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    Jamaica Inn

    Автор книги Daphne du Maurier

    Время прослушивания 03:42, Дата публикации

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    It was a cold grey day in late November, and although it was now only a little after two o'clock in the afternoon the dark of a winter evening seemed to have come down over the hills, hiding them in mist. The air was cold, and in spite of the tightly closed windows, it found its way into the coach. There must have been a small crack in the roof, because now and again little drops of rain fell softly through onto the leather seats. The wind blew hard, and on high ground, it blew with such force that the whole body of the coach trembled and struggled to stay upright. The wheels of the coach sank into the holes in the road, and sometimes they threw up mud against the windows, where it mixed with the rain so that any view there might have been was blocked out. The few passengers sat close together for warmth. Mary Yellan was sitting where the drops of rain came through the crack in the roof. She brushed them away with impatient fingers. Although she was only 40 miles by road from what had been her home for 23 years, she was already beginning to miss it. The courage, which was so large a part of her, and had helped her so much during the long unhappiness of her mother's illness and death, was now shaken by this rain and wind. She remembered the letter from her aunt. The writer said that the news had shocked her; that she had had no idea that her sister was ill, because it was many years since she had been in Helford. And she went on: 'There have been changes with us that you will not know about. I no longer live in Bodmin, but nearly 12 miles outside it, on the road to Launceston. It's a wild and lonely spot, and if you were to come to us I should be glad of your company in wintertime. I have asked your uncle, and he does not object, he says, if you do not talk too much and will give help when it is needed. He cannot give you money or feed you for nothing, as you will understand. He will expect your help in the bar in return for your room and meals. You see, your uncle is the landlord of Jamaica Inn.' The letter was a strange message of welcome from the smiling Aunt Patience she remembered. A cold, empty letter, giving no word of comfort, and little information, except that she must not ask for money. Aunt Patience, with her silk skirts and delicate ways, the wife of an innkeeper! So it was that Mary Yellan found herself travelling north in the coach. Villages were scattered now, and there were few smiling faces at the doors of the small houses. There were almost no trees. The wind blew and the rain came with the wind. And so the coach rolled into Bodmin, grey and unwelcoming like the hills around it, and one by one the passengers collected up their things ready to leave - all except Mary, who sat still in her corner. The driver, his face a stream of rain, looked in at the window. 'Are you going on to Launceston?' he said. 'It'll be a wild drive tonight across the moors. You can stay in Bodmin, you know, and go on by coach in the morning. There'll be no one but you going on in this coach.'