I had a curious feeling of bewilderment when I woke the next morning. The bare room with the red-and-blue rag carpet and green china toilet set was utterly strange. In the hall outside I heard a clock strike. “Heavens!” I thought, “I’ve overslept myself nearly two hours. What on earth will Andrew do for breakfast?” And then as I ran to close the window I saw the blue Parnassus with its startling red letters standing in the yard. Instantly I remembered. And discreetly peeping from behind the window shade I saw that the Professor, armed with a tin of paint, was blotting out his own name on the side of the van, evidently intending to substitute mine. That was something I had not thought of. However, I might as well make the best of it.
I dressed promptly, repacked my bag, and hurried downstairs for breakfast. The long table was nearly empty, but one or two men sitting at the other end eyed me curiously. Through the window I could see my name in large, red letters, growing on the side of the van, as the Professor diligently wielded his brush. And when I had finished my coffee and beans and bacon I noticed with some amusement that the Professor had painted out the line about Shakespeare, Charles Lamb, and so on, and had substituted new lettering. The sign now read:
GOOD BOOKS FOR SALE
COOK BOOKS A SPECIALTY
Evidently he distrusted my familiarity with the classics.
I paid my bill at the desk, and was careful also to pay the charge for putting up the horse and van overnight. Then I strolled into the stable yard, where I found Mr. Mifflin regarding his handiwork with satisfaction. He had freshened up all the red lettering, which shone brilliantly in the morning sunlight.
“Good-morning,” I said.
He returned it.
“There!” he cried—“Parnassus is really yours! All the world lies before you! And I’ve got some more money for you. I sold some books last night. I persuaded the hotel keeper to buy several volumes of O. Henry for his smoking-room shelf, and I sold the ’Waldorf Cook Book’ to the cook. My! wasn’t her coffee awful? I hope the cook book will better it.”
He handed me two limp bills and a handful of small change. I took it gravely and put it in my purse. This was really not bad—more than ten dollars in less than twenty-four hours.
“Parnassus seems to be a gold mine,” I said.
“Which way do you think you’ll go?” he asked.
“Well, as I know you want to get to Port Vigor I might just as well give you a lift that way,” I answered.
“Good! I was hoping you’d say that. They tell me the stage for Port Vigor doesn’t leave till noon, and I think it would kill me to hang around here all morning with no books to sell. Once I get on the train I’ll be all right.”