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Some Excellent Words

Some Excellent Words

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Published by Sam Ashken
my favourite sections from some of my favourite novels, plays, and works of non-fiction.
my favourite sections from some of my favourite novels, plays, and works of non-fiction.

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Published by: Sam Ashken on Jul 15, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Cairo cried in a voice shrill with indignation: ³Suppose we give them you, Mr Spade, or Miss O¶Shaugnessy? How about that if you¶re so set on giving themsomebody?´Spade smiled at the Levantine and answered him evenly: ³You people want thefalcon. I¶ve got it. A fall-guy is part of the price I¶m asking. As for Miss O¶Shaugnessy´ ± his dispassionate glance moved to her white perplexed face and then back to Cairo andhis shoulders rose and fell a fraction of an inch ± ³if you think she can be rigged for the part I¶m perfectly willing to discuss it with you.´The girl put her hand to her throat, uttered a short strangled cry, and movedfarther away from him.Cairo, his face and body twisting with excitement, exclaimed: ³You seem toforget that you are not in a position to insist on anything.´Spade laughed a harsh, derisive snort.Gutman said, in a low voice that tried to make firmness ingratiating: ³Come now,gentlemen, let¶s keep our discussion on a friendly basis; but there certainly is´ ± he wasaddressing Spade ± ³something in what Mr Cairo says. You must take into considerationthe-³³Like hell I must.´ Spade flung his words out with a brutal sort of carelessnessthat gave them more weight than they could have got from dramatic emphasis or loudness. ³If you kill me, how are you going to get the bird? If I know you can¶t afford tokill 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. His eyestwinkled between his puckered lips. Presently he gave his genial answer: ³Well, sir, thereare other means of persuasion besides killing and threatening to kill.´³Sure,´ Spade agreed, ³but they¶re not much good unless the threat of death is behind them to hold the victim down. See what I mean? If you try anything I don¶t like Iwon¶t stand for it. I¶ll make it a matter of your having to call it off or kill me, knowingyou can¶t afford to kill me.´³I see what you mean,³ Gutman chuckled. ³That is an attitude which calls for themost delicate judgement on both sides, because, as you know, sir, men are likely to forgetin the heat of the action where their best interest lies and let their emotions carry themaway.´Spade too was all smiling blandness: ³That¶s the trick, from my side,´ he said, ³tomake my play strong enough that it ties you up, but yet not make you mad enough to bump me off against your better judgement.´Gutman said fondly:´ By Gad, sir, you are a character!´From
The Maltese Falcon.
There was a hanging light in Patton¶s headquarters but the shack was empty and hisµBack in Twenty Minutes¶ sign was still against the inside of the glass part of the door. Ikept on going down to the boat-landing and beyond to the edge of the desertedswimming-beach. A few put-puts and speedboats were still fooling around on the silkywater. Across the lake tiny yellow lights began to show in toy cabins perched onminiature slopes. A single bright star glowed low in the north-east above the ridge of themountains. A robin sat on the spike top of a hundred-foot pine and waited for it to bedark enough for him to sing his good-night song.In a little while it was dark enough and he sang and went away into the invisibledepths of sky. I snapped my cigarette into the motionless water a few feet away andclimbed back into the car and started in the direction of Little Fawn Lake.From
The Lady in the Lake.
The pebbled glass door panel is lettered in flaked black paint: µ
hillip Marlowe. . . . Investigations
¶. It is a reasonably shabby door at the end of a reasonably shabby corridor that was new at about the year the all-tile bathroom became the basis of civilization. Thedoor is locked, but next to it is another door with the same legend which is not locked.Come on in ± there¶s nobody in here but me and a big bluebottle fly. But not if you¶refrom Manhattan, Kansas.From
The Little Sister.

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