In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice tha_’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember tha_ll the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
He didn’t say any more, but we’ve always been unusually communicative in _eserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that. I_onsequence, I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened u_any curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few vetera_ores. The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this qualit_hen it appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I wa_njustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the secre_riefs of wild, unknown men. Most of the confidences were unsought — frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when _ealized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quiverin_n the horizon; for the intimate revelations of young men, or at least th_erms in which they express them, are usually plagiaristic and marred b_bvious suppressions. Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope. I a_till a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my fathe_nobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamenta_ecencies is parcelled out unequally at birth.
And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that i_as a limit. Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or the wet marshes, bu_fter a certain point I don’t care what it’s founded on. When I came back fro_he East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at _ort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions wit_rivileged glimpses into the human heart. Only Gatsby, the man who gives hi_ame to this book, was exempt from my reaction — Gatsby, who represente_verything for which I have an unaffected scorn. If personality is an unbroke_eries of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related t_ne of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand mile_way. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionabilit_hich is dignified under the name of the “creative temperament.”— it was a_xtraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never foun_n any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. No — Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what fou_ust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interes_n the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.
My family have been prominent, well-to-do people in this Middle Western cit_or three generations. The Carraways are something of a clan, and we have _radition that we’re descended from the Dukes of Buccleuch, but the actua_ounder of my line was my grandfather’s brother, who came here in fifty-one, sent a substitute to the Civil War, and started the wholesale hardwar_usiness that my father carries on to-day.
I never saw this great-uncle, but I’m supposed to look like him — with specia_eference to the rather hard-boiled painting that hangs in father’s office _raduated from New Haven in 1915, just a quarter of a century after my father, and a little later I participated in that delayed Teutonic migration known a_he Great War. I enjoyed the counter-raid so thoroughly that I came bac_estless. Instead of being the warm centre of the world, the Middle West no_eemed like the ragged edge of the universe — so I decided to go East an_earn the bond business. Everybody I knew was in the bond business, so _upposed it could support one more single man. All my aunts and uncles talke_t over as if they were choosing a prep school for me, and finally said, “Why — ye — es,” with very grave, hesitant faces. Father agreed to finance me for _ear, and after various delays I came East, permanently, I thought, in th_pring of twenty-two.
The practical thing was to find rooms in the city, but it was a warm season, and I had just left a country of wide lawns and friendly trees, so when _oung man at the office suggested that we take a house together in a commutin_own, it sounded like a great idea. He found the house, a weather-beate_ardboard bungalow at eighty a month, but at the last minute the firm ordere_im to Washington, and I went out to the country alone. I had a dog — at leas_ had him for a few days until he ran away — and an old Dodge and a Finnis_oman, who made my bed and cooked breakfast and muttered Finnish wisdom t_erself over the electric stove.
It was lonely for a day or so until one morning some man, more recentl_rrived than I, stopped me on the road.
“How do you get to West Egg village?” he asked helplessly.
I told him. And as I walked on I was lonely no longer. I was a guide, _athfinder, an original settler. He had casually conferred on me the freedo_f the neighborhood.
And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that lif_as beginning over again with the summer.
There was so much to read, for one thing, and so much fine health to be pulle_own out of the young breath-giving air. I bought a dozen volumes on bankin_nd credit and investment securities, and they stood on my shelf in red an_old like new money from the mint, promising to unfold the shining secret_hat only Midas and Morgan and Maecenas knew. And I had the high intention o_eading many other books besides. I was rather literary in college — one yea_ wrote a series of very solemn and obvious editorials for the “Yale News.”— and now I was going to bring back all such things into my life and becom_gain that most limited of all specialists, the “well-rounded man.” This isn’_ust an epigram — life is much more successfully looked at from a singl_indow, after all.
It was a matter of chance that I should have rented a house in one of th_trangest communities in North America. It was on that slender riotous islan_hich extends itself due east of New York — and where there are, among othe_atural curiosities, two unusual formations of land. Twenty miles from th_ity a pair of enormous eggs, identical in contour and separated only by _ourtesy bay, jut out into the most domesticated body of salt water in th_estern hemisphere, the great wet barnyard of Long Island Sound. they are no_erfect ovals — like the egg in the Columbus story, they are both crushed fla_t the contact end — but their physical resemblance must be a source o_erpetual confusion to the gulls that fly overhead. to the wingless a mor_rresting phenomenon is their dissimilarity in every particular except shap_nd size.
I lived at West Egg, the — well, the less fashionable of the two, though thi_s a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little siniste_ontrast between them. my house was at the very tip of the egg, only fift_ards from the Sound, and squeezed between two huge places that rented fo_welve or fifteen thousand a season. the one on my right was a colossal affai_y any standard — it was a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville i_ormandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of ra_vy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden.
it was Gatsby’s mansion. Or, rather, as I didn’t know Mr. Gatsby, it was _ansion inhabited by a gentleman of that name. My own house was an eyesore, but it was a small eyesore, and it had been overlooked, so I had a view of th_ater, a partial view of my neighbor’s lawn, and the consoling proximity o_illionaires — all for eighty dollars a month.
Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittere_long the water, and the history of the summer really begins on the evening _rove over there to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans. Daisy was my secon_ousin once removed, and I’d known Tom in college. And just after the war _pent two days with them in Chicago.
Her husband, among various physical accomplishments, had been one of the mos_owerful ends that ever played football at New Haven — a national figure in _ay, one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-on_hat everything afterward savors of anti-climax. His family were enormousl_ealthy — even in college his freedom with money was a matter for reproach — but now he’d left Chicago and come East in a fashion that rather took you_reath away: for instance, he’d brought down a string of polo ponies from Lak_orest. it was hard to realize that a man in my own generation was wealth_nough to do that.
Why they came East I don’t know. They had spent a year in France for n_articular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever peopl_layed polo and were rich together. This was a permanent move, said Daisy ove_he telephone, but I didn’t believe it — I had no sight into Daisy’s heart, but I felt that Tom would drift on forever seeking, a little wistfully, fo_he dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game.
And so it happened that on a warm windy evening I drove over to East Egg t_ee two old friends whom I scarcely knew at all. Their house was even mor_laborate than I expected, a cheerful red-and-white Georgian Colonial mansion, overlooking the bay. The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the fron_oor for a quarter of a mile, jumping over sun-dials and brick walks an_urning gardens — finally when it reached the house drifting up the side i_right vines as though from the momentum of its run. The front was broken by _ine of French windows, glowing now with reflected gold and wide open to th_arm windy afternoon, and Tom Buchanan in riding clothes was standing with hi_egs apart on the front porch.
He had changed since his New Haven years. Now he was a sturdy straw-haired ma_f thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shinin_rrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him th_ppearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not even the effeminat_wank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body — h_eemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing, an_ou could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved unde_is thin coat. It was a body capable of enormous leverage — a cruel body.
His speaking voice, a gruff husky tenor, added to the impression o_ractiousness he conveyed. There was a touch of paternal contempt in it, eve_oward people he liked — and there were men at New Haven who had hated hi_uts.
“Now, don’t think my opinion on these matters is final,” he seemed to say, “just because I’m stronger and more of a man than you are.” We were in th_ame senior society, and while we were never intimate I always had th_mpression that he approved of me and wanted me to like him with some harsh, defiant wistfulness of his own.
We talked for a few minutes on the sunny porch.
“I’ve got a nice place here,” he said, his eyes flashing about restlessly.
Turning me around by one arm, he moved a broad flat hand along the fron_ista, including in its sweep a sunken Italian garden, a half acre of deep, pungent roses, and a snub-nosed motor-boat that bumped the tide offshore.
“It belonged to Demaine, the oil man.” He turned me around again, politely an_bruptly. “We’ll go inside.”
We walked through a high hallway into a bright rosy-colored space, fragilel_ound into the house by French windows at either end. The windows were aja_nd gleaming white against the fresh grass outside that seemed to grow _ittle way into the house. A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in a_ne end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the froste_edding-cake of the ceiling, and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea.
The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch o_hich two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. The_ere both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if the_ad just been blown back in after a short flight around the house. I must hav_tood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of the curtains and th_roan of a picture on the wall. Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut th_ear windows and the caught wind died out about the room, and the curtains an_he rugs and the two young women ballooned slowly to the floor.
The younger of the two was a stranger to me. She was extended full length a_er end of the divan, completely motionless, and with her chin raised _ittle, as if she were balancing something on it which was quite likely t_all. If she saw me out of the corner of her eyes she gave no hint of it — indeed, I was almost surprised into murmuring an apology for having disturbe_er by coming in.
The other girl, Daisy, made an attempt to rise — she leaned slightly forwar_ith a conscientious expression — then she laughed, an absurd, charming littl_augh, and I laughed too and came forward into the room.
“I’m p-paralyzed with happiness.” She laughed again, as if she said somethin_ery witty, and held my hand for a moment, looking up into my face, promisin_hat there was no one in the world she so much wanted to see. That was a wa_he had. She hinted in a murmur that the surname of the balancing girl wa_aker. (I’ve heard it said that Daisy’s murmur was only to make people lea_oward her; an irrelevant criticism that made it no less charming.)
At any rate, Miss Baker’s lips fluttered, she nodded at me almos_mperceptibly, and then quickly tipped her head back again — the object sh_as balancing had obviously tottered a little and given her something of _right. Again a sort of apology arose to my lips. Almost any exhibition o_omplete self-sufficiency draws a stunned tribute from me.
I looked back at my cousin, who began to ask me questions in her low, thrilling voice. It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down, a_f each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again. He_ace was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a brigh_assionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who ha_ared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered “Listen,” a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while sinc_nd that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.
I told her how I had stopped off in Chicago for a day on my way East, and ho_ dozen people had sent their love through me.
“Do they miss me?” she cried ecstatically.
“The whole town is desolate. All the cars have the left rear wheel painte_lack as a mourning wreath, and there’s a persistent wail all night along th_orth shore.”
“How gorgeous! Let’s go back, Tom. To-morrow!” Then she added irrelevantly: “You ought to see the baby.”
“I’d like to.”
“She’s asleep. She’s three years old. Haven’t you ever seen her?”
“Well, you ought to see her. She’s ——”
Tom Buchanan, who had been hovering restlessly about the room, stopped an_ested his hand on my shoulder.
“What you doing, Nick?”
“I’m a bond man.”
I told him.
“Never heard of them,” he remarked decisively.
This annoyed me.
“You will,” I answered shortly. “You will if you stay in the East.”
“Oh, I’ll stay in the East, don’t you worry,” he said, glancing at Daisy an_hen back at me, as if he were alert for something more. “I’d be a God damne_ool to live anywhere else.”
At this point Miss Baker said: “Absolutely!” with such suddenness that _tarted — it was the first word she uttered since I came into the room.
Evidently it surprised her as much as it did me, for she yawned and with _eries of rapid, deft movements stood up into the room.
“I’m stiff,” she complained, “I’ve been lying on that sofa for as long as _an remember.”
“Don’t look at me,” Daisy retorted, “I’ve been trying to get you to New Yor_ll afternoon.”
“No, thanks,” said Miss Baker to the four cocktails just in from the pantry, “I’m absolutely in training.”
Her host looked at her incredulously.
“You are!” He took down his drink as if it were a drop in the bottom of _lass. “How you ever get anything done is beyond me.”
I looked at Miss Baker, wondering what it was she “got done.” I enjoye_ooking at her. She was a slender, small-breasted girl, with an erec_arriage, which she accentuated by throwing her body backward at the shoulder_ike a young cadet. Her gray sun-strained eyes looked back at me with polit_eciprocal curiosity out of a wan, charming, discontented face. It occurred t_e now that I had seen her, or a picture of her, somewhere before.
“You live in West Egg,” she remarked contemptuously. “I know somebody there.”
“I don’t know a single ——”
“You must know Gatsby.”
“Gatsby?” demanded Daisy. “What Gatsby?”
Before I could reply that he was my neighbor dinner was announced; wedging hi_ense arm imperatively under mine, Tom Buchanan compelled me from the room a_hough he were moving a checker to another square.
Slenderly, languidly, their hands set lightly on their hips, the two youn_omen preceded us out onto a rosy-colored porch, open toward the sunset, wher_our candles flickered on the table in the diminished wind.
“Why CANDLES?” objected Daisy, frowning. She snapped them out with he_ingers. “In two weeks it’ll be the longest day in the year.” She looked at u_ll radiantly. “Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and the_iss it? I always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it.”
“We ought to plan something,” yawned Miss Baker, sitting down at the table a_f she were getting into bed.
“All right,” said Daisy. “What’ll we plan?” She turned to me helplessly: “Wha_o people plan?”
Before I could answer her eyes fastened with an awed expression on her littl_inger.
“Look!” she complained; “I hurt it.”
We all looked — the knuckle was black and blue.
“You did it, Tom,” she said accusingly. “I know you didn’t mean to, but yo_ID do it. That’s what I get for marrying a brute of a man, a great, big, hulking physical specimen of a ——”
“I hate that word hulking,” objected Tom crossly, “even in kidding.”
“Hulking,” insisted Daisy.
Sometimes she and Miss Baker talked at once, unobtrusively and with _antering inconsequence that was never quite chatter, that was as cool a_heir white dresses and their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire.
They were here, and they accepted Tom and me, making only a polite pleasan_ffort to entertain or to be entertained. They knew that presently dinne_ould be over and a little later the evening too would be over and casuall_ut away. It was sharply different from the West, where an evening was hurrie_rom phase to phase toward its close, in a continually disappointe_nticipation or else in sheer nervous dread of the moment itself.
“You make me feel uncivilized, Daisy,” I confessed on my second glass of cork_ut rather impressive claret. “Can’t you talk about crops or something?”
I meant nothing in particular by this remark, but it was taken up in a_nexpected way.
“Civilization’s going to pieces,” broke out Tom violently. “I’ve gotten to b_ terrible pessimist about things. Have you read ‘The Rise of the Colore_mpires’ by this man Goddard?”
“Why, no,” I answered, rather surprised by his tone.
“Well, it’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if w_on’t look out the white race will be — will be utterly submerged. It’s al_cientific stuff; it’s been proved.”
“Tom’s getting very profound,” said Daisy, with an expression of unthoughtfu_adness. “He reads deep books with long words in them. What was that word we ——”
“Well, these books are all scientific,” insisted Tom, glancing at he_mpatiently. “This fellow has worked out the whole thing. It’s up to us, wh_re the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control o_hings.”
“We’ve got to beat them down,” whispered Daisy, winking ferociously toward th_ervent sun.
“You ought to live in California —” began Miss Baker, but Tom interrupted he_y shifting heavily in his chair.
“This idea is that we’re Nordics. I am, and you are, and you are, and ——” After an infinitesimal hesitation he included Daisy with a slight nod, and sh_inked at me again. “— And we’ve produced all the things that go to mak_ivilization — oh, science and art, and all that. Do you see?”
There was something pathetic in his concentration, as if his complacency, mor_cute than of old, was not enough to him any more. When, almost immediately, the telephone rang inside and the butler left the porch Daisy seized upon th_omentary interruption and leaned toward me.
“I’ll tell you a family secret,” she whispered enthusiastically. “It’s abou_he butler’s nose. Do you want to hear about the butler’s nose?”
“That’s why I came over to-night.”
“Well, he wasn’t always a butler; he used to be the silver polisher for som_eople in New York that had a silver service for two hundred people. He had t_olish it from morning till night, until finally it began to affect his nose ——”
“Things went from bad to worse,” suggested Miss Baker.
“Yes. Things went from bad to worse, until finally he had to give up hi_osition.”
For a moment the last sunshine fell with romantic affection upon her glowin_ace; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened — then th_low faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret, like childre_eaving a pleasant street at dusk.
The butler came back and murmured something close to Tom’s ear, whereupon To_rowned, pushed back his chair, and without a word went inside. As if hi_bsence quickened something within her, Daisy leaned forward again, her voic_lowing and singing.
“I love to see you at my table, Nick. You remind me of a — of a rose, a_bsolute rose. Doesn’t he?” She turned to Miss Baker for confirmation: “A_bsolute rose?”
This was untrue. I am not even faintly like a rose. She was onl_xtemporizing, but a stirring warmth flowed from her, as if her heart wa_rying to come out to you concealed in one of those breathless, thrillin_ords. Then suddenly she threw her napkin on the table and excused herself an_ent into the house.
Miss Baker and I exchanged a short glance consciously devoid of meaning. I wa_bout to speak when she sat up alertly and said “Sh!” in a warning voice. _ubdued impassioned murmur was audible in the room beyond, and Miss Bake_eaned forward unashamed, trying to hear. The murmur trembled on the verge o_oherence, sank down, mounted excitedly, and then ceased altogether.
“This Mr. Gatsby you spoke of is my neighbor ——” I said.
“Don’t talk. I want to hear what happens.”
“Is something happening?” I inquired innocently.
“You mean to say you don’t know?” said Miss Baker, honestly surprised. “_hought everybody knew.”
“Why ——” she said hesitantly, “Tom’s got some woman in New York.”
“Got some woman?” I repeated blankly.
Miss Baker nodded.
“She might have the decency not to telephone him at dinner time. Don’t yo_hink?”
Almost before I had grasped her meaning there was the flutter of a dress an_he crunch of leather boots, and Tom and Daisy were back at the table.
“It couldn’t be helped!” cried Daisy with tense gaiety.
She sat down, glanced searchingly at Miss Baker and then at me, and continued: “I looked outdoors for a minute, and it’s very romantic outdoors. There’s _ird on the lawn that I think must be a nightingale come over on the Cunard o_hite Star Line. He’s singing away ——” Her voice sang: “It’s romantic, isn’_t, Tom?”
“Very romantic,” he said, and then miserably to me: “If it’s light enoug_fter dinner, I want to take you down to the stables.”
The telephone rang inside, startlingly, and as Daisy shook her head decisivel_t Tom the subject of the stables, in fact all subjects, vanished into air.
Among the broken fragments of the last five minutes at table I remember th_andles being lit again, pointlessly, and I was conscious of wanting to loo_quarely at every one, and yet to avoid all eyes. I couldn’t guess what Dais_nd Tom were thinking, but I doubt if even Miss Baker, who seemed to hav_astered a certain hardy scepticism, was able utterly to put this fift_uest’s shrill metallic urgency out of mind. To a certain temperament th_ituation might have seemed intriguing — my own instinct was to telephon_mmediately for the police.
The horses, needless to say, were not mentioned again. Tom and Miss Baker, with several feet of twilight between them, strolled back into the library, a_f to a vigil beside a perfectly tangible body, while, trying to loo_leasantly interested and a little deaf, I followed Daisy around a chain o_onnecting verandas to the porch in front. In its deep gloom we sat down sid_y side on a wicker settee.
Daisy took her face in her hands as if feeling its lovely shape, and her eye_oved gradually out into the velvet dusk. I saw that turbulent emotion_ossessed her, so I asked what I thought would be some sedative question_bout her little girl.
“We don’t know each other very well, Nick,” she said suddenly. “Even if we ar_ousins. You didn’t come to my wedding.”
“I wasn’t back from the war.”
“That’s true.” She hesitated. “Well, I’ve had a very bad time, Nick, and I’_retty cynical about everything.”
Evidently she had reason to be. I waited but she didn’t say any more, an_fter a moment I returned rather feebly to the subject of her daughter.
“I suppose she talks, and — eats, and everything.”
“Oh, yes.” She looked at me absently. “Listen, Nick; let me tell you what _aid when she was born. Would you like to hear?”
“It’ll show you how I’ve gotten to feel about — things. Well, she was les_han an hour old and Tom was God knows where. I woke up out of the ether wit_n utterly abandoned feeling, and asked the nurse right away if it was a bo_r a girl. She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head away and wept.
‘all right,’ I said, ‘I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”
“You see I think everything’s terrible anyhow,” she went on in a convince_ay. “Everybody thinks so — the most advanced people. And I KNOW. I’ve bee_verywhere and seen everything and done everything.” Her eyes flashed aroun_er in a defiant way, rather like Tom’s, and she laughed with thrilling scorn.
“Sophisticated — God, I’m sophisticated!”
The instant her voice broke off, ceasing to compel my attention, my belief, _elt the basic insincerity of what she had said. It made me uneasy, as thoug_he whole evening had been a trick of some sort to exact a contributor_motion from me. I waited, and sure enough, in a moment she looked at me wit_n absolute smirk on her lovely face, as if she had asserted her membership i_ rather distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belonged.
Inside, the crimson room bloomed with light.
Tom and Miss Baker sat at either end of the long couch and she read aloud t_im from the SATURDAY EVENING POST.— the words, murmurous and uninflected, running together in a soothing tune. The lamp-light, bright on his boots an_ull on the autumn-leaf yellow of her hair, glinted along the paper as sh_urned a page with a flutter of slender muscles in her arms.
When we came in she held us silent for a moment with a lifted hand.
“To be continued,” she said, tossing the magazine on the table, “in our ver_ext issue.”
Her body asserted itself with a restless movement of her knee, and she stoo_p.
“Ten o’clock,” she remarked, apparently finding the time on the ceiling. “Tim_or this good girl to go to bed.”
“Jordan’s going to play in the tournament to-morrow,” explained Daisy, “ove_t Westchester.”
“Oh — you’re Jordan BAKER.”
I knew now why her face was familiar — its pleasing contemptuous expressio_ad looked out at me from many rotogravure pictures of the sporting life a_sheville and Hot Springs and Palm Beach. I had heard some story of her too, _ritical, unpleasant story, but what it was I had forgotten long ago.
“Good night,” she said softly. “Wake me at eight, won’t you.”
“If you’ll get up.”
“I will. Good night, Mr. Carraway. See you anon.”
“Of course you will,” confirmed Daisy. “In fact I think I’ll arrange _arriage. Come over often, Nick, and I’ll sort of — oh — fling you together.
You know — lock you up accidentally in linen closets and push you out to se_n a boat, and all that sort of thing ——”
“Good night,” called Miss Baker from the stairs. “I haven’t heard a word.”
“She’s a nice girl,” said Tom after a moment. “They oughtn’t to let her ru_round the country this way.”
“Who oughtn’t to?” inquired Daisy coldly.
“Her family is one aunt about a thousand years old. Besides, Nick’s going t_ook after her, aren’t you, Nick? She’s going to spend lots of week-ends ou_ere this summer. I think the home influence will be very good for her.”
Daisy and Tom looked at each other for a moment in silence.
“Is she from New York?” I asked quickly.
“From Louisville. Our white girlhood was passed together there. Our beautifu_hite ——”
“Did you give Nick a little heart to heart talk on the veranda?” demanded To_uddenly.
“Did I?” She looked at me.
“I can’t seem to remember, but I think we talked about the Nordic race. Yes, I’m sure we did. It sort of crept up on us and first thing you know ——”
“Don’t believe everything you hear, Nick,” he advised me.
I said lightly that I had heard nothing at all, and a few minutes later I go_p to go home. They came to the door with me and stood side by side in _heerful square of light. As I started my motor Daisy peremptorily called: “Wait!”
“I forgot to ask you something, and it’s important. We heard you were engage_o a girl out West.”
“That’s right,” corroborated Tom kindly. “We heard that you were engaged.”
“It’s libel. I’m too poor.”
“But we heard it,” insisted Daisy, surprising me by opening up again in _lower-like way. “We heard it from three people, so it must be true.”
Of course I knew what they were referring to, but I wasn’t even vaguel_ngaged. The fact that gossip had published the banns was one of the reasons _ad come East. You can’t stop going with an old friend on account of rumors, and on the other hand I had no intention of being rumored into marriage.
Their interest rather touched me and made them less remotely rich — nevertheless, I was confused and a little disgusted as I drove away. It seeme_o me that the thing for Daisy to do was to rush out of the house, child i_rms — but apparently there were no such intentions in her head. As for Tom, the fact that he “had some woman in New York.” was really less surprising tha_hat he had been depressed by a book. Something was making him nibble at th_dge of stale ideas as if his sturdy physical egotism no longer nourished hi_eremptory heart.
Already it was deep summer on roadhouse roofs and in front of wayside garages, where new red gas-pumps sat out in pools of light, and when I reached m_state at West Egg I ran the car under its shed and sat for a while on a_bandoned grass roller in the yard. The wind had blown off, leaving a loud, bright night, with wings beating in the trees and a persistent organ sound a_he full bellows of the earth blew the frogs full of life. The silhouette of _oving cat wavered across the moonlight, and turning my head to watch it, _aw that I was not alone — fifty feet away a figure had emerged from th_hadow of my neighbor’s mansion and was standing with his hands in his pocket_egarding the silver pepper of the stars. Something in his leisurely movement_nd the secure position of his feet upon the lawn suggested that it was Mr.
Gatsby himself, come out to determine what share was his of our local heavens.
I decided to call to him. Miss Baker had mentioned him at dinner, and tha_ould do for an introduction. But I didn’t call to him, for he gave a sudde_ntimation that he was content to be alone — he stretched out his arms towar_he dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could hav_worn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward — and distinguishe_othing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have bee_he end of a dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished, and _as alone again in the unquiet darkness.