In addition to all these I can remember that Faustina O'Brien came
there at least once...and Miss Claudia Hip with a man
reputed to be her
chauffeur, and a prince of something whom we called Duke and whose name, if I ever knew it, I have forgotten.
He was balancing himself on the dashboard of his car with that
resourcefulness of movement that is so peculiarly American—that comes, I suppose, with the absence of lifting work or rigid sitting in youth and, even more, with the formless grace of our nervous, sporadic games.
This quality was continually breaking through his
punctilious manner in the shape of restlessness.
So my first impression, that he was a person of some undefined consequence, had gradually faded and he had become simply the
proprietor of an elaborate roadhouse next door.
His right hand suddenly ordered divine
retribution to stand by.
The very phrases were worn so
threadbare that they evoked no image except that of a turbaned "character" leaking sawdust at every pore as he pursued a tiger through the Bois de Boulogne.
"Major Jay Gatsby", I read, "For
We passed Port Roosevelt, where there was a glimpse of red-belted ocean-going ships, and sped along a cobbled slum lined with the dark, undeserted saloons of the faded
In a well-fanned Forty-second Street cellar I met Gatsby for lunch. Blinking away the brightness of the street outside my eyes picked him out
obscurely in the anteroom, talking to another man.
"This is one of his sentimental days. He's quite a character around New York—a
denizen of Broadway."
They were so
engrossed in each other that she didn't see me until I was five feet away.
Then it had not been merely the stars to which he had
aspired on that June night.
He had waited five years and bought a mansion where he
dispensed starlight to casual moths so that he could "come over" some afternoon to a stranger's garden.
A phrase began to beat in my ears with a sort of
heady excitement: "There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired."
At first I thought it was another party, a wild
rout that had resolved itself into "hide-and-go-seek" or "sardines-in-the-box" with all the house thrown open to the game.
He waited, looking at me with
But, because the offer was obviously and
tactlessly for a service to be rendered, I had no choice except to cut him off there.
His head leaned back so far that it rested against the face of a
defunct mantelpiece clock and from this position his distraught eyes stared down at Daisy who was sitting frightened but graceful on the edge of a stiff chair.
His eyes glanced momentarily at me and his lips parted with an
abortive attempt at a laugh.
Gatsby got himself into a shadow and while Daisy and I talked looked
conscientiously from one to the other of us with tense unhappy eyes.
"She's embarrassed?" he repeated
Americans, while occasionally willing to be
serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry.
They were sitting at either end of the couch looking at each other as if some question had been asked or was in the air, and every
vestige of embarrassment was gone.
But there was a change in Gatsby that was simply
He literally glowed; without a word or a gesture of
exultation a new well-being radiated from him and filled the little room.
There was a small picture of Gatsby, also in yachting costume, on the bureau—Gatsby with his head thrown back
defiantly—taken apparently when he was about eighteen.
pompadour! You never told me you had a
pompadour—or a yacht."
He was now decently clothed in a "sport shirt" open at the neck, sneakers and duck trousers of a
There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams—not through her own fault but because of the colossal
vitality of his illusion.
Daisy's "fluctuating" voice mirrors her fickle affections, in contrast to Gatsby's single-minded devotion.
I think that voice held him most with its
fluctuating, feverish warmth because it couldn't be over-dreamed—that voice was a deathless song.