“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. Wolfsheim seemed disappointed.
“This is just a friend. I told you we’d talk about that some other time.”
“I beg your pardon,” said Mr. Wolfsheim, “I had a wrong man.”
A succulent hash arrived, and Mr. Wolfsheim, 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. Wolfsheim at the table.
“He has to telephone,” said Mr. Wolfsheim, following him with his eyes. “Fine fellow, isn’t he? Handsome to look at and a perfect gentleman.”
“He’s an Oggsford man.”
“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. Wolfsheim 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. Wolfsheim 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?”
“Meyer Wolfsheim? 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 some one.” When he saw us Tom jumped up and took half a dozen steps in our direction.