The fire had sprung up in the store room.
The porters liked to steal away and smoke hand-rolled cigarettes amongst the boxes of dried goods. They’d been chastised for this several times, but obviously it didn’t take.
Frankly, the Lady hoped they all went down with the ship for this inconvenience.
After all, they’d only gotten through two courses at dinner.
Her Lover pulled her through the panicking crowds as she examined her teeth in a pocket mirror.
“Not so hard!” She squealed at the Spanish man she’d chosen for the season. “Why are you acting in such a manner? Surely there must be a lifeboat for the first class passengers. Find a porter and as him, would you?”
Her tall, dark Lover pushed her back against the wall so a family could pass them. “Madame, this is a shallow-bottom riverboat, lifeboats would tip her over. But, no worries, the shore is not far, the swim will be -”
“SWIM!” The Lady let out an ear piercing shriek. “Surely you do not expect a woman of my station to do something as base in her finest evening gown!”
“No,” he smirked. “I expect you to strip out of it.”
Part of the reason riverboat disasters were so dangerous was that there were no lifeboats and very few things that could be considered life preservers. Everyone went into the water and hoped they could make it to shore. But the Mississippi River isn’t the sort of river you want to swim in. Strong current and undertows made the river almost as dangerous as the burning boat.