two o’clock Gatsby put on his bathing-suit and left word with the
butler that if anyone phoned word was to be brought to him at the
pool. He stopped at the garage for a pneumatic mattress that had
amused his guests during the summer, and the chauffeur helped him
pump it up. Then he gave instructions that the open car wasn’t to be
taken out under any circumstances — and this was strange, because
the front right fender needed repair.
Gatsby shouldered the mattress and started for the
pool. Once he stopped and shifted it a little, and the chauffeur
asked him if he needed help, but he shook his head and in a moment
disappeared among the yellowing trees.
No telephone message arrived, but the butler went
without his sleep and waited for it until four o’clock — until long
after there was any one to give it to if it came. I have an idea
that Gatsby himself didn’t believe it would come, and perhaps he no
longer cared. If that was true he must have felt that he had lost
the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a
single dream. He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through
frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a
rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created
grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts,
breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about…like that
ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous
chauffeur — he was one of Wolfsheim’s protégés — heard the shots —
afterward he could only say that he hadn’t thought anything much
about them. I drove from the station directly to Gatsby’s house and
my rushing anxiously up the front steps was the first thing that
alarmed any one. But they knew then, I firmly believe. With scarcely
a word, four of us, the chauffeur, butler, gardener, and I, hurried
down to the pool.
There was a faint, barely perceptible movement of the water as
the fresh flow from one end urged its way toward the drain at the
other. With little ripples that were hardly the shadows of waves,
the laden mattress moved irregularly down the pool. A small gust of
wind that scarcely corrugated the surface was enough to disturb its
accidental course with its accidental burden. The touch of a cluster
of leaves revolved it slowly, tracing, like the leg of transit, a
thin red circle in the water.
It was after we started with Gatsby toward the house that the
gardener saw Wilson’s body a little way off in the grass, and the
holocaust was complete.