1801. - I have just returned from a visit to mylandlord - thesolitary neighbour that I shall be troubledwith. This iscertainly a beautiful country! In allEnglandI do not believethat I could have fixed on a situation socompletely removed fromthe stir of society. A perfectmisanthropist's heaven: and Mr.Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair todivide the desolationbetween us. A capital fellow! Helittle imagined how my heartwarmed towards him when I beheld his black eyeswithdraw sosuspiciously under their browsas I rode upand when his fingerssheltered themselveswith a jealousresolutionstill further inhis waistcoatas I announced my name.
'Mr. Heathcliff?' I said.
A nod was the answer.
'Mr. Lockwoodyour new tenantsir. I domyself the honour ofcalling as soon as possible after my arrivalto express the hopethat I have not inconvenienced you by myperseverance in solicitingthe occupation of Thrushcross Grange: Iheard yesterday you hadhad some thoughts - '
'Thrushcross Grange is my ownsir' heinterruptedwincing. 'Ishould not allow any one to inconvenience meif I could hinder it- walk in!'
The 'walk in' was uttered with closed teethand expressed thesentiment'Go to the Deuce:' even the gateover which he leantmanifested no sympathising movement to thewords; and I think thatcircumstance determined me to accept theinvitation: I feltinterested in a man who seemed moreexaggeratedly reserved thanmyself.
When he saw my horse's breast fairly pushingthe barrierhe didput out his hand to unchain itand thensullenly preceded me upthe causewaycallingas we entered the court- 'Josephtake Mr.Lockwood's horse; and bring up some wine.'
'Here we have the whole establishment ofdomesticsI suppose' wasthe reflection suggested by this compoundorder. 'No wonder thegrass grows up between the flagsand cattleare the only hedge-cutters.'
Joseph was an elderlynayan old man: very oldperhapsthoughhale and sinewy. 'The Lord help us!' hesoliloquised in anundertone of peevish displeasurewhilerelieving me of my horse:lookingmeantimein my face so sourly that Icharitablyconjectured he must have need of divine aid todigest his dinnerand his pious ejaculation had no reference tomy unexpected advent.
Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr.Heathcliff's dwelling.'Wuthering' being a significant provincialadjectivedescriptiveof the atmospheric tumult to which its stationis exposed in stormyweather. Purebracing ventilation theymust have up there at alltimesindeed: one may guess the power ofthe north wind blowingover the edgeby the excessive slant of a fewstunted firs at theend of the house; and by a range of gauntthorns all stretchingtheir limbs one wayas if craving alms of thesun. Happilythearchitect had foresight to build it strong: the narrow windows aredeeply set in the walland the cornersdefended with large juttingstones.
Before passing the thresholdI paused toadmire a quantity ofgrotesque carving lavished over the frontandespecially about theprincipal door; above whichamong a wildernessof crumblinggriffins and shameless little boysI detectedthe date '1500' andthe name 'Hareton Earnshaw.' I would havemade a few commentsandrequested a short history of the place from thesurly owner; buthis attitude at the door appeared to demand myspeedy entranceorcomplete departureand I had no desire toaggravate his impatienceprevious to inspecting the penetralium.
One stop brought us into the familysitting-roomwithout anyintroductory lobby or passage: they callit here 'the house' pre-eminently. It includes kitchen andparlourgenerally; but Ibelieve at Wuthering Heights the kitchen isforced to retreataltogether into another quarter: at leastI distinguished achatter of tonguesand a clatter of culinaryutensilsdeepwithin; and I observed no signs of roastingboilingor bakingabout the huge fireplace; nor any glitter ofcopper saucepans andtin cullenders on the walls. One endindeedreflected splendidlyboth light and heat from ranks of immensepewter dishesinterspersed with silver jugs and tankardstowering row after rowon a vast oak dresserto the very roof. The latter had never beenunder-drawn: its entire anatomy lay bareto an inquiring eyeexcept where a frame of wood laden withoatcakes and clusters oflegs of beefmuttonand hamconcealed it. Above the chimneywere sundry villainous old gunsand a coupleof horse-pistols:andby way of ornamentthree gaudily-paintedcanisters disposedalong its ledge. The floor was of smoothwhite stone; the chairshigh-backedprimitive structurespaintedgreen: one or two heavyblack ones lurking in the shade. In anarch under the dresserreposed a hugeliver-coloured bitch pointersurrounded by a swarmof squealing puppies; and other dogs hauntedother recesses.
The apartment and furniture would have beennothing extraordinaryas belonging to a homelynorthern farmerwitha stubborncountenanceand stalwart limbs set out toadvantage in knee-breeches and gaiters. Such an individualseated in his arm-chairhis mug of ale frothing on the round tablebefore himis to beseen in any circuit of five or six miles amongthese hillsif yougo at the right time after dinner. ButMr. Heathcliff forms asingular contrast to his abode and style ofliving. He is a dark-skinned gipsy in aspectin dress and manners agentleman: thatisas much a gentleman as many a countrysquire: rather slovenlyperhapsyet not looking amiss with hisnegligencebecause he hasan erect and handsome figure; and rathermorose. Possiblysomepeople might suspect him of a degree ofunder-bred pride; I have asympathetic chord within that tells me it isnothing of the sort:I knowby instincthis reserve springs froman aversion to showydisplays of feeling - to manifestations ofmutual kindliness.He'll love and hate equally under coverandesteem it a species ofimpertinence to be loved or hated again. NoI'm running on toofast: I bestow my own attributesover-liberally on him. Mr.Heathcliff may have entirely dissimilar reasonsfor keeping hishand out of the way when he meets a would-beacquaintanceto thosewhich actuate me. Let me hope myconstitution is almost peculiar:my dear mother used to say I should never havea comfortable home;and only last summer I proved myself perfectlyunworthy of one.
While enjoying a month of fine weather at thesea-coastI wasthrown into the company of a most fascinatingcreature: a realgoddess in my eyesas long as she took nonotice of me. I 'nevertold my love' vocally; stillif looks havelanguagethe merestidiot might have guessed I was over head andears: she understoodme at lastand looked a return - the sweetestof all imaginablelooks. And what did I do? I confessit with shame - shrunk icilyinto myselflike a snail; at every glanceretired colder andfarther; till finally the poor innocent was ledto doubt her ownsensesandoverwhelmed with confusion at hersupposed mistakepersuaded her mamma to decamp. By thiscurious turn of dispositionI have gained the reputation of deliberateheartlessness; howundeservedI alone can appreciate.
I took a seat at the end of the hearthstoneopposite that towardswhich my landlord advancedand filled up aninterval of silence byattempting to caress the canine motherwho hadleft her nurseryand was sneaking wolfishly to the back of mylegsher lip curledupand her white teeth watering for a snatch. My caress provokeda longguttural gnarl.
'You'd better let the dog alone' growled Mr.Heathcliff in unisonchecking fiercer demonstrations with a punch ofhis foot. 'She'snot accustomed to be spoiled - not kept for apet.' Thenstridingto a side doorhe shouted again'Joseph!'
Joseph mumbled indistinctly in the depths ofthe cellarbut gaveno intimation of ascending; so his master diveddown to himleaving me VIS-A-VIS the ruffianly bitch and apair of grim shaggysheep-dogswho shared with her a jealousguardianship over all mymovements. Not anxious to come in contactwith their fangsI satstill; butimagining they would scarcelyunderstand tacit insultsI unfortunately indulged in winking and makingfaces at the trioand some turn of my physiognomy so irritatedmadamthat shesuddenly broke into a fury and leapt on myknees. I flung herbackand hastened to interpose the tablebetween us. Thisproceeding aroused the whole hive: half-a-dozen four-footedfiendsof various sizes and agesissued fromhidden dens to thecommon centre. I felt my heels andcoat-laps peculiar subjects ofassault; and parrying off the larger combatantsas effectually as Icould with the pokerI was constrained todemandaloudassistance from some of the household inre-establishing peace.
Mr. Heathcliff and his man climbed the cellarsteps with vexatiousphlegm: I don't think they moved onesecond faster than usualthough the hearth was an absolute tempest ofworrying and yelping.Happilyan inhabitant of the kitchen made moredespatch: a lustydamewith tucked-up gownbare armsandfire-flushed cheeksrushed into the midst of us flourishing afrying-pan: and usedthat weaponand her tongueto such purposethat the stormsubsided magicallyand she only remainedheaving like a sea aftera high windwhen her master entered on thescene.
'What the devil is the matter?' he askedeyeing me in a mannerthat I could ill endureafter thisinhospitable treatment.
'What the devilindeed!' I muttered. 'The herd of possessed swinecould have had no worse spirits in them thanthose animals ofyourssir. You might as well leave astranger with a brood oftigers!'
'They won't meddle with persons who touchnothing' he remarkedputting the bottle before meand restoring thedisplaced table.'The dogs do right to be vigilant. Take aglass of wine?'
'Not bittenare you?'
'If I had beenI would have set my signet onthe biter.'Heathcliff's countenance relaxed into a grin.
'Comecome' he said'you are flurriedMr.Lockwood. Heretakea little wine. Guests are so exceedinglyrare in this house that Iand my dogsI am willing to ownhardly knowhow to receive them.Your healthsir?'
I bowed and returned the pledge; beginning toperceive that itwould be foolish to sit sulking for themisbehaviour of a pack ofcurs; besidesI felt loth to yield the fellowfurther amusement atmy expense; since his humour took that turn. He - probably swayedby prudential consideration of the folly ofoffending a good tenant- relaxed a little in the laconic style ofchipping off hispronouns and auxiliary verbsand introducedwhat he supposed wouldbe a subject of interest to me- a discourseon the advantages anddisadvantages of my present place ofretirement. I found him veryintelligent on the topics we touched; andbefore I went homeI wasencouraged so far as to volunteer another visitto-morrow. Heevidently wished no repetition of myintrusion. I shall gonotwithstanding. It is astonishing howsociable I feel myselfcompared with him.
YESTERDAY afternoon set in misty and cold. I had half a mind tospend it by my study fireinstead of wadingthrough heath and mudto Wuthering Heights. On coming up fromdinnerhowever(N.B. - Idine between twelve and one o'clock; thehousekeepera matronlyladytaken as a fixture along with the housecould notor wouldnotcomprehend my request that I might beserved at five) - onmounting the stairs with this lazy intentionand stepping into theroomI saw a servant-girl on her kneessurrounded by brushes andcoal-scuttlesand raising an infernal dust asshe extinguished theflames with heaps of cinders. Thisspectacle drove me backimmediately; I took my hatandafter afour-miles' walkarrivedat Heathcliff's garden-gate just in time toescape the firstfeathery flakes of a snow-shower.
On that bleak hill-top the earth was hard witha black frostandthe air made me shiver through every limb. Being unable to removethe chainI jumped overandrunning up theflagged causewaybordered with straggling gooseberry-bushesknocked vainly foradmittancetill my knuckles tingled and thedogs howled.
'Wretched inmates!' I ejaculatedmentally'you deserve perpetualisolation from your species for your churlishinhospitality. AtleastI would not keep my doors barred in theday-time. I don'tcare - I will get in!' So resolvedIgrasped the latch and shookit vehemently. Vinegar-faced Josephprojected his head from around window of the barn.
'What are ye for?' he shouted. 'T'maister's down i' t' fowld. Goround by th' end o' t' laithif ye went tospake to him.'
'Is there nobody inside to open the door?' Ihallooedresponsively.
'There's nobbut t' missis; and shoo'll notoppen 't an ye mak' yerflaysome dins till neeght.'
'Why? Cannot you tell her whom I amehJoseph?'
'Nor-ne me! I'll hae no hend wi't'muttered the headvanishing.
The snow began to drive thickly. I seizedthe handle to essayanother trial; when a young man without coatand shouldering apitchforkappeared in the yard behind. He hailed me to followhimandafter marching through a wash-houseand a paved areacontaining a coal-shedpumpand pigeon-cotwe at length arrivedin the hugewarmcheerful apartment where Iwas formerlyreceived. It glowed delightfully in theradiance of an immensefirecompounded of coalpeatand wood; andnear the tablelaidfor a plentiful evening mealI was pleased toobserve the'missis' an individual whose existence I hadnever previouslysuspected. I bowed and waitedthinkingshe would bid me take aseat. She looked at meleaning back inher chairand remainedmotionless and mute.
'Rough weather!' I remarked. 'I'm afraidMrs. Heathcliffthedoor must bear the consequence of yourservants' leisureattendance: I had hard work to make themhear me.'
She never opened her mouth. I stared -she stared also: at anyrateshe kept her eyes on me in a coolregardless mannerexceedingly embarrassing and disagreeable.
'Sit down' said the young mangruffly. 'He'll be in soon.'
I obeyed; and hemmedand called the villainJunowho deignedatthis second interviewto move the extreme tipof her tailintoken of owning my acquaintance.
'A beautiful animal!' I commenced again. 'Do you intend partingwith the little onesmadam?'
'They are not mine' said the amiable hostessmore repellinglythan Heathcliff himself could have replied.
'Ahyour favourites are among these?' Icontinuedturning to anobscure cushion full of something like cats.
'A strange choice of favourites!' she observedscornfully.
Unluckilyit was a heap of dead rabbits. I hemmed once moreanddrew closer to the hearthrepeating my commenton the wildness ofthe evening.
'You should not have come out' she saidrising and reaching fromthe chimney-piece two of the painted canisters.
Her position before was sheltered from thelight; nowI had adistinct view of her whole figure andcountenance. She wasslenderand apparently scarcely pastgirlhood: an admirable formand the most exquisite little face that I haveever had thepleasure of beholding; small featuresveryfair; flaxen ringletsor rather goldenhanging loose on her delicateneck; and eyeshadthey been agreeable in expressionthat wouldhave beenirresistible: fortunately for mysusceptible heartthe onlysentiment they evinced hovered between scornand a kind ofdesperationsingularly unnatural to bedetected there. Thecanisters were almost out of her reach; I madea motion to aid her;she turned upon me as a miser might turn if anyone attempted toassist him in counting his gold.
'I don't want your help' she snapped; 'I canget them for myself.'
'I beg your pardon!' I hastened to reply.
'Were you asked to tea?' she demandedtying anapron over her neatblack frockand standing with a spoonful ofthe leaf poised overthe pot.
'I shall be glad to have a cup' I answered.
'Were you asked?' she repeated.
'No' I saidhalf smiling. 'You are theproper person to ask me.'
She flung the tea backspoon and allandresumed her chair in apet; her forehead corrugatedand her redunder-lip pushed outlike a child's ready to cry.
Meanwhilethe young man had slung on to hisperson a decidedlyshabby upper garmentanderecting himselfbefore the blazelooked down on me from the corner of his eyesfor all the world asif there were some mortal feud unavengedbetween us. I began todoubt whether he were a servant or not: his dress and speech wereboth rudeentirely devoid of the superiorityobservable in Mr. andMrs. Heathcliff; his thick brown curls wererough and uncultivatedhis whiskers encroached bearishly over hischeeksand his handswere embrowned like those of a commonlabourer: still his bearingwas freealmost haughtyand he showed none ofa domestic'sassiduity in attending on the lady of thehouse. In the absence ofclear proofs of his conditionI deemed it bestto abstain fromnoticing his curious conduct; andfive minutesafterwardstheentrance of Heathcliff relieved mein somemeasurefrom myuncomfortable state.
'You seesirI am comeaccording topromise!' I exclaimedassuming the cheerful; 'and I fear I shall beweather-bound forhalf an hourif you can afford me shelterduring that space.'
'Half an hour?' he saidshaking the whiteflakes from his clothes;'I wonder you should select the thick of asnow-storm to rambleabout in. Do you know that you run a riskof being lost in themarshes? People familiar with these moorsoften miss their road onsuch evenings; and I can tell you there is nochance of a change atpresent.'
'Perhaps I can get a guide among your ladsandhe might stay atthe Grange till morning - could you spare meone?'
'NoI could not.'
'Ohindeed! WellthenI must trust tomy own sagacity.'
'Are you going to mak' the tea?' demanded he ofthe shabby coatshifting his ferocious gaze from me to theyoung lady.
'Is HE to have any?' she askedappealing toHeathcliff.
'Get it readywill you?' was the answeruttered so savagely thatI started. The tone in which the wordswere said revealed agenuine bad nature. I no longer feltinclined to call Heathcliff acapital fellow. When the preparationswere finishedhe invited mewith - 'Nowsirbring forward your chair.' And we allincludingthe rustic youthdrew round the table: an austere silenceprevailing while we discussed our meal.
I thoughtif I had caused the cloudit was myduty to make aneffort to dispel it. They could not everyday sit so grim andtaciturn; and it was impossiblehoweverill-tempered they mightbethat the universal scowl they wore wastheir every-daycountenance.
'It is strange' I beganin the interval ofswallowing one cup oftea and receiving another - 'it is strange howcustom can mould ourtastes and ideas: many could not imaginethe existence ofhappiness in a life of such complete exile fromthe world as youspendMr. Heathcliff; yetI'll venture tosaythatsurroundedby your familyand with your amiable lady asthe presiding geniusover your home and heart - '
'My amiable lady!' he interruptedwith analmost diabolical sneeron his face. 'Where is she - my amiablelady?'
'Mrs. Heathcliffyour wifeI mean.'
'Wellyes - ohyou would intimate that herspirit has taken thepost of ministering angeland guards thefortunes of WutheringHeightseven when her body is gone. Isthat it?'
Perceiving myself in a blunderI attempted tocorrect it. I mighthave seen there was too great a disparitybetween the ages of theparties to make it likely that they were manand wife. One wasabout forty: a period of mental vigour atwhich men seldom cherishthe delusion of being married for love bygirls: that dream isreserved for the solace of our decliningyears. The other did notlook seventeen.
Then it flashed on me - 'The clown at my elbowwho is drinking histea out of a basin and eating his broad withunwashed handsmay beher husband: Heathcliff juniorofcourse. Here is theconsequence of being buried alive: shehas thrown herself awayupon that boor from sheer ignorance that betterindividualsexisted! A sad pity - I must beware how Icause her to regret herchoice.' The last reflection may seemconceited; it was not. Myneighbour struck me as bordering on repulsive;I knewthroughexperiencethat I was tolerably attractive.
'Mrs. Heathcliff is my daughter-in-law' saidHeathcliffcorroborating my surmise. He turnedashe spokea peculiar lookin her direction: a look of hatred;unless he has a most perverseset of facial muscles that will notlike thoseof other peopleinterpret the language of his soul.
'Ahcertainly - I see now: you are thefavoured possessor of thebeneficent fairy' I remarkedturning to myneighbour.
This was worse than before: the youthgrew crimsonand clenchedhis fistwith every appearance of a meditatedassault. But heseemed to recollect himself presentlyandsmothered the storm in abrutal cursemuttered on my behalf: whichhoweverI took carenot to notice.
'Unhappy in your conjecturessir' observed myhost; 'we neitherof us have the privilege of owning your goodfairy; her mate isdead. I said she was my daughter-in-law: thereforeshe must havemarried my son.'
'And this young man is - '
'Not my sonassuredly.'
Heathcliff smiled againas if it were rathertoo bold a jest toattribute the paternity of that bear to him.
'My name is Hareton Earnshaw' growled theother; 'and I'd counselyou to respect it!'
'I've shown no disrespect' was my replylaughing internally atthe dignity with which he announced himself.
He fixed his eye on me longer than I cared toreturn the stareforfear I might be tempted either to box his earsor render myhilarity audible. I began to feelunmistakably out of place inthat pleasant family circle. The dismalspiritual atmosphereovercameand more than neutralisedtheglowing physical comfortsround me; and I resolved to be cautious how Iventured under thoserafters a third time.
The business of eating being concludedand noone uttering a wordof sociable conversationI approached a windowto examine theweather. A sorrowful sight I saw: dark night coming downprematurelyand sky and hills mingled in onebitter whirl of windand suffocating snow.
'I don't think it possible for me to get homenow without a guide'I could not help exclaiming. 'The roadswill be buried already;andif they were bareI could scarcelydistinguish a foot inadvance.'
'Haretondrive those dozen sheep into the barnporch. They'll becovered if left in the fold all night: and put a plank beforethem' said Heathcliff.
'How must I do?' I continuedwith risingirritation.
There was no reply to my question; and onlooking round I saw onlyJoseph bringing in a pail of porridge for thedogsand Mrs.Heathcliff leaning over the firedivertingherself with burning abundle of matches which had fallen from thechimney-piece as sherestored the tea-canister to its place. The formerwhen he haddeposited his burdentook a critical survey ofthe roomand incracked tones grated out - 'Aw wonder how yahcan faishion to standthear i' idleness un warwhen all on 'ems goanout! Bud yah're anowtand it's no use talking - yah'll nivermend o'yer ill waysbut goa raight to t' divillike yer motherafore ye!'
I imaginedfor a momentthat this piece ofeloquence wasaddressed to me; andsufficiently enragedstepped towards theaged rascal with an intention of kicking himout of the door. Mrs.Heathcliffhoweverchecked me by her answer.
'You scandalous old hypocrite!' she replied. 'Are you not afraidof being carried away bodilywhenever youmention the devil'sname? I warn you to refrain fromprovoking meor I'll ask yourabduction as a special favour! Stop! lookhereJoseph' shecontinuedtaking a longdark book from ashelf; 'I'll show youhow far I've progressed in the Black Art: I shall soon becompetent to make a clear house of it. The red cow didn't die bychance; and your rheumatism can hardly bereckoned amongprovidential visitations!'
'Ohwickedwicked!' gasped the elder; 'maythe Lord deliver usfrom evil!'
'Noreprobate! you are a castaway - be offorI'll hurt youseriously! I'll have you all modelled inwax and clay! and thefirst who passes the limits I fix shall - I'llnot say what heshall be done to - butyou'll see! GoI'm looking at you!'
The little witch put a mock malignity into herbeautiful eyesandJosephtrembling with sincere horrorhurriedoutprayingandejaculating 'wicked' as he went. Ithought her conduct must beprompted by a species of dreary fun; andnowthat we were aloneIendeavoured to interest her in my distress.
'Mrs. Heathcliff' I said earnestly'you mustexcuse me fortroubling you. I presumebecausewiththat faceI'm sure youcannot help being good-hearted. Do pointout some landmarks bywhich I may know my way home: I have nomore idea how to get therethan you would have how to get to London!'
'Take the road you came' she answeredensconcing herself in achairwith a candleand the long book openbefore her. 'It isbrief advicebut as sound as I can give.'
'Thenif you hear of me being discovered deadin a bog or a pitfull of snowyour conscience won't whisperthat it is partly yourfault?'
'How so? I cannot escort you. Theywouldn't let me go to the endof the garden wall.'
'YOU! I should be sorry to ask you tocross the thresholdfor myconvenienceon such a night' I cried. 'I want you to tell me mywaynot to SHOW it: or else to persuadeMr. Heathcliff to give mea guide.'
'Who? There is himselfEarnshawZillahJoseph and I. Whichwould you have?'
'Are there no boys at the farm?'
'No; those are all.'
'Thenit follows that I am compelled to stay.'
'That you may settle with your host. Ihave nothing to do withit.'
'I hope it will be a lesson to you to make nomore rash journeys onthese hills' cried Heathcliff's stern voicefrom the kitchenentrance. 'As to staying hereI don'tkeep accommodations forvisitors: you must share a bed withHareton or Josephif you do.'
'I can sleep on a chair in this room' Ireplied.
'Nono! A stranger is a strangerbe herich or poor: it willnot suit me to permit any one the range of theplace while I am offguard!' said the unmannerly wretch.
With this insult my patience was at an end. I uttered anexpression of disgustand pushed past him intothe yardrunningagainst Earnshaw in my haste. It was sodark that I could not seethe means of exit; andas I wandered roundIheard anotherspecimen of their civil behaviour amongst eachother. At first theyoung 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 hismasteror whateverrelation he bore. 'And who is to lookafter the horseseh?'
'A man's life is of more consequence than oneevening's neglect ofthe horses: somebody must go' murmuredMrs. Heathcliffmorekindly than I expected.
'Not at your command!' retorted Hareton. 'If you set store on himyou'd better be quiet.'
'Then I hope his ghost will haunt you; and Ihope Mr. Heathcliffwill never get another tenant till the Grangeis a ruin' sheansweredsharply.
'Hearkenhearkenshoo's cursing on 'em!'muttered Josephtowardswhom I had been steering.
He sat within earshotmilking the cows by thelight of a lanternwhich I seized unceremoniouslyandcallingout that I would sendit back on the morrowrushed to the nearestpostern.
'Maistermaisterhe's staling t' lanthern!'shouted the ancientpursuing my retreat. 'HeyGnasher! Heydog! Hey Wolfholldhimholld him!'
On opening the little doortwo hairy monstersflew at my throatbearing me downand extinguishing the light;while a mingledguffaw from Heathcliff and Hareton put thecopestone on my rage andhumiliation. Fortunatelythe beastsseemed more bent onstretching their pawsand yawningandflourishing their tailsthan devouring me alive; but they would sufferno resurrectionandI was forced to lie till their malignantmasters pleased to deliverme: thenhatless and trembling withwrathI ordered themiscreants to let me out - on their peril tokeep me one minutelonger - with several incoherent threats ofretaliation thatintheir indefinite depth of virulencysmacked ofKing Lear.
The vehemence of my agitation brought on acopious bleeding at thenoseand still Heathcliff laughedand still Iscolded. I don'tknow what would have concluded the scenehadthere not been oneperson at hand rather more rational thanmyselfand morebenevolent than my entertainer. This wasZillahthe stouthousewife; who at length issued forth toinquire into the nature ofthe uproar. She thought that some of themhad been laying violenthands on me; andnot daring to attack hermastershe turned hervocal artillery against the younger scoundrel.
'WellMr. Earnshaw' she cried'I wonder whatyou'll have agaitnext? Are we going to murder folk on ourvery door-stones? I seethis house will never do for me - look at t'poor ladhe's fairchoking! Wishtwisht; you mun'n't go onso. Come inand I'llcure that: there nowhold ye still.'
With these words she suddenly splashed a pintof icy water down myneckand pulled me into the kitchen. Mr.Heathcliff followedhisaccidental merriment expiring quickly in hishabitual moroseness.
I was sick exceedinglyand dizzyand faint;and thus compelledperforce to accept lodgings under his roof. He told Zillah to giveme a glass of brandyand then passed on to theinner room; whileshe condoled with me on my sorry predicamentand having obeyed hisorderswhereby I was somewhat revivedusheredme to bed.
WHILE leading the way upstairsshe recommendedthat I should hidethe candleand not make a noise; for hermaster had an odd notionabout the chamber she would put me inandnever let anybody lodgethere willingly. I asked the reason. She did not knowsheanswered: she had only lived there a yearor two; and they had somany queer goings onshe could not begin to becurious.
Too stupefied to be curious myselfI fastenedmy door and glancedround for the bed. The whole furnitureconsisted of a chairaclothes-pressand a large oak casewithsquares cut out near thetop resembling coach windows. Havingapproached this structureIlooked insideand perceived it to be asingular sort of old-fashioned couchvery conveniently designed toobviate thenecessity for every member of the family havinga room to himself.In factit formed a little closetand theledge of a windowwhich it enclosedserved as a table. Islid back the panelledsidesgot in with my lightpulled themtogether againand feltsecure against the vigilance of Heathcliffandevery one else.
The ledgewhere I placed my candlehad a fewmildewed books piledup in one corner; and it was covered withwriting scratched on thepaint. This writinghoweverwas nothingbut a name repeated inall kinds of characterslarge and small -CATHERINE EARNSHAWhereand there varied to CATHERINE HEATHCLIFFandthen again toCATHERINE LINTON.
In vapid listlessness I leant my head againstthe windowandcontinued spelling over Catherine Earnshaw -Heathcliff - Lintontill my eyes closed; but they had not restedfive minutes when aglare of white letters started from the darkas vivid as spectres- the air swarmed with Catherines; and rousingmyself to dispel theobtrusive nameI discovered my candle-wickreclining on one of theantique volumesand perfuming the place withan odour of roastedcalf-skin. I snuffed it offandveryill at ease under theinfluence of cold and lingering nauseasat upand spread open theinjured tome on my knee. It was aTestamentin lean typeandsmelling dreadfully musty: a fly-leafbore the inscription -'Catherine Earnshawher book' and a date somequarter of acentury back. I shut itand took upanother and anothertill Ihad examined all. Catherine's library wasselectand its state ofdilapidation proved it to have been well usedthough notaltogether for a legitimate purpose: scarcely one chapter hadescapeda pen-and-ink commentary - at leastthe appearance of one- covering every morsel of blank that theprinter had left. Somewere detached sentences; other parts took theform of a regulardiaryscrawled in an unformedchildish hand. At the top of anextra page (quite a treasureprobablywhenfirst lighted on) Iwas greatly amused to behold an excellentcaricature of my friendJoseph- rudelyyet powerfully sketched. An immediate interestkindled within me for the unknown Catherineand I began forthwithto decipher her faded hieroglyphics.
'An awful Sunday' commenced the paragraphbeneath. 'I wish myfather were back again. Hindley is adetestable substitute - hisconduct to Heathcliff is atrocious - H. and Iare going to rebel -we took our initiatory step this evening.
'All day had been flooding with rain; we couldnot go to churchsoJoseph must needs get up a congregation in thegarret; andwhileHindley and his wife basked downstairs before acomfortable fire -doing anything but reading their BiblesI'llanswer for it -Heathcliffmyselfand the unhappy ploughboywere commanded totake our prayer-booksand mount: we wereranged in a rowon asack of corngroaning and shiveringandhoping that Joseph wouldshiver tooso that he might give us a shorthomily for his ownsake. A vain idea! The servicelasted precisely three hours; andyet my brother had the face to exclaimwhen hesaw us descending"Whatdone already?" On Sundayevenings we used to be permittedto playif we did not make much noise; now amere titter issufficient to send us into corners.
'"You forget you have a master here"says the tyrant. "I'lldemolish the first who puts me out of temper! I insist on perfectsobriety and silence. Ohboy! was thatyou? Frances darlingpull his hair as you go by: I heard himsnap his fingers."Frances pulled his hair heartilyand then wentand seated herselfon her husband's kneeand there they werelike two babieskissing and talking nonsense by the hour -foolish palaver that weshould be ashamed of. We made ourselvesas snug as our meansallowed in the arch of the dresser. I hadjust fastened ourpinafores togetherand hung them up for acurtainwhen in comesJosephon an errand from the stables. Hetears down my handiworkboxes my earsand croaks:
'"T' maister nobbut just buriedandSabbath not o'eredund t'sound o' t' gospel still i' yer lugsand yedarr be laiking!Shame on ye! sit ye downill childer! there'sgood books eneugh ifye'll read 'em: sit ye downand think o'yer sowls!"
'Saying thishe compelled us so to square ourpositions that wemight receive from the far-off fire a dull rayto show us the textof the lumber he thrust upon us. I couldnot bear the employment.I took my dingy volume by the scroopandhurled it into the dog-kennelvowing I hated a good book. Heathcliff kicked his to thesame place. Then there was a hubbub!
'"Maister Hindley!" shouted ourchaplain. " Maistercoom hither!Miss Cathy's riven th' back off 'Th' Helmet o'Salvation' un'Heathcliff's pawsed his fit into t' first parto' 'T' Brooad Way toDestruction!' It's fair flaysome that yelet '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 thehearthand seizingone of us by the collarand the other by thearmhurled both intothe back-kitchen; whereJoseph asseverated"owd Nick would fetchus as sure as we were living: andsocomfortedwe each sought aseparate nook to await his advent. Ireached this bookand a potof ink from a shelfand pushed the house-doorajar to give melightand I have got the time on with writingfor twenty minutes;but my companion is impatientand proposesthat we shouldappropriate the dairywoman's cloakand have ascamper on themoorsunder its shelter. A pleasantsuggestion - and thenif thesurly old man come inhe may believe hisprophecy verified - wecannot be damperor colderin the rain thanwe are here.'
* * * * * *
I suppose Catherine fulfilled her projectforthe next sentencetook up another subject: she waxedlachrymose.
'How little did I dream that Hindley would evermake me cry so!'she wrote. 'My head achestill I cannotkeep it on the pillow;and still I can't give over. PoorHeathcliff! Hindley calls him avagabondand won't let him sit with usnoreat with us any more;andhe sayshe and I must not play togetherand threatens toturn him out of the house if we break hisorders. He has beenblaming our father (how dared he?) for treatingH. too liberally;and swears he will reduce him to his rightplace - '
* * * * * *
I began to nod drowsily over the dim page: my eye wandered frommanuscript to print. I saw a redornamented title - 'Seventy TimesSevenand the First of the Seventy-First.' A Pious Discoursedelivered by the Reverend Jabez Branderhaminthe Chapel ofGimmerden Sough.' And while I washalf-consciouslyworrying mybrain to guess what Jabez Branderham would makeof his subjectIsank back in bedand fell asleep. Alasfor the effects of badtea and bad temper! What else could it bethat made me pass such aterrible night? I don't remember anotherthat I can at all comparewith it since I was capable of suffering.
I began to dreamalmost before I ceased to besensible of mylocality. I thought it was morning; and Ihad set out on my wayhomewith Joseph for a guide. The snowlay yards deep in ourroad; andas we floundered onmy companionwearied me withconstant reproaches that I had not brought apilgrim's staff:telling me that I could never get into thehouse without oneandboastfully flourishing a heavy-headed cudgelwhich I understood tobe so denominated. For a moment Iconsidered it absurd that Ishould need such a weapon to gain admittanceinto my own residence.Then a new idea flashed across me. I wasnot going there: we werejourneying to hear the famous Jabez Branderhampreachfrom thetext - 'Seventy Times Seven;' and eitherJosephthe preacheror Ihad committed the 'First of the Seventy-First'and were to bepublicly exposed and excommunicated.
We came to the chapel. I have passed itreally in my walkstwiceor thrice; it lies in a hollowbetween twohills: an elevatedhollownear a swampwhose peaty moisture issaid to answer allthe purposes of embalming on the few corpsesdeposited there. Theroof has been kept whole hitherto; but as theclergyman's stipendis only twenty pounds per annumand a housewith two roomsthreatening speedily to determine into onenoclergyman willundertake the duties of pastor: especially as it is currentlyreported that his flock would rather let himstarve than increasethe living by one penny from their ownpockets. Howeverin mydreamJabez had a full and attentivecongregation; and he preached- good God! what a sermon; divided into FOURHUNDRED AND NINETYpartseach fully equal to an ordinary addressfrom the pulpitandeach discussing a separate sin! Where hesearched for themIcannot tell. He had his private manner ofinterpreting the phraseand it seemed necessary the brother should sindifferent sins onevery occasion. They were of the mostcurious character: oddtransgressions that I never imaginedpreviously.
Ohhow weary I grow. How I writhedandyawnedand noddedandrevived! How I pinched and prickedmyselfand rubbed my eyesandstood upand sat down againand nudged Josephto inform me if hewould EVER have done. I was condemned tohear all out: finallyhe reached the 'FIRST OF THE SEVENTY-FIRST.' At that crisisasudden inspiration descended on me; I was movedto rise anddenounce Jabez Branderham as the sinner of thesin that noChristian need pardon.
'Sir' I exclaimed'sitting here within thesefour wallsat onestretchI have endured and forgiven the fourhundred and ninetyheads of your discourse. Seventy timesseven times have I pluckedup my hat and been about to depart - Seventytimes seven times haveyou preposterously forced me to resume myseat. The four hundredand ninety-first is too much. Fellow-martyrshave at him! Draghim downand crush him to atomsthat theplace which knows himmay know him no more!'
'THOU ART THE MAN!' cried Jabezafter a solemnpauseleaning overhis cushion. 'Seventy times seven timesdidst thou gapinglycontort thy visage - seventy times seven did Itake counsel with mysoul - Lothis is human weakness: thisalso may be absolved! TheFirst of the Seventy-First is come. Brethrenexecute upon him thejudgment written. Such honour have allHis saints!'
With that concluding wordthe whole assemblyexalting theirpilgrim's stavesrushed round me in a body;and Ihaving noweapon to raise in self-defencecommencedgrappling with Josephmy nearest and most ferocious assailantforhis. In theconfluence of the multitudeseveral clubscrossed; blowsaimed atmefell on other sconces. Presently thewhole chapel resoundedwith rappings and counter rappings: everyman's hand was againsthis neighbour; and Branderhamunwilling toremain idlepouredforth his zeal in a shower of loud taps on theboards of thepulpitwhich responded so smartly thatatlastto my unspeakablereliefthey woke me. And what was itthat had suggested thetremendous tumult? What had playedJabez's part in the row?Merely the branch of a fir-tree that touched mylattice as theblast wailed byand rattled its dry conesagainst the panes! Ilistened doubtingly an instant; detected thedisturberthen turnedand dozedand dreamt again: if possiblestill more disagreeablythan before.
This timeI remembered I was lying in the oakclosetand I hearddistinctly the gusty windand the driving ofthe snow; I heardalsothe fir bough repeat its teasing soundand ascribed it tothe right cause: but it annoyed me somuchthat I resolved tosilence itif possible; andI thoughtI roseand endeavoured tounhasp the casement. The hook wassoldered into the staple: acircumstance observed by me when awakebutforgotten. 'I muststop itnevertheless!' I mutteredknocking myknuckles throughthe glassand stretching an arm out to seizethe importunatebranch; instead of whichmy fingers closed onthe fingers of alittleice-cold hand! The intense horrorof nightmare came overme: I tried to draw back my armbut thehand clung to itand amost melancholy voice sobbed'Let me in - letme in!' 'Who areyou?' I askedstrugglingmeanwhiletodisengage myself.'Catherine Linton' it repliedshiveringly(why did I think ofLINTON? I had read EARNSHAW twenty timesfor Linton) - 'I'm comehome: I'd lost my way on the moor!' As it spokeI discernedobscurelya child's face looking through thewindow. Terror mademe cruel; andfinding it useless to attemptshaking the creatureoffI pulled its wrist on to the broken paneand rubbed it to andfro till the blood ran down and soaked thebedclothes: still itwailed'Let me in!' and maintained itstenacious gripealmostmaddening me with fear. 'How can I!' Isaid at length. 'Let MEgoif you want me to let you in!' Thefingers relaxedI snatchedmine through the holehurriedly piled thebooks up in a pyramidagainst itand stopped my ears to exclude thelamentable prayer.I seemed to keep them closed above a quarter ofan hour; yettheinstant I listened againthere was the dolefulcry moaning on!'Begone!' I shouted. 'I'll never let youinnot if you beg fortwenty years.' 'It is twenty years'mourned the voice: 'twentyyears. I've been a waif for twentyyears!' Thereat began a feeblescratching outsideand the pile of books movedas if thrustforward. I tried to jump up; but couldnot stir a limb; and soyelled aloudin a frenzy of fright. Tomy confusionI discoveredthe yell was not ideal: hasty footstepsapproached my chamberdoor; somebody pushed it openwith a vigoroushandand a lightglimmered through the squares at the top of thebed. I satshuddering yetand wiping the perspirationfrom my forehead: theintruder appeared to hesitateand muttered tohimself. At lasthe saidin a half-whisperplainly notexpecting an answer'Isany one here?' I considered it best toconfess my presence; for Iknew Heathcliff's accentsand feared he mightsearch furtherif Ikept quiet. With this intentionI turnedand opened the panels.I shall not soon forget the effect my actionproduced.
Heathcliff stood near the entrancein hisshirt and trousers; witha candle dripping over his fingersand hisface as white as thewall behind him. The first creak of theoak startled him like anelectric shock: the light leaped from hishold to a distance ofsome feetand his agitation was so extremethat he could hardlypick it up.
'It is only your guestsir' I called outdesirous to spare himthe humiliation of exposing his cowardicefurther. 'I had themisfortune to scream in my sleepowing to afrightful nightmare.I'm sorry I disturbed you.'
'OhGod confound youMr. Lockwood! Iwish you were at the - 'commenced my hostsetting the candle on achairbecause he foundit impossible to hold it steady. 'And whoshowed you up into thisroom?' he continuedcrushing his nails intohis palmsandgrinding his teeth to subdue the maxillaryconvulsions. 'Who wasit? I've a good mind to turn them out ofthe house this moment?'
'It was your servant Zillah' I repliedflinging myself on to thefloorand rapidly resuming my garments. 'I should not care if youdidMr. Heathcliff; she richly deserves it. I suppose that shewanted to get another proof that the place washauntedat myexpense. Wellit is - swarming withghosts and goblins! You havereason in shutting it upI assure you. No one will thank you fora doze in such a den!'
'What do you mean?' asked Heathcliff'and whatare you doing? Liedown and finish out the nightsince you AREhere; butforheaven's sake! don't repeat that horrid noise: nothing couldexcuse itunless you were having your throatcut!'
'If the little fiend had got in at the windowshe probably wouldhave strangled me!' I returned. 'I'm notgoing to endure thepersecutions of your hospitable ancestorsagain. Was not theReverend Jabez Branderham akin to you on themother's side? Andthat minxCatherine Lintonor Earnshaworhowever she was called- she must have been a changeling - wickedlittle soul! She toldme she had been walking the earth these twentyyears: a justpunishment for her mortal transgressionsI'veno doubt!'
Scarcely were these words uttered when Irecollected theassociation of Heathcliff's with Catherine'sname in the bookwhich had completely slipped from my memorytill thus awakened. Iblushed at my inconsideration: butwithout showing furtherconsciousness of the offenceI hastened to add- 'The truth issirI passed the first part of the night in -' Here I stoppedafresh - I was about to say 'perusing those oldvolumes' then itwould have revealed my knowledge of theirwrittenas well as theirprintedcontents; socorrecting myselfIwent on - 'in spellingover the name scratched on that window-ledge. A monotonousoccupationcalculated to set me asleeplikecountingor - '
'What CAN you mean by talking in this way toME!' thunderedHeathcliff with savage vehemence. 'How -how DARE youunder myroof? - God! he's mad to speak so!' Andhe struck his foreheadwith rage.
I did not know whether to resent this languageor pursue myexplanation; but he seemed so powerfullyaffected that I took pityand proceeded with my dreams; affirming I hadnever heard theappellation of 'Catherine Linton' beforebutreading it often overproduced an impression which personified itselfwhen I had nolonger my imagination under control. Heathcliff gradually fellback into the shelter of the bedas I spoke;finally sitting downalmost concealed behind it. I guessedhoweverby his irregularand intercepted breathingthat he struggled tovanquish an excessof violent emotion. Not liking to showhim that I had heard theconflictI continued my toilette rathernoisilylooked at mywatchand soliloquised on the length of thenight: 'Not threeo'clock yet! I could have taken oath ithad been six. Timestagnates here: we must surely haveretired to rest at eight!'
'Always at nine in winterand rise at four'said my hostsuppressing a groan: andas I fanciedby the motion of his arm'sshadowdashing a tear from his eyes. 'Mr. Lockwood' he added'you may go into my room: you'll only bein the waycoming down-stairs so early: and your childish outcryhas sent sleep to thedevil for me.'
'And for metoo' I replied. 'I'll walkin the yard tilldaylightand then I'll be off; and you neednot dread a repetitionof my intrusion. I'm now quite cured ofseeking pleasure insocietybe it country or town. Asensible man ought to findsufficient company in himself.'
'Delightful company!' muttered Heathcliff. 'Take the candleandgo where you please. I shall join youdirectly. Keep out of theyardthoughthe dogs are unchained; and thehouse - Juno mountssentinel thereand - nayyou can only rambleabout the steps andpassages. Butaway with you! I'llcome in two minutes!'
I obeyedso far as to quit the chamber; whenignorant where thenarrow lobbies ledI stood stilland waswitnessinvoluntarilyto a piece of superstition on the part of mylandlord which beliedoddlyhis apparent sense. He got on tothe bedand wrenched openthe latticeburstingas he pulled at itintoan uncontrollablepassion of tears. 'Come in! come in!' hesobbed. 'Cathydo come.Ohdo - ONCE more! Oh! my heart'sdarling! hear me THIS timeCatherineat last!' The spectre showed aspectre's ordinarycaprice: it gave no sign of being; butthe snow and wind whirledwildly througheven reaching my stationandblowing out thelight.
There was such anguish in the gush of griefthat accompanied thisravingthat my compassion made me overlook itsfollyand I drewoffhalf angry to have listened at allandvexed at havingrelated my ridiculous nightmaresince itproduced that agony;though WHY was beyond my comprehension. Idescended cautiously tothe lower regionsand landed in theback-kitchenwhere a gleam offireraked compactly togetherenabled me torekindle my candle.Nothing was stirring except a brindledgreycatwhich crept fromthe ashesand saluted me with a querulous mew.
Two benchesshaped in sections of a circlenearly enclosed thehearth; on one of these I stretched myselfandGrimalkin mountedthe other. We were both of us nodding ereany one invaded ourretreatand then it was Josephshuffling downa wooden ladderthat vanished in the roofthrough a trap: the ascent to hisgarretI suppose. He cast a sinisterlook at the little flamewhich I had enticed to play between the ribsswept the cat fromits elevationand bestowing himself in thevacancycommenced theoperation of stuffing a three-inch pipe withtobacco. My presencein his sanctum was evidently esteemed a pieceof impudence tooshameful for remark: he silently appliedthe tube to his lipsfolded his armsand puffed away. I lethim enjoy the luxuryunannoyed; and after sucking out his lastwreathand heaving aprofound sighhe got upand departed assolemnly as he came.
A more elastic footstep entered next; and now Iopened my mouth fora 'good-morning' but closed it againthesalutation unachieved;for Hareton Earnshaw was performing his orisonSOTTO VOCEin aseries of curses directed against every objecthe touchedwhile herummaged a corner for a spade or shovel to digthrough the drifts.He glanced over the back of the benchdilatinghis nostrilsandthought as little of exchanging civilities withme as with mycompanion the cat. I guessedby hispreparationsthat egress wasallowedandleaving my hard couchmade amovement to follow him.He noticed thisand thrust at an inner doorwith the end of hisspadeintimating by an inarticulate sound thatthere was the placewhere I must goif I changed my locality.
It opened into the housewhere the femaleswere already astir;Zillah urging flakes of flame up the chimneywith a colossalbellows; and Mrs. Heathcliffkneeling on thehearthreading abook by the aid of the blaze. She heldher hand interposed betweenthe furnace-heat and her eyesand seemedabsorbed in heroccupation; desisting from it only to chide theservant forcovering her with sparksor to push away adognow and thenthatsnoozled its nose overforwardly into her face. I was surprised tosee Heathcliff there also. He stood bythe firehis back towardsmejust finishing a stormy scene with poorZillah; who ever andanon interrupted her labour to pluck up thecorner of her apronand heave an indignant groan.
'And youyou worthless - ' he broke out as Ienteredturning tohis daughter-in-lawand employing an epithetas harmless as duckor sheepbut generally represented by a dash -. 'There you areat your idle tricks again! The rest ofthem do earn their bread -you live on my charity! Put your trashawayand find something todo. You shall pay me for the plague ofhaving you eternally in mysight - do you heardamnable jade?'
'I'll put my trash awaybecause you can makeme if I refuse'answered the young ladyclosing her bookandthrowing it on achair. 'But I'll not do anythingthoughyou should swear yourtongue outexcept what I please!'
Heathcliff lifted his handand the speakersprang to a saferdistanceobviously acquainted with its weight. Having no desireto be entertained by a cat-and-dog combatIstepped forwardbrisklyas if eager to partake the warmth ofthe hearthandinnocent of any knowledge of the interrupteddispute. Each hadenough decorum to suspend further hostilities: Heathcliff placedhis fistsout of temptationin his pockets;Mrs. Heathcliffcurled her lipand walked to a seat far offwhere she kept herword by playing the part of a statue during theremainder of mystay. That was not long. I declinedjoining their breakfastandat the first gleam of dawntook an opportunityof escaping intothe free airnow clearand stilland cold asimpalpable ice.
My landlord halloed for me to stop ere Ireached the bottom of thegardenand offered to accompany me across themoor. It was wellhe didfor the whole hill-back was onebillowywhite ocean; theswells and falls not indicating correspondingrises and depressionsin the ground: many pitsat leastwerefilled to a level; andentire ranges of moundsthe refuse of thequarriesblotted fromthe chart which my yesterday's walk leftpictured in my mind. Ihad remarked on one side of the roadatintervals of six or sevenyardsa line of upright stonescontinuedthrough the whole lengthof the barren: these were erected anddaubed with lime on purposeto serve as guides in the darkand also when afalllike thepresentconfounded the deep swamps on eitherhand with the firmerpath: butexcepting a dirty dot pointingup here and therealltraces of their existence had vanished: and my companion found itnecessary to warn me frequently to steer to theright or leftwhenI imagined I was followingcorrectlythewindings of the road.
We exchanged little conversationand he haltedat the entrance ofThrushcross ParksayingI could make no errorthere. Our adieuxwere limited to a hasty bowand then I pushedforwardtrusting tomy own resources; for the porter's lodge isuntenanted as yet. Thedistance from the gate to the grange is twomiles; I believe Imanaged to make it fourwhat with losingmyself among the treesand sinking up to the neck in snow: apredicament which only thosewho have experienced it can appreciate. At any ratewhatever weremy wanderingsthe clock chimed twelve as Ientered the house; andthat gave exactly an hour for every mile of theusual way fromWuthering Heights.
My human fixture and her satellites rushed towelcome me;exclaimingtumultuouslythey had completelygiven me up:everybody conjectured that I perished lastnight; and they werewondering how they must set about the searchfor my remains. I bidthem be quietnow that they saw me returnedandbenumbed to myvery heartI dragged up-stairs; whenceafterputting on dryclothesand pacing to and fro thirty or fortyminutesto restorethe animal heatI adjourned to my studyfeeble as a kitten:almost too much so to enjoy the cheerful fireand smoking coffeewhich the servant had prepared for myrefreshment.
WHAT vain weathercocks we are! Iwho haddetermined to holdmyself independent of all social intercourseand thanked my starsthatat lengthI had lighted on a spot whereit was next toimpracticable - Iweak wretchaftermaintaining till dusk astruggle with low spirits and solitudewasfinally compelled tostrike my colours; and under pretence ofgaining informationconcerning the necessities of my establishmentI desired Mrs.Deanwhen she brought in supperto sit downwhile I ate it;hoping sincerely she would prove a regulargossipand either rouseme to animation or lull me to sleep by hertalk.
'You have lived here a considerable time' Icommenced; 'did younot say sixteen years?'
'Eighteensir: I came when the mistresswas marriedto wait onher; after she diedthe master retained me forhis housekeeper.'
There ensued a pause. She was not agossipI feared; unless abouther own affairsand those could hardlyinterest me. Howeverhaving studied for an intervalwith a fist oneither kneeand acloud of meditation over her ruddy countenanceshe ejaculated -'Ahtimes are greatly changed since then!'
'Yes' I remarked'you've seen a good manyalterationsIsuppose?'
'I have: and troubles too' she said.
'OhI'll turn the talk on my landlord'sfamily!' I thought tomyself. 'A good subject to start! And that pretty girl-widowIshould like to know her history: whethershe be a native of thecountryoras is more probablean exoticthat the surlyINDIGENAE will not recognise for kin.' With this intention I askedMrs. Dean why Heathcliff let ThrushcrossGrangeand preferredliving in a situation and residence so muchinferior. 'Is he notrich enough to keep the estate in good order?'I inquired.
'Richsir!' she returned. 'He has nobodyknows what moneyandevery year it increases. Yesyeshe'srich enough to live in afiner house than this: but he's very near- close-handed; andifhe had meant to flit to Thrushcross Grangeassoon as he heard ofa good tenant he could not have borne to missthe chance of gettinga few hundreds more. It is strange peopleshould be so greedywhen they are alone in the world!'
'He had a sonit seems?'
'Yeshe had one - he is dead.'
'And that young ladyMrs. Heathcliffis hiswidow?'
'Where did she come from originally?'
'Whysirshe is my late master's daughter: Catherine Linton washer maiden name. I nursed herpoorthing! I did wish Mr.Heathcliff would remove hereand then we mighthave been togetheragain.'
'What! Catherine Linton?' I exclaimedastonished. But a minute'sreflection convinced me it was not my ghostlyCatherine. Then' Icontinued'my predecessor's name was Linton?'
'And who is that Earnshaw: HaretonEarnshawwho lives with Mr.Heathcliff? Are they relations?'
'No; he is the late Mrs. Linton's nephew.'
'The young lady's cousinthen?'
'Yes; and her husband was her cousin also: one on the mother'sthe other on the father's side: Heathcliff married Mr. Linton'ssister.'
'I see the house at Wuthering Heights has"Earnshaw" carved overthe front door. Are they an old family?'
'Very oldsir; and Hareton is the last ofthemas our Miss Cathyis of us - I meanof the Lintons. Haveyou been to WutheringHeights? I beg pardon for asking; but Ishould like to hear howshe is!'
'Mrs. Heathcliff? she looked very wellandvery handsome; yetIthinknot very happy.'
'Oh dearI don't wonder! And how did youlike the master?'
'A rough fellowratherMrs. Dean. Isnot that his character?
'Rough as a saw-edgeand hard as whinstone! The less you meddlewith him the better.'
'He must have had some ups and downs in life tomake him such achurl. Do you know anything of hishistory?'
'It's a cuckoo'ssir - I know all about it: except where he wasbornand who were his parentsand how he gothis money at first.And Hareton has been cast out like an unfledgeddunnock! Theunfortunate lad is the only one in all thisparish that does notguess how he has been cheated.'
'WellMrs. Deanit will be a charitable deedto tell me somethingof my neighbours: I feel I shall not restif I go to bed; so begood enough to sit and chat an hour.'
'Ohcertainlysir! I'll just fetch alittle sewingand thenI'll sit as long as you please. Butyou've caught cold: I saw youshiveringand you must have some gruel todrive it out.'
The worthy woman bustled offand I crouchednearer the fire; myhead felt hotand the rest of me chill: moreoverI was excitedalmost to a pitch of foolishnessthrough mynerves and brain.This caused me to feelnot uncomfortablebutrather fearful (as Iam still) of serious effects from the incidentsof to-day andyesterday. She returned presentlybringing a smoking basin and abasket of work; andhaving placed the formeron the hobdrew inher seatevidently pleased to find me socompanionable.
Before I came to live hereshe commenced -waiting no fartherinvitation to her story - I was almost alwaysat Wuthering Heights;because my mother had nursed Mr. HindleyEarnshawthat wasHareton's fatherand I got used to playingwith the children: Iran errands tooand helped to make hayandhung about the farmready for anything that anybody would set meto. One fine summermorning - it was the beginning of harvestIremember - Mr.Earnshawthe old mastercame down-stairsdressed for a journey;andafter he had told Joseph what was to bedone during the dayhe turned to Hindleyand Cathyand me - for Isat eating myporridge with them - and he saidspeaking tohis son'Nowmybonny manI'm going to Liverpool to-daywhatshall I bring you?You may choose what you like: only let itbe littlefor I shallwalk there and back: sixty miles eachwaythat is a long spell!'Hindley named a fiddleand then he asked MissCathy; she washardly six years oldbut she could ride anyhorse in the stableand she chose a whip. He did not forgetme; for he had a kindheartthough he was rather severe sometimes. He promised to bringme a pocketful of apples and pearsand then hekissed hischildrensaid good-byeand set off.
It seemed a long while to us all - the threedays of his absence -and often did little Cathy ask when he would behome. Mrs.Earnshaw expected him by supper-time on thethird eveningand sheput the meal off hour after hour; there were nosigns of hiscominghoweverand at last the children gottired of running downto the gate to look. Then it grew dark;she would have had them tobedbut they begged sadly to be allowed tostay up; andjustabout eleven o'clockthe door-latch was raisedquietlyand instepped the master. He threw himself intoa chairlaughing andgroaningand bid them all stand offfor hewas nearly killed - hewould not have such another walk for the threekingdoms.
'And at the end of it to be flighted to death!'he saidopeninghis great-coatwhich he held bundled up in hisarms. 'See herewife! I was never so beaten with anythingin my life: but youmust e'en take it as a gift of God; though it'sas dark almost asif it came from the devil.'
We crowded roundand over Miss Cathy's head Ihad a peep at adirtyraggedblack-haired child; big enoughboth to walk andtalk: indeedits face looked older thanCatherine's; yet when itwas set on its feetit only stared roundandrepeated over andover again some gibberish that nobody couldunderstand. I wasfrightenedand Mrs. Earnshaw was ready tofling it out of doors:she did fly upasking how he could fashion tobring that gipsybrat into the housewhen they had their ownbairns to feed andfend for? What he meant to do with itand whether he were mad?The master tried to explain the matter; but hewas really half deadwith fatigueand all that I could make outamongst her scoldingwas a tale of his seeing it starvingandhouselessand as good asdumbin the streets of Liverpoolwhere hepicked it up andinquired for its owner. Not a soul knewto whom it belongedhesaid; and his money and time being bothlimitedhe thought itbetter to take it home with him at oncethanrun into vainexpenses there: because he was determinedhe would not leave it ashe found it. Wellthe conclusion wasthat my mistress grumbledherself calm; and Mr. Earnshaw told me to washitand give itclean thingsand let it sleep with thechildren.
Hindley and Cathy contented themselves withlooking and listeningtill peace was restored: thenboth begansearching their father'spockets for the presents he had promised them. The former was aboy of fourteenbut when he drew out what hadbeen a fiddlecrushed to morsels in the great-coatheblubbered aloud; andCathywhen she learned the master had lost herwhip in attendingon the strangershowed her humour by grinningand spitting at thestupid little thing; earning for her pains asound blow from herfatherto teach her cleaner manners. They entirely refused tohave it in bed with themor even in theirroom; and I had no moresenseso I put it on the landing of thestairshoping it might hegone on the morrow. By chanceor elseattracted by hearing hisvoiceit crept to Mr. Earnshaw's doorandthere he found it onquitting his chamber. Inquiries were madeas to how it got there;I was obliged to confessand in recompense formy cowardice andinhumanity was sent out of the house.
This was Heathcliff's first introduction to thefamily. On comingback a few days afterwards (for I did notconsider my banishmentperpetual)I found they had christened him'Heathcliff': it wasthe name of a son who died in childhoodand ithas served him eversinceboth for Christian and surname. Miss Cathy and he were nowvery thick; but Hindley hated him: and tosay the truth I did thesame; and we plagued and went on with himshamefully: for I wasn'treasonable enough to feel my injusticeand themistress never putin a word on his behalf when she saw himwronged.
He seemed a sullenpatient child; hardenedperhapsto ill-treatment: he would stand Hindley's blowswithout winking orshedding a tearand my pinches moved him onlyto draw in a breathand open his eyesas if he had hurt himself byaccidentandnobody was to blame. This endurance madeold Earnshaw furiouswhen he discovered his son persecuting the poorfatherless childas he called him. He took to Heathcliffstrangelybelieving allhe said (for that matterhe said preciouslittleand generallythe truth)and petting him up far above Cathywho was toomischievous and wayward for a favourite.
Sofrom the very beginninghe bred badfeeling in the house; andat Mrs. Earnshaw's deathwhich happened inless than two yearsafterthe young master had learned to regardhis father as anoppressor rather than a friendand Heathcliffas a usurper of hisparent's affections and his privileges; and hegrew bitter withbrooding over these injuries. Isympathised a while; but when thechildren fell ill of the measlesand I had totend themand takeon me the cares of a woman at onceI changedmy idea. Heathcliffwas dangerously sick; and while he lay at theworst he would haveme constantly by his pillow: I suppose hefelt I did a good dealfor himand he hadn't wit to guess that I wascompelled to do it.HoweverI will say thishe was the quietestchild that ever nursewatched over. The difference between himand the others forced meto be less partial. Cathy and her brotherharassed me terribly:he was as uncomplaining as a lamb; thoughhardnessnot gentlenessmade him give little trouble.
He got throughand the doctor affirmed it wasin a great measureowing to meand praised me for my care. I was vain of hiscommendationsand softened towards the beingby whose means Iearned themand thus Hindley lost his lastally: still I couldn'tdote on Heathcliffand I wondered often whatmy master saw toadmire so much in the sullen boy; who nevertomy recollectionrepaid his indulgence by any sign ofgratitude. He was notinsolent to his benefactorhe was simplyinsensible; thoughknowing perfectly the hold he had on his heartand conscious hehad only to speak and all the house would beobliged to bend to hiswishes. As an instanceI remember Mr.Earnshaw once bought acouple of colts at the parish fairand gavethe lads each one.Heathcliff took the handsomestbut it soonfell lameand when hediscovered ithe said to Hindley -
'You must exchange horses with me: Idon't like mine; and if youwon't I shall tell your father of the threethrashings you've givenme this weekand show him my armwhich isblack to the shoulder.'Hindley put out his tongueand cuffed him overthe ears. 'You'dbetter do it at once' he persistedescapingto the porch (theywere in the stable): 'you will have to: and if I speak of theseblowsyou'll get them again with interest.' 'Offdog!' criedHindleythreatening him with an iron weightused for weighingpotatoes and hay. 'Throw it' he repliedstanding still'andthen I'll tell how you boasted that you wouldturn me out of doorsas soon as he diedand see whether he will notturn you outdirectly.' Hindley threw ithitting himon the breastand downhe fellbut staggered up immediatelybreathless and white; andhad not I prevented ithe would have gone justso to the masterand got full revenge by letting his conditionplead for himintimating who had caused it. 'Take mycoltGipsythen!' saidyoung Earnshaw. 'And I pray that he maybreak your neck: takehimand he damnedyou beggarly interloper!and wheedle my fatherout of all he has: only afterwards showhim what you areimp ofSatan. - And take thatI hope he'll kick outyour brains!'
Heathcliff had gone to loose the beastandshift it to his ownstall; he was passing behind itwhen Hindleyfinished his speechby knocking him under its feetand withoutstopping to examinewhether his hopes were fulfilledran away asfast as he could. Iwas surprised to witness how coolly the childgathered himself upand went on with his intention; exchangingsaddles and allandthen sitting down on a bundle of hay toovercome the qualm whichthe violent blow occasionedbefore he enteredthe house. Ipersuaded him easily to let me lay the blame ofhis bruises on thehorse: he minded little what tale wastold since he had what hewanted. He complained so seldomindeedof such stirs as thesethat I really thought him not vindictive: I was deceivedcompletelyas you will hear.
IN the course of time Mr. Earnshaw began tofail. He had beenactive and healthyyet his strength left himsuddenly; and when hewas confined to the chimney-corner he grewgrievously irritable. Anothing vexed him; and suspected slights of hisauthority nearlythrew him into fits. This was especiallyto be remarked if any oneattempted to impose uponor domineer overhisfavourite: he waspainfully jealous lest a word should be spokenamiss to him;seeming to have got into his head the notionthatbecause he likedHeathcliffall hatedand longed to do him anill-turn. It was adisadvantage to the lad; for the kinder amongus did not wish tofret the masterso we humoured his partiality;and that humouringwas rich nourishment to the child's pride andblack tempers. Stillit became in a manner necessary; twiceorthriceHindley'smanifestation of scornwhile his father wasnearroused the oldman to a fury: he seized his stick tostrike himand shook withrage that he could not do it.
At lastour curate (we had a curate then whomade the livinganswer by teaching the little Lintons andEarnshawsand farminghis bit of land himself) advised that the youngman should be sentto college; and Mr. Earnshaw agreedthoughwith a heavy spiritfor he said - 'Hindley was noughtand wouldnever thrive as wherehe wandered.'
I hoped heartily we should have peace now. It hurt me to think themaster should be made uncomfortable by his owngood deed. Ifancied the discontent of age and disease arosefrom his familydisagreements; as he would have it that itdid: reallyyou knowsirit was in his sinking frame. Wemight have got on tolerablynotwithstandingbut for two people - MissCathyand Josephtheservant: you saw himI daresayupyonder. He wasand is yetmost likelythe wearisomest self-righteousPharisee that everransacked a Bible to rake the promises tohimself and fling thecurses to his neighbours. By his knack ofsermonising and piousdiscoursinghe contrived to make a greatimpression on Mr.Earnshaw; and the more feeble the masterbecamethe more influencehe gained. He was relentless in worryinghim about his soul'sconcernsand about ruling his childrenrigidly. He encouraged himto regard Hindley as a reprobate; andnightafter nightheregularly grumbled out a long string of talesagainst Heathcliffand Catherine: always minding to flatterEarnshaw's weakness byheaping the heaviest blame on the latter.
Certainly she had ways with her such as I neversaw a child take upbefore; and she put all of us past our patiencefifty times andoftener in a day: from the hour she camedown-stairs till the hourshe went to bedwe had not a minute's securitythat she wouldn'tbe in mischief. Her spirits were alwaysat high-water markhertongue always going - singinglaughingandplaguing everybody whowould not do the same. A wildwickedslip she was - but she hadthe bonniest eyethe sweetest smileandlightest foot in theparish: andafter allI believe shemeant no harm; for when onceshe made you cry in good earnestit seldomhappened that she wouldnot keep you companyand oblige you to bequiet that you mightcomfort her. She was much too fond ofHeathcliff. The greatestpunishment we could invent for her was to keepher separate fromhim: yet she got chided more than any ofus on his account. Inplayshe liked exceedingly to act the littlemistress; using herhands freelyand commanding her companions: she did so to mebutI would not bear slapping and ordering; and soI let her know.
NowMr. Earnshaw did not understand jokes fromhis children: hehad always been strict and grave with them; andCatherineon herparthad no idea why her father should becrosser and less patientin his ailing condition than he was in hisprime. His peevishreproofs wakened in her a naughty delight toprovoke him: she wasnever so happy as when we were all scolding herat onceand shedefying us with her boldsaucy lookand herready words; turningJoseph's religious curses into ridiculebaiting meand doing justwhat her father hated most - showing how herpretended insolencewhich he thought realhad more power overHeathcliff than hiskindness: how the boy would do HERbidding in anythingand HISonly when it suited his own inclination. After behaving as badlyas possible all dayshe sometimes camefondling to make it up atnight. 'NayCathy' the old man wouldsay'I cannot love theethou'rt worse than thy brother. Gosaythy prayerschildandask God's pardon. I doubt thy mother andI must rue that we everreared thee!' That made her cryatfirst; and then being repulsedcontinually hardened herand she laughed if Itold her to say shewas sorry for her faultsand beg to beforgiven.
But the hour cameat lastthat ended Mr.Earnshaw's troubles onearth. He died quietly in his chair oneOctober eveningseated bythe fire-side. A high wind blusteredround the houseand roaredin the chimney: it sounded wild andstormyyet it was not coldand we were all together - Ia little removedfrom the hearthbusy at my knittingand Joseph reading hisBible near the table(for the servants generally sat in the housethenafter their workwas done). Miss Cathy had been sickandthat made her still; sheleant against her father's kneeand Heathcliffwas lying on thefloor with his head in her lap. Iremember the masterbefore hefell into a dozestroking her bonny hair - itpleased him rarelyto see her gentle - and saying'Why canst thounot always be agood lassCathy?' And she turned herface up to hisand laughedand answered'Why cannot you always be a goodmanfather?' Butas soon as she saw him vexed againshe kissedhis handand saidshe would sing him to sleep. She begansinging very lowtill hisfingers dropped from hersand his head sank onhis breast. Then Itold her to hushand not stirfor fear sheshould wake him. Weall kept as mute as mice a full half-hourandshould have done solongeronly Josephhaving finished hischaptergot up and saidthat he must rouse the master for prayers andbed. He steppedforwardand called him by nameand touchedhis shoulder; but hewould not move: so he took the candle andlooked at him. Ithought there was something wrong as he setdown the light; andseizing the children each by an armwhisperedthem to 'frame up-stairsand make little din - they might prayalone that evening -he had summut to do.'
'I shall bid father good-night first' saidCatherineputting herarms round his neckbefore we could hinderher. The poor thingdiscovered her loss directly - she screamed out- 'Ohhe's deadHeathcliff! he's dead!' And they both setup a heart-breaking cry.
I joined my wail to theirsloud and bitter;but Joseph asked whatwe could be thinking of to roar in that wayover a saint in heaven.He told me to put on my cloak and run toGimmerton for the doctorand the parson. I could not guess the usethat either would be ofthen. HoweverI wentthrough wind andrainand brought onethedoctorback with me; the other said he wouldcome in the morning.Leaving Joseph to explain mattersI ran to thechildren's room:their door was ajarI saw they had never laindownthough it waspast midnight; but they were calmerand didnot need me to consolethem. The little souls were comfortingeach other with betterthoughts than I could have hit on: noparson in the world everpictured heaven so beautifully as they didintheir innocent talk;andwhile I sobbed and listenedI could nothelp wishing we wereall there safe together.
MR. HINDLEY came home to the funeral; and - athing that amazed usand set the neighbours gossiping right and left- he brought a wifewith him. What she wasand where she wasbornhe never informedus: probablyshe had neither money norname to recommend herorhe would scarcely have kept the union from hisfather.
She was not one that would have disturbed thehouse much on her ownaccount. Every object she sawthe momentshe crossed thethresholdappeared to delight her; and everycircumstance thattook place about her: except thepreparing for the burialand thepresence of the mourners. I thought shewas half sillyfrom herbehaviour while that went on: she raninto her chamberand mademe come with herthough I should have beendressing the children:and there she sat shivering and clasping herhandsand askingrepeatedly - 'Are they gone yet?' Thenshe began describing withhysterical emotion the effect it produced onher to see black; andstartedand trembledandat lastfella-weeping - and when Iasked what was the matteransweredshe didn'tknow; but she feltso afraid of dying! I imagined her aslittle likely to die asmyself. She was rather thinbut youngand fresh-complexionedand her eyes sparkled as bright as diamonds. I did remarkto besurethat mounting the stairs made her breathevery quick; thatthe least sudden noise set her all in a quiverand that shecoughed troublesomely sometimes: but Iknew nothing of what thesesymptoms portendedand had no impulse tosympathise with her. Wedon't in general take to foreigners hereMr.Lockwoodunless theytake to us first.
Young Earnshaw was altered considerably in thethree years of hisabsence. He had grown sparerand losthis colourand spoke anddressed quite differently; andon the very dayof his returnhetold Joseph and me we must thenceforth quarterourselves in theback-kitchenand leave the house for him. Indeedhe would havecarpeted and papered a small spare room for aparlour; but his wifeexpressed such pleasure at the white floor andhuge glowingfireplaceat the pewter dishes and delf-caseand dog-kennelandthe wide space there was to move about in wherethey usually satthat he thought it unnecessary to her comfortand so dropped theintention.
She expressed pleasuretooat finding asister among her newacquaintance; and she prattled to Catherineand kissed herandran about with herand gave her quantities ofpresentsat thebeginning. Her affection tired very soonhoweverand when shegrew peevishHindley became tyrannical. A few words from herevincing a dislike to Heathcliffwere enoughto rouse in him allhis old hatred of the boy. He drove himfrom their company to theservantsdeprived him of the instructions ofthe curateandinsisted that he should labour out of doorsinstead; compelling himto do so as hard as any other lad on the farm.
Heathcliff bore his degradation pretty well atfirstbecause Cathytaught him what she learntand worked orplayed with him in thefields. They both promised fair to growup as rude as savages; theyoung master being entirely negligent how theybehavedand whatthey didso they kept clear of him. Hewould not even have seenafter their going to church on SundaysonlyJoseph and the curatereprimanded his carelessness when they absentedthemselves; andthat reminded him to order Heathcliff afloggingand Catherine afast from dinner or supper. But it wasone of their chiefamusements to run away to the moors in themorning and remain thereall dayand the after punishment grew a merething to laugh at.The curate might set as many chapters as hepleased for Catherineto get by heartand Joseph might thrashHeathcliff till his armached; they forgot everything the minute theywere together again:at least the minute they had contrived somenaughty plan ofrevenge; and many a time I've cried to myselfto watch them growingmore reckless dailyand I not daring to speaka syllablefor fearof losing the small power I still retained overthe unfriendedcreatures. One Sunday eveningit chancedthat they were banishedfrom the sitting-roomfor making a noiseor alight offence ofthe kind; and when I went to call them tosupperI could discoverthem nowhere. We searched the houseabove and belowand the yardand stables; they were invisible: andatlastHindley in apassion told us to bolt the doorsand sworenobody should let themin that night. The household went to bed;and Itooanxious tolie downopened my lattice and put my head outto hearkenthoughit rained: determined to admit them inspite of the prohibitionshould they return. In a whileIdistinguished steps coming upthe roadand the light of a lantern glimmeredthrough the gate. Ithrew a shawl over my head and ran to preventthem from waking Mr.Earnshaw by knocking. There wasHeathcliffby himself: it gaveme a start to see him alone.
'Where is Miss Catherine?' I cried hurriedly. 'No accidentIhope?' 'At Thrushcross Grange' heanswered; 'and I would havebeen there toobut they had not the manners toask me to stay.''Wellyou will catch it!' I said: 'you'll never be content tillyou're sent about your business. What inthe world led youwandering to Thrushcross Grange?' 'Let meget off my wet clothesand I'll tell you all about itNelly' hereplied. I bid himbeware of rousing the masterand while heundressed and I waitedto put out the candlehe continued - 'Cathyand I escaped from thewash-house to have a ramble at libertyandgetting a glimpse ofthe Grange lightswe thought we would just goand see whether theLintons passed their Sunday evenings standingshivering in cornerswhile their father and mother sat eating anddrinkingand singingand laughingand burning their eyes out beforethe fire. Do youthink they do? Or reading sermonsandbeing catechised by theirmanservantand set to learn a column ofScripture namesif theydon't answer properly?' 'Probably not' Iresponded. 'They aregood childrenno doubtand don't deserve thetreatment youreceivefor your bad conduct.' 'Don'tcantNelly' he said:'nonsense! We ran from the top of theHeights to the parkwithoutstopping - Catherine completely beaten in theracebecause she wasbarefoot. You'll have to seek for hershoes in the bog to-morrow.We crept through a broken hedgegroped our wayup the pathandplanted ourselves on a flower-plot under thedrawing-room window.The light came from thence; they had not put upthe shuttersandthe curtains were only half closed. Bothof us were able to lookin by standing on the basementand clinging tothe ledgeand wesaw - ah! it was beautiful - a splendid placecarpeted withcrimsonand crimson-covered chairs and tablesand a pure whiteceiling bordered by golda shower ofglass-drops hanging in silverchains from the centreand shimmering withlittle soft tapers.Old Mr. and Mrs. Linton were not there; Edgarand his sisters hadit entirely to themselves. Shouldn't theyhave been happy? Weshould have thought ourselves in heaven! And nowguess what yourgood children were doing? Isabella - Ibelieve she is elevenayear younger than Cathy - lay screaming at thefarther end of theroomshrieking as if witches were runningred-hot needles intoher. Edgar stood on the hearth weepingsilentlyand in the middleof the table sat a little dogshaking its pawand yelping; whichfrom their mutual accusationswe understoodthey had nearly pulledin two between them. The idiots! That was their pleasure! toquarrel who should hold a heap of warm hairand each begin to crybecause bothafter struggling to get itrefused to take it. Welaughed outright at the petted things; we diddespise them! Whenwould you catch me wishing to have whatCatherine wanted? or findus by ourselvesseeking entertainment inyellingand sobbingandrolling on the grounddivided by the wholeroom? I'd notexchangefor a thousand livesmy conditionherefor EdgarLinton's at Thrushcross Grange - not if I mighthave the privilegeof flinging Joseph off the highest gableandpainting the house-front with Hindley's blood!'
'Hushhush!' I interrupted. 'Still youhave not told meHeathcliffhow Catherine is left behind?'
'I told you we laughed' he answered. 'The Lintons heard usandwith one accord they shot like arrows to thedoor; there wassilenceand then a cry"Ohmammamamma! Ohpapa! Ohmammacome here. Ohpapaoh!" Theyreally did howl out something inthat way. We made frightful noises toterrify them still moreandthen we dropped off the ledgebecause somebodywas drawing thebarsand we felt we had better flee. Ihad Cathy by the handandwas urging her onwhen all at once she felldown. "RunHeathcliffrun!" she whispered. "They have let the bull-doglooseand he holds me!" The devilhad seized her ankleNelly: Iheard his abominable snorting. She didnot yell out - no! shewould have scorned to do itif she had beenspitted on the hornsof a mad cow. I didthough: Ivociferated curses enough toannihilate any fiend in Christendom; and I gota stone and thrustit between his jawsand tried with all mymight to cram it downhis throat. A beast of a servant came upwith a lanternat lastshouting - "Keep fastSkulkerkeepfast!" He changed his notehoweverwhen he saw Skulker's game. Thedog was throttled off;his hugepurple tongue hanging half a foot outof his mouthandhis pendent lips streaming with bloody slaver. The man took Cathyup; she was sick: not from fearI'mcertainbut from pain. Hecarried her in; I followedgrumblingexecrations and vengeance."What preyRobert?" hallooed Lintonfrom the entrance. "Skulkerhas caught a little girlsir" hereplied; "and there's a ladhere" he addedmaking a clutch at me"who looks an out-and-outer! Very like the robbers were forputting them through thewindow to open the doors to the gang after allwere asleepthatthey might murder us at their ease. Holdyour tongueyou foul-mouthed thiefyou! you shall go to the gallowsfor this. Mr.Lintonsirdon't lay by your gun." "NonoRobert" said theold fool. "The rascals knew thatyesterday was my rent-day: theythought to have me cleverly. Come in;I'll furnish them areception. ThereJohnfasten thechain. Give Skulker somewaterJenny. To beard a magistrate inhis strongholdand on theSabbathtoo! Where will their insolencestop? Ohmy dear Marylook here! Don't be afraidit is but aboy - yet the villainscowls so plainly in his face; would it not bea kindness to thecountry to hang him at oncebefore he showshis nature in acts aswell as features?" He pulled meunder the chandelierand Mrs.Linton placed her spectacles on her nose andraised her hands inhorror. The cowardly children creptnearer alsoIsabella lisping- "Frightful thing! Put him in thecellarpapa. He's exactlylike the son of the fortune-teller that stolemy tame pheasant.Isn't heEdgar?"
'While they examined meCathy came round; sheheard the lastspeechand laughed. Edgar Lintonafteran inquisitive starecollected sufficient wit to recognise her. They see us at churchyou knowthough we seldom meet themelsewhere. "That's MissEarnshaw?" he whispered to his mother"and look how Skulker hasbitten her - how her foot bleeds!"
'"Miss Earnshaw? Nonsense!"cried the dame; "Miss Earnshawscouring the country with a gipsy! Andyetmy dearthe child isin mourning - surely it is - and she may belamed for life!"
'"What culpable carelessness in herbrother!" exclaimed Mr. Lintonturning from me to Catherine. "I'veunderstood from Shielders"'(that was the curatesir) '"that he letsher grow up in absoluteheathenism. But who is this? Wheredid she pick up thiscompanion? Oho! I declare he is thatstrange acquisition my lateneighbour madein his journey to Liverpool - alittle Lascaroran American or Spanish castaway."
'"A wicked boyat all events"remarked the old lady"and quiteunfit for a decent house! Did you noticehis languageLinton?I'm shocked that my children should have heardit."
'I recommenced cursing - don't be angryNelly- and so Robert wasordered to take me off. I refused to gowithout Cathy; he draggedme into the gardenpushed the lantern into myhandassured methat Mr. Earnshaw should be informed of mybehaviourandbiddingme march directlysecured the door again. The curtains were stilllooped up at one cornerand I resumed mystation as spy; becauseif Catherine had wished to returnI intendedshattering theirgreat glass panes to a million of fragmentsunless they let herout. She sat on the sofa quietly. Mrs. Linton took off the greycloak of the dairy-maid which we had borrowedfor our excursionshaking her head and expostulating with herIsuppose: she was ayoung ladyand they made a distinction betweenher treatment andmine. Then the woman-servant brought abasin of warm waterandwashed her feet; and Mr. Linton mixed a tumblerof negusandIsabella emptied a plateful of cakes into herlapand Edgar stoodgaping at a distance. Afterwardstheydried and combed herbeautiful hairand gave her a pair of enormousslippersandwheeled her to the fire; and I left herasmerry as she could bedividing her food between the little dog andSkulkerwhose noseshe pinched as he ate; and kindling a spark ofspirit in the vacantblue eyes of the Lintons - a dim reflectionfrom her own enchantingface. I saw they were full of stupidadmiration; she is soimmeasurably superior to them - to everybody onearthis she notNelly?'
'There will more come of this business than youreckon on' Iansweredcovering him up and extinguishing thelight. 'You areincurableHeathcliff; and Mr. Hindley willhave to proceed toextremitiessee if he won't.' My wordscame truer than I desired.The luckless adventure made Earnshaw furious. And then Mr. Lintonto mend matterspaid us a visit himself on themorrowand readthe young master such a lecture on the road heguided his familythat he was stirred to look about himinearnest. Heathcliffreceived no floggingbut he was told that thefirst word he spoketo Miss Catherine should ensure a dismissal;and Mrs. Earnshawundertook to keep her sister-in-law in duerestraint when shereturned home; employing artnot force: with force she would havefound it impossible.
CATHY stayed at Thrushcross Grange five weeks: till Christmas. Bythat time her ankle was thoroughly curedandher manners muchimproved. The mistress visited her oftenin the intervalandcommenced her plan of reform by trying to raiseher self-respectwith fine clothes and flatterywhich she tookreadily; so thatinstead of a wildhatless little savagejumping into the houseand rushing to squeeze us all breathlessthere'lighted from ahandsome black pony a very dignified personwith brown ringletsfalling from the cover of a feathered beaverand a long clothhabitwhich she was obliged to hold up withboth hands that shemight sail in. Hindley lifted her fromher horseexclaimingdelightedly'WhyCathyyou are quite abeauty! I shouldscarcely have known you: you look like alady now. IsabellaLinton is not to be compared with heris sheFrances?' 'Isabellahas not her natural advantages' replied hiswife: 'but she mustmind and not grow wild again here. Ellenhelp Miss Catherine offwith her things - Staydearyou willdisarrange your curls - letme untie your hat.'
I removed the habitand there shone forthbeneath a grand plaidsilk frockwhite trousersand burnishedshoes; andwhile hereyes sparkled joyfully when the dogs camebounding up to welcomehershe dared hardly touch them lest theyshould fawn upon hersplendid garments. She kissed me gently: I was all flour makingthe Christmas cakeand it would not have doneto give me a hug;and then she looked round for Heathcliff. Mr. and Mrs. Earnshawwatched anxiously their meeting; thinking itwould enable them tojudgein some measurewhat grounds they hadfor hoping to succeedin separating the two friends.
Heathcliff was hard to discoverat first. If he were carelessand uncared forbefore Catherine's absencehehad been ten timesmore so since. Nobody but I even did himthe kindness to call hima dirty boyand bid him wash himselfonce aweek; and children ofhis age seldom have a natural pleasure in soapand water.Thereforenot to mention his clotheswhichhad seen three months'service in mire and dustand his thickuncombed hairthe surfaceof his face and hands was dismally beclouded. He might well skulkbehind the settleon beholding such a brightgraceful damselenter the houseinstead of a rough-headedcounterpart of himselfas he expected. 'Is Heathcliff not here?'she demandedpullingoff her glovesand displaying fingerswonderfully whitened withdoing nothing and staying indoors.
'Heathcliffyou may come forward' cried Mr.Hindleyenjoying hisdiscomfitureand gratified to see what aforbidding youngblackguard he would be compelled to presenthimself. 'You may comeand wish Miss Catherine welcomelike the otherservants.'
Cathycatching a glimpse of her friend in hisconcealmentflew toembrace him; she bestowed seven or eight kisseson his cheek withinthe secondand then stoppedand drawing backburst into a laughexclaiming'Whyhow very black and cross youlook! and how - howfunny and grim! But that's because I'mused to Edgar and IsabellaLinton. WellHeathcliffhave youforgotten me?'
She had some reason to put the questionforshame and pride threwdouble gloom over his countenanceand kept himimmovable.
'Shake handsHeathcliff' said Mr. Earnshawcondescendingly;'once in a waythat is permitted.'
'I shall not' replied the boyfinding histongue at last; 'Ishall not stand to be laughed at. I shallnot bear it!' And hewould have broken from the circlebut MissCathy seized him again.
'I did not mean to laugh at you' she said; 'Icould not hindermyself: Heathcliffshake hands atleast! What are you sulky for?It was only that you looked odd. If youwash your face and brushyour hairit will be all right: but youare so dirty!'
She gazed concernedly at the dusky fingers sheheld in her ownandalso at her dress; which she feared had gainedno embellishmentfrom its contact with his.
'You needn't have touched me!' he answeredfollowing her eye andsnatching away his hand. 'I shall be asdirty as I please: and Ilike to be dirtyand I will be dirty.'
With that he dashed headforemost out of theroomamid themerriment of the master and mistressand tothe seriousdisturbance of Catherine; who could notcomprehend how her remarksshould have produced such an exhibition of badtemper.
After playing lady's-maid to the new-comerandputting my cakes inthe ovenand making the house and kitchencheerful with greatfiresbefitting Christmas-eveI prepared tosit down and amusemyself by singing carolsall alone; regardlessof Joseph'saffirmations that he considered the merry tunesI chose as nextdoor to songs. He had retired to privateprayer in his chamberand Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw were engaging Missy'sattention by sundrygay trifles bought for her to present to thelittle Lintonsas anacknowledgment of their kindness. Theyhad invited them to spendthe morrow at Wuthering Heightsand theinvitation had beenacceptedon one condition: Mrs. Lintonbegged that her darlingsmight be kept carefully apart from that'naughty swearing boy.'
Under these circumstances I remained solitary. I smelt the richscent of the heating spices; and admired theshining kitchenutensilsthe polished clockdecked in hollythe silver mugsranged on a tray ready to be filled with mulledale for supper; andabove allthe speckless purity of myparticular care - the scouredand well-swept floor. I gave due inwardapplause to every objectand then I remembered how old Earnshaw used tocome in when all wastidiedand call me a cant lassand slip ashilling into my handas a Christmas-box; and from that I went on tothink of hisfondness for Heathcliffand his dread lest heshould sufferneglect after death had removed him: andthat naturally led me toconsider the poor lad's situation nowand fromsinging I changedmy mind to crying. It struck me soonhoweverthere would be moresense in endeavouring to repair some of hiswrongs than sheddingtears over them: I got up and walked intothe court to seek him.He was not far; I found him smoothing theglossy coat of the newpony in the stableand feeding the otherbeastsaccording tocustom.
'Make hasteHeathcliff!' I said'the kitchenis so comfortable;and Joseph is up-stairs: make hasteandlet me dress you smartbefore Miss Cathy comes outand then you cansit togetherwiththe whole hearth to yourselvesand have a longchatter tillbedtime.'
He proceeded with his taskand never turnedhis head towards me.
'Come - are you coming?' I continued. 'There's a little cake foreach of younearly enough; and you'll needhalf-an-hour'sdonning.'
I waited five minutesbut getting no answerleft him. Catherinesupped with her brother and sister-in-law: Joseph and I joined atan unsociable mealseasoned with reproofs onone side andsauciness on the other. His cake andcheese remained on the tableall night for the fairies. He managed tocontinue work till nineo'clockand then marched dumb and dour to hischamber. Cathy satup latehaving a world of things to order forthe reception of hernew friends: she came into the kitchenonce to speak to her oldone; but he was goneand she only stayed toask what was thematter with himand then went back. Inthe morning he rose early;andas it was a holidaycarried hisill-humour on to the moors;not re-appearing till the family were departedfor church. Fastingand reflection seemed to have brought him to abetter spirit. Hehung about me for a whileand having screwedup his courageexclaimed abruptly - 'Nellymake me decentI'm going to be good.'
'High timeHeathcliff' I said; 'you HAVEgrieved Catherine:she's sorry she ever came homeI daresay! It looks as if youenvied herbecause she is more thought of thanyou.'
The notion of ENVYING Catherine wasincomprehensible to himbutthe notion of grieving her he understoodclearly enough.
'Did she say she was grieved?' he inquiredlooking very serious.
'She cried when I told her you were off againthis morning.'
'WellI cried last night' he returned'and Ihad more reason tocry than she.'
'Yes: you had the reason of going to bedwith a proud heart and anempty stomach' said I. 'Proud peoplebreed sad sorrows forthemselves. Butif you be ashamed ofyour touchinessyou mustask pardonmindwhen she comes in. Youmust go up and offer tokiss herand say - you know best what to say;only do it heartilyand not as if you thought her converted into astranger by hergrand dress. And nowthough I havedinner to get readyI'llsteal time to arrange you so that Edgar Lintonshall look quite adoll beside you: and that he does. You are youngerand yetI'llbe boundyou are taller and twice as broadacross the shoulders;you could knock him down in a twinkling; don'tyou feel that youcould?'
Heathcliff's face brightened a moment; then itwas overcast afreshand he sighed.
'ButNellyif I knocked him down twentytimesthat wouldn't makehim less handsome or me more so. I wish Ihad light hair and afair skinand was dressed and behaved as welland had a chance ofbeing as rich as he will be!'
'And cried for mamma at every turn' I added'and trembled if acountry lad heaved his fist against youandsat at home all dayfor a shower of rain. OhHeathcliffyouare showing a poorspirit! Come to the glassand I'll letyou see what you shouldwish. Do you mark those two lines betweenyour eyes; and thosethick browsthatinstead of rising archedsink in the middle;and that couple of black fiendsso deeplyburiedwho never opentheir windows boldlybut lurk glinting underthemlike devil'sspies? Wish and learn to smooth away thesurly wrinklesto raiseyour lids franklyand change the fiends toconfidentinnocentangelssuspecting and doubting nothingandalways seeing friendswhere they are not sure of foes. Don'tget the expression of avicious cur that appears to know the kicks itgets are its desertand yet hates all the worldas well as thekickerfor what itsuffers.'
'In other wordsI must wish for Edgar Linton'sgreat blue eyes andeven forehead' he replied. 'I do - andthat won't help me tothem.'
'A good heart will help you to a bonny facemylad' I continued'if you were a regular black; and a bad onewill turn the bonniestinto something worse than ugly. And nowthat we've done washingand combingand sulking - tell me whether youdon't think yourselfrather handsome? I'll tell youI do. You're fit for a prince indisguise. Who knows but your father wasEmperor of Chinaand yourmother an Indian queeneach of them able tobuy upwith oneweek's incomeWuthering Heights andThrushcross Grange together?And you were kidnapped by wicked sailors andbrought to England.Were I in your placeI would frame highnotions of my birth; andthe thoughts of what I was should give mecourage and dignity tosupport the oppressions of a little farmer!'
So I chattered on; and Heathcliff graduallylost his frown andbegan to look quite pleasantwhen all at onceour conversation wasinterrupted by a rumbling sound moving up theroad and entering thecourt. He ran to the window and I to thedoorjust in time tobehold the two Lintons descend from the familycarriagesmotheredin cloaks and fursand the Earnshaws dismountfrom their horses:they often rode to church in winter. Catherine took a hand of eachof the childrenand brought them into thehouse and set thembefore the firewhich quickly put colour intotheir white faces.
I urged my companion to hasten now and show hisamiable humourandhe willingly obeyed; but ill luck would have itthatas he openedthe door leading from the kitchen on one sideHindley opened it onthe other. They metand the masterirritated at seeing him cleanand cheerfulorperhapseager to keep hispromise to Mrs.Lintonshoved him back with a sudden thrustand angrily badeJoseph 'keep the fellow out of the room - sendhim into the garrettill dinner is over. He'll be cramminghis fingers in the tartsand stealing the fruitif left alone with thema minute.'
'Naysir' I could not avoid answering'he'lltouch nothingnothe: and I suppose he must have his shareof the dainties as wellas we.'
'He shall have his share of my handif I catchhim downstairs tilldark' cried Hindley. 'Begoneyouvagabond! What! you areattempting the coxcombare you? Waittill I get hold of thoseelegant locks - see if I won't pull them a bitlonger!'
'They are long enough already' observed MasterLintonpeepingfrom the doorway; 'I wonder they don't make hishead ache. It'slike a colt's mane over his eyes!'
He ventured this remark without any intentionto insult; butHeathcliff's violent nature was not prepared toendure theappearance of impertinence from one whom heseemed to hateeventhenas a rival. He seized a tureen ofhot apple sauce (the firstthing that came under his gripe) and dashed itfull against thespeaker's face and neck; who instantlycommenced a lament thatbrought Isabella and Catherine hurrying to theplace. Mr. Earnshawsnatched up the culprit directly and conveyedhim to his chamber;wheredoubtlesshe administered a roughremedy to cool the fit ofpassionfor he appeared red and breathless. I got the dishclothand rather spitefully scrubbed Edgar's nose andmouthaffirming itserved him right for meddling. His sisterbegan weeping to gohomeand Cathy stood by confoundedblushingfor all.
'You should not have spoken to him!' sheexpostulated with MasterLinton. 'He was in a bad temperand nowyou've spoilt your visit;and he'll be flogged: I hate him to beflogged! I can't eat mydinner. Why did you speak to himEdgar?'
'I didn't' sobbed the youthescaping from myhandsand finishingthe remainder of the purification with hiscambric pocket-handkerchief. 'I promised mamma that Iwouldn't say one word tohimand I didn't.'
'Welldon't cry' replied Catherinecontemptuously; 'you're notkilled. Don't make more mischief; mybrother is coming: be quiet!HushIsabella! Has anybody hurt you?'
'Theretherechildren - to your seats!' criedHindleybustlingin. 'That brute of a lad has warmed menicely. Next timeMasterEdgartake the law into your own fists - itwill give you anappetite!'
The little party recovered its equanimity atsight of the fragrantfeast. They were hungry after their rideand easily consoledsince no real harm had befallen them. Mr.Earnshaw carvedbountiful platefulsand the mistress made themmerry with livelytalk. I waited behind her chairand waspained to beholdCatherinewith dry eyes and an indifferentaircommence cuttingup the wing of a goose before her. 'Anunfeeling child' I thoughtto myself; 'how lightly she dismisses her oldplaymate's troubles.I could not have imagined her to be soselfish.' She lifted amouthful to her lips: then she set itdown again: her cheeksflushedand the tears gushed over them. She slipped her fork tothe floorand hastily dived under the cloth toconceal heremotion. I did not call her unfeelinglong; for I perceived shewas in purgatory throughout the dayandwearying to find anopportunity of getting by herselfor paying avisit to Heathcliffwho had been locked up by the master: asI discoveredonendeavouring to introduce to him a private messof victuals.
In the evening we had a dance. Cathybegged that he might beliberated thenas Isabella Linton had nopartner: her entreatieswere vainand I was appointed to supply thedeficiency. We gotrid of all gloom in the excitement of theexerciseand ourpleasure was increased by the arrival of theGimmerton bandmustering fifteen strong: a trumpetatromboneclarionetsbassoonsFrench hornsand a bass violbesides singers. They gothe rounds of all the respectable housesandreceive contributionsevery Christmasand we esteemed it afirst-rate treat to hearthem. After the usual carols had beensungwe set them to songsand glees. Mrs. Earnshaw loved the musicand so they gave usplenty.
Catherine loved it too: but she said itsounded sweetest at thetop of the stepsand she went up in the dark: I followed. Theyshut the house door belownever noting ourabsenceit was so fullof people. She made no stay at thestairs'-headbut mountedfartherto the garret where Heathcliff wasconfinedand calledhim. He stubbornly declined answering fora while: sheperseveredand finally persuaded him to holdcommunion with herthrough the boards. I let the poor thingsconverse unmolestedtill I supposed the songs were going to ceaseand the singers toget some refreshment: then I clambered upthe ladder to warn her.Instead of finding her outsideI heard hervoice within. Thelittle monkey had crept by the skylight of onegarretalong theroofinto the skylight of the otherand itwas with the utmostdifficulty I could coax her out again. When she did comeHeathcliff came with herand she insisted thatI should take himinto the kitchenas my fellow-servant had goneto a neighbour'sto be removed from the sound of our 'devil'spsalmody' as itpleased him to call it. I told them Iintended by no means toencourage their tricks: but as theprisoner had never broken hisfast since yesterday's dinnerI would wink athis cheating Mr.Hindley that once. He went down: Iset him a stool by the fireand offered him a quantity of good things: but he was sick andcould eat littleand my attempts to entertainhim were thrownaway. He leant his two elbows on hiskneesand his chin on hishands and remained rapt in dumb meditation. On my inquiring thesubject of his thoughtshe answered gravely -'I'm trying tosettle how I shall pay Hindley back. Idon't care how long I waitif I can only do it at last. I hope hewill not die before I do!'
'For shameHeathcliff!' said I. 'It isfor God to punish wickedpeople; we should learn to forgive.'
'NoGod won't have the satisfaction that Ishall' he returned.'I only wish I knew the best way! Let mealoneand I'll plan itout: while I'm thinking of that I don'tfeel pain.'
'ButMr. LockwoodI forget these tales cannotdivert you. I'mannoyed how I should dream of chattering on atsuch a rate; andyour gruel coldand you nodding for bed! I could have toldHeathcliff's historyall that you need hearin half a dozenwords.'
Thus interrupting herselfthe housekeeperroseand proceeded tolay aside her sewing; but I felt incapable ofmoving from thehearthand I was very far from nodding. 'Sit stillMrs. Dean' Icried; 'do sit still another half-hour. You've done just right totell the story leisurely. That is themethod I like; and you mustfinish it in the same style. I aminterested in every characteryou have mentionedmore or less.'
'The clock is on the stroke of elevensir.'
'No matter - I'm not accustomed to go to bed inthe long hours.One or two is early enough for a person wholies till ten.'
'You shouldn't lie till ten. There's thevery prime of the morninggone long before that time. A person whohas not done one-half hisday's work by ten o'clockruns a chance ofleaving the other halfundone.'
'NeverthelessMrs. Deanresume your chair;because to-morrow Iintend lengthening the night till afternoon. I prognosticate formyself an obstinate coldat least.'
'I hope notsir. Wellyou must allow meto leap over some threeyears; during that space Mrs. Earnshaw - '
'NonoI'll allow nothing of the sort! Are you acquainted withthe mood of mind in whichif you were seatedaloneand the catlicking its kitten on the rug before youyouwould watch theoperation so intently that puss's neglect ofone ear would put youseriously out of temper?'
'A terribly lazy moodI should say.'
'On the contrarya tiresomely active one. It is mineat present;andthereforecontinue minutely. Iperceive that people in theseregions acquire over people in towns the valuethat a spider in adungeon does over a spider in a cottagetotheir variousoccupants; and yet the deepened attraction isnot entirely owing tothe situation of the looker-on. They DOlive more in earnestmorein themselvesand less in surfacechangeandfrivolous externalthings. I could fancy a love for lifehere almost possible; and Iwas a fixed unbeliever in any love of a year'sstanding. One stateresembles setting a hungry man down to a singledishon which hemay concentrate his entire appetite and do itjustice; the otherintroducing him to a table laid out by Frenchcooks: he canperhaps extract as much enjoyment from thewhole; but each part isa mere atom in his regard and remembrance.'
'Oh! here we are the same as anywhere elsewhen you get to knowus' observed Mrs. Deansomewhat puzzled at myspeech.
'Excuse me' I responded; 'youmy good friendare a strikingevidence against that assertion. Excepting a few provincialisms ofslight consequenceyou have no marks of themanners which I amhabituated to consider as peculiar to yourclass. I am sure youhave thought a great deal more than thegenerality of servantsthink. You have been compelled tocultivate your reflectivefaculties for want of occasions for fritteringyour life away insilly trifles.'
Mrs. Dean laughed.
'I certainly esteem myself a steadyreasonablekind of body' shesaid; 'not exactly from living among the hillsand seeing one setof facesand one series of actionsfromyear's end to year's end;but I have undergone sharp disciplinewhichhas taught me wisdom;and thenI have read more than you wouldfancyMr. Lockwood. Youcould not open a book in this library that Ihave not looked intoand got something out of also: unless itbe that range of Greekand Latinand that of French; and those I knowone from another:it is as much as you can expect of a poor man'sdaughter. Howeverif I am to follow my story in true gossip'sfashionI had bettergo on; and instead of leaping three yearsIwill be content topass to the next summer - the summer of 1778that is nearlytwenty-three years ago.'
ON the morning of a fine June day my firstbonny little nurslingand the last of the ancient Earnshaw stockwasborn. We were busywith the hay in a far-away fieldwhen the girlthat usuallybrought our breakfasts came running an hour toosoon across themeadow and up the lanecalling me as she ran.
'Ohsuch a grand bairn!' she panted out. 'The finest lad thatever breathed! But the doctor says missismust go: he says she'sbeen in a consumption these many months. I heard him tell Mr.Hindley: and now she has nothing to keepherand she'll be deadbefore winter. You must come homedirectly. You're to nurse itNelly: to feed it with sugar and milkand take care of it day andnight. I wish I were youbecause it willbe all yours when thereis no missis!'
'But is she very ill?' I askedflinging downmy rake and tying mybonnet.
'I guess she is; yet she looks bravely'replied the girl'and shetalks as if she thought of living to see itgrow a man. She's outof her head for joyit's such a beauty! If I were her I'm certainI should not die: I should get better atthe bare sight of itinspite of Kenneth. I was fairly mad athim. Dame Archer broughtthe cherub down to masterin the houseandhis face just began tolight upwhen the old croaker steps forwardand says he -"Earnshawit's a blessing your wife hasbeen spared to leave youthis son. When she cameI felt convincedwe shouldn't keep herlong; and nowI must tell youthe winter willprobably finishher. Don't take onand fret about it toomuch: it can't behelped. And besidesyou should haveknown better than to choosesuch a rush of a lass!"'
'And what did the master answer?' I inquired.
'I think he swore: but I didn't mind himI was straining to seethe bairn' and she began again to describe itrapturously. Iaszealous as herselfhurried eagerly home toadmireon my part;though I was very sad for Hindley's sake. He had room in his heartonly for two idols - his wife and himself: he doted on bothandadored oneand I couldn't conceive how hewould bear the loss.
When we got to Wuthering Heightsthere hestood at the front door;andas I passed inI asked'how was thebaby?'
'Nearly ready to run aboutNell!' he repliedputting on acheerful smile.
'And the mistress?' I ventured to inquire; 'thedoctor says she's -'
'Damn the doctor!' he interruptedreddening. 'Frances is quiteright: she'll be perfectly well by thistime next week. Are yougoing up-stairs? will you tell her that I'llcomeif she'llpromise not to talk. I left her becauseshe would not hold hertongue; and she must - tell her Mr. Kennethsays she must bequiet.'
I delivered this message to Mrs. Earnshaw; sheseemed in flightyspiritsand replied merrily'I hardly spoke awordEllenandthere he has gone out twicecrying. Wellsay I promise I won'tspeak: but that does not bind me not tolaugh at him!'
Poor soul! Till within a week of herdeath that gay heart neverfailed her; and her husband persisted doggedlynayfuriouslyinaffirming her health improved every day. When Kenneth warned himthat his medicines were useless at that stageof the maladyand heneedn't put him to further expense by attendingherhe retorted'I know you need not - she's well - she doesnot want any moreattendance from you! She never was in aconsumption. It was afever; and it is gone: her pulse is asslow as mine nowand hercheek as cool.'
He told his wife the same storyand she seemedto believe him; butone nightwhile leaning on his shoulderinthe act of saying shethought she should be able to get up to-morrowa fit of coughingtook her - a very slight one - he raised her inhis arms; she puther two hands about his neckher face changedand she was dead.
As the girl had anticipatedthe child Haretonfell wholly into myhands. Mr. Earnshawprovided he saw himhealthy and never heardhim crywas contentedas far as regardedhim. For himselfhegrew desperate: his sorrow was of thatkind that will not lament.He neither wept nor prayed; he cursed anddefied: execrated Godand manand gave himself up to recklessdissipation. The servantscould not bear his tyrannical and evil conductlong: Joseph and Iwere the only two that would stay. I hadnot the heart to leave mycharge; and besidesyou knowI had been hisfoster-sisterandexcused his behaviour more readily than astranger would. Josephremained to hector over tenants and labourers;and because it washis vocation to be where he had plenty ofwickedness to reprove.
The master's bad ways and bad companions formeda pretty examplefor Catherine and Heathcliff. Histreatment of the latter wasenough to make a fiend of a saint. Andtrulyit appeared as ifthe lad WERE possessed of something diabolicalat that period. Hedelighted to witness Hindley degrading himselfpast redemption; andbecame daily more notable for savage sullennessand ferocity. Icould not half tell what an infernal house wehad. The curatedropped callingand nobody decent came nearusat last; unlessEdgar Linton's visits to Miss Cathy might be anexception. Atfifteen she was the queen of the country-side;she had no peer; andshe did turn out a haughtyheadstrongcreature! I own I did notlike herafter infancy was past; and I vexedher frequently bytrying to bring down her arrogance: shenever took an aversion tomethough. She had a wondrous constancyto old attachments: evenHeathcliff kept his hold on her affectionsunalterably; and youngLintonwith all his superiorityfound itdifficult to make anequally deep impression. He was my latemaster: that is hisportrait over the fireplace. It used tohang on one sideand hiswife's on the other; but hers has been removedor else you mightsee something of what she was. Can youmake that out?
Mrs. Dean raised the candleand I discerned asoft-featured faceexceedingly resembling the young lady at theHeightsbut morepensive and amiable in expression. Itformed a sweet picture. Thelong light hair curled slightly on the temples;the eyes were largeand serious; the figure almost too graceful. I did not marvel howCatherine Earnshaw could forget her firstfriend for such anindividual. I marvelled much how hewitha mind to correspondwith his personcould fancy my idea ofCatherine Earnshaw.
'A very agreeable portrait' I observed to thehouse-keeper. 'Isit like?'
'Yes' she answered; 'but he looked better whenhe was animated;that is his everyday countenance: hewanted spirit in general.'
Catherine had kept up her acquaintance with theLintons since herfive-weeks' residence among them; and as shehad no temptation toshow her rough side in their companyand hadthe sense to beashamed of being rude where she experiencedsuch invariablecourtesyshe imposed unwittingly on the oldlady and gentleman byher ingenious cordiality; gained the admirationof Isabellaandthe heart and soul of her brother: acquisitions that flattered herfrom the first - for she was full of ambition -and led her toadopt a double character without exactlyintending to deceive anyone. In the place where she heardHeathcliff termed a 'vulgaryoung ruffian' and 'worse than a brute' shetook care not to actlike him; but at home she had small inclinationto practisepoliteness that would only be laughed atandrestrain an unrulynature when it would bring her neither creditnor praise.
Mr. Edgar seldom mustered courage to visitWuthering Heightsopenly. He had a terror of Earnshaw'sreputationand shrunk fromencountering him; and yet he was alwaysreceived with our bestattempts at civility: the master himselfavoided offending himknowing why he came; and if he could not begraciouskept out ofthe way. I rather think his appearancethere was distasteful toCatherine; she was not artfulnever played thecoquetteand hadevidently an objection to her two friendsmeeting at all; for whenHeathcliff expressed contempt of Linton in hispresenceshe couldnot half coincideas she did in his absence;and when Lintonevinced disgust and antipathy to Heathcliffshe dared not treathis sentiments with indifferenceas ifdepreciation of herplaymate were of scarcely any consequence toher. I've had many alaugh at her perplexities and untold troubleswhich she vainlystrove to hide from my mockery. Thatsounds ill-natured: but shewas so proud it became really impossible topity her distressestill she should be chastened into morehumility. She did bringherselffinallyto confessand to confide inme: there was nota soul else that she might fashion into anadviser.
Mr. Hindley had gone from home one afternoonand Heathcliffpresumed to give himself a holiday on thestrength of it. He hadreached the age of sixteen thenI thinkandwithout having badfeaturesor being deficient in intellecthecontrived to conveyan impression of inward and outwardrepulsiveness that his presentaspect retains no traces of. In the firstplacehe had by thattime lost the benefit of his early education: continual hard workbegun soon and concluded latehad extinguishedany curiosity heonce possessed in pursuit of knowledgeand anylove for books orlearning. His childhood's sense ofsuperiorityinstilled into himby the favours of old Mr. Earnshawwas fadedaway. He struggledlong to keep up an equality with Catherine inher studiesandyielded with poignant though silent regret: but he yieldedcompletely; and there was no prevailing on himto take a step inthe way of moving upwardwhen he found hemustnecessarilysinkbeneath his former level. Then personalappearance sympathisedwith mental deterioration: he acquired aslouching gait andignoble look; his naturally reserveddisposition was exaggeratedinto an almost idiotic excess of unsociablemoroseness; and he tooka grim pleasureapparentlyin exciting theaversion rather thanthe esteem of his few acquaintance.
Catherine and he were constant companions stillat his seasons ofrespite from labour; but he had ceased toexpress his fondness forher in wordsand recoiled with angry suspicionfrom her girlishcaressesas if conscious there could be nogratification inlavishing such marks of affection on him. On the before-namedoccasion he came into the house to announce hisintention of doingnothingwhile I was assisting Miss Cathy toarrange her dress:she had not reckoned on his taking it into hishead to be idle; andimagining she would have the whole place toherselfshe managedby some meansto inform Mr. Edgar of herbrother's absenceandwas then preparing to receive him.
'Cathyare you busy this afternoon?' askedHeathcliff. 'Are yougoing anywhere?'
'Noit is raining' she answered.
'Why have you that silk frock onthen?' hesaid. 'Nobody cominghereI hope?'
'Not that I know of' stammered Miss: 'but you should be in thefield nowHeathcliff. It is an hour pastdinnertime: I thoughtyou were gone.'
'Hindley does not often free us from hisaccursed presence'observed the boy. 'I'll not work any moreto-day: I'll stay withyou.'
'Ohbut Joseph will tell' she suggested;'you'd better go!'
'Joseph is loading lime on the further side ofPenistone Crags; itwill take him till darkand he'll never know.'
Sosayinghe lounged to the fireand satdown. Catherinereflected an instantwith knitted brows - shefound it needful tosmooth the way for an intrusion. 'Isabella and Edgar Linton talkedof calling this afternoon' she saidat theconclusion of aminute's silence. 'As it rainsI hardlyexpect them; but they maycomeand if they doyou run the risk of beingscolded for nogood.'
'Order Ellen to say you are engagedCathy' hepersisted; 'don'tturn me out for those pitifulsilly friends ofyours! I'm on thepointsometimesof complaining that they -but I'll not - '
'That they what?' cried Catherinegazing athim with a troubledcountenance. 'OhNelly!' she addedpetulantlyjerking her headaway from my hands'you've combed my hairquite out of curl!That's enough; let me alone. What are youon the point ofcomplaining aboutHeathcliff?'
'Nothing - only look at the almanack on thatwall;' he pointed to aframed sheet hanging near the windowandcontinued'The crossesare for the evenings you have spent with theLintonsthe dots forthose spent with me. Do you see? I've marked every day.'
'Yes - very foolish: as if I tooknotice!' replied Catherinein apeevish tone. 'And where is the sense ofthat?'
'To show that I DO take notice' saidHeathcliff.
'And should I always be sitting with you?' shedemandedgrowingmore irritated. 'What good do I get? What do you talk about? Youmight be dumbor a babyfor anything you sayto amuse meor foranything you doeither!'
'You never told me before that I talked toolittleor that youdisliked my companyCathy!' exclaimedHeathcliffin muchagitation.
'It's no company at allwhen people knownothing and say nothing'she muttered.
Her companion rose upbut he hadn't time toexpress his feelingsfurtherfor a horse's feet were heard on theflagsand havingknocked gentlyyoung Linton enteredhis facebrilliant withdelight at the unexpected summon she hadreceived. DoubtlessCatherine marked the difference between herfriendsas one came inand the other went out. The contrastresembled what you see inexchanging a bleakhillycoal country for abeautiful fertilevalley; and his voice and greeting were asopposite as his aspect.He had a sweetlow manner of speakingandpronounced his words asyou do: that's less gruff than we talkhereand softer.
'I'm not come too soonam I?' he saidcastinga look at me: Ihad begun to wipe the plateand tidy somedrawers at the far endin the dresser.
'No' answered Catherine. 'What are youdoing thereNelly?'
'My workMiss' I replied. (Mr. Hindleyhad given me directionsto make a third party in any private visitsLinton chose to pay.)
She stepped behind me and whispered crossly'Take yourself andyour dusters off; when company are in thehouseservants don'tcommence scouring and cleaning in the roomwhere they are!'
'It's a good opportunitynow that master isaway' I answeredaloud: 'he hates me to be fidgeting overthese things in hispresence. I'm sure Mr. Edgar will excuseme.'
'I hate you to be fidgeting in MY presence'exclaimed the younglady imperiouslynot allowing her guest timeto speak: she hadfailed to recover her equanimity since thelittle dispute withHeathcliff.
'I'm sorry for itMiss Catherine' was myresponse; and Iproceeded assiduously with my occupation.
Shesupposing Edgar could not see hersnatched the cloth from myhandand pinched mewith a prolonged wrenchvery spitefully onthe arm. I've said I did not love herand rather relishedmortifying her vanity now and then: besidesshe hurt meextremely; so I started up from my kneesandscreamed out'OhMissthat's a nasty trick! You have noright to nip meand I'mnot going to bear it.'
'I didn't touch youyou lying creature!' criedsheher fingerstingling to repeat the actand her ears redwith rage. She neverhad power to conceal her passionit always sether wholecomplexion in a blaze.
'What's thatthen?' I retortedshowing adecided purple witnessto refute her.
She stamped her footwavered a momentandthenirresistiblyimpelled by the naughty spirit within herslapped me on the cheek:a stinging blow that filled both eyes withwater.
'Catherinelove! Catherine!' interposedLintongreatly shockedat the double fault of falsehood and violencewhich his idol hadcommitted.
'Leave the roomEllen!' she repeatedtrembling all over.
Little Haretonwho followed me everywhereandwas sitting near meon the floorat seeing my tears commencedcrying himselfandsobbed out complaints against 'wicked auntCathy' which drew herfury on to his unlucky head: she seizedhis shouldersand shookhim till the poor child waxed lividand Edgarthoughtlessly laidhold of her hands to deliver him. In aninstant one was wrungfreeand the astonished young man felt itapplied over his own earin a way that could not be mistaken for jest. He drew back inconsternation. I lifted Hareton in myarmsand walked off to thekitchen with himleaving the door ofcommunication openfor I wascurious to watch how they would settle theirdisagreement. Theinsulted visitor moved to the spot where he hadlaid his hatpaleand with a quivering lip.
'That's right!' I said to myself. 'Takewarning and begone! It'sa kindness to let you have a glimpse of hergenuine disposition.'
'Where are you going?' demanded Catherineadvancing to the door.
He swerved asideand attempted to pass.
'You must not go!' she exclaimedenergetically.
'I must and shall!' he replied in a subduedvoice.
'No' she persistedgrasping the handle; 'notyetEdgar Linton:sit down; you shall not leave me in thattemper. I should bemiserable all nightand I won't be miserablefor you!'
'Can I stay after you have struck me?' askedLinton.
Catherine was mute.
'You've made me afraid and ashamed of you' hecontinued; 'I'll notcome here again!'
Her eyes began to glisten and her lids totwinkle.
'And you told a deliberate untruth!' he said.
'I didn't!' she criedrecovering her speech;'I did nothingdeliberately. Wellgoif you please -get away! And now I'llcry - I'll cry myself sick!'
She dropped down on her knees by a chairandset to weeping inserious earnest. Edgar persevered in hisresolution as far as thecourt; there he lingered. I resolved toencourage him.
'Miss is dreadfully waywardsir' I calledout. 'As bad as anymarred child: you'd better be ridinghomeor else she will besickonly to grieve us.'
The soft thing looked askance through thewindow: he possessed thepower to depart as much as a cat possesses thepower to leave amouse half killedor a bird half eaten. AhI thoughtthere willbe no saving him: he's doomedand fliesto his fate! And so itwas: he turned abruptlyhastened intothe house againshut thedoor behind him; and when I went in a whileafter to inform themthat Earnshaw had come home rabid drunkreadyto pull the wholeplace about our ears (his ordinary frame ofmind in thatcondition)I saw the quarrel had merelyeffected a closer intimacy- had broken the outworks of youthful timidityand enabled them toforsake the disguise of friendshipand confessthemselves lovers.
Intelligence of Mr. Hindley's arrival droveLinton speedily to hishorseand Catherine to her chamber. Iwent to hide littleHaretonand to take the shot out of themaster's fowling-piecewhich he was fond of playing with in his insaneexcitementto thehazard of the lives of any who provokedoreven attracted hisnotice too much; and I had hit upon the plan ofremoving itthathe might do less mischief if he did go thelength of firing thegun.
HE enteredvociferating oaths dreadful tohear; and caught me inthe act of stowing his son sway in the kitchencupboard. Haretonwas impressed with a wholesome terror ofencountering either hiswild beast's fondness or his madman's rage; forin one he ran achance of being squeezed and kissed to deathand in the other ofbeing flung into the fireor dashed againstthe wall; and the poorthing remained perfectly quiet wherever I choseto put him.
'ThereI've found it out at last!' criedHindleypulling me backby the skin of my necklike a dog. 'Byheaven and hellyou'vesworn between you to murder that child! Iknow how it isnowthat he is always out of my way. Butwith the help of SatanIshall make you swallow the carving-knifeNelly! You needn'tlaugh; for I've just crammed Kennethhead-downmostin the Black-horse marsh; and two is the same as one - and Iwant to kill someof you: I shall have no rest till I do!'
'But I don't like the carving-knifeMr.Hindley' I answered; 'ithas been cutting red herrings. I'd ratherbe shotif you please.'
'You'd rather be damned!' he said; 'and so youshall. No law inEngland can hinder a man from keeping his housedecentand mine'sabominable! Open your mouth.' Heheld the knife in his handandpushed its point between my teeth: butfor my partI was nevermuch afraid of his vagaries. I spat outand affirmed it tasteddetestably - I would not take it on anyaccount.
'Oh!' said hereleasing me'I see thathideous little villain isnot Hareton: I beg your pardonNell. If it behe deservesflaying alive for not running to welcome meand for screaming asif I were a goblin. Unnatural cubcomehither! I'll teach theeto impose on a good-hearteddeluded father. Nowdon't you thinkthe lad would be handsomer cropped? Itmakes a dog fiercerand Ilove something fierce - get me a scissors -something fierce andtrim! Besidesit's infernal affectation- devilish conceit it isto cherish our ears - we're asses enoughwithout them. Hushchildhush! Well thenit is my darling!wishtdry thy eyes -there's a joy; kiss me. What! it won't? Kiss meHareton! Damntheekiss me! By Godas if I would rearsuch a monster! As sureas I'm livingI'll break the brat's neck.'
Poor Hareton was squalling and kicking in hisfather's arms withall his mightand redoubled his yells when hecarried him up-stairs and lifted him over the banister. I cried out that he wouldfrighten the child into fitsand ran to rescuehim. As I reachedthemHindley leant forward on the rails tolisten to a noisebelow; almost forgetting what he had in hishands. 'Who is that?'he askedhearing some one approaching thestairs'-foot. I leantforward alsofor the purpose of signing toHeathcliffwhose stepI recognisednot to come further; andat theinstant when my eyequitted Haretonhe gave a sudden springdelivered himself fromthe careless grasp that held himand fell.
There was scarcely time to experience a thrillof horror before wesaw that the little wretch was safe. Heathcliff arrived underneathjust at the critical moment; by a naturalimpulse he arrested hisdescentand setting him on his feetlooked upto discover theauthor of the accident. A miser who hasparted with a luckylottery ticket for five shillingsand findsnext day he has lostin the bargain five thousand poundscould notshow a blankercountenance than he did on beholding the figureof Mr. Earnshawabove. It expressedplainer than wordscould dothe intensestanguish at having made himself the instrumentof thwarting his ownrevenge. Had it been darkI daresay hewould have tried to remedythe mistake by smashing Hareton's skull on thesteps; butwewitnessed his salvation; and I was presentlybelow with my preciouscharge pressed to my heart. Hindleydescended more leisurelysobered and abashed.
'It is your faultEllen' he said; 'you shouldhave kept him outof sight: you should have taken him fromme! Is he injuredanywhere?'
'Injured!' I cried angrily; 'if he is notkilledhe'll be anidiot! Oh! I wonder his mother doesnot rise from her grave tosee how you use him. You're worse than aheathen - treating yourown flesh and blood in that manner!' Heattempted to touch thechildwhoon finding himself with mesobbedoff his terrordirectly. At the first finger his fatherlaid on himhoweverheshrieked again louder than beforeandstruggled as if he would gointo convulsions.
'You shall not meddle with him!' I continued. 'He hates you - theyall hate you - that's the truth! A happyfamily you have; and apretty state you're come to!'
'I shall come to a prettieryetNelly'laughed the misguidedmanrecovering his hardness. 'Atpresentconvey yourself and himaway. And hark youHeathcliff! clear youtoo quite from my reachand hearing. I wouldn't murder youto-night; unlessperhapsIset the house on fire: but that's as myfancy goes.'
While saying this he took a pint bottle ofbrandy from the dresserand poured some into a tumbler.
'Naydon't!' I entreated. 'Mr. Hindleydo take warning. Havemercy on this unfortunate boyif you carenothing for yourself!'
'Any one will do better for him than I shall'he answered.
'Have mercy on your own soul!' I saidendeavouring to snatch theglass from his hand.
'Not I! On the contraryI shall havegreat pleasure in sending itto perdition to punish its Maker' exclaimedthe blasphemer.'Here's to its hearty damnation!'
He drank the spirits and impatiently bade usgo; terminating hiscommand with a sequel of horrid imprecationstoo bad to repeat orremember.
'It's a pity he cannot kill himself withdrink' observedHeathcliffmuttering an echo of curses backwhen the door wasshut. 'He's doing his very utmost; buthis constitution defieshim. Mr. Kenneth says he would wager hismare that he'll outliveany man on this side Gimmertonand go to thegrave a hoary sinner;unless some happy chance out of the commoncourse befall him.'
I went into the kitchenand sat down to lullmy little lamb tosleep. Heathcliffas I thoughtwalkedthrough to the barn. Itturned out afterwards that he only got as faras the other side thesettlewhen he flung himself on a bench by thewallremoved fromthe fire and remained silent.
I was rocking Hareton on my kneeand humming asong that began-
It was far in the nightand the bairniesgratThe mither beneath the mools heard that
when Miss Cathywho had listened to the hubbubfrom her roomputher head inand whispered- 'Are you aloneNelly?'
'YesMiss' I replied.
She entered and approached the hearth. Isupposing she was goingto say somethinglooked up. Theexpression of her face seemeddisturbed and anxious. Her lips were halfasunderas if she meantto speakand she drew a breath; but it escapedin a sigh insteadof a sentence. I resumed my song; nothaving forgotten her recentbehaviour.
'Where's Heathcliff?' she saidinterruptingme.
'About his work in the stable' was my answer.
He did not contradict me; perhaps he had falleninto a doze. Therefollowed another long pauseduring which Iperceived a drop or twotrickle from Catherine's cheek to the flags. Is she sorry for hershameful conduct? - I asked myself. Thatwill be a novelty: butshe may come to the point - as she will - Isha'n't help her! Noshe felt small trouble regarding any subjectsave her ownconcerns.
'Ohdear!' she cried at last. 'I'm veryunhappy!'
'A pity' observed I. 'You're hard toplease; so many friends andso few caresand can't make yourself content!'
'Nellywill you keep a secret for me?' shepursuedkneeling downby meand lifting her winsome eyes to my facewith that sort oflook which turns off bad tempereven when onehas all the right inthe world to indulge it.
'Is it worth keeping?' I inquiredlesssulkily.
'Yesand it worries meand I must let itout! I want to knowwhat I should do. To-dayEdgar Lintonhas asked me to marry himand I've given him an answer. NowbeforeI tell you whether itwas a consent or denialyou tell me which itought to have been.'
'ReallyMiss Catherinehow can I know?' Ireplied. 'To be sureconsidering the exhibition you performed in hispresence thisafternoonI might say it would be wise torefuse him: since heasked you after thathe must either behopelessly stupid or aventuresome fool.'
'If you talk soI won't tell you any more'she returnedpeevishly rising to her feet. 'I acceptedhimNelly. Be quickand say whether I was wrong!'
'You accepted him! Then what good is itdiscussing the matter?You have pledged your wordand cannotretract.'
'But say whether I should have done so - do!'she exclaimed in anirritated tone; chafing her hands togetherandfrowning.
'There are many things to be considered beforethat question can beanswered properly' I saidsententiously. 'First and foremostdoyou love Mr. Edgar?'
'Who can help it? Of course I do' sheanswered.
Then I put her through the followingcatechism: for a girl oftwenty-two it was not injudicious.
'Why do you love himMiss Cathy?'
'NonsenseI do - that's sufficient.'
'By no means; you must say why?'
'Wellbecause he is handsomeand pleasant tobe with.'
'Bad!' was my commentary.
'And because he is young and cheerful.'
'And because he loves me.'
'And he will be richand I shall like to bethe greatest woman ofthe neighbourhoodand I shall be proud ofhaving such a husband.'
'Worst of all. And nowsay how you lovehim?'
'As everybody loves - You're sillyNelly.'
'Not at all - Answer.'
'I love the ground under his feetand the airover his headandeverything he touchesand every word he says. I love all hislooksand all his actionsand him entirelyand altogether. Therenow!'
'Nay; you are making a jest of it: it isexceedingly ill-natured!It's no jest to me!' said the young ladyscowlingand turning herface to the fire.
'I'm very far from jestingMiss Catherine' Ireplied. 'You loveMr. Edgar because he is handsomeand youngand cheerfulandrichand loves you. The lasthowevergoes for nothing: youwould love him without thatprobably; and withit you wouldn'tunless he possessed the four formerattractions.'
'Noto be sure not: I should only pityhim - hate himperhapsif he were uglyand a clown.'
'But there are several other handsomerichyoung men in the world:handsomerpossiblyand richer than he is. What should hinder youfrom loving them?'
'If there be anythey are out of my way: I've seen none likeEdgar.'
'You may see some; and he won't always behandsomeand youngandmay not always be rich.'
'He is now; and I have only to do with thepresent. I wish youwould speak rationally.'
'Wellthat settles it: if you have onlyto do with the presentmarry Mr. Linton.'
'I don't want your permission for that - ISHALL marry him: andyet you have not told me whether I'm right.'
'Perfectly right; if people be right to marryonly for the present.And nowlet us hear what you are unhappyabout. Your brother willbe pleased; the old lady and gentleman will notobjectI think;you will escape from a disorderlycomfortlesshome into a wealthyrespectable one; and you love Edgarand Edgarloves you. Allseems smooth and easy: where is theobstacle?'
'HERE! and HERE!' replied Catherinestrikingone hand on herforeheadand the other on her breast: 'in whichever place thesoul lives. In my soul and in my heartI'm convinced I'm wrong!'
'That's very strange! I cannot make itout.'
'It's my secret. But if you will not mockat meI'll explain it:I can't do it distinctly; but I'll give you afeeling of how Ifeel.'
She seated herself by me again: hercountenance grew sadder andgraverand her clasped hands trembled.
'Nellydo you never dream queer dreams?' shesaidsuddenlyaftersome minutes' reflection.
'Yesnow and then' I answered.
'And so do I. I've dreamt in my lifedreams that have stayed withme ever afterand changed my ideas: they've gone through andthrough melike wine through waterandaltered the colour of mymind. And this is one: I'm going totell it - but take care notto smile at any part of it.'
'Oh! don'tMiss Catherine!' I cried. 'We're dismal enough withoutconjuring up ghosts and visions to perplex us. Comecomebemerry and like yourself! Look at littleHareton! HE'S dreamingnothing dreary. How sweetly he smiles inhis sleep!'
'Yes; and how sweetly his father curses in hissolitude! Youremember himI daresaywhen he was just suchanother as thatchubby thing: nearly as young andinnocent. HoweverNellyIshall oblige you to listen: it's notlong; and I've no power to bemerry to-night.'
'I won't hear itI won't hear it!' I repeatedhastily.
I was superstitious about dreams thenand amstill; and Catherinehad an unusual gloom in her aspectthat mademe dread somethingfrom which I might shape a prophecyandforesee a fearfulcatastrophe. She was vexedbut she didnot proceed. Apparentlytaking up another subjectshe recommenced in ashort time.
'If I were in heavenNellyI should beextremely miserable.'
'Because you are not fit to go there' Ianswered. 'All sinnerswould be miserable in heaven.'
'But it is not for that. I dreamt oncethat I was there.'
'I tell you I won't hearken to your dreamsMiss Catherine! I'llgo to bed' I interrupted again.
She laughedand held me down; for I made amotion to leave mychair.
'This is nothing' cried she: 'I was onlygoing to say that heavendid not seem to be my home; and I broke myheart with weeping tocome back to earth; and the angels were soangry that they flung meout into the middle of the heath on the top ofWuthering Heights;where I woke sobbing for joy. That willdo to explain my secretas well as the other. I've no morebusiness to marry Edgar Lintonthan I have to be in heaven; and if the wickedman in there had notbrought Heathcliff so lowI shouldn't havethought of it. Itwould degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so heshall never knowhow I love him: and thatnot becausehe's handsomeNellybutbecause he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are madeofhis and mine are the same; and Linton's isas different as amoonbeam from lightningor frost from fire.'
Ere this speech ended I became sensible ofHeathcliff's presence.Having noticed a slight movementI turned myheadand saw himrise from the benchand steal outnoiselessly. He had listenedtill he heard Catherine say it would degradeher to marry himandthen he stayed to hear no further. Mycompanionsitting on thegroundwas prevented by the back of the settlefrom remarking hispresence or departure; but I startedand badeher hush!
'Why?' she askedgazing nervously round.
'Joseph is here' I answeredcatchingopportunely the roll of hiscartwheels up the road; 'and Heathcliff willcome in with him. I'mnot sure whether he were not at the door thismoment.'
'Ohhe couldn't overhear me at the door!' saidshe. 'Give meHaretonwhile you get the supperand when itis ready ask me tosup with you. I want to cheat myuncomfortable conscienceand beconvinced that Heathcliff has no notion ofthese things. He hasnothas he? He does not know what beingin love is!'
'I see no reason that he should not knowaswell as you' Ireturned; 'and if you are his choicehe'll bethe most unfortunatecreature that ever was born! As soon asyou become Mrs. Lintonheloses friendand loveand all! Have youconsidered how you'llbear the separationand how he'll bear to bequite deserted in theworld? BecauseMiss Catherine - '
'He quite deserted! we separated!' sheexclaimedwith an accent ofindignation. 'Who is to separate uspray? They'll meet the fateof Milo! Not as long as I liveEllen: for no mortal creature.Every Linton on the face of the earth mightmelt into nothingbefore I could consent to forsake Heathcliff. Ohthat's not whatI intend - that's not what I mean! Ishouldn't be Mrs. Linton weresuch a price demanded! He'll be as muchto me as he has been allhis lifetime. Edgar must shake off hisantipathyand toleratehimat least. He willwhen he learns mytrue feelings towardshim. NellyI see now you think me aselfish wretch; but did itnever strike you that if Heathcliff and Imarriedwe should bebeggars? whereasif I marry Linton I can aidHeathcliff to riseand place him out of my brother's power.'
'With your husband's moneyMiss Catherine?' Iasked. 'You'll findhim not so pliable as you calculate upon: andthough I'm hardly ajudgeI think that's the worst motive you'vegiven yet for beingthe wife of young Linton.'
'It is not' retorted she; 'it is the best! The others were thesatisfaction of my whims: and for Edgar'ssaketooto satisfyhim. This is for the sake of one whocomprehends in his person myfeelings to Edgar and myself. I cannotexpress it; but surely youand everybody have a notion that there is orshould be an existenceof yours beyond you. What were the use ofmy creationif I wereentirely contained here? My greatmiseries in this world have beenHeathcliff's miseriesand I watched and felteach from thebeginning: my great thought in living ishimself. If all elseperishedand HE remainedI should stillcontinue to be; and ifall else remainedand he were annihilatedtheuniverse would turnto a mighty stranger: I should not seem apart of it. - My lovefor Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change itI'm well awareas winter changes the trees. My love forHeathcliff resembles the eternal rocksbeneath: a source of littlevisible delightbut necessary. NellyIAM Heathcliff! He'salwaysalways in my mind: not as apleasureany more than I amalways a pleasure to myselfbut as my ownbeing. So don't talk ofour separation again: it isimpracticable; and - '
She pausedand hid her face in the folds of mygown; but I jerkedit forcibly away. I was out of patiencewith her folly!
'If I can make any sense of your nonsenseMiss' I said'it onlygoes to convince me that you are ignorant ofthe duties youundertake in marrying; or else that you are awickedunprincipledgirl. But trouble me with no moresecrets: I'll not promise tokeep them.'
'You'll keep that?' she askedeagerly.
'NoI'll not promise' I repeated.
She was about to insistwhen the entrance ofJoseph finished ourconversation; and Catherine removed her seat toa cornerandnursed Haretonwhile I made the supper. After it was cookedmyfellow-servant and I began to quarrel whoshould carry some to Mr.Hindley; and we didn't settle it till all wasnearly cold. Then wecame to the agreement that we would let himaskif he wanted any;for we feared particularly to go into hispresence when he had beensome time alone.
'And how isn't that nowt comed in fro' th'fieldbe this time?What is he about? girt idle seeght!' demandedthe old manlookinground for Heathcliff.
'I'll call him' I replied. 'He's in thebarnI've no doubt.'
I went and calledbut got no answer. OnreturningI whispered toCatherine that he had heard a good part of whatshe saidI wassure; and told how I saw him quit the kitchenjust as shecomplained of her brother's conduct regardinghim. She jumped upin a fine frightflung Hareton on to thesettleand ran to seekfor her friend herself; not taking leisure toconsider why she wasso flurriedor how her talk would haveaffected him. She wasabsent such a while that Joseph proposed weshould wait no longer.He cunningly conjectured they were staying awayin order to avoidhearing his protracted blessing. Theywere 'ill eneugh for onyfahl manners' he affirmed. And on theirbehalf he added thatnight a special prayer to the usualquarter-of-an-hour'ssupplication before meatand would have tackedanother to the endof the gracehad not his young mistress brokenin upon him with ahurried command that he must run down the roadandwhereverHeathcliff had rambledfind and make himre-enter directly!
'I want to speak to himand I MUSTbefore Igo upstairs' shesaid. 'And the gate is open: he issomewhere out of hearing; forhe would not replythough I shouted at the topof the fold as loudas I could.'
Joseph objected at first; she was too much inearnesthowevertosuffer contradiction; and at last he placed hishat on his headand walked grumbling forth. MeantimeCatherine paced up and downthe floorexclaiming - 'I wonder where he is -I wonder where hecan be! What did I sayNelly? I'veforgotten. Was he vexed atmy bad humour this afternoon? Dear! tellme what I've said togrieve him? I do wish he'd come. Ido wish he would!'
'What a noise for nothing!' I criedthoughrather uneasy myself.'What a trifle scares you! It's surely nogreat cause of alarmthat Heathcliff should take a moonlight saunteron the moorsoreven lie too sulky to speak to us in thehay-loft. I'll engagehe's lurking there. See if I don't ferrethim out!'
I departed to renew my search; its result wasdisappointmentandJoseph's quest ended in the same.
'Yon lad gets war und war!' observed he onre-entering. 'He's leftth' gate at t' full swingand Miss's pony hastrodden dahn tworigs o' cornand plottered throughraighto'er into t' meadow!Hahsomdivert' maister 'ull play t' devilto-mornand he'll doweel. He's patience itsseln wi' sichcarelessoffald craters -patience itsseln he is! Bud he'll not besoa allus - yah's seeall on ye! Yah mun'n't drive him out ofhis heead for nowt!'
'Have you found Heathcliffyou ass?'interrupted Catherine. 'Haveyou been looking for himas I ordered?'
'I sud more likker look for th' horse' hereplied. 'It 'ud be tomore sense. Bud I can look for northerhorse nur man of a neeghtloike this - as black as t' chimbley! undHeathcliff's noan t' chapto coom at MY whistle - happen he'll be lesshard o' hearing wi'YE!'
It WAS a very dark evening for summer: the clouds appearedinclined to thunderand I said we had betterall sit down; theapproaching rain would be certain to bring himhome without furthertrouble. HoweverCatherine would hot bepersuaded intotranquillity. She kept wandering to andfrofrom the gate to thedoorin a state of agitation which permittedno repose; and atlength took up a permanent situation on oneside of the wallnearthe road: whereheedless of myexpostulations and the growlingthunderand the great drops that began toplash around hersheremainedcalling at intervalsand thenlisteningand then cryingoutright. She beat Haretonor any childat a good passionate fitof crying.
About midnightwhile we still sat upthestorm came rattling overthe Heights in full fury. There was aviolent windas well asthunderand either one or the other split atree off at the cornerof the building: a huge bough fell acrossthe roofand knockeddown a portion of the east chimney-stacksending a clatter ofstones and soot into the kitchen-fire. Wethought a bolt hadfallen in the middle of us; and Joseph swung onto his kneesbeseeching the Lord to remember the patriarchsNoah and Lotandas in former timesspare the righteousthoughhe smote theungodly. I felt some sentiment that itmust be a judgment on usalso. The Jonahin my mindwas Mr.Earnshaw; and I shook thehandle of his den that I might ascertain if hewere yet living. Hereplied audibly enoughin a fashion which mademy companionvociferatemore clamorously than beforethata wide distinctionmight be drawn between saints like himself andsinners like hismaster. But the uproar passed away intwenty minutesleaving usall unharmed; excepting Cathywho gotthoroughly drenched for herobstinacy in refusing to take shelterandstanding bonnetless andshawl-less to catch as much water as she couldwith her hair andclothes. She came in and lay down on thesettleall soaked as shewasturning her face to the backand puttingher hands before it.
'WellMiss!' I exclaimedtouching hershoulder; 'you are not benton getting your deathare you? Do youknow what o'clock it is?Half-past twelve. Comecome to bed!there's no use waiting anylonger on that foolish boy: he'll be goneto Gimmertonand he'llstay there now. He guesses we shouldn'twait for him till thislate hour: at leasthe guesses that onlyMr. Hindley would be up;and he'd rather avoid having the door opened bythe master.'
'Naynayhe's noan at Gimmerton' saidJoseph. 'I's niver wonderbut he's at t' bothom of a bog-hoile. This visitation worn't fornowtand I wod hev' ye to look outMiss - yahmuh be t' next.Thank Hivin for all! All warks togitherfor gooid to them as ischozzenand piked out fro' th' rubbidge! Yah knaw whet t'Scripture ses.' And he began quotingseveral textsreferring usto chapters and verses where we might findthem.
Ihaving vainly begged the wilful girl to riseand remove her wetthingsleft him preaching and her shiveringand betook myself tobed with little Haretonwho slept as fast asif everyone had beensleeping round him. I heard Joseph readon a while afterwards;then I distinguished his slow step on theladderand then Idropped asleep.
Coming down somewhat later than usualI sawby the sunbeamspiercing the chinks of the shuttersMissCatherine still seatednear the fireplace. The house-door wasajartoo; light enteredfrom its unclosed windows; Hindley had comeoutand stood on thekitchen hearthhaggard and drowsy.
'What ails youCathy?' he was saying when Ientered: 'you look asdismal as a drowned whelp. Why are you sodamp and palechild?'
'I've been wet' she answered reluctantly'andI'm coldthat'sall.'
'Ohshe is naughty!' I criedperceiving themaster to betolerably sober. 'She got steeped in theshower of yesterdayeveningand there she has sat the nightthroughand I couldn'tprevail on her to stir.'
Mr. Earnshaw stared at us in surprise. 'The night through' herepeated. 'What kept her up? not fear ofthe thundersurely?That was over hours since.'
Neither of us wished to mention Heathcliff'sabsenceas long as wecould conceal it; so I repliedI didn't knowhow she took it intoher head to sit up; and she said nothing. The morning was freshand cool; I threw back the latticeandpresently the room filledwith sweet scents from the garden; butCatherine called peevishlyto me'Ellenshut the window. I'mstarving!' And her teethchattered as she shrank closer to the almostextinguished embers.
'She's ill' said Hindleytaking her wrist; 'Isuppose that's thereason she would not go to bed. Damn it! I don't want to betroubled with more sickness here. Whattook you into the rain?'
'Running after t' ladsas usuald!' croakedJosephcatching anopportunity from our hesitation to thrust inhis evil tongue. 'IfI war yahmaisterI'd just slam t' boards i'their faces all on'emgentle and simple! Never a day utyah're offbut yon cat o'Linton comes sneaking hither; and Miss Nellyshoo's a fine lass!shoo sits watching for ye i' t' kitchen; and asyah're in at onedoorhe's out at t'other; andthenwer grandlady goes a-courting of her side! It's bonnybehaviourlurking amang t'fieldsafter twelve o' t' nightwi' thatfahlflaysome divil ofa gipsyHeathcliff! They think I'Mblind; but I'm noan: nowt utt' soart! - I seed young Linton boath comingand goingand I seedYAH' (directing his discourse to me)'yahgooid fur nowtslattenly witch! nip up and bolt into th'houset' minute yahheard t' maister's horse-fit clatter up t'road.'
'Silenceeavesdropper!' cried Catherine; 'noneof your insolencebefore me! Edgar Linton came yesterday bychanceHindley; and itwas I who told him to be off: because Iknew you would not like tohave met him as you were.'
'You lieCathyno doubt' answered herbrother'and you are aconfounded simpleton! But never mindLinton at present: tell mewere you not with Heathcliff last night? Speak the truthnow.You need not he afraid of harming him: though I hate him as muchas everhe did me a good turn a short timesince that will make myconscience tender of breaking his neck. To prevent itI shallsend him about his business this very morning;and after he's goneI'd advise you all to look sharp: I shallonly have the morehumour for you.'
'I never saw Heathcliff last night' answeredCatherinebeginningto sob bitterly: 'and if you do turn himout of doorsI'll gowith him. Butperhapsyou'll never havean opportunity:perhapshe's gone.' Here she burst intouncontrollable griefandthe remainder of her words were inarticulate.
Hindley lavished on her a torrent of scornfulabuseand bade herget to her room immediatelyor she shouldn'tcry for nothing! Iobliged her to obey; and I shall never forgetwhat a scene sheacted when we reached her chamber: itterrified me. I thought shewas going madand I begged Joseph to run forthe doctor. Itproved the commencement of delirium: Mr.Kennethas soon as hesaw herpronounced her dangerously ill; shehad a fever. He bledherand he told me to let her live on whey andwater-gruelandtake care she did not throw herself downstairsor out of thewindow; and then he left: for he hadenough to do in the parishwhere two or three miles was the ordinarydistance between cottageand cottage.
Though I cannot say I made a gentle nurseandJoseph and themaster were no betterand though our patientwas as wearisome andheadstrong as a patient could beshe weatheredit through. OldMrs. Linton paid us several visitsto be sureand set things torightsand scolded and ordered us all; andwhen Catherine wasconvalescentshe insisted on conveying her toThrushcross Grange:for which deliverance we were very grateful. But the poor dame hadreason to repent of her kindness: she andher husband both tookthe feverand died within a few days of eachother.
Our young lady returned to us saucier and morepassionateandhaughtier than ever. Heathcliff had neverbeen heard of since theevening of the thunder-storm; andone dayIhad the misfortunewhen she had provoked me exceedinglyto laythe blame of hisdisappearance on her: where indeed itbelongedas she well knew.From that periodfor several monthssheceased to hold anycommunication with mesave in the relation ofa mere servant.Joseph fell under a ban also: he wouldspeak his mindand lectureher all the same as if she were a little girl;and she esteemedherself a womanand our mistressand thoughtthat her recentillness gave her a claim to be treated withconsideration. Thenthe doctor had said that she would not bearcrossing much; sheought to have her own way; and it was nothingless than murder inher eyes for any one to presume to stand up andcontradict her.From Mr. Earnshaw and his companions she keptaloof; and tutored byKennethand serious threats of a fit thatoften attended herragesher brother allowed her whatever shepleased to demandandgenerally avoided aggravating her fierytemper. He was rather tooindulgent in humouring her caprices; not fromaffectionbut frompride: he wished earnestly to see herbring honour to the familyby an alliance with the Lintonsand as long asshe let him aloneshe might trample on us like slavesfor aughthe cared! EdgarLintonas multitudes have been before and willbe after himwasinfatuated: and believed himself thehappiest man alive on the dayhe led her to Gimmerton Chapelthree yearssubsequent to hisfather's death.
Much against my inclinationI was persuaded toleave WutheringHeights and accompany her hereLittle Haretonwas nearly fiveyears oldand I had just begun to teach himhis letters. We madea sad parting; but Catherine's tears were morepowerful than ours.When I refused to goand when she found herentreaties did notmove meshe went lamenting to her husband andbrother. The formeroffered me munificent wages; the latter orderedme to pack up: hewanted no women in the househe saidnow thatthere was nomistress; and as to Haretonthe curate shouldtake him in handby-and-by. And so I had but one choiceleft: to do as I wasordered. I told the master he got rid ofall decent people only torun to ruin a little faster; I kissed Haretonsaid good-by; andsince then he has been a stranger: andit's very queer to thinkitbut I've no doubt he has completelyforgotten all about EllenDeanand that he was ever more than all theworld to her and sheto him!
At this point of the housekeeper's story shechanced to glancetowards the time-piece over the chimney; andwas in amazement onseeing the minute-hand measure half-past one. She would not hearof staying a second longer: in truthIfelt rather disposed todefer the sequel of her narrative myself. And now that she isvanished to her restand I have meditated foranother hour or twoI shall summon courage to go alsoin spite ofaching laziness ofhead and limbs.
A CHARMING introduction to a hermit's life! Four weeks' torturetossingand sickness! Ohthese bleakwinds and bitter northernskiesand impassable roadsand dilatorycountry surgeons! Andohthis dearth of the human physiognomy! andworse than alltheterrible intimation of Kenneth that I need notexpect to be out ofdoors till spring!
Mr. Heathcliff has just honoured me with acall. About seven daysago he sent me a brace of grouse - the last ofthe season.Scoundrel! He is not altogether guiltlessin this illness of mine;and that I had a great mind to tell him. Butalas! how could Ioffend a man who was charitable enough to sitat my bedside a goodhourand talk on some other subject than pillsand draughtsblisters and leeches? This is quite aneasy interval. I am tooweak to read; yet I feel as if I could enjoysomething interesting.Why not have up Mrs. Dean to finish her tale? I can recollect itschief incidentsas far as she had gone. Yes: I remember her herohad run offand never been heard of for threeyears; and theheroine was married. I'll ring: she'll be delighted to find mecapable of talking cheerfully. Mrs. Deancame.
'It wants twenty minutessirto taking themedicine' shecommenced.
'Awayaway with it!' I replied; 'I desire tohave - '
'The doctor says you must drop the powders.'
'With all my heart! Don't interrupt me. Come and take your seathere. Keep your fingers from that bitterphalanx of vials. Drawyour knitting out of your pocket - that will do- now continue thehistory of Mr. Heathclifffrom where you leftoffto the presentday. Did he finish his education on theContinentand come back agentleman? or did he get a sizar's place atcollegeor escape toAmericaand earn honours by drawing blood fromhis foster-country?or make a fortune more promptly on the Englishhighways?'
'He may have done a little in all thesevocationsMr. Lockwood;but I couldn't give my word for any. Istated before that I didn'tknow how he gained his money; neither am Iaware of the means hetook to raise his mind from the savageignorance into which it wassunk: butwith your leaveI'll proceedin my own fashionif youthink it will amuse and not weary you. Are you feeling better thismorning?'
'That's good news.'
I got Miss Catherine and myself to ThrushcrossGrange; andto myagreeable disappointmentshe behavedinfinitely better than Idared to expect. She seemed almostover-fond of Mr. Linton; andeven to his sister she showed plenty ofaffection. They were bothvery attentive to her comfortcertainly. It was not the thornbending to the honeysucklesbut thehoneysuckles embracing thethorn. There were no mutual concessions: one stood erectand theothers yielded: and who can beill-natured and bad-tempered whenthey encounter neither opposition norindifference? I observedthat Mr. Edgar had a deep-rooted fear ofruffling her humour. Heconcealed it from her; but if ever he heard meanswer sharplyorsaw any other servant grow cloudy at someimperious order of hershe would show his trouble by a frown ofdispleasure that neverdarkened on his own account. He many atime spoke sternly to meabout my pertness; and averred that the stab ofa knife could notinflict a worse pang than he suffered at seeinghis lady vexed.Not to grieve a kind masterI learned to beless touchy; andforthe space of half a yearthe gunpowder lay asharmless as sandbecause no fire came near to explode it. Catherine had seasons ofgloom and silence now and then: they wererespected withsympathising silence by her husbandwhoascribed them to analteration in her constitutionproduced by herperilous illness;as she was never subject to depression ofspirits before. Thereturn of sunshine was welcomed by answeringsunshine from him. Ibelieve I may assert that they were really inpossession of deepand growing happiness.
It ended. Wellwe MUST be for ourselvesin the long run; the mildand generous are only more justly selfish thanthe domineering; andit ended when circumstances caused each to feelthat the one'sinterest was not the chief consideration in theother's thoughts.On a mellow evening in SeptemberI was comingfrom the garden witha heavy basket of apples which I had beengathering. It had gotduskand the moon looked over the high wall ofthe courtcausingundefined shadows to lurk in the corners of thenumerous projectingportions of the building. I set my burdenon the house-steps bythe kitchen-doorand lingered to restanddrew in a few morebreaths of the softsweet air; my eyes were onthe moonand myback to the entrancewhen I heard a voicebehind me say- 'Nellyis that you?'
It was a deep voiceand foreign in tone; yetthere was somethingin the manner of pronouncing my name which madeit sound familiar.I turned about to discover who spokefearfully; for the doors wereshutand I had seen nobody on approaching thesteps. Somethingstirred in the porch; andmoving nearerIdistinguished a tallman dressed in dark clotheswith dark face andhair. He leantagainst the sideand held his fingers on thelatch as if intendingto open for himself. 'Who can it be?' Ithought. 'Mr. Earnshaw?Ohno! The voice has no resemblance tohis.'
'I have waited here an hour' he resumedwhileI continuedstaring; 'and the whole of that time all roundhas been as still asdeath. I dared not enter. You donot know me? LookI'm not astranger!'
A ray fell on his features; the cheeks weresallowand halfcovered with black whiskers; the browsloweringthe eyes deep-setand singular. I remembered the eyes.
'What!' I crieduncertain whether to regardhim as a worldlyvisitorand I raised my hands in amazement. 'What! you come back?Is it really you? Is it?'
'YesHeathcliff' he repliedglancing from meup to the windowswhich reflected a score of glittering moonsbut showed no lightsfrom within. 'Are they at home? where isshe? Nellyyou are notglad! you needn't be so disturbed. Is shehere? Speak! I want tohave one word with her - your mistress. Goand say some personfrom Gimmerton desires to see her.'
'How will she take it?' I exclaimed. 'What will she do? Thesurprise bewilders me - it will put her out ofher head! And youARE Heathcliff! But altered! Naythere's no comprehending it.Have you been for a soldier?'
'Go and carry my message' he interruptedimpatiently. 'I'm inhell till you do!'
He lifted the latchand I entered; but when Igot to the parlourwhere Mr. and Mrs. Linton wereI could notpersuade myself toproceed. At length I resolved on makingan excuse to ask if theywould have the candles lightedand I openedthe door.
They sat together in a window whose lattice layback against thewalland displayedbeyond the garden treesand the wild greenparkthe valley of Gimmertonwith a long lineof mist windingnearly to its top (for very soon after you passthe chapelas youmay have noticedthe sough that runs from themarshes joins a beckwhich follows the bend of the glen). Wuthering Heights rose abovethis silvery vapour; but our old house wasinvisible; it ratherdips down on the other side. Both theroom and its occupantsandthe scene they gazed onlooked wondrouslypeaceful. I shrankreluctantly from performing my errand; and wasactually going awayleaving it unsaidafter having put my questionabout the candleswhen a sense of my folly compelled me toreturnand mutter'Aperson from Gimmerton wishes to see you ma'am.'
'What does he want?' asked Mrs. Linton.
'I did not question him' I answered.
'Wellclose the curtainsNelly' she said;'and bring up tea.I'll be back again directly.'
She quitted the apartment; Mr. Edgar inquiredcarelesslywho itwas.
'Some one mistress does not expect' Ireplied. 'That Heathcliff -you recollect himsir - who used to live atMr. Earnshaw's.'
'What! the gipsy - the ploughboy?' he cried. 'Why did you not sayso to Catherine?'
'Hush! you must not call him by those namesmaster' I said.'She'd be sadly grieved to hear you. Shewas nearly heartbrokenwhen he ran off. I guess his return willmake a jubilee to her.'
Mr. Linton walked to a window on the other sideof the room thatoverlooked the court. He unfastened itand leant out. I supposethey were belowfor he exclaimed quickly: 'Don't stand therelove! Bring the person inif it beanyone particular.' Ere longI heard the click of the latchand Catherineflew up-stairsbreathless and wild; too excited to showgladness: indeedby herfaceyou would rather have surmised an awfulcalamity.
'OhEdgarEdgar!' she pantedflinging herarms round his neck.'OhEdgar darling! Heathcliff's comeback - he is!' And shetightened her embrace to a squeeze.
'Wellwell' cried her husbandcrossly'don't strangle me forthat! He never struck me as such amarvellous treasure. There isno need to be frantic!'
'I know you didn't like him' she answeredrepressing a little theintensity of her delight. 'Yetfor mysakeyou must be friendsnow. Shall I tell him to come up?'
'Here' he said'into the parlour?'
'Where else?' she asked.
He looked vexedand suggested the kitchen as amore suitable placefor him. Mrs. Linton eyed him with adroll expression - halfangryhalf laughing at his fastidiousness.
'No' she addedafter a while; 'I cannot sitin the kitchen. Settwo tables hereEllen: one for yourmaster and Miss Isabellabeing gentry; the other for Heathcliff andmyselfbeing of thelower orders. Will that please youdear? Or must I have a firelighted elsewhere? If sogivedirections. I'll run down andsecure my guest. I'm afraid the joy istoo great to be real!'
She was about to dart off again; but Edgararrested her.
'YOU bid him step up' he saidaddressing me;'andCatherinetryto be gladwithout being absurd. Thewhole household need notwitness the sight of your welcoming a runawayservant as abrother.'
I descendedand found Heathcliff waiting underthe porchevidently anticipating an invitation to enter. He followed myguidance without waste of wordsand I usheredhim into thepresence of the master and mistresswhoseflushed cheeks betrayedsigns of warm talking. But the lady'sglowed with another feelingwhen her friend appeared at the door: shesprang forwardtookboth his handsand led him to Linton; and thenshe seized Linton'sreluctant fingers and crushed them into his. Nowfully revealedby the fire and candlelightI was amazedmorethan evertobehold the transformation of Heathcliff. He had grown a tallathleticwell-formed man; beside whom mymaster seemed quiteslender and youth-like. His uprightcarriage suggested the idea ofhis having been in the army. Hiscountenance was much older inexpression and decision of feature than Mr.Linton's; it lookedintelligentand retained no marks of formerdegradation. A half-civilised ferocity lurked yet in the depressedbrows and eyes fullof black firebut it was subdued; and hismanner was evendignified: quite divested of roughnessthough stern for grace.My master's surprise equalled or exceededmine: he remained for aminute at a loss how to address the ploughboyas he had calledhim. Heathcliff dropped his slight handand stood looking at himcoolly till he chose to speak.
'Sit downsir' he saidat length. 'Mrs. Lintonrecalling oldtimeswould have me give you a cordialreception; andof courseI am gratified when anything occurs to pleaseher.'
'And I also' answered Heathcliff'especiallyif it be anything inwhich I have a part. I shall stay an houror two willingly.'
He took a seat opposite Catherinewho kept hergaze fixed on himas if she feared he would vanish were she toremove it. He did notraise his to her often: a quick glancenow and then sufficed; butit flashed backeach time more confidentlythe undisguiseddelight he drank from hers. They were toomuch absorbed in theirmutual joy to suffer embarrassment. Notso Mr. Edgar: he grewpale with pure annoyance: a feeling thatreached its climax whenhis lady roseand stepping across the rugseized Heathcliff'shands againand laughed like one besideherself.
'I shall think it a dream to-morrow!' shecried. 'I shall not beable to believe that I have seenand touchedand spoken to youonce more. And yetcruel Heathcliff! youdon't deserve thiswelcome. To be absent and silent forthree yearsand never tothink of me!'
'A little more than you have thought of me' hemurmured. 'I heardof your marriageCathynot long since; andwhile waiting in theyard belowI meditated this plan - just tohave one glimpse ofyour facea stare of surpriseperhapsandpretended pleasure;afterwards settle my score with Hindley; andthen prevent the lawby doing execution on myself. Yourwelcome has put these ideas outof my mind; but beware of meeting me withanother aspect next time!Nayyou'll not drive me off again. Youwere really sorry for mewere you? Wellthere was cause. I've fought through a bitterlife since I last heard your voice; and youmust forgive mefor Istruggled only for you!'
'Catherineunless we are to have cold teaplease to come to thetable' interrupted Lintonstriving topreserve his ordinary toneand a due measure of politeness. 'Mr.Heathcliff will have a longwalkwherever he may lodge to-night; and I'mthirsty.'
She took her post before the urn; and MissIsabella camesummonedby the bell; thenhaving handed their chairsforwardI left theroom. The meal hardly endured tenminutes. Catherine's cup wasnever filled: she could neither eat nordrink. Edgar had made aslop in his saucerand scarcely swallowed amouthful. Their guestdid not protract his stay that evening above anhour longer. Iaskedas he departedif he went to Gimmerton?
'Noto Wuthering Heights' he answered: 'Mr. Earnshaw invited mewhen I called this morning.'
Mr. Earnshaw invited HIM! and HE called on Mr.Earnshaw! Ipondered this sentence painfullyafter he wasgone. Is he turningout a bit of a hypocriteand coming into thecountry to workmischief under a cloak? I mused: Ihad a presentiment in thebottom of my heart that he had better haveremained away.
About the middle of the nightI was wakenedfrom my first nap byMrs. Linton gliding into my chambertaking aseat on my bedsideand pulling me by the hair to rouse me.
'I cannot restEllen' she saidby way ofapology. 'And I wantsome living creature to keep me company in myhappiness! Edgar issulkybecause I'm glad of a thing that doesnot interest him: herefuses to open his mouthexcept to utterpettishsilly speeches;and he affirmed I was cruel and selfish forwishing to talk when hewas so sick and sleepy. He alwayscontrives to be sick at theleast cross! I gave a few sentences ofcommendation to Heathcliffand heeither for a headache or a pang ofenvybegan to cry: soI got up and left him.'
'What use is it praising Heathcliff to him?' Ianswered. 'As ladsthey had an aversion to each otherandHeathcliff would hate justas much to hear him praised: it's humannature. Let Mr. Lintonalone about himunless you would like an openquarrel betweenthem.'
'But does it not show great weakness?' pursuedshe. 'I'm notenvious: I never feel hurt at thebrightness of Isabella's yellowhair and the whiteness of her skinat herdainty eleganceand thefondness all the family exhibit for her. Even youNellyif wehave a dispute sometimesyou back Isabella atonce; and I yieldlike a foolish mother: I call her adarlingand flatter her intoa good temper. It pleases her brother tosee us cordialand thatpleases me. But they are very muchalike: they are spoiledchildrenand fancy the world was made fortheir accommodation; andthough I humour bothI think a smartchastisement might improvethem all the same.'
'You're mistakenMrs. Linton' said I. 'They humour you: I knowwhat there would be to do if they did not. You can well afford toindulge their passing whims as long as theirbusiness is toanticipate all your desires. You mayhoweverfall outat lastover something of equal consequence to bothsides; and then thoseyou term weak are very capable of being asobstinate as you.'
'And then we shall fight to the deathsha'n'tweNelly?' shereturnedlaughing. 'No! I tell youIhave such faith in Linton'slovethat I believe I might kill himand hewouldn't wish toretaliate.'
I advised her to value him the more for hisaffection.
'I do' she answered'but he needn't resort towhining fortrifles. It is childish andinstead ofmelting into tears becauseI said that Heathcliff was now worthy ofanyone's regardand itwould honour the first gentleman in the countryto be his friendhe ought to have said it for meand beendelighted from sympathy.He must get accustomed to himand he may aswell like him:considering how Heathcliff has reason to objectto himI'm sure hebehaved excellently!'
'What do you think of his going to WutheringHeights?' I inquired.'He is reformed in every respectapparently: quite a Christian:offering the right hand of fellowship to hisenemies all around!'
'He explained it' she replied. 'I wonderas much as you. He saidhe called to gather information concerning mefrom yousupposingyou resided there still; and Joseph toldHindleywho came out andfell to questioning him of what he had beendoingand how he hadbeen living; and finallydesired him to walkin. There were somepersons sitting at cards; Heathcliff joinedthem; my brother lostsome money to himandfinding him plentifullysuppliedherequested that he would come again in theevening: to which heconsented. Hindley is too reckless toselect his acquaintanceprudently: he doesn't trouble himself toreflect on the causes hemight have for mistrusting one whom he hasbasely injured. ButHeathcliff affirms his principal reason forresuming a connectionwith his ancient persecutor is a wish to instalhimself in quartersat walking distance from the Grangeand anattachment to the housewhere we lived together; and likewise a hopethat I shall have moreopportunities of seeing him there than I couldhave if he settledin Gimmerton. He means to offer liberalpayment for permission tolodge at the Heights; and doubtless mybrother's covetousness willprompt him to accept the terms: he wasalways greedy; though whathe grasps with one hand he flings away with theother.'
'It's a nice place for a young man to fix hisdwelling in!' said I.'Have you no fear of the consequencesMrs.Linton?'
'None for my friend' she replied: 'hisstrong head will keep himfrom danger; a little for Hindley: but hecan't be made morallyworse than he is; and I stand between him andbodily harm. Theevent of this evening has reconciled me to Godand humanity! I hadrisen in angry rebellion against Providence. OhI've enduredveryvery bitter miseryNelly! If thatcreature knew how bitterhe'd be ashamed to cloud its removal with idlepetulance. It waskindness for him which induced me to bear italone: had Iexpressed the agony I frequently felthe wouldhave been taught tolong for its alleviation as ardently as I. Howeverit's overandI'll take no revenge on his folly; I can affordto suffer anythinghereafter! Should the meanest thing aliveslap me on the cheekI'd not only turn the otherbut I'd ask pardonfor provoking it;andas a proofI'll go make my peace withEdgar instantly. Good-night! I'm an angel!'
In this self-complacent conviction shedeparted; and the success ofher fulfilled resolution was obvious on themorrow: Mr. Linton hadnot only abjured his peevishness (though hisspirits seemed stillsubdued by Catherine's exuberance of vivacity)but he ventured noobjection to her taking Isabella with her toWuthering Heights inthe afternoon; and she rewarded him with such asummer of sweetnessand affection in return as made the house aparadise for severaldays; both master and servants profiting fromthe perpetualsunshine.
Heathcliff - Mr. Heathcliff I should say infuture - used theliberty of visiting at Thrushcross Grangecautiouslyat first: heseemed estimating how far its owner would bearhis intrusion.Catherinealsodeemed it judicious tomoderate her expressions ofpleasure in receiving him; and he graduallyestablished his rightto be expected. He retained a great dealof the reserve for whichhis boyhood was remarkable; and that served torepress allstartling demonstrations of feeling. Mymaster's uneasinessexperienced a lulland further circumstancesdiverted it intoanother channel for a space.
His new source of trouble sprang from the notanticipatedmisfortune of Isabella Linton evincing a suddenand irresistibleattraction towards the tolerated guest. She was at that time acharming young lady of eighteen; infantile inmannersthoughpossessed of keen witkeen feelingsand akeen tempertooifirritated. Her brotherwho loved hertenderlywas appalled atthis fantastic preference. Leaving asidethe degradation of analliance with a nameless manand the possiblefact that hispropertyin default of heirs malemight passinto such a one'spowerhe had sense to comprehend Heathcliff'sdisposition: toknow thatthough his exterior was alteredhismind wasunchangeable and unchanged. And hedreaded that mind: it revoltedhim: he shrank forebodingly from the ideaof committing Isabellato its keeping. He would have recoiledstill more had he beenaware that her attachment rose unsolicitedandwas bestowed whereit awakened no reciprocation of sentiment; forthe minute hediscovered its existence he laid the blame onHeathcliff'sdeliberate designing.
We had all remarkedduring some timethatMiss Linton fretted andpined over something. She grew cross andwearisome; snapping atand teasing Catherine continuallyat theimminent risk ofexhausting her limited patience. Weexcused herto a certainextenton the plea of ill-health: shewas dwindling and fadingbefore our eyes. But one daywhen shehad been peculiarlywaywardrejecting her breakfastcomplainingthat the servants didnot do what she told them; that the mistresswould allow her to benothing in the houseand Edgar neglected her;that she had caughta cold with the doors being left openand welet the parlour firego out on purpose to vex herwith a hundredyet more frivolousaccusationsMrs. Linton peremptorily insistedthat she should getto bed; andhaving scolded her heartilythreatened to send forthe doctor. Mention of Kenneth caused herto exclaiminstantlythat her health was perfectand it was onlyCatherine's harshnesswhich made her unhappy.
'How can you say I am harshyou naughtyfondling?' cried themistressamazed at the unreasonableassertion. 'You are surelylosing your reason. When have I beenhashtell me?'
'Yesterday' sobbed Isabella'and now!'
'Yesterday!' said her sister-in-law. 'Onwhat occasion?'
'In our walk along the moor: you told meto ramble where Ipleasedwhile you sauntered on with Mr.Heathcliff?'
'And that's your notion of harshness?' saidCatherinelaughing.'It was no hint that your company wassuperfluous? We didn't carewhether you kept with us or not; I merelythought Heathcliff's talkwould have nothing entertaining for your ears.'
'Ohno' wept the young lady; 'you wished meawaybecause youknew I liked to be there!'
'Is she sane?' asked Mrs. Lintonappealing tome. 'I'll repeatour conversationword for wordIsabella; andyou point out anycharm it could have had for you.'
'I don't mind the conversation' she answered: 'I wanted to bewith - '
"Well?' said Catherineperceiving herhesitate to complete thesentence.
'With him: and I won't be always sentoff!' she continuedkindling up. 'You are a dog in themangerCathyand desire noone to be loved but yourself!'
'You are an impertinent little monkey!'exclaimed Mrs. Lintoninsurprise. 'But I'll not believe thisidiotcy! It is impossiblethat you can covet the admiration of Heathcliff- that you considerhim an agreeable person! I hope I havemisunderstood youIsabella?'
'Noyou have not' said the infatuated girl. 'I love him morethan ever you loved Edgarand he might lovemeif you would lethim!'
'I wouldn't be you for a kingdomthen!'Catherine declaredemphatically: and she seemed to speaksincerely. 'Nellyhelp meto convince her of her madness. Tell herwhat Heathcliff is: anunreclaimed creaturewithout refinementwithout cultivation; anarid wilderness of furze and whinstone. I'd as soon put thatlittle canary into the park on a winter's dayas recommend you tobestow your heart on him! It isdeplorable ignorance of hischaracterchildand nothing elsewhich makesthat dream enteryour head. Praydon't imagine that heconceals depths ofbenevolence and affection beneath a sternexterior! He's not arough diamond - a pearl-containing oyster of arustic: he's afiercepitilesswolfish man. I neversay to him"Let this orthat enemy alonebecause it would beungenerous or cruel to harmthem;" I say"Let them alonebecause I should hate them to bewronged:" and he'd crush you like asparrow's eggIsabellaif hefound you a troublesome charge. I know hecouldn't love a Linton;and yet he'd be quite capable of marrying yourfortune andexpectations: avarice is growing with hima besetting sin.There's my picture: and I'm his friend -so much sothat had hethought seriously to catch youI shouldperhapshave held mytongueand let you fall into his trap.'
Miss Linton regarded her sister-in-law withindignation.
'For shame! for shame!' she repeatedangrily. 'You are worse thantwenty foesyou poisonous friend!'
'Ah! you won't believe methen?' saidCatherine. 'You think Ispeak from wicked selfishness?'
'I'm certain you do' retorted Isabella; 'and Ishudder at you!'
'Good!' cried the other. 'Try foryourselfif that be yourspirit: I have doneand yield theargument to your saucyinsolence.' -
'And I must suffer for her egotism!' shesobbedas Mrs. Lintonleft the room. 'Allall is against me: she has blighted mysingle consolation. But she utteredfalsehoodsdidn't she? Mr.Heathcliff is not a fiend: he has anhonourable souland a trueoneor how could he remember her?'
'Banish him from your thoughtsMiss' I said. 'He's a bird of badomen: no mate for you. Mrs. Lintonspoke stronglyand yet Ican't contradict her. She is betteracquainted with his heart thanIor any one besides; and she never wouldrepresent him as worsethan he is. Honest people don't hidetheir deeds. How has he beenliving? how has he got rich? why is he stayingat WutheringHeightsthe house of a man whom he abhors? They say Mr. Earnshawis worse and worse since he came. Theysit up all night togethercontinuallyand Hindley has been borrowingmoney on his landanddoes nothing but play and drink: I heardonly a week ago - it wasJoseph who told me - I met him at Gimmerton: "Nelly" he said"we's hae a crowner's 'quest enowat ahrfolks'. One on 'em 'sa'most getten his finger cut off wi' hauding t'other fro' stickin'hisseln loike a cawlf. That's maisteryeah knaw'at 's soa up o'going tuh t' grand 'sizes. He's noanfeared o' t' bench o' judgesnorther Paulnur Peternur Johnnur Matthewnor noan on 'emnot he! He fair likes - he langs to sethis brazened face agean'em! And yon bonny lad Heathcliffyahmindhe's a rare 'un. Hecan girn a laugh as well 's onybody at a raightdivil's jest. Doeshe niver say nowt of his fine living amang uswhen he goes to t'Grange? This is t' way on 't:- up atsun-down: dicebrandycloised shuttersund can'le-light till nextday at noon: thent'fooil gangs banning und raving to hischam'ermakking dacentfowks dig thur fingers i' thur lugs fur varryshame; un' the knavewhy he can caint his brassun' ateun' sleepun' off to hisneighbour's to gossip wi' t' wife. I'coursehe tells DameCatherine how her fathur's goold runs into hispocketand herfathur's son gallops down t' broad roadwhilehe flees afore tooppen t' pikes!" NowMiss LintonJoseph is an old rascalbut noliar; andif his account of Heathcliff'sconduct be trueyouwould never think of desiring such a husbandwould you?'
'You are leagued with the restEllen!' shereplied. 'I'll notlisten to your slanders. What malevolenceyou must have to wish toconvince me that there is no happiness in theworld!'
Whether she would have got over this fancy ifleft to herselforpersevered in nursing it perpetuallyI cannotsay: she had littletime to reflect. The day afterthere wasa justice-meeting at thenext town; my master was obliged to attend; andMr. Heathcliffaware of his absencecalled rather earlierthan usual. Catherineand Isabella were sitting in the libraryonhostile termsbutsilent: the latter alarmed at her recentindiscretionand thedisclosure she had made of her secret feelingsin a transient fitof passion; the formeron matureconsiderationreally offendedwith her companion; andif she laughed againat her pertnessinclined to make it no laughing matter to her. She did laugh asshe saw Heathcliff pass the window. I wassweeping the hearthandI noticed a mischievous smile on her lips. Isabellaabsorbed inher meditationsor a bookremained till thedoor opened; and itwas too late to attempt an escapewhich shewould gladly have donehad it been practicable.
'Come inthat's right!' exclaimed themistressgailypulling achair to the fire. 'Here are two peoplesadly in need of a thirdto thaw the ice between them; and you are thevery one we shouldboth of us choose. HeathcliffI'm proudto show youat lastsomebody that dotes on you more than myself. I expect you to feelflattered. Nayit's not Nelly; don'tlook at her! My poor littlesister-in-law is breaking her heart by merecontemplation of yourphysical and moral beauty. It lies inyour own power to be Edgar'sbrother! NonoIsabellayou sha'n'trun off' she continuedarrestingwith feigned playfulnesstheconfounded girlwho hadrisen indignantly. 'We were quarrellinglike cats about youHeathcliff; and I was fairly beaten inprotestations of devotionand admiration: andmoreoverI wasinformed that if I would buthave the manners to stand asidemy rivalasshe will have herselfto bewould shoot a shaft into your soul thatwould fix you foreverand send my image into eternal oblivion!'
'Catherine!' said Isabellacalling up herdignityand disdainingto struggle from the tight grasp that held her'I'd thank you toadhere to the truth and not slander meeven injoke! Mr.Heathcliffbe kind enough to bid this friendof yours release me:she forgets that you and I are not intimateacquaintances; and whatamuses her is painful to me beyond expression.'
As the guest answered nothingbut took hisseatand lookedthoroughly indifferent what sentiments shecherished concerninghimshe turned and whispered an earnest appealfor liberty to hertormentor.
'By no means!' cried Mrs. Linton in answer. 'I won't be named adog in the manger again. You SHALL stay: now then! Heathcliffwhy don't you evince satisfaction at mypleasant news? Isabellaswears that the love Edgar has for me isnothing to that sheentertains for you. I'm sure she madesome speech of the kind; didshe notEllen? And she has fasted eversince the day beforeyesterday's walkfrom sorrow and rage that Idespatched her out ofyour society under the idea of its beingunacceptable.'
'I think you belie her' said Heathclifftwisting his chair toface them. 'She wishes to be out of mysociety nowat any rate!'
And he stared hard at the object of discourseas one might do at astrange repulsive animal: a centipedefrom the Indiesforinstancewhich curiosity leads one to examinein spite of theaversion it raises. The poor thingcouldn't bear that; she grewwhite and red in rapid successionandwhiletears beaded herlashesbent the strength of her small fingersto loosen the firmclutch of Catherine; and perceiving that asfast as she raised onefinger off her arm another closed downand shecould not removethe whole togethershe began to make use ofher nails; and theirsharpness presently ornamented the detainer'swith crescents ofred.
'There's a tigress!' exclaimed Mrs. Lintonsetting her freeandshaking her hand with pain. 'BegoneforGod's sakeand hide yourvixen face! How foolish to reveal thosetalons to him. Can't youfancy the conclusions he'll draw? LookHeathcliff! they areinstruments that will do execution - you mustbeware of your eyes.'
'I'd wrench them off her fingersif they evermenaced me' heansweredbrutallywhen the door had closedafter her. 'But whatdid you mean by teasing the creature in thatmannerCathy? Youwere not speaking the truthwere you?'
'I assure you I was' she returned. 'Shehas been dying for yoursake several weeksand raving about you thismorningand pouringforth a deluge of abusebecause I representedyour failings in aplain lightfor the purpose of mitigating heradoration. Butdon't notice it further: I wished topunish her saucinessthat'sall. I like her too wellmy dearHeathcliffto let youabsolutely seize and devour her up.'
'And I like her too ill to attempt it' saidhe'except in a veryghoulish fashion. You'd hear of oddthings if I lived alone withthat mawkishwaxen face: the mostordinary would be painting onits white the colours of the rainbowandturning the blue eyesblackevery day or two: they detestablyresemble Linton's.'
'Delectably!' observed Catherine. 'Theyare dove's eyes -angel's!'
'She's her brother's heiris she not?' heaskedafter a briefsilence.
'I should be sorry to think so' returned hiscompanion. 'Half adozen nephews shall erase her titlepleaseheaven! Abstract yourmind from the subject at present: you aretoo prone to covet yourneighbour's goods; remember THIS neighbour'sgoods are mine.'
'If they were MINEthey would be none the lessthat' saidHeathcliff; 'but though Isabella Linton may besillyshe isscarcely mad; andin shortwe'll dismiss thematteras youadvise.'
From their tongues they did dismiss it; andCatherineprobablyfrom her thoughts. The otherI feltcertainrecalled it often inthe course of the evening. I saw himsmile to himself - grinrather - and lapse into ominous musing wheneverMrs. Linton hadoccasion to be absent from the apartment.
I determined to watch his movements. Myheart invariably cleavedto the master'sin preference to Catherine'sside: with reason Iimaginedfor he was kindand trustfulandhonourable; and she -she could not be called OPPOSITEyet sheseemed to allow herselfsuch wide latitudethat I had little faith inher principlesandstill less sympathy for her feelings. Iwanted something to happenwhich might have the effect of freeing bothWuthering Heights andthe Grange of Mr. Heathcliff quietly; leavingus as we had beenprior to his advent. His visits were acontinual nightmare to me;andI suspectedto my master also. Hisabode at the Heights wasan oppression past explaining. I feltthat God had forsaken thestray sheep there to its own wicked wanderingsand an evil beastprowled between it and the foldwaiting histime to spring anddestroy.
SOMETIMESwhile meditating on these things insolitudeI've gotup in a sudden terrorand put on my bonnet togo see how all wasat the farm. I've persuaded my consciencethat it was a duty towarn him how people talked regarding his ways;and then I'verecollected his confirmed bad habitsandhopeless of benefitinghimhave flinched from re-entering the dismalhousedoubting if Icould bear to be taken at my word.
One time I passed the old gategoing out of mywayon a journeyto Gimmerton. It was about the periodthat my narrative hasreached: a bright frosty afternoon; theground bareand the roadhard and dry. I came to a stone where thehighway branches off onto the moor at your left hand; a roughsand-pillarwith theletters W. H. cut on its north sideon theeastG.and on thesouth-westT. G. It serves as aguide-post to the GrangetheHeightsand village. The sun shoneyellow on its grey headreminding me of summer; and I cannot say whybut all at once agush of child's sensations flowed into myheart. Hindley and Iheld it a favourite spot twenty years before. I gazed long at theweather-worn block; andstooping downperceived a hole near thebottom still full of snail-shells and pebbleswhich we were fondof storing there with more perishable things;andas fresh asrealityit appeared that I beheld my earlyplaymate seated on thewithered turf: his darksquare head bentforwardand his littlehand scooping out the earth with a piece ofslate. 'Poor Hindley!'I exclaimedinvoluntarily. I started: my bodily eye was cheatedinto a momentary belief that the child liftedits face and staredstraight into mine! It vanished in atwinkling; but immediately Ifelt an irresistible yearning to be at theHeights. Superstitionurged me to comply with this impulse: supposing he should be dead!I thought - or should die soon! - supposing itwere a sign ofdeath! The nearer I got to the house themore agitated I grew; andon catching sight of it I trembled in everylimb. The apparitionhad outstripped me: it stood lookingthrough the gate. That wasmy first idea on observing an elf-lockedbrown-eyed boy settinghis ruddy countenance against the bars. Further reflectionsuggested this must be HaretonMY Haretonnotaltered greatlysince I left himten months since.
'God bless theedarling!' I criedforgettinginstantaneously myfoolish fears. 'Haretonit's Nelly! Nellythy nurse.'
He retreated out of arm's lengthand picked upa large flint.
'I am come to see thy fatherHareton' Iaddedguessing from theaction that Nellyif she lived in his memoryat allwas notrecognised as one with me.
He raised his missile to hurl it; I commenced asoothing speechbut could not stay his hand: the stonestruck my bonnet; and thenensuedfrom the stammering lips of the littlefellowa string ofcurseswhichwhether he comprehended them ornotwere deliveredwith practised emphasisand distorted his babyfeatures into ashocking expression of malignity. You maybe certain this grievedmore than angered me. Fit to cryI tookan orange from my pocketand offered it to propitiate him. Hehesitatedand then snatchedit from my hold; as if he fancied I onlyintended to tempt anddisappoint him. I showed anotherkeepingit out of his reach.
'Who has taught you those fine wordsmybairn?' I inquired. 'Thecurate?'
'Damn the curateand thee! Gie me that'he replied.
'Tell us where you got your lessonsand youshall have it' saidI. 'Who's your master?'
'Devil daddy' was his answer.
'And what do you learn from daddy?' Icontinued.
He jumped at the fruit; I raised it higher. 'What does he teachyou?' I asked.
'Naught' said he'but to keep out of hisgait. Daddy cannot bidemebecause I swear at him.'
'Ah! and the devil teaches you to swear atdaddy?' I observed.
'Ay - nay' he drawled.
'I asked if he liked Mr. Heathcliff.'
'Ay!' he answered again.
Desiring to have his reasons for liking himIcould only gatherthe sentences - 'I known't: he pays dadback what he gies to me -he curses daddy for cursing me. He says Imun do as I will.'
'And the curate does not teach you to read andwritethen?' Ipursued.
'NoI was told the curate should have his -teeth dashed down his- throatif he stepped over the threshold -Heathcliff hadpromised that!'
I put the orange in his handand bade him tellhis father that awoman called Nelly Dean was waiting to speakwith himby thegarden gate. He went up the walkandentered the house; butinstead of HindleyHeathcliff appeared on thedoor-stones; and Iturned directly and ran down the road as hardas ever I could racemaking no halt till I gained the guide-postand feeling as scaredas if I had raised a goblin. This is notmuch connected with MissIsabella's affair: except that it urgedme to resolve further onmounting vigilant guardand doing my utmost tocheek the spread ofsuch bad influence at the Grange: eventhough I should wake adomestic stormby thwarting Mrs. Linton'spleasure.
The next time Heathcliff came my young ladychanced to be feedingsome pigeons in the court. She had neverspoken a word to hersister-in-law for three days; but she hadlikewise dropped herfretful complainingand we found it a greatcomfort. Heathcliffhad not the habit of bestowing a singleunnecessary civility onMiss LintonI knew. Nowas soon as hebeheld herhis firstprecaution was to take a sweeping survey of thehouse-front. I wasstanding by the kitchen-windowbut I drew outof sight. He thenstepped across the pavement to herand saidsomething: she seemedembarrassedand desirous of getting away; toprevent ithe laidhis hand on her arm. She averted herface: he apparently put somequestion which she had no mind to answer. There was another rapidglance at the houseand supposing himselfunseenthe scoundrelhad the impudence to embrace her.
'Judas! Traitor!' I ejaculated. 'You are a hypocritetooareyou? A deliberate deceiver.'
'Who isNelly?' said Catherine's voice at myelbow: I had beenover-intent on watching the pair outside tomark her entrance.
'Your worthless friend!' I answeredwarmly: 'the sneaking rascalyonder. Ahhe has caught a glimpse of us- he is coming in! Iwonder will he have the heart to find aplausible excuse for makinglove to Misswhen he told you he hated her?'
Mrs. Linton saw Isabella tear herself freeandrun into thegarden; and a minute afterHeathcliff openedthe door. I couldn'twithhold giving some loose to my indignation;but Catherine angrilyinsisted on silenceand threatened to order meout of the kitchenif I dared to be so presumptuous as to put inmy insolent tongue.
'To hear youpeople might think you were themistress!' she cried.'You want setting down in your right place! Heathcliffwhat areyou aboutraising this stir? I said youmust let Isabella alone!- I beg you willunless you are tired of beingreceived hereandwish Linton to draw the bolts against you!'
'God forbid that he should try!' answered theblack villain. Idetested him just then. 'God keep himmeek and patient! Every dayI grow madder after sending him to heaven!'
'Hush!' said Catherineshutting the innerdoor! 'Don't vex me.Why have you disregarded my request? Didshe come across you onpurpose?'
'What is it to you?' he growled. 'I havea right to kiss herifshe chooses; and you have no right to object. I am not YOURhusband: YOU needn't be jealous of me!'
'I'm not jealous of you' replied the mistress;'I'm jealous foryou. Clear your face: you sha'n'tscowl at me! If you likeIsabellayou shall marry her. But do youlike her? Tell thetruthHeathcliff! Thereyou won'tanswer. I'm certain youdon't.'
'And would Mr. Linton approve of his sistermarrying that man?' Iinquired.
'Mr. Linton should approve' returned my ladydecisively.
'He might spare himself the trouble' saidHeathcliff: 'I could doas well without his approbation. And asto youCatherineI havea mind to speak a few words nowwhile we areat it. I want you tobe aware that I KNOW you have treated meinfernally - infernally!Do you hear? And if you flatter yourselfthat I don't perceive ityou are a fool; and if you think I can beconsoled by sweet wordsyou are an idiot: and if you fancy I'llsuffer unrevengedI'llconvince you of the contraryin a very littlewhile! Meantimethank you for telling me your sister-in-law'ssecret: I swear I'llmake the most of it. And stand youaside!'
'What new phase of his character is this?'exclaimed Mrs. Lintonin amazement. 'I've treated youinfernally - and you'll take yourrevenge! How will you take itungratefulbrute? How have Itreated you infernally?'
'I seek no revenge on you' replied Heathcliffless vehemently.'That's not the plan. The tyrant grindsdown his slaves and theydon't turn against him; they crush thosebeneath them. You arewelcome to torture me to death for youramusementonly allow me toamuse myself a little in the same styleandrefrain from insult asmuch as you are able. Having levelled mypalacedon't erect ahovel and complacently admire your own charityin giving me thatfor a home. If I imagined you reallywished me to marry IsabelI'd cut my throat!'
'Ohthe evil is that I am NOT jealousis it?'cried Catherine.'WellI won't repeat my offer of a wife: it is as bad as offeringSatan a lost soul. Your bliss lieslikehisin inflictingmisery. You prove it. Edgar isrestored from the ill-temper hegave way to at your coming; I begin to besecure and tranquil; andyourestless to know us at peaceappearresolved on exciting aquarrel. Quarrel with Edgarif youpleaseHeathcliffanddeceive his sister: you'll hit on exactlythe most efficientmethod of revenging yourself on me.'
The conversation ceased. Mrs. Linton satdown by the fireflushedand gloomy. The spirit which served herwas growing intractable:she could neither lay nor control it. Hestood on the hearth withfolded armsbrooding on his evil thoughts; andin this position Ileft them to seek the masterwho was wonderingwhat kept Catherinebelow so long.
'Ellen' said hewhen I entered'have youseen your mistress?'
'Yes; she's in the kitchensir' I answered. 'She's sadly put outby Mr. Heathcliff's behaviour: andindeedI do think it's timeto arrange his visits on another footing. There's harm in beingtoo softand now it's come to this - .' And I related the scenein the courtandas near as I daredthewhole subsequentdispute. I fancied it could not be veryprejudicial to Mrs.Linton; unless she made it so afterwardsbyassuming the defensivefor her guest. Edgar Linton haddifficulty in hearing me to theclose. His first words revealed that hedid not clear his wife ofblame.
'This is insufferable!' he exclaimed. 'Itis disgraceful that sheshould own him for a friendand force hiscompany on me! Call metwo men out of the hallEllen. Catherineshall linger no longerto argue with the low ruffian - I have humouredher enough.'
He descendedand bidding the servants wait inthe passagewentfollowed by meto the kitchen. Itsoccupants had recommencedtheir angry discussion: Mrs. Lintonatleastwas scolding withrenewed vigour; Heathcliff had moved to thewindowand hung hisheadsomewhat cowed by her violent ratingapparently. He saw themaster firstand made a hasty motion that sheshould be silent;which she obeyedabruptlyon discovering thereason of hisintimation.
'How is this?' said Lintonaddressing her;'what notion ofpropriety must you have to remain hereafterthe language whichhas been held to you by that blackguard? I supposebecause it ishis ordinary talk you think nothing of it: you are habituated tohis basenessandperhapsimagine I can getused to it too!'
'Have you been listening at the doorEdgar?'asked the mistressin a tone particularly calculated to provokeher husbandimplyingboth carelessness and contempt of hisirritation. Heathcliffwhohad raised his eyes at the former speechgavea sneering laugh atthe latter; on purposeit seemedto draw Mr.Linton's attentionto him. He succeeded; but Edgar did notmean to entertain him withany high flights of passion.
'I've been so far forbearing with yousir' hesaid quietly; 'notthat I was ignorant of your miserabledegradedcharacterbut Ifelt you were only partly responsible for that;and Catherinewishing to keep up your acquaintanceIacquiesced - foolishly.Your presence is a moral poison that wouldcontaminate the mostvirtuous: for that causeand to preventworse consequencesIshall deny you hereafter admission into thishouseand give noticenow that I require your instant departure. Three minutes' delaywill render it involuntary and ignominious.
Heathcliff measured the height and breadth ofthe speaker with aneye full of derision.
'Cathythis lamb of yours threatens like abull!' he said. 'It isin danger of splitting its skull against myknuckles. By God! Mr.LintonI'm mortally sorry that you are notworth knocking down!'
My master glanced towards the passageandsigned me to fetch themen: he had no intention of hazarding apersonal encounter. Iobeyed the hint; but Mrs. Lintonsuspectingsomethingfollowed;and when I attempted to call themshe pulledme backslammed thedoor toand locked it.
'Fair means!' she saidin answer to herhusband's look of angrysurprise. 'If you have not courage toattack himmake an apologyor allow yourself to be beaten. It willcorrect you of feigningmore valour than you possess. NoI'llswallow the key before youshall get it! I'm delightfully rewardedfor my kindness to each!After constant indulgence of one's weak natureand the other's badoneI earn for thanks two samples of blindingratitudestupid toabsurdity! EdgarI was defending you andyours; and I wishHeathcliff may flog you sickfor daring tothink an evil thoughtof me!'
It did not need the medium of a flogging toproduce that effect onthe master. He tried to wrest the keyfrom Catherine's graspandfor safety she flung it into the hottest partof the fire;whereupon Mr. Edgar was taken with a nervoustremblingand hiscountenance grew deadly pale. For hislife he could not avert thatexcess of emotion: mingled anguish andhumiliation overcame himcompletely. He leant on the back of achairand covered his face.
'Ohheavens! In old days this would winyou knighthood!'exclaimed Mrs. Linton. 'We arevanquished! we are vanquished!Heathcliff would as soon lift a finger at youas the king wouldmarch his army against a colony of mice. Cheer up! you sha'n't behurt! Your type is not a lambit's asucking leveret.'
'I wish you joy of the milk-blooded cowardCathy!' said herfriend. 'I compliment you on your taste. And that is theslaveringshivering thing you preferred tome! I would not strikehim with my fistbut I'd kick him with myfootand experienceconsiderable satisfaction. Is he weepingor is he going to faintfor fear?'
The fellow approached and gave the chair onwhich Linton rested apush. He'd better have kept hisdistance: my master quicklysprang erectand struck him full on the throata blow that wouldhave levelled a slighter man. It took hisbreath for a minute; andwhile he chokedMr. Linton walked out by theback door into theyardand from thence to the front entrance.
'There! you've done with coming here' criedCatherine. 'Get awaynow; he'll return with a brace of pistols andhalf-a-dozenassistants. If he did overhear usofcourse he'd never forgiveyou. You've played me an ill turnHeathcliff! But go - makehaste! I'd rather see Edgar at bay thanyou.'
'Do you suppose I'm going with that blowburning in my gullet?' hethundered. 'By hellno! I'll crushhis ribs in like a rottenhazel-nut before I cross the threshold! If I don't floor him nowI shall murder him some time; soas you valuehis existenceletme get at him!'
'He is not coming' I interposedframing a bitof a lie. 'There'sthe coachman and the two gardeners; you'llsurely not wait to bethrust into the road by them! Each has abludgeon; and masterwillvery likelybe watching from theparlour-windows to see thatthey fulfil his orders.'
The gardeners and coachman were there: but Linton was with them.They had already entered the court. Heathcliffon the secondthoughtsresolved to avoid a struggle againstthree underlings:he seized the pokersmashed the lock from theinner doorand madehis escape as they tramped in.
Mrs. Lintonwho was very much excitedbade meaccompany her up-stairs. She did not know my share incontributing to thedisturbanceand I was anxious to keep her inignorance.
'I'm nearly distractedNelly!' she exclaimedthrowing herself onthe sofa. 'A thousand smiths' hammers arebeating in my head!Tell Isabella to shun me; this uproar is owingto her; and shouldshe or any one else aggravate my anger atpresentI shall getwild. AndNellysay to Edgarif yousee him again to-nightthat I'm in danger of being seriously ill. I wish it may provetrue. He has startled and distressed meshockingly! I want tofrighten him. Besideshe might come andbegin a string of abuseor complainings; I'm certain I shouldrecriminateand God knowswhere we should end! Will you do somygood Nelly? You are awarethat I am no way blamable in this matter. What possessed him toturn listener? Heathcliff's talk wasoutrageousafter you leftus; but I could soon have diverted him fromIsabellaand the restmeant nothing. Now all is dashed wrong;by the fool's craving tohear evil of selfthat haunts some people likea demon! Had Edgarnever gathered our conversationhe would neverhave been the worsefor it. Reallywhen he opened on me inthat unreasonable tone ofdispleasure after I had scolded Heathcliff tillI was hoarse forhimI did not care hardly what they did toeach other; especiallyas I felt thathowever the scene closedweshould all be drivenasunder for nobody knows how long! Wellif I cannot keepHeathcliff for my friend - if Edgar will bemean and jealousI'lltry to break their hearts by breaking my own. That will be aprompt way of finishing allwhen I am pushedto extremity! Butit's a deed to be reserved for a forlorn hope;I'd not take Lintonby surprise with it. To this point he hasbeen discreet indreading to provoke me; you must represent theperil of quittingthat policyand remind him of my passionatetempervergingwhenkindledon frenzy. I wish you coulddismiss that apathy out ofthat countenanceand look rather more anxiousabout me.'
The stolidity with which I received theseinstructions wasnodoubtrather exasperating: for they weredelivered in perfectsincerity; but I believed a person who couldplan the turning ofher fits of passion to accountbeforehandmightby exerting herwillmanage to control herself tolerablyevenwhile under theirinfluence; and I did not wish to 'frighten' herhusbandas shesaidand multiply his annoyances for thepurpose of serving herselfishness. Therefore I said nothingwhen I met the master comingtowards the parlour; but I took the liberty ofturning back tolisten whether they would resume their quarreltogether. He beganto speak first.
'Remain where you areCatherine' he said;without any anger inhis voicebut with much sorrowfuldespondency. 'I shall not stay.I am neither come to wrangle nor be reconciled;but I wish just tolearn whetherafter this evening's eventsyouintend to continueyour intimacy with - '
'Ohfor mercy's sake' interrupted themistressstamping herfoot'for mercy's sakelet us hear no more ofit now! Your coldblood cannot be worked into a fever: yourveins are full of ice-water; but mine are boilingand the sight ofsuch chillness makesthem dance.'
'To get rid of meanswer my question'persevered Mr. Linton.'You must answer it; and that violence does notalarm me. I havefound that you can be as stoical as anyonewhen you please. Willyou give up Heathcliff hereafteror will yougive up me? It isimpossible for you to be MY friend and HIS atthe same time; and Iabsolutely REQUIRE to know which you choose.'
'I require to be let alone?' exclaimedCatherinefuriously. 'Idemand it! Don't you see I can scarcelystand? Edgaryou - youleave me!'
She rang the bell till it broke with a twang; Ientered leisurely.It was enough to try the temper of a saintsuch senselesswickedrages! There she lay dashing her headagainst the arm of the sofaand grinding her teethso that you might fancyshe would crashthem to splinters! Mr. Linton stoodlooking at her in suddencompunction and fear. He told me to fetchsome water. She had nobreath for speaking. I brought a glassfull; and as she would notdrinkI sprinkled it on her face. In afew seconds she stretchedherself out stiffand turned up her eyeswhile her cheeksatonce blanched and lividassumed the aspect ofdeath. Lintonlooked terrified.
'There is nothing in the world the matter' Iwhispered. I did notwant him to yieldthough I could not helpbeing afraid in myheart.
'She has blood on her lips!' he saidshuddering.
'Never mind!' I answeredtartly. And Itold him how she hadresolvedprevious to his comingon exhibitinga fit of frenzy. Iincautiously gave the account aloudand sheheard me; for shestarted up - her hair flying over hershouldersher eyes flashingthe muscles of her neck and arms standing outpreternaturally. Imade up my mind for broken bonesat least; butshe only glaredabout her for an instantand then rushed fromthe room. Themaster directed me to follow; I didto herchamber-door: shehindered me from going further by securing itagainst me.
As she never offered to descend to breakfastnext morningI wentto ask whether she would have some carried up. 'No!' she repliedperemptorily. The same question wasrepeated at dinner and tea;and again on the morrow afterand received thesame answer. Mr.Lintonon his partspent his time in thelibraryand did notinquire concerning his wife's occupations. Isabella and he had hadan hour's interviewduring which he tried toelicit from her somesentiment of proper horror for Heathcliff'sadvances: but he couldmake nothing of her evasive repliesand wasobliged to close theexamination unsatisfactorily; addinghowevera solemn warningthat if she were so insane as to encourage thatworthless suitorit would dissolve all bonds of relationshipbetween herself andhim.
WHILE Miss Linton moped about the park andgardenalways silentand almost always in tears; and her brothershut himself up amongbooks that he never opened - wearyingIguessedwith a continualvague expectation that Catherinerepenting herconductwould comeof her own accord to ask pardonand seek areconciliation - andSHE fasted pertinaciouslyunder the ideaprobablythat at everymeal Edgar was ready to choke for her absenceand pride alone heldhim from running to cast himself at her feet; Iwent about myhousehold dutiesconvinced that the Grange hadbut one sensiblesoul in its wallsand that lodged in my body. I wasted nocondolences on Missnor any expostulations onmy mistress; nor didI pay much attention to the sighs of my masterwho yearned to hearhis lady's namesince he might not hear hervoice. I determinedthey should come about as they pleased for me;and though it was atiresomely slow processI began to rejoice atlength in a faintdawn of its progress: as I thought atfirst.
Mrs. Lintonon the third dayunbarred herdoorand havingfinished the water in her pitcher and decanterdesired a renewedsupplyand a basin of gruelfor she believedshe was dying. ThatI set down as a speech meant for Edgar's ears;I believed no suchthingso I kept it to myself and brought hersome tea and drytoast. She ate and drank eagerlyandsank back on her pillowagainclenching her hands and groaning. 'OhI will die' sheexclaimed'since no one cares anything aboutme. I wish I had nottaken that.' Then a good while after Iheard her murmur'NoI'llnot die - he'd be glad - he does not love me atall - he wouldnever miss me!'
'Did you want anythingma'am?' I inquiredstill preserving myexternal composurein spite of her ghastlycountenance andstrangeexaggerated manner.
'What is that apathetic being doing?' shedemandedpushing thethick entangled locks from her wasted face. 'Has he fallen into alethargyor is he dead?'
'Neither' replied I; 'if you mean Mr. Linton. He's tolerablywellI thinkthough his studies occupy himrather more than theyought: he is continually among his bookssince he has no othersociety.'
I should not have spoken so if I had known hertrue conditionbutI could not get rid of the notion that sheacted a part of herdisorder.
'Among his books!' she criedconfounded. 'And I dying! I on thebrink of the grave! My God! does he knowhow I'm altered?'continued shestaring at her reflection in amirror hangingagainst the opposite wall. 'Is thatCatherine Linton? Heimagines me in a pet - in playperhaps. Cannot you inform himthat it is frightful earnest? Nellyifit be not too lateassoon as I learn how he feelsI'll choosebetween these two:either to starve at once - that would be nopunishment unless hehad a heart - or to recoverand leave thecountry. Are youspeaking the truth about him now? Takecare. Is he actually soutterly indifferent for my life?'
'Whyma'am' I answered'the master has noidea of your beingderanged; and of course he does not fear thatyou will let yourselfdie of hunger.'
'You think not? Cannot you tell him Iwill?' she returned.'Persuade him! speak of your own mind: say you are certain Iwill!'
'Noyou forgetMrs. Linton' I suggested'that you have eatensome food with a relish this eveningandto-morrow you willperceive its good effects.'
'If I were only sure it would kill him' sheinterrupted'I'd killmyself directly! These three awful nightsI've never closed mylids - and ohI've been tormented! I'vebeen hauntedNelly! ButI begin to fancy you don't like me. Howstrange! I thoughtthough everybody hated and despised each otherthey could notavoid loving me. And they have all turnedto enemies in a fewhours: they haveI'm positive; thepeople here. How dreary tomeet deathsurrounded by their cold faces! Isabellaterrifiedand repelledafraid to enter the roomitwould be so dreadful towatch Catherine go. And Edgar standingsolemnly by to see it over;then offering prayers of thanks to God forrestoring peace to hishouseand going back to his BOOKS! Whatin the name of all thatfeels has he to do with BOOKSwhen I amdying?'
She could not bear the notion which I had putinto her head of Mr.Linton's philosophical resignation. Tossing aboutshe increasedher feverish bewilderment to madnessand torethe pillow with herteeth; then raising herself up all burningdesired that I wouldopen the window. We were in the middle ofwinterthe wind blewstrong from the north-eastand I objected. Both the expressionsflitting over her faceand the changes of hermoodsbegan toalarm me terribly; and brought to myrecollection her formerillnessand the doctor's injunction that sheshould not becrossed. A minute previously she wasviolent; nowsupported onone armand not noticing my refusal to obeyhershe seemed tofind childish diversion in pulling the feathersfrom the rents shehad just madeand ranging them on the sheetaccording to theirdifferent species: her mind had strayedto other associations.
'That's a turkey's' she murmured to herself;'and this is a wildduck's; and this is a pigeon's. Ahtheyput pigeons' feathers inthe pillows - no wonder I couldn't die! Let me take care to throwit on the floor when I lie down. And hereis a moor-cock's; andthis - I should know it among a thousand - it'sa lapwing's. Bonnybird; wheeling over our heads in the middle ofthe moor. It wantedto get to its nestfor the clouds had touchedthe swellsand itfelt rain coming. This feather was pickedup from the heaththebird was not shot: we saw its nest in thewinterfull of littleskeletons. Heathcliff set a trap over itand the old ones darednot come. I made him promise he'd nevershoot a lapwing afterthatand he didn't. Yeshere are more! Did he shoot mylapwingsNelly? Are they redany ofthem? Let me look.'
'Give over with that baby-work!' I interrupteddragging the pillowawayand turning the holes towards themattressfor she wasremoving its contents by handfuls. 'Liedown and shut your eyes:you're wandering. There's a mess! The down is flying about likesnow.'
I went here and there collecting it.
'I see in youNelly' she continued dreamily'an aged woman: youhave grey hair and bent shoulders. Thisbed is the fairy caveunder Penistone cragsand you are gatheringelf-bolts to hurt ourheifers; pretendingwhile I am nearthat theyare only locks ofwool. That's what you'll come to fiftyyears hence: I know youare not so now. I'm not wandering: you're mistakenor else Ishould believe you really WERE that witheredhagand I shouldthink I WAS under Penistone Crags; and I'mconscious it's nightand there are two candles on the table makingthe black press shinelike jet.'
'The black press? where is that?' I asked. 'You are talking inyour sleep!'
'It's against the wallas it always is' shereplied. 'It DOESappear odd - I see a face in it!'
'There's no press in the roomand never was'said Iresuming myseatand looping up the curtain that I mightwatch her.
'Don't YOU see that face?' she inquiredgazingearnestly at themirror.
And say what I couldI was incapable of makingher comprehend itto be her own; so I rose and covered it with ashawl.
'It's behind there still!' she pursuedanxiously. 'And itstirred. Who is it? I hope it willnot come out when you aregone! Oh! Nellythe room ishaunted! I'm afraid of beingalone!'
I took her hand in mineand bid her becomposed; for a successionof shudders convulsed her frameand she wouldkeep straining hergaze towards the glass.
'There's nobody here!' I insisted. 'Itwas YOURSELFMrs. Linton:you knew it a while since.'
'Myself!' she gasped'and the clock isstriking twelve! It'struethen! that's dreadful!'
Her fingers clutched the clothesand gatheredthem over her eyes.I attempted to steal to the door with anintention of calling herhusband; but I was summoned back by a piercingshriek - the shawlhad dropped from the frame.
'Whywhat is the matter?' cried I. 'Whois coward now? Wake up!That is the glass - the mirrorMrs. Linton;and you see yourselfin itand there am I too by your side.'
Trembling and bewilderedshe held me fastbutthe horrorgradually passed from her countenance; itspaleness gave place to aglow of shame.
'Ohdear! I thought I was at home' shesighed. 'I thought I waslying in my chamber at Wuthering Heights. Because I'm weakmybrain got confusedand I screamedunconsciously. Don't sayanything; but stay with me. I dreadsleeping: my dreams appalme.'
'A sound sleep would do you goodma'am' Ianswered: 'and I hopethis suffering will prevent your tryingstarving again.'
'Ohif I were but in my own bed in the oldhouse!' she went onbitterlywringing her hands. 'And thatwind sounding in the firsby the lattice. Do let me feel it - itcomes straight down themoor - do let me have one breath!' Topacify her I held thecasement ajar a few seconds. A cold blastrushed through; I closeditand returned to my post. She laystill nowher face bathed intears. Exhaustion of body had entirelysubdued her spirit: ourfiery Catherine was no better than a wailingchild.
'How long is it since I shut myself in here?'she askedsuddenlyreviving.
'It was Monday evening' I replied'and thisis Thursday nightorrather Friday morningat present.'
'What! of the same week?' she exclaimed. 'Only that brief time?'
'Long enough to live on nothing but cold waterand ill-temper'observed I.
'Wellit seems a weary number of hours' shemuttered doubtfully:'it must be more. I remember being in theparlour after they hadquarrelledand Edgar being cruelly provokingand me running intothis room desperate. As soon as ever Ihad barred the doorutterblackness overwhelmed meand I fell on thefloor. I couldn'texplain to Edgar how certain I felt of having afitor goingraging madif he persisted in teasing me! I had no command oftongueor brainand he did not guess myagonyperhaps: itbarely left me sense to try to escape from himand his voice.Before I recovered sufficiently to see andhearit began to bedawnandNellyI'll tell you what I thoughtand what has keptrecurring and recurring till I feared for myreason. I thought asI lay therewith my head against that tablelegand my eyes dimlydiscerning the grey square of the windowthatI was enclosed inthe oak-panelled bed at home; and my heartached with some greatgrief whichjust wakingI could notrecollect. I ponderedandworried myself to discover what it could beandmost strangelythe whole last seven years of my life grew ablank! I did notrecall that they had been at all. I was achild; my father wasjust buriedand my misery arose from theseparation that Hindleyhad ordered between me and Heathcliff. Iwas laid alonefor thefirst time; androusing from a dismal dozeafter a night ofweepingI lifted my hand to push the panelsaside: it struck thetable-top! I swept it along the carpetand then memory burst in:my late anguish was swallowed in a paroxysm ofdespair. I cannotsay why I felt so wildly wretched: itmust have been temporaryderangement; for there is scarcely cause. Butsupposing at twelveyears old I had been wrenched from the Heightsand every earlyassociationand my all in allas Heathcliffwas at that timeandbeen converted at a stroke into Mrs. Lintonthe lady ofThrushcross Grangeand the wife of astranger: an exileandoutcastthenceforthfrom what had been myworld. You may fancy aglimpse of the abyss where I grovelled! Shake your head as youwillNellyyou have helped to unsettle me! You should havespoken to Edgarindeed you shouldandcompelled him to leave mequiet! OhI'm burning! I wish Iwere out of doors! I wish Iwere a girl againhalf savage and hardyandfree; and laughing atinjuriesnot maddening under them! Whyam I so changed? why doesmy blood rush into a hell of tumult at a fewwords? I'm sure Ishould be myself were I once among the heatheron those hills.Open the window again wide: fasten itopen! Quickwhy don't youmove?'
'Because I won't give you your death of cold'I answered.
'You won't give me a chance of lifeyou mean'she saidsullenly.'HoweverI'm not helpless yet; I'll open itmyself.'
And sliding from the bed before I could hinderhershe crossed theroomwalking very uncertainlythrew it backand bent outcareless of the frosty air that cut about hershoulders as keen asa knife. I entreatedand finallyattempted to force her toretire. But I soon found her deliriousstrength much surpassedmine (she was deliriousI became convinced byher subsequentactions and ravings). There was no moonand everything beneathlay in misty darkness: not a lightgleamed from any housefar ornear all had been extinguished long ago: and those at WutheringHeights were never visible - still she assertedshe caught theirshining.
'Look!' she cried eagerly'that's my room withthe candle in itand the trees swaying before it; and the othercandle is inJoseph's garret. Joseph sits up latedoesn't he? He's waitingtill I come home that he may lock the gate. Wellhe'll wait awhile yet. It's a rough journeyand asad heart to travel it; andwe must pass by Gimmerton Kirk to go thatjourney! We've bravedits ghosts often togetherand dared each otherto stand among thegraves and ask them to come. ButHeathcliffif I dare you nowwill you venture? If you doI'll keepyou. I'll not lie there bymyself: they may bury me twelve feetdeepand throw the churchdown over mebut I won't rest till you arewith me. I neverwill!'
She pausedand resumed with a strange smile. 'He's considering -he'd rather I'd come to him! Find a waythen! not through thatkirkyard. You are slow! Be contentyou always followed me!'
Perceiving it vain to argue against herinsanityI was planninghow I could reach something to wrap about herwithout quitting myhold of herself (for I could not trust heralone by the gapinglattice)whento my consternationI heardthe rattle of thedoor-handleand Mr. Linton entered. Hehad only then come fromthe library; andin passing through the lobbyhad noticed ourtalking and been attracted by curiosityorfearto examine whatit signifiedat that late hour.
'Ohsir!' I criedchecking the exclamationrisen to his lips atthe sight which met himand the bleakatmosphere of the chamber.'My poor mistress is illand she quite mastersme: I cannotmanage her at all; praycome and persuade herto go to bed.Forget your angerfor she's hard to guide anyway but her own.'
'Catherine ill?' he saidhastening to us. 'Shut the windowEllen! Catherine! why - '
He was silent. The haggardness of Mrs.Linton's appearance smotehim speechlessand he could only glance fromher to me inhorrified astonishment.
'She's been fretting here' I continued'andeating scarcelyanythingand never complaining: shewould admit none of us tillthis eveningand so we couldn't inform you ofher stateas wewere not aware of it ourselves; but it isnothing.'
I felt I uttered my explanations awkwardly; themaster frowned.'It is nothingis itEllen Dean?' he saidsternly. 'You shallaccount more clearly for keeping me ignorant ofthis!' And he tookhis wife in his armsand looked at her withanguish.
At first she gave him no glance ofrecognition: he was invisibleto her abstracted gaze. The delirium wasnot fixedhowever;having weaned her eyes from contemplating theouter darknessbydegrees she centred her attention on himanddiscovered who it wasthat held her.
'Ah! you are comeare youEdgar Linton?' shesaidwith angryanimation. 'You are one of those thingsthat are ever found whenleast wantedand when you are wantednever! I suppose we shallhave plenty of lamentations now - I see weshall - but they can'tkeep me from my narrow home out yonder: my resting-placewhereI'm bound before spring is over! There itis: not among theLintonsmindunder the chapel-roofbut inthe open airwith ahead-stone; and you may please yourself whetheryou go to them orcome to me!'
'Catherinewhat have you done?' commenced themaster. 'Am Inothing to you any more? Do you love thatwretch Heath - '
'Hush!' cried Mrs. Linton. 'Hushthismoment! You mention thatname and I end the matter instantly by a springfrom the window!What you touch at present you may have; but mysoul will be on thathill-top before you lay hands on me again. I don't want youEdgar: I'm past wanting you. Returnto your books. I'm glad youpossess a consolationfor all you had in me isgone.'
'Her mind wanderssir' I interposed. 'She has been talkingnonsense the whole evening; but let her havequietand properattendanceand she'll rally. Hereafterwe must be cautious howwe vex her.'
'I desire no further advice from you' answeredMr. Linton. 'Youknew your mistress's natureand you encouragedme to harass her.And not to give me one hint of how she has beenthese three days!It was heartless! Months of sicknesscould not cause such achange!'
I began to defend myselfthinking it too badto be blamed foranother's wicked waywardness. 'I knewMrs. Linton's nature to beheadstrong and domineering' cried I: 'but I didn't know that youwished to foster her fierce temper! Ididn't know thatto humourherI should wink at Mr. Heathcliff. Iperformed the duty of afaithful servant in telling youand I have gota faithfulservant's wages! Wellit will teach meto be careful next time.Next time you may gather intelligence foryourself!'
'The next time you bring a tale to me you shallquit my serviceEllen Dean' he replied.
'You'd rather hear nothing about itI supposethenMr. Linton?'said I. 'Heathcliff has your permissionto come a-courting toMissand to drop in at every opportunity yourabsence offersonpurpose to poison the mistress against you?'
Confused as Catherine washer wits were alertat applying ourconversation.
'Ah! Nelly has played traitor' sheexclaimedpassionately.'Nelly is my hidden enemy. You witch! So you do seek elf-bolts tohurt us! Let me goand I'll make herrue! I'll make her howl arecantation!'
A maniac's fury kindled under her brows; shestruggled desperatelyto disengage herself from Linton's arms. I felt no inclination totarry the event; andresolving to seek medicalaid on my ownresponsibilityI quitted the chamber.
In passing the garden to reach the roadat aplace where a bridlehook is driven into the wallI saw somethingwhite movedirregularlyevidently by another agent thanthe wind.Notwithstanding my hurryI stayed to examineitlest ever after Ishould have the conviction impressed on myimagination that it wasa creature of the other world. Mysurprise and perplexity weregreat on discoveringby touch more thanvisionMiss Isabella'sspringerFannysuspended by a handkerchiefand nearly at itslast gasp. I quickly released the animaland lifted it into thegarden. I had seen it follow its mistressup-stairs when she wentto bed; and wondered much how it could have gotout thereand whatmischievous person had treated it so. While untying the knot roundthe hookit seemed to me that I repeatedlycaught the beat ofhorses' feet galloping at some distance; butthere were such anumber of things to occupy my reflections thatI hardly gave thecircumstance a thought: though it was astrange soundin thatplaceat two o'clock in the morning.
Mr. Kenneth was fortunately just issuing fromhis house to see apatient in the village as I came up the street;and my account ofCatherine Linton's malady induced him toaccompany me backimmediately. He was a plain rough man;and he made no scruple tospeak his doubts of her surviving this secondattack; unless shewere more submissive to his directions than shehad shown herselfbefore.
'Nelly Dean' said he'I can't help fancyingthere's an extracause for this. What has there been to doat the Grange? We'veodd reports up here. A stouthearty lasslike Catherine does notfall ill for a trifle; and that sort of peopleshould not either.It's hard work bringing them through feversand such things. Howdid it begin?'
'The master will inform you' I answered; 'butyou are acquaintedwith the Earnshaws' violent dispositionsandMrs. Linton caps themall. I may say this; it commenced in aquarrel. She was struckduring a tempest of passion with a kind offit. That's heraccountat least: for she flew off inthe height of itandlocked herself up. Afterwardssherefused to eatand now shealternately raves and remains in a half dream;knowing those aboutherbut having her mind filled with all sortsof strange ideas andillusions.'
'Mr. Linton will be sorry?' observed Kennethinterrogatively.
' Sorry? he'll break his heart should anythinghappen!' I replied.'Don't alarm him more than necessary.'
'WellI told him to beware' said mycompanion; 'and he must bidethe consequences of neglecting my warning! Hasn't he been intimatewith Mr. Heathcliff lately?'
'Heathcliff frequently visits at the Grange'answered I'thoughmore on the strength of the mistress havingknown him when a boythan because the master likes his company. At present he'sdischarged from the trouble of calling; owingto some presumptuousaspirations after Miss Linton which hemanifested. I hardly thinkhe'll be taken in again.'
'And does Miss Linton turn a cold shoulder onhim?' was thedoctor's next question.
'I'm not in her confidence' returned Ireluctant to continue thesubject.
'Noshe's a sly one' he remarkedshaking hishead. 'She keepsher own counsel! But she's a real littlefool. I have it fromgood authority that last night (and a prettynight it was!) she andHeathcliff were walking in the plantation atthe back of your houseabove two hours; and he pressed her not to goin againbut justmount his horse and away with him! Myinformant said she couldonly put him off by pledging her word of honourto be prepared ontheir first meeting after that: when itwas to be he didn't hear;but you urge Mr. Linton to look sharp!'
This news filled me with fresh fears; Ioutstripped Kennethandran most of the way back. The little dogwas yelping in the gardenyet. I spared a minute to open the gatefor itbut instead ofgoing to the house doorit coursed up and downsnuffing the grassand would have escaped to the roadhad I notseized it andconveyed it in with me. On ascending toIsabella's roommysuspicions were confirmed: it was empty. Had I been a few hourssooner Mrs. Linton's illness might havearrested her rash step.But what could be done now? There was abare possibility ofovertaking them if pursued instantly. Icould not pursue themhowever; and I dared not rouse the familyandfill the place withconfusion; still less unfold the business to mymasterabsorbed ashe was in his present calamityand having noheart to spare for asecond grief! I saw nothing for it but tohold my tongueandsuffer matters to take their course; andKenneth being arrivedIwent with a badly composed countenance toannounce him. Catherinelay in a troubled sleep: her husband hadsucceeded in soothing theexcess of frenzy; he now hung over her pillowwatching every shadeand every change of her painfully expressivefeatures.
The doctoron examining the case for himselfspoke hopefully tohim of its having a favourable terminationifwe could onlypreserve around her perfect and constanttranquillity. To mehesignified the threatening danger was not somuch deathaspermanent alienation of intellect.
I did not close my eyes that nightnor did Mr.Linton: indeedwenever went to bed; and the servants were all uplong before theusual hourmoving through the house withstealthy treadandexchanging whispers as they encountered eachother in theirvocations. Every one was active but MissIsabella; and they beganto remark how sound she slept: herbrothertooasked if she hadrisenand seemed impatient for her presenceand hurt that sheshowed so little anxiety for hersister-in-law. I trembled lest heshould send me to call her; but I was sparedthe pain of being thefirst proclaimant of her flight. One ofthe maidsa thoughtlessgirlwho had been on an early errand toGimmertoncame pantingup-stairsopen-mouthedand dashed into thechambercrying: 'Ohdeardear! What mun we have next? Mastermasterour young lady- '
'Hold your noise!' criedI hastilyenraged ather clamorousmanner.
'Speak lowerMary - What is the matter?' saidMr. Linton. 'Whatails your young lady?'
'She's goneshe's gone! Yon'Heathcliff's run off wi' her!'gasped the girl.
'That is not true!' exclaimed Lintonrising inagitation. 'Itcannot be: how has the idea entered yourhead? Ellen Deango andseek her. It is incredible: itcannot be.'
As he spoke he took the servant to the doorand then repeated hisdemand to know her reasons for such anassertion.
'WhyI met on the road a lad that fetches milkhere' shestammered'and he asked whether we weren't introuble at theGrange. I thought he meant for missis'ssicknessso I answeredyes. Then says he"There's somebodygone after 'emI guess?" Istared. He saw I knew nought about itand he told how a gentlemanand lady had stopped to have a horse's shoefastened at ablacksmith's shoptwo miles out of Gimmertonnot very long aftermidnight! and how the blacksmith's lass had gotup to spy who theywere: she knew them both directly. And she noticed the man -Heathcliff it wasshe felt certain: nob'dy could mistake himbesides - put a sovereign in her father's handfor payment. Thelady had a cloak about her face; but havingdesired a sup of waterwhile she drank it fell backand she saw hervery plain.Heathcliff held both bridles as they rode onand they set theirfaces from the villageand went as fast as therough roads wouldlet them. The lass said nothing to herfatherbut she told it allover Gimmerton this morning.'
I ran and peepedfor form's sakeintoIsabella's room;confirmingwhen I returnedthe servant'sstatement. Mr. Lintonhad resumed his seat by the bed; on myre-entrancehe raised hiseyesread the meaning of my blank aspectanddropped them withoutgiving an orderor uttering a word.
'Are we to try any measures for overtaking andbringing her back'I inquired. 'How should we do?'
'She went of her own accord' answered themaster; 'she had a rightto go if she pleased. Trouble me no moreabout her. Hereafter sheis only my sister in name: not because Idisown herbut becauseshe has disowned me.'
And that was all he said on the subject: he did not make singleinquiry furtheror mention her in any wayexcept directing me tosend what property she had in the house to herfresh homewhereverit waswhen I knew it.
FOR two months the fugitives remained absent;in those two monthsMrs. Linton encountered and conquered the worstshock of what wasdenominated a brain fever. No mothercould have nursed an onlychild more devotedly than Edgar tended her. Day and night he waswatchingand patiently enduring all theannoyances that irritablenerves and a shaken reason could inflict; andthough Kennethremarked that what he saved from the gravewould only recompensehis care by forming the source of constantfuture anxiety - infactthat his health and strength were beingsacrificed topreserve a mere ruin of humanity - he knew nolimits in gratitudeand joy when Catherine's life was declared outof danger; and hourafter hour he would sit beside hertracing thegradual return tobodily healthand flattering his too sanguinehopes with theillusion that her mind would settle back to itsright balance alsoand she would soon be entirely her former self.
The first time she left her chamber was at thecommencement of thefollowing March. Mr. Linton had put onher pillowin the morninga handful of golden crocuses; her eyelongstranger to any gleamof pleasurecaught them in wakingand shonedelighted as shegathered them eagerly together.
'These are the earliest flowers at theHeights' she exclaimed.'They remind me of soft thaw windsand warmsunshineand nearlymelted snow. Edgaris there not a southwindand is not the snowalmost gone?'
'The snow is quite gone down heredarling'replied her husband;'and I only see two white spots on the wholerange of moors: thesky is blueand the larks are singingand thebecks and brooksare all brim full. Catherinelast springat this timeI waslonging to have you under this roof; nowIwish you were a mile ortwo up those hills: the air blows sosweetlyI feel that it wouldcure you.'
'I shall never be there but once more' saidthe invalid; 'and thenyou'll leave meand I shall remain for ever. Next spring you'lllong again to have me under this roofandyou'll look back andthink you were happy to-day.'
Linton lavished on her the kindest caressesand tried to cheer herby the fondest words; butvaguely regardingthe flowersshe letthe tears collect on her lashes and stream downher cheeksunheeding. We knew she was really betterandthereforedecidedthat long confinement to a single placeproduced much of thisdespondencyand it might be partially removedby a change ofscene. The master told me to light a firein the many-weeks'deserted parlourand to set an easy-chair inthe sunshine by thewindow; and then he brought her downand shesat a long whileenjoying the genial heatandas we expectedrevived by theobjects round her: whichthoughfamiliarwere free from thedreary associations investing her hated sickchamber. By eveningshe seemed greatly exhausted; yet no argumentscould persuade herto return to that apartmentand I had toarrange the parlour sofafor her bedtill another room could beprepared. To obviate thefatigue of mounting and descending the stairswe fitted up thiswhere you lie at present - on the same floorwith the parlour; andshe was soon strong enough to move from one tothe otherleaningon Edgar's arm. AhI thought myselfshemight recoverso waitedon as she was. And there was double causeto desire itfor on herexistence depended that of another: wecherished the hope that ina little while Mr. Linton's heart would begladdenedand his landssecured from a stranger's gripeby the birthof an heir.
I should mention that Isabella sent to herbrothersome six weeksfrom her departurea short noteannouncingher marriage withHeathcliff. It appeared dry and cold; butat the bottom was dottedin with pencil an obscure apologyand anentreaty for kindremembrance and reconciliationif herproceeding had offended him:asserting that she could not help it thenandbeing doneshe hadnow no power to repeal it. Linton did notreply to thisIbelieve; andin a fortnight moreI got a longletterwhich Iconsidered oddcoming from the pen of a bridejust out of thehoneymoon. I'll read it: for I keepit yet. Any relic of thedead is preciousif they were valued living.
DEAR ELLENit begins- I came last night toWuthering Heightsand heardfor the first timethat Catherinehas beenand is yetvery ill. I must not write to herIsupposeand my brother iseither too angry or too distressed to answerwhat I sent him.StillI must write to somebodyand the onlychoice left me isyou.
Inform Edgar that I'd give the world to see hisface again - thatmy heart returned to Thrushcross Grange intwenty-four hours afterI left itand is there at this momentfull ofwarm feelings forhimand Catherine! I CAN'T FOLLOW ITTHOUGH - (these words areunderlined) - they need not expect meand theymay draw whatconclusions they please; taking carehoweverto lay nothing atthe door of my weak will or deficientaffection.
The remainder of the letter is for yourselfalone. I want to askyou two questions: the first is- Howdid you contrive topreserve the common sympathies of human naturewhen you residedhere? I cannot recognise any sentimentwhich those around sharewith me.
The second question I have great interest in;it is this - Is Mr.Heathcliff a man? If sois he mad? And if notis he a devil? Isha'n't tell my reasons for making thisinquiry; but I beseech youto explainif you canwhat I have married: that iswhen youcall to see me; and you must callEllenverysoon. Don't writebut comeand bring me something from Edgar.
Nowyou shall hear how I have been received inmy new homeas Iam led to imagine the Heights will be. Itis to amuse myself thatI dwell on such subjects as the lack ofexternal comforts: theynever occupy my thoughtsexcept at the momentwhen I miss them. Ishould laugh and dance for joyif I foundtheir absence was thetotal of my miseriesand the rest was anunnatural dream!
The sun set behind the Grange as we turned onto the moors; bythatI judged it to be six o'clock; and mycompanion halted halfan hourto inspect the parkand the gardensandprobablytheplace itselfas well as he could; so it wasdark when wedismounted in the paved yard of the farm-houseand your oldfellow-servantJosephissued out to receiveus by the light of adip candle. He did it with a courtesythat redounded to hiscredit. His first act was to elevate historch to a level with myfacesquint malignantlyproject hisunder-lipand turn away.Then he took the two horsesand led them intothe stables;reappearing for the purpose of locking theouter gateas if welived in an ancient castle.
Heathcliff stayed to speak to himand Ientered the kitchen - adingyuntidy hole; I daresay you would notknow itit is sochanged since it was in your charge. Bythe fire stood a ruffianlychildstrong in limb and dirty in garbwith alook of Catherinein his eyes and about his mouth.
'This is Edgar's legal nephew' I reflected -'mine in a manner; Imust shake handsand - yes - I must kiss him. It is right toestablish a good understanding at thebeginning.'
I approachedandattempting to take hischubby fistsaid - 'Howdo you domy dear?'
He replied in a jargon I did not comprehend.
'Shall you and I be friendsHareton?' was mynext essay atconversation.
An oathand a threat to set Throttler on me ifI did not 'frameoff' rewarded my perseverance.
'HeyThrottlerlad!' whispered the littlewretchrousing a half-bred bull-dog from its lair in a corner. 'Nowwilt thou beganging?' he asked authoritatively.
Love for my life urged a compliance; I steppedover the thresholdto wait till the others should enter. Mr.Heathcliff was nowherevisible; and Josephwhom I followed to thestablesand requestedto accompany me inafter staring and mutteringto himselfscrewedup his nose and replied - 'Mim! mim! mim! Did iver Christian bodyhear aught like it? Mincing un'munching! How can I tell whet yesay?'
'I sayI wish you to come with me into thehouse!' I criedthinking him deafyet highly disgusted at hisrudeness.
'None o' me! I getten summut else to do'he answeredandcontinued his work; moving his lantern jawsmeanwhileandsurveying my dress and countenance (the formera great deal toofinebut the latterI'm sureas sad as hecould desire) withsovereign contempt.
I walked round the yardand through a wicketto another dooratwhich I took the liberty of knockingin hopessome more civilservant might show himself. After a shortsuspenseit was openedby a tallgaunt manwithout neckerchiefandotherwise extremelyslovenly; his features were lost in masses ofshaggy hair that hungon his shoulders; and HIS eyestoowere likea ghostlyCatherine's with all their beauty annihilated.
'What's your business here?' he demandedgrimly. 'Who are you?'
'My name was Isabella Linton' I replied. 'You've seen me beforesir. I'm lately married to Mr.Heathcliffand he has brought mehere - I supposeby your permission.'
'Is he come backthen?' asked the hermitglaring like a hungrywolf.
'Yes - we came just now' I said; 'but he leftme by the kitchendoor; and when I would have gone inyourlittle boy playedsentinel over the placeand frightened me offby the help of abull-dog.'
'It's well the hellish villain has kept hisword!' growled myfuture hostsearching the darkness beyond mein expectation ofdiscovering Heathcliff; and then he indulged ina soliloquy ofexecrationsand threats of what he would havedone had the 'fiend'deceived him.
I repented having tried this second entranceand was almostinclined to slip away before he finishedcursingbut ere I couldexecute that intentionhe ordered me inandshut and re-fastenedthe door. There was a great fireandthat was all the light inthe huge apartmentwhose floor had grown auniform grey; and theonce brilliant pewter-disheswhich used toattract my gaze when Iwas a girlpartook of a similar obscuritycreated by tarnish anddust. I inquired whether I might call themaidand be conductedto a bedroom! Mr. Earnshaw vouchsafed noanswer. He walked up anddownwith his hands in his pocketsapparentlyquite forgetting mypresence; and his abstraction was evidently sodeepand his wholeaspect so misanthropicalthat I shrank fromdisturbing him again.
You'll not be surprisedEllenat my feelingparticularlycheerlessseated in worse than solitude onthat inhospitablehearthand remembering that four miles distantlay my delightfulhomecontaining the only people I loved onearth; and there mightas well be the Atlantic to part usinstead ofthose four miles: Icould not overpass them! I questionedwith myself - where must Iturn for comfort? and - mind you don't tellEdgaror Catherine -above every sorrow besidethis rosepre-eminent: despair atfinding nobody who could or would be my allyagainst Heathcliff! Ihad sought shelter at Wuthering Heightsalmostgladlybecause Iwas secured by that arrangement from livingalone with him; but heknew the people we were coming amongstand hedid not fear theirintermeddling.
I sat and thought a doleful time: theclock struck eightandnineand still my companion paced to and frohis head bent on hisbreastand perfectly silentunless a groan ora bitterejaculation forced itself out at intervals. I listened to detect awoman's voice in the houseand filled theinterim with wildregrets and dismal anticipationswhichatlastspoke audibly inirrepressible sighing and weeping. I wasnot aware how openly Igrievedtill Earnshaw halted oppositein hismeasured walkandgave me a stare of newly-awakened surprise. Taking advantage ofhis recovered attentionI exclaimed - 'I'mtired with my journeyand I want to go to bed! Where is themaid-servant? Direct me toheras she won't come to me!'
'We have none' he answered; 'you must wait onyourself!'
'Where must I sleepthen?' I sobbed; I wasbeyond regarding self-respectweighed down by fatigue andwretchedness.
'Joseph will show you Heathcliff's chamber'said he; 'open thatdoor - he's in there.'
I was going to obeybut he suddenly arrestedmeand added in thestrangest tone - 'Be so good as to turn yourlockand draw yourbolt - don't omit it!'
'Well!' I said. 'But whyMr. Earnshaw?' I did not relish thenotion of deliberately fastening myself in withHeathcliff.
'Look here!' he repliedpulling from hiswaistcoat a curiously-constructed pistolhaving a double-edgedspring knife attached tothe barrel. 'That's a great tempter to adesperate manis it not?I cannot resist going up with this every nightand trying hisdoor. If once I find it open he's donefor; I do it invariablyeven though the minute before I have beenrecalling a hundredreasons that should make me refrain: itis some devil that urgesme to thwart my own schemes by killing him. You fight against thatdevil for love as long as you may; when thetime comesnot all theangels in heaven shall save him!'
I surveyed the weapon inquisitively. Ahideous notion struck me:how powerful I should be possessing such aninstrument! I took itfrom his handand touched the blade. Helooked astonished at theexpression my face assumed during a briefsecond: it was nothorrorit was covetousness. He snatchedthe pistol backjealously; shut the knifeand returned it toits concealment.
'I don't care if you tell him' said he. 'Put him on his guardand watch for him. You know the terms weare onI see: hisdanger does not shock you.'
'What has Heathcliff done to you?' I asked. 'In what has hewronged youto warrant this appalling hatred? Wouldn't it bewiser to bid him quit the house?'
'No!' thundered Earnshaw; 'should he offer toleave mehe's a deadman: persuade him to attempt itand youare a murderess! Am I tolose ALLwithout a chance of retrieval? Is Hareton to be abeggar? Ohdamnation! I WILL haveit back; and I'll have HISgold too; and then his blood; and hell shallhave his soul! Itwill be ten times blacker with that guest thanever it was before!'
You've acquainted meEllenwith your oldmaster's habits. He isclearly on the verge of madness: he wasso last night at least. Ishuddered to be near himand thought on theservant's ill-bredmoroseness as comparatively agreeable. Henow recommenced hismoody walkand I raised the latchand escapedinto the kitchen.Joseph was bending over the firepeering intoa large pan thatswung above it; and a wooden bowl of oatmealstood on the settleclose by. The contents of the pan beganto boiland he turned toplunge his hand into the bowl; I conjecturedthat this preparationwas probably for our supperandbeing hungryI resolved itshould be eatable; socrying out sharply'I'LL make theporridge!' I removed the vessel out ofhis reachand proceeded totake off my hat and riding-habit. 'Mr.Earnshaw' I continued'directs me to wait on myself: I will. I'm not going to act thelady among youfor fear I should starve.'
'Gooid Lord!' he mutteredsitting downandstroking his ribbedstockings from the knee to the ankle. 'Ifthere's to be freshortherings - just when I getten used to twomaistersif I mun hev'a MISTRESS set o'er my heeadit's like time tobe flitting. Iniver DID think to see t' day that I mud laveth' owld place - butI doubt it's nigh at hand!'
This lamentation drew no notice from me: I went briskly to worksighing to remember a period when it would havebeen all merry fun;but compelled speedily to drive off theremembrance. It racked meto recall past happiness and the greater perilthere was ofconjuring up its apparitionthe quicker thethible ran roundandthe faster the handfuls of meal fell into thewater. Joseph beheldmy style of cookery with growing indignation.
'Thear!' he ejaculated. 'Haretonthouwilln't sup thy porridgeto-neeght; they'll be naught but lumps as bigas my neive. Thearagean! I'd fling in bowl un' allif Iwer ye! Therepale t'guilp offun' then ye'll hae done wi' 't. Bangbang. It's amercy t' bothom isn't deaved out!'
It WAS rather a rough messI ownwhen pouredinto the basins;four had been providedand a gallon pitcher ofnew milk wasbrought from the dairywhich Hareton seizedand commenced drinkingand spilling from the expansive lip. Iexpostulatedand desiredthat he should have his in a mug; affirmingthat I could not tastethe liquid treated so dirtily. The oldcynic chose to be vastlyoffended at this nicety; assuring merepeatedlythat 'the barnwas every bit as good' as I'and every bit aswollsome' andwondering how I could fashion to be soconceited. Meanwhiletheinfant ruffian continued sucking; and gloweredup at me defyinglyas he slavered into the jug.
'I shall have my supper in another room' Isaid. 'Have you noplace you call a parlour?'
'PARLOUR!' he echoedsneeringly'PARLOUR! Naywe've noaPARLOURS. If yah dunnut loike wercompanythere's maister's; un'if yah dunnut loike maisterthere's us.'
'Then I shall go up-stairs' I answered; 'showme a chamber.'
I put my basin on a trayand went myself tofetch some more milk.With great grumblingsthe fellow roseandpreceded me in myascent: we mounted to the garrets; heopened a doornow and thento look into the apartments we passed.
'Here's a rahm' he saidat lastflingingback a cranky board onhinges. 'It's weel eneugh to ate a fewporridge in. There's apack o' corn i' t' cornerthearmeeterlyclane; if ye're fearedo' muckying yer grand silk cloesspread yerhankerchir o' t' topon't.'
The 'rahm' was a kind of lumber-hole smellingstrong of malt andgrain; various sacks of which articles werepiled aroundleaving awidebare space in the middle.
'Whyman' I exclaimedfacing him angrily'this is not a placeto sleep in. I wish to see my bed-room.'
'BED-RUME!' he repeatedin a tone of mockery. 'Yah's see all t'BED-RUMES thear is - yon's mine.'
He pointed into the second garretonlydiffering from the first inbeing more naked about the wallsand having alargelowcurtainless bedwith an indigo-coloured quiltat one end.
'What do I want with yours?' I retorted. 'Isuppose Mr. Heathcliffdoes not lodge at the top of the housedoeshe?'
'Oh! it's Maister HATHECLIFF'S ye're wanting?'cried heas ifmaking a new discovery. 'Couldn't ye ha'said soaat onst? un'thenI mud ha' telled yebaht all this warkthat that's just oneye cannut see - he allas keeps it lockedun'nob'dy iver mellson't but hisseln.'
'You've a nice houseJoseph' I could notrefrain from observing'and pleasant inmates; and I think theconcentrated essence of allthe madness in the world took up its abode inmy brain the day Ilinked my fate with theirs! Howeverthatis not to the presentpurpose - there are other rooms. Forheaven's sake be quickandlet me settle somewhere!'
He made no reply to this adjuration; onlyplodding doggedly downthe wooden stepsand haltingbefore anapartment whichfrom thathalt and the superior quality of its furnitureI conjectured to bethe best one. There was a carpet - a goodonebut the pattern wasobliterated by dust; a fireplace hung withcut-paperdropping topieces; a handsome oak-bedstead with amplecrimson curtains ofrather expensive material and modern make; butthey had evidentlyexperienced rough usage: the vallanceshung in festoonswrenchedfrom their ringsand the iron rod supportingthem was bent in anarc on one sidecausing the drapery to trailupon the floor. Thechairs were also damagedmany of themseverely; and deepindentations deformed the panels of the walls. I was endeavouringto gather resolution for entering and takingpossessionwhen myfool of a guide announced- 'This here is t'maister's.' Mysupper by this time was coldmy appetite goneand my patienceexhausted. I insisted on being providedinstantly with a place ofrefugeand means of repose.
'Whear the divil?' began the religious elder. 'The Lord bless us!The Lord forgie us! Whear the HELL wdd yegang? ye marredwearisome nowt! Ye've seen all butHareton's bit of a cham'er.There's not another hoile to lig down in i' th'hahse!'
I was so vexedI flung my tray and itscontents on the ground; andthen seated myself at the stairs'-headhid myface in my handsand cried.
'Ech! ech!' exclaimed Joseph. 'Weel doneMiss Cathy! weel doneMiss Cathy! Howsivert' maister salljust tum'le o'er thembrooken pots; un' then we's hear summut; we'shear how it's to be.Gooid-for-naught madling! ye desarve piningfro' this to Churstmasflinging t' precious gifts o'God under fooit i'yer flaysome rages!But I'm mista'en if ye shew yer sperrit lang. Will Hathecliff bidesich bonny waysthink ye? I nobbut wishhe may catch ye i' thatplisky. I nobbut wish he may.'
And so he went on scolding to his den beneathtaking the candlewith him; and I remained in the dark. Theperiod of reflectionsucceeding this silly action compelled me toadmit the necessity ofsmothering my pride and choking my wrathandbestirring myself toremove its effects. An unexpected aidpresently appeared in theshape of Throttlerwhom I now recognised as ason of our oldSkulker: it had spent its whelphood atthe Grangeand was givenby my father to Mr. Hindley. I fancy itknew me: it pushed itsnose against mine by way of saluteand thenhastened to devour theporridge; while I groped from step to stepcollecting theshattered earthenwareand drying the spattersof milk from thebanister with my pocket-handkerchief. Ourlabours were scarcelyover when I heard Earnshaw's tread in thepassage; my assistanttucked in his tailand pressed to the wall; Istole into thenearest doorway. The dog's endeavour toavoid him wasunsuccessful; as I guessed by a scutterdown-stairsand aprolongedpiteous yelping. I had betterluck: he passed onentered his chamberand shut the door. Directly after Joseph cameup with Haretonto put him to bed. I hadfound shelter inHareton's roomand the old manon seeing mesaid- 'They's rahmfor boath ye un' yer pridenowI sud think i'the hahse. It'sempty; ye may hev' it all to yerselnun' Himas allus maks athirdi' sich ill company!'
Gladly did I take advantage of this intimation;and the minute Iflung myself into a chairby the fireInoddedand slept. Myslumber was deep and sweetthough over far toosoon. Mr.Heathcliff awoke me; he had just come inanddemandedin hisloving mannerwhat I was doing there? Itold him the cause of mystaying up so late - that he had the key of ourroom in his pocket.The adjective OUR gave mortal offence. Heswore it was notnorever should bemine; and he'd - but I'll notrepeat his languagenor describe his habitual conduct: he isingenious and unrestingin seeking to gain my abhorrence! Isometimes wonder at him withan intensity that deadens my fear: yetIassure youa tiger or avenomous serpent could not rouse terror in meequal to that whichhe wakens. He told me of Catherine'sillnessand accused mybrother of causing it promising that I shouldbe Edgar's proxy insufferingtill he could get hold of him.
I do hate him - I am wretched - I have been afool! Beware ofuttering one breath of this to any one at theGrange. I shallexpect you every day - don't disappoint me! -ISABELLA.
AS soon as I had perused this epistle I went tothe masterandinformed him that his sister had arrived at theHeightsand sentme a letter expressing her sorrow for Mrs.Linton's situationandher ardent desire to see him; with a wish thathe would transmit toheras early as possiblesome token offorgiveness by me.
'Forgiveness!' said Linton. 'I havenothing to forgive herEllen.You may call at Wuthering Heights thisafternoonif you likeandsay that I am not angrybut I'm sorry to havelost her; especiallyas I can never think she'll be happy. Itis out of the question mygoing to see herhowever: we areeternally divided; and shouldshe really wish to oblige melet her persuadethe villain she hasmarried to leave the country.'
'And you won't write her a little notesir?' Iaskedimploringly.
'No' he answered. 'It is needless. My communication withHeathcliff's family shall be as sparing as hiswith mine. It shallnot exist!'
Mr. Edgar's coldness depressed me exceedingly;and all the way fromthe Grange I puzzled my brains how to put moreheart into what hesaidwhen I repeated it; and how to soften hisrefusal of even afew lines to console Isabella. I daresayshe had been on the watchfor me since morning: I saw her lookingthrough the lattice as Icame up the garden causewayand I nodded toher; but she drewbackas if afraid of being observed. Ientered without knocking.There never was such a drearydismal scene asthe formerlycheerful house presented! I must confessthat if I had been inthe young lady's placeI wouldat leasthaveswept the hearthand wiped the tables with a duster. Butshe already partook of thepervading spirit of neglect which encompassedher. Her pretty facewas wan and listless; her hair uncurled: some locks hanging lanklydownand some carelessly twisted round herhead. Probably she hadnot touched her dress since yester evening. Hindley was not there.Mr. Heathcliff sat at a tableturning oversome papers in hispocket-book; but he rose when I appearedaskedme how I didquitefriendlyand offered me a chair. He wasthe only thing there thatseemed decent; and I thought he never lookedbetter. So much hadcircumstances altered their positionsthat hewould certainly havestruck a stranger as a born and bred gentleman;and his wife as athorough little slattern! She cameforward eagerly to greet meand held out one hand to take the expectedletter. I shook myhead. She wouldn't understand the hintbut followed me to asideboardwhere I went to lay my bonnetandimportuned me in awhisper to give her directly what I hadbrought. Heathcliffguessed the meaning of her manoeuvresand said- 'If you have gotanything for Isabella (as no doubt you haveNelly)give it toher. You needn't make a secret of it: we have no secrets betweenus.'
'OhI have nothing' I repliedthinking itbest to speak thetruth at once. 'My master bid me tell hissister that she must notexpect either a letter or a visit from him atpresent. He sendshis lovema'amand his wishes for yourhappinessand his pardonfor the grief you have occasioned; but hethinks that after thistime his household and the household hereshould dropintercommunicationas nothing could come ofkeeping it up.'
Mrs. Heathcliff's lip quivered slightlyandshe returned to herseat in the window. Her husband took hisstand on the hearthstonenear meand began to put questions concerningCatherine. I toldhim as much as I thought proper of her illnessand he extortedfrom meby cross-examinationmost of thefacts connected with itsorigin. I blamed heras she deservedfor bringing it all onherself; and ended by hoping that he wouldfollow Mr. Linton'sexample and avoid future interference with hisfamilyfor good orevil.
'Mrs. Linton is now just recovering' I said;'she'll never be likeshe wasbut her life is spared; and if youreally have a regardfor heryou'll shun crossing her way again: nayyou'll move outof this country entirely; and that you may notregret itI'llinform you Catherine Linton is as different nowfrom your oldfriend Catherine Earnshawas that young ladyis different from me.Her appearance is changed greatlyhercharacter much more so; andthe person who is compelledof necessitytobe her companionwill only sustain his affection hereafter bythe remembrance ofwhat she once wasby common humanityand asense of duty!'
'That is quite possible' remarked Heathcliffforcing himself toseem calm: 'quite possible that yourmaster should have nothingbut common humanity and a sense of duty to fallback upon. But doyou imagine that I shall leave Catherine to hisDUTY and HUMANITY?and can you compare my feelings respectingCatherine to his?Before you leave this houseI must exact apromise from you thatyou'll get me an interview with her: consentor refuseI WILLsee her! What do you say?'
'I sayMr. Heathcliff' I replied'you mustnot: you nevershallthrough my means. Anotherencounter between you and themaster would kill her altogether.'
'With your aid that may be avoided' hecontinued; 'and shouldthere be danger of such an event - should he bethe cause of addinga single trouble more to her existence - whyIthink I shall bejustified in going to extremes! I wishyou had sincerity enough totell me whether Catherine would suffer greatlyfrom his loss: thefear that she would restrains me. Andthere you see thedistinction between our feelings: had hebeen in my placeand Iin histhough I hated him with a hatred thatturned my life togallI never would have raised a hand againsthim. You may lookincredulousif you please! I never wouldhave banished him fromher society as long as she desired his. The moment her regardceasedI would have torn his heart outanddrunk his blood! Buttill then - if you don't believe meyou don'tknow me - till thenI would have died by inches before I touched asingle hair of hishead!'
'And yet' I interrupted'you have no scruplesin completelyruining all hopes of her perfect restorationby thrusting yourselfinto her remembrance nowwhen she has nearlyforgotten youandinvolving her in a new tumult of discord anddistress.'
'You suppose she has nearly forgotten me?' hesaid. 'OhNelly!you know she has not! You know as well asI dothat for everythought she spends on Linton she spends athousand on me! At amost miserable period of my lifeI had anotion of the kind: ithaunted me on my return to the neighbourhoodlast summer; but onlyher own assurance could make me admit thehorrible idea again. AndthenLinton would be nothingnor Hindleynorall the dreams thatever I dreamt. Two words would comprehendmy future - DEATH andHELL: existenceafter losing herwouldbe hell. Yet I was afool to fancy for a moment that she valuedEdgar Linton'sattachment more than mine. If he lovedwith all the powers of hispuny beinghe couldn't love as much in eightyyears as I could ina day. And Catherine has a heart as deepas I have: the sea couldbe as readily contained in that horse-trough asher whole affectionbe monopolised by him. Tush! He isscarcely a degree dearer toher than her dogor her horse. It is notin him to be loved likeme: how can she love in him what he hasnot?'
'Catherine and Edgar are as fond of each otheras any two peoplecan be' cried Isabellawith sudden vivacity. 'No one has a rightto talk in that mannerand I won't hear mybrother depreciated insilence!'
'Your brother is wondrous fond of you tooisn't he?' observedHeathcliffscornfully. 'He turns youadrift on the world withsurprising alacrity.'
'He is not aware of what I suffer' shereplied. 'I didn't tellhim that.'
'You have been telling him somethingthen: you have writtenhaveyou?'
'To say that I was marriedI did write - yousaw the note.'
'And nothing since?'
'My young lady is looking sadly the worse forher change ofcondition' I remarked. 'Somebody's lovecomes short in her caseobviously; whoseI may guess; butperhapsIshouldn't say.'
'I should guess it was her own' saidHeathcliff. 'She degeneratesinto a mere slut! She is tired of tryingto please me uncommonlyearly. You'd hardly credit itbut thevery morrow of our weddingshe was weeping to go home. Howevershe'll suit this house somuch the better for not being over niceandI'll take care shedoes not disgrace me by rambling abroad.'
'Wellsir' returned I'I hope you'llconsider that Mrs.Heathcliff is accustomed to be looked after andwaited on; and thatshe has been brought up like an only daughterwhom every one wasready to serve. You must let her have amaid to keep things tidyabout herand you must treat her kindly. Whatever be your notionof Mr. Edgaryou cannot doubt that she has acapacity for strongattachmentsor she wouldn't have abandoned theeleganciesandcomfortsand friends of her former hometofix contentedlyinsuch a wilderness as thiswith you.'
'She abandoned them under a delusion' heanswered; 'picturing inme a hero of romanceand expecting unlimitedindulgences from mychivalrous devotion. I can hardly regardher in the light of arational creatureso obstinately has shepersisted in forming afabulous notion of my character and acting onthe false impressionsshe cherished. Butat lastI think shebegins to know me: Idon't perceive the silly smiles and grimacesthat provoked me atfirst; and the senseless incapability ofdiscerning that I was inearnest when I gave her my opinion of herinfatuation and herself.It was a marvellous effort of perspicacity todiscover that I didnot love her. I believedat one timenolessons could teach herthat! And yet it is poorly learnt; forthis morning she announcedas a piece of appalling intelligencethat Ihad actually succeededin making her hate me! A positive labourof HerculesI assureyou! If it be achievedI have cause toreturn thanks. Can Itrust your assertionIsabella? Are yousure you hate me? If Ilet you alone for half a daywon't you comesighing and wheedlingto me again? I daresay she would rather Ihad seemed alltenderness before you: it wounds hervanity to have the truthexposed. But I don't care who knows thatthe passion was wholly onone side: and I never told her a lieabout it. She cannot accuseme of showing one bit of deceitful softness. The first thing shesaw me doon coming out of the Grangewas tohang up her littledog; and when she pleaded for itthe firstwords I uttered were awish that I had the hanging of every beingbelonging to herexceptone: possibly she took that exception forherself. But nobrutality disgusted her: I suppose shehas an innate admiration ofitif only her precious person were securefrom injury! Nowwasit not the depth of absurdity - of genuineidiotcyfor thatpitifulslavishmean-minded brach to dreamthat I could love her?Tell your masterNellythat I neverin allmy lifemet withsuch an abject thing as she is. She evendisgraces the name ofLinton; and I've sometimes relentedfrom purelack of inventionin my experiments on what she could endureandstill creepshamefully cringing back! But tell himalsoto set his fraternaland magisterial heart at ease: that Ikeep strictly within thelimits of the law. I have avoidedup tothis periodgiving herthe slightest right to claim a separation; andwhat's moreshe'dthank nobody for dividing us. If shedesired to goshe might:the nuisance of her presence outweighs thegratification to bederived from tormenting her!'
'Mr. Heathcliff' said I'this is the talk ofa madman; your wifemost likelyis convinced you are mad; andforthat reasonshehas borne with you hitherto: but now thatyou say she may goshe'll doubtless avail herself of thepermission. You are not sobewitchedma'amare youas to remain withhim of your ownaccord?'
'Take careEllen!' answered Isabellaher eyessparkling irefully;there was no misdoubting by their expressionthe full success ofher partner's endeavours to make himselfdetested. 'Don't putfaith in a single word he speaks. He's alying fiend! a monsterand not a human being! I've been told Imight leave him before;and I've made the attemptbut I dare notrepeat it! OnlyEllenpromise you'll not mention a syllable of hisinfamous conversationto my brother or Catherine. Whatever hemay pretendhe wishes toprovoke Edgar to desperation: he says hehas married me on purposeto obtain power over him; and he sha'n't obtainit - I'll diefirst! I just hopeI praythat he mayforget his diabolicalprudence and kill me! The single pleasureI can imagine is to dieor to see him dead!'
'There - that will do for the present!' saidHeathcliff. 'If youare called upon in a court of lawyou'llremember her languageNelly! And take a good look at thatcountenance: she's near thepoint which would suit me. No; you're notfit to be your ownguardianIsabellanow; and Ibeing yourlegal protectormustretain you in my custodyhowever distastefulthe obligation maybe. Go up-stairs; I have something to sayto Ellen Dean inprivate. That's not the way: up-stairsI tell you! Whythis isthe road upstairschild!'
He seizedand thrust her from the room; andreturned muttering -'I have no pity! I have no pity! The more the worms writhethemore I yearn to crush out their entrails! It is a moral teething;and I grind with greater energy in proportionto the increase ofpain.'
'Do you understand what the word pity means?' Isaidhastening toresume my bonnet. 'Did you ever feel atouch of it in your life?'
'Put that down!' he interruptedperceiving myintention to depart.'You are not going yet. Come here nowNelly: I must eitherpersuade or compel you to aid me in fulfillingmy determination tosee Catherineand that without delay. Iswear that I meditate noharm: I don't desire to cause anydisturbanceor to exasperate orinsult Mr. Linton; I only wish to hear fromherself how she isandwhy she has been ill; and to ask if anythingthat I could do wouldbe of use to her. Last night I was in theGrange garden six hoursand I'll return there to-night; and every nightI'll haunt theplaceand every daytill I find anopportunity of entering. IfEdgar Linton meets meI shall not hesitate toknock him downandgive him enough to insure his quiescence whileI stay. If hisservants oppose meI shall threaten them offwith these pistols.But wouldn't it be better to prevent my comingin contact withthemor their master? And you could doit so easily. I'd warnyou when I cameand then you might let me inunobservedas soonas she was aloneand watch till I departedyour conscience quitecalm: you would be hindering mischief.'
I protested against playing that treacherouspart in my employer'shouse: andbesidesI urged the crueltyand selfishness of hisdestroying Mrs. Linton's tranquillity for hissatisfaction. 'Thecommonest occurrence startles her painfully' Isaid. 'She's allnervesand she couldn't bear the surpriseI'mpositive. Don'tpersistsir! or else I shall be obliged toinform my master ofyour designs; and he'll take measures to securehis house and itsinmates from any such unwarrantableintrusions!'
'In that case I'll take measures to secure youwoman!' exclaimedHeathcliff; 'you shall not leave WutheringHeights till to-morrowmorning. It is a foolish story to assertthat Catherine could notbear to see me; and as to surprising herIdon't desire it: youmust prepare her - ask her if I may come. You say she nevermentions my nameand that I am never mentionedto her. To whomshould she mention me if I am a forbidden topicin the house? Shethinks you are all spies for her husband. OhI've no doubt she'sin hell among you! I guess by hersilenceas much as anythingwhat she feels. You say she is oftenrestlessand anxious-looking: is that a proof oftranquillity? You talk of her mindbeing unsettled. How the devil could itbe otherwise in herfrightful isolation? And that insipidpaltry creature attendingher from DUTY and HUMANITY! From PITY andCHARITY! He might aswell plant an oak in a flower-potand expectit to thriveasimagine he can restore her to vigour in thesoil of his shallowcares? Let us settle it at once: will you stay hereand am I tofight my way to Catherine over Linton and hisfootman? Or will yoube my friendas you have been hithertoand dowhat I request?Decide! because there is no reason for mylingering another minuteif you persist in your stubborn ill-nature!'
WellMr. LockwoodI argued and complainedand flatly refused himfifty times; but in the long run he forced meto an agreement. Iengaged to carry a letter from him to mymistress; and should sheconsentI promised to let him haveintelligence of Linton's nextabsence from homewhen he might comeand getin as he was able:I wouldn't be thereand my fellow-servantsshould be equally outof the way. Was it right or wrong? I fear it was wrongthoughexpedient. I thought I prevented anotherexplosion by mycompliance; and I thoughttooit might createa favourable crisisin Catherine's mental illness: and then Iremembered Mr. Edgar'sstern rebuke of my carrying tales; and I triedto smooth away alldisquietude on the subjectby affirmingwithfrequent iterationthat that betrayal of trustif it merited soharsh an appellationshould be the last. Notwithstandingmyjourney homeward wassadder than my journey thither; and manymisgivings I hadere Icould prevail on myself to put the missive intoMrs. Linton's hand.
But here is Kenneth; I'll go downand tell himhow much better youare. My history is DREEas we sayandwill serve to while awayanother morning.
Dreeand dreary! I reflected as the goodwoman descended toreceive the doctor: and not exactly ofthe kind which I shouldhave chosen to amuse me. But never mind! I'll extract wholesomemedicines from Mrs. Dean's bitter herbs; andfirstlylet me bewareof the fascination that lurks in CatherineHeathcliff's brillianteyes. I should be in a curious taking ifI surrendered my heart tothat young personand the daughter turned outa second edition ofthe mother.
ANOTHER week over - and I am so many daysnearer healthandspring! I have now heard all myneighbour's historyat differentsittingsas the housekeeper could spare timefrom more importantoccupations. I'll continue it in her ownwordsonly a littlecondensed. She ison the wholea veryfair narratorand I don'tthink I could improve her style.
In the eveningshe saidthe evening of myvisit to the HeightsIknewas well as if I saw himthat Mr.Heathcliff was about theplace; and I shunned going outbecause I stillcarried his letterin my pocketand didn't want to be threatenedor teased any more.I had made up my mind not to give it till mymaster went somewhereas I could not guess how its receipt wouldaffect Catherine. Theconsequence wasthat it did not reach herbefore the lapse ofthree days. The fourth was Sundayand Ibrought it into her roomafter the family were gone to church. There was a manservant leftto keep the house with meand we generallymade a practice oflocking the doors during the hours of service;but on that occasionthe weather was so warm and pleasant that I setthem wide openandto fulfil my engagementas I knew whowould be comingI toldmy companion that the mistress wished very muchfor some orangesand he must run over to the village and get afewto be paid foron the morrow. He departedand I wentup-stairs.
Mrs. Linton sat in a loose white dresswith alight shawl over hershouldersin the recess of the open windowasusual. Her thicklong hair had been partly removed at thebeginning of her illnessand now she wore it simply combed in itsnatural tresses over hertemples and neck. Her appearance wasalteredas I had toldHeathcliff; but when she was calmthere seemedunearthly beauty inthe change. The flash of her eyes hadbeen succeeded by a dreamyand melancholy softness; they no longer gavethe impression oflooking at the objects around her: theyappeared always to gazebeyondand far beyond - you would have saidout of this world.Thenthe paleness of her face - its haggardaspect having vanishedas she recovered flesh - and the peculiarexpression arising fromher mental statethough painfully suggestiveof their causesadded to the touching interest which sheawakened; and - invariablyto meI knowand to any person who saw herIshould think -refuted more tangible proofs of convalescenceand stamped her asone doomed to decay.
A book lay spread on the sill before herandthe scarcelyperceptible wind fluttered its leaves atintervals. I believeLinton had laid it there: for she neverendeavoured to divertherself with readingor occupation of anykindand he would spendmany an hour in trying to entice her attentionto some subjectwhich had formerly been her amusement. She was conscious of hisaimand in her better moods endured hisefforts placidlyonlyshowing their uselessness by now and thensuppressing a weariedsighand checking him at last with the saddestof smiles andkisses. At other timesshe would turnpetulantly awayand hideher face in her handsor even push him offangrily; and then hetook care to let her alonefor he was certainof doing no good.
Gimmerton chapel bells were still ringing; andthe fullmellowflow of the beck in the valley came soothinglyon the ear. It wasa sweet substitute for the yet absent murmur ofthe summer foliagewhich drowned that music about the Grange whenthe trees were inleaf. At Wuthering Heights it alwayssounded on quiet daysfollowing a great thaw or a season of steadyrain. And ofWuthering Heights Catherine was thinking as shelistened: that isif she thought or listened at all; but she hadthe vaguedistantlook I mentioned beforewhich expressed norecognition of materialthings either by ear or eye.
'There's a letter for youMrs. Linton' Isaidgently insertingit in one hand that rested on her knee. 'You must read itimmediatelybecause it wants an answer. Shall I break the seal?''Yes' she answeredwithout altering thedirection of her eyes. Iopened it - it was very short. 'Now' Icontinued'read it.' Shedrew away her handand let it fall. Ireplaced it in her lapandstood waiting till it should please her toglance down; but thatmovement was so long delayed that at last Iresumed - 'Must I readitma'am? It is from Mr. Heathcliff.'
There was a start and a troubled gleam ofrecollectionand astruggle to arrange her ideas. She liftedthe letterand seemedto peruse it; and when she came to thesignature she sighed: yetstill I found she had not gathered its importforupon mydesiring to hear her replyshe merely pointedto the nameandgazed at me with mournful and questioningeagerness.
'Wellhe wishes to see you' said Iguessingher need of aninterpreter. 'He's in the garden by thistimeand impatient toknow what answer I shall bring.'
As I spokeI observed a large dog lying on thesunny grass beneathraise its ears as if about to barkand thensmoothing them backannounceby a wag of the tailthat some oneapproached whom itdid not consider a stranger. Mrs. Lintonbent forwardandlistened breathlessly. The minute after astep traversed the hall;the open house was too tempting for Heathcliffto resist walkingin: most likely he supposed that I wasinclined to shirk mypromiseand so resolved to trust to his ownaudacity. Withstraining eagerness Catherine gazed towards theentrance of herchamber. He did not hit the right roomdirectly: she motioned meto admit himbut he found it out ere I couldreach the doorandin a stride or two was at her sideand had hergrasped in hisarms.
He neither spoke nor loosed his hold for somefive minutesduringwhich period he bestowed more kisses than everhe gave in his lifebeforeI daresay: but then my mistresshad kissed him firstandI plainly saw that he could hardly bearfordownright agonytolook into her face! The same convictionhad stricken him as mefrom the instant he beheld herthat there wasno prospect ofultimate recovery there - she was fatedsureto die.
'OhCathy! Ohmy life! how can I bearit?' was the firstsentence he utteredin a tone that did notseek to disguise hisdespair. And now he stared at her soearnestly that I thought thevery intensity of his gaze would bring tearsinto his eyes; butthey burned with anguish: they did notmelt.
'What now?' said Catherineleaning backandreturning his lookwith a suddenly clouded brow: her humourwas a mere vane forconstantly varying caprices. 'You andEdgar have broken my heartHeathcliff! And you both come to bewailthe deed to meas if youwere the people to be pitied! I shall notpity younot I. Youhave killed me - and thriven on itI think. How strong you are!How many years do you mean to live after I amgone?'
Heathcliff had knelt on one knee to embraceher; he attempted torisebut she seized his hairand kept himdown.
'I wish I could hold you' she continuedbitterly'till we wereboth dead! I shouldn't care what yousuffered. I care nothing foryour sufferings. Why shouldn't yousuffer? I do! Will you forgetme? Will you be happy when I am in theearth? Will you say twentyyears hence"That's the grave ofCatherine Earnshaw? I loved herlong agoand was wretched to lose her; but itis past. I've lovedmany others since: my children are dearerto me than she was; andat deathI shall not rejoice that I are goingto her: I shall besorry that I must leave them!" Willyou say soHeathcliff?'
'Don't torture me till I'm as mad as yourself'cried hewrenchinghis head freeand grinding his teeth.
The twoto a cool spectatormade a strangeand fearful picture.Well might Catherine deem that heaven would bea land of exile toherunless with her mortal body she cast awayher moral characteralso. Her present countenance had a wildvindictiveness in itswhite cheekand a bloodless lip andscintillating eye; and sheretained in her closed fingers a portion of thelocks she had beengrasping. As to her companionwhileraising himself with onehandhe had taken her arm with the other; andso inadequate washis stock of gentleness to the requirements ofher conditionthaton his letting go I saw four distinctimpressions left blue in thecolourless skin.
'Are you possessed with a devil' he pursuedsavagely'to talk inthat manner to me when you are dying? Doyou reflect that allthose words will be branded in my memoryandeating deepereternally after you have left me? Youknow you lie to say I havekilled you: andCatherineyou know thatI could as soon forgetyou as my existence! Is it not sufficientfor your infernalselfishnessthat while you are at peace Ishall writhe in thetorments of hell?'
'I shall not be at peace' moaned Catherinerecalled to a sense ofphysical weakness by the violentunequalthrobbing of her heartwhich beat visibly and audibly under thisexcess of agitation. Shesaid nothing further till the paroxysm wasover; then shecontinuedmore kindly -
'I'm not wishing you greater torment than IhaveHeathcliff. Ionly wish us never to be parted: andshould a word of minedistress you hereafterthink I feel the samedistress undergroundand for my own sakeforgive me! Comehere and kneel down again!You never harmed me in your life. Nayifyou nurse angerthatwill be worse to remember than my harsh words! Won't you come hereagain? Do!'
Heathcliff went to the back of her chairandleant overbut notso far as to let her see his facewhich waslivid with emotion.She bent round to look at him; he would notpermit it: turningabruptlyhe walked to the fireplacewhere hestoodsilentwithhis back towards us. Mrs. Linton's glancefollowed himsuspiciously: every movement woke a newsentiment in her. After apause and a prolonged gazeshe resumed;addressing me in accentsof indignant disappointment:-
'Ohyou seeNellyhe would not relent amoment to keep me out ofthe grave. THAT is how I'm loved! Wellnever mind. That is notMY Heathcliff. I shall love mine yet; andtake him with me: he'sin my soul. And' added she musingly'the thing that irks me mostis this shattered prisonafter all. I'mtired of being enclosedhere. I'm wearying to escape into thatglorious worldand to bealways there: not seeing it dimly throughtearsand yearning forit through the walls of an aching heart: but really with itandin it. Nellyyou think you are betterand more fortunate than I;in full health and strength: you aresorry for me - very soon thatwill be altered. I shall be sorry forYOU. I shall beincomparably beyond and above you all. IWONDER he won't be nearme!' She went on to herself. 'Ithought he wished it.Heathcliffdear! you should not be sullennow. Do come to meHeathcliff.'
In her eagerness she rose and supported herselfon the arm of thechair. At that earnest appeal he turnedto herlooking absolutelydesperate. His eyeswide and wetatlast flashed fiercely onher; his breast heaved convulsively. Aninstant they held asunderand then how they met I hardly sawbutCatherine made a springand he caught herand they were locked in anembrace from which Ithought my mistress would never be releasedalive: in factto myeyesshe seemed directly insensible. Heflung himself into thenearest seatand on my approaching hurriedlyto ascertain if shehad faintedhe gnashed at meand foamed likea mad dogandgathered her to him with greedy jealousy. I did not feel as if Iwere in the company of a creature of my ownspecies: it appearedthat he would not understandthough I spoke tohim; so I stoodoffand held my tonguein great perplexity.
A movement of Catherine's relieved me a littlepresently: she putup her hand to clasp his neckand bring hercheek to his as heheld her; while hein returncovering herwith frantic caressessaid wildly -
'You teach me now how cruel you've been - crueland false. WHY didyou despise me? WHY did you betray yourown heartCathy? I havenot one word of comfort. You deservethis. You have killedyourself. Yesyou may kiss meand cry;and wring out my kissesand tears: they'll blight you - they'lldamn you. You loved me -then what RIGHT had you to leave me? Whatright - answer me - forthe poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery anddegradationand deathand nothing that God orSatan could inflictwould have parted usYOUof your own willdid it. I have notbroken your heart - YOU have broken it; and inbreaking ityouhave broken mine. So much the worse forme that I am strong. Do Iwant to live? What kind of living will itbe when you - ohGod!would YOU like to live with your soul in thegrave?'
'Let me alone. Let me alone' sobbedCatherine. 'If I've donewrongI'm dying for it. It is enough! You left me too: but Iwon't upbraid you! I forgive you. Forgive me!'
'It is hard to forgiveand to look at thoseeyesand feel thosewasted hands' he answered. 'Kiss meagain; and don't let me seeyour eyes! I forgive what you have doneto me. I love MY murderer- but YOURS! How can I?'
They were silent-their faces hid against eachotherand washed byeach other's tears. At leastI supposethe weeping was on bothsides; as it seemed Heathcliff could weep on agreat occasion likethis.
I grew very uncomfortablemeanwhile; for theafternoon wore fastawaythe man whom I had sent off returned fromhis errandand Icould distinguishby the shine of the westernsun up the valleyaconcourse thickening outside Gimmerton chapelporch.
'Service is over' I announced. 'Mymaster will be here in half anhour.'
Heathcliff groaned a curseand strainedCatherine closer: shenever moved.
Ere long I perceived a group of the servantspassing up the roadtowards the kitchen wing. Mr. Linton wasnot far behind; he openedthe gate himself and sauntered slowly upprobably enjoying thelovely afternoon that breathed as soft assummer.
'Now he is here' I exclaimed. 'Forheaven's sakehurry down!You'll not meet any one on the front stairs. Do be quick; and stayamong the trees till he is fairly in.'
'I must goCathy' said Heathcliffseeking toextricate himselffrom his companion's arms. 'But if IliveI'll see you againbefore you are asleep. I won't stray fiveyards from your window.'
'You must not go!' she answeredholding him asfirmly as herstrength allowed. 'You SHALL notI tellyou.'
'For one hour' he pleaded earnestly.
'Not for one minute' she replied.
'I MUST - Linton will be up immediately'persisted the alarmedintruder.
He would have risenand unfixed her fingers bythe act - she clungfastgasping: there was mad resolutionin her face.
'No!' she shrieked. 'Ohdon'tdon'tgo. It is the last time!Edgar will not hurt us. HeathcliffIshall die! I shall die!'
'Damn the fool! There he is' criedHeathcliffsinking back intohis seat. 'Hushmy darling! HushhushCatherine! I'll stay.If he shot me soI'd expire with a blessing onmy lips.'
And there they were fast again. I heardmy master mounting thestairs - the cold sweat ran from my forehead: I was horrified.
'Are you going to listen to her ravings?' Isaidpassionately.'She does not know what she says. Willyou ruin herbecause shehas not wit to help herself? Get up! You could be free instantly.That is the most diabolical deed that ever youdid. We are alldone for - mastermistressand servant.'
I wrung my handsand cried out; and Mr. Lintonhastened his stepat the noise. In the midst of myagitationI was sincerely gladto observe that Catherine's arms had fallenrelaxedand her headhung down.
'She's faintedor dead' I thought: 'somuch the better. Farbetter that she should be deadthan lingeringa burden and amisery-maker to all about her.'
Edgar sprang to his unbidden guestblanchedwith astonishment andrage. What he meant to do I cannot tell;howeverthe otherstopped all demonstrationsat onceby placingthe lifeless-looking form in his arms.
'Look there!' he said. 'Unless you be afiendhelp her first -then you shall speak to me!'
He walked into the parlourand sat down. Mr. Linton summoned meand with great difficultyand after resortingto many meanswemanaged to restore her to sensation; but shewas all bewildered;she sighedand moanedand knew nobody. Edgarin his anxiety forherforgot her hated friend. I did not. I wentat the earliestopportunityand besought him to depart;affirming that Catherinewas betterand he should hear from me in themorning how shepassed the night.
'I shall not refuse to go out of doors' heanswered; 'but I shallstay in the garden: andNellymind youkeep your word to-morrow.I shall be under those larch-trees. Mind!or I pay another visitwhether Linton be in or not.'
He sent a rapid glance through the half-opendoor of the chamberandascertaining that what I stated wasapparently truedeliveredthe house of his luckless presence.
ABOUT twelve o'clock that night was born theCatherine you saw atWuthering Heights: a punyseven-months'child; and two hoursafter the mother diedhaving never recoveredsufficientconsciousness to miss Heathcliffor knowEdgar. The latter'sdistraction at his bereavement is a subject toopainful to be dwelton; its after-effects showed how deep thesorrow sunk. A greatadditionin my eyeswas his being leftwithout an heir. Ibemoaned thatas I gazed on the feeble orphan;and I mentallyabused old Linton for (what was only naturalpartiality) thesecuring his estate to his own daughterinstead of his son's. Anunwelcomed infant it waspoor thing! Itmight have wailed out oflifeand nobody cared a morselduring thosefirst hours ofexistence. We redeemed the neglectafterwards; but its beginningwas as friendless as its end is likely to be.
Next morning - bright and cheerful out of doors- stole softened inthrough the blinds of the silent roomandsuffused the couch andits occupant with a mellowtender glow. Edgar Linton had his headlaid on the pillowand his eyes shut. His young and fair featureswere almost as deathlike as those of the formbeside himandalmost as fixed: but HIS was the hush ofexhausted anguishandHERS of perfect peace. Her brow smoothher lids closedher lipswearing the expression of a smile; no angel inheaven could be morebeautiful than she appeared. And Ipartook of the infinite calm inwhich she lay: my mind was never in aholier frame than while Igazed on that untroubled image of Divine rest. I instinctivelyechoed the words she had uttered a few hoursbefore: 'Incomparablybeyond and above us all! Whether still onearth or now in heavenher spirit is at home with God!'
I don't know if it be a peculiarity in mebutI am seldomotherwise than happy while watching in thechamber of deathshouldno frenzied or despairing mourner share theduty with me. I see arepose that neither earth nor hell can breakand I feel anassurance of the endless and shadowlesshereafter - the Eternitythey have entered - where life is boundless inits durationandlove in its sympathyand joy in its fulness. I noticed on thatoccasion how much selfishness there is even ina love like Mr.Linton'swhen he so regretted Catherine'sblessed release! To besureone might have doubtedafter the waywardand impatientexistence she had ledwhether she merited ahaven of peace atlast. One might doubt in seasons of coldreflection; but not thenin the presence of her corpse. Itasserted its own tranquillitywhich seemed a pledge of equal quiet to itsformer inhabitant.
Do you believe such people are happy in theother worldsir? I'dgive a great deal to know.
I declined answering Mrs. Dean's questionwhich struck me assomething heterodox. She proceeded:
Retracing the course of Catherine LintonIfear we have no rightto think she is; but we'll leave her with herMaker.
The master looked asleepand I ventured soonafter sunrise to quitthe room and steal out to the pure refreshingair. The servantsthought me gone to shake off the drowsiness ofmy protracted watch;in realitymy chief motive was seeing Mr.Heathcliff. If he hadremained among the larches all nighthe wouldhave heard nothingof the stir at the Grange; unlessperhapshemight catch thegallop of the messenger going to Gimmerton. If he had come nearerhe would probably be awarefrom the lightsflitting to and froand the opening and shutting of the outerdoorsthat all was notright within. I wishedyet fearedtofind him. I felt theterrible news must be toldand I longed to getit over; but how todo it I did not know. He was there - atleasta few yards furtherin the park; leant against an old ash-treehishat offand hishair soaked with the dew that had gathered onthe budded branchesand fell pattering round him. He had beenstanding a long time inthat positionfor I saw a pair of ouselspassing and repassingscarcely three feet from himbusy in buildingtheir nestandregarding his proximity no more than that of apiece of timber.They flew off at my approachand he raised hiseyes and spoke:-'She's dead!' he said; 'I've not waited for youto learn that. Putyour handkerchief away - don't snivel beforeme. Damn you all! shewants none of your tears!'
I was weeping as much for him as her: wedo sometimes pitycreatures that have none of the feeling eitherfor themselves orothers. When I first looked into hisfaceI perceived that he hadgot intelligence of the catastrophe; and afoolish notion struck methat his heart was quelled and he prayedbecause his lips movedand his gaze was bent on the ground.
'Yesshe's dead!' I answeredchecking my sobsand drying mycheeks. 'Gone to heavenI hope; where wemayevery onejoinherif we take due warning and leave our evilways to followgood!'
'Did SHE take due warningthen?' askedHeathcliffattempting asneer. 'Did she die like a saint? Comegive me a true history ofthe event. How did - ?'
He endeavoured to pronounce the namebut couldnot manage it; andcompressing his mouth he held a silent combatwith his inwardagonydefyingmeanwhilemy sympathy with anunflinchingferocious stare. 'How did she die?' heresumedat last - fainnotwithstanding his hardihoodto have asupport behind him; forafter the strugglehe trembledin spite ofhimselfto his veryfinger-ends.
'Poor wretch!' I thought; 'you have a heart andnerves the same asyour brother men! Why should you beanxious to conceal them? Yourpride cannot blind God! You tempt him towring themtill heforces a cry of humiliation.'
'Quietly as a lamb!' I answeredaloud. 'She drew a sighandstretched herselflike a child revivingandsinking again tosleep; and five minutes after I felt one littlepulse at her heartand nothing more!'
'And - did she ever mention me?' he askedhesitatingas if hedreaded the answer to his question wouldintroduce details that hecould not bear to hear.
'Her senses never returned: sherecognised nobody from the timeyou left her' I said. 'She lies with asweet smile on her face;and her latest ideas wandered back to pleasantearly days. Herlife closed in a gentle dream - may she wake askindly in the otherworld!'
'May she wake in torment!' he criedwithfrightful vehemencestamping his footand groaning in a suddenparoxysm ofungovernable passion. 'Whyshe's a liarto the end! Where isshe? Not THERE - not in heaven - notperished - where? Oh! yousaid you cared nothing for my sufferings! And I pray one prayer -I repeat it till my tongue stiffens - CatherineEarnshawmay younot rest as long as I am living; you said Ikilled you - haunt methen! The murdered DO haunt theirmurderersI believe. I knowthat ghosts HAVE wandered on earth. Bewith me always - take anyform - drive me mad! only DO not leave me inthis abysswhere Icannot find you! OhGod! it isunutterable! I CANNOT livewithout my life! I CANNOT live without mysoul!'
He dashed his head against the knotted trunk;andlifting up hiseyeshowlednot like a manbut like a savagebeast being goadedto death with knives and spears. Iobserved several splashes ofblood about the bark of the treeand his handand forehead wereboth stained; probably the scene I witnessedwas a repetition ofothers acted during the night. It hardlymoved my compassion - itappalled me: stillI felt reluctant toquit him so. But themoment he recollected himself enough to noticeme watchinghethundered a command for me to goand Iobeyed. He was beyond myskill to quiet or console!
Mrs. Linton's funeral was appointed to takeplace on the Fridayfollowing her decease; and till then her coffinremained uncoveredand strewn with flowers and scented leavesinthe great drawing-room. Linton spent his days and nightstherea sleeplessguardian; and - a circumstance concealed fromall but me -Heathcliff spent his nightsat leastoutsideequally a strangerto repose. I held no communication withhim: stillI wasconscious of his design to enterif he could;and on the Tuesdaya little after darkwhen my masterfrom sheerfatiguehad beencompelled to retire a couple of hoursI wentand opened one of thewindows; moved by his perseverance to give hima chance ofbestowing on the faded image of his idol onefinal adieu. He didnot omit to avail himself of the opportunitycautiously andbriefly; too cautiously to betray his presenceby the slightestnoise. IndeedI shouldn't havediscovered that he had been thereexcept for the disarrangement of the draperyabout the corpse'sfaceand for observing on the floor a curl oflight hairfastenedwith a silver thread; whichon examinationIascertained to havebeen taken from a locket hung round Catherine'sneck. Heathcliffhad opened the trinket and cast out itscontentsreplacing them bya black lock of his own. I twisted thetwoand enclosed themtogether.
Mr. Earnshaw wasof courseinvited to attendthe remains of hissister to the grave; he sent no excusebut henever came; so thatbesides her husbandthe mourners were whollycomposed of tenantsand servants. Isabella was not asked.
The place of Catherine's intermentto thesurprise of thevillagerswas neither in the chapel under thecarved monument ofthe Lintonsnor yet by the tombs of her ownrelationsoutside.It was dug on a green slope in a corner of thekirk-yardwhere thewall is so low that heath and bilberry-plantshave climbed over itfrom the moor; and peat-mould almost buriesit. Her husband liesin the same spot now; and they have each asimple headstone aboveand a plain grey block at their feetto markthe graves.
THAT Friday made the last of our fine days fora month. In theevening the weather broke: the windshifted from south to north-eastand brought rain firstand then sleetand snow. On themorrow one could hardly imagine that there hadbeen three weeks ofsummer: the primroses and crocuses werehidden under wintrydrifts; the larks were silentthe young leavesof the early treessmitten and blackened. And drearyandchilland dismalthatmorrow did creep over! My master kept hisroom; I took possessionof the lonely parlourconverting it into anursery: and there Iwassitting with the moaning doll of a childlaid on my knee;rocking it to and froand watchingmeanwhilethe still drivingflakes build up the uncurtained windowwhenthe door openedandsome person enteredout of breath andlaughing! My anger wasgreater than my astonishment for a minute. I supposed it one ofthe maidsand I cried - 'Have done! Howdare you show yourgiddiness here; What would Mr. Linton say if heheard you?'
'Excuse me!' answered a familiar voice; 'but Iknow Edgar is inbedand I cannot stop myself.'
With that the speaker came forward to the firepanting and holdingher hand to her side.
'I have run the whole way from WutheringHeights!' she continuedafter a pause; 'except where I've flown. I couldn't count thenumber of falls I've had. OhI'm achingall over! Don't bealarmed! There shall be an explanation assoon as I can give it;only just have the goodness to step out andorder the carriage totake me on to Gimmertonand tell a servant toseek up a fewclothes in my wardrobe.'
The intruder was Mrs. Heathcliff. Shecertainly seemed in nolaughing predicament: her hair streamedon her shouldersdrippingwith snow and water; she was dressed in thegirlish dress shecommonly worebefitting her age more than herposition: a lowfrock with short sleevesand nothing on eitherhead or neck. Thefrock was of light silkand clung to her withwetand her feetwere protected merely by thin slippers; add tothis a deep cutunder one earwhich only the cold preventedfrom bleedingprofuselya white face scratched and bruisedand a frame hardlyable to support itself through fatigue; and youmay fancy my firstfright was not much allayed when I had hadleisure to examine her.
'My dear young lady' I exclaimed'I'll stirnowhereand hearnothingtill you have removed every article ofyour clothesandput on dry things; and certainly you shall notgo to Gimmerton to-nightso it is needless to order thecarriage.'
'Certainly I shall' she said; 'walking orriding: yet I've noobjection to dress myself decently. And -ahsee how it flowsdown my neck now! The fire does make itsmart.'
She insisted on my fulfilling her directionsbefore she would letme touch her; and not till after the coachmanhad been instructedto get readyand a maid set to pack up somenecessary attiredidI obtain her consent for binding the wound andhelping to changeher garments.
'NowEllen' she saidwhen my task wasfinished and she wasseated in an easy-chair on the hearthwith acup of tea beforeher'you sit down opposite meand put poorCatherine's baby away:I don't like to see it! You mustn't thinkI care little forCatherinebecause I behaved so foolishly onentering: I've criedtoobitterly - yesmore than any one else hasreason to cry. Weparted unreconciledyou rememberand Isha'n't forgive myself.Butfor all thatI was not going tosympathise with him - thebrute beast! Ohgive me the poker! This is the last thing of hisI have about me:' she slipped the gold ringfrom her third fingerand threw it on the floor. 'I'll smashit!' she continuedstriking it with childish spite'and then I'llburn it!' and shetook and dropped the misused article among thecoals. 'There! heshall buy anotherif he gets me back again. He'd be capable ofcoming to seek meto tease Edgar. I darenot staylest thatnotion should possess his wicked head! And besidesEdgar has notbeen kindhas he? And I won't come suingfor his assistance; norwill I bring him into more trouble. Necessity compelled me to seekshelter here; thoughif I had not learned hewas out of the wayI'd have halted at the kitchenwashed my facewarmed myselfgotyou to bring what I wantedand departed againto anywhere out ofthe reach of my accursed - of that incarnategoblin! Ahhe was insuch a fury! If he had caught me! It's a pity Earnshaw is not hismatch in strength: I wouldn't have runtill I'd seen him all butdemolishedhad Hindley been able to do it!'
'Welldon't talk so fastMiss!' Iinterrupted; 'you'll disorderthe handkerchief I have tied round your faceand make the cutbleed again. Drink your teaand takebreathand give overlaughing: laughter is sadly out of placeunder this roofand inyour condition!'
'An undeniable truth' she replied. 'Listen to that child! Itmaintains a constant wail - send it out of myhearing for an hour;I sha'n't stay any longer.'
I rang the belland committed it to aservant's care; and then Iinquired what had urged her to escape fromWuthering Heights insuch an unlikely plightand where she meant togoas she refusedremaining with us.
'I oughtand I wished to remain' answeredshe'to cheer Edgarand take care of the babyfor two thingsandbecause the Grangeis my right home. But I tell you hewouldn't let me! Do you thinkhe could bear to see me grow fat and merry -could bear to thinkthat we were tranquiland not resolve onpoisoning our comfort?NowI have the satisfaction of being sure thathe detests metothe point of its annoying him seriously to haveme within ear-shotor eyesight: I noticewhen I enter hispresencethe muscles ofhis countenance are involuntarily distortedinto an expression ofhatred; partly arising from his knowledge ofthe good causes I haveto feel that sentiment for himand partly fromoriginal aversion.It is strong enough to make me feel prettycertain that he wouldnot chase me over Englandsupposing Icontrived a clear escape;and therefore I must get quite away. I'verecovered from my firstdesire to be killed by him: I'd ratherhe'd kill himself! He hasextinguished my love effectuallyand so I'm atmy ease. I canrecollect yet how I loved him; and can dimlyimagine that I couldstill be loving himif - nono! Even ifhe had doted on methedevilish nature would have revealed itsexistence somehow.Catherine had an awfully perverted taste toesteem him so dearlyknowing him so well. Monster! would thathe could be blotted outof creationand out of my memory!'
'Hushhush! He's a human being' Isaid. 'Be more charitable:there are worse men than he is yet!'
'He's not a human being' she retorted; 'and hehas no claim on mycharity. I gave him my heartand he tookand pinched it to deathand flung it back to me. People feel withtheir heartsEllen:and since he has destroyed mineI have notpower to feel for him:and I would notthough he groaned from this tohis dying dayandwept tears of blood for Catherine! NoindeedindeedIwouldn't!' And here Isabella began tocry; butimmediatelydashing the water from her lashessherecommenced. 'You askedwhat has driven me to flight at last? Iwas compelled to attemptitbecause I had succeeded in rousing his ragea pitch above hismalignity. Pulling out the nerves withred hot pincers requiresmore coolness than knocking on the head. He was worked up toforget the fiendish prudence he boasted ofandproceeded tomurderous violence. I experiencedpleasure in being able toexasperate him: the sense of pleasurewoke my instinct of self-preservationso I fairly broke free; and ifever I come into hishands again he is welcome to a signal revenge.
'Yesterdayyou knowMr. Earnshaw should havebeen at the funeral.He kept himself sober for the purpose -tolerably sober: not goingto bed mad at six o'clock and getting up drunkat twelve.Consequentlyhe rosein suicidal low spiritsas fit for thechurch as for a dance; and insteadhe sat downby the fire andswallowed gin or brandy by tumblerfuls.
'Heathcliff - I shudder to name him! has been astranger in thehouse from last Sunday till to-day. Whether the angels have fedhimor his kin beneathI cannot tell; but hehas not eaten a mealwith us for nearly a week. He has justcome home at dawnand goneup-stairs to his chamber; looking himself in -as if anybody dreamtof coveting his company! There he hascontinuedpraying like aMethodist: only the deity he implored issenseless dust and ashes;and Godwhen addressedwas curiouslyconfounded with his ownblack father! After concluding theseprecious orisons - and theylasted generally till he grew hoarse and hisvoice was strangled inhis throat - he would be off again; alwaysstraight down to theGrange! I wonder Edgar did not send for aconstableand give himinto custody! For megrieved as I wasabout Catherineit wasimpossible to avoid regarding this season ofdeliverance fromdegrading oppression as a holiday.
'I recovered spirits sufficient to bearJoseph's eternal lectureswithout weepingand to move up and down thehouse less with thefoot of a frightened thief than formerly. You wouldn't think thatI should cry at anything Joseph could say; buthe and Hareton aredetestable companions. I'd rather sitwith Hindleyand hear hisawful talkthan with "t' little maister"and his staunchsupporterthat odious old man! WhenHeathcliff is inI'm oftenobliged to seek the kitchen and their societyor starve among thedamp uninhabited chambers; when he is notaswas the case thisweekI establish a table and chair at onecorner of the housefireand never mind how Mr. Earnshaw mayoccupy himself; and hedoes not interfere with my arrangements. He is quieter now than heused to beif no one provokes him: moresullen and depressedandless furious. Joseph affirms he's surehe's an altered man: thatthe Lord has touched his heartand he is saved"so as by fire."I'm puzzled to detect signs of the favourablechange: but it isnot my business.
'Yester-evening I sat in my nook reading someold books till lateon towards twelve. It seemed so dismal togo up-stairswith thewild snow blowing outsideand my thoughtscontinually reverting tothe kirk-yard and the new-made grave! Idared hardly lift my eyesfrom the page before methat melancholy sceneso instantly usurpedits place. Hindley sat oppositehis headleant on his hand;perhaps meditating on the same subject. He had ceased drinking ata point below irrationalityand had neitherstirred nor spokenduring two or three hours. There was nosound through the housebut the moaning windwhich shook the windowsevery now and thenthe faint crackling of the coalsand the clickof my snuffers as Iremoved at intervals the long wick of thecandle. Hareton andJoseph were probably fast asleep in bed. It was veryvery sad:and while I read I sighedfor it seemed as ifall joy had vanishedfrom the worldnever to be restored.
'The doleful silence was broken at length bythe sound of thekitchen latch: Heathcliff had returnedfrom his watch earlier thanusual; owingI supposeto the sudden storm. That entrance wasfastenedand we heard him coming round to getin by the other. Irose with an irrepressible expression ofwhat I felt on my lipswhich induced my companionwho had beenstaring towards the doorto turn and look at me.
'"I'll keep him out five minutes" heexclaimed. "You won'tobject?"
'"Noyou may keep him out the whole nightfor me" I answered."Do! put the key in the lookand draw thebolts."
'Earnshaw accomplished this ere his guestreached the front; hethen came and brought his chair to the otherside of my tableleaning over itand searching in my eyes for asympathy with theburning hate that gleamed from his: as heboth looked and feltlike an assassinhe couldn't exactly findthat; but he discoveredenough to encourage him to speak.
'"Youand I" he said"haveeach a great debt to settle with theman out yonder! If we were neither of uscowardswe might combineto discharge it. Are you as soft as yourbrother? Are you willingto endure to the lastand not once attempt arepayment?"
'"I'm weary of enduring now" Ireplied; "and I'd be glad of aretaliation that wouldn't recoil on myself; buttreachery andviolence are spears pointed at both ends; theywound those whoresort to them worse than their enemies."
'"Treachery and violence are a just returnfor treachery andviolence!" cried Hindley. "Mrs.HeathcliffI'll ask you to donothing; but sit still and be dumb. Tellme nowcan you? I'msure you would have as much pleasure as I inwitnessing theconclusion of the fiend's existence; he'll beYOUR death unless youoverreach him; and he'll be MY ruin. Damnthe hellish villain! Heknocks at the door as if he were master herealready! Promise tohold your tongueand before that clock strikes- it wants threeminutes of one - you're a free woman!"
'He took the implements which I described toyou in my letter fromhis breastand would have turned down thecandle. I snatched itawayhoweverand seized his arm.
'"I'll not hold my tongue!" I said;"you mustn't touch him. Letthe door remain shutand be quiet!"
'"No! I've formed my resolutionandby God I'll execute it!"cried the desperate being. "I'll doyou a kindness in spite ofyourselfand Hareton justice! And youneedn't trouble your headto screen me; Catherine is gone. Nobodyalive would regret meorbe ashamedthough I cut my throat this minute- and it's time tomake an end!"
'I might as well have struggled with a bearorreasoned with alunatic. The only resource left me was torun to a lattice andwarn his intended victim of the fate whichawaited him.
'"You'd better seek shelter somewhere elseto-night!" I exclaimedin rather a triumphant tone. "Mr.Earnshaw has a mind to shootyouif you persist in endeavouring to enter."
'"You'd better open the dooryou - "he answeredaddressing me bysome elegant term that I don't care to repeat.
'"I shall not meddle in the matter"I retorted again. "Come inand get shotif you please. I've done myduty."
'With that I shut the window and returned to myplace by the fire;having too small a stock of hypocrisy at mycommand to pretend anyanxiety for the danger that menaced him. Earnshaw sworepassionately at me: affirming that Iloved the villain yet; andcalling me all sorts of names for the basespirit I evinced. AndIin my secret heart (and conscience neverreproached me)thoughtwhat a blessing it would be for HIM shouldHeathcliff put him outof misery; and what a blessing for ME should hesend Heathcliff tohis right abode! As I sat nursing thesereflectionsthe casementbehind me was banged on to the floor by a blowfrom the latterindividualand his black countenance lookedblightingly through.The stanchions stood too close to suffer hisshoulders to followand I smiledexulting in my fancied security. His hair andclothes were whitened with snowand his sharpcannibal teethrevealed by cold and wrathgleamed through thedark.
'"Isabellalet me inor I'll make yourepent!" he "girned" asJoseph calls it.
'"I cannot commit murder" Ireplied. "Mr. Hindley stands sentinelwith a knife and loaded pistol."
'"Let me in by the kitchen door" hesaid.
'"Hindley will be there before me" Ianswered: "and that's a poorlove of yours that cannot bear a shower ofsnow! We were left atpeace in our beds as long as the summer moonshonebut the momenta blast of winter returnsyou must run forshelter! Heathcliffif I were youI'd go stretch myself over hergrave and die like afaithful dog. The world is surely notworth living in nowis it?You had distinctly impressed on me the ideathat Catherine was thewhole joy of your life: I can't imaginehow you think of survivingher loss."
'"He's thereis he?" exclaimed mycompanionrushing to the gap."If I can get my arm out I can hit him!"
'I'm afraidEllenyou'll set me down asreally wicked; but youdon't know allso don't judge. Iwouldn't have aided or abettedan attempt on even HIS life for anything. Wish that he were deadI must; and therefore I was fearfullydisappointedand unnerved byterror for the consequences of my tauntingspeechwhen he flunghimself on Earnshaw's weapon and wrenched itfrom his grasp.
'The charge explodedand the knifeinspringing backclosed intoits owner's wrist. Heathcliff pulled itaway by main forceslitting up the flesh as it passed onandthrust it dripping intohis pocket. He then took a stonestruckdown the division betweentwo windowsand sprang in. His adversaryhad fallen senselesswith excessive pain and the flow of bloodthatgushed from anartery or a large vein. The ruffiankicked and trampled on himand dashed his head repeatedly against theflagsholding me withone handmeantimeto prevent me summoningJoseph. He exertedpreterhuman self-denial in abstaining fromfinishing himcompletely; but getting out of breathhefinally desistedanddragged the apparently inanimate body on to thesettle. There hetore off the sleeve of Earnshaw's coatandbound up the wound withbrutal roughness; spitting and cursing duringthe operation asenergetically as he had kicked before. Being at libertyI lost notime in seeking the old servant; whohavinggathered by degreesthe purport of my hasty talehurried belowgaspingas hedescended the steps two at once.
'"What is ther to donow? what is ther todonow?"
'"There's this to do" thunderedHeathcliff"that your master'smad; and should he last another monthI'llhave him to an asylum.And how the devil did you come to fasten meoutyou toothlesshound? Don't stand muttering and mumblingthere. ComeI'm notgoing to nurse him. Wash that stuff away;and mind the sparks ofyour candle - it is more than half brandy!"
'"And so ye've been murthering on him?"exclaimed Josephliftinghis hands and eyes in horror. "Ifiver I seed a seeght loike this!May the Lord - "
'Heathcliff gave him a push on to his knees inthe middle of thebloodand flung a towel to him; but instead ofproceeding to dryit uphe joined his hands and began a prayerwhich excited mylaughter from its odd phraseology. I wasin the condition of mindto be shocked at nothing: in factI wasas reckless as somemalefactors show themselves at the foot of thegallows.
'"OhI forgot you" said thetyrant. "You shall do that. Downwith you. And you conspire with himagainst medo youviper?Therethat is work fit for you!"
'He shook me till my teeth rattledand pitchedme beside Josephwho steadily concluded his supplicationsandthen rosevowing hewould set off for the Grange directly. Mr. Linton was amagistrateand though he had fifty wives deadhe should inquireinto this. He was so obstinate in hisresolutionthat Heathcliffdeemed it expedient to compel from my lips arecapitulation of whathad taken place; standing over meheaving withmalevolenceas Ireluctantly delivered the account in answer tohis questions. Itrequired a great deal of labour to satisfy theold man thatHeathcliff was not the aggressor; especiallywith my hardly-wrungreplies. HoweverMr. Earnshaw soonconvinced him that he wasalive still; Joseph hastened to administer adose of spiritsandby their succour his master presently regainedmotion andconsciousness. Heathcliffaware that hisopponent was ignorant ofthe treatment received while insensiblecalledhim deliriouslyintoxicated; and said he should not notice hisatrocious conductfurtherbut advised him to get to bed. To my joyhe left usafter giving this judicious counselandHindley stretched himselfon the hearthstone. I departed to my ownroommarvelling that Ihad escaped so easily.
'This morningwhen I came downabout half anhour before noonMr. Earnshaw was sitting by the firedeadlysick; his evil geniusalmost as gaunt and ghastlyleant against thechimney. Neitherappeared inclined to dineandhaving waitedtill all was cold onthe tableI commenced alone. Nothinghindered me from eatingheartilyand I experienced a certain sense ofsatisfaction andsuperiorityasat intervalsI cast a looktowards my silentcompanionsand felt the comfort of a quietconscience within me.After I had doneI ventured on the unusualliberty of drawing nearthe firegoing round Earnshaw's seatandkneeling in the cornerbeside him.
'Heathcliff did not glance my wayand I gazedupand contemplatedhis features almost as confidently as if theyhad been turned tostone. His foreheadthat I once thoughtso manlyand that I nowthink so diabolicalwas shaded with a heavycloud; his basiliskeyes were nearly quenched by sleeplessnessandweepingperhapsfor the lashes were wet then: his lipsdevoid of their ferocioussneerand sealed in an expression ofunspeakable sadness. Had itbeen anotherI would have covered my face inthe presence of suchgrief. In HIS caseI was gratified; andignoble as it seems toinsult a fallen enemyI couldn't miss thischance of sticking in adart: his weakness was the only time whenI could taste thedelight of paying wrong for wrong.'
'FiefieMiss!' I interrupted. 'Onemight suppose you had neveropened a Bible in your life. If Godafflict your enemiessurelythat ought to suffice you. It is bothmean and presumptuous to addyour torture to his!'
'In general I'll allow that it would beEllen' she continued;'but what misery laid on Heathcliff couldcontent meunless I havea hand in it? I'd rather he sufferedlessif I might cause hissufferings and he might KNOW that I was thecause. OhI owe himso much. On only one condition can I hopeto forgive him. It isif I may take an eye for an eyea tooth for atooth; for everywrench of agony return a wrench: reducehim to my level. As hewas the first to injuremake him the first toimplore pardon; andthen - why thenEllenI might show you somegenerosity. But itis utterly impossible I can ever be revengedand therefore Icannot forgive him. Hindley wanted somewaterand I handed him aglassand asked him how he was.
'"Not as ill as I wish" he replied. "But leaving out my armevery inch of me is as sore as if I had beenfighting with a legionof imps!"
'"Yesno wonder" was my nextremark. "Catherine used to boastthat she stood between you and bodily harm: she meant that certainpersons would not hurt you for fear ofoffending her. It's wellpeople don't REALLY rise from their graveorlast nightshemight have witnessed a repulsive scene! Are not you bruisedandcut over your chest and shoulders?"
'"I can't say" he answered"butwhat do you mean? Did he dare tostrike me when I was down?"
'"He trampled on and kicked youanddashed you on the ground" Iwhispered. "And his mouth watered totear you with his teeth;because he's only half man: not so muchand the rest fiend."
'Mr. Earnshaw looked uplike meto thecountenance of our mutualfoe; whoabsorbed in his anguishseemedinsensible to anythingaround him: the longer he stoodtheplainer his reflectionsrevealed their blackness through his features.
'"Ohif God would but give me strength tostrangle him in my lastagonyI'd go to hell with joy" groanedthe impatient manwrithing to riseand sinking back in despairconvinced of hisinadequacy for the struggle.
'"Nayit's enough that he has murderedone of you" I observedaloud. "At the Grangeevery oneknows your sister would have beenliving now had it not been for Mr. Heathcliff. After allit ispreferable to be hated than loved by him. When I recollect howhappy we were - how happy Catherine was beforehe came - I'm fit tocurse the day."
'Most likelyHeathcliff noticed more the truthof what was saidthan the spirit of the person who said it. His attention wasrousedI sawfor his eyes rained down tearsamong the ashesandhe drew his breath in suffocating sighs. I stared full at himandlaughed scornfully. The clouded windowsof hell flashed a momenttowards me; the fiend which usually looked outhoweverwas sodimmed and drowned that I did not fear tohazard another sound ofderision.
'"Get upand begone out of my sight"said the mourner.
'I guessed he uttered those wordsat leastthough his voice washardly intelligible.
'"I beg your pardon" I replied. "But I loved Catherine too; andher brother requires attendancewhichfor hersakeI shallsupply. Nowthat she's deadI see herin Hindley: Hindley hasexactly her eyesif you had not tried to gougethem outand madethem black and red; and her - "
'"Get upwretched idiotbefore I stampyou to death!" he criedmaking a movement that caused me to make onealso.
'"But then" I continuedholdingmyself ready to flee"if poorCatherine had trusted youand assumed theridiculouscontemptibledegrading title of Mrs.Heathcliffshe would soonhave presented a similar picture! SHEwouldn't have borne yourabominable behaviour quietly: herdetestation and disgust musthave found voice."
'The back of the settle and Earnshaw's personinterposed between meand him; so instead of endeavouring to reachmehe snatched adinner-knife from the table and flung it at myhead. It struckbeneath my earand stopped the sentence I wasuttering; butpulling it outI sprang to the door anddelivered another; which Ihope went a little deeper than his missile. The last glimpse Icaught of him was a furious rush on his partchecked by theembrace of his host; and both fell lockedtogether on the hearth.In my flight through the kitchen I bid Josephspeed to his master;I knocked over Haretonwho was hanging alitter of puppies from achair-back in the doorway; andblessed as asoul escaped frompurgatoryI boundedleapedand flew down thesteep road; thenquitting its windingsshot direct across themoorrolling overbanksand wading through marshes: precipitating myselfin facttowards the beacon-light of the Grange. And far rather would I becondemned to a perpetual dwelling in theinfernal regions thaneven for one nightabide beneath the roof ofWuthering Heightsagain.'
Isabella ceased speakingand took a drink oftea; then she roseand bidding me put on her bonnetand a greatshawl I had broughtand turning a deaf ear to my entreaties for herto remain anotherhourshe stepped on to a chairkissed Edgar'sand Catherine'sportraitsbestowed a similar salute on meanddescended to thecarriageaccompanied by Fannywho yelped wildwith joy atrecovering her mistress. She was drivenawaynever to revisitthis neighbourhood: but a regularcorrespondence was establishedbetween her and my master when things were moresettled. I believeher new abode was in the southnear London;there she had a sonborn a few months subsequent to her escape. He was christenedLintonandfrom the firstshe reported himto be an ailingpeevish creature.
Mr. Heathcliffmeeting me one day in thevillageinquired whereshe lived. I refused to tell. Heremarked that it was not of anymomentonly she must beware of coming to herbrother: she shouldnot be with himif he had to keep herhimself. Though I wouldgive no informationhe discoveredthroughsome of the otherservantsboth her place of residence and theexistence of thechild. Stillhe didn't molest her: for which forbearance shemight thank his aversionI suppose. Heoften asked about theinfantwhen he saw me; and on hearing itsnamesmiled grimlyandobserved: 'They wish me to hate it toodo they?'
'I don't think they wish you to know anythingabout it' Ianswered.
'But I'll have it' he said'when I want it. They may reckon onthat!'
Fortunately its mother died before the timearrived; some thirteenyears after the decease of CatherinewhenLinton was twelveor alittle more.
On the day succeeding Isabella's unexpectedvisit I had noopportunity of speaking to my master: heshunned conversationandwas fit for discussing nothing. When Icould get him to listenIsaw it pleased him that his sister had left herhusband; whom heabhorred with an intensity which the mildnessof his nature wouldscarcely seem to allow. So deep andsensitive was his aversionthat he refrained from going anywhere where hewas likely to see orhear of Heathcliff. Griefand thattogethertransformed him intoa complete hermit: he threw up his officeof magistrateceasedeven to attend churchavoided the village onall occasionsandspent a life of entire seclusion within thelimits of his park andgrounds; only varied by solitary rambles on themoorsand visitsto the grave of his wifemostly at eveningorearly morningbefore other wanderers were abroad. Buthe was too good to bethoroughly unhappy long. HE didn't prayfor Catherine's soul tohaunt him. Time brought resignationanda melancholy sweeter thancommon joy. He recalled her memory withardenttender loveandhopeful aspiring to the better world; where hedoubted not she wasgone.
And he had earthly consolation and affectionsalso. For a fewdaysI saidhe seemed regardless of the punysuccessor to thedeparted: that coldness melted as fast assnow in Apriland erethe tiny thing could stammer a word or totter astep it wielded adespot's sceptre in his heart. It wasnamed Catherine; but henever called it the name in fullas he hadnever called the firstCatherine short: probably becauseHeathcliff had a habit of doingso. The little one was always Cathy: it formed to him adistinction from the motherand yet aconnection with her; and hisattachment sprang from its relation to herfarmore than from itsbeing his own.
I used to draw a comparison between him andHindley Earnshawandperplex myself to explain satisfactorily whytheir conduct was soopposite in similar circumstances. Theyhad both been fondhusbandsand were both attached to theirchildren; and I could notsee how they shouldn't both have taken the sameroadfor good orevil. ButI thought in my mindHindleywith apparently thestronger headhas shown himself sadly theworse and the weakerman. When his ship struckthe captainabandoned his post; and thecrewinstead of trying to save herrushedinto riot andconfusionleaving no hope for their lucklessvessel. Lintononthe contrarydisplayed the true courage of aloyal and faithfulsoul: he trusted God; and God comfortedhim. One hopedand theother despaired: they chose their ownlotsand were righteouslydoomed to endure them. But you'll notwant to hear my moralisingMr. Lockwood; you'll judgeas well as I canall these things: atleastyou'll think you willand that's thesame. The end ofEarnshaw was what might have been expected; itfollowed fast on hissister's: there were scarcely six monthsbetween them. Weat theGrangenever got a very succinct account ofhis state precedingit; all that I did learn was on occasion ofgoing to aid in thepreparations for the funeral. Mr. Kennethcame to announce theevent to my master.
'WellNelly' said heriding into the yardone morningtoo earlynot to alarm me with an instant presentiment ofbad news'it'syours and my turn to go into mourning atpresent. Who's given usthe slip nowdo you think?'
'Who?' I asked in a flurry.
'Whyguess!' he returneddismountingandslinging his bridle ona hook by the door. 'And nip up thecorner of your apron: I'mcertain you'll need it.'
'Not Mr. Heathcliffsurely?' I exclaimed.
'What! would you have tears for him?' said thedoctor. 'NoHeathcliff's a tough young fellow: helooks blooming to-day. I'vejust seen him. He's rapidly regainingflesh since he lost hisbetter half.'
'Who is itthenMr. Kenneth?' I repeatedimpatiently.
'Hindley Earnshaw! Your old friendHindley' he replied'and mywicked gossip: though he's been too wildfor me this long while.There! I said we should draw water. But cheer up! He died trueto his character: drunk as a lord. Poor lad! I'm sorrytoo.One can't help missing an old companion: though he had the worsttricks with him that ever man imaginedand hasdone me many arascally turn. He's barely twenty-sevenit seems; that's your ownage: who would have thought you were bornin one year?'
I confess this blow was greater to me than theshock of Mrs.Linton's death: ancient associationslingered round my heart; Isat down in the porch and wept as for a bloodrelationdesiringMr. Kenneth to get another servant to introducehim to the master.I could not hinder myself from pondering on thequestion - 'Had hehad fair play?' Whatever I didthat ideawould bother me: it wasso tiresomely pertinacious that I resolved onrequesting leave togo to Wuthering Heightsand assist in the lastduties to the dead.Mr. Linton was extremely reluctant to consentbut I pleadedeloquently for the friendless condition inwhich he lay; and I saidmy old master and foster-brother had a claim onmy services asstrong as his own. BesidesI remindedhim that the child Haretonwas his wife's nephewandin the absence ofnearer kinhe oughtto act as its guardian; and he ought to andmust inquire how theproperty was leftand look over the concernsof his brother-in-law. He was unfit for attending to suchmatters thenbut he bidme speak to his lawyer; and at length permittedme to go. Hislawyer had been Earnshaw's also: I calledat the villageandasked him to accompany me. He shook hisheadand advised thatHeathcliff should be let alone; affirmingifthe truth were knownHareton would be found little else than abeggar.
'His father died in debt' he said; 'the wholeproperty ismortgagedand the sole chance for the naturalheir is to allow himan opportunity of creating some interest in thecreditor's heartthat he may be inclined to deal lenientlytowards him.'
When I reached the HeightsI explained that Ihad come to seeeverything carried on decently; and Josephwhoappeared insufficient distressexpressed satisfaction atmy presence. Mr.Heathcliff said he did not perceive that I waswanted; but I mightstay and order the arrangements for thefuneralif I chose.
'Correctly' he remarked'that fool's bodyshould he buried at thecross-roadswithout ceremony of any kind. I happened to leave himten minutes yesterday afternoonand in thatinterval he fastenedthe two doors of the house against meand hehas spent the nightin drinking himself to death deliberately! We broke in thismorningfor we heard him sporting like ahorse; and there he waslaid over the settle: flaying andscalping would not have wakenedhim. I sent for Kennethand he came; butnot till the beast hadchanged into carrion: he was both deadand coldand stark; and soyou'll allow it was useless making more stirabout him!'
The old servant confirmed this statementbutmuttered:
'I'd rayther he'd goan hisseln for t' doctor! I sud ha' taen tento' t' maister better nor him - and he warn'tdeead when I leftnaught o' t' soart!'
I insisted on the funeral being respectable. Mr. Heathcliff said Imight have my own way there too: onlyhedesired me to rememberthat the money for the whole affair came out ofhis pocket. Hemaintained a hardcareless deportmentindicative of neither joynor sorrow: if anythingit expressed aflinty gratification at apiece of difficult work successfully executed. I observed onceindeedsomething like exultation in hisaspect: it was just whenthe people were bearing the coffin from thehouse. He had thehypocrisy to represent a mourner: andprevious to following withHaretonhe lifted the unfortunate child on tothe table andmutteredwith peculiar gusto'Nowmy bonnyladyou are MINE!And we'll see if one tree won't grow as crookedas anotherwiththe same wind to twist it!' Theunsuspecting thing was pleased atthis speech: he played with Heathcliff'swhiskersand stroked hischeek; but I divined its meaningand observedtartly'That boymust go back with me to Thrushcross Grangesir. There is nothingin the world less yours than he is!'
'Does Linton say so?' he demanded.
'Of course - he has ordered me to take him' Ireplied.
'Well' said the scoundrel'we'll not arguethe subject now: butI have a fancy to try my hand at rearing ayoung one; so intimateto your master that I must supply the place ofthis with my ownifhe attempt to remove it. I don't engageto let Hareton goundisputed; but I'll be pretty sure to make theother come!Remember to tell him.'
This hint was enough to bind our hands. Irepeated its substanceon my return; and Edgar Lintonlittleinterested at thecommencementspoke no more of interfering. I'm not aware that hecould have done it to any purposehad he beenever so willing.
The guest was now the master of WutheringHeights: he held firmpossessionand proved to the attorney - whoin his turnprovedit to Mr. Linton - that Earnshaw had mortgagedevery yard of landhe owned for cash to supply his mania forgaming; and heHeathcliffwas the mortgagee. In thatmanner Haretonwho shouldnow be the first gentleman in theneighbourhoodwas reduced to astate of complete dependence on his father'sinveterate enemy; andlives in his own house as a servantdeprivedof the advantage ofwages: quite unable to right himselfbecause of hisfriendlessnessand his ignorance that he hasbeen wronged.
THE twelve yearscontinued Mrs. Deanfollowing that dismal periodwere the happiest of my life: my greatesttroubles in theirpassage rose from our little lady's triflingillnesseswhich shehad to experience in common with all childrenrich and poor. Forthe restafter the first six monthsshe grewlike a larchandcould walk and talk tooin her own waybeforethe heath blossomeda second time over Mrs. Linton's dust. She was the most winningthing that ever brought sunshine into adesolate house: a realbeauty in facewith the Earnshaws' handsomedark eyesbut theLintons' fair skin and small featuresandyellow curling hair.Her spirit was highthough not roughandqualified by a heartsensitive and lively to excess in itsaffections. That capacityfor intense attachments reminded me of hermother: still she didnot resemble her: for she could be softand mild as a doveandshe had a gentle voice and pensive expression: her anger was neverfurious; her love never fierce: it wasdeep and tender. Howeverit must be acknowledgedshe had faults to foilher gifts. Apropensity to be saucy was one; and a perversewillthat indulgedchildren invariably acquirewhether they begood tempered orcross. If a servant chanced to vex herit was always - 'I shalltell papa!' And if he reproved herevenby a lookyou would havethought it a heart-breaking business: Idon't believe he ever didspeak a harsh word to her. He took hereducation entirely onhimselfand made it an amusement. Fortunatelycuriosity and aquick intellect made her an apt scholar: she learned rapidly andeagerlyand did honour to his teaching.
Till she reached the age of thirteen she hadnot once been beyondthe range of the park by herself. Mr.Linton would take her withhim a mile or so outsideon rare occasions;but he trusted her tono one else. Gimmerton was anunsubstantial name in her ears; thechapelthe only building she had approached orenteredexcept herown home. Wuthering Heights and Mr.Heathcliff did not exist forher: she was a perfect recluse; andapparentlyperfectlycontented. Sometimesindeedwhilesurveying the country from hernursery windowshe would observe -
'Ellenhow long will it be before I can walkto the top of thosehills? I wonder what lies on the otherside - is it the sea?'
'NoMiss Cathy' I would answer; 'it is hillsagainjust likethese.'
'And what are those golden rocks like when youstand under them?'she once asked.
The abrupt descent of Penistone Cragsparticularly attracted hernotice; especially when the setting sun shoneon it and the topmostheightsand the whole extent of landscapebesides lay in shadow.I explained that they were bare masses ofstonewith hardly enoughearth in their clefts to nourish a stuntedtree.
'And why are they bright so long after it isevening here?' shepursued.
'Because they are a great deal higher up thanwe are' replied I;'you could not climb themthey are too highand steep. In winterthe frost is always there before it comes tous; and deep intosummer I have found snow under that blackhollow on the north-eastside!'
'Ohyou have been on them!' she criedgleefully. 'Then I can gotoowhen I am a woman. Has papa beenEllen?'
'Papa would tell youMiss' I answeredhastily'that they arenot worth the trouble of visiting. Themoorswhere you ramblewith himare much nicer; and Thrushcross Parkis the finest placein the world.'
'But I know the parkand I don't know those'she murmured toherself. 'And I should delight to lookround me from the brow ofthat tallest point: my little pony Minnyshall take me some time.'
One of the maids mentioning the Fairy Cavequite turned her headwith a desire to fulfil this project: sheteased Mr. Linton aboutit; and he promised she should have the journeywhen she got older.But Miss Catherine measured her age by monthsand'Nowam I oldenough to go to Penistone Crags?' was theconstant question in hermouth. The road thither wound close byWuthering Heights. Edgarhad not the heart to pass it; so she receivedas constantly theanswer'Not yetlove: not yet.'
I said Mrs. Heathcliff lived above a dozenyears after quitting herhusband. Her family were of a delicateconstitution: she andEdgar both lacked the ruddy health that youwill generally meet inthese parts. What her last illness wasIam not certain: Iconjecturethey died of the same thinga kindof feverslow atits commencementbut incurableand rapidlyconsuming life towardsthe close. She wrote to inform herbrother of the probableconclusion of a four-months' indispositionunder which she hadsufferedand entreated him to come to herifpossible; for shehad much to settleand she wished to bid himadieuand deliverLinton safely into his hands. Her hopewas that Linton might beleft with himas he had been with her: his fathershe would fainconvince herselfhad no desire to assume theburden of hismaintenance or education. My masterhesitated not a moment incomplying with her request: reluctant ashe was to leave home atordinary callshe flew to answer this;commanding Catherine to mypeculiar vigilancein his absencewithreiterated orders that shemust not wander out of the parkeven under myescort he did notcalculate on her going unaccompanied.
He was away three weeks. The first day ortwo my charge sat in acorner of the librarytoo sad for eitherreading or playing: inthat quiet state she caused me little trouble;but it was succeededby an interval of impatientfretful weariness;and being too busyand too old thento run up and down amusingherI hit on a methodby which she might entertain herself. Iused to send her on hertravels round the grounds - now on footandnow on a pony;indulging her with a patient audience of allher real and imaginaryadventures when she returned.
The summer shone in full prime; and she tooksuch a taste for thissolitary rambling that she often contrived toremain out frombreakfast till tea; and then the evenings werespent in recountingher fanciful tales. I did not fear herbreaking bounds; becausethe gates were generally lookedand I thoughtshe would scarcelyventure forth aloneif they had stood wideopen. Unluckilymyconfidence proved misplaced. Catherinecame to meone morningateight o'clockand said she was that day anArabian merchantgoingto cross the Desert with his caravan; and Imust give her plenty ofprovision for herself and beasts: ahorseand three camelspersonated by a large hound and a couple ofpointers. I gottogether good store of daintiesand slung themin a basket on oneside of the saddle; and she sprang up as gay asa fairyshelteredby her wide-brimmed hat and gauze veil from theJuly sunandtrotted off with a merry laughmocking mycautious counsel toavoid gallopingand come back early. Thenaughty thing never madeher appearance at tea. One travellerthehoundbeing an old dogand fond of its easereturned; but neitherCathynor the ponynor the two pointers were visible in anydirection: I despatchedemissaries down this pathand that pathandat last wentwandering in search of her myself. Therewas a labourer working ata fence round a plantationon the borders ofthe grounds. Iinquired of him if he had seen our young lady.
'I saw her at morn' he replied: 'shewould have me to cut her ahazel switchand then she leapt her Gallowayover the hedgeyonderwhere it is lowestand galloped out ofsight.'
You may guess how I felt at hearing this news. It struck medirectly she must have started for PenistoneCrags. 'What willbecome of her?' I ejaculatedpushing through agap which the manwas repairingand making straight to thehigh-road. I walked asif for a wagermile after miletill a turnbrought me in view ofthe Heights; but no Catherine could I detectfar or near. TheCrags lie about a mile and a half beyond Mr.Heathcliff's placeand that is four from the Grangeso I began tofear night wouldfall ere I could reach them. 'And what ifshe should have slippedin clambering among them' I reflected'andbeen killedor brokensome of her bones?' My suspense was trulypainful; andat firstit gave me delightful relief to observeinhurrying by thefarmhouseCharliethe fiercest of thepointerslying under awindowwith swelled head and bleeding ear. I opened the wicketand ran to the doorknocking vehemently foradmittance. A womanwhom I knewand who formerly lived atGimmertonanswered: shehad been servant there since the death of Mr.Earnshaw.
'Ah' said she'you are come a-seeking yourlittle mistress!Don't be frightened. She's here safe: but I'm glad it isn't themaster.'
'He is not at home thenis he?' I pantedquite breathless withquick walking and alarm.
'Nono' she replied: 'both he andJoseph are offand I thinkthey won't return this hour or more. Stepin and rest you a bit.'
I enteredand beheld my stray lamb seated onthe hearthrockingherself in a little chair that had been hermother's when a child.Her hat was hung against the walland sheseemed perfectly athomelaughing and chatteringin the bestspirits imaginabletoHareton - now a greatstrong lad of eighteen -who stared at herwith considerable curiosity and astonishment: comprehendingprecious little of the fluent succession ofremarks and questionswhich her tongue never ceased pouring forth.
'Very wellMiss!' I exclaimedconcealing myjoy under an angrycountenance. 'This is your last ridetill papa comes back. I'llnot trust you over the threshold againyounaughtynaughty girl!'
'AhaEllen!' she criedgailyjumping up andrunning to my side.'I shall have a pretty story to tell to-night;and so you've foundme out. Have you ever been here in yourlife before?'
'Put that hat onand home at once' said I. 'I'm dreadfullygrieved at youMiss Cathy: you've doneextremely wrong! It's nouse pouting and crying: that won't repaythe trouble I've hadscouring the country after you. To thinkhow Mr. Linton charged meto keep you in; and you stealing off so! It shows you are acunning little foxand nobody will put faithin you any more.'
'What have I done?' sobbed sheinstantlychecked. 'Papa chargedme nothing: he'll not scold meEllen -he's never crosslikeyou!'
'Comecome!' I repeated. 'I'll tie theriband. Nowlet us haveno petulance. Ohfor shame! Youthirteen years oldand such ababy!'
This exclamation was caused by her pushing thehat from her headand retreating to the chimney out of my reach.
'Nay' said the servant'don't be hard on thebonny lassMrs.Dean. We made her stop: she'd fainhave ridden forwardsafeardyou should be uneasy. Hareton offered togo with herand Ithought he should: it's a wild road overthe hills.'
Haretonduring the discussionstood with hishands in hispocketstoo awkward to speak; though he lookedas if he did notrelish my intrusion.
'How long am I to wait?' I continueddisregarding the woman'sinterference. 'It will be dark in tenminutes. Where is the ponyMiss Cathy? And where is Phoenix? Ishall leave youunless yoube quick; so please yourself.'
'The pony is in the yard' she replied'andPhoenix is shut inthere. He's bitten - and so is Charlie. I was going to tell youall about it; but you are in a bad temperanddon't deserve tohear.'
I picked up her hatand approached toreinstate it; but perceivingthat the people of the house took her partshecommenced caperinground the room; and on my giving chaseranlike a mouse over andunder and behind the furniturerendering itridiculous for me topursue. Hareton and the woman laughedand she joined themandwaxed more impertinent still; till I criedingreat irritation-'WellMiss Cathyif you were aware whosehouse this is you'd beglad enough to get out.'
'It's YOUR father'sisn't it?' said sheturning to Hareton.
'Nay' he repliedlooking downand blushingbashfully.
He could not stand a steady gaze from her eyesthough they werejust his own.
'Whose then - your master's?' she asked.
He coloured deeperwith a different feelingmuttered an oathandturned away.
'Who is his master?' continued the tiresomegirlappealing to me.'He talked about "our house" and"our folk." I thought he hadbeen the owner's son. And he never saidMiss: he should havedoneshouldn't heif he's a servant?'
Hareton grew black as a thunder-cloud at thischildish speech. Isilently shook my questionerand at lastsucceeded in equippingher for departure.
'Nowget my horse' she saidaddressing herunknown kinsman asshe would one of the stable-boys at theGrange. 'And you may comewith me. I want to see where thegoblin-hunter rises in the marshand to hear about the FAIRISHESas you callthem: but make haste!What's the matter? Get my horseI say.'
'I'll see thee damned before I be THY servant!'growled the lad.
"You'll see me WHAT!' asked Catherine insurprise.
'Damned - thou saucy witch!' he replied.
'ThereMiss Cathy! you see you have got intopretty company' Iinterposed. 'Nice words to be used to ayoung lady! Pray don'tbegin to dispute with him. Comelet usseek for Minny ourselvesand begone.'
'ButEllen' cried shestaring fixed inastonishment'how darehe speak so to me? Mustn't he be made todo as I ask him? Youwicked creatureI shall tell papa what yousaid. - Nowthen!'
Hareton did not appear to feel this threat; sothe tears spranginto her eyes with indignation. 'Youbring the pony' sheexclaimedturning to the woman'and let mydog free this moment!'
'SoftlyMiss' answered she addressed: 'you'll lose nothing bybeing civil. Though Mr. Haretontherebe not the master's sonhe's your cousin: and I was never hiredto serve you.'
'HE my cousin!' cried Cathywith a scornfullaugh.
'Yesindeed' responded her reprover.
'OhEllen! don't let them say such things'she pursued in greattrouble. 'Papa is gone to fetch my cousinfrom London: my cousinis a gentleman's son. That my - ' shestoppedand wept outright;upset at the bare notion of relationship withsuch a clown.
'Hushhush!' I whispered; 'people can havemany cousins and of allsortsMiss Cathywithout being any the worsefor it; only theyneedn't keep their companyif they bedisagreeable and bad.'
'He's not - he's not my cousinEllen!' shewent ongatheringfresh grief from reflectionand flingingherself into my arms forrefuge from the idea.
I was much vexed at her and the servant fortheir mutualrevelations; having no doubt of Linton'sapproaching arrivalcommunicated by the formerbeing reported toMr. Heathcliff; andfeeling as confident that Catherine's firstthought on her father'sreturn would be to seek an explanation of thelatter's assertionconcerning her rude-bred kindred. Haretonrecovering from hisdisgust at being taken for a servantseemedmoved by her distress;andhaving fetched the pony round to the doorhe tooktopropitiate hera fine crooked-legged terrierwhelp from thekenneland putting it into her handbid herwhist! for he meantnought. Pausing in her lamentationsshesurveyed him with aglance of awe and horrorthen burst forthanew.
I could scarcely refrain from smiling at thisantipathy to the poorfellow; who was a well-madeathletic youthgood-looking infeaturesand stout and healthybut attired ingarments befittinghis daily occupations of working on the farmand lounging among themoors after rabbits and game. StillIthought I could detect inhis physiognomy a mind owning better qualitiesthan his father everpossessed. Good things lost amid awilderness of weedsto besurewhose rankness far over-topped theirneglected growth; yetnotwithstandingevidence of a wealthy soilthat might yieldluxuriant crops under other and favourablecircumstances. Mr.HeathcliffI believehad not treated himphysically ill; thanksto his fearless naturewhich offered notemptation to that courseof oppression: he had none of the timidsusceptibility that wouldhave given zest to ill-treatmentin Heathcliffs judgment. Heappeared to have bent his malevolence on makinghim a brute: hewas never taught to read or write; neverrebuked for any bad habitwhich did not annoy his keeper; never led asingle step towardsvirtueor guarded by a single precept againstvice. And from whatI heardJoseph contributed much to hisdeteriorationby a narrow-minded partiality which prompted him to flatterand pet himas aboybecause he was the head of the oldfamily. And as he had beenin the habit of accusing Catherine Earnshaw andHeathcliffwhenchildrenof putting the master past hispatienceand compellinghim to seek solace in drink by what he termedtheir 'offald ways'so at present he laid the whole burden ofHareton's faults on theshoulders of the usurper of his property. If the lad sworehewouldn't correct him: nor howeverculpably he behaved. It gaveJoseph satisfactionapparentlyto watch himgo the worst lengths:he allowed that the lad was ruined: thathis soul was abandoned toperdition; but then he reflected thatHeathcliff must answer forit. Hareton's blood would be required athis hands; and there layimmense consolation in that thought. Joseph had instilled into hima pride of nameand of his lineage; he wouldhad he daredhavefostered hate between him and the present ownerof the Heights:but his dread of that owner amounted tosuperstition; and heconfined his feelings regarding him to mutteredinnuendoes andprivate comminations. I don't pretend tobe intimately acquaintedwith the mode of living customary in those daysat WutheringHeights: I only speak from hearsay; for Isaw little. Thevillagers affirmed Mr. Heathcliff was NEARanda cruel hardlandlord to his tenants; but the houseinsidehad regained itsancient aspect of comfort under femalemanagementand the scenesof riot common in Hindley's time were not nowenacted within itswalls. The master was too gloomy to seekcompanionship with anypeoplegood or bad; and he is yet.
Thishoweveris not making progress with mystory. Miss Cathyrejected the peace-offering of the terrieranddemanded her owndogsCharlie and Phoenix. They camelimping and hanging theirheads; and we set out for homesadly out ofsortsevery one ofus. I could not wring from my little ladyhow she had spent theday; except thatas I supposedthe goal ofher pilgrimage wasPenistone Crags; and she arrived withoutadventure to the gate ofthe farm-housewhen Hareton happened to issueforthattended bysome canine followerswho attacked her train. They had a smartbattlebefore their owners could separatethem: that formed anintroduction. Catherine told Hareton whoshe wasand where shewas going; and asked him to show her the way: finallybeguilinghim to accompany her. He opened themysteries of the Fairy Caveand twenty other queer places. Butbeingin disgraceI was notfavoured with a description of the interestingobjects she saw. Icould gatherhoweverthat her guide had beena favourite till shehurt his feelings by addressing him as aservant; and Heathcliff'shousekeeper hurt hers by calling him hercousin. Then the languagehe had held to her rankled in her heart; shewho was always 'love'and 'darling' and 'queen' and 'angel' witheverybody at theGrangeto be insulted so shockingly by astranger! She did notcomprehend it; and hard work I had to obtain apromise that shewould not lay the grievance before her father. I explained how heobjected to the whole household at the Heightsand how sorry hewould be to find she had been there; but Iinsisted most on thefactthat if she revealed my negligence of hisordershe wouldperhaps be so angry that I should have toleave; and Cathy couldn'tbear that prospect: she pledged her wordand kept it for my sake.After allshe was a sweet little girl.
A LETTERedged with blackannounced the dayof my master'sreturnIsabella was dead; and he wrote to bidme get mourning forhis daughterand arrange a roomand otheraccommodationsfor hisyouthful nephew. Catherine ran wild withjoy at the idea ofwelcoming her father back; and indulged mostsanguine anticipationsof the innumerable excellencies of her 'real'cousin. The eveningof their expected arrival came. Sinceearly morning she had beenbusy ordering her own small affairs; and nowattired in her newblack frock - poor thing! her aunt's deathimpressed her with nodefinite sorrow - she obliged meby constantworryingto walkwith her down through the grounds to meet them.
'Linton is just six months younger than I am'she chatteredas westrolled leisurely over the swells and hollowsof mossy turfundershadow of the trees. 'How delightful itwill be to have him for aplayfellow! Aunt Isabella sent papa abeautiful lock of his hair;it was lighter than mine - more flaxenandquite as fine. I haveit carefully preserved in a little glass box;and I've oftenthought what a pleasure it would be to see itsowner. Oh! I amhappy - and papadeardear papa! ComeEllenlet us run! comerun.'
She ranand returned and ran againmany timesbefore my soberfootsteps reached the gateand then she seatedherself on thegrassy bank beside the pathand tried to waitpatiently; but thatwas impossible: she couldn't be still aminute.
'How long they are!' she exclaimed. 'AhI seesome dust on theroad - they are coming! No! Whenwill they be here? May we notgo a little way - half a mileEllenonly justhalf a mile? Dosay Yes: to that clump of birches at theturn!'
I refused staunchly. At length hersuspense was ended: thetravelling carriage rolled in sight. MissCathy shrieked andstretched out her arms as soon as she caughther father's facelooking from the window. He descendednearly as eager as herself;and a considerable interval elapsed ere theyhad a thought to sparefor any but themselves. While theyexchanged caresses I took apeep in to see after Linton. He wasasleep in a cornerwrapped ina warmfur-lined cloakas if it had beenwinter. A paledelicateeffeminate boywho might have beentaken for my master'syounger brotherso strong was theresemblance: but there was asickly peevishness in his aspect that EdgarLinton never had. Thelatter saw me looking; and having shaken handsadvised me to closethe doorand leave him undisturbed; for thejourney had fatiguedhim. Cathy would fain have taken oneglancebut her father toldher to comeand they walked together up theparkwhile I hastenedbefore to prepare the servants.
'Nowdarling' said Mr. Lintonaddressing hisdaughteras theyhalted at the bottom of the front steps: 'your cousin is not sostrong or so merry as you areand he has losthis motherremembera very short time since; thereforedon't expect him toplay and run about with you directly. Anddon't harass him much bytalking: let him be quiet this eveningat leastwill you?'
'Yesyespapa' answered Catherine: 'but I do want to see him;and he hasn't once looked out.'
The carriage stopped; and the sleeper beingrousedwas lifted tothe ground by his uncle.
'This is your cousin CathyLinton' he saidputting their littlehands together. 'She's fond of youalready; and mind you don'tgrieve her by crying to-night. Try to becheerful now; thetravelling is at an endand you have nothingto do but rest andamuse yourself as you please.'
'Let me go to bedthen' answered the boyshrinking fromCatherine's salute; and he put his fingers toremove incipienttears.
'Comecomethere's a good child' Iwhisperedleading him in.'You'll make her weep too - see how sorry sheis for you!'
I do not know whether it was sorrow for himbut his cousin put onas sad a countenance as himselfand returnedto her father. Allthree enteredand mounted to the librarywhere tea was laidready. I proceeded to remove Linton's capand mantleand placedhim on a chair by the table; but he was nosooner seated than hebegan to cry afresh. My master inquiredwhat was the matter.
'I can't sit on a chair' sobbed the boy.
'Go to the sofathenand Ellen shall bringyou some tea'answered his uncle patiently.
He had been greatly triedduring the journeyI felt convincedbyhis fretful ailing charge. Linton slowlytrailed himself offandlay down. Cathy carried a footstool andher cup to his side. Atfirst she sat silent; but that could not last: she had resolved tomake a pet of her little cousinas she wouldhave him to be; andshe commenced stroking his curlsand kissinghis cheekandoffering him tea in her saucerlike a baby. This pleased himforhe was not much better: he dried hiseyesand lightened into afaint smile.
'Ohhe'll do very well' said the master tomeafter watchingthem a minute. 'Very wellif we can keephimEllen. The companyof a child of his own age will instil newspirit into him soonandby wishing for strength he'll gain it.'
'Ayif we can keep him!' I mused to myself;and sore misgivingscame over me that there was slight hope ofthat. And thenIthoughthow ever will that weakling live atWuthering Heights?Between his father and Haretonwhat playmatesand instructorsthey'll be. Our doubts were presentlydecided - even earlier thanI expected. I had just taken the childrenup-stairsafter tea wasfinishedand seen Linton asleep - he would notsuffer me to leavehim till that was the case - I had come downand was standing bythe table in the halllighting a bedroomcandle for Mr. Edgarwhen a maid stepped out of the kitchen andinformed me that Mr.Heathcliff's servant Joseph was at the doorand wished to speakwith the master.
'I shall ask him what he wants first' I saidin considerabletrepidation. 'A very unlikely hour to betroubling peopleand theinstant they have returned from a longjourney. I don't think themaster can see him.'
Joseph had advanced through the kitchen as Iuttered these wordsand now presented himself in the hall. Hewas donned in his Sundaygarmentswith his most sanctimonious andsourest faceandholding his hat in one handand his stick inthe otherheproceeded to clean his shoes on the mat.
'Good-eveningJoseph' I saidcoldly. 'What business brings youhere to-night?'
'It's Maister Linton I mun spake to' heansweredwaving medisdainfully aside.
'Mr. Linton is going to bed; unless you havesomething particularto sayI'm sure he won't hear it now' Icontinued. 'You hadbetter sit down in thereand entrust yourmessage to me.'
'Which is his rahm?' pursued the fellowsurveying the range ofclosed doors.
I perceived he was bent on refusing mymediationso veryreluctantly I went up to the libraryandannounced theunseasonable visitoradvising that he shouldbe dismissed tillnext day. Mr. Linton had no time toempower me to do soforJoseph mounted close at my heelsandpushinginto the apartmentplanted himself at the far side of the tablewith his two fistsclapped on the head of his stickand began inan elevated toneasif anticipating opposition -
'Hathecliff has sent me for his ladand Imunn't goa back 'bouthim.'
Edgar Linton was silent a minute; an expressionof exceeding sorrowovercast his features: he would havepitied the child on his ownaccount; butrecalling Isabella's hopes andfearsand anxiouswishes for her sonand her commendations ofhim to his carehegrieved bitterly at the prospect of yieldinghim upand searchedin his heart how it might be avoided. Noplan offered itself: thevery exhibition of any desire to keep him wouldhave rendered theclaimant more peremptory: there wasnothing left but to resignhim. Howeverhe was not going to rousehim from his sleep.
'Tell Mr. Heathcliff' he answered calmly'that his son shall cometo Wuthering Heights to-morrow. He is inbedand too tired to gothe distance now. You may also tell himthat the mother of Lintondesired him to remain under my guardianship;andat presenthishealth is very precarious.'
'Noa!' said Josephgiving a thud with his propon the floorandassuming an authoritative air. 'Noa! thatmeans naught.Hathecliff maks noa 'count o' t' mothernor yenorther; but he'llheu' his lad; und I mun tak' him - soa now yeknaw!'
'You shall not to-night!' answered Lintondecisively. 'Walk downstairs at onceand repeat to your master whatI have said. Ellenshow him down. Go - '
Andaiding the indignant elder with a lift bythe armhe rid theroom of him and closed the door.
'Varrah weell!' shouted Josephas he slowlydrew off. 'To-mornhe's come hisselnand thrust HIM outif yedarr!'
TO obviate the danger of this threat beingfulfilledMr. Lintoncommissioned me to take the boy home earlyonCatherine's pony;andsaid he - 'As we shall now have noinfluence over his destinygood or badyou must say nothing of where heis gone to mydaughter: she cannot associate with himhereafterand it isbetter for her to remain in ignorance of hisproximity; lest sheshould be restlessand anxious to visit theHeights. Merely tellher his father sent for him suddenlyand hehas been obliged toleave us.'
Linton was very reluctant to be roused from hisbed at fiveo'clockand astonished to be informed that hemust prepare forfurther travelling; but I softened off thematter by stating thathe was going to spend some time with hisfatherMr. Heathcliffwho wished to see him so muchhe did not liketo defer thepleasure till he should recover from his latejourney.
'My father!' he criedin strange perplexity. 'Mamma never told meI had a father. Where does he live? I'd rather stay with uncle.'
'He lives a little distance from the Grange' Ireplied; 'justbeyond those hills: not so farbut youmay walk over here whenyou get hearty. And you should be glad togo homeand to see him.You must try to love himas you did yourmotherand then he willlove you.'
'But why have I not heard of him before?' askedLinton. 'Whydidn't mamma and he live togetheras otherpeople do?'
'He had business to keep him in the north' Ianswered'and yourmother's health required her to reside in thesouth.'
'And why didn't mamma speak to me about him?'persevered the child.'She often talked of uncleand I learnt tolove him long ago. Howam I to love papa? I don't know him.'
'Ohall children love their parents' I said. 'Your motherperhapsthought you would want to be with himif she mentioned himoften to you. Let us make haste. Anearly ride on such abeautiful morning is much preferable to anhour's more sleep.'
'Is SHE to go with us' he demanded'thelittle girl I sawyesterday?'
'Not now' replied I.
'Is uncle?' he continued.
'NoI shall be your companion there' I said.
Linton sank back on his pillow and fell into abrown study.
'I won't go without uncle' he cried atlength: 'I can't tellwhere you mean to take me.'
I attempted to persuade him of the naughtinessof showingreluctance to meet his father; still heobstinately resisted anyprogress towards dressingand I had to callfor my master'sassistance in coaxing him out of bed. Thepoor thing was finallygot offwith several delusive assurances thathis absence shouldbe short: that Mr. Edgar and Cathy wouldvisit himand otherpromisesequally ill-foundedwhich I inventedand reiterated atintervals throughout the way. The pureheather-scented airthebright sunshineand the gentle canter ofMinnyrelieved hisdespondency after a while. He began toput questions concerninghis new homeand its inhabitantswith greaterinterest andliveliness.
'Is Wuthering Heights as pleasant a place asThrushcross Grange?'he inquiredturning to take a last glance intothe valleywhencea light mist mounted and formed a fleecy cloudon the skirts of theblue.
'It is not so buried in trees' I replied'andit is not quite solargebut you can see the country beautifullyall round; and theair is healthier for you - fresher and drier. You willperhapsthink the building old and dark at first;though it is arespectable house: the next best in theneighbourhood. And youwill have such nice rambles on the moors. Hareton Earnshaw - thatisMiss Cathy's other cousinand so yours ina manner - will showyou all the sweetest spots; and you can bring abook in fineweatherand make a green hollow your study;andnow and thenyour uncle may join you in a walk: hedoesfrequentlywalk outon the hills.'
'And what is my father like?' he asked. 'Is he as young andhandsome as uncle?'
'He's as young' said I; 'but he has black hairand eyesand lookssterner; and he is taller and biggeraltogether. He'll not seem toyou so gentle and kind at firstperhapsbecause it is not hisway: stillmind yoube frank andcordial with him; and naturallyhe'll be fonder of you than any unclefor youare his own.'
'Black hair and eyes!' mused Linton. 'Ican't fancy him. Then Iam not like himam I?'
'Not much' I answered: not a morselIthoughtsurveying withregret the white complexion and slim frame ofmy companionand hislarge languid eyes - his mother's eyessavethatunless a morbidtouchiness kindled them a momentthey had nota vestige of hersparkling spirit.
'How strange that he should never come to seemamma and me!' hemurmured. 'Has he ever seen me? Ifhe hasI must have been ababy. I remember not a single thing abouthim!'
'WhyMaster Linton' said I'three hundredmiles is a greatdistance; and ten years seem very different inlength to a grown-upperson compared with what they do to you. It is probable Mr.Heathcliff proposed going from summer tosummerbut never found aconvenient opportunity; and now it is toolate. Don't trouble himwith questions on the subject: it willdisturb himfor no good.'
The boy was fully occupied with his owncogitations for theremainder of the ridetill we halted beforethe farmhouse garden-gate. I watched to catch his impressionsin his countenance. Hesurveyed the carved front and low-browedlatticesthe stragglinggooseberry-bushes and crooked firswith solemnintentnessandthen shook his head: his private feelingsentirely disapproved ofthe exterior of his new abode. But he hadsense to postponecomplaining: there might be compensationwithin. Before hedismountedI went and opened the door. It was half-past six; thefamily had just finished breakfast: theservant was clearing andwiping down the table. Joseph stood byhis master's chair tellingsome tale concerning a lame horse; and Haretonwas preparing forthe hayfield.
'HalloNelly!' said Mr. Heathcliffwhen hesaw me. 'I feared Ishould have to come down and fetch my propertymyself. You'vebrought ithave you? Let us see what wecan make of it.'
He got up and strode to the door: Haretonand Joseph followed ingaping curiosity. Poor Linton ran afrightened eye over the facesof the three.
'Sure-ly' said Joseph after a graveinspection'he's swopped wi'yeMaisteran' yon's his lass!'
Heathcliffhaving stared his son into an agueof confusionuttered a scornful laugh.
'God! what a beauty! what a lovelycharmingthing!' he exclaimed.'Hav'n't they reared it on snails and sourmilkNelly? Ohdamnmy soul! but that's worse than I expected - andthe devil knows Iwas not sanguine!'
I bid the trembling and bewildered child getdownand enter. Hedid not thoroughly comprehend the meaning ofhis father's speechor whether it were intended for him: indeedhe was not yetcertain that the grimsneering stranger washis father. But heclung to me with growing trepidation; and onMr. Heathcliff'staking a seat and bidding him 'come hither' hehid his face on myshoulder and wept.
'Tuttut!' said Heathcliffstretching out ahand and dragging himroughly between his kneesand then holding uphis head by thechin. 'None of that nonsense! We'renot going to hurt theeLinton - isn't that thy name? Thou artthy mother's childentirely! Where is my share in theepuling chicken?'
He took off the boy's cap and pushed back histhick flaxen curlsfelt his slender arms and his small fingers;during whichexamination Linton ceased cryingand liftedhis great blue eyes toinspect the inspector.
'Do you know me?' asked Heathcliffhavingsatisfied himself thatthe limbs were all equally frail and feeble.
'No' said Lintonwith a gaze of vacant fear.
'You've heard of meI daresay?'
'No' he replied again.
'No! What a shame of your motherneverto waken your filialregard for me! You are my sonthenI'lltell you; and yourmother was a wicked slut to leave you inignorance of the sort offather you possessed. Nowdon't winceand colour up! Though itis something to see you have not white blood. Be a good lad; andI'll do for you. Nellyif you be tiredyou may sit down; if notget home again. I guess you'll reportwhat you hear and see to thecipher at the Grange; and this thing won't besettled while youlinger about it.'
'Well' replied I'I hope you'll be kind tothe boyMr.Heathcliffor you'll not keep him long; andhe's all you have akinin the wide worldthat you will ever know -remember.'
'I'll be very kind to himyou needn't fear'he saidlaughing.'Only nobody else must be kind to him: I'm jealous of monopolisinghis affection. Andto begin my kindnessJosephbring the ladsome breakfast. Haretonyou infernalcalfbegone to your work.YesNell' he addedwhen they had departed'my son isprospective owner of your placeand I shouldnot wish him to dietill I was certain of being his successor. Besideshe's MINEandI want the triumph of seeing MY descendantfairly lord of theirestates; my child hiring their children to tilltheir fathers'lands for wages. That is the soleconsideration which can make meendure the whelp: I despise him forhimselfand hate him for thememories he revives! But thatconsideration is sufficient: he'sas safe with meand shall be tended ascarefully as your mastertends his own. I have a room up-stairsfurnished for him inhandsome style; I've engaged a tutoralsotocome three times aweekfrom twenty miles' distanceto teach himwhat he pleases tolearn. I've ordered Hareton to obey him: and in fact I'vearranged everything with a view to preserve thesuperior and thegentleman in himabove his associates. Ido regrethoweverthathe so little deserves the trouble: if Iwished any blessing in theworldit was to find him a worthy object ofpride; and I'mbitterly disappointed with the whey-facedwhining wretch!'
While he was speakingJoseph returned bearinga basin of milk-porridgeand placed it before Linton: who stirred round thehomely mess with a look of aversionandaffirmed he could not eatit. I saw the old man-servant sharedlargely in his master's scornof the child; though he was compelled to retainthe sentiment inhis heartbecause Heathcliff plainly meant hisunderlings to holdhim in honour.
'Cannot ate it?' repeated hepeering inLinton's faceandsubduing his voice to a whisperfor fear ofbeing overheard. 'ButMaister Hareton nivir ate naught elsewhen hewer a little 'un;and what wer gooid enough for him's gooidenough for yeI'srayther think!'
'I SHA'N'T eat it!' answered Lintonsnappishly. 'Take it away.'
Joseph snatched up the food indignantlyandbrought it to us.
'Is there aught ails th' victuals?' he askedthrusting the trayunder Heathcliff's nose.
'What should ail them?' he said.
'Wah!' answered Joseph'yon dainty chap sayshe cannut ate 'em.But I guess it's raight! His mother werjust soa - we wer a'mosttoo mucky to sow t' corn for makking herbreead.'
'Don't mention his mother to me' said themasterangrily. 'Gethim something that he can eatthat's all. What is his usual foodNelly?'
I suggested boiled milk or tea; and thehousekeeper receivedinstructions to prepare some. ComeIreflectedhis father'sselfishness may contribute to his comfort. He perceives hisdelicate constitutionand the necessity oftreating him tolerably.I'll console Mr. Edgar by acquainting him withthe turnHeathcliff's humour has taken. Having noexcuse for lingeringlongerI slipped outwhile Linton was engagedin timidlyrebuffing the advances of a friendlysheep-dog. But he was toomuch on the alert to be cheated: as Iclosed the doorI heard acryand 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: theydid not suffer him tocome forth. I mounted Minnyand urgedher to a trot; and so mybrief guardianship ended.
WE had sad work with little Cathy that day: she rose in high gleeeager to join her cousinand such passionatetears andlamentations followed the news of his departurethat Edgar himselfwas obliged to soothe herby affirming heshould come back soon:he addedhowever'if I can get him'; andthere were no hopes ofthat. This promise poorly pacified her;but time was more potent;and though still at intervals she inquired ofher father whenLinton would returnbefore she did see himagain his features hadwaxed so dim in her memory that she did notrecognise him.
When I chanced to encounter the housekeeper ofWuthering Heightsin paying business visits to GimmertonI usedto ask how the youngmaster got on; for he lived almost as secludedas Catherineherselfand was never to be seen. Icould gather from her that hecontinued in weak healthand was a tiresomeinmate. She said Mr.Heathcliff seemed to dislike him ever longerand worsethough hetook some trouble to conceal it: he hadan antipathy to the soundof his voiceand could not do at all with hissitting in the sameroom with him many minutes together. There seldom passed much talkbetween them: Linton learnt his lessonsand spent his evenings ina small apartment they called the parlour: or else lay in bed allday: for he was constantly gettingcoughsand coldsand achesand pains of some sort.
'And I never know such a faintheartedcreature' added the woman;'nor one so careful of hisseln. He WILLgo onif I leave thewindow open a bit late in the evening. Oh! it's killinga breathof night air! And he must have a fire inthe middle of summer; andJoseph's bacca-pipe is poison; and he mustalways have sweets anddaintiesand always milkmilk for ever -heeding naught how therest of us are pinched in winter; and therehe'll sitwrapped inhis furred cloak in his chair by the firewithsome toast andwater or other slop on the hob to sip at; andif Haretonfor pitycomes to amuse him - Hareton is notbad-naturedthough he's rough- they're sure to partone swearing and theother crying. Ibelieve the master would relish Earnshaw'sthrashing him to amummyif he were not his son; and I'm certainhe would be fit toturn him out of doorsif he knew half thenursing he giveshisseln. But then he won't go into dangerof temptation: he neverenters the parlourand should Linton showthose ways in the housewhere he ishe sends him up-stairs directly.'
I divinedfrom this accountthat utter lackof sympathy hadrendered young Heathcliff selfish anddisagreeableif he were notso originally; and my interest in himconsequentlydecayed:though still I was moved with a sense of griefat his lotand awish that he had been left with us. Mr.Edgar encouraged me togain information: he thought a great dealabout himI fancyandwould have run some risk to see him; and hetold me once to ask thehousekeeper whether he ever came into thevillage? She said he hadonly been twiceon horsebackaccompanying hisfather; and bothtimes he pretended to be quite knocked up forthree or four daysafterwards. That housekeeper leftif Irecollect rightlytwoyears after he came; and anotherwhom I didnot knowwas hersuccessor; she lives there still.
Time wore on at the Grange in its formerpleasant way till MissCathy reached sixteen. On the anniversaryof her birth we nevermanifested any signs of rejoicingbecause itwas also theanniversary of my late mistress's death. Her father invariablyspent that day alone in the library; andwalkedat duskas far asGimmerton kirkyardwhere he would frequentlyprolong his staybeyond midnight. Therefore Catherine wasthrown on her ownresources for amusement. This twentiethof March was a beautifulspring dayand when her father had retiredmyyoung lady camedown dressed for going outand said she askedto have a ramble onthe edge of the moor with me: Mr. Lintonhad given her leaveifwe went only a short distance and were backwithin the hour.
'So make hasteEllen!' she cried. 'Iknow where I wish to go;where a colony of moor-game are settled: I want to see whetherthey have made their nests yet.'
'That must be a good distance up' I answered;'they don't breed onthe edge of the moor.'
'Noit's not' she said. 'I've gone verynear with papa.'
I put on my bonnet and sallied outthinkingnothing more of thematter. She bounded before meandreturned to my sideand wasoff again like a young greyhound; andatfirstI found plenty ofentertainment in listening to the larks singingfar and nearandenjoying the sweetwarm sunshine; and watchinghermy pet and mydelightwith her golden ringlets flying loosebehindand herbright cheekas soft and pure in its bloom asa wild roseand hereyes radiant with cloudless pleasure. Shewas a happy creatureand an angelin those days. It's a pityshe could not be content.
'Well' said I'where are your moor-gameMissCathy? We shouldbe at them: the Grange park-fence is agreat way off now.'
'Oha little further - only a little furtherEllen' was heranswercontinually. 'Climb to thathillockpass that bankandby the time you reach the other side I shallhave raised thebirds.'
But there were so many hillocks and banks toclimb and passthatat lengthI began to be wearyand told her wemust haltandretrace our steps. I shouted to herasshe had outstripped me along way; she either did not hear or did notregardfor she stillsprang onand I was compelled to follow. Finallyshe dived intoa hollow; and before I came in sight of heragainshe was twomiles nearer Wuthering Heights than her ownhome; and I beheld acouple of persons arrest herone of whom Ifelt convinced was Mr.Heathcliff himself.
Cathy had been caught in the fact ofplunderingorat leasthunting out the nests of the grouse. TheHeights were Heathcliff'slandand he was reproving the poacher.
'I've neither taken any nor found any' shesaidas I toiled tothemexpanding her hands in corroboration ofthe statement. 'Ididn't mean to take them; but papa told methere were quantities uphereand I wished to see the eggs.'
Heathcliff glanced at me with an ill-meaningsmileexpressing hisacquaintance with the partyandconsequentlyhis malevolencetowards itand demanded who 'papa' was?
'Mr. Linton of Thrushcross Grange' shereplied. 'I thought youdid not know meor you wouldn't have spoken inthat way.'
'You suppose papa is highly esteemed andrespectedthen?' he saidsarcastically.
'And what are you?' inquired Catherinegazingcuriously on thespeaker. 'That man I've seen before. Is he your son?'
She pointed to Haretonthe other individualwho had gainednothing but increased bulk and strength by theaddition of twoyears to his age: he seemed as awkwardand rough as ever.
'Miss Cathy' I interrupted'it will be threehours instead of onethat we are outpresently. We reallymust go back.'
'Nothat man is not my son' answeredHeathcliffpushing measide. 'But I have oneand you have seenhim before too; andthough your nurse is in a hurryI think bothyou and she would bethe better for a little rest. Will youjust turn this nab ofheathand walk into my house? You'll gethome earlier for theease; and you shall receive a kind welcome.'
I whispered Catherine that she mustn'ton anyaccountaccede tothe proposal: it was entirely out of thequestion.
'Why?' she askedaloud. 'I'm tired ofrunningand the ground isdewy: I can't sit here. Let us goEllen. Besideshe says Ihave seen his son. He's mistakenIthink; but I guess where helives: at the farmhouse I visited incoming from Penistone' Crags.Don't you?'
'I do. ComeNellyhold your tongue - itwill he a treat for herto look in on us. Haretonget forwardswith the lass. You shallwalk with meNelly.'
'Noshe's not going to any such place' Icriedstruggling torelease my armwhich he had seized: butshe was almost at thedoor-stones alreadyscampering round the browat full speed. Herappointed companion did not pretend to escorther: he shied off bythe road-sideand vanished.
'Mr. Heathcliffit's very wrong' Icontinued: 'you know you meanno good. And there she'll see Lintonandall will be told as soonas ever we return; and I shall have the blame.'
'I want her to see Linton' he answered; 'he'slooking better thesefew days; it's not often he's fit to be seen. And we'll soonpersuade her to keep the visit secret: where is the harm of it?'
'The harm of it isthat her father would hateme if he found Isuffered her to enter your house; and I amconvinced you have a baddesign in encouraging her to do so' I replied.
'My design is as honest as possible. I'llinform you of its wholescope' he said. 'That the two cousinsmay fall in loveand getmarried. I'm acting generously to yourmaster: his young chit hasno expectationsand should she second mywishes she'll be providedfor at once as joint successor with Linton.'
'If Linton died' I answered'and his life isquite uncertainCatherine would be the heir.'
'Noshe would not' he said. 'There isno clause in the will tosecure it so: his property would go tome; butto preventdisputesI desire their unionand am resolvedto bring it about.'
'And I'm resolved she shall never approach yourhouse with meagain' I returnedas we reached the gatewhere Miss Cathy waitedour coming.
Heathcliff bade me be quiet; andpreceding usup the pathhastened to open the door. My young ladygave him several looksas if she could not exactly make up her mindwhat to think of him;but now he smiled when he met her eyeandsoftened his voice inaddressing her; and I was foolish enough toimagine the memory ofher mother might disarm him from desiring herinjury. Linton stoodon the hearth. He had been out walking inthe fieldsfor his capwas onand he was calling to Joseph to bringhim dry shoes. Hehad grown tall of his agestill wanting somemonths of sixteen.His features were pretty yetand his eye andcomplexion brighterthan I remembered themthough with merelytemporary lustreborrowed from the salubrious air and genialsun.
'Nowwho is that?' asked Mr. Heathcliffturning to Cathy. 'Canyou tell?'
'Your son?' she saidhaving doubtfullysurveyedfirst one andthen the other.
'Yesyes' answered he: 'but is this theonly time you havebeheld him? Think! Ah! you have ashort memory. Lintondon'tyou recall your cousinthat you used to teaseus so with wishingto see?'
'WhatLinton!' cried Cathykindling intojoyful surprise at thename. 'Is that little Linton? He'staller than I am! Are youLinton?'
The youth stepped forwardand acknowledgedhimself: she kissedhim ferventlyand they gazed with wonder atthe change time hadwrought in the appearance of each. Catherine had reached her fullheight; her figure was both plump and slenderelastic as steeland her whole aspect sparkling with health andspirits. Linton'slooks and movements were very languidand hisform extremelyslight; but there was a grace in his mannerthat mitigated thesedefectsand rendered him not unpleasing. After exchangingnumerous marks of fondness with himhis cousinwent to Mr.Heathcliffwho lingered by the doordividinghis attentionbetween the objects inside and those that laywithout: pretendingthat isto observe the latterand reallynoting the former alone.
'And you are my unclethen!' she criedreaching up to salute him.'I thought I liked youthough you were crossat first. Why don'tyou visit at the Grange with Linton? Tolive all these years suchclose neighboursand never see usis odd: what have you done sofor?'
'I visited it once or twice too often beforeyou were born' heanswered. 'There - damn it! If youhave any kisses to sparegivethem to Linton: they are thrown away onme.'
'Naughty Ellen!' exclaimed Catherineflying toattack me next withher lavish caresses. 'Wicked Ellen! totry to hinder me fromentering. But I'll take this walk everymorning in future: may Iuncle? and sometimes bring papa. Won'tyou be glad to see us?'
'Of course' replied the unclewith a hardlysuppressed grimaceresulting from his deep aversion to both theproposed visitors.'But stay' he continuedturning towards theyoung lady. 'Now Ithink of itI'd better tell you. Mr.Linton has a prejudiceagainst me: we quarrelled at one time ofour liveswithunchristian ferocity; andif you mentioncoming here to himhe'llput a veto on your visits altogether. Thereforeyou must notmention itunless you be careless of seeingyour cousin hereafter:you may comeif you willbut you must notmention it.'
'Why did you quarrel?' asked Catherineconsiderably crestfallen.
'He thought me too poor to wed his sister'answered Heathcliff'and was grieved that I got her: hispride was hurtand he'llnever forgive it.'
'That's wrong!' said the young lady: 'some time I'll tell him so.But Linton and I have no share in yourquarrel. I'll not comeherethen; he shall come to the Grange.'
'It will be too far for me' murmured hercousin: 'to walk fourmiles would kill me. Nocome hereMissCatherinenow and then:not every morningbut once or twice a week.'
The father launched towards his son a glance ofbitter contempt.
'I am afraidNellyI shall lose my labour'he muttered to me.'Miss Catherineas the ninny calls herwilldiscover his valueand send him to the devil. Nowif it hadbeen Hareton! - Do youknow thattwenty times a dayI covet Haretonwith all hisdegradation? I'd have loved the lad hadhe been some one else.But I think he's safe from HER love. I'llpit him against thatpaltry creatureunless it bestir itselfbriskly. We calculate itwill scarcely last till it is eighteen. Ohconfound the vapidthing! He's absorbed in drying his feetand never looks at her. -Linton!'
'Yesfather' answered the boy.
'Have you nothing to show your cousin anywhereaboutnot even arabbit or a weasel's nest? Take her intothe gardenbefore youchange your shoes; and into the stable to seeyour horse.'
'Wouldn't you rather sit here?' asked Lintonaddressing Cathy in atone which expressed reluctance to move again.
'I don't know' she repliedcasting a longinglook to the doorand evidently eager to be active.
He kept his seatand shrank closer to thefire. Heathcliff roseand went into the kitchenand from thence tothe yardcalling outfor Hareton. Hareton respondedandpresently the two re-entered.The young man had been washing himselfas wasvisible by the glowon his cheeks and his wetted hair.
'OhI'll ask YOUuncle' cried Miss Cathyrecollecting thehousekeeper's assertion. 'That is not mycousinis he?'
'Yes' hereplied'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 tiptoeandwhispered a sentencein Heathcliff's ear. He laughed; Haretondarkened: I perceived hewas very sensitive to suspected slightsandhad obviously a dimnotion of his inferiority. But his masteror guardian chased thefrown by exclaiming -
'You'll be the favourite among usHareton! She says you are a -What was it? Wellsomething veryflattering. Here! you go withher round the farm. And behave like agentlemanmind! Don't useany bad words; and don't stare when the younglady is not lookingat youand be ready to hide your face when sheis; andwhen youspeaksay your words slowlyand keep yourhands out of yourpockets. Be offand entertain her asnicely as you can.'
He watched the couple walking past the window. Earnshaw had hiscountenance completely averted from hiscompanion. He seemedstudying the familiar landscape with astranger's and an artist'sinterest. Catherine took a sly look athimexpressing smalladmiration. She then turned her attentionto seeking out objectsof amusement for herselfand tripped merrilyonlilting a tune tosupply the lack of conversation.
'I've tied his tongue' observed Heathcliff. 'He'll not venture asingle syllable all the time! Nellyyourecollect meat his age -naysome years younger. Did I ever lookso stupid: so"gaumless" as Joseph calls it?'
'Worse' I replied'because more sullen withit.'
'I've a pleasure in him' he continuedreflecting aloud. 'He hassatisfied my expectations. If he were aborn fool I should notenjoy it half so much. But he's no fool;and I can sympathise withall his feelingshaving felt them myself. I know what he suffersnowfor instanceexactly: it is merelya beginning of what heshall sufferthough. And he'll never beable to emerge from hisbathos of coarseness and ignorance. I'vegot him faster than hisscoundrel of a father secured meand lower;for he takes a pridein his brutishness. I've taught him toscorn everything extra-animal as silly and weak. Don't you thinkHindley would be proudof his sonif he could see him? almost asproud as I am of mine.But there's this difference; one is gold put tothe use of paving-stonesand the other is tin polished to ape aservice of silver.MINE has nothing valuable about it; yet I shallhave the merit ofmaking it go as far as such poor stuff can go. HIS had first-ratequalitiesand they are lost: renderedworse than unavailing. Ihave nothing to regret; he would have more thanany but I are awareof. And the best of it isHareton isdamnably fond of me! You'llown that I've outmatched Hindley there. If the dead villain couldrise from his grave to abuse me for hisoffspring's wrongsIshould have the fun of seeing the saidoffspring fight him backagainindignant that he should dare to rail atthe one friend hehas in the world!'
Heathcliff chuckled a fiendish laugh at theidea. I made no replybecause I saw that he expected none. Meantimeour youngcompanionwho sat too removed from us to hearwhat was saidbeganto evince symptoms of uneasinessprobablyrepenting that he haddenied himself the treat of Catherine's societyfor fear of alittle fatigue. His father remarked therestless glances wanderingto the windowand the hand irresolutelyextended towards his cap.
'Get upyou idle boy!' he exclaimedwithassumed heartiness.
'Away after them! they are just at the cornerby the stand ofhives.'
Linton gathered his energiesand left thehearth. The lattice wasopenandas he stepped outI heard Cathyinquiring of herunsociable attendant what was that inscriptionover the door?Hareton stared upand scratched his head likea true clown.
'It's some damnable writing' he answered. 'Icannot read it.'
'Can't read it?' cried Catherine; 'I can readit: it's English.But I want to know why it is there.'
Linton giggled: the first appearance ofmirth he had exhibited.
'He does not know his letters' he said to hiscousin. 'Could youbelieve in the existence of such a colossaldunce?'
'Is he all as he should be?' asked Miss Cathyseriously; 'or is hesimple: not right? I've questionedhim twice nowand each timehe looked so stupid I think he does notunderstand me. I canhardly understand himI'm sure!'
Linton repeated his laughand glanced atHareton tauntingly; whocertainly did not seem quite clear ofcomprehension at that moment.
'There's nothing the matter but laziness; isthereEarnshaw?' hesaid. 'My cousin fancies you are anidiot. There you experiencethe consequence of scorning "book-larning"as you would say. Haveyou noticedCatherinehis frightful Yorkshirepronunciation?'
'Whywhere the devil is the use on't?' growledHaretonmore readyin answering his daily companion. He wasabout to enlarge furtherbut the two youngsters broke into a noisy fitof merriment: mygiddy miss being delighted to discover that shemight turn hisstrange talk to matter of amusement.
'Where is the use of the devil in thatsentence?' tittered Linton.'Papa told you not to say any bad wordsandyou can't open yourmouth without one. Do try to behave likea gentlemannow do!'
'If thou weren't more a lass than a ladI'dfell thee this minuteI would; pitiful lath of a crater!' retortedthe angry boorretreatingwhile his face burnt with mingledrage andmortification! for he was conscious of beinginsultedandembarrassed how to resent it.
Mr. Heathcliff having overheard theconversationas well as Ismiled when he saw him go; but immediatelyafterwards cast a lookof singular aversion on the flippant pairwhoremained chatteringin the door-way: the boy findinganimation enough while discussingHareton's faults and deficienciesand relatinganecdotes of hisgoings on; and the girl relishing his pert andspiteful sayingswithout considering the ill-nature theyevinced. I began todislikemore than to compassionate Lintonandto excuse hisfather in some measure for holding him cheap.
We stayed till afternoon: I could nottear Miss Cathy away sooner;but happily my master had not quitted hisapartmentand remainedignorant of our prolonged absence. As wewalked homeI would fainhave enlightened my charge on the characters ofthe people we hadquitted: but she got it into her headthat I was prejudicedagainst them.
'Aha!' she cried'you take papa's sideEllen: you are partial Iknow; or else you wouldn't have cheated me somany years into thenotion that Linton lived a long way from here. I'm reallyextremely angry; only I'm so pleased I can'tshow it! But you musthold your tongue about MY uncle; he's my uncleremember; and I'llscold papa for quarrelling with him.'
And so she ran ontill I relinquished theendeavour to convinceher of her mistake. She did not mentionthe visit that nightbecause she did not see Mr. Linton. Nextday it all came outsadly to my chagrin; and still I was notaltogether sorry: Ithought the burden of directing and warningwould be moreefficiently borne by him than me. But hewas too timid in givingsatisfactory reasons for his wish that sheshould shun connectionwith the household of the HeightsandCatherine liked good reasonsfor every restraint that harassed her pettedwill.
'Papa!' she exclaimedafter the morning'ssalutations'guess whomI saw yesterdayin my walk on the moors. Ahpapayou started!you've not done righthave younow? Isaw - but listenand youshall hear how I found you out; and Ellenwhois in league withyouand yet pretended to pity me sowhen Ikept hopingand wasalways disappointed about Linton's comingback!'
She gave a faithful account of her excursionand its consequences;and my masterthough he cast more than onereproachful look at mesaid nothing till she had concluded. Thenhe drew her to himandasked if she knew why he had concealed Linton'snear neighbourhoodfrom her? Could she think it was to denyher a pleasure that shemight harmlessly enjoy?
'It was because you disliked Mr. Heathcliff'she answered.
'Then you believe I care more for my ownfeelings than yoursCathy?' he said. 'Noit was not becauseI disliked Mr.Heathcliffbut because Mr. Heathcliff dislikesme; and is a mostdiabolical mandelighting to wrong and ruinthose he hatesifthey give him the slightest opportunity. I knew that you could notkeep up an acquaintance with your cousinwithout being brought intocontact with him; and I knew he would detestyou on my account; sofor your own goodand nothing elseI tookprecautions that youshould not see Linton again. I meant toexplain this some time asyou grew olderand I'm sorry I delayed it.'
'But Mr. Heathcliff was quite cordialpapa'observed Catherinenot at all convinced; 'and he didn't object toour seeing eachother: he said I might come to his housewhen I pleased; only Imust not tell youbecause you had quarrelledwith himand wouldnot forgive him for marrying aunt Isabella. And you won't. YOUare the one to be blamed: he is willingto let us be friendsatleast; Linton and I; and you are not.'
My masterperceiving that she would not takehis word for heruncle-in-law's evil dispositiongave a hastysketch of his conductto Isabellaand the manner in which WutheringHeights became hisproperty. He could not bear to discourselong upon the topic; forthough he spoke little of ithe still felt thesame horror anddetestation of his ancient enemy that hadoccupied his heart eversince Mrs. Linton's death. 'She mighthave been living yetif ithad not been for him!' was his constant bitterreflection; andinhis eyesHeathcliff seemed a murderer. Miss Cathy - conversantwith no bad deeds except her own slight acts ofdisobedienceinjusticeand passionarising from hot temperandthoughtlessnessand repented of on the daythey were committed -was amazed at the blackness of spirit thatcould brood on and coverrevenge for yearsand deliberately prosecuteits plans without avisitation of remorse. She appeared sodeeply impressed andshocked at this new view of human nature -excluded from all herstudies and all her ideas till now - that Mr.Edgar deemed itunnecessary to pursue the subject. Hemerely added: 'You willknow hereafterdarlingwhy I wish you toavoid his house andfamily; now return to your old employments andamusementsandthink no more about them.'
Catherine kissed her fatherand sat downquietly to her lessonsfor a couple of hoursaccording to custom;then she accompaniedhim into the groundsand the whole day passedas usual: but inthe eveningwhen she had retired to her roomand I went to helpher to undressI found her cryingon herknees by the bedside.
'Ohfiesilly child!' I exclaimed. 'Ifyou had any real griefsyou'd be ashamed to waste a tear on this littlecontrariety. Younever had one shadow of substantial sorrowMiss Catherine.Supposefor a minutethat master and I weredeadand you were byyourself in the world: how would youfeelthen? Compare thepresent occasion with such an affliction asthatand be thankfulfor the friends you haveinstead of covetingmore.'
'I'm not crying for myselfEllen' sheanswered'it's for him.He expected to see me again to-morrowandthere he'll be sodisappointed: and he'll wait for meandI sha'n't come!'
'Nonsense!' said I'do you imagine he hasthought as much of youas you have of him? Hasn't he Hareton fora companion? Not one ina hundred would weep at losing a relation theyhad just seen twicefor two afternoons. Linton willconjecture how it isand troublehimself no further about you.'
'But may I not write a note to tell him why Icannot come?' sheaskedrising to her feet. 'And just sendthose books I promisedto lend him? His books are not as nice asmineand he wanted tohave them extremelywhen I told him howinteresting they were.May I notEllen?'
'Noindeed! noindeed!' replied I withdecision. 'Then he wouldwrite to youand there'd never be an end ofit. NoMissCatherinethe acquaintance must be droppedentirely: so papaexpectsand I shall see that it is done.'
'But how can one little note - ?' sherecommencedputting on animploring countenance.
'Silence!' I interrupted. 'We'll notbegin with your little notes.Get into bed.'
She threw at me a very naughty lookso naughtythat I would notkiss her good-night at first: I coveredher upand shut her doorin great displeasure; butrepenting half-wayI returned softlyand lo! there was Miss standing at the tablewith a bit of blankpaper before her and a pencil in her handwhich she guiltilyslipped out of sight on my entrance.
'You'll get nobody to take thatCatherine' Isaid'if you writeit; and at present I shall put out yourcandle.'
I set the extinguisher on the flamereceivingas I did so a slapon my hand and a petulant 'cross thing!' I then quitted her againand she drew the bolt in one of her worstmostpeevish humours.The letter was finished and forwarded to itsdestination by a milk-fetcher who came from the village; but that Ididn't learn tillsome time afterwards. Weeks passed onand Cathy recovered hertemper; though she grew wondrous fond ofstealing off to corners byherself and oftenif I came near her suddenlywhile readingshewould start and bend over the bookevidentlydesirous to hide it;and I detected edges of loose paper stickingout beyond the leaves.She also got a trick of coming down early inthe morning andlingering about the kitchenas if she wereexpecting the arrivalof something; and she had a small drawer in acabinet in thelibrarywhich she would trifle over for hoursand whose key shetook special care to remove when she left it.
One dayas she inspected this drawerIobserved that theplaythings and trinkets which recently formedits contents weretransmuted into bits of folded paper. Mycuriosity and suspicionswere roused; I determined to take a peep at hermysterioustreasures; soat nightas soon as she and mymaster were safeupstairsI searchedand readily found amongmy house keys onethat would fit the lock. Having openedIemptied the wholecontents into my apronand took them with meto examine at leisurein my own chamber. Though I could not butsuspectI was stillsurprised to discover that they were a mass ofcorrespondence -daily almostit must have been - from LintonHeathcliff: answersto documents forwarded by her. Theearlier dated were embarrassedand short; graduallyhoweverthey expandedinto copious love-lettersfoolishas the age of the writerrendered naturalyetwith touches here and there which I thoughtwere borrowed from amore experienced source. Some of themstruck me as singularly oddcompounds of ardour and flatness; commencing instrong feelingandconcluding in the affectedwordy style that aschoolboy might useto a fanciedincorporeal sweetheart. Whether they satisfied CathyI don't know; but they appeared very worthlesstrash to me. Afterturning over as many as I thought properItied them in ahandkerchief and set them asiderelocking thevacant drawer.
Following her habitmy young lady descendedearlyand visited thekitchen: I watched her go to the dooronthe arrival of a certainlittle boy; andwhile the dairymaid filled hiscanshe tuckedsomething into his jacket pocketand pluckedsomething out. Iwent round by the gardenand laid wait for themessenger; whofought valorously to defend his trustand wespilt the milkbetween us; but I succeeded in abstracting theepistle; andthreatening serious consequences if he did notlook sharp homeIremained under the wall and perused MissCathy's affectionatecomposition. It was more simple and moreeloquent than hercousin's: very pretty and very silly. I shook my headand wentmeditating into the house. The day beingwetshe could not divertherself with rambling about the park; soatthe conclusion of hermorning studiesshe resorted to the solace ofthe drawer. Herfather sat reading at the table; and Ionpurposehad sought abit of work in some unripped fringes of thewindow-curtainkeepingmy eye steadily fixed on her proceedings. Never did any birdflying back to a plundered nestwhich it hadleft brimful ofchirping young onesexpress more completedespairin itsanguished cries and flutteringsthan she byher single 'Oh!' andthe change that transfigured her late happycountenance. Mr.Linton looked up.
'What is the matterlove? Have you hurtyourself?' he said.
His tone and look assured her HE had not beenthe discoverer of thehoard.
'Nopapa!' she gasped. 'Ellen! Ellen!come up-stairs - I'm sick!'
I obeyed her summonsand accompanied her out.
'OhEllen! you have got them' she commencedimmediatelydroppingon her kneeswhen we were enclosed alone. 'Ohgive them to meand I'll nevernever do so again! Don'ttell papa. You have nottold papaEllen? say you have not? I'vebeen exceedingly naughtybut I won't do it any more!'
With a grave severity in my manner I bade herstand up.
'So' I exclaimed'Miss Catherineyou aretolerably far onitseems: you may well be ashamed of them! A fine bundle of trashyou study in your leisure hoursto be sure: whyit's good enoughto be printed! And what do you supposethe master will think whenI display it before him? I hav'n't shownit yetbut you needn'timagine I shall keep your ridiculous secrets. For shame! and youmust have led the way in writing suchabsurdities: he would nothave thought of beginningI'm certain.'
'I didn't! I didn't!' sobbed Cathyfitto break her heart. 'Ididn't once think of loving him till - '
'LOVING!' cried Ias scornfully as I couldutter the word.'LOVING! Did anybody ever hear the like! I might just as welltalk of loving the miller who comes once a yearto buy our corn.Pretty lovingindeed! and both times togetheryou have seen Lintonhardly four hours in your life! Now hereis the babyish trash.I'm going with it to the library; and we'll seewhat your fathersays to such LOVING.'
She sprang at her precious epistlesbut I holdthem above my head;and then she poured out further franticentreaties that I wouldburn them - do anything rather than show them. And being reallyfully as much inclined to laugh as scold - forI esteemed it allgirlish vanity - I at length relented in ameasureand asked-'If I consent to burn themwill you promisefaithfully neither tosend nor receive a letter againnor a book(for I perceive youhave sent him books)nor locks of hairnorringsnorplaythings?'
'We don't send playthings' cried Catherineher pride overcomingher shame.
'Nor anything at allthenmy lady?' I said. 'Unless you willhere I go.'
'I promiseEllen!' she criedcatching mydress. 'Ohput them inthe firedodo!'
But when I proceeded to open a place with thepoker the sacrificewas too painful to be borne. Sheearnestly supplicated that Iwould spare her one or two.
'One or twoEllento keep for Linton's sake!'
I unknotted the handkerchiefand commenceddropping them in froman angleand the flame curled up the chimney.
'I will have oneyou cruel wretch!' shescreameddarting her handinto the fireand drawing forth somehalf-consumed fragmentsatthe expense of her fingers.
'Very well - and I will have some to exhibit topapa!' I answeredshaking back the rest into the bundleandturning anew to thedoor.
She emptied her blackened pieces into theflamesand motioned meto finish the immolation. It was done; Istirred up the ashesandinterred them under a shovelful of coals; andshe mutelyand witha sense of intense injuryretired to herprivate apartment. Idescended to tell my master that the younglady's qualm of sicknesswas almost gonebut I judged it best for herto lie down a while.She wouldn't dine; but she reappeared at teapaleand red aboutthe eyesand marvellously subdued in outwardaspect. Next morningI answered the letter by a slip of paperinscribed'MasterHeathcliff is requested to send no more notesto Miss Lintonasshe will not receive them.' Andhenceforththe little boy camewith vacant pockets.
SUMMER drew to an endand early autumn: it was past Michaelmasbut the harvest was late that yearand a fewof our fields werestill uncleared. Mr. Linton and hisdaughter would frequently walkout among the reapers; at the carrying of thelast sheaves theystayed till duskand the evening happening tobe chill and dampmy master caught a bad coldthat settledobstinately on his lungsand confined him indoors throughout the wholeof the winternearlywithout intermission.
Poor Cathyfrightened from her little romancehad beenconsiderably sadder and duller since itsabandonment; and herfather insisted on her reading lessand takingmore exercise. Shehad his companionship no longer; I esteemed ita duty to supply itslackas much as possiblewith mine: aninefficient substitute;for I could only spare two or three hoursfrommy numerous diurnaloccupationsto follow her footstepsand thenmy society wasobviously less desirable than his.
On an afternoon in Octoberor the beginning ofNovember - a freshwatery afternoonwhen the turf and paths wererustling with moistwithered leavesand the cold blue sky was halfhidden by clouds -dark grey streamersrapidly mounting from thewestand bodingabundant rain - I requested my young lady toforego her ramblebecause I was certain of showers. Sherefused; and I unwillinglydonned a cloakand took my umbrella toaccompany her on a strollto the bottom of the park: a formal walkwhich she generallyaffected if low-spirited - and that sheinvariably was when Mr.Edgar had been worse than ordinarya thingnever known from hisconfessionbut guessed both by her and me fromhis increasedsilence and the melancholy of his countenance. She went sadly on:there was no running or bounding nowthoughthe chill wind mightwell have tempted her to race. And oftenfrom the side of my eyeI could detect her raising a handand brushingsomething off hercheek. I gazed round for a means ofdiverting her thoughts. Onone side of the road rose a highrough bankwhere hazels andstunted oakswith their roots half exposedheld uncertain tenure:the soil was too loose for the latter; andstrong winds had blownsome nearly horizontal. In summer MissCatherine delighted toclimb along these trunksand sit in thebranchesswinging twentyfeet above the ground; and Ipleased with heragility and herlightchildish heartstill considered itproper to scold everytime I caught her at such an elevationbut sothat she knew therewas no necessity for descending. Fromdinner to tea she would liein her breeze-rocked cradledoing nothingexcept singing old songs- my nursery lore - to herselfor watching thebirdsjointtenantsfeed and entice their young ones tofly: or nestling withclosed lidshalf thinkinghalf dreaminghappier than words canexpress.
'LookMiss!' I exclaimedpointing to a nookunder the roots ofone twisted tree. 'Winter is not hereyet. There's a littleflower up yonderthe last bud from themultitude of bluebells thatclouded those turf steps in July with a lilacmist. Will youclamber upand pluck it to show to papa?' Cathy stared a longtime at the lonely blossom trembling in itsearthy shelterandrepliedat length - 'NoI'll not touch it: but it looksmelancholydoes it notEllen?'
'Yes' I observed'about as starved andsuckless as you yourcheeks are bloodless; let us take hold of handsand run. You're solowI daresay I shall keep up with you.'
'No' she repeatedand continued saunteringonpausing atintervals to muse over a bit of mossor a tuftof blanched grassor a fungus spreading its bright orange amongthe heaps of brownfoliage; andever and anonher hand waslifted to her avertedface.
'Catherinewhy are you cryinglove?' I askedapproaching andputting my arm over her shoulder. 'Youmustn't cry because papahas a cold; be thankful it is nothing worse.'
She now put no further restraint on her tears;her breath wasstifled by sobs.
'Ohit will be something worse' she said. 'And what shall I dowhen papa and you leave meand I am bymyself? I can't forgetyour wordsEllen; they are always in my ear. How life will bechangedhow dreary the world will bewhenpapa and you are dead.'
'None can tell whether you won't die beforeus' I replied. 'It'swrong to anticipate evil. We'll hopethere are years and years tocome before any of us go: master isyoungand I am strongandhardly forty-five. My mother lived tilleightya canty dame tothe last. And suppose Mr. Linton I werespared till he saw sixtythat would be more years than you have countedMiss. And would itnot be foolish to mourn a calamity above twentyyears beforehand?'
'But Aunt Isabella was younger than papa' sheremarkedgazing upwith timid hope to seek further consolation.
'Aunt Isabella had not you and me to nurseher' I replied. 'Shewasn't as happy as Master: she hadn't asmuch to live for. Allyou need dois to wait well on your fatherand cheer him byletting him see you cheerful; and avoid givinghim anxiety on anysubject: mind thatCathy! I'll notdisguise but you might killhim if you were wild and recklessandcherished a foolishfanciful affection for the son of a person whowould be glad tohave him in his grave; and allowed him todiscover that you frettedover the separation he has judged it expedientto make.'
'I fret about nothing on earth except papa'sillness' answered mycompanion. 'I care for nothing incomparison with papa. And I'llnever - never - ohneverwhile I have mysensesdo an act or saya word to vex him. I love him better thanmyselfEllen; and Iknow it by this: I pray every night thatI may live after him;because I would rather be miserable than thathe should be: thatproves I love him better than myself.'
'Good words' I replied. 'But deeds mustprove it also; and afterhe is wellremember you don't forgetresolutions formed in thehour of fear.'
As we talkedwe neared a door that opened onthe road; and myyoung ladylightening into sunshine againclimbed up and seatedherself on the top of the wallreaching overto gather some hipsthat bloomed scarlet on the summit branches ofthe wild-rose treesshadowing the highway side: the lowerfruit had disappearedbutonly birds could touch the upperexcept fromCathy's presentstation. In stretching to pull themherhat fell off; and as thedoor was lockedshe proposed scrambling downto recover it. I bidher be cautious lest she got a falland shenimbly disappeared.But the return was no such easy matter: the stones were smooth andneatly cementedand the rose-bushes andblack-berry stragglerscould yield no assistance in re-ascending. Ilike a fooldidn'trecollect thattill I heard her laughing andexclaiming - 'Ellen!you'll have to fetch the keyor else I mustrun round to theporter's lodge. I can't scale theramparts on this side!'
'Stay where you are' I answered; 'I have mybundle of keys in mypocket: perhaps I may manage to open it;if notI'll go.'
Catherine amused herself with dancing to andfro before the doorwhile I tried all the large keys insuccession. I had applied thelastand found that none would do; sorepeating my desire thatshe would remain thereI was about to hurryhome as fast as Icouldwhen an approaching sound arrested me. It was the trot of ahorse; Cathy's dance stopped also.
'Who is that?' I whispered.
'EllenI wish you could open the door'whispered back mycompanionanxiously.
'HoMiss Linton!' cried a deep voice (therider's)'I'm glad tomeet you. Don't be in haste to enterforI have an explanation toask and obtain.'
'I sha'n't speak to youMr. Heathcliff'answered Catherine.'Papa says you are a wicked manand you hateboth him and me; andEllen says the same.'
'That is nothing to the purpose' saidHeathcliff. (He it was.)'I don't hate my sonI suppose; and it isconcerning him that Idemand your attention. Yes; you havecause to blush. Two or threemonths sincewere you not in the habit ofwriting to Linton?making love in playeh? You deservedboth of youflogging forthat! You especiallythe elder; and lesssensitiveas it turnsout. I've got your lettersand if yougive me any pertness I'llsend them to your father. I presume yougrew weary of theamusement and dropped itdidn't you? Wellyou dropped Lintonwith it into a Slough of Despond. He wasin earnest: in lovereally. As true as I livehe's dying foryou; breaking his heartat your fickleness: not figurativelybutactually. ThoughHareton has made him a standing jest for sixweeksand I have usedmore serious measuresand attempted tofrighten him out of hisidiotcyhe gets worse daily; and he'll beunder the sod beforesummerunless you restore him!'
'How can you lie so glaringly to the poorchild?' I called from theinside. 'Pray ride on! How can youdeliberately get up suchpaltry falsehoods? Miss CathyI'll knockthe lock off with astone: you won't believe that vilenonsense. You can feel inyourself it is impossible that a person shoulddie for love of astranger.'
'I was not aware there were eavesdroppers'muttered the detectedvillain. 'Worthy Mrs. DeanI like youbut I don't like yourdouble-dealing' he added aloud. 'Howcould YOU lie so glaringlyas to affirm I hated the "poor child"?and invent bugbear storiesto terrify her from my door-stones? Catherine Linton (the veryname warms me)my bonny lassI shall be fromhome all this week;go and see if have not spoken truth: dothere's a darling! Justimagine your father in my placeand Linton inyours; then thinkhow you would value your careless lover if herefused to stir astep to comfort youwhen your father himselfentreated him; anddon'tfrom pure stupidityfall into the sameerror. I swearonmy salvationhe's going to his graveand nonebut you can savehim!'
The lock gave way and I issued out.
'I swear Linton is dying' repeated Heathclifflooking hard at me.'And grief and disappointment are hastening hisdeath. Nellyifyou won't let her goyou can walk overyourself. But I shall notreturn till this time next week; and I thinkyour master himselfwould scarcely object to her visiting hercousin.'
'Come in' said Itaking Cathy by the arm andhalf forcing her tore-enter; for she lingeredviewing withtroubled eyes the featuresof the speakertoo stern to express his inwarddeceit.
He pushed his horse closeandbending downobserved - 'MissCatherineI'll own to you that I have littlepatience with Linton;and Hareton and Joseph have less. I'llown that he's with a harshset. He pines for kindnessas well aslove; and a kind word fromyou would be his best medicine. Don'tmind Mrs. Dean's cruelcautions; but be generousand contrive to seehim. He dreams ofyou day and nightand cannot be persuaded thatyou don't hate himsince you neither write nor call.'
I closed the doorand rolled a stone to assistthe loosened lockin holding it; and spreading my umbrellaIdrew my chargeunderneath: for the rain began to drivethrough the moaningbranches of the treesand warned us to avoiddelay. Our hurryprevented any comment on the encounter withHeathcliffas westretched towards home; but I divinedinstinctively thatCatherine's heart was clouded now in doubledarkness. Her featureswere so sadthey did not seem hers: sheevidently regarded whatshe had heard as every syllable true.
The master had retired to rest before we camein. Cathy stole tohis room to inquire how he was; he had fallenasleep. Shereturnedand asked me to sit with her in thelibrary. We took ourtea together; and afterwards she lay down onthe rugand told menot to talkfor she was weary. I got abookand pretended toread. As soon as she supposed me absorbedin my occupationsherecommenced her silent weeping: itappearedat presentherfavourite diversion. I suffered her toenjoy it a while; then Iexpostulated: deriding and ridiculing allMr. Heathcliff'sassertions about his sonas if I were certainshe would coincide.Alas! I hadn't skill to counteract theeffect his account hadproduced: it was just what he intended.
'You may be rightEllen' she answered; 'but Ishall never feel atease till I know. And I must tell Lintonit is not my fault that Idon't writeand convince him that I shall notchange.'
What use were anger and protestations againsther silly credulity?We parted that night - hostile; but next daybeheld me on the roadto Wuthering Heightsby the side of my wilfulyoung mistress'spony. I couldn't bear to witness hersorrow: to see her paledejected countenanceand heavy eyes: andI yieldedin the fainthope that Linton himself might proveby hisreception of ushowlittle of the tale was founded on fact.
THE rainy night had ushered in a misty morning- half frosthalfdrizzle - and temporary brooks crossed our path- gurgling from theuplands. My feet were thoroughly wetted;I was cross and low;exactly the humour suited for making the mostof these disagreeablethings. We entered the farm-house by thekitchen wayto ascertainwhether Mr. Heathcliff were really absent: because I put slightfaith in his own affirmation.
Joseph seemed sitting in a sort of elysiumalonebeside a roaringfire; a quart of ale on the table near himbristling with largepieces of toasted oat-cake; and his blackshort pipe in his mouth.Catherine ran to the hearth to warm herself. I asked if the masterwas in? My question remained so longunansweredthat I thoughtthe old man had grown deafand repeated itlouder.
'Na - ay!' he snarledor rather screamedthrough his nose. 'Na -ay! yah muh goa back whear yah coom frough.'
'Joseph!' cried a peevish voicesimultaneouslywith mefrom theinner room. 'How often am I to call you? There are only a few redashes now. Joseph! come this moment.'
Vigorous puffsand a resolute stare into thegratedeclared hehad no ear for this appeal. Thehousekeeper and Hareton wereinvisible; one gone on an errandand the otherat his workprobably. We knew Linton's tonesandentered.
'OhI hope you'll die in a garretstarved todeath!' said theboymistaking our approach for that of hisnegligent attendant.
He stopped on observing his error: hiscousin flew to him.
'Is that youMiss Linton?' he saidraisinghis head from the armof the great chairin which he reclined. 'No - don't kiss me: ittakes my breath. Dear me! Papa saidyou would call' continuedheafter recovering a little from Catherine'sembrace; while shestood by looking very contrite. 'Will youshut the doorif youplease? you left it open; and those - thoseDETESTABLE creatureswon't bring coals to the fire. It's socold!'
I stirred up the cindersand fetched ascuttleful myself. Theinvalid complained of being covered with ashes;but he had atiresome coughand looked feverish and illsoI did not rebukehis temper.
'WellLinton' murmured Catherinewhen hiscorrugated browrelaxed'are you glad to see me? Can Ido you any good?'
'Why didn't you come before?' he asked. 'You should have comeinstead of writing. It tired medreadfully writing those longletters. I'd far rather have talked toyou. NowI can neitherbear to talknor anything else. I wonderwhere Zillah is! Willyou' (looking at me) 'step into the kitchen andsee?'
I had received no thanks for my other service;and being unwillingto run to and fro at his behestI replied -'Nobody is out therebut Joseph.'
'I want to drink' he exclaimed fretfullyturning away. 'Zillahis constantly gadding off to Gimmerton sincepapa went: it'smiserable! And I'm obliged to come downhere - they resolved neverto hear me up-stairs.'
'Is your father attentive to youMasterHeathcliff?' I askedperceiving Catherine to be checked in herfriendly advances.
'Attentive? He makes them a little moreattentive at least' hecried. 'The wretches! Do you knowMiss Lintonthat bruteHareton laughs at me! I hate him! indeedI hate them all: theyare odious beings.'
Cathy began searching for some water; shelighted on a pitcher inthe dresserfilled a tumblerand brought it. He bid her add aspoonful of wine from a bottle on the table;and having swallowed asmall portionappeared more tranquiland saidshe was very kind.
'And are you glad to see me?' asked shereiterating her formerquestion and pleased to detect the faint dawnof a smile.
'YesI am. It's something new to hear avoice like yours!' hereplied. 'But I have been vexedbecauseyou wouldn't come. Andpapa swore it was owing to me: he calledme a pitifulshufflingworthless thing; and said you despised me; andif he had been in myplacehe would be more the master of theGrange than your fatherby this time. But you don't despise medo youMiss - ?'
'I wish you would say Catherineor Cathy'interrupted my younglady. 'Despise you? No! Nextto papa and EllenI love youbetter than anybody living. I don't loveMr. Heathcliffthough;and I dare not come when he returns: willhe stay away many days?'
'Not many' answered Linton; 'but he goes on tothe moorsfrequentlysince the shooting seasoncommenced; and you mightspend an hour or two with me in his absence. Do say you will. Ithink I should not be peevish with you: you'd not provoke meandyou'd always be ready to help mewouldn'tyou?'
'Yes" said Catherinestroking his longsoft hair: 'if I couldonly get papa's consentI'd spend half my timewith you. PrettyLinton! I wish you were my brother.'
'And then you would like me as well as yourfather?' observed hemore cheerfully. 'But papa says you wouldlove me better than himand all the worldif you were my wife; so I'drather you werethat.'
'NoI should never love anybody better thanpapa' she returnedgravely. 'And people hate their wivessometimes; but not theirsisters and brothers: and if you were thelatteryou would livewith usand papa would be as fond of you as heis of me.'
Linton denied that people ever hated theirwives; but Cathyaffirmed they didandin her wisdominstanced his own father'saversion to her aunt. I endeavoured tostop her thoughtlesstongue. I couldn't succeed tilleverything she knew was out.Master Heathcliffmuch irritatedasserted herrelation was false.
'Papa told me; and papa does not tellfalsehoods' she answeredpertly.
'MY papa scorns yours!' cried Linton. 'Hecalls him a sneakingfool.'
'Yours is a wicked man' retorted Catherine;'and you are verynaughty to dare to repeat what he says. He must be wicked to havemade Aunt Isabella leave him as she did.'
'She didn't leave him' said the boy; 'yousha'n't contradict me.'
'She did' cried my young lady.
'WellI'll tell you something!' said Linton. 'Your mother hatedyour father: now then.'
'Oh!' exclaimed Catherinetoo enraged tocontinue.
'And she loved mine' added he.
'You little liar! I hate you now!' shepantedand her face grewred with passion.
'She did! she did!' sang Lintonsinking intothe recess of hischairand leaning back his head to enjoy theagitation of theother disputantwho stood behind.
'HushMaster Heathcliff!' I said; 'that's yourfather's taletooI suppose.'
'It isn't: you hold your tongue!' heanswered. 'She didshe didCatherine! she didshe did!'
Cathybeside herselfgave the chair a violentpushand causedhim to fall against one arm. He wasimmediately seized by asuffocating cough that soon ended his triumph. It lasted so longthat it frightened even me. As to hiscousinshe wept with allher mightaghast at the mischief she haddone: though she saidnothing. I held him till the fitexhausted itself. Then he thrustme awayand leant his head down silently. Catherine quelled herlamentations alsotook a seat oppositeandlooked solemnly intothe fire.
'How do you feel nowMaster Heathcliff?' Iinquiredafter waitingten minutes.
'I wish SHE felt as I do' he replied: 'spitefulcruel thing!Hareton never touches me: he never struckme in his life. And Iwas better to-day: and there - ' hisvoice died in a whimper.
'I didn't strike you!' muttered Cathychewingher lip to preventanother burst of emotion.
He sighed and moaned like one under greatsufferingand kept it upfor a quarter of an hour; on purpose todistress his cousinapparentlyfor whenever he caught a stifledsob from her he putrenewed pain and pathos into the inflexions ofhis voice.
'I'm sorry I hurt youLinton' she said atlengthracked beyondendurance. 'But I couldn't have been hurtby that little pushandI had no idea that you couldeither: you're not muchare youLinton? Don't let me go home thinkingI've done you harm. Answer!speak to me.'
'I can't speak to you' he murmured; 'you'vehurt me so that Ishall lie awake all night choking with thiscough. If you had ityou'd know what it was; but YOU'LL becomfortably asleep while I'min agonyand nobody near me. I wonderhow you would like to passthose fearful nights!' And he began towail aloudfor very pityof himself.
'Since you are in the habit of passing dreadfulnights' I said'it won't be Miss who spoils your ease: you'd be the same had shenever come. Howevershe shall notdisturb you again; and perhapsyou'll get quieter when we leave you.'
'Must I go?' asked Catherine dolefullybendingover him. 'Do youwant me to goLinton?'
'You can't alter what you've done' he repliedpettishlyshrinkingfrom her'unless you alter it for the worse byteasing me into afever.'
'WellthenI must go?' she repeated.
'Let me aloneat least' said he; 'I can'tbear your talking.'
She lingeredand resisted my persuasions todeparture a tiresomewhile; but as he neither looked up nor spokeshe finally made amovement to the doorand I followed. Wewere recalled by ascream. Linton had slid from his seat onto the hearthstoneandlay writhing in the mere perverseness of anindulged plague of achilddetermined to be as grievous andharassing as it can. Ithoroughly gauged his disposition from hisbehaviourand saw atonce it would be folly to attempt humouringhim. Not so mycompanion: she ran back in terrorkneltdownand criedandsoothedand entreatedtill he grew quiet fromlack of breath: byno means from compunction at distressing her.
'I shall lift him on to the settle' I said'and he may roll aboutas he pleases: we can't stop to watchhim. I hope you aresatisfiedMiss Cathythat you are not theperson to benefit him;and that his condition of health is notoccasioned by attachment toyou. Nowthenthere he is! Comeaway: as soon as he knowsthere is nobody by to care for his nonsensehe'll be glad to liestill.'
She placed a cushion under his headandoffered him some water; herejected the latterand tossed uneasily on theformeras if itwere a stone or a block of wood. Shetried to put it morecomfortably.
'I can't do with that' he said; 'it's not highenough.'
Catherine brought another to lay above it.
'That's too high' murmured the provokingthing.
'How must I arrange itthen?' she askeddespairingly.
He twined himself up to heras she half kneltby the settleandconverted her shoulder into a support.
'Nothat won't do' I said. 'You'll becontent with the cushionMaster Heathcliff. Miss has wasted toomuch time on you already:we cannot remain five minutes longer.'
'Yesyeswe can!' replied Cathy. 'He'sgood and patient now.He's beginning to think I shall have fargreater misery than hewill to-nightif I believe he is the worse formy visit: and thenI dare not come again. Tell the truthabout itLinton; for Imusn't comeif I have hurt you.'
'You must cometo cure me' he answered. 'You ought to comebecause you have hurt me: you know youhave extremely! I was notas ill when you entered as I am at present -was I?'
'But you've made yourself ill by crying andbeing in a passion. - Ididn't do it all' said his cousin. 'Howeverwe'll be friendsnow. And you want me: you wouldwish to see me sometimesreally?'
'I told you I did' he replied impatiently. 'Sit on the settle andlet me lean on your knee. That's as mammaused to dowholeafternoons together. Sit quite still anddon't talk: but you maysing a songif you can sing; or you may say anice longinteresting ballad - one of those you promisedto teach me; or astory. I'd rather have a balladthough: begin.'
Catherine repeated the longest she couldremember. The employmentpleased both mightily. Linton would haveanotherand after thatanothernotwithstanding my strenuousobjections; and so they wenton until the clock struck twelveand we heardHareton in thecourtreturning for his dinner.
'And to-morrowCatherinewill you be hereto-morrow?' asked youngHeathcliffholding her frock as she rosereluctantly.
'No' I answered'nor next day neither.' Shehowevergave adifferent response evidentlyfor his foreheadcleared as shestooped and whispered in his ear.
'You won't go to-morrowrecollectMiss!' Icommencedwhen wewere out of the house. 'You are notdreaming of itare you?'
'OhI'll take good care' I continued: 'I'll have that lockmendedand you can escape by no way else.'
'I can get over the wall' she said laughing. 'The Grange is not aprisonEllenand you are not my gaoler. And besidesI'm almostseventeen: I'm a woman. And I'mcertain Linton would recoverquickly if he had me to look after him. I'm older than he isyouknowand wiser: less childisham Inot? And he'll soon do as Idirect himwith some slight coaxing. He's a pretty little darlingwhen he's good. I'd make such a pet ofhimif he were mine. Weshouldnever quarrelshould we after we wereused to each other?Don't you like himEllen?'
'Like him!' I exclaimed. 'Theworst-tempered bit of a sickly slipthat ever struggled into its teens. Happilyas Mr. Heathcliffconjecturedhe'll not win twenty. Idoubt whether he'll seespringindeed. And small loss to hisfamily whenever he dropsoff. And lucky it is for us that hisfather took him: the kinderhe was treatedthe more tedious and selfishhe'd be. I'm glad youhave no chance of having him for a husbandMiss Catherine.'
My companion waxed serious at hearing thisspeech. To speak of hisdeath so regardlessly wounded her feelings.
'He's younger than I' she answeredafter aprotracted pause ofmeditation'and he ought to live the longest: he will - he mustlive as long as I do. He's as strong nowas when he first cameinto the north; I'm positive of that. It's only a cold that ailshimthe same as papa has. You say papawill get betterand whyshouldn't he?'
'Wellwell' I cried'after allwe needn'ttrouble ourselves;for listenMiss- and mindI'll keep myword- if you attemptgoing to Wuthering Heights againwith orwithout meI shallinform Mr. Lintonandunless he allow ittheintimacy with yourcousin must not be revived.'
'It has been revived' muttered Cathysulkily.
'Must not be continuedthen' I said.
'We'll see' was her replyand she set off ata gallopleaving meto toil in the rear.
We both reached home before our dinner-time; mymaster supposed wehad been wandering through the parkandtherefore he demanded noexplanation of our absence. As soon as Ientered I hastened tochange my soaked shoes and stockings; butsitting such awhile atthe Heights had done the mischief. On thesucceeding morning I waslaid upand during three weeks I remainedincapacitated forattending to my duties: a calamity neverexperienced prior to thatperiodand neverI am thankful to saysince.
My little mistress behaved like an angel incoming to wait on meand cheer my solitude; the confinement broughtme exceedingly low.It is wearisometo a stirring active body: but few have slighterreasons for complaint than I had. Themoment Catherine left Mr.Linton's room she appeared at my bedside. Her day was dividedbetween us; no amusement usurped a minute: she neglected hermealsher studiesand her play; and she wasthe fondest nursethat ever watched. She must have had awarm heartwhen she lovedher father soto give so much to me. Isaid her days were dividedbetween us; but the master retired earlyand Igenerally needednothing after six o'clockthus the evening washer own. Poorthing! I never considered what she didwith herself after tea.And though frequentlywhen she looked in tobid me good-nightIremarked a fresh colour in her cheeks and apinkness over herslender fingersinstead of fancying the lineborrowed from a coldride across the moorsI laid it to the chargeof a hot fire in thelibrary.
AT the close of three weeks I was able to quitmy chamber and moveabout the house. And on the firstoccasion of my sitting up in theevening I asked Catherine to read to mebecause my eyes were weak.We were in the librarythe master having goneto bed: sheconsentedrather unwillinglyI fancied; andimagining my sort ofbooks did not suit herI bid her pleaseherself in the choice ofwhat she perused. She selected one of herown favouritesand gotforward steadily about an hour; then camefrequent questions.
'Ellenare not you tired? Hadn't youbetter lie down now? You'llbe sickkeeping up so longEllen.'
'NonodearI'm not tired' I returnedcontinually.
Perceiving me immovableshe essayed anothermethod of showing herdisrelish for her occupation. It changedto yawningandstretchingand -
'Give over then and talk' I answered.
That was worse: she fretted and sighedand looked at her watchtill eightand finally went to her roomcompletely overdone withsleep; judging by her peevishheavy lookandthe constant rubbingshe inflicted on her eyes. The followingnight she seemed moreimpatient still; and on the third fromrecovering my company shecomplained of a headacheand left me. Ithought her conduct odd;and having remained alone a long whileIresolved on going andinquiring whether she were betterand askingher to come and lieon the sofainstead of up-stairs in the dark. No Catherine couldI discover up-stairsand none below. Theservants affirmed theyhad not seen her. I listened at Mr.Edgar's door; all was silence.I returned to her apartmentextinguished mycandleand seatedmyself in the window.
The moon shone bright; a sprinkling of snowcovered the groundandI reflected that she mightpossiblyhavetaken it into her headto walk about the gardenfor refreshment. I did detect a figurecreeping along the inner fence of the park; butit was not my youngmistress: on its emerging into the lightI recognised one of thegrooms. He stood a considerable periodviewing the carriage-roadthrough the grounds; then started off at abrisk paceas if he haddetected somethingand reappeared presentlyleading Miss's pony;and there she wasjust dismountedand walkingby its side. Theman took his charge stealthily across the grasstowards the stable.Cathy entered by the casement-window of thedrawing-roomandglided noiselessly up to where I awaited her. She put the doorgently tooslipped off her snowy shoesuntiedher hatand wasproceedingunconscious of my espionageto layaside her mantlewhen I suddenly rose and revealed myself. The surprise petrifiedher an instant: she uttered aninarticulate exclamationand stoodfixed.
'My dear Miss Catherine' I begantoo vividlyimpressed by herrecent kindness to break into a scold'wherehave you been ridingout at this hour? And why should you tryto deceive me by tellinga tale? Where have you been? Speak!'
'To the bottom of the park' she stammered. 'I didn't tell atale.'
'And nowhere else?' I demanded.
'No' was the muttered reply.
'OhCatherine!' I criedsorrowfully. 'You know you have beendoing wrongor you wouldn't be driven touttering an untruth tome. That does grieve me. I'd ratherbe three months illthanhear you frame a deliberate lie.'
She sprang forwardand bursting into tearsthrew her arms roundmy neck.
'WellEllenI'm so afraid of you beingangry' she said.'Promise not to be angryand you shall knowthe very truth: Ihate to hide it.'
We sat down in the window-seat; I assured her Iwould not scoldwhatever her secret might beand I guessed itof course; so shecommenced -
'I've been to Wuthering HeightsEllenandI've never missed goinga day since you fell ill; except thrice beforeand twice after youleft your room. I gave Michael books andpictures to prepare Minnyevery eveningand to put her back in thestable: you mustn'tscold him eithermind. I was at theHeights by half-past sixandgenerally stayed till half-past eightand thengalloped home. Itwas not to amuse myself that I went: Iwas often wretched all thetime. Now and then I was happy: once in a week perhaps. AtfirstI expected there would be sad workpersuading you to let mekeep my word to Linton: for I had engagedto call again next daywhen we quitted him; butas you stayedup-stairs on the morrowIescaped that trouble. While Michael wasrefastening the lock ofthe park door in the afternoonI gotpossession of the keyandtold him how my cousin wished me to visit himbecause he was sickand couldn't come to the Grange; and how papawould object to mygoing: and then I negotiated with himabout the pony. He is fondof readingand he thinks of leaving soon toget married; so heofferedif I would lend him books out of thelibraryto do what Iwished: but I preferred giving him myownand that satisfied himbetter.
'On my second visit Linton seemed in livelyspirits; and Zillah(that is their housekeeper) made us a cleanroom and a good fireand told us thatas Joseph was out at aprayer-meeting and HaretonEarnshaw was off with his dogs - robbing ourwoods of pheasantsasI heard afterwards - we might do what weliked. She brought mesome warm wine and gingerbreadand appearedexceedingly good-naturedand Linton sat in the arm-chairand Iin the littlerocking chair on the hearth-stoneand welaughed and talked somerrilyand found so much to say: weplanned where we would goand what we would do in summer. I needn'trepeat thatbecause youwould call it silly.
'One timehoweverwe were near quarrelling. He said thepleasantest manner of spending a hot July daywas lying frommorning till evening on a bank of heath in themiddle of the moorswith the bees humming dreamily about among thebloomand the larkssinging high up overheadand the blue sky andbright sun shiningsteadily and cloudlessly. That was hismost perfect idea ofheaven's happiness: mine was rocking in arustling green treewith a west wind blowingand bright whiteclouds flitting rapidlyabove; and not only larksbut throstlesandblackbirdsandlinnetsand cuckoos pouring out music on everysideand the moorsseen at a distancebroken into cool duskydells; but close bygreat swells of long grass undulating in wavesto the breeze; andwoods and sounding waterand the whole worldawake and wild withjoy. He wanted all to lie in an ecstasyof peace; I wanted all tosparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven wouldbe only half alive; and he said mine would bedrunk: I said Ishould fall asleep in his; and he said he couldnot breathe inmineand began to grow very snappish. Atlastwe agreed to trybothas soon as the right weather came; andthen we kissed eachother and were friends.
'After sitting still an hourI looked at thegreat room with itssmooth uncarpeted floorand thought how niceit would be to playinif we removed the table; and I asked Lintonto call Zillah into help usand we'd have a game atblindman's-buff; she should tryto catch us: you used toyou knowEllen. He wouldn't: therewas no pleasure in ithe said; but heconsented to play at ballwith me. We found two in a cupboardamong a heap of old toystopsand hoopsand battledores andshuttlecocks. One was markedC.and the other H.; I wished to have the C.because that stoodfor Catherineand the H. might be forHeathcliffhis name; butthe bran came out of H.and Linton didn't likeit. I beat himconstantly: and he got cross againandcoughedand returned tohis chair. That nightthoughhe easilyrecovered his goodhumour: he was charmed with two or threepretty songs - YOURsongsEllen; and when I was obliged to gohebegged and entreatedme to come the following evening; and Ipromised. Minny and I wentflying home as light as air; and I dreamt ofWuthering Heights andmy sweetdarling cousintill morning.
'On the morrow I was sad; partly because youwere poorlyandpartly that I wished my father knewandapproved of my excursions:but it was beautiful moonlight after tea; andas I rode onthegloom cleared. I shall have another happyeveningI thought tomyself; and what delights me moremy prettyLinton will. Itrotted up their gardenand was turning roundto the backwhenthat fellow Earnshaw met metook my bridleand bid me go in bythe front entrance. He patted Minny'sneckand said she was abonny beastand appeared as if he wanted me tospeak to him. Ionly told him to leave my horse aloneor elseit would kick him.He answered in his vulgar accent"Itwouldn't do mitch hurt if itdid;" and surveyed its legs with a smile. I was half inclined tomake it try; howeverhe moved off to open thedoorandas heraised the latchhe looked up to theinscription aboveand saidwith a stupid mixture of awkwardness andelation: "Miss Catherine!I can read yonnow."
'"Wonderful" I exclaimed. "Pray let us hear you - you ARE grownclever!"
'He speltand drawled over by syllablesthename - "HaretonEarnshaw."
'"And the figures?" I criedencouraginglyperceiving that he cameto a dead halt.
'"I cannot tell them yet" heanswered.
'"Ohyou dunce!" I saidlaughingheartily at his failure.
'The fool staredwith a grin hovering abouthis lipsand a scowlgathering over his eyesas if uncertainwhether he might not joinin my mirth: whether it were not pleasantfamiliarityor what itreally wascontempt. I settled hisdoubtsby suddenly retrievingmy gravity and desiring him to walk awayfor Icame to see Lintonnot him. He reddened - I saw that by themoonlight - dropped hishand from the latchand skulked offa pictureof mortifiedvanity. He imagined himself to be asaccomplished as LintonIsupposebecause he could spell his own name;and was marvellouslydiscomfited that I didn't think the same.'
'StopMiss Catherinedear!' - I interrupted. 'I shall not scoldbut I don't like your conduct there. Ifyou had remembered thatHareton was your cousin as much as MasterHeathcliffyou wouldhave felt how improper it was to behave in thatway. At leastitwas praiseworthy ambition for him to desire tobe as accomplishedas Linton; and probably he did not learn merelyto show off: youhad made him ashamed of his ignorance beforeIhave no doubt; andhe wished to remedy it and please you. Tosneer at his imperfectattempt was very bad breeding. Had youbeen brought up in hiscircumstanceswould you be less rude? Hewas as quick and asintelligent a child as ever you were; and I'mhurt that he shouldbe despised nowbecause that base Heathcliffhas treated him sounjustly.'
'WellEllenyou won't cry about itwillyou?' she exclaimedsurprised at my earnestness. 'But waitand you shall hear if heconned his A B C to please me; and if it wereworth while beingcivil to the brute. I entered; Linton waslying on the settleandhalf got up to welcome me.
'"I'm ill to-nightCatherinelove"he said; "and you must haveall the talkand let me listen. Comeand sit by me. I was sureyou wouldn't break your wordand I'll make youpromise againbefore you go."
'I knew now that I mustn't tease himas he wasill; and I spokesoftly and put no questionsand avoidedirritating him in any way.I had brought some of my nicest books for him: he asked me to reada little of oneand I was about to complywhen Earnshaw burst thedoor open: having gathered venom withreflection. He advanceddirect to usseized Linton by the armandswung him off the seat.
'"Get to thy own room!" he saidin avoice almost inarticulatewith passion; and his face looked swelled andfurious. "Take herthere if she comes to see thee: thoushalln't keep me out of this.Begone wi' ye both!"
'He swore at usand left Linton no time toanswernearly throwinghim into the kitchen; and he clenched his fistas I followedseemingly longing to knock me down. I wasafraid for a momentandI let one volume fall; he kicked it after meand shut us out. Iheard a malignantcrackly laugh by the fireand turningbeheldthat odious Joseph standing rubbing his bonyhandsand quivering.
'"I wer sure he'd sarve ye out! He'sa grand lad! He's getten t'raight sperrit in him! HE knaws - ayheknawsas weel as I dowho sud be t' maister yonder - Echechech! He made ye skiftproperly! Echechech!"
'"Where must we go?" I asked of mycousindisregarding the oldwretch's mockery.
'Linton was white and trembling. He wasnot pretty thenEllen:ohno! he looked frightful; for his thin faceand large eyes werewrought into an expression of franticpowerless fury. He graspedthe handle of the doorand shook it: itwas fastened inside.
'"If you don't let me inI'll kill you! -If you don't let me inI'll kill you!" he rather shrieked thansaid. "Devil! devil! -I'll kill you - I'll kill you!"
Joseph uttered his croaking laugh again.
'"Thearthat's t' father!" hecried. "That's father! We've allassummut o' either side in us. Niver heedHaretonlad - dunnut be'feard - he cannot get at thee!"
'I took hold of Linton's handsand tried topull him away; but heshrieked so shockingly that I dared notproceed. At last his crieswere choked by a dreadful fit of coughing;blood gushed from hismouthand he fell on the ground. I raninto the yardsick withterror; and called for Zillahas loud as Icould. She soon heardme: she was milking the cows in a shedbehind the barnandhurrying from her workshe inquired what therewas to do? Ihadn't breath to explain; dragging her inIlooked about forLinton. Earnshaw had come out to examinethe mischief he hadcausedand he was then conveying the poorthing up-stairs. Zillahand I ascended after him; but he stopped me atthe top of thestepsand said I shouldn't go in: I mustgo home. I exclaimedthat he had killed Lintonand I WOULD enter. Joseph locked thedoorand declared I should do "no sichstuff" and asked mewhether I were "bahn to be as mad ashim." I stood crying till thehousekeeper reappeared. She affirmed hewould be better in a bitbut he couldn't do with that shrieking and din;and she took meand nearly carried me into the house.
'EllenI was ready to tear my hair off myhead! I sobbed and weptso that my eyes were almost blind; and theruffian you have suchsympathy with stood opposite: presumingevery now and then to bidme "wisht" and denying that it washis fault; andfinallyfrightened by my assertions that I would tellpapaand that heshould be put in prison and hangedhecommenced blubberinghimselfand hurried out to hide his cowardlyagitation. StillIwas not rid of him: when at length theycompelled me to departand I had got some hundred yards off thepremiseshe suddenlyissued from the shadow of the road-sideandchecked Minny and tookhold of me.
'"Miss CatherineI'm ill grieved"he began"but it's rayther toobad - "
'I gave him a cut with my whipthinkingperhaps he would murderme. He let gothundering one of hishorrid cursesand I gallopedhome more than half out of my senses.
'I didn't bid you good-night that eveningandI didn't go toWuthering Heights the next: I wished togo exceedingly; but I wasstrangely excitedand dreaded to hear thatLinton was deadsometimes; and sometimes shuddered at thethought of encounteringHareton. On the third day I tookcourage: at leastI couldn'tbear longer suspenseand stole off once more. I went at fiveo'clockand walked; fancying I might manage tocreep into thehouseand up to Linton's roomunobserved. Howeverthe dogs gavenotice of my approach. Zillah receivedmeand saying "the lad wasmending nicely" showed me into a smalltidycarpeted apartmentwhereto my inexpressible joyI beheld Lintonlaid on a littlesofareading one of my books. But hewould neither speak to menor look at methrough a whole hourEllen: he has such anunhappy temper. And what quite confoundedmewhen he did open hismouthit was to utter the falsehood that I hadoccasioned theuproarand Hareton was not to blame! Unable to replyexceptpassionatelyI got up and walked from theroom. He sent after mea faint "Catherine!" He did notreckon on being answered so: butI wouldn't turn back; and the morrow was thesecond day on which Istayed at homenearly determined to visit himno more. But it wasso miserable going to bed and getting upandnever hearinganything about himthat my resolution meltedinto air before itwas properly formed. It had appearedwrong to take the journeyonce; now it seemed wrong to refrain. Michael came to ask if hemust saddle Minny; I said "Yes" andconsidered myself doing a dutyas she bore me over the hills. I wasforced to pass the frontwindows to get to the court: it was nouse trying to conceal mypresence.
'"Young master is in the house" saidZillahas she saw me makingfor the parlour. I went in; Earnshaw wasthere alsobut hequitted the room directly. Linton sat inthe great arm-chair halfasleep; walking up to the fireI began in aserious tonepartlymeaning it to be true -
'"As you don't like meLintonand as youthink I come on purposeto hurt youand pretend that I do so everytimethis is our lastmeeting: let us say good-bye; and tellMr. Heathcliff that youhave no wish to see meand that he mustn'tinvent any morefalsehoods on the subject."
'"Sit down and take your hat offCatherine" he answered. "Youare so much happier than I amyou ought to bebetter. Papa talksenough of my defectsand shows enough scorn ofmeto make itnatural I should doubt myself. I doubtwhether I am not altogetheras worthless as he calls mefrequently; andthen I feel so crossand bitterI hate everybody! I amworthlessand bad in temperand bad in spiritalmost always; andif youchooseyou may saygood-bye: you'll get rid of anannoyance. OnlyCatherinedo methis justice: believe that if I might beas sweetand as kindand as good as you areI would be; aswillinglyand more sothanas happy and as healthy. And believe thatyour kindness has mademe love you deeper than if I deserved yourlove: and though Icouldn'tand cannot help showing my nature toyouI regret it andrepent it; and shall regret and repent it tillI die!"
'I felt he spoke the truth; and I felt I mustforgive him: andthough we should quarrel the next momentImust forgive him again.We were reconciled; but we criedboth of usthe whole time Istayed: not entirely for sorrow; yet IWAS sorry Linton had thatdistorted nature. He'll never let hisfriends be at easeandhe'll never be at ease himself! I havealways gone to his littleparloursince that night; because his fatherreturned the dayafter.
'About three timesI thinkwe have been merryand hopefulas wewere the first evening; the rest of my visitswere dreary andtroubled: now with his selfishness andspiteand now with hissufferings: but I've learned to endurethe former with nearly aslittle resentment as the latter. Mr.Heathcliff purposely avoidsme: I have hardly seen him at all. Last Sundayindeedcomingearlier than usualI heard him abusing poorLinton cruelly for hisconduct of the night before. I can't tellhow he knew of itunless he listened. Linton had certainlybehaved provokingly:howeverit was the business of nobody but meand I interruptedMr. Heathcliff's lecture by entering andtelling him so. He burstinto a laughand went awaysaying he was gladI took that view ofthe matter. Since thenI've told Lintonhe must whisper hisbitter things. NowEllenyou have heardall. I can't beprevented from going to Wuthering Heightsexcept by inflictingmisery on two people; whereasif you'll onlynot tell papamygoing need disturb the tranquillity of none. You'll not tellwillyou? It will be very heartlessif youdo.'
'I'll make up my mind on that point byto-morrowMiss Catherine'I replied. 'It requires some study; andso I'll leave you to yourrestand go think it over.'
I thought it over aloudin my master'spresence; walking straightfrom her room to hisand relating the wholestory: with theexception of her conversations with her cousinand any mention ofHareton. Mr. Linton was alarmed anddistressedmore than he wouldacknowledge to me. In the morningCatherine learnt my betrayal ofher confidenceand she learnt also that hersecret visits were toend. In vain she wept and writhed againstthe interdictandimplored her father to have pity on Linton: all she got to comforther was a promise that he would write and givehim leave to come tothe Grange when he pleased; but explaining thathe must no longerexpect to see Catherine at Wuthering Heights. Perhapshad he beenaware of his nephew's disposition and state ofhealthhe wouldhave seen fit to withhold even that slightconsolation.
'THESE things happened last wintersir' saidMrs. Dean; 'hardlymore than a year ago. Last winterI didnot thinkat anothertwelve months' endI should be amusing astranger to the familywith relating them! Yetwho knows howlong you'll be a stranger?You're too young to rest always contentedliving by yourself; andI some way fancy no one could see CatherineLinton and not loveher. You smile; but why do you look solively and interested whenI talk about her? and why have you asked me tohang her pictureover your fireplace? and why - ?'
'Stopmy good friend!' I cried. 'It maybe very possible that Ishould love her; but would she love me? Idoubt it too much toventure my tranquillity by running intotemptation: and then myhome is not here. I'm of the busy worldand to its arms I mustreturn. Go on. Was Catherineobedient to her father's commands?'
'She was' continued the housekeeper. 'Her affection for him wasstill the chief sentiment in her heart; and hespoke without anger:he spoke in the deep tenderness of one about toleave his treasureamid perils and foeswhere his rememberedwords would be the onlyaid that he could bequeath to guide her. He said to mea few daysafterwards"I wish my nephew would writeEllenor call. Tellmesincerelywhat you think of him: ishe changed for thebetteror is there a prospect of improvementas he grows a man?"
'"He's very delicatesir" Ireplied; "and scarcely likely toreach manhood: but this I can sayhedoes not resemble hisfather; and if Miss Catherine had themisfortune to marry himhewould not be beyond her control: unlessshe were extremely andfoolishly indulgent. Howevermasteryou'll have plenty of timeto get acquainted with him and see whether hewould suit her: itwants four years and more to his being ofage."'
Edgar sighed; andwalking to the windowlooked out towardsGimmerton Kirk. It was a misty afternoonbut the February sunshone dimlyand we could just distinguish thetwo fir-trees in theyardand the sparely-scattered gravestones.
'I've prayed often' he half soliloquised'forthe approach ofwhat is coming; and now I begin to shrinkandfear it. I thoughtthe memory of the hour I came down that glen abridegroom would beless sweet than the anticipation that I wassoonin a few monthsorpossiblyweeksto be carried upand laidin its lonelyhollow! EllenI've been very happy withmy little Cathy: throughwinter nights and summer days she was a livinghope at my side.But I've been as happy musing by myself amongthose stonesunderthat old church: lyingthrough the longJune eveningson thegreen mound of her mother's graveand wishing- yearning for thetime when I might lie beneath it. Whatcan I do for Cathy? Howmust I quit her? I'd not care one momentfor Linton beingHeathcliff's son; nor for his taking her frommeif he couldconsole her for my loss. I'd not carethat Heathcliff gained hisendsand triumphed in robbing me of my lastblessing! But shouldLinton be unworthy - only a feeble tool to hisfather - I cannotabandon her to him! Andhard though itbe to crush her buoyantspiritI must persevere in making her sadwhile I liveandleaving her solitary when I die. Darling! I'd rather resign herto Godand lay her in the earth before me.'
'Resign her to God as it issir' I answered'and if we shouldlose you - which may He forbid - under HisprovidenceI'll standher friend and counsellor to the last. Miss Catherine is a goodgirl: I don't fear that she will gowilfully wrong; and people whodo their duty are always finally rewarded.'
Spring advanced; yet my master gathered no realstrengththough heresumed his walks in the grounds with hisdaughter. To herinexperienced notionsthis itself was a signof convalescence; andthen his cheek was often flushedand his eyeswere bright; shefelt sure of his recovering. On herseventeenth birthdayhe didnot visit the churchyard: it was rainingand I observed - 'You'llsurely not go out to-nightsir?'
He answered- 'NoI'll defer it this year alittle longer.' Hewrote again to Lintonexpressing his greatdesire to see him; andhad the invalid been presentableI've no doubthis father wouldhave permitted him to come. As it wasbeing instructedhereturned an answerintimating that Mr.Heathcliff objected to hiscalling at the Grange; but his uncle's kindremembrance delightedhimand he hoped to meet him sometimes in hisramblesandpersonally to petition that his cousin and hemight not remain longso utterly divided.
That part of his letter was simpleandprobably his own.Heathcliff knew he could plead eloquently forCatherine's companythen.
'I do not ask' he said'that she may visithere; but am I neverto see herbecause my father forbids me to goto her homeand youforbid her to come to mine? Donow andthenride with hertowards the Heights; and let us exchange a fewwordsin yourpresence! We have done nothing to deservethis separation; and youare not angry with me: you have no reasonto dislike meyouallowyourself. Dear uncle! send me akind note to-morrowandleave to join you anywhere you pleaseexceptat ThrushcrossGrange. I believe an interview wouldconvince you that my father'scharacter is not mine: he affirms I ammore your nephew than hisson; and though I have faults which render meunworthy ofCatherineshe has excused themand for hersakeyou should also.You inquire after my health - it is better; butwhile I remain cutoff from all hopeand doomed to solitudeorthe society of thosewho never did and never will like mehow can Ibe cheerful andwell?'
Edgarthough he felt for the boycould notconsent to grant hisrequest; because he could not accompanyCatherine. He saidinsummerperhapsthey might meet: meantimehe wished him tocontinue writing at intervalsand engaged togive him what adviceand comfort he was able by letter; being wellaware of his hardposition in his family. Linton complied;and had he beenunrestrainedwould probably have spoiled allby filling hisepistles with complaints and lamentations. buthis father kept asharp watch over him; andof courseinsistedon every line thatmy master sent being shown; soinstead ofpenning his peculiarpersonal sufferings and distressesthe themesconstantly uppermostin his thoughtshe harped on the cruelobligation of being heldasunder from his friend and love; and gentlyintimated that Mr.Linton must allow an interview soonor heshould fear he waspurposely deceiving him with empty promises.
Cathy was a powerful ally at home; and betweenthem they at lengthpersuaded my master to acquiesce in theirhaving a ride or a walktogether about once a weekunder myguardianshipand on the moorsnearest the Grange: for June found himstill declining. Though hehad set aside yearly a portion of his incomefor my young lady'sfortunehe had a natural desire that she mightretain - or atleast return in a short time to - the house ofher ancestors; andhe considered her only prospect of doing thatwas by a union withhis heir; he had no idea that the latter wasfailing almost as fastas himself; nor had any oneI believe: no doctor visited theHeightsand no one saw Master Heathcliff tomake report of hiscondition among us. Ifor my partbeganto fancy my forebodingswere falseand that he must be actuallyrallyingwhen hementioned riding and walking on the moorsandseemed so earnest inpursuing his object. I could not picturea father treating a dyingchild as tyrannically and wickedly as Iafterwards learnedHeathcliff had treated himto compel thisapparent eagerness: hisefforts redoubling the more imminently hisavaricious and unfeelingplans were threatened with defeat by death.
SUMMER was already past its primewhen Edgarreluctantly yieldedhis assent to their entreatiesand Catherineand I set out on ourfirst ride to join her cousin. It was aclosesultry day: devoidof sunshinebut with a sky too dappled andhazy to threaten rain:and our place of meeting had been fixed at theguide-stoneby thecross-roads. On arriving therehowevera little herd-boydespatched as a messengertold us that-'Maister Linton wer justo' this side th' Heights: and he'd bemitch obleeged to us to gangon a bit further.'
'Then Master Linton has forgot the firstinjunction of his uncle'I observed: 'he bid us keep on the Grangelandand here we areoff at once.'
'Wellwe'll turn our horses' heads round whenwe reach him'answered my companion; 'our excursion shall lietowards home.'
But when we reached himand that was scarcelya quarter of a milefrom his own doorwe found he had no horse;and we were forced todismountand leave ours to graze. He layon the heathawaitingour approachand did not rise till we camewithin a few yards.Then he walked so feeblyand looked so palethat I immediatelyexclaimed- 'WhyMaster Heathcliffyou arenot fit for enjoyinga ramble this morning. How ill you dolook!'
Catherine surveyed him with grief andastonishment: she changedthe ejaculation of joy on her lips to one ofalarm; and thecongratulation on their long-postponed meetingto an anxiousinquirywhether he were worse than usual?
'No - better - better!' he pantedtremblingand retaining herhand as if he needed its supportwhile hislarge blue eyeswandered timidly over her; the hollowness roundthem transformingto haggard wildness the languid expression theyonce possessed.
'But you have been worse' persisted hiscousin; 'worse than when Isaw you last; you are thinnerand - '
'I'm tired' he interruptedhurriedly. 'Itis too hot forwalkinglet us rest here. Andin themorningI often feel sick- papa says I grow so fast.'
Badly satisfiedCathy sat downand hereclined beside her.
'This is something like your paradise' saidshemaking an effortat cheerfulness. 'You recollect the twodays we agreed to spend inthe place and way each thought pleasantest? This is nearly yoursonly there are clouds; but then they are sosoft and mellow: it isnicer than sunshine. Next weekif youcanwe'll ride down to theGrange Parkand try mine.'
Linton did not appear to remember what shetalked of and he hadevidently great difficulty in sustaining anykind of conversation.His lack of interest in the subjects shestartedand his equalincapacity to contribute to her entertainmentwere so obvious thatshe could not conceal her disappointment. An indefinite alterationhad come over his whole person and manner. The pettishness thatmight be caressed into fondnesshad yielded toa listless apathy;there was less of the peevish temper of a childwhich frets andteases on purpose to be soothedand more ofthe self-absorbedmoroseness of a confirmed invalidrepellingconsolationand readyto regard the good-humoured mirth of others asan insult.Catherine perceivedas well as I didthat heheld it rather apunishmentthan a gratificationto endure ourcompany; and shemade no scruple of proposingpresentlytodepart. That proposalunexpectedlyroused Linton from his lethargyand threw him into astrange state of agitation. He glancedfearfully towards theHeightsbegging she would remain anotherhalf-hourat least.
'But I think' said Cathy'you'd be morecomfortable at home thansitting here; and I cannot amuse you to-dayIseeby my talesand songsand chatter: you have grownwiser than Iin these sixmonths; you have little taste for my diversionsnow: or elseif Icould amuse youI'd willingly stay.'
'Stay to rest yourself' he replied. 'AndCatherinedon't thinkor say that I'm VERY unwell: it is theheavy weather and heat thatmake me dull; and I walked aboutbefore youcamea great deal forme. Tell uncle I'm in tolerable healthwill you?'
'I'll tell him that YOU say soLinton. Icouldn't affirm that youare' observed my young ladywondering at hispertinaciousassertion of what was evidently an untruth.
'And be here again next Thursday' continuedheshunning herpuzzled gaze. 'And give him my thanks forpermitting you to come -my best thanksCatherine. And - andifyou DID meet my fatherand he asked you about medon't lead him tosuppose that I've beenextremely silent and stupid: don't looksad and downcastas youare doing - he'll be angry.'
'I care nothing for his anger' exclaimedCathyimagining shewould be its object.
'But I do' said her cousinshuddering. 'DON'T provoke himagainst meCatherinefor he is very hard.'
'Is he severe to youMaster Heathcliff?' Iinquired. 'Has hegrown weary of indulgenceand passed frompassive to activehatred?'
Linton looked at mebut did not answer; andafter keeping herseat by his side another ten minutesduringwhich his head felldrowsily on his breastand he uttered nothingexcept suppressedmoans of exhaustion or painCathy began toseek solace in lookingfor bilberriesand sharing the produce of herresearches with me:she did not offer them to himfor she sawfurther notice wouldonly weary and annoy.
'Is it half-an-hour nowEllen?' she whisperedin my earat last.'I can't tell why we should stay. He'sasleepand papa will bewanting us back.'
'Wellwe must not leave him asleep' Ianswered; 'wait till liewakesand be patient. You were mightyeager to set offbut yourlonging to see poor Linton has soonevaporated!'
'Why did HE wish to see me?' returnedCatherine. 'In his crossesthumoursformerlyI liked him better than I doin his presentcurious mood. It's just as if it were atask he was compelled toperform - this interview - for fear his fathershould scold him.But I'm hardly going to come to give Mr.Heathcliff pleasure;whatever reason he may have for ordering Lintonto undergo thispenance. Andthough I'm glad he's betterin healthI'm sorryhe's so much less pleasantand so much lessaffectionate to me.'
'You think HE IS better in healththen?' Isaid.
'Yes' she answered; 'because he always madesuch a great deal ofhis sufferingsyou know. He is nottolerably wellas he told meto tell papa; but he's bettervery likely.'
'There you differ with meMiss Cathy' Iremarked; 'I shouldconjecture him to be far worse.'
Linton here started from his slumber inbewildered terrorandasked if any one had called his name.
'No' said Catherine; 'unless in dreams. I cannot conceive how youmanage to doze out of doorsin the morning.'
'I thought I heard my father' he gaspedglancing up to thefrowning nab above us. 'You are surenobody spoke?'
'Quite sure' replied his cousin. 'OnlyEllen and I were disputingconcerning your health. Are you trulystrongerLintonthan whenwe separated in winter? If you beI'mcertain one thing is notstronger - your regard for me: speak-are you?'
The tears gushed from Linton's eyes as heanswered'YesyesIam!' Andstill under the spell of theimaginary voicehis gazewandered up and down to detect its owner.
Cathy rose. 'For to-day we must part'she said. 'And I won'tconceal that I have been sadly disappointedwith our meeting;though I'll mention it to nobody but you: not that I stand in aweof Mr. Heathcliff.'
'Hush' murmured Linton; 'for God's sakehush! He's coming.' Andhe clung to Catherine's armstriving to detainher; but at thatannouncement she hastily disengaged herselfand whistled to Minnywho obeyed her like a dog.
'I'll be here next Thursday' she criedspringing to the saddle.'Good-bye. QuickEllen!'
And so we left himscarcely conscious of ourdeparturesoabsorbed was he in anticipating his father'sapproach.
Before we reached homeCatherine's displeasuresoftened into aperplexed sensation of pity and regretlargelyblended with vagueuneasy doubts about Linton's actualcircumstancesphysical andsocial: in which I partookthough Icounselled her not to saymuch; for a second journey would make us betterjudges. My masterrequested an account of our ongoings. Hisnephew's offering ofthanks was duly deliveredMiss Cathy gentlytouching on the rest:I also threw little light on his inquiriesforI hardly knew whatto hide and what to reveal.
SEVEN days glided awayevery one marking itscourse by thehenceforth rapid alteration of Edgar Linton'sstate. The havocthat months had previously wrought was nowemulated by the inroadsof hours. Catherine we would fain havedeluded yet; but her ownquick spirit refused to delude her: itdivined in secretandbrooded on the dreadful probabilitygraduallyripening intocertainty. She had not the heart tomention her ridewhenThursday came round; I mentioned it for herand obtainedpermission to order her out of doors: forthe librarywhere herfather stopped a short time daily - the briefperiod he could bearto sit up - and his chamberhad become herwhole world. Shegrudged each moment that did not find herbending over his pillowor seated by his side. Her countenancegrew wan with watching andsorrowand my master gladly dismissed her towhat he flatteredhimself would be a happy change of scene andsociety; drawingcomfort from the hope that she would not now beleft entirely aloneafter his death.
He had a fixed ideaI guessed by severalobservations he let fallthatas his nephew resembled him in personhewould resemble himin mind; for Linton's letters bore few or noindications of hisdefective character. And Ithroughpardonable weaknessrefrainedfrom correcting the error; asking myself whatgood there would bein disturbing his last moments with informationthat he had neitherpower nor opportunity to turn to account.
We deferred our excursion till the afternoon; agolden afternoon ofAugust: every breath from the hills sofull of lifethat itseemed whoever respired itthough dyingmightrevive.Catherine's face was just like the landscape -shadows and sunshineflitting over it in rapid succession; but theshadows restedlongerand the sunshine was more transient;and her poor littleheart reproached itself for even that passingforgetfulness of itscares.
We discerned Linton watching at the same spothe had selectedbefore. My young mistress alightedandtold me thatas she wasresolved to stay a very little whileI hadbetter hold the ponyand remain on horseback; but I dissented: I wouldn't risk losingsight of the charge committed to me a minute;so we climbed theslope of heath together. MasterHeathcliff received us withgreater animation on this occasion: notthe animation of highspirits thoughnor yet of joy; it looked morelike fear.
'It is late!' he saidspeaking short and withdifficulty. 'Is notyour father very ill? I thought youwouldn't come.'
'WHY won't you be candid?' cried Catherineswallowing hergreeting. 'Why cannot you say at once youdon't want me? It isstrangeLintonthat for the second time youhave brought me hereon purposeapparently to distress us bothandfor no reasonbesides!'
Linton shiveredand glanced at herhalfsupplicatinghalfashamed; but his cousin's patience was notsufficient to endurethis enigmatical behaviour.
'My father IS very ill' she said; 'and why amI called from hisbedside? Why didn't you send to absolveme from my promisewhenyou wished I wouldn't keep it? Come! I desire an explanation:playing and trifling are completely banishedout of my mind; and Ican't dance attendance on your affectationsnow!'
'My affectations!' he murmured; 'what arethey? For heaven's sakeCatherinedon't look so angry! Despiseme as much as you please;I am a worthlesscowardly wretch: Ican't be scorned enough; butI'm too mean for your anger. Hate myfatherand spare me forcontempt.'
'Nonsense!' cried Catherine in a passion. 'Foolishsilly boy!And there! he trembles: as if I werereally going to touch him!You needn't bespeak contemptLinton: anybody will have itspontaneously at your service. Get off! I shall return home: itis folly dragging you from the hearth-stoneand pretending - whatdo we pretend? Let go my frock! IfI pitied you for crying andlooking so very frightenedyou should spurnsuch pity. Ellentell him how disgraceful this conduct is. Riseand don't degradeyourself into an abject reptile - DON'T!'
With streaming face and an expression of agonyLinton had thrownhis nerveless frame along the ground: heseemed convulsed withexquisite terror.
'Oh!' he sobbed'I cannot bear it! CatherineCatherineI'm atraitortooand I dare not tell you! But leave meand I shallbe killed! DEAR Catherinemy life is inyour hands: and you havesaid you loved meand if you didit wouldn'tharm you. You'llnot gothen? kindsweetgood Catherine! And perhaps you WILLconsent - and he'll let me die with you!'
My young ladyon witnessing his intenseanguishstooped to raisehim. The old feeling of indulgenttenderness overcame hervexationand she grew thoroughly moved andalarmed.
'Consent to what?' she asked. 'To stay!tell me the meaning ofthis strange talkand I will. Youcontradict your own wordsanddistract me! Be calm and frankandconfess at once all thatweighs on your heart. You wouldn't injuremeLintonwould you?You wouldn't let any enemy hurt meif youcould prevent it? I'llbelieve you are a cowardfor yourselfbut nota cowardly betrayerof your best friend.'
'But my father threatened me' gasped the boyclasping hisattenuated fingers'and I dread him - I dreadhim! I DARE nottell!'
'Ohwell!' said Catherinewith scornfulcompassion'keep yoursecret: I'M no coward. Saveyourself: I'm not afraid!'
Her magnanimity provoked his tears: hewept wildlykissing hersupporting handsand yet could not summoncourage to speak out. Iwas cogitating what the mystery might beanddetermined Catherineshould never suffer to benefit him or any oneelseby my goodwill; whenhearing a rustle among the lingIlooked up and sawMr. Heathcliff almost close upon usdescendingthe Heights. Hedidn't cast a glance towards my companionsthough they weresufficiently near for Linton's sobs to beaudible; but hailing mein the almost hearty tone he assumed to nonebesidesand thesincerity of which I couldn't avoid doubtinghe said -
'It is something to see you so near to myhouseNelly. How areyou at the Grange? Let us hear. Therumour goes' he addedin alower tone'that Edgar Linton is on hisdeath-bed: perhaps theyexaggerate his illness?'
'No; my master is dying' I replied: 'itis true enough. A sadthing it will be for us allbut a blessing forhim!'
'How long will he lastdo you think?' heasked.
'I don't know' I said.
'Because' he continuedlooking at the twoyoung peoplewho werefixed under his eye - Linton appeared as if hecould not venture tostir or raise his headand Catherine could notmoveon hisaccount - 'because that lad yonder seemsdetermined to beat me; andI'd thank his uncle to be quickand go beforehim! Hallo! has thewhelp been playing that game long? I DIDgive him some lessonsabout snivelling. Is he pretty livelywith Miss Linton generally?'
'Lively? no - he has shown the greatestdistress' I answered. 'Tosee himI should saythat instead of ramblingwith his sweethearton the hillshe ought to be in bedunder thehands of a doctor.'
'He shall bein a day or two' mutteredHeathcliff. 'But first -get upLinton! Get up!' he shouted. 'Don't grovel on the groundthere upthis moment!'
Linton had sunk prostrate again in anotherparoxysm of helplessfearcaused by his father's glance towardshimI suppose: therewas nothing else to produce such humiliation. He made severalefforts to obeybut his little strength wasannihilated for thetimeand he fell back again with a moan. Mr. Heathcliff advancedand lifted him to lean against a ridge of turf.
'Now' said hewith curbed ferocity'I'mgetting angry and if youdon't command that paltry spirit of yours -DAMN you! get updirectly!'
'I willfather' he panted. 'Onlyletme aloneor I shallfaint. I've done as you wishedI'msure. Catherine will tell youthat I - that I - have been cheerful. Ah!keep by meCatherine;give me your hand.'
'Take mine' said his father; 'stand on yourfeet. There now -she'll lend you her arm: that's rightlook at her. You wouldimagine I was the devil himselfMiss Lintonto excite suchhorror. Be so kind as to walk home withhimwill you? Heshudders if I touch him.'
'Linton dear!' whispered Catherine'I can't goto WutheringHeights: papa has forbidden me. He'll not harm you: why are youso afraid?'
'I can never re-enter that house' heanswered. 'I'm NOT to re-enter it without you!'
'Stop!' cried his father. 'We'll respectCatherine's filialscruples. Nellytake him inand I'llfollow your adviceconcerning the doctorwithout delay.'
'You'll do well' replied I. 'But I mustremain with my mistress:to mind your son is not my business.'
'You are very stiff' said Heathcliff'I knowthat: but you'llforce me to pinch the baby and make it screambefore it moves yourcharity. Comethenmy hero. Areyou willing to returnescortedby me?'
He approached once moreand made as if hewould seize the fragilebeing; butshrinking backLinton clung to hiscousinandimplored her to accompany himwith a franticimportunity thatadmitted no denial. However IdisapprovedI couldn't hinder her:indeedhow could she have refused himherself? What was fillinghim with dread we had no means of discerning;but there he waspowerless under its gripeand any additionseemed capable ofshocking him into idiotcy. We reached thethreshold; Catherinewalked inand I stood waiting till she hadconducted the invalidto a chairexpecting her out immediately; whenMr. Heathcliffpushing me forwardexclaimed - 'My house isnot stricken with theplagueNelly; and I have a mind to behospitable to-day: sitdownand allow me to shut the door.'
He shut and locked it also. I started.
'You shall have tea before you go home' headded. 'I am bymyself. Hareton is gone with some cattleto the Leesand Zillahand Joseph are off on a journey of pleasure;andthough I'm usedto being aloneI'd rather have someinteresting companyif I canget it. Miss Lintontake your seat byHIM. I give you what Ihave: the present is hardly worthaccepting; but I have nothingelse to offer. It is LintonI mean. How she does stare! It'sodd what a savage feeling I have to anythingthat seems afraid ofme! Had I been born where laws are lessstrict and tastes lessdaintyI should treat myself to a slowvivisection of those twoas an evening's amusement.'
He drew in his breathstruck the tableandswore to himself'Byhell! I hate them.'
'I am not afraid of you!' exclaimed Catherinewho could not hearthe latter part of his speech. Shestepped close up; her blackeyes flashing with passion and resolution. 'Give me that key: Iwill have it!' she said. 'I wouldn't eator drink hereif I werestarving.'
Heathcliff had the key in his hand thatremained on the table. Helooked upseized with a sort of surprise ather boldness; orpossiblyremindedby her voice and glanceofthe person fromwhom she inherited it. She snatched atthe instrumentand halfsucceeded in getting it out of his loosenedfingers: but heraction recalled him to the present; herecovered it speedily.
'NowCatherine Linton' he said'stand offor I shall knock youdown; andthat will make Mrs. Dean mad.'
Regardless of this warningshe captured hisclosed hand and itscontents again. 'We will go!' sherepeatedexerting her utmostefforts to cause the iron muscles to relax; andfinding that hernails made no impressionshe applied her teethpretty sharply.Heathcliff glanced at me a glance that kept mefrom interfering amoment. Catherine was too intent on hisfingers to notice hisface. He opened them suddenlyandresigned the object of dispute;butere she had well secured ithe seized herwith the liberatedhandandpulling her on his kneeadministered with the other ashower of terrific slaps on both sides of theheadeach sufficientto have fulfilled his threathad she been ableto fall.'
At this diabolical violence I rushed on himfuriously. 'Youvillain!' I began to cry'you villain!' A touch on the chestsilenced me: I am stoutand soon put outof breath; andwhatwith that and the rageI staggered dizzilyback and felt ready tosuffocateor to burst a blood-vessel. The scene was over in twominutes; Catherinereleasedput her two handsto her templesandlooked just as if she were not sure whether herears were off oron. She trembled like a reedpoor thingand leant against thetable perfectly bewildered.
'I know how to chastise childrenyou see'said the scoundrelgrimlyas he stooped to repossess himself ofthe keywhich haddropped to the floor. 'Go to Linton nowas I told you; and cry atyour ease! I shall be your fatherto-morrow - all the fatheryou'll have in a few days - and you shall haveplenty of that. Youcan bear plenty; you're no weakling: youshall have a daily tasteif I catch such a devil of a temper in youreyes again!'
Cathy ran to me instead of Lintonand kneltdown and put herburning cheek on my lapweeping aloud. Her cousin had shrunk intoa corner of the settleas quiet as a mousecongratulatinghimselfI dare saythat the correction hadalighted on anotherthan him. Mr. Heathcliffperceiving usall confoundedroseandexpeditiously made the tea himself. Thecups and saucers were laidready. He poured it outand handed me acup.
'Wash away your spleen' he said. 'Andhelp your own naughty petand mine. It is not poisonedthough Iprepared it. I'm going outto seek your horses.'
Our first thoughton his departurewas toforce an exitsomewhere. We tried the kitchen doorbutthat was fastenedoutside: we looked at the windows - theywere too narrow for evenCathy's little figure.
'Master Linton' I criedseeing we wereregularly imprisoned'youknow what your diabolical father is afterandyou shall tell usor I'll box your earsas he has done yourcousin's.'
'YesLintonyou must tell' said Catherine. 'It was for yoursake I came; and it will be wickedly ungratefulif you refuse.'
'Give me some teaI'm thirstyand then I'lltell you' heanswered. 'Mrs. Deango away. Idon't like you standing over me.NowCatherineyou are letting your tears fallinto my cup. Iwon't drink that. Give me another.' Catherine pushed another tohimand wiped her face. I felt disgustedat the little wretch'scomposuresince he was no longer in terror forhimself. Theanguish he had exhibited on the moor subsidedas soon as ever heentered Wuthering Heights; so I guessed he hadbeen menaced with anawful visitation of wrath if he failed indecoying us there; andthat accomplishedhe had no further immediatefears.
'Papa wants us to be married' he continuedafter sipping some ofthe liquid. 'And he knows your papawouldn't let us marry now; andhe's afraid of my dying if we wait; so we areto be married in themorningand you are to stay here all night;andif you do as hewishesyou shall return home next dayandtake me with you.'
'Take you with herpitiful changeling!' Iexclaimed. 'YOU marry?Whythe man is mad! or he thinks us foolsevery one. And do youimagine that beautiful young ladythathealthyhearty girlwilltie herself to a little perishing monkey likeyou? Are youcherishing the notion that anybodylet aloneMiss CatherineLintonwould have you for a husband? Youwant whipping forbringing us in here at allwith your dastardlypuling tricks: and- don't look so sillynow! I've a verygood mind to shake youseverelyfor your contemptible treacheryandyour imbecileconceit.'
I did give him a slight shaking; but it broughton the coughandhe took to his ordinary resource of moaning andweepingandCatherine rebuked me.
'Stay all night? No' she saidlookingslowly round. 'EllenI'll burn that door down but I'll get out.'
And she would have commenced the execution ofher threat directlybut Linton was up in alarm for his dear selfagain. He clasped herin his two feeble arms sobbing:- 'Won't youhave meand save me?not let me come to the Grange? Ohdarling Catherine! you mustn'tgo and leaveafter all. You MUST obey myfather - you MUST!'
'I must obey my own' she replied'and relievehim from this cruelsuspense. The whole night! Whatwould he think? He'll bedistressed already. I'll either break orburn a way out of thehouse. Be quiet! You're in nodanger; but if you hinder me -LintonI love papa better than you!' Themortal terror he felt ofMr. Heathcliff's anger restored to the boy hiscoward's eloquence.Catherine was near distraught: stillshepersisted that she mustgo homeand tried entreaty in her turnpersuading him to subduehis selfish agony. While they were thusoccupiedour jailor re-entered.
'Your beasts have trotted off' he said'and -now Linton!snivelling again? What has she been doingto you? Comecome -have doneand get to bed. In a month ortwomy ladyou'll beable to pay her back her present tyrannies witha vigorous hand.You're pining for pure loveare you not?nothing else in theworld: and she shall have you! Thereto bed! Zillah won't behere to-night; you must undress yourself. Hush! hold your noise!Once in your own roomI'll not come near you: you needn't fear.By chanceyou've managed tolerably. I'lllook to the rest.'
He spoke these wordsholding the door open forhis son to passand the latter achieved his exit exactly as aspaniel might whichsuspected the person who attended on it ofdesigning a spitefulsqueeze. The lock was re-secured. Heathcliff approached the firewhere my mistress and I stood silent. Catherine looked upandinstinctively raised her hand to her cheek: his neighbourhoodrevived a painful sensation. Anybody elsewould have beenincapable of regarding the childish act withsternnessbut hescowled on her and muttered - 'Oh! you are notafraid of me? Yourcourage is well disguised: you seemdamnably afraid!'
'I AM afraid now' she replied'becauseif Istaypapa will bemiserable: and how can I endure makinghim miserable - when he -when he - Mr. Heathclifflet ME go home! I promise to marryLinton: papa would like me to: andI love him. Why should youwish to force me to do what I'll willingly doof myself?'
'Let him dare to force you' I cried. 'There's law in the landthank God! there is; though we be in anout-of-the-way place. I'dinform if he were my own son: and it'sfelony without benefit ofclergy!'
'Silence!' said the ruffian. 'To thedevil with your clamour! Idon't want YOU to speak. Miss LintonIshall enjoy myselfremarkably in thinking your father will bemiserable: I shall notsleep for satisfaction. You could havehit on no surer way offixing your residence under my roof for thenext twenty-four hoursthan informing me that such an event wouldfollow. As to yourpromise to marry LintonI'll take care youshall keep it; for youshall not quit this place till it isfulfilled.'
'Send Ellenthento let papa know I'm safe!'exclaimed Catherineweeping bitterly. 'Or marry me now. Poor papa! Ellenhe'llthink we're lost. What shall we do?'
'Not he! He'll think you are tired ofwaiting on himand run offfor a little amusement' answered Heathcliff. 'You cannot denythat you entered my house of your own accordin contempt of hisinjunctions to the contrary. And it isquite natural that youshould desire amusement at your age; and thatyou would weary ofnursing a sick manand that man ONLY yourfather. Catherinehishappiest days were over when your days began. He cursed youIdare sayfor coming into the world (I didatleast); and it wouldjust do if he cursed you as HE went out of it. I'd join him. Idon't love you! How should I? Weepaway. As far as I can seeitwill be your chief diversion hereafter; unlessLinton make amendsfor other losses: and your providentparent appears to fancy hemay. His letters of advice andconsolation entertained me vastly.In his last he recommended my jewel to becareful of his; and kindto her when he got her. Careful and kind- that's paternal. ButLinton requires his whole stock of care andkindness for himself.Linton can play the little tyrant well. He'll undertake to tortureany number of catsif their teeth be drawn andtheir claws pared.You'll be able to tell his uncle fine tales ofhis KINDNESSwhenyou get home againI assure you.'
'You're right there!' I said; 'explain yourson's character. Showhis resemblance to yourself: and thenIhopeMiss Cathy willthink twice before she takes the cockatrice!'
'I don't much mind speaking of his amiablequalities now' heanswered; 'because she must either accept himor remain a prisonerand you along with hertill your master dies. I can detain youbothquite concealedhere. If youdoubtencourage her toretract her wordand you'll have anopportunity of judging!'
'I'll not retract my word' said Catherine. 'I'll marry him withinthis hourif I may go to Thrushcross Grangeafterwards. Mr.Heathcliffyou're a cruel manbut you're nota fiend; and youwon'tfrom MERE malicedestroy irrevocablyall my happiness. Ifpapa thought I had left him on purposeand ifhe died before Ireturnedcould I bear to live? I'vegiven over crying: but I'mgoing to kneel hereat your knee; and I'll notget upand I'llnot take my eyes from your face till you lookback at me! Nodon't turn away! DO LOOK! you'll see nothing toprovoke you. Idon't hate you. I'm not angry that youstruck me. Have you neverloved ANYBODY in all your lifeuncle? NEVER? Ah! you must lookonce. I'm so wretchedyou can't helpbeing sorry and pitying me.'
'Keep your eft's fingers off; and moveor I'llkick you!' criedHeathcliffbrutally repulsing her. 'I'drather be hugged by asnake. How the devil can you dream offawning on me? I DETESTyou!'
He shrugged his shoulders: shook himselfindeedas if his fleshcrept with aversion; and thrust back his chair;while I got upandopened my mouthto commence a downrighttorrent of abuse. But Iwas rendered dumb in the middle of the firstsentenceby a threatthat I should be shown into a room by myselfthe very next syllableI uttered. It was growing dark - we hearda sound of voices at thegarden-gate. Our host hurried outinstantly: HE had his witsabout him; WE had not. There was a talkof two or three minutesand he returned alone.
'I thought it had been your cousin Hareton' Iobserved toCatherine. 'I wish he would arrive! Who knows but he might takeour part?'
'It was three servants sent to seek you fromthe Grange' saidHeathcliffoverhearing me. 'You shouldhave opened a lattice andcalled out: but I could swear that chitis glad you didn't. She'sglad to be obliged to stayI'm certain.'
At learning the chance we had missedwe bothgave vent to ourgrief without control; and he allowed us towail on till nineo'clock. Then he bid us go upstairsthrough the kitchentoZillah's chamber; and I whispered my companionto obey: perhaps wemight contrive to get through the window thereor into a garretand out by its skylight. The windowhoweverwas narrowlikethose belowand the garret trap was safe fromour attempts; for wewere fastened in as before. We neither ofus lay down: Catherinetook her station by the latticeand watchedanxiously for morning;a deep sigh being the only answer I couldobtain to my frequententreaties that she would try to rest. Iseated myself in a chairand rocked to and fropassing harsh judgmenton my manyderelictions of duty; from whichit struck methenall themisfortunes of my employers sprang. Itwas not the caseinrealityI am aware; but it wasin myimaginationthat dismalnight; and I thought Heathcliff himself lessguilty than I.
At seven o'clock he cameand inquired if MissLinton had risen.She ran to the door immediatelyand answered'Yes.' 'Herethen' he saidopening itand pulling herout. I rose to followbut he turned the lock again. I demandedmy release.
'Be patient' he replied; 'I'll send up yourbreakfast in a while.'
I thumped on the panelsand rattled the latchangrily andCatherine asked why I was still shut up? He answeredI must tryto endure it another hourand they went away. I endured it two orthree hours; at lengthI heard a footstep: not Heathcliff's.
'I've brought you something to eat' said avoice; 'oppen t' door!'
Complying eagerlyI beheld Haretonladen withfood enough to lastme all day.
'Tak' it' he addedthrusting the tray into myhand.
'Stay one minute' I began.
'Nay' cried heand retiredregardless of anyprayers I couldpour forth to detain him.
And there I remained enclosed the whole dayand the whole of thenext night; and anotherand another. Five nights and four days Iremainedaltogetherseeing nobody but Haretononce every morning;and he was a model of a jailor: surlyand dumband deaf to everyattempt at moving his sense of justice orcompassion.
ON the fifth morningor rather afternoonadifferent stepapproached - lighter and shorter; andthistimethe personentered the room. It was Zillah; donnedin her scarlet shawlwitha black silk bonnet on her headand awillow-basket swung to herarm.
'Ehdear! Mrs. Dean!' she exclaimed. 'Well! there is a talkabout you at Gimmerton. I never thoughtbut you were sunk in theBlackhorse marshand missy with youtillmaster told me you'dbeen foundand he'd lodged you here! What! and you must have goton an islandsure? And how long were youin the hole? Did mastersave youMrs. Dean? But you're not sothin - you've not been sopoorlyhave you?'
'Your master is a true scoundrel!' I replied. 'But he shall answerfor it. He needn't have raised thattale: it shall all be laidbare!'
'What do you mean?' asked Zillah. 'It'snot his tale: they tellthat in the village - about your being lost inthe marsh; and Icalls to Earnshawwhen I come in - "Ehthey's queer thingsMr.Haretonhappened since I went off. It'sa sad pity of that likelyyoung lassand cant Nelly Dean." Hestared. I thought he had notheard aughtso I told him the rumour. The master listenedand hejust smiled to himselfand said"If theyhave been in the marshthey are out nowZillah. Nelly Dean islodgedat this minuteinyour room. You can tell her to flitwhenyou go up; here is thekey. The bog-water got into her headandshe would have run homequite flighty; but I fixed her till she cameround to her senses.You can bid her go to the Grange at onceifshe be ableand carrya message from methat her young lady willfollow in time toattend the squire's funeral."'
'Mr. Edgar is not dead?' I gasped. 'Oh!ZillahZillah!'
'Nono; sit you downmy good mistress' shereplied; 'you'reright sickly yet. He's not dead; DoctorKenneth thinks he may lastanother day. I met him on the road andasked.'
Instead of sitting downI snatched my outdoorthingsand hastenedbelowfor the way was free. On enteringthe houseI looked aboutfor some one to give information of Catherine. The place wasfilled with sunshineand the door stood wideopen; but nobodyseemed at hand. As I hesitated whether togo off at onceorreturn and seek my mistressa slight coughdrew my attention tothe hearth. Linton lay on the settlesole tenantsucking a stickof sugar-candyand pursuing my movements withapathetic eyes.'Where is Miss Catherine?' I demanded sternlysupposing I couldfrighten him into giving intelligencebycatching him thusalone.He sucked on like an innocent.
'Is she gone?' I said.
'No' he replied; 'she's upstairs: she'snot to go; we won't lether.'
'You won't let herlittle idiot!' Iexclaimed. 'Direct me to herroom immediatelyor I'll make you sing outsharply.'
'Papa would make you sing outif you attemptedto get there' heanswered. 'He says I'm not to be softwith Catherine: she's mywifeand it's shameful that she should wish toleave me. He saysshe hates me and wants me to diethat she mayhave my money; butshe shan't have it: and she shan't gohome! She never shall! -she may cryand be sick as much as shepleases!'
He resumed his former occupationclosing hislidsas if he meantto drop asleep.
'Master Heathcliff' I resumed'have youforgotten all Catherine'skindness to you last winterwhen you affirmedyou loved herandwhen she brought you books and sung you songsand came many a timethrough wind and snow to see you? Shewept to miss one eveningbecause you would be disappointed; and you feltthen that she was ahundred times too good to you: and nowyou believe the lies yourfather tellsthough you know he detests youboth. And you joinhim against her. That's fine gratitudeis it not?'
The corner of Linton's mouth felland he tookthe sugar-candy fromhis lips.
'Did she come to Wuthering Heights because shehated you?' Icontinued. 'Think for yourself! Asto your moneyshe does noteven know that you will have any. And yousay she's sick; and yetyou leave her aloneup there in a strangehouse! You who havefelt what it is to be so neglected! Youcould pity your ownsufferings; and she pitied themtoo; but youwon't pity hers! Ished tearsMaster Heathcliffyou see - anelderly womanand aservant merely - and youafter pretending suchaffectionandhaving reason to worship her almoststoreevery tear you have foryourselfand lie there quite at ease. Ah! you're a heartlessselfish boy!'
'I can't stay with her' he answered crossly. 'I'll not stay bymyself. She cries so I can't bear it. And she won't give overthough I say I'll call my father. I didcall him onceand hethreatened to strangle her if she was notquiet; but she beganagain the instant he left the roommoaning andgrieving all nightlongthough I screamed for vexation that Icouldn't sleep.'
'Is Mr. Heathcliff out?' I inquiredperceivingthat the wretchedcreature had no power to sympathize with hiscousin's mentaltortures.
'He's in the court' he replied'talking toDoctor Kenneth; whosays uncle is dyingtrulyat last. I'mgladfor I shall bemaster of the Grange after him. Catherinealways spoke of it asher house. It isn't hers! It'smine: papa says everything shehas is mine. All her nice books are mine;she offered to give methemand her pretty birdsand her pony Minnyif I would get thekey of our roomand let her out; but I toldher she had nothing togivethey ware allall mine. And thenshe criedand took alittle picture from her neckand said I shouldhave that; twopictures in a gold caseon one side hermotherand on the otherunclewhen they were young. That wasyesterday - I said they wereminetoo; and tried to get them from her. The spiteful thingwouldn't let me: she pushed me offandhurt me. I shrieked out -that frightens her - she heard papa comingandshe broke thehinges and divided the caseand gave me hermother's portrait; theother she attempted to hide: but papaasked what was the matterand I explained it. He took the one I hadawayand ordered her toresign hers to me; she refusedand he - hestruck her downandwrenched it off the chainand crushed it withhis foot.'
'And were you pleased to see her struck?' Iasked: having mydesigns in encouraging his talk.
'I winked' he answered: 'I wink to seemy father strike a dog ora horsehe does it so hard. Yet I wasglad at first - shedeserved punishing for pushing me: butwhen papa was goneshemade me come to the window and showed me hercheek cut on theinsideagainst her teethand her mouthfilling with blood; andthen she gathered up the bits of the pictureand went and sat downwith her face to the walland she has neverspoken to me since:and I sometimes think she can't speak forpain. I don't like tothink so; but she's a naughty thing for cryingcontinually; and shelooks so pale and wildI'm afraid of her.'
'And you can get the key if you choose?' Isaid.
'Yeswhen I am up-stairs' he answered; 'but Ican't walk up-stairs now.'
'In what apartment is it?' I asked.
'Oh' he cried'I shan't tell YOU where itis. It is our secret.Nobodyneither Hareton nor Zillahis toknow. There! you'vetired me - go awaygo away!' And heturned his face on to hisarmand shut his eyes again.
I considered it best to depart without seeingMr. Heathcliffandbring a rescue for my young lady from theGrange. On reaching itthe astonishment of my fellow-servants to seemeand their joyalsowas intense; and when they heard thattheir little mistresswas safetwo or three were about to hurry upand shout the news atMr. Edgar's door: but I bespoke theannouncement of it myself.How changed I found himeven in those fewdays! He lay an imageof sadness and resignation awaiting his death. Very young helooked: though his actual age wasthirty-nineone would havecalled him ten years youngerat least. He thought of Catherine;for he murmured her name. I touched hishandand spoke.
'Catherine is comingdear master!' Iwhispered; 'she is alive andwell; and will be hereI hopeto-night.'
I trembled at the first effects of thisintelligence: he half roseuplooked eagerly round the apartmentandthen sank back in aswoon. As soon as he recoveredI relatedour compulsory visitand detention at the Heights. I saidHeathcliff forced me to goin: which was not quite true. Iuttered as little as possibleagainst Linton; nor did I describe all hisfather's brutal conduct- my intentions being to add no bitternessifI could help ittohis already over-flowing cup.
He divined that one of his enemy's purposes wasto secure thepersonal propertyas well as the estatetohis son: or ratherhimself; yet why he did not wait till hisdecease was a puzzle tomy masterbecause ignorant how nearly he andhis nephew would quitthe world together. Howeverhe felt thathis will had better bealtered: instead of leaving Catherine'sfortune at her owndisposalhe determined to put it in the handsof trustees for heruse during lifeand for her childrenif shehad anyafter her.By that meansit could not fall to Mr.Heathcliff should Lintondie.
Having received his ordersI despatched a manto fetch theattorneyand four moreprovided withserviceable weaponstodemand my young lady of her jailor. Bothparties were delayed verylate. The single servant returned first. He said Mr. Greenthelawyerwas out when he arrived at his houseand he had to waittwo hours for his re-entrance; and then Mr.Green told him he had alittle business in the village that must bedone; but he would beat Thrushcross Grange before morning. Thefour men came backunaccompanied also. They brought wordthat Catherine was ill: tooill to quit her room; and Heathcliff would notsuffer them to seeher. I scolded the stupid fellows wellfor listening to that talewhich I would not carry to my master; resolvingto take a wholebevy up to the Heightsat day-lightand stormit literallyunless the prisoner were quietly surrendered tous. Her fatherSHALL see herI vowedand vowed againifthat devil be killed onhis own doorstones in trying to prevent it!
HappilyI was spared the journey and thetrouble. I had gonedown-stairs at three o'clock to fetch a jug ofwater; and waspassing through the hall with it in my handwhen a sharp knock atthe front door made me jump. 'Oh! it isGreen' I saidrecollecting myself - 'only Green' and I wentonintending tosend somebody else to open it; but the knockwas repeated: notloudand still importunately. I put thejug on the banister andhastened to admit him myself. The harvestmoon shone clearoutside. It was not the attorney. My own sweet little mistresssprang on my neck sobbing'EllenEllen! Is papa alive?'
'Yes' I cried: 'yesmy angelhe isGod be thankedyou aresafe with us again!'
She wanted to runbreathless as she wasup-stairs to Mr. Linton'sroom; but I compelled her to sit down on achairand made herdrinkand washed her pale facechafing itinto a faint colourwith my apron. Then I said I must gofirstand tell of herarrival; imploring her to sayshe should behappy with youngHeathcliff. She staredbut sooncomprehending why I counselledher to utter the falsehoodshe assured me shewould not complain.
I couldn't abide to be present at theirmeeting. I stood outsidethe chamber-door a quarter of an hourandhardly ventured near thebedthen. All was composedhowever: Catherine's despair was assilent as her father's joy. She supportedhim calmlyinappearance; and he fixed on her features hisraised eyes thatseemed dilating with ecstasy.
He died blissfullyMr. Lockwood: he diedso. Kissing her cheekhe murmured- 'I am going to her; and youdarling childshallcome to us!' and never stirred or spoke again;but continued thatraptradiant gazetill his pulseimperceptibly stopped and hissoul departed. None could have noticedthe exact minute of hisdeathit was so entirely without a struggle.
Whether Catherine had spent her tearsorwhether the grief weretoo weighty to let them flowshe sat theredry-eyed till the sunrose: she sat till noonand would stillhave remained broodingover that deathbedbut I insisted on hercoming away and takingsome repose. It was well I succeeded inremoving herfor atdinner-time appeared the lawyerhaving calledat Wuthering Heightsto get his instructions how to behave. Hehad sold himself to Mr.Heathcliff: that was the cause of hisdelay in obeying my master'ssummons. Fortunatelyno thought ofworldly affairs crossed thelatter's mindto disturb himafter hisdaughter's arrival.
Mr. Green took upon himself to order everythingand everybody aboutthe place. He gave all the servants butmenotice to quit. Hewould have carried his delegated authority tothe point ofinsisting that Edgar Linton should not beburied beside his wifebut in the chapelwith his family. Therewas the willhoweverto hinder thatand my loud protestationsagainst any infringementof its directions. The funeral washurried over; CatherineMrs.Linton Heathcliff nowwas suffered to stay atthe Grange till herfather's corpse had quitted it.
She told me that her anguish had at lastspurred Linton to incurthe risk of liberating her. She heard themen I sent disputing atthe doorand she gathered the sense ofHeathcliff's answer. Itdrove her desperate. Linton who had beenconveyed up to the littleparlour soon after I leftwas terrified intofetching the keybefore his father re-ascended. He had thecunning to unlock andre-lock the doorwithout shutting it; and whenhe should have goneto bedhe begged to sleep with Haretonandhis petition wasgranted for once. Catherine stole outbefore break of day. Shedared not try the doors lest the dogs shouldraise an alarm; shevisited the empty chambers and examined theirwindows; andluckilylighting on her mother'sshe goteasily out of itslatticeand on to the groundby means of thefir-tree close by.Her accomplice suffered for his share in theescapenotwithstanding his timid contrivances.
THE evening after the funeralmy young ladyand I were seated inthe library; now musing mournfully - one of usdespairingly - onour lossnow venturing conjectures as to thegloomy future.
We had just agreed the best destiny which couldawait Catherinewould be a permission to continue resident atthe Grange; at leastduring Linton's life: he being allowed tojoin her thereand I toremain as housekeeper. That seemed rathertoo favourable anarrangement to be hoped for; and yet I didhopeand began to cheerup under the prospect of retaining my home andmy employmentandabove allmy beloved young mistress; when aservant - one of thediscarded onesnot yet departed - rushedhastily inand said'that devil Heathcliff' was coming through thecourt: should hefasten the door in his face?
If we had been mad enough to order thatproceedingwe had nottime. He made no ceremony of knocking orannouncing his name: hewas masterand availed himself of the master'sprivilege to walkstraight inwithout saying a word. Thesound of our informant'svoice directed him to the library; he enteredand motioning himoutshut the door.
It was the same room into which he had beenusheredas a guesteighteen years before: the same moonshone through the window; andthe same autumn landscape lay outside. Wehad not yet lighted acandlebut all the apartment was visibleevento the portraits onthe wall: the splendid head of Mrs.Lintonand the graceful oneof her husband. Heathcliff advanced tothe hearth. Time hadlittle altered his person either. Therewas the same man: hisdark face rather sallower and more composedhis frame a stone ortwo heavierperhapsand no other difference. Catherine had risenwith an impulse to dash outwhen she saw him.
'Stop!' he saidarresting her by the arm. 'No more runnings away!Where would you go? I'm come to fetch youhome; and I hope you'llbe a dutiful daughter and not encourage my sonto furtherdisobedience. I was embarrassed how topunish him when Idiscovered his part in the business: he'ssuch a cobweba pinchwould annihilate him; but you'll see by hislook that he hasreceived his due! I brought him down oneeveningthe day beforeyesterdayand just set him in a chairandnever touched himafterwards. I sent Hareton outand wehad the room to ourselves.In two hoursI called Joseph to carry him upagain; and since thenmy presence is as potent on his nerves as aghost; and I fancy hesees me oftenthough I am not near. Hareton says he wakes andshrieks in the night by the hour togetherandcalls you to protecthim from me; andwhether you like yourprecious mateor notyoumust come: he's your concern now; I yieldall my interest in himto you.'
'Why not let Catherine continue here' Ipleaded'and send MasterLinton to her? As you hate them bothyou'd not miss them: theycan only be a daily plague to your unnaturalheart.'
'I'm seeking a tenant for the Grange' heanswered; 'and I want mychildren about meto be sure. Besidesthat lass owes me herservices for her bread. I'm not going tonurture her in luxury andidleness after Linton is gone. Make hasteand get readynow; anddon't oblige me to compel you.'
'I shall' said Catherine. 'Linton is allI have to love in theworldand though you have done what you couldto make him hatefulto meand me to himyou cannot make us hateeach other. And Idefy you to hurt him when I am byand I defyyou to frighten me!'
'You are a boastful champion' repliedHeathcliff; 'but I don'tlike you well enough to hurt him: youshall get the full benefitof the tormentas long as it lasts. Itis not I who will make himhateful to you - it is his own sweet spirit. He's as bitter asgall at your desertion and its consequences: don't expect thanksfor this noble devotion. I heard him drawa pleasant picture toZillah of what he would do if he were as strongas I: theinclination is thereand his very weaknesswill sharpen his witsto find a substitute for strength.'
'I know he has a bad nature' said Catherine: 'he's your son. ButI'm glad I've a betterto forgive it; and Iknow he loves meandfor that reason I love him. Mr.Heathcliff YOU have NOBODY to loveyou; andhowever miserable you make usweshall still have therevenge of thinking that your cruelty arisesfrom your greatermisery. You ARE miserableare you not? Lonelylike the deviland envious like him? NOBODY loves you -NOBODY will cry for youwhen you die! I wouldn't be you!'
Catherine spoke with a kind of dreary triumph: she seemed to havemade up her mind to enter into the spirit ofher future familyanddraw 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. Begonewitchand getyour things!'
She scornfully withdrew. In her absence Ibegan to beg forZillah's place at the Heightsoffering toresign mine to her; buthe would suffer it on no account. He bidme be silent; and thenfor the first timeallowed himself a glanceround the room and alook at the pictures. Having studied Mrs.Linton'she said - 'Ishall have that home. Not because I needitbut - ' He turnedabruptly to the fireand continuedwith whatfor lack of abetter wordI must call a smile - 'I'll tellyou what I didyesterday! I got the sextonwho wasdigging Linton's gravetoremove the earth off her coffin lidand Iopened it. I thoughtonceI would have stayed there: when Isaw her face again - it ishers yet! - he had hard work to stir me; but hesaid it wouldchange if the air blew on itand so I struckone side of thecoffin looseand covered it up: notLinton's sidedamn him! Iwish he'd been soldered in lead. And Ibribed the sexton to pullit away when I'm laid thereand slide mine outtoo; I'll have itmade so: and then by the time Linton getsto us he'll not knowwhich is which!'
'You were very wickedMr. Heathcliff!' Iexclaimed; 'were you notashamed to disturb the dead?'
'I disturbed nobodyNelly' he replied; 'and Igave some ease tomyself. I shall be a great deal morecomfortable now; and you'llhave a better chance of keeping me undergroundwhen I get there.Disturbed her? No! she has disturbed menight and daythrougheighteen years - incessantly - remorselessly -till yesternight;and yesternight I was tranquil. I dreamtI was sleeping the lastsleep by that sleeperwith my heart stoppedand my cheek frozenagainst hers.'
'And if she had been dissolved into earthorworsewhat would youhave dreamt of then?' I said.
'Of dissolving with herand being more happystill!' he answered.'Do you suppose I dread any change of thatsort? I expected such atransformation on raising the lid - but I'mbetter pleased that itshould not commence till I share it. Besidesunless I hadreceived a distinct impression of herpassionless featuresthatstrange feeling would hardly have beenremoved. It began oddly.You know I was wild after she died; andeternallyfrom dawn todawnpraying her to return to me her spirit! I have a strongfaith in ghosts: I have a conviction thatthey canand doexistamong us! The day she was buriedtherecame a fall of snow. Inthe evening I went to the churchyard. Itblew bleak as winter -all round was solitary. I didn't fearthat her fool of a husbandwould wander up the glen so late; and no oneelse had business tobring them there. Being aloneandconscious two yards of looseearth was the sole barrier between usI saidto myself - 'I'llhave her in my arms again! If she becoldI'll think it is thisnorth wind that chills ME; and if she bemotionlessit is sleep."I got a spade from the tool-houseand began todelve with all mymight - it scraped the coffin; I fell to workwith my hands; thewood commenced cracking about the screws; I wason the point ofattaining my objectwhen it seemed that Iheard a sigh from someone aboveclose at the edge of the graveandbending down. "If Ican only get this off" I muttered"Iwish they may shovel in theearth over us both!" and I wrenched at itmore desperately still.There was another sighclose at my ear. I appeared to feel thewarm breath of it displacing the sleet-ladenwind. I knew noliving thing in flesh and blood was by; butascertainly as youperceive the approach to some substantial bodyin the darkthoughit cannot be discernedso certainly I feltthat Cathy was there:not under mebut on the earth. A suddensense of relief flowedfrom my heart through every limb. Irelinquished my labour ofagonyand turned consoled at once: unspeakably consoled. Herpresence was with me: it remained while Ire-filled the graveandled me home. You may laughif you will;but I was sure I shouldsee her there. I was sure she was withmeand I could not helptalking to her. Having reached theHeightsI rushed eagerly tothe door. It was fastened; andIrememberthat accursed Earnshawand my wife opposed my entrance. Iremember stopping to kick thebreath out of himand then hurrying up-stairsto my room andhers. I looked round impatiently - I felther by me - I couldALMOST see herand yet I COULD NOT! Iought to have sweat bloodthenfrom the anguish of my yearning - fromthe fervour of mysupplications to have but one glimpse! Ihad not one. She showedherselfas she often was in lifea devil tome! Andsince thensometimes more and sometimes lessI've beenthe sport of thatintolerable torture! Infernal! keeping mynerves at such a stretchthatif they had not resembled catguttheywould long ago haverelaxed to the feebleness of Linton's. When I sat in the housewith Haretonit seemed that on going out Ishould meet her; when Iwalked on the moors I should meet her comingin. When I went fromhome I hastened to return; she MUST besomewhere at the HeightsIwas certain! And when I slept in herchamber - I was beaten out ofthat. I couldn't lie there; for themoment I closed my eyesshewas either outside the windowor sliding backthe panelsorentering the roomor even resting her darlinghead on the samepillow as she did when a child; and I must openmy lids to see.And so I opened and closed them a hundred timesa night - to bealways disappointed! It racked me! I've often groaned aloudtillthat old rascal Joseph no doubt believed thatmy conscience wasplaying the fiend inside of me. Nowsince I've seen herI'mpacified - a little. It was a strange wayof killing: not byinchesbut by fractions of hairbreadthstobeguile me with thespectre of a hope through eighteen years!'
Mr. Heathcliff paused and wiped his forehead;his hair clung to itwet with perspiration; his eyes were fixed onthe red embers of thefirethe brows not contractedbut raised nextthe temples;diminishing the grim aspect of his countenancebut imparting apeculiar look of troubleand a painfulappearance of mentaltension towards one absorbing subject. Heonly half addressed meand I maintained silence. I didn't liketo hear him talk! After ashort period he resumed his meditation on thepicturetook it downand leant it against the sofa to contemplate itat betteradvantage; and while so occupied Catherineenteredannouncing thatshe was readywhen her pony should be saddled.
'Send that over to-morrow' said Heathcliff tome; then turning toherhe added: 'You may do without yourpony: it is a fineeveningand you'll need no ponies at WutheringHeights; for whatjourneys you takeyour own feet will serveyou. Come along.'
'Good-byeEllen!' whispered my dear littlemistress.
As she kissed meher lips felt like ice. 'Come and see meEllen;don't forget.'
'Take care you do no such thingMrs. Dean!'said her new father.'When I wish to speak to you I'll come here. I want none of yourprying at my house!'
He signed her to precede him; and casting backa look that cut myheartshe obeyed. I watched themfromthe windowwalk down thegarden. Heathcliff fixed Catherine's armunder his: though shedisputed the act at first evidently; and withrapid strides hehurried her into the alleywhose treesconcealed them.
I HAVE paid a visit to the Heightsbut I havenot seen her sinceshe left: Joseph held the door in hishand when I called to askafter herand wouldn't let me pass. Hesaid Mrs. Linton was'thrang' and the master was not in. Zillah has told me somethingof the way they go onotherwise I shouldhardly know who was deadand who living. She thinks Catherinehaughtyand does not likeherI can guess by her talk. My younglady asked some aid of herwhen she first came; but Mr. Heathcliff toldher to follow her ownbusinessand let his daughter-in-law lookafter herself; andZillah willingly acquiescedbeing anarrow-mindedselfish woman.Catherine evinced a child's annoyance at thisneglect; repaid itwith contemptand thus enlisted my informantamong her enemiesassecurely as if she had done her some greatwrong. I had a longtalk with Zillah about six weeks agoa littlebefore you cameoneday when we foregathered on the moor; and thisis what she told me.
'The first thing Mrs. Linton did' she said'on her arrival at theHeightswas to run up-stairswithout evenwishing good-evening tome and Joseph; she shut herself into Linton'sroomand remainedtill morning. Thenwhile the master andEarnshaw were atbreakfastshe entered the houseand asked allin a quiver if thedoctor might be sent for? her cousin was veryill.
'"We know that!" answered Heathcliff;"but his life is not worth afarthingand I won't spend a farthing on him."
'"But I cannot tell how to do" shesaid; "and if nobody will helpmehe'll die!"
'"Walk out of the room" cried themaster"and let me never hear aword more about him! None here care whatbecomes of him; if youdoact the nurse; if you do notlock him upand leave him."
'Then she began to bother meand I said I'dhad enough plague withthe tiresome thing; we each had our tasksandhers was to wait onLinton: Mr. Heathcliff bid me leave thatlabour to her.
'How they managed togetherI can't tell. I fancy he fretted agreat dealand moaned hisseln night and day;and she had preciouslittle rest: one could guess by her whiteface and heavy eyes.She sometimes came into the kitchen allwildered likeand lookedas if she would fain beg assistance; but I wasnot going to disobeythe master: I never dare disobey himMrs. Dean; andthough Ithought it wrong that Kenneth should not besent forit was noconcern of mine either to advise or complainand I always refusedto meddle. Once or twiceafter we hadgone to bedI've happenedto open my door again and seen her sittingcrying on the stairs'-top; and then I've shut myself in quickforfear of being moved tointerfere. I did pity her thenI'msure: still I didn't wish tolose my placeyou know.
'At lastone night she came boldly into mychamberand frightenedme out of my witsby saying"Tell Mr.Heathcliff that his son isdying - I'm sure he isthis time. Getupinstantlyand tellhim."
'Having uttered this speechshe vanishedagain. I lay a quarterof an hour listening and trembling. Nothing stirred - the housewas quiet.
'She's mistakenI said to myself. He'sgot over it. I needn'tdisturb them; and I began to doze. But mysleep was marred asecond time by a sharp ringing of the bell -the only bell we haveput up on purpose for Linton; and the mastercalled to me to seewhat was the matterand inform them that hewouldn't have thatnoise repeated.
'I delivered Catherine's message. Hecursed to himselfand in afew minutes came out with a lighted candleandproceeded to theirroom. I followed. Mrs. Heathcliffwas seated by the bedsidewithher hands folded on her knees. Herfather-in-law went upheld thelight to Linton's facelooked at himandtouched him; afterwardshe turned to her.
'"Now - Catherine" he said"howdo you feel?"
'She was dumb.
'"How do you feelCatherine?" herepeated.
'"He's safeand I'm free" sheanswered: "I should feel well -but" she continuedwith a bitterness shecouldn't conceal"youhave left me so long to struggle against deathalonethat I feeland see only death! I feel like death!"
'And she looked like ittoo! I gave hera little wine. Haretonand Josephwho had been wakened by the ringingand the sound offeetand heard our talk from outsidenowentered. Joseph wasfainI believeof the lad's removal; Haretonseemed a thoughtbothered: though he was more taken upwith staring at Catherinethan thinking of Linton. But the masterbid him get off to bedagain: we didn't want his help. Heafterwards made Joseph removethe body to his chamberand told me to returnto mineand Mrs.Heathcliff remained by herself.
'In the morninghe sent me to tell her shemust come down tobreakfast: she had undressedandappeared going to sleepandsaid she was ill; at which I hardly wondered. I informed Mr.Heathcliffand he replied- "Welllether be till after thefuneral; and go up now and then to get her whatis needful; andassoon as she seems bettertell me."'
Cathy stayed upstairs a fortnightaccording toZillah; who visitedher twice a dayand would have been rathermore friendlybut herattempts at increasing kindness were proudlyand promptly repelled.
Heathcliff went up onceto show her Linton'swill. He hadbequeathed the whole of hisand what had beenhermoveablepropertyto his father: the poorcreature was threatenedorcoaxedinto that act during her week'sabsencewhen his uncledied. The landsbeing a minorhe couldnot meddle with.HoweverMr. Heathcliff has claimed and keptthem in his wife'sright and his also: I suppose legally; atany rateCatherinedestitute of cash and friendscannot disturbhis possession.
'Nobody' said Zillah'ever approached herdoorexcept that oncebut I; and nobody asked anything about her. The first occasion ofher coming down into the house was on a Sundayafternoon. She hadcried outwhen I carried up her dinnerthatshe couldn't bear anylonger being in the cold; and I told her themaster was going toThrushcross Grangeand Earnshaw and I needn'thinder her fromdescending; soas soon as she heardHeathcliff's horse trot offshe made her appearancedonned in blackandher yellow curlscombed back behind her ears as plain as aQuaker: she couldn'tcomb them out.
'Joseph and I generally go to chapel onSundays:' the kirkyouknowhas no minister nowexplained Mrs. Dean;and they call theMethodists' or Baptists' place (I can't saywhich it is) atGimmertona chapel. 'Joseph had gone'she continued'but Ithought proper to bide at home. Youngfolks are always the betterfor an elder's over-looking; and Haretonwithall his bashfulnessisn't a model of nice behaviour. I lethim know that his cousinwould very likely sit with usand she had beenalways used to seethe Sabbath respected; so he had as good leavehis guns and bits ofindoor work alonewhile she stayed. Hecoloured up at the newsand cast his eyes over his hands and clothes. The train-oil andgunpowder were shoved out of sight in aminute. I saw he meant togive her his company; and I guessedby hiswayhe wanted to bepresentable; solaughingas I durst not laughwhen the master isbyI offered to help himif he wouldandjoked at his confusion.He grew sullenand began to swear.
'NowMrs. Dean' Zillah went onseeing me notpleased by hermanner'you happen think your young lady toofine for Mr. Hareton;and happen you're right: but I own Ishould love well to bring herpride a peg lower. And what will all herlearning and herdaintiness do for hernow? She's as pooras you or I: poorerI'll be bound: you're sayingand I'mdoing my little all thatroad.'
Hareton allowed Zillah to give him her aid; andshe flattered himinto a good humour; sowhen Catherine camehalf forgetting herformer insultshe tried to make himselfagreeableby thehousekeeper's account.
'Missis walked in' she said'as chill as anicicleand as highas a princess. I got up and offered hermy seat in the arm-chair.Noshe turned up her nose at my civility. Earnshaw rosetooandbid her come to the settleand sit close bythe fire: he was sureshe was starved.
'"I've been starved a month and more"she answeredresting on theword as scornful as she could.
'And she got a chair for herselfand placed itat a distance fromboth of us. Having sat till she was warmshe began to look roundand discovered a number of books on thedresser; she was instantlyupon her feet againstretching to reach them: but they were toohigh up. Her cousinafter watching herendeavours a whileatlast summoned courage to help her; she held herfrockand hefilled it with the first that came to hand.
'That was a great advance for the lad. She didn't thank him;stillhe felt gratified that she had acceptedhis assistanceandventured to stand behind as she examined themand even to stoopand point out what struck his fancy in certainold pictures whichthey contained; nor was he daunted by the saucystyle in which shejerked the page from his finger: hecontented himself with going abit farther back and looking at her instead ofthe book. Shecontinued readingor seeking for something toread. His attentionbecameby degreesquite centred in the studyof her thick silkycurls: her face he couldn't seeand shecouldn't see him. Andperhapsnot quite awake to what he didbutattracted like a childto a candleat last he proceeded from staringto touching; he putout his hand and stroked one curlas gently asif it were a bird.He might have stuck a knife into her neckshestarted round insuch a taking.
'"Get away this moment! How dare youtouch me? Why are youstopping there?" she criedin a tone ofdisgust. "I can't endureyou! I'll go upstairs againif you comenear me."
'Mr. Hareton recoiledlooking as foolish as hecould do: he satdown in the settle very quietand shecontinued turning over hervolumes another half hour; finallyEarnshawcrossed overandwhispered to me.
'Will you ask her to read to usZillah? I'm stalled of doingnaught; and I do like - I could like to hearher! Dunnot say Iwanted itbut ask of yourseln."
'"Mr. Hareton wishes you would read to usma'am" I saidimmediately. "He'd take it very kind- he'd be much obliged."
'She frowned; and looking upanswered -
'"Mr. Haretonand the whole set of youwill be good enough tounderstand that I reject any pretence atkindness you have thehypocrisy to offer! I despise youandwill have nothing to say toany of you! When I would have given mylife for one kind wordeven to see one of your facesyou all keptoff. But I won'tcomplain to you! I'm driven down here bythe cold; not either toamuse you or enjoy your society."
'"What could I ha' done?" beganEarnshaw. "How was I to blame?"
'"Oh! you are an exception" answeredMrs. Heathcliff. "I nevermissed such a concern as you."
'"But I offered more than onceandasked" he saidkindling up ather pertness"I asked Mr. Heathcliff tolet me wake for you - "
'"Be silent! I'll go out of doorsor anywhererather than haveyour disagreeable voice in my ear!" saidmy lady.
'Hareton muttered she might go to hellforhim! and unslinging hisgunrestrained himself from his Sundayoccupations no longer. Hetalked nowfreely enough; and she presentlysaw fit to retreat toher solitude: but the frost had set inandin spite of herprideshe was forced to condescend to ourcompanymore and more.HoweverI took care there should be no furtherscorning at my goodnature: ever sinceI've been as stiff asherself; and she has nolover or liker among us: and she does notdeserve one; forletthem say the least word to herand she'll curlback withoutrespect of any one. She'll snap at themaster himselfand as goodas dares him to thrash her; and the more hurtshe getsthe morevenomous she grows.'
At firston hearing this account from ZillahI determined toleave my situationtake a cottageand getCatherine to come andlive with me: but Mr. Heathcliff would assoon permit that as hewould set up Hareton in an independent house;and I can see noremedyat presentunless she could marryagain; and that schemeit does not come within my province to arrange.
Thus ended Mrs. Dean's story. Notwithstanding the doctor'sprophecyI am rapidly recovering strength; andthough it be onlythe second week in JanuaryI propose gettingout on horseback in aday or twoand riding over to WutheringHeightsto inform mylandlord that I shall spend the next six monthsin London; andifhe likeshe may look out for another tenant totake the placeafter October. I would not pass anotherwinter here for much.
YESTERDAY was brightcalmand frosty. Iwent to the Heights as Iproposed: my housekeeper entreated me tobear a little note fromher to her young ladyand I did not refusefor the worthy womanwas not conscious of anything odd in herrequest. The front doorstood openbut the jealous gate was fastenedas at my last visit;I knocked and invoked Earnshaw from among thegarden-beds; heunchained itand I entered. The fellowis as handsome a rustic asneed be seen. I took particular notice ofhim this time; but thenhe does his best apparently to make the leastof his advantages.
I asked if Mr. Heathcliff were at home? He answeredNo; but hewould be in at dinner-time. It was eleveno'clockand I announcedmy intention of going in and waiting for him;at which heimmediately flung down his tools andaccompanied mein the officeof watchdognot as a substitute for the host.
We entered together; Catherine was theremaking herself useful inpreparing some vegetables for the approachingmeal; she looked moresulky and less spirited than when I had seenher first. She hardlyraised her eyes to notice meand continued heremployment with thesame disregard to common forms of politeness asbefore; neverreturning my bow and good-morning by theslightest acknowledgment.
'She does not seem so amiable' I thought'asMrs. Dean wouldpersuade me to believe. She's a beautyit is true; but not anangel.'
Earnshaw surlily bid her remove her things tothe kitchen. 'Removethem yourself' she saidpushing them from heras soon as she haddone; and retiring to a stool by the windowwhere she began tocarve figures of birds and beasts out of theturnip-parings in herlap. I approached herpretending todesire a view of the garden;andas I fanciedadroitly dropped Mrs. Dean'snote on to herkneeunnoticed by Hareton - but she askedaloud'What is that?'And chucked it off.
'A letter from your old acquaintancethehousekeeper at theGrange' I answered; annoyed at her exposing mykind deedandfearful lest it should be imagined a missive ofmy own. She wouldgladly have gathered it up at this informationbut Hareton beather; he seized and put it in his waistcoatsaying Mr. Heathcliffshould look at it first. ThereatCatherine silently turned herface from usandvery stealthilydrew outher pocket-handkerchief and applied it to her eyes; andher cousinafterstruggling awhile to keep down his softerfeelingspulled out theletter and flung it on the floor beside herasungraciously as hecould. Catherine caught and perused iteagerly; then she put a fewquestions to me concerning the inmatesrational and irrationalofher former home; and gazing towards the hillsmurmured insoliloquy:
'I should like to be riding Minny down there! I should like to beclimbing up there! Oh! I'm tired -I'm STALLEDHareton!' Andshe leant her pretty head back against thesillwith half a yawnand half a sighand lapsed into an aspect ofabstracted sadness:neither caring nor knowing whether we remarkedher.
'Mrs. Heathcliff' I saidafter sitting sometime mute'you arenot aware that I am an acquaintance of yours?so intimate that Ithink it strange you won't come and speak tome. My housekeepernever wearies of talking about and praisingyou; and she'll begreatly disappointed if I return with no newsof or from youexcept that you received her letter and saidnothing!'
She appeared to wonder at this speechandasked-
'Does Ellen like you?'
'Yesvery well' I repliedhesitatingly.
'You must tell her' she continued'that Iwould answer herletterbut I have no materials for writing: not even a book fromwhich I might tear a leaf.'
'No books!' I exclaimed. 'How do youcontrive to live here withoutthem? if I may take the liberty to inquire. Though provided with alarge libraryI'm frequently very dull at theGrange; take mybooks awayand I should be desperate!'
'I was always readingwhen I had them' saidCatherine; 'and Mr.Heathcliff never reads; so he took it into hishead to destroy mybooks. I have not had a glimpse of onefor weeks. Only onceIsearched through Joseph's store of theologytohis greatirritation; and onceHaretonI came upon asecret stock in yourroom - some Latin and Greekand some tales andpoetry: all oldfriends. I brought the last here - andyou gathered themas amagpie gathers silver spoonsfor the mere loveof stealing! Theyare of no use to you; or else you concealedthem in the bad spiritthatas you cannot enjoy themnobody elseshall. Perhaps YOURenvy counselled Mr. Heathcliff to rob me of mytreasures? But I'vemost of them written on my brain and printed inmy heartand youcannot deprive me of those!'
Earnshaw blushed crimson when his cousin madethis revelation ofhis private literary accumulationsandstammered an indignantdenial of her accusations.
'Mr. Hareton is desirous of increasing hisamount of knowledge' Isaidcoming to his rescue. 'He is notENVIOUSbut EMULOUS ofyour attainments. He'll be a cleverscholar in a few years.'
'And he wants me to sink into a duncemeantime' answeredCatherine. 'YesI hear him trying tospell and read to himselfand pretty blunders he makes! I wish youwould repeat Chevy Chaseas you did yesterday: it was extremelyfunny. I heard you; and Iheard you turning over the dictionary to seekout the hard wordsand then cursing because you couldn't readtheir explanations!'
The young man evidently thought it too bad thathe should belaughed at for his ignoranceand then laughedat for trying toremove it. I had a similar notion; andremembering Mrs. Dean'sanecdote of his first attempt at enlighteningthe darkness in whichhe had been rearedI observed- 'ButMrs.Heathcliffwe haveeach had a commencementand each stumbled andtottered on thethreshold; had our teachers scorned instead ofaiding uswe shouldstumble and totter yet.'
'Oh!' she replied'I don't wish to limit hisacquirements: stillhe has no right to appropriate what is mineand make it ridiculousto me with his vile mistakes andmispronunciations! Those booksboth prose and verseare consecrated to me byother associations;and I hate to have them debased and profaned inhis mouth!Besidesof allhe has selected my favouritepieces that I lovethe most to repeatas if out of deliberatemalice.'
Hareton's chest heaved in silence a minute: he laboured under asevere sense of mortification and wrathwhichit was no easy taskto suppress. I roseandfrom agentlemanly idea of relieving hisembarrassmenttook up my station in thedoorwaysurveying theexternal prospect as I stood. He followedmy exampleand left theroom; but presently reappearedbearing half adozen volumes in hishandswhich he threw into Catherine's lapexclaiming- 'Takethem! I never want to hearor readorthink of them again!'
'I won't have them now' she answered. 'Ishall connect them withyouand hate them.'
She opened one that had obviously been oftenturned overand reada portion in the drawling tone of a beginner;then laughedandthrew it from her. 'And listen' shecontinuedprovokinglycommencing a verse of an old ballad in the samefashion.
But his self-love would endure no furthertorment: I heardandnot altogether disapprovinglya manual cheekgiven to her saucytongue. The little wretch had done herutmost to hurt her cousin'ssensitive though uncultivated feelingsand aphysical argument wasthe only mode he had of balancing the accountand repaying itseffects on the inflictor. He afterwardsgathered the books andhurled them on the fire. I read in hiscountenance what anguish itwas to offer that sacrifice to spleen. Ifancied that as theyconsumedhe recalled the pleasure they hadalready impartedandthe triumph and ever-increasing pleasure he hadanticipated fromthem; and I fancied I guessed the incitement tohis secret studiesalso. He had been content with dailylabour and rough animalenjoymentstill Catherine crossed his path. Shame at her scornand hope of her approvalwere his firstprompters to higherpursuits; and instead of guarding him from oneand winning him tothe otherhis endeavours to raise himself hadproduced just thecontrary result.
'Yes that's all the good that such a brute asyou can get fromthem!' cried Catherinesucking her damagedlipand watching theconflagration with indignant eyes.
'You'd BETTER hold your tonguenow' heanswered fiercely.
And his agitation precluded further speech; headvanced hastily tothe entrancewhere I made way for him topass. But ere he hadcrossed the door-stonesMr. Heathcliffcomingup the causewayencountered himand laying hold of hisshoulder asked- 'What'sto do nowmy lad?'
'Naughtnaught' he saidand broke away toenjoy his grief andanger in solitude.
Heathcliff gazed after himand sighed.
'It will be odd if I thwart myself' hemutteredunconscious thatI was behind him. 'But when I look forhis father in his faceIfind HER every day more! How the devil ishe so like? I canhardly bear to see him.'
He bent his eyes to the groundand walkedmoodily in. There was arestlessanxious expression in hiscountenance. I had neverremarked there before; and he looked sparer inperson. Hisdaughter-in-lawon perceiving him through thewindowimmediatelyescaped to the kitchenso that I remainedalone.
'I'm glad to see you out of doors againMr.Lockwood' he saidinreply to my greeting; 'from selfish motivespartly: I don't thinkI could readily supply your loss in thisdesolation. I've wonderedmore than once what brought you here.'
'An idle whimI fearsir' was my answer; 'orelse an idle whimis going to spirit me away. I shall setout for London next week;and I must give you warning that I feel nodisposition to retainThrushcross Grange beyond the twelve months Iagreed to rent it. Ibelieve I shall not live there any more.'
'Ohindeed; you're tired of being banishedfrom the worldareyou?' he said. 'But if you be coming toplead off paying for aplace you won't occupyyour journey isuseless: I never relent inexacting my due from any one.'
'I'm coming to plead off nothing about it' Iexclaimedconsiderably irritated. 'Should you wishitI'll settle with younow' and I drew my note-book from my pocket.
'Nono' he repliedcoolly; 'you'll leavesufficient behind tocover your debtsif you fail to return: I'm not in such a hurry.Sit down and take your dinner with us; a guestthat is safe fromrepeating his visit can generally be madewelcome. Catherine bringthe things in: where are you?'
Catherine reappearedbearing a tray of knivesand forks.
'You may get your dinner with Joseph' mutteredHeathcliffaside'and remain in the kitchen till he is gone.'
She obeyed his directions very punctually: perhaps she had notemptation to transgress. Living amongclowns and misanthropistsshe probably cannot appreciate a better classof people when shemeets them.
With Mr. Heathcliffgrim and saturnineon theone handandHaretonabsolutely dumbon the otherI madea somewhat cheerlessmealand bade adieu early. I would havedeparted by the back wayto get a last glimpse of Catherine and annoyold Joseph; butHareton received orders to lead up my horseand my host himselfescorted me to the doorso I could not fulfilmy wish.
'How dreary life gets over in that house!' Ireflectedwhileriding down the road. 'What a realisationof something moreromantic than a fairy tale it would have beenfor Mrs. LintonHeathcliffhad she and I struck up anattachmentas her goodnurse desiredand migrated together into thestirring atmosphereof the town!'
1802. - This September I was invited todevastate the moors of afriend in the northand on my journey to hisabodeI unexpectedlycame within fifteen miles of Gimmerton. The ostler at a roadsidepublic-house was holding a pail of water torefresh my horseswhena cart of very green oatsnewly reapedpassedbyand heremarked- 'Yon's frough Gimmertonnah! They're allas threewick' after other folk wi' ther harvest.'
'Gimmerton?' I repeated - my residence in thatlocality had alreadygrown dim and dreamy. 'Ah! I know. How far is it from this?'
'Happen fourteen mile o'er th' hills; and arough road' heanswered.
A sudden impulse seized me to visit ThrushcrossGrange. It wasscarcely noonand I conceived that I might aswell pass the nightunder my own roof as in an inn. BesidesI could spare a dayeasily to arrange matters with my landlordandthus save myselfthe trouble of invading the neighbourhoodagain. Having restedawhileI directed my servant to inquire theway to the village;andwith great fatigue to our beastswemanaged the distance insome three hours.
I left him thereand proceeded down the valleyalone. The greychurch looked greyerand the lonely churchyardlonelier. Idistinguished a moor-sheep cropping the shortturf on the graves.It was sweetwarm weather - too warm fortravelling; but the heatdid not hinder me from enjoying the delightfulscenery above andbelow: had I seen it nearer AugustI'msure it would have temptedme to waste a month among its solitudes. In winter nothing moredrearyin summer nothing more divinethanthose glens shut in byhillsand those bluffbold swells of heath.
I reached the Grange before sunsetand knockedfor admittance; butthe family had retreated into the backpremisesI judgedby onethinblue wreathcurling from the kitchenchimneyand they didnot hear. I rode into the court. Under the porcha girl of nineor ten sat knittingand an old woman reclinedon the housestepssmoking a meditative pipe.
'Is Mrs. Dean within?' I demanded of the dame.
'Mistress Dean? Nay!' she answered'shedoesn't bide here:shoo's up at th' Heights.'
'Are you the housekeeperthen?' I continued.
'Eeaaw keep th' hause' she replied.
'WellI'm Mr. Lockwoodthe master. Arethere any rooms to lodgeme inI wonder? I wish to stay allnight.'
'T' maister!' she cried in astonishment. 'Whetwhoiver knew yahwur coming? Yah sud ha' send word. They's nowt norther dry normensful abaht t' place: nowt thereisn't!'
She threw down her pipe and bustled inthegirl followedand Ientered too; soon perceiving that her reportwas trueandmoreoverthat I had almost upset her wits bymy unwelcomeapparitionI bade her be composed. Iwould go out for a walk;andmeantime she must try to prepare a cornerof a sitting-roomfor me to sup inand a bedroom to sleep in. No sweeping anddustingonly good fire and dry sheets werenecessary. She seemedwilling to do her best; though she thrust thehearth-brush into thegrates in mistake for the pokerandmalappropriated several otherarticles of her craft: but I retiredconfiding in her energy fora resting-place against my return. Wuthering Heights was the goalof my proposed excursion. An afterthoughtbrought me backwhen Ihad quitted the court.
'All well at the Heights?' I inquired of thewoman.
'Eeaf'r owt ee knaw!' she answeredskurryingaway with a pan ofhot cinders.
I would have asked why Mrs. Dean had desertedthe Grangebut itwas impossible to delay her at such a crisisso I turned away andmade my exitrambling leisurely alongwiththe glow of a sinkingsun behindand the mild glory of a rising moonin front - onefadingand the other brightening - as Iquitted the parkandclimbed the stony by-road branching off to Mr.Heathcliff'sdwelling. Before I arrived in sight ofitall that remained ofday was a beamless amber light along the west: but I could seeevery pebble on the pathand every blade ofgrassby thatsplendid moon. I had neither to climb thegate nor to knock - ityielded to my hand. That is animprovementI thought. And Inoticed anotherby the aid of my nostrils; afragrance of stocksand wallflowers wafted on the air from amongstthe homely fruit-trees.
Both doors and lattices were open; and yetasis usually the casein a coal-districta fine red fire illuminedthe chimney: thecomfort which the eye derives from it rendersthe extra heatendurable. But the house of WutheringHeights is so large that theinmates have plenty of space for withdrawingout of its influence;and accordingly what inmates there were hadstationed themselvesnot far from one of the windows. I couldboth see them and hearthem talk before I enteredand looked andlistened in consequence;being moved thereto by a mingled sense ofcuriosity and envythatgrew as I lingered.
'Con-TRARY!' said a voice as sweet as a silverbell. 'That for thethird timeyou dunce! I'm not going totell you again.Recollector I'll pull your hair!'
'Contrarythen' answered anotherin deep butsoftened tones.'And nowkiss mefor minding so well.'
'Noread it over first correctlywithout asingle mistake.'
The male speaker began to read: he was ayoung manrespectablydressed and seated at a tablehaving a bookbefore him. Hishandsome features glowed with pleasureand hiseyes keptimpatiently wandering from the page to a smallwhite hand over hisshoulderwhich recalled him by a smart slap onthe cheekwheneverits owner detected such signs of inattention. Its owner stoodbehind; her lightshining ringlets blendingat intervalswithhis brown looksas she bent to superintend hisstudies; and herface - it was lucky he could not see her faceor he would neverhave been so steady. I could; and I bitmy lip in spiteat havingthrown away the chance I might have had ofdoing something besidesstaring at its smiting beauty.
The task was donenot free from furtherblunders; but the pupilclaimed a rewardand received at least fivekisses; whichhoweverhe generously returned. Thenthey came to the doorandfrom their conversation I judged they wereabout to issue out andhave a walk on the moors. I supposed Ishould be condemned inHareton Earnshaw's heartif not by his mouthto the lowest pit inthe infernal regions if I showed my unfortunateperson in hisneighbourhood then; and feeling very mean andmalignantI skulkedround to seek refuge in the kitchen. There was unobstructedadmittance on that side also; and at the doorsat my old friendNelly Deansewing and singing a song; whichwas often interruptedfrom within by harsh words of scorn andintoleranceuttered in farfrom musical accents.
'I'd raytherby th' haulfhev' 'em swearingi' my lugs fro'h mornto neeghtnor hearken ye hahsiver!' said thetenant of thekitchenin answer to an unheard speech ofNelly's. 'It's ablazing shamethat I cannot oppen t' blessedBookbut yah set upthem glories to sattanand all t' flaysomewickednesses that iverwere born into th' warld! Oh! ye're araight nowt; and shoo'sanother; and that poor lad 'll be lost atweenye. Poor lad!' headdedwith a groan; 'he's witched: I'msartin on't. OhLordjudge 'emfor there's norther law nor justiceamong wer rullers!'
'No! or we should be sitting in flaming fagotsI suppose'retorted the singer. 'But wishtold manand read your Bible likea Christianand never mind me. This is"Fairy Annie's Wedding" -a bonny tune - it goes to a dance.'
Mrs. Dean was about to recommencewhen Iadvanced; and recognisingme directlyshe jumped to her feetcrying -'Whybless youMr.Lockwood! How could you think ofreturning in this way? All'sshut up at Thrushcross Grange. You shouldhave given us notice!'
'I've arranged to be accommodated therefor aslong as I shallstay' I answered. 'I depart againto-morrow. And how are youtransplanted hereMrs. Dean? tell me that.'
'Zillah leftand Mr. Heathcliff wished me tocomesoon after youwent to Londonand stay till you returned. Butstep inpray!Have you walked from Gimmerton this evening?'
'From the Grange' I replied; 'and while theymake me lodging roomthereI want to finish my business with yourmaster; because Idon't think of having another opportunity in ahurry.'
'What businesssir?' said Nellyconducting meinto the house.'He's gone out at presentand won't returnsoon.'
'About the rent' I answered.
'Oh! then it is with Mrs. Heathcliff you mustsettle' sheobserved; 'or rather with me. She has notlearnt to manage heraffairs yetand I act for her: there'snobody else.'
I looked surprised.
'Ah! you have not heard of Heathcliff's deathI see' shecontinued.
'Heathcliff dead!' I exclaimedastonished. 'How long ago?'
'Three months since: but sit downandlet me take your hatandI'll tell you all about it. Stopyouhave had nothing to eathave you?'
'I want nothing: I have ordered supper athome. You sit down too.I never dreamt of his dying! Let me hearhow it came to pass. Yousay you don't expect them back for some time -the young people?'
'No - I have to scold them every evening fortheir late rambles:but they don't care for me. At leasthave a drink of our old ale;it will do you good: you seem weary.'
She hastened to fetch it before I could refuseand I heard Josephasking whether 'it warn't a crying scandal thatshe should havefollowers at her time of life? And thento get them jocks out o't' maister's cellar! He fair shaamed to'bide still and see it.'
She did not stay to retaliatebut re-enteredin a minutebearinga reaming silver pintwhose contents I laudedwith becomingearnestness. And afterwards she furnishedme with the sequel ofHeathcliff's history. He had a 'queer'endas she expressed it.
I was summoned to Wuthering Heightswithin afortnight of yourleaving usshe said; and I obeyed joyfullyfor Catherine's sake.My first interview with her grieved and shockedme: she hadaltered so much since our separation. Mr.Heathcliff did notexplain his reasons for taking a new mind aboutmy coming here; heonly told me he wanted meand he was tired ofseeing Catherine: Imust make the little parlour my sitting-roomand keep her with me.It was enough if he were obliged to see heronce or twice a day.She seemed pleased at this arrangement; andbydegreesI smuggledover a great number of booksand otherarticlesthat had formedher amusement at the Grange; and flatteredmyself we should get onin tolerable comfort. The delusion didnot last long. Catherinecontented at firstin a brief space grewirritable and restless.For one thingshe was forbidden to move out ofthe gardenand itfretted her sadly to be confined to its narrowbounds as springdrew on; for anotherin following the houseIwas forced to quither frequentlyand she complained ofloneliness: she preferredquarrelling with Joseph in the kitchen tositting at peace in hersolitude. I did not mind theirskirmishes: but Hareton was oftenobliged to seek the kitchen alsowhen themaster wanted to havethe house to himself! and though in thebeginning she either leftit at his approachor quietly joined in myoccupationsandshunned remarking or addressing him - andthough he was always assullen and silent as possible - after a whileshe changed herbehaviourand became incapable of letting himalone: talking athim; commenting on his stupidity and idleness;expressing herwonder how he could endure the life he lived -how he could sit awhole evening staring into the fireanddozing.
'He's just like a dogis he notEllen?' sheonce observed'or acart-horse? He does his workeats hisfoodand sleeps eternally!What a blankdreary mind he must have! Do you ever dreamHareton? Andif you dowhat is itabout? But you can't speak tome!'
Then she looked at him; but he would neitheropen his mouth norlook again.
'He'sperhapsdreaming now' she continued. 'He twitched hisshoulder as Juno twitches hers. Ask himEllen.'
'Mr. Hareton will ask the master to send youup-stairsif youdon't behave!' I said. He had not onlytwitched his shoulder butclenched his fistas if tempted to use it.
'I know why Hareton never speakswhen I am inthe kitchen' sheexclaimedon another occasion. 'He isafraid I shall laugh athim. Ellenwhat do you think? Hebegan to teach himself to readonce; andbecause I laughedhe burned hisbooksand dropped it:was he not a fool?'
'Were not you naughty?' I said; 'answer methat.'
'Perhaps I was' she went on; 'but I did notexpect him to be sosilly. Haretonif I gave you a bookwould you take it now? I'lltry!'
She placed one she had been perusing on hishand; he flung it offand mutteredif she did not give overhewould break her neck.
'WellI shall put it here' she said'in thetable-drawer; andI'm going to bed.'
Then she whispered me to watch whether hetouched itand departed.But he would not come near it; and so Iinformed her in themorningto her great disappointment. Isaw she was sorry for hispersevering sulkiness and indolence: herconscience reproved herfor frightening him off improving himself: she had done iteffectually. But her ingenuity was atwork to remedy the injury:while I ironedor pursued other suchstationary employments as Icould not well do in the parlourshe wouldbring some pleasantvolume and read it aloud to me. WhenHareton was thereshegenerally paused in an interesting partandleft the book lyingabout: that she did repeatedly; but hewas as obstinate as a muleandinstead of snatching at her baitin wetweather he took tosmoking with Joseph; and they sat likeautomatonsone on each sideof the firethe elder happily too deaf tounderstand her wickednonsenseas he would have called ittheyounger doing his best toseem to disregard it. On fine eveningsthe latter followed hisshooting expeditionsand Catherine yawned andsighedand teasedme to talk to herand ran off into the courtor garden the momentI began; andas a last resourcecriedandsaid she was tired ofliving: her life was useless.
Mr. Heathcliffwho grew more and moredisinclined to societyhadalmost banished Earnshaw from his apartment. Owing to an accidentat the commencement of Marchhe became forsome days a fixture inthe kitchen. His gun burst while out onthe hills by himself; asplinter cut his armand he lost a good dealof blood before hecould reach home. The consequence wasthatperforcehe wascondemned to the fireside and tranquillitytill he made it upagain. It suited Catherine to have himthere: at any rateitmade her hate her room up-stairs more thanever: and she wouldcompel me to find out business belowthat shemight accompany me.
On Easter MondayJoseph went to Gimmerton fairwith some cattle;andin the afternoonI was busy getting uplinen in the kitchen.Earnshaw satmorose as usualat the chimneycornerand my littlemistress was beguiling an idle hour withdrawing pictures on thewindow-panesvarying her amusement bysmothered bursts of songsand whispered ejaculationsand quick glancesof annoyance andimpatience in the direction of her cousinwhosteadfastly smokedand looked into the grate. At a noticethat I could do with her nolonger intercepting my lightshe removed tothe hearthstone. Ibestowed little attention on her proceedingsbutpresentlyIheard her begin - 'I've found outHaretonthat I want - that I'mglad - that I should like you to be my cousinnowif you had notgrown so cross to meand so rough.'
Hareton returned no answer.
'HaretonHaretonHareton! do you hear?' shecontinued.
'Get off wi' ye!' he growledwithuncompromising gruffness.
'Let me take that pipe' she saidcautiouslyadvancing her handand abstracting it from his mouth.
Before he could attempt to recover itit wasbrokenand behindthe fire. He swore at her and seizedanother.
'Stop' she cried'you must listen to mefirst; and I can't speakwhile those clouds are floating in my face.'
'Will you go to the devil!' he exclaimedferociously'and let mebe!'
'No' she persisted'I won't: I can'ttell what to do to make youtalk to me; and you are determined not tounderstand. When I callyou stupidI don't mean anything: Idon't mean that I despiseyou. Comeyou shall take notice of meHareton: you are mycousinand you shall own me.'
'I shall have naught to do wi' you and yourmucky prideand yourdamned mocking tricks!' he answered. 'I'll go to hellbody andsoulbefore I look sideways after you again. Side out o' t' gatenowthis minute!'
Catherine frownedand retreated to thewindow-seat chewing herlipand endeavouringby humming an eccentrictuneto conceal agrowing tendency to sob.
'You should be friends with your cousinMr.Hareton' Iinterrupted'since she repents of hersauciness. It would do youa great deal of good: it would make youanother man to have herfor a companion.'
'A companion!' he cried; 'when she hates meand does not think mefit to wipe her shoon! Nayif it made mea kingI'd not bescorned for seeking her good-will any more.'
'It is not I who hate youit is you who hateme!' wept Cathynolonger disguising her trouble. 'You hateme as much as Mr.Heathcliff doesand more.'
'You're a damned liar' began Earnshaw: 'why have I made himangryby taking your partthena hundredtimes? and that whenyou sneered at and despised meand - Go onplaguing meand I'llstep in yonderand say you worried me out ofthe kitchen!'
'I didn't know you took my part' she answereddrying her eyes;'and I was miserable and bitter at everybody;but now I thank youand beg you to forgive me: what can I dobesides?'
She returned to the hearthand franklyextended her hand. Heblackened and scowled like a thunder-cloudandkept his fistsresolutely clenchedand his gaze fixed on theground. Catherineby instinctmust have divined it was obdurateperversityand notdislikethat prompted this dogged conduct;forafter remaining aninstant undecidedshe stooped and impressed onhis cheek a gentlekiss. The little rogue thought I had notseen heranddrawingbackshe took her former station by thewindowquite demurely. Ishook my head reprovinglyand then she blushedand whispered -'Well! what should I have doneEllen? Hewouldn't shake handsand he wouldn't look: I must show himsome way that I like him -that I want to be friends.'
Whether the kiss convinced HaretonI cannottell: he was verycarefulfor some minutesthat his face shouldnot be seenandwhen he did raise ithe was sadly puzzledwhere to turn his eyes.
Catherine employed herself in wrapping ahandsome book neatly inwhite paperand having tied it with a bit ofribbonand addressedit to 'Mr. Hareton Earnshaw' she desired me tobe herambassadressand convey the present to itsdestined recipient.
'And tell himif he'll take itI'll come andteach him to read itright' she said; 'andif he refuse itI'llgo upstairsandnever tease him again.'
I carried itand repeated the message;anxiously watched by myemployer. Hareton would not open hisfingersso I laid it on hisknee. He did not strike it offeither. I returned to my work.Catherine leaned her head and arms on thetabletill she heard theslight rustle of the covering being removed;then she stole awayand quietly seated herself beside her cousin. He trembledand hisface glowed: all his rudeness and all hissurly harshness haddeserted him: he could not summoncourageat firstto utter asyllable in reply to her questioning lookandher murmuredpetition.
'Say you forgive meHaretondo. You canmake me so happy byspeaking that little word.'
He muttered something inaudible.
'And you'll be my friend?' added Catherineinterrogatively.
'Nayyou'll be ashamed of me every day of yourlife' he answered;'and the more ashamedthe more you know me;and I cannot bide it.'
'So you won't be my friend?' she saidsmilingas sweet as honeyand creeping close up.
I overheard no further distinguishable talkbuton looking roundagainI perceived two such radiantcountenances bent over the pageof the accepted bookthat I did not doubt thetreaty had beenratified on both sides; and the enemies werethenceforthswornallies.
The work they studied was full of costlypictures; and those andtheir position had charm enough to keep themunmoved till Josephcame home. Hepoor manwas perfectlyaghast at the spectacle ofCatherine seated on the same bench with HaretonEarnshawleaningher hand on his shoulder; and confounded at hisfavourite'sendurance of her proximity: it affectedhim too deeply to allow anobservation on the subject that night. His emotion was onlyrevealed by the immense sighs he drewas hesolemnly spread hislarge Bible on the tableand overlaid it withdirty bank-notesfrom his pocket-bookthe produce of the day'stransactions. Atlength he summoned Hareton from his seat.
'Tak' these in to t' maisterlad' he said'and bide there. I'sgang up to my own rahm. This hoile'sneither mensful nor seemlyfor us: we mun side out and seearchanother.'
'ComeCatherine' I said'we must "sideout" too: I've done myironing. Are you ready to go?'
'It is not eight o'clock!' she answeredrisingunwillingly.
'HaretonI'll leave this book upon thechimney-pieceand I'llbring some more to-morrow.'
'Ony books that yah leaveI shall tak' intoth' hahse' saidJoseph'and it'll be mitch if yah find 'emagean; soayah mayplase yerseln!'
Cathy threatened that his library should payfor hers; andsmilingas she passed Haretonwent singing up-stairs: lighter of heartIventure to saythan ever she had been underthat roof before;exceptperhapsduring her earliest visits toLinton.
The intimacy thus commenced grew rapidly;though it encounteredtemporary interruptions. Earnshaw was notto be civilized with awishand my young lady was no philosopherandno paragon ofpatience; but both their minds tending to thesame point - oneloving and desiring to esteemand the otherloving and desiring tobe esteemed - they contrived in the end toreach it.
You seeMr. Lockwoodit was easy enough towin Mrs. Heathcliff'sheart. But nowI'm glad you did nottry. The crown of all mywishes will be the union of those two. Ishall envy no one ontheir wedding day: there won't be ahappier woman than myself inEngland!
ON the morrow of that MondayEarnshaw beingstill unable to followhis ordinary employmentsand thereforeremaining about the houseI speedily found it would be impracticable toretain my chargebeside meas heretofore. She gotdownstairs before meand outinto the gardenwhere she had seen her cousinperforming some easywork; and when I went to bid them come tobreakfastI saw she hadpersuaded him to clear a large space of groundfrom currant andgooseberry bushesand they were busy planningtogether animportation of plants from the Grange.
I was terrified at the devastation which hadbeen accomplished in abrief half-hour; the black-currant trees werethe apple of Joseph'seyeand she had just fixed her choice of aflower-bed in the midstof them.
'There! That will be all shown to themaster' I exclaimed'theminute it is discovered. And what excusehave you to offer fortaking such liberties with the garden? Weshall have a fineexplosion on the head of it: see if wedon't! Mr. HaretonIwonder you should have no more wit than to goand make that mess ather bidding!'
'I'd forgotten they were Joseph's' answeredEarnshawratherpuzzled; 'but I'll tell him I did it.'
We always ate our meals with Mr. Heathcliff. I held the mistress'spost in making tea and carving; so I wasindispensable at table.Catherine usually sat by mebut to-day shestole nearer toHareton; and I presently saw she would have nomore discretion inher friendship than she had in her hostility.
'Nowmind you don't talk with and notice yourcousin too much'were my whispered instructions as we enteredthe room. 'It willcertainly annoy Mr. Heathcliffand he'll bemad at you both.'
'I'm not going to' she answered.
The minute aftershe had sidled to himandwas sticking primrosesin his plate of porridge.
He dared not speak to her there: he daredhardly look; and yet shewent on teasingtill he was twice on the pointof being provokedto laugh. I frownedand then she glancedtowards the master:whose mind was occupied on other subjects thanhis companyas hiscountenance evinced; and she grew serious foran instantscrutinizing him with deep gravity. Afterwards she turnedandrecommenced her nonsense; at lastHaretonuttered a smotheredlaugh. Mr. Heathcliff started; his eyerapidly surveyed our facesCatherine met it with her accustomed look ofnervousness and yetdefiancewhich he abhorred.
'It is well you are out of my reach' heexclaimed. 'What fiendpossesses you to stare back at mecontinuallywith those infernaleyes? Down with them! and don't remind meof 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 plateand did not repeatthe confession.Mr. Heathcliff looked at him a bitand thensilently resumed hisbreakfast and his interrupted musing. Wehad nearly finishedandthe two young people prudently shifted widerasunderso Ianticipated no further disturbance during thatsitting: whenJoseph appeared at the doorrevealing by hisquivering lip andfurious eyes that the outrage committed on hisprecious shrubs wasdetected. He must have seen Cathy and hercousin about the spotbefore he examined itfor while his jawsworked like those of acow chewing its cudand rendered his speechdifficult tounderstandhe began:-
'I mun hev' my wageand I mun goa! I HEDaimed to dee wheare I'dsarved fur sixty year; and I thowt I'd lug mybooks up into t'garretand all my bits o' stuffand they sudhev' t' kitchen totheirseln; for t' sake o' quietness. Itwur hard to gie up my awnhearthstunbut I thowt I COULD do that! But nahshoo's taan mygarden fro' meand by th' heartmaisterIcannot stand it! Yahmay bend to th' yoak an ye will - I noan usedto 'tand an old mandoesn't sooin get used to new barthens. I'd rayther arn my bitean' my sup wi' a hammer in th' road!'
'Nownowidiot!' interrupted Heathcliff'cutit short! What'syour grievance? I'll interfere in noquarrels between you andNelly. She may thrust you into thecoal-hole for anything I care.'
'It's noan Nelly!' answered Joseph. 'Isudn't shift for Nelly -nasty ill nowt as shoo is. Thank God!SHOO cannot stale t' sowl o'nob'dy! Shoo wer niver soa handsomebutwhat a body mud look ather 'bout winking. It's yon flaysomegraceless queanthat'switched our ladwi' her bold een and herforrard ways - till -Nay! it fair brusts my heart! He'sforgotten all I've done forhimand made on himand goan and riven up awhole row o' t'grandest currant-trees i' t' garden!' and herehe lamentedoutright; unmanned by a sense of his bitterinjuriesandEarnshaw's ingratitude and dangerous condition.
'Is the fool drunk?' asked Mr. Heathcliff. 'Haretonis it youhe's finding fault with?'
'I've pulled up two or three bushes' repliedthe young man; 'butI'm going to set 'em again.'
'And why have you pulled them up?' said themaster.
Catherine wisely put in her tongue.
'We wanted to plant some flowers there' shecried. 'I'm the onlyperson to blamefor I wished him to do it.'
'And who the devil gave YOU leave to touch astick about theplace?' demanded her father-in-lawmuchsurprised. 'And whoordered YOU to obey her?' he addedturning toHareton.
The latter was speechless; his cousin replied -'You shouldn'tgrudge a few yards of earth for me to ornamentwhen you have takenall my land!'
'Your landinsolent slut! You never hadany' said Heathcliff.
'And my money' she continued; returning hisangry glareandmeantime biting a piece of crustthe remnantof her breakfast.
'Silence!' he exclaimed. 'Get doneandbegone!'
'And Hareton's landand his money' pursuedthe reckless thing.'Hareton and I are friends now; and I shalltell him all aboutyou!'
The master seemed confounded a moment: hegrew paleand rose upeyeing her all the whilewith an expression ofmortal hate.
'If you strike meHareton will strike you'she said; 'so you mayas well sit down.'
'If Hareton does not turn you out of the roomI'll strike him tohell' thundered Heathcliff. 'Damnablewitch! dare you pretend torouse him against me? Off with her! Do you hear? Fling her intothe kitchen! I'll kill herEllen Deanif you let her come intomy sight again!'
Hareton triedunder his breathto persuadeher to go.
'Drag her away!' he criedsavagely. 'Areyou staying to talk?'And he approached to execute his own command.
'He'll not obey youwicked manany more'said Catherine; 'andhe'll soon detest you as much as I do.'
'Wisht! wisht!' muttered the young manreproachfully; 'I will nothear you speak so to him. Have done.'
'But you won't let him strike me?' she cried.
'Comethen' he whispered earnestly.
It was too late: Heathcliff had caughthold of her.
'NowYOU go!' he said to Earnshaw. 'Accursed witch! this time shehas provoked me when I could not bear it; andI'll make her repentit for ever!'
He had his hand in her hair; Hareton attemptedto release herlooksentreating him not to hurt her thatonce. Heathcliff'sblack eyes flashed; he seemed ready to tearCatherine in piecesand I was just worked up to risk coming to therescuewhen of asudden his fingers relaxed; he shifted hisgrasp from her head toher armand gazed intently in her face. Then he drew his handover his eyesstood a moment to collecthimself apparentlyandturning anew to Catherinesaidwith assumedcalmness - 'You mustlearn to avoid putting me in a passionor Ishall really murderyou some time! Go with Mrs. Deanandkeep with her; and confineyour insolence to her ears. As to HaretonEarnshawif I see himlisten to youI'll send him seeking his breadwhere he can get it!Your love will make him an outcast and abeggar. Nellytake her;and leave meall of you! Leave me!'
I led my young lady out: she was too gladof her escape to resist;the other followedand Mr. Heathcliff had theroom to himself tilldinner. I had counselled Catherine todine up-stairs; butas soonas he perceived her vacant seathe sent me tocall her. He spoketo none of usate very littleand went outdirectly afterwardsintimating that he should not return beforeevening.
The two new friends established themselves inthe house during hisabsence; where I heard Hareton sternly cheekhis cousinon heroffering a revelation of her father-in-law'sconduct to his father.He said he wouldn't suffer a word to be utteredin hisdisparagement: if he were the devilitdidn't signify; he wouldstand by him; and he'd rather she would abusehimselfas she usedtothan begin on Mr. Heathcliff. Catherine was waxing cross atthis; but he found means to make her hold hertongueby asking howshe would like HIM to speak ill of her father? Then shecomprehended that Earnshaw took the master'sreputation home tohimself; and was attached by ties stronger thanreason could break- chainsforged by habitwhich it would becruel to attempt toloosen. She showed a good heartthenceforthin avoiding bothcomplaints and expressions of antipathyconcerning Heathcliff; andconfessed to me her sorrow that she hadendeavoured to raise a badspirit between him and Hareton: indeedIdon't believe she hasever breathed a syllablein the latter'shearingagainst heroppressor since.
When this slight disagreement was overtheywere friends againand as busy as possible in their severaloccupations of pupil andteacher. I came in to sit with themafter I had done my work; andI felt so soothed and comforted to watch themthat I did notnotice how time got on. You knowtheyboth appeared in a measuremy children: I had long been proud ofone; and nowI was surethe other would be a source of equalsatisfaction. His honestwarmand intelligent nature shook off rapidlythe clouds ofignorance and degradation in which it had beenbred; andCatherine's sincere commendations acted as aspur to his industry.His brightening mind brightened his featuresand added spirit andnobility to their aspect: I could hardlyfancy it the sameindividual I had beheld on the day I discoveredmy little lady atWuthering Heightsafter her expedition to theCrags. While Iadmired and they laboureddusk drew onandwith it returned themaster. He came upon us quiteunexpectedlyentering by the frontwayand had a full view of the whole threeere we could raise ourheads to glance at him. WellIreflectedthere was never apleasanteror more harmless sight; and it willbe a burning shameto scold them. The red fire-light glowedon their two bonny headsand revealed their faces animated with theeager interest ofchildren; forthough he was twenty-three andshe eighteeneachhad so much of novelty to feel and learnthatneither experiencednor evinced the sentiments of soberdisenchanted maturity.
They lifted their eyes togetherto encounterMr. Heathcliff:perhaps you have never remarked that their eyesare preciselysimilarand they are those of CatherineEarnshaw. The presentCatherine has no other likeness to herexcepta breadth offoreheadand a certain arch of the nostrilthat makes her appearrather haughtywhether she will or not. With Hareton theresemblance is carried farther: it issingular at all timesTHENit was particularly striking; because hissenses were alertandhis mental faculties wakened to unwontedactivity. I suppose thisresemblance disarmed Mr. Heathcliff: hewalked to the hearth inevident agitation; but it quickly subsided ashe looked at theyoung man: orI should sayaltered itscharacter; for it wasthere yet. He took the book from hishandand glanced at the openpagethen returned it without any observation;merely signingCatherine away: her companion lingeredvery little behind herandI was about to depart alsobut he bid me sitstill.
'It is a poor conclusionis it not?' heobservedhaving broodedawhile on the scene he had just witnessed: 'an absurd terminationto my violent exertions? I get levers andmattocks to demolish thetwo housesand train myself to be capable ofworking likeHerculesand when everything is ready and inmy powerI find thewill to lift a slate off either roof hasvanished! My old enemieshave not beaten me; now would be the precisetime to revenge myselfon their representatives: I could do it;and none could hinder me.But where is the use? I don't care forstriking: I can't take thetrouble to raise my hand! That sounds asif I had been labouringthe whole time only to exhibit a fine trait ofmagnanimity. It isfar from being the case: I have lost thefaculty of enjoying theirdestructionand I am too idle to destroy fornothing.
'Nellythere is a strange change approaching;I'm in its shadow atpresent. I take so little interest in mydaily life that I hardlyremember to eat and drink. Those two whohave left the room arethe only objects which retain a distinctmaterial appearance to me;and that appearance causes me painamountingto agony. About HERI won't speak; and I don't desire to think; butI earnestly wishshe were invisible: her presence invokesonly maddeningsensations. HE moves me differently: and yet if I could do itwithout seeming insaneI'd never see himagain! You'll perhapsthink me rather inclined to become so' headdedmaking an effortto smile'if I try to describe the thousandforms of pastassociations and ideas he awakens or embodies. But you'll not talkof what I tell you; and my mind is so eternallysecluded in itselfit is tempting at last to turn it out toanother.
'Five minutes ago Hareton seemed apersonification of my youthnota human being; I felt to him in such a varietyof waysthat itwould have been impossible to have accosted himrationally. In thefirst placehis startling likeness toCatherine connected himfearfully with her. Thathoweverwhichyou may suppose the mostpotent to arrest my imaginationis actuallythe least: for whatis not connected with her to me? and what doesnot recall her? Icannot look down to this floorbut herfeatures are shaped in theflags! In every cloudin every tree -filling the air at nightand caught by glimpses in every object by day -I am surroundedwith her image! The most ordinary facesof men and women - my ownfeatures - mock me with a resemblance. The entire world is adreadful collection of memoranda that she didexistand that Ihave lost her! WellHareton's aspect wasthe ghost of my immortallove; of my wild endeavours to hold my right;my degradationmypridemy happinessand my anguish -
'But it is frenzy to repeat these thoughts toyou: only it willlet you know whywith a reluctance to bealways alonehis societyis no benefit; rather an aggravation of theconstant torment Isuffer: and it partly contributes torender me regardless how heand his cousin go on together. I can givethem no attention anymore.'
'But what do you mean by a CHANGEMr.Heathcliff?' I saidalarmedat his manner: though he was neither indanger of losing hissensesnor dyingaccording to my judgment: he was quite strongand healthy; andas to his reasonfromchildhood he had a delightin dwelling on dark thingsand entertainingodd fancies. He mighthave had a monomania on the subject of hisdeparted idol; but onevery other point his wits were as sound asmine.
'I shall not know that till it comes' he said;'I'm only halfconscious of it now.'
'You have no feeling of illnesshave you?' Iasked.
'NoNellyI have not' he answered.
'Then you are not afraid of death?' I pursued.
'Afraid? No!' he replied. 'I haveneither a fearnor apresentimentnor a hope of death. Whyshould I? With my hardconstitution and temperate mode of livingandunperilousoccupationsI ought toand probably SHALLremain above groundtill there is scarcely a black hair on myhead. And yet I cannotcontinue in this condition! I have toremind myself to breathe -almost to remind my heart to beat! And itis like bending back astiff spring: it is by compulsion that Ido the slightest act notprompted by one thought; and by compulsion thatI notice anythingalive or deadwhich is not associated with oneuniversal idea. Ihave a single wishand my whole being andfaculties are yearningto attain it. They have yearned towardsit so longand sounwaveringlythat I'm convinced it will bereached - and soon -because it has devoured my existence: Iam swallowed up in theanticipation of its fulfilment. Myconfessions have not relievedme; but they may account for some otherwiseunaccountable phases ofhumour which I show. O God! It is along fight; I wish it wereover!'
He began to pace the roommuttering terriblethings to himselftill I was inclined to believeas he saidJoseph didthatconscience had turned his heart to an earthlyhell. I wonderedgreatly how it would end. Though heseldom before had revealedthis state of mindeven by looksit was hishabitual moodI hadno doubt: he asserted it himself; but nota soulfrom his generalbearingwould have conjectured the fact. You did not when you sawhimMr. Lockwood: and at the period ofwhich I speakhe was justthe same as then; only fonder of continuedsolitudeand perhapsstill more laconic in company.
FOR some days after that evening Mr. Heathcliffshunned meeting usat meals; yet he would not consent formally toexclude Hareton andCathy. He had an aversion to yielding socompletely to hisfeelingschoosing rather to absent himself;and eating once intwenty-four hours seemed sufficient sustenancefor him.
One nightafter the family were in bedIheard him go downstairsand out at the front door. I did not hearhim re-enterand in themorning I found he was still away. Wewere in April then: theweather was sweet and warmthe grass as greenas showers and suncould make itand the two dwarf apple-treesnear the southern wallin full bloom. After breakfastCatherineinsisted on my bringinga chair and sitting with my work under thefir-trees at the end ofthe house; and she beguiled Haretonwho hadperfectly recoveredfrom his accidentto dig and arrange herlittle gardenwhich wasshifted to that corner by the influence ofJoseph's complaints. Iwas comfortably revelling in the springfragrance aroundand thebeautiful soft blue overheadwhen my youngladywho had run downnear the gate to procure some primrose rootsfor a borderreturnedonly half ladenand informed us that Mr.Heathcliff was coming in.'And he spoke to me' she addedwith aperplexed countenance.
'What did he say?' asked Hareton.
'He told me to begone as fast as I could' sheanswered. 'But helooked so different from his usual look that Istopped a moment tostare at him.'
'How?' he inquired.
'Whyalmost bright and cheerful. NoALMOST nothing - VERY MUCHexcitedand wildand glad!' she replied.
'Night-walking amuses himthen' I remarkedaffecting a carelessmanner: in reality as surprised as shewasand anxious toascertain the truth of her statement; for tosee the master lookingglad would not be an every-day spectacle. I framed an excuse to goin. Heathcliff stood at the open door; hewas paleand hetrembled: yetcertainlyhe had astrange joyful glitter in hiseyesthat altered the aspect of his wholeface.
'Will you have some breakfast?' I said. 'You must be hungryrambling about all night!' I wanted todiscover where he had beenbut I did not like to ask directly.
'NoI'm not hungry' he answeredaverting hisheadand speakingrather contemptuouslyas if he guessed I wastrying to divine theoccasion of his good humour.
I felt perplexed: I didn't know whetherit were not a properopportunity to offer a bit of admonition.
'I don't think it right to wander out ofdoors' I observed'instead of being in bed: it is not wiseat any rate this moistseason. I daresay you'll catch a bad coldor a fever: you havesomething the matter with you now!'
'Nothing but what I can bear' he replied; 'andwith the greatestpleasureprovided you'll leave me alone: get inand don't annoyme.'
I obeyed: andin passingI noticed hebreathed as fast as a cat.
'Yes!' I reflected to myself'we shall have afit of illness. Icannot conceive what he has been doing.'
That noon he sat down to dinner with usandreceived a heaped-upplate from my handsas if he intended to makeamends for previousfasting.
'I've neither cold nor feverNelly' heremarkedin allusion tomy morning's speech; 'and I'm ready to dojustice to the food yougive me.'
He took his knife and forkand was going tocommence eatingwhenthe inclination appeared to become suddenlyextinct. He laid themon the tablelooked eagerly towards thewindowthen rose and wentout. We saw him walking to and fro in thegarden while weconcluded our mealand Earnshaw said he'd goand ask why he wouldnot dine: he thought we had grieved himsome way.
'Wellis he coming?' cried Catherinewhen hercousin returned.
'Nay' he answered; 'but he's not angry: he seemed rarely pleasedindeed; only I made him impatient by speakingto him twice; andthen he bid me be off to you: he wonderedhow I could want thecompany of anybody else.'
I set his plate to keep warm on the fender; andafter an hour ortwo he re-enteredwhen the room was clearinno degree calmer:the same unnatural - it was unnatural -appearance of joy under hisblack brows; the same bloodless hueand histeeth visiblenow andthenin a kind of smile; his frame shiveringnot as one shiverswith chill or weaknessbut as atight-stretched cord vibrates - astrong thrillingrather than trembling.
I will ask what is the matterI thought; orwho should? And Iexclaimed - 'Have you heard any good newsMr.Heathcliff? Youlook uncommonly animated.'
'Where should good news come from to me?' hesaid. 'I'm animatedwith hunger; andseeminglyI must not eat.'
'Your dinner is here' I returned; 'why won'tyou get it?'
'I don't want it now' he mutteredhastily: 'I'll wait tillsupper. AndNellyonce for alllet mebeg you to warn Haretonand the other away from me. I wish to betroubled by nobody: Iwish to have this place to myself.'
'Is there some new reason for this banishment?'I inquired. 'Tellme why you are so queerMr. Heathcliff? Where were you lastnight? I'm not putting the questionthrough idle curiositybut -'
'You are putting the question through very idlecuriosity' heinterruptedwith a laugh. 'Yet I'llanswer it. Last night I wason the threshold of hell. To-dayI amwithin sight of my heaven.I have my eyes on it: hardly three feetto sever me! And nowyou'd better go! You'll neither see norhear anything to frightenyouif you refrain from prying.'
Having swept the hearth and wiped the tableIdeparted; moreperplexed than ever.
He did not quit the house again that afternoonand no one intrudedon his solitude; tillat eight o'clockIdeemed it properthoughunsummonedto carry a candle and his supper tohim. He wasleaning against the ledge of an open latticebut not looking out:his face was turned to the interior gloom. The fire had smoulderedto ashes; the room was filled with the dampmild air of the cloudyevening; and so stillthat not only the murmurof the beck downGimmerton was distinguishablebut its ripplesand its gurglingover the pebblesor through the large stoneswhich it could notcover. I uttered an ejaculation ofdiscontent at seeing the dismalgrateand commenced shutting the casementsone after anothertill I came to his.
'Must I close this?' I askedin order to rousehim; for he wouldnot stir.
The light flashed on his features as I spoke. OhMr. LockwoodIcannot express what a terrible start I got bythe momentary view!Those deep black eyes! That smileandghastly paleness! Itappeared to menot Mr. Heathcliffbut agoblin; andin myterrorI let the candle bend towards the walland it left me indarkness.
'Yesclose it' he repliedin his familiarvoice. 'Therethatis pure awkwardness! Why did you hold thecandle horizontally? Bequickand bring another.'
I hurried out in a foolish state of dreadandsaid to Joseph -'The master wishes you to take him a light andrekindle the fire.'For I dared not go in myself again just then.
Joseph rattled some fire into the shovelandwent: but he broughtit back immediatelywith the supper-tray inhis other handexplaining that Mr. Heathcliff was going tobedand he wantednothing to eat till morning. We heard himmount the stairsdirectly; he did not proceed to his ordinarychamberbut turnedinto that with the panelled bed: itswindowas I mentionedbeforeis wide enough for anybody to getthrough; and it struck methat he plotted another midnight excursionofwhich he had ratherwe had no suspicion.
'Is he a ghoul or a vampire?' I mused. Ihad read of such hideousincarnate demons. And then I set myselfto reflect how I hadtended him in infancyand watched him grow toyouthand followedhim almost through his whole course; and whatabsurd nonsense itwas to yield to that sense of horror. 'But where did he come fromthe little dark thingharboured by a good manto his bane?'muttered Superstitionas I dozed intounconsciousness. And Ibeganhalf dreamingto weary myself withimagining some fitparentage for him; andrepeating my wakingmeditationsI trackedhis existence over againwith grim variations;at lastpicturinghis death and funeral: of whichall Ican remember isbeingexceedingly vexed at having the task ofdictating an inscriptionfor his monumentand consulting the sextonabout it; andas hehad no surnameand we could not tell his agewe were obliged tocontent ourselves with the single word'Heathcliff.' That cametrue: we were. If you enter thekirkyardyou'll readon hisheadstoneonly thatand the date of hisdeath.
Dawn restored me to common sense. I roseand went into thegardenas soon as I could seeto ascertain ifthere were anyfootmarks under his window. There werenone. 'He has stayed athome' I thought'and he'll be all rightto-day.' I preparedbreakfast for the householdas was my usualcustombut toldHareton and Catherine to get theirs ere themaster came downforhe lay late. They preferred taking it outof doorsunder thetreesand I set a little table to accommodatethem.
On my re-entranceI found Mr. Heathcliffbelow. He and Josephwere conversing about some farming business; hegave clearminutedirections concerning the matter discussedbuthe spoke rapidlyand turned his head continually asideand hadthe same excitedexpressioneven more exaggerated. WhenJoseph quitted the room hetook his seat in the place he generally choseand I put a basin ofcoffee before him. He drew it nearerandthen rested his arms onthe tableand looked at the opposite wallasI supposedsurveying one particular portionup and downwith glitteringrestless eyesand with such eager interestthat he stoppedbreathing during half a minute together.
'Come now' I exclaimedpushing some breadagainst his hand'eatand drink thatwhile it is hot: it hasbeen waiting near anhour.'
He didn't notice meand yet he smiled. I'd rather have seen himgnash his teeth than smile so.
'Mr. Heathcliff! master!' I cried'don'tforGod's sakestare asif you saw an unearthly vision.'
'Don'tfor God's sakeshout so loud' hereplied. 'Turn roundand tell meare we by ourselves?'
'Of course' was my answer; 'of course we are.'
StillI involuntarily obeyed himas if I wasnot quite sure.With a sweep of his hand he cleared a vacantspace in front amongthe breakfast thingsand leant forward to gazemore at his ease.
NowI perceived he was not looking at thewall; for when Iregarded him aloneit seemed exactly that hegazed at somethingwithin two yards' distance. And whateverit wasit communicatedapparentlyboth pleasure and pain in exquisiteextremes: at leastthe anguishedyet rapturedexpression of hiscountenancesuggested that idea. The fancied objectwas not fixedeither:his eyes pursued it with unwearied diligenceandeven in speakingto mewere never weaned away. I vainlyreminded him of hisprotracted abstinence from food: if hestirred to touch anythingin compliance with my entreatiesif hestretched his hand out toget a piece of breadhis fingers clenchedbefore they reached itand remained on the tableforgetful of theiraim.
I sata model of patiencetrying to attracthis absorbedattention from its engrossing speculation; tillhe grew irritableand got upasking why I would not allow him tohave his own timein taking his meals? and saying that on thenext occasion I needn'twait: I might set the things down andgo. Having uttered thesewords he left the houseslowly sauntered downthe garden pathanddisappeared through the gate.
The hours crept anxiously by: anotherevening came. I did notretire to rest till lateand when I didIcould not sleep. Hereturned after midnightandinstead of goingto bedshut himselfinto the room beneath. I listenedandtossed aboutandfinallydressed and descended. It was too irksometo lie thereharassingmy brain with a hundred idle misgivings.
I distinguished Mr. Heathcliff's steprestlessly measuring thefloorand he frequently broke the silence by adeep inspirationresembling a groan. He muttered detachedwords also; the only oneI could catch was the name of Catherinecoupled with some wildterm of endearment or suffering; and spoken asone would speak to aperson present; low and earnestand wrung fromthe depth of hissoul. I had not courage to walk straightinto the apartment; but Idesired to divert him from his reverieandtherefore fell foul ofthe kitchen firestirred itand began toscrape the cinders. Itdrew him forth sooner than I expected. Heopened the doorimmediatelyand said - 'Nellycome here - isit morning? Come inwith your light.'
'It is striking four' I answered. 'Youwant a candle to take up-stairs: you might have lit one at thisfire.'
'NoI don't wish to go up-stairs' he said. 'Come inand kindleME a fireand do anything there is to do aboutthe room.'
'I must blow the coals red firstbefore I cancarry any' Irepliedgetting a chair and the bellows
He roamed to and fromeantimein a stateapproaching distraction;his heavy sighs succeeding each other so thickas to leave no spacefor common breathing between.
'When day breaks I'll send for Green' he said;'I wish to makesome legal inquiries of him while I can bestowa thought on thosemattersand while I can act calmly. Ihave not written my willyet; and how to leave my property I cannotdetermine. I wish Icould annihilate it from the face of theearth.'
'I would not talk soMr. Heathcliff' Iinterposed. 'Let yourwill be a while: you'll be spared torepent of your manyinjustices yet! I never expected thatyour nerves would bedisordered: they areat presentmarvellously sohowever; andalmost entirely through your own fault. The way you've passedthese three last days might knock up a Titan. Do take some foodand some repose. You need only look atyourself in a glass to seehow you require both. Your cheeks arehollowand your eyes blood-shotlike a person starving with hunger andgoing blind with lossof sleep.'
'It is not my fault that I cannot eat or rest'he replied. 'Iassure you it is through no settled designs. I'll do bothas soonas I possibly can. But you might as wellbid a man struggling inthe water rest within arms' length of theshore! I must reach itfirstand then I'll rest. Wellnevermind Mr. Green: as torepenting of my injusticesI've done noinjusticeand I repent ofnothing. I'm too happy; and yet I'm nothappy enough. My soul'sbliss kills my bodybut does not satisfyitself.'
'Happymaster?' I cried. 'Strangehappiness! If you would hearme without being angryI might offer someadvice that would makeyou happier.'
'What is that?' he asked. 'Give it.'
'You are awareMr. Heathcliff' I said'thatfrom the time youwere thirteen years old you have lived aselfishunchristian life;and probably hardly had a Bible in your handsduring all thatperiod. You must have forgotten thecontents of the bookand youmay not have space to search it now. Could it be hurtful to sendfor some one - some minister of anydenominationit does notmatter which - to explain itand show you howvery far you haveerred from its precepts; and how unfit you willbe for its heavenunless a change takes place before you die?'
'I'm rather obliged than angryNelly' hesaid'for you remind meof the manner in which I desire to be buried. It is to be carriedto the churchyard in the evening. You andHareton mayif youpleaseaccompany me: and mindparticularlyto notice that thesexton obeys my directions concerning the twocoffins! No ministerneed come; nor need anything be said over me. -I tell you I havenearly attained MY heaven; and that of othersis altogetherunvalued and uncovered by me.'
'And supposing you persevered in your obstinatefastand died bythat meansand they refused to bury you in theprecincts of thekirk?' I saidshocked at his godlessindifference. 'How would youlike it?'
'They won't do that' he replied: 'ifthey didyou must have meremoved secretly; and if you neglect it youshall provepracticallythat the dead are notannihilated!'
As soon as he heard the other members of thefamily stirring heretired to his denand I breathed freer. But in the afternoonwhile Joseph and Hareton were at their workhecame into thekitchen againandwith a wild lookbid mecome and sit in thehouse: he wanted somebody with him. I declined; telling himplainly that his strange talk and mannerfrightened meand I hadneither the nerve nor the will to be hiscompanion alone.
'I believe you think me a fiend' he saidwithhis dismal laugh:'something too horrible to live under a decentroof.' Then turningto Catherinewho was thereand who drewbehind me at hisapproachhe addedhalf sneeringly- 'WillYOU comechuck? I'llnot hurt you. No! to you I've made myselfworse than the devil.Wellthere is ONE who won't shrink from mycompany! By God! she'srelentless. Ohdamn it! It'sunutterably too much for flesh andblood to bear - even mine.'
He solicited the society of no one more. At dusk he went into hischamber. Through the whole nightand farinto the morningweheard him groaning and murmuring to himself. Hareton was anxiousto enter; but I bid him fetch Mr. Kennethandhe should go in andsee him. When he cameand I requestedadmittance and tried toopen the doorI found it locked; andHeathcliff bid us be damned.He was betterand would be left alone; so thedoctor went away.
The following evening was very wet: indeedit poured down tillday-dawn; andas I took my morning walk roundthe houseIobserved the master's window swinging openandthe rain drivingstraight in. He cannot be in bedIthought: those showers woulddrench him through. He must either be upor out. But I'll make nomore adoI'll go boldly and look.'
Having succeeded in obtaining entrance withanother keyI ran tounclose the panelsfor the chamber was vacant;quickly pushingthem asideI peeped in. Mr. Heathcliffwas there - laid on hisback. His eyes met mine so keen andfierceI started; and then heseemed to smile. I could not think himdead: but his face andthroat were washed with rain; the bed-clothesdrippedand he wasperfectly still. The latticeflapping toand frohad grazed onehand that rested on the sill; no blood trickledfrom the brokenskinand when I put my fingers to itI coulddoubt no more: hewas dead and stark!
I hasped the window; I combed his black longhair from hisforehead; I tried to close his eyes: toextinguishif possiblethat frightfullife-like gaze of exultationbefore any one elsebeheld it. They would not shut: they seemed to sneer at myattempts; and his parted lips and sharp whiteteeth sneered too!Taken with another fit of cowardiceI criedout for Joseph.Joseph shuffled up and made a noisebutresolutely refused tomeddle with him.
'Th' divil's harried off his soul' he cried'and he may hev' hiscarcass into t' barginfor aught I care! Ech! what a wicked 'unhe looksgirning at death!' and the old sinnergrinned in mockery.I thought he intended to cut a caper round thebed; but suddenlycomposing himselfhe fell on his kneesandraised his handsandreturned thanks that the lawful master and theancient stock wererestored to their rights.
I felt stunned by the awful event; and mymemory unavoidablyrecurred to former times with a sort ofoppressive sadness. Butpoor Haretonthe most wrongedwas the onlyone who reallysuffered much. He sat by the corpse allnightweeping in bitterearnest. He pressed its handand kissedthe sarcasticsavageface that every one else shrank fromcontemplating; and bemoanedhim with that strong grief which springsnaturally from a generousheartthough it be tough as tempered steel.
Mr. Kenneth was perplexed to pronounce of whatdisorder the masterdied. I concealed the fact of his havingswallowed nothing forfour daysfearing it might lead to troubleand thenI ampersuadedhe did not abstain on purpose: it was the consequenceof his strange illnessnot the cause.
We buried himto the scandal of the wholeneighbourhoodas hewished. Earnshaw and Ithe sextonandsix men to carry thecoffincomprehended the whole attendance. The six men departedwhen they had let it down into the grave: we stayed to see itcovered. Haretonwith a streaming facedug green sodsand laidthem over the brown mould himself: atpresent it is as smooth andverdant as its companion mounds - and I hopeits tenant sleeps assoundly. But the country folksif youask themwould swear onthe Bible that he WALKS: there are thosewho speak to having methim near the churchand on the moorand evenwithin this house.Idle talesyou'll sayand so say I. Yetthat old man by thekitchen fire affirms he has seen two on 'emlooking out of hischamber window on every rainy night since hisdeath:- and an oddthing happened to me about a month ago. Iwas going to the Grangeone evening - a dark eveningthreateningthunder - andjust atthe turn of the HeightsI encountered a littleboy with a sheepand two lambs before him; he was cryingterribly; and I supposedthe lambs were skittishand would not beguided.
'What is the mattermy little man?' I asked.
'There's Heathcliff and a woman yonderundert' nab' heblubbered'un' I darnut pass 'em.'
I saw nothing; but neither the sheep nor hewould go on so I bidhim take the road lower down. He probablyraised the phantoms fromthinkingas he traversed the moors aloneonthe nonsense he hadheard his parents and companions repeat. YetstillI don't likebeing out in the dark now; and I don't likebeing left by myself inthis grim house: I cannot help it; Ishall be glad when they leaveitand shift to the Grange.
'They are going to the Grangethen?' I said.
'Yes' answered Mrs. Dean'as soon as they aremarriedand thatwill be on New Year's Day.'
'And who will live here then?'
'WhyJoseph will take care of the houseandperhapsa lad tokeep him company. They will live in thekitchenand the rest willbe shut up.'
'For the use of such ghosts as choose toinhabit it?' I observed.
'NoMr. Lockwood' said Nellyshaking herhead. 'I believe thedead are at peace: but it is not right tospeak of them withlevity.'
At that moment the garden gate swung to; theramblers werereturning.
'THEY are afraid of nothing' I grumbledwatching their approachthrough the window. 'Togetherthey wouldbrave Satan and all hislegions.'
As they stepped on to the door-stonesandhalted to take a lastlook at the moon - ormore correctlyat eachother by her light -I felt irresistibly impelled to escape themagain; andpressing aremembrance into the hand of Mrs. Deananddisregarding herexpostulations at my rudenessI vanishedthrough the kitchen asthey opened the house-door; and so should haveconfirmed Joseph inhis opinion of his fellow-servant's gayindiscretionshad he notfortunately recognised me for a respectablecharacter by the sweetring of a sovereign at his feet.
My walk home was lengthened by a diversion inthe direction of thekirk. When beneath its wallsI perceiveddecay had made progresseven in seven months: many a windowshowed black gaps deprived ofglass; and slates jutted off here and therebeyond the right lineof the roofto be gradually worked off incoming autumn storms.
I soughtand soon discoveredthe threeheadstones on the slopenext the moor: on middle one greyandhalf buried in the heath;Edgar Linton's only harmonized by the turf andmoss creeping up itsfoot; Heathcliff's still bare.
I lingered round themunder that benign sky: watched the mothsfluttering among the heath and harebellslistened to the soft windbreathing through the grassand wondered howany one could everimagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers inthat quiet earth.