Downton Abbey is but a memory…but it will be forever in our hearts. Do you remember that first scene six seasons ago when a messenger on a bicycle brought a telegram to the Crawley family that would forever change their lives?
A telegram about two male relatives lost at sea.
On the Titanic.
Hard to believe it’s 104 years ago today the grand ship Titanic left Ireland. We know what happened next.
So in honor of the souls who perished that night and those who survived, here is a lesser known story about the Titanic.
And the pig.
According to the New York Herald on April 19, 1912: â€œFive women saved their pet dogs â€¦another woman saved a little pig, which she said was her mascot.â€
The reporter goes on to say that she didnâ€™t know how the woman cared for her pig aboard the Titanic, but she carried it up the â€œside of the ship [the Carpathia, rescue ship] in a big bag.â€
How did the pig get into the lifeboat? Was the pig traveling first class?
In a word, yes.
More about this intrepid little piggy and the important part it played in the sinking of the Titanic later. First, it seems you canâ€™t get away from pigs and the Titanic.
In the Julian Fellowesâ€™ mini-series â€œTitanic,â€ a passenger in third class isnâ€™t happy about traveling steerage to New York. She tells her husband that her daughter said their Irish Catholic family is like â€œâ€¦six little pigs packed into that cabin, all trussed and bound for marketâ€¦â€
Theyâ€™re not the only Irish aboard the ship with pigs on their mind.
Katie Oâ€™Reilly, the heroine in my historical romance, TITANIC RHAPSODY, nearly doesnâ€™t make it on board the ship because of a pig.
Katie runs away from the grand house where she is in service after she is wrongly accused of stealing a diamond bracelet. The law is after her, but she has one chance to escape.
â€œStop in the name of the law, Katie Oâ€™Reilly!â€ she heard the constable yell down from the open second story window.
She looked up at him, disbelieving. Stop? Was the man daft?
With her ticket clutched in her fist, Katie took off running, up one winding street and down the next. The smell of cooked onions and cabbages filled her nostrils as she sidestepped piles of horse manure in the middle of the road.
Then her hat flew off. When she stopped to pick it up, she nearly collided with a large pig being driven through the streets by a farmer.
Was she about to be done in by a pig?
She thought not.
Katie jumped out of the way, then bent down to retrieve her hat.
The pigâ€™s hooves had ripped it to shreds.
She kept going, the morning dew on the air giving way to a fine salty mist, sweeping away her fear and clearing her mind as the offices of the White Star and American Lines came into view.
Will Katie make it on board the Titanic before she sails? Only by the skin of her teeth.
Does she see the pig during the crossing?
Few passengers did because the cute little pig with the curly tail was the lucky mascot of Miss Edith Russell.
She loved to wind up its tail and it would play a lively musical tune similar to a two-step called â€œMaxixe.â€
You see, the pig was musical pig.
The reporter on the Carpathia didnâ€™t know the real story behind Miss Russellâ€™s pig. How it was given to her after she survived a horrific motorcar crash. She promised her mother it would never be out of her sight. When she realized the Titanic was sinking and sheâ€™d left her mascot in her cabin, she sent the steward to retrieve her lucky pig.
Still, Edith was hesitant to get into a lifeboat. When a seaman tossed her pig into a boat (believing it was a baby wrapped up in a bag), Edith insisted on getting into the boat, too. Its nose was gone and its legs broken, but Edith and her little pig escaped in lifeboat no. 11.
Overcrowded with sixty-eight passengers (nearly one-third were children), Edith realized her little pig could comfort others as it had her. She wound up its tail so it would play music for the children. Most of the little ones stopped crying as the pigâ€™s sparkling musical notes calmed their fears.
Its furry, white-gray body wet with sea spray.
Its cute grin giving them hope they would be saved.