April 15, 1912
Andrew moved away from the railing, relieved that Cordelia was safe with Alexis. He watched as women and children boarded the other lifeboats. Frowning, he realized that he still hadn't seen any sign that the twins had made it to the deck safely.
Knowing that space on the lifeboats was limited, Andrew set off in the direction of the cabins. He needed to be sure that Erin and Jackie made it to safety.
He raced down the stairs, past passengers who had sleepily tumbled from their cabins once they heard the orders from the stewards and members of the crew.
"Sir, all passengers are asked to be on the boat deck," a steward stopped him halfway down the stairs.
"I understand, I need to check on some friends who weren't up there. They may not have heard the orders," Andrew explained.
The steward looked as though he was going to object, but he must have seen the determination in Andrew's eyes.
"Very good, sir. Please make your way with them to the boat deck as quickly as possible," tipping his hat he returned to directing passengers up the stairs.
The ship creaked and shifted ominously as he continued down the stairs to deck E. When he reached the bottom, he found that the deck had already begun to fill with water. Taking a deep breath, Andrew stepped into the water, it was already high enough to reach his knees. He began to wade through the chilly water, hoping he would find Jackie and Erin soon.
"Jackie? Erin? It's Andrew! Are you down here?" he called.
"Andrew?" he heard a faint response at the end of the hall.
Making his way past luggage and pieces of furniture that had escaped from the cabins, he froze when he realized that the bulkhead separating the second and third-class cabins had collapsed, blocking his path.
"Erin? Jackie?" Andrew reached the bulkhead and called through the wood.
"We're here, but we're stuck," he heard Erin reply weakly.
"The best-laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, gang aft agley*, eh Andrew?" Jackie quipped.
"Really, Jackie? Rabbie Burns at a time like this?" amusement mixed with exasperation filled Erin's voice.
"Seemed as good a time as any,” Jackie quipped.
Erin let out a cry of pain as her leg bumped against the wood.
"Are you alright?" he asked, concerned.
"Erin’s leg was hit when the bulkhead fell. I...I fear….it may be broken," Jackie explained. He could hear the worry in her voice. "She can't put any weight on it to stand."
"Just keep her comfortable. I'm going to see if I can find a way to get you guys out of there!"
Andrew began searching the hall for anything to use to get through the wood that trapped the twins.
At the end of the hall he spotted a fire axe, racing towards it, he quickly ripped it from the wall, time was of the essence l.
"Stand back! I'm going to try and chop a hole to get you guys out!" he warned, as he approached the collapse.
Andrew had never wielded an axe before and the knee-high water made swinging it that much more difficult, but he was determined to save his friends.
By the time he had managed to chop a large enough hole, the water had risen to his chest.
Tossing the axe aside, Andrew held out his hand to help pull the twins through.
Erin moved forward, leaning on Jackie for support with one hand and grabbing a hold of the opening with the other. Erin's face was pale, as she looked up at Andrew and gave him a small smile, despite the terrible pain she was in.
The ship groaned and began to tilt, Andrew scrambled to grab hold of the bulkhead with one hand, reaching the other out for Erin to grab.
"KEEP A HOLD OF ME!" Andrew cried, over the noise.
He grabbed Erin’s wrist and held tight as the water tried to pull the girls further down the hall. Jackie kept her grasp firmly on Erin's other hand as Andrew began to pull them towards the opening.
The ship continued to tilt further, causing furniture to fall through the open cabin doors, crashing against the ship's walls. A wooden writing desk collided with Andrew's head, causing his grip on Erin to loosen.
Erin tried to hold onto Andrew's hand, but in her weakened state the pull of the water was too much, her hand slipped from his grasp.
Andrew felt for her hand, through the fog of his injury, but found nothing. "Jackie? Erin?!" he hoarsely called and was met with silence. He called again and was met with only the sound of water lapping against the bulkhead.
Andrew let out a yell of frustration, angry at himself for being unable to save them. He took a shaky breath and turned towards the stairs.
He felt a trickle of blood fall from his temple and winced when he touched it. His head throbbed with pain and his vision became cloudy, but he was determined to move. He slowly made his way down the hall and to the stairs
He glanced back down the hall hoping to see a sign of Jackie or Erin, but they were now lost to the depths of the cold, unforgiving ocean. Shaking his head, he collected his thoughts as he grasped the stair rail, there would be time to grieve later. For now, he needed to get back to the lifeboats, he had a promise to keep.
As the lifeboat rowed away from the ship, Cordelia took a deep shuddering breath, wiping the tears from her face, she had to do something. She moved to stand, determined to make the crewman take her back to Andrew, no matter what. Alexis having caught onto her plan, forced her to stay seated, "Are you trying to drown us all? Too much movement and you'll overturn us!"
"Let me go! I have to get back to him! I can't lose him!" Cordelia cried, as they slowly moved away from the sinking ship.
"There's no going back, missus," the crewman told her. "Not for anyone or anything."
She had no choice, she was stuck in this boat, with no way to get back to Andrew.
"He's a smart man, he'll find his way back to you. I'm certain of that," Alexis soothed.
They watched as the other lifeboats were lowered, many of them at only half capacity. Cordelia's eyes hungrily scanned them, searching for any sign of Andrew.
"They said women and children first, hon. It'll be a few more before they let the menfolk on," Alexis patted her shoulder.
Cordelia nodded faintly, refusing to take her eyes off the sinking ship. The thought of Andrew still being onboard made her heart clench in fear.
He had to get off the ship. He just had to.