Tender is the Night
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) was born into a Catholic family living in St Paul, Minnesota. He decided to become a writer at Princeton University, leaving without graduating in 1917 to join the army when America entered the First World War. He was one of the major American writers of the twentieth century. He left us one sure masterpiece: The Great Gatsby.
Dick and Nicole, a glamorous couple have a villa in the South of France. They are surrounded with a circle of friends, mainly Americans. Also staying at the resort are Rosemary, a young actress, and her mother. Rosemary is sucked into the circle of the couple; she becomes in love with Dick and is also adopted as a close friend by Nicole. What happened to them?
The trouble began at the time Earl Brady’s car passed the Divers’ car stopped on the road, Abe’s account melted impersonally into the thronged night, Violet McKisco was telling Mrs. Abrams something she had found out about the Divers, she had gone upstairs in their house and she had come upon something there which had made a great impression on her.
But Tommy is a watch-dog about the Divers. As a matter-of-fact she is inspiring and formidable, but it’s a mutual thing, and the fact of The Divers together is more important to their friends than many of them realize. Of course it’s done at a certain sacrifice, sometimes they seem just rather charming figures in a ballet, and worth just the attention you give a ballet, but it’s more than that, you’d have to know the story.
Anyhow Tommy is one of those men that Dick’s passed along to Nicole and when Mrs. McKisco kept hinting at her story, he called them on it. He said:
“Mrs. McKisco, please don’t talk further about Mrs. Diver.”
“I wasn’t talking to you,” she objected.
“I think it’s better to leave them out.”
“Are they so sacred?”
“Leave them out. Talk about something else.”
He was sitting on one of the two little seats beside Campion. Campion told me the story.
“Well, you’re pretty high-handed,” Violet came back.
You know how conversations are in cars late at night, some people murmuring and some not caring, giving up after the party, or bored or asleep. Well, none of them knew just what happened until the car stopped and Barban cried in a voice that shook everybody, a voice for cavalry.
“Do you want to step out here, we’re only a mile from the hotel and you can walk it or I’ll drag you there. You’ve got to shut-up and shut your wife up!”
“You’re a bully,” said McKisco. “You know you’re stronger muscularly than I am. But I’m not afraid of you, what they ought to have is the code duello.”
There’s where he made his mistake because Tommy, being French, leaned over and clapped him one, and then the chauffeur drove on. That was where you passed them. Then the women began. That was still the state of things when the car got to the hotel.
Tommy telephoned some man in Cannes to act as second and McKisco said he wasn’t going to be seconded by Campion, who wasn’t crazy for the job anyhow, so he telephoned me not to say anything but to come right down.
Violet McKisco collapsed and Mrs. Abrams took her to her room and gave her a bromide whereupon she fell comfortably asleep on the bed. When I got there I tried to argue with Tommy but the latter wouldn’t accept anything short of an apology and McKisco rather spunkily wouldn’t give it.
Tender is the Night