Daphne Dumorier Fullscreen Restaurant Jamaica (1936)


As they passed the silent church, shadowed and enclosed, and left it behind them, the vicar flourished his black shovel hat and bared his head.

"You should have heard me preach," he said softly.

"They sat there in the stalls like sheep, even as I drew them, with their mouths agape and their souls asleep.

The church was a roof above their heads, with four walls of stone, and because it had been blessed at the beginning by human hands they thought it holy.

They do not know that beneath the foundation stone lie the bones of their pagan ancestors, and the old granite altars where sacrifice was held long before Christ died upon His cross.

I have stood in the church at midnight, Mary, and listened to the silence; there is a murmur in the air and a whisper of unrest that is bred deep in the soil and has no knowledge of the church and Altarnun."

His words found echo in her mind and carried her away, back to the dark passage at Jamaica Inn.

She remembered how she had stood there with her uncle dead upon the ground, and there was a sense of horror and fear about the walls that was born of an old cause.

His death was nothing, was only a repetition of what had been before, long ago in time, when the hill where Jamaica stood today was bare but for heather and stone.

She remembered how she had shivered, as though touched by a cold, inhuman hand; and she shivered now, looking at Francis Davey with his white hair and eyes: eyes that had looked upon the past.

They came to the fringe of moor and the rough track leading to the ford, and then beyond this and across the stream to the great black heart of the moor, where there were no tracks and no paths, but only the coarse tufted grass and the dead heather.

Ever and again the horses stumbled on, the stones, or sank in the soft ground bordering the marshes, but Francis Davey found his way like a hawk in the air, hovering an instant and brooding upon the grass beneath him, then swerving again and plunging to the hard ground.

The tors rose up around them and hid the world behind, and the two horses were lost between the tumbling hills.

Side by side they picked their path through the dead bracken with short, uncanny stride.

Mary's hopes began to falter, and she looked over her shoulder at the black hills that dwarfed her.

The miles stretched between her and Warleggan, and already North Hill belonged to another world.

There was an old magic in these moors that made them inaccessible, spacing them to eternity.

Francis Davey knew their secret and cut through the darkness like a blind man in his home.

"Where are we bound?" she said at length, and he turned to her, smiling beneath his shovel hat, and pointed to the north.

"The time will come when officers of the law will walk the coasts of Cornwall," he said. "I told you that on our last journey, when you rode with me from Launceston.

But tonight and tomorrow we shall meet no such interference; only the gulls and the wild birds haunt the cliffs from Boscastle to Hartland.

The Atlantic has been my friend before; savage perhaps and more ruthless than I intended, but my friend nevertheless.

You have heard of ships, Mary Yellan, I believe, though of late you would not speak of them; and a ship it will be that shall carry us from Cornwall."

"So we are to leave England, are we, Mr. Davey?"

"What else would you suggest?

After today the vicar of Altarnun must cast himself adrift from Holy Church and become a fugitive again.

You shall see Spain, Mary, and Africa, and learn something of the sun; you shall feel desert sand under your feet, if you will.

I care little where we go; you shall make the choice.

Why do you smile and shake your head?"

"I smile because everything you say is fantastic, Mr. Davey, and impossible.

You know as well as I do that I shall run from you at the first chance, and at the first village perhaps.

I came with you tonight because you would have killed me otherwise, but in daylight, within sight and sound of men and women, you will be as powerless as I am now."

"As you will, Mary Yellan.

I am prepared for the risk.

You forget, in your happy confidence, that the north coast of Cornwall bears no relation to the south.

You come from Helford, you told me, where the pleasant lanes wind by the side of the river, and where your villages touch one another string upon string, and there are cottages upon the road.

This north coast is hardly so hospitable, as you will find.

It is as lonely and untravelled as these moors themselves, and never a man's face shall you look upon but mine until we come to the haven that I have in mind."

"Let me grant you that, then," said Mary, with a bluster born of fear; "let me grant even that the sea is reached, and we upon your waiting ship, with the coast behind us.

Name any country as you please, Africa or Spain, and do you think that I should follow you there and not expose you, a murderer of men?"

"You will have forgotten it by then, Mary Yellan."

"Forgotten that you killed my mother's sister?"

"Yes, and more besides.

Forgotten the moors, and Jamaica Inn, and your own little blundering feet that stumbled across my path.

Forgotten your tears on the highroad from Launceston, and the young man who caused them."

"You are pleased to be personal, Mr. Davey."

"I am pleased to have touched you on the raw.

Oh, don't bite your lip and frown.

I can guess your thoughts.

I told you before, I have heard confessions in my day, and I know the dreams of women better than you do yourself.