Flappers and Philosophers

F. Scott Fitzgerald
Redacted by Curtis A. Weyant {[email protected]} Courtesy of
the Michigan State University Libraries (http://digital.lib.msu.edu/)
To Zelda

The Offshore Pirate
The Ice Palace
Head and Shoulders
The Cut-Glass Bowl
Bernice Bobs Her Hair
Dalyrimple Goes Wrong
The Four Fists

Flappers and Philosophers

The Offshore Pirate

This unlikely story begins on a sea that was a blue dream, as colorful as
blue-silk stockings, and beneath a sky as blue as the irises of children's
eyes. From the western half of the sky the sun was shying little golden
disks at the sea--if you gazed intently enough you could see them skip
from wave tip to wave tip until they joined a broad collar of golden
coin that was collecting half a mile out and would eventually be a
dazzling sunset. About half-way between the Florida shore and the
golden collar a white steam-yacht, very young and graceful, was riding
at anchor and under a blue-and-white awning aft a yellow-haired girl
reclined in a wicker settee reading The Revolt of the Angels, by
Anatole France.
She was about nineteen, slender and supple, with a spoiled alluring
mouth and quick gray eyes full of a radiant curiosity. Her feet,
stockingless, and adorned rather than clad in blue-satin slippers which
swung nonchalantly from her toes, were perched on the arm of a settee
adjoining the one she occupied. And as she read she intermittently
regaled herself by a faint application to her tongue of a half-lemon that
she held in her hand. The other half, sucked dry, lay on the deck at her
feet and rocked very gently to and fro at the almost imperceptible
motion of the tide.
The second half-lemon was well-nigh pulpless and the golden collar
had grown astonishing in width, when suddenly the drowsy silence
which enveloped the yacht was broken by the sound of heavy footsteps
and an elderly man topped with orderly gray hair and clad in a
white-flannel suit appeared at the head of the companionway. There he
paused for a moment until his eyes became accustomed to the sun, and
then seeing the girl under the awning he uttered a long even grunt of
If he had intended thereby to obtain a rise of any sort he was doomed to
disappointment. The girl calmly turned over two pages, turned back
one, raised the lemon mechanically to tasting distance, and then very
faintly but quite unmistakably yawned.

"Ardita!" said the gray-haired man sternly.
Ardita uttered a small sound indicating nothing.
"Ardita!" he repeated. "Ardita!"
Ardita raised the lemon languidly, allowing three words to slip out
before it reached her tongue.
"Oh, shut up."
Will you listen to me--or will I have to get a servant to hold you while I
talk to you?"
The lemon descended very slowly and scornfully.
"Put it in writing."
"Will you have the decency to close that abominable book and discard
that damn lemon for two minutes?"
"Oh, can't you lemme alone for a second?"
"Ardita, I have just received a telephone message from the shore---"
"Telephone?" She showed for the first time a faint interest.
"Yes, it was---"
"Do you mean to say," she interrupted wonderingly, "'at they let you
run a wire out here?"
"Yes, and just now---"
"Won't other boats bump into it?"

"No. It's run along the bottom. Five min---"
"Well, I'll be darned! Gosh! Science is golden or something--isn't it?"
"Will you let me say what I started to?"
"Well it seems--well, I am up here--" He paused and swallowed several
times distractedly. "Oh, yes. Young woman, Colonel Moreland has
called up again to ask me to be sure to bring you in to dinner. His son
Toby has come all the way from New York to meet you and he's
invited several other young people. For the last time, will you---"
"No" said Ardita shortly, "I won't. I came along on this darn cruise with
the one idea of going to Palm Beach, and you knew it, and I absolutely
refuse to meet any darn old colonel or any darn young Toby or any
darn old young people or to set foot in any other darn old town in this
crazy state. So you either take me to Palm Beach or else shut up and go
"Very well. This is the last straw. In your infatuation for this man.--a
man who is notorious for his excesses--a man your father would not
have allowed to so much as mention your name--you have rejected the
demi-monde rather than the circles in which you have presumably
grown up. From now on---"
"I know" interrupted Ardita ironically, "from now on you go your way
and I go mine. I've heard that story before. You know I'd like
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