|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
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,
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
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
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
"What's your first step,
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."
"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
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.
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
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
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
"Just fine, sir. Thank
"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
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."
"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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
"No, Ma'am, not actually,
although I was in the neighborhood yesterday and stopped to talk with your daughter
"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
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
"Actually, I'm new in the
city, ma'am. I plan to find work presently."
A look of doubt crossed the
"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.
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
"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
"How old are ya Rose, if you
don't mind me askin?"
Rose's mind snapped back to the
"Where are your belongings,
"I've been staying at a hotel
uptown. I'll bring everything over in the next day or two."
"A boyfriend that'll come
Rose smiled at the woman and
opened her pouch.
"Let me pay you for those
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.
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.