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.”
“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 façade, 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.
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
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. New York City
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.
#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.