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Norris takes Marlowe to the sick and dying General Sternwood, who's sitting in his wheelchair in the greenhouse.
Marlowe feels like he's suffocating in the sticky humidity of the greenhouse, which is home to dozens of orchids.
The General tells Marlowe that he's being blackmailed. And not for the first time. In the past, a man named Joe Brody had blackmailed him and the General was forced to pay $5000 to protect Carmen.
Now the General is being blackmailed for $1000 by Arthur Geiger, who claims that Carmen owes him money from gambling debts. Geiger runs a business selling rare antique books, and the General wants Marlowe to uncover what Geiger is really up to.
Sternwood also mentions in passing that his son-in-law, Rusty Regan, has disappeared.
Marlowe leaves the greenhouse and Norris tells him that "Mrs. Regan"—a.k.a. Vivian Sternwood—wants to see him.