Diamond Hope, Part 7

 

Chapter Seven
Tales of the Flood
June, 1863

I opened my eyes. I hurt all over and there was no sound at all, and I wondered if I had gone completely deaf. Then I heard the flood rumbling somewhere below us, and suddenly the memory of what had happened rushed in on me.
I was lying in a tangle of limbs and dirt, and I didn’t know how I was going to extricate myself. I tested my arms and legs further, and they didn’t seem to be broken, at least not as far as I could tell. I could see, and my hearing returned bit by bit. That’s a blessing, I thought. That was very good. I looked around for the others, but didn’t see anyone for the piles of debris that dotted the mountainside. That was surely one mighty flood, I thought, but I knew that I would have to get out from where I was and call them.
With a mighty effort, I wriggled my way out of the pile, falling to the ground where I lay for a few minutes to recover my strength. Then I gingerly stood up. Checking myself all over, I noticed I had scrapes in every possible place. I hadn’t felt them because I was occupied with getting out and finding the others. That was most important. The scrapes didn’t hurt too badly right then, but I knew they would be much, much worse later.
I looked all around me and called, “Laurel! Andrew! Hiram! Where are you?”
After first no one answered me, but then I heard a weak voice say, “Over here, Caleb,”
“Where? I can’t see you,” I said. “Who is it?”
“It’s Hiram. Walk toward the sound of my voice. I’m stuck in a tree right behind you. I’ll need your help to pull me out. I can’t move.”
I walked slowly toward the voice, intent on finding whoever was speaking. There was so much clutter between me and him, I was no more than ten feet away from a fallen tree when I saw Hiram lodged in some of the branches. He looked about like I did, but he was holding his arm as if it hurt him.
“Hiram! Let me get you out of there!”
“Careful with my arm! I think it’s broken.”
“I’ll be careful. Don’t worry.”
I worked to free him from the branches. Like me, I did so with some difficulty. Then I had him sit down on a rock. I could tell just by looking at his arm that it was broken. I had seen several of those in the army.
“Are you in a lot of pain?” I asked him.
He nodded, unable to speak from the pain.
“After we find the others, we’ve got to get you to a doctor. There’s probably one in the next town we’ll come to. It’s a pretty good size. In the meantime, I’ll splint it as best I can after we find them. Can you walk?”
He nodded again, grimacing and bearing his teeth. I knew if he were doing that, it must have been painful indeed, since Hiram didn’t show much emotion or reaction to pain in general..
“Good. Let’s walk over here and I’ll have you lie down in a clear spot. Then I’ll walk around and call for the others.”
I gently lowered him to the ground at a place not too far off and then I started walking back and forth in ever widening arcs as best I could with all the branches in my way. I would also see if I could find a blanket for Hiram if I could, but it was going to be slow going.
“Andrew!” I called. “Laurel! Caleb!”
After about ten minutes, Hiram called over to me. “I think I heard someone calling you.” It was good that the pain apparently had eased enough that he could talk.
I went over to where he was and listened. The voice was faint, but I could tell it belonged to a young man. “That has to be Andrew,” I said. “Andrew! It’s Caleb! Keep talking! I’ll come over to you.”
I followed the sound of his voice until we saw that he was, like Hiram, stuck in a tree. I worked to pull the branches away from him, and finally moved enough of them that he could climb down the trunk. When he got close enough, I put out my hand and helped him the rest of the way.
“Are you injured?” I asked him.
He shook his head. “No injuries, thank God, but I’m sore and a little dizzy. I guess that’s to be expected after you’ve been thrown about in a flood.”
“I would say so. Now you rest here for a moment and when you feel like it, then you can help me find Laurel and Caleb.”
“Where’s Hiram?” Andrew asked.
“I found him, but I think he has a broken arm. He’s down the slope a bit, lying down. He was really shaken up.”
“I’m sure he is. I know how I feel, and I don’t have a broken arm.”
“True. I’m going to look for Laurel and Caleb now.”
“I hope they’re all right.”
“So do I. I’m going to look upslope for them. Join me when you’re ready.”
“I will. Good luck.”
“Thanks.” I left him and moved up the slope, pushing limbs out of the way and clambering over fallen trees and started calling for Laurel, hoping she could hear me. I had to move very slowly, so it took me a while to cover any distance at all. After about five minutes, Hiram said, “I hear a woman over here.” It turned out that he had found both of them, possibly because he was younger and his hearing better. And they were down the slope from where he was, so I had been going the wrong way.
I came back down toward Hiram, went past him, and came upon Laurel standing on a branch high in a tree.
“Laurel!” I called. “Are you injured? Is little Caleb all right?”
“No, Caleb. I’m all right. Thank God I’m all right.”
I noticed she had something in her arms. “Is it Caleb?”
She turned her bundle toward us. “Yes, it’s little Caleb. And he seems to be unharmed.”
I was amazed. “I’m so glad! How on earth did you hold onto him during the flood?”
She regarded me with determination. “I knew that a mother’s love is stronger than anything, and that thought gave me the strength to hold onto him. I just held him the whole time, and he didn’t make a sound. He’s a brave little boy.”
I felt my eyes tear up for a moment. Laurel had done what none of us could do, I thought, and because of her, our son was alive. It was a miracle of love, and I thanked God for it.

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