Prologue

London
Spring, 1607

"Miss?"

Her young maid's voice rang through the oak door and straight into Rose DeWitt Bukater's ears. Today was the day that she would leave all that was known to her for a new land.

"A moment!" she shouted through the door, feeling her stomach already sink.

Months earlier, she had asked her mother, Ruth, why they had to leave upper class London for the newly founded English settlement of Jamestown. Her mother had replied, "Rose, there is talk of gold. Mountains of it—enough to help us settle the debts that your father left behind."

It didn't make Rose feel any better when Caledon Hockley was introduced into her life. Being seventeen, Rose had been expected to already be married, but she was always too particular, according to Ruth.

At the last social event of the season, Ruth had thrown Cal her way. Rose was admittedly charmed by him. At least, until after the first slap, which had been delivered to her when she had misbehaved. That was how Cal put it to her when the sting had lessened.

Not weeks later, Ruth and Cal arranged for Rose and him to be married. She was given no choice as she accepted his offer. They were to be married at the beginning of the next social season. That is, if the offer for more wealth presented itself. Cal insisted on going, since he felt that Rose's family was worth less than what he could find in Virginia, but her mother, determined to further her status, persuaded Cal to let them travel with him. That was where she was now, standing at the foot of the carriage and letting the footman help her up into its seat.

XXXXX

"All sixes on those dice?" The Italian's voice rose.

"Yeah. That's right," the young man replied, smiling.

"Damn it! You can't do this. It's my only chance!" protested a short, chubby man who sat at the far end of the table.

"Well," the blonde man said. "If your only chance was as good as your bet, then perhaps it's best you don't go!"

The tavern exploded in laughter, and the man ducked as a punch was thrown his way.

"Two tickets," said another man, who stood beside him.

"That's right," the man said.

"Who are you going to take?"

The blonde turned to him. "I was thinking you."

"Me?"

"Yes. What about it, aye, Thomas?"

The two men shook hands as Jack Dawson handed Thomas his ticket.

XXXXX

"Wingapo, Father. I'm so glad you've come home safely," an Indian woman said as she hugged her father.

"Seeing you gives me great joy. Come with me. We have much to talk about."

She followed him into his wooden longhouse and spoke first.

"Father, for many nights now I've been having a strange dream. I think it's telling me something's about to happen—something exciting!"

Her father smiled. "Yes, something exciting is about to happen."

"Really? What is it?"

"Cokoum has asked to seek your hand in marriage."

"Marry Cokoum? But he is so serious."

She looked out the window at the stern-faced warrior.

"Father, I think my dream is pointing me down another path."

"This is the right path for you, my daughter. Cokoum will make a fine husband," Powhatan said.