The Titanic had set sail several hours ago. Anna was sitting at a table in the corner of the First Class A La Carte Restaurant with her mother, Francis and fiancé, Dimitri. Anna’s long black hair fell in loose waves down her shoulders and she wore a very flattering empire waist, red silk and black lace gown. The dress fit tightly around her bust, showing off her womanly curves. An embroidered black, red and silver necklace clasped around her neck and diamond studs in her ear. On her feet, Anna wore a black, Mary Jane pump with a simple 2-inch heel.
At the table Anna could barely stomach her mother’s wedding talk. It just reminded her of how much she hated Dimitri, but she didn’t have a choice in whom she married which annoyed her to no end. Anna was very stubborn; she would look for any excuse to leave that table. She was just about to fake a stomach virus when her good friend, Lucille came over to the table stating that she needed to steal Anna away for a very important emergency.
Of course Anna’s mother and fiancé protested, but before they could do anything, Anna had jumped up and ran off with Lucille, thanking her so much for an escape. Anna didn’t even care where Lucille was taking her, until Lucille led her across the ship and to the stairs leading to the second and third class quarters.
“Lucy? Where are we going?” Anna asked.
“Don’t worry Anna,” Lucille laughed. “I met this handsome guy while boarding the ship yesterday, he said that there would be a party in the second and third class lounge. I know you are engaged, but surely a party will be better than being bored to death with your mother and that monster you call a fiancé.”
Anna would just laugh and wrap her arm around her friend’s “Say no more.”
Mathieu sat out on general deck, his sister was out dancing with a man she had met while boarding. Meanwhile he was sitting down staring out the window he played with a gold and ruby pocket watch. He had been ignoring most of the room of people who were celebrating as the others danced, music blared, he just stared at his watch.
It was his father's, he'd always talked about how every man should carry a watch, it was a mark of being civilized and educated. While he had little else, he did have his education and his sister had one as well they would find work in America, they had too. Sliding his watch back into his pocket he pulled out a cigarette and walked out to look up at the moon.
He remembered a woman he'd bumped into while boarding, she'd mentioned she was going to be at this party. While his recent troubles with women had given him cause to avoid them he wouldn't mind a dance. So putting out his smoke in an ashtray and straightening his vest and fixing his hair he stepped into the room. His black pants and belt showed off the silver in his belt buckle while the white of his shirt was offset by the velvet red of his vest. His eyes looked around, trying to spot the girl he'd met while boarding though if he couldn't find her he would just walk down to the third class area. He'd met quite a few nice ladies down their while he was helping them load up for the trip.
Anna and Lucille walked into the lounge shared by second and third class, watching the other guests dancing and socializing. The music was already cheering Anna up. She would turn to Lucy and ask, "Where is the handsome man you met while boarding?" Lucy looked around the full room and shrugged, "Maybe he is not here yet." Almost immediately Anna pulled Lucille over to the right side of the room to the bar. Both ladies picked up beer mugs and started to swallow the bitter liquid inside.
The girls did stand out a bit, their clothing was luxurious, and less dull than the clothes of the other girls. Even in the dimmed lighting of the lounge, the beading of their dresses sparkled and caught one's eyes. First class inhabitants basically had free reign of the ship, it was the second and third class who couldn't even be caught dead on the first class section of the boat.
Anna didn't even care about what class was which, the people around her obviously knew how to have a much better time than those upstairs. She finished half of her beer before setting it down on the bar top and grabbing Lucille's hand to dance. The girls started to dance around among the other on the dance floor, it didn't take long before they caught the attention of lower class men who joined in to dance with them. Quickly, Anna's thoughts of her fiance and their wedding slipped her mind as she danced with a handsome young man who couldn't be much older than herself.
Mathieu saw a man dancing with a girl, she was gorgeous her dress clung to like it wanted to be there, so joining in the crowd he stepped up to cut in. "L'esprit si je coupe en?" (Mind if I cut in?) He spoke to the man who moved aside and he took Anna's hands to dance with her. It was faster song, he preferred the classics but it was good none the last and assuredly something he could dance to as he enjoyed the company of his partner song after song. Occasionally taking his eyes from her to check on his sister, make sure some cad wasn't walking her back to her room for more than entitled to.
Finally he spoke up as he loosened his collar a little and checked his watch. "Madame, would you like a drink?" He asked, his French accent thick as his eyes looked towards the bar smiling at the though of a drink. "Wine or beer?" He asked as stepped off the dance floor, they had been out their for awhile now and he had yet to have a drink having only just had dinner before the party started.
"Your in first class yes? I work in watches, people who wear jewelry like what you have on would not travel in second class. I assume your not traveling to start over again in America?" He asked as bartender poured him wine, he gestured for the bartender to get Anna what she wanted, he could cover the charge. "Have you come down to drink with us because the wine above is tainted with conceited and greedy?" He chuckled at his own as he drank.
As Anna danced with the gentleman, she was able to fully let go and just be herself. None of the people knew who she was except for Lucille. Anna didn't have to worry here about engagements or protecting her family name. No one here was watching her to see if she would make a mistake, she felt so free of her burdens for this one night. Of course if her mother found out, she'd probably be locked in her room for the rest of the voyage.
As the songs changed, Anna clapped along with everyone else. She watched as a fine, Frenchman appeared and asked to cut in. Her initial partner looked to her as if to ask if it was okay and Anna smiled and nodded, "Thank you." It had been a while since a man had even considered her opinion. When the music started again, she resumed dancing with her new partner. Taking his hands, she smiled as they made their way around the floor, spinning and dipping. He was a great dancer, leading her and having no problem with the fast pace of the song. After a few more dances, Anna was indeed tired, she could use a refresher.
"Oh please, after such fine dancing you can call me Anna," she said with a gentle laugh as she offered her his hand to shake or kiss, however Frenchmen preferred. She would then look through the crowd as they approached the bar, seeing Lucille still on the dance floor with a handsome, blonde male, possibly the guy she had met while boarding. Anna didn't really care about that at the moment, Lucille was more than capable of handling herself, Anna was more interested in spending the short time she had left at the party getting to know her handsome partner, his accent just making him more intriguing.
Anna had already had a beer so she smiled and replied, "A wine would be great, thank you." Realizing that she had no coins because this was a surprise, she blushed a bit. "I do not have any coins, I will be in your debt, kind sir," she smiled, accepting the wine glass from the bartender. Anna took a rather large swallow of the sweet drink when he asked if she was from first class, "Is it that obvious?" she asked with a short laugh, eyeing his watch. "How interesting, I've never met a watchman before," she nodded, taking another sip of her drink.
Anna didn't want to tell him the real reason for her being on the ship, "No, I am not starting over in America, although I wish I could, I am not that privileged," she smiled. She really appreciated his humor, and laughed at his last comment, "With all the greed and conceit, I'm surprised that there is even any wine left on this ship," she said, shaking her head and finishing her drink.
Anna was having such a good time, she didn't even notice Lucille as she made her way over to the two. "Excuse me sir, I am sorry, but the lady and I must return to our cabins," she said, with a bow to Mathieu. Anna frowned as Lucille wrapped her arm around Anna, she really didn't want the night to end, but she knew it was best to leave now before her mother or fiance grew curious of her whereabouts.
Mathieu nodded as Anna's friend came over to collect her. "Yes it is getting late. I should go collect my sister before she drinks to much." He responded finishing his wine before paying for his and Anna's drink. "My name Mathieu Chevalier." He told them woman before giving a humble bow and heading off into the crowd to collect his sister and return to his cabin.
Lis had danced with near a dozen boys, about half of which had purchased her a glass of wine as well. The young woman was not drunk however she could hardly walk in a straight line. When Mathieu arrive she hugged him and began to prattle on about the wonders of the ship and how nice it was. Mathieu took her hand, nodding and laughing with her as he led her from the dance floor out towards the door.
Moments after clear the dance floor she collapsed against him, exhausted and so with careful grace he picked up his sister and carried her back down the hall. Pausing a moment to look up the stair that led to first class he sighed and kept going Lis in arms soon sound asleep. He got her back to her room laying her down in bed and getting her covered up. He moved next to the desk in the room, he was working on timepiece one that was to his masterpiece that could easily get them housing in America or feed them for months should it have to be sold.
He worked for a couple more hours, setting springs and tightly winding coils making sure that as pretty as it was it would still keep impeccable time. Putting it back on the desk in a small safe little box he changed out of his formal wear and prepared for bed. He chuckled remembering Anna from earlier her smile, and laugh a very polite and kind woman. Perhaps he could make a friend while here and have someone to talk to here and even perhaps after arriving in the states.
Anna set her empty glass on the bar top and waved at Mathieu, "It was great meeting you Sir Mathieu...hopefully it won't be our last encounter." Anna would smile and curtsy to him before going off with Lucille. They went upstairs, both a little buzzed as they laughed and talked with such excitement about the party while on their way to first class.
Anna and Lucille parted, hugging each other tightly before Lucille went right and Anna went left at the grand steps leading outside of the steps. Anna unlocked the door to her cabin which was actually next door to her mother's. Her room was dark and as she closed the door behind her she would turn on the lamp. As she turned she was shocked to see Dimitri, sitting on the edge of her bed.
Anna gasped, jumping back against the door. "My God, Dimitri you scared me." She said, placing her right hand against her chest, over her heart. It was creepy to find her fiance, a man she didn't even love, waiting for her in her dark cabin.
"Where were you?" Was his only response. Anna smiled although she was very nervous and annoyed that he was asking of her whereabouts. "I was with Lucille...Dimitri, how did you get in my room?" "Where at with Lucille?" He asked as he stood. Anna could no longer hide her annoyance, "Dimitri, I do not appreciate your questioning me. You are not my father or mother."
In that instant, Dimitri stepped in front of Anna and grabbed her shoulders tightly while shaking her, "Listen to me, you are my soon to be wife...You are mine! I will not have this behavior from you at all! If I do not know where you are at all times, we will have a problem," and with that he released her, pushing her down to the floor beside her bed before exiting her room and slamming the door closed behind him.
Anna was in shock, she curled up on the floor beside her bed and began to cry. She tried to undo her corset, her hands shaking horribly. Once she finally undid the corset, she pulled herself up onto her bed, picking up her white cotton night gown from the mattress and putting it on. She then laid down, reaching over to the lamp beside her bed and turning it off.
Mathieu slept peacefully, getting up early in the morning he showered, dressed, and then headed off for breakfast. Lis was stuck in bed, her head pounding from her night of drinking and dancing she would be feeling that party for a few days. Knowing his sister would require a plate of breakfast as well, he walked down to the kitchens to request room service for her. After a short meeting with one of the staff, they pointed him towards the dining hall for second class passengers.
Eating his meal alone at one of the tables he took in his surroundings, the art and architecture. The amazing design and dignified feel of the ship, it was a marvelous boat the designers should be very proud. He finished his meal and coffee before walking up towards the main deck. Looking out over the pretty blue ocean, admiring the reflection of the sun on the water the young man hummed to himself a song his mother had taught him as a lullaby when he was young.
Mathieu sighed and sat against down, his back against the railing, he missed France and England. He missed the lovely people, the sights of the city, and the wondrous old buildings that lined the streets. He knew it was his fault they had to start over again, if he had just kept saying now he wouldn't have gotten in trouble and ended up here. His sister wouldn't have had to abandon her job at the hospital, he could have purchased a proper house and store to work in, now they would have take any work. Americans were not fond of foreigners he heard someone say while they were boarding.
That morning Anna woke up and took a long bath, keeping her hair dry and wrapped in a towel. She kept replaying her encounter with Dimitri last night and it made her feel sick. Anna couldn't think of anything worst then being married to that man.
After her bath, Anna dried off and moisturized her body before putting on her under garments, followed by her corset and a sky blue hobble skirt that hugged her hips just right. She wore a cream lace and white satin ruffle blouse, cream ankle boots on her feet. Once she was finished getting dressed, she would do her make up, only wearing a thin layer of eye liner and blood red lipstick.
Anna wanted to go and have breakfast with the others, but she knew Dimitri would be there. Instead she went and knocked on her mother's door, catching her mother just before she exited for breakfast. "I must speak with you," she'd tell her mother as she stepped into her room. As soon as she closed the door, Anna started to tell her mother of how Dimitri had lost his temper with her.
"Oh sweet Anna...He will soon be your husband. You two will be happy, and you will forget all of this ever happened. Just do what he says, he is right, you shouldn't be off doing God knows what without him..." Her mother would reply.
Shock was an understatement. Anna would stare blankly at her mother, as if she had just slapped her. Without another word, Anna exited the room headed straight for the stairs leading outside of the ship. She needed fresh air, she could barely breathe. Everything seemed to be going wrong in that moment. She couldn't marry him, she had to think of something, she'd rather die than marry him.
Tears ran down her face as Anna waled across the deck to the bow, gripping the railing tightly as she cried. She didn't notice if anyone was there with her, she just stared into the deep blue sea thinking of how easy it would be to end her life now that her future looked so grey.
Mathieu looked up from where he sat as Anna appeared at the railing crying getting up slowly he stepped over and rested a hand on her back gently. "Madame Anna, are you alright? Lovely women like yourself should not cry, what has happened?" He asked a little worried for the woman, he knew nothing of what bothered her but he also knew life wasn't always sunshine and roses with the high class. He rubbed her back a little more and as pulled out a cigarette lighting it up he smoked, before offering her one.\
"Do you smoke?" He asked knowing many women did, he wanted to be polite and offer her something to calm her nerves some while they talked. Anna had seemed so nice and care free last night, while it was against his better judgement to get involved yet again with a woman. He also knew it was wrong to leave a woman to cry alone without a shoulder to cry on.
So carefully drawing back from her some he smiled a little and waited for her to talk, he wouldn't force it out of her. Just be kind and offer to listen, care about her and her problems after all it was gentlemanly thing to do these days. Enjoying his own cigarette as he looked at her for a moment more he then made her an offer as well knowing she probably didn't want to return to first class area. "Would you like to join my sister for breakfast here in second class?"
She felt someone's hand on her back and was suddenly pulled from her depressing thoughts. She looked over her shoulder and gasped, "Oh Mathieu..." she said softly. She had never been so happy to see someone, a friendly face who did not know of her horrible engagement.
Anna would lean forward and wrap her arms around him, hugging him gently as she cried on his shoulder. She would pull away several moments later as she wiped her tears on the back of her hands. "I'm so sorry Mathieu...When I said I hoped to see you again, I didn't mean like this." She said softly.
Anna would take a seat on a nearby bench, sniffing a little, she didn't want her nose to be runny. "You're right. I shouldn't be crying, I'm on the most beautiful ship in the world." She said with a soft laugh. She wasn't sure if she should tell Mathieu everything, she wasn't sure how he would take it or if he'd ever talk to her again.
Anna also didn't want to lie so she told the truth, "Unfortunately, I have just found out my mother has arranged for me to marry a very horrible man. But she is okay with it be cause he is rich." She said, trying to hold back more tears.
Mathieu listened letting her cry as much as needed to before speaking himself. "I was a promising watch maker, I almost had the money to open my own shop in London. A young woman had... Taken a shine to me, finally after a wonderful date I take her home." He sighed taking a long drag from his cigarette lighting her cigarette.
"The next day, she admitted she loved me. The feeling was not mutual I told her to give it time, she took this as rejection. Telling papa, a wealthy lord I had gotten her pregnant, she expected to be married to me I assume." He threw the cigarette on the deck crushing it with his heel.
"Instead, he hired men to smash wares, kill me, while he arranged a marriage for his lying daughter." He explained looking out at the water, hugging her back. "So late in the night, I sold everything and we ran buying tickets to America." He said, smiling at her a little. "So you are not alone with problems my dear. However I will listen and help if I can, you are to kind to have to marry a man who sounds so dreadful. Perhaps tell your mother you do not want the marriage or plead to your father?"
Anna watched as he smoked his cigarette. She wasn't a smoker at all but she was beyond stressed out. "I think I'll take that cigarette actually," Anna said, waiting for Mathieu to light it. Once he did, she would cross her legs and lean back in the bench, taking a drag on the cigarette, blowing her cares away.
"Tell my mother I do not wish to marry an heir? She'd probably throw me over that railing herself. And I cannot plead to my father because he is dead. The money he left us is running out and this engagement will be the only thing to grant my mother the opportunity to continue living this lavish lifestyle. Sir Edwards..my fiance..." she would say with distastefulness. "His inheritance is dependent on a wife and unfortunately for me, my mother and his mother are best friends, I have no choice in this," she said, shaking her head. "I wouldn't mind saying goodbye to this life of luxury if it meant marrying for love," Anna sighed, taking another drag.
She would listen to Mathieu speak and frowned, her stomach feeling uneasy. "Oh my God...You must think that I am some spoiled, rich brat," she said, looking up at Mathieu as she flipped her hair that was blowing in the wind from in front of her face. "Here I am complaining about an arranged marriage and you are literally running for your life," she said in shock.
"You know...They called this the ship of dreams, but it is starting to seem more and more like a nightmare," she said, shaking her head.
"No nothing like that, your talking about the rest of your life." He answered with a short laugh as smoke swirled around him. "Love is something important, many people see money and status as something of greater importance these days." He started to his thoughts on the matter. "Perhaps you could run if you are sure he is so terrible, find a way once we the America's and run from him." He said, knowing that from personal experience running could sometimes be the best option.
"It might not courageous or polite however I doubt he is either of those things. Besides, you seem a capable young woman, I'm sure you could make your way in the world. Perhaps as a nurse?" He added the suggestion unsure of her opinion on the matter. "Of course you could always do something drastic to prevent it, though with all of us on this ship I doubt you could find a lover." He shrugged knowing love was a rare thing and finding it on a boat, unlikely.
"Still I'll help in anyway I can. As long as do not have risk my family in anyway, Lis has already suffered enough because of me we only have each other left." He told her looking at the sea enjoying the water. "You know, if war comes I want to be a sailor, the ocean would make a wonderful place to send eternity? Don't you agree? For even if this was a boat of nightmares we float upon a sea of unending beauty and grace, who could dare ignore its beauty."
He was giving her a lot to think about. She could actually run when she got to America, she didn't know where she would run to but surely she could figure it out. "Being a nurse isn't such a bad idea, or maybe I could become a teacher," she shrugged. "I don't think I that I will be able to fall in love with a stranger on this boat within days Mathieu, that would surely be impossible." She said with a playful laugh. "I'll think of something, marrying Dimitri is just not an option."
Anna looked up at Mathieu as he spoke and could not help but smile. She found his words about the ocean to be very poetic, he was such an interesting and handsome man. "I agree, it is very beautiful. The ocean does have a way of making one feel so relaxed, I could sit here and stare at it all day." she smiled and nodded. "You know, Mathieu...You suggested that I have breakfast with you and your sister in second class. Does that offer still stand?"
"I know teachers are needed out west, perhaps head for California? Though you could cross over to Canada, that would certainly stop him from pursing you." He said with finality. "Of course you can join us for breakfast, were eating in our cabin. I doubt anyone would look for you in second class, plus you can meet my sis Lis would be very happy to have a friend on this trip." Mathieu smiled and got the door, before starting back towards his room pausing only to request extra food be delivered to his accommodation.
As he opened the door they were greeted with sight of young woman in simple black dress who sat on her bed reading. "Ah brother your back, whose your friend?" She said in a teasing voice as Mathieu moved over to the bed taking a seat and pulling out a chair for Anna to have a seat in. "Lis this is Anna, Anna meet Lis." He said taking care of introductions as Lis stood up and curtsied.
"Nice to meet you miss Anna." She said setting her book down as her eyes wandered to the desk. "Mathieu you forgot to put that watch away, someone could have swiped it while we were sleeping." She chastised her brother as he rolled his eyes, food arriving moments later, each receiving a tray with meals freshly prepared on it.
Anna listened to him and nodded her head, "Canada sounds promising, although it would be nearly impossible if I don't make my own money," Anna said with a shrug. She would smile when Mathieu stated that she could have breakfast with his sister and himself. "Well then, I would love to meet her. I'm sure she is as sweet as you are, and one can never have to many friends," she said, grinning brightly.
Anna would follow Mathieu back to his cabin in second class. She would smile when he opened the door to a room that was small but still spacious enough for two, revealing a young woman reading on one of the beds. Anna could see a small resemblance in the two siblings, and she thought it was really sweet how Mathieu cared for his younger sister. "Hello Lis, it is very nice to meet you as well...what are you reading?" Anna asked in a friendly manner as she sat down in the seat that Mathieu pulled out for her.
Anna would start to eat breakfast, looking over at Mathieu's desk and seeing a rather luxurious watch. She then remembered how Matthew had said that he was a watchmaker at the party they had met at, "Mathieu," Anna called out, "Is that the watch you are working on? It looks beautiful," Anna would say after swallowing her food and wiping her mouth. "How much are you thinking about selling it for?"
Lis smiled back before eating. "A wonderful novel, Frankenstein about a monster created from the dead and brought to life by scientist Doctor Frankenstein. It was actually written by a woman, find her writing so very interesting as well as the human story here." She explained before digging into her meal happily, enjoying the provided meal. She stretched and sat her tray on the night stand once she had finished.
Mathieu blushed a little when she mentioned the watch. "It will go for well over a thousand dollars, though I'm unsure if any American will buy it for that price. They do not seem to have much respect for foreigners in there country, no matter why they are there." He sat his tray aside, having finished his meal as well, he walked over and picked up the watch. "Real rubies around the edges, plus the gold. It the best piece I've ever made, it needs a few more adjustments and then last coils it will be ready." He said picking it up and offering it to her.
Anna continued to eat her food, taking a sip of her juice, she would smile up at Lis as she spoke about the novel, "Ahhh yes, Frankenstein is a classic. Pretty terrifying, but still very well written nonetheless," Anna would smile and nod. She finished eating her food as well and would set her tray with the others.
Mathieu went to retrieve his watch and pass it on to Anna, she could not take her eyes off of it. She had never seen anything so beautiful. She observed it closely, turning it over in her fingers, running them over the beautiful rubies. "Hmm...I must say, I have not seen a piece of jewelry as beautiful as this in a long while Mathieu..." she smiled and nodded. "What about if I brought your watch...Before my mother disowns me after I end my engagement of course," she smiled. "Do you mind if I try it on dear?" She asked the male?