The story “The Rough Crossing” by F. Scott Fitzgerald opens with a descriptive introduction of the American piers in the night, which are compared to midway points or crossing places. The world of the ship is described as a separate world, within which “one is no longer so sure of anything.”
Aboard the ship are Mr. and Mrs. Adrian Smith. Adrian is thirty-one and a somewhat famous playwright; his wife, Eva, is twenty-six. As they lean on the rail of the deck, Adrian pronounces themselves, their children, and the children’s nurse escapees from all the people who want to take his wife away from him—because they know he does not deserve her. His words please Eva, and she comments that she prefers this ship to the bigger ones they traveled on during their honeymoon seven years ago.
The couple notice a girl who seems familiar to Adrian. She is barely eighteen years old and is dark-haired and beautiful. Sensing her husband’s attention wandering, Eva asks him to reassure her about the good time they will have during their one-year stay in Paris. She mentions the pearls he bought for her birthday and claims she will never be mean to him again. As he replies, she notices he is already taken by the adventure of the voyage.
As the stewards announce imminent departure, a young man arrives to board the ship at the last minute. The ship departs, and the omniscient narrator informs readers that a hurricane approaches and that this liner will be caught in the storm two days from now.
Two days later, Adrian and Eva visit the ship’s smoking room for the first time, even though they did not originally plan to do so. The bar is full, and people are engaged in numerous activities. There is a sense of nervous energy peculiar to being in the middle of an ocean with not enough to do.
Adrian notices the young girl he saw before and is again taken by her beauty. He and Eva have discovered that she must be Miss Elizabeth D’Amido, and Adrian has also since heard her called Betsy in passing. She is in a group of young people, among whom is the young man who almost missed the ride. His name is Butterworth.
One of the young men approaches the couple, professing admiration for Adrian and his work and asking if they would like to join the group and participate in the deck-tennis tournament. Adrian agrees but insists the young people join their table, even though it is smaller. The young people arrive, and soon Miss D’Amido finds a way to sit next to Adrian. She states boldly yet respectfully that she has been in love with him since she first saw him at the performance of one of his plays. This makes Adrian feel special. Eva, on the other hand, is not enjoying herself—she fails to see why one needs to meet new people all the time.
After a half-hour, she leaves to check on children and, coming into her cabin, finds a steward sitting on her bed. She reacts angrily, believing him to be suffering from seasickness. As the steward is being removed, Eva starts to feel unwell herself, blaming it on the sick man. Adrian comes in later and tells her he will be playing doubles with Miss D’Amido, which hurts Eva, who feels Adrian should have asked her to play. He claims the thought never occurred to him, even though his expression shows guilt. He soon leaves Eva on her own.
The next morning the sea seems calmer, and Eva feels well enough to come out and observe the match, alongside many other prostrate passengers. Miss D’Amido is elegant and plays well while being filmed by other passengers. Butterworth informs Eva that the steward she saw in her cabin is being operated on for appendicitis and that due to the storm coming, the ship’s party will be held that evening.
Adrian and Betsy win the match and Adrian goes off to celebrate, somewhat apologetically leaving Eva alone on the boat deck but sending her a cocktail. She spends the time imagining what lies ahead for them—a villa in Brittany and the children learning to speak French. She...
(The entire section is 1,452 words.)