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"i'm delighted to see you," said gatsby, standing on his porch. "i'm delighted that you dropped in."

as though they cared!

"sit right down. have a cigarette or a cigar." he walked around the room quickly, ringing bells. "i'll have something to drink for you in just a minute."

he was profoundly affected by the fact that tom was there. but he would be uneasy anyhow until he had given them something, realizing in a vague way that that was all they came for. mr. sloane wanted nothing. a lemonade? no, thanks. a little champagne? nothing at all, thanks. . . . i'm sorry----

"did you have a nice ride?"

"very good roads around here."

"i suppose the automobiles----"

"yeah."

moved by an irresistible impulse, gatsby turned to tom, who had accepted the introduction as a stranger.

"i believe we've met somewhere before, mr. buchanan."

"oh, yes," said tom, gruffly polite, but obviously not remembering. "so we did. i remember very well."

"about two weeks ago."

"that's right. you were with nick here."

"i know your wife," continued gatsby, almost aggressively.

"that so?"

tom turned to me.

"so much for your rotten pessimism," he snarled at michaelis, who uncrossed his thick legs, similar to bolsters, and slid his feet abruptly under his chair in sign of exasperation.

he a pessimist! preposterous! he cried out that the charge was outrageous. he was so far from pessimism that he saw already the end of all private property coming along logically, unavoidably, by the mere development of its inherent viciousness. the possessors of property had not only to face the awakened proletariat, but they had also to fight amongst themselves. yes. struggle, warfare, was the condition of private ownership. it was fatal. ah! he did not depend upon emotional excitement to keep up his belief, no declamations, no anger, no visions of blood-red flags waving, or metaphorical lurid suns of vengeance rising above the horizon of a doomed society. not he! cold reason, he boasted, was the basis of his optimism. yes, optimism--

his laborious wheezing stopped, then, after a gasp or two, he added:

"don't you think that, if i had not been the optimist i am, i could not have found in fifteen years some means to cut my throat? and, in the last instance, there were always the walls of my cell to dash my head against."

the shortness of breath took all fire, all animation out of his voice; his great, pale cheeks hung like filled pouches, motionless, without a quiver; but in his blue eyes, narrowed as if peering, there was the same look of confident shrewdness, a little crazy in its fixity, they must have had while the indomitable optimist sat thinking at night in his cell.


sunday clxvii

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