Thursday, August 02, 2012

Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the Titanic

Abingdon Press – historical epic

Available in bookstores, Amazon, Crossings, Rhapsody, et al

By Yvonne Lehman

This is Yvonne's 50th novel. She is a best-selling, award-winning author who founded, and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for

25 years. She now directs the Blue Ridge "Autumn in the Mountains" Novelist Retreat held annually at Ridgecrest NC ( She is a mentor with the Christian Writers Guild. A Knight to Remember will be released in April and Let it Snow before Christmas.

"The sinking of the Titanic initiated hundreds of human dramas. Master storyteller Yvonne Lehman now presents us with one of those threads, amidst the myriad sagas, that exemplifies the overall impact this mega-event had on the survivors and their subsequent generations. The actions are vibrant, the motions are intense, and the outcomes are compelling" – Dr. Dennis E. Hensley, author

Is love more powerful than the pain of loss?

Lydia Beaumont and her new friend Caroline Chadwick plan Lydia's wedding aboard the "grandest ship ever built." Yet their lives take a tragic turn when the "unsinkable" Titanic goes down. This epic tale of faith and perseverance follows their lives and the lives of their descendants as they struggle with all that was lost on that fateful night and what the future holds for those brave enough to face it.

C lothed in her shame, Lydia Beaumont stood on the deck of

the Titanic, waiting for John. Each evening since they departed

two days ago from Southampton, she and John strolled here

after dining. Other first-class passengers found their own special

spots, like congregants in a church sanctuary.

Oh, the church analogy brought thoughts of condemnation

she'd rather not entertain. The grandeur of the greatest ship

ever built had pushed aside her personal feelings, any doubts

or guilt that had so beset her in previous weeks. She'd tried

to forget her fears by planning the trip, convincing her father

to allow her to go, and helping her maid pack the trunks.

She thought back to the day before sailing while she was

staying at the South Western Hotel. She'd made the acquaintance

of several passengers, her favorite being Caroline

Chadwick, in her mid-twenties. She and her husband, Sir

William, had arrived from London and were awaiting the

ship's maiden voyage to America.

Staring out the hotel suite window at the magnificent

structure, four city blocks long and ten stories high, had accelerated

her heartbeat. However, walking up the gangplank to

1board the ship and seeing the grand staircase took her breath

away. Even Craven Dowd, the president of her father's company

and accustomed to the best, commented on the luxury as

they were led to their suite rooms.

John Ancell glanced her way, his deep blue eyes shining

with excitement beneath raised eyebrows and lips turning

into a mischievous grin. Had Craven not been entering the

room between hers and John's, her beloved would likely say

aloud what he only mouthed, "This is no toy ship."

Lydia saw Caroline and Sir William entering their stateroom.

Caroline halted at her doorway and called, "Are you

going on deck to wave goodbye?"

"Ah, we must do that," Craven answered for them as if the

matter were settled.

"Yes," Lydia echoed, "I'll be along shortly."

"Just peek in when you're ready," Caroline said. "The door

will be open."

Stepping from the private promenade deck to explore the

sitting room, and then the bedrooms, Lydia was amazed. Her

father, Cyril Beaumont, had endowed their home with the

finest furnishings, but her personal knowledge and university

studies in art and design made her realize she'd stepped into a

world of unmatched luxury.

She entered John's and Craven's rooms. The furnishings

represented various countries. "Reminds me of the Ritz

in Paris," she said of Craven's bedroom. He gestured to the

furnishings around the room. "Chippendale. Adams. French


She returned to her bedroom, where Marcella was hanging

gowns in the wardrobe. Craven walked through the adjoining

door that she must remember to keep locked. "The White

Star Line has actually outdone their advertising." He glanced

around. "Not only were they correct in saying it's one hundred

feet longer than the Mauretania and bigger than the Olympic,

but the other ships are like . . . toys."

His pause was so brief one who didn't know him well

wouldn't suspect it was deliberate. But she knew, then reprimanded

herself for being overly sensitive. Craven's adding,

"toys," could mean the word slipped out before he thought

about what he was saying. However, Craven always thought

before speaking.

But there was a certain amount of truth to it. Further exploration

could wait. After peeking in for John, then Caroline, the

two women walked ahead of Craven, John, and Sir William.

"I've been to Windsor." Caroline grinned, indicating she

wasn't bragging. "But, from what little I've seen already, I feel

like the Queen of England without the responsibility."

Even the men chuckled. Lydia knew John couldn't make

comparisons, because he hadn't traveled extensively. But

Craven and William talked of the ship's design and of its opulence

with no expense spared. She felt rather like a princess as

she ascended the grand staircase beneath the glass dome that

allowed the noonday sun to anoint them with a golden glow.

She glanced back at the staircase as they moved along the

deck and to the railing.

Passengers waved and people on the dock did the same.

They must be feeling sheer envy.

She jumped when a sound like a pistol shot rang out.


And another.

Happy goodbyes changed to gasps and questioning.

"Nothing to fear," a man called out. "The lines tying the

New York are giving way." That sounded rather fearsome to


Another said the suction from the Titanic's gigantic propellers

were pulling the other ship away from its berth.

The ship headed for the side of the Titanic. However, deckhands

stopped the New York's drift and the Titanic steamed out

of the harbor.

A man said playfully, "You don't christen a ship like the

Titanic with a bottle of champagne, but with another ship."

Several passengers laughed.

A woman warned, "It's an omen."

Lydia didn't live by omens. But the word made her think of

signs. Robins were a sign of spring. Snow was a sign of winter.

There were . . . personal signs. She swallowed hard and shook

away the thought.

That woman was wrong about the New York's breaking

away being a sign. It hadn't rammed into the Titanic.

Maybe she was wrong about her . . . signs.

For two and a half days, she'd allowed herself the privilege

of denial and had enjoyed John, her new friends, and the

grandeur all around her. She'd explored the ship's grand shops,

the restaurants, the women's library, and the Parisian sidewalk


Now as she stood looking out to sea, visualizing their destination

of New York, she had to face reality.

Her long fur coat covered her silk dress. Her kid-gloved

hands held onto the steel railing. The bitter-cold air burned

her face, and her warm breath created gray wisps, reminiscent

of Craven's cigar smoke, when he wasn't making entertaining

smoke circles.

Only a moment ago she'd said to John, "Finish your dessert.

I don't want any tonight. I need a breath of fresh air."

That uneasiness in her stomach had nothing to do with


John and Craven slid back their chairs and stood when

she pushed away from the table. She felt Craven's gaze but

met John's eyes that questioned. Usually after dining, Craven

joined other men in the smoking lounge. She and John would

walk onto the deck, They would stand shoulder to shoulder.

With his arm around her waist, he'd speak of the aesthetic

beauty of the ocean and sky. She'd dream of her future life

with him.

She shivered now, looking out to where the sun had sunk

into the horizon, analogous of her having sunk into the depth

of yielding to temptation. A mistake seemed much worse

when one was . . . caught. Only four weeks had passed. But

she knew.

She would be an outcast if others knew. The night they'd

expressed their love physically, she'd never felt so fulfilled. But

with passion sated, guilt entered. She felt violated. Not by

John, but by her own weakness. A decent woman should say

no, keep the relationship pure until marriage.

Oh, she knew they both were at fault. But had she, more

deliberately than she wanted to admit, lured him into the

physical relationship because she was afraid of losing him? He

wanted her father's blessing before marrying her. She doubted

he would ever have it.

It was a wondrous thing to be loved, but a fearsome thing

to be tainted.

For now, only she and John knew about their tainted love.

She had thought she and John could face anything


But anyone?


Her father?

Her father said she was all he had after they were both devastated

by her mother's death from a deadly lung disease and a

stillbirth. However, Lydia had had the best of tutors and nannies.

She had been accompanied to the appropriate outings by

Lady Grace Frazier, a middle-aged widow. Her father and Lady

Grace became close companions, although he vowed he had

neither time nor inclination to marry. His heart attack last

year so frightened and weakened him, he'd made it clear that

although Lydia would inherit the business, he was grooming

Craven to run it.

She'd surprised him by expressing a desire to learn more

about the business and win the respect of the company's

American executives. She suggested that John accompany

them on the trip, since he could explain his designs better

than Craven. Beaumont Company wanted his designs, and

John wanted to be sure that he wanted to divulged those

secrets to the company. The matter would be discussed and

any agreements drawn up in a legal contract.

"You may have a business head on you after all," her father

said at her suggestion about John. He'd meant that as praise,

so she smiled and thanked him.

Although he and others often complimented her on having

inherited her mother's beauty, Lydia thought her looks

paled in comparison with her mother's loveliness and grace.

She'd inherited her father's ambition and strong-mindedness

rather than her mother's submissive attitudes, but he never

acknowledged this. He did, however, occasionally admonish

her to behave in a more ladylike fashion.

Her father and Craven cultivated identical goals. One was

ensuring that Beaumont Railroad Company continued to be

number one in the world. Two was that Lydia become Mrs.

Craven Dowd. And in that order.

At one time she'd felt that marriage to Craven was her destiny.

Her friends proclaimed it her good fortune. To be honest,

however, rather than sitting in the plush coach of a noisy,

smelly, smoke-puffing Beaumont train, she preferred flipping

a switch, watching a little Ancell toy train huff and puff, its

wheels turn, and its engine chug-chug along, as she laughed

delightedly with John.

Hearing footsteps, Lydia took a deep breath. The cold air

in her throat made her feel as though she'd swallowed too

large a bite of the French ice cream served at dinner.

Before feeling his touch on her exposed wrist, she knew

this wasn't John, but Craven. Like many women, she liked

the aroma of his after-dinner cigars, offset by a slight fragrance

of cologne. But she preferred John's light, fresh, faintly musky



Turning her head, she glanced at him. "Where's John?"

Craven's deep breath didn't seem to affect his throat.

Likely, it was heated, as his face had been when she told him

she couldn't see him anymore. "He's sitting at the table." His

eyebrows lifted. "Writing."

"That's what poets do." She glanced beyond his shoulder,

hoping John would appear.

"Lydia, there's something I want to make clear."

Facing the ocean that reflected the star-spangled night, she

was reminded of the spark in Craven's eyes earlier, when he'd

kissed the back of her hand and said she looked lovely. John

had smiled, as if he agreed.

She'd requested they not sit with other passengers this

night, but at a smaller, more intimate table. She'd planned to

tell John after Craven left. But then she'd experienced that

queasiness. She felt it now.

"I want you to know," Craven said. "I understand why you

wanted to take this trip."

He couldn't.

He mustn't. John would be ruined and in the process they

both would face a worse fate than if she'd stayed in London.

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