Authors: F. Scott Fitzgerald,JAMES L. W. WEST III
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 1960 by Charles Scribner’s Sons
Copyright 1920, 1922, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1928, 1931, 1932, 1937 by Charles Scribner’s Sons
Copyright renewed 1948, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1959, 1960, 1965 by Charles Scribner’s Sons
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
First Scribner trade paperback edition 2003
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Manufactured in the United States of America
15 17 19 20 18 16
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Fitzgerald, F. Scott (Francis Scott). 1896-1940.
Babylon revisited and other stories / F. Scott Fitzgerald.—1st Scribner pbk. ed.
Contents: The ice palace—May Day—The diamond as big as the Ritz—Winter dreams—Absolution—The rich boy—The freshest boy—Babylon revisited—Crazy Sunday—The long way out.
BABYLON REVISITED AND OTHER STORIES
The sunlight dripped over the house like golden paint over an art jar, and the freckling shadows here and there only intensified the rigor of the bath of light. The Butterworth and Larkin houses flanking were intrenched behind great stodgy trees; only the Happer house took the full sun, and all day long faced the dusty road-street with a tolerant kindly patience. This was the city of Tarleton in southernmost Georgia, September afternoon.
Up in her bedroom window Sally Carrol Happer rested her nineteen-year-old chin on a fifty-two-year-old sill and watched Clark Darrow’s ancient Ford turn the corner. The car was hot—being partly metallic it retained all the heat it absorbed or evolved—and Clark Darrow sitting bolt upright at the wheel wore a pained, strained expression as though he considered himself a spare part, and rather likely to break. He laboriously crossed two dust ruts, the wheels squeeking indignantly at the encounter, and then with a terrifying expression he gave the steering-gear a final wrench and deposited self and car approximately in front of the Happer steps. There was a plaintive heaving sound, a death-rattle, followed by a short silence; and then the air was rent by a startling whistle.
Sally Carrol gazed down sleepily. She started to yawn, but finding this quite impossible unless she raised her chin from the window-sill, changed her mind and continued silently to regard the car, whose owner sat brilliantly if perfunctorily at attention as he waited for an answer
to his signal. After a moment the whistle once more split the dusty air.
With difficulty Clark twisted his tall body round and bent a distorted glance on the window.
“’Tain’t mawnin’, Sally Carrol.”
“Isn’t it, sure enough?”
“What you doin’?”
“Eatin’ ’n apple.”
“Come on go swimmin’—want to?”
“How ’bout hurryin’ up?”
Sally Carrol sighed voluminously and raised herself with profound inertia from the floor, where she had been occupied in alternately destroying parts of a green apple and painting paper dolls for her younger sister. She approached a mirror, regarded her expression with a pleased and pleasant languor, dabbed two spots of rouge on her lips and a grain of powder on her nose, and covered her bobbed corn-colored hair with a rose-littered sunbonnet. Then she kicked over the painting water, said, “Oh, damn!”—but let it lay—and left the room.
“How you, Clark?” she inquired a minute later as she slipped nimbly over the side of the car.
“Mighty fine, Sally Carrol.”
“Where we go swimmin’?”
“Out to Walley’s Pool. Told Marylyn we’d call by an’ get her an’ Joe Ewing.”
Clark was dark and lean, and when on foot was rather inclined to stoop. His eyes were ominous and his expression somewhat petulant except when startlingly illuminated by one of his frequent smiles. Clark had “a income”—just enough to keep himself in ease and his car in gasoline—and he had spent the two years since he graduated from Georgia Tech in dozing round the lazy streets of his home town, discussing how he could best invest his capital for an immediate fortune.
Hanging round he found not at all difficult; a crowd of little girls had grown up beautifully, the amazing Sally Carrol foremost among them; and they enjoyed being swum with and danced with and made love to in the flower-filled summery evenings—and they all liked Clark immensely. When feminine company palled there were half a dozen other
youths who were always just about to do something, and meanwhile were quite willing to join him in a few holes of golf, or a game of billiards, or the consumption of a quart of “hard yella licker.” Every once in a while one of these contemporaries made a farewell round of calls before going up to New York or Philadelphia or Pittsburgh to go into business, but mostly they just stayed round in this languid paradise of dreamy skies and firefly evenings and noisy niggery street fairs—and especially of gracious, soft-voiced girls, who were brought up on memories instead of money.
The Ford having been excited into a sort of restless resentful life Clark and Sally Carrol rolled and rattled down Valley Avenue into Jefferson Street, where the dust road became a pavement; along opiate Millicent Place, where there were half a dozen prosperous, substantial mansions; and on into the down-town section. Driving was perilous here, for it was shopping time; the population idled casually across the streets and a drove of low-moaning oxen were being urged along in front of a placid street-car; even the shops seemed only yawning their doors and blinking their windows in the sunshine before retiring into a state of utter and finite coma.
“Sally Carrol,” said Clark suddenly, “it a fact that you’re engaged?”
She looked at him quickly.
“Where’d you hear that?”
“Sure enough, you engaged?”
“’At’s a nice question!”
“Girl told me you were engaged to a Yankee you met up in Asheville last summer.”
Sally Carrol sighed.
“Never saw such an old town for rumors.”
“Don’t marry a Yankee, Sally Carrol. We need you round here.” Sally Carrol was silent a moment.