I Took a Voyage on the R.M.S Titanic
“In a way, it was beautiful; every light on the ship was on, and each porthole was illuminated. And then, across the water, came this enormous, awful roar.”
As the bow had plunged deeper, the stern had tilted higher. The sound resembling some monstrous metal beast in battle that came across the water to the waiting lifeboats was nothing less than everything on board the ship breaking loose. As Walter Lord describes it in A Night to Remember, “Twenty-nine boilers . . . 800 cases of shelled walnuts . . . 15,000 bottles of ale and stout . . . tumbling trellises . . . the fifty -phone switchboard” – everything went tumbling end over end:
Now, finally, the Titanic rose up, almost majestically, perpendicular to the water, sending people on board catapulting, skidding, sliding, and screaming into the water. The lights of the ship flickered once, flashed again, and finally went out.
And there, after a minute or two at a 90-degree angle, the ghastly rumbling roar mixing with terrified screams, the hull outlined now only by the red and green running lights and the clean white light of the stars reflecting on the placid water, the Titanic began to go. down, moving at a slant, picking up speed as she went. When the water closed over the flagstaff on the Titanic‘s stern, it was 2:20 A.M.
“I can remember, to this day, the noise the ship made as it went under,” says Marjorie Newell, trying hard to maintain her composure. “You could actually feel. the noise, the vibrations of the screams of the people, and the sounds of the ship.
“I don’t really know what happened on board after we left. People have asked me if the ship’s orchestra was playing ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ as the legend has it, but I don’t think so. I know I didn’t hear it, but that may be because we were far away by that time, as far away as we could get.”
As the morning broke, the Carpathia arrived, and the survivors, some 705 rowing, floating, sobbing, shocked men, women, and children, could at last see just where they were.
The lifeboats were scattered over four square miles of water. Surrounding them and separating them were dozens of small icebergs as well as three or four large ones 150 to 200 feet high. Off to the north and west, five miles away, there began a field of ice that stretched on forever. The spot where the Titanic had gone down was marked only by flotsam: crates, deck chairs, rugs, a few lifebelts, and one dead body, all rapidly being dispersed by the gentle waves.
Slowly, the survivors began boarding the Carpathia.
“Seeing all the icebergs around shocked us; it proved how dangerous our passage had been, and how irresponsible the Titanic‘s Captain Smith, who went down with his ship, had been. Anyway, we wanted to get aboard the Carpathia as fast as we could, so we could be reunited with our father. It never occurred to us that Father hadn’t gotten off; we didn’t realize how few had been saved.
“We climbed onto the ship and there was a silence like a funeral. The Carpathia by that time was loaded with Titanic survivors. People were lying all over the deck, just trying to find someplace to rest.
“Father wasn’t there. But I was so proud of him, that he’d abided by the rule of the sea: Women and children first. Some men didn’t. I know I sat beside a man on the Carpathia who had shoved aside Women and children to save his own life. Why, even John Jacob Astor got his wife on a boat, but never got off the ship himself.”
Shortly after nine o’clock the Carpathia had picked up everybody left alive and turned towards New York. Arthur Newell, who just 12 hours before had paused to muse on his daughters’ healthy appetites, was listed among the missing.
“We reached New York on Thursday and were hurried over to the old Manhattan hotel where my mother and other sister were waiting. My mother had seen lists of those who had been saved, but she was hoping that there had been an oversight. I can see her now in the hotel corridor, her arms outstretched, giving a howl of despair when she saw that only her two daughters had been saved and not her husband.
“Mother turned down an offer of a settlement from the White Star Line. No, she never asked us for details; she didn’t want to talk about it, and she forbade us ever to speak of that night. She wore black or white for the rest of her life. When she died, at 103, she was still in mourning.”