10th of April 1912.
You know that I do not keep a diary, and it saddens me that you will never be able to read this, but I want to tell you what is happening with my recent excursions.
But I am finally here! Oh, you would not believe how beautiful and huge the Titanic is! Yes, sailing is not my first time since you used to take me during your business trips with Henri. You always used to say that it is good for me to see a glimpse of the world while I’m still young, and to tell you the truth, some of your meetings were a bore! But I’m glad I did not waste any opportunity to be with you.
The Titanic is nothing like anything we aboard in, father! It’s like I was walking in one of the palace’s chambers, but it’s in a ship! I am amazed by how much she can carry.
As I made my way to the first-and-second class gangway, I looked and observed the people around me. I have not seen this many people in my entire short life! Ladies dressed in the latest Parisian fashions, and men with silk cravats, walked elegantly to the doors that led to the first and second classes. Their clothes were beautiful, but nothing compares to Auntie’s, of course.
When Henri walked beside me, I linked my arm around him. Henri Colinsfirth, the lad who made me laugh so hard when I was still a kid. He was your best friend and business partner and makes him my business partner now as well, I suppose. And of course, trailing behind us, my private tutor, Ms Sadie Abram will never leave my side until I become the lady you wanted me to be. And Jane, my lady-in-waiting or maid, as what Ms Abram always preferred, who became my best friend, followed behind her with the other servants. I wish I could help some of my maids trailing behind, who were laden with boxes.
Passing the third-class passengers on the way, I also observed at them, hard-faced, serious men and women holding bundles and babies, dressed in rough clothes and pulled-down flat caps. I wished I could help them see what beauty the Titanic held for us, not just for entitled first-and-second-class passengers. Yet, my heart is filled with joy when I see hopes on their faces. We all have the same goal. We were all here for the bright future.
Excuse my mixed emotions, father. I just could not seem to process all of this. It is overwhelming. I miss you so much, and this is the absolute first time, I will be travelling without you by my side; to hold my hand whenever I get sick and scared. But I will be brave. I promise you that.
As we walked further to the entrance, the shadows loomed over us. I looked up to the clear blue skies before we entered the ship. Henri must have noticed the doubts colouring on my face because he placed his hand atop mine and squeezed my hand. My eyes drifted to his, and he gave me a warm smile. That small gesture made me feel a little bit better.
So, I met Auntie’s friend, just as I got greeted by my bedroom steward. Mr Thomas Andrews introduced himself to us, and I see why he is one of her closest friends. He personally led me to my suite, and he was so kind as to help carry some boxes. He told me about Aunt’s surprise, but he will give it to me on my birthday. Now I wonder what it is.
Oh, and he also mentioned about the Marconigram! I have heard about this new wireless technology, and it is fascinating! I cannot wait to hear from Aunt soon, like post-haste, but better! Although should I worry about the price if I write her a long note?
Henri’s room is next to mine, and Ms Abram’s down the corridor. Jane is on the Cabin class stateroom. I think it is on E Deck. I will pay her a visit once I get out of Ms Abram’s leash and sight.
As I let the maids take over and placing my things in my room, I went to Henri, knocking on his door, and sat on the writing desk. He smiled when I entered his suite, and I watched him placed his clothes on the bed.
‘Where are your valets?’ I wondered out loud, walking closer, and leaned on one of the crooks of the bed.
Henri chuckled, still organizing his outfits, and pulling out his necessities. ‘Sierra, for a lad like me who travels a lot, I can manage my own.’ He straightened up and smiled at me. ‘At least, I would not be asking where my stuff is.’
I threw a pillow at him and mockingly laughed. He did too as he put the pillow back. I watched him continue placing out the contents of his trunk.
When I felt the rumbling begun below my feet as I removed my hat and placed it on the bed, I knew that the Titanic is leaving port. That was the moment when it hit me, blinded by her beauty and tremendous elegance; I forgot all about what just happened. I pulled Henri with me and rushed to the boat deck. We looked below, and as tugboats push and pull her out of the harbour, men cast off thick ropes tying the ship to the docks.
I saw passengers leaning over the railings, waving their hands and hats. Some were calling out their goodbyes, and best wishes to those people left behind. Henri was also doing the same, excitedly shouting and waving his hat to the crown while I felt the battle between my mind and heart. So, I just stared at the hundred faces mixed with happiness, sadness, fear, and excitement. It was real.
I took one last look at Southampton docks, now diminishing into the distance across the glittering blue of the harbour. Henri snuggled me against his arms as I contemplated that I was leaving my beloved home, and only God knows how long I’d be gone, but I’d be lying if I said I was not looking forward to what would be coming for me.
The assigned bedroom steward was out of breath when she found me, and she looked cross, I might add. The steward led us back to our suites. Henri chuckled and ruffled my hair as he went to his room. When I entered mine, there I saw Ms Abram, waiting at the nicely decorated coffee table in the sitting room, asking me where I had been. I apologized due to my ill behaviour as she tipped the steward and asked to meet us and prepare a menu for luncheon on whichever restaurant was the best. I asked Ms Abram to take the day off since I was feeling generous. Also, I wanted to be alone, but she did not agree with my proposition.
She took out a book from her trunk and told me that we were going to Henri’s associate’s private promenade to have lunch and study afterwards. As we waited for the service to arrive when we got there, she instructed me to recite the first chapter of Sense and Sensibility, loud and clear. After we ate, she told me to continue reading out loud. I adore Austen’s works completely, but instead of exploring this new world, reading for hours made my throat dry, and since I had read the copy a couple of times before, it made me feel bored.
Do you remember the time when I was still thirteen? We visited the Philippines. You and Henri were in Manila having a meeting about the progress of excavation in Bicol. You left me in mother’s childhood home. The windows were wide open that I could hear the dogs’ barks, roosters’ cackling and, horses’ prances on the road.
I was looking out as the church bell tolling loudly for the house was close to it, and I saw people gathering, talking, and laughing loudly at the plaza. Some were lighting up the lamps as the stars appeared at the darkening sky. I recalled sweet grandmama said there was a fiesta and we ought to head downstairs to celebrate. I knew it was a strange land where no one really knew how to speak our language, but everyone was friendly.
I lost track of where grandpapa and grandmama went, but I knew exactly, where mother’s home was. So, I did not mind wandering somewhere, satisfying my craving for seeing that unknown place.
I had a lot of fun meeting and dancing with people, but it was worse for you. You were so worried that you even called out a search party to look for me. Strangers who saw me led you to me because I was not hard to find, right? I was different, after all, so, I was easily distinguished. You found me in mother’s garden near the Pasig River. I had never seen you so troubled that I felt sorry for making you upset. That night, I swore I would never wander off alone without you knowing about it.