From atop a rocky ridge, three haggard men looked upon a whaling boat entering a bay, their first sighting of civilization in more than sixteen months. Half a mile below them, a sailing ship lay at wharf and tiny figures wandered about. The legend of a journey to be undead was about to take root. Given who they were, it could have been expected.
Thomas Crean, holder of the Albert Medal, his nation's highest award, was no stranger to surviving the unsurvivable. The solo march to Hut Point to save the life of his commanding officer had been the single most heroic feat performed by any one individual amongst the polar explorers. It was said he was a man who would not accept his own death. Climbing down an icy-clad precipice, he began to think of the future. It was time to do something different. His passion for Antarctic exploration had become a flameless ember; the smoldering coals could no longer hold him.
"Boss, I think I'm going to go home and marry the girl next door. Then I'm going to open up a pub, call it the South Pole Inn, and I'm not coming back."
Frank Worsley, Captain and navigator of the Endurance, captured and destroyed by the ice, began to laugh with mirth. He was giddy with expectation. He had survived to pen the tale. "They'll take one look at you, and you'll be back. Won't he, Boss?" Then he stopped in his tracks.
On the face of Sir Ernest Shackleton, leader and originator of the Trans-Antarctic Expedition, a man who twice before had survived the near- unsurvivable, a smile had disappeared. They'd been following a stream. Before them was a waterfall surrounded by ice-cliffs and a drop of thirty-five feet. "Boys, we're not home yet. But this won't stop us."
Fastening a rope around a rock and dropping through the water, one after the other, they lowered themselves and continued on. Their clothes tattered and stained, hair matted and faces obscured by long beards, they were a sight to behold as they came out of the woods.
Coming upon some children, Shackleton asked, "Could you tell us which is the house of Mr. Sorile?"
The answer was a silent turning and then two pair of feet took off in the opposite direction.
At the wharf, the trio stopped before the foreman.
"Can you help us? We've lost our boat and come over the island."
"Over the island? That's impossible?" Neither Crean nor Shackleton himself, were they alive, could do it. He took them to the stationmaster.
"Well?" said Mr. Sorile.
"Don't you know me?" asked the man in the middle.
"My name is Shackleton."