The rain had fallen for ten days straight. It was so bad that the river on the outskirts of town was now overflowing its banks.
The water was slowly but steadily creeping closer and closer to the Tanners' cabin. Vin was concerned not only for the weather, but also for his son.
Ezra, Matt and Lizzie all had terrible nightmares over the last few days. It had been a rain-swollen river that had brought and bound them and their friends tightly together.
That didn't mean that any of them liked the rain and didn't fear the flood.
Suddenly, over the relentless sound of the rain, came the rattle of a wagon. Vin looked out – and gaped at the sight. He stepped out onto the porch and stared.
His friends had arrived. With them were Kojay and Chanu. Beside them were Junior and Rafe – and Brian was driving his long wagon, which was now covered.
"What...." Vin gasped.
Chris dismounted. "Getting too dangerous to live out here, Vin. The flood's gonna take the cabin."
"I know," Vin said softly. "Didn't think there was anything we could do."
"Well, there is," Chris said. "We load you four – and everything else – onto the wagon and get you to higher ground."
"And when the flood ends?" Kojay said from his horse. "We shall help you rebuild."
Vin nodded and clasped forearms with Chris, then with Kojay after the tall Indian dismounted. He turned to call to Ezra, Matt and Lizzie.
He found himself smiling proudly as he watched Chanu and Junior meet Matt and Lizzie at the door, making a sort of "bag brigade" to move the saddlebags and boxes and armfuls of things out to Rafe, who loaded them into the wagon with JD's help.
Vin looked into the window and found his smile growing to see Ezra and Brian packing and handing things to Matt and Lizzie. "I think the kids have got it under control."
Chris chuckled. "Let's go help 'em out."
Buck shook his head and muttered, "Those seven kids've got more sense than the lot of us put together. Sometimes."
"No argument there," Vin said, and they went in to help the single cabin evacuation.
Ezra sighed as he brought Chaucer under control again and stopped him beside Matt's London.
Matt looked over. "Chaucer skittish?"
Ezra sighed. "He's picking up on my emotions."
Lizzie reached over and touched his arm. "You didn't have to watch this."
"I did," Ezra said firmly. "I had to say goodbye."
"And we're here to support you," Brian said as he rode up, flanking Lizzie. Junior rode up beside him.
Rafe rode up on Matt's other side, and Chanu's large stallion Maahe flanked them.
In a silent, single line, the seven teens stood and watched from the cliff.
Down below, the flood completed its work. The empty log shell that had once been the Tanners' cabin slowly disintegrated under the relentless onslaught of water. The raging river carried it away, piece by piece.
Matt and Lizzie reached over and lay their hands onto Ezra as tears of grief silently ran down the boy's cheeks as his home of five years vanished.
"At least," he said at last. "At least this time everybody's safe."
And the rest of them completely agreed.