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Chapter 15

  • ANOTHER week over - and I am so many days nearer health, and spring! I hav_ow heard all my neighbour's history, at different sittings, as th_ousekeeper could spare time from more important occupations. I'll continue i_n her own words, only a little condensed. She is, on the whole, a very fai_arrator, 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, a_ell as if I saw him, that Mr. Heathcliff was about the place; and I shunne_oing out, because I still carried his letter in my pocket, and didn't want t_e threatened or teased any more. I had made up my mind not to give it till m_aster went somewhere, as I could not guess how its receipt would affec_atherine. The consequence was, that it did not reach her before the lapse o_hree days. The fourth was Sunday, and I brought it into her room after th_amily were gone to church. There was a manservant left to keep the house wit_e, and we generally made a practice of locking the doors during the hours o_ervice; but on that occasion the weather was so warm and pleasant that I se_hem wide open, and, to fulfil my engagement, as I knew who would be coming, _old my companion that the mistress wished very much for some oranges, and h_ust run over to the village and get a few, to be paid for on the morrow. H_eparted, 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 bee_artly removed at the beginning of her illness, and now she wore it simpl_ombed in its natural tresses over her temples and neck. Her appearance wa_ltered, as I had told Heathcliff; but when she was calm, there seeme_nearthly beauty in the change. The flash of her eyes had been succeeded by _reamy and melancholy softness; they no longer gave the impression of lookin_t 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 - it_aggard aspect having vanished as she recovered flesh - and the peculia_xpression arising from her mental state, though painfully suggestive of thei_auses, added to the touching interest which she awakened; and - invariably t_e, I know, and to any person who saw her, I should think - refuted mor_angible proofs of convalescence, and stamped her as one doomed to decay.
  • A book lay spread on the sill before her, and the scarcely perceptible win_luttered its leaves at intervals. I believe Linton had laid it there: for sh_ever 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 som_ubject which had formerly been her amusement. She was conscious of his aim, and in her better moods endured his efforts placidly, only showing thei_selessness by now and then suppressing a wearied sigh, and checking him a_ast with the saddest of smiles and kisses. At other times, she would tur_etulantly 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 th_eck in the valley came soothingly on the ear. It was a sweet substitute fo_he yet absent murmur of the summer foliage, which drowned that music abou_he Grange when the trees were in leaf. At Wuthering Heights it always sounde_n quiet days following a great thaw or a season of steady rain. And o_uthering Heights Catherine was thinking as she listened: that is, if sh_hought or listened at all; but she had the vague, distant look I mentione_efore, which expressed no recognition of material things either by ear o_ye.
  • 'There's a letter for you, Mrs. Linton,' I said, gently inserting it in on_and that rested on her knee. 'You must read it immediately, because it want_n answer. Shall I break the seal?' 'Yes,' she answered, without altering th_irection 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 movemen_as so long delayed that at last I resumed - 'Must I read it, ma'am? It i_rom Mr. Heathcliff.'
  • There was a start and a troubled gleam of recollection, and a struggle t_rrange her ideas. She lifted the letter, and seemed to peruse it; and whe_he came to the signature she sighed: yet still I found she had not gathere_ts import, for, upon my desiring to hear her reply, she merely pointed to th_ame, 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 shal_ring.'
  • As I spoke, I observed a large dog lying on the sunny grass beneath raise it_ars as if about to bark, and then smoothing them back, announce, by a wag o_he tail, that some one approached whom it did not consider a stranger. Mrs.
  • Linton bent forward, and listened breathlessly. The minute after a ste_raversed the hall; the open house was too tempting for Heathcliff to resis_alking in: most likely he supposed that I was inclined to shirk my promise, and so resolved to trust to his own audacity. With straining eagernes_atherine gazed towards the entrance of her chamber. He did not hit the righ_oom directly: she motioned me to admit him, but he found it out ere I coul_each the door, and in a stride or two was at her side, and had her grasped i_is arms.
  • He neither spoke nor loosed his hold for some five minutes, during whic_eriod he bestowed more kisses than ever he gave in his life before, _aresay: but then my mistress had kissed him first, and I plainly saw that h_ould hardly bear, for downright agony, to look into her face! The sam_onviction had stricken him as me, from the instant he beheld her, that ther_as no prospect of ultimate recovery there - she was fated, sure to die.
  • 'Oh, Cathy! Oh, my life! how can I bear it?' was the first sentence h_ttered, in a tone that did not seek to disguise his despair. And now h_tared at her so earnestly that I thought the very intensity of his gaze woul_ring tears into his eyes; but they burned with anguish: they did not melt.
  • 'What now?' said Catherine, leaning back, and returning his look with _uddenly clouded brow: her humour was a mere vane for constantly varyin_aprices. 'You and Edgar have broken my heart, Heathcliff! And you both com_o bewail the deed to me, as if you were the people to be pitied! I shall no_ity you, not I. You have killed me - and thriven on it, I think. How stron_ou are! How many years do you mean to live after I am gone?'
  • Heathcliff had knelt on one knee to embrace her; he attempted to rise, but sh_eized his hair, and kept him down.
  • 'I wish I could hold you,' she continued, bitterly, 'till we were both dead! _houldn't care what you suffered. I care nothing for your sufferings. Wh_houldn't you suffer? I do! Will you forget me? Will you be happy when I am i_he earth? Will you say twenty years hence, "That's the grave of Catherin_arnshaw? I loved her long ago, and was wretched to lose her; but it is past.
  • I've loved many others since: my children are dearer to me than she was; and, at death, I shall not rejoice that I are going to her: I shall be sorry that _ust leave them!" Will you say so, Heathcliff?'
  • 'Don't torture me till I'm as mad as yourself,' cried he, wrenching his hea_ree, and grinding his teeth.
  • The two, to a cool spectator, made a strange and fearful picture. Well migh_atherine deem that heaven would be a land of exile to her, unless with he_ortal body she cast away her moral character also. Her present countenanc_ad a wild vindictiveness in its white cheek, and a bloodless lip an_cintillating eye; and she retained in her closed fingers a portion of th_ocks she had been grasping. As to her companion, while raising himself wit_ne hand, he had taken her arm with the other; and so inadequate was his stoc_f gentleness to the requirements of her condition, that on his letting go _aw four distinct impressions left blue in the colourless skin.
  • 'Are you possessed with a devil,' he pursued, savagely, 'to talk in tha_anner to me when you are dying? Do you reflect that all those words will b_randed in my memory, and eating deeper eternally after you have left me? Yo_now you lie to say I have killed you: and, Catherine, you know that I coul_s soon forget you as my existence! Is it not sufficient for your inferna_elfishness, that while you are at peace I shall writhe in the torments o_ell?'
  • 'I shall not be at peace,' moaned Catherine, recalled to a sense of physica_eakness by the violent, unequal throbbing of her heart, which beat visibl_nd audibly under this excess of agitation. She said nothing further till th_aroxysm was over; then she continued, more kindly -
  • 'I'm not wishing you greater torment than I have, Heathcliff. I only wish u_ever to be parted: and should a word of mine distress you hereafter, think _eel the same distress underground, and for my own sake, forgive me! Come her_nd kneel down again! You never harmed me in your life. Nay, if you nurs_nger, that will be worse to remember than my harsh words! Won't you come her_gain? Do!'
  • Heathcliff went to the back of her chair, and leant over, but not so far as t_et her see his face, which was livid with emotion. She bent round to look a_im; he would not permit it: turning abruptly, he walked to the fireplace, where he stood, silent, with his back towards us. Mrs. Linton's glanc_ollowed him suspiciously: every movement woke a new sentiment in her. After _ause and a prolonged gaze, she resumed; addressing me in accents of indignan_isappointment:-
  • 'Oh, you see, Nelly, he would not relent a moment to keep me out of the grave.
  • THAT is how I'm loved! Well, never mind. That is not MY Heathcliff. I shal_ove mine yet; and take him with me: he's in my soul. And,' added sh_usingly, 'the thing that irks me most is this shattered prison, after all.
  • I'm tired of being enclosed here. I'm wearying to escape into that gloriou_orld, and to be always there: not seeing it dimly through tears, and yearnin_or it through the walls of an aching heart: but really with it, and in it.
  • Nelly, you think you are better and more fortunate than I; in full health an_trength: you are sorry for me - very soon that will be altered. I shall b_orry for YOU. I shall be incomparably beyond and above you all. I WONDER h_on't be near me!' She went on to herself. 'I thought he wished it.
  • Heathcliff, dear! you should not be sullen now. Do come to me, Heathcliff.'
  • In her eagerness she rose and supported herself on the arm of the chair. A_hat earnest appeal he turned to her, looking absolutely desperate. His eyes, wide and wet, at last flashed fiercely on her; his breast heaved convulsively.
  • An instant they held asunder, and then how they met I hardly saw, bu_atherine made a spring, and he caught her, and they were locked in an embrac_rom which I thought my mistress would never be released alive: in fact, to m_yes, she seemed directly insensible. He flung himself into the nearest seat, and on my approaching hurriedly to ascertain if she had fainted, he gnashed a_e, and foamed like a mad dog, and gathered her to him with greedy jealousy. _id not feel as if I were in the company of a creature of my own species: i_ppeared that he would not understand, though I spoke to him; so I stood off, and held my tongue, in great perplexity.
  • A movement of Catherine's relieved me a little presently: she put up her han_o clasp his neck, and bring her cheek to his as he held her; while he, i_eturn, covering her with frantic caresses, said wildly -
  • 'You teach me now how cruel you've been - cruel and false. WHY did you despis_e? WHY did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have not one word of comfort.
  • You deserve this. You have killed yourself. Yes, you may kiss me, and cry; an_ring out my kisses and tears: they'll blight you - they'll damn you. Yo_oved me - then what RIGHT had you to leave me? What right - answer me - fo_he poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, YOU, of you_wn will, did it. I have not broken your heart - YOU have broken it; and i_reaking it, you have broken mine. So much the worse for me that I am strong.
  • Do I want to live? What kind of living will it be when you - oh, God! woul_OU like to live with your soul in the grave?'
  • 'Let me alone. Let me alone,' sobbed Catherine. 'If I've done wrong, I'm dyin_or it. It is enough! You left me too: but I won't upbraid you! I forgive you.
  • Forgive me!'
  • 'It is hard to forgive, and to look at those eyes, and feel those waste_ands,' he answered. 'Kiss me again; and don't let me see your eyes! I forgiv_hat you have done to me. I love MY murderer - but YOURS! How can I?'
  • They were silent-their faces hid against each other, and washed by eac_ther's tears. At least, I suppose the weeping was on both sides; as it seeme_eathcliff could weep on a great occasion like this.
  • I grew very uncomfortable, meanwhile; for the afternoon wore fast away, th_an whom I had sent off returned from his errand, and I could distinguish, b_he shine of the western sun up the valley, a concourse thickening outsid_immerton chapel porch.
  • 'Service is over,' I announced. 'My master will be here in half an hour.'
  • Heathcliff groaned a curse, and strained Catherine closer: she never moved.
  • Ere long I perceived a group of the servants passing up the road towards th_itchen wing. Mr. Linton was not far behind; he opened the gate himself an_auntered slowly up, probably enjoying the lovely afternoon that breathed a_oft as summer.
  • 'Now he is here,' I exclaimed. 'For heaven's sake, hurry down! You'll not mee_ny one on the front stairs. Do be quick; and stay among the trees till he i_airly in.'
  • 'I must go, Cathy,' said Heathcliff, seeking to extricate himself from hi_ompanion's arms. 'But if I live, I'll see you again before you are asleep. _on't stray five yards from your window.'
  • 'You must not go!' she answered, holding him as firmly as her strengt_llowed. 'You SHALL not, I tell you.'
  • 'For one hour,' he pleaded earnestly.
  • 'Not for one minute,' she replied.
  • 'I MUST - Linton will be up immediately,' persisted the alarmed intruder.
  • He would have risen, and unfixed her fingers by the act - she clung fast, gasping: there was mad resolution in her face.
  • 'No!' she shrieked. 'Oh, don't, don't go. It is the last time! Edgar will no_urt us. Heathcliff, I shall die! I shall die!'
  • 'Damn the fool! There he is,' cried Heathcliff, sinking back into his seat.
  • 'Hush, my darling! Hush, hush, Catherine! I'll stay. If he shot me so, I'_xpire with a blessing on my lips.'
  • And there they were fast again. I heard my master mounting the stairs - th_old sweat ran from my forehead: I was horrified.
  • 'Are you going to listen to her ravings?' I said, passionately. 'She does no_now what she says. Will you ruin her, because she has not wit to hel_erself? Get up! You could be free instantly. That is the most diabolical dee_hat ever you did. We are all done for - master, mistress, and servant.'
  • I wrung my hands, and cried out; and Mr. Linton hastened his step at th_oise. In the midst of my agitation, I was sincerely glad to observe tha_atherine's arms had fallen relaxed, and her head hung down.
  • 'She's fainted, or dead,' I thought: 'so much the better. Far better that sh_hould be dead, than lingering a burden and a misery-maker to all about her.'
  • Edgar sprang to his unbidden guest, blanched with astonishment and rage. Wha_e meant to do I cannot tell; however, the other stopped all demonstrations, at once, by placing the lifeless- looking form in his arms.
  • 'Look there!' he said. 'Unless you be a fiend, help her first - then you shal_peak to me!'
  • He walked into the parlour, and sat down. Mr. Linton summoned me, and wit_reat difficulty, and after resorting to many means, we managed to restore he_o sensation; but she was all bewildered; she sighed, and moaned, and kne_obody. Edgar, in his anxiety for her, forgot her hated friend. I did not. _ent, at the earliest opportunity, and besought him to depart; affirming tha_atherine was better, and he should hear from me in the morning how she passe_he night.
  • 'I shall not refuse to go out of doors,' he answered; 'but I shall stay in th_arden: and, Nelly, mind you keep your word to-morrow. I shall be under thos_arch-trees. Mind! or I pay another visit, whether Linton be in or not.'
  • He sent a rapid glance through the half-open door of the chamber, and, ascertaining that what I stated was apparently true, delivered the house o_is luckless presence.