This chapter starts out with Wolfe being out of character by shaking Lily’s hand. And this after riding in a plane and a taxi! He wants Archie back BAD!
Wolfe apologizes to Lily for coming without calling first. She responds and insists he check out of the motel and stay with them at the lodge. He finely gives in somewhat and agrees to let Archie send the cabbie to get his luggage and bring it back.
The cabbie is given money and sent back to Timberburg to settle on the room, retrieve the luggage, and return with it. This would be a 50+ round trip on mountain roads and then he would have another 25+ mile trip back, so he was a bit reluctant, but agreed to it, rather than having to wait till whenever Wolfe was ready to leave, especially after Archie told him it might be well after midnight.
When Archie goes into the room that Lily has taken Wolfe to we are treated to a description of Wolfe’s attire and a quick poke at his size being too much for the chair he was in. Wolfe greets him:
He said,” There’s a brook out there,” and opened his eyes.
There is some classic Archie here that you need to read if you are reading along. 😉
Lily brings beer and milk and then leaves them alone.
Wolfe tries the unfamiliar beer (Mountain Brewery, Butte) as Archie cracks wise about another brand that he thinks “they put copper in”. — From that remark there must be/have been copper mining in the area.
Archie gets Wolfe another chair and another beer.
They have quite a discussion, including but not limited to:
Wolfe getting Archie’s letter and getting a old client, Oliver McFarland (anyone remember which story or if he appears in the corpus elsewhere?) , to get the Montana Attorney General to call and answer questions.
The known facts of the case as they both understand them.
The innocence of Harvey Greve.
Who Archie thinks is guilty.
They decide to try to work together, with the usual snipping by Archie about he being able to but not knowing if Wolfe could do it.
Lily is summoned, after a false start by Wolfe, which is self-corrected.
Wolfe asks if he may stay there and Lily responds with:
“Of course.” She was controlling a smile. “Archie has quoted you as saying once that a guest is a jewel on the cushion of hospitality. I know too much about you to expect you to be a jewel, but neither will you be an abomination. You could have just told Archie to come and tell me you were going to stay, instead of getting me in and asking me. You did it very nicely. I know how you feel about guests and hosts; I have dined at your house. Before you go to bed, tell me if you want anything.”
Wolfe wants an electric blanket! They are in the mountains and even in August it gets cold there. Archie had told him earlier that “When I went to bed at two o’clock Sunday morning it was thirty-six above.” for those not reading along…
Other than the blanket, he wants Lily to stay and talk with them. As soon as she agrees, he asks her where she was when the killing took place, and explains that he must know for certain if he is to be a guest in her house.
Archie is proud of the way she answers. It’s a classic but you’re gonna have to read the book the get this one… 😉
After a bit more question and answer, Wolfe then asks Archie if he had killed Brodell.
Archie: “No. I was wondering why you didn’t ask.”
Wolfe admits to being tired but wants to go on.
The next bit is more descriptions of where who was and when. I could describe it blow by blow but that’s what we have the book for, so I’ll just say that there is at least one clue in this section of the chapter. I don’t think I saw it before and as it might be a spoiler I won’t point it out. 😉
The chapter ends with the taxi coming back with Wolfe’s luggage. Now with most writers that wouldn’t be an informative section but Stout wasn’t like most writers! Here is one of the scenes I read and reread the corpus for:
I stopped because I heard a car out front. Lily rose, but I said I would go, and when I did she came along, down the hall and on out to the terrace. It was the taxi, and the hackie had opened the rear door and was lifting out a big tan leather suitcase which hadn’t been out of the basement storeroom in the brownstone on West 35th Street for six years. The new guest’s luggage had come.
I love the descriptiveness of that paragraph. In it Archie tells us that the last trip Wolf had taken was 6 years ago. Which case? Anyone? He also lets us know that Lily has a mind of her own and is not afraid to do what she wants. Of course their first meeting, (those many years ago) in Some Buried Caesar, showed us that!
With that comes the end to 4th chapter in Death of a Dude. I hope you are having as much fun reading this as I am.
Comments, corrections, criticism requested.