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"Lee-san! Lee-san!" cried a girlish voice. A tiny figure in a group of resters ahead was waving to me. As I approached, the group contracted and made room for me. It was Yoshiko and the rest of my missing party. They were waiting for me. Feeling trapped, dismayed and delighted I stepped into their midst. Minoru pumped my hand while Yoshiko sliced off a thin layer of lemon and handed it to me with a cracker.
"Light refreshment," explained Minoru. "Just a little is best when climbing."
I accepted the tidbits stoically. What I needed was an oxygen tank. The utter luxury of standing still was overwhelming. A few minutes of bliss passed before I realized that most of the party were anxious to move on. They had waited long enough. I could see their point, but it seemed unfair for me to have to go on again when I had had the least rest in the entire crowd. Now was the time to be firm. I told Minoru I was dropping out.
"They will wait for you to rest," he reassured me.
"No. They should not wait. I'm not climbing anymore."
I hated to tell him, but there was no choice. I repeated it. This was no time for misunderstanding. He looked at me blankly for a moment and then spoke to the others. They were not pleased. They had lost time in waiting for a quitter. I wanted to explain my lack of proper clothing, but abruptly the group divided, most of them stepping out into the climbing line. Minoru and Yoshiko made no move to leave. Afraid they would lose the others if they didn't start, I stepped aside to let them out onto the trail.
"We stay," said Minoru.
"Minoru, please go. You do me no good by staying. I'm going back down."
"Can't go down. Climbers come up."
"I'll wait till morning and then go down."