Lifeboat No. 8

The No. 1 New York Times bestselling story of one of the first lifeboats to leave the Titanic. A vivid re-creation of that cold, calm night a century ago.

  • Byliner Original
  1. Chapter 1

    At 11:40 on Sunday night, April 14, 1912, most of the 1,317 passengers aboard RMS Titanic had gone to bed, seeking warmth and refuge from the frigid night air. But several stalwart gentlemen retreated to the first-class smoking room, where the walls were paneled in lustrous mahogany inlaid with mother-of-pearl. There, sipping whiskey and playing cards, they were exemplars of a confident class lately freed from Victorian rectitude to luxuriate in Edwardian pleasures.

    Suddenly they felt a heaving motion. Looking out the starboard windows, they saw something remarkable: an iceberg towering some ninety feet high. Yet, strange as it was to encounter any object on the open sea, they were neither startled nor impressed nor fazed. They watched the berg disinterestedly until the ship glided by it. Then, without comment, they resumed their game.

    Did they have a moment of fear? No, they did not. For them, as for most men and women journeying in first class, the Titanic was a microcosm of life as they knew it: opulent and privileged and amply fortified against the possibility of disaster.

    One player, pointing to his glass of whiskey, turned to a young steward standing nearby. “Run along the deck,” he instructed, “and see if any ice has come aboard. I would like some for this.”

    ***

    At 11:45, in her lavish cabin on C Deck, Mrs. Ella White felt an odd sensation as she sat on the edge of her Queen Anne bed. She could not discern what it was, but she thought, It’s as though the ship is rol...

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