The Brittle Sea: Historical Fiction – Chapter 2

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Last Updated on October 30, 2022 by ADMIN-TOM

Magda’s Journey – April 1912

She was born Magda and her name became synonymous with early 20th Century American history. But in ways that nobody understood, Magda will be lost, and Maggie will replace her. But, for now, in this brief fraction of time that is being played out before us, we will call her by her given name, Magda.

In the here and now of her young life, Magda, with almost a girlish inquisitiveness, stole a sneak view of the mighty ship, though in reality all she could see was the side of the immense black hull through the gap between a row of buildings. She stood, looking through the window of the White Star Line’s ticket office, dockside in Southampton. The view between the rows of buildings was small, as was the view of the ship’s funnels, showing just above the same buildings.

I’m not sure I can do this, Miss, not without proper authority.”

The girl in Magda soon dissolved and her face turned a grim shade of distaste as a small sneer crept up onto her lip. She turned and gave the ticket clerk full vent of her fury.

I don’t care about what you think,” she shouted, the words echoing about the large but empty office.

The ticket clerk was taken aback and literally stood back at the force of the beautiful young woman’s angry outburst.

Magda didn’t wait for an answer and opened her daytime bag, retrieved her purse, opened it, and pulled out a large five-pound note. Magda slapped the money on the desk between her and the clerk. “This will pay for the changes I want,” she said in a much lower and sweeter tone.

Her anger turned to sweetness so quickly the clerk was confused, but he quickly laid his trembling hand on the large white fiver and slipped the money across the desk and into his pocket. It took a few minutes to issue new tickets, but in the end Miss Magda Asparov became Mrs Magda Turner. In just two days’ time she would be boarding the magnificent new ship on her maiden voyage across the Atlantic to New York, and this name change signified a new start to Magda. No more would she be a common peasant girl in Ukraine. Now she was a woman of substance, a woman with a place in society and a first-class cabin on the most magnificent Ocean-going liner of the day.

As Magda left the office, she breathed in the crisp sea air, ignoring the smell of oil and other unknown smells. She would soon be boarding, and the day felt superb… indeed the day felt the same as the name of the ship, Titanic.


The great day had arrived, and Magda was agog at the sheer mass of people, horses, and carts massing on the quayside. Even automobiles, unheard of where she came from in the Ukraine, a form of transport that didn’t need a horse or ox to pull it. It was something she had only heard tell of and never seen up close, a miracle of the modern world she now found herself immersed in. It was overwhelming.

Many people were forming orderly queues, awaiting their turn to embark. They were in the same situation as Magda, wide eyed and awed by the sight of the mighty ship. At the other end of the scale, and literally at the other end of the great ship, were the rich, the famous and some from Britain’s landed gentry, who were boarding with their families. Their staff and other servants embarked with the riffraff further down the quayside.

When Magda boarded, she followed a steward down the corridors to her cabin, all the time admiring the elegance of the surroundings. Placing Magda’s luggage in the room, the steward stood back, close to the open door, and coughed, once, very discreetly. “Will there be anything else, Miss?”

Magda turned and looked the steward in the eyes. “No. You may go.”

The steward looked surprised but said nothing and closed the heavy door behind him as he left.

Magda had no intention of tipping anyone, not because her funds were low, which they were, but because she saw no reason to help anyone along the way if they were doing a job they were paid for. It would be several hours before the great ship was due to set sail, so Magda took the chance to go up onto the promenade deck for a stroll. On the way up she was passed by multiple stewards carrying large cases and more trunks of clothing than Magda had ever seen. The stewards all smiled at her, not quite out of politeness, more out of lust, being young men with mostly hot Irish blood flowing through their veins.

Can I help you, miss?”

The man’s voice was rich and had a lovely lilt to it. Magda turned to see a handsome young officer, looking concerned. “No, I’m fine, she said. Thank you.”

I can tell by your accent you’re from the south,” he said with a beaming smile.

South?” Magda’s brow furrowed.

Cork, at a guess.”

Suddenly Magda realised he thought she was Irish. “No,” she said with a small laugh, “I’m from a small village in Ukraine.”

But your accent…”

It was my father’s wish that I should not sound like a peasant when I was taught English. This really is the first opportunity I have had to test my language skills out. I must say, I am disappointed. I thought my accent was neutral.”

The officer’s smile broadened. “I think it’s a lovely accent, Miss. Now how can I be of service?”

Can you point me towards the promenade deck, I wish to look over this lovely liner of yours.”

Of course,” he said, turning. “Just follow me, Miss.”

Magda did as the officer bid and trailed in his footsteps, all the while marvelling at the magnificence of the Titanic. Once the officer had led her to the promenade deck he bowed slightly, raised his hat, and bid her a safe journey. As it turned out, Magda enjoyed her walk and in the coming days would spend as much time as possible on this deck, until in the early hours of one morning, fate took a hand in Magda’s life.

Copyright © Tom Kane June 2020
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The Brittle Sea: Historical Fiction Reviews

The Titanic disaster is the catalyst that sparks a bloody feud between two families in early 20th century America. A captivating, inventive read, with dark, sinister characters & a gripping storyline.

Very engaging and compelling page-turner, which keeps you hooked right to the end. Well worth a read and I’m looking forward to the next instalment of this series.

“𝑨 𝒘𝒐𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒓𝒇𝒖𝒍 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒅… …𝒆𝒏𝒈𝒂𝒈𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒑𝒆𝒍𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒑𝒂𝒈𝒆-𝒕𝒖𝒓𝒏𝒆𝒓… …𝑲𝒂𝒏𝒆 𝒉𝒂𝒔 𝒎𝒂𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒇𝒖𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝒘𝒆𝒂𝒗𝒆𝒅 𝒂 𝒕𝒉𝒓𝒊𝒍𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒑𝒍𝒐𝒕…”

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The final book in the trilogy, The Brittle Sky, is also available now on kindle and will be released on Nook, Kobo and Apple Books on 6th September 2022.

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