The first paragraph of "The Rough Crossing" describes the sights, sounds, and sensations of the transition from ship to shore. The final sentence of this paragraph reads:
The past, the continent, is behind you; the future is that glowing mouth in the side of the ship; this dim turbulent alley is too confusedly the present.
The crossing from America to Europe on an ocean liner, unlike the temporary death of an airplane ride, is an event in itself. The future, at any rate the near future, is not France, where Adrian and Eva Smith are headed. It is the crossing itself. Most of the story concerns the crossing. Only a short final scene takes place when they have reached their destination.
The story concerns the brief affair between Adrian and his young admirer, Betsy D'Amido, together with Adrian's estrangement from and dramatic reconciliation with his wife. Although it is the scene in France which confirms this reconciliation and suggests its permanence, the story of what happened on the boat is self-contained. This is emphasized by the way in which Adrian and Eva both decide to forget about the whole story, pretending that it happened to "two other people."
The boat was another country, neither America nor France, and all the emotional turmoil, as well as the physical danger, that made the crossing so rough takes on a dreamlike quality once they are on dry land again.