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Good Morning Doctor! - Chapter 31

A Friend in Need

A lad who lived about eight miles out from town was helping with the chores one day when he was squeezed against the side of a stall by a horse, the pressure breaking his lower jaw. An effort was made to set the jaw but the ends wouldn't stay together' so I was called to see if I could do anything.

It was a terribly stormy night but I had to try to get there. I hired a livery rig and started with a good team and a light bobsled. I took a man along to help because I expected trouble in getting through the drifts.

We made about three miles before anything happened. Then the runner struck a large rock in the road and broke. It happened that we were near a farmhouse and the farmer generously offered us his sled which was much like the one we had broken. We took the sled and continued on our way. We hadn't gone far when we encountered deeper and deeper drifts. The horses tried to lunge through, but on one exceptionally hard pull the doubletree broke. Again we asked help of a farmer and again we got it. He brought us another doubletree, coming down to our crippled rig with a lantern.

We were ready to go on but the farmer shook his head. "You'll never get through there without somebody to show you the way. I'll go ahead with the lantern and the horses can follow me."

I tried to argue that we would make it all right, for I knew it would be almost criminal to let any man fight his way on foot through that storm. But he insisted.

For two long miles he plodded along ahead of us, lantern swinging to show the way. Leaning into the bitter wind, he pressed on, sometimes knee deep but often hip deep in the drifting snow until at last we came to a turn in the road.

He stopped. "There, now you'll make it. Just keep on down this road." Then he gave us the minutest details to avoid the worse drifts and find the best track.

Words seemed such puny things in the fury of that storm to show our gratitude. I took his hand. I hope he knew how I felt. I believe he did for he clapped me on the back, "Oh, that's right, Doc, I'd do that for a friend any time!"

We followed his directions and got to the farmhouse about eleven o'clock. The physician who had had charge of the case was there waiting when we arrived. With him to give the anaesthetic, I succeeded in reducing the fracture and placed wires about the teeth on either side of it to hold the bones together. (The boy came out of it better than we had dared hope. We got a good union without any deformity.)

It had taken us six hours to drive the seven miles out; so when we started home I cheered my companion by suggesting that with the wind to our backs we could surely make the return trip in much better time. But we were hardly outdoors when we realized that the wind had swung completely around so that we had to face it going home, too!

We had gone about two miles when I yelled to my man who was riding in the back seat. Getting no answer, I yelled again, thinking that perhaps the first time my voice had been entirely muffled by the storm. Again there was no answer. So I turned around. The sleigh was empty!

To say the least, I was bewildered! Out there all alone in the storm it was a bit peculiar to have had my companion simply disappear.

Then I recalled that we had almost tipped over in a deep drift a while back, and I figured that probably my man had been dumped out. The snow was too deep for me to turn around; yet I couldn't go on without him. So I just sat there in the howling blizzard and waited for something to happen. In about fifteen minutes it did. Out of that storm lurched my man, out of breath and snorting mad! I asked him why he hadn't "hollered" to me when he fell out.

"Holler! My lord, I hollered my head off. But by the time I got myself out of the snowbank so I could yell, you were so far away and the wind was blowing so loud that I couldn't make you hear. So I got up and walked. And here I am!"

He climbed into the sleigh, but this time in the front seat with me.

And, strange as it may seem, we got all the way home without another thing happening!

  Version: World Wide Web Edition Copyright 1995 by Richard Rathe
  Created: October 1, 1995   Modified: July 5, 1999

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