My neighbour, Mr Gatsby, gave parties all through the summer. Nearly every night his house and gardens were full of music. Men and women walked among the beautiful flowers, laughing, talking and drinking champagne27.
In the afternoons, Gatsby's guests28 swam in the sea or sat on his beach. His motorboat roared across the bay. Every weekend, Gatsby's cars carried his guests to and from the city.
Coloured lights hung from the trees in Gatsby's gardens. Food was brought from New York — rich, beautiful food — and it was put on long tables under the trees. There was every kind of drink.
At seven o'clock, the band started to play. Cars from New York were parked outside Gatsby's house. Soon, everyone was a little drunk and talking to people they had never met before.
As it became dark, the lights grew brighter. The music and laughter were louder now. More and more people arrived. A girl began to sing with the band. The party had started!
Not all these people had been invited to Gatsby's house. All kinds of people drove out to Long Island and stopped outside Gatsby's door. Then they joined the party and started to have a good time. Sometimes they were introduced to Gatsby. Sometimes they never saw him.
One day, I was invited to one of Gatsby's parties. As soon as I arrived, I began to look for Gatsby to thank him for his invitation. But no one knew where he was.
As I went to get a drink, I saw Jordan Baker. I walked towards her, glad to see someone I knew.
'I thought you might be here,' Jordan said.
We took our drinks and sat down at a small table under a tree. Jordan began to talk to a girl in a yellow dress.
'Do you come to these parties often?' Jordan asked her.
'I come here when I can,' the girl said. 'No one cares what I do, so I always have a good time. Last time I was here, I tore my dress. Do you know, Gatsby sent me a new one! It cost him 265 dollars!'
'There's something strange about a man like that,' another girl said. 'He doesn't want any trouble from anybody.' She leant across the table and said, 'Somebody told me that Gatsby killed a man!'
'I heard he was a German spy,' a man added.
'Oh, no, he was in the American army in the War. But I'm sure he's killed a man!' someone else said. And the girls laughed excitedly.
Supper was now being served. Jordan and I left our table and went to look for Gatsby.
The bar in the garden was crowded, but Gatsby wasn't there. We walked into the house, opened a door and found ourselves in a library. A fat, middle-aged man was leaning against the table. He stared at us through his round glasses.
'What do you think?' he asked. 'All these books - they're real29!'
'Sure. I thought they were made of cardboard. Here, look! Gatsby is smart30, he does everything right!1 And the man held up a book in front of our faces.
'How did you get here?' the fat man asked. '1 was brought. I've been drunk for a week.'
He shook hands with us and smiled. Jordan and I left him and went back into the garden.
People were dancing now. The voices and the laughter were very loud. The moon was high in the sky. Champagne was being served in big glasses.
Jordan and I sat down at a table with a well-dressed man of my own age. I was enjoying myself, now. The music slopped for a moment. The man at our table looked at me and smiled.
'I think I know your face,' the man said. 'Weren't you in France during the War?'
'Yes, I was.'
'Me too,' he said. We talked about the War for a tew minutes. Then the man told me that he had a new motorboat.
'Want to go out with me in the morning, old sport ?' he asked.
'Sure, what time?'
'Let's say nine o'clock.'
I looked around the garden and smiled.
'This is an unusual party,' I told the man. 'I haven't seen my host52 yet. Gatsby sent me an invitation this morning. I ought to thank him.' '
The man stared at me in surprise.
'I'm Gatsby,' he said. 'I thought you knew, old sport. I'm not a very good host, am I?'
Gatsby smiled. He had a pleasant smile. His smile made me feel important. I looked at Gatsby with interest. He was a tough-looking young man, but he had beautiful clothes and beautiful manners.
At that moment, the butler hurried up to our table. Gatsby stood up and bowed to each of us.
'Chicago's on the phone, you must excuse me,' he said . politely. 'Please ask for anything you want, old sport. I will see you again later.'
When Gatsby had gone into the house, I said, 'Who is he, Jordan? Does anyone know?'
'He's a man called Gatsby. That's all I know.'
'But where is he from? What does he do?'
'Now you've got interested in him,' Jordan smiled. 'Every one does. He told me once he was educated at Oxford, England. But I don't believe it.'
'I don't know. But who cares? He's got good manners and he gives big parties. I like big parties.'
There was a crash on the drums and the bandleader spoke.
'A new jazz tune for Mr Gatsby,' he cried.
The band began to play. I looked up and saw Gatsby standing alone on the white steps in front of his house. His face was tanned33 and his hair was cut short. Gatsby stood there, very straight, his hands in his pockets. I wondered why people seemed a little afraid of him.
When the jazz tune ended, every girl kissed the nearest man and fell into his arms, half-drunk. But there was no girl in Gatsby's arms. He stood there, on the steps, alone.
The butler came back to our table.
'Miss Baker,' he said, 'Mr Gatsby would like to speak to you.'
To me?' Jordan got up slowly and walked into the house.
It was almost two o'clock now. Someone was singing. I went into the house to listen. A tall woman was standing by the piano, very drunk. As she sang, she cried. Suddenly, she dropped her glass and fell back into a chair, fast asleep.
It was time to go home. As I walked towards the door, Jordan Baker and Gatsby came out of the library together.
'I've 'heard the most surprising thing,' Jordan told me quietly, 'But I can't tell you about it — it's a secret!' She yawned. 'I must go. My friends are waiting. Do phone me.'
A few guests were standing near Gatsby. I went up to him to say goodbye.
'Don't forget we're going out in the boat, old sport,' he said. 'At nine o'clock.'
Then the butler said, 'Philadelphia wants you on the phone, Mr Gatsby, sir.'
'All right, wait a minute.'
Gatsby smiled at me.
'Goodnight, old sport, goodnight.'
I walked down the steps. The lights of a dozen cars shone on the gardens. Drunken voices were saying goodnight.
I walked across the lawn in the moonlight. The cars drove away. The gardens were quiet and empty.
All alone, Gatsby stood on the white steps, waving goodbye.