Study Guide

The Maltese Falcon Chapter 4

By Dashiell Hammett

Chapter 4

The Black Bird

  • At the Coronet, Miss Wonderly admits to Spade that the story she had told him yesterday was all made-up. Her real name is Brigid O'Shaughnessy, she never had a sister, and Thursby was an acquaintance who had betrayed her.
  • Brigid pleads for Spade's help, but won't give him any information except that she fears for her life. He agrees to do what he can for her, despite the fact that he doesn't completely trust her (we wouldn't trust her either).
  • Later the same day, Spade is visited by Joel Cairo, who offers Spade $5,000 for the recovery of a figurine of a black bird that has recently arrived in San Francisco.
  • Before Spade can respond, Effie knocks softly on the door. Spade tells her that she can leave for the day, and when he turns his attention back to Cairo, he finds himself face-to-face with a black pistol (cue: more dramatic music).