Duties of the Internal Affairs: Living a life of duty is a lot different than living a life of luxury. Two women are about to learn that there are some things money and society just can't buy. Two officers are going to get more than a routine cross over the Atlantic.
Historical Note: The officers are not as stiff-neck as you see them portrayed in the movie, or lost for that fact (poor Wilde in James Cameron's movie looks lost for the first five to ten minutes of his screen time). There are times when you question truly what went on in their heads that motivated them to cause such trouble and mischief around the bridge.
Yes, there are instances of officers playing pranks on each other. They are like us in the modern time, just more regal, clean, and sexier by all means down to the last stiff button on their coat!
Author's Note: Titanic replayed on US TV today, and yesterday. Commercials are like burnt marshmallows!! I always laugh when I see Wilde come on screen when the ship is sinking. Especially when everyone is all tense in the charts/navigation room as Mr. Thomas Andrews explained that they are sinking, and the Captain asks Mr. Murdoch about how many people on board, and there comes Wilde, walking in with this look like, "Uh, what did I miss?" on his face. Oh, that is so priceless!
Thank you for those who are reading. It means a lot, a lot, to me.
Please review because it tells me how the story is going. I appreciate all the support I can get. It is truly my motivation to keep going.
Disclaimer: I hold the rights of the characters in this story who are not real within history. The words in this story are also mine, even though the idea seems trite. The other mentions of other off characters belong to James Cameron, and their creators (Yes, Jack and Rose will eventually appear). However, everyone else who was on the Titanic, I mean no disrespect, and your entire honor belongs wholeheartedly to you.
"Sporting a new fashion, eh, Moody?" Lightoller asked with a laugh when he saw that the most junior of the officers walked in, carrying a woman's hat. The officers were gathering at the bridge, waiting for their next commands. It was a quick moment of free time until they were given their assignments by both the captain, and the chief officer.
All the officers who were present turned back to look at him, and Moody looked to Officer Murdoch and Officer Lowe for desperate help. They merely cracked subtle smiles in return to Lightoller's remark. They didn't want to get involved.
"I-I caught it from the air, Mr. Lightoller. I mean to give it back to its owner."
"By God!" He cried with much vigor, and slight mockery. "Mr. Moody, what a wonderful way to start a conversation with a lady! You valiantly show her that you've saved her hat from the water, and before you know it, she'll be falling all over your arms. I never knew you would be so sly!"
"Why does that seem it was from a regence romance novel, Lights?" Murdoch asked with one of his eyebrows peaking from its normal position. He knew of his dearest friend's antics, and his slight edge for eccentricity. He knew to stand clear when the time was appropriate. "Have you been reading some of them in the library?"
"Romance on the high seas do exist, Will! Look at Sylvia and me!"
"No, you are evidence that loons exist," Murdoch shook his head with a smile. It wasn't a statement that meant to hurt Lightoller's dignity, rather it was the opposite.
"Loons make a voyage much more lighthearted, don't you think, Mr.Lowe?"
Lowe blinked slightly. When was he pulled into this conversation? There was no way in Hell that Lightoller was going to make a victim of him. Lowe had heard how Lightoller was amongst the bridge and his colleagues. He thanked Moody for being the youngest! At least, when the senior officers wanted to play pranks, such as put shaving cream on a pillow or steal someone's clothes during a shower, the first person they would go for is Moody!
Poor Moody, Lowe pitied with a laugh to himself. Thank goodness to seniority!
"Don't answer it, Mr. Lowe. Don't give him a reason to go after you too. It seems like it is too late for, Mr. Moody," Murdoch cautioned to Lowe with a slightly serious tone. Lowe did nothing but nod. That was one of the greatest advices he had ever heard in defense from Officer Charles Lightoller.
Both Officer Pitman, and Officer Boxhall stifled their chuckles at Murdoch as Moody was looking less comfortable by the minute. Even though Moody and Lightoller have served on the Oceanic together, James Paul Moody could never get used to Mr. Lightoller teasing him endlessly. If that was what it took to keep his little cupboard-like room upon the Titanic. By Heaven and Hell, Moody was just going to suck in and take it like a man!
Just take it like a man, Jim! Just take it like a man! He chanted in his head. Lightoller couldn't do worst than that.
Moody and Lowe looked at each other momentarily. Both of them knew that no matter how much they try to divert their attention away from the senior officers, both of the youngest, and the most junior of all of the officers were in for one hell of a ride; a ride that included many opportunities of humiliations that could be used to their disadvantage in many more voyages across the grand Atlantic.
Lowe heaved a sigh in silent despair as Moody looked around for a way out of his current situation.
After their hour delay with their near collision with the ship New York, the Wallace family made their way to their stateroom. Adelaide was speaking jovially about how she had witnessed the close call first hand. Ella was eagerly asking questions about how it had happened for she had missed everything when her fear of heights made her retracted to the deck chairs in a more comfortable security. She had dearly wished that she wasn't afraid of heights to have witnessed something—according to her sister's words—positively exciting.
Adelaide noticed that her sister's head was bare, and her curls were out of place. "Ellie, where is your hat, love?"
Ella stepped into the grand room with a sigh. "It fell over the side of the ship. It was quite unfortunate, and it was my most favorite, too!"
"I'll get you a new hat in New York. I promise."
Ella smiled, and nodded. "Now, don't fret over me, come, let's take in this grand ship."
"This is grander than the Lusitanian, and the Mauritania combined!" Their mother breathed, stepping into the room after them.
"It was meant to be luxurious! More luxurious than any ship in the world, my darling! I heard even steerage is wonderfully accommodated!" Sir Wallace said with a proud smile as if he was the owner of the ship himself.
Adelaide pulled Ellie into their bedroom. There were two beds, positioned side-by-side, with linens that no one had slept in before. The square port hole illuminated light into the room, and the Southampton area passed by slowly.
Adelaide took off her gloves and slowly touched the table's smooth surface. "Nothing has ever been used before, and we are the first. How exiting," she whispered not knowing that they were going to be the last, also.
Her maid took off her coat, and took the hat, and gloves from Adelaide, and the two sisters sat on their beds looking at the red-golden wooden panels of the room. It was a grand ship, indeed. No one could certainly deny that fact.
Adelaide and Ella were introduced to the high society of the ship that night at dinner as passengers from Cherbourg joined them. They were greatly welcomed for their amiable qualities, and humorous, yet subtle conversations. Adelaide was more animated of the two, but Ella was as pleasant as her sister. Adelaide, being older, knew when to keep her enthusiasm to an approving level, and when to be amiable to an extent. Ella just let her youthful emotions decide the actions for her. It wasn't hard to listen to her heart, but it was harder to command it to do what she wished it to do.
During that first dinner, Adelaide was made known to Thomas Andrews, the very person she wanted to meet: the Master Shipbuilder, himself. The two of them sat beside each other and spent most of their dinner, and post-dinner talking about the ship. They sat there with their coffees until they were asked to leave by stewards so they can clean up for the night and set up for tomorrow's breakfast.
The men had left earlier for the brandies, and cigars. The women were escorted back to their rooms, and their own private comfort.
Ella, however, stepped out into the nightly air for her daily quantity of fresh air. There was nothing else more pleasant than the ocean's air, and it wasn't often that Ella had the opportunity to breathe such a delight, so it was wise to make much use of it before they docked in New York in a few days.
The temperature was strangely cool, but she was in the comfort of her own thoughts.
So many things had happened today that she didn't account for. Most of those things, she wasn't anticipating.
Ella was described by many as a deep-thinker. She had uselessly spent many minutes in her thoughts, and she would look too deeply into a situation. But, her family was proud of their philosophical daughter, and had accepted her love for illimitable amount of topics.
Ella walked down the first class deck (the corridor that ran along the bottom of the grand staircase) with her hands slightly swaying back and forth. She stopped at the partition between her own world, and the lower third class world. The men hovering about bow were talking in the scenery, enjoying their own companies.
Moody happened to be on watch when he leaned down over the bridge starboard wing to peer down below. And yes, he was dreadfully bored. However, in an instant, he saw the same golden head he had seen earlier. Her locks were swept to the side in the Grecian-influenced style, and her hands tucked under her chin, cradling her head. His heart raced at the sight of her. He was fighting to either leave his post to fetch the hat to return it to her, or just stand there and stare at her in secrecy. Both of those options seem appealing to him. But he didn't know what to do, especially when she moved and turned to look at him.
Ella, feeling a presence watching her, turned her head to look at the bridge wing above her head.
Moody's eyes and Ella's placid ones locked for a split moment before he moved back quickly at their exchange. His breath hitched in his throat. Ella turned back to smile softly to herself, and felt a quiet flutter in her heart that she couldn't explain. She had caught a rather handsome officer looking at her. The feeling in her heart was exhilarating, and it was leaving her breathless. Ella leaned back slightly so she was out of his view. She was going to see if his attention was really drawn to her or not. Ella Wallace was strangely mischievous of a first class woman.
Moody peeked back over the railing to see if she was still there. To his dismay, she was gone.
"What are you looking at?" Officer Lightoller asked quietly as he suppressed a huge yawn that was growing in the back of his throat. Goodness, he was tired! And it was only nine-thirty in the evening. Thank goodness he had only half-an-hour left of his shift. The life of a ship's officer was of an indentured servant; especially the junior officers. Not only they were the least listened to within the whole bridge hierarchy, they worked the hardest shifts; four hours on and four hours off. Poor Moody, Lightoller pitied. Thank goodness, he was a senior officer! He had enough of his days as a junior officer. Lightoller was anticipating his return to his cabin, and Moody was slightly torn between his cupboard of a room, and running off to find out who that woman was.
Moody looked up abruptly, and Lightoller laughed at the red tint growing at the side of his face. "Nothing, Mr. Lightoller!"
Ella tried to listen closely to their conversation. For officers, they were obnoxiously loud.
Lightoller knew that feeling very well. He was in Moody's position only a few years ago when he met the love of his life on a ship. What fun that was! "She was a pretty one. Do you know her name?"
The younger voice fumbled to find the appropriate words to answer his superior again. He was desperately trying to divert his attention away from Lightoller, and his persistent questioning. Moody felt like he was a convict! "No, sir! I believe she is a first class passenger!"
"Ah, if you can't tell by her way of dress, I don't know what else to tell you, Mood." Lightoller's voice was laced with a sense of heavy sarcasm. Moody coughed at the uncomfortable situation.
"Sorry, sir." Moody cleared his throat, and leaned against the banister of the bridge wing again, and involuntarily, his eyes roved to see at least a small hint of her again. To his surprise, she was there, smiling softly at him. He pulled back abruptly, making Lightoller curious at the man's sudden movements.
Lightoller looked down, and smiled at the eavesdropper. "Good evening, miss! I believe you are eavesdropping on our conversation!" Lights cried down to the blond woman below.
Ella chuckled at the officer's boldness. "Sir, it wouldn't be called eavesdropping if the subject you are talking about is right below you, and she can clearly hear what you are saying about her."
"Touché, young miss!" Lightoller cheered before looking back to the frightened Moody. The sixth officer was looking around as if he was trying to find answers on the white space of the bridge. Boxhall gave his a cheeky smile through the bridge's window. He could clearly hear their conversation from his position in the wheelhouse. Lightoller and Murdoch were notorious for causing mischief and the basic fun around the bridge. Moody wanted to groan in despair. They were all against him. They were using his as bait to lure her in (though half of him wouldn't mind being used as bait if it meant for him to get closer to his blond angel a deck below him).
"Lightoller, ma'am, Charles Lightoller!"
"Officer Lightoller, please tell the officer who is hiding beside you that if he wanted to say hello, he should have had. I wouldn't mind some company! Besides, it is rude to stare."
Moody had a severely panicked look on his face. He didn't know what to do. He wanted to apologize, but at the same time, he wanted to look and sound suave so he can impress her. Oh, dear! What should I do? He wracked his brain for answers, but Lightoller was well ahead of him.
"Forgive him, Miss. He has a long way to learn about the ways of a ship, and that includes talking to a lady."
"Well, please tell him, that it does start with a hello!"
Lightoller leaned back to look at the fear stricken Moody who was leaning his forehead against the wooden banister in shame. "She's a pleasant one, chap! Quite mischievous, too. This little mouse reminds me of you when we were on the Oceanic together!"
Moody snapped up. "Mr. Lightoller, please spare me the humiliation!"
Ella laughed joyfully at the sound of his voice. She started to feel herself drawn to it, and she found herself yearning for more. Her laugh made both of the men look down, and Moody pushed himself to make eye contact with her. Her eyes were bright, and cheery. And green, too! Very green, Moody remarked to himself.
"Thank you for the entertainment, gentlemen! But I must get back to my room."
Lightoller was about to answer but Moody was quicker. Good boy, Mood! Lightoller cheered in his head. "Good night, ma'am!" Moody cried in dire hope that was enough to make her curious about him.
Ella laughed again. "Good night sir and good night to you, Officer Lightoller!"
Lightoller tipped his hat before stepping down from his position against the banister. "Well done, Mood! You've managed to conquer your fears of talking to her, and said good night to the little mouse!" By this time Murdoch appeared around the corner, and bounded towards the two. "On top of that you've done something that should be noted even by the captain!"
Moody looked towards Lightoller with eager eyes. "What is it, sir?"
"You've managed to kill the last thirty-minutes of my shift!" Both Murdoch and Moody looked at each other, and shook their heads at Lights. "Well, I'm going on my rounds!"
"What is this conquering of fears I'm hearing about? Did Moody finally conquer his fears of going down in the dark and scary holds alone?"
"No, our little puppy caught an eye of a passenger, and by the end of our conversation, he managed to say good night to her!" Lights spoke as if he was a proud father.
"Good job, Mr. Moody! That's the spirit," Murdoch cheered jokingly, knowing very well by the blush that lay against the boy's cheeks that he was beyond the point of embarrassed. There was nothing worst than having his senior officers poke fun at him.
Well, of course, there was that time when they stole all of his clothes when he was washing up before his shift. He could still feel the heat emitting from his body in embarrassment when he had to walk through the whole corridor of other officers, the Marconi operators, and stewards to get to his room. That was one experience he didn't to relive ever again.
"Let up, Mr. Moody," Murdoch chuckled, slapping the young man on his arm slightly. "We are merely looking out for you!"
"Is that the polite way to call teasing nowadays, Mr. Murdoch? I think it would be a lot more truthful to say that you were using poor Mr. Moody as a guinea pig for your fun!"
"Mr. Boxhall! Not in front of, Mr. Moody!"
Moody looked between the two men in disbelief. "There's no hope of you letting this up, right, Mr. Murdoch?"
"Not as long as Lights knows of your interest of the young lady, there would be no end to his tips, trades, and teasings!"
"You better start talking to her if you want Mr. Lightoller to let you off!" Boxhall added before his attention was turned back to the sea before them.
Moody turned back to the water again, and heaved a large sigh. By this time, his blush subsided, however, the feeling within his heart hadn't. He could still hear her sweet voice ringing in his ear.
"Go to her when you get the chance, Moody. I think it is best for both of you." With that, Murdoch turned on his heels, and walked into the wheelhouse, leaving Moody outside deciding what to do next.
"Well, you are back late. Where were you?" Adelaide asked, braiding her hair at the vanity table, and smiled through the mirror at her sister.
"I was just taking a bit of a breather that is all! Besides, I have this queer feeling in my stomach," Ella was trying to conceal the fact that she had a quick rendezvous with the officers. Adelaide would kill her if she had known.
"Seasickness? I'm not surprised if you are a little sick. The ship is subtly swaying."
Their maid helped Ella out of her dinner gown, and into her night dress. Ella tiredly dismissed the maid, and sat at the vanity table opposite from her sister's. As she looked at herself in the mirror, the things that had happened during the day flooded back to her; more of the bad than the good. Her mind had exempted the blissful and rewarding thoughts, like the departure of this grand ship, or the quick encounter with the boyish officer a few minutes ago, out of her head.
Ella sighed as her mind filled with mournful ones that seemed to scare the living daylights of her.
Ella's shaking hands took off the barrette, and pearls pins from her golden head. Adelaide noticed her sister's actions, and stopped her braiding.
"Are you alright, Ellie? You are shaking…" Adelaide stood up from her seat, and walked to her sister. "You fear something. I can see it your eyes. What is wrong?"
Ella sighed, and clutched her hands together tightly. "You've heard of the wives' tales, haven't you, Adelaide? You know the ones that the people in the town would whisper when something goes wrong with somebody. There are signs out there."
Adelaide gave her sister a queer look. "I don't believe in wives' tales. They are just foolish superstitions spoken by housewives who were bored after washing clothes all day! Why do you even listen to them?"
"I believe that I'm dying, Adelaide."
The older woman gave her a curious look. "Do not joke about death, Ellie. It is not funny at all!"
"The sugar in my tea did not dissolve, and the food I had today bled."
"Maybe your tea wasn't hot enough to melt the sugar, and they didn't cook your food correctly. Your superstitions could not be accounted for a sign of death."
"But they all happened in one day! It is unheard of! One sign is rare, but two, Adelaide?" Ella roared in distress. Ella was also notorious for being gullible.
Tell her fiction, it turns to fact for her.
Adelaide was taken back by her sister's outburst and did nothing but nodded slowly, letting the fury die.
"Then if you are going to die, make it worth while. We shall not fear death, and death shall fear us."
Ella turned to Adelaide, and smiled weakly. "I can't help but think that is slightly false."
Adelaide chuckled at Ella's conclusion. "Well, all I know is, if I die, I will drag whoever, and whatever spirits that had taken my life early down to hell. I will surely teach them a lesson for messing with an Adelaide Bowen of London!"
Her younger sister laughed in delight, her prior thoughts lifted momentarily. "Show them off, Adelaide!"
"I sure will! And," Adelaide patted Ella's hands softly. Her demeanor changed drastically. Her eyes glowed with the sisterly affection that was common in the older woman. "I'm here for you, darling."
Ella could always count on Adelaide to fight through a band of men and wolves to get to her. The younger of the two smiled in sheer gratefulness and embraced her sister tightly. Adelaide uttered a quiet squeal at her sister's quick action. "Thank you."