As soon as I said it, I felt the atmosphere change. It had been warm and cosy in the little Bothy, and the mood convivial but when I spoke those words it was as if a mysterious stranger had kicked open the wooden door and let in the freezing night.
‘I hear this place burnt down a few years ago. How could some fool burn down a Bothy?’ It was a simple question, asked more to pass the time than from any real curiosity. The woman opposite me was feathering wood for the fire, the blade of her knife glinted in the candle light. She froze when I asked the question. She was tall and dark, her features even an sharp. I remember thinking she had the dark haired beauty Irish women sometimes had. Her companion was older than her thirty years or so, thin with a grizzled beard.
He caught my eye and shook his head. ‘I don't think there's any need to ask about things like that.’ For a few moments we all sat in silence staring into the flames of the fire. Then the woman began carving again and we all watched how the steel blade cut deep into the wood.