The Diary of Elsie Smith – Short Story

10th April

I have never won anything. When my employer ran a raffle to give away a cruise, imagine my surprise when my raffle ticket won. That tiny piece of paper has changed my life completely. One day waiting tables, now in this beautiful room, on this amazing ship.

My friends are all jealous, their employers give them nothing. Mr Bailey could have sold the ticket but, he is always trying to improve the lives of his employees. Mr Bailey and I have always got on well. He liked the fact I was a reader, the same as him. Our mutual love of Charles Dickens had seen us chatting on many occasions.

My only luxury buy for the trip was this journal. I have never written a journal before. It seems the sort of thing you should do when you embark on an adventure of a lifetime. That lucky raffle ticket has stayed with me ever since I won. I’m going to stick it in here as a constant memento of my luck.

I arrived before 11 today on the train. I then went to the ship, a very friendly gentleman showed me to my cabin. Well, I say cabin but, it is nothing like I expected, it is more like a hotel room. The ship is like a palace! There is an uninterrupted deck of 165 yards for exercise. A swimming bath, gymnasium and squash racket court & a huge lounge. My cabin has a very comfy looking bed and plenty of room. As well as the bed there is a sofa and a beautiful dressing table. The shared bathroom is across from my room. The wood furniture in the room looks so new and polished. I must have spent ten minutes running my fingers over the surfaces.

We have made our first stop to pick up passengers and now we are heading towards the second. I have decided to take a walk in a little while and find somewhere to eat.

11th April

Well, what a day I have had exploring this beautiful ship. Early in the morning, we docked at our second port to pick up a few passengers. It was cloudy and windy so although I went out to see, I soon came back inside.

Later this afternoon the weather was better so I went for a walk along the deck at the back of the boat. I also discovered another dining room which has a white floor and beautiful wood furniture. After dinner, I stumbled upon the library, quite by accident. I have brought my journal up here this evening to write. I am then going to borrow one of Mr Dicken’s books and return to my cabin. All this sea air has made me quite exhausted.

So far I have had a delightful trip the weather is beautiful, the ship magnificent. It’s like a floating town. You would not imagine you were on a ship. There is hardly any motion, she is so large I have not felt sick once.


12th April

I woke late today, later than I have for many years. I’m not used to this level of luxury. I feel a little sorry that Mr Bailey has missed out on this cruise. Still, I am sure he will be able to take the next one, especially now I hear that the strike is over.

This afternoon the weather was very mild so I spent time wandering the decks. I like the Boat Deck where you can walk for ages looking at all the fancy clothes of the other passengers. My favourite though is the deck at the back of the boat near the staircase to my cabin. It might have no roof, but, it has wooden benches along the outside. You can sit and allow the world to pass you by.

Once again I have finished my day in the library at one of the tables by the window, writing this.

13th April

Today I checked another book out of the lending library, A Tale of Two Cities, it seems fitting for my adventure. I then went down to the dining room for lunch. This room is one of the biggest I have seen with its room for 600 passengers. I feel sorry for the waiting staff. I wonder if they realise I am one of them. I can’t believe we are already half-way through this cruise.

The weather has been lovely today. This afternoon I rented a deckchair on the rear deck and sat there reading my book. It was an expense I didn’t need but, I thought I would spoil myself. As I sit writing this in my cabin it feels like the weather is turning. There is definitely a cold bite to the air. I hope it doesn’t ruin the rest of my trip.

Tomorrow I am going to attend the religious service that will be carried out by the Assistant Purser. I then have an afternoon tea planned with one of the women I met in the library, yesterday. It will be lovely to spend some time discussing Mr Dickens with her.

14th April

We have hit something. I don’t know what but, people say it could have been an iceberg.

There is freezing water flooding into my cabin.

I’m so cold.

We are being told that we need to leave the boat as it is sinking.

I’m scared there are people fighting and shouting outside.

I have to leave now.

I can’t find my lucky raffle ticket.

Journal Recovered 3rd September 1985 

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