Quotations:The Black Mountain

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by Rex Stout (1954)
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  1. Page references follow the 1955 Bantam Books edition, in which the novel is 143 pages long.
  2. This description is at odds with what Archie Goodwin claims, five years later (1959) in chapter 13 of Plot It Yourself, happened when Wolfe heard of Marko's death. Credit goes to our contributor Adonis Guilfoyle for pointing out the inconsistency. [Faterson]


A lot of the talk I report was in languages I am not on speaking terms with [...]


Nero Wolfe hears of Marko Vukcic's death in chapter 1, page 2 [1]

  I would have preferred to go on talking, but had to stop to clear my throat. Wolfe had put down his knife and fork, quietly and properly, on his plate. His eyes were levelled at me, but he wasn’t scowling. A corner of his mouth twitched, and after a moment twitched again. To stop it he compressed his lips.[2]  

Archie Goodwin to a police sergeant, ib., page 3

  “[...] Also I am an accountant, an amanuensis, and a cocklebur. Eight to five you never heard the word amanuensis and you never saw a cocklebur.”  

ib., page 7

Since that was the first time to my knowledge that he [Wolfe] had ever started investigating a murder by a personal visit to the scene of the crime – not counting the occasions when he had been jerked loose by some other impulse, such as saving my life – I was curious to see how he would proceed. It was a chance he had seldom had.  

Archie Goodwin & Nero Wolfe in chapter 3, page 26f

  “Saul will smell it. He’ll know.”

“Let him. He won’t know where she is, and even if he did, no matter. Who is more trustworthy, Saul or you?”

“I would say Saul. I have to watch myself pretty close.”

“Yes. [...]

Wolfe hears of Carla's death, ib., page 30

  He looked down at his thighs, then at the right arm of his chair, then at the left arm, as if to verify the fact that he really was sitting. Abruptly he shoved his chair back, arose, and moved. He went to the television cabinet and stood a while staring at the screen, then turned and crossed to the most conspicuous object in the office, not counting him – the thirty-six-inch globe – twirled it, stopped it, and studied geography a minute or two. He about-faced, went to his desk, picked up a book he was halfway through – But We Were Born Free by Elmer Davis – crossed to the bookshelves, and eased the book in between two others.

Wolfe to Archie in chapter 4, page 32

  Silence. I crossed my legs. He surrendered. “Very well. If I hadn’t let you grow into a habit I could have done this without you. Come on.”  

Role reversal ib., page 35

All my life, needing a steer in new surroundings, all I had had to do was look at signs and, if that failed, ask a native. Now I was sunk. The signs were not my kind. I stopped and looked at Wolfe.

“This way,” he informed me. “The customs.”

The basic setup between him and me was upset, and I didn’t like it.

Report arrangements ib., page 37

  His [Wolfe's] face came round to me. It was grim. I got closer to his ear. “About the babble. How many languages do you speak?”

He [Wolfe] had to jerk his mind onto it. “Eight.”

“I speak one. Also I understand one. This is going to be too much for me. What I see ahead will be absolutely impossible except on one condition. When you’re talking with people, I can’t expect you to translate as you go along, but you will afterward, the first chance we get. I’ll try to be reasonable about it, but when I ask for it I want it. Otherwise I might as well ride this thing back to Rome.”

His teeth were clenched. “This is a choice spot for an ultimatum.”

“Nuts. You might as well have brought a dummy. I said I’ll be reasonable, but I’ve been reporting to you for a good many years and it won’t hurt you to report to me for a change.”

“Very well. I submit.”  

Wolfe explains to Archie their relationship in Montenegro, in chapter 5, page 47

  [Nero Wolfe to Archie Goodwin:][...] Your name is Alex.”

“Oh. It is.”

“It is if you go with me. There are good reasons why it would be better for you to stay here, but confound it, you’ve been too close to me too long. I’m too dependent on you. However, the decision is yours. I don’t claim the right to drag you into a predicament of mortal hazard and doubtful outcome.”

“Yeah. I’m not very crazy about the name Alex. Why Alex?”

“We can choose another. [...]”  

Archie and Wolfe at sea in chapter 6, page 51

  My tongue was ready with a remark about a man of action [Wolfe] who had to have help to doff his knapsack, but I thought I’d better save it. If the engine did quit, and a squall hit us, and he saved our lives with a display of masterly seamanship, I'd have to eat it.  

Archie's vision in chapter 8, page 68

I decided that if and when I became a dictator I would damn well clean a town up and widen some of its streets and have a little painting done before I changed its name to Goodwingrad.

Nero Wolfe & Archie Goodwin in chapter 10, page 92

  “I am committed,” he said grumpily. “You are not.”

“Phooey. I want to see your birthplace and put a plaque on it.”  

Nero Wolfe to Archie Goodwin, echoing Cramer, in chapter 12, page 111

  “By heaven,” he blurted with sudden ferocity, “you’ll clown at your funeral! [...]”  

Archie composes himself in chapter 14, page 127

I was aware, from tones and expressions and the atmosphere, that we were at a crisis, but I didn’t know what kind, so all I could do was meet his eyes and look loyal and confident and absolutely intrepid.

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