There is as much inevitability attached to happy events as there is to those more catastrophic and destructive in their nature and so it came to pass that on the ninth day of his imprisonment Mac found himself, Iseult and Gilly, as usual, watching as another lorry reversed into the courtyard and the Pilers did their job. With the lorry emptied it was now the Rippers turn to tear the pile apart and prepare it for the Burners.

With a show of gusto intended only for the many louts watching them like beady birds and a dizziness induced by the meagre rations, Mac threw himself at the pile and began to rip off covers and blank pages.

‘That’s right,’ shouted the closest lout. ‘Get stuck in, Granddad. There will be no breakfast until this lot is no more.’ The lout waved his whip in the air.

Mac was starving hungry and so he hurriedly grabbed a pile of papers and seeing nothing seemingly printed on the top he threw the pile onto the wheelbarrow without even a second look. A Burner pushed the wheelbarrow to the closest bonfire and tipped the paper onto the flames.

The words Mac an Bhaird’s Miscellanea burned briefly and brightly before the pile of paper joined all the ash.

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