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Chapter 4

On Sunday morning while church bells rang in the villages along shore the world and its mistress returned to Gatsby's house and twinkled hilariously on his lawn.

"He's a bootlegger," said the young ladies, moving somewhere between his cocktails and his flowers. "One time he killed a man who had found out that he was nephew to von Hindenburg and second cousin to the devil.

Reach me a rose, honey, and pour me a last drop into that there crystal glass."

Once I wrote down on the empty spaces of a time-table the names of those who came to Gatsby's house that summer. It is an old time-table now, disintegrating at its folds and headed "This schedule in effect July 5th, 1922." But I can still read the grey names and they will give you a better impression than my generalities of those who accepted Gatsby's hospitality and paid him the subtle tribute of knowing nothing whatever about him.

From East Egg, then, came the Chester Beckers and the Leeches and a man named Bunsen whom I knew at Yale and Doctor Webster Civet who was drowned last summer up in Maine. And the Hornbeams and the Willie Voltaires and a whole clan named Blackbuck who always gathered in a corner and flipped up their noses like goats at whosoever came near.

And the Ismays and the Chrysties (or rather Hubert Auerbach and Mr.

Chrystie's wife) and Edgar Beaver, whose hair they say turned cotton-white one winter afternoon for no good reason at all.

Clarence Endive was from East Egg, as I remember. He came only once, in white knickerbockers, and had a fight with a bum named Etty in the garden. From farther out on the Island came the Cheadles and the O. R. P. Schraeders and the Stonewall Jackson Abrams of Georgia and the Fishguards and the Ripley Snells. Snell was there three days before he went to the penitentiary, so drunk out on the gravel drive that Mrs. Ulysses Swett's automobile ran over his right hand. The Dancies came too and S. B. Whitebait, who was well over sixty, and Maurice A. Flink and the Hammerheads and Beluga the tobacco importer and Beluga's girls.

From West Egg came the Poles and the Mulreadys and Cecil Roebuck and Cecil Schoen and Gulick the state senator and Newton Orchid who controlled Films Par Excellence and Eckhaust and Clyde Cohen and Don S. Schwartze (the son) and Arthur McCarty, all connected with the movies in one way or another. And the Catlips and the Bembergs and G.

Earl Muldoon, brother to that Muldoon who afterward strangled his wife.

Da Fontano the promoter came there, and Ed Legros and James B.

("Rot-Gut") Ferret and the De Jongs and Ernest Lilly--they came to gamble and when Ferret wandered into the garden it meant he was cleaned out and Associated Traction would have to fluctuate profitably next day.

A man named Klipspringer was there so often and so long that he became known as "the boarder"--I doubt if he had any other home. Of theatrical people there were Gus Waize and Horace O'Donavan and Lester Meyer and George Duckweed and Francis Bull. Also from New York were the Chromes and the Backhyssons and the Dennickers and Russel Betty and the Corrigans and the Kellehers and the Dewars and the Scullys and S. W.

Belcher and the Smirkes and the young Quinns, divorced now, and Henry L. Palmetto who killed himself by jumping in front of a subway train in Times Square.

Benny McClenahan arrived always with four girls. They were never quite the same ones in physical person but they were so identical one with another that it inevitably seemed they had been there before. I have forgotten their names--Jaqueline, I think, or else Consuela or Gloria or Judy or June, and their last names were either the melodious names of flowers and months or the sterner ones of the great American capitalists whose cousins, if pressed, they would confess themselves to be.

In addition to all these I can remember that Faustina O'Brien came there at least once and the Baedeker girls and young Brewer who had his nose shot off in the war and Mr. Albrucksburger and Miss Haag, his fiancée, and Ardita Fitz-Peters, and Mr. P. Jewett, once head of the American Legion, 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.

All these people came to Gatsby's house in the summer.

At nine o'clock, one morning late in July Gatsby's gorgeous car lurched up the rocky drive to my door and gave out a burst of melody from its three noted horn. It was the first time he had called on me though I had gone to two of his parties, mounted in his hydroplane, and, at his urgent invitation, made frequent use of his beach.

"Good morning, old sport. You're having lunch with me today and I thought we'd ride up together."

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. He was never quite still; there was always a tapping foot somewhere or the impatient opening and closing of a hand.

He saw me looking with admiration at his car.

"It's pretty, isn't it, old sport." He jumped off to give me a better view. "Haven't you ever seen it before?"

I'd seen it. Everybody had seen it. It was a rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hatboxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of windshields that mirrored a dozen suns. Sitting down behind many layers of glass in a sort of green leather conservatory we started to town.

I had talked with him perhaps half a dozen times in the past month and found, to my disappointment, that he had little to say. 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.

And then came that disconcerting ride. We hadn't reached West Egg village before Gatsby began leaving his elegant sentences unfinished and slapping himself indecisively on the knee of his caramel-colored suit.

"Look here, old sport," he broke out surprisingly. "What's your opinion of me, anyhow?"

A little overwhelmed, I began the generalized evasions which that question deserves.

"Well, I'm going to tell you something about my life," he interrupted.

"I don't want you to get a wrong idea of me from all these stories you hear."

So he was aware of the bizarre accusations that flavored conversation in his halls.

"I'll tell you God's truth." His right hand suddenly ordered divine retribution to stand by. "I am the son of some wealthy people in the middle-west--all dead now. I was brought up in America but educated at Oxford because all my ancestors have been educated there for many years.

It is a family tradition."

He looked at me sideways--and I knew why Jordan Baker had believed he was lying. He hurried the phrase "educated at Oxford," or swallowed it or choked on it as though it had bothered him before. And with this doubt his whole statement fell to pieces and I wondered if there wasn't something a little sinister about him after all.

"What part of the middle-west?" I inquired casually.

"San Francisco."

"I see."

"My family all died and I came into a good deal of money."

His voice was solemn as if the memory of that sudden extinction of a clan still haunted him. For a moment I suspected that he was pulling my leg but a glance at him convinced me otherwise.

"After that I lived like a young rajah in all the capitals of Europe--Paris, Venice, Rome--collecting jewels, chiefly rubies, hunting big game, painting a little, things for myself only, and trying to forget something very sad that had happened to me long ago."

With an effort I managed to restrain my incredulous laughter. 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.

"Then came the war, old sport. It was a great relief and I tried very hard to die but I seemed to bear an enchanted life. I accepted a commission as first lieutenant when it began. In the Argonne Forest I took two machine-gun detachments so far forward that there was a half mile gap on either side of us where the infantry couldn't advance. We stayed there two days and two nights, a hundred and thirty men with sixteen Lewis guns, and when the infantry came up at last they found the insignia of three German divisions among the piles of dead. I was promoted to be a major and every Allied government gave me a decoration--even Montenegro, little Montenegro down on the Adriatic Sea!"

Little Montenegro! He lifted up the words and nodded at them--with his smile. The smile comprehended Montenegro's troubled history and sympathized with the brave struggles of the Montenegrin people. It appreciated fully the chain of national circumstances which had elicited this tribute from Montenegro's warm little heart. My incredulity was submerged in fascination now; it was like skimming hastily through a dozen magazines.

He reached in his pocket and a piece of metal, slung on a ribbon, fell into my palm.

"That's the one from Montenegro."

To my astonishment, the thing had an authentic look.

_Orderi di Danilo_, ran the circular legend, _Montenegro, Nicolas Rex_.

"Turn it."

_Major Jay Gatsby_, I read, _For Valour Extraordinary_.

"Here's another thing I always carry. A souvenir of Oxford days. It was taken in Trinity Quad--the man on my left is now the Earl of Dorcaster."

It was a photograph of half a dozen young men in blazers loafing in an archway through which were visible a host of spires. There was Gatsby, looking a little, not much, younger--with a cricket bat in his hand.

Then it was all true. I saw the skins of tigers flaming in his palace on the Grand Canal; I saw him opening a chest of rubies to ease, with their crimson-lighted depths, the gnawings of his broken heart.

"I'm going to make a big request of you today," he said, pocketing his souvenirs with satisfaction, "so I thought you ought to know something about me. I didn't want you to think I was just some nobody. You see, I usually find myself among strangers because I drift here and there trying to forget the sad thing that happened to me." He hesitated.

"You'll hear about it this afternoon."

"At lunch?"

"No, this afternoon. I happened to find out that you're taking Miss Baker to tea."

"Do you mean you're in love with Miss Baker?"

"No, old sport, I'm not. But Miss Baker has kindly consented to speak to you about this matter."

I hadn't the faintest idea what "this matter" was, but I was more annoyed than interested. I hadn't asked Jordan to tea in order to discuss Mr. Jay Gatsby. I was sure the request would be something utterly fantastic and for a moment I was sorry I'd ever set foot upon his overpopulated lawn.

He wouldn't say another word. His correctness grew on him as we neared the city. 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 gilt nineteen-hundreds. Then the valley of ashes opened out on both sides of us, and I had a glimpse of Mrs. Wilson straining at the garage pump with panting vitality as we went by.

With fenders spread like wings we scattered light through half Astoria--only half, for as we twisted among the pillars of the elevated I heard the familiar "jug--jug--SPAT!" of a motor cycle, and a frantic policeman rode alongside.

"All right, old sport," called Gatsby. We slowed down. Taking a white card from his wallet he waved it before the man's eyes.

"Right you are," agreed the policeman, tipping his cap. "Know you next time, Mr. Gatsby. Excuse ME!"

"What was that?" I inquired. "The picture of Oxford?"

"I was able to do the commissioner a favor once, and he sends me a Christmas card every year."

Over the great bridge, with the sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon the moving cars, with the city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps all built with a wish out of non-olfactory money. The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.

A dead man passed us in a hearse heaped with blooms, followed by two carriages with drawn blinds and by more cheerful carriages for friends. The friends looked out at us with the tragic eyes and short upper lips of south-eastern Europe, and I was glad that the sight of Gatsby's splendid car was included in their somber holiday. As we crossed Blackwell's Island a limousine passed us, driven by a white chauffeur, in which sat three modish Negroes, two bucks and a girl. I laughed aloud as the yolks of their eyeballs rolled toward us in haughty rivalry.

"Anything can happen now that we've slid over this bridge," I thought; "anything at all...."

Even Gatsby could happen, without any particular wonder.

Roaring noon. 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.

"Mr. Carraway this is my friend Mr. Wolfshiem."

A small, flat-nosed Jew raised his large head and regarded me with two fine growths of hair which luxuriated in either nostril. After a moment I discovered his tiny eyes in the half darkness.

"--so I took one look at him--" said Mr. Wolfshiem, shaking my hand earnestly, "--and what do you think I did?"

"What?" I inquired politely.

But evidently he was not addressing me for he dropped my hand and covered Gatsby with his expressive nose.

"I handed the money to Katspaugh and I sid, 'All right, Katspaugh, don't pay him a penny till he shuts his mouth.' He shut it then and there."

Gatsby took an arm of each of us and moved forward into the restaurant whereupon Mr. Wolfshiem swallowed a new sentence he was starting and lapsed into a somnambulatory abstraction.

"Highballs?" asked the head waiter.

"This is a nice restaurant here," said Mr. Wolfshiem looking at the Presbyterian nymphs on the ceiling. "But I like across the street better!"

"Yes, highballs," agreed Gatsby, and then to Mr. Wolfshiem: "It's too hot over there."

"Hot and small--yes," said Mr. Wolfshiem, "but full of memories."

"What place is that?" I asked.

"The old Metropole.

"The old Metropole," brooded Mr. Wolfshiem gloomily. "Filled with faces dead and gone. Filled with friends gone now forever. I can't forget so long as I live the night they shot Rosy Rosenthal there. It was six of us at the table and Rosy had eat and drunk a lot all evening. When it was almost morning the waiter came up to him with a funny look and says somebody wants to speak to him outside. 'All right,' says Rosy and begins to get up and I pulled him down in his chair.

" 'Let the bastards come in here if they want you, Rosy, but don't you, so help me, move outside this room.'

"It was four o'clock in the morning then, and if we'd of raised the blinds we'd of seen daylight."

"Did he go?" I asked innocently.

"Sure he went,"--Mr. Wolfshiem's nose flashed at me indignantly--"He turned around in the door and says, 'Don't let that waiter take away my coffee!' Then he went out on the sidewalk and they shot him three times in his full belly and drove away."

"Four of them were electrocuted," I said, remembering.

"Five with Becker." His nostrils turned to me in an interested way.

"I understand you're looking for a business gonnegtion."

The juxtaposition of these two remarks was startling. Gatsby answered for me:

"Oh, no," he exclaimed, "this isn't the man!"

"No?" Mr. Wolfshiem seemed disappointed.

"This is just a friend. I told you we'd talk about that some other time."

"I beg your pardon," said Mr. Wolfshiem, "I had a wrong man."

A succulent hash arrived, and Mr. Wolfshiem, forgetting the more sentimental atmosphere of the old Metropole, began to eat with ferocious delicacy. His eyes, meanwhile, roved very slowly all around the room--he completed the arc by turning to inspect the people directly behind. I think that, except for my presence, he would have taken one short glance beneath our own table.

"Look here, old sport," said Gatsby, leaning toward me, "I'm afraid I made you a little angry this morning in the car."

There was the smile again, but this time I held out against it.

"I don't like mysteries," I answered. "And I don't understand why you won't come out frankly and tell me what you want. Why has it all got to come through Miss Baker?"

"Oh, it's nothing underhand," he assured me. "Miss Baker's a great sportswoman, you know, and she'd never do anything that wasn't all right."

Suddenly he looked at his watch, jumped up and hurried from the room leaving me with Mr. Wolfshiem at the table.

"He has to telephone," said Mr. Wolfshiem, following him with his eyes.

"Fine fellow, isn't he? Handsome to look at and a perfect gentleman."

"Yes."

"He's an Oggsford man."

"Oh!"

"He went to Oggsford College in England. You know Oggsford College?"

"I've heard of it."

"It's one of the most famous colleges in the world."

"Have you known Gatsby for a long time?" I inquired.

"Several years," he answered in a gratified way. "I made the pleasure of his acquaintance just after the war. But I knew I had discovered a man of fine breeding after I talked with him an hour. I said to myself: 'There's the kind of man you'd like to take home and introduce to your mother and sister.' " He paused. "I see you're looking at my cuff buttons."

I hadn't been looking at them, but I did now. They were composed of oddly familiar pieces of ivory.

"Finest specimens of human molars," he informed me.

"Well!" I inspected them. "That's a very interesting idea."

"Yeah." He flipped his sleeves up under his coat. "Yeah, Gatsby's very careful about women. He would never so much as look at a friend's wife."

When the subject of this instinctive trust returned to the table and sat down Mr. Wolfshiem drank his coffee with a jerk and got to his feet.

"I have enjoyed my lunch," he said, "and I'm going to run off from you two young men before I outstay my welcome."

"Don't hurry, Meyer," said Gatsby, without enthusiasm. Mr. Wolfshiem raised his hand in a sort of benediction.

"You're very polite but I belong to another generation," he announced solemnly. "You sit here and discuss your sports and your young ladies and your----" He supplied an imaginary noun with another wave of his hand--"As for me, I am fifty years old, and I won't impose myself on you any longer."

As he shook hands and turned away his tragic nose was trembling.

I wondered if I had said anything to offend him.

"He becomes very sentimental sometimes," explained Gatsby. "This is one of his sentimental days. He's quite a character around New York--a denizen of Broadway."

"Who is he anyhow--an actor?"

"No."

"A dentist?"

"Meyer Wolfshiem? No, he's a gambler." Gatsby hesitated, then added coolly: "He's the man who fixed the World's Series back in 1919."

"Fixed the World's Series?" I repeated.

The idea staggered me. I remembered of course that the World's Series had been fixed in 1919 but if I had thought of it at all I would have thought of it as a thing that merely HAPPENED, the end of some inevitable chain. It never occurred to me that one man could start to play with the faith of fifty million people--with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing a safe.

"How did he happen to do that?" I asked after a minute.

"He just saw the opportunity."

"Why isn't he in jail?"

"They can't get him, old sport. He's a smart man."

I insisted on paying the check. As the waiter brought my change I caught sight of Tom Buchanan across the crowded room.

"Come along with me for a minute," I said. "I've got to say hello to someone."

When he saw us Tom jumped up and took half a dozen steps in our direction.

"Where've you been?" he demanded eagerly. "Daisy's furious because you haven't called up."

"This is Mr. Gatsby, Mr. Buchanan."

They shook hands briefly and a strained, unfamiliar look of embarrassment came over Gatsby's face.

"How've you been, anyhow?" demanded Tom of me. "How'd you happen to come up this far to eat?"

"I've been having lunch with Mr. Gatsby."

I turned toward Mr. Gatsby, but he was no longer there.

One October day in nineteen-seventeen----

(said Jordan Baker that afternoon, sitting up very straight on a straight chair in the tea-garden at the Plaza Hotel)

--I was walking along from one place to another half on the sidewalks and half on the lawns. I was happier on the lawns because I had on shoes from England with rubber nobs on the soles that bit into the soft ground.

I had on a new plaid skirt also that blew a little in the wind and whenever this happened the red, white and blue banners in front of all the houses stretched out stiff and said TUT-TUT-TUT-TUT in a disapproving way.

The largest of the banners and the largest of the lawns belonged to Daisy Fay's house. She was just eighteen, two years older than me, and by far the most popular of all the young girls in Louisville. She dressed in white, and had a little white roadster and all day long the telephone rang in her house and excited young officers from Camp Taylor demanded the privilege of monopolizing her that night, "anyways, for an hour!"

When I came opposite her house that morning her white roadster was beside the curb, and she was sitting in it with a lieutenant I had never seen before. They were so engrossed in each other that she didn't see me until I was five feet away.

"Hello Jordan," she called unexpectedly. "Please come here."

I was flattered that she wanted to speak to me, because of all the older girls I admired her most. She asked me if I was going to the Red Cross and make bandages. I was. Well, then, would I tell them that she couldn't come that day? The officer looked at Daisy while she was speaking, in a way that every young girl wants to be looked at sometime, and because it seemed romantic to me I have remembered the incident ever since. His name was Jay Gatsby and I didn't lay eyes on him again for over four years--even after I'd met him on Long Island I didn't realize it was the same man.

That was nineteen-seventeen. By the next year I had a few beaux myself, and I began to play in tournaments, so I didn't see Daisy very often.

She went with a slightly older crowd--when she went with anyone at all.

Wild rumors were circulating about her--how her mother had found her packing her bag one winter night to go to New York and say goodbye to a soldier who was going overseas. She was effectually prevented, but she wasn't on speaking terms with her family for several weeks. After that she didn't play around with the soldiers any more but only with a few flat-footed, short-sighted young men in town who couldn't get into the army at all.

By the next autumn she was gay again, gay as ever. She had a debut after the Armistice, and in February she was presumably engaged to a man from New Orleans. In June she married Tom Buchanan of Chicago with more pomp and circumstance than Louisville ever knew before. He came down with a hundred people in four private cars and hired a whole floor of the Seelbach Hotel, and the day before the wedding he gave her a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

I was bridesmaid. I came into her room half an hour before the bridal dinner, and found her lying on her bed as lovely as the June night in her flowered dress--and as drunk as a monkey. She had a bottle of sauterne in one hand and a letter in the other.

" 'Gratulate me," she muttered. "Never had a drink before but oh, how I do enjoy it."

"What's the matter, Daisy?"

I was scared, I can tell you; I'd never seen a girl like that before.

"Here, dearis." She groped around in a waste-basket she had with her on the bed and pulled out the string of pearls. "Take 'em downstairs and give 'em back to whoever they belong to. Tell 'em all Daisy's change' her mine. Say 'Daisy's change' her mine!'."

She began to cry--she cried and cried. I rushed out and found her mother's maid and we locked the door and got her into a cold bath. She wouldn't let go of the letter. She took it into the tub with her and squeezed it up into a wet ball, and only let me leave it in the soap dish when she saw that it was coming to pieces like snow.

But she didn't say another word. We gave her spirits of ammonia and put ice on her forehead and hooked her back into her dress and half an hour later when we walked out of the room the pearls were around her neck and the incident was over. Next day at five o'clock she married Tom Buchanan without so much as a shiver and started off on a three months' trip to the South Seas.

I saw them in Santa Barbara when they came back and I thought I'd never seen a girl so mad about her husband. If he left the room for a minute she'd look around uneasily and say "Where's Tom gone?" and wear the most abstracted expression until she saw him coming in the door. She used to sit on the sand with his head in her lap by the hour rubbing her fingers over his eyes and looking at him with unfathomable delight. It was touching to see them together--it made you laugh in a hushed, fascinated way. That was in August. A week after I left Santa Barbara Tom ran into a wagon on the Ventura road one night and ripped a front wheel off his car. The girl who was with him got into the papers too because her arm was broken--she was one of the chambermaids in the Santa Barbara Hotel.

The next April Daisy had her little girl and they went to France for a year. I saw them one spring in Cannes and later in Deauville and then they came back to Chicago to settle down. Daisy was popular in Chicago, as you know. They moved with a fast crowd, all of them young and rich and wild, but she came out with an absolutely perfect reputation.

Perhaps because she doesn't drink. It's a great advantage not to drink among hard-drinking people. You can hold your tongue and, moreover, you can time any little irregularity of your own so that everybody else is so blind that they don't see or care. Perhaps Daisy never went in for amour at all--and yet there's something in that voice of hers....

Well, about six weeks ago, she heard the name Gatsby for the first time in years. It was when I asked you--do you remember?--if you knew Gatsby in West Egg. After you had gone home she came into my room and woke me up, and said "What Gatsby?" and when I described him--I was half asleep--she said in the strangest voice that it must be the man she used to know. It wasn't until then that I connected this Gatsby with the officer in her white car.

When Jordan Baker had finished telling all this we had left the Plaza for half an hour and were driving in a Victoria through Central Park.

The sun had gone down behind the tall apartments of the movie stars in the West Fifties and the clear voices of girls, already gathered like crickets on the grass, rose through the hot twilight:

"I'm the Sheik of Araby, Your love belongs to me.

At night when you're are asleep,

Into your tent I'll creep----"

"It was a strange coincidence," I said.

"But it wasn't a coincidence at all."

"Why not?"

"Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay."

Then it had not been merely the stars to which he had aspired on that June night. He came alive to me, delivered suddenly from the womb of his purposeless splendor.

"He wants to know--" continued Jordan "--if you'll invite Daisy to your house some afternoon and then let him come over."

The modesty of the demand shook me. 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.

"Did I have to know all this before he could ask such a little thing?"

"He's afraid. He's waited so long. He thought you might be offended.

You see he's a regular tough underneath it all."

Something worried me.

"Why didn't he ask you to arrange a meeting?"

"He wants her to see his house," she explained. "And your house is right next door."

"Oh!"

"I think he half expected her to wander into one of his parties, some night," went on Jordan, "but she never did. Then he began asking people casually if they knew her, and I was the first one he found.

It was that night he sent for me at his dance, and you should have heard the elaborate way he worked up to it. Of course, I immediately suggested a luncheon in New York--and I thought he'd go mad:

" 'I don't want to do anything out of the way!' he kept saying. 'I want to see her right next door.'

"When I said you were a particular friend of Tom's he started to abandon the whole idea. He doesn't know very much about Tom, though he says he's read a Chicago paper for years just on the chance of catching a glimpse of Daisy's name."

It was dark now, and as we dipped under a little bridge I put my arm around Jordan's golden shoulder and drew her toward me and asked her to dinner. Suddenly I wasn't thinking of Daisy and Gatsby any more but of this clean, hard, limited person who dealt in universal skepticism and who leaned back jauntily just within the circle of my arm. 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."

"And Daisy ought to have something in her life," murmured Jordan to me.

"Does she want to see Gatsby?"

"She's not to know about it. Gatsby doesn't want her to know. You're just supposed to invite her to tea."

We passed a barrier of dark trees, and then the facade of Fifty-ninth Street, a block of delicate pale light, beamed down into the park.

Unlike Gatsby and Tom Buchanan I had no girl whose disembodied face floated along the dark cornices and blinding signs and so I drew up the girl beside me, tightening my arms. Her wan, scornful mouth smiled and so I drew her up again, closer, this time to my face.

星期天早晨,教堂的钟声响彻沿岸村镇的时候,时髦社会的男男女女又回到了盖茨比的别墅,在他的草坪上寻欢作乐。

“他是个私酒贩子,”那些少妇一边说,一边在他的鸡尾酒和他的好花之间的什么地方走动着,“有一回他杀了一个人,那人打听出他是兴登堡的侄子,魔鬼的表兄弟。递给我一朵玫瑰花,宝贝,再往那只水晶杯子里给我倒最后一滴酒。”

有一次我在一张火车时刻表上空白的地方写下了那年夏大到盖茨比别墅来过的人的名字。现在这已经是一张很旧的时刻表了,沿着折印快要散了,上面印着“本表一九二二年七月五日起生效”。但我还认得出那些暗淡的名字,它们可以给你一个比我的笼统概括更清楚的印象,那些人到盖茨比家里做客,却对他一无所知,仿佛这是对他所表示的一种微妙的敬意。

好吧,从东卵来的有切斯特·贝克夫妇、利契夫妇、一个我在耶鲁认识的姓本森的,还有去年夏天在缅因州淹死的韦伯斯特·西维特大夫。还有霍恩比姆夫妇、威利·伏尔泰夫妇以及布莱克巴克全家,他们总是聚集在一个角落里,不管谁走近,他们都会像山羊一样翘起鼻孔。还有伊十梅夫妇、克里斯蒂夫妇(更确切地说是休伯特·奥尔巴哈和克里斯蒂先生的老婆)和埃德加·比弗,据说有一个冬天的下午他的头发无缘无故地变得像雪一样白。

我记得,克拉伦斯·恩狄是从东卵来的。他只来过一次,穿着一条白灯笼裤,还在花园里跟一个姓艾蒂的二流子干了一架。从岛上更远的地人来的有开德勒夫妇、 O·R·P斯雷德夫妇、乔治亚州的斯通瓦尔·杰无逊·亚伯拉姆夫妇,还有菲希加德夫妇和平普利·斯奈尔夫妇。斯奈尔在他去坐牢的前三天还来过,喝得烂醉躺在石子车道上,结果尤里内斯·斯威特太太的汽车从他的右手上升了过去。丹赛夫妇也来了,还有年近七十的S·B·怀特贝特、莫理斯·A·弗林克、汉姆海德夫妇、烟草进口商贝路加以及贝路加的几个姑娘。

西卵来的有波尔夫妇、马尔雷德夫妇、塞西尔·罗伯克、塞西尔·肖用、州议员占利克,还有卓越影片公司的后台老板牛顿·奥基德、艾克豪斯特和克莱德·科恩、小唐·S·施沃兹以及阿瑟·麦加蒂,他们都是跟电影界有这样那样的关系的。还有卡特利普夫妇、班姆堡夫妇和G·厄尔·马尔东,就是后来勒死妻子的那个姓马尔东的人的兄弟。投机商达·冯坦诺也来这儿,还有爱德·莱格罗、詹姆斯·B· (译名是“坏酒”)菲来特、德·琼大妇和欧内斯特·利里——他们都是来赌钱的,每当菲来特逛进花园里去,那就意味着他输得精光,第二人联合运输公司的股票又得有利可图地涨落一番。

有一个姓克利普斯普林格的男人在那儿次数又多时间又长,后来人家就称他为 “房客”了——我怀疑他根本就没别的家。在戏剧界人上中,有葛斯·威兹、霍勒斯·奥多诺万、莱斯特·迈尔、乔治·德克维德和弗朗西斯·布尔。从纽约城里来的还有克罗姆夫妇、贝克海森夫妇、丹尼克夫妇、罗素·贝蒂、科里根夫妇、凯瑟赫夫妇、杜厄夫妇、斯科里夫妇、S·W·贝尔立夫妇、斯默克夫妇、现在离了婚的小奎因夫妇和亨利·L·帕默多,他后来在时报广场跳到一列地下火车前面自杀了。

本厄·麦克莱纳亨总是带着四个姑娘一同来。她们每次人都不同,可是全长得一模一样,因此看上去都好像是以前来过的。她们的名字我忘了——杰奎林,大概是,要不然就是康雪爱拉,或者格洛丽亚或者珠迪或者琼,她们的姓要么是音调悦耳的花名和月份的名字,要么是美国大资本家的庄严的姓氏,只要有人追问,她们就会承认自己是他们的远亲。

除了这许多人之外,我还记得福丝娣娜·奥布莱恩至少来过一次,还有贝达克家姐妹,还有小布鲁尔,就是在战争中鼻子被枪弹打掉的那个,还有阿尔布鲁克斯堡先生和他的夫婚妻海格小姐、阿迪泰·费兹彼得夫妇和一度当过美国退伍军人协会主席的卜朱厄特先生,还有克劳迪哑·希普小姐和一个被认为是她司机的男伴,还有一位某某亲王,我们管他叫公爵,即使我曾经知道他的名字,我也忘掉了。

所有这些人那年夏天都到盖茨比的别墅来过。

七月末一天早上九点钟,盖茨比的华丽汽车沿着岩石车道一路颠到我门口停下,它那三个音符的喇叭发出一阵悦耳的音调。这是他第一次来看我,虽然我已经赴过两次他的晚会,乘过他的水上飞机,而且在他热情邀请之下时常借用他的海滩。

“早啊,老兄。你今天要和我一同吃午饭,我想我们就同车进城吧。”

他站在他车子的挡泥板上,保持着身体的平衡,那种灵活的动作是美国人所特有的——我想这是由于年轻时候不干重活的缘故,更重要的是由于我们各种紧张剧烈的运动造成姿势自然而优美。这个特点不断地以坐立不安的形式突破他那拘谨的举止而流露出来。他一刻也不安静,总是有一只脚在什么地方轻轻拍着,要不然就是有一只手在不耐烦地一开一合。

他瞧出我用赞赏的目光看着他的汽车。

“这车子很漂亮,是不是,老兄?”他跳了下来,好让我看清楚一些,“你以前从来没看到过它吗?”

我看到过,大家都看到过。车子是瑰丽的奶油色的,镀镍的地方闪光耀眼,车身长得出奇,四处鼓出帽子盒、大饭盒和工具盒,琳琅满目,还有层层叠叠的挡风玻璃反映出十来个太阳的光辉。我们在温室似的绿皮车厢里许多层玻璃后面坐下,向城里进发。

过去一个月里,我大概跟他交谈过五六次。使我失望的是,我发现他没有多少话可说。因此我最初以为他是一位相当重要的人物的印象,已经渐渐消失,他只不过是隔壁一家豪华的郊外饭店的老板。

接着就发生了那次使我感到窘迫的同车之行。我们还没到西卵镇,盖茨比就开始把他文雅的句子说到一半就打住,同时犹疑不决地用手拍着他酱色酉装的膝盖。

“我说,老兄,”他出其不意地大声说,“你到底对我是怎么个看法?”

我有点不知所措,就开始说一些含糊其词的话来搪塞。

“得啦,我来给你讲讲我自己的身世吧,”他打断了我的话。“你听到这么多闲话,我不希望你从中得到一个对我的错误看法。”

原来他知道那些给他客厅里的谈话增添风趣的离奇的流言蜚语。

“上帝作证,我要跟你说老实话。”他的右手突然命令上天的惩罚做好准备。 “我是中西部一个有钱人家的儿子——家里人都死光了。我是在美国长大的,可是在牛津受的教育,因为我家祖祖辈辈都是在牛津受教育的。这是个家庭传统。”

他斜着眼朝我望望——我这才明白为什么乔丹·贝克曾认为他撒谎。他把“在牛津受的教育”这句话匆匆带了过去,或者含糊其词,或者半吞半吐,仿佛这句话以前就使他犯嘀咕。有了这个疑点,他的整个自述就站不住脚了,因此我猜疑他终究是有点什么不可告人之处。

“中西部什么地方?”我随便一问。

“旧金山。”

“哦,是这样。”

“我家里人都死光了,因此我继承了很多钱。”

他的声音很严肃,仿佛想起家族的突然消亡犹有余痛似的。有一会儿我怀疑他在捉弄我,但是看了他一眼后,我便相信不是那么回事。

“后来我就像一个年轻的东方王公那样到欧洲各国首都去当寓公——巴黎、威尼斯、罗马——收藏以红宝石为主的珠宝也好,打打狮子老虎也好,画点儿画也罢,不过是为了自己消遣,同时尽量想忘掉好久以前一件使我非常伤心的事。”

我好不容易才忍住不笑出来,因为他的话令人难以置信。他的措词本身那么陈腐,以致在我脑子里只能是这样的形象:一个裹着头巾的傀儡戏里的“角色”,在布龙公园追着打老虎,一面跑一面从身子里每个孔洞里往外漏木屑。

“后来就打仗了,老兄。这倒是莫大的宽慰,我千方百计地去找死,可是我的命好像有神仙保佑一样。战争开始的时候,我得到了中尉的军衔。在阿贡森林一役,我带领我两个机枪连的小分队一往直前,结果我们两边都有半英里的空地,步兵在那里无法推进。我们在那儿待了两天两夜,一百三十个人,十六挺刘易斯式机枪。后来等到步兵开上来,他们在堆积如山的尸体中发现了三个德国师的徽记。我被提升为少校,每一个同盟国政府都发给我一枚勋章——其中甚至包括门的内哥罗,亚德里亚海上的那个小小的门的内哥罗。”

小小的门的内哥罗!他仿佛把这几个字举了起来,冲着它们点头微笑。这一笑表示他了解门的内哥罗动乱的历史,并且同情门的内哥罗人民的英勇斗争。这一笑也表示他完全理解那个国家一系列的情况,正是这些情况使得门的内哥罗热情的小小的心发出了这个颂扬。我的怀疑此刻已化为惊奇。这好像是匆匆忙忙翻阅十几本杂志一样。

他伸手到口袋里去掏,随即一块系在一条缎带上的金属片落进我的手掌心。

“这就是门的内哥罗的那一个。”

使我吃惊的是,这玩意看上去是真的。“丹尼罗勋章”,上面的一圈铭义写道: “门的内哥罗国王尼占拉斯”。

“翻过来。”

“杰伊·盖茨比少校,”我念道,“英勇过人”

“这儿还有一件我随身带的东西,牛津时朗的纪念品,是在三一学院校园里照的——我左边那个人现在是唐卡斯特伯爵。”

这是一张五六个年轻人的相片,身上穿着运动上衣,在一条拱廊下闸站着,背后可以看见许许多多塔尖,其中有盖茨比,比现在显得年轻点,但也年轻不了多少——手里拿着一根板球棒。

这样看来他说的都是真的啦。我仿佛看见一张张五色斑调的老虎皮挂在他在大运河上的宫殿甲,我仿佛看见他打开一箱红宝石,借它们浓艳的红光来减轻他那颗破碎的心的痛苦。

“我今天有件大事要请你帮忙,”他说,一面很满意地把他的纪念品放进口袋里。“因此我觉得你应当了解我的情况。我不希望你认为我只是一个不三不用的人。要知道,我往往和陌生人交往,因为我东飘西荡,尽量想忘掉那件伤心事。”他犹疑了一下,“这件事今天下午你就可以听到。”

“吃午饭的时候?”

“不,今天下午。我碰巧打听到你约了贝克小姐喝茶。”

“你是说你爱上了贝克小姐吗?”

“不是,老兄,我没有。可是承蒙贝克小姐同意,让我跟你谈这件事。”

我一点儿也不知道“这件事”是指什么,但是我兴趣不大,倒觉得厌烦。我请贝克小姐喝茶,并不是为了谈论杰伊·盖茨比先生。我敢胄定他要求的一定是什么异想天开的事,有一会儿工夫我真后悔当初不该踏上他那客人过多的草坪。

他一句话也不说了。我们离城越近他也越发(矛今)持。我们经过罗斯福港,瞥见船身有一圈红漆的远洋轮船,又沿着一条贫民区的石子路疾驰而过,路两旁排列着二十世纪初褪色的镀金时代的那些还有人光顾的阴暗酒吧。接着,灰烬之谷在我们两边伸展出去,我从车上瞥见威尔逊太太浑身是劲地在加油机旁喘着气替人加油。

汽车的挡泥板像翅膀一样张开。我们一路给半个阿斯托里亚带来了光明— —只是半个,因为正当我们在高架铁路的支柱中问绕来绕去的时候,我听到了一辆机器脚踏车熟悉的“嘟——嘟——劈啪”的响声,随即看到一名气急败坏的警察在我们车旁行驶。

“好了,老兄。”盖茨比喊道。我们放慢了速度。盖茨比从他的皮夹里掏出一张白色卡片,在警察的眼前晃了一下。

“行了,您哪,”警察满口应承,并且轻轻碰一碰帽檐,“下次就认识您啦,盖茨比先生。请原谅我!”

“那是什么?”我问道,“那张牛津的相片吗?”

“我给警察局长帮过一次忙,因此他每年部给我寄一张圣诞贺卡。”

在人桥上,阳光从钢架中间透过来在川流不息的车辆上闪闪发光,河对岸城里的楼高耸在眼前,像一堆一堆白糖块一样,尽是出于好心花了没有铜臭的钱盖起来的。从皇后区大桥看去,这座城市永远好像是初次看见一样,那样引人入胜,充满了世界上所有的神秘和瑰丽。

一辆装着死人的灵车从我们身旁经过,车上堆满了鲜花,后面跟着两辆马车,遮帘拉上了的,还有儿辆比较轻松的马车载着亲友,这些亲友从车子里向我们张望,从他们忧伤的眼睛和短短的上唇可以看出他们是尔南欧那一带的人。我很高兴在他们凄惨的出丧车队中还能看到盖茨比豪华的汽车。我们的车子从桥上过布莱克威尔岛的时候。一辆大型轿车超越了我们的车子,司机是个白人,车子里坐着三个时髦的黑人,两男一女。他们冲着我们翻翻白眼,一副傲慢争先的神气,我看了忍不住放声大笑。

“我们现在一过这座桥,什么事都可能发生了,”我心里想,“无论什么事都会有……”

因此,连盖茨比这种人物也是会出现的,这用不着大惊小怪。

炎热的中午。在四十二号街一家电扇大开的地下餐厅里,我跟盖茨比碰头一起吃午饭。我先眨眨眼驱散外面马路上的亮光,然后才在休息室里模模糊糊认出了他,他正在跟一个人说话。

“卡罗威先生,这是我的朋友沃尔夫山姆先生。”

一个矮小的塌鼻子的犹太人抬起了他的大脑袋来打量我,他的鼻孔里面长着两撮很浓的毛。过了一会儿我才在半明半暗的光线中发现了他的两只小眼睛。

“……于是我瞥了他一眼,”沃尔夫山姆先生一面说下去一面很热切地和我握手,“然后,你猜猜我干了什么事?”

“什么事?”我有礼貌地问道。

显然他并不是在跟我讲话,因为他放下了我的手,把他那只富于表现力的鼻子对准了盖茨比。

“我把那笔钱交给凯兹保,同时我对他说:‘就这样吧,凯兹保,你要是不住嘴,一分钱也不给你。’他立刻就住了嘴。”

盖茨比拉住我们每人一只胳臂,向前走进餐厅,于是沃尔夫山姆先生把他刚开始说的一句话咽了下去,露出了如梦似痴的神态。

“要姜汁威士忌吗?”服务员领班问道。

“这儿的这家馆子不错,”沃尔夫山姆先生抬头望着天花板上的长老会美女说, “但是我更喜欢马路对面那家。”

“好的,来几杯姜汁威士忌,”盖茨比同意,然后对沃尔夫山姆先生说,“那边太热了。”

“又热又小——不错,”沃尔夫山姆先生说,“可是充满了回忆。”

“那是哪一家馆子?”我问。

“老大都会。”

“老大都会,”沃尔夫山姆先生闷闷不乐地回忆道,“那里聚集过多少早已消逝的面容,聚集过多少如今已经不在人间的朋友。我只要活着就不会忘记他们开枪打死罗西·罗森塔尔的那个晚上。我们一桌六个人,罗西一夜大吃大喝。快到天亮的时候,服务员带着一种尴尬的表情来到他跟前说有个人请他到外面去讲话。‘好吧。’罗西说,马上就要站起来,我把他一把拉回到椅子上。

“那些杂种要找你,让他们进来好了,罗西,但你可千万千万不要离开这间屋子。”

“那时候已经是清早四点,要是我们掀起窗帘,我们会看见天已经亮了。”

“他去了吗?”我天真地问。

“他当然去了。”沃尔夫山姆先生的鼻子气呼呼地向我一掀。“他走到门口还回过头来说:‘别让那个服务员把我的咖啡收掉!’说完他就走到外面人行道上,他们向他吃得饱饱的肚皮放了三枪,然后开车跑掉了。”

“其中四个人坐了电椅。”我想了起来就说道。

“五个,连贝克在内。”他鼻孔转向我,带着对我感兴趣的神情,“我听说你在找一个做生意的关系。”

这两句话连在一起使人听了震惊。盖茨比替我回答:

“啊,不是,”他大声说,“这不是那个人。”

“不是吗?”沃尔夫山姆先生似乎很失望。

“这只是一位朋友。我告诉过你我们改天再谈那件事嘛。”

“对不起,”沃尔夫山姆先生说,“我弄错了人。”

一盘鲜美的肉了烤菜端了上来,于是沃尔夫山姆先生就忘掉了老大都会的温情得多的气氛,开始斯斯文文地大吃起来。同时他的两眼很慢地转动着,把整个餐厅巡视一遍。他又转过身来打量紧坐在我们背后的客人,从而完成了整个弧圈。我想,要不是有我在座,他准会连我们自己桌子底下也去瞧一眼的。

“我说,老兄,”盖茨比伸过头来跟我说,“今天早上在车子里我恐怕惹你生气了吧?”

他脸上又出现了那种笑容,可是这次我无动于衷。

“我不喜欢神秘的玩意儿,”我答道,“我也不明白你为什么不肯坦率地讲出来,让我知道你要什么。为什么一定全要通过贝克小姐?”

“噢,决不是什么鬼鬼祟祟的事情,”他向我保证,“你也知道,贝克小姐是一位大运动家,她决不会做什么不正当的事。”

忽然间他看了看表,跳了起来,匆匆离开餐厅,把我跟沃尔夫山姆先生留在桌子上。

“他得去打电话,”沃尔夫山姆先生说,一面目送他出去,“好人,是不是?一表人才,而且人品极好。”

“是的。”

“他是牛劲出身的。”

“哦!”

“他上过英国的牛劲大学。你知道牛劲大学吗?”

“我听说过。”

“它是全世界最有名的大学之一。”

“你认以盖茨比很久了吗?”我问道。

“好几年了,”他心满意足地答道,“刚打完仗之后一个偶然机会让我认识了了他。可是我跟他才谈了一个钟头就讪道我发现了一个非常有教养人。我就对自己说:‘这就是你愿意带回家介绍你母系和妹妹认识的那种人。’”他停了下来,说道:“我知道你在看我的袖扣。”

我本来并没有看,可是现在倒看了。它们是用几片小象牙制作的,看着眼熟得奇怪。

“用精选的真人臼齿做的。”他告诉我。

“真的!”我仔细看看,“这倒是个很妙的主意。”

“不错。”他把衬衣袖口缩回到上衣下面去,“不错,盖茨比在女人方面非常规矩。朋友的太太他连看也不看。”

这个受到本能的信赖的对象又回到桌边坐卜的时候,沃尔大山姆先生一口把他的咖啡喝掉,然后站起身来。

“我中饭吃得很高兴,”他说,“现在我要扔下你们两个年轻人走了,免得你们嫌我不知趣。”

“别忙,迈尔。”盖茨比说,一点也不热情。沃尔大山姆光生像祝福似地举起了手。

“你们很有礼貌,不过我是老一辈的人了,”他严肃地说,“你们在这里坐坐,谈谈体育,谈谈你们的年轻女人,谈谈你们的……”他又把手一挥,以代替一个幻想的名词,“至于我哩,我已经五十岁了,我也就不再打搅你们了。”

他跟我们握握手,掉转身去,他那忧伤的鼻子又在颤动。我不知是否我说了什么话得罪了他。

“他有时会变得很伤感,”盖茨比解释道,“今天又是他伤感的日子。他在纽约是个人物——百老汇的地头蛇。”

“他到底是什么人?是演员吗?”

“不是。

“牙科医生?”

“迈尔·沃尔夫山姆?不是,他是个赌棍。”盖茨比犹疑了一下,然后若无其事地补充道,“他就是一九一九年那年非法操纵世界棒球联赛的那个人。”

“非法操纵纵世界棒球联赛?”我重复一遍。

居然有这种事,我听了发愣。我当然记得世界棒球联赛在一九一九年被人非法操纵,可是即使我想到过这种事,我也会以为那只不过是一件发生了的事情,是一连串必然事件的后果。我从来没料到一个人可以愚弄五千万人,就像一个撬开保险箱的贼那样专心致志。

“他怎么会干那个的?”我过了一分钟才问道。

“他只不过是看中了机会,”

“他怎么没坐牢呢?”

“他们逮不住他,老兄。他是个非常精明的人。”

我抢着付了账。服务员把找的钱送来时,我看到了汤姆·布坎农在拥挤的餐厅的那一边。

“跟我来一下,”我说,“我得同一个人打个招呼。”

汤姆一看见我们就跳了起来,朝我们的方向迈了五六步。

“你这一阵去哪儿了?”他急切地问道,“黛西气死了,因为你不打电话来。”

“这位是盖茨比先生,布坎农先生。”

他们随便握了握手,盖茨比脸上忽然流露出一种不自然的、不常见的窘迫表情。

“你近来到底怎么样?”汤姆问我,“你怎么会跑这么远到这儿来吃饭?”

“我是和盖茨比先生一道来吃午饭的。”

我转身去看盖茨比先生,但他已经不在那儿了。

一九一七年十月里有一天——

(那天下午乔丹·贝克说,当时她挺直地坐在广场饭店茶室里一张挺直的椅子上。)

——我正在从一个地方向另一个地方走去,一半走在人行道上,一半走在草坪上。我更喜欢走草坪,因为我穿了一双英国鞋,鞋底有会在软绵绵的地面留下印痕的橡皮疙瘩。我还穿了一条新的能随风微微扬起的方格呢裙子,每当裙子随风扬起来,所有人家门前的红、白、蓝三色旗就都挺得笔直,并且发出“啧——啧——啧 ——啧”的声音,好像很不以为然似的。

几面最大的旗子和几片最人的草坪都是属于黛西·费伊家的。她刚刚十八岁,比我大两岁,是路易斯维尔所有小姐中最出风头的一个。她穿的是白衣服,开的是一辆白色小跑车,她家电话一天到晚响个不停,泰勒营那些兴奋的青年军官一个个都要求那天晚上独占她的全部时间。“至少,给一个钟头吧!”

那天早上我从她家门口对面路过时,她的白色跑车停在路边,她跟一位我以前从未见过的中尉同坐在车上。他们俩彼此全神贯注,一直到我走到五步之内她才看见我。

“哈罗,乔丹,”她出其不意地喊道,“请你过来。”

她要跟我说话,我觉得很光彩,因为在所有年纪比我大的女孩当中,我最崇拜的就是她。她问我是否到红十字会去做绷带。我说是的。那么,可否请我告诉他们说这天她不能来了?黛西说话的时候,那位军官盯住她看,每一个姑娘都巴望人家有时会用这种神态来看自己。因为我觉得那非常浪漫,所以我后来一直记得这个情节。他的名字叫杰伊·盖茨比,从那以后一隔四年多,我一直没再见过他——就连我在长岛遇到他以后,我也不知道原来就是同一个人。

那是一九一七年。到了第二年,我自己也有了几个男朋友,同时我开始参加比赛,因此我就不常见到黛西。她来往的是一帮比我年纪稍大一点的朋友——如果她还跟任何人来往的话。关于她的荒唐谣言到处传播——说什么有一个冬天夜晚她母亲发现她在收抬行装,准备到纽约去跟一个正要到海外去的军人告别。家里人有效地阻止了她,可是事后她有好几个星期不跟家里人讲话。从那以后她就不再跟军人一起玩了,只跟城里几个根本不能参军的平脚近视的青年人来往。

等到第二年秋天,她又活跃起来,和以前一样活跃。停战以后她参加了一次初进社交界的舞会,据说二月里她跟新奥尔良市来的一个人订了婚。六月里她就跟芝加哥的汤姆·布坎农结了婚,婚礼之隆重豪华是路易斯维尔前所未闻的。他和一百位客人乘了四节包车一同南来,在莫尔巴赫饭店租了整个一层楼,在婚礼的前一天他送了她一串估计值三十五万美元的珍珠。

我是伴娘之一。在举行婚礼前夕送别新娘的宴会之前半个小时,我走进她的屋子,发现她躺在床上,穿着绣花的衣裳,像那个六月的夜晚一样地美,像猴子一样喝得烂醉。她一手拿着一瓶白葡萄酒,一手捏着一封信。

“恭……喜我,”她含混不清地咕哝着说,“从来没喝过酒,啊,今天喝得可真痛快。”

“怎么回事,黛西?”

我吓坏了。真的,我从来没见过一个女孩子醉成这副模样。

“喏,心肝宝贝。”她在拿到床上的字纸篓里乱摸了一会,掏出了那串珍珠, “把这个拿下楼去,是谁的东西就还给谁。告诉大家,黛西改变主意了。就说‘黛西改变主意了!’”

她哭了起来——她哭了又哭。我跑出去,找到她母亲的贴身女佣人,然后我们锁上了门,让她洗个冷水澡。她死死捏住那封信不放。她把信带到澡盆里去,捏成湿淋淋的一团,直到她看见它碎得像雪花一样,才让我拿过去放在肥皂碟里。

可是她一句话也没有再说。我们让她问阿摩尼亚精,把冰放在她脑门上,然后又替她把衣裳穿好。半小时后我们走出房间,那串珍珠套在她脖子上,这场风波就过去了。第二天下午五点钟,她没事儿似的跟汤姆·布坎农结了婚,然后动身到南太平洋去做三个月的旅行。

他们回来以后,我在圣巴巴拉见到了他们,我觉得我从来没见过一个女孩那么迷恋丈夫的。如果他离开屋子一会儿工夫,她就会惴惴不安地四下张望,嘴里说:“汤姆上哪儿去啦?”同时脸上显出一副神情恍惚的样子,直到她看见他从门口走进来。她往往坐在沙滩上,一坐个把钟头,让他把头搁在她膝盖上,一面用手指轻轻按摩他的眼睛,一而无限欣喜地看着他。看着他们俩在一起那种情景真使你感动——使你人迷,使你莞尔而笑。那是八月里的事。我离开圣巴巴拉一个星期以后,汤姆一天夜晚在凡图拉公路上与一辆货车相撞,把他车上的前轮撞掉了一只。跟他同车的姑娘也上了报,因为她的胳膊撞断了——她是圣巴巴拉饭店里的一个收拾房间的女佣人。

第二年四月黛西生了她那个小女儿,随后他们到法国去待了一年。有一个春天我在戛纳见到他们,后来又在多维尔见过,再后来他们就回芝加哥定居了。黛西在芝加哥很出风头,这是你知道的。他们和一帮花天酒地的人来往,个个都是又年轻又有钱又放荡的,但是她的名声却始终清清白白。也许因为她不喝酒的缘故。在爱喝酒的人中间而自己不喝酒,那是很占便宜的。你可以守口如瓶,而且,你可以为你自己的小动作选择时机,等到别人都喝得烂醉要么看不见要么不理会的时候再搞。也许黛西从来不爱搞什么桃色事件——然而她那声音里却有点儿什么异样的地方……

后来,大约六个星期以前,她多年来第一次听到了盖茨比这个名宇。就是那次我问你——你还记得吗——你认识不认识西卵的盖茨比你回家之后,她到我屋里来把我推醒,问我:“哪个姓盖茨比的?”我把他形容了一番——我半睡半醒——她用最古怪的声音说那一定是她过去认识的那个人。直到那时我才把这个盖茨比跟当年坐在她白色跑车里的那个军官联系起来。

等到乔丹·贝克把上面这些都讲完,我们离开了广场饭店已经有半个钟头,两人乘着一辆敞篷马车穿过中央公园。太阳已经落在西城五十几号街那一带电影明星们居住的公寓大楼后面,这时儿童像草地上的蟋蟀一样聚在一起,他们清脆的声音在闷热的黄昏中歌唱:我是阿拉伯的首长,你的爱情在我心上。今夜当你睡意正浓,我将爬进你的帐篷——

“真是奇怪的巧合。”我说。

“但这根本不是什么巧合。”

“为什么不是?”



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