Stay here with me tonight, Mary, and we can find out.
You'd be like the rest by the time morning came, I'd take my oath on that."
"I haven't a doubt of it.
That's why I'd rather risk a soaking in the jingle."
"God, you're as hard as flint, Mary Yellan.
You'll be sorry for it when you're alone again."
"Better be sorry then than later."
"If I kissed you again would you change your mind?"
"I would not."
"I don't wonder my brother took to his bed and his bottle for a week, with you in the house.
Did you sing psalms to him?"
"I daresay I did."
"I've never known a woman so perverse.
I'll buy a ring for you if it would make you feel respectable.
It's not often I have money enough in my pocket to make the offer."
"How many wives do you have?"
"Six or seven scattered over Cornwall. I don't count the ones across the Tamar."
"That's a good number for one man.
I'd wait awhile before I took on an eighth, if I were you."
"You're sharp, aren't you?
You look like a monkey in that shawl of yours, with your bright eyes.
All right, I'll fetch the jingle, and take you home to your aunt, but I'll kiss you first, whether you like it or not."
He took her face in his hands.
"One for sorrow, two for joy," he said. "I'll give you the rest when you're in a more yielding frame of mind.
It wouldn't do to finish the rhyme tonight.
Stay where you're to; I'll not be long."
He bowed his head against the rain and strode across the street.
She saw him disappear behind a line of stalls, and so around the corner. She leant back once more within the shelter of the door.
It would be desolate enough on the highroad, she knew that; this was a real driving rain, with a venomous wind behind it, and there would be little mercy from the moors.
It required a certain amount of courage to stand those eleven miles in an open jingle.
The thought of staying in Launceston with Jem Merlyn made her heart beat faster perhaps, and it was exciting to think upon it now he was gone and he could not see her face, but for all that she would not lose her head to please him.
Once she departed from the line of conduct she had laid down for herself, there would be no returning.
There would be no privacy of mind, no independence.
She had given too much away as it was, and she would never be entirely free of him again.
This weakness would be a drag on her and make the four walls of Jamaica Inn more hateful than they were already.
It was better to bear solitude alone.
Now the silence of the moors would be a torment because of his presence four miles distant from her.
Mary wrapped her shawl around her and folded her arms.
She wished that women were not the frail things of straw she believed them to be; then she could stay this night with Jem Merlyn and forget herself as he could forget. and both of them part with a laugh and a shrug of the shoulder in the morning.
But she was a woman, and it was impossible.
A few kisses had made a fool of her already.
She thought of Aunt Patience, trailing like a ghost in the shadow of her master, and she shuddered.
That would be Mary Yellan too, but for the grace of God and her own strength of will.
A gust of wind tore at her skirt and another shower of rain blew in at the open doorway.
It was colder now.
Puddles ran on the cobbled stones, and the lights and the people had vanished.
Launceston had lost its glamour.
It would be a bleak and cheerless Christmas Day tomorrow.
Mary waited, stamping her feet and blowing upon her hands. Jem was taking his own time to fetch the jingle.
He was annoyed with her, no doubt, for refusing to stay, and leaving her to become wet and chilled in the open doorway was to be his method of punishment.