Please Pass The Guilt – Chapter 10

After all these years with Wolfe, Archie finally looks up the word “seduced” in the dictionary! shows it as:

se·duce (sĭ-dūs’, -dyūs’)
tr.v., -duced, -duc·ing, -duc·es.
1 To lead away from duty, accepted principles, or proper conduct. See synonyms at lure.
2 To induce to engage in sex.
3 a To entice or beguile into a desired state or position.
b To win over; attract.
[Middle English seduisen, from Old French seduire, seduis-, alteration (influenced by Medieval Latin sēdūcere, to lead astray) of suduire, to seduce, from Latin subdūcere, to withdraw : sub-, sub- + dūcere, to lead.]

His dictionary is a bit more old fashion:

1. To persuade (one) as into disobedience, disloyalty, or desertion of a lord or cause.
2. To lead or drew (one) aside or astray, as into an evil, foolish, or disastrous course or action from that which is god, wise, etc; as to be deduced into war; to seduce one from his duty; to tempt or entice; as, pleasures that seduced her from home.
3. To induce to evil; to corrupt, specif., to induce to surrender chastity; to debauch.”

He goes on to say:

Even on the 3 I couldn’t charge him at some appropriate moment with having asked me to go too far, since we had no evidence that either of them had any chastity to surrender.

Even in small doses the way Stout crafted with words continues to amaze me.

He laments that on Saturday, instead of being at Shea Stadium, he was out on Long Island Sound in the cockpit of a 30 foot boat, by the name of Happygolucky, removing a flounder from Sylvia Venner’s line. Seems that she didn’t like dancing or baseball, had already seen all the shows in town, wouldn’t like Rusterman’s because she was on a diet, but liked to fish as long as she didn’t have to touch one.

We (the ones reading along that is) next get to see the siftings of the past 56 hours from Saul and Fred and Orrie but if you’re not reading along you didn’t miss much.

He and Wolfe had talked it over Friday night and decided the Odell didn’t supply the bomb himself because his wife would have known it and wouldn’t have paid them a 100 grand to dig into it. Other things were also discussed but nothing useful deduced.

The scene coming up is one of the better ones in the book if not the corpus.

Archie gets back to his present and starts telling us about Sylvia, how she looked and that she had quit bothering with the dimples. After Archie’s aside about what they had for lunch he gets to where she asks him if he knows what etymology is.

He does and brings Wolfe into the discussion.

She counters with:

“I think words are fascinating. I was thinking, looking at you while you were dropping the anchor, take words like ‘pecker’ and ‘prick.’ In their vulgar sense, or maybe I should say their colloquial sense.”

Without batting an eye I said, “You mean ‘prick’ as a noun. Not as a verb”

She nodded. “Yes, a noun. It means ‘a pointed instrument,’ and ‘peck’ means ‘to strike repeatedly and often with a pointed instrument.’ So the definition of ‘pecker’ and ‘prick’ is identical.”

“Sure. I’ve never looked them up, but evidently you have.”

“Of course. In Webster and in the OED. There’s an OED at the office. Of course the point is that – well, well, there’s a pun. ‘Point.’ The point is that they both begin with p, and ‘penis’ begins with p.”

“I’ll be damned. It certainly does.”

There’s your taste. It degenerates (?) from there. 😉

After the discussion of the suppression of the V by the P or something like that, she asks him when he’s gonna start with the questions.

He responds in typical Archie fashion and gets the conversation turned to who she thinks planted the bomb. After an interlude with a snarled line she tells him a little about the scene when she got to the room after the bomb had gone off. She suspects that Ken Meer had done it. And he did have blood on his hands when she got there.

Her reasoning is a bit convoluted and I’ll let you puzzle it out for yourself.

Archie doesn’t think he learned anything of any value or as he put it: I had got all the questions in but had nothing to light a fire with.

He carries her home and when he gets to the Brownstone Wolfe if eating so he goes to the kitchen and ate with Fritz.

Later in the office Wolfe wants to Archie to “exhibit” her. He does with glee, enjoying the description of the picnic lunch but Wolfe isn’t so enthused.

The description of the discussion of words is priceless! Wolfe seems to think that she may have made a contribution to linguistics but he isn’t sure and goes to get a book. After words from Archie he puts it aside and they resume.

As Fritz had left to spend a night and a day and another night as he saw fit Archie brings Wolfe a beer as he heads out to join Lily at the Flamingo.

The end of chapter 10 and it doesn’t look like they have anything firm or even middling soft. Well, Wolfe has a book to read. 😉

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.


Albert Freyer; Counselor at Law aka David E. Patty

Email –

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