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Title: Wuthering Heights
Author: Brontë, Emily
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the 1910 John Murray edition by David Price



Wuthering Heights

by Emily Brontë



CHAPTER I


1801—I have just returned from a visit to my landlord—the solitary
neighbour that I shall be troubled with. This is certainly a beautiful
country! In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a
situation so completely removed from the stir of society. A perfect
misanthropist’s Heaven—and Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable
pair to divide the desolation between us. A capital fellow! He little
imagined how my heart warmed towards him when I beheld his black eyes
withdraw so suspiciously under their brows, as I rode up, and when his
fingers sheltered themselves, with a jealous resolution, still further
in his waistcoat, as I announced my name.

“Mr. Heathcliff?” I said.

A nod was the answer.

“Mr. Lockwood, your new tenant, sir. I do myself the honour of calling
as soon as possible after my arrival, to express the hope that I have
not inconvenienced you by my perseverance in soliciting the occupation
of Thrushcross Grange: I heard yesterday you had had some thoughts—”

“Thrushcross Grange is my own, sir,” he interrupted, wincing. “I should
not allow any one to inconvenience me, if I could hinder it—walk in!”

The “walk in” was uttered with closed teeth, and expressed the
sentiment, “Go to the Deuce!” even the gate over which he leant
manifested no sympathising movement to the words; and I think that
circumstance determined me to accept the invitation: I felt interested
in a man who seemed more exaggeratedly reserved than myself.

When he saw my horse’s breast fairly pushing the barrier, he did put
out his hand to unchain it, and then sullenly preceded me up the
causeway, calling, as we entered the court,—“Joseph, take Mr.
Lockwood’s horse; and bring up some wine.”

“Here we have the whole establishment of domestics, I suppose,” was the
reflection suggested by this compound order. “No wonder the grass grows
up between the flags, and cattle are the only hedge-cutters.”

Joseph was an elderly, nay, an old man, very old, perhaps, though hale
and sinewy. “The Lord help us!” he soliloquised in an undertone of
peevish displeasure, while relieving me of my horse: looking, meantime,
in my face so sourly that I charitably conjectured he must have need of
divine aid to digest his dinner, and his pious ejaculation had no
reference to my unexpected advent.

Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff’s dwelling. “Wuthering”
being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the
atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather.
Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed:
one may guess the power of the north wind, blowing over the edge, by
the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and
by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if
craving alms of the sun. Happily, the architect had foresight to build
it strong: the narrow windows are deeply set in the wall, and the
corners defended with large jutting stones.

Before passing the threshold, I paused to admire a quantity of
grotesque carving lavished over the front, and especially about the
principal door; above which, among a wilderness of crumbling griffins
and shameless little boys, I detected the date “1500,” and the name
“Hareton Earnshaw.” I would have made a few comments, and requested a
short history of the place from the surly owner; but his attitude at
the door appeared to demand my speedy entrance, or complete departure,
and I had no desire to aggravate his impatience previous to inspecting
the penetralium.

One stop brought us into the family sitting-room, without any
introductory lobby or passage: they call it here “the house”
pre-eminently. It includes kitchen and parlour, generally; but I
believe at Wuthering Heights the kitchen is forced to retreat
altogether into another quarter: at least I distinguished a chatter of
tongues, and a clatter of culinary utensils, deep within; and I
observed no signs of roasting, boiling, or baking, about the huge
fireplace; nor any glitter of copper saucepans and tin cullenders on
the walls. One end, indeed, reflected splendidly both light and heat
from ranks of immense pewter dishes, interspersed with silver jugs and
tankards, towering row after row, on a vast oak dresser, to the very
roof. The latter had never been under-drawn: its entire anatomy lay
bare to an inquiring eye, except where a frame of wood laden with
oatcakes and clusters of legs of beef, mutton, and ham, concealed it.
Above the chimney were sundry villainous old guns, and a couple of
horse-pistols: and, by way of ornament, three gaudily-painted canisters
disposed along its ledge. The floor was of smooth, white stone; the
chairs, high-backed, primitive structures, painted green: one or two
heavy black ones lurking in the shade. In an arch under the dresser
reposed a huge, liver-coloured bitch pointer, surrounded by a swarm of
squealing puppies; and other dogs haunted other recesses.

The apartment and furniture would have been nothing extraordinary as
belonging to a homely, northern farmer, with a stubborn countenance,
and stalwart limbs set out to advantage in knee-breeches and gaiters.
Such an individual seated in his arm-chair, his mug of ale frothing on
the round table before him, is to be seen in any circuit of five or six
miles among these hills, if you go at the right time after dinner. But
Mr. Heathcliff forms a singular contrast to his abode and style of
living. He is a dark-skinned gipsy in aspect, in dress and manners a
gentleman: that is, as much a gentleman as many a country squire:
rather slovenly, perhaps, yet not looking amiss with his negligence,
because he has an erect and handsome figure; and rather morose.
Possibly, some people might suspect him of a degree of under-bred
pride; I have a sympathetic chord within that tells me it is nothing of
the sort: I know, by instinct, his reserve springs from an aversion to
showy displays of feeling—to manifestations of mutual kindliness. He’ll
love and hate equally under cover, and esteem it a species of
impertinence to be loved or hated again. No, I’m running on too fast: I
bestow my own attributes over-liberally on him. Mr. Heathcliff may have
entirely dissimilar reasons for keeping his hand out of the way when he
meets a would-be acquaintance, to those which actuate me. Let me hope
my constitution is almost peculiar: my dear mother used to say I should
never have a comfortable home; and only last summer I proved myself
perfectly unworthy of one.

While enjoying a month of fine weather at the sea-coast, I was thrown
into the company of a most fascinating creature: a real goddess in my
eyes, as long as she took no notice of me. I “never told my love”
vocally; still, if looks have language, the merest idiot might have
guessed I was over head and ears: she understood me at last, and looked
a return—the sweetest of all imaginable looks. And what did I do? I
confess it with shame—shrunk icily into myself, like a snail; at every
glance retired colder and farther; till finally the poor innocent was
led to doubt her own senses, and, overwhelmed with confusion at her
supposed mistake, persuaded her mamma to decamp.

By this curious turn of disposition I have gained the reputation of
deliberate heartlessness; how undeserved, I alone can appreciate.

I took a seat at the end of the hearthstone opposite that towards which
my landlord advanced, and filled up an interval of silence by
attempting to caress the canine mother, who had left her nursery, and
was sneaking wolfishly to the back of my legs, her lip curled up, and
her white teeth watering for a snatch. My caress provoked a long,
guttural gnarl.

“You’d better let the dog alone,” growled Mr. Heathcliff in unison,
checking fiercer demonstrations with a punch of his foot. “She’s not
accustomed to be spoiled—not kept for a pet.” Then, striding to a side
door, he shouted again, “Joseph!”

Joseph mumbled indistinctly in the depths of the cellar, but gave no
intimation of ascending; so his master dived down to him, leaving me
_vis-à-vis_ the ruffianly bitch and a pair of grim shaggy sheep-dogs,
who shared with her a jealous guardianship over all my movements. Not
anxious to come in contact with their fangs, I sat still; but,
imagining they would scarcely understand tacit insults, I unfortunately
indulged in winking and making faces at the trio, and some turn of my
physiognomy so irritated madam, that she suddenly broke into a fury and
leapt on my knees. I flung her back, and hastened to interpose the
table between us. This proceeding aroused the whole hive: half-a-dozen
four-footed fiends, of various sizes and ages, issued from hidden dens
to the common centre. I felt my heels and coat-laps peculiar subjects
of assault; and parrying off the larger combatants as effectually as I
could with the poker, I was constrained to demand, aloud, assistance
from some of the household in re-establishing peace.

Mr. Heathcliff and his man climbed the cellar steps with vexatious
phlegm: I don’t think they moved one second faster than usual, though
the hearth was an absolute tempest of worrying and yelping. Happily, an
inhabitant of the kitchen made more dispatch; a lusty dame, with
tucked-up gown, bare arms, and fire-flushed cheeks, rushed into the
midst of us flourishing a frying-pan: and used that weapon, and her
tongue, to such purpose, that the storm subsided magically, and she
only remained, heaving like a sea after a high wind, when her master
entered on the scene.

“What the devil is the matter?” he asked, eyeing me in a manner that I
could ill endure, after this inhospitable treatment.

“What the devil, indeed!” I muttered. “The herd of possessed swine
could have had no worse spirits in them than those animals of yours,
sir. You might as well leave a stranger with a brood of tigers!”

“They won’t meddle with persons who touch nothing,” he remarked,
putting the bottle before me, and restoring the displaced table. “The
dogs do right to be vigilant. Take a glass of wine?”

“No, thank you.”

“Not bitten, are you?”

“If I had been, I would have set my signet on the biter.” Heathcliff’s
countenance relaxed into a grin.

“Come, come,” he said, “you are flurried, Mr. Lockwood. Here, take a
little wine. Guests are so exceedingly rare in this house that I and my
dogs, I am willing to own, hardly know how to receive them. Your
health, sir?”

I bowed and returned the pledge; beginning to perceive that it would be
foolish to sit sulking for the misbehaviour of a pack of curs; besides,
I felt loth to yield the fellow further amusement at my expense; since
his humour took that turn. He—probably swayed by prudential
consideration of the folly of offending a good tenant—relaxed a little
in the laconic style of chipping off his pronouns and auxiliary verbs,
and introduced what he supposed would be a subject of interest to me,—a
discourse on the advantages and disadvantages of my present place of
retirement. I found him very intelligent on the topics we touched; and
before I went home, I was encouraged so far as to volunteer another
visit to-morrow. He evidently wished no repetition of my intrusion. I
shall go, notwithstanding. It is astonishing how sociable I feel myself
compared with him.



CHAPTER II


Yesterday afternoon set in misty and cold. I had half a mind to spend
it by my study fire, instead of wading through heath and mud to
Wuthering Heights. On coming up from dinner, however, (N.B.—I dine
between twelve and one o’clock; the housekeeper, a matronly lady, taken
as a fixture along with the house, could not, or would not, comprehend
my request that I might be served at five)—on mounting the stairs with
this lazy intention, and stepping into the room, I saw a servant-girl
on her knees surrounded by brushes and coal-scuttles, and raising an
infernal dust as she extinguished the flames with heaps of cinders.
This spectacle drove me back immediately; I took my hat, and, after a
four-miles’ walk, arrived at Heathcliff’s garden-gate just in time to
escape the first feathery flakes of a snow shower.

On that bleak hill top the earth was hard with a black frost, and the
air made me shiver through every limb. Being unable to remove the
chain, I jumped over, and, running up the flagged causeway bordered
with straggling gooseberry-bushes, knocked vainly for admittance, till
my knuckles tingled and the dogs howled.

“Wretched inmates!” I ejaculated, mentally, “you deserve perpetual
isolation from your species for your churlish inhospitality. At least,
I would not keep my doors barred in the day-time. I don’t care—I will
get in!” So resolved, I grasped the latch and shook it vehemently.
Vinegar-faced Joseph projected his head from a round window of the
barn.

“What are ye for?” he shouted. “T’ maister’s down i’ t’ fowld. Go round
by th’ end o’ t’ laith, if ye went to spake to him.”

“Is there nobody inside to open the door?” I hallooed, responsively.

“There’s nobbut t’ missis; and shoo’ll not oppen ’t an ye mak’ yer
flaysome dins till neeght.”

“Why? Cannot you tell her whom I am, eh, Joseph?”

“Nor-ne me! I’ll hae no hend wi’t,” muttered the head, vanishing.

The snow began to drive thickly. I seized the handle to essay another
trial; when a young man without coat, and shouldering a pitchfork,
appeared in the yard behind. He hailed me to follow him, and, after
marching through a wash-house, and a paved area containing a coal-shed,
pump, and pigeon-cot, we at length arrived in the huge, warm, cheerful
apartment where I was formerly received. It glowed delightfully in the
radiance of an immense fire, compounded of coal, peat, and wood; and
near the table, laid for a plentiful evening meal, I was pleased to
observe the “missis,” an individual whose existence I had never
previously suspected. I bowed and waited, thinking she would bid me
take a seat. She looked at me, leaning back in her chair, and remained
motionless and mute.

“Rough weather!” I remarked. “I’m afraid, Mrs. Heathcliff, the door
must bear the consequence of your servants’ leisure attendance: I had
hard work to make them hear me.”

She never opened her mouth. I stared—she stared also: at any rate, she
kept her eyes on me in a cool, regardless manner, exceedingly
embarrassing and disagreeable.

“Sit down,” said the young man, gruffly. “He’ll be in soon.”

I obeyed; and hemmed, and called the villain Juno, who deigned, at this
second interview, to move the extreme tip of her tail, in token of
owning my acquaintance.

“A beautiful animal!” I commenced again. “Do you intend parting with
the little ones, madam?”

“They are not mine,” said the amiable hostess, more repellingly than
Heathcliff himself could have replied.

“Ah, your favourites are among these?” I continued, turning to an
obscure cushion full of something like cats.

“A strange choice of favourites!” she observed scornfully.

Unluckily, it was a heap of dead rabbits. I hemmed once more, and drew
closer to the hearth, repeating my comment on the wildness of the
evening.

“You should not have come out,” she said, rising and reaching from the
chimney-piece two of the painted canisters.

Her position before was sheltered from the light; now, I had a distinct
view of her whole figure and countenance. She was slender, and
apparently scarcely past girlhood: an admirable form, and the most
exquisite little face that I have ever had the pleasure of beholding;
small features, very fair; flaxen ringlets, or rather golden, hanging
loose on her delicate neck; and eyes, had they been agreeable in
expression, that would have been irresistible: fortunately for my
susceptible heart, the only sentiment they evinced hovered between
scorn and a kind of desperation, singularly unnatural to be detected
there. The canisters were almost out of her reach; I made a motion to
aid her; she turned upon me as a miser might turn if any one attempted
to assist him in counting his gold.

“I don’t want your help,” she snapped; “I can get them for myself.”

“I beg your pardon!” I hastened to reply.

“Were you asked to tea?” she demanded, tying an apron over her neat
black frock, and standing with a spoonful of the leaf poised over the
pot.

“I shall be glad to have a cup,” I answered.

“Were you asked?” she repeated.

“No,” I said, half smiling. “You are the proper person to ask me.”

She flung the tea back, spoon and all, and resumed her chair in a pet;
her forehead corrugated, and her red under-lip pushed out, like a
child’s ready to cry.

Meanwhile, the young man had slung on to his person a decidedly shabby
upper garment, and, erecting himself before the blaze, looked down on
me from the corner of his eyes, for all the world as if there were some
mortal feud unavenged between us. I began to doubt whether he were a
servant or not: his dress and speech were both rude, entirely devoid of
the superiority observable in Mr. and Mrs. Heathcliff; his thick brown
curls were rough and uncultivated, his whiskers encroached bearishly
over his cheeks, and his hands were embrowned like those of a common
labourer: still his bearing was free, almost haughty, and he showed
none of a domestic’s assiduity in attending on the lady of the house.
In the absence of clear proofs of his condition, I deemed it best to
abstain from noticing his curious conduct; and, five minutes
afterwards, the entrance of Heathcliff relieved me, in some measure,
from my uncomfortable state.

“You see, sir, I am come, according to promise!” I exclaimed, assuming
the cheerful; “and I fear I shall be weather-bound for half an hour, if
you can afford me shelter during that space.”

“Half an hour?” he said, shaking the white flakes from his clothes; “I
wonder you should select the thick of a snow-storm to ramble about in.
Do you know that you run a risk of being lost in the marshes? People
familiar with these moors often miss their road on such evenings; and I
can tell you there is no chance of a change at present.”

“Perhaps I can get a guide among your lads, and he might stay at the
Grange till morning—could you spare me one?”

“No, I could not.”

“Oh, indeed! Well, then, I must trust to my own sagacity.”

“Umph!”

“Are you going to mak’ the tea?” demanded he of the shabby coat,
shifting his ferocious gaze from me to the young lady.

“Is _he_ to have any?” she asked, appealing to Heathcliff.

“Get it ready, will you?” was the answer, uttered so savagely that I
started. The tone in which the words were said revealed a genuine bad
nature. I no longer felt inclined to call Heathcliff a capital fellow.
When the preparations were finished, he invited me with—“Now, sir,
bring forward your chair.” And we all, including the rustic youth, drew
round the table: an austere silence prevailing while we discussed our
meal.

I thought, if I had caused the cloud, it was my duty to make an effort
to dispel it. They could not every day sit so grim and taciturn; and it
was impossible, however ill-tempered they might be, that the universal
scowl they wore was their every-day countenance.

“It is strange,” I began, in the interval of swallowing one cup of tea
and receiving another—“it is strange how custom can mould our tastes
and ideas: many could not imagine the existence of happiness in a life
of such complete exile from the world as you spend, Mr. Heathcliff;
yet, I’ll venture to say, that, surrounded by your family, and with
your amiable lady as the presiding genius over your home and heart—”

“My amiable lady!” he interrupted, with an almost diabolical sneer on
his face. “Where is she—my amiable lady?”

“Mrs. Heathcliff, your wife, I mean.”

“Well, yes—oh, you would intimate that her spirit has taken the post of
ministering angel, and guards the fortunes of Wuthering Heights, even
when her body is gone. Is that it?”

Perceiving myself in a blunder, I attempted to correct it. I might have
seen there was too great a disparity between the ages of the parties to
make it likely that they were man and wife. One was about forty: a
period of mental vigour at which men seldom cherish the delusion of
being married for love by girls: that dream is reserved for the solace
of our declining years. The other did not look seventeen.

Then it flashed upon me—“The clown at my elbow, who is drinking his tea
out of a basin and eating his bread with unwashed hands, may be her
husband: Heathcliff junior, of course. Here is the consequence of being
buried alive: she has thrown herself away upon that boor from sheer
ignorance that better individuals existed! A sad pity—I must beware how
I cause her to regret her choice.” The last reflection may seem
conceited; it was not. My neighbour struck me as bordering on
repulsive; I knew, through experience, that I was tolerably attractive.

“Mrs. Heathcliff is my daughter-in-law,” said Heathcliff, corroborating
my surmise. He turned, as he spoke, a peculiar look in her direction: a
look of hatred; unless he has a most perverse set of facial muscles
that will not, like those of other people, interpret the language of
his soul.

“Ah, certainly—I see now: you are the favoured possessor of the
beneficent fairy,” I remarked, turning to my neighbour.

This was worse than before: the youth grew crimson, and clenched his
fist, with every appearance of a meditated assault. But he seemed to
recollect himself presently, and smothered the storm in a brutal curse,
muttered on my behalf: which, however, I took care not to notice.

“Unhappy in your conjectures, sir,” observed my host; “we neither of us
have the privilege of owning your good fairy; her mate is dead. I said
she was my daughter-in-law: therefore, she must have married my son.”

“And this young man is—”

“Not my son, assuredly.”

Heathcliff smiled again, as if it were rather too bold a jest to
attribute the paternity of that bear to him.

“My name is Hareton Earnshaw,” growled the other; “and I’d counsel you
to respect it!”

“I’ve shown no disrespect,” was my reply, laughing internally at the
dignity with which he announced himself.

He fixed his eye on me longer than I cared to return the stare, for
fear I might be tempted either to box his ears or render my hilarity
audible. I began to feel unmistakably out of place in that pleasant
family circle. The dismal spiritual atmosphere overcame, and more than
neutralised, the glowing physical comforts round me; and I resolved to
be cautious how I ventured under those rafters a third time.

The business of eating being concluded, and no one uttering a word of
sociable conversation, I approached a window to examine the weather. A
sorrowful sight I saw: dark night coming down prematurely, and sky and
hills mingled in one bitter whirl of wind and suffocating snow.

“I don’t think it possible for me to get home now without a guide,” I
could not help exclaiming. “The roads will be buried already; and, if
they were bare, I could scarcely distinguish a foot in advance.”

“Hareton, drive those dozen sheep into the barn porch. They’ll be
covered if left in the fold all night: and put a plank before them,”
said Heathcliff.

“How must I do?” I continued, with rising irritation.

There was no reply to my question; and on looking round I saw only
Joseph bringing in a pail of porridge for the dogs, and Mrs. Heathcliff
leaning over the fire, diverting herself with burning a bundle of
matches which had fallen from the chimney-piece as she restored the
tea-canister to its place. The former, when he had deposited his
burden, took a critical survey of the room, and in cracked tones grated
out—“Aw wonder how yah can faishion to stand thear i’ idleness un war,
when all on ’ems goan out! Bud yah’re a nowt, and it’s no use
talking—yah’ll niver mend o’yer ill ways, but goa raight to t’ divil,
like yer mother afore ye!”

I imagined, for a moment, that this piece of eloquence was addressed to
me; and, sufficiently enraged, stepped towards the aged rascal with an
intention of kicking him out of the door. Mrs. Heathcliff, however,
checked me by her answer.

“You scandalous old hypocrite!” she replied. “Are you not afraid of
being carried away bodily, whenever you mention the devil’s name? I
warn you to refrain from provoking me, or I’ll ask your abduction as a
special favour! Stop! look here, Joseph,” she continued, taking a long,
dark book from a shelf; “I’ll show you how far I’ve progressed in the
Black Art: I shall soon be competent to make a clear house of it. The
red cow didn’t die by chance; and your rheumatism can hardly be
reckoned among providential visitations!”

“Oh, wicked, wicked!” gasped the elder; “may the Lord deliver us from
evil!”

“No, reprobate! you are a castaway—be off, or I’ll hurt you seriously!
I’ll have you all modelled in wax and clay! and the first who passes
the limits I fix shall—I’ll not say what he shall be done to—but,
you’ll see! Go, I’m looking at you!”

The little witch put a mock malignity into her beautiful eyes, and
Joseph, trembling with sincere horror, hurried out, praying, and
ejaculating “wicked” as he went. I thought her conduct must be prompted
by a species of dreary fun; and, now that we were alone, I endeavoured
to interest her in my distress.

“Mrs. Heathcliff,” I said earnestly, “you must excuse me for troubling
you. I presume, because, with that face, I’m sure you cannot help being
good-hearted. Do point out some landmarks by which I may know my way
home: I have no more idea how to get there than you would have how to
get to London!”

“Take the road you came,” she answered, ensconcing herself in a chair,
with a candle, and the long book open before her. “It is brief advice,
but as sound as I can give.”

“Then, if you hear of me being discovered dead in a bog or a pit full
of snow, your conscience won’t whisper that it is partly your fault?”

“How so? I cannot escort you. They wouldn’t let me go to the end of the
garden wall.”

“_You_! I should be sorry to ask you to cross the threshold, for my
convenience, on such a night,” I cried. “I want you to tell me my way,
not to _show_ it: or else to persuade Mr. Heathcliff to give me a
guide.”

“Who? There is himself, Earnshaw, Zillah, Joseph and I. Which would you
have?”

“Are there no boys at the farm?”

“No; those are all.”

“Then, it follows that I am compelled to stay.”

“That you may settle with your host. I have nothing to do with it.”

“I hope it will be a lesson to you to make no more rash journeys on
these hills,” cried Heathcliff’s stern voice from the kitchen entrance.
“As to staying here, I don’t keep accommodations for visitors: you must
share a bed with Hareton or Joseph, if you do.”

“I can sleep on a chair in this room,” I replied.

“No, no! A stranger is a stranger, be he rich or poor: it will not suit
me to permit any one the range of the place while I am off guard!” said
the unmannerly wretch.

With this insult my patience was at an end. I uttered an expression of
disgust, and pushed past him into the yard, running against Earnshaw in
my haste. It was so dark that I could not see the means of exit; and,
as I wandered round, I heard another specimen of their civil behaviour
amongst each other. At first the young man appeared about to befriend
me.

“I’ll go with him as far as the park,” he said.

“You’ll go with him to hell!” exclaimed his master, or whatever
relation he bore. “And who is to look after the horses, eh?”

“A man’s life is of more consequence than one evening’s neglect of the
horses: somebody must go,” murmured Mrs. Heathcliff, more kindly than I
expected.

“Not at your command!” retorted Hareton. “If you set store on him,
you’d better be quiet.”

“Then I hope his ghost will haunt you; and I hope Mr. Heathcliff will
never get another tenant till the Grange is a ruin,” she answered,
sharply.

“Hearken, hearken, shoo’s cursing on ’em!” muttered Joseph, towards
whom I had been steering.

He sat within earshot, milking the cows by the light of a lantern,
which I seized unceremoniously, and, calling out that I would send it
back on the morrow, rushed to the nearest postern.

“Maister, maister, he’s staling t’ lanthern!” shouted the ancient,
pursuing my retreat. “Hey, Gnasher! Hey, dog! Hey Wolf, holld him,
holld him!”

On opening the little door, two hairy monsters flew at my throat,
bearing me down, and extinguishing the light; while a mingled guffaw
from Heathcliff and Hareton put the copestone on my rage and
humiliation. Fortunately, the beasts seemed more bent on stretching
their paws, and yawning, and flourishing their tails, than devouring me
alive; but they would suffer no resurrection, and I was forced to lie
till their malignant masters pleased to deliver me: then, hatless and
trembling with wrath, I ordered the miscreants to let me out—on their
peril to keep me one minute longer—with several incoherent threats of
retaliation that, in their indefinite depth of virulency, smacked of
King Lear.

The vehemence of my agitation brought on a copious bleeding at the
nose, and still Heathcliff laughed, and still I scolded. I don’t know
what would have concluded the scene, had there not been one person at
hand rather more rational than myself, and more benevolent than my
entertainer. This was Zillah, the stout housewife; who at length issued
forth to inquire into the nature of the uproar. She thought that some
of them had been laying violent hands on me; and, not daring to attack
her master, she turned her vocal artillery against the younger
scoundrel.

“Well, Mr. Earnshaw,” she cried, “I wonder what you’ll have agait next?
Are we going to murder folk on our very door-stones? I see this house
will never do for me—look at t’ poor lad, he’s fair choking! Wisht,
wisht; you mun’n’t go on so. Come in, and I’ll cure that: there now,
hold ye still.”

With these words she suddenly splashed a pint of icy water down my
neck, and pulled me into the kitchen. Mr. Heathcliff followed, his
accidental merriment expiring quickly in his habitual moroseness.

I was sick exceedingly, and dizzy, and faint; and thus compelled
perforce to accept lodgings under his roof. He told Zillah to give me a
glass of brandy, and then passed on to the inner room; while she
condoled with me on my sorry predicament, and having obeyed his orders,
whereby I was somewhat revived, ushered me to bed.



CHAPTER III


While leading the way upstairs, she recommended that I should hide the
candle, and not make a noise; for her master had an odd notion about
the chamber she would put me in, and never let anybody lodge there
willingly. I asked the reason. She did not know, she answered: she had
only lived there a year or two; and they had so many queer goings on,
she could not begin to be curious.

Too stupefied to be curious myself, I fastened my door and glanced
round for the bed. The whole furniture consisted of a chair, a
clothes-press, and a large oak case, with squares cut out near the top
resembling coach windows. Having approached this structure, I looked
inside, and perceived it to be a singular sort of old-fashioned couch,
very conveniently designed to obviate the necessity for every member of
the family having a room to himself. In fact, it formed a little
closet, and the ledge of a window, which it enclosed, served as a
table.

I slid back the panelled sides, got in with my light, pulled them
together again, and felt secure against the vigilance of Heathcliff,
and every one else.

The ledge, where I placed my candle, had a few mildewed books piled up
in one corner; and it was covered with writing scratched on the paint.
This writing, however, was nothing but a name repeated in all kinds of
characters, large and small—_Catherine Earnshaw_, here and there varied
to _Catherine Heathcliff_, and then again to _Catherine Linton_.

In vapid listlessness I leant my head against the window, and continued
spelling over Catherine Earnshaw—Heathcliff—Linton, till my eyes
closed; but they had not rested five minutes when a glare of white
letters started from the dark, as vivid as spectres—the air swarmed
with Catherines; and rousing myself to dispel the obtrusive name, I
discovered my candle-wick reclining on one of the antique volumes, and
perfuming the place with an odour of roasted calf-skin.

I snuffed it off, and, very ill at ease under the influence of cold and
lingering nausea, sat up and spread open the injured tome on my knee.
It was a Testament, in lean type, and smelling dreadfully musty: a
fly-leaf bore the inscription—“Catherine Earnshaw, her book,” and a
date some quarter of a century back.

I shut it, and took up another and another, till I had examined all.
Catherine’s library was select, and its state of dilapidation proved it
to have been well used, though not altogether for a legitimate purpose:
scarcely one chapter had escaped, a pen-and-ink commentary—at least the
appearance of one—covering every morsel of blank that the printer had
left. Some were detached sentences; other parts took the form of a
regular diary, scrawled in an unformed, childish hand. At the top of an
extra page (quite a treasure, probably, when first lighted on) I was
greatly amused to behold an excellent caricature of my friend
Joseph,—rudely, yet powerfully sketched. An immediate interest kindled
within me for the unknown Catherine, and I began forthwith to decipher
her faded hieroglyphics.

“An awful Sunday,” commenced the paragraph beneath. “I wish my father
were back again. Hindley is a detestable substitute—his conduct to
Heathcliff is atrocious—H. and I are going to rebel—we took our
initiatory step this evening.

“All day had been flooding with rain; we could not go to church, so
Joseph must needs get up a congregation in the garret; and, while
Hindley and his wife basked downstairs before a comfortable fire—doing
anything but reading their Bibles, I’ll answer for it—Heathcliff,
myself, and the unhappy ploughboy were commanded to take our
prayer-books, and mount: we were ranged in a row, on a sack of corn,
groaning and shivering, and hoping that Joseph would shiver too, so
that he might give us a short homily for his own sake. A vain idea! The
service lasted precisely three hours; and yet my brother had the face
to exclaim, when he saw us descending, ‘What, done already?’ On Sunday
evenings we used to be permitted to play, if we did not make much
noise; now a mere titter is sufficient to send us into corners.

“‘You forget you have a master here,’ says the tyrant. ‘I’ll demolish
the first who puts me out of temper! I insist on perfect sobriety and
silence. Oh, boy! was that you? Frances darling, pull his hair as you
go by: I heard him snap his fingers.’ Frances pulled his hair heartily,
and then went and seated herself on her husband’s knee, and there they
were, like two babies, kissing and talking nonsense by the hour—foolish
palaver that we should be ashamed of. We made ourselves as snug as our
means allowed in the arch of the dresser. I had just fastened our
pinafores together, and hung them up for a curtain, when in comes
Joseph, on an errand from the stables. He tears down my handiwork,
boxes my ears, and croaks:

“‘T’ maister nobbut just buried, and Sabbath not o’ered, und t’ sound
o’ t’ gospel still i’ yer lugs, and ye darr be laiking! Shame on ye!
sit ye down, ill childer! there’s good books eneugh if ye’ll read ’em:
sit ye down, and think o’ yer sowls!’

“Saying this, he compelled us so to square our positions that we might
receive from the far-off fire a dull ray to show us the text of the
lumber he thrust upon us. I could not bear the employment. I took my
dingy volume by the scroop, and hurled it into the dog-kennel, vowing I
hated a good book. Heathcliff kicked his to the same place. Then there
was a hubbub!

“‘Maister Hindley!’ shouted our chaplain. ‘Maister, coom hither! Miss
Cathy’s riven th’ back off “Th’ Helmet o’ Salvation,” un’ Heathcliff’s
pawsed his fit into t’ first part o’ “T’ Brooad Way to Destruction!”
It’s fair flaysome that ye let ’em go on this gait. Ech! th’ owd man
wad ha’ laced ’em properly—but he’s goan!’

“Hindley hurried up from his paradise on the hearth, and seizing one of
us by the collar, and the other by the arm, hurled both into the
back-kitchen; where, Joseph asseverated, ‘owd Nick’ would fetch us as
sure as we were living: and, so comforted, we each sought a separate
nook to await his advent. I reached this book, and a pot of ink from a
shelf, and pushed the house-door ajar to give me light, and I have got
the time on with writing for twenty minutes; but my companion is
impatient, and proposes that we should appropriate the dairywoman’s
cloak, and have a scamper on the moors, under its shelter. A pleasant
suggestion—and then, if the surly old man come in, he may believe his
prophecy verified—we cannot be damper, or colder, in the rain than we
are here.”

* * * * * *


I suppose Catherine fulfilled her project, for the next sentence took
up another subject: she waxed lachrymose.

“How little did I dream that Hindley would ever make me cry so!” she
wrote. “My head aches, till I cannot keep it on the pillow; and still I
can’t give over. Poor Heathcliff! Hindley calls him a vagabond, and
won’t let him sit with us, nor eat with us any more; and, he says, he
and I must not play together, and threatens to turn him out of the
house if we break his orders. He has been blaming our father (how dared
he?) for treating H. too liberally; and swears he will reduce him to
his right place—”

* * * * * *


I began to nod drowsily over the dim page: my eye wandered from
manuscript to print. I saw a red ornamented title—“Seventy Times Seven,
and the First of the Seventy-First. A Pious Discourse delivered by the
Reverend Jabez Branderham, in the Chapel of Gimmerden Sough.” And while
I was, half-consciously, worrying my brain to guess what Jabez
Branderham would make of his subject, I sank back in bed, and fell
asleep. Alas, for the effects of bad tea and bad temper! What else
could it be that made me pass such a terrible night? I don’t remember
another that I can at all compare with it since I was capable of
suffering.

I began to dream, almost before I ceased to be sensible of my locality.
I thought it was morning; and I had set out on my way home, with Joseph
for a guide. The snow lay yards deep in our road; and, as we floundered
on, my companion wearied me with constant reproaches that I had not
brought a pilgrim’s staff: telling me that I could never get into the
house without one, and boastfully flourishing a heavy-headed cudgel,
which I understood to be so denominated. For a moment I considered it
absurd that I should need such a weapon to gain admittance into my own
residence. Then a new idea flashed across me. I was not going there: we
were journeying to hear the famous Jabez Branderham preach, from the
text—“Seventy Times Seven;” and either Joseph, the preacher, or I had
committed the “First of the Seventy-First,” and were to be publicly
exposed and excommunicated.

We came to the chapel. I have passed it really in my walks, twice or
thrice; it lies in a hollow, between two hills: an elevated hollow,
near a swamp, whose peaty moisture is said to answer all the purposes
of embalming on the few corpses deposited there. The roof has been kept
whole hitherto; but as the clergyman’s stipend is only twenty pounds
per annum, and a house with two rooms, threatening speedily to
determine into one, no clergyman will undertake the duties of pastor:
especially as it is currently reported that his flock would rather let
him starve than increase the living by one penny from their own
pockets. However, in my dream, Jabez had a full and attentive
congregation; and he preached—good God! what a sermon; divided into
_four hundred and ninety_ parts, each fully equal to an ordinary
address from the pulpit, and each discussing a separate sin! Where he
searched for them, I cannot tell. He had his private manner of
interpreting the phrase, and it seemed necessary the brother should sin
different sins on every occasion. They were of the most curious
character: odd transgressions that I never imagined previously.

Oh, how weary I grow. How I writhed, and yawned, and nodded, and
revived! How I pinched and pricked myself, and rubbed my eyes, and
stood up, and sat down again, and nudged Joseph to inform me if he
would _ever_ have done. I was condemned to hear all out: finally, he
reached the “_First of the Seventy-First_.” At that crisis, a sudden
inspiration descended on me; I was moved to rise and denounce Jabez
Branderham as the sinner of the sin that no Christian need pardon.

“Sir,” I exclaimed, “sitting here within these four walls, at one
stretch, I have endured and forgiven the four hundred and ninety heads
of your discourse. Seventy times seven times have I plucked up my hat
and been about to depart—Seventy times seven times have you
preposterously forced me to resume my seat. The four hundred and
ninety-first is too much. Fellow-martyrs, have at him! Drag him down,
and crush him to atoms, that the place which knows him may know him no
more!”

“_Thou art the Man!_” cried Jabez, after a solemn pause, leaning over
his cushion. “Seventy times seven times didst thou gapingly contort thy
visage—seventy times seven did I take counsel with my soul—Lo, this is
human weakness: this also may be absolved! The First of the
Seventy-First is come. Brethren, execute upon him the judgment written.
Such honour have all His saints!”

With that concluding word, the whole assembly, exalting their pilgrim’s
staves, rushed round me in a body; and I, having no weapon to raise in
self-defence, commenced grappling with Joseph, my nearest and most
ferocious assailant, for his. In the confluence of the multitude,
several clubs crossed; blows, aimed at me, fell on other sconces.
Presently the whole chapel resounded with rappings and counter
rappings: every man’s hand was against his neighbour; and Branderham,
unwilling to remain idle, poured forth his zeal in a shower of loud
taps on the boards of the pulpit, which responded so smartly that, at
last, to my unspeakable relief, they woke me. And what was it that had
suggested the tremendous tumult? What had played Jabez’s part in the
row? Merely the branch of a fir-tree that touched my lattice as the
blast wailed by, and rattled its dry cones against the panes! I
listened doubtingly an instant; detected the disturber, then turned and
dozed, and dreamt again: if possible, still more disagreeably than
before.

This time, I remembered I was lying in the oak closet, and I heard
distinctly the gusty wind, and the driving of the snow; I heard, also,
the fir bough repeat its teasing sound, and ascribed it to the right
cause: but it annoyed me so much, that I resolved to silence it, if
possible; and, I thought, I rose and endeavoured to unhasp the
casement. The hook was soldered into the staple: a circumstance
observed by me when awake, but forgotten. “I must stop it,
nevertheless!” I muttered, knocking my knuckles through the glass, and
stretching an arm out to seize the importunate branch; instead of
which, my fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand!

The intense horror of nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my
arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed,

“Let me in—let me in!”

“Who are you?” I asked, struggling, meanwhile, to disengage myself.

“Catherine Linton,” it replied, shiveringly (why did I think of
_Linton_? I had read _Earnshaw_ twenty times for Linton)—“I’m come
home: I’d lost my way on the moor!”

As it spoke, I discerned, obscurely, a child’s face looking through the
window. Terror made me cruel; and, finding it useless to attempt
shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and
rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes:
still it wailed, “Let me in!” and maintained its tenacious grip, almost
maddening me with fear.

“How can I!” I said at length. “Let _me_ go, if you want me to let you
in!”

The fingers relaxed, I snatched mine through the hole, hurriedly piled
the books up in a pyramid against it, and stopped my ears to exclude
the lamentable prayer.

I seemed to keep them closed above a quarter of an hour; yet, the
instant I listened again, there was the doleful cry moaning on!

“Begone!” I shouted. “I’ll never let you in, not if you beg for twenty
years.”

“It is twenty years,” mourned the voice: “twenty years. I’ve been a
waif for twenty years!”

Thereat began a feeble scratching outside, and the pile of books moved
as if thrust forward.

I tried to jump up; but could not stir a limb; and so yelled aloud, in
a frenzy of fright.

To my confusion, I discovered the yell was not ideal: hasty footsteps
approached my chamber door; somebody pushed it open, with a vigorous
hand, and a light glimmered through the squares at the top of the bed.
I sat shuddering, yet, and wiping the perspiration from my forehead:
the intruder appeared to hesitate, and muttered to himself.

At last, he said, in a half-whisper, plainly not expecting an answer,

“Is any one here?”

I considered it best to confess my presence; for I knew Heathcliff’s
accents, and feared he might search further, if I kept quiet.

With this intention, I turned and opened the panels. I shall not soon
forget the effect my action produced.

Heathcliff stood near the entrance, in his shirt and trousers; with a
candle dripping over his fingers, and his face as white as the wall
behind him. The first creak of the oak startled him like an electric
shock: the light leaped from his hold to a distance of some feet, and
his agitation was so extreme, that he could hardly pick it up.

“It is only your guest, sir,” I called out, desirous to spare him the
humiliation of exposing his cowardice further. “I had the misfortune to
scream in my sleep, owing to a frightful nightmare. I’m sorry I
disturbed you.”

“Oh, God confound you, Mr. Lockwood! I wish you were at the—” commenced
my host, setting the candle on a chair, because he found it impossible
to hold it steady. “And who showed you up into this room?” he
continued, crushing his nails into his palms, and grinding his teeth to
subdue the maxillary convulsions. “Who was it? I’ve a good mind to turn
them out of the house this moment?”

“It was your servant Zillah,” I replied, flinging myself on to the
floor, and rapidly resuming my garments. “I should not care if you did,
Mr. Heathcliff; she richly deserves it. I suppose that she wanted to
get another proof that the place was haunted, at my expense. Well, it
is—swarming with ghosts and goblins! You have reason in shutting it up,
I assure you. No one will thank you for a doze in such a den!”

“What do you mean?” asked Heathcliff, “and what are you doing? Lie down
and finish out the night, since you _are_ here; but, for Heaven’s sake!
don’t repeat that horrid noise: nothing could excuse it, unless you
were having your throat cut!”

“If the little fiend had got in at the window, she probably would have
strangled me!” I returned. “I’m not going to endure the persecutions of
your hospitable ancestors again. Was not the Reverend Jabez Branderham
akin to you on the mother’s side? And that minx, Catherine Linton, or
Earnshaw, or however she was called—she must have been a
changeling—wicked little soul! She told me she had been walking the
earth these twenty years: a just punishment for her mortal
transgressions, I’ve no doubt!”

Scarcely were these words uttered when I recollected the association of
Heathcliff’s with Catherine’s name in the book, which had completely
slipped from my memory, till thus awakened. I blushed at my
inconsideration: but, without showing further consciousness of the
offence, I hastened to add—“The truth is, sir, I passed the first part
of the night in—” Here I stopped afresh—I was about to say “perusing
those old volumes,” then it would have revealed my knowledge of their
written, as well as their printed, contents; so, correcting myself, I
went on—“in spelling over the name scratched on that window-ledge. A
monotonous occupation, calculated to set me asleep, like counting, or—”

“What _can_ you mean by talking in this way to _me!_” thundered
Heathcliff with savage vehemence. “How—how _dare_ you, under my
roof?—God! he’s mad to speak so!” And he struck his forehead with rage.

I did not know whether to resent this language or pursue my
explanation; but he seemed so powerfully affected that I took pity and
proceeded with my dreams; affirming I had never heard the appellation
of “Catherine Linton” before, but reading it often over produced an
impression which personified itself when I had no longer my imagination
under control. Heathcliff gradually fell back into the shelter of the
bed, as I spoke; finally sitting down almost concealed behind it. I
guessed, however, by his irregular and intercepted breathing, that he
struggled to vanquish an excess of violent emotion. Not liking to show
him that I had heard the conflict, I continued my toilette rather
noisily, looked at my watch, and soliloquised on the length of the
night: “Not three o’clock yet! I could have taken oath it had been six.
Time stagnates here: we must surely have retired to rest at eight!”

“Always at nine in winter, and rise at four,” said my host, suppressing
a groan: and, as I fancied, by the motion of his arm’s shadow, dashing
a tear from his eyes. “Mr. Lockwood,” he added, “you may go into my
room: you’ll only be in the way, coming downstairs so early: and your
childish outcry has sent sleep to the devil for me.”

“And for me, too,” I replied. “I’ll walk in the yard till daylight, and
then I’ll be off; and you need not dread a repetition of my intrusion.
I’m now quite cured of seeking pleasure in society, be it country or
town. A sensible man ought to find sufficient company in himself.”

“Delightful company!” muttered Heathcliff. “Take the candle, and go
where you please. I shall join you directly. Keep out of the yard,
though, the dogs are unchained; and the house—Juno mounts sentinel
there, and—nay, you can only ramble about the steps and passages. But,
away with you! I’ll come in two minutes!”

I obeyed, so far as to quit the chamber; when, ignorant where the
narrow lobbies led, I stood still, and was witness, involuntarily, to a
piece of superstition on the part of my landlord which belied, oddly,
his apparent sense. He got on to the bed, and wrenched open the
lattice, bursting, as he pulled at it, into an uncontrollable passion
of tears. “Come in! come in!” he sobbed. “Cathy, do come. Oh, do—_once_
more! Oh! my heart’s darling! hear me _this_ time, Catherine, at last!”
The spectre showed a spectre’s ordinary caprice: it gave no sign of
being; but the snow and wind whirled wildly through, even reaching my
station, and blowing out the light.

There was such anguish in the gush of grief that accompanied this
raving, that my compassion made me overlook its folly, and I drew off,
half angry to have listened at all, and vexed at having related my
ridiculous nightmare, since it produced that agony; though _why_ was
beyond my comprehension. I descended cautiously to the lower regions,
and landed in the back-kitchen, where a gleam of fire, raked compactly
together, enabled me to rekindle my candle. Nothing was stirring except
a brindled, grey cat, which crept from the ashes, and saluted me with a
querulous mew.

Two benches, shaped in sections of a circle, nearly enclosed the
hearth; on one of these I stretched myself, and Grimalkin mounted the
other. We were both of us nodding ere any one invaded our retreat, and
then it was Joseph, shuffling down a wooden ladder that vanished in the
roof, through a trap: the ascent to his garret, I suppose. He cast a
sinister look at the little flame which I had enticed to play between
the ribs, swept the cat from its elevation, and bestowing himself in
the vacancy, commenced the operation of stuffing a three-inch pipe with
tobacco. My presence in his sanctum was evidently esteemed a piece of
impudence too shameful for remark: he silently applied the tube to his
lips, folded his arms, and puffed away. I let him enjoy the luxury
unannoyed; and after sucking out his last wreath, and heaving a
profound sigh, he got up, and departed as solemnly as he came.

A more elastic footstep entered next; and now I opened my mouth for a
“good-morning,” but closed it again, the salutation unachieved; for
Hareton Earnshaw was performing his orison _sotto voce_, in a series of
curses directed against every object he touched, while he rummaged a
corner for a spade or shovel to dig through the drifts. He glanced over
the back of the bench, dilating his nostrils, and thought as little of
exchanging civilities with me as with my companion the cat. I guessed,
by his preparations, that egress was allowed, and, leaving my hard
couch, made a movement to follow him. He noticed this, and thrust at an
inner door with the end of his spade, intimating by an inarticulate
sound that there was the place where I must go, if I changed my
locality.

It opened into the house, where the females were already astir; Zillah
urging flakes of flame up the chimney with a colossal bellows; and Mrs.
Heathcliff, kneeling on the hearth, reading a book by the aid of the
blaze. She held her hand interposed between the furnace-heat and her
eyes, and seemed absorbed in her occupation; desisting from it only to
chide the servant for covering her with sparks, or to push away a dog,
now and then, that snoozled its nose overforwardly into her face. I was
surprised to see Heathcliff there also. He stood by the fire, his back
towards me, just finishing a stormy scene with poor Zillah; who ever
and anon interrupted her labour to pluck up the corner of her apron,
and heave an indignant groan.

“And you, you worthless—” he broke out as I entered, turning to his
daughter-in-law, and employing an epithet as harmless as duck, or
sheep, but generally represented by a dash—. “There you are, at your
idle tricks again! The rest of them do earn their bread—you live on my
charity! Put your trash away, and find something to do. You shall pay
me for the plague of having you eternally in my sight—do you hear,
damnable jade?”

“I’ll put my trash away, because you can make me if I refuse,” answered
the young lady, closing her book, and throwing it on a chair. “But I’ll
not do anything, though you should swear your tongue out, except what I
please!”

Heathcliff lifted his hand, and the speaker sprang to a safer distance,
obviously acquainted with its weight. Having no desire to be
entertained by a cat-and-dog combat, I stepped forward briskly, as if
eager to partake the warmth of the hearth, and innocent of any
knowledge of the interrupted dispute. Each had enough decorum to
suspend further hostilities: Heathcliff placed his fists, out of
temptation, in his pockets; Mrs. Heathcliff curled her lip, and walked
to a seat far off, where she kept her word by playing the part of a
statue during the remainder of my stay. That was not long. I declined
joining their breakfast, and, at the first gleam of dawn, took an
opportunity of escaping into the free air, now clear, and still, and
cold as impalpable ice.

My landlord halloed for me to stop ere I reached the bottom of the
garden, and offered to accompany me across the moor. It was well he
did, for the whole hill-back was one billowy, white ocean; the swells
and falls not indicating corresponding rises and depressions in the
ground: many pits, at least, were filled to a level; and entire ranges
of mounds, the refuse of the quarries, blotted from the chart which my
yesterday’s walk left pictured in my mind. I had remarked on one side
of the road, at intervals of six or seven yards, a line of upright
stones, continued through the whole length of the barren: these were
erected and daubed with lime on purpose to serve as guides in the dark,
and also when a fall, like the present, confounded the deep swamps on
either hand with the firmer path: but, excepting a dirty dot pointing
up here and there, all traces of their existence had vanished: and my
companion found it necessary to warn me frequently to steer to the
right or left, when I imagined I was following, correctly, the windings
of the road.

We exchanged little conversation, and he halted at the entrance of
Thrushcross Park, saying, I could make no error there. Our adieux were
limited to a hasty bow, and then I pushed forward, trusting to my own
resources; for the porter’s lodge is untenanted as yet. The distance
from the gate to the grange is two miles; I believe I managed to make
it four, what with losing myself among the trees, and sinking up to the
neck in snow: a predicament which only those who have experienced it
can appreciate. At any rate, whatever were my wanderings, the clock
chimed twelve as I entered the house; and that gave exactly an hour for
every mile of the usual way from Wuthering Heights.

My human fixture and her satellites rushed to welcome me; exclaiming,
tumultuously, they had completely given me up: everybody conjectured
that I perished last night; and they were wondering how they must set
about the search for my remains. I bid them be quiet, now that they saw
me returned, and, benumbed to my very heart, I dragged upstairs;
whence, after putting on dry clothes, and pacing to and fro thirty or
forty minutes, to restore the animal heat, I adjourned to my study,
feeble as a kitten: almost too much so to enjoy the cheerful fire and
smoking coffee which the servant had prepared for my refreshment.



CHAPTER IV


What vain weathercocks we are! I, who had determined to hold myself
independent of all social intercourse, and thanked my stars that, at
length, I had lighted on a spot where it was next to impracticable—I,
weak wretch, after maintaining till dusk a struggle with low spirits
and solitude, was finally compelled to strike my colours; and under
pretence of gaining information concerning the necessities of my
establishment, I desired Mrs. Dean, when she brought in supper, to sit
down while I ate it; hoping sincerely she would prove a regular gossip,
and either rouse me to animation or lull me to sleep by her talk.

“You have lived here a considerable time,” I commenced; “did you not
say sixteen years?”

“Eighteen, sir: I came when the mistress was married, to wait on her;
after she died, the master retained me for his housekeeper.”

“Indeed.”

There ensued a pause. She was not a gossip, I feared; unless about her
own affairs, and those could hardly interest me. However, having
studied for an interval, with a fist on either knee, and a cloud of
meditation over her ruddy countenance, she ejaculated—“Ah, times are
greatly changed since then!”

“Yes,” I remarked, “you’ve seen a good many alterations, I suppose?”

“I have: and troubles too,” she said.

“Oh, I’ll turn the talk on my landlord’s family!” I thought to myself.
“A good subject to start! And that pretty girl-widow, I should like to
know her history: whether she be a native of the country, or, as is
more probable, an exotic that the surly _indigenae_ will not recognise
for kin.” With this intention I asked Mrs. Dean why Heathcliff let
Thrushcross Grange, and preferred living in a situation and residence
so much inferior. “Is he not rich enough to keep the estate in good
order?” I inquired.

“Rich, sir!” she returned. “He has nobody knows what money, and every
year it increases. Yes, yes, he’s rich enough to live in a finer house
than this: but he’s very near—close-handed; and, if he had meant to
flit to Thrushcross Grange, as soon as he heard of a good tenant he
could not have borne to miss the chance of getting a few hundreds more.
It is strange people should be so greedy, when they are alone in the
world!”

“He had a son, it seems?”

“Yes, he had one—he is dead.”

“And that young lady, Mrs. Heathcliff, is his widow?”

“Yes.”

“Where did she come from originally?”

“Why, sir, she is my late master’s daughter: Catherine Linton was her
maiden name. I nursed her, poor thing! I did wish Mr. Heathcliff would
remove here, and then we might have been together again.”

“What! Catherine Linton?” I exclaimed, astonished. But a minute’s
reflection convinced me it was not my ghostly Catherine. “Then,” I
continued, “my predecessor’s name was Linton?”

“It was.”

“And who is that Earnshaw: Hareton Earnshaw, who lives with Mr.
Heathcliff? Are they relations?”

“No; he is the late Mrs. Linton’s nephew.”

“The young lady’s cousin, then?”

“Yes; and her husband was her cousin also: one on the mother’s, the
other on the father’s side: Heathcliff married Mr. Linton’s sister.”

“I see the house at Wuthering Heights has ‘Earnshaw’ carved over the
front door. Are they an old family?”

“Very old, sir; and Hareton is the last of them, as our Miss Cathy is
of us—I mean, of the Lintons. Have you been to Wuthering Heights? I beg
pardon for asking; but I should like to hear how she is!”

“Mrs. Heathcliff? she looked very well, and very handsome; yet, I
think, not very happy.”

“Oh dear, I don’t wonder! And how did you like the master?”

“A rough fellow, rather, Mrs. Dean. Is not that his character?

“Rough as a saw-edge, and hard as whinstone! The less you meddle with
him the better.”

“He must have had some ups and downs in life to make him such a churl.
Do you know anything of his history?”

“It’s a cuckoo’s, sir—I know all about it: except where he was born,
and who were his parents, and how he got his money at first. And
Hareton has been cast out like an unfledged dunnock! The unfortunate
lad is the only one in all this parish that does not guess how he has
been cheated.”

“Well, Mrs. Dean, it will be a charitable deed to tell me something of
my neighbours: I feel I shall not rest if I go to bed; so be good
enough to sit and chat an hour.”

“Oh, certainly, sir! I’ll just fetch a little sewing, and then I’ll sit
as long as you please. But you’ve caught cold: I saw you shivering, and
you must have some gruel to drive it out.”

The worthy woman bustled off, and I crouched nearer the fire; my head
felt hot, and the rest of me chill: moreover, I was excited, almost to
a pitch of foolishness, through my nerves and brain. This caused me to
feel, not uncomfortable, but rather fearful (as I am still) of serious
effects from the incidents of to-day and yesterday. She returned
presently, bringing a smoking basin and a basket of work; and, having
placed the former on the hob, drew in her seat, evidently pleased to
find me so companionable.

Before I came to live here, she commenced—waiting no farther invitation
to her story—I was almost always at Wuthering Heights; because my
mother had nursed Mr. Hindley Earnshaw, that was Hareton’s father, and
I got used to playing with the children: I ran errands too, and helped
to make hay, and hung about the farm ready for anything that anybody
would set me to. One fine summer morning—it was the beginning of
harvest, I remember—Mr. Earnshaw, the old master, came downstairs,
dressed for a journey; and, after he had told Joseph what was to be
done during the day, he turned to Hindley, and Cathy, and me—for I sat
eating my porridge with them—and he said, speaking to his son, “Now, my
bonny man, I’m going to Liverpool to-day, what shall I bring you? You
may choose what you like: only let it be little, for I shall walk there
and back: sixty miles each way, that is a long spell!” Hindley named a
fiddle, and then he asked Miss Cathy; she was hardly six years old, but
she could ride any horse in the stable, and she chose a whip. He did
not forget me; for he had a kind heart, though he was rather severe
sometimes. He promised to bring me a pocketful of apples and pears, and
then he kissed his children, said good-bye, and set off.

It seemed a long while to us all—the three days of his absence—and
often did little Cathy ask when he would be home. Mrs. Earnshaw
expected him by supper-time on the third evening, and she put the meal
off hour after hour; there were no signs of his coming, however, and at
last the children got tired of running down to the gate to look. Then
it grew dark; she would have had them to bed, but they begged sadly to
be allowed to stay up; and, just about eleven o’clock, the door-latch
was raised quietly, and in stepped the master. He threw himself into a
chair, laughing and groaning, and bid them all stand off, for he was
nearly killed—he would not have such another walk for the three
kingdoms.

“And at the end of it to be flighted to death!” he said, opening his
great-coat, which he held bundled up in his arms. “See here, wife! I
was never so beaten with anything in my life: but you must e’en take it
as a gift of God; though it’s as dark almost as if it came from the
devil.”

We crowded round, and over Miss Cathy’s head I had a peep at a dirty,
ragged, black-haired child; big enough both to walk and talk: indeed,
its face looked older than Catherine’s; yet when it was set on its
feet, it only stared round, and repeated over and over again some
gibberish that nobody could understand. I was frightened, and Mrs.
Earnshaw was ready to fling it out of doors: she did fly up, asking how
he could fashion to bring that gipsy brat into the house, when they had
their own bairns to feed and fend for? What he meant to do with it, and
whether he were mad? The master tried to explain the matter; but he was
really half dead with fatigue, and all that I could make out, amongst
her scolding, was a tale of his seeing it starving, and houseless, and
as good as dumb, in the streets of Liverpool, where he picked it up and
inquired for its owner. Not a soul knew to whom it belonged, he said;
and his money and time being both limited, he thought it better to take
it home with him at once, than run into vain expenses there: because he
was determined he would not leave it as he found it. Well, the
conclusion was, that my mistress grumbled herself calm; and Mr.
Earnshaw told me to wash it, and give it clean things, and let it sleep
with the children.

Hindley and Cathy contented themselves with looking and listening till
peace was restored: then, both began searching their father’s pockets
for the presents he had promised them. The former was a boy of
fourteen, but when he drew out what had been a fiddle, crushed to
morsels in the great-coat, he blubbered aloud; and Cathy, when she
learned the master had lost her whip in attending on the stranger,
showed her humour by grinning and spitting at the stupid little thing;
earning for her pains a sound blow from her father, to teach her
cleaner manners. They entirely refused to have it in bed with them, or
even in their room; and I had no more sense, so I put it on the landing
of the stairs, hoping it might be gone on the morrow. By chance, or
else attracted by hearing his voice, it crept to Mr. Earnshaw’s door,
and there he found it on quitting his chamber. Inquiries were made as
to how it got there; I was obliged to confess, and in recompense for my
cowardice and inhumanity was sent out of the house.

This was Heathcliff’s first introduction to the family. On coming back
a few days afterwards (for I did not consider my banishment perpetual),
I found they had christened him “Heathcliff”: it was the name of a son
who died in childhood, and it has served him ever since, both for
Christian and surname. Miss Cathy and he were now very thick; but
Hindley hated him: and to say the truth I did the same; and we plagued
and went on with him shamefully: for I wasn’t reasonable enough to feel
my injustice, and the mistress never put in a word on his behalf when
she saw him wronged.

He seemed a sullen, patient child; hardened, perhaps, to ill-treatment:
he would stand Hindley’s blows without winking or shedding a tear, and
my pinches moved him only to draw in a breath and open his eyes, as if
he had hurt himself by accident, and nobody was to blame. This
endurance made old Earnshaw furious, when he discovered his son
persecuting the poor fatherless child, as he called him. He took to
Heathcliff strangely, believing all he said (for that matter, he said
precious little, and generally the truth), and petting him up far above
Cathy, who was too mischievous and wayward for a favourite.

So, from the very beginning, he bred bad feeling in the house; and at
Mrs. Earnshaw’s death, which happened in less than two years after, the
young master had learned to regard his father as an oppressor rather
than a friend, and Heathcliff as a usurper of his parent’s affections
and his privileges; and he grew bitter with brooding over these
injuries. I sympathised a while; but when the children fell ill of the
measles, and I had to tend them, and take on me the cares of a woman at
once, I changed my idea. Heathcliff was dangerously sick; and while he
lay at the worst he would have me constantly by his pillow: I suppose
he felt I did a good deal for him, and he hadn’t wit to guess that I
was compelled to do it. However, I will say this, he was the quietest
child that ever nurse watched over. The difference between him and the
others forced me to be less partial. Cathy and her brother harassed me
terribly: he was as uncomplaining as a lamb; though hardness, not
gentleness, made him give little trouble.

He got through, and the doctor affirmed it was in a great measure owing
to me, and praised me for my care. I was vain of his commendations, and
softened towards the being by whose means I earned them, and thus
Hindley lost his last ally: still I couldn’t dote on Heathcliff, and I
wondered often what my master saw to admire so much in the sullen boy;
who never, to my recollection, repaid his indulgence by any sign of
gratitude. He was not insolent to his benefactor, he was simply
insensible; though knowing perfectly the hold he had on his heart, and
conscious he had only to speak and all the house would be obliged to
bend to his wishes. As an instance, I remember Mr. Earnshaw once bought
a couple of colts at the parish fair, and gave the lads each one.
Heathcliff took the handsomest, but it soon fell lame, and when he
discovered it, he said to Hindley—

“You must exchange horses with me: I don’t like mine; and if you won’t
I shall tell your father of the three thrashings you’ve given me this
week, and show him my arm, which is black to the shoulder.” Hindley put
out his tongue, and cuffed him over the ears. “You’d better do it at
once,” he persisted, escaping to the porch (they were in the stable):
“you will have to: and if I speak of these blows, you’ll get them again
with interest.” “Off, dog!” cried Hindley, threatening him with an iron
weight used for weighing potatoes and hay. “Throw it,” he replied,
standing still, “and then I’ll tell how you boasted that you would turn
me out of doors as soon as he died, and see whether he will not turn
you out directly.” Hindley threw it, hitting him on the breast, and
down he fell, but staggered up immediately, breathless and white; and,
had not I prevented it, he would have gone just so to the master, and
got full revenge by letting his condition plead for him, intimating who
had caused it. “Take my colt, Gipsy, then!” said young Earnshaw. “And I
pray that he may break your neck: take him, and be damned, you beggarly
interloper! and wheedle my father out of all he has: only afterwards
show him what you are, imp of Satan.—And take that, I hope he’ll kick
out your brains!”

Heathcliff had gone to loose the beast, and shift it to his own stall;
he was passing behind it, when Hindley finished his speech by knocking
him under its feet, and without stopping to examine whether his hopes
were fulfilled, ran away as fast as he could. I was surprised to
witness how coolly the child gathered himself up, and went on with his
intention; exchanging saddles and all, and then sitting down on a
bundle of hay to overcome the qualm which the violent blow occasioned,
before he entered the house. I persuaded him easily to let me lay the
blame of his bruises on the horse: he minded little what tale was told
since he had what he wanted. He complained so seldom, indeed, of such
stirs as these, that I really thought him not vindictive: I was
deceived completely, as you will hear.



CHAPTER V


In the course of time Mr. Earnshaw began to fail. He had been active
and healthy, yet his strength left him suddenly; and when he was
confined to the chimney-corner he grew grievously irritable. A nothing
vexed him; and suspected slights of his authority nearly threw him into
fits. This was especially to be remarked if any one attempted to impose
upon, or domineer over, his favourite: he was painfully jealous lest a
word should be spoken amiss to him; seeming to have got into his head
the notion that, because he liked Heathcliff, all hated, and longed to
do him an ill-turn. It was a disadvantage to the lad; for the kinder
among us did not wish to fret the master, so we humoured his
partiality; and that humouring was rich nourishment to the child’s
pride and black tempers. Still it became in a manner necessary; twice,
or thrice, Hindley’s manifestation of scorn, while his father was near,
roused the old man to a fury: he seized his stick to strike him, and
shook with rage that he could not do it.

At last, our curate (we had a curate then who made the living answer by
teaching the little Lintons and Earnshaws, and farming his bit of land
himself) advised that the young man should be sent to college; and Mr.
Earnshaw agreed, though with a heavy spirit, for he said—“Hindley was
nought, and would never thrive as where he wandered.”

I hoped heartily we should have peace now. It hurt me to think the
master should be made uncomfortable by his own good deed. I fancied the
discontent of age and disease arose from his family disagreements; as
he would have it that it did: really, you know, sir, it was in his
sinking frame. We might have got on tolerably, notwithstanding, but for
two people—Miss Cathy, and Joseph, the servant: you saw him, I daresay,
up yonder. He was, and is yet most likely, the wearisomest
self-righteous Pharisee that ever ransacked a Bible to rake the
promises to himself and fling the curses to his neighbours. By his
knack of sermonising and pious discoursing, he contrived to make a
great impression on Mr. Earnshaw; and the more feeble the master
became, the more influence he gained. He was relentless in worrying him
about his soul’s concerns, and about ruling his children rigidly. He
encouraged him to regard Hindley as a reprobate; and, night after
night, he regularly grumbled out a long string of tales against
Heathcliff and Catherine: always minding to flatter Earnshaw’s weakness
by heaping the heaviest blame on the latter.

Certainly she had ways with her such as I never saw a child take up
before; and she put all of us past our patience fifty times and oftener
in a day: from the hour she came downstairs till the hour she went to
bed, we had not a minute’s security that she wouldn’t be in mischief.
Her spirits were always at high-water mark, her tongue always
going—singing, laughing, and plaguing everybody who would not do the
same. A wild, wicked slip she was—but she had the bonniest eye, the
sweetest smile, and lightest foot in the parish: and, after all, I
believe she meant no harm; for when once she made you cry in good
earnest, it seldom happened that she would not keep you company, and
oblige you to be quiet that you might comfort her. She was much too
fond of Heathcliff. The greatest punishment we could invent for her was
to keep her separate from him: yet she got chided more than any of us
on his account. In play, she liked exceedingly to act the little
mistress; using her hands freely, and commanding her companions: she
did so to me, but I would not bear slapping and ordering; and so I let
her know.

Now, Mr. Earnshaw did not understand jokes from his children: he had
always been strict and grave with them; and Catherine, on her part, had
no idea why her father should be crosser and less patient in his ailing
condition than he was in his prime. His peevish reproofs wakened in her
a naughty delight to provoke him: she was never so happy as when we
were all scolding her at once, and she defying us with her bold, saucy
look, and her ready words; turning Joseph’s religious curses into
ridicule, baiting me, and doing just what her father hated most—showing
how her pretended insolence, which he thought real, had more power over
Heathcliff than his kindness: how the boy would do _her_ bidding in
anything, and _his_ only when it suited his own inclination. After
behaving as badly as possible all day, she sometimes came fondling to
make it up at night. “Nay, Cathy,” the old man would say, “I cannot
love thee, thou’rt worse than thy brother. Go, say thy prayers, child,
and ask God’s pardon. I doubt thy mother and I must rue that we ever
reared thee!” That made her cry, at first; and then being repulsed
continually hardened her, and she laughed if I told her to say she was
sorry for her faults, and beg to be forgiven.

But the hour came, at last, that ended Mr. Earnshaw’s troubles on
earth. He died quietly in his chair one October evening, seated by the
fire-side. A high wind blustered round the house, and roared in the
chimney: it sounded wild and stormy, yet it was not cold, and we were
all together—I, a little removed from the hearth, busy at my knitting,
and Joseph reading his Bible near the table (for the servants generally
sat in the house then, after their work was done). Miss Cathy had been
sick, and that made her still; she leant against her father’s knee, and
Heathcliff was lying on the floor with his head in her lap. I remember
the master, before he fell into a doze, stroking her bonny hair—it
pleased him rarely to see her gentle—and saying, “Why canst thou not
always be a good lass, Cathy?” And she turned her face up to his, and
laughed, and answered, “Why cannot you always be a good man, father?”
But as soon as she saw him vexed again, she kissed his hand, and said
she would sing him to sleep. She began singing very low, till his
fingers dropped from hers, and his head sank on his breast. Then I told
her to hush, and not stir, for fear she should wake him. We all kept as
mute as mice a full half-hour, and should have done so longer, only
Joseph, having finished his chapter, got up and said that he must rouse
the master for prayers and bed. He stepped forward, and called him by
name, and touched his shoulder; but he would not move: so he took the
candle and looked at him. I thought there was something wrong as he set
down the light; and seizing the children each by an arm, whispered them
to “frame upstairs, and make little din—they might pray alone that
evening—he had summut to do.”

“I shall bid father good-night first,” said Catherine, putting her arms
round his neck, before we could hinder her. The poor thing discovered
her loss directly—she screamed out—“Oh, he’s dead, Heathcliff! he’s
dead!” And they both set up a heart-breaking cry.

I joined my wail to theirs, loud and bitter; but Joseph asked what we
could be thinking of to roar in that way over a saint in heaven. He
told me to put on my cloak and run to Gimmerton for the doctor and the
parson. I could not guess the use that either would be of, then.
However, I went, through wind and rain, and brought one, the doctor,
back with me; the other said he would come in the morning. Leaving
Joseph to explain matters, I ran to the children’s room: their door was
ajar, I saw they had never lain down, though it was past midnight; but
they were calmer, and did not need me to console them. The little souls
were comforting each other with better thoughts than I could have hit
on: no parson in the world ever pictured heaven so beautifully as they
did, in their innocent talk; and, while I sobbed and listened, I could
not help wishing we were all there safe together.



CHAPTER VI


Mr. Hindley came home to the funeral; and—a thing that amazed us, and
set the neighbours gossiping right and left—he brought a wife with him.
What she was, and where she was born, he never informed us: probably,
she had neither money nor name to recommend her, or he would scarcely
have kept the union from his father.

She was not one that would have disturbed the house much on her own
account. Every object she saw, the moment she crossed the threshold,
appeared to delight her; and every circumstance that took place about
her: except the preparing for the burial, and the presence of the
mourners. I thought she was half silly, from her behaviour while that
went on: she ran into her chamber, and made me come with her, though I
should have been dressing the children: and there she sat shivering and
clasping her hands, and asking repeatedly—“Are they gone yet?” Then she
began describing with hysterical emotion the effect it produced on her
to see black; and started, and trembled, and, at last, fell
a-weeping—and when I asked what was the matter, answered, she didn’t
know; but she felt so afraid of dying! I imagined her as little likely
to die as myself. She was rather thin, but young, and
fresh-complexioned, and her eyes sparkled as bright as diamonds. I did
remark, to be sure, that mounting the stairs made her breathe very
quick; that the least sudden noise set her all in a quiver, and that
she coughed troublesomely sometimes: but I knew nothing of what these
symptoms portended, and had no impulse to sympathise with her. We don’t
in general take to foreigners here, Mr. Lockwood, unless they take to
us first.

Young Earnshaw was altered considerably in the three years of his
absence. He had grown sparer, and lost his colour, and spoke and
dressed quite differently; and, on the very day of his return, he told
Joseph and me we must thenceforth quarter ourselves in the
back-kitchen, and leave the house for him. Indeed, he would have
carpeted and papered a small spare room for a parlour; but his wife
expressed such pleasure at the white floor and huge glowing fireplace,
at the pewter dishes and delf-case, and dog-kennel, and the wide space
there was to move about in where they usually sat, that he thought it
unnecessary to her comfort, and so dropped the intention.

She expressed pleasure, too, at finding a sister among her new
acquaintance; and she prattled to Catherine, and kissed her, and ran
about with her, and gave her quantities of presents, at the beginning.
Her affection tired very soon, however, and when she grew peevish,
Hindley became tyrannical. A few words from her, evincing a dislike to
Heathcliff, were enough to rouse in him all his old hatred of the boy.
He drove him from their company to the servants, deprived him of the
instructions of the curate, and insisted that he should labour out of
doors instead; compelling him to do so as hard as any other lad on the
farm.

Heathcliff bore his degradation pretty well at first, because Cathy
taught him what she learnt, and worked or played with him in the
fields. They both promised fair to grow up as rude as savages; the
young master being entirely negligent how they behaved, and what they
did, so they kept clear of him. He would not even have seen after their
going to church on Sundays, only Joseph and the curate reprimanded his
carelessness when they absented themselves; and that reminded him to
order Heathcliff a flogging, and Catherine a fast from dinner or
supper. But it was one of their chief amusements to run away to the
moors in the morning and remain there all day, and the after punishment
grew a mere thing to laugh at. The curate might set as many chapters as
he pleased for Catherine to get by heart, and Joseph might thrash
Heathcliff till his arm ached; they forgot everything the minute they
were together again: at least the minute they had contrived some
naughty plan of revenge; and many a time I’ve cried to myself to watch
them growing more reckless daily, and I not daring to speak a syllable,
for fear of losing the small power I still retained over the unfriended
creatures. One Sunday evening, it chanced that they were banished from
the sitting-room, for making a noise, or a light offence of the kind;
and when I went to call them to supper, I could discover them nowhere.
We searched the house, above and below, and the yard and stables; they
were invisible: and, at last, Hindley in a passion told us to bolt the
doors, and swore nobody should let them in that night. The household
went to bed; and I, too, anxious to lie down, opened my lattice and put
my head out to hearken, though it rained: determined to admit them in
spite of the prohibition, should they return. In a while, I
distinguished steps coming up the road, and the light of a lantern
glimmered through the gate. I threw a shawl over my head and ran to
prevent them from waking Mr. Earnshaw by knocking. There was
Heathcliff, by himself: it gave me a start to see him alone.

“Where is Miss Catherine?” I cried hurriedly. “No accident, I hope?”
“At Thrushcross Grange,” he answered; “and I would have been there too,
but they had not the manners to ask me to stay.” “Well, you will catch
it!” I said: “you’ll never be content till you’re sent about your
business. What in the world led you wandering to Thrushcross Grange?”
“Let me get off my wet clothes, and I’ll tell you all about it, Nelly,”
he replied. I bid him beware of rousing the master, and while he
undressed and I waited to put out the candle, he continued—“Cathy and I
escaped from the wash-house to have a ramble at liberty, and getting a
glimpse of the Grange lights, we thought we would just go and see
whether the Lintons passed their Sunday evenings standing shivering in
corners, while their father and mother sat eating and drinking, and
singing and laughing, and burning their eyes out before the fire. Do
you think they do? Or reading sermons, and being catechised by their
manservant, and set to learn a column of Scripture names, if they don’t
answer properly?” “Probably not,” I responded. “They are good children,
no doubt, and don’t deserve the treatment you receive, for your bad
conduct.” “Don’t cant, Nelly,” he said: “nonsense! We ran from the top
of the Heights to the park, without stopping—Catherine completely
beaten in the race, because she was barefoot. You’ll have to seek for
her shoes in the bog to-morrow. We crept through a broken hedge, groped
our way up the path, and planted ourselves on a flower-plot under the
drawing-room window. The light came from thence; they had not put up
the shutters, and the curtains were only half closed. Both of us were
able to look in by standing on the basement, and clinging to the ledge,
and we saw—ah! it was beautiful—a splendid place carpeted with crimson,
and crimson-covered chairs and tables, and a pure white ceiling
bordered by gold, a shower of glass-drops hanging in silver chains from
the centre, and shimmering with little soft tapers. Old Mr. and Mrs.
Linton were not there; Edgar and his sisters had it entirely to
themselves. Shouldn’t they have been happy? We should have thought
ourselves in heaven! And now, guess what your good children were doing?
Isabella—I believe she is eleven, a year younger than Cathy—lay
screaming at the farther end of the room, shrieking as if witches were
running red-hot needles into her. Edgar stood on the hearth weeping
silently, and in the middle of the table sat a little dog, shaking its
paw and yelping; which, from their mutual accusations, we understood
they had nearly pulled in two between them. The idiots! That was their
pleasure! to quarrel who should hold a heap of warm hair, and each
begin to cry because both, after struggling to get it, refused to take
it. We laughed outright at the petted things; we did despise them! When
would you catch me wishing to have what Catherine wanted? or find us by
ourselves, seeking entertainment in yelling, and sobbing, and rolling
on the ground, divided by the whole room? I’d not exchange, for a
thousand lives, my condition here, for Edgar Linton’s at Thrushcross
Grange—not if I might have the privilege of flinging Joseph off the
highest gable, and painting the house-front with Hindley’s blood!”

“Hush, hush!” I interrupted. “Still you have not told me, Heathcliff,
how Catherine is left behind?”

“I told you we laughed,” he answered. “The Lintons heard us, and with
one accord they shot like arrows to the door; there was silence, and
then a cry, ‘Oh, mamma, mamma! Oh, papa! Oh, mamma, come here. Oh,
papa, oh!’ They really did howl out something in that way. We made
frightful noises to terrify them still more, and then we dropped off
the ledge, because somebody was drawing the bars, and we felt we had
better flee. I had Cathy by the hand, and was urging her on, when all
at once she fell down. ‘Run, Heathcliff, run!’ she whispered. ‘They
have let the bull-dog loose, and he holds me!’ The devil had seized her
ankle, Nelly: I heard his abominable snorting. She did not yell out—no!
she would have scorned to do it, if she had been spitted on the horns
of a mad cow. I did, though: I vociferated curses enough to annihilate
any fiend in Christendom; and I got a stone and thrust it between his
jaws, and tried with all my might to cram it down his throat. A beast
of a servant came up with a lantern, at last, shouting—‘Keep fast,
Skulker, keep fast!’ He changed his note, however, when he saw
Skulker’s game. The dog was throttled off; his huge, purple tongue
hanging half a foot out of his mouth, and his pendent lips streaming
with bloody slaver. The man took Cathy up; she was sick: not from fear,
I’m certain, but from pain. He carried her in; I followed, grumbling
execrations and vengeance. ‘What prey, Robert?’ hallooed Linton from
the entrance. ‘Skulker has caught a little girl, sir,’ he replied; ‘and
there’s a lad here,’ he added, making a clutch at me, ‘who looks an
out-and-outer! Very like the robbers were for putting them through the
window to open the doors to the gang after all were asleep, that they
might murder us at their ease. Hold your tongue, you foul-mouthed
thief, you! you shall go to the gallows for this. Mr. Linton, sir,
don’t lay by your gun.’ ‘No, no, Robert,’ said the old fool. ‘The
rascals knew that yesterday was my rent-day: they thought to have me
cleverly. Come in; I’ll furnish them a reception. There, John, fasten
the chain. Give Skulker some water, Jenny. To beard a magistrate in his
stronghold, and on the Sabbath, too! Where will their insolence stop?
Oh, my dear Mary, look here! Don’t be afraid, it is but a boy—yet the
villain scowls so plainly in his face; would it not be a kindness to
the country to hang him at once, before he shows his nature in acts as
well as features?’ He pulled me under the chandelier, and Mrs. Linton
placed her spectacles on her nose and raised her hands in horror. The
cowardly children crept nearer also, Isabella lisping—‘Frightful thing!
Put him in the cellar, papa. He’s exactly like the son of the
fortune-teller that stole my tame pheasant. Isn’t he, Edgar?’

“While they examined me, Cathy came round; she heard the last speech,
and laughed. Edgar Linton, after an inquisitive stare, collected
sufficient wit to recognise her. They see us at church, you know,
though we seldom meet them elsewhere. ‘That’s Miss Earnshaw?’ he
whispered to his mother, ‘and look how Skulker has bitten her—how her
foot bleeds!’

“‘Miss Earnshaw? Nonsense!’ cried the dame; ‘Miss Earnshaw scouring the
country with a gipsy! And yet, my dear, the child is in mourning—surely
it is—and she may be lamed for life!’

“‘What culpable carelessness in her brother!’ exclaimed Mr. Linton,
turning from me to Catherine. ‘I’ve understood from Shielders’” (that
was the curate, sir) “‘that he lets her grow up in absolute heathenism.
But who is this? Where did she pick up this companion? Oho! I declare
he is that strange acquisition my late neighbour made, in his journey
to Liverpool—a little Lascar, or an American or Spanish castaway.’

“‘A wicked boy, at all events,’ remarked the old lady, ‘and quite unfit
for a decent house! Did you notice his language, Linton? I’m shocked
that my children should have heard it.’

“I recommenced cursing—don’t be angry, Nelly—and so Robert was ordered
to take me off. I refused to go without Cathy; he dragged me into the
garden, pushed the lantern into my hand, assured me that Mr. Earnshaw
should be informed of my behaviour, and, bidding me march directly,
secured the door again. The curtains were still looped up at one
corner, and I resumed my station as spy; because, if Catherine had
wished to return, I intended shattering their great glass panes to a
million of fragments, unless they let her out. She sat on the sofa
quietly. Mrs. Linton took off the grey cloak of the dairy-maid which we
had borrowed for our excursion, shaking her head and expostulating with
her, I suppose: she was a young lady, and they made a distinction
between her treatment and mine. Then the woman-servant brought a basin
of warm water, and washed her feet; and Mr. Linton mixed a tumbler of
negus, and Isabella emptied a plateful of cakes into her lap, and Edgar
stood gaping at a distance. Afterwards, they dried and combed her
beautiful hair, and gave her a pair of enormous slippers, and wheeled
her to the fire; and I left her, as merry as she could be, dividing her
food between the little dog and Skulker, whose nose she pinched as he
ate; and kindling a spark of spirit in the vacant blue eyes of the
Lintons—a dim reflection from her own enchanting face. I saw they were
full of stupid admiration; she is so immeasurably superior to them—to
everybody on earth, is she not, Nelly?”

“There will more come of this business than you reckon on,” I answered,
covering him up and extinguishing the light. “You are incurable,
Heathcliff; and Mr. Hindley will have to proceed to extremities, see if
he won’t.” My words came truer than I desired. The luckless adventure
made Earnshaw furious. And then Mr. Linton, to mend matters, paid us a
visit himself on the morrow, and read the young master such a lecture
on the road he guided his family, that he was stirred to look about
him, in earnest. Heathcliff received no flogging, but he was told that
the first word he spoke to Miss Catherine should ensure a dismissal;
and Mrs. Earnshaw undertook to keep her sister-in-law in due restraint
when she returned home; employing art, not force: with force she would
have found it impossible.



CHAPTER VII


Cathy stayed at Thrushcross Grange five weeks: till Christmas. By that
time her ankle was thoroughly cured, and her manners much improved. The
mistress visited her often in the interval, and commenced her plan of
reform by trying to raise her self-respect with fine clothes and
flattery, which she took readily; so that, instead of a wild, hatless
little savage jumping into the house, and rushing to squeeze us all
breathless, there “lighted from a handsome black pony a very dignified
person, with brown ringlets falling from the cover of a feathered
beaver, and a long cloth habit, which she was obliged to hold up with
both hands that she might sail in. Hindley lifted her from her horse,
exclaiming delightedly, “Why, Cathy, you are quite a beauty! I should
scarcely have known you: you look like a lady now. Isabella Linton is
not to be compared with her, is she, Frances?” “Isabella has not her
natural advantages,” replied his wife: “but she must mind and not grow
wild again here. Ellen, help Miss Catherine off with her things—Stay,
dear, you will disarrange your curls—let me untie your hat.”

I removed the habit, and there shone forth beneath a grand plaid silk
frock, white trousers, and burnished shoes; and, while her eyes
sparkled joyfully when the dogs came bounding up to welcome her, she
dared hardly touch them lest they should fawn upon her splendid
garments. She kissed me gently: I was all flour making the Christmas
cake, and it would not have done to give me a hug; and then she looked
round for Heathcliff. Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw watched anxiously their
meeting; thinking it would enable them to judge, in some measure, what
grounds they had for hoping to succeed in separating the two friends.

Heathcliff was hard to discover, at first. If he were careless, and
uncared for, before Catherine’s absence, he had been ten times more so
since. Nobody but I even did him the kindness to call him a dirty boy,
and bid him wash himself, once a week; and children of his age seldom
have a natural pleasure in soap and water. Therefore, not to mention
his clothes, which had seen three months’ service in mire and dust, and
his thick uncombed hair, the surface of his face and hands was dismally
beclouded. He might well skulk behind the settle, on beholding such a
bright, graceful damsel enter the house, instead of a rough-headed
counterpart of himself, as he expected. “Is Heathcliff not here?” she
demanded, pulling off her gloves, and displaying fingers wonderfully
whitened with doing nothing and staying indoors.

“Heathcliff, you may come forward,” cried Mr. Hindley, enjoying his
discomfiture, and gratified to see what a forbidding young blackguard
he would be compelled to present himself. “You may come and wish Miss
Catherine welcome, like the other servants.”

Cathy, catching a glimpse of her friend in his concealment, flew to
embrace him; she bestowed seven or eight kisses on his cheek within the
second, and then stopped, and drawing back, burst into a laugh,
exclaiming, “Why, how very black and cross you look! and how—how funny
and grim! But that’s because I’m used to Edgar and Isabella Linton.
Well, Heathcliff, have you forgotten me?”

She had some reason to put the question, for shame and pride threw
double gloom over his countenance, and kept him immovable.

“Shake hands, Heathcliff,” said Mr. Earnshaw, condescendingly; “once in
a way that is permitted.”

“I shall not,” replied the boy, finding his tongue at last; “I shall
not stand to be laughed at. I shall not bear it!” And he would have
broken from the circle, but Miss Cathy seized him again.

“I did not mean to laugh at you,” she said; “I could not hinder myself:
Heathcliff, shake hands at least! What are you sulky for? It was only
that you looked odd. If you wash your face and brush your hair, it will
be all right: but you are so dirty!”

She gazed concernedly at the dusky fingers she held in her own, and
also at her dress; which she feared had gained no embellishment from
its contact with his.

“You needn’t have touched me!” he answered, following her eye and
snatching away his hand. “I shall be as dirty as I please: and I like
to be dirty, and I will be dirty.”

With that he dashed headforemost out of the room, amid the merriment of
the master and mistress, and to the serious disturbance of Catherine;
who could not comprehend how her remarks should have produced such an
exhibition of bad temper.

After playing lady’s-maid to the new-comer, and putting my cakes in the
oven, and making the house and kitchen cheerful with great fires,
befitting Christmas-eve, I prepared to sit down and amuse myself by
singing carols, all alone; regardless of Joseph’s affirmations that he
considered the merry tunes I chose as next door to songs. He had
retired to private prayer in his chamber, and Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw
were engaging Missy’s attention by sundry gay trifles bought for her to
present to the little Lintons, as an acknowledgment of their kindness.
They had invited them to spend the morrow at Wuthering Heights, and the
invitation had been accepted, on one condition: Mrs. Linton begged that
her darlings might be kept carefully apart from that “naughty swearing
boy.”

Under these circumstances I remained solitary. I smelt the rich scent
of the heating spices; and admired the shining kitchen utensils, the
polished clock, decked in holly, the silver mugs ranged on a tray ready
to be filled with mulled ale for supper; and above all, the speckless
purity of my particular care—the scoured and well-swept floor. I gave
due inward applause to every object, and then I remembered how old
Earnshaw used to come in when all was tidied, and call me a cant lass,
and slip a shilling into my hand as a Christmas-box; and from that I
went on to think of his fondness for Heathcliff, and his dread lest he
should suffer neglect after death had removed him: and that naturally
led me to consider the poor lad’s situation now, and from singing I
changed my mind to crying. It struck me soon, however, there would be
more sense in endeavouring to repair some of his wrongs than shedding
tears over them: I got up and walked into the court to seek him. He was
not far; I found him smoothing the glossy coat of the new pony in the
stable, and feeding the other beasts, according to custom.

“Make haste, Heathcliff!” I said, “the kitchen is so comfortable; and
Joseph is upstairs: make haste, and let me dress you smart before Miss
Cathy comes out, and then you can sit together, with the whole hearth
to yourselves, and have a long chatter till bedtime.”

He proceeded with his task, and never turned his head towards me.

“Come—are you coming?” I continued. “There’s a little cake for each of
you, nearly enough; and you’ll need half-an-hour’s donning.”

I waited five minutes, but getting no answer left him. Catherine supped
with her brother and sister-in-law: Joseph and I joined at an
unsociable meal, seasoned with reproofs on one side and sauciness on
the other. His cake and cheese remained on the table all night for the
fairies. He managed to continue work till nine o’clock, and then
marched dumb and dour to his chamber. Cathy sat up late, having a world
of things to order for the reception of her new friends: she came into
the kitchen once to speak to her old one; but he was gone, and she only
stayed to ask what was the matter with him, and then went back. In the
morning he rose early; and, as it was a holiday, carried his ill-humour
on to the moors; not re-appearing till the family were departed for
church. Fasting and reflection seemed to have brought him to a better
spirit. He hung about me for a while, and having screwed up his
courage, exclaimed abruptly—“Nelly, make me decent, I’m going to be
good.”

“High time, Heathcliff,” I said; “you _have_ grieved Catherine: she’s
sorry she ever came home, I daresay! It looks as if you envied her,
because she is more thought of than you.”

The notion of _envying_ Catherine was incomprehensible to him, but the
notion of grieving her he understood clearly enough.

“Did she say she was grieved?” he inquired, looking very serious.

“She cried when I told her you were off again this morning.”

“Well, _I_ cried last night,” he returned, “and I had more reason to
cry than she.”

“Yes: you had the reason of going to bed with a proud heart and an
empty stomach,” said I. “Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves.
But, if you be ashamed of your touchiness, you must ask pardon, mind,
when she comes in. You must go up and offer to kiss her, and say—you
know best what to say; only do it heartily, and not as if you thought
her converted into a stranger by her grand dress. And now, though I
have dinner to get ready, I’ll steal time to arrange you so that Edgar
Linton shall look quite a doll beside you: and that he does. You are
younger, and yet, I’ll be bound, you are taller and twice as broad
across the shoulders; you could knock him down in a twinkling; don’t
you feel that you could?”

Heathcliff’s face brightened a moment; then it was overcast afresh, and
he sighed.

“But, Nelly, if I knocked him down twenty times, that wouldn’t make him
less handsome or me more so. I wish I had light hair and a fair skin,
and was dressed and behaved as well, and had a chance of being as rich
as he will be!”

“And cried for mamma at every turn,” I added, “and trembled if a
country lad heaved his fist against you, and sat at home all day for a
shower of rain. Oh, Heathcliff, you are showing a poor spirit! Come to
the glass, and I’ll let you see what you should wish. Do you mark those
two lines between your eyes; and those thick brows, that, instead of
rising arched, sink in the middle; and that couple of black fiends, so
deeply buried, who never open their windows boldly, but lurk glinting
under them, like devil’s spies? Wish and learn to smooth away the surly
wrinkles, to raise your lids frankly, and change the fiends to
confident, innocent angels, suspecting and doubting nothing, and always
seeing friends where they are not sure of foes. Don’t get the
expression of a vicious cur that appears to know the kicks it gets are
its dessert, and yet hates all the world, as well as the kicker, for
what it suffers.”

“In other words, I must wish for Edgar Linton’s great blue eyes and
even forehead,” he replied. “I do—and that won’t help me to them.”

“A good heart will help you to a bonny face, my lad,” I continued, “if
you were a regular black; and a bad one will turn the bonniest into
something worse than ugly. And now that we’ve done washing, and
combing, and sulking—tell me whether you don’t think yourself rather
handsome? I’ll tell you, I do. You’re fit for a prince in disguise. Who
knows but your father was Emperor of China, and your mother an Indian
queen, each of them able to buy up, with one week’s income, Wuthering
Heights and Thrushcross Grange together? And you were kidnapped by
wicked sailors and brought to England. Were I in your place, I would
frame high notions of my birth; and the thoughts of what I was should
give me courage and dignity to support the oppressions of a little
farmer!”

So I chattered on; and Heathcliff gradually lost his frown and began to
look quite pleasant, when all at once our conversation was interrupted
by a rumbling sound moving up the road and entering the court. He ran
to the window and I to the door, just in time to behold the two Lintons
descend from the family carriage, smothered in cloaks and furs, and the
Earnshaws dismount from their horses: they often rode to church in
winter. Catherine took a hand of each of the children, and brought them
into the house and set them before the fire, which quickly put colour
into their white faces.

I urged my companion to hasten now and show his amiable humour, and he
willingly obeyed; but ill luck would have it that, as he opened the
door leading from the kitchen on one side, Hindley opened it on the
other. They met, and the master, irritated at seeing him clean and
cheerful, or, perhaps, eager to keep his promise to Mrs. Linton, shoved
him back with a sudden thrust, and angrily bade Joseph “keep the fellow
out of the room—send him into the garret till dinner is over. He’ll be
cramming his fingers in the tarts and stealing the fruit, if left alone
with them a minute.”

“Nay, sir,” I could not avoid answering, “he’ll touch nothing, not he:
and I suppose he must have his share of the dainties as well as we.”

“He shall have his share of my hand, if I catch him downstairs till
dark,” cried Hindley. “Begone, you vagabond! What! you are attempting
the coxcomb, are you? Wait till I get hold of those elegant locks—see
if I won’t pull them a bit longer!”

“They are long enough already,” observed Master Linton, peeping from
the doorway; “I wonder they don’t make his head ache. It’s like a
colt’s mane over his eyes!”

He ventured this remark without any intention to insult; but
Heathcliff’s violent nature was not prepared to endure the appearance
of impertinence from one whom he seemed to hate, even then, as a rival.
He seized a tureen of hot apple sauce (the first thing that came under
his grip) and dashed it full against the speaker’s face and neck; who
instantly commenced a lament that brought Isabella and Catherine
hurrying to the place. Mr. Earnshaw snatched up the culprit directly
and conveyed him to his chamber; where, doubtless, he administered a
rough remedy to cool the fit of passion, for he appeared red and
breathless. I got the dishcloth, and rather spitefully scrubbed Edgar’s
nose and mouth, affirming it served him right for meddling. His sister
began weeping to go home, and Cathy stood by confounded, blushing for
all.

“You should not have spoken to him!” she expostulated with Master
Linton. “He was in a bad temper, and now you’ve spoilt your visit; and
he’ll be flogged: I hate him to be flogged! I can’t eat my dinner. Why
did you speak to him, Edgar?”

“I didn’t,” sobbed the youth, escaping from my hands, and finishing the
remainder of the purification with his cambric pocket-handkerchief. “I
promised mamma that I wouldn’t say one word to him, and I didn’t.”

“Well, don’t cry,” replied Catherine, contemptuously; “you’re not
killed. Don’t make more mischief; my brother is coming: be quiet! Hush,
Isabella! Has anybody hurt you?”

“There, there, children—to your seats!” cried Hindley, bustling in.
“That brute of a lad has warmed me nicely. Next time, Master Edgar,
take the law into your own fists—it will give you an appetite!”

The little party recovered its equanimity at sight of the fragrant
feast. They were hungry after their ride, and easily consoled, since no
real harm had befallen them. Mr. Earnshaw carved bountiful platefuls,
and the mistress made them merry with lively talk. I waited behind her
chair, and was pained to behold Catherine, with dry eyes and an
indifferent air, commence cutting up the wing of a goose before her.
“An unfeeling child,” I thought to myself; “how lightly she dismisses
her old playmate’s troubles. I could not have imagined her to be so
selfish.” She lifted a mouthful to her lips: then she set it down
again: her cheeks flushed, and the tears gushed over them. She slipped
her fork to the floor, and hastily dived under the cloth to conceal her
emotion. I did not call her unfeeling long; for I perceived she was in
purgatory throughout the day, and wearying to find an opportunity of
getting by herself, or paying a visit to Heathcliff, who had been
locked up by the master: as I discovered, on endeavouring to introduce
to him a private mess of victuals.

In the evening we had a dance. Cathy begged that he might be liberated
then, as Isabella Linton had no partner: her entreaties were vain, and
I was appointed to supply the deficiency. We got rid of all gloom in
the excitement of the exercise, and our pleasure was increased by the
arrival of the Gimmerton band, mustering fifteen strong: a trumpet, a
trombone, clarionets, bassoons, French horns, and a bass viol, besides
singers. They go the rounds of all the respectable houses, and receive
contributions every Christmas, and we esteemed it a first-rate treat to
hear them. After the usual carols had been sung, we set them to songs
and glees. Mrs. Earnshaw loved the music, and so they gave us plenty.

Catherine loved it too: but she said it sounded sweetest at the top of
the steps, and she went up in the dark: I followed. They shut the house
door below, never noting our absence, it was so full of people. She
made no stay at the stairs’-head, but mounted farther, to the garret
where Heathcliff was confined, and called him. He stubbornly declined
answering for a while: she persevered, and finally persuaded him to
hold communion with her through the boards. I let the poor things
converse unmolested, till I supposed the songs were going to cease, and
the singers to get some refreshment: then I clambered up the ladder to
warn her. Instead of finding her outside, I heard her voice within. The
little monkey had crept by the skylight of one garret, along the roof,
into the skylight of the other, and it was with the utmost difficulty I
could coax her out again. When she did come, Heathcliff came with her,
and she insisted that I should take him into the kitchen, as my
fellow-servant had gone to a neighbour’s, to be removed from the sound
of our “devil’s psalmody,” as it pleased him to call it. I told them I
intended by no means to encourage their tricks: but as the prisoner had
never broken his fast since yesterday’s dinner, I would wink at his
cheating Mr. Hindley that once. He went down: I set him a stool by the
fire, and offered him a quantity of good things: but he was sick and
could eat little, and my attempts to entertain him were thrown away. He
leant his two elbows on his knees, and his chin on his hands and
remained rapt in dumb meditation. On my inquiring the subject of his
thoughts, he answered gravely—“I’m trying to settle how I shall pay
Hindley back. I don’t care how long I wait, if I can only do it at
last. I hope he will not die before I do!”

“For shame, Heathcliff!” said I. “It is for God to punish wicked
people; we should learn to forgive.”

“No, God won’t have the satisfaction that I shall,” he returned. “I
only wish I knew the best way! Let me alone, and I’ll plan it out:
while I’m thinking of that I don’t feel pain.”

“But, Mr. Lockwood, I forget these tales cannot divert you. I’m annoyed
how I should dream of chattering on at such a rate; and your gruel
cold, and you nodding for bed! I could have told Heathcliff’s history,
all that you need hear, in half a dozen words.”

* * * * *


Thus interrupting herself, the housekeeper rose, and proceeded to lay
aside her sewing; but I felt incapable of moving from the hearth, and I
was very far from nodding. “Sit still, Mrs. Dean,” I cried; “do sit
still another half-hour. You’ve done just right to tell the story
leisurely. That is the method I like; and you must finish it in the
same style. I am interested in every character you have mentioned, more
or less.”

“The clock is on the stroke of eleven, sir.”

“No matter—I’m not accustomed to go to bed in the long hours. One or
two is early enough for a person who lies till ten.”

“You shouldn’t lie till ten. There’s the very prime of the morning gone
long before that time. A person who has not done one-half his day’s
work by ten o’clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.”

“Nevertheless, Mrs. Dean, resume your chair; because to-morrow I intend
lengthening the night till afternoon. I prognosticate for myself an
obstinate cold, at least.”

“I hope not, sir. Well, you must allow me to leap over some three
years; during that space Mrs. Earnshaw—”

“No, no, I’ll allow nothing of the sort! Are you acquainted with the
mood of mind in which, if you were seated alone, and the cat licking
its kitten on the rug before you, you would watch the operation so
intently that puss’s neglect of one ear would put you seriously out of
temper?”

“A terribly lazy mood, I should say.”

“On the contrary, a tiresomely active one. It is mine, at present; and,
therefore, continue minutely. I perceive that people in these regions
acquire over people in towns the value that a spider in a dungeon does
over a spider in a cottage, to their various occupants; and yet the
deepened attraction is not entirely owing to the situation of the
looker-on. They _do_ live more in earnest, more in themselves, and less
in surface, change, and frivolous external things. I could fancy a love
for life here almost possible; and I was a fixed unbeliever in any love
of a year’s standing. One state resembles setting a hungry man down to
a single dish, on which he may concentrate his entire appetite and do
it justice; the other, introducing him to a table laid out by French
cooks: he can perhaps extract as much enjoyment from the whole; but
each part is a mere atom in his regard and remembrance.”

“Oh! here we are the same as anywhere else, when you get to know us,”
observed Mrs. Dean, somewhat puzzled at my speech.

“Excuse me,” I responded; “you, my good friend, are a striking evidence
against that assertion. Excepting a few provincialisms of slight
consequence, you have no marks of the manners which I am habituated to
consider as peculiar to your class. I am sure you have thought a great
deal more than the generality of servants think. You have been
compelled to cultivate your reflective faculties for want of occasions
for frittering your life away in silly trifles.”

Mrs. Dean laughed.

“I certainly esteem myself a steady, reasonable kind of body,” she
said; “not exactly from living among the hills and seeing one set of
faces, and one series of actions, from year’s end to year’s end; but I
have undergone sharp discipline, which has taught me wisdom; and then,
I have read more than you would fancy, Mr. Lockwood. You could not open
a book in this library that I have not looked into, and got something
out of also: unless it be that range of Greek and Latin, and that of
French; and those I know one from another: it is as much as you can
expect of a poor man’s daughter. However, if I am to follow my story in
true gossip’s fashion, I had better go on; and instead of leaping three
years, I will be content to pass to the next summer—the summer of 1778,
that is nearly twenty-three years ago.”



CHAPTER VIII


On the morning of a fine June day my first bonny little nursling, and
the last of the ancient Earnshaw stock, was born. We were busy with the
hay in a far-away field, when the girl that usually brought our
breakfasts came running an hour too soon across the meadow and up the
lane, calling me as she ran.

“Oh, such a grand bairn!” she panted out. “The finest lad that ever
breathed! But the doctor says missis must go: he says she’s been in a
consumption these many months. I heard him tell Mr. Hindley: and now
she has nothing to keep her, and she’ll be dead before winter. You must
come home directly. You’re to nurse it, Nelly: to feed it with sugar
and milk, and take care of it day and night. I wish I were you, because
it will be all yours when there is no missis!”

“But is she very ill?” I asked, flinging down my rake and tying my
bonnet.

“I guess she is; yet she looks bravely,” replied the girl, “and she
talks as if she thought of living to see it grow a man. She’s out of
her head for joy, it’s such a beauty! If I were her I’m certain I
should not die: I should get better at the bare sight of it, in spite
of Kenneth. I was fairly mad at him. Dame Archer brought the cherub
down to master, in the house, and his face just began to light up, when
the old croaker steps forward, and says he—‘Earnshaw, it’s a blessing
your wife has been spared to leave you this son. When she came, I felt
convinced we shouldn’t keep her long; and now, I must tell you, the
winter will probably finish her. Don’t take on, and fret about it too
much: it can’t be helped. And besides, you should have known better
than to choose such a rush of a lass!’”

“And what did the master answer?” I inquired.

“I think he swore: but I didn’t mind him, I was straining to see the
bairn,” and she began again to describe it rapturously. I, as zealous
as herself, hurried eagerly home to admire, on my part; though I was
very sad for Hindley’s sake. He had room in his heart only for two
idols—his wife and himself: he doted on both, and adored one, and I
couldn’t conceive how he would bear the loss.

When we got to Wuthering Heights, there he stood at the front door;
and, as I passed in, I asked, “how was the baby?”

“Nearly ready to run about, Nell!” he replied, putting on a cheerful
smile.

“And the mistress?” I ventured to inquire; “the doctor says she’s—”

“Damn the doctor!” he interrupted, reddening. “Frances is quite right:
she’ll be perfectly well by this time next week. Are you going
upstairs? will you tell her that I’ll come, if she’ll promise not to
talk. I left her because she would not hold her tongue; and she
must—tell her Mr. Kenneth says she must be quiet.”

I delivered this message to Mrs. Earnshaw; she seemed in flighty
spirits, and replied merrily, “I hardly spoke a word, Ellen, and there
he has gone out twice, crying. Well, say I promise I won’t speak: but
that does not bind me not to laugh at him!”

Poor soul! Till within a week of her death that gay heart never failed
her; and her husband persisted doggedly, nay, furiously, in affirming
her health improved every day. When Kenneth warned him that his
medicines were useless at that stage of the malady, and he needn’t put
him to further expense by attending her, he retorted, “I know you need
not—she’s well—she does not want any more attendance from you! She
never was in a consumption. It was a fever; and it is gone: her pulse
is as slow as mine now, and her cheek as cool.”

He told his wife the same story, and she seemed to believe him; but one
night, while leaning on his shoulder, in the act of saying she thought
she should be able to get up to-morrow, a fit of coughing took her—a
very slight one—he raised her in his arms; she put her two hands about
his neck, her face changed, and she was dead.

As the girl had anticipated, the child Hareton fell wholly into my
hands. Mr. Earnshaw, provided he saw him healthy and never heard him
cry, was contented, as far as regarded him. For himself, he grew
desperate: his sorrow was of that kind that will not lament. He neither
wept nor prayed; he cursed and defied: execrated God and man, and gave
himself up to reckless dissipation. The servants could not bear his
tyrannical and evil conduct long: Joseph and I were the only two that
would stay. I had not the heart to leave my charge; and besides, you
know, I had been his foster-sister, and excused his behaviour more
readily than a stranger would. Joseph remained to hector over tenants
and labourers; and because it was his vocation to be where he had
plenty of wickedness to reprove.

The master’s bad ways and bad companions formed a pretty example for
Catherine and Heathcliff. His treatment of the latter was enough to
make a fiend of a saint. And, truly, it appeared as if the lad _were_
possessed of something diabolical at that period. He delighted to
witness Hindley degrading himself past redemption; and became daily
more notable for savage sullenness and ferocity. I could not half tell
what an infernal house we had. The curate dropped calling, and nobody
decent came near us, at last; unless Edgar Linton’s visits to Miss
Cathy might be an exception. At fifteen she was the queen of the
country-side; she had no peer; and she did turn out a haughty,
headstrong creature! I own I did not like her, after infancy was past;
and I vexed her frequently by trying to bring down her arrogance: she
never took an aversion to me, though. She had a wondrous constancy to
old attachments: even Heathcliff kept his hold on her affections
unalterably; and young Linton, with all his superiority, found it
difficult to make an equally deep impression. He was my late master:
that is his portrait over the fireplace. It used to hang on one side,
and his wife’s on the other; but hers has been removed, or else you
might see something of what she was. Can you make that out?

Mrs. Dean raised the candle, and I discerned a soft-featured face,
exceedingly resembling the young lady at the Heights, but more pensive
and amiable in expression. It formed a sweet picture. The long light
hair curled slightly on the temples; the eyes were large and serious;
the figure almost too graceful. I did not marvel how Catherine Earnshaw
could forget her first friend for such an individual. I marvelled much
how he, with a mind to correspond with his person, could fancy my idea
of Catherine Earnshaw.

“A very agreeable portrait,” I observed to the house-keeper. “Is it
like?”

“Yes,” she answered; “but he looked better when he was animated; that
is his everyday countenance: he wanted spirit in general.”

Catherine had kept up her acquaintance with the Lintons since her
five-weeks’ residence among them; and as she had no temptation to show
her rough side in their company, and had the sense to be ashamed of
being rude where she experienced such invariable courtesy, she imposed
unwittingly on the old lady and gentleman by her ingenious cordiality;
gained the admiration of Isabella, and the heart and soul of her
brother: acquisitions that flattered her from the first—for she was
full of ambition—and led her to adopt a double character without
exactly intending to deceive any one. In the place where she heard
Heathcliff termed a “vulgar young ruffian,” and “worse than a brute,”
she took care not to act like him; but at home she had small
inclination to practise politeness that would only be laughed at, and
restrain an unruly nature when it would bring her neither credit nor
praise.

Mr. Edgar seldom mustered courage to visit Wuthering Heights openly. He
had a terror of Earnshaw’s reputation, and shrunk from encountering
him; and yet he was always received with our best attempts at civility:
the master himself avoided offending him, knowing why he came; and if
he could not be gracious, kept out of the way. I rather think his
appearance there was distasteful to Catherine; she was not artful,
never played the coquette, and had evidently an objection to her two
friends meeting at all; for when Heathcliff expressed contempt of
Linton in his presence, she could not half coincide, as she did in his
absence; and when Linton evinced disgust and antipathy to Heathcliff,
she dared not treat his sentiments with indifference, as if
depreciation of her playmate were of scarcely any consequence to her.
I’ve had many a laugh at her perplexities and untold troubles, which
she vainly strove to hide from my mockery. That sounds ill-natured: but
she was so proud it became really impossible to pity her distresses,
till she should be chastened into more humility. She did bring herself,
finally, to confess, and to confide in me: there was not a soul else
that she might fashion into an adviser.

Mr. Hindley had gone from home one afternoon, and Heathcliff presumed
to give himself a holiday on the strength of it. He had reached the age
of sixteen then, I think, and without having bad features, or being
deficient in intellect, he contrived to convey an impression of inward
and outward repulsiveness that his present aspect retains no traces of.
In the first place, he had by that time lost the benefit of his early
education: continual hard work, begun soon and concluded late, had
extinguished any curiosity he once possessed in pursuit of knowledge,
and any love for books or learning. His childhood’s sense of
superiority, instilled into him by the favours of old Mr. Earnshaw, was
faded away. He struggled long to keep up an equality with Catherine in
her studies, and yielded with poignant though silent regret: but he
yielded completely; and there was no prevailing on him to take a step
in the way of moving upward, when he found he must, necessarily, sink
beneath his former level. Then personal appearance sympathised with
mental deterioration: he acquired a slouching gait and ignoble look;
his naturally reserved disposition was exaggerated into an almost
idiotic excess of unsociable moroseness; and he took a grim pleasure,
apparently, in exciting the aversion rather than the esteem of his few
acquaintances.

Catherine and he were constant companions still at his seasons of
respite from labour; but he had ceased to express his fondness for her
in words, and recoiled with angry suspicion from her girlish caresses,
as if conscious there could be no gratification in lavishing such marks
of affection on him. On the before-named occasion he came into the
house to announce his intention of doing nothing, while I was assisting
Miss Cathy to arrange her dress: she had not reckoned on his taking it
into his head to be idle; and imagining she would have the whole place
to herself, she managed, by some means, to inform Mr. Edgar of her
brother’s absence, and was then preparing to receive him.

“Cathy, are you busy this afternoon?” asked Heathcliff. “Are you going
anywhere?”

“No, it is raining,” she answered.

“Why have you that silk frock on, then?” he said. “Nobody coming here,
I hope?”

“Not that I know of,” stammered Miss: “but you should be in the field
now, Heathcliff. It is an hour past dinnertime: I thought you were
gone.”

“Hindley does not often free us from his accursed presence,” observed
the boy. “I’ll not work any more to-day: I’ll stay with you.”

“Oh, but Joseph will tell,” she suggested; “you’d better go!”

“Joseph is loading lime on the further side of Penistone Crags; it will
take him till dark, and he’ll never know.”

So, saying, he lounged to the fire, and sat down. Catherine reflected
an instant, with knitted brows—she found it needful to smooth the way
for an intrusion. “Isabella and Edgar Linton talked of calling this
afternoon,” she said, at the conclusion of a minute’s silence. “As it
rains, I hardly expect them; but they may come, and if they do, you run
the risk of being scolded for no good.”

“Order Ellen to say you are engaged, Cathy,” he persisted; “don’t turn
me out for those pitiful, silly friends of yours! I’m on the point,
sometimes, of complaining that they—but I’ll not—”

“That they what?” cried Catherine, gazing at him with a troubled
countenance. “Oh, Nelly!” she added petulantly, jerking her head away
from my hands, “you’ve combed my hair quite out of curl! That’s enough;
let me alone. What are you on the point of complaining about,
Heathcliff?”

“Nothing—only look at the almanack on that wall;” he pointed to a
framed sheet hanging near the window, and continued, “The crosses are
for the evenings you have spent with the Lintons, the dots for those
spent with me. Do you see? I’ve marked every day.”

“Yes—very foolish: as if I took notice!” replied Catherine, in a
peevish tone. “And where is the sense of that?”

“To show that I _do_ take notice,” said Heathcliff.

“And should I always be sitting with you?” she demanded, growing more
irritated. “What good do I get? What do you talk about? You might be
dumb, or a baby, for anything you say to amuse me, or for anything you
do, either!”

“You never told me before that I talked too little, or that you
disliked my company, Cathy!” exclaimed Heathcliff, in much agitation.

“It’s no company at all, when people know nothing and say nothing,” she
muttered.

Her companion rose up, but he hadn’t time to express his feelings
further, for a horse’s feet were heard on the flags, and having knocked
gently, young Linton entered, his face brilliant with delight at the
unexpected summon she had received. Doubtless Catherine marked the
difference between her friends, as one came in and the other went out.
The contrast resembled what you see in exchanging a bleak, hilly, coal
country for a beautiful fertile valley; and his voice and greeting were
as opposite as his aspect. He had a sweet, low manner of speaking, and
pronounced his words as you do: that’s less gruff than we talk here,
and softer.

“I’m not come too soon, am I?” he said, casting a look at me: I had
begun to wipe the plate, and tidy some drawers at the far end in the
dresser.

“No,” answered Catherine. “What are you doing there, Nelly?”

“My work, Miss,” I replied. (Mr. Hindley had given me directions to
make a third party in any private visits Linton chose to pay.)

She stepped behind me and whispered crossly, “Take yourself and your
dusters off; when company are in the house, servants don’t commence
scouring and cleaning in the room where they are!”

“It’s a good opportunity, now that master is away,” I answered aloud:
“he hates me to be fidgeting over these things in his presence. I’m
sure Mr. Edgar will excuse me.”

“I hate you to be fidgeting in _my_ presence,” exclaimed the young lady
imperiously, not allowing her guest time to speak: she had failed to
recover her equanimity since the little dispute with Heathcliff.

“I’m sorry for it, Miss Catherine,” was my response; and I proceeded
assiduously with my occupation.

She, supposing Edgar could not see her, snatched the cloth from my
hand, and pinched me, with a prolonged wrench, very spitefully on the
arm. I’ve said I did not love her, and rather relished mortifying her
vanity now and then: besides, she hurt me extremely; so I started up
from my knees, and screamed out, “Oh, Miss, that’s a nasty trick! You
have no right to nip me, and I’m not going to bear it.”

“I didn’t touch you, you lying creature!” cried she, her fingers
tingling to repeat the act, and her ears red with rage. She never had
power to conceal her passion, it always set her whole complexion in a
blaze.

“What’s that, then?” I retorted, showing a decided purple witness to
refute her.

She stamped her foot, wavered a moment, and then, irresistibly impelled
by the naughty spirit within her, slapped me on the cheek: a stinging
blow that filled both eyes with water.

“Catherine, love! Catherine!” interposed Linton, greatly shocked at the
double fault of falsehood and violence which his idol had committed.

“Leave the room, Ellen!” she repeated, trembling all over.

Little Hareton, who followed me everywhere, and was sitting near me on
the floor, at seeing my tears commenced crying himself, and sobbed out
complaints against “wicked aunt Cathy,” which drew her fury on to his
unlucky head: she seized his shoulders, and shook him till the poor
child waxed livid, and Edgar thoughtlessly laid hold of her hands to
deliver him. In an instant one was wrung free, and the astonished young
man felt it applied over his own ear in a way that could not be
mistaken for jest. He drew back in consternation. I lifted Hareton in
my arms, and walked off to the kitchen with him, leaving the door of
communication open, for I was curious to watch how they would settle
their disagreement. The insulted visitor moved to the spot where he had
laid his hat, pale and with a quivering lip.

“That’s right!” I said to myself. “Take warning and begone! It’s a
kindness to let you have a glimpse of her genuine disposition.”

“Where are you going?” demanded Catherine, advancing to the door.

He swerved aside, and attempted to pass.

“You must not go!” she exclaimed, energetically.

“I must and shall!” he replied in a subdued voice.

“No,” she persisted, grasping the handle; “not yet, Edgar Linton: sit
down; you shall not leave me in that temper. I should be miserable all
night, and I won’t be miserable for you!”

“Can I stay after you have struck me?” asked Linton.

Catherine was mute.

“You’ve made me afraid and ashamed of you,” he continued; “I’ll not
come here again!”

Her eyes began to glisten and her lids to twinkle.

“And you told a deliberate untruth!” he said.

“I didn’t!” she cried, recovering her speech; “I did nothing
deliberately. Well, go, if you please—get away! And now I’ll cry—I’ll
cry myself sick!”

She dropped down on her knees by a chair, and set to weeping in serious
earnest. Edgar persevered in his resolution as far as the court; there
he lingered. I resolved to encourage him.

“Miss is dreadfully wayward, sir,” I called out. “As bad as any marred
child: you’d better be riding home, or else she will be sick, only to
grieve us.”

The soft thing looked askance through the window: he possessed the
power to depart as much as a cat possesses the power to leave a mouse
half killed, or a bird half eaten. Ah, I thought, there will be no
saving him: he’s doomed, and flies to his fate! And so it was: he
turned abruptly, hastened into the house again, shut the door behind
him; and when I went in a while after to inform them that Earnshaw had
come home rabid drunk, ready to pull the whole place about our ears
(his ordinary frame of mind in that condition), I saw the quarrel had
merely effected a closer intimacy—had broken the outworks of youthful
timidity, and enabled them to forsake the disguise of friendship, and
confess themselves lovers.

Intelligence of Mr. Hindley’s arrival drove Linton speedily to his
horse, and Catherine to her chamber. I went to hide little Hareton, and
to take the shot out of the master’s fowling-piece, which he was fond
of playing with in his insane excitement, to the hazard of the lives of
any who provoked, or even attracted his notice too much; and I had hit
upon the plan of removing it, that he might do less mischief if he did
go the length of firing the gun.



CHAPTER IX


He entered, vociferating oaths dreadful to hear; and caught me in the
act of stowing his son away in the kitchen cupboard. Hareton was
impressed with a wholesome terror of encountering either his wild
beast’s fondness or his madman’s rage; for in one he ran a chance of
being squeezed and kissed to death, and in the other of being flung
into the fire, or dashed against the wall; and the poor thing remained
perfectly quiet wherever I chose to put him.

“There, I’ve found it out at last!” cried Hindley, pulling me back by
the skin of my neck, like a dog. “By heaven and hell, you’ve sworn
between you to murder that child! I know how it is, now, that he is
always out of my way. But, with the help of Satan, I shall make you
swallow the carving-knife, Nelly! You needn’t laugh; for I’ve just
crammed Kenneth, head-downmost, in the Black-horse marsh; and two is
the same as one—and I want to kill some of you: I shall have no rest
till I do!”

“But I don’t like the carving-knife, Mr. Hindley,” I answered; “it has
been cutting red herrings. I’d rather be shot, if you please.”

“You’d rather be damned!” he said; “and so you shall. No law in England
can hinder a man from keeping his house decent, and mine’s abominable!
Open your mouth.” He held the knife in his hand, and pushed its point
between my teeth: but, for my part, I was never much afraid of his
vagaries. I spat out, and affirmed it tasted detestably—I would not
take it on any account.

“Oh!” said he, releasing me, “I see that hideous little villain is not
Hareton: I beg your pardon, Nell. If it be, he deserves flaying alive
for not running to welcome me, and for screaming as if I were a goblin.
Unnatural cub, come hither! I’ll teach thee to impose on a
good-hearted, deluded father. Now, don’t you think the lad would be
handsomer cropped? It makes a dog fiercer, and I love something
fierce—get me a scissors—something fierce and trim! Besides, it’s
infernal affectation—devilish conceit it is, to cherish our ears—we’re
asses enough without them. Hush, child, hush! Well then, it is my
darling! wisht, dry thy eyes—there’s a joy; kiss me. What! it won’t?
Kiss me, Hareton! Damn thee, kiss me! By God, as if I would rear such a
monster! As sure as I’m living, I’ll break the brat’s neck.”

Poor Hareton was squalling and kicking in his father’s arms with all
his might, and redoubled his yells when he carried him upstairs and
lifted him over the banister. I cried out that he would frighten the
child into fits, and ran to rescue him. As I reached them, Hindley
leant forward on the rails to listen to a noise below; almost
forgetting what he had in his hands. “Who is that?” he asked, hearing
some one approaching the stairs’-foot. I leant forward also, for the
purpose of signing to Heathcliff, whose step I recognised, not to come
further; and, at the instant when my eye quitted Hareton, he gave a
sudden spring, delivered himself from the careless grasp that held him,
and fell.

There was scarcely time to experience a thrill of horror before we saw
that the little wretch was safe. Heathcliff arrived underneath just at
the critical moment; by a natural impulse he arrested his descent, and
setting him on his feet, looked up to discover the author of the
accident. A miser who has parted with a lucky lottery ticket for five
shillings, and finds next day he has lost in the bargain five thousand
pounds, could not show a blanker countenance than he did on beholding
the figure of Mr. Earnshaw above. It expressed, plainer than words
could do, the intensest anguish at having made himself the instrument
of thwarting his own revenge. Had it been dark, I daresay he would have
tried to remedy the mistake by smashing Hareton’s skull on the steps;
but, we witnessed his salvation; and I was presently below with my
precious charge pressed to my heart. Hindley descended more leisurely,
sobered and abashed.

“It is your fault, Ellen,” he said; “you should have kept him out of
sight: you should have taken him from me! Is he injured anywhere?”

“Injured!” I cried angrily; “if he is not killed, he’ll be an idiot!
Oh! I wonder his mother does not rise from her grave to see how you use
him. You’re worse than a heathen—treating your own flesh and blood in
that manner!” He attempted to touch the child, who, on finding himself
with me, sobbed off his terror directly. At the first finger his father
laid on him, however, he shrieked again louder than before, and
struggled as if he would go into convulsions.

“You shall not meddle with him!” I continued. “He hates you—they all
hate you—that’s the truth! A happy family you have; and a pretty state
you’re come to!”

“I shall come to a prettier, yet, Nelly,” laughed the misguided man,
recovering his hardness. “At present, convey yourself and him away. And
hark you, Heathcliff! clear you too quite from my reach and hearing. I
wouldn’t murder you to-night; unless, perhaps, I set the house on fire:
but that’s as my fancy goes.”

While saying this he took a pint bottle of brandy from the dresser, and
poured some into a tumbler.

“Nay, don’t!” I entreated. “Mr. Hindley, do take warning. Have mercy on
this unfortunate boy, if you care nothing for yourself!”

“Any one will do better for him than I shall,” he answered.

“Have mercy on your own soul!” I said, endeavouring to snatch the glass
from his hand.

“Not I! On the contrary, I shall have great pleasure in sending it to
perdition to punish its Maker,” exclaimed the blasphemer. “Here’s to
its hearty damnation!”

He drank the spirits and impatiently bade us go; terminating his
command with a sequel of horrid imprecations too bad to repeat or
remember.

“It’s a pity he cannot kill himself with drink,” observed Heathcliff,
muttering an echo of curses back when the door was shut. “He’s doing
his very utmost; but his constitution defies him. Mr. Kenneth says he
would wager his mare that he’ll outlive any man on this side Gimmerton,
and go to the grave a hoary sinner; unless some happy chance out of the
common course befall him.”

I went into the kitchen, and sat down to lull my little lamb to sleep.
Heathcliff, as I thought, walked through to the barn. It turned out
afterwards that he only got as far as the other side the settle, when
he flung himself on a bench by the wall, removed from the fire and
remained silent.

I was rocking Hareton on my knee, and humming a song that began,—

It was far in the night, and the bairnies grat,
The mither beneath the mools heard that,


when Miss Cathy, who had listened to the hubbub from her room, put her
head in, and whispered,—“Are you alone, Nelly?”

“Yes, Miss,” I replied.

She entered and approached the hearth. I, supposing she was going to
say something, looked up. The expression of her face seemed disturbed
and anxious. Her lips were half asunder, as if she meant to speak, and
she drew a breath; but it escaped in a sigh instead of a sentence. I
resumed my song; not having forgotten her recent behaviour.

“Where’s Heathcliff?” she said, interrupting me.

“About his work in the stable,” was my answer.

He did not contradict me; perhaps he had fallen into a doze. There
followed another long pause, during which I perceived a drop or two
trickle from Catherine’s cheek to the flags. Is she sorry for her
shameful conduct?—I asked myself. That will be a novelty: but she may
come to the point—as she will—I sha’n’t help her! No, she felt small
trouble regarding any subject, save her own concerns.

“Oh, dear!” she cried at last. “I’m very unhappy!”

“A pity,” observed I. “You’re hard to please; so many friends and so
few cares, and can’t make yourself content!”

“Nelly, will you keep a secret for me?” she pursued, kneeling down by
me, and lifting her winsome eyes to my face with that sort of look
which turns off bad temper, even when one has all the right in the
world to indulge it.

“Is it worth keeping?” I inquired, less sulkily.

“Yes, and it worries me, and I must let it out! I want to know what I
should do. To-day, Edgar Linton has asked me to marry him, and I’ve
given him an answer. Now, before I tell you whether it was a consent or
denial, you tell me which it ought to have been.”

“Really, Miss Catherine, how can I know?” I replied. “To be sure,
considering the exhibition you performed in his presence this
afternoon, I might say it would be wise to refuse him: since he asked
you after that, he must either be hopelessly stupid or a venturesome
fool.”

“If you talk so, I won’t tell you any more,” she returned, peevishly
rising to her feet. “I accepted him, Nelly. Be quick, and say whether I
was wrong!”

“You accepted him! Then what good is it discussing the matter? You have
pledged your word, and cannot retract.”

“But say whether I should have done so—do!” she exclaimed in an
irritated tone; chafing her hands together, and frowning.

“There are many things to be considered before that question can be
answered properly,” I said, sententiously. “First and foremost, do you
love Mr. Edgar?”

“Who can help it? Of course I do,” she answered.

Then I put her through the following catechism: for a girl of
twenty-two it was not injudicious.

“Why do you love him, Miss Cathy?”

“Nonsense, I do—that’s sufficient.”

“By no means; you must say why?”

“Well, because he is handsome, and pleasant to be with.”

“Bad!” was my commentary.

“And because he is young and cheerful.”

“Bad, still.”

“And because he loves me.”

“Indifferent, coming there.”

“And he will be rich, and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the
neighbourhood, and I shall be proud of having such a husband.”

“Worst of all. And now, say how you love him?”

“As everybody loves—You’re silly, Nelly.”

“Not at all—Answer.”

“I love the ground under his feet, and the air over his head, and
everything he touches, and every word he says. I love all his looks,
and all his actions, and him entirely and altogether. There now!”

“And why?”

“Nay; you are making a jest of it: it is exceedingly ill-natured! It’s
no jest to me!” said the young lady, scowling, and turning her face to
the fire.

“I’m very far from jesting, Miss Catherine,” I replied. “You love Mr.
Edgar because he is handsome, and young, and cheerful, and rich, and
loves you. The last, however, goes for nothing: you would love him
without that, probably; and with it you wouldn’t, unless he possessed
the four former attractions.”

“No, to be sure not: I should only pity him—hate him, perhaps, if he
were ugly, and a clown.”

“But there are several other handsome, rich young men in the world:
handsomer, possibly, and richer than he is. What should hinder you from
loving them?”

“If there be any, they are out of my way: I’ve seen none like Edgar.”

“You may see some; and he won’t always be handsome, and young, and may
not always be rich.”

“He is now; and I have only to do with the present. I wish you would
speak rationally.”

“Well, that settles it: if you have only to do with the present, marry
Mr. Linton.”

“I don’t want your permission for that—I _shall_ marry him: and yet you
have not told me whether I’m right.”

“Perfectly right; if people be right to marry only for the present. And
now, let us hear what you are unhappy about. Your brother will be
pleased; the old lady and gentleman will not object, I think; you will
escape from a disorderly, comfortless home into a wealthy, respectable
one; and you love Edgar, and Edgar loves you. All seems smooth and
easy: where is the obstacle?”

“_Here_! and _here_!” replied Catherine, striking one hand on her
forehead, and the other on her breast: “in whichever place the soul
lives. In my soul and in my heart, I’m convinced I’m wrong!”

“That’s very strange! I cannot make it out.”

“It’s my secret. But if you will not mock at me, I’ll explain it: I
can’t do it distinctly; but I’ll give you a feeling of how I feel.”

She seated herself by me again: her countenance grew sadder and graver,
and her clasped hands trembled.

“Nelly, do you never dream queer dreams?” she said, suddenly, after
some minutes’ reflection.

“Yes, now and then,” I answered.

“And so do I. I’ve dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me
ever after, and changed my ideas: they’ve gone through and through me,
like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind. And this is
one: I’m going to tell it—but take care not to smile at any part of
it.”

“Oh! don’t, Miss Catherine!” I cried. “We’re dismal enough without
conjuring up ghosts and visions to perplex us. Come, come, be merry and
like yourself! Look at little Hareton! _he’s_ dreaming nothing dreary.
How sweetly he smiles in his sleep!”

“Yes; and how sweetly his father curses in his solitude! You remember
him, I daresay, when he was just such another as that chubby thing:
nearly as young and innocent. However, Nelly, I shall oblige you to
listen: it’s not long; and I’ve no power to be merry to-night.”

“I won’t hear it, I won’t hear it!” I repeated, hastily.

I was superstitious about dreams then, and am still; and Catherine had
an unusual gloom in her aspect, that made me dread something from which
I might shape a prophecy, and foresee a fearful catastrophe. She was
vexed, but she did not proceed. Apparently taking up another subject,
she recommenced in a short time.

“If I were in heaven, Nelly, I should be extremely miserable.”

“Because you are not fit to go there,” I answered. “All sinners would
be miserable in heaven.”

“But it is not for that. I dreamt once that I was there.”

“I tell you I won’t hearken to your dreams, Miss Catherine! I’ll go to
bed,” I interrupted again.

She laughed, and held me down; for I made a motion to leave my chair.

“This is nothing,” cried she: “I was only going to say that heaven did
not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back
to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the
middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke
sobbing for joy. That will do to explain my secret, as well as the
other. I’ve no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in
heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so
low, I shouldn’t have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry
Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not
because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am.
Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton’s
is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.”

Ere this speech ended I became sensible of Heathcliff’s presence.
Having noticed a slight movement, I turned my head, and saw him rise
from the bench, and steal out noiselessly. He had listened till he
heard Catherine say it would degrade her to marry him, and then he
stayed to hear no further. My companion, sitting on the ground, was
prevented by the back of the settle from remarking his presence or
departure; but I started, and bade her hush!

“Why?” she asked, gazing nervously round.

“Joseph is here,” I answered, catching opportunely the roll of his
cartwheels up the road; “and Heathcliff will come in with him. I’m not
sure whether he were not at the door this moment.”

“Oh, he couldn’t overhear me at the door!” said she. “Give me Hareton,
while you get the supper, and when it is ready ask me to sup with you.
I want to cheat my uncomfortable conscience, and be convinced that
Heathcliff has no notion of these things. He has not, has he? He does
not know what being in love is!”

“I see no reason that he should not know, as well as you,” I returned;
“and if you are his choice, he’ll be the most unfortunate creature that
ever was born! As soon as you become Mrs. Linton, he loses friend, and
love, and all! Have you considered how you’ll bear the separation, and
how he’ll bear to be quite deserted in the world? Because, Miss
Catherine—”

“He quite deserted! we separated!” she exclaimed, with an accent of
indignation. “Who is to separate us, pray? They’ll meet the fate of
Milo! Not as long as I live, Ellen: for no mortal creature. Every
Linton on the face of the earth might melt into nothing before I could
consent to forsake Heathcliff. Oh, that’s not what I intend—that’s not
what I mean! I shouldn’t be Mrs. Linton were such a price demanded!
He’ll be as much to me as he has been all his lifetime. Edgar must
shake off his antipathy, and tolerate him, at least. He will, when he
learns my true feelings towards him. Nelly, I see now you think me a
selfish wretch; but did it never strike you that if Heathcliff and I
married, we should be beggars? whereas, if I marry Linton I can aid
Heathcliff to rise, and place him out of my brother’s power.”

“With your husband’s money, Miss Catherine?” I asked. “You’ll find him
not so pliable as you calculate upon: and, though I’m hardly a judge, I
think that’s the worst motive you’ve given yet for being the wife of
young Linton.”

“It is not,” retorted she; “it is the best! The others were the
satisfaction of my whims: and for Edgar’s sake, too, to satisfy him.
This is for the sake of one who comprehends in his person my feelings
to Edgar and myself. I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody
have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond
you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained
here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries,
and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in
living is himself. If all else perished, and _he_ remained, _I_ should
still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were
annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not
seem a part of it.—My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods:
time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My
love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of
little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I _am_ Heathcliff! He’s
always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always
a pleasure to myself, but as my own being. So don’t talk of our
separation again: it is impracticable; and—”

She paused, and hid her face in the folds of my gown; but I jerked it
forcibly away. I was out of patience with her folly!

“If I can make any sense of your nonsense, Miss,” I said, “it only goes
to convince me that you are ignorant of the duties you undertake in
marrying; or else that you are a wicked, unprincipled girl. But trouble
me with no more secrets: I’ll not promise to keep them.”

“You’ll keep that?” she asked, eagerly.

“No, I’ll not promise,” I repeated.

She was about to insist, when the entrance of Joseph finished our
conversation; and Catherine removed her seat to a corner, and nursed
Hareton, while I made the supper. After it was cooked, my
fellow-servant and I began to quarrel who should carry some to Mr.
Hindley; and we didn’t settle it till all was nearly cold. Then we came
to the agreement that we would let him ask, if he wanted any; for we
feared particularly to go into his presence when he had been some time
alone.

“And how isn’t that nowt comed in fro’ th’ field, be this time? What is
he about? girt idle seeght!” demanded the old man, looking round for
Heathcliff.

“I’ll call him,” I replied. “He’s in the barn, I’ve no doubt.”

I went and called, but got no answer. On returning, I whispered to
Catherine that he had heard a good part of what she said, I was sure;
and told how I saw him quit the kitchen just as she complained of her
brother’s conduct regarding him. She jumped up in a fine fright, flung
Hareton on to the settle, and ran to seek for her friend herself; not
taking leisure to consider why she was so flurried, or how her talk
would have affected him. She was absent such a while that Joseph
proposed we should wait no longer. He cunningly conjectured they were
staying away in order to avoid hearing his protracted blessing. They
were “ill eneugh for ony fahl manners,” he affirmed. And on their
behalf he added that night a special prayer to the usual
quarter-of-an-hour’s supplication before meat, and would have tacked
another to the end of the grace, had not his young mistress broken in
upon him with a hurried command that he must run down the road, and,
wherever Heathcliff had rambled, find and make him re-enter directly!

“I want to speak to him, and I _must_, before I go upstairs,” she said.
“And the gate is open: he is somewhere out of hearing; for he would not
reply, though I shouted at the top of the fold as loud as I could.”

Joseph objected at first; she was too much in earnest, however, to
suffer contradiction; and at last he placed his hat on his head, and
walked grumbling forth. Meantime, Catherine paced up and down the
floor, exclaiming—“I wonder where he is—I wonder where he can be! What
did I say, Nelly? I’ve forgotten. Was he vexed at my bad humour this
afternoon? Dear! tell me what I’ve said to grieve him? I do wish he’d
come. I do wish he would!”

“What a noise for nothing!” I cried, though rather uneasy myself. “What
a trifle scares you! It’s surely no great cause of alarm that
Heathcliff should take a moonlight saunter on the moors, or even lie
too sulky to speak to us in the hay-loft. I’ll engage he’s lurking
there. See if I don’t ferret him out!”

I departed to renew my search; its result was disappointment, and
Joseph’s quest ended in the same.

“Yon lad gets war und war!” observed he on re-entering. “He’s left th’
gate at t’ full swing, and Miss’s pony has trodden dahn two rigs o’
corn, and plottered through, raight o’er into t’ meadow! Hahsomdiver,
t’ maister “ull play t’ devil to-morn, and he’ll do weel. He’s patience
itsseln wi’ sich careless, offald craters—patience itsseln he is! Bud
he’ll not be soa allus—yah’s see, all on ye! Yah mun’n’t drive him out
of his heead for nowt!”

“Have you found Heathcliff, you ass?” interrupted Catherine. “Have you
been looking for him, as I ordered?”

“I sud more likker look for th’ horse,” he replied. “It ’ud be to more
sense. Bud I can look for norther horse nur man of a neeght loike
this—as black as t’ chimbley! und Heathcliff’s noan t’ chap to coom at
_my_ whistle—happen he’ll be less hard o’ hearing wi’ _ye_!”

It _was_ a very dark evening for summer: the clouds appeared inclined
to thunder, and I said we had better all sit down; the approaching rain
would be certain to bring him home without further trouble. However,
Catherine would not be persuaded into tranquillity. She kept wandering
to and fro, from the gate to the door, in a state of agitation which
permitted no repose; and at length took up a permanent situation on one
side of the wall, near the road: where, heedless of my expostulations
and the growling thunder, and the great drops that began to plash
around her, she remained, calling at intervals, and then listening, and
then crying outright. She beat Hareton, or any child, at a good
passionate fit of crying.

About midnight, while we still sat up, the storm came rattling over the
Heights in full fury. There was a violent wind, as well as thunder, and
either one or the other split a tree off at the corner of the building:
a huge bough fell across the roof, and knocked down a portion of the
east chimney-stack, sending a clatter of stones and soot into the
kitchen-fire. We thought a bolt had fallen in the middle of us; and
Joseph swung on to his knees, beseeching the Lord to remember the
patriarchs Noah and Lot, and, as in former times, spare the righteous,
though he smote the ungodly. I felt some sentiment that it must be a
judgment on us also. The Jonah, in my mind, was Mr. Earnshaw; and I
shook the handle of his den that I might ascertain if he were yet
living. He replied audibly enough, in a fashion which made my companion
vociferate, more clamorously than before, that a wide distinction might
be drawn between saints like himself and sinners like his master. But
the uproar passed away in twenty minutes, leaving us all unharmed;
excepting Cathy, who got thoroughly drenched for her obstinacy in
refusing to take shelter, and standing bonnetless and shawlless to
catch as much water as she could with her hair and clothes. She came in
and lay down on the settle, all soaked as she was, turning her face to
the back, and putting her hands before it.

“Well, Miss!” I exclaimed, touching her shoulder; “you are not bent on
getting your death, are you? Do you know what o’clock it is? Half-past
twelve. Come, come to bed! there’s no use waiting any longer on that
foolish boy: he’ll be gone to Gimmerton, and he’ll stay there now. He
guesses we shouldn’t wait for him till this late hour: at least, he
guesses that only Mr. Hindley would be up; and he’d rather avoid having
the door opened by the master.”

“Nay, nay, he’s noan at Gimmerton,” said Joseph. “I’s niver wonder but
he’s at t’ bothom of a bog-hoile. This visitation worn’t for nowt, and
I wod hev’ ye to look out, Miss—yah muh be t’ next. Thank Hivin for
all! All warks togither for gooid to them as is chozzen, and piked out
fro’ th’ rubbidge! Yah knaw whet t’ Scripture ses.” And he began
quoting several texts, referring us to chapters and verses where we
might find them.

I, having vainly begged the wilful girl to rise and remove her wet
things, left him preaching and her shivering, and betook myself to bed
with little Hareton, who slept as fast as if everyone had been sleeping
round him. I heard Joseph read on a while afterwards; then I
distinguished his slow step on the ladder, and then I dropped asleep.

Coming down somewhat later than usual, I saw, by the sunbeams piercing
the chinks of the shutters, Miss Catherine still seated near the
fireplace. The house-door was ajar, too; light entered from its
unclosed windows; Hindley had come out, and stood on the kitchen
hearth, haggard and drowsy.

“What ails you, Cathy?” he was saying when I entered: “you look as
dismal as a drowned whelp. Why are you so damp and pale, child?”

“I’ve been wet,” she answered reluctantly, “and I’m cold, that’s all.”

“Oh, she is naughty!” I cried, perceiving the master to be tolerably
sober. “She got steeped in the shower of yesterday evening, and there
she has sat the night through, and I couldn’t prevail on her to stir.”

Mr. Earnshaw stared at us in surprise. “The night through,” he
repeated. “What kept her up? not fear of the thunder, surely? That was
over hours since.”

Neither of us wished to mention Heathcliff’s absence, as long as we
could conceal it; so I replied, I didn’t know how she took it into her
head to sit up; and she said nothing. The morning was fresh and cool; I
threw back the lattice, and presently the room filled with sweet scents
from the garden; but Catherine called peevishly to me, “Ellen, shut the
window. I’m starving!” And her teeth chattered as she shrank closer to
the almost extinguished embers.

“She’s ill,” said Hindley, taking her wrist; “I suppose that’s the
reason she would not go to bed. Damn it! I don’t want to be troubled
with more sickness here. What took you into the rain?”

“Running after t’ lads, as usuald!” croaked Joseph, catching an
opportunity from our hesitation to thrust in his evil tongue. “If I war
yah, maister, I’d just slam t’ boards i’ their faces all on ’em, gentle
and simple! Never a day ut yah’re off, but yon cat o’ Linton comes
sneaking hither; and Miss Nelly, shoo’s a fine lass! shoo sits watching
for ye i’ t’ kitchen; and as yah’re in at one door, he’s out at
t’other; and, then, wer grand lady goes a-courting of her side! It’s
bonny behaviour, lurking amang t’ fields, after twelve o’ t’ night, wi’
that fahl, flaysome divil of a gipsy, Heathcliff! They think _I’m_
blind; but I’m noan: nowt ut t’ soart!—I seed young Linton boath coming
and going, and I seed _yah_” (directing his discourse to me), “yah
gooid fur nowt, slattenly witch! nip up and bolt into th’ house, t’
minute yah heard t’ maister’s horse-fit clatter up t’ road.”

“Silence, eavesdropper!” cried Catherine; “none of your insolence
before me! Edgar Linton came yesterday by chance, Hindley; and it was
_I_ who told him to be off: because I knew you would not like to have
met him as you were.”

“You lie, Cathy, no doubt,” answered her brother, “and you are a
confounded simpleton! But never mind Linton at present: tell me, were
you not with Heathcliff last night? Speak the truth, now. You need not
be afraid of harming him: though I hate him as much as ever, he did me
a good turn a short time since that will make my conscience tender of
breaking his neck. To prevent it, I shall send him about his business
this very morning; and after he’s gone, I’d advise you all to look
sharp: I shall only have the more humour for you.”

“I never saw Heathcliff last night,” answered Catherine, beginning to
sob bitterly: “and if you do turn him out of doors, I’ll go with him.
But, perhaps, you’ll never have an opportunity: perhaps, he’s gone.”
Here she burst into uncontrollable grief, and the remainder of her
words were inarticulate.

Hindley lavished on her a torrent of scornful abuse, and bade her get
to her room immediately, or she shouldn’t cry for nothing! I obliged
her to obey; and I shall never forget what a scene she acted when we
reached her chamber: it terrified me. I thought she was going mad, and
I begged Joseph to run for the doctor. It proved the commencement of
delirium: Mr. Kenneth, as soon as he saw her, pronounced her
dangerously ill; she had a fever. He bled her, and he told me to let
her live on whey and water-gruel, and take care she did not throw
herself downstairs or out of the window; and then he left: for he had
enough to do in the parish, where two or three miles was the ordinary
distance between cottage and cottage.

Though I cannot say I made a gentle nurse, and Joseph and the master
were no better, and though our patient was as wearisome and headstrong
as a patient could be, she weathered it through. Old Mrs. Linton paid
us several visits, to be sure, and set things to rights, and scolded
and ordered us all; and when Catherine was convalescent, she insisted
on conveying her to Thrushcross Grange: for which deliverance we were
very grateful. But the poor dame had reason to repent of her kindness:
she and her husband both took the fever, and died within a few days of
each other.

Our young lady returned to us saucier and more passionate, and
haughtier than ever. Heathcliff had never been heard of since the
evening of the thunder-storm; and, one day, I had the misfortune, when
she had provoked me exceedingly, to lay the blame of his disappearance
on her: where indeed it belonged, as she well knew. From that period,
for several months, she ceased to hold any communication with me, save
in the relation of a mere servant. Joseph fell under a ban also: he
would speak his mind, and lecture her all the same as if she were a
little girl; and she esteemed herself a woman, and our mistress, and
thought that her recent illness gave her a claim to be treated with
consideration. Then the doctor had said that she would not bear
crossing much; she ought to have her own way; and it was nothing less
than murder in her eyes for any one to presume to stand up and
contradict her. From Mr. Earnshaw and his companions she kept aloof;
and tutored by Kenneth, and serious threats of a fit that often
attended her rages, her brother allowed her whatever she pleased to
demand, and generally avoided aggravating her fiery temper. He was
rather too indulgent in humouring her caprices; not from affection, but
from pride: he wished earnestly to see her bring honour to the family
by an alliance with the Lintons, and as long as she let him alone she
might trample on us like slaves, for aught he cared! Edgar Linton, as
multitudes have been before and will be after him, was infatuated: and
believed himself the happiest man alive on the day he led her to
Gimmerton Chapel, three years subsequent to his father’s death.

Much against my inclination, I was persuaded to leave Wuthering Heights
and accompany her here. Little Hareton was nearly five years old, and I
had just begun to teach him his letters. We made a sad parting; but
Catherine’s tears were more powerful than ours. When I refused to go,
and when she found her entreaties did not move me, she went lamenting
to her husband and brother. The former offered me munificent wages; the
latter ordered me to pack up: he wanted no women in the house, he said,
now that there was no mistress; and as to Hareton, the curate should
take him in hand, by-and-by. And so I had but one choice left: to do as
I was ordered. I told the master he got rid of all decent people only
to run to ruin a little faster; I kissed Hareton, said good-by; and
since then he has been a stranger: and it’s very queer to think it, but
I’ve no doubt he has completely forgotten all about Ellen Dean, and
that he was ever more than all the world to her and she to him!

* * * * *


At this point of the housekeeper’s story she chanced to glance towards
the time-piece over the chimney; and was in amazement on seeing the
minute-hand measure half-past one. She would not hear of staying a
second longer: in truth, I felt rather disposed to defer the sequel of
her narrative myself. And now that she is vanished to her rest, and I
have meditated for another hour or two, I shall summon courage to go
also, in spite of aching laziness of head and limbs.



CHAPTER X


A charming introduction to a hermit’s life! Four weeks’ torture,
tossing, and sickness! Oh, these bleak winds and bitter northern skies,
and impassable roads, and dilatory country surgeons! And oh, this
dearth of the human physiognomy! and, worse than all, the terrible
intimation of Kenneth that I need not expect to be out of doors till
spring!

Mr. Heathcliff has just honoured me with a call. About seven days ago
he sent me a brace of grouse—the last of the season. Scoundrel! He is
not altogether guiltless in this illness of mine; and that I had a
great mind to tell him. But, alas! how could I offend a man who was
charitable enough to sit at my bedside a good hour, and talk on some
other subject than pills and draughts, blisters and leeches? This is
quite an easy interval. I am too weak to read; yet I feel as if I could
enjoy something interesting. Why not have up Mrs. Dean to finish her
tale? I can recollect its chief incidents, as far as she had gone. Yes:
I remember her hero had run off, and never been heard of for three
years; and the heroine was married. I’ll ring: she’ll be delighted to
find me capable of talking cheerfully. Mrs. Dean came.

“It wants twenty minutes, sir, to taking the medicine,” she commenced.

“Away, away with it!” I replied; “I desire to have—”

“The doctor says you must drop the powders.”

“With all my heart! Don’t interrupt me. Come and take your seat here.
Keep your fingers from that bitter phalanx of vials. Draw your knitting
out of your pocket—that will do—now continue the history of Mr.
Heathcliff, from where you left off, to the present day. Did he finish
his education on the Continent, and come back a gentleman? or did he
get a sizar’s place at college, or escape to America, and earn honours
by drawing blood from his foster-country? or make a fortune more
promptly on the English highways?”

“He may have done a little in all these vocations, Mr. Lockwood; but I
couldn’t give my word for any. I stated before that I didn’t know how
he gained his money; neither am I aware of the means he took to raise
his mind from the savage ignorance into which it was sunk: but, with
your leave, I’ll proceed in my own fashion, if you think it will amuse
and not weary you. Are you feeling better this morning?”

“Much.”

“That’s good news.”

* * * * *


I got Miss Catherine and myself to Thrushcross Grange; and, to my
agreeable disappointment, she behaved infinitely better than I dared to
expect. She seemed almost over-fond of Mr. Linton; and even to his
sister she showed plenty of affection. They were both very attentive to
her comfort, certainly. It was not the thorn bending to the
honeysuckles, but the honeysuckles embracing the thorn. There were no
mutual concessions: one stood erect, and the others yielded: and who
can be ill-natured and bad-tempered when they encounter neither
opposition nor indifference? I observed that Mr. Edgar had a
deep-rooted fear of ruffling her humour. He concealed it from her; but
if ever he heard me answer sharply, or saw any other servant grow
cloudy at some imperious order of hers, he would show his trouble by a
frown of displeasure that never darkened on his own account. He many a
time spoke sternly to me about my pertness; and averred that the stab
of a knife could not inflict a worse pang than he suffered at seeing
his lady vexed. Not to grieve a kind master, I learned to be less
touchy; and, for the space of half a year, the gunpowder lay as
harmless as sand, because no fire came near to explode it. Catherine
had seasons of gloom and silence now and then: they were respected with
sympathising silence by her husband, who ascribed them to an alteration
in her constitution, produced by her perilous illness; as she was never
subject to depression of spirits before. The return of sunshine was
welcomed by answering sunshine from him. I believe I may assert that
they were really in possession of deep and growing happiness.

It ended. Well, we _must_ be for ourselves in the long run; the mild
and generous are only more justly selfish than the domineering; and it
ended when circumstances caused each to feel that the one’s interest
was not the chief consideration in the other’s thoughts. On a mellow
evening in September, I was coming from the garden with a heavy basket
of apples which I had been gathering. It had got dusk, and the moon
looked over the high wall of the court, causing undefined shadows to
lurk in the corners of the numerous projecting portions of the
building. I set my burden on the house-steps by the kitchen-door, and
lingered to rest, and drew in a few more breaths of the soft, sweet
air; my eyes were on the moon, and my back to the entrance, when I
heard a voice behind me say,—“Nelly, is that you?”

It was a deep voice, and foreign in tone; yet there was something in
the manner of pronouncing my name which made it sound familiar. I
turned about to discover who spoke, fearfully; for the doors were shut,
and I had seen nobody on approaching the steps. Something stirred in
the porch; and, moving nearer, I distinguished a tall man dressed in
dark clothes, with dark face and hair. He leant against the side, and
held his fingers on the latch as if intending to open for himself. “Who
can it be?” I thought. “Mr. Earnshaw? Oh, no! The voice has no
resemblance to his.”

“I have waited here an hour,” he resumed, while I continued staring;
“and the whole of that time all round has been as still as death. I
dared not enter. You do not know me? Look, I’m not a stranger!”

A ray fell on his features; the cheeks were sallow, and half covered
with black whiskers; the brows lowering, the eyes deep-set and
singular. I remembered the eyes.

“What!” I cried, uncertain whether to regard him as a worldly visitor,
and I raised my hands in amazement. “What! you come back? Is it really
you? Is it?”

“Yes, Heathcliff,” he replied, glancing from me up to the windows,
which reflected a score of glittering moons, but showed no lights from
within. “Are they at home? where is she? Nelly, you are not glad! you
needn’t be so disturbed. Is she here? Speak! I want to have one word
with her—your mistress. Go, and say some person from Gimmerton desires
to see her.”

“How will she take it?” I exclaimed. “What will she do? The surprise
bewilders me—it will put her out of her head! And you _are_ Heathcliff!
But altered! Nay, there’s no comprehending it. Have you been for a
soldier?”

“Go and carry my message,” he interrupted, impatiently. “I’m in hell
till you do!”

He lifted the latch, and I entered; but when I got to the parlour where
Mr. and Mrs. Linton were, I could not persuade myself to proceed. At
length I resolved on making an excuse to ask if they would have the
candles lighted, and I opened the door.

They sat together in a window whose lattice lay back against the wall,
and displayed, beyond the garden trees, and the wild green park, the
valley of Gimmerton, with a long line of mist winding nearly to its top
(for very soon after you pass the chapel, as you may have noticed, the
sough that runs from the marshes joins a beck which follows the bend of
the glen). Wuthering Heights rose above this silvery vapour; but our
old house was invisible; it rather dips down on the other side. Both
the room and its occupants, and the scene they gazed on, looked
wondrously peaceful. I shrank reluctantly from performing my errand;
and was actually going away leaving it unsaid, after having put my
question about the candles, when a sense of my folly compelled me to
return, and mutter, “A person from Gimmerton wishes to see you ma’am.”

“What does he want?” asked Mrs. Linton.

“I did not question him,” I answered.

“Well, close the curtains, Nelly,” she said; “and bring up tea. I’ll be
back again directly.”

She quitted the apartment; Mr. Edgar inquired, carelessly, who it was.

“Some one mistress does not expect,” I replied. “That Heathcliff—you
recollect him, sir—who used to live at Mr. Earnshaw’s.”

“What! the gipsy—the ploughboy?” he cried. “Why did you not say so to
Catherine?”

“Hush! you must not call him by those names, master,” I said. “She’d be
sadly grieved to hear you. She was nearly heartbroken when he ran off.
I guess his return will make a jubilee to her.”

Mr. Linton walked to a window on the other side of the room that
overlooked the court. He unfastened it, and leant out. I suppose they
were below, for he exclaimed quickly: “Don’t stand there, love! Bring
the person in, if it be anyone particular.” Ere long, I heard the click
of the latch, and Catherine flew upstairs, breathless and wild; too
excited to show gladness: indeed, by her face, you would rather have
surmised an awful calamity.

“Oh, Edgar, Edgar!” she panted, flinging her arms round his neck. “Oh,
Edgar darling! Heathcliff’s come back—he is!” And she tightened her
embrace to a squeeze.

“Well, well,” cried her husband, crossly, “don’t strangle me for that!
He never struck me as such a marvellous treasure. There is no need to
be frantic!”

“I know you didn’t like him,” she answered, repressing a little the
intensity of her delight. “Yet, for my sake, you must be friends now.
Shall I tell him to come up?”

“Here,” he said, “into the parlour?”

“Where else?” she asked.

He looked vexed, and suggested the kitchen as a more suitable place for
him. Mrs. Linton eyed him with a droll expression—half angry, half
laughing at his fastidiousness.

“No,” she added, after a while; “I cannot sit in the kitchen. Set two
tables here, Ellen: one for your master and Miss Isabella, being
gentry; the other for Heathcliff and myself, being of the lower orders.
Will that please you, dear? Or must I have a fire lighted elsewhere? If
so, give directions. I’ll run down and secure my guest. I’m afraid the
joy is too great to be real!”

She was about to dart off again; but Edgar arrested her.

“_You_ bid him step up,” he said, addressing me; “and, Catherine, try
to be glad, without being absurd. The whole household need not witness
the sight of your welcoming a runaway servant as a brother.”

I descended, and found Heathcliff waiting under the porch, evidently
anticipating an invitation to enter. He followed my guidance without
waste of words, and I ushered him into the presence of the master and
mistress, whose flushed cheeks betrayed signs of warm talking. But the
lady’s glowed with another feeling when her friend appeared at the
door: she sprang forward, took both his hands, and led him to Linton;
and then she seized Linton’s reluctant fingers and crushed them into
his. Now, fully revealed by the fire and candlelight, I was amazed,
more than ever, to behold the transformation of Heathcliff. He had
grown a tall, athletic, well-formed man; beside whom my master seemed
quite slender and youth-like. His upright carriage suggested the idea
of his having been in the army. His countenance was much older in
expression and decision of feature than Mr. Linton’s; it looked
intelligent, and retained no marks of former degradation. A
half-civilised ferocity lurked yet in the depressed brows and eyes full
of black fire, but it was subdued; and his manner was even dignified:
quite divested of roughness, though stern for grace. My master’s
surprise equalled or exceeded mine: he remained for a minute at a loss
how to address the ploughboy, as he had called him. Heathcliff dropped
his slight hand, and stood looking at him coolly till he chose to
speak.

“Sit down, sir,” he said, at length. “Mrs. Linton, recalling old times,
would have me give you a cordial reception; and, of course, I am
gratified when anything occurs to please her.”

“And I also,” answered Heathcliff, “especially if it be anything in
which I have a part. I shall stay an hour or two willingly.”

He took a seat opposite Catherine, who kept her gaze fixed on him as if
she feared he would vanish were she to remove it. He did not raise his
to her often: a quick glance now and then sufficed; but it flashed
back, each time more confidently, the undisguised delight he drank from
hers. They were too much absorbed in their mutual joy to suffer
embarrassment. Not so Mr. Edgar: he grew pale with pure annoyance: a
feeling that reached its climax when his lady rose, and stepping across
the rug, seized Heathcliff’s hands again, and laughed like one beside
herself.

“I shall think it a dream to-morrow!” she cried. “I shall not be able
to believe that I have seen, and touched, and spoken to you once more.
And yet, cruel Heathcliff! you don’t deserve this welcome. To be absent
and silent for three years, and never to think of me!”

“A little more than you have thought of me,” he murmured. “I heard of
your marriage, Cathy, not long since; and, while waiting in the yard
below, I meditated this plan—just to have one glimpse of your face, a
stare of surprise, perhaps, and pretended pleasure; afterwards settle
my score with Hindley; and then prevent the law by doing execution on
myself. Your welcome has put these ideas out of my mind; but beware of
meeting me with another aspect next time! Nay, you’ll not drive me off
again. You were really sorry for me, were you? Well, there was cause.
I’ve fought through a bitter life since I last heard your voice; and
you must forgive me, for I struggled only for you!”

“Catherine, unless we are to have cold tea, please to come to the
table,” interrupted Linton, striving to preserve his ordinary tone, and
a due measure of politeness. “Mr. Heathcliff will have a long walk,
wherever he may lodge to-night; and I’m thirsty.”

She took her post before the urn; and Miss Isabella came, summoned by
the bell; then, having handed their chairs forward, I left the room.
The meal hardly endured ten minutes. Catherine’s cup was never filled:
she could neither eat nor drink. Edgar had made a slop in his saucer,
and scarcely swallowed a mouthful. Their guest did not protract his
stay that evening above an hour longer. I asked, as he departed, if he
went to Gimmerton?

“No, to Wuthering Heights,” he answered: “Mr. Earnshaw invited me, when
I called this morning.”

Mr. Earnshaw invited _him_! and _he_ called on Mr. Earnshaw! I pondered
this sentence painfully, after he was gone. Is he turning out a bit of
a hypocrite, and coming into the country to work mischief under a
cloak? I mused: I had a presentiment in the bottom of my heart that he
had better have remained away.

About the middle of the night, I was wakened from my first nap by Mrs.
Linton gliding into my chamber, taking a seat on my bedside, and
pulling me by the hair to rouse me.

“I cannot rest, Ellen,” she said, by way of apology. “And I want some
living creature to keep me company in my happiness! Edgar is sulky,
because I’m glad of a thing that does not interest him: he refuses to
open his mouth, except to utter pettish, silly speeches; and he
affirmed I was cruel and selfish for wishing to talk when he was so
sick and sleepy. He always contrives to be sick at the least cross! I
gave a few sentences of commendation to Heathcliff, and he, either for
a headache or a pang of envy, began to cry: so I got up and left him.”

“What use is it praising Heathcliff to him?” I answered. “As lads they
had an aversion to each other, and Heathcliff would hate just as much
to hear him praised: it’s human nature. Let Mr. Linton alone about him,
unless you would like an open quarrel between them.”

“But does it not show great weakness?” pursued she. “I’m not envious: I
never feel hurt at the brightness of Isabella’s yellow hair and the
whiteness of her skin, at her dainty elegance, and the fondness all the
family exhibit for her. Even you, Nelly, if we have a dispute
sometimes, you back Isabella at once; and I yield like a foolish
mother: I call her a darling, and flatter her into a good temper. It
pleases her brother to see us cordial, and that pleases me. But they
are very much alike: they are spoiled children, and fancy the world was
made for their accommodation; and though I humour both, I think a smart
chastisement might improve them all the same.”

“You’re mistaken, Mrs. Linton,” said I. “They humour you: I know what
there would be to do if they did not. You can well afford to indulge
their passing whims as long as their business is to anticipate all your
desires. You may, however, fall out, at last, over something of equal
consequence to both sides; and then those you term weak are very
capable of being as obstinate as you.”

“And then we shall fight to the death, sha’n’t we, Nelly?” she
returned, laughing. “No! I tell you, I have such faith in Linton’s
love, that I believe I might kill him, and he wouldn’t wish to
retaliate.”

I advised her to value him the more for his affection.

“I do,” she answered, “but he needn’t resort to whining for trifles. It
is childish and, instead of melting into tears because I said that
Heathcliff was now worthy of anyone’s regard, and it would honour the
first gentleman in the country to be his friend, he ought to have said
it for me, and been delighted from sympathy. He must get accustomed to
him, and he may as well like him: considering how Heathcliff has reason
to object to him, I’m sure he behaved excellently!”

“What do you think of his going to Wuthering Heights?” I inquired. “He
is reformed in every respect, apparently: quite a Christian: offering
the right hand of fellowship to his enemies all around!”

“He explained it,” she replied. “I wonder as much as you. He said he
called to gather information concerning me from you, supposing you
resided there still; and Joseph told Hindley, who came out and fell to
questioning him of what he had been doing, and how he had been living;
and finally, desired him to walk in. There were some persons sitting at
cards; Heathcliff joined them; my brother lost some money to him, and,
finding him plentifully supplied, he requested that he would come again
in the evening: to which he consented. Hindley is too reckless to
select his acquaintance prudently: he doesn’t trouble himself to
reflect on the causes he might have for mistrusting one whom he has
basely injured. But Heathcliff affirms his principal reason for
resuming a connection with his ancient persecutor is a wish to install
himself in quarters at walking distance from the Grange, and an
attachment to the house where we lived together; and likewise a hope
that I shall have more opportunities of seeing him there than I could
have if he settled in Gimmerton. He means to offer liberal payment for
permission to lodge at the Heights; and doubtless my brother’s
covetousness will prompt him to accept the terms: he was always greedy;
though what he grasps with one hand he flings away with the other.”

“It’s a nice place for a young man to fix his dwelling in!” said I.
“Have you no fear of the consequences, Mrs. Linton?”

“None for my friend,” she replied: “his strong head will keep him from
danger; a little for Hindley: but he can’t be made morally worse than
he is; and I stand between him and bodily harm. The event of this
evening has reconciled me to God and humanity! I had risen in angry
rebellion against Providence. Oh, I’ve endured very, very bitter
misery, Nelly! If that creature knew how bitter, he’d be ashamed to
cloud its removal with idle petulance. It was kindness for him which
induced me to bear it alone: had I expressed the agony I frequently
felt, he would have been taught to long for its alleviation as ardently
as I. However, it’s over, and I’ll take no revenge on his folly; I can
afford to suffer anything hereafter! Should the meanest thing alive
slap me on the cheek, I’d not only turn the other, but I’d ask pardon
for provoking it; and, as a proof, I’ll go make my peace with Edgar
instantly. Good-night! I’m an angel!”

In this self-complacent conviction she departed; and the success of her
fulfilled resolution was obvious on the morrow: Mr. Linton had not only
abjured his peevishness (though his spirits seemed still subdued by
Catherine’s exuberance of vivacity), but he ventured no objection to
her taking Isabella with her to Wuthering Heights in the afternoon; and
she rewarded him with such a summer of sweetness and affection in
return as made the house a paradise for several days; both master and
servants profiting from the perpetual sunshine.

Heathcliff—Mr. Heathcliff I should say in future—used the liberty of
visiting at Thrushcross Grange cautiously, at first: he seemed
estimating how far its owner would bear his intrusion. Catherine, also,
deemed it judicious to moderate her expressions of pleasure in
receiving him; and he gradually established his right to be expected.
He retained a great deal of the reserve for which his boyhood was
remarkable; and that served to repress all startling demonstrations of
feeling. My master’s uneasiness experienced a lull, and further
circumstances diverted it into another channel for a space.

His new source of trouble sprang from the not anticipated misfortune of
Isabella Linton evincing a sudden and irresistible attraction towards
the tolerated guest. She was at that time a charming young lady of
eighteen; infantile in manners, though possessed of keen wit, keen
feelings, and a keen temper, too, if irritated. Her brother, who loved
her tenderly, was appalled at this fantastic preference. Leaving aside
the degradation of an alliance with a nameless man, and the possible
fact that his property, in default of heirs male, might pass into such
a one’s power, he had sense to comprehend Heathcliff’s disposition: to
know that, though his exterior was altered, his mind was unchangeable
and unchanged. And he dreaded that mind: it revolted him: he shrank
forebodingly from the idea of committing Isabella to its keeping. He
would have recoiled still more had he been aware that her attachment
rose unsolicited, and was bestowed where it awakened no reciprocation
of sentiment; for the minute he discovered its existence he laid the
blame on Heathcliff’s deliberate designing.

We had all remarked, during some time, that Miss Linton fretted and
pined over something. She grew cross and wearisome; snapping at and
teasing Catherine continually, at the imminent risk of exhausting her
limited patience. We excused her, to a certain extent, on the plea of
ill-health: she was dwindling and fading before our eyes. But one day,
when she had been peculiarly wayward, rejecting her breakfast,
complaining that the servants did not do what she told them; that the
mistress would allow her to be nothing in the house, and Edgar
neglected her; that she had caught a cold with the doors being left
open, and we let the parlour fire go out on purpose to vex her, with a
hundred yet more frivolous accusations, Mrs. Linton peremptorily
insisted that she should get to bed; and, having scolded her heartily,
threatened to send for the doctor. Mention of Kenneth caused her to
exclaim, instantly, that her health was perfect, and it was only
Catherine’s harshness which made her unhappy.

“How can you say I am harsh, you naughty fondling?” cried the mistress,
amazed at the unreasonable assertion. “You are surely losing your
reason. When have I been harsh, tell me?”

“Yesterday,” sobbed Isabella, “and now!”

“Yesterday!” said her sister-in-law. “On what occasion?”

“In our walk along the moor: you told me to ramble where I pleased,
while you sauntered on with Mr. Heathcliff!”

“And that’s your notion of harshness?” said Catherine, laughing. “It
was no hint that your company was superfluous? We didn’t care whether
you kept with us or not; I merely thought Heathcliff’s talk would have
nothing entertaining for your ears.”

“Oh, no,” wept the young lady; “you wished me away, because you knew I
liked to be there!”

“Is she sane?” asked Mrs. Linton, appealing to me. “I’ll repeat our
conversation, word for word, Isabella; and you point out any charm it
could have had for you.”

“I don’t mind the conversation,” she answered: “I wanted to be with—”

“Well?” said Catherine, perceiving her hesitate to complete the
sentence.

“With him: and I won’t be always sent off!” she continued, kindling up.
“You are a dog in the manger, Cathy, and desire no one to be loved but
yourself!”

“You are an impertinent little monkey!” exclaimed Mrs. Linton, in
surprise. “But I’ll not believe this idiocy! It is impossible that you
can covet the admiration of Heathcliff—that you consider him an
agreeable person! I hope I have misunderstood you, Isabella?”

“No, you have not,” said the infatuated girl. “I love him more than
ever you loved Edgar, and he might love me, if you would let him!”

“I wouldn’t be you for a kingdom, then!” Catherine declared,
emphatically: and she seemed to speak sincerely. “Nelly, help me to
convince her of her madness. Tell her what Heathcliff is: an
unreclaimed creature, without refinement, without cultivation; an arid
wilderness of furze and whinstone. I’d as soon put that little canary
into the park on a winter’s day, as recommend you to bestow your heart
on him! It is deplorable ignorance of his character, child, and nothing
else, which makes that dream enter your head. Pray, don’t imagine that
he conceals depths of benevolence and affection beneath a stern
exterior! He’s not a rough diamond—a pearl-containing oyster of a
rustic: he’s a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man. I never say to him, ‘Let
this or that enemy alone, because it would be ungenerous or cruel to
harm them;’ I say, ‘Let them alone, because _I_ should hate them to be
wronged:’ and he’d crush you like a sparrow’s egg, Isabella, if he
found you a troublesome charge. I know he couldn’t love a Linton; and
yet he’d be quite capable of marrying your fortune and expectations:
avarice is growing with him a besetting sin. There’s my picture: and
I’m his friend—so much so, that had he thought seriously to catch you,
I should, perhaps, have held my tongue, and let you fall into his
trap.”

Miss Linton regarded her sister-in-law with indignation.

“For shame! for shame!” she repeated, angrily. “You are worse than
twenty foes, you poisonous friend!”

“Ah! you won’t believe me, then?” said Catherine. “You think I speak
from wicked selfishness?”

“I’m certain you do,” retorted Isabella; “and I shudder at you!”

“Good!” cried the other. “Try for yourself, if that be your spirit: I
have done, and yield the argument to your saucy insolence.”—

“And I must suffer for her egotism!” she sobbed, as Mrs. Linton left
the room. “All, all is against me: she has blighted my single
consolation. But she uttered falsehoods, didn’t she? Mr. Heathcliff is
not a fiend: he has an honourable soul, and a true one, or how could he
remember her?”

“Banish him from your thoughts, Miss,” I said. “He’s a bird of bad
omen: no mate for you. Mrs. Linton spoke strongly, and yet I can’t
contradict her. She is better acquainted with his heart than I, or any
one besides; and she never would represent him as worse than he is.
Honest people don’t hide their deeds. How has he been living? how has
he got rich? why is he staying at Wuthering Heights, the house of a man
whom he abhors? They say Mr. Earnshaw is worse and worse since he came.
They sit up all night together continually, and Hindley has been
borrowing money on his land, and does nothing but play and drink: I
heard only a week ago—it was Joseph who told me—I met him at Gimmerton:
‘Nelly,’ he said, ‘we’s hae a crowner’s ’quest enow, at ahr folks’. One
on ’em ’s a’most getten his finger cut off wi’ hauding t’ other fro’
stickin’ hisseln loike a cawlf. That’s maister, yeah knaw, ’at ’s soa
up o’ going tuh t’ grand ’sizes. He’s noan feared o’ t’ bench o’
judges, norther Paul, nur Peter, nur John, nur Matthew, nor noan on
’em, not he! He fair likes—he langs to set his brazened face agean ’em!
And yon bonny lad Heathcliff, yah mind, he’s a rare ’un. He can girn a
laugh as well ’s onybody at a raight divil’s jest. Does he niver say
nowt of his fine living amang us, when he goes to t’ Grange? This is t’
way on ’t:—up at sun-down: dice, brandy, cloised shutters, und
can’le-light till next day at noon: then, t’fooil gangs banning und
raving to his cham’er, makking dacent fowks dig thur fingers i’ thur
lugs fur varry shame; un’ the knave, why he can caint his brass, un’
ate, un’ sleep, un’ off to his neighbour’s to gossip wi’ t’ wife. I’
course, he tells Dame Catherine how her fathur’s goold runs into his
pocket, and her fathur’s son gallops down t’ broad road, while he flees
afore to oppen t’ pikes!’ Now, Miss Linton, Joseph is an old rascal,
but no liar; and, if his account of Heathcliff’s conduct be true, you
would never think of desiring such a husband, would you?”

“You are leagued with the rest, Ellen!” she replied. “I’ll not listen
to your slanders. What malevolence you must have to wish to convince me
that there is no happiness in the world!”

Whether she would have got over this fancy if left to herself, or
persevered in nursing it perpetually, I cannot say: she had little time
to reflect. The day after, there was a justice-meeting at the next
town; my master was obliged to attend; and Mr. Heathcliff, aware of his
absence, called rather earlier than usual. Catherine and Isabella were
sitting in the library, on hostile terms, but silent: the latter
alarmed at her recent indiscretion, and the disclosure she had made of
her secret feelings in a transient fit of passion; the former, on
mature consideration, really offended with her companion; and, if she
laughed again at her pertness, inclined to make it no laughing matter
to her. She did laugh as she saw Heathcliff pass the window. I was
sweeping the hearth, and I noticed a mischievous smile on her lips.
Isabella, absorbed in her meditations, or a book, remained till the
door opened; and it was too late to attempt an escape, which she would
gladly have done had it been practicable.

“Come in, that’s right!” exclaimed the mistress, gaily, pulling a chair
to the fire. “Here are two people sadly in need of a third to thaw the
ice between them; and you are the very one we should both of us choose.
Heathcliff, I’m proud to show you, at last, somebody that dotes on you
more than myself. I expect you to feel flattered. Nay, it’s not Nelly;
don’t look at her! My poor little sister-in-law is breaking her heart
by mere contemplation of your physical and moral beauty. It lies in
your own power to be Edgar’s brother! No, no, Isabella, you sha’n’t run
off,” she continued, arresting, with feigned playfulness, the
confounded girl, who had risen indignantly. “We were quarrelling like
cats about you, Heathcliff; and I was fairly beaten in protestations of
devotion and admiration: and, moreover, I was informed that if I would
but have the manners to stand aside, my rival, as she will have herself
to be, would shoot a shaft into your soul that would fix you for ever,
and send my image into eternal oblivion!”

“Catherine!” said Isabella, calling up her dignity, and disdaining to
struggle from the tight grasp that held her, “I’d thank you to adhere
to the truth and not slander me, even in joke! Mr. Heathcliff, be kind
enough to bid this friend of yours release me: she forgets that you and
I are not intimate acquaintances; and what amuses her is painful to me
beyond expression.”

As the guest answered nothing, but took his seat, and looked thoroughly
indifferent what sentiments she cherished concerning him, she turned
and whispered an earnest appeal for liberty to her tormentor.

“By no means!” cried Mrs. Linton in answer. “I won’t be named a dog in
the manger again. You _shall_ stay: now then! Heathcliff, why don’t you
evince satisfaction at my pleasant news? Isabella swears that the love
Edgar has for me is nothing to that she entertains for you. I’m sure
she made some speech of the kind; did she not, Ellen? And she has
fasted ever since the day before yesterday’s walk, from sorrow and rage
that I despatched her out of your society under the idea of its being
unacceptable.”

“I think you belie her,” said Heathcliff, twisting his chair to face
them. “She wishes to be out of my society now, at any rate!”

And he stared hard at the object of discourse, as one might do at a
strange repulsive animal: a centipede from the Indies, for instance,
which curiosity leads one to examine in spite of the aversion it
raises. The poor thing couldn’t bear that; she grew white and red in
rapid succession, and, while tears beaded her lashes, bent the strength
of her small fingers to loosen the firm clutch of Catherine; and
perceiving that as fast as she raised one finger off her arm another
closed down, and she could not remove the whole together, she began to
make use of her nails; and their sharpness presently ornamented the
detainer’s with crescents of red.

“There’s a tigress!” exclaimed Mrs. Linton, setting her free, and
shaking her hand with pain. “Begone, for God’s sake, and hide your
vixen face! How foolish to reveal those talons to him. Can’t you fancy
the conclusions he’ll draw? Look, Heathcliff! they are instruments that
will do execution—you must beware of your eyes.”

“I’d wrench them off her fingers, if they ever menaced me,” he
answered, brutally, when the door had closed after her. “But what did
you mean by teasing the creature in that manner, Cathy? You were not
speaking the truth, were you?”

“I assure you I was,” she returned. “She has been dying for your sake
several weeks, and raving about you this morning, and pouring forth a
deluge of abuse, because I represented your failings in a plain light,
for the purpose of mitigating her adoration. But don’t notice it
further: I wished to punish her sauciness, that’s all. I like her too
well, my dear Heathcliff, to let you absolutely seize and devour her
up.”

“And I like her too ill to attempt it,” said he, “except in a very
ghoulish fashion. You’d hear of odd things if I lived alone with that
mawkish, waxen face: the most ordinary would be painting on its white
the colours of the rainbow, and turning the blue eyes black, every day
or two: they detestably resemble Linton’s.”

“Delectably!” observed Catherine. “They are dove’s eyes—angel’s!”

“She’s her brother’s heir, is she not?” he asked, after a brief
silence.

“I should be sorry to think so,” returned his companion. “Half a dozen
nephews shall erase her title, please heaven! Abstract your mind from
the subject at present: you are too prone to covet your neighbour’s
goods; remember _this_ neighbour’s goods are mine.”

“If they were _mine_, they would be none the less that,” said
Heathcliff; “but though Isabella Linton may be silly, she is scarcely
mad; and, in short, we’ll dismiss the matter, as you advise.”

From their tongues they did dismiss it; and Catherine, probably, from
her thoughts. The other, I felt certain, recalled it often in the
course of the evening. I saw him smile to himself—grin rather—and lapse
into ominous musing whenever Mrs. Linton had occasion to be absent from
the apartment.

I determined to watch his movements. My heart invariably cleaved to the
master’s, in preference to Catherine’s side: with reason I imagined,
for he was kind, and trustful, and honourable; and she—she could not be
called _opposite_, yet she seemed to allow herself such wide latitude,
that I had little faith in her principles, and still less sympathy for
her feelings. I wanted something to happen which might have the effect
of freeing both Wuthering Heights and the Grange of Mr. Heathcliff
quietly; leaving us as we had been prior to his advent. His visits were
a continual nightmare to me; and, I suspected, to my master also. His
abode at the Heights was an oppression past explaining. I felt that God
had forsaken the stray sheep there to its own wicked wanderings, and an
evil beast prowled between it and the fold, waiting his time to spring
and destroy.



CHAPTER XI


Sometimes, while meditating on these things in solitude, I’ve got up in
a sudden terror, and put on my bonnet to go see how all was at the
farm. I’ve persuaded my conscience that it was a duty to warn him how
people talked regarding his ways; and then I’ve recollected his
confirmed bad habits, and, hopeless of benefiting him, have flinched
from re-entering the dismal house, doubting if I could bear to be taken
at my word.

One time I passed the old gate, going out of my way, on a journey to
Gimmerton. It was about the period that my narrative has reached: a
bright frosty afternoon; the ground bare, and the road hard and dry. I
came to a stone where the highway branches off on to the moor at your
left hand; a rough sand-pillar, with the letters W. H. cut on its north
side, on the east, G., and on the south-west, T. G. It serves as a
guide-post to the Grange, the Heights, and village. The sun shone
yellow on its grey head, reminding me of summer; and I cannot say why,
but all at once a gush of child’s sensations flowed into my heart.
Hindley and I held it a favourite spot twenty years before. I gazed
long at the weather-worn block; and, stooping down, perceived a hole
near the bottom still full of snail-shells and pebbles, which we were
fond of storing there with more perishable things; and, as fresh as
reality, it appeared that I beheld my early playmate seated on the
withered turf: his dark, square head bent forward, and his little hand
scooping out the earth with a piece of slate. “Poor Hindley!” I
exclaimed, involuntarily. I started: my bodily eye was cheated into a
momentary belief that the child lifted its face and stared straight
into mine! It vanished in a twinkling; but immediately I felt an
irresistible yearning to be at the Heights. Superstition urged me to
comply with this impulse: supposing he should be dead! I thought—or
should die soon!—supposing it were a sign of death! The nearer I got to
the house the more agitated I grew; and on catching sight of it I
trembled in every limb. The apparition had outstripped me: it stood
looking through the gate. That was my first idea on observing an
elf-locked, brown-eyed boy setting his ruddy countenance against the
bars. Further reflection suggested this must be Hareton, _my_ Hareton,
not altered greatly since I left him, ten months since.

“God bless thee, darling!” I cried, forgetting instantaneously my
foolish fears. “Hareton, it’s Nelly! Nelly, thy nurse.”

He retreated out of arm’s length, and picked up a large flint.

“I am come to see thy father, Hareton,” I added, guessing from the
action that Nelly, if she lived in his memory at all, was not
recognised as one with me.

He raised his missile to hurl it; I commenced a soothing speech, but
could not stay his hand: the stone struck my bonnet; and then ensued,
from the stammering lips of the little fellow, a string of curses,
which, whether he comprehended them or not, were delivered with
practised emphasis, and distorted his baby features into a shocking
expression of malignity. You may be certain this grieved more than
angered me. Fit to cry, I took an orange from my pocket, and offered it
to propitiate him. He hesitated, and then snatched it from my hold; as
if he fancied I only intended to tempt and disappoint him. I showed
another, keeping it out of his reach.

“Who has taught you those fine words, my bairn?” I inquired. “The
curate?”

“Damn the curate, and thee! Gie me that,” he replied.

“Tell us where you got your lessons, and you shall have it,” said I.
“Who’s your master?”

“Devil daddy,” was his answer.

“And what do you learn from daddy?” I continued.

He jumped at the fruit; I raised it higher. “What does he teach you?” I
asked.

“Naught,” said he, “but to keep out of his gait. Daddy cannot bide me,
because I swear at him.”

“Ah! and the devil teaches you to swear at daddy?” I observed.

“Ay—nay,” he drawled.

“Who, then?”

“Heathcliff.”

“I asked if he liked Mr. Heathcliff.”

“Ay!” he answered again.

Desiring to have his reasons for liking him, I could only gather the
sentences—“I known’t: he pays dad back what he gies to me—he curses
daddy for cursing me. He says I mun do as I will.”

“And the curate does not teach you to read and write, then?” I pursued.

“No, I was told the curate should have his —— teeth dashed down his ——
throat, if he stepped over the threshold—Heathcliff had promised that!”

I put the orange in his hand, and bade him tell his father that a woman
called Nelly Dean was waiting to speak with him, by the garden gate. He
went up the walk, and entered the house; but, instead of Hindley,
Heathcliff appeared on the door-stones; and I turned directly and ran
down the road as hard as ever I could race, making no halt till I
gained the guide-post, and feeling as scared as if I had raised a
goblin. This is not much connected with Miss Isabella’s affair: except
that it urged me to resolve further on mounting vigilant guard, and
doing my utmost to check the spread of such bad influence at the
Grange: even though I should wake a domestic storm, by thwarting Mrs.
Linton’s pleasure.

The next time Heathcliff came my young lady chanced to be feeding some
pigeons in the court. She had never spoken a word to her sister-in-law
for three days; but she had likewise dropped her fretful complaining,
and we found it a great comfort. Heathcliff had not the habit of
bestowing a single unnecessary civility on Miss Linton, I knew. Now, as
soon as he beheld her, his first precaution was to take a sweeping
survey of the house-front. I was standing by the kitchen-window, but I
drew out of sight. He then stepped across the pavement to her, and said
something: she seemed embarrassed, and desirous of getting away; to
prevent it, he laid his hand on her arm. She averted her face: he
apparently put some question which she had no mind to answer. There was
another rapid glance at the house, and supposing himself unseen, the
scoundrel had the impudence to embrace her.

“Judas! Traitor!” I ejaculated. “You are a hypocrite, too, are you? A
deliberate deceiver.”

“Who is, Nelly?” said Catherine’s voice at my elbow: I had been
over-intent on watching the pair outside to mark her entrance.

“Your worthless friend!” I answered, warmly: “the sneaking rascal
yonder. Ah, he has caught a glimpse of us—he is coming in! I wonder
will he have the heart to find a plausible excuse for making love to
Miss, when he told you he hated her?”

Mrs. Linton saw Isabella tear herself free, and run into the garden;
and a minute after, Heathcliff opened the door. I couldn’t withhold
giving some loose to my indignation; but Catherine angrily insisted on
silence, and threatened to order me out of the kitchen, if I dared to
be so presumptuous as to put in my insolent tongue.

“To hear you, people might think you were the mistress!” she cried.
“You want setting down in your right place! Heathcliff, what are you
about, raising this stir? I said you must let Isabella alone!—I beg you
will, unless you are tired of being received here, and wish Linton to
draw the bolts against you!”

“God forbid that he should try!” answered the black villain. I detested
him just then. “God keep him meek and patient! Every day I grow madder
after sending him to heaven!”

“Hush!” said Catherine, shutting the inner door! “Don’t vex me. Why
have you disregarded my request? Did she come across you on purpose?”

“What is it to you?” he growled. “I have a right to kiss her, if she
chooses; and you have no right to object. I am not _your_ husband:
_you_ needn’t be jealous of me!”

“I’m not jealous of you,” replied the mistress; “I’m jealous for you.
Clear your face: you sha’n’t scowl at me! If you like Isabella, you
shall marry her. But do you like her? Tell the truth, Heathcliff!
There, you won’t answer. I’m certain you don’t.”

“And would Mr. Linton approve of his sister marrying that man?” I
inquired.

“Mr. Linton should approve,” returned my lady, decisively.

“He might spare himself the trouble,” said Heathcliff: “I could do as
well without his approbation. And as to you, Catherine, I have a mind
to speak a few words now, while we are at it. I want you to be aware
that I _know_ you have treated me infernally—infernally! Do you hear?
And if you flatter yourself that I don’t perceive it, you are a fool;
and if you think I can be consoled by sweet words, you are an idiot:
and if you fancy I’ll suffer unrevenged, I’ll convince you of the
contrary, in a very little while! Meantime, thank you for telling me
your sister-in-law’s secret: I swear I’ll make the most of it. And
stand you aside!”

“What new phase of his character is this?” exclaimed Mrs. Linton, in
amazement. “I’ve treated you infernally—and you’ll take your revenge!
How will you take it, ungrateful brute? How have I treated you
infernally?”

“I seek no revenge on you,” replied Heathcliff, less vehemently.
“That’s not the plan. The tyrant grinds down his slaves and they don’t
turn against him; they crush those beneath them. You are welcome to
torture me to death for your amusement, only allow me to amuse myself a
little in the same style, and refrain from insult as much as you are
able. Having levelled my palace, don’t erect a hovel and complacently
admire your own charity in giving me that for a home. If I imagined you
really wished me to marry Isabel, I’d cut my throat!”

“Oh, the evil is that I am _not_ jealous, is it?” cried Catherine.
“Well, I won’t repeat my offer of a wife: it is as bad as offering
Satan a lost soul. Your bliss lies, like his, in inflicting misery. You
prove it. Edgar is restored from the ill-temper he gave way to at your
coming; I begin to be secure and tranquil; and you, restless to know us
at peace, appear resolved on exciting a quarrel. Quarrel with Edgar, if
you please, Heathcliff, and deceive his sister: you’ll hit on exactly
the most efficient method of revenging yourself on me.”

The conversation ceased. Mrs. Linton sat down by the fire, flushed and
gloomy. The spirit which served her was growing intractable: she could
neither lay nor control it. He stood on the hearth with folded arms,
brooding on his evil thoughts; and in this position I left them to seek
the master, who was wondering what kept Catherine below so long.

“Ellen,” said he, when I entered, “have you seen your mistress?”

“Yes; she’s in the kitchen, sir,” I answered. “She’s sadly put out by
Mr. Heathcliff’s behaviour: and, indeed, I do think it’s time to
arrange his visits on another footing. There’s harm in being too soft,
and now it’s come to this—.” And I related the scene in the court, and,
as near as I dared, the whole subsequent dispute. I fancied it could
not be very prejudicial to Mrs. Linton; unless she made it so
afterwards, by assuming the defensive for her guest. Edgar Linton had
difficulty in hearing me to the close. His first words revealed that he
did not clear his wife of blame.

“This is insufferable!” he exclaimed. “It is disgraceful that she
should own him for a friend, and force his company on me! Call me two
men out of the hall, Ellen. Catherine shall linger no longer to argue
with the low ruffian—I have humoured her enough.”

He descended, and bidding the servants wait in the passage, went,
followed by me, to the kitchen. Its occupants had recommenced their
angry discussion: Mrs. Linton, at least, was scolding with renewed
vigour; Heathcliff had moved to the window, and hung his head, somewhat
cowed by her violent rating apparently. He saw the master first, and
made a hasty motion that she should be silent; which she obeyed,
abruptly, on discovering the reason of his intimation.

“How is this?” said Linton, addressing her; “what notion of propriety
must you have to remain here, after the language which has been held to
you by that blackguard? I suppose, because it is his ordinary talk you
think nothing of it: you are habituated to his baseness, and, perhaps,
imagine I can get used to it too!”

“Have you been listening at the door, Edgar?” asked the mistress, in a
tone particularly calculated to provoke her husband, implying both
carelessness and contempt of his irritation. Heathcliff, who had raised
his eyes at the former speech, gave a sneering laugh at the latter; on
purpose, it seemed, to draw Mr. Linton’s attention to him. He
succeeded; but Edgar did not mean to entertain him with any high
flights of passion.

“I’ve been so far forbearing with you, sir,” he said quietly; “not that
I was ignorant of your miserable, degraded character, but I felt you
were only partly responsible for that; and Catherine wishing to keep up
your acquaintance, I acquiesced—foolishly. Your presence is a moral
poison that would contaminate the most virtuous: for that cause, and to
prevent worse consequences, I shall deny you hereafter admission into
this house, and give notice now that I require your instant departure.
Three minutes’ delay will render it involuntary and ignominious.'

Heathcliff measured the height and breadth of the speaker with an eye
full of derision.

“Cathy, this lamb of yours threatens like a bull!” he said. “It is in
danger of splitting its skull against my knuckles. By God! Mr. Linton,
I’m mortally sorry that you are not worth knocking down!”

My master glanced towards the passage, and signed me to fetch the men:
he had no intention of hazarding a personal encounter. I obeyed the
hint; but Mrs. Linton, suspecting something, followed; and when I
attempted to call them, she pulled me back, slammed the door to, and
locked it.

“Fair means!” she said, in answer to her husband’s look of angry
surprise. “If you have not courage to attack him, make an apology, or
allow yourself to be beaten. It will correct you of feigning more
valour than you possess. No, I’ll swallow the key before you shall get
it! I’m delightfully rewarded for my kindness to each! After constant
indulgence of one’s weak nature, and the other’s bad one, I earn for
thanks two samples of blind ingratitude, stupid to absurdity! Edgar, I
was defending you and yours; and I wish Heathcliff may flog you sick,
for daring to think an evil thought of me!”

It did not need the medium of a flogging to produce that effect on the
master. He tried to wrest the key from Catherine’s grasp, and for
safety she flung it into the hottest part of the fire; whereupon Mr.
Edgar was taken with a nervous trembling, and his countenance grew
deadly pale. For his life he could not avert that excess of emotion:
mingled anguish and humiliation overcame him completely. He leant on
the back of a chair, and covered his face.

“Oh, heavens! In old days this would win you knighthood!” exclaimed
Mrs. Linton. “We are vanquished! we are vanquished! Heathcliff would as
soon lift a finger at you as the king would march his army against a
colony of mice. Cheer up! you sha’n’t be hurt! Your type is not a lamb,
it’s a sucking leveret.”

“I wish you joy of the milk-blooded coward, Cathy!” said her friend. “I
compliment you on your taste. And that is the slavering, shivering
thing you preferred to me! I would not strike him with my fist, but I’d
kick him with my foot, and experience considerable satisfaction. Is he
weeping, or is he going to faint for fear?”

The fellow approached and gave the chair on which Linton rested a push.
He’d better have kept his distance: my master quickly sprang erect, and
struck him full on the throat a blow that would have levelled a
slighter man. It took his breath for a minute; and while he choked, Mr.
Linton walked out by the back door into the yard, and from thence to
the front entrance.

“There! you’ve done with coming here,” cried Catherine. “Get away, now;
he’ll return with a brace of pistols and half-a-dozen assistants. If he
did overhear us, of course he’d never forgive you. You’ve played me an
ill turn, Heathcliff! But go—make haste! I’d rather see Edgar at bay
than you.”

“Do you suppose I’m going with that blow burning in my gullet?” he
thundered. “By hell, no! I’ll crush his ribs in like a rotten hazel-nut
before I cross the threshold! If I don’t floor him now, I shall murder
him some time; so, as you value his existence, let me get at him!”

“He is not coming,” I interposed, framing a bit of a lie. “There’s the
coachman and the two gardeners; you’ll surely not wait to be thrust
into the road by them! Each has a bludgeon; and master will, very
likely, be watching from the parlour-windows to see that they fulfil
his orders.”

The gardeners and coachman were there: but Linton was with them. They
had already entered the court. Heathcliff, on the second thoughts,
resolved to avoid a struggle against three underlings: he seized the
poker, smashed the lock from the inner door, and made his escape as
they tramped in.

Mrs. Linton, who was very much excited, bade me accompany her upstairs.
She did not know my share in contributing to the disturbance, and I was
anxious to keep her in ignorance.

“I’m nearly distracted, Nelly!” she exclaimed, throwing herself on the
sofa. “A thousand smiths’ hammers are beating in my head! Tell Isabella
to shun me; this uproar is owing to her; and should she or any one else
aggravate my anger at present, I shall get wild. And, Nelly, say to
Edgar, if you see him again to-night, that I’m in danger of being
seriously ill. I wish it may prove true. He has startled and distressed
me shockingly! I want to frighten him. Besides, he might come and begin
a string of abuse or complainings; I’m certain I should recriminate,
and God knows where we should end! Will you do so, my good Nelly? You
are aware that I am no way blamable in this matter. What possessed him
to turn listener? Heathcliff’s talk was outrageous, after you left us;
but I could soon have diverted him from Isabella, and the rest meant
nothing. Now all is dashed wrong; by the fool’s craving to hear evil of
self, that haunts some people like a demon! Had Edgar never gathered
our conversation, he would never have been the worse for it. Really,
when he opened on me in that unreasonable tone of displeasure after I
had scolded Heathcliff till I was hoarse for him, I did not care hardly
what they did to each other; especially as I felt that, however the
scene closed, we should all be driven asunder for nobody knows how
long! Well, if I cannot keep Heathcliff for my friend—if Edgar will be
mean and jealous, I’ll try to break their hearts by breaking my own.
That will be a prompt way of finishing all, when I am pushed to
extremity! But it’s a deed to be reserved for a forlorn hope; I’d not
take Linton by surprise with it. To this point he has been discreet in
dreading to provoke me; you must represent the peril of quitting that
policy, and remind him of my passionate temper, verging, when kindled,
on frenzy. I wish you could dismiss that apathy out of that
countenance, and look rather more anxious about me.”

The stolidity with which I received these instructions was, no doubt,
rather exasperating: for they were delivered in perfect sincerity; but
I believed a person who could plan the turning of her fits of passion
to account, beforehand, might, by exerting her will, manage to control
herself tolerably, even while under their influence; and I did not wish
to “frighten” her husband, as she said, and multiply his annoyances for
the purpose of serving her selfishness. Therefore I said nothing when I
met the master coming towards the parlour; but I took the liberty of
turning back to listen whether they would resume their quarrel
together. He began to speak first.

“Remain where you are, Catherine,” he said; without any anger in his
voice, but with much sorrowful despondency. “I shall not stay. I am
neither come to wrangle nor be reconciled; but I wish just to learn
whether, after this evening’s events, you intend to continue your
intimacy with—”

“Oh, for mercy’s sake,” interrupted the mistress, stamping her foot,
“for mercy’s sake, let us hear no more of it now! Your cold blood
cannot be worked into a fever: your veins are full of ice-water; but
mine are boiling, and the sight of such chillness makes them dance.”

“To get rid of me, answer my question,” persevered Mr. Linton. “You
must answer it; and that violence does not alarm me. I have found that
you can be as stoical as anyone, when you please. Will you give up
Heathcliff hereafter, or will you give up me? It is impossible for you
to be _my_ friend and _his_ at the same time; and I absolutely
_require_ to know which you choose.”

“I require to be let alone!” exclaimed Catherine, furiously. “I demand
it! Don’t you see I can scarcely stand? Edgar, you—you leave me!”

She rang the bell till it broke with a twang; I entered leisurely. It
was enough to try the temper of a saint, such senseless, wicked rages!
There she lay dashing her head against the arm of the sofa, and
grinding her teeth, so that you might fancy she would crash them to
splinters! Mr. Linton stood looking at her in sudden compunction and
fear. He told me to fetch some water. She had no breath for speaking. I
brought a glass full; and as she would not drink, I sprinkled it on her
face. In a few seconds she stretched herself out stiff, and turned up
her eyes, while her cheeks, at once blanched and livid, assumed the
aspect of death. Linton looked terrified.

“There is nothing in the world the matter,” I whispered. I did not want
him to yield, though I could not help being afraid in my heart.

“She has blood on her lips!” he said, shuddering.

“Never mind!” I answered, tartly. And I told him how she had resolved,
previous to his coming, on exhibiting a fit of frenzy. I incautiously
gave the account aloud, and she heard me; for she started up—her hair
flying over her shoulders, her eyes flashing, the muscles of her neck
and arms standing out preternaturally. I made up my mind for broken
bones, at least; but she only glared about her for an instant, and then
rushed from the room. The master directed me to follow; I did, to her
chamber-door: she hindered me from going further by securing it against
me.

As she never offered to descend to breakfast next morning, I went to
ask whether she would have some carried up. “No!” she replied,
peremptorily. The same question was repeated at dinner and tea; and
again on the morrow after, and received the same answer. Mr. Linton, on
his part, spent his time in the library, and did not inquire concerning
his wife’s occupations. Isabella and he had had an hour’s interview,
during which he tried to elicit from her some sentiment of proper
horror for Heathcliff’s advances: but he could make nothing of her
evasive replies, and was obliged to close the examination
unsatisfactorily; adding, however, a solemn warning, that if she were
so insane as to encourage that worthless suitor, it would dissolve all
bonds of relationship between herself and him.



CHAPTER XII


While Miss Linton moped about the park and garden, always silent, and
almost always in tears; and her brother shut himself up among books
that he never opened—wearying, I guessed, with a continual vague
expectation that Catherine, repenting her conduct, would come of her
own accord to ask pardon, and seek a reconciliation—and _she_ fasted
pertinaciously, under the idea, probably, that at every meal Edgar was
ready to choke for her absence, and pride alone held him from running
to cast himself at her feet; I went about my household duties,
convinced that the Grange had but one sensible soul in its walls, and
that lodged in my body. I wasted no condolences on Miss, nor any
expostulations on my mistress; nor did I pay much attention to the
sighs of my master, who yearned to hear his lady’s name, since he might
not hear her voice. I determined they should come about as they pleased
for me; and though it was a tiresomely slow process, I began to rejoice
at length in a faint dawn of its progress: as I thought at first.

Mrs. Linton, on the third day, unbarred her door, and having finished
the water in her pitcher and decanter, desired a renewed supply, and a
basin of gruel, for she believed she was dying. That I set down as a
speech meant for Edgar’s ears; I believed no such thing, so I kept it
to myself and brought her some tea and dry toast. She ate and drank
eagerly, and sank back on her pillow again, clenching her hands and
groaning. “Oh, I will die,” she exclaimed, “since no one cares anything
about me. I wish I had not taken that.” Then a good while after I heard
her murmur, “No, I’ll not die—he’d be glad—he does not love me at
all—he would never miss me!”

“Did you want anything, ma’am?” I inquired, still preserving my
external composure, in spite of her ghastly countenance and strange,
exaggerated manner.

“What is that apathetic being doing?” she demanded, pushing the thick
entangled locks from her wasted face. “Has he fallen into a lethargy,
or is he dead?”

“Neither,” replied I; “if you mean Mr. Linton. He’s tolerably well, I
think, though his studies occupy him rather more than they ought: he is
continually among his books, since he has no other society.”

I should not have spoken so if I had known her true condition, but I
could not get rid of the notion that she acted a part of her disorder.

“Among his books!” she cried, confounded. “And I dying! I on the brink
of the grave! My God! does he know how I’m altered?” continued she,
staring at her reflection in a mirror hanging against the opposite
wall. “Is that Catherine Linton? He imagines me in a pet—in play,
perhaps. Cannot you inform him that it is frightful earnest? Nelly, if
it be not too late, as soon as I learn how he feels, I’ll choose
between these two: either to starve at once—that would be no punishment
unless he had a heart—or to recover, and leave the country. Are you
speaking the truth about him now? Take care. Is he actually so utterly
indifferent for my life?”

“Why, ma’am,” I answered, “the master has no idea of your being
deranged; and of course he does not fear that you will let yourself die
of hunger.”

“You think not? Cannot you tell him I will?” she returned. “Persuade
him! speak of your own mind: say you are certain I will!”

“No, you forget, Mrs. Linton,” I suggested, “that you have eaten some
food with a relish this evening, and to-morrow you will perceive its
good effects.”

“If I were only sure it would kill him,” she interrupted, “I’d kill
myself directly! These three awful nights I’ve never closed my lids—and
oh, I’ve been tormented! I’ve been haunted, Nelly! But I begin to fancy
you don’t like me. How strange! I thought, though everybody hated and
despised each other, they could not avoid loving me. And they have all
turned to enemies in a few hours: they have, I’m positive; the people
here. How dreary to meet death, surrounded by their cold faces!
Isabella, terrified and repelled, afraid to enter the room, it would be
so dreadful to watch Catherine go. And Edgar standing solemnly by to
see it over; then offering prayers of thanks to God for restoring peace
to his house, and going back to his _books_! What in the name of all
that feels has he to do with _books_, when I am dying?”

She could not bear the notion which I had put into her head of Mr.
Linton’s philosophical resignation. Tossing about, she increased her
feverish bewilderment to madness, and tore the pillow with her teeth;
then raising herself up all burning, desired that I would open the
window. We were in the middle of winter, the wind blew strong from the
north-east, and I objected. Both the expressions flitting over her
face, and the changes of her moods, began to alarm me terribly; and
brought to my recollection her former illness, and the doctor’s
injunction that she should not be crossed. A minute previously she was
violent; now, supported on one arm, and not noticing my refusal to obey
her, she seemed to find childish diversion in pulling the feathers from
the rents she had just made, and ranging them on the sheet according to
their different species: her mind had strayed to other associations.

“That’s a turkey’s,” she murmured to herself; “and this is a wild
duck’s; and this is a pigeon’s. Ah, they put pigeons’ feathers in the
pillows—no wonder I couldn’t die! Let me take care to throw it on the
floor when I lie down. And here is a moor-cock’s; and this—I should
know it among a thousand—it’s a lapwing’s. Bonny bird; wheeling over
our heads in the middle of the moor. It wanted to get to its nest, for
the clouds had touched the swells, and it felt rain coming. This
feather was picked up from the heath, the bird was not shot: we saw its
nest in the winter, full of little skeletons. Heathcliff set a trap
over it, and the old ones dared not come. I made him promise he’d never
shoot a lapwing after that, and he didn’t. Yes, here are more! Did he
shoot my lapwings, Nelly? Are they red, any of them? Let me look.”

“Give over with that baby-work!” I interrupted, dragging the pillow
away, and turning the holes towards the mattress, for she was removing
its contents by handfuls. “Lie down and shut your eyes: you’re
wandering. There’s a mess! The down is flying about like snow.”

I went here and there collecting it.

“I see in you, Nelly,” she continued dreamily, “an aged woman: you have
grey hair and bent shoulders. This bed is the fairy cave under
Penistone crags, and you are gathering elf-bolts to hurt our heifers;
pretending, while I am near, that they are only locks of wool. That’s
what you’ll come to fifty years hence: I know you are not so now. I’m
not wandering: you’re mistaken, or else I should believe you really
_were_ that withered hag, and I should think I _was_ under Penistone
Crags; and I’m conscious it’s night, and there are two candles on the
table making the black press shine like jet.”

“The black press? where is that?” I asked. “You are talking in your
sleep!”

“It’s against the wall, as it always is,” she replied. “It _does_
appear odd—I see a face in it!”

“There’s no press in the room, and never was,” said I, resuming my
seat, and looping up the curtain that I might watch her.

“Don’t _you_ see that face?” she inquired, gazing earnestly at the
mirror.

And say what I could, I was incapable of making her comprehend it to be
her own; so I rose and covered it with a shawl.

“It’s behind there still!” she pursued, anxiously. “And it stirred. Who
is it? I hope it will not come out when you are gone! Oh! Nelly, the
room is haunted! I’m afraid of being alone!”

I took her hand in mine, and bid her be composed; for a succession of
shudders convulsed her frame, and she would keep straining her gaze
towards the glass.

“There’s nobody here!” I insisted. “It was _yourself_, Mrs. Linton: you
knew it a while since.”

“Myself!” she gasped, “and the clock is striking twelve! It’s true,
then! that’s dreadful!”

Her fingers clutched the clothes, and gathered them over her eyes. I
attempted to steal to the door with an intention of calling her
husband; but I was summoned back by a piercing shriek—the shawl had
dropped from the frame.

“Why, what is the matter?” cried I. “Who is coward now? Wake up! That
is the glass—the mirror, Mrs. Linton; and you see yourself in it, and
there am I too by your side.”

Trembling and bewildered, she held me fast, but the horror gradually
passed from her countenance; its paleness gave place to a glow of
shame.

“Oh, dear! I thought I was at home,” she sighed. “I thought I was lying
in my chamber at Wuthering Heights. Because I’m weak, my brain got
confused, and I screamed unconsciously. Don’t say anything; but stay
with me. I dread sleeping: my dreams appal me.”

“A sound sleep would do you good, ma’am,” I answered: “and I hope this
suffering will prevent your trying starving again.”

“Oh, if I were but in my own bed in the old house!” she went on
bitterly, wringing her hands. “And that wind sounding in the firs by
the lattice. Do let me feel it—it comes straight down the moor—do let
me have one breath!” To pacify her I held the casement ajar a few
seconds. A cold blast rushed through; I closed it, and returned to my
post. She lay still now, her face bathed in tears. Exhaustion of body
had entirely subdued her spirit: our fiery Catherine was no better than
a wailing child.

“How long is it since I shut myself in here?” she asked, suddenly
reviving.

“It was Monday evening,” I replied, “and this is Thursday night, or
rather Friday morning, at present.”

“What! of the same week?” she exclaimed. “Only that brief time?”

“Long enough to live on nothing but cold water and ill-temper,”
observed I.

“Well, it seems a weary number of hours,” she muttered doubtfully: “it
must be more. I remember being in the parlour after they had
quarrelled, and Edgar being cruelly provoking, and me running into this
room desperate. As soon as ever I had barred the door, utter blackness
overwhelmed me, and I fell on the floor. I couldn’t explain to Edgar
how certain I felt of having a fit, or going raging mad, if he
persisted in teasing me! I had no command of tongue, or brain, and he
did not guess my agony, perhaps: it barely left me sense to try to
escape from him and his voice. Before I recovered sufficiently to see
and hear, it began to be dawn, and, Nelly, I’ll tell you what I
thought, and what has kept recurring and recurring till I feared for my
reason. I thought as I lay there, with my head against that table leg,
and my eyes dimly discerning the grey square of the window, that I was
enclosed in the oak-panelled bed at home; and my heart ached with some
great grief which, just waking, I could not recollect. I pondered, and
worried myself to discover what it could be, and, most strangely, the
whole last seven years of my life grew a blank! I did not recall that
they had been at all. I was a child; my father was just buried, and my
misery arose from the separation that Hindley had ordered between me
and Heathcliff. I was laid alone, for the first time; and, rousing from
a dismal doze after a night of weeping, I lifted my hand to push the
panels aside: it struck the table-top! I swept it along the carpet, and
then memory burst in: my late anguish was swallowed in a paroxysm of
despair. I cannot say why I felt so wildly wretched: it must have been
temporary derangement; for there is scarcely cause. But, supposing at
twelve years old I had been wrenched from the Heights, and every early
association, and my all in all, as Heathcliff was at that time, and
been converted at a stroke into Mrs. Linton, the lady of Thrushcross
Grange, and the wife of a stranger: an exile, and outcast, thenceforth,
from what had been my world. You may fancy a glimpse of the abyss where
I grovelled! Shake your head as you will, Nelly, you have helped to
unsettle me! You should have spoken to Edgar, indeed you should, and
compelled him to leave me quiet! Oh, I’m burning! I wish I were out of
doors! I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy, and free; and
laughing at injuries, not maddening under them! Why am I so changed?
why does my blood rush into a hell of tumult at a few words? I’m sure I
should be myself were I once among the heather on those hills. Open the
window again wide: fasten it open! Quick, why don’t you move?”

“Because I won’t give you your death of cold,” I answered.

“You won’t give me a chance of life, you mean,” she said, sullenly.
“However, I’m not helpless yet; I’ll open it myself.”

And sliding from the bed before I could hinder her, she crossed the
room, walking very uncertainly, threw it back, and bent out, careless
of the frosty air that cut about her shoulders as keen as a knife. I
entreated, and finally attempted to force her to retire. But I soon
found her delirious strength much surpassed mine (she was delirious, I
became convinced by her subsequent actions and ravings). There was no
moon, and everything beneath lay in misty darkness: not a light gleamed
from any house, far or near all had been extinguished long ago: and
those at Wuthering Heights were never visible—still she asserted she
caught their shining.

“Look!” she cried eagerly, “that’s my room with the candle in it, and
the trees swaying before it; and the other candle is in Joseph’s
garret. Joseph sits up late, doesn’t he? He’s waiting till I come home
that he may lock the gate. Well, he’ll wait a while yet. It’s a rough
journey, and a sad heart to travel it; and we must pass by Gimmerton
Kirk to go that journey! We’ve braved its ghosts often together, and
dared each other to stand among the graves and ask them to come. But,
Heathcliff, if I dare you now, will you venture? If you do, I’ll keep
you. I’ll not lie there by myself: they may bury me twelve feet deep,
and throw the church down over me, but I won’t rest till you are with
me. I never will!”

She paused, and resumed with a strange smile. “He’s considering—he’d
rather I’d come to him! Find a way, then! not through that kirkyard.
You are slow! Be content, you always followed me!”

Perceiving it vain to argue against her insanity, I was planning how I
could reach something to wrap about her, without quitting my hold of
herself (for I could not trust her alone by the gaping lattice), when,
to my consternation, I heard the rattle of the door-handle, and Mr.
Linton entered. He had only then come from the library; and, in passing
through the lobby, had noticed our talking and been attracted by
curiosity, or fear, to examine what it signified, at that late hour.

“Oh, sir!” I cried, checking the exclamation risen to his lips at the
sight which met him, and the bleak atmosphere of the chamber. “My poor
mistress is ill, and she quite masters me: I cannot manage her at all;
pray, come and persuade her to go to bed. Forget your anger, for she’s
hard to guide any way but her own.”

“Catherine ill?” he said, hastening to us. “Shut the window, Ellen!
Catherine! why—”

He was silent. The haggardness of Mrs. Linton’s appearance smote him
speechless, and he could only glance from her to me in horrified
astonishment.

“She’s been fretting here,” I continued, “and eating scarcely anything,
and never complaining: she would admit none of us till this evening,
and so we couldn’t inform you of her state, as we were not aware of it
ourselves; but it is nothing.”

I felt I uttered my explanations awkwardly; the master frowned. “It is
nothing, is it, Ellen Dean?” he said sternly. “You shall account more
clearly for keeping me ignorant of this!” And he took his wife in his
arms, and looked at her with anguish.

At first she gave him no glance of recognition: he was invisible to her
abstracted gaze. The delirium was not fixed, however; having weaned her
eyes from contemplating the outer darkness, by degrees she centred her
attention on him, and discovered who it was that held her.

“Ah! you are come, are you, Edgar Linton?” she said, with angry
animation. “You are one of those things that are ever found when least
wanted, and when you are wanted, never! I suppose we shall have plenty
of lamentations now—I see we shall—but they can’t keep me from my
narrow home out yonder: my resting-place, where I’m bound before spring
is over! There it is: not among the Lintons, mind, under the
chapel-roof, but in the open air, with a head-stone; and you may please
yourself whether you go to them or come to me!”

“Catherine, what have you done?” commenced the master. “Am I nothing to
you any more? Do you love that wretch Heath—”

“Hush!” cried Mrs. Linton. “Hush, this moment! You mention that name
and I end the matter instantly by a spring from the window! What you
touch at present you may have; but my soul will be on that hill top
before you lay hands on me again. I don’t want you, Edgar: I’m past
wanting you. Return to your books. I’m glad you possess a consolation,
for all you had in me is gone.”

“Her mind wanders, sir,” I interposed. “She has been talking nonsense
the whole evening; but let her have quiet, and proper attendance, and
she’ll rally. Hereafter, we must be cautious how we vex her.”

“I desire no further advice from you,” answered Mr. Linton. “You knew
your mistress’s nature, and you encouraged me to harass her. And not to
give me one hint of how she has been these three days! It was
heartless! Months of sickness could not cause such a change!”

I began to defend myself, thinking it too bad to be blamed for
another’s wicked waywardness. “I knew Mrs. Linton’s nature to be
headstrong and domineering,” cried I: “but I didn’t know that you
wished to foster her fierce temper! I didn’t know that, to humour her,
I should wink at Mr. Heathcliff. I performed the duty of a faithful
servant in telling you, and I have got a faithful servant’s wages!
Well, it will teach me to be careful next time. Next time you may
gather intelligence for yourself!”

“The next time you bring a tale to me you shall quit my service, Ellen
Dean,” he replied.

“You’d rather hear nothing about it, I suppose, then, Mr. Linton?” said
I. “Heathcliff has your permission to come a-courting to Miss, and to
drop in at every opportunity your absence offers, on purpose to poison
the mistress against you?”

Confused as Catherine was, her wits were alert at applying our
conversation.

“Ah! Nelly has played traitor,” she exclaimed, passionately. “Nelly is
my hidden enemy. You witch! So you do seek elf-bolts to hurt us! Let me
go, and I’ll make her rue! I’ll make her howl a recantation!”

A maniac’s fury kindled under her brows; she struggled desperately to
disengage herself from Linton’s arms. I felt no inclination to tarry
the event; and, resolving to seek medical aid on my own responsibility,
I quitted the chamber.

In passing the garden to reach the road, at a place where a bridle hook
is driven into the wall, I saw something white moved irregularly,
evidently by another agent than the wind. Notwithstanding my hurry, I
stayed to examine it, lest ever after I should have the conviction
impressed on my imagination that it was a creature of the other world.
My surprise and perplexity were great on discovering, by touch more
than vision, Miss Isabella’s springer, Fanny, suspended by a
handkerchief, and nearly at its last gasp. I quickly released the
animal, and lifted it into the garden. I had seen it follow its
mistress upstairs when she went to bed; and wondered much how it could
have got out there, and what mischievous person had treated it so.
While untying the knot round the hook, it seemed to me that I
repeatedly caught the beat of horses’ feet galloping at some distance;
but there were such a number of things to occupy my reflections that I
hardly gave the circumstance a thought: though it was a strange sound,
in that place, at two o’clock in the morning.

Mr. Kenneth was fortunately just issuing from his house to see a
patient in the village as I came up the street; and my account of
Catherine Linton’s malady induced him to accompany me back immediately.
He was a plain rough man; and he made no scruple to speak his doubts of
her surviving this second attack; unless she were more submissive to
his directions than she had shown herself before.

“Nelly Dean,” said he, “I can’t help fancying there’s an extra cause
for this. What has there been to do at the Grange? We’ve odd reports up
here. A stout, hearty lass like Catherine does not fall ill for a
trifle; and that sort of people should not either. It’s hard work
bringing them through fevers, and such things. How did it begin?”

“The master will inform you,” I answered; “but you are acquainted with
the Earnshaws’ violent dispositions, and Mrs. Linton caps them all. I
may say this; it commenced in a quarrel. She was struck during a
tempest of passion with a kind of fit. That’s her account, at least:
for she flew off in the height of it, and locked herself up.
Afterwards, she refused to eat, and now she alternately raves and
remains in a half dream; knowing those about her, but having her mind
filled with all sorts of strange ideas and illusions.”

“Mr. Linton will be sorry?” observed Kenneth, interrogatively.

“Sorry? he’ll break his heart should anything happen!” I replied.
“Don’t alarm him more than necessary.”

“Well, I told him to beware,” said my companion; “and he must bide the
consequences of neglecting my warning! Hasn’t he been intimate with Mr.
Heathcliff lately?”

“Heathcliff frequently visits at the Grange,” answered I, “though more
on the strength of the mistress having known him when a boy, than
because the master likes his company. At present he’s discharged from
the trouble of calling; owing to some presumptuous aspirations after
Miss Linton which he manifested. I hardly think he’ll be taken in
again.”

“And does Miss Linton turn a cold shoulder on him?” was the doctor’s
next question.

“I’m not in her confidence,” returned I, reluctant to continue the
subject.

“No, she’s a sly one,” he remarked, shaking his head. “She keeps her
own counsel! But she’s a real little fool. I have it from good
authority that last night (and a pretty night it was!) she and
Heathcliff were walking in the plantation at the back of your house
above two hours; and he pressed her not to go in again, but just mount
his horse and away with him! My informant said she could only put him
off by pledging her word of honour to be prepared on their first
meeting after that: when it was to be he didn’t hear; but you urge Mr.
Linton to look sharp!”

This news filled me with fresh fears; I outstripped Kenneth, and ran
most of the way back. The little dog was yelping in the garden yet. I
spared a minute to open the gate for it, but instead of going to the
house door, it coursed up and down snuffing the grass, and would have
escaped to the road, had I not seized it and conveyed it in with me. On
ascending to Isabella’s room, my suspicions were confirmed: it was
empty. Had I been a few hours sooner Mrs. Linton’s illness might have
arrested her rash step. But what could be done now? There was a bare
possibility of overtaking them if pursued instantly. _I_ could not
pursue them, however; and I dared not rouse the family, and fill the
place with confusion; still less unfold the business to my master,
absorbed as he was in his present calamity, and having no heart to
spare for a second grief! I saw nothing for it but to hold my tongue,
and suffer matters to take their course; and Kenneth being arrived, I
went with a badly composed countenance to announce him. Catherine lay
in a troubled sleep: her husband had succeeded in soothing the excess
of frenzy; he now hung over her pillow, watching every shade and every
change of her painfully expressive features.

The doctor, on examining the case for himself, spoke hopefully to him
of its having a favourable termination, if we could only preserve
around her perfect and constant tranquillity. To me, he signified the
threatening danger was not so much death, as permanent alienation of
intellect.

I did not close my eyes that night, nor did Mr. Linton: indeed, we
never went to bed; and the servants were all up long before the usual
hour, moving through the house with stealthy tread, and exchanging
whispers as they encountered each other in their vocations. Every one
was active but Miss Isabella; and they began to remark how sound she
slept: her brother, too, asked if she had risen, and seemed impatient
for her presence, and hurt that she showed so little anxiety for her
sister-in-law. I trembled lest he should send me to call her; but I was
spared the pain of being the first proclaimant of her flight. One of
the maids, a thoughtless girl, who had been on an early errand to
Gimmerton, came panting upstairs, open-mouthed, and dashed into the
chamber, crying: “Oh, dear, dear! What mun we have next? Master,
master, our young lady—”

“Hold your noise!” cried, I hastily, enraged at her clamorous manner.

“Speak lower, Mary—What is the matter?” said Mr. Linton. “What ails
your young lady?”

“She’s gone, she’s gone! Yon’ Heathcliff’s run off wi’ her!” gasped the
girl.

“That is not true!” exclaimed Linton, rising in agitation. “It cannot
be: how has the idea entered your head? Ellen Dean, go and seek her. It
is incredible: it cannot be.”

As he spoke he took the servant to the door, and then repeated his
demand to know her reasons for such an assertion.

“Why, I met on the road a lad that fetches milk here,” she stammered,
“and he asked whether we weren’t in trouble at the Grange. I thought he
meant for missis’s sickness, so I answered, yes. Then says he, ‘There’s
somebody gone after ’em, I guess?’ I stared. He saw I knew nought about
it, and he told how a gentleman and lady had stopped to have a horse’s
shoe fastened at a blacksmith’s shop, two miles out of Gimmerton, not
very long after midnight! and how the blacksmith’s lass had got up to
spy who they were: she knew them both directly. And she noticed the
man—Heathcliff it was, she felt certain: nob’dy could mistake him,
besides—put a sovereign in her father’s hand for payment. The lady had
a cloak about her face; but having desired a sup of water, while she
drank it fell back, and she saw her very plain. Heathcliff held both
bridles as they rode on, and they set their faces from the village, and
went as fast as the rough roads would let them. The lass said nothing
to her father, but she told it all over Gimmerton this morning.”

I ran and peeped, for form’s sake, into Isabella’s room; confirming,
when I returned, the servant’s statement. Mr. Linton had resumed his
seat by the bed; on my re-entrance, he raised his eyes, read the
meaning of my blank aspect, and dropped them without giving an order,
or uttering a word.

“Are we to try any measures for overtaking and bringing her back,” I
inquired. “How should we do?”

“She went of her own accord,” answered the master; “she had a right to
go if she pleased. Trouble me no more about her. Hereafter she is only
my sister in name: not because I disown her, but because she has
disowned me.”

And that was all he said on the subject: he did not make single inquiry
further, or mention her in any way, except directing me to send what
property she had in the house to her fresh home, wherever it was, when
I knew it.



CHAPTER XIII


For two months the fugitives remained absent; in those two months, Mrs.
Linton encountered and conquered the worst shock of what was
denominated a brain fever. No mother could have nursed an only child
more devotedly than Edgar tended her. Day and night he was watching,
and patiently enduring all the annoyances that irritable nerves and a
shaken reason could inflict; and, though Kenneth remarked that what he
saved from the grave would only recompense his care by forming the
source of constant future anxiety—in fact, that his health and strength
were being sacrificed to preserve a mere ruin of humanity—he knew no
limits in gratitude and joy when Catherine’s life was declared out of
danger; and hour after hour he would sit beside her, tracing the
gradual return to bodily health, and flattering his too sanguine hopes
with the illusion that her mind would settle back to its right balance
also, and she would soon be entirely her former self.

The first time she left her chamber was at the commencement of the
following March. Mr. Linton had put on her pillow, in the morning, a
handful of golden crocuses; her eye, long stranger to any gleam of
pleasure, caught them in waking, and shone delighted as she gathered
them eagerly together.

“These are the earliest flowers at the Heights,” she exclaimed. “They
remind me of soft thaw winds, and warm sunshine, and nearly melted
snow. Edgar, is there not a south wind, and is not the snow almost
gone?”

“The snow is quite gone down here, darling,” replied her husband; “and
I only see two white spots on the whole range of moors: the sky is
blue, and the larks are singing, and the becks and brooks are all brim
full. Catherine, last spring at this time, I was longing to have you
under this roof; now, I wish you were a mile or two up those hills: the
air blows so sweetly, I feel that it would cure you.”

“I shall never be there but once more,” said the invalid; “and then
you’ll leave me, and I shall remain for ever. Next spring you’ll long
again to have me under this roof, and you’ll look back and think you
were happy to-day.”

Linton lavished on her the kindest caresses, and tried to cheer her by
the fondest words; but, vaguely regarding the flowers, she let the
tears collect on her lashes and stream down her cheeks unheeding. We
knew she was really better, and, therefore, decided that long
confinement to a single place produced much of this despondency, and it
might be partially removed by a change of scene. The master told me to
light a fire in the many-weeks’ deserted parlour, and to set an
easy-chair in the sunshine by the window; and then he brought her down,
and she sat a long while enjoying the genial heat, and, as we expected,
revived by the objects round her: which, though familiar, were free
from the dreary associations investing her hated sick chamber. By
evening she seemed greatly exhausted; yet no arguments could persuade
her to return to that apartment, and I had to arrange the parlour sofa
for her bed, till another room could be prepared. To obviate the
fatigue of mounting and descending the stairs, we fitted up this, where
you lie at present—on the same floor with the parlour; and she was soon
strong enough to move from one to the other, leaning on Edgar’s arm.
Ah, I thought myself, she might recover, so waited on as she was. And
there was double cause to desire it, for on her existence depended that
of another: we cherished the hope that in a little while Mr. Linton’s
heart would be gladdened, and his lands secured from a stranger’s grip,
by the birth of an heir.

I should mention that Isabella sent to her brother, some six weeks from
her departure, a short note, announcing her marriage with Heathcliff.
It appeared dry and cold; but at the bottom was dotted in with pencil
an obscure apology, and an entreaty for kind remembrance and
reconciliation, if her proceeding had offended him: asserting that she
could not help it then, and being done, she had now no power to repeal
it. Linton did not reply to this, I believe; and, in a fortnight more,
I got a long letter, which I considered odd, coming from the pen of a
bride just out of the honeymoon. I’ll read it: for I keep it yet. Any
relic of the dead is precious, if they were valued living.

* * * * *


DEAR ELLEN, it begins,—I came last night to Wuthering Heights, and
heard, for the first time, that Catherine has been, and is yet, very
ill. I must not write to her, I suppose, and my brother is either too
angry or too distressed to answer what I sent him. Still, I must write
to somebody, and the only choice left me is you.

Inform Edgar that I’d give the world to see his face again—that my
heart returned to Thrushcross Grange in twenty-four hours after I left
it, and is there at this moment, full of warm feelings for him, and
Catherine! _I can’t follow it though_—(these words are underlined)—they
need not expect me, and they may draw what conclusions they please;
taking care, however, to lay nothing at the door of my weak will or
deficient affection.

The remainder of the letter is for yourself alone. I want to ask you
two questions: the first is,—How did you contrive to preserve the
common sympathies of human nature when you resided here? I cannot
recognise any sentiment which those around share with me.

The second question I have great interest in; it is this—Is Mr.
Heathcliff a man? If so, is he mad? And if not, is he a devil? I
sha’n’t tell my reasons for making this inquiry; but I beseech you to
explain, if you can, what I have married: that is, when you call to see
me; and you must call, Ellen, very soon. Don’t write, but come, and
bring me something from Edgar.

Now, you shall hear how I have been received in my new home, as I am
led to imagine the Heights will be. It is to amuse myself that I dwell
on such subjects as the lack of external comforts: they never occupy my
thoughts, except at the moment when I miss them. I should laugh and
dance for joy, if I found their absence was the total of my miseries,
and the rest was an unnatural dream!

The sun set behind the Grange as we turned on to the moors; by that, I
judged it to be six o’clock; and my companion halted half an hour, to
inspect the park, and the gardens, and, probably, the place itself, as
well as he could; so it was dark when we dismounted in the paved yard
of the farm-house, and your old fellow-servant, Joseph, issued out to
receive us by the light of a dip candle. He did it with a courtesy that
redounded to his credit. His first act was to elevate his torch to a
level with my face, squint malignantly, project his under-lip, and turn
away. Then he took the two horses, and led them into the stables;
reappearing for the purpose of locking the outer gate, as if we lived
in an ancient castle.

Heathcliff stayed to speak to him, and I entered the kitchen—a dingy,
untidy hole; I daresay you would not know it, it is so changed since it
was in your charge. By the fire stood a ruffianly child, strong in limb
and dirty in garb, with a look of Catherine in his eyes and about his
mouth.

“This is Edgar’s legal nephew,” I reflected—“mine in a manner; I must
shake hands, and—yes—I must kiss him. It is right to establish a good
understanding at the beginning.”

I approached, and, attempting to take his chubby fist, said—“How do you
do, my dear?”

He replied in a jargon I did not comprehend.

“Shall you and I be friends, Hareton?” was my next essay at
conversation.

An oath, and a threat to set Throttler on me if I did not “frame off”
rewarded my perseverance.

“Hey, Throttler, lad!” whispered the little wretch, rousing a half-bred
bull-dog from its lair in a corner. “Now, wilt thou be ganging?” he
asked authoritatively.

Love for my life urged a compliance; I stepped over the threshold to
wait till the others should enter. Mr. Heathcliff was nowhere visible;
and Joseph, whom I followed to the stables, and requested to accompany
me in, after staring and muttering to himself, screwed up his nose and
replied—“Mim! mim! mim! Did iver Christian body hear aught like it?
Mincing un’ munching! How can I tell whet ye say?”

“I say, I wish you to come with me into the house!” I cried, thinking
him deaf, yet highly disgusted at his rudeness.

“None o’ me! I getten summut else to do,” he answered, and continued
his work; moving his lantern jaws meanwhile, and surveying my dress and
countenance (the former a great deal too fine, but the latter, I’m
sure, as sad as he could desire) with sovereign contempt.

I walked round the yard, and through a wicket, to another door, at
which I took the liberty of knocking, in hopes some more civil servant
might show himself. After a short suspense, it was opened by a tall,
gaunt man, without neckerchief, and otherwise extremely slovenly; his
features were lost in masses of shaggy hair that hung on his shoulders;
and _his_ eyes, too, were like a ghostly Catherine’s with all their
beauty annihilated.

“What’s your business here?” he demanded, grimly. “Who are you?”

“My name was Isabella Linton,” I replied. “You’ve seen me before, sir.
I’m lately married to Mr. Heathcliff, and he has brought me here—I
suppose, by your permission.”

“Is he come back, then?” asked the hermit, glaring like a hungry wolf.

“Yes—we came just now,” I said; “but he left me by the kitchen door;
and when I would have gone in, your little boy played sentinel over the
place, and frightened me off by the help of a bull-dog.”

“It’s well the hellish villain has kept his word!” growled my future
host, searching the darkness beyond me in expectation of discovering
Heathcliff; and then he indulged in a soliloquy of execrations, and
threats of what he would have done had the “fiend” deceived him.

I repented having tried this second entrance, and was almost inclined
to slip away before he finished cursing, but ere I could execute that
intention, he ordered me in, and shut and re-fastened the door. There
was a great fire, and that was all the light in the huge apartment,
whose floor had grown a uniform grey; and the once brilliant
pewter-dishes, which used to attract my gaze when I was a girl, partook
of a similar obscurity, created by tarnish and dust. I inquired whether
I might call the maid, and be conducted to a bedroom! Mr. Earnshaw
vouchsafed no answer. He walked up and down, with his hands in his
pockets, apparently quite forgetting my presence; and his abstraction
was evidently so deep, and his whole aspect so misanthropical, that I
shrank from disturbing him again.

You’ll not be surprised, Ellen, at my feeling particularly cheerless,
seated in worse than solitude on that inhospitable hearth, and
remembering that four miles distant lay my delightful home, containing
the only people I loved on earth; and there might as well be the
Atlantic to part us, instead of those four miles: I could not overpass
them! I questioned with myself—where must I turn for comfort? and—mind
you don’t tell Edgar, or Catherine—above every sorrow beside, this rose
pre-eminent: despair at finding nobody who could or would be my ally
against Heathcliff! I had sought shelter at Wuthering Heights, almost
gladly, because I was secured by that arrangement from living alone
with him; but he knew the people we were coming amongst, and he did not
fear their intermeddling.

I sat and thought a doleful time: the clock struck eight, and nine, and
still my companion paced to and fro, his head bent on his breast, and
perfectly silent, unless a groan or a bitter ejaculation forced itself
out at intervals. I listened to detect a woman’s voice in the house,
and filled the interim with wild regrets and dismal anticipations,
which, at last, spoke audibly in irrepressible sighing and weeping. I
was not aware how openly I grieved, till Earnshaw halted opposite, in
his measured walk, and gave me a stare of newly-awakened surprise.
Taking advantage of his recovered attention, I exclaimed—“I’m tired
with my journey, and I want to go to bed! Where is the maid-servant?
Direct me to her, as she won’t come to me!”

“We have none,” he answered; “you must wait on yourself!”

“Where must I sleep, then?” I sobbed; I was beyond regarding
self-respect, weighed down by fatigue and wretchedness.

“Joseph will show you Heathcliff’s chamber,” said he; “open that
door—he’s in there.”

I was going to obey, but he suddenly arrested me, and added in the
strangest tone—“Be so good as to turn your lock, and draw your
bolt—don’t omit it!”

“Well!” I said. “But why, Mr. Earnshaw?” I did not relish the notion of
deliberately fastening myself in with Heathcliff.

“Look here!” he replied, pulling from his waistcoat a
curiously-constructed pistol, having a double-edged spring knife
attached to the barrel. “That’s a great tempter to a desperate man, is
it not? I cannot resist going up with this every night, and trying his
door. If once I find it open he’s done for; I do it invariably, even
though the minute before I have been recalling a hundred reasons that
should make me refrain: it is some devil that urges me to thwart my own
schemes by killing him. You fight against that devil for love as long
as you may; when the time comes, not all the angels in heaven shall
save him!”

I surveyed the weapon inquisitively. A hideous notion struck me: how
powerful I should be possessing such an instrument! I took it from his
hand, and touched the blade. He looked astonished at the expression my
face assumed during a brief second: it was not horror, it was
covetousness. He snatched the pistol back, jealously; shut the knife,
and returned it to its concealment.

“I don’t care if you tell him,” said he. “Put him on his guard, and
watch for him. You know the terms we are on, I see: his danger does not
shock you.”

“What has Heathcliff done to you?” I asked. “In what has he wronged
you, to warrant this appalling hatred? Wouldn’t it be wiser to bid him
quit the house?”

“No!” thundered Earnshaw; “should he offer to leave me, he’s a dead
man: persuade him to attempt it, and you are a murderess! Am I to lose
_all_, without a chance of retrieval? Is Hareton to be a beggar? Oh,
damnation! I _will_ have it back; and I’ll have _his_ gold too; and
then his blood; and hell shall have his soul! It will be ten times
blacker with that guest than ever it was before!”

You’ve acquainted me, Ellen, with your old master’s habits. He is
clearly on the verge of madness: he was so last night at least. I
shuddered to be near him, and thought on the servant’s ill-bred
moroseness as comparatively agreeable. He now recommenced his moody
walk, and I raised the latch, and escaped into the kitchen. Joseph was
bending over the fire, peering into a large pan that swung above it;
and a wooden bowl of oatmeal stood on the settle close by. The contents
of the pan began to boil, and he turned to plunge his hand into the
bowl; I conjectured that this preparation was probably for our supper,
and, being hungry, I resolved it should be eatable; so, crying out
sharply, “_I’ll_ make the porridge!” I removed the vessel out of his
reach, and proceeded to take off my hat and riding-habit. “Mr.
Earnshaw,” I continued, “directs me to wait on myself: I will. I’m not
going to act the lady among you, for fear I should starve.”

“Gooid Lord!” he muttered, sitting down, and stroking his ribbed
stockings from the knee to the ankle. “If there’s to be fresh
ortherings—just when I getten used to two maisters, if I mun hev’ a
_mistress_ set o’er my heead, it’s like time to be flitting. I niver
_did_ think to see t’ day that I mud lave th’ owld place—but I doubt
it’s nigh at hand!”

This lamentation drew no notice from me: I went briskly to work,
sighing to remember a period when it would have been all merry fun; but
compelled speedily to drive off the remembrance. It racked me to recall
past happiness and the greater peril there was of conjuring up its
apparition, the quicker the thible ran round, and the faster the
handfuls of meal fell into the water. Joseph beheld my style of cookery
with growing indignation.

“Thear!” he ejaculated. “Hareton, thou willn’t sup thy porridge
to-neeght; they’ll be naught but lumps as big as my neive. Thear,
agean! I’d fling in bowl un’ all, if I wer ye! There, pale t’ guilp
off, un’ then ye’ll hae done wi’t. Bang, bang. It’s a mercy t’ bothom
isn’t deaved out!”

It _was_ rather a rough mess, I own, when poured into the basins; four
had been provided, and a gallon pitcher of new milk was brought from
the dairy, which Hareton seized and commenced drinking and spilling
from the expansive lip. I expostulated, and desired that he should have
his in a mug; affirming that I could not taste the liquid treated so
dirtily. The old cynic chose to be vastly offended at this nicety;
assuring me, repeatedly, that “the barn was every bit as good” as I,
“and every bit as wollsome,” and wondering how I could fashion to be so
conceited. Meanwhile, the infant ruffian continued sucking; and
glowered up at me defyingly, as he slavered into the jug.

“I shall have my supper in another room,” I said. “Have you no place
you call a parlour?”

“_Parlour_!” he echoed, sneeringly, “_parlour_! Nay, we’ve noa
_parlours_. If yah dunnut loike wer company, there’s maister’s; un’ if
yah dunnut loike maister, there’s us.”

“Then I shall go upstairs,” I answered; “show me a chamber.”

I put my basin on a tray, and went myself to fetch some more milk. With
great grumblings, the fellow rose, and preceded me in my ascent: we
mounted to the garrets; he opened a door, now and then, to look into
the apartments we passed.

“Here’s a rahm,” he said, at last, flinging back a cranky board on
hinges. “It’s weel eneugh to ate a few porridge in. There’s a pack o’
corn i’ t’ corner, thear, meeterly clane; if ye’re feared o’ muckying
yer grand silk cloes, spread yer hankerchir o’ t’ top on’t.”

The “rahm” was a kind of lumber-hole smelling strong of malt and grain;
various sacks of which articles were piled around, leaving a wide, bare
space in the middle.

“Why, man,” I exclaimed, facing him angrily, “this is not a place to
sleep in. I wish to see my bed-room.”

“_Bed-rume_!” he repeated, in a tone of mockery. “Yah’s see all t’
_bed-rumes_ thear is—yon’s mine.”

He pointed into the second garret, only differing from the first in
being more naked about the walls, and having a large, low, curtainless
bed, with an indigo-coloured quilt, at one end.

“What do I want with yours?” I retorted. “I suppose Mr. Heathcliff does
not lodge at the top of the house, does he?”

“Oh! it’s Maister _Hathecliff’s_ ye’re wanting?” cried he, as if making
a new discovery. “Couldn’t ye ha’ said soa, at onst? un’ then, I mud
ha’ telled ye, baht all this wark, that that’s just one ye cannut
see—he allas keeps it locked, un’ nob’dy iver mells on’t but hisseln.”

“You’ve a nice house, Joseph,” I could not refrain from observing, “and
pleasant inmates; and I think the concentrated essence of all the
madness in the world took up its abode in my brain the day I linked my
fate with theirs! However, that is not to the present purpose—there are
other rooms. For heaven’s sake be quick, and let me settle somewhere!”

He made no reply to this adjuration; only plodding doggedly down the
wooden steps, and halting, before an apartment which, from that halt
and the superior quality of its furniture, I conjectured to be the best
one. There was a carpet—a good one, but the pattern was obliterated by
dust; a fireplace hung with cut-paper, dropping to pieces; a handsome
oak-bedstead with ample crimson curtains of rather expensive material
and modern make; but they had evidently experienced rough usage: the
vallances hung in festoons, wrenched from their rings, and the iron rod
supporting them was bent in an arc on one side, causing the drapery to
trail upon the floor. The chairs were also damaged, many of them
severely; and deep indentations deformed the panels of the walls. I was
endeavouring to gather resolution for entering and taking possession,
when my fool of a guide announced,—“This here is t’ maister’s.” My
supper by this time was cold, my appetite gone, and my patience
exhausted. I insisted on being provided instantly with a place of
refuge, and means of repose.

“Whear the divil?” began the religious elder. “The Lord bless us! The
Lord forgie us! Whear the _hell_ wold ye gang? ye marred, wearisome
nowt! Ye’ve seen all but Hareton’s bit of a cham’er. There’s not
another hoile to lig down in i’ th’ hahse!”

I was so vexed, I flung my tray and its contents on the ground; and
then seated myself at the stairs’-head, hid my face in my hands, and
cried.

“Ech! ech!” exclaimed Joseph. “Weel done, Miss Cathy! weel done, Miss
Cathy! Howsiver, t’ maister sall just tum’le o’er them brooken pots;
un’ then we’s hear summut; we’s hear how it’s to be. Gooid-for-naught
madling! ye desarve pining fro’ this to Chrustmas, flinging t’ precious
gifts o’God under fooit i’ yer flaysome rages! But I’m mista’en if ye
shew yer sperrit lang. Will Hathecliff bide sich bonny ways, think ye?
I nobbut wish he may catch ye i’ that plisky. I nobbut wish he may.”

And so he went on scolding to his den beneath, taking the candle with
him; and I remained in the dark. The period of reflection succeeding
this silly action compelled me to admit the necessity of smothering my
pride and choking my wrath, and bestirring myself to remove its
effects. An unexpected aid presently appeared in the shape of
Throttler, whom I now recognised as a son of our old Skulker: it had
spent its whelphood at the Grange, and was given by my father to Mr.
Hindley. I fancy it knew me: it pushed its nose against mine by way of
salute, and then hastened to devour the porridge; while I groped from
step to step, collecting the shattered earthenware, and drying the
spatters of milk from the banister with my pocket-handkerchief. Our
labours were scarcely over when I heard Earnshaw’s tread in the
passage; my assistant tucked in his tail, and pressed to the wall; I
stole into the nearest doorway. The dog’s endeavour to avoid him was
unsuccessful; as I guessed by a scutter downstairs, and a prolonged,
piteous yelping. I had better luck: he passed on, entered his chamber,
and shut the door. Directly after Joseph came up with Hareton, to put
him to bed. I had found shelter in Hareton’s room, and the old man, on
seeing me, said,—“They’s rahm for boath ye un’ yer pride, now, I sud
think i’ the hahse. It’s empty; ye may hev’ it all to yerseln, un’ Him
as allus maks a third, i’ sich ill company!”

Gladly did I take advantage of this intimation; and the minute I flung
myself into a chair, by the fire, I nodded, and slept. My slumber was
deep and sweet, though over far too soon. Mr. Heathcliff awoke me; he
had just come in, and demanded, in his loving manner, what I was doing
there? I told him the cause of my staying up so late—that he had the
key of our room in his pocket. The adjective _our_ gave mortal offence.
He swore it was not, nor ever should be, mine; and he’d—but I’ll not
repeat his language, nor describe his habitual conduct: he is ingenious
and unresting in seeking to gain my abhorrence! I sometimes wonder at
him with an intensity that deadens my fear: yet, I assure you, a tiger
or a venomous serpent could not rouse terror in me equal to that which
he wakens. He told me of Catherine’s illness, and accused my brother of
causing it promising that I should be Edgar’s proxy in suffering, till
he could get hold of him.

I do hate him—I am wretched—I have been a fool! Beware of uttering one
breath of this to any one at the Grange. I shall expect you every
day—don’t disappoint me!—ISABELLA.



CHAPTER XIV


As soon as I had perused this epistle I went to the master, and
informed him that his sister had arrived at the Heights, and sent me a
letter expressing her sorrow for Mrs. Linton’s situation, and her
ardent desire to see him; with a wish that he would transmit to her, as
early as possible, some token of forgiveness by me.

“Forgiveness!” said Linton. “I have nothing to forgive her, Ellen. You
may call at Wuthering Heights this afternoon, if you like, and say that
I am not angry, but I’m sorry to have lost her; especially as I can
never think she’ll be happy. It is out of the question my going to see
her, however: we are eternally divided; and should she really wish to
oblige me, let her persuade the villain she has married to leave the
country.”

“And you won’t write her a little note, sir?” I asked, imploringly.

“No,” he answered. “It is needless. My communication with Heathcliff’s
family shall be as sparing as his with mine. It shall not exist!”

Mr. Edgar’s coldness depressed me exceedingly; and all the way from the
Grange I puzzled my brains how to put more heart into what he said,
when I repeated it; and how to soften his refusal of even a few lines
to console Isabella. I daresay she had been on the watch for me since
morning: I saw her looking through the lattice as I came up the garden
causeway, and I nodded to her; but she drew back, as if afraid of being
observed. I entered without knocking. There never was such a dreary,
dismal scene as the formerly cheerful house presented! I must confess,
that if I had been in the young lady’s place, I would, at least, have
swept the hearth, and wiped the tables with a duster. But she already
partook of the pervading spirit of neglect which encompassed her. Her
pretty face was wan and listless; her hair uncurled: some locks hanging
lankly down, and some carelessly twisted round her head. Probably she
had not touched her dress since yester evening. Hindley was not there.
Mr. Heathcliff sat at a table, turning over some papers in his
pocket-book; but he rose when I appeared, asked me how I did, quite
friendly, and offered me a chair. He was the only thing there that
seemed decent; and I thought he never looked better. So much had
circumstances altered their positions, that he would certainly have
struck a stranger as a born and bred gentleman; and his wife as a
thorough little slattern! She came forward eagerly to greet me, and
held out one hand to take the expected letter. I shook my head. She
wouldn’t understand the hint, but followed me to a sideboard, where I
went to lay my bonnet, and importuned me in a whisper to give her
directly what I had brought. Heathcliff guessed the meaning of her
manoeuvres, and said—“If you have got anything for Isabella (as no
doubt you have, Nelly), give it to her. You needn’t make a secret of
it: we have no secrets between us.”

“Oh, I have nothing,” I replied, thinking it best to speak the truth at
once. “My master bid me tell his sister that she must not expect either
a letter or a visit from him at present. He sends his love, ma’am, and
his wishes for your happiness, and his pardon for the grief you have
occasioned; but he thinks that after this time his household and the
household here should drop intercommunication, as nothing could come of
keeping it up.”

Mrs. Heathcliff’s lip quivered slightly, and she returned to her seat
in the window. Her husband took his stand on the hearthstone, near me,
and began to put questions concerning Catherine. I told him as much as
I thought proper of her illness, and he extorted from me, by
cross-examination, most of the facts connected with its origin. I
blamed her, as she deserved, for bringing it all on herself; and ended
by hoping that he would follow Mr. Linton’s example and avoid future
interference with his family, for good or evil.

“Mrs. Linton is now just recovering,” I said; “she’ll never be like she
was, but her life is spared; and if you really have a regard for her,
you’ll shun crossing her way again: nay, you’ll move out of this
country entirely; and that you may not regret it, I’ll inform you
Catherine Linton is as different now from your old friend Catherine
Earnshaw, as that young lady is different from me. Her appearance is
changed greatly, her character much more so; and the person who is
compelled, of necessity, to be her companion, will only sustain his
affection hereafter by the remembrance of what she once was, by common
humanity, and a sense of duty!”

“That is quite possible,” remarked Heathcliff, forcing himself to seem
calm: “quite possible that your master should have nothing but common
humanity and a sense of duty to fall back upon. But do you imagine that
I shall leave Catherine to his _duty_ and _humanity_? and can you
compare my feelings respecting Catherine to his? Before you leave this
house, I must exact a promise from you that you’ll get me an interview
with her: consent, or refuse, I _will_ see her! What do you say?”

“I say, Mr. Heathcliff,” I replied, “you must not: you never shall,
through my means. Another encounter between you and the master would
kill her altogether.”

“With your aid that may be avoided,” he continued; “and should there be
danger of such an event—should he be the cause of adding a single
trouble more to her existence—why, I think I shall be justified in
going to extremes! I wish you had sincerity enough to tell me whether
Catherine would suffer greatly from his loss: the fear that she would
restrains me. And there you see the distinction between our feelings:
had he been in my place, and I in his, though I hated him with a hatred
that turned my life to gall, I never would have raised a hand against
him. You may look incredulous, if you please! I never would have
banished him from her society as long as she desired his. The moment
her regard ceased, I would have torn his heart out, and drunk his
blood! But, till then—if you don’t believe me, you don’t know me—till
then, I would have died by inches before I touched a single hair of his
head!”

“And yet,” I interrupted, “you have no scruples in completely ruining
all hopes of her perfect restoration, by thrusting yourself into her
remembrance now, when she has nearly forgotten you, and involving her
in a new tumult of discord and distress.”

“You suppose she has nearly forgotten me?” he said. “Oh, Nelly! you
know she has not! You know as well as I do, that for every thought she
spends on Linton she spends a thousand on me! At a most miserable
period of my life, I had a notion of the kind: it haunted me on my
return to the neighbourhood last summer; but only her own assurance
could make me admit the horrible idea again. And then, Linton would be
nothing, nor Hindley, nor all the dreams that ever I dreamt. Two words
would comprehend my future—_death_ and _hell_: existence, after losing
her, would be hell. Yet I was a fool to fancy for a moment that she
valued Edgar Linton’s attachment more than mine. If he loved with all
the powers of his puny being, he couldn’t love as much in eighty years
as I could in a day. And Catherine has a heart as deep as I have: the
sea could be as readily contained in that horse-trough as her whole
affection be monopolised by him. Tush! He is scarcely a degree dearer
to her than her dog, or her horse. It is not in him to be loved like
me: how can she love in him what he has not?”

“Catherine and Edgar are as fond of each other as any two people can
be,” cried Isabella, with sudden vivacity. “No one has a right to talk
in that manner, and I won’t hear my brother depreciated in silence!”

“Your brother is wondrous fond of you too, isn’t he?” observed
Heathcliff, scornfully. “He turns you adrift on the world with
surprising alacrity.”

“He is not aware of what I suffer,” she replied. “I didn’t tell him
that.”

“You have been telling him something, then: you have written, have
you?”

“To say that I was married, I did write—you saw the note.”

“And nothing since?”

“No.”

“My young lady is looking sadly the worse for her change of condition,”
I remarked. “Somebody’s love comes short in her case, obviously; whose,
I may guess; but, perhaps, I shouldn’t say.”

“I should guess it was her own,” said Heathcliff. “She degenerates into
a mere slut! She is tired of trying to please me uncommonly early.
You’d hardly credit it, but the very morrow of our wedding she was
weeping to go home. However, she’ll suit this house so much the better
for not being over nice, and I’ll take care she does not disgrace me by
rambling abroad.”

“Well, sir,” returned I, “I hope you’ll consider that Mrs. Heathcliff
is accustomed to be looked after and waited on; and that she has been
brought up like an only daughter, whom every one was ready to serve.
You must let her have a maid to keep things tidy about her, and you
must treat her kindly. Whatever be your notion of Mr. Edgar, you cannot
doubt that she has a capacity for strong attachments, or she wouldn’t
have abandoned the elegancies, and comforts, and friends of her former
home, to fix contentedly, in such a wilderness as this, with you.”

“She abandoned them under a delusion,” he answered; “picturing in me a
hero of romance, and expecting unlimited indulgences from my chivalrous
devotion. I can hardly regard her in the light of a rational creature,
so obstinately has she persisted in forming a fabulous notion of my
character and acting on the false impressions she cherished. But, at
last, I think she begins to know me: I don’t perceive the silly smiles
and grimaces that provoked me at first; and the senseless incapability
of discerning that I was in earnest when I gave her my opinion of her
infatuation and herself. It was a marvellous effort of perspicacity to
discover that I did not love her. I believed, at one time, no lessons
could teach her that! And yet it is poorly learnt; for this morning she
announced, as a piece of appalling intelligence, that I had actually
succeeded in making her hate me! A positive labour of Hercules, I
assure you! If it be achieved, I have cause to return thanks. Can I
trust your assertion, Isabella? Are you sure you hate me? If I let you
alone for half a day, won’t you come sighing and wheedling to me again?
I daresay she would rather I had seemed all tenderness before you: it
wounds her vanity to have the truth exposed. But I don’t care who knows
that the passion was wholly on one side: and I never told her a lie
about it. She cannot accuse me of showing one bit of deceitful
softness. The first thing she saw me do, on coming out of the Grange,
was to hang up her little dog; and when she pleaded for it, the first
words I uttered were a wish that I had the hanging of every being
belonging to her, except one: possibly she took that exception for
herself. But no brutality disgusted her: I suppose she has an innate
admiration of it, if only her precious person were secure from injury!
Now, was it not the depth of absurdity—of genuine idiocy, for that
pitiful, slavish, mean-minded brach to dream that I could love her?
Tell your master, Nelly, that I never, in all my life, met with such an
abject thing as she is. She even disgraces the name of Linton; and I’ve
sometimes relented, from pure lack of invention, in my experiments on
what she could endure, and still creep shamefully cringing back! But
tell him, also, to set his fraternal and magisterial heart at ease:
that I keep strictly within the limits of the law. I have avoided, up
to this period, giving her the slightest right to claim a separation;
and, what’s more, she’d thank nobody for dividing us. If she desired to
go, she might: the nuisance of her presence outweighs the gratification
to be derived from tormenting her!”

“Mr. Heathcliff,” said I, “this is the talk of a madman; your wife,
most likely, is convinced you are mad; and, for that reason, she has
borne with you hitherto: but now that you say she may go, she’ll
doubtless avail herself of the permission. You are not so bewitched,
ma’am, are you, as to remain with him of your own accord?”

“Take care, Ellen!” answered Isabella, her eyes sparkling irefully;
there was no misdoubting by their expression the full success of her
partner’s endeavours to make himself detested. “Don’t put faith in a
single word he speaks. He’s a lying fiend! a monster, and not a human
being! I’ve been told I might leave him before; and I’ve made the
attempt, but I dare not repeat it! Only, Ellen, promise you’ll not
mention a syllable of his infamous conversation to my brother or
Catherine. Whatever he may pretend, he wishes to provoke Edgar to
desperation: he says he has married me on purpose to obtain power over
him; and he sha’n’t obtain it—I’ll die first! I just hope, I pray, that
he may forget his diabolical prudence and kill me! The single pleasure
I can imagine is to die, or to see him dead!”

“There—that will do for the present!” said Heathcliff. “If you are
called upon in a court of law, you’ll remember her language, Nelly! And
take a good look at that countenance: she’s near the point which would
suit me. No; you’re not fit to be your own guardian, Isabella, now; and
I, being your legal protector, must retain you in my custody, however
distasteful the obligation may be. Go upstairs; I have something to say
to Ellen Dean in private. That’s not the way: upstairs, I tell you!
Why, this is the road upstairs, child!”

He seized, and thrust her from the room; and returned muttering—“I have
no pity! I have no pity! The more the worms writhe, the more I yearn to
crush out their entrails! It is a moral teething; and I grind with
greater energy in proportion to the increase of pain.”

“Do you understand what the word pity means?” I said, hastening to
resume my bonnet. “Did you ever feel a touch of it in your life?”

“Put that down!” he interrupted, perceiving my intention to depart.
“You are not going yet. Come here now, Nelly: I must either persuade or
compel you to aid me in fulfilling my determination to see Catherine,
and that without delay. I swear that I meditate no harm: I don’t desire
to cause any disturbance, or to exasperate or insult Mr. Linton; I only
wish to hear from herself how she is, and why she has been ill; and to
ask if anything that I could do would be of use to her. Last night I
was in the Grange garden six hours, and I’ll return there to-night; and
every night I’ll haunt the place, and every day, till I find an
opportunity of entering. If Edgar Linton meets me, I shall not hesitate
to knock him down, and give him enough to insure his quiescence while I
stay. If his servants oppose me, I shall threaten them off with these
pistols. But wouldn’t it be better to prevent my coming in contact with
them, or their master? And you could do it so easily. I’d warn you when
I came, and then you might let me in unobserved, as soon as she was
alone, and watch till I departed, your conscience quite calm: you would
be hindering mischief.”

I protested against playing that treacherous part in my employer’s
house: and, besides, I urged the cruelty and selfishness of his
destroying Mrs. Linton’s tranquillity for his satisfaction. “The
commonest occurrence startles her painfully,” I said. “She’s all
nerves, and she couldn’t bear the surprise, I’m positive. Don’t
persist, sir! or else I shall be obliged to inform my master of your
designs; and he’ll take measures to secure his house and its inmates
from any such unwarrantable intrusions!”

“In that case I’ll take measures to secure you, woman!” exclaimed
Heathcliff; “you shall not leave Wuthering Heights till to-morrow
morning. It is a foolish story to assert that Catherine could not bear
to see me; and as to surprising her, I don’t desire it: you must
prepare her—ask her if I may come. You say she never mentions my name,
and that I am never mentioned to her. To whom should she mention me if
I am a forbidden topic in the house? She thinks you are all spies for
her husband. Oh, I’ve no doubt she’s in hell among you! I guess by her
silence, as much as anything, what she feels. You say she is often
restless, and anxious-looking: is that a proof of tranquillity? You
talk of her mind being unsettled. How the devil could it be otherwise
in her frightful isolation? And that insipid, paltry creature attending
her from _duty_ and _humanity_! From _pity_ and _charity_! He might as
well plant an oak in a flower-pot, and expect it to thrive, as imagine
he can restore her to vigour in the soil of his shallow cares? Let us
settle it at once: will you stay here, and am I to fight my way to
Catherine over Linton and his footman? Or will you be my friend, as you
have been hitherto, and do what I request? Decide! because there is no
reason for my lingering another minute, if you persist in your stubborn
ill-nature!”

Well, Mr. Lockwood, I argued and complained, and flatly refused him
fifty times; but in the long run he forced me to an agreement. I
engaged to carry a letter from him to my mistress; and should she
consent, I promised to let him have intelligence of Linton’s next
absence from home, when he might come, and get in as he was able: I
wouldn’t be there, and my fellow-servants should be equally out of the
way. Was it right or wrong? I fear it was wrong, though expedient. I
thought I prevented another explosion by my compliance; and I thought,
too, it might create a favourable crisis in Catherine’s mental illness:
and then I remembered Mr. Edgar’s stern rebuke of my carrying tales;
and I tried to smooth away all disquietude on the subject, by
affirming, with frequent iteration, that that betrayal of trust, if it
merited so harsh an appellation, should be the last. Notwithstanding,
my journey homeward was sadder than my journey thither; and many
misgivings I had, ere I could prevail on myself to put the missive into
Mrs. Linton’s hand.

But here is Kenneth; I’ll go down, and tell him how much better you
are. My history is _dree_, as we say, and will serve to while away
another morning.

Dree, and dreary! I reflected as the good woman descended to receive
the doctor: and not exactly of the kind which I should have chosen to
amuse me. But never mind! I’ll extract wholesome medicines from Mrs.
Dean’s bitter herbs; and firstly, let me beware of the fascination that
lurks in Catherine Heathcliff’s brilliant eyes. I should be in a
curious taking if I surrendered my heart to that young person, and the
daughter turned out a second edition of the mother.



CHAPTER XV


Another week over—and I am so many days nearer health, and spring! I
have now heard all my neighbour’s history, at different sittings, as
the housekeeper could spare time from more important occupations. I’ll
continue it in her own words, only a little condensed. She is, on the
whole, a very fair narrator, and I don’t think I could improve her
style.

In the evening, she said, the evening of my visit to the Heights, I
knew, as well as if I saw him, that Mr. Heathcliff was about the place;
and I shunned going out, because I still carried his letter in my
pocket, and didn’t want to be threatened or teased any more. I had made
up my mind not to give it till my master went somewhere, as I could not
guess how its receipt would affect Catherine. The consequence was, that
it did not reach her before the lapse of three days. The fourth was
Sunday, and I brought it into her room after the family were gone to
church. There was a manservant left to keep the house with me, and we
generally made a practice of locking the doors during the hours of
service; but on that occasion the weather was so warm and pleasant that
I set them wide open, and, to fulfil my engagement, as I knew who would
be coming, I told my companion that the mistress wished very much for
some oranges, and he must run over to the village and get a few, to be
paid for on the morrow. He departed, and I went upstairs.

Mrs. Linton sat in a loose white dress, with a light shawl over her
shoulders, in the recess of the open window, as usual. Her thick, long
hair had been partly removed at the beginning of her illness, and now
she wore it simply combed in its natural tresses over her temples and
neck. Her appearance was altered, as I had told Heathcliff; but when
she was calm, there seemed unearthly beauty in the change. The flash of
her eyes had been succeeded by a dreamy and melancholy softness; they
no longer gave the impression of looking at the objects around her:
they appeared always to gaze beyond, and far beyond—you would have said
out of this world. Then, the paleness of her face—its haggard aspect
having vanished as she recovered flesh—and the peculiar expression
arising from her mental state, though painfully suggestive of their
causes, added to the touching interest which she awakened;
and—invariably to me, I know, and to any person who saw her, I should
think—refuted more tangible proofs of convalescence, and stamped her as
one doomed to decay.

A book lay spread on the sill before her, and the scarcely perceptible
wind fluttered its leaves at intervals. I believe Linton had laid it
there: for she never endeavoured to divert herself with reading, or
occupation of any kind, and he would spend many an hour in trying to
entice her attention to some subject which had formerly been her
amusement. She was conscious of his aim, and in her better moods
endured his efforts placidly, only showing their uselessness by now and
then suppressing a wearied sigh, and checking him at last with the
saddest of smiles and kisses. At other times, she would turn petulantly
away, and hide her face in her hands, or even push him off angrily; and
then he took care to let her alone, for he was certain of doing no
good.

Gimmerton chapel bells were still ringing; and the full, mellow flow of
the beck in the valley came soothingly on the ear. It was a sweet
substitute for the yet absent murmur of the summer foliage, which
drowned that music about the Grange when the trees were in leaf. At
Wuthering Heights it always sounded on quiet days following a great
thaw or a season of steady rain. And of Wuthering Heights Catherine was
thinking as she listened: that is, if she thought or listened at all;
but she had the vague, distant look I mentioned before, which expressed
no recognition of material things either by ear or eye.

“There’s a letter for you, Mrs. Linton,” I said, gently inserting it in
one hand that rested on her knee. “You must read it immediately,
because it wants an answer. Shall I break the seal?” “Yes,” she
answered, without altering the direction of her eyes. I opened it—it
was very short. “Now,” I continued, “read it.” She drew away her hand,
and let it fall. I replaced it in her lap, and stood waiting till it
should please her to glance down; but that movement was so long delayed
that at last I resumed—“Must I read it, ma’am? It is from Mr.
Heathcliff.”

There was a start and a troubled gleam of recollection, and a struggle
to arrange her ideas. She lifted the letter, and seemed to peruse it;
and when she came to the signature she sighed: yet still I found she
had not gathered its import, for, upon my desiring to hear her reply,
she merely pointed to the name, and gazed at me with mournful and
questioning eagerness.

“Well, he wishes to see you,” said I, guessing her need of an
interpreter. “He’s in the garden by this time, and impatient to know
what answer I shall bring.”

As I spoke, I observed a large dog lying on the sunny grass beneath
raise its ears as if about to bark, and then smoothing them back,
announce, by a wag of the tail, that some one approached whom it did
not consider a stranger. Mrs. Linton bent forward, and listened
breathlessly. The minute after a step traversed the hall; the open
house was too tempting for Heathcliff to resist walking in: most likely
he supposed that I was inclined to shirk my promise, and so resolved to
trust to his own audacity. With straining eagerness Catherine gazed
towards the entrance of her chamber. He did not hit the right room
directly: she motioned me to admit him, but he found it out ere I could
reach the door, and in a stride or two was at her side, and had her
grasped in his arms.

He neither spoke nor loosed his hold for some five minutes, during
which period he bestowed more kisses than ever he gave in his life
before, I daresay: but then my mistress had kissed him first, and I
plainly saw that he could hardly bear, for downright agony, to look
into her face! The same conviction had stricken him as me, from the
instant he beheld her, that there was no prospect of ultimate recovery
there—she was fated, sure to die.

“Oh, Cathy! Oh, my life! how can I bear it?” was the first sentence he
uttered, in a tone that did not seek to disguise his despair. And now
he stared at her so earnestly that I thought the very intensity of his
gaze would bring tears into his eyes; but they burned with anguish:
they did not melt.

“What now?” said Catherine, leaning back, and returning his look with a
suddenly clouded brow: her humour was a mere vane for constantly
varying caprices. “You and Edgar have broken my heart, Heathcliff! And
you both come to bewail the deed to me, as if you were the people to be
pitied! I shall not pity you, not I. You have killed me—and thriven on
it, I think. How strong you are! How many years do you mean to live
after I am gone?”

Heathcliff had knelt on one knee to embrace her; he attempted to rise,
but she seized his hair, and kept him down.

“I wish I could hold you,” she continued, bitterly, “till we were both
dead! I shouldn’t care what you suffered. I care nothing for your
sufferings. Why shouldn’t you suffer? I do! Will you forget me? Will
you be happy when I am in the earth? Will you say twenty years hence,
‘That’s the grave of Catherine Earnshaw? I loved her long ago, and was
wretched to lose her; but it is past. I’ve loved many others since: my
children are dearer to me than she was; and, at death, I shall not
rejoice that I am going to her: I shall be sorry that I must leave
them!’ Will you say so, Heathcliff?”

“Don’t torture me till I’m as mad as yourself,” cried he, wrenching his
head free, and grinding his teeth.

The two, to a cool spectator, made a strange and fearful picture. Well
might Catherine deem that heaven would be a land of exile to her,
unless with her mortal body she cast away her moral character also. Her
present countenance had a wild vindictiveness in its white cheek, and a
bloodless lip and scintillating eye; and she retained in her closed
fingers a portion of the locks she had been grasping. As to her
companion, while raising himself with one hand, he had taken her arm
with the other; and so inadequate was his stock of gentleness to the
requirements of her condition, that on his letting go I saw four
distinct impressions left blue in the colourless skin.

“Are you possessed with a devil,” he pursued, savagely, “to talk in
that manner to me when you are dying? Do you reflect that all those
words will be branded in my memory, and eating deeper eternally after
you have left me? You know you lie to say I have killed you: and,
Catherine, you know that I could as soon forget you as my existence! Is
it not sufficient for your infernal selfishness, that while you are at
peace I shall writhe in the torments of hell?”

“I shall not be at peace,” moaned Catherine, recalled to a sense of
physical weakness by the violent, unequal throbbing of her heart, which
beat visibly and audibly under this excess of agitation. She said
nothing further till the paroxysm was over; then she continued, more
kindly—

“I’m not wishing you greater torment than I have, Heathcliff. I only
wish us never to be parted: and should a word of mine distress you
hereafter, think I feel the same distress underground, and for my own
sake, forgive me! Come here and kneel down again! You never harmed me
in your life. Nay, if you nurse anger, that will be worse to remember
than my harsh words! Won’t you come here again? Do!”

Heathcliff went to the back of her chair, and leant over, but not so
far as to let her see his face, which was livid with emotion. She bent
round to look at him; he would not permit it: turning abruptly, he
walked to the fireplace, where he stood, silent, with his back towards
us. Mrs. Linton’s glance followed him suspiciously: every movement woke
a new sentiment in her. After a pause and a prolonged gaze, she
resumed; addressing me in accents of indignant disappointment:—

“Oh, you see, Nelly, he would not relent a moment to keep me out of the
grave. _That_ is how I’m loved! Well, never mind. That is not _my_
Heathcliff. I shall love mine yet; and take him with me: he’s in my
soul. And,” added she musingly, “the thing that irks me most is this
shattered prison, after all. I’m tired of being enclosed here. I’m
wearying to escape into that glorious world, and to be always there:
not seeing it dimly through tears, and yearning for it through the
walls of an aching heart: but really with it, and in it. Nelly, you
think you are better and more fortunate than I; in full health and
strength: you are sorry for me—very soon that will be altered. I shall
be sorry for _you_. I shall be incomparably beyond and above you all. I
_wonder_ he won’t be near me!” She went on to herself. “I thought he
wished it. Heathcliff, dear! you should not be sullen now. Do come to
me, Heathcliff.”

In her eagerness she rose and supported herself on the arm of the
chair. At that earnest appeal he turned to her, looking absolutely
desperate. His eyes, wide and wet, at last flashed fiercely on her; his
breast heaved convulsively. An instant they held asunder, and then how
they met I hardly saw, but Catherine made a spring, and he caught her,
and they were locked in an embrace from which I thought my mistress
would never be released alive: in fact, to my eyes, she seemed directly
insensible. He flung himself into the nearest seat, and on my
approaching hurriedly to ascertain if she had fainted, he gnashed at
me, and foamed like a mad dog, and gathered her to him with greedy
jealousy. I did not feel as if I were in the company of a creature of
my own species: it appeared that he would not understand, though I
spoke to him; so I stood off, and held my tongue, in great perplexity.

A movement of Catherine’s relieved me a little presently: she put up
her hand to clasp his neck, and bring her cheek to his as he held her;
while he, in return, covering her with frantic caresses, said wildly—

“You teach me now how cruel you’ve been—cruel and false. _Why_ did you
despise me? _Why_ did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have not one
word of comfort. You deserve this. You have killed yourself. Yes, you
may kiss me, and cry; and wring out my kisses and tears: they’ll blight
you—they’ll damn you. You loved me—then what _right_ had you to leave
me? What right—answer me—for the poor fancy you felt for Linton?
Because misery and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or
Satan could inflict would have parted us, _you_, of your own will, did
it. I have not broken your heart—_you_ have broken it; and in breaking
it, you have broken mine. So much the worse for me that I am strong. Do
I want to live? What kind of living will it be when you—oh, God! would
_you_ like to live with your soul in the grave?”

“Let me alone. Let me alone,” sobbed Catherine. “If I’ve done wrong,
I’m dying for it. It is enough! You left me too: but I won’t upbraid
you! I forgive you. Forgive me!”

“It is hard to forgive, and to look at those eyes, and feel those
wasted hands,” he answered. “Kiss me again; and don’t let me see your
eyes! I forgive what you have done to me. I love _my_ murderer—but
_yours_! How can I?”

They were silent—their faces hid against each other, and washed by each
other’s tears. At least, I suppose the weeping was on both sides; as it
seemed Heathcliff could weep on a great occasion like this.

I grew very uncomfortable, meanwhile; for the afternoon wore fast away,
the man whom I had sent off returned from his errand, and I could
distinguish, by the shine of the western sun up the valley, a concourse
thickening outside Gimmerton chapel porch.

“Service is over,” I announced. “My master will be here in half an
hour.”

Heathcliff groaned a curse, and strained Catherine closer: she never
moved.

Ere long I perceived a group of the servants passing up the road
towards the kitchen wing. Mr. Linton was not far behind; he opened the
gate himself and sauntered slowly up, probably enjoying the lovely
afternoon that breathed as soft as summer.

“Now he is here,” I exclaimed. “For heaven’s sake, hurry down! You’ll
not meet any one on the front stairs. Do be quick; and stay among the
trees till he is fairly in.”

“I must go, Cathy,” said Heathcliff, seeking to extricate himself from
his companion’s arms. “But if I live, I’ll see you again before you are
asleep. I won’t stray five yards from your window.”

“You must not go!” she answered, holding him as firmly as her strength
allowed. “You _shall_ not, I tell you.”

“For one hour,” he pleaded earnestly.

“Not for one minute,” she replied.

“I _must_—Linton will be up immediately,” persisted the alarmed
intruder.

He would have risen, and unfixed her fingers by the act—she clung fast,
gasping: there was mad resolution in her face.

“No!” she shrieked. “Oh, don’t, don’t go. It is the last time! Edgar
will not hurt us. Heathcliff, I shall die! I shall die!”

“Damn the fool! There he is,” cried Heathcliff, sinking back into his
seat. “Hush, my darling! Hush, hush, Catherine! I’ll stay. If he shot
me so, I’d expire with a blessing on my lips.”

And there they were fast again. I heard my master mounting the
stairs—the cold sweat ran from my forehead: I was horrified.

“Are you going to listen to her ravings?” I said, passionately. “She
does not know what she says. Will you ruin her, because she has not wit
to help herself? Get up! You could be free instantly. That is the most
diabolical deed that ever you did. We are all done for—master,
mistress, and servant.”

I wrung my hands, and cried out; and Mr. Linton hastened his step at
the noise. In the midst of my agitation, I was sincerely glad to
observe that Catherine’s arms had fallen relaxed, and her head hung
down.

“She’s fainted, or dead,” I thought: “so much the better. Far better
that she should be dead, than lingering a burden and a misery-maker to
all about her.”

Edgar sprang to his unbidden guest, blanched with astonishment and
rage. What he meant to do I cannot tell; however, the other stopped all
demonstrations, at once, by placing the lifeless-looking form in his
arms.

“Look there!” he said. “Unless you be a fiend, help her first—then you
shall speak to me!”

He walked into the parlour, and sat down. Mr. Linton summoned me, and
with great difficulty, and after resorting to many means, we managed to
restore her to sensation; but she was all bewildered; she sighed, and
moaned, and knew nobody. Edgar, in his anxiety for her, forgot her
hated friend. I did not. I went, at the earliest opportunity, and
besought him to depart; affirming that Catherine was better, and he
should hear from me in the morning how she passed the night.

“I shall not refuse to go out of doors,” he answered; “but I shall stay
in the garden: and, Nelly, mind you keep your word to-morrow. I shall
be under those larch-trees. Mind! or I pay another visit, whether
Linton be in or not.”

He sent a rapid glance through the half-open door of the chamber, and,
ascertaining that what I stated was apparently true, delivered the
house of his luckless presence.



CHAPTER XVI


About twelve o’clock that night was born the Catherine you saw at
Wuthering Heights: a puny, seven-months’ child; and two hours after the
mother died, having never recovered sufficient consciousness to miss
Heathcliff, or know Edgar. The latter’s distraction at his bereavement
is a subject too painful to be dwelt on; its after-effects showed how
deep the sorrow sunk. A great addition, in my eyes, was his being left
without an heir. I bemoaned that, as I gazed on the feeble orphan; and
I mentally abused old Linton for (what was only natural partiality) the
securing his estate to his own daughter, instead of his son’s. An
unwelcomed infant it was, poor thing! It might have wailed out of life,
and nobody cared a morsel, during those first hours of existence. We
redeemed the neglect afterwards; but its beginning was as friendless as
its end is likely to be.

Next morning—bright and cheerful out of doors—stole softened in through
the blinds of the silent room, and suffused the couch and its occupant
with a mellow, tender glow. Edgar Linton had his head laid on the
pillow, and his eyes shut. His young and fair features were almost as
deathlike as those of the form beside him, and almost as fixed: but
_his_ was the hush of exhausted anguish, and _hers_ of perfect peace.
Her brow smooth, her lids closed, her lips wearing the expression of a
smile; no angel in heaven could be more beautiful than she appeared.
And I partook of the infinite calm in which she lay: my mind was never
in a holier frame than while I gazed on that untroubled image of Divine
rest. I instinctively echoed the words she had uttered a few hours
before: “Incomparably beyond and above us all! Whether still on earth
or now in heaven, her spirit is at home with God!”

I don’t know if it be a peculiarity in me, but I am seldom otherwise
than happy while watching in the chamber of death, should no frenzied
or despairing mourner share the duty with me. I see a repose that
neither earth nor hell can break, and I feel an assurance of the
endless and shadowless hereafter—the Eternity they have entered—where
life is boundless in its duration, and love in its sympathy, and joy in
its fulness. I noticed on that occasion how much selfishness there is
even in a love like Mr. Linton’s, when he so regretted Catherine’s
blessed release! To be sure, one might have doubted, after the wayward
and impatient existence she had led, whether she merited a haven of
peace at last. One might doubt in seasons of cold reflection; but not
then, in the presence of her corpse. It asserted its own tranquillity,
which seemed a pledge of equal quiet to its former inhabitant.

Do you believe such people are happy in the other world, sir? I’d give
a great deal to know.

I declined answering Mrs. Dean’s question, which struck me as something
heterodox. She proceeded:

Retracing the course of Catherine Linton, I fear we have no right to
think she is; but we’ll leave her with her Maker.

The master looked asleep, and I ventured soon after sunrise to quit the
room and steal out to the pure refreshing air. The servants thought me
gone to shake off the drowsiness of my protracted watch; in reality, my
chief motive was seeing Mr. Heathcliff. If he had remained among the
larches all night, he would have heard nothing of the stir at the
Grange; unless, perhaps, he might catch the gallop of the messenger
going to Gimmerton. If he had come nearer, he would probably be aware,
from the lights flitting to and fro, and the opening and shutting of
the outer doors, that all was not right within. I wished, yet feared,
to find him. I felt the terrible news must be told, and I longed to get
it over; but how to do it I did not know. He was there—at least, a few
yards further in the park; leant against an old ash-tree, his hat off,
and his hair soaked with the dew that had gathered on the budded
branches, and fell pattering round him. He had been standing a long
time in that position, for I saw a pair of ousels passing and repassing
scarcely three feet from him, busy in building their nest, and
regarding his proximity no more than that of a piece of timber. They
flew off at my approach, and he raised his eyes and spoke:—“She’s
dead!” he said; “I’ve not waited for you to learn that. Put your
handkerchief away—don’t snivel before me. Damn you all! she wants none
of your tears!”

I was weeping as much for him as her: we do sometimes pity creatures
that have none of the feeling either for themselves or others. When I
first looked into his face, I perceived that he had got intelligence of
the catastrophe; and a foolish notion struck me that his heart was
quelled and he prayed, because his lips moved and his gaze was bent on
the ground.

“Yes, she’s dead!” I answered, checking my sobs and drying my cheeks.
“Gone to heaven, I hope; where we may, every one, join her, if we take
due warning and leave our evil ways to follow good!”

“Did _she_ take due warning, then?” asked Heathcliff, attempting a
sneer. “Did she die like a saint? Come, give me a true history of the
event. How did—?”

He endeavoured to pronounce the name, but could not manage it; and
compressing his mouth he held a silent combat with his inward agony,
defying, meanwhile, my sympathy with an unflinching, ferocious stare.
“How did she die?” he resumed, at last—fain, notwithstanding his
hardihood, to have a support behind him; for, after the struggle, he
trembled, in spite of himself, to his very finger-ends.

“Poor wretch!” I thought; “you have a heart and nerves the same as your
brother men! Why should you be anxious to conceal them? Your pride
cannot blind God! You tempt him to wring them, till he forces a cry of
humiliation.”

“Quietly as a lamb!” I answered, aloud. “She drew a sigh, and stretched
herself, like a child reviving, and sinking again to sleep; and five
minutes after I felt one little pulse at her heart, and nothing more!”

“And—did she ever mention me?” he asked, hesitating, as if he dreaded
the answer to his question would introduce details that he could not
bear to hear.

“Her senses never returned: she recognised nobody from the time you
left her,” I said. “She lies with a sweet smile on her face; and her
latest ideas wandered back to pleasant early days. Her life closed in a
gentle dream—may she wake as kindly in the other world!”

“May she wake in torment!” he cried, with frightful vehemence, stamping
his foot, and groaning in a sudden paroxysm of ungovernable passion.
“Why, she’s a liar to the end! Where is she? Not _there_—not in
heaven—not perished—where? Oh! you said you cared nothing for my
sufferings! And I pray one prayer—I repeat it till my tongue
stiffens—Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living;
you said I killed you—haunt me, then! The murdered _do_ haunt their
murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts _have_ wandered on earth. Be
with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only _do_ not leave me in
this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I
_cannot_ live without my life! I _cannot_ live without my soul!”

He dashed his head against the knotted trunk; and, lifting up his eyes,
howled, not like a man, but like a savage beast being goaded to death
with knives and spears. I observed several splashes of blood about the
bark of the tree, and his hand and forehead were both stained; probably
the scene I witnessed was a repetition of others acted during the
night. It hardly moved my compassion—it appalled me: still, I felt
reluctant to quit him so. But the moment he recollected himself enough
to notice me watching, he thundered a command for me to go, and I
obeyed. He was beyond my skill to quiet or console!

Mrs. Linton’s funeral was appointed to take place on the Friday
following her decease; and till then her coffin remained uncovered, and
strewn with flowers and scented leaves, in the great drawing-room.
Linton spent his days and nights there, a sleepless guardian; and—a
circumstance concealed from all but me—Heathcliff spent his nights, at
least, outside, equally a stranger to repose. I held no communication
with him: still, I was conscious of his design to enter, if he could;
and on the Tuesday, a little after dark, when my master, from sheer
fatigue, had been compelled to retire a couple of hours, I went and
opened one of the windows; moved by his perseverance to give him a
chance of bestowing on the faded image of his idol one final adieu. He
did not omit to avail himself of the opportunity, cautiously and
briefly; too cautiously to betray his presence by the slightest noise.
Indeed, I shouldn’t have discovered that he had been there, except for
the disarrangement of the drapery about the corpse’s face, and for
observing on the floor a curl of light hair, fastened with a silver
thread; which, on examination, I ascertained to have been taken from a
locket hung round Catherine’s neck. Heathcliff had opened the trinket
and cast out its contents, replacing them by a black lock of his own. I
twisted the two, and enclosed them together.

Mr. Earnshaw was, of course, invited to attend the remains of his
sister to the grave; he sent no excuse, but he never came; so that,
besides her husband, the mourners were wholly composed of tenants and
servants. Isabella was not asked.

The place of Catherine’s interment, to the surprise of the villagers,
was neither in the chapel under the carved monument of the Lintons, nor
yet by the tombs of her own relations, outside. It was dug on a green
slope in a corner of the kirk-yard, where the wall is so low that heath
and bilberry-plants have climbed over it from the moor; and peat-mould
almost buries it. Her husband lies in the same spot now; and they have
each a simple headstone above, and a plain grey block at their feet, to
mark the graves.



CHAPTER XVII


That Friday made the last of our fine days for a month. In the evening
the weather broke: the wind shifted from south to north-east, and
brought rain first, and then sleet and snow. On the morrow one could
hardly imagine that there had been three weeks of summer: the primroses
and crocuses were hidden under wintry drifts; the larks were silent,
the young leaves of the early trees smitten and blackened. And dreary,
and chill, and dismal, that morrow did creep over! My master kept his
room; I took possession of the lonely parlour, converting it into a
nursery: and there I was, sitting with the moaning doll of a child laid
on my knee; rocking it to and fro, and watching, meanwhile, the still
driving flakes build up the uncurtained window, when the door opened,
and some person entered, out of breath and laughing! My anger was
greater than my astonishment for a minute. I supposed it one of the
maids, and I cried—“Have done! How dare you show your giddiness here;
What would Mr. Linton say if he heard you?”

“Excuse me!” answered a familiar voice; “but I know Edgar is in bed,
and I cannot stop myself.”

With that the speaker came forward to the fire, panting and holding her
hand to her side.

“I have run the whole way from Wuthering Heights!” she continued, after
a pause; “except where I’ve flown. I couldn’t count the number of falls
I’ve had. Oh, I’m aching all over! Don’t be alarmed! There shall be an
explanation as soon as I can give it; only just have the goodness to
step out and order the carriage to take me on to Gimmerton, and tell a
servant to seek up a few clothes in my wardrobe.”

The intruder was Mrs. Heathcliff. She certainly seemed in no laughing
predicament: her hair streamed on her shoulders, dripping with snow and
water; she was dressed in the girlish dress she commonly wore,
befitting her age more than her position: a low frock with short
sleeves, and nothing on either head or neck. The frock was of light
silk, and clung to her with wet, and her feet were protected merely by
thin slippers; add to this a deep cut under one ear, which only the
cold prevented from bleeding profusely, a white face scratched and
bruised, and a frame hardly able to support itself through fatigue; and
you may fancy my first fright was not much allayed when I had had
leisure to examine her.

“My dear young lady,” I exclaimed, “I’ll stir nowhere, and hear
nothing, till you have removed every article of your clothes, and put
on dry things; and certainly you shall not go to Gimmerton to-night, so
it is needless to order the carriage.”

“Certainly I shall,” she said; “walking or riding: yet I’ve no
objection to dress myself decently. And—ah, see how it flows down my
neck now! The fire does make it smart.”

She insisted on my fulfilling her directions, before she would let me
touch her; and not till after the coachman had been instructed to get
ready, and a maid set to pack up some necessary attire, did I obtain
her consent for binding the wound and helping to change her garments.

“Now, Ellen,” she said, when my task was finished and she was seated in
an easy-chair on the hearth, with a cup of tea before her, “you sit
down opposite me, and put poor Catherine’s baby away: I don’t like to
see it! You mustn’t think I care little for Catherine, because I
behaved so foolishly on entering: I’ve cried, too, bitterly—yes, more
than any one else has reason to cry. We parted unreconciled, you
remember, and I sha’n’t forgive myself. But, for all that, I was not
going to sympathise with him—the brute beast! Oh, give me the poker!
This is the last thing of his I have about me:” she slipped the gold
ring from her third finger, and threw it on the floor. “I’ll smash it!”
she continued, striking it with childish spite, “and then I’ll burn
it!” and she took and dropped the misused article among the coals.
“There! he shall buy another, if he gets me back again. He’d be capable
of coming to seek me, to tease Edgar. I dare not stay, lest that notion
should possess his wicked head! And besides, Edgar has not been kind,
has he? And I won’t come suing for his assistance; nor will I bring him
into more trouble. Necessity compelled me to seek shelter here; though,
if I had not learned he was out of the way, I’d have halted at the
kitchen, washed my face, warmed myself, got you to bring what I wanted,
and departed again to anywhere out of the reach of my accursed—of that
incarnate goblin! Ah, he was in such a fury! If he had caught me! It’s
a pity Earnshaw is not his match in strength: I wouldn’t have run till
I’d seen him all but demolished, had Hindley been able to do it!”

“Well, don’t talk so fast, Miss!” I interrupted; “you’ll disorder the
handkerchief I have tied round your face, and make the cut bleed again.
Drink your tea, and take breath, and give over laughing: laughter is
sadly out of place under this roof, and in your condition!”

“An undeniable truth,” she replied. “Listen to that child! It maintains
a constant wail—send it out of my hearing for an hour; I sha’n’t stay
any longer.”

I rang the bell, and committed it to a servant’s care; and then I
inquired what had urged her to escape from Wuthering Heights in such an
unlikely plight, and where she meant to go, as she refused remaining
with us.

“I ought, and I wished to remain,” answered she, “to cheer Edgar and
take care of the baby, for two things, and because the Grange is my
right home. But I tell you he wouldn’t let me! Do you think he could
bear to see me grow fat and merry—could bear to think that we were
tranquil, and not resolve on poisoning our comfort? Now, I have the
satisfaction of being sure that he detests me, to the point of its
annoying him seriously to have me within ear-shot or eyesight: I
notice, when I enter his presence, the muscles of his countenance are
involuntarily distorted into an expression of hatred; partly arising
from his knowledge of the good causes I have to feel that sentiment for
him, and partly from original aversion. It is strong enough to make me
feel pretty certain that he would not chase me over England, supposing
I contrived a clear escape; and therefore I must get quite away. I’ve
recovered from my first desire to be killed by him: I’d rather he’d
kill himself! He has extinguished my love effectually, and so I’m at my
ease. I can recollect yet how I loved him; and can dimly imagine that I
could still be loving him, if—no, no! Even if he had doted on me, the
devilish nature would have revealed its existence somehow. Catherine
had an awfully perverted taste to esteem him so dearly, knowing him so
well. Monster! would that he could be blotted out of creation, and out
of my memory!”

“Hush, hush! He’s a human being,” I said. “Be more charitable: there
are worse men than he is yet!”

“He’s not a human being,” she retorted; “and he has no claim on my
charity. I gave him my heart, and he took and pinched it to death, and
flung it back to me. People feel with their hearts, Ellen: and since he
has destroyed mine, I have not power to feel for him: and I would not,
though he groaned from this to his dying day, and wept tears of blood
for Catherine! No, indeed, indeed, I wouldn’t!” And here Isabella began
to cry; but, immediately dashing the water from her lashes, she
recommenced. “You asked, what has driven me to flight at last? I was
compelled to attempt it, because I had succeeded in rousing his rage a
pitch above his malignity. Pulling out the nerves with red hot pincers
requires more coolness than knocking on the head. He was worked up to
forget the fiendish prudence he boasted of, and proceeded to murderous
violence. I experienced pleasure in being able to exasperate him: the
sense of pleasure woke my instinct of self-preservation, so I fairly
broke free; and if ever I come into his hands again he is welcome to a
signal revenge.

“Yesterday, you know, Mr. Earnshaw should have been at the funeral. He
kept himself sober for the purpose—tolerably sober: not going to bed
mad at six o’clock and getting up drunk at twelve. Consequently, he
rose, in suicidal low spirits, as fit for the church as for a dance;
and instead, he sat down by the fire and swallowed gin or brandy by
tumblerfuls.

“Heathcliff—I shudder to name him! has been a stranger in the house
from last Sunday till to-day. Whether the angels have fed him, or his
kin beneath, I cannot tell; but he has not eaten a meal with us for
nearly a week. He has just come home at dawn, and gone upstairs to his
chamber; locking himself in—as if anybody dreamt of coveting his
company! There he has continued, praying like a Methodist: only the
deity he implored is senseless dust and ashes; and God, when addressed,
was curiously confounded with his own black father! After concluding
these precious orisons—and they lasted generally till he grew hoarse
and his voice was strangled in his throat—he would be off again; always
straight down to the Grange! I wonder Edgar did not send for a
constable, and give him into custody! For me, grieved as I was about
Catherine, it was impossible to avoid regarding this season of
deliverance from degrading oppression as a holiday.

“I recovered spirits sufficient to bear Joseph’s eternal lectures
without weeping, and to move up and down the house less with the foot
of a frightened thief than formerly. You wouldn’t think that I should
cry at anything Joseph could say; but he and Hareton are detestable
companions. I’d rather sit with Hindley, and hear his awful talk, than
with ‘t’ little maister’ and his staunch supporter, that odious old
man! When Heathcliff is in, I’m often obliged to seek the kitchen and
their society, or starve among the damp uninhabited chambers; when he
is not, as was the case this week, I establish a table and chair at one
corner of the house fire, and never mind how Mr. Earnshaw may occupy
himself; and he does not interfere with my arrangements. He is quieter
now than he used to be, if no one provokes him: more sullen and
depressed, and less furious. Joseph affirms he’s sure he’s an altered
man: that the Lord has touched his heart, and he is saved ‘so as by
fire.’ I’m puzzled to detect signs of the favourable change: but it is
not my business.

“Yester-evening I sat in my nook reading some old books till late on
towards twelve. It seemed so dismal to go upstairs, with the wild snow
blowing outside, and my thoughts continually reverting to the kirk-yard
and the new-made grave! I dared hardly lift my eyes from the page
before me, that melancholy scene so instantly usurped its place.
Hindley sat opposite, his head leant on his hand; perhaps meditating on
the same subject. He had ceased drinking at a point below
irrationality, and had neither stirred nor spoken during two or three
hours. There was no sound through the house but the moaning wind, which
shook the windows every now and then, the faint crackling of the coals,
and the click of my snuffers as I removed at intervals the long wick of
the candle. Hareton and Joseph were probably fast asleep in bed. It was
very, very sad: and while I read I sighed, for it seemed as if all joy
had vanished from the world, never to be restored.

“The doleful silence was broken at length by the sound of the kitchen
latch: Heathcliff had returned from his watch earlier than usual;
owing, I suppose, to the sudden storm. That entrance was fastened, and
we heard him coming round to get in by the other. I rose with an
irrepressible expression of what I felt on my lips, which induced my
companion, who had been staring towards the door, to turn and look at
me.

“‘I’ll keep him out five minutes,’ he exclaimed. ‘You won’t object?’

“‘No, you may keep him out the whole night for me,’ I answered. ‘Do!
put the key in the lock, and draw the bolts.’

“Earnshaw accomplished this ere his guest reached the front; he then
came and brought his chair to the other side of my table, leaning over
it, and searching in my eyes for a sympathy with the burning hate that
gleamed from his: as he both looked and felt like an assassin, he
couldn’t exactly find that; but he discovered enough to encourage him
to speak.

“‘You, and I,’ he said, ‘have each a great debt to settle with the man
out yonder! If we were neither of us cowards, we might combine to
discharge it. Are you as soft as your brother? Are you willing to
endure to the last, and not once attempt a repayment?’

“‘I’m weary of enduring now,’ I replied; ‘and I’d be glad of a
retaliation that wouldn’t recoil on myself; but treachery and violence
are spears pointed at both ends; they wound those who resort to them
worse than their enemies.’

“‘Treachery and violence are a just return for treachery and violence!’
cried Hindley. ‘Mrs. Heathcliff, I’ll ask you to do nothing; but sit
still and be dumb. Tell me now, can you? I’m sure you would have as
much pleasure as I in witnessing the conclusion of the fiend’s
existence; he’ll be _your_ death unless you overreach him; and he’ll be
_my_ ruin. Damn the hellish villain! He knocks at the door as if he
were master here already! Promise to hold your tongue, and before that
clock strikes—it wants three minutes of one—you’re a free woman!’

“He took the implements which I described to you in my letter from his
breast, and would have turned down the candle. I snatched it away,
however, and seized his arm.

“‘I’ll not hold my tongue!’ I said; ‘you mustn’t touch him. Let the
door remain shut, and be quiet!’

“‘No! I’ve formed my resolution, and by God I’ll execute it!’ cried the
desperate being. ‘I’ll do you a kindness in spite of yourself, and
Hareton justice! And you needn’t trouble your head to screen me;
Catherine is gone. Nobody alive would regret me, or be ashamed, though
I cut my throat this minute—and it’s time to make an end!’

“I might as well have struggled with a bear, or reasoned with a
lunatic. The only resource left me was to run to a lattice and warn his
intended victim of the fate which awaited him.

“‘You’d better seek shelter somewhere else to-night!’ I exclaimed, in
rather a triumphant tone. ‘Mr. Earnshaw has a mind to shoot you, if you
persist in endeavouring to enter.’

“‘You’d better open the door, you—’ he answered, addressing me by some
elegant term that I don’t care to repeat.

“‘I shall not meddle in the matter,’ I retorted again. ‘Come in and get
shot, if you please. I’ve done my duty.’

“With that I shut the window and returned to my place by the fire;
having too small a stock of hypocrisy at my command to pretend any
anxiety for the danger that menaced him. Earnshaw swore passionately at
me: affirming that I loved the villain yet; and calling me all sorts of
names for the base spirit I evinced. And I, in my secret heart (and
conscience never reproached me), thought what a blessing it would be
for _him_ should Heathcliff put him out of misery; and what a blessing
for _me_ should he send Heathcliff to his right abode! As I sat nursing
these reflections, the casement behind me was banged on to the floor by
a blow from the latter individual, and his black countenance looked
blightingly through. The stanchions stood too close to suffer his
shoulders to follow, and I smiled, exulting in my fancied security. His
hair and clothes were whitened with snow, and his sharp cannibal teeth,
revealed by cold and wrath, gleamed through the dark.

“‘Isabella, let me in, or I’ll make you repent!’ he ‘girned,’ as Joseph
calls it.

“‘I cannot commit murder,’ I replied. ‘Mr. Hindley stands sentinel with
a knife and loaded pistol.’

“‘Let me in by the kitchen door,’ he said.

“‘Hindley will be there before me,’ I answered: ‘and that’s a poor love
of yours that cannot bear a shower of snow! We were left at peace in
our beds as long as the summer moon shone, but the moment a blast of
winter returns, you must run for shelter! Heathcliff, if I were you,
I’d go stretch myself over her grave and die like a faithful dog. The
world is surely not worth living in now, is it? You had distinctly
impressed on me the idea that Catherine was the whole joy of your life:
I can’t imagine how you think of surviving her loss.’

“‘He’s there, is he?’ exclaimed my companion, rushing to the gap. ‘If I
can get my arm out I can hit him!’

“I’m afraid, Ellen, you’ll set me down as really wicked; but you don’t
know all, so don’t judge. I wouldn’t have aided or abetted an attempt
on even _his_ life for anything. Wish that he were dead, I must; and
therefore I was fearfully disappointed, and unnerved by terror for the
consequences of my taunting speech, when he flung himself on Earnshaw’s
weapon and wrenched it from his grasp.

“The charge exploded, and the knife, in springing back, closed into its
owner’s wrist. Heathcliff pulled it away by main force, slitting up the
flesh as it passed on, and thrust it dripping into his pocket. He then
took a stone, struck down the division between two windows, and sprang
in. His adversary had fallen senseless with excessive pain and the flow
of blood, that gushed from an artery or a large vein. The ruffian
kicked and trampled on him, and dashed his head repeatedly against the
flags, holding me with one hand, meantime, to prevent me summoning
Joseph. He exerted preterhuman self-denial in abstaining from finishing
him completely; but getting out of breath, he finally desisted, and
dragged the apparently inanimate body on to the settle. There he tore
off the sleeve of Earnshaw’s coat, and bound up the wound with brutal
roughness; spitting and cursing during the operation as energetically
as he had kicked before. Being at liberty, I lost no time in seeking
the old servant; who, having gathered by degrees the purport of my
hasty tale, hurried below, gasping, as he descended the steps two at
once.

“‘What is ther to do, now? what is ther to do, now?’

“‘There’s this to do,’ thundered Heathcliff, ‘that your master’s mad;
and should he last another month, I’ll have him to an asylum. And how
the devil did you come to fasten me out, you toothless hound? Don’t
stand muttering and mumbling there. Come, I’m not going to nurse him.
Wash that stuff away; and mind the sparks of your candle—it is more
than half brandy!’

“‘And so ye’ve been murthering on him?’ exclaimed Joseph, lifting his
hands and eyes in horror. ‘If iver I seed a seeght loike this! May the
Lord—’

“Heathcliff gave him a push on to his knees in the middle of the blood,
and flung a towel to him; but instead of proceeding to dry it up, he
joined his hands and began a prayer, which excited my laughter from its
odd phraseology. I was in the condition of mind to be shocked at
nothing: in fact, I was as reckless as some malefactors show themselves
at the foot of the gallows.

“‘Oh, I forgot you,’ said the tyrant. ‘You shall do that. Down with
you. And you conspire with him against me, do you, viper? There, that
is work fit for you!’

“He shook me till my teeth rattled, and pitched me beside Joseph, who
steadily concluded his supplications, and then rose, vowing he would
set off for the Grange directly. Mr. Linton was a magistrate, and
though he had fifty wives dead, he should inquire into this. He was so
obstinate in his resolution, that Heathcliff deemed it expedient to
compel from my lips a recapitulation of what had taken place; standing
over me, heaving with malevolence, as I reluctantly delivered the
account in answer to his questions. It required a great deal of labour
to satisfy the old man that Heathcliff was not the aggressor;
especially with my hardly-wrung replies. However, Mr. Earnshaw soon
convinced him that he was alive still; Joseph hastened to administer a
dose of spirits, and by their succour his master presently regained
motion and consciousness. Heathcliff, aware that his opponent was
ignorant of the treatment received while insensible, called him
deliriously intoxicated; and said he should not notice his atrocious
conduct further, but advised him to get to bed. To my joy, he left us,
after giving this judicious counsel, and Hindley stretched himself on
the hearthstone. I departed to my own room, marvelling that I had
escaped so easily.

“This morning, when I came down, about half an hour before noon, Mr.
Earnshaw was sitting by the fire, deadly sick; his evil genius, almost
as gaunt and ghastly, leant against the chimney. Neither appeared
inclined to dine, and, having waited till all was cold on the table, I
commenced alone. Nothing hindered me from eating heartily, and I
experienced a certain sense of satisfaction and superiority, as, at
intervals, I cast a look towards my silent companions, and felt the
comfort of a quiet conscience within me. After I had done, I ventured
on the unusual liberty of drawing near the fire, going round Earnshaw’s
seat, and kneeling in the corner beside him.

“Heathcliff did not glance my way, and I gazed up, and contemplated his
features almost as confidently as if they had been turned to stone. His
forehead, that I once thought so manly, and that I now think so
diabolical, was shaded with a heavy cloud; his basilisk eyes were
nearly quenched by sleeplessness, and weeping, perhaps, for the lashes
were wet then: his lips devoid of their ferocious sneer, and sealed in
an expression of unspeakable sadness. Had it been another, I would have
covered my face in the presence of such grief. In _his_ case, I was
gratified; and, ignoble as it seems to insult a fallen enemy, I
couldn’t miss this chance of sticking in a dart: his weakness was the
only time when I could taste the delight of paying wrong for wrong.”

“Fie, fie, Miss!” I interrupted. “One might suppose you had never
opened a Bible in your life. If God afflict your enemies, surely that
ought to suffice you. It is both mean and presumptuous to add your
torture to his!”

“In general I’ll allow that it would be, Ellen,” she continued; “but
what misery laid on Heathcliff could content me, unless I have a hand
in it? I’d rather he suffered less, if I might cause his sufferings and
he might _know_ that I was the cause. Oh, I owe him so much. On only
one condition can I hope to forgive him. It is, if I may take an eye
for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; for every wrench of agony return a
wrench: reduce him to my level. As he was the first to injure, make him
the first to implore pardon; and then—why then, Ellen, I might show you
some generosity. But it is utterly impossible I can ever be revenged,
and therefore I cannot forgive him. Hindley wanted some water, and I
handed him a glass, and asked him how he was.

“‘Not as ill as I wish,’ he replied. ‘But leaving out my arm, every
inch of me is as sore as if I had been fighting with a legion of imps!’

“‘Yes, no wonder,’ was my next remark. ‘Catherine used to boast that
she stood between you and bodily harm: she meant that certain persons
would not hurt you for fear of offending her. It’s well people don’t
_really_ rise from their grave, or, last night, she might have
witnessed a repulsive scene! Are not you bruised, and cut over your
chest and shoulders?’

“‘I can’t say,’ he answered, ‘but what do you mean? Did he dare to
strike me when I was down?’

“‘He trampled on and kicked you, and dashed you on the ground,’ I
whispered. ‘And his mouth watered to tear you with his teeth; because
he’s only half man: not so much, and the rest fiend.’

“Mr. Earnshaw looked up, like me, to the countenance of our mutual foe;
who, absorbed in his anguish, seemed insensible to anything around him:
the longer he stood, the plainer his reflections revealed their
blackness through his features.

“‘Oh, if God would but give me strength to strangle him in my last
agony, I’d go to hell with joy,’ groaned the impatient man, writhing to
rise, and sinking back in despair, convinced of his inadequacy for the
struggle.

“‘Nay, it’s enough that he has murdered one of you,’ I observed aloud.
‘At the Grange, every one knows your sister would have been living now
had it not been for Mr. Heathcliff. After all, it is preferable to be
hated than loved by him. When I recollect how happy we were—how happy
Catherine was before he came—I’m fit to curse the day.’

“Most likely, Heathcliff noticed more the truth of what was said, than
the spirit of the person who said it. His attention was roused, I saw,
for his eyes rained down tears among the ashes, and he drew his breath
in suffocating sighs. I stared full at him, and laughed scornfully. The
clouded windows of hell flashed a moment towards me; the fiend which
usually looked out, however, was so dimmed and drowned that I did not
fear to hazard another sound of derision.

“‘Get up, and begone out of my sight,’ said the mourner.

“I guessed he uttered those words, at least, though his voice was
hardly intelligible.

“‘I beg your pardon,’ I replied. ‘But I loved Catherine too; and her
brother requires attendance, which, for her sake, I shall supply. Now,
that she’s dead, I see her in Hindley: Hindley has exactly her eyes, if
you had not tried to gouge them out, and made them black and red; and
her—’

“‘Get up, wretched idiot, before I stamp you to death!’ he cried,
making a movement that caused me to make one also.

“‘But then,’ I continued, holding myself ready to flee, ‘if poor
Catherine had trusted you, and assumed the ridiculous, contemptible,
degrading title of Mrs. Heathcliff, she would soon have presented a
similar picture! _She_ wouldn’t have borne your abominable behaviour
quietly: her detestation and disgust must have found voice.’

“The back of the settle and Earnshaw’s person interposed between me and
him; so instead of endeavouring to reach me, he snatched a dinner-knife
from the table and flung it at my head. It struck beneath my ear, and
stopped the sentence I was uttering; but, pulling it out, I sprang to
the door and delivered another; which I hope went a little deeper than
his missile. The last glimpse I caught of him was a furious rush on his
part, checked by the embrace of his host; and both fell locked together
on the hearth. In my flight through the kitchen I bid Joseph speed to
his master; I knocked over Hareton, who was hanging a litter of puppies
from a chair-back in the doorway; and, blessed as a soul escaped from
purgatory, I bounded, leaped, and flew down the steep road; then,
quitting its windings, shot direct across the moor, rolling over banks,
and wading through marshes: precipitating myself, in fact, towards the
beacon-light of the Grange. And far rather would I be condemned to a
perpetual dwelling in the infernal regions than, even for one night,
abide beneath the roof of Wuthering Heights again.”

Isabella ceased speaking, and took a drink of tea; then she rose, and
bidding me put on her bonnet, and a great shawl I had brought, and
turning a deaf ear to my entreaties for her to remain another hour, she
stepped on to a chair, kissed Edgar’s and Catherine’s portraits,
bestowed a similar salute on me, and descended to the carriage,
accompanied by Fanny, who yelped wild with joy at recovering her
mistress. She was driven away, never to revisit this neighbourhood: but
a regular correspondence was established between her and my master when
things were more settled. I believe her new abode was in the south,
near London; there she had a son born a few months subsequent to her
escape. He was christened Linton, and, from the first, she reported him
to be an ailing, peevish creature.

Mr. Heathcliff, meeting me one day in the village, inquired where she
lived. I refused to tell. He remarked that it was not of any moment,
only she must beware of coming to her brother: she should not be with
him, if he had to keep her himself. Though I would give no information,
he discovered, through some of the other servants, both her place of
residence and the existence of the child. Still, he didn’t molest her:
for which forbearance she might thank his aversion, I suppose. He often
asked about the infant, when he saw me; and on hearing its name, smiled
grimly, and observed: “They wish me to hate it too, do they?”

“I don’t think they wish you to know anything about it,” I answered.

“But I’ll have it,” he said, “when I want it. They may reckon on that!”

Fortunately its mother died before the time arrived; some thirteen
years after the decease of Catherine, when Linton was twelve, or a
little more.

On the day succeeding Isabella’s unexpected visit I had no opportunity
of speaking to my master: he shunned conversation, and was fit for
discussing nothing. When I could get him to listen, I saw it pleased
him that his sister had left her husband; whom he abhorred with an
intensity which the mildness of his nature would scarcely seem to
allow. So deep and sensitive was his aversion, that he refrained from
going anywhere where he was likely to see or hear of Heathcliff. Grief,
and that together, transformed him into a complete hermit: he threw up
his office of magistrate, ceased even to attend church, avoided the
village on all occasions, and spent a life of entire seclusion within
the limits of his park and grounds; only varied by solitary rambles on
the moors, and visits to the grave of his wife, mostly at evening, or
early morning before other wanderers were abroad. But he was too good
to be thoroughly unhappy long. _He_ didn’t pray for Catherine’s soul to
haunt him. Time brought resignation, and a melancholy sweeter than
common joy. He recalled her memory with ardent, tender love, and
hopeful aspiring to the better world; where he doubted not she was
gone.

And he had earthly consolation and affections also. For a few days, I
said, he seemed regardless of the puny successor to the departed: that
coldness melted as fast as snow in April, and ere the tiny thing could
stammer a word or totter a step it wielded a despot’s sceptre in his
heart. It was named Catherine; but he never called it the name in full,
as he had never called the first Catherine short: probably because
Heathcliff had a habit of doing so. The little one was always Cathy: it
formed to him a distinction from the mother, and yet a connection with
her; and his attachment sprang from its relation to her, far more than
from its being his own.

I used to draw a comparison between him and Hindley Earnshaw, and
perplex myself to explain satisfactorily why their conduct was so
opposite in similar circumstances. They had both been fond husbands,
and were both attached to their children; and I could not see how they
shouldn’t both have taken the same road, for good or evil. But, I
thought in my mind, Hindley, with apparently the stronger head, has
shown himself sadly the worse and the weaker man. When his ship struck,
the captain abandoned his post; and the crew, instead of trying to save
her, rushed into riot and confusion, leaving no hope for their luckless
vessel. Linton, on the contrary, displayed the true courage of a loyal
and faithful soul: he trusted God; and God comforted him. One hoped,
and the other despaired: they chose their own lots, and were
righteously doomed to endure them. But you’ll not want to hear my
moralising, Mr. Lockwood; you’ll judge, as well as I can, all these
things: at least, you’ll think you will, and that’s the same. The end
of Earnshaw was what might have been expected; it followed fast on his
sister’s: there were scarcely six months between them. We, at the
Grange, never got a very succinct account of his state preceding it;
all that I did learn was on occasion of going to aid in the
preparations for the funeral. Mr. Kenneth came to announce the event to
my master.

“Well, Nelly,” said he, riding into the yard one morning, too early not
to alarm me with an instant presentiment of bad news, “it’s yours and
my turn to go into mourning at present. Who’s given us the slip now, do
you think?”

“Who?” I asked in a flurry.

“Why, guess!” he returned, dismounting, and slinging his bridle on a
hook by the door. “And nip up the corner of your apron: I’m certain
you’ll need it.”

“Not Mr. Heathcliff, surely?” I exclaimed.

“What! would you have tears for him?” said the doctor. “No,
Heathcliff’s a tough young fellow: he looks blooming to-day. I’ve just
seen him. He’s rapidly regaining flesh since he lost his better half.”

“Who is it, then, Mr. Kenneth?” I repeated impatiently.

“Hindley Earnshaw! Your old friend Hindley,” he replied, “and my wicked
gossip: though he’s been too wild for me this long while. There! I said
we should draw water. But cheer up! He died true to his character:
drunk as a lord. Poor lad! I’m sorry, too. One can’t help missing an
old companion: though he had the worst tricks with him that ever man
imagined, and has done me many a rascally turn. He’s barely
twenty-seven, it seems; that’s your own age: who would have thought you
were born in one year?”

I confess this blow was greater to me than the shock of Mrs. Linton’s
death: ancient associations lingered round my heart; I sat down in the
porch and wept as for a blood relation, desiring Mr. Kenneth to get
another servant to introduce him to the master. I could not hinder
myself from pondering on the question—“Had he had fair play?” Whatever
I did, that idea would bother me: it was so tiresomely pertinacious
that I resolved on requesting leave to go to Wuthering Heights, and
assist in the last duties to the dead. Mr. Linton was extremely
reluctant to consent, but I pleaded eloquently for the friendless
condition in which he lay; and I said my old master and foster-brother
had a claim on my services as strong as his own. Besides, I reminded
him that the child Hareton was his wife’s nephew, and, in the absence
of nearer kin, he ought to act as its guardian; and he ought to and
must inquire how the property was left, and look over the concerns of
his brother-in-law. He was unfit for attending to such matters then,
but he bid me speak to his lawyer; and at length permitted me to go.
His lawyer had been Earnshaw’s also: I called at the village, and asked
him to accompany me. He shook his head, and advised that Heathcliff
should be let alone; affirming, if the truth were known, Hareton would
be found little else than a beggar.

“His father died in debt,” he said; “the whole property is mortgaged,
and the sole chance for the natural heir is to allow him an opportunity
of creating some interest in the creditor’s heart, that he may be
inclined to deal leniently towards him.”

When I reached the Heights, I explained that I had come to see
everything carried on decently; and Joseph, who appeared in sufficient
distress, expressed satisfaction at my presence. Mr. Heathcliff said he
did not perceive that I was wanted; but I might stay and order the
arrangements for the funeral, if I chose.

“Correctly,” he remarked, “that fool’s body should be buried at the
cross-roads, without ceremony of any kind. I happened to leave him ten
minutes yesterday afternoon, and in that interval he fastened the two
doors of the house against me, and he has spent the night in drinking
himself to death deliberately! We broke in this morning, for we heard
him sporting like a horse; and there he was, laid over the settle:
flaying and scalping would not have wakened him. I sent for Kenneth,
and he came; but not till the beast had changed into carrion: he was
both dead and cold, and stark; and so you’ll allow it was useless
making more stir about him!”

The old servant confirmed this statement, but muttered:

“I’d rayther he’d goan hisseln for t’ doctor! I sud ha’ taen tent o’ t’
maister better nor him—and he warn’t deead when I left, naught o’ t’
soart!”

I insisted on the funeral being respectable. Mr. Heathcliff said I
might have my own way there too: only, he desired me to remember that
the money for the whole affair came out of his pocket. He maintained a
hard, careless deportment, indicative of neither joy nor sorrow: if
anything, it expressed a flinty gratification at a piece of difficult
work successfully executed. I observed once, indeed, something like
exultation in his aspect: it was just when the people were bearing the
coffin from the house. He had the hypocrisy to represent a mourner: and
previous to following with Hareton, he lifted the unfortunate child on
to the table and muttered, with peculiar gusto, “Now, my bonny lad, you
are _mine_! And we’ll see if one tree won’t grow as crooked as another,
with the same wind to twist it!” The unsuspecting thing was pleased at
this speech: he played with Heathcliff’s whiskers, and stroked his
cheek; but I divined its meaning, and observed tartly, “That boy must
go back with me to Thrushcross Grange, sir. There is nothing in the
world less yours than he is!”

“Does Linton say so?” he demanded.

“Of course—he has ordered me to take him,” I replied.

“Well,” said the scoundrel, “we’ll not argue the subject now: but I
have a fancy to try my hand at rearing a young one; so intimate to your
master that I must supply the place of this with my own, if he attempt
to remove it. I don’t engage to let Hareton go undisputed; but I’ll be
pretty sure to make the other come! Remember to tell him.”

This hint was enough to bind our hands. I repeated its substance on my
return; and Edgar Linton, little interested at the commencement, spoke
no more of interfering. I’m not aware that he could have done it to any
purpose, had he been ever so willing.

The guest was now the master of Wuthering Heights: he held firm
possession, and proved to the attorney—who, in his turn, proved it to
Mr. Linton—that Earnshaw had mortgaged every yard of land he owned for
cash to supply his mania for gaming; and he, Heathcliff, was the
mortgagee. In that manner Hareton, who should now be the first
gentleman in the neighbourhood, was reduced to a state of complete
dependence on his father’s inveterate enemy; and lives in his own house
as a servant, deprived of the advantage of wages: quite unable to right
himself, because of his friendlessness, and his ignorance that he has
been wronged.



CHAPTER XVIII


The twelve years, continued Mrs. Dean, following that dismal period
were the happiest of my life: my greatest troubles in their passage
rose from our little lady’s trifling illnesses, which she had to
experience in common with all children, rich and poor. For the rest,
after the first six months, she grew like a larch, and could walk and
talk too, in her own way, before the heath blossomed a second time over
Mrs. Linton’s dust. She was the most winning thing that ever brought
sunshine into a desolate house: a real beauty in face, with the
Earnshaws’ handsome dark eyes, but the Lintons’ fair skin and small
features, and yellow curling hair. Her spirit was high, though not
rough, and qualified by a heart sensitive and lively to excess in its
affections. That capacity for intense attachments reminded me of her
mother: still she did not resemble her: for she could be soft and mild
as a dove, and she had a gentle voice and pensive expression: her anger
was never furious; her love never fierce: it was deep and tender.
However, it must be acknowledged, she had faults to foil her gifts. A
propensity to be saucy was one; and a perverse will, that indulged
children invariably acquire, whether they be good tempered or cross. If
a servant chanced to vex her, it was always—“I shall tell papa!” And if
he reproved her, even by a look, you would have thought it a
heart-breaking business: I don’t believe he ever did speak a harsh word
to her. He took her education entirely on himself, and made it an
amusement. Fortunately, curiosity and a quick intellect made her an apt
scholar: she learned rapidly and eagerly, and did honour to his
teaching.

Till she reached the age of thirteen she had not once been beyond the
range of the park by herself. Mr. Linton would take her with him a mile
or so outside, on rare occasions; but he trusted her to no one else.
Gimmerton was an unsubstantial name in her ears; the chapel, the only
building she had approached or entered, except her own home. Wuthering
Heights and Mr. Heathcliff did not exist for her: she was a perfect
recluse; and, apparently, perfectly contented. Sometimes, indeed, while
surveying the country from her nursery window, she would observe—

“Ellen, how long will it be before I can walk to the top of those
hills? I wonder what lies on the other side—is it the sea?”

“No, Miss Cathy,” I would answer; “it is hills again, just like these.”

“And what are those golden rocks like when you stand under them?” she
once asked.

The abrupt descent of Penistone Crags particularly attracted her
notice; especially when the setting sun shone on it and the topmost
heights, and the whole extent of landscape besides lay in shadow. I
explained that they were bare masses of stone, with hardly enough earth
in their clefts to nourish a stunted tree.

“And why are they bright so long after it is evening here?” she
pursued.

“Because they are a great deal higher up than we are,” replied I; “you
could not climb them, they are too high and steep. In winter the frost
is always there before it comes to us; and deep into summer I have
found snow under that black hollow on the north-east side!”

“Oh, you have been on them!” she cried gleefully. “Then I can go, too,
when I am a woman. Has papa been, Ellen?”

“Papa would tell you, Miss,” I answered, hastily, “that they are not
worth the trouble of visiting. The moors, where you ramble with him,
are much nicer; and Thrushcross Park is the finest place in the world.”

“But I know the park, and I don’t know those,” she murmured to herself.
“And I should delight to look round me from the brow of that tallest
point: my little pony Minny shall take me some time.”

One of the maids mentioning the Fairy Cave, quite turned her head with
a desire to fulfil this project: she teased Mr. Linton about it; and he
promised she should have the journey when she got older. But Miss
Catherine measured her age by months, and, “Now, am I old enough to go
to Penistone Crags?” was the constant question in her mouth. The road
thither wound close by Wuthering Heights. Edgar had not the heart to
pass it; so she received as constantly the answer, “Not yet, love: not
yet.”

I said Mrs. Heathcliff lived above a dozen years after quitting her
husband. Her family were of a delicate constitution: she and Edgar both
lacked the ruddy health that you will generally meet in these parts.
What her last illness was, I am not certain: I conjecture, they died of
the same thing, a kind of fever, slow at its commencement, but
incurable, and rapidly consuming life towards the close. She wrote to
inform her brother of the probable conclusion of a four-months’
indisposition under which she had suffered, and entreated him to come
to her, if possible; for she had much to settle, and she wished to bid
him adieu, and deliver Linton safely into his hands. Her hope was that
Linton might be left with him, as he had been with her: his father, she
would fain convince herself, had no desire to assume the burden of his
maintenance or education. My master hesitated not a moment in complying
with her request: reluctant as he was to leave home at ordinary calls,
he flew to answer this; commanding Catherine to my peculiar vigilance,
in his absence, with reiterated orders that she must not wander out of
the park, even under my escort he did not calculate on her going
unaccompanied.

He was away three weeks. The first day or two my charge sat in a corner
of the library, too sad for either reading or playing: in that quiet
state she caused me little trouble; but it was succeeded by an interval
of impatient, fretful weariness; and being too busy, and too old then,
to run up and down amusing her, I hit on a method by which she might
entertain herself. I used to send her on her travels round the
grounds—now on foot, and now on a pony; indulging her with a patient
audience of all her real and imaginary adventures when she returned.

The summer shone in full prime; and she took such a taste for this
solitary rambling that she often contrived to remain out from breakfast
till tea; and then the evenings were spent in recounting her fanciful
tales. I did not fear her breaking bounds; because the gates were
generally locked, and I thought she would scarcely venture forth alone,
if they had stood wide open. Unluckily, my confidence proved misplaced.
Catherine came to me, one morning, at eight o’clock, and said she was
that day an Arabian merchant, going to cross the Desert with his
caravan; and I must give her plenty of provision for herself and
beasts: a horse, and three camels, personated by a large hound and a
couple of pointers. I got together good store of dainties, and slung
them in a basket on one side of the saddle; and she sprang up as gay as
a fairy, sheltered by her wide-brimmed hat and gauze veil from the July
sun, and trotted off with a merry laugh, mocking my cautious counsel to
avoid galloping, and come back early. The naughty thing never made her
appearance at tea. One traveller, the hound, being an old dog and fond
of its ease, returned; but neither Cathy, nor the pony, nor the two
pointers were visible in any direction: I despatched emissaries down
this path, and that path, and at last went wandering in search of her
myself. There was a labourer working at a fence round a plantation, on
the borders of the grounds. I inquired of him if he had seen our young
lady.

“I saw her at morn,” he replied: “she would have me to cut her a hazel
switch, and then she leapt her Galloway over the hedge yonder, where it
is lowest, and galloped out of sight.”

You may guess how I felt at hearing this news. It struck me directly
she must have started for Penistone Crags. “What will become of her?” I
ejaculated, pushing through a gap which the man was repairing, and
making straight to the high-road. I walked as if for a wager, mile
after mile, till a turn brought me in view of the Heights; but no
Catherine could I detect, far or near. The Crags lie about a mile and a
half beyond Mr. Heathcliff’s place, and that is four from the Grange,
so I began to fear night would fall ere I could reach them. “And what
if she should have slipped in clambering among them,” I reflected, “and
been killed, or broken some of her bones?” My suspense was truly
painful; and, at first, it gave me delightful relief to observe, in
hurrying by the farmhouse, Charlie, the fiercest of the pointers, lying
under a window, with swelled head and bleeding ear. I opened the wicket
and ran to the door, knocking vehemently for admittance. A woman whom I
knew, and who formerly lived at Gimmerton, answered: she had been
servant there since the death of Mr. Earnshaw.

“Ah,” said she, “you are come a-seeking your little mistress! Don’t be
frightened. She’s here safe: but I’m glad it isn’t the master.”

“He is not at home then, is he?” I panted, quite breathless with quick
walking and alarm.

“No, no,” she replied: “both he and Joseph are off, and I think they
won’t return this hour or more. Step in and rest you a bit.”

I entered, and beheld my stray lamb seated on the hearth, rocking
herself in a little chair that had been her mother’s when a child. Her
hat was hung against the wall, and she seemed perfectly at home,
laughing and chattering, in the best spirits imaginable, to Hareton—now
a great, strong lad of eighteen—who stared at her with considerable
curiosity and astonishment: comprehending precious little of the fluent
succession of remarks and questions which her tongue never ceased
pouring forth.

“Very well, Miss!” I exclaimed, concealing my joy under an angry
countenance. “This is your last ride, till papa comes back. I’ll not
trust you over the threshold again, you naughty, naughty girl!”

“Aha, Ellen!” she cried, gaily, jumping up and running to my side. “I
shall have a pretty story to tell to-night; and so you’ve found me out.
Have you ever been here in your life before?”

“Put that hat on, and home at once,” said I. “I’m dreadfully grieved at
you, Miss Cathy: you’ve done extremely wrong! It’s no use pouting and
crying: that won’t repay the trouble I’ve had, scouring the country
after you. To think how Mr. Linton charged me to keep you in; and you
stealing off so! It shows you are a cunning little fox, and nobody will
put faith in you any more.”

“What have I done?” sobbed she, instantly checked. “Papa charged me
nothing: he’ll not scold me, Ellen—he’s never cross, like you!”

“Come, come!” I repeated. “I’ll tie the riband. Now, let us have no
petulance. Oh, for shame! You thirteen years old, and such a baby!”

This exclamation was caused by her pushing the hat from her head, and
retreating to the chimney out of my reach.

“Nay,” said the servant, “don’t be hard on the bonny lass, Mrs. Dean.
We made her stop: she’d fain have ridden forwards, afeard you should be
uneasy. Hareton offered to go with her, and I thought he should: it’s a
wild road over the hills.”

Hareton, during the discussion, stood with his hands in his pockets,
too awkward to speak; though he looked as if he did not relish my
intrusion.

“How long am I to wait?” I continued, disregarding the woman’s
interference. “It will be dark in ten minutes. Where is the pony, Miss
Cathy? And where is Phoenix? I shall leave you, unless you be quick; so
please yourself.”

“The pony is in the yard,” she replied, “and Phoenix is shut in there.
He’s bitten—and so is Charlie. I was going to tell you all about it;
but you are in a bad temper, and don’t deserve to hear.”

I picked up her hat, and approached to reinstate it; but perceiving
that the people of the house took her part, she commenced capering
round the room; and on my giving chase, ran like a mouse over and under
and behind the furniture, rendering it ridiculous for me to pursue.
Hareton and the woman laughed, and she joined them, and waxed more
impertinent still; till I cried, in great irritation,—“Well, Miss
Cathy, if you were aware whose house this is you’d be glad enough to
get out.”

“It’s _your_ father’s, isn’t it?” said she, turning to Hareton.

“Nay,” he replied, looking down, and blushing bashfully.

He could not stand a steady gaze from her eyes, though they were just
his own.

“Whose then—your master’s?” she asked.

He coloured deeper, with a different feeling, muttered an oath, and
turned away.

“Who is his master?” continued the tiresome girl, appealing to me. “He
talked about ‘our house,’ and ‘our folk.’ I thought he had been the
owner’s son. And he never said Miss: he should have done, shouldn’t he,
if he’s a servant?”

Hareton grew black as a thunder-cloud at this childish speech. I
silently shook my questioner, and at last succeeded in equipping her
for departure.

“Now, get my horse,” she said, addressing her unknown kinsman as she
would one of the stable-boys at the Grange. “And you may come with me.
I want to see where the goblin-hunter rises in the marsh, and to hear
about the _fairishes_, as you call them: but make haste! What’s the
matter? Get my horse, I say.”

“I’ll see thee damned before I be _thy_ servant!” growled the lad.

“You’ll see me _what_!” asked Catherine in surprise.

“Damned—thou saucy witch!” he replied.

“There, Miss Cathy! you see you have got into pretty company,” I
interposed. “Nice words to be used to a young lady! Pray don’t begin to
dispute with him. Come, let us seek for Minny ourselves, and begone.”

“But, Ellen,” cried she, staring fixed in astonishment, “how dare he
speak so to me? Mustn’t he be made to do as I ask him? You wicked
creature, I shall tell papa what you said.—Now, then!”

Hareton did not appear to feel this threat; so the tears sprang into
her eyes with indignation. “You bring the pony,” she exclaimed, turning
to the woman, “and let my dog free this moment!”

“Softly, Miss,” answered she addressed; “you’ll lose nothing by being
civil. Though Mr. Hareton, there, be not the master’s son, he’s your
cousin: and I was never hired to serve you.”

“_He_ my cousin!” cried Cathy, with a scornful laugh.

“Yes, indeed,” responded her reprover.

“Oh, Ellen! don’t let them say such things,” she pursued in great
trouble. “Papa is gone to fetch my cousin from London: my cousin is a
gentleman’s son. That my—” she stopped, and wept outright; upset at the
bare notion of relationship with such a clown.

“Hush, hush!” I whispered; “people can have many cousins and of all
sorts, Miss Cathy, without being any the worse for it; only they
needn’t keep their company, if they be disagreeable and bad.”

“He’s not—he’s not my cousin, Ellen!” she went on, gathering fresh
grief from reflection, and flinging herself into my arms for refuge
from the idea.

I was much vexed at her and the servant for their mutual revelations;
having no doubt of Linton’s approaching arrival, communicated by the
former, being reported to Mr. Heathcliff; and feeling as confident that
Catherine’s first thought on her father’s return would be to seek an
explanation of the latter’s assertion concerning her rude-bred kindred.
Hareton, recovering from his disgust at being taken for a servant,
seemed moved by her distress; and, having fetched the pony round to the
door, he took, to propitiate her, a fine crooked-legged terrier whelp
from the kennel, and putting it into her hand, bid her whist! for he
meant nought. Pausing in her lamentations, she surveyed him with a
glance of awe and horror, then burst forth anew.

I could scarcely refrain from smiling at this antipathy to the poor
fellow; who was a well-made, athletic youth, good-looking in features,
and stout and healthy, but attired in garments befitting his daily
occupations of working on the farm and lounging among the moors after
rabbits and game. Still, I thought I could detect in his physiognomy a
mind owning better qualities than his father ever possessed. Good
things lost amid a wilderness of weeds, to be sure, whose rankness far
over-topped their neglected growth; yet, notwithstanding, evidence of a
wealthy soil, that might yield luxuriant crops under other and
favourable circumstances. Mr. Heathcliff, I believe, had not treated
him physically ill; thanks to his fearless nature, which offered no
temptation to that course of oppression: he had none of the timid
susceptibility that would have given zest to ill-treatment, in
Heathcliff’s judgment. He appeared to have bent his malevolence on
making him a brute: he was never taught to read or write; never rebuked
for any bad habit which did not annoy his keeper; never led a single
step towards virtue, or guarded by a single precept against vice. And
from what I heard, Joseph contributed much to his deterioration, by a
narrow-minded partiality which prompted him to flatter and pet him, as
a boy, because he was the head of the old family. And as he had been in
the habit of accusing Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, when children,
of putting the master past his patience, and compelling him to seek
solace in drink by what he termed their “offald ways,” so at present he
laid the whole burden of Hareton’s faults on the shoulders of the
usurper of his property. If the lad swore, he wouldn’t correct him: nor
however culpably he behaved. It gave Joseph satisfaction, apparently,
to watch him go the worst lengths: he allowed that the lad was ruined:
that his soul was abandoned to perdition; but then he reflected that
Heathcliff must answer for it. Hareton’s blood would be required at his
hands; and there lay immense consolation in that thought. Joseph had
instilled into him a pride of name, and of his lineage; he would, had
he dared, have fostered hate between him and the present owner of the
Heights: but his dread of that owner amounted to superstition; and he
confined his feelings regarding him to muttered innuendoes and private
comminations. I don’t pretend to be intimately acquainted with the mode
of living customary in those days at Wuthering Heights: I only speak
from hearsay; for I saw little. The villagers affirmed Mr. Heathcliff
was _near_, and a cruel hard landlord to his tenants; but the house,
inside, had regained its ancient aspect of comfort under female
management, and the scenes of riot common in Hindley’s time were not
now enacted within its walls. The master was too gloomy to seek
companionship with any people, good or bad; and he is yet.

This, however, is not making progress with my story. Miss Cathy
rejected the peace-offering of the terrier, and demanded her own dogs,
Charlie and Phoenix. They came limping and hanging their heads; and we
set out for home, sadly out of sorts, every one of us. I could not
wring from my little lady how she had spent the day; except that, as I
supposed, the goal of her pilgrimage was Penistone Crags; and she
arrived without adventure to the gate of the farm-house, when Hareton
happened to issue forth, attended by some canine followers, who
attacked her train. They had a smart battle, before their owners could
separate them: that formed an introduction. Catherine told Hareton who
she was, and where she was going; and asked him to show her the way:
finally, beguiling him to accompany her. He opened the mysteries of the
Fairy Cave, and twenty other queer places. But, being in disgrace, I
was not favoured with a description of the interesting objects she saw.
I could gather, however, that her guide had been a favourite till she
hurt his feelings by addressing him as a servant; and Heathcliff’s
housekeeper hurt hers by calling him her cousin. Then the language he
had held to her rankled in her heart; she who was always “love,” and
“darling,” and “queen,” and “angel,” with everybody at the Grange, to
be insulted so shockingly by a stranger! She did not comprehend it; and
hard work I had to obtain a promise that she would not lay the
grievance before her father. I explained how he objected to the whole
household at the Heights, and how sorry he would be to find she had
been there; but I insisted most on the fact, that if she revealed my
negligence of his orders, he would perhaps be so angry that I should
have to leave; and Cathy couldn’t bear that prospect: she pledged her
word, and kept it for my sake. After all, she was a sweet little girl.



CHAPTER XIX


A letter, edged with black, announced the day of my master’s return.
Isabella was dead; and he wrote to bid me get mourning for his
daughter, and arrange a room, and other accommodations, for his
youthful nephew. Catherine ran wild with joy at the idea of welcoming
her father back; and indulged most sanguine anticipations of the
innumerable excellencies of her “real” cousin. The evening of their
expected arrival came. Since early morning she had been busy ordering
her own small affairs; and now attired in her new black frock—poor
thing! her aunt’s death impressed her with no definite sorrow—she
obliged me, by constant worrying, to walk with her down through the
grounds to meet them.

“Linton is just six months younger than I am,” she chattered, as we
strolled leisurely over the swells and hollows of mossy turf, under
shadow of the trees. “How delightful it will be to have him for a
playfellow! Aunt Isabella sent papa a beautiful lock of his hair; it
was lighter than mine—more flaxen, and quite as fine. I have it
carefully preserved in a little glass box; and I’ve often thought what
a pleasure it would be to see its owner. Oh! I am happy—and papa, dear,
dear papa! Come, Ellen, let us run! come, run.”

She ran, and returned and ran again, many times before my sober
footsteps reached the gate, and then she seated herself on the grassy
bank beside the path, and tried to wait patiently; but that was
impossible: she couldn’t be still a minute.

“How long they are!” she exclaimed. “Ah, I see, some dust on the
road—they are coming! No! When will they be here? May we not go a
little way—half a mile, Ellen, only just half a mile? Do say Yes: to
that clump of birches at the turn!”

I refused staunchly. At length her suspense was ended: the travelling
carriage rolled in sight. Miss Cathy shrieked and stretched out her
arms as soon as she caught her father’s face looking from the window.
He descended, nearly as eager as herself; and a considerable interval
elapsed ere they had a thought to spare for any but themselves. While
they exchanged caresses I took a peep in to see after Linton. He was
asleep in a corner, wrapped in a warm, fur-lined cloak, as if it had
been winter. A pale, delicate, effeminate boy, who might have been
taken for my master’s younger brother, so strong was the resemblance:
but there was a sickly peevishness in his aspect that Edgar Linton
never had. The latter saw me looking; and having shaken hands, advised
me to close the door, and leave him undisturbed; for the journey had
fatigued him. Cathy would fain have taken one glance, but her father
told her to come, and they walked together up the park, while I
hastened before to prepare the servants.

“Now, darling,” said Mr. Linton, addressing his daughter, as they
halted at the bottom of the front steps: “your cousin is not so strong
or so merry as you are, and he has lost his mother, remember, a very
short time since; therefore, don’t expect him to play and run about
with you directly. And don’t harass him much by talking: let him be
quiet this evening, at least, will you?”

“Yes, yes, papa,” answered Catherine: “but I do want to see him; and he
hasn’t once looked out.”

The carriage stopped; and the sleeper being roused, was lifted to the
ground by his uncle.

“This is your cousin Cathy, Linton,” he said, putting their little
hands together. “She’s fond of you already; and mind you don’t grieve
her by crying to-night. Try to be cheerful now; the travelling is at an
end, and you have nothing to do but rest and amuse yourself as you
please.”

“Let me go to bed, then,” answered the boy, shrinking from Catherine’s
salute; and he put his fingers to remove incipient tears.

“Come, come, there’s a good child,” I whispered, leading him in.
“You’ll make her weep too—see how sorry she is for you!”

I do not know whether it was sorrow for him, but his cousin put on as
sad a countenance as himself, and returned to her father. All three
entered, and mounted to the library, where tea was laid ready. I
proceeded to remove Linton’s cap and mantle, and placed him on a chair
by the table; but he was no sooner seated than he began to cry afresh.
My master inquired what was the matter.

“I can’t sit on a chair,” sobbed the boy.

“Go to the sofa, then, and Ellen shall bring you some tea,” answered
his uncle patiently.

He had been greatly tried, during the journey, I felt convinced, by his
fretful ailing charge. Linton slowly trailed himself off, and lay down.
Cathy carried a footstool and her cup to his side. At first she sat
silent; but that could not last: she had resolved to make a pet of her
little cousin, as she would have him to be; and she commenced stroking
his curls, and kissing his cheek, and offering him tea in her saucer,
like a baby. This pleased him, for he was not much better: he dried his
eyes, and lightened into a faint smile.

“Oh, he’ll do very well,” said the master to me, after watching them a
minute. “Very well, if we can keep him, Ellen. The company of a child
of his own age will instil new spirit into him soon, and by wishing for
strength he’ll gain it.”

“Ay, if we can keep him!” I mused to myself; and sore misgivings came
over me that there was slight hope of that. And then, I thought, how
ever will that weakling live at Wuthering Heights? Between his father
and Hareton, what playmates and instructors they’ll be. Our doubts were
presently decided—even earlier than I expected. I had just taken the
children upstairs, after tea was finished, and seen Linton asleep—he
would not suffer me to leave him till that was the case—I had come
down, and was standing by the table in the hall, lighting a bedroom
candle for Mr. Edgar, when a maid stepped out of the kitchen and
informed me that Mr. Heathcliff’s servant Joseph was at the door, and
wished to speak with the master.

“I shall ask him what he wants first,” I said, in considerable
trepidation. “A very unlikely hour to be troubling people, and the
instant they have returned from a long journey. I don’t think the
master can see him.”

Joseph had advanced through the kitchen as I uttered these words, and
now presented himself in the hall. He was donned in his Sunday
garments, with his most sanctimonious and sourest face, and, holding
his hat in one hand, and his stick in the other, he proceeded to clean
his shoes on the mat.

“Good-evening, Joseph,” I said, coldly. “What business brings you here
to-night?”

“It’s Maister Linton I mun spake to,” he answered, waving me
disdainfully aside.

“Mr. Linton is going to bed; unless you have something particular to
say, I’m sure he won’t hear it now,” I continued. “You had better sit
down in there, and entrust your message to me.”

“Which is his rahm?” pursued the fellow, surveying the range of closed
doors.

I perceived he was bent on refusing my mediation, so very reluctantly I
went up to the library, and announced the unseasonable visitor,
advising that he should be dismissed till next day. Mr. Linton had no
time to empower me to do so, for Joseph mounted close at my heels, and,
pushing into the apartment, planted himself at the far side of the
table, with his two fists clapped on the head of his stick, and began
in an elevated tone, as if anticipating opposition—

“Hathecliff has sent me for his lad, and I munn’t goa back ’bout him.”

Edgar Linton was silent a minute; an expression of exceeding sorrow
overcast his features: he would have pitied the child on his own
account; but, recalling Isabella’s hopes and fears, and anxious wishes
for her son, and her commendations of him to his care, he grieved
bitterly at the prospect of yielding him up, and searched in his heart
how it might be avoided. No plan offered itself: the very exhibition of
any desire to keep him would have rendered the claimant more
peremptory: there was nothing left but to resign him. However, he was
not going to rouse him from his sleep.

“Tell Mr. Heathcliff,” he answered calmly, “that his son shall come to
Wuthering Heights to-morrow. He is in bed, and too tired to go the
distance now. You may also tell him that the mother of Linton desired
him to remain under my guardianship; and, at present, his health is
very precarious.”

“Noa!” said Joseph, giving a thud with his prop on the floor, and
assuming an authoritative air. “Noa! that means naught. Hathecliff maks
noa ’count o’ t’ mother, nor ye norther; but he’ll heu’ his lad; und I
mun tak’ him—soa now ye knaw!”

“You shall not to-night!” answered Linton decisively. “Walk down stairs
at once, and repeat to your master what I have said. Ellen, show him
down. Go—”

And, aiding the indignant elder with a lift by the arm, he rid the room
of him and closed the door.

“Varrah weell!” shouted Joseph, as he slowly drew off. “To-morn, he’s
come hisseln, and thrust _him_ out, if ye darr!”



CHAPTER XX


To obviate the danger of this threat being fulfilled, Mr. Linton
commissioned me to take the boy home early, on Catherine’s pony; and,
said he—“As we shall now have no influence over his destiny, good or
bad, you must say nothing of where he is gone to my daughter: she
cannot associate with him hereafter, and it is better for her to remain
in ignorance of his proximity; lest she should be restless, and anxious
to visit the Heights. Merely tell her his father sent for him suddenly,
and he has been obliged to leave us.”

Linton was very reluctant to be roused from his bed at five o’clock,
and astonished to be informed that he must prepare for further
travelling; but I softened off the matter by stating that he was going
to spend some time with his father, Mr. Heathcliff, who wished to see
him so much, he did not like to defer the pleasure till he should
recover from his late journey.

“My father!” he cried, in strange perplexity. “Mamma never told me I
had a father. Where does he live? I’d rather stay with uncle.”

“He lives a little distance from the Grange,” I replied; “just beyond
those hills: not so far, but you may walk over here when you get
hearty. And you should be glad to go home, and to see him. You must try
to love him, as you did your mother, and then he will love you.”

“But why have I not heard of him before?” asked Linton. “Why didn’t
mamma and he live together, as other people do?”

“He had business to keep him in the north,” I answered, “and your
mother’s health required her to reside in the south.”

“And why didn’t mamma speak to me about him?” persevered the child.
“She often talked of uncle, and I learnt to love him long ago. How am I
to love papa? I don’t know him.”

“Oh, all children love their parents,” I said. “Your mother, perhaps,
thought you would want to be with him if she mentioned him often to
you. Let us make haste. An early ride on such a beautiful morning is
much preferable to an hour’s more sleep.”

“Is _she_ to go with us,” he demanded, “the little girl I saw
yesterday?”

“Not now,” replied I.

“Is uncle?” he continued.

“No, I shall be your companion there,” I said.

Linton sank back on his pillow and fell into a brown study.

“I won’t go without uncle,” he cried at length: “I can’t tell where you
mean to take me.”

I attempted to persuade him of the naughtiness of showing reluctance to
meet his father; still he obstinately resisted any progress towards
dressing, and I had to call for my master’s assistance in coaxing him
out of bed. The poor thing was finally got off, with several delusive
assurances that his absence should be short: that Mr. Edgar and Cathy
would visit him, and other promises, equally ill-founded, which I
invented and reiterated at intervals throughout the way. The pure
heather-scented air, the bright sunshine, and the gentle canter of
Minny, relieved his despondency after a while. He began to put
questions concerning his new home, and its inhabitants, with greater
interest and liveliness.

“Is Wuthering Heights as pleasant a place as Thrushcross Grange?” he
inquired, turning to take a last glance into the valley, whence a light
mist mounted and formed a fleecy cloud on the skirts of the blue.

“It is not so buried in trees,” I replied, “and it is not quite so
large, but you can see the country beautifully all round; and the air
is healthier for you—fresher and drier. You will, perhaps, think the
building old and dark at first; though it is a respectable house: the
next best in the neighbourhood. And you will have such nice rambles on
the moors. Hareton Earnshaw—that is, Miss Cathy’s other cousin, and so
yours in a manner—will show you all the sweetest spots; and you can
bring a book in fine weather, and make a green hollow your study; and,
now and then, your uncle may join you in a walk: he does, frequently,
walk out on the hills.”

“And what is my father like?” he asked. “Is he as young and handsome as
uncle?”

“He’s as young,” said I; “but he has black hair and eyes, and looks
sterner; and he is taller and bigger altogether. He’ll not seem to you
so gentle and kind at first, perhaps, because it is not his way: still,
mind you, be frank and cordial with him; and naturally he’ll be fonder
of you than any uncle, for you are his own.”

“Black hair and eyes!” mused Linton. “I can’t fancy him. Then I am not
like him, am I?”

“Not much,” I answered: not a morsel, I thought, surveying with regret
the white complexion and slim frame of my companion, and his large
languid eyes—his mother’s eyes, save that, unless a morbid touchiness
kindled them a moment, they had not a vestige of her sparkling spirit.

“How strange that he should never come to see mamma and me!” he
murmured. “Has he ever seen me? If he has, I must have been a baby. I
remember not a single thing about him!”

“Why, Master Linton,” said I, “three hundred miles is a great distance;
and ten years seem very different in length to a grown-up person
compared with what they do to you. It is probable Mr. Heathcliff
proposed going from summer to summer, but never found a convenient
opportunity; and now it is too late. Don’t trouble him with questions
on the subject: it will disturb him, for no good.”

The boy was fully occupied with his own cogitations for the remainder
of the ride, till we halted before the farmhouse garden-gate. I watched
to catch his impressions in his countenance. He surveyed the carved
front and low-browed lattices, the straggling gooseberry-bushes and
crooked firs, with solemn intentness, and then shook his head: his
private feelings entirely disapproved of the exterior of his new abode.
But he had sense to postpone complaining: there might be compensation
within. Before he dismounted, I went and opened the door. It was
half-past six; the family had just finished breakfast: the servant was
clearing and wiping down the table. Joseph stood by his master’s chair
telling some tale concerning a lame horse; and Hareton was preparing
for the hayfield.

“Hallo, Nelly!” said Mr. Heathcliff, when he saw me. “I feared I should
have to come down and fetch my property myself. You’ve brought it, have
you? Let us see what we can make of it.”

He got up and strode to the door: Hareton and Joseph followed in gaping
curiosity. Poor Linton ran a frightened eye over the faces of the
three.

“Sure-ly,” said Joseph after a grave inspection, “he’s swopped wi’ ye,
Maister, an’ yon’s his lass!”

Heathcliff, having stared his son into an ague of confusion, uttered a
scornful laugh.

“God! what a beauty! what a lovely, charming thing!” he exclaimed.
“Hav’n’t they reared it on snails and sour milk, Nelly? Oh, damn my
soul! but that’s worse than I expected—and the devil knows I was not
sanguine!”

I bid the trembling and bewildered child get down, and enter. He did
not thoroughly comprehend the meaning of his father’s speech, or
whether it were intended for him: indeed, he was not yet certain that
the grim, sneering stranger was his father. But he clung to me with
growing trepidation; and on Mr. Heathcliff’s taking a seat and bidding
him “come hither” he hid his face on my shoulder and wept.

“Tut, tut!” said Heathcliff, stretching out a hand and dragging him
roughly between his knees, and then holding up his head by the chin.
“None of that nonsense! We’re not going to hurt thee, Linton—isn’t that
thy name? Thou art thy mother’s child, entirely! Where is my share in
thee, puling chicken?”

He took off the boy’s cap and pushed back his thick flaxen curls, felt
his slender arms and his small fingers; during which examination Linton
ceased crying, and lifted his great blue eyes to inspect the inspector.

“Do you know me?” asked Heathcliff, having satisfied himself that the
limbs were all equally frail and feeble.

“No,” said Linton, with a gaze of vacant fear.

“You’ve heard of me, I daresay?”

“No,” he replied again.

“No! What a shame of your mother, never to waken your filial regard for
me! You are my son, then, I’ll tell you; and your mother was a wicked
slut to leave you in ignorance of the sort of father you possessed.
Now, don’t wince, and colour up! Though it is something to see you have
not white blood. Be a good lad; and I’ll do for you. Nelly, if you be
tired you may sit down; if not, get home again. I guess you’ll report
what you hear and see to the cipher at the Grange; and this thing won’t
be settled while you linger about it.”

“Well,” replied I, “I hope you’ll be kind to the boy, Mr. Heathcliff,
or you’ll not keep him long; and he’s all you have akin in the wide
world, that you will ever know—remember.”

“I’ll be very kind to him, you needn’t fear,” he said, laughing. “Only
nobody else must be kind to him: I’m jealous of monopolising his
affection. And, to begin my kindness, Joseph, bring the lad some
breakfast. Hareton, you infernal calf, begone to your work. Yes, Nell,”
he added, when they had departed, “my son is prospective owner of your
place, and I should not wish him to die till I was certain of being his
successor. Besides, he’s _mine_, and I want the triumph of seeing _my_
descendant fairly lord of their estates; my child hiring their children
to till their fathers’ lands for wages. That is the sole consideration
which can make me endure the whelp: I despise him for himself, and hate
him for the memories he revives! But that consideration is sufficient:
he’s as safe with me, and shall be tended as carefully as your master
tends his own. I have a room upstairs, furnished for him in handsome
style; I’ve engaged a tutor, also, to come three times a week, from
twenty miles’ distance, to teach him what he pleases to learn. I’ve
ordered Hareton to obey him: and in fact I’ve arranged everything with
a view to preserve the superior and the gentleman in him, above his
associates. I do regret, however, that he so little deserves the
trouble: if I wished any blessing in the world, it was to find him a
worthy object of pride; and I’m bitterly disappointed with the
whey-faced, whining wretch!”

While he was speaking, Joseph returned bearing a basin of
milk-porridge, and placed it before Linton: who stirred round the
homely mess with a look of aversion, and affirmed he could not eat it.
I saw the old man-servant shared largely in his master’s scorn of the
child; though he was compelled to retain the sentiment in his heart,
because Heathcliff plainly meant his underlings to hold him in honour.

“Cannot ate it?” repeated he, peering in Linton’s face, and subduing
his voice to a whisper, for fear of being overheard. “But Maister
Hareton nivir ate naught else, when he wer a little ’un; and what wer
gooid enough for him’s gooid enough for ye, I’s rayther think!”

“I _sha’n’t_ eat it!” answered Linton, snappishly. “Take it away.”

Joseph snatched up the food indignantly, and brought it to us.

“Is there aught ails th’ victuals?” he asked, thrusting the tray under
Heathcliff’s nose.

“What should ail them?” he said.

“Wah!” answered Joseph, “yon dainty chap says he cannut ate ’em. But I
guess it’s raight! His mother wer just soa—we wer a’most too mucky to
sow t’ corn for makking her breead.”

“Don’t mention his mother to me,” said the master, angrily. “Get him
something that he can eat, that’s all. What is his usual food, Nelly?”

I suggested boiled milk or tea; and the housekeeper received
instructions to prepare some. Come, I reflected, his father’s
selfishness may contribute to his comfort. He perceives his delicate
constitution, and the necessity of treating him tolerably. I’ll console
Mr. Edgar by acquainting him with the turn Heathcliff’s humour has
taken. Having no excuse for lingering longer, I slipped out, while
Linton was engaged in timidly rebuffing the advances of a friendly
sheep-dog. But he was too much on the alert to be cheated: as I closed
the door, I heard a cry, and a frantic repetition of the words—

“Don’t leave me! I’ll not stay here! I’ll not stay here!”

Then the latch was raised and fell: they did not suffer him to come
forth. I mounted Minny, and urged her to a trot; and so my brief
guardianship ended.



CHAPTER XXI


We had sad work with little Cathy that day: she rose in high glee,
eager to join her cousin, and such passionate tears and lamentations
followed the news of his departure that Edgar himself was obliged to
soothe her, by affirming he should come back soon: he added, however,
“if I can get him”; and there were no hopes of that. This promise
poorly pacified her; but time was more potent; and though still at
intervals she inquired of her father when Linton would return, before
she did see him again his features had waxed so dim in her memory that
she did not recognise him.

When I chanced to encounter the housekeeper of Wuthering Heights, in
paying business visits to Gimmerton, I used to ask how the young master
got on; for he lived almost as secluded as Catherine herself, and was
never to be seen. I could gather from her that he continued in weak
health, and was a tiresome inmate. She said Mr. Heathcliff seemed to
dislike him ever longer and worse, though he took some trouble to
conceal it: he had an antipathy to the sound of his voice, and could
not do at all with his sitting in the same room with him many minutes
together. There seldom passed much talk between them: Linton learnt his
lessons and spent his evenings in a small apartment they called the
parlour: or else lay in bed all day: for he was constantly getting
coughs, and colds, and aches, and pains of some sort.

“And I never know such a fainthearted creature,” added the woman; “nor
one so careful of hisseln. He _will_ go on, if I leave the window open
a bit late in the evening. Oh! it’s killing, a breath of night air! And
he must have a fire in the middle of summer; and Joseph’s bacca-pipe is
poison; and he must always have sweets and dainties, and always milk,
milk for ever—heeding naught how the rest of us are pinched in winter;
and there he’ll sit, wrapped in his furred cloak in his chair by the
fire, with some toast and water or other slop on the hob to sip at; and
if Hareton, for pity, comes to amuse him—Hareton is not bad-natured,
though he’s rough—they’re sure to part, one swearing and the other
crying. I believe the master would relish Earnshaw’s thrashing him to a
mummy, if he were not his son; and I’m certain he would be fit to turn
him out of doors, if he knew half the nursing he gives hisseln. But
then he won’t go into danger of temptation: he never enters the
parlour, and should Linton show those ways in the house where he is, he
sends him upstairs directly.”

I divined, from this account, that utter lack of sympathy had rendered
young Heathcliff selfish and disagreeable, if he were not so
originally; and my interest in him, consequently, decayed: though still
I was moved with a sense of grief at his lot, and a wish that he had
been left with us. Mr. Edgar encouraged me to gain information: he
thought a great deal about him, I fancy, and would have run some risk
to see him; and he told me once to ask the housekeeper whether he ever
came into the village? She said he had only been twice, on horseback,
accompanying his father; and both times he pretended to be quite
knocked up for three or four days afterwards. That housekeeper left, if
I recollect rightly, two years after he came; and another, whom I did
not know, was her successor; she lives there still.

Time wore on at the Grange in its former pleasant way till Miss Cathy
reached sixteen. On the anniversary of her birth we never manifested
any signs of rejoicing, because it was also the anniversary of my late
mistress’s death. Her father invariably spent that day alone in the
library; and walked, at dusk, as far as Gimmerton kirkyard, where he
would frequently prolong his stay beyond midnight. Therefore Catherine
was thrown on her own resources for amusement. This twentieth of March
was a beautiful spring day, and when her father had retired, my young
lady came down dressed for going out, and said she asked to have a
ramble on the edge of the moor with me: Mr. Linton had given her leave,
if we went only a short distance and were back within the hour.

“So make haste, Ellen!” she cried. “I know where I wish to go; where a
colony of moor-game are settled: I want to see whether they have made
their nests yet.”

“That must be a good distance up,” I answered; “they don’t breed on the
edge of the moor.”

“No, it’s not,” she said. “I’ve gone very near with papa.”

I put on my bonnet and sallied out, thinking nothing more of the
matter. She bounded before me, and returned to my side, and was off
again like a young greyhound; and, at first, I found plenty of
entertainment in listening to the larks singing far and near, and
enjoying the sweet, warm sunshine; and watching her, my pet and my
delight, with her golden ringlets flying loose behind, and her bright
cheek, as soft and pure in its bloom as a wild rose, and her eyes
radiant with cloudless pleasure. She was a happy creature, and an
angel, in those days. It’s a pity she could not be content.

“Well,” said I, “where are your moor-game, Miss Cathy? We should be at
them: the Grange park-fence is a great way off now.”

“Oh, a little further—only a little further, Ellen,” was her answer,
continually. “Climb to that hillock, pass that bank, and by the time
you reach the other side I shall have raised the birds.”

But there were so many hillocks and banks to climb and pass, that, at
length, I began to be weary, and told her we must halt, and retrace our
steps. I shouted to her, as she had outstripped me a long way; she
either did not hear or did not regard, for she still sprang on, and I
was compelled to follow. Finally, she dived into a hollow; and before I
came in sight of her again, she was two miles nearer Wuthering Heights
than her own home; and I beheld a couple of persons arrest her, one of
whom I felt convinced was Mr. Heathcliff himself.

Cathy had been caught in the fact of plundering, or, at least, hunting
out the nests of the grouse. The Heights were Heathcliff’s land, and he
was reproving the poacher.

“I’ve neither taken any nor found any,” she said, as I toiled to them,
expanding her hands in corroboration of the statement. “I didn’t mean
to take them; but papa told me there were quantities up here, and I
wished to see the eggs.”

Heathcliff glanced at me with an ill-meaning smile, expressing his
acquaintance with the party, and, consequently, his malevolence towards
it, and demanded who “papa” was?

“Mr. Linton of Thrushcross Grange,” she replied. “I thought you did not
know me, or you wouldn’t have spoken in that way.”

“You suppose papa is highly esteemed and respected, then?” he said,
sarcastically.

“And what are you?” inquired Catherine, gazing curiously on the
speaker. “That man I’ve seen before. Is he your son?”

She pointed to Hareton, the other individual, who had gained nothing
but increased bulk and strength by the addition of two years to his
age: he seemed as awkward and rough as ever.

“Miss Cathy,” I interrupted, “it will be three hours instead of one
that we are out, presently. We really must go back.”

“No, that man is not my son,” answered Heathcliff, pushing me aside.
“But I have one, and you have seen him before too; and, though your
nurse is in a hurry, I think both you and she would be the better for a
little rest. Will you just turn this nab of heath, and walk into my
house? You’ll get home earlier for the ease; and you shall receive a
kind welcome.”

I whispered Catherine that she mustn’t, on any account, accede to the
proposal: it was entirely out of the question.

“Why?” she asked, aloud. “I’m tired of running, and the ground is dewy:
I can’t sit here. Let us go, Ellen. Besides, he says I have seen his
son. He’s mistaken, I think; but I guess where he lives: at the
farmhouse I visited in coming from Penistone Crags. Don’t you?”

“I do. Come, Nelly, hold your tongue—it will be a treat for her to look
in on us. Hareton, get forwards with the lass. You shall walk with me,
Nelly.”

“No, she’s not going to any such place,” I cried, struggling to release
my arm, which he had seized: but she was almost at the door-stones
already, scampering round the brow at full speed. Her appointed
companion did not pretend to escort her: he shied off by the road-side,
and vanished.

“Mr. Heathcliff, it’s very wrong,” I continued: “you know you mean no
good. And there she’ll see Linton, and all will be told as soon as ever
we return; and I shall have the blame.”

“I want her to see Linton,” he answered; “he’s looking better these few
days; it’s not often he’s fit to be seen. And we’ll soon persuade her
to keep the visit secret: where is the harm of it?”

“The harm of it is, that her father would hate me if he found I
suffered her to enter your house; and I am convinced you have a bad
design in encouraging her to do so,” I replied.

“My design is as honest as possible. I’ll inform you of its whole
scope,” he said. “That the two cousins may fall in love, and get
married. I’m acting generously to your master: his young chit has no
expectations, and should she second my wishes she’ll be provided for at
once as joint successor with Linton.”

“If Linton died,” I answered, “and his life is quite uncertain,
Catherine would be the heir.”

“No, she would not,” he said. “There is no clause in the will to secure
it so: his property would go to me; but, to prevent disputes, I desire
their union, and am resolved to bring it about.”

“And I’m resolved she shall never approach your house with me again,” I
returned, as we reached the gate, where Miss Cathy waited our coming.

Heathcliff bade me be quiet; and, preceding us up the path, hastened to
open the door. My young lady gave him several looks, as if she could
not exactly make up her mind what to think of him; but now he smiled
when he met her eye, and softened his voice in addressing her; and I
was foolish enough to imagine the memory of her mother might disarm him
from desiring her injury. Linton stood on the hearth. He had been out
walking in the fields, for his cap was on, and he was calling to Joseph
to bring him dry shoes. He had grown tall of his age, still wanting
some months of sixteen. His features were pretty yet, and his eye and
complexion brighter than I remembered them, though with merely
temporary lustre borrowed from the salubrious air and genial sun.

“Now, who is that?” asked Mr. Heathcliff, turning to Cathy. “Can you
tell?”

“Your son?” she said, having doubtfully surveyed, first one and then
the other.

“Yes, yes,” answered he: “but is this the only time you have beheld
him? Think! Ah! you have a short memory. Linton, don’t you recall your
cousin, that you used to tease us so with wishing to see?”

“What, Linton!” cried Cathy, kindling into joyful surprise at the name.
“Is that little Linton? He’s taller than I am! Are you Linton?”

The youth stepped forward, and acknowledged himself: she kissed him
fervently, and they gazed with wonder at the change time had wrought in
the appearance of each. Catherine had reached her full height; her
figure was both plump and slender, elastic as steel, and her whole
aspect sparkling with health and spirits. Linton’s looks and movements
were very languid, and his form extremely slight; but there was a grace
in his manner that mitigated these defects, and rendered him not
unpleasing. After exchanging numerous marks of fondness with him, his
cousin went to Mr. Heathcliff, who lingered by the door, dividing his
attention between the objects inside and those that lay without:
pretending, that is, to observe the latter, and really noting the
former alone.

“And you are my uncle, then!” she cried, reaching up to salute him. “I
thought I liked you, though you were cross at first. Why don’t you
visit at the Grange with Linton? To live all these years such close
neighbours, and never see us, is odd: what have you done so for?”

“I visited it once or twice too often before you were born,” he
answered. “There—damn it! If you have any kisses to spare, give them to
Linton: they are thrown away on me.”

“Naughty Ellen!” exclaimed Catherine, flying to attack me next with her
lavish caresses. “Wicked Ellen! to try to hinder me from entering. But
I’ll take this walk every morning in future: may I, uncle? and
sometimes bring papa. Won’t you be glad to see us?”

“Of course,” replied the uncle, with a hardly suppressed grimace,
resulting from his deep aversion to both the proposed visitors. “But
stay,” he continued, turning towards the young lady. “Now I think of
it, I’d better tell you. Mr. Linton has a prejudice against me: we
quarrelled at one time of our lives, with unchristian ferocity; and, if
you mention coming here to him, he’ll put a veto on your visits
altogether. Therefore, you must not mention it, unless you be careless
of seeing your cousin hereafter: you may come, if you will, but you
must not mention it.”

“Why did you quarrel?” asked Catherine, considerably crestfallen.

“He thought me too poor to wed his sister,” answered Heathcliff, “and
was grieved that I got her: his pride was hurt, and he’ll never forgive
it.”

“That’s wrong!” said the young lady: “some time I’ll tell him so. But
Linton and I have no share in your quarrel. I’ll not come here, then;
he shall come to the Grange.”

“It will be too far for me,” murmured her cousin: “to walk four miles
would kill me. No, come here, Miss Catherine, now and then: not every
morning, but once or twice a week.”

The father launched towards his son a glance of bitter contempt.

“I am afraid, Nelly, I shall lose my labour,” he muttered to me. “Miss
Catherine, as the ninny calls her, will discover his value, and send
him to the devil. Now, if it had been Hareton!—Do you know that, twenty
times a day, I covet Hareton, with all his degradation? I’d have loved
the lad had he been some one else. But I think he’s safe from _her_
love. I’ll pit him against that paltry creature, unless it bestir
itself briskly. We calculate it will scarcely last till it is eighteen.
Oh, confound the vapid thing! He’s absorbed in drying his feet, and
never looks at her.—Linton!”

“Yes, father,” answered the boy.

“Have you nothing to show your cousin anywhere about, not even a rabbit
or a weasel’s nest? Take her into the garden, before you change your
shoes; and into the stable to see your horse.”

“Wouldn’t you rather sit here?” asked Linton, addressing Cathy in a
tone which expressed reluctance to move again.

“I don’t know,” she replied, casting a longing look to the door, and
evidently eager to be active.

He kept his seat, and shrank closer to the fire. Heathcliff rose, and
went into the kitchen, and from thence to the yard, calling out for
Hareton. Hareton responded, and presently the two re-entered. The young
man had been washing himself, as was visible by the glow on his cheeks
and his wetted hair.

“Oh, I’ll ask _you_, uncle,” cried Miss Cathy, recollecting the
housekeeper’s assertion. “That is not my cousin, is he?”

“Yes,” he, replied, “your mother’s nephew. Don’t you like him!”

Catherine looked queer.

“Is he not a handsome lad?” he continued.

The uncivil little thing stood on tiptoe, and whispered a sentence in
Heathcliff’s ear. He laughed; Hareton darkened: I perceived he was very
sensitive to suspected slights, and had obviously a dim notion of his
inferiority. But his master or guardian chased the frown by exclaiming—

“You’ll be the favourite among us, Hareton! She says you are a—What was
it? Well, something very flattering. Here! you go with her round the
farm. And behave like a gentleman, mind! Don’t use any bad words; and
don’t stare when the young lady is not looking at you, and be ready to
hide your face when she is; and, when you speak, say your words slowly,
and keep your hands out of your pockets. Be off, and entertain her as
nicely as you can.”

He watched the couple walking past the window. Earnshaw had his
countenance completely averted from his companion. He seemed studying
the familiar landscape with a stranger’s and an artist’s interest.
Catherine took a sly look at him, expressing small admiration. She then
turned her attention to seeking out objects of amusement for herself,
and tripped merrily on, lilting a tune to supply the lack of
conversation.

“I’ve tied his tongue,” observed Heathcliff. “He’ll not venture a
single syllable all the time! Nelly, you recollect me at his age—nay,
some years younger. Did I ever look so stupid: so ‘gaumless,’ as Joseph
calls it?”

“Worse,” I replied, “because more sullen with it.”

“I’ve a pleasure in him,” he continued, reflecting aloud. “He has
satisfied my expectations. If he were a born fool I should not enjoy it
half so much. But he’s no fool; and I can sympathise with all his
feelings, having felt them myself. I know what he suffers now, for
instance, exactly: it is merely a beginning of what he shall suffer,
though. And he’ll never be able to emerge from his bathos of coarseness
and ignorance. I’ve got him faster than his scoundrel of a father
secured me, and lower; for he takes a pride in his brutishness. I’ve
taught him to scorn everything extra-animal as silly and weak. Don’t
you think Hindley would be proud of his son, if he could see him?
almost as proud as I am of mine. But there’s this difference; one is
gold put to the use of paving-stones, and the other is tin polished to
ape a service of silver. _Mine_ has nothing valuable about it; yet I
shall have the merit of making it go as far as such poor stuff can go.
_His_ had first-rate qualities, and they are lost: rendered worse than
unavailing. _I_ have nothing to regret; _he_ would have more than any,
but I, are aware of. And the best of it is, Hareton is damnably fond of
me! You’ll own that I’ve outmatched Hindley there. If the dead villain
could rise from his grave to abuse me for his offspring’s wrongs, I
should have the fun of seeing the said offspring fight him back again,
indignant that he should dare to rail at the one friend he has in the
world!”

Heathcliff chuckled a fiendish laugh at the idea. I made no reply,
because I saw that he expected none. Meantime, our young companion, who
sat too removed from us to hear what was said, began to evince symptoms
of uneasiness, probably repenting that he had denied himself the treat
of Catherine’s society for fear of a little fatigue. His father
remarked the restless glances wandering to the window, and the hand
irresolutely extended towards his cap.

“Get up, you idle boy!” he exclaimed, with assumed heartiness.

“Away after them! they are just at the corner, by the stand of hives.”

Linton gathered his energies, and left the hearth. The lattice was
open, and, as he stepped out, I heard Cathy inquiring of her unsociable
attendant what was that inscription over the door? Hareton stared up,
and scratched his head like a true clown.

“It’s some damnable writing,” he answered. “I cannot read it.”

“Can’t read it?” cried Catherine; “I can read it: it’s English. But I
want to know why it is there.”

Linton giggled: the first appearance of mirth he had exhibited.

“He does not know his letters,” he said to his cousin. “Could you
believe in the existence of such a colossal dunce?”

“Is he all as he should be?” asked Miss Cathy, seriously; “or is he
simple: not right? I’ve questioned him twice now, and each time he
looked so stupid I think he does not understand me. I can hardly
understand him, I’m sure!”

Linton repeated his laugh, and glanced at Hareton tauntingly; who
certainly did not seem quite clear of comprehension at that moment.

“There’s nothing the matter but laziness; is there, Earnshaw?” he said.
“My cousin fancies you are an idiot. There you experience the
consequence of scorning ‘book-larning,’ as you would say. Have you
noticed, Catherine, his frightful Yorkshire pronunciation?”

“Why, where the devil is the use on’t?” growled Hareton, more ready in
answering his daily companion. He was about to enlarge further, but the
two youngsters broke into a noisy fit of merriment: my giddy miss being
delighted to discover that she might turn his strange talk to matter of
amusement.

“Where is the use of the devil in that sentence?” tittered Linton.
“Papa told you not to say any bad words, and you can’t open your mouth
without one. Do try to behave like a gentleman, now do!”

“If thou weren’t more a lass than a lad, I’d fell thee this minute, I
would; pitiful lath of a crater!” retorted the angry boor, retreating,
while his face burnt with mingled rage and mortification! for he was
conscious of being insulted, and embarrassed how to resent it.

Mr. Heathcliff having overheard the conversation, as well as I, smiled
when he saw him go; but immediately afterwards cast a look of singular
aversion on the flippant pair, who remained chattering in the door-way:
the boy finding animation enough while discussing Hareton’s faults and
deficiencies, and relating anecdotes of his goings on; and the girl
relishing his pert and spiteful sayings, without considering the
ill-nature they evinced. I began to dislike, more than to compassionate
Linton, and to excuse his father in some measure for holding him cheap.

We stayed till afternoon: I could not tear Miss Cathy away sooner; but
happily my master had not quitted his apartment, and remained ignorant
of our prolonged absence. As we walked home, I would fain have
enlightened my charge on the characters of the people we had quitted:
but she got it into her head that I was prejudiced against them.

“Aha!” she cried, “you take papa’s side, Ellen: you are partial I know;
or else you wouldn’t have cheated me so many years into the notion that
Linton lived a long way from here. I’m really extremely angry; only I’m
so pleased I can’t show it! But you must hold your tongue about _my_
uncle; he’s my uncle, remember; and I’ll scold papa for quarrelling
with him.”

And so she ran on, till I relinquished the endeavour to convince her of
her mistake. She did not mention the visit that night, because she did
not see Mr. Linton. Next day it all came out, sadly to my chagrin; and
still I was not altogether sorry: I thought the burden of directing and
warning would be more efficiently borne by him than me. But he was too
timid in giving satisfactory reasons for his wish that she should shun
connection with the household of the Heights, and Catherine liked good
reasons for every restraint that harassed her petted will.

“Papa!” she exclaimed, after the morning’s salutations, “guess whom I
saw yesterday, in my walk on the moors. Ah, papa, you started! you’ve
not done right, have you, now? I saw—but listen, and you shall hear how
I found you out; and Ellen, who is in league with you, and yet
pretended to pity me so, when I kept hoping, and was always
disappointed about Linton’s coming back!”

She gave a faithful account of her excursion and its consequences; and
my master, though he cast more than one reproachful look at me, said
nothing till she had concluded. Then he drew her to him, and asked if
she knew why he had concealed Linton’s near neighbourhood from her?
Could she think it was to deny her a pleasure that she might harmlessly
enjoy?

“It was because you disliked Mr. Heathcliff,” she answered.

“Then you believe I care more for my own feelings than yours, Cathy?”
he said. “No, it was not because I disliked Mr. Heathcliff, but because
Mr. Heathcliff dislikes me; and is a most diabolical man, delighting to
wrong and ruin those he hates, if they give him the slightest
opportunity. I knew that you could not keep up an acquaintance with
your cousin without being brought into contact with him; and I knew he
would detest you on my account; so for your own good, and nothing else,
I took precautions that you should not see Linton again. I meant to
explain this some time as you grew older, and I’m sorry I delayed it.”

“But Mr. Heathcliff was quite cordial, papa,” observed Catherine, not
at all convinced; “and he didn’t object to our seeing each other: he
said I might come to his house when I pleased; only I must not tell
you, because you had quarrelled with him, and would not forgive him for
marrying aunt Isabella. And you won’t. _You_ are the one to be blamed:
he is willing to let us be friends, at least; Linton and I; and you are
not.”

My master, perceiving that she would not take his word for her
uncle-in-law’s evil disposition, gave a hasty sketch of his conduct to
Isabella, and the manner in which Wuthering Heights became his
property. He could not bear to discourse long upon the topic; for
though he spoke little of it, he still felt the same horror and
detestation of his ancient enemy that had occupied his heart ever since
Mrs. Linton’s death. “She might have been living yet, if it had not
been for him!” was his constant bitter reflection; and, in his eyes,
Heathcliff seemed a murderer. Miss Cathy—conversant with no bad deeds
except her own slight acts of disobedience, injustice, and passion,
arising from hot temper and thoughtlessness, and repented of on the day
they were committed—was amazed at the blackness of spirit that could
brood on and cover revenge for years, and deliberately prosecute its
plans without a visitation of remorse. She appeared so deeply impressed
and shocked at this new view of human nature—excluded from all her
studies and all her ideas till now—that Mr. Edgar deemed it unnecessary
to pursue the subject. He merely added: “You will know hereafter,
darling, why I wish you to avoid his house and family; now return to
your old employments and amusements, and think no more about them.”

Catherine kissed her father, and sat down quietly to her lessons for a
couple of hours, according to custom; then she accompanied him into the
grounds, and the whole day passed as usual: but in the evening, when
she had retired to her room, and I went to help her to undress, I found
her crying, on her knees by the bedside.

“Oh, fie, silly child!” I exclaimed. “If you had any real griefs you’d
be ashamed to waste a tear on this little contrariety. You never had
one shadow of substantial sorrow, Miss Catherine. Suppose, for a
minute, that master and I were dead, and you were by yourself in the
world: how would you feel, then? Compare the present occasion with such
an affliction as that, and be thankful for the friends you have,
instead of coveting more.”

“I’m not crying for myself, Ellen,” she answered, “it’s for him. He
expected to see me again to-morrow, and there he’ll be so disappointed:
and he’ll wait for me, and I sha’n’t come!”

“Nonsense!” said I, “do you imagine he has thought as much of you as
you have of him? Hasn’t he Hareton for a companion? Not one in a
hundred would weep at losing a relation they had just seen twice, for
two afternoons. Linton will conjecture how it is, and trouble himself
no further about you.”

“But may I not write a note to tell him why I cannot come?” she asked,
rising to her feet. “And just send those books I promised to lend him?
His books are not as nice as mine, and he wanted to have them
extremely, when I told him how interesting they were. May I not,
Ellen?”

“No, indeed! no, indeed!” replied I with decision. “Then he would write
to you, and there’d never be an end of it. No, Miss Catherine, the
acquaintance must be dropped entirely: so papa expects, and I shall see
that it is done.”

“But how can one little note—?” she recommenced, putting on an
imploring countenance.

“Silence!” I interrupted. “We’ll not begin with your little notes. Get
into bed.”

She threw at me a very naughty look, so naughty that I would not kiss
her good-night at first: I covered her up, and shut her door, in great
displeasure; but, repenting half-way, I returned softly, and lo! there
was Miss standing at the table with a bit of blank paper before her and
a pencil in her hand, which she guiltily slipped out of sight on my
entrance.

“You’ll get nobody to take that, Catherine,” I said, “if you write it;
and at present I shall put out your candle.”

I set the extinguisher on the flame, receiving as I did so a slap on my
hand and a petulant “cross thing!” I then quitted her again, and she
drew the bolt in one of her worst, most peevish humours. The letter was
finished and forwarded to its destination by a milk-fetcher who came
from the village; but that I didn’t learn till some time afterwards.
Weeks passed on, and Cathy recovered her temper; though she grew
wondrous fond of stealing off to corners by herself and often, if I
came near her suddenly while reading, she would start and bend over the
book, evidently desirous to hide it; and I detected edges of loose
paper sticking out beyond the leaves. She also got a trick of coming
down early in the morning and lingering about the kitchen, as if she
were expecting the arrival of something; and she had a small drawer in
a cabinet in the library, which she would trifle over for hours, and
whose key she took special care to remove when she left it.

One day, as she inspected this drawer, I observed that the playthings
and trinkets which recently formed its contents were transmuted into
bits of folded paper. My curiosity and suspicions were roused; I
determined to take a peep at her mysterious treasures; so, at night, as
soon as she and my master were safe upstairs, I searched, and readily
found among my house keys one that would fit the lock. Having opened, I
emptied the whole contents into my apron, and took them with me to
examine at leisure in my own chamber. Though I could not but suspect, I
was still surprised to discover that they were a mass of
correspondence—daily almost, it must have been—from Linton Heathcliff:
answers to documents forwarded by her. The earlier dated were
embarrassed and short; gradually, however, they expanded into copious
love-letters, foolish, as the age of the writer rendered natural, yet
with touches here and there which I thought were borrowed from a more
experienced source. Some of them struck me as singularly odd compounds
of ardour and flatness; commencing in strong feeling, and concluding in
the affected, wordy style that a schoolboy might use to a fancied,
incorporeal sweetheart. Whether they satisfied Cathy I don’t know; but
they appeared very worthless trash to me. After turning over as many as
I thought proper, I tied them in a handkerchief and set them aside,
relocking the vacant drawer.

Following her habit, my young lady descended early, and visited the
kitchen: I watched her go to the door, on the arrival of a certain
little boy; and, while the dairymaid filled his can, she tucked
something into his jacket pocket, and plucked something out. I went
round by the garden, and laid wait for the messenger; who fought
valorously to defend his trust, and we spilt the milk between us; but I
succeeded in abstracting the epistle; and, threatening serious
consequences if he did not look sharp home, I remained under the wall
and perused Miss Cathy’s affectionate composition. It was more simple
and more eloquent than her cousin’s: very pretty and very silly. I
shook my head, and went meditating into the house. The day being wet,
she could not divert herself with rambling about the park; so, at the
conclusion of her morning studies, she resorted to the solace of the
drawer. Her father sat reading at the table; and I, on purpose, had
sought a bit of work in some unripped fringes of the window-curtain,
keeping my eye steadily fixed on her proceedings. Never did any bird
flying back to a plundered nest, which it had left brimful of chirping
young ones, express more complete despair, in its anguished cries and
flutterings, than she by her single “Oh!” and the change that
transfigured her late happy countenance. Mr. Linton looked up.

“What is the matter, love? Have you hurt yourself?” he said.

His tone and look assured her _he_ had not been the discoverer of the
hoard.

“No, papa!” she gasped. “Ellen! Ellen! come upstairs—I’m sick!”

I obeyed her summons, and accompanied her out.

“Oh, Ellen! you have got them,” she commenced immediately, dropping on
her knees, when we were enclosed alone. “Oh, give them to me, and I’ll
never, never do so again! Don’t tell papa. You have not told papa,
Ellen? say you have not? I’ve been exceedingly naughty, but I won’t do
it any more!”

With a grave severity in my manner I bade her stand up.

“So,” I exclaimed, “Miss Catherine, you are tolerably far on, it seems:
you may well be ashamed of them! A fine bundle of trash you study in
your leisure hours, to be sure: why, it’s good enough to be printed!
And what do you suppose the master will think when I display it before
him? I hav’n’t shown it yet, but you needn’t imagine I shall keep your
ridiculous secrets. For shame! and you must have led the way in writing
such absurdities: he would not have thought of beginning, I’m certain.”

“I didn’t! I didn’t!” sobbed Cathy, fit to break her heart. “I didn’t
once think of loving him till—”

“_Loving_!” cried I, as scornfully as I could utter the word.
“_Loving_! Did anybody ever hear the like! I might just as well talk of
loving the miller who comes once a year to buy our corn. Pretty loving,
indeed! and both times together you have seen Linton hardly four hours
in your life! Now here is the babyish trash. I’m going with it to the
library; and we’ll see what your father says to such _loving_.”

She sprang at her precious epistles, but I held them above my head; and
then she poured out further frantic entreaties that I would burn
them—do anything rather than show them. And being really fully as much
inclined to laugh as scold—for I esteemed it all girlish vanity—I at
length relented in a measure, and asked,—“If I consent to burn them,
will you promise faithfully neither to send nor receive a letter again,
nor a book (for I perceive you have sent him books), nor locks of hair,
nor rings, nor playthings?”

“We don’t send playthings,” cried Catherine, her pride overcoming her
shame.

“Nor anything at all, then, my lady?” I said. “Unless you will, here I
go.”

“I promise, Ellen!” she cried, catching my dress. “Oh, put them in the
fire, do, do!”

But when I proceeded to open a place with the poker the sacrifice was
too painful to be borne. She earnestly supplicated that I would spare
her one or two.

“One or two, Ellen, to keep for Linton’s sake!”

I unknotted the handkerchief, and commenced dropping them in from an
angle, and the flame curled up the chimney.

“I will have one, you cruel wretch!” she screamed, darting her hand
into the fire, and drawing forth some half-consumed fragments, at the
expense of her fingers.

“Very well—and I will have some to exhibit to papa!” I answered,
shaking back the rest into the bundle, and turning anew to the door.

She emptied her blackened pieces into the flames, and motioned me to
finish the immolation. It was done; I stirred up the ashes, and
interred them under a shovelful of coals; and she mutely, and with a
sense of intense injury, retired to her private apartment. I descended
to tell my master that the young lady’s qualm of sickness was almost
gone, but I judged it best for her to lie down a while. She wouldn’t
dine; but she reappeared at tea, pale, and red about the eyes, and
marvellously subdued in outward aspect. Next morning I answered the
letter by a slip of paper, inscribed, “Master Heathcliff is requested
to send no more notes to Miss Linton, as she will not receive them.”
And, henceforth, the little boy came with vacant pockets.



CHAPTER XXII


Summer drew to an end, and early autumn: it was past Michaelmas, but
the harvest was late that year, and a few of our fields were still
uncleared. Mr. Linton and his daughter would frequently walk out among
the reapers; at the carrying of the last sheaves they stayed till dusk,
and the evening happening to be chill and damp, my master caught a bad
cold, that settled obstinately on his lungs, and confined him indoors
throughout the whole of the winter, nearly without intermission.

Poor Cathy, frightened from her little romance, had been considerably
sadder and duller since its abandonment; and her father insisted on her
reading less, and taking more exercise. She had his companionship no
longer; I esteemed it a duty to supply its lack, as much as possible,
with mine: an inefficient substitute; for I could only spare two or
three hours, from my numerous diurnal occupations, to follow her
footsteps, and then my society was obviously less desirable than his.

On an afternoon in October, or the beginning of November—a fresh watery
afternoon, when the turf and paths were rustling with moist, withered
leaves, and the cold blue sky was half hidden by clouds—dark grey
streamers, rapidly mounting from the west, and boding abundant rain—I
requested my young lady to forego her ramble, because I was certain of
showers. She refused; and I unwillingly donned a cloak, and took my
umbrella to accompany her on a stroll to the bottom of the park: a
formal walk which she generally affected if low-spirited—and that she
invariably was when Mr. Edgar had been worse than ordinary, a thing
never known from his confession, but guessed both by her and me from
his increased silence and the melancholy of his countenance. She went
sadly on: there was no running or bounding now, though the chill wind
might well have tempted her to race. And often, from the side of my
eye, I could detect her raising a hand, and brushing something off her
cheek. I gazed round for a means of diverting her thoughts. On one side
of the road rose a high, rough bank, where hazels and stunted oaks,
with their roots half exposed, held uncertain tenure: the soil was too
loose for the latter; and strong winds had blown some nearly
horizontal. In summer Miss Catherine delighted to climb along these
trunks, and sit in the branches, swinging twenty feet above the ground;
and I, pleased with her agility and her light, childish heart, still
considered it proper to scold every time I caught her at such an
elevation, but so that she knew there was no necessity for descending.
From dinner to tea she would lie in her breeze-rocked cradle, doing
nothing except singing old songs—my nursery lore—to herself, or
watching the birds, joint tenants, feed and entice their young ones to
fly: or nestling with closed lids, half thinking, half dreaming,
happier than words can express.

“Look, Miss!” I exclaimed, pointing to a nook under the roots of one
twisted tree. “Winter is not here yet. There’s a little flower up
yonder, the last bud from the multitude of bluebells that clouded those
turf steps in July with a lilac mist. Will you clamber up, and pluck it
to show to papa?” Cathy stared a long time at the lonely blossom
trembling in its earthy shelter, and replied, at length—“No, I’ll not
touch it: but it looks melancholy, does it not, Ellen?”

“Yes,” I observed, “about as starved and suckless as you: your cheeks
are bloodless; let us take hold of hands and run. You’re so low, I
daresay I shall keep up with you.”

“No,” she repeated, and continued sauntering on, pausing at intervals
to muse over a bit of moss, or a tuft of blanched grass, or a fungus
spreading its bright orange among the heaps of brown foliage; and, ever
and anon, her hand was lifted to her averted face.

“Catherine, why are you crying, love?” I asked, approaching and putting
my arm over her shoulder. “You mustn’t cry because papa has a cold; be
thankful it is nothing worse.”

She now put no further restraint on her tears; her breath was stifled
by sobs.

“Oh, it will be something worse,” she said. “And what shall I do when
papa and you leave me, and I am by myself? I can’t forget your words,
Ellen; they are always in my ear. How life will be changed, how dreary
the world will be, when papa and you are dead.”

“None can tell whether you won’t die before us,” I replied. “It’s wrong
to anticipate evil. We’ll hope there are years and years to come before
any of us go: master is young, and I am strong, and hardly forty-five.
My mother lived till eighty, a canty dame to the last. And suppose Mr.
Linton were spared till he saw sixty, that would be more years than you
have counted, Miss. And would it not be foolish to mourn a calamity
above twenty years beforehand?”

“But Aunt Isabella was younger than papa,” she remarked, gazing up with
timid hope to seek further consolation.

“Aunt Isabella had not you and me to nurse her,” I replied. “She wasn’t
as happy as Master: she hadn’t as much to live for. All you need do, is
to wait well on your father, and cheer him by letting him see you
cheerful; and avoid giving him anxiety on any subject: mind that,
Cathy! I’ll not disguise but you might kill him if you were wild and
reckless, and cherished a foolish, fanciful affection for the son of a
person who would be glad to have him in his grave; and allowed him to
discover that you fretted over the separation he has judged it
expedient to make.”

“I fret about nothing on earth except papa’s illness,” answered my
companion. “I care for nothing in comparison with papa. And I’ll
never—never—oh, never, while I have my senses, do an act or say a word
to vex him. I love him better than myself, Ellen; and I know it by
this: I pray every night that I may live after him; because I would
rather be miserable than that he should be: that proves I love him
better than myself.”

“Good words,” I replied. “But deeds must prove it also; and after he is
well, remember you don’t forget resolutions formed in the hour of
fear.”

As we talked, we neared a door that opened on the road; and my young
lady, lightening into sunshine again, climbed up and seated herself on
the top of the wall, reaching over to gather some hips that bloomed
scarlet on the summit branches of the wild-rose trees shadowing the
highway side: the lower fruit had disappeared, but only birds could
touch the upper, except from Cathy’s present station. In stretching to
pull them, her hat fell off; and as the door was locked, she proposed
scrambling down to recover it. I bid her be cautious lest she got a
fall, and she nimbly disappeared. But the return was no such easy
matter: the stones were smooth and neatly cemented, and the rose-bushes
and black-berry stragglers could yield no assistance in re-ascending.
I, like a fool, didn’t recollect that, till I heard her laughing and
exclaiming—“Ellen! you’ll have to fetch the key, or else I must run
round to the porter’s lodge. I can’t scale the ramparts on this side!”

“Stay where you are,” I answered; “I have my bundle of keys in my
pocket: perhaps I may manage to open it; if not, I’ll go.”

Catherine amused herself with dancing to and fro before the door, while
I tried all the large keys in succession. I had applied the last, and
found that none would do; so, repeating my desire that she would remain
there, I was about to hurry home as fast as I could, when an
approaching sound arrested me. It was the trot of a horse; Cathy’s
dance stopped also.

“Who is that?” I whispered.

“Ellen, I wish you could open the door,” whispered back my companion,
anxiously.

“Ho, Miss Linton!” cried a deep voice (the rider’s), “I’m glad to meet
you. Don’t be in haste to enter, for I have an explanation to ask and
obtain.”

“I sha’n’t speak to you, Mr. Heathcliff,” answered Catherine. “Papa
says you are a wicked man, and you hate both him and me; and Ellen says
the same.”

“That is nothing to the purpose,” said Heathcliff. (He it was.) “I
don’t hate my son, I suppose; and it is concerning him that I demand
your attention. Yes; you have cause to blush. Two or three months
since, were you not in the habit of writing to Linton? making love in
play, eh? You deserved, both of you, flogging for that! You especially,
the elder; and less sensitive, as it turns out. I’ve got your letters,
and if you give me any pertness I’ll send them to your father. I
presume you grew weary of the amusement and dropped it, didn’t you?
Well, you dropped Linton with it into a Slough of Despond. He was in
earnest: in love, really. As true as I live, he’s dying for you;
breaking his heart at your fickleness: not figuratively, but actually.
Though Hareton has made him a standing jest for six weeks, and I have
used more serious measures, and attempted to frighten him out of his
idiocy, he gets worse daily; and he’ll be under the sod before summer,
unless you restore him!”

“How can you lie so glaringly to the poor child?” I called from the
inside. “Pray ride on! How can you deliberately get up such paltry
falsehoods? Miss Cathy, I’ll knock the lock off with a stone: you won’t
believe that vile nonsense. You can feel in yourself it is impossible
that a person should die for love of a stranger.”

“I was not aware there were eavesdroppers,” muttered the detected
villain. “Worthy Mrs. Dean, I like you, but I don’t like your
double-dealing,” he added aloud. “How could _you_ lie so glaringly as
to affirm I hated the ‘poor child’? and invent bugbear stories to
terrify her from my door-stones? Catherine Linton (the very name warms
me), my bonny lass, I shall be from home all this week; go and see if
have not spoken truth: do, there’s a darling! Just imagine your father
in my place, and Linton in yours; then think how you would value your
careless lover if he refused to stir a step to comfort you, when your
father himself entreated him; and don’t, from pure stupidity, fall into
the same error. I swear, on my salvation, he’s going to his grave, and
none but you can save him!”

The lock gave way and I issued out.

“I swear Linton is dying,” repeated Heathcliff, looking hard at me.
“And grief and disappointment are hastening his death. Nelly, if you
won’t let her go, you can walk over yourself. But I shall not return
till this time next week; and I think your master himself would
scarcely object to her visiting her cousin.”

“Come in,” said I, taking Cathy by the arm and half forcing her to
re-enter; for she lingered, viewing with troubled eyes the features of
the speaker, too stern to express his inward deceit.

He pushed his horse close, and, bending down, observed—“Miss Catherine,
I’ll own to you that I have little patience with Linton; and Hareton
and Joseph have less. I’ll own that he’s with a harsh set. He pines for
kindness, as well as love; and a kind word from you would be his best
medicine. Don’t mind Mrs. Dean’s cruel cautions; but be generous, and
contrive to see him. He dreams of you day and night, and cannot be
persuaded that you don’t hate him, since you neither write nor call.”

I closed the door, and rolled a stone to assist the loosened lock in
holding it; and spreading my umbrella, I drew my charge underneath: for
the rain began to drive through the moaning branches of the trees, and
warned us to avoid delay. Our hurry prevented any comment on the
encounter with Heathcliff, as we stretched towards home; but I divined
instinctively that Catherine’s heart was clouded now in double
darkness. Her features were so sad, they did not seem hers: she
evidently regarded what she had heard as every syllable true.

The master had retired to rest before we came in. Cathy stole to his
room to inquire how he was; he had fallen asleep. She returned, and
asked me to sit with her in the library. We took our tea together; and
afterwards she lay down on the rug, and told me not to talk, for she
was weary. I got a book, and pretended to read. As soon as she supposed
me absorbed in my occupation, she recommenced her silent weeping: it
appeared, at present, her favourite diversion. I suffered her to enjoy
it a while; then I expostulated: deriding and ridiculing all Mr.
Heathcliff’s assertions about his son, as if I were certain she would
coincide. Alas! I hadn’t skill to counteract the effect his account had
produced: it was just what he intended.

“You may be right, Ellen,” she answered; “but I shall never feel at
ease till I know. And I must tell Linton it is not my fault that I
don’t write, and convince him that I shall not change.”

What use were anger and protestations against her silly credulity? We
parted that night—hostile; but next day beheld me on the road to
Wuthering Heights, by the side of my wilful young mistress’s pony. I
couldn’t bear to witness her sorrow: to see her pale, dejected
countenance, and heavy eyes: and I yielded, in the faint hope that
Linton himself might prove, by his reception of us, how little of the
tale was founded on fact.



CHAPTER XXIII


The rainy night had ushered in a misty morning—half frost, half
drizzle—and temporary brooks crossed our path—gurgling from the
uplands. My feet were thoroughly wetted; I was cross and low; exactly
the humour suited for making the most of these disagreeable things. We
entered the farm-house by the kitchen way, to ascertain whether Mr.
Heathcliff were really absent: because I put slight faith in his own
affirmation.

Joseph seemed sitting in a sort of elysium alone, beside a roaring
fire; a quart of ale on the table near him, bristling with large pieces
of toasted oat-cake; and his black, short pipe in his mouth. Catherine
ran to the hearth to warm herself. I asked if the master was in? My
question remained so long unanswered, that I thought the old man had
grown deaf, and repeated it louder.

“Na—ay!” he snarled, or rather screamed through his nose. “Na—ay! yah
muh goa back whear yah coom frough.”

“Joseph!” cried a peevish voice, simultaneously with me, from the inner
room. “How often am I to call you? There are only a few red ashes now.
Joseph! come this moment.”

Vigorous puffs, and a resolute stare into the grate, declared he had no
ear for this appeal. The housekeeper and Hareton were invisible; one
gone on an errand, and the other at his work, probably. We knew
Linton’s tones, and entered.

“Oh, I hope you’ll die in a garret, starved to death!” said the boy,
mistaking our approach for that of his negligent attendant.

He stopped on observing his error: his cousin flew to him.

“Is that you, Miss Linton?” he said, raising his head from the arm of
the great chair, in which he reclined. “No—don’t kiss me: it takes my
breath. Dear me! Papa said you would call,” continued he, after
recovering a little from Catherine’s embrace; while she stood by
looking very contrite. “Will you shut the door, if you please? you left
it open; and those—those _detestable_ creatures won’t bring coals to
the fire. It’s so cold!”

I stirred up the cinders, and fetched a scuttleful myself. The invalid
complained of being covered with ashes; but he had a tiresome cough,
and looked feverish and ill, so I did not rebuke his temper.

“Well, Linton,” murmured Catherine, when his corrugated brow relaxed,
“are you glad to see me? Can I do you any good?”

“Why didn’t you come before?” he asked. “You should have come, instead
of writing. It tired me dreadfully writing those long letters. I’d far
rather have talked to you. Now, I can neither bear to talk, nor
anything else. I wonder where Zillah is! Will you” (looking at me)
“step into the kitchen and see?”

I had received no thanks for my other service; and being unwilling to
run to and fro at his behest, I replied—“Nobody is out there but
Joseph.”

“I want to drink,” he exclaimed fretfully, turning away. “Zillah is
constantly gadding off to Gimmerton since papa went: it’s miserable!
And I’m obliged to come down here—they resolved never to hear me
upstairs.”

“Is your father attentive to you, Master Heathcliff?” I asked,
perceiving Catherine to be checked in her friendly advances.

“Attentive? He makes them a little more attentive at least,” he cried.
“The wretches! Do you know, Miss Linton, that brute Hareton laughs at
me! I hate him! indeed, I hate them all: they are odious beings.”

Cathy began searching for some water; she lighted on a pitcher in the
dresser, filled a tumbler, and brought it. He bid her add a spoonful of
wine from a bottle on the table; and having swallowed a small portion,
appeared more tranquil, and said she was very kind.

“And are you glad to see me?” asked she, reiterating her former
question and pleased to detect the faint dawn of a smile.

“Yes, I am. It’s something new to hear a voice like yours!” he replied.
“But I have been vexed, because you wouldn’t come. And papa swore it
was owing to me: he called me a pitiful, shuffling, worthless thing;
and said you despised me; and if he had been in my place, he would be
more the master of the Grange than your father by this time. But you
don’t despise me, do you, Miss—?”

“I wish you would say Catherine, or Cathy,” interrupted my young lady.
“Despise you? No! Next to papa and Ellen, I love you better than
anybody living. I don’t love Mr. Heathcliff, though; and I dare not
come when he returns: will he stay away many days?”

“Not many,” answered Linton; “but he goes on to the moors frequently,
since the shooting season commenced; and you might spend an hour or two
with me in his absence. Do say you will. I think I should not be
peevish with you: you’d not provoke me, and you’d always be ready to
help me, wouldn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Catherine, stroking his long soft hair: “if I could only
get papa’s consent, I’d spend half my time with you. Pretty Linton! I
wish you were my brother.”

“And then you would like me as well as your father?” observed he, more
cheerfully. “But papa says you would love me better than him and all
the world, if you were my wife; so I’d rather you were that.”

“No, I should never love anybody better than papa,” she returned
gravely. “And people hate their wives, sometimes; but not their sisters
and brothers: and if you were the latter, you would live with us, and
papa would be as fond of you as he is of me.”

Linton denied that people ever hated their wives; but Cathy affirmed
they did, and, in her wisdom, instanced his own father’s aversion to
her aunt. I endeavoured to stop her thoughtless tongue. I couldn’t
succeed till everything she knew was out. Master Heathcliff, much
irritated, asserted her relation was false.

“Papa told me; and papa does not tell falsehoods,” she answered pertly.

“_My_ papa scorns yours!” cried Linton. “He calls him a sneaking fool.”

“Yours is a wicked man,” retorted Catherine; “and you are very naughty
to dare to repeat what he says. He must be wicked to have made Aunt
Isabella leave him as she did.”

“She didn’t leave him,” said the boy; “you sha’n’t contradict me.”

“She did,” cried my young lady.

“Well, I’ll tell you something!” said Linton. “Your mother hated your
father: now then.”

“Oh!” exclaimed Catherine, too enraged to continue.

“And she loved mine,” added he.

“You little liar! I hate you now!” she panted, and her face grew red
with passion.

“She did! she did!” sang Linton, sinking into the recess of his chair,
and leaning back his head to enjoy the agitation of the other
disputant, who stood behind.

“Hush, Master Heathcliff!” I said; “that’s your father’s tale, too, I
suppose.”

“It isn’t: you hold your tongue!” he answered. “She did, she did,
Catherine! she did, she did!”

Cathy, beside herself, gave the chair a violent push, and caused him to
fall against one arm. He was immediately seized by a suffocating cough
that soon ended his triumph. It lasted so long that it frightened even
me. As to his cousin, she wept with all her might, aghast at the
mischief she had done: though she said nothing. I held him till the fit
exhausted itself. Then he thrust me away, and leant his head down
silently. Catherine quelled her lamentations also, took a seat
opposite, and looked solemnly into the fire.

“How do you feel now, Master Heathcliff?” I inquired, after waiting ten
minutes.

“I wish _she_ felt as I do,” he replied: “spiteful, cruel thing!
Hareton never touches me: he never struck me in his life. And I was
better to-day: and there—” his voice died in a whimper.

“_I_ didn’t strike you!” muttered Cathy, chewing her lip to prevent
another burst of emotion.

He sighed and moaned like one under great suffering, and kept it up for
a quarter of an hour; on purpose to distress his cousin apparently, for
whenever he caught a stifled sob from her he put renewed pain and
pathos into the inflexions of his voice.

“I’m sorry I hurt you, Linton,” she said at length, racked beyond
endurance. “But I couldn’t have been hurt by that little push, and I
had no idea that you could, either: you’re not much, are you, Linton?
Don’t let me go home thinking I’ve done you harm. Answer! speak to me.”

“I can’t speak to you,” he murmured; “you’ve hurt me so that I shall
lie awake all night choking with this cough. If you had it you’d know
what it was; but _you’ll_ be comfortably asleep while I’m in agony, and
nobody near me. I wonder how you would like to pass those fearful
nights!” And he began to wail aloud, for very pity of himself.

“Since you are in the habit of passing dreadful nights,” I said, “it
won’t be Miss who spoils your ease: you’d be the same had she never
come. However, she shall not disturb you again; and perhaps you’ll get
quieter when we leave you.”

“Must I go?” asked Catherine dolefully, bending over him. “Do you want
me to go, Linton?”

“You can’t alter what you’ve done,” he replied pettishly, shrinking
from her, “unless you alter it for the worse by teasing me into a
fever.”

“Well, then, I must go?” she repeated.

“Let me alone, at least,” said he; “I can’t bear your talking.”

She lingered, and resisted my persuasions to departure a tiresome
while; but as he neither looked up nor spoke, she finally made a
movement to the door, and I followed. We were recalled by a scream.
Linton had slid from his seat on to the hearthstone, and lay writhing
in the mere perverseness of an indulged plague of a child, determined
to be as grievous and harassing as it can. I thoroughly gauged his
disposition from his behaviour, and saw at once it would be folly to
attempt humouring him. Not so my companion: she ran back in terror,
knelt down, and cried, and soothed, and entreated, till he grew quiet
from lack of breath: by no means from compunction at distressing her.

“I shall lift him on to the settle,” I said, “and he may roll about as
he pleases: we can’t stop to watch him. I hope you are satisfied, Miss
Cathy, that you are not the person to benefit him; and that his
condition of health is not occasioned by attachment to you. Now, then,
there he is! Come away: as soon as he knows there is nobody by to care
for his nonsense, he’ll be glad to lie still.”

She placed a cushion under his head, and offered him some water; he
rejected the latter, and tossed uneasily on the former, as if it were a
stone or a block of wood. She tried to put it more comfortably.

“I can’t do with that,” he said; “it’s not high enough.”

Catherine brought another to lay above it.

“That’s too high,” murmured the provoking thing.

“How must I arrange it, then?” she asked despairingly.

He twined himself up to her, as she half knelt by the settle, and
converted her shoulder into a support.

“No, that won’t do,” I said. “You’ll be content with the cushion,
Master Heathcliff. Miss has wasted too much time on you already: we
cannot remain five minutes longer.”

“Yes, yes, we can!” replied Cathy. “He’s good and patient now. He’s
beginning to think I shall have far greater misery than he will
to-night, if I believe he is the worse for my visit: and then I dare
not come again. Tell the truth about it, Linton; for I musn’t come, if
I have hurt you.”

“You must come, to cure me,” he answered. “You ought to come, because
you have hurt me: you know you have extremely! I was not as ill when
you entered as I am at present—was I?”

“But you’ve made yourself ill by crying and being in a passion.—I
didn’t do it all,” said his cousin. “However, we’ll be friends now. And
you want me: you would wish to see me sometimes, really?”

“I told you I did,” he replied impatiently. “Sit on the settle and let
me lean on your knee. That’s as mamma used to do, whole afternoons
together. Sit quite still and don’t talk: but you may sing a song, if
you can sing; or you may say a nice long interesting ballad—one of
those you promised to teach me; or a story. I’d rather have a ballad,
though: begin.”

Catherine repeated the longest she could remember. The employment
pleased both mightily. Linton would have another, and after that
another, notwithstanding my strenuous objections; and so they went on
until the clock struck twelve, and we heard Hareton in the court,
returning for his dinner.

“And to-morrow, Catherine, will you be here to-morrow?” asked young
Heathcliff, holding her frock as she rose reluctantly.

“No,” I answered, “nor next day neither.” She, however, gave a
different response evidently, for his forehead cleared as she stooped
and whispered in his ear.

“You won’t go to-morrow, recollect, Miss!” I commenced, when we were
out of the house. “You are not dreaming of it, are you?”

She smiled.

“Oh, I’ll take good care,” I continued: “I’ll have that lock mended,
and you can escape by no way else.”

“I can get over the wall,” she said laughing. “The Grange is not a
prison, Ellen, and you are not my gaoler. And besides, I’m almost
seventeen: I’m a woman. And I’m certain Linton would recover quickly if
he had me to look after him. I’m older than he is, you know, and wiser:
less childish, am I not? And he’ll soon do as I direct him, with some
slight coaxing. He’s a pretty little darling when he’s good. I’d make
such a pet of him, if he were mine. We should never quarrel, should we
after we were used to each other? Don’t you like him, Ellen?”

“Like him!” I exclaimed. “The worst-tempered bit of a sickly slip that
ever struggled into its teens. Happily, as Mr. Heathcliff conjectured,
he’ll not win twenty. I doubt whether he’ll see spring, indeed. And
small loss to his family whenever he drops off. And lucky it is for us
that his father took him: the kinder he was treated, the more tedious
and selfish he’d be. I’m glad you have no chance of having him for a
husband, Miss Catherine.”

My companion waxed serious at hearing this speech. To speak of his
death so regardlessly wounded her feelings.

“He’s younger than I,” she answered, after a protracted pause of
meditation, “and he ought to live the longest: he will—he must live as
long as I do. He’s as strong now as when he first came into the north;
I’m positive of that. It’s only a cold that ails him, the same as papa
has. You say papa will get better, and why shouldn’t he?”

“Well, well,” I cried, “after all, we needn’t trouble ourselves; for
listen, Miss,—and mind, I’ll keep my word,—if you attempt going to
Wuthering Heights again, with or without me, I shall inform Mr. Linton,
and, unless he allow it, the intimacy with your cousin must not be
revived.”

“It has been revived,” muttered Cathy, sulkily.

“Must not be continued, then,” I said.

“We’ll see,” was her reply, and she set off at a gallop, leaving me to
toil in the rear.

We both reached home before our dinner-time; my master supposed we had
been wandering through the park, and therefore he demanded no
explanation of our absence. As soon as I entered I hastened to change
my soaked shoes and stockings; but sitting such awhile at the Heights
had done the mischief. On the succeeding morning I was laid up, and
during three weeks I remained incapacitated for attending to my duties:
a calamity never experienced prior to that period, and never, I am
thankful to say, since.

My little mistress behaved like an angel in coming to wait on me, and
cheer my solitude; the confinement brought me exceedingly low. It is
wearisome, to a stirring active body: but few have slighter reasons for
complaint than I had. The moment Catherine left Mr. Linton’s room she
appeared at my bedside. Her day was divided between us; no amusement
usurped a minute: she neglected her meals, her studies, and her play;
and she was the fondest nurse that ever watched. She must have had a
warm heart, when she loved her father so, to give so much to me. I said
her days were divided between us; but the master retired early, and I
generally needed nothing after six o’clock, thus the evening was her
own. Poor thing! I never considered what she did with herself after
tea. And though frequently, when she looked in to bid me good-night, I
remarked a fresh colour in her cheeks and a pinkness over her slender
fingers, instead of fancying the line borrowed from a cold ride across
the moors, I laid it to the charge of a hot fire in the library.



CHAPTER XXIV


At the close of three weeks I was able to quit my chamber and move
about the house. And on the first occasion of my sitting up in the
evening I asked Catherine to read to me, because my eyes were weak. We
were in the library, the master having gone to bed: she consented,
rather unwillingly, I fancied; and imagining my sort of books did not
suit her, I bid her please herself in the choice of what she perused.
She selected one of her own favourites, and got forward steadily about
an hour; then came frequent questions.

“Ellen, are not you tired? Hadn’t you better lie down now? You’ll be
sick, keeping up so long, Ellen.”

“No, no, dear, I’m not tired,” I returned, continually.

Perceiving me immovable, she essayed another method of showing her
disrelish for her occupation. It changed to yawning, and stretching,
and—

“Ellen, I’m tired.”

“Give over then and talk,” I answered.

That was worse: she fretted and sighed, and looked at her watch till
eight, and finally went to her room, completely overdone with sleep;
judging by her peevish, heavy look, and the constant rubbing she
inflicted on her eyes. The following night she seemed more impatient
still; and on the third from recovering my company she complained of a
headache, and left me. I thought her conduct odd; and having remained
alone a long while, I resolved on going and inquiring whether she were
better, and asking her to come and lie on the sofa, instead of upstairs
in the dark. No Catherine could I discover upstairs, and none below.
The servants affirmed they had not seen her. I listened at Mr. Edgar’s
door; all was silence. I returned to her apartment, extinguished my
candle, and seated myself in the window.

The moon shone bright; a sprinkling of snow covered the ground, and I
reflected that she might, possibly, have taken it into her head to walk
about the garden, for refreshment. I did detect a figure creeping along
the inner fence of the park; but it was not my young mistress: on its
emerging into the light, I recognised one of the grooms. He stood a
considerable period, viewing the carriage-road through the grounds;
then started off at a brisk pace, as if he had detected something, and
reappeared presently, leading Miss’s pony; and there she was, just
dismounted, and walking by its side. The man took his charge stealthily
across the grass towards the stable. Cathy entered by the
casement-window of the drawing-room, and glided noiselessly up to where
I awaited her. She put the door gently too, slipped off her snowy
shoes, untied her hat, and was proceeding, unconscious of my espionage,
to lay aside her mantle, when I suddenly rose and revealed myself. The
surprise petrified her an instant: she uttered an inarticulate
exclamation, and stood fixed.

“My dear Miss Catherine,” I began, too vividly impressed by her recent
kindness to break into a scold, “where have you been riding out at this
hour? And why should you try to deceive me by telling a tale? Where
have you been? Speak!”

“To the bottom of the park,” she stammered. “I didn’t tell a tale.”

“And nowhere else?” I demanded.

“No,” was the muttered reply.

“Oh, Catherine!” I cried, sorrowfully. “You know you have been doing
wrong, or you wouldn’t be driven to uttering an untruth to me. That
does grieve me. I’d rather be three months ill, than hear you frame a
deliberate lie.”

She sprang forward, and bursting into tears, threw her arms round my
neck.

“Well, Ellen, I’m so afraid of you being angry,” she said. “Promise not
to be angry, and you shall know the very truth: I hate to hide it.”

We sat down in the window-seat; I assured her I would not scold,
whatever her secret might be, and I guessed it, of course; so she
commenced—

“I’ve been to Wuthering Heights, Ellen, and I’ve never missed going a
day since you fell ill; except thrice before, and twice after you left
your room. I gave Michael books and pictures to prepare Minny every
evening, and to put her back in the stable: you mustn’t scold him
either, mind. I was at the Heights by half-past six, and generally
stayed till half-past eight, and then galloped home. It was not to
amuse myself that I went: I was often wretched all the time. Now and
then I was happy: once in a week perhaps. At first, I expected there
would be sad work persuading you to let me keep my word to Linton: for
I had engaged to call again next day, when we quitted him; but, as you
stayed upstairs on the morrow, I escaped that trouble. While Michael
was refastening the lock of the park door in the afternoon, I got
possession of the key, and told him how my cousin wished me to visit
him, because he was sick, and couldn’t come to the Grange; and how papa
would object to my going: and then I negotiated with him about the
pony. He is fond of reading, and he thinks of leaving soon to get
married; so he offered, if I would lend him books out of the library,
to do what I wished: but I preferred giving him my own, and that
satisfied him better.

“On my second visit Linton seemed in lively spirits; and Zillah (that
is their housekeeper) made us a clean room and a good fire, and told us
that, as Joseph was out at a prayer-meeting and Hareton Earnshaw was
off with his dogs—robbing our woods of pheasants, as I heard
afterwards—we might do what we liked. She brought me some warm wine and
gingerbread, and appeared exceedingly good-natured, and Linton sat in
the arm-chair, and I in the little rocking chair on the hearth-stone,
and we laughed and talked so merrily, and found so much to say: we
planned where we would go, and what we would do in summer. I needn’t
repeat that, because you would call it silly.

“One time, however, we were near quarrelling. He said the pleasantest
manner of spending a hot July day was lying from morning till evening
on a bank of heath in the middle of the moors, with the bees humming
dreamily about among the bloom, and the larks singing high up overhead,
and the blue sky and bright sun shining steadily and cloudlessly. That
was his most perfect idea of heaven’s happiness: mine was rocking in a
rustling green tree, with a west wind blowing, and bright white clouds
flitting rapidly above; and not only larks, but throstles, and
blackbirds, and linnets, and cuckoos pouring out music on every side,
and the moors seen at a distance, broken into cool dusky dells; but
close by great swells of long grass undulating in waves to the breeze;
and woods and sounding water, and the whole world awake and wild with
joy. He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to
sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be
only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall
asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine, and began to
grow very snappish. At last, we agreed to try both, as soon as the
right weather came; and then we kissed each other and were friends.

“After sitting still an hour, I looked at the great room with its
smooth uncarpeted floor, and thought how nice it would be to play in,
if we removed the table; and I asked Linton to call Zillah in to help
us, and we’d have a game at blindman’s-buff; she should try to catch
us: you used to, you know, Ellen. He wouldn’t: there was no pleasure in
it, he said; but he consented to play at ball with me. We found two in
a cupboard, among a heap of old toys, tops, and hoops, and battledores
and shuttlecocks. One was marked C., and the other H.; I wished to have
the C., because that stood for Catherine, and the H. might be for
Heathcliff, his name; but the bran came out of H., and Linton didn’t
like it. I beat him constantly: and he got cross again, and coughed,
and returned to his chair. That night, though, he easily recovered his
good humour: he was charmed with two or three pretty songs—_your_
songs, Ellen; and when I was obliged to go, he begged and entreated me
to come the following evening; and I promised. Minny and I went flying
home as light as air; and I dreamt of Wuthering Heights and my sweet,
darling cousin, till morning.

“On the morrow I was sad; partly because you were poorly, and partly
that I wished my father knew, and approved of my excursions: but it was
beautiful moonlight after tea; and, as I rode on, the gloom cleared. I
shall have another happy evening, I thought to myself; and what
delights me more, my pretty Linton will. I trotted up their garden, and
was turning round to the back, when that fellow Earnshaw met me, took
my bridle, and bid me go in by the front entrance. He patted Minny’s
neck, and said she was a bonny beast, and appeared as if he wanted me
to speak to him. I only told him to leave my horse alone, or else it
would kick him. He answered in his vulgar accent, ‘It wouldn’t do mitch
hurt if it did;’ and surveyed its legs with a smile. I was half
inclined to make it try; however, he moved off to open the door, and,
as he raised the latch, he looked up to the inscription above, and
said, with a stupid mixture of awkwardness and elation: ‘Miss
Catherine! I can read yon, now.’

“‘Wonderful,’ I exclaimed. ‘Pray let us hear you—you _are_ grown
clever!’

“He spelt, and drawled over by syllables, the name—‘Hareton Earnshaw.’

“‘And the figures?’ I cried, encouragingly, perceiving that he came to
a dead halt.

“‘I cannot tell them yet,’ he answered.

“‘Oh, you dunce!’ I said, laughing heartily at his failure.

“The fool stared, with a grin hovering about his lips, and a scowl
gathering over his eyes, as if uncertain whether he might not join in
my mirth: whether it were not pleasant familiarity, or what it really
was, contempt. I settled his doubts, by suddenly retrieving my gravity
and desiring him to walk away, for I came to see Linton, not him. He
reddened—I saw that by the moonlight—dropped his hand from the latch,
and skulked off, a picture of mortified vanity. He imagined himself to
be as accomplished as Linton, I suppose, because he could spell his own
name; and was marvellously discomfited that I didn’t think the same.”

“Stop, Miss Catherine, dear!”—I interrupted. “I shall not scold, but I
don’t like your conduct there. If you had remembered that Hareton was
your cousin as much as Master Heathcliff, you would have felt how
improper it was to behave in that way. At least, it was praiseworthy
ambition for him to desire to be as accomplished as Linton; and
probably he did not learn merely to show off: you had made him ashamed
of his ignorance before, I have no doubt; and he wished to remedy it
and please you. To sneer at his imperfect attempt was very bad
breeding. Had you been brought up in his circumstances, would you be
less rude? He was as quick and as intelligent a child as ever you were;
and I’m hurt that he should be despised now, because that base
Heathcliff has treated him so unjustly.”

“Well, Ellen, you won’t cry about it, will you?” she exclaimed,
surprised at my earnestness. “But wait, and you shall hear if he conned
his A B C to please me; and if it were worth while being civil to the
brute. I entered; Linton was lying on the settle, and half got up to
welcome me.

“‘I’m ill to-night, Catherine, love,’ he said; ‘and you must have all
the talk, and let me listen. Come, and sit by me. I was sure you
wouldn’t break your word, and I’ll make you promise again, before you
go.’

“I knew now that I mustn’t tease him, as he was ill; and I spoke softly
and put no questions, and avoided irritating him in any way. I had
brought some of my nicest books for him: he asked me to read a little
of one, and I was about to comply, when Earnshaw burst the door open:
having gathered venom with reflection. He advanced direct to us, seized
Linton by the arm, and swung him off the seat.

“‘Get to thy own room!’ he said, in a voice almost inarticulate with
passion; and his face looked swelled and furious. ‘Take her there if
she comes to see thee: thou shalln’t keep me out of this. Begone wi’ ye
both!’

“He swore at us, and left Linton no time to answer, nearly throwing him
into the kitchen; and he clenched his fist as I followed, seemingly
longing to knock me down. I was afraid for a moment, and I let one
volume fall; he kicked it after me, and shut us out. I heard a
malignant, crackly laugh by the fire, and turning, beheld that odious
Joseph standing rubbing his bony hands, and quivering.

“‘I wer sure he’d sarve ye out! He’s a grand lad! He’s getten t’ raight
sperrit in him! _He_ knaws—ay, he knaws, as weel as I do, who sud be t’
maister yonder—Ech, ech, ech! He made ye skift properly! Ech, ech,
ech!’

“‘Where must we go?’ I asked of my cousin, disregarding the old
wretch’s mockery.

“Linton was white and trembling. He was not pretty then, Ellen: oh, no!
he looked frightful; for his thin face and large eyes were wrought into
an expression of frantic, powerless fury. He grasped the handle of the
door, and shook it: it was fastened inside.

“‘If you don’t let me in, I’ll kill you!—If you don’t let me in, I’ll
kill you!’ he rather shrieked than said. ‘Devil! devil!—I’ll kill
you—I’ll kill you!’

Joseph uttered his croaking laugh again.

“‘Thear, that’s t’ father!’ he cried. ‘That’s father! We’ve allas
summut o’ either side in us. Niver heed, Hareton, lad—dunnut be
’feard—he cannot get at thee!’

“I took hold of Linton’s hands, and tried to pull him away; but he
shrieked so shockingly that I dared not proceed. At last his cries were
choked by a dreadful fit of coughing; blood gushed from his mouth, and
he fell on the ground. I ran into the yard, sick with terror; and
called for Zillah, as loud as I could. She soon heard me: she was
milking the cows in a shed behind the barn, and hurrying from her work,
she inquired what there was to do? I hadn’t breath to explain; dragging
her in, I looked about for Linton. Earnshaw had come out to examine the
mischief he had caused, and he was then conveying the poor thing
upstairs. Zillah and I ascended after him; but he stopped me at the top
of the steps, and said I shouldn’t go in: I must go home. I exclaimed
that he had killed Linton, and I _would_ enter. Joseph locked the door,
and declared I should do ‘no sich stuff,’ and asked me whether I were
‘bahn to be as mad as him.’ I stood crying till the housekeeper
reappeared. She affirmed he would be better in a bit, but he couldn’t
do with that shrieking and din; and she took me, and nearly carried me
into the house.

“Ellen, I was ready to tear my hair off my head! I sobbed and wept so
that my eyes were almost blind; and the ruffian you have such sympathy
with stood opposite: presuming every now and then to bid me ‘wisht,’
and denying that it was his fault; and, finally, frightened by my
assertions that I would tell papa, and that he should be put in prison
and hanged, he commenced blubbering himself, and hurried out to hide
his cowardly agitation. Still, I was not rid of him: when at length
they compelled me to depart, and I had got some hundred yards off the
premises, he suddenly issued from the shadow of the road-side, and
checked Minny and took hold of me.

“‘Miss Catherine, I’m ill grieved,’ he began, ‘but it’s rayther too
bad—’

“I gave him a cut with my whip, thinking perhaps he would murder me. He
let go, thundering one of his horrid curses, and I galloped home more
than half out of my senses.

“I didn’t bid you good-night that evening, and I didn’t go to Wuthering
Heights the next: I wished to go exceedingly; but I was strangely
excited, and dreaded to hear that Linton was dead, sometimes; and
sometimes shuddered at the thought of encountering Hareton. On the
third day I took courage: at least, I couldn’t bear longer suspense,
and stole off once more. I went at five o’clock, and walked; fancying I
might manage to creep into the house, and up to Linton’s room,
unobserved. However, the dogs gave notice of my approach. Zillah
received me, and saying ‘the lad was mending nicely,’ showed me into a
small, tidy, carpeted apartment, where, to my inexpressible joy, I
beheld Linton laid on a little sofa, reading one of my books. But he
would neither speak to me nor look at me, through a whole hour, Ellen:
he has such an unhappy temper. And what quite confounded me, when he
did open his mouth, it was to utter the falsehood that I had occasioned
the uproar, and Hareton was not to blame! Unable to reply, except
passionately, I got up and walked from the room. He sent after me a
faint ‘Catherine!’ He did not reckon on being answered so: but I
wouldn’t turn back; and the morrow was the second day on which I stayed
at home, nearly determined to visit him no more. But it was so
miserable going to bed and getting up, and never hearing anything about
him, that my resolution melted into air before it was properly formed.
It had appeared wrong to take the journey once; now it seemed wrong to
refrain. Michael came to ask if he must saddle Minny; I said ‘Yes,’ and
considered myself doing a duty as she bore me over the hills. I was
forced to pass the front windows to get to the court: it was no use
trying to conceal my presence.

“‘Young master is in the house,’ said Zillah, as she saw me making for
the parlour. I went in; Earnshaw was there also, but he quitted the
room directly. Linton sat in the great arm-chair half asleep; walking
up to the fire, I began in a serious tone, partly meaning it to be
true—

“‘As you don’t like me, Linton, and as you think I come on purpose to
hurt you, and pretend that I do so every time, this is our last
meeting: let us say good-bye; and tell Mr. Heathcliff that you have no
wish to see me, and that he mustn’t invent any more falsehoods on the
subject.’

“‘Sit down and take your hat off, Catherine,’ he answered. ‘You are so
much happier than I am, you ought to be better. Papa talks enough of my
defects, and shows enough scorn of me, to make it natural I should
doubt myself. I doubt whether I am not altogether as worthless as he
calls me, frequently; and then I feel so cross and bitter, I hate
everybody! I am worthless, and bad in temper, and bad in spirit, almost
always; and, if you choose, you may say good-bye: you’ll get rid of an
annoyance. Only, Catherine, do me this justice: believe that if I might
be as sweet, and as kind, and as good as you are, I would be; as
willingly, and more so, than as happy and as healthy. And believe that
your kindness has made me love you deeper than if I deserved your love:
and though I couldn’t, and cannot help showing my nature to you, I
regret it and repent it; and shall regret and repent it till I die!’

“I felt he spoke the truth; and I felt I must forgive him: and, though
we should quarrel the next moment, I must forgive him again. We were
reconciled; but we cried, both of us, the whole time I stayed: not
entirely for sorrow; yet I _was_ sorry Linton had that distorted
nature. He’ll never let his friends be at ease, and he’ll never be at
ease himself! I have always gone to his little parlour, since that
night; because his father returned the day after.

“About three times, I think, we have been merry and hopeful, as we were
the first evening; the rest of my visits were dreary and troubled: now
with his selfishness and spite, and now with his sufferings: but I’ve
learned to endure the former with nearly as little resentment as the
latter. Mr. Heathcliff purposely avoids me: I have hardly seen him at
all. Last Sunday, indeed, coming earlier than usual, I heard him
abusing poor Linton cruelly for his conduct of the night before. I
can’t tell how he knew of it, unless he listened. Linton had certainly
behaved provokingly: however, it was the business of nobody but me, and
I interrupted Mr. Heathcliff’s lecture by entering and telling him so.
He burst into a laugh, and went away, saying he was glad I took that
view of the matter. Since then, I’ve told Linton he must whisper his
bitter things. Now, Ellen, you have heard all. I can’t be prevented
from going to Wuthering Heights, except by inflicting misery on two
people; whereas, if you’ll only not tell papa, my going need disturb
the tranquillity of none. You’ll not tell, will you? It will be very
heartless, if you do.”

“I’ll make up my mind on that point by to-morrow, Miss Catherine,” I
replied. “It requires some study; and so I’ll leave you to your rest,
and go think it over.”

I thought it over aloud, in my master’s presence; walking straight from
her room to his, and relating the whole story: with the exception of
her conversations with her cousin, and any mention of Hareton. Mr.
Linton was alarmed and distressed, more than he would acknowledge to
me. In the morning, Catherine learnt my betrayal of her confidence, and
she learnt also that her secret visits were to end. In vain she wept
and writhed against the interdict, and implored her father to have pity
on Linton: all she got to comfort her was a promise that he would write
and give him leave to come to the Grange when he pleased; but
explaining that he must no longer expect to see Catherine at Wuthering
Heights. Perhaps, had he been aware of his nephew’s disposition and
state of health, he would have seen fit to withhold even that slight
consolation.



CHAPTER XXV


“These things happened last winter, sir,” said Mrs. Dean; “hardly more
than a year ago. Last winter, I did not think, at another twelve
months’ end, I should be amusing a stranger to the family with relating
them! Yet, who knows how long you’ll be a stranger? You’re too young to
rest always contented, living by yourself; and I some way fancy no one
could see Catherine Linton and not love her. You smile; but why do you
look so lively and interested when I talk about her? and why have you
asked me to hang her picture over your fireplace? and why—?”

“Stop, my good friend!” I cried. “It may be very possible that _I_
should love her; but would she love me? I doubt it too much to venture
my tranquillity by running into temptation: and then my home is not
here. I’m of the busy world, and to its arms I must return. Go on. Was
Catherine obedient to her father’s commands?”

“She was,” continued the housekeeper. “Her affection for him was still
the chief sentiment in her heart; and he spoke without anger: he spoke
in the deep tenderness of one about to leave his treasure amid perils
and foes, where his remembered words would be the only aid that he
could bequeath to guide her. He said to me, a few days afterwards, ‘I
wish my nephew would write, Ellen, or call. Tell me, sincerely, what
you think of him: is he changed for the better, or is there a prospect
of improvement, as he grows a man?’

“‘He’s very delicate, sir,’ I replied; ‘and scarcely likely to reach
manhood: but this I can say, he does not resemble his father; and if
Miss Catherine had the misfortune to marry him, he would not be beyond
her control: unless she were extremely and foolishly indulgent.
However, master, you’ll have plenty of time to get acquainted with him
and see whether he would suit her: it wants four years and more to his
being of age.’”

Edgar sighed; and, walking to the window, looked out towards Gimmerton
Kirk. It was a misty afternoon, but the February sun shone dimly, and
we could just distinguish the two fir-trees in the yard, and the
sparely-scattered gravestones.

“I’ve prayed often,” he half soliloquised, “for the approach of what is
coming; and now I begin to shrink, and fear it. I thought the memory of
the hour I came down that glen a bridegroom would be less sweet than
the anticipation that I was soon, in a few months, or, possibly, weeks,
to be carried up, and laid in its lonely hollow! Ellen, I’ve been very
happy with my little Cathy: through winter nights and summer days she
was a living hope at my side. But I’ve been as happy musing by myself
among those stones, under that old church: lying, through the long June
evenings, on the green mound of her mother’s grave, and
wishing—yearning for the time when I might lie beneath it. What can I
do for Cathy? How must I quit her? I’d not care one moment for Linton
being Heathcliff’s son; nor for his taking her from me, if he could
console her for my loss. I’d not care that Heathcliff gained his ends,
and triumphed in robbing me of my last blessing! But should Linton be
unworthy—only a feeble tool to his father—I cannot abandon her to him!
And, hard though it be to crush her buoyant spirit, I must persevere in
making her sad while I live, and leaving her solitary when I die.
Darling! I’d rather resign her to God, and lay her in the earth before
me.”

“Resign her to God as it is, sir,” I answered, “and if we should lose
you—which may He forbid—under His providence, I’ll stand her friend and
counsellor to the last. Miss Catherine is a good girl: I don’t fear
that she will go wilfully wrong; and people who do their duty are
always finally rewarded.”

Spring advanced; yet my master gathered no real strength, though he
resumed his walks in the grounds with his daughter. To her
inexperienced notions, this itself was a sign of convalescence; and
then his cheek was often flushed, and his eyes were bright; she felt
sure of his recovering. On her seventeenth birthday, he did not visit
the churchyard: it was raining, and I observed—“You’ll surely not go
out to-night, sir?”

He answered,—“No, I’ll defer it this year a little longer.” He wrote
again to Linton, expressing his great desire to see him; and, had the
invalid been presentable, I’ve no doubt his father would have permitted
him to come. As it was, being instructed, he returned an answer,
intimating that Mr. Heathcliff objected to his calling at the Grange;
but his uncle’s kind remembrance delighted him, and he hoped to meet
him sometimes in his rambles, and personally to petition that his
cousin and he might not remain long so utterly divided.

That part of his letter was simple, and probably his own. Heathcliff
knew he could plead eloquently for Catherine’s company, then.

“I do not ask,” he said, “that she may visit here; but am I never to
see her, because my father forbids me to go to her home, and you forbid
her to come to mine? Do, now and then, ride with her towards the
Heights; and let us exchange a few words, in your presence! We have
done nothing to deserve this separation; and you are not angry with me:
you have no reason to dislike me, you allow, yourself. Dear uncle! send
me a kind note to-morrow, and leave to join you anywhere you please,
except at Thrushcross Grange. I believe an interview would convince you
that my father’s character is not mine: he affirms I am more your
nephew than his son; and though I have faults which render me unworthy
of Catherine, she has excused them, and for her sake, you should also.
You inquire after my health—it is better; but while I remain cut off
from all hope, and doomed to solitude, or the society of those who
never did and never will like me, how can I be cheerful and well?”

Edgar, though he felt for the boy, could not consent to grant his
request; because he could not accompany Catherine. He said, in summer,
perhaps, they might meet: meantime, he wished him to continue writing
at intervals, and engaged to give him what advice and comfort he was
able by letter; being well aware of his hard position in his family.
Linton complied; and had he been unrestrained, would probably have
spoiled all by filling his epistles with complaints and lamentations:
but his father kept a sharp watch over him; and, of course, insisted on
every line that my master sent being shown; so, instead of penning his
peculiar personal sufferings and distresses, the themes constantly
uppermost in his thoughts, he harped on the cruel obligation of being
held asunder from his friend and love; and gently intimated that Mr.
Linton must allow an interview soon, or he should fear he was purposely
deceiving him with empty promises.

Cathy was a powerful ally at home; and between them they at length
persuaded my master to acquiesce in their having a ride or a walk
together about once a week, under my guardianship, and on the moors
nearest the Grange: for June found him still declining. Though he had
set aside yearly a portion of his income for my young lady’s fortune,
he had a natural desire that she might retain—or at least return in a
short time to—the house of her ancestors; and he considered her only
prospect of doing that was by a union with his heir; he had no idea
that the latter was failing almost as fast as himself; nor had any one,
I believe: no doctor visited the Heights, and no one saw Master
Heathcliff to make report of his condition among us. I, for my part,
began to fancy my forebodings were false, and that he must be actually
rallying, when he mentioned riding and walking on the moors, and seemed
so earnest in pursuing his object. I could not picture a father
treating a dying child as tyrannically and wickedly as I afterwards
learned Heathcliff had treated him, to compel this apparent eagerness:
his efforts redoubling the more imminently his avaricious and unfeeling
plans were threatened with defeat by death.



CHAPTER XXVI


Summer was already past its prime, when Edgar reluctantly yielded his
assent to their entreaties, and Catherine and I set out on our first
ride to join her cousin. It was a close, sultry day: devoid of
sunshine, but with a sky too dappled and hazy to threaten rain: and our
place of meeting had been fixed at the guide-stone, by the cross-roads.
On arriving there, however, a little herd-boy, despatched as a
messenger, told us that,—“Maister Linton wer just o’ this side th’
Heights: and he’d be mitch obleeged to us to gang on a bit further.”

“Then Master Linton has forgot the first injunction of his uncle,” I
observed: “he bid us keep on the Grange land, and here we are off at
once.”

“Well, we’ll turn our horses’ heads round when we reach him,” answered
my companion; “our excursion shall lie towards home.”

But when we reached him, and that was scarcely a quarter of a mile from
his own door, we found he had no horse; and we were forced to dismount,
and leave ours to graze. He lay on the heath, awaiting our approach,
and did not rise till we came within a few yards. Then he walked so
feebly, and looked so pale, that I immediately exclaimed,—“Why, Master
Heathcliff, you are not fit for enjoying a ramble this morning. How ill
you do look!”

Catherine surveyed him with grief and astonishment: she changed the
ejaculation of joy on her lips to one of alarm; and the congratulation
on their long-postponed meeting to an anxious inquiry, whether he were
worse than usual?

“No—better—better!” he panted, trembling, and retaining her hand as if
he needed its support, while his large blue eyes wandered timidly over
her; the hollowness round them transforming to haggard wildness the
languid expression they once possessed.

“But you have been worse,” persisted his cousin; “worse than when I saw
you last; you are thinner, and—”

“I’m tired,” he interrupted, hurriedly. “It is too hot for walking, let
us rest here. And, in the morning, I often feel sick—papa says I grow
so fast.”

Badly satisfied, Cathy sat down, and he reclined beside her.

“This is something like your paradise,” said she, making an effort at
cheerfulness. “You recollect the two days we agreed to spend in the
place and way each thought pleasantest? This is nearly yours, only
there are clouds; but then they are so soft and mellow: it is nicer
than sunshine. Next week, if you can, we’ll ride down to the Grange
Park, and try mine.”

Linton did not appear to remember what she talked of and he had
evidently great difficulty in sustaining any kind of conversation. His
lack of interest in the subjects she started, and his equal incapacity
to contribute to her entertainment, were so obvious that she could not
conceal her disappointment. An indefinite alteration had come over his
whole person and manner. The pettishness that might be caressed into
fondness, had yielded to a listless apathy; there was less of the
peevish temper of a child which frets and teases on purpose to be
soothed, and more of the self-absorbed moroseness of a confirmed
invalid, repelling consolation, and ready to regard the good-humoured
mirth of others as an insult. Catherine perceived, as well as I did,
that he held it rather a punishment, than a gratification, to endure
our company; and she made no scruple of proposing, presently, to
depart. That proposal, unexpectedly, roused Linton from his lethargy,
and threw him into a strange state of agitation. He glanced fearfully
towards the Heights, begging she would remain another half-hour, at
least.

“But I think,” said Cathy, “you’d be more comfortable at home than
sitting here; and I cannot amuse you to-day, I see, by my tales, and
songs, and chatter: you have grown wiser than I, in these six months;
you have little taste for my diversions now: or else, if I could amuse
you, I’d willingly stay.”

“Stay to rest yourself,” he replied. “And, Catherine, don’t think or
say that I’m _very_ unwell: it is the heavy weather and heat that make
me dull; and I walked about, before you came, a great deal for me. Tell
uncle I’m in tolerable health, will you?”

“I’ll tell him that _you_ say so, Linton. I couldn’t affirm that you
are,” observed my young lady, wondering at his pertinacious assertion
of what was evidently an untruth.

“And be here again next Thursday,” continued he, shunning her puzzled
gaze. “And give him my thanks for permitting you to come—my best
thanks, Catherine. And—and, if you _did_ meet my father, and he asked
you about me, don’t lead him to suppose that I’ve been extremely silent
and stupid: don’t look sad and downcast, as you are doing—he’ll be
angry.”

“I care nothing for his anger,” exclaimed Cathy, imagining she would be
its object.

“But I do,” said her cousin, shuddering. “_Don’t_ provoke him against
me, Catherine, for he is very hard.”

“Is he severe to you, Master Heathcliff?” I inquired. “Has he grown
weary of indulgence, and passed from passive to active hatred?”

Linton looked at me, but did not answer; and, after keeping her seat by
his side another ten minutes, during which his head fell drowsily on
his breast, and he uttered nothing except suppressed moans of
exhaustion or pain, Cathy began to seek solace in looking for
bilberries, and sharing the produce of her researches with me: she did
not offer them to him, for she saw further notice would only weary and
annoy.

“Is it half-an-hour now, Ellen?” she whispered in my ear, at last. “I
can’t tell why we should stay. He’s asleep, and papa will be wanting us
back.”

“Well, we must not leave him asleep,” I answered; “wait till he wakes,
and be patient. You were mighty eager to set off, but your longing to
see poor Linton has soon evaporated!”

“Why did _he_ wish to see me?” returned Catherine. “In his crossest
humours, formerly, I liked him better than I do in his present curious
mood. It’s just as if it were a task he was compelled to perform—this
interview—for fear his father should scold him. But I’m hardly going to
come to give Mr. Heathcliff pleasure; whatever reason he may have for
ordering Linton to undergo this penance. And, though I’m glad he’s
better in health, I’m sorry he’s so much less pleasant, and so much
less affectionate to me.”

“You think _he is_ better in health, then?” I said.

“Yes,” she answered; “because he always made such a great deal of his
sufferings, you know. He is not tolerably well, as he told me to tell
papa; but he’s better, very likely.”

“There you differ with me, Miss Cathy,” I remarked; “I should
conjecture him to be far worse.”

Linton here started from his slumber in bewildered terror, and asked if
any one had called his name.

“No,” said Catherine; “unless in dreams. I cannot conceive how you
manage to doze out of doors, in the morning.”

“I thought I heard my father,” he gasped, glancing up to the frowning
nab above us. “You are sure nobody spoke?”

“Quite sure,” replied his cousin. “Only Ellen and I were disputing
concerning your health. Are you truly stronger, Linton, than when we
separated in winter? If you be, I’m certain one thing is not
stronger—your regard for me: speak,—are you?”

The tears gushed from Linton’s eyes as he answered, “Yes, yes, I am!”
And, still under the spell of the imaginary voice, his gaze wandered up
and down to detect its owner.

Cathy rose. “For to-day we must part,” she said. “And I won’t conceal
that I have been sadly disappointed with our meeting; though I’ll
mention it to nobody but you: not that I stand in awe of Mr.
Heathcliff.”

“Hush,” murmured Linton; “for God’s sake, hush! He’s coming.” And he
clung to Catherine’s arm, striving to detain her; but at that
announcement she hastily disengaged herself, and whistled to Minny, who
obeyed her like a dog.

“I’ll be here next Thursday,” she cried, springing to the saddle.
“Good-bye. Quick, Ellen!”

And so we left him, scarcely conscious of our departure, so absorbed
was he in anticipating his father’s approach.

Before we reached home, Catherine’s displeasure softened into a
perplexed sensation of pity and regret, largely blended with vague,
uneasy doubts about Linton’s actual circumstances, physical and social:
in which I partook, though I counselled her not to say much; for a
second journey would make us better judges. My master requested an
account of our ongoings. His nephew’s offering of thanks was duly
delivered, Miss Cathy gently touching on the rest: I also threw little
light on his inquiries, for I hardly knew what to hide and what to
reveal.



CHAPTER XXVII


Seven days glided away, every one marking its course by the henceforth
rapid alteration of Edgar Linton’s state. The havoc that months had
previously wrought was now emulated by the inroads of hours. Catherine
we would fain have deluded yet; but her own quick spirit refused to
delude her: it divined in secret, and brooded on the dreadful
probability, gradually ripening into certainty. She had not the heart
to mention her ride, when Thursday came round; I mentioned it for her,
and obtained permission to order her out of doors: for the library,
where her father stopped a short time daily—the brief period he could
bear to sit up—and his chamber, had become her whole world. She grudged
each moment that did not find her bending over his pillow, or seated by
his side. Her countenance grew wan with watching and sorrow, and my
master gladly dismissed her to what he flattered himself would be a
happy change of scene and society; drawing comfort from the hope that
she would not now be left entirely alone after his death.

He had a fixed idea, I guessed by several observations he let fall,
that, as his nephew resembled him in person, he would resemble him in
mind; for Linton’s letters bore few or no indications of his defective
character. And I, through pardonable weakness, refrained from
correcting the error; asking myself what good there would be in
disturbing his last moments with information that he had neither power
nor opportunity to turn to account.

We deferred our excursion till the afternoon; a golden afternoon of
August: every breath from the hills so full of life, that it seemed
whoever respired it, though dying, might revive. Catherine’s face was
just like the landscape—shadows and sunshine flitting over it in rapid
succession; but the shadows rested longer, and the sunshine was more
transient; and her poor little heart reproached itself for even that
passing forgetfulness of its cares.

We discerned Linton watching at the same spot he had selected before.
My young mistress alighted, and told me that, as she was resolved to
stay a very little while, I had better hold the pony and remain on
horseback; but I dissented: I wouldn’t risk losing sight of the charge
committed to me a minute; so we climbed the slope of heath together.
Master Heathcliff received us with greater animation on this occasion:
not the animation of high spirits though, nor yet of joy; it looked
more like fear.

“It is late!” he said, speaking short and with difficulty. “Is not your
father very ill? I thought you wouldn’t come.”

“_Why_ won’t you be candid?” cried Catherine, swallowing her greeting.
“Why cannot you say at once you don’t want me? It is strange, Linton,
that for the second time you have brought me here on purpose,
apparently to distress us both, and for no reason besides!”

Linton shivered, and glanced at her, half supplicating, half ashamed;
but his cousin’s patience was not sufficient to endure this enigmatical
behaviour.

“My father _is_ very ill,” she said; “and why am I called from his
bedside? Why didn’t you send to absolve me from my promise, when you
wished I wouldn’t keep it? Come! I desire an explanation: playing and
trifling are completely banished out of my mind; and I can’t dance
attendance on your affectations now!”

“My affectations!” he murmured; “what are they? For heaven’s sake,
Catherine, don’t look so angry! Despise me as much as you please; I am
a worthless, cowardly wretch: I can’t be scorned enough; but I’m too
mean for your anger. Hate my father, and spare me for contempt.”

“Nonsense!” cried Catherine in a passion. “Foolish, silly boy! And
there! he trembles: as if I were really going to touch him! You needn’t
bespeak contempt, Linton: anybody will have it spontaneously at your
service. Get off! I shall return home: it is folly dragging you from
the hearth-stone, and pretending—what do we pretend? Let go my frock!
If I pitied you for crying and looking so very frightened, you should
spurn such pity. Ellen, tell him how disgraceful this conduct is. Rise,
and don’t degrade yourself into an abject reptile—_don’t_!”

With streaming face and an expression of agony, Linton had thrown his
nerveless frame along the ground: he seemed convulsed with exquisite
terror.

“Oh!” he sobbed, “I cannot bear it! Catherine, Catherine, I’m a
traitor, too, and I dare not tell you! But leave me, and I shall be
killed! _Dear_ Catherine, my life is in your hands: and you have said
you loved me, and if you did, it wouldn’t harm you. You’ll not go,
then? kind, sweet, good Catherine! And perhaps you _will_ consent—and
he’ll let me die with you!”

My young lady, on witnessing his intense anguish, stooped to raise him.
The old feeling of indulgent tenderness overcame her vexation, and she
grew thoroughly moved and alarmed.

“Consent to what?” she asked. “To stay! tell me the meaning of this
strange talk, and I will. You contradict your own words, and distract
me! Be calm and frank, and confess at once all that weighs on your
heart. You wouldn’t injure me, Linton, would you? You wouldn’t let any
enemy hurt me, if you could prevent it? I’ll believe you are a coward,
for yourself, but not a cowardly betrayer of your best friend.”

“But my father threatened me,” gasped the boy, clasping his attenuated
fingers, “and I dread him—I dread him! I _dare_ not tell!”

“Oh, well!” said Catherine, with scornful compassion, “keep your
secret: _I’m_ no coward. Save yourself: I’m not afraid!”

Her magnanimity provoked his tears: he wept wildly, kissing her
supporting hands, and yet could not summon courage to speak out. I was
cogitating what the mystery might be, and determined Catherine should
never suffer to benefit him or any one else, by my good will; when,
hearing a rustle among the ling, I looked up and saw Mr. Heathcliff
almost close upon us, descending the Heights. He didn’t cast a glance
towards my companions, though they were sufficiently near for Linton’s
sobs to be audible; but hailing me in the almost hearty tone he assumed
to none besides, and the sincerity of which I couldn’t avoid doubting,
he said—

“It is something to see you so near to my house, Nelly. How are you at
the Grange? Let us hear. The rumour goes,” he added, in a lower tone,
“that Edgar Linton is on his death-bed: perhaps they exaggerate his
illness?”

“No; my master is dying,” I replied: “it is true enough. A sad thing it
will be for us all, but a blessing for him!”

“How long will he last, do you think?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Because,” he continued, looking at the two young people, who were
fixed under his eye—Linton appeared as if he could not venture to stir
or raise his head, and Catherine could not move, on his
account—“because that lad yonder seems determined to beat me; and I’d
thank his uncle to be quick, and go before him! Hallo! has the whelp
been playing that game long? I _did_ give him some lessons about
snivelling. Is he pretty lively with Miss Linton generally?”

“Lively? no—he has shown the greatest distress,” I answered. “To see
him, I should say, that instead of rambling with his sweetheart on the
hills, he ought to be in bed, under the hands of a doctor.”

“He shall be, in a day or two,” muttered Heathcliff. “But first—get up,
Linton! Get up!” he shouted. “Don’t grovel on the ground there up, this
moment!”

Linton had sunk prostrate again in another paroxysm of helpless fear,
caused by his father’s glance towards him, I suppose: there was nothing
else to produce such humiliation. He made several efforts to obey, but
his little strength was annihilated for the time, and he fell back
again with a moan. Mr. Heathcliff advanced, and lifted him to lean
against a ridge of turf.

“Now,” said he, with curbed ferocity, “I’m getting angry and if you
don’t command that paltry spirit of yours—_damn_ you! get up directly!”

“I will, father,” he panted. “Only, let me alone, or I shall faint.
I’ve done as you wished, I’m sure. Catherine will tell you that I—that
I—have been cheerful. Ah! keep by me, Catherine; give me your hand.”

“Take mine,” said his father; “stand on your feet. There now—she’ll
lend you her arm: that’s right, look at her. You would imagine I was
the devil himself, Miss Linton, to excite such horror. Be so kind as to
walk home with him, will you? He shudders if I touch him.”

“Linton dear!” whispered Catherine, “I can’t go to Wuthering Heights:
papa has forbidden me. He’ll not harm you: why are you so afraid?”

“I can never re-enter that house,” he answered. “I’m _not_ to re-enter
it without you!”

“Stop!” cried his father. “We’ll respect Catherine’s filial scruples.
Nelly, take him in, and I’ll follow your advice concerning the doctor,
without delay.”

“You’ll do well,” replied I. “But I must remain with my mistress: to
mind your son is not my business.”

“You are very stiff,” said Heathcliff, “I know that: but you’ll force
me to pinch the baby and make it scream before it moves your charity.
Come, then, my hero. Are you willing to return, escorted by me?”

He approached once more, and made as if he would seize the fragile
being; but, shrinking back, Linton clung to his cousin, and implored
her to accompany him, with a frantic importunity that admitted no
denial. However I disapproved, I couldn’t hinder her: indeed, how could
she have refused him herself? What was filling him with dread we had no
means of discerning; but there he was, powerless under its grip, and
any addition seemed capable of shocking him into idiocy. We reached the
threshold; Catherine walked in, and I stood waiting till she had
conducted the invalid to a chair, expecting her out immediately; when
Mr. Heathcliff, pushing me forward, exclaimed—“My house is not stricken
with the plague, Nelly; and I have a mind to be hospitable to-day: sit
down, and allow me to shut the door.”

He shut and locked it also. I started.

“You shall have tea before you go home,” he added. “I am by myself.
Hareton is gone with some cattle to the Lees, and Zillah and Joseph are
off on a journey of pleasure; and, though I’m used to being alone, I’d
rather have some interesting company, if I can get it. Miss Linton,
take your seat by _him_. I give you what I have: the present is hardly
worth accepting; but I have nothing else to offer. It is Linton, I
mean. How she does stare! It’s odd what a savage feeling I have to
anything that seems afraid of me! Had I been born where laws are less
strict and tastes less dainty, I should treat myself to a slow
vivisection of those two, as an evening’s amusement.”

He drew in his breath, struck the table, and swore to himself, “By
hell! I hate them.”

“I am not afraid of you!” exclaimed Catherine, who could not hear the
latter part of his speech. She stepped close up; her black eyes
flashing with passion and resolution. “Give me that key: I will have
it!” she said. “I wouldn’t eat or drink here, if I were starving.”

Heathcliff had the key in his hand that remained on the table. He
looked up, seized with a sort of surprise at her boldness; or,
possibly, reminded, by her voice and glance, of the person from whom
she inherited it. She snatched at the instrument, and half succeeded in
getting it out of his loosened fingers: but her action recalled him to
the present; he recovered it speedily.

“Now, Catherine Linton,” he said, “stand off, or I shall knock you
down; and, that will make Mrs. Dean mad.”

Regardless of this warning, she captured his closed hand and its
contents again. “We _will_ go!” she repeated, exerting her utmost
efforts to cause the iron muscles to relax; and finding that her nails
made no impression, she applied her teeth pretty sharply. Heathcliff
glanced at me a glance that kept me from interfering a moment.
Catherine was too intent on his fingers to notice his face. He opened
them suddenly, and resigned the object of dispute; but, ere she had
well secured it, he seized her with the liberated hand, and, pulling
her on his knee, administered with the other a shower of terrific slaps
on both sides of the head, each sufficient to have fulfilled his
threat, had she been able to fall.

At this diabolical violence I rushed on him furiously. “You villain!” I
began to cry, “you villain!” A touch on the chest silenced me: I am
stout, and soon put out of breath; and, what with that and the rage, I
staggered dizzily back and felt ready to suffocate, or to burst a
blood-vessel. The scene was over in two minutes; Catherine, released,
put her two hands to her temples, and looked just as if she were not
sure whether her ears were off or on. She trembled like a reed, poor
thing, and leant against the table perfectly bewildered.

“I know how to chastise children, you see,” said the scoundrel, grimly,
as he stooped to repossess himself of the key, which had dropped to the
floor. “Go to Linton now, as I told you; and cry at your ease! I shall
be your father, to-morrow—all the father you’ll have in a few days—and
you shall have plenty of that. You can bear plenty; you’re no weakling:
you shall have a daily taste, if I catch such a devil of a temper in
your eyes again!”

Cathy ran to me instead of Linton, and knelt down and put her burning
cheek on my lap, weeping aloud. Her cousin had shrunk into a corner of
the settle, as quiet as a mouse, congratulating himself, I dare say,
that the correction had alighted on another than him. Mr. Heathcliff,
perceiving us all confounded, rose, and expeditiously made the tea
himself. The cups and saucers were laid ready. He poured it out, and
handed me a cup.

“Wash away your spleen,” he said. “And help your own naughty pet and
mine. It is not poisoned, though I prepared it. I’m going out to seek
your horses.”

Our first thought, on his departure, was to force an exit somewhere. We
tried the kitchen door, but that was fastened outside: we looked at the
windows—they were too narrow for even Cathy’s little figure.

“Master Linton,” I cried, seeing we were regularly imprisoned, “you
know what your diabolical father is after, and you shall tell us, or
I’ll box your ears, as he has done your cousin’s.”

“Yes, Linton, you must tell,” said Catherine. “It was for your sake I
came; and it will be wickedly ungrateful if you refuse.”

“Give me some tea, I’m thirsty, and then I’ll tell you,” he answered.
“Mrs. Dean, go away. I don’t like you standing over me. Now, Catherine,
you are letting your tears fall into my cup. I won’t drink that. Give
me another.” Catherine pushed another to him, and wiped her face. I
felt disgusted at the little wretch’s composure, since he was no longer
in terror for himself. The anguish he had exhibited on the moor
subsided as soon as ever he entered Wuthering Heights; so I guessed he
had been menaced with an awful visitation of wrath if he failed in
decoying us there; and, that accomplished, he had no further immediate
fears.

“Papa wants us to be married,” he continued, after sipping some of the
liquid. “And he knows your papa wouldn’t let us marry now; and he’s
afraid of my dying if we wait; so we are to be married in the morning,
and you are to stay here all night; and, if you do as he wishes, you
shall return home next day, and take me with you.”

“Take you with her, pitiful changeling!” I exclaimed. “_You_ marry?
Why, the man is mad! or he thinks us fools, every one. And do you
imagine that beautiful young lady, that healthy, hearty girl, will tie
herself to a little perishing monkey like you? Are you cherishing the
notion that anybody, let alone Miss Catherine Linton, would have you
for a husband? You want whipping for bringing us in here at all, with
your dastardly puling tricks: and—don’t look so silly, now! I’ve a very
good mind to shake you severely, for your contemptible treachery, and
your imbecile conceit.”

I did give him a slight shaking; but it brought on the cough, and he
took to his ordinary resource of moaning and weeping, and Catherine
rebuked me.

“Stay all night? No,” she said, looking slowly round. “Ellen, I’ll burn
that door down but I’ll get out.”

And she would have commenced the execution of her threat directly, but
Linton was up in alarm for his dear self again. He clasped her in his
two feeble arms sobbing:—“Won’t you have me, and save me? not let me
come to the Grange? Oh, darling Catherine! you mustn’t go and leave,
after all. You _must_ obey my father—you _must_!”

“I must obey my own,” she replied, “and relieve him from this cruel
suspense. The whole night! What would he think? He’ll be distressed
already. I’ll either break or burn a way out of the house. Be quiet!
You’re in no danger; but if you hinder me—Linton, I love papa better
than you!” The mortal terror he felt of Mr. Heathcliff’s anger restored
to the boy his coward’s eloquence. Catherine was near distraught:
still, she persisted that she must go home, and tried entreaty in her
turn, persuading him to subdue his selfish agony. While they were thus
occupied, our jailor re-entered.

“Your beasts have trotted off,” he said, “and—now Linton! snivelling
again? What has she been doing to you? Come, come—have done, and get to
bed. In a month or two, my lad, you’ll be able to pay her back her
present tyrannies with a vigorous hand. You’re pining for pure love,
are you not? nothing else in the world: and she shall have you! There,
to bed! Zillah won’t be here to-night; you must undress yourself. Hush!
hold your noise! Once in your own room, I’ll not come near you: you
needn’t fear. By chance, you’ve managed tolerably. I’ll look to the
rest.”

He spoke these words, holding the door open for his son to pass, and
the latter achieved his exit exactly as a spaniel might which suspected
the person who attended on it of designing a spiteful squeeze. The lock
was re-secured. Heathcliff approached the fire, where my mistress and I
stood silent. Catherine looked up, and instinctively raised her hand to
her cheek: his neighbourhood revived a painful sensation. Anybody else
would have been incapable of regarding the childish act with sternness,
but he scowled on her and muttered—“Oh! you are not afraid of me? Your
courage is well disguised: you seem damnably afraid!”

“I _am_ afraid now,” she replied, “because, if I stay, papa will be
miserable: and how can I endure making him miserable—when he—when
he—Mr. Heathcliff, let _me_ go home! I promise to marry Linton: papa
would like me to: and I love him. Why should you wish to force me to do
what I’ll willingly do of myself?”

“Let him dare to force you,” I cried. “There’s law in the land, thank
God! there is; though we be in an out-of-the-way place. I’d inform if
he were my own son: and it’s felony without benefit of clergy!”

“Silence!” said the ruffian. “To the devil with your clamour! I don’t
want _you_ to speak. Miss Linton, I shall enjoy myself remarkably in
thinking your father will be miserable: I shall not sleep for
satisfaction. You could have hit on no surer way of fixing your
residence under my roof for the next twenty-four hours than informing
me that such an event would follow. As to your promise to marry Linton,
I’ll take care you shall keep it; for you shall not quit this place
till it is fulfilled.”

“Send Ellen, then, to let papa know I’m safe!” exclaimed Catherine,
weeping bitterly. “Or marry me now. Poor papa! Ellen, he’ll think we’re
lost. What shall we do?”

“Not he! He’ll think you are tired of waiting on him, and run off for a
little amusement,” answered Heathcliff. “You cannot deny that you
entered my house of your own accord, in contempt of his injunctions to
the contrary. And it is quite natural that you should desire amusement
at your age; and that you would weary of nursing a sick man, and that
man _only_ your father. Catherine, his happiest days were over when
your days began. He cursed you, I dare say, for coming into the world
(I did, at least); and it would just do if he cursed you as _he_ went
out of it. I’d join him. I don’t love you! How should I? Weep away. As
far as I can see, it will be your chief diversion hereafter; unless
Linton make amends for other losses: and your provident parent appears
to fancy he may. His letters of advice and consolation entertained me
vastly. In his last he recommended my jewel to be careful of his; and
kind to her when he got her. Careful and kind—that’s paternal. But
Linton requires his whole stock of care and kindness for himself.
Linton can play the little tyrant well. He’ll undertake to torture any
number of cats, if their teeth be drawn and their claws pared. You’ll
be able to tell his uncle fine tales of his _kindness_, when you get
home again, I assure you.”

“You’re right there!” I said; “explain your son’s character. Show his
resemblance to yourself: and then, I hope, Miss Cathy will think twice
before she takes the cockatrice!”

“I don’t much mind speaking of his amiable qualities now,” he answered;
“because she must either accept him or remain a prisoner, and you along
with her, till your master dies. I can detain you both, quite
concealed, here. If you doubt, encourage her to retract her word, and
you’ll have an opportunity of judging!”

“I’ll not retract my word,” said Catherine. “I’ll marry him within this
hour, if I may go to Thrushcross Grange afterwards. Mr. Heathcliff,
you’re a cruel man, but you’re not a fiend; and you won’t, from _mere_
malice, destroy irrevocably all my happiness. If papa thought I had
left him on purpose, and if he died before I returned, could I bear to
live? I’ve given over crying: but I’m going to kneel here, at your
knee; and I’ll not get up, and I’ll not take my eyes from your face
till you look back at me! No, don’t turn away! _do look_! you’ll see
nothing to provoke you. I don’t hate you. I’m not angry that you struck
me. Have you never loved _anybody_ in all your life, uncle? _never_?
Ah! you must look once. I’m so wretched, you can’t help being sorry and
pitying me.”

“Keep your eft’s fingers off; and move, or I’ll kick you!” cried
Heathcliff, brutally repulsing her. “I’d rather be hugged by a snake.
How the devil can you dream of fawning on me? I _detest_ you!”

He shrugged his shoulders: shook himself, indeed, as if his flesh crept
with aversion; and thrust back his chair; while I got up, and opened my
mouth, to commence a downright torrent of abuse. But I was rendered
dumb in the middle of the first sentence, by a threat that I should be
shown into a room by myself the very next syllable I uttered. It was
growing dark—we heard a sound of voices at the garden-gate. Our host
hurried out instantly: _he_ had his wits about him; _we_ had not. There
was a talk of two or three minutes, and he returned alone.

“I thought it had been your cousin Hareton,” I observed to Catherine.
“I wish he would arrive! Who knows but he might take our part?”

“It was three servants sent to seek you from the Grange,” said
Heathcliff, overhearing me. “You should have opened a lattice and
called out: but I could swear that chit is glad you didn’t. She’s glad
to be obliged to stay, I’m certain.”

At learning the chance we had missed, we both gave vent to our grief
without control; and he allowed us to wail on till nine o’clock. Then
he bid us go upstairs, through the kitchen, to Zillah’s chamber; and I
whispered my companion to obey: perhaps we might contrive to get
through the window there, or into a garret, and out by its skylight.
The window, however, was narrow, like those below, and the garret trap
was safe from our attempts; for we were fastened in as before. We
neither of us lay down: Catherine took her station by the lattice, and
watched anxiously for morning; a deep sigh being the only answer I
could obtain to my frequent entreaties that she would try to rest. I
seated myself in a chair, and rocked to and fro, passing harsh judgment
on my many derelictions of duty; from which, it struck me then, all the
misfortunes of my employers sprang. It was not the case, in reality, I
am aware; but it was, in my imagination, that dismal night; and I
thought Heathcliff himself less guilty than I.

At seven o’clock he came, and inquired if Miss Linton had risen. She
ran to the door immediately, and answered, “Yes.” “Here, then,” he
said, opening it, and pulling her out. I rose to follow, but he turned
the lock again. I demanded my release.

“Be patient,” he replied; “I’ll send up your breakfast in a while.”

I thumped on the panels, and rattled the latch angrily and Catherine
asked why I was still shut up? He answered, I must try to endure it
another hour, and they went away. I endured it two or three hours; at
length, I heard a footstep: not Heathcliff’s.

“I’ve brought you something to eat,” said a voice; “oppen t’ door!”

Complying eagerly, I beheld Hareton, laden with food enough to last me
all day.

“Tak’ it,” he added, thrusting the tray into my hand.

“Stay one minute,” I began.

“Nay,” cried he, and retired, regardless of any prayers I could pour
forth to detain him.

And there I remained enclosed the whole day, and the whole of the next
night; and another, and another. Five nights and four days I remained,
altogether, seeing nobody but Hareton once every morning; and he was a
model of a jailor: surly, and dumb, and deaf to every attempt at moving
his sense of justice or compassion.



CHAPTER XXVIII


On the fifth morning, or rather afternoon, a different step
approached—lighter and shorter; and, this time, the person entered the
room. It was Zillah; donned in her scarlet shawl, with a black silk
bonnet on her head, and a willow-basket swung to her arm.

“Eh, dear! Mrs. Dean!” she exclaimed. “Well! there is a talk about you
at Gimmerton. I never thought but you were sunk in the Blackhorse
marsh, and missy with you, till master told me you’d been found, and
he’d lodged you here! What! and you must have got on an island, sure?
And how long were you in the hole? Did master save you, Mrs. Dean? But
you’re not so thin—you’ve not been so poorly, have you?”

“Your master is a true scoundrel!” I replied. “But he shall answer for
it. He needn’t have raised that tale: it shall all be laid bare!”

“What do you mean?” asked Zillah. “It’s not his tale: they tell that in
the village—about your being lost in the marsh; and I calls to
Earnshaw, when I come in—‘Eh, they’s queer things, Mr. Hareton,
happened since I went off. It’s a sad pity of that likely young lass,
and cant Nelly Dean.’ He stared. I thought he had not heard aught, so I
told him the rumour. The master listened, and he just smiled to
himself, and said, ‘If they have been in the marsh, they are out now,
Zillah. Nelly Dean is lodged, at this minute, in your room. You can
tell her to flit, when you go up; here is the key. The bog-water got
into her head, and she would have run home quite flighty; but I fixed
her till she came round to her senses. You can bid her go to the Grange
at once, if she be able, and carry a message from me, that her young
lady will follow in time to attend the squire’s funeral.’”

“Mr. Edgar is not dead?” I gasped. “Oh! Zillah, Zillah!”

“No, no; sit you down, my good mistress,” she replied; “you’re right
sickly yet. He’s not dead; Doctor Kenneth thinks he may last another
day. I met him on the road and asked.”

Instead of sitting down, I snatched my outdoor things, and hastened
below, for the way was free. On entering the house, I looked about for
some one to give information of Catherine. The place was filled with
sunshine, and the door stood wide open; but nobody seemed at hand. As I
hesitated whether to go off at once, or return and seek my mistress, a
slight cough drew my attention to the hearth. Linton lay on the settle,
sole tenant, sucking a stick of sugar-candy, and pursuing my movements
with apathetic eyes. “Where is Miss Catherine?” I demanded sternly,
supposing I could frighten him into giving intelligence, by catching
him thus, alone. He sucked on like an innocent.

“Is she gone?” I said.

“No,” he replied; “she’s upstairs: she’s not to go; we won’t let her.”

“You won’t let her, little idiot!” I exclaimed. “Direct me to her room
immediately, or I’ll make you sing out sharply.”

“Papa would make you sing out, if you attempted to get there,” he
answered. “He says I’m not to be soft with Catherine: she’s my wife,
and it’s shameful that she should wish to leave me. He says she hates
me and wants me to die, that she may have my money; but she shan’t have
it: and she shan’t go home! She never shall!—she may cry, and be sick
as much as she pleases!”

He resumed his former occupation, closing his lids, as if he meant to
drop asleep.

“Master Heathcliff,” I resumed, “have you forgotten all Catherine’s
kindness to you last winter, when you affirmed you loved her, and when
she brought you books and sung you songs, and came many a time through
wind and snow to see you? She wept to miss one evening, because you
would be disappointed; and you felt then that she was a hundred times
too good to you: and now you believe the lies your father tells, though
you know he detests you both. And you join him against her. That’s fine
gratitude, is it not?”

The corner of Linton’s mouth fell, and he took the sugar-candy from his
lips.

“Did she come to Wuthering Heights because she hated you?” I continued.
“Think for yourself! As to your money, she does not even know that you
will have any. And you say she’s sick; and yet you leave her alone, up
there in a strange house! You who have felt what it is to be so
neglected! You could pity your own sufferings; and she pitied them,
too; but you won’t pity hers! I shed tears, Master Heathcliff, you
see—an elderly woman, and a servant merely—and you, after pretending
such affection, and having reason to worship her almost, store every
tear you have for yourself, and lie there quite at ease. Ah! you’re a
heartless, selfish boy!”

“I can’t stay with her,” he answered crossly. “I’ll not stay by myself.
She cries so I can’t bear it. And she won’t give over, though I say
I’ll call my father. I did call him once, and he threatened to strangle
her if she was not quiet; but she began again the instant he left the
room, moaning and grieving all night long, though I screamed for
vexation that I couldn’t sleep.”

“Is Mr. Heathcliff out?” I inquired, perceiving that the wretched
creature had no power to sympathize with his cousin’s mental tortures.

“He’s in the court,” he replied, “talking to Doctor Kenneth; who says
uncle is dying, truly, at last. I’m glad, for I shall be master of the
Grange after him. Catherine always spoke of it as her house. It isn’t
hers! It’s mine: papa says everything she has is mine. All her nice
books are mine; she offered to give me them, and her pretty birds, and
her pony Minny, if I would get the key of our room, and let her out;
but I told her she had nothing to give, they were all, all mine. And
then she cried, and took a little picture from her neck, and said I
should have that; two pictures in a gold case, on one side her mother,
and on the other uncle, when they were young. That was yesterday—I said
they were mine, too; and tried to get them from her. The spiteful thing
wouldn’t let me: she pushed me off, and hurt me. I shrieked out—that
frightens her—she heard papa coming, and she broke the hinges and
divided the case, and gave me her mother’s portrait; the other she
attempted to hide: but papa asked what was the matter, and I explained
it. He took the one I had away, and ordered her to resign hers to me;
she refused, and he—he struck her down, and wrenched it off the chain,
and crushed it with his foot.”

“And were you pleased to see her struck?” I asked: having my designs in
encouraging his talk.

“I winked,” he answered: “I wink to see my father strike a dog or a
horse, he does it so hard. Yet I was glad at first—she deserved
punishing for pushing me: but when papa was gone, she made me come to
the window and showed me her cheek cut on the inside, against her
teeth, and her mouth filling with blood; and then she gathered up the
bits of the picture, and went and sat down with her face to the wall,
and she has never spoken to me since: and I sometimes think she can’t
speak for pain. I don’t like to think so; but she’s a naughty thing for
crying continually; and she looks so pale and wild, I’m afraid of her.”

“And you can get the key if you choose?” I said.

“Yes, when I am upstairs,” he answered; “but I can’t walk upstairs
now.”

“In what apartment is it?” I asked.

“Oh,” he cried, “I shan’t tell _you_ where it is. It is our secret.
Nobody, neither Hareton nor Zillah, is to know. There! you’ve tired
me—go away, go away!” And he turned his face on to his arm, and shut
his eyes again.

I considered it best to depart without seeing Mr. Heathcliff, and bring
a rescue for my young lady from the Grange. On reaching it, the
astonishment of my fellow-servants to see me, and their joy also, was
intense; and when they heard that their little mistress was safe, two
or three were about to hurry up and shout the news at Mr. Edgar’s door:
but I bespoke the announcement of it myself. How changed I found him,
even in those few days! He lay an image of sadness and resignation
awaiting his death. Very young he looked: though his actual age was
thirty-nine, one would have called him ten years younger, at least. He
thought of Catherine; for he murmured her name. I touched his hand, and
spoke.

“Catherine is coming, dear master!” I whispered; “she is alive and
well; and will be here, I hope, to-night.”

I trembled at the first effects of this intelligence: he half rose up,
looked eagerly round the apartment, and then sank back in a swoon. As
soon as he recovered, I related our compulsory visit, and detention at
the Heights. I said Heathcliff forced me to go in: which was not quite
true. I uttered as little as possible against Linton; nor did I
describe all his father’s brutal conduct—my intentions being to add no
bitterness, if I could help it, to his already over-flowing cup.

He divined that one of his enemy’s purposes was to secure the personal
property, as well as the estate, to his son: or rather himself; yet why
he did not wait till his decease was a puzzle to my master, because
ignorant how nearly he and his nephew would quit the world together.
However, he felt that his will had better be altered: instead of
leaving Catherine’s fortune at her own disposal, he determined to put
it in the hands of trustees for her use during life, and for her
children, if she had any, after her. By that means, it could not fall
to Mr. Heathcliff should Linton die.

Having received his orders, I despatched a man to fetch the attorney,
and four more, provided with serviceable weapons, to demand my young
lady of her jailor. Both parties were delayed very late. The single
servant returned first. He said Mr. Green, the lawyer, was out when he
arrived at his house, and he had to wait two hours for his re-entrance;
and then Mr. Green told him he had a little business in the village
that must be done; but he would be at Thrushcross Grange before
morning. The four men came back unaccompanied also. They brought word
that Catherine was ill: too ill to quit her room; and Heathcliff would
not suffer them to see her. I scolded the stupid fellows well for
listening to that tale, which I would not carry to my master; resolving
to take a whole bevy up to the Heights, at day-light, and storm it
literally, unless the prisoner were quietly surrendered to us. Her
father _shall_ see her, I vowed, and vowed again, if that devil be
killed on his own doorstones in trying to prevent it!

Happily, I was spared the journey and the trouble. I had gone
downstairs at three o’clock to fetch a jug of water; and was passing
through the hall with it in my hand, when a sharp knock at the front
door made me jump. “Oh! it is Green,” I said, recollecting myself—“only
Green,” and I went on, intending to send somebody else to open it; but
the knock was repeated: not loud, and still importunately. I put the
jug on the banister and hastened to admit him myself. The harvest moon
shone clear outside. It was not the attorney. My own sweet little
mistress sprang on my neck sobbing, “Ellen, Ellen! Is papa alive?”

“Yes,” I cried: “yes, my angel, he is, God be thanked, you are safe
with us again!”

She wanted to run, breathless as she was, upstairs to Mr. Linton’s
room; but I compelled her to sit down on a chair, and made her drink,
and washed her pale face, chafing it into a faint colour with my apron.
Then I said I must go first, and tell of her arrival; imploring her to
say, she should be happy with young Heathcliff. She stared, but soon
comprehending why I counselled her to utter the falsehood, she assured
me she would not complain.

I couldn’t abide to be present at their meeting. I stood outside the
chamber-door a quarter of an hour, and hardly ventured near the bed,
then. All was composed, however: Catherine’s despair was as silent as
her father’s joy. She supported him calmly, in appearance; and he fixed
on her features his raised eyes that seemed dilating with ecstasy.

He died blissfully, Mr. Lockwood: he died so. Kissing her cheek, he
murmured,—“I am going to her; and you, darling child, shall come to
us!” and never stirred or spoke again; but continued that rapt, radiant
gaze, till his pulse imperceptibly stopped and his soul departed. None
could have noticed the exact minute of his death, it was so entirely
without a struggle.

Whether Catherine had spent her tears, or whether the grief were too
weighty to let them flow, she sat there dry-eyed till the sun rose: she
sat till noon, and would still have remained brooding over that
deathbed, but I insisted on her coming away and taking some repose. It
was well I succeeded in removing her, for at dinner-time appeared the
lawyer, having called at Wuthering Heights to get his instructions how
to behave. He had sold himself to Mr. Heathcliff: that was the cause of
his delay in obeying my master’s summons. Fortunately, no thought of
worldly affairs crossed the latter’s mind, to disturb him, after his
daughter’s arrival.

Mr. Green took upon himself to order everything and everybody about the
place. He gave all the servants but me, notice to quit. He would have
carried his delegated authority to the point of insisting that Edgar
Linton should not be buried beside his wife, but in the chapel, with
his family. There was the will, however, to hinder that, and my loud
protestations against any infringement of its directions. The funeral
was hurried over; Catherine, Mrs. Linton Heathcliff now, was suffered
to stay at the Grange till her father’s corpse had quitted it.

She told me that her anguish had at last spurred Linton to incur the
risk of liberating her. She heard the men I sent disputing at the door,
and she gathered the sense of Heathcliff’s answer. It drove her
desperate. Linton who had been conveyed up to the little parlour soon
after I left, was terrified into fetching the key before his father
re-ascended. He had the cunning to unlock and re-lock the door, without
shutting it; and when he should have gone to bed, he begged to sleep
with Hareton, and his petition was granted for once. Catherine stole
out before break of day. She dared not try the doors lest the dogs
should raise an alarm; she visited the empty chambers and examined
their windows; and, luckily, lighting on her mother’s, she got easily
out of its lattice, and on to the ground, by means of the fir-tree
close by. Her accomplice suffered for his share in the escape,
notwithstanding his timid contrivances.



CHAPTER XXIX


The evening after the funeral, my young lady and I were seated in the
library; now musing mournfully—one of us despairingly—on our loss, now
venturing conjectures as to the gloomy future.

We had just agreed the best destiny which could await Catherine would
be a permission to continue resident at the Grange; at least during
Linton’s life: he being allowed to join her there, and I to remain as
housekeeper. That seemed rather too favourable an arrangement to be
hoped for; and yet I did hope, and began to cheer up under the prospect
of retaining my home and my employment, and, above all, my beloved
young mistress; when a servant—one of the discarded ones, not yet
departed—rushed hastily in, and said “that devil Heathcliff” was coming
through the court: should he fasten the door in his face?

If we had been mad enough to order that proceeding, we had not time. He
made no ceremony of knocking or announcing his name: he was master, and
availed himself of the master’s privilege to walk straight in, without
saying a word. The sound of our informant’s voice directed him to the
library; he entered and motioning him out, shut the door.

It was the same room into which he had been ushered, as a guest,
eighteen years before: the same moon shone through the window; and the
same autumn landscape lay outside. We had not yet lighted a candle, but
all the apartment was visible, even to the portraits on the wall: the
splendid head of Mrs. Linton, and the graceful one of her husband.
Heathcliff advanced to the hearth. Time had little altered his person
either. There was the same man: his dark face rather sallower and more
composed, his frame a stone or two heavier, perhaps, and no other
difference. Catherine had risen with an impulse to dash out, when she
saw him.

“Stop!” he said, arresting her by the arm. “No more runnings away!
Where would you go? I’m come to fetch you home; and I hope you’ll be a
dutiful daughter and not encourage my son to further disobedience. I
was embarrassed how to punish him when I discovered his part in the
business: he’s such a cobweb, a pinch would annihilate him; but you’ll
see by his look that he has received his due! I brought him down one
evening, the day before yesterday, and just set him in a chair, and
never touched him afterwards. I sent Hareton out, and we had the room
to ourselves. In two hours, I called Joseph to carry him up again; and
since then my presence is as potent on his nerves as a ghost; and I
fancy he sees me often, though I am not near. Hareton says he wakes and
shrieks in the night by the hour together, and calls you to protect him
from me; and, whether you like your precious mate, or not, you must
come: he’s your concern now; I yield all my interest in him to you.”

“Why not let Catherine continue here,” I pleaded, “and send Master
Linton to her? As you hate them both, you’d not miss them: they can
only be a daily plague to your unnatural heart.”

“I’m seeking a tenant for the Grange,” he answered; “and I want my
children about me, to be sure. Besides, that lass owes me her services
for her bread. I’m not going to nurture her in luxury and idleness
after Linton is gone. Make haste and get ready, now; and don’t oblige
me to compel you.”

“I shall,” said Catherine. “Linton is all I have to love in the world,
and though you have done what you could to make him hateful to me, and
me to him, you cannot make us hate each other. And I defy you to hurt
him when I am by, and I defy you to frighten me!”

“You are a boastful champion,” replied Heathcliff; “but I don’t like
you well enough to hurt him: you shall get the full benefit of the
torment, as long as it lasts. It is not I who will make him hateful to
you—it is his own sweet spirit. He’s as bitter as gall at your
desertion and its consequences: don’t expect thanks for this noble
devotion. I heard him draw a pleasant picture to Zillah of what he
would do if he were as strong as I: the inclination is there, and his
very weakness will sharpen his wits to find a substitute for strength.”

“I know he has a bad nature,” said Catherine: “he’s your son. But I’m
glad I’ve a better, to forgive it; and I know he loves me, and for that
reason I love him. Mr. Heathcliff _you_ have _nobody_ to love you; and,
however miserable you make us, we shall still have the revenge of
thinking that your cruelty arises from your greater misery. You _are_
miserable, are you not? Lonely, like the devil, and envious like him?
_Nobody_ loves you—_nobody_ will cry for you when you die! I wouldn’t
be you!”

Catherine spoke with a kind of dreary triumph: she seemed to have made
up her mind to enter into the spirit of her future family, and draw
pleasure from the griefs of her enemies.

“You shall be sorry to be yourself presently,” said her father-in-law,
“if you stand there another minute. Begone, witch, and get your
things!”

She scornfully withdrew. In her absence I began to beg for Zillah’s
place at the Heights, offering to resign mine to her; but he would
suffer it on no account. He bid me be silent; and then, for the first
time, allowed himself a glance round the room and a look at the
pictures. Having studied Mrs. Linton’s, he said—“I shall have that
home. Not because I need it, but—” He turned abruptly to the fire, and
continued, with what, for lack of a better word, I must call a
smile—“I’ll tell you what I did yesterday! I got the sexton, who was
digging Linton’s grave, to remove the earth off her coffin lid, and I
opened it. I thought, once, I would have stayed there: when I saw her
face again—it is hers yet!—he had hard work to stir me; but he said it
would change if the air blew on it, and so I struck one side of the
coffin loose, and covered it up: not Linton’s side, damn him! I wish
he’d been soldered in lead. And I bribed the sexton to pull it away
when I’m laid there, and slide mine out too; I’ll have it made so: and
then by the time Linton gets to us he’ll not know which is which!”

“You were very wicked, Mr. Heathcliff!” I exclaimed; “were you not
ashamed to disturb the dead?”

“I disturbed nobody, Nelly,” he replied; “and I gave some ease to
myself. I shall be a great deal more comfortable now; and you’ll have a
better chance of keeping me underground, when I get there. Disturbed
her? No! she has disturbed me, night and day, through eighteen
years—incessantly—remorselessly—till yesternight; and yesternight I was
tranquil. I dreamt I was sleeping the last sleep by that sleeper, with
my heart stopped and my cheek frozen against hers.”

“And if she had been dissolved into earth, or worse, what would you
have dreamt of then?” I said.

“Of dissolving with her, and being more happy still!” he answered. “Do
you suppose I dread any change of that sort? I expected such a
transformation on raising the lid—but I’m better pleased that it should
not commence till I share it. Besides, unless I had received a distinct
impression of her passionless features, that strange feeling would
hardly have been removed. It began oddly. You know I was wild after she
died; and eternally, from dawn to dawn, praying her to return to me her
spirit! I have a strong faith in ghosts: I have a conviction that they
can, and do, exist among us! The day she was buried, there came a fall
of snow. In the evening I went to the churchyard. It blew bleak as
winter—all round was solitary. I didn’t fear that her fool of a husband
would wander up the glen so late; and no one else had business to bring
them there. Being alone, and conscious two yards of loose earth was the
sole barrier between us, I said to myself—‘I’ll have her in my arms
again! If she be cold, I’ll think it is this north wind that chills
_me_; and if she be motionless, it is sleep.’ I got a spade from the
tool-house, and began to delve with all my might—it scraped the coffin;
I fell to work with my hands; the wood commenced cracking about the
screws; I was on the point of attaining my object, when it seemed that
I heard a sigh from some one above, close at the edge of the grave, and
bending down. ‘If I can only get this off,’ I muttered, ‘I wish they
may shovel in the earth over us both!’ and I wrenched at it more
desperately still. There was another sigh, close at my ear. I appeared
to feel the warm breath of it displacing the sleet-laden wind. I knew
no living thing in flesh and blood was by; but, as certainly as you
perceive the approach to some substantial body in the dark, though it
cannot be discerned, so certainly I felt that Cathy was there: not
under me, but on the earth. A sudden sense of relief flowed from my
heart through every limb. I relinquished my labour of agony, and turned
consoled at once: unspeakably consoled. Her presence was with me: it
remained while I re-filled the grave, and led me home. You may laugh,
if you will; but I was sure I should see her there. I was sure she was
with me, and I could not help talking to her. Having reached the
Heights, I rushed eagerly to the door. It was fastened; and, I
remember, that accursed Earnshaw and my wife opposed my entrance. I
remember stopping to kick the breath out of him, and then hurrying
upstairs, to my room and hers. I looked round impatiently—I felt her by
me—I could _almost_ see her, and yet I _could not_! I ought to have
sweat blood then, from the anguish of my yearning—from the fervour of
my supplications to have but one glimpse! I had not one. She showed
herself, as she often was in life, a devil to me! And, since then,
sometimes more and sometimes less, I’ve been the sport of that
intolerable torture! Infernal! keeping my nerves at such a stretch
that, if they had not resembled catgut, they would long ago have
relaxed to the feebleness of Linton’s. When I sat in the house with
Hareton, it seemed that on going out I should meet her; when I walked
on the moors I should meet her coming in. When I went from home I
hastened to return; she _must_ be somewhere at the Heights, I was
certain! And when I slept in her chamber—I was beaten out of that. I
couldn’t lie there; for the moment I closed my eyes, she was either
outside the window, or sliding back the panels, or entering the room,
or even resting her darling head on the same pillow as she did when a
child; and I must open my lids to see. And so I opened and closed them
a hundred times a night—to be always disappointed! It racked me! I’ve
often groaned aloud, till that old rascal Joseph no doubt believed that
my conscience was playing the fiend inside of me. Now, since I’ve seen
her, I’m pacified—a little. It was a strange way of killing: not by
inches, but by fractions of hairbreadths, to beguile me with the
spectre of a hope through eighteen years!”

Mr. Heathcliff paused and wiped his forehead; his hair clung to it, wet
with perspiration; his eyes were fixed on the red embers of the fire,
the brows not contracted, but raised next the temples; diminishing the
grim aspect of his countenance, but imparting a peculiar look of
trouble, and a painful appearance of mental tension towards one
absorbing subject. He only half addressed me, and I maintained silence.
I didn’t like to hear him talk! After a short period he resumed his
meditation on the picture, took it down and leant it against the sofa
to contemplate it at better advantage; and while so occupied Catherine
entered, announcing that she was ready, when her pony should be
saddled.

“Send that over to-morrow,” said Heathcliff to me; then turning to her,
he added: “You may do without your pony: it is a fine evening, and
you’ll need no ponies at Wuthering Heights; for what journeys you take,
your own feet will serve you. Come along.”

“Good-bye, Ellen!” whispered my dear little mistress.

As she kissed me, her lips felt like ice. “Come and see me, Ellen;
don’t forget.”

“Take care you do no such thing, Mrs. Dean!” said her new father. “When
I wish to speak to you I’ll come here. I want none of your prying at my
house!”

He signed her to precede him; and casting back a look that cut my
heart, she obeyed. I watched them, from the window, walk down the
garden. Heathcliff fixed Catherine’s arm under his: though she disputed
the act at first evidently; and with rapid strides he hurried her into
the alley, whose trees concealed them.



CHAPTER XXX


I have paid a visit to the Heights, but I have not seen her since she
left: Joseph held the door in his hand when I called to ask after her,
and wouldn’t let me pass. He said Mrs. Linton was “thrang,” and the
master was not in. Zillah has told me something of the way they go on,
otherwise I should hardly know who was dead and who living. She thinks
Catherine haughty, and does not like her, I can guess by her talk. My
young lady asked some aid of her when she first came; but Mr.
Heathcliff told her to follow her own business, and let his
daughter-in-law look after herself; and Zillah willingly acquiesced,
being a narrow-minded, selfish woman. Catherine evinced a child’s
annoyance at this neglect; repaid it with contempt, and thus enlisted
my informant among her enemies, as securely as if she had done her some
great wrong. I had a long talk with Zillah about six weeks ago, a
little before you came, one day when we foregathered on the moor; and
this is what she told me.

“The first thing Mrs. Linton did,” she said, “on her arrival at the
Heights, was to run upstairs, without even wishing good-evening to me
and Joseph; she shut herself into Linton’s room, and remained till
morning. Then, while the master and Earnshaw were at breakfast, she
entered the house, and asked all in a quiver if the doctor might be
sent for? her cousin was very ill.

“‘We know that!’ answered Heathcliff; ‘but his life is not worth a
farthing, and I won’t spend a farthing on him.’

“‘But I cannot tell how to do,’ she said; ‘and if nobody will help me,
he’ll die!’

“‘Walk out of the room,’ cried the master, ‘and let me never hear a
word more about him! None here care what becomes of him; if you do, act
the nurse; if you do not, lock him up and leave him.’

“Then she began to bother me, and I said I’d had enough plague with the
tiresome thing; we each had our tasks, and hers was to wait on Linton:
Mr. Heathcliff bid me leave that labour to her.

“How they managed together, I can’t tell. I fancy he fretted a great
deal, and moaned hisseln night and day; and she had precious little
rest: one could guess by her white face and heavy eyes. She sometimes
came into the kitchen all wildered like, and looked as if she would
fain beg assistance; but I was not going to disobey the master: I never
dare disobey him, Mrs. Dean; and, though I thought it wrong that
Kenneth should not be sent for, it was no concern of mine either to
advise or complain, and I always refused to meddle. Once or twice,
after we had gone to bed, I’ve happened to open my door again and seen
her sitting crying on the stairs’-top; and then I’ve shut myself in
quick, for fear of being moved to interfere. I did pity her then, I’m
sure: still I didn’t wish to lose my place, you know.

“At last, one night she came boldly into my chamber, and frightened me
out of my wits, by saying, ‘Tell Mr. Heathcliff that his son is
dying—I’m sure he is, this time. Get up, instantly, and tell him.’

“Having uttered this speech, she vanished again. I lay a quarter of an
hour listening and trembling. Nothing stirred—the house was quiet.

“She’s mistaken, I said to myself. He’s got over it. I needn’t disturb
them; and I began to doze. But my sleep was marred a second time by a
sharp ringing of the bell—the only bell we have, put up on purpose for
Linton; and the master called to me to see what was the matter, and
inform them that he wouldn’t have that noise repeated.

“I delivered Catherine’s message. He cursed to himself, and in a few
minutes came out with a lighted candle, and proceeded to their room. I
followed. Mrs. Heathcliff was seated by the bedside, with her hands
folded on her knees. Her father-in-law went up, held the light to
Linton’s face, looked at him, and touched him; afterwards he turned to
her.

“‘Now—Catherine,’ he said, ‘how do you feel?’

“She was dumb.

“‘How do you feel, Catherine?’ he repeated.

“‘He’s safe, and I’m free,’ she answered: ‘I should feel well—but,’ she
continued, with a bitterness she couldn’t conceal, ‘you have left me so
long to struggle against death alone, that I feel and see only death! I
feel like death!’

“And she looked like it, too! I gave her a little wine. Hareton and
Joseph, who had been wakened by the ringing and the sound of feet, and
heard our talk from outside, now entered. Joseph was fain, I believe,
of the lad’s removal; Hareton seemed a thought bothered: though he was
more taken up with staring at Catherine than thinking of Linton. But
the master bid him get off to bed again: we didn’t want his help. He
afterwards made Joseph remove the body to his chamber, and told me to
return to mine, and Mrs. Heathcliff remained by herself.

“In the morning, he sent me to tell her she must come down to
breakfast: she had undressed, and appeared going to sleep, and said she
was ill; at which I hardly wondered. I informed Mr. Heathcliff, and he
replied,—‘Well, let her be till after the funeral; and go up now and
then to get her what is needful; and, as soon as she seems better, tell
me.’”

Cathy stayed upstairs a fortnight, according to Zillah; who visited her
twice a day, and would have been rather more friendly, but her attempts
at increasing kindness were proudly and promptly repelled.

Heathcliff went up once, to show her Linton’s will. He had bequeathed
the whole of his, and what had been her, moveable property, to his
father: the poor creature was threatened, or coaxed, into that act
during her week’s absence, when his uncle died. The lands, being a
minor, he could not meddle with. However, Mr. Heathcliff has claimed
and kept them in his wife’s right and his also: I suppose legally; at
any rate, Catherine, destitute of cash and friends, cannot disturb his
possession.

“Nobody,” said Zillah, “ever approached her door, except that once, but
I; and nobody asked anything about her. The first occasion of her
coming down into the house was on a Sunday afternoon. She had cried
out, when I carried up her dinner, that she couldn’t bear any longer
being in the cold; and I told her the master was going to Thrushcross
Grange, and Earnshaw and I needn’t hinder her from descending; so, as
soon as she heard Heathcliff’s horse trot off, she made her appearance,
donned in black, and her yellow curls combed back behind her ears as
plain as a Quaker: she couldn’t comb them out.

“Joseph and I generally go to chapel on Sundays:” the kirk, you know,
has no minister now, explained Mrs. Dean; and they call the Methodists’
or Baptists’ place (I can’t say which it is) at Gimmerton, a chapel.
“Joseph had gone,” she continued, “but I thought proper to bide at
home. Young folks are always the better for an elder’s over-looking;
and Hareton, with all his bashfulness, isn’t a model of nice behaviour.
I let him know that his cousin would very likely sit with us, and she
had been always used to see the Sabbath respected; so he had as good
leave his guns and bits of indoor work alone, while she stayed. He
coloured up at the news, and cast his eyes over his hands and clothes.
The train-oil and gunpowder were shoved out of sight in a minute. I saw
he meant to give her his company; and I guessed, by his way, he wanted
to be presentable; so, laughing, as I durst not laugh when the master
is by, I offered to help him, if he would, and joked at his confusion.
He grew sullen, and began to swear.

“Now, Mrs. Dean,” Zillah went on, seeing me not pleased by her manner,
“you happen think your young lady too fine for Mr. Hareton; and happen
you’re right: but I own I should love well to bring her pride a peg
lower. And what will all her learning and her daintiness do for her,
now? She’s as poor as you or I: poorer, I’ll be bound: you’re saying,
and I’m doing my little all that road.”

Hareton allowed Zillah to give him her aid; and she flattered him into
a good humour; so, when Catherine came, half forgetting her former
insults, he tried to make himself agreeable, by the housekeeper’s
account.

“Missis walked in,” she said, “as chill as an icicle, and as high as a
princess. I got up and offered her my seat in the arm-chair. No, she
turned up her nose at my civility. Earnshaw rose, too, and bid her come
to the settle, and sit close by the fire: he was sure she was starved.

“‘I’ve been starved a month and more,’ she answered, resting on the
word as scornful as she could.

“And she got a chair for herself, and placed it at a distance from both
of us. Having sat till she was warm, she began to look round, and
discovered a number of books on the dresser; she was instantly upon her
feet again, stretching to reach them: but they were too high up. Her
cousin, after watching her endeavours a while, at last summoned courage
to help her; she held her frock, and he filled it with the first that
came to hand.

“That was a great advance for the lad. She didn’t thank him; still, he
felt gratified that she had accepted his assistance, and ventured to
stand behind as she examined them, and even to stoop and point out what
struck his fancy in certain old pictures which they contained; nor was
he daunted by the saucy style in which she jerked the page from his
finger: he contented himself with going a bit farther back and looking
at her instead of the book. She continued reading, or seeking for
something to read. His attention became, by degrees, quite centred in
the study of her thick silky curls: her face he couldn’t see, and she
couldn’t see him. And, perhaps, not quite awake to what he did, but
attracted like a child to a candle, at last he proceeded from staring
to touching; he put out his hand and stroked one curl, as gently as if
it were a bird. He might have stuck a knife into her neck, she started
round in such a taking.

“‘Get away this moment! How dare you touch me? Why are you stopping
there?’ she cried, in a tone of disgust. ‘I can’t endure you! I’ll go
upstairs again, if you come near me.’

“Mr. Hareton recoiled, looking as foolish as he could do: he sat down
in the settle very quiet, and she continued turning over her volumes
another half hour; finally, Earnshaw crossed over, and whispered to me.

“‘Will you ask her to read to us, Zillah? I’m stalled of doing naught;
and I do like—I could like to hear her! Dunnot say I wanted it, but ask
of yourseln.’

“‘Mr. Hareton wishes you would read to us, ma’am,’ I said, immediately.
‘He’d take it very kind—he’d be much obliged.’

“She frowned; and looking up, answered—

“‘Mr. Hareton, and the whole set of you, will be good enough to
understand that I reject any pretence at kindness you have the
hypocrisy to offer! I despise you, and will have nothing to say to any
of you! When I would have given my life for one kind word, even to see
one of your faces, you all kept off. But I won’t complain to you! I’m
driven down here by the cold; not either to amuse you or enjoy your
society.’

“‘What could I ha’ done?’ began Earnshaw. ‘How was I to blame?’

“‘Oh! you are an exception,’ answered Mrs. Heathcliff. ‘I never missed
such a concern as you.’

“‘But I offered more than once, and asked,’ he said, kindling up at her
pertness, ‘I asked Mr. Heathcliff to let me wake for you—’

“‘Be silent! I’ll go out of doors, or anywhere, rather than have your
disagreeable voice in my ear!’ said my lady.

“Hareton muttered she might go to hell, for him! and unslinging his
gun, restrained himself from his Sunday occupations no longer. He
talked now, freely enough; and she presently saw fit to retreat to her
solitude: but the frost had set in, and, in spite of her pride, she was
forced to condescend to our company, more and more. However, I took
care there should be no further scorning at my good nature: ever since,
I’ve been as stiff as herself; and she has no lover or liker among us:
and she does not deserve one; for, let them say the least word to her,
and she’ll curl back without respect of any one. She’ll snap at the
master himself, and as good as dares him to thrash her; and the more
hurt she gets, the more venomous she grows.”

At first, on hearing this account from Zillah, I determined to leave my
situation, take a cottage, and get Catherine to come and live with me:
but Mr. Heathcliff would as soon permit that as he would set up Hareton
in an independent house; and I can see no remedy, at present, unless
she could marry again; and that scheme it does not come within my
province to arrange.

* * * * *


Thus ended Mrs. Dean’s story. Notwithstanding the doctor’s prophecy, I
am rapidly recovering strength; and though it be only the second week
in January, I propose getting out on horseback in a day or two, and
riding over to Wuthering Heights, to inform my landlord that I shall
spend the next six months in London; and, if he likes, he may look out
for another tenant to take the place after October. I would not pass
another winter here for much.



CHAPTER XXXI


Yesterday was bright, calm, and frosty. I went to the Heights as I
proposed: my housekeeper entreated me to bear a little note from her to
her young lady, and I did not refuse, for the worthy woman was not
conscious of anything odd in her request. The front door stood open,
but the jealous gate was fastened, as at my last visit; I knocked and
invoked Earnshaw from among the garden-beds; he unchained it, and I
entered. The fellow is as handsome a rustic as need be seen. I took
particular notice of him this time; but then he does his best
apparently to make the least of his advantages.

I asked if Mr. Heathcliff were at home? He answered, No; but he would
be in at dinner-time. It was eleven o’clock, and I announced my
intention of going in and waiting for him; at which he immediately
flung down his tools and accompanied me, in the office of watchdog, not
as a substitute for the host.

We entered together; Catherine was there, making herself useful in
preparing some vegetables for the approaching meal; she looked more
sulky and less spirited than when I had seen her first. She hardly
raised her eyes to notice me, and continued her employment with the
same disregard to common forms of politeness as before; never returning
my bow and good-morning by the slightest acknowledgment.

“She does not seem so amiable,” I thought, “as Mrs. Dean would persuade
me to believe. She’s a beauty, it is true; but not an angel.”

Earnshaw surlily bid her remove her things to the kitchen. “Remove them
yourself,” she said, pushing them from her as soon as she had done; and
retiring to a stool by the window, where she began to carve figures of
birds and beasts out of the turnip-parings in her lap. I approached
her, pretending to desire a view of the garden; and, as I fancied,
adroitly dropped Mrs. Dean’s note on to her knee, unnoticed by
Hareton—but she asked aloud, “What is that?” And chucked it off.

“A letter from your old acquaintance, the housekeeper at the Grange,” I
answered; annoyed at her exposing my kind deed, and fearful lest it
should be imagined a missive of my own. She would gladly have gathered
it up at this information, but Hareton beat her; he seized and put it
in his waistcoat, saying Mr. Heathcliff should look at it first.
Thereat, Catherine silently turned her face from us, and, very
stealthily, drew out her pocket-handkerchief and applied it to her
eyes; and her cousin, after struggling awhile to keep down his softer
feelings, pulled out the letter and flung it on the floor beside her,
as ungraciously as he could. Catherine caught and perused it eagerly;
then she put a few questions to me concerning the inmates, rational and
irrational, of her former home; and gazing towards the hills, murmured
in soliloquy:

“I should like to be riding Minny down there! I should like to be
climbing up there! Oh! I’m tired—I’m _stalled_, Hareton!” And she leant
her pretty head back against the sill, with half a yawn and half a
sigh, and lapsed into an aspect of abstracted sadness: neither caring
nor knowing whether we remarked her.

“Mrs. Heathcliff,” I said, after sitting some time mute, “you are not
aware that I am an acquaintance of yours? so intimate that I think it
strange you won’t come and speak to me. My housekeeper never wearies of
talking about and praising you; and she’ll be greatly disappointed if I
return with no news of or from you, except that you received her letter
and said nothing!”

She appeared to wonder at this speech, and asked,—

“Does Ellen like you?”

“Yes, very well,” I replied, hesitatingly.

“You must tell her,” she continued, “that I would answer her letter,
but I have no materials for writing: not even a book from which I might
tear a leaf.”

“No books!” I exclaimed. “How do you contrive to live here without
them? if I may take the liberty to inquire. Though provided with a
large library, I’m frequently very dull at the Grange; take my books
away, and I should be desperate!”

“I was always reading, when I had them,” said Catherine; “and Mr.
Heathcliff never reads; so he took it into his head to destroy my
books. I have not had a glimpse of one for weeks. Only once, I searched
through Joseph’s store of theology, to his great irritation; and once,
Hareton, I came upon a secret stock in your room—some Latin and Greek,
and some tales and poetry: all old friends. I brought the last here—and
you gathered them, as a magpie gathers silver spoons, for the mere love
of stealing! They are of no use to you; or else you concealed them in
the bad spirit that, as you cannot enjoy them, nobody else shall.
Perhaps _your_ envy counselled Mr. Heathcliff to rob me of my
treasures? But I’ve most of them written on my brain and printed in my
heart, and you cannot deprive me of those!”

Earnshaw blushed crimson when his cousin made this revelation of his
private literary accumulations, and stammered an indignant denial of
her accusations.

“Mr. Hareton is desirous of increasing his amount of knowledge,” I
said, coming to his rescue. “He is not _envious_, but _emulous_ of your
attainments. He’ll be a clever scholar in a few years.”

“And he wants me to sink into a dunce, meantime,” answered Catherine.
“Yes, I hear him trying to spell and read to himself, and pretty
blunders he makes! I wish you would repeat Chevy Chase as you did
yesterday: it was extremely funny. I heard you; and I heard you turning
over the dictionary to seek out the hard words, and then cursing
because you couldn’t read their explanations!”

The young man evidently thought it too bad that he should be laughed at
for his ignorance, and then laughed at for trying to remove it. I had a
similar notion; and, remembering Mrs. Dean’s anecdote of his first
attempt at enlightening the darkness in which he had been reared, I
observed,—“But, Mrs. Heathcliff, we have each had a commencement, and
each stumbled and tottered on the threshold; had our teachers scorned
instead of aiding us, we should stumble and totter yet.”

“Oh!” she replied, “I don’t wish to limit his acquirements: still, he
has no right to appropriate what is mine, and make it ridiculous to me
with his vile mistakes and mispronunciations! Those books, both prose
and verse, are consecrated to me by other associations; and I hate to
have them debased and profaned in his mouth! Besides, of all, he has
selected my favourite pieces that I love the most to repeat, as if out
of deliberate malice.”

Hareton’s chest heaved in silence a minute: he laboured under a severe
sense of mortification and wrath, which it was no easy task to
suppress. I rose, and, from a gentlemanly idea of relieving his
embarrassment, took up my station in the doorway, surveying the
external prospect as I stood. He followed my example, and left the
room; but presently reappeared, bearing half a dozen volumes in his
hands, which he threw into Catherine’s lap, exclaiming,—“Take them! I
never want to hear, or read, or think of them again!”

“I won’t have them now,” she answered. “I shall connect them with you,
and hate them.”

She opened one that had obviously been often turned over, and read a
portion in the drawling tone of a beginner; then laughed, and threw it
from her. “And listen,” she continued, provokingly, commencing a verse
of an old ballad in the same fashion.

But his self-love would endure no further torment: I heard, and not
altogether disapprovingly, a manual check given to her saucy tongue.
The little wretch had done her utmost to hurt her cousin’s sensitive
though uncultivated feelings, and a physical argument was the only mode
he had of balancing the account, and repaying its effects on the
inflictor. He afterwards gathered the books and hurled them on the
fire. I read in his countenance what anguish it was to offer that
sacrifice to spleen. I fancied that as they consumed, he recalled the
pleasure they had already imparted, and the triumph and ever-increasing
pleasure he had anticipated from them; and I fancied I guessed the
incitement to his secret studies also. He had been content with daily
labour and rough animal enjoyments, till Catherine crossed his path.
Shame at her scorn, and hope of her approval, were his first prompters
to higher pursuits; and instead of guarding him from one and winning
him to the other, his endeavours to raise himself had produced just the
contrary result.

“Yes that’s all the good that such a brute as you can get from them!”
cried Catherine, sucking her damaged lip, and watching the
conflagration with indignant eyes.

“You’d _better_ hold your tongue, now,” he answered fiercely.

And his agitation precluded further speech; he advanced hastily to the
entrance, where I made way for him to pass. But ere he had crossed the
door-stones, Mr. Heathcliff, coming up the causeway, encountered him,
and laying hold of his shoulder asked,—“What’s to do now, my lad?”

“Naught, naught,” he said, and broke away to enjoy his grief and anger
in solitude.

Heathcliff gazed after him, and sighed.

“It will be odd if I thwart myself,” he muttered, unconscious that I
was behind him. “But when I look for his father in his face, I find
_her_ every day more! How the devil is he so like? I can hardly bear to
see him.”

He bent his eyes to the ground, and walked moodily in. There was a
restless, anxious expression in his countenance. I had never remarked
there before; and he looked sparer in person. His daughter-in-law, on
perceiving him through the window, immediately escaped to the kitchen,
so that I remained alone.

“I’m glad to see you out of doors again, Mr. Lockwood,” he said, in
reply to my greeting; “from selfish motives partly: I don’t think I
could readily supply your loss in this desolation. I’ve wondered more
than once what brought you here.”

“An idle whim, I fear, sir,” was my answer; “or else an idle whim is
going to spirit me away. I shall set out for London next week; and I
must give you warning that I feel no disposition to retain Thrushcross
Grange beyond the twelve months I agreed to rent it. I believe I shall
not live there any more.”

“Oh, indeed; you’re tired of being banished from the world, are you?”
he said. “But if you be coming to plead off paying for a place you
won’t occupy, your journey is useless: I never relent in exacting my
due from any one.”

“I’m coming to plead off nothing about it,” I exclaimed, considerably
irritated. “Should you wish it, I’ll settle with you now,” and I drew
my note-book from my pocket.

“No, no,” he replied, coolly; “you’ll leave sufficient behind to cover
your debts, if you fail to return: I’m not in such a hurry. Sit down
and take your dinner with us; a guest that is safe from repeating his
visit can generally be made welcome. Catherine! bring the things in:
where are you?”

Catherine reappeared, bearing a tray of knives and forks.

“You may get your dinner with Joseph,” muttered Heathcliff, aside, “and
remain in the kitchen till he is gone.”

She obeyed his directions very punctually: perhaps she had no
temptation to transgress. Living among clowns and misanthropists, she
probably cannot appreciate a better class of people when she meets
them.

With Mr. Heathcliff, grim and saturnine, on the one hand, and Hareton,
absolutely dumb, on the other, I made a somewhat cheerless meal, and
bade adieu early. I would have departed by the back way, to get a last
glimpse of Catherine and annoy old Joseph; but Hareton received orders
to lead up my horse, and my host himself escorted me to the door, so I
could not fulfil my wish.

“How dreary life gets over in that house!” I reflected, while riding
down the road. “What a realisation of something more romantic than a
fairy tale it would have been for Mrs. Linton Heathcliff, had she and I
struck up an attachment, as her good nurse desired, and migrated
together into the stirring atmosphere of the town!”



CHAPTER XXXII


1802.—This September I was invited to devastate the moors of a friend
in the north, and on my journey to his abode, I unexpectedly came
within fifteen miles of Gimmerton. The ostler at a roadside
public-house was holding a pail of water to refresh my horses, when a
cart of very green oats, newly reaped, passed by, and he
remarked,—“Yon’s frough Gimmerton, nah! They’re allas three wick’ after
other folk wi’ ther harvest.”

“Gimmerton?” I repeated—my residence in that locality had already grown
dim and dreamy. “Ah! I know. How far is it from this?”

“Happen fourteen mile o’er th’ hills; and a rough road,” he answered.

A sudden impulse seized me to visit Thrushcross Grange. It was scarcely
noon, and I conceived that I might as well pass the night under my own
roof as in an inn. Besides, I could spare a day easily to arrange
matters with my landlord, and thus save myself the trouble of invading
the neighbourhood again. Having rested awhile, I directed my servant to
inquire the way to the village; and, with great fatigue to our beasts,
we managed the distance in some three hours.

I left him there, and proceeded down the valley alone. The grey church
looked greyer, and the lonely churchyard lonelier. I distinguished a
moor-sheep cropping the short turf on the graves. It was sweet, warm
weather—too warm for travelling; but the heat did not hinder me from
enjoying the delightful scenery above and below: had I seen it nearer
August, I’m sure it would have tempted me to waste a month among its
solitudes. In winter nothing more dreary, in summer nothing more
divine, than those glens shut in by hills, and those bluff, bold swells
of heath.

I reached the Grange before sunset, and knocked for admittance; but the
family had retreated into the back premises, I judged, by one thin,
blue wreath, curling from the kitchen chimney, and they did not hear. I
rode into the court. Under the porch, a girl of nine or ten sat
knitting, and an old woman reclined on the housesteps, smoking a
meditative pipe.

“Is Mrs. Dean within?” I demanded of the dame.

“Mistress Dean? Nay!” she answered, “she doesn’t bide here: shoo’s up
at th’ Heights.”

“Are you the housekeeper, then?” I continued.

“Eea, aw keep th’ hause,” she replied.

“Well, I’m Mr. Lockwood, the master. Are there any rooms to lodge me
in, I wonder? I wish to stay all night.”

“T’ maister!” she cried in astonishment. “Whet, whoiver knew yah wur
coming? Yah sud ha’ send word. They’s nowt norther dry nor mensful
abaht t’ place: nowt there isn’t!”

She threw down her pipe and bustled in, the girl followed, and I
entered too; soon perceiving that her report was true, and, moreover,
that I had almost upset her wits by my unwelcome apparition, I bade her
be composed. I would go out for a walk; and, meantime she must try to
prepare a corner of a sitting-room for me to sup in, and a bedroom to
sleep in. No sweeping and dusting, only good fire and dry sheets were
necessary. She seemed willing to do her best; though she thrust the
hearth-brush into the grates in mistake for the poker, and
malappropriated several other articles of her craft: but I retired,
confiding in her energy for a resting-place against my return.
Wuthering Heights was the goal of my proposed excursion. An
afterthought brought me back, when I had quitted the court.

“All well at the Heights?” I inquired of the woman.

“Eea, f’r owt ee knaw!” she answered, skurrying away with a pan of hot
cinders.

I would have asked why Mrs. Dean had deserted the Grange, but it was
impossible to delay her at such a crisis, so I turned away and made my
exit, rambling leisurely along, with the glow of a sinking sun behind,
and the mild glory of a rising moon in front—one fading, and the other
brightening—as I quitted the park, and climbed the stony by-road
branching off to Mr. Heathcliff’s dwelling. Before I arrived in sight
of it, all that remained of day was a beamless amber light along the
west: but I could see every pebble on the path, and every blade of
grass, by that splendid moon. I had neither to climb the gate nor to
knock—it yielded to my hand. That is an improvement, I thought. And I
noticed another, by the aid of my nostrils; a fragrance of stocks and
wallflowers wafted on the air from amongst the homely fruit-trees.

Both doors and lattices were open; and yet, as is usually the case in a
coal-district, a fine red fire illumined the chimney: the comfort which
the eye derives from it renders the extra heat endurable. But the house
of Wuthering Heights is so large that the inmates have plenty of space
for withdrawing out of its influence; and accordingly what inmates
there were had stationed themselves not far from one of the windows. I
could both see them and hear them talk before I entered, and looked and
listened in consequence; being moved thereto by a mingled sense of
curiosity and envy, that grew as I lingered.

“Con-_trary_!” said a voice as sweet as a silver bell. “That for the
third time, you dunce! I’m not going to tell you again. Recollect, or
I’ll pull your hair!”

“Contrary, then,” answered another, in deep but softened tones. “And
now, kiss me, for minding so well.”

“No, read it over first correctly, without a single mistake.”

The male speaker began to read: he was a young man, respectably dressed
and seated at a table, having a book before him. His handsome features
glowed with pleasure, and his eyes kept impatiently wandering from the
page to a small white hand over his shoulder, which recalled him by a
smart slap on the cheek, whenever its owner detected such signs of
inattention. Its owner stood behind; her light, shining ringlets
blending, at intervals, with his brown looks, as she bent to
superintend his studies; and her face—it was lucky he could not see her
face, or he would never have been so steady. I could; and I bit my lip
in spite, at having thrown away the chance I might have had of doing
something besides staring at its smiting beauty.

The task was done, not free from further blunders; but the pupil
claimed a reward, and received at least five kisses; which, however, he
generously returned. Then they came to the door, and from their
conversation I judged they were about to issue out and have a walk on
the moors. I supposed I should be condemned in Hareton Earnshaw’s
heart, if not by his mouth, to the lowest pit in the infernal regions
if I showed my unfortunate person in his neighbourhood then; and
feeling very mean and malignant, I skulked round to seek refuge in the
kitchen. There was unobstructed admittance on that side also; and at
the door sat my old friend Nelly Dean, sewing and singing a song; which
was often interrupted from within by harsh words of scorn and
intolerance, uttered in far from musical accents.

“I’d rayther, by th’ haulf, hev’ ’em swearing i’ my lugs fro’h morn to
neeght, nor hearken ye hahsiver!” said the tenant of the kitchen, in
answer to an unheard speech of Nelly’s. “It’s a blazing shame, that I
cannot oppen t’ blessed Book, but yah set up them glories to sattan,
and all t’ flaysome wickednesses that iver were born into th’ warld!
Oh! ye’re a raight nowt; and shoo’s another; and that poor lad ’ll be
lost atween ye. Poor lad!” he added, with a groan; “he’s witched: I’m
sartin on’t. Oh, Lord, judge ’em, for there’s norther law nor justice
among wer rullers!”

“No! or we should be sitting in flaming fagots, I suppose,” retorted
the singer. “But wisht, old man, and read your Bible like a Christian,
and never mind me. This is ‘Fairy Annie’s Wedding’—a bonny tune—it goes
to a dance.”

Mrs. Dean was about to recommence, when I advanced; and recognising me
directly, she jumped to her feet, crying—“Why, bless you, Mr. Lockwood!
How could you think of returning in this way? All’s shut up at
Thrushcross Grange. You should have given us notice!”

“I’ve arranged to be accommodated there, for as long as I shall stay,”
I answered. “I depart again to-morrow. And how are you transplanted
here, Mrs. Dean? tell me that.”

“Zillah left, and Mr. Heathcliff wished me to come, soon after you went
to London, and stay till you returned. But, step in, pray! Have you
walked from Gimmerton this evening?”

“From the Grange,” I replied; “and while they make me lodging room
there, I want to finish my business with your master; because I don’t
think of having another opportunity in a hurry.”

“What business, sir?” said Nelly, conducting me into the house. “He’s
gone out at present, and won’t return soon.”

“About the rent,” I answered.

“Oh! then it is with Mrs. Heathcliff you must settle,” she observed;
“or rather with me. She has not learnt to manage her affairs yet, and I
act for her: there’s nobody else.”

I looked surprised.

“Ah! you have not heard of Heathcliff’s death, I see,” she continued.

“Heathcliff dead!” I exclaimed, astonished. “How long ago?”

“Three months since: but sit down, and let me take your hat, and I’ll
tell you all about it. Stop, you have had nothing to eat, have you?”

“I want nothing: I have ordered supper at home. You sit down too. I
never dreamt of his dying! Let me hear how it came to pass. You say you
don’t expect them back for some time—the young people?”

“No—I have to scold them every evening for their late rambles: but they
don’t care for me. At least, have a drink of our old ale; it will do
you good: you seem weary.”

She hastened to fetch it before I could refuse, and I heard Joseph
asking whether “it warn’t a crying scandal that she should have
followers at her time of life? And then, to get them jocks out o’ t’
maister’s cellar! He fair shaamed to ’bide still and see it.”

She did not stay to retaliate, but re-entered in a minute, bearing a
reaming silver pint, whose contents I lauded with becoming earnestness.
And afterwards she furnished me with the sequel of Heathcliff’s
history. He had a “queer” end, as she expressed it.

I was summoned to Wuthering Heights, within a fortnight of your leaving
us, she said; and I obeyed joyfully, for Catherine’s sake. My first
interview with her grieved and shocked me: she had altered so much
since our separation. Mr. Heathcliff did not explain his reasons for
taking a new mind about my coming here; he only told me he wanted me,
and he was tired of seeing Catherine: I must make the little parlour my
sitting-room, and keep her with me. It was enough if he were obliged to
see her once or twice a day. She seemed pleased at this arrangement;
and, by degrees, I smuggled over a great number of books, and other
articles, that had formed her amusement at the Grange; and flattered
myself we should get on in tolerable comfort. The delusion did not last
long. Catherine, contented at first, in a brief space grew irritable
and restless. For one thing, she was forbidden to move out of the
garden, and it fretted her sadly to be confined to its narrow bounds as
spring drew on; for another, in following the house, I was forced to
quit her frequently, and she complained of loneliness: she preferred
quarrelling with Joseph in the kitchen to sitting at peace in her
solitude. I did not mind their skirmishes: but Hareton was often
obliged to seek the kitchen also, when the master wanted to have the
house to himself! and though in the beginning she either left it at his
approach, or quietly joined in my occupations, and shunned remarking or
addressing him—and though he was always as sullen and silent as
possible—after a while, she changed her behaviour, and became incapable
of letting him alone: talking at him; commenting on his stupidity and
idleness; expressing her wonder how he could endure the life he
lived—how he could sit a whole evening staring into the fire, and
dozing.

“He’s just like a dog, is he not, Ellen?” she once observed, “or a
cart-horse? He does his work, eats his food, and sleeps eternally! What
a blank, dreary mind he must have! Do you ever dream, Hareton? And, if
you do, what is it about? But you can’t speak to me!”

Then she looked at him; but he would neither open his mouth nor look
again.

“He’s, perhaps, dreaming now,” she continued. “He twitched his shoulder
as Juno twitches hers. Ask him, Ellen.”

“Mr. Hareton will ask the master to send you upstairs, if you don’t
behave!” I said. He had not only twitched his shoulder but clenched his
fist, as if tempted to use it.

“I know why Hareton never speaks, when I am in the kitchen,” she
exclaimed, on another occasion. “He is afraid I shall laugh at him.
Ellen, what do you think? He began to teach himself to read once; and,
because I laughed, he burned his books, and dropped it: was he not a
fool?”

“Were not you naughty?” I said; “answer me that.”

“Perhaps I was,” she went on; “but I did not expect him to be so silly.
Hareton, if I gave you a book, would you take it now? I’ll try!”

She placed one she had been perusing on his hand; he flung it off, and
muttered, if she did not give over, he would break her neck.

“Well, I shall put it here,” she said, “in the table-drawer; and I’m
going to bed.”

Then she whispered me to watch whether he touched it, and departed. But
he would not come near it; and so I informed her in the morning, to her
great disappointment. I saw she was sorry for his persevering sulkiness
and indolence: her conscience reproved her for frightening him off
improving himself: she had done it effectually. But her ingenuity was
at work to remedy the injury: while I ironed, or pursued other such
stationary employments as I could not well do in the parlour, she would
bring some pleasant volume and read it aloud to me. When Hareton was
there, she generally paused in an interesting part, and left the book
lying about: that she did repeatedly; but he was as obstinate as a
mule, and, instead of snatching at her bait, in wet weather he took to
smoking with Joseph; and they sat like automatons, one on each side of
the fire, the elder happily too deaf to understand her wicked nonsense,
as he would have called it, the younger doing his best to seem to
disregard it. On fine evenings the latter followed his shooting
expeditions, and Catherine yawned and sighed, and teased me to talk to
her, and ran off into the court or garden the moment I began; and, as a
last resource, cried, and said she was tired of living: her life was
useless.

Mr. Heathcliff, who grew more and more disinclined to society, had
almost banished Earnshaw from his apartment. Owing to an accident at
the commencement of March, he became for some days a fixture in the
kitchen. His gun burst while out on the hills by himself; a splinter
cut his arm, and he lost a good deal of blood before he could reach
home. The consequence was that, perforce, he was condemned to the
fireside and tranquillity, till he made it up again. It suited
Catherine to have him there: at any rate, it made her hate her room
upstairs more than ever: and she would compel me to find out business
below, that she might accompany me.

On Easter Monday, Joseph went to Gimmerton fair with some cattle; and,
in the afternoon, I was busy getting up linen in the kitchen. Earnshaw
sat, morose as usual, at the chimney corner, and my little mistress was
beguiling an idle hour with drawing pictures on the window-panes,
varying her amusement by smothered bursts of songs, and whispered
ejaculations, and quick glances of annoyance and impatience in the
direction of her cousin, who steadfastly smoked, and looked into the
grate. At a notice that I could do with her no longer intercepting my
light, she removed to the hearthstone. I bestowed little attention on
her proceedings, but, presently, I heard her begin—“I’ve found out,
Hareton, that I want—that I’m glad—that I should like you to be my
cousin now, if you had not grown so cross to me, and so rough.”

Hareton returned no answer.

“Hareton, Hareton, Hareton! do you hear?” she continued.

“Get off wi’ ye!” he growled, with uncompromising gruffness.

“Let me take that pipe,” she said, cautiously advancing her hand and
abstracting it from his mouth.

Before he could attempt to recover it, it was broken, and behind the
fire. He swore at her and seized another.

“Stop,” she cried, “you must listen to me first; and I can’t speak
while those clouds are floating in my face.”

“Will you go to the devil!” he exclaimed, ferociously, “and let me be!”

“No,” she persisted, “I won’t: I can’t tell what to do to make you talk
to me; and you are determined not to understand. When I call you
stupid, I don’t mean anything: I don’t mean that I despise you. Come,
you shall take notice of me, Hareton: you are my cousin, and you shall
own me.”

“I shall have naught to do wi’ you and your mucky pride, and your
damned mocking tricks!” he answered. “I’ll go to hell, body and soul,
before I look sideways after you again. Side out o’ t’ gate, now, this
minute!”

Catherine frowned, and retreated to the window-seat chewing her lip,
and endeavouring, by humming an eccentric tune, to conceal a growing
tendency to sob.

“You should be friends with your cousin, Mr. Hareton,” I interrupted,
“since she repents of her sauciness. It would do you a great deal of
good: it would make you another man to have her for a companion.”

“A companion!” he cried; “when she hates me, and does not think me fit
to wipe her shoon! Nay, if it made me a king, I’d not be scorned for
seeking her good-will any more.”

“It is not I who hate you, it is you who hate me!” wept Cathy, no
longer disguising her trouble. “You hate me as much as Mr. Heathcliff
does, and more.”

“You’re a damned liar,” began Earnshaw: “why have I made him angry, by
taking your part, then, a hundred times? and that when you sneered at
and despised me, and—Go on plaguing me, and I’ll step in yonder, and
say you worried me out of the kitchen!”

“I didn’t know you took my part,” she answered, drying her eyes; “and I
was miserable and bitter at everybody; but now I thank you, and beg you
to forgive me: what can I do besides?”

She returned to the hearth, and frankly extended her hand. He blackened
and scowled like a thunder-cloud, and kept his fists resolutely
clenched, and his gaze fixed on the ground. Catherine, by instinct,
must have divined it was obdurate perversity, and not dislike, that
prompted this dogged conduct; for, after remaining an instant
undecided, she stooped and impressed on his cheek a gentle kiss. The
little rogue thought I had not seen her, and, drawing back, she took
her former station by the window, quite demurely. I shook my head
reprovingly, and then she blushed and whispered—“Well! what should I
have done, Ellen? He wouldn’t shake hands, and he wouldn’t look: I must
show him some way that I like him—that I want to be friends.”

Whether the kiss convinced Hareton, I cannot tell: he was very careful,
for some minutes, that his face should not be seen, and when he did
raise it, he was sadly puzzled where to turn his eyes.

Catherine employed herself in wrapping a handsome book neatly in white
paper, and having tied it with a bit of ribbon, and addressed it to
“Mr. Hareton Earnshaw,” she desired me to be her ambassadress, and
convey the present to its destined recipient.

“And tell him, if he’ll take it, I’ll come and teach him to read it
right,” she said; “and, if he refuse it, I’ll go upstairs, and never
tease him again.”

I carried it, and repeated the message; anxiously watched by my
employer. Hareton would not open his fingers, so I laid it on his knee.
He did not strike it off, either. I returned to my work. Catherine
leaned her head and arms on the table, till she heard the slight rustle
of the covering being removed; then she stole away, and quietly seated
herself beside her cousin. He trembled, and his face glowed: all his
rudeness and all his surly harshness had deserted him: he could not
summon courage, at first, to utter a syllable in reply to her
questioning look, and her murmured petition.

“Say you forgive me, Hareton, do. You can make me so happy by speaking
that little word.”

He muttered something inaudible.

“And you’ll be my friend?” added Catherine, interrogatively.

“Nay, you’ll be ashamed of me every day of your life,” he answered;
“and the more ashamed, the more you know me; and I cannot bide it.”

“So you won’t be my friend?” she said, smiling as sweet as honey, and
creeping close up.

I overheard no further distinguishable talk, but, on looking round
again, I perceived two such radiant countenances bent over the page of
the accepted book, that I did not doubt the treaty had been ratified on
both sides; and the enemies were, thenceforth, sworn allies.

The work they studied was full of costly pictures; and those and their
position had charm enough to keep them unmoved till Joseph came home.
He, poor man, was perfectly aghast at the spectacle of Catherine seated
on the same bench with Hareton Earnshaw, leaning her hand on his
shoulder; and confounded at his favourite’s endurance of her proximity:
it affected him too deeply to allow an observation on the subject that
night. His emotion was only revealed by the immense sighs he drew, as
he solemnly spread his large Bible on the table, and overlaid it with
dirty bank-notes from his pocket-book, the produce of the day’s
transactions. At length he summoned Hareton from his seat.

“Tak’ these in to t’ maister, lad,” he said, “and bide there. I’s gang
up to my own rahm. This hoile’s neither mensful nor seemly for us: we
mun side out and seearch another.”

“Come, Catherine,” I said, “we must ‘side out’ too: I’ve done my
ironing. Are you ready to go?”

“It is not eight o’clock!” she answered, rising unwillingly.

“Hareton, I’ll leave this book upon the chimney-piece, and I’ll bring
some more to-morrow.”

“Ony books that yah leave, I shall tak’ into th’ hahse,” said Joseph,
“and it’ll be mitch if yah find ’em agean; soa, yah may plase yerseln!”

Cathy threatened that his library should pay for hers; and, smiling as
she passed Hareton, went singing upstairs: lighter of heart, I venture
to say, than ever she had been under that roof before; except, perhaps,
during her earliest visits to Linton.

The intimacy thus commenced grew rapidly; though it encountered
temporary interruptions. Earnshaw was not to be civilized with a wish,
and my young lady was no philosopher, and no paragon of patience; but
both their minds tending to the same point—one loving and desiring to
esteem, and the other loving and desiring to be esteemed—they contrived
in the end to reach it.

You see, Mr. Lockwood, it was easy enough to win Mrs. Heathcliff’s
heart. But now, I’m glad you did not try. The crown of all my wishes
will be the union of those two. I shall envy no one on their wedding
day: there won’t be a happier woman than myself in England!



CHAPTER XXXIII


On the morrow of that Monday, Earnshaw being still unable to follow his
ordinary employments, and therefore remaining about the house, I
speedily found it would be impracticable to retain my charge beside me,
as heretofore. She got downstairs before me, and out into the garden,
where she had seen her cousin performing some easy work; and when I
went to bid them come to breakfast, I saw she had persuaded him to
clear a large space of ground from currant and gooseberry bushes, and
they were busy planning together an importation of plants from the
Grange.

I was terrified at the devastation which had been accomplished in a
brief half-hour; the black-currant trees were the apple of Joseph’s
eye, and she had just fixed her choice of a flower-bed in the midst of
them.

“There! That will be all shown to the master,” I exclaimed, “the minute
it is discovered. And what excuse have you to offer for taking such
liberties with the garden? We shall have a fine explosion on the head
of it: see if we don’t! Mr. Hareton, I wonder you should have no more
wit than to go and make that mess at her bidding!”

“I’d forgotten they were Joseph’s,” answered Earnshaw, rather puzzled;
“but I’ll tell him I did it.”

We always ate our meals with Mr. Heathcliff. I held the mistress’s post
in making tea and carving; so I was indispensable at table. Catherine
usually sat by me, but to-day she stole nearer to Hareton; and I
presently saw she would have no more discretion in her friendship than
she had in her hostility.

“Now, mind you don’t talk with and notice your cousin too much,” were
my whispered instructions as we entered the room. “It will certainly
annoy Mr. Heathcliff, and he’ll be mad at you both.”

“I’m not going to,” she answered.

The minute after, she had sidled to him, and was sticking primroses in
his plate of porridge.

He dared not speak to her there: he dared hardly look; and yet she went
on teasing, till he was twice on the point of being provoked to laugh.
I frowned, and then she glanced towards the master: whose mind was
occupied on other subjects than his company, as his countenance
evinced; and she grew serious for an instant, scrutinizing him with
deep gravity. Afterwards she turned, and recommenced her nonsense; at
last, Hareton uttered a smothered laugh. Mr. Heathcliff started; his
eye rapidly surveyed our faces, Catherine met it with her accustomed
look of nervousness and yet defiance, which he abhorred.

“It is well you are out of my reach,” he exclaimed. “What fiend
possesses you to stare back at me, continually, with those infernal
eyes? Down with them! and don’t remind me of your existence again. I
thought I had cured you of laughing.”

“It was me,” muttered Hareton.

“What do you say?” demanded the master.

Hareton looked at his plate, and did not repeat the confession. Mr.
Heathcliff looked at him a bit, and then silently resumed his breakfast
and his interrupted musing. We had nearly finished, and the two young
people prudently shifted wider asunder, so I anticipated no further
disturbance during that sitting: when Joseph appeared at the door,
revealing by his quivering lip and furious eyes that the outrage
committed on his precious shrubs was detected. He must have seen Cathy
and her cousin about the spot before he examined it, for while his jaws
worked like those of a cow chewing its cud, and rendered his speech
difficult to understand, he began:—

“I mun hev’ my wage, and I mun goa! I _hed_ aimed to dee wheare I’d
sarved fur sixty year; and I thowt I’d lug my books up into t’ garret,
and all my bits o’ stuff, and they sud hev’ t’ kitchen to theirseln;
for t’ sake o’ quietness. It wur hard to gie up my awn hearthstun, but
I thowt I _could_ do that! But nah, shoo’s taan my garden fro’ me, and
by th’ heart, maister, I cannot stand it! Yah may bend to th’ yoak an
ye will—I noan used to ’t, and an old man doesn’t sooin get used to new
barthens. I’d rayther arn my bite an’ my sup wi’ a hammer in th’ road!”

“Now, now, idiot!” interrupted Heathcliff, “cut it short! What’s your
grievance? I’ll interfere in no quarrels between you and Nelly. She may
thrust you into the coal-hole for anything I care.”

“It’s noan Nelly!” answered Joseph. “I sudn’t shift for Nelly—nasty ill
nowt as shoo is. Thank God! _shoo_ cannot stale t’ sowl o’ nob’dy! Shoo
wer niver soa handsome, but what a body mud look at her ’bout winking.
It’s yon flaysome, graceless quean, that’s witched our lad, wi’ her
bold een and her forrard ways—till—Nay! it fair brusts my heart! He’s
forgotten all I’ve done for him, and made on him, and goan and riven up
a whole row o’ t’ grandest currant-trees i’ t’ garden!” and here he
lamented outright; unmanned by a sense of his bitter injuries, and
Earnshaw’s ingratitude and dangerous condition.

“Is the fool drunk?” asked Mr. Heathcliff. “Hareton, is it you he’s
finding fault with?”

“I’ve pulled up two or three bushes,” replied the young man; “but I’m
going to set ’em again.”

“And why have you pulled them up?” said the master.

Catherine wisely put in her tongue.

“We wanted to plant some flowers there,” she cried. “I’m the only
person to blame, for I wished him to do it.”

“And who the devil gave _you_ leave to touch a stick about the place?”
demanded her father-in-law, much surprised. “And who ordered _you_ to
obey her?” he added, turning to Hareton.

The latter was speechless; his cousin replied—“You shouldn’t grudge a
few yards of earth for me to ornament, when you have taken all my
land!”

“Your land, insolent slut! You never had any,” said Heathcliff.

“And my money,” she continued; returning his angry glare, and meantime
biting a piece of crust, the remnant of her breakfast.

“Silence!” he exclaimed. “Get done, and begone!”

“And Hareton’s land, and his money,” pursued the reckless thing.
“Hareton and I are friends now; and I shall tell him all about you!”

The master seemed confounded a moment: he grew pale, and rose up,
eyeing her all the while, with an expression of mortal hate.

“If you strike me, Hareton will strike you,” she said; “so you may as
well sit down.”

“If Hareton does not turn you out of the room, I’ll strike him to
hell,” thundered Heathcliff. “Damnable witch! dare you pretend to rouse
him against me? Off with her! Do you hear? Fling her into the kitchen!
I’ll kill her, Ellen Dean, if you let her come into my sight again!”

Hareton tried, under his breath, to persuade her to go.

“Drag her away!” he cried, savagely. “Are you staying to talk?” And he
approached to execute his own command.

“He’ll not obey you, wicked man, any more,” said Catherine; “and he’ll
soon detest you as much as I do.”

“Wisht! wisht!” muttered the young man, reproachfully; “I will not hear
you speak so to him. Have done.”

“But you won’t let him strike me?” she cried.

“Come, then,” he whispered earnestly.

It was too late: Heathcliff had caught hold of her.

“Now, _you_ go!” he said to Earnshaw. “Accursed witch! this time she
has provoked me when I could not bear it; and I’ll make her repent it
for ever!”

He had his hand in her hair; Hareton attempted to release her locks,
entreating him not to hurt her that once. Heathcliff’s black eyes
flashed; he seemed ready to tear Catherine in pieces, and I was just
worked up to risk coming to the rescue, when of a sudden his fingers
relaxed; he shifted his grasp from her head to her arm, and gazed
intently in her face. Then he drew his hand over his eyes, stood a
moment to collect himself apparently, and turning anew to Catherine,
said, with assumed calmness—“You must learn to avoid putting me in a
passion, or I shall really murder you some time! Go with Mrs. Dean, and
keep with her; and confine your insolence to her ears. As to Hareton
Earnshaw, if I see him listen to you, I’ll send him seeking his bread
where he can get it! Your love will make him an outcast and a beggar.
Nelly, take her; and leave me, all of you! Leave me!”

I led my young lady out: she was too glad of her escape to resist; the
other followed, and Mr. Heathcliff had the room to himself till dinner.
I had counselled Catherine to dine upstairs; but, as soon as he
perceived her vacant seat, he sent me to call her. He spoke to none of
us, ate very little, and went out directly afterwards, intimating that
he should not return before evening.

The two new friends established themselves in the house during his
absence; where I heard Hareton sternly check his cousin, on her
offering a revelation of her father-in-law’s conduct to his father. He
said he wouldn’t suffer a word to be uttered in his disparagement: if
he were the devil, it didn’t signify; he would stand by him; and he’d
rather she would abuse himself, as she used to, than begin on Mr.
Heathcliff. Catherine was waxing cross at this; but he found means to
make her hold her tongue, by asking how she would like _him_ to speak
ill of her father? Then she comprehended that Earnshaw took the
master’s reputation home to himself; and was attached by ties stronger
than reason could break—chains, forged by habit, which it would be
cruel to attempt to loosen. She showed a good heart, thenceforth, in
avoiding both complaints and expressions of antipathy concerning
Heathcliff; and confessed to me her sorrow that she had endeavoured to
raise a bad spirit between him and Hareton: indeed, I don’t believe she
has ever breathed a syllable, in the latter’s hearing, against her
oppressor since.

When this slight disagreement was over, they were friends again, and as
busy as possible in their several occupations of pupil and teacher. I
came in to sit with them, after I had done my work; and I felt so
soothed and comforted to watch them, that I did not notice how time got
on. You know, they both appeared in a measure my children: I had long
been proud of one; and now, I was sure, the other would be a source of
equal satisfaction. His honest, warm, and intelligent nature shook off
rapidly the clouds of ignorance and degradation in which it had been
bred; and Catherine’s sincere commendations acted as a spur to his
industry. His brightening mind brightened his features, and added
spirit and nobility to their aspect: I could hardly fancy it the same
individual I had beheld on the day I discovered my little lady at
Wuthering Heights, after her expedition to the Crags. While I admired
and they laboured, dusk drew on, and with it returned the master. He
came upon us quite unexpectedly, entering by the front way, and had a
full view of the whole three, ere we could raise our heads to glance at
him. Well, I reflected, there was never a pleasanter, or more harmless
sight; and it will be a burning shame to scold them. The red fire-light
glowed on their two bonny heads, and revealed their faces animated with
the eager interest of children; for, though he was twenty-three and she
eighteen, each had so much of novelty to feel and learn, that neither
experienced nor evinced the sentiments of sober disenchanted maturity.

They lifted their eyes together, to encounter Mr. Heathcliff: perhaps
you have never remarked that their eyes are precisely similar, and they
are those of Catherine Earnshaw. The present Catherine has no other
likeness to her, except a breadth of forehead, and a certain arch of
the nostril that makes her appear rather haughty, whether she will or
not. With Hareton the resemblance is carried farther: it is singular at
all times, _then_ it was particularly striking; because his senses were
alert, and his mental faculties wakened to unwonted activity. I suppose
this resemblance disarmed Mr. Heathcliff: he walked to the hearth in
evident agitation; but it quickly subsided as he looked at the young
man: or, I should say, altered its character; for it was there yet. He
took the book from his hand, and glanced at the open page, then
returned it without any observation; merely signing Catherine away: her
companion lingered very little behind her, and I was about to depart
also, but he bid me sit still.

“It is a poor conclusion, is it not?” he observed, having brooded
awhile on the scene he had just witnessed: “an absurd termination to my
violent exertions? I get levers and mattocks to demolish the two
houses, and train myself to be capable of working like Hercules, and
when everything is ready and in my power, I find the will to lift a
slate off either roof has vanished! My old enemies have not beaten me;
now would be the precise time to revenge myself on their
representatives: I could do it; and none could hinder me. But where is
the use? I don’t care for striking: I can’t take the trouble to raise
my hand! That sounds as if I had been labouring the whole time only to
exhibit a fine trait of magnanimity. It is far from being the case: I
have lost the faculty of enjoying their destruction, and I am too idle
to destroy for nothing.

“Nelly, there is a strange change approaching; I’m in its shadow at
present. I take so little interest in my daily life that I hardly
remember to eat and drink. Those two who have left the room are the
only objects which retain a distinct material appearance to me; and
that appearance causes me pain, amounting to agony. About _her_ I won’t
speak; and I don’t desire to think; but I earnestly wish she were
invisible: her presence invokes only maddening sensations. _He_ moves
me differently: and yet if I could do it without seeming insane, I’d
never see him again! You’ll perhaps think me rather inclined to become
so,” he added, making an effort to smile, “if I try to describe the
thousand forms of past associations and ideas he awakens or embodies.
But you’ll not talk of what I tell you; and my mind is so eternally
secluded in itself, it is tempting at last to turn it out to another.

“Five minutes ago Hareton seemed a personification of my youth, not a
human being; I felt to him in such a variety of ways, that it would
have been impossible to have accosted him rationally. In the first
place, his startling likeness to Catherine connected him fearfully with
her. That, however, which you may suppose the most potent to arrest my
imagination, is actually the least: for what is not connected with her
to me? and what does not recall her? I cannot look down to this floor,
but her features are shaped in the flags! In every cloud, in every
tree—filling the air at night, and caught by glimpses in every object
by day—I am surrounded with her image! The most ordinary faces of men
and women—my own features—mock me with a resemblance. The entire world
is a dreadful collection of memoranda that she did exist, and that I
have lost her! Well, Hareton’s aspect was the ghost of my immortal
love; of my wild endeavours to hold my right; my degradation, my pride,
my happiness, and my anguish—

“But it is frenzy to repeat these thoughts to you: only it will let you
know why, with a reluctance to be always alone, his society is no
benefit; rather an aggravation of the constant torment I suffer: and it
partly contributes to render me regardless how he and his cousin go on
together. I can give them no attention any more.”

“But what do you mean by a _change_, Mr. Heathcliff?” I said, alarmed
at his manner: though he was neither in danger of losing his senses,
nor dying, according to my judgment: he was quite strong and healthy;
and, as to his reason, from childhood he had a delight in dwelling on
dark things, and entertaining odd fancies. He might have had a
monomania on the subject of his departed idol; but on every other point
his wits were as sound as mine.

“I shall not know that till it comes,” he said; “I’m only half
conscious of it now.”

“You have no feeling of illness, have you?” I asked.

“No, Nelly, I have not,” he answered.

“Then you are not afraid of death?” I pursued.

“Afraid? No!” he replied. “I have neither a fear, nor a presentiment,
nor a hope of death. Why should I? With my hard constitution and
temperate mode of living, and unperilous occupations, I ought to, and
probably _shall_, remain above ground till there is scarcely a black
hair on my head. And yet I cannot continue in this condition! I have to
remind myself to breathe—almost to remind my heart to beat! And it is
like bending back a stiff spring: it is by compulsion that I do the
slightest act not prompted by one thought; and by compulsion that I
notice anything alive or dead, which is not associated with one
universal idea. I have a single wish, and my whole being and faculties
are yearning to attain it. They have yearned towards it so long, and so
unwaveringly, that I’m convinced it will be reached—and soon—because it
has devoured my existence: I am swallowed up in the anticipation of its
fulfilment. My confessions have not relieved me; but they may account
for some otherwise unaccountable phases of humour which I show. O God!
It is a long fight; I wish it were over!”

He began to pace the room, muttering terrible things to himself, till I
was inclined to believe, as he said Joseph did, that conscience had
turned his heart to an earthly hell. I wondered greatly how it would
end. Though he seldom before had revealed this state of mind, even by
looks, it was his habitual mood, I had no doubt: he asserted it
himself; but not a soul, from his general bearing, would have
conjectured the fact. You did not when you saw him, Mr. Lockwood: and
at the period of which I speak, he was just the same as then; only
fonder of continued solitude, and perhaps still more laconic in
company.



CHAPTER XXXIV


For some days after that evening Mr. Heathcliff shunned meeting us at
meals; yet he would not consent formally to exclude Hareton and Cathy.
He had an aversion to yielding so completely to his feelings, choosing
rather to absent himself; and eating once in twenty-four hours seemed
sufficient sustenance for him.

One night, after the family were in bed, I heard him go downstairs, and
out at the front door. I did not hear him re-enter, and in the morning
I found he was still away. We were in April then: the weather was sweet
and warm, the grass as green as showers and sun could make it, and the
two dwarf apple-trees near the southern wall in full bloom. After
breakfast, Catherine insisted on my bringing a chair and sitting with
my work under the fir-trees at the end of the house; and she beguiled
Hareton, who had perfectly recovered from his accident, to dig and
arrange her little garden, which was shifted to that corner by the
influence of Joseph’s complaints. I was comfortably revelling in the
spring fragrance around, and the beautiful soft blue overhead, when my
young lady, who had run down near the gate to procure some primrose
roots for a border, returned only half laden, and informed us that Mr.
Heathcliff was coming in. “And he spoke to me,” she added, with a
perplexed countenance.

“What did he say?” asked Hareton.

“He told me to begone as fast as I could,” she answered. “But he looked
so different from his usual look that I stopped a moment to stare at
him.”

“How?” he inquired.

“Why, almost bright and cheerful. No, _almost_ nothing—_very much_
excited, and wild, and glad!” she replied.

“Night-walking amuses him, then,” I remarked, affecting a careless
manner: in reality as surprised as she was, and anxious to ascertain
the truth of her statement; for to see the master looking glad would
not be an every-day spectacle. I framed an excuse to go in. Heathcliff
stood at the open door; he was pale, and he trembled: yet, certainly,
he had a strange joyful glitter in his eyes, that altered the aspect of
his whole face.

“Will you have some breakfast?” I said. “You must be hungry, rambling
about all night!” I wanted to discover where he had been, but I did not
like to ask directly.

“No, I’m not hungry,” he answered, averting his head, and speaking
rather contemptuously, as if he guessed I was trying to divine the
occasion of his good humour.

I felt perplexed: I didn’t know whether it were not a proper
opportunity to offer a bit of admonition.

“I don’t think it right to wander out of doors,” I observed, “instead
of being in bed: it is not wise, at any rate this moist season. I
daresay you’ll catch a bad cold or a fever: you have something the
matter with you now!”

“Nothing but what I can bear,” he replied; “and with the greatest
pleasure, provided you’ll leave me alone: get in, and don’t annoy me.”

I obeyed: and, in passing, I noticed he breathed as fast as a cat.

“Yes!” I reflected to myself, “we shall have a fit of illness. I cannot
conceive what he has been doing.”

That noon he sat down to dinner with us, and received a heaped-up plate
from my hands, as if he intended to make amends for previous fasting.

“I’ve neither cold nor fever, Nelly,” he remarked, in allusion to my
morning’s speech; “and I’m ready to do justice to the food you give
me.”

He took his knife and fork, and was going to commence eating, when the
inclination appeared to become suddenly extinct. He laid them on the
table, looked eagerly towards the window, then rose and went out. We
saw him walking to and fro in the garden while we concluded our meal,
and Earnshaw said he’d go and ask why he would not dine: he thought we
had grieved him some way.

“Well, is he coming?” cried Catherine, when her cousin returned.

“Nay,” he answered; “but he’s not angry: he seemed rarely pleased
indeed; only I made him impatient by speaking to him twice; and then he
bid me be off to you: he wondered how I could want the company of
anybody else.”

I set his plate to keep warm on the fender; and after an hour or two he
re-entered, when the room was clear, in no degree calmer: the same
unnatural—it was unnatural—appearance of joy under his black brows; the
same bloodless hue, and his teeth visible, now and then, in a kind of
smile; his frame shivering, not as one shivers with chill or weakness,
but as a tight-stretched cord vibrates—a strong thrilling, rather than
trembling.

I will ask what is the matter, I thought; or who should? And I
exclaimed—“Have you heard any good news, Mr. Heathcliff? You look
uncommonly animated.”

“Where should good news come from to me?” he said. “I’m animated with
hunger; and, seemingly, I must not eat.”

“Your dinner is here,” I returned; “why won’t you get it?”

“I don’t want it now,” he muttered, hastily: “I’ll wait till supper.
And, Nelly, once for all, let me beg you to warn Hareton and the other
away from me. I wish to be troubled by nobody: I wish to have this
place to myself.”

“Is there some new reason for this banishment?” I inquired. “Tell me
why you are so queer, Mr. Heathcliff? Where were you last night? I’m
not putting the question through idle curiosity, but—”

“You are putting the question through very idle curiosity,” he
interrupted, with a laugh. “Yet I’ll answer it. Last night I was on the
threshold of hell. To-day, I am within sight of my heaven. I have my
eyes on it: hardly three feet to sever me! And now you’d better go!
You’ll neither see nor hear anything to frighten you, if you refrain
from prying.”

Having swept the hearth and wiped the table, I departed; more perplexed
than ever.

He did not quit the house again that afternoon, and no one intruded on
his solitude; till, at eight o’clock, I deemed it proper, though
unsummoned, to carry a candle and his supper to him. He was leaning
against the ledge of an open lattice, but not looking out: his face was
turned to the interior gloom. The fire had smouldered to ashes; the
room was filled with the damp, mild air of the cloudy evening; and so
still, that not only the murmur of the beck down Gimmerton was
distinguishable, but its ripples and its gurgling over the pebbles, or
through the large stones which it could not cover. I uttered an
ejaculation of discontent at seeing the dismal grate, and commenced
shutting the casements, one after another, till I came to his.

“Must I close this?” I asked, in order to rouse him; for he would not
stir.

The light flashed on his features as I spoke. Oh, Mr. Lockwood, I
cannot express what a terrible start I got by the momentary view! Those
deep black eyes! That smile, and ghastly paleness! It appeared to me,
not Mr. Heathcliff, but a goblin; and, in my terror, I let the candle
bend towards the wall, and it left me in darkness.

“Yes, close it,” he replied, in his familiar voice. “There, that is
pure awkwardness! Why did you hold the candle horizontally? Be quick,
and bring another.”

I hurried out in a foolish state of dread, and said to Joseph—“The
master wishes you to take him a light and rekindle the fire.” For I
dared not go in myself again just then.

Joseph rattled some fire into the shovel, and went: but he brought it
back immediately, with the supper-tray in his other hand, explaining
that Mr. Heathcliff was going to bed, and he wanted nothing to eat till
morning. We heard him mount the stairs directly; he did not proceed to
his ordinary chamber, but turned into that with the panelled bed: its
window, as I mentioned before, is wide enough for anybody to get
through; and it struck me that he plotted another midnight excursion,
of which he had rather we had no suspicion.

“Is he a ghoul or a vampire?” I mused. I had read of such hideous
incarnate demons. And then I set myself to reflect how I had tended him
in infancy, and watched him grow to youth, and followed him almost
through his whole course; and what absurd nonsense it was to yield to
that sense of horror. “But where did he come from, the little dark
thing, harboured by a good man to his bane?” muttered Superstition, as
I dozed into unconsciousness. And I began, half dreaming, to weary
myself with imagining some fit parentage for him; and, repeating my
waking meditations, I tracked his existence over again, with grim
variations; at last, picturing his death and funeral: of which, all I
can remember is, being exceedingly vexed at having the task of
dictating an inscription for his monument, and consulting the sexton
about it; and, as he had no surname, and we could not tell his age, we
were obliged to content ourselves with the single word, “Heathcliff.”
That came true: we were. If you enter the kirkyard, you’ll read, on his
headstone, only that, and the date of his death.

Dawn restored me to common sense. I rose, and went into the garden, as
soon as I could see, to ascertain if there were any footmarks under his
window. There were none. “He has stayed at home,” I thought, “and he’ll
be all right to-day.” I prepared breakfast for the household, as was my
usual custom, but told Hareton and Catherine to get theirs ere the
master came down, for he lay late. They preferred taking it out of
doors, under the trees, and I set a little table to accommodate them.

On my re-entrance, I found Mr. Heathcliff below. He and Joseph were
conversing about some farming business; he gave clear, minute
directions concerning the matter discussed, but he spoke rapidly, and
turned his head continually aside, and had the same excited expression,
even more exaggerated. When Joseph quitted the room he took his seat in
the place he generally chose, and I put a basin of coffee before him.
He drew it nearer, and then rested his arms on the table, and looked at
the opposite wall, as I supposed, surveying one particular portion, up
and down, with glittering, restless eyes, and with such eager interest
that he stopped breathing during half a minute together.

“Come now,” I exclaimed, pushing some bread against his hand, “eat and
drink that, while it is hot: it has been waiting near an hour.”

He didn’t notice me, and yet he smiled. I’d rather have seen him gnash
his teeth than smile so.

“Mr. Heathcliff! master!” I cried, “don’t, for God’s sake, stare as if
you saw an unearthly vision.”

“Don’t, for God’s sake, shout so loud,” he replied. “Turn round, and
tell me, are we by ourselves?”

“Of course,” was my answer; “of course we are.”

Still, I involuntarily obeyed him, as if I was not quite sure. With a
sweep of his hand he cleared a vacant space in front among the
breakfast things, and leant forward to gaze more at his ease.

Now, I perceived he was not looking at the wall; for when I regarded
him alone, it seemed exactly that he gazed at something within two
yards’ distance. And whatever it was, it communicated, apparently, both
pleasure and pain in exquisite extremes: at least the anguished, yet
raptured, expression of his countenance suggested that idea. The
fancied object was not fixed, either: his eyes pursued it with
unwearied diligence, and, even in speaking to me, were never weaned
away. I vainly reminded him of his protracted abstinence from food: if
he stirred to touch anything in compliance with my entreaties, if he
stretched his hand out to get a piece of bread, his fingers clenched
before they reached it, and remained on the table, forgetful of their
aim.

I sat, a model of patience, trying to attract his absorbed attention
from its engrossing speculation; till he grew irritable, and got up,
asking why I would not allow him to have his own time in taking his
meals? and saying that on the next occasion I needn’t wait: I might set
the things down and go. Having uttered these words he left the house,
slowly sauntered down the garden path, and disappeared through the
gate.

The hours crept anxiously by: another evening came. I did not retire to
rest till late, and when I did, I could not sleep. He returned after
midnight, and, instead of going to bed, shut himself into the room
beneath. I listened, and tossed about, and, finally, dressed and
descended. It was too irksome to lie there, harassing my brain with a
hundred idle misgivings.

I distinguished Mr. Heathcliff’s step, restlessly measuring the floor,
and he frequently broke the silence by a deep inspiration, resembling a
groan. He muttered detached words also; the only one I could catch was
the name of Catherine, coupled with some wild term of endearment or
suffering; and spoken as one would speak to a person present; low and
earnest, and wrung from the depth of his soul. I had not courage to
walk straight into the apartment; but I desired to divert him from his
reverie, and therefore fell foul of the kitchen fire, stirred it, and
began to scrape the cinders. It drew him forth sooner than I expected.
He opened the door immediately, and said—“Nelly, come here—is it
morning? Come in with your light.”

“It is striking four,” I answered. “You want a candle to take upstairs:
you might have lit one at this fire.”

“No, I don’t wish to go upstairs,” he said. “Come in, and kindle _me_ a
fire, and do anything there is to do about the room.”

“I must blow the coals red first, before I can carry any,” I replied,
getting a chair and the bellows.

He roamed to and fro, meantime, in a state approaching distraction; his
heavy sighs succeeding each other so thick as to leave no space for
common breathing between.

“When day breaks I’ll send for Green,” he said; “I wish to make some
legal inquiries of him while I can bestow a thought on those matters,
and while I can act calmly. I have not written my will yet; and how to
leave my property I cannot determine. I wish I could annihilate it from
the face of the earth.”

“I would not talk so, Mr. Heathcliff,” I interposed. “Let your will be
a while: you’ll be spared to repent of your many injustices yet! I
never expected that your nerves would be disordered: they are, at
present, marvellously so, however; and almost entirely through your own
fault. The way you’ve passed these three last days might knock up a
Titan. Do take some food, and some repose. You need only look at
yourself in a glass to see how you require both. Your cheeks are
hollow, and your eyes blood-shot, like a person starving with hunger
and going blind with loss of sleep.”

“It is not my fault that I cannot eat or rest,” he replied. “I assure
you it is through no settled designs. I’ll do both, as soon as I
possibly can. But you might as well bid a man struggling in the water
rest within arms’ length of the shore! I must reach it first, and then
I’ll rest. Well, never mind Mr. Green: as to repenting of my
injustices, I’ve done no injustice, and I repent of nothing. I’m too
happy; and yet I’m not happy enough. My soul’s bliss kills my body, but
does not satisfy itself.”

“Happy, master?” I cried. “Strange happiness! If you would hear me
without being angry, I might offer some advice that would make you
happier.”

“What is that?” he asked. “Give it.”

“You are aware, Mr. Heathcliff,” I said, “that from the time you were
thirteen years old you have lived a selfish, unchristian life; and
probably hardly had a Bible in your hands during all that period. You
must have forgotten the contents of the book, and you may not have
space to search it now. Could it be hurtful to send for some one—some
minister of any denomination, it does not matter which—to explain it,
and show you how very far you have erred from its precepts; and how
unfit you will be for its heaven, unless a change takes place before
you die?”

“I’m rather obliged than angry, Nelly,” he said, “for you remind me of
the manner in which I desire to be buried. It is to be carried to the
churchyard in the evening. You and Hareton may, if you please,
accompany me: and mind, particularly, to notice that the sexton obeys
my directions concerning the two coffins! No minister need come; nor
need anything be said over me.—I tell you I have nearly attained _my_
heaven; and that of others is altogether unvalued and uncoveted by me.”

“And supposing you persevered in your obstinate fast, and died by that
means, and they refused to bury you in the precincts of the kirk?” I
said, shocked at his godless indifference. “How would you like it?”

“They won’t do that,” he replied: “if they did, you must have me
removed secretly; and if you neglect it you shall prove, practically,
that the dead are not annihilated!”

As soon as he heard the other members of the family stirring he retired
to his den, and I breathed freer. But in the afternoon, while Joseph
and Hareton were at their work, he came into the kitchen again, and,
with a wild look, bid me come and sit in the house: he wanted somebody
with him. I declined; telling him plainly that his strange talk and
manner frightened me, and I had neither the nerve nor the will to be
his companion alone.

“I believe you think me a fiend,” he said, with his dismal laugh:
“something too horrible to live under a decent roof.” Then turning to
Catherine, who was there, and who drew behind me at his approach, he
added, half sneeringly,—“Will _you_ come, chuck? I’ll not hurt you. No!
to you I’ve made myself worse than the devil. Well, there is _one_ who
won’t shrink from my company! By God! she’s relentless. Oh, damn it!
It’s unutterably too much for flesh and blood to bear—even mine.”

He solicited the society of no one more. At dusk he went into his
chamber. Through the whole night, and far into the morning, we heard
him groaning and murmuring to himself. Hareton was anxious to enter;
but I bid him fetch Mr. Kenneth, and he should go in and see him. When
he came, and I requested admittance and tried to open the door, I found
it locked; and Heathcliff bid us be damned. He was better, and would be
left alone; so the doctor went away.

The following evening was very wet: indeed, it poured down till
day-dawn; and, as I took my morning walk round the house, I observed
the master’s window swinging open, and the rain driving straight in. He
cannot be in bed, I thought: those showers would drench him through. He
must either be up or out. But I’ll make no more ado, I’ll go boldly and
look.”

Having succeeded in obtaining entrance with another key, I ran to
unclose the panels, for the chamber was vacant; quickly pushing them
aside, I peeped in. Mr. Heathcliff was there—laid on his back. His eyes
met mine so keen and fierce, I started; and then he seemed to smile. I
could not think him dead: but his face and throat were washed with
rain; the bed-clothes dripped, and he was perfectly still. The lattice,
flapping to and fro, had grazed one hand that rested on the sill; no
blood trickled from the broken skin, and when I put my fingers to it, I
could doubt no more: he was dead and stark!

I hasped the window; I combed his black long hair from his forehead; I
tried to close his eyes: to extinguish, if possible, that frightful,
life-like gaze of exultation before any one else beheld it. They would
not shut: they seemed to sneer at my attempts; and his parted lips and
sharp white teeth sneered too! Taken with another fit of cowardice, I
cried out for Joseph. Joseph shuffled up and made a noise, but
resolutely refused to meddle with him.

“Th’ divil’s harried off his soul,” he cried, “and he may hev’ his
carcass into t’ bargin, for aught I care! Ech! what a wicked ’un he
looks, girning at death!” and the old sinner grinned in mockery. I
thought he intended to cut a caper round the bed; but suddenly
composing himself, he fell on his knees, and raised his hands, and
returned thanks that the lawful master and the ancient stock were
restored to their rights.

I felt stunned by the awful event; and my memory unavoidably recurred
to former times with a sort of oppressive sadness. But poor Hareton,
the most wronged, was the only one who really suffered much. He sat by
the corpse all night, weeping in bitter earnest. He pressed its hand,
and kissed the sarcastic, savage face that every one else shrank from
contemplating; and bemoaned him with that strong grief which springs
naturally from a generous heart, though it be tough as tempered steel.

Mr. Kenneth was perplexed to pronounce of what disorder the master
died. I concealed the fact of his having swallowed nothing for four
days, fearing it might lead to trouble, and then, I am persuaded, he
did not abstain on purpose: it was the consequence of his strange
illness, not the cause.

We buried him, to the scandal of the whole neighbourhood, as he wished.
Earnshaw and I, the sexton, and six men to carry the coffin,
comprehended the whole attendance. The six men departed when they had
let it down into the grave: we stayed to see it covered. Hareton, with
a streaming face, dug green sods, and laid them over the brown mould
himself: at present it is as smooth and verdant as its companion
mounds—and I hope its tenant sleeps as soundly. But the country folks,
if you ask them, would swear on the Bible that he _walks_: there are
those who speak to having met him near the church, and on the moor, and
even within this house. Idle tales, you’ll say, and so say I. Yet that
old man by the kitchen fire affirms he has seen two on ’em looking out
of his chamber window on every rainy night since his death:—and an odd
thing happened to me about a month ago. I was going to the Grange one
evening—a dark evening, threatening thunder—and, just at the turn of
the Heights, I encountered a little boy with a sheep and two lambs
before him; he was crying terribly; and I supposed the lambs were
skittish, and would not be guided.

“What is the matter, my little man?” I asked.

“There’s Heathcliff and a woman yonder, under t’ nab,” he blubbered,
“un’ I darnut pass ’em.”

I saw nothing; but neither the sheep nor he would go on so I bid him
take the road lower down. He probably raised the phantoms from
thinking, as he traversed the moors alone, on the nonsense he had heard
his parents and companions repeat. Yet, still, I don’t like being out
in the dark now; and I don’t like being left by myself in this grim
house: I cannot help it; I shall be glad when they leave it, and shift
to the Grange.

“They are going to the Grange, then?” I said.

“Yes,” answered Mrs. Dean, “as soon as they are married, and that will
be on New Year’s Day.”

“And who will live here then?”

“Why, Joseph will take care of the house, and, perhaps, a lad to keep
him company. They will live in the kitchen, and the rest will be shut
up.”

“For the use of such ghosts as choose to inhabit it?” I observed.

“No, Mr. Lockwood,” said Nelly, shaking her head. “I believe the dead
are at peace: but it is not right to speak of them with levity.”

At that moment the garden gate swung to; the ramblers were returning.

“_They_ are afraid of nothing,” I grumbled, watching their approach
through the window. “Together, they would brave Satan and all his
legions.”

As they stepped on to the door-stones, and halted to take a last look
at the moon—or, more correctly, at each other by her light—I felt
irresistibly impelled to escape them again; and, pressing a remembrance
into the hand of Mrs. Dean, and disregarding her expostulations at my
rudeness, I vanished through the kitchen as they opened the house-door;
and so should have confirmed Joseph in his opinion of his
fellow-servant’s gay indiscretions, had he not fortunately recognised
me for a respectable character by the sweet ring of a sovereign at his
feet.

My walk home was lengthened by a diversion in the direction of the
kirk. When beneath its walls, I perceived decay had made progress, even
in seven months: many a window showed black gaps deprived of glass; and
slates jutted off here and there, beyond the right line of the roof, to
be gradually worked off in coming autumn storms.

I sought, and soon discovered, the three headstones on the slope next
the moor: the middle one grey, and half buried in the heath; Edgar
Linton’s only harmonized by the turf and moss creeping up its foot;
Heathcliff’s still bare.

I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths
fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind
breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever
imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.





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