Love with Little Time
Updated: May 10, 2022
As I made my way through Fairview cemetery in Halifax. Nova Scotia. I stopped at all one hundred twenty-one headstones, paying my respects for those souls lost one year earlier on the 15th of April 1912. Like me, they had been aboard the RMS Titanic. When I reached the last stone, it read: "Known only to God." I felt a particular sadness when I read those words. I looked out towards the ocean with my mind going back to the 11th of April, the day I joined the crew of the Titanic when she docked in Queens Town, Ireland.
My father had died two years earlier. We had a small farm north of Cork City. We did our best to keep it, but we lost it to the bank. Our mother moved us to an apartment in Cork City. It was in a shameful area, which we all knew our mother hated, but all we could afford. All of us did our best to help by earning money. That's why I took the steward's job. The money I made, I would send home. Once I got to New York, I would look for another job. That first day, Deck Officer James Moody informed me I would be the cabin steward for first-class passenger, Mr. Martin Rothschild. His valet had taken sick while with him in France. I headed directly to their stateroom. When I arrived, I found the door slightly ajar. Knocking lightly, I heard a female voice announce, "Come in." When I opened the door and stepped inside, there stood the most beautiful girl my eyes had ever seen. She had beautiful red hair pulled up, with fair Irish skin and freckles. But it was her sea-green eyes that caught my attention. I just stood there, taken aback by her beauty. When she said, "Are you a mute? Can yea talk?"
I came to my senses. "Hi, I’m Michael Twomey." "Nice to meet you, Michael Twomey. I am Hannah Fitzgerald. You must be Mr. Rothschild's valet? I am Mrs. Rothschild's maidservant." As Hannah explained my duties, my mind was only on her and taking in all her beauty. Any fears I had over my first voyage left me. Perhaps I was thinking too far ahead, but with Hannah, I saw a brighter future in America. I just knew there was something special in her; and in my mind, I hoped she felt the same about me. Just as she finished speaking, Mr. and Mrs. Rothschild walked into the room. Mr. Rothschild was considerably younger than his wife. He was only about five foot eight inches tall but had a deep voice of a man over six feet tall. They were nothing like I expected rich Americans to be like. Both were friendly, and each had a good sense of humor. I introduced myself to both. Both freshened up and headed out to enjoy the ship. Mrs. Rothschild told us they would not need us until dinner. With a smile, she said, "Why don't the two of you enjoy the ship as well?" As soon as they left, I looked at Hannah. "Well, you heard your boss. Let's enjoy the ship. I need to change out of my uniform. How about I walk you to your room?" With a smile, Hannah said, "Yes." On the way, she told me mine was next to hers. All I could think of was how much my life had changed simply by joining the Titanic crew. Once a poor Irish kid, with little hope of a decent life, I was now working for a rich American; and even though my pay was not discussed, I knew they would pay me enough that I could help my family. Then there was Hannah, a dream. When we reached her room, Hannah said she would be ready in half an hour. When I opened the door to my room, I could not believe my eyes. For a valet, it was amazing. I changed into my best and only suit, grabbed my hat, and went to Hannah's room and knocked on her door. When she opened it to come out, what I saw was an angel. Her beautiful red Irish hair was loosely pulled up to fit under a lace wide-brimmed yellow hat with a yellow rose adorning the left side. She wore a light-yellow dress and jacket. Both seemed to highlight her beauty. Once again, I just stood and stared blankly at her until brought back with the words, "Michael Twomey." Hannah smiled as I took her by the arm and headed to the deck. Although a semi-cloudy day, the temperature was in the low sixties. The weather was strictly secondary while holding onto each other as we strolled the promenade, feeling a gentle breeze and the smell of the sea, all made for an incredibly romantic day. As we walked the decks and explored the Titanic, we learned about each other. She came from Glanmire, Ireland, not terribly far from Cork City. Her family raised sheep for wool and meat. Yet, like the Irish of our times, it was a struggle to exist. She had been in London, working for a wealthy family. They were friends with the Rothschilds and had recommended her to Mrs. Rothschild, who was looking for a maidservant for the voyage across the Atlantic. Even though we had several hours together, the time seemed to go by too fast. I pulled out my pocket watch and saw it was time for us to get back and be ready for the Rothschilds. My heart almost gave way as Hannah squeezed my hand when we made it to her room.
"Michael, I have never been with anyone as sweet as you. I am looking forward to being with you every day of the crossing." I kissed her on the cheek. "I feel the same way as you." With that, she went inside, and I went to my room. As I changed into my uniform, my only thoughts were of Hannah and the future. I went to her room, and we walked to the Rothschilds' stateroom together. Hannah laid out Mrs. Rothschild’s evening dress. I got Mr. Rothschild's formal evening clothes readied. I heard laughing in the hallway. Hannah said that was them. Sure enough, the stateroom door opened and in entered the Rothschilds, still laughing.
She hugged him. "Martin, you are the funniest man I have ever met. I love you." They kissed. He looked at me. "Well Michael, while I dress, let's hear how you spent your day." As I assisted him in dressing, I told him about my day. I guess from the way I spoke, he picked up quickly that I had feelings for Hannah. "Michael, there is a dining area for servants. Call me a romantic, but I want you and Hannah to dine here in our stateroom. Order anything you want within reason. I may be a hopeless romantic, but I still work for my money." With that, he smiled. "Oh, by the way, you do not need to wear that damn uniform. A suit is alright." With a huge smile I said, "Thank you Sir, you are very kind." As we stepped into the main room, there was Mrs. Rothschild wearing a beautiful black evening gown with silver sequins, black forearm long gloves, and a dress hat that complemented her outfit. "Why, my darling, you could not look lovelier. You will be the prettiest woman sitting at Captain Smith's table," Mr. Rothschild said. She paused and said to him, "I hope you do not mind, but I suggested our two love birds order supper and enjoy it while we were out for the evening." "My dear, you must be physic; I said the same to Michael."
Both laughed while Hannah and I held back our laughs. They were truly a sweet and loving couple. It was easy to see from the way they spoke to each other and the looks they shared they loved each other. Married seventeen years and they remained like newlyweds. When the door closed, and they were off, I asked Hannah if she minded if we ordered supper now. I thought it would allow us more time after for talking. Truthfully, if you ask me what we each had for dinner, I could not even remember. I hung on every word Hannah spoke. I constantly caught myself looking at her beautiful sea-green eyes. When we finished, I stood up and asked Hannah for a dance. She just smiled and said, "We do not have any music." I reached out and took her hand. "Why, Ms. Fitzgerald, I will be your music this evening." She stood, and I put my arms around her and began humming an Irish favorite, "Molly Malone." Our dance was the finest of my life.
When I finished the song. Hannah looked at me and said. "Why, Mr. Twomey, surely you know more tunes. The night is young." With that, I hummed as I had never done before; and the two of us danced, holding onto the other, each not wanting to let the other go. But the sounds of the Rothschilds approaching made us scramble into work mode. I had already had Mr. Rothschild's night clothes out and on their bed. When he finished dressing, he told me I was to be back at 7:00am, as was Hannah. Even though we were both tired, neither wanted the night to end. I asked Hannah if she would like to take one more stroll on the upper deck. She grabbed ahold of my right hand and off we went. It was a chilly night, with the stars breaking through the openings in the clouds. I gave her my jacket and held her tight against me. Neither of us said anything. We just seemed to enjoy being with the other. When we reached the railing facing the bow of the ship, we stopped and just stared, both knowing in a few days we would be in New York. For those few minutes we stood silent, enjoying holding on to each other, gazing into the darkness of the North Atlantic until our future together was all that mattered. As she turned towards me, the light from a nearby room reflected off Hannah's face, giving it a glow. I leaned into her and kissed her soft lips as I pulled her tight into my arms. It seemed as if we kissed for an hour, not seconds. Hannah breathlessly whispered. "Michael, I know we just met; but I am falling in love with you." Those words meant everything to me. Looking into green eyes, I said, "I love you." We held each other tight and kissed again. Hannah and I had smiles bigger than a child on Christmas morning. I said to her, "I suspect we should go to our rooms and get some sleep." We made our way back to our cabins. We hugged and kissed for several minutes before saying our goodnights. I changed into my sleep shirt and got under my bedcover. I lay there, gazing at the ceiling. Hannah was my only thought. I thanked the Lord for bringing me onto the Titanic and bringing Hannah into my life. My future could not be brighter. Somewhere during the night, I fell asleep, only to be awakened by the alarm clock.
I had just finished dressing when there was a knock on my cabin door. It was Hannah. She wanted to walk together to the Rothschilds’ stateroom. Like the day before, Mr. Rothschild told us he and his wife would not need our services until dinner. Mrs. Rothschild asked how our day went yesterday. Hannah blushed, and I looked at the floor, which brought out a huge laugh from Mr. Rothschild. He looked at his wife and said. "Elizabeth, I foresee a wedding in New York." "Martin, I have a strong feeling you are correct." With that, the two smiled and headed for breakfast and socializing. Hannah looked at me. "Michael, isn't it exciting? The Rothschilds noticed."
We made our way to the dining area for the servants of the first-class passengers. After getting our breakfast, we sat at a corner table. Listening to us talk, one would think we had known each other for years. We finished breakfast and decided to explore the great ship. Our first stop was to see the Grand Staircase. One steward had told me about it when I boarded. When Hannah and I entered the grand lobby, the beauty of the Grand Staircase and the glass dome cover over it took our breath. I thought, how do you describe something so magnificent and do it justice? Hannah and I decided to go up the staircase to get a better view of the area below. I let her walk ahead of me and, in fact, stayed at the bottom. I could not help but watch as she made her way towards the top. Her light blue floral print dress and pure white brimmed hat glowed when the sun broke through the clouds and the glass dome let in sunbeams. To me, Hannah looked like a princess. When she realized I was not at her side, she turned and waved for me to catch up. I made my way up quickly, but with some manner of etiquette. After lunch, we continued our exploration of this massive ship. When we passed the Radio Room, I stuck my head in and asked if the Rothschilds had any messages. The Marconi operator handed me two slips of paper. I slipped them into my coat pocket and told Hannah we should get the messages to the Rothschilds. One would think in a ship with such a large first-class area, finding two people would prove difficult, but not so when you are looking for someone like the Rothschilds. I heard Mr. Rothschild's infectious laugh coming from the Café Parisian. We made our way in. I told the Maître d' I had a message for Mr. Rothschild and asked if he could deliver to him right away. I stood by to ensure Mr. Rothschild got the message. They seemed to have a conversation with the Maître d'. He pointed back at me, to which Mr. Rothschild waved me to his table. "Michael, thank you for getting these messages to me. Both were good news concerning my business. “Elizabeth and I were going to wait until we reached NewYork. Now seems to be the right time. Would you and Hannah stay on in our employ? You do not need to answer right now. Tell Hannah, and you two talk it over." I knew my answer and was sure I knew Hannah's. Before I left the table, he spoke. "Michael, we will be back in an hour to dress for dinner and dancing. Elizabeth and I want you and Hannah to enjoy another dinner on us." He smiled and with a laugh. "If that is alright with you?" Their kindness towards us was nothing I would have ever dreamed of from someone so wealthy. "Yes, Sir," I replied. When I went to the hallway and found Hannah, I told her we needed to head back and prepare the Rothschilds’ dinner clothes. As we made our way, I told her about the Rothschilds’ offer of employment in New York. We both agreed their offer was too good to refuse. Like the evening before, both were in a cheerful mood. I had to laugh when Mr. Rothschild attempted to be a tough guy. "Elizabeth, how many times have I told you I do not like to be late?" Not losing a second, Mrs. Rothschild barked back, "Martin, I love when you try to act like the boss. We all know who runs this family."
I thought the two were going to fall over from laughing. They wished us a good night and told us to take the rest of the evening off and enjoy each other's company. We could hear them laughing as they made their way down the hall. That night, unlike the night before, we ate supper, then snuggled on the sofa. We had fallen in love and enjoyed talking about our future. Both of us agreed working for the Rothschilds was a dream. We would tell them the next day. Our life and future could not have been brighter that Saturday night. Looking at the clock, I co