On the night of April 14th, Victor and María Josefa attended a dinner hosted by Captain and then retired. Not long afterwards, the Titanic coasted into the iceberg.
At the time of the collision, María Josefa was asleep in bed, but her husband was still awake and Fermina was in another cabin sewing a corset.
Both María Josefa and Fermina were startled and they insisted he take a look. He went up on deck and noticed everything that the sea was calm but that the crew was scrambling to assess the damage. At first, most were still convinced that nothing too serious would happen, but apparently Victor was not convinced. When it became apparent that the vessel was not going to stay afloat for much longer, the passengers put on their life vests and panic set in.
Since they were 1st Class travelers they naturally were given priority to abandon ship. Though they had left all of their belongings behind, Victor ran back at María’s request to fetch a pearl necklace and then returned. It was announced that only women and children should board the lifeboats, a decision that sent María into near hysterics, as she could not fathom leaving her husband behind. One version notes that Victor had actually boarded with them and then given up his place so that a woman with her child could get in, but that contrasts from other more reliable sources, such as the ones provided for by the survivors themselves. María Josefa refused to go. They literally had to tear her off Victor and put her in Lifeboat 8. Fermina, who had become separated from them, managed to arrive just as they were lowering the boat. They literally dumped her in from above.
Also on Lifeboat 8 was a well-known English noblewoman known as the Countess of Rothes. She is depicted in the film Titanic as a caring woman with a strong will. Not only did she perform many tasks on the boat like row and hold the rudder, she also managed to keep spirits up in the face of utter despair. In her account of the events, she mentions with pain the ceaseless sobbing of María Josefa as she called out over and over for her husband. She handed over her place at the tiller to another in order to go over to the young bride and comfort her. She was an extraordinary woman. Here is how she told it.
Hours later, they were picked up by the Carpathia.
But the story doesn’t quite end there. There was a twist…