Daphne Dumorier Fullscreen Restaurant Jamaica (1936)


She took hold of the paper and glanced at the drawing.

Once again it represented the interior of a church, but this time the congregation was assembled in the pews, and the vicar himself in the pulpit.

At first Mary saw nothing unusual in the sketch; it was a subject natural enough for a vicar to choose who had skill with his pen; but when she looked closer she realised what he had done.

This was not a drawing at all, but a caricature, grotesque as it was horrible.

The people of the congregation were bonneted and shawled, and in their best clothes as for Sunday, but he had drawn sheep's heads upon their shoulders instead of human faces.

The animal jaws gaped foolishly at the preacher, with silly vacant solemnity, and their hoofs were folded in prayer.

The features of each sheep had been touched upon with care, as though representing a living soul, but the expression on every one of them was the same — that of an idiot who neither knew nor cared.

The preacher, with his black gown and halo of hair, was Francis Davey; but he had given himself a wolf's face, and the wolf was laughing at the flock beneath him.

The thing was a mockery, blasphemous and terrible.

Mary covered it quickly and replaced the paper in the drawer, with the white sheet uppermost; then she shut the drawer and went away from the desk and sat once more in the chair beside the fire.

She had stumbled upon a secret, and she would rather that the secret stayed concealed.

This was something that concerned her not at all, but rested between the draughtsman and his God.

When she heard his footstep on the path outside, she rose hurriedly and moved the light away from her chair so that she would be in shadow when he came into the room and he could not read her face.

Her chair had its back to the door, and she sat there, waiting for him; but he was so long in coming that she turned at last to listen for his step, and then she saw him, standing behind her chair, having entered the room noiselessly from the hall.

She started in surprise, and he came forward then into the light, making apology for his appearance.

"Forgive me," he said, "you did not expect me so soon, and I have blundered into your dreams."

She shook her head and stammered an excuse, and then he asked at once after her health, and how she had slept, stripping himself of his greatcoat as he spoke and standing before the fire in his black clerical dress.

"Have you eaten today?" he asked, and, when she told him she had not, he took out his watch and noted the time — a few minutes before six — which he compared with the clock upon his desk.

"You have supped with me before, Mary Yellan, and you shall sup with me again," he said; "but this time, if you do not mind and if you are rested enough, you shall lay the table and fetch the tray from the kitchen.

Hannah will have left it prepared, and we will not trouble her again.

For my part, I have writing to do; that is, if you have no objection."

She assured him that she was rested and would like nothing better than to make herself useful, and he nodded his head then and said,

"At a quarter to seven," turning his back on her; and she gathered she was dismissed.

She made her way to the kitchen, put something out of countenance at his abrupt arrival, and she was glad that he had given her an added half-hour to herself, for she had been ill prepared for conversation when he found her.

Perhaps supper would be a brief affair, and, once over, he would turn to his desk again and leave her to her thoughts.

She wished she had not opened the drawer. The memory of the caricature lingered with her unpleasantly.

She felt much as a child does who acquires knowledge forbidden by his parents and then hangs his head, guilty and ashamed, fearful that his tongue will betray him.

She would have been more comfortable could she have taken her meal alone here in the kitchen and been treated by him as a handmaid rather than a guest.

As it was, her position was not defined, for his courtesy and his commands were curiously mingled.

She made play then of getting the supper, at home amongst the familiar kitchen smells, and awaited reluctantly the summons of the clock.

The church itself chimed the three quarters and gave her no excuse, so she carried the tray to the living room, hoping that nothing of her inner feeling showed upon her face.

He was standing with his back to the fire, and he had pulled the table in readiness before it.

Although she did not look at him, she felt his scrutiny upon her, and her movements were clumsy.

She was aware, too, that he had made some alteration to the room, and out of the tail of her eye she saw that he had taken down his easel, and the canvases were no longer stacked against the wall.

The desk, for the first time, was in disorder, with papers and correspondence piled upon it, and he had been burning letters too, for the yellow, blackened scraps lay amongst the ashes under the turf.

They sat down together at the table, and he helped her to the cold pie.

"Is curiosity dead in Mary Yellan that she does not ask me what I have done with my day?" he said at length, mocking her gently and bringing the flush of guilt to her face at once.

"It is no business of mine where you have been," she answered.

"You are wrong there," he said, "and it is your business. I have meddled in your affairs the livelong day.

You asked for my help, did you not?"

Mary was ashamed and hardly knew what to reply.

"I have not thanked you yet for coming so promptly to Jamaica Inn," she said, "nor for my bed last night and my sleep today.

You think me ungrateful."

"I never said that. I wondered only at your patience.

It had not struck two when I bade you sleep this morning, and it is now seven in the evening.

Long hours; and things do not stand still by themselves."

"Did you not sleep, then, after you left me?"

"I slept until eight. And then I breakfasted and was away again.

My grey horse was lame, and I could not use him, so progress was slow with the cob.

He jogged like a snail to Jamaica Inn, and from Jamaica Inn to North Hill."