Daphne Dumorier Fullscreen Restaurant Jamaica (1936)


One day it'll be the end of me, and a good job too.

There's days go by and I don't touch more than a drop, same as I've done tonight. And then I'll feel the thirst come on me and I'll soak. Soak for hours.

It's power, and glory, and women, and the Kingdom of God, all rolled into one.

I feel a king then, Mary. I feel I've got the strings of the world between my two fingers.

It's heaven and hell.

I talk then, talk until every damned thing I've ever done is spilt to the four winds.

I shut myself in my room and shout my secrets in my pillow.

Your aunt turns the key on me, and when I'm sober I hammer on the door and she lets me out.

There's no one knows that but she and I, and now I've told you.

I've told you because I'm already a little drunk and I can't hold my tongue.

But I'm not drunk enough to lose my head.

I'm not drunk enough to tell you why I live in this God-forgotten spot, and why I'm the landlord of Jamaica Inn."

His voice was hoarse, and now he scarcely spoke above a whisper.

The turf fire had sunk low in the hearth, and dark shadows stretched long fingers on the wall. The candles too had burnt down, and cast a monstrous shadow of Joss Merlyn on the ceiling.

He smiled at her, and with a foolish drunken gesture he laid his finger against his nose.

"I've not told you that, Mary Yellan.

Oh no, I've got some sense and cunning left.

If you want to know any more you can ask your aunt.

She'll pull you a tale.

I heard her blathering tonight, telling you we kept fine company here, and the squire takes off his hat to her.

It's lies, all lies.

I'll tell you that much, for you'll come to know it anyway.

Squire Bassat's too mortal scared to shove his nose in here.

If he saw me in the road he'd cross his heart and spur his horse.

And so would all the precious gentry.

The coaches don't stop here now, nor the mails neither.

I don't worry; I've customers enough.

The wider berth the gentry give to me the better pleased I am.

Oh, there's drinking here all right, and plenty of it too.

There's some who come to Jamaica Saturday night, and there's some who turn the key of their door and sleep with their fingers in their ears.

There are nights when every cottage on the moors is dark and silent, and the only lights for miles are the blazing windows of Jamaica Inn.

They say the shouting and the singing can be heard as far down as the farms below Rough Tor.

You'll be in the bar those nights, if you've a fancy for it, and you'll see what company I keep."

Mary sat very still, gripping the sides of her chair.

She dared not move for fear of that swift changing of his mood which she had observed already, and which would turn him from this sudden intimate tone of confidence to a harsh and coarse brutality.

"They're all afraid of me," he went on; "the whole damned lot of 'em. Afraid of me, who's afraid of no man.

I tell you, if I'd had education, if I'd had learning, I'd have walked the breadth of England beside King George himself.

It's drink that's been against me, drink and my hot blood.

It's the curse of all of us, Mary.

There's never been a Merlyn yet that died peaceful in his bed.

"My father was hanged at Exeter — he had a brawl with a fellow and killed him.

My granddad had his ears cut for thieving; he was sent out to a convict settlement and died raving mad from a snake bite in the tropics.

I'm the eldest of three brothers, all of us born under the shadow of Kilmar, away yonder above Twelve Men's Moor. You walk out over there across the East Moor till you come to Rushyford, and you'll see a great crag of granite like a devil's hand sticking up into the sky.

That's Kilmar.

If you'd been born under its shadow you'd take to drink, same as I did.

My brother Matthew, he was drowned in Trewartha Marsh.

We thought he'd gone for a sailor, and had no news of him, and then in the summer there was a drought, and no rain fell for seven months, and there was Matthew sticking up in the bog, with his hands above his head, and the curlews flying round him.

My brother Jem, damn him, he was the baby. Hanging onto mother's skirts when Matt and I were grown men.

I never did see eye to eye with Jem. Too smart he is, too sharp with his tongue.

Oh, they'll catch him in time and hang him, same as they did my father."