Chapter Six

Rose had barely gotten herself organized early the next day when there was a knock on her door.

"Yes, who is it?"

"Miss Dawson, it's Wallace Hammond."

What is he doing here so early? Rose wondered. Has something gone wrong?

She admitted the man into the foyer. He carried a small leather pouch in his right hand.

"Monday morning, as promised, Rose."

She shot him a questioning look.

"I thought you were going to leave everything at the front desk," she said.

"Was that the plan? I felt sure Molly had requested that I bring this to you personally, first thing. Oh well, here I am nevertheless."

Mr. Hammond loosened his coat and hung it on the door peg along with his hat. A small slice of winter had blown in from the west overnight, leaving the previous afternoon's warmth just a fleeting taste of a summer still far away.

Wallace handed the narrow pouch to Rose and sat in the nearest chair.

"Your money and the key to the cash-box. The box number is on the key and it's in the Bank of New Holland just west on 34th Street. They will verify your identity when you go there and I gave Molly as your reference to the bank manager," he said. "If you'd like, I could put your items in the box myself, save you the trouble. I'd return the key later today."

So he's also wondering what valuables the poor homeless girl has, Rose thought. Or maybe he's just being helpful. I shouldn't be so quick to judge.

"I think I should become acquainted with the manager and become familiar with the bank myself, but thank you just the same."

"What's your first step, Rose?"

Wallace seemed nice enough. Rose was put off slightly by his familiarity, but she decided this was just another remnant of her mother in her own thinking.

"Find a place to live, find a job, find my fortune. In whatever order they may occur."

Wallace smiled.

"What type of work have you done before? Perhaps I could help you find a suitable job."

Rose told another white lie.

"I have done a fair amount of sewing. I think I'll perhaps return to that."

"What did you say your father does?"

The question perplexed her. Wasn't he paying attention the other night? Maybe he was preoccupied with Molly and all.

"He passed away many years ago, when I was a small girl. I believe I told you of this on Saturday evening."

"Why yes, I believe you did. My mistake."

Wallace looked up at her expectantly. Rose realized he hoped she would offer additional details about her family. She looked away.

"If you don't mind, sir, I'd like to be on my way. I have several matters to attend to today. I thank you again for your troubles."

Mr. Hammond rose to leave, donning his coat and hat. He paused in thought, absently stroking his clean-shaven chin. Rose noticed an old, thickened scar on the back of his right hand. Funny I didn't notice that on Saturday, Rose thought. I must have been preoccupied as well.

"I'd like to keep a close eye on you if I might, Miss Dawson."

Rose looked squarely at him.

"I'll be quite fine."

"I'm sure you will, but still…"

Rose thought he was somehow gauging her reaction.

"It's what Molly would want," he finished.

"Good day, Mr. Hammond."

"Good day, Miss Dawson."


Rose rang for the manager and had him retrieve her package from the hotel safe.

While he stood behind her she opened the binding, shielding the contents of the case with her body. Unfolding the pillowcase, she laid bare the 'Heart of the Ocean'.

Rose found her heart was beating quickly and she had been holding her breath. She was surprised at the amount of built-up tension that left her body when she found the necklace safe.

"I trust all is in order, miss?" the manager said nervously from behind her.

Rose realized that she had been silently staring at the necklace and the manager had become alarmed at her lack of reaction.

"Just fine, sir. Thank you"

"Then I'll be taking my leave of you, miss."

After he departed Rose placed the 'Heart' and the money from Molly in the pouch supplied by Mr. Hammond, keeping $150 in the deepest pocket of her dress. Putting on her coat, she left this time by the main entrance to the hotel.

Rose had to pull the coat tight around her against the bite of the wind. Fluffy nimbus clouds raced high across the sky and twisters of dust and smoke played in the streets. As she headed west towards the bank she kept squeezing the reassuring heft of the pouch inside her coat pocket.

It's a very short trip to anxiety for me now, Rose mused with a shake of her head. It'll be a relief to put this in the safe deposit box.

She slanted northwest across the street, dodging several cars and delivery wagons along the way, and entered the bank building.

Even before an employee had a chance to utter a word the bank spoke volumes about security: solid brick walls, austere oak furnishings, marble flooring. The hushed tones of conversations seemed to magnify the sounds of her footsteps as she approached the manager's desk.

"May I help you, miss?"

"I'm here to place some items in my cash-box. A Mr. Hammond was to have arranged it for me."

Rose produced the box key from the pouch and held it up to the manager.

"Ah, Miss Dawson! Mr. Hammond said we might expect you today. I am Mr. Sanderson."

They shook hands politely.

"Does Mr. Hammond bank here as well?" Rose asked.

"I couldn't say, miss…. bank confidentiality and all. My dealings with him have been almost entirely concerning the accounts of Mrs. J.J. Brown."

Rose smiled.

"I understand. And you've revealed my reference even before I could say the name!" she said.

"So I have, so I have!" he said with a laugh. "Mr. Hammond described you quite well, Miss Dawson. Right this way, if you would."

Rose followed the manager down a narrow corridor and into a vault containing a wall of safe deposit boxes, hundreds in all. Locating her number, he placed a large key in one of the two locks on the outer door of the box and stepped back to allow Rose to use hers.

Mr. Sanderson then slid out the uncovered box and placed it on a wooden counter running down the center of the vault. He excused himself and left Rose alone.

Rose lifted the lid to the steel box and gently placed the pouch inside. She shuddered from a sudden feeling of déjà vu. The same necklace kept locked in a steel safe, on Titanic. She was about to close the lid when she had the urge to look at the 'Heart of the Ocean' one more time, to hold it.

The overhead vault lights gleamed off the polished surfaces of the central diamond. Angling it created a kaleidoscope of lights and reflections.

'Wearing this', she had said, 'wearing only this'.

Another turn, another glint of light, and she was seeing Jack peering at her over his sketch.

A flash and she was laughing at his modesty.

Then another, brightly, and she was handing him his 'pay' for his effort- a thin dime.

Rose spun the necklace quickly around in her hand and let the images fade.

A jewel like a picture album, Rose thought. Every facet another memory.

She closed the necklace and money in the box and called for the manager.

He replaced the box in the proper spot as Rose, her thoughts far away, walked towards the vault exit.

"Miss Dawson! Your key!"

Rose snapped to attention and retrieved her key from the lock.

"My mind…."

She shook her head.

"Thank you," she said.

"My pleasure, miss. I look forward to seeing you again."


Rose had decided that her first order of business would be to rent an apartment. She knew she could stay at the hotel another few days but was still a bit wary of encountering someone who would recognize her.

The sheer size of New York intimidated her. Rose had wondered how she would ever decide where to begin looking for an apartment, but in thinking through the events of the previous day, culminating in her ending up on Cora's street, they had all seemed too interwoven to be mere coincidence.

It's almost as though it was meant to be, she thought. The thief, the policeman and, finally, another little girl named Cora. It felt like such a positive omen.

And I could surely use a few good omens about now, Rose thought.

Rather than walk all that way again Rose decided to ride the train back downtown. She climbed the entrance stairs to the 6th Street El, reading the advertisements posted on the green, freshly-painted awning and trellis-work of the station.

Anna's Gelatine….Old Crow Rye….Max's Meats…

Have they always had advertisements here? Rose asked herself, and then laughed.

Of course. I've just never paid much mind to such things before. Ah, the advantages of being a debutante….or disadvantages.

As she stood on the platform, awaiting her train, she looked out over Manhattan.

The city, on a Monday, was much more abuzz with activity than it had been the previous day. The shifting sounds of the traffic beneath her feet now mingled with the constant metallic banging of automatic riveters at work. There seemed to be buildings in some stage of assembly in every direction, on every street. The smoke from factory furnaces and automobile exhausts mixed with dust arising from the countless construction sites and formed a street-level cloud that ebbed and flowed in the gusting wind. The Pennsylvania Station rail yards lay one block to the west across the avenue, and the sounds of the engines and the clacking of the wheels sliced upward towards Rose as the trains entered the tunnels to the west, heading to New Jersey and beyond.

Rose contemplated the city from her lofty vantage point.

How would Jack and I have fared here? What would we have done? Where would we have lived?

Her thoughts were interrupted by the rattling of the El tracks and, as she glanced uptown, she saw the billowing cloud of white steam that heralded the arrival of her train.

The rail car was crowded. It was mostly poorer working folks; the well-to-do hardly ever took the El. Sprinkled among the crowd, though, were several young businessman. Rose thought that perhaps they were on their way to jobs as Wall Street traders or bank clerks or accountants.

A couple of the men smiled at her and offered their seats. Nodding her thanks to one, she took his vacated space and she stared out the grimy window at the passing city.


Rose turned to the person who had spoken. It was the young man who had just given up his seat.

"Hello," she replied flatly.

He said something to her but it was lost in a sudden squeal of the train's brakes.

"On your way to work?" he repeated when the noise had returned to just the normal calamitous racket of train travel.

Rose looked at him standing above her and she smiled. He waited expectantly for a reply, but she just turned away and resumed looking at the city below. She removed her hat as if to shake out her hair.

Out of the corner of her eye she could see his reaction. His face showed sudden surprise and he pulled back slightly. She knew how she would look to him: a bit gaunt from having barely eaten in a week, her hair unfashionably short.

Let him conclude what he will, Rose thought as she replaced her hat. It's fine with me.

She didn't feel ready for idle talk.

The ride was, fortunately, quite short. After fifteen blocks or so the train slowed for her station and Rose alit from the car. She nodded in acknowledgement to the gentleman as she exited and he took the opportunity to return her snub.

Oh well.

Descending the stairway, Rose found herself back at the very same street corner where she had been deposited by the police officer not a day earlier. She crossed the avenue and went down the same side street.

Approaching Cora's building, she noted with pleasure that the 'Apartment To Let' sign still hung in the first-floor window. The building was a simple three-story brick structure, a bit lost between the newer, taller ones on both sides. The main floor was elevated a good six feet above street level, accessed via an abrupt stoop.

She climbed the steps and rapped on the outer door.

After a few seconds she could hear the sound of footsteps approaching from the first floor apartment and presently the inner door was opened.


Rose recognized Cora's mother from the windowsill the day before. Her daughter had inherited her red hair and her freckles and maybe one day would also develop the wide frame that now filled the doorway.

"I'm here about the apartment to let," Rose replied, nodding towards the sign in the window.

The woman looked Rose over.

"Do I know you?" she asked.

"No, Ma'am, not actually, although I was in the neighborhood yesterday and stopped to talk with your daughter Cora."

"Ah..right you are, then. You're Rosie! Cora talked about you all through dinner last night."

"It's Rose, actually. Rose Dawson. Pleased to meet you, Mrs…."

"O'Reilly. Well, Rose, you might as well come in out of the wind and take a look at the flat, then. It's up here," she said, starting up the stairs. "The basement one is rented presently."

The apartment on the second floor was small and sparsely furnished, with a limited kitchen area.

I bet I could spit across the whole flat, Rose decided, and then smiled inwardly at her own inane thoughts. Jack... look what you've done to me!

"The rent is $12 a month, pay yer own heat, bath is down on the first floor."

Mrs. O'Reilly paused and looked pointedly at Rose.

"You DO have a job, don't you Rose?"

"Actually, I'm new in the city, ma'am. I plan to find work presently."

A look of doubt crossed the woman's features.

"We would be needin two months rent in advance to start, no credit, and ya have to pay for yer own heat."

"I'd rather pay three months in advance, if that would be all right."

Mrs. O'Reilly's eyes danced.

"You've got yerself a flat, then, you do."

She gave Rose a stern look.

"Keep in mind we don't take kindly to too much drinkin or carousin or such. Mr. O'Reilly has been known to get his dander up if he thinks someone is acting the fool in his building."

"Mrs. O'Reilly, you need not worry about that on my part."

The women's stare remained tightly fixed and then suddenly her face lit up, she laughed loudly and she lightly elbowed Rose in the ribs.

"Nah…to tell ya the truth, I can see just by lookin at ya that you're more likely to be quiet as a church mouse. I just like actin the part of the high-and-mighty land-lady now and again."

Mrs. O'Reilly asked her about her background. Rose felt having Titanic in her past would attract too much attention, however innocuous the accompanying story might be made, so she reverted to her practiced fibs.

"I lived in Baltimore with my mother but she recently passed. My father died many years ago. I have no brothers or sisters and I couldn't bear living with such memories in Baltimore, so I struck out on my own to New York."

I'm starting to believe this myself, Rose thought.

Mrs. O'Reilly seemed to quickly lose interest in the autobiography. She waved around the apartment.

"We've scrubbed all the walls down, Rose, so ya needn't worry about that."

A sudden image flashed in Rose's mind. Her father, drawn and sickly, being moved from his home to a sanatorium. He called to her across the room. She had wanted to run to him, but they wouldn't allow her close. And then the workers scrubbing down all the walls and furniture in his room with a soapy solution so strong it made Rose's eyes sting for days. Her father never saw his home again.

"How old are ya Rose, if you don't mind me askin?"

Rose's mind snapped back to the conversation.


"Where are your belongings, then?"

"I've been staying at a hotel uptown. I'll bring everything over in the next day or two."

"A boyfriend that'll come lookin?"

Rose smiled at the woman and opened her pouch.

"Let me pay you for those three months."

Mrs. O'Reilly moved her lips silently in concert as Rose counted aloud while placing the agreed amount into her hand. Sporting a wide grin, she pocketed the bills and turned to go.

"Well, now, I'll be puttin this someplace safe. Your key is on the table, Rose."

"Thank you, Mrs. O'Reilly."

Rose walked Mrs. O'Reilly to the door and, as the woman disappeared down the stairs, Rose turned and pushed the door shut with her back. She gazed around her new home.

It looks as though this place has been stripped of its life, she thought.

Well, maybe it just needs a little filling up.



Home     Next



finalabs.jpg (16787 bytes)