A Tragic Parting as the Ill-Fated Boats
|Many are the tragic occurrences that have come to light
incidental to the 'Clallam' disaster. Some of the survivors who returned to Victoria yesterday
told of how one frantic man saw his loved ones drown and then leaped into the sea.
One of the lifeboats had been successfully launched. The captain was hurrying the women and children off the ship and into the small boat. A man stood on the leeward side of the 'Clallam', parting with his wife and baby.
He kissed the little one a tender good-bye. He placed his arms about the neck of his wife, and, with a brave effort to be cheerful, he said:
"I'll meet you tomorrow - in Townsend."
Those survivor who were standing by say he hesitated a moment over the last word, and more than one thought that he meant to say, "I will meet you tomorrow in heaven."
The little woman was just as brave as her husband, and, with a smile, she returned his embrace and kiss, grasped her baby in her arms and stepped into the boat.
The man stood by the rail and watched them. As the lifeboat pulled away from the 'Clallam' he broke down. The tears came to his eyes and rolled unheeded down his face. No one knows, of coarse, but perhaps some strange intuition told him that he was looking on his loved ones for the last time in this world, and that he indeed would meet them on the morrow - "in heaven."
At any rate, before he small boat was fifty yards away she capsized and sank. The occupants of the tiny craft fought madly for their lives. Occasionally an arm would be thrust up through the waves, and once in a while a head would appear, to vanish from sight forever.
All this time the man stood on the wind-swept deck of the 'Clallam', absolutely powerless to go to the assistance of those he loved better than life itself. Right before his eyes, his wife and child went down to a watery grave. Almost within reach of his arms and within sound of his voice, they sank, never to be seen again.
When it was all over, when not even a bit of wreckage remained to mark the spot where the boat had gone down, the man turned to one standing near him, and there was the look of insanity in his eyes. It is no wonder! The chances are that the man did go insane during the few fleeting moments, in which he watched the death struggle of his wife and babe. Anyway, he said to the man who was standing by his side:
"I have lost my wife and baby. Did you see them sink out there?", and he waved his hand in the direction in which the boat went down.
That was all. Before anyone could interfere, before a hand could be raised to prevent him, he had leaped to the rail, and from there he plunged headlong into the raging sea. That was the last seen of him. He never came up. His hesitating prophecy of a few moments before, perhaps, came true, and he saw them on the morrow - "in heaven."