WE had sad work with little Cathy that day: she rose in high glee, eager t_oin her cousin, and such passionate tears and lamentations followed the new_f his departure that Edgar himself was obliged to soothe her, by affirming h_hould come back soon: he added, however, 'if I can get him'; and there wer_o hopes of that. This promise poorly pacified her; but time was more potent; and though still at intervals she inquired of her father when Linton woul_eturn, before she did see him again his features had waxed so dim in he_emory that she did not recognise him.
When I chanced to encounter the housekeeper of Wuthering Heights, in payin_usiness visits to Gimmerton, I used to ask how the young master got on; fo_e lived almost as secluded as Catherine herself, and was never to be seen. _ould gather from her that he continued in weak health, and was a tiresom_nmate. She said Mr. Heathcliff seemed to dislike him ever longer and worse, though he took some trouble to conceal it: he had an antipathy to the sound o_is voice, and could not do at all with his sitting in the same room with hi_any minutes together. There seldom passed much talk between them: Linto_earnt his lessons and spent his evenings in a small apartment they called th_arlour: or else lay in bed all day: for he was constantly getting coughs, an_olds, and aches, and pains of some sort.
'And I never know such a fainthearted creature,' added the woman; 'nor one s_areful of hisseln. He WILL go on, if I leave the window open a bit late i_he evening. Oh! it's killing, a breath of night air! And he must have a fir_n the middle of summer; and Joseph's bacca-pipe is poison; and he must alway_ave sweets and dainties, and always milk, milk for ever - heeding naught ho_he rest of us are pinched in winter; and there he'll sit, wrapped in hi_urred cloak in his chair by the fire, with some toast and water or other slo_n the hob to sip at; and if Hareton, for pity, comes to amuse him - Hareto_s not bad-natured, though he's rough - they're sure to part, one swearing an_he other crying. I believe the master would relish Earnshaw's thrashing hi_o a mummy, if he were not his son; and I'm certain he would be fit to tur_im out of doors, if he knew half the nursing he gives hisseln. But then h_on't go into danger of temptation: he never enters the parlour, and shoul_inton show those ways in the house where he is, he sends him up-stair_irectly.'
I divined, from this account, that utter lack of sympathy had rendered youn_eathcliff selfish and disagreeable, if he were not so originally; and m_nterest in him, consequently, decayed: though still I was moved with a sens_f grief at his lot, and a wish that he had been left with us. Mr. Edga_ncouraged me to gain information: he thought a great deal about him, I fancy, and would have run some risk to see him; and he told me once to ask th_ousekeeper whether he ever came into the village? She said he had only bee_wice, on horseback, accompanying his father; and both times he pretended t_e quite knocked up for three or four days afterwards. That housekeeper left, if I recollect rightly, two years after he came; and another, whom I did no_now, was her successor; she lives there still.
Time wore on at the Grange in its former pleasant way till Miss Cathy reache_ixteen. On the anniversary of her birth we never manifested any signs o_ejoicing, because it was also the anniversary of my late mistress's death.
Her father invariably spent that day alone in the library; and walked, a_usk, as far as Gimmerton kirkyard, where he would frequently prolong his sta_eyond midnight. Therefore Catherine was thrown on her own resources fo_musement. This twentieth of March was a beautiful spring day, and when he_ather had retired, my young lady came down dressed for going out, and sai_he asked to have a ramble on the edge of the moor with me: Mr. Linton ha_iven her leave, if we went only a short distance and were back within th_our.
'So make haste, Ellen!' she cried. 'I know where I wish to go; where a colon_f moor-game are settled: I want to see whether they have made their nest_et.'
'That must be a good distance up,' I answered; 'they don't breed on the edg_f the moor.'
'No, it's not,' she said. 'I've gone very near with papa.'
I put on my bonnet and sallied out, thinking nothing more of the matter. Sh_ounded before me, and returned to my side, and was off again like a youn_reyhound; and, at first, I found plenty of entertainment in listening to th_arks singing far and near, and enjoying the sweet, warm sunshine; an_atching her, my pet and my delight, with her golden ringlets flying loos_ehind, and her bright cheek, as soft and pure in its bloom as a wild rose, and her eyes radiant with cloudless pleasure. She was a happy creature, and a_ngel, in those days. It's a pity she could not be content.
'Well,' said I, 'where are your moor-game, Miss Cathy? We should be at them: the Grange park-fence is a great way off now.'
'Oh, a little further - only a little further, Ellen,' was her answer, continually. 'Climb to that hillock, pass that bank, and by the time you reac_he other side I shall have raised the birds.'
But there were so many hillocks and banks to climb and pass, that, at length, I began to be weary, and told her we must halt, and retrace our steps. _houted to her, as she had outstripped me a long way; she either did not hea_r did not regard, for she still sprang on, and I was compelled to follow.
Finally, she dived into a hollow; and before I came in sight of her again, sh_as two miles nearer Wuthering Heights than her own home; and I beheld _ouple of persons arrest her, one of whom I felt convinced was Mr. Heathclif_imself.
Cathy had been caught in the fact of plundering, or, at least, hunting out th_ests of the grouse. The Heights were Heathcliff's land, and he was reprovin_he poacher.
'I've neither taken any nor found any,' she said, as I toiled to them, expanding her hands in corroboration of the statement. 'I didn't mean to tak_hem; but papa told me there were quantities up here, and I wished to see th_ggs.'
Heathcliff glanced at me with an ill-meaning smile, expressing hi_cquaintance with the party, and, consequently, his malevolence towards it, and demanded who 'papa' was?
'Mr. Linton of Thrushcross Grange,' she replied. 'I thought you did not kno_e, or you wouldn't have spoken in that way.'
'You suppose papa is highly esteemed and respected, then?' he said, sarcastically.
'And what are you?' inquired Catherine, gazing curiously on the speaker. 'Tha_an I've seen before. Is he your son?'
She pointed to Hareton, the other individual, who had gained nothing bu_ncreased bulk and strength by the addition of two years to his age: he seeme_s awkward and rough as ever.
'Miss Cathy,' I interrupted, 'it will be three hours instead of one that w_re out, presently. We really must go back.'
'No, that man is not my son,' answered Heathcliff, pushing me aside. 'But _ave one, and you have seen him before too; and, though your nurse is in _urry, I think both you and she would be the better for a little rest. Wil_ou just turn this nab of heath, and walk into my house? You'll get hom_arlier for the ease; and you shall receive a kind welcome.'
I whispered Catherine that she mustn't, on any account, accede to th_roposal: it was entirely out of the question.
'Why?' she asked, aloud. 'I'm tired of running, and the ground is dewy: _an't sit here. Let us go, Ellen. Besides, he says I have seen his son. He'_istaken, I think; but I guess where he lives: at the farmhouse I visited i_oming from Penistone' Crags. Don't you?'
'I do. Come, Nelly, hold your tongue - it will he a treat for her to look i_n us. Hareton, get forwards with the lass. You shall walk with me, Nelly.'
'No, she's not going to any such place,' I cried, struggling to release m_rm, which he had seized: but she was almost at the door-stones already, scampering round the brow at full speed. Her appointed companion did no_retend to escort her: he shied off by the road-side, and vanished.
'Mr. Heathcliff, it's very wrong,' I continued: 'you know you mean no good.
And there she'll see Linton, and all will be told as soon as ever we return; and I shall have the blame.'
'I want her to see Linton,' he answered; 'he's looking better these few days; it's not often he's fit to be seen. And we'll soon persuade her to keep th_isit secret: where is the harm of it?'
'The harm of it is, that her father would hate me if he found I suffered he_o enter your house; and I am convinced you have a bad design in encouragin_er to do so,' I replied.
'My design is as honest as possible. I'll inform you of its whole scope,' h_aid. 'That the two cousins may fall in love, and get married. I'm actin_enerously to your master: his young chit has no expectations, and should sh_econd my wishes she'll be provided for at once as joint successor wit_inton.'
'If Linton died,' I answered, 'and his life is quite uncertain, Catherin_ould be the heir.'
'No, she would not,' he said. 'There is no clause in the will to secure it so: his property would go to me; but, to prevent disputes, I desire their union, and am resolved to bring it about.'
'And I'm resolved she shall never approach your house with me again,' _eturned, as we reached the gate, where Miss Cathy waited our coming.
Heathcliff bade me be quiet; and, preceding us up the path, hastened to ope_he door. My young lady gave him several looks, as if she could not exactl_ake up her mind what to think of him; but now he smiled when he met her eye, and softened his voice in addressing her; and I was foolish enough to imagin_he memory of her mother might disarm him from desiring her injury. Linto_tood on the hearth. He had been out walking in the fields, for his cap wa_n, and he was calling to Joseph to bring him dry shoes. He had grown tall o_is age, still wanting some months of sixteen. His features were pretty yet, and his eye and complexion brighter than I remembered them, though with merel_emporary lustre borrowed from the salubrious air and genial sun.
'Now, who is that?' asked Mr. Heathcliff, turning to Cathy. 'Can you tell?'
'Your son?' she said, having doubtfully surveyed, first one and then th_ther.
'Yes, yes,' answered he: 'but is this the only time you have beheld him?
Think! Ah! you have a short memory. Linton, don't you recall your cousin, tha_ou used to tease us so with wishing to see?'
'What, Linton!' cried Cathy, kindling into joyful surprise at the name. 'I_hat little Linton? He's taller than I am! Are you Linton?'
The youth stepped forward, and acknowledged himself: she kissed him fervently, and they gazed with wonder at the change time had wrought in the appearance o_ach. Catherine had reached her full height; her figure was both plump an_lender, elastic as steel, and her whole aspect sparkling with health an_pirits. Linton's looks and movements were very languid, and his for_xtremely slight; but there was a grace in his manner that mitigated thes_efects, and rendered him not unpleasing. After exchanging numerous marks o_ondness with him, his cousin went to Mr. Heathcliff, who lingered by th_oor, dividing his attention between the objects inside and those that la_ithout: pretending, that is, to observe the latter, and really noting th_ormer alone.
'And you are my uncle, then!' she cried, reaching up to salute him. 'I though_ liked you, though you were cross at first. Why don't you visit at the Grang_ith Linton? To live all these years such close neighbours, and never see us, is odd: what have you done so for?'
'I visited it once or twice too often before you were born,' he answered.
'There - damn it! If you have any kisses to spare, give them to Linton: the_re thrown away on me.'
'Naughty Ellen!' exclaimed Catherine, flying to attack me next with her lavis_aresses. 'Wicked Ellen! to try to hinder me from entering. But I'll take thi_alk every morning in future: may I, uncle? and sometimes bring papa. Won'_ou be glad to see us?'
'Of course,' replied the uncle, with a hardly suppressed grimace, resultin_rom his deep aversion to both the proposed visitors. 'But stay,' h_ontinued, turning towards the young lady. 'Now I think of it, I'd better tel_ou. Mr. Linton has a prejudice against me: we quarrelled at one time of ou_ives, with unchristian ferocity; and, if you mention coming here to him, he'll put a veto on your visits altogether. Therefore, you must not mentio_t, unless you be careless of seeing your cousin hereafter: you may come, i_ou will, but you must not mention it.'
'Why did you quarrel?' asked Catherine, considerably crestfallen.
'He thought me too poor to wed his sister,' answered Heathcliff, 'and wa_rieved that I got her: his pride was hurt, and he'll never forgive it.'
'That's wrong!' said the young lady: 'some time I'll tell him so. But Linto_nd I have no share in your quarrel. I'll not come here, then; he shall com_o the Grange.'
'It will be too far for me,' murmured her cousin: 'to walk four miles woul_ill me. No, come here, Miss Catherine, now and then: not every morning, bu_nce or twice a week.'
The father launched towards his son a glance of bitter contempt.
'I am afraid, Nelly, I shall lose my labour,' he muttered to me. 'Mis_atherine, as the ninny calls her, will discover his value, and send him t_he devil. Now, if it had been Hareton! - Do you know that, twenty times _ay, I covet Hareton, with all his degradation? I'd have loved the lad had h_een some one else. But I think he's safe from HER love. I'll pit him agains_hat paltry creature, unless it bestir itself briskly. We calculate it wil_carcely last till it is eighteen. Oh, confound the vapid thing! He's absorbe_n drying his feet, and never looks at her. - Linton!'
'Yes, father,' answered the boy.
'Have you nothing to show your cousin anywhere about, not even a rabbit or _easel's nest? Take her into the garden, before you change your shoes; an_nto the stable to see your horse.'
'Wouldn't you rather sit here?' asked Linton, addressing Cathy in a tone whic_xpressed reluctance to move again.
'I don't know,' she replied, casting a longing look to the door, and evidentl_ager to be active.
He kept his seat, and shrank closer to the fire. Heathcliff rose, and wen_nto the kitchen, and from thence to the yard, calling out for Hareton.
Hareton responded, and presently the two re-entered. The young man had bee_ashing himself, as was visible by the glow on his cheeks and his wetted hair.
'Oh, I'll ask YOU, uncle,' cried Miss Cathy, recollecting the housekeeper'_ssertion. 'That is not my cousin, is he?'
'Yes,' he, replied, 'your mother's nephew. Don't you like him!'
Catherine looked queer.
'Is he not a handsome lad?' he continued.
The uncivil little thing stood on tiptoe, and whispered a sentence i_eathcliff's ear. He laughed; Hareton darkened: I perceived he was ver_ensitive to suspected slights, and had obviously a dim notion of hi_nferiority. But his master or guardian chased the frown by exclaiming -
'You'll be the favourite among us, Hareton! She says you are a - What was it?
Well, something very flattering. Here! you go with her round the farm. An_ehave like a gentleman, mind! Don't use any bad words; and don't stare whe_he young lady is not looking at you, and be ready to hide your face when sh_s; and, when you speak, say your words slowly, and keep your hands out o_our pockets. Be off, and entertain her as nicely as you can.'
He watched the couple walking past the window. Earnshaw had his countenanc_ompletely averted from his companion. He seemed studying the familia_andscape with a stranger's and an artist's interest. Catherine took a sl_ook at him, expressing small admiration. She then turned her attention t_eeking out objects of amusement for herself, and tripped merrily on, liltin_ tune to supply the lack of conversation.
'I've tied his tongue,' observed Heathcliff. 'He'll not venture a singl_yllable all the time! Nelly, you recollect meat his age - nay, some year_ounger. Did I ever look so stupid: so "gaumless," as Joseph calls it?'
'Worse,' I replied, 'because more sullen with it.'
'I've a pleasure in him,' he continued, reflecting aloud. 'He has satisfied m_xpectations. If he were a born fool I should not enjoy it half so much. Bu_e's no fool; and I can sympathise with all his feelings, having felt the_yself. I know what he suffers now, for instance, exactly: it is merely _eginning of what he shall suffer, though. And he'll never be able to emerg_rom his bathos of coarseness and ignorance. I've got him faster than hi_coundrel of a father secured me, and lower; for he takes a pride in hi_rutishness. I've taught him to scorn everything extra- animal as silly an_eak. Don't you think Hindley would be proud of his son, if he could see him?
almost as proud as I am of mine. But there's this difference; one is gold pu_o the use of paving- stones, and the other is tin polished to ape a servic_f silver. MINE has nothing valuable about it; yet I shall have the merit o_aking it go as far as such poor stuff can go. HIS had first-rate qualities, and they are lost: rendered worse than unavailing. I have nothing to regret; he would have more than any but I are aware of. And the best of it is, Hareto_s damnably fond of me! You'll own that I've outmatched Hindley there. If th_ead villain could rise from his grave to abuse me for his offspring's wrongs, I should have the fun of seeing the said offspring fight him back again, indignant that he should dare to rail at the one friend he has in the world!'
Heathcliff chuckled a fiendish laugh at the idea. I made no reply, because _aw that he expected none. Meantime, our young companion, who sat too remove_rom us to hear what was said, began to evince symptoms of uneasiness, probably repenting that he had denied himself the treat of Catherine's societ_or fear of a little fatigue. His father remarked the restless glance_andering to the window, and the hand irresolutely extended towards his cap.
'Get up, you idle boy!' he exclaimed, with assumed heartiness.
'Away after them! they are just at the corner, by the stand of hives.'
Linton gathered his energies, and left the hearth. The lattice was open, and, as he stepped out, I heard Cathy inquiring of her unsociable attendant wha_as that inscription over the door? Hareton stared up, and scratched his hea_ike a true clown.
'It's some damnable writing,' he answered. 'I cannot read it.'
'Can't read it?' cried Catherine; 'I can read it: it's English. But I want t_now why it is there.'
Linton giggled: the first appearance of mirth he had exhibited.
'He does not know his letters,' he said to his cousin. 'Could you believe i_he existence of such a colossal dunce?'
'Is he all as he should be?' asked Miss Cathy, seriously; 'or is he simple: not right? I've questioned him twice now, and each time he looked so stupid _hink he does not understand me. I can hardly understand him, I'm sure!'
Linton repeated his laugh, and glanced at Hareton tauntingly; who certainl_id not seem quite clear of comprehension at that moment.
'There's nothing the matter but laziness; is there, Earnshaw?' he said. 'M_ousin fancies you are an idiot. There you experience the consequence o_corning "book-larning," as you would say. Have you noticed, Catherine, hi_rightful Yorkshire pronunciation?'
'Why, where the devil is the use on't?' growled Hareton, more ready i_nswering his daily companion. He was about to enlarge further, but the tw_oungsters broke into a noisy fit of merriment: my giddy miss being delighte_o discover that she might turn his strange talk to matter of amusement.
'Where is the use of the devil in that sentence?' tittered Linton. 'Papa tol_ou not to say any bad words, and you can't open your mouth without one. D_ry to behave like a gentleman, now do!'
'If thou weren't more a lass than a lad, I'd fell thee this minute, I would; pitiful lath of a crater!' retorted the angry boor, retreating, while his fac_urnt with mingled rage and mortification! for he was conscious of bein_nsulted, and embarrassed how to resent it.
Mr. Heathcliff having overheard the conversation, as well as I, smiled when h_aw him go; but immediately afterwards cast a look of singular aversion on th_lippant pair, who remained chattering in the door-way: the boy findin_nimation enough while discussing Hareton's faults and deficiencies, an_elating anecdotes of his goings on; and the girl relishing his pert an_piteful sayings, without considering the ill-nature they evinced. I began t_islike, more than to compassionate Linton, and to excuse his father in som_easure for holding him cheap.
We stayed till afternoon: I could not tear Miss Cathy away sooner; but happil_y master had not quitted his apartment, and remained ignorant of ou_rolonged absence. As we walked home, I would fain have enlightened my charg_n the characters of the people we had quitted: but she got it into her hea_hat I was prejudiced against them.
'Aha!' she cried, 'you take papa's side, Ellen: you are partial I know; o_lse you wouldn't have cheated me so many years into the notion that Linto_ived a long way from here. I'm really extremely angry; only I'm so pleased _an't show it! But you must hold your tongue about MY uncle; he's my uncle, remember; and I'll scold papa for quarrelling with him.'
And so she ran on, till I relinquished the endeavour to convince her of he_istake. She did not mention the visit that night, because she did not see Mr.
Linton. Next day it all came out, sadly to my chagrin; and still I was no_ltogether sorry: I thought the burden of directing and warning would be mor_fficiently borne by him than me. But he was too timid in giving satisfactor_easons for his wish that she should shun connection with the household of th_eights, and Catherine liked good reasons for every restraint that harasse_er petted will.
'Papa!' she exclaimed, after the morning's salutations, 'guess whom I sa_esterday, in my walk on the moors. Ah, papa, you started! you've not don_ight, have you, now? I saw - but listen, and you shall hear how I found yo_ut; and Ellen, who is in league with you, and yet pretended to pity me so, when I kept hoping, and was always disappointed about Linton's coming back!'
She gave a faithful account of her excursion and its consequences; and m_aster, though he cast more than one reproachful look at me, said nothing til_he had concluded. Then he drew her to him, and asked if she knew why he ha_oncealed Linton's near neighbourhood from her? Could she think it was to den_er a pleasure that she might harmlessly enjoy?
'It was because you disliked Mr. Heathcliff,' she answered.
'Then you believe I care more for my own feelings than yours, Cathy?' he said.
'No, it was not because I disliked Mr. Heathcliff, but because Mr. Heathclif_islikes me; and is a most diabolical man, delighting to wrong and ruin thos_e hates, if they give him the slightest opportunity. I knew that you coul_ot keep up an acquaintance with your cousin without being brought int_ontact with him; and I knew he would detest you on my account; so for you_wn good, and nothing else, I took precautions that you should not see Linto_gain. I meant to explain this some time as you grew older, and I'm sorry _elayed it.'
'But Mr. Heathcliff was quite cordial, papa,' observed Catherine, not at al_onvinced; 'and he didn't object to our seeing each other: he said I migh_ome to his house when I pleased; only I must not tell you, because you ha_uarrelled with him, and would not forgive him for marrying aunt Isabella. An_ou won't. YOU are the one to be blamed: he is willing to let us be friends, at least; Linton and I; and you are not.'
My master, perceiving that she would not take his word for her uncle-in-law'_vil disposition, gave a hasty sketch of his conduct to Isabella, and th_anner in which Wuthering Heights became his property. He could not bear t_iscourse long upon the topic; for though he spoke little of it, he still fel_he same horror and detestation of his ancient enemy that had occupied hi_eart ever since Mrs. Linton's death. 'She might have been living yet, if i_ad not been for him!' was his constant bitter reflection; and, in his eyes, Heathcliff seemed a murderer. Miss Cathy - conversant with no bad deeds excep_er own slight acts of disobedience, injustice, and passion, arising from ho_emper and thoughtlessness, and repented of on the day they were committed - was amazed at the blackness of spirit that could brood on and cover reveng_or years, and deliberately prosecute its plans without a visitation o_emorse. She appeared so deeply impressed and shocked at this new view o_uman nature - excluded from all her studies and all her ideas till now - tha_r. Edgar deemed it unnecessary to pursue the subject. He merely added: 'Yo_ill know hereafter, darling, why I wish you to avoid his house and family; now return to your old employments and amusements, and think no more abou_hem.'
Catherine kissed her father, and sat down quietly to her lessons for a coupl_f hours, according to custom; then she accompanied him into the grounds, an_he whole day passed as usual: but in the evening, when she had retired to he_oom, and I went to help her to undress, I found her crying, on her knees b_he bedside.
'Oh, fie, silly child!' I exclaimed. 'If you had any real griefs you'd b_shamed to waste a tear on this little contrariety. You never had one shado_f substantial sorrow, Miss Catherine. Suppose, for a minute, that master an_ were dead, and you were by yourself in the world: how would you feel, then?
Compare the present occasion with such an affliction as that, and be thankfu_or the friends you have, instead of coveting more.'
'I'm not crying for myself, Ellen,' she answered, 'it's for him. He expecte_o see me again to-morrow, and there he'll be so disappointed: and he'll wai_or me, and I sha'n't come!'
'Nonsense!' said I, 'do you imagine he has thought as much of you as you hav_f him? Hasn't he Hareton for a companion? Not one in a hundred would weep a_osing a relation they had just seen twice, for two afternoons. Linton wil_onjecture how it is, and trouble himself no further about you.'
'But may I not write a note to tell him why I cannot come?' she asked, risin_o her feet. 'And just send those books I promised to lend him? His books ar_ot as nice as mine, and he wanted to have them extremely, when I told him ho_nteresting they were. May I not, Ellen?'
'No, indeed! no, indeed!' replied I with decision. 'Then he would write t_ou, and there'd never be an end of it. No, Miss Catherine, the acquaintanc_ust be dropped entirely: so papa expects, and I shall see that it is done.'
'But how can one little note - ?' she recommenced, putting on an implorin_ountenance.
'Silence!' I interrupted. 'We'll not begin with your little notes. Get int_ed.'
She threw at me a very naughty look, so naughty that I would not kiss he_ood-night at first: I covered her up, and shut her door, in grea_ispleasure; but, repenting half-way, I returned softly, and lo! there wa_iss standing at the table with a bit of blank paper before her and a penci_n her hand, which she guiltily slipped out of sight on my entrance.
'You'll get nobody to take that, Catherine,' I said, 'if you write it; and a_resent I shall put out your candle.'
I set the extinguisher on the flame, receiving as I did so a slap on my han_nd a petulant 'cross thing!' I then quitted her again, and she drew the bol_n one of her worst, most peevish humours. The letter was finished an_orwarded to its destination by a milk- fetcher who came from the village; bu_hat I didn't learn till some time afterwards. Weeks passed on, and Cath_ecovered her temper; though she grew wondrous fond of stealing off to corner_y herself and often, if I came near her suddenly while reading, she woul_tart and bend over the book, evidently desirous to hide it; and I detecte_dges of loose paper sticking out beyond the leaves. She also got a trick o_oming down early in the morning and lingering about the kitchen, as if sh_ere expecting the arrival of something; and she had a small drawer in _abinet in the library, which she would trifle over for hours, and whose ke_he took special care to remove when she left it.
One day, as she inspected this drawer, I observed that the playthings an_rinkets which recently formed its contents were transmuted into bits o_olded paper. My curiosity and suspicions were roused; I determined to take _eep at her mysterious treasures; so, at night, as soon as she and my maste_ere safe upstairs, I searched, and readily found among my house keys one tha_ould fit the lock. Having opened, I emptied the whole contents into my apron, and took them with me to examine at leisure in my own chamber. Though I coul_ot but suspect, I was still surprised to discover that they were a mass o_orrespondence - daily almost, it must have been - from Linton Heathcliff: answers to documents forwarded by her. The earlier dated were embarrassed an_hort; gradually, however, they expanded into copious love- letters, foolish, as the age of the writer rendered natural, yet with touches here and ther_hich I thought were borrowed from a more experienced source. Some of the_truck me as singularly odd compounds of ardour and flatness; commencing i_trong feeling, and concluding in the affected, wordy style that a schoolbo_ight use to a fancied, incorporeal sweetheart. Whether they satisfied Cathy _on't know; but they appeared very worthless trash to me. After turning ove_s many as I thought proper, I tied them in a handkerchief and set them aside, relocking the vacant drawer.
Following her habit, my young lady descended early, and visited the kitchen: _atched her go to the door, on the arrival of a certain little boy; and, whil_he dairymaid filled his can, she tucked something into his jacket pocket, an_lucked something out. I went round by the garden, and laid wait for th_essenger; who fought valorously to defend his trust, and we spilt the mil_etween us; but I succeeded in abstracting the epistle; and, threatenin_erious consequences if he did not look sharp home, I remained under the wal_nd perused Miss Cathy's affectionate composition. It was more simple and mor_loquent than her cousin's: very pretty and very silly. I shook my head, an_ent meditating into the house. The day being wet, she could not diver_erself with rambling about the park; so, at the conclusion of her mornin_tudies, she resorted to the solace of the drawer. Her father sat reading a_he table; and I, on purpose, had sought a bit of work in some unrippe_ringes of the window-curtain, keeping my eye steadily fixed on he_roceedings. Never did any bird flying back to a plundered nest, which it ha_eft brimful of chirping young ones, express more complete despair, in it_nguished cries and flutterings, than she by her single 'Oh!' and the chang_hat transfigured her late happy countenance. Mr. Linton looked up.
'What is the matter, love? Have you hurt yourself?' he said.
His tone and look assured her HE had not been the discoverer of the hoard.
'No, papa!' she gasped. 'Ellen! Ellen! come up-stairs - I'm sick!'
I obeyed her summons, and accompanied her out.
'Oh, Ellen! you have got them,' she commenced immediately, dropping on he_nees, when we were enclosed alone. 'Oh, give them to me, and I'll never, never do so again! Don't tell papa. You have not told papa, Ellen? say yo_ave not? I've been exceedingly naughty, but I won't do it any more!'
With a grave severity in my manner I bade her stand up.
'So,' I exclaimed, 'Miss Catherine, you are tolerably far on, it seems: yo_ay well be ashamed of them! A fine bundle of trash you study in your leisur_ours, to be sure: why, it's good enough to be printed! And what do yo_uppose the master will think when I display it before him? I hav'n't shown i_et, but you needn't imagine I shall keep your ridiculous secrets. For shame!
and you must have led the way in writing such absurdities: he would not hav_hought of beginning, I'm certain.'
'I didn't! I didn't!' sobbed Cathy, fit to break her heart. 'I didn't onc_hink of loving him till - '
'LOVING!' cried I, as scornfully as I could utter the word. 'LOVING! Di_nybody ever hear the like! I might just as well talk of loving the miller wh_omes once a year to buy our corn. Pretty loving, indeed! and both time_ogether you have seen Linton hardly four hours in your life! Now here is th_abyish trash. I'm going with it to the library; and we'll see what you_ather says to such LOVING.'
She sprang at her precious epistles, but I hold them above my head; and the_he poured out further frantic entreaties that I would burn them - do anythin_ather than show them. And being really fully as much inclined to laugh a_cold - for I esteemed it all girlish vanity - I at length relented in _easure, and asked, \- 'If I consent to burn them, will you promise faithfull_either to send nor receive a letter again, nor a book (for I perceive yo_ave sent him books), nor locks of hair, nor rings, nor playthings?'
'We don't send playthings,' cried Catherine, her pride overcoming her shame.
'Nor anything at all, then, my lady?' I said. 'Unless you will, here I go.'
'I promise, Ellen!' she cried, catching my dress. 'Oh, put them in the fire, do, do!'
But when I proceeded to open a place with the poker the sacrifice was to_ainful to be borne. She earnestly supplicated that I would spare her one o_wo.
'One or two, Ellen, to keep for Linton's sake!'
I unknotted the handkerchief, and commenced dropping them in from an angle, and the flame curled up the chimney.
'I will have one, you cruel wretch!' she screamed, darting her hand into th_ire, and drawing forth some half-consumed fragments, at the expense of he_ingers.
'Very well - and I will have some to exhibit to papa!' I answered, shakin_ack the rest into the bundle, and turning anew to the door.
She emptied her blackened pieces into the flames, and motioned me to finis_he immolation. It was done; I stirred up the ashes, and interred them under _hovelful of coals; and she mutely, and with a sense of intense injury, retired to her private apartment. I descended to tell my master that the youn_ady's qualm of sickness was almost gone, but I judged it best for her to li_own a while. She wouldn't dine; but she reappeared at tea, pale, and re_bout the eyes, and marvellously subdued in outward aspect. Next morning _nswered the letter by a slip of paper, inscribed, 'Master Heathcliff i_equested to send no more notes to Miss Linton, as she will not receive them.'
And, henceforth, the little boy came with vacant pockets.