Bridge Game Not Disputed
To illustrate the placidity with which practically all men regarded the Titanic accident it is related that Pierre Marechal, son of vice admiral of teh French navy, Lucien Smith, Paul Chevre, a French sculpture, and A.F. Ormont, a cotton broker were in the Cafe Parisien playing bridge. One of them had left his cigar on the card table , and while the three others were gazing out on the sea he remarked that he couldn't afford to lose his smoke, returned for his cigar and came out again.
They remained only for a few moments on deck, an then resumed their game under the impression that the ship had stopped for reasons best known to the captain and not involving any danger to her. Later in describing the scene that took place, M. Marechal, who was among the survivors, said: " When three- quarters of a mile away we stopped , the spectacle before our eyes was in its way magnificent. In a very calm sea, beneath a sky moonless but sown with millions of stars, the enormous Titanic lay on the water, illuminated from the water line to the boat deck. The bow was slowly sinking into the black water."
The tendency of the whole ship's company except the men in the engine department, who were made aware of the danger by the inrushing water, was to make light of and in some instances even to ridicle the thought of danger to so substantial a fabric.
The Captain on Deck
When Captain Smith came from the chart room onto the bridge, his first words were, " close the emergency doors."
"They're already closed, sir," Mr Murdock replied.
"Send to the carpenter and tell him to sound the ship," was the next order. The message was sent to the carpenter but the carpenter never came up to report. He was probably the first man on the ship to lose his life. The captain then looked at the communicator , which shows in what direction the ship is listing. He saw that she carried five degrees list to starboard.
The ship was then rapidly settling forward. All the steam sirens were blowing. By the captain's orders, given in the next few minutes, the engines were put to work at pumping out the ship, distress signals were sent by the Marconi, and rockets were sent up from the bridge by Quartermaster Rowe. All hands were ordered on deck.
Passengers Not Alarmed
The blasting shriek of the sirens had not alarmed the great company of the Titanic, because such steam calls are an incident of travel in seas where fogs roll. Many had gone to bed, but the hour, 11.40pm, was not too late for the friendly contact of saloons and smoking rooms. It was Sunday night and the ship's concert had ended, but there were many hundreds up and moving among the gay lights, and many on deck with their eyes strained toward the mysterious west, where home lay. And in one jarring, great-sweeping moment all of these, asleep or awake, were at the mercy of chance. Few among the more than 2,000 aboard could have a thought of danger. The man who stood up in the smoking room to say the Titanic was vulnerable or that in a few minutes two thirds of her people would be face to face with death, would have been considered a fool or a lunatic. No ship ever sailed the seas that gave her passengers more confidence, more cool security.
Within a few minutes stewards and other member of the drew were sent around to arouse people. Some utterly refused to get up. The stewards had almost to force the doors of the staterooms to make the somnolent appreciate their peril, and many of them, it is believed , were drowned like rats in a trap.
Astor and Wife Strolled on Deck
Colonel and Mrs Astor were in their room and saw the ice vision flash by. They had not appreciably felt the gentle shock and supposed that nothing out of the ordinary had happened. They were both dressed and came on deck leisurely. William T. Stead, the London journalis, wandered on deck for a few minutes, stopping to talk to Frank Millet. "What do they say is the trouble?" he asked.
"Icebergs," as the brief reply. "Well," Stead said, "I guess it is nothing serious. I'm, going back to my cabin to read."
From end to end on the mighty boat officers were rushing about without much noise or confusion, but giving orders sharply. Captain Smith told the third officer to rush downstairs and see whether the water was coming in very fast. "And," he added, "take some armed guards along to see that the stokers and engineers stay at their posts."
In two minutes the officer returned. " It looks pretty bad, sir" he said. " The water is rushing in and filling the bottom. The locks of the water-tight compartments have been sprung by the shock."
"Give the command for all passengers to be on deck with life-belts on." Through the length and breadth of the boat, upstairs and downstairs, on all decks, the cry rang out : "All passengers on deck with life-preservers."
A Sudden Tremor of Fear
For the first time , there was a feeling of panic. Husbands sought for their wives and children. Families gathered together. Many who were asleep hastily caught up their clothing and rushed on deck. A moment before the men had been joking about the life-belts, according to the story told by Mrs Vera Dick, of Calgary, Canada. " Try this one," one man said to her, "they are the very latest thing this season. Everyone's wearing them now."
Another man suggested to a woman friend , who had a fox terrier in her arms, that she should put a life-saver on the dog. " It won't fit," the woman replied laughing. "Make him carry it in his mouth," said the friend.
Confusion Among the Immigrants
Below, on the steerage deck, there was intense confusion. About the time the officers on the first deck gave the order that all men should stand to one side and all women should go to deck B, taking the children with them, a similar order was given to the steerage passengers. The women were ordered to the front, the men to the rear. Half a dozen healthy, husky immigrants pushed their way forward and tried to crowd into the first boat.
"Stand back," shouted the officers who were manning the boat. "The women come first."
Shouting curses in various foreign languages, the immigrant men continued their pushing and tugging to climb into the boats. Shots rang out. One big fellow fell over the railing into the water. Another dropped to the deck, moanign. His jaw had been shot away. This was the story told by the bystanders afterwards on the pier. One husky Italian told the writer on the pier that the way in which men were shot down was horrible. His sympathy was with the men who were shot. "They were only trying to save their lives," he said.
Wireless Operator Died At His Post
On board the Titanic, the wireless operator , with a life-belt about his waist, was hitting the instrument taht was sending out C.Q.D., messages, " Struck on iceberg, C.Q.D"
" Shall I tell captain to turn back and help?" falshed a reply from Carpathia.
"Yes, old man," the Titanic wireless operator responded. "Guess were are sinking."
An hour later, when the second wireless man came into the boxlike room to tell his companion what the situation was, he found a negro stoker creeping up behind the operator and saw him raise a knife over his head. He said afterwards - he was among those rescued - that he realized at once that the negro intended to kill the operator in order to take his life-belt from him. The second operator pulled out his revolver and shot the negro dead.
"What was the trouble?" asked the operator.
"That negro was going to kill you and steal your life-belt," the second man replied.
"Thanks, old man," said the operator. The second man went on deck to get some more information. He was just in time to jump overboard before the Titanic went down. The wireless operator and the body of the negro who tried to stael his belt went down together.
On the deck where the first class passengers were quartered, known as deck A, there was none of the confusion that was taking place on the lower decks. The Titanic was standing without much rocking.
The captain had given the order and the band was playing.