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Chapter four of Killer in the Rain by Raymond Chandler begins:

FOUR

I paid the taxi off on Pepper Drive, in front of a house where there was company, and walked back up the curving hill of La Verne Terrace to Steiner's house behind its shrubbery.

Even after checking the parts, before and after this sentence, it is very hard to figure out the meaning of company in the above sentence.

Something missing or just my ignorance?

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    Company has a number of meanings, all related to a group of people. Presumably you looked it up; please show your research. Why do none of the senses in that dictionary entry make sense? If you provide details of everything you have done to search for an answer, others don't have to repeat it and may be able to guide your research in the future, too (as well as providing the answer). Help others provide a truly useful answer both to you and future readers. – Andrew Leach Jul 24 '15 at 6:53
  • Andrew takes almost a hundred words to say how the question should have been posed and he almost answers the question. Joe answers the question with just 14 words. – Anton Jul 24 '15 at 7:07
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    @Anton Are you saying that Andrew, rather than the answerer, is showing the desired concern for keeping ELU true to its mission statement? If so, I agree totally. AHDEL sense 2b is obviously applicable here. (Though deadrat provides useful explanation / context – but again, this isn't really on-topic). – Edwin Ashworth Jul 24 '15 at 7:46
  • It's helpful to be aware of the OP's background research, to understand why s/he had difficulty assigning the correct meaning to 'company'. In answering the question, we may also be able to advise on research methods, so the OP can apply learning in other contexts:) – Julie Carter Jul 24 '15 at 10:35
  • As stated by @AndrewLeach we are a resource for empowering users to be able to help themselves. – Julie Carter Jul 24 '15 at 10:42
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"Killer in the Rain" is a 1935 Raymond Chandler short story that the author incorporated into his novel The Big Sleep. In both works the narrator is the private detective Philip Marlowe, who returns to the La Verne Terrace house of Harold Steiner. (In the novel, Steiner, renamed Geiger, is a pornographer and blackmailer.) Previously Marlowe had found his client's daughter Carmen in the house with the corpse of the owner, and Marlowe has driven Carmen home in her own car, leaving his near La Verne Terrace. Marlowe returns in a taxi, and he wants to search Steiner's house to find out about the murder.

But he doesn't want the cab driver to remember dropping him off in front of a house that will be reported as the scene of a murder. So he has the cabby drop him off on a nearby street, in front of a house that looks like it has visitors, hoping that if the cabby remembers him at all, it will be as a party-goer.

Joe has it right.

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    +1 for explaining the why as well as the what. – Brian Hitchcock Jul 24 '15 at 9:23
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Company in this case just means that the people in the house had visitors.

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