Mallard Heir
Chapter 04

Copyright© 2016 by Ernest Bywater


Jenny and Mort are cleaning up after their breakfast when Eric and Frank arrive. Mort takes them to help him unload the gear from the truck. They set up the cleaning gear and the collapsible table with the direct current power saw Mort bought yesterday.

Mort starts the generator and is soon busy cutting the boards in the workshop to the sizes he wants for the new shutters. While he does that Jenny has the boys moving the furniture up from the basement so the furniture can be cleaned. By the time all of the furniture is carried upstairs to put it on the porch Mort has all of the shutters cut and he’s resetting the table to work with the router he has. For this task the table is lowered in the frame so the router can work on the wood from above.

Frank walks over to see what Mort is doing and he asks, “Mort, have you had much experience working with a router?”

Turning to him Mort replies, “No, why?”

“I noticed you want a fancy pattern on the boards and it’ll take a lot of work to do it with the router and bits you have. If you want to leave that until tomorrow I can bring my tools up to do it for you real fast.”

Eric hears what they’re talking about and he says, “He fancies himself as a good carpenter. But he does make good furniture with all the fancy tools he’s spent all of his money on.”

Mort looks at both for a moment before he says, “Right. Help me put this lot away and we’ll get set up to do the cleaning after we have lunch.”

After lunch Frank is sent off to get his gear while Mort and Eric work on cleaning the smaller furniture items from the basement. Jenny dries and polishes them then they’re put in the lounge room.

Frank is soon back with his tools and he’s setting up to work on the shutters to carve the pattern Mort wants in them. The finished effect is to look like a shutter with louvres but it’s really solid wood with grooves so it’s stronger. Frank has all the shutters done before the end of the day.

Mort looks at the finished shutters and smiles at the way Frank has put in the cutaways for the brass hinges used with the existing shutters to make them a perfect fit and real tight. Frank has done a very good job on them. Mort pays him extra for the fancy work by claiming the extra pay is for using his tools. Mort thinks it was wise of Frank to buy battery powered tools for doing his fancy woodwork as then he’s not dependent on the local power while working on a job.

All of the furniture is now clean and smart looking, even the kitchen table with the chairs they’ve been using are clean and look real nice.

While Jenny cooks dinner Mort sends an email to Sissy asking her to find and hire someone with a ground penetrating radar unit they can use to check the rock under the house area. He wants to know where the water in the two hand pumps is coming from because he can’t see it seeping through the rock. He also asks if she knows when the man to work on the house exterior will be available to clean and restore the wood because he’s now thinking of having him do the interior walls if he can get the electrical work done by then. Mort also searches for some low power lighting and he finds the website of a company who make an LED lamp that looks like the old coal oil lamps Henry used, so Mort works out how many of the lamps he needs for all the buildings then he places a large order for the number he needs to do the job properly.

After dinner there’s more talk and discussion about the house as well as what they’ll do after the wedding. Their finds mean they don’t have to work but both of them do want to work, but they aren’t sure about what work to do yet. Neither of them knows anything about farming and they don’t want to do that. Anyway, they can’t because Mort has already promised to let those using his farmland to continue farming it as share-croppers to increase their income as per their existing agreements. However, the two have got a lot of time to look at things and decide what they’ll do in the future. Mort knows he can work at writing programs and selling them so he’s not worried at all.


Jenny and Mort are up for an early breakfast. They’re busy removing the old shutters and windows when the boys turn up. The old windows were just four small glass panes in a box frame hinged to the window frame. Like the shutters the windows were either open or shut, but had to be opened and swung to the side to open or close the shutters. The old frames need to have a section routed out to allow the new units on order to be secured to them. The new ones are sash style windows with insect screens and the whole unit fits inside the existing swinging window frames. Thus they can swing aside to open and close the shutters but can be opened part way while still keeping the insects out.

Mort shows Frank the plans for the work to be done on the windows to install the new ones he’s ordered and leaves him to work on the wood frames. The other three get busy on the rest of the window work. Eric is given the job of removing the old brass fittings for Jenny to make them look like new with the special cleaner Mort bought. Mort is hard at work removing the shutters and windows. Once they’re all out he starts fitting the new shutters with the brass fittings Jenny finished cleaning.

After lunch Mort uses a scrubbing brush to clean all of the window frames before he and Eric get busy installing the new shutters. They start on the upstairs fittings because Mort needs to hold Eric while he attaches the outside catches to the side of the house. Then they take turns to hold shutters while the other screws the hinges into place.

At the end of the day the new shutters are on all of the windows and they’re tight fits. The window units are ready for the new components and the brass fittings are all cleaned to look like new. The boys are paid for the day and everything is packed up.

After an early dinner Jenny helps Mort to go through the house to put all the windows back in. She holds the swinging frames while he screws the hinges to them and then to the main window frames. When the new windows arrive they’ll just slide in and be screwed into place.

They clean up and go to bed very tired from a good day’s work.

The Rest of the Week

After breakfast Denny has his supplier’s delivery truck drop his load of insulation, reels of cable, pipes, and fittings to Mallard House since it’s all for Mort. Jenny goes into town while Mort and the boys start work upstairs carefully removing the boards of the interior walls of the master bedroom so they can see how the walls are constructed.

Mort studies the house plans, both the current one and the intended one, and he thinks about how to set out the wiring. He discusses it with the boys who have some good suggestions for him. The lights Mort has on order are wall mount units with a few chandeliers for the big rooms. Thus the wires for the lights will be strung around the room above the height of the doors and they’ll put the power outlets down near the floor so they won’t be seen, except in the kitchen. The junction box for each floor will be on the wall near the chimney but not against it: the upstairs one in the hall, with the downstairs one in the kitchen, and the one in the basement on that wall too. Mort plans to have the power line feed into the basement so the main fuse box will be there as well.

Frank gets the tools to drill the minimal size holes in the uprights to run the plastic pipe for the electrical wiring in while Eric pulls out the length of the cabling needed and Mort gets the insulation ready to install. Due to the location of the chimney and fireplace all of the pipes run above the door before the power and network cables drop down to just above the floor, then they all run around the room to almost back to the fireplace. It’s slow work while they thread the pipe through the wall studs, feed the wire through the pipe to a fitting box, and a loop of cable in the fitting box. Soon after they start they find it’s best to put the insulation in place before the plastic pipe goes in. The fun starts when they nail the wall boards back into place. Every board with a fitting to be attached to it has to have a hole drilled for the wire to stick through so they’ll know where the other part of the fittings go.

They break for lunch with just the first room done. They now know the job is a lot bigger than they thought it would be. While they eat the lunch Jenny made for them she’s busy on the phone calling people. A little later Ben turns up, looks at the plans, talks with Mort and Jenny about what they want, then he makes a couple of calls.

Thirty minutes later there’s a dozen people at work carefully taking the boards off all of the upstairs interior walls and the walls for the north half of the house downstairs. Ben is directing the activities while Mort wonders how he lost control of it. Jenny moves up beside Mort and says, “Just relax and let Ben do this. He’s had the training and experience to do this well.” Mort looks at her then nods his agreement. He can tell Ben knows what he’s doing, it’s just he wanted to do it but he now accepts it’s too big for just him to do it by himself if he wants it done soon.

By the time they finish work for the day all of the walls are opened up except the dining room, parlour, most of the kitchen, and the room they already did. The frames for the moved walls are in their new locations and the frames for the couple of new walls are in place.

After dinner Jenny and Mort have a long talk about their day and their future plans. One thing they both agree on is they don’t want to go away for their honeymoon. They both want to stay right here while they make their house into their home.


This morning the work crew is a little smaller with people putting in the insulation, plastic conduit pipes, and electrical wiring. Ben likes the way Mort set all of the power points right up against a wall stud so the bracket can be affixed to it, so he continues that with the rest of the work.

By the end of the day the top floor is back together except for the wet areas of the toilets, bathroom, and the en-suite. Mort can’t believe what he saw as months of work is done in just two days!


The full work crew is back at work today and Ben has a large load of boards in his truck. After getting the crew started Ben tells Mort, “I’d rather you stayed out of the house today, please, Mort.” When he gets a frown in reply he adds, “I know what I’m doing but it won’t look that way until I get this part finished. So I don’t want you worrying about how things look before they’re done.” Mort sighs as he nods agreement.

Mort says, “I’ll spend the day in the basement going through the boxes and trunks we have down there. Please line the entry with book cases to store all of the books we have.” Ben promises to do so for Mort.

At the end of the day Ben shows Mort what they’ve done. The attic is now fully insulated and lined with boards. Along the wall over the wet areas are eight large water tanks with pipes leading to them and away from them into the floor. Ben points at them while saying, “Each bathroom area has its own hot water tank, but they won’t heat water until you have the electricity sorted out. The heating elements are low voltage ones to match the same as the lights. I figure you got them to match the wind turbines you’re getting. There’s a cold water tank for each bathroom and the laundry.” Mort sighs because he’d forgotten about a laundry. “The big grey tank is for grey water to work the toilets. The bath water will go to an outside holding tank then be pumped back to this tank. It’s all set to drain into the leach field. There’s a little more work to do outside and then it’ll be finished.” Mort smiles as they go downstairs.

All the rooms look nice, especially the wet areas with the toilets, basins, and baths in place. The bathrooms all have new highly polished boards for their walls, everything else has the original woodwork. Each of the bathrooms have one of the original windows in them but the toilets all have a new louvre ventilation hole with an insect screen. Ben says, “We’ve hidden ventilation holes for the bathrooms and all the wet areas also have some electrical heating you can leave on all the time. The vents are as protected as we can make them so the rooms shouldn’t get too cold from the wind, but they will lose some heat all of the time.”

The north end of the kitchen now looks like the cupboards Mort had planned to put there, but Ben opens the doors up to show the one nearest the east wall has a sink in it plus spaces for a washing machine and dryer. Ben says, “This is your laundry, and beside it is where the freezer and fridge will go. We still have to finish the kitchen as well as doing the stairs, entry, parlour, dining room, and basement. I was stunned to be told about the basement. Oh, before I forget, when you get them priced I want to buy those two coach guns.” Mort looks at Ben, “Jenny showed me the guns because I had to move them to do some work. They’re in the parlour at the moment.”

Mort is about to ask how much all this is costing, and then decides it doesn’t matter because he recently had a major windfall. Ben grins and says, “Jenny organised for me to bill Sissy for each day’s supplies and work. She pays fast so I’m not out of pocket. The whole community is benefiting from the work here. We all need the money. You bringing some money in with you and wanting the locals to do all the work is going a long way to killing off many of the old family problems.”

“That’s good, Ben. I don’t know what the old issues were and I don’t care about them. But I do believe in being a good neighbour. That’s why I buy what I can from Denny, even though I know I can get better prices from other stores. However, he’s not always happy to order things in so I do have to go outside for them.”

“I know that, Mort. But I think he may be changing his policy now.”

After they all leave Mort says to Jenny, “I did want to fix the place up myself, but you were right to call in Ben and the work crew. They’ve done a better job than I could, and they thought of a few things I didn’t think of. Thank you.”

She smiles at his praise and replies, “I was worried you were upset with me for taking over your project.” Their talk moves to other things before they get to sleep after the usual evening activities.


The crew arrives while Jenny and Mort are still eating breakfast. After Jenny says what’s going upstairs and into which rooms some get busy moving a lot of the furniture upstairs while the rest get busy outside. Mort goes back to checking what’s in the trunks they have.

At the end of the day Mort knows what he has stored downstairs and the outside work is done. While he checks the finished work with Mort Ben says, “Right, we now have the pipes from the toilets, basins, and baths going to the privy. The toilets and laundry go to the leach field while the baths go to a large storage tank under the privy. In it are the tanks and pumps to filter the water and pump it back to the house.”

Mort asks, “Are they low voltage pumps? Did you put in new power lines for them?”

“Better than that, Mort. They’re set to work with your other gear, but they also work off the solar cells we mounted on the roof of the privy so you can use them now. However, I’d be careful with the water usage until you get the water supply sorted out.” Mort turns to him and he adds, “I know the water is pumped to the kitchen by hand but I can’t see where it’s coming from so I couldn’t add a new line and pump to the water source. There’s a temporary set up where you can hand pump water up into the tanks in the attic and the rest of the system will look after itself from there. But you do need to find the source of the water and to add a proper pump line to the tanks from the water supply.”

“Jenny and I will appreciate not having to walk outside for the toilet so we’re miles ahead of last week. Ben, I like how you’ve used the no longer needed privy to be the shed to protect the gear working the new system. It means the place looks just like it always looked like before. Sissy is looking for a guy with the gear to see what’s under the ground here so I can find where the water is coming from and going to. That’s part of what the drilling was for the other day. I was hoping to find the underground water source to tap into it.”

“You’ve done a lot of work to restore this place, Mort. Will you let the people continue to farm the attached land?” Mort nods yes. “Good. The extra crops from your land is all that keeps some people in business and financially secure. I saw how bad the furniture looked when I first came here, but it sure looks great now. You could sell it for a fortune.”

“Not if I want to live! Jenny put a lot of work into polishing all of the furniture when I got the dirt and grime off. She wants to use it, so it all stays.” Ben laughs while agreeing with his sentiment.

In the evening Mort warns Jenny, “Don’t go too far in setting up the rooms yet. There’s a man hired to rejuvenate and seal all the wood of the exterior and interior. So the furniture will need to be moved when he arrives to do that.” She smiles as she nods to show she heard him.


After they both wash and dress in clean clothes Jenny and Mort go to Kevin’s Kitchen to have breakfast with her family before going to church. On the drive to breakfast Mort is certain he’s permanently lost his new red pickup to Jenny as she loves driving it about. So he needs to make arrangements to fix up and use Henry’s old pickup truck or to buy himself a new pickup truck. He thinks about the points for and against both transport options.

During the post church drive to a new picnic spot most of the talk is about the preparations for next week’s wedding, and Mort realises a lot of it must have been done by Jenny while he was working on other things. He also wonders why he hasn’t heard back from Laura about her and Mike coming to watch him get married, that’s so unlike her. Then he thinks, I bet Laura and Jenny have spoken and are planning to surprise me with her turning up unannounced. I best not disturb their plans.

Their lunch is early and fast today. Then they’re off to a bigger town to buy a wedding suit for Mort, some mattresses for all of their beds, and a whole pile of every sort of linen for the house. It’s a good thing the truck has the extended body with the longer bed because they need it to store and carry all of the gear Jenny buys for the house. However, the mattresses will be delivered by a truck on Tuesday because they’re too big for the pickup to carry.

Driving through town they see a lot of cars and trucks parked at the hotel so both Mort and Jenny wonder what that’s about.

When they get home it takes them a long time to unload the truck to put everything away in the house. They’re late getting to bed but they do sleep soundly when they get to bed.


Mort is thinking about what to do today when a long parade of cars and trucks drives up to park in front of the house. The first out of a car is a tall blond man who says, “I hope this is Mallard House and you’re Mort! I’m Sven Erickson.” Mort grins as the look and the name match, but his Maine accent just doesn’t fit. While they shake hands Sven adds, “I had a cancellation of a job so we’ve come to do your job now. It’s good you’re ahead of schedule because I like to keep my people working.”

“Why would anyone cancel a job booked with you? It’s so hard to be able to get these jobs scheduled and done, to start with!”

“I don’t think he wanted to cancel the work but when the idiot who owned the ship kept her out in rough seas too long he had no choice. I have to wait until they can raise her again. She’s sitting on the bottom in about a hundred feet of water. Now, please show me the work.”

“As you can see, this is an old house. I don’t know if it will come out as like new, but please do your best. Although the shutters were made last week the wood is very old so please do them as well. I want all of the buildings done, both inside and outside.” They walk into the house and Mort shows him the downstairs bathroom. “I had a few changes made last week and the wood in the bathrooms is all new and sealed. So, if you think it doesn’t need doing I’ll understand.”

Sven looks at the walls and says, “Whoever did this does good work. However, I think it’ll benefit from having a coat of our sealant put on over this to make it last longer. Can we move the furniture between rooms while we work on a room?”

“Yes. Just make sure it goes back to where it came from or Jenny will be after you with a shotgun.” Sven laughs while he nods to show he understands. He goes to start getting his work crew busy.

Mort follows him downstairs and the next man introduces himself as, “Barry Evans. I’m here to evaluate where to put the turbines. Is there an easier way to get up the ridge?”

While shaking his hand Mort replies, “There may be, but I don’t know of any. I’m new here and I’ve not had much time to look around.”

“OK. I’ll get my climbing gear out. I was warned I may need it.” He leaves to get to work climbing up to the ridge.

Mort walks over to where a man is standing beside an odd looking oversized lawn mower type device while checking something on it. The man looks up and says, “Larry Mason. I’m here to check what’s under the ground for you. Where do you want me to check?”

They walk inside and Mort points to the hand pump then takes him to the stables to point to the hand pump there. He says, “As far as I can tell we’re on a huge lump of rock, so I’ve no idea where the water for those pumps is coming from or how they found it when the house was built over two hundred years ago. I want to tap into it with a more modern pump so I need to find it to do so.”

“I’ve got a good map of the area in my car, let me get it to see what they show about the water around here.” A few minutes later they’re studying a map on the kitchen table which is now sitting in the yard. Some of Sven’s people have a steam cleaner type machine at work in the kitchen and have moved everything out of it while they work.

Mort looks at the map and points to where Mallard House is. Larry says, “Just south of here is a creek. The way it starts in the forest makes it look like it just surfaces there. It looks close so let’s go see.” The two men walk into the forest for about a hundred feet. Soon after they enter the forest it starts to slope down a little and they find a stream coming out of the ground at a level about twenty feet below that of the house.

Larry says, “Now to trace this back to your place.” They make a note of roughly where it is and return to the cleared land around the house. Larry gets his out Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), turns it on, waits a moment, and walks along the clearing near to where the stream is. In a moment something shows on his screen. He starts walking a pattern on a line back to the stables. From there he goes back to the forest edge on a wider pattern before taking a line from the stables to the house. Then he widens the pattern to cover the whole of the clearing south of the house. He works across the front of the house after asking people to move their vehicles for him while he covers the whole of the front before doing the space north to the garden. He works his way along the area between the house and the ridge while working all the way back to the stables.

The search pattern Larry is working will take a while so Mort turns to see what Sven’s people are doing. He’s shocked to see two men on the roof of the house with some sort of steam cleaners. They know what they’re doing up there so he leaves them to it. He does like the way the wood they’ve cleaned looks so much nicer than what isn’t cleaned.

It’s almost lunchtime when Larry returns to talk to a very bored Mort. There’s not much Mort can do because all of the workers are experts at their work and they only need him to keep out of their way. He now thinks he should’ve gone into town with Jenny.

Larry has a map on his computer from the data collected by his GPR unit. He shows it to Mort as he says, “Tell me what you know!”

Mort points out the salient points while saying, “Leach field under the garden. Drain pipe from the old privy. New grey water collection tank under the privy. Pipes between the house and privy to carry the water and sewerage. That’s all I know about.” All this is north of the house but there’s also some things to the east and something south of the house.

“This is a large slab of granite and it goes deep into the ridge. I can’t tell how deep with this gear, but I’d say very deep. There’s nothing to the west except rock and dirt. The slab of rock is about two hundred feet deep for most of the clearing. To the south it thins out a lot and I think the stream is flowing out from under its lip. There’s a fracture the water is flowing through from the house, by the stables, and down the hill. The real oddity is this here.” He points to a part at the edge of the house. “To be sure I’d need to get at the ground under the house, but this looks to be the edge of a chamber under the house. And this here is a tunnel from the chamber into the ridge while this is a tunnel from under the house into the ridge. They’re cut through the rock so it took a lot of work to do it. There’s also a huge amount of gravel in the leach field area. So I think that’s where the rock cuttings went.”

Mort studies the map of the ground under him. He looks at Larry and says, “Thanks for this. Do you have a device that will read through a wall?” Larry nods yes. “Good. I think we need to see what you can tell me about the east wall of the basement.” Larry grins, stands, pushes his machine back to his panel van and starts to fold it up.

Hearing another car pull up Mort turns to see who it is. Jenny gets out of the pickup and says, “Get the hampers from the back, please, Mort. I’ve got everyone’s lunch.” A lot of ears and heads pop up on hearing the word ‘lunch,’ so he grins. He has several willing helpers to carry the three big hampers from the back of the pickup to the tables and chairs in the back yard. All work stops while they all have lunch. Jenny has a great mix of foods so everyone finds something to their liking, she also has a large range of drinks for them to chose from.

After they finish eating Mort helps Jenny pack up the hampers and put them into the truck. Larry is ready with a large briefcase device when Mort turns to him.

Down in the basement Larry places the device against the cupboards beside the fireplace and moves it along. Mort moves things out of the way while Larry checks what’s behind the wood back of the cupboards. At that point Mort wonders why they’re cupboards and not just shelves built into the rock. An hour later Larry has a scan of the whole wall. He examines the picture he has and points to an area below where the pump in the kitchen is as he says, “There’s a cavity behind here but I think it’s filled with water, while the wall looks like it’s been bricked up with large rock blocks and mortar.” Mort slowly nods as he wonders why. Pointing to the area under the stairs Larry adds, “There’s a doorway behind the wood back. Also, I think most of these cupboards will lift out of there. There’s nothing to show them being attached to the wall.”

Mort grins as he asks, “Care to test the theory?” Larry puts his unit down well away from the wall and the two of them tip one of the empty cupboards forward. They soon have it leaning out then they move it away from the wall. Once they get it out they can see the cupboard sat on a narrow plank to tip it backwards and the others are the same way. In a few minutes all of the cupboards are away from the wall, except the one built into the area under the stairs. They can now see the bricked area.

Larry runs his device over the bricked area again and says, “There’s a water filled cavity behind there. I’m sure of it. Also, it looks like the water is flowing out to the south. The part directly in line with the north end is much deeper than the rest.”

Mort asks, “Larry, do you know much about geology?” He gets a nod yes in reply. “From what you know of this region is it possible for a person to be digging a tunnel from here through this ridge and then come across an underground stream deeper in the ridge?”

“It’s very possible. If it had a good flow it would likely to then flow down their tunnel. Do you think that’s what happened here?”

“Yes. I also think they may have used gunpowder to create the fault you mentioned in order to get the water to flow away. Once they got that happening they would’ve been able to brick this up and empty the swimming pool their basement had become.”

“All possible. But we’ll never know for sure.”

“True, Larry. But I now know there’s a large cavity of flowing water beyond that wall, so I can drill down into it to set up a pump for my water supply. I’ll also seal this wall and reinforce this section to make sure the water stays on the other side. Now let’s have a look at this doorway and tunnel.”

“You can take the cover off but don’t open the door until I get back with some breathers. We don’t want to be gassed by bad air, or worse.” Mort nods agreement and gets busy removing the side to the cupboard under the stairs. Larry is soon back with some small breather kits to use.

The wood door has two thick bolts on it. Mort uses a hammer to get the bolts to slide back as they’ve been left unused for a long time. He’s sure it’s been over a hundred and fifty years since anyone was here. He pulls the door open and the hinges squeak. He picks up the lantern to look further down the tunnel. Nothing to see, no cobwebs, no insects, no snakes. He steps in and Larry follows him.

After several steps Larry says, “Just a moment.” Mort turns to see Larry doing something with a hand-held device. “I’m having trouble to get a signal down here but I am getting a GPS read. If I take one every few yards we’ll know where this runs.” Mort nods agreement. The tunnel goes up in a gentle slope and they’re soon several feet higher. Larry says, “I bet this is rising to go over the stream they hit with the first tunnel.” Mort nods his agreement as he thinks about having Larry scan the tunnel floor later, but he then decides it’s not worth the trouble to do it.

About twenty minutes after starting they come to another door and they have the same issues opening it. On the other side is daylight and some large brambles bushes they can’t see much through. They shut the door, lock it, and return to the basement. While shutting the basement end door Mort says, “I don’t mind you talking about the stream but please say nothing about the tunnel. I don’t want people coming into my home this way.” Larry nods his agreement, picks up his device, takes his breather off Mort, and returns to his van. A few minutes later he has a bill for Mort, which he photographs and sends to Sissy for payment.

Mort watches Larry drive off before he goes looking for Jenny. He knows she’s here because the red pickup is back. He finds her watching the crew working in her kitchen. He moves up behind her, puts his arms around her, and asks, “First, did they say when you can have your kitchen back?”

She sighs and replies, “Tomorrow night. It’s cleaned with the special oil applied but they have to let it soak in overnight before they can seal it in the morning. But it’ll be safe to use late tomorrow afternoon. I’ve warned Dad we’ll all be in for dinner tonight.”

“Sorry about that. But when I organised this I wasn’t living here yet so I didn’t see an issue with it. On another issue, am I ever going to be allowed to drive my new pickup again.”

Jenny turns around, kisses him, and says, “No! It’s mine now!”

He slowly shakes his heard at her big smile as he asks, “Then what colour should I get for my own truck?”

“Deep blue will be nice for you.”

Mort pulls his phone out while walking to where his computer is on the kitchen table, he opens both up, finds something on the computer, and makes a call. Jenny half frowns while she follows him then smiles when she sees what he has open on the computer. The phone is answered and he says, “May I speak with Doreen, please?” A short wait, “How is the best truck sales girl in the state?” He gets a laugh and a reply. “I’m sure you remember selling me the red pickup! Well, I’ve got a major problem with it,” she interrupts and it takes a moment for him to calm her down. “As I was saying, I’ve a problem with it, it’s been stolen.” She can’t believe anyone would steal it. “Yes, it’s been stolen and the police can’t help me. I’m getting married on Sunday and my fiancée stole my truck from me.” Even Jenny can hear Doreen laughing as she’s so loud. When she calms down he adds, “So what colours do you have on hand of the same model tricked out the same?” A short wait, “The deep blue will be just right, thanks. What’s the best deal I can get for cash?” There’s a wait while she works the figures then she gives it to him. While waiting he opens his banking program ready to make a transfer using the account codes from last time. When he has a figure and a reference number he confirms the account numbers, enters the rest of the codes, and hits send. He gets a receipt number. Doreen checks her side and confirms receiving the payment. “Doreen, can you deliver it to us when you come to our wedding on Sunday? Have your brother follow you to take you home afterwards.” She gives a loud squeal on being invited, and she’ll bring him the truck. She’ll contact Sissy for the insurance info again. Mort gives Sissy a call to tell her about the deal and him paying for the truck. She has a big laugh about him losing his new truck so fast.

Doreen finishes writing the paperwork for the sale, passes orders on to the staff who need to do things to get the truck ready, and goes to talk to her father. She waves at her brother to follow her when going by his office. The two enter their father’s office and she says, “Dad, I just had a call from the guy who bought the red pickup,” both her listeners look worried. “It’s been stolen,” she pauses while they look stunned, “by his fiancée so he just bought a new truck. We’ve been invited to the wedding on Sunday morning so I can hand it over. He’s already paid.”

They both roar with laughter, getting the attention of everyone else in the place. When her father calms down he says, “We can do that for them. So he’s already a repeat customer.” That gets more laughter. The family is happy to have the two truck sales this month because business is slow at this time of the year.

The end of the work day is upon them and everyone is packing up. Mort waits until all the workers have left the house before he locks it up so Jenny can drive them down to Kevin’s Kitchen to eat. Both the hotel and the kitchen are jam packed with visitors tonight. Her family all have a good laugh about Mort accepting she now owns his nice new pickup, and they’re surprised he just ordered a brand new one by phone.

After dinner Mort has Jenny drive them down to talk to Ben. Mort says, “I found out where the water is coming from.” Ben looks up and smiles while he waits for Mort to continue. “There’s an underground stream that comes out of the ridge to a sort of pool below the kitchen hand pump then it follows a fault in the rock to flow out a little further east of the house. A man with Ground Penetrating Radar found it for me today. If we can drill down beside the existing pump we only have a few feet of dirt and a couple of feet of rock to be into it. Can you do that without ripping up or damaging the kitchen?”

“Yes, I’ll have to take the sink and bench apart first, then I can drill down and fit a two inch pipe tight into the hole.”

“Good! Can you talk to Sven about it because his crew is working in the kitchen and I want to get this in before they seal it all up.” Ben nods yes and walks over to his truck to go see Sven tonight.

Back at home Mort shows Jenny the basement wall and the tunnel door. Back upstairs they study the map to confirm the location of the GPS reading of the tunnel shows it’s all on their land. Then they discuss why his ancestors dug the tunnel. They can’t work out if it was to rob people or move escaping slaves or easy transit, so they go to bed and go to sleep.


Sven and Ben arrive together. While Ben sets up his gear near the back door Sven’s crew seal the kitchen except the basin and bench Ben will be taking apart. The polymer being used will be dry enough to let Ben work by mid-afternoon and he’ll be finished by dinnertime.

Barry tells Mort about where he’d like to install the turbines and he asks if Mort has a preferred place to have the cable come down. Mort grins and leads him into the house. Entering the basement from the entry so they can get in without touching the kitchen floor he asks, “Is it much harder to drill a hole big enough for a man to climb up in?”

“Not really,” is Barry’s reply, “We just need to use a bigger drill bit.”

Mort smiles and leads him into the tunnel while saying, “We found this tunnel yesterday. I’m not sure where it is but there’s a stream that crosses under this tunnel somewhere in the ridge so we have to take care with any work we do in it. However, I was thinking if the first thing you did was to drill a man-sized hole down to this tunnel and to put a ladder into the side of the rock it’ll make it easier for your people to get up to the ridge to do the work and if some repairs are needed at a later date.”

“Have you got the GPS co-ordinates for this?” Mort nods yes. “I’ll work out the best spot for us to come down into it. It also makes some of the other work a bit easier if we do it this way.” Mort frowns at him. “I prefer to put the electronics monitoring and battery building as close to the turbines as possible, but they also have to be accessible to the client if there’s an issue of any sort. If you don’t mind making a climb to do that if it’s needed we can put it on the ridge and set it up with the door locked from the inside so the access is from down here.” Mort just smiles.

When they get back outside Mort gets him the GPS figures for the tunnel. Barry says, “First will be to site the control building, clear the area to airlift a drill rig, then drill the hole. After that we need only lift in the materials and not all of the crew each day. It’ll be a huge saving to put the ladder in first.” Mort smiles and decides to leave it up to the experts, so he walks Barry back to his truck to let him go to do his planning.

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