Part 4 - Wuthering Heights Audiobook by Emily Bronte (Chs 17-21)


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Transcript:
CHAPTER XVII
That Friday made the last of our fine days for a month.
In the evening the weather broke: the wind shifted from south to north-east, and
brought rain first, and then sleet and snow.
On the morrow one could hardly imagine that there had been three weeks of summer: the
primroses and crocuses were hidden under wintry drifts; the larks were silent, the
young leaves of the early trees smitten and blackened.
And dreary, and chill, and dismal, that morrow did creep over!
My master kept his room; I took possession of the lonely parlour, converting it into a
nursery: and there I was, sitting with the moaning doll of a child laid on my knee;
rocking it to and fro, and watching,
meanwhile, the still driving flakes build up the uncurtained window, when the door
opened, and some person entered, out of breath and laughing!
My anger was greater than my astonishment for a minute.
I supposed it one of the maids, and I cried--'Have done!
How dare you show your giddiness here; What would Mr. Linton say if he heard you?'
'Excuse me!' answered a familiar voice; 'but I know Edgar is in bed, and I cannot
stop myself.'
With that the speaker came forward to the fire, panting and holding her hand to her
side.
'I have run the whole way from Wuthering Heights!' she continued, after a pause;
'except where I've flown. I couldn't count the number of falls I've
had.
Oh, I'm aching all over! Don't be alarmed!
There shall be an explanation as soon as I can give it; only just have the goodness to
step out and order the carriage to take me on to Gimmerton, and tell a servant to seek
up a few clothes in my wardrobe.'
The intruder was Mrs. Heathcliff.
She certainly seemed in no laughing predicament: her hair streamed on her
shoulders, dripping with snow and water; she was dressed in the girlish dress she
commonly wore, befitting her age more than
her position: a low frock with short sleeves, and nothing on either head or
neck.
The frock was of light silk, and clung to her with wet, and her feet were protected
merely by thin slippers; add to this a deep cut under one ear, which only the cold
prevented from bleeding profusely, a white
face scratched and bruised, and a frame hardly able to support itself through
fatigue; and you may fancy my first fright was not much allayed when I had had leisure
to examine her.
'My dear young lady,' I exclaimed, 'I'll stir nowhere, and hear nothing, till you
have removed every article of your clothes, and put on dry things; and certainly you
shall not go to Gimmerton to-night, so it is needless to order the carriage.'
'Certainly I shall,' she said; 'walking or riding: yet I've no objection to dress
myself decently.
And--ah, see how it flows down my neck now! The fire does make it smart.'
She insisted on my fulfilling her directions, before she would let me touch
her; and not till after the coachman had been instructed to get ready, and a maid
set to pack up some necessary attire, did I
obtain her consent for binding the wound and helping to change her garments.
'Now, Ellen,' she said, when my task was finished and she was seated in an easy-
chair on the hearth, with a cup of tea before her, 'you sit down opposite me, and
put poor Catherine's baby away: I don't like to see it!
You mustn't think I care little for Catherine, because I behaved so foolishly
on entering: I've cried, too, bitterly-- yes, more than any one else has reason to
cry.
We parted unreconciled, you remember, and I sha'n't forgive myself.
But, for all that, I was not going to sympathise with him--the brute beast!
Oh, give me the poker!
This is the last thing of his I have about me:' she slipped the gold ring from her
third finger, and threw it on the floor.
'I'll smash it!' she continued, striking it with childish spite, 'and then I'll burn
it!' and she took and dropped the misused article among the coals.
'There! he shall buy another, if he gets me back again.
He'd be capable of coming to seek me, to tease Edgar.
I dare not stay, lest that notion should possess his wicked head!
And besides, Edgar has not been kind, has he?
And I won't come suing for his assistance; nor will I bring him into more trouble.
Necessity compelled me to seek shelter here; though, if I had not learned he was
out of the way, I'd have halted at the kitchen, washed my face, warmed myself, got
you to bring what I wanted, and departed
again to anywhere out of the reach of my accursed--of that incarnate goblin!
Ah, he was in such a fury! If he had caught me!
It's a pity Earnshaw is not his match in strength: I wouldn't have run till I'd seen
him all but demolished, had Hindley been able to do it!'
'Well, don't talk so fast, Miss!'
I interrupted; 'you'll disorder the handkerchief I have tied round your face,
and make the cut bleed again.
Drink your tea, and take breath, and give over laughing: laughter is sadly out of
place under this roof, and in your condition!'
'An undeniable truth,' she replied.
'Listen to that child! It maintains a constant wail--send it out
of my hearing for an hour; I sha'n't stay any longer.'
I rang the bell, and committed it to a servant's care; and then I inquired what
had urged her to escape from Wuthering Heights in such an unlikely plight, and
where she meant to go, as she refused remaining with us.
'I ought, and I wished to remain,' answered she, 'to cheer Edgar and take care of the
baby, for two things, and because the Grange is my right home.
But I tell you he wouldn't let me!
Do you think he could bear to see me grow fat and merry--could bear to think that we
were tranquil, and not resolve on poisoning our comfort?
Now, I have the satisfaction of being sure that he detests me, to the point of its
annoying him seriously to have me within ear-shot or eyesight: I notice, when I
enter his presence, the muscles of his
countenance are involuntarily distorted into an expression of hatred; partly
arising from his knowledge of the good causes I have to feel that sentiment for
him, and partly from original aversion.
It is strong enough to make me feel pretty certain that he would not chase me over
England, supposing I contrived a clear escape; and therefore I must get quite
away.
I've recovered from my first desire to be killed by him: I'd rather he'd kill
himself! He has extinguished my love effectually,
and so I'm at my ease.
I can recollect yet how I loved him; and can dimly imagine that I could still be
loving him, if--no, no!
Even if he had doted on me, the devilish nature would have revealed its existence
somehow. Catherine had an awfully perverted taste to
esteem him so dearly, knowing him so well.
Monster! would that he could be blotted out of creation, and out of my memory!'
'Hush, hush! He's a human being,' I said.
'Be more charitable: there are worse men than he is yet!'
'He's not a human being,' she retorted; 'and he has no claim on my charity.
I gave him my heart, and he took and pinched it to death, and flung it back to
me.
People feel with their hearts, Ellen: and since he has destroyed mine, I have not
power to feel for him: and I would not, though he groaned from this to his dying
day, and wept tears of blood for Catherine!
No, indeed, indeed, I wouldn't!' And here Isabella began to cry; but,
immediately dashing the water from her lashes, she recommenced.
'You asked, what has driven me to flight at last?
I was compelled to attempt it, because I had succeeded in rousing his rage a pitch
above his malignity.
Pulling out the nerves with red hot pincers requires more coolness than knocking on the
head.
He was worked up to forget the fiendish prudence he boasted of, and proceeded to
murderous violence.
I experienced pleasure in being able to exasperate him: the sense of pleasure woke
my instinct of self-preservation, so I fairly broke free; and if ever I come into
his hands again he is welcome to a signal revenge.
'Yesterday, you know, Mr. Earnshaw should have been at the funeral.
He kept himself sober for the purpose-- tolerably sober: not going to bed mad at
six o'clock and getting up drunk at twelve.
Consequently, he rose, in suicidal low spirits, as fit for the church as for a
dance; and instead, he sat down by the fire and swallowed gin or brandy by tumblerfuls.
'Heathcliff--I shudder to name him! has been a stranger in the house from last
Sunday till to-day.
Whether the angels have fed him, or his kin beneath, I cannot tell; but he has not
eaten a meal with us for nearly a week.
He has just come home at dawn, and gone up- stairs to his chamber; locking himself in--
as if anybody dreamt of coveting his company!
There he has continued, praying like a Methodist: only the deity he implored is
senseless dust and ashes; and God, when addressed, was curiously confounded with
his own black father!
After concluding these precious orisons-- and they lasted generally till he grew
hoarse and his voice was strangled in his throat--he would be off again; always
straight down to the Grange!
I wonder Edgar did not send for a constable, and give him into custody!
For me, grieved as I was about Catherine, it was impossible to avoid regarding this
season of deliverance from degrading oppression as a holiday.
'I recovered spirits sufficient to bear Joseph's eternal lectures without weeping,
and to move up and down the house less with the foot of a frightened thief than
formerly.
You wouldn't think that I should cry at anything Joseph could say; but he and
Hareton are detestable companions.
I'd rather sit with Hindley, and hear his awful talk, than with "t' little maister"
and his staunch supporter, that odious old man!
When Heathcliff is in, I'm often obliged to seek the kitchen and their society, or
starve among the damp uninhabited chambers; when he is not, as was the case this week,
I establish a table and chair at one corner
of the house fire, and never mind how Mr. Earnshaw may occupy himself; and he does
not interfere with my arrangements.
He is quieter now than he used to be, if no one provokes him: more sullen and
depressed, and less furious.
Joseph affirms he's sure he's an altered man: that the Lord has touched his heart,
and he is saved "so as by fire."
I'm puzzled to detect signs of the favourable change: but it is not my
business. 'Yester-evening I sat in my nook reading
some old books till late on towards twelve.
It seemed so dismal to go 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 object?" '"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 derision.
'"Get up, and begone out of my sight," said the mourner.
'I guessed he uttered those words, at least, though his voice was hardly
intelligible.
'"I beg your pardon," I replied. "But I loved Catherine too; and her brother
requires attendance, which, for her sake, I shall supply.
Now, that she's dead, I see her in Hindley: Hindley has exactly her eyes, if you had
not tried to gouge them out, and made them black and red; and her--"
'"Get up, wretched idiot, before I stamp you to death!" he cried, making a movement
that caused me to make one also.
'"But then," I continued, holding myself ready to flee, "if poor Catherine had
trusted you, and assumed the ridiculous, contemptible, degrading title of Mrs.
Heathcliff, she would soon have presented a similar picture!
She wouldn't have borne your abominable behaviour quietly: her detestation and
disgust must have found voice."
'The back of the settle and Earnshaw's person interposed between me and him; so
instead of endeavouring to reach me, he snatched a dinner-knife from the table and
flung it at my head.
It struck beneath my ear, and stopped the sentence I was uttering; but, pulling it
out, I sprang to the door and delivered another; which I hope went a little deeper
than his missile.
The last glimpse I caught of him was a furious rush on his part, checked by the
embrace of his host; and both fell locked together on the hearth.
In my flight through the kitchen I bid Joseph speed to his master; I knocked over
Hareton, who was hanging a litter of puppies from a chair-back in the doorway;
and, blessed as a soul escaped from
purgatory, I bounded, leaped, and flew down the steep road; then, quitting its
windings, shot direct across the moor, rolling over banks, and wading through
marshes: precipitating myself, in fact, towards the beacon-light of the Grange.
And far rather would I be condemned to a perpetual dwelling in the infernal regions
than, even for one night, abide beneath the roof of Wuthering Heights again.'
Isabella ceased speaking, and took a drink of tea; then she rose, and bidding me put
on her bonnet, and a great shawl I had brought, and turning a deaf ear to my
entreaties for her to remain another hour,
she stepped on to a chair, kissed Edgar's and Catherine's portraits, bestowed a
similar salute on me, and descended to the carriage, accompanied by Fanny, who yelped
wild with joy at recovering her mistress.
She was driven away, never to revisit this neighbourhood: but a regular correspondence
was established between her and my master when things were more settled.
I believe her new abode was in the south, near London; there she had a son born a few
months subsequent to her escape.
He was christened Linton, and, from the first, she reported him to be an ailing,
peevish creature. Mr. Heathcliff, meeting me one day in the
village, inquired where she lived.
I refused to tell. He remarked that it was not of any moment,
only she must beware of coming to her brother: she should not be with him, if he
had to keep her himself.
Though I would give no information, he discovered, through some of the other
servants, both her place of residence and the existence of the child.
Still, he didn't molest her: for which forbearance she might thank his aversion,
I suppose.
He often asked about the infant, when he saw me; and on hearing its name, smiled
grimly, and observed: 'They wish me to hate it too, do they?'
'I don't think they wish you to know anything about it,' I answered.
'But I'll have it,' he said, 'when I want it.
They may reckon on that!'
Fortunately its mother died before the time arrived; some thirteen years after the
decease of Catherine, when Linton was twelve, or a little more.
On the day succeeding Isabella's unexpected visit I had no opportunity of speaking to
my master: he shunned conversation, and was fit for discussing nothing.
When I could get him to listen, I saw it pleased him that his sister had left her
husband; whom he abhorred with an intensity which the mildness of his nature would
scarcely seem to allow.
So deep and sensitive was his aversion, that he refrained from going anywhere where
he was likely to see or hear of Heathcliff.
Grief, and that together, transformed him into a complete hermit: he threw up his
office of magistrate, ceased even to attend church, avoided the village on all
occasions, and spent a life of entire
seclusion within the limits of his park and grounds; only varied by solitary rambles on
the moors, and visits to the grave of his wife, mostly at evening, or early morning
before other wanderers were abroad.
But he was too good to be thoroughly unhappy long.
He didn't pray for Catherine's soul to haunt him.
Time brought resignation, and a melancholy sweeter than common joy.
He recalled her memory with ardent, tender love, and hopeful aspiring to the better
world; where he doubted not she was gone.
And he had earthly consolation and affections also.
For a few days, I said, he seemed regardless of the puny successor to the
departed: that coldness melted as fast as snow in April, and ere the tiny thing could
stammer a word or totter a step it wielded a despot's sceptre in his heart.
It was named Catherine; but he never called it the name in full, as he had never called
the first Catherine short: probably because Heathcliff had a habit of doing so.
The little one was always Cathy: it formed to him a distinction from the mother, and
yet a connection with her; and his attachment sprang from its relation to her,
far more than from its being his own.
I used to draw a comparison between him and Hindley Earnshaw, and perplex myself to
explain satisfactorily why their conduct was so opposite in similar circumstances.
They had both been fond husbands, and were both attached to their children; and I
could not see how they shouldn't both have taken the same road, for good or evil.
But, I thought in my mind, Hindley, with apparently the stronger head, has shown
himself sadly the worse and the weaker man.
When his ship struck, the captain abandoned his post; and the crew, instead of trying
to save her, rushed into riot and confusion, leaving no hope for their
luckless vessel.
Linton, on the contrary, displayed the true courage of a loyal and faithful soul: he
trusted God; and God comforted him.
One hoped, and the other despaired: they chose their own lots, and were righteously
doomed to endure them.
But you'll not want to hear my moralising, Mr. Lockwood; you'll judge, as well as I
can, all these things: at least, you'll think you will, and that's the same.
The end of Earnshaw was what might have been expected; it followed fast on his
sister's: there were scarcely six months between them.
We, at the Grange, never got a very succinct account of his state preceding it;
all that I did learn was on occasion of going to aid in the preparations for the
funeral.
Mr. Kenneth came to announce the event to my master.
'Well, Nelly,' said he, riding into the yard one morning, too early not to alarm me
with an instant presentiment of bad news, 'it's yours and my turn to go into mourning
at present.
Who's given us the slip now, do you think?' 'Who?'
I asked in a flurry. 'Why, guess!' he returned, dismounting, and
slinging his bridle on a hook by the door.
'And nip up the corner of your apron: I'm certain you'll need it.'
'Not Mr. Heathcliff, surely?' I exclaimed.
'What! would you have tears for him?' said the doctor.
'No, Heathcliff's a tough young fellow: he looks blooming to-day.
I've just seen him.
He's rapidly regaining flesh since he lost his better half.'
'Who is it, then, Mr. Kenneth?' I repeated impatiently.
'Hindley Earnshaw!
Your old friend Hindley,' he replied, 'and my wicked gossip: though he's been too wild
for me this long while. There!
I said we should draw water.
But cheer up! He died true to his character: drunk as a
lord. Poor lad!
I'm sorry, too.
One can't help missing an old companion: though he had the worst tricks with him
that ever man imagined, and has done me many a rascally turn.
He's barely twenty-seven, it seems; that's your own age: who would have thought you
were born in one year?'
I confess this blow was greater to me than the shock of Mrs. Linton's death: ancient
associations lingered round my heart; I sat down in the porch and wept as for a blood
relation, desiring Mr. Kenneth to get
another servant to introduce him to the master.
I could not hinder myself from pondering on the question--'Had he had fair play?'
Whatever I did, that idea would bother me: it was so tiresomely pertinacious that I
resolved on requesting leave to go to Wuthering Heights, and assist in the last
duties to the dead.
Mr. Linton was extremely reluctant to consent, but I pleaded eloquently for the
friendless condition in which he lay; and I said my old master and foster-brother had a
claim on my services as strong as his own.
Besides, I reminded him that the child Hareton was his wife's nephew, and, in the
absence of nearer kin, he ought to act as its guardian; and he ought to and must
inquire how the property was left, and look over the concerns of his brother-in-law.
He was unfit for attending to such matters then, but he bid me speak to his lawyer;
and at length permitted me to go.
His lawyer had been Earnshaw's also: I called at the village, and asked him to
accompany me.
He shook his head, and advised that Heathcliff should be let alone; affirming,
if the truth were known, Hareton would be found little else than a beggar.
'His father died in debt,' he said; 'the whole property is mortgaged, and the sole
chance for the natural heir is to allow him an opportunity of creating some interest in
the creditor's heart, that he may be inclined to deal leniently towards him.'
When I reached the Heights, I explained that I had come to see everything carried
on decently; and Joseph, who appeared in sufficient distress, expressed satisfaction
at my presence.
Mr. Heathcliff said he did not perceive that I was wanted; but I might stay and
order the arrangements for the funeral, if I chose.
'Correctly,' he remarked, 'that fool's body should be buried at the cross-roads,
without ceremony of any kind.
I happened to leave him ten minutes yesterday afternoon, and in that interval
he fastened the two doors of the house against me, and he has spent the night in
drinking himself to death deliberately!
We broke in this morning, for we heard him sporting like a horse; and there he was,
laid over the settle: flaying and scalping would not have wakened him.
I sent for Kenneth, and he came; but not till the beast had changed into carrion: he
was both dead and cold, and stark; and so you'll allow it was useless making more
stir about him!'
The old servant confirmed this statement, but muttered:
'I'd rayther he'd goan hisseln for t' doctor!
I sud ha,' taen tent o' t' maister better nor him--and he warn't deead when I left,
naught o' t' soart!' I insisted on the funeral being
respectable.
Mr. Heathcliff said I might have my own way there too: only, he desired me to remember
that the money for the whole affair came out of his pocket.
He maintained a hard, careless deportment, indicative of neither joy nor sorrow: if
anything, it expressed a flinty gratification at a piece of difficult work
successfully executed.
I observed once, indeed, something like exultation in his aspect: it was just when
the people were bearing the coffin from the house.
He had the hypocrisy to represent a mourner: and previous to following with
Hareton, he lifted the unfortunate child on to the table and muttered, with peculiar
gusto, 'Now, my bonny lad, you are mine!
And we'll see if one tree won't grow as crooked as another, with the same wind to
twist it!'
The unsuspecting thing was pleased at this speech: he played with Heathcliff's
whiskers, and stroked his cheek; but I divined its meaning, and observed tartly,
'That boy must go back with me to Thrushcross Grange, sir.
There is nothing in the world less yours than he is!'
'Does Linton say so?' he demanded.
'Of course--he has ordered me to take him,' I replied.
'Well,' said the scoundrel, 'we'll not argue the subject now: but I have a fancy
to try my hand at rearing a young one; so intimate to your master that I must supply
the place of this with my own, if he attempt to remove it.
I don't engage to let Hareton go undisputed; but I'll be pretty sure to make
the other come!
Remember to tell him.' This hint was enough to bind our hands.
I repeated its substance on my return; and Edgar Linton, little interested at the
commencement, spoke no more of interfering.
I'm not aware that he could have done it to any purpose, had he been ever so willing.
The guest was now the master of Wuthering Heights: he held firm possession, and
proved to the attorney--who, in his turn, proved it to Mr. Linton--that Earnshaw had
mortgaged every yard of land he owned for
cash to supply his mania for gaming; and he, Heathcliff, was the mortgagee.
In that manner Hareton, who should now be the first gentleman in the neighbourhood,
was reduced to a state of complete dependence on his father's inveterate
enemy; and lives in his own house as a
servant, deprived of the advantage of wages: quite unable to right himself,
because of his friendlessness, and his ignorance that he has been wronged.
>
CHAPTER XVIII
The twelve years, continued Mrs. Dean, following that dismal period were the
happiest of my life: my greatest troubles in their passage rose from our little
lady's trifling illnesses, which she had to
experience in common with all children, rich and poor.
For the rest, after the first six months, she grew like a larch, and could walk and
talk too, in her own way, before the heath blossomed a second time over Mrs. Linton's
dust.
She was the most winning thing that ever brought sunshine into a desolate house: a
real beauty in face, with the Earnshaws' handsome dark eyes, but the Lintons' fair
skin and small features, and yellow curling hair.
Her spirit was high, though not rough, and qualified by a heart sensitive and lively
to excess in its affections.
That capacity for intense attachments reminded me of her mother: still she did
not resemble her: for she could be soft and mild as a dove, and she had a gentle voice
and pensive expression: her anger was never
furious; her love never fierce: it was deep and tender.
However, it must be acknowledged, she had faults to foil her gifts.
A propensity to be saucy was one; and a perverse will, that indulged children
invariably acquire, whether they be good tempered or cross.
If a servant chanced to vex her, it was always--'I shall tell papa!'
And if he reproved her, even by a look, you would have thought it a heart-breaking
business: I don't believe he ever did speak a harsh word to her.
He took her education entirely on himself, and made it an amusement.
Fortunately, curiosity and a quick intellect made her an apt scholar: she
learned rapidly and eagerly, and did honour to his teaching.
Till she reached the age of thirteen she had not once been beyond the range of the
park by herself.
Mr. Linton would take her with him a mile or so outside, on rare occasions; but he
trusted her to no one else.
Gimmerton was an unsubstantial name in her ears; the chapel, the only building she had
approached or entered, except her own home.
Wuthering Heights and Mr. Heathcliff did not exist for her: she was a perfect
recluse; and, apparently, perfectly contented.
Sometimes, indeed, while surveying the country from her nursery window, she would
observe-- 'Ellen, how long will it be before I can
walk to the top of those hills?
I wonder what lies on the other side--is it the sea?'
'No, Miss Cathy,' I would answer; 'it is hills again, just like these.'
'And what are those golden rocks like when you stand under them?' she once asked.
The abrupt descent of Penistone Crags particularly attracted her notice;
especially when the setting sun shone on it and the topmost heights, and the whole
extent of landscape besides lay in shadow.
I explained that they were bare masses of stone, with hardly enough earth in their
clefts to nourish a stunted tree. 'And why are they bright so long after it
is evening here?' she pursued.
'Because they are a great deal higher up than we are,' replied I; 'you could not
climb them, they are too high and steep.
In winter the frost is always there before it comes to us; and deep into summer I have
found snow under that black hollow on the north-east side!'
'Oh, you have been on them!' she cried gleefully.
'Then I can go, too, when I am a woman. Has papa been, Ellen?'
'Papa would tell you, Miss,' I answered, hastily, 'that they are not worth the
trouble of visiting.
The moors, where you ramble with him, are much nicer; and Thrushcross Park is the
finest place in the world.' 'But I know the park, and I don't know
those,' she murmured to herself.
'And I should delight to look round me from the brow of that tallest point: my little
pony Minny shall take me some time.'
One of the maids mentioning the Fairy Cave, quite turned her head with a desire to
fulfil this project: she teased Mr. Linton about it; and he promised she should have
the journey when she got older.
But Miss Catherine measured her age by months, and, 'Now, am I old enough to go to
Penistone Crags?' was the constant question in her mouth.
The road thither wound close by Wuthering Heights.
Edgar had not the heart to pass it; so she received as constantly the answer, 'Not
yet, love: not yet.'
I said Mrs. Heathcliff lived above a dozen years after quitting her husband.
Her family were of a delicate constitution: she and Edgar both lacked the ruddy health
that you will generally meet in these parts.
What her last illness was, I am not certain: I conjecture, they died of the
same thing, a kind of fever, slow at its commencement, but incurable, and rapidly
consuming life towards the close.
She wrote to inform her brother of the probable conclusion of a four-months'
indisposition under which she had suffered, and entreated him to come to her, if
possible; for she had much to settle, and
she wished to bid him adieu, and deliver Linton safely into his hands.
Her hope was that Linton might be left with him, as he had been with her: his father,
she would fain convince herself, had no desire to assume the burden of his
maintenance or education.
My master hesitated not a moment in complying with her request: reluctant as he
was to leave home at ordinary calls, he flew to answer this; commanding Catherine
to my peculiar vigilance, in his absence,
with reiterated orders that she must not wander out of the park, even under my
escort he did not calculate on her going unaccompanied.
He was away three weeks.
The first day or two my charge sat in a corner of the library, too sad for either
reading or playing: in that quiet state she caused me little trouble; but it was
succeeded by an interval of impatient,
fretful weariness; and being too busy, and too old then, to run up and down amusing
her, I hit on a method by which she might entertain herself.
I used to send her on her travels round the grounds--now on foot, and now on a pony;
indulging her with a patient audience of all her real and imaginary adventures when
she returned.
The summer shone in full prime; and she took such a taste for this solitary
rambling that she often contrived to remain out from breakfast till tea; and then the
evenings were spent in recounting her fanciful tales.
I did not fear her breaking bounds; because the gates were generally locked, and I
thought she would scarcely venture forth alone, if they had stood wide open.
Unluckily, my confidence proved misplaced.
Catherine came to me, one morning, at eight o'clock, and said she was that day an
Arabian merchant, going to cross the Desert with his caravan; and I must give her
plenty of provision for herself and beasts:
a horse, and three camels, personated by a large hound and a couple of pointers.
I got together good store of dainties, and slung them in a basket on one side of the
saddle; and she sprang up as gay as a fairy, sheltered by her wide-brimmed hat
and gauze veil from the July sun, and
trotted off with a merry laugh, mocking my cautious counsel to avoid galloping, and
come back early. The naughty thing never made her appearance
at tea.
One traveller, the hound, being an old dog and fond of its ease, returned; but neither
Cathy, nor the pony, nor the two pointers were visible in any direction: I despatched
emissaries down this path, and that path,
and at last went wandering in search of her myself.
There was a labourer working at a fence round a plantation, on the borders of the
grounds.
I inquired of him if he had seen our young lady.
'I saw her at morn,' he replied: 'she would have me to cut her a hazel switch, and then
she leapt her Galloway over the hedge yonder, where it is lowest, and galloped
out of sight.'
You may guess how I felt at hearing this news.
It struck me directly she must have started for Penistone Crags.
'What will become of her?'
I ejaculated, pushing through a gap which the man was repairing, and making straight
to the high-road.
I walked as if for a wager, mile after mile, till a turn brought me in view of the
Heights; but no Catherine could I detect, far or near.
The Crags lie about a mile and a half beyond Mr. Heathcliff's place, and that is
four from the Grange, so I began to fear night would fall ere I could reach them.
'And what if she should have slipped in clambering among them,' I reflected, 'and
been killed, or broken some of her bones?'
My suspense was truly painful; and, at first, it gave me delightful relief to
observe, in hurrying by the farmhouse, Charlie, the fiercest of the pointers,
lying under a window, with swelled head and bleeding ear.
I opened the wicket and ran to the door, knocking vehemently for admittance.
A woman whom I knew, and who formerly lived at Gimmerton, answered: she had been
servant there since the death of Mr. Earnshaw.
'Ah,' said she, 'you are come a-seeking your little mistress!
Don't be frightened. She's here safe: but I'm glad it isn't the
master.'
'He is not at home then, is he?' I panted, quite breathless with quick
walking and alarm.
'No, no,' she replied: 'both he and Joseph are off, and I think they won't return this
hour or more. Step in and rest you a bit.'
I entered, and beheld my stray lamb seated on the hearth, rocking herself in a little
chair that had been her mother's when a child.
Her hat was hung against the wall, and she seemed perfectly at home, laughing and
chattering, in the best spirits imaginable, to Hareton--now a great, strong lad of
eighteen--who stared at her with
considerable curiosity and astonishment: comprehending precious little of the fluent
succession of remarks and questions which her tongue never ceased pouring forth.
'Very well, Miss!'
I exclaimed, concealing my joy under an angry countenance.
'This is your last ride, till papa comes back.
I'll not trust you over the threshold again, you naughty, naughty girl!'
'Aha, Ellen!' she cried, gaily, jumping up and running to my side.
'I shall have a pretty story to tell to- night; and so you've found me out.
Have you ever been here in your life before?'
'Put that hat on, and home at once,' said I.
'I'm dreadfully grieved at you, Miss Cathy: you've done extremely wrong!
It's no use pouting and crying: that won't repay the trouble I've had, scouring the
country after you. To think how Mr. Linton charged me to keep
you in; and you stealing off so!
It shows you are a cunning little fox, and nobody will put faith in you any more.'
'What have I done?' sobbed she, instantly checked.
'Papa charged me nothing: he'll not scold me, Ellen--he's never cross, like you!'
'Come, come!' I repeated.
'I'll tie the riband.
Now, let us have no petulance. Oh, for shame!
You thirteen years old, and such a baby!'
This exclamation was caused by her pushing the hat from her head, and retreating to
the chimney out of my reach. 'Nay,' said the servant, 'don't be hard on
the bonny lass, Mrs. Dean.
We made her stop: she'd fain have ridden forwards, afeard you should be uneasy.
Hareton offered to go with her, and I thought he should: it's a wild road over
the hills.'
Hareton, during the discussion, stood with his hands in his pockets, too awkward to
speak; though he looked as if he did not relish my intrusion.
'How long am I to wait?'
I continued, disregarding the woman's interference.
'It will be dark in ten minutes. Where is the pony, Miss Cathy?
And where is Phoenix?
I shall leave you, unless you be quick; so please yourself.'
'The pony is in the yard,' she replied, 'and Phoenix is shut in there.
He's bitten--and so is Charlie.
I was going to tell you all about it; but you are in a bad temper, and don't deserve
to hear.'
I picked up her hat, and approached to reinstate it; but perceiving that the
people of the house took her part, she commenced capering round the room; and on
my giving chase, ran like a mouse over and
under and behind the furniture, rendering it ridiculous for me to pursue.
Hareton and the woman laughed, and she joined them, and waxed more impertinent
still; till I cried, in great irritation,-- 'Well, Miss Cathy, if you were aware whose
house this is you'd be glad enough to get out.'
'It's your father's, isn't it?' said she, turning to Hareton.
'Nay,' he replied, looking down, and blushing bashfully.
He could not stand a steady gaze from her eyes, though they were just his own.
'Whose then--your master's?' she asked.
He coloured deeper, with a different feeling, muttered an oath, and turned away.
'Who is his master?' continued the tiresome girl, appealing to me.
'He talked about "our house," and "our folk."
I thought he had been the owner's son. And he never said Miss: he should have
done, shouldn't he, if he's a servant?'
Hareton grew black as a thunder-cloud at this childish speech.
I silently shook my questioner, and at last succeeded in equipping her for departure.
'Now, get my horse,' she said, addressing her unknown kinsman as she would one of the
stable-boys at the Grange. 'And you may come with me.
I want to see where the goblin-hunter rises in the marsh, and to hear about the
fairishes, as you call them: but make haste!
What's the matter?
Get my horse, I say.' 'I'll see thee damned before I be thy
servant!' growled the lad. 'You'll see me what!' asked Catherine in
surprise.
'Damned--thou saucy witch!' he replied. 'There, Miss Cathy! you see you have got
into pretty company,' I interposed. 'Nice words to be used to a young lady!
Pray don't begin to dispute with him.
Come, let us seek for Minny ourselves, and begone.'
'But, Ellen,' cried she, staring fixed in astonishment, 'how dare he speak so to me?
Mustn't he be made to do as I ask him?
You wicked creature, I shall tell papa what you said.--Now, then!'
Hareton did not appear to feel this threat; so the tears sprang into her eyes with
indignation.
'You bring the pony,' she exclaimed, turning to the woman, 'and let my dog free
this moment!' 'Softly, Miss,' answered she addressed;
'you'll lose nothing by being civil.
Though Mr. Hareton, there, be not the master's son, he's your cousin: and I was
never hired to serve you.' 'He my cousin!' cried Cathy, with a
scornful laugh.
'Yes, indeed,' responded her reprover. 'Oh, Ellen! don't let them say such
things,' she pursued in great trouble. 'Papa is gone to fetch my cousin from
London: my cousin is a gentleman's son.
That my--' she stopped, and wept outright; upset at the bare notion of relationship
with such a clown. 'Hush, hush!'
I whispered; 'people can have many cousins and of all sorts, Miss Cathy, without being
any the worse for it; only they needn't keep their company, if they be disagreeable
and bad.'
'He's not--he's not my cousin, Ellen!' she went on, gathering fresh grief from
reflection, and flinging herself into my arms for refuge from the idea.
I was much vexed at her and the servant for their mutual revelations; having no doubt
of Linton's approaching arrival, communicated by the former, being reported
to Mr. Heathcliff; and feeling as confident
that Catherine's first thought on her father's return would be to seek an
explanation of the latter's assertion concerning her rude-bred kindred.
Hareton, recovering from his disgust at being taken for a servant, seemed moved by
her distress; and, having fetched the pony round to the door, he took, to propitiate
her, a fine crooked-legged terrier whelp
from the kennel, and putting it into her hand, bid her whist! for he meant nought.
Pausing in her lamentations, she surveyed him with a glance of awe and horror, then
burst forth anew.
I could scarcely refrain from smiling at this antipathy to the poor fellow; who was
a well-made, athletic youth, good-looking in features, and stout and healthy, but
attired in garments befitting his daily
occupations of working on the farm and lounging among the moors after rabbits and
game.
Still, I thought I could detect in his physiognomy a mind owning better qualities
than his father ever possessed.
Good things lost amid a wilderness of weeds, to be sure, whose rankness far over-
topped their neglected growth; yet, notwithstanding, evidence of a wealthy
soil, that might yield luxuriant crops under other and favourable circumstances.
Mr. Heathcliff, I believe, had not treated him physically ill; thanks to his fearless
nature, which offered no temptation to that course of oppression: he had none of the
timid susceptibility that would have given
zest to ill-treatment, in Heathcliff's judgment.
He appeared to have bent his malevolence on making him a brute: he was never taught to
read or write; never rebuked for any bad habit which did not annoy his keeper; never
led a single step towards virtue, or guarded by a single precept against vice.
And from what I heard, Joseph contributed much to his deterioration, by a narrow-
minded partiality which prompted him to flatter and pet him, as a boy, because he
was the head of the old family.
And as he had been in the habit of accusing Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, when
children, of putting the master past his patience, and compelling him to seek solace
in drink by what he termed their 'offald
ways,' so at present he laid the whole burden of Hareton's faults on the shoulders
of the usurper of his property. If the lad swore, he wouldn't correct him:
nor however culpably he behaved.
It gave Joseph satisfaction, apparently, to watch him go the worst lengths: he allowed
that the lad was ruined: that his soul was abandoned to perdition; but then he
reflected that Heathcliff must answer for it.
Hareton's blood would be required at his hands; and there lay immense consolation in
that thought.
Joseph had instilled into him a pride of name, and of his lineage; he would, had he
dared, have fostered hate between him and the present owner of the Heights: but his
dread of that owner amounted to
superstition; and he confined his feelings regarding him to muttered innuendoes and
private comminations.
I don't pretend to be intimately acquainted with the mode of living customary in those
days at Wuthering Heights: I only speak from hearsay; for I saw little.
The villagers affirmed Mr. Heathcliff was near, and a cruel hard landlord to his
tenants; but the house, inside, had regained its ancient aspect of comfort
under female management, and the scenes of
riot common in Hindley's time were not now enacted within its walls.
The master was too gloomy to seek companionship with any people, good or bad;
and he is yet.
This, however, is not making progress with my story.
Miss Cathy rejected the peace-offering of the terrier, and demanded her own dogs,
Charlie and Phoenix.
They came limping and hanging their heads; and we set out for home, sadly out of
sorts, every one of us.
I could not wring from my little lady how she had spent the day; except that, as I
supposed, the goal of her pilgrimage was Penistone Crags; and she arrived without
adventure to the gate of the farm-house,
when Hareton happened to issue forth, attended by some canine followers, who
attacked her train.
They had a smart battle, before their owners could separate them: that formed an
introduction.
Catherine told Hareton who she was, and where she was going; and asked him to show
her the way: finally, beguiling him to accompany her.
He opened the mysteries of the Fairy Cave, and twenty other queer places.
But, being in disgrace, I was not favoured with a description of the interesting
objects she saw.
I could gather, however, that her guide had been a favourite till she hurt his feelings
by addressing him as a servant; and Heathcliff's housekeeper hurt hers by
calling him her cousin.
Then the language he had held to her rankled in her heart; she who was always
'love,' and 'darling,' and 'queen,' and 'angel,' with everybody at the Grange, to
be insulted so shockingly by a stranger!
She did not comprehend it; and hard work I had to obtain a promise that she would not
lay the grievance before her father.
I explained how he objected to the whole household at the Heights, and how sorry he
would be to find she had been there; but I insisted most on the fact, that if she
revealed my negligence of his orders, he
would perhaps be so angry that I should have to leave; and Cathy couldn't bear that
prospect: she pledged her word, and kept it for my sake.
After all, she was a sweet little girl.
>
CHAPTER XIX
A letter, edged with black, announced the day of my master's return.
Isabella was dead; and he wrote to bid me get mourning for his daughter, and arrange
a room, and other accommodations, for his youthful nephew.
Catherine ran wild with joy at the idea of welcoming her father back; and indulged
most sanguine anticipations of the innumerable excellencies of her 'real'
cousin.
The evening of their expected arrival came.
Since early morning she had been busy ordering her own small affairs; and now
attired in her new black frock--poor thing! her aunt's death impressed her with no
definite sorrow--she obliged me, by
constant worrying, to walk with her down through the grounds to meet them.
'Linton is just six months younger than I am,' she chattered, as we strolled
leisurely over the swells and hollows of mossy turf, under shadow of the trees.
'How delightful it will be to have him for a playfellow!
Aunt Isabella sent papa a beautiful lock of his hair; it was lighter than mine--more
flaxen, and quite as fine.
I have it carefully preserved in a little glass box; and I've often thought what a
pleasure it would be to see its owner. Oh! I am happy--and papa, dear, dear papa!
Come, Ellen, let us run! come, run.'
She ran, and returned and ran again, many times before my sober footsteps reached the
gate, and then she seated herself on the grassy bank beside the path, and tried to
wait patiently; but that was impossible: she couldn't be still a minute.
'How long they are!' she exclaimed. 'Ah, I see, some dust on the road--they are
coming!
No! When will they be here? May we not go a little way--half a mile,
Ellen, only just half a mile? Do say Yes: to that clump of birches at the
turn!'
I refused staunchly. At length her suspense was ended: the
travelling carriage rolled in sight.
Miss Cathy shrieked and stretched out her arms as soon as she caught her father's
face looking from the window.
He descended, nearly as eager as herself; and a considerable interval elapsed ere
they had a thought to spare for any but themselves.
While they exchanged caresses I took a peep in to see after Linton.
He was asleep in a corner, wrapped in a warm, fur-lined cloak, as if it had been
winter.
A pale, delicate, effeminate boy, who might have been taken for my master's younger
brother, so strong was the resemblance: but there was a sickly peevishness in his
aspect that Edgar Linton never had.
The latter saw me looking; and having shaken hands, advised me to close the door,
and leave him undisturbed; for the journey had fatigued him.
Cathy would fain have taken one glance, but her father told her to come, and they
walked together up the park, while I hastened before to prepare the servants.
'Now, darling,' said Mr. Linton, addressing his daughter, as they halted at the bottom
of the front steps: 'your cousin is not so strong or so merry as you are, and he has
lost his mother, remember, a very short
time since; therefore, don't expect him to play and run about with you directly.
And don't harass him much by talking: let him be quiet this evening, at least, will
you?'
'Yes, yes, papa,' answered Catherine: 'but I do want to see him; and he hasn't once
looked out.'
The carriage stopped; and the sleeper being roused, was lifted to the ground by his
uncle. 'This is your cousin Cathy, Linton,' he
said, putting their little hands together.
'She's fond of you already; and mind you don't grieve her by crying to-night.
Try to be cheerful now; the travelling is at an end, and you have nothing to do but
rest and amuse yourself as you please.'
'Let me go to bed, then,' answered the boy, shrinking from Catherine's salute; and he
put his fingers to remove incipient tears. 'Come, come, there's a good child,' I
whispered, leading him in.
'You'll make her weep too--see how sorry she is for you!'
I do not know whether it was sorrow for him, but his cousin put on as sad a
countenance as himself, and returned to her father.
All three entered, and mounted to the library, where tea was laid ready.
I proceeded to remove Linton's cap and mantle, and placed him on a chair by the
table; but he was no sooner seated than he began to cry afresh.
My master inquired what was the matter.
'I can't sit on a chair,' sobbed the boy. 'Go to the sofa, then, and Ellen shall
bring you some tea,' answered his uncle patiently.
He had been greatly tried, during the journey, I felt convinced, by his fretful
ailing charge. Linton slowly trailed himself off, and lay
down.
Cathy carried a footstool and her cup to his side.
At first she sat silent; but that could not last: she had resolved to make a pet of her
little cousin, as she would have him to be; and she commenced stroking his curls, and
kissing his cheek, and offering him tea in her saucer, like a baby.
This pleased him, for he was not much better: he dried his eyes, and lightened
into a faint smile.
'Oh, he'll do very well,' said the master to me, after watching them a minute.
'Very well, if we can keep him, Ellen.
The company of a child of his own age will instil new spirit into him soon, and by
wishing for strength he'll gain it.' 'Ay, if we can keep him!'
I mused to myself; and sore misgivings came over me that there was slight hope of that.
And then, I thought, how ever will that weakling live at Wuthering Heights?
Between his father and Hareton, what playmates and instructors they'll be.
Our doubts were presently decided--even earlier than I expected.
I had just taken the children 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 him.'
Edgar Linton was silent a minute; an expression of exceeding sorrow overcast his
features: he would have pitied the child on his own account; but, recalling Isabella's
hopes and fears, and anxious wishes for her
son, and her commendations of him to his care, he grieved bitterly at the prospect
of yielding him up, and searched in his heart how it might be avoided.
No plan offered itself: the very exhibition of any desire to keep him would have
rendered the claimant more peremptory: there was nothing left but to resign him.
However, he was not going to rouse him from his sleep.
'Tell Mr. Heathcliff,' he answered calmly, 'that his son shall come to Wuthering
Heights to-morrow.
He is in bed, and too tired to go the distance now.
You may also tell him that the mother of Linton desired him to remain under my
guardianship; and, at present, his health is very precarious.'
'Noa!' said Joseph, giving a thud with his prop on the floor, and assuming an
authoritative air. 'Noa! that means naught.
Hathecliff maks noa 'count o' t' mother, nor ye norther; but he'll heu' his lad; und
I mun tak' him--soa now ye knaw!' 'You shall not to-night!' answered Linton
decisively.
'Walk down stairs at once, and repeat to your master what I have said.
Ellen, show him down. Go--'
And, aiding the indignant elder with a lift by the arm, he rid the room of him and
closed the door. 'Varrah weell!' shouted Joseph, as he
slowly drew off.
'To-morn, he's come hisseln, and thrust him out, if ye darr!'
>
CHAPTER XX
To obviate the danger of this threat being fulfilled, Mr. Linton commissioned me to
take the boy home early, on Catherine's pony; and, said he--'As we shall now have
no influence over his destiny, good or bad,
you must say nothing of where he is gone to my daughter: she cannot associate with him
hereafter, and it is better for her to remain in ignorance of his proximity; lest
she should be restless, and anxious to visit the Heights.
Merely tell her his father sent for him suddenly, and he has been obliged to leave
us.'
Linton was very reluctant to be roused from his bed at five o'clock, and astonished to
be informed that he must prepare for further travelling; but I softened off the
matter by stating that he was going to
spend some time with his father, Mr. Heathcliff, who wished to see him so much,
he did not like to defer the pleasure till he should recover from his late journey.
'My father!' he cried, in strange perplexity.
'Mamma never told me I had a father. Where does he live?
I'd rather stay with uncle.'
'He lives a little distance from the Grange,' I replied; 'just beyond those
hills: not so far, but you may walk over here when you get hearty.
And you should be glad to go home, and to see him.
You must try to love him, as you did your mother, and then he will love you.'
'But why have I not heard of him before?' asked Linton.
'Why didn't mamma and he live together, as other people do?'
'He had business to keep him in the north,' I answered, 'and your mother's health
required her to reside in the south.' 'And why didn't mamma speak to me about
him?' persevered the child.
'She often talked of uncle, and I learnt to love him long ago.
How am I to love papa? I don't know him.'
'Oh, all children love their parents,' I said.
'Your mother, perhaps, thought you would want to be with him if she mentioned him
often to you.
Let us make haste. An early ride on such a beautiful morning
is much preferable to an hour's more sleep.'
'Is she to go with us,' he demanded, 'the little girl I saw yesterday?'
'Not now,' replied I. 'Is uncle?' he continued.
'No, I shall be your companion there,' I said.
Linton sank back on his pillow and fell into a brown study.
'I won't go without uncle,' he cried at length: 'I can't tell where you mean to
take me.'
I attempted to persuade him of the naughtiness of showing reluctance to meet
his father; still he obstinately resisted any progress towards dressing, and I had to
call for my master's assistance in coaxing him out of bed.
The poor thing was finally got off, with several delusive assurances that his
absence should be short: that Mr. Edgar and Cathy would visit him, and other promises,
equally ill-founded, which I invented and reiterated at intervals throughout the way.
The pure heather-scented air, the bright sunshine, and the gentle canter of Minny,
relieved his despondency after a while.
He began to put questions concerning his new home, and its inhabitants, with greater
interest and liveliness.
'Is Wuthering Heights as pleasant a place as Thrushcross Grange?' he inquired,
turning to take a last glance into the valley, whence a light mist mounted and
formed a fleecy cloud on the skirts of the blue.
'It is not so buried in trees,' I replied, 'and it is not quite so large, but you can
see the country beautifully all round; and the air is healthier for you--fresher and
drier.
You will, perhaps, think the building old and dark at first; though it is a
respectable house: the next best in the neighbourhood.
And you will have such nice rambles on the moors.
Hareton Earnshaw--that is, Miss Cathy's other cousin, and so yours in a manner--
will show you all the sweetest spots; and you can bring a book in fine weather, and
make a green hollow your study; and, now
and then, your uncle may join you in a walk: he does, frequently, walk out on the
hills.' 'And what is my father like?' he asked.
'Is he as young and handsome as uncle?'
'He's as young,' said I; 'but he has black hair and eyes, and looks sterner; and he is
taller and bigger altogether.
He'll not seem to you so gentle and kind at first, perhaps, because it is not his way:
still, mind you, be frank and cordial with him; and naturally he'll be fonder of you
than any uncle, for you are his own.'
'Black hair and eyes!' mused Linton. 'I can't fancy him.
Then I am not like him, am I?'
'Not much,' I answered: not a morsel, I thought, surveying with regret the white
complexion and slim frame of my companion, and his large languid eyes--his mother's
eyes, save that, unless a morbid touchiness
kindled them a moment, they had not a vestige of her sparkling spirit.
'How strange that he should never come to see mamma and me!' he murmured.
'Has he ever seen me?
If he has, I must have been a baby. I remember not a single thing about him!'
'Why, Master Linton,' said I, 'three hundred miles is a great distance; and ten
years seem very different in length to a grown-up person compared with what they do
to you.
It is probable Mr. Heathcliff proposed going from summer to summer, but never
found a convenient opportunity; and now it is too late.
Don't trouble him with questions on the subject: it will disturb him, for no good.'
The boy was fully occupied with his own cogitations for the remainder of the ride,
till we halted before the farmhouse garden- gate.
I watched to catch his impressions in his countenance.
He surveyed the carved front and low-browed lattices, the straggling gooseberry-bushes
and crooked firs, with solemn intentness, and then shook his head: his private
feelings entirely disapproved of the exterior of his new abode.
But he had sense to postpone complaining: there might be compensation within.
Before he dismounted, I went and opened the door.
It was half-past six; the family had just finished breakfast: the servant was
clearing and wiping down the table.
Joseph stood by his master's chair telling some tale concerning a lame horse; and
Hareton was preparing for the hayfield. 'Hallo, Nelly!' said Mr. Heathcliff, when
he saw me.
'I feared I should have to come down and fetch my property myself.
You've brought it, have you? Let us see what we can make of it.'
He got up and strode to the door: Hareton and Joseph followed in gaping curiosity.
Poor Linton ran a frightened eye over the faces of the three.
'Sure-ly,' said Joseph after a grave inspection, 'he's swopped wi' ye, Maister,
an' yon's his lass!'
Heathcliff, having stared his son into an ague of confusion, uttered a scornful
laugh. 'God! what a beauty! what a lovely,
charming thing!' he exclaimed.
'Hav'n't they reared it on snails and sour milk, Nelly?
Oh, damn my soul! but that's worse than I expected--and the devil knows I was not
sanguine!'
I bid the trembling and bewildered child get down, and enter.
He did not thoroughly comprehend the meaning of his father's speech, or whether
it were intended for him: indeed, he was not yet certain that the grim, sneering
stranger was his father.
But he clung to me with growing trepidation; and on Mr. Heathcliff's taking
a seat and bidding him 'come hither' he hid his face on my shoulder and wept.
'Tut, tut!' said Heathcliff, stretching out a hand and dragging him roughly between his
knees, and then holding up his head by the chin.
'None of that nonsense!
We're not going to hurt thee, Linton--isn't that thy name?
Thou art thy mother's child, entirely! Where is my share in thee, puling chicken?'
He took off the boy's cap and pushed back his thick flaxen curls, felt his slender
arms and his small fingers; during which examination Linton ceased crying, and
lifted his great blue eyes to inspect the inspector.
'Do you know me?' asked Heathcliff, having satisfied himself that the limbs were all
equally frail and feeble.
'No,' said Linton, with a gaze of vacant fear.
'You've heard of me, I daresay?' 'No,' he replied again.
'No! What a shame of your mother, never to waken your filial regard for me!
You are my son, then, I'll tell you; and your mother was a wicked slut to leave you
in ignorance of the sort of father you possessed.
Now, don't wince, and colour up!
Though it is something to see you have not white blood.
Be a good lad; and I'll do for you. Nelly, if you be tired you may sit down; if
not, get home again.
I guess you'll report what you hear and see to the cipher at the Grange; and this thing
won't be settled while you linger about it.'
'Well,' replied I, 'I hope you'll be kind to the boy, Mr. Heathcliff, or you'll not
keep him long; and he's all you have akin in the wide world, that you will ever know-
-remember.'
'I'll be very kind to him, you needn't fear,' he said, laughing.
'Only nobody else must be kind to him: I'm jealous of monopolising his affection.
And, to begin my kindness, Joseph, bring the lad some breakfast.
Hareton, you infernal calf, begone to your work.
Yes, Nell,' he added, when they had departed, 'my son is prospective owner of
your place, and I should not wish him to die till I was certain of being his
successor.
Besides, he's mine, and I want the triumph of seeing my descendant fairly
lord of their estates; my child hiring their children to till their fathers' lands
for wages.
That is the sole consideration which can make me endure the whelp: I despise him for
himself, and hate him for the memories he revives!
But that consideration is sufficient: he's as safe with me, and shall be tended as
carefully as your master tends his own.
I have a room 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 milk-porridge, and
placed it before Linton: who stirred round the homely mess with a look of aversion,
and affirmed he could not eat it.
I saw the old man-servant shared largely in his master's scorn of the child; though he
was compelled to retain the sentiment in his heart, because Heathcliff plainly meant
his underlings to hold him in honour.
'Cannot ate it?' repeated he, peering in Linton's face, and subduing his voice to a
whisper, for fear of being overheard.
'But Maister Hareton nivir ate naught else, when he wer a little 'un; and what wer
gooid enough for him's gooid enough for ye, I's rayther think!'
'I sha'n't eat it!' answered Linton, snappishly.
'Take it away.' Joseph snatched up the food indignantly,
and brought it to us.
'Is there aught ails th' victuals?' he asked, thrusting the tray under
Heathcliff's nose. 'What should ail them?' he said.
'Wah!' answered Joseph, 'yon dainty chap says he cannut ate 'em.
But I guess it's raight!
His mother wer just soa--we wer a'most too mucky to sow t' corn for makking her
breead.' 'Don't mention his mother to me,' said the
master, angrily.
'Get him something that he can eat, that's all.
What is his usual food, Nelly?'
I suggested boiled milk or tea; and the housekeeper received instructions to
prepare some. Come, I reflected, his father's selfishness
may contribute to his comfort.
He perceives his delicate constitution, and the necessity of treating him tolerably.
I'll console Mr. Edgar by acquainting him with the turn Heathcliff's humour has
taken.
Having no excuse for lingering longer, I slipped out, while Linton was engaged in
timidly rebuffing the advances of a friendly sheep-dog.
But he was too much on the alert to be cheated: as I closed the door, I heard a
cry, and a frantic repetition of the words- -
'Don't leave me!
I'll not stay here! I'll not stay here!'
Then the latch was raised and fell: they did not suffer him to come forth.
I mounted Minny, and urged her to a trot; and so my brief guardianship ended.
>
CHAPTER XXI
We had sad work with little Cathy that day: she rose in high glee, eager to join her
cousin, and such passionate tears and lamentations followed the news of his
departure that Edgar himself was obliged to
soothe her, by affirming he should come back soon: he added, however, 'if I can get
him'; and there were no hopes of that.
This promise poorly pacified her; but time was more potent; and though still at
intervals she inquired of her father when Linton would return, before she did see him
again his features had waxed so dim in her memory that she did not recognise him.
When I chanced to encounter the housekeeper of Wuthering Heights, in paying business
visits to Gimmerton, I used to ask how the young master got on; for he lived almost as
secluded as Catherine herself, and was never to be seen.
I could gather from her that he continued in weak health, and was a tiresome inmate.
She said Mr. Heathcliff seemed to dislike him ever longer and worse, though he took
some trouble to conceal it: he had an antipathy to the sound of his voice, and
could not do at all with his sitting in the same room with him many minutes together.
There seldom passed much talk between them: Linton learnt his lessons and spent his
evenings in a small apartment they called the parlour: or else lay in bed all day:
for he was constantly getting coughs, and colds, and aches, and pains of some sort.
'And I never know such a fainthearted creature,' added the woman; 'nor one so
careful of hisseln.
He will go on, if I leave the window open a bit late in the evening.
Oh! it's killing, a breath of night air!
And he must have a fire in the middle of summer; and Joseph's bacca-pipe is poison;
and he must always have sweets and dainties, and always milk, milk for ever--
heeding naught how the rest of us are
pinched in winter; and there he'll sit, wrapped in his furred cloak in his chair by
the fire, with some toast and water or other slop on the hob to sip at; and if
Hareton, for pity, comes to amuse him--
Hareton is not bad-natured, though he's rough--they're sure to part, one swearing
and the other crying.
I believe the master would relish Earnshaw's thrashing him to a mummy, if he
were not his son; and I'm certain he would be fit to turn him out of doors, if he knew
half the nursing he gives hisseln.
But then he won't go into danger of temptation: he never enters the parlour,
and should Linton show those ways in the house where he is, he sends him 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 birds.'
But there were so many hillocks and banks to climb and pass, that, at length, I began
to be weary, and told her we must halt, and retrace our steps.
I shouted to her, as she had outstripped me a long way; she either did not hear or did
not regard, for she still sprang on, and I was compelled to follow.
Finally, she dived into a hollow; and before I came in sight of her again, she
was two miles nearer Wuthering Heights than her own home; and I beheld a couple of
persons arrest her, one of whom I felt convinced was Mr. Heathcliff himself.
Cathy had been caught in the fact of plundering, or, at least, hunting out the
nests of the grouse.
The Heights were Heathcliff's land, and he was reproving the poacher.
'I've neither taken any nor found any,' she said, as I toiled to them, expanding her
hands in corroboration of the statement.
'I didn't mean to take them; but papa told me there were quantities up here, and I
wished to see the eggs.'
Heathcliff glanced at me with an ill- meaning smile, expressing his acquaintance
with the party, and, consequently, his malevolence towards it, and demanded who
'papa' was?
'Mr. Linton of Thrushcross Grange,' she replied.
'I thought you did not know me, or you wouldn't have spoken in that way.'
'You suppose papa is highly esteemed and respected, then?' he said, sarcastically.
'And what are you?' inquired Catherine, gazing curiously on the speaker.
'That man I've seen before.
Is he your son?'
She pointed to Hareton, the other individual, who had gained nothing but
increased bulk and strength by the addition of two years to his age: he seemed as
awkward and rough as ever.
'Miss Cathy,' I interrupted, 'it will be three hours instead of one that we are out,
presently. We really must go back.'
'No, that man is not my son,' answered Heathcliff, pushing me aside.
'But I have one, and you have seen him before too; and, though your nurse is in a
hurry, I think both you and she would be the better for a little rest.
Will you just turn this nab of heath, and walk into my house?
You'll get home earlier for the ease; and you shall receive a kind welcome.'
I whispered Catherine that she mustn't, on any account, accede to the proposal: it was
entirely out of the question. 'Why?' she asked, aloud.
'I'm tired of running, and the ground is dewy: I can't sit here.
Let us go, Ellen. Besides, he says I have seen his son.
He's mistaken, I think; but I guess where he lives: at the farmhouse I visited in
coming from Penistone' Crags. Don't you?'
'I do.
Come, Nelly, hold your tongue--it will be a treat for her to look in on us.
Hareton, get forwards with the lass. You shall walk with me, Nelly.'
'No, she's not going to any such place,' I cried, struggling to release my arm, which
he had seized: but she was almost at the door-stones already, scampering round the
brow at full speed.
Her appointed companion did not pretend to escort her: he shied off by the road-side,
and vanished. 'Mr. Heathcliff, it's very wrong,' I
continued: 'you know you mean no good.
And there she'll see Linton, and all will be told as soon as ever we return; and I
shall have the blame.'
'I want her to see Linton,' he answered; 'he's looking better these few days; it's
not often he's fit to be seen. And we'll soon persuade her to keep the
visit secret: where is the harm of it?'
'The harm of it is, that her father would hate me if he found I suffered her to enter
your house; and I am convinced you have a bad design in encouraging her to do so,' I
replied.
'My design is as honest as possible. I'll inform you of its whole scope,' he
said. 'That the two cousins may fall in love, and
get married.
I'm acting generously to your master: his young chit has no expectations, and should
she second my wishes she'll be provided for at once as joint successor with Linton.'
'If Linton died,' I answered, 'and his life is quite uncertain, Catherine would be the
heir.' 'No, she would not,' he said.
'There is no clause in the will to secure it so: his property would go to me; but, to
prevent disputes, I desire their union, and am resolved to bring it about.'
'And I'm resolved she shall never approach your house with me again,' I returned, as
we reached the gate, where Miss Cathy waited our coming.
Heathcliff bade me be quiet; and, preceding us up the path, hastened to open the door.
My young lady gave him several looks, as if she could not exactly make up her mind what
to think of him; but now he smiled when he met her eye, and softened his voice in
addressing her; and I was foolish enough to
imagine the memory of her mother might disarm him from desiring her injury.
Linton stood on the hearth.
He had been out walking in the fields, for his cap was on, and he was calling to
Joseph to bring him dry shoes. He had grown tall of his age, still wanting
some months of sixteen.
His features were pretty yet, and his eye and complexion brighter than I remembered
them, though with merely temporary lustre borrowed from the salubrious air and genial
sun.
'Now, who is that?' asked Mr. Heathcliff, turning to Cathy.
'Can you tell?' 'Your son?' she said, having doubtfully
surveyed, first one and then the other.
'Yes, yes,' answered he: 'but is this the only time you have beheld him?
Think! Ah! you have a short memory.
Linton, don't you recall your cousin, that you used to tease us so with wishing to
see?' 'What, Linton!' cried Cathy, kindling into
joyful surprise at the name.
'Is that little Linton? He's taller than I am!
Are you Linton?'
The youth stepped forward, and acknowledged himself: she kissed him fervently, and they
gazed with wonder at the change time had wrought in the appearance of each.
Catherine had reached her full height; her figure was both plump and slender, elastic
as steel, and her whole aspect sparkling with health and spirits.
Linton's looks and movements were very languid, and his form extremely slight; but
there was a grace in his manner that mitigated these defects, and rendered him
not unpleasing.
After exchanging numerous marks of fondness with him, his cousin went to Mr.
Heathcliff, who lingered by the door, dividing his attention between the objects
inside and those that lay without:
pretending, that is, to observe the latter, and really noting the former alone.
'And you are my uncle, then!' she cried, reaching up to salute him.
'I thought I liked you, though you were cross at first.
Why don't you visit at the Grange with Linton?
To live all these years such close neighbours, and never see us, is odd: what
have you done so for?' 'I visited it once or twice too often
before you were born,' he answered.
'There--damn it! If you have any kisses to spare, give them
to Linton: they are thrown away on me.'
'Naughty Ellen!' exclaimed Catherine, flying to attack me next with her lavish
caresses. 'Wicked Ellen! to try to hinder me from
entering.
But I'll take this walk every morning in future: may I, uncle? and sometimes bring
papa. Won't you be glad to see us?'
'Of course,' replied the uncle, with a hardly suppressed grimace, resulting from
his deep aversion to both the proposed visitors.
'But stay,' he continued, turning towards the young lady.
'Now I think of it, I'd better tell you.
Mr. Linton has a prejudice against me: we quarrelled at one time of our lives, with
unchristian ferocity; and, if you mention coming here to him, he'll put a veto on
your visits altogether.
Therefore, you must not mention it, unless you be careless of seeing your cousin
hereafter: you may come, if you will, but you must not mention it.'
'Why did you quarrel?' asked Catherine, considerably crestfallen.
'He thought me too poor to wed his sister,' answered Heathcliff, 'and was grieved that
I got her: his pride was hurt, and he'll never forgive it.'
'That's wrong!' said the young lady: 'some time I'll tell him so.
But Linton and I have no share in your quarrel.
I'll not come here, then; he shall come to the Grange.'
'It will be too far for me,' murmured her cousin: 'to walk four miles would kill me.
No, come here, Miss Catherine, now and then: not every morning, but once or twice
a week.' The father launched towards his son a
glance of bitter contempt.
'I am afraid, Nelly, I shall lose my labour,' he muttered to me.
'Miss Catherine, as the ninny calls her, will discover his value, and send him to
the devil.
Now, if it had been Hareton!--Do you know that, twenty times a day, I covet Hareton,
with all his degradation? I'd have loved the lad had he been some one
else.
But I think he's safe from her love. I'll pit him against that paltry creature,
unless it bestir itself briskly. We calculate it will scarcely last till it
is eighteen.
Oh, confound the vapid thing! He's absorbed in drying his feet, and never
looks at her.--Linton!' 'Yes, father,' answered the boy.
'Have you nothing to show your cousin anywhere about, not even a rabbit or a
weasel's nest?
Take her into the garden, before you change your shoes; and into the stable to see your
horse.'
'Wouldn't you rather sit here?' asked Linton, addressing Cathy in a tone which
expressed reluctance to move again.
'I don't know,' she replied, casting a longing look to the door, and evidently
eager to be active. He kept his seat, and shrank closer to the
fire.
Heathcliff rose, and went into the kitchen, and from thence to the yard, calling out
for Hareton. Hareton responded, and presently the two
re-entered.
The young man had been washing himself, as was visible by the glow on his cheeks and
his wetted hair.
'Oh, I'll ask you, uncle,' cried Miss Cathy, recollecting the housekeeper's
assertion. 'That is not my cousin, is he?'
'Yes,' he, replied, 'your mother's nephew.
Don't you like him!' Catherine looked queer.
'Is he not a handsome lad?' he continued.
The uncivil little thing stood on tiptoe, and whispered a sentence in Heathcliff's
ear.
He laughed; Hareton darkened: I perceived he was very sensitive to suspected slights,
and had obviously a dim notion of his inferiority.
But his master or guardian chased the frown by exclaiming--
'You'll be the favourite among us, Hareton! She says you are a--What was it?
Well, something very flattering.
Here! you go with her round the farm. And behave like a gentleman, mind!
Don't use any bad words; and don't stare when the young lady is not looking at you,
and be ready to hide your face when she is; and, when you speak, say your words slowly,
and keep your hands out of your pockets.
Be off, and entertain her as nicely as you can.'
He watched the couple walking past the window.
Earnshaw had his countenance completely averted from his companion.
He seemed studying the familiar landscape with a stranger's and an artist's interest.
Catherine took a sly look at him, expressing small admiration.
She then turned her attention to seeking out objects of amusement for herself, and
tripped merrily on, lilting a tune to supply the lack of conversation.
'I've tied his tongue,' observed Heathcliff.
'He'll not venture a single syllable all the time!
Nelly, you recollect me at his age--nay, some years younger.
Did I ever look so stupid: so "gaumless," as Joseph calls it?'
'Worse,' I replied, 'because more sullen with it.'
'I've a pleasure in him,' he continued, reflecting aloud.
'He has satisfied my expectations.
If he were a born fool I should not enjoy it half so much.
But he's no fool; and I can sympathise with all his feelings, having felt them myself.
I know what he suffers now, for instance, exactly: it is merely a beginning of what
he shall suffer, though. And he'll never be able to emerge from his
bathos of coarseness and ignorance.
I've got him faster than his scoundrel of a father secured me, and lower; for he takes
a pride in his brutishness. I've taught him to scorn everything extra-
animal as silly and weak.
Don't you think Hindley would be proud of his son, if he could see him? almost as
proud as I am of mine.
But there's this difference; one is gold put to the use of paving-stones, and the
other is tin polished to ape a service of silver.
Mine has nothing valuable about it; yet I shall have the merit of making it go as far
as such poor stuff can go. His had first-rate qualities, and they
are lost: rendered worse than unavailing.
I have nothing to regret; he would have more than any but I are aware of.
And the best of it is, Hareton is damnably fond of me!
You'll own that I've outmatched Hindley there.
If the dead villain could rise from his grave to abuse me for his offspring's
wrongs, I should have the fun of seeing the said offspring fight him back again,
indignant that he should dare to rail at the one friend he has in the world!'
Heathcliff chuckled a fiendish laugh at the idea.
I made no reply, because I saw that he expected none.
Meantime, our young companion, who sat too removed from us to hear what was said,
began to evince symptoms of uneasiness, probably repenting that he had denied
himself the treat of Catherine's society for fear of a little fatigue.
His father remarked the restless glances wandering to the window, and the hand
irresolutely extended towards his cap.
'Get up, you idle boy!' he exclaimed, with assumed heartiness.
'Away after them! they are just at the corner, by the stand of hives.'
Linton gathered his energies, and left the hearth.
The lattice was open, and, as he stepped out, I heard Cathy inquiring of her
unsociable attendant what was that inscription over the door?
Hareton stared up, and scratched his head like a true clown.
'It's some damnable writing,' he answered. 'I cannot read it.'
'Can't read it?' cried Catherine; 'I can read it: it's English.
But I want to know why it is there.' Linton giggled: the first appearance of
mirth he had exhibited.
'He does not know his letters,' he said to his cousin.
'Could you believe in the existence of such a colossal dunce?'
'Is he all as he should be?' asked Miss Cathy, seriously; 'or is he simple: not
right?
I've questioned him twice now, and each time he looked so stupid I think he does
not understand me. I can hardly understand him, I'm sure!'
Linton repeated his laugh, and glanced at Hareton tauntingly; who certainly did not
seem quite clear of comprehension at that moment.
'There's nothing the matter but laziness; is there, Earnshaw?' he said.
'My cousin fancies you are an idiot. There you experience the consequence of
scorning "book-larning," as you would say.
Have you noticed, Catherine, his frightful Yorkshire pronunciation?'
'Why, where the devil is the use on't?' growled Hareton, more ready in answering
his daily companion.
He was about to enlarge further, but the two youngsters broke into a noisy fit of
merriment: my giddy miss being delighted to discover that she might turn his strange
talk to matter of amusement.
'Where is the use of the devil in that sentence?' tittered Linton.
'Papa told you not to say any bad words, and you can't open your mouth without one.
Do try to behave like a gentleman, now do!'
'If thou weren't more a lass than a lad, I'd fell thee this minute, I would; pitiful
lath of a crater!' retorted the angry boor, retreating, while his face burnt with
mingled rage and mortification! for he was
conscious of being insulted, and embarrassed how to resent it.
Mr. Heathcliff having overheard the conversation, as well as I, smiled when he
saw him go; but immediately afterwards cast a look of singular aversion on the flippant
pair, who remained chattering in the door-
way: the boy finding animation enough while discussing Hareton's faults and
deficiencies, and relating anecdotes of his goings on; and the girl relishing his pert
and spiteful sayings, without considering the ill-nature they evinced.
I began to dislike, more than to compassionate Linton, and to excuse his
father in some measure for holding him cheap.
We stayed till afternoon: I could not tear Miss Cathy away sooner; but happily my
master had not quitted his apartment, and remained ignorant of our prolonged absence.
As we walked home, I would fain have enlightened my charge on the characters of
the people we had quitted: but she got it into her head that I was prejudiced against
them.
'Aha!' she cried, 'you take papa's side, Ellen: you are partial I know; or else you
wouldn't have cheated me so many years into the notion that Linton lived a long way
from here.
I'm really extremely angry; only I'm so pleased I can't show it!
But you must hold your tongue about my uncle; he's my uncle, remember; and I'll
scold papa for quarrelling with him.'
And so she ran on, till I relinquished the endeavour to convince her of her mistake.
She did not mention the visit that night, because she did not see Mr. Linton.
Next day it all came out, sadly to my chagrin; and still I was not altogether
sorry: I thought the burden of directing and warning would be more efficiently borne
by him than me.
But he was too timid in giving satisfactory reasons for his wish that she should shun
connection with the household of the Heights, and Catherine liked good reasons
for every restraint that harassed her petted will.
'Papa!' she exclaimed, after the morning's salutations, 'guess whom I saw yesterday,
in my walk on the moors.
Ah, papa, you started! you've not done right, have you, now?
I saw--but listen, and you shall hear how I found you out; and Ellen, who is in league
with you, and yet pretended to pity me so, when I kept hoping, and was always
disappointed about Linton's coming back!'
She gave a faithful account of her excursion and its consequences; and my
master, though he cast more than one reproachful look at me, said nothing till
she had concluded.
Then he drew her to him, and asked if she knew why he had concealed Linton's near
neighbourhood from her? Could she think it was to deny her a
pleasure that she might harmlessly enjoy?
'It was because you disliked Mr. Heathcliff,' she answered.
'Then you believe I care more for my own feelings than yours, Cathy?' he said.
'No, it was not because I disliked Mr. Heathcliff, but because Mr. Heathcliff
dislikes me; and is a most diabolical man, delighting to wrong and ruin those he
hates, if they give him the slightest opportunity.
I knew that you could not keep up an acquaintance with your cousin without being
brought into contact with him; and I knew he would detest you on my account; so for
your own good, and nothing else, I took
precautions that you should not see Linton again.
I meant to explain this some time as you grew older, and I'm sorry I delayed it.'
'But Mr. Heathcliff was quite cordial, papa,' observed Catherine, not at all
convinced; 'and he didn't object to our seeing each other: he said I might come to
his house when I pleased; only I must not
tell you, because you had quarrelled with him, and would not forgive him for marrying
aunt Isabella. And you won't.
You are the one to be blamed: he is willing to let us be friends, at least;
Linton and I; and you are not.'
My master, perceiving that she would not take his word for her uncle-in-law's evil
disposition, gave a hasty sketch of his conduct to Isabella, and the manner in
which Wuthering Heights became his property.
He could not bear to discourse long upon the topic; for though he spoke little of
it, he still felt the same horror and detestation of his ancient enemy that had
occupied his heart ever since Mrs. Linton's death.
'She might have been living yet, if it had not been for him!' was his constant bitter
reflection; and, in his eyes, Heathcliff seemed a murderer.
Miss Cathy--conversant with no bad deeds except her own slight acts of disobedience,
injustice, and passion, arising from hot temper and thoughtlessness, and repented of
on the day they were committed--was amazed
at the blackness of spirit that could brood on and cover revenge for years, and
deliberately prosecute its plans without a visitation of remorse.
She appeared so deeply impressed and shocked at this new view of human nature--
excluded from all her studies and all her ideas till now--that Mr. Edgar deemed it
unnecessary to pursue the subject.
He merely added: 'You will know hereafter, darling, why I wish you to avoid his house
and family; now return to your old employments and amusements, and think no
more about them.'
Catherine kissed her father, and sat down quietly to her lessons for a couple of
hours, according to custom; then she accompanied him into the grounds, and the
whole day passed as usual: but in the
evening, when she had retired to her room, and I went to help her to undress, I found
her crying, on her knees by the bedside. 'Oh, fie, silly child!'
I exclaimed.
'If you had any real griefs you'd be ashamed to waste a tear on this little
contrariety. You never had one shadow of substantial
sorrow, Miss Catherine.
Suppose, for a minute, that master and I were dead, and you were by yourself in the
world: how would you feel, then?
Compare the present occasion with such an affliction as that, and be thankful for the
friends you have, instead of coveting more.'
'I'm not crying for myself, Ellen,' she answered, 'it's for him.
He expected to see me again to-morrow, and there he'll be so disappointed: and he'll
wait for me, and I sha'n't come!'
'Nonsense!' said I, 'do you imagine he has thought as much of you as you have of him?
Hasn't he Hareton for a companion?
Not one in a hundred would weep at losing a relation they had just seen twice, for two
afternoons. Linton will conjecture how it is, and
trouble himself no further about you.'
'But may I not write a note to tell him why I cannot come?' she asked, rising to her
feet. 'And just send those books I promised to
lend him?
His books are not as nice as mine, and he wanted to have them extremely, when I told
him how interesting they were. May I not, Ellen?'
'No, indeed! no, indeed!' replied I with decision.
'Then he would write to you, and there'd never be an end of it.
No, Miss Catherine, the acquaintance must be dropped entirely: so papa expects, and I
shall see that it is done.'
'But how can one little note--?' she recommenced, putting on an imploring
countenance. 'Silence!'
I interrupted.
'We'll not begin with your little notes. Get into bed.'
She threw at me a very naughty look, so naughty that I would not kiss her good-
night at first: I covered her up, and shut her door, in great displeasure; but,
repenting half-way, I returned softly, and
lo! there was Miss standing at the table with a bit of blank paper before her and a
pencil in her hand, which she guiltily slipped out of sight on my entrance.
'You'll get nobody to take that, Catherine,' I said, 'if you write it; and
at present I shall put out your candle.'
I set the extinguisher on the flame, receiving as I did so a slap on my hand and
a petulant 'cross thing!'
I then quitted her again, and she drew the bolt in one of her worst, most peevish
humours.
The letter was finished and forwarded to its destination by a milk-fetcher who came
from the village; but that I didn't learn till some time afterwards.
Weeks passed on, and Cathy recovered her temper; though she grew wondrous fond of
stealing off to corners by herself and often, if I came near her suddenly while
reading, she would start and bend over the
book, evidently desirous to hide it; and I detected edges of loose paper sticking out
beyond the leaves.
She also got a trick of coming down early in the morning and lingering about the
kitchen, as if she were expecting the arrival of something; and she had a small
drawer in a cabinet in the library, which
she would trifle over for hours, and whose key she took special care to remove when
she left it.
One day, as she inspected this drawer, I observed that the playthings and trinkets
which recently formed its contents were transmuted into bits of folded paper.
My curiosity and suspicions were roused; I determined to take a peep at her mysterious
treasures; so, at night, as soon as she and my master were safe upstairs, I searched,
and readily found among my house keys one that would fit the lock.
Having opened, I emptied the whole contents into my apron, and took them with me to
examine at leisure in my own chamber.
Though I could not but suspect, I was still surprised to discover that they were a mass
of correspondence--daily almost, it must have been--from Linton Heathcliff: answers
to documents forwarded by her.
The earlier dated were embarrassed and short; gradually, however, they expanded
into copious love-letters, foolish, as the age of the writer rendered natural, yet
with touches here and there which I thought
were borrowed from a more experienced source.
Some of them struck me as singularly odd compounds of ardour and flatness;
commencing in strong feeling, and concluding in the affected, wordy style
that a schoolboy might use to a fancied, incorporeal sweetheart.
Whether they satisfied Cathy I don't know; but they appeared very worthless trash to
me.
After turning over as many as I thought proper, I tied them in a handkerchief and
set them aside, relocking the vacant drawer.
Following her habit, my young lady descended early, and visited the kitchen:
I watched her go to the door, on the arrival of a certain little boy; and, while the
dairymaid filled his can, she tucked
something into his jacket pocket, and plucked something out.
I went round by the garden, and laid wait for the messenger; who fought valorously to
defend his trust, and we spilt the milk between us; but I succeeded in abstracting
the epistle; and, threatening serious
consequences if he did not look sharp home, I remained under the wall and perused Miss
Cathy's affectionate composition. It was more simple and more eloquent than
her cousin's: very pretty and very silly.
I shook my head, and went meditating into the house.
The day being wet, she could not divert herself with rambling about the park; so,
at the conclusion of her morning studies, she resorted to the solace of the drawer.
Her father sat reading at the table; and I, on purpose, had sought a bit of work in
some unripped fringes of the window- curtain, keeping my eye steadily fixed on
her proceedings.
Never did any bird flying back to a plundered nest, which it had left brimful
of chirping young ones, express more complete despair, in its anguished cries
and flutterings, than she by her single
'Oh!' and the change that transfigured her late happy countenance.
Mr. Linton looked up. 'What is the matter, love?
Have you hurt yourself?' he said.
His tone and look assured her he had not been the discoverer of the hoard.
'No, papa!' she gasped. 'Ellen!
Ellen! come 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 playthings?'
'We don't send playthings,' cried Catherine, her pride overcoming her shame.
'Nor anything at all, then, my lady?' I said.
'Unless you will, here I go.'
'I promise, Ellen!' she cried, catching my dress.
'Oh, put them in the fire, do, do!'
But when I proceeded to open a place with the poker the sacrifice was too painful to
be borne. She earnestly supplicated that I would
spare her one or two.
'One or two, Ellen, to keep for Linton's sake!'
I unknotted the handkerchief, and commenced dropping them in from an angle, and the
flame curled up the chimney.
'I will have one, you cruel wretch!' she screamed, darting her hand into the fire,
and drawing forth some half-consumed fragments, at the expense of her fingers.
'Very well--and I will have some to exhibit to papa!'
I answered, shaking back the rest into the bundle, and turning anew to the door.
She emptied her blackened pieces into the flames, and motioned me to finish the
immolation.
It was done; I stirred up the ashes, and interred them under a shovelful of coals;
and she mutely, and with a sense of intense injury, retired to her private apartment.
I descended to tell my master that the young lady's qualm of sickness was almost
gone, but I judged it best for her to lie down a while.
She wouldn't dine; but she reappeared at tea, pale, and red about the eyes, and
marvellously subdued in outward aspect.
Next morning I answered the letter by a slip of paper, inscribed, 'Master
Heathcliff is requested to send no more notes to Miss Linton, as she will not
receive them.'
And, henceforth, the little boy came with vacant pockets.
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