BETWEEN TWO HEARTS
Wednesday, April 10, 1912
The concept of silence was not a concept at the hotel room of Siobhan Andrews, niece of the Master Shipbuilder of the Titanic. Today she was due to join her uncle…her pseudo-father…on board his ship and journey with him on board the splendor that he had created. He had managed to obtain permission to leave the ship in order to make sure she got onboard and settled before the ship departed.
"Uncle Thomas…" A woman in her early twenties called to the man who was frantically making sure everything was packed. "Uncle Thomas, the car is waiting for us. If we don’t hurry, we’ll never get there before the other passengers." She appeared in the doorway, eyeing her relative.
She brushed a lock of her fiery red hair out of her face as she adjusted her emerald-green dress. Yes, if there was ever a stereotypical Irishwoman, then she was it. Siobhan was the niece of the famed shipbuilder, daughter of the so-called black sheep of the Andrews family. Her love for the sea was the main reason why she had become so close to her uncle, and now she was finally getting the chance to see America for the first time in her life--a dream of many of her friends.
"I do believe that everything is together, Siobhan."
"Uncle Thomas, will you stop worrying? Come on. Let’s go!" It surely seemed that the younger of the two was the least worried about today. The man picked up his bags and followed his traveling companion outside, waiting to let her shut the door behind him.
It only took them an hour to get to the docks. As Siobhan looked out the window, she could see that the passengers had just started to arrive. The apparent class distinction was obviously there--the First Class passengers, in their splendor and their servants following behind, walked up the gangplank. The Third Class passengers were going through a health check and all the necessary precautions before they were even allowed to think about going onboard. She knew that the docks would be jam-packed with people over the next couple of hours or so…after all, the ship left at high noon.
The door opened and her uncle appeared before her, extending his hand. She took it and stepped down into the sunlight. "There it is," he said, beaming. "Titanic. We’ve spent so long on her and now the time has come for her maiden voyage." He extended his arm, and she took it, smiling. She had read numerous letters from her uncle describing the hardships and toil that it had taken to actually build her.
As they stepped up onto the gangplank, she squeezed her uncle’s arm. "I’m really proud of you, Uncle Thomas. We’re going to enjoy this voyage, even if I have to tear you away from your work."
Her uncle laughed as they approached the end of the gangplank. There they were greeted by one of the officers who was preparing to receive the enormous flow of First Class passengers. "Hello, Mr. Moody!" Thomas said with a smile on his face.
"Good morning, Mr. Andrews. I’m presuming this is your niece?"
"Yes, I am," she said. "Siobhan Andrews."
He took her hand and gently brushed his lips across her knuckles. "It is a wonder to meet the beauty who the shipbuilder has spoken so highly of."
"You’re too kind, sir," she said as she quickly changed the subject, giving him her boarding pass.
"Okay…let’s see here…ah…yes. Miss Andrews, you will be roomed in C-72. I shall send one of the stewards to make sure your bags get there safely." He turned his attention to include her uncle. "Will we be seeing you tonight?"
Siobhan looked over at her uncle with a confused look. "Yes. We will be there at eight." With that, he gave a curt nod to the sixth officer.
"Wonderful," Moody said in response. "Siobhan, if you ever need anything, please don’t hesitate to ask any of the ship’s officers. Captain Smith has given us permission to accompany you if the situation calls for it after your uncle informed us of the booking error." She nodded as her uncle pulled her off, taking her to her stateroom.
"What did he mean about the booking error? What’s going on tonight?" Siobhan looked over to her uncle, who had a smile on his face.
"Well, my dear, I am traveling on A Deck. I only found out that you were traveling on C Deck last night. I talked to EJ…the captain…and he said that any of the officers, including himself, would be more than happy to escort you places, provided it doesn’t take away from any of their duties on the bridge."
"Well, tonight most of the officers will be eating at the captain’s table…of course, with the exception of the officer on watch. We have been invited to join them. It will be a celebration of the beginning of the Titanic’s maiden voyage."
"Wonderful," she said as a smile crossed her face. She knew that the First Class ladies would be looking for a knight in shining armor to accompany her through the entirety of the voyage. Even though she appreciated the action, she would have much preferred the relaxed atmosphere of the Third Class, where people did not worry about how much money you had or how big your name was in society--you were who you were.
Her uncle must have noticed her patented wishing look, because he spoke up quietly. "I know that you have a low tolerance for the snobbery of the First Class passengers, Siobhan. I was lucky to get another ticket in the same class as myself, so I can at least keep you near me. Even though it is my hope that you find a man to your liking while onboard to escort you, I know that you will like the officers. They all are really wonderful gentlemen, and I encourage you to get to know them."
As they walked along the quiet corridors of the ship, she could not stop gaping at the splendor that was the Grand Staircase. They walked down to C Deck and soon enough found her stateroom. "Well, here we are. I do believe that your things have arrived before we have. Feel free to come up to the bridge at noon, when we are leaving Southampton. You may end up meeting some more of the officers there. Plus, it will give you a chance to explore the ship even more."
She nodded as she turned the key in the lock. "I’ll be up at the bridge at noon. I’ll see you then, Uncle Thomas." With that, she went inside and shut the door as her uncle continued down the hall, looking for some more objects to examine for any possible defects.
"Two minutes, sir."
Captain Smith checked his watch for what seemed like the fiftieth time that morning. "Sound the horn," he commanded, looking down upon the frenzied crowd. He glanced over at the shipbuilder with a smile. "Is something wrong, Mr. Andrews? Maybe it’s not a good idea to have you up here when we launch…"
"No, no…it’s not that, sir. I asked Siobhan to join us up here and I’m wondering where she is."
"Maybe Miss Andrews got sidetracked and lost track of time. We will be departing in less than a minute…"
"I’m sorry, Uncle…" a voice called out from the entrance. "That is exactly what happened--I was unpacking and I lost track."
"Well, come in, Miss Andrews. We are just preparing to leave." The captain smiled and walked over to the port wing, signaling to the deckhands to pull the gangplanks away. She walked over to her uncle’s side as the ship pulled away from the dock. An immense cheer rang up from the crowds both on and off of the ship. The crew up on the bridge began congratulating the captain, Mr. Andrews, and each other for a seamless start to the voyage.
"Siobhan, this is Captain EJ Smith, Chief Officer Wilde, First Officer Murdoch…"
Her uncle’s introductions to the officers on the bridge were cut short as they all heard shouts coming from the forecastle deck and on the boat deck. This gained the attention of all on the bridge, especially the captain and the guests of honor. A ship had broken free of her linings; presumably from the suction caused by the Titanic, and was swinging towards their ship.
"Reverse port propeller!"
The officers sprang into action as the crew members outside began to throw collision mats off onto the port side. There was an eerie silence as they watched the other ship’s stern begin to make its way towards the Titanic. Soon enough, however, the other stern was caught and the ship was moved off to a safe dock.
"Uncle Thomas," Siobhan said, turning to her uncle. She noticed that he had paled when he saw the potential collision. "Uncle Thomas, it’s okay. These things happen. Titanic is safe."
The fifth officer, who was on the bridge at the time, walked over to them. "Is he all right?" This man didn’t seem to be too much older than Siobhan was. He was a fairly good-looking man with brown eyes and a build that made him almost right for sea life.
"Yes," she said, looking up into his eyes. Her blue eyes locked onto his as she said, "He just needs to calm down and not let this ruin his voyage."
He nodded, glanced over at Mr. Andrews, and turned back to her. "Well, Miss Andrews, we must finish the introductions that were begun before this event. I am Harold Lowe, the fifth officer." He took her hand and, in a similar fashion to Mr. Moody, gently kissed it.
"It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Lowe."
"Please…call me Harold. I look forward to getting to know you during this voyage."
"As do I," she said with a smile. "But if you’ll excuse me, I must get my uncle out to the deck. Maybe the sea air will do him good." With that, she took her uncle by the arm and led him out of the bridge. She didn’t notice behind her the highly amused looks that the fifth officer was getting from his superiors.
Later on that evening, Siobhan took a quick walk on the A Deck promenade and took in the shorelines of France. She had never seen such a wonder in the twenty-one years of her life, and her world was rapidly expanding to include bits of southern England, northern France, her homeland Ireland, and soon America. Leaning on the edge of the deck, she heard the bugle call from the deck above, announcing that it was time to get ready for dinner.
She sighed, saying to herself that she could never understand the nature of the bugle call to time their meals. It didn’t take her long to get back to her room, thanks to her newly-gained knowledge of First Class.
Coming in from the Aft Grand Staircase, she saw that there was a young gentleman moving in next to her, and a couple--who she deemed to be his parents--who were next to him. She saw him go inside his room and didn’t give a thought to it until she got up to her door.
"Hello…" The teenager’s voice came from right next to her.
She turned to face him. "Hello, there."
"I’m John Thayer, Jr. Everyone calls me Jack, though…to distinguish me from my father."
"Siobhan Andrews," she said with a smile. This boy seemed to be a really interesting character.
He took her hand and kissed her knuckles…so was the custom with First Class ladies, she mused. "Are you going to be coming to dinner?" she asked with just a hint of curiosity.
"We shall," he said. "We will be a little bit late because we have to draw out our dinner clothing, but we will be there. We couldn’t miss the wonderful dinner which we’ve heard so much about…" She nodded as he asked, "Would you care to join us at our table?"
"I appreciate the offer," she said. "But I am going to be joining my uncle at the officer’s table. Maybe tomorrow night?" She opened the door before she turned back to him, ready to bid a temporary farewell.
He nodded, accepting her new offer. "I shall inform my parents. It was a pleasure meeting you, Miss Andrews. I look forward to this voyage."
"As do I," she said before ducking into her room and closing the door behind her. She turned and saw the maid, there to help her with the daunting task of dressing.
A half hour or so later, Siobhan was waiting for her uncle to stop by her room. It was just about time for dinner to begin. She had changed into a sapphire blue dress with the help of the maid and was just pulling her hair up into a sapphire-encrusted clip--a gift from her grandmother--when she heard a knock on the door. Her uncle was late.
She got up and walked over to the door, telling her uncle that he was running late before opening the door. "Uncle Thomas, did you get caught up with the inaccuracies of the screws in the staterooms or something? You’re running late…"
She opened the door and noticed that the man standing there was wearing an officer’s uniform. She looked up to see the identity of her visitor and was met with a pair of brown eyes…the brown eyes from earlier.
It was none other than Harold Lowe himself.