Imps of Willow Dell by Wentworth M Johnson

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Imps of Willow Dell : Adventures In Time

Chapter 1

The jagged pieces of a puzzle make very little sense until at last they are all fitted together and only then the picture becomes evident. For instance, take old man Melenski. Although a recluse, an inventor and an entrepreneur, he lived most of his life in a log cabin on an open and dusty plain north of the tiny mining village of Davisville, Ontario, Canada and then he retired. His business, the Melen Mining Company, was winding down as the gold became uneconomical to retrieve. More and more people moved south where a better living could be made in the new and upcoming industries of that era.

Never a man for other people’s inventions, Melenski had no phone or even that new fandangle electricity stuff. The new house, his retirement home, was heated by wood or coal. The light came from candles or oil lamps with the occasional use of chemical battery power – his own invention. As a hedge against inflation and possible robbers he had buried a thousand 2-ounce bars of pure hallmarked gold under the floor of the new house. The gold came from the Melen mine and effectively cost him nothing.

On a hot summer’s night in the year 1909, old man Melenski walked from his new house to his private laboratory for what would be the last time ever. An hour later an inferno broke out in the new house. Flames and sparks leapt into the hot night sky, yet no one seemed to be around to sound the alarm. The volunteer fire service would take far too long to reach the blaze – that is if anyone ever noticed it. Horse-drawn vehicles along with hand-operated pumps eventually reached the site of the conflagration and proved totally ineffective against this well-established fire.

Time settled over the area like a hot and dusty blanket. Great snows in the winter and arid desert-like dryness shrivelled all but the shaded grass in the summer. The Melen mine became just another dangerous area with hazardous, unprotected and disused ventilation shafts dotting the countryside. The new house grew older and older as the weather and insects consumed what remained of any uncharred woodwork. The only surviving and undamaged tree was a giant horse chestnut which shaded the old laboratory. New conifers grew from seeds brought by the wind and birds, replacing the surrounding pine trees burned or disfigured by the fire.

The advent of the automobile brought people north again, once more making living there practical. The World Wars I and II came and went as the tiny village of Davisville grew into a farming town and expanded with the growth of the twentieth century. As the twenty-first century rolled round hardly anyone remembered Gustaf Melenski or the Melen Mining Company. No longer did anyone ask the question: “whatever happened to that old man?”