Daphne Dumorier Fullscreen Restaurant Jamaica (1936)


"Mr. Davey, you are playing with me now."

"I most certainly am not.

Warleggan is a long trek from North Hill, but I daresay he can find his way in the dark."

"What has it to do with you if he visits the blacksmith?"

"He will show the nail he picked up in the heather, down in the field below Jamaica Inn. The nail comes from a horse's shoe; the job was carelessly done, of course.

The nail was a new one, and Jem Merlyn, being a stealer of horses, knows the work of every blacksmith on the moors.

'Look here,' he said to the squire. 'I found it this morning in the field behind the inn.

Now you have had your discussions and want me no more, I'll ride to Warleggan, with your leave, and throw this in Tom Jory's face as bad workmanship."

"Well, and what then?" said Mary.

"Yesterday was Sunday, was it not?

And on Sunday no blacksmith plies his trade unless he has great respect for his customer.

Only one traveller passed Tom Jory's smithy yesterday and begged a new nail for his lame horse, and the time was, I suppose, somewhere near seven o'clock in the evening.

After which the traveller continued his journey by way of Jamaica Inn."

"How do you know this?" said Mary.

"Because the traveller was the vicar of Altarnun," he said.

Chapter 17

A silence had fallen upon the room.

Although the fire burnt steady as ever, there was a chill in the air that had not been there before.

Each waited for the other to speak, and Mary heard Francis Davey swallow once.

At length she looked into his face and saw what she expected: the pale, steadfast eyes staring at her across the table, cold no longer, but burning in the white mask of his face like living things at last.

She knew now what he would have her know, but still she said nothing; she clung to ignorance as a source of protection, playing for time as the only ally in her favour.

His eyes compelled her to speak, and she continued to warm her hands at the fire, forcing a smile.

"You are pleased to be mysterious tonight, Mr. Davey."

He did not answer at once; she heard him swallow again, and then he leant forward in his chair, with an abrupt change of subject.

"You lost your confidence in me today before I came," he said.

"You went to my desk and found the drawing; you were disturbed.

No, I did not see you; I am no keyhole watcher; but I saw that the paper had been moved.

You said to yourself, as you have said before,

'What manner of man is this vicar of Altarnun?' and when you heard my footsteps on the path you crouched in your chair there, before the fire, rather than look upon my face.

Don't shrink from me, Mary Yellan; there is no longer any need for pretence between us, and we can be frank with one another, you and I."

Mary turned to him and then away again; there was a message in his eyes she feared to read.

"I am very sorry I went to your desk," she said; "such an action was unforgivable, and I don't yet know how I came to it.

As for the drawing, I am ignorant of such things, and whether it be good or bad I cannot say."

"Never mind if it be good or bad, the point was that it frightened you?"

"Yes, Mr. Davey, it did."

"You said to yourself again,

"This man is a freak of nature, and his world is not my world.'

You were right there, Mary Yellan.

I live in the past, when men were not so humble as they are today.

Oh, not your heroes of history in doublet and hose and narrow-pointed shoes — they were never my friends — but long ago in the beginning of time, when the rivers and the sea were one, and the old gods walked the hills."

He rose from his chair and stood before the fire, a lean black figure with white hair and eyes, and his voice was gentle now, as she had known it first.

"Were you a student, you would understand," he said, "but you are a woman, living already in the nineteenth century, and because of this my language is strange to you.

Yes, I am a freak in nature and a freak in time.

I do not belong here, and I was born with a grudge against the age, and a grudge against mankind.

Peace is very hard to find in the nineteenth century.

The silence is gone, even on the hills.

I thought to find it in the Christian Church, but the dogma sickened me, and the whole foundation is built upon a fairy tale.

Christ himself is a figurehead, a puppet thing created by man himself.

"However, we can talk of these things later, when the heat and turmoil of pursuit are not upon us.

We have eternity before us.