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  1. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice
  2. that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.
  3. "Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just
  4. remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages
  5. that you've had."
  6. He didn't say any more but we've always been unusually communicative
  7. in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more
  8. than that. In consequence I'm inclined to reserve all judgments,
  9. a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also
  10. made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. The abnormal mind
  11. is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it
  12. appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I
  13. was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the
  14. secret griefs of wild, unknown men. Most of the confidences were
  15. unsought--frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile
  16. levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate
  17. revelation was quivering on the horizon--for the intimate revelations
  18. of young men or at least the terms in which they express them are
  19. usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions. Reserving
  20. judgments is a matter of infinite hope. I am still a little afraid of
  21. missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested,
  22. and I snobbishly repeat a sense of the fundamental decencies is
  23. parcelled out unequally at birth.
  24. And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission
  25. that it has a limit. Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or the wet
  26. marshes but after a certain point I don't care what it's founded on.
  27. When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the
  28. world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I
  29. wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the
  30. human heart. Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was
  31. exempt from my reaction--Gatsby who represented everything for which I
  32. have an unaffected scorn. If personality is an unbroken series of
  33. successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some
  34. heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related
  35. to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten
  36. thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that
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  38. flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the
  39. "creative temperament"--it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic
  40. readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it
  41. is not likely I shall ever find again. No--Gatsby turned out all right
  42. at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the
  43. wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the
  44. abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.
  45. My family have been prominent, well-to-do people in this middle-western
  46. city for three generations. The Carraways are something of a clan and we
  47. have a tradition that we're descended from the Dukes of Buccleuch, but the
  48. actual founder of my line was my grandfather's brother who came here in
  49. fifty-one, sent a substitute to the Civil War and started the wholesale
  50. hardware business that my father carries on today.
  51. I never saw this great-uncle but I'm supposed to look like him--with
  52. special reference to the rather hard-boiled painting that hangs in
  53. Father's office. I graduated from New Haven in 1915, just a quarter of a
  54. century after my father, and a little later I participated in that
  55. delayed Teutonic migration known as the Great War. I enjoyed the
  56. counter-raid so thoroughly that I came back restless. Instead of being
  57. the warm center of the world the middle-west now seemed like the
  58. ragged edge of the universe--so I decided to go east and learn the bond
  59. business. Everybody I knew was in the bond business so I supposed it
  60. could support one more single man. All my aunts and uncles talked it
  61. over as if they were choosing a prep-school for me and finally said,
  62. "Why--ye-es" with very grave, hesitant faces. Father agreed to finance
  63. me for a year and after various delays I came east, permanently, I
  64. thought, in the spring of twenty-two.
  65. The practical thing was to find rooms in the city but it was a warm
  66. season and I had just left a country of wide lawns and friendly trees,
  67. so when a young man at the office suggested that we take a house
  68. together in a commuting town it sounded like a great idea. He found
  69. the house, a weather beaten cardboard bungalow at eighty a month, but
  70. at the last minute the firm ordered him to Washington and I went out
  71. to the country alone. I had a dog, at least I had him for a few days
  72. until he ran away, and an old Dodge and a Finnish woman who made my bed
  73. and cooked breakfast and muttered Finnish wisdom to herself over the
  74. electric stove.
  75. It was lonely for a day or so until one morning some man, more recently
  76. arrived than I, stopped me on the road.
  77. "How do you get to West Egg village?" he asked helplessly.
  78. I told him. And as I walked on I was lonely no longer. I was a guide, a
  79. pathfinder, an original settler. He had casually conferred on me the
  80. freedom of the neighborhood.
  81. And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the
  82. trees--just as things grow in fast movies--I had that familiar
    I woke up one morning and found that I was trying to kill you
  83. conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.
  84. There was so much to read for one thing and so much fine health to be
  85. pulled down out of the young breath-giving air. I bought a dozen
  86. volumes on banking and credit and investment securities and they stood
  87. on my shelf in red and gold like new money from the mint, promising to
  88. unfold the shining secrets that only Midas and Morgan and Maecenas
  89. knew. And I had the high intention of reading many other books besides.
  90. I was rather literary in college--one year I wrote a series of very
  91. solemn and obvious editorials for the "Yale News"--and now I was going
  92. to bring back all such things into my life and become again that most
  93. limited of all specialists, the "well-rounded man." This isn't just an
  94. epigram--life is much more successfully looked at from a single window,
  95. after all.
  96. It was a matter of chance that I should have rented a house in one of
  97. the strangest communities in North America. It was on that slender
  98. riotous island which extends itself due east of New York and where
  99. there are, among other natural curiosities, two unusual formations of
  100. land. Twenty miles from the city a pair of enormous eggs, identical in
  101. contour and separated only by a courtesy bay, jut out into the most
  102. domesticated body of salt water in the Western Hemisphere, the great
  103. wet barnyard of Long Island Sound. They are not perfect ovals--like the
  104. egg in the Columbus story they are both crushed flat at the contact
  105. end--but their physical resemblance must be a source of perpetual
  106. confusion to the gulls that fly overhead. To the wingless a more
  107. arresting phenomenon is their dissimilarity in every particular except
  108. shape and size.
  109. I lived at West Egg, the--well, the less fashionable of the two, though
  110. this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little
  111. sinister contrast between them. My house was at the very tip of the
  112. egg, only fifty yards from the Sound, and squeezed between two huge
  113. places that rented for twelve or fifteen thousand a season. The one on
  114. my right was a colossal affair by any standard--it was a factual
  115. imitation of some Hôtel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side,
  116. spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool
  117. and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. It was Gatsby's mansion.
  118. Or rather, as I didn't know Mr. Gatsby it was a mansion inhabited by
  119. a gentleman of that name. My own house was an eye-sore, but it was a
  120. small eye-sore, and it had been overlooked, so I had a view of the
  121. water, a partial view of my neighbor's lawn, and the consoling
  122. proximity of millionaires--all for eighty dollars a month.
  123. Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg
  124. glittered along the water, and the history of the summer really begins
  125. on the evening I drove over there to have dinner with the Tom
  126. Buchanans. Daisy was my second cousin once removed and I'd known Tom
  127. in college. And just after the war I spent two days with them in
  128. Chicago.
  129. Her husband, among various physical accomplishments, had been one of
  130. the most powerful ends that ever played football at New Haven--a
  131. national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such an acute
  132. limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of
  133. anti-climax. His family were enormously wealthy--even in college his
  134. freedom with money was a matter for reproach--but now he'd left Chicago
  135. and come east in a fashion that rather took your breath away: for
  136. instance he'd brought down a string of polo ponies from Lake Forest.
  137. It was hard to realize that a man in my own generation was wealthy
  138. enough to do that.
  139. Why they came east I don't know. They had spent a year in France, for no
  140. particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever
  141. people played polo and were rich together. This was a permanent move,
  142. said Daisy over the telephone, but I didn't believe it--I had no sight
  143. into Daisy's heart but I felt that Tom would drift on forever seeking
  144. a little wistfully for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable
  145. football game.
  146. And so it happened that on a warm windy evening I drove over to East
  147. Egg to see two old friends whom I scarcely knew at all. Their house was
  148. even more elaborate than I expected, a cheerful red and white Georgian
  149. Colonial mansion overlooking the bay. The lawn started at the beach
  150. and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a mile, jumping over
  151. sun-dials and brick walks and burning gardens--finally when it reached
  152. the house drifting up the side in bright vines as though from the
  153. momentum of its run. The front was broken by a line of French windows,
  154. glowing now with reflected gold, and wide open to the warm windy
  155. afternoon, and Tom Buchanan in riding clothes was standing with his
  156. legs apart on the front porch.
  157. He had changed since his New Haven years. Now he was a sturdy, straw haired
  158. man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner.
  159. Two shining, arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and
  160. gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not
  161. even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous
  162. power of that body--he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he
  163. strained the top lacing and you could see a great pack of muscle
  164. shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat. It was a body
  165. capable of enormous leverage--a cruel body.
  166. His speaking voice, a gruff husky tenor, added to the impression of
  167. fractiousness he conveyed. There was a touch of paternal contempt in
  168. it, even toward people he liked--and there were men at New Haven who had
  169. hated his guts.
  170. "Now, don't think my opinion on these matters is final," he seemed to
  171. say, "just because I'm stronger and more of a man than you are." We
  172. were in the same Senior Society, and while we were never intimate I
  173. always had the impression that he approved of me and wanted me to like
  174. him with some harsh, defiant wistfulness of his own.
  175. We talked for a few minutes on the sunny porch.
  176. "I've got a nice place here," he said, his eyes flashing about
  177. restlessly.
  178. Turning me around by one arm he moved a broad flat hand along the
  179. front vista, including in its sweep a sunken Italian garden, a half
  180. acre of deep pungent roses and a snub-nosed motor boat that bumped
  181. the tide off shore.
  182. "It belonged to Demaine the oil man." He turned me around again,
  183. politely and abruptly. "We'll go inside."
  184. We walked through a high hallway into a bright rosy-colored space,
  185. fragilely bound into the house by French windows at either end.
  186. The windows were ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass
  187. outside that seemed to grow a little way into the house. A breeze
  188. blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other
  189. like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding cake of
  190. the ceiling--and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a
  191. shadow on it as wind does on the sea.
  192. The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch
  193. on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored
  194. balloon. They were both in white and their dresses were rippling and
  195. fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight
  196. around the house. I must have stood for a few moments listening to the
  197. whip and snap of the curtains and the groan of a picture on the wall.
  198. Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught
  199. wind died out about the room and the curtains and the rugs and the two
  200. young women ballooned slowly to the floor.
  201. The younger of the two was a stranger to me. She was extended full length
  202. at her end of the divan, completely motionless and with her chin raised
  203. a little as if she were balancing something on it which was quite likely
  204. to fall. If she saw me out of the corner of her eyes she gave no hint of
  205. it--indeed, I was almost surprised into murmuring an apology for having
  206. disturbed her by coming in.
  207. The other girl, Daisy, made an attempt to rise--she leaned slightly
  208. forward with a conscientious expression--then she laughed, an absurd,
  209. charming little laugh, and I laughed too and came forward into the
  210. room.
  211. "I'm p-paralyzed with happiness."
  212. She laughed again, as if she said something very witty, and held my hand
  213. for a moment, looking up into my face, promising that there was no one
  214. in the world she so much wanted to see. That was a way she had.
  215. She hinted in a murmur that the surname of the balancing girl was Baker.
  216. (I've heard it said that Daisy's murmur was only to make people
  217. lean toward her; an irrelevant criticism that made it no less charming.)
  218. At any rate Miss Baker's lips fluttered, she nodded at me almost
  219. imperceptibly and then quickly tipped her head back again--the object
  220. she was balancing had obviously tottered a little and given her something
  221. of a fright. Again a sort of apology arose to my lips. Almost any
  222. exhibition of complete self sufficiency draws a stunned tribute from me.
  223. I looked back at my cousin who began to ask me questions in her low,
  224. thrilling voice. It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and
  225. down as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be
  226. played again. Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it,
  227. bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth--but there was an excitement
  228. in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget:
  229. a singing compulsion, a whispered "Listen," a promise that she had done
  230. gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay,
  231. exciting things hovering in the next hour.
  232. I told her how I had stopped off in Chicago for a day on my way east
  233. and how a dozen people had sent their love through me.
  234. "Do they miss me?" she cried ecstatically.
  235. "The whole town is desolate. All the cars have the left rear wheel
  236. painted black as a mourning wreath and there's a persistent wail all
  237. night along the North Shore."
  238. "How gorgeous! Let's go back, Tom. Tomorrow!" Then she added
  239. irrelevantly, "You ought to see the baby."
  240. "I'd like to."
  241. "She's asleep. She's two years old. Haven't you ever seen her?"
  242. "Never."
  243. "Well, you ought to see her. She's----"
  244. Tom Buchanan who had been hovering restlessly about the room stopped
  245. and rested his hand on my shoulder.
  246. "What you doing, Nick?"
  247. "I'm a bond man."
  248. "Who with?"
  249. I told him.
  250. "Never heard of them," he remarked decisively.
  251. This annoyed me.
  252. "You will," I answered shortly. "You will if you stay in the East."
  253. "Oh, I'll stay in the East, don't you worry," he said, glancing at
  254. Daisy and then back at me, as if he were alert for something more.
  255. "I'd be a God Damned fool to live anywhere else."
  256. At this point Miss Baker said "Absolutely!" with such suddenness that I
  257. started--it was the first word she uttered since I came into the room.
  258. Evidently it surprised her as much as it did me, for she yawned and
  259. with a series of rapid, deft movements stood up into the room.
  260. "I'm stiff," she complained, "I've been lying on that sofa for as long
  261. as I can remember."
  262. "Don't look at me," Daisy retorted. "I've been trying to get you to New
  263. York all afternoon."
  264. "No, thanks," said Miss Baker to the four cocktails just in from the
  265. pantry, "I'm absolutely in training."
  266. Her host looked at her incredulously.
  267. "You are!" He took down his drink as if it were a drop in the bottom of
  268. a glass. "How you ever get anything done is beyond me."
  269. I looked at Miss Baker wondering what it was she "got done." I enjoyed
  270. looking at her. She was a slender, small-breasted girl, with an erect
  271. carriage which she accentuated by throwing her body backward at the
  272. shoulders like a young cadet. Her grey sun-strained eyes looked back at
  273. me with polite reciprocal curiosity out of a wan, charming discontented
  274. face. It occurred to me now that I had seen her, or a picture of her,
  275. somewhere before.
  276. "You live in West Egg," she remarked contemptuously. "I know somebody
  277. there."
  278. "I don't know a single----"
  279. "You must know Gatsby."
  280. "Gatsby?" demanded Daisy. "What Gatsby?"
  281. Before I could reply that he was my neighbor dinner was announced;
  282. wedging his tense arm imperatively under mine Tom Buchanan compelled
  283. me from the room as though he were moving a checker to another square.
  284. Slenderly, languidly, their hands set lightly on their hips the two
  285. young women preceded us out onto a rosy-colored porch open toward the
  286. sunset where four candles flickered on the table in the diminished
  287. wind.
  288. "Why CANDLES?" objected Daisy, frowning. She snapped them out with her
  289. fingers. "In two weeks it'll be the longest day in the year."
  290. She looked at us all radiantly. "Do you always watch for the longest day
  291. of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day in the
  292. year and then miss it."
  293. "We ought to plan something," yawned Miss Baker, sitting down at the
  294. table as if she were getting into bed.
  295. "All right," said Daisy. "What'll we plan?" She turned to me helplessly.
  296. "What do people plan?"
  297. Before I could answer her eyes fastened with an awed expression on her
  298. little finger.
  299. "Look!" she complained. "I hurt it."
  300. We all looked--the knuckle was black and blue.
  301. "You did it, Tom," she said accusingly. "I know you didn't mean to
  302. but you DID do it. That's what I get for marrying a brute of a man,
  303. a great big hulking physical specimen of a----"
  304. "I hate that word hulking," objected Tom crossly, "even in kidding."
  305. "Hulking," insisted Daisy.
  306. Sometimes she and Miss Baker talked at once, unobtrusively and with a
  307. bantering inconsequence that was never quite chatter, that was as cool
  308. as their white dresses and their impersonal eyes in the absence of all
  309. desire. They were here--and they accepted Tom and me, making only a
  310. polite pleasant effort to entertain or to be entertained. They knew
  311. that presently dinner would be over and a little later the evening too
  312. would be over and casually put away. It was sharply different from the
  313. West where an evening was hurried from phase to phase toward its
  314. close in a continually disappointed anticipation or else in sheer
  315. nervous dread of the moment itself.
  316. "You make me feel uncivilized, Daisy," I confessed on my second glass
  317. of corky but rather impressive claret. "Can't you talk about crops or
  318. something?"
  319. I meant nothing in particular by this remark but it was taken up in an
  320. unexpected way.
  321. "Civilization's going to pieces," broke out Tom violently.
  322. "I've gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things. Have you read
  323. 'The Rise of the Coloured Empires' by this man Goddard?"
  324. "Why, no," I answered, rather surprised by his tone.
  325. "Well, it's a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if
  326. we don't look out the white race will be--will be utterly submerged.
  327. It's all scientific stuff; it's been proved."
  328. "Tom's getting very profound," said Daisy with an expression of
  329. unthoughtful sadness. "He reads deep books with long words in them.
  330. What was that word we----"
  331. "Well, these books are all scientific," insisted Tom, glancing at her
  332. impatiently. "This fellow has worked out the whole thing. It's up to us
  333. who are the dominant race to watch out or these other races will have
  334. control of things."
  335. "We've got to beat them down," whispered Daisy, winking ferociously
  336. toward the fervent sun.
  337. "You ought to live in California--" began Miss Baker but Tom
  338. interrupted her by shifting heavily in his chair.
  339. "This idea is that we're Nordics. I am, and you are and you are
  340. and----" After an infinitesimal hesitation he included Daisy with a
  341. slight nod and she winked at me again. "--and we've produced all the
  342. things that go to make civilization--oh, science and art and all that.
  343. Do you see?"
  344. There was something pathetic in his concentration as if his complacency,
  345. more acute than of old, was not enough to him any more. When, almost
  346. immediately, the telephone rang inside and the butler left the porch Daisy
  347. seized upon the momentary interruption and leaned toward me.
  348. "I'll tell you a family secret," she whispered enthusiastically. "It's
  349. about the butler's nose. Do you want to hear about the butler's nose?"
  350. "That's why I came over tonight."
  351. "Well, he wasn't always a butler; he used to be the silver polisher for
  352. some people in New York that had a silver service for two hundred people.
  353. He had to polish it from morning till night until finally it began to
  354. affect his nose----"
  355. "Things went from bad to worse," suggested Miss Baker.
  356. "Yes. Things went from bad to worse until finally he had to give up
  357. his position."
  358. For a moment the last sunshine fell with romantic affection upon
  359. her glowing face; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as
  360. I listened--then the glow faded, each light deserting her with
  361. lingering regret like children leaving a pleasant street at dusk.
  362. The butler came back and murmured something close to Tom's ear
  363. whereupon Tom frowned, pushed back his chair and without a word went
  364. inside. As if his absence quickened something within her Daisy leaned
  365. forward again, her voice glowing and singing.
  366. "I love to see you at my table, Nick. You remind me of a--of a rose, an
  367. absolute rose. Doesn't he?" She turned to Miss Baker for confirmation.
  368. "An absolute rose?"
  369. This was untrue. I am not even faintly like a rose. She was only
  370. extemporizing but a stirring warmth flowed from her as if her
  371. heart was trying to come out to you concealed in one of those
  372. breathless, thrilling words. Then suddenly she threw her napkin on the
  373. table and excused herself and went into the house.
  374. Miss Baker and I exchanged a short glance consciously devoid of
  375. meaning. I was about to speak when she sat up alertly and said "Sh!" in
  376. a warning voice. A subdued impassioned murmur was audible in the room
  377. beyond and Miss Baker leaned forward, unashamed, trying to hear. The
  378. murmur trembled on the verge of coherence, sank down, mounted
  379. excitedly, and then ceased altogether.
  380. "This Mr. Gatsby you spoke of is my neighbor----" I said.
  381. "Don't talk. I want to hear what happens."
  382. "Is something happening?" I inquired innocently.
  383. "You mean to say you don't know?" said Miss Baker, honestly surprised.
  384. "I thought everybody knew."
  385. "I don't."
  386. "Why----" she said hesitantly, "Tom's got some woman in New York."
  387. "Got some woman?" I repeated blankly.
  388. Miss Baker nodded.
  389. "She might have the decency not to telephone him at dinner-time. Don't
  390. you think?"
  391. Almost before I had grasped her meaning there was the flutter of
  392. a dress and the crunch of leather boots and Tom and Daisy were back
  393. at the table.
  394. "It couldn't be helped!" cried Daisy with tense gayety.
  395. She sat down, glanced searchingly at Miss Baker and then at me and
  396. continued: "I looked outdoors for a minute and it's very romantic
  397. outdoors. There's a bird on the lawn that I think must be a nightingale
  398. come over on the Cunard or White Star Line. He's singing away----" her
  399. voice sang "----It's romantic, isn't it, Tom?"
  400. "Very romantic," he said, and then miserably to me: "If it's light enough
  401. after dinner I want to take you down to the stables."
  402. The telephone rang inside, startlingly, and as Daisy shook her
  403. head decisively at Tom the subject of the stables, in fact all
  404. subjects, vanished into air. Among the broken fragments of the
  405. last five minutes at table I remember the candles being lit again,
  406. pointlessly, and I was conscious of wanting to look squarely at every
  407. one and yet to avoid all eyes. I couldn't guess what Daisy and Tom
  408. were thinking but I doubt if even Miss Baker who seemed to have
  409. mastered a certain hardy skepticism was able utterly to put this fifth
  410. guest's shrill metallic urgency out of mind. To a certain temperament
  411. the situation might have seemed intriguing--my own instinct was to
  412. telephone immediately for the police.
  413. The horses, needless to say, were not mentioned again. Tom and Miss
  414. Baker, with several feet of twilight between them strolled back into
  415. the library, as if to a vigil beside a perfectly tangible body, while
  416. trying to look pleasantly interested and a little deaf I followed
  417. Daisy around a chain of connecting verandas to the porch in front. In
  418. its deep gloom we sat down side by side on a wicker settee.
  419. Daisy took her face in her hands, as if feeling its lovely shape, and
  420. her eyes moved gradually out into the velvet dusk. I saw that turbulent
  421. emotions possessed her, so I asked what I thought would be some
  422. sedative questions about her little girl.
  423. "We don't know each other very well, Nick," she said suddenly.
  424. "Even if we are cousins. You didn't come to my wedding."
  425. "I wasn't back from the war."
  426. "That's true." She hesitated. "Well, I've had a very bad time, Nick,
  427. and I'm pretty cynical about everything."
  428. Evidently she had reason to be. I waited but she didn't say any more,
  429. and after a moment I returned rather feebly to the subject of her
  430. daughter.
  431. "I suppose she talks, and--eats, and everything."
  432. "Oh, yes." She looked at me absently. "Listen, Nick; let me tell you what
  433. I said when she was born. Would you like to hear?"
  434. "Very much."
  435. "It'll show you how I've gotten to feel about--things. Well, she was less
  436. than an hour old and Tom was God knows where. I woke up out of the ether
  437. with an utterly abandoned feeling and asked the nurse right away if it
  438. was a boy or a girl. She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head
  439. away and wept. 'All right,' I said, 'I'm glad it's a girl. And I hope
  440. she'll be a fool--that's the best thing a girl can be in this world,
  441. a beautiful little fool."
  442. "You see I think everything's terrible anyhow," she went on in a
  443. convinced way. "Everybody thinks so--the most advanced people. And I KNOW.
  444. I've been everywhere and seen everything and done everything."
  445. Her eyes flashed around her in a defiant way, rather like Tom's, and she
  446. laughed with thrilling scorn. "Sophisticated--God, I'm sophisticated!"
  447. The instant her voice broke off, ceasing to compel my attention,
  448. my belief, I felt the basic insincerity of what she had said.
  449. It made me uneasy, as though the whole evening had been a trick
  450. of some sort to exact a contributory emotion from me. I waited,
  451. and sure enough, in a moment she looked at me with an absolute smirk
  452. on her lovely face as if she had asserted her membership in a rather
  453. distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belonged.
  454. Inside, the crimson room bloomed with light. Tom and Miss Baker
  455. sat at either end of the long couch and she read aloud to him from
  456. the "Saturday Evening Post"--the words, murmurous and
  457. uninflected, running together in a soothing tune. The lamp-light,
  458. bright on his boots and dull on the autumn-leaf yellow of her hair,
  459. glinted along the paper as she turned a page with a flutter of slender
  460. muscles in her arms.
  461. When we came in she held us silent for a moment with a lifted hand.
  462. "To be continued," she said, tossing the magazine on the table, "in our
  463. very next issue."
  464. Her body asserted itself with a restless movement of her knee, and she
  465. stood up.
  466. "Ten o'clock," she remarked, apparently finding the time on the
  467. ceiling. "Time for this good girl to go to bed."
  468. "Jordan's going to play in the tournament tomorrow," explained Daisy,
  469. "over at Westchester."
  470. "Oh,--you're JORdan Baker."
  471. I knew now why her face was familiar--its pleasing contemptuous
  472. expression had looked out at me from many rotogravure pictures of
  473. the sporting life at Asheville and Hot Springs and Palm Beach. I
  474. had heard some story of her too, a critical, unpleasant story,
  475. but what it was I had forgotten long ago.
  476. "Good night," she said softly. "Wake me at eight, won't you."
  477. "If you'll get up."
  478. "I will. Good night, Mr. Carraway. See you anon."
  479. "Of course you will," confirmed Daisy. "In fact I think I'll arrange
  480. a marriage. Come over often, Nick, and I'll sort of--oh--fling you
  481. together. You know--lock you up accidentally in linen closets and push
  482. you out to sea in a boat, and all that sort of thing----"
  483. "Good night," called Miss Baker from the stairs. "I haven't heard a word."
  484. "She's a nice girl," said Tom after a moment. "They oughtn't to let her
  485. run around the country this way."
  486. "Who oughtn't to?" inquired Daisy coldly.
  487. "Her family."
  488. "Her family is one aunt about a thousand years old. Besides, Nick's
  489. going to look after her, aren't you, Nick? She's going to spend lots of
  490. week-ends out here this summer. I think the home influence will be very
  491. good for her."
  492. Daisy and Tom looked at each other for a moment in silence.
  493. "Is she from New York?" I asked quickly.
  494. "From Louisville. Our white girlhood was passed together there. Our
  495. beautiful white----"
  496. "Did you give Nick a little heart to heart talk on the veranda?"
  497. demanded Tom suddenly.
  498. "Did I?" She looked at me. "I can't seem to remember, but I think
  499. we talked about the Nordic race. Yes, I'm sure we did. It sort of
  500. crept up on us and first thing you know----"
  501. "Don't believe everything you hear, Nick," he advised me.

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