book6
finds of the
0ubrey rushed out of the shop and looked down the alley
Half a do/en
Ludlow Street Business %en were "ropin" amon" the
shel#es Then, down
at the far end, his small face poked into an open #olume, he
saw Ro"er
He approached with a rapid stride
)+ell,) he said an"rily, )here you are<)
Ro"er looked up from his book "ood6humouredly
0pparently, in the /eal
of his fa#ourite pastime, he had for"otten where he was
)Hullo<) he said )+hat are you doin" in BrooklynA Look
here, here9s
a copy of Tooke9s *antheon6666)
)+hat9s the ideaA) cried 0ubrey harshly )0re you tryin"
to kid meA
+hat are you and +eintraub framin" up here in
Ro"er9s mind came back to Ludlow Street He looked with
some surprise
at the flushed face of the youn" man, and put the book back
in its
place on the shelf, makin" a mental note of its location
disappointment of the mornin" came back to him with
some irritation
)+hat are you talkin" aboutA) he said )+hat the deuce
business is it
of yoursA)
)!9ll make it my business,) said 0ubrey, and shook his fist
in the
bookseller9s face )!9#e been trailin" you, you scoundrel,
and ! want
to know what kind of a "ame you9re playin")
0 spot of red spread on Ro"er9s cheekbones !n spite of his
demureness he had a pu"nacious spirit and a 7uick fist
)By the bones of ,harles Lamb<) he said )1oun" man,
your manners need
mendin" !f you9re lookin" for display ad#ertisin", !9ll "i#e
you one
on each eye)
0ubrey had e(pected to find a crin"in" culprit, and this
back talk
infuriated him beyond control
)1ou damned little bolshe#ik,) he said, )if you were my
si/e !9d "i#e
you a hidin" 1ou tell me what you and your pro6$erman
pals are up to
or !9ll put the police on you<)
Ro"er stiffened His beard bristled, and his blue eyes
)1ou impudent do",) he said 7uietly, )you come round the
corner where
these people can9t see us and !9ll "i#e you some pri#ate
He led the way round the corner of the alley !n this narrow
between blank walls, they confronted each other
)!n the name of $utenber",) said Ro"er, callin" upon his
patron saint,
)e(plain yourself or !9ll hit you)
)+ho9s heA) sneered 0ubrey )0nother one of your HunsA)
That instant he recei#ed a smart blow on the chin, which
would ha#e
been much harder but that Ro"er mis"au"ed his footin" on
the une#en
cobbles, and hardly reached the face of his opponent, who
topped him by
many inches
0ubrey for"ot his resolution not to hit a smaller man, and
also callin"
upon his patron saints66the 0ssociated 0d#ertisin" ,lubs of
+orld66he deli#ered a smashin" slo" which hit the
bookseller in the
chest and 8olted him half across the alley
Both men were furiously an"ry660ubrey with the
accumulated bitterness
of se#eral days9 an(iety and suspicion, and Ro"er with the
7uick6flamin" indi"nation of a hot6tempered man
unwarrantably outra"ed
0ubrey had the better of the encounter in hei"ht, wei"ht,
and more than
twenty years 8uniority, but fortune played for the
0ubrey9s terrific punch sent the latter sta""erin" across the
onto the opposite curb 0ubrey followed him up with a
rush, intendin"
to crush the other with one fearful smite But Ro"er,
keepin" cool,
now had the ad#anta"e of position Standin" on the curb,
he had a
little the better in hei"ht 0s 0ubrey leaped at him, his face
with hatred, Ro"er met him with a sa#a"e buffet on the 8aw
foot struck a"ainst the curb, and he fell backward onto the
His head crashed #iolently on the cobbles, and the old cut
on his scalp
broke out afresh .a/ed and shaken, there was, for the
moment, no more
fi"ht in him
)1ou insolent pup,) panted Ro"er, )do you want any
moreA) Then he saw
that 0ubrey was really hurt +ith horror he obser#ed a
trickle of
blood run down the side of the youn" man9s face
)$ood Lord,) he said )%aybe !9#e killed him<)
!n a panic he ran round the corner to "et Leary9s outside
man, who
stands in a little sentry bo( at the front an"le of the store
and sells
the outdoor books
)Juick,) he said )There9s a fellow back here badly hurt)
They ran back around the corner, and found 0ubrey
walkin" rather
shakily toward them !mmense relief swam throu"h
Ro"er9s brain
)Look here,) he said, )!9m awfully sorry66are you hurtA)
0ubrey "lared whitely at him, but was too stunned to
speak He
"runted, and the others took him one on each side and
supported him
Leary9s man ran inside the store and opened the little door
of the
frei"ht ele#ator at the back of the shop !n this way,
a#oidin" notice
sa#e by a few book6prowlers, 0ubrey was carted into the
shop as thou"h
he had been a parcel of second6hand books
%r +arner "reeted them at the back of the shop, a little
but "entle as e#er
)+hat9s wron"A) he said
)Oh, we9#e been fi"htin" o#er a copy of Tooke9s *antheon,)
said Ro"er
They led 0ubrey into the little pri#ate office at the rear
Here they
made him sit down in a chair and bathed his bleedin" head
with cold
water *hilip +arner, always resourceful, produced some
plaster Ro"er wanted to telephone for a doctor
)'ot on your life,) said 0ubrey, pullin" himself to"ether
)See here,
%r %ifflin, don9t flatter yourself you "a#e me this cut on
the skull
! "ot that the other e#enin" on Brooklyn Brid"e, "oin"
home from your
damned bookshop 'ow if you and ! can be alone for a few
we9#e "ot to ha#e a talk)
,hapter F!-
The ),romwell) %akes its Last 0ppearance
)1ou utter idiot,) said Ro"er, half an hour later )+hy
didn9t you
tell me all this soonerA $ood Lord, man, there9s some
de#il9s work
"oin" on<)
)How the deuce was ! to know you knew nothin" about itA)
said 0ubrey
impatiently )1ou9ll "rant e#erythin" pointed a"ainst youA
+hen ! saw
that "uy "o into the shop with his own key, what could !
think but that
you were in lea"ue with himA $racious, man, are you so
befuddled in
your old books that you don9t see what9s "oin" on round
)+hat time did you say that wasA) said Ro"er shortly
)One o9clock Sunday mornin")
Ro"er thou"ht a minute )1es, ! was in the cellar with
Bock,) he said
)Bock barked, and ! thou"ht it was rats That fellow must
ha#e taken
an impression of the lock and made himself a key He9s
been in the
shop hundreds of times, and could easily do it That
e(plains the
disappearin" ,romwell But +H1A +hat9s the ideaA)
)&or the lo#e of hea#en,) said 0ubrey )Let9s "et back to
Brooklyn as
soon as we can $od only knows what may ha#e
happened &ool that !
was, to "o away and lea#e those women all alone Triple6
)%y dear fellow,) said Ro"er, )! was the fool to be lured off
by a fake
telephone call Gud"in" by what you say, +eintraub must
ha#e worked
that also)
0ubrey looked at his watch )Gust after three,) he said
)+e can9t "et a train till four,) said Ro"er )That means we
can9t "et
back to $issin" Street until nearly se#en)
),all them up,) said 0ubrey
They were still in the pri#ate office at the rear of Leary9s
was well6known in the shop, and had no hesitation in usin"
telephone He lifted the recei#er
)Lon" .istance, please,) he said )HulloA ! want to "et
+ordsworth 4M4L6+)
They spent a sour twenty6fi#e minutes waitin" for the
Ro"er went out to talk with +arner, while 0ubrey fumed in
the back
office He could not sit still, and paced the little room in a
of impatience, tearin" his watch out of his pocket e#ery few
He felt dull and sick with #a"ue fear To his mind recurred
spiteful bu// of that #oice o#er the wire66)$issin" Street is
healthy for you) He remembered the scuffle on the
Brid"e, the
whisperin" in the alley, and the sinister face of the dru""ist
at his
prescription counter The whole series of e#ents seemed a
fantastic ni"htmare, yet it fri"htened him )!f only ! were
Brooklyn,) he "roaned, )it wouldn9t be so bad But to be
o#er here, a
hundred miles away, in another cursed bookshop, while that
"irl may be
in trouble66$osh<) he muttered )!f ! "et throu"h this
business all
ri"ht !9ll lay off bookshops for the rest of my life<)
The telephone ran", and 0ubrey frantically beckoned to
Ro"er, who was
outside, talkin"
)0nswer it, you chump<) said Ro"er )+e9ll lose the
)'i(,) said 0ubrey )!f Titania hears my #oice she9ll rin"
off She9s
sore at me)
Ro"er ran to the instrument )Hullo, hulloA) he said,
)Hullo, is that +ordsworth6666A 1es, !9m callin" Brooklyn66
0ubrey, leanin" o#er Ro"er9s shoulder, could hear a
cluckin" in the
recei#er, and then, incredibly clear, a thin, sil#er, distant
How well he knew it< !t seemed to #ibrate in the air all
about him
He could hear e#ery syllable distinctly 0 hot perspiration
burst out
on his forehead and in the palms of his hands
)Hullo,) said Ro"er )!s that %ifflin9s BookshopA)
)1es,) said Titania )!s that you, %r %ifflinA +here are
)!n *hiladelphia,) said Ro"er )Tell me, is e#erythin" all
)E#erythin"9s dandy,) said Titania )!9m sellin" loads of
books %rs
%ifflin9s "one out to do some shoppin")
0ubrey shook to hear the tiny, airy #oice, like a trill of
like a tinklin" from some distant star He could ima"ine
her standin"
at the phone in the back of the shadowy bookshop, and
seemed to see her
as thou"h throu"h an in#erted telescope, #ery minute and
#ery perfect
How bra#e and e(7uisite she was<
)+hen are you comin" homeA) she was sayin"
)0bout se#en o9clock,) said Ro"er )Listen, is e#erythin"
)+hy, yes,) said Titania )!9#e been ha#in" lots of fun !
went down
8ust now and put some coal on the furnace Oh, yes %r
came in a little while a"o and left a suitcase of books He
said you
wouldn9t mind 0 friend of his is "oin" to call for them this
)Hold the wire a moment,) said Ro"er, and clapped his
hand o#er the
mouthpiece )She says +eintraub left a suitcase of books
there to be
called for +hat do you make of thatA)
)&or the lo#e of $od, tell her not to touch those books)
)HulloA) said Ro"er 0ubrey, leanin" o#er him, noticed
that the little
bookseller9s naked pate was rin"ed with crystal beads
)HulloA) replied Titania9s elfin #oice promptly
).id you open the suitcaseA)
)'o !t9s locked %r +eintraub said there were a lot of old
books in
it for a friend of his !t9s #ery hea#y)
)Look here,) said Ro"er, and his #oice ran" sharply )This
important ! don9t want you to touch that suitcase Lea#e it
it is, and .O'9T TO;,H !T *romise me)
)1es, %r %ifflin Had ! better put it in a safe placeA)
).O'9T TO;,H !T<)
)Bock9s sniffin" at it now)
).on9t touch it, and don9t let Bock touch it !t66it9s "ot
papers in it)
)!9ll be careful of it,) said Titania
)*romise me not to touch it 0nd another thin"66if any one
calls for
it, don9t let them take it until ! "et home)
0ubrey held out his watch in front of Ro"er The latter
).o you understandA) he said ).o you hear me all ri"htA)
)1es, splendidly ! think it9s wonderful< 1ou know ! ne#er
talked on
lon" distance before6666)
).on9t touch the ba",) repeated Ro"er do""edly, )and don9t
let any one
take it until we66until ! "et back)
)! promise,) said Titania blithely
)$ood6bye,) said Ro"er, and set down the recei#er His
face looked
curiously pinched, and there was perspiration in the
hollows under his
eyes 0ubrey held out his watch impatiently
)+e9#e 8ust time to make it,) cried Ro"er, and they rushed
from the
!t was not a spri"htly 8ourney The train made its
accustomed detour
throu"h +est *hiladelphia and 'orth *hiladelphia before
"ettin" down to
business, and the two #oya"ers felt a personal hatred of the
who permitted passen"ers from these suburbs to stra""le
aboard instead of flo""in" them in with knotted whips
+hen the
e(press stopped at Trenton, 0ubrey could easily ha#e
turned a howit/er
upon that innocent city and blasted it into rubble 0n
une(pected stop
at *rinceton Gunction was the last straw 0ubrey addressed
conductor in terms that were hi"hly treasonable,
considerin" that this
official was a "o#ernment ser#ant
The winter twili"ht drew in, "ray and dreary, with a threat
of snow
&or some time they sat in silence, Ro"er buried in a
afternoon paper containin" the te(t of the *resident9s
announcin" his trip to Europe, and 0ubrey "loomily
recapitulatin" the
schedule of his past week His head throbbed, his hands
were wet with
ner#ousness so that crumbs of tobacco adhered to them
)!t9s a funny thin",) he said at last )1ou know ! ne#er
heard of your
shop until a week a"o to6day, and now it seems like the
most important
place on earth !t was only last Tuesday that we had supper
and since then !9#e had my scalp laid open twice, had a
desperado lie
in wait for me in my own bedroom, spent two ni"ht #i"ils
on $issin"
Street, and endan"ered the bi""est ad#ertisin" account our
handles ! don9t wonder you call the place haunted<)
)! suppose it would all make "ood ad#ertisin" copyA) said
)+ell, ! don9t know) said 0ubrey )!t9s a bit too rou"h, !9m
How do you dope it outA)
)! don9t know what to think +eintraub has run that dru"
store for
twenty years or more 1ears a"o, before ! e#er "ot into the
business, ! used to know his shop He was always rather
interested in
books, especially scientific books, and we "ot 7uite friendly
when !
opened up on $issin" Street ! ne#er fell for his face #ery
hard, but
he always seemed 7uiet and well6disposed !t sounds to me
like some
kind of trade in illicit dru"s, or $erman incendiary bombs
1ou know
what a lot of fires there were durin" the war66those bi"
ele#ators in Brooklyn, and so on)
)! thou"ht at first it was a kidnappin" stunt,) said 0ubrey
thou"ht you had "ot %iss ,hapman planted in your shop so
that these
other "uys could smu""le her away)
)1ou seem to ha#e done me the honour of thinkin" me a
#ery complete
rascal,) said Ro"er
0ubrey9s lips trembled with irritable retort, but he checked
)+hat was your particular interest in the ,romwell bookA)
he asked
after a pause
)Oh, ! read somewhere66two or three years a"o66that it was
one of
+oodrow +ilson9s fa#ourite books That interested me,
and ! looked it
)By the way,) cried 0ubrey e(citedly, )! for"ot to show you
numbers that were written in the co#er) He pulled out his
book, and showed the transcript he had made
)+ell, one of these is perfectly understandable,) said
Ro"er )Here,
where it says E25 ff cf + + That simply means 9pa"es
E25 and
followin", compare +oodrow +ilson9 ! remember 8ottin"
that down not
lon" a"o, because that passa"e in the book reminded me of
some of
+ilson9s ideas ! "enerally note down in the back of a book
numbers of any pa"es that interest me specially These
other pa"e
numbers con#ey nothin" unless ! had the book before me)
)The first bunch of numbers was in your handwritin", then=
underneath were these others, in +eintraub9s66or at any rate
in his
ink +hen ! saw that he was 8ottin" down what ! took to be
code stuff
in the backs of your books ! naturally assumed you and he
were workin"
)0nd you found the co#er in his dru" storeA)
Ro"er scowled )! don9t make it out,) he said )+ell,
there9s nothin"
we can do till we "et there .o you want to look at the
There9s the te(t of +ilson9s speech to ,on"ress this
0ubrey shook his head dismally, and leaned his hot
forehead a"ainst the
pane 'either of them spoke a"ain until they reached
Transfer, where they chan"ed for the Hudson Terminal
!t was se#en o9clock when they hurried out of the subway
terminus at
0tlantic 0#enue !t was a raw, damp e#enin", but the
streets had
already be"un to bustle with their ni"htly e(uberance of
li"ht and
colour The yellow "litter of a pawnshop window reminded
0ubrey of the
small re#ol#er in his pocket 0s they passed a dark alley,
he stepped
aside to load the weapon
)Ha#e you anythin" of this sort with youA) he said,
showin" it to Ro"er
)$ood Lord, no,) said the bookseller )+hat do you think !
am, a
mo#in"6picture heroA)
.own $issin" Street the youn"er man set so rapid a pace
that his
companion had to trot to keep abreast The placid #ista of
the little
street was reassurin" ;nder the "lowin" effusion of the
shop windows
the pa#ement was a path of checkered bri"htness !n
pharmacy they could see the pasty6faced assistant in his
stained white
coat ser#in" a beaker of hot chocolate !n the stationer9s
shop people
were lookin" o#er trays of ,hristmas cards !n the
%ilwaukee Lunch
0ubrey saw ?and en#ied@ a sturdy citi/en peacefully
dippin" a dou"hnut
into a cup of coffee
)This all seems #ery unreal,) said Ro"er
0s they neared the bookshop, 0ubrey9s heart "a#e a 8erk of
apprehension The blinds in the front windows had been
drawn down 0
dull shinin" came throu"h them, showin" that the li"hts
were turned on
inside But why should the shades be lowered with closin"
time three
hours awayA
They reached the front door, and 0ubrey was about to sei/e
the handle
when Ro"er halted him
)+ait a moment,) he said )Let9s "o in 7uietly There may
somethin" 7ueer "oin" on)
0ubrey turned the knob "ently The door was locked
Ro"er pulled out his latchkey and cautiously released the
bolt Then
he opened the door sli"htly66about an inch
)1ou9re taller than ! am,) he whispered )Reach up and
muffle the bell
abo#e the door while ! open it)
0ubrey thrust three fin"ers throu"h the aperture and
blocked the
tri""er of the "on" Then Ro"er pushed the door wide, and
they tiptoed
The shop was empty, and apparently normal They stood
for an instant
with poundin" pulses
&rom the back of the house came a clear #oice, a little
)1ou can do what you like, ! shan9t tell you where it is %r
There followed the ban" of a fallin" chair, and a sound of
0ubrey was down the aisle in a flash, followed by Ro"er,
who had
delayed 8ust lon" enou"h to close the door He tiptoed up
the steps at
the back of the shop and looked into the dinin" room 0t
the instant
his eyes took in the scene it seemed as thou"h the whole
room was in
The cloth was spread for supper and shone white under the
drop lamp
!n the far corner of the room Titania was stru""lin" in the
"rasp of a
bearded man whom 0ubrey instantly reco"ni/ed as the
chef On the near
side of the table, holdin" a re#ol#er le#elled at the "irl,
+eintraub His back was toward the door 0ubrey could
see the
dru""ist9s sullen 8aw crease and shake with an"er
Two strides took him into the room He 8ammed the
mu//le of his pistol
a"ainst the oily cheek ).rop it<) he said hoarsely )1ou
Hun<) +ith
his left hand he sei/ed the man9s shirt collar and drew it
a"ainst the throat !n his tremor of ra"e and e(citement his
arms felt
curiously weak, and his first thou"ht was how impossible it
would be to
stran"le that swinish neck
&or an instant there was a breathless tableau The bearded
man still
had his hands on Titania9s shoulders She, #ery pale but
brilliant eyes, "a/ed at 0ubrey in unbelie#in" ama/ement
stood 7uite motionless with both hands on the dinin" table,
as thou"h
thinkin" He felt the cold bruise of metal a"ainst the
hollow of his
cheek Slowly he opened his ri"ht hand and his re#ol#er
fell on the
linen cloth Then Ro"er burst into the room
Titania wrenched herself away from the chef
)! wouldn9t "i#e them the suitcase<) she cried
0ubrey kept his pistol pinned a"ainst +eintraub9s face
+ith his left
hand he picked up the dru""ist9s re#ol#er Ro"er was about
to sei/e
the chef, who was standin" uncertainly on the other side of
the table
)Here,) said 0ubrey, )take this "un ,o#er this fellow and
lea#e that
one to me !9#e "ot a score to settle with him)
The chef made a mo#ement as thou"h to 8ump throu"h the
window behind
him, but 0ubrey flun" himself upon him He hit the man
s7uare on the
nose and felt a delicious throb of satisfaction as the rubbery
flattened beneath his knuckles He sei/ed the man9s hairy
throat and
sank his fin"ers into it The other tried to snatch the bread
knife on
the table, but was too late He fell to the floor, and 0ubrey
throttled him sa#a"ely
)1ou blasted Hun,) he "runted )$o wrestlin" with "irls,
will youA)
Titania ran from the room, throu"h the pantry
Ro"er was holdin" +eintraub9s re#ol#er in front of the
$erman9s face
)Look here,) he said, )what does this meanA)
)!t9s all a mistake,) said the dru""ist sua#ely, thou"h his
eyes slid
uneasily to and fro )! 8ust came in to "et some books ! left
earlier in the afternoon)
)+ith a re#ol#er, ehA) said Ro"er )Speak up, Hindenbur",
what9s the
bi" ideaA)
)!t9s not my re#ol#er,) said +eintraub )!t9s %et/"er9s)
)+here9s this suitcase of yoursA) said Ro"er )+e9re "oin"
to ha#e a
look at it)
)!t9s all a stupid mistake,) said +eintraub )! left a suitcase
of old
books here for %et/"er, because ! e(pected to "o out of
town this
afternoon He called for it, and your youn" woman
wouldn9t "i#e it to
him He came to me, and ! came down here to tell her it
was all ri"ht)
)!s that %et/"erA) said Ro"er, pointin" to the bearded man
who was
tryin" to break 0ubrey9s "rip )$ilbert, don9t choke that
man, we want
him to do some e(plainin")
0ubrey "ot up, picked his re#ol#er from the floor where he
had dropped
it, and prodded the chef to his feet
)+ell, you swine,) he said, )how did you en8oy fallin"
downstairs the
other e#enin"A 0s for you, Herr +eintraub, !9d like to
know what kind
of prescriptions you make up in that cellar of yours)
+eintraub9s face shone damply in the lampli"ht
*erspiration was thick
on his forehead
)%y dear %ifflin,) he said, )this is awfully stupid !n my
!9m afraid6666)
Titania ran back into the room, followed by Helen, whose
face was
)Thank $od you9re back, Ro"er,) she said )These brutes
tied me up in
the kitchen and "a""ed me with a roller6towel They
threatened to
shoot Titania if she wouldn9t "i#e them the suitcase)
+eintraub be"an to say somethin", but Ro"er thrust the
re#ol#er between
his eyes
)Hold your ton"ue<) he said )+e9re "oin" to ha#e a look
at those
books of yours)
)!9ll "et the suitcase,) said Titania )! hid it +hen %r
came in and asked for it, at first ! was "oin" to "i#e it to
him, but
he looked so 7ueer ! thou"ht somethin" must be wron")
).on9t you "et it,) said 0ubrey, and their eyes met for the
first time
)Show me where it is, and we9ll let friend Hun brin" it)
Titania flushed a little )!t9s in my bedroom cupboard,) she
She led the way upstairs, %et/"er followin", and 0ubrey
behind %et/"er
with his pistol ready Outside the bedroom door 0ubrey
halted )Show
him the suitcase and let him pick it up,) he said )!f he
makes a
wron" mo#ement, call me, and !9ll shoot him)
Titania pointed out the suitcase, which she had stowed at
the back of
her cupboard behind some clothes The chef showed no
and the three returned downstairs
)-ery well,) said Ro"er )+e9ll "o down in the shop where
we can see
better *erhaps he9s "ot a first folio Shakespeare in here
you "o to the phone and rin" up the %c&ee Street police
station 0sk
them to send a couple of men round here at once)
)%y dear %ifflin,) said +eintraub, )this is #ery absurd
Only a few
old books that ! had collected from time to time)
)! don9t call it absurd when a man comes into my house and
ties my wife
up with clothesline and threatens to shoot a youn" "irl,)
said Ro"er
)+e9ll see what the police ha#e to say about this,
+eintraub .on9t
make any mistake: if you try to bolt !9ll blow your brains
0ubrey led the way down into the shop while %et/"er
carried the
suitcase Ro"er and +eintraub followed, and Titania
brou"ht up the
rear ;nder a bri"ht li"ht in the Essay alco#e 0ubrey made
the chef
lay the ba" on the table
)Open her up,) he said curtly
)!t9s nothin" but some old books,) said %et/"er
)!f they9re old enou"h they may be #aluable,) said Ro"er
interested in old books Look sharp<)
%et/"er drew a key from his pocket and unlocked the ba"
0ubrey held
the pistol at his head as he threw back the lid
The suitcase was full of second6hand books closely packed
Ro"er, with "reat presence of mind, was keepin" his eyes
on +eintraub
)Tell me what9s in it,) he said
)+hy, it9s only a lot of books, after all,) cried Titania
)1ou see,) said +eintraub surlily, )there9s no mystery about
it !9m
sorry ! was so6666)
)Oh, look<) said Titania= )There9s the ,romwell book<)
&or an instant Ro"er for"ot himself He looked
instincti#ely at the
suitcase, and in that moment the dru""ist broke away, ran
down the
aisle, and flew out of the door Ro"er dashed after him, but
was too
late 0ubrey was holdin" %et/"er by the collar with the
pistol at his
)$ood $od,) he said, )why didn9t you shootA)
)! don9t know) said Ro"er in confusion )! was afraid of
hittin" him
'e#er mind, we can fi( him later)
)The police will be here in a minute,) said Helen, callin"
from the
telephone )!9m "oin" to let Bock in He9s in the back
)! think they9re both cra/y,) said Titania )Let9s put the
back on the shelf and let this creature "o) She put out her
hand for
the book
)Stop<) cried 0ubrey, and sei/ed her arm ).on9t touch that
Titania shrank back, fri"htened by his #oice Had e#eryone
"one insaneA
)Here, %r %et/"er,) said 0ubrey, )you put that book back
on the shelf
where it belon"s .on9t try to "et away !9#e "ot this
pointed at you)
He and Ro"er were both startled by the chef9s face 0bo#e
the unkempt
beard his eyes shone with a half6cra/ed lustre, and his
hands shook
)-ery well,) he said )Show me where it "oes)
)!9ll show you,) said Titania
0ubrey put out his arm in front of the "irl )Stay where
you are,) he
said an"rily
).own in the History alco#e,) said Ro"er )The front
alco#e on the
other side of the shop +e9#e both "ot you co#ered)
!nstead of takin" the #olume from the suitcase, %et/"er
picked up the
whole ba", holdin" it flat He carried it to the alco#e they
indicated He placed the case carefully on the floor, and
picked the
,romwell #olume out of it
)+here would you want it to "oA) he said in an odd #oice
)This is a
#aluable book)
)On the fifth shelf,) said Ro"er )O#er there6666)
)&or $od9s sake stand back,) said 0ubrey ).on9t "o near
him There9s
somethin" damnable about this)
)1ou poor fools<) cried %et/"er harshly )To hell with you
and your
old books) He drew his hand back as thou"h to throw the
#olume at
There was a 7uick patter of feet, and Bock, "rowlin", ran
down the
aisle !n the same instant, 0ubrey, obeyin" some
une(plained impulse,
"a#e Ro"er a #iolent push back into the &iction alco#e,
sei/ed Titania
rou"hly in his arms, and ran with her toward the back of the
%et/"er9s arm was raised, about to throw the book, when
Bock darted at
him and buried his teeth in the man9s le" The ,romwell
fell from his
There was a shatterin" e(plosion, a dull roar, and for an
0ubrey thou"ht the whole bookshop had turned into a #ast
spinnin" top
The floor rocked and sa""ed, shel#es of books were hurled
in e#ery
direction ,arryin" Titania, he had 8ust reached the steps
leadin" to
the domestic 7uarters when they were flun" sideways into
the corner
behind Ro"er9s desk The air was full of flyin" books 0
row of
encyclopedias crashed down upon his shoulders, narrowly
Titania9s head The front windows were shi#ered into
flyin" streamers
of broken "lass The table near the door was hurled into
the opposite
"allery +ith a splinterin" crash the corner of the "allery
abo#e the
History alco#e collapsed, and hundreds of #olumes
cascaded hea#ily on
to the floor The li"hts went out, and for an instant all was
)0re you all ri"htA) said 0ubrey hastily He and Titania
had fallen
sprawlin" a"ainst the bookseller9s desk
)! think so,) she said faintly )+here9s %r %ifflinA)
0ubrey put out his hand to help her, and touched somethin"
wet on the
floor )$ood hea#ens,) he thou"ht )She9s dyin"<) He
stru""led to his
feet in the darkness )Hullo, %r %ifflin,) he called,
)where are youA)
There was no answer
0 beam of li"ht "ushed out from the passa"eway behind the
shop, and
pickin" his way o#er fallen litter he found %rs %ifflin
standin" da/ed
by the dinin"6room door !n the back of the house the
li"hts were
still burnin"
)&or hea#en9s sake, ha#e you a candleA) he said
)+here9s Ro"erA) she cried piteously, and stumbled into
the kitchen
+ith a candle 0ubrey found Titania sittin" on the floor,
#ery faint,
but unhurt +hat he had thou"ht was blood pro#ed to be a
pool of ink
from a 7uart bottle that had stood o#er Ro"er9s desk He
picked her up
like a child and carried her into the kitchen )Stay here and
stir,) he said
By this time a crowd was already "atherin" on the
pa#ement Someone
came in with a lantern Three policemen appeared at the
)&or $od9s sake,) cried 0ubrey, )"et a li"ht in here so we
can see
what9s happened %ifflin9s buried in this mess somewhere
rin" for an ambulance)
The whole front of the Haunted Bookshop was a wreck !n
the pale
"limmer of the lantern it was a disastrous si"ht Helen
"roped her way
down the shattered aisle
)+here was heA) she cried wildly
)Thanks to that set of Trollope,) said a #oice in the remains
of the
&iction alco#e, )! think !9m all ri"ht Books make "ood
shock6absorbers !s any one hurtA)
!t was Ro"er, half stunned, but undama"ed He crawled out
from under a
case of shel#es that had crumpled down upon him
)Brin" that lantern o#er here,) said 0ubrey, pointin" to a
dark heap
lyin" on the floor under the broken fra"ments of Ro"er9s
bulletin board
!t was the chef He was dead 0nd clin"in" to his le" was
all that
was left of Bock
,hapter F-
%r ,hapman +a#es His +and
$issin" Street will not soon for"et the e(plosion at the
Bookshop +hen it was learned that the cellar of
+eintraub9s pharmacy
contained 8ust the information for which the .epartment of
Gustice had
been lookin" for four years, and that the inoffensi#e
dru""ist had been the artisan of hundreds of incendiary
bombs that had
been placed on 0merican and 0llied shippin" and in
plants66and that this same +eintraub had committed suicide
arrested on Bromfield Street in Boston the ne(t day66
$issin" Street
hummed with e(citement The %ilwaukee Lunch did a
roarin" business
amon" the sensation seekers who came to #iew the ruins of
the bookshop
+hen it became known that fra"ments of a cabin plan of
the $eor"e
+ashin"ton had been found in %et/"er9s pocket, and the
confession of an
accomplice on the kitchen staff of the Octa"on Hotel
showed that the
bomb, dis"uised as a copy of one of +oodrow +ilson9s
fa#ourite books,
was to ha#e been placed in the *residential suite of the
indi"nation knew no bounds %rs G & Smith left %rs
lod"in"s, declarin" that she would stay no lon"er in a pro6
colony= and 0ubrey was able at last to "et a much6needed
&or the ne(t three days he was too busy with a"ents of the
of Gustice to be able to carry on an in#esti"ation of his own
"reatly occupied his mind But late on &riday afternoon he
called at
the bookshop to talk thin"s o#er
The debris had all been neatly cleared away, and the
shattered front of
the buildin" boarded up !nside, 0ubrey found Ro"er
seated on the
floor, lookin" o#er piles of #olumes that were heaped pell6
mell around
him Throu"h %r ,hapman9s influence with a well6known
firm of
builders, the bookseller had been able to "et men to work at
once in
makin" repairs, but e#en so it would be at least ten days, he
before he could reopen for business )! hate to lose the
#alue of all
this ad#ertisin",) he lamented )!t isn9t often that a second6
bookstore "ets onto the front pa"es of the newspapers)
)! thou"ht you didn9t belie#e in ad#ertisin",) said 0ubrey
)The kind of ad#ertisin" ! belie#e in,) said Ro"er, )is the
kind that
doesn9t cost you anythin")
0ubrey smiled as he looked round at the dismantled shop
)!t seems to
me that this9ll cost you a tidy bit when the bill comes in)
)%y dear fellow,) said Ro"er, )This is 8ust what ! needed !
"ettin" into a rut The e(plosion has blown out a whole lot
of books !
had for"otten about and didn9t e#en know ! had Look,
here9s an old
copy of How to Be Happy Thou"h %arried, which ! see the
publisher lists
as 9&iction9 Here9s ;rn Burial, and The Lo#e 0ffairs of a
Bibliomaniac, and %istletoe9s Book of .eplorable &acts
!9m "oin" to
ha#e a thorou"h house6cleanin" !9m thinkin" seriously of
puttin" in a
#acuum cleaner and a cash re"ister Titania was 7uite ri"ht,
the place
was too dirty That "irl has "i#en me a lot of ideas)
0ubrey wanted to ask where she was, but didn9t like to say
)There9s no 7uestion about it,) said Ro"er, )an e(plosion
now and then
does one "ood Since the reporters "ot here and dra""ed
the whole yarn
out of us, !9#e had half a do/en offers from publishers for
my book, a
lyceum bureau wants me to lecture on Booksellin" as a
&orm of *ublic
Ser#ice, !9#e had fi#e hundred letters from people askin"
when the shop
will reopen for business, and the 0merican Booksellers9
0ssociation has
in#ited me to "i#e an address at its con#ention ne(t sprin"
!t9s the
first reco"nition !9#e e#er had !f it weren9t for poor dear
Bock6666 ,ome, we9#e buried him in the back yard ! want
to show you
his "ra#e)
O#er a pathetically small mound near the fence a bunch of
bi" yellow
chrysanthemums were standin" in a #ase
)Titania put those there,) said Ro"er )She says she9s "oin"
to plant
a do"wood tree there in the sprin" +e intend to put up a
little stone
for him, and !9m tryin" to think of an inscription, ! thou"ht
of .e
%ortuis 'il 'isi Bonum, but that9s a bit too flippant)
The li#in" 7uarters of the house had not been dama"ed by
the e(plosion,
and Ro"er took 0ubrey back to the den )1ou9#e come 8ust
at the ri"ht
time,) he said )%r ,hapman9s comin" to dinner this
e#enin", and
we9ll all ha#e a "ood talk There9s a lot about this business
! don9t
understand yet)
0ubrey was still keepin" his eye open for a si"n of Titania9s
and Ro"er noticed his wanderin" "a/e
)This is %iss ,hapman9s afternoon off,) he said )She "ot
her first
salary to6day, and was so much e(hilarated that she went to
'ew 1ork to
blow it in She9s out with her father E(cuse me, please,
!9m "oin"
to help Helen "et dinner ready)
0ubrey sat down by the fire, and lit his pipe The burden
of his
meditation was that it was 8ust a week since he had first met
and in all that week there had been no wakin" moment
when he had not
thou"ht of her He was wonderin" how lon" it mi"ht take
for a "irl to
fall in lo#eA 0 man66he knew now66could fall in lo#e in
fi#e minutes,
but how did it work with "irlsA He was also thinkin" what
.aintybits ad#ertisin" copy he could build ?like all ad men
he always
spoke of buildin" an ad, ne#er of writin" one@ out of this
affair if he
could only use the inside stuff
He heard a rustle behind him, and there she was She had
on a "ray fur
coat and a li#ely little hat Her cheeks were delicately
tinted by the
winter air 0ubrey rose
)+hy, %r $ilbert<) she said )+here ha#e you been
keepin" yourself
when ! wanted to see you so badlyA ! ha#en9t seen you, not
to talk to,
since last Sunday)
He found it impossible to say anythin" intelli"ible She
threw off her
coat, and went on, with a wistful "ra#ity that became her
e#en more
than smiles:
)%r %ifflin has told me some more about what you did
last week66!
mean, how you took a room across the street and spied
upon that hateful
man and saw throu"h the whole thin" when we were too
blind to know what
was "oin" on 0nd ! want to apolo"i/e for the silly thin"s !
said that
Sunday mornin" +ill you for"i#e meA)
0ubrey had ne#er felt his self6salesmanship ability at such
a low ebb
To his unspeakable horror, he felt his eyes betray him
They "rew
)*lease don9t talk like that,) he said )! had no ri"ht to do
what !
did, anyway 0nd ! was wron" in what ! said about %r
%ifflin !
don9t wonder you were an"ry)
)'ow surely you9re not "oin" to depri#e me of the pleasure
of thankin"
you,) she said )1ou know as well as ! do that you sa#ed
my life66all
our li#es, that ni"ht ! "uess you9d ha#e sa#ed poor Bock9s,
too, if
you could) Her eyes filled with tears
)!f anybody deser#es credit, it9s you,) he said )+hy, if it
been for you they9d ha#e been away with that suitcase and
%et/"er would ha#e "ot his bomb on board the ship and
blown up the
)!9m not ar"uin" with you,) she said )!9m 8ust thankin"
!t was a happy little party that sat down in Ro"er9s dinin"
room that
e#enin" Helen had prepared E""s Samuel Butler in
0ubrey9s honour, and
%r ,hapman had brou"ht two bottles of champa"ne to
pled"e the future
success of the bookshop 0ubrey was called upon to
announce the result
of his conferences with the secret ser#ice men who had
been lookin" up
+eintraub9s record
)!t all seems so simple now,) he said, )that ! wonder we
didn9t see
throu"h it at once 1ou see, we all made the mistake of
assumin" that
$erman plottin" would stop automatically when the
armistice was si"ned
!t seems that this man +eintraub was one of the most
dan"erous spies
$ermany had in this country Thirty or forty fires and
e(plosions on
our ships at sea are said to ha#e been due to his work 0s
he had
li#ed here so lon" and taken out citi/en9s papers, no one
him But after his death, his wife, whom he had treated
#ery brutally,
"a#e way and told a "reat deal about his acti#ities
0ccordin" to her,
as soon as it was announced that the *resident would "o to
the *eace
,onference, +eintraub made up his mind to "et a bomb
into the
*resident9s cabin on board the $eor"e +ashin"ton %rs
+eintraub tried
to dissuade him from it, as she was in secret opposed to
murderous plots of his, but he threatened to kill her if she
him She li#ed in terror of her life ! can belie#e it, for !
remember her face when her husband looked at her
)Of course to make the bomb was simple enou"h for
+eintraub He had an
infernally complete laboratory in the cellar of his house,
where he had
made hundreds The problem was, how to make a bomb
that would not look
suspicious, and how to "et it into the *resident9s pri#ate
cabin He
hit on the idea of bindin" it into the co#er of a book How
he came to
choose that particular #olume, ! don9t know)
)! think probably ! "a#e him the idea 7uite innocently,) said
)He used to come in here a "ood deal and one day he asked
me whether
%r +ilson was a "reat reader ! said that ! belie#ed he
was, and then
mentioned the ,romwell, which ! had heard was one of
+ilson9s fa#ourite
books +eintraub was much interested and said he must
read the book
some day ! remember now that he stood in that alco#e for
some time,
lookin" o#er it)
)+ell,) said 0ubrey, )it must ha#e seemed to him that luck
was playin"
into his hands This man %et/"er, who had been an
assistant chef at
the Octa"on for years, was slated to "o on board the $eor"e
with the party of cooks from that hotel who were to prepare
*resident9s meals +eintraub was informed of all this from
hi"her up in the $erman spy or"ani/ation %et/"er, who
was known as
%essier at the hotel, was a #ery cle#er chef, and had fake
passports as
a Swiss citi/en He was another tool of the or"ani/ation
By the
ori"inal scheme there would ha#e been no direct
communication between
+eintraub and %et/"er, but the "o6between was spotted by
the .epartment
of Gustice on another count, and is now behind bars at
)!t seems that +eintraub had concei#ed the idea that the
suspicious way of passin" his messa"es to %et/"er would
be to slip them
into a copy of some book66a book little likely to be
purchased66in a
second6hand bookshop %et/"er had been informed what
the book was,
but66perhaps owin" to the une(pected remo#al of the "o6
between66did not
know in which shop he was to find it That e(plains why
so many
booksellers had in7uiries from him recently for a copy of
the ,romwell
)+eintraub, of course, was not at all an(ious to ha#e any
dealin"s with %et/"er, as the dru""ist had a hi"h re"ard for
his own
skin +hen the chef was finally informed where the
bookshop was in
which he was to see the book, he hurried o#er here
+eintraub had
picked out this shop not only because it was as unlikely as
any place
on earth to be suspected as a channel of spy codes, but also
because he
had your confidence and could drop in fre7uently without
surprise The first time %et/"er came here happened to be
the ni"ht !
dined with you, as you remember)
Ro"er nodded )He asked for the book, and to my surprise,
it wasn9t
)'o: for the e(cellent reason that +eintraub had taken it
some days
before, to measure it so he could build his infernal machine
to fit,
and also to ha#e it rebound He needed the ori"inal bindin"
as a case
for his bomb The followin" ni"ht, as you told me, it came
back He
brou"ht it himself, ha#in" pro#ided himself with a key to
your front
)!t was "one a"ain on Thursday ni"ht, when the ,orn ,ob
,lub met here,)
said %r ,hapman
)1es, that time %et/"er had taken it,) said 0ubrey )He
his instructions, and thou"ht he was to steal the book 1ou
see, owin"
to the absence of their third man, they were workin" at
cross purposes
%et/"er, ! think, was only intended to "et his information
out of the
book, and lea#e it where it was 0t any rate, he was
pu//led, and
inserted that ad in the Times the ne(t mornin"66that LOST
ad, you
remember By that, ! ima"ine, he intended to con#ey the
idea that he
had located the bookshop, but didn9t know what to do ne(t
0nd the
date he mentioned in the ad, midni"ht on Tuesday,
.ecember third, was
to inform +eintraub ?of whose identity he was still
i"norant@ when
%et/"er was to "o on board the ship +eintraub had been
instructed by
their spy or"ani/ation to watch the LOST and &O;'.
)Think of it<) cried Titania
)+ell,) continued 0ubrey, )all this may not be 4DD per cent
but after puttin" thin"s to"ether this is how it dopes out
who was as canny as they make them, saw he9d ha#e to "et
into direct
touch with %et/"er He sent him word, on the &riday, to
come o#er to
see him and brin" the book %et/"er, meanwhile, had had
a bad fri"ht
when ! spoke to him in the hotel ele#ator He returned the
book to the
shop that ni"ht, as %rs %ifflin remembers Then, when !
stopped in at
the dru" store on my way home, he must ha#e been with
+eintraub !
found the ,romwell co#er in the dru"6store bookcase66why
+eintraub was
careless enou"h to lea#e it there ! can9t "uess66and they
spotted me
ri"ht away as ha#in" some kind of hunch So they
followed me o#er the
Brid"e and tried to "et rid of me !t was because ! "ot that
co#er on
&riday ni"ht that +eintraub broke into the shop a"ain early
mornin" He had to ha#e the co#er of the book to bind his
bomb in)
0ubrey was a"reeably conscious of the close attention of
his audience
He cau"ht Titania9s "a/e, and flushed a little
)That9s pretty nearly all there is to it,) he said )! knew that
those "uys were so keen to put me out of the way there
must be
somethin" rather rotten on foot ! came o#er to Brooklyn
the ne(t
afternoon, Saturday, and took a room across the street)
)0nd we went to the mo#ies,) chirped Titania
)The rest of it ! think you all know66e(cept %et/"er9s #isit
to my
lod"in"s that ni"ht) He described the incident )1ou see
they were
trailin" me pretty close !f ! hadn9t happened to notice the
ci"ar at
my window ! "uess he9d ha#e had me on toast Of course
you know how
wron"ly ! doped it out ! thou"ht %r %ifflin was runnin"
with them,
and ! owe him my apolo"y for that He9s laid me out once
on that
score, o#er in *hiladelphia)
Humourously, 0ubrey narrated how he had sleuthed the
bookseller to
Ludlow Street, and had been worsted in battle
)! think they counted on disposin" of me sooner or later,)
said 0ubrey
)They framed up that telephone call to "et %r %ifflin out
of town
The point in ha#in" %et/"er come to the bookshop to "et
the suitcase
was to clear +eintraub9s skirts if possible 0pparently it
was 8ust a
ba" of old books The bombed book, ! "uess, was perfectly
until any one tried to open it)
)1ou both "ot back 8ust in the nick of time,) said Titania
)1ou see ! was all alone most of the afternoon +eintraub
left the
suitcase about two o9clock %et/"er came for it about si(
! refused
to let him ha#e it He was #ery persistent, and ! had to
threaten to
set Bock at him !t was all ! could do to hold the dear old
do" in, he
was so keen to "o for %et/"er The chef went away, and !
suppose he
went up to see +eintraub about it ! hid the suitcase in my
room %r
%ifflin had forbidden me to touch it, but ! thou"ht that the
thin" to do Then %rs %ifflin came in +e let Bock into
the yard for
a run, and were "ettin" supper ! heard the bell rin", and
went into
the shop There were the two $ermans, pullin" down the
shades !
asked what they meant by it, and they "rabbed me and told
me to shut
up Then %et/"er pointed a pistol at me while the other
one tied up
%rs %ifflin)
)The damned scoundrels<) cried 0ubrey )They "ot what
was comin" to
)+ell, my friends,) said %r ,hapman, )Let9s thank hea#en
that it ended
no worse %r $ilbert, ! ha#en9t told you yet how ! feel
about the
whole affair That9ll come later !9d like to propose the
health of
%r 0ubrey $ilbert, who is certainly the hero of this film<)
They drank the toast with cheers, and 0ubrey blushed
)Oh, ! for"ot somethin"<) cried Titania )+hen ! went
shoppin" this
afternoon ! stopped in at Brentano9s, and was lucky enou"h
to find 8ust
what ! wanted !t9s for %r $ilbert, as a sou#enir of the
She ran to the sideboard and brou"ht back a parcel
0ubrey opened it with deli"hted a"itation !t was a copy of
,romwell He tried to stammer his thanks, but what he
saw66or thou"ht
he saw66in Titania9s sparklin" face66unmanned him
)The same edition<) said Ro"er )'ow let9s see what those
mystic pa"e
numbers are< $ilbert, ha#e you "ot your memorandumA)
0ubrey took out his notebook )Here we are,) he said
)This is what
+eintraub wrote in the back of the co#er)
4CE ?E@ 4, 2
Ro"er "lanced at the notation
)That ou"ht to be easy,) he said )1ou see in this edition
#olumes are bound in one Let9s look at pa"e 4CE in the
third #olume,
the first and second lines)
0ubrey turned to the place He read, and smiled
)Ri"ht you are,) he said
)Read it<) they all cried
)To seduce the *rotector9s "uard, to blow up the *rotector
in his
bedroom, and do other little fiddlin" thin"s)
)! shouldn9t wonder if that9s where he "ot his idea,) said
)+hat ha#e ! been sayin" ri"ht alon"66that books aren9t
merely dead
)$ood "racious,) said Titania )1ou told me that books are
1ou were ri"ht, weren9t you< But it9s lucky %r $ilbert
didn9t hear
you say it or he9d certainly ha#e suspected you<)
)The 8oke is on me,) said Ro"er
)+ell, !9-E "ot a toast to propose,) said Titania )Here9s to
memory of Bock, the dearest, bra#est do" ! e#er met<)
They drank it with due "ra#ity
)+ell, "ood people,) said %r ,hapman, )there9s nothin"
we can do for
Bock now But we can do somethin" for the rest of us !9#e
talkin" with Titania, %r %ifflin !9m bound to say that
after this
disaster my first thou"ht was to "et her out of the book
business as
fast as ! could ! thou"ht it was a little too e(citin" for her
know ! sent her o#er here to ha#e a 7uiet time and calm
down a bit
But she wouldn9t hear of lea#in" 0nd if !9m "oin" to ha#e
a family
interest in the book business ! want to do somethin" to
8ustify it !
know your idea about tra#ellin" book6wa"ons, and takin"
literature into
the countryside 'ow if you and %rs %ifflin can find the
people to run them, !9ll finance a fleet of ten of those
you9re always talkin" about, and ha#e them built in time to
"o on the
road ne(t sprin" How about itA)
Ro"er and Helen looked at each other, and at %r ,hapman
!n a flash
Ro"er saw one of his dearest dreams comin" true Titania,
to whom this
was a surprise, leaped from her chair and ran to kiss her
cryin", )Oh, .addy, you 0RE a darlin"<)
Ro"er rose solemnly and "a#e %r ,hapman his hand
)%y dear sir,) he said, )%iss Titania has found the ri"ht
word 1ou
are an honour to human nature, sir, and ! hope you9ll ne#er
li#e to
re"ret it This is the happiest moment of my life)
)Then that9s settled,) said %r ,hapman )+e9ll "o o#er the
later 'ow there9s another thin" on my mind *erhaps !
brin" up business matters here, but this is a kind of family
$ilbert, it9s my duty to inform you that ! intend to take my
ad#ertisin" out of the hands of the $rey6%atter 0"ency)
0ubrey9s heart
sank He had feared a catastrophe of this kind from the
'aturally a hard6headed business man would not care to
entrust such
#ast interests to a firm whose youn" men went careerin"
about like
secret ser#ice a"ents, huntin" for spies, ea#esdroppin" in
alleys, and
accusin" people of pro6"ermanism Business, 0ubrey said
to himself, is
built upon ,onfidence, and what confidence could %r
,hapman ha#e in
such #a"abond and romantic doin"sA Still, he felt that he
had done
nothin" to be ashamed of
)!9m sorry, sir,) he said )+e ha#e tried to "i#e you ser#ice
assure you that !9#e spent by far the lar"er part of my time
at the
office in workin" up plans for your campai"ns)
He could not bear to look at Titania, ashamed that she
should be the
witness of his humiliation
)That9s e(actly it,) said %r ,hapman )! don9t want 8ust
the lar"er
part of your time ! want all of it ! want you to accept the
position of assistant ad#ertisin" mana"er of the .aintybits
They all cheered, and for the third time that e#enin"
0ubrey felt more
o#erwhelmed than any "ood ad#ertisin" man is accustomed
to feel He
tried to e(press his deli"ht, and then added:
)! think it9s my turn to propose a toast ! "i#e you the
health of %r
and %rs %ifflin, and their Haunted Bookshop, the place
where !
first66! first6666)
His coura"e failed him, and he concluded, )&irst learned
the meanin" of
)Suppose we ad8ourn to the den,) said Helen )+e ha#e so
deli"htful thin"s to talk o#er, and ! know Ro"er wants to
tell you all
about the impro#ements he is plannin" for the shop)
0ubrey lin"ered to be the last, and it is to be con8ectured
Titania did not drop her handkerchief merely by accident
The others
had already crossed the hall into the sittin" room
Their eyes met, and 0ubrey could feel himself drowned in
her steady,
honest "a/e He was tortured by the bliss of bein" so near
her, and
alone The rest of the world seemed to shred away and
lea#e them
standin" in that little island of li"ht where the tablecloth
under the lamp
!n his hand he clutched the precious book Out of all the
thin"s he thou"ht, there was only one he dared to say
)+ill you write my name in itA)
)!9d lo#e to,) she said, a little shakily, for she, too, was
alarmed at certain throbbin"s
He "a#e her his pen, and she sat down at the table She
wrote 7uickly
&or 0ubrey $ilbert
&rom Titania ,hapman
+ith much "r
She paused
)Oh,) she said 7uickly ).o ! ha#e to finish it nowA)
She looked up at him, with the lampli"ht shinin" on her
#i#id face
0ubrey felt oddly stupefied, and was thinkin" only of the
little "olden
sparkle of her eyelashes This time her eyes were the first
to turn
)1ou see,) she said with a funny little 7ua#er, )! mi"ht want
to chan"e
the wordin") 0nd she ran from the room
0s she entered the den, her father was speakin" )1ou
know,) he said,
)!9m rather "lad she wants to stay in the book business)
Ro"er looked
up at her
)+ell,) he said, )! belie#e it a"rees with her< 1ou know,
the beauty
of li#in" in a place like this is that you "et so absorbed in
the books
you don9t ha#e any temptation to worry about anythin"
else The people
in books become more real to you than any one in actual
Titania, sittin" on the arm of %rs %ifflin9s chair, took
Helen9s hand,
unobser#ed by the others They smiled at each other slyly
The End

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