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Emma Schabert

Letter from Mrs.Paul Schabert to her sister in law Countess Martha-Butler Clonebough on board the SS Carpathia on April 18th, 1912:

My darling sister While on the Titanic I wrote you four or five pages every day, telling you of the marvellous ship, with its wonderful restaurants, lounge and reception rooms, of our large cabin, of the fashionable well dressed people who gathered in the hall after dinner. All my impressions are at the bottom of the sea now, dearest, and I am just trying to give you a faint idea of the sinking of the mightiest craft on the ocean. Boy [her brother, Philipp Mock] and I had gone to bed early. At a little before twelve there was a mighty crash which awoke me. Boy and I had spoken of how we should be able to die as stoics if the ship went down, so when I heard the crash I immediately thought of how we might be called upon to verify our words. Boy came into my cabin and said it was an iceberg, and that it would be well to dress and go upstairs to find out particulars. I dressed warmly without a blouse, however, just wearing a knitted jacket and a scarf on my head. On deck women were walking about in evening gowns, talking the matter over. We went forward quite alone in the dark, and watched the sailors working and to see the ice on the lower decks. Suddenly a tall dark figure loomed up and said: "Get on your life preservers right away." We were quite surprised and started downstairs, where pale looking silent stewards were putting life preservers on passengers. Everyone was so quiet and collected it was marvellous. On deck the first life boats were being let down. They had to be dropped 60 feet, and it was gruesome to see them being let down. Boy and I resolved to stay together. As the boat was rapidly sinking the order soon came: "Ladies only into the life boats." So one boat after after the other left with women, who left their husbands behind. The great Mr.Ismay tried to make me enter the last boat on the upper deck when I refused and it had gone, he said: You made a great mistake not to get into that boat. I answered: it does not matter I prefer staying with my brother. Meanwhile the boat was sinking lower. Then someone said there was a boat on he lower deck and we went down to find it nearly crowded. There were just a few women left on deck so I risked it and went in, and after the other other women were put in then there was room for one man, and Boy was allowed to enter. The officers had pistols to shoot any man who entered without permission. Can you realize my joy when we were both in the lifeboat? Then we were lowered in the lifeboat jerk after jerk, and so unevenly, that we expected to be thrown into the water. But the sea was calm and we were soon rapidly rowing away from the sinking vessel, to avoid the suction. She was still brilliantly lighted and looked very mighty in the starlit night. We had been out about half an hour when the bow of the boat disappeared, the stern rose high in the air and then the tremendous craft slid rapidly into the bottomless ocean. Then we heard explosion after explosion and dreadful cries for help in the darkness. I must not forget to tell you how before we left the steamer, tremendous rockets were being sent into the the night for help. They sounded like cannons, and looked like wonderful fireworks. But it gave us a sensation of awe. All the women were really wonderful, no crying or wailing or pushing. While I was on board there was no panics. But there were men who stayed till the last and were hurled into the icy water, where they swam for hours and finally were picked up into a lifeboat. These men tell harrowing tales of the last moments of men and women. But we were drifting in the darkness without a light, wondering whether we should be rescued. If a storm came we should be lost and starve or freeze. We were in the boat with stewardesses, "Second Class" women and children. No one complained of any discomfort or the cold. Boy helped to row. We could discern the outlines of great icebergs and now and then the light of another lifeboat.

As we drifted hour after hour I thought of many things, Martha dear, of destiny, of all my sufferings of the past months which had fitted me to face death without any fear. I did not like the idea of the icy water but I knew if could not last very long. And I thought of you my darling and of many other things. And when we saw the light of a steamer and hoped we might reach her, and after 2 hours we were hauled on this steamer with ropes. There were 660 people saved and over 2100 drowned. There are countless widows on board whose husbands went down, mostly young brides. It was a mistake to separate them. If I had not insisted on staying on with Boy he would have been lost too. Even Mr.John Jacob Astor with his one hundred million dollars was pushed back from a boat and left to drown while his young bride is rescued. She expects a baby and they say she is very ill. People were so heroic. As we down to our lifeboats the orchestra was playing in the drawing room. The men who played knew they must sink any minute. That was real heroism. The steamer had been bound for Gibraltar but the captain is taking us back to New York. It must be hard on the people who were going to Italy. The ship is dreadfully crowded. We have not been out of our clothes, sleeping in the smoking room or library. Last night a young lady let me sleep on her sofa. Everyone has been so kind. Some women had come on board in their nightgowns, and ladies of the Carpathia have given up clothes and their berths to others. It is pitiful to see so many young widows sitting about weeping. I am landing without a hat. I just bought a cap of the barber and a funny looking blouse. I have saved my fur coat and sable scarf and most of my jewelry. I lost my bracelets, two little diamond pins and the collar of sapphires and diamonds you used to like. I also lost my gold purse, pencil etc. and many new things I had bought in Paris. But my pearls and best jewels are safe. Boy lost everything he owns. ..."


1. Spelling and punctuation have been preserved, where possible.

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