Aunt Patience shook her head, the little nervous smile that she conjured for his presence trailing uneasily across her face without her knowledge.
He sat down on the bed, his hands plucking at the clothes, his restless eyes roaming from the window to the door.
"He'll come," he said; "he's bound to come.
I've cut my own throat; I've gone against him.
He warned me once, and I laughed at him; I didn't listen.
I wanted to play the game on my own.
We're as good as dead, all three of us sitting here — you, Patience, and Mary, and I.
"We're finished, I tell you; the game is up.
Why did you let me drink?
Why didn't you break every blasted bottle in the house, and turn the key on me, and let me lie?
I'd not have hurt you; I'd not have touched a hair of your heads, either of you.
Now it's too late. The end has come."
He looked from one to the other of them, his blood-shot eyes hollow, his massive shoulders humped to his neck.
They stared back at him without understanding, dumbfounded and awed at the expression on his face they had not seen before.
"What do you mean?" said Mary at length. "Who are you afraid of?
Who warned you?"
He shook his head, and his hands strayed to his mouth, the fingers restless.
"No," he said slowly, "I'm not drunk now, Mary Yellan; my secrets are still my own.
But I'll tell you one thing — and there's no escape for you; you're in it now as much as Patience there — we have enemies on either side of us now.
We have the law on one hand, and on the other—" He checked himself, the old cunning in his eyes once more as he glanced at Mary. "You'd like to know, wouldn't you?" he said. "You'd like to sneak out of the house with the name on your lips and betray me.
You'd like to see me hanged.
All right, I don't blame you for it; I've hurt you enough to make you remember to the rest of your days, haven't I?
But I saved you too, didn't I?
Have you thought what that rabble would have done to you had I not been there?" He laughed and spat on the floor, something of his usual self returning to him. "You can put one good mark against me for that alone," he said. "Nobody touched you that night but myself, and I've not spoilt your pretty face.
Cuts and bruises mend, don't they?
Why, you poor weak thing, you know as well as I do I could have had you your first week at Jamaica Inn if I'd wanted you.
You're a woman after all.
Yes, by heaven, and you'd be lying at my feet now, like your Aunt Patience, crushed and contented and clinging, another God-damn bloody fool.
Let's get out of here.
The room stinks of damp and decay."
He shambled to his feet, dragging her after him into the passage, and, when they came onto the landing, he thrust her against the wall, beneath the candle stuck in the bracket, so that the light fell upon her bruised, cut face.
He took her chin in his hands and held her for a moment, smoothing the scratches with delicate, light fingers.
She stared back at him in loathing and disgust, the gentle, graceful hands reminding her of all she had lost and renounced; and, when he bent his hated face lower, indifferent of Patience, who stood beside him, and his mouth, so like his brother's, hovered an instant on hers, the illusion was horrible and complete; and she shuddered and closed her eyes.
He blew out the light; they followed him down the stairs without a word, their footsteps pattering sharply through the empty house.
He led the way into the kitchen, where even there the door was bolted and the window barred.
Two candles were on the table to light the room.
The he turned and faced the two women, and, reaching for a chair, he straddled his legs across it and considered them, fumbling in his pocket for his pipe meanwhile and filling it.
"We've got to think out a plan of campaign," he said; "we've been sitting here for nigh on two days now, like rats in a trap, waiting to be caught.
And I've had enough, I tell you.
I never could play that sort of game; it gives me the horrors.
If there's going to be a scrap, then, by Almighty God, let's have it in the open."
He puffed awhile at his pipe, staring moodily at the floor, tapping his foot on the stone flags.
"Harry's loyal enough," he continued, "but he'd split and have the house about our ears if he thought there'd be profit for himself, As for the rest — they're scattered over the countryside, whining, their tails between their legs, like a blasted pack of curs.
This has scared 'em forever.
Yes, and it's scared me too, you can know that.
I'm sober now, all right; I can see the damn-fool unholy mess I've landed in, and we'll be lucky, all of us, if we get out of it without swinging.
You, Mary, can laugh if you like, with your white, contemptuous face; it'll be as bad for you as for Patience and I.
You're in it too, up to the neck; you'll not escape.
Why didn't you turn the key on me, I say? Why didn't you stop me from drinking?"