Mary Smith, or Lady Mary, as she was generally known, enjoyed her sense of superior rank. She delighted to highlight the shortcomings of her servants, and embarrassed them publicly whenever she could.This was especially so with her butler, Jacobsen. She was thirty two years old and unmarried, Jacobsen was two or three years older. He bore his disgrace patiently and always replied in the most polite tones, "Yes M'Lady - Please pardon my clumsiness, M'Lady." To this her normal reply was, "Smarten up your ways young man; I'll have you replaced you know." - "Yes M'Lady."
This was the normal course of life until the disastrous voyage of 1903. Lady Mary had been the invited guest of Lord Snowden, and was journeying to his plantation in the Bahamas when her luxury yacht was overturned in a thunderous squall. There were only two survivors - Jacobsen and Lady Mary herself. He managed to cling to some drift wreckage and at the same time prevent her from sinking. They were eventually swept upon the beach of a deserted island. From that point onwards, for the next ten months, her life was changed, and would never be the same again.
It soon became clear, if they were to survive, that Jacobsen could no longer take orders from his mistress. He needed every vestige of his ingenuity, and he could not compromise his plans with respect for Lady Mary's demands. At first she was incensed, but soon began to realise his strength and vision produced food and shelter. She also realised she must succumb to his directives in learning to catch fish and scrape coconut. Their relationship began to change. He was no longer addressed as Jacobsen, but Walter. He never ceased to call her "M'Lady", but the tone of it changed. He often introduced a questioning tone, or a rebuking tone, but she was always "M'Lady".