Saturday, November 10, 2007


Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
1801. - I have just returned from a visit to my landlord - the
solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. This is
certainly a beautiful country! In all England, I do not believe
that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from
the stir of society. A perfect misanthropist's heaven: and Mr.
Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation
between us. A capital fellow! He little imagined how my heart
warmed towards him when I beheld his black eyes withdraw so
suspiciously under their brows, as I rode up, and when his fingers
sheltered themselves, with a jealous resolution, still further in
his waistcoat, as I announced my name.
'Mr. Heathcliff?' I said.
A nod was the answer.
'Mr. Lockwood, your new tenant, sir. I do myself the honour of
calling as soon as possible after my arrival, to express the hope
that I have not inconvenienced you by my perseverance in soliciting
the occupation of Thrushcross Grange: I heard yesterday you had
had some thoughts - '
'Thrushcross Grange is my own, sir,' he interrupted, wincing. 'I
should not allow any one to inconvenience me, if I could hinder it
- walk in!'
The 'walk in' was uttered with closed teeth, and expressed the
sentiment, 'Go to the Deuce:' even the gate over which he leant
manifested no sympathising movement to the words; and I think that
circumstance determined me to accept the invitation: I felt
interested in a man who seemed more exaggeratedly reserved than
When he saw my horse's breast fairly pushing the barrier, he did
put out his hand to unchain it, and then sullenly preceded me up
the causeway, calling, as we entered the court, - 'Joseph, take Mr.
Lockwood's horse; and bring up some wine.'
'Here we have the whole establishment of domestics, I suppose,' was
the reflection suggested by this compound order. 'No wonder the
grass grows up between the flags, and cattle are the only hedgecutters.'
Joseph was an elderly, nay, an old man: very old, perhaps, though
hale and sinewy. 'The Lord help us!' he soliloquised in an
undertone of peevish displeasure, while relieving me of my horse:
looking, meantime, in my face so sourly that I charitably
conjectured he must have need of divine aid to digest his dinner,
and his pious ejaculation had no reference to my unexpected advent.
Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff's dwelling.
'Wuthering' being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive
of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy
weather. Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all
times, indeed: one may guess the power of the north wind blowing
over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the
end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching
their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun. Happily, the
architect had foresight to build it strong: the narrow windows are
deeply set in the wall, and the corners defended with large jutting
Before passing the threshold, I paused to admire a quantity of
grotesque carving lavished over the front, and especially about the
principal door; above which, among a wilderness of crumbling
griffins and shameless little boys, I detected the date '1500,' and
the name 'Hareton Earnshaw.' I would have made a few comments, and
requested a short history of the place from the surly owner; but
his attitude at the door appeared to demand my speedy entrance, or
complete departure, and I had no desire to aggravate his impatience
previous to inspecting the penetralium.
One stop brought us into the family sitting-room, without any
introductory lobby or passage: they call it here 'the house' preeminently.
It includes kitchen and parlour, generally; but I
believe at Wuthering Heights the kitchen is forced to retreat
altogether into another quarter: at least I distinguished a
chatter of tongues, and a clatter of culinary utensils, deep
within; and I observed no signs of roasting, boiling, or baking,
about the huge fireplace; nor any glitter of copper saucepans and
tin cullenders on the walls. One end, indeed, reflected splendidly
both light and heat from ranks of immense pewter dishes,
interspersed with silver jugs and tankards, towering row after row,
on a vast oak dresser, to the very roof. The latter had never been
under-drawn: its entire anatomy lay bare to an inquiring eye,
except where a frame of wood laden with oatcakes and clusters of
legs of beef, mutton, and ham, concealed it. Above the chimney
were sundry villainous old guns, and a couple of horse-pistols:
and, by way of ornament, three gaudily-painted canisters disposed
along its ledge. The floor was of smooth, white stone; the chairs,
high-backed, primitive structures, painted green: one or two heavy
black ones lurking in the shade. In an arch under the dresser
reposed a huge, liver-coloured bitch pointer, surrounded by a swarm
of squealing puppies; and other dogs haunted other recesses.
The apartment and furniture would have been nothing extraordinary
as belonging to a homely, northern farmer, with a stubborn
countenance, and stalwart limbs set out to advantage in kneebreeches
and gaiters. Such an individual seated in his arm-chair,
his mug of ale frothing on the round table before him, is to be
seen in any circuit of five or six miles among these hills, if you
go at the right time after dinner. But Mr. Heathcliff forms a
singular contrast to his abode and style of living. He is a darkskinned
gipsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman: that
is, as much a gentleman as many a country squire: rather slovenly,
perhaps, yet not looking amiss with his negligence, because he has
an erect and handsome figure; and rather morose. Possibly, some
people might suspect him of a degree of under-bred pride; I have a
sympathetic chord within that tells me it is nothing of the sort:
I know, by instinct, his reserve springs from an aversion to showy
displays of feeling - to manifestations of mutual kindliness.
He'll love and hate equally under cover, and esteem it a species of
impertinence to be loved or hated again. No, I'm running on too
fast: I bestow my own attributes over-liberally on him. Mr.
Heathcliff may have entirely dissimilar reasons for keeping his
hand out of the way when he meets a would-be acquaintance, to those
which actuate me. Let me hope my constitution is almost peculiar:
my dear mother used to say I should never have a comfortable home;
and only last summer I proved myself perfectly unworthy of one.
While enjoying a month of fine weather at the sea-coast, I was
thrown into the company of a most fascinating creature: a real
goddess in my eyes, as long as she took no notice of me. I 'never
told my love' vocally; still, if looks have language, the merest
idiot might have guessed I was over head and ears: she understood
me at last, and looked a return - the sweetest of all imaginable
looks. And what did I do? I confess it with shame - shrunk icily
into myself, like a snail; at every glance retired colder and
farther; till finally the poor innocent was led to doubt her own
senses, and, overwhelmed with confusion at her supposed mistake,
persuaded her mamma to decamp. By this curious turn of disposition
I have gained the reputation of deliberate heartlessness; how
undeserved, I alone can appreciate.
I took a seat at the end of the hearthstone opposite that towards
which my landlord advanced, and filled up an interval of silence by
attempting to caress the canine mother, who had left her nursery,
and was sneaking wolfishly to the back of my legs, her lip curled
up, and her white teeth watering for a snatch. My caress provoked
a long, guttural gnarl.
'You'd better let the dog alone,' growled Mr. Heathcliff in unison,
checking fiercer demonstrations with a punch of his foot. 'She's
not accustomed to be spoiled - not kept for a pet.' Then, striding
to a side door, he shouted again, 'Joseph!'
Joseph mumbled indistinctly in the depths of the cellar, but gave
no intimation of ascending; so his master dived down to him,
leaving me VIS-A-VIS the ruffianly bitch and a pair of grim shaggy
sheep-dogs, who shared with her a jealous guardianship over all my
movements. Not anxious to come in contact with their fangs, I sat
still; but, imagining they would scarcely understand tacit insults,
I unfortunately indulged in winking and making faces at the trio,
and some turn of my physiognomy so irritated madam, that she
suddenly broke into a fury and leapt on my knees. I flung her
back, and hastened to interpose the table between us. This
proceeding aroused the whole hive: half-a-dozen four-footed
fiends, of various sizes and ages, issued from hidden dens to the
common centre. I felt my heels and coat-laps peculiar subjects of
assault; and parrying off the larger combatants as effectually as I
could with the poker, I was constrained to demand, aloud,
assistance from some of the household in re-establishing peace.
Mr. Heathcliff and his man climbed the cellar steps with vexatious
phlegm: I don't think they moved one second faster than usual,
though the hearth was an absolute tempest of worrying and yelping.
Happily, an inhabitant of the kitchen made more despatch: a lusty
dame, with tucked-up gown, bare arms, and fire-flushed cheeks,
rushed into the midst of us flourishing a frying-pan: and used
that weapon, and her tongue, to such purpose, that the storm
subsided magically, and she only remained, heaving like a sea after
a high wind, when her master entered on the scene.
'What the devil is the matter?' he asked, eyeing me in a manner
that I could ill endure, after this inhospitable treatment.
'What the devil, indeed!' I muttered. 'The herd of possessed swine
could have had no worse spirits in them than those animals of
yours, sir. You might as well leave a stranger with a brood of
'They won't meddle with persons who touch nothing,' he remarked,
putting the bottle before me, and restoring the displaced table.
'The dogs do right to be vigilant. Take a glass of wine?'
'No, thank you.'
'Not bitten, are you?'
'If I had been, I would have set my signet on the biter.'
Heathcliff's countenance relaxed into a grin.
'Come, come,' he said, 'you are flurried, Mr. Lockwood. Here, take
a little wine. Guests are so exceedingly rare in this house that I
and my dogs, I am willing to own, hardly know how to receive them.
Your health, sir?'
I bowed and returned the pledge; beginning to perceive that it
would be foolish to sit sulking for the misbehaviour of a pack of
curs; besides, I felt loth to yield the fellow further amusement at
my expense; since his humour took that turn. He - probably swayed
by prudential consideration of the folly of offending a good tenant
- relaxed a little in the laconic style of chipping off his
pronouns and auxiliary verbs, and introduced what he supposed would
be a subject of interest to me, - a discourse on the advantages and
disadvantages of my present place of retirement. I found him very
intelligent on the topics we touched; and before I went home, I was
encouraged so far as to volunteer another visit to-morrow. He
evidently wished no repetition of my intrusion. I shall go,
notwithstanding. It is astonishing how sociable I feel myself
compared with him.
YESTERDAY afternoon set in misty and cold. I had half a mind to
spend it by my study fire, instead of wading through heath and mud
to Wuthering Heights. On coming up from dinner, however, (N.B. - I
dine between twelve and one o'clock; the housekeeper, a matronly
lady, taken as a fixture along with the house, could not, or would
not, comprehend my request that I might be served at five) - on
mounting the stairs with this lazy intention, and stepping into the
room, I saw a servant-girl on her knees surrounded by brushes and
coal-scuttles, and raising an infernal dust as she extinguished the
flames with heaps of cinders. This spectacle drove me back
immediately; I took my hat, and, after a four-miles' walk, arrived
at Heathcliff's garden-gate just in time to escape the first
feathery flakes of a snow-shower.
On that bleak hill-top the earth was hard with a black frost, and
the air made me shiver through every limb. Being unable to remove
the chain, I jumped over, and, running up the flagged causeway
bordered with straggling gooseberry-bushes, knocked vainly for
admittance, till my knuckles tingled and the dogs howled.
'Wretched inmates!' I ejaculated, mentally, 'you deserve perpetual
isolation from your species for your churlish inhospitality. At
least, I would not keep my doors barred in the day-time. I don't
care - I will get in!' So resolved, I grasped the latch and shook
it vehemently. Vinegar-faced Joseph projected his head from a
round window of the barn.
'What are ye for?' he shouted. 'T' maister's down i' t' fowld. Go
round by th' end o' t' laith, if ye went to spake to him.'
'Is there nobody inside to open the door?' I hallooed,
'There's nobbut t' missis; and shoo'll not oppen 't an ye mak' yer
flaysome dins till neeght.'
'Why? Cannot you tell her whom I am, eh, Joseph?'
'Nor-ne me! I'll hae no hend wi't,' muttered the head, vanishing.
The snow began to drive thickly. I seized the handle to essay
another trial; when a young man without coat, and shouldering a
pitchfork, appeared in the yard behind. He hailed me to follow
him, and, after marching through a wash-house, and a paved area
containing a coal-shed, pump, and pigeon-cot, we at length arrived
in the huge, warm, cheerful apartment where I was formerly
received. It glowed delightfully in the radiance of an immense
fire, compounded of coal, peat, and wood; and near the table, laid
for a plentiful evening meal, I was pleased to observe the
'missis,' an individual whose existence I had never previously
suspected. I bowed and waited, thinking she would bid me take a
seat. She looked at me, leaning back in her chair, and remained
motionless and mute.
'Rough weather!' I remarked. 'I'm afraid, Mrs. Heathcliff, the
door must bear the consequence of your servants' leisure
attendance: I had hard work to make them hear me.'
She never opened her mouth. I stared - she stared also: at any
rate, she kept her eyes on me in a cool, regardless manner,
exceedingly embarrassing and disagreeable.
'Sit down,' said the young man, gruffly. 'He'll be in soon.'
I obeyed; and hemmed, and called the villain Juno, who deigned, at
this second interview, to move the extreme tip of her tail, in
token of owning my acquaintance.
'A beautiful animal!' I commenced again. 'Do you intend parting
with the little ones, madam?'
'They are not mine,' said the amiable hostess, more repellingly
than Heathcliff himself could have replied.
'Ah, your favourites are among these?' I continued, turning to an
obscure cushion full of something like cats.
'A strange choice of favourites!' she observed scornfully.
Unluckily, it was a heap of dead rabbits. I hemmed once more, and
drew closer to the hearth, repeating my comment on the wildness of
the evening.
'You should not have come out,' she said, rising and reaching from
the chimney-piece two of the painted canisters.
Her position before was sheltered from the light; now, I had a
distinct view of her whole figure and countenance. She was
slender, and apparently scarcely past girlhood: an admirable form,
and the most exquisite little face that I have ever had the
pleasure of beholding; small features, very fair; flaxen ringlets,
or rather golden, hanging loose on her delicate neck; and eyes, had
they been agreeable in expression, that would have been
irresistible: fortunately for my susceptible heart, the only
sentiment they evinced hovered between scorn and a kind of
desperation, singularly unnatural to be detected there. The
canisters were almost out of her reach; I made a motion to aid her;
she turned upon me as a miser might turn if any one attempted to
assist him in counting his gold.
'I don't want your help,' she snapped; 'I can get them for myself.'
'I beg your pardon!' I hastened to reply.
'Were you asked to tea?' she demanded, tying an apron over her neat
black frock, and standing with a spoonful of the leaf poised over
the pot.
'I shall be glad to have a cup,' I answered.
'Were you asked?' she repeated.
'No,' I said, half smiling. 'You are the proper person to ask me.'
She flung the tea back, spoon and all, and resumed her chair in a
pet; her forehead corrugated, and her red under-lip pushed out,
like a child's ready to cry.
Meanwhile, the young man had slung on to his person a decidedly
shabby upper garment, and, erecting himself before the blaze,
looked down on me from the corner of his eyes, for all the world as
if there were some mortal feud unavenged between us. I began to
doubt whether he were a servant or not: his dress and speech were
both rude, entirely devoid of the superiority observable in Mr. and
Mrs. Heathcliff; his thick brown curls were rough and uncultivated,
his whiskers encroached bearishly over his cheeks, and his hands
were embrowned like those of a common labourer: still his bearing
was free, almost haughty, and he showed none of a domestic's
assiduity in attending on the lady of the house. In the absence of
clear proofs of his condition, I deemed it best to abstain from
noticing his curious conduct; and, five minutes afterwards, the
entrance of Heathcliff relieved me, in some measure, from my
uncomfortable state.
'You see, sir, I am come, according to promise!' I exclaimed,
assuming the cheerful; 'and I fear I shall be weather-bound for
half an hour, if you can afford me shelter during that space.'
'Half an hour?' he said, shaking the white flakes from his clothes;
'I wonder you should select the thick of a snow-storm to ramble
about in. Do you know that you run a risk of being lost in the
marshes? People familiar with these moors often miss their road on
such evenings; and I can tell you there is no chance of a change at
'Perhaps I can get a guide among your lads, and he might stay at
the Grange till morning - could you spare me one?'
'No, I could not.'
'Oh, indeed! Well, then, I must trust to my own sagacity.'
'Are you going to mak' the tea?' demanded he of the shabby coat,
shifting his ferocious gaze from me to the young lady.
'Is HE to have any?' she asked, appealing to Heathcliff.
'Get it ready, will you?' was the answer, uttered so savagely that
I started. The tone in which the words were said revealed a
genuine bad nature. I no longer felt inclined to call Heathcliff a
capital fellow. When the preparations were finished, he invited me
with - 'Now, sir, bring forward your chair.' And we all, including
the rustic youth, drew round the table: an austere silence
prevailing while we discussed our meal.
I thought, if I had caused the cloud, it was my duty to make an
effort to dispel it. They could not every day sit so grim and
taciturn; and it was impossible, however ill-tempered they might
be, that the universal scowl they wore was their every-day
'It is strange,' I began, in the interval of swallowing one cup of
tea and receiving another - 'it is strange how custom can mould our
tastes and ideas: many could not imagine the existence of
happiness in a life of such complete exile from the world as you
spend, Mr. Heathcliff; yet, I'll venture to say, that, surrounded
by your family, and with your amiable lady as the presiding genius
over your home and heart - '
'My amiable lady!' he interrupted, with an almost diabolical sneer
on his face. 'Where is she - my amiable lady?'
'Mrs. Heathcliff, your wife, I mean.'
'Well, yes - oh, you would intimate that her spirit has taken the
post of ministering angel, and guards the fortunes of Wuthering
Heights, even when her body is gone. Is that it?'
Perceiving myself in a blunder, I attempted to correct it. I might
have seen there was too great a disparity between the ages of the
parties to make it likely that they were man and wife. One was
about forty: a period of mental vigour at which men seldom cherish
the delusion of being married for love by girls: that dream is
reserved for the solace of our declining years. The other did not
look seventeen.
Then it flashed on me - 'The clown at my elbow, who is drinking his
tea out of a basin and eating his broad with unwashed hands, may be
her husband: Heathcliff junior, of course. Here is the
consequence of being buried alive: she has thrown herself away
upon that boor from sheer ignorance that better individuals
existed! A sad pity - I must beware how I cause her to regret her
choice.' The last reflection may seem conceited; it was not. My
neighbour struck me as bordering on repulsive; I knew, through
experience, that I was tolerably attractive.
'Mrs. Heathcliff is my daughter-in-law,' said Heathcliff,
corroborating my surmise. He turned, as he spoke, a peculiar look
in her direction: a look of hatred; unless he has a most perverse
set of facial muscles that will not, like those of other people,
interpret the language of his soul.
'Ah, certainly - I see now: you are the favoured possessor of the
beneficent fairy,' I remarked, turning to my neighbour.
This was worse than before: the youth grew crimson, and clenched
his fist, with every appearance of a meditated assault. But he
seemed to recollect himself presently, and smothered the storm in a
brutal curse, muttered on my behalf: which, however, I took care
not to notice.
'Unhappy in your conjectures, sir,' observed my host; 'we neither
of us have the privilege of owning your good fairy; her mate is
dead. I said she was my daughter-in-law: therefore, she must have
married my son.'
'And this young man is - '
'Not my son, assuredly.'
Heathcliff smiled again, as if it were rather too bold a jest to
attribute the paternity of that bear to him.
'My name is Hareton Earnshaw,' growled the other; 'and I'd counsel
you to respect it!'
'I've shown no disrespect,' was my reply, laughing internally at
the dignity with which he announced himself.
He fixed his eye on me longer than I cared to return the stare, for
fear I might be tempted either to box his ears or render my
hilarity audible. I began to feel unmistakably out of place in
that pleasant family circle. The dismal spiritual atmosphere
overcame, and more than neutralised, the glowing physical comforts
round me; and I resolved to be cautious how I ventured under those
rafters a third time.
The business of eating being concluded, and no one uttering a word
of sociable conversation, I approached a window to examine the
weather. A sorrowful sight I saw: dark night coming down
prematurely, and sky and hills mingled in one bitter whirl of wind
and suffocating snow.
'I don't think it possible for me to get home now without a guide,'
I could not help exclaiming. 'The roads will be buried already;
and, if they were bare, I could scarcely distinguish a foot in
'Hareton, drive those dozen sheep into the barn porch. They'll be
covered if left in the fold all night: and put a plank before
them,' said Heathcliff.
'How must I do?' I continued, with rising irritation.
There was no reply to my question; and on looking round I saw only
Joseph bringing in a pail of porridge for the dogs, and Mrs.
Heathcliff leaning over the fire, diverting herself with burning a
bundle of matches which had fallen from the chimney-piece as she
restored the tea-canister to its place. The former, when he had
deposited his burden, took a critical survey of the room, and in
cracked tones grated out - 'Aw wonder how yah can faishion to stand
thear i' idleness un war, when all on 'ems goan out! Bud yah're a
nowt, and it's no use talking - yah'll niver mend o'yer ill ways,
but goa raight to t' divil, like yer mother afore ye!'
I imagined, for a moment, that this piece of eloquence was
addressed to me; and, sufficiently enraged, stepped towards the
aged rascal with an intention of kicking him out of the door. Mrs.
Heathcliff, however, checked me by her answer.
'You scandalous old hypocrite!' she replied. 'Are you not afraid
of being carried away bodily, whenever you mention the devil's
name? I warn you to refrain from provoking me, or I'll ask your
abduction as a special favour! Stop! look here, Joseph,' she
continued, taking a long, dark book from a shelf; 'I'll show you
how far I've progressed in the Black Art: I shall soon be
competent to make a clear house of it. The red cow didn't die by
chance; and your rheumatism can hardly be reckoned among
providential visitations!'
'Oh, wicked, wicked!' gasped the elder; 'may the Lord deliver us
from evil!'
'No, reprobate! you are a castaway - be off, or I'll hurt you
seriously! I'll have you all modelled in wax and clay! and the
first who passes the limits I fix shall - I'll not say what he
shall be done to - but, you'll see! Go, I'm looking at you!'
The little witch put a mock malignity into her beautiful eyes, and
Joseph, trembling with sincere horror, hurried out, praying, and
ejaculating 'wicked' as he went. I thought her conduct must be
prompted by a species of dreary fun; and, now that we were alone, I
endeavoured to interest her in my distress.
'Mrs. Heathcliff,' I said earnestly, 'you must excuse me for
troubling you. I presume, because, with that face, I'm sure you
cannot help being good-hearted. Do point out some landmarks by
which I may know my way home: I have no more idea how to get there
than you would have how to get to London!'
'Take the road you came,' she answered, ensconcing herself in a
chair, with a candle, and the long book open before her. 'It is
brief advice, but as sound as I can give.'
'Then, if you hear of me being discovered dead in a bog or a pit
full of snow, your conscience won't whisper that it is partly your
'How so? I cannot escort you. They wouldn't let me go to the end
of the garden wall.'
'YOU! I should be sorry to ask you to cross the threshold, for my
convenience, on such a night,' I cried. 'I want you to tell me my
way, not to SHOW it: or else to persuade Mr. Heathcliff to give me
a guide.'
'Who? There is himself, Earnshaw, Zillah, Joseph and I. Which
would you have?'
'Are there no boys at the farm?'
'No; those are all.'
'Then, it follows that I am compelled to stay.'
'That you may settle with your host. I have nothing to do with
'I hope it will be a lesson to you to make no more rash journeys on
these hills,' cried Heathcliff's stern voice from the kitchen
entrance. 'As to staying here, I don't keep accommodations for
visitors: you must share a bed with Hareton or Joseph, if you do.'
'I can sleep on a chair in this room,' I replied.
'No, no! A stranger is a stranger, be he rich or poor: it will
not suit me to permit any one the range of the place while I am off
guard!' said the unmannerly wretch.
With this insult my patience was at an end. I uttered an
expression of disgust, and pushed past him into the yard, running
against Earnshaw in my haste. It was so dark that I could not see
the means of exit; and, as I wandered round, I heard another
specimen of their civil behaviour amongst each other. At first the
young man appeared about to befriend me.
'I'll go with him as far as the park,' he said.
'You'll go with him to hell!' exclaimed his master, or whatever
relation he bore. 'And who is to look after the horses, eh?'
'A man's life is of more consequence than one evening's neglect of
the horses: somebody must go,' murmured Mrs. Heathcliff, more
kindly than I expected.
'Not at your command!' retorted Hareton. 'If you set store on him,
you'd better be quiet.'
'Then I hope his ghost will haunt you; and I hope Mr. Heathcliff
will never get another tenant till the Grange is a ruin,' she
answered, sharply.
'Hearken, hearken, shoo's cursing on 'em!' muttered Joseph, towards
whom I had been steering.
He sat within earshot, milking the cows by the light of a lantern,
which I seized unceremoniously, and, calling out that I would send
it back on the morrow, rushed to the nearest postern.
'Maister, maister, he's staling t' lanthern!' shouted the ancient,
pursuing my retreat. 'Hey, Gnasher! Hey, dog! Hey Wolf, holld
him, holld him!'
On opening the little door, two hairy monsters flew at my throat,
bearing me down, and extinguishing the light; while a mingled
guffaw from Heathcliff and Hareton put the copestone on my rage and
humiliation. Fortunately, the beasts seemed more bent on
stretching their paws, and yawning, and flourishing their tails,
than devouring me alive; but they would suffer no resurrection, and
I was forced to lie till their malignant masters pleased to deliver
me: then, hatless and trembling with wrath, I ordered the
miscreants to let me out - on their peril to keep me one minute
longer - with several incoherent threats of retaliation that, in
their indefinite depth of virulency, smacked of King Lear.
The vehemence of my agitation brought on a copious bleeding at the
nose, and still Heathcliff laughed, and still I scolded. I don't
know what would have concluded the scene, had there not been one
person at hand rather more rational than myself, and more
benevolent than my entertainer. This was Zillah, the stout
housewife; who at length issued forth to inquire into the nature of
the uproar. She thought that some of them had been laying violent
hands on me; and, not daring to attack her master, she turned her
vocal artillery against the younger scoundrel.
'Well, Mr. Earnshaw,' she cried, 'I wonder what you'll have agait
next? Are we going to murder folk on our very door-stones? I see
this house will never do for me - look at t' poor lad, he's fair
choking! Wisht, wisht; you mun'n't go on so. Come in, and I'll
cure that: there now, hold ye still.'
With these words she suddenly splashed a pint of icy water down my
neck, and pulled me into the kitchen. Mr. Heathcliff followed, his
accidental merriment expiring quickly in his habitual moroseness.
I was sick exceedingly, and dizzy, and faint; and thus compelled
perforce to accept lodgings under his roof. He told Zillah to give
me a glass of brandy, and then passed on to the inner room; while
she condoled with me on my sorry predicament, and having obeyed his
orders, whereby I was somewhat revived, ushered me to bed.
WHILE leading the way upstairs, she recommended that I should hide
the candle, and not make a noise; for her master had an odd notion
about the chamber she would put me in, and never let anybody lodge
there willingly. I asked the reason. She did not know, she
answered: she had only lived there a year or two; and they had so
many queer goings on, she could not begin to be curious.
Too stupefied to be curious myself, I fastened my door and glanced
round for the bed. The whole furniture consisted of a chair, a
clothes-press, and a large oak case, with squares cut out near the
top resembling coach windows. Having approached this structure, I
looked inside, and perceived it to be a singular sort of oldfashioned
couch, very conveniently designed to obviate the
necessity for every member of the family having a room to himself.
In fact, it formed a little closet, and the ledge of a window,
which it enclosed, served as a table. I slid back the panelled
sides, got in with my light, pulled them together again, and felt
secure against the vigilance of Heathcliff, and every one else.
The ledge, where I placed my candle, had a few mildewed books piled
up in one corner; and it was covered with writing scratched on the
paint. This writing, however, was nothing but a name repeated in
all kinds of characters, large and small - CATHERINE EARNSHAW, here
and there varied to CATHERINE HEATHCLIFF, and then again to
In vapid listlessness I leant my head against the window, and
continued spelling over Catherine Earnshaw - Heathcliff - Linton,
till my eyes closed; but they had not rested five minutes when a
glare of white letters started from the dark, as vivid as spectres
- the air swarmed with Catherines; and rousing myself to dispel the
obtrusive name, I discovered my candle-wick reclining on one of the
antique volumes, and perfuming the place with an odour of roasted
calf-skin. I snuffed it off, and, very ill at ease under the
influence of cold and lingering nausea, sat up and spread open the
injured tome on my knee. It was a Testament, in lean type, and
smelling dreadfully musty: a fly-leaf bore the inscription -
'Catherine Earnshaw, her book,' and a date some quarter of a
century back. I shut it, and took up another and another, till I
had examined all. Catherine's library was select, and its state of
dilapidation proved it to have been well used, though not
altogether for a legitimate purpose: scarcely one chapter had
escaped, a pen-and-ink commentary - at least the appearance of one
- covering every morsel of blank that the printer had left. Some
were detached sentences; other parts took the form of a regular
diary, scrawled in an unformed, childish hand. At the top of an
extra page (quite a treasure, probably, when first lighted on) I
was greatly amused to behold an excellent caricature of my friend
Joseph, - rudely, yet powerfully sketched. An immediate interest
kindled within me for the unknown Catherine, and I began forthwith
to decipher her faded hieroglyphics.
'An awful Sunday,' commenced the paragraph beneath. 'I wish my
father were back again. Hindley is a detestable substitute - his
conduct to Heathcliff is atrocious - H. and I are going to rebel -
we took our initiatory step this evening.
'All day had been flooding with rain; we could not go to church, so
Joseph must needs get up a congregation in the garret; and, while
Hindley and his wife basked downstairs before a comfortable fire -
doing anything but reading their Bibles, I'll answer for it -
Heathcliff, myself, and the unhappy ploughboy were commanded to
take our prayer-books, and mount: we were ranged in a row, on a
sack of corn, groaning and shivering, and hoping that Joseph would
shiver too, so that he might give us a short homily for his own
sake. A vain idea! The service lasted precisely three hours; and
yet my brother had the face to exclaim, when he saw us descending,
"What, done already?" On Sunday evenings we used to be permitted
to play, if we did not make much noise; now a mere titter is
sufficient to send us into corners.
'"You forget you have a master here," says the tyrant. "I'll
demolish the first who puts me out of temper! I insist on perfect
sobriety and silence. Oh, boy! was that you? Frances darling,
pull his hair as you go by: I heard him snap his fingers."
Frances pulled his hair heartily, and then went and seated herself
on her husband's knee, and there they were, like two babies,
kissing and talking nonsense by the hour - foolish palaver that we
should be ashamed of. We made ourselves as snug as our means
allowed in the arch of the dresser. I had just fastened our
pinafores together, and hung them up for a curtain, when in comes
Joseph, on an errand from the stables. He tears down my handiwork,
boxes my ears, and croaks:
'"T' maister nobbut just buried, and Sabbath not o'ered, und t'
sound o' t' gospel still i' yer lugs, and ye darr be laiking!
Shame on ye! sit ye down, ill childer! there's good books eneugh if
ye'll read 'em: sit ye down, and think o' yer sowls!"
'Saying this, he compelled us so to square our positions that we
might receive from the far-off fire a dull ray to show us the text
of the lumber he thrust upon us. I could not bear the employment.
I took my dingy volume by the scroop, and hurled it into the dogkennel,
vowing I hated a good book. Heathcliff kicked his to the
same place. Then there was a hubbub!
'"Maister Hindley!" shouted our chaplain. " Maister, coom hither!
Miss Cathy's riven th' back off 'Th' Helmet o' Salvation,' un'
Heathcliff's pawsed his fit into t' first part o' 'T' Brooad Way to
Destruction!' It's fair flaysome that ye let 'em go on this gait.
Ech! th' owd man wad ha' laced 'em properly - but he's goan!"
'Hindley hurried up from his paradise on the hearth, and seizing
one of us by the collar, and the other by the arm, hurled both into
the back-kitchen; where, Joseph asseverated, "owd Nick would fetch
us as sure as we were living: and, so comforted, we each sought a
separate nook to await his advent. I reached this book, and a pot
of ink from a shelf, and pushed the house-door ajar to give me
light, and I have got the time on with writing for twenty minutes;
but my companion is impatient, and proposes that we should
appropriate the dairywoman's cloak, and have a scamper on the
moors, under its shelter. A pleasant suggestion - and then, if the
surly old man come in, he may believe his prophecy verified - we
cannot be damper, or colder, in the rain than we are here.'
* * * * * *
I suppose Catherine fulfilled her project, for the next sentence
took up another subject: she waxed lachrymose.
'How little did I dream that Hindley would ever make me cry so!'
she wrote. 'My head aches, till I cannot keep it on the pillow;
and still I can't give over. Poor Heathcliff! Hindley calls him a
vagabond, and won't let him sit with us, nor eat with us any more;
and, he says, he and I must not play together, and threatens to
turn him out of the house if we break his orders. He has been
blaming our father (how dared he?) for treating H. too liberally;
and swears he will reduce him to his right place - '
* * * * * *
I began to nod drowsily over the dim page: my eye wandered from
manuscript to print. I saw a red ornamented title - 'Seventy Times
Seven, and the First of the Seventy-First.' A Pious Discourse
delivered by the Reverend Jabez Branderham, in the Chapel of
Gimmerden Sough.' And while I was, half-consciously, worrying my
brain to guess what Jabez Branderham would make of his subject, I
sank back in bed, and fell asleep. Alas, for the effects of bad
tea and bad temper! What else could it be that made me pass such a
terrible night? I don't remember another that I can at all compare
with it since I was capable of suffering.
I began to dream, almost before I ceased to be sensible of my
locality. I thought it was morning; and I had set out on my way
home, with Joseph for a guide. The snow lay yards deep in our
road; and, as we floundered on, my companion wearied me with
constant reproaches that I had not brought a pilgrim's staff:
telling me that I could never get into the house without one, and
boastfully flourishing a heavy-headed cudgel, which I understood to
be so denominated. For a moment I considered it absurd that I
should need such a weapon to gain admittance into my own residence.
Then a new idea flashed across me. I was not going there: we were
journeying to hear the famous Jabez Branderham preach, from the
text - 'Seventy Times Seven;' and either Joseph, the preacher, or I
had committed the 'First of the Seventy-First,' and were to be
publicly exposed and excommunicated.
We came to the chapel. I have passed it really in my walks, twice
or thrice; it lies in a hollow, between two hills: an elevated
hollow, near a swamp, whose peaty moisture is said to answer all
the purposes of embalming on the few corpses deposited there. The
roof has been kept whole hitherto; but as the clergyman's stipend
is only twenty pounds per annum, and a house with two rooms,
threatening speedily to determine into one, no clergyman will
undertake the duties of pastor: especially as it is currently
reported that his flock would rather let him starve than increase
the living by one penny from their own pockets. However, in my
dream, Jabez had a full and attentive congregation; and he preached
- good God! what a sermon; divided into FOUR HUNDRED AND NINETY
parts, each fully equal to an ordinary address from the pulpit, and
each discussing a separate sin! Where he searched for them, I
cannot tell. He had his private manner of interpreting the phrase,
and it seemed necessary the brother should sin different sins on
every occasion. They were of the most curious character: odd
transgressions that I never imagined previously.
Oh, how weary I grow. How I writhed, and yawned, and nodded, and
revived! How I pinched and pricked myself, and rubbed my eyes, and
stood up, and sat down again, and nudged Joseph to inform me if he
would EVER have done. I was condemned to hear all out: finally,
he reached the 'FIRST OF THE SEVENTY-FIRST.' At that crisis, a
sudden inspiration descended on me; I was moved to rise and
denounce Jabez Branderham as the sinner of the sin that no
Christian need pardon.
'Sir,' I exclaimed, 'sitting here within these four walls, at one
stretch, I have endured and forgiven the four hundred and ninety
heads of your discourse. Seventy times seven times have I plucked
up my hat and been about to depart - Seventy times seven times have
you preposterously forced me to resume my seat. The four hundred
and ninety-first is too much. Fellow-martyrs, have at him! Drag
him down, and crush him to atoms, that the place which knows him
may know him no more!'
'THOU ART THE MAN!' cried Jabez, after a solemn pause, leaning over
his cushion. 'Seventy times seven times didst thou gapingly
contort thy visage - seventy times seven did I take counsel with my
soul - Lo, this is human weakness: this also may be absolved! The
First of the Seventy-First is come. Brethren, execute upon him the
judgment written. Such honour have all His saints!'
With that concluding word, the whole assembly, exalting their
pilgrim's staves, rushed round me in a body; and I, having no
weapon to raise in self-defence, commenced grappling with Joseph,
my nearest and most ferocious assailant, for his. In the
confluence of the multitude, several clubs crossed; blows, aimed at
me, fell on other sconces. Presently the whole chapel resounded
with rappings and counter rappings: every man's hand was against
his neighbour; and Branderham, unwilling to remain idle, poured
forth his zeal in a shower of loud taps on the boards of the
pulpit, which responded so smartly that, at last, to my unspeakable
relief, they woke me. And what was it that had suggested the
tremendous tumult? What had played Jabez's part in the row?
Merely the branch of a fir-tree that touched my lattice as the
blast wailed by, and rattled its dry cones against the panes! I
listened doubtingly an instant; detected the disturber, then turned
and dozed, and dreamt again: if possible, still more disagreeably
than before.
This time, I remembered I was lying in the oak closet, and I heard
distinctly the gusty wind, and the driving of the snow; I heard,
also, the fir bough repeat its teasing sound, and ascribed it to
the right cause: but it annoyed me so much, that I resolved to
silence it, if possible; and, I thought, I rose and endeavoured to
unhasp the casement. The hook was soldered into the staple: a
circumstance observed by me when awake, but forgotten. 'I must
stop it, nevertheless!' I muttered, knocking my knuckles through
the glass, and stretching an arm out to seize the importunate
branch; instead of which, my fingers closed on the fingers of a
little, ice-cold hand! The intense horror of nightmare came over
me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a
most melancholy voice sobbed, 'Let me in - let me in!' 'Who are
you?' I asked, struggling, meanwhile, to disengage myself.
'Catherine Linton,' it replied, shiveringly (why did I think of
LINTON? I had read EARNSHAW twenty times for Linton) - 'I'm come
home: I'd lost my way on the moor!' As it spoke, I discerned,
obscurely, a child's face looking through the window. Terror made
me cruel; and, finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature
off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and
fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes: still it
wailed, 'Let me in!' and maintained its tenacious gripe, almost
maddening me with fear. 'How can I!' I said at length. 'Let ME
go, if you want me to let you in!' The fingers relaxed, I snatched
mine through the hole, hurriedly piled the books up in a pyramid
against it, and stopped my ears to exclude the lamentable prayer.
I seemed to keep them closed above a quarter of an hour; yet, the
instant I listened again, there was the doleful cry moaning on!
'Begone!' I shouted. 'I'll never let you in, not if you beg for
twenty years.' 'It is twenty years,' mourned the voice: 'twenty
years. I've been a waif for twenty years!' Thereat began a feeble
scratching outside, and the pile of books moved as if thrust
forward. I tried to jump up; but could not stir a limb; and so
yelled aloud, in a frenzy of fright. To my confusion, I discovered
the yell was not ideal: hasty footsteps approached my chamber
door; somebody pushed it open, with a vigorous hand, and a light
glimmered through the squares at the top of the bed. I sat
shuddering yet, and wiping the perspiration from my forehead: the
intruder appeared to hesitate, and muttered to himself. At last,
he said, in a half-whisper, plainly not expecting an answer, 'Is
any one here?' I considered it best to confess my presence; for I
knew Heathcliff's accents, and feared he might search further, if I
kept quiet. With this intention, I turned and opened the panels.
I shall not soon forget the effect my action produced.
Heathcliff stood near the entrance, in his shirt and trousers; with
a candle dripping over his fingers, and his face as white as the
wall behind him. The first creak of the oak startled him like an
electric shock: the light leaped from his hold to a distance of
some feet, and his agitation was so extreme, that he could hardly
pick it up.
'It is only your guest, sir,' I called out, desirous to spare him
the humiliation of exposing his cowardice further. 'I had the
misfortune to scream in my sleep, owing to a frightful nightmare.
I'm sorry I disturbed you.'
'Oh, God confound you, Mr. Lockwood! I wish you were at the - '
commenced my host, setting the candle on a chair, because he found
it impossible to hold it steady. 'And who showed you up into this
room?' he continued, crushing his nails into his palms, and
grinding his teeth to subdue the maxillary convulsions. 'Who was
it? I've a good mind to turn them out of the house this moment?'
'It was your servant Zillah,' I replied, flinging myself on to the
floor, and rapidly resuming my garments. 'I should not care if you
did, Mr. Heathcliff; she richly deserves it. I suppose that she
wanted to get another proof that the place was haunted, at my
expense. Well, it is - swarming with ghosts and goblins! You have
reason in shutting it up, I assure you. No one will thank you for
a doze in such a den!'
'What do you mean?' asked Heathcliff, 'and what are you doing? Lie
down and finish out the night, since you ARE here; but, for
heaven's sake! don't repeat that horrid noise: nothing could
excuse it, unless you were having your throat cut!'
'If the little fiend had got in at the window, she probably would
have strangled me!' I returned. 'I'm not going to endure the
persecutions of your hospitable ancestors again. Was not the
Reverend Jabez Branderham akin to you on the mother's side? And
that minx, Catherine Linton, or Earnshaw, or however she was called
- she must have been a changeling - wicked little soul! She told
me she had been walking the earth these twenty years: a just
punishment for her mortal transgressions, I've no doubt!'
Scarcely were these words uttered when I recollected the
association of Heathcliff's with Catherine's name in the book,
which had completely slipped from my memory, till thus awakened. I
blushed at my inconsideration: but, without showing further
consciousness of the offence, I hastened to add - 'The truth is,
sir, I passed the first part of the night in - ' Here I stopped
afresh - I was about to say 'perusing those old volumes,' then it
would have revealed my knowledge of their written, as well as their
printed, contents; so, correcting myself, I went on - 'in spelling
over the name scratched on that window-ledge. A monotonous
occupation, calculated to set me asleep, like counting, or - '
'What CAN you mean by talking in this way to ME!' thundered
Heathcliff with savage vehemence. 'How - how DARE you, under my
roof? - God! he's mad to speak so!' And he struck his forehead
with rage.
I did not know whether to resent this language or pursue my
explanation; but he seemed so powerfully affected that I took pity
and proceeded with my dreams; affirming I had never heard the
appellation of 'Catherine Linton' before, but reading it often over
produced an impression which personified itself when I had no
longer my imagination under control. Heathcliff gradually fell
back into the shelter of the bed, as I spoke; finally sitting down
almost concealed behind it. I guessed, however, by his irregular
and intercepted breathing, that he struggled to vanquish an excess
of violent emotion. Not liking to show him that I had heard the
conflict, I continued my toilette rather noisily, looked at my
watch, and soliloquised on the length of the night: 'Not three
o'clock yet! I could have taken oath it had been six. Time
stagnates here: we must surely have retired to rest at eight!'
'Always at nine in winter, and rise at four,' said my host,
suppressing a groan: and, as I fancied, by the motion of his arm's
shadow, dashing a tear from his eyes. 'Mr. Lockwood,' he added,
'you may go into my room: you'll only be in the way, coming downstairs
so early: and your childish outcry has sent sleep to the
devil for me.'
'And for me, too,' I replied. 'I'll walk in the yard till
daylight, and then I'll be off; and you need not dread a repetition
of my intrusion. I'm now quite cured of seeking pleasure in
society, be it country or town. A sensible man ought to find
sufficient company in himself.'
'Delightful company!' muttered Heathcliff. 'Take the candle, and
go where you please. I shall join you directly. Keep out of the
yard, though, the dogs are unchained; and the house - Juno mounts
sentinel there, and - nay, you can only ramble about the steps and
passages. But, away with you! I'll come in two minutes!'
I obeyed, so far as to quit the chamber; when, ignorant where the
narrow lobbies led, I stood still, and was witness, involuntarily,
to a piece of superstition on the part of my landlord which belied,
oddly, his apparent sense. He got on to the bed, and wrenched open
the lattice, bursting, as he pulled at it, into an uncontrollable
passion of tears. 'Come in! come in!' he sobbed. 'Cathy, do come.
Oh, do - ONCE more! Oh! my heart's darling! hear me THIS time,
Catherine, at last!' The spectre showed a spectre's ordinary
caprice: it gave no sign of being; but the snow and wind whirled
wildly through, even reaching my station, and blowing out the
There was such anguish in the gush of grief that accompanied this
raving, that my compassion made me overlook its folly, and I drew
off, half angry to have listened at all, and vexed at having
related my ridiculous nightmare, since it produced that agony;
though WHY was beyond my comprehension. I descended cautiously to
the lower regions, and landed in the back-kitchen, where a gleam of
fire, raked compactly together, enabled me to rekindle my candle.
Nothing was stirring except a brindled, grey cat, which crept from
the ashes, and saluted me with a querulous mew.
Two benches, shaped in sections of a circle, nearly enclosed the
hearth; on one of these I stretched myself, and Grimalkin mounted
the other. We were both of us nodding ere any one invaded our
retreat, and then it was Joseph, shuffling down a wooden ladder
that vanished in the roof, through a trap: the ascent to his
garret, I suppose. He cast a sinister look at the little flame
which I had enticed to play between the ribs, swept the cat from
its elevation, and bestowing himself in the vacancy, commenced the
operation of stuffing a three-inch pipe with tobacco. My presence
in his sanctum was evidently esteemed a piece of impudence too
shameful for remark: he silently applied the tube to his lips,
folded his arms, and puffed away. I let him enjoy the luxury
unannoyed; and after sucking out his last wreath, and heaving a
profound sigh, he got up, and departed as solemnly as he came.
A more elastic footstep entered next; and now I opened my mouth for
a 'good-morning,' but closed it again, the salutation unachieved;
for Hareton Earnshaw was performing his orison SOTTO VOCE, in a
series of curses directed against every object he touched, while he
rummaged a corner for a spade or shovel to dig through the drifts.
He glanced over the back of the bench, dilating his nostrils, and
thought as little of exchanging civilities with me as with my
companion the cat. I guessed, by his preparations, that egress was
allowed, and, leaving my hard couch, made a movement to follow him.
He noticed this, and thrust at an inner door with the end of his
spade, intimating by an inarticulate sound that there was the place
where I must go, if I changed my locality.
It opened into the house, where the females were already astir;
Zillah urging flakes of flame up the chimney with a colossal
bellows; and Mrs. Heathcliff, kneeling on the hearth, reading a
book by the aid of the blaze. She held her hand interposed between
the furnace-heat and her eyes, and seemed absorbed in her
occupation; desisting from it only to chide the servant for
covering her with sparks, or to push away a dog, now and then, that
snoozled its nose overforwardly into her face. I was surprised to
see Heathcliff there also. He stood by the fire, his back towards
me, just finishing a stormy scene with poor Zillah; who ever and
anon interrupted her labour to pluck up the corner of her apron,
and heave an indignant groan.
'And you, you worthless - ' he broke out as I entered, turning to
his daughter-in-law, and employing an epithet as harmless as duck,
or sheep, but generally represented by a dash - . 'There you are,
at your idle tricks again! The rest of them do earn their bread -
you live on my charity! Put your trash away, and find something to
do. You shall pay me for the plague of having you eternally in my
sight - do you hear, damnable jade?'
'I'll put my trash away, because you can make me if I refuse,'
answered the young lady, closing her book, and throwing it on a
chair. 'But I'll not do anything, though you should swear your
tongue out, except what I please!'
Heathcliff lifted his hand, and the speaker sprang to a safer
distance, obviously acquainted with its weight. Having no desire
to be entertained by a cat-and-dog combat, I stepped forward
briskly, as if eager to partake the warmth of the hearth, and
innocent of any knowledge of the interrupted dispute. Each had
enough decorum to suspend further hostilities: Heathcliff placed
his fists, out of temptation, in his pockets; Mrs. Heathcliff
curled her lip, and walked to a seat far off, where she kept her
word by playing the part of a statue during the remainder of my
stay. That was not long. I declined joining their breakfast, and,
at the first gleam of dawn, took an opportunity of escaping into
the free air, now clear, and still, and cold as impalpable ice.
My landlord halloed for me to stop ere I reached the bottom of the
garden, and offered to accompany me across the moor. It was well
he did, for the whole hill-back was one billowy, white ocean; the
swells and falls not indicating corresponding rises and depressions
in the ground: many pits, at least, were filled to a level; and
entire ranges of mounds, the refuse of the quarries, blotted from
the chart which my yesterday's walk left pictured in my mind. I
had remarked on one side of the road, at intervals of six or seven
yards, a line of upright stones, continued through the whole length
of the barren: these were erected and daubed with lime on purpose
to serve as guides in the dark, and also when a fall, like the
present, confounded the deep swamps on either hand with the firmer
path: but, excepting a dirty dot pointing up here and there, all
traces of their existence had vanished: and my companion found it
necessary to warn me frequently to steer to the right or left, when
I imagined I was following, correctly, the windings of the road.
We exchanged little conversation, and he halted at the entrance of
Thrushcross Park, saying, I could make no error there. Our adieux
were limited to a hasty bow, and then I pushed forward, trusting to
my own resources; for the porter's lodge is untenanted as yet. The
distance from the gate to the grange is two miles; I believe I
managed to make it four, what with losing myself among the trees,
and sinking up to the neck in snow: a predicament which only those
who have experienced it can appreciate. At any rate, whatever were
my wanderings, the clock chimed twelve as I entered the house; and
that gave exactly an hour for every mile of the usual way from
Wuthering Heights.
My human fixture and her satellites rushed to welcome me;
exclaiming, tumultuously, they had completely given me up:
everybody conjectured that I perished last night; and they were
wondering how they must set about the search for my remains. I bid
them be quiet, now that they saw me returned, and, benumbed to my
very heart, I dragged up-stairs; whence, after putting on dry
clothes, and pacing to and fro thirty or forty minutes, to restore
the animal heat, I adjourned to my study, feeble as a kitten:
almost too much so to enjoy the cheerful fire and smoking coffee
which the servant had prepared for my refreshment.
WHAT vain weathercocks we are! I, who had determined to hold
myself independent of all social intercourse, and thanked my stars
that, at length, I had lighted on a spot where it was next to
impracticable - I, weak wretch, after maintaining till dusk a
struggle with low spirits and solitude, was finally compelled to
strike my colours; and under pretence of gaining information
concerning the necessities of my establishment, I desired Mrs.
Dean, when she brought in supper, to sit down while I ate it;
hoping sincerely she would prove a regular gossip, and either rouse
me to animation or lull me to sleep by her talk.
'You have lived here a considerable time,' I commenced; 'did you
not say sixteen years?'
'Eighteen, sir: I came when the mistress was married, to wait on
her; after she died, the master retained me for his housekeeper.'
There ensued a pause. She was not a gossip, I feared; unless about
her own affairs, and those could hardly interest me. However,
having studied for an interval, with a fist on either knee, and a
cloud of meditation over her ruddy countenance, she ejaculated -
'Ah, times are greatly changed since then!'
'Yes,' I remarked, 'you've seen a good many alterations, I
'I have: and troubles too,' she said.
'Oh, I'll turn the talk on my landlord's family!' I thought to
myself. 'A good subject to start! And that pretty girl-widow, I
should like to know her history: whether she be a native of the
country, or, as is more probable, an exotic that the surly
INDIGENAE will not recognise for kin.' With this intention I asked
Mrs. Dean why Heathcliff let Thrushcross Grange, and preferred
living in a situation and residence so much inferior. 'Is he not
rich enough to keep the estate in good order?' I inquired.
'Rich, sir!' she returned. 'He has nobody knows what money, and
every year it increases. Yes, yes, he's rich enough to live in a
finer house than this: but he's very near - close-handed; and, if
he had meant to flit to Thrushcross Grange, as soon as he heard of
a good tenant he could not have borne to miss the chance of getting
a few hundreds more. It is strange people should be so greedy,
when they are alone in the world!'
'He had a son, it seems?'
'Yes, he had one - he is dead.'
'And that young lady, Mrs. Heathcliff, is his widow?'
'Where did she come from originally?'
'Why, sir, she is my late master's daughter: Catherine Linton was
her maiden name. I nursed her, poor thing! I did wish Mr.
Heathcliff would remove here, and then we might have been together
'What! Catherine Linton?' I exclaimed, astonished. But a minute's
reflection convinced me it was not my ghostly Catherine. Then,' I
continued, 'my predecessor's name was Linton?'
'It was.'
'And who is that Earnshaw: Hareton Earnshaw, who lives with Mr.
Heathcliff? Are they relations?'
'No; he is the late Mrs. Linton's nephew.'
'The young lady's cousin, then?'
'Yes; and her husband was her cousin also: one on the mother's,
the other on the father's side: Heathcliff married Mr. Linton's
'I see the house at Wuthering Heights has "Earnshaw" carved over
the front door. Are they an old family?'
'Very old, sir; and Hareton is the last of them, as our Miss Cathy
is of us - I mean, of the Lintons. Have you been to Wuthering
Heights? I beg pardon for asking; but I should like to hear how
she is!'
'Mrs. Heathcliff? she looked very well, and very handsome; yet, I
think, not very happy.'
'Oh dear, I don't wonder! And how did you like the master?'
'A rough fellow, rather, Mrs. Dean. Is not that his character?
'Rough as a saw-edge, and hard as whinstone! The less you meddle
with him the better.'
'He must have had some ups and downs in life to make him such a
churl. Do you know anything of his history?'
'It's a cuckoo's, sir - I know all about it: except where he was
born, and who were his parents, and how he got his money at first.
And Hareton has been cast out like an unfledged dunnock! The
unfortunate lad is the only one in all this parish that does not
guess how he has been cheated.'
'Well, Mrs. Dean, it will be a charitable deed to tell me something
of my neighbours: I feel I shall not rest if I go to bed; so be
good enough to sit and chat an hour.'
'Oh, certainly, sir! I'll just fetch a little sewing, and then
I'll sit as long as you please. But you've caught cold: I saw you
shivering, and you must have some gruel to drive it out.'
The worthy woman bustled off, and I crouched nearer the fire; my
head felt hot, and the rest of me chill: moreover, I was excited,
almost to a pitch of foolishness, through my nerves and brain.
This caused me to feel, not uncomfortable, but rather fearful (as I
am still) of serious effects from the incidents of to-day and
yesterday. She returned presently, bringing a smoking basin and a
basket of work; and, having placed the former on the hob, drew in
her seat, evidently pleased to find me so companionable.
Before I came to live here, she commenced - waiting no farther
invitation to her story - I was almost always at Wuthering Heights;
because my mother had nursed Mr. Hindley Earnshaw, that was
Hareton's father, and I got used to playing with the children: I
ran errands too, and helped to make hay, and hung about the farm
ready for anything that anybody would set me to. One fine summer
morning - it was the beginning of harvest, I remember - Mr.
Earnshaw, the old master, came down-stairs, dressed for a journey;
and, after he had told Joseph what was to be done during the day,
he turned to Hindley, and Cathy, and me - for I sat eating my
porridge with them - and he said, speaking to his son, 'Now, my
bonny man, I'm going to Liverpool to-day, what shall I bring you?
You may choose what you like: only let it be little, for I shall
walk there and back: sixty miles each way, that is a long spell!'
Hindley named a fiddle, and then he asked Miss Cathy; she was
hardly six years old, but she could ride any horse in the stable,
and she chose a whip. He did not forget me; for he had a kind
heart, though he was rather severe sometimes. He promised to bring
me a pocketful of apples and pears, and then he kissed his
children, said good-bye, and set off.
It seemed a long while to us all - the three days of his absence -
and often did little Cathy ask when he would be home. Mrs.
Earnshaw expected him by supper-time on the third evening, and she
put the meal off hour after hour; there were no signs of his
coming, however, and at last the children got tired of running down
to the gate to look. Then it grew dark; she would have had them to
bed, but they begged sadly to be allowed to stay up; and, just
about eleven o'clock, the door-latch was raised quietly, and in
stepped the master. He threw himself into a chair, laughing and
groaning, and bid them all stand off, for he was nearly killed - he
would not have such another walk for the three kingdoms.
'And at the end of it to be flighted to death!' he said, opening
his great-coat, which he held bundled up in his arms. 'See here,
wife! I was never so beaten with anything in my life: but you
must e'en take it as a gift of God; though it's as dark almost as
if it came from the devil.'
We crowded round, and over Miss Cathy's head I had a peep at a
dirty, ragged, black-haired child; big enough both to walk and
talk: indeed, its face looked older than Catherine's; yet when it
was set on its feet, it only stared round, and repeated over and
over again some gibberish that nobody could understand. I was
frightened, and Mrs. Earnshaw was ready to fling it out of doors:
she did fly up, asking how he could fashion to bring that gipsy
brat into the house, when they had their own bairns to feed and
fend for? What he meant to do with it, and whether he were mad?
The master tried to explain the matter; but he was really half dead
with fatigue, and all that I could make out, amongst her scolding,
was a tale of his seeing it starving, and houseless, and as good as
dumb, in the streets of Liverpool, where he picked it up and
inquired for its owner. Not a soul knew to whom it belonged, he
said; and his money and time being both limited, he thought it
better to take it home with him at once, than run into vain
expenses there: because he was determined he would not leave it as
he found it. Well, the conclusion was, that my mistress grumbled
herself calm; and Mr. Earnshaw told me to wash it, and give it
clean things, and let it sleep with the children.
Hindley and Cathy contented themselves with looking and listening
till peace was restored: then, both began searching their father's
pockets for the presents he had promised them. The former was a
boy of fourteen, but when he drew out what had been a fiddle,
crushed to morsels in the great-coat, he blubbered aloud; and
Cathy, when she learned the master had lost her whip in attending
on the stranger, showed her humour by grinning and spitting at the
stupid little thing; earning for her pains a sound blow from her
father, to teach her cleaner manners. They entirely refused to
have it in bed with them, or even in their room; and I had no more
sense, so I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it might he
gone on the morrow. By chance, or else attracted by hearing his
voice, it crept to Mr. Earnshaw's door, and there he found it on
quitting his chamber. Inquiries were made as to how it got there;
I was obliged to confess, and in recompense for my cowardice and
inhumanity was sent out of the house.
This was Heathcliff's first introduction to the family. On coming
back a few days afterwards (for I did not consider my banishment
perpetual), I found they had christened him 'Heathcliff': it was
the name of a son who died in childhood, and it has served him ever
since, both for Christian and surname. Miss Cathy and he were now
very thick; but Hindley hated him: and to say the truth I did the
same; and we plagued and went on with him shamefully: for I wasn't
reasonable enough to feel my injustice, and the mistress never put
in a word on his behalf when she saw him wronged.
He seemed a sullen, patient child; hardened, perhaps, to illtreatment:
he would stand Hindley's blows without winking or
shedding a tear, and my pinches moved him only to draw in a breath
and open his eyes, as if he had hurt himself by accident, and
nobody was to blame. This endurance made old Earnshaw furious,
when he discovered his son persecuting the poor fatherless child,
as he called him. He took to Heathcliff strangely, believing all
he said (for that matter, he said precious little, and generally
the truth), and petting him up far above Cathy, who was too
mischievous and wayward for a favourite.
So, from the very beginning, he bred bad feeling in the house; and
at Mrs. Earnshaw's death, which happened in less than two years
after, the young master had learned to regard his father as an
oppressor rather than a friend, and Heathcliff as a usurper of his
parent's affections and his privileges; and he grew bitter with
brooding over these injuries. I sympathised a while; but when the
children fell ill of the measles, and I had to tend them, and take
on me the cares of a woman at once, I changed my idea. Heathcliff
was dangerously sick; and while he lay at the worst he would have
me constantly by his pillow: I suppose he felt I did a good deal
for him, and he hadn't wit to guess that I was compelled to do it.
However, I will say this, he was the quietest child that ever nurse
watched over. The difference between him and the others forced me
to be less partial. Cathy and her brother harassed me terribly:
he was as uncomplaining as a lamb; though hardness, not gentleness,
made him give little trouble.
He got through, and the doctor affirmed it was in a great measure
owing to me, and praised me for my care. I was vain of his
commendations, and softened towards the being by whose means I
earned them, and thus Hindley lost his last ally: still I couldn't
dote on Heathcliff, and I wondered often what my master saw to
admire so much in the sullen boy; who never, to my recollection,
repaid his indulgence by any sign of gratitude. He was not
insolent to his benefactor, he was simply insensible; though
knowing perfectly the hold he had on his heart, and conscious he
had only to speak and all the house would be obliged to bend to his
wishes. As an instance, I remember Mr. Earnshaw once bought a
couple of colts at the parish fair, and gave the lads each one.
Heathcliff took the handsomest, but it soon fell lame, and when he
discovered it, he said to Hindley -
'You must exchange horses with me: I don't like mine; and if you
won't I shall tell your father of the three thrashings you've given
me this week, and show him my arm, which is black to the shoulder.'
Hindley put out his tongue, and cuffed him over the ears. 'You'd
better do it at once,' he persisted, escaping to the porch (they
were in the stable): 'you will have to: and if I speak of these
blows, you'll get them again with interest.' 'Off, dog!' cried
Hindley, threatening him with an iron weight used for weighing
potatoes and hay. 'Throw it,' he replied, standing still, 'and
then I'll tell how you boasted that you would turn me out of doors
as soon as he died, and see whether he will not turn you out
directly.' Hindley threw it, hitting him on the breast, and down
he fell, but staggered up immediately, breathless and white; and,
had not I prevented it, he would have gone just so to the master,
and got full revenge by letting his condition plead for him,
intimating who had caused it. 'Take my colt, Gipsy, then!' said
young Earnshaw. 'And I pray that he may break your neck: take
him, and he damned, you beggarly interloper! and wheedle my father
out of all he has: only afterwards show him what you are, imp of
Satan. - And take that, I hope he'll kick out your brains!'
Heathcliff had gone to loose the beast, and shift it to his own
stall; he was passing behind it, when Hindley finished his speech
by knocking him under its feet, and without stopping to examine
whether his hopes were fulfilled, ran away as fast as he could. I
was surprised to witness how coolly the child gathered himself up,
and went on with his intention; exchanging saddles and all, and
then sitting down on a bundle of hay to overcome the qualm which
the violent blow occasioned, before he entered the house. I
persuaded him easily to let me lay the blame of his bruises on the
horse: he minded little what tale was told since he had what he
wanted. He complained so seldom, indeed, of such stirs as these,
that I really thought him not vindictive: I was deceived
completely, as you will hear.
IN the course of time Mr. Earnshaw began to fail. He had been
active and healthy, yet his strength left him suddenly; and when he
was confined to the chimney-corner he grew grievously irritable. A
nothing vexed him; and suspected slights of his authority nearly
threw him into fits. This was especially to be remarked if any one
attempted to impose upon, or domineer over, his favourite: he was
painfully jealous lest a word should be spoken amiss to him;
seeming to have got into his head the notion that, because he liked
Heathcliff, all hated, and longed to do him an ill-turn. It was a
disadvantage to the lad; for the kinder among us did not wish to
fret the master, so we humoured his partiality; and that humouring
was rich nourishment to the child's pride and black tempers. Still
it became in a manner necessary; twice, or thrice, Hindley's
manifestation of scorn, while his father was near, roused the old
man to a fury: he seized his stick to strike him, and shook with
rage that he could not do it.
At last, our curate (we had a curate then who made the living
answer by teaching the little Lintons and Earnshaws, and farming
his bit of land himself) advised that the young man should be sent
to college; and Mr. Earnshaw agreed, though with a heavy spirit,
for he said - 'Hindley was nought, and would never thrive as where
he wandered.'
I hoped heartily we should have peace now. It hurt me to think the
master should be made uncomfortable by his own good deed. I
fancied the discontent of age and disease arose from his family
disagreements; as he would have it that it did: really, you know,
sir, it was in his sinking frame. We might have got on tolerably,
notwithstanding, but for two people - Miss Cathy, and Joseph, the
servant: you saw him, I daresay, up yonder. He was, and is yet
most likely, the wearisomest self-righteous Pharisee that ever
ransacked a Bible to rake the promises to himself and fling the
curses to his neighbours. By his knack of sermonising and pious
discoursing, he contrived to make a great impression on Mr.
Earnshaw; and the more feeble the master became, the more influence
he gained. He was relentless in worrying him about his soul's
concerns, and about ruling his children rigidly. He encouraged him
to regard Hindley as a reprobate; and, night after night, he
regularly grumbled out a long string of tales against Heathcliff
and Catherine: always minding to flatter Earnshaw's weakness by
heaping the heaviest blame on the latter.
Certainly she had ways with her such as I never saw a child take up
before; and she put all of us past our patience fifty times and
oftener in a day: from the hour she came down-stairs till the hour
she went to bed, we had not a minute's security that she wouldn't
be in mischief. Her spirits were always at high-water mark, her
tongue always going - singing, laughing, and plaguing everybody who
would not do the same. A wild, wicked slip she was - but she had
the bonniest eye, the sweetest smile, and lightest foot in the
parish: and, after all, I believe she meant no harm; for when once
she made you cry in good earnest, it seldom happened that she would
not keep you company, and oblige you to be quiet that you might
comfort her. She was much too fond of Heathcliff. The greatest
punishment we could invent for her was to keep her separate from
him: yet she got chided more than any of us on his account. In
play, she liked exceedingly to act the little mistress; using her
hands freely, and commanding her companions: she did so to me, but
I would not bear slapping and ordering; and so I let her know.
Now, Mr. Earnshaw did not understand jokes from his children: he
had always been strict and grave with them; and Catherine, on her
part, had no idea why her father should be crosser and less patient
in his ailing condition than he was in his prime. His peevish
reproofs wakened in her a naughty delight to provoke him: she was
never so happy as when we were all scolding her at once, and she
defying us with her bold, saucy look, and her ready words; turning
Joseph's religious curses into ridicule, baiting me, and doing just
what her father hated most - showing how her pretended insolence,
which he thought real, had more power over Heathcliff than his
kindness: how the boy would do HER bidding in anything, and HIS
only when it suited his own inclination. After behaving as badly
as possible all day, she sometimes came fondling to make it up at
night. 'Nay, Cathy,' the old man would say, 'I cannot love thee,
thou'rt worse than thy brother. Go, say thy prayers, child, and
ask God's pardon. I doubt thy mother and I must rue that we ever
reared thee!' That made her cry, at first; and then being repulsed
continually hardened her, and she laughed if I told her to say she
was sorry for her faults, and beg to be forgiven.
But the hour came, at last, that ended Mr. Earnshaw's troubles on
earth. He died quietly in his chair one October evening, seated by
the fire-side. A high wind blustered round the house, and roared
in the chimney: it sounded wild and stormy, yet it was not cold,
and we were all together - I, a little removed from the hearth,
busy at my knitting, and Joseph reading his Bible near the table
(for the servants generally sat in the house then, after their work
was done). Miss Cathy had been sick, and that made her still; she
leant against her father's knee, and Heathcliff was lying on the
floor with his head in her lap. I remember the master, before he
fell into a doze, stroking her bonny hair - it pleased him rarely
to see her gentle - and saying, 'Why canst thou not always be a
good lass, Cathy?' And she turned her face up to his, and laughed,
and answered, 'Why cannot you always be a good man, father?' But
as soon as she saw him vexed again, she kissed his hand, and said
she would sing him to sleep. She began singing very low, till his
fingers dropped from hers, and his head sank on his breast. Then I
told her to hush, and not stir, for fear she should wake him. We
all kept as mute as mice a full half-hour, and should have done so
longer, only Joseph, having finished his chapter, got up and said
that he must rouse the master for prayers and bed. He stepped
forward, and called him by name, and touched his shoulder; but he
would not move: so he took the candle and looked at him. I
thought there was something wrong as he set down the light; and
seizing the children each by an arm, whispered them to 'frame upstairs,
and make little din - they might pray alone that evening -
he had summut to do.'
'I shall bid father good-night first,' said Catherine, putting her
arms round his neck, before we could hinder her. The poor thing
discovered her loss directly - she screamed out - 'Oh, he's dead,
Heathcliff! he's dead!' And they both set up a heart-breaking cry.
I joined my wail to theirs, loud and bitter; but Joseph asked what
we could be thinking of to roar in that way over a saint in heaven.
He told me to put on my cloak and run to Gimmerton for the doctor
and the parson. I could not guess the use that either would be of,
then. However, I went, through wind and rain, and brought one, the
doctor, back with me; the other said he would come in the morning.
Leaving Joseph to explain matters, I ran to the children's room:
their door was ajar, I saw they had never lain down, though it was
past midnight; but they were calmer, and did not need me to console
them. The little souls were comforting each other with better
thoughts than I could have hit on: no parson in the world ever
pictured heaven so beautifully as they did, in their innocent talk;
and, while I sobbed and listened, I could not help wishing we were
all there safe together.
MR. HINDLEY came home to the funeral; and - a thing that amazed us,
and set the neighbours gossiping right and left - he brought a wife
with him. What she was, and where she was born, he never informed
us: probably, she had neither money nor name to recommend her, or
he would scarcely have kept the union from his father.
She was not one that would have disturbed the house much on her own
account. Every object she saw, the moment she crossed the
threshold, appeared to delight her; and every circumstance that
took place about her: except the preparing for the burial, and the
presence of the mourners. I thought she was half silly, from her
behaviour while that went on: she ran into her chamber, and made
me come with her, though I should have been dressing the children:
and there she sat shivering and clasping her hands, and asking
repeatedly - 'Are they gone yet?' Then she began describing with
hysterical emotion the effect it produced on her to see black; and
started, and trembled, and, at last, fell a-weeping - and when I
asked what was the matter, answered, she didn't know; but she felt
so afraid of dying! I imagined her as little likely to die as
myself. She was rather thin, but young, and fresh-complexioned,
and her eyes sparkled as bright as diamonds. I did remark, to be
sure, that mounting the stairs made her breathe very quick; that
the least sudden noise set her all in a quiver, and that she
coughed troublesomely sometimes: but I knew nothing of what these
symptoms portended, and had no impulse to sympathise with her. We
don't in general take to foreigners here, Mr. Lockwood, unless they
take to us first.
Young Earnshaw was altered considerably in the three years of his
absence. He had grown sparer, and lost his colour, and spoke and
dressed quite differently; and, on the very day of his return, he
told Joseph and me we must thenceforth quarter ourselves in the
back-kitchen, and leave the house for him. Indeed, he would have
carpeted and papered a small spare room for a parlour; but his wife
expressed such pleasure at the white floor and huge glowing
fireplace, at the pewter dishes and delf-case, and dog-kennel, and
the wide space there was to move about in where they usually sat,
that he thought it unnecessary to her comfort, and so dropped the
She expressed pleasure, too, at finding a sister among her new
acquaintance; and she prattled to Catherine, and kissed her, and
ran about with her, and gave her quantities of presents, at the
beginning. Her affection tired very soon, however, and when she
grew peevish, Hindley became tyrannical. A few words from her,
evincing a dislike to Heathcliff, were enough to rouse in him all
his old hatred of the boy. He drove him from their company to the
servants, deprived him of the instructions of the curate, and
insisted that he should labour out of doors instead; compelling him
to do so as hard as any other lad on the farm.
Heathcliff bore his degradation pretty well at first, because Cathy
taught him what she learnt, and worked or played with him in the
fields. They both promised fair to grow up as rude as savages; the
young master being entirely negligent how they behaved, and what
they did, so they kept clear of him. He would not even have seen
after their going to church on Sundays, only Joseph and the curate
reprimanded his carelessness when they absented themselves; and
that reminded him to order Heathcliff a flogging, and Catherine a
fast from dinner or supper. But it was one of their chief
amusements to run away to the moors in the morning and remain there
all day, and the after punishment grew a mere thing to laugh at.
The curate might set as many chapters as he pleased for Catherine
to get by heart, and Joseph might thrash Heathcliff till his arm
ached; they forgot everything the minute they were together again:
at least the minute they had contrived some naughty plan of
revenge; and many a time I've cried to myself to watch them growing
more reckless daily, and I not daring to speak a syllable, for fear
of losing the small power I still retained over the unfriended
creatures. One Sunday evening, it chanced that they were banished
from the sitting-room, for making a noise, or a light offence of
the kind; and when I went to call them to supper, I could discover
them nowhere. We searched the house, above and below, and the yard
and stables; they were invisible: and, at last, Hindley in a
passion told us to bolt the doors, and swore nobody should let them
in that night. The household went to bed; and I, too, anxious to
lie down, opened my lattice and put my head out to hearken, though
it rained: determined to admit them in spite of the prohibition,
should they return. In a while, I distinguished steps coming up
the road, and the light of a lantern glimmered through the gate. I
threw a shawl over my head and ran to prevent them from waking Mr.
Earnshaw by knocking. There was Heathcliff, by himself: it gave
me a start to see him alone.
'Where is Miss Catherine?' I cried hurriedly. 'No accident, I
hope?' 'At Thrushcross Grange,' he answered; 'and I would have
been there too, but they had not the manners to ask me to stay.'
'Well, you will catch it!' I said: 'you'll never be content till
you're sent about your business. What in the world led you
wandering to Thrushcross Grange?' 'Let me get off my wet clothes,
and I'll tell you all about it, Nelly,' he replied. I bid him
beware of rousing the master, and while he undressed and I waited
to put out the candle, he continued - 'Cathy and I escaped from the
wash-house to have a ramble at liberty, and getting a glimpse of
the Grange lights, we thought we would just go and see whether the
Lintons passed their Sunday evenings standing shivering in corners,
while their father and mother sat eating and drinking, and singing
and laughing, and burning their eyes out before the fire. Do you
think they do? Or reading sermons, and being catechised by their
manservant, and set to learn a column of Scripture names, if they
don't answer properly?' 'Probably not,' I responded. 'They are
good children, no doubt, and don't deserve the treatment you
receive, for your bad conduct.' 'Don't cant, Nelly,' he said:
'nonsense! We ran from the top of the Heights to the park, without
stopping - Catherine completely beaten in the race, because she was
barefoot. You'll have to seek for her shoes in the bog to-morrow.
We crept through a broken hedge, groped our way up the path, and
planted ourselves on a flower-plot under the drawing-room window.
The light came from thence; they had not put up the shutters, and
the curtains were only half closed. Both of us were able to look
in by standing on the basement, and clinging to the ledge, and we
saw - ah! it was beautiful - a splendid place carpeted with
crimson, and crimson-covered chairs and tables, and a pure white
ceiling bordered by gold, a shower of glass-drops hanging in silver
chains from the centre, and shimmering with little soft tapers.
Old Mr. and Mrs. Linton were not there; Edgar and his sisters had
it entirely to themselves. Shouldn't they have been happy? We
should have thought ourselves in heaven! And now, guess what your
good children were doing? Isabella - I believe she is eleven, a
year younger than Cathy - lay screaming at the farther end of the
room, shrieking as if witches were running red-hot needles into
her. Edgar stood on the hearth weeping silently, and in the middle
of the table sat a little dog, shaking its paw and yelping; which,
from their mutual accusations, we understood they had nearly pulled
in two between them. The idiots! That was their pleasure! to
quarrel who should hold a heap of warm hair, and each begin to cry
because both, after struggling to get it, refused to take it. We
laughed outright at the petted things; we did despise them! When
would you catch me wishing to have what Catherine wanted? or find
us by ourselves, seeking entertainment in yelling, and sobbing, and
rolling on the ground, divided by the whole room? I'd not
exchange, for a thousand lives, my condition here, for Edgar
Linton's at Thrushcross Grange - not if I might have the privilege
of flinging Joseph off the highest gable, and painting the housefront
with Hindley's blood!'
'Hush, hush!' I interrupted. 'Still you have not told me,
Heathcliff, how Catherine is left behind?'
'I told you we laughed,' he answered. 'The Lintons heard us, and
with one accord they shot like arrows to the door; there was
silence, and then a cry, "Oh, mamma, mamma! Oh, papa! Oh, mamma,
come here. Oh, papa, oh!" They really did howl out something in
that way. We made frightful noises to terrify them still more, and
then we dropped off the ledge, because somebody was drawing the
bars, and we felt we had better flee. I had Cathy by the hand, and
was urging her on, when all at once she fell down. "Run,
Heathcliff, run!" she whispered. "They have let the bull-dog
loose, and he holds me!" The devil had seized her ankle, Nelly: I
heard his abominable snorting. She did not yell out - no! she
would have scorned to do it, if she had been spitted on the horns
of a mad cow. I did, though: I vociferated curses enough to
annihilate any fiend in Christendom; and I got a stone and thrust
it between his jaws, and tried with all my might to cram it down
his throat. A beast of a servant came up with a lantern, at last,
shouting - "Keep fast, Skulker, keep fast!" He changed his note,
however, when he saw Skulker's game. The dog was throttled off;
his huge, purple tongue hanging half a foot out of his mouth, and
his pendent lips streaming with bloody slaver. The man took Cathy
up; she was sick: not from fear, I'm certain, but from pain. He
carried her in; I followed, grumbling execrations and vengeance.
"What prey, Robert?" hallooed Linton from the entrance. "Skulker
has caught a little girl, sir," he replied; "and there's a lad
here," he added, making a clutch at me, "who looks an out-andouter!
Very like the robbers were for putting them through the
window to open the doors to the gang after all were asleep, that
they might murder us at their ease. Hold your tongue, you foulmouthed
thief, you! you shall go to the gallows for this. Mr.
Linton, sir, don't lay by your gun." "No, no, Robert," said the
old fool. "The rascals knew that yesterday was my rent-day: they
thought to have me cleverly. Come in; I'll furnish them a
reception. There, John, fasten the chain. Give Skulker some
water, Jenny. To beard a magistrate in his stronghold, and on the
Sabbath, too! Where will their insolence stop? Oh, my dear Mary,
look here! Don't be afraid, it is but a boy - yet the villain
scowls so plainly in his face; would it not be a kindness to the
country to hang him at once, before he shows his nature in acts as
well as features?" He pulled me under the chandelier, and Mrs.
Linton placed her spectacles on her nose and raised her hands in
horror. The cowardly children crept nearer also, Isabella lisping
- "Frightful thing! Put him in the cellar, papa. He's exactly
like the son of the fortune-teller that stole my tame pheasant.
Isn't he, Edgar?"
'While they examined me, Cathy came round; she heard the last
speech, and laughed. Edgar Linton, after an inquisitive stare,
collected sufficient wit to recognise her. They see us at church,
you know, though we seldom meet them elsewhere. "That's Miss
Earnshaw?" he whispered to his mother, "and look how Skulker has
bitten her - how her foot bleeds!"
'"Miss Earnshaw? Nonsense!" cried the dame; "Miss Earnshaw
scouring the country with a gipsy! And yet, my dear, the child is
in mourning - surely it is - and she may be lamed for life!"
'"What culpable carelessness in her brother!" exclaimed Mr. Linton,
turning from me to Catherine. "I've understood from Shielders"'
(that was the curate, sir) '"that he lets her grow up in absolute
heathenism. But who is this? Where did she pick up this
companion? Oho! I declare he is that strange acquisition my late
neighbour made, in his journey to Liverpool - a little Lascar, or
an American or Spanish castaway."
'"A wicked boy, at all events," remarked the old lady, "and quite
unfit for a decent house! Did you notice his language, Linton?
I'm shocked that my children should have heard it."
'I recommenced cursing - don't be angry, Nelly - and so Robert was
ordered to take me off. I refused to go without Cathy; he dragged
me into the garden, pushed the lantern into my hand, assured me
that Mr. Earnshaw should be informed of my behaviour, and, bidding
me march directly, secured the door again. The curtains were still
looped up at one corner, and I resumed my station as spy; because,
if Catherine had wished to return, I intended shattering their
great glass panes to a million of fragments, unless they let her
out. She sat on the sofa quietly. Mrs. Linton took off the grey
cloak of the dairy-maid which we had borrowed for our excursion,
shaking her head and expostulating with her, I suppose: she was a
young lady, and they made a distinction between her treatment and
mine. Then the woman-servant brought a basin of warm water, and
washed her feet; and Mr. Linton mixed a tumbler of negus, and
Isabella emptied a plateful of cakes into her lap, and Edgar stood
gaping at a distance. Afterwards, they dried and combed her
beautiful hair, and gave her a pair of enormous slippers, and
wheeled her to the fire; and I left her, as merry as she could be,
dividing her food between the little dog and Skulker, whose nose
she pinched as he ate; and kindling a spark of spirit in the vacant
blue eyes of the Lintons - a dim reflection from her own enchanting
face. I saw they were full of stupid admiration; she is so
immeasurably superior to them - to everybody on earth, is she not,
'There will more come of this business than you reckon on,' I
answered, covering him up and extinguishing the light. 'You are
incurable, Heathcliff; and Mr. Hindley will have to proceed to
extremities, see if he won't.' My words came truer than I desired.
The luckless adventure made Earnshaw furious. And then Mr. Linton,
to mend matters, paid us a visit himself on the morrow, and read
the young master such a lecture on the road he guided his family,
that he was stirred to look about him, in earnest. Heathcliff
received no flogging, but he was told that the first word he spoke
to Miss Catherine should ensure a dismissal; and Mrs. Earnshaw
undertook to keep her sister-in-law in due restraint when she
returned home; employing art, not force: with force she would have
found it impossible.
CATHY stayed at Thrushcross Grange five weeks: till Christmas. By
that time her ankle was thoroughly cured, and her manners much
improved. The mistress visited her often in the interval, and
commenced her plan of reform by trying to raise her self-respect
with fine clothes and flattery, which she took readily; so that,
instead of a wild, hatless little savage jumping into the house,
and rushing to squeeze us all breathless, there 'lighted from a
handsome black pony a very dignified person, with brown ringlets
falling from the cover of a feathered beaver, and a long cloth
habit, which she was obliged to hold up with both hands that she
might sail in. Hindley lifted her from her horse, exclaiming
delightedly, 'Why, Cathy, you are quite a beauty! I should
scarcely have known you: you look like a lady now. Isabella
Linton is not to be compared with her, is she, Frances?' 'Isabella
has not her natural advantages,' replied his wife: 'but she must
mind and not grow wild again here. Ellen, help Miss Catherine off
with her things - Stay, dear, you will disarrange your curls - let
me untie your hat.'
I removed the habit, and there shone forth beneath a grand plaid
silk frock, white trousers, and burnished shoes; and, while her
eyes sparkled joyfully when the dogs came bounding up to welcome
her, she dared hardly touch them lest they should fawn upon her
splendid garments. She kissed me gently: I was all flour making
the Christmas cake, and it would not have done to give me a hug;
and then she looked round for Heathcliff. Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw
watched anxiously their meeting; thinking it would enable them to
judge, in some measure, what grounds they had for hoping to succeed
in separating the two friends.
Heathcliff was hard to discover, at first. If he were careless,
and uncared for, before Catherine's absence, he had been ten times
more so since. Nobody but I even did him the kindness to call him
a dirty boy, and bid him wash himself, once a week; and children of
his age seldom have a natural pleasure in soap and water.
Therefore, not to mention his clothes, which had seen three months'
service in mire and dust, and his thick uncombed hair, the surface
of his face and hands was dismally beclouded. He might well skulk
behind the settle, on beholding such a bright, graceful damsel
enter the house, instead of a rough-headed counterpart of himself,
as he expected. 'Is Heathcliff not here?' she demanded, pulling
off her gloves, and displaying fingers wonderfully whitened with
doing nothing and staying indoors.
'Heathcliff, you may come forward,' cried Mr. Hindley, enjoying his
discomfiture, and gratified to see what a forbidding young
blackguard he would be compelled to present himself. 'You may come
and wish Miss Catherine welcome, like the other servants.'
Cathy, catching a glimpse of her friend in his concealment, flew to
embrace him; she bestowed seven or eight kisses on his cheek within
the second, and then stopped, and drawing back, burst into a laugh,
exclaiming, 'Why, how very black and cross you look! and how - how
funny and grim! But that's because I'm used to Edgar and Isabella
Linton. Well, Heathcliff, have you forgotten me?'
She had some reason to put the question, for shame and pride threw
double gloom over his countenance, and kept him immovable.
'Shake hands, Heathcliff,' said Mr. Earnshaw, condescendingly;
'once in a way, that is permitted.'
'I shall not,' replied the boy, finding his tongue at last; 'I
shall not stand to be laughed at. I shall not bear it!' And he
would have broken from the circle, but Miss Cathy seized him again.
'I did not mean to laugh at you,' she said; 'I could not hinder
myself: Heathcliff, shake hands at least! What are you sulky for?
It was only that you looked odd. If you wash your face and brush
your hair, it will be all right: but you are so dirty!'
She gazed concernedly at the dusky fingers she held in her own, and
also at her dress; which she feared had gained no embellishment
from its contact with his.
'You needn't have touched me!' he answered, following her eye and
snatching away his hand. 'I shall be as dirty as I please: and I
like to be dirty, and I will be dirty.'
With that he dashed headforemost out of the room, amid the
merriment of the master and mistress, and to the serious
disturbance of Catherine; who could not comprehend how her remarks
should have produced such an exhibition of bad temper.
After playing lady's-maid to the new-comer, and putting my cakes in
the oven, and making the house and kitchen cheerful with great
fires, befitting Christmas-eve, I prepared to sit down and amuse
myself by singing carols, all alone; regardless of Joseph's
affirmations that he considered the merry tunes I chose as next
door to songs. He had retired to private prayer in his chamber,
and Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw were engaging Missy's attention by sundry
gay trifles bought for her to present to the little Lintons, as an
acknowledgment of their kindness. They had invited them to spend
the morrow at Wuthering Heights, and the invitation had been
accepted, on one condition: Mrs. Linton begged that her darlings
might be kept carefully apart from that 'naughty swearing boy.'
Under these circumstances I remained solitary. I smelt the rich
scent of the heating spices; and admired the shining kitchen
utensils, the polished clock, decked in holly, the silver mugs
ranged on a tray ready to be filled with mulled ale for supper; and
above all, the speckless purity of my particular care - the scoured
and well-swept floor. I gave due inward applause to every object,
and then I remembered how old Earnshaw used to come in when all was
tidied, and call me a cant lass, and slip a shilling into my hand
as a Christmas-box; and from that I went on to think of his
fondness for Heathcliff, and his dread lest he should suffer
neglect after death had removed him: and that naturally led me to
consider the poor lad's situation now, and from singing I changed
my mind to crying. It struck me soon, however, there would be more
sense in endeavouring to repair some of his wrongs than shedding
tears over them: I got up and walked into the court to seek him.
He was not far; I found him smoothing the glossy coat of the new
pony in the stable, and feeding the other beasts, according to
'Make haste, Heathcliff!' I said, 'the kitchen is so comfortable;
and Joseph is up-stairs: make haste, and let me dress you smart
before Miss Cathy comes out, and then you can sit together, with
the whole hearth to yourselves, and have a long chatter till
He proceeded with his task, and never turned his head towards me.
'Come - are you coming?' I continued. 'There's a little cake for
each of you, nearly enough; and you'll need half-an-hour's
I waited five minutes, but getting no answer left him. Catherine
supped with her brother and sister-in-law: Joseph and I joined at
an unsociable meal, seasoned with reproofs on one side and
sauciness on the other. His cake and cheese remained on the table
all night for the fairies. He managed to continue work till nine
o'clock, and then marched dumb and dour to his chamber. Cathy sat
up late, having a world of things to order for the reception of her
new friends: she came into the kitchen once to speak to her old
one; but he was gone, and she only stayed to ask what was the
matter with him, and then went back. In the morning he rose early;
and, as it was a holiday, carried his ill-humour on to the moors;
not re-appearing till the family were departed for church. Fasting
and reflection seemed to have brought him to a better spirit. He
hung about me for a while, and having screwed up his courage,
exclaimed abruptly - 'Nelly, make me decent, I'm going to be good.'
'High time, Heathcliff,' I said; 'you HAVE grieved Catherine:
she's sorry she ever came home, I daresay! It looks as if you
envied her, because she is more thought of than you.'
The notion of ENVYING Catherine was incomprehensible to him, but
the notion of grieving her he understood clearly enough.
'Did she say she was grieved?' he inquired, looking very serious.
'She cried when I told her you were off again this morning.'
'Well, I cried last night,' he returned, 'and I had more reason to
cry than she.'
'Yes: you had the reason of going to bed with a proud heart and an
empty stomach,' said I. 'Proud people breed sad sorrows for
themselves. But, if you be ashamed of your touchiness, you must
ask pardon, mind, when she comes in. You must go up and offer to
kiss her, and say - you know best what to say; only do it heartily,
and not as if you thought her converted into a stranger by her
grand dress. And now, though I have dinner to get ready, I'll
steal time to arrange you so that Edgar Linton shall look quite a
doll beside you: and that he does. You are younger, and yet, I'll
be bound, you are taller and twice as broad across the shoulders;
you could knock him down in a twinkling; don't you feel that you
Heathcliff's face brightened a moment; then it was overcast afresh,
and he sighed.
'But, Nelly, if I knocked him down twenty times, that wouldn't make
him less handsome or me more so. I wish I had light hair and a
fair skin, and was dressed and behaved as well, and had a chance of
being as rich as he will be!'
'And cried for mamma at every turn,' I added, 'and trembled if a
country lad heaved his fist against you, and sat at home all day
for a shower of rain. Oh, Heathcliff, you are showing a poor
spirit! Come to the glass, and I'll let you see what you should
wish. Do you mark those two lines between your eyes; and those
thick brows, that, instead of rising arched, sink in the middle;
and that couple of black fiends, so deeply buried, who never open
their windows boldly, but lurk glinting under them, like devil's
spies? Wish and learn to smooth away the surly wrinkles, to raise
your lids frankly, and change the fiends to confident, innocent
angels, suspecting and doubting nothing, and always seeing friends
where they are not sure of foes. Don't get the expression of a
vicious cur that appears to know the kicks it gets are its desert,
and yet hates all the world, as well as the kicker, for what it
'In other words, I must wish for Edgar Linton's great blue eyes and
even forehead,' he replied. 'I do - and that won't help me to
'A good heart will help you to a bonny face, my lad,' I continued,
'if you were a regular black; and a bad one will turn the bonniest
into something worse than ugly. And now that we've done washing,
and combing, and sulking - tell me whether you don't think yourself
rather handsome? I'll tell you, I do. You're fit for a prince in
disguise. Who knows but your father was Emperor of China, and your
mother an Indian queen, each of them able to buy up, with one
week's income, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange together?
And you were kidnapped by wicked sailors and brought to England.
Were I in your place, I would frame high notions of my birth; and
the thoughts of what I was should give me courage and dignity to
support the oppressions of a little farmer!'
So I chattered on; and Heathcliff gradually lost his frown and
began to look quite pleasant, when all at once our conversation was
interrupted by a rumbling sound moving up the road and entering the
court. He ran to the window and I to the door, just in time to
behold the two Lintons descend from the family carriage, smothered
in cloaks and furs, and the Earnshaws dismount from their horses:
they often rode to church in winter. Catherine took a hand of each
of the children, and brought them into the house and set them
before the fire, which quickly put colour into their white faces.
I urged my companion to hasten now and show his amiable humour, and
he willingly obeyed; but ill luck would have it that, as he opened
the door leading from the kitchen on one side, Hindley opened it on
the other. They met, and the master, irritated at seeing him clean
and cheerful, or, perhaps, eager to keep his promise to Mrs.
Linton, shoved him back with a sudden thrust, and angrily bade
Joseph 'keep the fellow out of the room - send him into the garret
till dinner is over. He'll be cramming his fingers in the tarts
and stealing the fruit, if left alone with them a minute.'
'Nay, sir,' I could not avoid answering, 'he'll touch nothing, not
he: and I suppose he must have his share of the dainties as well
as we.'
'He shall have his share of my hand, if I catch him downstairs till
dark,' cried Hindley. 'Begone, you vagabond! What! you are
attempting the coxcomb, are you? Wait till I get hold of those
elegant locks - see if I won't pull them a bit longer!'
'They are long enough already,' observed Master Linton, peeping
from the doorway; 'I wonder they don't make his head ache. It's
like a colt's mane over his eyes!'
He ventured this remark without any intention to insult; but
Heathcliff's violent nature was not prepared to endure the
appearance of impertinence from one whom he seemed to hate, even
then, as a rival. He seized a tureen of hot apple sauce (the first
thing that came under his gripe) and dashed it full against the
speaker's face and neck; who instantly commenced a lament that
brought Isabella and Catherine hurrying to the place. Mr. Earnshaw
snatched up the culprit directly and conveyed him to his chamber;
where, doubtless, he administered a rough remedy to cool the fit of
passion, for he appeared red and breathless. I got the dishcloth,
and rather spitefully scrubbed Edgar's nose and mouth, affirming it
served him right for meddling. His sister began weeping to go
home, and Cathy stood by confounded, blushing for all.
'You should not have spoken to him!' she expostulated with Master
Linton. 'He was in a bad temper, and now you've spoilt your visit;
and he'll be flogged: I hate him to be flogged! I can't eat my
dinner. Why did you speak to him, Edgar?'
'I didn't,' sobbed the youth, escaping from my hands, and finishing
the remainder of the purification with his cambric pockethandkerchief.
'I promised mamma that I wouldn't say one word to
him, and I didn't.'
'Well, don't cry,' replied Catherine, contemptuously; 'you're not
killed. Don't make more mischief; my brother is coming: be quiet!
Hush, Isabella! Has anybody hurt you?'
'There, there, children - to your seats!' cried Hindley, bustling
in. 'That brute of a lad has warmed me nicely. Next time, Master
Edgar, take the law into your own fists - it will give you an
The little party recovered its equanimity at sight of the fragrant
feast. They were hungry after their ride, and easily consoled,
since no real harm had befallen them. Mr. Earnshaw carved
bountiful platefuls, and the mistress made them merry with lively
talk. I waited behind her chair, and was pained to behold
Catherine, with dry eyes and an indifferent air, commence cutting
up the wing of a goose before her. 'An unfeeling child,' I thought
to myself; 'how lightly she dismisses her old playmate's troubles.
I could not have imagined her to be so selfish.' She lifted a
mouthful to her lips: then she set it down again: her cheeks
flushed, and the tears gushed over them. She slipped her fork to
the floor, and hastily dived under the cloth to conceal her
emotion. I did not call her unfeeling long; for I perceived she
was in purgatory throughout the day, and wearying to find an
opportunity of getting by herself, or paying a visit to Heathcliff,
who had been locked up by the master: as I discovered, on
endeavouring to introduce to him a private mess of victuals.
In the evening we had a dance. Cathy begged that he might be
liberated then, as Isabella Linton had no partner: her entreaties
were vain, and I was appointed to supply the deficiency. We got
rid of all gloom in the excitement of the exercise, and our
pleasure was increased by the arrival of the Gimmerton band,
mustering fifteen strong: a trumpet, a trombone, clarionets,
bassoons, French horns, and a bass viol, besides singers. They go
the rounds of all the respectable houses, and receive contributions
every Christmas, and we esteemed it a first-rate treat to hear
them. After the usual carols had been sung, we set them to songs
and glees. Mrs. Earnshaw loved the music, and so they gave us
Catherine loved it too: but she said it sounded sweetest at the
top of the steps, and she went up in the dark: I followed. They
shut the house door below, never noting our absence, it was so full
of people. She made no stay at the stairs'-head, but mounted
farther, to the garret where Heathcliff was confined, and called
him. He stubbornly declined answering for a while: she
persevered, and finally persuaded him to hold communion with her
through the boards. I let the poor things converse unmolested,
till I supposed the songs were going to cease, and the singers to
get some refreshment: then I clambered up the ladder to warn her.
Instead of finding her outside, I heard her voice within. The
little monkey had crept by the skylight of one garret, along the
roof, into the skylight of the other, and it was with the utmost
difficulty I could coax her out again. When she did come,
Heathcliff came with her, and she insisted that I should take him
into the kitchen, as my fellow-servant had gone to a neighbour's,
to be removed from the sound of our 'devil's psalmody,' as it
pleased him to call it. I told them I intended by no means to
encourage their tricks: but as the prisoner had never broken his
fast since yesterday's dinner, I would wink at his cheating Mr.
Hindley that once. He went down: I set him a stool by the fire,
and offered him a quantity of good things: but he was sick and
could eat little, and my attempts to entertain him were thrown
away. He leant his two elbows on his knees, and his chin on his
hands and remained rapt in dumb meditation. On my inquiring the
subject of his thoughts, he answered gravely - 'I'm trying to
settle how I shall pay Hindley back. I don't care how long I wait,
if I can only do it at last. I hope he will not die before I do!'
'For shame, Heathcliff!' said I. 'It is for God to punish wicked
people; we should learn to forgive.'
'No, God won't have the satisfaction that I shall,' he returned.
'I only wish I knew the best way! Let me alone, and I'll plan it
out: while I'm thinking of that I don't feel pain.'
'But, Mr. Lockwood, I forget these tales cannot divert you. I'm
annoyed how I should dream of chattering on at such a rate; and
your gruel cold, and you nodding for bed! I could have told
Heathcliff's history, all that you need hear, in half a dozen
Thus interrupting herself, the housekeeper rose, and proceeded to
lay aside her sewing; but I felt incapable of moving from the
hearth, and I was very far from nodding. 'Sit still, Mrs. Dean,' I
cried; 'do sit still another half-hour. You've done just right to
tell the story leisurely. That is the method I like; and you must
finish it in the same style. I am interested in every character
you have mentioned, more or less.'
'The clock is on the stroke of eleven, sir.'
'No matter - I'm not accustomed to go to bed in the long hours.
One or two is early enough for a person who lies till ten.'
'You shouldn't lie till ten. There's the very prime of the morning
gone long before that time. A person who has not done one-half his
day's work by ten o'clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half
'Nevertheless, Mrs. Dean, resume your chair; because to-morrow I
intend lengthening the night till afternoon. I prognosticate for
myself an obstinate cold, at least.'
'I hope not, sir. Well, you must allow me to leap over some three
years; during that space Mrs. Earnshaw - '
'No, no, I'll allow nothing of the sort! Are you acquainted with
the mood of mind in which, if you were seated alone, and the cat
licking its kitten on the rug before you, you would watch the
operation so intently that puss's neglect of one ear would put you
seriously out of temper?'
'A terribly lazy mood, I should say.'
'On the contrary, a tiresomely active one. It is mine, at present;
and, therefore, continue minutely. I perceive that people in these
regions acquire over people in towns the value that a spider in a
dungeon does over a spider in a cottage, to their various
occupants; and yet the deepened attraction is not entirely owing to
the situation of the looker-on. They DO live more in earnest, more
in themselves, and less in surface, change, and frivolous external
things. I could fancy a love for life here almost possible; and I
was a fixed unbeliever in any love of a year's standing. One state
resembles setting a hungry man down to a single dish, on which he
may concentrate his entire appetite and do it justice; the other,
introducing him to a table laid out by French cooks: he can
perhaps extract as much enjoyment from the whole; but each part is
a mere atom in his regard and remembrance.'
'Oh! here we are the same as anywhere else, when you get to know
us,' observed Mrs. Dean, somewhat puzzled at my speech.
'Excuse me,' I responded; 'you, my good friend, are a striking
evidence against that assertion. Excepting a few provincialisms of
slight consequence, you have no marks of the manners which I am
habituated to consider as peculiar to your class. I am sure you
have thought a great deal more than the generality of servants
think. You have been compelled to cultivate your reflective
faculties for want of occasions for frittering your life away in
silly trifles.'
Mrs. Dean laughed.
'I certainly esteem myself a steady, reasonable kind of body,' she
said; 'not exactly from living among the hills and seeing one set
of faces, and one series of actions, from year's end to year's end;
but I have undergone sharp discipline, which has taught me wisdom;
and then, I have read more than you would fancy, Mr. Lockwood. You
could not open a book in this library that I have not looked into,
and got something out of also: unless it be that range of Greek
and Latin, and that of French; and those I know one from another:
it is as much as you can expect of a poor man's daughter. However,
if I am to follow my story in true gossip's fashion, I had better
go on; and instead of leaping three years, I will be content to
pass to the next summer - the summer of 1778, that is nearly
twenty-three years ago.'
ON the morning of a fine June day my first bonny little nursling,
and the last of the ancient Earnshaw stock, was born. We were busy
with the hay in a far-away field, when the girl that usually
brought our breakfasts came running an hour too soon across the
meadow and up the lane, calling me as she ran.
'Oh, such a grand bairn!' she panted out. 'The finest lad that
ever breathed! But the doctor says missis must go: he says she's
been in a consumption these many months. I heard him tell Mr.
Hindley: and now she has nothing to keep her, and she'll be dead
before winter. You must come home directly. You're to nurse it,
Nelly: to feed it with sugar and milk, and take care of it day and
night. I wish I were you, because it will be all yours when there
is no missis!'
'But is she very ill?' I asked, flinging down my rake and tying my
'I guess she is; yet she looks bravely,' replied the girl, 'and she
talks as if she thought of living to see it grow a man. She's out
of her head for joy, it's such a beauty! If I were her I'm certain
I should not die: I should get better at the bare sight of it, in
spite of Kenneth. I was fairly mad at him. Dame Archer brought
the cherub down to master, in the house, and his face just began to
light up, when the old croaker steps forward, and says he -
"Earnshaw, it's a blessing your wife has been spared to leave you
this son. When she came, I felt convinced we shouldn't keep her
long; and now, I must tell you, the winter will probably finish
her. Don't take on, and fret about it too much: it can't be
helped. And besides, you should have known better than to choose
such a rush of a lass!"'
'And what did the master answer?' I inquired.
'I think he swore: but I didn't mind him, I was straining to see
the bairn,' and she began again to describe it rapturously. I, as
zealous as herself, hurried eagerly home to admire, on my part;
though I was very sad for Hindley's sake. He had room in his heart
only for two idols - his wife and himself: he doted on both, and
adored one, and I couldn't conceive how he would bear the loss.
When we got to Wuthering Heights, there he stood at the front door;
and, as I passed in, I asked, 'how was the baby?'
'Nearly ready to run about, Nell!' he replied, putting on a
cheerful smile.
'And the mistress?' I ventured to inquire; 'the doctor says she's -
'Damn the doctor!' he interrupted, reddening. 'Frances is quite
right: she'll be perfectly well by this time next week. Are you
going up-stairs? will you tell her that I'll come, if she'll
promise not to talk. I left her because she would not hold her
tongue; and she must - tell her Mr. Kenneth says she must be
I delivered this message to Mrs. Earnshaw; she seemed in flighty
spirits, and replied merrily, 'I hardly spoke a word, Ellen, and
there he has gone out twice, crying. Well, say I promise I won't
speak: but that does not bind me not to laugh at him!'
Poor soul! Till within a week of her death that gay heart never
failed her; and her husband persisted doggedly, nay, furiously, in
affirming her health improved every day. When Kenneth warned him
that his medicines were useless at that stage of the malady, and he
needn't put him to further expense by attending her, he retorted,
'I know you need not - she's well - she does not want any more
attendance from you! She never was in a consumption. It was a
fever; and it is gone: her pulse is as slow as mine now, and her
cheek as cool.'
He told his wife the same story, and she seemed to believe him; but
one night, while leaning on his shoulder, in the act of saying she
thought she should be able to get up to-morrow, a fit of coughing
took her - a very slight one - he raised her in his arms; she put
her two hands about his neck, her face changed, and she was dead.
As the girl had anticipated, the child Hareton fell wholly into my
hands. Mr. Earnshaw, provided he saw him healthy and never heard
him cry, was contented, as far as regarded him. For himself, he
grew desperate: his sorrow was of that kind that will not lament.
He neither wept nor prayed; he cursed and defied: execrated God
and man, and gave himself up to reckless dissipation. The servants
could not bear his tyrannical and evil conduct long: Joseph and I
were the only two that would stay. I had not the heart to leave my
charge; and besides, you know, I had been his foster-sister, and
excused his behaviour more readily than a stranger would. Joseph
remained to hector over tenants and labourers; and because it was
his vocation to be where he had plenty of wickedness to reprove.
The master's bad ways and bad companions formed a pretty example
for Catherine and Heathcliff. His treatment of the latter was
enough to make a fiend of a saint. And, truly, it appeared as if
the lad WERE possessed of something diabolical at that period. He
delighted to witness Hindley degrading himself past redemption; and
became daily more notable for savage sullenness and ferocity. I
could not half tell what an infernal house we had. The curate
dropped calling, and nobody decent came near us, at last; unless
Edgar Linton's visits to Miss Cathy might be an exception. At
fifteen she was the queen of the country-side; she had no peer; and
she did turn out a haughty, headstrong creature! I own I did not
like her, after infancy was past; and I vexed her frequently by
trying to bring down her arrogance: she never took an aversion to
me, though. She had a wondrous constancy to old attachments: even
Heathcliff kept his hold on her affections unalterably; and young
Linton, with all his superiority, found it difficult to make an
equally deep impression. He was my late master: that is his
portrait over the fireplace. It used to hang on one side, and his
wife's on the other; but hers has been removed, or else you might
see something of what she was. Can you make that out?
Mrs. Dean raised the candle, and I discerned a soft-featured face,
exceedingly resembling the young lady at the Heights, but more
pensive and amiable in expression. It formed a sweet picture. The
long light hair curled slightly on the temples; the eyes were large
and serious; the figure almost too graceful. I did not marvel how
Catherine Earnshaw could forget her first friend for such an
individual. I marvelled much how he, with a mind to correspond
with his person, could fancy my idea of Catherine Earnshaw.
'A very agreeable portrait,' I observed to the house-keeper. 'Is
it like?'
'Yes,' she answered; 'but he looked better when he was animated;
that is his everyday countenance: he wanted spirit in general.'
Catherine had kept up her acquaintance with the Lintons since her
five-weeks' residence among them; and as she had no temptation to
show her rough side in their company, and had the sense to be
ashamed of being rude where she experienced such invariable
courtesy, she imposed unwittingly on the old lady and gentleman by
her ingenious cordiality; gained the admiration of Isabella, and
the heart and soul of her brother: acquisitions that flattered her
from the first - for she was full of ambition - and led her to
adopt a double character without exactly intending to deceive any
one. In the place where she heard Heathcliff termed a 'vulgar
young ruffian,' and 'worse than a brute,' she took care not to act
like him; but at home she had small inclination to practise
politeness that would only be laughed at, and restrain an unruly
nature when it would bring her neither credit nor praise.
Mr. Edgar seldom mustered courage to visit Wuthering Heights
openly. He had a terror of Earnshaw's reputation, and shrunk from
encountering him; and yet he was always received with our best
attempts at civility: the master himself avoided offending him,
knowing why he came; and if he could not be gracious, kept out of
the way. I rather think his appearance there was distasteful to
Catherine; she was not artful, never played the coquette, and had
evidently an objection to her two friends meeting at all; for when
Heathcliff expressed contempt of Linton in his presence, she could
not half coincide, as she did in his absence; and when Linton
evinced disgust and antipathy to Heathcliff, she dared not treat
his sentiments with indifference, as if depreciation of her
playmate were of scarcely any consequence to her. I've had many a
laugh at her perplexities and untold troubles, which she vainly
strove to hide from my mockery. That sounds ill-natured: but she
was so proud it became really impossible to pity her distresses,
till she should be chastened into more humility. She did bring
herself, finally, to confess, and to confide in me: there was not
a soul else that she might fashion into an adviser.
Mr. Hindley had gone from home one afternoon, and Heathcliff
presumed to give himself a holiday on the strength of it. He had
reached the age of sixteen then, I think, and without having bad
features, or being deficient in intellect, he contrived to convey
an impression of inward and outward repulsiveness that his present
aspect retains no traces of. In the first place, he had by that
time lost the benefit of his early education: continual hard work,
begun soon and concluded late, had extinguished any curiosity he
once possessed in pursuit of knowledge, and any love for books or
learning. His childhood's sense of superiority, instilled into him
by the favours of old Mr. Earnshaw, was faded away. He struggled
long to keep up an equality with Catherine in her studies, and
yielded with poignant though silent regret: but he yielded
completely; and there was no prevailing on him to take a step in
the way of moving upward, when he found he must, necessarily, sink
beneath his former level. Then personal appearance sympathised
with mental deterioration: he acquired a slouching gait and
ignoble look; his naturally reserved disposition was exaggerated
into an almost idiotic excess of unsociable moroseness; and he took
a grim pleasure, apparently, in exciting the aversion rather than
the esteem of his few acquaintance.
Catherine and he were constant companions still at his seasons of
respite from labour; but he had ceased to express his fondness for
her in words, and recoiled with angry suspicion from her girlish
caresses, as if conscious there could be no gratification in
lavishing such marks of affection on him. On the before-named
occasion he came into the house to announce his intention of doing
nothing, while I was assisting Miss Cathy to arrange her dress:
she had not reckoned on his taking it into his head to be idle; and
imagining she would have the whole place to herself, she managed,
by some means, to inform Mr. Edgar of her brother's absence, and
was then preparing to receive him.
'Cathy, are you busy this afternoon?' asked Heathcliff. 'Are you
going anywhere?'
'No, it is raining,' she answered.
'Why have you that silk frock on, then?' he said. 'Nobody coming
here, I hope?'
'Not that I know of,' stammered Miss: 'but you should be in the
field now, Heathcliff. It is an hour past dinnertime: I thought
you were gone.'
'Hindley does not often free us from his accursed presence,'
observed the boy. 'I'll not work any more to-day: I'll stay with
'Oh, but Joseph will tell,' she suggested; 'you'd better go!'
'Joseph is loading lime on the further side of Penistone Crags; it
will take him till dark, and he'll never know.'
So, saying, he lounged to the fire, and sat down. Catherine
reflected an instant, with knitted brows - she found it needful to
smooth the way for an intrusion. 'Isabella and Edgar Linton talked
of calling this afternoon,' she said, at the conclusion of a
minute's silence. 'As it rains, I hardly expect them; but they may
come, and if they do, you run the risk of being scolded for no
'Order Ellen to say you are engaged, Cathy,' he persisted; 'don't
turn me out for those pitiful, silly friends of yours! I'm on the
point, sometimes, of complaining that they - but I'll not - '
'That they what?' cried Catherine, gazing at him with a troubled
countenance. 'Oh, Nelly!' she added petulantly, jerking her head
away from my hands, 'you've combed my hair quite out of curl!
That's enough; let me alone. What are you on the point of
complaining about, Heathcliff?'
'Nothing - only look at the almanack on that wall;' he pointed to a
framed sheet hanging near the window, and continued, 'The crosses
are for the evenings you have spent with the Lintons, the dots for
those spent with me. Do you see? I've marked every day.'
'Yes - very foolish: as if I took notice!' replied Catherine, in a
peevish tone. 'And where is the sense of that?'
'To show that I DO take notice,' said Heathcliff.
'And should I always be sitting with you?' she demanded, growing
more irritated. 'What good do I get? What do you talk about? You
might be dumb, or a baby, for anything you say to amuse me, or for
anything you do, either!'
'You never told me before that I talked too little, or that you
disliked my company, Cathy!' exclaimed Heathcliff, in much
'It's no company at all, when people know nothing and say nothing,'
she muttered.
Her companion rose up, but he hadn't time to express his feelings
further, for a horse's feet were heard on the flags, and having
knocked gently, young Linton entered, his face brilliant with
delight at the unexpected summon she had received. Doubtless
Catherine marked the difference between her friends, as one came in
and the other went out. The contrast resembled what you see in
exchanging a bleak, hilly, coal country for a beautiful fertile
valley; and his voice and greeting were as opposite as his aspect.
He had a sweet, low manner of speaking, and pronounced his words as
you do: that's less gruff than we talk here, and softer.
'I'm not come too soon, am I?' he said, casting a look at me: I
had begun to wipe the plate, and tidy some drawers at the far end
in the dresser.
'No,' answered Catherine. 'What are you doing there, Nelly?'
'My work, Miss,' I replied. (Mr. Hindley had given me directions
to make a third party in any private visits Linton chose to pay.)
She stepped behind me and whispered crossly, 'Take yourself and
your dusters off; when company are in the house, servants don't
commence scouring and cleaning in the room where they are!'
'It's a good opportunity, now that master is away,' I answered
aloud: 'he hates me to be fidgeting over these things in his
presence. I'm sure Mr. Edgar will excuse me.'
'I hate you to be fidgeting in MY presence,' exclaimed the young
lady imperiously, not allowing her guest time to speak: she had
failed to recover her equanimity since the little dispute with
'I'm sorry for it, Miss Catherine,' was my response; and I
proceeded assiduously with my occupation.
She, supposing Edgar could not see her, snatched the cloth from my
hand, and pinched me, with a prolonged wrench, very spitefully on
the arm. I've said I did not love her, and rather relished
mortifying her vanity now and then: besides, she hurt me
extremely; so I started up from my knees, and screamed out, 'Oh,
Miss, that's a nasty trick! You have no right to nip me, and I'm
not going to bear it.'
'I didn't touch you, you lying creature!' cried she, her fingers
tingling to repeat the act, and her ears red with rage. She never
had power to conceal her passion, it always set her whole
complexion in a blaze.
'What's that, then?' I retorted, showing a decided purple witness
to refute her.
She stamped her foot, wavered a moment, and then, irresistibly
impelled by the naughty spirit within her, slapped me on the cheek:
a stinging blow that filled both eyes with water.
'Catherine, love! Catherine!' interposed Linton, greatly shocked
at the double fault of falsehood and violence which his idol had
'Leave the room, Ellen!' she repeated, trembling all over.
Little Hareton, who followed me everywhere, and was sitting near me
on the floor, at seeing my tears commenced crying himself, and
sobbed out complaints against 'wicked aunt Cathy,' which drew her
fury on to his unlucky head: she seized his shoulders, and shook
him till the poor child waxed livid, and Edgar thoughtlessly laid
hold of her hands to deliver him. In an instant one was wrung
free, and the astonished young man felt it applied over his own ear
in a way that could not be mistaken for jest. He drew back in
consternation. I lifted Hareton in my arms, and walked off to the
kitchen with him, leaving the door of communication open, for I was
curious to watch how they would settle their disagreement. The
insulted visitor moved to the spot where he had laid his hat, pale
and with a quivering lip.
'That's right!' I said to myself. 'Take warning and begone! It's
a kindness to let you have a glimpse of her genuine disposition.'
'Where are you going?' demanded Catherine, advancing to the door.
He swerved aside, and attempted to pass.
'You must not go!' she exclaimed, energetically.
'I must and shall!' he replied in a subdued voice.
'No,' she persisted, grasping the handle; 'not yet, Edgar Linton:
sit down; you shall not leave me in that temper. I should be
miserable all night, and I won't be miserable for you!'
'Can I stay after you have struck me?' asked Linton.
Catherine was mute.
'You've made me afraid and ashamed of you,' he continued; 'I'll not
come here again!'
Her eyes began to glisten and her lids to twinkle.
'And you told a deliberate untruth!' he said.
'I didn't!' she cried, recovering her speech; 'I did nothing
deliberately. Well, go, if you please - get away! And now I'll
cry - I'll cry myself sick!'
She dropped down on her knees by a chair, and set to weeping in
serious earnest. Edgar persevered in his resolution as far as the
court; there he lingered. I resolved to encourage him.
'Miss is dreadfully wayward, sir,' I called out. 'As bad as any
marred child: you'd better be riding home, or else she will be
sick, only to grieve us.'
The soft thing looked askance through the window: he possessed the
power to depart as much as a cat possesses the power to leave a
mouse half killed, or a bird half eaten. Ah, I thought, there will
be no saving him: he's doomed, and flies to his fate! And so it
was: he turned abruptly, hastened into the house again, shut the
door behind him; and when I went in a while after to inform them
that Earnshaw had come home rabid drunk, ready to pull the whole
place about our ears (his ordinary frame of mind in that
condition), I saw the quarrel had merely effected a closer intimacy
- had broken the outworks of youthful timidity, and enabled them to
forsake the disguise of friendship, and confess themselves lovers.
Intelligence of Mr. Hindley's arrival drove Linton speedily to his
horse, and Catherine to her chamber. I went to hide little
Hareton, and to take the shot out of the master's fowling-piece,
which he was fond of playing with in his insane excitement, to the
hazard of the lives of any who provoked, or even attracted his
notice too much; and I had hit upon the plan of removing it, that
he might do less mischief if he did go the length of firing the
HE entered, vociferating oaths dreadful to hear; and caught me in
the act of stowing his son sway in the kitchen cupboard. Hareton
was impressed with a wholesome terror of encountering either his
wild beast's fondness or his madman's rage; for in one he ran a
chance of being squeezed and kissed to death, and in the other of
being flung into the fire, or dashed against the wall; and the poor
thing remained perfectly quiet wherever I chose to put him.
'There, I've found it out at last!' cried Hindley, pulling me back
by the skin of my neck, like a dog. 'By heaven and hell, you've
sworn between you to murder that child! I know how it is, now,
that he is always out of my way. But, with the help of Satan, I
shall make you swallow the carving-knife, Nelly! You needn't
laugh; for I've just crammed Kenneth, head-downmost, in the Blackhorse
marsh; and two is the same as one - and I want to kill some
of you: I shall have no rest till I do!'
'But I don't like the carving-knife, Mr. Hindley,' I answered; 'it
has been cutting red herrings. I'd rather be shot, if you please.'
'You'd rather be damned!' he said; 'and so you shall. No law in
England can hinder a man from keeping his house decent, and mine's
abominable! Open your mouth.' He held the knife in his hand, and
pushed its point between my teeth: but, for my part, I was never
much afraid of his vagaries. I spat out, and affirmed it tasted
detestably - I would not take it on any account.
'Oh!' said he, releasing me, 'I see that hideous little villain is
not Hareton: I beg your pardon, Nell. If it be, he deserves
flaying alive for not running to welcome me, and for screaming as
if I were a goblin. Unnatural cub, come hither! I'll teach thee
to impose on a good-hearted, deluded father. Now, don't you think
the lad would be handsomer cropped? It makes a dog fiercer, and I
love something fierce - get me a scissors - something fierce and
trim! Besides, it's infernal affectation - devilish conceit it is,
to cherish our ears - we're asses enough without them. Hush,
child, hush! Well then, it is my darling! wisht, dry thy eyes -
there's a joy; kiss me. What! it won't? Kiss me, Hareton! Damn
thee, kiss me! By God, as if I would rear such a monster! As sure
as I'm living, I'll break the brat's neck.'
Poor Hareton was squalling and kicking in his father's arms with
all his might, and redoubled his yells when he carried him upstairs
and lifted him over the banister. I cried out that he would
frighten the child into fits, and ran to rescue him. As I reached
them, Hindley leant forward on the rails to listen to a noise
below; almost forgetting what he had in his hands. 'Who is that?'
he asked, hearing some one approaching the stairs'-foot. I leant
forward also, for the purpose of signing to Heathcliff, whose step
I recognised, not to come further; and, at the instant when my eye
quitted Hareton, he gave a sudden spring, delivered himself from
the careless grasp that held him, and fell.
There was scarcely time to experience a thrill of horror before we
saw that the little wretch was safe. Heathcliff arrived underneath
just at the critical moment; by a natural impulse he arrested his
descent, and setting him on his feet, looked up to discover the
author of the accident. A miser who has parted with a lucky
lottery ticket for five shillings, and finds next day he has lost
in the bargain five thousand pounds, could not show a blanker
countenance than he did on beholding the figure of Mr. Earnshaw
above. It expressed, plainer than words could do, the intensest
anguish at having made himself the instrument of thwarting his own
revenge. Had it been dark, I daresay he would have tried to remedy
the mistake by smashing Hareton's skull on the steps; but, we
witnessed his salvation; and I was presently below with my precious
charge pressed to my heart. Hindley descended more leisurely,
sobered and abashed.
'It is your fault, Ellen,' he said; 'you should have kept him out
of sight: you should have taken him from me! Is he injured
'Injured!' I cried angrily; 'if he is not killed, he'll be an
idiot! Oh! I wonder his mother does not rise from her grave to
see how you use him. You're worse than a heathen - treating your
own flesh and blood in that manner!' He attempted to touch the
child, who, on finding himself with me, sobbed off his terror
directly. At the first finger his father laid on him, however, he
shrieked again louder than before, and struggled as if he would go
into convulsions.
'You shall not meddle with him!' I continued. 'He hates you - they
all hate you - that's the truth! A happy family you have; and a
pretty state you're come to!'
'I shall come to a prettier, yet, Nelly,' laughed the misguided
man, recovering his hardness. 'At present, convey yourself and him
away. And hark you, Heathcliff! clear you too quite from my reach
and hearing. I wouldn't murder you to-night; unless, perhaps, I
set the house on fire: but that's as my fancy goes.'
While saying this he took a pint bottle of brandy from the dresser,
and poured some into a tumbler.
'Nay, don't!' I entreated. 'Mr. Hindley, do take warning. Have
mercy on this unfortunate boy, if you care nothing for yourself!'
'Any one will do better for him than I shall,' he answered.
'Have mercy on your own soul!' I said, endeavouring to snatch the
glass from his hand.
'Not I! On the contrary, I shall have great pleasure in sending it
to perdition to punish its Maker,' exclaimed the blasphemer.
'Here's to its hearty damnation!'
He drank the spirits and impatiently bade us go; terminating his
command with a sequel of horrid imprecations too bad to repeat or
'It's a pity he cannot kill himself with drink,' observed
Heathcliff, muttering an echo of curses back when the door was
shut. 'He's doing his very utmost; but his constitution defies
him. Mr. Kenneth says he would wager his mare that he'll outlive
any man on this side Gimmerton, and go to the grave a hoary sinner;
unless some happy chance out of the common course befall him.'
I went into the kitchen, and sat down to lull my little lamb to
sleep. Heathcliff, as I thought, walked through to the barn. It
turned out afterwards that he only got as far as the other side the
settle, when he flung himself on a bench by the wall, removed from
the fire and remained silent.
I was rocking Hareton on my knee, and humming a song that began, -
It was far in the night, and the bairnies grat,
The mither beneath the mools heard that,
when Miss Cathy, who had listened to the hubbub from her room, put
her head in, and whispered, - 'Are you alone, Nelly?'
'Yes, Miss,' I replied.
She entered and approached the hearth. I, supposing she was going
to say something, looked up. The expression of her face seemed
disturbed and anxious. Her lips were half asunder, as if she meant
to speak, and she drew a breath; but it escaped in a sigh instead
of a sentence. I resumed my song; not having forgotten her recent
'Where's Heathcliff?' she said, interrupting me.
'About his work in the stable,' was my answer.
He did not contradict me; perhaps he had fallen into a doze. There
followed another long pause, during which I perceived a drop or two
trickle from Catherine's cheek to the flags. Is she sorry for her
shameful conduct? - I asked myself. That will be a novelty: but
she may come to the point - as she will - I sha'n't help her! No,
she felt small trouble regarding any subject, save her own
'Oh, dear!' she cried at last. 'I'm very unhappy!'
'A pity,' observed I. 'You're hard to please; so many friends and
so few cares, and can't make yourself content!'
'Nelly, will you keep a secret for me?' she pursued, kneeling down
by me, and lifting her winsome eyes to my face with that sort of
look which turns off bad temper, even when one has all the right in
the world to indulge it.
'Is it worth keeping?' I inquired, less sulkily.
'Yes, and it worries me, and I must let it out! I want to know
what I should do. To-day, Edgar Linton has asked me to marry him,
and I've given him an answer. Now, before I tell you whether it
was a consent or denial, you tell me which it ought to have been.'
'Really, Miss Catherine, how can I know?' I replied. 'To be sure,
considering the exhibition you performed in his presence this
afternoon, I might say it would be wise to refuse him: since he
asked you after that, he must either be hopelessly stupid or a
venturesome fool.'
'If you talk so, I won't tell you any more,' she returned,
peevishly rising to her feet. 'I accepted him, Nelly. Be quick,
and say whether I was wrong!'
'You accepted him! Then what good is it discussing the matter?
You have pledged your word, and cannot retract.'
'But say whether I should have done so - do!' she exclaimed in an
irritated tone; chafing her hands together, and frowning.
'There are many things to be considered before that question can be
answered properly,' I said, sententiously. 'First and foremost, do
you love Mr. Edgar?'
'Who can help it? Of course I do,' she answered.
Then I put her through the following catechism: for a girl of
twenty-two it was not injudicious.
'Why do you love him, Miss Cathy?'
'Nonsense, I do - that's sufficient.'
'By no means; you must say why?'
'Well, because he is handsome, and pleasant to be with.'
'Bad!' was my commentary.
'And because he is young and cheerful.'
'Bad, still.'
'And because he loves me.'
'Indifferent, coming there.'
'And he will be rich, and I shall like to be the greatest woman of
the neighbourhood, and I shall be proud of having such a husband.'
'Worst of all. And now, say how you love him?'
'As everybody loves - You're silly, Nelly.'
'Not at all - Answer.'
'I love the ground under his feet, and the air over his head, and
everything he touches, and every word he says. I love all his
looks, and all his actions, and him entirely and altogether. There
'And why?'
'Nay; you are making a jest of it: it is exceedingly ill-natured!
It's no jest to me!' said the young lady, scowling, and turning her
face to the fire.
'I'm very far from jesting, Miss Catherine,' I replied. 'You love
Mr. Edgar because he is handsome, and young, and cheerful, and
rich, and loves you. The last, however, goes for nothing: you
would love him without that, probably; and with it you wouldn't,
unless he possessed the four former attractions.'
'No, to be sure not: I should only pity him - hate him, perhaps,
if he were ugly, and a clown.'
'But there are several other handsome, rich young men in the world:
handsomer, possibly, and richer than he is. What should hinder you
from loving them?'
'If there be any, they are out of my way: I've seen none like
'You may see some; and he won't always be handsome, and young, and
may not always be rich.'
'He is now; and I have only to do with the present. I wish you
would speak rationally.'
'Well, that settles it: if you have only to do with the present,
marry Mr. Linton.'
'I don't want your permission for that - I SHALL marry him: and
yet you have not told me whether I'm right.'
'Perfectly right; if people be right to marry only for the present.
And now, let us hear what you are unhappy about. Your brother will
be pleased; the old lady and gentleman will not object, I think;
you will escape from a disorderly, comfortless home into a wealthy,
respectable one; and you love Edgar, and Edgar loves you. All
seems smooth and easy: where is the obstacle?'
'HERE! and HERE!' replied Catherine, striking one hand on her
forehead, and the other on her breast: 'in whichever place the
soul lives. In my soul and in my heart, I'm convinced I'm wrong!'
'That's very strange! I cannot make it out.'
'It's my secret. But if you will not mock at me, I'll explain it:
I can't do it distinctly; but I'll give you a feeling of how I
She seated herself by me again: her countenance grew sadder and
graver, and her clasped hands trembled.
'Nelly, do you never dream queer dreams?' she said, suddenly, after
some minutes' reflection.
'Yes, now and then,' I answered.
'And so do I. I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with
me ever after, and changed my ideas: they've gone through and
through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my
mind. And this is one: I'm going to tell it - but take care not
to smile at any part of it.'
'Oh! don't, Miss Catherine!' I cried. 'We're dismal enough without
conjuring up ghosts and visions to perplex us. Come, come, be
merry and like yourself! Look at little Hareton! HE'S dreaming
nothing dreary. How sweetly he smiles in his sleep!'
'Yes; and how sweetly his father curses in his solitude! You
remember him, I daresay, when he was just such another as that
chubby thing: nearly as young and innocent. However, Nelly, I
shall oblige you to listen: it's not long; and I've no power to be
merry to-night.'
'I won't hear it, I won't hear it!' I repeated, hastily.
I was superstitious about dreams then, and am still; and Catherine
had an unusual gloom in her aspect, that made me dread something
from which I might shape a prophecy, and foresee a fearful
catastrophe. She was vexed, but she did not proceed. Apparently
taking up another subject, she recommenced in a short time.
'If I were in heaven, Nelly, I should be extremely miserable.'
'Because you are not fit to go there,' I answered. 'All sinners
would be miserable in heaven.'
'But it is not for that. I dreamt once that I was there.'
'I tell you I won't hearken to your dreams, Miss Catherine! I'll
go to bed,' I interrupted again.
She laughed, and held me down; for I made a motion to leave my
'This is nothing,' cried she: 'I was only going to say that heaven
did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to
come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me
out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights;
where I woke sobbing for joy. That will do to explain my secret,
as well as the other. I've no more business to marry Edgar Linton
than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not
brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn't have thought of it. It
would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know
how I love him: and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but
because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made
of, his and mine are the same; and Linton's is as different as a
moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.'
Ere this speech ended I became sensible of Heathcliff's presence.
Having noticed a slight movement, I turned my head, and saw him
rise from the bench, and steal out noiselessly. He had listened
till he heard Catherine say it would degrade her to marry him, and
then he stayed to hear no further. My companion, sitting on the
ground, was prevented by the back of the settle from remarking his
presence or departure; but I started, and bade her hush!
'Why?' she asked, gazing nervously round.
'Joseph is here,' I answered, catching opportunely the roll of his
cartwheels up the road; 'and Heathcliff will come in with him. I'm
not sure whether he were not at the door this moment.'
'Oh, he couldn't overhear me at the door!' said she. 'Give me
Hareton, while you get the supper, and when it is ready ask me to
sup with you. I want to cheat my uncomfortable conscience, and be
convinced that Heathcliff has no notion of these things. He has
not, has he? He does not know what being in love is!'
'I see no reason that he should not know, as well as you,' I
returned; 'and if you are his choice, he'll be the most unfortunate
creature that ever was born! As soon as you become Mrs. Linton, he
loses friend, and love, and all! Have you considered how you'll
bear the separation, and how he'll bear to be quite deserted in the
world? Because, Miss Catherine - '
'He quite deserted! we separated!' she exclaimed, with an accent of
indignation. 'Who is to separate us, pray? They'll meet the fate
of Milo! Not as long as I live, Ellen: for no mortal creature.
Every Linton on the face of the earth might melt into nothing
before I could consent to forsake Heathcliff. Oh, that's not what
I intend - that's not what I mean! I shouldn't be Mrs. Linton were
such a price demanded! He'll be as much to me as he has been all
his lifetime. Edgar must shake off his antipathy, and tolerate
him, at least. He will, when he learns my true feelings towards
him. Nelly, I see now you think me a selfish wretch; but did it
never strike you that if Heathcliff and I married, we should be
beggars? whereas, if I marry Linton I can aid Heathcliff to rise,
and place him out of my brother's power.'
'With your husband's money, Miss Catherine?' I asked. 'You'll find
him not so pliable as you calculate upon: and, though I'm hardly a
judge, I think that's the worst motive you've given yet for being
the wife of young Linton.'
'It is not,' retorted she; 'it is the best! The others were the
satisfaction of my whims: and for Edgar's sake, too, to satisfy
him. This is for the sake of one who comprehends in his person my
feelings to Edgar and myself. I cannot express it; but surely you
and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence
of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were
entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been
Heathcliff's miseries, and I watched and felt each from the
beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else
perished, and HE remained, I should still continue to be; and if
all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn
to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it. - My love
for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it,
I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for
Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little
visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I AM Heathcliff! He's
always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am
always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being. So don't talk of
our separation again: it is impracticable; and - '
She paused, and hid her face in the folds of my gown; but I jerked
it forcibly away. I was out of patience with her folly!
'If I can make any sense of your nonsense, Miss,' I said, 'it only
goes to convince me that you are ignorant of the duties you
undertake in marrying; or else that you are a wicked, unprincipled
girl. But trouble me with no more secrets: I'll not promise to
keep them.'
'You'll keep that?' she asked, eagerly.
'No, I'll not promise,' I repeated.
She was about to insist, when the entrance of Joseph finished our
conversation; and Catherine removed her seat to a corner, and
nursed Hareton, while I made the supper. After it was cooked, my
fellow-servant and I began to quarrel who should carry some to Mr.
Hindley; and we didn't settle it till all was nearly cold. Then we
came to the agreement that we would let him ask, if he wanted any;
for we feared particularly to go into his presence when he had been
some time alone.
'And how isn't that nowt comed in fro' th' field, be this time?
What is he about? girt idle seeght!' demanded the old man, looking
round for Heathcliff.
'I'll call him,' I replied. 'He's in the barn, I've no doubt.'
I went and called, but got no answer. On returning, I whispered to
Catherine that he had heard a good part of what she said, I was
sure; and told how I saw him quit the kitchen just as she
complained of her brother's conduct regarding him. She jumped up
in a fine fright, flung Hareton on to the settle, and ran to seek
for her friend herself; not taking leisure to consider why she was
so flurried, or how her talk would have affected him. She was
absent such a while that Joseph proposed we should wait no longer.
He cunningly conjectured they were staying away in order to avoid
hearing his protracted blessing. They were 'ill eneugh for ony
fahl manners,' he affirmed. And on their behalf he added that
night a special prayer to the usual quarter-of-an-hour's
supplication before meat, and would have tacked another to the end
of the grace, had not his young mistress broken in upon him with a
hurried command that he must run down the road, and, wherever
Heathcliff had rambled, find and make him re-enter directly!
'I want to speak to him, and I MUST, before I go upstairs,' she
said. 'And the gate is open: he is somewhere out of hearing; for
he would not reply, though I shouted at the top of the fold as loud
as I could.'
Joseph objected at first; she was too much in earnest, however, to
suffer contradiction; and at last he placed his hat on his head,
and walked grumbling forth. Meantime, Catherine paced up and down
the floor, exclaiming - 'I wonder where he is - I wonder where he
can be! What did I say, Nelly? I've forgotten. Was he vexed at
my bad humour this afternoon? Dear! tell me what I've said to
grieve him? I do wish he'd come. I do wish he would!'
'What a noise for nothing!' I cried, though rather uneasy myself.
'What a trifle scares you! It's surely no great cause of alarm
that Heathcliff should take a moonlight saunter on the moors, or
even lie too sulky to speak to us in the hay-loft. I'll engage
he's lurking there. See if I don't ferret him out!'
I departed to renew my search; its result was disappointment, and
Joseph's quest ended in the same.
'Yon lad gets war und war!' observed he on re-entering. 'He's left
th' gate at t' full swing, and Miss's pony has trodden dahn two
rigs o' corn, and plottered through, raight o'er into t' meadow!
Hahsomdiver, t' maister 'ull play t' devil to-morn, and he'll do
weel. He's patience itsseln wi' sich careless, offald craters -
patience itsseln he is! Bud he'll not be soa allus - yah's see,
all on ye! Yah mun'n't drive him out of his heead for nowt!'
'Have you found Heathcliff, you ass?' interrupted Catherine. 'Have
you been looking for him, as I ordered?'
'I sud more likker look for th' horse,' he replied. 'It 'ud be to
more sense. Bud I can look for norther horse nur man of a neeght
loike this - as black as t' chimbley! und Heathcliff's noan t' chap
to coom at MY whistle - happen he'll be less hard o' hearing wi'
It WAS a very dark evening for summer: the clouds appeared
inclined to thunder, and I said we had better all sit down; the
approaching rain would be certain to bring him home without further
trouble. However, Catherine would hot be persuaded into
tranquillity. She kept wandering to and fro, from the gate to the
door, in a state of agitation which permitted no repose; and at
length took up a permanent situation on one side of the wall, near
the road: where, heedless of my expostulations and the growling
thunder, and the great drops that began to plash around her, she
remained, calling at intervals, and then listening, and then crying
outright. She beat Hareton, or any child, at a good passionate fit
of crying.
About midnight, while we still sat up, the storm came rattling over
the Heights in full fury. There was a violent wind, as well as
thunder, and either one or the other split a tree off at the corner
of the building: a huge bough fell across the roof, and knocked
down a portion of the east chimney-stack, sending a clatter of
stones and soot into the kitchen-fire. We thought a bolt had
fallen in the middle of us; and Joseph swung on to his knees,
beseeching the Lord to remember the patriarchs Noah and Lot, and,
as in former times, spare the righteous, though he smote the
ungodly. I felt some sentiment that it must be a judgment on us
also. The Jonah, in my mind, was Mr. Earnshaw; and I shook the
handle of his den that I might ascertain if he were yet living. He
replied audibly enough, in a fashion which made my companion
vociferate, more clamorously than before, that a wide distinction
might be drawn between saints like himself and sinners like his
master. But the uproar passed away in twenty minutes, leaving us
all unharmed; excepting Cathy, who got thoroughly drenched for her
obstinacy in refusing to take shelter, and standing bonnetless and
shawl-less to catch as much water as she could with her hair and
clothes. She came in and lay down on the settle, all soaked as she
was, turning her face to the back, and putting her hands before it.
'Well, Miss!' I exclaimed, touching her shoulder; 'you are not bent
on getting your death, are you? Do you know what o'clock it is?
Half-past twelve. Come, come to bed! there's no use waiting any
longer on that foolish boy: he'll be gone to Gimmerton, and he'll
stay there now. He guesses we shouldn't wait for him till this
late hour: at least, he guesses that only Mr. Hindley would be up;
and he'd rather avoid having the door opened by the master.'
'Nay, nay, he's noan at Gimmerton,' said Joseph. 'I's niver wonder
but he's at t' bothom of a bog-hoile. This visitation worn't for
nowt, and I wod hev' ye to look out, Miss - yah muh be t' next.
Thank Hivin for all! All warks togither for gooid to them as is
chozzen, and piked out fro' th' rubbidge! Yah knaw whet t'
Scripture ses.' And he began quoting several texts, referring us
to chapters and verses where we might find them.
I, having vainly begged the wilful girl to rise and remove her wet
things, left him preaching and her shivering, and betook myself to
bed with little Hareton, who slept as fast as if everyone had been
sleeping round him. I heard Joseph read on a while afterwards;
then I distinguished his slow step on the ladder, and then I
dropped asleep.
Coming down somewhat later than usual, I saw, by the sunbeams
piercing the chinks of the shutters, Miss Catherine still seated
near the fireplace. The house-door was ajar, too; light entered
from its unclosed windows; Hindley had come out, and stood on the
kitchen hearth, haggard and drowsy.
'What ails you, Cathy?' he was saying when I entered: 'you look as
dismal as a drowned whelp. Why are you so damp and pale, child?'
'I've been wet,' she answered reluctantly, 'and I'm cold, that's
'Oh, she is naughty!' I cried, perceiving the master to be
tolerably sober. 'She got steeped in the shower of yesterday
evening, and there she has sat the night through, and I couldn't
prevail on her to stir.'
Mr. Earnshaw stared at us in surprise. 'The night through,' he
repeated. 'What kept her up? not fear of the thunder, surely?
That was over hours since.'
Neither of us wished to mention Heathcliff's absence, as long as we
could conceal it; so I replied, I didn't know how she took it into
her head to sit up; and she said nothing. The morning was fresh
and cool; I threw back the lattice, and presently the room filled
with sweet scents from the garden; but Catherine called peevishly
to me, 'Ellen, shut the window. I'm starving!' And her teeth
chattered as she shrank closer to the almost extinguished embers.
'She's ill,' said Hindley, taking her wrist; 'I suppose that's the
reason she would not go to bed. Damn it! I don't want to be
troubled with more sickness here. What took you into the rain?'
'Running after t' lads, as usuald!' croaked Joseph, catching an
opportunity from our hesitation to thrust in his evil tongue. 'If
I war yah, maister, I'd just slam t' boards i' their faces all on
'em, gentle and simple! Never a day ut yah're off, but yon cat o'
Linton comes sneaking hither; and Miss Nelly, shoo's a fine lass!
shoo sits watching for ye i' t' kitchen; and as yah're in at one
door, he's out at t'other; and, then, wer grand lady goes acourting
of her side! It's bonny behaviour, lurking amang t'
fields, after twelve o' t' night, wi' that fahl, flaysome divil of
a gipsy, Heathcliff! They think I'M blind; but I'm noan: nowt ut
t' soart! - I seed young Linton boath coming and going, and I seed
YAH' (directing his discourse to me), 'yah gooid fur nowt,
slattenly witch! nip up and bolt into th' house, t' minute yah
heard t' maister's horse-fit clatter up t' road.'
'Silence, eavesdropper!' cried Catherine; 'none of your insolence
before me! Edgar Linton came yesterday by chance, Hindley; and it
was I who told him to be off: because I knew you would not like to
have met him as you were.'
'You lie, Cathy, no doubt,' answered her brother, 'and you are a
confounded simpleton! But never mind Linton at present: tell me,
were you not with Heathcliff last night? Speak the truth, now.
You need not he afraid of harming him: though I hate him as much
as ever, he did me a good turn a short time since that will make my
conscience tender of breaking his neck. To prevent it, I shall
send him about his business this very morning; and after he's gone,
I'd advise you all to look sharp: I shall only have the more
humour for you.'
'I never saw Heathcliff last night,' answered Catherine, beginning
to sob bitterly: 'and if you do turn him out of doors, I'll go
with him. But, perhaps, you'll never have an opportunity:
perhaps, he's gone.' Here she burst into uncontrollable grief, and
the remainder of her words were inarticulate.
Hindley lavished on her a torrent of scornful abuse, and bade her
get to her room immediately, or she shouldn't cry for nothing! I
obliged her to obey; and I shall never forget what a scene she
acted when we reached her chamber: it terrified me. I thought she
was going mad, and I begged Joseph to run for the doctor. It
proved the commencement of delirium: Mr. Kenneth, as soon as he
saw her, pronounced her dangerously ill; she had a fever. He bled
her, and he told me to let her live on whey and water-gruel, and
take care she did not throw herself downstairs or out of the
window; and then he left: for he had enough to do in the parish,
where two or three miles was the ordinary distance between cottage
and cottage.
Though I cannot say I made a gentle nurse, and Joseph and the
master were no better, and though our patient was as wearisome and
headstrong as a patient could be, she weathered it through. Old
Mrs. Linton paid us several visits, to be sure, and set things to
rights, and scolded and ordered us all; and when Catherine was
convalescent, she insisted on conveying her to Thrushcross Grange:
for which deliverance we were very grateful. But the poor dame had
reason to repent of her kindness: she and her husband both took
the fever, and died within a few days of each other.
Our young lady returned to us saucier and more passionate, and
haughtier than ever. Heathcliff had never been heard of since the
evening of the thunder-storm; and, one day, I had the misfortune,
when she had provoked me exceedingly, to lay the blame of his
disappearance on her: where indeed it belonged, as she well knew.
From that period, for several months, she ceased to hold any
communication with me, save in the relation of a mere servant.
Joseph fell under a ban also: he would speak his mind, and lecture
her all the same as if she were a little girl; and she esteemed
herself a woman, and our mistress, and thought that her recent
illness gave her a claim to be treated with consideration. Then
the doctor had said that she would not bear crossing much; she
ought to have her own way; and it was nothing less than murder in
her eyes for any one to presume to stand up and contradict her.
From Mr. Earnshaw and his companions she kept aloof; and tutored by
Kenneth, and serious threats of a fit that often attended her
rages, her brother allowed her whatever she pleased to demand, and
generally avoided aggravating her fiery temper. He was rather too
indulgent in humouring her caprices; not from affection, but from
pride: he wished earnestly to see her bring honour to the family
by an alliance with the Lintons, and as long as she let him alone
she might trample on us like slaves, for aught he cared! Edgar
Linton, as multitudes have been before and will be after him, was
infatuated: and believed himself the happiest man alive on the day
he led her to Gimmerton Chapel, three years subsequent to his
father's death.
Much against my inclination, I was persuaded to leave Wuthering
Heights and accompany her here, Little Hareton was nearly five
years old, and I had just begun to teach him his letters. We made
a sad parting; but Catherine's tears were more powerful than ours.
When I refused to go, and when she found her entreaties did not
move me, she went lamenting to her husband and brother. The former
offered me munificent wages; the latter ordered me to pack up: he
wanted no women in the house, he said, now that there was no
mistress; and as to Hareton, the curate should take him in hand,
by-and-by. And so I had but one choice left: to do as I was
ordered. I told the master he got rid of all decent people only to
run to ruin a little faster; I kissed Hareton, said good-by; and
since then he has been a stranger: and it's very queer to think
it, but I've no doubt he has completely forgotten all about Ellen
Dean, and that he was ever more than all the world to her and she
to him!
At this point of the housekeeper's story she chanced to glance
towards the time-piece over the chimney; and was in amazement on
seeing the minute-hand measure half-past one. She would not hear
of staying a second longer: in truth, I felt rather disposed to
defer the sequel of her narrative myself. And now that she is
vanished to her rest, and I have meditated for another hour or two,
I shall summon courage to go also, in spite of aching laziness of
head and limbs.
A CHARMING introduction to a hermit's life! Four weeks' torture,
tossing, and sickness! Oh, these bleak winds and bitter northern
skies, and impassable roads, and dilatory country surgeons! And
oh, this dearth of the human physiognomy! and, worse than all, the
terrible intimation of Kenneth that I need not expect to be out of
doors till spring!
Mr. Heathcliff has just honoured me with a call. About seven days
ago he sent me a brace of grouse - the last of the season.
Scoundrel! He is not altogether guiltless in this illness of mine;
and that I had a great mind to tell him. But, alas! how could I
offend a man who was charitable enough to sit at my bedside a good
hour, and talk on some other subject than pills and draughts,
blisters and leeches? This is quite an easy interval. I am too
weak to read; yet I feel as if I could enjoy something interesting.
Why not have up Mrs. Dean to finish her tale? I can recollect its
chief incidents, as far as she had gone. Yes: I remember her hero
had run off, and never been heard of for three years; and the
heroine was married. I'll ring: she'll be delighted to find me
capable of talking cheerfully. Mrs. Dean came.
'It wants twenty minutes, sir, to taking the medicine,' she
'Away, away with it!' I replied; 'I desire to have - '
'The doctor says you must drop the powders.'
'With all my heart! Don't interrupt me. Come and take your seat
here. Keep your fingers from that bitter phalanx of vials. Draw
your knitting out of your pocket - that will do - now continue the
history of Mr. Heathcliff, from where you left off, to the present
day. Did he finish his education on the Continent, and come back a
gentleman? or did he get a sizar's place at college, or escape to
America, and earn honours by drawing blood from his foster-country?
or make a fortune more promptly on the English highways?'
'He may have done a little in all these vocations, Mr. Lockwood;
but I couldn't give my word for any. I stated before that I didn't
know how he gained his money; neither am I aware of the means he
took to raise his mind from the savage ignorance into which it was
sunk: but, with your leave, I'll proceed in my own fashion, if you
think it will amuse and not weary you. Are you feeling better this
'That's good news.'
I got Miss Catherine and myself to Thrushcross Grange; and, to my
agreeable disappointment, she behaved infinitely better than I
dared to expect. She seemed almost over-fond of Mr. Linton; and
even to his sister she showed plenty of affection. They were both
very attentive to her comfort, certainly. It was not the thorn
bending to the honeysuckles, but the honeysuckles embracing the
thorn. There were no mutual concessions: one stood erect, and the
others yielded: and who can be ill-natured and bad-tempered when
they encounter neither opposition nor indifference? I observed
that Mr. Edgar had a deep-rooted fear of ruffling her humour. He
concealed it from her; but if ever he heard me answer sharply, or
saw any other servant grow cloudy at some imperious order of hers,
he would show his trouble by a frown of displeasure that never
darkened on his own account. He many a time spoke sternly to me
about my pertness; and averred that the stab of a knife could not
inflict a worse pang than he suffered at seeing his lady vexed.
Not to grieve a kind master, I learned to be less touchy; and, for
the space of half a year, the gunpowder lay as harmless as sand,
because no fire came near to explode it. Catherine had seasons of
gloom and silence now and then: they were respected with
sympathising silence by her husband, who ascribed them to an
alteration in her constitution, produced by her perilous illness;
as she was never subject to depression of spirits before. The
return of sunshine was welcomed by answering sunshine from him. I
believe I may assert that they were really in possession of deep
and growing happiness.
It ended. Well, we MUST be for ourselves in the long run; the mild
and generous are only more justly selfish than the domineering; and
it ended when circumstances caused each to feel that the one's
interest was not the chief consideration in the other's thoughts.
On a mellow evening in September, I was coming from the garden with
a heavy basket of apples which I had been gathering. It had got
dusk, and the moon looked over the high wall of the court, causing
undefined shadows to lurk in the corners of the numerous projecting
portions of the building. I set my burden on the house-steps by
the kitchen-door, and lingered to rest, and drew in a few more
breaths of the soft, sweet air; my eyes were on the moon, and my
back to the entrance, when I heard a voice behind me say, - 'Nelly,
is that you?'
It was a deep voice, and foreign in tone; yet there was something
in the manner of pronouncing my name which made it sound familiar.
I turned about to discover who spoke, fearfully; for the doors were
shut, and I had seen nobody on approaching the steps. Something
stirred in the porch; and, moving nearer, I distinguished a tall
man dressed in dark clothes, with dark face and hair. He leant
against the side, and held his fingers on the latch as if intending
to open for himself. 'Who can it be?' I thought. 'Mr. Earnshaw?
Oh, no! The voice has no resemblance to his.'
'I have waited here an hour,' he resumed, while I continued
staring; 'and the whole of that time all round has been as still as
death. I dared not enter. You do not know me? Look, I'm not a
A ray fell on his features; the cheeks were sallow, and half
covered with black whiskers; the brows lowering, the eyes deep-set
and singular. I remembered the eyes.
'What!' I cried, uncertain whether to regard him as a worldly
visitor, and I raised my hands in amazement. 'What! you come back?
Is it really you? Is it?'
'Yes, Heathcliff,' he replied, glancing from me up to the windows,
which reflected a score of glittering moons, but showed no lights
from within. 'Are they at home? where is she? Nelly, you are not
glad! you needn't be so disturbed. Is she here? Speak! I want to
have one word with her - your mistress. Go, and say some person
from Gimmerton desires to see her.'
'How will she take it?' I exclaimed. 'What will she do? The
surprise bewilders me - it will put her out of her head! And you
ARE Heathcliff! But altered! Nay, there's no comprehending it.
Have you been for a soldier?'
'Go and carry my message,' he interrupted, impatiently. 'I'm in
hell till you do!'
He lifted the latch, and I entered; but when I got to the parlour
where Mr. and Mrs. Linton were, I could not persuade myself to
proceed. At length I resolved on making an excuse to ask if they
would have the candles lighted, and I opened the door.
They sat together in a window whose lattice lay back against the
wall, and displayed, beyond the garden trees, and the wild green
park, the valley of Gimmerton, with a long line of mist winding
nearly to its top (for very soon after you pass the chapel, as you
may have noticed, the sough that runs from the marshes joins a beck
which follows the bend of the glen). Wuthering Heights rose above
this silvery vapour; but our old house was invisible; it rather
dips down on the other side. Both the room and its occupants, and
the scene they gazed on, looked wondrously peaceful. I shrank
reluctantly from performing my errand; and was actually going away
leaving it unsaid, after having put my question about the candles,
when a sense of my folly compelled me to return, and mutter, 'A
person from Gimmerton wishes to see you ma'am.'
'What does he want?' asked Mrs. Linton.
'I did not question him,' I answered.
'Well, close the curtains, Nelly,' she said; 'and bring up tea.
I'll be back again directly.'
She quitted the apartment; Mr. Edgar inquired, carelessly, who it
'Some one mistress does not expect,' I replied. 'That Heathcliff -
you recollect him, sir - who used to live at Mr. Earnshaw's.'
'What! the gipsy - the ploughboy?' he cried. 'Why did you not say
so to Catherine?'
'Hush! you must not call him by those names, master,' I said.
'She'd be sadly grieved to hear you. She was nearly heartbroken
when he ran off. I guess his return will make a jubilee to her.'
Mr. Linton walked to a window on the other side of the room that
overlooked the court. He unfastened it, and leant out. I suppose
they were below, for he exclaimed quickly: 'Don't stand there,
love! Bring the person in, if it be anyone particular.' Ere long,
I heard the click of the latch, and Catherine flew up-stairs,
breathless and wild; too excited to show gladness: indeed, by her
face, you would rather have surmised an awful calamity.
'Oh, Edgar, Edgar!' she panted, flinging her arms round his neck.
'Oh, Edgar darling! Heathcliff's come back - he is!' And she
tightened her embrace to a squeeze.
'Well, well,' cried her husband, crossly, 'don't strangle me for
that! He never struck me as such a marvellous treasure. There is
no need to be frantic!'
'I know you didn't like him,' she answered, repressing a little the
intensity of her delight. 'Yet, for my sake, you must be friends
now. Shall I tell him to come up?'
'Here,' he said, 'into the parlour?'
'Where else?' she asked.
He looked vexed, and suggested the kitchen as a more suitable place
for him. Mrs. Linton eyed him with a droll expression - half
angry, half laughing at his fastidiousness.
'No,' she added, after a while; 'I cannot sit in the kitchen. Set
two tables here, Ellen: one for your master and Miss Isabella,
being gentry; the other for Heathcliff and myself, being of the
lower orders. Will that please you, dear? Or must I have a fire
lighted elsewhere? If so, give directions. I'll run down and
secure my guest. I'm afraid the joy is too great to be real!'
She was about to dart off again; but Edgar arrested her.
'YOU bid him step up,' he said, addressing me; 'and, Catherine, try
to be glad, without being absurd. The whole household need not
witness the sight of your welcoming a runaway servant as a
I descended, and found Heathcliff waiting under the porch,
evidently anticipating an invitation to enter. He followed my
guidance without waste of words, and I ushered him into the
presence of the master and mistress, whose flushed cheeks betrayed
signs of warm talking. But the lady's glowed with another feeling
when her friend appeared at the door: she sprang forward, took
both his hands, and led him to Linton; and then she seized Linton's
reluctant fingers and crushed them into his. Now, fully revealed
by the fire and candlelight, I was amazed, more than ever, to
behold the transformation of Heathcliff. He had grown a tall,
athletic, well-formed man; beside whom my master seemed quite
slender and youth-like. His upright carriage suggested the idea of
his having been in the army. His countenance was much older in
expression and decision of feature than Mr. Linton's; it looked
intelligent, and retained no marks of former degradation. A halfcivilised
ferocity lurked yet in the depressed brows and eyes full
of black fire, but it was subdued; and his manner was even
dignified: quite divested of roughness, though stern for grace.
My master's surprise equalled or exceeded mine: he remained for a
minute at a loss how to address the ploughboy, as he had called
him. Heathcliff dropped his slight hand, and stood looking at him
coolly till he chose to speak.
'Sit down, sir,' he said, at length. 'Mrs. Linton, recalling old
times, would have me give you a cordial reception; and, of course,
I am gratified when anything occurs to please her.'
'And I also,' answered Heathcliff, 'especially if it be anything in
which I have a part. I shall stay an hour or two willingly.'
He took a seat opposite Catherine, who kept her gaze fixed on him
as if she feared he would vanish were she to remove it. He did not
raise his to her often: a quick glance now and then sufficed; but
it flashed back, each time more confidently, the undisguised
delight he drank from hers. They were too much absorbed in their
mutual joy to suffer embarrassment. Not so Mr. Edgar: he grew
pale with pure annoyance: a feeling that reached its climax when
his lady rose, and stepping across the rug, seized Heathcliff's
hands again, and laughed like one beside herself.
'I shall think it a dream to-morrow!' she cried. 'I shall not be
able to believe that I have seen, and touched, and spoken to you
once more. And yet, cruel Heathcliff! you don't deserve this
welcome. To be absent and silent for three years, and never to
think of me!'
'A little more than you have thought of me,' he murmured. 'I heard
of your marriage, Cathy, not long since; and, while waiting in the
yard below, I meditated this plan - just to have one glimpse of
your face, a stare of surprise, perhaps, and pretended pleasure;
afterwards settle my score with Hindley; and then prevent the law
by doing execution on myself. Your welcome has put these ideas out
of my mind; but beware of meeting me with another aspect next time!
Nay, you'll not drive me off again. You were really sorry for me,
were you? Well, there was cause. I've fought through a bitter
life since I last heard your voice; and you must forgive me, for I
struggled only for you!'
'Catherine, unless we are to have cold tea, please to come to the
table,' interrupted Linton, striving to preserve his ordinary tone,
and a due measure of politeness. 'Mr. Heathcliff will have a long
walk, wherever he may lodge to-night; and I'm thirsty.'
She took her post before the urn; and Miss Isabella came, summoned
by the bell; then, having handed their chairs forward, I left the
room. The meal hardly endured ten minutes. Catherine's cup was
never filled: she could neither eat nor drink. Edgar had made a
slop in his saucer, and scarcely swallowed a mouthful. Their guest
did not protract his stay that evening above an hour longer. I
asked, as he departed, if he went to Gimmerton?
'No, to Wuthering Heights,' he answered: 'Mr. Earnshaw invited me,
when I called this morning.'
Mr. Earnshaw invited HIM! and HE called on Mr. Earnshaw! I
pondered this sentence painfully, after he was gone. Is he turning
out a bit of a hypocrite, and coming into the country to work
mischief under a cloak? I mused: I had a presentiment in the
bottom of my heart that he had better have remained away.
About the middle of the night, I was wakened from my first nap by
Mrs. Linton gliding into my chamber, taking a seat on my bedside,
and pulling me by the hair to rouse me.
'I cannot rest, Ellen,' she said, by way of apology. 'And I want
some living creature to keep me company in my happiness! Edgar is
sulky, because I'm glad of a thing that does not interest him: he
refuses to open his mouth, except to utter pettish, silly speeches;
and he affirmed I was cruel and selfish for wishing to talk when he
was so sick and sleepy. He always contrives to be sick at the
least cross! I gave a few sentences of commendation to Heathcliff,
and he, either for a headache or a pang of envy, began to cry: so
I got up and left him.'
'What use is it praising Heathcliff to him?' I answered. 'As lads
they had an aversion to each other, and Heathcliff would hate just
as much to hear him praised: it's human nature. Let Mr. Linton
alone about him, unless you would like an open quarrel between
'But does it not show great weakness?' pursued she. 'I'm not
envious: I never feel hurt at the brightness of Isabella's yellow
hair and the whiteness of her skin, at her dainty elegance, and the
fondness all the family exhibit for her. Even you, Nelly, if we
have a dispute sometimes, you back Isabella at once; and I yield
like a foolish mother: I call her a darling, and flatter her into
a good temper. It pleases her brother to see us cordial, and that
pleases me. But they are very much alike: they are spoiled
children, and fancy the world was made for their accommodation; and
though I humour both, I think a smart chastisement might improve
them all the same.'
'You're mistaken, Mrs. Linton,' said I. 'They humour you: I know
what there would be to do if they did not. You can well afford to
indulge their passing whims as long as their business is to
anticipate all your desires. You may, however, fall out, at last,
over something of equal consequence to both sides; and then those
you term weak are very capable of being as obstinate as you.'
'And then we shall fight to the death, sha'n't we, Nelly?' she
returned, laughing. 'No! I tell you, I have such faith in Linton's
love, that I believe I might kill him, and he wouldn't wish to
I advised her to value him the more for his affection.
'I do,' she answered, 'but he needn't resort to whining for
trifles. It is childish and, instead of melting into tears because
I said that Heathcliff was now worthy of anyone's regard, and it
would honour the first gentleman in the country to be his friend,
he ought to have said it for me, and been delighted from sympathy.
He must get accustomed to him, and he may as well like him:
considering how Heathcliff has reason to object to him, I'm sure he
behaved excellently!'
'What do you think of his going to Wuthering Heights?' I inquired.
'He is reformed in every respect, apparently: quite a Christian:
offering the right hand of fellowship to his enemies all around!'
'He explained it,' she replied. 'I wonder as much as you. He said
he called to gather information concerning me from you, supposing
you resided there still; and Joseph told Hindley, who came out and
fell to questioning him of what he had been doing, and how he had
been living; and finally, desired him to walk in. There were some
persons sitting at cards; Heathcliff joined them; my brother lost
some money to him, and, finding him plentifully supplied, he
requested that he would come again in the evening: to which he
consented. Hindley is too reckless to select his acquaintance
prudently: he doesn't trouble himself to reflect on the causes he
might have for mistrusting one whom he has basely injured. But
Heathcliff affirms his principal reason for resuming a connection
with his ancient persecutor is a wish to instal himself in quarters
at walking distance from the Grange, and an attachment to the house
where we lived together; and likewise a hope that I shall have more
opportunities of seeing him there than I could have if he settled
in Gimmerton. He means to offer liberal payment for permission to
lodge at the Heights; and doubtless my brother's covetousness will
prompt him to accept the terms: he was always greedy; though what
he grasps with one hand he flings away with the other.'
'It's a nice place for a young man to fix his dwelling in!' said I.
'Have you no fear of the consequences, Mrs. Linton?'
'None for my friend,' she replied: 'his strong head will keep him
from danger; a little for Hindley: but he can't be made morally
worse than he is; and I stand between him and bodily harm. The
event of this evening has reconciled me to God and humanity! I had
risen in angry rebellion against Providence. Oh, I've endured
very, very bitter misery, Nelly! If that creature knew how bitter,
he'd be ashamed to cloud its removal with idle petulance. It was
kindness for him which induced me to bear it alone: had I
expressed the agony I frequently felt, he would have been taught to
long for its alleviation as ardently as I. However, it's over, and
I'll take no revenge on his folly; I can afford to suffer anything
hereafter! Should the meanest thing alive slap me on the cheek,
I'd not only turn the other, but I'd ask pardon for provoking it;
and, as a proof, I'll go make my peace with Edgar instantly. Goodnight!
I'm an angel!'
In this self-complacent conviction she departed; and the success of
her fulfilled resolution was obvious on the morrow: Mr. Linton had
not only abjured his peevishness (though his spirits seemed still
subdued by Catherine's exuberance of vivacity), but he ventured no
objection to her taking Isabella with her to Wuthering Heights in
the afternoon; and she rewarded him with such a summer of sweetness
and affection in return as made the house a paradise for several
days; both master and servants profiting from the perpetual
Heathcliff - Mr. Heathcliff I should say in future - used the
liberty of visiting at Thrushcross Grange cautiously, at first: he
seemed estimating how far its owner would bear his intrusion.
Catherine, also, deemed it judicious to moderate her expressions of
pleasure in receiving him; and he gradually established his right
to be expected. He retained a great deal of the reserve for which
his boyhood was remarkable; and that served to repress all
startling demonstrations of feeling. My master's uneasiness
experienced a lull, and further circumstances diverted it into
another channel for a space.
His new source of trouble sprang from the not anticipated
misfortune of Isabella Linton evincing a sudden and irresistible
attraction towards the tolerated guest. She was at that time a
charming young lady of eighteen; infantile in manners, though
possessed of keen wit, keen feelings, and a keen temper, too, if
irritated. Her brother, who loved her tenderly, was appalled at
this fantastic preference. Leaving aside the degradation of an
alliance with a nameless man, and the possible fact that his
property, in default of heirs male, might pass into such a one's
power, he had sense to comprehend Heathcliff's disposition: to
know that, though his exterior was altered, his mind was
unchangeable and unchanged. And he dreaded that mind: it revolted
him: he shrank forebodingly from the idea of committing Isabella
to its keeping. He would have recoiled still more had he been
aware that her attachment rose unsolicited, and was bestowed where
it awakened no reciprocation of sentiment; for the minute he
discovered its existence he laid the blame on Heathcliff's
deliberate designing.
We had all remarked, during some time, that Miss Linton fretted and
pined over something. She grew cross and wearisome; snapping at
and teasing Catherine continually, at the imminent risk of
exhausting her limited patience. We excused her, to a certain
extent, on the plea of ill-health: she was dwindling and fading
before our eyes. But one day, when she had been peculiarly
wayward, rejecting her breakfast, complaining that the servants did
not do what she told them; that the mistress would allow her to be
nothing in the house, and Edgar neglected her; that she had caught
a cold with the doors being left open, and we let the parlour fire
go out on purpose to vex her, with a hundred yet more frivolous
accusations, Mrs. Linton peremptorily insisted that she should get
to bed; and, having scolded her heartily, threatened to send for
the doctor. Mention of Kenneth caused her to exclaim, instantly,
that her health was perfect, and it was only Catherine's harshness
which made her unhappy.
'How can you say I am harsh, you naughty fondling?' cried the
mistress, amazed at the unreasonable assertion. 'You are surely
losing your reason. When have I been hash, tell me?'
'Yesterday,' sobbed Isabella, 'and now!'
'Yesterday!' said her sister-in-law. 'On what occasion?'
'In our walk along the moor: you told me to ramble where I
pleased, while you sauntered on with Mr. Heathcliff?'
'And that's your notion of harshness?' said Catherine, laughing.
'It was no hint that your company was superfluous? We didn't care
whether you kept with us or not; I merely thought Heathcliff's talk
would have nothing entertaining for your ears.'
'Oh, no,' wept the young lady; 'you wished me away, because you
knew I liked to be there!'
'Is she sane?' asked Mrs. Linton, appealing to me. 'I'll repeat
our conversation, word for word, Isabella; and you point out any
charm it could have had for you.'
'I don't mind the conversation,' she answered: 'I wanted to be
with - '
"Well?' said Catherine, perceiving her hesitate to complete the
'With him: and I won't be always sent off!' she continued,
kindling up. 'You are a dog in the manger, Cathy, and desire no
one to be loved but yourself!'
'You are an impertinent little monkey!' exclaimed Mrs. Linton, in
surprise. 'But I'll not believe this idiotcy! It is impossible
that you can covet the admiration of Heathcliff - that you consider
him an agreeable person! I hope I have misunderstood you,
'No, you have not,' said the infatuated girl. 'I love him more
than ever you loved Edgar, and he might love me, if you would let
'I wouldn't be you for a kingdom, then!' Catherine declared,
emphatically: and she seemed to speak sincerely. 'Nelly, help me
to convince her of her madness. Tell her what Heathcliff is: an
unreclaimed creature, without refinement, without cultivation; an
arid wilderness of furze and whinstone. I'd as soon put that
little canary into the park on a winter's day, as recommend you to
bestow your heart on him! It is deplorable ignorance of his
character, child, and nothing else, which makes that dream enter
your head. Pray, don't imagine that he conceals depths of
benevolence and affection beneath a stern exterior! He's not a
rough diamond - a pearl-containing oyster of a rustic: he's a
fierce, pitiless, wolfish man. I never say to him, "Let this or
that enemy alone, because it would be ungenerous or cruel to harm
them;" I say, "Let them alone, because I should hate them to be
wronged:" and he'd crush you like a sparrow's egg, Isabella, if he
found you a troublesome charge. I know he couldn't love a Linton;
and yet he'd be quite capable of marrying your fortune and
expectations: avarice is growing with him a besetting sin.
There's my picture: and I'm his friend - so much so, that had he
thought seriously to catch you, I should, perhaps, have held my
tongue, and let you fall into his trap.'
Miss Linton regarded her sister-in-law with indignation.
'For shame! for shame!' she repeated, angrily. 'You are worse than
twenty foes, you poisonous friend!'
'Ah! you won't believe me, then?' said Catherine. 'You think I
speak from wicked selfishness?'
'I'm certain you do,' retorted Isabella; 'and I shudder at you!'
'Good!' cried the other. 'Try for yourself, if that be your
spirit: I have done, and yield the argument to your saucy
insolence.' -
'And I must suffer for her egotism!' she sobbed, as Mrs. Linton
left the room. 'All, all is against me: she has blighted my
single consolation. But she uttered falsehoods, didn't she? Mr.
Heathcliff is not a fiend: he has an honourable soul, and a true
one, or how could he remember her?'
'Banish him from your thoughts, Miss,' I said. 'He's a bird of bad
omen: no mate for you. Mrs. Linton spoke strongly, and yet I
can't contradict her. She is better acquainted with his heart than
I, or any one besides; and she never would represent him as worse
than he is. Honest people don't hide their deeds. How has he been
living? how has he got rich? why is he staying at Wuthering
Heights, the house of a man whom he abhors? They say Mr. Earnshaw
is worse and worse since he came. They sit up all night together
continually, and Hindley has been borrowing money on his land, and
does nothing but play and drink: I heard only a week ago - it was
Joseph who told me - I met him at Gimmerton: "Nelly," he said,
"we's hae a crowner's 'quest enow, at ahr folks'. One on 'em 's
a'most getten his finger cut off wi' hauding t' other fro' stickin'
hisseln loike a cawlf. That's maister, yeah knaw, 'at 's soa up o'
going tuh t' grand 'sizes. He's noan feared o' t' bench o' judges,
norther Paul, nur Peter, nur John, nur Matthew, nor noan on 'em,
not he! He fair likes - he langs to set his brazened face agean
'em! And yon bonny lad Heathcliff, yah mind, he's a rare 'un. He
can girn a laugh as well 's onybody at a raight divil's jest. Does
he niver say nowt of his fine living amang us, when he goes to t'
Grange? This is t' way on 't:- up at sun-down: dice, brandy,
cloised shutters, und can'le-light till next day at noon: then,
t'fooil gangs banning und raving to his cham'er, makking dacent
fowks dig thur fingers i' thur lugs fur varry shame; un' the knave,
why he can caint his brass, un' ate, un' sleep, un' off to his
neighbour's to gossip wi' t' wife. I' course, he tells Dame
Catherine how her fathur's goold runs into his pocket, and her
fathur's son gallops down t' broad road, while he flees afore to
oppen t' pikes!" Now, Miss Linton, Joseph is an old rascal, but no
liar; and, if his account of Heathcliff's conduct be true, you
would never think of desiring such a husband, would you?'
'You are leagued with the rest, Ellen!' she replied. 'I'll not
listen to your slanders. What malevolence you must have to wish to
convince me that there is no happiness in the world!'
Whether she would have got over this fancy if left to herself, or
persevered in nursing it perpetually, I cannot say: she had little
time to reflect. The day after, there was a justice-meeting at the
next town; my master was obliged to attend; and Mr. Heathcliff,
aware of his absence, called rather earlier than usual. Catherine
and Isabella were sitting in the library, on hostile terms, but
silent: the latter alarmed at her recent indiscretion, and the
disclosure she had made of her secret feelings in a transient fit
of passion; the former, on mature consideration, really offended
with her companion; and, if she laughed again at her pertness,
inclined to make it no laughing matter to her. She did laugh as
she saw Heathcliff pass the window. I was sweeping the hearth, and
I noticed a mischievous smile on her lips. Isabella, absorbed in
her meditations, or a book, remained till the door opened; and it
was too late to attempt an escape, which she would gladly have done
had it been practicable.
'Come in, that's right!' exclaimed the mistress, gaily, pulling a
chair to the fire. 'Here are two people sadly in need of a third
to thaw the ice between them; and you are the very one we should
both of us choose. Heathcliff, I'm proud to show you, at last,
somebody that dotes on you more than myself. I expect you to feel
flattered. Nay, it's not Nelly; don't look at her! My poor little
sister-in-law is breaking her heart by mere contemplation of your
physical and moral beauty. It lies in your own power to be Edgar's
brother! No, no, Isabella, you sha'n't run off,' she continued,
arresting, with feigned playfulness, the confounded girl, who had
risen indignantly. 'We were quarrelling like cats about you,
Heathcliff; and I was fairly beaten in protestations of devotion
and admiration: and, moreover, I was informed that if I would but
have the manners to stand aside, my rival, as she will have herself
to be, would shoot a shaft into your soul that would fix you for
ever, and send my image into eternal oblivion!'
'Catherine!' said Isabella, calling up her dignity, and disdaining
to struggle from the tight grasp that held her, 'I'd thank you to
adhere to the truth and not slander me, even in joke! Mr.
Heathcliff, be kind enough to bid this friend of yours release me:
she forgets that you and I are not intimate acquaintances; and what
amuses her is painful to me beyond expression.'
As the guest answered nothing, but took his seat, and looked
thoroughly indifferent what sentiments she cherished concerning
him, she turned and whispered an earnest appeal for liberty to her
'By no means!' cried Mrs. Linton in answer. 'I won't be named a
dog in the manger again. You SHALL stay: now then! Heathcliff,
why don't you evince satisfaction at my pleasant news? Isabella
swears that the love Edgar has for me is nothing to that she
entertains for you. I'm sure she made some speech of the kind; did
she not, Ellen? And she has fasted ever since the day before
yesterday's walk, from sorrow and rage that I despatched her out of
your society under the idea of its being unacceptable.'
'I think you belie her,' said Heathcliff, twisting his chair to
face them. 'She wishes to be out of my society now, at any rate!'
And he stared hard at the object of discourse, as one might do at a
strange repulsive animal: a centipede from the Indies, for
instance, which curiosity leads one to examine in spite of the
aversion it raises. The poor thing couldn't bear that; she grew
white and red in rapid succession, and, while tears beaded her
lashes, bent the strength of her small fingers to loosen the firm
clutch of Catherine; and perceiving that as fast as she raised one
finger off her arm another closed down, and she could not remove
the whole together, she began to make use of her nails; and their
sharpness presently ornamented the detainer's with crescents of
'There's a tigress!' exclaimed Mrs. Linton, setting her free, and
shaking her hand with pain. 'Begone, for God's sake, and hide your
vixen face! How foolish to reveal those talons to him. Can't you
fancy the conclusions he'll draw? Look, Heathcliff! they are
instruments that will do execution - you must beware of your eyes.'
'I'd wrench them off her fingers, if they ever menaced me,' he
answered, brutally, when the door had closed after her. 'But what
did you mean by teasing the creature in that manner, Cathy? You
were not speaking the truth, were you?'
'I assure you I was,' she returned. 'She has been dying for your
sake several weeks, and raving about you this morning, and pouring
forth a deluge of abuse, because I represented your failings in a
plain light, for the purpose of mitigating her adoration. But
don't notice it further: I wished to punish her sauciness, that's
all. I like her too well, my dear Heathcliff, to let you
absolutely seize and devour her up.'
'And I like her too ill to attempt it,' said he, 'except in a very
ghoulish fashion. You'd hear of odd things if I lived alone with
that mawkish, waxen face: the most ordinary would be painting on
its white the colours of the rainbow, and turning the blue eyes
black, every day or two: they detestably resemble Linton's.'
'Delectably!' observed Catherine. 'They are dove's eyes -
'She's her brother's heir, is she not?' he asked, after a brief
'I should be sorry to think so,' returned his companion. 'Half a
dozen nephews shall erase her title, please heaven! Abstract your
mind from the subject at present: you are too prone to covet your
neighbour's goods; remember THIS neighbour's goods are mine.'
'If they were MINE, they would be none the less that,' said
Heathcliff; 'but though Isabella Linton may be silly, she is
scarcely mad; and, in short, we'll dismiss the matter, as you
From their tongues they did dismiss it; and Catherine, probably,
from her thoughts. The other, I felt certain, recalled it often in
the course of the evening. I saw him smile to himself - grin
rather - and lapse into ominous musing whenever Mrs. Linton had
occasion to be absent from the apartment.
I determined to watch his movements. My heart invariably cleaved
to the master's, in preference to Catherine's side: with reason I
imagined, for he was kind, and trustful, and honourable; and she -
she could not be called OPPOSITE, yet she seemed to allow herself
such wide latitude, that I had little faith in her principles, and
still less sympathy for her feelings. I wanted something to happen
which might have the effect of freeing both Wuthering Heights and
the Grange of Mr. Heathcliff quietly; leaving us as we had been
prior to his advent. His visits were a continual nightmare to me;
and, I suspected, to my master also. His abode at the Heights was
an oppression past explaining. I felt that God had forsaken the
stray sheep there to its own wicked wanderings, and an evil beast
prowled between it and the fold, waiting his time to spring and
SOMETIMES, while meditating on these things in solitude, I've got
up in a sudden terror, and put on my bonnet to go see how all was
at the farm. I've persuaded my conscience that it was a duty to
warn him how people talked regarding his ways; and then I've
recollected his confirmed bad habits, and, hopeless of benefiting
him, have flinched from re-entering the dismal house, doubting if I
could bear to be taken at my word.
One time I passed the old gate, going out of my way, on a journey
to Gimmerton. It was about the period that my narrative has
reached: a bright frosty afternoon; the ground bare, and the road
hard and dry. I came to a stone where the highway branches off on
to the moor at your left hand; a rough sand-pillar, with the
letters W. H. cut on its north side, on the east, G., and on the
south-west, T. G. It serves as a guide-post to the Grange, the
Heights, and village. The sun shone yellow on its grey head,
reminding me of summer; and I cannot say why, but all at once a
gush of child's sensations flowed into my heart. Hindley and I
held it a favourite spot twenty years before. I gazed long at the
weather-worn block; and, stooping down, perceived a hole near the
bottom still full of snail-shells and pebbles, which we were fond
of storing there with more perishable things; and, as fresh as
reality, it appeared that I beheld my early playmate seated on the
withered turf: his dark, square head bent forward, and his little
hand scooping out the earth with a piece of slate. 'Poor Hindley!'
I exclaimed, involuntarily. I started: my bodily eye was cheated
into a momentary belief that the child lifted its face and stared
straight into mine! It vanished in a twinkling; but immediately I
felt an irresistible yearning to be at the Heights. Superstition
urged me to comply with this impulse: supposing he should be dead!
I thought - or should die soon! - supposing it were a sign of
death! The nearer I got to the house the more agitated I grew; and
on catching sight of it I trembled in every limb. The apparition
had outstripped me: it stood looking through the gate. That was
my first idea on observing an elf-locked, brown-eyed boy setting
his ruddy countenance against the bars. Further reflection
suggested this must be Hareton, MY Hareton, not altered greatly
since I left him, ten months since.
'God bless thee, darling!' I cried, forgetting instantaneously my
foolish fears. 'Hareton, it's Nelly! Nelly, thy nurse.'
He retreated out of arm's length, and picked up a large flint.
'I am come to see thy father, Hareton,' I added, guessing from the
action that Nelly, if she lived in his memory at all, was not
recognised as one with me.
He raised his missile to hurl it; I commenced a soothing speech,
but could not stay his hand: the stone struck my bonnet; and then
ensued, from the stammering lips of the little fellow, a string of
curses, which, whether he comprehended them or not, were delivered
with practised emphasis, and distorted his baby features into a
shocking expression of malignity. You may be certain this grieved
more than angered me. Fit to cry, I took an orange from my pocket,
and offered it to propitiate him. He hesitated, and then snatched
it from my hold; as if he fancied I only intended to tempt and
disappoint him. I showed another, keeping it out of his reach.
'Who has taught you those fine words, my bairn?' I inquired. 'The
'Damn the curate, and thee! Gie me that,' he replied.
'Tell us where you got your lessons, and you shall have it,' said
I. 'Who's your master?'
'Devil daddy,' was his answer.
'And what do you learn from daddy?' I continued.
He jumped at the fruit; I raised it higher. 'What does he teach
you?' I asked.
'Naught,' said he, 'but to keep out of his gait. Daddy cannot bide
me, because I swear at him.'
'Ah! and the devil teaches you to swear at daddy?' I observed.
'Ay - nay,' he drawled.
'Who, then?'
'I asked if he liked Mr. Heathcliff.'
'Ay!' he answered again.
Desiring to have his reasons for liking him, I could only gather
the sentences - 'I known't: he pays dad back what he gies to me -
he curses daddy for cursing me. He says I mun do as I will.'
'And the curate does not teach you to read and write, then?' I
'No, I was told the curate should have his - teeth dashed down his
- throat, if he stepped over the threshold - Heathcliff had
promised that!'
I put the orange in his hand, and bade him tell his father that a
woman called Nelly Dean was waiting to speak with him, by the
garden gate. He went up the walk, and entered the house; but,
instead of Hindley, Heathcliff appeared on the door-stones; and I
turned directly and ran down the road as hard as ever I could race,
making no halt till I gained the guide-post, and feeling as scared
as if I had raised a goblin. This is not much connected with Miss
Isabella's affair: except that it urged me to resolve further on
mounting vigilant guard, and doing my utmost to cheek the spread of
such bad influence at the Grange: even though I should wake a
domestic storm, by thwarting Mrs. Linton's pleasure.
The next time Heathcliff came my young lady chanced to be feeding
some pigeons in the court. She had never spoken a word to her
sister-in-law for three days; but she had likewise dropped her
fretful complaining, and we found it a great comfort. Heathcliff
had not the habit of bestowing a single unnecessary civility on
Miss Linton, I knew. Now, as soon as he beheld her, his first
precaution was to take a sweeping survey of the house-front. I was
standing by the kitchen-window, but I drew out of sight. He then
stepped across the pavement to her, and said something: she seemed
embarrassed, and desirous of getting away; to prevent it, he laid
his hand on her arm. She averted her face: he apparently put some
question which she had no mind to answer. There was another rapid
glance at the house, and supposing himself unseen, the scoundrel
had the impudence to embrace her.
'Judas! Traitor!' I ejaculated. 'You are a hypocrite, too, are
you? A deliberate deceiver.'
'Who is, Nelly?' said Catherine's voice at my elbow: I had been
over-intent on watching the pair outside to mark her entrance.
'Your worthless friend!' I answered, warmly: 'the sneaking rascal
yonder. Ah, he has caught a glimpse of us - he is coming in! I
wonder will he have the heart to find a plausible excuse for making
love to Miss, when he told you he hated her?'
Mrs. Linton saw Isabella tear herself free, and run into the
garden; and a minute after, Heathcliff opened the door. I couldn't
withhold giving some loose to my indignation; but Catherine angrily
insisted on silence, and threatened to order me out of the kitchen,
if I dared to be so presumptuous as to put in my insolent tongue.
'To hear you, people might think you were the mistress!' she cried.
'You want setting down in your right place! Heathcliff, what are
you about, raising this stir? I said you must let Isabella alone!
- I beg you will, unless you are tired of being received here, and
wish Linton to draw the bolts against you!'
'God forbid that he should try!' answered the black villain. I
detested him just then. 'God keep him meek and patient! Every day
I grow madder after sending him to heaven!'
'Hush!' said Catherine, shutting the inner door! 'Don't vex me.
Why have you disregarded my request? Did she come across you on
'What is it to you?' he growled. 'I have a right to kiss her, if
she chooses; and you have no right to object. I am not YOUR
husband: YOU needn't be jealous of me!'
'I'm not jealous of you,' replied the mistress; 'I'm jealous for
you. Clear your face: you sha'n't scowl at me! If you like
Isabella, you shall marry her. But do you like her? Tell the
truth, Heathcliff! There, you won't answer. I'm certain you
'And would Mr. Linton approve of his sister marrying that man?' I
'Mr. Linton should approve,' returned my lady, decisively.
'He might spare himself the trouble,' said Heathcliff: 'I could do
as well without his approbation. And as to you, Catherine, I have
a mind to speak a few words now, while we are at it. I want you to
be aware that I KNOW you have treated me infernally - infernally!
Do you hear? And if you flatter yourself that I don't perceive it,
you are a fool; and if you think I can be consoled by sweet words,
you are an idiot: and if you fancy I'll suffer unrevenged, I'll
convince you of the contrary, in a very little while! Meantime,
thank you for telling me your sister-in-law's secret: I swear I'll
make the most of it. And stand you aside!'
'What new phase of his character is this?' exclaimed Mrs. Linton,
in amazement. 'I've treated you infernally - and you'll take your
revenge! How will you take it, ungrateful brute? How have I
treated you infernally?'
'I seek no revenge on you,' replied Heathcliff, less vehemently.
'That's not the plan. The tyrant grinds down his slaves and they
don't turn against him; they crush those beneath them. You are
welcome to torture me to death for your amusement, only allow me to
amuse myself a little in the same style, and refrain from insult as
much as you are able. Having levelled my palace, don't erect a
hovel and complacently admire your own charity in giving me that
for a home. If I imagined you really wished me to marry Isabel,
I'd cut my throat!'
'Oh, the evil is that I am NOT jealous, is it?' cried Catherine.
'Well, I won't repeat my offer of a wife: it is as bad as offering
Satan a lost soul. Your bliss lies, like his, in inflicting
misery. You prove it. Edgar is restored from the ill-temper he
gave way to at your coming; I begin to be secure and tranquil; and
you, restless to know us at peace, appear resolved on exciting a
quarrel. Quarrel with Edgar, if you please, Heathcliff, and
deceive his sister: you'll hit on exactly the most efficient
method of revenging yourself on me.'
The conversation ceased. Mrs. Linton sat down by the fire, flushed
and gloomy. The spirit which served her was growing intractable:
she could neither lay nor control it. He stood on the hearth with
folded arms, brooding on his evil thoughts; and in this position I
left them to seek the master, who was wondering what kept Catherine
below so long.
'Ellen,' said he, when I entered, 'have you seen your mistress?'
'Yes; she's in the kitchen, sir,' I answered. 'She's sadly put out
by Mr. Heathcliff's behaviour: and, indeed, I do think it's time
to arrange his visits on another footing. There's harm in being
too soft, and now it's come to this - .' And I related the scene
in the court, and, as near as I dared, the whole subsequent
dispute. I fancied it could not be very prejudicial to Mrs.
Linton; unless she made it so afterwards, by assuming the defensive
for her guest. Edgar Linton had difficulty in hearing me to the
close. His first words revealed that he did not clear his wife of
'This is insufferable!' he exclaimed. 'It is disgraceful that she
should own him for a friend, and force his company on me! Call me
two men out of the hall, Ellen. Catherine shall linger no longer
to argue with the low ruffian - I have humoured her enough.'
He descended, and bidding the servants wait in the passage, went,
followed by me, to the kitchen. Its occupants had recommenced
their angry discussion: Mrs. Linton, at least, was scolding with
renewed vigour; Heathcliff had moved to the window, and hung his
head, somewhat cowed by her violent rating apparently. He saw the
master first, and made a hasty motion that she should be silent;
which she obeyed, abruptly, on discovering the reason of his
'How is this?' said Linton, addressing her; 'what notion of
propriety must you have to remain here, after the language which
has been held to you by that blackguard? I suppose, because it is
his ordinary talk you think nothing of it: you are habituated to
his baseness, and, perhaps, imagine I can get used to it too!'
'Have you been listening at the door, Edgar?' asked the mistress,
in a tone particularly calculated to provoke her husband, implying
both carelessness and contempt of his irritation. Heathcliff, who
had raised his eyes at the former speech, gave a sneering laugh at
the latter; on purpose, it seemed, to draw Mr. Linton's attention
to him. He succeeded; but Edgar did not mean to entertain him with
any high flights of passion.
'I've been so far forbearing with you, sir,' he said quietly; 'not
that I was ignorant of your miserable, degraded character, but I
felt you were only partly responsible for that; and Catherine
wishing to keep up your acquaintance, I acquiesced - foolishly.
Your presence is a moral poison that would contaminate the most
virtuous: for that cause, and to prevent worse consequences, I
shall deny you hereafter admission into this house, and give notice
now that I require your instant departure. Three minutes' delay
will render it involuntary and ignominious.
Heathcliff measured the height and breadth of the speaker with an
eye full of derision.
'Cathy, this lamb of yours threatens like a bull!' he said. 'It is
in danger of splitting its skull against my knuckles. By God! Mr.
Linton, I'm mortally sorry that you are not worth knocking down!'
My master glanced towards the passage, and signed me to fetch the
men: he had no intention of hazarding a personal encounter. I
obeyed the hint; but Mrs. Linton, suspecting something, followed;
and when I attempted to call them, she pulled me back, slammed the
door to, and locked it.
'Fair means!' she said, in answer to her husband's look of angry
surprise. 'If you have not courage to attack him, make an apology,
or allow yourself to be beaten. It will correct you of feigning
more valour than you possess. No, I'll swallow the key before you
shall get it! I'm delightfully rewarded for my kindness to each!
After constant indulgence of one's weak nature, and the other's bad
one, I earn for thanks two samples of blind ingratitude, stupid to
absurdity! Edgar, I was defending you and yours; and I wish
Heathcliff may flog you sick, for daring to think an evil thought
of me!'
It did not need the medium of a flogging to produce that effect on
the master. He tried to wrest the key from Catherine's grasp, and
for safety she flung it into the hottest part of the fire;
whereupon Mr. Edgar was taken with a nervous trembling, and his
countenance grew deadly pale. For his life he could not avert that
excess of emotion: mingled anguish and humiliation overcame him
completely. He leant on the back of a chair, and covered his face.
'Oh, heavens! In old days this would win you knighthood!'
exclaimed Mrs. Linton. 'We are vanquished! we are vanquished!
Heathcliff would as soon lift a finger at you as the king would
march his army against a colony of mice. Cheer up! you sha'n't be
hurt! Your type is not a lamb, it's a sucking leveret.'
'I wish you joy of the milk-blooded coward, Cathy!' said her
friend. 'I compliment you on your taste. And that is the
slavering, shivering thing you preferred to me! I would not strike
him with my fist, but I'd kick him with my foot, and experience
considerable satisfaction. Is he weeping, or is he going to faint
for fear?'
The fellow approached and gave the chair on which Linton rested a
push. He'd better have kept his distance: my master quickly
sprang erect, and struck him full on the throat a blow that would
have levelled a slighter man. It took his breath for a minute; and
while he choked, Mr. Linton walked out by the back door into the
yard, and from thence to the front entrance.
'There! you've done with coming here,' cried Catherine. 'Get away,
now; he'll return with a brace of pistols and half-a-dozen
assistants. If he did overhear us, of course he'd never forgive
you. You've played me an ill turn, Heathcliff! But go - make
haste! I'd rather see Edgar at bay than you.'
'Do you suppose I'm going with that blow burning in my gullet?' he
thundered. 'By hell, no! I'll crush his ribs in like a rotten
hazel-nut before I cross the threshold! If I don't floor him now,
I shall murder him some time; so, as you value his existence, let
me get at him!'
'He is not coming,' I interposed, framing a bit of a lie. 'There's
the coachman and the two gardeners; you'll surely not wait to be
thrust into the road by them! Each has a bludgeon; and master
will, very likely, be watching from the parlour-windows to see that
they fulfil his orders.'
The gardeners and coachman were there: but Linton was with them.
They had already entered the court. Heathcliff, on the second
thoughts, resolved to avoid a struggle against three underlings:
he seized the poker, smashed the lock from the inner door, and made
his escape as they tramped in.
Mrs. Linton, who was very much excited, bade me accompany her upstairs.
She did not know my share in contributing to the
disturbance, and I was anxious to keep her in ignorance.
'I'm nearly distracted, Nelly!' she exclaimed, throwing herself on
the sofa. 'A thousand smiths' hammers are beating in my head!
Tell Isabella to shun me; this uproar is owing to her; and should
she or any one else aggravate my anger at present, I shall get
wild. And, Nelly, say to Edgar, if you see him again to-night,
that I'm in danger of being seriously ill. I wish it may prove
true. He has startled and distressed me shockingly! I want to
frighten him. Besides, he might come and begin a string of abuse
or complainings; I'm certain I should recriminate, and God knows
where we should end! Will you do so, my good Nelly? You are aware
that I am no way blamable in this matter. What possessed him to
turn listener? Heathcliff's talk was outrageous, after you left
us; but I could soon have diverted him from Isabella, and the rest
meant nothing. Now all is dashed wrong; by the fool's craving to
hear evil of self, that haunts some people like a demon! Had Edgar
never gathered our conversation, he would never have been the worse
for it. Really, when he opened on me in that unreasonable tone of
displeasure after I had scolded Heathcliff till I was hoarse for
him, I did not care hardly what they did to each other; especially
as I felt that, however the scene closed, we should all be driven
asunder for nobody knows how long! Well, if I cannot keep
Heathcliff for my friend - if Edgar will be mean and jealous, I'll
try to break their hearts by breaking my own. That will be a
prompt way of finishing all, when I am pushed to extremity! But
it's a deed to be reserved for a forlorn hope; I'd not take Linton
by surprise with it. To this point he has been discreet in
dreading to provoke me; you must represent the peril of quitting
that policy, and remind him of my passionate temper, verging, when
kindled, on frenzy. I wish you could dismiss that apathy out of
that countenance, and look rather more anxious about me.'
The stolidity with which I received these instructions was, no
doubt, rather exasperating: for they were delivered in perfect
sincerity; but I believed a person who could plan the turning of
her fits of passion to account, beforehand, might, by exerting her
will, manage to control herself tolerably, even while under their
influence; and I did not wish to 'frighten' her husband, as she
said, and multiply his annoyances for the purpose of serving her
selfishness. Therefore I said nothing when I met the master coming
towards the parlour; but I took the liberty of turning back to
listen whether they would resume their quarrel together. He began
to speak first.
'Remain where you are, Catherine,' he said; without any anger in
his voice, but with much sorrowful despondency. 'I shall not stay.
I am neither come to wrangle nor be reconciled; but I wish just to
learn whether, after this evening's events, you intend to continue
your intimacy with - '
'Oh, for mercy's sake,' interrupted the mistress, stamping her
foot, 'for mercy's sake, let us hear no more of it now! Your cold
blood cannot be worked into a fever: your veins are full of icewater;
but mine are boiling, and the sight of such chillness makes
them dance.'
'To get rid of me, answer my question,' persevered Mr. Linton.
'You must answer it; and that violence does not alarm me. I have
found that you can be as stoical as anyone, when you please. Will
you give up Heathcliff hereafter, or will you give up me? It is
impossible for you to be MY friend and HIS at the same time; and I
absolutely REQUIRE to know which you choose.'
'I require to be let alone?' exclaimed Catherine, furiously. 'I
demand it! Don't you see I can scarcely stand? Edgar, you - you
leave me!'
She rang the bell till it broke with a twang; I entered leisurely.
It was enough to try the temper of a saint, such senseless, wicked
rages! There she lay dashing her head against the arm of the sofa,
and grinding her teeth, so that you might fancy she would crash
them to splinters! Mr. Linton stood looking at her in sudden
compunction and fear. He told me to fetch some water. She had no
breath for speaking. I brought a glass full; and as she would not
drink, I sprinkled it on her face. In a few seconds she stretched
herself out stiff, and turned up her eyes, while her cheeks, at
once blanched and livid, assumed the aspect of death. Linton
looked terrified.
'There is nothing in the world the matter,' I whispered. I did not
want him to yield, though I could not help being afraid in my
'She has blood on her lips!' he said, shuddering.
'Never mind!' I answered, tartly. And I told him how she had
resolved, previous to his coming, on exhibiting a fit of frenzy. I
incautiously gave the account aloud, and she heard me; for she
started up - her hair flying over her shoulders, her eyes flashing,
the muscles of her neck and arms standing out preternaturally. I
made up my mind for broken bones, at least; but she only glared
about her for an instant, and then rushed from the room. The
master directed me to follow; I did, to her chamber-door: she
hindered me from going further by securing it against me.
As she never offered to descend to breakfast next morning, I went
to ask whether she would have some carried up. 'No!' she replied,
peremptorily. The same question was repeated at dinner and tea;
and again on the morrow after, and received the same answer. Mr.
Linton, on his part, spent his time in the library, and did not
inquire concerning his wife's occupations. Isabella and he had had
an hour's interview, during which he tried to elicit from her some
sentiment of proper horror for Heathcliff's advances: but he could
make nothing of her evasive replies, and was obliged to close the
examination unsatisfactorily; adding, however, a solemn warning,
that if she were so insane as to encourage that worthless suitor,
it would dissolve all bonds of relationship between herself and
WHILE Miss Linton moped about the park and garden, always silent,
and almost always in tears; and her brother shut himself up among
books that he never opened - wearying, I guessed, with a continual
vague expectation that Catherine, repenting her conduct, would come
of her own accord to ask pardon, and seek a reconciliation - and
SHE fasted pertinaciously, under the idea, probably, that at every
meal Edgar was ready to choke for her absence, and pride alone held
him from running to cast himself at her feet; I went about my
household duties, convinced that the Grange had but one sensible
soul in its walls, and that lodged in my body. I wasted no
condolences on Miss, nor any expostulations on my mistress; nor did
I pay much attention to the sighs of my master, who yearned to hear
his lady's name, since he might not hear her voice. I determined
they should come about as they pleased for me; and though it was a
tiresomely slow process, I began to rejoice at length in a faint
dawn of its progress: as I thought at first.
Mrs. Linton, on the third day, unbarred her door, and having
finished the water in her pitcher and decanter, desired a renewed
supply, and a basin of gruel, for she believed she was dying. That
I set down as a speech meant for Edgar's ears; I believed no such
thing, so I kept it to myself and brought her some tea and dry
toast. She ate and drank eagerly, and sank back on her pillow
again, clenching her hands and groaning. 'Oh, I will die,' she
exclaimed, 'since no one cares anything about me. I wish I had not
taken that.' Then a good while after I heard her murmur, 'No, I'll
not die - he'd be glad - he does not love me at all - he would
never miss me!'
'Did you want anything, ma'am?' I inquired, still preserving my
external composure, in spite of her ghastly countenance and
strange, exaggerated manner.
'What is that apathetic being doing?' she demanded, pushing the
thick entangled locks from her wasted face. 'Has he fallen into a
lethargy, or is he dead?'
'Neither,' replied I; 'if you mean Mr. Linton. He's tolerably
well, I think, though his studies occupy him rather more than they
ought: he is continually among his books, since he has no other
I should not have spoken so if I had known her true condition, but
I could not get rid of the notion that she acted a part of her
'Among his books!' she cried, confounded. 'And I dying! I on the
brink of the grave! My God! does he know how I'm altered?'
continued she, staring at her reflection in a mirror hanging
against the opposite wall. 'Is that Catherine Linton? He
imagines me in a pet - in play, perhaps. Cannot you inform him
that it is frightful earnest? Nelly, if it be not too late, as
soon as I learn how he feels, I'll choose between these two:
either to starve at once - that would be no punishment unless he
had a heart - or to recover, and leave the country. Are you
speaking the truth about him now? Take care. Is he actually so
utterly indifferent for my life?'
'Why, ma'am,' I answered, 'the master has no idea of your being
deranged; and of course he does not fear that you will let yourself
die of hunger.'
'You think not? Cannot you tell him I will?' she returned.
'Persuade him! speak of your own mind: say you are certain I
'No, you forget, Mrs. Linton,' I suggested, 'that you have eaten
some food with a relish this evening, and to-morrow you will
perceive its good effects.'
'If I were only sure it would kill him,' she interrupted, 'I'd kill
myself directly! These three awful nights I've never closed my
lids - and oh, I've been tormented! I've been haunted, Nelly! But
I begin to fancy you don't like me. How strange! I thought,
though everybody hated and despised each other, they could not
avoid loving me. And they have all turned to enemies in a few
hours: they have, I'm positive; the people here. How dreary to
meet death, surrounded by their cold faces! Isabella, terrified
and repelled, afraid to enter the room, it would be so dreadful to
watch Catherine go. And Edgar standing solemnly by to see it over;
then offering prayers of thanks to God for restoring peace to his
house, and going back to his BOOKS! What in the name of all that
feels has he to do with BOOKS, when I am dying?'
She could not bear the notion which I had put into her head of Mr.
Linton's philosophical resignation. Tossing about, she increased
her feverish bewilderment to madness, and tore the pillow with her
teeth; then raising herself up all burning, desired that I would
open the window. We were in the middle of winter, the wind blew
strong from the north-east, and I objected. Both the expressions
flitting over her face, and the changes of her moods, began to
alarm me terribly; and brought to my recollection her former
illness, and the doctor's injunction that she should not be
crossed. A minute previously she was violent; now, supported on
one arm, and not noticing my refusal to obey her, she seemed to
find childish diversion in pulling the feathers from the rents she
had just made, and ranging them on the sheet according to their
different species: her mind had strayed to other associations.
'That's a turkey's,' she murmured to herself; 'and this is a wild
duck's; and this is a pigeon's. Ah, they put pigeons' feathers in
the pillows - no wonder I couldn't die! Let me take care to throw
it on the floor when I lie down. And here is a moor-cock's; and
this - I should know it among a thousand - it's a lapwing's. Bonny
bird; wheeling over our heads in the middle of the moor. It wanted
to get to its nest, for the clouds had touched the swells, and it
felt rain coming. This feather was picked up from the heath, the
bird was not shot: we saw its nest in the winter, full of little
skeletons. Heathcliff set a trap over it, and the old ones dared
not come. I made him promise he'd never shoot a lapwing after
that, and he didn't. Yes, here are more! Did he shoot my
lapwings, Nelly? Are they red, any of them? Let me look.'
'Give over with that baby-work!' I interrupted, dragging the pillow
away, and turning the holes towards the mattress, for she was
removing its contents by handfuls. 'Lie down and shut your eyes:
you're wandering. There's a mess! The down is flying about like
I went here and there collecting it.
'I see in you, Nelly,' she continued dreamily, 'an aged woman: you
have grey hair and bent shoulders. This bed is the fairy cave
under Penistone crags, and you are gathering elf-bolts to hurt our
heifers; pretending, while I am near, that they are only locks of
wool. That's what you'll come to fifty years hence: I know you
are not so now. I'm not wandering: you're mistaken, or else I
should believe you really WERE that withered hag, and I should
think I WAS under Penistone Crags; and I'm conscious it's night,
and there are two candles on the table making the black press shine
like jet.'
'The black press? where is that?' I asked. 'You are talking in
your sleep!'
'It's against the wall, as it always is,' she replied. 'It DOES
appear odd - I see a face in it!'
'There's no press in the room, and never was,' said I, resuming my
seat, and looping up the curtain that I might watch her.
'Don't YOU see that face?' she inquired, gazing earnestly at the
And say what I could, I was incapable of making her comprehend it
to be her own; so I rose and covered it with a shawl.
'It's behind there still!' she pursued, anxiously. 'And it
stirred. Who is it? I hope it will not come out when you are
gone! Oh! Nelly, the room is haunted! I'm afraid of being
I took her hand in mine, and bid her be composed; for a succession
of shudders convulsed her frame, and she would keep straining her
gaze towards the glass.
'There's nobody here!' I insisted. 'It was YOURSELF, Mrs. Linton:
you knew it a while since.'
'Myself!' she gasped, 'and the clock is striking twelve! It's
true, then! that's dreadful!'
Her fingers clutched the clothes, and gathered them over her eyes.
I attempted to steal to the door with an intention of calling her
husband; but I was summoned back by a piercing shriek - the shawl
had dropped from the frame.
'Why, what is the matter?' cried I. 'Who is coward now? Wake up!
That is the glass - the mirror, Mrs. Linton; and you see yourself
in it, and there am I too by your side.'
Trembling and bewildered, she held me fast, but the horror
gradually passed from her countenance; its paleness gave place to a
glow of shame.
'Oh, dear! I thought I was at home,' she sighed. 'I thought I was
lying in my chamber at Wuthering Heights. Because I'm weak, my
brain got confused, and I screamed unconsciously. Don't say
anything; but stay with me. I dread sleeping: my dreams appal
'A sound sleep would do you good, ma'am,' I answered: 'and I hope
this suffering will prevent your trying starving again.'
'Oh, if I were but in my own bed in the old house!' she went on
bitterly, wringing her hands. 'And that wind sounding in the firs
by the lattice. Do let me feel it - it comes straight down the
moor - do let me have one breath!' To pacify her I held the
casement ajar a few seconds. A cold blast rushed through; I closed
it, and returned to my post. She lay still now, her face bathed in
tears. Exhaustion of body had entirely subdued her spirit: our
fiery Catherine was no better than a wailing child.
'How long is it since I shut myself in here?' she asked, suddenly
'It was Monday evening,' I replied, 'and this is Thursday night, or
rather Friday morning, at present.'
'What! of the same week?' she exclaimed. 'Only that brief time?'
'Long enough to live on nothing but cold water and ill-temper,'
observed I.
'Well, it seems a weary number of hours,' she muttered doubtfully:
'it must be more. I remember being in the parlour after they had
quarrelled, and Edgar being cruelly provoking, and me running into
this room desperate. As soon as ever I had barred the door, utter
blackness overwhelmed me, and I fell on the floor. I couldn't
explain to Edgar how certain I felt of having a fit, or going
raging mad, if he persisted in teasing me! I had no command of
tongue, or brain, and he did not guess my agony, perhaps: it
barely left me sense to try to escape from him and his voice.
Before I recovered sufficiently to see and hear, it began to be
dawn, and, Nelly, I'll tell you what I thought, and what has kept
recurring and recurring till I feared for my reason. I thought as
I lay there, with my head against that table leg, and my eyes dimly
discerning the grey square of the window, that I was enclosed in
the oak-panelled bed at home; and my heart ached with some great
grief which, just waking, I could not recollect. I pondered, and
worried myself to discover what it could be, and, most strangely,
the whole last seven years of my life grew a blank! I did not
recall that they had been at all. I was a child; my father was
just buried, and my misery arose from the separation that Hindley
had ordered between me and Heathcliff. I was laid alone, for the
first time; and, rousing from a dismal doze after a night of
weeping, I lifted my hand to push the panels aside: it struck the
table-top! I swept it along the carpet, and then memory burst in:
my late anguish was swallowed in a paroxysm of despair. I cannot
say why I felt so wildly wretched: it must have been temporary
derangement; for there is scarcely cause. But, supposing at twelve
years old I had been wrenched from the Heights, and every early
association, and my all in all, as Heathcliff was at that time, and
been converted at a stroke into Mrs. Linton, the lady of
Thrushcross Grange, and the wife of a stranger: an exile, and
outcast, thenceforth, from what had been my world. You may fancy a
glimpse of the abyss where I grovelled! Shake your head as you
will, Nelly, you have helped to unsettle me! You should have
spoken to Edgar, indeed you should, and compelled him to leave me
quiet! Oh, I'm burning! I wish I were out of doors! I wish I
were a girl again, half savage and hardy, and free; and laughing at
injuries, not maddening under them! Why am I so changed? why does
my blood rush into a hell of tumult at a few words? I'm sure I
should be myself were I once among the heather on those hills.
Open the window again wide: fasten it open! Quick, why don't you
'Because I won't give you your death of cold,' I answered.
'You won't give me a chance of life, you mean,' she said, sullenly.
'However, I'm not helpless yet; I'll open it myself.'
And sliding from the bed before I could hinder her, she crossed the
room, walking very uncertainly, threw it back, and bent out,
careless of the frosty air that cut about her shoulders as keen as
a knife. I entreated, and finally attempted to force her to
retire. But I soon found her delirious strength much surpassed
mine (she was delirious, I became convinced by her subsequent
actions and ravings). There was no moon, and everything beneath
lay in misty darkness: not a light gleamed from any house, far or
near all had been extinguished long ago: and those at Wuthering
Heights were never visible - still she asserted she caught their
'Look!' she cried eagerly, 'that's my room with the candle in it,
and the trees swaying before it; and the other candle is in
Joseph's garret. Joseph sits up late, doesn't he? He's waiting
till I come home that he may lock the gate. Well, he'll wait a
while yet. It's a rough journey, and a sad heart to travel it; and
we must pass by Gimmerton Kirk to go that journey! We've braved
its ghosts often together, and dared each other to stand among the
graves and ask them to come. But, Heathcliff, if I dare you now,
will you venture? If you do, I'll keep you. I'll not lie there by
myself: they may bury me twelve feet deep, and throw the church
down over me, but I won't rest till you are with me. I never
She paused, and resumed with a strange smile. 'He's considering -
he'd rather I'd come to him! Find a way, then! not through that
kirkyard. You are slow! Be content, you always followed me!'
Perceiving it vain to argue against her insanity, I was planning
how I could reach something to wrap about her, without quitting my
hold of herself (for I could not trust her alone by the gaping
lattice), when, to my consternation, I heard the rattle of the
door-handle, and Mr. Linton entered. He had only then come from
the library; and, in passing through the lobby, had noticed our
talking and been attracted by curiosity, or fear, to examine what
it signified, at that late hour.
'Oh, sir!' I cried, checking the exclamation risen to his lips at
the sight which met him, and the bleak atmosphere of the chamber.
'My poor mistress is ill, and she quite masters me: I cannot
manage her at all; pray, come and persuade her to go to bed.
Forget your anger, for she's hard to guide any way but her own.'
'Catherine ill?' he said, hastening to us. 'Shut the window,
Ellen! Catherine! why - '
He was silent. The haggardness of Mrs. Linton's appearance smote
him speechless, and he could only glance from her to me in
horrified astonishment.
'She's been fretting here,' I continued, 'and eating scarcely
anything, and never complaining: she would admit none of us till
this evening, and so we couldn't inform you of her state, as we
were not aware of it ourselves; but it is nothing.'
I felt I uttered my explanations awkwardly; the master frowned.
'It is nothing, is it, Ellen Dean?' he said sternly. 'You shall
account more clearly for keeping me ignorant of this!' And he took
his wife in his arms, and looked at her with anguish.
At first she gave him no glance of recognition: he was invisible
to her abstracted gaze. The delirium was not fixed, however;
having weaned her eyes from contemplating the outer darkness, by
degrees she centred her attention on him, and discovered who it was
that held her.
'Ah! you are come, are you, Edgar Linton?' she said, with angry
animation. 'You are one of those things that are ever found when
least wanted, and when you are wanted, never! I suppose we shall
have plenty of lamentations now - I see we shall - but they can't
keep me from my narrow home out yonder: my resting-place, where
I'm bound before spring is over! There it is: not among the
Lintons, mind, under the chapel-roof, but in the open air, with a
head-stone; and you may please yourself whether you go to them or
come to me!'
'Catherine, what have you done?' commenced the master. 'Am I
nothing to you any more? Do you love that wretch Heath - '
'Hush!' cried Mrs. Linton. 'Hush, this moment! You mention that
name and I end the matter instantly by a spring from the window!
What you touch at present you may have; but my soul will be on that
hill-top before you lay hands on me again. I don't want you,
Edgar: I'm past wanting you. Return to your books. I'm glad you
possess a consolation, for all you had in me is gone.'
'Her mind wanders, sir,' I interposed. 'She has been talking
nonsense the whole evening; but let her have quiet, and proper
attendance, and she'll rally. Hereafter, we must be cautious how
we vex her.'
'I desire no further advice from you,' answered Mr. Linton. 'You
knew your mistress's nature, and you encouraged me to harass her.
And not to give me one hint of how she has been these three days!
It was heartless! Months of sickness could not cause such a
I began to defend myself, thinking it too bad to be blamed for
another's wicked waywardness. 'I knew Mrs. Linton's nature to be
headstrong and domineering,' cried I: 'but I didn't know that you
wished to foster her fierce temper! I didn't know that, to humour
her, I should wink at Mr. Heathcliff. I performed the duty of a
faithful servant in telling you, and I have got a faithful
servant's wages! Well, it will teach me to be careful next time.
Next time you may gather intelligence for yourself!'
'The next time you bring a tale to me you shall quit my service,
Ellen Dean,' he replied.
'You'd rather hear nothing about it, I suppose, then, Mr. Linton?'
said I. 'Heathcliff has your permission to come a-courting to
Miss, and to drop in at every opportunity your absence offers, on
purpose to poison the mistress against you?'
Confused as Catherine was, her wits were alert at applying our
'Ah! Nelly has played traitor,' she exclaimed, passionately.
'Nelly is my hidden enemy. You witch! So you do seek elf-bolts to
hurt us! Let me go, and I'll make her rue! I'll make her howl a
A maniac's fury kindled under her brows; she struggled desperately
to disengage herself from Linton's arms. I felt no inclination to
tarry the event; and, resolving to seek medical aid on my own
responsibility, I quitted the chamber.
In passing the garden to reach the road, at a place where a bridle
hook is driven into the wall, I saw something white moved
irregularly, evidently by another agent than the wind.
Notwithstanding my hurry, I stayed to examine it, lest ever after I
should have the conviction impressed on my imagination that it was
a creature of the other world. My surprise and perplexity were
great on discovering, by touch more than vision, Miss Isabella's
springer, Fanny, suspended by a handkerchief, and nearly at its
last gasp. I quickly released the animal, and lifted it into the
garden. I had seen it follow its mistress up-stairs when she went
to bed; and wondered much how it could have got out there, and what
mischievous person had treated it so. While untying the knot round
the hook, it seemed to me that I repeatedly caught the beat of
horses' feet galloping at some distance; but there were such a
number of things to occupy my reflections that I hardly gave the
circumstance a thought: though it was a strange sound, in that
place, at two o'clock in the morning.
Mr. Kenneth was fortunately just issuing from his house to see a
patient in the village as I came up the street; and my account of
Catherine Linton's malady induced him to accompany me back
immediately. He was a plain rough man; and he made no scruple to
speak his doubts of her surviving this second attack; unless she
were more submissive to his directions than she had shown herself
'Nelly Dean,' said he, 'I can't help fancying there's an extra
cause for this. What has there been to do at the Grange? We've
odd reports up here. A stout, hearty lass like Catherine does not
fall ill for a trifle; and that sort of people should not either.
It's hard work bringing them through fevers, and such things. How
did it begin?'
'The master will inform you,' I answered; 'but you are acquainted
with the Earnshaws' violent dispositions, and Mrs. Linton caps them
all. I may say this; it commenced in a quarrel. She was struck
during a tempest of passion with a kind of fit. That's her
account, at least: for she flew off in the height of it, and
locked herself up. Afterwards, she refused to eat, and now she
alternately raves and remains in a half dream; knowing those about
her, but having her mind filled with all sorts of strange ideas and
'Mr. Linton will be sorry?' observed Kenneth, interrogatively.
' Sorry? he'll break his heart should anything happen!' I replied.
'Don't alarm him more than necessary.'
'Well, I told him to beware,' said my companion; 'and he must bide
the consequences of neglecting my warning! Hasn't he been intimate
with Mr. Heathcliff lately?'
'Heathcliff frequently visits at the Grange,' answered I, 'though
more on the strength of the mistress having known him when a boy,
than because the master likes his company. At present he's
discharged from the trouble of calling; owing to some presumptuous
aspirations after Miss Linton which he manifested. I hardly think
he'll be taken in again.'
'And does Miss Linton turn a cold shoulder on him?' was the
doctor's next question.
'I'm not in her confidence,' returned I, reluctant to continue the
'No, she's a sly one,' he remarked, shaking his head. 'She keeps
her own counsel! But she's a real little fool. I have it from
good authority that last night (and a pretty night it was!) she and
Heathcliff were walking in the plantation at the back of your house
above two hours; and he pressed her not to go in again, but just
mount his horse and away with him! My informant said she could
only put him off by pledging her word of honour to be prepared on
their first meeting after that: when it was to be he didn't hear;
but you urge Mr. Linton to look sharp!'
This news filled me with fresh fears; I outstripped Kenneth, and
ran most of the way back. The little dog was yelping in the garden
yet. I spared a minute to open the gate for it, but instead of
going to the house door, it coursed up and down snuffing the grass,
and would have escaped to the road, had I not seized it and
conveyed it in with me. On ascending to Isabella's room, my
suspicions were confirmed: it was empty. Had I been a few hours
sooner Mrs. Linton's illness might have arrested her rash step.
But what could be done now? There was a bare possibility of
overtaking them if pursued instantly. I could not pursue them,
however; and I dared not rouse the family, and fill the place with
confusion; still less unfold the business to my master, absorbed as
he was in his present calamity, and having no heart to spare for a
second grief! I saw nothing for it but to hold my tongue, and
suffer matters to take their course; and Kenneth being arrived, I
went with a badly composed countenance to announce him. Catherine
lay in a troubled sleep: her husband had succeeded in soothing the
excess of frenzy; he now hung over her pillow, watching every shade
and every change of her painfully expressive features.
The doctor, on examining the case for himself, spoke hopefully to
him of its having a favourable termination, if we could only
preserve around her perfect and constant tranquillity. To me, he
signified the threatening danger was not so much death, as
permanent alienation of intellect.
I did not close my eyes that night, nor did Mr. Linton: indeed, we
never went to bed; and the servants were all up long before the
usual hour, moving through the house with stealthy tread, and
exchanging whispers as they encountered each other in their
vocations. Every one was active but Miss Isabella; and they began
to remark how sound she slept: her brother, too, asked if she had
risen, and seemed impatient for her presence, and hurt that she
showed so little anxiety for her sister-in-law. I trembled lest he
should send me to call her; but I was spared the pain of being the
first proclaimant of her flight. One of the maids, a thoughtless
girl, who had been on an early errand to Gimmerton, came panting
up-stairs, open-mouthed, and dashed into the chamber, crying: 'Oh,
dear, dear! What mun we have next? Master, master, our young lady
- '
'Hold your noise!' cried, I hastily, enraged at her clamorous
'Speak lower, Mary - What is the matter?' said Mr. Linton. 'What
ails your young lady?'
'She's gone, she's gone! Yon' Heathcliff's run off wi' her!'
gasped the girl.
'That is not true!' exclaimed Linton, rising in agitation. 'It
cannot be: how has the idea entered your head? Ellen Dean, go and
seek her. It is incredible: it cannot be.'
As he spoke he took the servant to the door, and then repeated his
demand to know her reasons for such an assertion.
'Why, I met on the road a lad that fetches milk here,' she
stammered, 'and he asked whether we weren't in trouble at the
Grange. I thought he meant for missis's sickness, so I answered,
yes. Then says he, "There's somebody gone after 'em, I guess?" I
stared. He saw I knew nought about it, and he told how a gentleman
and lady had stopped to have a horse's shoe fastened at a
blacksmith's shop, two miles out of Gimmerton, not very long after
midnight! and how the blacksmith's lass had got up to spy who they
were: she knew them both directly. And she noticed the man -
Heathcliff it was, she felt certain: nob'dy could mistake him,
besides - put a sovereign in her father's hand for payment. The
lady had a cloak about her face; but having desired a sup of water,
while she drank it fell back, and she saw her very plain.
Heathcliff held both bridles as they rode on, and they set their
faces from the village, and went as fast as the rough roads would
let them. The lass said nothing to her father, but she told it all
over Gimmerton this morning.'
I ran and peeped, for form's sake, into Isabella's room;
confirming, when I returned, the servant's statement. Mr. Linton
had resumed his seat by the bed; on my re-entrance, he raised his
eyes, read the meaning of my blank aspect, and dropped them without
giving an order, or uttering a word.
'Are we to try any measures for overtaking and bringing her back,'
I inquired. 'How should we do?'
'She went of her own accord,' answered the master; 'she had a right
to go if she pleased. Trouble me no more about her. Hereafter she
is only my sister in name: not because I disown her, but because
she has disowned me.'
And that was all he said on the subject: he did not make single
inquiry further, or mention her in any way, except directing me to
send what property she had in the house to her fresh home, wherever
it was, when I knew it.
FOR two months the fugitives remained absent; in those two months,
Mrs. Linton encountered and conquered the worst shock of what was
denominated a brain fever. No mother could have nursed an only
child more devotedly than Edgar tended her. Day and night he was
watching, and patiently enduring all the annoyances that irritable
nerves and a shaken reason could inflict; and, though Kenneth
remarked that what he saved from the grave would only recompense
his care by forming the source of constant future anxiety - in
fact, that his health and strength were being sacrificed to
preserve a mere ruin of humanity - he knew no limits in gratitude
and joy when Catherine's life was declared out of danger; and hour
after hour he would sit beside her, tracing the gradual return to
bodily health, and flattering his too sanguine hopes with the
illusion that her mind would settle back to its right balance also,
and she would soon be entirely her former self.
The first time she left her chamber was at the commencement of the
following March. Mr. Linton had put on her pillow, in the morning,
a handful of golden crocuses; her eye, long stranger to any gleam
of pleasure, caught them in waking, and shone delighted as she
gathered them eagerly together.
'These are the earliest flowers at the Heights,' she exclaimed.
'They remind me of soft thaw winds, and warm sunshine, and nearly
melted snow. Edgar, is there not a south wind, and is not the snow
almost gone?'
'The snow is quite gone down here, darling,' replied her husband;
'and I only see two white spots on the whole range of moors: the
sky is blue, and the larks are singing, and the becks and brooks
are all brim full. Catherine, last spring at this time, I was
longing to have you under this roof; now, I wish you were a mile or
two up those hills: the air blows so sweetly, I feel that it would
cure you.'
'I shall never be there but once more,' said the invalid; 'and then
you'll leave me, and I shall remain for ever. Next spring you'll
long again to have me under this roof, and you'll look back and
think you were happy to-day.'
Linton lavished on her the kindest caresses, and tried to cheer her
by the fondest words; but, vaguely regarding the flowers, she let
the tears collect on her lashes and stream down her cheeks
unheeding. We knew she was really better, and, therefore, decided
that long confinement to a single place produced much of this
despondency, and it might be partially removed by a change of
scene. The master told me to light a fire in the many-weeks'
deserted parlour, and to set an easy-chair in the sunshine by the
window; and then he brought her down, and she sat a long while
enjoying the genial heat, and, as we expected, revived by the
objects round her: which, though familiar, were free from the
dreary associations investing her hated sick chamber. By evening
she seemed greatly exhausted; yet no arguments could persuade her
to return to that apartment, and I had to arrange the parlour sofa
for her bed, till another room could be prepared. To obviate the
fatigue of mounting and descending the stairs, we fitted up this,
where you lie at present - on the same floor with the parlour; and
she was soon strong enough to move from one to the other, leaning
on Edgar's arm. Ah, I thought myself, she might recover, so waited
on as she was. And there was double cause to desire it, for on her
existence depended that of another: we cherished the hope that in
a little while Mr. Linton's heart would be gladdened, and his lands
secured from a stranger's gripe, by the birth of an heir.
I should mention that Isabella sent to her brother, some six weeks
from her departure, a short note, announcing her marriage with
Heathcliff. It appeared dry and cold; but at the bottom was dotted
in with pencil an obscure apology, and an entreaty for kind
remembrance and reconciliation, if her proceeding had offended him:
asserting that she could not help it then, and being done, she had
now no power to repeal it. Linton did not reply to this, I
believe; and, in a fortnight more, I got a long letter, which I
considered odd, coming from the pen of a bride just out of the
honeymoon. I'll read it: for I keep it yet. Any relic of the
dead is precious, if they were valued living.
DEAR ELLEN, it begins, - I came last night to Wuthering Heights,
and heard, for the first time, that Catherine has been, and is yet,
very ill. I must not write to her, I suppose, and my brother is
either too angry or too distressed to answer what I sent him.
Still, I must write to somebody, and the only choice left me is
Inform Edgar that I'd give the world to see his face again - that
my heart returned to Thrushcross Grange in twenty-four hours after
I left it, and is there at this moment, full of warm feelings for
him, and Catherine! I CAN'T FOLLOW IT THOUGH - (these words are
underlined) - they need not expect me, and they may draw what
conclusions they please; taking care, however, to lay nothing at
the door of my weak will or deficient affection.
The remainder of the letter is for yourself alone. I want to ask
you two questions: the first is, - How did you contrive to
preserve the common sympathies of human nature when you resided
here? I cannot recognise any sentiment which those around share
with me.
The second question I have great interest in; it is this - Is Mr.
Heathcliff a man? If so, is he mad? And if not, is he a devil? I
sha'n't tell my reasons for making this inquiry; but I beseech you
to explain, if you can, what I have married: that is, when you
call to see me; and you must call, Ellen, very soon. Don't write,
but come, and bring me something from Edgar.
Now, you shall hear how I have been received in my new home, as I
am led to imagine the Heights will be. It is to amuse myself that
I dwell on such subjects as the lack of external comforts: they
never occupy my thoughts, except at the moment when I miss them. I
should laugh and dance for joy, if I found their absence was the
total of my miseries, and the rest was an unnatural dream!
The sun set behind the Grange as we turned on to the moors; by
that, I judged it to be six o'clock; and my companion halted half
an hour, to inspect the park, and the gardens, and, probably, the
place itself, as well as he could; so it was dark when we
dismounted in the paved yard of the farm-house, and your old
fellow-servant, Joseph, issued out to receive us by the light of a
dip candle. He did it with a courtesy that redounded to his
credit. His first act was to elevate his torch to a level with my
face, squint malignantly, project his under-lip, and turn away.
Then he took the two horses, and led them into the stables;
reappearing for the purpose of locking the outer gate, as if we
lived in an ancient castle.
Heathcliff stayed to speak to him, and I entered the kitchen - a
dingy, untidy hole; I daresay you would not know it, it is so
changed since it was in your charge. By the fire stood a ruffianly
child, strong in limb and dirty in garb, with a look of Catherine
in his eyes and about his mouth.
'This is Edgar's legal nephew,' I reflected - 'mine in a manner; I
must shake hands, and - yes - I must kiss him. It is right to
establish a good understanding at the beginning.'
I approached, and, attempting to take his chubby fist, said - 'How
do you do, my dear?'
He replied in a jargon I did not comprehend.
'Shall you and I be friends, Hareton?' was my next essay at
An oath, and a threat to set Throttler on me if I did not 'frame
off' rewarded my perseverance.
'Hey, Throttler, lad!' whispered the little wretch, rousing a halfbred
bull-dog from its lair in a corner. 'Now, wilt thou be
ganging?' he asked authoritatively.
Love for my life urged a compliance; I stepped over the threshold
to wait till the others should enter. Mr. Heathcliff was nowhere
visible; and Joseph, whom I followed to the stables, and requested
to accompany me in, after staring and muttering to himself, screwed
up his nose and replied - 'Mim! mim! mim! Did iver Christian body
hear aught like it? Mincing un' munching! How can I tell whet ye
'I say, I wish you to come with me into the house!' I cried,
thinking him deaf, yet highly disgusted at his rudeness.
'None o' me! I getten summut else to do,' he answered, and
continued his work; moving his lantern jaws meanwhile, and
surveying my dress and countenance (the former a great deal too
fine, but the latter, I'm sure, as sad as he could desire) with
sovereign contempt.
I walked round the yard, and through a wicket, to another door, at
which I took the liberty of knocking, in hopes some more civil
servant might show himself. After a short suspense, it was opened
by a tall, gaunt man, without neckerchief, and otherwise extremely
slovenly; his features were lost in masses of shaggy hair that hung
on his shoulders; and HIS eyes, too, were like a ghostly
Catherine's with all their beauty annihilated.
'What's your business here?' he demanded, grimly. 'Who are you?'
'My name was Isabella Linton,' I replied. 'You've seen me before,
sir. I'm lately married to Mr. Heathcliff, and he has brought me
here - I suppose, by your permission.'
'Is he come back, then?' asked the hermit, glaring like a hungry
'Yes - we came just now,' I said; 'but he left me by the kitchen
door; and when I would have gone in, your little boy played
sentinel over the place, and frightened me off by the help of a
'It's well the hellish villain has kept his word!' growled my
future host, searching the darkness beyond me in expectation of
discovering Heathcliff; and then he indulged in a soliloquy of
execrations, and threats of what he would have done had the 'fiend'
deceived him.
I repented having tried this second entrance, and was almost
inclined to slip away before he finished cursing, but ere I could
execute that intention, he ordered me in, and shut and re-fastened
the door. There was a great fire, and that was all the light in
the huge apartment, whose floor had grown a uniform grey; and the
once brilliant pewter-dishes, which used to attract my gaze when I
was a girl, partook of a similar obscurity, created by tarnish and
dust. I inquired whether I might call the maid, and be conducted
to a bedroom! Mr. Earnshaw vouchsafed no answer. He walked up and
down, with his hands in his pockets, apparently quite forgetting my
presence; and his abstraction was evidently so deep, and his whole
aspect so misanthropical, that I shrank from disturbing him again.
You'll not be surprised, Ellen, at my feeling particularly
cheerless, seated in worse than solitude on that inhospitable
hearth, and remembering that four miles distant lay my delightful
home, containing the only people I loved on earth; and there might
as well be the Atlantic to part us, instead of those four miles: I
could not overpass them! I questioned with myself - where must I
turn for comfort? and - mind you don't tell Edgar, or Catherine -
above every sorrow beside, this rose pre-eminent: despair at
finding nobody who could or would be my ally against Heathcliff! I
had sought shelter at Wuthering Heights, almost gladly, because I
was secured by that arrangement from living alone with him; but he
knew the people we were coming amongst, and he did not fear their
I sat and thought a doleful time: the clock struck eight, and
nine, and still my companion paced to and fro, his head bent on his
breast, and perfectly silent, unless a groan or a bitter
ejaculation forced itself out at intervals. I listened to detect a
woman's voice in the house, and filled the interim with wild
regrets and dismal anticipations, which, at last, spoke audibly in
irrepressible sighing and weeping. I was not aware how openly I
grieved, till Earnshaw halted opposite, in his measured walk, and
gave me a stare of newly-awakened surprise. Taking advantage of
his recovered attention, I exclaimed - 'I'm tired with my journey,
and I want to go to bed! Where is the maid-servant? Direct me to
her, as she won't come to me!'
'We have none,' he answered; 'you must wait on yourself!'
'Where must I sleep, then?' I sobbed; I was beyond regarding selfrespect,
weighed down by fatigue and wretchedness.
'Joseph will show you Heathcliff's chamber,' said he; 'open that
door - he's in there.'
I was going to obey, but he suddenly arrested me, and added in the
strangest tone - 'Be so good as to turn your lock, and draw your
bolt - don't omit it!'
'Well!' I said. 'But why, Mr. Earnshaw?' I did not relish the
notion of deliberately fastening myself in with Heathcliff.
'Look here!' he replied, pulling from his waistcoat a curiouslyconstructed
pistol, having a double-edged spring knife attached to
the barrel. 'That's a great tempter to a desperate man, is it not?
I cannot resist going up with this every night, and trying his
door. If once I find it open he's done for; I do it invariably,
even though the minute before I have been recalling a hundred
reasons that should make me refrain: it is some devil that urges
me to thwart my own schemes by killing him. You fight against that
devil for love as long as you may; when the time comes, not all the
angels in heaven shall save him!'
I surveyed the weapon inquisitively. A hideous notion struck me:
how powerful I should be possessing such an instrument! I took it
from his hand, and touched the blade. He looked astonished at the
expression my face assumed during a brief second: it was not
horror, it was covetousness. He snatched the pistol back,
jealously; shut the knife, and returned it to its concealment.
'I don't care if you tell him,' said he. 'Put him on his guard,
and watch for him. You know the terms we are on, I see: his
danger does not shock you.'
'What has Heathcliff done to you?' I asked. 'In what has he
wronged you, to warrant this appalling hatred? Wouldn't it be
wiser to bid him quit the house?'
'No!' thundered Earnshaw; 'should he offer to leave me, he's a dead
man: persuade him to attempt it, and you are a murderess! Am I to
lose ALL, without a chance of retrieval? Is Hareton to be a
beggar? Oh, damnation! I WILL have it back; and I'll have HIS
gold too; and then his blood; and hell shall have his soul! It
will be ten times blacker with that guest than ever it was before!'
You've acquainted me, Ellen, with your old master's habits. He is
clearly on the verge of madness: he was so last night at least. I
shuddered to be near him, and thought on the servant's ill-bred
moroseness as comparatively agreeable. He now recommenced his
moody walk, and I raised the latch, and escaped into the kitchen.
Joseph was bending over the fire, peering into a large pan that
swung above it; and a wooden bowl of oatmeal stood on the settle
close by. The contents of the pan began to boil, and he turned to
plunge his hand into the bowl; I conjectured that this preparation
was probably for our supper, and, being hungry, I resolved it
should be eatable; so, crying out sharply, 'I'LL make the
porridge!' I removed the vessel out of his reach, and proceeded to
take off my hat and riding-habit. 'Mr. Earnshaw,' I continued,
'directs me to wait on myself: I will. I'm not going to act the
lady among you, for fear I should starve.'
'Gooid Lord!' he muttered, sitting down, and stroking his ribbed
stockings from the knee to the ankle. 'If there's to be fresh
ortherings - just when I getten used to two maisters, if I mun hev'
a MISTRESS set o'er my heead, it's like time to be flitting. I
niver DID think to see t' day that I mud lave th' owld place - but
I doubt it's nigh at hand!'
This lamentation drew no notice from me: I went briskly to work,
sighing to remember a period when it would have been all merry fun;
but compelled speedily to drive off the remembrance. It racked me
to recall past happiness and the greater peril there was of
conjuring up its apparition, the quicker the thible ran round, and
the faster the handfuls of meal fell into the water. Joseph beheld
my style of cookery with growing indignation.
'Thear!' he ejaculated. 'Hareton, thou willn't sup thy porridge
to-neeght; they'll be naught but lumps as big as my neive. Thear,
agean! I'd fling in bowl un' all, if I wer ye! There, pale t'
guilp off, un' then ye'll hae done wi' 't. Bang, bang. It's a
mercy t' bothom isn't deaved out!'
It WAS rather a rough mess, I own, when poured into the basins;
four had been provided, and a gallon pitcher of new milk was
brought from the dairy, which Hareton seized and commenced drinking
and spilling from the expansive lip. I expostulated, and desired
that he should have his in a mug; affirming that I could not taste
the liquid treated so dirtily. The old cynic chose to be vastly
offended at this nicety; assuring me, repeatedly, that 'the barn
was every bit as good' as I, 'and every bit as wollsome,' and
wondering how I could fashion to be so conceited. Meanwhile, the
infant ruffian continued sucking; and glowered up at me defyingly,
as he slavered into the jug.
'I shall have my supper in another room,' I said. 'Have you no
place you call a parlour?'
'PARLOUR!' he echoed, sneeringly, 'PARLOUR! Nay, we've noa
PARLOURS. If yah dunnut loike wer company, there's maister's; un'
if yah dunnut loike maister, there's us.'
'Then I shall go up-stairs,' I answered; 'show me a chamber.'
I put my basin on a tray, and went myself to fetch some more milk.
With great grumblings, the fellow rose, and preceded me in my
ascent: we mounted to the garrets; he opened a door, now and then,
to look into the apartments we passed.
'Here's a rahm,' he said, at last, flinging back a cranky board on
hinges. 'It's weel eneugh to ate a few porridge in. There's a
pack o' corn i' t' corner, thear, meeterly clane; if ye're feared
o' muckying yer grand silk cloes, spread yer hankerchir o' t' top
The 'rahm' was a kind of lumber-hole smelling strong of malt and
grain; various sacks of which articles were piled around, leaving a
wide, bare space in the middle.
'Why, man,' I exclaimed, facing him angrily, 'this is not a place
to sleep in. I wish to see my bed-room.'
'BED-RUME!' he repeated, in a tone of mockery. 'Yah's see all t'
BED-RUMES thear is - yon's mine.'
He pointed into the second garret, only differing from the first in
being more naked about the walls, and having a large, low,
curtainless bed, with an indigo-coloured quilt, at one end.
'What do I want with yours?' I retorted. 'I suppose Mr. Heathcliff
does not lodge at the top of the house, does he?'
'Oh! it's Maister HATHECLIFF'S ye're wanting?' cried he, as if
making a new discovery. 'Couldn't ye ha' said soa, at onst? un'
then, I mud ha' telled ye, baht all this wark, that that's just one
ye cannut see - he allas keeps it locked, un' nob'dy iver mells
on't but hisseln.'
'You've a nice house, Joseph,' I could not refrain from observing,
'and pleasant inmates; and I think the concentrated essence of all
the madness in the world took up its abode in my brain the day I
linked my fate with theirs! However, that is not to the present
purpose - there are other rooms. For heaven's sake be quick, and
let me settle somewhere!'
He made no reply to this adjuration; only plodding doggedly down
the wooden steps, and halting, before an apartment which, from that
halt and the superior quality of its furniture, I conjectured to be
the best one. There was a carpet - a good one, but the pattern was
obliterated by dust; a fireplace hung with cut-paper, dropping to
pieces; a handsome oak-bedstead with ample crimson curtains of
rather expensive material and modern make; but they had evidently
experienced rough usage: the vallances hung in festoons, wrenched
from their rings, and the iron rod supporting them was bent in an
arc on one side, causing the drapery to trail upon the floor. The
chairs were also damaged, many of them severely; and deep
indentations deformed the panels of the walls. I was endeavouring
to gather resolution for entering and taking possession, when my
fool of a guide announced, - 'This here is t' maister's.' My
supper by this time was cold, my appetite gone, and my patience
exhausted. I insisted on being provided instantly with a place of
refuge, and means of repose.
'Whear the divil?' began the religious elder. 'The Lord bless us!
The Lord forgie us! Whear the HELL wdd ye gang? ye marred,
wearisome nowt! Ye've seen all but Hareton's bit of a cham'er.
There's not another hoile to lig down in i' th' hahse!'
I was so vexed, I flung my tray and its contents on the ground; and
then seated myself at the stairs'-head, hid my face in my hands,
and cried.
'Ech! ech!' exclaimed Joseph. 'Weel done, Miss Cathy! weel done,
Miss Cathy! Howsiver, t' maister sall just tum'le o'er them
brooken pots; un' then we's hear summut; we's hear how it's to be.
Gooid-for-naught madling! ye desarve pining fro' this to Churstmas,
flinging t' precious gifts o'God under fooit i' yer flaysome rages!
But I'm mista'en if ye shew yer sperrit lang. Will Hathecliff bide
sich bonny ways, think ye? I nobbut wish he may catch ye i' that
plisky. I nobbut wish he may.'
And so he went on scolding to his den beneath, taking the candle
with him; and I remained in the dark. The period of reflection
succeeding this silly action compelled me to admit the necessity of
smothering my pride and choking my wrath, and bestirring myself to
remove its effects. An unexpected aid presently appeared in the
shape of Throttler, whom I now recognised as a son of our old
Skulker: it had spent its whelphood at the Grange, and was given
by my father to Mr. Hindley. I fancy it knew me: it pushed its
nose against mine by way of salute, and then hastened to devour the
porridge; while I groped from step to step, collecting the
shattered earthenware, and drying the spatters of milk from the
banister with my pocket-handkerchief. Our labours were scarcely
over when I heard Earnshaw's tread in the passage; my assistant
tucked in his tail, and pressed to the wall; I stole into the
nearest doorway. The dog's endeavour to avoid him was
unsuccessful; as I guessed by a scutter down-stairs, and a
prolonged, piteous yelping. I had better luck: he passed on,
entered his chamber, and shut the door. Directly after Joseph came
up with Hareton, to put him to bed. I had found shelter in
Hareton's room, and the old man, on seeing me, said, - 'They's rahm
for boath ye un' yer pride, now, I sud think i' the hahse. It's
empty; ye may hev' it all to yerseln, un' Him as allus maks a
third, i' sich ill company!'
Gladly did I take advantage of this intimation; and the minute I
flung myself into a chair, by the fire, I nodded, and slept. My
slumber was deep and sweet, though over far too soon. Mr.
Heathcliff awoke me; he had just come in, and demanded, in his
loving manner, what I was doing there? I told him the cause of my
staying up so late - that he had the key of our room in his pocket.
The adjective OUR gave mortal offence. He swore it was not, nor
ever should be, mine; and he'd - but I'll not repeat his language,
nor describe his habitual conduct: he is ingenious and unresting
in seeking to gain my abhorrence! I sometimes wonder at him with
an intensity that deadens my fear: yet, I assure you, a tiger or a
venomous serpent could not rouse terror in me equal to that which
he wakens. He told me of Catherine's illness, and accused my
brother of causing it promising that I should be Edgar's proxy in
suffering, till he could get hold of him.
I do hate him - I am wretched - I have been a fool! Beware of
uttering one breath of this to any one at the Grange. I shall
expect you every day - don't disappoint me! - ISABELLA.
AS soon as I had perused this epistle I went to the master, and
informed him that his sister had arrived at the Heights, and sent
me a letter expressing her sorrow for Mrs. Linton's situation, and
her ardent desire to see him; with a wish that he would transmit to
her, as early as possible, some token of forgiveness by me.
'Forgiveness!' said Linton. 'I have nothing to forgive her, Ellen.
You may call at Wuthering Heights this afternoon, if you like, and
say that I am not angry, but I'm sorry to have lost her; especially
as I can never think she'll be happy. It is out of the question my
going to see her, however: we are eternally divided; and should
she really wish to oblige me, let her persuade the villain she has
married to leave the country.'
'And you won't write her a little note, sir?' I asked, imploringly.
'No,' he answered. 'It is needless. My communication with
Heathcliff's family shall be as sparing as his with mine. It shall
not exist!'
Mr. Edgar's coldness depressed me exceedingly; and all the way from
the Grange I puzzled my brains how to put more heart into what he
said, when I repeated it; and how to soften his refusal of even a
few lines to console Isabella. I daresay she had been on the watch
for me since morning: I saw her looking through the lattice as I
came up the garden causeway, and I nodded to her; but she drew
back, as if afraid of being observed. I entered without knocking.
There never was such a dreary, dismal scene as the formerly
cheerful house presented! I must confess, that if I had been in
the young lady's place, I would, at least, have swept the hearth,
and wiped the tables with a duster. But she already partook of the
pervading spirit of neglect which encompassed her. Her pretty face
was wan and listless; her hair uncurled: some locks hanging lankly
down, and some carelessly twisted round her head. Probably she had
not touched her dress since yester evening. Hindley was not there.
Mr. Heathcliff sat at a table, turning over some papers in his
pocket-book; but he rose when I appeared, asked me how I did, quite
friendly, and offered me a chair. He was the only thing there that
seemed decent; and I thought he never looked better. So much had
circumstances altered their positions, that he would certainly have
struck a stranger as a born and bred gentleman; and his wife as a
thorough little slattern! She came forward eagerly to greet me,
and held out one hand to take the expected letter. I shook my
head. She wouldn't understand the hint, but followed me to a
sideboard, where I went to lay my bonnet, and importuned me in a
whisper to give her directly what I had brought. Heathcliff
guessed the meaning of her manoeuvres, and said - 'If you have got
anything for Isabella (as no doubt you have, Nelly), give it to
her. You needn't make a secret of it: we have no secrets between
'Oh, I have nothing,' I replied, thinking it best to speak the
truth at once. 'My master bid me tell his sister that she must not
expect either a letter or a visit from him at present. He sends
his love, ma'am, and his wishes for your happiness, and his pardon
for the grief you have occasioned; but he thinks that after this
time his household and the household here should drop
intercommunication, as nothing could come of keeping it up.'
Mrs. Heathcliff's lip quivered slightly, and she returned to her
seat in the window. Her husband took his stand on the hearthstone,
near me, and began to put questions concerning Catherine. I told
him as much as I thought proper of her illness, and he extorted
from me, by cross-examination, most of the facts connected with its
origin. I blamed her, as she deserved, for bringing it all on
herself; and ended by hoping that he would follow Mr. Linton's
example and avoid future interference with his family, for good or
'Mrs. Linton is now just recovering,' I said; 'she'll never be like
she was, but her life is spared; and if you really have a regard
for her, you'll shun crossing her way again: nay, you'll move out
of this country entirely; and that you may not regret it, I'll
inform you Catherine Linton is as different now from your old
friend Catherine Earnshaw, as that young lady is different from me.
Her appearance is changed greatly, her character much more so; and
the person who is compelled, of necessity, to be her companion,
will only sustain his affection hereafter by the remembrance of
what she once was, by common humanity, and a sense of duty!'
'That is quite possible,' remarked Heathcliff, forcing himself to
seem calm: 'quite possible that your master should have nothing
but common humanity and a sense of duty to fall back upon. But do
you imagine that I shall leave Catherine to his DUTY and HUMANITY?
and can you compare my feelings respecting Catherine to his?
Before you leave this house, I must exact a promise from you that
you'll get me an interview with her: consent, or refuse, I WILL
see her! What do you say?'
'I say, Mr. Heathcliff,' I replied, 'you must not: you never
shall, through my means. Another encounter between you and the
master would kill her altogether.'
'With your aid that may be avoided,' he continued; 'and should
there be danger of such an event - should he be the cause of adding
a single trouble more to her existence - why, I think I shall be
justified in going to extremes! I wish you had sincerity enough to
tell me whether Catherine would suffer greatly from his loss: the
fear that she would restrains me. And there you see the
distinction between our feelings: had he been in my place, and I
in his, though I hated him with a hatred that turned my life to
gall, I never would have raised a hand against him. You may look
incredulous, if you please! I never would have banished him from
her society as long as she desired his. The moment her regard
ceased, I would have torn his heart out, and drunk his blood! But,
till then - if you don't believe me, you don't know me - till then,
I would have died by inches before I touched a single hair of his
'And yet,' I interrupted, 'you have no scruples in completely
ruining all hopes of her perfect restoration, by thrusting yourself
into her remembrance now, when she has nearly forgotten you, and
involving her in a new tumult of discord and distress.'
'You suppose she has nearly forgotten me?' he said. 'Oh, Nelly!
you know she has not! You know as well as I do, that for every
thought she spends on Linton she spends a thousand on me! At a
most miserable period of my life, I had a notion of the kind: it
haunted me on my return to the neighbourhood last summer; but only
her own assurance could make me admit the horrible idea again. And
then, Linton would be nothing, nor Hindley, nor all the dreams that
ever I dreamt. Two words would comprehend my future - DEATH and
HELL: existence, after losing her, would be hell. Yet I was a
fool to fancy for a moment that she valued Edgar Linton's
attachment more than mine. If he loved with all the powers of his
puny being, he couldn't love as much in eighty years as I could in
a day. And Catherine has a heart as deep as I have: the sea could
be as readily contained in that horse-trough as her whole affection
be monopolised by him. Tush! He is scarcely a degree dearer to
her than her dog, or her horse. It is not in him to be loved like
me: how can she love in him what he has not?'
'Catherine and Edgar are as fond of each other as any two people
can be,' cried Isabella, with sudden vivacity. 'No one has a right
to talk in that manner, and I won't hear my brother depreciated in
'Your brother is wondrous fond of you too, isn't he?' observed
Heathcliff, scornfully. 'He turns you adrift on the world with
surprising alacrity.'
'He is not aware of what I suffer,' she replied. 'I didn't tell
him that.'
'You have been telling him something, then: you have written, have
'To say that I was married, I did write - you saw the note.'
'And nothing since?'
'My young lady is looking sadly the worse for her change of
condition,' I remarked. 'Somebody's love comes short in her case,
obviously; whose, I may guess; but, perhaps, I shouldn't say.'
'I should guess it was her own,' said Heathcliff. 'She degenerates
into a mere slut! She is tired of trying to please me uncommonly
early. You'd hardly credit it, but the very morrow of our wedding
she was weeping to go home. However, she'll suit this house so
much the better for not being over nice, and I'll take care she
does not disgrace me by rambling abroad.'
'Well, sir,' returned I, 'I hope you'll consider that Mrs.
Heathcliff is accustomed to be looked after and waited on; and that
she has been brought up like an only daughter, whom every one was
ready to serve. You must let her have a maid to keep things tidy
about her, and you must treat her kindly. Whatever be your notion
of Mr. Edgar, you cannot doubt that she has a capacity for strong
attachments, or she wouldn't have abandoned the elegancies, and
comforts, and friends of her former home, to fix contentedly, in
such a wilderness as this, with you.'
'She abandoned them under a delusion,' he answered; 'picturing in
me a hero of romance, and expecting unlimited indulgences from my
chivalrous devotion. I can hardly regard her in the light of a
rational creature, so obstinately has she persisted in forming a
fabulous notion of my character and acting on the false impressions
she cherished. But, at last, I think she begins to know me: I
don't perceive the silly smiles and grimaces that provoked me at
first; and the senseless incapability of discerning that I was in
earnest when I gave her my opinion of her infatuation and herself.
It was a marvellous effort of perspicacity to discover that I did
not love her. I believed, at one time, no lessons could teach her
that! And yet it is poorly learnt; for this morning she announced,
as a piece of appalling intelligence, that I had actually succeeded
in making her hate me! A positive labour of Hercules, I assure
you! If it be achieved, I have cause to return thanks. Can I
trust your assertion, Isabella? Are you sure you hate me? If I
let you alone for half a day, won't you come sighing and wheedling
to me again? I daresay she would rather I had seemed all
tenderness before you: it wounds her vanity to have the truth
exposed. But I don't care who knows that the passion was wholly on
one side: and I never told her a lie about it. She cannot accuse
me of showing one bit of deceitful softness. The first thing she
saw me do, on coming out of the Grange, was to hang up her little
dog; and when she pleaded for it, the first words I uttered were a
wish that I had the hanging of every being belonging to her, except
one: possibly she took that exception for herself. But no
brutality disgusted her: I suppose she has an innate admiration of
it, if only her precious person were secure from injury! Now, was
it not the depth of absurdity - of genuine idiotcy, for that
pitiful, slavish, mean-minded brach to dream that I could love her?
Tell your master, Nelly, that I never, in all my life, met with
such an abject thing as she is. She even disgraces the name of
Linton; and I've sometimes relented, from pure lack of invention,
in my experiments on what she could endure, and still creep
shamefully cringing back! But tell him, also, to set his fraternal
and magisterial heart at ease: that I keep strictly within the
limits of the law. I have avoided, up to this period, giving her
the slightest right to claim a separation; and, what's more, she'd
thank nobody for dividing us. If she desired to go, she might:
the nuisance of her presence outweighs the gratification to be
derived from tormenting her!'
'Mr. Heathcliff,' said I, 'this is the talk of a madman; your wife,
most likely, is convinced you are mad; and, for that reason, she
has borne with you hitherto: but now that you say she may go,
she'll doubtless avail herself of the permission. You are not so
bewitched, ma'am, are you, as to remain with him of your own
'Take care, Ellen!' answered Isabella, her eyes sparkling irefully;
there was no misdoubting by their expression the full success of
her partner's endeavours to make himself detested. 'Don't put
faith in a single word he speaks. He's a lying fiend! a monster,
and not a human being! I've been told I might leave him before;
and I've made the attempt, but I dare not repeat it! Only, Ellen,
promise you'll not mention a syllable of his infamous conversation
to my brother or Catherine. Whatever he may pretend, he wishes to
provoke Edgar to desperation: he says he has married me on purpose
to obtain power over him; and he sha'n't obtain it - I'll die
first! I just hope, I pray, that he may forget his diabolical
prudence and kill me! The single pleasure I can imagine is to die,
or to see him dead!'
'There - that will do for the present!' said Heathcliff. 'If you
are called upon in a court of law, you'll remember her language,
Nelly! And take a good look at that countenance: she's near the
point which would suit me. No; you're not fit to be your own
guardian, Isabella, now; and I, being your legal protector, must
retain you in my custody, however distasteful the obligation may
be. Go up-stairs; I have something to say to Ellen Dean in
private. That's not the way: up-stairs, I tell you! Why, this is
the road upstairs, child!'
He seized, and thrust her from the room; and returned muttering -
'I have no pity! I have no pity! The more the worms writhe, the
more I yearn to crush out their entrails! It is a moral teething;
and I grind with greater energy in proportion to the increase of
'Do you understand what the word pity means?' I said, hastening to
resume my bonnet. 'Did you ever feel a touch of it in your life?'
'Put that down!' he interrupted, perceiving my intention to depart.
'You are not going yet. Come here now, Nelly: I must either
persuade or compel you to aid me in fulfilling my determination to
see Catherine, and that without delay. I swear that I meditate no
harm: I don't desire to cause any disturbance, or to exasperate or
insult Mr. Linton; I only wish to hear from herself how she is, and
why she has been ill; and to ask if anything that I could do would
be of use to her. Last night I was in the Grange garden six hours,
and I'll return there to-night; and every night I'll haunt the
place, and every day, till I find an opportunity of entering. If
Edgar Linton meets me, I shall not hesitate to knock him down, and
give him enough to insure his quiescence while I stay. If his
servants oppose me, I shall threaten them off with these pistols.
But wouldn't it be better to prevent my coming in contact with
them, or their master? And you could do it so easily. I'd warn
you when I came, and then you might let me in unobserved, as soon
as she was alone, and watch till I departed, your conscience quite
calm: you would be hindering mischief.'
I protested against playing that treacherous part in my employer's
house: and, besides, I urged the cruelty and selfishness of his
destroying Mrs. Linton's tranquillity for his satisfaction. 'The
commonest occurrence startles her painfully,' I said. 'She's all
nerves, and she couldn't bear the surprise, I'm positive. Don't
persist, sir! or else I shall be obliged to inform my master of
your designs; and he'll take measures to secure his house and its
inmates from any such unwarrantable intrusions!'
'In that case I'll take measures to secure you, woman!' exclaimed
Heathcliff; 'you shall not leave Wuthering Heights till to-morrow
morning. It is a foolish story to assert that Catherine could not
bear to see me; and as to surprising her, I don't desire it: you
must prepare her - ask her if I may come. You say she never
mentions my name, and that I am never mentioned to her. To whom
should she mention me if I am a forbidden topic in the house? She
thinks you are all spies for her husband. Oh, I've no doubt she's
in hell among you! I guess by her silence, as much as anything,
what she feels. You say she is often restless, and anxiouslooking:
is that a proof of tranquillity? You talk of her mind
being unsettled. How the devil could it be otherwise in her
frightful isolation? And that insipid, paltry creature attending
her from DUTY and HUMANITY! From PITY and CHARITY! He might as
well plant an oak in a flower-pot, and expect it to thrive, as
imagine he can restore her to vigour in the soil of his shallow
cares? Let us settle it at once: will you stay here, and am I to
fight my way to Catherine over Linton and his footman? Or will you
be my friend, as you have been hitherto, and do what I request?
Decide! because there is no reason for my lingering another minute,
if you persist in your stubborn ill-nature!'
Well, Mr. Lockwood, I argued and complained, and flatly refused him
fifty times; but in the long run he forced me to an agreement. I
engaged to carry a letter from him to my mistress; and should she
consent, I promised to let him have intelligence of Linton's next
absence from home, when he might come, and get in as he was able:
I wouldn't be there, and my fellow-servants should be equally out
of the way. Was it right or wrong? I fear it was wrong, though
expedient. I thought I prevented another explosion by my
compliance; and I thought, too, it might create a favourable crisis
in Catherine's mental illness: and then I remembered Mr. Edgar's
stern rebuke of my carrying tales; and I tried to smooth away all
disquietude on the subject, by affirming, with frequent iteration,
that that betrayal of trust, if it merited so harsh an appellation,
should be the last. Notwithstanding, my journey homeward was
sadder than my journey thither; and many misgivings I had, ere I
could prevail on myself to put the missive into Mrs. Linton's hand.
But here is Kenneth; I'll go down, and tell him how much better you
are. My history is DREE, as we say, and will serve to while away
another morning.
Dree, and dreary! I reflected as the good woman descended to
receive the doctor: and not exactly of the kind which I should
have chosen to amuse me. But never mind! I'll extract wholesome
medicines from Mrs. Dean's bitter herbs; and firstly, let me beware
of the fascination that lurks in Catherine Heathcliff's brilliant
eyes. I should be in a curious taking if I surrendered my heart to
that young person, and the daughter turned out a second edition of
the mother.
ANOTHER week over - and I am so many days nearer health, and
spring! I have now heard all my neighbour's history, at different
sittings, as the housekeeper could spare time from more important
occupations. I'll continue it in her own words, only a little
condensed. She is, on the whole, a very fair narrator, and I don't
think I could improve her style.
In the evening, she said, the evening of my visit to the Heights, I
knew, as well as if I saw him, that Mr. Heathcliff was about the
place; and I shunned going out, because I still carried his letter
in my pocket, and didn't want to be threatened or teased any more.
I had made up my mind not to give it till my master went somewhere,
as I could not guess how its receipt would affect Catherine. The
consequence was, that it did not reach her before the lapse of
three days. The fourth was Sunday, and I brought it into her room
after the family were gone to church. There was a manservant left
to keep the house with me, and we generally made a practice of
locking the doors during the hours of service; but on that occasion
the weather was so warm and pleasant that I set them wide open,
and, to fulfil my engagement, as I knew who would be coming, I told
my companion that the mistress wished very much for some oranges,
and he must run over to the village and get a few, to be paid for
on the morrow. He departed, and I went up-stairs.
Mrs. Linton sat in a loose white dress, with a light shawl over her
shoulders, in the recess of the open window, as usual. Her thick,
long hair had been partly removed at the beginning of her illness,
and now she wore it simply combed in its natural tresses over her
temples and neck. Her appearance was altered, as I had told
Heathcliff; but when she was calm, there seemed unearthly beauty in
the change. The flash of her eyes had been succeeded by a dreamy
and melancholy softness; they no longer gave the impression of
looking at the objects around her: they appeared always to gaze
beyond, and far beyond - you would have said out of this world.
Then, the paleness of her face - its haggard aspect having vanished
as she recovered flesh - and the peculiar expression arising from
her mental state, though painfully suggestive of their causes,
added to the touching interest which she awakened; and - invariably
to me, I know, and to any person who saw her, I should think -
refuted more tangible proofs of convalescence, and stamped her as
one doomed to decay.
A book lay spread on the sill before her, and the scarcely
perceptible wind fluttered its leaves at intervals. I believe
Linton had laid it there: for she never endeavoured to divert
herself with reading, or occupation of any kind, and he would spend
many an hour in trying to entice her attention to some subject
which had formerly been her amusement. She was conscious of his
aim, and in her better moods endured his efforts placidly, only
showing their uselessness by now and then suppressing a wearied
sigh, and checking him at last with the saddest of smiles and
kisses. At other times, she would turn petulantly away, and hide
her face in her hands, or even push him off angrily; and then he
took care to let her alone, for he was certain of doing no good.
Gimmerton chapel bells were still ringing; and the full, mellow
flow of the beck in the valley came soothingly on the ear. It was
a sweet substitute for the yet absent murmur of the summer foliage,
which drowned that music about the Grange when the trees were in
leaf. At Wuthering Heights it always sounded on quiet days
following a great thaw or a season of steady rain. And of
Wuthering Heights Catherine was thinking as she listened: that is,
if she thought or listened at all; but she had the vague, distant
look I mentioned before, which expressed no recognition of material
things either by ear or eye.
'There's a letter for you, Mrs. Linton,' I said, gently inserting
it in one hand that rested on her knee. 'You must read it
immediately, because it wants an answer. Shall I break the seal?'
'Yes,' she answered, without altering the direction of her eyes. I
opened it - it was very short. 'Now,' I continued, 'read it.' She
drew away her hand, and let it fall. I replaced it in her lap, and
stood waiting till it should please her to glance down; but that
movement was so long delayed that at last I resumed - 'Must I read
it, ma'am? It is from Mr. Heathcliff.'
There was a start and a troubled gleam of recollection, and a
struggle to arrange her ideas. She lifted the letter, and seemed
to peruse it; and when she came to the signature she sighed: yet
still I found she had not gathered its import, for, upon my
desiring to hear her reply, she merely pointed to the name, and
gazed at me with mournful and questioning eagerness.
'Well, he wishes to see you,' said I, guessing her need of an
interpreter. 'He's in the garden by this time, and impatient to
know what answer I shall bring.'
As I spoke, I observed a large dog lying on the sunny grass beneath
raise its ears as if about to bark, and then smoothing them back,
announce, by a wag of the tail, that some one approached whom it
did not consider a stranger. Mrs. Linton bent forward, and
listened breathlessly. The minute after a step traversed the hall;
the open house was too tempting for Heathcliff to resist walking
in: most likely he supposed that I was inclined to shirk my
promise, and so resolved to trust to his own audacity. With
straining eagerness Catherine gazed towards the entrance of her
chamber. He did not hit the right room directly: she motioned me
to admit him, but he found it out ere I could reach the door, and
in a stride or two was at her side, and had her grasped in his
He neither spoke nor loosed his hold for some five minutes, during
which period he bestowed more kisses than ever he gave in his life
before, I daresay: but then my mistress had kissed him first, and
I plainly saw that he could hardly bear, for downright agony, to
look into her face! The same conviction had stricken him as me,
from the instant he beheld her, that there was no prospect of
ultimate recovery there - she was fated, sure to die.
'Oh, Cathy! Oh, my life! how can I bear it?' was the first
sentence he uttered, in a tone that did not seek to disguise his
despair. And now he stared at her so earnestly that I thought the
very intensity of his gaze would bring tears into his eyes; but
they burned with anguish: they did not melt.
'What now?' said Catherine, leaning back, and returning his look
with a suddenly clouded brow: her humour was a mere vane for
constantly varying caprices. 'You and Edgar have broken my heart,
Heathcliff! And you both come to bewail the deed to me, as if you
were the people to be pitied! I shall not pity you, not I. You
have killed me - and thriven on it, I think. How strong you are!
How many years do you mean to live after I am gone?'
Heathcliff had knelt on one knee to embrace her; he attempted to
rise, but she seized his hair, and kept him down.
'I wish I could hold you,' she continued, bitterly, 'till we were
both dead! I shouldn't care what you suffered. I care nothing for
your sufferings. Why shouldn't you suffer? I do! Will you forget
me? Will you be happy when I am in the earth? Will you say twenty
years hence, "That's the grave of Catherine Earnshaw? I loved her
long ago, and was wretched to lose her; but it is past. I've loved
many others since: my children are dearer to me than she was; and,
at death, I shall not rejoice that I are going to her: I shall be
sorry that I must leave them!" Will you say so, Heathcliff?'
'Don't torture me till I'm as mad as yourself,' cried he, wrenching
his head free, and grinding his teeth.
The two, to a cool spectator, made a strange and fearful picture.
Well might Catherine deem that heaven would be a land of exile to
her, unless with her mortal body she cast away her moral character
also. Her present countenance had a wild vindictiveness in its
white cheek, and a bloodless lip and scintillating eye; and she
retained in her closed fingers a portion of the locks she had been
grasping. As to her companion, while raising himself with one
hand, he had taken her arm with the other; and so inadequate was
his stock of gentleness to the requirements of her condition, that
on his letting go I saw four distinct impressions left blue in the
colourless skin.
'Are you possessed with a devil,' he pursued, savagely, 'to talk in
that manner to me when you are dying? Do you reflect that all
those words will be branded in my memory, and eating deeper
eternally after you have left me? You know you lie to say I have
killed you: and, Catherine, you know that I could as soon forget
you as my existence! Is it not sufficient for your infernal
selfishness, that while you are at peace I shall writhe in the
torments of hell?'
'I shall not be at peace,' moaned Catherine, recalled to a sense of
physical weakness by the violent, unequal throbbing of her heart,
which beat visibly and audibly under this excess of agitation. She
said nothing further till the paroxysm was over; then she
continued, more kindly -
'I'm not wishing you greater torment than I have, Heathcliff. I
only wish us never to be parted: and should a word of mine
distress you hereafter, think I feel the same distress underground,
and for my own sake, forgive me! Come here and kneel down again!
You never harmed me in your life. Nay, if you nurse anger, that
will be worse to remember than my harsh words! Won't you come here
again? Do!'
Heathcliff went to the back of her chair, and leant over, but not
so far as to let her see his face, which was livid with emotion.
She bent round to look at him; he would not permit it: turning
abruptly, he walked to the fireplace, where he stood, silent, with
his back towards us. Mrs. Linton's glance followed him
suspiciously: every movement woke a new sentiment in her. After a
pause and a prolonged gaze, she resumed; addressing me in accents
of indignant disappointment:-
'Oh, you see, Nelly, he would not relent a moment to keep me out of
the grave. THAT is how I'm loved! Well, never mind. That is not
MY Heathcliff. I shall love mine yet; and take him with me: he's
in my soul. And,' added she musingly, 'the thing that irks me most
is this shattered prison, after all. I'm tired of being enclosed
here. I'm wearying to escape into that glorious world, and to be
always there: not seeing it dimly through tears, and yearning for
it through the walls of an aching heart: but really with it, and
in it. Nelly, you think you are better and more fortunate than I;
in full health and strength: you are sorry for me - very soon that
will be altered. I shall be sorry for YOU. I shall be
incomparably beyond and above you all. I WONDER he won't be near
me!' She went on to herself. 'I thought he wished it.
Heathcliff, dear! you should not be sullen now. Do come to me,
In her eagerness she rose and supported herself on the arm of the
chair. At that earnest appeal he turned to her, looking absolutely
desperate. His eyes, wide and wet, at last flashed fiercely on
her; his breast heaved convulsively. An instant they held asunder,
and then how they met I hardly saw, but Catherine made a spring,
and he caught her, and they were locked in an embrace from which I
thought my mistress would never be released alive: in fact, to my
eyes, she seemed directly insensible. He flung himself into the
nearest seat, and on my approaching hurriedly to ascertain if she
had fainted, he gnashed at me, and foamed like a mad dog, and
gathered her to him with greedy jealousy. I did not feel as if I
were in the company of a creature of my own species: it appeared
that he would not understand, though I spoke to him; so I stood
off, and held my tongue, in great perplexity.
A movement of Catherine's relieved me a little presently: she put
up her hand to clasp his neck, and bring her cheek to his as he
held her; while he, in return, covering her with frantic caresses,
said wildly -
'You teach me now how cruel you've been - cruel and false. WHY did
you despise me? WHY did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have
not one word of comfort. You deserve this. You have killed
yourself. Yes, you may kiss me, and cry; and wring out my kisses
and tears: they'll blight you - they'll damn you. You loved me -
then what RIGHT had you to leave me? What right - answer me - for
the poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery and
degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict
would have parted us, YOU, of your own will, did it. I have not
broken your heart - YOU have broken it; and in breaking it, you
have broken mine. So much the worse for me that I am strong. Do I
want to live? What kind of living will it be when you - oh, God!
would YOU like to live with your soul in the grave?'
'Let me alone. Let me alone,' sobbed Catherine. 'If I've done
wrong, I'm dying for it. It is enough! You left me too: but I
won't upbraid you! I forgive you. Forgive me!'
'It is hard to forgive, and to look at those eyes, and feel those
wasted hands,' he answered. 'Kiss me again; and don't let me see
your eyes! I forgive what you have done to me. I love MY murderer
- but YOURS! How can I?'
They were silent-their faces hid against each other, and washed by
each other's tears. At least, I suppose the weeping was on both
sides; as it seemed Heathcliff could weep on a great occasion like
I grew very uncomfortable, meanwhile; for the afternoon wore fast
away, the man whom I had sent off returned from his errand, and I
could distinguish, by the shine of the western sun up the valley, a
concourse thickening outside Gimmerton chapel porch.
'Service is over,' I announced. 'My master will be here in half an
Heathcliff groaned a curse, and strained Catherine closer: she
never moved.
Ere long I perceived a group of the servants passing up the road
towards the kitchen wing. Mr. Linton was not far behind; he opened
the gate himself and sauntered slowly up, probably enjoying the
lovely afternoon that breathed as soft as summer.
'Now he is here,' I exclaimed. 'For heaven's sake, hurry down!
You'll not meet any one on the front stairs. Do be quick; and stay
among the trees till he is fairly in.'
'I must go, Cathy,' said Heathcliff, seeking to extricate himself
from his companion's arms. 'But if I live, I'll see you again
before you are asleep. I won't stray five yards from your window.'
'You must not go!' she answered, holding him as firmly as her
strength allowed. 'You SHALL not, I tell you.'
'For one hour,' he pleaded earnestly.
'Not for one minute,' she replied.
'I MUST - Linton will be up immediately,' persisted the alarmed
He would have risen, and unfixed her fingers by the act - she clung
fast, gasping: there was mad resolution in her face.
'No!' she shrieked. 'Oh, don't, don't go. It is the last time!
Edgar will not hurt us. Heathcliff, I shall die! I shall die!'
'Damn the fool! There he is,' cried Heathcliff, sinking back into
his seat. 'Hush, my darling! Hush, hush, Catherine! I'll stay.
If he shot me so, I'd expire with a blessing on my lips.'
And there they were fast again. I heard my master mounting the
stairs - the cold sweat ran from my forehead: I was horrified.
'Are you going to listen to her ravings?' I said, passionately.
'She does not know what she says. Will you ruin her, because she
has not wit to help herself? Get up! You could be free instantly.
That is the most diabolical deed that ever you did. We are all
done for - master, mistress, and servant.'
I wrung my hands, and cried out; and Mr. Linton hastened his step
at the noise. In the midst of my agitation, I was sincerely glad
to observe that Catherine's arms had fallen relaxed, and her head
hung down.
'She's fainted, or dead,' I thought: 'so much the better. Far
better that she should be dead, than lingering a burden and a
misery-maker to all about her.'
Edgar sprang to his unbidden guest, blanched with astonishment and
rage. What he meant to do I cannot tell; however, the other
stopped all demonstrations, at once, by placing the lifelesslooking
form in his arms.
'Look there!' he said. 'Unless you be a fiend, help her first -
then you shall speak to me!'
He walked into the parlour, and sat down. Mr. Linton summoned me,
and with great difficulty, and after resorting to many means, we
managed to restore her to sensation; but she was all bewildered;
she sighed, and moaned, and knew nobody. Edgar, in his anxiety for
her, forgot her hated friend. I did not. I went, at the earliest
opportunity, and besought him to depart; affirming that Catherine
was better, and he should hear from me in the morning how she
passed the night.
'I shall not refuse to go out of doors,' he answered; 'but I shall
stay in the garden: and, Nelly, mind you keep your word to-morrow.
I shall be under those larch-trees. Mind! or I pay another visit,
whether Linton be in or not.'
He sent a rapid glance through the half-open door of the chamber,
and, ascertaining that what I stated was apparently true, delivered
the house of his luckless presence.
ABOUT twelve o'clock that night was born the Catherine you saw at
Wuthering Heights: a puny, seven-months' child; and two hours
after the mother died, having never recovered sufficient
consciousness to miss Heathcliff, or know Edgar. The latter's
distraction at his bereavement is a subject too painful to be dwelt
on; its after-effects showed how deep the sorrow sunk. A great
addition, in my eyes, was his being left without an heir. I
bemoaned that, as I gazed on the feeble orphan; and I mentally
abused old Linton for (what was only natural partiality) the
securing his estate to his own daughter, instead of his son's. An
unwelcomed infant it was, poor thing! It might have wailed out of
life, and nobody cared a morsel, during those first hours of
existence. We redeemed the neglect afterwards; but its beginning
was as friendless as its end is likely to be.
Next morning - bright and cheerful out of doors - stole softened in
through the blinds of the silent room, and suffused the couch and
its occupant with a mellow, tender glow. Edgar Linton had his head
laid on the pillow, and his eyes shut. His young and fair features
were almost as deathlike as those of the form beside him, and
almost as fixed: but HIS was the hush of exhausted anguish, and
HERS of perfect peace. Her brow smooth, her lids closed, her lips
wearing the expression of a smile; no angel in heaven could be more
beautiful than she appeared. And I partook of the infinite calm in
which she lay: my mind was never in a holier frame than while I
gazed on that untroubled image of Divine rest. I instinctively
echoed the words she had uttered a few hours before: 'Incomparably
beyond and above us all! Whether still on earth or now in heaven,
her spirit is at home with God!'
I don't know if it be a peculiarity in me, but I am seldom
otherwise than happy while watching in the chamber of death, should
no frenzied or despairing mourner share the duty with me. I see a
repose that neither earth nor hell can break, and I feel an
assurance of the endless and shadowless hereafter - the Eternity
they have entered - where life is boundless in its duration, and
love in its sympathy, and joy in its fulness. I noticed on that
occasion how much selfishness there is even in a love like Mr.
Linton's, when he so regretted Catherine's blessed release! To be
sure, one might have doubted, after the wayward and impatient
existence she had led, whether she merited a haven of peace at
last. One might doubt in seasons of cold reflection; but not then,
in the presence of her corpse. It asserted its own tranquillity,
which seemed a pledge of equal quiet to its former inhabitant.
Do you believe such people are happy in the other world, sir? I'd
give a great deal to know.
I declined answering Mrs. Dean's question, which struck me as
something heterodox. She proceeded:
Retracing the course of Catherine Linton, I fear we have no right
to think she is; but we'll leave her with her Maker.
The master looked asleep, and I ventured soon after sunrise to quit
the room and steal out to the pure refreshing air. The servants
thought me gone to shake off the drowsiness of my protracted watch;
in reality, my chief motive was seeing Mr. Heathcliff. If he had
remained among the larches all night, he would have heard nothing
of the stir at the Grange; unless, perhaps, he might catch the
gallop of the messenger going to Gimmerton. If he had come nearer,
he would probably be aware, from the lights flitting to and fro,
and the opening and shutting of the outer doors, that all was not
right within. I wished, yet feared, to find him. I felt the
terrible news must be told, and I longed to get it over; but how to
do it I did not know. He was there - at least, a few yards further
in the park; leant against an old ash-tree, his hat off, and his
hair soaked with the dew that had gathered on the budded branches,
and fell pattering round him. He had been standing a long time in
that position, for I saw a pair of ousels passing and repassing
scarcely three feet from him, busy in building their nest, and
regarding his proximity no more than that of a piece of timber.
They flew off at my approach, and he raised his eyes and spoke:-
'She's dead!' he said; 'I've not waited for you to learn that. Put
your handkerchief away - don't snivel before me. Damn you all! she
wants none of your tears!'
I was weeping as much for him as her: we do sometimes pity
creatures that have none of the feeling either for themselves or
others. When I first looked into his face, I perceived that he had
got intelligence of the catastrophe; and a foolish notion struck me
that his heart was quelled and he prayed, because his lips moved
and his gaze was bent on the ground.
'Yes, she's dead!' I answered, checking my sobs and drying my
cheeks. 'Gone to heaven, I hope; where we may, every one, join
her, if we take due warning and leave our evil ways to follow
'Did SHE take due warning, then?' asked Heathcliff, attempting a
sneer. 'Did she die like a saint? Come, give me a true history of
the event. How did - ?'
He endeavoured to pronounce the name, but could not manage it; and
compressing his mouth he held a silent combat with his inward
agony, defying, meanwhile, my sympathy with an unflinching,
ferocious stare. 'How did she die?' he resumed, at last - fain,
notwithstanding his hardihood, to have a support behind him; for,
after the struggle, he trembled, in spite of himself, to his very
'Poor wretch!' I thought; 'you have a heart and nerves the same as
your brother men! Why should you be anxious to conceal them? Your
pride cannot blind God! You tempt him to wring them, till he
forces a cry of humiliation.'
'Quietly as a lamb!' I answered, aloud. 'She drew a sigh, and
stretched herself, like a child reviving, and sinking again to
sleep; and five minutes after I felt one little pulse at her heart,
and nothing more!'
'And - did she ever mention me?' he asked, hesitating, as if he
dreaded the answer to his question would introduce details that he
could not bear to hear.
'Her senses never returned: she recognised nobody from the time
you left her,' I said. 'She lies with a sweet smile on her face;
and her latest ideas wandered back to pleasant early days. Her
life closed in a gentle dream - may she wake as kindly in the other
'May she wake in torment!' he cried, with frightful vehemence,
stamping his foot, and groaning in a sudden paroxysm of
ungovernable passion. 'Why, she's a liar to the end! Where is
she? Not THERE - not in heaven - not perished - where? Oh! you
said you cared nothing for my sufferings! And I pray one prayer -
I repeat it till my tongue stiffens - Catherine Earnshaw, may you
not rest as long as I am living; you said I killed you - haunt me,
then! The murdered DO haunt their murderers, I believe. I know
that ghosts HAVE wandered on earth. Be with me always - take any
form - drive me mad! only DO not leave me in this abyss, where I
cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I CANNOT live
without my life! I CANNOT live without my soul!'
He dashed his head against the knotted trunk; and, lifting up his
eyes, howled, not like a man, but like a savage beast being goaded
to death with knives and spears. I observed several splashes of
blood about the bark of the tree, and his hand and forehead were
both stained; probably the scene I witnessed was a repetition of
others acted during the night. It hardly moved my compassion - it
appalled me: still, I felt reluctant to quit him so. But the
moment he recollected himself enough to notice me watching, he
thundered a command for me to go, and I obeyed. He was beyond my
skill to quiet or console!
Mrs. Linton's funeral was appointed to take place on the Friday
following her decease; and till then her coffin remained uncovered,
and strewn with flowers and scented leaves, in the great drawingroom.
Linton spent his days and nights there, a sleepless
guardian; and - a circumstance concealed from all but me -
Heathcliff spent his nights, at least, outside, equally a stranger
to repose. I held no communication with him: still, I was
conscious of his design to enter, if he could; and on the Tuesday,
a little after dark, when my master, from sheer fatigue, had been
compelled to retire a couple of hours, I went and opened one of the
windows; moved by his perseverance to give him a chance of
bestowing on the faded image of his idol one final adieu. He did
not omit to avail himself of the opportunity, cautiously and
briefly; too cautiously to betray his presence by the slightest
noise. Indeed, I shouldn't have discovered that he had been there,
except for the disarrangement of the drapery about the corpse's
face, and for observing on the floor a curl of light hair, fastened
with a silver thread; which, on examination, I ascertained to have
been taken from a locket hung round Catherine's neck. Heathcliff
had opened the trinket and cast out its contents, replacing them by
a black lock of his own. I twisted the two, and enclosed them
Mr. Earnshaw was, of course, invited to attend the remains of his
sister to the grave; he sent no excuse, but he never came; so that,
besides her husband, the mourners were wholly composed of tenants
and servants. Isabella was not asked.
The place of Catherine's interment, to the surprise of the
villagers, was neither in the chapel under the carved monument of
the Lintons, nor yet by the tombs of her own relations, outside.
It was dug on a green slope in a corner of the kirk-yard, where the
wall is so low that heath and bilberry-plants have climbed over it
from the moor; and peat-mould almost buries it. Her husband lies
in the same spot now; and they have each a simple headstone above,
and a plain grey block at their feet, to mark the graves.
THAT Friday made the last of our fine days for a month. In the
evening the weather broke: the wind shifted from south to northeast,
and brought rain first, and then sleet and snow. On the
morrow one could hardly imagine that there had been three weeks of
summer: the primroses and crocuses were hidden under wintry
drifts; the larks were silent, the young leaves of the early trees
smitten and blackened. And dreary, and chill, and dismal, that
morrow did creep over! My master kept his room; I took possession
of the lonely parlour, converting it into a nursery: and there I
was, sitting with the moaning doll of a child laid on my knee;
rocking it to and fro, and watching, meanwhile, the still driving
flakes build up the uncurtained window, when the door opened, and
some person entered, out of breath and laughing! My anger was
greater than my astonishment for a minute. I supposed it one of
the maids, and I cried - 'Have done! How dare you show your
giddiness here; What would Mr. Linton say if he heard you?'
'Excuse me!' answered a familiar voice; 'but I know Edgar is in
bed, and I cannot stop myself.'
With that the speaker came forward to the fire, panting and holding
her hand to her side.
'I have run the whole way from Wuthering Heights!' she continued,
after a pause; 'except where I've flown. I couldn't count the
number of falls I've had. Oh, I'm aching all over! Don't be
alarmed! There shall be an explanation as soon as I can give it;
only just have the goodness to step out and order the carriage to
take me on to Gimmerton, and tell a servant to seek up a few
clothes in my wardrobe.'
The intruder was Mrs. Heathcliff. She certainly seemed in no
laughing predicament: her hair streamed on her shoulders, dripping
with snow and water; she was dressed in the girlish dress she
commonly wore, befitting her age more than her position: a low
frock with short sleeves, and nothing on either head or neck. The
frock was of light silk, and clung to her with wet, and her feet
were protected merely by thin slippers; add to this a deep cut
under one ear, which only the cold prevented from bleeding
profusely, a white face scratched and bruised, and a frame hardly
able to support itself through fatigue; and you may fancy my first
fright was not much allayed when I had had leisure to examine her.
'My dear young lady,' I exclaimed, 'I'll stir nowhere, and hear
nothing, till you have removed every article of your clothes, and
put on dry things; and certainly you shall not go to Gimmerton tonight,
so it is needless to order the carriage.'
'Certainly I shall,' she said; 'walking or riding: yet I've no
objection to dress myself decently. And - ah, see how it flows
down my neck now! The fire does make it smart.'
She insisted on my fulfilling her directions, before she would let
me touch her; and not till after the coachman had been instructed
to get ready, and a maid set to pack up some necessary attire, did
I obtain her consent for binding the wound and helping to change
her garments.
'Now, Ellen,' she said, when my task was finished and she was
seated in an easy-chair on the hearth, with a cup of tea before
her, 'you sit down opposite me, and put poor Catherine's baby away:
I don't like to see it! You mustn't think I care little for
Catherine, because I behaved so foolishly on entering: I've cried,
too, bitterly - yes, more than any one else has reason to cry. We
parted unreconciled, you remember, and I sha'n't forgive myself.
But, for all that, I was not going to sympathise with him - the
brute beast! Oh, give me the poker! This is the last thing of his
I have about me:' she slipped the gold ring from her third finger,
and threw it on the floor. 'I'll smash it!' she continued,
striking it with childish spite, 'and then I'll burn it!' and she
took and dropped the misused article among the coals. 'There! he
shall buy another, if he gets me back again. He'd be capable of
coming to seek me, to tease Edgar. I dare not stay, lest that
notion should possess his wicked head! And besides, Edgar has not
been kind, has he? And I won't come suing for his assistance; nor
will I bring him into more trouble. Necessity compelled me to seek
shelter here; though, if I had not learned he was out of the way,
I'd have halted at the kitchen, washed my face, warmed myself, got
you to bring what I wanted, and departed again to anywhere out of
the reach of my accursed - of that incarnate goblin! Ah, he was in
such a fury! If he had caught me! It's a pity Earnshaw is not his
match in strength: I wouldn't have run till I'd seen him all but
demolished, had Hindley been able to do it!'
'Well, don't talk so fast, Miss!' I interrupted; 'you'll disorder
the handkerchief I have tied round your face, and make the cut
bleed again. Drink your tea, and take breath, and give over
laughing: laughter is sadly out of place under this roof, and in
your condition!'
'An undeniable truth,' she replied. 'Listen to that child! It
maintains a constant wail - send it out of my hearing for an hour;
I sha'n't stay any longer.'
I rang the bell, and committed it to a servant's care; and then I
inquired what had urged her to escape from Wuthering Heights in
such an unlikely plight, and where she meant to go, as she refused
remaining with us.
'I ought, and I wished to remain,' answered she, 'to cheer Edgar
and take care of the baby, for two things, and because the Grange
is my right home. But I tell you he wouldn't let me! Do you think
he could bear to see me grow fat and merry - could bear to think
that we were tranquil, and not resolve on poisoning our comfort?
Now, I have the satisfaction of being sure that he detests me, to
the point of its annoying him seriously to have me within ear-shot
or eyesight: I notice, when I enter his presence, the muscles of
his countenance are involuntarily distorted into an expression of
hatred; partly arising from his knowledge of the good causes I have
to feel that sentiment for him, and partly from original aversion.
It is strong enough to make me feel pretty certain that he would
not chase me over England, supposing I contrived a clear escape;
and therefore I must get quite away. I've recovered from my first
desire to be killed by him: I'd rather he'd kill himself! He has
extinguished my love effectually, and so I'm at my ease. I can
recollect yet how I loved him; and can dimly imagine that I could
still be loving him, if - no, no! Even if he had doted on me, the
devilish nature would have revealed its existence somehow.
Catherine had an awfully perverted taste to esteem him so dearly,
knowing him so well. Monster! would that he could be blotted out
of creation, and out of my memory!'
'Hush, hush! He's a human being,' I said. 'Be more charitable:
there are worse men than he is yet!'
'He's not a human being,' she retorted; 'and he has no claim on my
charity. I gave him my heart, and he took and pinched it to death,
and flung it back to me. People feel with their hearts, Ellen:
and since he has destroyed mine, I have not power to feel for him:
and I would not, though he groaned from this to his dying day, and
wept tears of blood for Catherine! No, indeed, indeed, I
wouldn't!' And here Isabella began to cry; but, immediately
dashing the water from her lashes, she recommenced. 'You asked,
what has driven me to flight at last? I was compelled to attempt
it, because I had succeeded in rousing his rage a pitch above his
malignity. Pulling out the nerves with red hot pincers requires
more coolness than knocking on the head. He was worked up to
forget the fiendish prudence he boasted of, and proceeded to
murderous violence. I experienced pleasure in being able to
exasperate him: the sense of pleasure woke my instinct of selfpreservation,
so I fairly broke free; and if ever I come into his
hands again he is welcome to a signal revenge.
'Yesterday, you know, Mr. Earnshaw should have been at the funeral.
He kept himself sober for the purpose - tolerably sober: not going
to bed mad at six o'clock and getting up drunk at twelve.
Consequently, he rose, in suicidal low spirits, as fit for the
church as for a dance; and instead, he sat down by the fire and
swallowed gin or brandy by tumblerfuls.
'Heathcliff - I shudder to name him! has been a stranger in the
house from last Sunday till to-day. Whether the angels have fed
him, or his kin beneath, I cannot tell; but he has not eaten a meal
with us for nearly a week. He has just come home at dawn, and gone
up-stairs to his chamber; looking himself in - as if anybody dreamt
of coveting his company! There he has continued, praying like a
Methodist: only the deity he implored is senseless dust and ashes;
and God, when addressed, was curiously confounded with his own
black father! After concluding these precious orisons - and they
lasted generally till he grew hoarse and his voice was strangled in
his throat - he would be off again; always straight down to the
Grange! I wonder Edgar did not send for a constable, and give him
into custody! For me, grieved as I was about Catherine, it was
impossible to avoid regarding this season of deliverance from
degrading oppression as a holiday.
'I recovered spirits sufficient to bear Joseph's eternal lectures
without weeping, and to move up and down the house less with the
foot of a frightened thief than formerly. You wouldn't think that
I should cry at anything Joseph could say; but he and Hareton are
detestable companions. I'd rather sit with Hindley, and hear his
awful talk, than with "t' little maister" and his staunch
supporter, that odious old man! When Heathcliff is in, I'm often
obliged to seek the kitchen and their society, or starve among the
damp uninhabited chambers; when he is not, as was the case this
week, I establish a table and chair at one corner of the house
fire, and never mind how Mr. Earnshaw may occupy himself; and he
does not interfere with my arrangements. He is quieter now than he
used to be, if no one provokes him: more sullen and depressed, and
less furious. Joseph affirms he's sure he's an altered man: that
the Lord has touched his heart, and he is saved "so as by fire."
I'm puzzled to detect signs of the favourable change: but it is
not my business.
'Yester-evening I sat in my nook reading some old books till late
on towards twelve. It seemed so dismal to go up-stairs, with the
wild snow blowing outside, and my thoughts continually reverting to
the kirk-yard and the new-made grave! I dared hardly lift my eyes
from the page before me, that melancholy scene so instantly usurped
its place. Hindley sat opposite, his head leant on his hand;
perhaps meditating on the same subject. He had ceased drinking at
a point below irrationality, and had neither stirred nor spoken
during two or three hours. There was no sound through the house
but the moaning wind, which shook the windows every now and then,
the faint crackling of the coals, and the click of my snuffers as I
removed at intervals the long wick of the candle. Hareton and
Joseph were probably fast asleep in bed. It was very, very sad:
and while I read I sighed, for it seemed as if all joy had vanished
from the world, never to be restored.
'The doleful silence was broken at length by the sound of the
kitchen latch: Heathcliff had returned from his watch earlier than
usual; owing, I suppose, to the sudden storm. That entrance was
fastened, and we heard him coming round to get in by the other. I
rose with an irrepressible expression of what I felt on my lips,
which induced my companion, who had been staring towards the door,
to turn and look at me.
'"I'll keep him out five minutes," he exclaimed. "You won't
'"No, you may keep him out the whole night for me," I answered.
"Do! put the key in the look, and draw the bolts."
'Earnshaw accomplished this ere his guest reached the front; he
then came and brought his chair to the other side of my table,
leaning over it, and searching in my eyes for a sympathy with the
burning hate that gleamed from his: as he both looked and felt
like an assassin, he couldn't exactly find that; but he discovered
enough to encourage him to speak.
'"You, and I," he said, "have each a great debt to settle with the
man out yonder! If we were neither of us cowards, we might combine
to discharge it. Are you as soft as your brother? Are you willing
to endure to the last, and not once attempt a repayment?"
'"I'm weary of enduring now," I replied; "and I'd be glad of a
retaliation that wouldn't recoil on myself; but treachery and
violence are spears pointed at both ends; they wound those who
resort to them worse than their enemies."
'"Treachery and violence are a just return for treachery and
violence!" cried Hindley. "Mrs. Heathcliff, I'll ask you to do
nothing; but sit still and be dumb. Tell me now, can you? I'm
sure you would have as much pleasure as I in witnessing the
conclusion of the fiend's existence; he'll be YOUR death unless you
overreach him; and he'll be MY ruin. Damn the hellish villain! He
knocks at the door as if he were master here already! Promise to
hold your tongue, and before that clock strikes - it wants three
minutes of one - you're a free woman!"
'He took the implements which I described to you in my letter from
his breast, and would have turned down the candle. I snatched it
away, however, and seized his arm.
'"I'll not hold my tongue!" I said; "you mustn't touch him. Let
the door remain shut, and be quiet!"
'"No! I've formed my resolution, and by God I'll execute it!"
cried the desperate being. "I'll do you a kindness in spite of
yourself, and Hareton justice! And you needn't trouble your head
to screen me; Catherine is gone. Nobody alive would regret me, or
be ashamed, though I cut my throat this minute - and it's time to
make an end!"
'I might as well have struggled with a bear, or reasoned with a
lunatic. The only resource left me was to run to a lattice and
warn his intended victim of the fate which awaited him.
'"You'd better seek shelter somewhere else to-night!" I exclaimed,
in rather a triumphant tone. "Mr. Earnshaw has a mind to shoot
you, if you persist in endeavouring to enter."
'"You'd better open the door, you - " he answered, addressing me by
some elegant term that I don't care to repeat.
'"I shall not meddle in the matter," I retorted again. "Come in
and get shot, if you please. I've done my duty."
'With that I shut the window and returned to my place by the fire;
having too small a stock of hypocrisy at my command to pretend any
anxiety for the danger that menaced him. Earnshaw swore
passionately at me: affirming that I loved the villain yet; and
calling me all sorts of names for the base spirit I evinced. And
I, in my secret heart (and conscience never reproached me), thought
what a blessing it would be for HIM should Heathcliff put him out
of misery; and what a blessing for ME should he send Heathcliff to
his right abode! As I sat nursing these reflections, the casement
behind me was banged on to the floor by a blow from the latter
individual, and his black countenance looked blightingly through.
The stanchions stood too close to suffer his shoulders to follow,
and I smiled, exulting in my fancied security. His hair and
clothes were whitened with snow, and his sharp cannibal teeth,
revealed by cold and wrath, gleamed through the dark.
'"Isabella, let me in, or I'll make you repent!" he "girned," as
Joseph calls it.
'"I cannot commit murder," I replied. "Mr. Hindley stands sentinel
with a knife and loaded pistol."
'"Let me in by the kitchen door," he said.
'"Hindley will be there before me," I answered: "and that's a poor
love of yours that cannot bear a shower of snow! We were left at
peace in our beds as long as the summer moon shone, but the moment
a blast of winter returns, you must run for shelter! Heathcliff,
if I were you, I'd go stretch myself over her grave and die like a
faithful dog. The world is surely not worth living in now, is it?
You had distinctly impressed on me the idea that Catherine was the
whole joy of your life: I can't imagine how you think of surviving
her loss."
'"He's there, is he?" exclaimed my companion, rushing to the gap.
"If I can get my arm out I can hit him!"
'I'm afraid, Ellen, you'll set me down as really wicked; but you
don't know all, so don't judge. I wouldn't have aided or abetted
an attempt on even HIS life for anything. Wish that he were dead,
I must; and therefore I was fearfully disappointed, and unnerved by
terror for the consequences of my taunting speech, when he flung
himself on Earnshaw's weapon and wrenched it from his grasp.
'The charge exploded, and the knife, in springing back, closed into
its owner's wrist. Heathcliff pulled it away by main force,
slitting up the flesh as it passed on, and thrust it dripping into
his pocket. He then took a stone, struck down the division between
two windows, and sprang in. His adversary had fallen senseless
with excessive pain and the flow of blood, that gushed from an
artery or a large vein. The ruffian kicked and trampled on him,
and dashed his head repeatedly against the flags, holding me with
one hand, meantime, to prevent me summoning Joseph. He exerted
preterhuman self-denial in abstaining from finishing him
completely; but getting out of breath, he finally desisted, and
dragged the apparently inanimate body on to the settle. There he
tore off the sleeve of Earnshaw's coat, and bound up the wound with
brutal roughness; spitting and cursing during the operation as
energetically as he had kicked before. Being at liberty, I lost no
time in seeking the old servant; who, having gathered by degrees
the purport of my hasty tale, hurried below, gasping, as he
descended the steps two at once.
'"What is ther to do, now? what is ther to do, now?"
'"There's this to do," thundered Heathcliff, "that your master's
mad; and should he last another month, I'll have him to an asylum.
And how the devil did you come to fasten me out, you toothless
hound? Don't stand muttering and mumbling there. Come, I'm not
going to nurse him. Wash that stuff away; and mind the sparks of
your candle - it is more than half brandy!"
'"And so ye've been murthering on him?" exclaimed Joseph, lifting
his hands and eyes in horror. "If iver I seed a seeght loike this!
May the Lord - "
'Heathcliff gave him a push on to his knees in the middle of the
blood, and flung a towel to him; but instead of proceeding to dry
it up, he joined his hands and began a prayer, which excited my
laughter from its odd phraseology. I was in the condition of mind
to be shocked at nothing: in fact, I was as reckless as some
malefactors show themselves at the foot of the gallows.
'"Oh, I forgot you," said the tyrant. "You shall do that. Down
with you. And you conspire with him against me, do you, viper?
There, that is work fit for you!"
'He shook me till my teeth rattled, and pitched me beside Joseph,
who steadily concluded his supplications, and then rose, vowing he
would set off for the Grange directly. Mr. Linton was a
magistrate, and though he had fifty wives dead, he should inquire
into this. He was so obstinate in his resolution, that Heathcliff
deemed it expedient to compel from my lips a recapitulation of what
had taken place; standing over me, heaving with malevolence, as I
reluctantly delivered the account in answer to his questions. It
required a great deal of labour to satisfy the old man that
Heathcliff was not the aggressor; especially with my hardly-wrung
replies. However, Mr. Earnshaw soon convinced him that he was
alive still; Joseph hastened to administer a dose of spirits, and
by their succour his master presently regained motion and
consciousness. Heathcliff, aware that his opponent was ignorant of
the treatment received while insensible, called him deliriously
intoxicated; and said he should not notice his atrocious conduct
further, but advised him to get to bed. To my joy, he left us,
after giving this judicious counsel, and Hindley stretched himself
on the hearthstone. I departed to my own room, marvelling that I
had escaped so easily.
'This morning, when I came down, about half an hour before noon,
Mr. Earnshaw was sitting by the fire, deadly sick; his evil genius,
almost as gaunt and ghastly, leant against the chimney. Neither
appeared inclined to dine, and, having waited till all was cold on
the table, I commenced alone. Nothing hindered me from eating
heartily, and I experienced a certain sense of satisfaction and
superiority, as, at intervals, I cast a look towards my silent
companions, and felt the comfort of a quiet conscience within me.
After I had done, I ventured on the unusual liberty of drawing near
the fire, going round Earnshaw's seat, and kneeling in the corner
beside him.
'Heathcliff did not glance my way, and I gazed up, and contemplated
his features almost as confidently as if they had been turned to
stone. His forehead, that I once thought so manly, and that I now
think so diabolical, was shaded with a heavy cloud; his basilisk
eyes were nearly quenched by sleeplessness, and weeping, perhaps,
for the lashes were wet then: his lips devoid of their ferocious
sneer, and sealed in an expression of unspeakable sadness. Had it
been another, I would have covered my face in the presence of such
grief. In HIS case, I was gratified; and, ignoble as it seems to
insult a fallen enemy, I couldn't miss this chance of sticking in a
dart: his weakness was the only time when I could taste the
delight of paying wrong for wrong.'
'Fie, fie, Miss!' I interrupted. 'One might suppose you had never
opened a Bible in your life. If God afflict your enemies, surely
that ought to suffice you. It is both mean and presumptuous to add
your torture to his!'
'In general I'll allow that it would be, Ellen,' she continued;
'but what misery laid on Heathcliff could content me, unless I have
a hand in it? I'd rather he suffered less, if I might cause his
sufferings and he might KNOW that I was the cause. Oh, I owe him
so much. On only one condition can I hope to forgive him. It is,
if I may take an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; for every
wrench of agony return a wrench: reduce him to my level. As he
was the first to injure, make him the first to implore pardon; and
then - why then, Ellen, I might show you some generosity. But it
is utterly impossible I can ever be revenged, and therefore I
cannot forgive him. Hindley wanted some water, and I handed him a
glass, and asked him how he was.
'"Not as ill as I wish," he replied. "But leaving out my arm,
every inch of me is as sore as if I had been fighting with a legion
of imps!"
'"Yes, no wonder," was my next remark. "Catherine used to boast
that she stood between you and bodily harm: she meant that certain
persons would not hurt you for fear of offending her. It's well
people don't REALLY rise from their grave, or, last night, she
might have witnessed a repulsive scene! Are not you bruised, and
cut over your chest and shoulders?"
'"I can't say," he answered, "but what do you mean? Did he dare to
strike me when I was down?"
'"He trampled on and kicked you, and dashed you on the ground," I
whispered. "And his mouth watered to tear you with his teeth;
because he's only half man: not so much, and the rest fiend."
'Mr. Earnshaw looked up, like me, to the countenance of our mutual
foe; who, absorbed in his anguish, seemed insensible to anything
around him: the longer he stood, the plainer his reflections
revealed their blackness through his features.
'"Oh, if God would but give me strength to strangle him in my last
agony, I'd go to hell with joy," groaned the impatient man,
writhing to rise, and sinking back in despair, convinced of his
inadequacy for the struggle.
'"Nay, it's enough that he has murdered one of you," I observed
aloud. "At the Grange, every one knows your sister would have been
living now had it not been for Mr. Heathcliff. After all, it is
preferable to be hated than loved by him. When I recollect how
happy we were - how happy Catherine was before he came - I'm fit to
curse the day."
'Most likely, Heathcliff noticed more the truth of what was said,
than the spirit of the person who said it. His attention was
roused, I saw, for his eyes rained down tears among the ashes, and
he drew his breath in suffocating sighs. I stared full at him, and
laughed scornfully. The clouded windows of hell flashed a moment
towards me; the fiend which usually looked out, however, was so
dimmed and drowned that I did not fear to hazard another sound of
'"Get up, and begone out of my sight," said the mourner.
'I guessed he uttered those words, at least, though his voice was
hardly intelligible.
'"I beg your pardon," I replied. "But I loved Catherine too; and
her brother requires attendance, which, for her sake, I shall
supply. Now, that she's dead, I see her in Hindley: Hindley has
exactly her eyes, if you had not tried to gouge them out, and made
them black and red; and her - "
'"Get up, wretched idiot, before I stamp you to death!" he cried,
making a movement that caused me to make one also.
'"But then," I continued, holding myself ready to flee, "if poor
Catherine had trusted you, and assumed the ridiculous,
contemptible, degrading title of Mrs. Heathcliff, she would soon
have presented a similar picture! SHE wouldn't have borne your
abominable behaviour quietly: her detestation and disgust must
have found voice."
'The back of the settle and Earnshaw's person interposed between me
and him; so instead of endeavouring to reach me, he snatched a
dinner-knife from the table and flung it at my head. It struck
beneath my ear, and stopped the sentence I was uttering; but,
pulling it out, I sprang to the door and delivered another; which I
hope went a little deeper than his missile. The last glimpse I
caught of him was a furious rush on his part, checked by the
embrace of his host; and both fell locked together on the hearth.
In my flight through the kitchen I bid Joseph speed to his master;
I knocked over Hareton, who was hanging a litter of puppies from a
chair-back in the doorway; and, blessed as a soul escaped from
purgatory, I bounded, leaped, and flew down the steep road; then,
quitting its windings, shot direct across the moor, rolling over
banks, and wading through marshes: precipitating myself, in fact,
towards the beacon-light of the Grange. And far rather would I be
condemned to a perpetual dwelling in the infernal regions than,
even for one night, abide beneath the roof of Wuthering Heights
Isabella ceased speaking, and took a drink of tea; then she rose,
and bidding me put on her bonnet, and a great shawl I had brought,
and turning a deaf ear to my entreaties for her to remain another
hour, she stepped on to a chair, kissed Edgar's and Catherine's
portraits, bestowed a similar salute on me, and descended to the
carriage, accompanied by Fanny, who yelped wild with joy at
recovering her mistress. She was driven away, never to revisit
this neighbourhood: but a regular correspondence was established
between her and my master when things were more settled. I believe
her new abode was in the south, near London; there she had a son
born a few months subsequent to her escape. He was christened
Linton, and, from the first, she reported him to be an ailing,
peevish creature.
Mr. Heathcliff, meeting me one day in the village, inquired where
she lived. I refused to tell. He remarked that it was not of any
moment, only she must beware of coming to her brother: she should
not be with him, if he had to keep her himself. Though I would
give no information, he discovered, through some of the other
servants, both her place of residence and the existence of the
child. Still, he didn't molest her: for which forbearance she
might thank his aversion, I suppose. He often asked about the
infant, when he saw me; and on hearing its name, smiled grimly, and
observed: 'They wish me to hate it too, do they?'
'I don't think they wish you to know anything about it,' I
'But I'll have it,' he said, 'when I want it. They may reckon on
Fortunately its mother died before the time arrived; some thirteen
years after the decease of Catherine, when Linton was twelve, or a
little more.
On the day succeeding Isabella's unexpected visit I had no
opportunity of speaking to my master: he shunned conversation, and
was fit for discussing nothing. When I could get him to listen, I
saw it pleased him that his sister had left her husband; whom he
abhorred with an intensity which the mildness of his nature would
scarcely seem to allow. So deep and sensitive was his aversion,
that he refrained from going anywhere where he was likely to see or
hear of Heathcliff. Grief, and that together, transformed him into
a complete hermit: he threw up his office of magistrate, ceased
even to attend church, avoided the village on all occasions, and
spent a life of entire seclusion within the limits of his park and
grounds; only varied by solitary rambles on the moors, and visits
to the grave of his wife, mostly at evening, or early morning
before other wanderers were abroad. But he was too good to be
thoroughly unhappy long. HE didn't pray for Catherine's soul to
haunt him. Time brought resignation, and a melancholy sweeter than
common joy. He recalled her memory with ardent, tender love, and
hopeful aspiring to the better world; where he doubted not she was
And he had earthly consolation and affections also. For a few
days, I said, he seemed regardless of the puny successor to the
departed: that coldness melted as fast as snow in April, and ere
the tiny thing could stammer a word or totter a step it wielded a
despot's sceptre in his heart. It was named Catherine; but he
never called it the name in full, as he had never called the first
Catherine short: probably because Heathcliff had a habit of doing
so. The little one was always Cathy: it formed to him a
distinction from the mother, and yet a connection with her; and his
attachment sprang from its relation to her, far more than from its
being his own.
I used to draw a comparison between him and Hindley Earnshaw, and
perplex myself to explain satisfactorily why their conduct was so
opposite in similar circumstances. They had both been fond
husbands, and were both attached to their children; and I could not
see how they shouldn't both have taken the same road, for good or
evil. But, I thought in my mind, Hindley, with apparently the
stronger head, has shown himself sadly the worse and the weaker
man. When his ship struck, the captain abandoned his post; and the
crew, instead of trying to save her, rushed into riot and
confusion, leaving no hope for their luckless vessel. Linton, on
the contrary, displayed the true courage of a loyal and faithful
soul: he trusted God; and God comforted him. One hoped, and the
other despaired: they chose their own lots, and were righteously
doomed to endure them. But you'll not want to hear my moralising,
Mr. Lockwood; you'll judge, as well as I can, all these things: at
least, you'll think you will, and that's the same. The end of
Earnshaw was what might have been expected; it followed fast on his
sister's: there were scarcely six months between them. We, at the
Grange, never got a very succinct account of his state preceding
it; all that I did learn was on occasion of going to aid in the
preparations for the funeral. Mr. Kenneth came to announce the
event to my master.
'Well, Nelly,' said he, riding into the yard one morning, too early
not to alarm me with an instant presentiment of bad news, 'it's
yours and my turn to go into mourning at present. Who's given us
the slip now, do you think?'
'Who?' I asked in a flurry.
'Why, guess!' he returned, dismounting, and slinging his bridle on
a hook by the door. 'And nip up the corner of your apron: I'm
certain you'll need it.'
'Not Mr. Heathcliff, surely?' I exclaimed.
'What! would you have tears for him?' said the doctor. 'No,
Heathcliff's a tough young fellow: he looks blooming to-day. I've
just seen him. He's rapidly regaining flesh since he lost his
better half.'
'Who is it, then, Mr. Kenneth?' I repeated impatiently.
'Hindley Earnshaw! Your old friend Hindley,' he replied, 'and my
wicked gossip: though he's been too wild for me this long while.
There! I said we should draw water. But cheer up! He died true
to his character: drunk as a lord. Poor lad! I'm sorry, too.
One can't help missing an old companion: though he had the worst
tricks with him that ever man imagined, and has done me many a
rascally turn. He's barely twenty-seven, it seems; that's your own
age: who would have thought you were born in one year?'
I confess this blow was greater to me than the shock of Mrs.
Linton's death: ancient associations lingered round my heart; I
sat down in the porch and wept as for a blood relation, desiring
Mr. Kenneth to get another servant to introduce him to the master.
I could not hinder myself from pondering on the question - 'Had he
had fair play?' Whatever I did, that idea would bother me: it was
so tiresomely pertinacious that I resolved on requesting leave to
go to Wuthering Heights, and assist in the last duties to the dead.
Mr. Linton was extremely reluctant to consent, but I pleaded
eloquently for the friendless condition in which he lay; and I said
my old master and foster-brother had a claim on my services as
strong as his own. Besides, I reminded him that the child Hareton
was his wife's nephew, and, in the absence of nearer kin, he ought
to act as its guardian; and he ought to and must inquire how the
property was left, and look over the concerns of his brother-inlaw.
He was unfit for attending to such matters then, but he bid
me speak to his lawyer; and at length permitted me to go. His
lawyer had been Earnshaw's also: I called at the village, and
asked him to accompany me. He shook his head, and advised that
Heathcliff should be let alone; affirming, if the truth were known,
Hareton would be found little else than a beggar.
'His father died in debt,' he said; 'the whole property is
mortgaged, and the sole chance for the natural heir is to allow him
an opportunity of creating some interest in the creditor's heart,
that he may be inclined to deal leniently towards him.'
When I reached the Heights, I explained that I had come to see
everything carried on decently; and Joseph, who appeared in
sufficient distress, expressed satisfaction at my presence. Mr.
Heathcliff said he did not perceive that I was wanted; but I might
stay and order the arrangements for the funeral, if I chose.
'Correctly,' he remarked, 'that fool's body should he buried at the
cross-roads, without ceremony of any kind. I happened to leave him
ten minutes yesterday afternoon, and in that interval he fastened
the two doors of the house against me, and he has spent the night
in drinking himself to death deliberately! We broke in this
morning, for we heard him sporting like a horse; and there he was,
laid over the settle: flaying and scalping would not have wakened
him. I sent for Kenneth, and he came; but not till the beast had
changed into carrion: he was both dead and cold, and stark; and so
you'll allow it was useless making more stir about him!'
The old servant confirmed this statement, but muttered:
'I'd rayther he'd goan hisseln for t' doctor! I sud ha,' taen tent
o' t' maister better nor him - and he warn't deead when I left,
naught o' t' soart!'
I insisted on the funeral being respectable. Mr. Heathcliff said I
might have my own way there too: only, he desired me to remember
that the money for the whole affair came out of his pocket. He
maintained a hard, careless deportment, indicative of neither joy
nor sorrow: if anything, it expressed a flinty gratification at a
piece of difficult work successfully executed. I observed once,
indeed, something like exultation in his aspect: it was just when
the people were bearing the coffin from the house. He had the
hypocrisy to represent a mourner: and previous to following with
Hareton, he lifted the unfortunate child on to the table and
muttered, with peculiar gusto, 'Now, my bonny lad, you are MINE!
And we'll see if one tree won't grow as crooked as another, with
the same wind to twist it!' The unsuspecting thing was pleased at
this speech: he played with Heathcliff's whiskers, and stroked his
cheek; but I divined its meaning, and observed tartly, 'That boy
must go back with me to Thrushcross Grange, sir. There is nothing
in the world less yours than he is!'
'Does Linton say so?' he demanded.
'Of course - he has ordered me to take him,' I replied.
'Well,' said the scoundrel, 'we'll not argue the subject now: but
I have a fancy to try my hand at rearing a young one; so intimate
to your master that I must supply the place of this with my own, if
he attempt to remove it. I don't engage to let Hareton go
undisputed; but I'll be pretty sure to make the other come!
Remember to tell him.'
This hint was enough to bind our hands. I repeated its substance
on my return; and Edgar Linton, little interested at the
commencement, spoke no more of interfering. I'm not aware that he
could have done it to any purpose, had he been ever so willing.
The guest was now the master of Wuthering Heights: he held firm
possession, and proved to the attorney - who, in his turn, proved
it to Mr. Linton - that Earnshaw had mortgaged every yard of land
he owned for cash to supply his mania for gaming; and he,
Heathcliff, was the mortgagee. In that manner Hareton, who should
now be the first gentleman in the neighbourhood, was reduced to a
state of complete dependence on his father's inveterate enemy; and
lives in his own house as a servant, deprived of the advantage of
wages: quite unable to right himself, because of his
friendlessness, and his ignorance that he has been wronged.
THE twelve years, continued Mrs. Dean, following that dismal period
were the happiest of my life: my greatest troubles in their
passage rose from our little lady's trifling illnesses, which she
had to experience in common with all children, rich and poor. For
the rest, after the first six months, she grew like a larch, and
could walk and talk too, in her own way, before the heath blossomed
a second time over Mrs. Linton's dust. She was the most winning
thing that ever brought sunshine into a desolate house: a real
beauty in face, with the Earnshaws' handsome dark eyes, but the
Lintons' fair skin and small features, and yellow curling hair.
Her spirit was high, though not rough, and qualified by a heart
sensitive and lively to excess in its affections. That capacity
for intense attachments reminded me of her mother: still she did
not resemble her: for she could be soft and mild as a dove, and
she had a gentle voice and pensive expression: her anger was never
furious; her love never fierce: it was deep and tender. However,
it must be acknowledged, she had faults to foil her gifts. A
propensity to be saucy was one; and a perverse will, that indulged
children invariably acquire, whether they be good tempered or
cross. If a servant chanced to vex her, it was always - 'I shall
tell papa!' And if he reproved her, even by a look, you would have
thought it a heart-breaking business: I don't believe he ever did
speak a harsh word to her. He took her education entirely on
himself, and made it an amusement. Fortunately, curiosity and a
quick intellect made her an apt scholar: she learned rapidly and
eagerly, and did honour to his teaching.
Till she reached the age of thirteen she had not once been beyond
the range of the park by herself. Mr. Linton would take her with
him a mile or so outside, on rare occasions; but he trusted her to
no one else. Gimmerton was an unsubstantial name in her ears; the
chapel, the only building she had approached or entered, except her
own home. Wuthering Heights and Mr. Heathcliff did not exist for
her: she was a perfect recluse; and, apparently, perfectly
contented. Sometimes, indeed, while surveying the country from her
nursery window, she would observe -
'Ellen, how long will it be before I can walk to the top of those
hills? I wonder what lies on the other side - is it the sea?'
'No, Miss Cathy,' I would answer; 'it is hills again, just like
'And what are those golden rocks like when you stand under them?'
she once asked.
The abrupt descent of Penistone Crags particularly attracted her
notice; especially when the setting sun shone on it and the topmost
heights, and the whole extent of landscape besides lay in shadow.
I explained that they were bare masses of stone, with hardly enough
earth in their clefts to nourish a stunted tree.
'And why are they bright so long after it is evening here?' she
'Because they are a great deal higher up than we are,' replied I;
'you could not climb them, they are too high and steep. In winter
the frost is always there before it comes to us; and deep into
summer I have found snow under that black hollow on the north-east
'Oh, you have been on them!' she cried gleefully. 'Then I can go,
too, when I am a woman. Has papa been, Ellen?'
'Papa would tell you, Miss,' I answered, hastily, 'that they are
not worth the trouble of visiting. The moors, where you ramble
with him, are much nicer; and Thrushcross Park is the finest place
in the world.'
'But I know the park, and I don't know those,' she murmured to
herself. 'And I should delight to look round me from the brow of
that tallest point: my little pony Minny shall take me some time.'
One of the maids mentioning the Fairy Cave, quite turned her head
with a desire to fulfil this project: she teased Mr. Linton about
it; and he promised she should have the journey when she got older.
But Miss Catherine measured her age by months, and, 'Now, am I old
enough to go to Penistone Crags?' was the constant question in her
mouth. The road thither wound close by Wuthering Heights. Edgar
had not the heart to pass it; so she received as constantly the
answer, 'Not yet, love: not yet.'
I said Mrs. Heathcliff lived above a dozen years after quitting her
husband. Her family were of a delicate constitution: she and
Edgar both lacked the ruddy health that you will generally meet in
these parts. What her last illness was, I am not certain: I
conjecture, they died of the same thing, a kind of fever, slow at
its commencement, but incurable, and rapidly consuming life towards
the close. She wrote to inform her brother of the probable
conclusion of a four-months' indisposition under which she had
suffered, and entreated him to come to her, if possible; for she
had much to settle, and she wished to bid him adieu, and deliver
Linton safely into his hands. Her hope was that Linton might be
left with him, as he had been with her: his father, she would fain
convince herself, had no desire to assume the burden of his
maintenance or education. My master hesitated not a moment in
complying with her request: reluctant as he was to leave home at
ordinary calls, he flew to answer this; commanding Catherine to my
peculiar vigilance, in his absence, with reiterated orders that she
must not wander out of the park, even under my escort he did not
calculate on her going unaccompanied.
He was away three weeks. The first day or two my charge sat in a
corner of the library, too sad for either reading or playing: in
that quiet state she caused me little trouble; but it was succeeded
by an interval of impatient, fretful weariness; and being too busy,
and too old then, to run up and down amusing her, I hit on a method
by which she might entertain herself. I used to send her on her
travels round the grounds - now on foot, and now on a pony;
indulging her with a patient audience of all her real and imaginary
adventures when she returned.
The summer shone in full prime; and she took such a taste for this
solitary rambling that she often contrived to remain out from
breakfast till tea; and then the evenings were spent in recounting
her fanciful tales. I did not fear her breaking bounds; because
the gates were generally looked, and I thought she would scarcely
venture forth alone, if they had stood wide open. Unluckily, my
confidence proved misplaced. Catherine came to me, one morning, at
eight o'clock, and said she was that day an Arabian merchant, going
to cross the Desert with his caravan; and I must give her plenty of
provision for herself and beasts: a horse, and three camels,
personated by a large hound and a couple of pointers. I got
together good store of dainties, and slung them in a basket on one
side of the saddle; and she sprang up as gay as a fairy, sheltered
by her wide-brimmed hat and gauze veil from the July sun, and
trotted off with a merry laugh, mocking my cautious counsel to
avoid galloping, and come back early. The naughty thing never made
her appearance at tea. One traveller, the hound, being an old dog
and fond of its ease, returned; but neither Cathy, nor the pony,
nor the two pointers were visible in any direction: I despatched
emissaries down this path, and that path, and at last went
wandering in search of her myself. There was a labourer working at
a fence round a plantation, on the borders of the grounds. I
inquired of him if he had seen our young lady.
'I saw her at morn,' he replied: 'she would have me to cut her a
hazel switch, and then she leapt her Galloway over the hedge
yonder, where it is lowest, and galloped out of sight.'
You may guess how I felt at hearing this news. It struck me
directly she must have started for Penistone Crags. 'What will
become of her?' I ejaculated, pushing through a gap which the man
was repairing, and making straight to the high-road. I walked as
if for a wager, mile after mile, till a turn brought me in view of
the Heights; but no Catherine could I detect, far or near. The
Crags lie about a mile and a half beyond Mr. Heathcliff's place,
and that is four from the Grange, so I began to fear night would
fall ere I could reach them. 'And what if she should have slipped
in clambering among them,' I reflected, 'and been killed, or broken
some of her bones?' My suspense was truly painful; and, at first,
it gave me delightful relief to observe, in hurrying by the
farmhouse, Charlie, the fiercest of the pointers, lying under a
window, with swelled head and bleeding ear. I opened the wicket
and ran to the door, knocking vehemently for admittance. A woman
whom I knew, and who formerly lived at Gimmerton, answered: she
had been servant there since the death of Mr. Earnshaw.
'Ah,' said she, 'you are come a-seeking your little mistress!
Don't be frightened. She's here safe: but I'm glad it isn't the
'He is not at home then, is he?' I panted, quite breathless with
quick walking and alarm.
'No, no,' she replied: 'both he and Joseph are off, and I think
they won't return this hour or more. Step in and rest you a bit.'
I entered, and beheld my stray lamb seated on the hearth, rocking
herself in a little chair that had been her mother's when a child.
Her hat was hung against the wall, and she seemed perfectly at
home, laughing and chattering, in the best spirits imaginable, to
Hareton - now a great, strong lad of eighteen - who stared at her
with considerable curiosity and astonishment: comprehending
precious little of the fluent succession of remarks and questions
which her tongue never ceased pouring forth.
'Very well, Miss!' I exclaimed, concealing my joy under an angry
countenance. 'This is your last ride, till papa comes back. I'll
not trust you over the threshold again, you naughty, naughty girl!'
'Aha, Ellen!' she cried, gaily, jumping up and running to my side.
'I shall have a pretty story to tell to-night; and so you've found
me out. Have you ever been here in your life before?'
'Put that hat on, and home at once,' said I. 'I'm dreadfully
grieved at you, Miss Cathy: you've done extremely wrong! It's no
use pouting and crying: that won't repay the trouble I've had,
scouring the country after you. To think how Mr. Linton charged me
to keep you in; and you stealing off so! It shows you are a
cunning little fox, and nobody will put faith in you any more.'
'What have I done?' sobbed she, instantly checked. 'Papa charged
me nothing: he'll not scold me, Ellen - he's never cross, like
'Come, come!' I repeated. 'I'll tie the riband. Now, let us have
no petulance. Oh, for shame! You thirteen years old, and such a
This exclamation was caused by her pushing the hat from her head,
and retreating to the chimney out of my reach.
'Nay,' said the servant, 'don't be hard on the bonny lass, Mrs.
Dean. We made her stop: she'd fain have ridden forwards, afeard
you should be uneasy. Hareton offered to go with her, and I
thought he should: it's a wild road over the hills.'
Hareton, during the discussion, stood with his hands in his
pockets, too awkward to speak; though he looked as if he did not
relish my intrusion.
'How long am I to wait?' I continued, disregarding the woman's
interference. 'It will be dark in ten minutes. Where is the pony,
Miss Cathy? And where is Phoenix? I shall leave you, unless you
be quick; so please yourself.'
'The pony is in the yard,' she replied, 'and Phoenix is shut in
there. He's bitten - and so is Charlie. I was going to tell you
all about it; but you are in a bad temper, and don't deserve to
I picked up her hat, and approached to reinstate it; but perceiving
that the people of the house took her part, she commenced capering
round the room; and on my giving chase, ran like a mouse over and
under and behind the furniture, rendering it ridiculous for me to
pursue. Hareton and the woman laughed, and she joined them, and
waxed more impertinent still; till I cried, in great irritation, -
'Well, Miss Cathy, if you were aware whose house this is you'd be
glad enough to get out.'
'It's YOUR father's, isn't it?' said she, turning to Hareton.
'Nay,' he replied, looking down, and blushing bashfully.
He could not stand a steady gaze from her eyes, though they were
just his own.
'Whose then - your master's?' she asked.
He coloured deeper, with a different feeling, muttered an oath, and
turned away.
'Who is his master?' continued the tiresome girl, appealing to me.
'He talked about "our house," and "our folk." I thought he had
been the owner's son. And he never said Miss: he should have
done, shouldn't he, if he's a servant?'
Hareton grew black as a thunder-cloud at this childish speech. I
silently shook my questioner, and at last succeeded in equipping
her for departure.
'Now, get my horse,' she said, addressing her unknown kinsman as
she would one of the stable-boys at the Grange. 'And you may come
with me. I want to see where the goblin-hunter rises in the marsh,
and to hear about the FAIRISHES, as you call them: but make haste!
What's the matter? Get my horse, I say.'
'I'll see thee damned before I be THY servant!' growled the lad.
"You'll see me WHAT!' asked Catherine in surprise.
'Damned - thou saucy witch!' he replied.
'There, Miss Cathy! you see you have got into pretty company,' I
interposed. 'Nice words to be used to a young lady! Pray don't
begin to dispute with him. Come, let us seek for Minny ourselves,
and begone.'
'But, Ellen,' cried she, staring fixed in astonishment, 'how dare
he speak so to me? Mustn't he be made to do as I ask him? You
wicked creature, I shall tell papa what you said. - Now, then!'
Hareton did not appear to feel this threat; so the tears sprang
into her eyes with indignation. 'You bring the pony,' she
exclaimed, turning to the woman, 'and let my dog free this moment!'
'Softly, Miss,' answered she addressed: 'you'll lose nothing by
being civil. Though Mr. Hareton, there, be not the master's son,
he's your cousin: and I was never hired to serve you.'
'HE my cousin!' cried Cathy, with a scornful laugh.
'Yes, indeed,' responded her reprover.
'Oh, Ellen! don't let them say such things,' she pursued in great
trouble. 'Papa is gone to fetch my cousin from London: my cousin
is a gentleman's son. That my - ' she stopped, and wept outright;
upset at the bare notion of relationship with such a clown.
'Hush, hush!' I whispered; 'people can have many cousins and of all
sorts, Miss Cathy, without being any the worse for it; only they
needn't keep their company, if they be disagreeable and bad.'
'He's not - he's not my cousin, Ellen!' she went on, gathering
fresh grief from reflection, and flinging herself into my arms for
refuge from the idea.
I was much vexed at her and the servant for their mutual
revelations; having no doubt of Linton's approaching arrival,
communicated by the former, being reported to Mr. Heathcliff; and
feeling as confident that Catherine's first thought on her father's
return would be to seek an explanation of the latter's assertion
concerning her rude-bred kindred. Hareton, recovering from his
disgust at being taken for a servant, seemed moved by her distress;
and, having fetched the pony round to the door, he took, to
propitiate her, a fine crooked-legged terrier whelp from the
kennel, and putting it into her hand, bid her whist! for he meant
nought. Pausing in her lamentations, she surveyed him with a
glance of awe and horror, then burst forth anew.
I could scarcely refrain from smiling at this antipathy to the poor
fellow; who was a well-made, athletic youth, good-looking in
features, and stout and healthy, but attired in garments befitting
his daily occupations of working on the farm and lounging among the
moors after rabbits and game. Still, I thought I could detect in
his physiognomy a mind owning better qualities than his father ever
possessed. Good things lost amid a wilderness of weeds, to be
sure, whose rankness far over-topped their neglected growth; yet,
notwithstanding, evidence of a wealthy soil, that might yield
luxuriant crops under other and favourable circumstances. Mr.
Heathcliff, I believe, had not treated him physically ill; thanks
to his fearless nature, which offered no temptation to that course
of oppression: he had none of the timid susceptibility that would
have given zest to ill-treatment, in Heathcliff s judgment. He
appeared to have bent his malevolence on making him a brute: he
was never taught to read or write; never rebuked for any bad habit
which did not annoy his keeper; never led a single step towards
virtue, or guarded by a single precept against vice. And from what
I heard, Joseph contributed much to his deterioration, by a narrowminded
partiality which prompted him to flatter and pet him, as a
boy, because he was the head of the old family. And as he had been
in the habit of accusing Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, when
children, of putting the master past his patience, and compelling
him to seek solace in drink by what he termed their 'offald ways,'
so at present he laid the whole burden of Hareton's faults on the
shoulders of the usurper of his property. If the lad swore, he
wouldn't correct him: nor however culpably he behaved. It gave
Joseph satisfaction, apparently, to watch him go the worst lengths:
he allowed that the lad was ruined: that his soul was abandoned to
perdition; but then he reflected that Heathcliff must answer for
it. Hareton's blood would be required at his hands; and there lay
immense consolation in that thought. Joseph had instilled into him
a pride of name, and of his lineage; he would, had he dared, have
fostered hate between him and the present owner of the Heights:
but his dread of that owner amounted to superstition; and he
confined his feelings regarding him to muttered innuendoes and
private comminations. I don't pretend to be intimately acquainted
with the mode of living customary in those days at Wuthering
Heights: I only speak from hearsay; for I saw little. The
villagers affirmed Mr. Heathcliff was NEAR, and a cruel hard
landlord to his tenants; but the house, inside, had regained its
ancient aspect of comfort under female management, and the scenes
of riot common in Hindley's time were not now enacted within its
walls. The master was too gloomy to seek companionship with any
people, good or bad; and he is yet.
This, however, is not making progress with my story. Miss Cathy
rejected the peace-offering of the terrier, and demanded her own
dogs, Charlie and Phoenix. They came limping and hanging their
heads; and we set out for home, sadly out of sorts, every one of
us. I could not wring from my little lady how she had spent the
day; except that, as I supposed, the goal of her pilgrimage was
Penistone Crags; and she arrived without adventure to the gate of
the farm-house, when Hareton happened to issue forth, attended by
some canine followers, who attacked her train. They had a smart
battle, before their owners could separate them: that formed an
introduction. Catherine told Hareton who she was, and where she
was going; and asked him to show her the way: finally, beguiling
him to accompany her. He opened the mysteries of the Fairy Cave,
and twenty other queer places. But, being in disgrace, I was not
favoured with a description of the interesting objects she saw. I
could gather, however, that her guide had been a favourite till she
hurt his feelings by addressing him as a servant; and Heathcliff's
housekeeper hurt hers by calling him her cousin. Then the language
he had held to her rankled in her heart; she who was always 'love,'
and 'darling,' and 'queen,' and 'angel,' with everybody at the
Grange, to be insulted so shockingly by a stranger! She did not
comprehend it; and hard work I had to obtain a promise that she
would not lay the grievance before her father. I explained how he
objected to the whole household at the Heights, and how sorry he
would be to find she had been there; but I insisted most on the
fact, that if she revealed my negligence of his orders, he would
perhaps be so angry that I should have to leave; and Cathy couldn't
bear that prospect: she pledged her word, and kept it for my sake.
After all, she was a sweet little girl.
A LETTER, edged with black, announced the day of my master's
return, Isabella was dead; and he wrote to bid me get mourning for
his daughter, and arrange a room, and other accommodations, for his
youthful nephew. Catherine ran wild with joy at the idea of
welcoming her father back; and indulged most sanguine anticipations
of the innumerable excellencies of her 'real' cousin. The evening
of their expected arrival came. Since early morning she had been
busy ordering her own small affairs; and now attired in her new
black frock - poor thing! her aunt's death impressed her with no
definite sorrow - she obliged me, by constant worrying, to walk
with her down through the grounds to meet them.
'Linton is just six months younger than I am,' she chattered, as we
strolled leisurely over the swells and hollows of mossy turf, under
shadow of the trees. 'How delightful it will be to have him for a
playfellow! Aunt Isabella sent papa a beautiful lock of his hair;
it was lighter than mine - more flaxen, and quite as fine. I have
it carefully preserved in a little glass box; and I've often
thought what a pleasure it would be to see its owner. Oh! I am
happy - and papa, dear, dear papa! Come, Ellen, let us run! come,
She ran, and returned and ran again, many times before my sober
footsteps reached the gate, and then she seated herself on the
grassy bank beside the path, and tried to wait patiently; but that
was impossible: she couldn't be still a minute.
'How long they are!' she exclaimed. 'Ah, I see, some dust on the
road - they are coming! No! When will they be here? May we not
go a little way - half a mile, Ellen, only just half a mile? Do
say Yes: to that clump of birches at the turn!'
I refused staunchly. At length her suspense was ended: the
travelling carriage rolled in sight. Miss Cathy shrieked and
stretched out her arms as soon as she caught her father's face
looking from the window. He descended, nearly as eager as herself;
and a considerable interval elapsed ere they had a thought to spare
for any but themselves. While they exchanged caresses I took a
peep in to see after Linton. He was asleep in a corner, wrapped in
a warm, fur-lined cloak, as if it had been winter. A pale,
delicate, effeminate boy, who might have been taken for my master's
younger brother, so strong was the resemblance: but there was a
sickly peevishness in his aspect that Edgar Linton never had. The
latter saw me looking; and having shaken hands, advised me to close
the door, and leave him undisturbed; for the journey had fatigued
him. Cathy would fain have taken one glance, but her father told
her to come, and they walked together up the park, while I hastened
before to prepare the servants.
'Now, darling,' said Mr. Linton, addressing his daughter, as they
halted at the bottom of the front steps: 'your cousin is not so
strong or so merry as you are, and he has lost his mother,
remember, a very short time since; therefore, don't expect him to
play and run about with you directly. And don't harass him much by
talking: let him be quiet this evening, at least, will you?'
'Yes, yes, papa,' answered Catherine: 'but I do want to see him;
and he hasn't once looked out.'
The carriage stopped; and the sleeper being roused, was lifted to
the ground by his uncle.
'This is your cousin Cathy, Linton,' he said, putting their little
hands together. 'She's fond of you already; and mind you don't
grieve her by crying to-night. Try to be cheerful now; the
travelling is at an end, and you have nothing to do but rest and
amuse yourself as you please.'
'Let me go to bed, then,' answered the boy, shrinking from
Catherine's salute; and he put his fingers to remove incipient
'Come, come, there's a good child,' I whispered, leading him in.
'You'll make her weep too - see how sorry she is for you!'
I do not know whether it was sorrow for him, but his cousin put on
as sad a countenance as himself, and returned to her father. All
three entered, and mounted to the library, where tea was laid
ready. I proceeded to remove Linton's cap and mantle, and placed
him on a chair by the table; but he was no sooner seated than he
began to cry afresh. My master inquired what was the matter.
'I can't sit on a chair,' sobbed the boy.
'Go to the sofa, then, and Ellen shall bring you some tea,'
answered his uncle patiently.
He had been greatly tried, during the journey, I felt convinced, by
his fretful ailing charge. Linton slowly trailed himself off, and
lay down. Cathy carried a footstool and her cup to his side. At
first she sat silent; but that could not last: she had resolved to
make a pet of her little cousin, as she would have him to be; and
she commenced stroking his curls, and kissing his cheek, and
offering him tea in her saucer, like a baby. This pleased him, for
he was not much better: he dried his eyes, and lightened into a
faint smile.
'Oh, he'll do very well,' said the master to me, after watching
them a minute. 'Very well, if we can keep him, Ellen. The company
of a child of his own age will instil new spirit into him soon, and
by wishing for strength he'll gain it.'
'Ay, if we can keep him!' I mused to myself; and sore misgivings
came over me that there was slight hope of that. And then, I
thought, how ever will that weakling live at Wuthering Heights?
Between his father and Hareton, what playmates and instructors
they'll be. Our doubts were presently decided - even earlier than
I expected. I had just taken the children up-stairs, after tea was
finished, and seen Linton asleep - he would not suffer me to leave
him till that was the case - I had come down, and was standing by
the table in the hall, lighting a bedroom candle for Mr. Edgar,
when a maid stepped out of the kitchen and informed me that Mr.
Heathcliff's servant Joseph was at the door, and wished to speak
with the master.
'I shall ask him what he wants first,' I said, in considerable
trepidation. 'A very unlikely hour to be troubling people, and the
instant they have returned from a long journey. I don't think the
master can see him.'
Joseph had advanced through the kitchen as I uttered these words,
and now presented himself in the hall. He was donned in his Sunday
garments, with his most sanctimonious and sourest face, and,
holding his hat in one hand, and his stick in the other, he
proceeded to clean his shoes on the mat.
'Good-evening, Joseph,' I said, coldly. 'What business brings you
here to-night?'
'It's Maister Linton I mun spake to,' he answered, waving me
disdainfully aside.
'Mr. Linton is going to bed; unless you have something particular
to say, I'm sure he won't hear it now,' I continued. 'You had
better sit down in there, and entrust your message to me.'
'Which is his rahm?' pursued the fellow, surveying the range of
closed doors.
I perceived he was bent on refusing my mediation, so very
reluctantly I went up to the library, and announced the
unseasonable visitor, advising that he should be dismissed till
next day. Mr. Linton had no time to empower me to do so, for
Joseph mounted close at my heels, and, pushing into the apartment,
planted himself at the far side of the table, with his two fists
clapped on the head of his stick, and began in an elevated tone, as
if anticipating opposition -
'Hathecliff has sent me for his lad, and I munn't goa back 'bout
Edgar Linton was silent a minute; an expression of exceeding sorrow
overcast his features: he would have pitied the child on his own
account; but, recalling Isabella's hopes and fears, and anxious
wishes for her son, and her commendations of him to his care, he
grieved bitterly at the prospect of yielding him up, and searched
in his heart how it might be avoided. No plan offered itself: the
very exhibition of any desire to keep him would have rendered the
claimant more peremptory: there was nothing left but to resign
him. However, he was not going to rouse him from his sleep.
'Tell Mr. Heathcliff,' he answered calmly, 'that his son shall come
to Wuthering Heights to-morrow. He is in bed, and too tired to go
the distance now. You may also tell him that the mother of Linton
desired him to remain under my guardianship; and, at present, his
health is very precarious.'
'Noa!' said Joseph, giving a thud with his prop on the floor, and
assuming an authoritative air. 'Noa! that means naught.
Hathecliff maks noa 'count o' t' mother, nor ye norther; but he'll
heu' his lad; und I mun tak' him - soa now ye knaw!'
'You shall not to-night!' answered Linton decisively. 'Walk down
stairs at once, and repeat to your master what I have said. Ellen,
show him down. Go - '
And, aiding the indignant elder with a lift by the arm, he rid the
room of him and closed the door.
'Varrah weell!' shouted Joseph, as he slowly drew off. 'To-morn,
he's come hisseln, and thrust HIM out, if ye darr!'
TO obviate the danger of this threat being fulfilled, Mr. Linton
commissioned me to take the boy home early, on Catherine's pony;
and, said he - 'As we shall now have no influence over his destiny,
good or bad, you must say nothing of where he is gone to my
daughter: she cannot associate with him hereafter, and it is
better for her to remain in ignorance of his proximity; lest she
should be restless, and anxious to visit the Heights. Merely tell
her his father sent for him suddenly, and he has been obliged to
leave us.'
Linton was very reluctant to be roused from his bed at five
o'clock, and astonished to be informed that he must prepare for
further travelling; but I softened off the matter by stating that
he was going to spend some time with his father, Mr. Heathcliff,
who wished to see him so much, he did not like to defer the
pleasure till he should recover from his late journey.
'My father!' he cried, in strange perplexity. 'Mamma never told me
I had a father. Where does he live? I'd rather stay with uncle.'
'He lives a little distance from the Grange,' I replied; 'just
beyond those hills: not so far, but you may walk over here when
you get hearty. And you should be glad to go home, and to see him.
You must try to love him, as you did your mother, and then he will
love you.'
'But why have I not heard of him before?' asked Linton. 'Why
didn't mamma and he live together, as other people do?'
'He had business to keep him in the north,' I answered, 'and your
mother's health required her to reside in the south.'
'And why didn't mamma speak to me about him?' persevered the child.
'She often talked of uncle, and I learnt to love him long ago. How
am I to love papa? I don't know him.'
'Oh, all children love their parents,' I said. 'Your mother,
perhaps, thought you would want to be with him if she mentioned him
often to you. Let us make haste. An early ride on such a
beautiful morning is much preferable to an hour's more sleep.'
'Is SHE to go with us,' he demanded, 'the little girl I saw
'Not now,' replied I.
'Is uncle?' he continued.
'No, I shall be your companion there,' I said.
Linton sank back on his pillow and fell into a brown study.
'I won't go without uncle,' he cried at length: 'I can't tell
where you mean to take me.'
I attempted to persuade him of the naughtiness of showing
reluctance to meet his father; still he obstinately resisted any
progress towards dressing, and I had to call for my master's
assistance in coaxing him out of bed. The poor thing was finally
got off, with several delusive assurances that his absence should
be short: that Mr. Edgar and Cathy would visit him, and other
promises, equally ill-founded, which I invented and reiterated at
intervals throughout the way. The pure heather-scented air, the
bright sunshine, and the gentle canter of Minny, relieved his
despondency after a while. He began to put questions concerning
his new home, and its inhabitants, with greater interest and
'Is Wuthering Heights as pleasant a place as Thrushcross Grange?'
he inquired, turning to take a last glance into the valley, whence
a light mist mounted and formed a fleecy cloud on the skirts of the
'It is not so buried in trees,' I replied, 'and it is not quite so
large, but you can see the country beautifully all round; and the
air is healthier for you - fresher and drier. You will, perhaps,
think the building old and dark at first; though it is a
respectable house: the next best in the neighbourhood. And you
will have such nice rambles on the moors. Hareton Earnshaw - that
is, Miss Cathy's other cousin, and so yours in a manner - will show
you all the sweetest spots; and you can bring a book in fine
weather, and make a green hollow your study; and, now and then,
your uncle may join you in a walk: he does, frequently, walk out
on the hills.'
'And what is my father like?' he asked. 'Is he as young and
handsome as uncle?'
'He's as young,' said I; 'but he has black hair and eyes, and looks
sterner; and he is taller and bigger altogether. He'll not seem to
you so gentle and kind at first, perhaps, because it is not his
way: still, mind you, be frank and cordial with him; and naturally
he'll be fonder of you than any uncle, for you are his own.'
'Black hair and eyes!' mused Linton. 'I can't fancy him. Then I
am not like him, am I?'
'Not much,' I answered: not a morsel, I thought, surveying with
regret the white complexion and slim frame of my companion, and his
large languid eyes - his mother's eyes, save that, unless a morbid
touchiness kindled them a moment, they had not a vestige of her
sparkling spirit.
'How strange that he should never come to see mamma and me!' he
murmured. 'Has he ever seen me? If he has, I must have been a
baby. I remember not a single thing about him!'
'Why, Master Linton,' said I, 'three hundred miles is a great
distance; and ten years seem very different in length to a grown-up
person compared with what they do to you. It is probable Mr.
Heathcliff proposed going from summer to summer, but never found a
convenient opportunity; and now it is too late. Don't trouble him
with questions on the subject: it will disturb him, for no good.'
The boy was fully occupied with his own cogitations for the
remainder of the ride, till we halted before the farmhouse gardengate.
I watched to catch his impressions in his countenance. He
surveyed the carved front and low-browed lattices, the straggling
gooseberry-bushes and crooked firs, with solemn intentness, and
then shook his head: his private feelings entirely disapproved of
the exterior of his new abode. But he had sense to postpone
complaining: there might be compensation within. Before he
dismounted, I went and opened the door. It was half-past six; the
family had just finished breakfast: the servant was clearing and
wiping down the table. Joseph stood by his master's chair telling
some tale concerning a lame horse; and Hareton was preparing for
the hayfield.
'Hallo, Nelly!' said Mr. Heathcliff, when he saw me. 'I feared I
should have to come down and fetch my property myself. You've
brought it, have you? Let us see what we can make of it.'
He got up and strode to the door: Hareton and Joseph followed in
gaping curiosity. Poor Linton ran a frightened eye over the faces
of the three.
'Sure-ly,' said Joseph after a grave inspection, 'he's swopped wi'
ye, Maister, an' yon's his lass!'
Heathcliff, having stared his son into an ague of confusion,
uttered a scornful laugh.
'God! what a beauty! what a lovely, charming thing!' he exclaimed.
'Hav'n't they reared it on snails and sour milk, Nelly? Oh, damn
my soul! but that's worse than I expected - and the devil knows I
was not sanguine!'
I bid the trembling and bewildered child get down, and enter. He
did not thoroughly comprehend the meaning of his father's speech,
or whether it were intended for him: indeed, he was not yet
certain that the grim, sneering stranger was his father. But he
clung to me with growing trepidation; and on Mr. Heathcliff's
taking a seat and bidding him 'come hither' he hid his face on my
shoulder and wept.
'Tut, tut!' said Heathcliff, stretching out a hand and dragging him
roughly between his knees, and then holding up his head by the
chin. 'None of that nonsense! We're not going to hurt thee,
Linton - isn't that thy name? Thou art thy mother's child,
entirely! Where is my share in thee, puling chicken?'
He took off the boy's cap and pushed back his thick flaxen curls,
felt his slender arms and his small fingers; during which
examination Linton ceased crying, and lifted his great blue eyes to
inspect the inspector.
'Do you know me?' asked Heathcliff, having satisfied himself that
the limbs were all equally frail and feeble.
'No,' said Linton, with a gaze of vacant fear.
'You've heard of me, I daresay?'
'No,' he replied again.
'No! What a shame of your mother, never to waken your filial
regard for me! You are my son, then, I'll tell you; and your
mother was a wicked slut to leave you in ignorance of the sort of
father you possessed. Now, don't wince, and colour up! Though it
is something to see you have not white blood. Be a good lad; and
I'll do for you. Nelly, if you be tired you may sit down; if not,
get home again. I guess you'll report what you hear and see to the
cipher at the Grange; and this thing won't be settled while you
linger about it.'
'Well,' replied I, 'I hope you'll be kind to the boy, Mr.
Heathcliff, or you'll not keep him long; and he's all you have akin
in the wide world, that you will ever know - remember.'
'I'll be very kind to him, you needn't fear,' he said, laughing.
'Only nobody else must be kind to him: I'm jealous of monopolising
his affection. And, to begin my kindness, Joseph, bring the lad
some breakfast. Hareton, you infernal calf, begone to your work.
Yes, Nell,' he added, when they had departed, 'my son is
prospective owner of your place, and I should not wish him to die
till I was certain of being his successor. Besides, he's MINE, and
I want the triumph of seeing MY descendant fairly lord of their
estates; my child hiring their children to till their fathers'
lands for wages. That is the sole consideration which can make me
endure the whelp: I despise him for himself, and hate him for the
memories he revives! But that consideration is sufficient: he's
as safe with me, and shall be tended as carefully as your master
tends his own. I have a room up-stairs, furnished for him in
handsome style; I've engaged a tutor, also, to come three times a
week, from twenty miles' distance, to teach him what he pleases to
learn. I've ordered Hareton to obey him: and in fact I've
arranged everything with a view to preserve the superior and the
gentleman in him, above his associates. I do regret, however, that
he so little deserves the trouble: if I wished any blessing in the
world, it was to find him a worthy object of pride; and I'm
bitterly disappointed with the whey-faced, whining wretch!'
While he was speaking, Joseph returned bearing a basin of milkporridge,
and placed it before Linton: who stirred round the
homely mess with a look of aversion, and affirmed he could not eat
it. I saw the old man-servant shared largely in his master's scorn
of the child; though he was compelled to retain the sentiment in
his heart, because Heathcliff plainly meant his underlings to hold
him in honour.
'Cannot ate it?' repeated he, peering in Linton's face, and
subduing his voice to a whisper, for fear of being overheard. 'But
Maister Hareton nivir ate naught else, when he wer a little 'un;
and what wer gooid enough for him's gooid enough for ye, I's
rayther think!'
'I SHA'N'T eat it!' answered Linton, snappishly. 'Take it away.'
Joseph snatched up the food indignantly, and brought it to us.
'Is there aught ails th' victuals?' he asked, thrusting the tray
under Heathcliff's nose.
'What should ail them?' he said.
'Wah!' answered Joseph, 'yon dainty chap says he cannut ate 'em.
But I guess it's raight! His mother wer just soa - we wer a'most
too mucky to sow t' corn for makking her breead.'
'Don't mention his mother to me,' said the master, angrily. 'Get
him something that he can eat, that's all. What is his usual food,
I suggested boiled milk or tea; and the housekeeper received
instructions to prepare some. Come, I reflected, his father's
selfishness may contribute to his comfort. He perceives his
delicate constitution, and the necessity of treating him tolerably.
I'll console Mr. Edgar by acquainting him with the turn
Heathcliff's humour has taken. Having no excuse for lingering
longer, I slipped out, while Linton was engaged in timidly
rebuffing the advances of a friendly sheep-dog. But he was too
much on the alert to be cheated: as I closed the door, I heard a
cry, and a frantic repetition of the words -
'Don't leave me! I'll not stay here! I'll not stay here!'
Then the latch was raised and fell: they did not suffer him to
come forth. I mounted Minny, and urged her to a trot; and so my
brief guardianship ended.
WE had sad work with little Cathy that day: she rose in high glee,
eager to join her cousin, and such passionate tears and
lamentations followed the news of his departure that Edgar himself
was obliged to soothe her, by affirming he should come back soon:
he added, however, 'if I can get him'; and there were no hopes of
that. This promise poorly pacified her; but time was more potent;
and though still at intervals she inquired of her father when
Linton would return, before she did see him again his features had
waxed so dim in her memory that she did not recognise him.
When I chanced to encounter the housekeeper of Wuthering Heights,
in paying business visits to Gimmerton, I used to ask how the young
master got on; for he lived almost as secluded as Catherine
herself, and was never to be seen. I could gather from her that he
continued in weak health, and was a tiresome inmate. She said Mr.
Heathcliff seemed to dislike him ever longer and worse, though he
took some trouble to conceal it: he had an antipathy to the sound
of his voice, and could not do at all with his sitting in the same
room with him many minutes together. There seldom passed much talk
between them: Linton learnt his lessons and spent his evenings in
a small apartment they called the parlour: or else lay in bed all
day: for he was constantly getting coughs, and colds, and aches,
and pains of some sort.
'And I never know such a fainthearted creature,' added the woman;
'nor one so careful of hisseln. He WILL go on, if I leave the
window open a bit late in the evening. Oh! it's killing, a breath
of night air! And he must have a fire in the middle of summer; and
Joseph's bacca-pipe is poison; and he must always have sweets and
dainties, and always milk, milk for ever - heeding naught how the
rest of us are pinched in winter; and there he'll sit, wrapped in
his furred cloak in his chair by the fire, with some toast and
water or other slop on the hob to sip at; and if Hareton, for pity,
comes to amuse him - Hareton is not bad-natured, though he's rough
- they're sure to part, one swearing and the other crying. I
believe the master would relish Earnshaw's thrashing him to a
mummy, if he were not his son; and I'm certain he would be fit to
turn him out of doors, if he knew half the nursing he gives
hisseln. But then he won't go into danger of temptation: he never
enters the parlour, and should Linton show those ways in the house
where he is, he sends him up-stairs directly.'
I divined, from this account, that utter lack of sympathy had
rendered young Heathcliff selfish and disagreeable, if he were not
so originally; and my interest in him, consequently, decayed:
though still I was moved with a sense of grief at his lot, and a
wish that he had been left with us. Mr. Edgar encouraged me to
gain information: he thought a great deal about him, I fancy, and
would have run some risk to see him; and he told me once to ask the
housekeeper whether he ever came into the village? She said he had
only been twice, on horseback, accompanying his father; and both
times he pretended to be quite knocked up for three or four days
afterwards. That housekeeper left, if I recollect rightly, two
years after he came; and another, whom I did not know, was her
successor; she lives there still.
Time wore on at the Grange in its former pleasant way till Miss
Cathy reached sixteen. On the anniversary of her birth we never
manifested any signs of rejoicing, because it was also the
anniversary of my late mistress's death. Her father invariably
spent that day alone in the library; and walked, at dusk, as far as
Gimmerton kirkyard, where he would frequently prolong his stay
beyond midnight. Therefore Catherine was thrown on her own
resources for amusement. This twentieth of March was a beautiful
spring day, and when her father had retired, my young lady came
down dressed for going out, and said she asked to have a ramble on
the edge of the moor with me: Mr. Linton had given her leave, if
we went only a short distance and were back within the hour.
'So make haste, Ellen!' she cried. 'I know where I wish to go;
where a colony of moor-game are settled: I want to see whether
they have made their nests yet.'
'That must be a good distance up,' I answered; 'they don't breed on
the edge of the moor.'
'No, it's not,' she said. 'I've gone very near with papa.'
I put on my bonnet and sallied out, thinking nothing more of the
matter. She bounded before me, and returned to my side, and was
off again like a young greyhound; and, at first, I found plenty of
entertainment in listening to the larks singing far and near, and
enjoying the sweet, warm sunshine; and watching her, my pet and my
delight, with her golden ringlets flying loose behind, and her
bright cheek, as soft and pure in its bloom as a wild rose, and her
eyes radiant with cloudless pleasure. She was a happy creature,
and an angel, in those days. It's a pity she could not be content.
'Well,' said I, 'where are your moor-game, Miss Cathy? We should
be at them: the Grange park-fence is a great way off now.'
'Oh, a little further - only a little further, Ellen,' was her
answer, continually. 'Climb to that hillock, pass that bank, and
by the time you reach the other side I shall have raised the
But there were so many hillocks and banks to climb and pass, that,
at length, I began to be weary, and told her we must halt, and
retrace our steps. I shouted to her, as she had outstripped me a
long way; she either did not hear or did not regard, for she still
sprang on, and I was compelled to follow. Finally, she dived into
a hollow; and before I came in sight of her again, she was two
miles nearer Wuthering Heights than her own home; and I beheld a
couple of persons arrest her, one of whom I felt convinced was Mr.
Heathcliff himself.
Cathy had been caught in the fact of plundering, or, at least,
hunting out the nests of the grouse. The Heights were Heathcliff's
land, and he was reproving the poacher.
'I've neither taken any nor found any,' she said, as I toiled to
them, expanding her hands in corroboration of the statement. 'I
didn't mean to take them; but papa told me there were quantities up
here, and I wished to see the eggs.'
Heathcliff glanced at me with an ill-meaning smile, expressing his
acquaintance with the party, and, consequently, his malevolence
towards it, and demanded who 'papa' was?
'Mr. Linton of Thrushcross Grange,' she replied. 'I thought you
did not know me, or you wouldn't have spoken in that way.'
'You suppose papa is highly esteemed and respected, then?' he said,
'And what are you?' inquired Catherine, gazing curiously on the
speaker. 'That man I've seen before. Is he your son?'
She pointed to Hareton, the other individual, who had gained
nothing but increased bulk and strength by the addition of two
years to his age: he seemed as awkward and rough as ever.
'Miss Cathy,' I interrupted, 'it will be three hours instead of one
that we are out, presently. We really must go back.'
'No, that man is not my son,' answered Heathcliff, pushing me
aside. 'But I have one, and you have seen him before too; and,
though your nurse is in a hurry, I think both you and she would be
the better for a little rest. Will you just turn this nab of
heath, and walk into my house? You'll get home earlier for the
ease; and you shall receive a kind welcome.'
I whispered Catherine that she mustn't, on any account, accede to
the proposal: it was entirely out of the question.
'Why?' she asked, aloud. 'I'm tired of running, and the ground is
dewy: I can't sit here. Let us go, Ellen. Besides, he says I
have seen his son. He's mistaken, I think; but I guess where he
lives: at the farmhouse I visited in coming from Penistone' Crags.
Don't you?'
'I do. Come, Nelly, hold your tongue - it will he a treat for her
to look in on us. Hareton, get forwards with the lass. You shall
walk with me, Nelly.'
'No, she's not going to any such place,' I cried, struggling to
release my arm, which he had seized: but she was almost at the
door-stones already, scampering round the brow at full speed. Her
appointed companion did not pretend to escort her: he shied off by
the road-side, and vanished.
'Mr. Heathcliff, it's very wrong,' I continued: 'you know you mean
no good. And there she'll see Linton, and all will be told as soon
as ever we return; and I shall have the blame.'
'I want her to see Linton,' he answered; 'he's looking better these
few days; it's not often he's fit to be seen. And we'll soon
persuade her to keep the visit secret: where is the harm of it?'
'The harm of it is, that her father would hate me if he found I
suffered her to enter your house; and I am convinced you have a bad
design in encouraging her to do so,' I replied.
'My design is as honest as possible. I'll inform you of its whole
scope,' he said. 'That the two cousins may fall in love, and get
married. I'm acting generously to your master: his young chit has
no expectations, and should she second my wishes she'll be provided
for at once as joint successor with Linton.'
'If Linton died,' I answered, 'and his life is quite uncertain,
Catherine would be the heir.'
'No, she would not,' he said. 'There is no clause in the will to
secure it so: his property would go to me; but, to prevent
disputes, I desire their union, and am resolved to bring it about.'
'And I'm resolved she shall never approach your house with me
again,' I returned, as we reached the gate, where Miss Cathy waited
our coming.
Heathcliff bade me be quiet; and, preceding us up the path,
hastened to open the door. My young lady gave him several looks,
as if she could not exactly make up her mind what to think of him;
but now he smiled when he met her eye, and softened his voice in
addressing her; and I was foolish enough to imagine the memory of
her mother might disarm him from desiring her injury. Linton stood
on the hearth. He had been out walking in the fields, for his cap
was on, and he was calling to Joseph to bring him dry shoes. He
had grown tall of his age, still wanting some months of sixteen.
His features were pretty yet, and his eye and complexion brighter
than I remembered them, though with merely temporary lustre
borrowed from the salubrious air and genial sun.
'Now, who is that?' asked Mr. Heathcliff, turning to Cathy. 'Can
you tell?'
'Your son?' she said, having doubtfully surveyed, first one and
then the other.
'Yes, yes,' answered he: 'but is this the only time you have
beheld him? Think! Ah! you have a short memory. Linton, don't
you recall your cousin, that you used to tease us so with wishing
to see?'
'What, Linton!' cried Cathy, kindling into joyful surprise at the
name. 'Is that little Linton? He's taller than I am! Are you
The youth stepped forward, and acknowledged himself: she kissed
him fervently, and they gazed with wonder at the change time had
wrought in the appearance of each. Catherine had reached her full
height; her figure was both plump and slender, elastic as steel,
and her whole aspect sparkling with health and spirits. Linton's
looks and movements were very languid, and his form extremely
slight; but there was a grace in his manner that mitigated these
defects, and rendered him not unpleasing. After exchanging
numerous marks of fondness with him, his cousin went to Mr.
Heathcliff, who lingered by the door, dividing his attention
between the objects inside and those that lay without: pretending,
that is, to observe the latter, and really noting the former alone.
'And you are my uncle, then!' she cried, reaching up to salute him.
'I thought I liked you, though you were cross at first. Why don't
you visit at the Grange with Linton? To live all these years such
close neighbours, and never see us, is odd: what have you done so
'I visited it once or twice too often before you were born,' he
answered. 'There - damn it! If you have any kisses to spare, give
them to Linton: they are thrown away on me.'
'Naughty Ellen!' exclaimed Catherine, flying to attack me next with
her lavish caresses. 'Wicked Ellen! to try to hinder me from
entering. But I'll take this walk every morning in future: may I,
uncle? and sometimes bring papa. Won't you be glad to see us?'
'Of course,' replied the uncle, with a hardly suppressed grimace,
resulting from his deep aversion to both the proposed visitors.
'But stay,' he continued, turning towards the young lady. 'Now I
think of it, I'd better tell you. Mr. Linton has a prejudice
against me: we quarrelled at one time of our lives, with
unchristian ferocity; and, if you mention coming here to him, he'll
put a veto on your visits altogether. Therefore, you must not
mention it, unless you be careless of seeing your cousin hereafter:
you may come, if you will, but you must not mention it.'
'Why did you quarrel?' asked Catherine, considerably crestfallen.
'He thought me too poor to wed his sister,' answered Heathcliff,
'and was grieved that I got her: his pride was hurt, and he'll
never forgive it.'
'That's wrong!' said the young lady: 'some time I'll tell him so.
But Linton and I have no share in your quarrel. I'll not come
here, then; he shall come to the Grange.'
'It will be too far for me,' murmured her cousin: 'to walk four
miles would kill me. No, come here, Miss Catherine, now and then:
not every morning, but once or twice a week.'
The father launched towards his son a glance of bitter contempt.
'I am afraid, Nelly, I shall lose my labour,' he muttered to me.
'Miss Catherine, as the ninny calls her, will discover his value,
and send him to the devil. Now, if it had been Hareton! - Do you
know that, twenty times a day, I covet Hareton, with all his
degradation? I'd have loved the lad had he been some one else.
But I think he's safe from HER love. I'll pit him against that
paltry creature, unless it bestir itself briskly. We calculate it
will scarcely last till it is eighteen. Oh, confound the vapid
thing! He's absorbed in drying his feet, and never looks at her. -
'Yes, father,' answered the boy.
'Have you nothing to show your cousin anywhere about, not even a
rabbit or a weasel's nest? Take her into the garden, before you
change your shoes; and into the stable to see your horse.'
'Wouldn't you rather sit here?' asked Linton, addressing Cathy in a
tone which expressed reluctance to move again.
'I don't know,' she replied, casting a longing look to the door,
and evidently eager to be active.
He kept his seat, and shrank closer to the fire. Heathcliff rose,
and went into the kitchen, and from thence to the yard, calling out
for Hareton. Hareton responded, and presently the two re-entered.
The young man had been washing himself, as was visible by the glow
on his cheeks and his wetted hair.
'Oh, I'll ask YOU, uncle,' cried Miss Cathy, recollecting the
housekeeper's assertion. 'That is not my cousin, is he?'
'Yes,' he, replied, 'your mother's nephew. Don't you like him!'
Catherine looked queer.
'Is he not a handsome lad?' he continued.
The uncivil little thing stood on tiptoe, and whispered a sentence
in Heathcliff's ear. He laughed; Hareton darkened: I perceived he
was very sensitive to suspected slights, and had obviously a dim
notion of his inferiority. But his master or guardian chased the
frown by exclaiming -
'You'll be the favourite among us, Hareton! She says you are a -
What was it? Well, something very flattering. Here! you go with
her round the farm. And behave like a gentleman, mind! Don't use
any bad words; and don't stare when the young lady is not looking
at you, and be ready to hide your face when she is; and, when you
speak, say your words slowly, and keep your hands out of your
pockets. Be off, and entertain her as nicely as you can.'
He watched the couple walking past the window. Earnshaw had his
countenance completely averted from his companion. He seemed
studying the familiar landscape with a stranger's and an artist's
interest. Catherine took a sly look at him, expressing small
admiration. She then turned her attention to seeking out objects
of amusement for herself, and tripped merrily on, lilting a tune to
supply the lack of conversation.
'I've tied his tongue,' observed Heathcliff. 'He'll not venture a
single syllable all the time! Nelly, you recollect meat his age -
nay, some years younger. Did I ever look so stupid: so
"gaumless," as Joseph calls it?'
'Worse,' I replied, 'because more sullen with it.'
'I've a pleasure in him,' he continued, reflecting aloud. 'He has
satisfied my expectations. If he were a born fool I should not
enjoy it half so much. But he's no fool; and I can sympathise with
all his feelings, having felt them myself. I know what he suffers
now, for instance, exactly: it is merely a beginning of what he
shall suffer, though. And he'll never be able to emerge from his
bathos of coarseness and ignorance. I've got him faster than his
scoundrel of a father secured me, and lower; for he takes a pride
in his brutishness. I've taught him to scorn everything extraanimal
as silly and weak. Don't you think Hindley would be proud
of his son, if he could see him? almost as proud as I am of mine.
But there's this difference; one is gold put to the use of pavingstones,
and the other is tin polished to ape a service of silver.
MINE has nothing valuable about it; yet I shall have the merit of
making it go as far as such poor stuff can go. HIS had first-rate
qualities, and they are lost: rendered worse than unavailing. I
have nothing to regret; he would have more than any but I are aware
of. And the best of it is, Hareton is damnably fond of me! You'll
own that I've outmatched Hindley there. If the dead villain could
rise from his grave to abuse me for his offspring's wrongs, I
should have the fun of seeing the said offspring fight him back
again, indignant that he should dare to rail at the one friend he
has in the world!'
Heathcliff chuckled a fiendish laugh at the idea. I made no reply,
because I saw that he expected none. Meantime, our young
companion, who sat too removed from us to hear what was said, began
to evince symptoms of uneasiness, probably repenting that he had
denied himself the treat of Catherine's society for fear of a
little fatigue. His father remarked the restless glances wandering
to the window, and the hand irresolutely extended towards his cap.
'Get up, you idle boy!' he exclaimed, with assumed heartiness.
'Away after them! they are just at the corner, by the stand of
Linton gathered his energies, and left the hearth. The lattice was
open, and, as he stepped out, I heard Cathy inquiring of her
unsociable attendant what was that inscription over the door?
Hareton stared up, and scratched his head like a true clown.
'It's some damnable writing,' he answered. 'I cannot read it.'
'Can't read it?' cried Catherine; 'I can read it: it's English.
But I want to know why it is there.'
Linton giggled: the first appearance of mirth he had exhibited.
'He does not know his letters,' he said to his cousin. 'Could you
believe in the existence of such a colossal dunce?'
'Is he all as he should be?' asked Miss Cathy, seriously; 'or is he
simple: not right? I've questioned him twice now, and each time
he looked so stupid I think he does not understand me. I can
hardly understand him, I'm sure!'
Linton repeated his laugh, and glanced at Hareton tauntingly; who
certainly did not seem quite clear of comprehension at that moment.
'There's nothing the matter but laziness; is there, Earnshaw?' he
said. 'My cousin fancies you are an idiot. There you experience
the consequence of scorning "book-larning," as you would say. Have
you noticed, Catherine, his frightful Yorkshire pronunciation?'
'Why, where the devil is the use on't?' growled Hareton, more ready
in answering his daily companion. He was about to enlarge further,
but the two youngsters broke into a noisy fit of merriment: my
giddy miss being delighted to discover that she might turn his
strange talk to matter of amusement.
'Where is the use of the devil in that sentence?' tittered Linton.
'Papa told you not to say any bad words, and you can't open your
mouth without one. Do try to behave like a gentleman, now do!'
'If thou weren't more a lass than a lad, I'd fell thee this minute,
I would; pitiful lath of a crater!' retorted the angry boor,
retreating, while his face burnt with mingled rage and
mortification! for he was conscious of being insulted, and
embarrassed how to resent it.
Mr. Heathcliff having overheard the conversation, as well as I,
smiled when he saw him go; but immediately afterwards cast a look
of singular aversion on the flippant pair, who remained chattering
in the door-way: the boy finding animation enough while discussing
Hareton's faults and deficiencies, and relating anecdotes of his
goings on; and the girl relishing his pert and spiteful sayings,
without considering the ill-nature they evinced. I began to
dislike, more than to compassionate Linton, and to excuse his
father in some measure for holding him cheap.
We stayed till afternoon: I could not tear Miss Cathy away sooner;
but happily my master had not quitted his apartment, and remained
ignorant of our prolonged absence. As we walked home, I would fain
have enlightened my charge on the characters of the people we had
quitted: but she got it into her head that I was prejudiced
against them.
'Aha!' she cried, 'you take papa's side, Ellen: you are partial I
know; or else you wouldn't have cheated me so many years into the
notion that Linton lived a long way from here. I'm really
extremely angry; only I'm so pleased I can't show it! But you must
hold your tongue about MY uncle; he's my uncle, remember; and I'll
scold papa for quarrelling with him.'
And so she ran on, till I relinquished the endeavour to convince
her of her mistake. She did not mention the visit that night,
because she did not see Mr. Linton. Next day it all came out,
sadly to my chagrin; and still I was not altogether sorry: I
thought the burden of directing and warning would be more
efficiently borne by him than me. But he was too timid in giving
satisfactory reasons for his wish that she should shun connection
with the household of the Heights, and Catherine liked good reasons
for every restraint that harassed her petted will.
'Papa!' she exclaimed, after the morning's salutations, 'guess whom
I saw yesterday, in my walk on the moors. Ah, papa, you started!
you've not done right, have you, now? I saw - but listen, and you
shall hear how I found you out; and Ellen, who is in league with
you, and yet pretended to pity me so, when I kept hoping, and was
always disappointed about Linton's coming back!'
She gave a faithful account of her excursion and its consequences;
and my master, though he cast more than one reproachful look at me,
said nothing till she had concluded. Then he drew her to him, and
asked if she knew why he had concealed Linton's near neighbourhood
from her? Could she think it was to deny her a pleasure that she
might harmlessly enjoy?
'It was because you disliked Mr. Heathcliff,' she answered.
'Then you believe I care more for my own feelings than yours,
Cathy?' he said. 'No, it was not because I disliked Mr.
Heathcliff, but because Mr. Heathcliff dislikes me; and is a most
diabolical man, delighting to wrong and ruin those he hates, if
they give him the slightest opportunity. I knew that you could not
keep up an acquaintance with your cousin without being brought into
contact with him; and I knew he would detest you on my account; so
for your own good, and nothing else, I took precautions that you
should not see Linton again. I meant to explain this some time as
you grew older, and I'm sorry I delayed it.'
'But Mr. Heathcliff was quite cordial, papa,' observed Catherine,
not at all convinced; 'and he didn't object to our seeing each
other: he said I might come to his house when I pleased; only I
must not tell you, because you had quarrelled with him, and would
not forgive him for marrying aunt Isabella. And you won't. YOU
are the one to be blamed: he is willing to let us be friends, at
least; Linton and I; and you are not.'
My master, perceiving that she would not take his word for her
uncle-in-law's evil disposition, gave a hasty sketch of his conduct
to Isabella, and the manner in which Wuthering Heights became his
property. He could not bear to discourse long upon the topic; for
though he spoke little of it, he still felt the same horror and
detestation of his ancient enemy that had occupied his heart ever
since Mrs. Linton's death. 'She might have been living yet, if it
had not been for him!' was his constant bitter reflection; and, in
his eyes, Heathcliff seemed a murderer. Miss Cathy - conversant
with no bad deeds except her own slight acts of disobedience,
injustice, and passion, arising from hot temper and
thoughtlessness, and repented of on the day they were committed -
was amazed at the blackness of spirit that could brood on and cover
revenge for years, and deliberately prosecute its plans without a
visitation of remorse. She appeared so deeply impressed and
shocked at this new view of human nature - excluded from all her
studies and all her ideas till now - that Mr. Edgar deemed it
unnecessary to pursue the subject. He merely added: 'You will
know hereafter, darling, why I wish you to avoid his house and
family; now return to your old employments and amusements, and
think no more about them.'
Catherine kissed her father, and sat down quietly to her lessons
for a couple of hours, according to custom; then she accompanied
him into the grounds, and the whole day passed as usual: but in
the evening, when she had retired to her room, and I went to help
her to undress, I found her crying, on her knees by the bedside.
'Oh, fie, silly child!' I exclaimed. 'If you had any real griefs
you'd be ashamed to waste a tear on this little contrariety. You
never had one shadow of substantial sorrow, Miss Catherine.
Suppose, for a minute, that master and I were dead, and you were by
yourself in the world: how would you feel, then? Compare the
present occasion with such an affliction as that, and be thankful
for the friends you have, instead of coveting more.'
'I'm not crying for myself, Ellen,' she answered, 'it's for him.
He expected to see me again to-morrow, and there he'll be so
disappointed: and he'll wait for me, and I sha'n't come!'
'Nonsense!' said I, 'do you imagine he has thought as much of you
as you have of him? Hasn't he Hareton for a companion? Not one in
a hundred would weep at losing a relation they had just seen twice,
for two afternoons. Linton will conjecture how it is, and trouble
himself no further about you.'
'But may I not write a note to tell him why I cannot come?' she
asked, rising to her feet. 'And just send those books I promised
to lend him? His books are not as nice as mine, and he wanted to
have them extremely, when I told him how interesting they were.
May I not, Ellen?'
'No, indeed! no, indeed!' replied I with decision. 'Then he would
write to you, and there'd never be an end of it. No, Miss
Catherine, the acquaintance must be dropped entirely: so papa
expects, and I shall see that it is done.'
'But how can one little note - ?' she recommenced, putting on an
imploring countenance.
'Silence!' I interrupted. 'We'll not begin with your little notes.
Get into bed.'
She threw at me a very naughty look, so naughty that I would not
kiss her good-night at first: I covered her up, and shut her door,
in great displeasure; but, repenting half-way, I returned softly,
and lo! there was Miss standing at the table with a bit of blank
paper before her and a pencil in her hand, which she guiltily
slipped out of sight on my entrance.
'You'll get nobody to take that, Catherine,' I said, 'if you write
it; and at present I shall put out your candle.'
I set the extinguisher on the flame, receiving as I did so a slap
on my hand and a petulant 'cross thing!' I then quitted her again,
and she drew the bolt in one of her worst, most peevish humours.
The letter was finished and forwarded to its destination by a milkfetcher
who came from the village; but that I didn't learn till
some time afterwards. Weeks passed on, and Cathy recovered her
temper; though she grew wondrous fond of stealing off to corners by
herself and often, if I came near her suddenly while reading, she
would start and bend over the book, evidently desirous to hide it;
and I detected edges of loose paper sticking out beyond the leaves.
She also got a trick of coming down early in the morning and
lingering about the kitchen, as if she were expecting the arrival
of something; and she had a small drawer in a cabinet in the
library, which she would trifle over for hours, and whose key she
took special care to remove when she left it.
One day, as she inspected this drawer, I observed that the
playthings and trinkets which recently formed its contents were
transmuted into bits of folded paper. My curiosity and suspicions
were roused; I determined to take a peep at her mysterious
treasures; so, at night, as soon as she and my master were safe
upstairs, I searched, and readily found among my house keys one
that would fit the lock. Having opened, I emptied the whole
contents into my apron, and took them with me to examine at leisure
in my own chamber. Though I could not but suspect, I was still
surprised to discover that they were a mass of correspondence -
daily almost, it must have been - from Linton Heathcliff: answers
to documents forwarded by her. The earlier dated were embarrassed
and short; gradually, however, they expanded into copious loveletters,
foolish, as the age of the writer rendered natural, yet
with touches here and there which I thought were borrowed from a
more experienced source. Some of them struck me as singularly odd
compounds of ardour and flatness; commencing in strong feeling, and
concluding in the affected, wordy style that a schoolboy might use
to a fancied, incorporeal sweetheart. Whether they satisfied Cathy
I don't know; but they appeared very worthless trash to me. After
turning over as many as I thought proper, I tied them in a
handkerchief and set them aside, relocking the vacant drawer.
Following her habit, my young lady descended early, and visited the
kitchen: I watched her go to the door, on the arrival of a certain
little boy; and, while the dairymaid filled his can, she tucked
something into his jacket pocket, and plucked something out. I
went round by the garden, and laid wait for the messenger; who
fought valorously to defend his trust, and we spilt the milk
between us; but I succeeded in abstracting the epistle; and,
threatening serious consequences if he did not look sharp home, I
remained under the wall and perused Miss Cathy's affectionate
composition. It was more simple and more eloquent than her
cousin's: very pretty and very silly. I shook my head, and went
meditating into the house. The day being wet, she could not divert
herself with rambling about the park; so, at the conclusion of her
morning studies, she resorted to the solace of the drawer. Her
father sat reading at the table; and I, on purpose, had sought a
bit of work in some unripped fringes of the window-curtain, keeping
my eye steadily fixed on her proceedings. Never did any bird
flying back to a plundered nest, which it had left brimful of
chirping young ones, express more complete despair, in its
anguished cries and flutterings, than she by her single 'Oh!' and
the change that transfigured her late happy countenance. Mr.
Linton looked up.
'What is the matter, love? Have you hurt yourself?' he said.
His tone and look assured her HE had not been the discoverer of the
'No, papa!' she gasped. 'Ellen! Ellen! come up-stairs - I'm sick!'
I obeyed her summons, and accompanied her out.
'Oh, Ellen! you have got them,' she commenced immediately, dropping
on her knees, when we were enclosed alone. 'Oh, give them to me,
and I'll never, never do so again! Don't tell papa. You have not
told papa, Ellen? say you have not? I've been exceedingly naughty,
but I won't do it any more!'
With a grave severity in my manner I bade her stand up.
'So,' I exclaimed, 'Miss Catherine, you are tolerably far on, it
seems: you may well be ashamed of them! A fine bundle of trash
you study in your leisure hours, to be sure: why, it's good enough
to be printed! And what do you suppose the master will think when
I display it before him? I hav'n't shown it yet, but you needn't
imagine I shall keep your ridiculous secrets. For shame! and you
must have led the way in writing such absurdities: he would not
have thought of beginning, I'm certain.'
'I didn't! I didn't!' sobbed Cathy, fit to break her heart. 'I
didn't once think of loving him till - '
'LOVING!' cried I, as scornfully as I could utter the word.
'LOVING! Did anybody ever hear the like! I might just as well
talk of loving the miller who comes once a year to buy our corn.
Pretty loving, indeed! and both times together you have seen Linton
hardly four hours in your life! Now here is the babyish trash.
I'm going with it to the library; and we'll see what your father
says to such LOVING.'
She sprang at her precious epistles, but I hold them above my head;
and then she poured out further frantic entreaties that I would
burn them - do anything rather than show them. And being really
fully as much inclined to laugh as scold - for I esteemed it all
girlish vanity - I at length relented in a measure, and asked, -
'If I consent to burn them, will you promise faithfully neither to
send nor receive a letter again, nor a book (for I perceive you
have sent him books), nor locks of hair, nor rings, nor
'We don't send playthings,' cried Catherine, her pride overcoming
her shame.
'Nor anything at all, then, my lady?' I said. 'Unless you will,
here I go.'
'I promise, Ellen!' she cried, catching my dress. 'Oh, put them in
the fire, do, do!'
But when I proceeded to open a place with the poker the sacrifice
was too painful to be borne. She earnestly supplicated that I
would spare her one or two.
'One or two, Ellen, to keep for Linton's sake!'
I unknotted the handkerchief, and commenced dropping them in from
an angle, and the flame curled up the chimney.
'I will have one, you cruel wretch!' she screamed, darting her hand
into the fire, and drawing forth some half-consumed fragments, at
the expense of her fingers.
'Very well - and I will have some to exhibit to papa!' I answered,
shaking back the rest into the bundle, and turning anew to the
She emptied her blackened pieces into the flames, and motioned me
to finish the immolation. It was done; I stirred up the ashes, and
interred them under a shovelful of coals; and she mutely, and with
a sense of intense injury, retired to her private apartment. I
descended to tell my master that the young lady's qualm of sickness
was almost gone, but I judged it best for her to lie down a while.
She wouldn't dine; but she reappeared at tea, pale, and red about
the eyes, and marvellously subdued in outward aspect. Next morning
I answered the letter by a slip of paper, inscribed, 'Master
Heathcliff is requested to send no more notes to Miss Linton, as
she will not receive them.' And, henceforth, the little boy came
with vacant pockets.
SUMMER drew to an end, and early autumn: it was past Michaelmas,
but the harvest was late that year, and a few of our fields were
still uncleared. Mr. Linton and his daughter would frequently walk
out among the reapers; at the carrying of the last sheaves they
stayed till dusk, and the evening happening to be chill and damp,
my master caught a bad cold, that settled obstinately on his lungs,
and confined him indoors throughout the whole of the winter, nearly
without intermission.
Poor Cathy, frightened from her little romance, had been
considerably sadder and duller since its abandonment; and her
father insisted on her reading less, and taking more exercise. She
had his companionship no longer; I esteemed it a duty to supply its
lack, as much as possible, with mine: an inefficient substitute;
for I could only spare two or three hours, from my numerous diurnal
occupations, to follow her footsteps, and then my society was
obviously less desirable than his.
On an afternoon in October, or the beginning of November - a fresh
watery afternoon, when the turf and paths were rustling with moist,
withered leaves, and the cold blue sky was half hidden by clouds -
dark grey streamers, rapidly mounting from the west, and boding
abundant rain - I requested my young lady to forego her ramble,
because I was certain of showers. She refused; and I unwillingly
donned a cloak, and took my umbrella to accompany her on a stroll
to the bottom of the park: a formal walk which she generally
affected if low-spirited - and that she invariably was when Mr.
Edgar had been worse than ordinary, a thing never known from his
confession, but guessed both by her and me from his increased
silence and the melancholy of his countenance. She went sadly on:
there was no running or bounding now, though the chill wind might
well have tempted her to race. And often, from the side of my eye,
I could detect her raising a hand, and brushing something off her
cheek. I gazed round for a means of diverting her thoughts. On
one side of the road rose a high, rough bank, where hazels and
stunted oaks, with their roots half exposed, held uncertain tenure:
the soil was too loose for the latter; and strong winds had blown
some nearly horizontal. In summer Miss Catherine delighted to
climb along these trunks, and sit in the branches, swinging twenty
feet above the ground; and I, pleased with her agility and her
light, childish heart, still considered it proper to scold every
time I caught her at such an elevation, but so that she knew there
was no necessity for descending. From dinner to tea she would lie
in her breeze-rocked cradle, doing nothing except singing old songs
- my nursery lore - to herself, or watching the birds, joint
tenants, feed and entice their young ones to fly: or nestling with
closed lids, half thinking, half dreaming, happier than words can
'Look, Miss!' I exclaimed, pointing to a nook under the roots of
one twisted tree. 'Winter is not here yet. There's a little
flower up yonder, the last bud from the multitude of bluebells that
clouded those turf steps in July with a lilac mist. Will you
clamber up, and pluck it to show to papa?' Cathy stared a long
time at the lonely blossom trembling in its earthy shelter, and
replied, at length - 'No, I'll not touch it: but it looks
melancholy, does it not, Ellen?'
'Yes,' I observed, 'about as starved and suckless as you your
cheeks are bloodless; let us take hold of hands and run. You're so
low, I daresay I shall keep up with you.'
'No,' she repeated, and continued sauntering on, pausing at
intervals to muse over a bit of moss, or a tuft of blanched grass,
or a fungus spreading its bright orange among the heaps of brown
foliage; and, ever and anon, her hand was lifted to her averted
'Catherine, why are you crying, love?' I asked, approaching and
putting my arm over her shoulder. 'You mustn't cry because papa
has a cold; be thankful it is nothing worse.'
She now put no further restraint on her tears; her breath was
stifled by sobs.
'Oh, it will be something worse,' she said. 'And what shall I do
when papa and you leave me, and I am by myself? I can't forget
your words, Ellen; they are always in my ear. How life will be
changed, how dreary the world will be, when papa and you are dead.'
'None can tell whether you won't die before us,' I replied. 'It's
wrong to anticipate evil. We'll hope there are years and years to
come before any of us go: master is young, and I am strong, and
hardly forty-five. My mother lived till eighty, a canty dame to
the last. And suppose Mr. Linton I were spared till he saw sixty,
that would be more years than you have counted, Miss. And would it
not be foolish to mourn a calamity above twenty years beforehand?'
'But Aunt Isabella was younger than papa,' she remarked, gazing up
with timid hope to seek further consolation.
'Aunt Isabella had not you and me to nurse her,' I replied. 'She
wasn't as happy as Master: she hadn't as much to live for. All
you need do, is to wait well on your father, and cheer him by
letting him see you cheerful; and avoid giving him anxiety on any
subject: mind that, Cathy! I'll not disguise but you might kill
him if you were wild and reckless, and cherished a foolish,
fanciful affection for the son of a person who would be glad to
have him in his grave; and allowed him to discover that you fretted
over the separation he has judged it expedient to make.'
'I fret about nothing on earth except papa's illness,' answered my
companion. 'I care for nothing in comparison with papa. And I'll
never - never - oh, never, while I have my senses, do an act or say
a word to vex him. I love him better than myself, Ellen; and I
know it by this: I pray every night that I may live after him;
because I would rather be miserable than that he should be: that
proves I love him better than myself.'
'Good words,' I replied. 'But deeds must prove it also; and after
he is well, remember you don't forget resolutions formed in the
hour of fear.'
As we talked, we neared a door that opened on the road; and my
young lady, lightening into sunshine again, climbed up and seated
herself on the top of the wall, reaching over to gather some hips
that bloomed scarlet on the summit branches of the wild-rose trees
shadowing the highway side: the lower fruit had disappeared, but
only birds could touch the upper, except from Cathy's present
station. In stretching to pull them, her hat fell off; and as the
door was locked, she proposed scrambling down to recover it. I bid
her be cautious lest she got a fall, and she nimbly disappeared.
But the return was no such easy matter: the stones were smooth and
neatly cemented, and the rose-bushes and black-berry stragglers
could yield no assistance in re-ascending. I, like a fool, didn't
recollect that, till I heard her laughing and exclaiming - 'Ellen!
you'll have to fetch the key, or else I must run round to the
porter's lodge. I can't scale the ramparts on this side!'
'Stay where you are,' I answered; 'I have my bundle of keys in my
pocket: perhaps I may manage to open it; if not, I'll go.'
Catherine amused herself with dancing to and fro before the door,
while I tried all the large keys in succession. I had applied the
last, and found that none would do; so, repeating my desire that
she would remain there, I was about to hurry home as fast as I
could, when an approaching sound arrested me. It was the trot of a
horse; Cathy's dance stopped also.
'Who is that?' I whispered.
'Ellen, I wish you could open the door,' whispered back my
companion, anxiously.
'Ho, Miss Linton!' cried a deep voice (the rider's), 'I'm glad to
meet you. Don't be in haste to enter, for I have an explanation to
ask and obtain.'
'I sha'n't speak to you, Mr. Heathcliff,' answered Catherine.
'Papa says you are a wicked man, and you hate both him and me; and
Ellen says the same.'
'That is nothing to the purpose,' said Heathcliff. (He it was.)
'I don't hate my son, I suppose; and it is concerning him that I
demand your attention. Yes; you have cause to blush. Two or three
months since, were you not in the habit of writing to Linton?
making love in play, eh? You deserved, both of you, flogging for
that! You especially, the elder; and less sensitive, as it turns
out. I've got your letters, and if you give me any pertness I'll
send them to your father. I presume you grew weary of the
amusement and dropped it, didn't you? Well, you dropped Linton
with it into a Slough of Despond. He was in earnest: in love,
really. As true as I live, he's dying for you; breaking his heart
at your fickleness: not figuratively, but actually. Though
Hareton has made him a standing jest for six weeks, and I have used
more serious measures, and attempted to frighten him out of his
idiotcy, he gets worse daily; and he'll be under the sod before
summer, unless you restore him!'
'How can you lie so glaringly to the poor child?' I called from the
inside. 'Pray ride on! How can you deliberately get up such
paltry falsehoods? Miss Cathy, I'll knock the lock off with a
stone: you won't believe that vile nonsense. You can feel in
yourself it is impossible that a person should die for love of a
'I was not aware there were eavesdroppers,' muttered the detected
villain. 'Worthy Mrs. Dean, I like you, but I don't like your
double-dealing,' he added aloud. 'How could YOU lie so glaringly
as to affirm I hated the "poor child"? and invent bugbear stories
to terrify her from my door-stones? Catherine Linton (the very
name warms me), my bonny lass, I shall be from home all this week;
go and see if have not spoken truth: do, there's a darling! Just
imagine your father in my place, and Linton in yours; then think
how you would value your careless lover if he refused to stir a
step to comfort you, when your father himself entreated him; and
don't, from pure stupidity, fall into the same error. I swear, on
my salvation, he's going to his grave, and none but you can save
The lock gave way and I issued out.
'I swear Linton is dying,' repeated Heathcliff, looking hard at me.
'And grief and disappointment are hastening his death. Nelly, if
you won't let her go, you can walk over yourself. But I shall not
return till this time next week; and I think your master himself
would scarcely object to her visiting her cousin.'
'Come in,' said I, taking Cathy by the arm and half forcing her to
re-enter; for she lingered, viewing with troubled eyes the features
of the speaker, too stern to express his inward deceit.
He pushed his horse close, and, bending down, observed - 'Miss
Catherine, I'll own to you that I have little patience with Linton;
and Hareton and Joseph have less. I'll own that he's with a harsh
set. He pines for kindness, as well as love; and a kind word from
you would be his best medicine. Don't mind Mrs. Dean's cruel
cautions; but be generous, and contrive to see him. He dreams of
you day and night, and cannot be persuaded that you don't hate him,
since you neither write nor call.'
I closed the door, and rolled a stone to assist the loosened lock
in holding it; and spreading my umbrella, I drew my charge
underneath: for the rain began to drive through the moaning
branches of the trees, and warned us to avoid delay. Our hurry
prevented any comment on the encounter with Heathcliff, as we
stretched towards home; but I divined instinctively that
Catherine's heart was clouded now in double darkness. Her features
were so sad, they did not seem hers: she evidently regarded what
she had heard as every syllable true.
The master had retired to rest before we came in. Cathy stole to
his room to inquire how he was; he had fallen asleep. She
returned, and asked me to sit with her in the library. We took our
tea together; and afterwards she lay down on the rug, and told me
not to talk, for she was weary. I got a book, and pretended to
read. As soon as she supposed me absorbed in my occupation, she
recommenced her silent weeping: it appeared, at present, her
favourite diversion. I suffered her to enjoy it a while; then I
expostulated: deriding and ridiculing all Mr. Heathcliff's
assertions about his son, as if I were certain she would coincide.
Alas! I hadn't skill to counteract the effect his account had
produced: it was just what he intended.
'You may be right, Ellen,' she answered; 'but I shall never feel at
ease till I know. And I must tell Linton it is not my fault that I
don't write, and convince him that I shall not change.'
What use were anger and protestations against her silly credulity?
We parted that night - hostile; but next day beheld me on the road
to Wuthering Heights, by the side of my wilful young mistress's
pony. I couldn't bear to witness her sorrow: to see her pale,
dejected countenance, and heavy eyes: and I yielded, in the faint
hope that Linton himself might prove, by his reception of us, how
little of the tale was founded on fact.
THE rainy night had ushered in a misty morning - half frost, half
drizzle - and temporary brooks crossed our path - gurgling from the
uplands. My feet were thoroughly wetted; I was cross and low;
exactly the humour suited for making the most of these disagreeable
things. We entered the farm-house by the kitchen way, to ascertain
whether Mr. Heathcliff were really absent: because I put slight
faith in his own affirmation.
Joseph seemed sitting in a sort of elysium alone, beside a roaring
fire; a quart of ale on the table near him, bristling with large
pieces of toasted oat-cake; and his black, short pipe in his mouth.
Catherine ran to the hearth to warm herself. I asked if the master
was in? My question remained so long unanswered, that I thought
the old man had grown deaf, and repeated it louder.
'Na - ay!' he snarled, or rather screamed through his nose. 'Na -
ay! yah muh goa back whear yah coom frough.'
'Joseph!' cried a peevish voice, simultaneously with me, from the
inner room. 'How often am I to call you? There are only a few red
ashes now. Joseph! come this moment.'
Vigorous puffs, and a resolute stare into the grate, declared he
had no ear for this appeal. The housekeeper and Hareton were
invisible; one gone on an errand, and the other at his work,
probably. We knew Linton's tones, and entered.
'Oh, I hope you'll die in a garret, starved to death!' said the
boy, mistaking our approach for that of his negligent attendant.
He stopped on observing his error: his cousin flew to him.
'Is that you, Miss Linton?' he said, raising his head from the arm
of the great chair, in which he reclined. 'No - don't kiss me: it
takes my breath. Dear me! Papa said you would call,' continued
he, after recovering a little from Catherine's embrace; while she
stood by looking very contrite. 'Will you shut the door, if you
please? you left it open; and those - those DETESTABLE creatures
won't bring coals to the fire. It's so cold!'
I stirred up the cinders, and fetched a scuttleful myself. The
invalid complained of being covered with ashes; but he had a
tiresome cough, and looked feverish and ill, so I did not rebuke
his temper.
'Well, Linton,' murmured Catherine, when his corrugated brow
relaxed, 'are you glad to see me? Can I do you any good?'
'Why didn't you come before?' he asked. 'You should have come,
instead of writing. It tired me dreadfully writing those long
letters. I'd far rather have talked to you. Now, I can neither
bear to talk, nor anything else. I wonder where Zillah is! Will
you' (looking at me) 'step into the kitchen and see?'
I had received no thanks for my other service; and being unwilling
to run to and fro at his behest, I replied - 'Nobody is out there
but Joseph.'
'I want to drink,' he exclaimed fretfully, turning away. 'Zillah
is constantly gadding off to Gimmerton since papa went: it's
miserable! And I'm obliged to come down here - they resolved never
to hear me up-stairs.'
'Is your father attentive to you, Master Heathcliff?' I asked,
perceiving Catherine to be checked in her friendly advances.
'Attentive? He makes them a little more attentive at least,' he
cried. 'The wretches! Do you know, Miss Linton, that brute
Hareton laughs at me! I hate him! indeed, I hate them all: they
are odious beings.'
Cathy began searching for some water; she lighted on a pitcher in
the dresser, filled a tumbler, and brought it. He bid her add a
spoonful of wine from a bottle on the table; and having swallowed a
small portion, appeared more tranquil, and said she was very kind.
'And are you glad to see me?' asked she, reiterating her former
question and pleased to detect the faint dawn of a smile.
'Yes, I am. It's something new to hear a voice like yours!' he
replied. 'But I have been vexed, because you wouldn't come. And
papa swore it was owing to me: he called me a pitiful, shuffling,
worthless thing; and said you despised me; and if he had been in my
place, he would be more the master of the Grange than your father
by this time. But you don't despise me, do you, Miss - ?'
'I wish you would say Catherine, or Cathy,' interrupted my young
lady. 'Despise you? No! Next to papa and Ellen, I love you
better than anybody living. I don't love Mr. Heathcliff, though;
and I dare not come when he returns: will he stay away many days?'
'Not many,' answered Linton; 'but he goes on to the moors
frequently, since the shooting season commenced; and you might
spend an hour or two with me in his absence. Do say you will. I
think I should not be peevish with you: you'd not provoke me, and
you'd always be ready to help me, wouldn't you?'
'Yes" said Catherine, stroking his long soft hair: 'if I could
only get papa's consent, I'd spend half my time with you. Pretty
Linton! I wish you were my brother.'
'And then you would like me as well as your father?' observed he,
more cheerfully. 'But papa says you would love me better than him
and all the world, if you were my wife; so I'd rather you were
'No, I should never love anybody better than papa,' she returned
gravely. 'And people hate their wives, sometimes; but not their
sisters and brothers: and if you were the latter, you would live
with us, and papa would be as fond of you as he is of me.'
Linton denied that people ever hated their wives; but Cathy
affirmed they did, and, in her wisdom, instanced his own father's
aversion to her aunt. I endeavoured to stop her thoughtless
tongue. I couldn't succeed till everything she knew was out.
Master Heathcliff, much irritated, asserted her relation was false.
'Papa told me; and papa does not tell falsehoods,' she answered
'MY papa scorns yours!' cried Linton. 'He calls him a sneaking
'Yours is a wicked man,' retorted Catherine; 'and you are very
naughty to dare to repeat what he says. He must be wicked to have
made Aunt Isabella leave him as she did.'
'She didn't leave him,' said the boy; 'you sha'n't contradict me.'
'She did,' cried my young lady.
'Well, I'll tell you something!' said Linton. 'Your mother hated
your father: now then.'
'Oh!' exclaimed Catherine, too enraged to continue.
'And she loved mine,' added he.
'You little liar! I hate you now!' she panted, and her face grew
red with passion.
'She did! she did!' sang Linton, sinking into the recess of his
chair, and leaning back his head to enjoy the agitation of the
other disputant, who stood behind.
'Hush, Master Heathcliff!' I said; 'that's your father's tale, too,
I suppose.'
'It isn't: you hold your tongue!' he answered. 'She did, she did,
Catherine! she did, she did!'
Cathy, beside herself, gave the chair a violent push, and caused
him to fall against one arm. He was immediately seized by a
suffocating cough that soon ended his triumph. It lasted so long
that it frightened even me. As to his cousin, she wept with all
her might, aghast at the mischief she had done: though she said
nothing. I held him till the fit exhausted itself. Then he thrust
me away, and leant his head down silently. Catherine quelled her
lamentations also, took a seat opposite, and looked solemnly into
the fire.
'How do you feel now, Master Heathcliff?' I inquired, after waiting
ten minutes.
'I wish SHE felt as I do,' he replied: 'spiteful, cruel thing!
Hareton never touches me: he never struck me in his life. And I
was better to-day: and there - ' his voice died in a whimper.
'I didn't strike you!' muttered Cathy, chewing her lip to prevent
another burst of emotion.
He sighed and moaned like one under great suffering, and kept it up
for a quarter of an hour; on purpose to distress his cousin
apparently, for whenever he caught a stifled sob from her he put
renewed pain and pathos into the inflexions of his voice.
'I'm sorry I hurt you, Linton,' she said at length, racked beyond
endurance. 'But I couldn't have been hurt by that little push, and
I had no idea that you could, either: you're not much, are you,
Linton? Don't let me go home thinking I've done you harm. Answer!
speak to me.'
'I can't speak to you,' he murmured; 'you've hurt me so that I
shall lie awake all night choking with this cough. If you had it
you'd know what it was; but YOU'LL be comfortably asleep while I'm
in agony, and nobody near me. I wonder how you would like to pass
those fearful nights!' And he began to wail aloud, for very pity
of himself.
'Since you are in the habit of passing dreadful nights,' I said,
'it won't be Miss who spoils your ease: you'd be the same had she
never come. However, she shall not disturb you again; and perhaps
you'll get quieter when we leave you.'
'Must I go?' asked Catherine dolefully, bending over him. 'Do you
want me to go, Linton?'
'You can't alter what you've done,' he replied pettishly, shrinking
from her, 'unless you alter it for the worse by teasing me into a
'Well, then, I must go?' she repeated.
'Let me alone, at least,' said he; 'I can't bear your talking.'
She lingered, and resisted my persuasions to departure a tiresome
while; but as he neither looked up nor spoke, she finally made a
movement to the door, and I followed. We were recalled by a
scream. Linton had slid from his seat on to the hearthstone, and
lay writhing in the mere perverseness of an indulged plague of a
child, determined to be as grievous and harassing as it can. I
thoroughly gauged his disposition from his behaviour, and saw at
once it would be folly to attempt humouring him. Not so my
companion: she ran back in terror, knelt down, and cried, and
soothed, and entreated, till he grew quiet from lack of breath: by
no means from compunction at distressing her.
'I shall lift him on to the settle,' I said, 'and he may roll about
as he pleases: we can't stop to watch him. I hope you are
satisfied, Miss Cathy, that you are not the person to benefit him;
and that his condition of health is not occasioned by attachment to
you. Now, then, there he is! Come away: as soon as he knows
there is nobody by to care for his nonsense, he'll be glad to lie
She placed a cushion under his head, and offered him some water; he
rejected the latter, and tossed uneasily on the former, as if it
were a stone or a block of wood. She tried to put it more
'I can't do with that,' he said; 'it's not high enough.'
Catherine brought another to lay above it.
'That's too high,' murmured the provoking thing.
'How must I arrange it, then?' she asked despairingly.
He twined himself up to her, as she half knelt by the settle, and
converted her shoulder into a support.
'No, that won't do,' I said. 'You'll be content with the cushion,
Master Heathcliff. Miss has wasted too much time on you already:
we cannot remain five minutes longer.'
'Yes, yes, we can!' replied Cathy. 'He's good and patient now.
He's beginning to think I shall have far greater misery than he
will to-night, if I believe he is the worse for my visit: and then
I dare not come again. Tell the truth about it, Linton; for I
musn't come, if I have hurt you.'
'You must come, to cure me,' he answered. 'You ought to come,
because you have hurt me: you know you have extremely! I was not
as ill when you entered as I am at present - was I?'
'But you've made yourself ill by crying and being in a passion. - I
didn't do it all,' said his cousin. 'However, we'll be friends
now. And you want me: you would wish to see me sometimes,
'I told you I did,' he replied impatiently. 'Sit on the settle and
let me lean on your knee. That's as mamma used to do, whole
afternoons together. Sit quite still and don't talk: but you may
sing a song, if you can sing; or you may say a nice long
interesting ballad - one of those you promised to teach me; or a
story. I'd rather have a ballad, though: begin.'
Catherine repeated the longest she could remember. The employment
pleased both mightily. Linton would have another, and after that
another, notwithstanding my strenuous objections; and so they went
on until the clock struck twelve, and we heard Hareton in the
court, returning for his dinner.
'And to-morrow, Catherine, will you be here to-morrow?' asked young
Heathcliff, holding her frock as she rose reluctantly.
'No,' I answered, 'nor next day neither.' She, however, gave a
different response evidently, for his forehead cleared as she
stooped and whispered in his ear.
'You won't go to-morrow, recollect, Miss!' I commenced, when we
were out of the house. 'You are not dreaming of it, are you?'
She smiled.
'Oh, I'll take good care,' I continued: 'I'll have that lock
mended, and you can escape by no way else.'
'I can get over the wall,' she said laughing. 'The Grange is not a
prison, Ellen, and you are not my gaoler. And besides, I'm almost
seventeen: I'm a woman. And I'm certain Linton would recover
quickly if he had me to look after him. I'm older than he is, you
know, and wiser: less childish, am I not? And he'll soon do as I
direct him, with some slight coaxing. He's a pretty little darling
when he's good. I'd make such a pet of him, if he were mine. We
should, never quarrel, should we after we were used to each other?
Don't you like him, Ellen?'
'Like him!' I exclaimed. 'The worst-tempered bit of a sickly slip
that ever struggled into its teens. Happily, as Mr. Heathcliff
conjectured, he'll not win twenty. I doubt whether he'll see
spring, indeed. And small loss to his family whenever he drops
off. And lucky it is for us that his father took him: the kinder
he was treated, the more tedious and selfish he'd be. I'm glad you
have no chance of having him for a husband, Miss Catherine.'
My companion waxed serious at hearing this speech. To speak of his
death so regardlessly wounded her feelings.
'He's younger than I,' she answered, after a protracted pause of
meditation, 'and he ought to live the longest: he will - he must
live as long as I do. He's as strong now as when he first came
into the north; I'm positive of that. It's only a cold that ails
him, the same as papa has. You say papa will get better, and why
shouldn't he?'
'Well, well,' I cried, 'after all, we needn't trouble ourselves;
for listen, Miss, - and mind, I'll keep my word, - if you attempt
going to Wuthering Heights again, with or without me, I shall
inform Mr. Linton, and, unless he allow it, the intimacy with your
cousin must not be revived.'
'It has been revived,' muttered Cathy, sulkily.
'Must not be continued, then,' I said.
'We'll see,' was her reply, and she set off at a gallop, leaving me
to toil in the rear.
We both reached home before our dinner-time; my master supposed we
had been wandering through the park, and therefore he demanded no
explanation of our absence. As soon as I entered I hastened to
change my soaked shoes and stockings; but sitting such awhile at
the Heights had done the mischief. On the succeeding morning I was
laid up, and during three weeks I remained incapacitated for
attending to my duties: a calamity never experienced prior to that
period, and never, I am thankful to say, since.
My little mistress behaved like an angel in coming to wait on me,
and cheer my solitude; the confinement brought me exceedingly low.
It is wearisome, to a stirring active body: but few have slighter
reasons for complaint than I had. The moment Catherine left Mr.
Linton's room she appeared at my bedside. Her day was divided
between us; no amusement usurped a minute: she neglected her
meals, her studies, and her play; and she was the fondest nurse
that ever watched. She must have had a warm heart, when she loved
her father so, to give so much to me. I said her days were divided
between us; but the master retired early, and I generally needed
nothing after six o'clock, thus the evening was her own. Poor
thing! I never considered what she did with herself after tea.
And though frequently, when she looked in to bid me good-night, I
remarked a fresh colour in her cheeks and a pinkness over her
slender fingers, instead of fancying the line borrowed from a cold
ride across the moors, I laid it to the charge of a hot fire in the
AT the close of three weeks I was able to quit my chamber and move
about the house. And on the first occasion of my sitting up in the
evening I asked Catherine to read to me, because my eyes were weak.
We were in the library, the master having gone to bed: she
consented, rather unwillingly, I fancied; and imagining my sort of
books did not suit her, I bid her please herself in the choice of
what she perused. She selected one of her own favourites, and got
forward steadily about an hour; then came frequent questions.
'Ellen, are not you tired? Hadn't you better lie down now? You'll
be sick, keeping up so long, Ellen.'
'No, no, dear, I'm not tired,' I returned, continually.
Perceiving me immovable, she essayed another method of showing her
disrelish for her occupation. It changed to yawning, and
stretching, and -
'Ellen, I'm tired.'
'Give over then and talk,' I answered.
That was worse: she fretted and sighed, and looked at her watch
till eight, and finally went to her room, completely overdone with
sleep; judging by her peevish, heavy look, and the constant rubbing
she inflicted on her eyes. The following night she seemed more
impatient still; and on the third from recovering my company she
complained of a headache, and left me. I thought her conduct odd;
and having remained alone a long while, I resolved on going and
inquiring whether she were better, and asking her to come and lie
on the sofa, instead of up-stairs in the dark. No Catherine could
I discover up-stairs, and none below. The servants affirmed they
had not seen her. I listened at Mr. Edgar's door; all was silence.
I returned to her apartment, extinguished my candle, and seated
myself in the window.
The moon shone bright; a sprinkling of snow covered the ground, and
I reflected that she might, possibly, have taken it into her head
to walk about the garden, for refreshment. I did detect a figure
creeping along the inner fence of the park; but it was not my young
mistress: on its emerging into the light, I recognised one of the
grooms. He stood a considerable period, viewing the carriage-road
through the grounds; then started off at a brisk pace, as if he had
detected something, and reappeared presently, leading Miss's pony;
and there she was, just dismounted, and walking by its side. The
man took his charge stealthily across the grass towards the stable.
Cathy entered by the casement-window of the drawing-room, and
glided noiselessly up to where I awaited her. She put the door
gently too, slipped off her snowy shoes, untied her hat, and was
proceeding, unconscious of my espionage, to lay aside her mantle,
when I suddenly rose and revealed myself. The surprise petrified
her an instant: she uttered an inarticulate exclamation, and stood
'My dear Miss Catherine,' I began, too vividly impressed by her
recent kindness to break into a scold, 'where have you been riding
out at this hour? And why should you try to deceive me by telling
a tale? Where have you been? Speak!'
'To the bottom of the park,' she stammered. 'I didn't tell a
'And nowhere else?' I demanded.
'No,' was the muttered reply.
'Oh, Catherine!' I cried, sorrowfully. 'You know you have been
doing wrong, or you wouldn't be driven to uttering an untruth to
me. That does grieve me. I'd rather be three months ill, than
hear you frame a deliberate lie.'
She sprang forward, and bursting into tears, threw her arms round
my neck.
'Well, Ellen, I'm so afraid of you being angry,' she said.
'Promise not to be angry, and you shall know the very truth: I
hate to hide it.'
We sat down in the window-seat; I assured her I would not scold,
whatever her secret might be, and I guessed it, of course; so she
commenced -
'I've been to Wuthering Heights, Ellen, and I've never missed going
a day since you fell ill; except thrice before, and twice after you
left your room. I gave Michael books and pictures to prepare Minny
every evening, and to put her back in the stable: you mustn't
scold him either, mind. I was at the Heights by half-past six, and
generally stayed till half-past eight, and then galloped home. It
was not to amuse myself that I went: I was often wretched all the
time. Now and then I was happy: once in a week perhaps. At
first, I expected there would be sad work persuading you to let me
keep my word to Linton: for I had engaged to call again next day,
when we quitted him; but, as you stayed up-stairs on the morrow, I
escaped that trouble. While Michael was refastening the lock of
the park door in the afternoon, I got possession of the key, and
told him how my cousin wished me to visit him, because he was sick,
and couldn't come to the Grange; and how papa would object to my
going: and then I negotiated with him about the pony. He is fond
of reading, and he thinks of leaving soon to get married; so he
offered, if I would lend him books out of the library, to do what I
wished: but I preferred giving him my own, and that satisfied him
'On my second visit Linton seemed in lively spirits; and Zillah
(that is their housekeeper) made us a clean room and a good fire,
and told us that, as Joseph was out at a prayer-meeting and Hareton
Earnshaw was off with his dogs - robbing our woods of pheasants, as
I heard afterwards - we might do what we liked. She brought me
some warm wine and gingerbread, and appeared exceedingly goodnatured,
and Linton sat in the arm-chair, and I in the little
rocking chair on the hearth-stone, and we laughed and talked so
merrily, and found so much to say: we planned where we would go,
and what we would do in summer. I needn't repeat that, because you
would call it silly.
'One time, however, we were near quarrelling. He said the
pleasantest manner of spending a hot July day was lying from
morning till evening on a bank of heath in the middle of the moors,
with the bees humming dreamily about among the bloom, and the larks
singing high up overhead, and the blue sky and bright sun shining
steadily and cloudlessly. That was his most perfect idea of
heaven's happiness: mine was rocking in a rustling green tree,
with a west wind blowing, and bright white clouds flitting rapidly
above; and not only larks, but throstles, and blackbirds, and
linnets, and cuckoos pouring out music on every side, and the moors
seen at a distance, broken into cool dusky dells; but close by
great swells of long grass undulating in waves to the breeze; and
woods and sounding water, and the whole world awake and wild with
joy. He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to
sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would
be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I
should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in
mine, and began to grow very snappish. At last, we agreed to try
both, as soon as the right weather came; and then we kissed each
other and were friends.
'After sitting still an hour, I looked at the great room with its
smooth uncarpeted floor, and thought how nice it would be to play
in, if we removed the table; and I asked Linton to call Zillah in
to help us, and we'd have a game at blindman's-buff; she should try
to catch us: you used to, you know, Ellen. He wouldn't: there
was no pleasure in it, he said; but he consented to play at ball
with me. We found two in a cupboard, among a heap of old toys,
tops, and hoops, and battledores and shuttlecocks. One was marked
C., and the other H.; I wished to have the C., because that stood
for Catherine, and the H. might be for Heathcliff, his name; but
the bran came out of H., and Linton didn't like it. I beat him
constantly: and he got cross again, and coughed, and returned to
his chair. That night, though, he easily recovered his good
humour: he was charmed with two or three pretty songs - YOUR
songs, Ellen; and when I was obliged to go, he begged and entreated
me to come the following evening; and I promised. Minny and I went
flying home as light as air; and I dreamt of Wuthering Heights and
my sweet, darling cousin, till morning.
'On the morrow I was sad; partly because you were poorly, and
partly that I wished my father knew, and approved of my excursions:
but it was beautiful moonlight after tea; and, as I rode on, the
gloom cleared. I shall have another happy evening, I thought to
myself; and what delights me more, my pretty Linton will. I
trotted up their garden, and was turning round to the back, when
that fellow Earnshaw met me, took my bridle, and bid me go in by
the front entrance. He patted Minny's neck, and said she was a
bonny beast, and appeared as if he wanted me to speak to him. I
only told him to leave my horse alone, or else it would kick him.
He answered in his vulgar accent, "It wouldn't do mitch hurt if it
did;" and surveyed its legs with a smile. I was half inclined to
make it try; however, he moved off to open the door, and, as he
raised the latch, he looked up to the inscription above, and said,
with a stupid mixture of awkwardness and elation: "Miss Catherine!
I can read yon, now."
'"Wonderful," I exclaimed. "Pray let us hear you - you ARE grown
'He spelt, and drawled over by syllables, the name - "Hareton
'"And the figures?" I cried, encouragingly, perceiving that he came
to a dead halt.
'"I cannot tell them yet," he answered.
'"Oh, you dunce!" I said, laughing heartily at his failure.
'The fool stared, with a grin hovering about his lips, and a scowl
gathering over his eyes, as if uncertain whether he might not join
in my mirth: whether it were not pleasant familiarity, or what it
really was, contempt. I settled his doubts, by suddenly retrieving
my gravity and desiring him to walk away, for I came to see Linton,
not him. He reddened - I saw that by the moonlight - dropped his
hand from the latch, and skulked off, a picture of mortified
vanity. He imagined himself to be as accomplished as Linton, I
suppose, because he could spell his own name; and was marvellously
discomfited that I didn't think the same.'
'Stop, Miss Catherine, dear!' - I interrupted. 'I shall not scold,
but I don't like your conduct there. If you had remembered that
Hareton was your cousin as much as Master Heathcliff, you would
have felt how improper it was to behave in that way. At least, it
was praiseworthy ambition for him to desire to be as accomplished
as Linton; and probably he did not learn merely to show off: you
had made him ashamed of his ignorance before, I have no doubt; and
he wished to remedy it and please you. To sneer at his imperfect
attempt was very bad breeding. Had you been brought up in his
circumstances, would you be less rude? He was as quick and as
intelligent a child as ever you were; and I'm hurt that he should
be despised now, because that base Heathcliff has treated him so
'Well, Ellen, you won't cry about it, will you?' she exclaimed,
surprised at my earnestness. 'But wait, and you shall hear if he
conned his A B C to please me; and if it were worth while being
civil to the brute. I entered; Linton was lying on the settle, and
half got up to welcome me.
'"I'm ill to-night, Catherine, love," he said; "and you must have
all the talk, and let me listen. Come, and sit by me. I was sure
you wouldn't break your word, and I'll make you promise again,
before you go."
'I knew now that I mustn't tease him, as he was ill; and I spoke
softly and put no questions, and avoided irritating him in any way.
I had brought some of my nicest books for him: he asked me to read
a little of one, and I was about to comply, when Earnshaw burst the
door open: having gathered venom with reflection. He advanced
direct to us, seized Linton by the arm, and swung him off the seat.
'"Get to thy own room!" he said, in a voice almost inarticulate
with passion; and his face looked swelled and furious. "Take her
there if she comes to see thee: thou shalln't keep me out of this.
Begone wi' ye both!"
'He swore at us, and left Linton no time to answer, nearly throwing
him into the kitchen; and he clenched his fist as I followed,
seemingly longing to knock me down. I was afraid for a moment, and
I let one volume fall; he kicked it after me, and shut us out. I
heard a malignant, crackly laugh by the fire, and turning, beheld
that odious Joseph standing rubbing his bony hands, and quivering.
'"I wer sure he'd sarve ye out! He's a grand lad! He's getten t'
raight sperrit in him! HE knaws - ay, he knaws, as weel as I do,
who sud be t' maister yonder - Ech, ech, ech! He made ye skift
properly! Ech, ech, ech!"
'"Where must we go?" I asked of my cousin, disregarding the old
wretch's mockery.
'Linton was white and trembling. He was not pretty then, Ellen:
oh, no! he looked frightful; for his thin face and large eyes were
wrought into an expression of frantic, powerless fury. He grasped
the handle of the door, and shook it: it was fastened inside.
'"If you don't let me in, I'll kill you! - If you don't let me in,
I'll kill you!" he rather shrieked than said. "Devil! devil! -
I'll kill you - I'll kill you!"
Joseph uttered his croaking laugh again.
'"Thear, that's t' father!" he cried. "That's father! We've allas
summut o' either side in us. Niver heed, Hareton, lad - dunnut be
'feard - he cannot get at thee!"
'I took hold of Linton's hands, and tried to pull him away; but he
shrieked so shockingly that I dared not proceed. At last his cries
were choked by a dreadful fit of coughing; blood gushed from his
mouth, and he fell on the ground. I ran into the yard, sick with
terror; and called for Zillah, as loud as I could. She soon heard
me: she was milking the cows in a shed behind the barn, and
hurrying from her work, she inquired what there was to do? I
hadn't breath to explain; dragging her in, I looked about for
Linton. Earnshaw had come out to examine the mischief he had
caused, and he was then conveying the poor thing up-stairs. Zillah
and I ascended after him; but he stopped me at the top of the
steps, and said I shouldn't go in: I must go home. I exclaimed
that he had killed Linton, and I WOULD enter. Joseph locked the
door, and declared I should do "no sich stuff," and asked me
whether I were "bahn to be as mad as him." I stood crying till the
housekeeper reappeared. She affirmed he would be better in a bit,
but he couldn't do with that shrieking and din; and she took me,
and nearly carried me into the house.
'Ellen, I was ready to tear my hair off my head! I sobbed and wept
so that my eyes were almost blind; and the ruffian you have such
sympathy with stood opposite: presuming every now and then to bid
me "wisht," and denying that it was his fault; and, finally,
frightened by my assertions that I would tell papa, and that he
should be put in prison and hanged, he commenced blubbering
himself, and hurried out to hide his cowardly agitation. Still, I
was not rid of him: when at length they compelled me to depart,
and I had got some hundred yards off the premises, he suddenly
issued from the shadow of the road-side, and checked Minny and took
hold of me.
'"Miss Catherine, I'm ill grieved," he began, "but it's rayther too
bad - "
'I gave him a cut with my whip, thinking perhaps he would murder
me. He let go, thundering one of his horrid curses, and I galloped
home more than half out of my senses.
'I didn't bid you good-night that evening, and I didn't go to
Wuthering Heights the next: I wished to go exceedingly; but I was
strangely excited, and dreaded to hear that Linton was dead,
sometimes; and sometimes shuddered at the thought of encountering
Hareton. On the third day I took courage: at least, I couldn't
bear longer suspense, and stole off once more. I went at five
o'clock, and walked; fancying I might manage to creep into the
house, and up to Linton's room, unobserved. However, the dogs gave
notice of my approach. Zillah received me, and saying "the lad was
mending nicely," showed me into a small, tidy, carpeted apartment,
where, to my inexpressible joy, I beheld Linton laid on a little
sofa, reading one of my books. But he would neither speak to me
nor look at me, through a whole hour, Ellen: he has such an
unhappy temper. And what quite confounded me, when he did open his
mouth, it was to utter the falsehood that I had occasioned the
uproar, and Hareton was not to blame! Unable to reply, except
passionately, I got up and walked from the room. He sent after me
a faint "Catherine!" He did not reckon on being answered so: but
I wouldn't turn back; and the morrow was the second day on which I
stayed at home, nearly determined to visit him no more. But it was
so miserable going to bed and getting up, and never hearing
anything about him, that my resolution melted into air before it
was properly formed. It had appeared wrong to take the journey
once; now it seemed wrong to refrain. Michael came to ask if he
must saddle Minny; I said "Yes," and considered myself doing a duty
as she bore me over the hills. I was forced to pass the front
windows to get to the court: it was no use trying to conceal my
'"Young master is in the house," said Zillah, as she saw me making
for the parlour. I went in; Earnshaw was there also, but he
quitted the room directly. Linton sat in the great arm-chair half
asleep; walking up to the fire, I began in a serious tone, partly
meaning it to be true -
'"As you don't like me, Linton, and as you think I come on purpose
to hurt you, and pretend that I do so every time, this is our last
meeting: let us say good-bye; and tell Mr. Heathcliff that you
have no wish to see me, and that he mustn't invent any more
falsehoods on the subject."
'"Sit down and take your hat off, Catherine," he answered. "You
are so much happier than I am, you ought to be better. Papa talks
enough of my defects, and shows enough scorn of me, to make it
natural I should doubt myself. I doubt whether I am not altogether
as worthless as he calls me, frequently; and then I feel so cross
and bitter, I hate everybody! I am worthless, and bad in temper,
and bad in spirit, almost always; and, if you choose, you may say
good-bye: you'll get rid of an annoyance. Only, Catherine, do me
this justice: believe that if I might be as sweet, and as kind,
and as good as you are, I would be; as willingly, and more so, than
as happy and as healthy. And believe that your kindness has made
me love you deeper than if I deserved your love: and though I
couldn't, and cannot help showing my nature to you, I regret it and
repent it; and shall regret and repent it till I die!"
'I felt he spoke the truth; and I felt I must forgive him: and,
though we should quarrel the next moment, I must forgive him again.
We were reconciled; but we cried, both of us, the whole time I
stayed: not entirely for sorrow; yet I WAS sorry Linton had that
distorted nature. He'll never let his friends be at ease, and
he'll never be at ease himself! I have always gone to his little
parlour, since that night; because his father returned the day
'About three times, I think, we have been merry and hopeful, as we
were the first evening; the rest of my visits were dreary and
troubled: now with his selfishness and spite, and now with his
sufferings: but I've learned to endure the former with nearly as
little resentment as the latter. Mr. Heathcliff purposely avoids
me: I have hardly seen him at all. Last Sunday, indeed, coming
earlier than usual, I heard him abusing poor Linton cruelly for his
conduct of the night before. I can't tell how he knew of it,
unless he listened. Linton had certainly behaved provokingly:
however, it was the business of nobody but me, and I interrupted
Mr. Heathcliff's lecture by entering and telling him so. He burst
into a laugh, and went away, saying he was glad I took that view of
the matter. Since then, I've told Linton he must whisper his
bitter things. Now, Ellen, you have heard all. I can't be
prevented from going to Wuthering Heights, except by inflicting
misery on two people; whereas, if you'll only not tell papa, my
going need disturb the tranquillity of none. You'll not tell, will
you? It will be very heartless, if you do.'
'I'll make up my mind on that point by to-morrow, Miss Catherine,'
I replied. 'It requires some study; and so I'll leave you to your
rest, and go think it over.'
I thought it over aloud, in my master's presence; walking straight
from her room to his, and relating the whole story: with the
exception of her conversations with her cousin, and any mention of
Hareton. Mr. Linton was alarmed and distressed, more than he would
acknowledge to me. In the morning, Catherine learnt my betrayal of
her confidence, and she learnt also that her secret visits were to
end. In vain she wept and writhed against the interdict, and
implored her father to have pity on Linton: all she got to comfort
her was a promise that he would write and give him leave to come to
the Grange when he pleased; but explaining that he must no longer
expect to see Catherine at Wuthering Heights. Perhaps, had he been
aware of his nephew's disposition and state of health, he would
have seen fit to withhold even that slight consolation.
'THESE things happened last winter, sir,' said Mrs. Dean; 'hardly
more than a year ago. Last winter, I did not think, at another
twelve months' end, I should be amusing a stranger to the family
with relating them! Yet, who knows how long you'll be a stranger?
You're too young to rest always contented, living by yourself; and
I some way fancy no one could see Catherine Linton and not love
her. You smile; but why do you look so lively and interested when
I talk about her? and why have you asked me to hang her picture
over your fireplace? and why - ?'
'Stop, my good friend!' I cried. 'It may be very possible that I
should love her; but would she love me? I doubt it too much to
venture my tranquillity by running into temptation: and then my
home is not here. I'm of the busy world, and to its arms I must
return. Go on. Was Catherine obedient to her father's commands?'
'She was,' continued the housekeeper. 'Her affection for him was
still the chief sentiment in her heart; and he spoke without anger:
he spoke in the deep tenderness of one about to leave his treasure
amid perils and foes, where his remembered words would be the only
aid that he could bequeath to guide her. He said to me, a few days
afterwards, "I wish my nephew would write, Ellen, or call. Tell
me, sincerely, what you think of him: is he changed for the
better, or is there a prospect of improvement, as he grows a man?"
'"He's very delicate, sir," I replied; "and scarcely likely to
reach manhood: but this I can say, he does not resemble his
father; and if Miss Catherine had the misfortune to marry him, he
would not be beyond her control: unless she were extremely and
foolishly indulgent. However, master, you'll have plenty of time
to get acquainted with him and see whether he would suit her: it
wants four years and more to his being of age."'
Edgar sighed; and, walking to the window, looked out towards
Gimmerton Kirk. It was a misty afternoon, but the February sun
shone dimly, and we could just distinguish the two fir-trees in the
yard, and the sparely-scattered gravestones.
'I've prayed often,' he half soliloquised, 'for the approach of
what is coming; and now I begin to shrink, and fear it. I thought
the memory of the hour I came down that glen a bridegroom would be
less sweet than the anticipation that I was soon, in a few months,
or, possibly, weeks, to be carried up, and laid in its lonely
hollow! Ellen, I've been very happy with my little Cathy: through
winter nights and summer days she was a living hope at my side.
But I've been as happy musing by myself among those stones, under
that old church: lying, through the long June evenings, on the
green mound of her mother's grave, and wishing - yearning for the
time when I might lie beneath it. What can I do for Cathy? How
must I quit her? I'd not care one moment for Linton being
Heathcliff's son; nor for his taking her from me, if he could
console her for my loss. I'd not care that Heathcliff gained his
ends, and triumphed in robbing me of my last blessing! But should
Linton be unworthy - only a feeble tool to his father - I cannot
abandon her to him! And, hard though it be to crush her buoyant
spirit, I must persevere in making her sad while I live, and
leaving her solitary when I die. Darling! I'd rather resign her
to God, and lay her in the earth before me.'
'Resign her to God as it is, sir,' I answered, 'and if we should
lose you - which may He forbid - under His providence, I'll stand
her friend and counsellor to the last. Miss Catherine is a good
girl: I don't fear that she will go wilfully wrong; and people who
do their duty are always finally rewarded.'
Spring advanced; yet my master gathered no real strength, though he
resumed his walks in the grounds with his daughter. To her
inexperienced notions, this itself was a sign of convalescence; and
then his cheek was often flushed, and his eyes were bright; she
felt sure of his recovering. On her seventeenth birthday, he did
not visit the churchyard: it was raining, and I observed - 'You'll
surely not go out to-night, sir?'
He answered, - 'No, I'll defer it this year a little longer.' He
wrote again to Linton, expressing his great desire to see him; and,
had the invalid been presentable, I've no doubt his father would
have permitted him to come. As it was, being instructed, he
returned an answer, intimating that Mr. Heathcliff objected to his
calling at the Grange; but his uncle's kind remembrance delighted
him, and he hoped to meet him sometimes in his rambles, and
personally to petition that his cousin and he might not remain long
so utterly divided.
That part of his letter was simple, and probably his own.
Heathcliff knew he could plead eloquently for Catherine's company,
'I do not ask,' he said, 'that she may visit here; but am I never
to see her, because my father forbids me to go to her home, and you
forbid her to come to mine? Do, now and then, ride with her
towards the Heights; and let us exchange a few words, in your
presence! We have done nothing to deserve this separation; and you
are not angry with me: you have no reason to dislike me, you
allow, yourself. Dear uncle! send me a kind note to-morrow, and
leave to join you anywhere you please, except at Thrushcross
Grange. I believe an interview would convince you that my father's
character is not mine: he affirms I am more your nephew than his
son; and though I have faults which render me unworthy of
Catherine, she has excused them, and for her sake, you should also.
You inquire after my health - it is better; but while I remain cut
off from all hope, and doomed to solitude, or the society of those
who never did and never will like me, how can I be cheerful and
Edgar, though he felt for the boy, could not consent to grant his
request; because he could not accompany Catherine. He said, in
summer, perhaps, they might meet: meantime, he wished him to
continue writing at intervals, and engaged to give him what advice
and comfort he was able by letter; being well aware of his hard
position in his family. Linton complied; and had he been
unrestrained, would probably have spoiled all by filling his
epistles with complaints and lamentations. but his father kept a
sharp watch over him; and, of course, insisted on every line that
my master sent being shown; so, instead of penning his peculiar
personal sufferings and distresses, the themes constantly uppermost
in his thoughts, he harped on the cruel obligation of being held
asunder from his friend and love; and gently intimated that Mr.
Linton must allow an interview soon, or he should fear he was
purposely deceiving him with empty promises.
Cathy was a powerful ally at home; and between them they at length
persuaded my master to acquiesce in their having a ride or a walk
together about once a week, under my guardianship, and on the moors
nearest the Grange: for June found him still declining. Though he
had set aside yearly a portion of his income for my young lady's
fortune, he had a natural desire that she might retain - or at
least return in a short time to - the house of her ancestors; and
he considered her only prospect of doing that was by a union with
his heir; he had no idea that the latter was failing almost as fast
as himself; nor had any one, I believe: no doctor visited the
Heights, and no one saw Master Heathcliff to make report of his
condition among us. I, for my part, began to fancy my forebodings
were false, and that he must be actually rallying, when he
mentioned riding and walking on the moors, and seemed so earnest in
pursuing his object. I could not picture a father treating a dying
child as tyrannically and wickedly as I afterwards learned
Heathcliff had treated him, to compel this apparent eagerness: his
efforts redoubling the more imminently his avaricious and unfeeling
plans were threatened with defeat by death.
SUMMER was already past its prime, when Edgar reluctantly yielded
his assent to their entreaties, and Catherine and I set out on our
first ride to join her cousin. It was a close, sultry day: devoid
of sunshine, but with a sky too dappled and hazy to threaten rain:
and our place of meeting had been fixed at the guide-stone, by the
cross-roads. On arriving there, however, a little herd-boy,
despatched as a messenger, told us that, - 'Maister Linton wer just
o' this side th' Heights: and he'd be mitch obleeged to us to gang
on a bit further.'
'Then Master Linton has forgot the first injunction of his uncle,'
I observed: 'he bid us keep on the Grange land, and here we are
off at once.'
'Well, we'll turn our horses' heads round when we reach him,'
answered my companion; 'our excursion shall lie towards home.'
But when we reached him, and that was scarcely a quarter of a mile
from his own door, we found he had no horse; and we were forced to
dismount, and leave ours to graze. He lay on the heath, awaiting
our approach, and did not rise till we came within a few yards.
Then he walked so feebly, and looked so pale, that I immediately
exclaimed, - 'Why, Master Heathcliff, you are not fit for enjoying
a ramble this morning. How ill you do look!'
Catherine surveyed him with grief and astonishment: she changed
the ejaculation of joy on her lips to one of alarm; and the
congratulation on their long-postponed meeting to an anxious
inquiry, whether he were worse than usual?
'No - better - better!' he panted, trembling, and retaining her
hand as if he needed its support, while his large blue eyes
wandered timidly over her; the hollowness round them transforming
to haggard wildness the languid expression they once possessed.
'But you have been worse,' persisted his cousin; 'worse than when I
saw you last; you are thinner, and - '
'I'm tired,' he interrupted, hurriedly. 'It is too hot for
walking, let us rest here. And, in the morning, I often feel sick
- papa says I grow so fast.'
Badly satisfied, Cathy sat down, and he reclined beside her.
'This is something like your paradise,' said she, making an effort
at cheerfulness. 'You recollect the two days we agreed to spend in
the place and way each thought pleasantest? This is nearly yours,
only there are clouds; but then they are so soft and mellow: it is
nicer than sunshine. Next week, if you can, we'll ride down to the
Grange Park, and try mine.'
Linton did not appear to remember what she talked of and he had
evidently great difficulty in sustaining any kind of conversation.
His lack of interest in the subjects she started, and his equal
incapacity to contribute to her entertainment, were so obvious that
she could not conceal her disappointment. An indefinite alteration
had come over his whole person and manner. The pettishness that
might be caressed into fondness, had yielded to a listless apathy;
there was less of the peevish temper of a child which frets and
teases on purpose to be soothed, and more of the self-absorbed
moroseness of a confirmed invalid, repelling consolation, and ready
to regard the good-humoured mirth of others as an insult.
Catherine perceived, as well as I did, that he held it rather a
punishment, than a gratification, to endure our company; and she
made no scruple of proposing, presently, to depart. That proposal,
unexpectedly, roused Linton from his lethargy, and threw him into a
strange state of agitation. He glanced fearfully towards the
Heights, begging she would remain another half-hour, at least.
'But I think,' said Cathy, 'you'd be more comfortable at home than
sitting here; and I cannot amuse you to-day, I see, by my tales,
and songs, and chatter: you have grown wiser than I, in these six
months; you have little taste for my diversions now: or else, if I
could amuse you, I'd willingly stay.'
'Stay to rest yourself,' he replied. 'And, Catherine, don't think
or say that I'm VERY unwell: it is the heavy weather and heat that
make me dull; and I walked about, before you came, a great deal for
me. Tell uncle I'm in tolerable health, will you?'
'I'll tell him that YOU say so, Linton. I couldn't affirm that you
are,' observed my young lady, wondering at his pertinacious
assertion of what was evidently an untruth.
'And be here again next Thursday,' continued he, shunning her
puzzled gaze. 'And give him my thanks for permitting you to come -
my best thanks, Catherine. And - and, if you DID meet my father,
and he asked you about me, don't lead him to suppose that I've been
extremely silent and stupid: don't look sad and downcast, as you
are doing - he'll be angry.'
'I care nothing for his anger,' exclaimed Cathy, imagining she
would be its object.
'But I do,' said her cousin, shuddering. 'DON'T provoke him
against me, Catherine, for he is very hard.'
'Is he severe to you, Master Heathcliff?' I inquired. 'Has he
grown weary of indulgence, and passed from passive to active
Linton looked at me, but did not answer; and, after keeping her
seat by his side another ten minutes, during which his head fell
drowsily on his breast, and he uttered nothing except suppressed
moans of exhaustion or pain, Cathy began to seek solace in looking
for bilberries, and sharing the produce of her researches with me:
she did not offer them to him, for she saw further notice would
only weary and annoy.
'Is it half-an-hour now, Ellen?' she whispered in my ear, at last.
'I can't tell why we should stay. He's asleep, and papa will be
wanting us back.'
'Well, we must not leave him asleep,' I answered; 'wait till lie
wakes, and be patient. You were mighty eager to set off, but your
longing to see poor Linton has soon evaporated!'
'Why did HE wish to see me?' returned Catherine. 'In his crossest
humours, formerly, I liked him better than I do in his present
curious mood. It's just as if it were a task he was compelled to
perform - this interview - for fear his father should scold him.
But I'm hardly going to come to give Mr. Heathcliff pleasure;
whatever reason he may have for ordering Linton to undergo this
penance. And, though I'm glad he's better in health, I'm sorry
he's so much less pleasant, and so much less affectionate to me.'
'You think HE IS better in health, then?' I said.
'Yes,' she answered; 'because he always made such a great deal of
his sufferings, you know. He is not tolerably well, as he told me
to tell papa; but he's better, very likely.'
'There you differ with me, Miss Cathy,' I remarked; 'I should
conjecture him to be far worse.'
Linton here started from his slumber in bewildered terror, and
asked if any one had called his name.
'No,' said Catherine; 'unless in dreams. I cannot conceive how you
manage to doze out of doors, in the morning.'
'I thought I heard my father,' he gasped, glancing up to the
frowning nab above us. 'You are sure nobody spoke?'
'Quite sure,' replied his cousin. 'Only Ellen and I were disputing
concerning your health. Are you truly stronger, Linton, than when
we separated in winter? If you be, I'm certain one thing is not
stronger - your regard for me: speak, - are you?'
The tears gushed from Linton's eyes as he answered, 'Yes, yes, I
am!' And, still under the spell of the imaginary voice, his gaze
wandered up and down to detect its owner.
Cathy rose. 'For to-day we must part,' she said. 'And I won't
conceal that I have been sadly disappointed with our meeting;
though I'll mention it to nobody but you: not that I stand in awe
of Mr. Heathcliff.'
'Hush,' murmured Linton; 'for God's sake, hush! He's coming.' And
he clung to Catherine's arm, striving to detain her; but at that
announcement she hastily disengaged herself, and whistled to Minny,
who obeyed her like a dog.
'I'll be here next Thursday,' she cried, springing to the saddle.
'Good-bye. Quick, Ellen!'
And so we left him, scarcely conscious of our departure, so
absorbed was he in anticipating his father's approach.
Before we reached home, Catherine's displeasure softened into a
perplexed sensation of pity and regret, largely blended with vague,
uneasy doubts about Linton's actual circumstances, physical and
social: in which I partook, though I counselled her not to say
much; for a second journey would make us better judges. My master
requested an account of our ongoings. His nephew's offering of
thanks was duly delivered, Miss Cathy gently touching on the rest:
I also threw little light on his inquiries, for I hardly knew what
to hide and what to reveal.
SEVEN days glided away, every one marking its course by the
henceforth rapid alteration of Edgar Linton's state. The havoc
that months had previously wrought was now emulated by the inroads
of hours. Catherine we would fain have deluded yet; but her own
quick spirit refused to delude her: it divined in secret, and
brooded on the dreadful probability, gradually ripening into
certainty. She had not the heart to mention her ride, when
Thursday came round; I mentioned it for her, and obtained
permission to order her out of doors: for the library, where her
father stopped a short time daily - the brief period he could bear
to sit up - and his chamber, had become her whole world. She
grudged each moment that did not find her bending over his pillow,
or seated by his side. Her countenance grew wan with watching and
sorrow, and my master gladly dismissed her to what he flattered
himself would be a happy change of scene and society; drawing
comfort from the hope that she would not now be left entirely alone
after his death.
He had a fixed idea, I guessed by several observations he let fall,
that, as his nephew resembled him in person, he would resemble him
in mind; for Linton's letters bore few or no indications of his
defective character. And I, through pardonable weakness, refrained
from correcting the error; asking myself what good there would be
in disturbing his last moments with information that he had neither
power nor opportunity to turn to account.
We deferred our excursion till the afternoon; a golden afternoon of
August: every breath from the hills so full of life, that it
seemed whoever respired it, though dying, might revive.
Catherine's face was just like the landscape - shadows and sunshine
flitting over it in rapid succession; but the shadows rested
longer, and the sunshine was more transient; and her poor little
heart reproached itself for even that passing forgetfulness of its
We discerned Linton watching at the same spot he had selected
before. My young mistress alighted, and told me that, as she was
resolved to stay a very little while, I had better hold the pony
and remain on horseback; but I dissented: I wouldn't risk losing
sight of the charge committed to me a minute; so we climbed the
slope of heath together. Master Heathcliff received us with
greater animation on this occasion: not the animation of high
spirits though, nor yet of joy; it looked more like fear.
'It is late!' he said, speaking short and with difficulty. 'Is not
your father very ill? I thought you wouldn't come.'
'WHY won't you be candid?' cried Catherine, swallowing her
greeting. 'Why cannot you say at once you don't want me? It is
strange, Linton, that for the second time you have brought me here
on purpose, apparently to distress us both, and for no reason
Linton shivered, and glanced at her, half supplicating, half
ashamed; but his cousin's patience was not sufficient to endure
this enigmatical behaviour.
'My father IS very ill,' she said; 'and why am I called from his
bedside? Why didn't you send to absolve me from my promise, when
you wished I wouldn't keep it? Come! I desire an explanation:
playing and trifling are completely banished out of my mind; and I
can't dance attendance on your affectations now!'
'My affectations!' he murmured; 'what are they? For heaven's sake,
Catherine, don't look so angry! Despise me as much as you please;
I am a worthless, cowardly wretch: I can't be scorned enough; but
I'm too mean for your anger. Hate my father, and spare me for
'Nonsense!' cried Catherine in a passion. 'Foolish, silly boy!
And there! he trembles: as if I were really going to touch him!
You needn't bespeak contempt, Linton: anybody will have it
spontaneously at your service. Get off! I shall return home: it
is folly dragging you from the hearth-stone, and pretending - what
do we pretend? Let go my frock! If I pitied you for crying and
looking so very frightened, you should spurn such pity. Ellen,
tell him how disgraceful this conduct is. Rise, and don't degrade
yourself into an abject reptile - DON'T!'
With streaming face and an expression of agony, Linton had thrown
his nerveless frame along the ground: he seemed convulsed with
exquisite terror.
'Oh!' he sobbed, 'I cannot bear it! Catherine, Catherine, I'm a
traitor, too, and I dare not tell you! But leave me, and I shall
be killed! DEAR Catherine, my life is in your hands: and you have
said you loved me, and if you did, it wouldn't harm you. You'll
not go, then? kind, sweet, good Catherine! And perhaps you WILL
consent - and he'll let me die with you!'
My young lady, on witnessing his intense anguish, stooped to raise
him. The old feeling of indulgent tenderness overcame her
vexation, and she grew thoroughly moved and alarmed.
'Consent to what?' she asked. 'To stay! tell me the meaning of
this strange talk, and I will. You contradict your own words, and
distract me! Be calm and frank, and confess at once all that
weighs on your heart. You wouldn't injure me, Linton, would you?
You wouldn't let any enemy hurt me, if you could prevent it? I'll
believe you are a coward, for yourself, but not a cowardly betrayer
of your best friend.'
'But my father threatened me,' gasped the boy, clasping his
attenuated fingers, 'and I dread him - I dread him! I DARE not
'Oh, well!' said Catherine, with scornful compassion, 'keep your
secret: I'M no coward. Save yourself: I'm not afraid!'
Her magnanimity provoked his tears: he wept wildly, kissing her
supporting hands, and yet could not summon courage to speak out. I
was cogitating what the mystery might be, and determined Catherine
should never suffer to benefit him or any one else, by my good
will; when, hearing a rustle among the ling, I looked up and saw
Mr. Heathcliff almost close upon us, descending the Heights. He
didn't cast a glance towards my companions, though they were
sufficiently near for Linton's sobs to be audible; but hailing me
in the almost hearty tone he assumed to none besides, and the
sincerity of which I couldn't avoid doubting, he said -
'It is something to see you so near to my house, Nelly. How are
you at the Grange? Let us hear. The rumour goes,' he added, in a
lower tone, 'that Edgar Linton is on his death-bed: perhaps they
exaggerate his illness?'
'No; my master is dying,' I replied: 'it is true enough. A sad
thing it will be for us all, but a blessing for him!'
'How long will he last, do you think?' he asked.
'I don't know,' I said.
'Because,' he continued, looking at the two young people, who were
fixed under his eye - Linton appeared as if he could not venture to
stir or raise his head, and Catherine could not move, on his
account - 'because that lad yonder seems determined to beat me; and
I'd thank his uncle to be quick, and go before him! Hallo! has the
whelp been playing that game long? I DID give him some lessons
about snivelling. Is he pretty lively with Miss Linton generally?'
'Lively? no - he has shown the greatest distress,' I answered. 'To
see him, I should say, that instead of rambling with his sweetheart
on the hills, he ought to be in bed, under the hands of a doctor.'
'He shall be, in a day or two,' muttered Heathcliff. 'But first -
get up, Linton! Get up!' he shouted. 'Don't grovel on the ground
there up, this moment!'
Linton had sunk prostrate again in another paroxysm of helpless
fear, caused by his father's glance towards him, I suppose: there
was nothing else to produce such humiliation. He made several
efforts to obey, but his little strength was annihilated for the
time, and he fell back again with a moan. Mr. Heathcliff advanced,
and lifted him to lean against a ridge of turf.
'Now,' said he, with curbed ferocity, 'I'm getting angry and if you
don't command that paltry spirit of yours - DAMN you! get up
'I will, father,' he panted. 'Only, let me alone, or I shall
faint. I've done as you wished, I'm sure. Catherine will tell you
that I - that I - have been cheerful. Ah! keep by me, Catherine;
give me your hand.'
'Take mine,' said his father; 'stand on your feet. There now -
she'll lend you her arm: that's right, look at her. You would
imagine I was the devil himself, Miss Linton, to excite such
horror. Be so kind as to walk home with him, will you? He
shudders if I touch him.'
'Linton dear!' whispered Catherine, 'I can't go to Wuthering
Heights: papa has forbidden me. He'll not harm you: why are you
so afraid?'
'I can never re-enter that house,' he answered. 'I'm NOT to reenter
it without you!'
'Stop!' cried his father. 'We'll respect Catherine's filial
scruples. Nelly, take him in, and I'll follow your advice
concerning the doctor, without delay.'
'You'll do well,' replied I. 'But I must remain with my mistress:
to mind your son is not my business.'
'You are very stiff,' said Heathcliff, 'I know that: but you'll
force me to pinch the baby and make it scream before it moves your
charity. Come, then, my hero. Are you willing to return, escorted
by me?'
He approached once more, and made as if he would seize the fragile
being; but, shrinking back, Linton clung to his cousin, and
implored her to accompany him, with a frantic importunity that
admitted no denial. However I disapproved, I couldn't hinder her:
indeed, how could she have refused him herself? What was filling
him with dread we had no means of discerning; but there he was,
powerless under its gripe, and any addition seemed capable of
shocking him into idiotcy. We reached the threshold; Catherine
walked in, and I stood waiting till she had conducted the invalid
to a chair, expecting her out immediately; when Mr. Heathcliff,
pushing me forward, exclaimed - 'My house is not stricken with the
plague, Nelly; and I have a mind to be hospitable to-day: sit
down, and allow me to shut the door.'
He shut and locked it also. I started.
'You shall have tea before you go home,' he added. 'I am by
myself. Hareton is gone with some cattle to the Lees, and Zillah
and Joseph are off on a journey of pleasure; and, though I'm used
to being alone, I'd rather have some interesting company, if I can
get it. Miss Linton, take your seat by HIM. I give you what I
have: the present is hardly worth accepting; but I have nothing
else to offer. It is Linton, I mean. How she does stare! It's
odd what a savage feeling I have to anything that seems afraid of
me! Had I been born where laws are less strict and tastes less
dainty, I should treat myself to a slow vivisection of those two,
as an evening's amusement.'
He drew in his breath, struck the table, and swore to himself, 'By
hell! I hate them.'
'I am not afraid of you!' exclaimed Catherine, who could not hear
the latter part of his speech. She stepped close up; her black
eyes flashing with passion and resolution. 'Give me that key: I
will have it!' she said. 'I wouldn't eat or drink here, if I were
Heathcliff had the key in his hand that remained on the table. He
looked up, seized with a sort of surprise at her boldness; or,
possibly, reminded, by her voice and glance, of the person from
whom she inherited it. She snatched at the instrument, and half
succeeded in getting it out of his loosened fingers: but her
action recalled him to the present; he recovered it speedily.
'Now, Catherine Linton,' he said, 'stand off, or I shall knock you
down; and, that will make Mrs. Dean mad.'
Regardless of this warning, she captured his closed hand and its
contents again. 'We will go!' she repeated, exerting her utmost
efforts to cause the iron muscles to relax; and finding that her
nails made no impression, she applied her teeth pretty sharply.
Heathcliff glanced at me a glance that kept me from interfering a
moment. Catherine was too intent on his fingers to notice his
face. He opened them suddenly, and resigned the object of dispute;
but, ere she had well secured it, he seized her with the liberated
hand, and, pulling her on his knee, administered with the other a
shower of terrific slaps on both sides of the head, each sufficient
to have fulfilled his threat, had she been able to fall.'
At this diabolical violence I rushed on him furiously. 'You
villain!' I began to cry, 'you villain!' A touch on the chest
silenced me: I am stout, and soon put out of breath; and, what
with that and the rage, I staggered dizzily back and felt ready to
suffocate, or to burst a blood-vessel. The scene was over in two
minutes; Catherine, released, put her two hands to her temples, and
looked just as if she were not sure whether her ears were off or
on. She trembled like a reed, poor thing, and leant against the
table perfectly bewildered.
'I know how to chastise children, you see,' said the scoundrel,
grimly, as he stooped to repossess himself of the key, which had
dropped to the floor. 'Go to Linton now, as I told you; and cry at
your ease! I shall be your father, to-morrow - all the father
you'll have in a few days - and you shall have plenty of that. You
can bear plenty; you're no weakling: you shall have a daily taste,
if I catch such a devil of a temper in your eyes again!'
Cathy ran to me instead of Linton, and knelt down and put her
burning cheek on my lap, weeping aloud. Her cousin had shrunk into
a corner of the settle, as quiet as a mouse, congratulating
himself, I dare say, that the correction had alighted on another
than him. Mr. Heathcliff, perceiving us all confounded, rose, and
expeditiously made the tea himself. The cups and saucers were laid
ready. He poured it out, and handed me a cup.
'Wash away your spleen,' he said. 'And help your own naughty pet
and mine. It is not poisoned, though I prepared it. I'm going out
to seek your horses.'
Our first thought, on his departure, was to force an exit
somewhere. We tried the kitchen door, but that was fastened
outside: we looked at the windows - they were too narrow for even
Cathy's little figure.
'Master Linton,' I cried, seeing we were regularly imprisoned, 'you
know what your diabolical father is after, and you shall tell us,
or I'll box your ears, as he has done your cousin's.'
'Yes, Linton, you must tell,' said Catherine. 'It was for your
sake I came; and it will be wickedly ungrateful if you refuse.'
'Give me some tea, I'm thirsty, and then I'll tell you,' he
answered. 'Mrs. Dean, go away. I don't like you standing over me.
Now, Catherine, you are letting your tears fall into my cup. I
won't drink that. Give me another.' Catherine pushed another to
him, and wiped her face. I felt disgusted at the little wretch's
composure, since he was no longer in terror for himself. The
anguish he had exhibited on the moor subsided as soon as ever he
entered Wuthering Heights; so I guessed he had been menaced with an
awful visitation of wrath if he failed in decoying us there; and,
that accomplished, he had no further immediate fears.
'Papa wants us to be married,' he continued, after sipping some of
the liquid. 'And he knows your papa wouldn't let us marry now; and
he's afraid of my dying if we wait; so we are to be married in the
morning, and you are to stay here all night; and, if you do as he
wishes, you shall return home next day, and take me with you.'
'Take you with her, pitiful changeling!' I exclaimed. 'YOU marry?
Why, the man is mad! or he thinks us fools, every one. And do you
imagine that beautiful young lady, that healthy, hearty girl, will
tie herself to a little perishing monkey like you? Are you
cherishing the notion that anybody, let alone Miss Catherine
Linton, would have you for a husband? You want whipping for
bringing us in here at all, with your dastardly puling tricks: and
- don't look so silly, now! I've a very good mind to shake you
severely, for your contemptible treachery, and your imbecile
I did give him a slight shaking; but it brought on the cough, and
he took to his ordinary resource of moaning and weeping, and
Catherine rebuked me.
'Stay all night? No,' she said, looking slowly round. 'Ellen,
I'll burn that door down but I'll get out.'
And she would have commenced the execution of her threat directly,
but Linton was up in alarm for his dear self again. He clasped her
in his two feeble arms sobbing:- 'Won't you have me, and save me?
not let me come to the Grange? Oh, darling Catherine! you mustn't
go and leave, after all. You MUST obey my father - you MUST!'
'I must obey my own,' she replied, 'and relieve him from this cruel
suspense. The whole night! What would he think? He'll be
distressed already. I'll either break or burn a way out of the
house. Be quiet! You're in no danger; but if you hinder me -
Linton, I love papa better than you!' The mortal terror he felt of
Mr. Heathcliff's anger restored to the boy his coward's eloquence.
Catherine was near distraught: still, she persisted that she must
go home, and tried entreaty in her turn, persuading him to subdue
his selfish agony. While they were thus occupied, our jailor reentered.
'Your beasts have trotted off,' he said, 'and - now Linton!
snivelling again? What has she been doing to you? Come, come -
have done, and get to bed. In a month or two, my lad, you'll be
able to pay her back her present tyrannies with a vigorous hand.
You're pining for pure love, are you not? nothing else in the
world: and she shall have you! There, to bed! Zillah won't be
here to-night; you must undress yourself. Hush! hold your noise!
Once in your own room, I'll not come near you: you needn't fear.
By chance, you've managed tolerably. I'll look to the rest.'
He spoke these words, holding the door open for his son to pass,
and the latter achieved his exit exactly as a spaniel might which
suspected the person who attended on it of designing a spiteful
squeeze. The lock was re-secured. Heathcliff approached the fire,
where my mistress and I stood silent. Catherine looked up, and
instinctively raised her hand to her cheek: his neighbourhood
revived a painful sensation. Anybody else would have been
incapable of regarding the childish act with sternness, but he
scowled on her and muttered - 'Oh! you are not afraid of me? Your
courage is well disguised: you seem damnably afraid!'
'I AM afraid now,' she replied, 'because, if I stay, papa will be
miserable: and how can I endure making him miserable - when he -
when he - Mr. Heathcliff, let ME go home! I promise to marry
Linton: papa would like me to: and I love him. Why should you
wish to force me to do what I'll willingly do of myself?'
'Let him dare to force you,' I cried. 'There's law in the land,
thank God! there is; though we be in an out-of-the-way place. I'd
inform if he were my own son: and it's felony without benefit of
'Silence!' said the ruffian. 'To the devil with your clamour! I
don't want YOU to speak. Miss Linton, I shall enjoy myself
remarkably in thinking your father will be miserable: I shall not
sleep for satisfaction. You could have hit on no surer way of
fixing your residence under my roof for the next twenty-four hours
than informing me that such an event would follow. As to your
promise to marry Linton, I'll take care you shall keep it; for you
shall not quit this place till it is fulfilled.'
'Send Ellen, then, to let papa know I'm safe!' exclaimed Catherine,
weeping bitterly. 'Or marry me now. Poor papa! Ellen, he'll
think we're lost. What shall we do?'
'Not he! He'll think you are tired of waiting on him, and run off
for a little amusement,' answered Heathcliff. 'You cannot deny
that you entered my house of your own accord, in contempt of his
injunctions to the contrary. And it is quite natural that you
should desire amusement at your age; and that you would weary of
nursing a sick man, and that man ONLY your father. Catherine, his
happiest days were over when your days began. He cursed you, I
dare say, for coming into the world (I did, at least); and it would
just do if he cursed you as HE went out of it. I'd join him. I
don't love you! How should I? Weep away. As far as I can see, it
will be your chief diversion hereafter; unless Linton make amends
for other losses: and your provident parent appears to fancy he
may. His letters of advice and consolation entertained me vastly.
In his last he recommended my jewel to be careful of his; and kind
to her when he got her. Careful and kind - that's paternal. But
Linton requires his whole stock of care and kindness for himself.
Linton can play the little tyrant well. He'll undertake to torture
any number of cats, if their teeth be drawn and their claws pared.
You'll be able to tell his uncle fine tales of his KINDNESS, when
you get home again, I assure you.'
'You're right there!' I said; 'explain your son's character. Show
his resemblance to yourself: and then, I hope, Miss Cathy will
think twice before she takes the cockatrice!'
'I don't much mind speaking of his amiable qualities now,' he
answered; 'because she must either accept him or remain a prisoner,
and you along with her, till your master dies. I can detain you
both, quite concealed, here. If you doubt, encourage her to
retract her word, and you'll have an opportunity of judging!'
'I'll not retract my word,' said Catherine. 'I'll marry him within
this hour, if I may go to Thrushcross Grange afterwards. Mr.
Heathcliff, you're a cruel man, but you're not a fiend; and you
won't, from MERE malice, destroy irrevocably all my happiness. If
papa thought I had left him on purpose, and if he died before I
returned, could I bear to live? I've given over crying: but I'm
going to kneel here, at your knee; and I'll not get up, and I'll
not take my eyes from your face till you look back at me! No,
don't turn away! DO LOOK! you'll see nothing to provoke you. I
don't hate you. I'm not angry that you struck me. Have you never
loved ANYBODY in all your life, uncle? NEVER? Ah! you must look
once. I'm so wretched, you can't help being sorry and pitying me.'
'Keep your eft's fingers off; and move, or I'll kick you!' cried
Heathcliff, brutally repulsing her. 'I'd rather be hugged by a
snake. How the devil can you dream of fawning on me? I DETEST
He shrugged his shoulders: shook himself, indeed, as if his flesh
crept with aversion; and thrust back his chair; while I got up, and
opened my mouth, to commence a downright torrent of abuse. But I
was rendered dumb in the middle of the first sentence, by a threat
that I should be shown into a room by myself the very next syllable
I uttered. It was growing dark - we heard a sound of voices at the
garden-gate. Our host hurried out instantly: HE had his wits
about him; WE had not. There was a talk of two or three minutes,
and he returned alone.
'I thought it had been your cousin Hareton,' I observed to
Catherine. 'I wish he would arrive! Who knows but he might take
our part?'
'It was three servants sent to seek you from the Grange,' said
Heathcliff, overhearing me. 'You should have opened a lattice and
called out: but I could swear that chit is glad you didn't. She's
glad to be obliged to stay, I'm certain.'
At learning the chance we had missed, we both gave vent to our
grief without control; and he allowed us to wail on till nine
o'clock. Then he bid us go upstairs, through the kitchen, to
Zillah's chamber; and I whispered my companion to obey: perhaps we
might contrive to get through the window there, or into a garret,
and out by its skylight. The window, however, was narrow, like
those below, and the garret trap was safe from our attempts; for we
were fastened in as before. We neither of us lay down: Catherine
took her station by the lattice, and watched anxiously for morning;
a deep sigh being the only answer I could obtain to my frequent
entreaties that she would try to rest. I seated myself in a chair,
and rocked to and fro, passing harsh judgment on my many
derelictions of duty; from which, it struck me then, all the
misfortunes of my employers sprang. It was not the case, in
reality, I am aware; but it was, in my imagination, that dismal
night; and I thought Heathcliff himself less guilty than I.
At seven o'clock he came, and inquired if Miss Linton had risen.
She ran to the door immediately, and answered, 'Yes.' 'Here,
then,' he said, opening it, and pulling her out. I rose to follow,
but he turned the lock again. I demanded my release.
'Be patient,' he replied; 'I'll send up your breakfast in a while.'
I thumped on the panels, and rattled the latch angrily and
Catherine asked why I was still shut up? He answered, I must try
to endure it another hour, and they went away. I endured it two or
three hours; at length, I heard a footstep: not Heathcliff's.
'I've brought you something to eat,' said a voice; 'oppen t' door!'
Complying eagerly, I beheld Hareton, laden with food enough to last
me all day.
'Tak' it,' he added, thrusting the tray into my hand.
'Stay one minute,' I began.
'Nay,' cried he, and retired, regardless of any prayers I could
pour forth to detain him.
And there I remained enclosed the whole day, and the whole of the
next night; and another, and another. Five nights and four days I
remained, altogether, seeing nobody but Hareton once every morning;
and he was a model of a jailor: surly, and dumb, and deaf to every
attempt at moving his sense of justice or compassion.
ON the fifth morning, or rather afternoon, a different step
approached - lighter and shorter; and, this time, the person
entered the room. It was Zillah; donned in her scarlet shawl, with
a black silk bonnet on her head, and a willow-basket swung to her
'Eh, dear! Mrs. Dean!' she exclaimed. 'Well! there is a talk
about you at Gimmerton. I never thought but you were sunk in the
Blackhorse marsh, and missy with you, till master told me you'd
been found, and he'd lodged you here! What! and you must have got
on an island, sure? And how long were you in the hole? Did master
save you, Mrs. Dean? But you're not so thin - you've not been so
poorly, have you?'
'Your master is a true scoundrel!' I replied. 'But he shall answer
for it. He needn't have raised that tale: it shall all be laid
'What do you mean?' asked Zillah. 'It's not his tale: they tell
that in the village - about your being lost in the marsh; and I
calls to Earnshaw, when I come in - "Eh, they's queer things, Mr.
Hareton, happened since I went off. It's a sad pity of that likely
young lass, and cant Nelly Dean." He stared. I thought he had not
heard aught, so I told him the rumour. The master listened, and he
just smiled to himself, and said, "If they have been in the marsh,
they are out now, Zillah. Nelly Dean is lodged, at this minute, in
your room. You can tell her to flit, when you go up; here is the
key. The bog-water got into her head, and she would have run home
quite flighty; but I fixed her till she came round to her senses.
You can bid her go to the Grange at once, if she be able, and carry
a message from me, that her young lady will follow in time to
attend the squire's funeral."'
'Mr. Edgar is not dead?' I gasped. 'Oh! Zillah, Zillah!'
'No, no; sit you down, my good mistress,' she replied; 'you're
right sickly yet. He's not dead; Doctor Kenneth thinks he may last
another day. I met him on the road and asked.'
Instead of sitting down, I snatched my outdoor things, and hastened
below, for the way was free. On entering the house, I looked about
for some one to give information of Catherine. The place was
filled with sunshine, and the door stood wide open; but nobody
seemed at hand. As I hesitated whether to go off at once, or
return and seek my mistress, a slight cough drew my attention to
the hearth. Linton lay on the settle, sole tenant, sucking a stick
of sugar-candy, and pursuing my movements with apathetic eyes.
'Where is Miss Catherine?' I demanded sternly, supposing I could
frighten him into giving intelligence, by catching him thus, alone.
He sucked on like an innocent.
'Is she gone?' I said.
'No,' he replied; 'she's upstairs: she's not to go; we won't let
'You won't let her, little idiot!' I exclaimed. 'Direct me to her
room immediately, or I'll make you sing out sharply.'
'Papa would make you sing out, if you attempted to get there,' he
answered. 'He says I'm not to be soft with Catherine: she's my
wife, and it's shameful that she should wish to leave me. He says
she hates me and wants me to die, that she may have my money; but
she shan't have it: and she shan't go home! She never shall! -
she may cry, and be sick as much as she pleases!'
He resumed his former occupation, closing his lids, as if he meant
to drop asleep.
'Master Heathcliff,' I resumed, 'have you forgotten all Catherine's
kindness to you last winter, when you affirmed you loved her, and
when she brought you books and sung you songs, and came many a time
through wind and snow to see you? She wept to miss one evening,
because you would be disappointed; and you felt then that she was a
hundred times too good to you: and now you believe the lies your
father tells, though you know he detests you both. And you join
him against her. That's fine gratitude, is it not?'
The corner of Linton's mouth fell, and he took the sugar-candy from
his lips.
'Did she come to Wuthering Heights because she hated you?' I
continued. 'Think for yourself! As to your money, she does not
even know that you will have any. And you say she's sick; and yet
you leave her alone, up there in a strange house! You who have
felt what it is to be so neglected! You could pity your own
sufferings; and she pitied them, too; but you won't pity hers! I
shed tears, Master Heathcliff, you see - an elderly woman, and a
servant merely - and you, after pretending such affection, and
having reason to worship her almost, store every tear you have for
yourself, and lie there quite at ease. Ah! you're a heartless,
selfish boy!'
'I can't stay with her,' he answered crossly. 'I'll not stay by
myself. She cries so I can't bear it. And she won't give over,
though I say I'll call my father. I did call him once, and he
threatened to strangle her if she was not quiet; but she began
again the instant he left the room, moaning and grieving all night
long, though I screamed for vexation that I couldn't sleep.'
'Is Mr. Heathcliff out?' I inquired, perceiving that the wretched
creature had no power to sympathize with his cousin's mental
'He's in the court,' he replied, 'talking to Doctor Kenneth; who
says uncle is dying, truly, at last. I'm glad, for I shall be
master of the Grange after him. Catherine always spoke of it as
her house. It isn't hers! It's mine: papa says everything she
has is mine. All her nice books are mine; she offered to give me
them, and her pretty birds, and her pony Minny, if I would get the
key of our room, and let her out; but I told her she had nothing to
give, they ware all, all mine. And then she cried, and took a
little picture from her neck, and said I should have that; two
pictures in a gold case, on one side her mother, and on the other
uncle, when they were young. That was yesterday - I said they were
mine, too; and tried to get them from her. The spiteful thing
wouldn't let me: she pushed me off, and hurt me. I shrieked out -
that frightens her - she heard papa coming, and she broke the
hinges and divided the case, and gave me her mother's portrait; the
other she attempted to hide: but papa asked what was the matter,
and I explained it. He took the one I had away, and ordered her to
resign hers to me; she refused, and he - he struck her down, and
wrenched it off the chain, and crushed it with his foot.'
'And were you pleased to see her struck?' I asked: having my
designs in encouraging his talk.
'I winked,' he answered: 'I wink to see my father strike a dog or
a horse, he does it so hard. Yet I was glad at first - she
deserved punishing for pushing me: but when papa was gone, she
made me come to the window and showed me her cheek cut on the
inside, against her teeth, and her mouth filling with blood; and
then she gathered up the bits of the picture, and went and sat down
with her face to the wall, and she has never spoken to me since:
and I sometimes think she can't speak for pain. I don't like to
think so; but she's a naughty thing for crying continually; and she
looks so pale and wild, I'm afraid of her.'
'And you can get the key if you choose?' I said.
'Yes, when I am up-stairs,' he answered; 'but I can't walk upstairs
'In what apartment is it?' I asked.
'Oh,' he cried, 'I shan't tell YOU where it is. It is our secret.
Nobody, neither Hareton nor Zillah, is to know. There! you've
tired me - go away, go away!' And he turned his face on to his
arm, and shut his eyes again.
I considered it best to depart without seeing Mr. Heathcliff, and
bring a rescue for my young lady from the Grange. On reaching it,
the astonishment of my fellow-servants to see me, and their joy
also, was intense; and when they heard that their little mistress
was safe, two or three were about to hurry up and shout the news at
Mr. Edgar's door: but I bespoke the announcement of it myself.
How changed I found him, even in those few days! He lay an image
of sadness and resignation awaiting his death. Very young he
looked: though his actual age was thirty-nine, one would have
called him ten years younger, at least. He thought of Catherine;
for he murmured her name. I touched his hand, and spoke.
'Catherine is coming, dear master!' I whispered; 'she is alive and
well; and will be here, I hope, to-night.'
I trembled at the first effects of this intelligence: he half rose
up, looked eagerly round the apartment, and then sank back in a
swoon. As soon as he recovered, I related our compulsory visit,
and detention at the Heights. I said Heathcliff forced me to go
in: which was not quite true. I uttered as little as possible
against Linton; nor did I describe all his father's brutal conduct
- my intentions being to add no bitterness, if I could help it, to
his already over-flowing cup.
He divined that one of his enemy's purposes was to secure the
personal property, as well as the estate, to his son: or rather
himself; yet why he did not wait till his decease was a puzzle to
my master, because ignorant how nearly he and his nephew would quit
the world together. However, he felt that his will had better be
altered: instead of leaving Catherine's fortune at her own
disposal, he determined to put it in the hands of trustees for her
use during life, and for her children, if she had any, after her.
By that means, it could not fall to Mr. Heathcliff should Linton
Having received his orders, I despatched a man to fetch the
attorney, and four more, provided with serviceable weapons, to
demand my young lady of her jailor. Both parties were delayed very
late. The single servant returned first. He said Mr. Green, the
lawyer, was out when he arrived at his house, and he had to wait
two hours for his re-entrance; and then Mr. Green told him he had a
little business in the village that must be done; but he would be
at Thrushcross Grange before morning. The four men came back
unaccompanied also. They brought word that Catherine was ill: too
ill to quit her room; and Heathcliff would not suffer them to see
her. I scolded the stupid fellows well for listening to that tale,
which I would not carry to my master; resolving to take a whole
bevy up to the Heights, at day-light, and storm it literally,
unless the prisoner were quietly surrendered to us. Her father
SHALL see her, I vowed, and vowed again, if that devil be killed on
his own doorstones in trying to prevent it!
Happily, I was spared the journey and the trouble. I had gone
down-stairs at three o'clock to fetch a jug of water; and was
passing through the hall with it in my hand, when a sharp knock at
the front door made me jump. 'Oh! it is Green,' I said,
recollecting myself - 'only Green,' and I went on, intending to
send somebody else to open it; but the knock was repeated: not
loud, and still importunately. I put the jug on the banister and
hastened to admit him myself. The harvest moon shone clear
outside. It was not the attorney. My own sweet little mistress
sprang on my neck sobbing, 'Ellen, Ellen! Is papa alive?'
'Yes,' I cried: 'yes, my angel, he is, God be thanked, you are
safe with us again!'
She wanted to run, breathless as she was, up-stairs to Mr. Linton's
room; but I compelled her to sit down on a chair, and made her
drink, and washed her pale face, chafing it into a faint colour
with my apron. Then I said I must go first, and tell of her
arrival; imploring her to say, she should be happy with young
Heathcliff. She stared, but soon comprehending why I counselled
her to utter the falsehood, she assured me she would not complain.
I couldn't abide to be present at their meeting. I stood outside
the chamber-door a quarter of an hour, and hardly ventured near the
bed, then. All was composed, however: Catherine's despair was as
silent as her father's joy. She supported him calmly, in
appearance; and he fixed on her features his raised eyes that
seemed dilating with ecstasy.
He died blissfully, Mr. Lockwood: he died so. Kissing her cheek,
he murmured, - 'I am going to her; and you, darling child, shall
come to us!' and never stirred or spoke again; but continued that
rapt, radiant gaze, till his pulse imperceptibly stopped and his
soul departed. None could have noticed the exact minute of his
death, it was so entirely without a struggle.
Whether Catherine had spent her tears, or whether the grief were
too weighty to let them flow, she sat there dry-eyed till the sun
rose: she sat till noon, and would still have remained brooding
over that deathbed, but I insisted on her coming away and taking
some repose. It was well I succeeded in removing her, for at
dinner-time appeared the lawyer, having called at Wuthering Heights
to get his instructions how to behave. He had sold himself to Mr.
Heathcliff: that was the cause of his delay in obeying my master's
summons. Fortunately, no thought of worldly affairs crossed the
latter's mind, to disturb him, after his daughter's arrival.
Mr. Green took upon himself to order everything and everybody about
the place. He gave all the servants but me, notice to quit. He
would have carried his delegated authority to the point of
insisting that Edgar Linton should not be buried beside his wife,
but in the chapel, with his family. There was the will, however,
to hinder that, and my loud protestations against any infringement
of its directions. The funeral was hurried over; Catherine, Mrs.
Linton Heathcliff now, was suffered to stay at the Grange till her
father's corpse had quitted it.
She told me that her anguish had at last spurred Linton to incur
the risk of liberating her. She heard the men I sent disputing at
the door, and she gathered the sense of Heathcliff's answer. It
drove her desperate. Linton who had been conveyed up to the little
parlour soon after I left, was terrified into fetching the key
before his father re-ascended. He had the cunning to unlock and
re-lock the door, without shutting it; and when he should have gone
to bed, he begged to sleep with Hareton, and his petition was
granted for once. Catherine stole out before break of day. She
dared not try the doors lest the dogs should raise an alarm; she
visited the empty chambers and examined their windows; and,
luckily, lighting on her mother's, she got easily out of its
lattice, and on to the ground, by means of the fir-tree close by.
Her accomplice suffered for his share in the escape,
notwithstanding his timid contrivances.
THE evening after the funeral, my young lady and I were seated in
the library; now musing mournfully - one of us despairingly - on
our loss, now venturing conjectures as to the gloomy future.
We had just agreed the best destiny which could await Catherine
would be a permission to continue resident at the Grange; at least
during Linton's life: he being allowed to join her there, and I to
remain as housekeeper. That seemed rather too favourable an
arrangement to be hoped for; and yet I did hope, and began to cheer
up under the prospect of retaining my home and my employment, and,
above all, my beloved young mistress; when a servant - one of the
discarded ones, not yet departed - rushed hastily in, and said
'that devil Heathcliff' was coming through the court: should he
fasten the door in his face?
If we had been mad enough to order that proceeding, we had not
time. He made no ceremony of knocking or announcing his name: he
was master, and availed himself of the master's privilege to walk
straight in, without saying a word. The sound of our informant's
voice directed him to the library; he entered and motioning him
out, shut the door.
It was the same room into which he had been ushered, as a guest,
eighteen years before: the same moon shone through the window; and
the same autumn landscape lay outside. We had not yet lighted a
candle, but all the apartment was visible, even to the portraits on
the wall: the splendid head of Mrs. Linton, and the graceful one
of her husband. Heathcliff advanced to the hearth. Time had
little altered his person either. There was the same man: his
dark face rather sallower and more composed, his frame a stone or
two heavier, perhaps, and no other difference. Catherine had risen
with an impulse to dash out, when she saw him.
'Stop!' he said, arresting her by the arm. 'No more runnings away!
Where would you go? I'm come to fetch you home; and I hope you'll
be a dutiful daughter and not encourage my son to further
disobedience. I was embarrassed how to punish him when I
discovered his part in the business: he's such a cobweb, a pinch
would annihilate him; but you'll see by his look that he has
received his due! I brought him down one evening, the day before
yesterday, and just set him in a chair, and never touched him
afterwards. I sent Hareton out, and we had the room to ourselves.
In two hours, I called Joseph to carry him up again; and since then
my presence is as potent on his nerves as a ghost; and I fancy he
sees me often, though I am not near. Hareton says he wakes and
shrieks in the night by the hour together, and calls you to protect
him from me; and, whether you like your precious mate, or not, you
must come: he's your concern now; I yield all my interest in him
to you.'
'Why not let Catherine continue here,' I pleaded, 'and send Master
Linton to her? As you hate them both, you'd not miss them: they
can only be a daily plague to your unnatural heart.'
'I'm seeking a tenant for the Grange,' he answered; 'and I want my
children about me, to be sure. Besides, that lass owes me her
services for her bread. I'm not going to nurture her in luxury and
idleness after Linton is gone. Make haste and get ready, now; and
don't oblige me to compel you.'
'I shall,' said Catherine. 'Linton is all I have to love in the
world, and though you have done what you could to make him hateful
to me, and me to him, you cannot make us hate each other. And I
defy you to hurt him when I am by, and I defy you to frighten me!'
'You are a boastful champion,' replied Heathcliff; 'but I don't
like you well enough to hurt him: you shall get the full benefit
of the torment, as long as it lasts. It is not I who will make him
hateful to you - it is his own sweet spirit. He's as bitter as
gall at your desertion and its consequences: don't expect thanks
for this noble devotion. I heard him draw a pleasant picture to
Zillah of what he would do if he were as strong as I: the
inclination is there, and his very weakness will sharpen his wits
to find a substitute for strength.'
'I know he has a bad nature,' said Catherine: 'he's your son. But
I'm glad I've a better, to forgive it; and I know he loves me, and
for that reason I love him. Mr. Heathcliff YOU have NOBODY to love
you; and, however miserable you make us, we shall still have the
revenge of thinking that your cruelty arises from your greater
misery. You ARE miserable, are you not? Lonely, like the devil,
and envious like him? NOBODY loves you - NOBODY will cry for you
when you die! I wouldn't be you!'
Catherine spoke with a kind of dreary triumph: she seemed to have
made up her mind to enter into the spirit of her future family, and
draw pleasure from the griefs of her enemies.
'You shall be sorry to be yourself presently,' said her father-inlaw,
'if you stand there another minute. Begone, witch, and get
your things!'
She scornfully withdrew. In her absence I began to beg for
Zillah's place at the Heights, offering to resign mine to her; but
he would suffer it on no account. He bid me be silent; and then,
for the first time, allowed himself a glance round the room and a
look at the pictures. Having studied Mrs. Linton's, he said - 'I
shall have that home. Not because I need it, but - ' He turned
abruptly to the fire, and continued, with what, for lack of a
better word, I must call a smile - 'I'll tell you what I did
yesterday! I got the sexton, who was digging Linton's grave, to
remove the earth off her coffin lid, and I opened it. I thought,
once, I would have stayed there: when I saw her face again - it is
hers yet! - he had hard work to stir me; but he said it would
change if the air blew on it, and so I struck one side of the
coffin loose, and covered it up: not Linton's side, damn him! I
wish he'd been soldered in lead. And I bribed the sexton to pull
it away when I'm laid there, and slide mine out too; I'll have it
made so: and then by the time Linton gets to us he'll not know
which is which!'
'You were very wicked, Mr. Heathcliff!' I exclaimed; 'were you not
ashamed to disturb the dead?'
'I disturbed nobody, Nelly,' he replied; 'and I gave some ease to
myself. I shall be a great deal more comfortable now; and you'll
have a better chance of keeping me underground, when I get there.
Disturbed her? No! she has disturbed me, night and day, through
eighteen years - incessantly - remorselessly - till yesternight;
and yesternight I was tranquil. I dreamt I was sleeping the last
sleep by that sleeper, with my heart stopped and my cheek frozen
against hers.'
'And if she had been dissolved into earth, or worse, what would you
have dreamt of then?' I said.
'Of dissolving with her, and being more happy still!' he answered.
'Do you suppose I dread any change of that sort? I expected such a
transformation on raising the lid - but I'm better pleased that it
should not commence till I share it. Besides, unless I had
received a distinct impression of her passionless features, that
strange feeling would hardly have been removed. It began oddly.
You know I was wild after she died; and eternally, from dawn to
dawn, praying her to return to me her spirit! I have a strong
faith in ghosts: I have a conviction that they can, and do, exist
among us! The day she was buried, there came a fall of snow. In
the evening I went to the churchyard. It blew bleak as winter -
all round was solitary. I didn't fear that her fool of a husband
would wander up the glen so late; and no one else had business to
bring them there. Being alone, and conscious two yards of loose
earth was the sole barrier between us, I said to myself - 'I'll
have her in my arms again! If she be cold, I'll think it is this
north wind that chills ME; and if she be motionless, it is sleep."
I got a spade from the tool-house, and began to delve with all my
might - it scraped the coffin; I fell to work with my hands; the
wood commenced cracking about the screws; I was on the point of
attaining my object, when it seemed that I heard a sigh from some
one above, close at the edge of the grave, and bending down. "If I
can only get this off," I muttered, "I wish they may shovel in the
earth over us both!" and I wrenched at it more desperately still.
There was another sigh, close at my ear. I appeared to feel the
warm breath of it displacing the sleet-laden wind. I knew no
living thing in flesh and blood was by; but, as certainly as you
perceive the approach to some substantial body in the dark, though
it cannot be discerned, so certainly I felt that Cathy was there:
not under me, but on the earth. A sudden sense of relief flowed
from my heart through every limb. I relinquished my labour of
agony, and turned consoled at once: unspeakably consoled. Her
presence was with me: it remained while I re-filled the grave, and
led me home. You may laugh, if you will; but I was sure I should
see her there. I was sure she was with me, and I could not help
talking to her. Having reached the Heights, I rushed eagerly to
the door. It was fastened; and, I remember, that accursed Earnshaw
and my wife opposed my entrance. I remember stopping to kick the
breath out of him, and then hurrying up-stairs, to my room and
hers. I looked round impatiently - I felt her by me - I could
ALMOST see her, and yet I COULD NOT! I ought to have sweat blood
then, from the anguish of my yearning - from the fervour of my
supplications to have but one glimpse! I had not one. She showed
herself, as she often was in life, a devil to me! And, since then,
sometimes more and sometimes less, I've been the sport of that
intolerable torture! Infernal! keeping my nerves at such a stretch
that, if they had not resembled catgut, they would long ago have
relaxed to the feebleness of Linton's. When I sat in the house
with Hareton, it seemed that on going out I should meet her; when I
walked on the moors I should meet her coming in. When I went from
home I hastened to return; she MUST be somewhere at the Heights, I
was certain! And when I slept in her chamber - I was beaten out of
that. I couldn't lie there; for the moment I closed my eyes, she
was either outside the window, or sliding back the panels, or
entering the room, or even resting her darling head on the same
pillow as she did when a child; and I must open my lids to see.
And so I opened and closed them a hundred times a night - to be
always disappointed! It racked me! I've often groaned aloud, till
that old rascal Joseph no doubt believed that my conscience was
playing the fiend inside of me. Now, since I've seen her, I'm
pacified - a little. It was a strange way of killing: not by
inches, but by fractions of hairbreadths, to beguile me with the
spectre of a hope through eighteen years!'
Mr. Heathcliff paused and wiped his forehead; his hair clung to it,
wet with perspiration; his eyes were fixed on the red embers of the
fire, the brows not contracted, but raised next the temples;
diminishing the grim aspect of his countenance, but imparting a
peculiar look of trouble, and a painful appearance of mental
tension towards one absorbing subject. He only half addressed me,
and I maintained silence. I didn't like to hear him talk! After a
short period he resumed his meditation on the picture, took it down
and leant it against the sofa to contemplate it at better
advantage; and while so occupied Catherine entered, announcing that
she was ready, when her pony should be saddled.
'Send that over to-morrow,' said Heathcliff to me; then turning to
her, he added: 'You may do without your pony: it is a fine
evening, and you'll need no ponies at Wuthering Heights; for what
journeys you take, your own feet will serve you. Come along.'
'Good-bye, Ellen!' whispered my dear little mistress.
As she kissed me, her lips felt like ice. 'Come and see me, Ellen;
don't forget.'
'Take care you do no such thing, Mrs. Dean!' said her new father.
'When I wish to speak to you I'll come here. I want none of your
prying at my house!'
He signed her to precede him; and casting back a look that cut my
heart, she obeyed. I watched them, from the window, walk down the
garden. Heathcliff fixed Catherine's arm under his: though she
disputed the act at first evidently; and with rapid strides he
hurried her into the alley, whose trees concealed them.
I HAVE paid a visit to the Heights, but I have not seen her since
she left: Joseph held the door in his hand when I called to ask
after her, and wouldn't let me pass. He said Mrs. Linton was
'thrang,' and the master was not in. Zillah has told me something
of the way they go on, otherwise I should hardly know who was dead
and who living. She thinks Catherine haughty, and does not like
her, I can guess by her talk. My young lady asked some aid of her
when she first came; but Mr. Heathcliff told her to follow her own
business, and let his daughter-in-law look after herself; and
Zillah willingly acquiesced, being a narrow-minded, selfish woman.
Catherine evinced a child's annoyance at this neglect; repaid it
with contempt, and thus enlisted my informant among her enemies, as
securely as if she had done her some great wrong. I had a long
talk with Zillah about six weeks ago, a little before you came, one
day when we foregathered on the moor; and this is what she told me.
'The first thing Mrs. Linton did,' she said, 'on her arrival at the
Heights, was to run up-stairs, without even wishing good-evening to
me and Joseph; she shut herself into Linton's room, and remained
till morning. Then, while the master and Earnshaw were at
breakfast, she entered the house, and asked all in a quiver if the
doctor might be sent for? her cousin was very ill.
'"We know that!" answered Heathcliff; "but his life is not worth a
farthing, and I won't spend a farthing on him."
'"But I cannot tell how to do," she said; "and if nobody will help
me, he'll die!"
'"Walk out of the room," cried the master, "and let me never hear a
word more about him! None here care what becomes of him; if you
do, act the nurse; if you do not, lock him up and leave him."
'Then she began to bother me, and I said I'd had enough plague with
the tiresome thing; we each had our tasks, and hers was to wait on
Linton: Mr. Heathcliff bid me leave that labour to her.
'How they managed together, I can't tell. I fancy he fretted a
great deal, and moaned hisseln night and day; and she had precious
little rest: one could guess by her white face and heavy eyes.
She sometimes came into the kitchen all wildered like, and looked
as if she would fain beg assistance; but I was not going to disobey
the master: I never dare disobey him, Mrs. Dean; and, though I
thought it wrong that Kenneth should not be sent for, it was no
concern of mine either to advise or complain, and I always refused
to meddle. Once or twice, after we had gone to bed, I've happened
to open my door again and seen her sitting crying on the stairs'-
top; and then I've shut myself in quick, for fear of being moved to
interfere. I did pity her then, I'm sure: still I didn't wish to
lose my place, you know.
'At last, one night she came boldly into my chamber, and frightened
me out of my wits, by saying, "Tell Mr. Heathcliff that his son is
dying - I'm sure he is, this time. Get up, instantly, and tell
'Having uttered this speech, she vanished again. I lay a quarter
of an hour listening and trembling. Nothing stirred - the house
was quiet.
'She's mistaken, I said to myself. He's got over it. I needn't
disturb them; and I began to doze. But my sleep was marred a
second time by a sharp ringing of the bell - the only bell we have,
put up on purpose for Linton; and the master called to me to see
what was the matter, and inform them that he wouldn't have that
noise repeated.
'I delivered Catherine's message. He cursed to himself, and in a
few minutes came out with a lighted candle, and proceeded to their
room. I followed. Mrs. Heathcliff was seated by the bedside, with
her hands folded on her knees. Her father-in-law went up, held the
light to Linton's face, looked at him, and touched him; afterwards
he turned to her.
'"Now - Catherine," he said, "how do you feel?"
'She was dumb.
'"How do you feel, Catherine?" he repeated.
'"He's safe, and I'm free," she answered: "I should feel well -
but," she continued, with a bitterness she couldn't conceal, "you
have left me so long to struggle against death alone, that I feel
and see only death! I feel like death!"
'And she looked like it, too! I gave her a little wine. Hareton
and Joseph, who had been wakened by the ringing and the sound of
feet, and heard our talk from outside, now entered. Joseph was
fain, I believe, of the lad's removal; Hareton seemed a thought
bothered: though he was more taken up with staring at Catherine
than thinking of Linton. But the master bid him get off to bed
again: we didn't want his help. He afterwards made Joseph remove
the body to his chamber, and told me to return to mine, and Mrs.
Heathcliff remained by herself.
'In the morning, he sent me to tell her she must come down to
breakfast: she had undressed, and appeared going to sleep, and
said she was ill; at which I hardly wondered. I informed Mr.
Heathcliff, and he replied, - "Well, let her be till after the
funeral; and go up now and then to get her what is needful; and, as
soon as she seems better, tell me."'
Cathy stayed upstairs a fortnight, according to Zillah; who visited
her twice a day, and would have been rather more friendly, but her
attempts at increasing kindness were proudly and promptly repelled.
Heathcliff went up once, to show her Linton's will. He had
bequeathed the whole of his, and what had been her, moveable
property, to his father: the poor creature was threatened, or
coaxed, into that act during her week's absence, when his uncle
died. The lands, being a minor, he could not meddle with.
However, Mr. Heathcliff has claimed and kept them in his wife's
right and his also: I suppose legally; at any rate, Catherine,
destitute of cash and friends, cannot disturb his possession.
'Nobody,' said Zillah, 'ever approached her door, except that once,
but I; and nobody asked anything about her. The first occasion of
her coming down into the house was on a Sunday afternoon. She had
cried out, when I carried up her dinner, that she couldn't bear any
longer being in the cold; and I told her the master was going to
Thrushcross Grange, and Earnshaw and I needn't hinder her from
descending; so, as soon as she heard Heathcliff's horse trot off,
she made her appearance, donned in black, and her yellow curls
combed back behind her ears as plain as a Quaker: she couldn't
comb them out.
'Joseph and I generally go to chapel on Sundays:' the kirk, you
know, has no minister now, explained Mrs. Dean; and they call the
Methodists' or Baptists' place (I can't say which it is) at
Gimmerton, a chapel. 'Joseph had gone,' she continued, 'but I
thought proper to bide at home. Young folks are always the better
for an elder's over-looking; and Hareton, with all his bashfulness,
isn't a model of nice behaviour. I let him know that his cousin
would very likely sit with us, and she had been always used to see
the Sabbath respected; so he had as good leave his guns and bits of
indoor work alone, while she stayed. He coloured up at the news,
and cast his eyes over his hands and clothes. The train-oil and
gunpowder were shoved out of sight in a minute. I saw he meant to
give her his company; and I guessed, by his way, he wanted to be
presentable; so, laughing, as I durst not laugh when the master is
by, I offered to help him, if he would, and joked at his confusion.
He grew sullen, and began to swear.
'Now, Mrs. Dean,' Zillah went on, seeing me not pleased by her
manner, 'you happen think your young lady too fine for Mr. Hareton;
and happen you're right: but I own I should love well to bring her
pride a peg lower. And what will all her learning and her
daintiness do for her, now? She's as poor as you or I: poorer,
I'll be bound: you're saying, and I'm doing my little all that
Hareton allowed Zillah to give him her aid; and she flattered him
into a good humour; so, when Catherine came, half forgetting her
former insults, he tried to make himself agreeable, by the
housekeeper's account.
'Missis walked in,' she said, 'as chill as an icicle, and as high
as a princess. I got up and offered her my seat in the arm-chair.
No, she turned up her nose at my civility. Earnshaw rose, too, and
bid her come to the settle, and sit close by the fire: he was sure
she was starved.
'"I've been starved a month and more," she answered, resting on the
word as scornful as she could.
'And she got a chair for herself, and placed it at a distance from
both of us. Having sat till she was warm, she began to look round,
and discovered a number of books on the dresser; she was instantly
upon her feet again, stretching to reach them: but they were too
high up. Her cousin, after watching her endeavours a while, at
last summoned courage to help her; she held her frock, and he
filled it with the first that came to hand.
'That was a great advance for the lad. She didn't thank him;
still, he felt gratified that she had accepted his assistance, and
ventured to stand behind as she examined them, and even to stoop
and point out what struck his fancy in certain old pictures which
they contained; nor was he daunted by the saucy style in which she
jerked the page from his finger: he contented himself with going a
bit farther back and looking at her instead of the book. She
continued reading, or seeking for something to read. His attention
became, by degrees, quite centred in the study of her thick silky
curls: her face he couldn't see, and she couldn't see him. And,
perhaps, not quite awake to what he did, but attracted like a child
to a candle, at last he proceeded from staring to touching; he put
out his hand and stroked one curl, as gently as if it were a bird.
He might have stuck a knife into her neck, she started round in
such a taking.
'"Get away this moment! How dare you touch me? Why are you
stopping there?" she cried, in a tone of disgust. "I can't endure
you! I'll go upstairs again, if you come near me."
'Mr. Hareton recoiled, looking as foolish as he could do: he sat
down in the settle very quiet, and she continued turning over her
volumes another half hour; finally, Earnshaw crossed over, and
whispered to me.
'Will you ask her to read to us, Zillah? I'm stalled of doing
naught; and I do like - I could like to hear her! Dunnot say I
wanted it, but ask of yourseln."
'"Mr. Hareton wishes you would read to us, ma'am," I said,
immediately. "He'd take it very kind - he'd be much obliged."
'She frowned; and looking up, answered -
'"Mr. Hareton, and the whole set of you, will be good enough to
understand that I reject any pretence at kindness you have the
hypocrisy to offer! I despise you, and will have nothing to say to
any of you! When I would have given my life for one kind word,
even to see one of your faces, you all kept off. But I won't
complain to you! I'm driven down here by the cold; not either to
amuse you or enjoy your society."
'"What could I ha' done?" began Earnshaw. "How was I to blame?"
'"Oh! you are an exception," answered Mrs. Heathcliff. "I never
missed such a concern as you."
'"But I offered more than once, and asked," he said, kindling up at
her pertness, "I asked Mr. Heathcliff to let me wake for you - "
'"Be silent! I'll go out of doors, or anywhere, rather than have
your disagreeable voice in my ear!" said my lady.
'Hareton muttered she might go to hell, for him! and unslinging his
gun, restrained himself from his Sunday occupations no longer. He
talked now, freely enough; and she presently saw fit to retreat to
her solitude: but the frost had set in, and, in spite of her
pride, she was forced to condescend to our company, more and more.
However, I took care there should be no further scorning at my good
nature: ever since, I've been as stiff as herself; and she has no
lover or liker among us: and she does not deserve one; for, let
them say the least word to her, and she'll curl back without
respect of any one. She'll snap at the master himself, and as good
as dares him to thrash her; and the more hurt she gets, the more
venomous she grows.'
At first, on hearing this account from Zillah, I determined to
leave my situation, take a cottage, and get Catherine to come and
live with me: but Mr. Heathcliff would as soon permit that as he
would set up Hareton in an independent house; and I can see no
remedy, at present, unless she could marry again; and that scheme
it does not come within my province to arrange.
Thus ended Mrs. Dean's story. Notwithstanding the doctor's
prophecy, I am rapidly recovering strength; and though it be only
the second week in January, I propose getting out on horseback in a
day or two, and riding over to Wuthering Heights, to inform my
landlord that I shall spend the next six months in London; and, if
he likes, he may look out for another tenant to take the place
after October. I would not pass another winter here for much.
YESTERDAY was bright, calm, and frosty. I went to the Heights as I
proposed: my housekeeper entreated me to bear a little note from
her to her young lady, and I did not refuse, for the worthy woman
was not conscious of anything odd in her request. The front door
stood open, but the jealous gate was fastened, as at my last visit;
I knocked and invoked Earnshaw from among the garden-beds; he
unchained it, and I entered. The fellow is as handsome a rustic as
need be seen. I took particular notice of him this time; but then
he does his best apparently to make the least of his advantages.
I asked if Mr. Heathcliff were at home? He answered, No; but he
would be in at dinner-time. It was eleven o'clock, and I announced
my intention of going in and waiting for him; at which he
immediately flung down his tools and accompanied me, in the office
of watchdog, not as a substitute for the host.
We entered together; Catherine was there, making herself useful in
preparing some vegetables for the approaching meal; she looked more
sulky and less spirited than when I had seen her first. She hardly
raised her eyes to notice me, and continued her employment with the
same disregard to common forms of politeness as before; never
returning my bow and good-morning by the slightest acknowledgment.
'She does not seem so amiable,' I thought, 'as Mrs. Dean would
persuade me to believe. She's a beauty, it is true; but not an
Earnshaw surlily bid her remove her things to the kitchen. 'Remove
them yourself,' she said, pushing them from her as soon as she had
done; and retiring to a stool by the window, where she began to
carve figures of birds and beasts out of the turnip-parings in her
lap. I approached her, pretending to desire a view of the garden;
and, as I fancied, adroitly dropped Mrs. Dean's note on to her
knee, unnoticed by Hareton - but she asked aloud, 'What is that?'
And chucked it off.
'A letter from your old acquaintance, the housekeeper at the
Grange,' I answered; annoyed at her exposing my kind deed, and
fearful lest it should be imagined a missive of my own. She would
gladly have gathered it up at this information, but Hareton beat
her; he seized and put it in his waistcoat, saying Mr. Heathcliff
should look at it first. Thereat, Catherine silently turned her
face from us, and, very stealthily, drew out her pockethandkerchief
and applied it to her eyes; and her cousin, after
struggling awhile to keep down his softer feelings, pulled out the
letter and flung it on the floor beside her, as ungraciously as he
could. Catherine caught and perused it eagerly; then she put a few
questions to me concerning the inmates, rational and irrational, of
her former home; and gazing towards the hills, murmured in
'I should like to be riding Minny down there! I should like to be
climbing up there! Oh! I'm tired - I'm STALLED, Hareton!' And
she leant her pretty head back against the sill, with half a yawn
and half a sigh, and lapsed into an aspect of abstracted sadness:
neither caring nor knowing whether we remarked her.
'Mrs. Heathcliff,' I said, after sitting some time mute, 'you are
not aware that I am an acquaintance of yours? so intimate that I
think it strange you won't come and speak to me. My housekeeper
never wearies of talking about and praising you; and she'll be
greatly disappointed if I return with no news of or from you,
except that you received her letter and said nothing!'
She appeared to wonder at this speech, and asked, -
'Does Ellen like you?'
'Yes, very well,' I replied, hesitatingly.
'You must tell her,' she continued, 'that I would answer her
letter, but I have no materials for writing: not even a book from
which I might tear a leaf.'
'No books!' I exclaimed. 'How do you contrive to live here without
them? if I may take the liberty to inquire. Though provided with a
large library, I'm frequently very dull at the Grange; take my
books away, and I should be desperate!'
'I was always reading, when I had them,' said Catherine; 'and Mr.
Heathcliff never reads; so he took it into his head to destroy my
books. I have not had a glimpse of one for weeks. Only once, I
searched through Joseph's store of theology, to his great
irritation; and once, Hareton, I came upon a secret stock in your
room - some Latin and Greek, and some tales and poetry: all old
friends. I brought the last here - and you gathered them, as a
magpie gathers silver spoons, for the mere love of stealing! They
are of no use to you; or else you concealed them in the bad spirit
that, as you cannot enjoy them, nobody else shall. Perhaps YOUR
envy counselled Mr. Heathcliff to rob me of my treasures? But I've
most of them written on my brain and printed in my heart, and you
cannot deprive me of those!'
Earnshaw blushed crimson when his cousin made this revelation of
his private literary accumulations, and stammered an indignant
denial of her accusations.
'Mr. Hareton is desirous of increasing his amount of knowledge,' I
said, coming to his rescue. 'He is not ENVIOUS, but EMULOUS of
your attainments. He'll be a clever scholar in a few years.'
'And he wants me to sink into a dunce, meantime,' answered
Catherine. 'Yes, I hear him trying to spell and read to himself,
and pretty blunders he makes! I wish you would repeat Chevy Chase
as you did yesterday: it was extremely funny. I heard you; and I
heard you turning over the dictionary to seek out the hard words,
and then cursing because you couldn't read their explanations!'
The young man evidently thought it too bad that he should be
laughed at for his ignorance, and then laughed at for trying to
remove it. I had a similar notion; and, remembering Mrs. Dean's
anecdote of his first attempt at enlightening the darkness in which
he had been reared, I observed, - 'But, Mrs. Heathcliff, we have
each had a commencement, and each stumbled and tottered on the
threshold; had our teachers scorned instead of aiding us, we should
stumble and totter yet.'
'Oh!' she replied, 'I don't wish to limit his acquirements: still,
he has no right to appropriate what is mine, and make it ridiculous
to me with his vile mistakes and mispronunciations! Those books,
both prose and verse, are consecrated to me by other associations;
and I hate to have them debased and profaned in his mouth!
Besides, of all, he has selected my favourite pieces that I love
the most to repeat, as if out of deliberate malice.'
Hareton's chest heaved in silence a minute: he laboured under a
severe sense of mortification and wrath, which it was no easy task
to suppress. I rose, and, from a gentlemanly idea of relieving his
embarrassment, took up my station in the doorway, surveying the
external prospect as I stood. He followed my example, and left the
room; but presently reappeared, bearing half a dozen volumes in his
hands, which he threw into Catherine's lap, exclaiming, - 'Take
them! I never want to hear, or read, or think of them again!'
'I won't have them now,' she answered. 'I shall connect them with
you, and hate them.'
She opened one that had obviously been often turned over, and read
a portion in the drawling tone of a beginner; then laughed, and
threw it from her. 'And listen,' she continued, provokingly,
commencing a verse of an old ballad in the same fashion.
But his self-love would endure no further torment: I heard, and
not altogether disapprovingly, a manual cheek given to her saucy
tongue. The little wretch had done her utmost to hurt her cousin's
sensitive though uncultivated feelings, and a physical argument was
the only mode he had of balancing the account, and repaying its
effects on the inflictor. He afterwards gathered the books and
hurled them on the fire. I read in his countenance what anguish it
was to offer that sacrifice to spleen. I fancied that as they
consumed, he recalled the pleasure they had already imparted, and
the triumph and ever-increasing pleasure he had anticipated from
them; and I fancied I guessed the incitement to his secret studies
also. He had been content with daily labour and rough animal
enjoyments, till Catherine crossed his path. Shame at her scorn,
and hope of her approval, were his first prompters to higher
pursuits; and instead of guarding him from one and winning him to
the other, his endeavours to raise himself had produced just the
contrary result.
'Yes that's all the good that such a brute as you can get from
them!' cried Catherine, sucking her damaged lip, and watching the
conflagration with indignant eyes.
'You'd BETTER hold your tongue, now,' he answered fiercely.
And his agitation precluded further speech; he advanced hastily to
the entrance, where I made way for him to pass. But ere he had
crossed the door-stones, Mr. Heathcliff, coming up the causeway,
encountered him, and laying hold of his shoulder asked, - 'What's
to do now, my lad?'
'Naught, naught,' he said, and broke away to enjoy his grief and
anger in solitude.
Heathcliff gazed after him, and sighed.
'It will be odd if I thwart myself,' he muttered, unconscious that
I was behind him. 'But when I look for his father in his face, I
find HER every day more! How the devil is he so like? I can
hardly bear to see him.'
He bent his eyes to the ground, and walked moodily in. There was a
restless, anxious expression in his countenance. I had never
remarked there before; and he looked sparer in person. His
daughter-in-law, on perceiving him through the window, immediately
escaped to the kitchen, so that I remained alone.
'I'm glad to see you out of doors again, Mr. Lockwood,' he said, in
reply to my greeting; 'from selfish motives partly: I don't think
I could readily supply your loss in this desolation. I've wondered
more than once what brought you here.'
'An idle whim, I fear, sir,' was my answer; 'or else an idle whim
is going to spirit me away. I shall set out for London next week;
and I must give you warning that I feel no disposition to retain
Thrushcross Grange beyond the twelve months I agreed to rent it. I
believe I shall not live there any more.'
'Oh, indeed; you're tired of being banished from the world, are
you?' he said. 'But if you be coming to plead off paying for a
place you won't occupy, your journey is useless: I never relent in
exacting my due from any one.'
'I'm coming to plead off nothing about it,' I exclaimed,
considerably irritated. 'Should you wish it, I'll settle with you
now,' and I drew my note-book from my pocket.
'No, no,' he replied, coolly; 'you'll leave sufficient behind to
cover your debts, if you fail to return: I'm not in such a hurry.
Sit down and take your dinner with us; a guest that is safe from
repeating his visit can generally be made welcome. Catherine bring
the things in: where are you?'
Catherine reappeared, bearing a tray of knives and forks.
'You may get your dinner with Joseph,' muttered Heathcliff, aside,
'and remain in the kitchen till he is gone.'
She obeyed his directions very punctually: perhaps she had no
temptation to transgress. Living among clowns and misanthropists,
she probably cannot appreciate a better class of people when she
meets them.
With Mr. Heathcliff, grim and saturnine, on the one hand, and
Hareton, absolutely dumb, on the other, I made a somewhat cheerless
meal, and bade adieu early. I would have departed by the back way,
to get a last glimpse of Catherine and annoy old Joseph; but
Hareton received orders to lead up my horse, and my host himself
escorted me to the door, so I could not fulfil my wish.
'How dreary life gets over in that house!' I reflected, while
riding down the road. 'What a realisation of something more
romantic than a fairy tale it would have been for Mrs. Linton
Heathcliff, had she and I struck up an attachment, as her good
nurse desired, and migrated together into the stirring atmosphere
of the town!'
1802. - This September I was invited to devastate the moors of a
friend in the north, and on my journey to his abode, I unexpectedly
came within fifteen miles of Gimmerton. The ostler at a roadside
public-house was holding a pail of water to refresh my horses, when
a cart of very green oats, newly reaped, passed by, and he
remarked, - 'Yon's frough Gimmerton, nah! They're allas three
wick' after other folk wi' ther harvest.'
'Gimmerton?' I repeated - my residence in that locality had already
grown dim and dreamy. 'Ah! I know. How far is it from this?'
'Happen fourteen mile o'er th' hills; and a rough road,' he
A sudden impulse seized me to visit Thrushcross Grange. It was
scarcely noon, and I conceived that I might as well pass the night
under my own roof as in an inn. Besides, I could spare a day
easily to arrange matters with my landlord, and thus save myself
the trouble of invading the neighbourhood again. Having rested
awhile, I directed my servant to inquire the way to the village;
and, with great fatigue to our beasts, we managed the distance in
some three hours.
I left him there, and proceeded down the valley alone. The grey
church looked greyer, and the lonely churchyard lonelier. I
distinguished a moor-sheep cropping the short turf on the graves.
It was sweet, warm weather - too warm for travelling; but the heat
did not hinder me from enjoying the delightful scenery above and
below: had I seen it nearer August, I'm sure it would have tempted
me to waste a month among its solitudes. In winter nothing more
dreary, in summer nothing more divine, than those glens shut in by
hills, and those bluff, bold swells of heath.
I reached the Grange before sunset, and knocked for admittance; but
the family had retreated into the back premises, I judged, by one
thin, blue wreath, curling from the kitchen chimney, and they did
not hear. I rode into the court. Under the porch, a girl of nine
or ten sat knitting, and an old woman reclined on the housesteps,
smoking a meditative pipe.
'Is Mrs. Dean within?' I demanded of the dame.
'Mistress Dean? Nay!' she answered, 'she doesn't bide here:
shoo's up at th' Heights.'
'Are you the housekeeper, then?' I continued.
'Eea, aw keep th' hause,' she replied.
'Well, I'm Mr. Lockwood, the master. Are there any rooms to lodge
me in, I wonder? I wish to stay all night.'
'T' maister!' she cried in astonishment. 'Whet, whoiver knew yah
wur coming? Yah sud ha' send word. They's nowt norther dry nor
mensful abaht t' place: nowt there isn't!'
She threw down her pipe and bustled in, the girl followed, and I
entered too; soon perceiving that her report was true, and,
moreover, that I had almost upset her wits by my unwelcome
apparition, I bade her be composed. I would go out for a walk;
and, meantime she must try to prepare a corner of a sitting-room
for me to sup in, and a bedroom to sleep in. No sweeping and
dusting, only good fire and dry sheets were necessary. She seemed
willing to do her best; though she thrust the hearth-brush into the
grates in mistake for the poker, and malappropriated several other
articles of her craft: but I retired, confiding in her energy for
a resting-place against my return. Wuthering Heights was the goal
of my proposed excursion. An afterthought brought me back, when I
had quitted the court.
'All well at the Heights?' I inquired of the woman.
'Eea, f'r owt ee knaw!' she answered, skurrying away with a pan of
hot cinders.
I would have asked why Mrs. Dean had deserted the Grange, but it
was impossible to delay her at such a crisis, so I turned away and
made my exit, rambling leisurely along, with the glow of a sinking
sun behind, and the mild glory of a rising moon in front - one
fading, and the other brightening - as I quitted the park, and
climbed the stony by-road branching off to Mr. Heathcliff's
dwelling. Before I arrived in sight of it, all that remained of
day was a beamless amber light along the west: but I could see
every pebble on the path, and every blade of grass, by that
splendid moon. I had neither to climb the gate nor to knock - it
yielded to my hand. That is an improvement, I thought. And I
noticed another, by the aid of my nostrils; a fragrance of stocks
and wallflowers wafted on the air from amongst the homely fruittrees.
Both doors and lattices were open; and yet, as is usually the case
in a coal-district, a fine red fire illumined the chimney: the
comfort which the eye derives from it renders the extra heat
endurable. But the house of Wuthering Heights is so large that the
inmates have plenty of space for withdrawing out of its influence;
and accordingly what inmates there were had stationed themselves
not far from one of the windows. I could both see them and hear
them talk before I entered, and looked and listened in consequence;
being moved thereto by a mingled sense of curiosity and envy, that
grew as I lingered.
'Con-TRARY!' said a voice as sweet as a silver bell. 'That for the
third time, you dunce! I'm not going to tell you again.
Recollect, or I'll pull your hair!'
'Contrary, then,' answered another, in deep but softened tones.
'And now, kiss me, for minding so well.'
'No, read it over first correctly, without a single mistake.'
The male speaker began to read: he was a young man, respectably
dressed and seated at a table, having a book before him. His
handsome features glowed with pleasure, and his eyes kept
impatiently wandering from the page to a small white hand over his
shoulder, which recalled him by a smart slap on the cheek, whenever
its owner detected such signs of inattention. Its owner stood
behind; her light, shining ringlets blending, at intervals, with
his brown looks, as she bent to superintend his studies; and her
face - it was lucky he could not see her face, or he would never
have been so steady. I could; and I bit my lip in spite, at having
thrown away the chance I might have had of doing something besides
staring at its smiting beauty.
The task was done, not free from further blunders; but the pupil
claimed a reward, and received at least five kisses; which,
however, he generously returned. Then they came to the door, and
from their conversation I judged they were about to issue out and
have a walk on the moors. I supposed I should be condemned in
Hareton Earnshaw's heart, if not by his mouth, to the lowest pit in
the infernal regions if I showed my unfortunate person in his
neighbourhood then; and feeling very mean and malignant, I skulked
round to seek refuge in the kitchen. There was unobstructed
admittance on that side also; and at the door sat my old friend
Nelly Dean, sewing and singing a song; which was often interrupted
from within by harsh words of scorn and intolerance, uttered in far
from musical accents.
'I'd rayther, by th' haulf, hev' 'em swearing i' my lugs fro'h morn
to neeght, nor hearken ye hahsiver!' said the tenant of the
kitchen, in answer to an unheard speech of Nelly's. 'It's a
blazing shame, that I cannot oppen t' blessed Book, but yah set up
them glories to sattan, and all t' flaysome wickednesses that iver
were born into th' warld! Oh! ye're a raight nowt; and shoo's
another; and that poor lad 'll be lost atween ye. Poor lad!' he
added, with a groan; 'he's witched: I'm sartin on't. Oh, Lord,
judge 'em, for there's norther law nor justice among wer rullers!'
'No! or we should be sitting in flaming fagots, I suppose,'
retorted the singer. 'But wisht, old man, and read your Bible like
a Christian, and never mind me. This is "Fairy Annie's Wedding" -
a bonny tune - it goes to a dance.'
Mrs. Dean was about to recommence, when I advanced; and recognising
me directly, she jumped to her feet, crying - 'Why, bless you, Mr.
Lockwood! How could you think of returning in this way? All's
shut up at Thrushcross Grange. You should have given us notice!'
'I've arranged to be accommodated there, for as long as I shall
stay,' I answered. 'I depart again to-morrow. And how are you
transplanted here, Mrs. Dean? tell me that.'
'Zillah left, and Mr. Heathcliff wished me to come, soon after you
went to London, and stay till you returned. But, step in, pray!
Have you walked from Gimmerton this evening?'
'From the Grange,' I replied; 'and while they make me lodging room
there, I want to finish my business with your master; because I
don't think of having another opportunity in a hurry.'
'What business, sir?' said Nelly, conducting me into the house.
'He's gone out at present, and won't return soon.'
'About the rent,' I answered.
'Oh! then it is with Mrs. Heathcliff you must settle,' she
observed; 'or rather with me. She has not learnt to manage her
affairs yet, and I act for her: there's nobody else.'
I looked surprised.
'Ah! you have not heard of Heathcliff's death, I see,' she
'Heathcliff dead!' I exclaimed, astonished. 'How long ago?'
'Three months since: but sit down, and let me take your hat, and
I'll tell you all about it. Stop, you have had nothing to eat,
have you?'
'I want nothing: I have ordered supper at home. You sit down too.
I never dreamt of his dying! Let me hear how it came to pass. You
say you don't expect them back for some time - the young people?'
'No - I have to scold them every evening for their late rambles:
but they don't care for me. At least, have a drink of our old ale;
it will do you good: you seem weary.'
She hastened to fetch it before I could refuse, and I heard Joseph
asking whether 'it warn't a crying scandal that she should have
followers at her time of life? And then, to get them jocks out o'
t' maister's cellar! He fair shaamed to 'bide still and see it.'
She did not stay to retaliate, but re-entered in a minute, bearing
a reaming silver pint, whose contents I lauded with becoming
earnestness. And afterwards she furnished me with the sequel of
Heathcliff's history. He had a 'queer' end, as she expressed it.
I was summoned to Wuthering Heights, within a fortnight of your
leaving us, she said; and I obeyed joyfully, for Catherine's sake.
My first interview with her grieved and shocked me: she had
altered so much since our separation. Mr. Heathcliff did not
explain his reasons for taking a new mind about my coming here; he
only told me he wanted me, and he was tired of seeing Catherine: I
must make the little parlour my sitting-room, and keep her with me.
It was enough if he were obliged to see her once or twice a day.
She seemed pleased at this arrangement; and, by degrees, I smuggled
over a great number of books, and other articles, that had formed
her amusement at the Grange; and flattered myself we should get on
in tolerable comfort. The delusion did not last long. Catherine,
contented at first, in a brief space grew irritable and restless.
For one thing, she was forbidden to move out of the garden, and it
fretted her sadly to be confined to its narrow bounds as spring
drew on; for another, in following the house, I was forced to quit
her frequently, and she complained of loneliness: she preferred
quarrelling with Joseph in the kitchen to sitting at peace in her
solitude. I did not mind their skirmishes: but Hareton was often
obliged to seek the kitchen also, when the master wanted to have
the house to himself! and though in the beginning she either left
it at his approach, or quietly joined in my occupations, and
shunned remarking or addressing him - and though he was always as
sullen and silent as possible - after a while, she changed her
behaviour, and became incapable of letting him alone: talking at
him; commenting on his stupidity and idleness; expressing her
wonder how he could endure the life he lived - how he could sit a
whole evening staring into the fire, and dozing.
'He's just like a dog, is he not, Ellen?' she once observed, 'or a
cart-horse? He does his work, eats his food, and sleeps eternally!
What a blank, dreary mind he must have! Do you ever dream,
Hareton? And, if you do, what is it about? But you can't speak to
Then she looked at him; but he would neither open his mouth nor
look again.
'He's, perhaps, dreaming now,' she continued. 'He twitched his
shoulder as Juno twitches hers. Ask him, Ellen.'
'Mr. Hareton will ask the master to send you up-stairs, if you
don't behave!' I said. He had not only twitched his shoulder but
clenched his fist, as if tempted to use it.
'I know why Hareton never speaks, when I am in the kitchen,' she
exclaimed, on another occasion. 'He is afraid I shall laugh at
him. Ellen, what do you think? He began to teach himself to read
once; and, because I laughed, he burned his books, and dropped it:
was he not a fool?'
'Were not you naughty?' I said; 'answer me that.'
'Perhaps I was,' she went on; 'but I did not expect him to be so
silly. Hareton, if I gave you a book, would you take it now? I'll
She placed one she had been perusing on his hand; he flung it off,
and muttered, if she did not give over, he would break her neck.
'Well, I shall put it here,' she said, 'in the table-drawer; and
I'm going to bed.'
Then she whispered me to watch whether he touched it, and departed.
But he would not come near it; and so I informed her in the
morning, to her great disappointment. I saw she was sorry for his
persevering sulkiness and indolence: her conscience reproved her
for frightening him off improving himself: she had done it
effectually. But her ingenuity was at work to remedy the injury:
while I ironed, or pursued other such stationary employments as I
could not well do in the parlour, she would bring some pleasant
volume and read it aloud to me. When Hareton was there, she
generally paused in an interesting part, and left the book lying
about: that she did repeatedly; but he was as obstinate as a mule,
and, instead of snatching at her bait, in wet weather he took to
smoking with Joseph; and they sat like automatons, one on each side
of the fire, the elder happily too deaf to understand her wicked
nonsense, as he would have called it, the younger doing his best to
seem to disregard it. On fine evenings the latter followed his
shooting expeditions, and Catherine yawned and sighed, and teased
me to talk to her, and ran off into the court or garden the moment
I began; and, as a last resource, cried, and said she was tired of
living: her life was useless.
Mr. Heathcliff, who grew more and more disinclined to society, had
almost banished Earnshaw from his apartment. Owing to an accident
at the commencement of March, he became for some days a fixture in
the kitchen. His gun burst while out on the hills by himself; a
splinter cut his arm, and he lost a good deal of blood before he
could reach home. The consequence was that, perforce, he was
condemned to the fireside and tranquillity, till he made it up
again. It suited Catherine to have him there: at any rate, it
made her hate her room up-stairs more than ever: and she would
compel me to find out business below, that she might accompany me.
On Easter Monday, Joseph went to Gimmerton fair with some cattle;
and, in the afternoon, I was busy getting up linen in the kitchen.
Earnshaw sat, morose as usual, at the chimney corner, and my little
mistress was beguiling an idle hour with drawing pictures on the
window-panes, varying her amusement by smothered bursts of songs,
and whispered ejaculations, and quick glances of annoyance and
impatience in the direction of her cousin, who steadfastly smoked,
and looked into the grate. At a notice that I could do with her no
longer intercepting my light, she removed to the hearthstone. I
bestowed little attention on her proceedings, but, presently, I
heard her begin - 'I've found out, Hareton, that I want - that I'm
glad - that I should like you to be my cousin now, if you had not
grown so cross to me, and so rough.'
Hareton returned no answer.
'Hareton, Hareton, Hareton! do you hear?' she continued.
'Get off wi' ye!' he growled, with uncompromising gruffness.
'Let me take that pipe,' she said, cautiously advancing her hand
and abstracting it from his mouth.
Before he could attempt to recover it, it was broken, and behind
the fire. He swore at her and seized another.
'Stop,' she cried, 'you must listen to me first; and I can't speak
while those clouds are floating in my face.'
'Will you go to the devil!' he exclaimed, ferociously, 'and let me
'No,' she persisted, 'I won't: I can't tell what to do to make you
talk to me; and you are determined not to understand. When I call
you stupid, I don't mean anything: I don't mean that I despise
you. Come, you shall take notice of me, Hareton: you are my
cousin, and you shall own me.'
'I shall have naught to do wi' you and your mucky pride, and your
damned mocking tricks!' he answered. 'I'll go to hell, body and
soul, before I look sideways after you again. Side out o' t' gate,
now, this minute!'
Catherine frowned, and retreated to the window-seat chewing her
lip, and endeavouring, by humming an eccentric tune, to conceal a
growing tendency to sob.
'You should be friends with your cousin, Mr. Hareton,' I
interrupted, 'since she repents of her sauciness. It would do you
a great deal of good: it would make you another man to have her
for a companion.'
'A companion!' he cried; 'when she hates me, and does not think me
fit to wipe her shoon! Nay, if it made me a king, I'd not be
scorned for seeking her good-will any more.'
'It is not I who hate you, it is you who hate me!' wept Cathy, no
longer disguising her trouble. 'You hate me as much as Mr.
Heathcliff does, and more.'
'You're a damned liar,' began Earnshaw: 'why have I made him
angry, by taking your part, then, a hundred times? and that when
you sneered at and despised me, and - Go on plaguing me, and I'll
step in yonder, and say you worried me out of the kitchen!'
'I didn't know you took my part,' she answered, drying her eyes;
'and I was miserable and bitter at everybody; but now I thank you,
and beg you to forgive me: what can I do besides?'
She returned to the hearth, and frankly extended her hand. He
blackened and scowled like a thunder-cloud, and kept his fists
resolutely clenched, and his gaze fixed on the ground. Catherine,
by instinct, must have divined it was obdurate perversity, and not
dislike, that prompted this dogged conduct; for, after remaining an
instant undecided, she stooped and impressed on his cheek a gentle
kiss. The little rogue thought I had not seen her, and, drawing
back, she took her former station by the window, quite demurely. I
shook my head reprovingly, and then she blushed and whispered -
'Well! what should I have done, Ellen? He wouldn't shake hands,
and he wouldn't look: I must show him some way that I like him -
that I want to be friends.'
Whether the kiss convinced Hareton, I cannot tell: he was very
careful, for some minutes, that his face should not be seen, and
when he did raise it, he was sadly puzzled where to turn his eyes.
Catherine employed herself in wrapping a handsome book neatly in
white paper, and having tied it with a bit of ribbon, and addressed
it to 'Mr. Hareton Earnshaw,' she desired me to be her
ambassadress, and convey the present to its destined recipient.
'And tell him, if he'll take it, I'll come and teach him to read it
right,' she said; 'and, if he refuse it, I'll go upstairs, and
never tease him again.'
I carried it, and repeated the message; anxiously watched by my
employer. Hareton would not open his fingers, so I laid it on his
knee. He did not strike it off, either. I returned to my work.
Catherine leaned her head and arms on the table, till she heard the
slight rustle of the covering being removed; then she stole away,
and quietly seated herself beside her cousin. He trembled, and his
face glowed: all his rudeness and all his surly harshness had
deserted him: he could not summon courage, at first, to utter a
syllable in reply to her questioning look, and her murmured
'Say you forgive me, Hareton, do. You can make me so happy by
speaking that little word.'
He muttered something inaudible.
'And you'll be my friend?' added Catherine, interrogatively.
'Nay, you'll be ashamed of me every day of your life,' he answered;
'and the more ashamed, the more you know me; and I cannot bide it.'
'So you won't be my friend?' she said, smiling as sweet as honey,
and creeping close up.
I overheard no further distinguishable talk, but, on looking round
again, I perceived two such radiant countenances bent over the page
of the accepted book, that I did not doubt the treaty had been
ratified on both sides; and the enemies were, thenceforth, sworn
The work they studied was full of costly pictures; and those and
their position had charm enough to keep them unmoved till Joseph
came home. He, poor man, was perfectly aghast at the spectacle of
Catherine seated on the same bench with Hareton Earnshaw, leaning
her hand on his shoulder; and confounded at his favourite's
endurance of her proximity: it affected him too deeply to allow an
observation on the subject that night. His emotion was only
revealed by the immense sighs he drew, as he solemnly spread his
large Bible on the table, and overlaid it with dirty bank-notes
from his pocket-book, the produce of the day's transactions. At
length he summoned Hareton from his seat.
'Tak' these in to t' maister, lad,' he said, 'and bide there. I's
gang up to my own rahm. This hoile's neither mensful nor seemly
for us: we mun side out and seearch another.'
'Come, Catherine,' I said, 'we must "side out" too: I've done my
ironing. Are you ready to go?'
'It is not eight o'clock!' she answered, rising unwillingly.
'Hareton, I'll leave this book upon the chimney-piece, and I'll
bring some more to-morrow.'
'Ony books that yah leave, I shall tak' into th' hahse,' said
Joseph, 'and it'll be mitch if yah find 'em agean; soa, yah may
plase yerseln!'
Cathy threatened that his library should pay for hers; and, smiling
as she passed Hareton, went singing up-stairs: lighter of heart, I
venture to say, than ever she had been under that roof before;
except, perhaps, during her earliest visits to Linton.
The intimacy thus commenced grew rapidly; though it encountered
temporary interruptions. Earnshaw was not to be civilized with a
wish, and my young lady was no philosopher, and no paragon of
patience; but both their minds tending to the same point - one
loving and desiring to esteem, and the other loving and desiring to
be esteemed - they contrived in the end to reach it.
You see, Mr. Lockwood, it was easy enough to win Mrs. Heathcliff's
heart. But now, I'm glad you did not try. The crown of all my
wishes will be the union of those two. I shall envy no one on
their wedding day: there won't be a happier woman than myself in
ON the morrow of that Monday, Earnshaw being still unable to follow
his ordinary employments, and therefore remaining about the house,
I speedily found it would be impracticable to retain my charge
beside me, as heretofore. She got downstairs before me, and out
into the garden, where she had seen her cousin performing some easy
work; and when I went to bid them come to breakfast, I saw she had
persuaded him to clear a large space of ground from currant and
gooseberry bushes, and they were busy planning together an
importation of plants from the Grange.
I was terrified at the devastation which had been accomplished in a
brief half-hour; the black-currant trees were the apple of Joseph's
eye, and she had just fixed her choice of a flower-bed in the midst
of them.
'There! That will be all shown to the master,' I exclaimed, 'the
minute it is discovered. And what excuse have you to offer for
taking such liberties with the garden? We shall have a fine
explosion on the head of it: see if we don't! Mr. Hareton, I
wonder you should have no more wit than to go and make that mess at
her bidding!'
'I'd forgotten they were Joseph's,' answered Earnshaw, rather
puzzled; 'but I'll tell him I did it.'
We always ate our meals with Mr. Heathcliff. I held the mistress's
post in making tea and carving; so I was indispensable at table.
Catherine usually sat by me, but to-day she stole nearer to
Hareton; and I presently saw she would have no more discretion in
her friendship than she had in her hostility.
'Now, mind you don't talk with and notice your cousin too much,'
were my whispered instructions as we entered the room. 'It will
certainly annoy Mr. Heathcliff, and he'll be mad at you both.'
'I'm not going to,' she answered.
The minute after, she had sidled to him, and was sticking primroses
in his plate of porridge.
He dared not speak to her there: he dared hardly look; and yet she
went on teasing, till he was twice on the point of being provoked
to laugh. I frowned, and then she glanced towards the master:
whose mind was occupied on other subjects than his company, as his
countenance evinced; and she grew serious for an instant,
scrutinizing him with deep gravity. Afterwards she turned, and
recommenced her nonsense; at last, Hareton uttered a smothered
laugh. Mr. Heathcliff started; his eye rapidly surveyed our faces,
Catherine met it with her accustomed look of nervousness and yet
defiance, which he abhorred.
'It is well you are out of my reach,' he exclaimed. 'What fiend
possesses you to stare back at me, continually, with those infernal
eyes? Down with them! and don't remind me of your existence again.
I thought I had cured you of laughing.'
'It was me,' muttered Hareton.
'What do you say?' demanded the master.
Hareton looked at his plate, and did not repeat the confession.
Mr. Heathcliff looked at him a bit, and then silently resumed his
breakfast and his interrupted musing. We had nearly finished, and
the two young people prudently shifted wider asunder, so I
anticipated no further disturbance during that sitting: when
Joseph appeared at the door, revealing by his quivering lip and
furious eyes that the outrage committed on his precious shrubs was
detected. He must have seen Cathy and her cousin about the spot
before he examined it, for while his jaws worked like those of a
cow chewing its cud, and rendered his speech difficult to
understand, he began:-
'I mun hev' my wage, and I mun goa! I HED aimed to dee wheare I'd
sarved fur sixty year; and I thowt I'd lug my books up into t'
garret, and all my bits o' stuff, and they sud hev' t' kitchen to
theirseln; for t' sake o' quietness. It wur hard to gie up my awn
hearthstun, but I thowt I COULD do that! But nah, shoo's taan my
garden fro' me, and by th' heart, maister, I cannot stand it! Yah
may bend to th' yoak an ye will - I noan used to 't, and an old man
doesn't sooin get used to new barthens. I'd rayther arn my bite
an' my sup wi' a hammer in th' road!'
'Now, now, idiot!' interrupted Heathcliff, 'cut it short! What's
your grievance? I'll interfere in no quarrels between you and
Nelly. She may thrust you into the coal-hole for anything I care.'
'It's noan Nelly!' answered Joseph. 'I sudn't shift for Nelly -
nasty ill nowt as shoo is. Thank God! SHOO cannot stale t' sowl o'
nob'dy! Shoo wer niver soa handsome, but what a body mud look at
her 'bout winking. It's yon flaysome, graceless quean, that's
witched our lad, wi' her bold een and her forrard ways - till -
Nay! it fair brusts my heart! He's forgotten all I've done for
him, and made on him, and goan and riven up a whole row o' t'
grandest currant-trees i' t' garden!' and here he lamented
outright; unmanned by a sense of his bitter injuries, and
Earnshaw's ingratitude and dangerous condition.
'Is the fool drunk?' asked Mr. Heathcliff. 'Hareton, is it you
he's finding fault with?'
'I've pulled up two or three bushes,' replied the young man; 'but
I'm going to set 'em again.'
'And why have you pulled them up?' said the master.
Catherine wisely put in her tongue.
'We wanted to plant some flowers there,' she cried. 'I'm the only
person to blame, for I wished him to do it.'
'And who the devil gave YOU leave to touch a stick about the
place?' demanded her father-in-law, much surprised. 'And who
ordered YOU to obey her?' he added, turning to Hareton.
The latter was speechless; his cousin replied - 'You shouldn't
grudge a few yards of earth for me to ornament, when you have taken
all my land!'
'Your land, insolent slut! You never had any,' said Heathcliff.
'And my money,' she continued; returning his angry glare, and
meantime biting a piece of crust, the remnant of her breakfast.
'Silence!' he exclaimed. 'Get done, and begone!'
'And Hareton's land, and his money,' pursued the reckless thing.
'Hareton and I are friends now; and I shall tell him all about
The master seemed confounded a moment: he grew pale, and rose up,
eyeing her all the while, with an expression of mortal hate.
'If you strike me, Hareton will strike you,' she said; 'so you may
as well sit down.'
'If Hareton does not turn you out of the room, I'll strike him to
hell,' thundered Heathcliff. 'Damnable witch! dare you pretend to
rouse him against me? Off with her! Do you hear? Fling her into
the kitchen! I'll kill her, Ellen Dean, if you let her come into
my sight again!'
Hareton tried, under his breath, to persuade her to go.
'Drag her away!' he cried, savagely. 'Are you staying to talk?'
And he approached to execute his own command.
'He'll not obey you, wicked man, any more,' said Catherine; 'and
he'll soon detest you as much as I do.'
'Wisht! wisht!' muttered the young man, reproachfully; 'I will not
hear you speak so to him. Have done.'
'But you won't let him strike me?' she cried.
'Come, then,' he whispered earnestly.
It was too late: Heathcliff had caught hold of her.
'Now, YOU go!' he said to Earnshaw. 'Accursed witch! this time she
has provoked me when I could not bear it; and I'll make her repent
it for ever!'
He had his hand in her hair; Hareton attempted to release her
looks, entreating him not to hurt her that once. Heathcliff's
black eyes flashed; he seemed ready to tear Catherine in pieces,
and I was just worked up to risk coming to the rescue, when of a
sudden his fingers relaxed; he shifted his grasp from her head to
her arm, and gazed intently in her face. Then he drew his hand
over his eyes, stood a moment to collect himself apparently, and
turning anew to Catherine, said, with assumed calmness - 'You must
learn to avoid putting me in a passion, or I shall really murder
you some time! Go with Mrs. Dean, and keep with her; and confine
your insolence to her ears. As to Hareton Earnshaw, if I see him
listen to you, I'll send him seeking his bread where he can get it!
Your love will make him an outcast and a beggar. Nelly, take her;
and leave me, all of you! Leave me!'
I led my young lady out: she was too glad of her escape to resist;
the other followed, and Mr. Heathcliff had the room to himself till
dinner. I had counselled Catherine to dine up-stairs; but, as soon
as he perceived her vacant seat, he sent me to call her. He spoke
to none of us, ate very little, and went out directly afterwards,
intimating that he should not return before evening.
The two new friends established themselves in the house during his
absence; where I heard Hareton sternly cheek his cousin, on her
offering a revelation of her father-in-law's conduct to his father.
He said he wouldn't suffer a word to be uttered in his
disparagement: if he were the devil, it didn't signify; he would
stand by him; and he'd rather she would abuse himself, as she used
to, than begin on Mr. Heathcliff. Catherine was waxing cross at
this; but he found means to make her hold her tongue, by asking how
she would like HIM to speak ill of her father? Then she
comprehended that Earnshaw took the master's reputation home to
himself; and was attached by ties stronger than reason could break
- chains, forged by habit, which it would be cruel to attempt to
loosen. She showed a good heart, thenceforth, in avoiding both
complaints and expressions of antipathy concerning Heathcliff; and
confessed to me her sorrow that she had endeavoured to raise a bad
spirit between him and Hareton: indeed, I don't believe she has
ever breathed a syllable, in the latter's hearing, against her
oppressor since.
When this slight disagreement was over, they were friends again,
and as busy as possible in their several occupations of pupil and
teacher. I came in to sit with them, after I had done my work; and
I felt so soothed and comforted to watch them, that I did not
notice how time got on. You know, they both appeared in a measure
my children: I had long been proud of one; and now, I was sure,
the other would be a source of equal satisfaction. His honest,
warm, and intelligent nature shook off rapidly the clouds of
ignorance and degradation in which it had been bred; and
Catherine's sincere commendations acted as a spur to his industry.
His brightening mind brightened his features, and added spirit and
nobility to their aspect: I could hardly fancy it the same
individual I had beheld on the day I discovered my little lady at
Wuthering Heights, after her expedition to the Crags. While I
admired and they laboured, dusk drew on, and with it returned the
master. He came upon us quite unexpectedly, entering by the front
way, and had a full view of the whole three, ere we could raise our
heads to glance at him. Well, I reflected, there was never a
pleasanter, or more harmless sight; and it will be a burning shame
to scold them. The red fire-light glowed on their two bonny heads,
and revealed their faces animated with the eager interest of
children; for, though he was twenty-three and she eighteen, each
had so much of novelty to feel and learn, that neither experienced
nor evinced the sentiments of sober disenchanted maturity.
They lifted their eyes together, to encounter Mr. Heathcliff:
perhaps you have never remarked that their eyes are precisely
similar, and they are those of Catherine Earnshaw. The present
Catherine has no other likeness to her, except a breadth of
forehead, and a certain arch of the nostril that makes her appear
rather haughty, whether she will or not. With Hareton the
resemblance is carried farther: it is singular at all times, THEN
it was particularly striking; because his senses were alert, and
his mental faculties wakened to unwonted activity. I suppose this
resemblance disarmed Mr. Heathcliff: he walked to the hearth in
evident agitation; but it quickly subsided as he looked at the
young man: or, I should say, altered its character; for it was
there yet. He took the book from his hand, and glanced at the open
page, then returned it without any observation; merely signing
Catherine away: her companion lingered very little behind her, and
I was about to depart also, but he bid me sit still.
'It is a poor conclusion, is it not?' he observed, having brooded
awhile on the scene he had just witnessed: 'an absurd termination
to my violent exertions? I get levers and mattocks to demolish the
two houses, and train myself to be capable of working like
Hercules, and when everything is ready and in my power, I find the
will to lift a slate off either roof has vanished! My old enemies
have not beaten me; now would be the precise time to revenge myself
on their representatives: I could do it; and none could hinder me.
But where is the use? I don't care for striking: I can't take the
trouble to raise my hand! That sounds as if I had been labouring
the whole time only to exhibit a fine trait of magnanimity. It is
far from being the case: I have lost the faculty of enjoying their
destruction, and I am too idle to destroy for nothing.
'Nelly, there is a strange change approaching; I'm in its shadow at
present. I take so little interest in my daily life that I hardly
remember to eat and drink. Those two who have left the room are
the only objects which retain a distinct material appearance to me;
and that appearance causes me pain, amounting to agony. About HER
I won't speak; and I don't desire to think; but I earnestly wish
she were invisible: her presence invokes only maddening
sensations. HE moves me differently: and yet if I could do it
without seeming insane, I'd never see him again! You'll perhaps
think me rather inclined to become so,' he added, making an effort
to smile, 'if I try to describe the thousand forms of past
associations and ideas he awakens or embodies. But you'll not talk
of what I tell you; and my mind is so eternally secluded in itself,
it is tempting at last to turn it out to another.
'Five minutes ago Hareton seemed a personification of my youth, not
a human being; I felt to him in such a variety of ways, that it
would have been impossible to have accosted him rationally. In the
first place, his startling likeness to Catherine connected him
fearfully with her. That, however, which you may suppose the most
potent to arrest my imagination, is actually the least: for what
is not connected with her to me? and what does not recall her? I
cannot look down to this floor, but her features are shaped in the
flags! In every cloud, in every tree - filling the air at night,
and caught by glimpses in every object by day - I am surrounded
with her image! The most ordinary faces of men and women - my own
features - mock me with a resemblance. The entire world is a
dreadful collection of memoranda that she did exist, and that I
have lost her! Well, Hareton's aspect was the ghost of my immortal
love; of my wild endeavours to hold my right; my degradation, my
pride, my happiness, and my anguish -
'But it is frenzy to repeat these thoughts to you: only it will
let you know why, with a reluctance to be always alone, his society
is no benefit; rather an aggravation of the constant torment I
suffer: and it partly contributes to render me regardless how he
and his cousin go on together. I can give them no attention any
'But what do you mean by a CHANGE, Mr. Heathcliff?' I said, alarmed
at his manner: though he was neither in danger of losing his
senses, nor dying, according to my judgment: he was quite strong
and healthy; and, as to his reason, from childhood he had a delight
in dwelling on dark things, and entertaining odd fancies. He might
have had a monomania on the subject of his departed idol; but on
every other point his wits were as sound as mine.
'I shall not know that till it comes,' he said; 'I'm only half
conscious of it now.'
'You have no feeling of illness, have you?' I asked.
'No, Nelly, I have not,' he answered.
'Then you are not afraid of death?' I pursued.
'Afraid? No!' he replied. 'I have neither a fear, nor a
presentiment, nor a hope of death. Why should I? With my hard
constitution and temperate mode of living, and unperilous
occupations, I ought to, and probably SHALL, remain above ground
till there is scarcely a black hair on my head. And yet I cannot
continue in this condition! I have to remind myself to breathe -
almost to remind my heart to beat! And it is like bending back a
stiff spring: it is by compulsion that I do the slightest act not
prompted by one thought; and by compulsion that I notice anything
alive or dead, which is not associated with one universal idea. I
have a single wish, and my whole being and faculties are yearning
to attain it. They have yearned towards it so long, and so
unwaveringly, that I'm convinced it will be reached - and soon -
because it has devoured my existence: I am swallowed up in the
anticipation of its fulfilment. My confessions have not relieved
me; but they may account for some otherwise unaccountable phases of
humour which I show. O God! It is a long fight; I wish it were
He began to pace the room, muttering terrible things to himself,
till I was inclined to believe, as he said Joseph did, that
conscience had turned his heart to an earthly hell. I wondered
greatly how it would end. Though he seldom before had revealed
this state of mind, even by looks, it was his habitual mood, I had
no doubt: he asserted it himself; but not a soul, from his general
bearing, would have conjectured the fact. You did not when you saw
him, Mr. Lockwood: and at the period of which I speak, he was just
the same as then; only fonder of continued solitude, and perhaps
still more laconic in company.
FOR some days after that evening Mr. Heathcliff shunned meeting us
at meals; yet he would not consent formally to exclude Hareton and
Cathy. He had an aversion to yielding so completely to his
feelings, choosing rather to absent himself; and eating once in
twenty-four hours seemed sufficient sustenance for him.
One night, after the family were in bed, I heard him go downstairs,
and out at the front door. I did not hear him re-enter, and in the
morning I found he was still away. We were in April then: the
weather was sweet and warm, the grass as green as showers and sun
could make it, and the two dwarf apple-trees near the southern wall
in full bloom. After breakfast, Catherine insisted on my bringing
a chair and sitting with my work under the fir-trees at the end of
the house; and she beguiled Hareton, who had perfectly recovered
from his accident, to dig and arrange her little garden, which was
shifted to that corner by the influence of Joseph's complaints. I
was comfortably revelling in the spring fragrance around, and the
beautiful soft blue overhead, when my young lady, who had run down
near the gate to procure some primrose roots for a border, returned
only half laden, and informed us that Mr. Heathcliff was coming in.
'And he spoke to me,' she added, with a perplexed countenance.
'What did he say?' asked Hareton.
'He told me to begone as fast as I could,' she answered. 'But he
looked so different from his usual look that I stopped a moment to
stare at him.'
'How?' he inquired.
'Why, almost bright and cheerful. No, ALMOST nothing - VERY MUCH
excited, and wild, and glad!' she replied.
'Night-walking amuses him, then,' I remarked, affecting a careless
manner: in reality as surprised as she was, and anxious to
ascertain the truth of her statement; for to see the master looking
glad would not be an every-day spectacle. I framed an excuse to go
in. Heathcliff stood at the open door; he was pale, and he
trembled: yet, certainly, he had a strange joyful glitter in his
eyes, that altered the aspect of his whole face.
'Will you have some breakfast?' I said. 'You must be hungry,
rambling about all night!' I wanted to discover where he had been,
but I did not like to ask directly.
'No, I'm not hungry,' he answered, averting his head, and speaking
rather contemptuously, as if he guessed I was trying to divine the
occasion of his good humour.
I felt perplexed: I didn't know whether it were not a proper
opportunity to offer a bit of admonition.
'I don't think it right to wander out of doors,' I observed,
'instead of being in bed: it is not wise, at any rate this moist
season. I daresay you'll catch a bad cold or a fever: you have
something the matter with you now!'
'Nothing but what I can bear,' he replied; 'and with the greatest
pleasure, provided you'll leave me alone: get in, and don't annoy
I obeyed: and, in passing, I noticed he breathed as fast as a cat.
'Yes!' I reflected to myself, 'we shall have a fit of illness. I
cannot conceive what he has been doing.'
That noon he sat down to dinner with us, and received a heaped-up
plate from my hands, as if he intended to make amends for previous
'I've neither cold nor fever, Nelly,' he remarked, in allusion to
my morning's speech; 'and I'm ready to do justice to the food you
give me.'
He took his knife and fork, and was going to commence eating, when
the inclination appeared to become suddenly extinct. He laid them
on the table, looked eagerly towards the window, then rose and went
out. We saw him walking to and fro in the garden while we
concluded our meal, and Earnshaw said he'd go and ask why he would
not dine: he thought we had grieved him some way.
'Well, is he coming?' cried Catherine, when her cousin returned.
'Nay,' he answered; 'but he's not angry: he seemed rarely pleased
indeed; only I made him impatient by speaking to him twice; and
then he bid me be off to you: he wondered how I could want the
company of anybody else.'
I set his plate to keep warm on the fender; and after an hour or
two he re-entered, when the room was clear, in no degree calmer:
the same unnatural - it was unnatural - appearance of joy under his
black brows; the same bloodless hue, and his teeth visible, now and
then, in a kind of smile; his frame shivering, not as one shivers
with chill or weakness, but as a tight-stretched cord vibrates - a
strong thrilling, rather than trembling.
I will ask what is the matter, I thought; or who should? And I
exclaimed - 'Have you heard any good news, Mr. Heathcliff? You
look uncommonly animated.'
'Where should good news come from to me?' he said. 'I'm animated
with hunger; and, seemingly, I must not eat.'
'Your dinner is here,' I returned; 'why won't you get it?'
'I don't want it now,' he muttered, hastily: 'I'll wait till
supper. And, Nelly, once for all, let me beg you to warn Hareton
and the other away from me. I wish to be troubled by nobody: I
wish to have this place to myself.'
'Is there some new reason for this banishment?' I inquired. 'Tell
me why you are so queer, Mr. Heathcliff? Where were you last
night? I'm not putting the question through idle curiosity, but -
'You are putting the question through very idle curiosity,' he
interrupted, with a laugh. 'Yet I'll answer it. Last night I was
on the threshold of hell. To-day, I am within sight of my heaven.
I have my eyes on it: hardly three feet to sever me! And now
you'd better go! You'll neither see nor hear anything to frighten
you, if you refrain from prying.'
Having swept the hearth and wiped the table, I departed; more
perplexed than ever.
He did not quit the house again that afternoon, and no one intruded
on his solitude; till, at eight o'clock, I deemed it proper, though
unsummoned, to carry a candle and his supper to him. He was
leaning against the ledge of an open lattice, but not looking out:
his face was turned to the interior gloom. The fire had smouldered
to ashes; the room was filled with the damp, mild air of the cloudy
evening; and so still, that not only the murmur of the beck down
Gimmerton was distinguishable, but its ripples and its gurgling
over the pebbles, or through the large stones which it could not
cover. I uttered an ejaculation of discontent at seeing the dismal
grate, and commenced shutting the casements, one after another,
till I came to his.
'Must I close this?' I asked, in order to rouse him; for he would
not stir.
The light flashed on his features as I spoke. Oh, Mr. Lockwood, I
cannot express what a terrible start I got by the momentary view!
Those deep black eyes! That smile, and ghastly paleness! It
appeared to me, not Mr. Heathcliff, but a goblin; and, in my
terror, I let the candle bend towards the wall, and it left me in
'Yes, close it,' he replied, in his familiar voice. 'There, that
is pure awkwardness! Why did you hold the candle horizontally? Be
quick, and bring another.'
I hurried out in a foolish state of dread, and said to Joseph -
'The master wishes you to take him a light and rekindle the fire.'
For I dared not go in myself again just then.
Joseph rattled some fire into the shovel, and went: but he brought
it back immediately, with the supper-tray in his other hand,
explaining that Mr. Heathcliff was going to bed, and he wanted
nothing to eat till morning. We heard him mount the stairs
directly; he did not proceed to his ordinary chamber, but turned
into that with the panelled bed: its window, as I mentioned
before, is wide enough for anybody to get through; and it struck me
that he plotted another midnight excursion, of which he had rather
we had no suspicion.
'Is he a ghoul or a vampire?' I mused. I had read of such hideous
incarnate demons. And then I set myself to reflect how I had
tended him in infancy, and watched him grow to youth, and followed
him almost through his whole course; and what absurd nonsense it
was to yield to that sense of horror. 'But where did he come from,
the little dark thing, harboured by a good man to his bane?'
muttered Superstition, as I dozed into unconsciousness. And I
began, half dreaming, to weary myself with imagining some fit
parentage for him; and, repeating my waking meditations, I tracked
his existence over again, with grim variations; at last, picturing
his death and funeral: of which, all I can remember is, being
exceedingly vexed at having the task of dictating an inscription
for his monument, and consulting the sexton about it; and, as he
had no surname, and we could not tell his age, we were obliged to
content ourselves with the single word, 'Heathcliff.' That came
true: we were. If you enter the kirkyard, you'll read, on his
headstone, only that, and the date of his death.
Dawn restored me to common sense. I rose, and went into the
garden, as soon as I could see, to ascertain if there were any
footmarks under his window. There were none. 'He has stayed at
home,' I thought, 'and he'll be all right to-day.' I prepared
breakfast for the household, as was my usual custom, but told
Hareton and Catherine to get theirs ere the master came down, for
he lay late. They preferred taking it out of doors, under the
trees, and I set a little table to accommodate them.
On my re-entrance, I found Mr. Heathcliff below. He and Joseph
were conversing about some farming business; he gave clear, minute
directions concerning the matter discussed, but he spoke rapidly,
and turned his head continually aside, and had the same excited
expression, even more exaggerated. When Joseph quitted the room he
took his seat in the place he generally chose, and I put a basin of
coffee before him. He drew it nearer, and then rested his arms on
the table, and looked at the opposite wall, as I supposed,
surveying one particular portion, up and down, with glittering,
restless eyes, and with such eager interest that he stopped
breathing during half a minute together.
'Come now,' I exclaimed, pushing some bread against his hand, 'eat
and drink that, while it is hot: it has been waiting near an
He didn't notice me, and yet he smiled. I'd rather have seen him
gnash his teeth than smile so.
'Mr. Heathcliff! master!' I cried, 'don't, for God's sake, stare as
if you saw an unearthly vision.'
'Don't, for God's sake, shout so loud,' he replied. 'Turn round,
and tell me, are we by ourselves?'
'Of course,' was my answer; 'of course we are.'
Still, I involuntarily obeyed him, as if I was not quite sure.
With a sweep of his hand he cleared a vacant space in front among
the breakfast things, and leant forward to gaze more at his ease.
Now, I perceived he was not looking at the wall; for when I
regarded him alone, it seemed exactly that he gazed at something
within two yards' distance. And whatever it was, it communicated,
apparently, both pleasure and pain in exquisite extremes: at least
the anguished, yet raptured, expression of his countenance
suggested that idea. The fancied object was not fixed, either:
his eyes pursued it with unwearied diligence, and, even in speaking
to me, were never weaned away. I vainly reminded him of his
protracted abstinence from food: if he stirred to touch anything
in compliance with my entreaties, if he stretched his hand out to
get a piece of bread, his fingers clenched before they reached it,
and remained on the table, forgetful of their aim.
I sat, a model of patience, trying to attract his absorbed
attention from its engrossing speculation; till he grew irritable,
and got up, asking why I would not allow him to have his own time
in taking his meals? and saying that on the next occasion I needn't
wait: I might set the things down and go. Having uttered these
words he left the house, slowly sauntered down the garden path, and
disappeared through the gate.
The hours crept anxiously by: another evening came. I did not
retire to rest till late, and when I did, I could not sleep. He
returned after midnight, and, instead of going to bed, shut himself
into the room beneath. I listened, and tossed about, and, finally,
dressed and descended. It was too irksome to lie there, harassing
my brain with a hundred idle misgivings.
I distinguished Mr. Heathcliff's step, restlessly measuring the
floor, and he frequently broke the silence by a deep inspiration,
resembling a groan. He muttered detached words also; the only one
I could catch was the name of Catherine, coupled with some wild
term of endearment or suffering; and spoken as one would speak to a
person present; low and earnest, and wrung from the depth of his
soul. I had not courage to walk straight into the apartment; but I
desired to divert him from his reverie, and therefore fell foul of
the kitchen fire, stirred it, and began to scrape the cinders. It
drew him forth sooner than I expected. He opened the door
immediately, and said - 'Nelly, come here - is it morning? Come in
with your light.'
'It is striking four,' I answered. 'You want a candle to take upstairs:
you might have lit one at this fire.'
'No, I don't wish to go up-stairs,' he said. 'Come in, and kindle
ME a fire, and do anything there is to do about the room.'
'I must blow the coals red first, before I can carry any,' I
replied, getting a chair and the bellows
He roamed to and fro, meantime, in a state approaching distraction;
his heavy sighs succeeding each other so thick as to leave no space
for common breathing between.
'When day breaks I'll send for Green,' he said; 'I wish to make
some legal inquiries of him while I can bestow a thought on those
matters, and while I can act calmly. I have not written my will
yet; and how to leave my property I cannot determine. I wish I
could annihilate it from the face of the earth.'
'I would not talk so, Mr. Heathcliff,' I interposed. 'Let your
will be a while: you'll be spared to repent of your many
injustices yet! I never expected that your nerves would be
disordered: they are, at present, marvellously so, however; and
almost entirely through your own fault. The way you've passed
these three last days might knock up a Titan. Do take some food,
and some repose. You need only look at yourself in a glass to see
how you require both. Your cheeks are hollow, and your eyes bloodshot,
like a person starving with hunger and going blind with loss
of sleep.'
'It is not my fault that I cannot eat or rest,' he replied. 'I
assure you it is through no settled designs. I'll do both, as soon
as I possibly can. But you might as well bid a man struggling in
the water rest within arms' length of the shore! I must reach it
first, and then I'll rest. Well, never mind Mr. Green: as to
repenting of my injustices, I've done no injustice, and I repent of
nothing. I'm too happy; and yet I'm not happy enough. My soul's
bliss kills my body, but does not satisfy itself.'
'Happy, master?' I cried. 'Strange happiness! If you would hear
me without being angry, I might offer some advice that would make
you happier.'
'What is that?' he asked. 'Give it.'
'You are aware, Mr. Heathcliff,' I said, 'that from the time you
were thirteen years old you have lived a selfish, unchristian life;
and probably hardly had a Bible in your hands during all that
period. You must have forgotten the contents of the book, and you
may not have space to search it now. Could it be hurtful to send
for some one - some minister of any denomination, it does not
matter which - to explain it, and show you how very far you have
erred from its precepts; and how unfit you will be for its heaven,
unless a change takes place before you die?'
'I'm rather obliged than angry, Nelly,' he said, 'for you remind me
of the manner in which I desire to be buried. It is to be carried
to the churchyard in the evening. You and Hareton may, if you
please, accompany me: and mind, particularly, to notice that the
sexton obeys my directions concerning the two coffins! No minister
need come; nor need anything be said over me. - I tell you I have
nearly attained MY heaven; and that of others is altogether
unvalued and uncovered by me.'
'And supposing you persevered in your obstinate fast, and died by
that means, and they refused to bury you in the precincts of the
kirk?' I said, shocked at his godless indifference. 'How would you
like it?'
'They won't do that,' he replied: 'if they did, you must have me
removed secretly; and if you neglect it you shall prove,
practically, that the dead are not annihilated!'
As soon as he heard the other members of the family stirring he
retired to his den, and I breathed freer. But in the afternoon,
while Joseph and Hareton were at their work, he came into the
kitchen again, and, with a wild look, bid me come and sit in the
house: he wanted somebody with him. I declined; telling him
plainly that his strange talk and manner frightened me, and I had
neither the nerve nor the will to be his companion alone.
'I believe you think me a fiend,' he said, with his dismal laugh:
'something too horrible to live under a decent roof.' Then turning
to Catherine, who was there, and who drew behind me at his
approach, he added, half sneeringly, - 'Will YOU come, chuck? I'll
not hurt you. No! to you I've made myself worse than the devil.
Well, there is ONE who won't shrink from my company! By God! she's
relentless. Oh, damn it! It's unutterably too much for flesh and
blood to bear - even mine.'
He solicited the society of no one more. At dusk he went into his
chamber. Through the whole night, and far into the morning, we
heard him groaning and murmuring to himself. Hareton was anxious
to enter; but I bid him fetch Mr. Kenneth, and he should go in and
see him. When he came, and I requested admittance and tried to
open the door, I found it locked; and Heathcliff bid us be damned.
He was better, and would be left alone; so the doctor went away.
The following evening was very wet: indeed, it poured down till
day-dawn; and, as I took my morning walk round the house, I
observed the master's window swinging open, and the rain driving
straight in. He cannot be in bed, I thought: those showers would
drench him through. He must either be up or out. But I'll make no
more ado, I'll go boldly and look.'
Having succeeded in obtaining entrance with another key, I ran to
unclose the panels, for the chamber was vacant; quickly pushing
them aside, I peeped in. Mr. Heathcliff was there - laid on his
back. His eyes met mine so keen and fierce, I started; and then he
seemed to smile. I could not think him dead: but his face and
throat were washed with rain; the bed-clothes dripped, and he was
perfectly still. The lattice, flapping to and fro, had grazed one
hand that rested on the sill; no blood trickled from the broken
skin, and when I put my fingers to it, I could doubt no more: he
was dead and stark!
I hasped the window; I combed his black long hair from his
forehead; I tried to close his eyes: to extinguish, if possible,
that frightful, life-like gaze of exultation before any one else
beheld it. They would not shut: they seemed to sneer at my
attempts; and his parted lips and sharp white teeth sneered too!
Taken with another fit of cowardice, I cried out for Joseph.
Joseph shuffled up and made a noise, but resolutely refused to
meddle with him.
'Th' divil's harried off his soul,' he cried, 'and he may hev' his
carcass into t' bargin, for aught I care! Ech! what a wicked 'un
he looks, girning at death!' and the old sinner grinned in mockery.
I thought he intended to cut a caper round the bed; but suddenly
composing himself, he fell on his knees, and raised his hands, and
returned thanks that the lawful master and the ancient stock were
restored to their rights.
I felt stunned by the awful event; and my memory unavoidably
recurred to former times with a sort of oppressive sadness. But
poor Hareton, the most wronged, was the only one who really
suffered much. He sat by the corpse all night, weeping in bitter
earnest. He pressed its hand, and kissed the sarcastic, savage
face that every one else shrank from contemplating; and bemoaned
him with that strong grief which springs naturally from a generous
heart, though it be tough as tempered steel.
Mr. Kenneth was perplexed to pronounce of what disorder the master
died. I concealed the fact of his having swallowed nothing for
four days, fearing it might lead to trouble, and then, I am
persuaded, he did not abstain on purpose: it was the consequence
of his strange illness, not the cause.
We buried him, to the scandal of the whole neighbourhood, as he
wished. Earnshaw and I, the sexton, and six men to carry the
coffin, comprehended the whole attendance. The six men departed
when they had let it down into the grave: we stayed to see it
covered. Hareton, with a streaming face, dug green sods, and laid
them over the brown mould himself: at present it is as smooth and
verdant as its companion mounds - and I hope its tenant sleeps as
soundly. But the country folks, if you ask them, would swear on
the Bible that he WALKS: there are those who speak to having met
him near the church, and on the moor, and even within this house.
Idle tales, you'll say, and so say I. Yet that old man by the
kitchen fire affirms he has seen two on 'em looking out of his
chamber window on every rainy night since his death:- and an odd
thing happened to me about a month ago. I was going to the Grange
one evening - a dark evening, threatening thunder - and, just at
the turn of the Heights, I encountered a little boy with a sheep
and two lambs before him; he was crying terribly; and I supposed
the lambs were skittish, and would not be guided.
'What is the matter, my little man?' I asked.
'There's Heathcliff and a woman yonder, under t' nab,' he
blubbered, 'un' I darnut pass 'em.'
I saw nothing; but neither the sheep nor he would go on so I bid
him take the road lower down. He probably raised the phantoms from
thinking, as he traversed the moors alone, on the nonsense he had
heard his parents and companions repeat. Yet, still, I don't like
being out in the dark now; and I don't like being left by myself in
this grim house: I cannot help it; I shall be glad when they leave
it, and shift to the Grange.
'They are going to the Grange, then?' I said.
'Yes,' answered Mrs. Dean, 'as soon as they are married, and that
will be on New Year's Day.'
'And who will live here then?'
'Why, Joseph will take care of the house, and, perhaps, a lad to
keep him company. They will live in the kitchen, and the rest will
be shut up.'
'For the use of such ghosts as choose to inhabit it?' I observed.
'No, Mr. Lockwood,' said Nelly, shaking her head. 'I believe the
dead are at peace: but it is not right to speak of them with
At that moment the garden gate swung to; the ramblers were
'THEY are afraid of nothing,' I grumbled, watching their approach
through the window. 'Together, they would brave Satan and all his
As they stepped on to the door-stones, and halted to take a last
look at the moon - or, more correctly, at each other by her light -
I felt irresistibly impelled to escape them again; and, pressing a
remembrance into the hand of Mrs. Dean, and disregarding her
expostulations at my rudeness, I vanished through the kitchen as
they opened the house-door; and so should have confirmed Joseph in
his opinion of his fellow-servant's gay indiscretions, had he not
fortunately recognised me for a respectable character by the sweet
ring of a sovereign at his feet.
My walk home was lengthened by a diversion in the direction of the
kirk. When beneath its walls, I perceived decay had made progress,
even in seven months: many a window showed black gaps deprived of
glass; and slates jutted off here and there, beyond the right line
of the roof, to be gradually worked off in coming autumn storms.
I sought, and soon discovered, the three headstones on the slope
next the moor: on middle one grey, and half buried in the heath;
Edgar Linton's only harmonized by the turf and moss creeping up its
foot; Heathcliff's still bare.
I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths
fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind
breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever
imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.

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