a sample from TITANIC PANIC
Chapter ten is in the books and once more I exceeded my planned budget. I had set a goal of two-thousand words for the chapter and ended up with twenty-two hundred. I could have written another five-hundred words but I decided to push an important conversation to the next chapter, mostly because I was worried about not meeting my word-count goal for that one.
This sample comes from chapter ten, which opens on the Titanic and features Collie in all her southern pride…
The high and fluttery New York accent of Madeleine Astor pierced through the cross talk at the table: “Madam Collie, tell the lieutenant what you were saying yesterday at brunch.”
“Oh dear, I was talking about our plans for a European expansion. We plan to put a peanut butter factory in—”
“No no,” Astor laughed, through there was a brittleness to it that wasn’t present a moment before. “I mean about President Lincoln.” she looked around the room, eager to see how many were paying attention. To her thrill, many were.
“Well…” Collie put her fork down and placed folded hands in her lap. “I have long believed that Lincoln was a usurper.”
“Not just any usurper if I recall, yes?” Madeleine prodded. “A usurper from…”
“Canada.” Collie said without a hint of humor. She was oblivious to the downward glances of her dinner companions, being too worked up by the question to notice. “He was sent here to destroy the country, north and south, I might add.” she plucked her glass of champagne from the table and raised it to her New York acquaintance.
Madeleine raised her own glass of champagne, though she did not partake: “Oh there’s no animosity from this Brooklyn lady. The war is history; bygones are bygones.”
“That’s easy for you to say; the north didn’t surrender the war. We did.”
Madeleine Astor’s husband, John-Jacob, finally spoke up, finding Collie’s words far from amusing, and his young wife’s humoring of her even less: “Not 'we,' surely, Mrs. Marbell. You weren’t there. It’s been fifty years.”
“Whether fifty years or five-hundred, the south will rise again, my father would always say.” Collie replied quickly.
“I see.” Mr. Astor replied tersely. “Well my father fought for the union side, and personally, funded an entire Regiment. He found everyone from Jefferson Davis on down to be an offense to the ideals of the nation.”
“Jefferson Davis was a saint!” Collie snapped.
The English portion of the table found the conversation either curious or riveting, with a few wondering if the Civil War II might break out in the dining hall right then and there.
“Pardon me madam, I bear no ill-will toward you, but the man you call a saint presided over a rebellion whose sole existence—”
“Don’t say it…” Collie interjected, shaking her head.
“—was to further the ugliness of slavery.”
“Those men fought for the rights of the states over the oppression of the federal government, not to have slaves!”
“They fought for the rights of the states…to have slaves!”
“Gentleman, madam…” Edward Smith, captain of the Titanic, rose from his chair, his hands held out in a peace-making gesture. “Let’s change the subject to something less—”
“Jefferson Davis was the greatest American ever to live. He wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence—”
“What’s that now?” Lily said. She had been silent throughout the argument, happy to see her step-aunt make a fool of herself, but sometimes you hear a claim so audacious you can’t help but blurt out a response.
“That’s right!” Collie said, raising a spoon like lady liberty’s torch for some reason. “History was rewritten after the war was ended. Few know that he lived well past a hundred. Few know the key role he played in shaping our nation.”
“Your nation, dear; leave us out of it.” Arthur said, chuckling to himself, though his laughter fizzled when no one else joined in.