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Friday, 30 November 2012

Sailing for home

Thursday, November 30th., Lusitania at sea.

The Dorans, T.B. Wells, Inglish, John Macrae, Davis, and May Preston came to see me off; not to mention several reporters and photographers. The Lusitania left at 9.30 a.m., having been delayed half an hour waiting for the mails. I met the Forbeses on board about 11, and Edgar Selwyn at lunch. Mrs. Selwyn much later. These two had gone to bed at 2.15.

Edgar Selwyn and Margaret Mayo Selwyn
Edgar Selwyn (1875 – 1944) was a prominent figure in American theatre and film in the first half of the 20th Century. He co-founded Goldwyn Pictures in 1916. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Selwyn flourished in the Broadway theatre as an actor, playwrightdirector, and producer from 1899 to 1942. With his brother Archie Selwyn he founded the theatrical production company The Selwyns which produced plays on Broadway from 1919 to 1932. The Selwyns owned several theatres in the United States. Selwyn also worked in Hollywood, producing and directing eight films between 1929 and 1942. In addition, he wrote two screenplays and many more films were adapted from his original plays. He died in Los Angeles, California.

Either they or the Forbeses had received a lot of fruit and flowers, and Forbes had installed a supply of champagne at the foot of the table in ice. I helped to consume everything except the flowers. I had, nevertheless, previously sworn neither to drink nor smoke on board. But having drunk, I thought I might as well buy the best cigar and the oldest brandy on the ship; which I did, and stood liqueurs round. This was after dinner. Perhaps I was coming it a bit strong?

I was overcome by sleepiness both before and after lunch, and also before dinner; the air gave me a headache. I was very gloomy, spent all afternoon alone and had tea alone, and wondered what the hell was the matter with life anyway. I was all right after I had tasted champagne again.

We spent the whole evening in talking "shop", Edgar Selwyn being the quietest. Boat rolled, always. In the middle of the night she rolled so much that she overthrew my red clock. Also fiddles on the tables, last night at dinner. Quite unnecessary, but it is probably a dodge to convince passengers that they are good sailors. No fiddles on at breakfast this morning, when they were necessary and crockery was rattling and crashing about all over the place. 

The Titanic and her sister ship Olympic were an answer to the Cunard Line's speed queens Mauritania and Lusitania - here we see the "Lucy" resolutely knifing her way through an Atlantic swell. In fact, Titanic could never have beaten her rivals' records. A fast ship means a slender hull, and while Cunard's ships were racers, they suffered from a tendency to roll and pitch wildly in rough seas. The wider, more stable and slightly slower White Star Line sisters focused instead on luxurious comfort. But for those seeking the fastest passage across the Atlantic, especially in the calmer summer months, Mauritania and Lusitania were hard to outclass.

The Selwyns and the Forbeses had parting gifts which they displayed, but I also had a parting gift, which I did not display. It was an article for desk use, in silver, heavy and elaborate, engraved with my name, and the card on it bore the following words: "Thank you for all the delightful things you have written and are going to write during the coming year." George Doran will think he can guess the woman it came from at first guess. He couldn't. But he might guess it in three perhaps. And I had five letters from other ladies, chiefly hating "Hilda Lessways", but nevertheless all rustling with flattery.

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