Excerpt from “The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiell Hammett ~~Take it and like it~~

Brigid O’Shaughnessy smiled at him and said: “But I haven’t got the falcon.”
Cairo’s face was darkened by a flush of annoyance. He put an ugly hand on either arm of his chair, holding his small-boned body erect and stiff between them. His dark eyes were angry.
He did not say anything.
The girl made a mock-placatory face at him. “I’ll have it in a week at the most, though,” she said.
“Where is it?” Cairo used politeness of mien to express scepticism.
“Where Floyd hid it.”
“Floyd? Thursby?”
She nodded.
“And you know where that is?” he asked. “I think I do.”
“Then why must we wait a week?”
“Perhaps not a whole week. Whom are you buying it for, Joe?”
Cairo raised his eyebrows. “I told Mr. Spade. For its owner.”
Surprise illuminated the girl’s face. “So you went back to him?”
“Naturally I did.”
She laughed softly in her throat and said: “I should have liked to have seen that.”
Cairo shrugged. “That was the logical development.” He rubbed the back of one hand with the palm of the other. His upper lids came down to shade his eyes. “Why, if I in turn may ask a question, are you willing to sell to me?”
“I’m afraid,” she said simply, “after what happened to Floyd. That’s why I haven’t it now.
I’m afraid to touch it except to turn it over to somebody else right away.”
Spade, propped on an elbow on the sofa, looked at and listened to them impartially. In the comfortable slackness of his body, in the easy stillness of his features, there was no indication of either curiosity or impatience.
“Exactly what,” Cairo asked in a low voice, “happened to Floyd?”
The tip of Brigid O’Shaughnessy’s right forefinger traced a swift G in the air.
Cairo said, “I see,” but there was something doubting in his smile. “Is he here?”
“I don’t know.” She spoke impatiently. “What difference does it make?”
The doubt in Cairo’s smile deepened. “It might make a world of difference,” he said, and rearranged his hands in his lap so that, intentionally or not, a blunt forefinger pointed at Spade.
The girl glanced at the pointing finger and made an impatient motion with her head. “Or me,” she said, “or you.”
“Exactly, and shall we add more certainly the boy outside?”
“Yes,” she agreed and laughed. “Yes, unless he’s the one you had in Constantinople.”
Sudden blood mottled Cairo’s face. In a shrill enraged voice he cried: “The one you couldn’t make?”
Brigid O’Shaughnessy jumped up from her chair. Her lower lip was between her teeth.
Her eyes were dark and wide in a tense white face. She took two quick steps towards Cairo. He started to rise. Her right hand went out and cracked sharply against his cheek, leaving the imprint of fingers there.
Cairo grunted and slapped her cheek, staggering her side-wise, bringing from her mouth a brief muffled scream.
Spade, wooden of face, was up from the sofa and close to them by then. He caught Cairo by the throat and shook him. Cairo gurgled and put a hand inside his coat. Spade grasped the Levantine’s wrist, wrenched it away from the coat, forced it straight out to the side, and twisted it until the clumsy flaccid fingers opened to let the black pistol fall down on the rug.
Brigid O’Shaughnessy quickly picked up the pistol.
Cairo, speaking with difficulty because of the fingers on his throat, said: “This is the second time you’ve put your hands on me.” His eyes, though the throttling pressure on his throat made them bulge, were cold and menacing.
“Yes,” Spade growled. “And when you’re slapped you’ll take it and like it.” He released Cairo’s wrist and with a thick open hand struck the side of his face three times, savagely. Cairo tried to spit in Spade’s face, but the dryness of the Levantine’s mouth made it only an angry gesture. Spade slapped the mouth, cutting the lower lip.
The door-bell rang.

The 1941 film featured Humphrey Bogart as “Sam Spade”, Mary Astor as “Brigid O’Shaughnessy”, and Peter Lorre as “Joel Cairo”.


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