Astor, Strauss, and Futrelle

John Jacob Astor was the wealthiest man in the world, in April 1912. He could easily have purchased his own fleet of Titanic’s, but by some accounts he appeared not to take the sinking seriously, during that critical first hour when First Officer William Murdoch could not find enough people – even men- to fill the first lifeboats. When Boat 7 was lowered over the starboard side at 12:40 am, the First Officer had put out a call for husbands to join their wives; but Mr. Astor was sitting in the gymnasium nearby, cutting open his lifejacket with a knife, so that his wife could see what made it float. By Renee Harris’s account, Mr. Astor would never have taken a seat in a lifeboat, even at Murdoch’s urging, so long as he knew a single woman or child remained aboard the ship. By 1:40 am, the man who could have bought the Titanic twenty times over would be unable, even if he were so inclined, to purchase a seat in the flimsiest of her canvas-sided collapsible lifeboats.

John Astor’s wife, Madeline, was pregnant at the time of the sinking, and though he planned to revise his will, as soon as he arrived home, to incorporate his unborn child, an iceberg intervened in the plan, and in John Jacob Astor VI’s fortunes. (Feeling cheated by his relatives, he grew up to drop the ‘VI’ from his name, and was oft quoted as saying, “If you ever want to know who your family really are, just try sharing an inheritance with them”).

Astor, Straus, Futrelle, and Harris crossed paths repeatedly that night, like strands of a tangled web.

The first-person documents that follow corroborate what Renee Harris claimed to have seen and experienced as the Titanic foundered, providing an additional layer of detail, from varied and unique vantage points. Curiously, these “new” points of view bring us into contact with the Titanic’s dogs, and with Ismay – again.


From the files of Walter Lord, a brittle, degraded Xerox copy of a handwritten letter with an illegible signature, dated April 19, 1912:

“Another of the survivors with whom I talked was a boy of about fourteen years of age. He told me a remarkable story of his rescue through the intervention of Colonel John Jacob Astor. He said he had tried to get into one of the lifeboats with his mother, but the sailors pushed him back and said , ‘You’re not a girl. You can’t get in there. Stand back.’”

[Pellegrino note: This behavior, declarations by sailors that young boys were not to enter the lifeboats, was characteristic of Second Officer Lightoller’s side of the ship, port, with the even-numbered lifeboats.]

“Colonel Astor, who was assisting women into the boat, picked up from the deck a girl’s hat, and jamming it on the boy’s head, said: ‘You’re a girl now. Go ahead.’”


From the notes of Madeline Astor’s sister, Katherine Force, and family physician Dr. Reuel Kimball, April 22, 1912, as recorded by Dr. Kimball:

“Embarking from a trip to Europe and Egypt, Madeleine and the Colonel . . . had crossed [to] Europe on board the [Titanic’s almost identical sister ship] Olympic, and on both trips they were fellow passengers with J. Bruce Ismay, one of Colonel Astor’s close friends. In fact, on the way to Europe Mr. Ismay is [said by Mrs. Astor] to have given up his own suite in order that Mrs. Astor might, perhaps, be more comfortable there than in one that had been reserved for them. When they got on board the Titanic at Liverpool they were glad to find that Mr. Ismay was to be a fellow traveler again.

“The Astor party. . . included Kitty, Colonel Astor’s favorite Airedale terrier, that had traveled all over the world with him. The two were inseparable companions for years, and . . pathetically Mrs. Astor told of how Kitty got lost in Egypt on the trip up the Nile. She wandered away form Colonel Astor’s side one day at a landing and [he] was greatly distressed by the loss of the dog. He spent a great deal of time looking for her, and when he had to give up and start [sailing] up the Nile again he employed scores of natives to look for her, promising a handsome reward for her return. Nothing was heard of Kitty until on the return trip [downriver] when on passing another dahabea [boat]. Colonel Astor spotted Kitty making herself at home on board. The Astor boat was stopped and Kitty found her master with joyous barks. After that, a closer watch was kept of Kitty on board the Titanic. She slept in Colonel Astor’s room. Colonel and Mrs. Astor took frequent walks and he romped with Kitty a great deal.

“[The Colonel] was interested in the maiden performance of the new Titanic, for anything mechanical interested him, and he frequently consulted the log and heard from Captain Smith and Mr. Ismay of how the great ship was behaving. “But no unusual incident marked the voyage until the collision that sent her to the bottom. Colonel and Mrs. Astor had both retired when the great ship struck. Whether he was awakened by the shock or not Mrs. Astor has not said, but, at any rate, he went to his wife’s bedside.

“Gently he told her that something was wrong and that he thought she had better get up and dress. He dressed before she did and he would go and find out the extent of the ship’s injury.

“But all the time he was getting ready he was reassuring his wife, saying not to be afraid, that the Titanic could not sink.

“He said he would go and see Captain Smith and find out just what had happened.

“When he [came] back his face was graver that it had been, but still he was sure there was no danger. Mrs. Astor did not know at the time, but [she has] since come to believe that her husband must have known that the Titanic and all her passengers were in peril. . . He was the calmest man on the Titanic’s deck, so far as she could see. He said, ‘The sea is calm and you will be all right. You are in good hands and I will meet you in the morning.’”

“Witnesses in the lifeboat said they saw Kitty, near the end, running along the upper deck, uphill toward the rising stern. Inseparable companions – for Kitty went down on board the Titanic with her master.”


The following letter was sent to Walter Lord in 1986, after the discovery of the Titanic, and after the publication of “The Night Lives On.” It arrived from Geoffrey C. Ward, a fellow historian and admirer of Walter Lord’s work, who came across a 1912 letter while working on the second volume of his study on FDR’s early years. Ward explained that the letter had been written by W.H. Dobbyn to Robert Ferguson, a former employee of the Astor Trust, on the one month anniversary of the disaster:


22 West Twenty-sixth Street

New York

May 15th, 1912

Dear Mr. Ferguson,

I have wished many times during the past four weeks that you were here to help me with your advice and your presence. I will not attempt to thank you for your letter – it means a great deal to me and I shall treasure it, as I do the Colonel’s own words in his will, which are as much to me as what he left me. The last word I had from him was a telegram asking me to meet him when he arrived in New York. Mrs. Astor told me the Sunday the Titanic struck [that] he had prepared a wireless to send me on the following day, but that day never came for him. You, who were his friend and whom he trusted, for you were very close to him, will know how I feel now that I shall not see him again. He was a reticent man, but there have been times when he spoke of you to me when he showed how he trusted you and what a really deep feeling of friendship he had for you and how much he appreciated your years of work with him. Vincent [the Colonel’s son] spoke to me the other day in a way which showed that he, too, knows how his father felt toward you.

Although it is only a little over four weeks since the Titanic struck, it seems as many months or years to me. You can well understand the awful dread and anxiety of the first week when, day and night, we haunted the offices of the White Star Line and the Associated Press, hoping always to find a name that never appeared among the survivors. At first, when we thought that nearly all were saved and the Carpathia was bound for Halifax, Vincent and I arranged to go to Halifax, and we changed our plan only one hour before the train left, as we found the Carpathia was coming direct to New York. Then followed days of suspense – then the certain news that the Colonel was not on the Carpathia and that none of the other boats in the vicinity of the wreck had saved anyone. I shall never forget the night the Carpathia got in. Vincent, Mr. Biddle, Miss Force and I were on the Cunard dock with Dr. Kimball and Dr. Craquin and a trained nurse and an ambulance. We had had no word from Mrs. Astor, and the papers stated that she was very ill. The great pier was packed with people. They were very quiet – there was no noise, no confusion. They were admitted by ticket only, and the police regulations were perfect. I happened near a window, heard a gun fire, and looking out saw the red lights of the Carpathia as she was slowly turning in, bringing with her what sad and dreadful news. For up to that time we had heard no details. There was an ominous stillness as the gangway was made fast, and then as the people came off such scenes as one can never forget. It was several minutes before Vincent, who had received permission to go on board, could force his way through the crowd, but he finally got on the ship where he found Mrs. Astor waiting, and brought her down. She could walk, and we had no need of the ambulance. I never saw a sadder face or one more beautiful, or anything braver or finer than the wonderful control she had of herself. We avoided the crush by taking her down one of the freight elevators at the foot of which our automobile [was waiting]. She stopped to see her father on 37th Street. You know he is crippled and he could not go to meet her. Then she went to 840 Fifth. She has since told me the story of the terrible night. She had not been feeling well that afternoon and had retired early. She was awakened by the shock, rather slight, of the Titanic’s striking and by the engines stopping. She spoke to the Colonel who said it was nothing, and that the engines would soon start again. They did, but stopped. He then looked out the window, or port hole, and said there was ice about. The air was bitterly cold. He dressed immediately, and hurried up to the bridge to see the Captain, who told him it was serious. He then took Mrs. Astor to the deck, where I believe she go some warmer clothing and he secured a chair for her. He put on a life belt which she helped to fasten, and afterward he got some man to tie it tighter about him. He was perfectly cool and collected, his only thought being for her comfort. When, at last, an officer ordered her into a boat, she did not want to go without him, and the officer took her arm and made her go, the Colonel reassuring her by telling her that he would go with her. (He did it, I’m sure, only to get her to go.) She got in the boat, thinking he would follow for there were a number of vacant places, and the deck about them deserted. He asked the officer if he might go with her, and was refused. She was terribly frightened when she found herself alone, and the boat being lowered. She remembers his calling to her if she was all right or if she was comfortable, and that he asked the officer the number of the boat, and he said something that she could not hear. Her boat had gone but a little way when the Titanic sank. She thought she heard him calling and she stood up and cried that they were coming, but the people in the boat made her stop and apparently they made no effort to go back toward those cries for help. There was no light in her boat, and anyone in the water, only a few feet away, could not see them. You would be terribly sorry for her if you could see her and hear her tell of the awful tragedy. She is so young and she cared so much for him.

The Colonel’s funeral was in the village church in Rhinebeck. You have doubtless read about it. It was a beautiful service, simple and unostentatious. The choir, 29, from Trinity Chapel sang. The three songs were “Hark, Hark, My Soul.” “Peace, Perfect Peace,” (a song the Colonel selected for his Mother’s funeral), and “Savior, Blessed Savior.” He was buried here in Trinity Cemetery – Do you remember that cold day you and I went there? Mrs. Ferguson lent me a big fur coat.

It’s late & I must close, but not before saying that the more I learn of this fearful disaster. The more I admire the Colonel’s quiet bravery, and his gentle care of his wife, in the face of what he knew was death. I am glad that the last few months of his life were so happy. As to myself, you have seen how generous he was to me. Vincent has asked me to remain as his secretary. He is a boy of fine generous instincts, and quite unspoiled. He intends living with his mother [the Colonel’s first wife], here, later on. She is here now. I have not seen her. She sails Saturday.

I should love to see you & Mrs. Ferguson and the children, and some day I hope I may. You do not tell me in your letter how you are.

With deep appreciation of your letter and of the friendship it expressed and with all good wishes for you and yours.

Yours sincerely

W.H. Dobbyn


John Jacob Astor’s body was recovered by the Mackay-Bennett. He was listed as No. 124. FIRST CLASS- MALE- ESTIMATED AGE, 50 – HAIR AND MUSTACHE, LIGHT. The Mackay-Bennett record also listed identifying clothing and personal effects.

CLOTHING- Blue serge suit; blue handkerchief with “A.V.”; belt with gold buckle; brown boots with red rubber soles; brown flannel shirt; “J.J.A.” on back of collar.

EFFECTS-Gold watch; cuff links; gold with diamond; diamond ring with three stones; 225 pounds in English notes; $2440 in notes; 5 pounds in gold; 7 s in silver; 5 ten franc pieces; gold pencil; pocketbook.


By contrast, Emily Badman’s friend, Edward Lockyer, had little more than the glasses Emily had given him to hold for her:


CLOTHING- Blue jacket; gray vest; black pants; black boots.

EFFECTS- Scissors; keys; silver watch and chain; medal marked “F.S.S.”; R.S.P.C.A. medal; glasses; two knives; 5 studs; 8 s in purse.


The biochemist and science fiction writer Dr. Isaac Asimov might have understood Ida Straus’s pleasure in paying attention to small details. During the 1980’s , a friend arrived at the scientist’s apartment and found him sitting on the floor surrounded by index cards, arranged by subject, for some forthcoming book. He was feverishly restacking the cards in alphabetical order. The friend pointed across the room toward Isaac’s word processor and asked why he did not simply press a button and let the computer alphabetize his Index; and the scientist replied, “What would be the fun in that?”

About 1910, Ida Straus was darning one of her husband’s socks when a friend asked why a woman with estates and millions of dollars wouldn’t simply hand such a menial task over to a maid; and the millionairess replied, “If you had a husband like mine, you would do more than this for him.”

In a letter dated July 18, 1904 (presently archived with family files in the New York Public Library), Isador Straus worried about what might happen to his wife if he died before her:

In case I should die before you . . . I know you are fond of doing good [with support of orphanages and teaching centers], indulge yourself in this enjoyment [but]. . . Be a little selfish; don’t always think of others. You have much to live for, therefore don’t be despairing but look forward to years of happiness with your children and grandchildren.

– Isador.


Isador Straus died, not before Ida, but with her. She refused his wish “to be a little selfish; don’t always think of others.” They shared the same birthday, February 6, and by an odd quirk of nature, the same death date as well. The end was heralded (from a certain point of view) in Isador’s letter of July 1904. So, too, some believe, in a letter from Walter Lord’s files, post marked from the Titanic on April 10, 1912:


On Board R.M.S. Titanic

Dear Mrs. Tourtedge

You cannot imagine how pleased I was to find your exquisite basket of flowers in our sitting room on the steamer. The roses and carnations were all so beautiful in color and as fresh as though they had just been cut. Thank you so much for your [smart/sweet] attention which we both appreciate very much. But what a ship! So huge and so magnificently appointed. Our rooms are furnished in the best taste and most luxuriously and they are really rooms not cabins.

But size seems to bring its troubles. Mr. Straus, who was on deck when the start was made, said that at one time it looked painfully near to the repetition of the Olympic experience on her first trip out of the harbor, but the danger was [averted this near collision with the NewYork] and we are now well on to our course across the channel to Cherborg.

Again thanking you and Mr. Bairbridge for your lovely attention and good wishes and in the pleasant anticipation of [having] you with us next summer,

Very kindly yours

Ida P. Straus


On May 1, 1912, Isidor Straus’s body was recovered from the sea by the Mackay-Bennett. He was listed as No. 96.- MALE – ESTIMATED AGE 65 – FRONT GOLD TOOTH (partly); HAIR AND MOUSTACHE, GREY. The ships coroner made a record of clothing and personal effects:

CLOTHING- Fur lined overcoat; gray trousers; coat, and vest; soft striped shirt; brown boots; black silk socks.

EFFECTS- Pocketbook; gold watch; platinum and pearl chain; gold pencil case; silver flask; silver salts bottle; 40 pounds in notes; 4 pounds 2 s and 3 d. in silver.


Mr. Straus was sent to New York for burial in Woodlawn Cemetery, the Bronx. Ida – his beloved, defiantly unselfish Ida – was never found.

In 2002, new evidence surfaced, revealing that the Titanic’s owners expected, and in fact demanded fees for the return of bodies.White Star was the Enron of its day; a succession of callous acts without end. Through letters that still survive, historians have long known that Ismay’s line notified the widows of the Titanic’s bandsmen (notwithstanding the fact that their husbands did much to prevent panic on the port side by playing cheery ragtime music) that 75% of the money owed them was being withheld, based on the premise that their husbands had entertained passengers only halfway through one leg of what was to have been a two-way trip. Furthermore, White Star judged that it was only fair to warn the widows that there would be little left over from the remaining 25% because they would have to “settle a bill” for the loss of their husbands’ uniforms.

In February 2002, documentary film-maker Rip Mackenzie sent a dispatch describing a letter demonstrating once and for all time that there was probably no subterranean marsh into which White Star was unwilling to descend.

Written on White Star stationary and dated two weeks after the sinking, the letter was addressed to Sarah Gill of Somerset, England, in reply to her inquiry about the fate of second class passenger John Gill, her childhood sweetheart and husband of two months.

The owners of the Titanic demanded of Sarah a fee of 20 pounds ($1400 in year 2002 dollars), or her husband’s body would “regrettably” have to be buried in Halifax. White Star used this letter as an opportunity to stress that the sinking of the Royal Mail Steamer Titanic was no one’s responsibility . . . as if driving a ship full speed ahead into the night, toward an ice field about which the bridge had been repeatedly warned . . as if . . .


“The sinking was an unfortunate accident, [for which] we cannot be held responsible. We regret that we do not see our way to bring home the bodies of those recovered free of expense, and in cases where it is desired for this to be done, it can be carried out only if the body was in a fit state to be returned, and upon receiving a deposit of 20 pounds on account of the expenses.”


Given the precedent of how White Star treated with widows of Wallace Hartley, Jock Hume, and the other bandsmen (whose families found settlement of the “uniform account” doubly difficult after corporate lawyers declared violinists and cellists “not crew, but officially passengers, therefore not covered under the Workmen’s Compensation Act”), the Sarah Gill discovery should bring no sense of surprise. The behavior of J. Bruce Ismay and his legal team at White Star begins to look increasingly analogous to a car thief who manages to get away with billing his victims for the labor of dismantling their cars and selling the parts.

Such behavior, in those days, was neither exclusive to White Star nor considered entirely outrageous. As a civilization, we humans have a long way to go, but a reading of 1912 letters and newspapers suggests that we have already come far. We used to be a lot worse. Much that people would find shameful today was socially acceptable at the dawn of the 20 th century. It was a time in which, as the construction of the Ebett’s Field baseball stadium became front page news, a single paragraph in the back pages of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that a Spanish man in the Hamptons had been duly (as if in the proper order of things) lynched for looking at a white woman in the wrong way, and allegedly uttering the wrong words. Against this background, even a philosophical essay about the religious lessons of the Titanic could, as in the Eagle’s April 22, 1912 edition, become studded with passages that today would be recognized immediately as racist mind-rot: “The problem of the Negro home is the problem of good morals. Living as many of them do, they cannot be kept morally clean. . . and every mulatto [African/European hybrid] mingling in our social system is a living evidence. . . Count them as they meet you on the street, or serve you in your homes, and see the enormity of this dreadful sin. [But this is] no defense of mobs. . . every member of a mob that does violence to human life by lynching or burning the body of a human being is a murderer and should be punished to the full extent of the law. And every beast in human form that criminally outrages the purity of our [white] womanhood deserves the most extreme penalty of the law [death], as administered by the courts and never by the criminal lawlessness of mobs. There can be no place anywhere for mobs in our Christian civilization. . .[As for] the Church in relation to the Negro problem . . . it is a national problem [and] it is moving North and very fast.”

What this tirade had to do with the Titanic can hardly be guessed at. There was (insofar as history knows) only one black man aboard the Titanic, Joseph Laroche, an engineer and nephew of Haiti’s President. He was traveling in second class with his wife, Juliette, who was French, and white. Their children were “mulatto.” Mrs. Laroche and the children survived. Mr. Laroche did not. Aboard the Carpathia, Juliette was befriended by Edith Russell, who spoke French as fluently as English. Every April 15 thereafter until her death, Edith would either visit or send gifts of perfume and chocolate – not to commemorate the anniversary of the Titanic’s end, but the day their friendship began. Given the norms of 1912, as evidenced by the Eagle editorial, it must have been a controversial beginning. Given all else that is known about Edith Russell’s personality, it is safe to bet that she did not care.

Two of the more pompous attitudes reaching us from the Titanic itself can be read in the works of Helen Candee’s friend Archibald Gracie and Second Class passenger Edwina Corrigan (bearing in mind that, according to historian Don Lynch, who knew “Winnie” personally for many years, the views expressed herein are so inconsistent with her post WWII, non-elitist personality that she was either misquoted by a “friend” or more likely, grew into a kinder, gentler woman in the aftermath of Titanic.)


Edwina Corrigan, as recorded in a letter by a friend in 1912:

“A horde of foreigners tried to break out from the bowels of the ship, all carrying their possessions on their heads. Horrible people. They must have been fourth-class passengers. Thanks to the vigilance of the crew and the officers with their revolvers, they were kept back behind the barriers and prevented from swamping the lifeboats.”


First Class passenger Daisy Speddon corroborated the existence of such attitudes, and their open expression, in a letter to her friend Maderia, written aboard the Carpathia:

“We spend our time sitting on people who are cruel enough to say that no steerage should have been saved, as if they weren’t human beings!”


Colonel Archibald Gracie, from Boucher’s Cottage, Long Beach, Long Island, New York, June 1912:

“They could not have been more orderly if gathered in a church [quoting Ismay] . . . There was not one woman who shed tears or gave any sign of fear or distress. There was not a man at this quarter of the ship [forward, starboard] who indicated a desire to get into the boats and escape with the women. The coolness, courage and sense of duty that I here witnessed made me thankful to God and proud of my Anglo-Saxon race that gave this perfect and superb exhibition of self control at this hour of severest trial.”


Milvina Dean’s mother could not have agreed less with Colonel Gracie’s assessment of human behavior on the Titanic’s slanting decks. At eight weeks old, Milvina was officially the youngest Titanic survivor. Her mother rarely spoke of the disaster, but according to Milvina, traveling in Third Class and seeing most of the lifeboats reserved for men and even dogs in First, “Mum” saw the night rather differently from Corrigan and Gracie: “Heroism and chivalry are the great myths about the Titanic. This might have been true, somewhere on the boat deck. But mostly, it was arrogance and madness that night . . . madness.. . .”

Renee Harris’s friend Jacques Futrelle might have agreed. He saw publisher Henry Sleeper Harper enter Boat 3 with his valet and his prize Pekinese Sun Yatsen, taking a seat next to Thomas Cardeen and his valet. An interesting night: Ten crew, thirty passengers and a dog, departing in a lifeboat built for sixty-five.

Jacques Futrelle was traveling First Class on the Titanic because he had written an internationally best-selling detective novel. His next novel was assured the same status; but the publisher never did forgive him for not returning to his cabin for the manuscript, and handing it to his wife before he saw her away in a lifeboat and stepped back to go down with the ship. Never forgiven, he was sued posthumously for going down with his manuscript; and Lily May Futrelle, also a writer, spent the next four years of her life working to pay back the $17,000 advance against royalties for the lost book ($535,000 in year 2002 dollars).

On the night of his death, Jacques had retired early from his dinner with Henry and Renee Harris, complaining of a headache. About 11 pm, Lily went to the ship’s library, which she found to be filled only with boring books, but finally she settled on a topic and returned to Jacques, about ten minutes before impact.

The Futrelle’s stateroom was next door to the Harrises (C-83, 81; between the third and fourth smokestacks on the starboard side). When Henry and Jacques went away to find out why the ship had stopped, Lily stayed with Renee.

Lily Futrelle’s account (assembled from disconnected scraps and clippings of paper) begins from that moment:

Mrs. Harris was pale and frightened. Our fear increased twofold when we heard the harsh clanging of the great gong forward. I was afraid. The explanation of the reason for the ringing of the gong came to us in a flash. That very afternoon one of the officers had explained to us that this gong was used as a signal for the closing of the watertight compartments in case of emergency. . .

The first rush of men, with the fear of death in their faces, came when a group of stokers came up from the hold and burst through the [main dinning] saloon [where we had gone with the Harrises to await the call for evacuation]. Their coal-smeared faces [appeared] wild and distorted in the brilliant lights. The arrival of these stokers was the signal that the great heart of the ship had stopped beating, that the engines were growing cold. In a moment we all understood that the situation was desperate, that the compartments had refused to hold back the rush of water. At that moment, the band was playing “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.”

The last I saw of my husband, I was looking up [from Boat 16, on the port side]. He was standing beside Colonel Astor. He had a cigarette in his mouth. As I watched him, he lighted a match and held it in his cupped hands before his face. By it’s light I could see his eyes roam anxiously over to the water. Then he dropped his hands and lighted his cigarette. I saw Colonel Astor turn toward Jacques and a second later Jacques handed the Colonel his cigarette box. The Colonel screened Jacques hands with his own and their faces stood out together as the match flared at the cigarette tip. I know those hands never trembled. This was not an act of bravado. Both men must have realized that they must die.

In the lifeboat, we prayed. . . We could see the last two collapsible pulling away from the steamer. The water by this time was so close to the upper deck that it was hardly necessary to lower the [collapsible] boat. I tried to shut my eyes but I could not. There was a horrible fascination about it. The ocean was aflame with gleaming phosphorus which looked like a million little spirits of light dancing their way to the horizon. . .[ and in the sky above, the meteors] . . . Then . . . all of a sudden there was a terrible creaking noise. The Titanic seemed to break in two. It sounded like a tremendous explosion. For a fraction of a second she rose in the air and was plainly visible [the rising decks of the stern’s sever, viewed face-on]. For a fraction of a second there was light from inside [the broken decks].

It was a vision of hell. A little French woman in the boat with me wailed and writhed in hysteria. I was calm. I couldn’t cry. I didn’t want to. Jacques was gone. I felt like I was dead too.


Jacques Futrelle was never found. Therefore, Lily Futrelle never received her own copy of the infamous White Star Line bill for the return of a loved one’s body – which eased her burden infinitesimally, for she already had to make up the debt of a lost manuscript. Moreover, she knew that Jacques hated cemeteries, and always wished to be buried at sea… Until her death in the Autumn of 1967, Lily went to a cliff overlooking the Atlantic, every April 15, and threw roses into the sea.



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