Southampton and Cherbourg
April 10, 1912 10:05 a.m.
I was of a middle class family. My parents and I lived in Southampton, New England. My birthday, April 20th, was soon approaching; I was to be 21. As a gift from my parents I received a First Class ticket to New York on the most talked about ship, the RMS Titanic. I had never been on a ship and I was worried about it sinking since that's all the news ever seemed to talk about. My father laughed when I told him this, "God himself couldn't sink that ship!"
When it was time I packed for the long voyage, as I looked around I didn't know what to take. I was so excited yet sad about leaving my parents. Before I left they told me to have a safe journey and to have fun.
The weather was gloomy and foggy, as any morning in the bay would be. The docks were crowded with people who just wanted to get a view of the magnificent ship. When I checked in I was told by my steward that I would be pre-boarding. The ship was something no one could imagine; the smell of fresh paint filled the halls. I was shown to my Stateroom B-1, and as I went down the halls there were smiles on everyone's faces and excitement lingered.
My first class stateroom was exquisite; I really didn't know what to expect when the steward opened the door. I unpacked a little, and waited for the ship to leave port while in my room since the halls were bustling with people trying to find their rooms. As I waited I quickly became bored and my steward suggested I go outside and see the large crowds that were gathered to see us off. I was on the B Deck and made my way to the Boat Deck.
As I walked past the A Deck I crossed paths with Mr. Thomas Andrews, the ship builder. His cabin was on the A Deck, A-36 I believe. He seemed rather excited about the maiden voyage and even stopped to introduce himself to me "I'm Lily Francis, of First Class." I smiled.
"I shall be seeing you soon," he said before leaving in a hurry to attend to something.
I wondered what the man meant when he said he would be seeing me soon.
Even though my room was in first class I was virtually a nobody compared to the big names the press mentioned would be sailing on the ship. Just the thought of running into the Astors and even Mr. Andrews again made me nervous but excited.
I made it up to the Boat Deck despite the large crowds standing in way; there was hardly any empty railing to grasp to wave to the tiny people below. People waved their good-byes to family and friends. Even though I had no one to wave to I did so in pure excitement. As the ship started to leave more passengers made their way to the top deck. The ship moved so gracefully that no one could really feel the movement. It seemed like the land was moving rather than the ship.
Suddenly there was some commotion corning from the starboard side of the ship.
"The New York! We're going to crash!" a third class passenger yelled at the top of his lungs.
I saw how close the Titanic came to the other ship, but we didn't touch. People then started to go back inside to unpack, but I decided to sit on a bench and watch the port disappear in the distance.
The Titanic was now on the open sea toward Cherbourg. I left the deck to unpack things; however, a woman insisted on unpacking for me. I thanked the stewardess for her kindness but I didn't the mind the chore. My stateroom still amazed me as I spent more time looking around; everything was new and unused.
The fall of the anchor at 6:30 p.m. startled me a bit. I went to the First Class Lounge on the A deck when I finished unpacking. People were arriving on the ship from Cherbourg and there was a familiar sound of confusion as they tried to find their rooms. The lounge itself was quite crowded so I went to the Reading and Writing Room. It seemed abandoned by other passengers which was no worry to me since I had with me the biography of Mark Twain.
I had been reading for quite some time when Mrs. Astor sat in the chair next to mine. She began to talk about Twain and I found her to be very kindhearted despite my nervousness. Although we seemed to have something in common, as she was one of the few first class passengers that was younger than me. I told her of my journey so far and she told me that she had just boarded the ship, and was waiting for her husband.
I was reading the back cover of my book when she asked me to meet someone. I looked up to a familiar face.
"I told you we would meet again, Lily," Thomas Andrews laughed.
I couldn't believe that he had remembered my name. He was after all the builder of this magnificent ship and must have had a lot more on his mind than remembering the name of an acquaintance.
"It is remarkable Mr. Andrews." After those words the ship shook a little as the anchor was being lifted.
"There is to be a dinner tonight, the Captains dinner, it would be great if you could come."
I was initially shocked and blushed at the honor, "yes of course, nine o'clock then."
Mrs. Astor left with Thomas to ask some questions about the ship. I looked at my watch and saw that there was only an hour left until the dinner.
April 10, 1912. 8:35 p.m.
I walked back to my stateroom to dress for the occasion. Deciding what to wear was awfully hard, and I finally decided on a dark red dress that had black lace. Since I was a bit nervous I went back outside to take a walk. The air was quite chilly, though it was calming to watch the waves form from the ship's speed.
The grand staircase was the most beautiful I had ever seen. Going down I saw the others dressed in their best for dinner. The music from the orchestra could be heard through-out the deck, but the chattering of passengers drowned it out at times.
Looking across the hall I saw Captain Smith and First Officer Murdoch. Mr. Andrews had seen me descend the staircase and surprised me with a white rose. He said that he would be my escort for the evening, making me giggle in nervousness. I thought it was rather nice of him since I didn't know anyone else on the ship and I felt displaced among the wealthy first class people.
Dinner was at the First Class Dining Room. At our table sat Captain Smith, First Officer William Murdoch, Second Officer Charles Lightoller, and Chief Officer Henry Wilde. I had never seen anything so elegant in my life. Mr. Andrews had no trouble telling me all about the improved components of the ship he built which would soon be standard in all new ships.
"I can't believe you built such a magnificent ship; I think people will always remember this ship for her beauty," I spoke softly at the table.
The others at the table raised their wineglasses as Captain Smith stood up to propose a toast. "I would like to propose a toast, first to her builder Mr. Thomas Andrews; with him none of this would have been possible. I would like to thank the rest of the crew for being here and making sure this voyage is merry. To a grand voyage!"
I took a drink as did the others, but Captain Smith didn't. The food was incredible and the conversation seemed centered around past ships the officers had worked aboard. They spoke of ships like the Oceanic, and the Olympic.
It was getting late and Mr. Andrews escorted me to my stateroom, B-1. "Tomorrow, I shall give you a tour?"
It was really nice of him since at the dinner table he spoke of all the work he needed to do, "that would be great, tomorrow afternoon will be great."
I walked into my stateroom and told Mr. Andrews good night.
"Good-night Miss Lily," he said.
My cabin was so cozy and warm as my bed had already been turned down for me. Soon after there was a knock at the door; it was my steward, "Is there anything I can bring you Miss Lily?"
I looked at her in thought then remembered my throat was a bit dry, "Some tea would be grand!"
She left in haste and moments later my stewardess came back with hot tea, "Thank you very much," I said to her. The tea was great, and was just what I needed to calm myself from all that was happening. In pure exhaustion I went to bed. The next day I planned to get a tour of the ship and send a message to my parents about my voyage so far and the great treatment I was receiving.