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Chapter 8

I couldn't sleep all night; a fog-horn was groaning incessantly on the Sound, and I tossed half-sick between grotesque reality and savage frightening dreams. Toward dawn I heard a taxi go up Gatsby's drive and immediately I jumped out of bed and began to dress--I felt that I had something to tell him, something to warn him about and morning would be too late.

Crossing his lawn I saw that his front door was still open and he was leaning against a table in the hall, heavy with dejection or sleep.

"Nothing happened," he said wanly. "I waited, and about four o'clock she came to the window and stood there for a minute and then turned out the light."

His house had never seemed so enormous to me as it did that night when we hunted through the great rooms for cigarettes. We pushed aside curtains that were like pavilions and felt over innumerable feet of dark wall for electric light switches--once I tumbled with a sort of splash upon the keys of a ghostly piano. There was an inexplicable amount of dust everywhere and the rooms were musty as though they hadn't been aired for many days. I found the humidor on an unfamiliar table with two stale dry cigarettes inside. Throwing open the French windows of the drawing-room we sat smoking out into the darkness.

"You ought to go away," I said. "It's pretty certain they'll trace your car."

"Go away NOW, old sport?"

"Go to Atlantic City for a week, or up to Montreal."

He wouldn't consider it. He couldn't possibly leave Daisy until he knew what she was going to do. He was clutching at some last hope and I couldn't bear to shake him free.

It was this night that he told me the strange story of his youth with Dan Cody--told it to me because "Jay Gatsby" had broken up like glass against Tom's hard malice and the long secret extravaganza was played out. I think that he would have acknowledged anything, now, without reserve, but he wanted to talk about Daisy.

She was the first "nice" girl he had ever known. In various unrevealed capacities he had come in contact with such people but always with indiscernible barbed wire between. He found her excitingly desirable. He went to her house, at first with other officers from Camp Taylor, then alone. It amazed him--he had never been in such a beautiful house before. But what gave it an air of breathless intensity was that Daisy lived there--it was as casual a thing to her as his tent out at camp was to him. There was a ripe mystery about it, a hint of bedrooms upstairs more beautiful and cool than other bedrooms, of gay and radiant activities taking place through its corridors and of romances that were not musty and laid away already in lavender but fresh and breathing and redolent of this year's shining motor cars and of dances whose flowers were scarcely withered. It excited him too that many men had already loved Daisy--it increased her value in his eyes. He felt their presence all about the house, pervading the air with the shades and echoes of still vibrant emotions.

But he knew that he was in Daisy's house by a colossal accident.

However glorious might be his future as Jay Gatsby, he was at present a penniless young man without a past, and at any moment the invisible cloak of his uniform might slip from his shoulders. So he made the most of his time. He took what he could get, ravenously and unscrupulously--eventually he took Daisy one still October night, took her because he had no real right to touch her hand.

He might have despised himself, for he had certainly taken her under false pretenses. I don't mean that he had traded on his phantom millions, but he had deliberately given Daisy a sense of security; he let her believe that he was a person from much the same stratum as herself--that he was fully able to take care of her. As a matter of fact he had no such facilities--he had no comfortable family standing behind him and he was liable at the whim of an impersonal government to be blown anywhere about the world.

But he didn't despise himself and it didn't turn out as he had imagined. He had intended, probably, to take what he could and go--but now he found that he had committed himself to the following of a grail.

He knew that Daisy was extraordinary but he didn't realize just how extraordinary a "nice" girl could be. She vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby--nothing. He felt married to her, that was all.

When they met again two days later it was Gatsby who was breathless, who was somehow betrayed. Her porch was bright with the bought luxury of star-shine; the wicker of the settee squeaked fashionably as she turned toward him and he kissed her curious and lovely mouth.

She had caught a cold and it made her voice huskier and more charming than ever and Gatsby was overwhelmingly aware of the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves, of the freshness of many clothes and of Daisy, gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor.

"I can't describe to you how surprised I was to find out I loved her, old sport. I even hoped for a while that she'd throw me over, but she didn't, because she was in love with me too. She thought I knew a lot because I knew different things from her.... Well, there I was, way off my ambitions, getting deeper in love every minute, and all of a sudden I didn't care. What was the use of doing great things if I could have a better time telling her what I was going to do?"

On the last afternoon before he went abroad he sat with Daisy in his arms for a long, silent time. It was a cold fall day with fire in the room and her cheeks flushed. Now and then she moved and he changed his arm a little and once he kissed her dark shining hair. The afternoon had made them tranquil for a while as if to give them a deep memory for the long parting the next day promised. They had never been closer in their month of love nor communicated more profoundly one with another than when she brushed silent lips against his coat's shoulder or when he touched the end of her fingers, gently, as though she were asleep.

He did extraordinarily well in the war. He was a captain before he went to the front and following the Argonne battles he got his majority and the command of the divisional machine guns. After the Armistice he tried frantically to get home but some complication or misunderstanding sent him to Oxford instead. He was worried now--there was a quality of nervous despair in Daisy's letters. She didn't see why he couldn't come. She was feeling the pressure of the world outside and she wanted to see him and feel his presence beside her and be reassured that she was doing the right thing after all.

For Daisy was young and her artificial world was redolent of orchids and pleasant, cheerful snobbery and orchestras which set the rhythm of the year, summing up the sadness and suggestiveness of life in new tunes. All night the saxophones wailed the hopeless comment of the "Beale Street Blues" while a hundred pairs of golden and silver slippers shuffled the shining dust. At the grey tea hour there were always rooms that throbbed incessantly with this low sweet fever, while fresh faces drifted here and there like rose petals blown by the sad horns around the floor.

Through this twilight universe Daisy began to move again with the season; suddenly she was again keeping half a dozen dates a day with half a dozen men and drowsing asleep at dawn with the beads and chiffon of an evening dress tangled among dying orchids on the floor beside her bed. And all the time something within her was crying for a decision. She wanted her life shaped now, immediately--and the decision must be made by some force--of love, of money, of unquestionable practicality--that was close at hand.

That force took shape in the middle of spring with the arrival of Tom Buchanan. There was a wholesome bulkiness about his person and his position and Daisy was flattered. Doubtless there was a certain struggle and a certain relief. The letter reached Gatsby while he was still at Oxford.

It was dawn now on Long Island and we went about opening the rest of the windows downstairs, filling the house with grey turning, gold turning light. The shadow of a tree fell abruptly across the dew and ghostly birds began to sing among the blue leaves. There was a slow pleasant movement in the air, scarcely a wind, promising a cool lovely day.

"I don't think she ever loved him." Gatsby turned around from a window and looked at me challengingly. "You must remember, old sport, she was very excited this afternoon. He told her those things in a way that frightened her--that made it look as if I was some kind of cheap sharper.

And the result was she hardly knew what she was saying."

He sat down gloomily.

"Of course she might have loved him, just for a minute, when they were first married--and loved me more even then, do you see?"

Suddenly he came out with a curious remark:

"In any case," he said, "it was just personal."

What could you make of that, except to suspect some intensity in his conception of the affair that couldn't be measured?

He came back from France when Tom and Daisy were still on their wedding trip, and made a miserable but irresistible journey to Louisville on the last of his army pay. He stayed there a week, walking the streets where their footsteps had clicked together through the November night and revisiting the out-of-the-way places to which they had driven in her white car. Just as Daisy's house had always seemed to him more mysterious and gay than other houses so his idea of the city itself, even though she was gone from it, was pervaded with a melancholy beauty.

He left feeling that if he had searched harder he might have found her--that he was leaving her behind. The day-coach--he was penniless now--was hot. He went out to the open vestibule and sat down on a folding-chair, and the station slid away and the backs of unfamiliar buildings moved by. Then out into the spring fields, where a yellow trolley raced them for a minute with people in it who might once have seen the pale magic of her face along the casual street.

The track curved and now it was going away from the sun which, as it sank lower, seemed to spread itself in benediction over the vanishing city where she had drawn her breath. He stretched out his hand desperately as if to snatch only a wisp of air, to save a fragment of the spot that she had made lovely for him. But it was all going by too fast now for his blurred eyes and he knew that he had lost that part of it, the freshest and the best, forever.

It was nine o'clock when we finished breakfast and went out on the porch. The night had made a sharp difference in the weather and there was an autumn flavor in the air. The gardener, the last one of Gatsby's former servants, came to the foot of the steps.

"I'm going to drain the pool today, Mr. Gatsby. Leaves'll start falling pretty soon and then there's always trouble with the pipes."

"Don't do it today," Gatsby answered. He turned to me apologetically.

"You know, old sport, I've never used that pool all summer?"

I looked at my watch and stood up.

"Twelve minutes to my train."

I didn't want to go to the city. I wasn't worth a decent stroke of work but it was more than that--I didn't want to leave Gatsby. I missed that train, and then another, before I could get myself away.

"I'll call you up," I said finally.

"Do, old sport."

"I'll call you about noon."

We walked slowly down the steps.

"I suppose Daisy'll call too." He looked at me anxiously as if he hoped I'd corroborate this.

"I suppose so."

"Well--goodbye."

We shook hands and I started away. Just before I reached the hedge I remembered something and turned around.

"They're a rotten crowd," I shouted across the lawn. "You're worth the whole damn bunch put together."

I've always been glad I said that. It was the only compliment I ever gave him, because I disapproved of him from beginning to end. First he nodded politely, and then his face broke into that radiant and understanding smile, as if we'd been in ecstatic cahoots on that fact all the time.

His gorgeous pink rag of a suit made a bright spot of color against the white steps and I thought of the night when I first came to his ancestral home three months before. The lawn and drive had been crowded with the faces of those who guessed at his corruption--and he had stood on those steps, concealing his incorruptible dream, as he waved them goodbye.

I thanked him for his hospitality. We were always thanking him for that--I and the others.

"Goodbye," I called. "I enjoyed breakfast, Gatsby."

Up in the city I tried for a while to list the quotations on an interminable amount of stock, then I fell asleep in my swivel-chair.

Just before noon the phone woke me and I started up with sweat breaking out on my forehead. It was Jordan Baker; she often called me up at this hour because the uncertainty of her own movements between hotels and clubs and private houses made her hard to find in any other way. Usually her voice came over the wire as something fresh and cool as if a divot from a green golf links had come sailing in at the office window but this morning it seemed harsh and dry.

"I've left Daisy's house," she said. "I'm at Hempstead and I'm going down to Southampton this afternoon."

Probably it had been tactful to leave Daisy's house, but the act annoyed me and her next remark made me rigid.

"You weren't so nice to me last night."

"How could it have mattered then?"

Silence for a moment. Then--

"However--I want to see you."

"I want to see you too."

"Suppose I don't go to Southampton, and come into town this afternoon?"

"No--I don't think this afternoon."

"Very well."

"It's impossible this afternoon. Various----"

We talked like that for a while and then abruptly we weren't talking any longer. I don't know which of us hung up with a sharp click but I know I didn't care. I couldn't have talked to her across a tea-table that day if I never talked to her again in this world.

I called Gatsby's house a few minutes later, but the line was busy. I tried four times; finally an exasperated central told me the wire was being kept open for long distance from Detroit. Taking out my time-table I drew a small circle around the three-fifty train. Then I leaned back in my chair and tried to think. It was just noon.

When I passed the ashheaps on the train that morning I had crossed deliberately to the other side of the car. I suppose there'd be a curious crowd around there all day with little boys searching for dark spots in the dust and some garrulous man telling over and over what had happened until it became less and less real even to him and he could tell it no longer and Myrtle Wilson's tragic achievement was forgotten. Now I want to go back a little and tell what happened at the garage after we left there the night before.

They had difficulty in locating the sister, Catherine. She must have broken her rule against drinking that night for when she arrived she was stupid with liquor and unable to understand that the ambulance had already gone to Flushing. When they convinced her of this she immediately fainted as if that was the intolerable part of the affair. Someone kind or curious took her in his car and drove her in the wake of her sister's body.

Until long after midnight a changing crowd lapped up against the front of the garage while George Wilson rocked himself back and forth on the couch inside. For a while the door of the office was open and everyone who came into the garage glanced irresistibly through it.

Finally someone said it was a shame and closed the door. Michaelis and several other men were with him--first four or five men, later two or three men. Still later Michaelis had to ask the last stranger to wait there fifteen minutes longer while he went back to his own place and made a pot of coffee. After that he stayed there alone with Wilson until dawn.

About three o'clock the quality of Wilson's incoherent muttering changed--he grew quieter and began to talk about the yellow car. He announced that he had a way of finding out whom the yellow car belonged to, and then he blurted out that a couple of months ago his wife had come from the city with her face bruised and her nose swollen.

But when he heard himself say this, he flinched and began to cry "Oh, my God!" again in his groaning voice. Michaelis made a clumsy attempt to distract him.

"How long have you been married, George? Come on there, try and sit still a minute and answer my question. How long have you been married?"

"Twelve years."

"Ever had any children? Come on, George, sit still--I asked you a question. Did you ever have any children?"

The hard brown beetles kept thudding against the dull light and whenever Michaelis heard a car go tearing along the road outside it sounded to him like the car that hadn't stopped a few hours before. He didn't like to go into the garage because the work bench was stained where the body had been lying so he moved uncomfortably around the office--he knew every object in it before morning--and from time to time sat down beside Wilson trying to keep him more quiet.

"Have you got a church you go to sometimes, George? Maybe even if you haven't been there for a long time? Maybe I could call up the church and get a priest to come over and he could talk to you, see?"

"Don't belong to any."

"You ought to have a church, George, for times like this. You must have gone to church once. Didn't you get married in a church? Listen, George, listen to me. Didn't you get married in a church?"

"That was a long time ago."

The effort of answering broke the rhythm of his rocking--for a moment he was silent. Then the same half knowing, half bewildered look came back into his faded eyes.

"Look in the drawer there," he said, pointing at the desk.

"Which drawer?"

"That drawer--that one."

Michaelis opened the drawer nearest his hand. There was nothing in it but a small expensive dog leash made of leather and braided silver. It was apparently new.

"This?" he inquired, holding it up.

Wilson stared and nodded.

"I found it yesterday afternoon. She tried to tell me about it but I knew it was something funny."

"You mean your wife bought it?"

"She had it wrapped in tissue paper on her bureau."

Michaelis didn't see anything odd in that and he gave Wilson a dozen reasons why his wife might have bought the dog leash. But conceivably Wilson had heard some of these same explanations before, from Myrtle, because he began saying "Oh, my God!" again in a whisper--his comforter left several explanations in the air.

"Then he killed her," said Wilson. His mouth dropped open suddenly.

"Who did?"

"I have a way of finding out."

"You're morbid, George," said his friend. "This has been a strain to you and you don't know what you're saying. You'd better try and sit quiet till morning."

"He murdered her."

"It was an accident, George."

Wilson shook his head. His eyes narrowed and his mouth widened slightly with the ghost of a superior "Hm!"

"I know," he said definitely, "I'm one of these trusting fellas and I don't think any harm to NObody, but when I get to know a thing I know it. It was the man in that car. She ran out to speak to him and he wouldn't stop."

Michaelis had seen this too but it hadn't occurred to him that there was any special significance in it. He believed that Mrs. Wilson had been running away from her husband, rather than trying to stop any particular car.

"How could she of been like that?"

"She's a deep one," said Wilson, as if that answered the question.

"Ah-h-h----"

He began to rock again and Michaelis stood twisting the leash in his hand.

"Maybe you got some friend that I could telephone for, George?"

This was a forlorn hope--he was almost sure that Wilson had no friend: there was not enough of him for his wife. He was glad a little later when he noticed a change in the room, a blue quickening by the window, and realized that dawn wasn't far off. About five o'clock it was blue enough outside to snap off the light.

Wilson's glazed eyes turned out to the ashheaps, where small grey clouds took on fantastic shape and scurried here and there in the faint dawn wind.

"I spoke to her," he muttered, after a long silence. "I told her she might fool me but she couldn't fool God. I took her to the window--" With an effort he got up and walked to the rear window and leaned with his face pressed against it, "--and I said 'God knows what you've been doing, everything you've been doing. You may fool me but you can't fool God!' "

Standing behind him Michaelis saw with a shock that he was looking at the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg which had just emerged pale and enormous from the dissolving night.

"God sees everything," repeated Wilson.

"That's an advertisement," Michaelis assured him. Something made him turn away from the window and look back into the room. But Wilson stood there a long time, his face close to the window pane, nodding into the twilight.

By six o'clock Michaelis was worn out and grateful for the sound of a car stopping outside. It was one of the watchers of the night before who had promised to come back so he cooked breakfast for three which he and the other man ate together. Wilson was quieter now and Michaelis went home to sleep; when he awoke four hours later and hurried back to the garage Wilson was gone.

His movements--he was on foot all the time--were afterward traced to Port Roosevelt and then to Gad's Hill where he bought a sandwich that he didn't eat and a cup of coffee. He must have been tired and walking slowly for he didn't reach Gad's Hill until noon. Thus far there was no difficulty in accounting for his time--there were boys who had seen a man "acting sort of crazy" and motorists at whom he stared oddly from the side of the road. Then for three hours he disappeared from view.

The police, on the strength of what he said to Michaelis, that he "had a way of finding out," supposed that he spent that time going from garage to garage thereabouts inquiring for a yellow car. On the other hand no garage man who had seen him ever came forward--and perhaps he had an easier, surer way of finding out what he wanted to know. By half past two he was in West Egg where he asked someone the way to Gatsby's house. So by that time he knew Gatsby's name.

At two o'clock Gatsby put on his bathing suit and left word with the butler that if any one phoned word was to be brought to him at the pool. He stopped at the garage for a pneumatic mattress that had amused his guests during the summer, and the chauffeur helped him pump it up.

Then he gave instructions that the open car wasn't to be taken out under any circumstances--and this was strange because the front right fender needed repair.

Gatsby shouldered the mattress and started for the pool. Once he stopped and shifted it a little, and the chauffeur asked him if he needed help, but he shook his head and in a moment disappeared among the yellowing trees.

No telephone message arrived but the butler went without his sleep and waited for it until four o'clock--until long after there was any one to give it to if it came. I have an idea that Gatsby himself didn't believe it would come and perhaps he no longer cared. If that was true he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream. He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about... like that ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees.

The chauffeur--he was one of Wolfshiem's protégés--heard the shots--afterward he could only say that he hadn't thought anything much about them. I drove from the station directly to Gatsby's house and my rushing anxiously up the front steps was the first thing that alarmed any one. But they knew then, I firmly believe. With scarcely a word said, four of us, the chauffeur, butler, gardener and I, hurried down to the pool.

There was a faint, barely perceptible movement of the water as the fresh flow from one end urged its way toward the drain at the other.

With little ripples that were hardly the shadows of waves, the laden mattress moved irregularly down the pool. A small gust of wind that scarcely corrugated the surface was enough to disturb its accidental course with its accidental burden. The touch of a cluster of leaves revolved it slowly, tracing, like the leg of compass, a thin red circle in the water.

It was after we started with Gatsby toward the house that the gardener saw Wilson's body a little way off in the grass, and the holocaust was complete.

我整夜不能入睡。一个雾笛在海湾上不停地呜呜响,我好像生病一样在狰狞的现实与可怕的噩梦之间辗转反侧。天快亮的时候我听见一辆出租汽车开上盖茨比的汽车道,我马上跳下床开始穿衣服——我觉得我有话要跟他说,有事要警告他,等到早晨就太迟了。

我穿过他的草坪,看见他的大门还开着,他在门厅里靠着一张桌子站着,由于沮丧或者瞌睡而显得很颓唐。

“什么事也没发生,”他惨淡地说,“我等了,四点钟左右她走到窗门,站了一会儿,然后把灯关掉。”

那天夜里我们俩穿过那些大房间找香烟的时候,他的别墅在我的眼以显得特别巨大。我们推开帐篷布似的厚门帘,又沿着无尽头的黑暗墙壁瞎摸寻找电灯开关— —有一次我轰隆一声摔在一架幽灵似的钢琴的键盘上。到处都是多得莫名其妙的灰尘,所有的屋子都是霉烘烘的,好像有很多日子没通过气似的。我在一张不熟悉的桌子上找到了烟盒子,里面还有两根走了味的、干瘪的纸烟。我们把客厅的落地窗打汁,坐下来对着外面的黑夜抽烟。

“你应当走开,”我说,“他们会追查你的车子,这是肯定的。”

“现在走开,老兄?”

“到大西洋城去待一个星期,或是往北到蒙特利尔去。”

他不肯考虑。他绝不可能离开黛西,除非他知道她准备怎么办。他在抓着最后一线希望不放,我也不忍叫他撒手。

就是这天夜里,他把他跟丹·科迪度过的年轻时代的离奇故事告诉了我,因为 “杰伊·盖茨比”已经像玻璃一样在汤姆的铁硬的恶意上碰得粉碎,那出漫长的秘密狂想剧也演完了。我想他这时什么都可以毫无保留地承认,但他只想谈黛西的事。

她是他所认识的第一个“大家闺秀”。他以前以各种未透露的身份电曾和这一类人接触过,但每次总有一层无形的铁丝网隔在中间。他为她神魂颠倒。他到她家里去,起先和泰勒营的其他军官一起去,后来单独前往。她的家使他惊异——他从来没进过这样美丽的住宅,但是其所以有一种扣人心弦的强烈的情凋却是因为她住在那里——这房子对于她就像他在军营里的帐篷对于他一样地平淡无奇。这房子充满了引人入胜的神秘气氛,仿佛暗示楼上有许多比其他卧室都美丽而凉爽的卧室,走廊里到处都是赏心乐事,还有许多风流艳史——不是霉烘烘、用熏香草保存起来的,而是活生生的,使人联想到今年的雪亮的汽车-联想到鲜花还没凋谢的舞会-很多男人曾经爱过黛西。这也使他激动——这在他眼中增高了她的身价,他感到她家里到处都有他们的存在。空气中弥漫着仍然颤动的感情的阴影和回声。

但是,他明白他之所以能出入黛西家里纯粹是出于偶然,不管他作为杰伊·盖茨比会有何等的锦绣前程,目前他只是一个默默无闻、一文不名的青年人,而且他的军服——这件看不见的外衣随时都可能从他肩上滑落下来。因此地尽所利用他的时间,他占有了他所能得到的东西,狼吞点咽,肆无忌惮——终于在一个静寂的十月的夜晚他占有了黛西,占有了她,正因为他并没有否正的权利去摸她的手。

他也许应该鄙视自己的,因为他确实用欺骗的手段占有了她,我不是说他利用了他那虚幻的百万家财。但是他有意给黛西造成一种安全感,让她相信他的出身跟她不相上下——相信他完全能够照料她。实际上,他并没有这种能力——他背后没有生活优裕的家庭撑腰,而且只要全无人情味的政府一声令下,他随时都可以被调到世界上任何地方去。

但是他并没有鄙视自己,事情的结果也出乎他的意料。他起初很可能打算及时行乐,然后一走了之——但是现在他发现他已经把自己献身于追求一种理想。他知道黛西不间寻常,但是他并没认识到一位“大家闺秀”究竟有多少不同寻常。她回到她那豪华的住宅里,回到她那丰富美满的生活,突然不见了,给盖茨比什么也没留下。他觉得他已经和她结了婚了,如此而已。

两天之后,他们俩再见面时,显得心慌意乱,似乎上当受骗的倒是盖茨比。她家凉台沐浴在灿烂的星光里。她转身让他吻她那张奇妙、可爱的嘴时,时髦的长靠椅的柳条吱吱作响,她看了凉,她的声音比平时更沙哑,更动人。盖茨比深切地体会到财富怎样禁甸和保存青春与神秘,体会到一套套衣装怎样使人保持清析,体会到黛西像白银一样皎皎发光,安然高踞于穷苦人激烈的生存斗争之上。

“我没法向你形容我发现自己爱上了她以后感到多么惊讶,老兄。有一阵我甚至希望她把我甩掉,但她没有,因为她也爱我。她认为我懂很多事,因为我懂的和她懂的不一样……唉,我就是那样,把雄心壮志撇在一边,每一分钟都在情网“越陷越深,而且忽然之间我也什么都不在乎了。如果我能够告诉她我打算去做些什么而从中得到更大的快乐,那么又何必去做大事呢?”

在他动身到海外之前的最后一个下午,他搂着黛西默默地坐了很长的时间。那是一个寒冷的秋日,屋子里生了火,她的两颊烘得通红。她不时移动一下,他也微微挪动一同胳臂,有一次他还吻吻她那乌黑光亮的头发。下午已经使他们平静了一会,仿佛为了在他们记忆中留下一个深刻的印象,为第二天即将开始的长远的分离做好准备。她用无言的嘴唇拂过地上衣的肩头,或者他温柔地碰一碰她的指尖,仿佛她是在睡梦之中,他俩在这一月的相爱中从来没有像这样亲密过,也从来没有像这样深刻地互通衷曲。

他在战争中一帆风顺。还没上前线他就当到上尉,阿贡战役之后他就晋升少校,当上了师机枪连的连长。停战以后他急得发疯地要求回国,但是由于混乱或者误会,他却被送到了牛津。他现在烦恼了——因为黛西的信里流露出紧张的绝望情绪。她不明白他为什么不能回来。她开始感觉到外界的压力,因此她需要见他,需要感到有他在她身边,需要他安慰她,说她所做的事完全正确。

毕竟黛西还年轻,井H她那人为的世界充满了兰花、愉快的势利风尚和乐队—— 是那些乐队定当年的节奏,用新的曲调总结人生的哀愁和温情。萨克斯省通宵呜咽着《比尔街爵士乐》绝望的哀吟,同时一百双金银舞鞋扬起闪亮的灰尘。每天晚茶时分,总有一些房间由于这种低而甜的狂热乐曲而不停地震颤,同时鲜亮的面庞飘来飘去,好像是被哀怨的喇叭吹落在舞地里的玫瑰花瓣。

在这个朦胧的宇宙里,黛西随着社交忙季又开始活跃了。忽然间她又重新每天和五六个男人订五六次约会,到破晓才困顿不堪地入睡,夜礼服的珠子和薄绸同凋零的兰花缠在一起,丢在她床边的地板上,在这整个期间她内心深处渴望做出一个决定。她现在就要解决自己的终身大事,刻不容缓——而且这个决定必须由一股近在眼前的力量来做出——爱情啦、金钱啦、实实在在的东西。

那股力量在春天过了一半的时候,随着汤姆·布坎农的到来而出现了他的身材和身价都很有分布,因此黛西也觉得很光彩。毫无疑问,有过一番思想斗争,后来也如释重负。盖茨比收到信时还在牛津。

这时长岛上已是黎明,我们走过去把楼下其余的窗子也都打开,让屋子里充满渐渐发白、渐渐金黄的光线。一棵树的影子突然横投在露水上,同时幽灵般的鸟儿在蓝色的树叶中开始歌唱。空气中有一种慢慢的愉快的动静,还说不上是风,预示着凉爽宜人的天气。

“我相信她从来没爱过他,”盖茨比从一扇窗前转过身来,用挑战的神气看着我,“你一定得记住,老兄,她今天下午非常紧张。他跟她讲那些话的方式把她吓唬住了——他把我说成是一个一文不值的骗子,结果她几乎不知道自己在说些什么,”

他闷闷不乐地坐了下来。

“当然她可能爱过他一阵子,在他们刚结婚的时候——就在那时也更加爱我,你明白吗?”

忽然间他说出了一句很奇怪的话。

“无论如何,”他说,“这只是个人的事。”

你怎么理解这句话呢,除非猜测在他对这件事的看法中有一种无法估量的强烈感情?

他从法国回来后,汤姆和黛西还在做结婚旅行,他痛苦不堪而又不由自主地用他军饷所余的最后的钱到路易斯维尔去了一趟。他在那里待了一个星期,走遍当年他俩在十一月的夜晚并肩散步的街道,又重访他俩当年开着她那辆白色汽车去过的那些偏僻地方。正如黛西家的房子在他看来一向比别的房子更加神秘和欢乐,现在路易斯维尔这个城市本身,虽然她已一去不回,在他看来还是弥漫着一种忧郁的美。

他离开的时候觉得,假使他更努力地去找的话,他也许可以找到她的——而现在他却留下她走了。三等车里很热——他现在一文不剩了。他走到敞篷的通廊,在一张折叠椅上坐下,接着车站溜了过去,一幢幢陌生的建筑物的背面移动过去。然后驶过春天的田野,一辆黄色电车在那里并排飞驰了一会工夫,电车上可能有人一度无意间在街头看见过她那张迷人的脸庞。

铁轨拐了一个弯,现在是背着太阳走,西沉的太阳光芒四射,似乎为这个慢慢消逝的、她曾生活过的城市祝福。他绝望地伸出手去,仿佛只想抓住一缕轻烟,从那个因为她而使他认为是最可爱的地方留下一个碎片。但是在他模糊的泪眼前面一切都跑得太快了,他知道他已经失去了其中的那一部分,最新鲜最美好的部分永远失去了。

我们吃完早饭走到外面阳台上去时已经九点钟了。一夜之间天气骤然变了,空气中已经有秋意。园丁,盖茨比的老佣人中的最后一名,来到台阶前面。

“我今天准备把游泳池的水放掉,盖茨比先生。树叶很快就要开始落了,那样水管子就一定会堵塞。”

“今天不要搞。”盖茨比回答。他含有歉意地转身对着我,“你知道吗,老兄,我整个夏天从来没用过那个游泳池!”

我看了看我的表,站起身来。

“离我那班车还有十二分钟。”

我并不愿意进城去。我也没有精神于一点像样的工作,可是不仅如此——我不愿意离开盖茨比。我误了那班车,又误了下一班,然后才勉强离开。

“我给你打电话吧。”我最后说。

“一定,老兄。

“我中午前后给你打电话。”

我们慢慢地走下了台阶。

“我想黛西也会打电话来的。”他神色不安地看着我,仿佛他希望我证实地的话。

“我猜想她会的。”

“那么,再见吧。”

我们握握手,然后我就走开。在我快走到树篱之前,我想起了一件事,于是又掉转身来。

“他们是一帮混蛋,”我隔着草坪喊道,“他们那一大帮子都放在一堆还比不上你。”

我后来一直很高兴找说了那句话。那是我对他说过的唯一的好话,因为我是彻头彻尾不赞成他的。他起先有礼貌地点点头,随后他脸上露出了那种喜洋洋的、会心的微笑,仿佛我们俩在这件事上早已进行了疯狂的勾结。他那套华丽的粉红色衣服衬托在白色的台阶上构成一片鲜艳的色彩,于是我联想起三个月前我初次来他的古色古香的别墅的那个晚上。当时他的草坪和汽车道上挤满了那些猜测他的罪愆的人们的面孔——而他站在台阶上,藏起他那永不腐蚀的梦,向他们挥手告别。

我感谢了他的殷勤招待。我们总是为这向他道谢——我和其他的人。

“再见,”我喊道,“谢谢你的早饭,盖茨比。”

到了城里,我勉强抄了一会那些不计其数的股票行情,后来就在我的转椅里睡着了。中午前不久电话把我吵醒,我吃了一惊,脑门上汗珠直冒。是乔丹·贝克。她时常在这个钟点打电话给我,因为她出入大饭店、俱乐部和私人住宅,行踪不定,我很难用任何其他办法找到她。通常她的声音从电话上传来总是清凉悦耳,仿佛一块草根土从一片碧绿的高尔夫球场上飘进了办公室的窗口,但是今天上午她的声音却显得生硬枯燥。

“我离开了黛西的家,”她说,“我此刻在海普斯特德,今天下午就要到索斯安普敦去。”

她离开黛西的家可能是很得体的,但是她的做法却使我不高兴。接着她下面一句话更叫我生气。

“昨晚你对我不怎么好。”

“在那种情况下有什么关系呢?”

片刻的沉默。然后:

“不管怎样吧……我想见你。”

“我也想见你。”

“那么我就不去索斯安普敦,下午进城来,好不好?”

“不好……我想今天下午不行。”

“随你的便吧。”

“今天下午实在不可能。许多……”

我们就这样说了一会,后来突然间我们俩都不再讲话了。我不知道我们俩是谁把电话啪的一下挂掉,但我知道我毫不在乎了。我那天不可能跟她在茶桌上面对面聊天,即使她从此永远不跟我讲话也不行

几分钟以后我打电话到盖茨比家去,但线给占了,我一连打了四次,最后,一个不耐烦的接线员告诉我这条线路在专等底特律的长途电话。我拿出火车时刻表来,在三点五十分那班车上画了个小圆圈。然后我靠在椅子上,想思考一下。这时才是中午。

那天早上乘火车路过灰堆时,我特意走到车厢的另外一边去。我料想那儿整天都会有一群好奇的人围观,小男孩们在尘土中寻找黑色的血斑,还有一个爱唠叨的人翻来覆去讲出事的经过,一直说到连他自己也觉得越来越不真实,他也讲不下去了,茉特尔·威尔逊的悲惨的结局也就被人遗忘了。现在我要倒回去讲一下前一晚我们离开车行之后那里发生的情况。

他们好不容易才找到了她的妹妹凯瑟琳。她那天晚上一定是破了她自己不喝酒的规矩,因为她到达的时候已经喝得昏头昏脑的,无法理解救护车已经开到弗勒兴区去了,等他们使她明白了这一点,她马上就晕了过去,仿佛这是整个事件中最难以忍受的部分。有个人,或是好心或是好奇,让她上了他的车子,跟在她姐姐的遗体后面一路开过去。

直到午夜过去很久以后,还有川流不息的人拥在车行前面,同时乔治·威尔逊在里面长沙发上不停地摇来晃去。起先办公室的门是开着的,凡是到车行卫面来的人都忍不往往出面张望。后来有人说这太不像活了,才把门关上。米切里斯和另外几个男人轮流陪着他。起先有四五个人,后来剩下两三个人。再到后来,米切里斯不得不要求最后一个陌生人再等十五分钟,让他回自己铺子里去煮一壶咖啡。在那以后,他个独一个人待在那儿陪着威尔逊一直到天亮。

三点钟左右、威尔逊哼哼唧唧的胡言乱语起了质变——他渐渐安静了下来,开始谈到那辆黄色的车子。他宣布他有办法去查出来这辆黄车子是谁的。然后他又脱日说出两个月以前他老婆有一次从城里回来时鼻青脸肿。

但等地听到自己说出这事,他畏缩了一下,又开始哭哭啼啼地叫喊“我的上帝啊!”米切里斯笨口拙舌地想法子分散他的注意力。

“你结婚多久了,乔治?得啦,安安静静坐一会儿,回答我的问题。你结婚多久了?”

“十二年。”

“生过孩子没有?得啦,乔治,坐着别动——我问了你一个问题。你生过孩子没有?”

硬壳的棕色甲虫不停地往暗淡的电灯上乱撞。每次米切里斯听见一辆汽车在外面公路上疾驰而过,他总觉得听上去就像是几个小时以前那辆没停的车。他不愿意走进汽车间去,因为那张停放过尸体的工作台上有血迹。他只好很不舒服地在办公室平走来走去——还没到天亮地已经熟悉以面的每样东西了——不时地又坐在威尔逊身边想法让地安静一点。

“有没有一个你有时去去的教堂,乔治?也许你已经好久没去过的?也许我可以打电话给教堂,请一位牧师来,他可以跟你谈谈,不好吗?”

“不属于任何教堂。”

“你应当有一个教堂,乔治,碰到这种时候就有用了。你从前一定做过礼拜的。难道你不是在教堂里结婚的吗?听着,乔治,你听我说。难道你不是在教堂里结婚的吗?”

“那是很久以前了。”

回答问题的努力打断了他来回摇摇的节奏——他安静了一会,然后和原先一样的那种半清醒半迷糊的表情又回到了他无神的眼睛里。

“打开那个抽屉看看。”他指着书桌说。

“哪一个抽屉?”

“那个抽屉——那一个。”

米切里斯打开了离他手边最近的那个抽屉。里面什么都没有,除了一根小小的贵重的狗皮带,是用牛皮和银缏制作的。看上去还是新的。

“这个?”他举起狗皮带问道。

威尔逊瞪着眼点点头。

“我昨天下午发现的。她想法子向我说明它的来由,但是我知道这件事蹊跷。”

“你是说你太太买的吗?”

“她用薄纸包着放在她的梳妆台上。”

米切里斯看不出这有什么古怪,于是他对威尔逊说出十来个理由为什么他老婆可能会买这条狗皮带,但是不难想象,这些同样的理由有一些威尔逊已经从茉特尔那里听过,因为他又轻轻地哼起:“我的上帝啊!”他的安慰者还有几个理由没说出口又缩回去了。

“那么他杀害了她。“威尔逊说,他的嘴巴突然张得大大的。

“谁杀害了她?”

“我有办法打听出来。”

“你胡思乱想,乔治,”他的朋友说,“你受了很大的刺激,连自己说什么都不知道了。你还是尽量安安静静地坐到天亮吧。”

“他谋杀了她。”

“那是交通事故,乔治。”

威尔逊摇了摇头。他眼睛眯成一条缝,嘴巴微微咧开,不以为然地轻轻“哼” 了一声。

“我知道,”他肯定地说,“我是个信任别人的人,从来也不怀疑任何人有鬼,但是我一己弄明白一件事,我心里就有数了。是那辆车子里的那个男人。她跑过去想跟他说话,但是他不肯停下来。”

米切里斯当时也看到这个情况了,但他并没想到其中有什么特殊的意义。他以为威尔逊太太是从她丈夫那里跑开,而并不是想拦住某一辆汽车。

“她怎么可能弄成那样呢?”

“她这人很深沉。”威尔逊说,仿佛这就回答了问题。“啊——哟——哟——”

他又摇晃起来,米切里斯站在旁边搓着手里的狗皮带。

“也许你有什么朋友我可以打电话请来帮帮忙吧,乔治?”

这是一个渺茫的希望——他几乎可以肯定威尔逊一个朋友也没有,他连个老婆都照顾不了。又过了一会他很高兴看到屋子里起了变化,窗外渐渐发蓝,他知道天快亮了。五点左右,外面天色更蓝,屋子里的灯可以关掉了。

威尔逊呆滞的眼睛转向外面的灰堆,那上面小朵的灰云呈现出离奇古怪的形状,在黎明的微风中飞来飞去。

“我跟她谈了,”他沉默了半天以后喃喃地说,“我告诉她,她也许可以骗我,但她决骗不了上帝。我把她领到窗口,”他费劲地站了起来,走到后窗户面前,把脸紧贴在上面,“然后我说:‘上帝知道你所做的事,你所做的一切事。你可以骗我,但你骗不了上帝!”

米切里斯站在他背后,吃惊地看到他正盯着T·J·埃克尔堡大夫的眼睛,暗淡无光,巨大无比,刚刚从消散的夜色中显现出来。

“上帝看见一切。”威尔逊又说了一遍。

“那是一幅广告。”米切里斯告诉他。不知是什么使他从窗口转开,回头向室内看,但是威尔逊在那里站了很久,脸紧靠着玻璃窗,向着曙光不住地点头。

等到六点钟,米切里斯已经筋疲力尽,因此听到有一辆车子在外面停下的声音时满心感激。来的也是昨天帮着守夜的一位,答应了要回来的,于是他做了三个人的早饭,他和那个人一同吃了。威尔逊现在比较安静,米切里斯就回家睡觉。四小时之后他醒过来,急忙又跑回车行,威尔逊已经不见了。

他的行踪——他一直是步行的——事后查明是先到罗斯福港,从那里又到盖德山,他在那里买了一块三明治,可是并没吃,还买了一杯咖啡。他一定很累,走得很慢,因为他中午才走到盖德山。一直到这里为他的时间做出交代并不难——有几个男孩子看到过一个“疯疯癫癫”的男人,还有几个路上开汽车的人记得他从路边上古里古怪地盯着他们。以后三小时他就无影无踪了。警察根据他对米切里斯说的话,说他“有办法查出来”,猜想地用那段时间在那带地方走遍各家车行,打听一辆黄色的汽车,可是始终并没有一个见过他的汽车行的人站出来说话,所以他或许有更容易、更可靠的办法去打听他所要知道的事情。到下午两点半钟,他到了西卵,在那里他问人到盖茨比家去的路。所以那时候他已经知道盖茨比的名字了。

下午两点钟盖茨比穿上游泳衣,留了话给男管家,如果有人打电话来,就到游泳池来给他送个信。他知到汽车房去拿了一个夏天供客人们娱乐用的橡皮垫子,司机播地把垫子打足了气,然后他吩咐司机在任何情况下不得把那辆敞篷车开出来— —而这是很奇怪的,因为前面左边的挡泥板需要修理。

盖茨比把垫子扛在肩上,向游泳池走去。有一次他停下来挪动了一下,司机问他要不要帮忙,但是地摇了摇头,再过一会就消失在叶片正在变黄的树木中了。

始终没有人打电话来,可是男管家午觉也没睡,一直等到四点——等到那时即使有电话来也早已没有人接了。我有一个想法:盖茨比本人并不相信会有电话来的,而且他也许已经无所谓了。如果是这样的话,他一定会觉得他已经失去了那个旧日的温暖的世界,为了抱着一个梦太久而付出了很高的代价。他一定透过可怕的树叶仰视过一片陌生的天空而感到毛骨悚然,问时发觉一朵玫瑰花是多么丑恶的东西,阳光照在刚刚露头的小草上又是多么残酷。这是一个新的世界,物质的然而并不真实,在这里可怜的幽魂。呼吸着空气般的轻梦,余飘西荡……就像那个灰蒙蒙的、占怪的人形穿过杂乱的树木悄悄地朝他走来。

汽车司机——他是沃尔夫山姆手下的一个人——听到了枪声。书后他可只能说他当时并没有十分重视。我从火车站把车子直接开到盖茨比家里,等我急急忙忙冲上前门的台阶,才第一次使屋的人感到是出事了,但是我认为他们当时肯定已经知道了。我们四人,司机、男管家、园丁和我,几乎一言不发地急匆匆奔到游泳池边。

池里的水有一点微微的、几乎看不出的流动,从一头放进来的清水又流向另一头的排水管。随着隐隐的涟漪,那只有重负的橡皮垫子在池子里盲目地漂着。连水面也吹不皱的一阵微风就足以扰乱它那载着偶然的重负的偶然的航程。一堆落叶使它慢慢旋转,像经纬仪一样,在水上转出一道细细的红色的圈子。

我们抬起盖茨比朝着屋子里走以后,园丁才在不远的草丛里看见了威尔逊的尸体,于是这场大屠杀就结束了,



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