Suddenly curious to investigate what the sudden halt of the ship's engines was about, I pulled on my night-gown to cover my nakedness and went into the main room of the cabin. Dahlia and Anabelle were up and running around, tending to Mother and Father and trying to care for the children all at the same time. And surprisingly, they managed. Those maids were the best.
Someone rapped the front door of the cabin impatiently, and before long a male steward suddenly barged in holding what appeared to be white coats made of some foamy material. "Please put your life belts on and head on up to the deck!" He dropped the life belts onto the floor and swung the door shut.
Mother gasped in offense. "How dare he simply barge his way in here? On whose authority does he speak of?"
"It's probably nothing to fret about, dear," Father said calmly. "Perhaps this is just a drill to stimulate our alertness for forthcoming predicaments. But damn it, they interrupted my sleep . . ."
I ignored Dahlia as she handed him a life belt. She shrugged and passed it to Lottie instead, patting her trembling hand to soothe her. "Everything is perfectly fine, deary. Please be a good girl and don't cry."
But as I overheard, I couldn't shake off the unwanted feeling that not everything was fine. Well, I knew something was dreadfully not fine. People didn't normally storm into your suite and order you to put on a life belt just minutes after an iceberg passed the ship. No, something was wrong and I needed to find out quickly. Speed was on my side while I raced the clock.
But why? Why was in a hurry? Maybe the panic just beyond the walls of the room drove me and my heartbeat insane with adrenaline and the need to be fast.
I approached Anabelle. "Anabelle, do you know what's bloody going on?"
She shook her head timidly. "I'm sorry, sir. I am just as confused as everyone else at the moment."
I groaned in disappointment and abruptly departed from the suite, ignoring my family's protests for me to leave on such short notice. But I didn't have time to dilly-dally. I needed answers promptly, and I'd get them regardless of where it took me aboard the vast, floating palace of a ship.
Climbing up stairs and ducking into halls, I frantically pushed my way through the hordes of people while seeking that one person who would know what in blazes was happening. The man would probably brush me off, but at least he was not from a different class. That was my sole advantage at the time to get the answers I would want.
I'd have to confront Captain Smith.
As I emerged onto the deck directly from the dining saloon, the chilly air nipped at my uncovered skin and seeped through my night-gown. My face flushed red as I came to realize that I was dressed in only a thin piece of clothing and nothing else underneath.
Ha, I should be ashamed of myself, I thought grimly. For some reason I managed to find a bit of humour in it.
On the decks of the ship, there was a mixture of chaos and a kind of party feel. The majority of people didn't know what was going on and didn't bother to ask, while the few who did were ignored. Everyone else mingled with everyone else on the deck and waited for something to happen otherwise they departed to the warm interior.
Just as I turned away from the chaos and resumed my mission, I was shoved right into none other than the captain of the ship. But as I awaited a scolding for my apparent clumsiness, all that Captain Smith did was gently move me to the side as his ocean-colored eyes were looking off into a distant space. He seemed very out-of-touch with reality, and in another world where chaos was non-existent.
"Captain Smith!" I said.
He looked away from the alternate dimension that held his attention, and his exhausted eyes focused on me. "Yes?"