Daphne Dumorier Fullscreen Restaurant Jamaica (1936)


You could no doubt persuade him to deal mercifully with Jem Merlyn when the time comes.

After all, he is young; he could start life afresh; it would be easy enough for you in your position."

His silence was an added humiliation, and, feeling those cold white eyes upon her, she knew what a little graceless fool he must think her, and how feminine.

He must see that she was pleading for a man who had kissed her once, and that he despised her went without saying.

"My acquaintance with Mr. Bassat of North Hill is of the slightest," he told her gently. "Once or twice we have given one another good afternoon, and we have spoken of matters relating to our respective parishes.

It is hardly likely that he should spare a thief because of me, especially if the thief is guilty and happens to be the brother of the landlord of Jamaica Inn."

Mary said nothing.

Once again, this strange man of God had spoken words of logic and wisdom, and there was no argument in reply.

But she was caught in the sudden fever of love that devastates reason and makes havoc of logic, therefore his words acted as an irritant and created fresh turmoil in her brain.

"You appear anxious for his safety," he said; and she wondered whether it was mockery she heard in his voice, or reproof, or understanding; but quick as a flash of lightning he continued:

"And if your new friend was guilty of other things, of conspiring with his brother against the belongings and perhaps the lives of his fellow men, what then, Mary Yellan?

Would you still seek to save him?" She felt his hand upon hers, cool and impersonal; and, because she was on edge after the excitement of the day, and was both frightened and frustrated in one, and loved a man against her judgment who was now lost to her through her own fault, she broke down and began to rave like a child deprived.

"I didn't bargain for this," she said fiercely.

"I could face the brutality of my uncle, and the pathetic dumb stupidity of Aunt Patience; even the silence and the horror of Jamaica Inn itself could be borne without shrinking and running away.

I don't mind being lonely.

There's a certain grim satisfaction in this struggle with my uncle that emboldens me at times and I feel I'll have the better of him in the long run, whatever he says or does.

I'd planned to take my aunt away from him and see justice done, and then, when it was all over, to find work on a farm somewhere and live a man's life, like I used to do.

But now I can't look ahead any more; I can't make plans or think for myself; I go round and round in a trap, all because of a man I despise, who has nothing to do with my brain or my understanding.

I don't want to love like a woman or feel like a woman, Mr. Davey; there's pain that way, and suffering, and misery that can last a lifetime.

I didn't bargain for this; I don't want it."

She leant back, her face against the side of the carriage worn out by her torrent of words and already ashamed of her outburst.

She did not care what he thought of her now.

He was a priest, and therefore detached from her little world of storm and passion.

He could have no knowledge of these things.

She felt sullen and unhappy.

"How old are you?" he asked abruptly.

"Twenty-three," she told him.

She heard him swallow in the darkness, and, taking his hand away from hers, he placed it once more upon the ebony stick and sat in silence.

The carriage had climbed away from the Launceston valley and the shelter of the hedges and was now upon the high ground leading to the open moorland, exposed to the full force of the wind and the rain.

The wind was continuous, but the showers were intermittent, and now and again a wild star straggled furtively behind a low-sweeping cloud and hung for an instant like a pinprick of light.

Then it would go, obscured and swept away by a black curtain of rain, and from the narrow window of the carriage nothing could be seen but the square dark patch of sky.

In the valley the rain had fallen with greater steadiness, and the wind, though persistent, had been moderate in strength and checked in its passage by the trees and the contour of the hill.

Here on the high ground there was no such natural shelter; there was nothing but the moor on either side of the road, and, above, the great black vault of the sky; and there was a scream in the wind that had not been before.

Mary shivered and edged closer to her companion like a dog to his fellow.

Still he said nothing, but she knew that he had turned and was looking down upon her, and for the first time she was aware of his proximity as a person; she could feel his breath on her forehead.

She remembered that her wet shawl and bodice lay on the floor at her feet, and she was naked under her rough blanket. When he spoke again she realised how near he was to her, and his voice came as a shock, confusing suddenly, and unexpected.

"You are very young, Mary Yellan," he said softly: "you are nothing but a chicken with the broken shell still around you.

You'll come through your little crisis.

Women like you have no need to shed tears over a man encountered once or twice, and the first kiss is not a thing that is remembered.

You will forget your friend with his stolen pony very soon.

Come now, dry your eyes; you are not the first to bite your nails over a lost lover."

He made light of her problem and counted it as a thing of no account: that was her first reaction to his words.

And then she wondered why he had not used the conventional phrases of comfort, said nothing about the blessing of prayer, the peace of God, and life everlasting.

She remembered that last ride with him when he had whipped his horse into a fever of speed, and how he had crouched in his seat, with the reins in his hands; and he had whispered words under his breath she had not understood.

Again she felt something of the same discomfort she had experienced then; a sensation of uneasiness that she connected instinctively with his freak hair and eyes, as though his physical departure from normality were a barrier between him and the rest of the world.

In the animal kingdom a freak was a thing of abhorrence, at once hunted and destroyed, or driven out into the wilderness.

No sooner had she thought of this than she reproached herself as narrow and unChristian.

He was a fellow creature and a priest of God; but as she murmured an apology to him for having made a fool of herself before him and talking like a common girl from the streets, she reached for her clothes and began to draw them on furtively under cover of the blanket.

"So I was right in my surmise, and all has been quiet at Jamaica Inn since I saw you last?" he said after a while, following some train of thought. "There have been no waggons to disturb your beauty sleep, and the landlord has played alone with his glass and his bottle?"

Mary, still fretful and anxious, with her mind on the man she had lost, brought herself back to reality with an effort.