At 9:20 pm Saturday evening finds Wolfe and Archie at the Hall of Culture, in the middle room with Woody.
Wolfe and Woody are discussing signs that he has displayed on the wall.
Archie has already made a call to Saul, who told him he could find no trace of Brodell running into Diana Kadany or Wade Worthy in New York.
While Wolfe and Woody are discussing, Archie goes to the cabin to get Lily, Diana, and Wade and bring them back for the dance. He shows us some more of Diana’s acting and gets in descriptions of the lady’s clothes.
When they get back to the Hall there isn’t any parking in the front so he parks by the rear platform of the store.
They get inside and Wolfe is against the back wall and the sheriff is about 3 steps to his left. A deputy is off the the right.
Archie asks Wolfe if he has met the sheriff and gets a “No”, asks if he wants to and gets another. He then asks the sheriff if he wants to ask either of them anything and receives yet a third. Thinking that’s enough no’s, he goes over and after giving the doorman $2.00 enters the dance hall.
He and Lily dance a bit and she lets him know that the deputy followed him in. They discuss some of the situation while dancing, which he says they don’t usually do.
There is some good dialog here but you’ll have to read the book to get it. 😉
When the band stops for a break, Archie takes Lily to her favorite table and then takes a tour of the room to see who was there.
He also takes a look at the situation and doesn’t like it. If the sheriff (who is still sitting in the hall) sees Sam Peacock go into talk to Wolfe, he’ll collar Sam when he comes out. And since Sam is the only one Wolfe has had a glimmer out of so far, Archie isn’t real crazy about that idea.
Moving around, and standing near a corner when the band was going, in the next half-hour I saw maybe 183 faces I had seen before, and I had names for about half of them, including most of the people you have met – everybody at Farnham’s, and Pete Ingalls and Emmett Lake at the Bar JR. Pete was dancing with Lily, and she wiggled a finger at me as they went by.
Sam hasn’t shown but the girl that told him he looked awful the week before had. Archie approaches and tries to get her to dance but Sam has already told her about being questioned the night before and she refuses, but he does get her name, which is Peggy Truett. Peggy sees Sam and goes to talk to him.
Archie goes to talk to Wolfe, who he finds in Woody’s Gallery, reading and drinking beer. Archie gives us an interesting description of the room here that is worth reading.
Wolfe wants to know where he has been. Archie, after explaining that the sheriff still sitting outside and about the deputy that is following him around, asks if Wolf if he wants to go. Wolfe wants to finish his book, and poured beer.
Archie wandered around the room looking at the exhibits while Wolfe read, and after putting the bottles and glasses in the kitchen, returns to find Wolfe looking at the back of a rug. Archie notes the Murdock lock on the back door as they go out, and tells Wolfe that he will turn out the lights when he gets back to get Lily and the others.
FWIW – Murdock seems to have been another of Stout’s made-up product names. Or at least a quick search on google and yahoo didn’t turn up anything. Anybody remember a lock company by this name?
Outside, a little light from the draped windows helped some for the first twenty yards, but when we turned the corner of the deepest wing of Vawter’s it was good and dark, with no moon and most of the stars behind clouds.
We took it easy on the rough ground. No other car had joined the station wagon there in back of the building. I had taken the ignition key but hadn’t locked the doors, and leading the way, and regarding it as common courtesy, not pampering, to open the door for Wolfe on his side, I did so. That gave us light, the ceiling light, and the light gave us news. Bad news. We both saw it through the closed window. On the rear seat. Rather, partly on the seat. His torso was on the seat, but his head was hanging over the edge and so was most of his legs.
Archie opens the door and after checking and getting no pulse but noting the skin was warm feels his skull with his finger tips and finds a deep dent.
I backed out and stood and said, “It’s barely possible he’s alive. I stay here and you go in. You’ll have to tell that sheriff sonofabitch, and that’s a lousy break too. Tell him to bring a doctor, there are at least two there.”
Archie gets a flashlight and shows Wolfe the shortest way to the buildings and offers him the flashlight but he didn’t take it.
He spoke. “Wouldn’t it be possible to-”
“You know damn well it wouldn’t. There’s one chance in a million he’s alive, and if so he may talk again. You don’t have to tell him it’s Sam Peacock, just say a man. Here.”
He took the flashlight and went.
And this ends chapter 9.
Wolfe and Archie have certainly stirred up somebody. And it looks like old Sam knew something after all. Remember back a few chapters when Wolfe was questioning him and he stopped and pulled on his neckerchief and told him he asked a lot of questions? Looks like now they have to start digging again.
Comments, corrections, criticism requested.