The Fourth Man

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(This is an excerpt from the book 10 Great Souls I Want to Meet in Heaven by S. Michael Wilcox.)

I have seen Elephant Island and can’t imagine a more forlorn, lonely, or foreboding place on earth. I have made the Drake Passage six times. Just thinking about them is enough to give one nightmares of marooning and shipwreck. How did he do it? Perhaps Sir Ernest helps us answer that question with a passage he included in his own narrative of the Endurance Expedition. Remember, his creed was to do everything you could and trust to Providence for those things over which you had no control.

“When I look back at those days I have no doubt that Providence guided us, not only across those snow fields, but across the storm-white sea that separated Elephant Island from our landing place on South Georgia. I know that during that long and racking march of thirty-six hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia it seemed to me often that we were four, not three. I said nothing to my companions on the point, but afterwards Worsley said to me, ‘Boss, I had a curious feeling on the march that there was another person with us.’ Crean confessed to the same idea. One feels ‘the dearth of human words, the roughness of mortal speech’ in trying to describe things intangible, but a record of our journeys would be incomplete without a reference to a subject very near to our hearts.” They were four! I never read Shackleton’s account of the fourth companion without thinking of Luke’s account of the Savior walking with two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus.

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