My life continued as normal. I soon forgot about the night I spent with Cal, though I could not erase the feeling that something had happened that night out of the ordinary, though I wasn't sure what. I was more attentive to his needs, though, and even in society, where I had always been careful to be as placid and impassible as possible, I started to come out of the shell in which I had cocooned myself for the last year and a half.
Mother also noticed the difference, and commented on it one day when we were having tea at a posh Philadelphian restaurant. I had no explanation for her, and all she could say about it was that I was behaving "more like myself".
Cal didn't notice, or at least, he didn't comment. And I was fine with that. I knew something had happened that had changed my outlook on life, and I knew Cal had something to do with it.
He came home earlier these days, sometimes with small presents for me, like new stationary, or a new brooch. I smiled and kissed him, thanking him. And every time he would seem extremely pleased with himself, as if he hadn't been sure what my reaction would be. Only Caledon and James didn't notice anything, and they acted exactly the same as always, in the same sweet, innocent manner.
"What are you doing this summer, Margaret?"
I looked up, having been completely distracted by thoughts of my own. I smiled at Elizabeth and pretended to have been listening.
"We're not sure yet. We might go somewhere like California, though," I said, smiling at Cal as I spoke.
"That sounds fun; you'll be taking the boys, then?" Elizabeth wanted to know.
"Yes, most definitely. I think they'd profit immensely from the trip," I explained. "And yourself? Where are you going?"
"Daddy and I are going to England, France, and Italy. It'll be oh so much fun, and he's promised to take me to see the Eiffel Tower," Elizabeth said excitedly.
"And you'll be traveling by boat, I suppose," Cal said offhandedly, sipping his tea.
"Of course; we've got first-class tickets for the maiden voyage of the Elwin."
I dropped my cup, staring at her in shock. I couldn't believe that she was even thinking about going on a maiden voyage across the Atlantic. So many things could go wrong!
"You can't go, Elizabeth, you can't," I said, suddenly desperate. "You have no idea how dangerous it is! Trans-Atlantic voyages are dangerous enough without it being the maiden voyage of the ship! Oh, Elizabeth, I couldn't bear to lose you!"
Both Cal and Elizabeth were staring at me as if I was crazy. I didn't care. I was too concerned about Elizabeth to care. She had become one of my closest friends, and I was sure that if she went on that voyage, I would lose her in exactly the same way I lost Rose.
"Margaret, darling, are you alright?" Cal asked, putting his arms around me. I turned to look at him, and noticed how his face was lined with worry.
"Cal, she can't go! Tell her she can't go!"
"I'm sorry, but I can't, Margaret. It's her decision," Cal tried to reason with me.
Elizabeth was looking very confused and very concerned for me.
"I'm sorry to have caused this. Maybe you should go home, Margaret. I'm sure you're very tired," she said. "I have to go anyway; I have an art class in a half hour."
She rose, and she looked pityingly at Cal.
"Call me if you need anything," she told him.
"Don't let her go, Cal!" I cried, reaching out for her. I tried to stand, to run after her, but he held me down.
"Calm down, Margaret. She's not going anywhere yet. And besides, I'm sure she'll be fine. Ships have been made a lot safer since you last were on one," he comforted. At the same time, he motioned for the waiter to bring the check.
"But Cal, she could die-"
"She won't die, you're just being silly, Margaret. We're going to go home now, and I want you to lie down and rest. Will you do that for me, darling?"
I nodded, and allowed him to lead me through the movements of putting on my coat, getting into the automobile, getting upstairs, getting into my nightgown, and getting into bed.
The doctor was called, and he did a thorough examination of me. He took Cal aside and they talked in whispers. I didn't even try to listen. I was lost in depressing memories of a year and a half previous.
"Thank you for coming, Doctor," Cal said finally.
"It was my pleasure. Feel better, Mrs. Hockley," he said, and was gone.
Cal came to sit on the bed next to me, and took my hand.
"The doctor says you just overreacted to hearing about a close friend of yours going on a maiden voyage across the Atlantic. You suffered the last time you did that, so you wanted to prevent her from suffering, too. He also says you're tired, and need to rest."
I smiled at him and nodded my head. My eyes did feel heavy, exhausted by trying to play with Caledon, cater to the teething James, and look after the servants to make sure they didn't poke a hole in the portrait of Mr. Hockley that was hanging in the drawing room as they were cleaning.
"You need to calm yourself, Margaret. Let go of Titanic. It happened so long ago; you can't carry it with you forever," Cal reasoned. He kissed my hand. "Promise you'll try to let go, to enjoy life in the present, here with me."
"I promise, Cal," I whispered. There was such a calming, solid strength to his words. Maybe he was right.
"The doctor also says you're pregnant again."
Those words were even more shocking than what Elizabeth had had to say. I looked at him, not sure I had heard him right.
"Is he sure?" I asked. He nodded. "But it's so soon after James…"
"You're about three or four months along. That's why you had trouble getting your corset on the other day, remember?"
I remembered, only too well. I had been ashamed to ask Cal for help, because I thought I was gaining weight because of too many sweets or suchlike.
"That's good, isn't it?" I asked, trying to smile.
"Yes, it's good," Cal said, smiling and leaning forward to kiss my forehead.
Mother was stunned by the news. She hadn't realized just how persistent Cal was, and I delighted at the sight of her face when I told her about the baby. She told me frankly that I should hope it was a girl, because if there are too many boys, they fight over their inheritance, and none of them gets too much in the end. I laughed and told her I would keep my fingers crossed.
Elizabeth was glad to see me again. I excused myself, and told her about my fateful voyage on Titanic. She seemed to understand.
"You and Cal seem so happy together, it never occurred to me that either one of you could have had other lovers before each other," she said. I laughed. "I'm glad to hear about the baby, though. Aren't children wonderful? They just bring so much joy to the world. Three children! My God, Margaret!"
In other women, this frankness would have seemed shocking to me, but this was precisely what I loved in Elizabeth. She had the same fiery nature as my dear sister, and she inspired me to be, in turn, fiery and rebellious. Though I kept myself in check because of my wifely and motherly duties, I still managed to be more talkative at home as well as with company. People marveled at how much I had changed. Most of them had known me as quiet Mrs. Hockley, whom everyone loved because of her diplomatic attitude and her calm exterior. But now they loved me even more because of my spirit.
"Cal's extremely happy. And I thought he couldn't be any prouder than he was about James. You should have seen him!" We both laughed.
"I might get married soon," Elizabeth said. "To who, I don't know. But Father is telling me that I'll be an old maid soon, and I should want to find a husband before I'm too old to interest anyone. Besides, I'd want a husband so that I can inherit my share of Father's estate."
I laughed. Though I loved Elizabeth, she could be practical to the point of coldness sometimes.
"Take your time, though. We can't all be as lucky as I was," I told her. She giggled, in such a way as I had not been able to do since I lost James.
It was a girl, just as Mother had hoped. Cal and I both decided to name her Rose Emmanuelle, and we made a great ceremony of inviting everyone we knew to see her. Mother was pleased with the child, exclaiming over her beauty, and especially her bright blue eyes and flaming red hair.
Rose was a fiery child, who cried little but was often very stubborn, insisting on being fed only at specific times and playing only when she felt like it. The rest of the time she slept, and I made a point of giving her a room all to herself, away from the room that Caledon and James shared. She was by far my favorite child, since she was the only girl, and I pampered her, though I tried not to show it. I was sure that I would see great things from her one day.