“And who is this gem?” Dundy asked the girl. “But he didn't have any—”
“Who is he?”shoulders drooped a little and she lowered her eyes. “His name is Boris Smekalov,” she said wearily.
“Spell it.”spelled it.
“Where does he live?”
“At the St. Mark Hotel.”
“Does he do anything for a living except marry money?”came into her face as she raised it, but went away as quickly. “He doesn't do anything,” she said.wheeled to address the gray-faced man. “Get him.”gray-faced man grunted and went out.faced the girl again. “You and this Smekalov det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница in love with each other?”face became scornful. She looked at him with scornful eyes and said nothing.said, “Now your father's dead, will you have enough money for him to marry if his wife divorces him?”covered her face with her hands.said, “Now your father's dead, will—?”, leaning far over, caught her as she fell. He lifted her easily and carried her into the bedroom. When he came back he shut the door behind him and leaned against it. “Whatever the rest of it was,” he said, “the faint's a phony det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница.“
“Everything's a. phony,” Dundy growled.grinned mockingly. “There ought to be a law making criminals give themselves up.”. Bliss smiled and sat down at his brother's desk by the window.'s voice was disagreeable. “You got nothing to worry about,” he said to Spade. “Even your client's dead and can't complain. But if I don't come across I've got to stand for riding from the captain, the chief, the newspapers, and heaven knows who all.”
“Stay with it,” Spade said soothingly; “you'll catch a murderer sooner or later yet.” His face became serious except for det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница the lights in his yellow-gray eyes. “I don't want to run this job up any more alleys than we have to, but don't you think we ought to check up on the funeral the housekeeper said she went to? There's something funny about that woman.”looking suspiciously at Spade for a moment, Dundy nodded, and said, “Tom'11 do it.”turned about and, shaking his ringer at Tom, said, “It's a ten-to-one bet there wasn't any funeral. Check on it … don't miss a trick.”he opened the bedroom door and det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница called Mrs. Hooper. “Sergeant Polhaus wants some information from you,” he told her.Tom was writing down names and addresses that the woman gave him, Spade sat on the sofa and made and smoked a cigarette, and Dundy walked the floor slowly, scowling at the rug. With Spade's approval, Theodore Bliss rose and rejoined his wife in the bedroom.Tom put his note book in his pocket, said, “Thank you,” to the housekeeper, “Be seeing you,” to Spade and Dundy, and left the apartment.housekeeper stood where he had left her, ugly, strong, serene, patient.twisted det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница himself around on the sofa until he was looking into her deep-set, steady eyes. “Don't worry about that,” he said, flirting a hand toward the door Tom had gone through. “Just routine.” He pursed his lips, asked, “What do you honestly think of this thing, Mrs. Hooper?” She replied calmly, in her strong, somewhat harsh voice, “I think it's the judgment of God.” Dundy stopped pacing the floor. Spade said, “What?”was certainty and no excitement in her voice: “The wages of sin is death.”began to advance towards Mrs. Hooper in the manner of one det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница stalking game. Spade waved him back with a hand which the sofa hid from the woman. His face and voice showed interest, but were now as composed as the woman's. “Sin?” he asked.said, “ 'Whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck, and he were cast into the sea.'” She spoke, not as if quoting, but as if saying something she believed.barked a question at her: “What little one?” She turned her grave gray eyes on him, then looked past det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница him at the bedroom door. “Her,” she said; “Miriam.” Dundy frowned at her, “His daughter?” The woman said, “Yes, his own adopted daughter.” Angry blood mottled Dundy's square face. “What the heck is this?” he demanded. He shook his head as if to free it from some clinging thing. “She's not really his daughter?”woman's serenity was in no way disturbed by his anger. “No. His wife was an invalid most of her life. They didn't have any children.”moved his jaws as if chewing for a moment and when he spoke again his voice was cooler det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница. “What did he do to her?”
“I don't know,” she said, “but I truly believe that when the truth's found out you'll see that the money her father—I mean her real father—left her has been—“interrupted her, taking pains to speak very clearly, moving one hand in small circles with his words. “You mean you don't actually know he's been gypping her? You just suspect it?”put a hand over her heart. “I know it here,” she replied calmly.looked at Spade, Spade at Dundy, and Spade's eyes were det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница shiny with not altogether pleasant merriment. Dundy cleared his throat and addressed the woman again. “And you think this”—he waved a hand at the floor where the dead man had lain—“was the judgment of God, huh?”
“I do.”kept all but the barest trace of craftiness out of his eyes. “Then whoever did it was just acting as the hand of God?”
“It's not for me to say,” she replied. Red began to mottle his face again. “That'll be all right now,” he said in a choking voice, but by the time she had reached det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница the bedroom door his eyes became alert again and he called, “Wait a minute.” And when they were facing each other: “Listen, do you happen to be a Rosicrucian?”
“I wish to be nothing but a Christian.”growled, “All right, all right,” and turned his back on her. She went into the bedroom and shut the door. He wiped his forehead with the palm of his right hand and complained wearily, “Great Scott, what a family.”shrugged, “Try investigating your own some time.”'s face whitened. His lips, almost colorless, came back tight over his teeth. He balled his fists and lunged det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница towards Spade. “What do you—?” The pleasantly surprised look on Spade's face stopped him. He averted his eyes, wet his lips with the tip of his tongue, looked at Spade again and away, essayed an embarrassed smile, and mumbled, “You mean any family. Uh-huh, I guess so.” He turned hastily towards the corridor door as the doorbell rang.amusement twitching Spade's face accentuated his likeness to a blond satan.amiable, drawling voice came in through the corridor, door: “I'm Jim Kittredge, Superior Court. I was told to come over here.”'s voice: “Yes det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница, come in.”was a roly-poly ruddy man in too-tight clothes with the shine of age on them. He nodded at Spade and said, “I remember you, Mr. Spade, from the Burke-Harris suit.”said, “Sure,” and stood up to shake hands with him.had gone to the bedroom door to call Theodore Bliss and his wife. Kittredge looked at them, smiled at them amiably, said, “How do you do?” and turned to Dundy. “That's them, all right.” He looked around as if for a place to spit, found none, and said, “It was just about ten det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница minutes to four that the gentleman there came in the courtroom and asked me how long His Honor would be, and I told him about ten minutes, and they waited there; and right after court adjourned at four o'clock we married them.”said, “Thanks.” He sent Kittredge away, the Blisses back to the bedroom, scowled with dissatisfaction at Spade, and said, “So what?”, sitting down again, replied, “So you couldn't get from here to the Municipal Building in less than fifteen minutes on a bet, so he couldnt've ducked back here while he was waiting for the judge det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница, and he couldn't have hustled over here to do it after the wedding and before Miriam arrived.”dissatisfaction in Dundy's face increased. He opened his mouth, but shut it in silence when the gray-faced man came in with a tall, slender, pale young man who fitted the description the Filipino had given of Miriam Bliss's companion.gray-faced man said, “Lieutenant Dundy, Mr. Spade, Mr. Boris—uh—Smekalov.”nodded curtly.began to speak immediately. His accent was not heavy enough to trouble his hearers much, though his r's sounded more like w's. “Lieutenant det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница, I must beg of you that you keep this confidential. If it should get out it will ruin me, Lieutenant, ruin me completely and most unjustly. I am most innocent, sir, I assure you, in heart, spirit, and deed, not only innocent, but in no way whatever connected with any part of the whole horrible matter. There is no —”
“Wait a minute.” Dundy prodded Smekalov's chest with a blunt finger. “Nobody's said anything about you being mixed up in anything —but it'd looked better if you'd stuck around.”young man spread his arms, his det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница palms forward, in an expansive gesture. “But what can I do? I have a wife who—“ He shook his head violently. “It is impossible. I cannot do it.”gray-faced man said to Spade in an inadequately subdued voice, “Goofy, these Russians.”screwed up his eyes at Smekalov and made his voice judicial. “You've probably,” he said, “put yourself in a pretty tough spot.”seemed about to cry. “But only put yourself in my place,” he begged, “and you—“
“Wouldn't want to.” Dundy seemed, in his callous way, sorry for the young man. “Murder's nothing to play det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница with in this country.”
“Murder! But I tell you, Lieutenant, I happen' to enter into this situation by the merest mischance only. I am not—”
“You mean you came in here with Miss Bliss by accident?”young man looked as if he would like to say “Yes.” He said, “No,” slowly, then went on with increasing rapidity: “But that was nothing, sir, nothing at all. We had been to lunch. I escorted her home and she said, 'Will you come in for a cocktail?' and I would. That is all, I give you my word.” He held out det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница his hands, palms up. “Could it not have happened so to you?” He moved his hands in Spade's direction. “To you?”said, “A lot of things happen to me. Did Bliss know you were running around with his daughter?”
“He knew we were friends, yes.”
“Did he know you had a wife?”said cautiously, “I do not think so.”said, “You know he didn't.”moistened his lips and did not contradict the lieutenant.asked, “What do you think he'd've done if he found out?”
“I do not know, sir.”stepped close to the young det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница man and spoke through his teeth in a harsh, deliberate voice: “What did he do when he found out?”young man retreated a step, his face white and frightened.bedroom door opened and Miriam Bliss came into the room. “Why don't you leave him alone?” she asked indignantly. “I told you he had nothing to do with it. I told you he didn't know anything about it.” She was beside Smekalov now and had one of his hands in hers. “You're simply making trouble for him without doing a bit of good. I'm awfully det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница sorry, Boris, I tried to keep them from bothering you.”young man mumbled unintelligibly.
“You tried, all right,” Dundy agreed. He addressed Spade: “Could it've been like this, Sam? Bliss found out about the wife, knew they had the lunch date, came home early to meet them when they came in, threatened to tell the wife, and was choked to stop him.” He looked sidewise at the girl. “Now, if you want to fake another faint, hop to it.”young man screamed and flung himself at Dundy, clawing with both hands. Dundy grunted —“Uh!” —and struck him in the det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница face with a heavy fist. The young man went backwards across the room until he collided with a chair. He and the chair went down on the floor together. Dundy said to the gray-faced man, “Take him down to the Hall—material witness.”gray-faced man said, “Oke,” picked up Smekalov's hat, and went over to help pick him up.Bliss, his wife, and the housekeeper had come to the door Miriam Bliss had left open. Miriam Bliss was crying, stamping her foot, threatening Dundy: “I'll report you, you coward. You had no right to . . .” and det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница so on. Nobody paid much attention to her; they watched the gray-faced man help Smekalov to his feet, take him away. Smekalov's nose and mouth were red smears.Dundy said, “Hush,” negligently to Miriam Bliss and took a slip of paper from his pocket. “I got a list of the calls from here today. Sing out when you recognize them.”read a telephone number.. Hooper said, “That is the butcher. I phoned him before I left this morning.” She said the next number Dundy read was the grocer's.read another.
“That's the St. Mark det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница,” Miriam Bliss said. “I called up Boris.” She identified two more numbers as those of friends she had called.sixth number, Bliss said, was his brother's office. “Probably my call to Elise to ask her to meet me.”said “Mine,” to the seventh number, and Dundy said, “That last one's police emergency.” He put the slip back in his pocket.said cheerfully, “And that gets us a lot of places.”doorbell rang.went to the door. He and another man could be heard talking in voices too low for their words to be recognized in the living room.telephone det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница rang. Spade answered it. “Hello. . . . No, this is Spade. Wait a min—All right.” He listened. “Right, I'll tell him. … I don't know. I'll have him call you. . . ..”he turned from the telephone Dundy was standing, hands behind him, in the vestibule doorway. Spade said, “O'Gar says your Russian went completely nuts on the way to the Hall. They had to shove him into a strait-jacket.”
“He ought to been there long ago,” Dundy growled. “Come here.”followed Dundy into the vestibule. A uniformed policeman stood in the outer doorway.brought his hands from det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница behind him. In one was a necktie with narrow diagonal stripes in varying shades of green, in the other was a platinum scarfpin in the shape of a crescent set with small diamonds.bent over to look at three small, irregular spots on the tie. “Blood?”
“Or dirt,” Dundy said. “He found them crumpled up in a newspaper in the rubbish can on the corner.”
“Yes, sir,” the uniformed man said proudly; “there I found them, all wadded up in—” He stopped because nobody was paying any attention to him.
“Blood's better,” Spade was saying. “It gives det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница a reason for taking the tie away. Let's go in and talk to people.”stuffed the tie in one pocket, thrust his hand holding the pin into another. “Right —and we'll call it blood.”went into the living-room. Dundy looked from Bliss to Bliss's wife, to Bliss's niece, to the housekeeper, as if he did not like any of them. He took his fist from his pocket, thrust it straight out in front of him, and opened it to show the crescent pin lying in his hand. “What's that?” he demanded.Bliss was the det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница first to speak. “Why, it's Father's pin,” she said.
“So it is?” he said disagreeably. “And did he have it on today?”
“He always wore it.” She turned to the others for confirmation.. Bliss said, “Yes,” while the others nodded.
“Where did you find it?” the girl asked.was surveying them one by one again, as if he liked them less than ever. His face was red. “He always wore it,” he said angrily, “but there wasn't one of you could say, 'Father always wore a pin. Where is it?' No, we got to det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница wait till it turns up before we can get a word out of you about it.”said, “Be fair. How were we to know— ?”
“Never mind what you were to know,” Dundy said. “It's coming around to the point where I'm going to do some talking about what I know.” He took the green necktie from his pocket. “This is his tie?”. Hooper said, “Yes, sir.”said, “Well, it's got blood on it, and it's not his blood, because he didn't have a scratch on him that we could see.” He looked narrow-eyed from det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница one to another of them. “Now, suppose you were trying to choke a man that wore a scarfpin and he was wrestling with you, and—”broke off to look at Spade.had crossed to where Mrs. Hooper was standing. Her big hands were clasped in front of her. He took her right hand, turned it over, took the wadded handkerchief from her palm, and there was a two-inch-long fresh scratch in the flesh.had passively allowed him to examine her hand. Her mien lost none of its tranquillity now. She said nothing.
“Well?” he asked.
“I scratched it det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница on Miss Miriam's pin fixing her on the bed when she fainted,” the housekeeper said calmly.'s laugh was brief, bitter. “It'll hang you just the same,” he said.was no change in the woman's face. “The Lord's will be done,” she replied.:made a peculiar noise in his throat as he dropped her hand. “Well, let's see how we stand.” He grinned at Dundy. “You don't like that star-T, do you?”said, “Not by a long shot.”
“Neither do I,” Spade said. “The Talbot threat was probably on the level, but that det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница debt seems to have been squared. Now— Wait a minute.” He went to the telephone and called his office. “The tie thing looked pretty funny, too, for a while,” he said while he waited, “but I guess the blood takes care of that.”spoke into the telephone: “Hello, Effie. Listen: Within half an hour or so of the time Bliss called me, did you get any call that maybe wasn't on the level? Anything that could have been a stall… Yes, before… Think now.put his hand over the mouthpiece and said to Dundy, “There's det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница a lot of deviltry going on in this world.”spoke into the telephone again: “Yes? . . . Yes . . . Kruger? . . . Yes. Man or woman? . . . Thanks. . . . No, I'll be through in half an hour. Wait for me and I'll buy your dinner. 'By.”turned away from the telephone. “About half an hour before Bliss phoned, a man called my office and asked for Mr. Kruger.”frowned. “So what?”
“Kruger wasn't there.”'s frown deepened. “Who's Kruger?”
“I don't know,” Spade said blandly. “I never heard of him.” He took tobacco and cigarette papers from his pockets. “All right, Bliss, where det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница's your scratch?”Bliss said, “What?” while the others stared blankly at Spade.
“Your scratch,” Spade repeated in a consciously patient tone. His attention was on the cigarette he was making. “The place where your brother's pin gouged you when you were choking him.”
“Are you crazy?” Bliss demanded. “I was—”
“Uh-huh, you were being married when he was killed. You were not.” Spade moistened the edge of his cigarette paper and smoothed it with his forefingers.. Bliss spoke now, stammering a little: “But he—but Max Bliss called—“
“Who says Max Bliss called me?” Spade asked det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница. “I don't know that. I wouldn't know his voice. All I know is a man called me and said he was Max Bliss. Anybody could say that.”
“But the telephone records here show the call came from here,” she protested.shook his head and smiled. “They show I had a call from here, and I did, but not that one. I told you somebody called up half an hour or so before the supposed Max Bliss call and asked for Mr. Kruger.” He nodded at Theodore Bliss. “He was smart enough to get a call from this det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница apartment to my office on the record before he left to meet you.stared from Spade to her husband with dumfounded blue eyes.husband said lightly, “It's nonsense, my dear. You know—“did not let him finish that sentence. “You know he went out to smoke a cigarette in the corridor while waiting for the judge, and he knew there were telephone booths in the corridor. A minute would be all he needed.” He lit his cigarette and returned his lighter to his pocket.said, “Nonsense!” more sharply. “Why should I want to kill Max det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница?” He smiled reassuringly into his wife's horrified eyes. “Don't let this disturb you, dear. Police methods are sometimes—”
“All right,” Spade said, “let's look you over for scratches.”wheeled to face him more directly. “Damned if you will!” He put a hand behind him., wooden-faced and dreamy-eyed, came forward.and Effie Ferine sat at a small table in Julius's Castle on Telegraph Hill. Through the window beside them ferryboats could be seen carrying lights to and from the cities' lights on the other side of the bay.
”. . . hadn't gone there to kill det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница him, chances are,” Spade was saying; “just to shake him down for some more money; but when the fight started, once he got his hands on his throat, I guess, his grudge was too hot in him for him to let go till Max was dead. Understand, I'm just putting together what the evidence says, and what we got out of his wife, and the not much that we got out of him.”nodded. “She's a nice, loyal wife.”drank coffee, shrugged. “What for? She knows now that he made his play for her only because she was Max det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница's secretary. She knows that when he took out the marriage license a couple of weeks ago it was only to string her along so she'd get him the photostatic copies of the records that tied Max up with the Graystone Loan swindle. She knows—Well, she knows she wasn't just helping an injured innocent to clear his good name.”took another sip of coffee. “So he calls on his brother this afternoon to hold San Quentin over his head for a price again, and there's a fight, and he kills him, and gets his wrist det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница scratched by the pin while he's choking him. Blood on the tie, a scratch on his wrist—that won't do. He takes the tie off the corpse and hunts up another, because the absence of a tie will set the police to thinking. He gets a bad break there: Max's new ties are on the front of the rack, and he grabs the first one he comes to. All right. Now he's got to put it around the dead man's neck—or wait—he gets a better idea. Pull off some more clothes det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница and puzzle the police. The tie'll be just as inconspicuous off as on, if the shirt's off too. Undressing him, he gets another idea. He'll give the police something else to worry about, so he draws a mystic sign he has seen somewhere on the dead man's chest.”emptied his cup, set it down, and went on: “By now he's getting to be a regular master-mind at bewildering the police. A threatening letter signed with the thing on Max's chest. The afternoon mail is on the desk. One envelope's as good as another det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница so long as it's typewritten and has no return address, but the one from France adds a touch of the foreign, so out comes the original letter and in goes the threat. He's overdoing it now; see? He's giving us so much that's wrong that we can't help suspecting things that seem all right—the phone call, for instance.
“Well, he's ready for the phone calls now—his alibi. He picks my name out of the private detectives in the phone book and does the Mr. Kruger trick; but that's after det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница he calls the blonde Elise and tells her that not only have the obstacles to their marriage been removed, but he's had an offer to go in business in New York and has to leave right away, and will she meet him in fifteen minutes and get married? There's more than just an alibi to that. He wants to make sure she is dead sure he didn't kill Max, because she knows he doesn't like Max, and he doesn't want her to think he was just stringing her along to get the dope on Max det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница, because she might be able to put two and two together and get something like the right answer.
“With that taken care of, he's ready to leave. He goes out quite openly, with only one thing to worry about now—the tie and pin in his pocket. He takes the pin along because he's not sure the police mightn't find traces of blood around the setting of the stones, no matter how carefully he wipes it. On his way out he picks up a newspaper—buys one from the newsboy he meets at the det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница street door—wads tie and pin up in a piece of it, and drops it in the rubbish can at the corner. That seems all right. No reason for the police to look for the tie. No reason for the street cleaner who empties the can to investigate a crumpled piece of newspaper, and if something does go wrong—what the deuce!—the murderer dropped it there, but he,, can't be the murderer, because he's going to have an alibi.
“Then he jumps in his car and drives to the Municipal Building. He knows there are plenty of det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница phones there and he can always say he's got to wash his hands, but it turns out he doesn't have to. While they're waiting for the judge to get through with a case he goes out to smoke a cigarette, and there you are—'Mr. Spade, this is Max Bliss and I've been threatened.'”Ferine nodded, then asked, “Why do you suppose he picked on a private detective instead of the police?”
“Playing safe. If the body had been found, meanwhile, the police might've heard of it and trace the call. A det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница private detective wouldn't be likely to hear about it till he read it in the papers.”laughed, then said, “And that was your luck.”
“Luck? I don't know.” He looked gloomily at the back of his left hand. “I hurt a knuckle stopping him and the job only lasted an afternoon. Chances are whoever's handling the estate'll raise hob if I send them a bill for any decent amount of money.” He raised a hand to attract the waiter's attention. “Oh, well, better luck next time. Want to catch a movie or have you got something det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница else to do?”ASSISTANT MURDERERON THE DOOR, edged with black, said ALEXANDER RUSH, PRIVATE DETECTIVE. Inside, an ugly man sat tilted back in a chair, his feet on a yellow desk.office was in no way lovely. Its furnishings were few and old with the shabby age of second-handom. A shredding square of dun carpet covered the floor. On one buff wall hung a framed certificate that licensed Alexander Rush to pursue the calling of private detective in the city of Baltimore in accordance with certain red-numbered regulations. A map of the city hung on another wall det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница. Beneath the map a frail bookcase, small as it was, gaped emptily around its contents: a yellowish railway guide, a smaller hotel directory, and street and telephone directories for Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia. An insecure oaken clothes-tree held up a black derby and a black overcoat beside a white sink in one corner. The four chairs in the room were unrelated to one another in everything except age. The desk's scarred top held, in addition to the proprietor's feet, a telephone, a black-clotted inkwell, a disarray of papers having generally to do with criminals det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница who had escaped from one prison or another, and a grayed ashtray that held as much ash and as many black cigar stumps as a tray of its size could expect to hold. An ugly office—the proprietor was uglier. His head was squatly pear-shaped. Excessively heavy, wide, blunt at the jaw, it narrowed as it rose to the close-cropped, erect grizzled hair that sprouted above a low, slanting forehead. His complexion was of a rich darkish red, his skin tough in texture and rounded over thick cushions of fat. These fundamental inelegancies were by no means all det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница his ugliness. Things had been done to his features. One way you looked at his nose, you said it was crooked. Another way, you said it could not be crooked; it had no shape at all. Whatever your opinion of its form, you could not deny its color. Veins had been broken to pencil its already florid surface with brilliant red stars and curls and puzzling scrawls that looked as if they must have some secret meanings. His lips were thick, tough-skinned. Between them showed the brassy glint of two solid rows of gold teeth, the lower row det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница lapping the upper, so undershot was the bulging jaw. His eyes —small, deep-set and pale blue of iris—were bloodshot to a degree that made you think he had a heavy cold. His ears accounted for some of his earlier years: they were the thickened, twisted cauliflower ears of the pugilist.man of forty-something, ugly, sitting tilted back in his chair, feet on desk.gilt-labeled door opened and another man came into the office. Perhaps ten years younger than the man at the desk, he was, roughly speaking, everything that one was not. Fairly tall det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница, slender, fair-skinned, brown-eyed, he would have been as little likely to catch your eye in a gambling house as in an art gallery. His clothes—suit and hat were gray—were fresh and properly pressed, and even fashionable in that inconspicuous manner which is one sort of taste. His face was likewise unobtrusive, which was surprising when you considered how narrowly it missed handsomeness through the least meagerness of mouth—a mark of the too cautious man.steps into the office he hesitated, brown eyes glancing from shabby furnishings to ill-visaged proprietor. So much ugliness seemed to det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница disconcert the man in gray. An apologetic smile began on his lips, as if he were about to murmur, “I beg your pardon, I'm in the wrong office.”when he finally spoke it was otherwise. He took another step forward, asking uncertainly:
“You are Mr. Rush?”
“Yeah.” The detective's voice was hoarse with a choking harshness that seemed to corroborate the heavy-cold testimony of his eyes. He put his feet down on the floor and jerked a fat, red hand at a chair. “Sit down, sir.”man in gray sat down, tentatively upright on the chair det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница's front edge.
“Now what can I do for you?” Alec Rush croaked amiably.
“I want —I wish —I would like—” and further than that the man in gray said nothing. —
“Maybe you'd better just tell me what's wrong,” the detective suggested. “Then I'll know what you want of me,” and he smiled.was kindliness in Alec Rush's smile, and it was not easily resisted. True, his smile was a horrible grimace out of a nightmare, but that was its charm. When your gentle-countenanced man smiles there is small gain: his smile det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница expresses little more than his reposed face. But when Alec Rush distorted his ogre's mask so that jovial friendliness peeped incongruously from his savage red eyes, from his brutal metal-studded mouth—then that was a heartening, a winning thing.
“Yes, I daresay that would be better.” The man in gray sat back in his chair, more comfortably, less transiently. “Yesterday on Fayette Street, I met a—a young woman I know. I hadn't—we hadn't met for several months. That isn't really pertinent, however. But after we separated—we had talked for a few minutes det_hardQueenAdventures of Sam Spade and Other Stories 4 страница—I saw a man. That is, he came out of a doorway and went down the street in the same direction she had taken, and I got the idea he was following her. She turned into Liberty Street and he did likewise. Countless people walk along that same route, and the idea that he was following her seemed fantastic, so much so that I dismissed it and went on about my business.
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