Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

2.24.2012

The Night of Noble Men, Part II

A Guest Post by Susanna



Just then the iceberg gashed the starboard bow, brushing along side of the ship. Everyone was hurled forward. The ship’s forcing angle pinned me against the icy rail. “Dear God in heaven: please help us!” The words carried by the bitter cold wind echoed in everyone’s ears the moment they heard the pleading cry. I could tell by the astonished comprehending looks: we were all thinking the same thing. How could we have thought of God so diminutively? And now we were all being punished. I felt so helpless.    

“Water’s rising quickly—look!” A man gripping the corner wall whimpered. Westin shot me a quick glance that asked if I was alright. As I clung to the rail, I was only relieved to still be breathing.

“We must go to the Captain for fresh orders, quickly.” We cautiously walked up the increasingly slanted deck to find the Captain.

“Water has risen 14 feet from the bow. The first five compartments are begin’in to take on water.”

“Are we going to live to see sunrise?” someone in the crowd called.

“As soon as I can find… Oh there he is—Thomas!” The Captain beckoned to a rather nervous looking fellow, speedily heading toward the middle of the crowd. “Thomas is the ship's designer. How long do we have Thomas?”

 “I have calculated that the ship can stay afloat for no more than 1 to 1½ hours.”

“The ship is doomed,” something inside me whimpered. Nearby, Captain Smith shouted out many instructions. "C.Q.D." was sent out as a distress call. It was now 5 minutes past Sunday.

“Holman. Don’t fall apart now; we need your help with the life boats.”

I looked up at Westin. “The boat already has.”

“No it hasn’t, man—what are ye talkin’ about? Stay strong for all the woman and children. Alright?”

“Yes the woman… and children.”

“Woman and children first!” The Captain called. Many men didn’t even bat an eye at the thought of being left behind. I helped uncover the few boats we had as I tried to take it all in. Rockets were sent to the sky in hopes that a ship not 14 miles away would see our distress signal. Boats were being hoisted down with the first few passengers.

“The Carpathia, has received our distress call and is immediately heading our way,” The Captain announced.

Westin grunted under his breath, “She won’t reach us in time. ’Tis about some 58 miles away.”

I lifted crying children and helped frightened woman into the boats. Thinking I knew more because of the sailor outfit I wore, many asked questions that I could no more answer than they could. Nevertheless, I tried answering them calmly and giving the children dull reassuring smiles. But under my strong fa├žade, I had crumbled. I glanced over to another boat where Turvey was forcing an older woman to stay seated, while others lowered it down from him, into the darkness.

“Good bye mama! I will be alright—Jesus will take care of me. I love you! Don’t forget that.” he called after her. In between sobbing cries, she tried telling Turvey the same. I came over to attempt convincing him to leave with the next boat, but then I realized there was no trace of fear in his tear-streaked face. “We must hurry to get all the other woman and children! Come!” He said. I looked at him with a puzzled gaze.

We searched room after room. I entered a gloomy, deserted room and was about to leave, when I heard what sounded like a small cry. When I walked further in, I discovered a small, abandoned baby wrapped in a wool sheet, crying for anyone who would listen. I picked her up and cradled her in my arms as I slowly walked back to the boat docks.

“Is my baby going to be this precious?” I wondered. She didn’t cry anymore, but only seemed content. And then I had an idea.

“Westin—hold the baby for a moment will you?” He looked nervous as I placed her in his rough arms. Then after scrambling for pencil and paper, I quickly leaned over one of the upright barrels and scribbled out a letter:

My darling Louisa, I’m so very sorry I cannot return to you.  I was wrong; never doubt God’s might. I can’t tell you how much I will miss not seeing you every morning or never being able to meet our baby, but God has sent me a small glimpse of her. I have loved you and will continue to love you until my last seconds. -Harry               
            
Then I folded it neatly and wrote my address. When I took the baby back,  I placed her in one of the opened bags of mail and slipped the letter inside the blanket. I carefully set the bag in the boat and gave her a small kiss on the forehead. Then, helping many other men lower her away, I noticed Reverend Harper.

He was kissing the cheeks of his daughter, and setting her in the boat. The tears in her eyes pained me—to think she would never see him again. And I would never again in this life lay eyes on Louisa! I melted right there, slumping down on the wooden deck into a desperate cry. It was like someone had taken my heart out and squeezed it for all it was worth.

“It’s too much! I can take no more!” My  chest ached as I sat there, tears rolling down my whiskered cheeks into the now moonless nightmare.

“Man ye have no vest... Take mine.” I looked up from my place on the cold deck floor to see Harper.

“We’re going down anyway. I don’t need it.” I said, turning my head in hopes he wouldn’t be able to notice the pathetic tears sliding down my face, like one of the other little children.  

“But that’s just it, I’m not going down. I’m going up.” He smiled as I took the vest and then he walked over to the singing band. He encouraged everyone to join in prayer with him for the unsaved upon the ship, and for the life boats to be rescued. I just sat there and gazed through the veil of my blurry, wet eyes.      

The last boat left at 1:40 a.m. We could sink any moment. The sea was now only 10 feet below Promenade deck. I watched as the Reverend led many in a prayer meeting. I pondered what I should do. Slowly standing, I managed a wobbly walk toward the praying group, and I was reminded of how cold I was when the cool breeze made my drying tears freeze and my body shiver. I knelt down next to Charles.

“I need help. Can you help me?” I looked up at Reverend Harper.

“No man,” he said coming toward me. “But God can. He’s the only one who can save our souls.”

“I’m a sinner dear Lord! I need your compassionate forgiveness. Please, please forgive me…” I cried.

“He already has,” The Reverend couldn’t help but smile.

Captain Smith interrupted us. “Crew, Phillips just has sent the last C.Q.D. and S.O.S’s by radio. The ship’s forecastle deck has sunk underwater. It is now 2:17 a.m. and the tilt still grows steeper. It's every man for himself.” Dejected, he then returned to the bridge to await his watery grave.

Turvey looked up at me and smiled. “I’m so glad you have answered God’s beckoning call.”

“Yes, I can’t help but be joyful! It’s astonishing; God has taken my burdening cares. He has made them all disappear like a vapor. I only hope He will save my dear wife and baby too.”

We then started singing, as huge roars were heard all around. Every movable object crashed towards the submerged bow. The ship's lights flickered once, then turned off, for good. We still kept right on singing, all one-thousand-five-hundred-twenty-two voices getting louder like the choirs of angels we would soon see. 

As I could no longer feel my numb arms or legs in the icy water,  I thought of two final things: how I love my Louisa so much, but how God loves me and her much, much more.     

After the Titanic sank seconds later, Westin had yet another visit with Reverend Harper in the water where the minister quoted Acts 16:31: “So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’”






About 4:10 a.m the Carpathia picked up the 705 survivors, including Mr. Westin and the baby, and brought them on to New York City where they arrived April 18th to over one hundred thousand spectators. The baby lived to become one of the last Titanic survivors of the 21st century. Mr. Westin continued Reverend Harper’s ministry in spreading the Gospel and frequently thought of him and Mr. Holman. He would often tell people one of the most important lessons he had learned that horrid night was of the wonders of God Who cannot be compared the R.M.S. Titanic.



Susanna is a fourteen-year-old homeschooler and the fourth daughter in a family of six children. She loves God, animals, and gourmet cooking and plays violin and piano. Oh yes--and she just happens to be our beloved younger sister who always has a special gift for us, whether that be her entertaining tales, her thoughtful questions, or her behind-the-scenes service.





Photograph Credits:
#1: ISD 191 Performing Arts Program. Used by permission under the Creative Commons License
#2: Barker, J. W. TITANIC Life Boats on Way to CARPATHIA. April 1912. Photograph. George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. Library of Congress. Web. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ggb2005011317/. No known copyright restrictions.
#3: Harold Bride, Surviving Wireless Operator of the TITANIC, with Feet Bandaged, Being Carried up Ramp of Ship. May 27, 1912. Photograph. Miscellaneous Items in High Demand, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. Library of Congress. Web. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002714434/. No known copyright restrictions.
#4: Crowd Awaiting Survivors from the Titanic. April 18, 1912. Photograph. George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. Library of Congress. Web. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2001704324/. No known copyright restrictions.
#5: Raquel from God's Daughter. Used by permission.


5 comments:

  1. Beautiful, Anna! You brought tears to my eyes.

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  2. Susanna, I seriously started to tear up in this...very well told, deary!

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  3. Hi Anna! I am going to read this to Camryn tomorrow. She has had a bit of a Titanic obsession for a few years now. Another gripping tale about that legendary night. Love you,Aunt Hiedie

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  4. Susanna - what a wonderful, heart-touching story. You did an amazing job!!

    I did have a couple of questions :): I had heard of Mr. Westin before, but I was wondering if Harry Holman and this story is really based on truth. Also, what about the note that he put in with the baby - did he really do something like that (if so, what was the baby's name in real life)? That was such a sweet part of the story... You may think me crazy for asking the questions, but I had to know :) Anyway... VERY good job!!!

    I thought you might find it interesting that I actually have a hand written letter from Milvina Dean - the last survivor of the titanic. She passed away a couple of years ago, but before she died I read and was touched by her story. After much searching, I found her address and wrote her a letter. To my great surprise and delight, she wrote back!!! I think she was 96 or 97 at the time that I wrote her. That letter is a treasure of mine (I love history and stories from the titanic have always greatly touched me. Those men were MEN and the sacrifice they made for women and children -wow, I wonder if it would be the same today...)

    Anyway, this was a little longer than I intended, but thanks for bearing with my questions and I hope you have a great day!

    ~ Savannah

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  5. Thank you all so very much for those sweet comments.

    Savannah—wow you have lots of good questions. I got the inspiration for this story in many different places (like all stories). Mr. Weston is a character based on several stories I have read about a superstitious sailor.

    In “Nothing Can Separate Us” by Tracy Leininger, the author talks about a headstong man that Reverend Harper witnesses to, so I just combined the stories and gave him a name: Westine. Mr. Harry Holman was a real man who died putting others before him, as did many others. Lots of the stories are truth or based on truth; whether or not Harry was the person who rescued the infant we will never know. The baby part of the story is my favorite part, too. I read an article about Millvina Dean and how someone set her in a mail bag to keep her safe and lowered her down to her mother. I also read another article how other infants were rescued the same way. I did make up the part about the note; I felt like he needed some way to say good-bye. I know most of the people on the Titanic did not get that chance, but I wanted him to be able to tell his wife that he was no longer afraid to die because God had saved his soul. I also wanted to include Charles Turvey (a real 16-year-old boy) to show how young many of them died. They weren’t all older men.

    That is so awesome to have such a special letter you can read to your grandkids some day reminding them never to forget! I hope I answered all your questions. Thanks again!

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