• Vol. 01
  • Chapter 05
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Collecting the last papers

They were mainly game bird corpses arrayed all around the ground floor of the barn; an endless necklace for some Nordic God. Marion - whose decaying family papers I had come to rescue from the attic space above - was sitting leaning against her stick in Lady C's kitchen. As the sun fell into the Autumn fields I negotiated the stairs and carried box after box through the avian morgue, holding my breath. Letters, diaries, school exercise books from Eastbourne in 1908 and carefully worked accounts for the house in South Wales. Who owns the hierarchy of birds? I asked myself this question over and over all the way back to Liverpool. Remembered my own grandmother who worked as a farm labourer. She would have picked their soft bodies from the ground, cold in their feathers, uncookable Starling and all, and avoided his Lordship's eye.