Murder on the titanic, p.1
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       Murder on the Titanic, p.1

           Evelyn Weiss
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Murder on the Titanic
n the Titanic

  Evelyn Weiss

  Contents

  Author’s statement

  Principal fictional characters

  1. Ghosts, made of ice

  2. Voices of terror

  3. The dead of the Titanic

  4. Rooftops in darkness

  5. An inspector calls

  6. A list of suspects

  7. The labyrinth

  8. Embarkation

  9. From scandal to murder

  10. The last lifeboat

  11. Icebergs

  12. The Third-Class Smoking Room

  13. Among the slaughterhouses

  14. At the Hotel Metropole

  15. The man from the maze

  16. Night in New York

  17. Empires and rivalries

  18. Fear and trembling

  19. Into the woods

  20. A young lady in a state of undress

  21. Flight plans

  22. Blue water, blue sky

  23. At Chelsea Piers

  24. A volley of gunfire

  25. Secrets under hypnosis

  26. A council of war

  27. Shame and jealousy

  28. Lethally dangerous

  29. Shots in the dark

  30. In Hades

  31. Simple logic

  32. The fifth person

  33. Death on the poop deck

  34. Sunshine

  Taster extract from the sequel...

  To my Family

  Copyright © 2016 Evelyn Weiss

  ISBN 9781370159260

  Author’s statement

  I’m Evelyn Weiss – spouse, parent, explorer, mountaineer and painter. My interests include history, science, art and philosophy.

  This book is copyright © by Evelyn Weiss. I assert all my legal rights as the author of this book Murder on the Titanic, including my right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the book’s author. I reserve all legal rights to myself. No part of this book Murder on the Titanic may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or distributed or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without my prior permission.

  Murder on the Titanic is the first of Agnes Frocester’s many adventures – I’ve provided, as the final element of this e-volume, a taster of her second adventure, Murder on the Western Front, set in 1915.

  I dedicate Murder on the Titanic to my family, and I thank them for their support. I’m also grateful to all those individuals and families whose lives were torn apart by the Titanic disaster, but whose grief, loss and heroism were recording in one way or another. Their stories have helped, one hundred years later, to inform this fictional adventure story.

  Murder on the Titanic is a work of fiction: subject to the exceptions described below, the story and all names and characters portrayed are fictitious. No identification with actual persons living or dead is intended or should be inferred. The exceptions are, firstly, some named historical persons who take no active part in the story, and secondly three exceptions as follows: aboard the RMS Olympic, Captain Herbert James Haddock, and aboard the RMS Titanic, Fifth Officer Harold Lowe and Junior Wireless Operator Harold Bride. I have given these three persons fictional roles in this story in keeping with their historically documented leadership and courage. For example, the actions of Harold Lowe in ensuring the safe loading of Lifeboat No.14 and his leading of the rescue of survivors in the water are well-documented. I merely add my grain of sand to the mountain of factual and fictional accounts of his heroism.

 

  Principal fictional characters

  Agnes Frocester, American: a survivor of the Titanic

  Viscount Percy Spence, British: murdered aboard the Titanic

  Professor Felix Axelson, Swedish: a private detective and hypnotist

  Kitty Murray, British: a survivor of the Titanic

  Sir Chisholm Strathfarrar, British: employer of Kitty, a survivor of the Titanic

  Inspector Trench, British: a Scotland Yard police detective

  Calvin Gilmour, American: a successful businessman, a survivor of the Titanic

  Gwyneth Gilmour, American: Calvin’s wife, a survivor of the Titanic

  Colette Morgan, American: an FBI agent, a survivor of the Titanic

  Rufus du Pavey, British: a racing driver and pioneer pilot, a survivor of the Titanic

  Daniel Carver, a survivor of the Titanic

  Douglas Freshing, American: a survivor of the Titanic

  Lord Buttermere, British: a passenger aboard the Olympic

  James Nolan, Irish-American: a New York ‘businessman’

  Lieutenant Bouchard, American: a New York police officer on the Titanic

  1.Ghosts, made of ice

  “What can you see?”

  “Darkness everywhere. Cries in the night. Thousands of voices, crying for their lives.”

  “Look. Concentrate on the darkness. Tell me what you see there.”

  “I see... white shapes on the black. Ghosts, made of ice.” The girl’s voice shakes in fear: I can hear the saliva rattle in her throat. “Please, please. I’m scared. I don’t want to look any more.”

  “Look at the white shapes. Tell me about them.” But the man’s demands are cut off by a scream. And a different voice speaks.

  “For God’s sake, Axelson. Stop this now. Get her out of this.”

  Listening at keyholes is not one of my more ladylike traits. And, as Lady Blanche Lockesley sometimes reminds me, a lady’s companion needs to be ladylike. But – when the world-famous Professor Axelson is in the house, and solving the century’s most mysterious murder by hypnosis – wild horses couldn’t have dragged me away. My curiosity has led me to sneak up here, to listen at the door: now, the scream pierces me. Standing alone, here in the shadows, I’m taken back into the blackness of the Atlantic night: the churning waters, the vicious cold, the flickering lights, the voices...

  Kitty’s cries finally die down. Sir Chisholm Strathfarrar – Blanche’s brother, in whose London home we are – has succeeded in stopping the hypnosis. I can hear Kitty’s sobs as he comforts her. “Calm yourself, my dear. You were rescued, you’re safe. You survived the Titanic.”

  “The girl could have told us more, Chisholm. I’m sure she holds the key to the murder of Viscount Spence. Yes, she was distressed – but a patient’s fear can unlock hidden memories.” Professor Axelson speaks as if Kitty isn’t there with them. “Where a witness such as Miss Kitty has seen horrors, his or her conscious mind often cannot face them. But under my hypnosis, the terrible things that a witness has seen can surface again and be used as criminal evidence. My paper to the Royal Society proves it...”

  “Frankly, I’d settle for fewer hidden memories, Axelson, if obtaining them means a young woman’s terror. Good God, I’ve not seen distress like it, not since –”

  “Her suffering is very temporary. After all, she’s only a servant.”

  “Well she’s my servant, Axelson. And while she’s under my roof, she’s not going through that ordeal again.”

  Although only in his mid-thirties, Chisholm Strathfarrar is widely respected. Formerly a British Army captain who fought in the South African Boer War, he now holds a senior position in the government’s Home Office. As we sit for dinner, he glances across to me, a faint smile beneath his mustache, before speaking to the butler.

  “Baxter – Kitty’s not in the kitchen, is she? I told Mrs Sharp that she should be excused from all duties this evening. She needs to rest.”

  “That’s correct, Sir.”

  “Thank you, Baxter. You may serve dinner.” I hear, as well as the Scots edge to Chisholm’s educated accent, a hint of conc
ern in his voice. As the first course is served, I think: he’s worried about that girl. Kitty is not recovering from her ordeal on the Titanic.

  It’s now been ten months since Chisholm, Blanche and I, accompanied by Kitty, set out on that voyage where so many were destined to die. Every single second of that night of 15th April 1912 is etched in my blood: but I keep those images, those sounds, in parts of my mind that I never visit. I simply say to myself: ‘Agnes, you need to move on with your life: you can’t afford to dwell on nightmares.’ Because in truth, I’m afraid that if I think back to the Titanic, to what actually happened to me, the terror that I felt that night would take hold of me again, suck me down into darkness.

  However, one thing about that night is clear in my mind. In the final terrible hours, those moments when I felt that I was touching the very gates of Hell, Kitty could not be found. I believed that she had died in those black waters. But when we reached New York, Chisholm searched for her and found her, in a hospital in Harlem. As soon as she was well enough to travel, he brought her back to London with us. She still suffers nightmares. Truth to tell, we all do. But for her, it’s worse. Every time I look into her face, I see a tremble in her lip, fear in her eyes: I sense barely suppressed panic. I think: she’s still trapped. In her mind, Kitty is still aboard the Titanic.

  A soft clatter: the first course of dinner is cleared away. The servants move silently, gathering up our plates. The cutlery is the ancient family silver, brought here to Chisholm’s London house from the Strathfarrars’ ancestral home, Glenlui Castle in Scotland. As we sit here the gaslights give a soft glow to our faces, the folds of our clothes, the paintings hung round the

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