Daphne Dumorier Fullscreen Restaurant Jamaica (1936)


In her fancy she could hear the whisper of a thousand voices and the tramping of a thousand feet, and she could see the stones turning to men beside her.

Their faces were inhuman, older than time, carved and rugged like the granite; and they spoke in a tongue she could not understand, and their hands and feet were curved like the claws of a bird.

They turned their stone eyes upon her and looked through her and beyond, heeding her not, and she knew she was like a leaf in the wind, tossed hither and thither to no ultimate purpose, while they lived and endured, monsters of antiquity.

They came towards her, shoulder to shoulder, neither seeing nor hearing her, but moving like blind things to her destruction; and she cried suddenly and started to her feet, every nerve in her body throbbing and alive.

The wind dropped and was no more than a breath upon her hair; the slabs of granite stood beyond her, dark and immobile, as they had done before, and Francis Davey watched her, his chin upon his hands.

"You fell asleep," he said; and she told him no, doubting her own statement, her mind still grappling with the dream that was no dream.

"You are tired, yet you persist in watching for the dawn," he said. "It is barely midnight now, and there are long hours to wait.

Give way to nature, Mary Yellan, and relax.

Do you think I want to harm you?"

"I think nothing, but I cannot sleep."

"You are chilled, crouched there in your cloak with a stone behind your head.

I am little better myself, but there is no draught here from a crevice in the rock.

We would do well if we gave our warmth to one another."

"No, I am not cold."

"I make the suggestion because I understand something of the night," he said; "the coldest hour comes before the dawn.

You are unwise to sit alone.

Come and lean against me, back to back, and sleep then if you will.

I have neither the mind nor the desire to touch you."

She shook her head in reply and pressed her hands together beneath her cloak.

She could not see his face, for he sat in shadow, with his profile turned to her, but she knew that he was smiling in the darkness and mocked her for her fear.

She was cold, as he had said, and her body craved for warmth, but she would not go to him for protection.

Her hands were numb now, and her feet had lost all feeling, and it was as though the granite had become part of her and held her close.

Her brain kept falling on and off into a dream, and he walked into it, a giant, fantastic figure with white hair and eyes, who touched her throat and whispered in her ear.

She came to a new world, peopled with his kind, who barred her progress with outstretched arms; and then she would wake again, stung to reality by the chill wind on her face, and nothing had changed, neither the darkness nor the mist, nor the night itself, and only sixty seconds gone in time.

Sometimes she walked with him in Spain, and he picked her monstrous flowers with purple heads, smiling on her the while; and when she would have thrown them from her they clung about her skirt like tendrils, creeping to her neck, fastening upon her with poisonous, deadly grip.

Or she would ride beside him in a coach, squat and black like a beetle, and the walls closed in upon them both, squeezing them together, pressing the life and breath from their bodies until they were flat, and broken, and destroyed, and lay against one another, poised into eternity, like two slabs of granite.

She woke from this last dream to certainty, feeling his hand upon her mouth, and this time it was no hallucination of her wandering mind, but grim reality.

She would have struggled with him, but he held her fast, speaking harshly in her ear and bidding her be still.

He forced her hands behind her back and bound them, neither hastily nor brutally, but with cool and calm deliberation, using his own belt.

The strapping was efficient but not painful, and he ran his finger under the belt to satisfy himself that it would not chafe her skin.

She watched him helplessly, feeling his eyes with her own, as though by doing so she might anticipate a message from his brain.

Then he took a handkerchief from the pocket of his coat and folded it and placed it in her mouth, knotting it behind her head, so that speech or cry was now impossible, and she must lie there, waiting for the next move in the game.

When he had done this he helped her to her feet, for her legs were free and she could walk, and he led her a little way beyond the granite boulders to the slope of the hill.

"I have to do this, Mary, for both our sakes," he said. "When we set forth last night upon this expedition I reckoned without the mist.

If I lose now, it will be because of it.

Listen to this, and you will understand why I have bound you, and why your silence may save us yet."

He stood on the edge of the hill, holding her arm, and pointing downwards to the white mist below.

"Listen," he said again. "Your ears may be sharper than mine."

She knew now she must have slept longer than she thought, for the darkness had broken above their heads and morning had come.

The clouds were low, and straggled across the sky as though interwoven with the mist, while to the east a faint glow heralded the pale, reluctant sun.

The fog was with them still and hit the moors below like a white blanket.

She followed the direction of his hand and could see nothing but mist and the soaking stems of heather.

Then she listened, as he had bidden her, and far away, from beneath the mist, there came a sound between a cry and a call, like a summons in the air.

It was too faint at first to distinguish, and the tone was strangely pitched, unlike a human voice, unlike the shouting of men. It came nearer, rending the air with some excitement, and Francis Davey turned to Mary, the fog still white on his lashes and his hair.

"Do you know what it is?" he said.

She stared back at him and shook her head, nor could she have told him had speech been possible.

She had never heard the sound before.

He smiled, then, a slow grim smile that cut into his face like a wound.

"I heard once, and I had forgotten it, that the squire of North Hill keeps bloodhounds in his kennels.

It is a pity for both of us, Mary, that I did not remember."