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Literary Adventures

This page will take you into pieces of literature that are carefully selected for their great content at the literary, scientific, or philosophical level. A short selection will be presented in full. A long one will be divided into sections that will be refreshed regularly. Emphasis and highlights are mostly ours, not made by the original author.

Here is our current selection:

Jamaica Inn (1916) by Daphne du Maurier


Joss Merlyn was drunk for five days. He was insensible most of the time, and lay stretched out on a bed in the kitchen that Mary and her aunt had improvised between them. He slept with his mouth wide open, and the sound of his breathing could be heard from the bedrooms above. About five in the evening he would wake for half an hour or so, shouting for brandy and sobbing like a child. His wife went to him at once, and soothed him and settled his pillow. She gave him a little weak brandy-and-water, talking to him gently as she would to a sick child, holding the glass to his lips ; and he stared around him with glaring blood-shot eyes, muttering to himself, and shivering like a dog.

Aunt Patience became another woman, showing a calm coolness and a presence of mind that Mary had not believed her capable of possessing. She gave herself up entirely to this nursing of her husband. She was obliged to do everything for him, and Mary watched her change his blankets and his linen with a sick feeling of disgust in her own heart, for she could not have borne to go near him. Aunt Patience took it as a matter of course, and the oaths and screams with which he greeted her did not appear to frighten her. These were the only times when she had the controlling of him, and he would let her sponge his forehead with a towel and hot water without a protest. Then she would tuck the fresh blanket under him, and smooth his mat of hair, and in a few minutes he would be asleep again, his face purple and his mouth wide open, with, his tongue protruding, snoring like a bull. It was impossible to live in the kitchen, and Mary and her aunt turned the little disused parlour into a dwelling-room for themselves. For the first time Aunt Patience became something of a companion. She chatted happily of the old days in Helford, when she and Mary's mother had been girls together ; she moved swiftly and lightly about the house, and sometimes Mary would hear her humming snatches of old hymns as she passed backwards and forwards to the kitchen. It seemed that every two months or so Joss Merlyn would have these bouts of drinking. The times used to be further apart, but now they were becoming more frequent, and Aunt Patience was never quite certain when they would occur. This present one been caused by the visit of Squire Bassat to the inn--the landlord had been very angry and upset, she told Mary--and when he came back from the moors at six in the evening he went straight to the bar. She knew then what would happen.

Aunt Patience accepted without question her niece's explanation of losing herself on the moors. She told her she must beware of the bogs and left it at that. Mary was greatly relieved. She did not want to give details of the adventure, and she was determined to say nothing of her meeting with the vicar of Altarnun. Meanwhile Joss Merlyn lay in his stupor in the kitchen, and the two women spent five comparatively peaceful days.

The weather was cold and grey, and did not tempt Mary from the house, but on the fifth morning the wind dropped and the sun shone, and, in spite of the adventure that had befallen her only a few days before, Mary decided to brave the moors again. The landlord was awake at nine, and began to shout at the top of his voice, and what with the noise he made, and the smell from the kitchen that now pervaded the rest of the house, and the sight of Aunt Patience bustling downstairs with clean blankets over her arm, Mary was seized with a rush of disgust and a loathing for the whole business.

Feeling very ashamed of herself, she slipped out of the house, rolling a crust of bread in a handkerchief, and crossed the high road to the moors. This time she made for the East Moor, striking out towards Kilmar, and with the whole day in front of her there was no fear of being lost. She kept thinking about Francis Davey, her strange vicar of Altarnun, and she realised how little he had told her of himself, while he had from her a life-history in an evening. She thought what an odd figure he must have looked, painting his picture beside the waters of Dozmary, hatless, perhaps, his halo of white hair standing up around his head ; and there would be gulls flying inland from the sea, skimming the surface of the lake. He would look like Elijah in the wilderness.

She wondered what had called him to priesthood, and whether he was loved by the people of Altarnun. It was nearly Christmas now, and home at Helford people would be decorating with holly and evergreen and mistletoe. There would be a great baking of pastry and cakes, and a fattening of turkeys and geese. The little parson, wearing a festive air, would beam upon his world, and on Christmas Eve he would rise up after tea to drink sloe gin at Trelowarren. Did Francis Davey decorate his church with holly, and call down a blessing upon the people ?

One thing was certain : there would be little gaiety at Jamaica Inn.

Mary had walked for an hour or more before she stopped short in her tracks, her further progress barred by a stream that divided and ran in opposite directions. The stream lay in a valley between the hills, and was encircled by marshes. The country was not unknown to her, and, looking on beyond the smooth green face of the tor ahead, she saw the great split hand of Kilmar pointing his fingers to the sky. She was gazing at Trewartha Marsh once more, where she had wandered that first Saturday, but this time her face was turned to the south-east, and the hills looked different in the brave sunshine. The brook burbled merrily over the stones, and there was a fording gate across the shallow water. The marsh stretched away to the left of her. The soft wind blew the waving strands of grass, that shivered in company, and sighed, and rustled ; and planted amidst the pale inviting green were tufts of coarse brown-tipped grass with yellow stocky strands.

These were the treacherous bog islands, suggesting solidity by their breadth, but their weight was of thistledown, and a man's foot planted upon them sank immediately, and the little patches of slate-coloured water that rippled here and there would churn into froth and turn black.

Mary turned her back on the marsh and forded the gate over the stream. She kept to the high ground, with the stream beneath her, and followed its course along the winding valley between the hills. There were few clouds today to cast their shadows, and the moors rolled away beyond her, sand-coloured under the sun. A solitary curlew stood pensively beside the stream, watching his reflection in the water ; and then his long beak darted with incredible swiftness into the reeds, stabbing at the soft mud, and, turning his head, he tucked his legs under him and rose into the air, calling his plaintive note, and streaking for the south.

Something had disturbed him, and in a few minutes Mary saw what it was. A handful of ponies had clattered down the hill beyond and splashed into the stream to drink. They clod-hopped noisily amongst the stones, pushing into one another, their tails whisking in the wind. They must have come through a gate on the left, a little way ahead, that stood wide open, propped by a jagged stone, and led to a rough farm-track heavy with mud.

Mary leant against the gate and watched the ponies, and out of the tail of her eye she saw a man coming down the track, carrying a bucket in either hand. She was about to move and continue her walk round the bend of the hill when he waved a bucket in the air, and shouted to her.

It was Jem Merlyn. There was no time to escape, and she stood where she was until he came to her. He wore a grimy shirt that had never seen a wash-tub, and a pair of dirty brown breeches, covered with horsehair and filth from an outhouse. He had neither hat nor coat, and there was a rough stubble of beard on his jaw. He laughed at her, showing his teeth, looking for all the world like his brother must have done twenty years ago.

" So you've found your way to me, have you ? " he said, "I didn't expect you so soon or I'd have baked bread in your honour. I haven't washed for three days, and I've been living on potatoes. Here, take hold of this bucket."

He thrust one of the buckets in her hand before she had time to protest, and was down to the water after the ponies. " Come out of it ! " he shouted. " Get back, will you, fouling my drinking-water ! Go on, you big black devil."

He hit the largest of the ponies on his hind-quarters with the end of the bucket, and they stampeded up the hill out of the water, kicking their heels in the air. " My fault for not shutting the gate," he called to Mary. " Bring down that other bucket ; the water's clear enough the other side of the brook."

She took it with her to the stream, and he filled them both, grinning at her over his shoulder. " What would you have done if you hadn't found me at home ? " he said, wiping his face on his sleeve. Mary could not help smiling.

" I didn't even know you lived here," she said, " and I certainly never walked this way with the intention of finding you. I'd have turned left if I'd known."

" I don't believe you," he said. " You started out with the hope of sighting me, and it's no use pretending any different. Well, you've come in good time to cook my dinner. There's a piece of mutton in the kitchen."

He led the way up the mud track, and, rounding the corner, they came to a small grey cottage built on the side of the hill. There were some rough outbuildings at the back, and a strip of land for potatoes. A thin stream of smoke rose from the squat chimney. " The fire's on, and it won't take you long to boil that scrap of mutton. I suppose you can cook ? " he said.

Mary looked him up and down, " Do you always make use of folk this way ? " she said.

" I don't often have the chance," he told her, " But you may as well stop while you're here. I've done all my own cooking since my mother died, and there's not been a woman in the cottage since. Come in, won't you ? "

She followed him in, bending her head as he did under the low door.

The room was small and square, half the size of the kitchen at Jamaica, with a great open fireplace in the corner. The floor was filthy, and littered with rubbish : potato-scrapings, cabbage-stalks, and crumbs of bread. There were odds and ends scattered all over the room, and ashes from the turf fire covered everything. Mary looked about her in dismay.

" Don't you ever do any cleaning ? " she asked him. You've got this kitchen like a pigsty. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Leave me that bucket of water, and find me a broom. I'll not eat my dinner in a place like this."

She set to work at once, all her instincts of cleanliness and order aroused by the dirt and the squalor. In half an hour she had the kitchen scrubbed clean as a pin, the stone floor wet and shining, and all the rubbish cleared away. She had found crockery in the cupboard, and a strip of table-cloth, with which she proceeded to lay the table, and meanwhile the mutton boiled in the saucepan on the fire, surrounded by potato and turnip.

The smell was good, and Jem came in at the door, sniffing the air like a hungry dog. " I shall have to keep a woman," he said. " I can see that. Will you leave your aunt and come and look after me? "

" You'd have to pay me too much," said Mary. " You'd never have money enough for what I'd ask."

" Women are always mean," he said, sitting down at the table. " What they do with their money I don't know, for they never spend it. My mother was just the same. She used to keep hers hidden in an old stocking, and I never as much as saw the colour of it. Make haste with the dinner ; I'm as empty as a worm."

" You're impatient, aren't you ? " said Mary. " Not a word of thanks to me that's cooked it. Take your hands away--the plate's hot!"

She put the steaming mutton down in front of him and he smacked his lips. " They taught, you something where you came from, anyway," he said. " I always say there's two things women ought to do by instinct, and cooking's one of 'em. Get me a jug of water, will you ? You'll find the pitcher outside."

But Mary had filled a cup for him already, and she passed it to him in silence.

" We were all born here," said Jem, jerking his head to the ceiling, " up in the room overhead. But Joss and Matt were grown men when I was still a little lad, clinging to mother's skirt. We never saw much of my father, but when he was home we knew it all right. I remember him throwing a knife at mother once--it cut her above her eye, and the blood ran down her face. I was scared, and ran and hid in that corner by the fire. Mother said nothing ; she just bathed her eye in some water, and then she gave my father his supper. She was a brave woman, I'll say that for her, though she spoke little and she never gave us much to eat. She made a bit of a pet of me when I was small, on account of being the youngest, I suppose, and my brothers used to beat me when she wasn't looking. Not that they were as thick as you'd think--we were never much of a loving family--and I've seen Joss thrash Matt until be couldn't stand. Matt was a funny devil ; he was quiet, more like my mother. He was drowned down in the marsh yonder. You could shout there until your lungs burst, no one would hear you except a bird or two, and a stray pony. I've been nearly caught there myself in my time."

" How long has your mother been dead ? " said Mary.

" Seven years this Christmas," he answered, helping himself to more boiled mutton. "What with my father hanged, and Matt drowned, and Joss gone off to America, and me growing up as wild as a hawk, she turned religious and used to pray here by the hour, calling on the Lord. I couldn't abide that, and I cleared off out of it. I shipped on a Padstow schooner for a time, but the sea didn't suit my stomach, and I came back home. I found Mother gone as thin as a skeleton. 'You ought to eat more,' I told her, but she wouldn't listen to me, so I went off again, and stayed in Plymouth for a while, picking up a shilling or two in my own way. I came back here to have my Christmas dinner, and I found the place deserted and the door locked up. I was mad. I hadn't eaten for twenty-four hours. I went back to North Hill, and they told me my mother had died. She'd been buried three weeks. I might just as well have stayed in Plymouth for all the dinner I got that Christmas. There's a piece of cheese in the cupboard behind you. Will you eat the half of it ? There's maggots in it, but they won't hurt you."

Mary shook her head, and she let him get up and reach for it himself.

" What's the matter ? " he said. "You look like a sick cow. Has the mutton turned sour on you already ?"

Mary watched him return to his seat and spread the hunk of dry cheese on to a scrap of stale bread. "It will be a good thing when there's not a Merlyn left in Cornwall," she said. " It's better to have disease in a country than a family like yours. You and your brother were born twisted and evil. Do you never think of what your mother must have suffered ?"

Jem looked at her in surprise, the bread and cheese half way to his mouth.

" Mother was all right," he said. " She never complained. She was used to us. Why, she married my father at sixteen ; she never had time to suffer. Joss was born the year after, and then Matt. Her time was taken up in rearing them, and by the time they were out of her hands she had to start all over again with me. I was an afterthought, I was. Father got drunk at Launceston fair, after selling three cows that didn't belong to him. If it wasn't for that I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you now. Pass that jug."

Mary had finished. She got up and began to clear away the plates in silence.

"How's the landlord of Jamaica Inn ? " said Jem, tilting back on his chair, and watching her dip the plates in water.

"Drunk, like his father before him," said Mary shortly.

" That'll be the ruin of Joss, " said his brother seriously. " He soaks himself insensible, and lies like a log for days. One day he'll kill himself with it. The damned fool ! How long has it lasted this time ? "

" Five days."

"Oh, that's nothing to Joss. He'd lay there for a week if you let him. Then he'll come to, staggering on his feet like a new-born calf, with a mouth as black as Trewartha Marsh. When he's rid himself of his surplus liquid, and the rest of the drink has soaked into him--that's when you want to watch him ; he's dangerous then. You look out for yourself."

" He'll not touch me ; I'll take good care of that," said Mary. " He's got other things to worry him. There's plenty to keep him busy."

" Don't be mysterious, nodding to yourself with your mouth pursed up. Has anything been happening at Jamaica ? "

" It depends how you look at it," said Mary, watching him over the plate she was wiping. " We had Mr. Bassat from North Hill last week."

Jem brought his chair to the ground with a crash. " The devil you did," he said. " And what had the squire to say to you ? "

" Uncle Joss was from home," said Mary, " and Mr. Bassat insisted on coming into the inn and going through the rooms. He broke down the door at the end of the passage, he and his servant between them, but the room was empty. He seemed disappointed, and very surprised, and he rode away in a fit of temper. He asked after you, as it happened, and I told him I'd never set eyes on you."

Jem whistled tunelessly, his expression blank as Mary told her tale, but when she came to the end of her sentence, and the mention of his name, his eyes narrowed, and then he laughed. " Why did you lie to him ? " he asked.

" It seemed less trouble at the time," said Mary. " If I'd thought longer, no doubt I'd have told him the truth. You've got nothing to hide, have you ? "

" Nothing much, except that black pony you saw by the brook belongs to him," said Jem carelessly. " He was dapple-grey last week, and worth a small fortune to the squire, who bred him himself. I'll make a few pounds with him at Laimceston if I'm lucky. Come down and have a look at him."

They went out into the sun, Mary wiping her hands on her apron, and she stood for a few moments at the door of the cottage while Jem went off to the horses. The cottage was built on the slope of the hill above the Withy Brook, whose course wound away in the valley and was lost in the farther hills. Behind the house stretched a wide and level plain, rising to great tors on either hand, and this grassland--like a grazing-place for cattle--with no boundary as far as the eye could reach except the craggy menace of Kilmar, must be the strip of country known as Twelve Men's Moor.

Mary pictured Joss Merlyn running out of the doorway here as a child, his mat of hair falling over his eyes in a fringe, with the gaunt, lonely figure of his mother standing behind him, her arms folded, watching him with a question in her eyes. A world of sorrow and silence, anger and bitterness too, must have passed beneath the roof of this small cottage.

There was a shout and a clatter of hoofs, and Jem rode up to her round the corner of the house, astride the black pony. "This is the fellow I wanted you to have," he said, "but you're so close with your money. He'd carry you well, too ; the squire bred him for his wife. Are you sure you won't change your mind ? "

Mary shook her head and laughed. "You'd have me tie him up in the stable at Jamaica, I suppose," she said, "and when Mr. Bassat calls again he wouldn't be likely to recognise him, would he ? Thanking you for your trouble, but I'd rather not risk it all the same. I've lied enough for your family, Jem Merlyn, for one lifetime." Jem pulled a long face, and slid to the ground.

"You've refused the best bargain that you'll ever have offered to you," he said, " and I won't give you the chance again. He'll go to Launceston on Christmas Eve ; the dealers there will swallow him up." He clapped his hands on the hind-quarters of the pony. " Get on with you, then " ; and the animal made a startled dash for the gap in the bank.

Jem broke off a piece of grass and began to chew it, glancing sideways at his companion. "What did Squire Bassat expect to see at Jamaica Inn ? " he said.

Mary looked him straight in the eyes. " You ought to know that better than I do, " she answered. Jem chewed his grass thoughtfully, spitting out little bits of it on to the ground.

" How much do you know ? " he said suddenly, throwing the stalk away.

Mary shrugged her shoulders. " I didn't come here to answer questions," she said. " I had enough of that with Mr. Bassat."

" It was lucky for Joss the stuff had been shifted," said his brother quietly. " I told him last week he was sailing too close to the wind. It's only a matter of time before they catch him. And all he does in self-defence is to get drunk, the danmed fool."

Mary said nothing. If Jem was trying to tap her by this exhibition of frankness he would be disappointed.

" You must have a good view from that little room over the porch," he said. " Do they wake you out of your beauty-sleep ? "

" How do you know that's my room ? " Mary asked swiftly.

He looked taken aback at her question ; she saw the surprise flash through his eyes. Then he laughed, and picked another piece of grass from the bank.

" The window was wide open when I rode into the yard the other morning," he said, " and there was a little bit of blind blowing in the wind. I've never seen a window open at Jamaica Inn before."

The excuse was plausible, but hardly good enough for Mary. A horrible suspicion came into her mind. Could it have been Jem who had hidden in the empty guest-room that Saturday night ? Something went cold inside her.

"Why are you so silent about it all ? " he continued. " Do you think I'm going to go to my brother and say, 'Here, that niece of yours, she lets her tongue run away with her' ? Damn it, Mary, you're not blind or deaf ; even a child would smell a rat if he lived a month at Jamaica Inn."

" What are you trying to make me tell you ? " said Mary. " And what does it matter to you how much I know ? All I think about is getting my aunt away from the place as soon as possible. I told you that when you came to the inn. It may take a little time to persuade her, and I'll have to be patient. As for your brother, he can drink himself to death for all I care. His life is his own, and so is his business. It's nothing to do with me."

Jem whistled, and kicked at a loose stone with his foot.

" So smuggling doesn't appal you after all ? " he said. " You'd let my brother line every room at Jamaica with kegs of brandy and rum, and you'd say nothing, is that it ? But supposing he meddled in other things supposing it was a question of life, and death, and perhaps murder--what then ?"

He turned round and faced her, and she could see that this time he was not playing with her ; his careless, laughing manner was gone, and his eyes were grave, but she could not read what lay behind them.

" I don't know what you mean," said Mary.

He looked at her for a long time without speaking. It was as though he debated some problem in his mind and could only find solution in the expression of her face. All his resemblance to his brother vanished. He was harder, older suddenly, and of a different breed.

" Perhaps not," he said at length, " but you'll come to know, if you stay long enough. Why does your aunt look like a living ghost--can you tell me that ? Ask her, next time the wind blows from the north-west."

And he began to whistle again softly, his hands in his pockets. Mary stared back at him in silence. He spoke in riddles, but whether it was to frighten her or not she could not say. Jem the horse-stealer, with his careless, impecunious manner, she could understand and allow for, but this was a new departure. She was not sure whether she liked it as well.

He laughed shortly, and shrugged his shoulders. " There'll be trouble between Joss and myself one day, and it's he that'll be sorry for it, not I," he said. And with that cryptic remark he turned on his heel and went off on to the moor after the pony. Mary watched him thoughtfully, her arms tucked into her shawl. So her first instinct had been right, and there was something behind the smuggling, after all. The stranger in the bar that night had talked of murder, and now Jem himself had echoed his words. She was not a fool then, nor was she hysterical, whatever she was considered by the vicar of Altarnun.

What part Jem Merlyn played in all this it was hard to say, but that he was concerned in it somewhere she did not doubt for a moment.

And if he was the man who crept so stealthily down the stairs behind her uncle--why, he must know well enough that she had left her room that night, and was in hiding somewhere, and had listened to them. Then he, above all men, must remember the rope on the beam, and guess that she had seen it after he and the landlord had gone out on to the moor.

If Jem was the man, there would be reason enough for all his questions.

" How much do you know ? " he had asked her ; but she had not told him.

The conversation had cast a shadow on her day. She wanted to be off now, and rid of him, and alone with her own thoughts. She began to walk slowly down the hill towards the Withy Brook. She had reached the gate at the bottom of the track when she heard his running footsteps behind her, and he flung himself first at the gate, looking like a half-bred gypsy with his growth of beard and his filthy breeches.

" Why are you going ? " he said. " It's early yet ; it won't be dark till after four. I'll walk back with you then as far as Rushyford Gate. What's the matter with you ? " He took her chin in his hands and looked into her face. " I believe you're frightened of me," he said. " You think I've got barrels of brandy and rolls of tobacco in the little old bedrooms up above, and that I'm going to show them to you, and then cut your throat. That's it, isn't it ? We're a desperate lot of fellows, we Merlyns, and Jem is the worst of the pack. Is that what you're thinking ?"

She smiled back at him in spite of herself. " Something of the sort," she confessed, " but I'm not afraid of you ; you needn't think that. I'd even like you if you didn't remind me so much of your brother."

" I can't help my face," he said, " and I'm much better-looking than Joss, you must allow me that."

" Oh, you've conceit enough to make up for all the other qualities you lack," agreed Mary, " and I'll not deprive you of your handsome face. You may break as many hearts as you please. Now let me go ; it's a long walk back to Jamaica Inn and I don't fancy losing myself on the moors again."

" And when did you lose yourself before ? " he asked.

Mary, frowned slightly. The words had escaped her. " The other afternoon I was out on the West Moor," she said, " and the fog came on early. I wandered some time before I found my way back."

" You're a fool to go walking," he said. " There's places between Jamaica and Roughtor that would swallow a herd of cattle, to say nothing of a slip of a thing like you. It's no pastime for a woman anyhow. What did you do it for ?"

"I wanted to stretch my legs. I'd been shut in the house for days."

" Well, Mary Yellan, next time you want to stretch your legs you can stretch them in this direction. If you come through the gate you can't go wrong, not if you leave the marsh on your left-hand side as you did today. Are you coming to Launceston with me on Christmas Eve ?"

" What will you be doing over to Launceston, Jem Merlyn ? "

" Only selling Mr. Bassat's black pony for him, my dear. You'd be best away from Jamaica Inn that day, if I know anything about my brother. He'll be just recovering from his brandy-bed by then and looking for trouble. If they're used to you gallivanting over the moors they'll not say anything at your absence. I'll bring you home by midnight. Say you're coming, Mary."

"Supposing you are caught in Launceston with Mr. Bassat's pony ? You would look a fool then, wouldn't you? And so would I, if they clapped me into prison alongside of you."

" No one's going to catch me ; not yet awhile, anyway. Take a risk, Mary ; don't you like excitement, that you're so careful of your own skin? They must breed you soft down Helford way."

She rose like a fish to his bait.

"All right then, Jem Merlyn, you needn't think I'm afraid. I'd just as soon be in prison as live at Jamaica Inn anyway. How do we go to Launceston ?"

"I'll take you there in the jingle, with Mr. Bassat's black pony behind us. Do you know your way to North Hill, across the moor ?"

" No, I do not."

" You only have to follow your nose. Go a mile along the high road, and you'll come to a gap in the hedge on the top of the hill, bearing to the right. You'll have Carey Tor ahead of you, and Hawk's Tor away on your right, and if you keep straight on you can't miss your way. I'll come half of the distance to meet you. We'll keep to the moor as much as we can. There'll be some travelling on the road Christmas Eve."

" What time shall I start, then ?"

" We'll let the other folk make the pace and get there in the forenoon, and the streets will be thick enough for us by two o'clock. You can leave Jamaica at eleven, if you like."

"I'll make no promises. If you don't see me you can go on your way. You forget Aunt Patience may need me."

" That's right. Make your excuses."

" There's the gate over the stream," said Mary. " You don't have to come any farther. I can find my own way. I go straight over the brow of that hill, don't I ?"

" You can give the landlord my respects, if you like, and tell him I hope his temper has improved, and his tongue also. Ask him if he'd care for me to hang a bunch of mistletoe on the porch of Jamaica Inn ! Mind the water. Do you want me to carry you through the gate ? You'll wet your feet."

"If I went up to my waist it wouldn't hurt me. Good afternoon, Jem Merlyn."

And Mary leapt boldly across the running brook, with one hand on the gate to guide her. Her petticoat dipped in the water, and she lifted it up out of the way. She heard Jem laugh from his bank on the other side, and she walked away up the hill without a backward glance or a wave of her hand.

Let him match himself against the men from the south, she thought; against the fellows from Helford, and Gweek, and Manaccan. There was a blacksmith at Constantine who could twist him round his little finger. Jem Merlyn had little to be proud about. A horse-thief, a common smuggler, a rogue and a murderer into the bargain, perhaps. They bred fine men on the moors, it seemed.

Mary was not afraid of him ; and to prove it she would ride beside him in his jingle to Launceston on Christmas Eve.


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