I often wonder what I did during those ten hours.
I've thought and thought, but I'm damned if I can remember."
"That's very fortunate for you," said Mary. "Your brother is not so lucky.
When he gets drunk he finds his memory instead of losing it."
The pony slacked in his stride, and she flicked at him with the reins.
"If he's alone he can talk to himself," she continued; "it wouldn't have much effect on the walls of Jamaica Inn.
This time he was not alone, though. I happened to be there when he woke from his stupor. And he'd been dreaming."
"And when you heard one of his dreams, you shut yourself up in your bedroom for four days, is that it?" said Jem.
"That's as near as you'll ever get to it," she replied.
He leant over her suddenly and took the reins out of her hands.
"You don't look where you're going," he said. "I told you this pony never stumbled, but it doesn't mean you have to drive him into a block of granite the size of a cannon ball.
Give him to me."
She sank back in the jingle and allowed him to drive.
It was true, she had lacked concentration, and deserved his reproach.
The pony picked up his feet and broke into a trot.
"What are you going to do about it?" said Jem.
Mary shrugged her shoulders. "I haven't made up my mind," she said. "I have to consider Aunt Patience.
You don't expect me to tell, do you?"
I hold no brief for Joss."
"You're his brother, and that's enough for me.
There are many gaps in the story, and you fit remarkably well into some of them."
"Do you think I'd waste my time working for my brother?"
"There'd be little waste of time, from what I've seen.
There's profit enough and to spare in his business, and no payment in return for his goods.
Dead men tell no tales, Jem Merlyn."
"No, but dead ships do, when they run ashore in a fair wind.
It's lights a vessel looks for, Mary, when she's seeking harbour.
Have you ever seen a moth flutter to a candle and singe his wings?
A ship will do the same to a false light.
It may happen once, twice, three times perhaps; but the fourth time a dead ship stinks to heaven, and the whole country is up in arms and wants to know the reason why.
My brother has lost his own rudder by now, and he's heading for the shore himself."
"Will you keep him company?"
What have I to do with him?
He can run his own head into the noose.
I may have helped myself to baccy now and then, and I've run cargoes, but I'll tell you one thing, Mary Yellan, and you can believe it or not, as the mood takes you: I've never killed a man — yet."
He cracked the whip savagely over his pony's head, and the animal broke into a gallop.
"There's a ford ahead of us, where that hedge runs away to the east.
We cross the river and come out on the Launceston road half a mile on.
Then we've seven miles or more before we reach the town.
Are you getting tired?"
She shook her head.
"There's bread and cheese in the basket under the seat," he said, "and an apple or two, and some pears.
You'll be hungry directly. So you think I wreck ships, do you, and stand on the shore and watch men drown?
And then put my hands into their pockets afterwards, when they're swollen with water?
It makes a pretty picture."
Whether his anger was pretended or sincere she could not say, but his mouth was set firm, and there was a flaming spot of colour high on his cheekbone.
"You haven't denied it yet, have you?" she said.
He looked down at her with insolence, half contemptuous, half amused, and he laughed as though she were a child without knowledge.