When I came to the diner two porters were standing about outside the door. In their get straight and pressed slacks they looked rather out of place in steerage. Those exiting the diner were quite vagabond even compared to myself who, having slept in my clothes was near an expiration date with certainty.
“Excuse me sir,” I said to the the porter I thought looked the kinder.
“Yes?” he asked, turning his head toward me.
I almost ran for the hills, Hildebrand, if there had been on the chip. The fellow had the largest mole on his nose I’d ever seen.
I composed myself and said, “I am sadly out of funds but am an able body who’d like to earn his meals.”
“You’d take that up with the cook around her,” said the man.
I looked down the hallway. I know not how much time you’ve modern day steamers, Hildebrand, but they are dreadfully claustrophobic places. The halls, in steerage at least, aren’t wide enough for two to walk abreast. The halls, stretching out before me seemed to lose all relevance in distance. Where there was a curve at the very end of the hall and where there was a door seemed to be nearly a hand’s breadth away. I do hate these closed spaces.
Without a word I walked away. My appetite was indeed gone. Vanquished by the blast of unfortunate vertigo. But I had no desire to work for a kitchen. Really, Hildebrand, I am a dignified layabout despite being a layabout. I know you shake your head, but I will not debase myself with washing dishes or wiping down tables.
I walked down the same hall I had just come to dislike so strongly, turned the corner and followed the exit signs to one of the elevators. The porter there asked if I were going up. I told him I was.
“All the way up, sir?”
“Yes. I need some fresh air,” I told him.
“Very well then.”
On the deck we hadn’t even pushed off yet. Cuxhaven was socked in with dense mist and the air was chill and moist. Goose flesh popped out on my skin. A great many people seemed to be upon the deck, though I hadn’t had anyone else in my elevator. heads with hats and pony tales clustered here and there and hung over the railings on all sides. Suddenly the crowd, I among them, jumped about a foot in the air as the fog horn of RMS Sixsmith blasted forth. And again it went, long and hard and lonely into the gray day that would surely be left behind once we were away from the continent. I covered my ears, the blast was so loud. Not at all agreeable before breakfast–even if I had lost my appetite.
If it wasn’t my luck though, Hildebrand, we began to move at that very moment. Pushed off just as I had arrive on the deck. The crowd cheered and whistled and I couldn’t help joining in. This was, for me, the continuation of my life. If I had stayed upon the continent I would not have fared well. But now my survival was ensured. How could I not rejoice. That is, at least, how it felt.