Get Free Copy

100 free copies left

This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.

0
Free copy left
You can read our best books
Herbina would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review

She's Not Your Daughter

By Herbina

Drama

Chapter 1

Caledon Hockley forced his way through the crowd of people blinded with fear, trying like all the other desperate passengers, to get to the last remaining lifeboat. In his arms there was lying his last resource he was now going to resort to, in the last attempt to save himself from the drowning ship. The "resource" assumed the shape of a small girl of maybe two, crying at on the top of her lungs. The man scooped the toddler up from some forgotten corner of the ship, where her family left her. Or maybe they just got separated during the evacuation – it didn't matter now and the child was way too young to provide her unexpected savior or anyone else for that matter, with any information, even if she finally stopped crying for heaven's sake. Her cries seemed to drill a big sore hole in the brain of Cal who felt like his eardrums were going to burst in a moment – even if now in this state of panic, he didn't pay much attention to those desperate cries reverberating now in his ears. What mattered now for Rose's fiancé, was that due to this child he hadn't seen before nor did he ever come to know her name, he had a chance – a very small one, yet still – to leave Titanic, which now stopped being the ship of dreams, becoming the one of nightmares.

"Here's a child! I've got a child!" he shouted, wading through the crowd. He noticed with disgust that in his voice there appeared a pleading tone. "Please... I'm all she has in the world" the man added, in hope that someone was going to take pity on the small child who already having gotten orphaned by her mother in spite of her age, was now going to stay also fatherless as well. Hockley already reached the lifeboat and was now looking at the stern face of purser McElroy, impatiently awaiting the verdict with a rapidly beating heart. Was he going to live and see his hometown of Pittsburgh once more in his life? It was that moment that his heartbeat was ringing through his ears.

The purser nodded and let Cal in the lifeboat. The steel tycoon took a seat with the women already sitting on the benches in the boat, shivering from the night cold; glaring at Cal joining them, although shifting their eyes away whenever the man glanced at them. With a huge relief, he handed the still wailing child on to one of them. The boat got lowered and started to swim away. With the feeling of even a bigger relief, Caledon Hockley closed his eyes, letting himself let out a sigh. He knew he was going to live on now. He knew he was going to survive all of this, now when he already managed to get to the lifeboat.

He was snatched away from his thoughtfulness by the words of the dark haired woman holding the child now in her lap. The damn kid finally stopped wailing and was now looking at the women surrounding her with curiosity, trying to figure out what was happening and why she was now not with her parents but with all those strangers. Another female sitting on her right, reached her hand in a dark glove and delicately stroked the child on her head girdled with a scarf. The child instantly raised her head, smiling at her. The woman answered her with a smile, too.

"I know you" the lady holding the child said, smiling reassuringly. "I saw you before with your mom. You are the Stockworths' child, yes?" she chirped sweetly, using this characteristic voice adults use when talking to very young children. Cal recognized this voice from his own childhood – numerous nannies, including Mary, his beloved nanny from the time he was a small boy, not much older than the child he just saved, saving himself, and all the servants he had, used to talk to him in this very manner. The toddler was probably too young to know her parents' last name or their first names for that matter – she probably knew them just as Mom and Dad which later on could make difficulties if they tried to identify her, assuming her parents perished in the ice cold waves of the ocean, which probably did happen – but she indeed smiled back.

"Yes, I think it's the child of Mrs. Stockworth" another woman spoke up, looking at the child attentively. She was a bit too plump but handsome maybe thirty year old with a perky nose. Her eyes were covered by heavy rimmed glasses. She puffed at her hands with their short fingers resembling plump sausages, naked unlike the ones of her companion. The lady didn't even have time to take a coat (or even put on her gloves) so she was shivering now slightly in this cold night air. A small cloud of her breath soared up the air, perfectly visible at the background of the black night sky. "My niece who is now with her mother in another lifeboat – they managed to make it, praise the Lord - was playing hoop rolling with little Ethel Stockworth and Mrs. King's twins for the entire afternoon. I saw Ethel with this little girl before, I think she's her sister."

"No, you are wrong, Edna; this man here said he's the father" another woman said in a squeaky voice. She was already a middle aged lady, yet still strikingly attractive with those soft features of her face covered with a delicate set of wrinkles now, the most beautiful part of which were her big eyes encircled with very long eyelashes, acutely staring at Caledon now. They resembled the eyes of Rose. She too had no coat on and was trying to cover herself with a mere scarf to give herself more warmth. Her plump companion took a quick and rather surprised look at her. Her nervous gaze swept the caretaker of the child, the child herself and Cal, sitting on the bench between a hefty, big nosed teenage girl with long dark brown braids at the ends of which big blue ribbons were swinging and a morbidly obese lady in her forties looking very similar to her, who was now looking at him suspiciously.

"No, she's mine" said Cal; calm, though already starting to feel very uncomfortable. And the reason for it wasn't only the cold (he gave his coat to Rose, previously) nor the lack of room on the bench in the crowded boat; between an obese lady and her daughter, who, though still young, seemed to have already put as her main goal catching up with her mother in this respect, to reach the size of a young whale before her twentieth birthday. "She is my child" he repeated once more, this time in a more silent voice, in an attempt to reassure everybody – himself including – that the little, fair haired girl whose life he just saved, saving also his own, was indeed of his flesh and blood. His breathing became uneven, as the man was hoping that the child wouldn't speak up and ruin his claim.

All the females in the boat – there were women only in it; including two small girls, not much older than the child Cal just saved, who like herself, were lying in the laps of their mothers (in case of one it could be her grandmother as well, judging by her age) – were now staring at Hockley, as if awaiting the answer. "No, I'm telling you she's the Stockworth girl" the first woman insisted. The perky nosed thirty year old was wearing a dark green dress, with the hem of which she was now trying to wipe her glasses covered with the drops of the cold ocean water. She put the thick glasses on again and was now looking at the putative "Stockworth girl" again. "I didn't see her father even if he was on the board but Mrs. Stockworth was not wealthy; she certainly didn't look like that; her husband couldn't afford to buy such smart clothes this man is wearing, so I mark my word that this man is not her father" – here the lady in the green dress pointed her plump finger at Caledon who now felt like the eyes of not just the women in the boat but of the whole wide world were directed at him. Out of a sudden, he felt very small now. It wasn't the feeling the steel tycoon was used to.

"I just put on the tuxedo to prepare myself for meeting God the Lord if I didn't manage to survive" – Hockley said in a cool voice, trying to convince his companions he indeed was the father of the small girl with fair hair covered with a scarf, now sitting in the lap of the dark haired woman whom Cal had handed her to, previously. "I happened to have a tux in my bags so I decided to die like a gentleman."

"You wouldn't be able to afford it in the first place" – the obese lady said, critically, looking at Cal's clothes. Even if torn off – on his sleeve there was a big hole exposing his shirt – it was still luxurious looking, there was no mistake. "This child is wearing steerage attire. No rich man would ever let his child wear anything like that. She's not his kid, you are right Mrs. Cavanaugh."

"His child or not, doesn't matter" the plump girl spoke up calmly, not asked. She had a beautiful voice – very sweet and high, contrasting sharply with her weight and the look of her strikingly ugly face with a nose a 'la Cyrano de Bergerac but with almost no chin, which caused her face covered with acne seem wider than longer. And her voice seemed even a sweeter melody to the ears of grateful Cal. Though normally Caledon Hockley, like all people of his time, was a firm believer in the rule that said that children – even those who are at least fifteen (she couldn't be much younger than Rose) and weigh just about as much as a young whale (Cal subconsciously couldn't get rid of this comparison) – should be seen and not heard, at this very moment Rose's fiancé was very happy that this strange girl unknowingly came to his rescue. "What is her name, again?" the obese teenager asked.

"Mmmary" – Cal stammered out, totally unprepared for this question. It was the very first name that came to his mind. He didn't even know why. Maybe it was the immense popularity of this name which made it possible that he was going to strike home. Unlike it was with his own unusual name which was actually his mother's maiden name and which he didn't share with any other man he ever met, there were so many Mary's out there, after all. As many as Jane's and Sara's. Neither did he have a sister or mother than were named like that which could explain why Mary was the very first name that came to his mind. The only Mary he could think about now, was – besides his nanny whose face he couldn't even recall now after all those years - some young woman he had a passionate love affair for a short time some years ago. But it was long time ago or at least before he met Rose, so it didn't count. That woman was not even important to him. The very first name actually, that should have come to his mind should be rather Rose itself but it was like he pushed away from him all the memories of his cheating fiancée. Now the most important woman – girl, actually – in his life was the little child whose life he just saved. Rose was much less important. The same for Mary and the whole crowd of his previous loves. Bessie, Mabel, Annie, Peggy… None of those mattered to Caledon Hockley now. Trying to save his life during the ship catastrophe, the young steel tycoon from Pittsburgh didn't even think about Miss DeWitt Bukater, as if this young woman didn't even exist, wiped not only from his mind but from the face of the world; what mattered for him then was saving his life. Whether he was going to share the rest of it with Rose DeWitt Bukater (if she managed to survive, taken later on by another lifeboat that could potentially come back for those who didn't drown) or not.

"Mary?" – the plump teenager was visibly pleased. She laughed aloud, as if just heard the nicest news in the world. The big blue ribbons adorning her thick braids flowing down her shoulders, swayed when the girl dashed her head away. "This is also the name of my mom! What a cute little girl you have, mister… mister…?" her full mouth almost stretched into a smile.

"Branwell" Caledon simply said without thinking twice. "Arthur Branwell." He didn't move a single muscle of his face, not even an eyelid, saying this with a poker face. He used to use this name once back in the past, when he had to use a fake identity. There were quite a few identities during his incognito business trips to England or France Hockley used when for this or that reason he needed identity or just to get away with something (forging fake documents wasn't too much of a problem when one has so much money as Cal) – Seth Howell, Ephraim Driscoll, George Cameron, Harold Bowman and some others the man couldn't even remember now – but Arthur Branwell was one that fell in his memory, from which he elicited it without any difficulty. He was surprised with how easy this small lie came to him. "Henrietta Stevens" the girl said, officially, as if she was being presented to him during a debutantes ball and not sitting on the bench of a lifeboat that was just floating away from the sinking ship, the silhouette of which was visible at the horizon. The screams of those who were freezing in the cold water, were still heard by the passengers of the boat – muffled due to the distance. "But you can call me just Hetty if you want, mister." A wide smile lit up her entire face stricken with a bad case of acne.

Hockley with disgust could see that her teeth were terribly crooked – he could see it even in the weak light – what was left of it at this time of day. It seemed that the only thing about her that was beautiful was her voice (even if it was indeed a bit too high; it's mostly the fact her comment helped him, taking away from him all the attention the women from the boat were paying to him a moment before, that made her voice seem to his like the voice of an angel sent to him from heaven to save him from the unwanted attention).

"Your daughter is so sweet" the girl said, smiling to her. "I can't wait until I have my own child" the teenager shared her dream with Cal and the women from the boat. "Many children." Caledon didn't have the heart to say his young companion that until she was from a wealthy family – which she didn't look like; she was just an anonymous Hetty Stevens and not Hetty Green – she was rather going to wait for a long time until any man would want to marry her. A very, very long time. It seemed the fact the child was her mother's namesake, made Henrietta ("Hetty; just Hetty for friends and you are one of them, mister!") even more favorably disposed towards her little companion.

"Mary, my little one, you are so sweet I could eat you! Who is the sweetest child here? Who? Mary! Your name is Mary, yes?" Miss Stevens asked, trying to start a conversation with the child who was, it seemed, the most interesting object in the lifeboat, now as it was swimming away – as far from the sinking ship as possible. The lit up silhouette of the erstwhile pride of the White Star Line was seen at the background of the black heaven specked with tiny white spots of stars. The adults were looking at this with fear but the girl didn't seem to pay any attention, paying it to the small child, as if she was her own little daughter needing consolation. Not that she did need it – her screams stopped as soon as Cal put her in the arms of the woman, as if cut off with a knife and the toddler was looking around with curiosity, looking at the people in the boat, as if wondering why she wasn't lying in her warm bed at this time as she was used to, but sitting in the lap of a strange woman and talked to by a strange girl instead. A strange girl indeed; one that called her a name that didn't belong to her. Mary?

"Not Mary" the child suddenly said in a thin voice, shaking her head, opening her small pink mouth on which a wide smile formed, for the first time to let out of it any other sound than the one of crying. "Helen."

All the heads of the females listening to this conversation turned away. The condemning gazes were put on Caledon who never before wished for himself to have been in a different place. For example in Pittsburgh – with Rose or not. Though typically cold and unemotional, in this very moment the man resembled any other person who was caught lying. He lowered his gaze, trying not to make his eyes meet the ones of his companions from the lifeboat – ones full of anger. They had to be like that; as for this he was sure. He sneaked into the boat not having right to this – other than his simple animal-like want to save his life that pushed him to try this attempt – which indeed worked. Now he was sitting in the boat shivering as much from the cold as from the fear that he suddenly started to feel, even if, objectively speaking he had no reason for feeling it. Or did he?

"Well, ekhem… " "Arthur" started to feel less and less self-confident. He started to sweat. "Her full name is Mary Helen Branwell. Her mother and I couldn't agree what name we should give her so we decided on both. A double barreled one, you know. Like Mary Louise or Sarah Jane." he ended, feeling very content that he managed to get out of the situation using this so simple explanation. He smiled, trying to make this artificial smile seem as careless, warm and expressing paternal gentleness and love for his little daughter as possible. He reached his hand and delicately stroked the head of the child, covered with wavy blonde hair, hoping the damn kid didn't have head lice. The scarf had already fell off the head of the child. The woman holding her put it on her head again, tying the ends of it tight at the back of her head.

Mrs. Cavanaugh, the woman with glasses, wearing a dark green dress who was the first one to express doubts as for the identity of the child's savior as her actual father, opened her mouth to speak up again (in front of her face there formed a small delicate cloud of her breath lingering for a moment in the cold air). "He's not her father, Mrs. Stevens will agree with me, I'm sure." The obese lady who was the mother of Hetty the Angel Voice aka Hetty the Aspiring Whale– she was indeed the woman who gave birth to her those fifteen years ago or whatever old she was; she was indeed the older version of her daughter – nodded. She took a look at Caledon in a very stern way. She looked like a strict teacher whose student couldn't give her the proper answer. "I think you are lying" Hetty's mother said in a deep – fitting the size of her body – and stern – oh, how very stern voice that blared in the air, breaking the relative silence before (the only sound was the one made by oars; Cal knew he should help the women who were doing this – being a man he had more strength, but he couldn't – he had a business to finish with the ladies who out of a sudden started to question his right to be in here, in the safety of the boat instead with other men on the dying ship). There was no trace of warmth in Hetty's mother's voice, as if the salty, cold water of the ocean whose drops were covering Cal's expensive tuxedo all over now, was sucking it from anything where any warmth could be still found. Hockley looked around hopelessly, as if looking for help on the side of the others. He knew that now when the females started to suspect something, he couldn't stick to his version of the truth as presented by him originally, any more. He combed his hair – disheveled after the evacuation – and cleared his throat before he spoke up – he twice did - to give himself some time for thinking over what he was trying to say.

"Well…" he started again, trying to convince the women who with time passing started to get less and less favorably disposed to this man who, even if he managed to save the innocent life of little Mary – no, Helen; no, Mary Helen Branwell or whatever her real name could be (the version of this man in a suspiciously expensive looking tuxedo didn't seem to have much in common with reality; the child could be named as well Gladys Crowe, Millicent Maxwell or Jean Berry - whatever) certainly couldn't been the little angel's father. His expensive tuxedo not matching the attire of the child he claimed was his offspring. And he didn't even know the child's name. Mary Helen! No, it sounded much too like a miserable attempt to sneak away from the situation. Mrs. Cavanaugh, the spectacled lady in green, was right. She claimed she saw the child playing with her sibling and the man was nowhere to be seen. The mother of that girl who was her sister, looked quite poor – like all the third class passengers. And he resembled rather a first class one in those expensive clothes from the best designer. No, he couldn't be the father. Something was wrong here and Mrs. Cavanaugh who had a detective streak, was going now to find out what exactly it was. She was not going to rest – not that there was any time or place for doing this if to treat this expression literally – until she found out what the truth presented itself to be like.

"What class are you?" she asked in a best detective voice, reaching her finger towards "Arthur Branwell" in an accusing gesture. Cal felt like this plump finger on which there shone a cheap silver ring, hit him on his very heart like a burning poker, where it turned from a poker into a shovel, which was now digging a hole, to get to the truth, deeply hidden there. "Well?" she added quite coldly when Cal didn't answer – for a short time he needed to gather his thoughts, he used to clear his throat once more but even this very short moment was too long for the woman who came to the conclusion that the answer was so simple that it didn't need time to concentrate on it. Until, of course, the asked person had something to hide. But what? It was what she was going to find out.

"Second class" Cal finally uttered, looking at the women gathering him. For some reason this silent gathering of people in black (the night made their clothes look black at the first sight, at least, regardless of what the real color of their long, sprinkled by the salty water dresses was) looking at him in a very derogatory way started to scare him. It didn't seem to be just a nice conversation. It was an interrogation.

"I think I have seen him" another woman from the boat spoke up – one that so far didn't participated in that interrogation. She was an old lady with her full face covered with a net of wrinkles – Cal could see even at night and from a distance that she wasn't young. Even her voice was one of an old woman. It also had a derogatory sounding to it. "Yes, I think I saw him before" the old woman kept saying in pensiveness, as if speaking just to herself, trying to elicit from her memory the image she had seen before to resurrect it in front of her eyes. "This man was talking to some women in smart clothes; I saw him on the board. They looked like the first class passengers. Those luxurious dresses… He is one of them, you can guess – this tuxedo… I heard one of those women - such a young girl with ginger hair - called him Caledon. And he claims his name is Arthur Branwell. He just acquired the identity of another person" the old lady finished. The others nodded. The atmosphere got thicker. All the women from the boat started to listen to this conversation, greedily pricking up their ears.

"Caledon?" the woman with a squeaky, unpleasant voice but with big beautiful eyes resembling the eyes of Rose – Cal noticed – repeated. "Caledon Hockley? There was indeed a Caledon on the board. That famous steel tycoon. I don't know what he looks like but a Caledon… well, it's not a John or a James. There aren't many men of this name. I read in a newspaper he is a bachelor going to marry a young woman from the high society. He doesn't have any children to the best of my knowledge, then."

Caledon Hockley started to sweat. He felt very small and very insignificant. It wasn't a feeling he was used to feel -and it was not a nice feeling. As much as unused he was to it, he could already say that it wasn't pleasant. One of the least pleasant feelings he had an occasion to feel, actually. He didn't dare to raise his gaze. He felt his cheeks got very hot and somehow… stiff – this was the best way he could describe it. If he could see himself – if he had a mirror and if it wasn't so dark – he could see his perfectly shaved cheeks were covered with an intensive purple blush.

"So who is this child, then?" Mrs. Stevens blared again, looking accusingly at him. The man shuddered. Her daughter shared her sulky gaze with her mother. It seemed any positive feeling the teen could previously feel toward the nice father of cute little Mary… no, Helen, left her, replaced by the feeling of pure contempt. Her gloomy gaze, as dark as the night sky stretching above them – was directed at the man in the torn off tuxedo who started to sweat and feel like shrinking to become so small so as no one could see him. And the best thing would be if he dispersed in the air. And it seemed that Henrietta ("you can call me Hetty, oh, you great father of this little cutie whom I could eat"), though the youngest in the lifeboat (but for little "Mary Helen" and two other little girls, not much older; certainly young enough to be able to fall asleep in their mothers' laps, which they just did; toddlers fall asleep easily in any circumstances) showed she was the owner of the sharpest mind in there.

"Let's ask her" she proposed. She touched the shoulder of the child who was now sitting in the lap of the woman who took her from Cal's arms and who so far wasn't talking, more interested in her own survival than in who was the real father of the child she was holding now. The child, playing with the hem of her own long worn off skirt, budged and raised her head, staring innocently with a not understanding much gaze at the big girl who was previously so nice to her. She smiled. Hetty smiled back. But only her mouth smiled. In her eyes – cold now – there was no smile. "Tell me Helen" your name is Helen, yes? ("Helen" the toddler repeated, smiling even more widely, while on the faces of the women there appeared anger more intensive than before) – then tell me Helen, is he your daddy?"

"He's not my daddy" Helen said, shaking her head covered by a scarf. Yes, Helen, she couldn't be named anything else, as the sneaky man didn't have anything to do with this cute little angel. He just couldn't. He couldn't have chosen the name for her. The child admitted this. And now started to pout. She winced her little mouth that started to shiver. Certainly the child recalled that out there was her real dad who, the women hoped, was a much better person who could take care of his daughter better than this sneaky bastard, Caledon Hockley.

"I want my daddy" the girl started to cry. "I want my mommy! The rest of her words were muffled; they child was crying now on the top of her little lungs as she was doing at the beginning of the first "meeting" of herself and her unexpected savior. Who now got a name – a real name of Caledon Hockley, not Arthur Branwell, the same as the child got a real name of Helen, not one of Mary. Helen who? Stockworth? If she really was the child of her, if she survived the catastrophe (though given that she was a third class passenger, she had small chances for this), she could take care of her missing child herself, happy and grateful to God in heaven the child she had thought to be dead, survived. And if not –– well, maybe there was a husband Mrs. Stockworth left out there in the safe world outside the one that seemed to consist of the ocean only (the survivors couldn't believe in this state of mind there was actually any world out there; a safe world of safe ground) – a loving father better than "Arthur Branwell". Or rather… Caledon Hockley.

"I saw that child before" the woman who had the wailing child in her lap spoke up slowly. "You know, when I was going to the boat, I saw her crying in a corner. There was no one who could take care of her. She was there all alone and forgotten. I thought so far that maybe Mr. Branwell… Mr. Hockley got separated from her during the evacuation and later on managed to find her but now when Mrs. Hornbeck said she heard him being called Caledon, I think he just found her and took her to sneak away from the ship."

After those words there was a deathly silence that fell. The words of the woman who took the child from Cal, together with those of what Mrs. Hornbeck – the old lady who saw him with Rose and Ruth - sealed his fate. The women – and one girl; plump and looking more like an angry whale than anything else – were giving the man gloomy looks. No one said anything; there were only those angry looks expressing pure hatred – given to him even by those who were sitting at the other end of the boat and didn't participated in this exchange of words. They felt he had no right to get in the boat, taking the place of someone who deserved it more in their opinion. Another woman or a child. It seemed the whole world shrunk to this small lifeboat where the only sensation was the touch of the ice cold air on the skin and the sound of the oars hitting the surface of the water was the only one that reached the ears of Cal. This – and the sound of his own rapidly pounding heart in his chest that was reverberating in his ears – were the only sounds he heard. The silence that fell was so thick one could cut it with a knife. Out of a sudden, Caledon Hockley, a steel tycoon, Rose's fiancée and once the richest man on the ship – before everything started to go all wrong – once again felt really small and insignificant. Like he was just a tiny dot in the world. As if instead of being one of the richest man in the whole States, the heir to one of the biggest fortunes he was going to get access to after the death of his father, Nathan Hockley, he was just one of those tiny, pale far stars that specked the black sky that stretched above the heads of the survivors of Titanic. He felt someone's touch from behind around his waist. Unexpectedly, someone's strong arms were holding him, keeping him tight, not letting him out. He shuddered, looking around to check what it was. Although he already did know this, even before checking. Strong plump arms… those could be only the ones of Mrs. Stevens.

"You are an evil man" the deep voice of the obese woman blared in his ears. It was all she could say – any other words would be too much for the angry woman. It was all she could exert herself to say. Cal suddenly found he couldn't say anything - even ask "what… what are you doing?"– he didn't know what he could say. To ask them for forgiveness? To try to excuse himself? He didn't know and had no time to think over – he felt how someone – Mrs. Stevens, of course – lift him from the bench of the boat in which he was sitting here a moment ago so safely and so sure of rescue. He tried to save himself, even if the clutches of the arms of the obese lady were holding him not only tight enough to make him unable to get out but also making it practically unable for him to take a breath at all. And all of this happened so unexpectedly that the man couldn't even prepare mentally for this. And what happened later. Out of a sudden, Hetty joined her mother. Her arms clutched him, too. She helped her hold him with no words. Any sounds actually were limited to just some muffled moans of the women from the boat who in spite of this, did nothing to prevent him from what happened next. From his unexpectedly falling down the boat, pushed away and hitting the ice cold surface of the Atlantic Ocean, on which there were still lying the pieces of debris and the frozen bodies of those who didn't make it. Cal knew he was going to join them very soon if he didn't think over what he could do to get out of this situation, just as some time earlier he got out of the drowning Titanic, although in all honesty, nothing more could be done than pleading for mercy and screaming for help.

But Cal didn't do any of those. Screaming was something he couldn't do being almost strangled by the arms of the obese lady and her daughter helping her mother without any remorse. No pricks of conscience showed themselves on the faces of both the women. Nor on the faces of the women from the boat – though – if Cal could have time to take a look at them – to do anything else than try to save his life although he even didn't know how he could do this – some of their faces indeed expressed pure shock. But none did anything, regardless of how they could feel about this. The women looked at how Cal's body was going down, hitting the surface of the ocean. He let out a muffled scream of shock but the touch of the cold water on his body was everything that took away from his any ability to scream. With a muffled shocked moan, the man went down. It didn't last long – Cal Hockley couldn't swim. He couldn't last long, even if the water wasn't so cold. The women from the boat were looking at him, fighting helplessly, from the boat that was now moving away faster and faster from the place that was now going to be the unmarked by any sign place of eternal rest of the man who was known as Caledon Hockley. The other women looked with shock, as if they couldn't believe what happened. No one said anything. Even little Helen – who stopped wailing a long time before, rocked and talked gently to by the woman holding her – was silent. She didn't even see what had happened – her new "mom" - the woman who assumed the position of one for the time spent by them in this lifeboat –pressed her face to her stomach, so as the child couldn't see anything, stroking her hair. The child didn't even pay any special attention to the sounds made by Cal. The silence was broken only by the sounds of the oars hitting the water that splashed. Any other lifeboats filled with people who could say something, were far away. Until young Henrietta's way too sweet voice resounded in the clear cold air like the voice of an angel of doom.

"He was a bad man and deserved it, mom. We can't say about what happened; we would go to prison. He was a very rich man. If someone asked, we can say he fell of the boat himself. That he leaned over the board too much and just fell off. Luckily Gertie and Muriel are asleep, so they won't tell anyone" she added, pointing the two little girls not much older than little Helen who were sleeping in their mothers' laps. "And Helen didn't see anything, thank God. Miss Murray was holding her all the time so she couldn't see anything. You can't say anyone" the girl kept saying and her voice was very rational. Like the voice of a politician. If women ever got the right to vote, certainly young Henrietta Stevens would make a great one. Caledon Hockley would have thought this for sure not without admiration, if he was still alive and sitting with them on the bench of the lifeboat and not floating in the ocean as a dead body, which already started to get frozen. "If you ever say anyone, no one is ever going to believe you, anyway." The girl broke off and puffing on her cold hands, took a look at the little girl still sitting in Miss Murray's lap. Her ugly face got lit up with a look of maternal tenderness. "This man couldn't have anything to do with this cute little angel" she said. "He couldn't be her father, I suspected this from the very beginning. I only pretended I believed him, imagine that" she added, pushing her lower lip ahead a bit, which gave her face a sulky look. "I just pretended; I wasn't so stupid so as to believe this man. Anyway, she even didn't look like a Mary" she said. "She's so precious, one little jewel. If you asked me, I would name her Opal or Ruby. Or Pearl, maybe. Not Mary. I knew he was not her dad. She didn't look like a common, garden variety Mary" the young woman said with almost a tone of proudness.

The oars were hitting the ocean surface rhythmically. Two other women changed the ones who were doing this work; already tired ones from the huge strain. The lifeboat was faster and faster moving away from the place where Titanic sank and from the unmarked water grave of the man who once was a heir to one of the biggest American fortunes; Caledon Hockley. The women from the lifeboat were going to keep their secret. Rose DeWitt Bukater maybe lost her beloved one during this fateful night but also the man she didn't love perished on this night. Though Rose didn't know this yet, she was free.

A couple of hours later; the morning.

Carpathia's board was swarmed with people trying to find their loved ones. Their excited voices shouting the names of their mothers, sisters, children reverberated in the cool clean morning air. Sarah! Frances! Henry! You are alive! People fell into each other arms, crying – just as much out of happiness that the separated family members survived this horrible catastrophe that was going to get recorded in people's memory – and history – for very long – or out of sadness in case of those who suddenly realized that those with whom they got separated during this fateful night, were lost forever in the ice cold waves of the ocean and ever since were going to live on only in the memory of those who loved them. Among those who were trying to find their missing loved ones there were also two second class women looking at the crowd of numerous survivors of Titanic. One of them; a very attractive, even if a little bit too freckled, young woman with her ginger hair exposed holding her little boy's hand in one of her own hands and her hat adorned with artificial flowers in another one, was talking to her companion – a much older lady wearing a lacy black dress – a telltale sign of widowhood. The older woman lost her husband recently but it didn't take place on that fateful night when Titanic sank; it was a story that had nothing to do with the history of the ship that once the pride of the White Star line, was now a mere miserable pile of metal debris at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Sic transit gloria mundi. Her personal loss nor the ordeal of the last night they both went through before they got rescued by Carpathia seemingly didn't soften her personality of a gossipmonger, always looking for a new scandal to share with someone. She had just found one interlocutor, in person of the pretty ginger haired mom of the small boy whose hand the aforementioned was holding.

"That's the woman I told you about, then, Mrs. Bronson, when we were still on Titanic. She was saved, too, together with her children, I see. She managed to survive. I was afraid she was not going to go to the lifeboat but no, although she was spending all the time in her room, then she was on the very board to call her children. We started to talk and then I told her to go to the boat instantly – to go to take her bags and enter the lifeboat as soon as possible. One woman, Mrs. King, whom she befriended on Titanic, promised her she would take her children with her own ones because they were playing together in a distant part of the board and would take care of all of them. So she agreed. She hesitated but I convinced her Mrs. King was going to go for her children and to take care of them. There was no time for looking for the children; I managed to convince her. Mrs. King was going to keep her word. She befriended her and their children played together. We were both in the same lifeboat but Mrs. King was certainly in another one together with the kids" – the widow said in an indignant voice, bowing down to the ear of the younger woman, much shorter than herself.

She reached her hand towards the person she was talking about - another young woman strolling through the distant part of the board, around whom two small girls were playing. One of them was a girl of maybe eight or nine with her dark, very curly (though still slightly wet, the same as her dress) hair left loose, as if the girl wanted to boast about the abundance of her hair, another one – much younger than her sister, was just a small child convulsively holding her Kewpie doll with one her small hand and with her other one her mother's dress she clutched. The mother herself was a very handsome woman – relatively young – if she even had already turned thirty, it couldn't be a long time ago – and quite pretty, looking actually very like a bit older version of Mary Pickford. Her hair was kept in a disheveled bun and judging from the curly, a bit too long bangs covering her forehead, if she put it totally loose, a cascade of strikingly curly, only much lighter, hair, resembling the one of her older daughter, would flow down her shoulders. Her younger daughter, a young child, didn't inherit the hair of her mother otherwise than when it comes to its color. It was not curly yet just as fair. A bit wavy, yes, but not resembling the one of her mother and sister at all; and fair, cut short, almost like the hair of a small boy. The woman and the children were walking the board, away from this part of it that was crowded by people greeting their beloved ones, with whom they were separated during the evacuation, not knowing that they just became the subject of the conversation between the woman in her widow attire and her ginger haired companion, on the faces of whom there appeared a sight of curiosity.

"So that's Jane; take a closer look" the older woman got excited, trying to show her discretely with her finger to her friend. "I knew her from Southampton, as I told you then, before the ship hit the iceberg. I went out to check what was going on and I met Jane who wanted to call her children. I instantly went to my room to pack my bags – just in case – and I told her to do the same. I knew something was wrong, I told you. I always do. I can sniff danger anywhere. I took my chest containing all my clothes. When I entered the boat, they let us take them; then there was no need to hurry up; the boats were lowered down not being full. I shared my clothes with those who were not as lucky as myself nor thoughtful enough to go the lifeboats at the beginning. I was one of the first people who went to the lifeboat, maybe but for some of the first class folks. It was when they still let us take our baggage. I took mine – all my dresses I borrowed to those who were less lucky. I will have to remember to take them back afterwards, when we already reach the shore and their own clothes are already dried up a bit. I will after all need them after the period of my widowhood ends. I borrowed my brown dress to Jane" she said pointing her finger at the woman with children.

"She looks like Mary Pickford" she giggled a bit "though you must agree she isn't as innocent as Mary Pickford is. Or as she herself seems. Imagine; coming back to the story as I told you, not finishing it; just imagine: a couple of years earlier Jane was a respectable woman. Not very wealthy but respectable. She was married and had a small daughter. A respectable woman" she repeated again with deep tone and thought in her voice. "But only think of that: Jane Howard left her husband for another man whom she accidentally met in the house, in which she worked as a servant and who got her pregnant. And then, as soon as he did, this time it was him who left her! He had to get bored with her. Her husband didn't want to take her back, of course, so after some time, they got a divorce –what a scandal, can you imagine? He did take her back for a short time after she gave birth but they were quarreling all the time – he was claiming he wasn't going to pay for the child that wasn't even his own and that he even couldn't be sure if the older child was also his own daughter – if she did cheat on him once, how could he know she wasn't doing this all the time? So they got a divorce; it was very recently."

Mrs. Bronson nodded absent mindedly, tracking with her gaze the "fallen woman" her older friend – Mrs. Cadwallader, whom she befriended during their short cruise on Titanic before everything started to go wrong – had told her about. Mrs. Cadwallader – a very talkative lady in her fifties who so far managed to share with her younger friend the story of the tragic death of her husband three months ago ("my poor Wilbur died of a blood infection after he cut his finger"), the one that concerned the choice of the name for her granddaughter ("my Harriett wanted to name her Mildred after her older sister that died, poor thing, as a baby, but her husband opposed so they finally decided on a Dorothy",) and tell her the names of all her pet cats she left in the States where she was coming back from her sister's house in Southampton in England, when finally was out of topics of conversations, saw on the board the woman she knew from England which caused her to share all the details of the love affair of the aforementioned.

"As poor Jane – a good but naïve – very naive girl -was left in shame" Mrs. Cadwallader was cheerfully talking on, covering her mouth with a big hand covered with a worn off lacy black glove, not to be heard by her – by anyone, for that matter but for the person for whose ears the story was intended "She decided to go to the States to live with her sisters in New York. She even changed her name a bit. And started to use her maiden name again – I heard her being called by her maiden name by Mrs. King. So as no one knew her real identity, I'm sure that's why. So she could pass for a respectable widow and not for" Mrs. Cadwallader spat those last words, looking at her companion with cheeks blushing out of excitation, to check if she made a strong enough impression "for a fallen woman" – she ended her story, in a triumphant voice. "And this is how she ended up on Titanic. I recognized her instantly although I hadn't seen her for a long time. I think it was why she was hiding in her room all the time – she didn't want to meet me; a person from her past. Because she noticed me, too, I bet it was like this. I preferred being on the board so she decided on staying in her room, letting only her children out. Well" the woman added mercifully "let's hope Jane is going to find a better life in the new country where no one is going to know about her shameful past. And she was such a respectable young woman" she added, sighting.

"And what about the man who left her?" Mrs. Bronson got suddenly interested. The whole story of Jane Howard and her unhappy love did actually bore her but the young woman didn't want to show this to her companion. Who else, after all, was she going to talk to until the ship reaches the American shore? Her little Walt was a lovely child, a dream of every mother but being just five, didn't make the best partner of conversation. And Mrs. Cadwallader indeed knew how to be one – well, what she knew better was actually how to bore one to death but even such a conversation partner is better than none. "How did it end? Did you know him?"

"No, my dear" the gossipmonger's face lit up a wide, self-contented smile again. For a moment she looked like a Persian cat that got to the cream and was purring now of pure delight. A gossip heaven – to find a conversation partner eager to listen to all one's stories, not breaking off.

"Mavis, my dear… can I call you by your name? Yes. What were we talking about? So, I never saw that man; I was already living then in the USA where we moved out with my Wilbur to look for a better life, right after we married. No, I wasn't there but I know that story from my sister's story as she told me. The man was not an Englishman and he fell in love with this woman – he didn't care that a married one" Mrs. Cadwallader stressed. "I never saw him and I doubt I'll ever do. And that poor Jane and her children ever will. Let's hope this poor woman will manage to build a better life for her and her daughter. For both her daughters" she corrected herself. She covered her mouth with her hand in a worn off black glove covered with an intricate pattern once more and lowered her voice, as the resembling the movie star Mary Pickford young woman wearing her dress was coming near. She smiled, as if trying to thank the woman for the dress she borrowed her, as she lost everything she had in the Titanic crash when her bags were washed away by a wave when it almost turned the lifeboat round. Both the women exchanged quick smiles – passing Jane's one was much warmer – and then Mrs. Cadwallader and Mrs. Bronson - no, now already not Mrs. Bronson but Mavis; just Mavis to her older companion – both respectable women who wouldn't ever hit upon an idea to bring disgrace to their families and their good names like this unlucky Jane – both those respectable ladies came back to their conversation after Mrs. Howard was far enough to be unable to listen to them.

Jane came back to her maiden name, as I said, from what I heard about this" said Mrs. Cadwallader musingly, looking at "Mary Pickford" who had no idea she became the object of the conversation, strolling through the board of Carpathia in the cold morning air but seeming not to pay any attention to this, holding the hands of her daughters in hers. " And she is using a shortened version of her first name now – she had a double barreled one. I heard someone call her by this. Very practical. You know, my Harriett also has one. Harriett Mae. My Wilbur insisted. Mae is after his mother. But she uses just this one. Jane is doing the same. To remain unrecognized in case there was someone from her old life who could know her and to try to build a better one. When in England she used her first one but now she uses the second name she's going to be known under. It's a very practical thing to have a double barreled name indeed. I wish all the best to her. I really do. Maybe she's naïve but she does have a good heart from what I heard about her. So I wish her and her children all the best she could achieve in her new life under a new name. I wish all the best to Mary Jane Howard. Or maybe rather to Jane Stockworth now, I should say. And to her little ones; Ethel and Helen. I heard her call them. And as for the man who dumped her – well, I hope she won't meet this bastard Arthur Branwell anymore."

Write a Review Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Herbina
Continue Reading
Further Recommendations

Carolyn Hahn-Re: I really liked this story! The writing was well done, and the plot was suspenseful. I couldn't stop reading chapter after chapter, on the edge of my seat! The characters were well developed, and true to form. Thank you so much for this wonderful read.

cicheah: Very well-knit story which sustains one's interest from beginning to end. Most enjoyable and a pleasure to read.

PaulSenkel: If you like Arthur C. Clarke's Odyssey, especially The Final Odyssey, then you will probably also enjoy this book. I definitely did.It does, however, address a more adolescent public than the above-mentioned book.I enjoyed the story and finished it in a few days. The overall situation on earth an...

Dave Allen: Well-rounded. well-detailed story. Bull's done a thorough job developing her characters. An intriguing read!

Melderise: This is just an amazing novel that teaches you how to break the bonds of reality. It shows how the most fascinating story can start from the most regular environment and then leading the reader to the dream destinations...

aeratheninja: Interestingly enough, this story touches on different psychological states and was very informing, on top of being a solid story. Although somewhat predictable, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this; I could feel the fear and the frustration of the characters, and was happy when they were happy.Even ...

Noelle Anselmo: Jesus H Christ! When I saw this was a genderbent I though it was just gonna be the two main characters, but I was so wrong and I LOVED IT! I had no clue where you were going with it, and I was waiting for the make up, was dreading the possibility of not making up, and just how you had the story u...

: I took 1 day to finish this book and it was amazing! I hate it when some writers write typical melo-romance, i need something fresh and new, and saw this book. I was so amaze when i read and walah it was fantastic. Keep producing a good novel xx

Sandra Estrada: I loved every minute of it and I thank my lucky stars that brought me to the story, it's been a whirlwind of emotions, plot twist after plot twist but I never got tired of them. Abby and Kade's story is a hard one to understand but once you're submerged in their story and love, you can't help but...

This story wasn't for you ?
Look at our most viral stories!
Iosaghar

FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"

The Cyneweard

Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."

This story wasn't for you ?
Look at our most viral story!
Spectra

Ro-Ange Olson: "Loved it and couldn't put it down. I really hope there is a sequel. Well written and the plot really moves forward."