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Chapter 27

  • SEVEN days glided away, every one marking its course by the henceforth rapi_lteration of Edgar Linton's state. The havoc that months had previousl_rought was now emulated by the inroads of hours. Catherine we would fain hav_eluded yet; but her own quick spirit refused to delude her: it divined i_ecret, and brooded on the dreadful probability, gradually ripening int_ertainty. She had not the heart to mention her ride, when Thursday cam_ound; I mentioned it for her, and obtained permission to order her out o_oors: for the library, where her father stopped a short time daily \- th_rief period he could bear to sit up - and his chamber, had become her whol_orld. She grudged each moment that did not find her bending over his pillow, or seated by his side. Her countenance grew wan with watching and sorrow, an_y master gladly dismissed her to what he flattered himself would be a happ_hange of scene and society; drawing comfort from the hope that she would no_ow be left entirely alone after his death.
  • He had a fixed idea, I guessed by several observations he let fall, that, a_is nephew resembled him in person, he would resemble him in mind; fo_inton's letters bore few or no indications of his defective character. And I, through pardonable weakness, refrained from correcting the error; askin_yself what good there would be in disturbing his last moments wit_nformation that he had neither power nor opportunity to turn to account.
  • We deferred our excursion till the afternoon; a golden afternoon of August: every breath from the hills so full of life, that it seemed whoever respire_t, though dying, might revive. Catherine's face was just like the landscape - shadows and sunshine flitting over it in rapid succession; but the shadow_ested longer, and the sunshine was more transient; and her poor little hear_eproached itself for even that passing forgetfulness of its cares.
  • We discerned Linton watching at the same spot he had selected before. My youn_istress alighted, and told me that, as she was resolved to stay a very littl_hile, I had better hold the pony and remain on horseback; but I dissented: _ouldn't risk losing sight of the charge committed to me a minute; so w_limbed the slope of heath together. Master Heathcliff received us wit_reater animation on this occasion: not the animation of high spirits though, nor yet of joy; it looked more like fear.
  • 'It is late!' he said, speaking short and with difficulty. 'Is not your fathe_ery ill? I thought you wouldn't come.'
  • 'WHY won't you be candid?' cried Catherine, swallowing her greeting. 'Wh_annot you say at once you don't want me? It is strange, Linton, that for th_econd time you have brought me here on purpose, apparently to distress u_oth, and for no reason besides!'
  • Linton shivered, and glanced at her, half supplicating, half ashamed; but hi_ousin's patience was not sufficient to endure this enigmatical behaviour.
  • 'My father IS very ill,' she said; 'and why am I called from his bedside? Wh_idn't you send to absolve me from my promise, when you wished I wouldn't kee_t? Come! I desire an explanation: playing and trifling are completel_anished out of my mind; and I can't dance attendance on your affectation_ow!'
  • 'My affectations!' he murmured; 'what are they? For heaven's sake, Catherine, don't look so angry! Despise me as much as you please; I am a worthless, cowardly wretch: I can't be scorned enough; but I'm too mean for your anger.
  • Hate my father, and spare me for contempt.'
  • 'Nonsense!' cried Catherine in a passion. 'Foolish, silly boy! And there! h_rembles: as if I were really going to touch him! You needn't bespea_ontempt, Linton: anybody will have it spontaneously at your service. Get off!
  • I shall return home: it is folly dragging you from the hearth-stone, an_retending - what do we pretend? Let go my frock! If I pitied you for cryin_nd looking so very frightened, you should spurn such pity. Ellen, tell hi_ow disgraceful this conduct is. Rise, and don't degrade yourself into a_bject reptile - DON'T!'
  • With streaming face and an expression of agony, Linton had thrown hi_erveless frame along the ground: he seemed convulsed with exquisite terror.
  • 'Oh!' he sobbed, 'I cannot bear it! Catherine, Catherine, I'm a traitor, too, and I dare not tell you! But leave me, and I shall be killed! DEAR Catherine, my life is in your hands: and you have said you loved me, and if you did, i_ouldn't harm you. You'll not go, then? kind, sweet, good Catherine! An_erhaps you WILL consent - and he'll let me die with you!'
  • My young lady, on witnessing his intense anguish, stooped to raise him. Th_ld feeling of indulgent tenderness overcame her vexation, and she gre_horoughly moved and alarmed.
  • 'Consent to what?' she asked. 'To stay! tell me the meaning of this strang_alk, and I will. You contradict your own words, and distract me! Be calm an_rank, and confess at once all that weighs on your heart. You wouldn't injur_e, Linton, would you? You wouldn't let any enemy hurt me, if you coul_revent it? I'll believe you are a coward, for yourself, but not a cowardl_etrayer of your best friend.'
  • 'But my father threatened me,' gasped the boy, clasping his attenuate_ingers, 'and I dread him - I dread him! I DARE not tell!'
  • 'Oh, well!' said Catherine, with scornful compassion, 'keep your secret: I'_o coward. Save yourself: I'm not afraid!'
  • Her magnanimity provoked his tears: he wept wildly, kissing her supportin_ands, and yet could not summon courage to speak out. I was cogitating wha_he mystery might be, and determined Catherine should never suffer to benefi_im or any one else, by my good will; when, hearing a rustle among the ling, _ooked up and saw Mr. Heathcliff almost close upon us, descending the Heights.
  • He didn't cast a glance towards my companions, though they were sufficientl_ear for Linton's sobs to be audible; but hailing me in the almost hearty ton_e assumed to none besides, and the sincerity of which I couldn't avoi_oubting, he said -
  • 'It is something to see you so near to my house, Nelly. How are you at th_range? Let us hear. The rumour goes,' he added, in a lower tone, 'that Edga_inton is on his death-bed: perhaps they exaggerate his illness?'
  • 'No; my master is dying,' I replied: 'it is true enough. A sad thing it wil_e for us all, but a blessing for him!'
  • 'How long will he last, do you think?' he asked.
  • 'I don't know,' I said.
  • 'Because,' he continued, looking at the two young people, who were fixed unde_is eye - Linton appeared as if he could not venture to stir or raise hi_ead, and Catherine could not move, on his account - 'because that lad yonde_eems determined to beat me; and I'd thank his uncle to be quick, and g_efore him! Hallo! has the whelp been playing that game long? I DID give hi_ome lessons about snivelling. Is he pretty lively with Miss Linto_enerally?'
  • 'Lively? no - he has shown the greatest distress,' I answered. 'To see him, _hould say, that instead of rambling with his sweetheart on the hills, h_ught to be in bed, under the hands of a doctor.'
  • 'He shall be, in a day or two,' muttered Heathcliff. 'But first \- get up, Linton! Get up!' he shouted. 'Don't grovel on the ground there up, thi_oment!'
  • Linton had sunk prostrate again in another paroxysm of helpless fear, cause_y his father's glance towards him, I suppose: there was nothing else t_roduce such humiliation. He made several efforts to obey, but his littl_trength was annihilated for the time, and he fell back again with a moan. Mr.
  • Heathcliff advanced, and lifted him to lean against a ridge of turf.
  • 'Now,' said he, with curbed ferocity, 'I'm getting angry and if you don'_ommand that paltry spirit of yours - DAMN you! get up directly!'
  • 'I will, father,' he panted. 'Only, let me alone, or I shall faint. I've don_s you wished, I'm sure. Catherine will tell you that I - that I - have bee_heerful. Ah! keep by me, Catherine; give me your hand.'
  • 'Take mine,' said his father; 'stand on your feet. There now - she'll lend yo_er arm: that's right, look at her. You would imagine I was the devil himself, Miss Linton, to excite such horror. Be so kind as to walk home with him, wil_ou? He shudders if I touch him.'
  • 'Linton dear!' whispered Catherine, 'I can't go to Wuthering Heights: papa ha_orbidden me. He'll not harm you: why are you so afraid?'
  • 'I can never re-enter that house,' he answered. 'I'm NOT to re- enter i_ithout you!'
  • 'Stop!' cried his father. 'We'll respect Catherine's filial scruples. Nelly, take him in, and I'll follow your advice concerning the doctor, withou_elay.'
  • 'You'll do well,' replied I. 'But I must remain with my mistress: to mind you_on is not my business.'
  • 'You are very stiff,' said Heathcliff, 'I know that: but you'll force me t_inch the baby and make it scream before it moves your charity. Come, then, m_ero. Are you willing to return, escorted by me?'
  • He approached once more, and made as if he would seize the fragile being; but, shrinking back, Linton clung to his cousin, and implored her to accompany him, with a frantic importunity that admitted no denial. However I disapproved, _ouldn't hinder her: indeed, how could she have refused him herself? What wa_illing him with dread we had no means of discerning; but there he was, powerless under its gripe, and any addition seemed capable of shocking hi_nto idiotcy. We reached the threshold; Catherine walked in, and I stoo_aiting till she had conducted the invalid to a chair, expecting her ou_mmediately; when Mr. Heathcliff, pushing me forward, exclaimed - 'My house i_ot stricken with the plague, Nelly; and I have a mind to be hospitable to- day: sit down, and allow me to shut the door.'
  • He shut and locked it also. I started.
  • 'You shall have tea before you go home,' he added. 'I am by myself. Hareton i_one with some cattle to the Lees, and Zillah and Joseph are off on a journe_f pleasure; and, though I'm used to being alone, I'd rather have som_nteresting company, if I can get it. Miss Linton, take your seat by HIM. _ive you what I have: the present is hardly worth accepting; but I hav_othing else to offer. It is Linton, I mean. How she does stare! It's odd wha_ savage feeling I have to anything that seems afraid of me! Had I been bor_here laws are less strict and tastes less dainty, I should treat myself to _low vivisection of those two, as an evening's amusement.'
  • He drew in his breath, struck the table, and swore to himself, 'By hell! _ate them.'
  • 'I am not afraid of you!' exclaimed Catherine, who could not hear the latte_art of his speech. She stepped close up; her black eyes flashing with passio_nd resolution. 'Give me that key: I will have it!' she said. 'I wouldn't ea_r drink here, if I were starving.'
  • Heathcliff had the key in his hand that remained on the table. He looked up, seized with a sort of surprise at her boldness; or, possibly, reminded, by he_oice and glance, of the person from whom she inherited it. She snatched a_he instrument, and half succeeded in getting it out of his loosened fingers: but her action recalled him to the present; he recovered it speedily.
  • 'Now, Catherine Linton,' he said, 'stand off, or I shall knock you down; and, that will make Mrs. Dean mad.'
  • Regardless of this warning, she captured his closed hand and its content_gain. 'We will go!' she repeated, exerting her utmost efforts to cause th_ron muscles to relax; and finding that her nails made no impression, sh_pplied her teeth pretty sharply. Heathcliff glanced at me a glance that kep_e from interfering a moment. Catherine was too intent on his fingers t_otice his face. He opened them suddenly, and resigned the object of dispute; but, ere she had well secured it, he seized her with the liberated hand, and, pulling her on his knee, administered with the other a shower of terrifi_laps on both sides of the head, each sufficient to have fulfilled his threat, had she been able to fall.'
  • At this diabolical violence I rushed on him furiously. 'You villain!' I bega_o cry, 'you villain!' A touch on the chest silenced me: I am stout, and soo_ut out of breath; and, what with that and the rage, I staggered dizzily bac_nd felt ready to suffocate, or to burst a blood-vessel. The scene was over i_wo minutes; Catherine, released, put her two hands to her temples, and looke_ust as if she were not sure whether her ears were off or on. She tremble_ike a reed, poor thing, and leant against the table perfectly bewildered.
  • 'I know how to chastise children, you see,' said the scoundrel, grimly, as h_tooped to repossess himself of the key, which had dropped to the floor. 'G_o Linton now, as I told you; and cry at your ease! I shall be your father, to-morrow - all the father you'll have in a few days - and you shall hav_lenty of that. You can bear plenty; you're no weakling: you shall have _aily taste, if I catch such a devil of a temper in your eyes again!'
  • Cathy ran to me instead of Linton, and knelt down and put her burning cheek o_y lap, weeping aloud. Her cousin had shrunk into a corner of the settle, a_uiet as a mouse, congratulating himself, I dare say, that the correction ha_lighted on another than him. Mr. Heathcliff, perceiving us all confounded, rose, and expeditiously made the tea himself. The cups and saucers were lai_eady. He poured it out, and handed me a cup.
  • 'Wash away your spleen,' he said. 'And help your own naughty pet and mine. I_s not poisoned, though I prepared it. I'm going out to seek your horses.'
  • Our first thought, on his departure, was to force an exit somewhere. We trie_he kitchen door, but that was fastened outside: we looked at the windows - they were too narrow for even Cathy's little figure.
  • 'Master Linton,' I cried, seeing we were regularly imprisoned, 'you know wha_our diabolical father is after, and you shall tell us, or I'll box your ears, as he has done your cousin's.'
  • 'Yes, Linton, you must tell,' said Catherine. 'It was for your sake I came; and it will be wickedly ungrateful if you refuse.'
  • 'Give me some tea, I'm thirsty, and then I'll tell you,' he answered. 'Mrs.
  • Dean, go away. I don't like you standing over me. Now, Catherine, you ar_etting your tears fall into my cup. I won't drink that. Give me another.'
  • Catherine pushed another to him, and wiped her face. I felt disgusted at th_ittle wretch's composure, since he was no longer in terror for himself. Th_nguish he had exhibited on the moor subsided as soon as ever he entere_uthering Heights; so I guessed he had been menaced with an awful visitatio_f wrath if he failed in decoying us there; and, that accomplished, he had n_urther immediate fears.
  • 'Papa wants us to be married,' he continued, after sipping some of the liquid.
  • 'And he knows your papa wouldn't let us marry now; and he's afraid of my dyin_f we wait; so we are to be married in the morning, and you are to stay her_ll night; and, if you do as he wishes, you shall return home next day, an_ake me with you.'
  • 'Take you with her, pitiful changeling!' I exclaimed. 'YOU marry? Why, the ma_s mad! or he thinks us fools, every one. And do you imagine that beautifu_oung lady, that healthy, hearty girl, will tie herself to a little perishin_onkey like you? Are you cherishing the notion that anybody, let alone Mis_atherine Linton, would have you for a husband? You want whipping for bringin_s in here at all, with your dastardly puling tricks: and \- don't look s_illy, now! I've a very good mind to shake you severely, for your contemptibl_reachery, and your imbecile conceit.'
  • I did give him a slight shaking; but it brought on the cough, and he took t_is ordinary resource of moaning and weeping, and Catherine rebuked me.
  • 'Stay all night? No,' she said, looking slowly round. 'Ellen, I'll burn tha_oor down but I'll get out.'
  • And she would have commenced the execution of her threat directly, but Linto_as up in alarm for his dear self again. He clasped her in his two feeble arm_obbing:- 'Won't you have me, and save me? not let me come to the Grange? Oh, darling Catherine! you mustn't go and leave, after all. You MUST obey m_ather - you MUST!'
  • 'I must obey my own,' she replied, 'and relieve him from this cruel suspense.
  • The whole night! What would he think? He'll be distressed already. I'll eithe_reak or burn a way out of the house. Be quiet! You're in no danger; but i_ou hinder me - Linton, I love papa better than you!' The mortal terror h_elt of Mr. Heathcliff's anger restored to the boy his coward's eloquence.
  • Catherine was near distraught: still, she persisted that she must go home, an_ried entreaty in her turn, persuading him to subdue his selfish agony. Whil_hey were thus occupied, our jailor re- entered.
  • 'Your beasts have trotted off,' he said, 'and - now Linton! snivelling again?
  • What has she been doing to you? Come, come - have done, and get to bed. In _onth or two, my lad, you'll be able to pay her back her present tyrannie_ith a vigorous hand. You're pining for pure love, are you not? nothing els_n the world: and she shall have you! There, to bed! Zillah won't be here to- night; you must undress yourself. Hush! hold your noise! Once in your ow_oom, I'll not come near you: you needn't fear. By chance, you've manage_olerably. I'll look to the rest.'
  • He spoke these words, holding the door open for his son to pass, and th_atter achieved his exit exactly as a spaniel might which suspected the perso_ho attended on it of designing a spiteful squeeze. The lock was re-secured.
  • Heathcliff approached the fire, where my mistress and I stood silent.
  • Catherine looked up, and instinctively raised her hand to her cheek: hi_eighbourhood revived a painful sensation. Anybody else would have bee_ncapable of regarding the childish act with sternness, but he scowled on he_nd muttered - 'Oh! you are not afraid of me? Your courage is well disguised: you seem damnably afraid!'
  • 'I AM afraid now,' she replied, 'because, if I stay, papa will be miserable: and how can I endure making him miserable - when he - when he - Mr.
  • Heathcliff, let ME go home! I promise to marry Linton: papa would like me to: and I love him. Why should you wish to force me to do what I'll willingly d_f myself?'
  • 'Let him dare to force you,' I cried. 'There's law in the land, thank God!
  • there is; though we be in an out-of-the-way place. I'd inform if he were m_wn son: and it's felony without benefit of clergy!'
  • 'Silence!' said the ruffian. 'To the devil with your clamour! I don't want YO_o speak. Miss Linton, I shall enjoy myself remarkably in thinking your fathe_ill be miserable: I shall not sleep for satisfaction. You could have hit o_o surer way of fixing your residence under my roof for the next twenty-fou_ours than informing me that such an event would follow. As to your promise t_arry Linton, I'll take care you shall keep it; for you shall not quit thi_lace till it is fulfilled.'
  • 'Send Ellen, then, to let papa know I'm safe!' exclaimed Catherine, weepin_itterly. 'Or marry me now. Poor papa! Ellen, he'll think we're lost. Wha_hall we do?'
  • 'Not he! He'll think you are tired of waiting on him, and run off for a littl_musement,' answered Heathcliff. 'You cannot deny that you entered my house o_our own accord, in contempt of his injunctions to the contrary. And it i_uite natural that you should desire amusement at your age; and that you woul_eary of nursing a sick man, and that man ONLY your father. Catherine, hi_appiest days were over when your days began. He cursed you, I dare say, fo_oming into the world (I did, at least); and it would just do if he cursed yo_s HE went out of it. I'd join him. I don't love you! How should I? Weep away.
  • As far as I can see, it will be your chief diversion hereafter; unless Linto_ake amends for other losses: and your provident parent appears to fancy h_ay. His letters of advice and consolation entertained me vastly. In his las_e recommended my jewel to be careful of his; and kind to her when he got her.
  • Careful and kind - that's paternal. But Linton requires his whole stock o_are and kindness for himself. Linton can play the little tyrant well. He'l_ndertake to torture any number of cats, if their teeth be drawn and thei_laws pared. You'll be able to tell his uncle fine tales of his KINDNESS, whe_ou get home again, I assure you.'
  • 'You're right there!' I said; 'explain your son's character. Show hi_esemblance to yourself: and then, I hope, Miss Cathy will think twice befor_he takes the cockatrice!'
  • 'I don't much mind speaking of his amiable qualities now,' he answered;
  • 'because she must either accept him or remain a prisoner, and you along wit_er, till your master dies. I can detain you both, quite concealed, here. I_ou doubt, encourage her to retract her word, and you'll have an opportunit_f judging!'
  • 'I'll not retract my word,' said Catherine. 'I'll marry him within this hour, if I may go to Thrushcross Grange afterwards. Mr. Heathcliff, you're a crue_an, but you're not a fiend; and you won't, from MERE malice, destro_rrevocably all my happiness. If papa thought I had left him on purpose, an_f he died before I returned, could I bear to live? I've given over crying: but I'm going to kneel here, at your knee; and I'll not get up, and I'll no_ake my eyes from your face till you look back at me! No, don't turn away! D_OOK! you'll see nothing to provoke you. I don't hate you. I'm not angry tha_ou struck me. Have you never loved ANYBODY in all your life, uncle? NEVER?
  • Ah! you must look once. I'm so wretched, you can't help being sorry an_itying me.'
  • 'Keep your eft's fingers off; and move, or I'll kick you!' cried Heathcliff, brutally repulsing her. 'I'd rather be hugged by a snake. How the devil ca_ou dream of fawning on me? I DETEST you!'
  • He shrugged his shoulders: shook himself, indeed, as if his flesh crept wit_version; and thrust back his chair; while I got up, and opened my mouth, t_ommence a downright torrent of abuse. But I was rendered dumb in the middl_f the first sentence, by a threat that I should be shown into a room b_yself the very next syllable I uttered. It was growing dark - we heard _ound of voices at the garden-gate. Our host hurried out instantly: HE had hi_its about him; WE had not. There was a talk of two or three minutes, and h_eturned alone.
  • 'I thought it had been your cousin Hareton,' I observed to Catherine. 'I wis_e would arrive! Who knows but he might take our part?'
  • 'It was three servants sent to seek you from the Grange,' said Heathcliff, overhearing me. 'You should have opened a lattice and called out: but I coul_wear that chit is glad you didn't. She's glad to be obliged to stay, I'_ertain.'
  • At learning the chance we had missed, we both gave vent to our grief withou_ontrol; and he allowed us to wail on till nine o'clock. Then he bid us g_pstairs, through the kitchen, to Zillah's chamber; and I whispered m_ompanion to obey: perhaps we might contrive to get through the window there, or into a garret, and out by its skylight. The window, however, was narrow, like those below, and the garret trap was safe from our attempts; for we wer_astened in as before. We neither of us lay down: Catherine took her statio_y the lattice, and watched anxiously for morning; a deep sigh being the onl_nswer I could obtain to my frequent entreaties that she would try to rest. _eated myself in a chair, and rocked to and fro, passing harsh judgment on m_any derelictions of duty; from which, it struck me then, all the misfortune_f my employers sprang. It was not the case, in reality, I am aware; but i_as, in my imagination, that dismal night; and I thought Heathcliff himsel_ess guilty than I.
  • At seven o'clock he came, and inquired if Miss Linton had risen. She ran t_he door immediately, and answered, 'Yes.' 'Here, then,' he said, opening it, and pulling her out. I rose to follow, but he turned the lock again. _emanded my release.
  • 'Be patient,' he replied; 'I'll send up your breakfast in a while.'
  • I thumped on the panels, and rattled the latch angrily and Catherine asked wh_ was still shut up? He answered, I must try to endure it another hour, an_hey went away. I endured it two or three hours; at length, I heard _ootstep: not Heathcliff's.
  • 'I've brought you something to eat,' said a voice; 'oppen t' door!'
  • Complying eagerly, I beheld Hareton, laden with food enough to last me al_ay.
  • 'Tak' it,' he added, thrusting the tray into my hand.
  • 'Stay one minute,' I began.
  • 'Nay,' cried he, and retired, regardless of any prayers I could pour forth t_etain him.
  • And there I remained enclosed the whole day, and the whole of the next night; and another, and another. Five nights and four days I remained, altogether, seeing nobody but Hareton once every morning; and he was a model of a jailor: surly, and dumb, and deaf to every attempt at moving his sense of justice o_ompassion.