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"Maybe something happened to him-- some sort of emergency," suggested James, trying hard to keep a level head. "We should split up and search for him. He might be in trouble." The group, who, up to now, had been motivated by hunger and an exciting awe of adventure, were now spurred on by a subdued fear of being stranded by themselves in the middle of nowhere. None of them had any grand delusions of being able to make it on their own. They needed their guide. They needed Charlton.

Their search soon ended when Dick shouted,

"He's over here! He's over here!" Everyone ran to where Dick was kneeling on the ground. There lie their strong guide, shaking from hypothermia, for he had been exposed all night to the cold, damp mountain air. Charlton's teeth were chattering and his face was pale.

"Quick," said James, taking off his coat and placing it around Charlton's shoulders, "rub his hands and legs." Everyone shed a warm article of clothing, wrapping it snugly around him. "Can you walk?" asked James, still trying to think ahead. Charlton nodded. Slowly, they made it back to the campsite. James lit a fire and seated Charlton beside it.

"Are you going to be OK?" asked Ralph, not knowing whether he should still be concerned or not.

"I'll be all right," responded Charlton, his body temperature rising. "Let's eat lunch here and head back," said Charlton, his voice half command and half suggestion.

"What happened?" asked James, while lunch heated over the fire pit.

"This camping trip was a bad idea," said Charlton, shaking his head. "I shouldn't have brought you guys out here. I'm really sorry," he apologized.

"How was it your fault?" asked Ralph, forgetting his previous panic.

"Sometimes, I'm forgetful," Charlton explained, trying hard to leave out the word Alzheimer's. "At any rate, you'll all get your money back." That was all the explanation Charlton was going to offer, so they instead contented themselves with the letters, R-E-F-U-N-D.

Providentially, Ralph suddenly remembered he had brought a cell phone with him.

"Call Frank," instructed Charlton. "Tell him to meet us at the start of the trail."

"What do I tell him if he wants to know why?" asked Ralph, unsure of the reason himself.

"Just tell Frank that we're heading back early," said Charlton, secretly dreading the questions that Frank was going to ask. The call was soon made. Frank agreed to meet them at the beginning of the trail. When Frank questioned the sudden change of plans, Ralph repeated word-for-word what Charlton had said, "We're heading back early."

Lunch passed in silence, everyone unsure what had happened to their happy group. Things had gone so well, and then... what? The hike back to the start of the trail was made shorter than the time it took for them the day before, for Charlton knew a short cut. He dreaded another night spent outdoors with a group of strangers. The sooner they got back, the better he would feel.

Frank met them at the appointed spot and greeted them in a friendly fashion. The seven campers nodded back, uncertain how they felt about him at the moment.

"What happened?" whispered Frank to Charlton, as the solemn group climbed into the van.

"I wasn't feeling too well," explained Charlton, hoping to leave it at that.
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