“I said that our shop was haunted, and mustn’t be supposed to come under the usual conditions of the trade.”
“Bully for you! And what did Joe say to that?”
“‘Haunted by the nuts!’”
“Well,” said Roger, “when literature goes bankrupt I’m willing to go with it. Not till then. But by the way, we’re going to be haunted by a beauteous damsel pretty soon. You remember my telling you that Mr. Chapman wants to send his daughter to work in the shop? Well, here’s a letter I had from him this morning.”
He rummaged in his pocket, and produced the following,
which Mrs. Mifflin read:
I am so delighted that you and Mrs. Mifflin are willing to try the experiment of taking my daughter as an apprentice. Titania is really a very charming girl, and if only we can get some of the “finishing school” nonsense out of her head she will make a fine woman. She has had (it was my fault, not hers) the disadvantage of being brought up, or rather brought down, by having every possible want and whim gratified. Out of kindness for herself and her future husband, if she should have one, I want her to learn a little about earning a living. She is nearly nineteen, and I told her if she would try the bookshop job for a while I would take her to Europe for a year afterward.
As I explained to you, I want her to think she is really earning her way. Of course I don’t want the routine to be too hard for her, but I do want her to get some idea of what it means to face life on one’s own. If you will pay her ten dollars a week as a beginner, and deduct her board from that, I will pay you twenty dollars a week, privately, for your responsibility in caring for her and keeping your and Mrs. Mifflin’s friendly eyes on her. I’m coming round to the Corn Cob meeting to-morrow night, and we can make the final arrangements.
Luckily, she is very fond of books, and I really think she is looking forward to the adventure with much anticipation. I overheard her saying to one of her friends yesterday that she was going to do some “literary work” this winter. That’s the kind of nonsense I want her to outgrow. When I hear her say that she’s got a job in a bookstore, I’ll know she’s cured.
“Well?” said Roger, as Mrs. Mifflin made no comment. “Don’t you think it will be rather interesting to get a naive young girl’s reactions toward the problems of our tranquil existence?”
“Roger, you blessed innocent!” cried his wife. “Life will no longer be tranquil with a girl of nineteen round the place. You may fool yourself, but you can’t fool me. A girl of nineteen doesn’t react toward things. She explodes. Things don’t ‘react’ anywhere but in Boston and in chemical laboratories. I suppose you know you’re taking a human bombshell into the arsenal?”