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scheduled for Sundays on the White Star Line never took place. While Lightoller with one or two exceptions allowed only women and children into his boats. Murdoch allowed men in when there were no women or children present. One of the lucky men on the starboard side was Lawrence Beesley, a young science master at Dulwich College, on his way to the United States for a vacation.
When the call of "Any more ladies?" was repeated three times without result as Boat No. 13 was being loaded, a crewman in the boat looked up at Beesley and asked, "Any ladies on your deck?"
"No," replied Beesley.
"Then you had better jump," said the sailor. Beesley jumped. As he picked himself up he heard the shout, "Wait a moment, here are two more ladies," and the pair tumbled in. Then a wife, baby, and husband slid in, and Boat 13 was finally lowered to the placid surface of the ocean.
It was in the open boat that Beesley noticed the sky: "The climatic conditions were extraordinary. The night was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen: the sky without a single cloud to mar the perfect brilliance of the stars, clustered so thickly together that in places there seemed almost more dazzling points of light set in the black sky than background of sky itself; and each star seemed, in the keen atmosphere, free from any haze, to have increased its brilliance tenfold and to twinkle and glitter with a staccato flash that made the sky seem nothing but a setting made for them in which to display their wonder."
Aboard the sinking ship Smith told the wireless operators to Morse for help. Some ships seemed confused by the Titanic's distress call, while others responded. As the wireless operators sent out the Titanic's dead-reckoning position,
Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall computed a new position from stellar observations taken at 7:30 that evening. He ultimately came up with 41° 46' north, 50° 14' west, and the new position was sent out.
Not until 1985, when searches led by oceanographer Robert Ballard revealed the Titanic resting in two pieces on the ocean floor, was its true location found to be 41° 44' north, 49° 57' west, or 24 kilometers east of the last radioed position. Boxhall had done a creditable job with the calculations under dire circumstances; some time earlier he had been below decks and seen bags of mail floating about!
Out in the boats Beesley was not the only one to notice the sky. Elizabeth Shutes in Boat 3 later wrote, "As we put off from the Titanic never was a sky more brilliant, never have I seen so many falling stars. All tended to make those distress rockets that were sent up from the sinking ship look so small, so dull and futile." The maximum of the April Lyrids was still a week off.
Smith had ordered Quartermaster George Rowe to fire rockets into the air, to attract the attention of a ship off the port bow that didn't respond to the dots and dashes filling the ionosphere that night. The Titanic's crew did not know the identity of the vessel, but it was the Californian, stopped by the ice for the night, its wireless operator off duty. The Californian saw the rockets and tried to signal the Titanic with its Morse lamp but took no further action. Meanwhile, the Titanic sank lower and lower.
Part of the public's fascination with the Titanic lies in the many unanswered questions surrounding the sinking. Earlier that night Murdoch had relieved Lightoller on the bridge. They chatted with each other until Murdoch's eyes got used to the dark and (continued on Page 3)
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