As announced, Terry Zobeck is on board to let Hammett fans know exactly which words and sentences Frederic Dannay cut from the original magazine texts as he collected Hammett’s short stories into digest-sized paperbacks — in effect, Terry is reconstructing the closest thing we have for a “pure text” on stories many readers thought they knew well, and encouraging the next publisher who releases a Hammett collection to do it right. Here’s Terry:
“Death and Company” was the last Continental Op story to see print and was Hammett’s final appearance in Black Mask (November 1930). Collected in The Return of the Continental Op in 1945, it has not been reprinted since — making it one of only two Op stories not readily available to readers today (the other is “It”). Perhaps that makes it all the more unfortunate that Dannay edited the story heavily.
While not among the best of the Op stories, “Death and Company” is far from the worst — and Dannay’s edits don’t help it any. In fact he cut some nice dialogue and description, particularly at the end of the story. I’ve detailed the edits, restoring Hammett’s original text, following the same format for presenting the restored text as with my earlier piece on “This King Business” — page number, line number, whether it is from the top or bottom of the page, and the affected text. In this case, the page number refers to the page in The Return of the Continental Op.
Page no. Line # Top/bottom Text
79 1 top
Dannay inserted “meaning the head of the Continental Detective Agency,” after “The Old Man”.
79 3 top
Following line 3 should be: I sat down.
79 4 top
Chappell was a man of forty-five
79 5 top
I noticed hHis eyes
79 6 top
and their lower lids
79 13 top
and that is to go to the lot of George on Turk and Larkin St. [in the original the letters from Death & Company are in all capitals].
79 3 bottom
I telephoned all of them — everybody I could think of —and none of them had seen her.
80 1 top
Before the first line the following text was deleted:
“Any enemies? Anybody with a grudge against you, or against her? Think, even if it’s an old grudge or seems pretty slight. There’s something like that behind most kidnappings”
“I know of none,” he said wearily.
80 4 top
“I’ve an manufacturers advertising agency.”
80 6 top
“No, the only one I’ve ever discharged was John Hacker and he has a better
80 8 top
Before this line the following text was deleted:
I looked at the Old Man. He was listening attentively, but in his usual aloof manner, as if he had no personal interest in the job.
80 9 top
but they’re necessary. Right? ”
80 10 top
He winced and took a deep breath as if he knew what was coming, but nodded and said: “Right.”
“Has Mrs. Chappell ever stayed away over night before?”
“No, not without my knowing where she was.” His lips jerked a little. “I think I know what you are going to ask. I’d like — I’d rather not hear. I mean I know it’s necessary, but, if I can, I think I’d rather try to tell you without your asking.”
“I’d like that better to,” I agreed. I hope you don’t think I’m getting any fun out of this.”
“I know,” he said. He took a deep breath and spoke rapidly, hurrying to get it over:
80 16 top
I replied, and then complained: “It’s a damned shame that’s the only way to handle a kidnapping. These Death and Co. birds are pretty dumb, picking that spot for the pay-off. It would be duck soup to nab them there.” I stopped complaining and
80 9 bottom
off till then.” I asked the Old Man: “Don’t you think so?”
80 8 bottom
The Old Man He nodded and reached for his telephone. “I think so. I’ll have Lieutenant Fielding and perhaps someone from the District Attorney’s office come up here and we’ll lay the whole thing before them.”
80 7 bottom
Fielding and an
aAssistant District crown aAttorney
80 6 bottom
making the George Turk-and-Larkin-Street-brick-pile
80 5 bottom
for half the San Francisco police force
80 4 bottom
We waved dug up the history of kidnapping from the days of Charlie Ross to the present Parker and waved it in their faces and showed
81 1 top
At 11:30 half past eleven o’clock that night [This should be the start of a new paragraph]
81 2 top
$5,000 five thousand dollars wrapped
81 2 top
At 12:20 twenty minutes past twelve he returned.
81 4 top
he said with difficulty. “I didn’t see anybody.”
81 6 top
I dozed on in a sofa.
81 after 9 top
She did not come home [This is a separate paragraph]
81 14 top
“You had the place watched?” he cried.
81 15 bottom
Inside was another of the crudely printed letters.
81 4 bottom
Before: I asked Campbell, should be: I looked at the postmark on the envelope. It was earlier that morning.
81 1 bottom
At 11:30 half past eleven o’clock that night Chappell left his house with another $5,000 five thousand dollars.
82 2 top
like the previous one except that he had less hopes of seeing Mrs. Chappell in the morning.
82 3 top
expected another letter in the morning asking for still another $5,000 five thousand dollars.
82 8 top
895 Park Post St.
82 11 top
jumped for the telephone on a nearby table.
82 15 top
“Stow Hell with that,”
82 16 top
The Park Post Street address
82 17 top
It took a couple of more minutes more to find
82 18 top
apartment house and to take the her keys away from him her. Then we went up and entered apartment 313.
82 16 bottom
on the living room floor in 313.
82 15 bottom
Before: She had been dead, should be: There was no question of her being dead
82 5 bottom
He She described him:
82 4 bottom
160 a hundred and sixty pounds
82 3 bottom
He She said Rockfield he
83 3 top
Before: The police department experts, should be: We found a plentiful supply of clothing in the apartment, some of which the manager positively identified as Rockfield’s.
83 10 top
Before: A detective came in, should be: “But why?” Chappell demanded dumbfoundedly.
“Playing safe. You wouldn’t know till after you’d come across. She wasn’t feeble. It would be hard to keep her quiet in a place like this.”
83 15 top
After: without being seen by them, should be: Callahan’s answer to that was a bellowed “The Hell they couldn’t—they did!”
83 13 bottom
After: “wait for me.” Should be a new paragraph:
I told Callahan and the others what Chappell had told me.
Callahan growled. “—-,” he said, “I guess we’re up against another of those — damned nuts! ”
83 11 bottom
he tried to explain. “I’m I am
83 10 bottom
I’m not that afraid–but-but with Louise
83 6 bottom
The paragraph starting on this line should be broken into two paragraphs; the first sentence is a separate paragraph in the original.
84 3 top
find him, because you know how tough that —- is.
84 4 top
“I know,” he I said.
84 8 top
cursing Moley, in a choked husky voice.
84 9 top
After: I said, should be: “Stop that. That’s no good.
84 12 top
After: had dropped from him, should be: “Get your hat,” I said, “and we’ll go.”
He ran upstairs for his hat and down with it.
84 13 top
He had asked
84 15 top
Before: “I can’t,” should be:
But in the car he went suddenly limp and slid down in his seat.
“What’s the matter? “ I asked.
84 17 top
brought had a maid bring him water.
84 4 bottom
but I found the latch and worked it.
84 1 bottom
and fired once straight ahead at random.
85 7 top
Before: I picked up his gun, should be:
“That damned fool maid got scared and locked this door,” he complained, “or I’d’ve made it out back.”
85 7 top
I went nearer and picked up his gun.
85 8 top
I hadn’t dropped the gun when the leg it upset me.
85 14 top
“That was — damned dumb of you.”
85 17 top
his to pinch him for killing his wife?”
85 16 bottom
I hope to —- they hang you for it.
85 9 bottom
I came pretty near giving the rat — — — —– what he deserved.”
86 1 top
or you wouldn’t have pulled this one. Anyhow we had enough to figure he was wrong, and if you’d let him alone we’d have pulled him, put it in the papers, and waited for you to come forth and give us what we needed to clear you and swing him.”
86 8 top
I had to go downtown, but I wasn’t gone an hour.
86 8 top
cold when I came back.” He frowned. “I don’t think she’d’ve answered the doorbell, though maybe—or maybe he’d had a duplicate made of the key she had.”
Some policemen came in: the frightened maid had had sense enough to use the telephone.
86 last line
Death and Company Co. business.
So, there you have it, the restored “Death and Company”.