image from the book The Brittle Sea


Nature takes its own counsel and its own course. Nature’s overriding loyalty is to nature and nature decided to cure Magda of all but one of her ills.

Magda awoke with a start, sat up, looked around the small cabin that had been Captain Blackmore’s and spoke for the first time in many days. “Where am I?”

Apart from a croaky voice, Magda’s English was excellent due to good tuition from a family friend, though her accent didn’t sound eastern European, rather there was an almost musical lilt to her voice.

A stirring at her side caught her eye and Magda observed a handsome man in a chair, mid to late thirties, dark hair, a short beard and, as he opened sleepy eyes, she saw the deepest blue eyes. The man suddenly sat upright, and Magda smiled at his sudden realisation that she was awake.

“I’m sorry, I woke you up.” she said quietly, “I didn’t realise there was anyone else in the room.”

“Oh, that’s fine,” the man said. “I’m just glad you’re awake after all this time. How do you feel?”

“Sleepy, groggy, a little sick,” she murmured, touching the left side of her head and realising her head was swathed in bandages. “What happened? Where am I?” She said the words with a touch of pathos that made the captain’s heart skip a beat. It was at that moment he knew the truth of his feelings. He and the doctor had taken turns watching over their patient and he had studied the young woman’s face long and hard. He was so taken with the delicate beauty of this woman that he felt something long buried stirring in his chest. Now his stomach was in knots and he was tongue tied.

Magda, searched the Captain’s eyes, looking for an answer to her question, but all she saw was an innate yearning, a desire she did not yet understand.

“I…” Blackmore said, stumbling over his words. You stupid fool, pull yourself together. Grow up man. But another voice told him he didn’t want to grow up, he wanted desperately to hold her hand, tell her everything is fine and smile at her.

“I don’t remember,” Magda suddenly said, panic in her voice.

Instinctively Blackmore took her hands in his and looked at her sad, soulful eyes.

“You don’t remember the ship? The iceberg?”

Magda began to cry, tears rolling ever downwards across her cheeks. “I don’t know who I am!” She wailed. “Who am I? I don’t know my name!”




“I have no idea,” the medical officer said with a shrug. “I’m a quack doctor who knows a lot about wounds of the body but nothing about the human mind. I assume the blow to the head she received has caused amnesia. Does that answer your question, Captain?”

It didn’t answer Blackmore’s question, but there was little more to be said and after a curt thank you, Blackmore made his way up to the bridge. The Lady Jane was now back on course to New York but as he entered the bridge the First-Officer acknowledged the Captain with pleading eyes, as did the other crew-members on the bridge. Everyone on board, it seemed, wanted to know how the patient was. But there were no answers.

“Mr. James, I’m going down to my… our guest’s cabin, for a short while. I’ll be with you to discuss ship’s business as soon as possible.”

Blackmore left the bridge and slowly made his way down to his old cabin. He knocked lightly on the cabin door and waited for the polite request to enter before opening the door.

“How are you feeling, today,” Blackmore asked.

“The same,” she said with a sigh. “But at least my sore head isn’t so painful.”

“Well, that’s good. It’s something at least. Have you still no memories? Has nothing come back to you at all?”

She shook her head.

“Can I make a suggestion?”

She was still in bed, swathed in blankets as if she expected Jack-Frost to come visiting. Though still cold, it was getting warmer as they approached New York, but the young woman could never seem to get warm.

“Can I just say that, well, it’s a bit difficult…” Blackmore’s voice trailed off. What he wanted to say was simple, but he had no means to vocalise it. He felt like the proverbial bull in a China shop. “Very well, here’s what I wanted to say. We need to give you a name.” He put his hand up as she began to protest. “I know, you have no idea what your name is. But we still need to give you a name, to make life seem a little normal. When your memory comes back and we have your real name, you’ll be laughing at the name we chose for you.”

“You’ve chosen a name for me?” She sounded incredulous and amused at the same time.

“Well, it came about from Mr. Lee. He said you sounded Irish and I have to agree, though I’m not sure where in Ireland your accent is from.”

She sat and pondered this for a while. “Irish?” She shrugged and she said it again. “Irish. Am I Irish?”

Blackmore sat on the small chair beside the bunk. “I know it must sound odd to you.”

“No, Captain, not at all,” she said, reaching out taking Blackmore’s hands in her.

A bolt of energy hit Blackmore like fire from the gods and he gasped.

“Captain? Are you, all right?”

“Yes, yes I’m fine,” he said, extricating his hands from hers and pulling a handkerchief from his trouser pocket. He dabbed the sweat from his brow.

The young woman looked on with concern in her eyes and Blackmore tried his best to pry his gaze from hers, but she had him locked-in. There’s no escape now.

“Very well,” she said, breaking the moment and moving onto more mundane thoughts, for she too had felt that surge of energy and was at a loss to explain it. “What name is it you want to give me… I am at your mercy, Captain. But please, not Gertrude or anything like that.”

Blackmore laughed out loud, for the first time in many weeks, months even. “I would not inflict such a name on my worst enemy. Mr. Lee seems to feel you are… Maggie.”

“Maggie? Maggie, is it? It seems to roll off the tongue well. Maggie. Maggie. I like that name Captain. You can tell Mr. Lee he is a fine giver of names. Maggie it is.”

And so, Maggie was born and for a long time, Magda was not even a memory. For a long time, but not forever.

Copyright Tom Kane © 2018

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MARCH 15, 1931

APRIL 15, 1912



















This is a first draft, so please forgive spelling & grammatical errors. Context and characters may change between now and the final publication date.

When published as an eBook and paperback at the end of 2018, this book will be the first in a trilogy: The Brittle Sea, The Brittle Land and The Brittle Sky.

As a English expat author living in Cyprus, you may think my life revolves around cocktails by the pool. You would be wrong. In ten years on the island I’ve had my fair share of adventures and interesting experiences.

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