Death In Delay
( Originally Published 1902 )
THE steamship City of Rio Janeiro struck a hidden rock and went down in two hundred feet of water just outside the harbor of San Francisco.
Rounsevelle Wildman, Consul General at Hong Kong, who became prominent during the trouble in the Philippines, was on board, with his wife and two children. All went down together. Mrs. Wildman was on the ship's ladder, and Pilot Jordan, with one of her children in his arms, was close behind urging her to hurry. She hesitated and wanted to make certain that her children were safe. At the rail, directly behind Captain Ward, stood Mr. Wild-man, with his other child.
There was a loud report, like an explosion. The deck had been riven asunder by the air which was forced up beneath it by the water. The ship went down like a cannon-ball thrown into the sea.
Quartermaster Lindstrom, of the steamship City of Rio Janeiro, who was the last white man to leave the ship, said that Consul General Wildman lost his life and caused the death of his wife and children by remaining on board long after he could have gone in the boat. Captain Ward offered to Wildman the first chance in the boats, and Mrs. Wildman refused to go without her husband. Later Wildman urged her to go, and she was preparing to get into the boat when the ship sank. Lindstrom said:
" Wildman evidently had something of great value in the ship's safe, for he came to me to find purser Rooney. I called the purser, and heard Wildman ask him to open the safe and get out a large tin box that bore his name. Wildman said, ` I will stay on deck till you return.' The purser went below and lost his life, for the ship sank before he had time to return. The last thing I saw of Wildman he was on the deck watching the gangway for the appearance of the purser."
How many there are who permit the treasures and affairs of time and sense to delay them in taking to the lifeboat which is to save the soul !