“Get some chairs, why don’t you, so somebody can sit down.”
“Oh, sure,” agreed Wilson hurriedly, and went toward the little office, mingling immediately with the cement color of the walls. A white ashen dust veiled his dark suit and his pale hair as it veiled everything in the vicinity — except his wife, who moved close to Tom.
“I want to see you,” said Tom intently. “Get on the next train.”
“I’ll meet you by the news-stand on the lower level.” She nodded and moved away from him just as George Wilson emerged with two chairs from his office door.
We waited for her down the road and out of sight. It was a few days before the Fourth of July, and a gray, scrawny Italian child was setting torpedoes in a row along the railroad track.
“Terrible place, isn’t it,” said Tom, exchanging a frown with Doctor Eckleburg.
“It does her good to get away.”
“Doesn’t her husband object?”
“Wilson? He thinks she goes to see her sister in New York. He’s so dumb he doesn’t know he’s alive.”
So Tom Buchanan and his girl and I went up together to New York — or not quite together, for Mrs. Wilson sat discreetly in another car. Tom deferred that much to the sensibilities of those East Eggers who might be on the train.
She had changed her dress to a brown figured muslin, which stretched tight over her rather wide hips as Tom helped her to the platform in New York. At the news-stand she bought a copy of TOWN TATTLE. and a moving-picture magazine, and in the station drug-store some cold cream and a small flask of perfume. Up-stairs, in the solemn echoing drive she let four taxicabs drive away before she selected a new one, lavender-colored with gray upholstery, and in this we slid out from the mass of the station into the glowing sunshine. But immediately she turned sharply from the window and, leaning forward, tapped on the front glass.
“I want to get one of those dogs,” she said earnestly. “I want to get one for the apartment. They’re nice to have — a dog.”
We backed up to a gray old man who bore an absurd resemblance to John D. Rockefeller. In a basket swung from his neck cowered a dozen very recent puppies of an indeterminate breed.
“What kind are they?” asked Mrs. Wilson eagerly, as he came to the taxi-window.
“All kinds. What kind do you want, lady?”
“I’d like to get one of those police dogs; I don’t suppose you got that kind?”
The man peered doubtfully into the basket, plunged in his hand and drew one up, wriggling, by the back of the neck.
“That’s no police dog,” said Tom.
“No, it’s not exactly a polICE dog,” said the man with disappointment in his voice. “It’s more of an Airedale.” He passed his hand over the brown wash-rag of a back. “Look at that coat. Some coat. That’s a dog that’ll never bother you with catching cold.”
“I think it’s cute,” said Mrs. Wilson enthusiastically. “How much is it?”