February 6th... Continued

I am so glad I began this letter to you for this voyage has become much more eventful than originally envisioned!

This morning at shuffleboard, a man who we had thought was a priest attempted to assassinate the Count! I was on a lounger with Violet, but Louis and Lord Covington miraculously saved the day by drawing pistols and shooting the terribly rude assassins. I've no idea where they had them hidden, but they certainly had more in a hand in saving the Count than his bodyguards! My brother-in-law, the hero! Searle would be so proud. 

Needless to say the Count was bundled off and I did not see anything of him for the rest of the day. Doctor Webber put his talents to work, saving the head steward to the Captain's delight. Violet disappeared off with him and I went to my luncheon with Annie. 

Annie is a delightful girl. So innocent, so wondrous. She is exactly the type who should not be out in the world without guidance. Needless to say I've taken it upon myself to help her. We convinced her she should still attend the Captain's table, and I am going to do my best to impart what wisdom I can in our short time on board. 

This afternoon the gentlemen played cards with some of the other First Class passengers, and apparently got cheated! I'm shocked to think that such dishonest practices have crept into First Class, but I suppose with all this new money, we will find more, shall we say, disreputable characters joining our tables. I know I really should not talk too much in this regard, but I've been with the Vanderbilts for so long it feels sometimes that I was born to this life.

Dinner at Captain's table was once again delicious. Once again I managed escorts for all the ladies, including Martha and Annie. Having consulted with Louis beforehand, I also managed to separate out a Mr. Crowe and Mr. Meeks, the two "gentlemen" from the game that afternoon. Without the support from each other, the two very quickly found themselves floundering the good company. I shall not weep if they do not reappear at table. 

I am off to bed after some more light reading. I know my retelling is brief, but it has been quite the day! I shall pick this up anon.

February 6th, 1925


I realise this won't be sent to you until I reach England, but there is too much not to write it down while I remember it all.

The Mauretania is beautiful, powerful, and a delightful ship. I spent much of our first day aboard just exploring the First Class areas. They have some beautifully upholstered, fitted areas and honestly it is easy to forget we are on a ship. Of course it has none of the rocking of a sailing ship, but there is a slight hum underneath your feet as you walk the promenade. A marvel of technology if ever there was one!

Our first day aboard, I confess to having been too excited by the prospect of travelling once again to attend to my duties in the social circle. I just had to explore the ship and all its nooks and crannies, so while my compatiriots were off enjoying meeting new people, I was pottering about looking at all the most amazing things. Did you know that the last time I was on one of these, Searle and I were returning home from India at the end of our Honeymoon? It has made me slightly out of sorts remembering, which no doubt explains, but does not excuse, my poor behaviour. 

In the evening we were invited to attend the Captain's table, and while very little happened during the day, it was to be knives and aperatifs over dinner! Clearly our Captain is a man of refined tastes and has set his guests at play. The social graces have been dusted off for all concerned.

Our fellow First Class passengers who joined us tonight were a mixed lot. We had a real life Count who arrived aboard amongst the most bodyguards I've ever seen. Violet seems quite taken with him, and he her, and oh would it not be lovely to see her happy even just for this voyage? A whirllwind romance might just shake that cynical chip off her shoulder and allow her to find love again. I do hope she does not do anything too forward, as I know she did not sleep in her bed as it was empty when I was awakened in the dead of night. 

The good Doctor also seems to have taken a shine to another of our passengers, a female academic named Martha. She seems nice enough, and certainly we were gratedful for additional female presence at the table. This boat is full of men!

Actually, it seems quite full of academics as well, for as well as Martha and Lord Covington, there are two professors travelling aboard. I only met one, a Professor Fuda, who attended the Captain's table with us, but had the misfortune of truly being outclassed. His field of study appears to be ancient history, and his viewpoints seem to coincide with that time for he was decidedly antiquated and out of touch with the reality of emancipated women. Naturally, his old fashioned views were exposed for what they were in the social play that was dinner and I have a feeling he shall not be joining us again. 

There was actually another who was severely deficient in understanding the game, a Joe Rangel from Arizona. He is young and brash which no doubt serves him well in the West, but only shows him for a fool in good society. He had the misfortune to call Louis's honour into question, which was not just laughed at, but pounced upon. The poor fellow never really had a chance. He is outclassed in every sense of the word and well out of his depth in high society.

Joe's companion, though, is a young woman named Annie Anderson. She reminds me of myself a long time ago, when society was new and scary. I can't help but want to take her under my wing and show her a better way. I've arranged for lunch with her today, and I do hope I'll be a decent companion as I did not sleep well last night. 

I shall continue this later as I am due to accompany Violet, Louis and Lord Covington to a shuffleboard game with the Count. Who knew Louis's sentimentality would come in handy?

February 3rd, 1925

My dear Betty,

I apologise for not writing sooner, but all of a sudden everything has become a whirl. We are sailing away for Europe tomorrow on the Mauretania. Myself, Violet, Louis, Lord Covington, and Dr Webber will be travelling first to London to seek news of this Gavigan and meet with the Penhew Foundation, and then on to the continent and Africa in search of answers.

As you can imagine, getting everything ready for our departure has been quite challenging in the short space of time we have. The staff were very helpful, especially when Louis informed them he'd be keeping them on in our absence, in closing the house and making ready for our departure. I do believe they loved Mr and Mrs Vanderbilt in their own way and are delighted we are looking into things. 

Mary is coming with me. It would seem prudent to keep her from gossiping but beyond that the girl is quite reliable. Her skill in doing one's hair really is lovely.

Violet and I naturally had to go shopping as I no longer owned good travelling attire. Dr Webber sent his secretary, a sharp young woman, with us and I do believe she will be joining us on the voyage. We successfully bought all we sought, although a good parasol that would fit both the climates of wintry England and the airy Africa seemed beyond the New York scene, so I had to settle for both.

We are fully packed now, just turning the lamps down for the evening. It was difficult to get both of paled in the time allotted, but Louis insists on the next boat out. For some reason Louis insisted on bringing his Father's shuffleboard stick. Perhaps he's being sentimental after all?

The house seems strange and quiet with the furniture all covered and the windows shuttered. All my tasks are done and I write this with the distinct impression I should be doing something, but for the life of me I can't think what. I am excited about once more travelling as you know it really feels my element. I may fit in to High Society, but I am an International traveller at heart.

I plan to spend the evening reading a book we finally located called the Dark Sects of Africa. I doubt you would enjoy it, but it has illuminated some of the goings on lately. It seems a cult related to that in this book was behind the murders and while I dread facing anyone would worship in such heathen fashions, I cannot help but be curious as to what we shall find.

To date we know the symbol carved on the heads of the Vanderbilts and Jackson Elias, which I won't detail as its rather crude, is connected to one of the cults in the book, the Bloody Tongues. I suspect some of the negroes from Africa brought their customs to New York and our family got caught in their insanity.

I suppose I should mention that the book was actually stolen from the Harvard library. I doubt they are missing it, and I will return in when I have finished reading it, but it does give the whole affair a certain ambiance that is exhilarating. 

Despite the recent tragedy and scandals, I am looking forward to this trip immensely. I haven't had much cause to travel since Searle passed and I have missed it. 

I will keep you updated as we go, but I hope to be having such a good time that it may be infrequent. 

Wish us safe journey!



January 30,1925

Oh Betty! 

Although I was greatly saddened that you were unable to make it out this week for the funeral, perhaps it is for the best you stayed in Chicago. I hate to admit it but scandal has doggedly pursuing this family ever since the untimely deaths of our matriarch and patriarch.

As I am sure you guessed, I have been hugely busy all week with arrangements for the funeral, much of which has been sitting and quietly nodding as the vultures  expressed condolences while eyeing up the silver. It's been terribly trying, but Violet has been there whenever I would have stumbled. I know you would've loved to have played that role had Chicago not been snowed in, but do not fear, I was in good hands.

The whole family turned out, even the main line of the Vanderbilts which was such a relief as I didn't have to worry that they would cause any trouble. Good breeding really does show through.

Of course the rest of Searle's siblings came home, and it's been a trial to keep everyone fed. Cook has been a trooper, up at all hours. That woman is magnificent with a ladle. 

Sadly, it was one of the family that brought the first of the scandals to our feet. I pray this has not left the household, although I fear little Mary's mouth, though Cook has been kind enough to keep her busy that I hope her gossip has not had time to spread.

I know Louis would have kept me out of it if he could, but in the end I was forced to play lookout like a common ruffian in our own hall for him! I am getting ahead of myself though. 

It would appear that Mr. Crowley, Dot's husband and therefor our brother in law, is in the habit of frequenting brothels! I was shocked, to be sure. Mr. Crowley took umbrage with Violet and had the audacity to lay hands on her in my house! Fortunately, Dr. Webber was on hand to subdue Mr Crowley's unrepentant and unacceptable behaviour. 

While I know in certain circles hitting a woman is nothing new, I do wish that the world would move forward a little. Women have the vote now for god's sake; this is the 20th Century!

Louis, in his questionable wisdom, decided to have a chat with the man involving cold water and blood. I didn't look too closely, but I did caution him against turfing the man straight out (as was his inclination) on account of Dot and the children. Louis grudgingly allowed him to stay, but I fear there is no love lost between the two. It has already come to blows and that is never a good thing for peaceful coexistence.

The second of the scandals happened at the very funeral itself. I swear to you, I shall be boycotting that Hotel for the rest of my life. 

The service was good and respectful and very well attended. The Vanderbilts had many friends and even more acquaintances. The sermon was lovely and the flowers beautiful wven in the depths of winter.

It was very emotional for me, of course, as they were interred in the mausoleum with my beloved Searle. It all seemed quite too fresh and painful and had I not had to keep up appearances for Louis I fear my emotions would have entirely overwhelmed me.

We repaired to the Hotel and the fourth course was just being served when there began a racket from the kitchen. Servants began running through the dining area! I could not believe my eyes. Louis went to investigate while I found the manager and began to explain how entirely inappropriate it is to allow servants to run amuck when the guests are still dining and how inappropriate running at all was at a funeral.

The man had the gall to just stand there dumbstruck! A huge racket was coming from the kitchen, and the servants must have somehow affected the good sense of society and started a panic! The whole of the funeral procession began running amok, leaving the venue in droves and we hadn't even gotten to the fifth course! 

The stampede by those careless servants caused a number of serious injuries, including a few deaths. No doubt there is a desire to be swept away by such things, but it is just not done! Have they no respect for the dead?

Louis didn't want to talk about it, no doubt too distraught by the rudeness of it all. I would have been livid had people showed such disrespect to my parents. 

I fear for the fallout from all this. I am tempted to suggest that we leave town for a while until New York society forgets about this regrettable incident. While the blame lies solely with the Hotel who hired such unreliable staff, I fear society may not realise that and blame Louis or myself. 

It is late, and the day has been long. I shall write more when I can. I am glad you will be untouched by these awful incidents. 

Yours truly,