It was the Sun Prince, also known as Mr. Endou. His bushy beard concealed his face in such a way that I couldn’t tell if he was smiling that we were back safe or scowling at us for breaking the rules. Quitting partway through the weeklong camp wasn’t that unusual; it was the reason for quitting that was the issue.
“Sorry. Some unbelievable things happened…” Shun said in a choked voice.
The rest of us nearly started crying.
“Well, well, let’s talk about this later, okay? Dock the canoes for now.”
We held back our tears and went ashore. The ropes tying our equipment undid themselves and our supplies flew through the air to line up neatly on the dock.
“Oh, we’ll do it,” Satoru said.
The Sun Prince shook his head, “It’s alright. You’re all tired, aren’t you? Anyway, you should get to the children’s center. Breakfast is being served soon.”
I vaguely wondered why we had to go to the children’s center. It was right next to the docks and had a resting area as well as rooms for overnight stays, but none of us had set foot in it after graduating from Harmony School.
“Sir, we’d really like to go home…” Shun spoke for all of us.
“Ah, yes, I understand. But before that there are some things we need to ask you about.”
“Can’t we go home and rest for a bit?” Maria pleaded.
I was dying to take a bath, but the Sun Prince was adamant.
“Listen to me, okay? Don’t forget that you guys have broken some serious rules. I know you’re tired, but we have to take care of important things first.”
He was smiling as kindly as ever but the tip of his nose glistened with sweat.
We shuffled toward the children’s center.
“Saki, what do you think about this?” Satoru muttered in my ear.