Arthur Rostron & Crew, Carpathia, Titanic

How many times have I prayed in this very spot?

My passengers are unaware what has happened. I can hardly believe it myself. This morning, we were underway, and tonight we travel in the opposite direction. The stokers work like mad, pushing our engines as fast as they will go.

Titanic is sinking.

Everyone said she was unsinkable, the mightiest ship ever to sail the sea.

But the sea is mightier than any ship. I have known it many years, been spared by it many times.

God, let us make it in time.

They say it was an iceberg. We are the only ship that responded to their SOS.

I pray we are in time.

Dawn is minutes away. I pace the floor of my cabin and turn as the door opens. My second mate says, “Sir, you must come topside now!”

I emerge into the gloom. Icy air sucks the air from my lungs. I pull my coat closer around me and approach the rail. My stomach drops. We are surrounded by icebergs, ahead and behind.

“How many of them did you see?” I ask him.

Astonished eyes meet mine. “None of them,” he says, “we were aware of none of them.”

All night, we have sailed through ice unawares. How close we came to sharing Titanic’s fate, and none of us knew… until now.

God has spared us.

My voice breaks. “How far are we from their latitude?”

“She should be here, somewhere, sir.”

We sail on, the icebergs merging into the morning light. There is no sign of her.

“Surely there are survivors,” he says.

I cling to the rail. Then, a shout from above and the boy in the crow’s nest points. “Lifeboats!”

Some of them are bound together, bobbing on the sea. “Captain Rostron?” the first mate asks.

“Bring them aboard.”

Shouts bring crew members topside. I count them, those close and the distant dots floating against the dawn. My heart sinks.

It is all that remains.