“Caleb!” Mary could hardly breathe for the smoke and stench of burning rubber. She could see the big pickup resting upside down on the far side of the ten-foot drainage ditch.
“You looking for the Aim-ish man?”
Mary nodded, too frightened for words.
“He’s in there!” A woman gestured with a big flashlight toward the expanse of muddy water.
In the distance, Mary heard a siren. “He’s all right?” she begged. “The Amish man?”
“Miss. You’ll have to move back.”
Mary ignored the trooper, her attention riveted by a dark shape moving out of the shadows. “Caleb?” she screamed and ran toward him.
Hatless, covered in mud, Caleb trudged toward her. In his arms, he carried a limp body. Caleb lowered him facedown onto the ground and pushed hard on his back. The man, hardly more than a scrawny boy, began to cough and then to choke up muddy water. Caleb gave him one more good push, and the youth began to cry. Satisfied he was not seriously injured, Caleb left him to the policeman.
“Caleb.” Mary threw herself into his arms and covered his face with kisses. “I thought you were dead,” she said, now sobbing with joy and relief.
“The truck hit my back wheel then cut in front of the horse and flipped. The driver was thrown into the water. I knew I had to get him out before he drowned.”
“When I couldn’t find you… I… I…”
Caleb’s strong arms went around her and he led her into the shadows. “Did you see my horse?” he asked. “Is he all right?”
She nodded. “Walking on all four legs, shook up, but sound enough. Oh, Caleb, I’m so sorry for the way I acted back at the house.”
“Keep explaining,” he murmured. “It’s going good so far.”
And then he kissed her so sweetly that she didn’t mind the mud or the sand or his wet clothes soaking hers. “I thought I’d lost you,” she said. “And I know now that I don’t ever want to lose you.” She looked into his eyes. “I was afraid I couldn’t trust you, but I was wrong. You just risked your life to save a stranger.” She felt tears on her cheeks. “You’re the one man I can trust, Caleb.”
“Does this mean I can court you?”
She gazed into his eyes in the darkness. “It means I’ll be your wife…if you still want me.”
“We’d best marry soon, I think.” He threaded his lean fingers through her long hair. “You seem to have lost your bonnet.”
“Oh.” Her hand flew to her head. Not only had she lost her kapp, but her hair was hanging down around her shoulders like some Jezebel.
“These English will see us kissing and there’ll be a scandal in their papers,” he teased. “But we’ll be far away in Oregon.”
“Oregon?” She looked at him again. “I thought your farm was in Virginia.”
“What made you think that? It’s my other grandfather who’s offered his farm. My mother’s father, Moses. He lives just across the valley from your family.”
Tears shone in her eyes. “We’re going home to Blessing Creek?”
“Ya, my darling. Sometimes you search the world for what’s missing, only to find it close to home all along.”