Daphne Dumorier Fullscreen Restaurant Jamaica (1936)


Life had been crushed from her, anyway, and the body lying on the bed did not belong to her.

She had no wish to live.

Shock had made a dummy of her and taken away her strength; tears of self-pity welled into her eyes.

Now there was a face bending down to her, and she shrank back against the pillow, her hands thrust outward and protesting; for the puffy mouth and broken teeth of the pedlar were ever in her mind.

Her hands were held gently, though, and the eyes that peered at her, red rimmed like her own from weeping, were tremulous and blue.

It was Aunt Patience.

They clung to one another, seeking comfort in proximity; and after Mary had wept awhile, easing herself of sorrow and allowing the tide of emotion to carry her to the limit, nature took command of her again and she was strengthened, something of the old courage and force coming back to her again.

"You know what has happened?" she asked, and Aunt Patience held her hands tightly, so that they could not be withdrawn, the blue eyes begging dumbly for forgiveness, like an animal punished through no fault of his own.

"How long have I lain here?" Mary questioned, and she was told that this was the second day.

For a moment or two Mary was silent, considering the information, new to her and sudden; two days was a long time to one who but a few moments ago had watched the dawn break on the coast.

Much could happen in that time, and she had been on her bed here, helpless.

"You should have woken me," she said roughly, pushing away the hands that clung to her. "I'm not a child, to be mothered and pampered because of a few bruises.

There's work for me to do; you don't understand."

Aunt Patience stroked her, the caress timid and ineffectual.

"You could not move," she whimpered. "Your poor body was bleeding and broken.

I bathed you while you were still unconscious; I thought at first they had injured you terribly, but thank the dear God no real harm has come to you.

Your bruises will heal, and your long sleep has rested you."

"You know who did it, don't you?

You know where they took me?"

Bitterness had made her cruel.

She knew that the words acted like a lash, and she could not stop herself. She began to talk about the men on the shore.

Now it was the elder woman's turn to whimper, and when Mary saw the thin mouth working, the vapid blue eyes stare back at her in terror, she became sickened of herself and could not continue.

She sat up in bed and swung her legs to the floor, her head swimming with the effort, her temples throbbing.

"What are you going to do?" Aunt Patience pulled at her nervously, but her niece shook her aside and began to drag on her clothes.

"I have business of my own," she said curtly.

"Your uncle is below. He will not let you leave the inn."

"I'm not afraid of him."

"Mary, for your sake, for my sake, do not anger him again.

You know what you have suffered already.

Ever since he returned with you he has sat below, white and terrible, a gun across his knees; the doors of the inn are barred.

I know you have seen and endured horrible, unspeakable things; but, Mary, don't you understand if you go down now he may hurt you again — he may even kill you?… I have never seen him like this.

I can't answer for his mood.

Don't go down, Mary.

I beg you on my knees not to go down." She began to drag on the floor, clutching at Mary's skirt, clasping at her hands and kissing them.

The sight was miserable, unnerving.

"Aunt Patience, I have gone through enough out of loyalty to you.

You can't expect me to stand any more.

Whatever Uncle Joss may have been to you once, he is inhuman now.

All your tears won't save him from justice; you must realise that.

He's a brute, half mad with brandy and blood. Men were murdered by him on the shore; don't you understand?

Men were drowned in the sea. I can see nothing else.

I shall think of nothing else to my dying way."

Her voice rose, dangerously high; hysteria was not far away.

She was still too weak for consecutive thought, and saw herself running out upon the highroad, crying loudly for the help that would surely be forthcoming.

Aunt Patience prayed too late for silence; the warning finger was unheeded.

The door opened, and the landlord of Jamaica Inn stood on the threshold of the room.

He stooped his head under the beam and stared at them.

He looked haggard and grey; the cut above his eye was still a vivid scarlet. He was filthy and unwashed, and there were black shadows beneath his eyes.

"I thought I heard voices in the yard," he said. "I went to a chink in the shutters, downstairs in the parlour, but I saw no one.

Did you hear anything, from this room?"