Mr. Sloane didn’t enter into the conversation, but lounged back haughtily in his chair; the woman said nothing either — until unexpectedly, after two highballs, she became cordial.
“We’ll all come over to your next party, Mr. Gatsby,” she suggested. “What do you say?”
“Certainly; I’d be delighted to have you.”
“Be ver’ nice,” said Mr. Sloane, without gratitude. “Well — think ought to be starting home.”
“Please don’t hurry,” Gatsby urged them. He had control of himself now, and he wanted to see more of Tom. “Why don’t you — why don’t you stay for supper? I wouldn’t be surprised if some other people dropped in from New York.”
“You come to supper with ME,” said the lady enthusiastically. “Both of you.”
This included me. Mr. Sloane got to his feet.
“Come along,” he said — but to her only.
“I mean it,” she insisted. “I’d love to have you. Lots of room.”
Gatsby looked at me questioningly. He wanted to go, and he didn’t see that Mr. Sloane had determined he shouldn’t.
“I’m afraid I won’t be able to,” I said.
“Well, you come,” she urged, concentrating on Gatsby.
Mr. Sloane murmured something close to her ear.
“We won’t be late if we start now,” she insisted aloud.
“I haven’t got a horse,” said Gatsby. “I used to ride in the army, but I’ve never bought a horse. I’ll have to follow you in my car. Excuse me for just a minute.”
The rest of us walked out on the porch, where Sloane and the lady began an impassioned conversation aside.
“My God, I believe the man’s coming,” said Tom. “Doesn’t he know she doesn’t want him?”
“She says she does want him.”
“She has a big dinner party and he won’t know a soul there.” He frowned. “I wonder where in the devil he met Daisy. By God, I may be old-fashioned in my ideas, but women run around too much these days to suit me. They meet all kinds of crazy fish.”
Suddenly Mr. Sloane and the lady walked down the steps and mounted their horses.
“Come on,” said Mr. Sloane to Tom, “we’re late. We’ve got to go.” And then to me: “Tell him we couldn’t wait, will you?”
Tom and I shook hands, the rest of us exchanged a cool nod, and they trotted quickly down the drive, disappearing under the August foliage just as Gatsby, with hat and light overcoat in hand, came out the front door.
Tom was evidently perturbed at Daisy’s running around alone, for on the following Saturday night he came with her to Gatsby’s party. Perhaps his presence gave the evening its peculiar quality of oppressiveness — it stands out in my memory from Gatsby’s other parties that summer. There were the same people, or at least the same sort of people, the same profusion of champagne, the same many-colored, many-keyed commotion, but I felt an unpleasantness in the air, a pervading harshness that hadn’t been there before. Or perhaps I had merely grown used to it, grown to accept West Egg as a world complete in itself, with its own standards and its own great figures, second to nothing because it had no consciousness of being so, and now I was looking at it again, through Daisy’s eyes. It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes at things upon which you have expended your own powers of adjustment.
They arrived at twilight, and, as we strolled out among the sparkling hundreds, Daisy’s voice was playing murmurous tricks in her throat.
“These things excite me so,” she whispered.
“If you want to kiss me any time during the evening, Nick, just let me know and I’ll be glad to arrange it for you. Just mention my name. Or present a green card. I’m giving out green ——”
“Look around,” suggested Gatsby.
“I’m looking around. I’m having a marvelous ——”
“You must see the faces of many people you’ve heard about.”
Tom’s arrogant eyes roamed the crowd.
“We don’t go around very much,” he said. “In fact, I was just thinking I don’t know a soul here.”
“Perhaps you know that lady.” Gatsby indicated a gorgeous, scarcely human orchid of a woman who sat in state under a white plum tree. Tom and Daisy stared, with that peculiarly unreal feeling that accompanies the recognition of a hitherto ghostly celebrity of the movies.
“She’s lovely,” said Daisy.
“The man bending over her is her director.”
He took them ceremoniously from group to group:
“Mrs. Buchanan … and Mr. Buchanan ——” After an instant’s hesitation he added: “the polo player.”
“Oh no,” objected Tom quickly, “not me.”
But evidently the sound of it pleased Gatsby, for Tom remained “the polo player.” for the rest of the evening.
“I’ve never met so many celebrities!” Daisy exclaimed. “I liked that man — what was his name?— with the sort of blue nose.”