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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


At first Mary stared at the woman in disbelief. "Away from home ?" she repeated. "But that is impossible. Surely you are mistaken ?"

Her confidence had been such that she rejected instinctively this sudden and fatal blow to her plans. The woman looked offended ; she saw no reason why this stranger should doubt her word. "The vicar left Altarnun yesterday afternoon." she said. "He rode away after dinner. I ought to know, for I keep house for him."

She must have seen something of the agony of disappointment in Mary's face, for she relented and spoke with kindness. "If there is any message you would like me to give him when he does return,"" she began, but Mary shook her head hopelessly, spirit and courage gone from her in a moment with the news.

"It will be too late," she said in despair. "This is a matter of life and death. With Mr. Davey gone, I don't know where I can turn."

Once more a gleam of curiosity came into the woman's eyes. "Has someone been taken sick?" she enquired. "I could point you out where our doctor lives, if that would help you. Where have you come from tonight?"

Mary did not answer. She was thinking desperately of some way out of the situation. To come to Altarnun and then return again without help to Jamaica Inn was impossible. She could not place confidence in the village people, nor would they believe her tale. She must find someone in authority--someone who knew something of Joss Merlyn and Jamaica Inn.

"Who is the nearest magistrate ?" she said at length.

The woman puckered her brow and considered the question. "There's no one close by us here in Altarnun," she said doubtfully. "Why, the nearest would be Squire Bassat over to North Hill, and that must be over four miles from here--maybe more, maybe less. I cannot say for certain, for I have never been there. You surely would not walk out there tonight ?"

"I must," said Mary ; "there is nothing else for me to do. I must lose no time either. Forgive me for being so mysterious, but I am in great trouble, and only your vicar or a magistrate can help me. Can you tell me if the road to North Hill is hard to find ?"

"No, that's easy enough. You go two miles along the Launceston road, and then turn right by the turnpike ; but it's scarcely a walk for a maid like you after nightfall, and I'd never go myself. There's rough folk on the moors at times, and you cannot trust them. We dare not venture from our homes these days, with robbery on the high road even, and violence too."

"Thank you for your sympathy ; I am very grateful to you," said Mary, "but I have lived all my life in lonely places, and I am not afraid."

"You must please yourself," answered the woman, "but you'd best stay here and wait for the vicar, if you can."

"That is impossible," said Mary, "but when he does return, could you tell him perhaps that . . . Wait, though ; if you have pen and paper I will write him a note of explanation ; that would be better still."

"Come into my cottage here, and you may write what you will. When you have gone, I can take the note to his house at once, and leave it on his table, where he will see it as soon as he comes home."

Mary followed the woman to the cottage, and waited impatiently while she searched her kitchen for a pen. The time was slipping away fast, and the added journey to North Hill had upset every former calculation.

She could hardly return to Jamaica Inn once she had seen Mr. Bassat and still hope her absence had remained unnoticed. Her uncle would take warning from her flight, and leave the inn before the intended time. In which case her mission would have been in vain. . . . Now the woman returned with paper and quill, and Mary wrote desperately, never pausing to choose her words :

"I came here to ask your help, and you were gone," she scribbled, "By now you will have heard with horror, as everyone in the country must have done, of the wreck upon the coast on Christmas Eve. It was my uncle's doing, he and the company from Jamaica Inn ; that you will have guessed already. He knows that suspicion will fall upon him before long, and because of this he plans to leave the inn tonight, and cross the Tamar into Devon. Finding you absent, I go now with all possible haste to Mr. Bassat at North Hill, to tell everything to him, and warn him of the escape, so that he can send at once to Jamaica Inn to seize my uncle before it is too late. I am giving this note to your housekeeper, who will, I trust, lay it where your eyes will fall upon it directly you return. In haste, then,
"Mary Yellan."

This she folded and gave to the woman by her side, thanking her and assuring her that she had no fear of the road ; and so set out again upon a walk of four miles or more to North Hill. She climbed the hill from Altarnun with a heavy heart and a wretched sense of isolation.

She had placed such faith in Francis Davey that it was hard to realise even yet that by his absence he had failed her. He had not known, of course, that she needed him, and, even if he had, perhaps his plans would have come before her troubles. It was disheartening and bitter to leave the lights of Altarnun behind her, with nothing as yet accomplished. At this moment, perhaps, her uncle was thundering upon her bedroom door, calling her to answer. He would wait a moment, and then force the door. He would find her gone, and the smashed window would tell him the manner of her going. Whether this would play havoc with his plans was a matter for conjecture. She could not know. Aunt Patience was her concern, and the thought of her setting out upon the journey like a shivering dog tethered to its master made Mary run along the bare white road with fists clenched and chin thrust in the air.

She came at last to the turnpike, and turned down the narrow twisting lane as the woman in Altarnun had told her. High hedges screened the country on either side, and the dark moor was thrust away and hidden from her eyes. The road twisted and turned, as the lanes in Helford used to do, and this change of scene, coming so suddenly after the bleak high road, put faith in her once more. She cheered herself by painting a picture of the Bassat family as kindly and courteous, like the Vyvyans at Trelowarren, who would listen to her with sympathy and understanding. She had not seen the squire at his best before ; he had come upon Jamaica Inn in high ill humour and she thought now with regret of the part she had played in his deception. As for his lady, she must know now that a horse-thief had made a fool of her in Launceston market square, and it was lucky for Mary that she had not stood at Jem's side when the pony was sold back to his rightful owner. She continued with her fantasy of the Bassats, but the little incidents came back to her in spite of it, and at the bottom of her heart she looked upon the approaching interview with trepidation.

The contour of the land had changed again, and hills rose away from her, forested and dark, and somewhere beyond her ran a stream singing and breaking over stones. The moorland was no more. The moon came now, topping the farther trees, and she walked in confidence with the light blazing a path for her, leading her downwards to the valley, where the trees closed in friendliness upon her. She came at last to lodge gates and the entrance to a drive, while beyond her the lane continued to a village.

That must be North Hill, and this the manor house belonging to the squire. She went down the avenue to the house, and away in the distance a church clock struck seven. She had been about three hours already from Jamaica Inn. Her nervousness returned as she rounded upon the house, large and forbidding in the darkness, with the moon not yet risen high enough to shine kindly upon it. She swung the great bell, and the sound was met at once by the furious baying of hounds. She waited, and presently she heard footsteps from within, and the door was opened by a manservant. He called sharply at the dogs, who thrust their noses at the door, and sniffed at Mary's feet. She felt inferior and small, and was conscious of her old dress and shawl before this man who waited for her to speak. "I have come to see Mr. Bassat on very urgent business," she told him. "He would not know my name, but if he could speak to me for a few minutes I would explain. The matter is of desperate importance, otherwise I would not disturb him at such an hour, and on a Sunday night."

"Mr. Bassat left for Launceston this morning," answered the man. "He was called away hurriedly, and he has not yet returned."

This time Mary could not control herself, and a cry of despair escaped her.

"I have come some way," she said, in an agony of feeling, as though by her very distress she could bring the squire to her side. "If I do not see him within the hour something terrible will happen, and a great criminal escape the hands of the law. You look at me blankly, but I am speaking the truth. If only there was someone I could turn to . . ."

"Mrs. Bassat is at home," said the man, stung with curiosity. "Perhaps she will see you, if your business is as urgent as you say. Follow me, will you, to the library. Never mind the dogs ; they will not hurt you."

Mary crossed the hall in a dream, knowing only that her plan had failed again, through chance alone, and that she was powerless now to help herself.

The wide library, with its blazing fire, seemed unreal to her, and, accustomed as she was to the darkness, she blinked at the flood of light that met her eyes. A woman whom she recognised immediately as the fine lady from Launceston market square was sitting in a chair before the fire, reading aloud to two children, and she looked up in surprise when Mary was shown into the room.

The servant began his explanation in some excitement. "This young woman has very grave news for the squire, madam," he said. "I thought it best to show her in to you directly."

Mrs. Bassat rose to her feet at once, dropping the book from her lap.

"It isn't one of the horses, is it ?" she said. "Richards told me Solomon had been coughing and that Diamond would not take his food. With this under-groom anything may happen."

Mary shook her head. "Your household is not in trouble," she said gravely. "I bring news of another kind. If I could speak to you alone . . ."

Mrs. Bassat appeared relieved that her horses were not affected, and she spoke quickly to her children, who ran from the room, followed by the manservant.

"What can I do for you ?" she said graciously. "You look pale and fatigued. Won't you sit down ?"

Mary shook her head impatiently. "Thank you, but I must know when Mr. Bassat is returning home."

"I have no idea," replied his lady. "He was obliged to leave this morning at a moment's notice, and, to tell you the truth, I am seriously concerned about him. If this dreadful innkeeper shows fight, as he is certain to do, Mr. Bassat may be wounded, in spite of the soldiers."

"What do you mean ?" said Mary swiftly.

"Why, the squire has set out upon a highly dangerous mission. Your face is new to me, and I conclude you are not from North Hill, otherwise you would have heard of this man Merlyn who keeps an inn upon the Bodmin road. The squire has suspected him for some while of terrible crimes, but it was not until this morning that the full proof came into his hands. He departed at once for Launceston to summon help, and, from what he told me before he went, he intends to surround the inn tonight and seize the inhabitants. He will go well armed, of course, and with a large body of men, but I shall not rest until he returns."

Something in Mary's face must have warned her, for she turned very pale, and backed towards the fire, reaching out for the heavy bell-pull that hung on the wall. "You are the girl he spoke about," she said quickly, "the girl from the inn, the niece of the landlord. Stay where you are ; don't move, or I will summon my servants. You are the girl. I know it ; he described you to me. What do you want with me ?"

Mary put out her hand, her face as white as the woman's by the fire.

"I won't hurt you," she said. "Please do not ring. Let me explain. Yes, I am the girl from Jamaica Inn." Mrs. Bassat did not trust her. She watched Mary with troubled eyes, and kept her hand upon the bell-rope.

"I have no money here," she said. "I can do nothing for you. If you have come to North Hill to plead for your uncle, it is too late."

"You misunderstand me," said Mary quietly. "And the landlord of Jamaica Inn is a relative to me by marriage only. Why I have been living there does not matter now, and the story would take too long in the telling. I fear and detest him more than you or anyone in the country, and with reason. I came here to warn Mr. Bassat that the landlord intended to leave the inn tonight, and so escape justice. I have definite proof of his guilt, which I did not believe Mr. Bassat to possess. You tell me that he has already gone, and perhaps even now is at Jamaica Inn. Therefore I have wasted my time in coming here."

She sat down then, her hands in her lap, and stared blankly at the fire. She had come to the end of her resources, and for the moment she could not look ahead. All that her weary mind could tell her was that her labour of the evening had been purposeless and in vain. She need never have left her bedroom at Jamaica Inn. Mr. Bassat would have come in any case. And now, by her secret meddling, she had blundered into the very mistake she had wished to avoid. She had stayed away too long ; and by now her uncle would have guessed the truth, and in all probability made his escape. Squire Bassat and his men would ride to a deserted inn.

She lifted her eyes once more to the lady of the house. "I have done a very senseless thing in coming here," she said hopelessly. "I thought it clever, and I have only succeeded in making a fool of myself and of everyone else. My uncle will discover my room is empty, and guess at once that I have betrayed him. He will leave Jamaica Inn before Mr. Bassat arrives."

The squire's lady let go of the bell-rope now, and came towards her.

"You speak sincerely, and you have an honest face," she said kindly. "I am sorry if I misjudged you at first, but Jamaica Inn has a terrible name, and I believe anyone would have done the same had they been confronted suddenly with the landlord's niece. You have been placed in a fearful position, and I think you very brave to come here tonight, all those lonely miles, to warn my husband. I should have gone mad with fear. The question is this : what would you have me do now ? I am willing to help you in any way you think best."

"There is nothing we can do," said Mary, shaking her head. "I must wait here, I suppose, until Mr. Bassat returns. He won't be over-pleased to see me when he hears how I have blundered. God knows I deserve every reproach..."

"I will speak for you," replied Mrs. Bassat. "You could not possibly know my husband had already been informed, and I will soon smooth him down if he needs it. Be thankful you are here in safety meanwhile."

"How did the squire learn the truth so suddenly ?" asked Mary.

"I have not the slightest idea ; he was sent for very suddenly this morning, as I have told you already, and he only gave me the barest details before his horse was saddled and he was gone. Now, won't you rest yourself, and forget for the time the whole hateful business ? You are probably famished for want of food." Once more she approached the fireplace, and this time she pulled the bell-rope three or four times.

For all her worry and distress, Mary could not help seeing the irony of the situation. Here was the lady of the house offering hospitality, who a moment ago had threatened her with seizure by the same servants who would now bring her food. She thought also of the scene in the market square when this same lady, in velvet cloak and feathered hat, had paid a high price for her own pony, and she wondered whether the trickery had been discovered. If Mary's own part in the deception should come to light, Mrs. Bassat would hardly be so lavish with her hospitality.

Meanwhile the servant appeared, his inquisitive nose in the air, and was told by his mistress to bring a tray of supper for Mary, and the dogs, who had followed him into the room, came now to make friends with the stranger, wagging their tails and pushing their soft noses into her hands, accepting her as a member of the household. Her presence in the manor house at North Hill was still without reality, and, though Mary tried, she could not throw aside anxiety and relax. She felt she had no right to be sitting here before a glowing fire, when outside, in the darkness, life and death fought hand to hand before Jamaica Inn. She ate mechanically, forcing herself to swallow the food she needed, aware of the prattle of her hostess at her side, who in the mistaken kindness of her heart believed that incessant conversation about nothing at all was the only method of alleviating worry. The chatter, had she but realised, increased it, and when Mary had finished her supper and sat once more with her hands on her lap, staring at the fire, Mrs. Bassat, searching in her mind for suitable distraction, fetched an album of her own water-colours and proceeded to turn the pages for the benefit of her guest.

When the clock on the mantelpiece chimed eight o'clock in piercing tones, Mary could bear it no longer. This dragging inactivity was worse than danger and pursuit. "Forgive me," she said, rising to her feet ; "you have been so kind, and I can never thank you enough ; but I am anxious, desperately anxious. I can think of nothing but my poor aunt, who at this moment may be suffering the tortures of hell. I must know what is happening at Jamaica Inn, if I walk back there myself tonight."

Mrs. Bassat dropped her album in a flutter of distress. "Of course you are anxious. I have seen it all along, and tried to take your mind off it. How terrible it is. I am as concerned as you are, for my husband's sake. But you cannot possibly walk back there now, alone. Why, it would be after midnight before you arrived, and heaven knows what might not happen to you on the way. I will order the trap, and Richards shall go with you. He is most trustworthy and dependable, and can be armed in case of need. If there is fighting in progress, you would see it from the bottom of the hill, and would not approach until it was over. I would come with you myself, but my health is delicate at the moment and ..."

"Of course you will do nothing of the kind," said Mary swiftly. "I am used to danger and the road by night, and you are not. I shall be putting you to very great trouble in harnessing your horse at this hour and rousing your groom. I assure you I'm no longer tired, and I can walk."

But Mrs. Bassat had already pulled the bell. "Have word sent to Richards to bring the trap round immediately," she said to the astonished servant. "I will give him further orders when he arrives. Tell him there must be as little delay as possible." She then fitted Mary out with a heavy cloak and hood, thick rug and foot-warmer, protesting all the while that only her state of health prevented her from making the journey too, for which Mary was utterly thankful, Mrs. Bassat being hardly the ideal companion for so improvident and dangerous an escapade.

In a quarter of an hour the trap drove up to the door, with Richards in charge, Mary recognising him at once as the servant who had ridden with Mr. Bassat originally to Jamaica Inn. His reluctance at leaving his fireside on a Sunday night was soon overcome when he learnt his mission, and with two large pistols stuck in his belt, and orders to fire at anyone who threatened the trap, he assumed at once an air of truculence and authority hitherto unknown to him. Mary climbed in beside him, the dogs baying a chorus of farewell, and it was only when the drive twisted and the house was out of sight that Mary realised she had set out on what was probably to be a foolhardy and dangerous expedition.

Anything might have happened during the five hours she had been absent from Jamaica Inn, and even with the trap she could scarcely hope to arrive there before half-past ten. She could make no plans, and her action depended upon the moment when it came. With the moon now high in the sky and the soft air blowing upon her she felt emboldened to face disaster when it came, and this ride to the scene of action, however dangerous, was better than sitting like a helpless child listening to the prattle of Mrs. Bassat. This man Richards was armed, and she herself would use a gun if necessary. He was burning with curiosity, of course, but she gave short answers to his questions, and did not encourage him.

The drive was silent then, for the most part, with no other sound but the steady clopping of the horse's hoofs upon the road, and now and again an owl hooted from the still trees. The rustle of hedge row and the creeping country whispers were left behind when the trap came out upon the Bodmin road, and once again the dark moor stretched out on either side, lapping the road like a desert. The ribbon of the highway shone white under the moon. It wound and was lost in the fold of the farther hill, bare and untrodden. There were no travellers but themselves upon the road tonight. On Christmas Eve, when Mary had ridden here, the wind had lashed venomously at the carriage wheels, and the rain hammered the windows : now the air was still cold and strangely still, and the moor itself lay placid and silver in the moonlight. The dark tors held their sleeping faces to the sky, the granite features softened and smoothed by the light that bathed them. Theirs was a peaceful mood, and the old gods slept undisturbed.

Briskly the horse and trap covered the weary miles that Mary had walked alone. She recognised each bend in the road now, and how at times the moor encroached upon it, with high tufts of grass or twisted stem of broom.

There, beyond her in the valley, would be the lights of Altarnun, and already the Five Lanes branched out from the road like fingers from a hand.

The wild stretch to Jamaica lay before them. Even when the night was still the wind played here, bare and open as it was to every compass point, and tonight it hummed from Roughtor in the west, keen as a knife and cold, gathering the marsh smells as it came, over the bitter turf and the running streams. There was still no sign of man or beast upon the road, which rose and dipped again across the moor, and, though Mary strained her eyes and her ears, she could hear nothing. On such a night the slightest sound would be magnified, and the approach of Mr. Bassat's party, numbering, as they would, a dozen men or so, said Richards, would easily be heard two miles or more away.

"We shall find them there before us, as likely as not," he told Mary, "and the landlord, with his hands bound, breathing fire at the squire. It will be a good thing for the neighbourhood when he's put out of harm's way, and he would have been before now, if the squire could have had his way. It's a pity we were not here sooner ; there'll have been some sport in taking him, I reckon."

"Little sport if Mr. Bassat finds that his bird has flown," said Mary quietly. "Joss Merlyn knows these moors like the back of his hand, and he'll not linger once he has the start of an hour, or less than that."

"My master was bred here, same as the landlord," said Richards ; "if it comes to a chase across country, I'd lay odds on the squire every time. He's hunted here, man and boy, for nearly fifty years, I should say, and where a fox will go the squire will follow. But they'll catch this one before he starts to run, if I'm not mistaken." Mary let him continue; his occasional jerky statements did not worry her as the kindly prattle of his mistress had done, and his broad back and honest rugged face gave her some confidence in this night of strain.

They were approaching the dip in the road and the narrow bridge that spanned the river Fowey ; Mary could hear the ripple and play of the stream as it ran swiftly over the stones. The steep hill to Jamaica rose in front of them, white beneath the moon, and as the dark chimneys appeared above the crest, Richards fell silent, fumbling with the pistols in his belt, and he cleared his throat with a little nervous jerk of his head. Mary's heart beat fast now, and she held tight to the side of the trap. The horse bent to the climb, his head low, and it seemed to Mary that the clop of his hoofs rang too loudly on the surface of the road, and she wished they had been more silent.

As they drew near to the summit of the hill, Richards turned and whispered in her ear, "Would it be best for you to wait here, in the trap, by the side of the road, and I go forward and see if they are there ?"

Mary shook her head. "Better for me to go," she said, "and you follow a pace or two behind, or stay here and wait until I call. From the silence, it seems as though the squire and his party are not yet come, after all, and that the landlord has escaped. Should he be there, however --my uncle, I mean--I can risk an encounter with him, when you could not. Give me a pistol ; I shall have little to fear from him then."

"I hardly think it right for you to go alone," said the man doubtfully. "You may walk right into him, and I hear no sound from you again. It's strange, as you say, this silence. I'd expected shouting and fighting, and my master's voice topping it all. It's almost unnatural, in a way. They must have been detained in Launceston. I half fancy there'd be more wisdom if we turned aside down that track there, and waited for them to come."

"I've waited long enough tonight, and gone half mad with it," said Mary. "I'd rather come upon my uncle face to face than lie here in the ditch, seeing and hearing nothing. It's my aunt I'm thinking of. She's as innocent as a child in all this business, and I want to care for her if I can. Give me a pistol and let me go. I can tread like a cat, and I'll not run my head into a noose, I promise you." She threw off the heavy cloak and hood that had protected her from the cold nigh air, and seized hold of the pistol that he handed down to her reluctantly. "Don't follow me unless I call or give some signal," she said. "Should you hear a shot fired, then perhaps it would be as well to come after me. But come warily, for all that. There's no need for both of us to run like fools into danger. For my part, I believe my uncle to have gone."

She hoped now that he had, and by driving into Devon made an end to the whole business. The country would be rid of him, and in the cheapest possible way. He might, even as he had said, start life again, or, more likely still, dig himself in somewhere five hundred miles from Cornwall, and drink himself to death. She had no interest now in his capture ; she wanted it finished and thrust aside ; she wanted above all to lead her own life and forget him, and to put the world between her and Jamaica Inn. Revenge was an empty thing. To see him bound and helpless, surrounded by the squire and his men, would be of little satisfaction. She had spoken to Richards with confidence, but for all that she dreaded an encounter with her uncle, armed as she was ; and the thought of coming upon him suddenly in the passage of the inn, with his hands ready to strike, and his bloodshot eyes staring down upon her, made her pause in her stride, before the yard, and glance back to the dark shadow in the ditch that was Richards and the trap. Then she levelled her pistol, her finger upon the trigger, and looked round the corner of the stone wall to the yard.

It was empty. The stable door was shut. The inn was as dark and silent as when she had left it nearly seven hours before, and the windows and the door were barred. She looked up to her window, and the pane of glass gaped empty and wide, unchanged since she had climbed from it that afternoon.

There were no wheel-marks in the yard, no preparations for departure. She crept across to the stable and laid her ear against the door. She waited a moment, and then she heard the pony move restlessly in his stall ; she heard his hoofs clink on the cobbles.

Then they had not gone, and her uncle was still at Jamaica Inn.

Her heart sank ; and she wondered if she should return to Richards and the trap, and wait, as he had suggested, until Squire Bassat and his men arrived. She glanced once more at the shuttered house. Surely, if her uncle intended to leave, he would have gone before now. The cart alone would take an hour to load, and it must be nearly eleven o'clock. He might have altered his plans, and decided to go on foot, but then Aunt Patience could never accompany him. Mary hesitated ; the situation had become odd now, and unreal.

She stood by the porch and listened. She even tried the handle of the door. It was locked, of course. She ventured a little way round the corner of the house, past the entrance to the bar, and so to the patch of garden behind the kitchen. She trod softly now, keeping herself in shadow, and she came to where a chink of candlelight would show through the gap in the kitchen shutter. There was no light. She stepped close now to the shutter, and laid her eye against the slit. The kitchen was black as a pit. She laid her hand on the knob of the door, and slowly turned it. It gave, to her astonishment, and the door opened. This easy entrance, entirely unforeseen, shocked her for the moment, and she was afraid to enter.

Supposing her uncle sat on his chair, waiting for her, his gun across his knee ? She had her own pistol, but it gave her no confidence.

Very slowly she laid her face to the gap made by the door. No sound came to her. Out of the tail of her eye she could see the ashes of the fire, but the glow was almost gone. She knew then that nobody was there. Some instinct told her that the kitchen had been empty for hours. She pushed the door wide, and went inside. The room struck cold and damp. She waited until her eyes had become accustomed to the darkness, and she could make out the shape of the kitchen table, and the chair beside it. There was a candle on the table, and she thrust it into the feeble glow of the fire, where it took light, and flickered. When it burnt strong enough, she held it high above her head and looked about her. The kitchen was still strewn with the preparations for departure. There was a bundle belonging to Aunt Patience on the chair, and a heap of blankets lay on the floor ready to be rolled. In the corner of the room, where it always stood, was her uncle's gun. They had decided, then, to wait for another day, and were now abed and asleep in the room upstairs.

The door to the passage was wide open, and the silence became more oppressive than before, strangely and horribly still.

Something was not as it had been ; some sound was lacking that must account for the silence. Then Mary realised that she could not hear the clock. The ticking had stopped.

She stepped into the passage and listened again. She was right ; the house was silent because the clock had stopped. She went forward slowly, with the candle in one hand and the pistol levelled in the other. She turned the corner, where the long dark passage branched into the hall, and she saw that the clock, which stood always against the wall beside the door into the parlour had toppled forward and fallen upon its face. The glass was splintered in fragments on the stone flags, and the wood was split. The wall gaped bare where it had stood, very naked now and strange, with the paper marked a deep yellow in contrast to the faded pattern of the wall. The clock had fallen across the narrow hall, and it was not until she came to the foot of the stairs that Mary saw what was beyond.

The landlord of Jamaica Inn lay on his face amongst the wreckage.

The fallen clock had hidden him at first, for he sprawled in the shadow, one arm flung high above his head and the other fastened upon the broken splintered door. Because his legs were stretched out on either side of him, one foot jamming the wainscoting, he looked even larger in death than he did before, his great frame blocking the entrance from wall to wall.

There was blood on the stone floor ; and blood between his shoulders, dark now and nearly dry, where the knife had found him. When he was stabbed from behind he must have stretched out his hands, and stumbled, dragging at the clock; and when he fell upon his face the clock crashed with him to the ground, and he died there, clutching at the door.


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