Daphne Dumorier Fullscreen Restaurant Jamaica (1936)


No, of course you you would not care."

"I have not said so.

You hardly understand."

"Women think differently than men; they travel separate paths.

That's why I have no liking for them; they make for trouble and confusion.

It was pleasure enough to take you to Launceston, Mary, but when it comes to life and death, like my business now, God knows I wish you a hundred miles away, or sitting primly, your sewing in your lap, in a trim parlour somewhere, where you belong to be."

"That's never been my life, nor ever will."

"Why not?

You'll wed a farmer one day, or small tradesman, and live respectably among your neighbours.

Don't tell them you lived once at Jamaica Inn and had love made to you by a horse thief.

They'd shut their doors against you.

Good-bye, and here's prosperity to you."

He rose from the bed and went towards the window, climbing through the gap he had broken in the pane; and, swinging his legs over the porch, with one hand on the blanklet, he lowered himself to the ground.

She watched him from the window, instinctively waving him farewell, but he had turned and gone without looking back at her, slipping across the yard like a shadow.

Slowly she pulled up the blanket and replaced it on the bed.

Morning would soon be here; she would not sleep again.

She sat on her bed, waiting until her door should be unlocked; and she made her plans for the evening to come.

She must not draw suspicion upon herself during the long day; she must act passively, sullenly perhaps, as though feeling had at last been stifled in her, and she was prepared to undertake the proposed journey with the landlord and Aunt Patience.

Then, later, she would make some excuse — fatigue perhaps, a desire to rest in her room before the strain of the night journey — and then would come the most dangerous moment of her day.

She would have to leave Jamaica Inn secretly and unobserved, and run like a hare to Altarnun.

This time Francis Davey would understand; time would be against them, and he must act accordingly.

She would then return to the inn, with his approval, and trust that her absence had remained unnoticed.

This was the gamble.

If the landlord went to her room and found her gone, her life would be worth nothing. She must be prepared for that.

No excuse would save her then.

But if he believed her to be sleeping still, then the game would continue.

They would make preparations for the journey; they might even climb into the cart and come out upon the road; after that her responsibility would end.

Their fate would be in the hands of the vicar of Altarnun.

Beyond this she could not think, nor had she any great desire to look ahead.

So Mary waited for the day; and, when it came, the long hours stretched interminably before her; every minute was an hour, and an hour a particle of eternity itself. The atmosphere of strain was apparent amongst them all.

In silence, haggardly, they waited for the night.

Little progress could be made during the light of day; intrusion was always possible.

Aunt Patience wandered from the kitchen to her room, her footsteps pattering incessantly in the passage and on the stairs, as she made helpless and ineffectual preparations.

She would make bundles of what poor clothes remained to her, and then undo them again, when the memory of some forgotten garment jogged her wandering mind. She pottered in the kitchen aimlessly, opening the cupboards, looking into drawers, and she fingered her pots and pans with restless fingers, incapable of deciding which to take and which to leave behind.

Mary helped her as best as she could, but the unreality of her task made it the more difficult; she knew, while her aunt did not, that all this labour was in vain.

Her heart misgave her at times, when she allowed her thoughts to dwell upon the future.

How would Aunt Patience act?

How would she look when they came to take her husband from her?

She was a child and must be tended as a child.

Again she pattered from the kitchen, climbing the stairs to her room, and Mary would hear her drag her box on the floor, pace up and down, up and down, as she wrapped a single candlestick in a shawl and put it side by side with a cracked teapot and a faded muslin cap, only to unwrap them again and discard them for treasures more ancient.

Joss Merlyn would watch her moodily, cursing her in irritation now and again as she dropped something on the floor or caught her foot and stumbled.

His mood had changed again overnight.

His watch in the kitchen had not improved his temper, and the very fact that the hours had been undisturbed and his visitor had not come upon him made him if possible more restless than before.

He roamed about the house, nervy and abstracted, muttering to himself at times, peering from the windows as though he expected to see someone come upon him unawares.

His nerves reacted upon his wife and Mary.

Aunt Patience watched him anxiously, and she too turned her eyes to the window and would listen, her mouth working, her hands twisting and untwisting her apron.

No sound came from the pedlar in the barred room, nor did the landlord go to him or mention him by name; and this silence was sinister in itself, strange and unnatural.

Had the pedlar shouted obscenities, or thundered on the door, it would have been more in keeping with his character; but he lay there in the darkness without sound or movement, and for all her loathing of him Mary shuddered at the possibility of his death.

At the midday meal they sat round the table in the kitchen, eating silently, furtively almost, and the landlord, who usually had the appetite of an ox, drummed moodily with his fingers on the table, the cold meat on his plate untouched.

Once Mary lifted her eyes and saw him staring at her beneath shaggy brows.