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- "On Board the Cunard R.M.S.Laconia"
May 30th 1912
"My dear Marcia Now that I have recovered from the nervous breakdown I had after the horrors of the shipwreck, I will try to write you a little about it. I was in bed and asleep and did not feel the shock of the collision with the iceberg & no one called me, I awoke & finding the engines had stopped I got out of bed & looked into the alleyway - I saw the steward - he assured me there was no danger & that I need not dress unless I liked then I heard him go to the stewards cabin & say "hurry up" so I got on my under clothes & my fur lined coat & a hat & went on deck & there an officer was ordering people to climb up a ladder on to the upper deck so I went with the crowd & when I reached the top there were eight or ten stewards there who said I must get into a boat that was on the davits - however they insisted & I was put into boat No.13 - with about 50 people - mostly men of the unemployed class & stokers, stewards & cooks - not one real seamean amongst them there were only about 12 women in the boat & no compass, lanterns or water, - when the boat finally reached the water there was this one who understood how to release it from the ropes & so there we were until a knife could be found & the ropes cut in the meantime no 14 boat was descending on the top of us & we had great difficulty in making them stop lowering that boat until we were free - Then we pulled out from the Titanic somehow as the men at the oars did not know how to row - could not keep time & did not know starboard from port !!!
We saw about a mile & a half away before the ship finally went down & then we stayed there in the dark with icebergs all around as the other lifeboats (also without lights) rowing about near us. I had some long letters (I had written to my girls) in my handbag & I gave them to be burned sheet by sheet as signals. The dawn came about 4.30 & then we saw dozens of icebergs & the new moon in a pink haze. It was a most wonderful sight & soon after that, about five o'clock we saw the mastlights of the Carpathia on the horizon -- & then the headlights & then the portholes & then we knew we would be saved. We had to go up a rope ladder on the side of the "Carpathia" (I didn't know how I did it), and then we were taken on board given coffee & brandy - but as our boat was about the sixteenth or seventeenth to arrive all the berths were given away before I reached there & and so had to stay in the Library for the four days and nights before we reached New York -- and there were no brushes or combs to be had - nor tooth brushes as these were all sold in a minute. The Carpathia is a small ship and how she found room & food for seven hundred people besides her own passengers seems marvellous. Of course the scenes on board were very harrowing -- as so many people had lost their dear ones -- there were 150 widows. Thank God -- Jumbo [?] was not with me -- so that I lost only my clothes & presents for my family in America. When I landed in New York my son Frank was not there to meet me - he did not get my letter until after the accident so I had to stay in New York alone for three days until he came. I had no dress on & no luggage, but the people at the hotel were very kind when I said I had been on the Titanic & the housekeeper lent me a nightie & wrapper -- until I could get some things from the shops. I had some money in a little bag on my corsets as well as my best jewelry. So I was very fortunate...."
1. Spelling and punctuation have been preserved, where possible.
2. Walter Lord had written "(Boat 13)" across the letter.
3. Like Mrs.Caldwell, Mrs.Hewlett recalled ascending a ladder to reach the lifeboats.
4. It was actually boat 15 that nearly came down on top of boat 13.