Tragic Homecoming of the Titanic Survivors
It was a solemn moment when the Carparthia heaved in sight. There she rested on the water, a blur of black, huge, mysterious, awe inspiring. It was a few minutes after 7pm when she arrived at the entrance to Ambrose Channel. She was coming fast steaming at better than fifteen knots an hour and she was sighted along before she was expected. Except for the usual side and masthead lights she was almost dark, only the upper cabins showing a few glimmers of light.
Then began the long waiting period, the suspence proving almost too much for the hundreds gathered to greet friends and relatives or to learn with certainty at last that those for who they watched would never come ashore.
There was almost complete silence on the pier. Doctors and nurses, members of the Women's Relief Committee, city and government officials, as well as officials of the line , moved nervously about.
2000 people were on the pier beneath big custom letters corresponding to the initials of the names of the survivors they came to meet. women wept , but they wept quietly, not hysterically and the sound of the sobs were drowned out by the hum and bustle from the pier. Slowly and majestically the ship slid through the water, still bearing the details of that secret of what happened and who perished when the Titanic Met her fate.
Convoying the Carparthia was a fleet of tugs bearing men and women anxious to learn the latest news. The Cunarder had been as silent for days as though it, too, were a ship of the dead. A list of survivors had been given out from its wireless station and that was all. Even the approximate time of its arrival had been kept a secret.
Carparthia Reaches New York
There was no response to the hail from one tug and as others closed in, the steamship quickened her speen a little and left them behind as she swung up the channel.
There was an exploding of flashlights from some of the tugs, answered seemingly by sharp stabs of lightning in the northwest that served to accentuate the silence and absence of light aboard the recue ship. About 5 or 6 members of the crew (or ship's officers) were seen standing along the rails, but otherwise the ship seemed to be deserted.
Nearing the quarantine area the Carparthia slowed down and called the immigration inspection boat to ask if the health officer wished to board. She was told that he did and the steamer came to a stop while Dr O'Connell and two assistants climbed aboard. Again the newspaper men asked for some word on the catastrophe of the Titanic but there was no answer as the Carparthia continued towards the pier.
As she passed the revenue cutter Mohawk and the derelict destroyer Seneca anchored off Tompkinsville the wireless on the government vessels was seen to flash but there was no answering spark from the Carparthia. Entering the North River she laid her course close to the New Jersey side in order to have room to swing into her pier.
By this time the rails were lined with men and women. They were very silent. There were a few requests for news from those on board and a few answers to questions shouted from the tug.
The liner began o slacken her speed and the tugboat soon cam alongside. Up above the inky blackness of the hull figures could be made out, leaning over the port railings, as though peering eagerly at the little craft which was bearing down on the Carparthia. Some of them had passed through that inferno of the deep sea which sprang up to destroy the mightiest steamship afloat.
"Carparthia, ahoy!" was shouted through a megaphone. There was an interval of a few seconds and then "Aye, aye" came the reply.
"Is there any assistance that can be rendered?" was the next question.
"Thank you, no" was the emotional reply. In the meantime the tugboat was getting nearer and nearer to the Carparthia and soon faces began to appear over the railing.