F. Scott Fitzgerald
SOME OF THE CADDIES were poor as sin and lived in one-
room houses with a neurasthenic cow in the front yard, but
Dexter Green’s father owned the second best grocery-store in
Black Bear–the best one was “The Hub,” patronized by the
wealthy people from Sherry Island–and Dexter caddied only
In the fall when the days became crisp and gray, and the long
Minnesota winter shut down like the white lid of a box, Dexter’s
skis moved over the snow that hid the fairways of the golf
course. At these times the country gave him a feeling of
profound melancholy–it offended him that the links should lie in
enforced fallowness, haunted by ragged sparrows for the long
season. It was dreary, too, that on the tees where the gay
colors fluttered in summer there were now only the desolate
sand-boxes knee-deep in crusted ice. When he crossed the
hills the wind blew cold as misery, and if the sun was out he
tramped with his eyes squinted up against the hard
In April the winter ceased abruptly. The snow ran down into
Black Bear Lake scarcely tarrying for the early golfers to brave
the season with red and black balls. Without elation, without an
interval of moist glory, the cold was gone.
Dexter knew that there was something dismal about this
Northern spring, just as he knew there was something
gorgeous about the fall. Fall made him clinch his hands and
tremble and repeat idiotic sentences to himself, and make brisk
abrupt gestures of command to imaginary audiences and
armies. October filled him with hope which November raised to
a sort of ecstatic triumph, and in this mood the fleeting brilliant
impressions of the summer at Sherry Island were ready grist to
his mill. He became a golf champion and defeated Mr. T. A.
Hedrick in a marvellous match played a hundred times over the
fairways of his imagination, a match each detail of which he
changed about untiringly–sometimes he won with almost
laughable ease, sometimes he came up magnificently from
behind. Again, stepping from a Pierce-Arrow automobile, like
Mr. Mortimer Jones, he strolled frigidly into the lounge of the
Sherry Island Golf Club– or perhaps, surrounded by an
admiring crowd, he gave an exhibition of fancy diving from the
spring-board of the club raft. . . . Among those who watched
him in open-mouthed wonder was Mr. Mortimer Jones.
And one day it came to pass that Mr. Jones–himself and not
his ghost– came up to Dexter with tears in his eyes and said
that Dexter was the—-best caddy in the club, and wouldn’t he
decide not to quit if Mr. Jones made it worth his while, because
every other caddy in the club lost one ball a hole for him–
“No, sir,” said Dexter decisively, “I don’t want to caddy any
more.” Then, after a pause: “I’m too old.”
“You’re not more than fourteen. Why the devil did you decide
just this morning that you wanted to quit? You promised that
next week you’d go over to the State tournament with me.”
“I decided I was too old.”
Dexter handed in his “A Class” badge, collected what money
was due him from the caddy master, and walked home to
Black Bear Village.
“The best—-caddy I ever saw,” shouted Mr. Mortimer Jones
over a drink that afternoon. “Never lost a ball! Willing!
Intelligent! Quiet! Honest! Grateful!”
The little girl who had done this was eleven–beautifully ugly as
little girls are apt to be who are destined after a few years to be
inexpressibly lovely and bring no end of misery to a great
number of men. The spark, however, was perceptible. There
was a general ungodliness in the way her lips twisted ,down at
the corners when she smiled, and in the–Heaven help us!–in
the almost passionate quality of her eyes. Vitality is born early
in such women. It was utterly in evidence now, shining through
her thin frame in a sort of glow.
She had come eagerly out on to the course at nine o’clock with
a white linen nurse and five small new golf-clubs in a white
canvas bag which the nurse was carrying. When Dexter first
saw her she was standing by the caddy house, rather ill at
ease and trying to conceal the fact by engaging her nurse in an
obviously unnatural conversation graced by startling and
irrelevant grimaces from herself.
“Well, it’s certainly a nice day, Hilda,” Dexter heard her say.
She drew down the corners of her mouth, smiled, and glanced
furtively around, her eyes in transit falling for an instant on
Then to the nurse:
“Well, I guess there aren’t very many people out here this
morning, are there?”
The smile again–radiant, blatantly artificial–convincing.
“I don’t know what we’re supposed to do now,” said the nurse,
looking nowhere in particular.
“Oh, that’s all right. I’ll fix it up.
Dexter stood perfectly still, his mouth slightly ajar. He knew
that if he moved forward a step his stare would be in her line of
vision–if he moved backward he would lose his full view of her
face. For a moment he had not realized how young she was.
Now he remembered having seen her several times the year
before in bloomers.
Suddenly, involuntarily, he laughed, a short abrupt laugh–
then, startled by himself, he turned and began to walk quickly
Beyond question he was addressed. Not only that, but he was
treated to that absurd smile, that preposterous smile–the
memory of which at least a dozen men were to carry into
“Boy, do you know where the golf teacher is?”
“He’s giving a lesson.”
“Well, do you know where the caddy-master is?”
“He isn’t here yet this morning.”
“Oh.” For a moment this baffled her. She stood alternately on
her right and left foot.
“We’d like to get a caddy,” said the nurse. “Mrs. Mortimer
Jones sent us out to play golf, and we don’t know how without
we get a caddy.”
Here she was stopped by an ominous glance from Miss Jones,
followed immediately by the smile.
“There aren’t any caddies here except me,” said Dexter to the
nurse, “and I got to stay here in charge until the caddy-master
Miss Jones and her retinue now withdrew, and at a proper
distance from Dexter became involved in a heated
conversation, which was concluded by Miss Jones taking one
of the clubs and hitting it on the ground with violence. For
further emphasis she raised it again and was about to bring it
down smartly upon the nurse’s bosom, when the nurse seized
the club and twisted it from her hands.
“You damn little mean old thing!” cried Miss Jones wildly.
Another argument ensued. Realizing that the elements of the
comedy were implied in the scene, Dexter several times began
to laugh, but each time restrained the laugh before it reached
audibility. He could not resist the monstrous conviction that the
little girl was justified in beating the nurse.
The situation was resolved by the fortuitous appearance of the
caddymaster, who was appealed to immediately by the nurse.
“Miss Jones is to have a little caddy, and this one says he can’t
“Mr. McKenna said I was to wait here till you came,” said
“Well, he’s here now.” Miss Jones smiled cheerfully at the
caddy-master. Then she dropped her bag and set off at a
haughty mince toward the first tee.
“Well?” The caddy-master turned to Dexter. “What you
standing there like a dummy for? Go pick up the young lady’s
“I don’t think I’ll go out to-day,” said Dexter.
“I think I’ll quit.”
The enormity of his decision frightened him. He was a favorite
caddy, and the thirty dollars a month he earned through the
summer were not to be made elsewhere around the lake. But
he had received a strong emotional shock, and his perturbation
required a violent and immediate outlet.
It is not so simple as that, either. As so frequently would be the
case in the future, Dexter was unconsciously dictated to by his
NOW, OF COURSE, the quality and the seasonability of these
winter dreams varied, but the stuff of them remained. They
persuaded Dexter several years later to pass up a business
course at the State university–his father, prospering now,
would have paid his way–for the precarious advantage of
attending an older and more famous university in the East,
where he was bothered by his scanty funds. But do not get the
impression, because his winter dreams happened to be
concerned at first with musings on the rich, that there was
anything merely snobbish in the boy. He wanted not
association with glittering things and glittering people–he
wanted the glittering things themselves. Often he reached out
for the best without knowing why he wanted it–and sometimes
he ran up against the mysterious denials and prohibitions in
which life indulges. It is with one of those denials and not with
his career as a whole that this story deals.
He made money. It was rather amazing. After college he went
to the city from which Black Bear Lake draws its wealthy
patrons. When he was only twenty-three and had been there
not quite two years, there were already people who liked to
say: “Now there’s a boy–” All about him rich men’s sons were
peddling bonds precariously, or investing patrimonies
precariously, or plodding through the two dozen volumes of the
“George Washington Commercial Course,” but Dexter
borrowed a thousand dollars on his college degree and his
confident mouth, and bought a partnership in a laundry.
It was a small laundry when he went into it but Dexter made a
specialty of learning how the English washed fine woollen golf-
stockings without shrinking them, and within a year he was
catering to the trade that wore knickerbockers. Men were
insisting that their Shetland hose and sweaters go to his
laundry just as they had insisted on a caddy who could find
golfballs. A little later he was doing their wives’ lingerie as well-
-and running five branches in different parts of the city. Before
he was twenty-seven he owned the largest string of laundries
in his section of the country. It was then that he sold out and
went to New York. But the part of his story that concerns us
goes back to the days when he was making his first big
When he was twenty-three Mr. Hart–one of the gray-haired
men who like to say “Now there’s a boy”–gave him a guest
card to the Sherry Island Golf Club for a week-end. So he
signed his name one day on the register, and that afternoon
played golf in a foursome with Mr. Hart and Mr. Sandwood and
Mr. T. A. Hedrick. He did not consider it necessary to remark
that he had once carried Mr. Hart’s bag over this same links,
and that he knew every trap and gully with his eyes shut–but
he found himself glancing at the four caddies who trailed them,
trying to catch a gleam or gesture that would remind him of
himself, that would lessen the gap which lay between his
present and his past.
It was a curious day, slashed abruptly with fleeting, familiar
impressions. One minute he had the sense of being a
trespasser–in the next he was impressed by the tremendous
superiority he felt toward Mr. T. A. Hedrick, who was a bore
and not even a good golfer any more.
Then, because of a ball Mr. Hart lost near the fifteenth green,
an enormous thing happened. While they were searching the
stiff grasses of the rough there was a clear call of “Fore!” from
behind a hill in their rear. And as they all turned abruptly from
their search a bright new ball sliced abruptly over the hill and
caught Mr. T. A. Hedrick in the abdomen.
“By Gad!” cried Mr. T. A. Hedrick, “they ought to put some of
these crazy women off the course. It’s getting to be
A head and a voice came up together over the hill:
“Do you mind if we go through?”
“You hit me in the stomach!” declared Mr. Hedrick wildly.
“Did I?” The girl approached the group of men. “I’m sorry. I
yelled ‘Fore !'”
Her glance fell casually on each of the men–then scanned the
fairway for her ball.
“Did I bounce into the rough?”
It was impossible to determine whether this question was
ingenuous or malicious. In a moment, however, she left no
doubt, for as her partner came up over the hill she called
“Here I am! I’d have gone on the green except that I hit
As she took her stance for a short mashie shot, Dexter looked
at her closely. She wore a blue gingham dress, rimmed at
throat and shoulders with a white edging that accentuated her
tan. The quality of exaggeration, of thinness, which had made
her passionate eyes and down-turning mouth absurd at eleven,
was gone now. She was arrestingly beautiful. The color in her
cheeks was centered like the color in a picture–it was not a
“high” color, but a sort of fluctuating and feverish warmth, so
shaded that it seemed at any moment it would recede and
disappear. This color and the mobility of her mouth gave a
continual impression of flux, of intense life, of passionate
vitality–balanced only partially by the sad luxury of her eyes.
She swung her mashie impatiently and without interest,
pitching the ball into a sand-pit on the other side of the green.
With a quick, insincere smile and a careless “Thank you!” she
went on after it.
“That Judy Jones!” remarked Mr. Hedrick on the next tee, as
they waited–some moments–for her to play on ahead. “All she
needs is to be turned up and spanked for six months and then
to be married off to an oldfashioned cavalry captain.”
“My God, she’s good-looking!” said Mr. Sandwood, who was
just over thirty.
“Good-looking!” cried Mr. Hedrick contemptuously, “she always
looks as if she wanted to be kissed! Turning those big cow-
eyes on every calf in town!”
It was doubtful if Mr. Hedrick intended a reference to the
“She’d play pretty good golf if she’d try,” said Mr. Sandwood.
“She has no form,” said Mr. Hedrick solemnly.
“She has a nice figure,” said Mr. Sandwood.
“Better thank the Lord she doesn’t drive a swifter ball,” said Mr.
Hart, winking at Dexter.
Later in the afternoon the sun went down with a riotous swirl of
gold and varying blues and scarlets, and left the dry, rustling
night of Western summer. Dexter watched from the veranda of
the Golf Club, watched the even overlap of the waters in the
little wind, silver molasses under the harvest-moon. Then the
moon held a finger to her lips and the lake became a clear
pool, pale and quiet. Dexter put on his bathing-suit and swam
out to the farthest raft, where he stretched dripping on the wet
canvas of the springboard.
There was a fish jumping and a star shining and the lights
around the lake were gleaming. Over on a dark peninsula a
piano was playing the songs of last summer and of summers
before that– songs from “Chin-Chin” and “The Count of
Luxemburg” and “The Chocolate Soldier”–and because the
sound of a piano over a stretch of water had always seemed
beautiful to Dexter he lay perfectly quiet and listened.
The tune the piano was playing at that moment had been gay
and new five years before when Dexter was a sophomore at
college. They had played it at a prom once when he could not
afford the luxury of proms, and he had stood outside the
gymnasium and listened. The sound of the tune precipitated in
him a sort of ecstasy and it was with that ecstasy he viewed
what happened to him now. It was a mood of intense
appreciation, a sense that, for once, he was magnificently
attune to life and that everything about him was radiating a
brightness and a glamour he might never know again.
A low, pale oblong detached itself suddenly from the darkness
of the Island, spitting forth the reverberate sound of a racing
motor-boat. Two white streamers of cleft water rolled
themselves out behind it and almost immediately the boat was
beside him, drowning out the hot tinkle of the piano in the
drone of its spray. Dexter raising himself on his arms was
aware of a figure standing at the wheel, of two dark eyes
regarding him over the lengthening space of water–then the
boat had gone by and was sweeping in an immense and
purposeless circle of spray round and round in the middle of
the lake. With equal eccentricity one of the circles flattened out
and headed back toward the raft.
“Who’s that?” she called, shutting off her motor. She was so
near now that Dexter could see her bathing-suit, which
consisted apparently of pink rompers.
The nose of the boat bumped the raft, and as the latter tilted
rakishly he was precipitated toward her. With different degrees
of interest they recognized each other.
“Aren’t you one of those men we played through this
afternoon?” she demanded.
“Well, do you know how to drive a motor-boat? Because if you
do I wish you’d drive this one so I can ride on the surf-board
behind. My name is Judy Jones”–she favored him with an
absurd smirk–rather, what tried to be a smirk, for, twist her
mouth as she might, it was not grotesque, it was merely
beautiful–“and I live in a house over there on the Island, and in
that house there is a man waiting for me. When he drove up at
the door I drove out of the dock because he says I’m his ideal.”
There was a fish jumping and a star shining and the lights
around the lake were gleaming. Dexter sat beside Judy Jones
and she explained how her boat was driven. Then she was in
the water, swimming to the floating surfboard with a sinuous
crawl. Watching her was without effort to the eye, watching a
branch waving or a sea-gull flying. Her arms, burned to
butternut, moved sinuously among the dull platinum ripples,
elbow appearing first, casting the forearm back with a cadence
of falling water, then reaching out and down, stabbing a path
They moved out into the lake; turning, Dexter saw that she was
kneeling on the low rear of the now uptilted surf-board.
“Go faster,” she called, “fast as it’ll go.”
Obediently he jammed the lever forward and the white spray
mounted at the bow. When he looked around again the girl
was standing up on the rushing board, her arms spread wide,
her eyes lifted toward the moon.
“It’s awful cold,” she shouted. “What’s your name?”
He told her.
“Well, why don’t you come to dinner to-morrow night?”
His heart turned over like the fly-wheel of the boat, and, for the
second time, her casual whim gave a new direction to his life.
NEXT EVENING while he waited for her to come down-stairs,
Dexter peopled the soft deep summer room and the sun-porch
that opened from it with the men who had already loved Judy
Jones. He knew the sort of men they were–the men who when
he first went to college had entered from the great prep
schools with graceful clothes and the deep tan of healthy
summers. He had seen that, in one sense, he was better than
these men. He was newer and stronger. Yet in acknowledging
to himself that he wished his children to be like them he was
admitting that he was but the rough, strong stuff from which
they eternally sprang.
When the time had come for him to wear good clothes, he had
known who were the best tailors in America, and the best
tailors in America had made him the suit he wore this evening.
He had acquired that particular reserve peculiar to his
university, that set it off from other universities. He recognized
the value to him of such a mannerism and he had adopted it;
he knew that to be careless in dress and manner required
more confidence than to be careful. But carelessness was for
his children. His mother’s name had been Krimslich. She was a
Bohemian of the peasant class and she had talked broken
English to the end of her days. Her son must keep to the set
At a little after seven Judy Jones came down-stairs. She wore
a blue silk afternoon dress, and he was disappointed at first
that she had not put on something more elaborate. This feeling
was accentuated when, after a brief greeting, she went to the
door of a butler’s pantry and pushing it open called: “You can
serve dinner, Martha.” He had rather expected that a butler
would announce dinner, that there would be a cocktail. Then
he put these thoughts behind him as they sat down side by
side on a lounge and looked at each other.
“Father and mother won’t be here,” she said thoughtfully.
He remembered the last time he had seen her father, and he
was glad the parents were not to be here to-night–they might
wonder who he was. He had been born in Keeble, a Minnesota
village fifty miles farther north, and he always gave Keeble as
his home instead of Black Bear Village. Country towns were
well enough to come from if they weren’t inconveniently in sight
and used as footstools by fashionable lakes.
They talked of his university, which she had visited frequently
during the past two years, and of the near-by city which
supplied Sherry Island with its patrons, and whither Dexter
would return next day to his prospering laundries.
During dinner she slipped into a moody depression which gave
Dexter a feeling of uneasiness. Whatever petulance she
uttered in her throaty voice worried him. Whatever she smiled
at–at him, at a chicken liver, at nothing–it disturbed him that
her smile could have no root in mirth, or even in amusement.
When the scarlet corners of her lips curved down, it was less a
smile than an invitation to a kiss.
Then, after dinner, she led him out on the dark sun-porch and
deliberately changed the atmosphere.
“Do you mind if I weep a little?” she said.
“I’m afraid I’m boring you,” he responded quickly.
“You’re not. I like you. But I’ve just had a terrible afternoon.
There was a man I cared about, and this afternoon he told me
out of a clear sky that he was poor as a church-mouse. He’d
never even hinted it before. Does this sound horribly
“Perhaps he was afraid to tell you.”
“Suppose he was,” she answered. “He didn’t start right. You
see, if I’d thought of him as poor–well, I’ve been mad about
loads of poor men, and fully intended to marry them all. But in
this case, I hadn’t thought of him that way, and my interest in
him wasn’t strong enough to survive the shock. As if a girl
calmly informed her fianc_ that she was a widow. He might not
object to widows, but—-
“Let’s start right,” she interrupted herself suddenly. “Who are
For a moment Dexter hesitated. Then:
“I’m nobody,” he announced. “My career is largely a matter of
“Are you poor?”
“No,” he said frankly, “I’m probably making more money than
any man my age in the Northwest. I know that’s an obnoxious
remark, but you advised me to start right.”
There was a pause. Then she smiled and the corners of her
mouth drooped and an almost imperceptible sway brought her
closer to him, looking up into his eyes. A lump rose in Dexter’s
throat, and he waited breathless for the experiment, facing the
unpredictable compound that would form mysteriously from the
elements of their lips. Then he saw–she communicated her
excitement to him, lavishly, deeply, with kisses that were not a
promise but a fulfillment. They aroused in him not hunger
demanding renewal but surfeit that would demand more surfeit
. . . kisses that were like charity, creating want by holding back
nothing at all.
It did not take him many hours to decide that he had wanted
Judy Jones ever since he was a proud, desirous little boy.
IT BEGAN like that–and continued, with varying shades of
intensity, on such a note right up to the d_nouement. Dexter
surrendered a part of himself to the most direct and
unprincipled personality with which he had ever come in
contact. Whatever Judy wanted, she went after with the full
pressure of her charm. There was no divergence of method, no
jockeying for position or premeditation of effects–there was a
very little mental side to any of her affairs. She simply made
men conscious to the highest degree of her physical
loveliness. Dexter had no desire to change her. Her
deficiencies were knit up with a passionate energy that
transcended and justified them.
When, as Judy’s head lay against his shoulder that first night,
she whispered, “I don’t know what’s the matter with me. Last
night I thought I was in love with a man and to-night I think I’m
in love with you—-“–it seemed to him a beautiful and romantic
thing to say. It was the exquisite excitability that for the
moment he controlled and owned. But a week later he was
compelled to view this same quality in a different light. She
took him in her roadster to a picnic supper, and after supper
she disappeared, likewise in her roadster, with another man.
Dexter became enormously upset and was scarcely able to be
decently civil to the other people present. When she assured
him that she had not kissed the other man, he knew she was
lying–yet he was glad that she had taken the trouble to lie to
He was, as he found before the summer ended, one of a
varying dozen who circulated about her. Each of them had at
one time been favored above all others–about half of them still
basked in the solace of occasional sentimental revivals.
Whenever one showed signs of dropping out through long
neglect, she granted him a brief honeyed hour, which
encouraged him to tag along for a year or so longer. Judy
made these forays upon the helpless and defeated without
malice, indeed half unconscious that there was anything
mischievous in what she did.
When a new man came to town every one dropped out–dates
were automatically cancelled.
The helpless part of trying to do anything about it was that she
did it all herself. She was not a girl who could be “won” in the
kinetic sense–she was proof against cleverness, she was
proof against charm; if any of these assailed her too strongly
she would immediately resolve the affair to a physical basis,
and under the magic of her physical splendor the strong as
well as the brilliant played her game and not their own. She
was entertained only by the gratification of her desires and by
the direct exercise of her own charm. Perhaps from so much
youthful love, so many youthful lovers, she had come, in self-
defense, to nourish herself wholly from within.
Succeeding Dexter’s first exhilaration came restlessness and
dissatisfaction. The helpless ecstasy of losing himself in her
was opiate rather than tonic. It was fortunate for his work
during the winter that those moments of ecstasy came
infrequently. Early in their acquaintance it had seemed for a
while that there was a deep and spontaneous mutual attraction
that first August, for example–three days of long evenings on
her dusky veranda, of strange wan kisses through the late
afternoon, in shadowy alcoves or behind the protecting trellises
of the garden arbors, of mornings when she was fresh as a
dream and almost shy at meeting him in the clarity of the rising
day. There was all the ecstasy of an engagement about it,
sharpened by his realization that there was no engagement. It
was during those three days that, for the first time, he had
asked her to marry him. She said “maybe some day,” she said
“kiss me,” she said “I’d like to marry you,” she said “I love you”-
-she said– nothing.
The three days were interrupted by the arrival of a New York
man who visited at her house for half September. To Dexter’s
agony, rumor engaged them. The man was the son of the
president of a great trust company. But at the end of a month it
was reported that Judy was yawning. At a dance one night she
sat all evening in a motor-boat with a local beau, while the New
Yorker searched the club for her frantically. She told the local
beau that she was bored with her visitor, and two days later he
left. She was seen with him at the station, and it was reported
that he looked very mournful indeed.
On this note the summer ended. Dexter was twenty-four, and
he found himself increasingly in a position to do as he wished.
He joined two clubs in the city and lived at one of them.
Though he was by no means an integral part of the stag-lines
at these clubs, he managed to be on hand at dances where
Judy Jones was likely to appear. He could have gone out
socially as much as he liked–he was an eligible young man,
now, and popular with down-town fathers. His confessed
devotion to Judy Jones had rather …
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