I tried to go then, but they wouldn’t hear of it; perhaps my presence made them feel more satisfactorily alone.
“I know what we’ll do,” said Gatsby, “we’ll have Klipspringer play the piano.”
He went out of the room calling “Ewing!” and returned in a few minutes accompanied by an embarrassed, slightly worn young man, with shell-rimmed glasses and scanty blond hair. He was now decently clothed in a “sport shirt,” open at the neck, sneakers, and duck trousers of a nebulous hue.
“Did we interrupt your exercises?” inquired Daisy politely.
“I was asleep,” cried Mr. Klipspringer, in a spasm of embarrassment. “That is, I’d BEEN asleep. Then I got up… .”
“Klipspringer plays the piano,” said Gatsby, cutting him off. “Don’t you, Ewing, old sport?”
“I don’t play well. I don’t — I hardly play at all. I’m all out of prac ——”
“We’ll go down-stairs,” interrupted Gatsby. He flipped a switch. The gray windows disappeared as the house glowed full of light.
In the music-room Gatsby turned on a solitary lamp beside the piano. He lit Daisy’s cigarette from a trembling match, and sat down with her on a couch far across the room, where there was no light save what the gleaming floor bounced in from the hall.
When Klipspringer had played THE LOVE NEST. he turned around on the bench and searched unhappily for Gatsby in the gloom.
“I’m all out of practice, you see. I told you I couldn’t play. I’m all out of prac ——”
“Don’t talk so much, old sport,” commanded Gatsby. “Play!”
“IN THE MORNING,
IN THE EVENING,
AIN’T WE GOT FUN——”
Outside the wind was loud and there was a faint flow of thunder along the Sound. All the lights were going on in West Egg now; the electric trains, men-carrying, were plunging home through the rain from New York. It was the hour of a profound human change, and excitement was generating on the air.
“ONE THING’S SURE AND NOTHING’S SURER
THE RICH GET RICHER AND THE POOR GET— CHILDREN.
IN THE MEANTIME,
IN BETWEEN TIME——”
As I went over to say good-by I saw that the expression of bewilderment had come back into Gatsby’s face, as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness. Almost five years! There must have been moments even that afternoon whe Daisy tumbled short of his dreams — not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.
As I watched him he adjusted himself a little, visibly. His hand took hold of hers, and as she said something low in his ear he turned toward her with a rush of emotion. 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.
They had forgotten me, but Daisy glanced up and held out her hand; Gatsby didn’t know me now at all. I looked once more at them and they looked back at me, remotely, possessed by intense life. Then I went out of the room and down the marble steps into the rain, leaving them there together.
About this time an ambitious young reporter from New York arrived one morning at Gatsby’s door and asked him if he had anything to say.
“Anything to say about what?” inquired Gatsby politely.
“Why — any statement to give out.”
It transpired after a confused five minutes that the man had heard Gatsby’s name around his office in a connection which he either wouldn’t reveal or didn’t fully understand. This was his day off and with laudable initiative he had hurried out “to see.”
It was a random shot, and yet the reporter’s instinct was right. Gatsby’s notoriety, spread about by the hundreds who had accepted his hospitality and so become authorities on his past, had increased all summer until he fell just short of being news. Contemporary legends such as the “underground pipe-line to Canada.” attached themselves to him, and there was one persistent story that he didn’t live in a house at all, but in a boat that looked like a house and was moved secretly up and down the Long Island shore. Just why these inventions were a source of satisfaction to James Gatz of North Dakota, isn’t easy to say.
James Gatz — that was really, or at least legally, his name. He had changed it at the age of seventeen and at the specific moment that witnessed the beginning of his career — when he saw Dan Cody’s yacht drop anchor over the most insidious flat on Lake Superior. It was James Gatz who had been loafing along the beach that afternoon in a torn green jersey and a pair of canvas pants, but it was already Jay Gatsby who borrowed a rowboat, pulled out to the TUOLOMEE, and informed Cody that a wind might catch him and break him up in half an hour.