Part 2 out of 7
empty stomach,' said I. 'Proud people breed sad sorrows for
themselves. But, if you be ashamed of your touchiness, you must
ask pardon, mind, when she comes in. You must go up and offer to
kiss her, and say - you know best what to say; only do it heartily,
and not as if you thought her converted into a stranger by her
grand dress. And now, though I have dinner to get ready, I'll
steal time to arrange you so that Edgar Linton shall look quite a
doll beside you: and that he does. You are younger, and yet, I'll
be bound, you are taller and twice as broad across the shoulders;
you could knock him down in a twinkling; don't you feel that you
Heathcliff's face brightened a moment; then it was overcast afresh,
and he sighed.
'But, Nelly, if I knocked him down twenty times, that wouldn't make
him less handsome or me more so. I wish I had light hair and a
fair skin, and was dressed and behaved as well, and had a chance of
being as rich as he will be!'
'And cried for mamma at every turn,' I added, 'and trembled if a
country lad heaved his fist against you, and sat at home all day
for a shower of rain. Oh, Heathcliff, you are showing a poor
spirit! Come to the glass, and I'll let you see what you should
wish. Do you mark those two lines between your eyes; and those
thick brows, that, instead of rising arched, sink in the middle;
and that couple of black fiends, so deeply buried, who never open
their windows boldly, but lurk glinting under them, like devil's
spies? Wish and learn to smooth away the surly wrinkles, to raise
your lids frankly, and change the fiends to confident, innocent
angels, suspecting and doubting nothing, and always seeing friends
where they are not sure of foes. Don't get the expression of a
vicious cur that appears to know the kicks it gets are its desert,
and yet hates all the world, as well as the kicker, for what it
'In other words, I must wish for Edgar Linton's great blue eyes and
even forehead,' he replied. 'I do - and that won't help me to
'A good heart will help you to a bonny face, my lad,' I continued,
'if you were a regular black; and a bad one will turn the bonniest
into something worse than ugly. And now that we've done washing,
and combing, and sulking - tell me whether you don't think yourself
rather handsome? I'll tell you, I do. You're fit for a prince in
disguise. Who knows but your father was Emperor of China, and your
mother an Indian queen, each of them able to buy up, with one
week's income, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange together?
And you were kidnapped by wicked sailors and brought to England.
Were I in your place, I would frame high notions of my birth; and
the thoughts of what I was should give me courage and dignity to
support the oppressions of a little farmer!'
So I chattered on; and Heathcliff gradually lost his frown and
began to look quite pleasant, when all at once our conversation was
interrupted by a rumbling sound moving up the road and entering the
court. He ran to the window and I to the door, just in time to
behold the two Lintons descend from the family carriage, smothered
in cloaks and furs, and the Earnshaws dismount from their horses:
they often rode to church in winter. Catherine took a hand of each
of the children, and brought them into the house and set them
before the fire, which quickly put colour into their white faces.
I urged my companion to hasten now and show his amiable humour, and
he willingly obeyed; but ill luck would have it that, as he opened
the door leading from the kitchen on one side, Hindley opened it on
the other. They met, and the master, irritated at seeing him clean
and cheerful, or, perhaps, eager to keep his promise to Mrs.
Linton, shoved him back with a sudden thrust, and angrily bade
Joseph 'keep the fellow out of the room - send him into the garret
till dinner is over. He'll be cramming his fingers in the tarts
and stealing the fruit, if left alone with them a minute.'
'Nay, sir,' I could not avoid answering, 'he'll touch nothing, not
he: and I suppose he must have his share of the dainties as well
'He shall have his share of my hand, if I catch him downstairs till
dark,' cried Hindley. 'Begone, you vagabond! What! you are
attempting the coxcomb, are you? Wait till I get hold of those
elegant locks - see if I won't pull them a bit longer!'
'They are long enough already,' observed Master Linton, peeping
from the doorway; 'I wonder they don't make his head ache. It's
like a colt's mane over his eyes!'
He ventured this remark without any intention to insult; but
Heathcliff's violent nature was not prepared to endure the
appearance of impertinence from one whom he seemed to hate, even
then, as a rival. He seized a tureen of hot apple sauce (the first
thing that came under his gripe) and dashed it full against the
speaker's face and neck; who instantly commenced a lament that
brought Isabella and Catherine hurrying to the place. Mr. Earnshaw
snatched up the culprit directly and conveyed him to his chamber;
where, doubtless, he administered a rough remedy to cool the fit of
passion, for he appeared red and breathless. I got the dishcloth,
and rather spitefully scrubbed Edgar's nose and mouth, affirming it
served him right for meddling. His sister began weeping to go
home, and Cathy stood by confounded, blushing for all.
'You should not have spoken to him!' she expostulated with Master
Linton. 'He was in a bad temper, and now you've spoilt your visit;
and he'll be flogged: I hate him to be flogged! I can't eat my
dinner. Why did you speak to him, Edgar?'
'I didn't,' sobbed the youth, escaping from my hands, and finishing
the remainder of the purification with his cambric pocket-
handkerchief. 'I promised mamma that I wouldn't say one word to
him, and I didn't.'
'Well, don't cry,' replied Catherine, contemptuously; 'you're not
killed. Don't make more mischief; my brother is coming: be quiet!
Hush, Isabella! Has anybody hurt you?'
'There, there, children - to your seats!' cried Hindley, bustling
in. 'That brute of a lad has warmed me nicely. Next time, Master
Edgar, take the law into your own fists - it will give you an
The little party recovered its equanimity at sight of the fragrant
feast. They were hungry after their ride, and easily consoled,
since no real harm had befallen them. Mr. Earnshaw carved
bountiful platefuls, and the mistress made them merry with lively
talk. I waited behind her chair, and was pained to behold
Catherine, with dry eyes and an indifferent air, commence cutting
up the wing of a goose before her. 'An unfeeling child,' I thought
to myself; 'how lightly she dismisses her old playmate's troubles.
I could not have imagined her to be so selfish.' She lifted a
mouthful to her lips: then she set it down again: her cheeks
flushed, and the tears gushed over them. She slipped her fork to
the floor, and hastily dived under the cloth to conceal her
emotion. I did not call her unfeeling long; for I perceived she
was in purgatory throughout the day, and wearying to find an
opportunity of getting by herself, or paying a visit to Heathcliff,
who had been locked up by the master: as I discovered, on
endeavouring to introduce to him a private mess of victuals.
In the evening we had a dance. Cathy begged that he might be
liberated then, as Isabella Linton had no partner: her entreaties
were vain, and I was appointed to supply the deficiency. We got
rid of all gloom in the excitement of the exercise, and our
pleasure was increased by the arrival of the Gimmerton band,
mustering fifteen strong: a trumpet, a trombone, clarionets,
bassoons, French horns, and a bass viol, besides singers. They go
the rounds of all the respectable houses, and receive contributions
every Christmas, and we esteemed it a first-rate treat to hear
them. After the usual carols had been sung, we set them to songs
and glees. Mrs. Earnshaw loved the music, and so they gave us
Catherine loved it too: but she said it sounded sweetest at the
top of the steps, and she went up in the dark: I followed. They
shut the house door below, never noting our absence, it was so full
of people. She made no stay at the stairs'-head, but mounted
farther, to the garret where Heathcliff was confined, and called
him. He stubbornly declined answering for a while: she
persevered, and finally persuaded him to hold communion with her
through the boards. I let the poor things converse unmolested,
till I supposed the songs were going to cease, and the singers to
get some refreshment: then I clambered up the ladder to warn her.
Instead of finding her outside, I heard her voice within. The
little monkey had crept by the skylight of one garret, along the
roof, into the skylight of the other, and it was with the utmost
difficulty I could coax her out again. When she did come,
Heathcliff came with her, and she insisted that I should take him
into the kitchen, as my fellow-servant had gone to a neighbour's,
to be removed from the sound of our 'devil's psalmody,' as it
pleased him to call it. I told them I intended by no means to
encourage their tricks: but as the prisoner had never broken his
fast since yesterday's dinner, I would wink at his cheating Mr.
Hindley that once. He went down: I set him a stool by the fire,
and offered him a quantity of good things: but he was sick and
could eat little, and my attempts to entertain him were thrown
away. He leant his two elbows on his knees, and his chin on his
hands and remained rapt in dumb meditation. On my inquiring the
subject of his thoughts, he answered gravely - 'I'm trying to
settle how I shall pay Hindley back. I don't care how long I wait,
if I can only do it at last. I hope he will not die before I do!'
'For shame, Heathcliff!' said I. 'It is for God to punish wicked
people; we should learn to forgive.'
'No, God won't have the satisfaction that I shall,' he returned.
'I only wish I knew the best way! Let me alone, and I'll plan it
out: while I'm thinking of that I don't feel pain.'
'But, Mr. Lockwood, I forget these tales cannot divert you. I'm
annoyed how I should dream of chattering on at such a rate; and
your gruel cold, and you nodding for bed! I could have told
Heathcliff's history, all that you need hear, in half a dozen
Thus interrupting herself, the housekeeper rose, and proceeded to
lay aside her sewing; but I felt incapable of moving from the
hearth, and I was very far from nodding. 'Sit still, Mrs. Dean,' I
cried; 'do sit still another half-hour. You've done just right to
tell the story leisurely. That is the method I like; and you must
finish it in the same style. I am interested in every character
you have mentioned, more or less.'
'The clock is on the stroke of eleven, sir.'
'No matter - I'm not accustomed to go to bed in the long hours.
One or two is early enough for a person who lies till ten.'
'You shouldn't lie till ten. There's the very prime of the morning
gone long before that time. A person who has not done one-half his
day's work by ten o'clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half
'Nevertheless, Mrs. Dean, resume your chair; because to-morrow I
intend lengthening the night till afternoon. I prognosticate for
myself an obstinate cold, at least.'
'I hope not, sir. Well, you must allow me to leap over some three
years; during that space Mrs. Earnshaw - '
'No, no, I'll allow nothing of the sort! Are you acquainted with
the mood of mind in which, if you were seated alone, and the cat
licking its kitten on the rug before you, you would watch the
operation so intently that puss's neglect of one ear would put you
seriously out of temper?'
'A terribly lazy mood, I should say.'
'On the contrary, a tiresomely active one. It is mine, at present;
and, therefore, continue minutely. I perceive that people in these
regions acquire over people in towns the value that a spider in a
dungeon does over a spider in a cottage, to their various
occupants; and yet the deepened attraction is not entirely owing to
the situation of the looker-on. They DO live more in earnest, more
in themselves, and less in surface, change, and frivolous external
things. I could fancy a love for life here almost possible; and I
was a fixed unbeliever in any love of a year's standing. One state
resembles setting a hungry man down to a single dish, on which he
may concentrate his entire appetite and do it justice; the other,
introducing him to a table laid out by French cooks: he can
perhaps extract as much enjoyment from the whole; but each part is
a mere atom in his regard and remembrance.'
'Oh! here we are the same as anywhere else, when you get to know
us,' observed Mrs. Dean, somewhat puzzled at my speech.
'Excuse me,' I responded; 'you, my good friend, are a striking
evidence against that assertion. Excepting a few provincialisms of
slight consequence, you have no marks of the manners which I am
habituated to consider as peculiar to your class. I am sure you
have thought a great deal more than the generality of servants
think. You have been compelled to cultivate your reflective
faculties for want of occasions for frittering your life away in
Mrs. Dean laughed.
'I certainly esteem myself a steady, reasonable kind of body,' she
said; 'not exactly from living among the hills and seeing one set
of faces, and one series of actions, from year's end to year's end;
but I have undergone sharp discipline, which has taught me wisdom;
and then, I have read more than you would fancy, Mr. Lockwood. You
could not open a book in this library that I have not looked into,
and got something out of also: unless it be that range of Greek
and Latin, and that of French; and those I know one from another:
it is as much as you can expect of a poor man's daughter. However,
if I am to follow my story in true gossip's fashion, I had better
go on; and instead of leaping three years, I will be content to
pass to the next summer - the summer of 1778, that is nearly
twenty-three years ago.'
ON the morning of a fine June day my first bonny little nursling,
and the last of the ancient Earnshaw stock, was born. We were busy
with the hay in a far-away field, when the girl that usually
brought our breakfasts came running an hour too soon across the
meadow and up the lane, calling me as she ran.
'Oh, such a grand bairn!' she panted out. 'The finest lad that
ever breathed! But the doctor says missis must go: he says she's
been in a consumption these many months. I heard him tell Mr.
Hindley: and now she has nothing to keep her, and she'll be dead
before winter. You must come home directly. You're to nurse it,
Nelly: to feed it with sugar and milk, and take care of it day and
night. I wish I were you, because it will be all yours when there
is no missis!'
'But is she very ill?' I asked, flinging down my rake and tying my
'I guess she is; yet she looks bravely,' replied the girl, 'and she
talks as if she thought of living to see it grow a man. She's out
of her head for joy, it's such a beauty! If I were her I'm certain
I should not die: I should get better at the bare sight of it, in
spite of Kenneth. I was fairly mad at him. Dame Archer brought
the cherub down to master, in the house, and his face just began to
light up, when the old croaker steps forward, and says he -
"Earnshaw, it's a blessing your wife has been spared to leave you
this son. When she came, I felt convinced we shouldn't keep her
long; and now, I must tell you, the winter will probably finish
her. Don't take on, and fret about it too much: it can't be
helped. And besides, you should have known better than to choose
such a rush of a lass!"'
'And what did the master answer?' I inquired.
'I think he swore: but I didn't mind him, I was straining to see
the bairn,' and she began again to describe it rapturously. I, as
zealous as herself, hurried eagerly home to admire, on my part;
though I was very sad for Hindley's sake. He had room in his heart
only for two idols - his wife and himself: he doted on both, and
adored one, and I couldn't conceive how he would bear the loss.
When we got to Wuthering Heights, there he stood at the front door;
and, as I passed in, I asked, 'how was the baby?'
'Nearly ready to run about, Nell!' he replied, putting on a
'And the mistress?' I ventured to inquire; 'the doctor says she's -
'Damn the doctor!' he interrupted, reddening. 'Frances is quite
right: she'll be perfectly well by this time next week. Are you
going up-stairs? will you tell her that I'll come, if she'll
promise not to talk. I left her because she would not hold her
tongue; and she must - tell her Mr. Kenneth says she must be
I delivered this message to Mrs. Earnshaw; she seemed in flighty
spirits, and replied merrily, 'I hardly spoke a word, Ellen, and
there he has gone out twice, crying. Well, say I promise I won't
speak: but that does not bind me not to laugh at him!'
Poor soul! Till within a week of her death that gay heart never
failed her; and her husband persisted doggedly, nay, furiously, in
affirming her health improved every day. When Kenneth warned him
that his medicines were useless at that stage of the malady, and he
needn't put him to further expense by attending her, he retorted,
'I know you need not - she's well - she does not want any more
attendance from you! She never was in a consumption. It was a
fever; and it is gone: her pulse is as slow as mine now, and her
cheek as cool.'
He told his wife the same story, and she seemed to believe him; but
one night, while leaning on his shoulder, in the act of saying she
thought she should be able to get up to-morrow, a fit of coughing
took her - a very slight one - he raised her in his arms; she put
her two hands about his neck, her face changed, and she was dead.
As the girl had anticipated, the child Hareton fell wholly into my
hands. Mr. Earnshaw, provided he saw him healthy and never heard
him cry, was contented, as far as regarded him. For himself, he
grew desperate: his sorrow was of that kind that will not lament.
He neither wept nor prayed; he cursed and defied: execrated God
and man, and gave himself up to reckless dissipation. The servants
could not bear his tyrannical and evil conduct long: Joseph and I
were the only two that would stay. I had not the heart to leave my
charge; and besides, you know, I had been his foster-sister, and
excused his behaviour more readily than a stranger would. Joseph
remained to hector over tenants and labourers; and because it was
his vocation to be where he had plenty of wickedness to reprove.
The master's bad ways and bad companions formed a pretty example
for Catherine and Heathcliff. His treatment of the latter was
enough to make a fiend of a saint. And, truly, it appeared as if
the lad WERE possessed of something diabolical at that period. He
delighted to witness Hindley degrading himself past redemption; and
became daily more notable for savage sullenness and ferocity. I
could not half tell what an infernal house we had. The curate
dropped calling, and nobody decent came near us, at last; unless
Edgar Linton's visits to Miss Cathy might be an exception. At
fifteen she was the queen of the country-side; she had no peer; and
she did turn out a haughty, headstrong creature! I own I did not
like her, after infancy was past; and I vexed her frequently by
trying to bring down her arrogance: she never took an aversion to
me, though. She had a wondrous constancy to old attachments: even
Heathcliff kept his hold on her affections unalterably; and young
Linton, with all his superiority, found it difficult to make an
equally deep impression. He was my late master: that is his
portrait over the fireplace. It used to hang on one side, and his
wife's on the other; but hers has been removed, or else you might
see something of what she was. Can you make that out?
Mrs. Dean raised the candle, and I discerned a soft-featured face,
exceedingly resembling the young lady at the Heights, but more
pensive and amiable in expression. It formed a sweet picture. The
long light hair curled slightly on the temples; the eyes were large
and serious; the figure almost too graceful. I did not marvel how
Catherine Earnshaw could forget her first friend for such an
individual. I marvelled much how he, with a mind to correspond
with his person, could fancy my idea of Catherine Earnshaw.
'A very agreeable portrait,' I observed to the house-keeper. 'Is
'Yes,' she answered; 'but he looked better when he was animated;
that is his everyday countenance: he wanted spirit in general.'
Catherine had kept up her acquaintance with the Lintons since her
five-weeks' residence among them; and as she had no temptation to
show her rough side in their company, and had the sense to be
ashamed of being rude where she experienced such invariable
courtesy, she imposed unwittingly on the old lady and gentleman by
her ingenious cordiality; gained the admiration of Isabella, and
the heart and soul of her brother: acquisitions that flattered her
from the first - for she was full of ambition - and led her to
adopt a double character without exactly intending to deceive any
one. In the place where she heard Heathcliff termed a 'vulgar
young ruffian,' and 'worse than a brute,' she took care not to act
like him; but at home she had small inclination to practise
politeness that would only be laughed at, and restrain an unruly
nature when it would bring her neither credit nor praise.
Mr. Edgar seldom mustered courage to visit Wuthering Heights
openly. He had a terror of Earnshaw's reputation, and shrunk from
encountering him; and yet he was always received with our best
attempts at civility: the master himself avoided offending him,
knowing why he came; and if he could not be gracious, kept out of
the way. I rather think his appearance there was distasteful to
Catherine; she was not artful, never played the coquette, and had
evidently an objection to her two friends meeting at all; for when
Heathcliff expressed contempt of Linton in his presence, she could
not half coincide, as she did in his absence; and when Linton
evinced disgust and antipathy to Heathcliff, she dared not treat
his sentiments with indifference, as if depreciation of her
playmate were of scarcely any consequence to her. I've had many a
laugh at her perplexities and untold troubles, which she vainly
strove to hide from my mockery. That sounds ill-natured: but she
was so proud it became really impossible to pity her distresses,
till she should be chastened into more humility. She did bring
herself, finally, to confess, and to confide in me: there was not
a soul else that she might fashion into an adviser.
Mr. Hindley had gone from home one afternoon, and Heathcliff
presumed to give himself a holiday on the strength of it. He had
reached the age of sixteen then, I think, and without having bad
features, or being deficient in intellect, he contrived to convey
an impression of inward and outward repulsiveness that his present
aspect retains no traces of. In the first place, he had by that
time lost the benefit of his early education: continual hard work,
begun soon and concluded late, had extinguished any curiosity he
once possessed in pursuit of knowledge, and any love for books or
learning. His childhood's sense of superiority, instilled into him
by the favours of old Mr. Earnshaw, was faded away. He struggled
long to keep up an equality with Catherine in her studies, and
yielded with poignant though silent regret: but he yielded
completely; and there was no prevailing on him to take a step in
the way of moving upward, when he found he must, necessarily, sink
beneath his former level. Then personal appearance sympathised
with mental deterioration: he acquired a slouching gait and
ignoble look; his naturally reserved disposition was exaggerated
into an almost idiotic excess of unsociable moroseness; and he took
a grim pleasure, apparently, in exciting the aversion rather than
the esteem of his few acquaintance.
Catherine and he were constant companions still at his seasons of
respite from labour; but he had ceased to express his fondness for
her in words, and recoiled with angry suspicion from her girlish
caresses, as if conscious there could be no gratification in
lavishing such marks of affection on him. On the before-named
occasion he came into the house to announce his intention of doing
nothing, while I was assisting Miss Cathy to arrange her dress:
she had not reckoned on his taking it into his head to be idle; and
imagining she would have the whole place to herself, she managed,
by some means, to inform Mr. Edgar of her brother's absence, and
was then preparing to receive him.
'Cathy, are you busy this afternoon?' asked Heathcliff. 'Are you
'No, it is raining,' she answered.
'Why have you that silk frock on, then?' he said. 'Nobody coming
here, I hope?'
'Not that I know of,' stammered Miss: 'but you should be in the
field now, Heathcliff. It is an hour past dinnertime: I thought
you were gone.'
'Hindley does not often free us from his accursed presence,'
observed the boy. 'I'll not work any more to-day: I'll stay with
'Oh, but Joseph will tell,' she suggested; 'you'd better go!'
'Joseph is loading lime on the further side of Penistone Crags; it
will take him till dark, and he'll never know.'
So, saying, he lounged to the fire, and sat down. Catherine
reflected an instant, with knitted brows - she found it needful to
smooth the way for an intrusion. 'Isabella and Edgar Linton talked
of calling this afternoon,' she said, at the conclusion of a
minute's silence. 'As it rains, I hardly expect them; but they may
come, and if they do, you run the risk of being scolded for no
'Order Ellen to say you are engaged, Cathy,' he persisted; 'don't
turn me out for those pitiful, silly friends of yours! I'm on the
point, sometimes, of complaining that they - but I'll not - '
'That they what?' cried Catherine, gazing at him with a troubled
countenance. 'Oh, Nelly!' she added petulantly, jerking her head
away from my hands, 'you've combed my hair quite out of curl!
That's enough; let me alone. What are you on the point of
complaining about, Heathcliff?'
'Nothing - only look at the almanack on that wall;' he pointed to a
framed sheet hanging near the window, and continued, 'The crosses
are for the evenings you have spent with the Lintons, the dots for
those spent with me. Do you see? I've marked every day.'
'Yes - very foolish: as if I took notice!' replied Catherine, in a
peevish tone. 'And where is the sense of that?'
'To show that I DO take notice,' said Heathcliff.
'And should I always be sitting with you?' she demanded, growing
more irritated. 'What good do I get? What do you talk about? You
might be dumb, or a baby, for anything you say to amuse me, or for
anything you do, either!'
'You never told me before that I talked too little, or that you
disliked my company, Cathy!' exclaimed Heathcliff, in much
'It's no company at all, when people know nothing and say nothing,'
Her companion rose up, but he hadn't time to express his feelings
further, for a horse's feet were heard on the flags, and having
knocked gently, young Linton entered, his face brilliant with
delight at the unexpected summon she had received. Doubtless
Catherine marked the difference between her friends, as one came in
and the other went out. The contrast resembled what you see in
exchanging a bleak, hilly, coal country for a beautiful fertile
valley; and his voice and greeting were as opposite as his aspect.
He had a sweet, low manner of speaking, and pronounced his words as
you do: that's less gruff than we talk here, and softer.
'I'm not come too soon, am I?' he said, casting a look at me: I
had begun to wipe the plate, and tidy some drawers at the far end
in the dresser.
'No,' answered Catherine. 'What are you doing there, Nelly?'
'My work, Miss,' I replied. (Mr. Hindley had given me directions
to make a third party in any private visits Linton chose to pay.)
She stepped behind me and whispered crossly, 'Take yourself and
your dusters off; when company are in the house, servants don't
commence scouring and cleaning in the room where they are!'
'It's a good opportunity, now that master is away,' I answered
aloud: 'he hates me to be fidgeting over these things in his
presence. I'm sure Mr. Edgar will excuse me.'
'I hate you to be fidgeting in MY presence,' exclaimed the young
lady imperiously, not allowing her guest time to speak: she had
failed to recover her equanimity since the little dispute with
'I'm sorry for it, Miss Catherine,' was my response; and I
proceeded assiduously with my occupation.
She, supposing Edgar could not see her, snatched the cloth from my
hand, and pinched me, with a prolonged wrench, very spitefully on
the arm. I've said I did not love her, and rather relished
mortifying her vanity now and then: besides, she hurt me
extremely; so I started up from my knees, and screamed out, 'Oh,
Miss, that's a nasty trick! You have no right to nip me, and I'm
not going to bear it.'
'I didn't touch you, you lying creature!' cried she, her fingers
tingling to repeat the act, and her ears red with rage. She never
had power to conceal her passion, it always set her whole
complexion in a blaze.
'What's that, then?' I retorted, showing a decided purple witness
to refute her.
She stamped her foot, wavered a moment, and then, irresistibly
impelled by the naughty spirit within her, slapped me on the cheek:
a stinging blow that filled both eyes with water.
'Catherine, love! Catherine!' interposed Linton, greatly shocked
at the double fault of falsehood and violence which his idol had
'Leave the room, Ellen!' she repeated, trembling all over.
Little Hareton, who followed me everywhere, and was sitting near me
on the floor, at seeing my tears commenced crying himself, and
sobbed out complaints against 'wicked aunt Cathy,' which drew her
fury on to his unlucky head: she seized his shoulders, and shook
him till the poor child waxed livid, and Edgar thoughtlessly laid
hold of her hands to deliver him. In an instant one was wrung
free, and the astonished young man felt it applied over his own ear
in a way that could not be mistaken for jest. He drew back in
consternation. I lifted Hareton in my arms, and walked off to the
kitchen with him, leaving the door of communication open, for I was
curious to watch how they would settle their disagreement. The
insulted visitor moved to the spot where he had laid his hat, pale
and with a quivering lip.
'That's right!' I said to myself. 'Take warning and begone! It's
a kindness to let you have a glimpse of her genuine disposition.'
'Where are you going?' demanded Catherine, advancing to the door.
He swerved aside, and attempted to pass.
'You must not go!' she exclaimed, energetically.
'I must and shall!' he replied in a subdued voice.
'No,' she persisted, grasping the handle; 'not yet, Edgar Linton:
sit down; you shall not leave me in that temper. I should be
miserable all night, and I won't be miserable for you!'
'Can I stay after you have struck me?' asked Linton.
Catherine was mute.
'You've made me afraid and ashamed of you,' he continued; 'I'll not
come here again!'
Her eyes began to glisten and her lids to twinkle.
'And you told a deliberate untruth!' he said.
'I didn't!' she cried, recovering her speech; 'I did nothing
deliberately. Well, go, if you please - get away! And now I'll
cry - I'll cry myself sick!'
She dropped down on her knees by a chair, and set to weeping in
serious earnest. Edgar persevered in his resolution as far as the
court; there he lingered. I resolved to encourage him.
'Miss is dreadfully wayward, sir,' I called out. 'As bad as any
marred child: you'd better be riding home, or else she will be
sick, only to grieve us.'
The soft thing looked askance through the window: he possessed the
power to depart as much as a cat possesses the power to leave a
mouse half killed, or a bird half eaten. Ah, I thought, there will
be no saving him: he's doomed, and flies to his fate! And so it
was: he turned abruptly, hastened into the house again, shut the
door behind him; and when I went in a while after to inform them
that Earnshaw had come home rabid drunk, ready to pull the whole
place about our ears (his ordinary frame of mind in that
condition), I saw the quarrel had merely effected a closer intimacy
- had broken the outworks of youthful timidity, and enabled them to
forsake the disguise of friendship, and confess themselves lovers.
Intelligence of Mr. Hindley's arrival drove Linton speedily to his
horse, and Catherine to her chamber. I went to hide little
Hareton, and to take the shot out of the master's fowling-piece,
which he was fond of playing with in his insane excitement, to the
hazard of the lives of any who provoked, or even attracted his
notice too much; and I had hit upon the plan of removing it, that
he might do less mischief if he did go the length of firing the
HE entered, vociferating oaths dreadful to hear; and caught me in
the act of stowing his son sway in the kitchen cupboard. Hareton
was impressed with a wholesome terror of encountering either his
wild beast's fondness or his madman's rage; for in one he ran a
chance of being squeezed and kissed to death, and in the other of
being flung into the fire, or dashed against the wall; and the poor
thing remained perfectly quiet wherever I chose to put him.
'There, I've found it out at last!' cried Hindley, pulling me back
by the skin of my neck, like a dog. 'By heaven and hell, you've
sworn between you to murder that child! I know how it is, now,
that he is always out of my way. But, with the help of Satan, I
shall make you swallow the carving-knife, Nelly! You needn't
laugh; for I've just crammed Kenneth, head-downmost, in the Black-
horse marsh; and two is the same as one - and I want to kill some
of you: I shall have no rest till I do!'
'But I don't like the carving-knife, Mr. Hindley,' I answered; 'it
has been cutting red herrings. I'd rather be shot, if you please.'
'You'd rather be damned!' he said; 'and so you shall. No law in
England can hinder a man from keeping his house decent, and mine's
abominable! Open your mouth.' He held the knife in his hand, and
pushed its point between my teeth: but, for my part, I was never
much afraid of his vagaries. I spat out, and affirmed it tasted
detestably - I would not take it on any account.
'Oh!' said he, releasing me, 'I see that hideous little villain is
not Hareton: I beg your pardon, Nell. If it be, he deserves
flaying alive for not running to welcome me, and for screaming as
if I were a goblin. Unnatural cub, come hither! I'll teach thee
to impose on a good-hearted, deluded father. Now, don't you think
the lad would be handsomer cropped? It makes a dog fiercer, and I
love something fierce - get me a scissors - something fierce and
trim! Besides, it's infernal affectation - devilish conceit it is,
to cherish our ears - we're asses enough without them. Hush,
child, hush! Well then, it is my darling! wisht, dry thy eyes -
there's a joy; kiss me. What! it won't? Kiss me, Hareton! Damn
thee, kiss me! By God, as if I would rear such a monster! As sure
as I'm living, I'll break the brat's neck.'
Poor Hareton was squalling and kicking in his father's arms with
all his might, and redoubled his yells when he carried him up-
stairs and lifted him over the banister. I cried out that he would
frighten the child into fits, and ran to rescue him. As I reached
them, Hindley leant forward on the rails to listen to a noise
below; almost forgetting what he had in his hands. 'Who is that?'
he asked, hearing some one approaching the stairs'-foot. I leant
forward also, for the purpose of signing to Heathcliff, whose step
I recognised, not to come further; and, at the instant when my eye
quitted Hareton, he gave a sudden spring, delivered himself from
the careless grasp that held him, and fell.
There was scarcely time to experience a thrill of horror before we
saw that the little wretch was safe. Heathcliff arrived underneath
just at the critical moment; by a natural impulse he arrested his
descent, and setting him on his feet, looked up to discover the
author of the accident. A miser who has parted with a lucky
lottery ticket for five shillings, and finds next day he has lost
in the bargain five thousand pounds, could not show a blanker
countenance than he did on beholding the figure of Mr. Earnshaw
above. It expressed, plainer than words could do, the intensest
anguish at having made himself the instrument of thwarting his own
revenge. Had it been dark, I daresay he would have tried to remedy
the mistake by smashing Hareton's skull on the steps; but, we
witnessed his salvation; and I was presently below with my precious
charge pressed to my heart. Hindley descended more leisurely,
sobered and abashed.
'It is your fault, Ellen,' he said; 'you should have kept him out
of sight: you should have taken him from me! Is he injured
'Injured!' I cried angrily; 'if he is not killed, he'll be an
idiot! Oh! I wonder his mother does not rise from her grave to
see how you use him. You're worse than a heathen - treating your
own flesh and blood in that manner!' He attempted to touch the
child, who, on finding himself with me, sobbed off his terror
directly. At the first finger his father laid on him, however, he
shrieked again louder than before, and struggled as if he would go
'You shall not meddle with him!' I continued. 'He hates you - they
all hate you - that's the truth! A happy family you have; and a
pretty state you're come to!'
'I shall come to a prettier, yet, Nelly,' laughed the misguided
man, recovering his hardness. 'At present, convey yourself and him
away. And hark you, Heathcliff! clear you too quite from my reach
and hearing. I wouldn't murder you to-night; unless, perhaps, I
set the house on fire: but that's as my fancy goes.'
While saying this he took a pint bottle of brandy from the dresser,
and poured some into a tumbler.
'Nay, don't!' I entreated. 'Mr. Hindley, do take warning. Have
mercy on this unfortunate boy, if you care nothing for yourself!'
'Any one will do better for him than I shall,' he answered.
'Have mercy on your own soul!' I said, endeavouring to snatch the
glass from his hand.
'Not I! On the contrary, I shall have great pleasure in sending it
to perdition to punish its Maker,' exclaimed the blasphemer.
'Here's to its hearty damnation!'
He drank the spirits and impatiently bade us go; terminating his
command with a sequel of horrid imprecations too bad to repeat or
'It's a pity he cannot kill himself with drink,' observed
Heathcliff, muttering an echo of curses back when the door was
shut. 'He's doing his very utmost; but his constitution defies
him. Mr. Kenneth says he would wager his mare that he'll outlive
any man on this side Gimmerton, and go to the grave a hoary sinner;
unless some happy chance out of the common course befall him.'
I went into the kitchen, and sat down to lull my little lamb to
sleep. Heathcliff, as I thought, walked through to the barn. It
turned out afterwards that he only got as far as the other side the
settle, when he flung himself on a bench by the wall, removed from
the fire and remained silent.
I was rocking Hareton on my knee, and humming a song that began, -
It was far in the night, and the bairnies grat,
The mither beneath the mools heard that,
when Miss Cathy, who had listened to the hubbub from her room, put
her head in, and whispered, - 'Are you alone, Nelly?'
'Yes, Miss,' I replied.
She entered and approached the hearth. I, supposing she was going
to say something, looked up. The expression of her face seemed
disturbed and anxious. Her lips were half asunder, as if she meant
to speak, and she drew a breath; but it escaped in a sigh instead
of a sentence. I resumed my song; not having forgotten her recent
'Where's Heathcliff?' she said, interrupting me.
'About his work in the stable,' was my answer.
He did not contradict me; perhaps he had fallen into a doze. There
followed another long pause, during which I perceived a drop or two
trickle from Catherine's cheek to the flags. Is she sorry for her
shameful conduct? - I asked myself. That will be a novelty: but
she may come to the point - as she will - I sha'n't help her! No,
she felt small trouble regarding any subject, save her own
'Oh, dear!' she cried at last. 'I'm very unhappy!'
'A pity,' observed I. 'You're hard to please; so many friends and
so few cares, and can't make yourself content!'
'Nelly, will you keep a secret for me?' she pursued, kneeling down
by me, and lifting her winsome eyes to my face with that sort of
look which turns off bad temper, even when one has all the right in
the world to indulge it.
'Is it worth keeping?' I inquired, less sulkily.
'Yes, and it worries me, and I must let it out! I want to know
what I should do. To-day, Edgar Linton has asked me to marry him,
and I've given him an answer. Now, before I tell you whether it
was a consent or denial, you tell me which it ought to have been.'
'Really, Miss Catherine, how can I know?' I replied. 'To be sure,
considering the exhibition you performed in his presence this
afternoon, I might say it would be wise to refuse him: since he
asked you after that, he must either be hopelessly stupid or a
'If you talk so, I won't tell you any more,' she returned,
peevishly rising to her feet. 'I accepted him, Nelly. Be quick,
and say whether I was wrong!'
'You accepted him! Then what good is it discussing the matter?
You have pledged your word, and cannot retract.'
'But say whether I should have done so - do!' she exclaimed in an
irritated tone; chafing her hands together, and frowning.
'There are many things to be considered before that question can be
answered properly,' I said, sententiously. 'First and foremost, do
you love Mr. Edgar?'
'Who can help it? Of course I do,' she answered.
Then I put her through the following catechism: for a girl of
twenty-two it was not injudicious.
'Why do you love him, Miss Cathy?'
'Nonsense, I do - that's sufficient.'
'By no means; you must say why?'
'Well, because he is handsome, and pleasant to be with.'
'Bad!' was my commentary.
'And because he is young and cheerful.'
'And because he loves me.'
'Indifferent, coming there.'
'And he will be rich, and I shall like to be the greatest woman of
the neighbourhood, and I shall be proud of having such a husband.'
'Worst of all. And now, say how you love him?'
'As everybody loves - You're silly, Nelly.'
'Not at all - Answer.'
'I love the ground under his feet, and the air over his head, and
everything he touches, and every word he says. I love all his
looks, and all his actions, and him entirely and altogether. There
'Nay; you are making a jest of it: it is exceedingly ill-natured!
It's no jest to me!' said the young lady, scowling, and turning her
face to the fire.
'I'm very far from jesting, Miss Catherine,' I replied. 'You love
Mr. Edgar because he is handsome, and young, and cheerful, and
rich, and loves you. The last, however, goes for nothing: you
would love him without that, probably; and with it you wouldn't,
unless he possessed the four former attractions.'
'No, to be sure not: I should only pity him - hate him, perhaps,
if he were ugly, and a clown.'
'But there are several other handsome, rich young men in the world:
handsomer, possibly, and richer than he is. What should hinder you
from loving them?'
'If there be any, they are out of my way: I've seen none like
'You may see some; and he won't always be handsome, and young, and
may not always be rich.'
'He is now; and I have only to do with the present. I wish you
would speak rationally.'
'Well, that settles it: if you have only to do with the present,
marry Mr. Linton.'
'I don't want your permission for that - I SHALL marry him: and
yet you have not told me whether I'm right.'
'Perfectly right; if people be right to marry only for the present.
And now, let us hear what you are unhappy about. Your brother will
be pleased; the old lady and gentleman will not object, I think;
you will escape from a disorderly, comfortless home into a wealthy,
respectable one; and you love Edgar, and Edgar loves you. All
seems smooth and easy: where is the obstacle?'
'HERE! and HERE!' replied Catherine, striking one hand on her
forehead, and the other on her breast: 'in whichever place the
soul lives. In my soul and in my heart, I'm convinced I'm wrong!'
'That's very strange! I cannot make it out.'
'It's my secret. But if you will not mock at me, I'll explain it:
I can't do it distinctly; but I'll give you a feeling of how I
She seated herself by me again: her countenance grew sadder and
graver, and her clasped hands trembled.
'Nelly, do you never dream queer dreams?' she said, suddenly, after
some minutes' reflection.
'Yes, now and then,' I answered.
'And so do I. I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with
me ever after, and changed my ideas: they've gone through and
through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my
mind. And this is one: I'm going to tell it - but take care not
to smile at any part of it.'
'Oh! don't, Miss Catherine!' I cried. 'We're dismal enough without
conjuring up ghosts and visions to perplex us. Come, come, be
merry and like yourself! Look at little Hareton! HE'S dreaming
nothing dreary. How sweetly he smiles in his sleep!'
'Yes; and how sweetly his father curses in his solitude! You
remember him, I daresay, when he was just such another as that
chubby thing: nearly as young and innocent. However, Nelly, I
shall oblige you to listen: it's not long; and I've no power to be
'I won't hear it, I won't hear it!' I repeated, hastily.
I was superstitious about dreams then, and am still; and Catherine
had an unusual gloom in her aspect, that made me dread something
from which I might shape a prophecy, and foresee a fearful
catastrophe. She was vexed, but she did not proceed. Apparently
taking up another subject, she recommenced in a short time.
'If I were in heaven, Nelly, I should be extremely miserable.'
'Because you are not fit to go there,' I answered. 'All sinners
would be miserable in heaven.'
'But it is not for that. I dreamt once that I was there.'
'I tell you I won't hearken to your dreams, Miss Catherine! I'll
go to bed,' I interrupted again.
She laughed, and held me down; for I made a motion to leave my
'This is nothing,' cried she: 'I was only going to say that heaven
did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to
come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me
out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights;
where I woke sobbing for joy. That will do to explain my secret,
as well as the other. I've no more business to marry Edgar Linton
than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not
brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn't have thought of it. It
would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know
how I love him: and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but
because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made
of, his and mine are the same; and Linton's is as different as a
moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.'
Ere this speech ended I became sensible of Heathcliff's presence.
Having noticed a slight movement, I turned my head, and saw him
rise from the bench, and steal out noiselessly. He had listened
till he heard Catherine say it would degrade her to marry him, and
then he stayed to hear no further. My companion, sitting on the
ground, was prevented by the back of the settle from remarking his
presence or departure; but I started, and bade her hush!
'Why?' she asked, gazing nervously round.
'Joseph is here,' I answered, catching opportunely the roll of his
cartwheels up the road; 'and Heathcliff will come in with him. I'm
not sure whether he were not at the door this moment.'
'Oh, he couldn't overhear me at the door!' said she. 'Give me
Hareton, while you get the supper, and when it is ready ask me to
sup with you. I want to cheat my uncomfortable conscience, and be
convinced that Heathcliff has no notion of these things. He has
not, has he? He does not know what being in love is!'
'I see no reason that he should not know, as well as you,' I
returned; 'and if you are his choice, he'll be the most unfortunate
creature that ever was born! As soon as you become Mrs. Linton, he
loses friend, and love, and all! Have you considered how you'll
bear the separation, and how he'll bear to be quite deserted in the
world? Because, Miss Catherine - '
'He quite deserted! we separated!' she exclaimed, with an accent of
indignation. 'Who is to separate us, pray? They'll meet the fate
of Milo! Not as long as I live, Ellen: for no mortal creature.
Every Linton on the face of the earth might melt into nothing
before I could consent to forsake Heathcliff. Oh, that's not what
I intend - that's not what I mean! I shouldn't be Mrs. Linton were
such a price demanded! He'll be as much to me as he has been all
his lifetime. Edgar must shake off his antipathy, and tolerate
him, at least. He will, when he learns my true feelings towards
him. Nelly, I see now you think me a selfish wretch; but did it
never strike you that if Heathcliff and I married, we should be
beggars? whereas, if I marry Linton I can aid Heathcliff to rise,
and place him out of my brother's power.'
'With your husband's money, Miss Catherine?' I asked. 'You'll find
him not so pliable as you calculate upon: and, though I'm hardly a
judge, I think that's the worst motive you've given yet for being
the wife of young Linton.'
'It is not,' retorted she; 'it is the best! The others were the
satisfaction of my whims: and for Edgar's sake, too, to satisfy
him. This is for the sake of one who comprehends in his person my
feelings to Edgar and myself. I cannot express it; but surely you
and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence
of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were
entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been
Heathcliff's miseries, and I watched and felt each from the
beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else
perished, and HE remained, I should still continue to be; and if
all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn
to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it. - My love
for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it,
I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for
Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little
visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I AM Heathcliff! He's
always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am
always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being. So don't talk of
our separation again: it is impracticable; and - '
She paused, and hid her face in the folds of my gown; but I jerked
it forcibly away. I was out of patience with her folly!
'If I can make any sense of your nonsense, Miss,' I said, 'it only
goes to convince me that you are ignorant of the duties you
undertake in marrying; or else that you are a wicked, unprincipled
girl. But trouble me with no more secrets: I'll not promise to
'You'll keep that?' she asked, eagerly.
'No, I'll not promise,' I repeated.
She was about to insist, when the entrance of Joseph finished our
conversation; and Catherine removed her seat to a corner, and
nursed Hareton, while I made the supper. After it was cooked, my
fellow-servant and I began to quarrel who should carry some to Mr.
Hindley; and we didn't settle it till all was nearly cold. Then we
came to the agreement that we would let him ask, if he wanted any;
for we feared particularly to go into his presence when he had been
some time alone.
'And how isn't that nowt comed in fro' th' field, be this time?
What is he about? girt idle seeght!' demanded the old man, looking
round for Heathcliff.
'I'll call him,' I replied. 'He's in the barn, I've no doubt.'
I went and called, but got no answer. On returning, I whispered to
Catherine that he had heard a good part of what she said, I was
sure; and told how I saw him quit the kitchen just as she
complained of her brother's conduct regarding him. She jumped up
in a fine fright, flung Hareton on to the settle, and ran to seek
for her friend herself; not taking leisure to consider why she was
so flurried, or how her talk would have affected him. She was
absent such a while that Joseph proposed we should wait no longer.
He cunningly conjectured they were staying away in order to avoid
hearing his protracted blessing. They were 'ill eneugh for ony
fahl manners,' he affirmed. And on their behalf he added that
night a special prayer to the usual quarter-of-an-hour's
supplication before meat, and would have tacked another to the end
of the grace, had not his young mistress broken in upon him with a
hurried command that he must run down the road, and, wherever
Heathcliff had rambled, find and make him re-enter directly!
'I want to speak to him, and I MUST, before I go upstairs,' she
said. 'And the gate is open: he is somewhere out of hearing; for
he would not reply, though I shouted at the top of the fold as loud
as I could.'
Joseph objected at first; she was too much in earnest, however, to
suffer contradiction; and at last he placed his hat on his head,
and walked grumbling forth. Meantime, Catherine paced up and down
the floor, exclaiming - 'I wonder where he is - I wonder where he
can be! What did I say, Nelly? I've forgotten. Was he vexed at
my bad humour this afternoon? Dear! tell me what I've said to
grieve him? I do wish he'd come. I do wish he would!'
'What a noise for nothing!' I cried, though rather uneasy myself.
'What a trifle scares you! It's surely no great cause of alarm
that Heathcliff should take a moonlight saunter on the moors, or
even lie too sulky to speak to us in the hay-loft. I'll engage
he's lurking there. See if I don't ferret him out!'
I departed to renew my search; its result was disappointment, and
Joseph's quest ended in the same.
'Yon lad gets war und war!' observed he on re-entering. 'He's left
th' gate at t' full swing, and Miss's pony has trodden dahn two
rigs o' corn, and plottered through, raight o'er into t' meadow!
Hahsomdiver, t' maister 'ull play t' devil to-morn, and he'll do
weel. He's patience itsseln wi' sich careless, offald craters -
patience itsseln he is! Bud he'll not be soa allus - yah's see,
all on ye! Yah mun'n't drive him out of his heead for nowt!'
'Have you found Heathcliff, you ass?' interrupted Catherine. 'Have
you been looking for him, as I ordered?'
'I sud more likker look for th' horse,' he replied. 'It 'ud be to
more sense. Bud I can look for norther horse nur man of a neeght
loike this - as black as t' chimbley! und Heathcliff's noan t' chap
to coom at MY whistle - happen he'll be less hard o' hearing wi'
It WAS a very dark evening for summer: the clouds appeared
inclined to thunder, and I said we had better all sit down; the
approaching rain would be certain to bring him home without further
trouble. However, Catherine would hot be persuaded into
tranquillity. She kept wandering to and fro, from the gate to the
door, in a state of agitation which permitted no repose; and at
length took up a permanent situation on one side of the wall, near
the road: where, heedless of my expostulations and the growling
thunder, and the great drops that began to plash around her, she
remained, calling at intervals, and then listening, and then crying
outright. She beat Hareton, or any child, at a good passionate fit
About midnight, while we still sat up, the storm came rattling over
the Heights in full fury. There was a violent wind, as well as
thunder, and either one or the other split a tree off at the corner
of the building: a huge bough fell across the roof, and knocked
down a portion of the east chimney-stack, sending a clatter of
stones and soot into the kitchen-fire. We thought a bolt had
fallen in the middle of us; and Joseph swung on to his knees,
beseeching the Lord to remember the patriarchs Noah and Lot, and,
as in former times, spare the righteous, though he smote the
ungodly. I felt some sentiment that it must be a judgment on us
also. The Jonah, in my mind, was Mr. Earnshaw; and I shook the
handle of his den that I might ascertain if he were yet living. He
replied audibly enough, in a fashion which made my companion
vociferate, more clamorously than before, that a wide distinction
might be drawn between saints like himself and sinners like his
master. But the uproar passed away in twenty minutes, leaving us
all unharmed; excepting Cathy, who got thoroughly drenched for her
obstinacy in refusing to take shelter, and standing bonnetless and
shawl-less to catch as much water as she could with her hair and
clothes. She came in and lay down on the settle, all soaked as she
was, turning her face to the back, and putting her hands before it.
'Well, Miss!' I exclaimed, touching her shoulder; 'you are not bent
on getting your death, are you? Do you know what o'clock it is?
Half-past twelve. Come, come to bed! there's no use waiting any
longer on that foolish boy: he'll be gone to Gimmerton, and he'll
stay there now. He guesses we shouldn't wait for him till this
late hour: at least, he guesses that only Mr. Hindley would be up;
and he'd rather avoid having the door opened by the master.'
'Nay, nay, he's noan at Gimmerton,' said Joseph. 'I's niver wonder
but he's at t' bothom of a bog-hoile. This visitation worn't for
nowt, and I wod hev' ye to look out, Miss - yah muh be t' next.
Thank Hivin for all! All warks togither for gooid to them as is
chozzen, and piked out fro' th' rubbidge! Yah knaw whet t'
Scripture ses.' And he began quoting several texts, referring us
to chapters and verses where we might find them.
I, having vainly begged the wilful girl to rise and remove her wet
things, left him preaching and her shivering, and betook myself to
bed with little Hareton, who slept as fast as if everyone had been
sleeping round him. I heard Joseph read on a while afterwards;
then I distinguished his slow step on the ladder, and then I
Coming down somewhat later than usual, I saw, by the sunbeams
piercing the chinks of the shutters, Miss Catherine still seated
near the fireplace. The house-door was ajar, too; light entered
from its unclosed windows; Hindley had come out, and stood on the
kitchen hearth, haggard and drowsy.
'What ails you, Cathy?' he was saying when I entered: 'you look as
dismal as a drowned whelp. Why are you so damp and pale, child?'
'I've been wet,' she answered reluctantly, 'and I'm cold, that's
'Oh, she is naughty!' I cried, perceiving the master to be
tolerably sober. 'She got steeped in the shower of yesterday
evening, and there she has sat the night through, and I couldn't
prevail on her to stir.'
Mr. Earnshaw stared at us in surprise. 'The night through,' he
repeated. 'What kept her up? not fear of the thunder, surely?
That was over hours since.'
Neither of us wished to mention Heathcliff's absence, as long as we
could conceal it; so I replied, I didn't know how she took it into
her head to sit up; and she said nothing. The morning was fresh
and cool; I threw back the lattice, and presently the room filled
with sweet scents from the garden; but Catherine called peevishly
to me, 'Ellen, shut the window. I'm starving!' And her teeth
chattered as she shrank closer to the almost extinguished embers.
'She's ill,' said Hindley, taking her wrist; 'I suppose that's the
reason she would not go to bed. Damn it! I don't want to be
troubled with more sickness here. What took you into the rain?'
'Running after t' lads, as usuald!' croaked Joseph, catching an
opportunity from our hesitation to thrust in his evil tongue. 'If
I war yah, maister, I'd just slam t' boards i' their faces all on
'em, gentle and simple! Never a day ut yah're off, but yon cat o'
Linton comes sneaking hither; and Miss Nelly, shoo's a fine lass!
shoo sits watching for ye i' t' kitchen; and as yah're in at one
door, he's out at t'other; and, then, wer grand lady goes a-
courting of her side! It's bonny behaviour, lurking amang t'
fields, after twelve o' t' night, wi' that fahl, flaysome divil of
a gipsy, Heathcliff! They think I'M blind; but I'm noan: nowt ut
t' soart! - I seed young Linton boath coming and going, and I seed
YAH' (directing his discourse to me), 'yah gooid fur nowt,
slattenly witch! nip up and bolt into th' house, t' minute yah
heard t' maister's horse-fit clatter up t' road.'
'Silence, eavesdropper!' cried Catherine; 'none of your insolence
before me! Edgar Linton came yesterday by chance, Hindley; and it
was I who told him to be off: because I knew you would not like to
have met him as you were.'
'You lie, Cathy, no doubt,' answered her brother, 'and you are a
confounded simpleton! But never mind Linton at present: tell me,
were you not with Heathcliff last night? Speak the truth, now.
You need not he afraid of harming him: though I hate him as much
as ever, he did me a good turn a short time since that will make my
conscience tender of breaking his neck. To prevent it, I shall
send him about his business this very morning; and after he's gone,
I'd advise you all to look sharp: I shall only have the more
humour for you.'
'I never saw Heathcliff last night,' answered Catherine, beginning
to sob bitterly: 'and if you do turn him out of doors, I'll go
with him. But, perhaps, you'll never have an opportunity:
perhaps, he's gone.' Here she burst into uncontrollable grief, and
the remainder of her words were inarticulate.
Hindley lavished on her a torrent of scornful abuse, and bade her
get to her room immediately, or she shouldn't cry for nothing! I
obliged her to obey; and I shall never forget what a scene she
acted when we reached her chamber: it terrified me. I thought she
was going mad, and I begged Joseph to run for the doctor. It
proved the commencement of delirium: Mr. Kenneth, as soon as he
saw her, pronounced her dangerously ill; she had a fever. He bled
her, and he told me to let her live on whey and water-gruel, and
take care she did not throw herself downstairs or out of the
window; and then he left: for he had enough to do in the parish,
where two or three miles was the ordinary distance between cottage
Though I cannot say I made a gentle nurse, and Joseph and the
master were no better, and though our patient was as wearisome and
headstrong as a patient could be, she weathered it through. Old
Mrs. Linton paid us several visits, to be sure, and set things to
rights, and scolded and ordered us all; and when Catherine was
convalescent, she insisted on conveying her to Thrushcross Grange:
for which deliverance we were very grateful. But the poor dame had
reason to repent of her kindness: she and her husband both took
the fever, and died within a few days of each other.
Our young lady returned to us saucier and more passionate, and
haughtier than ever. Heathcliff had never been heard of since the
evening of the thunder-storm; and, one day, I had the misfortune,
when she had provoked me exceedingly, to lay the blame of his
disappearance on her: where indeed it belonged, as she well knew.
From that period, for several months, she ceased to hold any
communication with me, save in the relation of a mere servant.
Joseph fell under a ban also: he would speak his mind, and lecture
her all the same as if she were a little girl; and she esteemed
herself a woman, and our mistress, and thought that her recent
illness gave her a claim to be treated with consideration. Then
the doctor had said that she would not bear crossing much; she
ought to have her own way; and it was nothing less than murder in
her eyes for any one to presume to stand up and contradict her.
From Mr. Earnshaw and his companions she kept aloof; and tutored by
Kenneth, and serious threats of a fit that often attended her
rages, her brother allowed her whatever she pleased to demand, and
generally avoided aggravating her fiery temper. He was rather too
indulgent in humouring her caprices; not from affection, but from
pride: he wished earnestly to see her bring honour to the family
by an alliance with the Lintons, and as long as she let him alone
she might trample on us like slaves, for aught he cared! Edgar
Linton, as multitudes have been before and will be after him, was
infatuated: and believed himself the happiest man alive on the day
he led her to Gimmerton Chapel, three years subsequent to his
Much against my inclination, I was persuaded to leave Wuthering
Heights and accompany her here, Little Hareton was nearly five
years old, and I had just begun to teach him his letters. We made
a sad parting; but Catherine's tears were more powerful than ours.
When I refused to go, and when she found her entreaties did not
move me, she went lamenting to her husband and brother. The former
offered me munificent wages; the latter ordered me to pack up: he
wanted no women in the house, he said, now that there was no
mistress; and as to Hareton, the curate should take him in hand,
by-and-by. And so I had but one choice left: to do as I was
ordered. I told the master he got rid of all decent people only to
run to ruin a little faster; I kissed Hareton, said good-by; and
since then he has been a stranger: and it's very queer to think
it, but I've no doubt he has completely forgotten all about Ellen
Dean, and that he was ever more than all the world to her and she
At this point of the housekeeper's story she chanced to glance
towards the time-piece over the chimney; and was in amazement on
seeing the minute-hand measure half-past one. She would not hear
of staying a second longer: in truth, I felt rather disposed to
defer the sequel of her narrative myself. And now that she is
vanished to her rest, and I have meditated for another hour or two,
I shall summon courage to go also, in spite of aching laziness of
head and limbs.
A CHARMING introduction to a hermit's life! Four weeks' torture,
tossing, and sickness! Oh, these bleak winds and bitter northern
skies, and impassable roads, and dilatory country surgeons! And
oh, this dearth of the human physiognomy! and, worse than all, the
terrible intimation of Kenneth that I need not expect to be out of
doors till spring!
Mr. Heathcliff has just honoured me with a call. About seven days
ago he sent me a brace of grouse - the last of the season.
Scoundrel! He is not altogether guiltless in this illness of mine;
and that I had a great mind to tell him. But, alas! how could I
offend a man who was charitable enough to sit at my bedside a good
hour, and talk on some other subject than pills and draughts,
blisters and leeches? This is quite an easy interval. I am too
weak to read; yet I feel as if I could enjoy something interesting.
Why not have up Mrs. Dean to finish her tale? I can recollect its
chief incidents, as far as she had gone. Yes: I remember her hero
had run off, and never been heard of for three years; and the
heroine was married. I'll ring: she'll be delighted to find me
capable of talking cheerfully. Mrs. Dean came.
'It wants twenty minutes, sir, to taking the medicine,' she
'Away, away with it!' I replied; 'I desire to have - '
'The doctor says you must drop the powders.'
'With all my heart! Don't interrupt me. Come and take your seat
here. Keep your fingers from that bitter phalanx of vials. Draw
your knitting out of your pocket - that will do - now continue the
history of Mr. Heathcliff, from where you left off, to the present
day. Did he finish his education on the Continent, and come back a
gentleman? or did he get a sizar's place at college, or escape to
America, and earn honours by drawing blood from his foster-country?
or make a fortune more promptly on the English highways?'
'He may have done a little in all these vocations, Mr. Lockwood;
but I couldn't give my word for any. I stated before that I didn't
know how he gained his money; neither am I aware of the means he
took to raise his mind from the savage ignorance into which it was
sunk: but, with your leave, I'll proceed in my own fashion, if you
think it will amuse and not weary you. Are you feeling better this
'That's good news.'
I got Miss Catherine and myself to Thrushcross Grange; and, to my
agreeable disappointment, she behaved infinitely better than I
dared to expect. She seemed almost over-fond of Mr. Linton; and
even to his sister she showed plenty of affection. They were both
very attentive to her comfort, certainly. It was not the thorn
bending to the honeysuckles, but the honeysuckles embracing the
thorn. There were no mutual concessions: one stood erect, and the
others yielded: and who can be ill-natured and bad-tempered when
they encounter neither opposition nor indifference? I observed
that Mr. Edgar had a deep-rooted fear of ruffling her humour. He
concealed it from her; but if ever he heard me answer sharply, or
saw any other servant grow cloudy at some imperious order of hers,
he would show his trouble by a frown of displeasure that never
darkened on his own account. He many a time spoke sternly to me
about my pertness; and averred that the stab of a knife could not
inflict a worse pang than he suffered at seeing his lady vexed.
Not to grieve a kind master, I learned to be less touchy; and, for
the space of half a year, the gunpowder lay as harmless as sand,
because no fire came near to explode it. Catherine had seasons of
gloom and silence now and then: they were respected with
sympathising silence by her husband, who ascribed them to an
alteration in her constitution, produced by her perilous illness;
as she was never subject to depression of spirits before. The
return of sunshine was welcomed by answering sunshine from him. I
believe I may assert that they were really in possession of deep
and growing happiness.
It ended. Well, we MUST be for ourselves in the long run; the mild
and generous are only more justly selfish than the domineering; and
it ended when circumstances caused each to feel that the one's
interest was not the chief consideration in the other's thoughts.
On a mellow evening in September, I was coming from the garden with
a heavy basket of apples which I had been gathering. It had got
dusk, and the moon looked over the high wall of the court, causing
undefined shadows to lurk in the corners of the numerous projecting
portions of the building. I set my burden on the house-steps by
the kitchen-door, and lingered to rest, and drew in a few more
breaths of the soft, sweet air; my eyes were on the moon, and my
back to the entrance, when I heard a voice behind me say, - 'Nelly,
is that you?'
It was a deep voice, and foreign in tone; yet there was something
in the manner of pronouncing my name which made it sound familiar.
I turned about to discover who spoke, fearfully; for the doors were
shut, and I had seen nobody on approaching the steps. Something
stirred in the porch; and, moving nearer, I distinguished a tall
man dressed in dark clothes, with dark face and hair. He leant
against the side, and held his fingers on the latch as if intending
to open for himself. 'Who can it be?' I thought. 'Mr. Earnshaw?
Oh, no! The voice has no resemblance to his.'
'I have waited here an hour,' he resumed, while I continued
staring; 'and the whole of that time all round has been as still as
death. I dared not enter. You do not know me? Look, I'm not a
A ray fell on his features; the cheeks were sallow, and half
covered with black whiskers; the brows lowering, the eyes deep-set
and singular. I remembered the eyes.
'What!' I cried, uncertain whether to regard him as a worldly
visitor, and I raised my hands in amazement. 'What! you come back?
Is it really you? Is it?'
'Yes, Heathcliff,' he replied, glancing from me up to the windows,
which reflected a score of glittering moons, but showed no lights
from within. 'Are they at home? where is she? Nelly, you are not
glad! you needn't be so disturbed. Is she here? Speak! I want to
have one word with her - your mistress. Go, and say some person
from Gimmerton desires to see her.'
'How will she take it?' I exclaimed. 'What will she do? The
surprise bewilders me - it will put her out of her head! And you
ARE Heathcliff! But altered! Nay, there's no comprehending it.
Have you been for a soldier?'
'Go and carry my message,' he interrupted, impatiently. 'I'm in
hell till you do!'
He lifted the latch, and I entered; but when I got to the parlour
where Mr. and Mrs. Linton were, I could not persuade myself to
proceed. At length I resolved on making an excuse to ask if they
would have the candles lighted, and I opened the door.
They sat together in a window whose lattice lay back against the
wall, and displayed, beyond the garden trees, and the wild green
park, the valley of Gimmerton, with a long line of mist winding
nearly to its top (for very soon after you pass the chapel, as you
may have noticed, the sough that runs from the marshes joins a beck
which follows the bend of the glen). Wuthering Heights rose above
this silvery vapour; but our old house was invisible; it rather
dips down on the other side. Both the room and its occupants, and
the scene they gazed on, looked wondrously peaceful. I shrank
reluctantly from performing my errand; and was actually going away
leaving it unsaid, after having put my question about the candles,
when a sense of my folly compelled me to return, and mutter, 'A
person from Gimmerton wishes to see you ma'am.'
'What does he want?' asked Mrs. Linton.
'I did not question him,' I answered.
'Well, close the curtains, Nelly,' she said; 'and bring up tea.
I'll be back again directly.'
She quitted the apartment; Mr. Edgar inquired, carelessly, who it
'Some one mistress does not expect,' I replied. 'That Heathcliff -
you recollect him, sir - who used to live at Mr. Earnshaw's.'
'What! the gipsy - the ploughboy?' he cried. 'Why did you not say
so to Catherine?'
'Hush! you must not call him by those names, master,' I said.
'She'd be sadly grieved to hear you. She was nearly heartbroken
when he ran off. I guess his return will make a jubilee to her.'
Mr. Linton walked to a window on the other side of the room that
overlooked the court. He unfastened it, and leant out. I suppose
they were below, for he exclaimed quickly: 'Don't stand there,
love! Bring the person in, if it be anyone particular.' Ere long,
I heard the click of the latch, and Catherine flew up-stairs,
breathless and wild; too excited to show gladness: indeed, by her
face, you would rather have surmised an awful calamity.
'Oh, Edgar, Edgar!' she panted, flinging her arms round his neck.
'Oh, Edgar darling! Heathcliff's come back - he is!' And she
tightened her embrace to a squeeze.
'Well, well,' cried her husband, crossly, 'don't strangle me for
that! He never struck me as such a marvellous treasure. There is
no need to be frantic!'
'I know you didn't like him,' she answered, repressing a little the
intensity of her delight. 'Yet, for my sake, you must be friends
now. Shall I tell him to come up?'
'Here,' he said, 'into the parlour?'
'Where else?' she asked.
He looked vexed, and suggested the kitchen as a more suitable place
for him. Mrs. Linton eyed him with a droll expression - half
angry, half laughing at his fastidiousness.
'No,' she added, after a while; 'I cannot sit in the kitchen. Set
two tables here, Ellen: one for your master and Miss Isabella,
being gentry; the other for Heathcliff and myself, being of the
lower orders. Will that please you, dear? Or must I have a fire
lighted elsewhere? If so, give directions. I'll run down and
secure my guest. I'm afraid the joy is too great to be real!'
She was about to dart off again; but Edgar arrested her.
'YOU bid him step up,' he said, addressing me; 'and, Catherine, try
to be glad, without being absurd. The whole household need not
witness the sight of your welcoming a runaway servant as a
I descended, and found Heathcliff waiting under the porch,
evidently anticipating an invitation to enter. He followed my
guidance without waste of words, and I ushered him into the
presence of the master and mistress, whose flushed cheeks betrayed
signs of warm talking. But the lady's glowed with another feeling
when her friend appeared at the door: she sprang forward, took
both his hands, and led him to Linton; and then she seized Linton's
reluctant fingers and crushed them into his. Now, fully revealed
by the fire and candlelight, I was amazed, more than ever, to
behold the transformation of Heathcliff. He had grown a tall,
athletic, well-formed man; beside whom my master seemed quite
slender and youth-like. His upright carriage suggested the idea of
his having been in the army. His countenance was much older in
expression and decision of feature than Mr. Linton's; it looked
intelligent, and retained no marks of former degradation. A half-
civilised ferocity lurked yet in the depressed brows and eyes full
of black fire, but it was subdued; and his manner was even
dignified: quite divested of roughness, though stern for grace.
My master's surprise equalled or exceeded mine: he remained for a
minute at a loss how to address the ploughboy, as he had called
him. Heathcliff dropped his slight hand, and stood looking at him
coolly till he chose to speak.
'Sit down, sir,' he said, at length. 'Mrs. Linton, recalling old
times, would have me give you a cordial reception; and, of course,
I am gratified when anything occurs to please her.'
'And I also,' answered Heathcliff, 'especially if it be anything in
which I have a part. I shall stay an hour or two willingly.'
He took a seat opposite Catherine, who kept her gaze fixed on him
as if she feared he would vanish were she to remove it. He did not
raise his to her often: a quick glance now and then sufficed; but
it flashed back, each time more confidently, the undisguised
delight he drank from hers. They were too much absorbed in their
mutual joy to suffer embarrassment. Not so Mr. Edgar: he grew
pale with pure annoyance: a feeling that reached its climax when
his lady rose, and stepping across the rug, seized Heathcliff's
hands again, and laughed like one beside herself.
'I shall think it a dream to-morrow!' she cried. 'I shall not be
able to believe that I have seen, and touched, and spoken to you
once more. And yet, cruel Heathcliff! you don't deserve this
welcome. To be absent and silent for three years, and never to
think of me!'
'A little more than you have thought of me,' he murmured. 'I heard
of your marriage, Cathy, not long since; and, while waiting in the
yard below, I meditated this plan - just to have one glimpse of
your face, a stare of surprise, perhaps, and pretended pleasure;
afterwards settle my score with Hindley; and then prevent the law
by doing execution on myself. Your welcome has put these ideas out
of my mind; but beware of meeting me with another aspect next time!
Nay, you'll not drive me off again. You were really sorry for me,
were you? Well, there was cause. I've fought through a bitter
life since I last heard your voice; and you must forgive me, for I
struggled only for you!'
'Catherine, unless we are to have cold tea, please to come to the
table,' interrupted Linton, striving to preserve his ordinary tone,
and a due measure of politeness. 'Mr. Heathcliff will have a long
walk, wherever he may lodge to-night; and I'm thirsty.'
She took her post before the urn; and Miss Isabella came, summoned
by the bell; then, having handed their chairs forward, I left the
room. The meal hardly endured ten minutes. Catherine's cup was
never filled: she could neither eat nor drink. Edgar had made a
slop in his saucer, and scarcely swallowed a mouthful. Their guest
did not protract his stay that evening above an hour longer. I
asked, as he departed, if he went to Gimmerton?
'No, to Wuthering Heights,' he answered: 'Mr. Earnshaw invited me,
when I called this morning.'
Mr. Earnshaw invited HIM! and HE called on Mr. Earnshaw! I
pondered this sentence painfully, after he was gone. Is he turning
out a bit of a hypocrite, and coming into the country to work
mischief under a cloak? I mused: I had a presentiment in the
bottom of my heart that he had better have remained away.
About the middle of the night, I was wakened from my first nap by
Mrs. Linton gliding into my chamber, taking a seat on my bedside,
and pulling me by the hair to rouse me.
'I cannot rest, Ellen,' she said, by way of apology. 'And I want
some living creature to keep me company in my happiness! Edgar is
sulky, because I'm glad of a thing that does not interest him: he
refuses to open his mouth, except to utter pettish, silly speeches;
and he affirmed I was cruel and selfish for wishing to talk when he
was so sick and sleepy. He always contrives to be sick at the
least cross! I gave a few sentences of commendation to Heathcliff,
and he, either for a headache or a pang of envy, began to cry: so
I got up and left him.'
'What use is it praising Heathcliff to him?' I answered. 'As lads
they had an aversion to each other, and Heathcliff would hate just
as much to hear him praised: it's human nature. Let Mr. Linton
alone about him, unless you would like an open quarrel between
'But does it not show great weakness?' pursued she. 'I'm not
envious: I never feel hurt at the brightness of Isabella's yellow
hair and the whiteness of her skin, at her dainty elegance, and the
fondness all the family exhibit for her. Even you, Nelly, if we
have a dispute sometimes, you back Isabella at once; and I yield
like a foolish mother: I call her a darling, and flatter her into
a good temper. It pleases her brother to see us cordial, and that
pleases me. But they are very much alike: they are spoiled
children, and fancy the world was made for their accommodation; and
though I humour both, I think a smart chastisement might improve
them all the same.'
'You're mistaken, Mrs. Linton,' said I. 'They humour you: I know
what there would be to do if they did not. You can well afford to
indulge their passing whims as long as their business is to
anticipate all your desires. You may, however, fall out, at last,
over something of equal consequence to both sides; and then those
you term weak are very capable of being as obstinate as you.'
'And then we shall fight to the death, sha'n't we, Nelly?' she
returned, laughing. 'No! I tell you, I have such faith in Linton's
love, that I believe I might kill him, and he wouldn't wish to
I advised her to value him the more for his affection.
'I do,' she answered, 'but he needn't resort to whining for
trifles. It is childish and, instead of melting into tears because
I said that Heathcliff was now worthy of anyone's regard, and it
would honour the first gentleman in the country to be his friend,
he ought to have said it for me, and been delighted from sympathy.
He must get accustomed to him, and he may as well like him:
considering how Heathcliff has reason to object to him, I'm sure he
'What do you think of his going to Wuthering Heights?' I inquired.
'He is reformed in every respect, apparently: quite a Christian:
offering the right hand of fellowship to his enemies all around!'
'He explained it,' she replied. 'I wonder as much as you. He said
he called to gather information concerning me from you, supposing
you resided there still; and Joseph told Hindley, who came out and
fell to questioning him of what he had been doing, and how he had
been living; and finally, desired him to walk in. There were some
persons sitting at cards; Heathcliff joined them; my brother lost
some money to him, and, finding him plentifully supplied, he
requested that he would come again in the evening: to which he
consented. Hindley is too reckless to select his acquaintance
prudently: he doesn't trouble himself to reflect on the causes he
might have for mistrusting one whom he has basely injured. But
Heathcliff affirms his principal reason for resuming a connection
with his ancient persecutor is a wish to instal himself in quarters
at walking distance from the Grange, and an attachment to the house
where we lived together; and likewise a hope that I shall have more
opportunities of seeing him there than I could have if he settled
in Gimmerton. He means to offer liberal payment for permission to
lodge at the Heights; and doubtless my brother's covetousness will
prompt him to accept the terms: he was always greedy; though what
he grasps with one hand he flings away with the other.'
'It's a nice place for a young man to fix his dwelling in!' said I.
'Have you no fear of the consequences, Mrs. Linton?'
'None for my friend,' she replied: 'his strong head will keep him
from danger; a little for Hindley: but he can't be made morally
worse than he is; and I stand between him and bodily harm. The
event of this evening has reconciled me to God and humanity! I had
risen in angry rebellion against Providence. Oh, I've endured
very, very bitter misery, Nelly! If that creature knew how bitter,
he'd be ashamed to cloud its removal with idle petulance. It was
kindness for him which induced me to bear it alone: had I
expressed the agony I frequently felt, he would have been taught to
long for its alleviation as ardently as I. However, it's over, and
I'll take no revenge on his folly; I can afford to suffer anything
hereafter! Should the meanest thing alive slap me on the cheek,
I'd not only turn the other, but I'd ask pardon for provoking it;
and, as a proof, I'll go make my peace with Edgar instantly. Good-
night! I'm an angel!'
In this self-complacent conviction she departed; and the success of
her fulfilled resolution was obvious on the morrow: Mr. Linton had
not only abjured his peevishness (though his spirits seemed still
subdued by Catherine's exuberance of vivacity), but he ventured no
objection to her taking Isabella with her to Wuthering Heights in
the afternoon; and she rewarded him with such a summer of sweetness
and affection in return as made the house a paradise for several
days; both master and servants profiting from the perpetual
Heathcliff - Mr. Heathcliff I should say in future - used the
liberty of visiting at Thrushcross Grange cautiously, at first: he
seemed estimating how far its owner would bear his intrusion.
Catherine, also, deemed it judicious to moderate her expressions of
pleasure in receiving him; and he gradually established his right
to be expected. He retained a great deal of the reserve for which
his boyhood was remarkable; and that served to repress all
startling demonstrations of feeling. My master's uneasiness
experienced a lull, and further circumstances diverted it into
another channel for a space.
His new source of trouble sprang from the not anticipated
misfortune of Isabella Linton evincing a sudden and irresistible
attraction towards the tolerated guest. She was at that time a
charming young lady of eighteen; infantile in manners, though
possessed of keen wit, keen feelings, and a keen temper, too, if
irritated. Her brother, who loved her tenderly, was appalled at
this fantastic preference. Leaving aside the degradation of an
alliance with a nameless man, and the possible fact that his
property, in default of heirs male, might pass into such a one's
power, he had sense to comprehend Heathcliff's disposition: to
know that, though his exterior was altered, his mind was
unchangeable and unchanged. And he dreaded that mind: it revolted
him: he shrank forebodingly from the idea of committing Isabella
to its keeping. He would have recoiled still more had he been
aware that her attachment rose unsolicited, and was bestowed where
it awakened no reciprocation of sentiment; for the minute he
discovered its existence he laid the blame on Heathcliff's
We had all remarked, during some time, that Miss Linton fretted and
pined over something. She grew cross and wearisome; snapping at
and teasing Catherine continually, at the imminent risk of
exhausting her limited patience. We excused her, to a certain
extent, on the plea of ill-health: she was dwindling and fading
before our eyes. But one day, when she had been peculiarly
wayward, rejecting her breakfast, complaining that the servants did
not do what she told them; that the mistress would allow her to be
nothing in the house, and Edgar neglected her; that she had caught
a cold with the doors being left open, and we let the parlour fire
go out on purpose to vex her, with a hundred yet more frivolous
accusations, Mrs. Linton peremptorily insisted that she should get
to bed; and, having scolded her heartily, threatened to send for
the doctor. Mention of Kenneth caused her to exclaim, instantly,
that her health was perfect, and it was only Catherine's harshness
which made her unhappy.
'How can you say I am harsh, you naughty fondling?' cried the
mistress, amazed at the unreasonable assertion. 'You are surely
losing your reason. When have I been hash, tell me?'
'Yesterday,' sobbed Isabella, 'and now!'
'Yesterday!' said her sister-in-law. 'On what occasion?'
'In our walk along the moor: you told me to ramble where I
pleased, while you sauntered on with Mr. Heathcliff?'
'And that's your notion of harshness?' said Catherine, laughing.
'It was no hint that your company was superfluous? We didn't care
whether you kept with us or not; I merely thought Heathcliff's talk
would have nothing entertaining for your ears.'
'Oh, no,' wept the young lady; 'you wished me away, because you
knew I liked to be there!'
'Is she sane?' asked Mrs. Linton, appealing to me. 'I'll repeat
our conversation, word for word, Isabella; and you point out any
charm it could have had for you.'
'I don't mind the conversation,' she answered: 'I wanted to be
with - '
"Well?' said Catherine, perceiving her hesitate to complete the
'With him: and I won't be always sent off!' she continued,
kindling up. 'You are a dog in the manger, Cathy, and desire no
one to be loved but yourself!'
'You are an impertinent little monkey!' exclaimed Mrs. Linton, in
surprise. 'But I'll not believe this idiotcy! It is impossible
that you can covet the admiration of Heathcliff - that you consider
him an agreeable person! I hope I have misunderstood you,
'No, you have not,' said the infatuated girl. 'I love him more
than ever you loved Edgar, and he might love me, if you would let
'I wouldn't be you for a kingdom, then!' Catherine declared,
emphatically: and she seemed to speak sincerely. 'Nelly, help me
to convince her of her madness. Tell her what Heathcliff is: an
unreclaimed creature, without refinement, without cultivation; an
arid wilderness of furze and whinstone. I'd as soon put that
little canary into the park on a winter's day, as recommend you to
bestow your heart on him! It is deplorable ignorance of his
character, child, and nothing else, which makes that dream enter
your head. Pray, don't imagine that he conceals depths of
benevolence and affection beneath a stern exterior! He's not a
rough diamond - a pearl-containing oyster of a rustic: he's a
fierce, pitiless, wolfish man. I never say to him, "Let this or
that enemy alone, because it would be ungenerous or cruel to harm
them;" I say, "Let them alone, because I should hate them to be
wronged:" and he'd crush you like a sparrow's egg, Isabella, if he
found you a troublesome charge. I know he couldn't love a Linton;
and yet he'd be quite capable of marrying your fortune and
expectations: avarice is growing with him a besetting sin.
There's my picture: and I'm his friend - so much so, that had he
thought seriously to catch you, I should, perhaps, have held my
tongue, and let you fall into his trap.'
Miss Linton regarded her sister-in-law with indignation.
'For shame! for shame!' she repeated, angrily. 'You are worse than
twenty foes, you poisonous friend!'
'Ah! you won't believe me, then?' said Catherine. 'You think I
speak from wicked selfishness?'
'I'm certain you do,' retorted Isabella; 'and I shudder at you!'
'Good!' cried the other. 'Try for yourself, if that be your
spirit: I have done, and yield the argument to your saucy
'And I must suffer for her egotism!' she sobbed, as Mrs. Linton
left the room. 'All, all is against me: she has blighted my
single consolation. But she uttered falsehoods, didn't she? Mr.
Heathcliff is not a fiend: he has an honourable soul, and a true
one, or how could he remember her?'
'Banish him from your thoughts, Miss,' I said. 'He's a bird of bad
omen: no mate for you. Mrs. Linton spoke strongly, and yet I
can't contradict her. She is better acquainted with his heart than
I, or any one besides; and she never would represent him as worse
than he is. Honest people don't hide their deeds. How has he been
living? how has he got rich? why is he staying at Wuthering
Heights, the house of a man whom he abhors? They say Mr. Earnshaw
is worse and worse since he came. They sit up all night together
continually, and Hindley has been borrowing money on his land, and
does nothing but play and drink: I heard only a week ago - it was
Joseph who told me - I met him at Gimmerton: "Nelly," he said,
"we's hae a crowner's 'quest enow, at ahr folks'. One on 'em 's
a'most getten his finger cut off wi' hauding t' other fro' stickin'
hisseln loike a cawlf. That's maister, yeah knaw, 'at 's soa up o'
going tuh t' grand 'sizes. He's noan feared o' t' bench o' judges,
norther Paul, nur Peter, nur John, nur Matthew, nor noan on 'em,
not he! He fair likes - he langs to set his brazened face agean
'em! And yon bonny lad Heathcliff, yah mind, he's a rare 'un. He
can girn a laugh as well 's onybody at a raight divil's jest. Does
he niver say nowt of his fine living amang us, when he goes to t'
Grange? This is t' way on 't:- up at sun-down: dice, brandy,
cloised shutters, und can'le-light till next day at noon: then,
t'fooil gangs banning und raving to his cham'er, makking dacent
fowks dig thur fingers i' thur lugs fur varry shame; un' the knave,
why he can caint his brass, un' ate, un' sleep, un' off to his
neighbour's to gossip wi' t' wife. I' course, he tells Dame
Catherine how her fathur's goold runs into his pocket, and her
fathur's son gallops down t' broad road, while he flees afore to
oppen t' pikes!" Now, Miss Linton, Joseph is an old rascal, but no
liar; and, if his account of Heathcliff's conduct be true, you
would never think of desiring such a husband, would you?'
'You are leagued with the rest, Ellen!' she replied. 'I'll not
listen to your slanders. What malevolence you must have to wish to
convince me that there is no happiness in the world!'
Whether she would have got over this fancy if left to herself, or
persevered in nursing it perpetually, I cannot say: she had little
time to reflect. The day after, there was a justice-meeting at the
next town; my master was obliged to attend; and Mr. Heathcliff,
aware of his absence, called rather earlier than usual. Catherine
and Isabella were sitting in the library, on hostile terms, but
silent: the latter alarmed at her recent indiscretion, and the
disclosure she had made of her secret feelings in a transient fit
of passion; the former, on mature consideration, really offended
with her companion; and, if she laughed again at her pertness,
inclined to make it no laughing matter to her. She did laugh as
she saw Heathcliff pass the window. I was sweeping the hearth, and
I noticed a mischievous smile on her lips. Isabella, absorbed in
her meditations, or a book, remained till the door opened; and it
was too late to attempt an escape, which she would gladly have done
had it been practicable.
'Come in, that's right!' exclaimed the mistress, gaily, pulling a
chair to the fire. 'Here are two people sadly in need of a third
to thaw the ice between them; and you are the very one we should
both of us choose. Heathcliff, I'm proud to show you, at last,
somebody that dotes on you more than myself. I expect you to feel
flattered. Nay, it's not Nelly; don't look at her! My poor little
sister-in-law is breaking her heart by mere contemplation of your
physical and moral beauty. It lies in your own power to be Edgar's
brother! No, no, Isabella, you sha'n't run off,' she continued,
arresting, with feigned playfulness, the confounded girl, who had
risen indignantly. 'We were quarrelling like cats about you,
Heathcliff; and I was fairly beaten in protestations of devotion
and admiration: and, moreover, I was informed that if I would but
have the manners to stand aside, my rival, as she will have herself
to be, would shoot a shaft into your soul that would fix you for
ever, and send my image into eternal oblivion!'
'Catherine!' said Isabella, calling up her dignity, and disdaining
to struggle from the tight grasp that held her, 'I'd thank you to
adhere to the truth and not slander me, even in joke! Mr.
Heathcliff, be kind enough to bid this friend of yours release me:
she forgets that you and I are not intimate acquaintances; and what
amuses her is painful to me beyond expression.'
As the guest answered nothing, but took his seat, and looked
thoroughly indifferent what sentiments she cherished concerning
him, she turned and whispered an earnest appeal for liberty to her
'By no means!' cried Mrs. Linton in answer. 'I won't be named a
dog in the manger again. You SHALL stay: now then! Heathcliff,
why don't you evince satisfaction at my pleasant news? Isabella
swears that the love Edgar has for me is nothing to that she
entertains for you. I'm sure she made some speech of the kind; did
she not, Ellen? And she has fasted ever since the day before
yesterday's walk, from sorrow and rage that I despatched her out of
your society under the idea of its being unacceptable.'
'I think you belie her,' said Heathcliff, twisting his chair to
face them. 'She wishes to be out of my society now, at any rate!'
And he stared hard at the object of discourse, as one might do at a
strange repulsive animal: a centipede from the Indies, for
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