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I Have Lunch With Gatsby

I worked hard that summer. I met a lot of business people and began to understand my job. I enjoyed living in the East. I liked New York and its crowds of people.

I didn't see Jordan Baker for a while. Then, about midsummer, we met again. Was I in love with Jordan? I don't think so, but I enjoyed being with her.

Gatsby went on giving parties and Jordan and I went to some of them. All the most fashionable people went to Gatsby's parties. They came to Gatsby's house, drank his wine and told each other crazy stories about him: 'He's a bootlegger ... a crook ... a gambler . . . 34 he's killed a man . . .'

All these things were said about Gatsby. But no one knew the truth about him. Anil, while he went on giving parties, no one cared.

One morning, late in July, Gatsby's car stopped outside my door. It was the first time Gatsby had called on me.

'Good morning, old sport,' he said. 'You're having lunch with me today. We can drive up to New York together.'

Gatsby got out of his beautiful yellow car and stood beside it proudly.

'It's pretty, isn't it, old sport?' he said. 'Have you seen it before?'

Of course I'd seen it. Everyone in West Egg knew Gatsby's car. Yellow and silver, it shone in the morning, sun. We made ourselves comfortable on the green leather seats and set off for New York.

I hadn't talked much to Gatsby before. I was interested in him, but I knew very little about him. As he drove along, Gatsby didn't say anything at first. Then suddenly he spoke.

'Look here, old sport,' he said, 'what do you think of me?'

Before I could answer, Gatsby went on, 'You must have heard a lot of stories about me. Well, now you're going to hear the truth. I'm the son of rich people in the Middle West - they're all dead now. I grew up in America, but I was educated at Oxford. All my family went there.'

Gatsby looked at me for a moment. He was talking quickly and I didn't believe a word he was saying.

'What part of the Middle West are you from?' I asked.

'San Francisco.'

'San Francisco? But that's not. . .'

'My family died,' Gatsby went on in a slow, sad voice. 'After that, I lived all over Europe. I travelled, collected jewels, hunted animals ... I was spending money to forget something very sad.'

I was so sure now that Gatsby was lying, that I almost laughed.

Then the War came, old sport,' Gatsby said. 'I was glad. I tried to die, but I couldn't. I was a success. I won medals35. Look, here's one of them.'

Gatsby took a medal out of his pocket. I looked at it in surprise.

'Major Jay Gatsby,' I read, 'for Valour Extraordinary .'

Then Gatsby took out a photograph.

'I always carry this, too. Taken at Oxford.'

In the photograph, some young men were standing outside a college gate. I recognised Gatsby. Was he telling the truth, then?

'I'm going to ask you a favour37,' Gatsby said, putting the photograph away. 'That's why I've told you about myself. You'll hear more this afternoon.'

'This afternoon?'

'Yes, when you have tea with Miss Baker. I've asked her to speak to you . . . about a certain matter.'



Gatsby drove faster. As we passed Wilson's Garage, I saw Myrtle Wilson selling gas38.

We raced on towards the bridge. There was New York on the other side of the river. I felt excited, as I always did, when I saw the city.

'Anything can happen in New York,' I thought, 'anything. I can even believe Gatsby's story!'

At noon, I left work to go to the restaurant where I was having lunch with Gatsby. He was already there, talking to a small dark man with a large head.

'Mr Carraway,' Gatsby said, 'this is my friend, Mr Meyer Wolfsheim.'

Gatsby led us to a table and ordered drinks.

'This is a nice restaurant,' said Mr Wolfsheim, looking round. 'But the place across the street is better.'

'What place is that?' I asked.

'The old Metropole,' Mr Wolfsheim said sadly. 'I remember the night they shot Rosy Rosenthal over there. Shot him tour times and then drove away . . . Poor Rosy, he was a good friend of mine.'

The food arrived and Mr Wolfsheim began to eat greedily. All the time he was eating, he was watching everyone in the room. Gatsby suddenly looked at his watch. He stood up and hurried out.

'He has to phone,' said Mr Wolfsheim. 'He does a lot of business with Chicago. Gatsby's a fine fellow, isn't he? Good looking, and a perfect gentleman39. He's an Oxford man, you know.'

'Oh, is he? Have you known Gatsby for long?' I asked.

'Several years,' Wolfsheim answered. 'I met him after the War. He comes from a good family. He's a gentleman to everyone, especially women. He'd never look at another man's wife.'

When Gatsby came back to our table, Mr Wolfsheim got to his feet and looked round the room.

'I have enjoyed my lunch,' he said, 'but I've got to leave you two young men now.' And he hurried away.

'Wolfsheim's well-known on Broadway40,' Gatsby told me.

'Who is he, then an actor?'

'No, Meyer Wolfsheim's a gambler. He's clever, but he's done a lot of dangerous things.'

'Has he ever been in jail?'

'They can't prove anything, old sport. He's too smart.'

It was time to go. As we stood up, I saw Tom Buchanan on the other side of the crowded room. When he saw me, Tom came over.

'Where've you been?' he asked me angrily. 'Daisy wants to know why you haven't phoned.'

'This is Mr Gatsby, Mr Buchanan,' I said.

The two men shook hands without speaking. There was a strange look on Gatsby's face.

'How are you?' Tom asked me. 'And why are you eating here?'

'I've been having lunch with Mr Gatsby . . .'

And I turned to speak to Gatsby, but he had gone.

 


Date: 2015-04-20; view: 1046


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