Daphne Dumorier Fullscreen Restaurant Jamaica (1936)


He is afraid of something or someone; the windows and doors are barred, and he has his gun."

Jem laughed harshly.

"I don't doubt he's afraid.

He'll be more frightened still before many hours are passed, I can tell you that.

I came here to see him, but if he sits there with a gun across his knee I can postpone my visit until tomorrow, when the shadows are gone."

"Tomorrow may be too late."

"What do you mean?"

"He intends to leave Jamaica Inn at nightfall."

"Are you telling me the truth?"

"Why should I lie to you now?"

Jem was silent.

The news had evidently come as a surprise to him, and he was turning it over in his mind.

Mary watched him, tortured by doubt and indecision; she was thrown back now upon her old suspicion of him.

He was the visitor expected by her uncle, and therefore hated by him and feared.

He was the man who held the threads of her uncle's life between his hands.

The sneering face of the pedlar returned to her again, and his words, that so provoked the landlord to a flame of fury:

"Listen here, Joss Merlyn: do you take your orders from one above you?"

The man whose wits made service of the landlord's strength, the man who had hidden in the empty room.

She thought again of the laughing, carefree Jem who had driven her to Launceston, who had swung hands with her in the market square, who had kissed her and held her.

Now he was grave and silent, his face in shadow.

The idea of dual personality troubled her, and frightened her as well.

He was like a stranger to her tonight, obsessed by some grim purpose she could not understand.

Warning him of the landlord's intended flight had been a false move on her part; it might confound the issue of her plans.

Whatever Jem had done or intended to do, whether he was false and treacherous and a murderer of men, she loved him, in the weakness of her flesh, and owed him warning.

"You'd best have a care for yourself when you see your brother," she said.

"His mood is dangerous; whoever interferes with his plans now risks his life.

I tell you this for your own safety."

"I have no fear of Joss, nor ever had."

"Perhaps not; but what if he is afraid of you?"

To this he said nothing, but, leaning forward suddenly, he looked into her face and touched the scratch that ran from her forehead to her chin.

"Who did this?" he said sharply, turning from the scratch to the bruise on her cheek.

She hesitated a moment and then answered him:

"I got them Christmas Eve."

The gleam in his eye told her at once that he understood, and had knowledge of the evening, and because of it was here now at Jamaica Inn.

"You were there with them, on the shore?" he whispered.

She nodded, watching him carefully, wary of speech, and for answer he cursed aloud, and, reaching forward, smashed the pane of glass with his fist, careless of the splitting sound of glass and the blood that spouted immediately from his hand.

The gap in the window was wide enough now for entrance, and he had climbed into the room and was beside her before she realised what he had done.

He lifted her in his arms and carried her to the bed, and laid her down upon it; and, fumbling in the darkness for a candle, he found it at length and lit it, and came back to the bed and knelt beside it, throwing the light upon her face.

He traced the bruises with his finger down her neck, and when she winced with the pain he drew in his breath quickly, and again she heard him swear.

"I might have spared you this," he said; and then, blowing out the light, he sat down beside her on the bed and reached for her hand, which he held a moment, tight, and then gave back to her.

"God Almighty, why did you go with them?" he said.

"They were crazy with drink. I don't think they knew what they were doing.

I could no more have stood against them than a child.

There were a dozen of them or more, and my uncle… he led them. He and the pedlar.

If you know about it, why do you ask me?

Don't make me remember. I don't want to remember."

"How much have they hurt you?"

"Bruises, scratches — you can see for yourself.

I tried to escape, and I grazed my side.

They caught me again, of course.