Quotations:The Doorbell Rang

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by Rex Stout (1965)
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Chapter 2, page 15 (Bantam: 1992)

I raised one eyebrow, something he can’t do. “Sorry,” I said, perfectly friendly. “A souvenir?”

“No. Please sit down.”

I sat. “Have I missed something?”

“I doubt it. You seldom do.”

Chapter 2, page 16

“I’m often irrelevant. It confuses people.”

“You keep waving your legs around.”

“That confuses them too.”

“Pfui. You’re fidgety, and no wonder. I thought I knew you, Archie, but this is a new facet.”

Chapter 2, page 17

I clasped my hands behind my head and eyed him. "I still say you're cracked," I said, "and I deny that my tail was between my legs, since they were crossed, and it would be a ball to step aside and see how you went at it without me, but after all the years in the swim with you it would be lowdown to let you sink alone. If I get daunted along the way I'll let you know."

Chapter 4, page 36-37

“It took me all afternoon to run down Ernst Muller, who is charged with transpiring to transport stolen property across state lines and is out on bail, and he was even worse than Evers. He had the idea of slugging me, and he wasn’t alone, so I had to react, and I may have broken his arm. Then -”

“Were you hurt?”

“Only my feelings.”

Inspector Cramer, chapter 4, page 46

“You did. I’m not surprised at Wolfe. With his ego, there’s no one and nothing he wouldn’t take on if you paid him. But I’m surprised at you. You know damn well the FBI can’t be bucked. Not even by the White House. And you’re hopping around pecking at people’s scabs. You’re asking for it and you’ll get it. You’re off your hinges.”

Chapter 5, page 53

For another thing, I didn’t want to think hard on top, and when I walk the hard thinking, if any, is down where it doesn’t use words.

Chapter 6, page 71

But his feet weren’t pulled in enough. I started my hands for his shoulders, then dived and got his ankles and yanked and kept going, and had him in the hall, on his back, before he could even try to counter, and then the damn fool tried to get hand-leverage on the floor. At the front door I braked when Fritz got his arms and held them down.

“There’s snow on the stoop,” I said. “If I let you up and give you your hat and coat, just walk out. I know more tricks than you do. Right?”

“Yes. You goddam goon.”

“Goodwin. You forgot the D, W, I, but I’ll overlook it. All right Fritz.”

In it together, chapter 7, page 86

“You have no obligation except to investigate and use your best efforts.”

“You pronouns again.”

“All right, ‘we’ and ‘our’.”

Chapter 9, page 103

“I have decided,” he [Wolfe] said, “that every man alive today is half idiot and half hero. Only heroes could survive in the maelstrom, and only idiots would want to.”

Chapter 9, page 110

Patting a shoulder can be anything from an apology to a promise, and only the patter can say which.

Chapter 9, page 111

He does not believe that I can take a girl to the Flamingo and dance a couple of hours and end up with all her deepest secrets, but he pretends he does because he thinks it makes me try harder.

Chapter 10, page 115

Perhaps I appeal more to middle-aged women than to young ones, but don’t try to tell Wolfe that.

Lily Rowan, chapter 10, page 119-20

“Lunch in ten minutes. Come and get it.”

“You’re too young for me. I’ve decided women under fifty are – what are they?”

“Well, jejune’s a good word.”

“Too many Js. I’ll think of one and tell you this evening. Two things. One, I have to be home at midnight. I’m sleeping in the office and – I’ll explain when I see you.”

“Good Lord, has he rented your room?”

“As a matter of fact, he has, for one night. I won’t explain that. Hold it a second.” I transferred the receiver to my right hand and used the left to slip the photograph from my pocket. “Here’s some poetry. Listen.” I read it, with feeling. “Do you recognise it?”

“Certainly. So do you.”

“No, I don’t, but it seems familiar.”

“It should. Where did you get it?”

“I’ll tell you someday. What is it?”

“It’s a take-off of the last four lines of the second stanza of Keats’ ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’. It’s sort of clever, but no one should monkey with Keats. Escamillo, you’re a pretty good detective and you dance like an angel, and you have other outstanding qualities, but you will never be a highbrow. Come and read Keats to me.”

Chapter 11, page 132

Fritz isn’t supposed to touch my room; it’s mine, including the responsibility.

Chapter 13, page 151

“Wonderful. You’re the perfect client. If you weren’t rich I’d marry you.”

“What did you say?”

“Nothing.” I hung up.

Chapter 13, page 162-3

She looked at me and back at Wolfe. “Can Mr Goodwin go?”

Saul has not yet heard the last of that. It didn’t change my decision about marriage because I prefer to do the courting myself, but it gave me one on Saul. Wolfe told her no, Mr Goodwin had work to do, and the poor woman had to settle for Saul.

Chapter 14, page 166

“Listen. As you know, when you deal with me you’re dealing with Mr Wolfe. You also know that I always stick to instructions.”

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