Part 3 out of 7
instance, which curiosity leads one to examine in spite of the
aversion it raises. The poor thing couldn't bear that; she grew
white and red in rapid succession, and, while tears beaded her
lashes, bent the strength of her small fingers to loosen the firm
clutch of Catherine; and perceiving that as fast as she raised one
finger off her arm another closed down, and she could not remove
the whole together, she began to make use of her nails; and their
sharpness presently ornamented the detainer's with crescents of
'There's a tigress!' exclaimed Mrs. Linton, setting her free, and
shaking her hand with pain. 'Begone, for God's sake, and hide your
vixen face! How foolish to reveal those talons to him. Can't you
fancy the conclusions he'll draw? Look, Heathcliff! they are
instruments that will do execution - you must beware of your eyes.'
'I'd wrench them off her fingers, if they ever menaced me,' he
answered, brutally, when the door had closed after her. 'But what
did you mean by teasing the creature in that manner, Cathy? You
were not speaking the truth, were you?'
'I assure you I was,' she returned. 'She has been dying for your
sake several weeks, and raving about you this morning, and pouring
forth a deluge of abuse, because I represented your failings in a
plain light, for the purpose of mitigating her adoration. But
don't notice it further: I wished to punish her sauciness, that's
all. I like her too well, my dear Heathcliff, to let you
absolutely seize and devour her up.'
'And I like her too ill to attempt it,' said he, 'except in a very
ghoulish fashion. You'd hear of odd things if I lived alone with
that mawkish, waxen face: the most ordinary would be painting on
its white the colours of the rainbow, and turning the blue eyes
black, every day or two: they detestably resemble Linton's.'
'Delectably!' observed Catherine. 'They are dove's eyes -
'She's her brother's heir, is she not?' he asked, after a brief
'I should be sorry to think so,' returned his companion. 'Half a
dozen nephews shall erase her title, please heaven! Abstract your
mind from the subject at present: you are too prone to covet your
neighbour's goods; remember THIS neighbour's goods are mine.'
'If they were MINE, they would be none the less that,' said
Heathcliff; 'but though Isabella Linton may be silly, she is
scarcely mad; and, in short, we'll dismiss the matter, as you
From their tongues they did dismiss it; and Catherine, probably,
from her thoughts. The other, I felt certain, recalled it often in
the course of the evening. I saw him smile to himself - grin
rather - and lapse into ominous musing whenever Mrs. Linton had
occasion to be absent from the apartment.
I determined to watch his movements. My heart invariably cleaved
to the master's, in preference to Catherine's side: with reason I
imagined, for he was kind, and trustful, and honourable; and she -
she could not be called OPPOSITE, yet she seemed to allow herself
such wide latitude, that I had little faith in her principles, and
still less sympathy for her feelings. I wanted something to happen
which might have the effect of freeing both Wuthering Heights and
the Grange of Mr. Heathcliff quietly; leaving us as we had been
prior to his advent. His visits were a continual nightmare to me;
and, I suspected, to my master also. His abode at the Heights was
an oppression past explaining. I felt that God had forsaken the
stray sheep there to its own wicked wanderings, and an evil beast
prowled between it and the fold, waiting his time to spring and
SOMETIMES, while meditating on these things in solitude, I've got
up in a sudden terror, and put on my bonnet to go see how all was
at the farm. I've persuaded my conscience that it was a duty to
warn him how people talked regarding his ways; and then I've
recollected his confirmed bad habits, and, hopeless of benefiting
him, have flinched from re-entering the dismal house, doubting if I
could bear to be taken at my word.
One time I passed the old gate, going out of my way, on a journey
to Gimmerton. It was about the period that my narrative has
reached: a bright frosty afternoon; the ground bare, and the road
hard and dry. I came to a stone where the highway branches off on
to the moor at your left hand; a rough sand-pillar, with the
letters W. H. cut on its north side, on the east, G., and on the
south-west, T. G. It serves as a guide-post to the Grange, the
Heights, and village. The sun shone yellow on its grey head,
reminding me of summer; and I cannot say why, but all at once a
gush of child's sensations flowed into my heart. Hindley and I
held it a favourite spot twenty years before. I gazed long at the
weather-worn block; and, stooping down, perceived a hole near the
bottom still full of snail-shells and pebbles, which we were fond
of storing there with more perishable things; and, as fresh as
reality, it appeared that I beheld my early playmate seated on the
withered turf: his dark, square head bent forward, and his little
hand scooping out the earth with a piece of slate. 'Poor Hindley!'
I exclaimed, involuntarily. I started: my bodily eye was cheated
into a momentary belief that the child lifted its face and stared
straight into mine! It vanished in a twinkling; but immediately I
felt an irresistible yearning to be at the Heights. Superstition
urged me to comply with this impulse: supposing he should be dead!
I thought - or should die soon! - supposing it were a sign of
death! The nearer I got to the house the more agitated I grew; and
on catching sight of it I trembled in every limb. The apparition
had outstripped me: it stood looking through the gate. That was
my first idea on observing an elf-locked, brown-eyed boy setting
his ruddy countenance against the bars. Further reflection
suggested this must be Hareton, MY Hareton, not altered greatly
since I left him, ten months since.
'God bless thee, darling!' I cried, forgetting instantaneously my
foolish fears. 'Hareton, it's Nelly! Nelly, thy nurse.'
He retreated out of arm's length, and picked up a large flint.
'I am come to see thy father, Hareton,' I added, guessing from the
action that Nelly, if she lived in his memory at all, was not
recognised as one with me.
He raised his missile to hurl it; I commenced a soothing speech,
but could not stay his hand: the stone struck my bonnet; and then
ensued, from the stammering lips of the little fellow, a string of
curses, which, whether he comprehended them or not, were delivered
with practised emphasis, and distorted his baby features into a
shocking expression of malignity. You may be certain this grieved
more than angered me. Fit to cry, I took an orange from my pocket,
and offered it to propitiate him. He hesitated, and then snatched
it from my hold; as if he fancied I only intended to tempt and
disappoint him. I showed another, keeping it out of his reach.
'Who has taught you those fine words, my bairn?' I inquired. 'The
'Damn the curate, and thee! Gie me that,' he replied.
'Tell us where you got your lessons, and you shall have it,' said
I. 'Who's your master?'
'Devil daddy,' was his answer.
'And what do you learn from daddy?' I continued.
He jumped at the fruit; I raised it higher. 'What does he teach
you?' I asked.
'Naught,' said he, 'but to keep out of his gait. Daddy cannot bide
me, because I swear at him.'
'Ah! and the devil teaches you to swear at daddy?' I observed.
'Ay - nay,' he drawled.
'I asked if he liked Mr. Heathcliff.'
'Ay!' he answered again.
Desiring to have his reasons for liking him, I could only gather
the sentences - 'I known't: he pays dad back what he gies to me -
he curses daddy for cursing me. He says I mun do as I will.'
'And the curate does not teach you to read and write, then?' I
'No, I was told the curate should have his - teeth dashed down his
- throat, if he stepped over the threshold - Heathcliff had
I put the orange in his hand, and bade him tell his father that a
woman called Nelly Dean was waiting to speak with him, by the
garden gate. He went up the walk, and entered the house; but,
instead of Hindley, Heathcliff appeared on the door-stones; and I
turned directly and ran down the road as hard as ever I could race,
making no halt till I gained the guide-post, and feeling as scared
as if I had raised a goblin. This is not much connected with Miss
Isabella's affair: except that it urged me to resolve further on
mounting vigilant guard, and doing my utmost to cheek the spread of
such bad influence at the Grange: even though I should wake a
domestic storm, by thwarting Mrs. Linton's pleasure.
The next time Heathcliff came my young lady chanced to be feeding
some pigeons in the court. She had never spoken a word to her
sister-in-law for three days; but she had likewise dropped her
fretful complaining, and we found it a great comfort. Heathcliff
had not the habit of bestowing a single unnecessary civility on
Miss Linton, I knew. Now, as soon as he beheld her, his first
precaution was to take a sweeping survey of the house-front. I was
standing by the kitchen-window, but I drew out of sight. He then
stepped across the pavement to her, and said something: she seemed
embarrassed, and desirous of getting away; to prevent it, he laid
his hand on her arm. She averted her face: he apparently put some
question which she had no mind to answer. There was another rapid
glance at the house, and supposing himself unseen, the scoundrel
had the impudence to embrace her.
'Judas! Traitor!' I ejaculated. 'You are a hypocrite, too, are
you? A deliberate deceiver.'
'Who is, Nelly?' said Catherine's voice at my elbow: I had been
over-intent on watching the pair outside to mark her entrance.
'Your worthless friend!' I answered, warmly: 'the sneaking rascal
yonder. Ah, he has caught a glimpse of us - he is coming in! I
wonder will he have the heart to find a plausible excuse for making
love to Miss, when he told you he hated her?'
Mrs. Linton saw Isabella tear herself free, and run into the
garden; and a minute after, Heathcliff opened the door. I couldn't
withhold giving some loose to my indignation; but Catherine angrily
insisted on silence, and threatened to order me out of the kitchen,
if I dared to be so presumptuous as to put in my insolent tongue.
'To hear you, people might think you were the mistress!' she cried.
'You want setting down in your right place! Heathcliff, what are
you about, raising this stir? I said you must let Isabella alone!
- I beg you will, unless you are tired of being received here, and
wish Linton to draw the bolts against you!'
'God forbid that he should try!' answered the black villain. I
detested him just then. 'God keep him meek and patient! Every day
I grow madder after sending him to heaven!'
'Hush!' said Catherine, shutting the inner door! 'Don't vex me.
Why have you disregarded my request? Did she come across you on
'What is it to you?' he growled. 'I have a right to kiss her, if
she chooses; and you have no right to object. I am not YOUR
husband: YOU needn't be jealous of me!'
'I'm not jealous of you,' replied the mistress; 'I'm jealous for
you. Clear your face: you sha'n't scowl at me! If you like
Isabella, you shall marry her. But do you like her? Tell the
truth, Heathcliff! There, you won't answer. I'm certain you
'And would Mr. Linton approve of his sister marrying that man?' I
'Mr. Linton should approve,' returned my lady, decisively.
'He might spare himself the trouble,' said Heathcliff: 'I could do
as well without his approbation. And as to you, Catherine, I have
a mind to speak a few words now, while we are at it. I want you to
be aware that I KNOW you have treated me infernally - infernally!
Do you hear? And if you flatter yourself that I don't perceive it,
you are a fool; and if you think I can be consoled by sweet words,
you are an idiot: and if you fancy I'll suffer unrevenged, I'll
convince you of the contrary, in a very little while! Meantime,
thank you for telling me your sister-in-law's secret: I swear I'll
make the most of it. And stand you aside!'
'What new phase of his character is this?' exclaimed Mrs. Linton,
in amazement. 'I've treated you infernally - and you'll take your
revenge! How will you take it, ungrateful brute? How have I
treated you infernally?'
'I seek no revenge on you,' replied Heathcliff, less vehemently.
'That's not the plan. The tyrant grinds down his slaves and they
don't turn against him; they crush those beneath them. You are
welcome to torture me to death for your amusement, only allow me to
amuse myself a little in the same style, and refrain from insult as
much as you are able. Having levelled my palace, don't erect a
hovel and complacently admire your own charity in giving me that
for a home. If I imagined you really wished me to marry Isabel,
I'd cut my throat!'
'Oh, the evil is that I am NOT jealous, is it?' cried Catherine.
'Well, I won't repeat my offer of a wife: it is as bad as offering
Satan a lost soul. Your bliss lies, like his, in inflicting
misery. You prove it. Edgar is restored from the ill-temper he
gave way to at your coming; I begin to be secure and tranquil; and
you, restless to know us at peace, appear resolved on exciting a
quarrel. Quarrel with Edgar, if you please, Heathcliff, and
deceive his sister: you'll hit on exactly the most efficient
method of revenging yourself on me.'
The conversation ceased. Mrs. Linton sat down by the fire, flushed
and gloomy. The spirit which served her was growing intractable:
she could neither lay nor control it. He stood on the hearth with
folded arms, brooding on his evil thoughts; and in this position I
left them to seek the master, who was wondering what kept Catherine
below so long.
'Ellen,' said he, when I entered, 'have you seen your mistress?'
'Yes; she's in the kitchen, sir,' I answered. 'She's sadly put out
by Mr. Heathcliff's behaviour: and, indeed, I do think it's time
to arrange his visits on another footing. There's harm in being
too soft, and now it's come to this - .' And I related the scene
in the court, and, as near as I dared, the whole subsequent
dispute. I fancied it could not be very prejudicial to Mrs.
Linton; unless she made it so afterwards, by assuming the defensive
for her guest. Edgar Linton had difficulty in hearing me to the
close. His first words revealed that he did not clear his wife of
'This is insufferable!' he exclaimed. 'It is disgraceful that she
should own him for a friend, and force his company on me! Call me
two men out of the hall, Ellen. Catherine shall linger no longer
to argue with the low ruffian - I have humoured her enough.'
He descended, and bidding the servants wait in the passage, went,
followed by me, to the kitchen. Its occupants had recommenced
their angry discussion: Mrs. Linton, at least, was scolding with
renewed vigour; Heathcliff had moved to the window, and hung his
head, somewhat cowed by her violent rating apparently. He saw the
master first, and made a hasty motion that she should be silent;
which she obeyed, abruptly, on discovering the reason of his
'How is this?' said Linton, addressing her; 'what notion of
propriety must you have to remain here, after the language which
has been held to you by that blackguard? I suppose, because it is
his ordinary talk you think nothing of it: you are habituated to
his baseness, and, perhaps, imagine I can get used to it too!'
'Have you been listening at the door, Edgar?' asked the mistress,
in a tone particularly calculated to provoke her husband, implying
both carelessness and contempt of his irritation. Heathcliff, who
had raised his eyes at the former speech, gave a sneering laugh at
the latter; on purpose, it seemed, to draw Mr. Linton's attention
to him. He succeeded; but Edgar did not mean to entertain him with
any high flights of passion.
'I've been so far forbearing with you, sir,' he said quietly; 'not
that I was ignorant of your miserable, degraded character, but I
felt you were only partly responsible for that; and Catherine
wishing to keep up your acquaintance, I acquiesced - foolishly.
Your presence is a moral poison that would contaminate the most
virtuous: for that cause, and to prevent worse consequences, I
shall deny you hereafter admission into this house, and give notice
now that I require your instant departure. Three minutes' delay
will render it involuntary and ignominious.
Heathcliff measured the height and breadth of the speaker with an
eye full of derision.
'Cathy, this lamb of yours threatens like a bull!' he said. 'It is
in danger of splitting its skull against my knuckles. By God! Mr.
Linton, I'm mortally sorry that you are not worth knocking down!'
My master glanced towards the passage, and signed me to fetch the
men: he had no intention of hazarding a personal encounter. I
obeyed the hint; but Mrs. Linton, suspecting something, followed;
and when I attempted to call them, she pulled me back, slammed the
door to, and locked it.
'Fair means!' she said, in answer to her husband's look of angry
surprise. 'If you have not courage to attack him, make an apology,
or allow yourself to be beaten. It will correct you of feigning
more valour than you possess. No, I'll swallow the key before you
shall get it! I'm delightfully rewarded for my kindness to each!
After constant indulgence of one's weak nature, and the other's bad
one, I earn for thanks two samples of blind ingratitude, stupid to
absurdity! Edgar, I was defending you and yours; and I wish
Heathcliff may flog you sick, for daring to think an evil thought
It did not need the medium of a flogging to produce that effect on
the master. He tried to wrest the key from Catherine's grasp, and
for safety she flung it into the hottest part of the fire;
whereupon Mr. Edgar was taken with a nervous trembling, and his
countenance grew deadly pale. For his life he could not avert that
excess of emotion: mingled anguish and humiliation overcame him
completely. He leant on the back of a chair, and covered his face.
'Oh, heavens! In old days this would win you knighthood!'
exclaimed Mrs. Linton. 'We are vanquished! we are vanquished!
Heathcliff would as soon lift a finger at you as the king would
march his army against a colony of mice. Cheer up! you sha'n't be
hurt! Your type is not a lamb, it's a sucking leveret.'
'I wish you joy of the milk-blooded coward, Cathy!' said her
friend. 'I compliment you on your taste. And that is the
slavering, shivering thing you preferred to me! I would not strike
him with my fist, but I'd kick him with my foot, and experience
considerable satisfaction. Is he weeping, or is he going to faint
The fellow approached and gave the chair on which Linton rested a
push. He'd better have kept his distance: my master quickly
sprang erect, and struck him full on the throat a blow that would
have levelled a slighter man. It took his breath for a minute; and
while he choked, Mr. Linton walked out by the back door into the
yard, and from thence to the front entrance.
'There! you've done with coming here,' cried Catherine. 'Get away,
now; he'll return with a brace of pistols and half-a-dozen
assistants. If he did overhear us, of course he'd never forgive
you. You've played me an ill turn, Heathcliff! But go - make
haste! I'd rather see Edgar at bay than you.'
'Do you suppose I'm going with that blow burning in my gullet?' he
thundered. 'By hell, no! I'll crush his ribs in like a rotten
hazel-nut before I cross the threshold! If I don't floor him now,
I shall murder him some time; so, as you value his existence, let
me get at him!'
'He is not coming,' I interposed, framing a bit of a lie. 'There's
the coachman and the two gardeners; you'll surely not wait to be
thrust into the road by them! Each has a bludgeon; and master
will, very likely, be watching from the parlour-windows to see that
they fulfil his orders.'
The gardeners and coachman were there: but Linton was with them.
They had already entered the court. Heathcliff, on the second
thoughts, resolved to avoid a struggle against three underlings:
he seized the poker, smashed the lock from the inner door, and made
his escape as they tramped in.
Mrs. Linton, who was very much excited, bade me accompany her up-
stairs. She did not know my share in contributing to the
disturbance, and I was anxious to keep her in ignorance.
'I'm nearly distracted, Nelly!' she exclaimed, throwing herself on
the sofa. 'A thousand smiths' hammers are beating in my head!
Tell Isabella to shun me; this uproar is owing to her; and should
she or any one else aggravate my anger at present, I shall get
wild. And, Nelly, say to Edgar, if you see him again to-night,
that I'm in danger of being seriously ill. I wish it may prove
true. He has startled and distressed me shockingly! I want to
frighten him. Besides, he might come and begin a string of abuse
or complainings; I'm certain I should recriminate, and God knows
where we should end! Will you do so, my good Nelly? You are aware
that I am no way blamable in this matter. What possessed him to
turn listener? Heathcliff's talk was outrageous, after you left
us; but I could soon have diverted him from Isabella, and the rest
meant nothing. Now all is dashed wrong; by the fool's craving to
hear evil of self, that haunts some people like a demon! Had Edgar
never gathered our conversation, he would never have been the worse
for it. Really, when he opened on me in that unreasonable tone of
displeasure after I had scolded Heathcliff till I was hoarse for
him, I did not care hardly what they did to each other; especially
as I felt that, however the scene closed, we should all be driven
asunder for nobody knows how long! Well, if I cannot keep
Heathcliff for my friend - if Edgar will be mean and jealous, I'll
try to break their hearts by breaking my own. That will be a
prompt way of finishing all, when I am pushed to extremity! But
it's a deed to be reserved for a forlorn hope; I'd not take Linton
by surprise with it. To this point he has been discreet in
dreading to provoke me; you must represent the peril of quitting
that policy, and remind him of my passionate temper, verging, when
kindled, on frenzy. I wish you could dismiss that apathy out of
that countenance, and look rather more anxious about me.'
The stolidity with which I received these instructions was, no
doubt, rather exasperating: for they were delivered in perfect
sincerity; but I believed a person who could plan the turning of
her fits of passion to account, beforehand, might, by exerting her
will, manage to control herself tolerably, even while under their
influence; and I did not wish to 'frighten' her husband, as she
said, and multiply his annoyances for the purpose of serving her
selfishness. Therefore I said nothing when I met the master coming
towards the parlour; but I took the liberty of turning back to
listen whether they would resume their quarrel together. He began
to speak first.
'Remain where you are, Catherine,' he said; without any anger in
his voice, but with much sorrowful despondency. 'I shall not stay.
I am neither come to wrangle nor be reconciled; but I wish just to
learn whether, after this evening's events, you intend to continue
your intimacy with - '
'Oh, for mercy's sake,' interrupted the mistress, stamping her
foot, 'for mercy's sake, let us hear no more of it now! Your cold
blood cannot be worked into a fever: your veins are full of ice-
water; but mine are boiling, and the sight of such chillness makes
'To get rid of me, answer my question,' persevered Mr. Linton.
'You must answer it; and that violence does not alarm me. I have
found that you can be as stoical as anyone, when you please. Will
you give up Heathcliff hereafter, or will you give up me? It is
impossible for you to be MY friend and HIS at the same time; and I
absolutely REQUIRE to know which you choose.'
'I require to be let alone?' exclaimed Catherine, furiously. 'I
demand it! Don't you see I can scarcely stand? Edgar, you - you
She rang the bell till it broke with a twang; I entered leisurely.
It was enough to try the temper of a saint, such senseless, wicked
rages! There she lay dashing her head against the arm of the sofa,
and grinding her teeth, so that you might fancy she would crash
them to splinters! Mr. Linton stood looking at her in sudden
compunction and fear. He told me to fetch some water. She had no
breath for speaking. I brought a glass full; and as she would not
drink, I sprinkled it on her face. In a few seconds she stretched
herself out stiff, and turned up her eyes, while her cheeks, at
once blanched and livid, assumed the aspect of death. Linton
'There is nothing in the world the matter,' I whispered. I did not
want him to yield, though I could not help being afraid in my
'She has blood on her lips!' he said, shuddering.
'Never mind!' I answered, tartly. And I told him how she had
resolved, previous to his coming, on exhibiting a fit of frenzy. I
incautiously gave the account aloud, and she heard me; for she
started up - her hair flying over her shoulders, her eyes flashing,
the muscles of her neck and arms standing out preternaturally. I
made up my mind for broken bones, at least; but she only glared
about her for an instant, and then rushed from the room. The
master directed me to follow; I did, to her chamber-door: she
hindered me from going further by securing it against me.
As she never offered to descend to breakfast next morning, I went
to ask whether she would have some carried up. 'No!' she replied,
peremptorily. The same question was repeated at dinner and tea;
and again on the morrow after, and received the same answer. Mr.
Linton, on his part, spent his time in the library, and did not
inquire concerning his wife's occupations. Isabella and he had had
an hour's interview, during which he tried to elicit from her some
sentiment of proper horror for Heathcliff's advances: but he could
make nothing of her evasive replies, and was obliged to close the
examination unsatisfactorily; adding, however, a solemn warning,
that if she were so insane as to encourage that worthless suitor,
it would dissolve all bonds of relationship between herself and
WHILE Miss Linton moped about the park and garden, always silent,
and almost always in tears; and her brother shut himself up among
books that he never opened - wearying, I guessed, with a continual
vague expectation that Catherine, repenting her conduct, would come
of her own accord to ask pardon, and seek a reconciliation - and
SHE fasted pertinaciously, under the idea, probably, that at every
meal Edgar was ready to choke for her absence, and pride alone held
him from running to cast himself at her feet; I went about my
household duties, convinced that the Grange had but one sensible
soul in its walls, and that lodged in my body. I wasted no
condolences on Miss, nor any expostulations on my mistress; nor did
I pay much attention to the sighs of my master, who yearned to hear
his lady's name, since he might not hear her voice. I determined
they should come about as they pleased for me; and though it was a
tiresomely slow process, I began to rejoice at length in a faint
dawn of its progress: as I thought at first.
Mrs. Linton, on the third day, unbarred her door, and having
finished the water in her pitcher and decanter, desired a renewed
supply, and a basin of gruel, for she believed she was dying. That
I set down as a speech meant for Edgar's ears; I believed no such
thing, so I kept it to myself and brought her some tea and dry
toast. She ate and drank eagerly, and sank back on her pillow
again, clenching her hands and groaning. 'Oh, I will die,' she
exclaimed, 'since no one cares anything about me. I wish I had not
taken that.' Then a good while after I heard her murmur, 'No, I'll
not die - he'd be glad - he does not love me at all - he would
never miss me!'
'Did you want anything, ma'am?' I inquired, still preserving my
external composure, in spite of her ghastly countenance and
strange, exaggerated manner.
'What is that apathetic being doing?' she demanded, pushing the
thick entangled locks from her wasted face. 'Has he fallen into a
lethargy, or is he dead?'
'Neither,' replied I; 'if you mean Mr. Linton. He's tolerably
well, I think, though his studies occupy him rather more than they
ought: he is continually among his books, since he has no other
I should not have spoken so if I had known her true condition, but
I could not get rid of the notion that she acted a part of her
'Among his books!' she cried, confounded. 'And I dying! I on the
brink of the grave! My God! does he know how I'm altered?'
continued she, staring at her reflection in a mirror hanging
against the opposite wall. 'Is that Catherine Linton? He
imagines me in a pet - in play, perhaps. Cannot you inform him
that it is frightful earnest? Nelly, if it be not too late, as
soon as I learn how he feels, I'll choose between these two:
either to starve at once - that would be no punishment unless he
had a heart - or to recover, and leave the country. Are you
speaking the truth about him now? Take care. Is he actually so
utterly indifferent for my life?'
'Why, ma'am,' I answered, 'the master has no idea of your being
deranged; and of course he does not fear that you will let yourself
die of hunger.'
'You think not? Cannot you tell him I will?' she returned.
'Persuade him! speak of your own mind: say you are certain I
'No, you forget, Mrs. Linton,' I suggested, 'that you have eaten
some food with a relish this evening, and to-morrow you will
perceive its good effects.'
'If I were only sure it would kill him,' she interrupted, 'I'd kill
myself directly! These three awful nights I've never closed my
lids - and oh, I've been tormented! I've been haunted, Nelly! But
I begin to fancy you don't like me. How strange! I thought,
though everybody hated and despised each other, they could not
avoid loving me. And they have all turned to enemies in a few
hours: they have, I'm positive; the people here. How dreary to
meet death, surrounded by their cold faces! Isabella, terrified
and repelled, afraid to enter the room, it would be so dreadful to
watch Catherine go. And Edgar standing solemnly by to see it over;
then offering prayers of thanks to God for restoring peace to his
house, and going back to his BOOKS! What in the name of all that
feels has he to do with BOOKS, when I am dying?'
She could not bear the notion which I had put into her head of Mr.
Linton's philosophical resignation. Tossing about, she increased
her feverish bewilderment to madness, and tore the pillow with her
teeth; then raising herself up all burning, desired that I would
open the window. We were in the middle of winter, the wind blew
strong from the north-east, and I objected. Both the expressions
flitting over her face, and the changes of her moods, began to
alarm me terribly; and brought to my recollection her former
illness, and the doctor's injunction that she should not be
crossed. A minute previously she was violent; now, supported on
one arm, and not noticing my refusal to obey her, she seemed to
find childish diversion in pulling the feathers from the rents she
had just made, and ranging them on the sheet according to their
different species: her mind had strayed to other associations.
'That's a turkey's,' she murmured to herself; 'and this is a wild
duck's; and this is a pigeon's. Ah, they put pigeons' feathers in
the pillows - no wonder I couldn't die! Let me take care to throw
it on the floor when I lie down. And here is a moor-cock's; and
this - I should know it among a thousand - it's a lapwing's. Bonny
bird; wheeling over our heads in the middle of the moor. It wanted
to get to its nest, for the clouds had touched the swells, and it
felt rain coming. This feather was picked up from the heath, the
bird was not shot: we saw its nest in the winter, full of little
skeletons. Heathcliff set a trap over it, and the old ones dared
not come. I made him promise he'd never shoot a lapwing after
that, and he didn't. Yes, here are more! Did he shoot my
lapwings, Nelly? Are they red, any of them? Let me look.'
'Give over with that baby-work!' I interrupted, dragging the pillow
away, and turning the holes towards the mattress, for she was
removing its contents by handfuls. 'Lie down and shut your eyes:
you're wandering. There's a mess! The down is flying about like
I went here and there collecting it.
'I see in you, Nelly,' she continued dreamily, 'an aged woman: you
have grey hair and bent shoulders. This bed is the fairy cave
under Penistone crags, and you are gathering elf-bolts to hurt our
heifers; pretending, while I am near, that they are only locks of
wool. That's what you'll come to fifty years hence: I know you
are not so now. I'm not wandering: you're mistaken, or else I
should believe you really WERE that withered hag, and I should
think I WAS under Penistone Crags; and I'm conscious it's night,
and there are two candles on the table making the black press shine
'The black press? where is that?' I asked. 'You are talking in
'It's against the wall, as it always is,' she replied. 'It DOES
appear odd - I see a face in it!'
'There's no press in the room, and never was,' said I, resuming my
seat, and looping up the curtain that I might watch her.
'Don't YOU see that face?' she inquired, gazing earnestly at the
And say what I could, I was incapable of making her comprehend it
to be her own; so I rose and covered it with a shawl.
'It's behind there still!' she pursued, anxiously. 'And it
stirred. Who is it? I hope it will not come out when you are
gone! Oh! Nelly, the room is haunted! I'm afraid of being
I took her hand in mine, and bid her be composed; for a succession
of shudders convulsed her frame, and she would keep straining her
gaze towards the glass.
'There's nobody here!' I insisted. 'It was YOURSELF, Mrs. Linton:
you knew it a while since.'
'Myself!' she gasped, 'and the clock is striking twelve! It's
true, then! that's dreadful!'
Her fingers clutched the clothes, and gathered them over her eyes.
I attempted to steal to the door with an intention of calling her
husband; but I was summoned back by a piercing shriek - the shawl
had dropped from the frame.
'Why, what is the matter?' cried I. 'Who is coward now? Wake up!
That is the glass - the mirror, Mrs. Linton; and you see yourself
in it, and there am I too by your side.'
Trembling and bewildered, she held me fast, but the horror
gradually passed from her countenance; its paleness gave place to a
glow of shame.
'Oh, dear! I thought I was at home,' she sighed. 'I thought I was
lying in my chamber at Wuthering Heights. Because I'm weak, my
brain got confused, and I screamed unconsciously. Don't say
anything; but stay with me. I dread sleeping: my dreams appal
'A sound sleep would do you good, ma'am,' I answered: 'and I hope
this suffering will prevent your trying starving again.'
'Oh, if I were but in my own bed in the old house!' she went on
bitterly, wringing her hands. 'And that wind sounding in the firs
by the lattice. Do let me feel it - it comes straight down the
moor - do let me have one breath!' To pacify her I held the
casement ajar a few seconds. A cold blast rushed through; I closed
it, and returned to my post. She lay still now, her face bathed in
tears. Exhaustion of body had entirely subdued her spirit: our
fiery Catherine was no better than a wailing child.
'How long is it since I shut myself in here?' she asked, suddenly
'It was Monday evening,' I replied, 'and this is Thursday night, or
rather Friday morning, at present.'
'What! of the same week?' she exclaimed. 'Only that brief time?'
'Long enough to live on nothing but cold water and ill-temper,'
'Well, it seems a weary number of hours,' she muttered doubtfully:
'it must be more. I remember being in the parlour after they had
quarrelled, and Edgar being cruelly provoking, and me running into
this room desperate. As soon as ever I had barred the door, utter
blackness overwhelmed me, and I fell on the floor. I couldn't
explain to Edgar how certain I felt of having a fit, or going
raging mad, if he persisted in teasing me! I had no command of
tongue, or brain, and he did not guess my agony, perhaps: it
barely left me sense to try to escape from him and his voice.
Before I recovered sufficiently to see and hear, it began to be
dawn, and, Nelly, I'll tell you what I thought, and what has kept
recurring and recurring till I feared for my reason. I thought as
I lay there, with my head against that table leg, and my eyes dimly
discerning the grey square of the window, that I was enclosed in
the oak-panelled bed at home; and my heart ached with some great
grief which, just waking, I could not recollect. I pondered, and
worried myself to discover what it could be, and, most strangely,
the whole last seven years of my life grew a blank! I did not
recall that they had been at all. I was a child; my father was
just buried, and my misery arose from the separation that Hindley
had ordered between me and Heathcliff. I was laid alone, for the
first time; and, rousing from a dismal doze after a night of
weeping, I lifted my hand to push the panels aside: it struck the
table-top! I swept it along the carpet, and then memory burst in:
my late anguish was swallowed in a paroxysm of despair. I cannot
say why I felt so wildly wretched: it must have been temporary
derangement; for there is scarcely cause. But, supposing at twelve
years old I had been wrenched from the Heights, and every early
association, and my all in all, as Heathcliff was at that time, and
been converted at a stroke into Mrs. Linton, the lady of
Thrushcross Grange, and the wife of a stranger: an exile, and
outcast, thenceforth, from what had been my world. You may fancy a
glimpse of the abyss where I grovelled! Shake your head as you
will, Nelly, you have helped to unsettle me! You should have
spoken to Edgar, indeed you should, and compelled him to leave me
quiet! Oh, I'm burning! I wish I were out of doors! I wish I
were a girl again, half savage and hardy, and free; and laughing at
injuries, not maddening under them! Why am I so changed? why does
my blood rush into a hell of tumult at a few words? I'm sure I
should be myself were I once among the heather on those hills.
Open the window again wide: fasten it open! Quick, why don't you
'Because I won't give you your death of cold,' I answered.
'You won't give me a chance of life, you mean,' she said, sullenly.
'However, I'm not helpless yet; I'll open it myself.'
And sliding from the bed before I could hinder her, she crossed the
room, walking very uncertainly, threw it back, and bent out,
careless of the frosty air that cut about her shoulders as keen as
a knife. I entreated, and finally attempted to force her to
retire. But I soon found her delirious strength much surpassed
mine (she was delirious, I became convinced by her subsequent
actions and ravings). There was no moon, and everything beneath
lay in misty darkness: not a light gleamed from any house, far or
near all had been extinguished long ago: and those at Wuthering
Heights were never visible - still she asserted she caught their
'Look!' she cried eagerly, 'that's my room with the candle in it,
and the trees swaying before it; and the other candle is in
Joseph's garret. Joseph sits up late, doesn't he? He's waiting
till I come home that he may lock the gate. Well, he'll wait a
while yet. It's a rough journey, and a sad heart to travel it; and
we must pass by Gimmerton Kirk to go that journey! We've braved
its ghosts often together, and dared each other to stand among the
graves and ask them to come. But, Heathcliff, if I dare you now,
will you venture? If you do, I'll keep you. I'll not lie there by
myself: they may bury me twelve feet deep, and throw the church
down over me, but I won't rest till you are with me. I never
She paused, and resumed with a strange smile. 'He's considering -
he'd rather I'd come to him! Find a way, then! not through that
kirkyard. You are slow! Be content, you always followed me!'
Perceiving it vain to argue against her insanity, I was planning
how I could reach something to wrap about her, without quitting my
hold of herself (for I could not trust her alone by the gaping
lattice), when, to my consternation, I heard the rattle of the
door-handle, and Mr. Linton entered. He had only then come from
the library; and, in passing through the lobby, had noticed our
talking and been attracted by curiosity, or fear, to examine what
it signified, at that late hour.
'Oh, sir!' I cried, checking the exclamation risen to his lips at
the sight which met him, and the bleak atmosphere of the chamber.
'My poor mistress is ill, and she quite masters me: I cannot
manage her at all; pray, come and persuade her to go to bed.
Forget your anger, for she's hard to guide any way but her own.'
'Catherine ill?' he said, hastening to us. 'Shut the window,
Ellen! Catherine! why - '
He was silent. The haggardness of Mrs. Linton's appearance smote
him speechless, and he could only glance from her to me in
'She's been fretting here,' I continued, 'and eating scarcely
anything, and never complaining: she would admit none of us till
this evening, and so we couldn't inform you of her state, as we
were not aware of it ourselves; but it is nothing.'
I felt I uttered my explanations awkwardly; the master frowned.
'It is nothing, is it, Ellen Dean?' he said sternly. 'You shall
account more clearly for keeping me ignorant of this!' And he took
his wife in his arms, and looked at her with anguish.
At first she gave him no glance of recognition: he was invisible
to her abstracted gaze. The delirium was not fixed, however;
having weaned her eyes from contemplating the outer darkness, by
degrees she centred her attention on him, and discovered who it was
that held her.
'Ah! you are come, are you, Edgar Linton?' she said, with angry
animation. 'You are one of those things that are ever found when
least wanted, and when you are wanted, never! I suppose we shall
have plenty of lamentations now - I see we shall - but they can't
keep me from my narrow home out yonder: my resting-place, where
I'm bound before spring is over! There it is: not among the
Lintons, mind, under the chapel-roof, but in the open air, with a
head-stone; and you may please yourself whether you go to them or
come to me!'
'Catherine, what have you done?' commenced the master. 'Am I
nothing to you any more? Do you love that wretch Heath - '
'Hush!' cried Mrs. Linton. 'Hush, this moment! You mention that
name and I end the matter instantly by a spring from the window!
What you touch at present you may have; but my soul will be on that
hill-top before you lay hands on me again. I don't want you,
Edgar: I'm past wanting you. Return to your books. I'm glad you
possess a consolation, for all you had in me is gone.'
'Her mind wanders, sir,' I interposed. 'She has been talking
nonsense the whole evening; but let her have quiet, and proper
attendance, and she'll rally. Hereafter, we must be cautious how
we vex her.'
'I desire no further advice from you,' answered Mr. Linton. 'You
knew your mistress's nature, and you encouraged me to harass her.
And not to give me one hint of how she has been these three days!
It was heartless! Months of sickness could not cause such a
I began to defend myself, thinking it too bad to be blamed for
another's wicked waywardness. 'I knew Mrs. Linton's nature to be
headstrong and domineering,' cried I: 'but I didn't know that you
wished to foster her fierce temper! I didn't know that, to humour
her, I should wink at Mr. Heathcliff. I performed the duty of a
faithful servant in telling you, and I have got a faithful
servant's wages! Well, it will teach me to be careful next time.
Next time you may gather intelligence for yourself!'
'The next time you bring a tale to me you shall quit my service,
Ellen Dean,' he replied.
'You'd rather hear nothing about it, I suppose, then, Mr. Linton?'
said I. 'Heathcliff has your permission to come a-courting to
Miss, and to drop in at every opportunity your absence offers, on
purpose to poison the mistress against you?'
Confused as Catherine was, her wits were alert at applying our
'Ah! Nelly has played traitor,' she exclaimed, passionately.
'Nelly is my hidden enemy. You witch! So you do seek elf-bolts to
hurt us! Let me go, and I'll make her rue! I'll make her howl a
A maniac's fury kindled under her brows; she struggled desperately
to disengage herself from Linton's arms. I felt no inclination to
tarry the event; and, resolving to seek medical aid on my own
responsibility, I quitted the chamber.
In passing the garden to reach the road, at a place where a bridle
hook is driven into the wall, I saw something white moved
irregularly, evidently by another agent than the wind.
Notwithstanding my hurry, I stayed to examine it, lest ever after I
should have the conviction impressed on my imagination that it was
a creature of the other world. My surprise and perplexity were
great on discovering, by touch more than vision, Miss Isabella's
springer, Fanny, suspended by a handkerchief, and nearly at its
last gasp. I quickly released the animal, and lifted it into the
garden. I had seen it follow its mistress up-stairs when she went
to bed; and wondered much how it could have got out there, and what
mischievous person had treated it so. While untying the knot round
the hook, it seemed to me that I repeatedly caught the beat of
horses' feet galloping at some distance; but there were such a
number of things to occupy my reflections that I hardly gave the
circumstance a thought: though it was a strange sound, in that
place, at two o'clock in the morning.
Mr. Kenneth was fortunately just issuing from his house to see a
patient in the village as I came up the street; and my account of
Catherine Linton's malady induced him to accompany me back
immediately. He was a plain rough man; and he made no scruple to
speak his doubts of her surviving this second attack; unless she
were more submissive to his directions than she had shown herself
'Nelly Dean,' said he, 'I can't help fancying there's an extra
cause for this. What has there been to do at the Grange? We've
odd reports up here. A stout, hearty lass like Catherine does not
fall ill for a trifle; and that sort of people should not either.
It's hard work bringing them through fevers, and such things. How
did it begin?'
'The master will inform you,' I answered; 'but you are acquainted
with the Earnshaws' violent dispositions, and Mrs. Linton caps them
all. I may say this; it commenced in a quarrel. She was struck
during a tempest of passion with a kind of fit. That's her
account, at least: for she flew off in the height of it, and
locked herself up. Afterwards, she refused to eat, and now she
alternately raves and remains in a half dream; knowing those about
her, but having her mind filled with all sorts of strange ideas and
'Mr. Linton will be sorry?' observed Kenneth, interrogatively.
' Sorry? he'll break his heart should anything happen!' I replied.
'Don't alarm him more than necessary.'
'Well, I told him to beware,' said my companion; 'and he must bide
the consequences of neglecting my warning! Hasn't he been intimate
with Mr. Heathcliff lately?'
'Heathcliff frequently visits at the Grange,' answered I, 'though
more on the strength of the mistress having known him when a boy,
than because the master likes his company. At present he's
discharged from the trouble of calling; owing to some presumptuous
aspirations after Miss Linton which he manifested. I hardly think
he'll be taken in again.'
'And does Miss Linton turn a cold shoulder on him?' was the
doctor's next question.
'I'm not in her confidence,' returned I, reluctant to continue the
'No, she's a sly one,' he remarked, shaking his head. 'She keeps
her own counsel! But she's a real little fool. I have it from
good authority that last night (and a pretty night it was!) she and
Heathcliff were walking in the plantation at the back of your house
above two hours; and he pressed her not to go in again, but just
mount his horse and away with him! My informant said she could
only put him off by pledging her word of honour to be prepared on
their first meeting after that: when it was to be he didn't hear;
but you urge Mr. Linton to look sharp!'
This news filled me with fresh fears; I outstripped Kenneth, and
ran most of the way back. The little dog was yelping in the garden
yet. I spared a minute to open the gate for it, but instead of
going to the house door, it coursed up and down snuffing the grass,
and would have escaped to the road, had I not seized it and
conveyed it in with me. On ascending to Isabella's room, my
suspicions were confirmed: it was empty. Had I been a few hours
sooner Mrs. Linton's illness might have arrested her rash step.
But what could be done now? There was a bare possibility of
overtaking them if pursued instantly. I could not pursue them,
however; and I dared not rouse the family, and fill the place with
confusion; still less unfold the business to my master, absorbed as
he was in his present calamity, and having no heart to spare for a
second grief! I saw nothing for it but to hold my tongue, and
suffer matters to take their course; and Kenneth being arrived, I
went with a badly composed countenance to announce him. Catherine
lay in a troubled sleep: her husband had succeeded in soothing the
excess of frenzy; he now hung over her pillow, watching every shade
and every change of her painfully expressive features.
The doctor, on examining the case for himself, spoke hopefully to
him of its having a favourable termination, if we could only
preserve around her perfect and constant tranquillity. To me, he
signified the threatening danger was not so much death, as
permanent alienation of intellect.
I did not close my eyes that night, nor did Mr. Linton: indeed, we
never went to bed; and the servants were all up long before the
usual hour, moving through the house with stealthy tread, and
exchanging whispers as they encountered each other in their
vocations. Every one was active but Miss Isabella; and they began
to remark how sound she slept: her brother, too, asked if she had
risen, and seemed impatient for her presence, and hurt that she
showed so little anxiety for her sister-in-law. I trembled lest he
should send me to call her; but I was spared the pain of being the
first proclaimant of her flight. One of the maids, a thoughtless
girl, who had been on an early errand to Gimmerton, came panting
up-stairs, open-mouthed, and dashed into the chamber, crying: 'Oh,
dear, dear! What mun we have next? Master, master, our young lady
'Hold your noise!' cried, I hastily, enraged at her clamorous
'Speak lower, Mary - What is the matter?' said Mr. Linton. 'What
ails your young lady?'
'She's gone, she's gone! Yon' Heathcliff's run off wi' her!'
gasped the girl.
'That is not true!' exclaimed Linton, rising in agitation. 'It
cannot be: how has the idea entered your head? Ellen Dean, go and
seek her. It is incredible: it cannot be.'
As he spoke he took the servant to the door, and then repeated his
demand to know her reasons for such an assertion.
'Why, I met on the road a lad that fetches milk here,' she
stammered, 'and he asked whether we weren't in trouble at the
Grange. I thought he meant for missis's sickness, so I answered,
yes. Then says he, "There's somebody gone after 'em, I guess?" I
stared. He saw I knew nought about it, and he told how a gentleman
and lady had stopped to have a horse's shoe fastened at a
blacksmith's shop, two miles out of Gimmerton, not very long after
midnight! and how the blacksmith's lass had got up to spy who they
were: she knew them both directly. And she noticed the man -
Heathcliff it was, she felt certain: nob'dy could mistake him,
besides - put a sovereign in her father's hand for payment. The
lady had a cloak about her face; but having desired a sup of water,
while she drank it fell back, and she saw her very plain.
Heathcliff held both bridles as they rode on, and they set their
faces from the village, and went as fast as the rough roads would
let them. The lass said nothing to her father, but she told it all
over Gimmerton this morning.'
I ran and peeped, for form's sake, into Isabella's room;
confirming, when I returned, the servant's statement. Mr. Linton
had resumed his seat by the bed; on my re-entrance, he raised his
eyes, read the meaning of my blank aspect, and dropped them without
giving an order, or uttering a word.
'Are we to try any measures for overtaking and bringing her back,'
I inquired. 'How should we do?'
'She went of her own accord,' answered the master; 'she had a right
to go if she pleased. Trouble me no more about her. Hereafter she
is only my sister in name: not because I disown her, but because
she has disowned me.'
And that was all he said on the subject: he did not make single
inquiry further, or mention her in any way, except directing me to
send what property she had in the house to her fresh home, wherever
it was, when I knew it.
FOR two months the fugitives remained absent; in those two months,
Mrs. Linton encountered and conquered the worst shock of what was
denominated a brain fever. No mother could have nursed an only
child more devotedly than Edgar tended her. Day and night he was
watching, and patiently enduring all the annoyances that irritable
nerves and a shaken reason could inflict; and, though Kenneth
remarked that what he saved from the grave would only recompense
his care by forming the source of constant future anxiety - in
fact, that his health and strength were being sacrificed to
preserve a mere ruin of humanity - he knew no limits in gratitude
and joy when Catherine's life was declared out of danger; and hour
after hour he would sit beside her, tracing the gradual return to
bodily health, and flattering his too sanguine hopes with the
illusion that her mind would settle back to its right balance also,
and she would soon be entirely her former self.
The first time she left her chamber was at the commencement of the
following March. Mr. Linton had put on her pillow, in the morning,
a handful of golden crocuses; her eye, long stranger to any gleam
of pleasure, caught them in waking, and shone delighted as she
gathered them eagerly together.
'These are the earliest flowers at the Heights,' she exclaimed.
'They remind me of soft thaw winds, and warm sunshine, and nearly
melted snow. Edgar, is there not a south wind, and is not the snow
'The snow is quite gone down here, darling,' replied her husband;
'and I only see two white spots on the whole range of moors: the
sky is blue, and the larks are singing, and the becks and brooks
are all brim full. Catherine, last spring at this time, I was
longing to have you under this roof; now, I wish you were a mile or
two up those hills: the air blows so sweetly, I feel that it would
'I shall never be there but once more,' said the invalid; 'and then
you'll leave me, and I shall remain for ever. Next spring you'll
long again to have me under this roof, and you'll look back and
think you were happy to-day.'
Linton lavished on her the kindest caresses, and tried to cheer her
by the fondest words; but, vaguely regarding the flowers, she let
the tears collect on her lashes and stream down her cheeks
unheeding. We knew she was really better, and, therefore, decided
that long confinement to a single place produced much of this
despondency, and it might be partially removed by a change of
scene. The master told me to light a fire in the many-weeks'
deserted parlour, and to set an easy-chair in the sunshine by the
window; and then he brought her down, and she sat a long while
enjoying the genial heat, and, as we expected, revived by the
objects round her: which, though familiar, were free from the
dreary associations investing her hated sick chamber. By evening
she seemed greatly exhausted; yet no arguments could persuade her
to return to that apartment, and I had to arrange the parlour sofa
for her bed, till another room could be prepared. To obviate the
fatigue of mounting and descending the stairs, we fitted up this,
where you lie at present - on the same floor with the parlour; and
she was soon strong enough to move from one to the other, leaning
on Edgar's arm. Ah, I thought myself, she might recover, so waited
on as she was. And there was double cause to desire it, for on her
existence depended that of another: we cherished the hope that in
a little while Mr. Linton's heart would be gladdened, and his lands
secured from a stranger's gripe, by the birth of an heir.
I should mention that Isabella sent to her brother, some six weeks
from her departure, a short note, announcing her marriage with
Heathcliff. It appeared dry and cold; but at the bottom was dotted
in with pencil an obscure apology, and an entreaty for kind
remembrance and reconciliation, if her proceeding had offended him:
asserting that she could not help it then, and being done, she had
now no power to repeal it. Linton did not reply to this, I
believe; and, in a fortnight more, I got a long letter, which I
considered odd, coming from the pen of a bride just out of the
honeymoon. I'll read it: for I keep it yet. Any relic of the
dead is precious, if they were valued living.
DEAR ELLEN, it begins, - I came last night to Wuthering Heights,
and heard, for the first time, that Catherine has been, and is yet,
very ill. I must not write to her, I suppose, and my brother is
either too angry or too distressed to answer what I sent him.
Still, I must write to somebody, and the only choice left me is
Inform Edgar that I'd give the world to see his face again - that
my heart returned to Thrushcross Grange in twenty-four hours after
I left it, and is there at this moment, full of warm feelings for
him, and Catherine! I CAN'T FOLLOW IT THOUGH - (these words are
underlined) - they need not expect me, and they may draw what
conclusions they please; taking care, however, to lay nothing at
the door of my weak will or deficient affection.
The remainder of the letter is for yourself alone. I want to ask
you two questions: the first is, - How did you contrive to
preserve the common sympathies of human nature when you resided
here? I cannot recognise any sentiment which those around share
The second question I have great interest in; it is this - Is Mr.
Heathcliff a man? If so, is he mad? And if not, is he a devil? I
sha'n't tell my reasons for making this inquiry; but I beseech you
to explain, if you can, what I have married: that is, when you
call to see me; and you must call, Ellen, very soon. Don't write,
but come, and bring me something from Edgar.
Now, you shall hear how I have been received in my new home, as I
am led to imagine the Heights will be. It is to amuse myself that
I dwell on such subjects as the lack of external comforts: they
never occupy my thoughts, except at the moment when I miss them. I
should laugh and dance for joy, if I found their absence was the
total of my miseries, and the rest was an unnatural dream!
The sun set behind the Grange as we turned on to the moors; by
that, I judged it to be six o'clock; and my companion halted half
an hour, to inspect the park, and the gardens, and, probably, the
place itself, as well as he could; so it was dark when we
dismounted in the paved yard of the farm-house, and your old
fellow-servant, Joseph, issued out to receive us by the light of a
dip candle. He did it with a courtesy that redounded to his
credit. His first act was to elevate his torch to a level with my
face, squint malignantly, project his under-lip, and turn away.
Then he took the two horses, and led them into the stables;
reappearing for the purpose of locking the outer gate, as if we
lived in an ancient castle.
Heathcliff stayed to speak to him, and I entered the kitchen - a
dingy, untidy hole; I daresay you would not know it, it is so
changed since it was in your charge. By the fire stood a ruffianly
child, strong in limb and dirty in garb, with a look of Catherine
in his eyes and about his mouth.
'This is Edgar's legal nephew,' I reflected - 'mine in a manner; I
must shake hands, and - yes - I must kiss him. It is right to
establish a good understanding at the beginning.'
I approached, and, attempting to take his chubby fist, said - 'How
do you do, my dear?'
He replied in a jargon I did not comprehend.
'Shall you and I be friends, Hareton?' was my next essay at
An oath, and a threat to set Throttler on me if I did not 'frame
off' rewarded my perseverance.
'Hey, Throttler, lad!' whispered the little wretch, rousing a half-
bred bull-dog from its lair in a corner. 'Now, wilt thou be
ganging?' he asked authoritatively.
Love for my life urged a compliance; I stepped over the threshold
to wait till the others should enter. Mr. Heathcliff was nowhere
visible; and Joseph, whom I followed to the stables, and requested
to accompany me in, after staring and muttering to himself, screwed
up his nose and replied - 'Mim! mim! mim! Did iver Christian body
hear aught like it? Mincing un' munching! How can I tell whet ye
'I say, I wish you to come with me into the house!' I cried,
thinking him deaf, yet highly disgusted at his rudeness.
'None o' me! I getten summut else to do,' he answered, and
continued his work; moving his lantern jaws meanwhile, and
surveying my dress and countenance (the former a great deal too
fine, but the latter, I'm sure, as sad as he could desire) with
I walked round the yard, and through a wicket, to another door, at
which I took the liberty of knocking, in hopes some more civil
servant might show himself. After a short suspense, it was opened
by a tall, gaunt man, without neckerchief, and otherwise extremely
slovenly; his features were lost in masses of shaggy hair that hung
on his shoulders; and HIS eyes, too, were like a ghostly
Catherine's with all their beauty annihilated.
'What's your business here?' he demanded, grimly. 'Who are you?'
'My name was Isabella Linton,' I replied. 'You've seen me before,
sir. I'm lately married to Mr. Heathcliff, and he has brought me
here - I suppose, by your permission.'
'Is he come back, then?' asked the hermit, glaring like a hungry
'Yes - we came just now,' I said; 'but he left me by the kitchen
door; and when I would have gone in, your little boy played
sentinel over the place, and frightened me off by the help of a
'It's well the hellish villain has kept his word!' growled my
future host, searching the darkness beyond me in expectation of
discovering Heathcliff; and then he indulged in a soliloquy of
execrations, and threats of what he would have done had the 'fiend'
I repented having tried this second entrance, and was almost
inclined to slip away before he finished cursing, but ere I could
execute that intention, he ordered me in, and shut and re-fastened
the door. There was a great fire, and that was all the light in
the huge apartment, whose floor had grown a uniform grey; and the
once brilliant pewter-dishes, which used to attract my gaze when I
was a girl, partook of a similar obscurity, created by tarnish and
dust. I inquired whether I might call the maid, and be conducted
to a bedroom! Mr. Earnshaw vouchsafed no answer. He walked up and
down, with his hands in his pockets, apparently quite forgetting my
presence; and his abstraction was evidently so deep, and his whole
aspect so misanthropical, that I shrank from disturbing him again.
You'll not be surprised, Ellen, at my feeling particularly
cheerless, seated in worse than solitude on that inhospitable
hearth, and remembering that four miles distant lay my delightful
home, containing the only people I loved on earth; and there might
as well be the Atlantic to part us, instead of those four miles: I
could not overpass them! I questioned with myself - where must I
turn for comfort? and - mind you don't tell Edgar, or Catherine -
above every sorrow beside, this rose pre-eminent: despair at
finding nobody who could or would be my ally against Heathcliff! I
had sought shelter at Wuthering Heights, almost gladly, because I
was secured by that arrangement from living alone with him; but he
knew the people we were coming amongst, and he did not fear their
I sat and thought a doleful time: the clock struck eight, and
nine, and still my companion paced to and fro, his head bent on his
breast, and perfectly silent, unless a groan or a bitter
ejaculation forced itself out at intervals. I listened to detect a
woman's voice in the house, and filled the interim with wild
regrets and dismal anticipations, which, at last, spoke audibly in
irrepressible sighing and weeping. I was not aware how openly I
grieved, till Earnshaw halted opposite, in his measured walk, and
gave me a stare of newly-awakened surprise. Taking advantage of
his recovered attention, I exclaimed - 'I'm tired with my journey,
and I want to go to bed! Where is the maid-servant? Direct me to
her, as she won't come to me!'
'We have none,' he answered; 'you must wait on yourself!'
'Where must I sleep, then?' I sobbed; I was beyond regarding self-
respect, weighed down by fatigue and wretchedness.
'Joseph will show you Heathcliff's chamber,' said he; 'open that
door - he's in there.'
I was going to obey, but he suddenly arrested me, and added in the
strangest tone - 'Be so good as to turn your lock, and draw your
bolt - don't omit it!'
'Well!' I said. 'But why, Mr. Earnshaw?' I did not relish the
notion of deliberately fastening myself in with Heathcliff.
'Look here!' he replied, pulling from his waistcoat a curiously-
constructed pistol, having a double-edged spring knife attached to
the barrel. 'That's a great tempter to a desperate man, is it not?
I cannot resist going up with this every night, and trying his
door. If once I find it open he's done for; I do it invariably,
even though the minute before I have been recalling a hundred
reasons that should make me refrain: it is some devil that urges
me to thwart my own schemes by killing him. You fight against that
devil for love as long as you may; when the time comes, not all the
angels in heaven shall save him!'
I surveyed the weapon inquisitively. A hideous notion struck me:
how powerful I should be possessing such an instrument! I took it
from his hand, and touched the blade. He looked astonished at the
expression my face assumed during a brief second: it was not
horror, it was covetousness. He snatched the pistol back,
jealously; shut the knife, and returned it to its concealment.
'I don't care if you tell him,' said he. 'Put him on his guard,
and watch for him. You know the terms we are on, I see: his
danger does not shock you.'
'What has Heathcliff done to you?' I asked. 'In what has he
wronged you, to warrant this appalling hatred? Wouldn't it be
wiser to bid him quit the house?'
'No!' thundered Earnshaw; 'should he offer to leave me, he's a dead
man: persuade him to attempt it, and you are a murderess! Am I to
lose ALL, without a chance of retrieval? Is Hareton to be a
beggar? Oh, damnation! I WILL have it back; and I'll have HIS
gold too; and then his blood; and hell shall have his soul! It
will be ten times blacker with that guest than ever it was before!'
You've acquainted me, Ellen, with your old master's habits. He is
clearly on the verge of madness: he was so last night at least. I
shuddered to be near him, and thought on the servant's ill-bred
moroseness as comparatively agreeable. He now recommenced his
moody walk, and I raised the latch, and escaped into the kitchen.
Joseph was bending over the fire, peering into a large pan that
swung above it; and a wooden bowl of oatmeal stood on the settle
close by. The contents of the pan began to boil, and he turned to
plunge his hand into the bowl; I conjectured that this preparation
was probably for our supper, and, being hungry, I resolved it
should be eatable; so, crying out sharply, 'I'LL make the
porridge!' I removed the vessel out of his reach, and proceeded to
take off my hat and riding-habit. 'Mr. Earnshaw,' I continued,
'directs me to wait on myself: I will. I'm not going to act the
lady among you, for fear I should starve.'
'Gooid Lord!' he muttered, sitting down, and stroking his ribbed
stockings from the knee to the ankle. 'If there's to be fresh
ortherings - just when I getten used to two maisters, if I mun hev'
a MISTRESS set o'er my heead, it's like time to be flitting. I
niver DID think to see t' day that I mud lave th' owld place - but
I doubt it's nigh at hand!'
This lamentation drew no notice from me: I went briskly to work,
sighing to remember a period when it would have been all merry fun;
but compelled speedily to drive off the remembrance. It racked me
to recall past happiness and the greater peril there was of
conjuring up its apparition, the quicker the thible ran round, and
the faster the handfuls of meal fell into the water. Joseph beheld
my style of cookery with growing indignation.
'Thear!' he ejaculated. 'Hareton, thou willn't sup thy porridge
to-neeght; they'll be naught but lumps as big as my neive. Thear,
agean! I'd fling in bowl un' all, if I wer ye! There, pale t'
guilp off, un' then ye'll hae done wi' 't. Bang, bang. It's a
mercy t' bothom isn't deaved out!'
It WAS rather a rough mess, I own, when poured into the basins;
four had been provided, and a gallon pitcher of new milk was
brought from the dairy, which Hareton seized and commenced drinking
and spilling from the expansive lip. I expostulated, and desired
that he should have his in a mug; affirming that I could not taste
the liquid treated so dirtily. The old cynic chose to be vastly
offended at this nicety; assuring me, repeatedly, that 'the barn
was every bit as good' as I, 'and every bit as wollsome,' and
wondering how I could fashion to be so conceited. Meanwhile, the
infant ruffian continued sucking; and glowered up at me defyingly,
as he slavered into the jug.
'I shall have my supper in another room,' I said. 'Have you no
place you call a parlour?'
'PARLOUR!' he echoed, sneeringly, 'PARLOUR! Nay, we've noa
PARLOURS. If yah dunnut loike wer company, there's maister's; un'
if yah dunnut loike maister, there's us.'
'Then I shall go up-stairs,' I answered; 'show me a chamber.'
I put my basin on a tray, and went myself to fetch some more milk.
With great grumblings, the fellow rose, and preceded me in my
ascent: we mounted to the garrets; he opened a door, now and then,
to look into the apartments we passed.
'Here's a rahm,' he said, at last, flinging back a cranky board on
hinges. 'It's weel eneugh to ate a few porridge in. There's a
pack o' corn i' t' corner, thear, meeterly clane; if ye're feared
o' muckying yer grand silk cloes, spread yer hankerchir o' t' top
The 'rahm' was a kind of lumber-hole smelling strong of malt and
grain; various sacks of which articles were piled around, leaving a
wide, bare space in the middle.
'Why, man,' I exclaimed, facing him angrily, 'this is not a place
to sleep in. I wish to see my bed-room.'
'BED-RUME!' he repeated, in a tone of mockery. 'Yah's see all t'
BED-RUMES thear is - yon's mine.'
He pointed into the second garret, only differing from the first in
being more naked about the walls, and having a large, low,
curtainless bed, with an indigo-coloured quilt, at one end.
'What do I want with yours?' I retorted. 'I suppose Mr. Heathcliff
does not lodge at the top of the house, does he?'
'Oh! it's Maister HATHECLIFF'S ye're wanting?' cried he, as if
making a new discovery. 'Couldn't ye ha' said soa, at onst? un'
then, I mud ha' telled ye, baht all this wark, that that's just one
ye cannut see - he allas keeps it locked, un' nob'dy iver mells
on't but hisseln.'
'You've a nice house, Joseph,' I could not refrain from observing,
'and pleasant inmates; and I think the concentrated essence of all
the madness in the world took up its abode in my brain the day I
linked my fate with theirs! However, that is not to the present
purpose - there are other rooms. For heaven's sake be quick, and
let me settle somewhere!'
He made no reply to this adjuration; only plodding doggedly down
the wooden steps, and halting, before an apartment which, from that
halt and the superior quality of its furniture, I conjectured to be
the best one. There was a carpet - a good one, but the pattern was
obliterated by dust; a fireplace hung with cut-paper, dropping to
pieces; a handsome oak-bedstead with ample crimson curtains of
rather expensive material and modern make; but they had evidently
experienced rough usage: the vallances hung in festoons, wrenched
from their rings, and the iron rod supporting them was bent in an
arc on one side, causing the drapery to trail upon the floor. The
chairs were also damaged, many of them severely; and deep
indentations deformed the panels of the walls. I was endeavouring
to gather resolution for entering and taking possession, when my
fool of a guide announced, - 'This here is t' maister's.' My
supper by this time was cold, my appetite gone, and my patience
exhausted. I insisted on being provided instantly with a place of
refuge, and means of repose.
'Whear the divil?' began the religious elder. 'The Lord bless us!
The Lord forgie us! Whear the HELL wdd ye gang? ye marred,
wearisome nowt! Ye've seen all but Hareton's bit of a cham'er.
There's not another hoile to lig down in i' th' hahse!'
I was so vexed, I flung my tray and its contents on the ground; and
then seated myself at the stairs'-head, hid my face in my hands,
'Ech! ech!' exclaimed Joseph. 'Weel done, Miss Cathy! weel done,
Miss Cathy! Howsiver, t' maister sall just tum'le o'er them
brooken pots; un' then we's hear summut; we's hear how it's to be.
Gooid-for-naught madling! ye desarve pining fro' this to Churstmas,
flinging t' precious gifts o'God under fooit i' yer flaysome rages!
But I'm mista'en if ye shew yer sperrit lang. Will Hathecliff bide
sich bonny ways, think ye? I nobbut wish he may catch ye i' that
plisky. I nobbut wish he may.'
And so he went on scolding to his den beneath, taking the candle
with him; and I remained in the dark. The period of reflection
succeeding this silly action compelled me to admit the necessity of
smothering my pride and choking my wrath, and bestirring myself to
remove its effects. An unexpected aid presently appeared in the
shape of Throttler, whom I now recognised as a son of our old
Skulker: it had spent its whelphood at the Grange, and was given
by my father to Mr. Hindley. I fancy it knew me: it pushed its
nose against mine by way of salute, and then hastened to devour the
porridge; while I groped from step to step, collecting the
shattered earthenware, and drying the spatters of milk from the
banister with my pocket-handkerchief. Our labours were scarcely
over when I heard Earnshaw's tread in the passage; my assistant
tucked in his tail, and pressed to the wall; I stole into the
nearest doorway. The dog's endeavour to avoid him was
unsuccessful; as I guessed by a scutter down-stairs, and a
prolonged, piteous yelping. I had better luck: he passed on,
entered his chamber, and shut the door. Directly after Joseph came
up with Hareton, to put him to bed. I had found shelter in
Hareton's room, and the old man, on seeing me, said, - 'They's rahm
for boath ye un' yer pride, now, I sud think i' the hahse. It's
empty; ye may hev' it all to yerseln, un' Him as allus maks a
third, i' sich ill company!'
Gladly did I take advantage of this intimation; and the minute I
flung myself into a chair, by the fire, I nodded, and slept. My
slumber was deep and sweet, though over far too soon. Mr.
Heathcliff awoke me; he had just come in, and demanded, in his
loving manner, what I was doing there? I told him the cause of my
staying up so late - that he had the key of our room in his pocket.
The adjective OUR gave mortal offence. He swore it was not, nor
ever should be, mine; and he'd - but I'll not repeat his language,
nor describe his habitual conduct: he is ingenious and unresting
in seeking to gain my abhorrence! I sometimes wonder at him with
an intensity that deadens my fear: yet, I assure you, a tiger or a
venomous serpent could not rouse terror in me equal to that which
he wakens. He told me of Catherine's illness, and accused my
brother of causing it promising that I should be Edgar's proxy in
suffering, till he could get hold of him.
I do hate him - I am wretched - I have been a fool! Beware of
uttering one breath of this to any one at the Grange. I shall
expect you every day - don't disappoint me! - ISABELLA.
AS soon as I had perused this epistle I went to the master, and
informed him that his sister had arrived at the Heights, and sent
me a letter expressing her sorrow for Mrs. Linton's situation, and
her ardent desire to see him; with a wish that he would transmit to
her, as early as possible, some token of forgiveness by me.
'Forgiveness!' said Linton. 'I have nothing to forgive her, Ellen.
You may call at Wuthering Heights this afternoon, if you like, and
say that I am not angry, but I'm sorry to have lost her; especially
as I can never think she'll be happy. It is out of the question my
going to see her, however: we are eternally divided; and should
she really wish to oblige me, let her persuade the villain she has
married to leave the country.'
'And you won't write her a little note, sir?' I asked, imploringly.
'No,' he answered. 'It is needless. My communication with
Heathcliff's family shall be as sparing as his with mine. It shall
Mr. Edgar's coldness depressed me exceedingly; and all the way from
the Grange I puzzled my brains how to put more heart into what he
said, when I repeated it; and how to soften his refusal of even a
few lines to console Isabella. I daresay she had been on the watch
for me since morning: I saw her looking through the lattice as I
came up the garden causeway, and I nodded to her; but she drew
back, as if afraid of being observed. I entered without knocking.
There never was such a dreary, dismal scene as the formerly
cheerful house presented! I must confess, that if I had been in
the young lady's place, I would, at least, have swept the hearth,
and wiped the tables with a duster. But she already partook of the
pervading spirit of neglect which encompassed her. Her pretty face
was wan and listless; her hair uncurled: some locks hanging lankly
down, and some carelessly twisted round her head. Probably she had
not touched her dress since yester evening. Hindley was not there.
Mr. Heathcliff sat at a table, turning over some papers in his
pocket-book; but he rose when I appeared, asked me how I did, quite
friendly, and offered me a chair. He was the only thing there that
seemed decent; and I thought he never looked better. So much had
circumstances altered their positions, that he would certainly have
struck a stranger as a born and bred gentleman; and his wife as a
thorough little slattern! She came forward eagerly to greet me,
and held out one hand to take the expected letter. I shook my
head. She wouldn't understand the hint, but followed me to a
sideboard, where I went to lay my bonnet, and importuned me in a
whisper to give her directly what I had brought. Heathcliff
guessed the meaning of her manoeuvres, and said - 'If you have got
anything for Isabella (as no doubt you have, Nelly), give it to
her. You needn't make a secret of it: we have no secrets between
'Oh, I have nothing,' I replied, thinking it best to speak the
truth at once. 'My master bid me tell his sister that she must not
expect either a letter or a visit from him at present. He sends
his love, ma'am, and his wishes for your happiness, and his pardon
for the grief you have occasioned; but he thinks that after this
time his household and the household here should drop
intercommunication, as nothing could come of keeping it up.'
Mrs. Heathcliff's lip quivered slightly, and she returned to her
seat in the window. Her husband took his stand on the hearthstone,
near me, and began to put questions concerning Catherine. I told
him as much as I thought proper of her illness, and he extorted
from me, by cross-examination, most of the facts connected with its
origin. I blamed her, as she deserved, for bringing it all on
herself; and ended by hoping that he would follow Mr. Linton's
example and avoid future interference with his family, for good or
'Mrs. Linton is now just recovering,' I said; 'she'll never be like
she was, but her life is spared; and if you really have a regard
for her, you'll shun crossing her way again: nay, you'll move out
of this country entirely; and that you may not regret it, I'll
inform you Catherine Linton is as different now from your old
friend Catherine Earnshaw, as that young lady is different from me.
Her appearance is changed greatly, her character much more so; and
the person who is compelled, of necessity, to be her companion,
will only sustain his affection hereafter by the remembrance of
what she once was, by common humanity, and a sense of duty!'
'That is quite possible,' remarked Heathcliff, forcing himself to
seem calm: 'quite possible that your master should have nothing
but common humanity and a sense of duty to fall back upon. But do
you imagine that I shall leave Catherine to his DUTY and HUMANITY?
and can you compare my feelings respecting Catherine to his?
Before you leave this house, I must exact a promise from you that
you'll get me an interview with her: consent, or refuse, I WILL
see her! What do you say?'
'I say, Mr. Heathcliff,' I replied, 'you must not: you never
shall, through my means. Another encounter between you and the
master would kill her altogether.'
'With your aid that may be avoided,' he continued; 'and should
there be danger of such an event - should he be the cause of adding
a single trouble more to her existence - why, I think I shall be
justified in going to extremes! I wish you had sincerity enough to
tell me whether Catherine would suffer greatly from his loss: the
fear that she would restrains me. And there you see the
distinction between our feelings: had he been in my place, and I
in his, though I hated him with a hatred that turned my life to
gall, I never would have raised a hand against him. You may look
incredulous, if you please! I never would have banished him from
her society as long as she desired his. The moment her regard
ceased, I would have torn his heart out, and drunk his blood! But,
till then - if you don't believe me, you don't know me - till then,
I would have died by inches before I touched a single hair of his
'And yet,' I interrupted, 'you have no scruples in completely
ruining all hopes of her perfect restoration, by thrusting yourself
into her remembrance now, when she has nearly forgotten you, and
involving her in a new tumult of discord and distress.'
'You suppose she has nearly forgotten me?' he said. 'Oh, Nelly!
you know she has not! You know as well as I do, that for every
thought she spends on Linton she spends a thousand on me! At a
most miserable period of my life, I had a notion of the kind: it
haunted me on my return to the neighbourhood last summer; but only
her own assurance could make me admit the horrible idea again. And
then, Linton would be nothing, nor Hindley, nor all the dreams that
ever I dreamt. Two words would comprehend my future - DEATH and
HELL: existence, after losing her, would be hell. Yet I was a
fool to fancy for a moment that she valued Edgar Linton's
attachment more than mine. If he loved with all the powers of his
puny being, he couldn't love as much in eighty years as I could in
a day. And Catherine has a heart as deep as I have: the sea could
be as readily contained in that horse-trough as her whole affection
be monopolised by him. Tush! He is scarcely a degree dearer to
her than her dog, or her horse. It is not in him to be loved like
me: how can she love in him what he has not?'
'Catherine and Edgar are as fond of each other as any two people
can be,' cried Isabella, with sudden vivacity. 'No one has a right
to talk in that manner, and I won't hear my brother depreciated in
'Your brother is wondrous fond of you too, isn't he?' observed
Heathcliff, scornfully. 'He turns you adrift on the world with
'He is not aware of what I suffer,' she replied. 'I didn't tell
'You have been telling him something, then: you have written, have
'To say that I was married, I did write - you saw the note.'
'And nothing since?'
'My young lady is looking sadly the worse for her change of
condition,' I remarked. 'Somebody's love comes short in her case,
obviously; whose, I may guess; but, perhaps, I shouldn't say.'
'I should guess it was her own,' said Heathcliff. 'She degenerates
into a mere slut! She is tired of trying to please me uncommonly
early. You'd hardly credit it, but the very morrow of our wedding
she was weeping to go home. However, she'll suit this house so
much the better for not being over nice, and I'll take care she
does not disgrace me by rambling abroad.'
'Well, sir,' returned I, 'I hope you'll consider that Mrs.
Heathcliff is accustomed to be looked after and waited on; and that
she has been brought up like an only daughter, whom every one was
ready to serve. You must let her have a maid to keep things tidy
about her, and you must treat her kindly. Whatever be your notion
of Mr. Edgar, you cannot doubt that she has a capacity for strong
attachments, or she wouldn't have abandoned the elegancies, and
comforts, and friends of her former home, to fix contentedly, in
such a wilderness as this, with you.'
'She abandoned them under a delusion,' he answered; 'picturing in
me a hero of romance, and expecting unlimited indulgences from my
chivalrous devotion. I can hardly regard her in the light of a
rational creature, so obstinately has she persisted in forming a
fabulous notion of my character and acting on the false impressions
she cherished. But, at last, I think she begins to know me: I
don't perceive the silly smiles and grimaces that provoked me at
first; and the senseless incapability of discerning that I was in
earnest when I gave her my opinion of her infatuation and herself.
It was a marvellous effort of perspicacity to discover that I did
not love her. I believed, at one time, no lessons could teach her
that! And yet it is poorly learnt; for this morning she announced,
as a piece of appalling intelligence, that I had actually succeeded
in making her hate me! A positive labour of Hercules, I assure
you! If it be achieved, I have cause to return thanks. Can I
trust your assertion, Isabella? Are you sure you hate me? If I
let you alone for half a day, won't you come sighing and wheedling
to me again? I daresay she would rather I had seemed all
tenderness before you: it wounds her vanity to have the truth
exposed. But I don't care who knows that the passion was wholly on
one side: and I never told her a lie about it. She cannot accuse
me of showing one bit of deceitful softness. The first thing she
saw me do, on coming out of the Grange, was to hang up her little
dog; and when she pleaded for it, the first words I uttered were a
wish that I had the hanging of every being belonging to her, except
one: possibly she took that exception for herself. But no
brutality disgusted her: I suppose she has an innate admiration of
it, if only her precious person were secure from injury! Now, was
it not the depth of absurdity - of genuine idiotcy, for that
pitiful, slavish, mean-minded brach to dream that I could love her?
Tell your master, Nelly, that I never, in all my life, met with
such an abject thing as she is. She even disgraces the name of
Linton; and I've sometimes relented, from pure lack of invention,
in my experiments on what she could endure, and still creep
shamefully cringing back! But tell him, also, to set his fraternal
and magisterial heart at ease: that I keep strictly within the
limits of the law. I have avoided, up to this period, giving her
the slightest right to claim a separation; and, what's more, she'd
thank nobody for dividing us. If she desired to go, she might:
the nuisance of her presence outweighs the gratification to be
derived from tormenting her!'
'Mr. Heathcliff,' said I, 'this is the talk of a madman; your wife,
most likely, is convinced you are mad; and, for that reason, she
has borne with you hitherto: but now that you say she may go,
she'll doubtless avail herself of the permission. You are not so
bewitched, ma'am, are you, as to remain with him of your own
'Take care, Ellen!' answered Isabella, her eyes sparkling irefully;
there was no misdoubting by their expression the full success of
her partner's endeavours to make himself detested. 'Don't put
faith in a single word he speaks. He's a lying fiend! a monster,
and not a human being! I've been told I might leave him before;
and I've made the attempt, but I dare not repeat it! Only, Ellen,
promise you'll not mention a syllable of his infamous conversation
to my brother or Catherine. Whatever he may pretend, he wishes to
provoke Edgar to desperation: he says he has married me on purpose
to obtain power over him; and he sha'n't obtain it - I'll die
first! I just hope, I pray, that he may forget his diabolical
prudence and kill me! The single pleasure I can imagine is to die,
or to see him dead!'
'There - that will do for the present!' said Heathcliff. 'If you
are called upon in a court of law, you'll remember her language,
Nelly! And take a good look at that countenance: she's near the
point which would suit me. No; you're not fit to be your own
guardian, Isabella, now; and I, being your legal protector, must
retain you in my custody, however distasteful the obligation may
be. Go up-stairs; I have something to say to Ellen Dean in
private. That's not the way: up-stairs, I tell you! Why, this is
the road upstairs, child!'
He seized, and thrust her from the room; and returned muttering -
'I have no pity! I have no pity! The more the worms writhe, the
more I yearn to crush out their entrails! It is a moral teething;
and I grind with greater energy in proportion to the increase of
'Do you understand what the word pity means?' I said, hastening to
resume my bonnet. 'Did you ever feel a touch of it in your life?'
'Put that down!' he interrupted, perceiving my intention to depart.
'You are not going yet. Come here now, Nelly: I must either
persuade or compel you to aid me in fulfilling my determination to
see Catherine, and that without delay. I swear that I meditate no
harm: I don't desire to cause any disturbance, or to exasperate or
insult Mr. Linton; I only wish to hear from herself how she is, and
why she has been ill; and to ask if anything that I could do would
be of use to her. Last night I was in the Grange garden six hours,
and I'll return there to-night; and every night I'll haunt the
place, and every day, till I find an opportunity of entering. If
Edgar Linton meets me, I shall not hesitate to knock him down, and
give him enough to insure his quiescence while I stay. If his
servants oppose me, I shall threaten them off with these pistols.
But wouldn't it be better to prevent my coming in contact with
them, or their master? And you could do it so easily. I'd warn
you when I came, and then you might let me in unobserved, as soon
as she was alone, and watch till I departed, your conscience quite
calm: you would be hindering mischief.'
I protested against playing that treacherous part in my employer's
house: and, besides, I urged the cruelty and selfishness of his
destroying Mrs. Linton's tranquillity for his satisfaction. 'The
commonest occurrence startles her painfully,' I said. 'She's all
nerves, and she couldn't bear the surprise, I'm positive. Don't
persist, sir! or else I shall be obliged to inform my master of
your designs; and he'll take measures to secure his house and its
inmates from any such unwarrantable intrusions!'
'In that case I'll take measures to secure you, woman!' exclaimed
Heathcliff; 'you shall not leave Wuthering Heights till to-morrow
morning. It is a foolish story to assert that Catherine could not
bear to see me; and as to surprising her, I don't desire it: you
must prepare her - ask her if I may come. You say she never
mentions my name, and that I am never mentioned to her. To whom
should she mention me if I am a forbidden topic in the house? She
thinks you are all spies for her husband. Oh, I've no doubt she's
in hell among you! I guess by her silence, as much as anything,
what she feels. You say she is often restless, and anxious-
looking: is that a proof of tranquillity? You talk of her mind
being unsettled. How the devil could it be otherwise in her
frightful isolation? And that insipid, paltry creature attending
her from DUTY and HUMANITY! From PITY and CHARITY! He might as
well plant an oak in a flower-pot, and expect it to thrive, as
imagine he can restore her to vigour in the soil of his shallow
cares? Let us settle it at once: will you stay here, and am I to
fight my way to Catherine over Linton and his footman? Or will you
be my friend, as you have been hitherto, and do what I request?
Decide! because there is no reason for my lingering another minute,
if you persist in your stubborn ill-nature!'
Well, Mr. Lockwood, I argued and complained, and flatly refused him
fifty times; but in the long run he forced me to an agreement. I
engaged to carry a letter from him to my mistress; and should she
consent, I promised to let him have intelligence of Linton's next
absence from home, when he might come, and get in as he was able:
I wouldn't be there, and my fellow-servants should be equally out
of the way. Was it right or wrong? I fear it was wrong, though
expedient. I thought I prevented another explosion by my
compliance; and I thought, too, it might create a favourable crisis
in Catherine's mental illness: and then I remembered Mr. Edgar's
stern rebuke of my carrying tales; and I tried to smooth away all
disquietude on the subject, by affirming, with frequent iteration,
that that betrayal of trust, if it merited so harsh an appellation,
should be the last. Notwithstanding, my journey homeward was
sadder than my journey thither; and many misgivings I had, ere I
could prevail on myself to put the missive into Mrs. Linton's hand.
But here is Kenneth; I'll go down, and tell him how much better you
are. My history is DREE, as we say, and will serve to while away
Dree, and dreary! I reflected as the good woman descended to
receive the doctor: and not exactly of the kind which I should
have chosen to amuse me. But never mind! I'll extract wholesome
medicines from Mrs. Dean's bitter herbs; and firstly, let me beware
of the fascination that lurks in Catherine Heathcliff's brilliant
eyes. I should be in a curious taking if I surrendered my heart to
that young person, and the daughter turned out a second edition of
ANOTHER week over - and I am so many days nearer health, and
spring! I have now heard all my neighbour's history, at different
sittings, as the housekeeper could spare time from more important
occupations. I'll continue it in her own words, only a little
condensed. She is, on the whole, a very fair narrator, and I don't
think I could improve her style.
In the evening, she said, the evening of my visit to the Heights, I
knew, as well as if I saw him, that Mr. Heathcliff was about the
place; and I shunned going out, because I still carried his letter
in my pocket, and didn't want to be threatened or teased any more.
I had made up my mind not to give it till my master went somewhere,
as I could not guess how its receipt would affect Catherine. The
consequence was, that it did not reach her before the lapse of
three days. The fourth was Sunday, and I brought it into her room
after the family were gone to church. There was a manservant left
to keep the house with me, and we generally made a practice of
locking the doors during the hours of service; but on that occasion
the weather was so warm and pleasant that I set them wide open,
and, to fulfil my engagement, as I knew who would be coming, I told
my companion that the mistress wished very much for some oranges,
and he must run over to the village and get a few, to be paid for
on the morrow. He departed, and I went up-stairs.
Mrs. Linton sat in a loose white dress, with a light shawl over her
shoulders, in the recess of the open window, as usual. Her thick,
long hair had been partly removed at the beginning of her illness,
and now she wore it simply combed in its natural tresses over her
temples and neck. Her appearance was altered, as I had told
Heathcliff; but when she was calm, there seemed unearthly beauty in
the change. The flash of her eyes had been succeeded by a dreamy
and melancholy softness; they no longer gave the impression of
looking at the objects around her: they appeared always to gaze
beyond, and far beyond - you would have said out of this world.
Then, the paleness of her face - its haggard aspect having vanished
as she recovered flesh - and the peculiar expression arising from
her mental state, though painfully suggestive of their causes,
added to the touching interest which she awakened; and - invariably
to me, I know, and to any person who saw her, I should think -
refuted more tangible proofs of convalescence, and stamped her as
one doomed to decay.
A book lay spread on the sill before her, and the scarcely
perceptible wind fluttered its leaves at intervals. I believe
Linton had laid it there: for she never endeavoured to divert
herself with reading, or occupation of any kind, and he would spend
many an hour in trying to entice her attention to some subject
which had formerly been her amusement. She was conscious of his
aim, and in her better moods endured his efforts placidly, only
showing their uselessness by now and then suppressing a wearied
sigh, and checking him at last with the saddest of smiles and
kisses. At other times, she would turn petulantly away, and hide
her face in her hands, or even push him off angrily; and then he
took care to let her alone, for he was certain of doing no good.
Gimmerton chapel bells were still ringing; and the full, mellow
flow of the beck in the valley came soothingly on the ear. It was
a sweet substitute for the yet absent murmur of the summer foliage,
which drowned that music about the Grange when the trees were in
leaf. At Wuthering Heights it always sounded on quiet days
following a great thaw or a season of steady rain. And of
Wuthering Heights Catherine was thinking as she listened: that is,
if she thought or listened at all; but she had the vague, distant
look I mentioned before, which expressed no recognition of material
things either by ear or eye.
'There's a letter for you, Mrs. Linton,' I said, gently inserting
it in one hand that rested on her knee. 'You must read it
immediately, because it wants an answer. Shall I break the seal?'
'Yes,' she answered, without altering the direction of her eyes. I
opened it - it was very short. 'Now,' I continued, 'read it.' She
drew away her hand, and let it fall. I replaced it in her lap, and
stood waiting till it should please her to glance down; but that
movement was so long delayed that at last I resumed - 'Must I read
it, ma'am? It is from Mr. Heathcliff.'
There was a start and a troubled gleam of recollection, and a
struggle to arrange her ideas. She lifted the letter, and seemed
to peruse it; and when she came to the signature she sighed: yet
still I found she had not gathered its import, for, upon my
desiring to hear her reply, she merely pointed to the name, and
gazed at me with mournful and questioning eagerness.
'Well, he wishes to see you,' said I, guessing her need of an
interpreter. 'He's in the garden by this time, and impatient to
know what answer I shall bring.'
As I spoke, I observed a large dog lying on the sunny grass beneath
raise its ears as if about to bark, and then smoothing them back,
announce, by a wag of the tail, that some one approached whom it
did not consider a stranger. Mrs. Linton bent forward, and
listened breathlessly. The minute after a step traversed the hall;
the open house was too tempting for Heathcliff to resist walking
in: most likely he supposed that I was inclined to shirk my
promise, and so resolved to trust to his own audacity. With
straining eagerness Catherine gazed towards the entrance of her
Back to Full Books