Ruth A. Wilkinson
I had been sitting in the warehouse waiting for what could be years or months. Time had lost its meaning. But now, I could see through the crack in my case and realized that the lights had come on in the large room. Maybe today would be the day that I would be chosen to go. It had been a long while since I had seen “the light of day” so to speak.
I could hear two women going about the room discussing one item after another. They wanted “period pieces.”
“No, that won’t do,” said one. “It looks old but just not quite right.”
“Well, how about this brown dress, it looks to be about that time period,” asked the other.
“Yes, I think there would be a use for that. But we’ll also need a hat.”
“I believe there is one over here,” said the other.
If I could breathe I would certainly have been catching my breath in anticipation.
Inwardly I begged. They are coming! Oh, please pick me!
“Look at this hat box!” It is certainly old and beat up.”
I felt the movement. Then snap, snap, snap. Ah, daylight!
I was gently lifted up and ever so gently brushed off.
“It is a beauty,” said one of the girls.
“Yes, let’s take it. It will be perfect for the part of Lady Cristabell.”
“I can’t believe we found something like this here. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know the story of this hat?” She questioned.
“Yes,” replied the other, “If only hats could talk!”
They both giggled. I didn’t care. I was just glad to be out again and to be useful. But it did make me start thinking back to where it all began.
I began in France. On a little back street there was a dressmaker who was also skilled at making hats. She didn’t want me to be just an ordinary hat. I was to be a fine hat. A hat that someone would wear for special occasions, and one that someone would cherish. The dressmaker built my body from the finest materials and then added components to me that would greatly enhance my appeal to a new owner. I was a rich chocolate brown with plumes that extended from my rim. I had satin inside and small flowers woven in my netting that could be pulled forward to cover the face or twisted back to make a decorative wreath around my center.
The first day, after I came to be, I was put in the shop’s window. It was a fine place to be. The view was great and I could see carriages on the street being pulled by beautiful horses. People walked by and many stopped to admire me, especially the ladies. A few times the ladies would come into the shop and ask about me. They would put me on their heads and stand looking into the mirror.
“Oh how beautiful it looks!” They would exclaim.
On one particular day a woman who was dressed wonderfully in fine clothes came into the shop. I heard her say to the dressmaker that she greatly admired me in the window. I would certainly go well with her brown dress.
After trying me on and looking in the mirror just as the others had done, she turned to the dressmaker and said she wanted me.
“Very well mademoiselle,” the little woman said as she gently caressed my brim. I was placed in a round case. It was a beautiful place to be. The inside was silky and not too small or too large. I sat cozily confined and, as my new owner carried me out, I hardly felt the bumps as we rode through the streets.
I was in the case for a while. A few times I felt as if I had been moved from place to place. On one particular morning, I could hear a lot of activity, and finally, I heard the snaps being undone on my case and saw daylight once again.
“Oh madam! This is a beautiful hat.”
“Yes, it is,” came the reply. “An original for sure, and it matches the dress as if it was created for it especially.”
The new owner placed me on her auburn hair and I was so proud to finally be given a chance to see the world.
Little did I know how true this would be. That very day we boarded a carriage with me still on the auburn hair and rode quite a ways and soon reached a very busy place. People were scurrying around. Large parcels, suitcases and trunks were being loaded on a large construction that sat on the water. People were yelling out instructions, others were embracing and a loud noise bleated out from that large container which had the word TITANIC on the side.
My owner, who some people were calling “Lillian”, and I walked on a path and soon found ourselves on the container or great ship. We lingered on the outside until the ship began to move in the water. Then Lucille went through the doors and inside.
I don’t remember a lot about the ship but there were lots of people about and everyone was happy. It wasn’t long until my owner, Lucille, went into a room and took me from her head. At first she laid me on the soft bed, but before I knew it I was being put in my case once again.
Time passed and most of it was quiet. I could hear people coming and going and knew that it was nighttime because Lucille came into the cabin singing and readied herself for sleep. That’s when the commotion began. A loud noise could be heard below somewhere. It was terrible and then the engines of the great ship slowed and reversed…and then shut off completely. There was many voices coming from outside the room and Lucille went out for a while then hurried back. I could hear her getting clothes from the trunk.
The door opened and a voice said, “Madame, hurry…there is no more time.”
“Yes, I am…but one last thing.” I felt my case move and realized that wherever my owner was going she was taking me with her.
“Hurry!” Came the call again.
A week later I was found in the bottom of a lifeboat.
“Look here is another case. The ticket says passenger 712. Let’s match that up and get it sent to the destination.”