Scott and his four companions were terribly disappointed when they got to the South Pole and found the Norwegians had beaten them in the race to be the first men ever to reach it. After planting the British flag at the Pole, they took a photograph of themselves before they left, and then started the 950-mile journey back.
The journey was painfully slow, and they joy and they joy and excitement had gone out of them. The sun hardly appeared, but the now was soft, and snow storms often made it impossible to sight the stones they had set up to mark their way home. Then, to make things worse, Evans, whom they had all tough the strongest of the five, showed signs of weakening, fell badly into a deep hole in the ice, and after struggling along for several days, suddenly collapsed and died.
The four who were left pushed on at the best speed they could manage; they knew their strength was going and food was running short. They winds tired them out, so that each day the distance they traveled was shorter than the previous day’s. If they had had warm food and dry sleeping-bags, they had left oil for cooking and heat, they found that there was less than they expected. They hadn’t known that oil creeps cut from tins in very low temperatures.
Captain Oates had been suffering for some time from frozen feet; at night his feet swelled so large tat he could scarcely put his boots on the next morning, and he walked in great pain. He was very brave. He did not complain, but he knew his slowness was making it less likely that the others could save themselves. He asked them to leave him behind in his sleeping-bag, but they refused, and helped him on a few more miles, until it was time to put up the tent for another night.
The following morning, while the other were still in their sleeping bags, he said: “I am just going outside and may be gone some time:. He was never seen a gain. He had walked out alone into the whirling now, hoping that his death would help his companions. It takes nothing away from his brave act that in the end it was in vain.
Answer the following questions
- How did Scott and his companions know which way to go?
- How did Oates think his death might help his companions?
- Why did the men’s strength go?
- Who was the first on the five men to die?
- What preparation for their return journey did the five men make during theur journey?
- What was wrong with their food? The snow? Their sleeping-bags? The oil?