Chapter Three

(April 12, 1912 10:00 p.m.)

Rose sat at the table, oblivious to those around her. Ruth was in her element, bragging on about Rose's education, the fine schools she had attended, and their plans for the summer. I might as well not even be here, it's not as if I even matter. Rose felt as if she were choking, the noose was getting tighter around her neck. Her mother was determined she would marry Caledon Hockley, a man not only twelve years her senior, but also hopelessly arrogant and conceited. Rose had met Cal once, at a dinner party held by the Wideners. Cal had proved true to form - a selfish, egotistical snob, and she wanted nothing to do with him. But Mother ... she was getting worried about the money running out, and felt she must secure her own position, as well as Rose's. No, Rose was doomed to become engaged to Cal and forced into marriage to a man she didn't love. Her mind was reeling as she felt Ruth escort her back to the stateroom. Rose closed her bedroom door behind her, and leaned against it, staring blankly at her reflection in the dresser mirror.

Rose had to get out of her gown and stays, they were suffocating her. Fumbling with the hooks in the back, she called out for Trudy, but in vain as she realized she would be at dinner with the other servants. Panicked, she struggled for control of herself, whimpering and struggling with the fastening of her gown. Suddenly, she let out a low, gutteral scream, tearing at her hairpins, numb to the pain. She clawed at the diamond and emerald necklace around her throat, pulling until it broke, sending jewels everywhere. She swept the dresser top of all of its contents, sending brushes, her jewelry box and her hand mirror to the floor, where it shattered. Sobbing, Rose tore open the door and ran down the corridor, running away from it all.

Jack lay on a bench on the Third Class Promenade, smoking and staring up at the sky, so full of stars it was almost blinding in its beauty. He had been there for hours, thinking on matters that weighed heavily on his mind. He had been thinking a lot lately, about himself and about Lizzie. It had all seemed so simple a few months before. He and Fabrizio had made their way from Paris to Scotland, where they had taken their last few coins and secured a room in a small public house. That's where he had found Lizzie. She had run away from home, and after trying to make it on her own and being penniless, she had been forced to become what she swore she'd never be - a prostitute. Jack felt he had to help, his heart went out to the beautiful young girl who's eyes had enchanted him so. Fabrizio had warned him, told him to be careful. But did he listen, no. He told Lizzie of his life in America, growing up on the farm, even of his parent's deaths - a story he told no one. Lizzie in turn told Jack of growing up in Edinburgh, of her cold uncle who had been her guardian since her mother had died. She told Jack of the dreams of going to University, of her talent as a pianist. But her uncle had crushed her dreams with the news of her engagement to the local vicar, who had been widowed and left with four children. Not that he was a bad man, but the news was like a death sentence to Lizzie. She ran away that night, with a few pounds and her mother's locket around her neck. Jack made a foolish decision, he asked Lizzie to marry him and to come with him and Fabrizio to America.

Now here they all were, and Jack was stuck. He had to tell Lizzie he couldn't marry her, they were too different and would only cause each other unhappiness. Jack needed someone who shared his passion for life, who could understand his need to feel free. Lizzie wanted a man who would be content holding a regular job, someone who would happily work the same job for twenty-five years, support her in the way she wanted to live. Sometimes Jack thought she should have taken her uncle's offer and married the vicar, but he always felt guilty when he did. No, Jack had to tell her it wouldn't work, he just didn't know how.

Jack was torn from his reverie by the sound of quick footsteps, clicking beads, and heartbreaking sobs. He turned to see a figure blindly rushing past him toward the stern of the ship. Not quite believing his eyes, he watched as the young woman he had seen earlier climb over the railing, and turn to face the black, endless, icy water below. He had to do something.

"Don't do it." Jack spoke, startling the young woman, who he realized was barely more than a girl.

"Stay back, don't come any closer!" Rose panicked, leaning farther out over the water.

"Come on, just give me your hand, I'll pull you back over." Jack's mind was racing, he had to get this girl back onto the safety of the ship's deck.

"No! Stay where you are! I mean it, I'll let go!" Rose's mind raced. How did she get here, so desperate she was ready to jump off Titanic.

Jack motioned to her that he was going to toss his cigarette off the deck. Tossing it overboard, he put his hands into his pockets and took the biggest chance of his life. "No you won't."

"What do you mean, no I won't? Don't presume to tell me what I will and will not do! You don't know me!" Rose was angry now, she was sick and tired of everyone making her choices for her.

"Well, you would've done it already." Jack was stalling for time. His mind frantically searched for a solution, he had to get this girl back over the railing, and soon.

"You're distracting me, go away!"

"I can't, I'm involved now. You let go and I'm ... I'm gonna have to jump in there after you." Jack removed his coat, to show her he was serious.

"Don't be absurd, you'd be killed."

"I'm a good swimmer."

"The fall alone would kill you." Rose was trying to convince herself this was true. What if it wasn't?

"It would hurt, I'm not saying it wouldn't. Tell you the truth, I'm a lot more concerned about that water being so cold." Jack removed his boots and tried to distract the girl. Maybe if he made her realize ...

"How cold?" Despite her best effort to ignore him, Rose was intrigued.

"Freezing. Maybe a couple degrees over. Ya ever ... ah ... you ever been to Wisconsin?"

Rose didn't believe what she was hearing. "What?"

"Well, they have some of the coldest winters around. I grew up there, near Chippewa Falls. I remember when I was a kid, me and my father, we went ice fishing out on Lake Wissota. Ice fishing is, you know, where ya -"

"I KNOW what ice fishing is!" Rose scoffed.

"Sorry, you just seem like ... you know ... kind of an indoor girl." Jack knew he had her then, he just had to keep talking. "Anyway, I uh ... I fell through some thin ice, and I'm telling ya ... water that cold - like right down there - it hits you like a thousand knives stabbing you all over your body. You can't breathe, you can't think - least not about anything but the pain." He sighed dramatically. "Which is why I'm not looking forward to jumping in there after you. Like I said, I don't have a choice. I guess I'm kind of hoping you come back over the rail, and get me off the hook here."

"You're crazy!" Rose couldn't believe this stranger was showing such concern for her. No one had ever shown this much concern for her real feelings before, not since her father had died.

"That's what everybody says, but with all due respect, Miss - I'm not the one hanging off the back of a ship here." Jack was close to getting her back on the deck. "Come on ... come on, give me your hand. You don't want to do this."

Slowly, Rose reached over and grasped the young man's hand. She felt him squeeze it reassuringly. Slowly, she turned and looked up into the kindest, deepest blue eyes she had ever seen.

"Whew!" Jack's heart finally left his throat and began to beat normally. "I'm Jack Dawson."

"Rose DeWitt Bukater."

"I'm gonna have to get you to write that one down." In spite of her situation, Rose laughed. "Come on." Jack held her hand tightly, and helped Rose back over the railing. As she came over the top rail, the heel of her shoe caught on her dress and she fell, tearing her dress to her thigh, and she and Jack collapsed in a heap on the deck.

"Are you alright?" Jack jumped up and helped Rose to her feet.

"I think so." Rose was so embarrassed. What this man must be thinking of her. She didn't know what to say to him, and she silently watched as he pulled on his boots and coat.

"So ... Rose?"

"Yes?"

"Can I walk you back to your room?" Jack took a good look at this girl. She was beautiful, but the sadness in her eyes was overwhelming. What he had said before was true - he couldn't walk away, he was too involved now.

"Yes, thank you, Mr. Dawson." Rose began to shiver in the cold night air. Jack removed his coat again and placed it gently on her shoulders. Rose silently led the way to her stateroom, and as they entered First Class, Jack tried to hide his amazement. She led him past the A la Carte Restaurant, past the beautiful glass-domed Grand Staircase, and then along a corridor of stateroom doors, finally reaching her own. Rose was just handing Jack his coat when the door to the sitting room flew open.

"Rose? Rose! Where have you - my God! What's happened to you?" Ruth took one look at Rose's torn gown, disheveled hair and tear-streaked face, saw Jack and assumed the worst. "Steward! Steward!"

"Mother, please!" Rose tried to explain as three stewards come running down the corridor.

"Quickly, fetch someone! My daughter has been assalted by this ... gutter rat!" Ruth turned furiously on Jack. "What made you think you could lay your hands on my daughter?"

Jack desperately looked at Rose.

"Look at me, you filth!" Spat Ruth. The master-at-arms came and placed handcuffs on Jack and was ready to lead him away, when Rose finally got her mother's attention.

"Mother, it was an accident." The master-at-arms waited patiently for Rose's explanation. "It was stupid, really. I was leaning far over to see the ah ... the ah ... propellers of the ship, and I slipped. And I would've gone overboard, but Mr. Dawson here saved me, and almost went over himself."

"Was that the way of it then?" The master-at-arms asked Jack, a skeptical look on his face.

"Yeah, that was pretty much it." Jack lied for Rose, who shot him a pleading look. The master-at-arms unlocked the handcuffs and asking Ruth if she needed anything else, made his leave.

"Well, Mr. Dawson ... I guess my gratitude is in order." Ruth said stiffly.

"Yes, thank you, Mr. Dawson. Would you join us for dinner tomorrow evening?" Rose offered, as Ruth looked on in ill-disguised horror.

"Sure, count me in." Jack smiled. "Good night, Rose."

"Good night, Mr. Dawson."