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Meagre was selected to make the climb to the eaves while Teal and I, nearly overcome by thirst, returned to Base Camp No. 1 for supplies. Meagre, meanwhile, reconnoitered the base of the slope.
When we returned he reported from the top of his ladder 1) that he had discovered two old tennis balls and a wren's nest in the roof gutter and 2) that the shingles had a slippery quality which convinced him that he should go no farther. Meagre's nerve had failed him.
Signaling our fainthearted comrade to remain where he was, Teal and I held a hasty conference. I suggested to Teal that he was admirably fitted to take over where Meagre had left off. Teal then showed his true colors by declining the assignment himself while, in the same breath, urging me to assault the slope.
Clearly, compromise was necessary to preserve the morale of the expedition, so Teal and I decided to give Meagre a chance to save face. A rope would bolster his courage. We fetched one forthwith from the garage, making only the briefest of stops at Base Camp No. 1 en route.
Meagre was then directed to stand by at the eaves while we threw the rope around the chimney with the aid of a small rock attached to its end. The rock narrowly missed Meagre on the way down, causing him to make remarks not in keeping with Hillarian tradition. We overlooked this, coolly observing that, thanks to us, he was now out of danger. He could make his way up the roof by going hand over hand along the rope to the chimney, whence a traverse to the site of the fallen TV aerial was an easy matter.
Meagre snorted rudely but seemed to have got hold of himself. In spite of his attitude, Teal and I were able to muster a cheer as he disappeared into the swirling mists at the 30-foot level.
For the next hour or so we had to swallow our disappointment at not making the ascent, contenting ourselves with frequent trips to the base camp where we engaged in light banter with Mrs. Meagre, Mrs. Teal and others who had dropped in from neighboring base camps. Once we even threw Meagre an extra pair of pliers when he carelessly allowed his own to slide into a crevasse.
It seemed like ages before we caught sight of him making his way down the mountain. He was overtired and emotionally unstable, if not a little super-cooled around the gills. As a matter of fact, though the weather was tolerably warm, he resembled nothing so much as the Abominable Snowman.
His only remarks were to the effect that the least we could do would be to retrieve the empty beer cans which twinkled here and there on the surrounding lowlands.
One of the native bearers told us later that Meagre spent the rest of the day sulking. It's a pity that his fit of depression—possibly induced by lack of oxygen or oversensitivity to scattered beer cans—should have marred an otherwise perfect climb.