The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
It was when curiosity about Gatsby was at its highest that the lights in his house failed to go on one Saturday night — and, as obscurely as it had begun, his career as Trimalchio was over. Only gradually did I become aware that the automobiles which turned expectantly into his drive stayed for just a minute and then drove sulkily away. Wondering if he were sick I went over to find out — an unfamiliar butler with a villainous face squinted at me suspiciously from the door. “Is Mr. Gatsby sick?” “Nope.” After a pause he added “sir” in a dilatory, grudging way. “I hadn’t seen him around, and I was rather worried. Tell him Mr. Carraway came over.” “Who?” he demanded rudely. “Carraway.” “Carraway. All right, I’ll tell him.” Abruptly he slammed the door. My Finn informed me that Gatsby had dismissed every servant in his house a week ago and replaced them with half a dozen others, who never went into West Egg Village to be bribed by the tradesmen, but ordered moderate supplies over the telephone. The grocery boy reported that the kitchen looked like a pigsty, and the general opinion in the village was that the new people weren’t servants at all. Next day Gatsby called me on the phone. “Going away?” I inquired. “No, old sport.” “I hear you fired all your servants.” “I wanted somebody who wouldn’t gossip. Daisy comes over quite often — in the afternoons.” So the whole caravansary had fallen in like a card house at the disapproval in her eyes. “They’re some people Wolfsheim wanted to do something for. They’re all brothers and sisters. They used to run a small hotel.” “I see.” He was calling up at Daisy’s request — would I come to lunch at her house to-morrow? Miss Baker would be there. Half an hour later Daisy herself telephoned and seemed relieved to find that I was coming. Something was up. And yet I couldn’t believe that they would choose this occasion for a scene — especially for the rather harrowing scene that Gatsby had outlined in the garden. The next day was broiling, almost the last, certainly the warmest, of the summer. As my train emerged from the tunnel into sunlight, only the hot whistles of the National Biscuit Company broke the simmering hush at noon. The straw seats of the car hovered on the edge of combustion; the woman next to me perspired delicately for a while into her white shirtwaist, and then, as her newspaper dampened under her fingers, lapsed despairingly into deep heat with a desolate cry. Her pocket-book slapped to the floor.
“Oh, my!” she gasped. I picked it up with a weary bend and handed it back to her, holding it at arm’s length and by the extreme tip of the corners to indicate that I had no designs upon it — but every one near by, including the woman, suspected me just the same. “Hot!” said the conductor to familiar faces. “Some weather! hot! hot! hot! Is it hot enough for you? Is it hot? Is it.. .?” My commutation ticket came back to me with a dark stain from his hand. That any one should care in this heat whose flushed lips he kissed, whose head made damp the pajama pocket over his heart! . . . Through the hall of the Buchanans’ house blew a faint wind, carrying the sound of the telephone bell out to Gatsby and me as we waited at the door. “The master’s body!” roared the butler into the mouthpiece. “I’m sorry, madame, but we can’t furnish it — it’s far too hot to touch this noon!” What he really said was: “Yes . . . yes . . . I’ll see.” He set down the receiver and came toward us, glistening slightly, to take our stiff straw hats. “Madame expects you in the salon!” he cried, needlessly indicating the direction. In this heat every extra gesture was an affront to the common store of life. The room, shadowed well with awnings, was dark and cool. Daisy and Jordan lay upon an enormous couch, like silver idols weighing down their own white dresses against the singing breeze of the fans. “We can’t move,” they said together. Jordan’s fingers, powdered...
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