“I don’t know. Can’t say.”
I wanted to get somebody for him. I wanted to go into the room where he lay and reassure him: “I’ll get somebody for you, Gatsby. Don’t worry. Just trust me and I’ll get somebody for you ——”
Meyer Wolfsheim’s name wasn’t in the phone book. The butler gave me his office address on Broadway, and I called Information, but by the time I had the number it was long after five, and no one answered the phone.
“Will you ring again?”
“I’ve rung them three times.”
“It’s very important.”
“Sorry. I’m afraid no one’s there.”
I went back to the drawing-room and thought for an instant that they were chance visitors, all these official people who suddenly filled it. But, as they drew back the sheet and looked at Gatsby with unmoved eyes, his protest continued in my brain:
“Look here, old sport, you’ve got to get somebody for me. You’ve got to try hard. I can’t go through this alone.”
Some one started to ask me questions, but I broke away and going up-stairs looked hastily through the unlocked parts of his desk — he’d never told me definitely that his parents were dead. But there was nothing — only the picture of Dan Cody, a token of forgotten violence, staring down from the wall.
Next morning I sent the butler to New York with a letter to Wolfsheim, which asked for information and urged him to come out on the next train. That request seemed superfluous when I wrote it. I was sure he’d start when he saw the newspapers, just as I was sure there’d be a wire from Daisy before noon — but neither a wire nor Mr. Wolfsheim arrived; no one arrived except more police and photographers and newspaper men. When the butler brought back Wolfsheim’s answer I began to have a feeling of defiance, of scornful solidarity between Gatsby and me against them all.
DEAR MR. CARRAWAY. This has been one of the most terrible shocks of my life to me I hardly can believe it that it is true at all. Such a mad act as that man did should make us all think. I cannot come down now as I am tied up in some very important business and cannot get mixed up in this thing now. If there is anything I can do a little later let me know in a letter by Edgar. I hardly know where I am when I hear about a thing like this and am completely knocked down and out.
Yours truly MEYER WOLFSHIEM
and then hasty addenda beneath:
Let me know about the funeral etc. do not know his family at all.
When the phone rang that afternoon and Long Distance said Chicago was calling I thought this would be Daisy at last. But the connection came through as a man’s voice, very thin and far away.
“This is Slagle speaking … ”
“Yes?” The name was unfamiliar.
“Hell of a note, isn’t it? Get my wire?”
“There haven’t been any wires.”
“Young Parke’s in trouble,” he said rapidly. “They picked him up when he handed the bonds over the counter. They got a circular from New York giving ’em the numbers just five minutes before. What d’you know about that, hey? You never can tell in these hick towns ——”
“Hello!” I interrupted breathlessly. “Look here — this isn’t Mr. Gatsby. Mr. Gatsby’s dead.”
There was a long silence on the other end of the wire, followed by an exclamation … then a quick squawk as the connection was broken.
I think it was on the third day that a telegram signed Henry C. Gatz arrived from a town in Minnesota. It said only that the sender was leaving immediately and to postpone the funeral until he came.
It was Gatsby’s father, a solemn old man, very helpless and dismayed, bundled up in a long cheap ulster against the warm September day. His eyes leaked continuously with excitement, and when I took the bag and umbrella from his hands he began to pull so incessantly at his sparse gray beard that I had difficulty in getting off his coat. He was on the point of collapse, so I took him into the music room and made him sit down while I sent for something to eat. But he wouldn’t eat, and the glass of milk spilled from his trembling hand.
“I saw it in the Chicago newspaper,” he said. “It was all in the Chicago newspaper. I started right away.”
“I didn’t know how to reach you.” His eyes, seeing nothing, moved ceaselessly about the room.
“It was a madman,” he said. “He must have been mad.”
“Wouldn’t you like some coffee?” I urged him.
“I don’t want anything. I’m all right now, Mr.——”
“Well, I’m all right now. Where have they got Jimmy?” I took him into the drawing-room, where his son lay, and left him there. Some little boys had come up on the steps and were looking into the hall; when I told them who had arrived, they went reluctantly away.
After a little while Mr. Gatz opened the door and came out, his mouth ajar, his face flushed slightly, his eyes leaking isolated and unpunctual tears. He had reached an age where death no longer has the quality of ghastly surprise, and when he looked around him now for the first time and saw the height and splendor of the hall and the great rooms opening out from it into other rooms, his grief began to be mixed with an awed pride. I helped him to a bedroom up-stairs; while he took off his coat and vest I told him that all arrangements had been deferred until he came.
“I didn’t know what you’d want, Mr. Gatsby ——”
“Gatz is my name.”
“— Mr. Gatz. I thought you might want to take the body West.”