“Anyhow, he gives large parties,” said Jordan, changing the subject with an urbane distaste for the concrete. “And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”
There was the boom of a bass drum, and the voice of the orchestra leader rang out suddenly above the echolalia of the garden.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he cried. “At the request of Mr. Gatsby we are going to play for you Mr. Vladimir Tostoff’s latest work, which attracted so much attention at Carnegie Hall last May. If you read the papers, you know there was a big sensation.” He smiled with jovial condescension, and added: “Some sensation!” Whereupon everybody laughed.
“The piece is known,” he concluded lustily, “as Vladimir Tostoff’s JAZZ HISTORY OF THE WORLD.”
The nature of Mr. Tostoff’s composition eluded me, because just as it began my eyes fell on Gatsby, standing alone on the marble steps and looking from one group to another with approving eyes. His tanned skin was drawn attractively tight on his face and his short hair looked as though it were trimmed every day. I could see nothing sinister about him. I wondered if the fact that he was not drinking helped to set him off from his guests, for it seemed to me that he grew more correct as the fraternal hilarity increased. When the JAZZ HISTORY OF THE WORLD was over, girls were putting their heads on men’s shoulders in a puppyish, convivial way, girls were swooning backward playfully into men’s arms, even into groups, knowing that some one would arrest their falls — but no one swooned backward on Gatsby, and no French bob touched Gatsby’s shoulder, and no singing quartets were formed with Gatsby’s head for one link.
“I beg your pardon.”
Gatsby’s butler was suddenly standing beside us.
“Miss Baker?” he inquired. “I beg your pardon, but Mr. Gatsby would like to speak to you alone.”
“With me?” she exclaimed in surprise.
She got up slowly, raising her eyebrows at me in astonishment, and followed the butler toward the house. I noticed that she wore her evening-dress, all her dresses, like sports clothes — there was a jauntiness about her movements as if she had first learned to walk upon golf courses on clean, crisp mornings.
I was alone and it was almost two. For some time confused and intriguing sounds had issued from a long, many-