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Title: The Maltese Falcon
Author: Hammett, Dashiell [Samuel Dashiell] (1894-1961)
Date of first publication: 14 February 1930
Edition used as base for this ebook:New York: Alfred A. Knopf, undated
Date first posted: 2 January 2017
Date last updated: 2 January 2017
Project Gutenberg Canada ebook #1387
This ebook was produced by Al Haines, Cindy Beyer,Mark Akrigg & the Online Distributed Proofreading Canada Teamat http://www.pgdpcanada.net
Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected.
As part of the conversion of the book to its new digitalformat, we have made certain minor adjustments in its layout,and have added a table of contents.
by Dashiell Hammett
2. Death in the Fog
3. Three Women
4. The Black Bird
5. The Levantine
6. The Undersized Shadow
7. G in the Air
8. Horse Feathers
10. The Belvedere Divan
11. The Fat Man
13. The Emperor's Gift
14. La Paloma
15. Every Crackpot
16. The Third Murder
17. Saturday Night
18. The Fall-Guy
19. The Russian's Hand
20. If They Hang You
THE MALTESE FALCON
Samuel Spade's jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under themore flexible v of his mouth. His nostrils curved back to make another,smaller, v. His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal. The v motif waspicked up again by thickish brows rising outward from twin creases abovea hooked nose, and his pale brown hair grew down--from high flattemples--in a point on his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like ablond satan.
He said to Effie Ferine: "Yes, sweetheart?"
She was a lanky sunburned girl whose tan dress of thin woolen stuffclung to her with an effect of dampness. Her eyes were brown and playfulin a shiny boyish face. She finished shutting the door behind her,leaned against it, and said: "There's a girl wants to see you. Hername's Wonderly."
"I guess so. You'll want to see her anyway: she's a knockout."
"Shoo her in, darling," said Spade. "Shoo her in."
Effie Ferine opened the door again, following it back into the outeroffice, standing with a hand on the knob while saying: "Will you comein, Miss Wonderly?"
A voice said, "Thank you," so softly that only the purest articulationmade the words intelligible, and a young woman came through the doorway.She advanced slowly, with tentative steps, looking at Spade withcobalt-blue eyes that were both shy and probing.
She was tall and pliantly slender, without angularity anywhere. Her bodywas erect and high-breasted, her legs long, her hands and feet narrow.She wore two shades of blue that had been selected because of her eyes.The hair curling from under her blue hat was darkly red, her full lipsmore brightly red. White teeth glistened in the crescent her timid smilemade.
Spade rose bowing and indicating with a thick-fingered hand the oakenarmchair beside his desk. He was quite six feet tall. The steep roundedslope of his shoulders made his body seem almost conical--no broaderthan it was thick--and kept his freshly pressed grey coat from fittingvery well.
Miss Wonderly murmured, "Thank you," softly as before and sat down onthe edge of the chair's wooden seat.
Spade sank into his swivel-chair, made a quarter-turn to face her,smiled politely. He smiled without separating his lips. All the v's inhis face grew longer.
The tappity-tap-tap and the thin bell and muffled whir of Effie Perine'stypewriting came through the closed door. Somewhere in a neighboringoffice a power-driven machine vibrated dully. On Spade's desk a limpcigarette smoldered in a brass tray filled with the remains of limpcigarettes. Ragged grey flakes of cigarette-ash dotted the yellow top ofthe desk and the green blotter and the papers that were there. Abuff-curtained window, eight or ten inches open, let in from the court acurrent of air faintly scented with ammonia. The ashes on the desktwitched and crawled in the current.
Miss Wonderly watched the grey flakes twitch and crawl. Her eyes wereuneasy. She sat on the very edge of the chair. Her feet were flat on thefloor, as if she were about to rise. Her hands in dark gloves clasped aflat dark handbag in her lap.
Spade rocked back in his chair and asked: "Now what can I do for you,Miss Wonderly?"
She caught her breath and looked at him. She swallowed and saidhurriedly: "Could you--? I thought--I--that is--" Then she tortured herlower lip with glistening teeth and said nothing. Only her dark eyesspoke now, pleading.
Spade smiled and nodded as if he understood her, but pleasantly, as ifnothing serious were involved. He said: "Suppose you tell me about it,from the beginning, and then we'll know what needs doing. Better beginas far back as you can."
"That was in New York."
"I don't know where she met him. I mean I don't know where in New York.She's five years younger than I--only seventeen--and we didn't have thesame friends. I don't suppose we've ever been as close as sisters shouldbe. Mama and Papa are in Europe. It would kill them. I've got to get herback before they come home."
"Yes," he said.
"They're coming home the first of the month."
Spade's eyes brightened. "Then we've two weeks," he said.
"I didn't know what she had done until her letter came. I was frantic."Her lips trembled. Her hands mashed the dark handbag in her lap. "I wastoo afraid she had done something like this to go to the police, and thefear that something had happened to her kept urging me to go. Therewasn't anyone I could go to for advice. I didn't know what to do. Whatcould I do?"
"Nothing, of course," Spade said, "but then her letter came?"
"Yes, and I sent her a telegram asking her to come home. I sent it toGeneral Delivery here. That was the only address she gave me. I waited awhole week, but no answer came, not another word from her. And Mama andPapa's return was drawing nearer and nearer. So I came to San Franciscoto get her. I wrote her I was coming. I shouldn't have done that, shouldI?"
"Maybe not. It's not always easy to know what to do. You haven't foundher?"
"No, I haven't. I wrote her that I would go to the St. Mark, and Ibegged her to come and let me talk to her even if she didn't intend togo home with me. But she didn't come. I waited three days, and shedidn't come, didn't even send me a message of any sort."
Spade nodded his blond satan's head, frowned sympathetically, andtightened his lips together.
"It was horrible," Miss Wonderly said, trying to smile. "I couldn't sitthere like that--waiting--not knowing what had happened to her, whatmight be happening to her." She stopped trying to smile. She shuddered."The only address I had was General Delivery. I wrote her anotherletter, and yesterday afternoon I went to the Post Office. I stayedthere until after dark, but I didn't see her. I went there again thismorning, and still didn't see Corinne, but I saw Floyd Thursby."
Spade nodded again. His frown went away. In its place came a look ofsharp attentiveness.
"He wouldn't tell me where Corinne was," she went on, hopelessly. "Hewouldn't tell me anything, except that she was well and happy. But howcan I believe that? That is what he would tell me anyhow, isn't it?"
"Sure," Spade agreed. "But it might be true."
"I hope it is. I do hope it is," she exclaimed. "But I can't go backhome like this, without having seen her, without even having talked toher on the phone. He wouldn't take me to her. He said she didn't want tosee me. I can't believe that. He promised to tell her he had seen me,and to bring her to see me--if she would come--this evening at thehotel. He said he knew she wouldn't. He promised to come himself if shewouldn't. He--"
She broke off with a startled hand to her mouth as the door opened.
* * * * *
The man who had opened the door came in a step, said, "Oh, excuse me!"hastily took his brown hat from his head, and backed out.
"It's all right, Miles," Spade told him. "Come in. Miss Wonderly, thisis Mr. Archer, my partner."
Miles Archer came into the office again, shutting the door behind him,ducking his head and smiling at Miss Wonderly, making a vaguely politegesture with the hat in his hand. He was of medium height, solidlybuilt, wide in the shoulders, thick in the neck, with a jovialheavy-jawed red face and some grey in his close-trimmed hair. He wasapparently as many years past forty as Spade was past thirty.
Spade said: "Miss Wonderly's sister ran away from New York with a fellownamed Floyd Thursby. They're here. Miss Wonderly has seen Thursby andhas a date with him tonight. Maybe he'll bring the sister with him. Thechances are he won't. Miss Wonderly wants us to find the sister and gether away from him and back home." He looked at Miss Wonderly. "Right?"
"Yes," she said indistinctly. The embarrassment that had gradually beendriven away by Spade's ingratiating smiles and nods and assurances waspinkening her face again. She looked at the bag in her lap and pickednervously at it with a gloved finger.
Spade winked at his partner.
Miles Archer came forward to stand at a corner of the desk. While thegirl looked at her bag he looked at her. His little brown eyes ran theirbold appraising gaze from her lowered face to her feet and up to herface again. Then he looked at Spade and made a silent whistling mouth ofappreciation.
Spade lifted two fingers from the arm of his chair in a brief warninggesture and said:
"We shouldn't have any trouble with it. It's simply a matter of having aman at the hotel this evening to shadow him away when he leaves, andshadow him until he leads us to your sister. If she comes with him, andyou persuade her to return with you, so much the better. Otherwise--ifshe doesn't want to leave him after we've found her--well, we'll find away of managing that."
Archer said: "Yeh." His voice was heavy, coarse.
Miss Wonderly looked up at Spade, quickly, puckering her foreheadbetween her eyebrows.
"Oh, but you must be careful!" Her voice shook a little, and her lipsshaped the words with nervous jerkiness. "I'm deathly afraid of him, ofwhat he might do. She's so young and his bringing her here from New Yorkis such a serious--Mightn't he--mightn't he do--something to her?"
Spade smiled and patted the arms of his chair.
"Just leave that to us," he said. "We'll know how to handle him."
"But mightn't he?" she insisted.
"There's always a chance." Spade nodded judicially. "But you can trustus to take care of that."
"I do trust you," she said earnestly, "but I want you to know that he'sa dangerous man. I honestly don't think he'd stop at anything. I don'tbelieve he'd hesitate to--to kill Corinne if he thought it would savehim. Mightn't he do that?"
"You didn't threaten him, did you?"
"I told him that all I wanted was to get her home before Mama and Papacame so they'd never know what she had done. I promised him I'd neversay a word to them about it if he helped me, but if he didn't Papa wouldcertainly see that he was punished. I--I don't suppose he believed me,altogether."
"Can he cover up by marrying her?" Archer asked.
The girl blushed and replied in a confused voice: "He has a wife andthree children in England. Corinne wrote me that, to explain why she hadgone off with him."
"They usually do," Spade said, "though not always in England." He leanedforward to reach for pencil and pad of paper. "What does he look like?"
"Oh, he's thirty-five years old, perhaps, and as tall as you, and eithernaturally dark or quite sunburned. His hair is dark too, and he hasthick eyebrows. He talks in a rather loud, blustery way and has anervous, irritable manner. He gives the impression of being--ofviolence."
Spade, scribbling on the pad, asked without looking up: "What coloreyes?"
"They're blue-grey and watery, though not in a weak way. And--oh,yes--he has a marked cleft in his chin."
"Thin, medium, or heavy build?"
"Quite athletic. He's broad-shouldered and carries himself erect, haswhat could be called a decidedly military carriage. He was wearing alight grey suit and a grey hat when I saw him this morning."
"What does he do for a living?" Spade asked as he laid down his pencil.
"I don't know," she said. "I haven't the slightest idea."
"What time is he coming to see you?"
"After eight o'clock."
"All right, Miss Wonderly, we'll have a man there. It'll help if--"
"Mr. Spade, could either you or Mr. Archer?" She made an appealinggesture with both hands. "Could either of you look after it personally?I don't mean that the man you'd send wouldn't be capable, but--oh!--I'mso afraid of what might happen to Corinne. I'm afraid of him. Could you?I'd be--I'd expect to be charged more, of course." She opened herhandbag with nervous fingers and put two hundred-dollar bills on Spade'sdesk. "Would that be enough?"
"Yeh," Archer said, "and I'll look after it myself."
Miss Wonderly stood up, impulsively holding a hand out to him.
"Thank you! Thank you!" she exclaimed, and then gave Spade her hand,repeating: "Thank you!"
"Not at all," Spade said over it. "Glad to. It'll help some if youeither meet Thursby downstairs or let yourself be seen in the lobby withhim at some time."
"I will," she promised, and thanked the partners again.
"And don't look for me," Archer cautioned her. "I'll see you all right."
* * * * *
Spade went to the corridor-door with Miss Wonderly. When he returned tohis desk Archer nodded at the hundred-dollar bills there, growledcomplacently, "They're right enough," picked one up, folded it, andtucked it into a vest-pocket. "And they had brothers in her bag."
Spade pocketed the other bill before he sat down. Then he said: "Well,don't dynamite her too much. What do you think of her?"
"Sweet! And you telling me not to dynamite her." Archer guffawedsuddenly without merriment. "Maybe you saw her first, Sam, but I spokefirst." He put his hands in his trousers-pockets and teetered on hisheels.
"You'll play hell with her, you will." Spade grinned wolfishly, showingthe edges of teeth far back in his jaw. "You've got brains, yes youhave." He began to make a cigarette.
2. Death in the Fog
A telephone-bell rang in darkness. When it had rung three timesbed-springs creaked, fingers fumbled on wood, something small and hardthudded on a carpeted floor, the springs creaked again, and a man'svoice said:
"Hello.... Yes, speaking.... Dead?... Yes.... Fifteenminutes. Thanks."
A switch clicked and a white bowl hung on three gilded chains from theceiling's center filled the room with light. Spade, barefooted in greenand white checked pajamas, sat on the side of his bed. He scowled at thetelephone on the table while his hands took from beside it a packet ofbrown papers and a sack of Bull Durham tobacco.
Cold steamy air blew in through two open windows, bringing with it halfa dozen times a minute the Alcatraz foghorn's dull moaning. A tinnyalarm-clock, insecurely mounted on a corner of Duke's CelebratedCriminal Cases of America--face down on the table--held its hands atfive minutes past two.
Spade's thick fingers made a cigarette with deliberate care, sifting ameasured quantity of tan flakes down into curved paper, spreading theflakes so that they lay equal at the ends with a slight depression inthe middle, thumbs rolling the paper's inner edge down and up under theouter edge as forefingers pressed it over, thumbs and fingers sliding tothe paper cylinder's ends to hold it even while tongue licked the flap,left forefinger and thumb pinching their end while right forefinger andthumb smoothed the damp seam, right forefinger and thumb twisting theirend and lifting the other to Spade's mouth.
He picked up the pigskin and nickel lighter that had fallen to thefloor, manipulated it, and with the cigarette burning in a corner of hismouth stood up. He took off his pajamas. The smooth thickness of hisarms, legs, and body, the sag of his big rounded shoulders, made hisbody like a bear's. It was like a shaved bear's: his chest was hairless.His skin was childishly soft and pink.
He scratched the back of his neck and began to dress. He put on a thinwhite union-suit, grey socks, black garters, and dark brown shoes. Whenhe had fastened his shoes he picked up the telephone, called Graystone4500, and ordered a taxicab. He put on a green-striped white shirt, asoft white collar, a green necktie, the grey suit he had worn that day,a loose tweed overcoat, and a dark grey hat. The street-door-bell rangas he stuffed tobacco, keys, and money into his pockets.
* * * * *
Where Bush Street roofed Stockton before slipping downhill to Chinatown,Spade paid his fare and left the taxicab. San Francisco's night-fog,thin, clammy, and penetrant, blurred the street. A few yards from whereSpade had dismissed the taxicab a small group of men stood looking up analley. Two women stood with a man on the other side of Bush Street,looking at the alley. There were faces at windows.
Spade crossed the sidewalk between iron-railed hatchways that openedabove bare ugly stairs, went to the parapet, and, resting his hands onthe damp coping, looked down into Stockton Street.
An automobile popped out of the tunnel beneath him with a roaring swish,as if it had been blown out, and ran away. Not far from the tunnel'smouth a man was hunkered on his heels before a billboard that heldadvertisements of a moving picture and a gasoline across the front of agap between two store-buildings. The hunkered man's head was bent almostto the sidewalk so he could look under the billboard. A hand flat on thepaving, a hand clenched on the billboard's green frame, held him in thisgrotesque position. Two other men stood awkwardly together at one end ofthe billboard, peeping through the few inches of space between it andthe building at that end. The building at the other end had a blank greysidewall that looked down on the lot behind the billboard. Lightsflickered on the sidewall, and the shadows of men moving among lights.
Spade turned from the parapet and walked up Bush Street to the alleywhere men were grouped. A uniformed policeman chewing gum under anenameled sign that said Burritt St. in white against dark blue put outan arm and asked:
"What do you want here?"
"I'm Sam Spade. Tom Polhaus phoned me."
"Sure you are." The policeman's arm went down. "I didn't know you atfirst. Well, they're back there." He jerked a thumb over his shoulder."Bad business."
"Bad enough," Spade agreed, and went up the alley.
Half-way up it, not far from the entrance, a dark ambulance stood.Behind the ambulance, to the left, the alley was bounded by a waist-highfence, horizontal strips of rough boarding. From the fence dark groundfell away steeply to the billboard on Stockton Street below.
A ten-foot length of the fence's top rail had been torn from a post atone end and hung dangling from the other. Fifteen feet down the slope aflat boulder stuck out. In the notch between boulder and slope MilesArcher lay on his back. Two men stood over him. One of them held thebeam of an electric torch on the dead man. Other men with lights movedup and down the slope.
One of them hailed Spade, "Hello, Sam," and clambered up to the alley,his shadow running up the slope before him. He was a barrel-bellied tallman with shrewd small eyes, a thick mouth, and carelessly shaven darkjowls. His shoes, knees, hands, and chin were daubed with brown loam.
"I figured you'd want to see it before we took him away," he said as hestepped over the broken fence.
"Thanks, Tom," Spade said. "What happened?" He put an elbow on afence-post and looked down at the men below, nodding to those who noddedto him.
Tom Polhaus poked his own left breast with a dirty finger. "Got himright through the pump--with this." He took a fat revolver from hiscoat-pocket and held it out to Spade. Mud inlaid the depressions in therevolver's surface. "A Webley. English, ain't it?"
Spade took his elbow from the fence-post and leaned down to look at theweapon, but he did not touch it.
"Yes," he said, "Webley-Fosbery automatic revolver. That's it.Thirty-eight, eight shot. They don't make them any more. How many goneout of it?"
"One pill." Tom poked his breast again. "He must've been dead when hecracked the fence." He raised the muddy revolver. "Ever seen thisbefore?"
Spade nodded. "I've seen Webley-Fosberys," he said without interest, andthen spoke rapidly: "He was shot up here, huh? Standing where you are,with his back to the fence. The man that shot him stands here." He wentaround in front of Tom and raised a hand breast-high with leveledforefinger. "Lets him have it and Miles goes back, taking the top offthe fence and going on through and down till the rock catches him. Thatit?"
"That's it," Tom replied slowly, working his brows together. "The blastburnt his coat."
"Who found him?"
"The man on the beat, Shilling. He was coming down Bush, and just as hegot here a machine turning threw headlights up here, and he saw the topoff the fence. So he came up to look at it, and found him."
"What about the machine that was turning around?"
"Not a damned thing about it, Sam. Shilling didn't pay any attention toit, not knowing anything was wrong then. He says nobody didn't come outof here while he was coming down from Powell or he'd've seen them. Theonly other way out would be under the billboard on Stockton. Nobody wentthat way. The fog's got the ground soggy, and the only marks are whereMiles slid down and where this here gun rolled."
"Didn't anybody hear the shot?"
"For the love of God, Sam, we only just got here. Somebody must've heardit, when we find them." He turned and put a leg over the fence. "Comingdown for a look at him before he's moved?"
Spade said: "No."
Tom halted astride the fence and looked back at Spade with surprisedsmall eyes.
Spade said: "You've seen him. You'd see everything I could."
Tom, still looking at Spade, nodded doubtfully and withdrew his leg overthe fence.
"His gun was tucked away on his hip," he said. "It hadn't been fired.His overcoat was buttoned. There's a hundred and sixty-some bucks in hisclothes. Was he working, Sam?"
Spade, after a moment's hesitation, nodded.
Tom asked: "Well?"
"He was supposed to be tailing a fellow named Floyd Thursby," Spadesaid, and described Thursby as Miss Wonderly had described him.
Spade put his hands into his overcoat-pockets and blinked sleepy eyes atTom.
Tom repeated impatiently: "What for?"
"He was an Englishman, maybe. I don't know what his game was, exactly.We were trying to find out where he lived." Spade grinned faintly andtook a hand from his pocket to pat Tom's shoulder. "Don't crowd me." Heput the hand in his pocket again. "I'm going out to break the news toMiles's wife." He turned away.
Tom, scowling, opened his mouth, closed it without having said anything,cleared his throat, put the scowl off his face, and spoke with a huskysort of gentleness:
"It's tough, him getting it like that. Miles had his faults same as therest of us, but I guess he must've had some good points too."
"I guess so," Spade agreed in a tone that was utterly meaningless, andwent out of the alley.
* * * * *
In an all-night drug-store on the corner of Bush and Taylor Streets,Spade used a telephone.
"Precious," he said into it a little while after he had given a number,"Miles has been shot.... Yes, he's dead.... Now don't getexcited.... Yes.... You'll have to break it to Iva.... No, I'mdamned if I will. You've got to do it.... That's a good girl....And keep her away from the office.... Tell her I'll see her--uh--sometime.... Yes, but don't tie me up to anything.... That's thestuff. You're an angel. 'Bye."
* * * * *
Spade's tinny alarm-clock said three-forty when he turned on the lightin the suspended bowl again. He dropped his hat and overcoat on the bedand went into his kitchen, returning to the bedroom with a wine-glassand a tall bottle of Bacardi. He poured a drink and drank it standing.He put bottle and glass on the table, sat on the side of the bed facingthem, and rolled a cigarette. He had drunk his third glass of Bacardiand was lighting his fifth cigarette when the street-door-bell rang. Thehands of the alarm-clock registered four-thirty.
Spade sighed, rose from the bed, and went to the telephone-box besidehis bathroom-door. He pressed the button that released thestreet-door-lock. He muttered, "Damn her," and stood scowling at theblack telephone-box, breathing irregularly while a dull flush grew inhis cheeks.
The grating and rattling of the elevator-door opening and closing camefrom the corridor. Spade sighed again and moved towards thecorridor-door. Soft heavy footsteps sounded on the carpeted flooroutside, the footsteps of two men. Spade's face brightened. His eyeswere no longer harassed. He opened the door quickly.
"Hello, Tom," he said to the barrel-bellied tall detective with whom hehad talked in Burritt Street, and, "Hello, Lieutenant," to the manbeside Tom. "Come in."
They nodded together, neither saying anything, and came in. Spade shutthe door and ushered them into his bedroom. Tom sat on an end of thesofa by the windows. The Lieutenant sat on a chair beside the table.
The Lieutenant was a compactly built man with a round head undershort-cut grizzled hair and a square face behind a short-cut grizzledmustache. A five-dollar gold-piece was pinned to his necktie and therewas a small elaborate diamond-set secret-society-emblem on his lapel.
Spade brought two wine-glasses in from the kitchen, filled them and hisown with Bacardi, gave one to each of his visitors, and sat down withhis on the side of the bed. His face was placid and uncurious. He raisedhis glass, and said, "Success to crime," and drank it down.
Tom emptied his glass, set it on the floor beside his feet, and wipedhis mouth with a muddy forefinger. He stared at the foot of the bed asif trying to remember something of which it vaguely reminded him.
The Lieutenant looked at his glass for a dozen seconds, took a verysmall sip of its contents, and put the glass on the table at his elbow.He examined the room with hard deliberate eyes, and then looked at Tom.
Tom moved uncomfortably on the sofa and, not looking up, asked: "Did youbreak the news to Miles's wife, Sam?"
Spade said: "Uh-huh."
"How'd she take it?"
Spade shook his head. "I don't know anything about women."
Tom said softly: "The hell you don't."
The Lieutenant put his hands on his knees and leaned forward. Hisgreenish eyes were fixed on Spade in a peculiarly rigid stare, as iftheir focus were a matter of mechanics, to be changed only by pulling alever or pressing a button.
"What kind of gun do you carry?" he asked.
"None. I don't like them much. Of course there are some in the office."
"I'd like to see one of them," the Lieutenant said. "You don't happen tohave one here?"
"You sure of that?"
"Look around." Spade smiled and waved his empty glass a little. "Turnthe dump upside-down if you want. I won't squawk--if you've got asearch-warrant."
Tom protested: "Oh, hell, Sam!"
Spade set his glass on the table and stood up facing the Lieutenant.
"What do you want, Dundy?" he asked in a voice hard and cold as hiseyes.
Lieutenant Dundy's eyes had moved to maintain their focus on Spade's.Only his eyes had moved.
Tom shifted his weight on the sofa again, blew a deep breath out throughhis nose, and growled plaintively: "We're not wanting to make anytrouble, Sam."
Spade, ignoring Tom, said to Dundy: "Well, what do you want? Talkturkey. Who in hell do you think you are, coming in here trying to ropeme?"
"All right," Dundy said in his chest, "sit down and listen."
"I'll sit or stand as I damned please," said Spade, not moving.
"For Christ's sake be reasonable," Tom begged. "What's the use of ushaving a row? If you want to know why we didn't talk turkey it's becausewhen I asked you who this Thursby was you as good as told me it was noneof my business. You can't treat us that way, Sam. It ain't right and itwon't get you anywheres. We got our work to do."
Lieutenant Dundy jumped up, stood close to Spade, and thrust his squareface up at the taller man's.
"I've warned you your foot was going to slip one of these days," hesaid.
Spade made a depreciative mouth, raising his eyebrows. "Everybody's footslips sometime," he replied with derisive mildness.
"And this is yours."
Spade smiled and shook his head. "No, I'll do nicely, thank you." Hestopped smiling. His upper lip, on the left side, twitched over hiseyetooth. His eyes became narrow and sultry. His voice came out deep asthe Lieutenant's. "I don't like this. What are you sucking around for?Tell me, or get out and let me go to bed."
"Who's Thursby?" Dundy demanded.
"I told Tom what I knew about him."
"You told Tom damned little."
"I knew damned little."
"Why were you tailing him?"
"I wasn't. Miles was--for the swell reason that we had a client who waspaying good United States money to have him tailed."
"Who's the client?"
Placidity came back to Spade's face and voice. He said reprovingly: "Youknow I can't tell you that until I've talked it over with the client."
"You'll tell it to me or you'll tell it in court," Dundy said hotly."This is murder and don't you forget it."
"Maybe. And here's something for you to not forget, sweetheart. I'lltell it or not as I damned please. It's a long while since I burst outcrying because policemen didn't like me."
Tom left the sofa and sat on the foot of the bed. His carelessly shavenmud-smeared face was tired and lined.
"Be reasonable, Sam," he pleaded. "Give us a chance. How can we turn upanything on Miles's killing if you won't give us what you've got?"
"You needn't get a headache over that," Spade told him. "I'll bury mydead."
Lieutenant Dundy sat down and put his hands on his knees again. His eyeswere warm green discs.
"I thought you would," he said. He smiled with grim content. "That'sjust exactly why we came to see you. Isn't it, Tom?"
Tom groaned, but said nothing articulate.
Spade watched Dundy warily.
"That's just exactly what I said to Tom," the Lieutenant went on. "Isaid: 'Tom, I've got a hunch that Sam Spade's a man to keep thefamily-troubles in the family.' That's just what I said to him."
The wariness went out of Spade's eyes. He made his eyes dull withboredom. He turned his face around to Tom and asked with greatcarelessness: "What's itching your boy-friend now?"
Dundy jumped up and tapped Spade's chest with the ends of two bentfingers.
"Just this," he said, taking pains to make each word distinct,emphasizing them with his tapping finger-ends: "Thursby was shot down infront of his hotel just thirty-five minutes after you left BurrittStreet."
Spade spoke, taking equal pains with his words: "Keep your God-damnedpaws off me."
Dundy withdrew the tapping fingers, but there was no change in hisvoice: "Tom says you were in too much of a hurry to even stop for a lookat your partner."
Tom growled apologetically: "Well, damn it, Sam, you did run off likethat."
"And you didn't go to Archer's house to tell his wife," the Lieutenantsaid. "We called up and that girl in your office was there, and she saidyou sent her."
Spade nodded. His face was stupid in its calmness.
Lieutenant Dundy raised his two bent fingers towards Spade's chest,quickly lowered them, and said: "I give you ten minutes to get to aphone and do your talking to the girl. I give you ten minutes to get toThursby's joint--Geary near Leavenworth--you could do it easy in thattime, or fifteen at the most. And that gives you ten or fifteen minutesof waiting before he showed up."
"I knew where he lived?" Spade asked. "And I knew he hadn't gonestraight home from killing Miles?"
"You knew what you knew," Dundy replied stubbornly. "What time did youget home?"
"Twenty minutes to four. I walked around thinking things over."
The Lieutenant wagged his round head up and down. "We knew you weren'thome at three-thirty. We tried to get you on the phone. Where'd you doyour walking?"
"Out Bush Street a way and back."
"Did you see anybody that--?"
"No, no witnesses," Spade said and laughed pleasantly. "Sit down, Dundy.You haven't finished your drink. Get your glass, Tom."
Tom said: "No, thanks, Sam."
Dundy sat down, but paid no attention to his glass of rum.
Spade filled his own glass, drank, set the empty glass on the table, andreturned to his bedside-seat.
"I know where I stand now," he said, looking with friendly eyes from oneof the police-detectives to the other. "I'm sorry I got up on my hindlegs, but you birds coming in and trying to put the work on me made menervous. Having Miles knocked off bothered me, and then you birdscracking foxy. That's all right now, though, now that I know what you'reup to."
Tom said: "Forget it."
The Lieutenant said nothing.
Spade asked: "Thursby die?"
While the Lieutenant hesitated Tom said: "Yes."
Then the Lieutenant said angrily: "And you might just as well knowit--if you don't--that he died before he could tell anybody anything."
Spade was rolling a cigarette. He asked, not looking up: "What do youmean by that? You think I did know it?"
"I meant what I said," Dundy replied bluntly.
Spade looked up at him and smiled, holding the finished cigarette in onehand, his lighter in the other.
"You're not ready to pinch me yet, are you, Dundy?" he asked.
Dundy looked with hard green eyes at Spade and did not answer him.
"Then," said Spade, "there's no particular reason why I should give adamn what you think, is there, Dundy?"
Tom said: "Aw, be reasonable, Sam."
Spade put the cigarette in his mouth, set fire to it, and laughed smokeout.
"I'll be reasonable, Tom," he promised. "How did I kill this Thursby?I've forgotten."
Tom grunted disgust. Lieutenant Dundy said: "He was shot four times inthe back, with a forty-four or forty-five, from across the street, whenhe started to go in the hotel. Nobody saw it, but that's the way itfigures."
"And he was wearing a Luger in a shoulder-holster," Tom added. "Ithadn't been fired."
"What do the hotel-people know about him?" Spade asked.
"Nothing except that he'd been there a week."
"What did you find on him? or in his room?"
Dundy drew his lips in and asked: "What'd you think we'd find?"
Spade made a careless circle with his limp cigarette. "Something to tellyou who he was, what his story was. Did you?"
"We thought you could tell us that."
Spade looked at the Lieutenant with yellow-grey eyes that held an almostexaggerated amount of candor. "I've never seen Thursby, dead or alive."
Lieutenant Dundy stood up looking dissatisfied. Tom rose yawning andstretching.
"We've asked what we came to ask," Dundy said, frowning over eyes hardas green pebbles. He held his mustached upper lip tight to his teeth,letting his lower lip push the words out. "We've told you more thanyou've told us. That's fair enough. You know me, Spade. If you did oryou didn't you'll get a square deal out of me, and most of the breaks. Idon't know that I'd blame you a hell of a lot--but that wouldn't keep mefrom nailing you."
"Fair enough," Spade replied evenly. "But I'd feel better about it ifyou'd drink your drink."
Lieutenant Dundy turned to the table, picked up his glass, and slowlyemptied it. Then he said, "Good night," and held out his hand. Theyshook hands ceremoniously. Tom and Spade shook hands ceremoniously.Spade let them out. Then he undressed, turned off the lights, and wentto bed.
3. Three Women
When Spade reached his office at ten o'clock the following morning EffieFerine was at her desk opening the morning's mail. Her boyish face waspale under its sunburn. She put down the handful of envelopes and thebrass paper-knife she held and said: "She's in there." Her voice was lowand warning.
"I asked you to keep her away," Spade complained. He too kept his voicelow.
Effie Perine's brown eyes opened wide and her voice was irritable ashis: "Yes, but you didn't tell me how." Her eyelids went together alittle and her shoulders drooped. "Don't be cranky, Sam," she saidwearily. "I had her all night."
Spade stood beside the girl, put a hand on her head, and smoothed herhair away from its parting. "Sorry, angel, I haven't--" He broke off asthe inner door opened. "Hello, Iva," he said to the woman who had openedit.
"Oh, Sam!" she said.
She was a blonde woman of a few more years than thirty. Her facialprettiness was perhaps five years past its best moment. Her body for allits sturdiness was finely modeled and exquisite. She wore black clothesfrom hat to shoes. They had as mourning an impromptu air. Having spoken,she stepped back from the door and stood waiting for Spade.
He took his hand from Effie Perine's head and entered the inner office,shutting the door. Iva came quickly to him, raising her sad face for hiskiss. Her arms were around him before his held her. When they had kissedhe made a little movement as if to release her, but she pressed her faceto his chest and began sobbing.
He stroked her round back, saying: "Poor darling." His voice was tender.His eyes, squinting at the desk that had been his partner's, across theroom from his own, were angry. He drew his lips back over his teeth inan impatient grimace and turned his chin aside to avoid contact with thecrown of her hat. "Did you send for Miles's brother?" he asked.
"Yes, he came over this morning." The words were blurred by her sobbingand his coat against her mouth.
He grimaced again and bent his head for a surreptitious look at thewatch on his wrist. His left arm was around her, the hand on her leftshoulder. His cuff was pulled back far enough to leave the watchuncovered. It showed ten-ten.
The woman stirred in his arms and raised her face again. Her blue eyeswere wet, round, and white-ringed. Her mouth was moist.
"Oh, Sam," she moaned, "did you kill him?"
Spade stared at her with bulging eyes. His bony jaw fell down. He tookhis arms from her and stepped back out of her arms. He scowled at herand cleared his throat.
She held her arms up as he had left them. Anguish clouded her eyes,partly closed them under eyebrows pulled up at the inner ends. Her softdamp red lips trembled.
Spade laughed a harsh syllable, "Ha!" and went to the buff-curtainedwindow. He stood there with his back to her looking through the curtaininto the court until she started towards him. Then he turned quickly andwent to his desk. He sat down, put his elbows on the desk, his chinbetween his fists, and looked at her. His yellowish eyes glitteredbetween narrowed lids.
"Who," he asked coldly, "put that bright idea in your head?"
"I thought--" She lifted a hand to her mouth and fresh tears came to hereyes. She came to stand beside the desk, moving with easy sure-footedgrace in black slippers whose smallness and heel-height were extreme."Be kind to me, Sam," she said humbly.
He laughed at her, his eyes still glittering. "You killed my husband,Sam, be kind to me." He clapped his palms together and said: "JesusChrist."
She began to cry audibly, holding a white handkerchief to her face.
He got up and stood close behind her. He put his arms around her. Hekissed her neck between ear and coat-collar. He said: "Now, Iva, don't."His face was expressionless. When she had stopped crying he put hismouth to her ear and murmured: "You shouldn't have come here today,precious. It wasn't wise. You can't stay. You ought to be home."
She turned around in his arms to face him and asked: "You'll cometonight?"
He shook his head gently. "Not tonight."
"As soon as I can."
He kissed her mouth, led her to the door, opened it, said, "Good-bye,Iva," bowed her out, shut the door, and returned to his desk.
He took tobacco and cigarette-papers from his vest-pockets, but did notroll a cigarette. He sat holding the papers in one hand, the tobacco inthe other, and looked with brooding eyes at his dead partner's desk.
* * * * *
Effie Perine opened the door and came in. Her brown eyes were uneasy.Her voice was careless. She asked: "Well?"
Spade said nothing. His brooding gaze did not move from his partner'sdesk.
The girl frowned and came around to his side. "Well," she asked in alouder voice, "how did you and the widow make out?"
"She thinks I shot Miles," he said. Only his lips moved.
"So you could marry her?"
Spade made no reply to that.
The girl took his hat from his head and put it on the desk. Then sheleaned over and took the tobacco-sack and the papers from his inertfingers.
"The police think I shot Thursby," he said.
"Who is he?" she asked, separating a cigarette-paper from the packet,sifting tobacco into it.
"Who do you think I shot?" he asked.
When she ignored that question he said: "Thursby's the guy Miles wassupposed to be tailing for the Wonderly girl."
Her thin fingers finished shaping the cigarette. She licked it, smoothedit, twisted its ends, and placed it between Spade's lips. He said,"Thanks, honey," put an arm around her slim waist, and rested his cheekwearily against her hip, shutting his eyes.
"Are you going to marry Iva?" she asked, looking down at his pale brownhair.
"Don't be silly," he muttered. The unlighted cigarette bobbed up anddown with the movement of his lips.
"She doesn't think it's silly. Why should she--the way you've playedaround with her?"
He sighed and said: "I wish to Christ I'd never seen her."
"Maybe you do now." A trace of spitefulness came into the girl's voice."But there was a time."
"I never know what to do or say to women except that way," he grumbled,"and then I didn't like Miles."
"That's a lie, Sam," the girl said. "You know I think she's a louse, butI'd be a louse too if it would give me a body like hers."
Spade rubbed his face impatiently against her hip, but said nothing.
Effie Perine bit her lip, wrinkled her forehead, and, bending over for abetter view of his face, asked: "Do you suppose she could have killedhim?"
Spade sat up straight and took his arm from her waist. He smiled at her.His smile held nothing but amusement. He took out his lighter, snappedon the flame, and applied it to the end of his cigarette. "You're anangel," he said tenderly through smoke, "a nice rattle-brained angel."
She smiled a bit wryly. "Oh, am I? Suppose I told you that your Ivahadn't been home many minutes when I arrived to break the news at threeo'clock this morning?"
"Are you telling me?" he asked. His eyes had become alert though hismouth continued to smile.
"She kept me waiting at the door while she undressed or finishedundressing. I saw her clothes where she had dumped them on a chair. Herhat and coat were underneath. Her singlet, on top, was still warm. Shesaid she had been asleep, but she hadn't. She had wrinkled up the bed,but the wrinkles weren't mashed down."
Spade took the girl's hand and patted it. "You're a detective, darling,but"--he shook his head--"she didn't kill him."
Effie Perine snatched her hand away. "That louse wants to marry you,Sam," she said bitterly.
He made an impatient gesture with his head and one hand.
She frowned at him and demanded: "Did you see her last night?"
"Honestly. Don't act like Dundy, sweetheart. It ill becomes you."
"Has Dundy been after you?"
"Uh-huh. He and Tom Polhaus dropped in for a drink at four o'clock."
"Do they really think you shot this what's-his-name?"
"Thursby." He dropped what was left of his cigarette into the brass trayand began to roll another.
"Do they?" she insisted.
"God knows." His eyes were on the cigarette he was making. "They didhave some such notion. I don't know how far I talked them out of it."
"Look at me, Sam."
He looked at her and laughed so that for the moment merriment mingledwith the anxiety in her face.
"You worry me," she said, seriousness returning to her face as shetalked. "You always think you know what you're doing, but you're tooslick for your own good, and some day you're going to find it out."
He sighed mockingly and rubbed his cheek against her arm. "That's whatDundy says, but you keep Iva away from me, sweet, and I'll manage tosurvive the rest of my troubles." He stood up and put on his hat. "Havethe Spade & Archer taken off the door and Samuel Spade put on. I'llbe back in an hour, or phone you."
* * * * *
Spade went through the St. Mark's long purplish lobby to the desk andasked a red-haired dandy whether Miss Wonderly was in. The red-haireddandy turned away, and then back shaking his head. "She checked out thismorning, Mr. Spade."
Spade walked past the desk to an alcove off the lobby where a plumpyoung-middle-aged man in dark clothes sat at a flat-topped mahoganydesk. On the edge of the desk facing the lobby was a triangular prism ofmahogany and brass inscribed Mr. Freed.
The plump man got up and came around the desk holding out his hand.
"I was awfully sorry to hear about Archer, Spade," he said in the toneof one trained to sympathize readily without intrusiveness. "I've justseen it in the Call. He was in here last night, you know."
"Thanks, Freed. Were you talking to him?"
"No. He was sitting in the lobby when I came in early in the evening. Ididn't stop. I thought he was probably working and I know you fellowslike to be left alone when you're busy. Did that have anything to dowith his--?"
"I don't think so, but we don't know yet. Anyway, we won't mix the houseup in it if it can be helped."
"That's all right. Can you give me some dope on an ex-guest, and thenforget that I asked for it?"
"A Miss Wonderly checked out this morning. I'd like to know thedetails."
"Come along," Freed said, "and we'll see what we can learn."
Spade stood still, shaking his head. "I don't want to show in it."
Freed nodded and went out of the alcove. In the lobby he halted suddenlyand came back to Spade.
"Harriman was the house-detective on duty last night," he said. "He'ssure to have seen Archer. Shall I caution him not to mention it?"
Spade looked at Freed from the corners of his eyes. "Better not. Thatwon't make any difference as long as there's no connection shown withthis Wonderly. Harriman's all right, but he likes to talk, and I'd aslief not have him think there's anything to be kept quiet."
Freed nodded again and went away. Fifteen minutes later he returned.
"She arrived last Tuesday, registering from New York. She hadn't atrunk, only some bags. There were no phone-calls charged to her room,and she doesn't seem to have received much, if any, mail. The only oneanybody remembers having seen her with was a tall dark man of thirty-sixor so. She went out at half-past nine this morning, came back an hourlater, paid her bill, and had her bags carried out to a car. The boy whocarried them says it was a Nash touring car, probably a hired one. Sheleft a forwarding address--the Ambassador, Los Angeles."
Spade said, "Thanks a lot, Freed," and left the St. Mark.
When Spade returned to his office Effie Perine stopped typing a letterto tell him: "Your friend Dundy was in. He wanted to look at your guns."
"I told him to come back when you were here."
"Good girl. If he comes back again let him look at them."
"And Miss Wonderly called up."
"It's about time. What did she say?"
"She wants to see you." The girl picked up a slip of paper from her deskand read the memorandum penciled on it: "She's at the Coronet, onCalifornia Street, apartment one thousand and one. You're to ask forMiss Leblanc."
Spade said, "Give me," and held out his hand. When she had given him thememorandum he took out his lighter, snapped on the flame, set it to theslip of paper, held the paper until all but one corner was curling blackash, dropped it on the linoleum floor, and mashed it under his shoesole.
The girl watched him with disapproving eyes.
He grinned at her, said, "That's just the way it is, dear," and went outagain.
4. The Black Bird
Miss Wonderly, in a belted green crêpe silk dress, opened the door ofapartment 1001 at the Coronet. Her face was flushed. Her dark red hair,parted on the left side, swept back in loose waves over her righttemple, was somewhat tousled.
Spade took off his hat and said: "Good morning."
His smile brought a fainter smile to her face. Her eyes, of blue thatwas almost violet, did not lose their troubled look. She lowered herhead and said in a hushed, timid voice: "Come in, Mr. Spade."
She led him past open kitchen-, bathroom-, and bedroom-doors into acream and red living-room, apologizing for its confusion: "Everything isupside-down. I haven't even finished unpacking."
She laid his hat on a table and sat down on a walnut settee. He sat on abrocaded oval-backed chair facing her.
She looked at her fingers, working them together, and said: "Mr. Spade,I've a terrible, terrible confession to make."
Spade smiled a polite smile, which she did not lift her eyes to see, andsaid nothing.
"That--that story I told you yesterday was all--a story," she stammered,and looked up at him now with miserable frightened eyes.
"Oh, that," Spade said lightly. "We didn't exactly believe your story."
"Then--?" Perplexity was added to the misery and fright in her eyes.
"We believed your two hundred dollars."
"You mean--?" She seemed to not know what he meant.
"I mean that you paid us more than if you'd been telling the truth," heexplained blandly, "and enough more to make it all right."
Her eyes suddenly lighted up. She lifted herself a few inches from thesettee, settled down again, smoothed her skirt, leaned forward, andspoke eagerly: "And even now you'd be willing to--?"
Spade stopped her with a palm-up motion of one hand. The upper part ofhis face frowned. The lower part smiled. "That depends," he said. "Thehell of it is, Miss---- Is your name Wonderly or Leblanc?"
She blushed and murmured: "It's really O'Shaughnessy--BrigidO'Shaughnessy."
"The hell of it is, Miss O'Shaughnessy, that a couple of murders"--shewinced--"coming together like this get everybody stirred up, make thepolice think they can go the limit, make everybody hard to handle andexpensive. It's not--"
He stopped talking because she had stopped listening and was waiting forhim to finish.
"Mr. Spade, tell me the truth." Her voice quivered on the verge ofhysteria. Her face had become haggard around desperate eyes. "Am I toblame for--for last night?"
Spade shook his head. "Not unless there are things I don't know about,"he said. "You warned us that Thursby was dangerous. Of course you liedto us about your sister and all, but that doesn't count: we didn'tbelieve you." He shrugged his sloping shoulders. "I wouldn't say it wasyour fault."
She said, "Thank you," very softly, and then moved her head from side toside. "But I'll always blame myself." She put a hand to her throat. "Mr.Archer was so--so alive yesterday afternoon, so solid and hearty and--"
"Stop it," Spade commanded. "He knew what he was doing. They're thechances we take."
"Was--was he married?"
"Yes, with ten thousand insurance, no children, and a wife who didn'tlike him."
"Oh, please don't!" she whispered.
Spade shrugged again. "That's the way it was." He glanced at his watchand moved from his chair to the settee beside her. "There's no time forworrying about that now." His voice was pleasant but firm. "Out there aflock of policemen and assistant district attorneys and reporters arerunning around with their noses to the ground. What do you want to do?"
"I want you to save me from--from it all," she replied in a thintremulous voice. She put a timid hand on his sleeve. "Mr. Spade, do theyknow about me?"
"Not yet. I wanted to see you first."
"What--what would they think if they knew about the way I came toyou--with those lies?"
"It would make them suspicious. That's why I've been stalling them tillI could see you. I thought maybe we wouldn't have to let them know allof it. We ought to be able to fake a story that will rock them to sleep,if necessary."
"You don't think I had anything to do with the--the murders--do you?"
Spade grinned at her and said: "I forgot to ask you that. Did you?"
"That's good. Now what are we going to tell the police?"
She squirmed on her end of the settee and her eyes wavered between heavylashes, as if trying and failing to free their gaze from his. She seemedsmaller, and very young and oppressed.
"Must they know about me at all?" she asked. "I think I'd rather diethan that, Mr. Spade. I can't explain now, but can't you somehow manageso that you can shield me from them, so I won't have to answer theirquestions? I don't think I could stand being questioned now. I think Iwould rather die. Can't you, Mr. Spade?"
"Maybe," he said, "but I'll have to know what it's all about."
She went down on her knees at his knees. She held her face up to him.Her face was wan, taut, and fearful over tight-clasped hands.
"I haven't lived a good life," she cried. "I've been bad--worse than youcould know--but I'm not all bad. Look at me, Mr. Spade. You know I'm notall bad, don't you? You can see that, can't you? Then can't you trust mea little? Oh, I'm so alone and afraid, and I've got nobody to help me ifyou won't help me. I know I've no right to ask you to trust me if Iwon't trust you. I do trust you, but I can't tell you. I can't tell younow. Later I will, when I can. I'm afraid, Mr. Spade. I'm afraid oftrusting you. I don't mean that. I do trust you, but--I trusted Floydand--I've nobody else, nobody else, Mr. Spade. You can help me. You'vesaid you can help me. If I hadn't believed you could save me I wouldhave run away today instead of sending for you. If I thought anybodyelse could save me would I be down on my knees like this? I know thisisn't fair of me. But be generous, Mr. Spade, don't ask me to be fair.You're strong, you're resourceful, you're brave. You can spare me someof that strength and resourcefulness and courage, surely. Help me, Mr.Spade. Help me because I need help so badly, and because if you don'twhere will I find anyone who can, no matter how willing? Help me. I'veno right to ask you to help me blindly, but I do ask you. Be generous,Mr. Spade. You can help me. Help me."
Spade, who had held his breath through much of this speech, now emptiedhis lungs with a long sighing exhalation between pursed lips and said:"You won't need much of anybody's help. You're good. You're very good.It's chiefly your eyes, I think, and that throb you get into your voicewhen you say things like 'Be generous, Mr. Spade.'"
She jumped up on her feet. Her face crimsoned painfully, but she heldher head erect and she looked Spade straight in the eyes.
"I deserve that," she said. "I deserve it, but--oh!--I did want yourhelp so much. I do want it, and need it, so much. And the lie was in theway I said it, and not at all in what I said." She turned away, nolonger holding herself erect. "It is my own fault that you can't believeme now."
Spade's face reddened and he looked down at the floor, muttering: "Nowyou are dangerous."
Brigid O'Shaughnessy went to the table and picked up his hat. She cameback and stood in front of him holding the hat, not offering it to him,but holding it for him to take if he wished. Her face was white andthin.
Spade looked at his hat and asked: "What happened last night?"
"Floyd came to the hotel at nine o'clock, and we went out for a walk. Isuggested that so Mr. Archer could see him. We stopped at a restaurantin Geary Street, I think it was, for supper and to dance, and came backto the hotel at about half-past twelve. Floyd left me at the door and Istood inside and watched Mr. Archer follow him down the street, on theother side."
"Down? You mean towards Market Street?"
"Do you know what they'd be doing in the neighborhood of Bush andStockton, where Archer was shot?"
"Isn't that near where Floyd lived?"
"No. It would be nearly a dozen blocks out of his way if he was goingfrom your hotel to his. Well, what did you do after they had gone?"
"I went to bed. And this morning when I went out for breakfast I saw theheadlines in the papers and read about--you know. Then I went up toUnion Square, where I had seen automobiles for hire, and got one andwent to the hotel for my luggage. After I found my room had beensearched yesterday I knew I would have to move, and I had found thisplace yesterday afternoon. So I came up here and then telephoned youroffice."
"Your room at the St. Mark was searched?" he asked.
"Yes, while I was at your office." She bit her lip. "I didn't mean totell you that."
"That means I'm not supposed to question you about it?"
She nodded shyly.
She moved his hat a little in her hands.
He laughed impatiently and said: "Stop waving the hat in my face.Haven't I offered to do what I can?"
She smiled contritely, returned the hat to the table, and sat beside himon the settee again.
He said: "I've got nothing against trusting you blindly except that Iwon't be able to do you much good if I haven't some idea of what it'sall about. For instance, I've got to have some sort of a line on yourFloyd Thursby."
"I met him in the Orient." She spoke slowly, looking down at a pointedfinger tracing eights on the settee between them. "We came here fromHongkong last week. He was--he had promised to help me. He tookadvantage of my helplessness and dependence on him to betray me."
"Betray you how?"
She shook her head and said nothing.
Spade, frowning with impatience, asked: "Why did you want him shadowed?"
"I wanted to learn how far he had gone. He wouldn't even let me knowwhere he was staying. I wanted to find out what he was doing, whom hewas meeting, things like that."
"Did he kill Archer?"
She looked up at him, surprised. "Yes, certainly," she said.
"He had a Luger in a shoulder-holster. Archer wasn't shot with a Luger."
"He had a revolver in his overcoat-pocket," she said.
"You saw it?"
"Oh, I've seen it often. I know he always carries one there. I didn'tsee it last night, but I know he never wears an overcoat without it."
"Why all the guns?"
"He lived by them. There was a story in Hongkong that he had come outthere, to the Orient, as bodyguard to a gambler who had had to leave theStates, and that the gambler had since disappeared. They said Floyd knewabout his disappearing. I don't know. I do know that he always wentheavily armed and that he never went to sleep without covering the flooraround his bed with crumpled newspaper so nobody could come silentlyinto his room."
"You picked a nice sort of playmate."
"Only that sort could have helped me," she said simply, "if he had beenloyal."
"Yes, if." Spade pinched his lower lip between finger and thumb andlooked gloomily at her. The vertical creases over his nose deepened,drawing his brows together. "How bad a hole are you actually in?"
"As bad," she said, "as could be."
"I'm not heroic. I don't think there's anything worse than death."
"Then it's that?"
"It's that as surely as we're sitting here"--she shivered--"unless youhelp me."
He took his fingers away from his mouth and ran them through his hair."I'm not Christ," he said irritably. "I can't work miracles out of thinair." He looked at his watch. "The day's going and you're giving menothing to work with. Who killed Thursby?"
She put a crumpled handkerchief to her mouth and said, "I don't know,"through it.
"Your enemies or his?"
"I don't know. His, I hope, but I'm afraid--I don't know."
"How was he supposed to be helping you? Why did you bring him here fromHongkong?"
She looked at him with frightened eyes and shook her head in silence.Her face was haggard and pitifully stubborn.
Spade stood up, thrust his hands into the pockets of his jacket, andscowled down at her. "This is hopeless," he said savagely. "I can't doanything for you. I don't know what you want done. I don't even know ifyou know what you want."
She hung her head and wept.
He made a growling animal noise in his throat and went to the table forhis hat.
"You won't," she begged in a small choked voice, not looking up, "go tothe police?"
"Go to them!" he exclaimed, his voice loud with rage. "They've beenrunning me ragged since four o'clock this morning. I've made myself Godknows how much trouble standing them off. For what? For some crazynotion that I could help you. I can't. I won't try." He put his hat onhis head and pulled it down tight. "Go to them? All I've got to do isstand still and they'll be swarming all over me. Well, I'll tell themwhat I know and you'll have to take your chances."
She rose from the settee and held herself straight in front of himthough her knees were trembling, and she held her white panic-strickenface up high though she couldn't hold the twitching muscles of mouth andchin still. She said: "You've been patient. You've tried to help me. Itis hopeless, and useless, I suppose." She stretched out her right hand."I thank you for what you have done. I--I'll have to take my chances."
Spade made the growling animal noise in his throat again and sat down onthe settee. "How much money have you got?" he asked.
The question startled her. Then she pinched her lower lip between herteeth and answered reluctantly: "I've about five hundred dollars left."
"Give it to me."
She hesitated, looking timidly at him. He made angry gestures withmouth, eyebrows, hands, and shoulders. She went into her bedroom,returning almost immediately with a sheaf of paper money in one hand.
He took the money from her, counted it, and said: "There's only fourhundred here."
"I had to keep some to live on," she explained meekly, putting a hand toher breast.
"Can't you get any more?"
"You must have something you can raise money on," he insisted.
"I've some rings, a little jewelry."
"You'll have to hock them," he said, and held out his hand. "TheRemedial's the best place--Mission and Fifth."
She looked pleadingly at him. His yellow-grey eyes were hard andimplacable. Slowly she put her hand inside the neck of her dress,brought out a slender roll of bills, and put them in his waiting hand.
He smoothed the bills out and counted them--four twenties, four tens,and a five. He returned two of the tens and the five to her. The othershe put in his pocket. Then he stood up and said: "I'm going out and seewhat I can do for you. I'll be back as soon as I can with the best newsI can manage. I'll ring four times--long, short, long, short--so you'llknow it's me. You needn't go to the door with me. I can let myself out."
He left her standing in the center of the floor looking after him withdazed blue eyes.
* * * * *
Spade went into a reception-room whose door bore the legend Wise,Merican & Wise. The red-haired girl at the switchboard said: "Oh,hello, Mr. Spade."
"Hello, darling," he replied. "Is Sid in?"
He stood beside her with a hand on her plump shoulder while shemanipulated a plug and spoke into the mouthpiece: "Mr. Spade to see you,Mr. Wise." She looked up at Spade. "Go right in."
He squeezed her shoulder by way of acknowledgment, crossed thereception-room to a dully lighted inner corridor, and passed down thecorridor to a frosted glass door at its far end. He opened the frostedglass door and went into an office where a small olive-skinned man witha tired oval face under thin dark hair dotted with dandruff sat behindan immense desk on which bales of paper were heaped.
The small man flourished a cold cigar-stub at Spade and said: "Pull achair around. So Miles got the big one last night?" Neither his tiredface nor his rather shrill voice held any emotion.
"Uh-huh, that's what I came in about." Spade frowned and cleared histhroat. "I think I'm going to have to tell a coroner to go to hell, Sid.Can I hide behind the sanctity of my clients' secrets and identities andwhat-not, all the same priest or lawyer?"
Sid Wise lifted his shoulders and lowered the ends of his mouth. "Whynot? An inquest is not a court-trial. You can try, anyway. You've gottenaway with more than that before this."
"I know, but Dundy's getting snotty, and maybe it is a little bit thickthis time. Get your hat, Sid, and we'll go see the right people. I wantto be safe."
Sid Wise looked at the papers massed on his desk and groaned, but he gotup from his chair and went to the closet by the window. "You're a son ofa gun, Sammy," he said as he took his hat from its hook.
* * * * *
Spade returned to his office at ten minutes past five that evening.Effie Perine was sitting at his desk reading Time. Spade sat on thedesk and asked: "Anything stirring?"
"Not here. You look like you'd swallowed the canary."
He grinned contentedly. "I think we've got a future. I always had anidea that if Miles would go off and die somewhere we'd stand a betterchance of thriving. Will you take care of sending flowers for me?"
"You're an invaluable angel. How's your woman's intuition today?"
"What do you think of Wonderly?"
"I'm for her," the girl replied without hesitation.
"She's got too many names," Spade mused, "Wonderly, Leblanc, and shesays the right one's O'Shaughnessy."
"I don't care if she's got all the names in the phone-book. That girl isall right, and you know it."
"I wonder." Spade blinked sleepily at Effie Perine. He chuckled. "Anywayshe's given up seven hundred smacks in two days, and that's all right."
Effie Perine sat up straight and said: "Sam, if that girl's in troubleand you let her down, or take advantage of it to bleed her, I'll neverforgive you, never have any respect for you, as long as I live."
Spade smiled unnaturally. Then he frowned. The frown was unnatural. Heopened his mouth to speak, but the sound of someone's entrance throughthe corridor-door stopped him.
Effie Perine rose and went into the outer office. Spade took off his hatand sat in his chair. The girl returned with an engraved card--Mr. JoelCairo.
"This guy is queer," she said.
"In with him, then, darling," said Spade.
Mr. Joel Cairo was a small-boned dark man of medium height. His hair wasblack and smooth and very glossy. His features were Levantine. Asquare-cut ruby, its sides paralleled by four baguette diamonds, gleamedagainst the deep green of his cravat. His black coat, cut tight tonarrow shoulders, flared a little over slightly plump hips. His trousersfitted his round legs more snugly than was the current fashion. Theuppers of his patent-leather shoes were hidden by fawn spats. He held ablack derby hat in a chamois-gloved hand and came towards Spade withshort, mincing, bobbing steps. The fragrance of chypre came with him.
Spade inclined his head at his visitor and then at a chair, saying: "Sitdown, Mr. Cairo."
Cairo bowed elaborately over his hat, said, "I thank you," in ahigh-pitched thin voice and sat down. He sat down primly, crossing hisankles, placing his hat on his knees, and began to draw off his yellowgloves.
Spade rocked back in his chair and asked: "Now what can I do for you,Mr. Cairo?" The amiable negligence of his tone, his motion in the chair,were precisely as they had been when he had addressed the same questionto Brigid O'Shaughnessy on the previous day.
Cairo turned his hat over, dropping his gloves into it, and placed itbottom-up on the corner of the desk nearest him. Diamonds twinkled onthe second and fourth fingers of his left hand, a ruby that matched theone in his tie even to the surrounding diamonds on the third finger ofhis right hand. His hands were soft and well cared for. Though they werenot large their flaccid bluntness made them seem clumsy. He rubbed hispalms together and said over the whispering sound they made: "May astranger offer condolences for your partner's unfortunate death?"
"May I ask, Mr. Spade, if there was, as the newspapers inferred, acertain--ah--relationship between that unfortunate happening and thedeath a little later of the man Thursby?"
Spade said nothing in a blank-faced definite way.
Cairo rose and bowed. "I beg your pardon." He sat down and placed hishands side by side, palms down, on the corner of the desk. "More thanidle curiosity made me ask that, Mr. Spade. I am trying to recoveran--ah--ornament that has been--shall we say?--mislaid. I thought, andhoped, you could assist me."
Spade nodded with eyebrows lifted to indicate attentiveness.
"The ornament is a statuette," Cairo went on, selecting and mouthing hiswords carefully, "the black figure of a bird."
Spade nodded again, with courteous interest.
"I am prepared to pay, on behalf of the figure's rightful owner, the sumof five thousand dollars for its recovery." Cairo raised one hand fromthe desk-corner and touched a spot in the air with the broad-nailed tipof an ugly forefinger. "I am prepared to promise that--what is thephrase?--no questions will be asked." He put his hand on the desk againbeside the other and smiled blandly over them at the private detective.
"Five thousand is a lot of money," Spade commented, looking thoughtfullyat Cairo. "It--"
Fingers drummed lightly on the door.
When Spade had called, "Come in," the door opened far enough to admitEffie Perine's head and shoulders. She had put on a small dark felt hatand a dark coat with a grey fur collar.
"Is there anything else?" she asked.
"No. Good night. Lock the door when you go, will you?"
Spade turned in his chair to face Cairo again, saying: "It's aninteresting figure."
The sound of the corridor-door's closing behind Effie Perine came tothem.
Cairo smiled and took a short compact flat black pistol out of an innerpocket. "You will please," he said, "clasp your hands together at theback of your neck."
5. The Levantine
Spade did not look at the pistol. He raised his arms and, leaning backin his chair, intertwined the fingers of his two hands behind his head.His eyes, holding no particular expression, remained focused on Cairo'sdark face.
Cairo coughed a little apologetic cough and smiled nervously with lipsthat had lost some of their redness. His dark eyes were humid andbashful and very earnest. "I intend to search your offices, Mr. Spade. Iwarn you that if you attempt to prevent me I shall certainly shoot you."
"Go ahead." Spade's voice was as empty of expression as his face.
"You will please stand," the man with the pistol instructed him at whosethick chest the pistol was aimed. "I shall have to make sure that youare not armed."
Spade stood up pushing his chair back with his calves as he straightenedhis legs.
Cairo went around behind him. He transferred the pistol from his righthand to his left. He lifted Spade's coat-tail and looked under it.Holding the pistol close to Spade's back, he put his right hand aroundSpade's side and patted his chest. The Levantine face was then no morethan six inches below and behind Spade's right elbow.
Spade's elbow dropped as Spade spun to the right. Cairo's face jerkedback not far enough: Spade's right heel on the patent-leathered toesanchored the smaller man in the elbow's path. The elbow struck himbeneath the cheek-bone, staggering him so that he must have fallen hadhe not been held by Spade's foot on his foot. Spade's elbow went on pastthe astonished dark face and straightened when Spade's hand struck downat the pistol. Cairo let the pistol go the instant that Spade's fingerstouched it. The pistol was small in Spade's hand.
Spade took his foot off Cairo's to complete his about-face. With hisleft hand Spade gathered together the smaller man's coat-lapels--theruby-set green tie bunching out over his knuckles--while his right handstowed the captured weapon away in a coat-pocket. Spade's yellow-greyeyes were somber. His face was wooden, with a trace of sullenness aroundthe mouth.
Cairo's face was twisted by pain and chagrin. There were tears in hisdark eyes. His skin was the complexion of polished lead except where theelbow had reddened his cheek.
Spade by means of his grip on the Levantine's lapels turned him slowlyand pushed him back until he was standing close in front of the chair hehad lately occupied. A puzzled look replaced the look of pain in thelead-colored face. Then Spade smiled. His smile was gentle, even dreamy.His right shoulder raised a few inches. His bent right arm was driven upby the shoulder's lift. Fist, wrist, forearm, crooked elbow, and upperarm seemed all one rigid piece, with only the limber shoulder givingthem motion. The fist struck Cairo's face, covering for a moment oneside of his chin, a corner of his mouth, and most of his cheek betweencheek-bone and jaw-bone.
Cairo shut his eyes and was unconscious.
Spade lowered the limp body into the chair, where it lay with sprawledarms and legs, the head lolling back against the chair's back, the mouthopen.
Spade emptied the unconscious man's pockets one by one, workingmethodically, moving the lax body when necessary, making a pile of thepockets' contents on the desk. When the last pocket had been turned outhe returned to his own chair, rolled and lighted a cigarette, and beganto examine his spoils. He examined them with grave unhurriedthoroughness.
There was a large wallet of dark soft leather. The wallet containedthree hundred and sixty-five dollars in United States bills of severalsizes; three five-pound notes; a much-visaed Greek passport bearingCairo's name and portrait; five folded sheets of pinkish onion-skinpaper covered with what seemed to be Arabic writing; a raggedly clippednewspaper-account of the finding of Archer's and Thursby's bodies; apost-card-photograph of a dusky woman with bold cruel eyes and a tenderdrooping mouth; a large silk handkerchief, yellow with age and somewhatcracked along its folds; a thin sheaf of Mr. Joel Cairo's engravedcards; and a ticket for an orchestra seat at the Geary Theatre thatevening.
Besides the wallet and its contents there were three gaily colored silkhandkerchiefs fragrant of chypre; a platinum Longines watch on aplatinum and red gold chain, attached at the other end to a smallpear-shaped pendant of some white metal; a handful of United States,British, French, and Chinese coins; a ring holding half a dozen keys; asilver and onyx fountain-pen; a metal comb in a leatherette case; anail-file in a leatherette case; a small street-guide to San Francisco;a Southern Pacific baggage-check; a half-filled package of violetpastilles; a Shanghai insurance-broker's business-card; and four sheetsof Hotel Belvedere writing paper, on one of which was written in smallprecise letters Samuel Spade's name and the addresses of his office andhis apartment.
Having examined these articles carefully--he even opened the back of thewatch-case to see that nothing was hidden inside--Spade leaned over andtook the unconscious man's wrist between finger and thumb, feeling hispulse. Then he dropped the wrist, settled back in his chair, and rolledand lighted another cigarette. His face while he smoked was, except foroccasional slight and aimless movements of his lower lip, so still andreflective that it seemed stupid; but when Cairo presently moaned andfluttered his eyelids Spade's face became bland, and he put thebeginning of a friendly smile into his eyes and mouth.
Joel Cairo awakened slowly. His eyes opened first, but a full minutepassed before they fixed their gaze on any definite part of the ceiling.Then he shut his mouth and swallowed, exhaling heavily through his noseafterward. He drew in one foot and turned a hand over on his thigh. Thenhe raised his head from the chair-back, looked around the office inconfusion, saw Spade, and sat up. He opened his mouth to speak, started,clapped a hand to his face where Spade's fist had struck and where therewas now a florid bruise.
Cairo said through his teeth, painfully: "I could have shot you, Mr.Spade."
"You could have tried," Spade conceded.
"I did not try."
"Then why did you strike me after I was disarmed?"
"Sorry," Spade said, and grinned wolfishly, showing his jaw-teeth, "butimagine my embarrassment when I found that five-thousand-dollar offerwas just hooey."
"You are mistaken, Mr. Spade. That was, and is, a genuine offer."
"What the hell?" Spade's surprise was genuine.
"I am prepared to pay five thousand dollars for the figure's return."Cairo took his hand away from his bruised face and sat up prim andbusiness-like again. "You have it?"
"If it is not here"--Cairo was very politely skeptical--"why should youhave risked serious injury to prevent my searching for it?"
"I should sit around and let people come in and stick me up?" Spadeflicked a finger at Cairo's possessions on the desk. "You've got myapartment-address. Been up there yet?"
"Yes, Mr. Spade. I am ready to pay five thousand dollars for thefigure's return, but surely it is natural enough that I should try firstto spare the owner that expense if possible."
"Who is he?"
Cairo shook his head and smiled. "You will have to forgive my notanswering that question."
"Will I?" Spade leaned forward smiling with tight lips. "I've got you bythe neck, Cairo. You've walked in and tied yourself up, plenty strongenough to suit the police, with last night's killings. Well, now you'llhave to play with me or else."
Cairo's smile was demure and not in any way alarmed. "I made somewhatextensive inquiries about you before taking any action," he said, "andwas assured that you were far too reasonable to allow otherconsiderations to interfere with profitable business relations."
Spade shrugged. "Where are they?" he asked.
"I have offered you five thousand dollars for--"
Spade thumped Cairo's wallet with the backs of his fingers and said:"There's nothing like five thousand dollars here. You're betting youreyes. You could come in and say you'd pay me a million for a purpleelephant, but what in hell would that mean?"
"I see, I see," Cairo said thoughtfully, screwing up his eyes. "You wishsome assurance of my sincerity." He brushed his red lower lip with afingertip. "A retainer, would that serve?"
Cairo put his hand out towards his wallet, hesitated, withdrew the hand,and said: "You will take, say, a hundred dollars?"
Spade picked up the wallet and took out a hundred dollars. Then hefrowned, said, "Better make it two hundred," and did.
Cairo said nothing.
"Your first guess was that I had the bird," Spade said in a crisp voicewhen he had put the two hundred dollars into his pocket and had droppedthe wallet on the desk again. "There's nothing in that. What's yoursecond?"
"That you know where it is, or, if not exactly that, that you know it iswhere you can get it."
Spade neither denied nor affirmed that: he seemed hardly to have heardit. He asked: "What sort of proof can you give me that your man is theowner?"
"Very little, unfortunately. There is this, though: nobody else can giveyou any authentic evidence of ownership at all. And if you know as muchabout the affair as I suppose--or I should not be here--you know thatthe means by which it was taken from him shows that his right to it wasmore valid than anyone else's--certainly more valid than Thursby's."
"What about his daughter?" Spade asked.
Excitement opened Cairo's eyes and mouth, turned his face red, made hisvoice shrill. "He is not the owner!"
Spade said, "Oh," mildly and ambiguously.
"Is he here, in San Francisco, now?" Cairo asked in a less shrill, butstill excited, voice.
Spade blinked his eyes sleepily and suggested: "It might be better allaround if we put our cards on the table."
Cairo recovered composure with a little jerk. "I do not think it wouldbe better." His voice was suave now. "If you know more than I, I shallprofit by your knowledge, and so will you to the extent of five thousanddollars. If you do not then I have made a mistake in coming to you, andto do as you suggest would be simply to make that mistake worse."
Spade nodded indifferently and waved his hand at the articles on thedesk, saying: "There's your stuff"; and then, when Cairo was returningthem to his pockets: "It's understood that you're to pay my expenseswhile I'm getting this black bird for you, and five thousand dollarswhen it's done?"
"Yes, Mr. Spade; that is, five thousand dollars less whatever moneyshave been advanced to you--five thousand in all."
"Right. And it's a legitimate proposition." Spade's face was solemnexcept for wrinkles at the corners of his eyes. "You're not hiring me todo any murders or burglaries for you, but simply to get it back ifpossible in an honest and lawful way."
"If possible," Cairo agreed. His face also was solemn except for theeyes. "And in any event with discretion." He rose and picked up his hat."I am at the Hotel Belvedere when you wish to communicate with me--roomsix-thirty-five. I confidently expect the greatest mutual benefit fromour association, Mr. Spade." He hesitated. "May I have my pistol?"
"Sure. I'd forgotten it."
Spade took the pistol out of his coat-pocket and handed it to Cairo.
Cairo pointed the pistol at Spade's chest.
"You will please keep your hands on the top of the desk," Cairo saidearnestly. "I intend to search your offices."
Spade said: "I'll be damned." Then he laughed in his throat and said:"All right. Go ahead. I won't stop you."
6. The Undersized Shadow
For half an hour after Joel Cairo had gone Spade sat alone, still andfrowning, at his desk. Then he said aloud in the tone of one dismissinga problem, "Well, they're paying for it," and took a bottle of Manhattancocktail and a paper drinking-cup from a desk-drawer. He filled the cuptwo-thirds full, drank, returned the bottle to the drawer, tossed thecup into the wastebasket, put on his hat and overcoat, turned off thelights, and went down to the night-lit street.
An undersized youth of twenty or twenty-one in neat grey cap andovercoat was standing idly on the corner below Spade's building.
Spade walked up Sutter Street to Kearny, where he entered a cigar-storeto buy two sacks of Bull Durham. When he came out the youth was one offour people waiting for a street-car on the opposite corner.
Spade ate dinner at Herbert's Grill in Powell Street. When he left theGrill, at a quarter to eight, the youth was looking into a nearbyhaberdasher's window.
Spade went to the Hotel Belvedere, asking at the desk for Mr. Cairo. Hewas told that Cairo was not in. The youth sat in a chair in a far cornerof the lobby.
Spade went to the Geary Theatre, failed to see Cairo in the lobby, andposted himself on the curb in front, facing the theatre. The youthloitered with other loiterers before Marquard's restaurant below.
At ten minutes past eight Joel Cairo appeared, walking up Geary Streetwith his little mincing bobbing steps. Apparently he did not see Spadeuntil the private detective touched his shoulder. He seemed moderatelysurprised for a moment, and then said: "Oh, yes, of course you saw theticket."
"Uh-huh. I've got something I want to show you." Spade drew Cairo backtowards the curb a little away from the other waiting theatre-goers."The kid in the cap down by Marquard's."
Cairo murmured, "I'll see," and looked at his watch. He looked up GearyStreet. He looked at a theatre-sign in front of him on which GeorgeArliss was shown costumed as Shylock, and then his dark eyes crawledsidewise in their sockets until they were looking at the kid in the cap,at his cool pale face with curling lashes hiding lowered eyes.
"Who is he?" Spade asked.
Cairo smiled up at Spade. "I do not know him."
"He's been tailing me around town."
Cairo wet his lower lip with his tongue and asked: "Do you think it waswise, then, to let him see us together?"
"How do I know?" Spade replied. "Anyway, it's done."
Cairo removed his hat and smoothed his hair with a gloved hand. Hereplaced his hat carefully on his head and said with every appearance ofcandor: "I give you my word I do not know him, Mr. Spade. I give you myword I have nothing to do with him. I have asked nobody's assistanceexcept yours, on my word of honor."
"Then he's one of the others?"
"That may be."
"I just wanted to know, because if he gets to be a nuisance I may haveto hurt him."
"Do as you think best. He is not a friend of mine."
"That's good. There goes the curtain. Good night," Spade said, andcrossed the street to board a westbound street-car.
The youth in the cap boarded the same car.
Spade left the car at Hyde Street and went up to his apartment. Hisrooms were not greatly upset, but showed unmistakable signs of havingbeen searched. When Spade had washed and had put on a fresh shirt andcollar he went out again, walked up to Sutter Street, and boarded awestbound car. The youth boarded it also.
Within half a dozen blocks of the Coronet Spade left the car and wentinto the vestibule of a tall brown apartment-building. He pressed threebell-buttons together. The street-door-lock buzzed. He entered, passedthe elevator and stairs, went down a long yellow-walled corridor to therear of the building, found a back door fastened by a Yale lock, and lethimself out into a narrow court. The court led to a dark back street, upwhich Spade walked for two blocks. Then he crossed over to CaliforniaStreet and went to the Coronet. It was not quite half-past nine o'clock.
* * * * *
The eagerness with which Brigid O'Shaughnessy welcomed Spade suggestedthat she had been not entirely certain of his coming. She had put on asatin gown of the blue shade called Artoise that season, with chalcedonyshoulder-straps, and her stockings and slippers were Artoise.
The red and cream sitting-room had been brought to order and livenedwith flowers in squat pottery vases of black and silver. Three smallrough-barked logs burned in the fireplace. Spade watched them burn whileshe put away his hat and coat.
"Do you bring me good news?" she asked when she came into the roomagain. Anxiety looked through her smile, and she held her breath.
"We won't have to make anything public that hasn't already been madepublic."
"The police won't have to know about me?"
She sighed happily and sat on the walnut settee. Her face relaxed andher body relaxed. She smiled up at him with admiring eyes. "However didyou manage it?" she asked more in wonder than in curiosity.
"Most things in San Francisco can be bought, or taken."
"And you won't get into trouble? Do sit down." She made room for him onthe settee.
"I don't mind a reasonable amount of trouble," he said with not too muchcomplacence.
He stood beside the fireplace and looked at her with eyes that studied,weighed, judged her without pretense that they were not studying,weighing, judging her. She flushed slightly under the frankness of hisscrutiny, but she seemed more sure of herself than before, though abecoming shyness had not left her eyes. He stood there until it seemedplain that he meant to ignore her invitation to sit beside her, and thencrossed to the settee.
"You aren't," he asked as he sat down, "exactly the sort of person youpretend to be, are you?"
"I'm not sure I know what you mean," she said in her hushed voice,looking at him with puzzled eyes.
"Schoolgirl manner," he explained, "stammering and blushing and allthat."
She blushed and replied hurriedly, not looking at him: "I told you thisafternoon that I've been bad--worse than you could know."
"That's what I mean," he said. "You told me that this afternoon in thesame words, same tone. It's a speech you've practiced."
After a moment in which she seemed confused almost to the point of tearsshe laughed and said: "Very well, then, Mr. Spade, I'm not at all thesort of person I pretend to be. I'm eighty years old, incredibly wicked,and an iron-molder by trade. But if it's a pose it's one I've growninto, so you won't expect me to drop it entirely, will you?"
"Oh, it's all right," he assured her. "Only it wouldn't be all right ifyou were actually that innocent. We'd never get anywhere."
"I won't be innocent," she promised with a hand on her heart.
"I saw Joel Cairo tonight," he said in the manner of one making politeconversation.
Gaiety went out of her face. Her eyes, focused on his profile, becamefrightened, then cautious. He had stretched his legs out and was lookingat his crossed feet. His face did not indicate that he was thinkingabout anything.
There was a long pause before she asked uneasily:
"You--you know him?"
"I saw him tonight." Spade did not look up and he maintained his lightconversational tone. "He was going to see George Arliss."
"You mean you talked to him?"
"Only for a minute or two, till the curtain-bell rang."
She got up from the settee and went to the fireplace to poke the fire.She changed slightly the position of an ornament on the mantelpiece,crossed the room to get a box of cigarettes from a table in a corner,straightened a curtain, and returned to her seat. Her face now wassmooth and unworried.
Spade grinned sidewise at her and said: "You're good. You're very good."
Her face did not change. She asked quietly: "What did he say?"
She hesitated. "About me."
"Nothing." Spade turned to hold his lighter under the end of hercigarette. His eyes were shiny in a wooden satan's face.
"Well, what did he say?" she asked with half-playful petulance.
"He offered me five thousand dollars for the black bird."
She started, her teeth tore the end of her cigarette, and her eyes,after a swift alarmed glance at Spade, turned away from him.
"You're not going to go around poking at the fire and straightening upthe room again, are you?" he asked lazily.
She laughed a clear merry laugh, dropped the mangled cigarette into atray, and looked at him with clear merry eyes. "I won't," she promised."And what did you say?"
"Five thousand dollars is a lot of money."
She smiled, but when, instead of smiling, he looked gravely at her, hersmile became faint, confused, and presently vanished. In its place camea hurt, bewildered look. "Surely you're not really considering it," shesaid.
"Why not? Five thousand dollars is a lot of money."
"But, Mr. Spade, you promised to help me." Her hands were on his arm. "Itrusted you. You can't--" She broke off, took her hands from his sleeveand worked them together.
Spade smiled gently into her troubled eyes. "Don't let's try to figureout how much you've trusted me," he said. "I promised to helpyou--sure--but you didn't say anything about any black birds."
"But you must've known or--or you wouldn't have mentioned it to me. Youdo know now. You won't--you can't--treat me like that." Her eyes werecobalt-blue prayers.
"Five thousand dollars is," he said for the third time, "a lot ofmoney."
She lifted her shoulders and hands and let them fall in a gesture thataccepted defeat. "It is," she agreed in a small dull voice. "It is farmore than I could ever offer you, if I must bid for your loyalty."
Spade laughed. His laughter was brief and somewhat bitter. "That isgood," he said, "coming from you. What have you given me besides money?Have you given me any of your confidence? any of the truth? any help inhelping you? Haven't you tried to buy my loyalty with money and nothingelse? Well, if I'm peddling it, why shouldn't I let it go to the highestbidder?"
"I've given you all the money I have." Tears glistened in herwhite-ringed eyes. Her voice was hoarse, vibrant. "I've thrown myself onyour mercy, told you that without your help I'm utterly lost. What elseis there?" She suddenly moved close to him on the settee and criedangrily: "Can I buy you with my body?"
Their faces were a few inches apart. Spade took her face between hishands and he kissed her mouth roughly and contemptuously. Then he satback and said: "I'll think it over." His face was hard and furious.
She sat still holding her numbed face where his hands had left it.
He stood up and said: "Christ! there's no sense to this." He took twosteps towards the fireplace and stopped, glowering at the burning logs,grinding his teeth together.
She did not move.
He turned to face her. The two vertical lines above his nose were deepclefts between red wales. "I don't give a damn about your honesty," hetold her, trying to make himself speak calmly. "I don't care what kindof tricks you're up to, what your secrets are, but I've got to havesomething to show that you know what you're doing."
"I do know. Please believe that I do, and that it's all for the best,and--"
"Show me," he ordered. "I'm willing to help you. I've done what I couldso far. If necessary I'll go ahead blindfolded, but I can't do itwithout more confidence in you than I've got now. You've got to convinceme that you know what it's all about, that you're not simply fiddlingaround by guess and by God, hoping it'll come out all right somehow inthe end."
"Can't you trust me just a little longer?"
"How much is a little? And what are you waiting for?"
She bit her lip and looked down. "I must talk to Joel Cairo," she saidalmost inaudibly.
"You can see him tonight," Spade said, looking at his watch. "His showwill be out soon. We can get him on the phone at his hotel."
She raised her eyes, alarmed. "But he can't come here. I can't let himknow where I am. I'm afraid."
"My place," Spade suggested.
She hesitated, working her lips together, then asked: "Do you think he'dgo there?"
"All right," she exclaimed, jumping up, her eyes large and bright."Shall we go now?"
She went into the next room. Spade went to the table in the corner andsilently pulled the drawer out. The drawer held two packs ofplaying-cards, a pad of score-cards for bridge, a brass screw, a pieceof red string, and a gold pencil. He had shut the drawer and waslighting a cigarette when she returned wearing a small dark hat and agrey kidskin coat, carrying his hat and coat.
* * * * *
Their taxicab drew up behind a dark sedan that stood directly in frontof Spade's street-door. Iva Archer was alone in the sedan, sitting atthe wheel. Spade lifted his hat to her and went indoors with BrigidO'Shaughnessy. In the lobby he halted beside one of the benches andasked: "Do you mind waiting here a moment? I won't be long."
"That's perfectly all right," Brigid O'Shaughnessy said, sitting down."You needn't hurry."
Spade went out to the sedan. When he had opened the sedan's door Ivaspoke quickly: "I've got to talk to you, Sam. Can't I come in?" Her facewas pale and nervous.
Iva clicked her teeth together and asked sharply: "Who is she?"
"I've only a minute, Iva," Spade said patiently. "What is it?"
"Who is she?" she repeated, nodding at the street-door.
He looked away from her, down the street. In front of a garage on thenext corner an undersized youth of twenty or twenty-one in neat grey capand overcoat loafed with his back against a wall. Spade frowned andreturned his gaze to Iva's insistent face. "What is the matter?" heasked. "Has anything happened? You oughtn't to be here at this time ofnight."
"I'm beginning to believe that," she complained. "You told me I oughtn'tto come to the office, and now I oughtn't to come here. Do you mean Ioughtn't to chase after you? If that's what you mean why don't you sayit right out?"
"Now, Iva, you've got no right to take that attitude."
"I know I haven't. I haven't any rights at all, it seems, where you'reconcerned. I thought I did. I thought your pretending to love me gaveme--"
Spade said wearily: "This is no time to be arguing about that, precious.What was it you wanted to see me about?"
"I can't talk to you here, Sam. Can't I come in?"
"Why can't I?"
Spade said nothing.
She made a thin line of her mouth, squirmed around straight behind thewheel, and started the sedan's engine, staring angrily ahead.
When the sedan began to move Spade said, "Good night, Iva," shut thedoor, and stood at the curb with his hat in his hand until it had beendriven away. Then he went indoors again.
Brigid O'Shaughnessy rose smiling cheerfully from the bench and theywent up to his apartment.
7. G in the Air
In his bedroom that was a living-room now the wall-bed was up, Spadetook Brigid O'Shaughnessy's hat and coat, made her comfortable in apadded rocking chair, and telephoned the Hotel Belvedere. Cairo had notreturned from the theatre. Spade left his telephone-number with therequest that Cairo call him as soon as he came in.
Spade sat down in the armchair beside the table and without anypreliminary, without an introductory remark of any sort, began to tellthe girl about a thing that had happened some years before in theNorthwest. He talked in a steady matter-of-fact voice that was devoid ofemphasis or pauses, though now and then he repeated a sentence slightlyrearranged, as if it were important that each detail be related exactlyas it had happened.
At the beginning Brigid O'Shaughnessy listened with only partialattentiveness, obviously more surprised by his telling the story thaninterested in it, her curiosity more engaged with his purpose in tellingthe story than with the story he told; but presently, as the story wenton, it caught her more and more fully and she became still andreceptive.
A man named Flitcraft had left his real-estate-office, in Tacoma, to goto luncheon one day and had never returned. He did not keep anengagement to play golf after four that afternoon, though he had takenthe initiative in making the engagement less than half an hour before hewent out to luncheon. His wife and children never saw him again. Hiswife and he were supposed to be on the best of terms. He had twochildren, boys, one five and the other three. He owned his house in aTacoma suburb, a new Packard, and the rest of the appurtenances ofsuccessful American living.
Flitcraft had inherited seventy thousand dollars from his father, and,with his success in real estate, was worth something in the neighborhoodof two hundred thousand dollars at the time he vanished. His affairswere in order, though there were enough loose ends to indicate that hehad not been setting them in order preparatory to vanishing. A deal thatwould have brought him an attractive profit, for instance, was to havebeen concluded the day after the one on which he disappeared. There wasnothing to suggest that he had more than fifty or sixty dollars in hisimmediate possession at the time of his going. His habits for monthspast could be accounted for too thoroughly to justify any suspicion ofsecret vices, or even of another woman in his life, though either wasbarely possible.
"He went like that," Spade said, "like a fist when you open your hand."
When he had reached this point in his story the telephone-bell rang.
"Hello," Spade said into the instrument. "Mr. Cairo?... This isSpade. Can you come up to my place--Post Street--now?... Yes, I thinkit is." He looked at the girl, pursed his lips, and then said rapidly:"Miss O'Shaughnessy is here and wants to see you."
Brigid O'Shaughnessy frowned and stirred in her chair, but did not sayanything.
Spade put the telephone down and told her: "He'll be up in a fewminutes. Well, that was in 1922. In 1927 I was with one of the bigdetective agencies in Seattle. Mrs. Flitcraft came in and told ussomebody had seen a man in Spokane who looked a lot like her husband. Iwent over there. It was Flitcraft, all right. He had been living inSpokane for a couple of years as Charles--that was his firstname--Pierce. He had an automobile-business that was netting him twentyor twenty-five thousand a year, a wife, a baby son, owned his home in aSpokane suburb, and usually got away to play golf after four in theafternoon during the season."
Spade had not been told very definitely what to do when he foundFlitcraft. They talked in Spade's room at the Davenport. Flitcraft hadno feeling of guilt. He had left his first family well provided for, andwhat he had done seemed to him perfectly reasonable. The only thing thatbothered him was a doubt that he could make that reasonableness clear toSpade. He had never told anybody his story before, and thus had not hadto attempt to make its reasonableness explicit. He tried now.
"I got it all right," Spade told Brigid O'Shaughnessy, "but Mrs.Flitcraft never did. She thought it was silly. Maybe it was. Anyway, itcame out all right. She didn't want any scandal, and, after the trick hehad played on her--the way she looked at it--she didn't want him. Sothey were divorced on the quiet and everything was swell all around.
"Here's what had happened to him. Going to lunch he passed anoffice-building that was being put up--just the skeleton. A beam orsomething fell eight or ten stories down and smacked the sidewalkalongside him. It brushed pretty close to him, but didn't touch him,though a piece of the sidewalk was chipped off and flew up and hit hischeek. It only took a piece of skin off, but he still had the scar whenI saw him. He rubbed it with his finger--well, affectionately--when hetold me about it. He was scared stiff of course, he said, but he wasmore shocked than really frightened. He felt like somebody had taken thelid off life and let him look at the works."
Flitcraft had been a good citizen and a good husband and father, not byany outer compulsion, but simply because he was a man who was mostcomfortable in step with his surroundings. He had been raised that way.The people he knew were like that. The life he knew was a clean orderlysane responsible affair. Now a falling beam had shown him that life wasfundamentally none of these things. He, the good citizen-husband-father,could be wiped out between office and restaurant by the accident of afalling beam. He knew then that men died at haphazard like that, andlived only while blind chance spared them.
It was not, primarily, the injustice of it that disturbed him: heaccepted that after the first shock. What disturbed him was thediscovery that in sensibly ordering his affairs he had got out of step,and not into step, with life. He said he knew before he had gone twentyfeet from the fallen beam that he would never know peace again until hehad adjusted himself to this new glimpse of life. By the time he hadeaten his luncheon he had found his means of adjustment. Life could beended for him at random by a falling beam: he would change his life atrandom by simply going away. He loved his family, he said, as much as hesupposed was usual, but he knew he was leaving them adequately providedfor, and his love for them was not of the sort that would make absencepainful.
"He went to Seattle that afternoon," Spade said, "and from there by boatto San Francisco. For a couple of years he wandered around and thendrifted back to the Northwest, and settled in Spokane and got married.His second wife didn't look like the first, but they were more alikethan they were different. You know, the kind of women that play fairgames of golf and bridge and like new salad-recipes. He wasn't sorry forwhat he had done. It seemed reasonable enough to him. I don't think heeven knew he had settled back naturally into the same groove he hadjumped out of in Tacoma. But that's the part of it I always liked. Headjusted himself to beams falling, and then no more of them fell, and headjusted himself to them not falling."
"How perfectly fascinating," Brigid O'Shaughnessy said. She left herchair and stood in front of him, close. Her eyes were wide and deep. "Idon't have to tell you how utterly at a disadvantage you'll have me,with him here, if you choose."
Spade smiled slightly without separating his lips. "No, you don't haveto tell me," he agreed.
"And you know I'd never have placed myself in this position if I hadn'ttrusted you completely." Her thumb and forefinger twisted a black buttonon his blue coat.
Spade said, "That again!" with mock resignation.
"But you know it's so," she insisted.
"No, I don't know it." He patted the hand that was twisting the button."My asking for reasons why I should trust you brought us here. Don'tlet's confuse things. You don't have to trust me, anyhow, as long as youcan persuade me to trust you."
She studied his face. Her nostrils quivered.
Spade laughed. He patted her hand again and said: "Don't worry aboutthat now. He'll be here in a moment. Get your business with him over,and then we'll see how we'll stand."
"And you'll let me go about it--with him--in my own way?"
She turned her hand under his so that her fingers pressed his. She saidsoftly: "You're a God-send."
Spade said: "Don't overdo it."
She looked reproachfully at him, though smiling, and returned to thepadded rocker.
Joel Cairo was excited. His dark eyes seemed all irises and hishigh-pitched thin-voiced words were tumbling out before Spade had thedoor half-open.
"That boy is out there watching the house, Mr. Spade, that boy youshowed me, or to whom you showed me, in front of the theatre. What am Ito understand from that, Mr. Spade? I came here in good faith, with nothought of tricks or traps."
"You were asked in good faith." Spade frowned thoughtfully. "But I oughtto've guessed he might show up. He saw you come in?"
"Naturally. I could have gone on, but that seemed useless, since you hadalready let him see us together."
Brigid O'Shaughnessy came into the passageway behind Spade and askedanxiously: "What boy? What is it?"
Cairo removed his black hat from his head, bowed stiffly, and said in aprim voice: "If you do not know, ask Mr. Spade. I know nothing about itexcept through him."
"A kid who's been trying to tail me around town all evening," Spade saidcarelessly over his shoulder, not turning to face the girl. "Come on in,Cairo. There's no use standing here talking for all the neighbors."
Brigid O'Shaughnessy grasped Spade's arm above the elbow and demanded:"Did he follow you to my apartment?"
"No. I shook him before that. Then I suppose he came back here to try topick me up again."
Cairo, holding his black hat to his belly with both hands, had come intothe passageway. Spade shut the corridor-door behind him and they wentinto the living-room. There Cairo bowed stiffly over his hat once moreand said: "I am delighted to see you again, Miss O'Shaughnessy."
"I was sure you would be, Joe," she replied, giving him her hand.
He made a formal bow over her hand and released it quickly.
She sat in the padded rocker she had occupied before. Cairo sat in thearmchair by the table. Spade, when he had hung Cairo's hat and coat inthe closet, sat on an end of the sofa in front of the windows and beganto roll a cigarette.
Brigid O'Shaughnessy said to Cairo: "Sam told me about your offer forthe falcon. How soon can you have the money ready?"
Cairo's eyebrows twitched. He smiled. "It is ready." He continued tosmile at the girl for a little while after he had spoken, and thenlooked at Spade.
Spade was lighting his cigarette. His face was tranquil.
"In cash?" the girl asked.
"Oh, yes," Cairo replied.
She frowned, put her tongue between her lips, withdrew it, and asked:"You are ready to give us five thousand dollars, now, if we give you thefalcon?"
Cairo held up a wriggling hand. "Excuse me," he said. "I expressedmyself badly. I did not mean to say that I have the money in my pockets,but that I am prepared to get it on a very few minutes' notice at anytime during banking hours."
"Oh!" She looked at Spade.
Spade blew cigarette-smoke down the front of his vest and said: "That'sprobably right. He had only a few hundred in his pockets when I friskedhim this afternoon."
When her eyes opened round and wide he grinned.
The Levantine bent forward in his chair. He failed to keep eagernessfrom showing in his eyes and voice. "I can be quite prepared to give youthe money at, say, half-past ten in the morning. Eh?"
Brigid O'Shaughnessy smiled at him and said: "But I haven't got thefalcon."
Cairo's face was darkened by a flush of annoyance. He put an ugly handon either arm of his chair, holding his small-boned body erect and stiffbetween them. His dark eyes were angry. He did not say anything.
The girl made a mock-placatory face at him. "I'll have it in a week atthe most, though," she said.
"Where is it?" Cairo used politeness of mien to express skepticism.
"Where Floyd hid it."
"And you know where that is?" he asked.
"I think I do."
"Then why must we wait a week?"
"Perhaps not a whole week. Whom are you buying it for, Joe?"
Cairo raised his eyebrows. "I told Mr. Spade. For its owner."
Surprise illuminated the girl's face. "So you went back to him?"
"Naturally I did."
She laughed softly in her throat and said: "I should have liked to haveseen that."
Cairo shrugged. "That was the logical development." He rubbed the backof one hand with the palm of the other. His upper lids came down toshade his eyes. "Why, if I in turn may ask a question, are you willingto sell to me?"
"I'm afraid," she said simply, "after what happened to Floyd. That's whyI haven't it now. I'm afraid to touch it except to turn it over tosomebody else right away."
Spade, propped on an elbow on the sofa, looked at and listened to themimpartially. In the comfortable slackness of his body, in the easystillness of his features, there was no indication of either curiosityor impatience.
"Exactly what," Cairo asked in a low voice, "happened to Floyd?"
The tip of Brigid O'Shaughnessy's right forefinger traced a swift G inthe air.
Cairo said, "I see," but there was something doubting in his smile. "Ishe here?"
"I don't know." She spoke impatiently. "What difference does it make?"
The doubt in Cairo's smile deepened. "It might make a world ofdifference," he said, and rearranged his hands in his lap so that,intentionally or not, a blunt forefinger pointed at Spade.
The girl glanced at the pointing finger and made an impatient motionwith her head. "Or me," she said, "or you."
"Exactly, and shall we add more certainly the boy outside?"
"Yes," she agreed and laughed. "Yes, unless he's the one you had inConstantinople."
Sudden blood mottled Cairo's face. In a shrill enraged voice he cried:"The one you couldn't make?"
Brigid O'Shaughnessy jumped up from her chair. Her lower lip was betweenher teeth. Her eyes were dark and wide in a tense white face. She tooktwo quick steps towards Cairo. He started to rise. Her right hand wentout and cracked sharply against his cheek, leaving the imprint offingers there.
Cairo grunted and slapped her cheek, staggering her sidewise, bringingfrom her mouth a brief muffled scream.
Spade, wooden of face, was up from the sofa and close to them by then.He caught Cairo by the throat and shook him. Cairo gurgled and put ahand inside his coat. Spade grasped the Levantine's wrist, wrenched itaway from the coat, forced it straight out to the side, and twisted ituntil the clumsy flaccid fingers opened to let the black pistol falldown on the rug.
Brigid O'Shaughnessy quickly picked up the pistol.
Cairo, speaking with difficulty because of the fingers on his throat,said: "This is the second time you've put your hands on me." His eyes,though the throttling pressure on his throat made them bulge, were coldand menacing.
"Yes," Spade growled. "And when you're slapped you'll take it and likeit." He released Cairo's wrist and with a thick open hand struck theside of his face three times, savagely.
Cairo tried to spit in Spade's face, but the dryness of the Levantine'smouth made it only an angry gesture. Spade slapped the mouth, cuttingthe lower lip.
The door-bell rang.
Cairo's eyes jerked into focus on the passageway that led to thecorridor-door. His eyes had become unangry and wary. The girl had gaspedand turned to face the passageway. Her face was frightened. Spade staredgloomily for a moment at the blood trickling from Cairo's lip, and thenstepped back, taking his hand from the Levantine's throat.
"Who is it?" the girl whispered, coming close to Spade; and Cairo's eyesjerked back to ask the same question.
Spade gave his answer irritably: "I don't know."
The bell rang again, more insistently.
"Well, keep quiet," Spade said, and went out of the room, shutting thedoor behind him.
* * * * *
Spade turned on the light in the passageway and opened the door to thecorridor. Lieutenant Dundy and Tom Polhaus were there.
"Hello, Sam," Tom said. "We thought maybe you wouldn't've gone to bedyet."
Dundy nodded, but said nothing.
Spade said good-naturedly: "Hello. You guys pick swell hours to do yourvisiting in. What is it this time?"
Dundy spoke then, quietly: "We want to talk to you, Spade."
"Well?" Spade stood in the doorway, blocking it. "Go ahead and talk."
Tom Polhaus advanced saying: "We don't have to do it standing here, dowe?"
Spade stood in the doorway and said: "You can't come in." His tone wasvery slightly apologetic.
Tom's thick-featured face, even in height with Spade's, took on anexpression of friendly scorn, though there was a bright gleam in hissmall shrewd eyes. "What the hell, Sam?" he protested and put a big handplayfully on Spade's chest.
Spade leaned against the pushing hand, grinned wolfishly, and asked:"Going to strong-arm me, Tom?"
Tom grumbled, "Aw, for God's sake," and took his hand away.
Dundy clicked his teeth together and said through them: "Let us in."
Spade's lip twitched over his eyetooth. He said: "You're not coming in.What do you want to do about it? Try to get in? Or do your talking here?Or go to hell?"
Dundy, still speaking through his teeth, said: "It'd pay you to playalong with us a little, Spade. You've got away with this and you've gotaway with that, but you can't keep it up forever."
"Stop me when you can," Spade replied arrogantly.
"That's what I'll do." Dundy put his hands behind him and thrust hishard face up towards the private detective's. "There's talk going aroundthat you and Archer's wife were cheating on him."
Spade laughed. "That sounds like something you thought up yourself."
"Then there's not anything to it?"
"The talk is," Dundy said, "that she tried to get a divorce out of himso's she could put in with you, but he wouldn't give it to her. Anythingto that?"
"There's even talk," Dundy went on stolidly, "that that's why he was puton the spot."
Spade seemed mildly amused. "Don't be a hog," he said. "You oughtn't tryto pin more than one murder at a time on me. Your first idea that Iknocked Thursby off because he'd killed Miles falls apart if you blameme for killing Miles too."
"You haven't heard me say you killed anybody," Dundy replied. "You'rethe one that keeps bringing that up. But suppose I did. You could haveblipped them both. There's a way of figuring it."
"Uh-huh. I could've butchered Miles to get his wife, and then Thursby soI could hang Miles's killing on him. That's a hell of a swell system, orwill be when I can give somebody else the bump and hang Thursby's onthem. How long am I supposed to keep that up? Are you going to put yourhand on my shoulder for all the killings in San Francisco from now on?"
Tom said: "Aw, cut the comedy, Sam. You know damned well we don't likethis any more than you do, but we got our work to do."
"I hope you've got something to do besides pop in here early everymorning with a lot of damned fool questions."
"And get damned lying answers," Dundy added deliberately.
"Take it easy," Spade cautioned him.
Dundy looked him up and down and then looked him straight in the eyes."If you say there was nothing between you and Archer's wife," he said,"you're a liar, and I'm telling you so."
A startled look came into Tom's small eyes.
Spade moistened his lips with the tip of his tongue and asked: "Is thatthe hot tip that brought you here at this ungodly time of night?"
"That's one of them."
"And the others?"
Dundy pulled down the corners of his mouth. "Let us in." He noddedsignificantly at the doorway in which Spade stood.
Spade frowned and shook his head.
Dundy's mouth-corners lifted in a smile of grim satisfaction. "Theremust've been something to it," he told Tom.
Tom shifted his feet and, not looking at either man, mumbled: "Godknows."
"What's this?" Spade asked. "Charades?"
"All right, Spade, we're going." Dundy buttoned his overcoat. "We'll bein to see you now and then. Maybe you're right in bucking us. Think itover."
"Uh-huh," Spade said, grinning. "Glad to see you any time, Lieutenant,and whenever I'm not busy I'll let you in."
A voice in Spade's living-room screamed: "Help! Help! Police! Help!" Thevoice, high and thin and shrill, was Joel Cairo's.
Lieutenant Dundy stopped turning away from the door, confronted Spadeagain, and said decisively: "I guess we're going in."
The sounds of a brief struggle, of a blow, of a subdued cry, came tothem.
Spade's face twisted into a smile that held little joy. He said, "Iguess you are," and stood out of the way.
When the police-detectives had entered he shut the corridor-door andfollowed them back to the living-room.
8. Horse Feathers
Brigid O'Shaughnessy was huddled in the armchair by the table. Herforearms were up over her cheeks, her knees drawn up until they hid thelower part of her face. Her eyes were white-circled and terrified.
Joel Cairo stood in front of her, bending over her, holding in one handthe pistol Spade had twisted out of his hand. His other hand was clappedto his forehead. Blood ran through the fingers of that hand and downunder them to his eyes. A smaller trickle from his cut lip made threewavy lines across his chin.
Cairo did not heed the detectives. He was glaring at the girl huddled infront of him. His lips were working spasmodically, but no coherent soundcame from between them.
Dundy, the first of the three into the living-room, moved swiftly toCairo's side, put a hand on his own hip under his overcoat, a hand onthe Levantine's wrist, and growled: "What are you up to here?"
Cairo took the red-smeared hand from his head and flourished it close tothe Lieutenant's face. Uncovered by the hand, his forehead showed athree-inch ragged tear. "This is what she has done," he cried. "Look atit."
The girl put her feet down on the floor and looked warily from Dundy,holding Cairo's wrist, to Tom Polhaus, standing a little behind them, toSpade, leaning against the door-frame. Spade's face was placid. When hisgaze met hers his yellow-grey eyes glinted for an instant with malicioushumor and then became expressionless again.
"Did you do that?" Dundy asked the girl, nodding at Cairo's cut head.
She looked at Spade again. He did not in any way respond to the appealin her eyes. He leaned against the door-frame and observed the occupantsof the room with the polite detached air of a disinterested spectator.
The girl turned her eyes up to Dundy's. Her eyes were wide and dark andearnest. "I had to," she said in a low throbbing voice. "I was all alonein here with him when he attacked me. I couldn't--I tried to keep himoff. I--I couldn't make myself shoot him."
"Oh, you liar!" Cairo cried, trying unsuccessfully to pull the arm thatheld his pistol out of Dundy's grip. "Oh, you dirty filthy liar!" Hetwisted himself around to face Dundy. "She's lying awfully. I came herein good faith and was attacked by both of them, and when you came hewent out to talk to you, leaving her here with this pistol, and then shesaid they were going to kill me after you left, and I called for help,so you wouldn't leave me here to be murdered, and then she struck mewith the pistol."
"Here, give me this thing," Dundy said, and took the pistol from Cairo'shand. "Now let's get this straight. What'd you come here for?"
"He sent for me." Cairo twisted his head around to stare defiantly atSpade. "He called me up on the phone and asked me to come here."
Spade blinked sleepily at the Levantine and said nothing.
Dundy asked: "What'd he want you for?"
Cairo withheld his reply until he had mopped his bloody forehead andchin with a lavender-barred silk handkerchief. By then some of theindignation in his manner had been replaced by caution. "He said hewanted--they wanted--to see me. I didn't know what about."
Tom Polhaus lowered his head, sniffed the odor of chypre that themopping handkerchief had released in the air, and turned his head toscowl interrogatively at Spade. Spade winked at him and went on rollinga cigarette.
Dundy asked: "Well, what happened then?"
"Then they attacked me. She struck me first, and then he choked me andtook the pistol out of my pocket. I don't know what they would have donenext if you hadn't arrived at that moment. I dare say they would havemurdered me then and there. When he went out to answer the bell he lefther here with the pistol to watch over me."
Brigid O'Shaughnessy jumped out of the armchair crying, "Why don't youmake him tell the truth?" and slapped Cairo on the cheek.
Cairo yelled inarticulately.
Dundy pushed the girl back into the chair with the hand that was notholding the Levantine's arm and growled: "None of that now."
Spade, lighting his cigarette, grinned softly through smoke and toldTom: "She's impulsive."
"Yeah," Tom agreed.
Dundy scowled down at the girl and asked: "What do you want us to thinkthe truth is?"
"Not what he said," she replied. "Not anything he said." She turned toSpade. "Is it?"
"How do I know?" Spade responded. "I was out in the kitchen mixing anomelette when it all happened, wasn't I?"
She wrinkled her forehead, studying him with eyes that perplexityclouded.
Tom granted in disgust.
Dundy, still scowling at the girl, ignored Spade's speech and asked her:"If he's not telling the truth, how come he did the squawking for help,and not you?"
"Oh, he was frightened to death when I struck him," she replied, lookingcontemptuously at the Levantine.
Cairo's face flushed where it was not blood-smeared. He exclaimed:"Pfoo! Another lie!"
She kicked his leg, the high heel of her blue slipper striking him justbelow the knee. Dundy pulled him away from her while big Tom came tostand close to her, rumbling: "Behave, sister. That's no way to act."
"Then make him tell the truth," she said defiantly.
"We'll do that all right," he promised. "Just don't get rough."
Dundy, looking at Spade with green eyes hard and bright and satisfied,addressed his subordinate: "Well, Tom, I don't guess we'll go wrongpulling the lot of them in."
Tom nodded gloomily.
Spade left the door and advanced to the center of the room, dropping hiscigarette into a tray on the table as he passed it. His smile and mannerwere amiably composed. "Don't be in a hurry," he said. "Everything canbe explained."
"I bet you," Dundy agreed, sneering.
Spade bowed to the girl. "Miss O'Shaughnessy," he said, "may I presentLieutenant Dundy and Detective-sergeant Polhaus." He bowed to Dundy."Miss O'Shaughnessy is an operative in my employ."
Joel Cairo said indignantly: "That isn't so. She--"
Spade interrupted him in a quite loud, but still genial, voice: "I hiredher just recently, yesterday. This is Mr. Joel Cairo, a friend--anacquaintance, at any rate--of Thursby's. He came to me this afternoonand tried to hire me to find something Thursby was supposed to have onhim when he was bumped off. It looked funny, the way he put it to me, soI wouldn't touch it. Then he pulled a gun--well, never mind that unlessit comes to a point of laying charges against each other. Anyway, aftertalking it over with Miss O'Shaughnessy, I thought maybe I could getsomething out of him about Miles's and Thursby's killings, so I askedhim to come up here. Maybe we put the questions to him a little rough,but he wasn't hurt any, not enough to have to cry for help. I'd alreadyhad to take his gun away from him again."
As Spade talked anxiety came into Cairo's reddened face. His eyes movedjerkily up and down, shifting their focus uneasily between the floor andSpade's bland face.
Dundy confronted Cairo and bruskly demanded: "Well, what've you got tosay to that?"
Cairo had nothing to say for nearly a minute while he stared at theLieutenant's chest. When he lifted his eyes they were shy and wary. "Idon't know what I should say," he murmured. His embarrassment seemedgenuine.
"Try telling the facts," Dundy suggested.
"The facts?" Cairo's eyes fidgeted, though their gaze did not actuallyleave the Lieutenant's. "What assurance have I that the facts will bebelieved?"
"Quit stalling. All you've got to do is swear to a complaint that theytook a poke at you and the warrant-clerk will believe you enough toissue a warrant that'll let us throw them in the can."
Spade spoke in an amused tone: "Go ahead, Cairo. Make him happy. Tellhim you'll do it, and then we'll swear to one against you, and he'llhave the lot of us."
Cairo cleared his throat and looked nervously around the room, not intothe eyes of anyone there.
Dundy blew breath through his nose in a puff that was not quite a snortand said: "Get your hats."
Cairo's eyes, holding worry and a question, met Spade's mocking gaze.Spade winked at him and sat on the arm of the padded rocker. "Well, boysand girls," he said, grinning at the Levantine and at the girl withnothing but delight in his voice and grin, "we put it over nicely."
Dundy's hard square face darkened the least of shades. He repeatedperemptorily: "Get your hats."
Spade turned his grin on the Lieutenant, squirmed into a morecomfortable position on the chair-arm, and asked lazily: "Don't you knowwhen you're being kidded?"
Tom Polhaus's face became red and shiny.
Dundy's face, still darkening, was immobile except for lips movingstiffly to say: "No, but we'll let that wait till we get down to theHall."
Spade rose and put his hands in his trousers-pockets. He stood erect sohe might look that much farther down at the Lieutenant. His grin was ataunt and self-certainty spoke in every line of his posture.
"I dare you to take us in, Dundy," he said. "We'll laugh at you in everynewspaper in San Francisco. You don't think any of us is going to swearto any complaints against the others, do you? Wake up. You've beenkidded. When the bell rang I said to Miss O'Shaughnessy and Cairo: 'It'sthose damned bulls again. They're getting to be nuisances. Let's play ajoke on them. When you hear them going one of you scream, and then we'llsee how far we can string them along before they tumble.' And--"
Brigid O'Shaughnessy bent forward in her chair and began to laughhysterically.
Cairo started and smiled. There was no vitality in his smile, but heheld it fixed on his face.
Tom, glowering, grumbled: "Cut it out, Sam."
Spade chuckled and said: "But that's the way it was. We--"
"And the cut on his head and mouth?" Dundy asked scornfully. "Where'dthey come from?"
"Ask him," Spade suggested. "Maybe he cut himself shaving."
Cairo spoke quickly, before he could be questioned, and the muscles ofhis face quivered under the strain of holding his smile in place whilehe spoke. "I fell. We intended to be struggling for the pistol when youcame in, but I fell. I tripped on the end of the rug and fell while wewere pretending to struggle."
Dundy said: "Horse feathers."
Spade said: "That's all right, Dundy, believe it or not. The point isthat that's our story and we'll stick to it. The newspapers will printit whether they believe it or not, and it'll be just as funny one way asthe other, or more so. What are you going to do about it? It's no crimeto kid a copper, is it? You haven't got anything on anybody here.Everything we told you was part of the joke. What are you going to doabout it?"
Dundy put his back to Spade and gripped Cairo by the shoulders. "Youcan't get away with that," he snarled, shaking the Levantine. "Youbelched for help and you've got to take it."
"No, sir," Cairo sputtered. "It was a joke. He said you were friends ofhis and would understand."
Dundy pulled Cairo roughly around, holding him now by one wrist and thenape of his neck. "I'll take you along for packing the gun, anyway," hesaid. "And I'll take the rest of you along to see who laughs at thejoke."
Cairo's alarmed eyes jerked sidewise to focus on Spade's face.
Spade said: "Don't be a sap, Dundy. The gun was part of the plant. It'sone of mine." He laughed. "Too bad it's only a thirty-two, or maybe youcould find it was the one Thursby and Miles were shot with."
Dundy released Cairo, spun on his heel, and his right fist clicked onSpade's chin.
Brigid O'Shaughnessy uttered a short cry.
Spade's smile flickered out at the instant of the impact, but returnedimmediately with a dreamy quality added. He steadied himself with ashort backward step and his thick sloping shoulders writhed under hiscoat. Before his fist could come up Tom Polhaus had pushed himselfbetween the two men, facing Spade, encumbering Spade's arms with thecloseness of his barrel-like belly and his own arms.
"No, no, for Christ's sake!" Tom begged.
After a long moment of motionlessness Spade's muscles relaxed. "Then gethim out of here quick," he said. His smile had gone away again, leavinghis face sullen and somewhat pale.
Tom, staying close to Spade, keeping his arms on Spade's arms, turnedhis head to look over his shoulder at Lieutenant Dundy. Tom's small eyeswere reproachful.
Dundy's fists were clenched in front of his body and his feet wereplanted firm and a little apart on the floor, but the truculence in hisface was modified by thin rims of white showing between green irises andupper eyelids.
"Get their names and addresses," he ordered.
Tom looked at Cairo, who said quickly: "Joel Cairo, Hotel Belvedere."
Spade spoke before Tom could question the girl. "You can always get intouch with Miss O'Shaughnessy through me."
Tom looked at Dundy. Dundy growled: "Get her address."
Spade said: "Her address is in care of my office."
Dundy took a step forward, halting in front of the girl. "Where do youlive?" he asked.
Spade addressed Tom: "Get him out of here. I've had enough of this."
Tom looked at Spade's eyes--hard and glittering--and mumbled: "Take iteasy, Sam." He buttoned his coat and turned to Dundy, asking, in a voicethat aped casualness, "Well, is that all?" and taking a step towards thedoor.
Dundy's scowl failed to conceal indecision.
Cairo moved suddenly towards the door, saying: "I'm going too, if Mr.Spade will be kind enough to give me my hat and coat."
Spade asked: "What's the hurry?"
Dundy said angrily: "It was all in fun, but just the same you're afraidto be left here with them."
"Not at all," the Levantine replied, fidgeting, looking at neither ofthem, "but it's quite late and--and I'm going. I'll go out with you ifyou don't mind."
Dundy put his lips together firmly and said nothing. A light wasglinting in his green eyes.
Spade went to the closet in the passageway and fetched Cairo's hat andcoat. Spade's face was blank. His voice held the same blankness when hestepped back from helping the Levantine into his coat and said to Tom:"Tell him to leave the gun."
Dundy took Cairo's pistol from his overcoat-pocket and put it on thetable. He went out first, with Cairo at his heels. Tom halted in frontof Spade, muttering, "I hope to God you know what you're doing," got noresponse, sighed, and followed the others out. Spade went after them asfar as the bend in the passageway, where he stood until Tom had closedthe corridor-door.
Spade returned to the living-room and sat on an end of the sofa, elbowson knees, cheeks in hands, looking at the floor and not at BrigidO'Shaughnessy smiling weakly at him from the armchair. His eyes weresultry. The creases between brows over his nose were deep. His nostrilsmoved in and out with his breathing.
Brigid O'Shaughnessy, when it became apparent that he was not going tolook up at her, stopped smiling and regarded him with growinguneasiness.
Red rage came suddenly into his face and he began to talk in a harshguttural voice. Holding his maddened face in his hands, glaring at thefloor, he cursed Dundy for five minutes without break, cursed himobscenely, blasphemously, repetitiously, in a harsh guttural voice.
Then he took his face out of his hands, looked at the girl, grinnedsheepishly, and said: "Childish, huh? I know, but, by God, I do hatebeing hit without hitting back." He touched his chin with carefulfingers. "Not that it was so much of a sock at that." He laughed andlounged back on the sofa, crossing his legs. "A cheap enough price topay for winning." His brows came together in a fleeting scowl. "ThoughI'll remember it."
The girl, smiling again, left her chair and sat on the sofa beside him."You're absolutely the wildest person I've ever known," she said. "Doyou always carry on so high-handed?"
"I let him hit me, didn't I?"
"Oh, yes, but a police official."
"It wasn't that," Spade explained. "It was that in losing his head andslugging me he overplayed his hand. If I'd mixed it with him then hecouldn't've backed down. He'd've had to go through with it, and we'd'vehad to tell that goofy story at headquarters." He stared thoughtfully atthe girl, and asked: "What did you do to Cairo?"
"Nothing." Her face became flushed. "I tried to frighten him intokeeping still until they had gone and he either got too frightened orstubborn and yelled."
"And then you smacked him with the gun?"
"I had to. He attacked me."
"You don't know what you're doing." Spade's smile did not hide hisannoyance. "It's just what I told you: you're fumbling along by guessand by God."
"I'm sorry," she said, face and voice soft with contrition, "Sam."
"Sure you are." He took tobacco and papers from his pockets and began tomake a cigarette. "Now you've had your talk with Cairo. Now you can talkto me."
She put a fingertip to her mouth, staring across the room at nothingwith widened eyes, and then, with narrower eyes, glanced quickly atSpade. He was engrossed in the making of his cigarette. "Oh, yes," shebegan, "of course--" She took the finger away from her mouth andsmoothed her blue dress over her knees. She frowned at her knees.
Spade licked his cigarette, sealed it, and asked, "Well?" while he feltfor his lighter.
"But I didn't," she said, pausing between words as if she were selectingthem with great care, "have time to finish talking to him." She stoppedfrowning at her knees and looked at Spade with clear candid eyes. "Wewere interrupted almost before we had begun."
Spade lighted his cigarette and laughed his mouth empty of smoke. "Wantme to phone him and ask him to come back?"
She shook her head, not smiling. Her eyes moved back and forth betweenher lids as she shook her head, maintaining their focus on Spade's eyes.Her eyes were inquisitive.
Spade put an arm across her back, cupping his hand over the smooth barewhite shoulder farthest from him. She leaned back into the bend of hisarm. He said: "Well, I'm listening."
She twisted her head around to smile up at him with playful insolence,asking: "Do you need your arm there for that?"
"No." He removed his hand from her shoulder and let his arm drop downbehind her.
"You're altogether unpredictable," she murmured.
He nodded and said amiably: "I'm still listening."
"Look at the time!" she exclaimed, wriggling a finger at the alarm-clockperched atop the book saying two-fifty with its clumsily shaped hands.
"Uh-huh, it's been a busy evening."
"I must go." She rose from the sofa. "This is terrible."
Spade did not rise. He shook his head and said: "Not until you've toldme about it."
"But look at the time," she protested, "and it would take hours to tellyou."
"It'll have to take them then."
"Am I a prisoner?" she asked gaily.
"Besides, there's the kid outside. Maybe he hasn't gone home to sleepyet."
Her gaiety vanished. "Do you think he's still there?"
She shivered. "Could you find out?"
"I could go down and see."
"Oh, that's--will you?"
Spade studied her anxious face for a moment and then got up from thesofa saying: "Sure." He got a hat and overcoat from the closet. "I'll begone about ten minutes."
"Do be careful," she begged as she followed him to the corridor-door.
He said, "I will," and went out.
* * * * *
Post Street was empty when Spade issued into it. He walked east a block,crossed the street, walked west two blocks on the other side, recrossedit, and returned to his building without having seen anyone except twomechanics working on a car in a garage.
When he opened his apartment-door Brigid O'Shaughnessy was standing atthe bend in the passageway, holding Cairo's pistol straight down at herside.
"He's still there," Spade said.
She bit the inside of her lip and turned slowly, going back into theliving-room. Spade followed her in, put his hat and overcoat on a chair,said, "So we'll have time to talk," and went into the kitchen.
He had put the coffee-pot on the stove when she came to the door, andwas slicing a slender loaf of French bread. She stood in the doorway andwatched him with preoccupied eyes. The fingers of her left hand idlycaressed the body and barrel of the pistol her right hand still held.
"The table-cloth's in there," he said, pointing the bread-knife at acupboard that was one breakfast-nook partition.
She set the table while he spread liverwurst on, or put cold corned beefbetween, the small ovals of bread he had sliced. Then he poured thecoffee, added brandy to it from a squat bottle, and they sat at thetable. They sat side by side on one of the benches. She put the pistoldown on the end of the bench nearer her.
"You can start now, between bites," he said.
She made a face at him, complained, "You're the most insistent person,"and bit a sandwich.
"Yes, and wild and unpredictable. What's this bird, this falcon, thateverybody's all steamed up about?"
She chewed the beef and bread in her mouth, swallowed it, lookedattentively at the small crescent its removal had made in the sandwich'srim, and asked: "Suppose I wouldn't tell you? Suppose I wouldn't tellyou anything at all about it? What would you do?"
"You mean about the bird?"
"I mean about the whole thing."
"I wouldn't be too surprised," he told her, grinning so that the edgesof his jaw-teeth were visible, "to know what to do next."
"And that would be?" She transferred her attention from the sandwich tohis face. "That's what I wanted to know: what would you do next?"
He shook his head.
Mockery rippled in a smile on her face. "Something wild andunpredictable?"
"Maybe. But I don't see what you've got to gain by covering up now. It'scoming out bit by bit anyhow. There's a lot of it I don't know, butthere's some of it I do, and some more that I can guess at, and, give meanother day like this, I'll soon be knowing things about it that youdon't know."
"I suppose you do now," she said, looking at her sandwich again, herface serious. "But--oh!--I'm so tired of it, and I do so hate having totalk about it. Wouldn't it--wouldn't it be just as well to wait and letyou learn about it as you say you will?"
Spade laughed. "I don't know. You'll have to figure that out foryourself. My way of learning is to heave a wild and unpredictablemonkey-wrench into the machinery. It's all right with me, if you're surenone of the flying pieces will hurt you."
She moved her bare shoulders uneasily, but said nothing. For severalminutes they ate in silence, he phlegmatically, she thoughtfully. Thenshe said in a hushed voice: "I'm afraid of you, and that's the truth."
He said: "That's not the truth."
"It is," she insisted in the same low voice. "I know two men I'm afraidof and I've seen both of them tonight."
"I can understand your being afraid of Cairo," Spade said. "He's out ofyour reach."
"And you aren't?"
"Not that way," he said and grinned.
She blushed. She picked up a slice of bread encrusted with greyliverwurst. She put it down on her plate. She wrinkled her whiteforehead and she said: "It's a black figure, as you know, smooth andshiny, of a bird, a hawk or falcon, about that high." She held her handsa foot apart.
"What makes it important?"
She sipped coffee and brandy before she shook her head. "I don't know,"she said. "They'd never tell me. They promised me five hundred pounds ifI helped them get it. Then Floyd said afterward, after we'd left Joe,that he'd give me seven hundred and fifty."
"So it must be worth more than seventy-five hundred dollars?"
"Oh, much more than that," she said. "They didn't pretend that they weresharing equally with me. They were simply hiring me to help them."
"To help them how?"
She lifted her cup to her lips again. Spade, not moving the domineeringstare of his yellow-grey eyes from her face, began to make a cigarette.Behind them the percolator bubbled on the stove.
"To help them get it from the man who had it," she said slowly when shehad lowered her cup, "a Russian named Kemidov."
"Oh, but that's not important," she objected, "and wouldn't helpyou"--she smiled impudently--"and is certainly none of your business."
"This was in Constantinople?"
She hesitated, nodded, and said: "Marmora."
He waved his cigarette at her, saying: "Go ahead, what happened then?"
"But that's all. I've told you. They promised me five hundred pounds tohelp them and I did and then we found that Joe Cairo meant to desert us,taking the falcon with him and leaving us nothing. So we did exactlythat to him, first. But then I wasn't any better off than I had beenbefore, because Floyd hadn't any intention at all of paying me the sevenhundred and fifty pounds he had promised me. I had learned that by thetime we got here. He said we would go to New York, where he would sellit and give me my share, but I could see he wasn't telling me thetruth." Indignation had darkened her eyes to violet. "And that's why Icame to you to get you to help me learn where the falcon was."
"And suppose you'd got it? What then?"
"Then I'd have been in a position to talk terms with Mr. Floyd Thursby."
Spade squinted at her and suggested: "But you wouldn't have known whereto take it to get more money than he'd give you, the larger sum that youknew he expected to sell it for?"
"I did not know," she said.
Spade scowled at the ashes he had dumped on his plate. "What makes itworth all that money?" he demanded. "You must have some idea, at leastbe able to guess."
"I haven't the slightest idea."
He directed the scowl at her. "What's it made of?"
"Porcelain or black stone. I don't know. I've never touched it. I'veonly seen it once, for a few minutes. Floyd showed it to me when we'dfirst got hold of it."
Spade mashed the end of his cigarette in his plate and made one draughtof the coffee and brandy in his cup. His scowl had gone away. He wipedhis lips with his napkin, dropped it crumpled on the table, and spokecasually: "You are a liar."
She got up and stood at the end of the table, looking down at him withdark abashed eyes in a pinkening face. "I am a liar," she said. "I havealways been a liar."
"Don't brag about it. It's childish." His voice was good-humored. Hecame out from between table and bench. "Was there any truth at all inthat yarn?"
She hung her head. Dampness glistened on her dark lashes. "Some," shewhispered.
"Not--not very much."
Spade put a hand under her chin and lifted her head. He laughed into herwet eyes and said: "We've got all night before us. I'll put some morebrandy in some more coffee and we'll try again."
Her eyelids drooped. "Oh, I'm so tired," she said tremulously, "so tiredof it all, of myself, of lying and thinking up lies, and of not knowingwhat is a lie and what is the truth. I wish I--"
She put her hands up to Spade's cheeks, put her open mouth hard againsthis mouth, her body flat against his body.
Spade's arms went around her, holding her to him, muscles bulging hisblue sleeves, a hand cradling her head, its fingers half lost among redhair, a hand moving groping fingers over her slim back. His eyes burnedyellowly.
10. The Belvedere Divan
Beginning day had reduced night to a thin smokiness when Spade sat up.At his side Brigid O'Shaughnessy's soft breathing had the regularity ofutter sleep. Spade was quiet leaving bed and bedroom and shutting thebedroom-door. He dressed in the bathroom. Then he examined the sleepinggirl's clothes, took a flat brass key from the pocket of her coat, andwent out.
He went to the Coronet, letting himself into the building and into herapartment with the key. To the eye there was nothing furtive about hisgoing in: he entered boldly and directly. To the ear his going in wasalmost unnoticeable: he made as little sound as might be.
In the girl's apartment he switched on all the lights. He searched theplace from wall to wall. His eyes and thick fingers moved withoutapparent haste, and without ever lingering or fumbling or going back,from one inch of their fields to the next, probing, scrutinizing,testing with expert certainty. Every drawer, cupboard, cubbyhole, box,bag, trunk--locked or unlocked--was opened and its contents subjected toexamination by eyes and fingers. Every piece of clothing was tested byhands that felt for telltale bulges and ears that listened for thecrinkle of paper between pressing fingers. He stripped the bed ofbedclothes. He looked under rugs and at the under side of each piece offurniture. He pulled down blinds to see that nothing had been rolled upin them for concealment. He leaned through windows to see that nothinghung below them on the outside. He poked with a fork into powder andcream-jars on the dressing-table. He held atomizers and bottles upagainst the light. He examined dishes and pans and food andfood-containers. He emptied the garbage-can on spread sheets ofnewspaper. He opened the top of the flush-box in the bathroom, drainedthe box, and peered down into it. He examined and tested the metalscreens over the drains of bathtub, wash-bowl, sink, and laundry-tub.
He did not find the black bird. He found nothing that seemed to have anyconnection with a black bird. The only piece of writing he found was aweek-old receipt for the month's apartment-rent Brigid O'Shaughnessy hadpaid. The only thing he found that interested him enough to delay hissearch while he looked at it was a double-handful of rather fine jewelryin a polychrome box in a locked dressing-table-drawer.
When he had finished he made and drank a cup of coffee. Then he unlockedthe kitchen-window, scarred the edge of its lock a little with hispocket-knife, opened the window--over a fire-escape--got his hat andovercoat from the settee in the living-room, and left the apartment ashe had come.
On his way home he stopped at a store that was being opened by apuffy-eyed shivering plump grocer and bought oranges, eggs, rolls,butter, and cream.
Spade went quietly into his apartment, but before he had shut thecorridor-door behind him Brigid O'Shaughnessy cried: "Who is that?"
"Young Spade bearing breakfast."
"Oh, you frightened me!"
The bedroom-door he had shut was open. The girl sat on the side of thebed, trembling, with her right hand out of sight under a pillow.
Spade put his packages on the kitchen-table and went into the bedroom.He sat on the bed beside the girl, kissed her smooth shoulder, and said:"I wanted to see if that kid was still on the job, and to get stuff forbreakfast."
She sighed and leaned against him. "I awakened and you weren't here andthen I heard someone coming in. I was terrified."
Spade combed her red hair back from her face with his fingers and said:"I'm sorry, angel. I thought you'd sleep through it. Did you have thatgun under your pillow all night?"
"No. You know I didn't. I jumped up and got it when I was frightened."
He cooked breakfast--and slipped the flat brass key into her coat-pocketagain--while she bathed and dressed.
She came out of the bathroom whistling En Cuba. "Shall I make thebed?" she asked.
"That'd be swell. The eggs need a couple of minutes more."
Their breakfast was on the table when she returned to the kitchen. Theysat where they had sat the night before and ate heartily.
"Now about the bird?" Spade suggested presently as they ate.
She put her fork down and looked at him. She drew her eyebrows togetherand made her mouth small and tight. "You can't ask me to talk about thatthis morning of all mornings," she protested. "I don't want to and Iwon't."
"It's a stubborn damned hussy," he said sadly and put a piece of rollinto his mouth.
* * * * *
The youth who had shadowed Spade was not in sight when Spade and BrigidO'Shaughnessy crossed the sidewalk to the waiting taxicab. The taxicabwas not followed. Neither the youth nor another loiterer was visible inthe vicinity of the Coronet when the taxicab arrived there.
Brigid O'Shaughnessy would not let Spade go in with her. "It's badenough to be coming home in evening dress at this hour without bringingcompany. I hope I don't meet anybody."
They kissed. She went into the Coronet. He told the chauffeur: "HotelBelvedere."
When he reached the Belvedere he saw the youth who had shadowed himsitting in the lobby on a divan from which the elevators could be seen.Apparently the youth was reading a newspaper.
At the desk Spade learned that Cairo was not in. He frowned and pinchedhis lower lip. Points of yellow light began to dance in his eyes."Thanks," he said softly to the clerk and turned away.
Sauntering, he crossed the lobby to the divan from which the elevatorscould be seen and sat down beside--not more than a foot from--the youngman who was apparently reading a newspaper.
The young man did not look up from his newspaper. Seen at this scantdistance, he seemed certainly less than twenty years old. His featureswere small, in keeping with his stature, and regular. His skin was veryfair. The whiteness of his cheeks was as little blurred by anyconsiderable growth of beard as by the glow of blood. His clothing wasneither new nor of more than ordinary quality, but it, and his manner ofwearing it, was marked by a hard masculine neatness.
Spade asked casually, "Where is he?" while shaking tobacco down into abrown paper curved to catch it.
The boy lowered his paper and looked around, moving with a purposefulsort of slowness, as of a more natural swiftness restrained. He lookedwith small hazel eyes under somewhat long curling lashes at Spade'schest. He said, in a voice as colorless and composed and cold as hisyoung face: "What?"
"Where is he?" Spade was busy with his cigarette.
The hazel eyes' gaze went up Spade's chest to the knot of his maroon tieand rested there. "What do you think you're doing, Jack?" the boydemanded. "Kidding me?"
"I'll tell you when I am." Spade licked his cigarette and smiled amiablyat the boy. "New York, aren't you?"
The boy stared at Spade's tie and did not speak. Spade nodded as if theboy had said yes and asked: "Baumes rush?"
The boy stared at Spade's tie for a moment longer, then raised hisnewspaper and returned his attention to it. "Shove off," he said fromthe side of his mouth.
Spade lighted his cigarette, leaned back comfortably on the divan, andspoke with good-natured carelessness: "You'll have to talk to me beforeyou're through, sonny--some of you will--and you can tell G. I said so."
The boy put his paper down quickly and faced Spade, staring at hisnecktie with bleak hazel eyes. The boy's small hands were spread flatover his belly. "Keep asking for it and you're going to get it," hesaid, "plenty." His voice was low and flat and menacing. "I told you toshove off. Shove off."
Spade waited until a bespectacled pudgy man and a thin-legged blondegirl had passed out of hearing. Then he chuckled and said: "That wouldgo over big back on Seventh Avenue. But you're not in Romeville now.You're in my burg." He inhaled cigarette-smoke and blew it out in a longpale cloud. "Well, where is he?"
The boy spoke two words, the first a short guttural verb, the second"you."
"People lose teeth talking like that." Spade's voice was still amiablethough his face had become wooden. "If you want to hang around you'll bepolite."
The boy repeated his two words.
Spade dropped his cigarette into a tall stone jar beside the divan andwith a lifted hand caught the attention of a man who had been standingat an end of the cigar-stand for several minutes. The man nodded andcame towards them. He was a middle-aged man of medium height, round andsallow of face, compactly built, tidily dressed in dark clothes.
"Hello, Sam," he said as he came up.
They shook hands and Luke said: "Say, that's too bad about Miles."
"Uh-huh, a bad break." Spade jerked his head to indicate the boy on thedivan beside him. "What do you let these cheap gunmen hang out in yourlobby for, with their tools bulging their clothes?"
"Yes?" Luke examined the boy with crafty brown eyes set in a suddenlyhard face. "What do you want here?" he asked.
The boy stood up. Spade stood up. The boy looked at the two men, attheir neckties, from one to the other. Luke's necktie was black. The boylooked like a schoolboy standing in front of them.
Luke said: "Well, if you don't want anything, beat it, and don't comeback."
The boy said, "I won't forget you guys," and went out.
They watched him go out. Spade took off his hat and wiped his dampforehead with a handkerchief.
The hotel-detective asked: "What is it?"
"Damned if I know," Spade replied. "I just happened to spot him. Knowanything about Joel Cairo--six-thirty-five?"
"Oh, that one!" The hotel-detective leered.
"How long's he been here?"
"Four days. This is the fifth."
"What about him?"
"Search me, Sam. I got nothing against him but his looks."
"Find out if he came in last night?"
"Try to," the hotel-detective promised and went away. Spade sat on thedivan until he returned. "No," Luke reported, "he didn't sleep in hisroom. What is it?"
"Come clean. You know I'll keep my clam shut, but if there's anythingwrong we ought to know about it so's we can collect our bill."
"Nothing like that," Spade assured him. "As a matter of fact, I'm doinga little work for him. I'd tell you if he was wrong."
"You'd better. Want me to kind of keep an eye on him?"
"Thanks, Luke. It wouldn't hurt. You can't know too much about the menyou're working for these days."
* * * * *
It was twenty-one minutes past eleven by the clock over theelevator-doors when Joel Cairo came in from the street. His forehead wasbandaged. His clothes had the limp unfreshness of too many hours'consecutive wear. His face was pasty, with sagging mouth and eyelids.
Spade met him in front of the desk. "Good morning," Spade said easily.
Cairo drew his tired body up straight and the drooping lines of his facetightened. "Good morning," he responded without enthusiasm.
There was a pause.
Spade said: "Let's go some place where we can talk."
Cairo raised his chin. "Please excuse me," he said. "Our conversationsin private have not been such that I am anxious to continue them. Pardonmy speaking bluntly, but it is the truth."
"You mean last night?" Spade made an impatient gesture with head andhands. "What in hell else could I do? I thought you'd see that. If youpick a fight with her, or let her pick one with you, I've got to throwin with her. I don't know where that damned bird is. You don't. Shedoes. How in hell are we going to get it if I don't play along withher?"
Cairo hesitated, said dubiously: "You have always, I must say, a smoothexplanation ready."
Spade scowled. "What do you want me to do? Learn to stutter? Well, wecan talk over here." He led the way to the divan. When they were seatedhe asked: "Dundy take you down to the Hall?"
"How long did they work on you?"
"Until a very little while ago, and very much against my will." Pain andindignation were mixed in Cairo's face and voice. "I shall certainlytake the matter up with the Consulate General of Greece and with anattorney."
"Go ahead, and see what it gets you. What did you let the police shakeout of you?"
There was prim satisfaction in Cairo's smile. "Not a single thing. Iadhered to the course you indicated earlier in your rooms." His smilewent away. "Though I certainly wished you had devised a more reasonablestory. I felt decidedly ridiculous repeating it."
Spade grinned mockingly. "Sure," he said, "but its goofiness is whatmakes it good. You sure you didn't give them anything?"
"You may rely upon it, Mr. Spade, I did not."
Spade drummed with his fingers on the leather seat between them. "You'llbe hearing from Dundy again. Stay dummied-up on him and you'll be allright. Don't worry about the story's goofiness. A sensible one would'vehad us all in the cooler." He rose to his feet. "You'll want sleep ifyou've been standing up under a police-storm all night. See you later."
* * * * *
Effie Perine was saying, "No, not yet," into the telephone when Spadeentered his outer office. She looked around at him and her lips shaped asilent word: "Iva." He shook his head. "Yes, I'll have him call you assoon as he comes in," she said aloud and replaced the receiver on itsprong. "That's the third time she's called up this morning," she toldSpade.
He made an impatient growling noise.
The girl moved her brown eyes to indicate the inner office. "Your MissO'Shaughnessy's in there. She's been waiting since a few minutes afternine."
Spade nodded as if he had expected that and asked: "What else?"
"Sergeant Polhaus called up. He didn't leave any message."
"Get him for me."
"And G. called up."
Spade's eyes brightened. He asked: "Who?"
"G. That's what he said." Her air of personal indifference to thesubject was flawless. "When I told him you weren't in he said: 'When hecomes in, will you please tell him that G., who got his message, phonedand will phone again?'."
Spade worked his lips together as if tasting something he liked."Thanks, darling," he said. "See if you can get Tom Polhaus." He openedthe inner door and went into his private office, pulling the door tobehind him.
Brigid O'Shaughnessy, dressed as on her first visit to the office, rosefrom a chair beside his desk and came quickly towards him. "Somebody hasbeen in my apartment," she explained. "It is all upside-down, everywhich way."
He seemed moderately surprised. "Anything taken?"
"I don't think so. I don't know. I was afraid to stay. I changed as fastas I could and came down here. Oh, you must've let that boy follow youthere!"
Spade shook his head. "No, angel." He took an early copy of an afternoonpaper from his pocket, opened it, and showed her a quarter-column headedSCREAM ROUTS BURGLAR.
A young woman named Caroline Beale, who lived alone in a Sutter Streetapartment, had been awakened at four that morning by the sound ofsomebody moving in her bedroom. She had screamed. The mover had runaway. Two other women who lived alone in the same building haddiscovered, later in the morning, signs of the burglar's having visitedtheir apartments. Nothing had been taken from any of the three.
"That's where I shook him," Spade explained. "I went into that buildingand ducked out the back door. That's why all three were women who livedalone. He tried the apartments that had women's names in thevestibule-register, hunting for you under an alias."
"But he was watching your place when we were there," she objected.
Spade shrugged. "There's no reason to think he's working alone. Or maybehe went to Sutter Street after he had begun to think you were going tostay all night in my place. There are a lot of maybes, but I didn't leadhim to the Coronet."
She was not satisfied. "But he found it, or somebody did."
"Sure." He frowned at her feet. "I wonder if it could have been Cairo.He wasn't at his hotel all night, didn't get in till a few minutes ago.He told me he had been standing up under a police-grilling all night. Iwonder." He turned, opened the door, and asked Effie Perine: "Got Tomyet?"
"He's not in. I'll try again in a few minutes."
"Thanks." Spade shut the door and faced Brigid O'Shaughnessy.
She looked at him with cloudy eyes. "You went to see Joe this morning?"she asked.
She hesitated. "Why?"
"Why?" He smiled down at her. "Because, my own true love, I've got tokeep in some sort of touch with all the loose ends of this dizzy affairif I'm ever going to make heads or tails of it." He put an arm aroundher shoulders and led her over to his swivel-chair. He kissed the tip ofher nose lightly and set her down in the chair. He sat on the desk infront of her. He said: "Now we've got to find a new home for you,haven't we?"
She nodded with emphasis. "I won't go back there."
He patted the desk beside his thighs and made a thoughtful face. "Ithink I've got it," he said presently. "Wait a minute." He went into theouter office, shutting the door.
Effie Perine reached for the telephone, saying: "I'll try again."
"Afterwards. Does your woman's intuition still tell you that she's amadonna or something?"
She looked sharply up at him. "I still believe that no matter what kindof trouble she's gotten into she's all right, if that's what you mean."
"That's what I mean," he said. "Are you strong enough for her to giveher a lift?"
"Could you put her up for a few days?"
"You mean at home?"
"Yes. Her joint's been broken into. That's the second burglary she's hadthis week. It'd be better for her if she wasn't alone. It would help alot if you could take her in."
Effie Perine leaned forward, asking earnestly: "Is she really in danger,Sam?"
"I think she is."
She scratched her lip with a fingernail. "That would scare Ma into agreen hemorrhage. I'll have to tell her she's a surprise-witness orsomething that you're keeping under cover till the last minute."
"You're a darling," Spade said. "Better take her out there now. I'll gether key from her and bring whatever she needs over from her apartment.Let's see. You oughtn't to be seen leaving here together. You go homenow. Take a taxi, but make sure you aren't followed. You probably won'tbe, but make sure. I'll send her out in another in a little while,making sure she isn't followed."
11. The Fat Man
The telephone-bell was ringing when Spade returned to his office aftersending Brigid O'Shaughnessy off to Effie Perine's house. He went to thetelephone.
"Hello.... Yes, this is Spade.... Yes, I got it. I've been waitingto hear from you.... Who?... Mr. Gutman? Oh, yes, sure!...Now--the sooner the better.... Twelve C.... Right. Say fifteenminutes.... Right."
Spade sat on the corner of his desk beside the telephone and rolled acigarette. His mouth was a hard complacent v. His eyes, watching hisfingers make the cigarette, smoldered over lower lids drawn up straight.
The door opened and Iva Archer came in.
Spade said, "Hello, honey," in a voice as lightly amiable as his facehad suddenly become.
"Oh, Sam, forgive me! forgive me!" she cried in a choked voice. Shestood just inside the door, wadding a black-bordered handkerchief in hersmall gloved hands, peering into his face with frightened red andswollen eyes.
He did not get up from his seat on the desk-corner. He said: "Sure.That's all right. Forget it."
"But, Sam," she wailed, "I sent those policemen there. I was mad, crazywith jealousy, and I phoned them that if they'd go there they'd learnsomething about Miles's murder."
"What made you think that?"
"Oh, I didn't! But I was mad, Sam, and I wanted to hurt you."
"It made things damned awkward." He put his arm around her and drew hernearer. "But it's all right now, only don't get any more crazy notionslike that."
"I won't," she promised, "ever. But you weren't nice to me last night.You were cold and distant and wanted to get rid of me, when I had comedown there and waited so long to warn you, and you--"
"Warn me about what?"
"About Phil. He's found out about--about you being in love with me, andMiles had told him about my wanting a divorce, though of course henever knew what for, and now Phil thinks we--you killed his brotherbecause he wouldn't give me the divorce so we could get married. He toldme he believed that, and yesterday he went and told the police."
"That's nice," Spade said softly. "And you came to warn me, and becauseI was busy you got up on your ear and helped this damned Phil Archerstir things up."
"I'm sorry," she whimpered, "I know you won't forgive me. I--I'm sorry,sorry, sorry."
"You ought to be," he agreed, "on your own account as well as mine. HasDundy been to see you since Phil did his talking? Or anybody from thebureau?"
"No." Alarm opened her eyes and mouth.
"They will," he said, "and it'd be just as well to not let them find youhere. Did you tell them who you were when you phoned?"
"Oh, no! I simply told them that if they'd go to your apartment rightaway they'd learn something about the murder and hung up."
"Where'd you phone from?"
"The drug-store up above your place. Oh, Sam, dearest, I--"
He patted her shoulder and said pleasantly: "It was a dumb trick, allright, but it's done now. You'd better run along home and think upthings to tell the police. You'll be hearing from them. Maybe it'd bebest to say 'no' right across the board." He frowned at somethingdistant. "Or maybe you'd better see Sid Wise first." He removed his armfrom around her, took a card out of his pocket, scribbled three lines onits back, and gave it to her. "You can tell Sid everything." He frowned."Or almost everything. Where were you the night Miles was shot?"
"Home," she replied without hesitating.
He shook his head, grinning at her.
"I was," she insisted.
"No," he said, "but if that's your story it's all right with me. Go seeSid. It's up on the next corner, the pinkish building, roomeight-twenty-seven."
Her blue eyes tried to probe his yellow-grey ones. "What makes you thinkI wasn't home?" she asked slowly.
"Nothing except that I know you weren't."
"But I was, I was." Her lips twisted and anger darkened her eyes. "EffiePerine told you that," she said indignantly. "I saw her looking at myclothes and snooping around. You know she doesn't like me, Sam. Why doyou believe things she tells you when you know she'd do anything to maketrouble for me?"
"Jesus, you women," Spade said mildly. He looked at the watch on hiswrist. "You'll have to trot along, precious. I'm late for an appointmentnow. You do what you want, but if I were you I'd tell Sid the truth ornothing. I mean leave out the parts you don't want to tell him, butdon't make up anything to take its place."
"I'm not lying to you, Sam," she protested.
"Like hell you're not," he said and stood up.
She strained on tiptoe to hold her face nearer his. "You don't believeme?" she whispered.
"I don't believe you."
"And you won't forgive me for--for what I did?"
"Sure I do." He bent his head and kissed her mouth. "That's all right.Now run along."
She put her arms around him. "Won't you go with me to see Mr. Wise?"
"I can't, and I'd only be in the way." He patted her arms, took themfrom around his body, and kissed her left wrist between glove andsleeve. He put his hands on her shoulders, turned her to face the door,and released her with a little push. "Beat it," he ordered.
* * * * *
The mahogany door of suite 12-C at the Alexandria Hotel was opened bythe boy Spade had talked to in the Belvedere lobby. Spade said, "Hello,"good-naturedly. The boy did not say anything. He stood aside holding thedoor open.
Spade went in. A fat man came to meet him.
The fat man was flabbily fat with bulbous pink cheeks and lips and chinsand neck, with a great soft egg of a belly that was all his torso, andpendant cones for arms and legs. As he advanced to meet Spade all hisbulbs rose and shook and fell separately with each step, in the mannerof clustered soap-bubbles not yet released from the pipe through whichthey had been blown. His eyes, made small by fat puffs around them, weredark and sleek. Dark ringlets thinly covered his broad scalp. He wore ablack cutaway coat, black vest, black satin Ascot tie holding a pinkishpearl, striped grey worsted trousers, and patent-leather shoes.
His voice was a throaty purr. "Ah, Mr. Spade," he said with enthusiasmand held out a hand like a fat pink star.
Spade took the hand and smiled and said: "How do you do, Mr. Gutman?"
Holding Spade's hand, the fat man turned beside him, put his other handto Spade's elbow, and guided him across a green rug to a green plushchair beside a table that held a siphon, some glasses, and a bottle ofJohnnie Walker whiskey on a tray, a box of cigars--Coronas del Ritz--twonewspapers, and a small and plain yellow soapstone box.
Spade sat in the green chair. The fat man began to fill two glasses frombottle and siphon. The boy had disappeared. Doors set in three of theroom's walls were shut. The fourth wall, behind Spade, was pierced bytwo windows looking out over Geary Street.
"We begin well, sir," the fat man purred, turning with a proffered glassin his hand. "I distrust a man that says when. If he's got to be carefulnot to drink too much it's because he's not to be trusted when he does."
Spade took the glass and, smiling, made the beginning of a bow over it.
The fat man raised his glass and held it against a window's light. Henodded approvingly at the bubbles running up in it. He said: "Well, sir,here's to plain speaking and clear understanding."
They drank and lowered their glasses.
The fat man looked shrewdly at Spade and asked: "You're a close-mouthedman?"
Spade shook his head. "I like to talk."
"Better and better!" the fat man exclaimed. "I distrust a close-mouthedman. He generally picks the wrong time to talk and says the wrongthings. Talking's something you can't do judiciously unless you keep inpractice." He beamed over his glass. "We'll get along, sir, that wewill." He set his glass on the table and held the box of Coronas delRitz out to Spade. "A cigar, sir."
Spade took a cigar, trimmed the end of it, and lighted it. Meanwhile thefat man pulled another green plush chair around to face Spade's withinconvenient distance and placed a smoking-stand within reach of bothchairs. Then he took his glass from the table, took a cigar from thebox, and lowered himself into his chair. His bulbs stopped jouncing andsettled into flabby rest. He sighed comfortably and said: "Now, sir,we'll talk if you like. And I'll tell you right out that I'm a man wholikes talking to a man that likes to talk."
"Swell. Will we talk about the black bird?"
The fat man laughed and his bulbs rode up and down on his laughter."Will we?" he asked and, "We will," he replied. His pink face was shinywith delight. "You're the man for me, sir, a man cut along my own lines.No beating about the bush, but right to the point. 'Will we talk aboutthe black bird?' We will. I like that, sir. I like that way of doingbusiness. Let us talk about the black bird by all means, but first, sir,answer me a question, please, though maybe it's an unnecessary one, sowe'll understand each other from the beginning. You're here as MissO'Shaughnessy's representative?"
Spade blew smoke above the fat man's head in a long slanting plume. Hefrowned thoughtfully at the ash-tipped end of his cigar. He replieddeliberately: "I can't say yes or no. There's nothing certain about iteither way, yet." He looked up at the fat man and stopped frowning. "Itdepends."
"It depends on--?"
Spade shook his head. "If I knew what it depends on I could say yes orno."
The fat man took a mouthful from his glass, swallowed it, and suggested:"Maybe it depends on Joel Cairo?"
Spade's prompt "Maybe" was noncommittal. He drank.
The fat man leaned forward until his belly stopped him. His smile wasingratiating and so was his purring voice. "You could say, then, thatthe question is which one of them you'll represent?"
"You could put it that way."
"It will be one or the other?"
"I didn't say that."
The fat man's eyes glistened. His voice sank to a throaty whisperasking: "Who else is there?"
Spade pointed his cigar at his own chest. "There's me," he said.
The fat man sank back in his chair and let his body go flaccid. He blewhis breath out in a long contented gust. "That's wonderful, sir," hepurred. "That's wonderful. I do like a man that tells you right out he'slooking out for himself. Don't we all? I don't trust a man that sayshe's not. And the man that's telling the truth when he says he's not Idistrust most of all, because he's an ass and an ass that's goingcontrary to the laws of nature."
Spade exhaled smoke. His face was politely attentive. He said: "Uh-huh.Now let's talk about the black bird."
The fat man smiled benevolently. "Let's," he said. He squinted so thatfat puffs crowding together left nothing of his eyes but a dark gleamvisible. "Mr. Spade, have you any conception of how much money can bemade out of that black bird?"
The fat man leaned forward again and put a bloated pink hand on the armof Spade's chair. "Well, sir, if I told you--by Gad, if I told youhalf!--you'd call me a liar."
Spade smiled. "No," he said, "not even if I thought it. But if you won'ttake the risk just tell me what it is and I'll figure out the profits."
The fat man laughed. "You couldn't do it, sir. Nobody could do it thathadn't had a world of experience with things of that sort, and"--hepaused impressively--"there aren't any other things of that sort." Hisbulbs jostled one another as he laughed again. He stopped laughing,abruptly. His fleshy lips hung open as laughter had left them. He staredat Spade with an intentness that suggested myopia. He asked: "You meanyou don't know what it is?" Amazement took the throatiness out of hisvoice.
Spade made a careless gesture with his cigar. "Oh, hell," he saidlightly, "I know what it's supposed to look like. I know the value inlife you people put on it. I don't know what it is."
"She didn't tell you?"
"Yes. A lovely girl, sir."
The fat man's eyes were dark gleams in ambush behind pink puffs offlesh. He said indistinctly, "She must know," and then, "And Cairodidn't either?"
"Cairo is cagey. He's willing to buy it, but he won't risk telling meanything I don't know already."
The fat man moistened his lips with his tongue. "How much is he willingto buy it for?" he asked.
"Ten thousand dollars."
The fat man laughed scornfully. "Ten thousand, and dollars, mind you,not even pounds. That's the Greek for you. Humph! And what did you sayto that?"
"I said if I turned it over to him I'd expect the ten thousand."
"Ah, yes, if! Nicely put, sir." The fat man's forehead squirmed in aflesh-blurred frown. "They must know," he said only partly aloud, then:"Do they? Do they know what the bird is, sir? What was your impression?"
"I can't help you there," Spade confessed. "There's not much to go by.Cairo didn't say he did and he didn't say he didn't. She said shedidn't, but I took it for granted that she was lying."
"That was not an injudicious thing to do," the fat man said, but hismind was obviously not on his words. He scratched his head. He frowneduntil his forehead was marked by raw red creases. He fidgeted in hischair as much as his size and the size of the chair permitted fidgeting.He shut his eyes, opened them suddenly--wide--and said to Spade: "Maybethey don't." His bulbous pink face slowly lost its worried frown andthen, more quickly, took on an expression of ineffable happiness. "Ifthey don't," he cried, and again: "If they don't I'm the only one in thewhole wide sweet world who does!"
Spade drew his lips back in a tight smile. "I'm glad I came to the rightplace," he said.
The fat man smiled too, but somewhat vaguely. Happiness had gone out ofhis face, though he continued to smile, and caution had come into hiseyes. His face was a watchful-eyed smiling mask held up between histhoughts and Spade. His eyes, avoiding Spade's, shifted to the glass atSpade's elbow. His face brightened. "By Gad, sir," he said, "your glassis empty." He got up and went to the table and clattered glasses andsiphon and bottle mixing two drinks.
Spade was immobile in his chair until the fat man, with a flourish and abow and a jocular "Ah, sir, this kind of medicine will never hurt you!"had handed him his refilled glass. Then Spade rose and stood close tothe fat man, looking down at him, and Spade's eyes were hard and bright.He raised his glass. His voice was deliberate, challenging: "Here's toplain speaking and clear understanding."
The fat man chuckled and they drank. The fat man sat down. He held hisglass against his belly with both hands and smiled up at Spade. He said:"Well, sir, it's surprising, but it well may be a fact that neither ofthem does know exactly what that bird is, and that nobody in all thiswhole wide sweet world knows what it is, saving and excepting only yourhumble servant, Casper Gutman, Esquire."
"Swell." Spade stood with legs apart, one hand in his trousers-pocket,the other holding his glass. "When you've told me there'll only be twoof us who know."
"Mathematically correct, sir"--the fat man's eyes twinkled--"but"--hissmile spread--"I don't know for certain that I'm going to tell you."
"Don't be a damned fool," Spade said patiently. "You know what it is. Iknow where it is. That's why we're here."
"Well, sir, where is it?"
Spade ignored the question.
The fat man bunched his lips, raised his eyebrows, and cocked his head alittle to the left. "You see," he said blandly, "I must tell you what Iknow, but you will not tell me what you know. That is hardly equitable,sir. No, no, I do not think we can do business along those lines."
Spade's face became pale and hard. He spoke rapidly in a low furiousvoice: "Think again and think fast. I told that punk of yours that you'dhave to talk to me before you got through. I'll tell you now that you'lldo your talking today or you are through. What are you wasting my timefor? You and your lousy secret! Christ! I know exactly what that stuffis that they keep in the sub-treasury vaults, but what good does that dome? I can get along without you. God damn you! Maybe you could have gotalong without me if you'd kept clear of me. You can't now. Not in SanFrancisco. You'll come in or you'll get out--and you'll do it today."
He turned and with angry heedlessness tossed his glass at the table. Theglass struck the wood, burst apart, and splashed its contents andglittering fragments over table and floor. Spade, deaf and blind to thecrash, wheeled to confront the fat man again.
The fat man paid no more attention to the glass's fate than Spade did:lips pursed, eyebrows raised, head cocked a little to the left, he hadmaintained his pink-faced blandness throughout Spade's angry speech, andhe maintained it now.
Spade, still furious, said: "And another thing, I don't want--"
The door to Spade's left opened. The boy who had admitted Spade came in.He shut the door, stood in front of it with his hands flat against hisflanks, and looked at Spade. The boy's eyes were wide open and dark withwide pupils. Their gaze ran over Spade's body from shoulders to knees,and up again to settle on the handkerchief whose maroon border peepedfrom the breast-pocket of Spade's brown coat.
"Another thing," Spade repeated, glaring at the boy: "Keep that gunselaway from me while you're making up your mind. I'll kill him. I don'tlike him. He makes me nervous. I'll kill him the first time he gets inmy way. I won't give him an even break. I won't give him a chance. I'llkill him."
The boy's lips twitched in a shadowy smile. He neither raised his eyesnor spoke.
The fat man said tolerantly: "Well, sir, I must say you have a mostviolent temper."
"Temper?" Spade laughed crazily. He crossed to the chair on which he haddropped his hat, picked up the hat, and set it on his head. He held outa long arm that ended in a thick forefinger pointing at the fat man'sbelly. His angry voice filled the room. "Think it over and think likehell. You've got till five-thirty to do it in. Then you're either in orout, for keeps." He let his arm drop, scowled at the bland fat man for amoment, scowled at the boy, and went to the door through which he hadentered. When he opened the door he turned and said harshly:"Five-thirty--then the curtain."
The boy, staring at Spade's chest, repeated the two words he had twicespoken in the Belvedere lobby. His voice was not loud. It was bitter.
Spade went out and slammed the door.
Spade rode down from Gutman's floor in an elevator. His lips were dryand rough in a face otherwise pale and damp. When he took out hishandkerchief to wipe his face he saw his hand trembling. He grinned atit and said, "Whew!" so loudly that the elevator-operator turned hishead over his shoulder and asked: "Sir?"
Spade walked down Geary Street to the Palace Hotel, where he ateluncheon. His face had lost its pallor, his lips their dryness, and hishand its trembling by the time he had sat down. He ate hungrily withouthaste, and then went to Sid Wise's office.
When Spade entered, Wise was biting a fingernail and staring at thewindow. He took his hand from his mouth, screwed his chair around toface Spade, and said: "'Lo. Push a chair up."
Spade moved a chair to the side of the big paper-laden desk and satdown. "Mrs. Archer come in?" he asked.
"Yes." The faintest of lights flickered in Wise's eyes. "Going to marrythe lady, Sammy?"
Spade sighed irritably through his nose. "Christ, now you start that!"he grumbled.
A brief tired smile lifted the corners of the lawyer's mouth. "If youdon't," he said, "you're going to have a job on your hands."
Spade looked up from the cigarette he was making and spoke sourly: "Youmean you are? Well, that's what you're for. What did she tell you?"
"About anything I ought to know."
Wise ran fingers through his hair, sprinkling dandruff down on hisshoulders. "She told me she had tried to get a divorce from Miles so shecould--"
"I know all that," Spade interrupted him. "You can skip it. Get to thepart I don't know."
"How do I know how much she--?"
"Quit stalling, Sid." Spade held the flame of his lighter to the end ofhis cigarette. "What did she tell you that she wanted kept from me?"
Wise looked reprovingly at Spade. "Now, Sammy," he began, "that's not--"
Spade looked heavenward at the ceiling and groaned: "Dear God, he's myown lawyer that's got rich off me and I have to get down on my knees andbeg him to tell me things!" He lowered at Wise. "What in hell do youthink I sent her to you for?"
Wise made a weary grimace. "Just one more client like you," hecomplained, "and I'd be in a sanitarium--or San Quentin."
"You'd be with most of your clients. Did she tell you where she was thenight he was killed?"
Spade sat up straight and blinked. He exclaimed incredulously: "Jesus,these women!" Then he laughed, relaxed, and asked: "Well, what did shesee?"
Wise shook his head. "Nothing much. When he came home for dinner thatevening he told her he had a date with a girl at the St. Mark, raggingher, telling her that was her chance to get the divorce she wanted. Shethought at first he was just trying to get under her skin. He knew--"
"I know the family history," Spade said. "Skip it. Tell me what shedid."
"I will if you'll give me a chance. After he had gone out she began tothink that maybe he might have had that date. You know Miles. It wouldhave been like him to--"
"You can skip Miles's character too."
"I oughtn't to tell you a damned thing," the lawyer said. "So she gottheir car from the garage and drove down to the St. Mark, sitting in thecar across the street. She saw him come out of the hotel and she sawthat he was shadowing a man and a girl--she says she saw the same girlwith you last night--who had come out just ahead of him. She knew thenthat he was working, had been kidding her. I suppose she wasdisappointed, and mad--she sounded that way when she told me about it.She followed Miles long enough to make sure he was shadowing the pair,and then she went up to your apartment. You weren't home."
"What time was that?" Spade asked.
"When she got to your place? Between half-past nine and ten the firsttime."
"The first time?"
"Yes. She drove around for half an hour or so and then tried again. Thatwould make it, say, ten-thirty. You were still out, so she drove backdowntown and went to a movie to kill time until after midnight, when shethought she'd be more likely to find you in."
Spade frowned. "She went to a movie at ten-thirty?"
"So she says--the one on Powell Street that stays open till one in themorning. She didn't want to go home, she said, because she didn't wantto be there when Miles came. That always made him mad, it seems,especially if it was around midnight. She stayed in the movie till itclosed." Wise's words came out slower now and there was a sardonic glintin his eye. "She says she had decided by then not to go back to yourplace again. She says she didn't know whether you'd like having her dropin that late. So she went to Tait's--the one on Ellis Street--hadsomething to eat and then went home--alone." Wise rocked back in hischair and waited for Spade to speak.
Spade's face was expressionless. He asked: "You believe her?"
"Don't you?" Wise replied.
"How do I know? How do I know it isn't something you fixed up betweenyou to tell me?"
Wise smiled. "You don't cash many checks for strangers, do you, Sammy?"
"Not basketfuls. Well, what then? Miles wasn't home. It was at least twoo'clock by then--must've been--and he was dead."
"Miles wasn't home," Wise said. "That seems to have made her madagain--his not being home first to be made mad by her not being home. Soshe took the car out of the garage again and went back to your place."
"And I wasn't home. I was down looking at Miles's corpse. Jesus, what aswell lot of merry-go-round riding. Then what?"
"She went home, and her husband still wasn't there, and while she wasundressing your messenger came with the news of his death."
Spade didn't speak until he had with great care rolled and lightedanother cigarette. Then he said: "I think that's an all right spread. Itseems to click with most of the known facts. It ought to hold."
Wise's fingers, running through his hair again, combed more dandruffdown on his shoulders. He studied Spade's face with curious eyes andasked: "But you don't believe it?"
Spade plucked his cigarette from between his lips. "I don't believe itor disbelieve it, Sid. I don't know a damned thing about it."
A wry smile twisted the lawyer's mouth. He moved his shoulders wearilyand said: "That's right--I'm selling you out. Why don't you get anhonest lawyer--one you can trust?"
"That fellow's dead." Spade stood up. He sneered at Wise. "Gettingtouchy, huh? I haven't got enough to think about: now I've got toremember to be polite to you. What did I do? Forget to genuflect when Icame in?"
Sid Wise smiled sheepishly. "You're a son of a gun, Sammy," he said.
* * * * *
Effie Perine was standing in the center of Spade's outer office when heentered. She looked at him with worried brown eyes and asked: "Whathappened?"
Spade's face grew stiff. "What happened where?" he demanded.
"Why didn't she come?"
Spade took two long steps and caught Effie Perine by the shoulders. "Shedidn't get there?" he bawled into her frightened face.
She shook her head violently from side to side. "I waited and waited andshe didn't come, and I couldn't get you on the phone, so I came down."
Spade jerked his hands away from her shoulders, thrust them far down inhis trousers-pockets, said, "Another merry-go-round," in a loud enragedvoice, and strode into his private office. He came out again. "Phoneyour mother," he commanded. "See if she's come yet."
He walked up and down the office while the girl used the telephone."No," she said when she had finished. "Did--did you send her out in ataxi?"
His grunt probably meant yes.
"Are you sure she--Somebody must have followed her!"
Spade stopped pacing the floor. He put his hands on his hips and glaredat the girl. He addressed her in a loud savage voice: "Nobody followedher. Do you think I'm a God-damned schoolboy? I made sure of it before Iput her in the cab, I rode a dozen blocks with her to be more sure, andI checked her another half-dozen blocks after I got out."
"But she didn't get there. You've told me that. I believe it. Do youthink I think she did get there?"
Effie Perine sniffed. "You certainly act like a God-damned schoolboy,"she said.
Spade made a harsh noise in his throat and went to the corridor-door."I'm going out and find her if I have to dig up sewers," he said. "Stayhere till I'm back or you hear from me. For Christ's sake let's dosomething right."
He went out, walked half the distance to the elevators, and retraced hissteps. Effie Perine was sitting at her desk when he opened the door. Hesaid: "You ought to know better than to pay any attention to me when Italk like that."
"If you think I pay any attention to you you're crazy," she replied,"only"--she crossed her arms and felt her shoulders, and her mouthtwitched uncertainly--"I won't be able to wear an evening gown for twoweeks, you big brute."
He grinned humbly, said, "I'm no damned good, darling," made anexaggerated bow, and went out again.
* * * * *
Two yellow taxicabs were at the corner-stand to which Spade went. Theirchauffeurs were standing together talking. Spade asked: "Where's thered-faced blond driver that was here at noon?"
"Got a load," one of the chauffeurs said.
"Will he be back here?"
"I guess so."
The other chauffeur ducked his head to the east. "Here he comes now."
Spade walked down to the corner and stood by the curb until thered-faced blond chauffeur had parked his cab and got out. Then Spadewent up to him and said: "I got into your cab with a lady at noontime.We went out Stockton Street and up Sacramento to Jones, where I gotout."
"Sure," the red-faced man said, "I remember that."
"I told you to take her to a Ninth-Avenue-number. You didn't take herthere. Where did you take her?"
The chauffeur rubbed his cheek with a grimy hand and looked doubtfullyat Spade. "I don't know about this."
"It's all right," Spade assured him, giving him one of his cards. "Ifyou want to play safe, though, we can ride up to your office and getyour superintendent's O K."
"I guess it's all right. I took her to the Ferry Building."
"Didn't take her anywhere else first?"
"No. It was like this: after we dropped you I went on out Sacramento,and when we got to Polk she rapped on the glass and said she wanted toget a newspaper, so I stopped at the corner and whistled for a kid, andshe got her paper."
"The Call. Then I went on out Sacramento some more, and just afterwe'd crossed Van Ness she knocked on the glass again and said take herto the Ferry Building."
"Was she excited or anything?"
"Not so's I noticed."
"And when you got to the Ferry Building?"
"She paid me off, and that was all."
"Anybody waiting for her there?"
"I didn't see them if they was."
"Which way did she go?"
"At the Ferry? I don't know. Maybe upstairs, or towards the stairs."
"Take the newspaper with her?"
"Yeah, she had it tucked under her arm when she paid me."
"With the pink sheet outside, or one of the white?"
"Hell, Cap, I don't remember that."
Spade thanked the chauffeur, said, "Get yourself a smoke," and gave hima silver dollar.
* * * * *
Spade bought a copy of the Call and carried it into anoffice-building-vestibule to examine it out of the wind.
His eyes ran swiftly over the front-page-headlines and over those on thesecond and third pages. They paused for a moment under SUSPECT ARRESTEDAS COUNTERFEITER on the fourth page, and again on page five under BAYYOUTH SEEKS DEATH WITH BULLET. Pages six and seven held nothing tointerest him. On eight 3 BOYS ARRESTED AS S. F. BURGLARS AFTER SHOOTINGheld his attention for a moment, and after that nothing until he reachedthe thirty-fifth page, which held news of the weather, shipping,produce, finance, divorce, births, marriages, and deaths. He read thelist of dead, passed over pages thirty-six and thirty-seven--financialnews--found nothing to stop his eyes on the thirty-eighth and last page,sighed, folded the newspaper, put it in his coat-pocket, and rolled acigarette.
For five minutes he stood there in the office-building-vestibule smokingand staring sulkily at nothing. Then he walked up to Stockton Street,hailed a taxicab, and had himself driven to the Coronet.
He let himself into the building and into Brigid O'Shaughnessy'sapartment with the key she had given him. The blue gown she had worn theprevious night was hanging across the foot of her bed. Her bluestockings and slippers were on the bedroom floor. The polychrome boxthat had held jewelry in her dressing-table-drawer now stood empty onthe dressing-table-top. Spade frowned at it, ran his tongue across hislips, strolled through the rooms, looking around but not touchinganything, then left the Coronet and went downtown again.
In the doorway of Spade's office-building he came face to face with theboy he had left at Gutman's. The boy put himself in Spade's path,blocking the entrance, and said: "Come on. He wants to see you."
The boy's hands were in his overcoat-pockets. His pockets bulged morethan his hands need have made them bulge.
Spade grinned and said mockingly: "I didn't expect you tillfive-twenty-five. I hope I haven't kept you waiting."
The boy raised his eyes to Spade's mouth and spoke in the strained voiceof one in physical pain: "Keep on riding me and you're going to bepicking iron out of your navel."
Spade chuckled. "The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter," he saidcheerfully. "Well, let's go."
They walked up Sutter Street side by side. The boy kept his hands in hisovercoat-pockets. They walked a little more than a block in silence.Then Spade asked pleasantly: "How long have you been off the goose-berrylay, son?"
The boy did not show that he had heard the question.
"Did you ever--?" Spade began, and stopped. A soft light began to glowin his yellowish eyes. He did not address the boy again.
They went into the Alexandria, rode up to the twelfth floor, and walkeddown the corridor towards Gutman's suite. Nobody else was in thecorridor.
Spade lagged a little, so that, when they were within fifteen feet ofGutman's door, he was perhaps a foot and a half behind the boy. Heleaned sidewise suddenly and grasped the boy from behind by both arms,just beneath the boy's elbows. He forced the boy's arms forward so thatthe boy's hands, in his overcoat-pockets, lifted the overcoat up beforehim. The boy struggled and squirmed, but he was impotent in the bigman's grip. The boy kicked back, but his feet went between Spade'sspread legs.
Spade lifted the boy straight up from the floor and brought him downhard on his feet again. The impact made little noise on the thickcarpet. At the moment of impact Spade's hands slid down and got a freshgrip on the boy's wrists. The boy, teeth set hard together, did not stopstraining against the man's big hands, but he could not tear himselfloose, could not keep the man's hands from crawling down over his ownhands. The boy's teeth ground together audibly, making a noise thatmingled with the noise of Spade's breathing as Spade crushed the boy'shands.
They were tense and motionless for a long moment. Then the boy's armsbecame limp. Spade released the boy and stepped back. In each of Spade'shands, when they came out of the boy's overcoat-pockets, there was aheavy automatic pistol.
The boy turned and faced Spade. The boy's face was a ghastly whiteblank. He kept his hands in his overcoat-pockets. He looked at Spade'schest and did not say anything.
Spade put the pistols in his own pockets and grinned derisively. "Comeon," he said. "This will put you in solid with your boss."
They went to Gutman's door and Spade knocked.
13. The Emperor's Gift
Gutman opened the door. A glad smile lighted his fat face. He held out ahand and said: "Ah, come in, sir! Thank you for coming. Come in."
Spade shook the hand and entered. The boy went in behind him. The fatman shut the door. Spade took the boy's pistols from his pockets andheld them out to Gutman. "Here. You shouldn't let him run around withthese. He'll get himself hurt."
The fat man laughed merrily and took the pistols. "Well, well," he said,"what's this?" He looked from Spade to the boy.
Spade said: "A crippled newsie took them away from him, but I made himgive them back."
The white-faced boy took the pistols out of Gutman's hands and pocketedthem. The boy did not speak.
Gutman laughed again. "By Gad, sir," he told Spade, "you're a chap worthknowing, an amazing character. Come in. Sit down. Give me your hat."
The boy left the room by the door to the right of the entrance.
The fat man installed Spade in a green plush chair by the table, presseda cigar upon him, held a light to it, mixed whiskey and carbonatedwater, put one glass in Spade's hand, and, holding the other, sat downfacing Spade.
"Now, sir," he said, "I hope you'll let me apologize for--"
"Never mind that," Spade said. "Let's talk about the black bird."
The fat man cocked his head to the left and regarded Spade with fondeyes. "All right, sir," he agreed. "Let's." He took a sip from the glassin his hand. "This is going to be the most astounding thing you've everheard of, sir, and I say that knowing that a man of your caliber in yourprofession must have known some astounding things in his time."
Spade nodded politely.
The fat man screwed up his eyes and asked: "What do you know, sir, aboutthe Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, later called theKnights of Rhodes and other things?"
Spade waved his cigar. "Not much--only what I remember from history inschool--Crusaders or something."
"Very good. Now you don't remember that Suleiman the Magnificent chasedthem out of Rhodes in 1523?"
"Well, sir, he did, and they settled in Crete. And they stayed there forseven years, until 1530 when they persuaded the Emperor Charles V togive them"--Gutman held up three puffy fingers and counted them--"Malta,Gozo, and Tripoli."
"Yes, sir, but with these conditions: they were to pay the Emperor eachyear the tribute of one"--he held up a finger--"falcon in acknowledgmentthat Malta was still under Spain, and if they ever left the island itwas to revert to Spain. Understand? He was giving it to them, but notunless they used it, and they couldn't give or sell it to anybody else."
The fat man looked over his shoulders at the three closed doors, hunchedhis chair a few inches nearer Spade's, and reduced his voice to a huskywhisper: "Have you any conception of the extreme, the immeasurable,wealth of the Order at that time?"
"If I remember," Spade said, "they were pretty well fixed."
Gutman smiled indulgently. "Pretty well, sir, is putting it mildly." Hiswhisper became lower and more purring. "They were rolling in wealth,sir. You've no idea. None of us has any idea. For years they had preyedon the Saracens, had taken nobody knows what spoils of gems, preciousmetals, silks, ivories--the cream of the cream of the East. That ishistory, sir. We all know that the Holy Wars to them, as to theTemplars, were largely a matter of loot.
"Well, now, the Emperor Charles has given them Malta, and all the renthe asks is one insignificant bird per annum, just as a matter of form.What could be more natural than for these immeasurably wealthy Knightsto look around for some way of expressing their gratitude? Well, sir,that's exactly what they did, and they hit on the happy thought ofsending Charles for the first year's tribute, not an insignificant livebird, but a glorious golden falcon encrusted from head to foot with thefinest jewels in their coffers. And--remember, sir--they had fine ones,the finest out of Asia." Gutman stopped whispering. His sleek dark eyesexamined Spade's face, which was placid. The fat man asked: "Well, sir,what do you think of that?"
"I don't know."
The fat man smiled complacently. "These are facts, historical facts, notschoolbook history, not Mr. Wells's history, but history nevertheless."He leaned forward. "The archives of the Order from the twelfth centuryon are still at Malta. They are not intact, but what is there holds noless than three"--he held up three fingers--"references that can't be toanything else but this jeweled falcon. In J. Delaville Le Roulx's LesArchives de l'Ordre de Saint-Jean there is a reference to it--obliqueto be sure, but a reference still. And the unpublished--becauseunfinished at the time of his death--supplement to Paoli's Dell'origine ed instituto del sacro militar ordine has a clear andunmistakable statement of the facts I am telling you."
"All right," Spade said.
"All right, sir. Grand Master Villiers de l'Isle d'Adam had thisfoot-high jeweled bird made by Turkish slaves in the castle of St.Angelo and sent it to Charles, who was in Spain. He sent it in a galleycommanded by a French knight named Cormier or Corvere, a member of theOrder." His voice dropped to a whisper again. "It never reached Spain."He smiled with compressed lips and asked: "You know of Barbarossa,Redbeard, Khair-ed-Din? No? A famous admiral of buccaneers sailing outof Algiers then. Well, sir, he took the Knights' galley and he took thebird. The bird went to Algiers. That's a fact. That's a fact that theFrench historian Pierre Dan put in one of his letters from Algiers. Hewrote that the bird had been there for more than a hundred years, untilit was carried away by Sir Francis Verney, the English adventurer whowas with the Algerian buccaneers for a while. Maybe it wasn't, butPierre Dan believed it was, and that's good enough for me.
"There's nothing said about the bird in Lady Francis Verney's Memoirsof the Verney Family during the Seventeenth Century, to be sure. Ilooked. And it's pretty certain that Sir Francis didn't have the birdwhen he died in a Messina hospital in 1615. He was stony broke. But,sir, there's no denying that the bird did go to Sicily. It was thereand it came into the possession there of Victor Amadeus II some timeafter he became king in 1713, and it was one of his gifts to his wifewhen he married in Chambéry after abdicating. That is a fact, sir.Carutti, the author of Storia del Regno di Vittorio Amadeo II, himselfvouched for it.
"Maybe they--Amadeo and his wife--took it along with them to Turin whenhe tried to revoke his abdication. Be that as it may, it turned up nextin the possession of a Spaniard who had been with the army that tookNaples in 1734--the father of Don José Monino y Redondo, Count ofFloridablanca, who was Charles III's chief minister. There's nothing toshow that it didn't stay in that family until at least the end of theCarlist War in '40. Then it appeared in Paris at just about the timethat Paris was full of Carlists who had had to get out of Spain. One ofthem must have brought it with him, but, whoever he was, it's likely heknew nothing about its real value. It had been--no doubt as a precautionduring the Carlist trouble in Spain--painted or enameled over to looklike nothing more than a fairly interesting black statuette. And in thatdisguise, sir, it was, you might say, kicked around Paris for seventyyears by private owners and dealers too stupid to see what it was underthe skin."
The fat man paused to smile and shake his head regretfully. Then he wenton: "For seventy years, sir, this marvelous item was, as you might say,a football in the gutters of Paris--until 1911 when a Greek dealer namedCharilaos Konstantinides found it in an obscure shop. It didn't takeCharilaos long to learn what it was and to acquire it. No thickness ofenamel could conceal value from his eyes and nose. Well, sir, Charilaoswas the man who traced most of its history and who identified it as whatit actually was. I got wind of it and finally forced most of the historyout of him, though I've been able to add a few details since.
"Charilaos was in no hurry to convert his find into money at once. Heknew that--enormous as its intrinsic value was--a far higher, aterrific, price could be obtained for it once its authenticity wasestablished beyond doubt. Possibly he planned to do business with one ofthe modern descendents of the old Order--the English Order of St. Johnof Jerusalem, the Prussian Johanniterorden, or the Italian or Germanlangues of the Sovereign Order of Malta--all wealthy orders."
The fat man raised his glass, smiled at its emptiness, and rose to fillit and Spade's. "You begin to believe me a little?" he asked as heworked the siphon.
"I haven't said I didn't."
"No," Gutman chuckled. "But how you looked." He sat down, drankgenerously, and patted his mouth with a white handkerchief. "Well, sir,to hold it safe while pursuing his researches into its history,Charilaos had re-enameled the bird, apparently just as it is now. Oneyear to the very day after he had acquired it--that was possibly threemonths after I'd made him confess to me--I picked up the Times inLondon and read that his establishment had been burglarized and himmurdered. I was in Paris the next day." He shook his head sadly. "Thebird was gone. By Gad, sir, I was wild. I didn't believe anybody elseknew what it was. I didn't believe he had told anybody but me. A greatquantity of stuff had been stolen. That made me think that the thief hadsimply taken the bird along with the rest of his plunder, not knowingwhat it was. Because I assure you that a thief who knew its value wouldnot burden himself with anything else--no, sir--at least not anythingless than crown jewels."
He shut his eyes and smiled complacently at an inner thought. He openedhis eyes and said: "That was seventeen years ago. Well, sir, it took meseventeen years to locate that bird, but I did it. I wanted it, and I'mnot a man that's easily discouraged when he wants something." His smilegrew broad. "I wanted it and I found it. I want it and I'm going to haveit." He drained his glass, dried his lips again, and returned hishandkerchief to his pocket. "I traced it to the home of a Russiangeneral--one Kemidov--in a Constantinople suburb. He didn't know a thingabout it. It was nothing but a black enameled figure to him, but hisnatural contrariness--the natural contrariness of a Russiangeneral--kept him from selling it to me when I made him an offer.Perhaps in my eagerness I was a little unskillful, though not very. Idon't know about that. But I did know I wanted it and I was afraid thisstupid soldier might begin to investigate his property, might chip offsome of the enamel. So I sent some--ah--agents to get it. Well, sir,they got it and I haven't got it." He stood up and carried his emptyglass to the table. "But I'm going to get it. Your glass, sir."
"Then the bird doesn't belong to any of you?" Spade asked, "but to aGeneral Kemidov?"
"Belong?" the fat man said jovially. "Well, sir, you might say itbelonged to the King of Spain, but I don't see how you can honestlygrant anybody else clear title to it--except by right of possession." Heclucked. "An article of that value that has passed from hand to hand bysuch means is clearly the property of whoever can get hold of it."
"Then it's Miss O'Shaughnessy's now?"
"No, sir, except as my agent."
Spade said, "Oh," ironically.
Gutman, looking thoughtfully at the stopper of the whiskey-bottle in hishand, asked: "There's no doubt that she's got it now?"
"I don't know exactly."
The fat man set the bottle on the table with a bang. "But you said youdid," he protested.
Spade made a careless gesture with one hand. "I meant to say I knowwhere to get it when the time comes."
The pink bulbs of Gutman's face arranged themselves more happily. "Andyou do?" he asked.
Spade grinned and said: "Leave that to me. That's my end."
"When I'm ready."
The fat man pursed his lips and, smiling with only slight uneasiness,asked: "Mr. Spade, where is Miss O'Shaughnessy now?"
"In my hands, safely tucked away."
Gutman smiled with approval. "Trust you for that, sir," he said. "Wellnow, sir, before we sit down to talk prices, answer me this: how sooncan you--or how soon are you willing to--produce the falcon?"
"A couple of days."
The fat man nodded. "That is satisfactory. We--But I forgot ournourishment." He turned to the table, poured whiskey, squirted chargedwater into it, set a glass at Spade's elbow and held his own aloft."Well, sir, here's to a fair bargain and profits large enough for bothof us."
They drank. The fat man sat down. Spade asked: "What's your idea of afair bargain?"
Gutman held his glass up to the light, looked affectionately at it, tookanother long drink, and said: "I have two proposals to make, sir, andeither is fair. Take your choice. I will give you twenty-five thousanddollars when you deliver the falcon to me, and another twenty-fivethousand as soon as I get to New York; or I will give you onequarter--twenty-five per cent--of what I realize on the falcon. Thereyou are, sir: an almost immediate fifty thousand dollars or a vastlygreater sum within, say, a couple of months."
Spade drank and asked: "How much greater?"
"Vastly," the fat man repeated. "Who knows how much greater? Shall I saya hundred thousand, or a quarter of a million? Will you believe me if Iname the sum that seems the probable minimum?"
The fat man smacked his lips and lowered his voice to a purring murmur."What would you say, sir, to half a million?"
Spade narrowed his eyes. "Then you think the dingus is worth twomillion?"
Gutman smiled serenely. "In your own words, why not?" he asked.
Spade emptied his glass and set it on the table. He put his cigar in hismouth, took it out, looked at it, and put it back in. His yellow-greyeyes were faintly muddy. He said: "That's a hell of a lot of dough."
The fat man agreed: "That's a hell of a lot of dough." He leaned forwardand patted Spade's knee. "That is the absolute rock-bottom minimum--orCharilaos Konstantinides was a blithering idiot--and he wasn't."
Spade removed the cigar from his mouth again, frowned at it withdistaste, and put it on the smoking-stand. He shut his eyes hard, openedthem again. Their muddiness had thickened. He said: "The--the minimum,huh? And the maximum?" An unmistakable sh followed the x in maximum ashe said it.
"The maximum?" Gutman held his empty hand out, palm up. "I refuse toguess. You'd think me crazy. I don't know. There's no telling how highit could go, sir, and that's the one and only truth about it."
Spade pulled his sagging lower lip tight against the upper. He shook hishead impatiently. A sharp frightened gleam awoke in his eyes--and wassmothered by the deepening muddiness. He stood up, helping himself upwith his hands on the arms of his chair. He shook his head again andtook an uncertain step forward. He laughed thickly and muttered: "Goddamn you."
Gutman jumped up and pushed his chair back. His fat globes jiggled. Hiseyes were dark holes in an oily pink face.
Spade swung his head from side to side until his dull eyes were pointedat--if not focused on--the door. He took another uncertain step.
The fat man called sharply: "Wilmer!"
A door opened and the boy came in.
Spade took a third step. His face was grey now, with jaw-musclesstanding out like tumors under his ears. His legs did not straightenagain after his fourth step and his muddy eyes were almost covered bytheir lids. He took his fifth step.
The boy walked over and stood close to Spade, a little in front of him,but not directly between Spade and the door. The boy's right hand wasinside his coat over his heart. The corners of his mouth twitched.
Spade essayed his sixth step.
The boy's leg darted out across Spade's leg, in front. Spade trippedover the interfering leg and crashed face-down on the floor. The boy,keeping his right hand under his coat, looked down at Spade. Spade triedto get up. The boy drew his right foot far back and kicked Spade'stemple. The kick rolled Spade over on his side. Once more he tried toget up, could not, and went to sleep.
14. La Paloma
Spade, coming around the corner from the elevator at a few minutes pastsix in the morning, saw yellow light glowing through the frosted glassof his office-door. He halted abruptly, set his lips together, looked upand down the corridor, and advanced to the door with swift quietstrides.
He put his hand on the knob and turned it with care that permittedneither rattle nor click. He turned the knob until it would turn nofarther: the door was locked. Holding the knob still, he changed hands,taking it now in his left hand. With his right hand he brought his keysout of his pocket, carefully, so they could not jingle against oneanother. He separated the office-key from the others and, smothering theothers together in his palm, inserted the office-key in the lock. Theinsertion was soundless. He balanced himself on the balls of his feet,filled his lungs, clicked the door open, and went in.
Effie Perine sat sleeping with her head on her forearms, her forearms onher desk. She wore her coat and had one of Spade's overcoats wrappedcape-fashion around her.
Spade blew his breath out in a muffled laugh, shut the door behind him,and crossed to the inner door. The inner office was empty. He went overto the girl and put a hand on her shoulder.
She stirred, raised her head drowsily, and her eyelids fluttered.Suddenly she sat up straight, opening her eyes wide. She saw Spade,smiled, leaned back in her chair, and rubbed her eyes with her fingers."So you finally got back?" she said. "What time is it?"
"Six o'clock. What are you doing here?"
She shivered, drew Spade's overcoat closer around her, and yawned. "Youtold me to stay till you got back or phoned."
"Oh, you're the sister of the boy who stood on the burning deck?"
"I wasn't going to--" She broke off and stood up, letting his coat slidedown on the chair behind her. She looked with dark excited eyes at histemple under the brim of his hat and exclaimed: "Oh, your head! Whathappened?"
His right temple was dark and swollen.
"I don't know whether I fell or was slugged. I don't think it amounts tomuch, but it hurts like hell." He barely touched it with his fingers,flinched, turned his grimace into a grim smile, and explained: "I wentvisiting, was fed knockout-drops, and came to twelve hours later allspread out on a man's floor."
She reached up and removed his hat from his head. "It's terrible," shesaid. "You'll have to get a doctor. You can't walk around with a headlike that."
"It's not as bad as it looks, except for the headache, and that might bemostly from the drops." He went to the cabinet in the corner of theoffice and ran cold water on a handkerchief. "Anything turn up after Ileft?"
"Did you find Miss O'Shaughnessy, Sam?"
"Not yet. Anything turn up after I left?"
"The District Attorney's office phoned. He wants to see you."
"Yes, that's the way I understood it. And a boy came in with amessage--that Mr. Gutman would be delighted to talk to you beforefive-thirty."
Spade turned off the water, squeezed the handkerchief, and came awayfrom the cabinet holding the handkerchief to his temple. "I got that,"he said. "I met the boy downstairs, and talking to Mr. Gutman got methis."
"Is that the G. who phoned, Sam?"
Spade stared through the girl and spoke as if using speech to arrangehis thoughts: "He wants something he thinks I can get. I persuaded him Icould keep him from getting it if he didn't make the deal with me beforefive-thirty. Then--uh-huh--sure--it was after I'd told him he'd have towait a couple of days that he fed me the junk. It's not likely hethought I'd die. He'd know I'd be up and around in ten or twelve hours.So maybe the answer's that he figured he could get it without my help inthat time if I was fixed so I couldn't butt in." He scowled. "I hope toChrist he was wrong." His stare became less distant. "You didn't get anyword from the O'Shaughnessy?"
The girl shook her head no and asked: "Has this got anything to do withher?"
"This thing he wants belongs to her?"
"Or to the King of Spain. Sweetheart, you've got an uncle who teacheshistory or something over at the University?"
"A cousin. Why?"
"If we brightened his life with an alleged historical secret fourcenturies old could we trust him to keep it dark awhile?"
"Oh, yes, he's good people."
"Fine. Get your pencil and book."
She got them and sat in her chair. Spade ran more cold water on hishandkerchief and, holding it to his temple, stood in front of her anddictated the story of the falcon as he had heard it from Gutman, fromCharles V's grant to the Hospitallers up to--but no further than--theenameled bird's arrival in Paris at the time of the Carlist influx. Hestumbled over the names of authors and their works that Gutman hadmentioned, but managed to achieve some sort of phonetic likeness. Therest of the history he repeated with the accuracy of a trainedinterviewer.
When he had finished the girl shut her notebook and raised a flushedsmiling face to him. "Oh, isn't this thrilling?" she said. "It's--"
"Yes, or ridiculous. Now will you take it over and read it to yourcousin and ask him what he thinks of it? Has he ever run across anythingthat might have some connection with it? Is it probable? Is itpossible--even barely possible? Or is it the bunk? If he wants more timeto look it up, O K, but get some sort of opinion out of him now. And forGod's sake make him keep it under his hat."
"I'll go right now," she said, "and you go see a doctor about thathead."
"We'll have breakfast first."
"No, I'll eat over in Berkeley. I can't wait to hear what Ted thinks ofthis."
"Well," Spade said, "don't start boo-hooing if he laughs at you."
* * * * *
After a leisurely breakfast at the Palace, during which he read bothmorning papers, Spade went home, shaved, bathed, rubbed ice on hisbraised temple, and put on fresh clothes.
He went to Brigid O'Shaughnessy's apartment at the Coronet. Nobody wasin the apartment. Nothing had been changed in it since his last visit.
He went to the Alexandria Hotel. Gutman was not in. None of the otheroccupants of Gutman's suite was in. Spade learned that these otheroccupants were the fat man's secretary, Wilmer Cook, and his daughterRhea, a brown-eyed fair-haired smallish girl of seventeen whom thehotel-staff said was beautiful. Spade was told that the Gutman party hadarrived at the hotel, from New York, ten days before, and had notchecked out.
Spade went to the Belvedere and found the hotel-detective eating in thehotel-café.
"Morning, Sam. Set down and bite an egg." The hotel-detective stared atSpade's temple. "By God, somebody maced you plenty!"
"Thanks, I've had mine," Spade said as he sat down, and then, referringto his temple: "It looks worse than it is. How's my Cairo's conduct?"
"He went out not more than half an hour behind you yesterday and I ain'tseen him since. He didn't sleep here again last night."
"He's getting bad habits."
"Well, a fellow like that alone in a big city. Who put the slug to you,Sam?"
"It wasn't Cairo." Spade looked attentively at the small silver domecovering Luke's toast. "How's chances of giving his room a casing whilehe's out?"
"Can do. You know I'm willing to go all the way with you all the time."Luke pushed his coffee back, put his elbows on the table, and screwed uphis eyes at Spade. "But I got a hunch you ain't going all the way withme. What's the honest-to-God on this guy, Sam? You don't have to kickback on me. You know I'm regular."
Spade lifted his eyes from the silver dome. They were clear and candid."Sure, you are," he said. "I'm not holding out. I gave you it straight.I'm doing a job for him, but he's got some friends that look wrong to meand I'm a little leery of him."
"The kid we chased out yesterday was one of his friends."
"Yes, Luke, he was."
"And it was one of them that shoved Miles across."
Spade shook his head. "Thursby killed Miles."
"And who killed him?"
Spade smiled. "That's supposed to be a secret, but, confidentially, Idid," he said, "according to the police."
Luke grunted and stood up saying: "You're a tough one to figure out,Sam. Come on, we'll have that look-see."
They stopped at the desk long enough for Luke to "fix it so we'll get aring if he comes in," and went up to Cairo's room. Cairo's bed wassmooth and trim, but paper in the wastebasket, unevenly drawn blinds,and a couple of rumpled towels in the bathroom showed that thechambermaid had not yet been in that morning.
Cairo's luggage consisted of a square trunk, a valise, and a gladstonebag. His bathroom-cabinet was stocked with cosmetics--boxes, cans, jars,and bottles of powders, creams, unguents, perfumes, lotions, and tonics.Two suits and an overcoat hung in the closet over three pairs ofcarefully treed shoes.
The valise and smaller bag were unlocked. Luke had the trunk unlocked bythe time Spade had finished searching elsewhere.
"Blank so far," Spade said as they dug down into the trunk.
They found nothing there to interest them.
"Any particular thing we're supposed to be looking for?" Luke asked ashe locked the trunk again.
"No. He's supposed to have come here from Constantinople. I'd like toknow if he did. I haven't seen anything that says he didn't."
"What's his racket?"
Spade shook his head. "That's something else I'd like to know." Hecrossed the room and bent down over the wastebasket. "Well, this is ourlast shot."
He took a newspaper from the basket. His eyes brightened when he saw itwas the previous day's Call. It was folded with theclassified-advertising-page outside. He opened it, examined that page,and nothing there stopped his eyes.
He turned the paper over and looked at the page that had been foldedinside, the page that held financial and shipping news, the weather,births, marriages, divorces, and deaths. From the lower left-handcorner, a little more than two inches of the bottom of the second columnhad been torn out.
Immediately above the tear was a small caption Arrived Today followedby:
12:20 A. M.--Capac from Astoria. 5:05 A. M.--Helen P. Drew from Greenwood. 5:06 A. M.--Albarado from Bandon.
The tear passed through the next line, leaving only enough of itsletters to make from Sydney inferable.
Spade put the Call down on the desk and looked into the wastebasketagain. He found a small piece of wrapping-paper, a piece of string, twohosiery tags, a haberdasher's sale-ticket for half a dozen pairs ofsocks, and, in the bottom of the basket, a piece of newspaper rolledinto a tiny ball.
He opened the ball carefully, smoothed it out on the desk, and fitted itinto the torn part of the Call. The fit at the sides was exact, butbetween the top of the crumpled fragment and the inferable from Sydneyhalf an inch was missing, sufficient space to have held announcement ofsix or seven boats' arrival. He turned the sheet over and saw that theother side of the missing portion could have held only a meaninglesscorner of a stock-broker's advertisement.
Luke, leaning over his shoulder, asked: "What's this all about?"
"Looks like the gent's interested in a boat."
"Well, there's no law against that, or is there?" Luke said while Spadewas folding the torn page and the crumpled fragment together and puttingthem into his coat-pocket. "You all through here now?"
"Yes. Thanks a lot, Luke. Will you give me a ring as soon as he comesin?"
* * * * *
Spade went to the Business Office of the Call, bought a copy of theprevious day's issue, opened it to the shipping-news-page, and comparedit with the page taken from Cairo's wastebasket. The missing portion hadread:
5:17 A. M.--Tahiti from Sydney and Papeete. 6:05 A. M.--Admiral Peoples from Astoria. 8:07 A. M.--Caddopeak from San Pedro. 8:17 A. M.--Silverado from San Pedro. 8:05 A. M.--La Paloma from Hongkong. 9:03 A. M.--Daisy Gray from Seattle.
He read the list slowly and when he had finished he underscoredHongkong with a fingernail, cut the list of arrivals from the paperwith his pocket-knife, put the rest of the paper and Cairo's sheet intothe wastebasket, and returned to his office.
He sat down at his desk, looked up a number in the telephone-book, andused the telephone.
"Kearny one four o one, please.... Where is the Paloma, in fromHongkong yesterday morning, docked?" He repeated the question. "Thanks."
He held the receiver-hook down with his thumb for a moment, released it,and said: "Davenport two o two o, please.... Detective bureau,please.... Is Sergeant Polhaus there?... Thanks.... Hello, Tom,this is Sam Spade.... Yes, I tried to get you yesterdayafternoon.... Sure, suppose you go to lunch with me.... Right."
He kept the receiver to his ear while his thumb worked the hook again.
"Davenport o one seven o, please.... Hello, this is Samuel Spade. Mysecretary got a phone-message yesterday that Mr. Bryan wanted to see me.Will you ask him what time's the most convenient for him?... Yes,Spade, S-p-a-d-e." A long pause. "Yes.... Two-thirty? All right.Thanks."
He called a fifth number and said: "Hello, darling, let me talk toSid?... Hello, Sid--Sam. I've got a date with the District Attorneyat half-past two this afternoon. Will you give me a ring--here orthere--around four, just to see that I'm not in trouble?... Hell withyour Saturday afternoon golf: your job's to keep me out of jail....Right, Sid. 'Bye."
He pushed the telephone away, yawned, stretched, felt his bruisedtemple, looked at his watch, and rolled and lighted a cigarette. Hesmoked sleepily until Effie Perine came in.
* * * * *
Effie Perine came in smiling, bright-eyed and rosy-faced. "Ted says itcould be," she reported, "and he hopes it is. He says he's not aspecialist in that field, but the names and dates are all right, and atleast none of your authorities or their works are out-and-out fakes.He's all excited over it."
"That's swell, as long as he doesn't get too enthusiastic to see throughit if it's phoney."
"Oh, he wouldn't--not Ted! He's too good at his stuff for that."
"Uh-huh, the whole damned Perine family's wonderful," Spade said,"including you and the smudge of soot on your nose."
"He's not a Perine, he's a Christy." She bent her head to look at hernose in her vanity-case-mirror. "I must've got that from the fire." Shescrubbed the smudge with the corner of a handkerchief.
"The Perine-Christy enthusiasm ignite Berkeley?" he asked.
She made a face at him while patting her nose with a powdered pink disc."There was a boat on fire when I came back. They were towing it out fromthe pier and the smoke blew all over our ferry-boat."
Spade put his hands on the arms of his chair. "Were you near enough tosee the name of the boat?" he asked.
"Yes. La Paloma. Why?"
Spade smiled ruefully. "I'm damned if I know why, sister," he said.
15. Every Crackpot
Spade and Detective-sergeant Polhaus ate pickled pigs' feet at one ofbig John's tables at the States Hof Brau.
Polhaus, balancing pale bright jelly on a fork half-way between plateand mouth, said: "Hey, listen, Sam! Forget about the other night. He wasdead wrong, but you know anybody's liable to lose their head if you ridethem thataway."
Spade looked thoughtfully at the police-detective. "Was that what youwanted to see me about?" he asked.
Polhaus nodded, put the forkful of jelly into his mouth, swallowed it,and qualified his nod: "Mostly."
"Dundy send you?"
Polhaus made a disgusted mouth. "You know he didn't. He's as bullheadedas you are."
Spade smiled and shook his head. "No, he's not, Tom," he said. "He justthinks he is."
Tom scowled and chopped at his pig's foot with a knife. "Ain't you evergoing to grow up?" he grumbled. "What've you got to beef about? Hedidn't hurt you. You came out on top. What's the sense of making agrudge of it? You're just making a lot of grief for yourself."
Spade placed his knife and fork carefully together on his plate, and puthis hands on the table beside his plate. His smile was faint and devoidof warmth. "With every bull in town working overtime trying to pile upgrief for me a little more won't hurt. I won't even know it's there."
Polhaus's ruddiness deepened. He said: "That's a swell thing to say tome."
Spade picked up his knife and fork and began to eat. Polhaus ate.
Presently Spade asked: "See the boat on fire in the bay?"
"I saw the smoke. Be reasonable, Sam. Dundy was wrong and he knows it.Why don't you let it go at that?"
"Think I ought to go around and tell him I hope my chin didn't hurt hisfist?"
Polhaus cut savagely into his pig's foot.
Spade said: "Phil Archer been in with any more hot tips?"
"Aw, hell! Dundy didn't think you shot Miles, but what else could he doexcept run the lead down? You'd've done the same thing in his place, andyou know it."
"Yes?" Malice glittered in Spade's eyes. "What made him think I didn'tdo it? What makes you think I didn't? Or don't you?"
Polhaus's ruddy face flushed again. He said: "Thursby shot Miles."
"You think he did."
"He did. That Webley was his, and the slug in Miles came out of it."
"Sure?" Spade demanded.
"Dead sure," the police-detective replied. "We got hold of a kid--abellhop at Thursby's hotel--that had seen it in his room just thatmorning. He noticed it particular because he'd never saw one just likeit before. I never saw one. You say they don't make them any more. Itain't likely there'd be another around and--anyway--if that wasn'tThursby's what happened to his? And that's the gun the slug in Milescome out of." He started to put a piece of bread into his mouth,withdrew it, and asked:
"You say you've seen them before: where was that at?" He put the breadinto his mouth.
"In England before the war."
"Sure, there you are."
Spade nodded and said: "Then that leaves Thursby the only one I killed."
Polhaus squirmed in his chair and his face was red and shiny. "Christ'ssake, ain't you never going to forget that?" he complained earnestly."That's out. You know it as well as I do. You'd think you wasn't a dickyourself the way you bellyache over things. I suppose you don't neverpull the same stuff on anybody that we pulled on you?"
"You mean that you tried to pull on me, Tom--just tried."
Polhaus swore under his breath and attacked the remainder of his pig'sfoot.
Spade said: "All right. You know it's out and I know it's out. What doesDundy know?"
"He knows it's out."
"What woke him up?"
"Aw, Sam, he never really thought you'd--" Spade's smile checkedPolhaus. He left the sentence incomplete and said: "We dug up a recordon Thursby."
"Yes? Who was he?"
Polhaus's shrewd small brown eyes studied Spade's face. Spade exclaimedirritably: "I wish to God I knew half as much about this business as yousmart guys think I do!"
"I wish we all did," Polhaus grumbled. "Well, he was a St. Louis gunmanthe first we hear of him. He was picked up a lot of times back there forthis and that, but he belonged to the Egan mob, so nothing much was everdone about any of it. I don't know how come he left that shelter, butthey got him once in New York for knocking over a row ofstuss-games--his twist turned him up--and he was in a year before Fallongot him sprung. A couple of years later he did a short hitch in Jolietfor pistol-whipping another twist that had given him the needle, butafter that he took up with Dixie Monahan and didn't have any troublegetting out whenever he happened to get in. That was when Dixie wasalmost as big a shot as Nick the Greek in Chicago gambling. This Thursbywas Dixie's bodyguard and he took the run-out with him when Dixie got inwrong with the rest of the boys over some debts he couldn't or wouldn'tpay off. That was a couple of years back--about the time the NewportBeach Boating Club was shut up. I don't know if Dixie had any part inthat. Anyways, this is the first time him or Thursby's been seen since."
"Dixie's been seen?" Spade asked.
Polhaus shook his head. "No." His small eyes became sharp, prying. "Notunless you've seen him or know somebody's seen him."
Spade lounged back in his chair and began to make a cigarette. "Ihaven't," he said mildly. "This is all new stuff to me."
"I guess it is," Polhaus snorted.
Spade grinned at him and asked: "Where'd you pick up all this news aboutThursby?"
"Some of it's on the records. The rest--well--we got it here and there."
"From Cairo, for instance?" Now Spade's eyes held the prying gleam.
Polhaus put down his coffee-cup and shook his head. "Not a word of it.You poisoned that guy for us."
Spade laughed. "You mean a couple of high-class sleuths like you andDundy worked on that lily-of-the-valley all night and couldn't crackhim?"
"What do you mean--all night?" Polhaus protested. "We worked on him forless than a couple of hours. We saw we wasn't getting nowhere, and lethim go."
Spade laughed again and looked at his watch. He caught John's eye andasked for the check. "I've got a date with the D. A. this afternoon," hetold Polhaus while they waited for his change.
"He send for you?"
Polhaus pushed his chair back and stood up, a barrel-bellied tall man,solid and phlegmatic. "You won't be doing me any favor," he said, "bytelling him I've talked to you like this."
* * * * *
A lathy youth with salient ears ushered Spade into the DistrictAttorney's office. Spade went in smiling easily, saying easily: "Hello,Bryan!"
District Attorney Bryan stood up and held his hand out across his desk.He was a blond man of medium stature, perhaps forty-five years old, withaggressive blue eyes behind black-ribboned nose-glasses, the over-largemouth of an orator, and a wide dimpled chin. When he said, "How do youdo, Spade?" his voice was resonant with latent power.
They shook hands and sat down.
The District Attorney put his finger on one of the pearl buttons in abattery of four on his desk, said to the lathy youth who opened the dooragain, "Ask Mr. Thomas and Healy to come in," and then, rocking back inhis chair, addressed Spade pleasantly: "You and the police haven't beenhitting it off so well, have you?"
Spade made a negligent gesture with the fingers of his right hand."Nothing serious," he said lightly. "Dundy gets too enthusiastic."
The door opened to admit two men. The one to whom Spade said, "Hello,Thomas!" was a sunburned stocky man of thirty in clothing and hair of akindred unruliness. He clapped Spade on the shoulder with a freckledhand, asked, "How's tricks?" and sat down beside him. The second man wasyounger and colorless. He took a seat a little apart from the others andbalanced a stenographer's notebook on his knee, holding a green pencilover it.
Spade glanced his way, chuckled, and asked Bryan: "Anything I say willbe used against me?"
The District Attorney smiled. "That always holds good." He took hisglasses off, looked at them, and set them on his nose again. He lookedthrough them at Spade and asked: "Who killed Thursby?"
Spade said: "I don't know."
Bryan rubbed his black eyeglass-ribbon between thumb and fingers andsaid knowingly: "Perhaps you don't, but you certainly could make anexcellent guess."
"Maybe, but I wouldn't."
The District Attorney raised his eyebrows.
"I wouldn't," Spade repeated. He was serene. "My guess might beexcellent, or it might be crummy, but Mrs. Spade didn't raise anychildren dippy enough to make guesses in front of a district attorney,an assistant district attorney, and a stenographer."
"Why shouldn't you, if you've nothing to conceal?"
"Everybody," Spade responded mildly, "has something to conceal."
"And you have--?"
"My guesses, for one thing."
The District Attorney looked down at his desk and then up at Spade. Hesettled his glasses more firmly on his nose. He said: "If you'd prefernot having the stenographer here we can dismiss him. It was simply as amatter of convenience that I brought him in."
"I don't mind him a damned bit," Spade replied. "I'm willing to haveanything I say put down and I'm willing to sign it."
"We don't intend asking you to sign anything," Bryan assured him. "Iwish you wouldn't regard this as a formal inquiry at all. And pleasedon't think I've any belief--much less confidence--in those theories thepolice seem to have formed."
"Not a particle."
Spade sighed and crossed his legs. "I'm glad of that." He felt in hispockets for tobacco and papers. "What's your theory?"
Bryan leaned forward in his chair and his eyes were hard and shiny asthe lenses over them. "Tell me who Archer was shadowing Thursby for andI'll tell you who killed Thursby."
Spade's laugh was brief and scornful. "You're as wrong as Dundy," hesaid.
"Don't misunderstand me, Spade," Bryan said, knocking on the desk withhis knuckles. "I don't say your client killed Thursby or had him killed,but I do say that, knowing who your client is, or was, I'll mighty soonknow who killed Thursby."
Spade lighted his cigarette, removed it from his lips, emptied his lungsof smoke, and spoke as if puzzled: "I don't exactly get that."
"You don't? Then suppose I put it this way: where is Dixie Monahan?"
Spade's face retained its puzzled look. "Putting it that way doesn'thelp much," he said. "I still don't get it."
The District Attorney took his glasses off and shook them for emphasis.He said: "We know Thursby was Monahan's bodyguard and went with him whenMonahan found it wise to vanish from Chicago. We know Monahan welshed onsomething like two-hundred-thousand-dollars' worth of bets when hevanished. We don't know--not yet--who his creditors were." He put theglasses on again and smiled grimly. "But we all know what's likely tohappen to a gambler who welshes, and to his bodyguard, when hiscreditors find him. It's happened before."
Spade ran his tongue over his lips and pulled his lips back over histeeth in an ugly grin. His eyes glittered under pulled-down brows. Hisreddening neck bulged over the rim of his collar. His voice was low andhoarse and passionate. "Well, what do you think? Did I kill him for hiscreditors? Or just find him and let them do their own killing?"
"No, no!" the District Attorney protested. "You misunderstand me."
"I hope to Christ I do," Spade said.
"He didn't mean that," Thomas said.
"Then what did he mean?"
Bryan waved a hand. "I only mean that you might have been involved in itwithout knowing what it was. That could--"
"I see," Spade sneered. "You don't think I'm naughty. You just think I'mdumb."
"Nonsense," Bryan insisted: "Suppose someone came to you and engaged youto find Monahan, telling you they had reasons for thinking he was in thecity. The someone might give you a completely false story--any one of adozen or more would do--or might say he was a debtor who had run away,without giving you any of the details. How could you tell what wasbehind it? How would you know it wasn't an ordinary piece of detectivework? And under those circumstances you certainly couldn't be heldresponsible for your part in it unless"--his voice sank to a moreimpressive key and his words came out spaced and distinct--"you madeyourself an accomplice by concealing your knowledge of the murderer'sidentity or information that would lead to his apprehension."
Anger was leaving Spade's face. No anger remained in his voice when heasked: "That's what you meant?"
"All right. Then there's no hard feelings. But you're wrong."
Spade shook his head. "I can't prove it to you now. I can tell you."
"Then tell me."
"Nobody ever hired me to do anything about Dixie Monahan."
Bryan and Thomas exchanged glances. Bryan's eyes came back to Spade andhe said: "But, by your own admission, somebody did hire you to dosomething about his bodyguard Thursby."
"Yes, about his ex-bodyguard Thursby."
"You know that Thursby was no longer associated with Monahan? You knowthat positively?"
Spade stretched out his hand and dropped the stub of his cigarette intoan ashtray on the desk. He spoke carelessly: "I don't know anythingpositively except that my client wasn't interested in Monahan, had neverbeen interested in Monahan. I heard that Thursby took Monahan out to theOrient and lost him."
Again the District Attorney and his assistant exchanged glances.
Thomas, in a tone whose matter-of-factness did not quite hideexcitement, said: "That opens another angle. Monahan's friends couldhave knocked Thursby off for ditching Monahan."
"Dead gamblers don't have any friends," Spade said.
"It opens up two new lines," Bryan said. He leaned back and stared atthe ceiling for several seconds, then sat upright quickly. His orator'sface was alight. "It narrows down to three things. Number one: Thursbywas killed by the gamblers Monahan had welshed on in Chicago. Notknowing Thursby had sloughed Monahan--or not believing it--they killedhim because he had been Monahan's associate, or to get him out of theway so they could get to Monahan, or because he had refused to lead themto Monahan. Number two: he was killed by friends of Monahan. Or numberthree: he sold Monahan out to his enemies and then fell out with themand they killed him."
"Or number four," Spade suggested with a cheerful smile: "he died of oldage. You folks aren't serious, are you?"
The two men stared at Spade, but neither of them spoke. Spade turned hissmile from one to the other of them and shook his head in mock pity."You've got Arnold Rothstein on the brain," he said.
Bryan smacked the back of his left hand down into the palm of his right."In one of those three categories lies the solution." The power in hisvoice was no longer latent. His right hand, a fist except for protrudingforefinger, went up and then down to stop with a jerk when the fingerwas leveled at Spade's chest. "And you can give us the information thatwill enable us to determine the category."
Spade said, "Yes?" very lazily. His face was somber. He touched hislower lip with a finger, looked at the finger, and then scratched theback of his neck with it. Little irritable lines had appeared in hisforehead. He blew his breath out heavily through his nose and his voicewas an ill-humored growl. "You wouldn't want the kind of information Icould give you, Bryan. You couldn't use it. It'd poop thisgambler's-revenge-scenario for you."
Bryan sat up straight and squared his shoulders. His voice was stemwithout blustering. "You are not the judge of that. Right or wrong, I amnonetheless the District Attorney."
Spade's lifted lip showed his eyetooth. "I thought this was an informaltalk."
"I am a sworn officer of the law twenty-four hours a day," Bryan said,"and neither formality nor informality justifies your withholding fromme evidence of crime, except of course"--he nodded meaningly--"oncertain constitutional grounds."
"You mean if it might incriminate me?" Spade asked. His voice wasplacid, almost amused, but his face was not. "Well, I've got bettergrounds than that, or grounds that suit me better. My clients areentitled to a decent amount of secrecy. Maybe I can be made to talk to aGrand Jury or even a Coroner's Jury, but I haven't been called beforeeither yet, and it's a cinch I'm not going to advertise my clients'business until I have to. Then again, you and the police have bothaccused me of being mixed up in the other night's murders. I've hadtrouble with both of you before. As far as I can see, my best chance ofclearing myself of the trouble you're trying to make for me is bybringing in the murderers--all tied up. And my only chance of evercatching them and tying them up and bringing them in is by keeping awayfrom you and the police, because neither of you show any signs ofknowing what in hell it's all about." He rose and turned his head overhis shoulder to address the stenographer: "Getting this all right, son?Or am I going too fast for you?"
The stenographer looked at him with startled eyes and replied: "No, sir,I'm getting it all right."
"Good work," Spade said and turned to Bryan again. "Now if you want togo to the Board and tell them I'm obstructing justice and ask them torevoke my license, hop to it. You've tried it before and it didn't getyou anything but a good laugh all around." He picked up his hat.
Bryan began: "But look here--"
Spade said: "And I don't want any more of these informal talks. I've gotnothing to tell you or the police and I'm God-damned tired of beingcalled things by every crackpot on the city payroll. If you want to seeme, pinch me or subpoena me or something and I'll come down with mylawyer." He put his hat on his head, said, "See you at the inquest,maybe," and stalked out.
16. The Third Murder
Spade went into the Hotel Sutter and telephoned the Alexandria. Gutmanwas not in. No member of Gutman's party was in. Spade telephoned theBelvedere. Cairo was not in, had not been in that day.
Spade went to his office.
A swart greasy man in notable clothes was waiting in the outer room.Effie Perine, indicating the swart man, said: "This gentleman wishes tosee you, Mr. Spade."
Spade smiled and bowed and opened the inner door. "Come in." Beforefollowing the man in Spade asked Effie Perine: "Any news on that othermatter?"
The swart man was the proprietor of a moving-picture-theater in MarketStreet. He suspected one of his cashiers and a doorman of colluding todefraud him. Spade hurried him through the story, promised to "take careof it," asked for and received fifty dollars, and got rid of him in lessthan half an hour.
When the corridor-door had closed behind the showman Effie Perine cameinto the inner office. Her sunburned face was worried and questioning."You haven't found her yet?" she asked.
He shook his head and went on stroking his bruised temple lightly incircles with his fingertips.
"How is it?" she asked.
"All right, but I've got plenty of headache."
She went around behind him, put his hand down, and stroked his templewith her slender fingers. He leaned back until the back of his head overthe chair-top rested against her breast. He said: "You're an angel."
She bent her head forward over his and looked down into his face."You've got to find her, Sam. It's more than a day and she--"
He stirred and impatiently interrupted her: "I haven't got to doanything, but if you'll let me rest this damned head a minute or twoI'll go out and find her."
She murmured, "Poor head," and stroked it in silence awhile. Then sheasked: "You know where she is? Have you any idea?"
The telephone-bell rang. Spade picked up the telephone and said:"Hello.... Yes, Sid, it came out all right, thanks.... No....Sure. He got snotty, but so did I.... He's nursing a gambler's-warpipe-dream.... Well, we didn't kiss when we parted. I declared myweight and walked out on him.... That's something for you to worryabout.... Right. 'Bye." He put the telephone down and leaned back inhis chair again.
Effie Perine came from behind him and stood at his side. She demanded:"Do you think you know where she is, Sam?"
"I know where she went," he replied in a grudging tone.
"Where?" She was excited.
"Down to the boat you saw burning."
Her eyes opened until their brown was surrounded by white. "You wentdown there." It was not a question.
"I did not," Spade said.
"Sam," she cried angrily, "she may be--"
"She went down there," he said in a surly voice. "She wasn't taken. Shewent down there instead of to your house when she learned the boat wasin. Well, what the hell? Am I supposed to run around after my clientsbegging them to let me help them?"
"But, Sam, when I told you the boat was on fire!"
"That was at noon and I had a date with Polhaus and another with Bryan."
She glared at him between tightened lids. "Sam Spade," she said, "you'rethe most contemptible man God ever made when you want to be. Because shedid something without confiding in you you'd sit here and do nothingwhen you know she's in danger, when you know she might be--"
Spade's face flushed. He said stubbornly: "She's pretty capable oftaking care of herself and she knows where to come for help when shethinks she needs it, and when it suits her."
"That's spite," the girl cried, "and that's all it is! You're sorebecause she did something on her own hook, without telling you. Whyshouldn't she? You're not so damned honest, and you haven't been so muchon the level with her, that she should trust you completely."
Spade said: "That's enough of that."
His tone brought a brief uneasy glint into her hot eyes, but she tossedher head and the glint vanished. Her mouth was drawn taut and small. Shesaid: "If you don't go down there this very minute, Sam, I will and I'lltake the police down there." Her voice trembled, broke, and was thin andwailing. "Oh, Sam, go!"
He stood up cursing her. Then he said: "Christ! It'll be easier on myhead than sitting here listening to you squawk." He looked at his watch."You might as well lock up and go home."
She said: "I won't. I'm going to wait right here till you come back."
He said, "Do as you damned please," put his hat on, flinched, took itoff, and went out carrying it in his hand.
* * * * *
An hour and a half later, at twenty minutes past five, Spade returned.He was cheerful. He came in asking: "What makes you so hard to get alongwith, sweetheart?"
"Yes, you." He put a finger on the tip of Effie Perine's nose andflattened it. He put his hands under her elbows, lifted her straight up,and kissed her chin. He set her down on the floor again and asked:"Anything doing while I was gone?"
"Luke--what's his name?--at the Belvedere called up to tell you Cairohas returned. That was about half an hour ago."
Spade snapped his mouth shut, turned with a long step, and started forthe door.
"Did you find her?" the girl called.
"Tell you about it when I'm back," he replied without pausing andhurried out.
A taxicab brought Spade to the Belvedere within ten minutes of hisdeparture from his office. He found Luke in the lobby. Thehotel-detective came grinning and shaking his head to meet Spade."Fifteen minutes late," he said. "Your bird has fluttered."
Spade cursed his luck.
"Checked out--gone bag and baggage," Luke said. He took a batteredmemorandum-book from a vest-pocket, licked his thumb, thumbed pages, andheld the book out open to Spade. "There's the number of the taxi thathauled him. I got that much for you."
"Thanks." Spade copied the number on the back of an envelope. "Anyforwarding address?"
"No. He just come in carrying a big suitcase and went upstairs andpacked and come down with his stuff and paid his bill and got a taxi andwent without anybody being able to hear what he told the driver."
"How about his trunk?"
Luke's lower lip sagged. "By God," he said, "I forgot that! Come on."
They went up to Cairo's room. The trunk was there. It was closed, butnot locked. They raised the lid. The trunk was empty.
Luke said: "What do you know about that!"
Spade did not say anything.
* * * * *
Spade went back to his office. Effie Perine looked up at him,inquisitively.
"Missed him," Spade grumbled and passed into his private room.
She followed him in. He sat in his chair and began to roll a cigarette.She sat on the desk in front of him and put her toes on a corner of hischair-seat.
"What about Miss O'Shaughnessy?" she demanded.
"I missed her too," he replied, "but she had been there."
"On the La Paloma?"
"The La is a lousy combination," he said.
"Stop it. Be nice, Sam. Tell me."
He set fire to his cigarette, pocketed his lighter, patted her shins,and said: "Yes, La Paloma. She got down there at a little after noonyesterday." He pulled his brows down. "That means she went straightthereafter leaving the cab at the Ferry Building. It's only a few piersaway. The Captain wasn't aboard. His name's Jacobi and she asked for himby name. He was uptown on business. That would mean he didn't expecther, or not at that time anyway. She waited there till he came back atfour o'clock. They spent the time from then till meal-time in his cabinand she ate with him."
He inhaled and exhaled smoke, turned his head aside to spit a yellowtobacco-flake off his lip, and went on: "After the meal Captain Jacobihad three more visitors. One of them was Gutman and one was Cairo andone was the kid who delivered Gutman's message to you yesterday. Thosethree came together while Brigid was there and the five of them did alot of talking in the Captain's cabin. It's hard to get anything out ofthe crew, but they had a row and somewhere around eleven o'clock thatnight a gun went off there, in the Captain's cabin. The watchman beat itdown there, but the Captain met him outside and told him everything wasall right. There's a fresh bullet-hole in one corner of the cabin, uphigh enough to make it likely that the bullet didn't go through anybodyto get there. As far as I could learn there was only the one shot. Butas far as I could learn wasn't very far."
He scowled and inhaled smoke again. "Well, they left aroundmidnight--the Captain and his four visitors all together--and all ofthem seem to have been walking all right. I got that from the watchman.I haven't been able to get hold of the Custom-House-men who were on dutythere then. That's all of it. The Captain hasn't been back since. Hedidn't keep a date he had this noon with some shipping-agents, and theyhaven't found him to tell him about the fire."
"And the fire?" she asked.
Spade shrugged. "I don't know. It was discovered in the hold, aft--inthe rear basement--late this morning. The chances are it got startedsome time yesterday. They got it out all right, though it did damageenough. Nobody liked to talk about it much while the Captain's away.It's the--"
The corridor-door opened. Spade shut his mouth. Effie Perine jumped downfrom the desk, but a man opened the connecting door before she couldreach it.
"Where's Spade?" the man asked.
His voice brought Spade up erect and alert in his chair. It was a voiceharsh and rasping with agony and with the strain of keeping two wordsfrom being smothered by the liquid bubbling that ran under and behindthem.
Effie Perine, frightened, stepped out of the man's way.
He stood in the doorway with his soft hat crushed between his head andthe top of the door-frame: he was nearly seven feet tall. A blackovercoat cut long and straight and like a sheath, buttoned from throatto knees, exaggerated his leanness. His shoulders stuck out, high, thin,angular. His bony face--weather-coarsened, age-lined--was the color ofwet sand and was wet with sweat on cheeks and chin. His eyes were darkand bloodshot and mad above lower lids that hung down to show pink innermembrane. Held tight against the left side of his chest by ablack-sleeved arm that ended in a yellowish claw was abrown-paper-wrapped parcel bound with thin rope--an ellipsoid somewhatlarger than an American football.
The tall man stood in the doorway and there was nothing to show that hesaw Spade. He said, "You know--" and then the liquid bubbling came up inhis throat and submerged whatever else he said. He put his other handover the hand that held the ellipsoid. Holding himself stiffly straight,not putting his hands out to break his fall, he fell forward as a treefalls.
Spade, wooden-faced and nimble, sprang from his chair and caught thefalling man. When Spade caught him the man's mouth opened and a littleblood spurted out, and the brown-wrapped parcel dropped from the man'shands and rolled across the floor until a foot of the desk stopped it.Then the man's knees bent and he bent at the waist and his thin bodybecame limber inside the sheathlike overcoat, sagging in Spade's arms sothat Spade could not hold it up from the floor.
Spade lowered the man carefully until he lay on the floor on his leftside. The man's eyes--dark and bloodshot, but not now mad--were wideopen and still. His mouth was open as when blood had spurted from it,but no more blood came from it, and all his long body was as still asthe floor it lay on.
Spade said: "Lock the door."
* * * * *
While Effie Perine, her teeth chattering, fumbled with thecorridor-door's lock Spade knelt beside the thin man, turned him over onhis back, and ran a hand down inside his overcoat. When he withdrew thehand presently it came out smeared with blood. The sight of his bloodyhand brought not the least nor briefest of changes to Spade's face.Holding that hand up where it would touch nothing, he took his lighterout of his pocket with his other hand. He snapped on the flame and heldthe flame close to first one and then the other of the thin man's eyes.The eyes--lids, balls, irises, and pupils--remained frozen, immobile.
Spade extinguished the flame and returned the lighter to his pocket. Hemoved on his knees around to the dead man's side and, using his oneclean hand, unbuttoned and opened the tubular overcoat. The inside ofthe overcoat was wet with blood and the double-breasted blue jacketbeneath it was sodden. The jacket's lapels, where they crossed over theman's chest, and both sides of his coat immediately below that point,were pierced by soggy ragged holes.
Spade rose and went to the wash-bowl in the outer office.
Effie Perine, wan and trembling and holding herself upright by means ofa hand on the corridor-door's knob and her back against its glass,whispered: "Is--is he--?"
"Yes. Shot through the chest, maybe half a dozen times." Spade began towash his hands.
"Oughtn't we--?" she began, but he cut her short: "It's too late for adoctor now and I've got to think before we do anything." He finishedwashing his hands and began to rinse the bowl. "He couldn't have comefar with those in him. If he--Why in hell couldn't he have stood up longenough to say something?" He frowned at the girl, rinsed his handsagain, and picked up a towel. "Pull yourself together. For Christ's sakedon't get sick on me now!" He threw the towel down and ran fingersthrough his hair. "We'll have a look at that bundle."
He went into the inner office again, stepped over the dead man's legs,and picked up the brown-paper-wrapped parcel. When he felt its weighthis eyes glowed. He put it on his desk, turning it over so that theknotted part of the rope was uppermost. The knot was hard and tight. Hetook out his pocket-knife and cut the rope.
The girl had left the door and, edging around the dead man with her faceturned away, had come to Spade's side. As she stood there--hands on acorner of the desk--watching him pull the rope loose and push asidebrown paper, excitement began to supplant nausea in her face. "Do youthink it is?" she whispered.
"We'll soon know," Spade said, his big fingers busy with the inner huskof coarse grey paper, three sheets thick, that the brown paper's removalhad revealed. His face was hard and dull. His eyes were shining. When hehad put the grey paper out of the way he had an egg-shaped mass of paleexcelsior, wadded tight. His fingers tore the wad apart and then he hadthe foot-high figure of a bird, black as coal and shiny where its polishwas not dulled by wood-dust and fragments of excelsior.
Spade laughed. He put a hand down on the bird. His wide-spread fingershad ownership in their curving. He put his other arm around Effie Perineand crushed her body against his. "We've got the damned thing, angel,"he said.
"Ouch!" she said, "you're hurting me."
He took his arm away from her, picked the black bird up in both hands,and shook it to dislodge clinging excelsior. Then he stepped backholding it up in front of him and blew dust off it, regarding ittriumphantly.
Effie Perine made a horrified face and screamed, pointing at his feet.
He looked down at his feet. His last backward step had brought his leftheel into contact with the dead man's hand, pinching a quarter-inch offlesh at a side of the palm between heel and floor. Spade jerked hisfoot away from the hand.
The telephone-bell rang.
He nodded at the girl. She turned to the desk and put the receiver toher ear. She said: "Hello.... Yes.... Who?... Oh, yes!" Hereyes became large. "Yes.... Yes.... Hold the line...." Hermouth suddenly stretched wide and fearful. She cried: "Hello! Hello!Hello!" She rattled the prong up and down and cried, "Hello!" twice.Then she sobbed and spun around to face Spade, who was close beside herby now. "It was Miss O'Shaughnessy," she said wildly. "She wants you.She's at the Alexandria--in danger. Her voice was--oh, it was awful,Sam!--and something happened to her before she could finish. Go helpher, Sam!"
Spade put the falcon down on the desk and scowled gloomily. "I've got totake care of this fellow first," he said, pointing his thumb at the thincorpse on the floor.
She beat his chest with her fists, crying: "No, no--you've got to go toher. Don't you see, Sam? He had the thing that was hers and he came toyou with it. Don't you see? He was helping her and they killed him andnow she's--Oh, you've got to go!"
"All right." Spade pushed her away and bent over his desk, putting theblack bird back into its nest of excelsior, bending the paper around it,working rapidly, making a larger and clumsy package. "As soon as I'vegone phone the police. Tell them how it happened, but don't drag anynames in. You don't know. I got the phone-call and I told you I had togo out, but I didn't say where." He cursed the rope for being tangled,yanked it into straightness, and began to bind the package. "Forget thisthing. Tell it as it happened, but forget he had a bundle." He chewedhis lower lip. "Unless they pin you down. If they seem to know about ityou'll have to admit it. But that's not likely. If they do then I tookthe bundle away with me, unopened." He finished tying the knot andstraightened up with the parcel under his left arm. "Get it straight,now. Everything happened the way it did happen, but without this dingusunless they already know about it. Don't deny it--just don't mention it.And I got the phone-call--not you. And you don't know anything aboutanybody else having any connection with this fellow. You don't knowanything about him and you can't talk about my business until you seeme. Got it?"
"Yes, Sam. Who--do you know who he is?"
He grinned wolfishly. "Uh-huh," he said, "but I'd guess he was CaptainJacobi, master of La Paloma." He picked up his hat and put it on. Helooked thoughtfully at the dead man and then around the room.
"Hurry, Sam," the girl begged.
"Sure," he said absent-mindedly, "I'll hurry. Might not hurt to getthose few scraps of excelsior off the floor before the police come. Andmaybe you ought to try to get hold of Sid. No." He rubbed his chin."We'll leave him out of it awhile. It'll look better. I'd keep the doorlocked till they come." He took his hand from his chin and rubbed hercheek. "You're a damned good man, sister," he said and went out.
17. Saturday Night
Carrying the parcel lightly under his arm, walking briskly, with onlythe ceaseless shifting of his eyes to denote wariness, Spade went,partly by way of an alley and a narrow court, from his office-buildingto Kearny and Post Streets, where he hailed a passing taxicab.
The taxicab carried him to the Pickwick Stage terminal in Fifth Street.He checked the bird at the Parcel Room there, put the check into astamped envelope, wrote M. F. Holland and a San Francisco Post Officebox-number on the envelope, sealed it, and dropped it into a mail-box.From the stage-terminal another taxicab carried him to the AlexandriaHotel.
Spade went up to suite 12-C and knocked on the door. The door wasopened, when he had knocked a second time, by a small fair-haired girlin a shimmering yellow dressing-gown--a small girl whose face was whiteand dim and who clung desperately to the inner doorknob with both handsand gasped: "Mr. Spade?"
Spade said, "Yes," and caught her as she swayed.
Her body arched back over his arm and her head dropped straight back sothat her short fair hair hung down her scalp and her slender throat wasa firm curve from chin to chest.
Spade slid his supporting arm higher up her back and bent to get hisother arm under her knees, but she stirred then, resisting, and betweenparted lips that barely moved blurred words came: "No! Ma' me wa'!"
Spade made her walk. He kicked the door shut and he walked her up anddown the green-carpeted room from wall to wall. One of his arms aroundher small body, that hand under her armpit, his other hand gripping herother arm, held her erect when she stumbled, checked her swaying, kepturging her forward, but made her tottering legs bear all her weight theycould bear. They walked across and across the floor, the girlfalteringly, with incoördinate steps, Spade surely on the balls of hisfeet with balance unaffected by her staggering. Her face was chalk-whiteand eyeless, his sullen, with eyes hardened to watch everywhere at once.
He talked to her monotonously: "That's the stuff. Left, right, left,right. That's the stuff. One, two, three, four, one, two, three, now weturn." He shook her as they turned from the wall. "Now back again. One,two, three, four. Hold your head up. That's the stuff. Good girl. Left,right, left, right. Now we turn again." He shook her again. "That's thegirl. Walk, walk, walk, walk. One, two, three, four. Now we go around."He shook her, more roughly, and increased their pace. "That's the trick.Left, right, left, right. We're in a hurry. One, two, three...."
She shuddered and swallowed audibly. Spade began to chafe her arm andside and he put his mouth nearer her ear. "That's fine. You're doingfine. One, two, three, four. Faster, faster, faster, faster. That's it.Step, step, step, step. Pick them up and lay them down. That's thestuff. Now we turn. Left, right, left, right. What'd they do--dope you?The same stuff they gave me?"
Her eyelids twitched up then for an instant over dulled golden-browneyes and she managed to say all of "Yes" except the final consonant.
They walked the floor, the girl almost trotting now to keep up withSpade, Spade slapping and kneading her flesh through yellow silk withboth hands, talking and talking while his eyes remained hard and aloofand watchful. "Left, right, left, right, left, right, turn. That's thegirl. One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. Keep the chin up.That's the stuff. One, two..."
Her lids lifted again a bare fraction of an inch and under them her eyesmoved weakly from side to side.
"That's fine," he said in a crisp voice, dropping his monotone. "Keepthem open. Open them wide--wide!" He shook her.
She moaned in protest, but her lids went farther up, though her eyeswere without inner light. He raised his hand and slapped her cheek halfa dozen times in quick succession. She moaned again and tried to breakaway from him. His arm held her and swept her along beside him from wallto wall.
"Keep walking," he ordered in a harsh voice, and then: "Who are you?"
Her "Rhea Gutman" was thick but intelligible.
"Yes." Now she was no farther from the final consonant than sh.
She twisted convulsively around in his arms and caught at one of hishands with both of hers. He pulled his hand away quickly and looked atit. Across its back was a thin red scratch an inch and a half or more inlength.
"What the hell?" he growled and examined her hands. Her left hand wasempty. In her right hand, when he forced it open, lay a three-inchjade-headed steel bouquet-pin. "What the hell?" he growled again andheld the pin up in front of her eyes.
When she saw the pin she whimpered and opened her dressing-gown. Shepushed aside the cream-colored pajama-coat under it and showed him herbody below her left breast--white flesh criss-crossed with thin redlines, dotted with tiny red dots, where the pin had scratched andpunctured it. "To stay awake... walk... till you came.... Shesaid you'd come... were so long." She swayed.
Spade tightened his arm around her and said: "Walk."
She fought against his arm, squirming around to face him again."No... tell you... sleep... save her..."
"Brigid?" he demanded.
"Yes... took her... Bur-Burlingame... twenty-six Ancho...hurry... too late..." Her head fell over on her shoulder.
Spade pushed her head up roughly. "Who took her there? Your father?"
"Yes... Wilmer... Cairo." She writhed and her eyelids twitched butdid not open. "...kill her." Her head fell over again, and again hepushed it up.
"Who shot Jacobi?"
She did not seem to hear the question. She tried pitifully to hold herhead up, to open her eyes. She mumbled: "Go... she..."
He shook her brutally. "Stay awake till the doctor comes."
Fear opened her eyes and pushed for a moment the cloudiness from herface. "No, no," she cried thickly, "father... kill me... swear youwon't... he'd know... I did... for her... promise...won't... sleep... all right... morning..."
He shook her again. "You're sure you can sleep the stuff off all right?"
"Ye'." Her head fell down again.
"Where's your bed?"
She tried to raise a hand, but the effort had become too much for herbefore the hand pointed at anything except the carpet. With the sigh ofa tired child she let her whole body relax and crumple.
Spade caught her up in his arms--scooped her up as she sank--and,holding her easily against his chest, went to the nearest of the threedoors. He turned the knob far enough to release the catch, pushed thedoor open with his foot, and went into a passageway that ran past anopen bathroom-door to a bedroom. He looked into the bathroom, saw it wasempty, and carried the girl into the bedroom. Nobody was there. Theclothing that was in sight and things on the chiffonier said it was aman's room.
Spade carried the girl back to the green-carpeted room and tried theopposite door. Through it he passed into another passageway, pastanother empty bathroom, and into a bedroom that was feminine in itsaccessories. He turned back the bedclothes and laid the girl on the bed,removed her slippers, raised her a little to slide the yellowdressing-gown off, fixed a pillow under her head, and put the covers upover her.
Then he opened the room's two windows and stood with his back to themstaring at the sleeping girl. Her breathing was heavy but not troubled.He frowned and looked around, working his lips together. Twilight wasdimming the room. He stood there in the weakening light for perhaps fiveminutes. Finally he shook his thick sloping shoulders impatiently andwent out, leaving the suite's outer door unlocked.
* * * * *
Spade went to the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company's station inPowell Street and called Davenport 2020. "Emergency Hospital,please.... Hello, there's a girl in suite twelve C at the AlexandriaHotel who has been drugged.... Yes, you'd better send somebody totake a look at her.... This is Mr. Hooper of the Alexandria."
He put the receiver on its prong and laughed. He called another numberand said: "Hello, Frank. This is Sam Spade.... Can you let me have acar with a driver who'll keep his mouth shut?... To go down thepeninsula right away.... Just a couple of hours.... Right. Havehim pick me up at John's, Ellis Street, as soon as he can make it."
He called another number--his office's--held the receiver to his ear fora little while without saying anything, and replaced it on its hook.
He went to John's Grill, asked the waiter to hurry his order of chops,baked potato, and sliced tomatoes, ate hurriedly, and was smoking acigarette with his coffee when a thick-set youngish man with a plaid capset askew above pale eyes and a tough cheery face came into the Grilland to his table.
"All set, Mr. Spade. She's full of gas and rearing to go."
"Swell." Spade emptied his cup and went out with the thick-set man."Know where Ancho Avenue, or Road, or Boulevard, is in Burlingame?"
"Nope, but if she's there we can find her."
"Let's do that," Spade said as he sat beside the chauffeur in the darkCadillac sedan. "Twenty-six is the number we want, and the sooner thebetter, but we don't want to pull up at the front door."
They rode half a dozen blocks in silence. The chauffeur said: "Yourpartner got knocked off, didn't he, Mr. Spade?"
The chauffeur clucked. "She's a tough racket. You can have it for mine."
"Well, hack-drivers don't live forever."
"Maybe that's right," the thick-set man conceded, "but, just the same,it'll always be a surprise to me if I don't."
Spade stared ahead at nothing and thereafter, until the chauffeur tiredof making conversation, replied with uninterested yeses and noes.
* * * * *
At a drug-store in Burlingame the chauffeur learned how to reach AnchoAvenue. Ten minutes later he stopped the sedan near a dark corner,turned off the lights, and waved his hand at the block ahead. "There sheis," he said. "She ought to be on the other side, maybe the third orfourth house."
Spade said, "Right," and got out of the car. "Keep the engine going. Wemay have to leave in a hurry."
He crossed the street and went up the other side. Far ahead a lonestreet-light burned. Warmer lights dotted the night on either side wherehouses were spaced half a dozen to a block. A high thin moon was coldand feeble as the distant street-light. A radio droned through the openwindows of a house on the other side of the street.
In front of the second house from the corner Spade halted. On one of thegateposts that were massive out of all proportion to the fence flankingthem a 2 and a 6 of pale metal caught what light there was. A squarewhite card was nailed over them. Putting his face close to the card,Spade could see that it was a For Sale or Rent sign. There was no gatebetween the posts. Spade went up the cement walk to the house. He stoodstill on the walk at the foot of the porch-steps for a long moment. Nosound came from the house. The house was dark except for another palesquare card nailed on its door.
Spade went up to the door and listened. He could hear nothing. He triedto look through the glass of the door. There was no curtain to keep hisgaze out, but inner darkness. He tiptoed to a window and then toanother. They, like the door, were uncurtained except by inner darkness.He tried both windows. They were locked. He tried the door. It waslocked.
He left the porch and, stepping carefully over dark unfamiliar ground,walked through weeds around the house. The side-windows were too high tobe reached from the ground. The back door and the one back window hecould reach were locked.
Spade went back to the gatepost and, cupping the flame between hishands, held his lighter up to the For Sale or Rent sign. It bore theprinted name and address of a San Mateo real-estate-dealer and a linepenciled in blue: Key at 31.
Spade returned to the sedan and asked the chauffeur: "Got a flashlight?"
"Sure." He gave it to Spade. "Can I give you a hand at anything?"
"Maybe." Spade got into the sedan. "We'll ride up to number thirty-one.You can use your lights."
Number 31 was a square grey house across the street from, but a littlefarther up than, 26. Lights glowed in its downstairs-windows. Spade wentup on the porch and rang the bell. A dark-haired girl of fourteen orfifteen opened the door. Spade, bowing and smiling, said: "I'd like toget the key to number twenty-six."
"I'll call Papa," she said and went back into the house calling: "Papa!"
A plump red-faced man, bald-headed and heavily mustached, appeared,carrying a newspaper.
Spade said: "I'd like to get the key to twenty-six."
The plump man looked doubtful. He said: "The juice is not on. Youcouldn't see anything."
Spade patted his pocket. "I've a flashlight."
The plump man looked more doubtful. He cleared his throat uneasily andcrumpled the newspaper in his hand.
Spade showed him one of his business-cards, put it back in his pocket,and said in a low voice: "We got a tip that there might be somethinghidden there."
The plump man's face and voice were eager. "Wait a minute," he said."I'll go over with you."
A moment later he came back carrying a brass key attached to a black andred tag. Spade beckoned to the chauffeur as they passed the car and thechauffeur joined them.
"Anybody been looking at the house lately?" Spade asked.
"Not that I know of," the plump man replied. "Nobody's been to me forthe key in a couple of months."
The plump man marched ahead with the key until they had gone up on theporch. Then he thrust the key into Spade's hand, mumbled, "Here youare," and stepped aside.
Spade unlocked the door and pushed it open. There was silence anddarkness. Holding the flashlight--dark--in his left hand, Spade entered.The chauffeur came close behind him and then, at a little distance, theplump man followed them. They searched the house from bottom to top,cautiously at first, then, finding nothing, boldly. The house wasempty--unmistakably--and there was nothing to indicate that it had beenvisited in weeks.
* * * * *
Saying, "Thanks, that's all," Spade left the sedan in front of theAlexandria. He went into the hotel, to the desk, where a tall young manwith a dark grave face said: "Good evening, Mr. Spade."
"Good evening." Spade drew the young man to one end of the desk. "TheseGutmans--up in twelve C--are they in?"
The young man replied, "No," darting a quick glance at Spade. Then helooked away, hesitated, looked at Spade again, and murmured: "A funnything happened in connection with them this evening, Mr. Spade. Somebodycalled the Emergency Hospital and told them there was a sick girl upthere."
"And there wasn't?"
"Oh, no, there was nobody up there. They went out earlier in theevening."
Spade said: "Well, these practical-jokers have to have their fun.Thanks."
He went to a telephone-booth, called a number, and said: "Hello....Mrs. Perine?... Is Effie there?... Yes, please.... Thanks.
"Hello, angel! What's the good word?... Fine, fine! Hold it. I'll beout in twenty minutes.... Right."
* * * * *
Half an hour later Spade rang the doorbell of a two-story brick buildingin Ninth Avenue. Effie Perine opened the door. Her boyish face was tiredand smiling. "Hello, boss," she said. "Enter." She said in a low voice:"If Ma says anything to you, Sam, be nice to her. She's all up in theair."
Spade grinned reassuringly and patted her shoulder.
She put her hands on his arm. "Miss O'Shaughnessy?"
"No," he growled. "I ran into a plant. Are you sure it was her voice?"
He made an unpleasant face. "Well, it was hooey."
She took him into a bright living-room, sighed, and slumped down on oneend of a Chesterfield, smiling cheerfully up at him through herweariness.
He sat beside her and asked: "Everything went O K? Nothing said aboutthe bundle?"
"Nothing. I told them what you told me to tell them, and they seemed totake it for granted that the phone-call had something to do with it, andthat you were out running it down."
"No. Hoff and O'Gar and some others I didn't know. I talked to theCaptain too."
"They took you down to the Hall?"
"Oh, yes, and they asked me loads of questions, but it was all--youknow--routine."
Spade rubbed his palms together. "Swell," he said and then frowned,"though I guess they'll think up plenty to put to me when we meet. Thatdamned Dundy will, anyway, and Bryan." He moved his shoulders. "Anybodyyou know, outside of the police, come around?"
"Yes." She sat up straight. "That boy--the one who brought the messagefrom Gutman--was there. He didn't come in, but the police left thecorridor-door open while they were there and I saw him standing there."
"You didn't say anything?"
"Oh, no. You had said not to. So I didn't pay any attention to him andthe next time I looked he was gone."
Spade grinned at her. "Damned lucky for you, sister, that the coppersgot there first."
"He's a bad egg, that lad--poison. Was the dead man Jacobi?"
He pressed her hands and stood up. "I'm going to run along. You'd betterhit the hay. You're all in."
She rose. "Sam, what is--?"
He stopped her words with his hand on her mouth. "Save it till Monday,"he said. "I want to sneak out before your mother catches me and gives mehell for dragging her lamb through gutters."
* * * * *
Midnight was a few minutes away when Spade reached his home. He put hiskey into the street-door's lock. Heels clicked rapidly on the sidewalkbehind him. He let go the key and wheeled. Brigid O'Shaughnessy ran upthe steps to him. She put her arms around him and hung on him, panting:"Oh, I thought you'd never come!" Her face was haggard, distraught,shaken by the tremors that shook her from head to foot.
With the hand not supporting her he felt for the key again, opened thedoor, and half lifted her inside. "You've been waiting?" he asked.
"Yes." Panting spaced her words. "In a--doorway--up the--street."
"Can you make it all right?" he asked. "Or shall I carry you?"
She shook her head against his shoulder. "I'll be--all right--whenI--get where--I can--sit down."
They rode up to Spade's floor in the elevator and went around to hisapartment. She left his arm and stood beside him--panting, both hands toher breast--while he unlocked his door. He switched on the passagewaylight. They went in. He shut the door and, with his arm around heragain, took her back towards the living-room. When they were within astep of the living-room-door the light in the living-room went on.
The girl cried out and clung to Spade.
Just inside the living-room-door fat Gutman stood smiling benevolentlyat them. The boy Wilmer came out of the kitchen behind them. Blackpistols were gigantic in his small hands. Cairo came from the bathroom.He too had a pistol.
Gutman said: "Well, sir, we're all here, as you can see for yourself.Now let's come in and sit down and be comfortable and talk."
18. The Fall-Guy
Spade, with his arms around Brigid O'Shaughnessy, smiled meagerly overher head and said: "Sure, we'll talk."
Gutman's bulbs jounced as he took three waddling backward steps awayfrom the door.
Spade and the girl went in together. The boy and Cairo followed them in.Cairo stopped in the doorway. The boy put away one of his pistols andcame up close behind Spade.
Spade turned his head far around to look down over his shoulder at theboy and said: "Get away. You're not going to frisk me."
The boy said: "Stand still. Shut up."
Spade's nostrils went in and out with his breathing. His voice waslevel. "Get away. Put your paw on me and I'm going to make you use thegun. Ask your boss if he wants me shot up before we talk."
"Never mind, Wilmer," the fat man said. He frowned indulgently at Spade."You are certainly a most headstrong individual. Well, let's be seated."
Spade said, "I told you I didn't like that punk," and took BrigidO'Shaughnessy to the sofa by the windows. They sat close together, herhead against his left shoulder, his left arm around her shoulders. Shehad stopped trembling, had stopped panting. The appearance of Gutman andhis companions seemed to have robbed her of that freedom of personalmovement and emotion that is animal, leaving her alive, conscious, butquiescent as a plant.
Gutman lowered himself into the padded rocking chair. Cairo chose thearmchair by the table. The boy Wilmer did not sit down. He stood in thedoorway where Cairo had stood, letting his one visible pistol hang downat his side, looking under curling lashes at Spade's body. Cairo put hispistol on the table beside him.
Spade took off his hat and tossed it to the other end of the sofa. Hegrinned at Gutman. The looseness of his lower lip and the droop of hisupper eyelids combined with the v's in his face to make his grin lewd asa satyr's. "That daughter of yours has a nice belly," he said, "too niceto be scratched up with pins."
Gutman's smile was affable if a bit oily.
The boy in the doorway took a short step forward, raising his pistol asfar as his hip. Everybody in the room looked at him. In the dissimilareyes with which Brigid O'Shaughnessy and Joel Cairo looked at him therewas, oddly, something identically reproving. The boy blushed, drew backhis advanced foot, straightened his legs, lowered the pistol and stoodas he had stood before, looking under lashes that hid his eyes atSpade's chest. The blush was pale enough and lasted for only an instant,but it was startling on his face that habitually was so cold andcomposed.
Gutman turned his sleek-eyed fat smile on Spade again. His voice was asuave purring. "Yes, sir, that was a shame, but you must admit that itserved its purpose."
Spade's brows twitched together. "Anything would've," he said."Naturally I wanted to see you as soon as I had the falcon. Cashcustomers--why not? I went to Burlingame expecting to run into this sortof a meeting. I didn't know you were blundering around, half an hourlate, trying to get me out of the way so you could find Jacobi againbefore he found me."
Gutman chuckled. His chuckle seemed to hold nothing but satisfaction."Well, sir," he said, "in any case, here we are having our littlemeeting, if that's what you wanted."
"That's what I wanted. How soon are you ready to make the first paymentand take the falcon off my hands?"
Brigid O'Shaughnessy sat up straight and looked at Spade with surprisedblue eyes. He patted her shoulder inattentively. His eyes were steady onGutman's. Gutman's twinkled merrily between sheltering fat-puffs. Hesaid: "Well, sir, as to that," and put a hand inside the breast of hiscoat.
Cairo, hands on thighs, leaned forward in his chair, breathing betweenparted soft lips. His dark eyes had the surface-shine of lacquer. Theyshifted their focus warily from Spade's face to Gutman's, from Gutman'sto Spade's.
Gutman repeated, "Well, sir, as to that," and took a white envelope fromhis pocket. Ten eyes--the boy's now only half obscured by hislashes--looked at the envelope. Turning the envelope over in his swollenhands, Gutman studied for a moment its blank white front and then itsback, unsealed, with the flap tucked in. He raised his head, smiledamiably, and scaled the envelope at Spade's lap.
The envelope, though not bulky, was heavy enough to fly true. It struckthe lower part of Spade's chest and dropped down on his thighs. Hepicked it up deliberately and opened it deliberately, using both hands,having taken his left arm from around the girl. The contents of theenvelope were thousand-dollar bills, smooth and stiff and new. Spadetook them out and counted them. There were ten of them. Spade looked upsmiling. He said mildly: "We were talking about more money than this."
"Yes, sir, we were," Gutman agreed, "but we were talking then. This isactual money, genuine coin of the realm, sir. With a dollar of this youcan buy more than with ten dollars of talk." Silent laughter shook hisbulbs. When their commotion stopped he said more seriously, yet notaltogether seriously: "There are more of us to be taken care of now." Hemoved his twinkling eyes and his fat head to indicate Cairo. "And--well,sir, in short--the situation has changed."
While Gutman talked Spade had tapped the edges of the ten bills intoalignment and returned them to their envelope, tucking the flap in overthem. Now, with forearms on knees, he sat hunched forward, dangling theenvelope from a corner held lightly by finger and thumb down between hislegs. His reply to the fat man was careless: "Sure. You're together now,but I've got the falcon."
Joel Cairo spoke. Ugly hands grasping the arms of his chair, he leanedforward and said primly in his high-pitched thin voice: "I shouldn'tthink it would be necessary to remind you, Mr. Spade, that though youmay have the falcon yet we certainly have you."
Spade grinned. "I'm trying to not let that worry me," he said. He sat upstraight, put the envelope aside--on the sofa--and addressed Gutman:"We'll come back to the money later. There's another thing that's got tobe taken care of first. We've got to have a fall-guy."
The fat man frowned without comprehension, but before he could speakSpade was explaining: "The police have got to have a victim--somebodythey can stick for those three murders. We--"
Cairo, speaking in a brittle excited voice, interrupted Spade."Two--only two--murders, Mr. Spade. Thursby undoubtedly killed yourpartner."
"All right, two," Spade growled. "What difference does that make? Thepoint is we've got to feed the police some--"
Now Gutman broke in, smiling confidently, talking with good-naturedassurance: "Well, sir, from what we've seen and heard of you I don'tthink we'll have to bother ourselves about that. We can leave thehandling of the police to you, all right. You won't need any of ourinexpert help."
"If that's what you think," Spade said, "you haven't seen or heardenough."
"Now come, Mr. Spade. You can't expect us to believe at this late datethat you are the least bit afraid of the police, or that you are notquite able to handle--"
Spade snorted with throat and nose. He bent forward, resting forearms onknees again, and interrupted Gutman irritably: "I'm not a damned bitafraid of them and I know how to handle them. That's what I'm trying totell you. The way to handle them is to toss them a victim, somebody theycan hang the works on."
"Well, sir, I grant you that's one way of doing it, but--"
"'But' hell!" Spade said. "It's the only way." His eyes were hot andearnest under a reddening forehead. The bruise on his temple wasliver-colored. "I know what I'm talking about. I've been through it allbefore and expect to go through it again. At one time or another I'vehad to tell everybody from the Supreme Court down to go to hell, andI've got away with it. I got away with it because I never let myselfforget that a day of reckoning was coming. I never forget that when theday of reckoning comes I want to be all set to march into headquarterspushing a victim in front of me, saying: 'Here, you chumps, is yourcriminal.' As long as I can do that I can put my thumb to my nose andwriggle my fingers at all the laws in the book. The first time I can'tdo it my name's Mud. There hasn't been a first time yet. This isn'tgoing to be it. That's flat."
Gutman's eyes flickered and their sleekness became dubious, but he heldhis other features in their bulbous pink smiling complacent cast andthere was nothing of uneasiness in his voice. He said: "That's a systemthat's got a lot to recommend it, sir--by Gad, it has! And if it wasanyway practical this time I'd be the first to say: 'Stick to it by allmeans, sir.' But this just happens to be a case where it's not possible.That's the way it is with the best of systems. There comes a time whenyou've got to make exceptions, and a wise man just goes ahead and makesthem. Well, sir, that's just the way it is in this case and I don't mindtelling you that I think you're being very well paid for making anexception. Now maybe it will be a little more trouble to you than if youhad your victim to hand over to the police, but"--he laughed and spreadhis hands--"you're not a man that's afraid of a little bit of trouble.You know how to do things and you know you'll land on your feet in theend, no matter what happens." He pursed his lips and partly closed oneeye. "You'll manage that, sir."
Spade's eyes had lost their warmth. His face was dull and lumpy. "I knowwhat I'm talking about," he said in a low, consciously patient, tone."This is my city and my game. I could manage to land on myfeet--sure--this time, but the next time I tried to put over a fast onethey'd stop me so fast I'd swallow my teeth. Hell with that. Youbirds'll be in New York or Constantinople or some place else. I'm inbusiness here."
"But surely," Gutman began, "you can--"
"I can't," Spade said earnestly. "I won't. I mean it." He sat upstraight. A pleasant smile illuminated his face, erasing its dulllumpishness. He spoke rapidly in an agreeable, persuasive tone: "Listento me, Gutman. I'm telling you what's best for all of us. If we don'tgive the police a fall-guy it's ten to one they'll sooner or laterstumble on information about the falcon. Then you'll have to duck forcover with it--no matter where you are--and that's not going to help youmake a fortune off it. Give them a fall-guy and they'll stop rightthere."
"Well, sir, that's just the point," Gutman replied, and still only inhis eyes was uneasiness faintly apparent. "Will they stop right there?Or won't the fall-guy be a fresh clue that as likely as not will leadthem to information about the falcon? And, on the other hand, wouldn'tyou say they were stopped right now, and that the best thing for us todo is leave well enough alone?"
A forked vein began to swell in Spade's forehead. "Jesus! you don't knowwhat it's all about either," he said in a restrained tone. "They're notasleep, Gutman. They're lying low, waiting. Try to get that. I'm in itup to my neck and they know it. That's all right as long as I dosomething when the time comes. But it won't be all right if I don't."His voice became persuasive again. "Listen, Gutman, we've absolutely gotto give them a victim. There's no way out of it. Let's give them thepunk." He nodded pleasantly at the boy in the doorway. "He actually didshoot both of them--Thursby and Jacobi--didn't he? Anyway, he's made toorder for the part. Let's pin the necessary evidence on him and turn himover to them."
The boy in the doorway tightened the corners of his mouth in what mayhave been a minute smile. Spade's proposal seemed to have no othereffect on him. Joel Cairo's dark face was open-mouthed, open-eyed,yellowish, and amazed. He breathed through his mouth, his roundeffeminate chest rising and falling, while he gaped at Spade. BrigidO'Shaughnessy had moved away from Spade and had twisted herself aroundon the sofa to stare at him. There was a suggestion of hystericallaughter behind the startled confusion in her face.
Gutman remained still and expressionless for a long moment. Then hedecided to laugh. He laughed heartily and lengthily, not stopping untilhis sleek eyes had borrowed merriment from his laughter. When he stoppedlaughing he said: "By Gad, sir, you're a character, that you are!" Hetook a white handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his eyes. "Yes, sir,there's never any telling what you'll do or say next, except that it'sbound to be something astonishing."
"There's nothing funny about it." Spade did not seem offended by the fatman's laughter, nor in any way impressed. He spoke in the manner of onereasoning with a recalcitrant, but not altogether unreasonable, friend."It's our best bet. With him in their hands, the police will--"
"But, my dear man," Gutman objected, "can't you see? If I even for amoment thought of doing it--But that's ridiculous too. I feel towardsWilmer just exactly as if he were my own son. I really do. But if I evenfor a moment thought of doing what you propose, what in the world do youthink would keep Wilmer from telling the police every last detail aboutthe falcon and all of us?"
Spade grinned with stiff lips. "If we had to," he said softly, "we couldhave him killed resisting arrest. But we won't have to go that far. Lethim talk his head off. I promise you nobody'll do anything about it.That's easy enough to fix."
The pink flesh on Gutman's forehead crawled in a frown. He lowered hishead, mashing his chins together over his collar, and asked: "How?"Then, with an abruptness that set all his fat bulbs to quivering andtumbling against one another, he raised his head, squirmed around tolook at the boy, and laughed uproariously. "What do you think of this,Wilmer? It's funny, eh?"
The boy's eyes were cold hazel gleams under his lashes. He said in a lowdistinct voice: "Yes, it's funny--the son of a bitch."
Spade was talking to Brigid O'Shaughnessy: "How do you feel now, angel?Any better?"
"Yes, much better, only"--she reduced her voice until the last wordswould have been unintelligible two feet away--"I'm frightened."
"Don't be," he said carelessly and put a hand on her grey-stockingedknee. "Nothing very bad's going to happen. Want a drink?"
"Not now, thanks." Her voice sank again. "Be careful, Sam."
Spade grinned and looked at Gutman, who was looking at him. The fat mansmiled genially, saying nothing for a moment, and then asked: "How?"
Spade was stupid. "How what?"
The fat man considered more laughter necessary then, and an explanation:"Well, sir, if you're really serious about this--this suggestion ofyours, the least we can do in common politeness is to hear you out. Nowhow are you going about fixing it so that Wilmer"--he paused here tolaugh again--"won't be able to do us any harm?"
Spade shook his head. "No," he said, "I wouldn't want to take advantageof anybody's politeness, no matter how common, like that. Forget it."
The fat man puckered up his facial bulbs. "Now come, come," heprotested, "you make me decidedly uncomfortable. I shouldn't havelaughed, and I apologize most humbly and sincerely. I wouldn't want toseem to ridicule anything you'd suggest, Mr. Spade, regardless of howmuch I disagreed with you, for you must know that I have the greatestrespect and admiration for your astuteness. Now mind you, I don't seehow this suggestion of yours can be in any way practical--even leavingout the fact that I couldn't feel any different towards Wilmer if he wasmy own flesh and blood--but I'll consider it a personal favor as well asa sign that you've accepted my apologies, sir, if you'll go ahead andoutline the rest of it."
"Fair enough," Spade said. "Bryan is like most district attorneys. He'smore interested in how his record will look on paper than in anythingelse. He'd rather drop a doubtful case than try it and have it goagainst him. I don't know that he ever deliberately framed anybody hebelieved innocent, but I can't imagine him letting himself believe theminnocent if he could scrape up, or twist into shape, proof of theirguilt. To be sure of convicting one man he'll let half a dozen equallyguilty accomplices go free--if trying to convict them all might confusehis case.
"That's the choice we'll give him and he'll gobble it up. He wouldn'twant to know about the falcon. He'll be tickled pink to persuade himselfthat anything the punk tells him about it is a lot of chewing-gum, anattempt to muddle things up. Leave that end to me. I can show him thatif he starts fooling around trying to gather up everybody he's going tohave a tangled case that no jury will be able to make heads or tails of,while if he sticks to the punk he can get a conviction standing on hishead."
Gutman wagged his head sidewise in a slow smiling gesture of benigndisapproval. "No, sir," he said, "I'm afraid that won't do, won't do atall. I don't see how even this District Attorney of yours can linkThursby and Jacobi and Wilmer together without having to--"
"You don't know district attorneys," Spade told him. "The Thursby angleis easy. He was a gunman and so's your punk. Bryan's already got atheory about that. There'll be no catch there. Well, Christ! they canonly hang the punk once. Why try him for Jacobi's murder after he's beenconvicted of Thursby's? They simply close the record by writing it upagainst him and let it go at that. If, as is likely enough, he used thesame gun on both, the bullets will match up. Everybody will besatisfied."
"Yes, but--" Gutman began, and stopped to look at the boy.
The boy advanced from the doorway, walking stiff-legged, with his legsapart, until he was between Gutman and Cairo, almost in the center ofthe floor. He halted there, leaning forward slightly from the waist, hisshoulders raised towards the front. The pistol in his hand still hung athis side, but his knuckles were white over its grip. His other hand wasa small hard fist down at his other side. The indelible youngness of hisface gave an indescribably vicious--and inhuman--turn to the white-hothatred and the cold white malevolence in his face. He said to Spade in avoice cramped by passion: "You bastard, get up on your feet and go foryour heater!"
Spade smiled at the boy. His smile was not broad, but the amusement init seemed genuine and unalloyed.
The boy said: "You bastard, get up and shoot it out if you've got theguts. I've taken all the riding from you I'm going to take."
The amusement in Spade's smile deepened. He looked at Gutman and said:"Young Wild West." His voice matched his smile. "Maybe you ought to tellhim that shooting me before you get your hands on the falcon would bebad for business."
Gutman's attempt at a smile was not successful, but he kept theresultant grimace on his mottled face. He licked dry lips with a drytongue. His voice was too hoarse and gritty for the paternallyadmonishing tone it tried to achieve. "Now, now, Wilmer," he said, "wecan't have any of that. You shouldn't let yourself attach so muchimportance to these things. You--"
The boy, not taking his eyes from Spade, spoke in a choked voice out theside of his mouth: "Make him lay off me then. I'm going to fog him if hekeeps it up and there won't be anything that'll stop me from doing it."
"Now, Wilmer," Gutman said and turned to Spade. His face and voice wereunder control now. "Your plan is, sir, as I said in the first place, notat all practical. Let's not say anything more about it."
Spade looked from one of them to the other. He had stopped smiling. Hisface held no expression at all. "I say what I please," he told them.
"You certainly do," Gutman said quickly, "and that's one of the thingsI've always admired in you. But this matter is, as I say, not at allpractical, so there's not the least bit of use of discussing it anyfurther, as you can see for yourself."
"I can't see it for myself," Spade said, "and you haven't made me seeit, and I don't think you can." He frowned at Gutman. "Let's get thisstraight. Am I wasting time talking to you? I thought this was yourshow. Should I do my talking to the punk? I know how to do that."
"No, sir," Gutman replied, "you're quite right in dealing with me."
Spade said: "All right. Now I've got another suggestion. It's not asgood as the first, but it's better than nothing. Want to hear it?"
"Give them Cairo."
Cairo hastily picked up his pistol from the table beside him. He held ittight in his lap with both hands. Its muzzle pointed at the floor alittle to one side of the sofa. His face had become yellowish again. Hisblack eyes darted their gaze from face to face. The opaqueness of hiseyes made them seem flat, two-dimensional.
Gutman, looking as if he could not believe he had heard what he hadheard, asked: "Do what?"
"Give the police Cairo."
Gutman seemed about to laugh, but he did not laugh. Finally heexclaimed: "Well, by Gad, sir!" in an uncertain tone.
"It's not as good as giving them the punk," Spade said. "Cairo's not agunman and he carries a smaller gun than Thursby and Jacobi were shotwith. We'll have to go to more trouble framing him, but that's betterthan not giving the police anybody."
Cairo cried in a voice shrill with indignation: "Suppose we give themyou, Mr. Spade, or Miss O'Shaughnessy? How about that if you're so seton giving them somebody?"
Spade smiled at the Levantine and answered him evenly: "You people wantthe falcon. I've got it. A fall-guy is part of the price I'm asking. Asfor Miss O'Shaughnessy"--his dispassionate glance moved to her whiteperplexed face and then back to Cairo and his shoulders rose and fell afraction of an inch--"if you think she can be rigged for the part I'mperfectly willing to discuss it with you."
The girl put her hands to her throat, uttered a short strangled cry, andmoved farther away from him.
Cairo, his face and body twitching with excitement, exclaimed: "You seemto forget that you are not in a position to insist on anything."
Spade laughed, a harsh derisive snort.
Gutman said, in a voice that tried to make firmness ingratiating: "Comenow, gentlemen, let's keep our discussion on a friendly basis; but therecertainly is"--he was addressing Spade--"something in what Mr. Cairosays. You must take into consideration the--"
"Like hell I must." Spade flung his words out with a brutal sort ofcarelessness that gave them more weight than they could have got fromdramatic emphasis or from loudness. "If you kill me, how are you goingto get the bird? If I know you can't afford to kill me till you have it,how are you going to scare me into giving it to you?"
Gutman cocked his head to the left and considered these questions. Hiseyes twinkled between puckered lids. Presently he gave his genialanswer: "Well, sir, there are other means of persuasion besides killingand threatening to kill."
"Sure," Spade agreed, "but they're not much good unless the threat ofdeath is behind them to hold the victim down. See what I mean? If youtry anything I don't like I won't stand for it. I'll make it a matter ofyour having to call it off or kill me, knowing you can't afford to killme."
"I see what you mean." Gutman chuckled. "That is an attitude, sir, thatcalls for the most delicate judgment on both sides, because, as youknow, sir, men are likely to forget in the heat of action where theirbest interest lies and let their emotions carry them away."
Spade too was all smiling blandness. "That's the trick, from my side,"he said, "to make my play strong enough that it ties you up, but yet notmake you mad enough to bump me off against your better judgment."
Gutman said fondly: "By Gad, sir, you are a character!"
Joel Cairo jumped up from his chair and went around behind the boy andbehind Gutman's chair. He bent over the back of Gutman's chair and,screening his mouth and the fat man's ear with his empty hand,whispered. Gutman listened attentively, shutting his eyes.
Spade grinned at Brigid O'Shaughnessy. Her lips smiled feebly inresponse, but there was no change in her eyes; they did not lose theirnumb stare. Spade turned to the boy: "Two to one they're selling youout, son."
The boy did not say anything. A trembling in his knees began to shakethe knees of his trousers.
Spade addressed Gutman: "I hope you're not letting yourself beinfluenced by the guns these pocket-edition desperadoes are waving."
Gutman opened his eyes. Cairo stopped whispering and stood erect behindthe fat man's chair.
Spade said: "I've practiced taking them away from both of them, sothere'll be no trouble there. The punk is--"
In a voice choked horribly by emotion the boy cried, "All right!" andjerked his pistol up in front of his chest.
Gutman flung a fat hand out at the boy's wrist, caught the wrist, andbore it and the gun down while Gutman's fat body was rising in hastefrom the rocking chair. Joel Cairo scurried around to the boy's otherside and grasped his other arm. They wrestled with the boy, forcing hisarms down, holding them down, while he struggled futilely against them.Words came out of the struggling group: fragments of the boy'sincoherent speech--"right... go... bastard... smoke"--Gutman's"Now, now, Wilmer!" repeated many times; Cairo's "No, please, don't" and"Don't do that, Wilmer."
Wooden-faced, dreamy-eyed, Spade got up from the sofa and went over tothe group. The boy, unable to cope with the weight against him, hadstopped struggling. Cairo, still holding the boy's arm, stood partly infront of him, talking to him soothingly. Spade pushed Cairo aside gentlyand drove his left fist against the boy's chin. The boy's head snappedback as far as it could while his arms were held, and then came forward.Gutman began a desperate "Here, what--?" Spade drove his right fistagainst the boy's chin.
Cairo dropped the boy's arm, letting him collapse against Gutman's greatround belly. Cairo sprang at Spade, clawing at his face with the curvedstiff fingers of both hands. Spade blew his breath out and pushed theLevantine away. Cairo sprang at him again. Tears were in Cairo's eyesand his red lips worked angrily, forming words, but no sound came frombetween them.
Spade laughed, grunted, "Jesus, you're a pip!" and cuffed the side ofCairo's face with an open hand, knocking him over against the table.Cairo regained his balance and sprang at Spade the third time. Spadestopped him with both palms held out on long rigid arms against hisface. Cairo, failing to reach Spade's face with his shorter arms,thumped Spade's arms.
"Stop it," Spade growled. "I'll hurt you."
Cairo cried, "Oh, you big coward!" and backed away from him.
Spade stooped to pick up Cairo's pistol from the floor, and then theboy's. He straightened up holding them in his left hand, dangling themupside-down by their trigger-guards from his forefinger.
Gutman had put the boy in the rocking chair and stood looking at himwith troubled eyes in an uncertainly puckered face. Cairo went down onhis knees beside the chair and began to chafe one of the boy's limphands.
Spade felt the boy's chin with his fingers. "Nothing cracked," he said."We'll spread him on the sofa." He put his right arm under the boy's armand around his back, put his left forearm under the boy's knees, liftedhim without apparent effort, and carried him to the sofa.
Brigid O'Shaughnessy got up quickly and Spade laid the boy there. Withhis right hand Spade patted the boy's clothes, found his second pistol,added it to the others in his left hand, and turned his back on thesofa. Cairo was already sitting beside the boy's head.
Spade clinked the pistols together in his hand and smiled cheerfully atGutman. "Well," he said, "there's our fall-guy."
Gutman's face was grey and his eyes were clouded. He did not look atSpade. He looked at the floor and did not say anything.
Spade said: "Don't be a damned fool again. You let Cairo whisper to youand you held the kid while I pasted him. You can't laugh that off andyou're likely to get yourself shot trying to."
Gutman moved his feet on the rug and said nothing.
Spade said: "And the other side of it is that you'll either say yesright now or I'll turn the falcon and the whole God-damned lot of youin."
Gutman raised his head and muttered through his teeth: "I don't likethat, sir."
"You won't like it," Spade said. "Well?"
The fat man sighed and made a wry face and replied sadly: "You can havehim."
Spade said: "That's swell."
19. The Russian's Hand
The boy lay on his back on the sofa, a small figure that was--except forits breathing--altogether corpselike to the eye. Joel Cairo sat besidethe boy, bending over him, rubbing his cheeks and wrists, smoothing hishair back from his forehead, whispering to him, and peering anxiouslydown at his white still face.
Brigid O'Shaughnessy stood in an angle made by table and wall. One ofher hands was flat on the table, the other to her breast. She pinchedher lower lip between her teeth and glanced furtively at Spade wheneverhe was not looking at her. When he looked at her she looked at Cairo andthe boy.
Gutman's face had lost its troubled cast and was becoming rosy again. Hehad put his hands in his trousers-pockets. He stood facing Spade,watching him without curiosity.
Spade, idly jingling his handful of pistols, nodded at Cairo's roundedback and asked Gutman: "It'll be all right with him?"
"I don't know," the fat man replied placidly. "That part will have to bestrictly up to you, sir."
Spade's smile made his v-shaped chin more salient. He said: "Cairo."
The Levantine screwed his dark anxious face around over his shoulder.
Spade said: "Let him rest awhile. We're going to give him to the police.We ought to get the details fixed before he comes to."
Cairo asked bitterly: "Don't you think you've done enough to him withoutthat?"
Spade said: "No."
Cairo left the sofa and went close to the fat man. "Please don't do thisthing, Mr. Gutman," he begged. "You must realize that--"
Spade interrupted him: "That's settled. The question is, what are yougoing to do about it? Coming in? Or getting out?"
Though Gutman's smile was a bit sad, even wistful in its way, he noddedhis head. "I don't like it either," he told the Levantine, "but we can'thelp ourselves now. We really can't."
Spade asked: "What are you doing, Cairo? In or out?"
Cairo wet his lips and turned slowly to face Spade. "Suppose," he said,and swallowed. "Have I--? Can I choose?"
"You can," Spade assured him seriously, "but you ought to know that ifthe answer is out we'll give you to the police with your boy-friend."
"Oh, come, Mr. Spade," Gutman protested, "that is not--"
"Like hell we'll let him walk out on us," Spade said. "He'll either comein or he'll go in. We can't have a lot of loose ends hanging around." Hescowled at Gutman and burst out irritably: "Jesus God! is this the firstthing you guys ever stole? You're a fine lot of lollipops! What are yougoing to do next--get down and pray?" He directed his scowl at Cairo."Well? Which?"
"You give me no choice." Cairo's narrow shoulders moved in a hopelessshrug. "I come in."
"Good," Spade said and looked at Gutman and at Brigid O'Shaughnessy."Sit down."
The girl sat down gingerly on the end of the sofa by the unconsciousboy's feet. Gutman returned to the padded rocking chair, and Cairo tothe armchair. Spade put his handful of pistols on the table and sat onthe table-corner beside them. He looked at the watch on his wrist andsaid: "Two o'clock. I can't get the falcon till daylight, or maybe eighto'clock. We've got plenty of time to arrange everything."
Gutman cleared his throat. "Where is it?" he asked and then added inhaste: "I don't really care, sir. What I had in mind was that it wouldbe best for all concerned if we did not get out of each other's sightuntil our business has been transacted." He looked at the sofa and atSpade again, sharply. "You have the envelope?"
Spade shook his head, looking at the sofa and then at the girl. Hesmiled with his eyes and said: "Miss O'Shaughnessy has it."
"Yes, I have it," she murmured, putting a hand inside her coat. "Ipicked it up...."
"That's all right," Spade told her. "Hang on to it." He addressedGutman: "We won't have to lose sight of each other. I can have thefalcon brought here."
"That will be excellent," Gutman purred. "Then, sir, in exchange for theten thousand dollars and Wilmer you will give us the falcon and an houror two of grace--so we won't be in the city when you surrender him tothe authorities."
"You don't have to duck," Spade said. "It'll be air-tight."
"That may be, sir, but nevertheless we'll feel safer well out of thecity when Wilmer is being questioned by your District Attorney."
"Suit yourself," Spade replied. "I can hold him here all day if youwant." He began to roll a cigarette. "Let's get the details fixed. Whydid he shoot Thursby? And why and where and how did he shoot Jacobi?"
Gutman smiled indulgently, shaking his head and purring: "Now come, sir,you can't expect that. We've given you the money and Wilmer. That is ourpart of the agreement."
"I do expect it," Spade said. He held his lighter to his cigarette. "Afall-guy is what I asked for, and he's not a fall-guy unless he's acinch to take the fall. Well, to cinch that I've got to know what'swhat." He pulled his brows together. "What are you bellyaching about?You're not going to be sitting so damned pretty if you leave him with anout."
Gutman leaned forward and wagged a fat finger at the pistols on thetable beside Spade's legs. "There's ample evidence of his guilt, sir.Both men were shot with those weapons. It's a very simple matter for thepolice-department-experts to determine that the bullets that killed themen were fired from those weapons. You know that; you've mentioned ityourself. And that, it seems to me, is ample proof of his guilt."
"Maybe," Spade agreed, "but the thing's more complicated than that andI've got to know what happened so I can be sure the parts that won't fitin are covered up."
Cairo's eyes were round and hot. "Apparently you've forgotten that youassured us it would be a very simple affair," Cairo said. He turned hisexcited dark face to Gutman. "You see! I advised you not to do this. Idon't think--"
"It doesn't make a damned bit of difference what either of you think,"Spade said bluntly. "It's too late for that now and you're in too deep.Why did he kill Thursby?"
Gutman interlaced his fingers over his belly and rocked his chair. Hisvoice, like his smile, was frankly rueful. "You are an uncommonlydifficult person to get the best of," he said. "I begin to think that wemade a mistake in not letting you alone from the very first. By Gad, Ido, sir!"
Spade moved his hand carelessly. "You haven't done so bad. You'restaying out of jail and you're getting the falcon. What do you want?" Heput his cigarette in a corner of his mouth and said around it: "Anyhowyou know where you stand now. Why did he kill Thursby?"
Gutman stopped rocking. "Thursby was a notorious killer and MissO'Shaughnessy's ally. We knew that removing him in just that mannerwould make her stop and think that perhaps it would be best to patch upher differences with us after all, besides leaving her without soviolent a protector. You see, sir, I am being candid with you?"
"Yes. Keep it up. You didn't think he might have the falcon?"
Gutman shook his head so that his round cheeks wobbled. "We didn't thinkthat for a minute," he replied. He smiled benevolently. "We had theadvantage of knowing Miss O'Shaughnessy far too well for that and, whilewe didn't know then that she had given the falcon to Captain Jacobi inHongkong to be brought over on the Paloma while they took a fasterboat, still we didn't for a minute think that, if only one of them knewwhere it was, Thursby was the one."
Spade nodded thoughtfully and asked: "You didn't try to make a deal withhim before you gave him the works?"
"Yes, sir, we certainly did. I talked to him myself that night. Wilmerhad located him two days before and had been trying to follow him towherever he was meeting Miss O'Shaughnessy, but Thursby was too craftyfor that even if he didn't know he was being watched. So that nightWilmer went to his hotel, learned he wasn't in, and waited outside forhim. I suppose Thursby returned immediately after killing your partner.Be that as it may, Wilmer brought him to see me. We could do nothingwith him. He was quite determinedly loyal to Miss O'Shaughnessy. Well,sir, Wilmer followed him back to his hotel and did what he did."
Spade thought for a moment. "That sounds all right. Now Jacobi."
Gutman looked at Spade with grave eyes and said: "Captain Jacobi's deathwas entirely Miss O'Shaughnessy's fault."
The girl gasped, "Oh!" and put a hand to her mouth.
Spade's voice was heavy and even. "Never mind that now. Tell me whathappened."
After a shrewd look at Spade, Gutman smiled. "Just as you say, sir," hesaid. "Well, Cairo, as you know, got in touch with me--I sent forhim--after he left police headquarters the night--or morning--he was uphere. We recognized the mutual advantage of pooling forces." He directedhis smile at the Levantine. "Mr. Cairo is a man of nice judgment. ThePaloma was his thought. He saw the notice of its arrival in the papersthat morning and remembered that he had heard in Hongkong that Jacobiand Miss O'Shaughnessy had been seen together. That was when he had beentrying to find her there, and he thought at first that she had left onthe Paloma, though later he learned that she hadn't. Well, sir, whenhe saw the notice of arrival in the paper he guessed just what hadhappened: she had given the bird to Jacobi to bring here for her. Jacobidid not know what it was, of course. Miss O'Shaughnessy is too discreetfor that."
He beamed at the girl, rocked his chair twice, and went on: "Mr. Cairoand Wilmer and I went to call on Captain Jacobi and were fortunateenough to arrive while Miss O'Shaughnessy was there. In many ways it wasa difficult conference, but finally, by midnight we had persuaded MissO'Shaughnessy to come to terms, or so we thought. We then left the boatand set out for my hotel, where I was to pay Miss O'Shaughnessy andreceive the bird. Well, sir, we mere men should have known better thanto suppose ourselves capable of coping with her. En route, she andCaptain Jacobi and the falcon slipped completely through our fingers."He laughed merrily. "By Gad, sir, it was neatly done."
Spade looked at the girl. Her eyes, large and dark with pleading, methis. He asked Gutman: "You touched off the boat before you left?"
"Not intentionally, no, sir," the fat man replied, "though I dare saywe--or Wilmer at least--were responsible for the fire. He had been outtrying to find the falcon while the rest of us were talking in the cabinand no doubt was careless with matches."
"That's fine," Spade said. "If any slip-up makes it necessary for us totry him for Jacobi's murder we can also hang an arson-rap on him. Allright. Now about the shooting."
"Well, sir, we dashed around town all day trying to find them and wefound them late this afternoon. We weren't sure at first that we'd foundthem. All we were sure of was that we'd found Miss O'Shaughnessy'sapartment. But when we listened at the door we heard them moving aroundinside, so we were pretty confident we had them and rang the bell. Whenshe asked us who we were and we told her--through the door--we heard awindow going up.
"We knew what that meant, of course; so Wilmer hurried downstairs asfast as he could and around to the rear of the building to cover thefire-escape. And when he turned into the alley he ran right plumb smackinto Captain Jacobi running away with the falcon under his arm. That wasa difficult situation to handle, but Wilmer did every bit as well as hecould. He shot Jacobi--more than once--but Jacobi was too tough toeither fall or drop the falcon, and he was too close for Wilmer to keepout of his way. He knocked Wilmer down and ran on. And this was in broaddaylight, you understand, in the afternoon. When Wilmer got up he couldsee a policeman coming up from the block below. So he had to give it up.He dodged into the open back door of the building next the Coronet,through into the street, and then up to join us--and very fortunate hewas, sir, to make it without being seen.
"Well, sir, there we were--stumped again. Miss O'Shaughnessy had openedthe door for Mr. Cairo and me after she had shut the window behindJacobi, and she--" He broke off to smile at a memory. "Wepersuaded--that is the word, sir--her to tell us that she had toldJacobi to take the falcon to you. It seemed very unlikely that he'd liveto go that far, even if the police didn't pick him up, but that was theonly chance we had, sir. And so, once more, we persuaded MissO'Shaughnessy to give us a little assistance. We--well--persuaded her tophone your office in an attempt to draw you away before Jacobi gotthere, and we sent Wilmer after him. Unfortunately it had taken us toolong to decide and to persuade Miss O'Shaughnessy to--"
The boy on the sofa groaned and rolled over on his side. His eyes openedand closed several times. The girl stood up and moved into the angle oftable and wall again.
"--coöperate with us," Gutman concluded hurriedly, "and so you had thefalcon before we could reach you."
The boy put one foot on the floor, raised himself on an elbow, openedhis eyes wide, put the other foot down, sat up, and looked around. Whenhis eyes focused on Spade bewilderment went out of them.
Cairo left his armchair and went over to the boy. He put his arm on theboy's shoulders and started to say something. The boy rose quickly tohis feet, shaking Cairo's arm off. He glanced around the room once andthen fixed his eyes on Spade again. His face was set hard and he heldhis body so tense that it seemed drawn in and shrunken.
Spade, sitting on the corner of the table, swinging his legs carelessly,said: "Now listen, kid. If you come over here and start cutting up I'mgoing to kick you in the face. Sit down and shut up and behave andyou'll last longer."
The boy looked at Gutman.
Gutman smiled benignly at him and said: "Well, Wilmer, I'm sorry indeedto lose you, and I want you to know that I couldn't be any fonder of youif you were my own son; but--well, by Gad!--if you lose a son it'spossible to get another--and there's only one Maltese falcon."
Cairo moved over and whispered in the boy's ear. The boy, keeping hiscold hazel eyes on Gutman's face, sat down on the sofa again. TheLevantine sat beside him.
Gutman's sigh did not affect the benignity of his smile. He said toSpade: "When you're young you simply don't understand things."
Cairo had an arm around the boy's shoulders again and was whispering tohim. Spade grinned at Gutman and addressed Brigid O'Shaughnessy: "Ithink it'd be swell if you'd see what you can find us to eat in thekitchen, with plenty of coffee. Will you? I don't like to leave myguests."
"Surely," she said and started towards the door.
Gutman stopped rocking. "Just a moment, my dear." He held up a thickhand. "Hadn't you better leave the envelope in here? You don't want toget grease-spots on it."
The girl's eyes questioned Spade. He said in an indifferent tone: "It'sstill his."
She put her hand inside her coat, took out the envelope, and gave it toSpade. Spade tossed it into Gutman's lap, saying: "Sit on it if you'reafraid of losing it."
"You misunderstand me," Gutman replied suavely. "It's not that at all,but business should be transacted in a business-like manner." He openedthe flap of the envelope, took out the thousand-dollar bills, countedthem, and chuckled so that his belly bounced. "For instance there areonly nine bills here now." He spread them out on his fat knees andthighs. "There were ten when I handed it to you, as you very well know."His smile was broad and jovial and triumphant.
Spade looked at Brigid O'Shaughnessy and asked: "Well?"
She shook her head sidewise with emphasis. She did not say anything,though her lips moved slightly, as if she had tried to. Her face wasfrightened.
Spade held his hand out to Gutman and the fat man put the money into it.Spade counted the money--nine thousand-dollar bills--and returned it toGutman. Then Spade stood up and his face was dull and placid. He pickedup the three pistols on the table. He spoke in a matter-of-fact voice."I want to know about this. We"--he nodded at the girl, but withoutlooking at her--"are going in the bathroom. The door will be open andI'll be facing it. Unless you want a three-story drop there's no way outof here except past the bathroom door. Don't try to make it."
"Really, sir," Gutman protested, "it's not necessary, and certainly notvery courteous of you, to threaten us in this manner. You must know thatwe've not the least desire to leave."
"I'll know a lot when I'm through." Spade was patient but resolute."This trick upsets things. I've got to find the answer. It won't takelong." He touched the girl's elbow. "Come on."
* * * * *
In the bathroom Brigid O'Shaughnessy found words. She put her hands upflat on Spade's chest and her face up close to his and whispered: "I didnot take that bill, Sam."
"I don't think you did," he said, "but I've got to know. Take yourclothes off."
"You won't take my word for it?"
"No. Take your clothes off."
"All right. We'll go back to the other room and I'll have them takenoff."
She stepped back with a hand to her mouth. Her eyes were round andhorrified. "You would?" she asked through her fingers.
"I will," he said. "I've got to know what happened to that bill and I'mnot going to be held up by anybody's maidenly modesty."
"Oh, it isn't that." She came close to him and put her hands on hischest again. "I'm not ashamed to be naked before you, but--can't yousee?--not like this. Can't you see that if you make me you'll--you'll bekilling something?"
He did not raise his voice. "I don't know anything about that. I've gotto know what happened to the bill. Take them off."
She looked at his unblinking yellow-grey eyes and her face became pinkand then white again. She drew herself up tall and began to undress. Hesat on the side of the bathtub watching her and the open door. No soundcame from the living-room. She removed her clothes swiftly, withoutfumbling, letting them fall down on the floor around her feet. When shewas naked she stepped back from her clothing and stood looking at him.In her mien was pride without defiance or embarrassment.
He put his pistols on the toilet-seat and, facing the door, went down onone knee in front of her garments. He picked up each piece and examinedit with fingers as well as eyes. He did not find the thousand-dollarbill. When he had finished he stood up holding her clothes out in hishands to her. "Thanks," he said. "Now I know."
She took the clothing from him. She did not say anything. He picked uphis pistols. He shut the bathroom door behind him and went into theliving-room.
Gutman smiled amiably at him from the rocking chair. "Find it?" heasked.
Cairo, sitting beside the boy on the sofa, looked at Spade withquestioning opaque eyes. The boy did not look up. He was leaningforward, head between hands, elbows on knees, staring at the floorbetween his feet.
Spade told Gutman: "No, I didn't find it. You palmed it."
The fat man chuckled. "I palmed it?"
"Yes," Spade said, jingling the pistols in his hand. "Do you want to sayso or do you want to stand for a frisk?"
"You're going to admit it," Spade said, "or I'm going to search you.There's no third way."
Gutman looked up at Spade's hard face and laughed outright. "By Gad,sir, I believe you would. I really do. You're a character, sir, if youdon't mind my saying so."
"You palmed it," Spade said.
"Yes, sir, that I did." The fat man took a crumpled bill from hisvest-pocket, smoothed it on a wide thigh, took the envelope holding thenine bills from his coat-pocket, and put the smoothed bill in with theothers. "I must have my little joke every now and then and I was curiousto know what you'd do in a situation of that sort. I must say that youpassed the test with flying colors, sir. It never occurred to me thatyou'd hit on such a simple and direct way of getting at the truth."
Spade sneered at him without bitterness. "That's the kind of thing I'dexpect from somebody the punk's age."
Brigid O'Shaughnessy, dressed again except for coat and hat, came out ofthe bathroom, took a step towards the living-room, turned around, wentto the kitchen, and turned on the light.
Cairo edged closer to the boy on the sofa and began whispering in hisear again. The boy shrugged irritably.
Spade, looking at the pistols in his hand and then at Gutman, went outinto the passageway, to the closet there. He opened the door, put thepistols inside on the top of a trunk, shut the door, locked it, put thekey in his trousers-pocket, and went to the kitchen door.
Brigid O'Shaughnessy was filling an aluminum percolator.
"Find everything?" Spade asked.
"Yes," she replied in a cool voice, not raising her head. Then she setthe percolator aside and came to the door. She blushed and her eyes werelarge and moist and chiding. "You shouldn't have done that to me, Sam,"she said softly.
"I had to find out, angel." He bent down, kissed her mouth lightly, andreturned to the living-room.
* * * * *
Gutman smiled at Spade and offered him the white envelope, saying: "Thiswill soon be yours; you might as well take it now."
Spade did not take it. He sat in the armchair and said: "There's plentyof time for that. We haven't done enough talking about the money-end. Iought to have more than ten thousand."
Gutman said: "Ten thousand dollars is a lot of money."
Spade said: "You're quoting me, but it's not all the money in theworld."
"No, sir, it's not. I grant you that. But it's a lot of money to bepicked up in as few days and as easily as you're getting it."
"You think it's been so damned easy?" Spade asked, and shrugged. "Well,maybe, but that's my business."
"It certainly is," the fat man agreed. He screwed up his eyes, moved hishead to indicate the kitchen, and lowered his voice. "Are you sharingwith her?"
Spade said: "That's my business too."
"It certainly is," the fat man agreed once more, "but"--hehesitated--"I'd like to give you a word of advice."
"If you don't--I dare say you'll give her some money in any event,but--if you don't give her as much as she thinks she ought to have, myword of advice is--be careful."
Spade's eyes held a mocking light. He asked: "Bad?"
"Bad," the fat man replied.
Spade grinned and began to roll a cigarette.
Cairo, still muttering in the boy's ear, had put his arm around theboy's shoulders again. Suddenly the boy pushed his arm away and turnedon the sofa to face the Levantine. The boy's face held disgust andanger. He made a fist of one small hand and struck Cairo's mouth withit. Cairo cried out as a woman might have cried and drew back to thevery end of the sofa. He took a silk handkerchief from his pocket andput it to his mouth. It came away daubed with blood. He put it to hismouth once more and looked reproachfully at the boy. The boy snarled,"Keep away from me," and put his face between his hands again. Cairo'shandkerchief released the fragrance of chypre in the room.
Cairo's cry had brought Brigid O'Shaughnessy to the door. Spade,grinning, jerked a thumb at the sofa and told her: "The course of truelove. How's the food coming along?"
"It's coming," she said and went back to the kitchen.
Spade lighted his cigarette and addressed Gutman: "Let's talk aboutmoney."
"Willingly, sir, with all my heart," the fat man replied, "but I mightas well tell you frankly right now that ten thousand is every cent I canraise."
Spade exhaled smoke. "I ought to have twenty."
"I wish you could. I'd give it to you gladly if I had it, but tenthousand dollars is every cent I can manage, on my word of honor. Ofcourse, sir, you understand that is simply the first payment. Later--"
Spade laughed. "I know you'll give me millions later," he said, "butlet's stick to this first payment now. Fifteen thousand?"
Gutman smiled and frowned and shook his head. "Mr. Spade, I've told youfrankly and candidly and on my word of honor as a gentleman that tenthousand dollars is all the money I've got--every penny--and all I canraise."
"But you didn't say positively."
Gutman laughed and said: "Positively."
Spade said gloomily: "That's not any too good, but if it's the best youcan do--give it to me."
Gutman handed him the envelope. Spade counted the bills and was puttingthem in his pocket when Brigid O'Shaughnessy came in carrying a tray.
* * * * *
The boy would not eat. Cairo took a cup of coffee. The girl, Gutman, andSpade ate the scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, and marmalade she hadprepared, and drank two cups of coffee apiece. Then they settled down towait the rest of the night through.
Gutman smoked a cigar and read Celebrated Criminal Cases of America,now and then chuckling over or commenting on the parts of its contentsthat amused him. Cairo nursed his mouth and sulked on his end of thesofa. The boy sat with his head in his hands until a little after fouro'clock. Then he lay down with his feet towards Cairo, turned his faceto the window, and went to sleep. Brigid O'Shaughnessy, in the armchair,dozed, listened to the fat man's comments, and carried on wide-spaceddesultory conversations with Spade.
Spade rolled and smoked cigarettes and moved, without fidgeting ornervousness, around the room. He sat sometimes on an arm of the girl'schair, on the table-corner, on the floor at her feet, on astraight-backed chair. He was wide-awake, cheerful, and full of vigor.
At half-past five he went into the kitchen and made more coffee. Half anhour later the boy stirred, awakened, and sat up yawning. Gutman lookedat his watch and questioned Spade: "Can you get it now?"
"Give me another hour."
Gutman nodded and went back to his book.
At seven o'clock Spade went to the telephone and called Effie Perine'snumber. "Hello, Mrs. Perine?... This is Mr. Spade. Will you let metalk to Effie, please?... Yes, it is.... Thanks." He whistled twolines of En Cuba, softly. "Hello, angel. Sorry to get you up....Yes, very. Here's the plot: in our Holland box at the Post Office you'llfind an envelope addressed in my scribble. There's a Pickwick Stageparcel-room-check in it--for the bundle we got yesterday. Will you getthe bundle and bring it to me--p. d. q.?... Yes, I'm home....That's the girl--hustle.... 'Bye."
The street-door-bell rang at ten minutes of eight. Spade went to thetelephone-box and pressed the button that released the lock. Gutman putdown his book and rose smiling. "You don't mind if I go to the door withyou?" he asked.
"O K," Spade told him.
Gutman followed him to the corridor-door. Spade opened it. PresentlyEffie Perine, carrying the brown-wrapped parcel, came from the elevator.Her boyish face was gay and bright and she came forward quickly, almosttrotting. After one glance she did not look at Gutman. She smiled atSpade and gave him the parcel.
He took it saying: "Thanks a lot, lady. I'm sorry to spoil your day ofrest, but this--"
"It's not the first one you've spoiled," she replied, laughing, andthen, when it was apparent that he was not going to invite her in,asked: "Anything else?"
He shook his head. "No, thanks."
She said, "Bye-bye," and went back to the elevator.
Spade shut the door and carried the parcel into the living-room.Gutman's face was red and his cheeks quivered. Cairo and BrigidO'Shaughnessy came to the table as Spade put the parcel there. They wereexcited. The boy rose, pale and tense, but he remained by the sofa,staring under curling lashes at the others.
Spade stepped back from the table saying: "There you are."
Gutman's fat fingers made short work of cord and paper and excelsior,and he had the black bird in his hands. "Ah," he said huskily, "now,after seventeen years!" His eyes were moist.
Cairo licked his red lips and worked his hands together. The girl'slower lip was between her teeth. She and Cairo, like Gutman, and likeSpade and the boy, were breathing heavily. The air in the room waschilly and stale, and thick with tobacco smoke.
Gutman set the bird down on the table again and fumbled at a pocket."It's it," he said, "but we'll make sure." Sweat glistened on his roundcheeks. His fingers twitched as he took out a gold pocket-knife andopened it.
Cairo and the girl stood close to him, one on either side. Spade stoodback a little where he could watch the boy as well as the group at thetable.
Gutman turned the bird upside-down and scraped an edge of its base withhis knife. Black enamel came off in tiny curls, exposing blackened metalbeneath. Gutman's knife-blade bit into the metal, turning back a thincurved shaving. The inside of the shaving, and the narrow plane itsremoval had left, had the soft grey sheen of lead.
Gutman's breath hissed between his teeth. His face became turgid withhot blood. He twisted the bird around and hacked at its head. There toothe edge of his knife bared lead. He let knife and bird bang down on thetable where he wheeled to confront Spade. "It's a fake," he saidhoarsely.
Spade's face had become somber. His nod was slow, but there was noslowness in his hand's going out to catch Brigid O'Shaughnessy's wrist.He pulled her to him and grasped her chin with his other hand, raisingher face roughly. "All right," he growled into her face. "You've hadyour little joke. Now tell us about it."
She cried: "No, Sam, no! That is the one I got from Kemidov. I swear--"
Joel Cairo thrust himself between Spade and Gutman and began to emitwords in a shrill spluttering stream: "That's it! That's it! It was theRussian! I should have known! What a fool we thought him, and what foolshe made of us!" Tears ran down the Levantine's cheeks and he danced upand down. "You bungled it!" he screamed at Gutman. "You and your stupidattempt to buy it from him! You fat fool! You let him know it wasvaluable and he found out how valuable and made a duplicate for us! Nowonder we had so little trouble stealing it! No wonder he was so willingto send me off around the world looking for it! You imbecile! Youbloated idiot!" He put his hands to his face and blubbered.
Gutman's jaw sagged. He blinked vacant eyes. Then he shook himself andwas--by the time his bulbs had stopped jouncing--again a jovial fat man."Come, sir," he said good-naturedly, "there's no need of going on likethat. Everybody errs at times and you may be sure this is every bit assevere a blow to me as to anyone else. Yes, that is the Russian's hand,there's no doubt of it. Well, sir, what do you suggest? Shall we standhere and shed tears and call each other names? Or shall we"--he pausedand his smile was a cherub's--"go to Constantinople?"
Cairo took his hands from his face and his eyes bulged. He stammered:"You are--?" Amazement coming with full comprehension made himspeechless.
Gutman patted his fat hands together. His eyes twinkled. His voice was acomplacent throaty purring: "For seventeen years I have wanted thatlittle item and have been trying to get it. If I must spend another yearon the quest--well, sir--that will be an additional expenditure in timeof only"--his lips moved silently as he calculated--"five andfifteen-seventeenths per cent."
The Levantine giggled and cried: "I go with you!"
Spade suddenly released the girl's wrist and looked around the room. Theboy was not there. Spade went into the passageway. The corridor-doorstood open. Spade made a dissatisfied mouth, shut the door, and returnedto the living-room. He leaned against the door-frame and looked atGutman and Cairo. He looked at Gutman for a long time, sourly. Then hespoke, mimicking the fat man's throaty purr: "Well, sir, I must sayyou're a swell lot of thieves!"
Gutman chuckled. "We've little enough to boast about, and that's a fact,sir," he said. "But, well, we're none of us dead yet and there's not abit of use thinking the world's come to an end just because we've runinto a little setback." He brought his left hand from behind him andheld it out towards Spade, pink smooth hilly palm up. "I'll have to askyou for that envelope, sir."
Spade did not move. His face was wooden. He said: "I held up my end. Yougot your dingus. It's your hard luck, not mine, that it wasn't what youwanted."
"Now come, sir," Gutman said persuasively, "we've all failed and there'sno reason for expecting any one of us to bear the brunt of it, and--" Hebrought his right hand from behind him. In the hand was a small pistol,an ornately engraved and inlaid affair of silver and gold andmother-of-pearl. "In short, sir, I must ask you to return my tenthousand dollars."
Spade's face did not change. He shrugged and took the envelope from hispocket. He started to hold it out to Gutman, hesitated, opened theenvelope, and took out one thousand-dollar bill. He put that bill intohis trousers-pocket. He tucked the envelope's flap in over the otherbills and held them out to Gutman. "That'll take care of my time andexpenses," he said.
Gutman, after a little pause, imitated Spade's shrug and accepted theenvelope. He said: "Now, sir, we will say good-bye to you, unless"--thefat puffs around his eyes crinkled--"you care to undertake theConstantinople expedition with us. You don't? Well, sir, frankly I'dlike to have you along. You're a man to my liking, a man of manyresources and nice judgment. Because we know you're a man of nicejudgment we know we can say good-bye with every assurance that you'llhold the details of our little enterprise in confidence. We know we cancount on you to appreciate the fact that, as the situation now stands,any legal difficulties that come to us in connection with these last fewdays would likewise and equally come to you and the charming MissO'Shaughnessy. You're too shrewd not to recognize that, sir, I'm sure."
"I understand that," Spade replied.
"I was sure you would. I'm also sure that, now there's no alternative,you'll somehow manage the police without a fall-guy."
"I'll make out all right," Spade replied.
"I was sure you would. Well, sir, the shortest farewells are the best.Adieu." He made a portly bow. "And to you, Miss O'Shaughnessy, adieu. Ileave you the rara avis on the table as a little memento."
20. If They Hang You
For all of five minutes after the outer door had closed behind CasperGutman and Joel Cairo, Spade, motionless, stood staring at the knob ofthe open living-room-door. His eyes were gloomy under a forehead drawndown. The clefts at the root of his nose were deep and red. His lipsprotruded loosely, pouting. He drew them in to make a hard v and went tothe telephone. He had not looked at Brigid O'Shaughnessy, who stood bythe table looking with uneasy eyes at him.
He picked up the telephone, set it on its shelf again, and bent to lookinto the telephone-directory hanging from a corner of the shelf. Heturned the pages rapidly until he found the one he wanted, ran hisfinger down a column, straightened up, and lifted the telephone from theshelf again. He called a number and said:
"Hello, is Sergeant Polhaus there?... Will you call him, please? Thisis Samuel Spade...." He stared into space, waiting. "Hello, Tom, I'vegot something for you.... Yes, plenty. Here it is: Thursby and Jacobiwere shot by a kid named Wilmer Cook." He described the boy minutely."He's working for a man named Casper Gutman." He described Gutman. "Thatfellow Cairo you met here is in with them too.... Yes, that'sit.... Gutman's staying at the Alexandria, suite twelve C, or was.They've just left here and they're blowing town, so you'll have to movefast, but I don't think they're expecting a pinch.... There's a girlin it too--Gutman's daughter." He described Rhea Gutman. "Watch yourselfwhen you go up against the kid. He's supposed to be pretty good with thegun.... That's right, Tom, and I've got some stuff here for you. Ithink I've got the guns he used.... That's right. Step on it--andluck to you!"
Spade slowly replaced receiver on prong, telephone on shelf. He wet hislips and looked down at his hands. Their palms were wet. He filled hisdeep chest with air. His eyes were glittering between straightened lids.He turned and took three long swift steps into the living-room.
Brigid O'Shaughnessy, startled by the suddenness of his approach, lether breath out in a little laughing gasp.
Spade, face to face with her, very close to her, tall, big-boned andthick-muscled, coldly smiling, hard of jaw and eye, said: "They'll talkwhen they're nailed--about us. We're sitting on dynamite, and we've onlygot minutes to get set for the police. Give me all of it--fast. Gutmansent you and Cairo to Constantinople?"
She started to speak, hesitated, and bit her lip.
He put a hand on her shoulder. "God damn you, talk!" he said. "I'm inthis with you and you're not going to gum it. Talk. He sent you toConstantinople?"
"Y-yes, he sent me. I met Joe there and--and asked him to help me. Thenwe--"
"Wait. You asked Cairo to help you get it from Kemidov?"
She hesitated again, squirmed under the hard angry glare of his eyes,swallowed, and said: "No, not then. We thought we would get it forourselves."
"All right. Then?"
"Oh, then I began to be afraid that Joe wouldn't play fair with me,so--so I asked Floyd Thursby to help me."
"And he did. Well?"
"Well, we got it and went to Hongkong."
"With Cairo? Or had you ditched him before that?"
"Yes. We left him in Constantinople, in jail--something about a check."
"Something you fixed up to hold him there?"
She looked shamefacedly at Spade and whispered: "Yes."
"Right. Now you and Thursby are in Hongkong with the bird."
"Yes, and then--I didn't know him very well--I didn't know whether Icould trust him. I thought it would be safer--anyway, I met CaptainJacobi and I knew his boat was coming here, so I asked him to bring apackage for me--and that was the bird. I wasn't sure I could trustThursby, or that Joe or--or somebody working for Gutman might not be onthe boat we came on--and that seemed the safest plan."
"All right. Then you and Thursby caught one of the fast boats over. Thenwhat?"
"Then--then I was afraid of Gutman. I knew he hadpeople--connections--everywhere, and he'd soon know what we had done.And I was afraid he'd have learned that we had left Hongkong for SanFrancisco. He was in New York and I knew if he heard that by cable hewould have plenty of time to get here by the time we did, or before. Hedid. I didn't know that then, but I was afraid of it, and I had to waithere until Captain Jacobi's boat arrived. And I was afraid Gutman wouldfind me--or find Floyd and buy him over. That's why I came to you andasked you to watch him for--"
"That's a lie," Spade said. "You had Thursby hooked and you knew it. Hewas a sucker for women. His record shows that--the only falls he tookwere over women. And once a chump, always a chump. Maybe you didn't knowhis record, but you'd know you had him safe."
She blushed and looked timidly at him.
He said: "You wanted to get him out of the way before Jacobi came withthe loot. What was your scheme?"
"I--I knew he'd left the States with a gambler after some trouble. Ididn't know what it was, but I thought that if it was anything seriousand he saw a detective watching him he'd think it was on account of theold trouble, and would be frightened into going away. I didn't think--"
"You told him he was being shadowed," Spade said confidently. "Mileshadn't many brains, but he wasn't clumsy enough to be spotted the firstnight."
"I told him, yes. When we went out for a walk that night I pretended todiscover Mr. Archer following us and pointed him out to Floyd." Shesobbed. "But please believe, Sam, that I wouldn't have done it if I hadthought Floyd would kill him. I thought he'd be frightened into leavingthe city. I didn't for a minute think he'd shoot him like that."
Spade smiled wolfishly with his lips, but not at all with his eyes. Hesaid: "If you thought he wouldn't you were right, angel."
The girl's upraised face held utter astonishment.
Spade said: "Thursby didn't shoot him."
Incredulity joined astonishment in the girl's face.
Spade said: "Miles hadn't many brains, but, Christ! he had too manyyears' experience as a detective to be caught like that by the man hewas shadowing. Up a blind alley with his gun tucked away on his hip andhis overcoat buttoned? Not a chance. He was as dumb as any man ought tobe, but he wasn't quite that dumb. The only two ways out of the alleycould be watched from the edge of Bush Street over the tunnel. You'dtold us Thursby was a bad actor. He couldn't have tricked Miles into thealley like that, and he couldn't have driven him in. He was dumb, butnot dumb enough for that."
He ran his tongue over the inside of his lips and smiled affectionatelyat the girl. He said: "But he'd've gone up there with you, angel, if hewas sure nobody else was up there. You were his client, so he would havehad no reason for not dropping the shadow on your say-so, and if youcaught up with him and asked him to go up there he'd've gone. He wasjust dumb enough for that. He'd've looked you up and down and licked hislips and gone grinning from ear to ear--and then you could've stood asclose to him as you liked in the dark and put a hole through him withthe gun you had got from Thursby that evening."
Brigid O'Shaughnessy shrank back from him until the edge of the tablestopped her. She looked at him with terrified eyes and cried:"Don't--don't talk to me like that, Sam! You know I didn't! You know--"
"Stop it." He looked at the watch on his wrist. "The police will beblowing in any minute now and we're sitting on dynamite. Talk!"
She put the back of a hand on her forehead. "Oh, why do you accuse me ofsuch a terrible--?"
"Will you stop it?" he demanded in a low impatient voice. "This isn'tthe spot for the schoolgirl-act. Listen to me. The pair of us aresitting under the gallows." He took hold of her wrists and made herstand up straight in front of him. "Talk!"
"I--I--How did you know he--he licked his lips and looked--?"
Spade laughed harshly. "I knew Miles. But never mind that. Why did youshoot him?"
She twisted her wrists out of Spade's fingers and put her hands uparound the back of his neck, pulling his head down until his mouth allbut touched hers. Her body was flat against his from knees to chest. Heput his arms around her, holding her tight to him. Her dark-lashed lidswere half down over velvet eyes. Her voice was hushed, throbbing: "Ididn't mean to, at first. I didn't, really. I meant what I told you, butwhen I saw Floyd couldn't be frightened I--"
Spade slapped her shoulder. He said: "That's a lie. You asked Miles andme to handle it ourselves. You wanted to be sure the shadower wassomebody you knew and who knew you, so they'd go with you. You got thegun from Thursby that day--that night. You had already rented theapartment at the Coronet. You had trunks there and none at the hotel andwhen I looked the apartment over I found a rent-receipt dated five orsix days before the time you told me you rented it."
She swallowed with difficulty and her voice was humble. "Yes, that's alie, Sam. I did intend to if Floyd--I--I can't look at you and tell youthis, Sam." She pulled his head farther down until her cheek was againsthis cheek, her mouth by his ear, and whispered: "I knew Floyd wouldn'tbe easily frightened, but I thought that if he knew somebody wasshadowing him either he'd--Oh, I can't say it, Sam!" She clung to him,sobbing.
Spade said: "You thought Floyd would tackle him and one or the other ofthem would go down. If Thursby was the one then you were rid of him. IfMiles was, then you could see that Floyd was caught and you'd be rid ofhim. That it?"
"S-something like that."
"And when you found that Thursby didn't mean to tackle him you borrowedthe gun and did it yourself. Right?"
"Yes--though not exactly."
"But exact enough. And you had that plan up your sleeve from the first.You thought Floyd would be nailed for the killing."
"I--I thought they'd hold him at least until after Captain Jacobi hadarrived with the falcon and--"
"And you didn't know then that Gutman was here hunting for you. Youdidn't suspect that or you wouldn't have shaken your gunman. You knewGutman was here as soon as you heard Thursby had been shot. Then youknew you needed another protector, so you came back to me. Right?"
"Yes, but--oh, sweetheart!--it wasn't only that. I would have come backto you sooner or later. From the first instant I saw you I knew--"
Spade said tenderly: "You angel! Well, if you get a good break you'll beout of San Quentin in twenty years and you can come back to me then."
She took her cheek away from his, drawing her head far back to stare upwithout comprehension at him.
He was pale. He said tenderly: "I hope to Christ they don't hang you,precious, by that sweet neck." He slid his hands up to caress herthroat.
In an instant she was out of his arms, back against the table,crouching, both hands spread over her throat. Her face was wild-eyed,haggard. Her dry mouth opened and closed. She said in a small parchedvoice: "You're not--" She could get no other words out.
Spade's face was yellow-white now. His mouth smiled and there weresmile-wrinkles around his glittering eyes. His voice was soft, gentle.He said: "I'm going to send you over. The chances are you'll get offwith life. That means you'll be out again in twenty years. You're anangel. I'll wait for you." He cleared his throat. "If they hang you I'llalways remember you."
She dropped her hands and stood erect. Her face became smooth anduntroubled except for the faintest of dubious glints in her eyes. Shesmiled back at him, gently. "Don't, Sam, don't say that even in fun. Oh,you frightened me for a moment! I really thought you--You know you dosuch wild and unpredictable things that--" She broke off. She thrust herface forward and stared deep into his eyes. Her cheeks and the flesharound her mouth shivered and fear came back into her eyes. "What--?Sam!" She put her hands to her throat again and lost her erectness.
Spade laughed. His yellow-white face was damp with sweat and though heheld his smile he could not hold softness in his voice. He croaked:"Don't be silly. You're taking the fall. One of us has got to take it,after the talking those birds will do. They'd hang me sure. You'relikely to get a better break. Well?"
"But--but, Sam, you can't! Not after what we've been to each other. Youcan't--"
"Like hell I can't."
She took a long trembling breath. "You've been playing with me? Onlypretending you cared--to trap me like this? You didn't--care at all? Youdidn't--don't--l-love me?"
"I think I do," Spade said. "What of it?" The muscles holding his smilein place stood out like wales. "I'm not Thursby. I'm not Jacobi. I won'tplay the sap for you."
"That is not just," she cried. Tears came to her eyes. "It's unfair.It's contemptible of you. You know it was not that. You can't say that."
"Like hell I can't," Spade said. "You came into my bed to stop me askingquestions. You led me out yesterday for Gutman with that phoney call forhelp. Last night you came here with them and waited outside for me andcame in with me. You were in my arms when the trap was sprung--Icouldn't have gone for a gun if I'd had one on me and couldn't have madea fight of it if I had wanted to. And if they didn't take you away withthem it was only because Gutman's got too much sense to trust you exceptfor short stretches when he has to and because he thought I'd play thesap for you and--not wanting to hurt you--wouldn't be able to hurt him."
Brigid O'Shaughnessy blinked her tears away. She took a step towards himand stood looking him in the eyes, straight and proud. "You called me aliar," she said. "Now you are lying. You're lying if you say you don'tknow down in your heart that, in spite of anything I've done, I loveyou."
Spade made a short abrupt bow. His eyes were becoming bloodshot, butthere was no other change in his damp and yellowish fixedly smilingface. "Maybe I do," he said. "What of it? I should trust you? You whoarranged that nice little trick for--for my predecessor, Thursby? Youwho knocked off Miles, a man you had nothing against, in cold blood,just like swatting a fly, for the sake of double-crossing Thursby? Youwho double-crossed Gutman, Cairo, Thursby--one, two, three? You who'venever played square with me for half an hour at a stretch since I'veknown you? I should trust you? No, no, darling. I wouldn't do it even ifI could. Why should I?"
Her eyes were steady under his and her hushed voice was steady when shereplied: "Why should you? If you've been playing with me, if you do notlove me, there is no answer to that. If you did, no answer would beneeded."
Blood streaked Spade's eyeballs now and his long-held smile had become afrightful grimace. He cleared his throat huskily and said: "Makingspeeches is no damned good now." He put a hand on her shoulder. The handshook and jerked. "I don't care who loves who I'm not going to play thesap for you. I won't walk in Thursby's and Christ knows who else'sfootsteps. You killed Miles and you're going over for it. I could havehelped you by letting the others go and standing off the police the bestway I could. It's too late for that now. I can't help you now. And Iwouldn't if I could."
She put a hand on his hand on her shoulder. "Don't help me then," shewhispered, "but don't hurt me. Let me go away now."
"No," he said. "I'm sunk if I haven't got you to hand over to the policewhen they come. That's the only thing that can keep me from going downwith the others."
"You won't do that for me?"
"I won't play the sap for you."
"Don't say that, please." She took his hand from her shoulder and heldit to her face. "Why must you do this to me, Sam? Surely Mr. Archerwasn't as much to you as--"
"Miles," Spade said hoarsely, "was a son of a bitch. I found that outthe first week we were in business together and I meant to kick him outas soon as the year was up. You didn't do me a damned bit of harm bykilling him."
Spade pulled his hand out of hers. He no longer either smiled orgrimaced. His wet yellow face was set hard and deeply lined. His eyesburned madly. He said: "Listen. This isn't a damned bit of good. You'llnever understand me, but I'll try once more and then we'll give it up.Listen. When a man's partner is killed he's supposed to do somethingabout it. It doesn't make any difference what you thought of him. He wasyour partner and you're supposed to do something about it. Then ithappens we were in the detective business. Well, when one of yourorganization gets killed it's bad business to let the killer get awaywith it. It's bad all around--bad for that one organization, bad forevery detective everywhere. Third, I'm a detective and expecting me torun criminals down and then let them go free is like asking a dog tocatch a rabbit and let it go. It can be done, all right, and sometimesit is done, but it's not the natural thing. The only way I could havelet you go was by letting Gutman and Cairo and the kid go. That's--"
"You're not serious," she said. "You don't expect me to think that thesethings you're saying are sufficient reason for sending me to the--"
"Wait till I'm through and then you can talk. Fourth, no matter what Iwanted to do now it would be absolutely impossible for me to let you gowithout having myself dragged to the gallows with the others. Next, I'veno reason in God's world to think I can trust you and if I did this andgot away with it you'd have something on me that you could use wheneveryou happened to want to. That's five of them. The sixth would be that,since I've also got something on you, I couldn't be sure you wouldn'tdecide to shoot a hole in me some day. Seventh, I don't even like theidea of thinking that there might be one chance in a hundred that you'dplayed me for a sucker. And eighth--but that's enough. All those on oneside. Maybe some of them are unimportant. I won't argue about that. Butlook at the number of them. Now on the other side we've got what? Allwe've got is the fact that maybe you love me and maybe I love you."
"You know," she whispered, "whether you do or not."
"I don't. It's easy enough to be nuts about you." He looked hungrilyfrom her hair to her feet and up to her eyes again. "But I don't knowwhat that amounts to. Does anybody ever? But suppose I do? What of it?Maybe next month I won't. I've been through it before--when it lastedthat long. Then what? Then I'll think I played the sap. And if I did itand got sent over then I'd be sure I was the sap. Well, if I send youover I'll be sorry as hell--I'll have some rotten nights--but that'llpass. Listen." He took her by the shoulders and bent her back, leaningover her. "If that doesn't mean anything to you forget it and we'll makeit this: I won't because all of me wants to--wants to say to hell withthe consequences and do it--and because--God damn you--you've counted onthat with me the same as you counted on that with the others." He tookhis hands from her shoulders and let them fall to his sides.
She put her hands up to his cheeks and drew his face down again. "Lookat me," she said, "and tell me the truth. Would you have done this to meif the falcon had been real and you had been paid your money?"
"What difference does that make now? Don't be too sure I'm as crooked asI'm supposed to be. That kind of reputation might be goodbusiness--bringing in high-priced jobs and making it easier to deal withthe enemy."
She looked at him, saying nothing.
He moved his shoulders a little and said: "Well, a lot of money wouldhave been at least one more item on the other side of the scales."
She put her face up to his face. Her mouth was slightly open with lips alittle thrust out. She whispered: "If you loved me you'd need nothingmore on that side."
Spade set the edges of his teeth together and said through them: "Iwon't play the sap for you."
She put her mouth to his, slowly, her arms around him, and came into hisarms. She was in his arms when the door-bell rang.
* * * * *
Spade, left arm around Brigid O'Shaughnessy, opened the corridor-door.Lieutenant Dundy, Detective-sergeant Tom Polhaus, and two otherdetectives were there.
Spade said: "Hello, Tom. Get them?"
Polhaus said: "Got them."
"Swell. Come in. Here's another one for you." Spade pressed the girlforward. "She killed Miles. And I've got some exhibits--the boy's guns,one of Cairo's, a black statuette that all the hell was about, and athousand-dollar bill that I was supposed to be bribed with." He lookedat Dundy, drew his brows together, leaned forward to peer into theLieutenant's face, and burst out laughing. "What in hell's the matterwith your little playmate, Tom? He looks heartbroken." He laughed again."I bet, by God! when he heard Gutman's story he thought he had me atlast."
"Cut it out, Sam," Tom grumbled. "We didn't think--"
"Like hell he didn't," Spade said merrily. "He came up here with hismouth watering, though you'd have sense enough to know I'd beenstringing Gutman."
"Cut it out," Tom grumbled again, looking uneasily sidewise at hissuperior. "Anyways we got it from Cairo. Gutman's dead. The kid had justfinished shooting him up when we got there."
Spade nodded. "He ought to have expected that," he said.
* * * * *
Effie Perine put down her newspaper and jumped out of Spade's chair whenhe came into the office at a little after nine o'clock Monday morning.
He said: "Morning, angel."
"Is that--what the papers have--right?" she asked.
"Yes, ma'am." He dropped his hat on the desk and sat down. His face waspasty in color, but its lines were strong and cheerful and his eyes,though still somewhat red-veined, were clear.
The girl's brown eyes were peculiarly enlarged and there was a queertwist to her mouth. She stood beside him, staring down at him.
He raised his head, grinned, and said mockingly: "So much for yourwoman's intuition."
Her voice was queer as the expression on her face. "You did that, Sam,to her?"
He nodded. "Your Sam's a detective." He looked sharply at her. He puthis arm around her waist, his hand on her hip. "She did kill Miles,angel," he said gently, "offhand, like that." He snapped the fingers ofhis other hand.
She escaped from his arm as if it had hurt her. "Don't, please, don'ttouch me," she said brokenly. "I know--I know you're right. You'reright. But don't touch me now--not now."
Spade's face became pale as his collar.
The corridor-door's knob rattled. Effie Perine turned quickly and wentinto the outer office, shutting the door behind her. When she came inagain she shut it behind her.
She said in a small flat voice: "Iva is here."
Spade, looking down at his desk, nodded almost imperceptibly. "Yes," hesaid, and shivered. "Well, send her in."
[End of The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett]
|Publisher||Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (August 1, 1992)|
She was a lanky sunburned girl whose tan dress of thin woolen stuff clung to her with an effect of dampness. Her eyes were brown and playful in a shiny boyish face. She finished shutting the door behind her, leaned against it, and said: “There's a girl wants to see you. Her name's Wonderly.”Is the Maltese Falcon public domain? ›
Licensing. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published in the United States between 1928 and 1977, inclusive, without a copyright notice.Is The Maltese Falcon Based on a true story? ›
You see 'The Maltese Falcon' by Dashiell Hammett is what we call "a story". It's based on some sort of reality though, except apparently the tribute was in the form of a live bird, payable annually, basically in lieu of rent for the islands of Malta.Does The Maltese Falcon have a happy ending? ›
On the surface, The Maltese Falcon ends happily: The killer gets caught, and the hero winds up with the Falcon. But Spade's victory is completely hollow; he has fallen in love with the murderer, and the Falcon is a worthless forgery.What is the main focus of The Maltese Falcon? ›
The Maltese Falcon is a detective novel that demonstrates the corruption, materialism, and greed of American society in the early twentieth century. It's part of the beginning of the hard-boiled genre, which is detective fiction with a gritty sense of realism flowing through it.Who was the killer in The Maltese Falcon? ›
Miles Archer was killed by Brigid O'Shaughnessy in The Maltese Falcon. Brigid, pretending to be a woman named 'Miss Wonderly,' hired Spade and Archer to investigate the disappearance of her sister, who supposedly is with a man named Floyd Thursby.What was hidden in The Maltese Falcon? ›
It's a solid gold statue encrusted with jewels hiding under a coat of black enamel. Gutman is willing to pay huge sums of money for it because he knows he can receive even more in exchange. The Falcon's backstory is long and convoluted, involving Knights Templar, Charles V of Spain, and a tribute made of jewels.Who is the main character in The Maltese Falcon? ›
"In 1539 the Knight Templars [sic] of Malta, paid tribute to Charles V of Spain, by sending him a Golden Falcon encrusted from beak to claw with rarest jewels—but pirates seized the galley carrying this priceless token and the fate of the Maltese Falcon remains a mystery to this day."What happens at the end of The Maltese Falcon book? ›
At the end of Dashiell Hammett's 1930 novel, The Maltese Falcon, the statue of the falcon turns out to be fake. The pursuit of this statue has inspired murder, a myriad of double-crossings, and a desperate global race between Joel Cairo, Kasper Gutman, and Brigid O'Shaughnessy.Who owns the real Maltese Falcon? ›
Maltese Falcon was built for the late American venture capitalist Tom Perkins, and is now owned by Elena Ambrosiadou. The iconic three-masted schooner is one of the largest sailing yachts in the world.Why was The Maltese Falcon so valuable? ›
It is through Gutman that Spade learns why the black bird ornament is so valuable. The Maltese Falcon is a golden, jewel encrusted statue that the Kings of Rhodes intended as a gift for Emperor Charles V of Spain during the 1530s in exchange for granting them possession of the Island of Malta .Who were the characters in The Maltese Falcon? ›
George segal is sam spade junior, in the black bird, a parody of the maltese falcon.Why was Archer killed Maltese Falcon? ›
She wanted to get Thursby out of the picture so that she could have the Falcon for herself, so she hired Archer to scare him off. When Thursby didn't leave, she killed Archer and attempted to pin the crime on Thursby.Where is The Maltese Falcon now? ›
Today it sits, along with a pair of Picassos, a Matisse, and a Giacometti sculpture, in a meeting room in Wynn's Las Vegas villa. That is the official version of what happened to the Maltese Falcon.What are the best lines from Maltese Falcon? ›
My way of learning is to heave a wild and unpredictable monkey-wrench into the machinery. When a man's partner is killed he's supposed to do something about it. It doesn't make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you're supposed to do something about it.How many versions of Maltese Falcon are there? ›
There were three film versions of The Maltese Falcon. The one everyone is familiar with is the 1941 version starring Humphrey Bogart, but it was actually a remake of the original 1931 version.
The Maltese Falcon explores the importance of a personal code of ethics in a world of incompetent authorities and an imperfect criminal justice system. Throughout the novel, Samuel Spade calls into question the police's ability to apprehend the right criminals.Who is the private eye in Maltese Falcon? ›
Sam Spade, fictional character, the quintessential hard-boiled private detective, the protagonist of a novel (The Maltese Falcon, 1930) and several short stories by Dashiell Hammett.Why was thursby killed in The Maltese Falcon? ›
Gutman says Wilmer killed Thursby to scare Brigid into dealing with them because Thursby was loyal to Brigid.Who killed thursby? ›
Answer and Explanation: In The Maltese Falcon, Floyd Thursby was killed by Wilmer Cook. Wilmer was the flunky for the rich Caspar Gutman, the man who was bankrolling the caper.What happens to Brigid in The Maltese Falcon? ›
Brigid left the falcon with Captain Jacobi in Hong Kong and came to San Francisco with Floyd Thursby. Thursby was Brigid's loyal ally - so killing Thursby would be an intimidating show of force for Brigid and persuade her to ally with them. Gutman had tried to make a deal with Thursby before "giving him the works".Who killed Sam's partner in The Maltese Falcon? ›
Answer and Explanation: In The Maltese Falcon, Sam's partner Miles Archer is killed by Brigid O'Shaughnessy. Brigid hires Sam and Miles to help her find Floyd Thursby, a partner in crime who has double-crossed her.What does gooseberry lay mean in Maltese Falcon? ›
gooseberry lay (plural gooseberry lays) (archaic, thieves' cant) The stealing of linen hanging on a line.What is the bird in The Maltese Falcon? ›
Spade and O'Shaughnessy form an ill-fated alliance as they contend with unscrupulous adventurers who seek a "golden Falcon encrusted from beak to claw with rarest jewels." The Maltese Falcon is widely regarded as the first major film noir of the classic era.Why are Maltese called Maltese? ›
Maltese, breed of toy dog named for the island of Malta, where it may have originated more than 2,500 years ago. Delicate in appearance but usually vigorous, healthy, affectionate, and lively, the Maltese was once the valued pet of the wealthy and aristocratic.Was The Maltese Falcon made of gold? ›
In the film, the falcon – made in 1539 as a gift from the Knights Templar of Malta to Charles V – is really made of gold and is encrusted with jewels, but has been covered in black enamel to disguise its value. It's the black, enamelled version that we see in the opening credits and later on.
First-time director John Huston made a star of Humphrey Bogart with this early example of film noir, adapted from Dashiell Hammett's 1930 detective novel.How many pages is the 620 man? ›
|Publisher||Grand Central Publishing; First Edition (July 12, 2022)|
|Item Weight||2.18 pounds|
Audience Reviews for The Maltese Falcon
If you're a movie lover this is one you must watch because it's the stuff that dreams a made of. Tough and gritty, the film noir classic The Maltese Falcon from 1941 has a fantastic cast, led by Humphrey Bogart in the role of hardboiled detective Sam Spade.
|Publisher||Vintage (November 16, 2021)|
|Item Weight||14.4 ounces|
Answer: the average reader takes about 6.6 hours to read 237 pages. You might take more or less time than 6.6 hours to read 237 pages, depending on your reading speed and the difficulty of your text. The average person's reading speed is around 300 words per minute (WPM).How long is 300 pages? ›
The average reader will read 300 pages in 8.3 hours when reading at a speed of 300 words per minute (wpm). Typical documents that are 300 pages or more include full-length novels. A typical single-spaced page is 500 words long.Why is The Maltese Falcon so valuable? ›
The statuette in Dashiell Hammet's The Maltese Falcon is valuable for several reasons. The first reason is simply for the value of the materials it was made of; gold and gems from the 1500s are valuable in their own right.What is the moral of The Maltese Falcon? ›
The Maltese Falcon explores the importance of a personal code of ethics in a world of incompetent authorities and an imperfect criminal justice system. Throughout the novel, Samuel Spade calls into question the police's ability to apprehend the right criminals.How many books are in the Falcon Falls series? ›
There are 4 books in this series. Select the number of items you want to purchase. There are 4 books in this series.
“... One lives and survives only if one has the ability to swallow and digest bitter and unpalatable things. We, you and I, and our people shall live because there are only a few among us who do not love raw onions.”Who is the character of the wandering falcon? ›
About The Wandering Falcon
In this extraordinary tale, Tor Baz, the young boy descended from both chiefs and outlaws who becomes the Wandering Falcon, moves between the tribes of Pakistan and Afghanistan and their uncertain worlds full of brutality, humanity, deep love, honor, poverty, and grace.
Petey You 100% do not need to even know that The Circle exists to read and enjoy this book. Having read that book might enhance your "enjoyment" of this book, a little, but not necessary at all.How many pages is the golden hour? ›