CATHY stayed at Thrushcross Grange five weeks: till Christmas. By that tim_er ankle was thoroughly cured, and her manners much improved. The mistres_isited her often in the interval, and commenced her plan of reform by tryin_o raise her self-respect with fine clothes and flattery, which she too_eadily; so that, instead of a wild, hatless little savage jumping into th_ouse, and rushing to squeeze us all breathless, there 'lighted from _andsome black pony a very dignified person, with brown ringlets falling fro_he cover of a feathered beaver, and a long cloth habit, which she was oblige_o hold up with both hands that she might sail in. Hindley lifted her from he_orse, exclaiming delightedly, 'Why, Cathy, you are quite a beauty! I shoul_carcely have known you: you look like a lady now. Isabella Linton is not t_e compared with her, is she, Frances?' 'Isabella has not her natura_dvantages,' replied his wife: 'but she must mind and not grow wild agai_ere. Ellen, help Miss Catherine off with her things - Stay, dear, you wil_isarrange your curls - let me untie your hat.'
I removed the habit, and there shone forth beneath a grand plaid silk frock, white trousers, and burnished shoes; and, while her eyes sparkled joyfull_hen the dogs came bounding up to welcome her, she dared hardly touch the_est they should fawn upon her splendid garments. She kissed me gently: I wa_ll flour making the Christmas cake, and it would not have done to give me _ug; and then she looked round for Heathcliff. Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw watche_nxiously their meeting; thinking it would enable them to judge, in som_easure, what grounds they had for hoping to succeed in separating the tw_riends.
Heathcliff was hard to discover, at first. If he were careless, and uncare_or, before Catherine's absence, he had been ten times more so since. Nobod_ut I even did him the kindness to call him a dirty boy, and bid him was_imself, once a week; and children of his age seldom have a natural pleasur_n soap and water. Therefore, not to mention his clothes, which had seen thre_onths' service in mire and dust, and his thick uncombed hair, the surface o_is face and hands was dismally beclouded. He might well skulk behind th_ettle, on beholding such a bright, graceful damsel enter the house, instea_f a rough-headed counterpart of himself, as he expected. 'Is Heathcliff no_ere?' she demanded, pulling off her gloves, and displaying finger_onderfully whitened with doing nothing and staying indoors.
'Heathcliff, you may come forward,' cried Mr. Hindley, enjoying hi_iscomfiture, and gratified to see what a forbidding young blackguard he woul_e compelled to present himself. 'You may come and wish Miss Catherin_elcome, like the other servants.'
Cathy, catching a glimpse of her friend in his concealment, flew to embrac_im; she bestowed seven or eight kisses on his cheek within the second, an_hen stopped, and drawing back, burst into a laugh, exclaiming, 'Why, how ver_lack and cross you look! and how \- how funny and grim! But that's becaus_'m used to Edgar and Isabella Linton. Well, Heathcliff, have you forgotte_e?'
She had some reason to put the question, for shame and pride threw doubl_loom over his countenance, and kept him immovable.
'Shake hands, Heathcliff,' said Mr. Earnshaw, condescendingly; 'once in a way, that is permitted.'
'I shall not,' replied the boy, finding his tongue at last; 'I shall not stan_o be laughed at. I shall not bear it!' And he would have broken from th_ircle, but Miss Cathy seized him again.
'I did not mean to laugh at you,' she said; 'I could not hinder myself: Heathcliff, shake hands at least! What are you sulky for? It was only that yo_ooked odd. If you wash your face and brush your hair, it will be all right: but you are so dirty!'
She gazed concernedly at the dusky fingers she held in her own, and also a_er dress; which she feared had gained no embellishment from its contact wit_is.
'You needn't have touched me!' he answered, following her eye and snatchin_way his hand. 'I shall be as dirty as I please: and I like to be dirty, and _ill be dirty.'
With that he dashed headforemost out of the room, amid the merriment of th_aster and mistress, and to the serious disturbance of Catherine; who coul_ot comprehend how her remarks should have produced such an exhibition of ba_emper.
After playing lady's-maid to the new-comer, and putting my cakes in the oven, and making the house and kitchen cheerful with great fires, befittin_hristmas-eve, I prepared to sit down and amuse myself by singing carols, al_lone; regardless of Joseph's affirmations that he considered the merry tune_ chose as next door to songs. He had retired to private prayer in hi_hamber, and Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw were engaging Missy's attention by sundr_ay trifles bought for her to present to the little Lintons, as a_cknowledgment of their kindness. They had invited them to spend the morrow a_uthering Heights, and the invitation had been accepted, on one condition: Mrs. Linton begged that her darlings might be kept carefully apart from that
'naughty swearing boy.'
Under these circumstances I remained solitary. I smelt the rich scent of th_eating spices; and admired the shining kitchen utensils, the polished clock, decked in holly, the silver mugs ranged on a tray ready to be filled wit_ulled ale for supper; and above all, the speckless purity of my particula_are - the scoured and well-swept floor. I gave due inward applause to ever_bject, and then I remembered how old Earnshaw used to come in when all wa_idied, and call me a cant lass, and slip a shilling into my hand as _hristmas-box; and from that I went on to think of his fondness fo_eathcliff, and his dread lest he should suffer neglect after death ha_emoved him: and that naturally led me to consider the poor lad's situatio_ow, and from singing I changed my mind to crying. It struck me soon, however, there would be more sense in endeavouring to repair some of his wrongs tha_hedding tears over them: I got up and walked into the court to seek him. H_as not far; I found him smoothing the glossy coat of the new pony in th_table, and feeding the other beasts, according to custom.
'Make haste, Heathcliff!' I said, 'the kitchen is so comfortable; and Josep_s up-stairs: make haste, and let me dress you smart before Miss Cathy come_ut, and then you can sit together, with the whole hearth to yourselves, an_ave a long chatter till bedtime.'
He proceeded with his task, and never turned his head towards me.
'Come - are you coming?' I continued. 'There's a little cake for each of you, nearly enough; and you'll need half-an-hour's donning.'
I waited five minutes, but getting no answer left him. Catherine supped wit_er brother and sister-in-law: Joseph and I joined at an unsociable meal, seasoned with reproofs on one side and sauciness on the other. His cake an_heese remained on the table all night for the fairies. He managed to continu_ork till nine o'clock, and then marched dumb and dour to his chamber. Cath_at up late, having a world of things to order for the reception of her ne_riends: she came into the kitchen once to speak to her old one; but he wa_one, and she only stayed to ask what was the matter with him, and then wen_ack. In the morning he rose early; and, as it was a holiday, carried his ill- humour on to the moors; not re-appearing till the family were departed fo_hurch. Fasting and reflection seemed to have brought him to a better spirit.
He hung about me for a while, and having screwed up his courage, exclaime_bruptly - 'Nelly, make me decent, I'm going to be good.'
'High time, Heathcliff,' I said; 'you HAVE grieved Catherine: she's sorry sh_ver came home, I daresay! It looks as if you envied her, because she is mor_hought of than you.'
The notion of ENVYING Catherine was incomprehensible to him, but the notion o_rieving her he understood clearly enough.
'Did she say she was grieved?' he inquired, looking very serious.
'She cried when I told her you were off again this morning.'
'Well, I cried last night,' he returned, 'and I had more reason to cry tha_he.'
'Yes: you had the reason of going to bed with a proud heart and an empt_tomach,' said I. 'Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves. But, if yo_e ashamed of your touchiness, you must ask pardon, mind, when she comes in.
You must go up and offer to kiss her, and say - you know best what to say; only do it heartily, and not as if you thought her converted into a strange_y her grand dress. And now, though I have dinner to get ready, I'll stea_ime to arrange you so that Edgar Linton shall look quite a doll beside you: and that he does. You are younger, and yet, I'll be bound, you are taller an_wice as broad across the shoulders; you could knock him down in a twinkling; don't you feel that you could?'
Heathcliff's face brightened a moment; then it was overcast afresh, and h_ighed.
'But, Nelly, if I knocked him down twenty times, that wouldn't make him les_andsome or me more so. I wish I had light hair and a fair skin, and wa_ressed and behaved as well, and had a chance of being as rich as he will be!'
'And cried for mamma at every turn,' I added, 'and trembled if a country la_eaved his fist against you, and sat at home all day for a shower of rain. Oh, Heathcliff, you are showing a poor spirit! Come to the glass, and I'll let yo_ee what you should wish. Do you mark those two lines between your eyes; an_hose thick brows, that, instead of rising arched, sink in the middle; an_hat couple of black fiends, so deeply buried, who never open their window_oldly, but lurk glinting under them, like devil's spies? Wish and learn t_mooth away the surly wrinkles, to raise your lids frankly, and change th_iends to confident, innocent angels, suspecting and doubting nothing, an_lways seeing friends where they are not sure of foes. Don't get th_xpression of a vicious cur that appears to know the kicks it gets are it_esert, and yet hates all the world, as well as the kicker, for what i_uffers.'
'In other words, I must wish for Edgar Linton's great blue eyes and eve_orehead,' he replied. 'I do - and that won't help me to them.'
'A good heart will help you to a bonny face, my lad,' I continued, 'if yo_ere a regular black; and a bad one will turn the bonniest into somethin_orse than ugly. And now that we've done washing, and combing, and sulking - tell me whether you don't think yourself rather handsome? I'll tell you, I do.
You're fit for a prince in disguise. Who knows but your father was Emperor o_hina, and your mother an Indian queen, each of them able to buy up, with on_eek's income, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange together? And you wer_idnapped by wicked sailors and brought to England. Were I in your place, _ould frame high notions of my birth; and the thoughts of what I was shoul_ive me courage and dignity to support the oppressions of a little farmer!'
So I chattered on; and Heathcliff gradually lost his frown and began to loo_uite pleasant, when all at once our conversation was interrupted by _umbling sound moving up the road and entering the court. He ran to the windo_nd I to the door, just in time to behold the two Lintons descend from th_amily carriage, smothered in cloaks and furs, and the Earnshaws dismount fro_heir horses: they often rode to church in winter. Catherine took a hand o_ach of the children, and brought them into the house and set them before th_ire, which quickly put colour into their white faces.
I urged my companion to hasten now and show his amiable humour, and h_illingly obeyed; but ill luck would have it that, as he opened the doo_eading from the kitchen on one side, Hindley opened it on the other. The_et, and the master, irritated at seeing him clean and cheerful, or, perhaps, eager to keep his promise to Mrs. Linton, shoved him back with a sudde_hrust, and angrily bade Joseph 'keep the fellow out of the room - send hi_nto the garret till dinner is over. He'll be cramming his fingers in th_arts and stealing the fruit, if left alone with them a minute.'
'Nay, sir,' I could not avoid answering, 'he'll touch nothing, not he: and _uppose he must have his share of the dainties as well as we.'
'He shall have his share of my hand, if I catch him downstairs till dark,'
cried Hindley. 'Begone, you vagabond! What! you are attempting the coxcomb, are you? Wait till I get hold of those elegant locks - see if I won't pul_hem a bit longer!'
'They are long enough already,' observed Master Linton, peeping from th_oorway; 'I wonder they don't make his head ache. It's like a colt's mane ove_is eyes!'
He ventured this remark without any intention to insult; but Heathcliff'_iolent nature was not prepared to endure the appearance of impertinence fro_ne whom he seemed to hate, even then, as a rival. He seized a tureen of ho_pple sauce (the first thing that came under his gripe) and dashed it ful_gainst the speaker's face and neck; who instantly commenced a lament tha_rought Isabella and Catherine hurrying to the place. Mr. Earnshaw snatched u_he culprit directly and conveyed him to his chamber; where, doubtless, h_dministered a rough remedy to cool the fit of passion, for he appeared re_nd breathless. I got the dishcloth, and rather spitefully scrubbed Edgar'_ose and mouth, affirming it served him right for meddling. His sister bega_eeping to go home, and Cathy stood by confounded, blushing for all.
'You should not have spoken to him!' she expostulated with Master Linton. 'H_as in a bad temper, and now you've spoilt your visit; and he'll be flogged: _ate him to be flogged! I can't eat my dinner. Why did you speak to him, Edgar?'
'I didn't,' sobbed the youth, escaping from my hands, and finishing th_emainder of the purification with his cambric pocket- handkerchief. '_romised mamma that I wouldn't say one word to him, and I didn't.'
'Well, don't cry,' replied Catherine, contemptuously; 'you're not killed.
Don't make more mischief; my brother is coming: be quiet! Hush, Isabella! Ha_nybody hurt you?'
'There, there, children - to your seats!' cried Hindley, bustling in. 'Tha_rute of a lad has warmed me nicely. Next time, Master Edgar, take the la_nto your own fists - it will give you an appetite!'
The little party recovered its equanimity at sight of the fragrant feast. The_ere hungry after their ride, and easily consoled, since no real harm ha_efallen them. Mr. Earnshaw carved bountiful platefuls, and the mistress mad_hem merry with lively talk. I waited behind her chair, and was pained t_ehold Catherine, with dry eyes and an indifferent air, commence cutting u_he wing of a goose before her. 'An unfeeling child,' I thought to myself;
'how lightly she dismisses her old playmate's troubles. I could not hav_magined her to be so selfish.' She lifted a mouthful to her lips: then sh_et it down again: her cheeks flushed, and the tears gushed over them. Sh_lipped her fork to the floor, and hastily dived under the cloth to concea_er emotion. I did not call her unfeeling long; for I perceived she was i_urgatory throughout the day, and wearying to find an opportunity of gettin_y herself, or paying a visit to Heathcliff, who had been locked up by th_aster: as I discovered, on endeavouring to introduce to him a private mess o_ictuals.
In the evening we had a dance. Cathy begged that he might be liberated then, as Isabella Linton had no partner: her entreaties were vain, and I wa_ppointed to supply the deficiency. We got rid of all gloom in the excitemen_f the exercise, and our pleasure was increased by the arrival of th_immerton band, mustering fifteen strong: a trumpet, a trombone, clarionets, bassoons, French horns, and a bass viol, besides singers. They go the round_f all the respectable houses, and receive contributions every Christmas, an_e esteemed it a first-rate treat to hear them. After the usual carols ha_een sung, we set them to songs and glees. Mrs. Earnshaw loved the music, an_o they gave us plenty.
Catherine loved it too: but she said it sounded sweetest at the top of th_teps, and she went up in the dark: I followed. They shut the house doo_elow, never noting our absence, it was so full of people. She made no stay a_he stairs'-head, but mounted farther, to the garret where Heathcliff wa_onfined, and called him. He stubbornly declined answering for a while: sh_ersevered, and finally persuaded him to hold communion with her through th_oards. I let the poor things converse unmolested, till I supposed the song_ere going to cease, and the singers to get some refreshment: then I clambere_p the ladder to warn her. Instead of finding her outside, I heard her voic_ithin. The little monkey had crept by the skylight of one garret, along th_oof, into the skylight of the other, and it was with the utmost difficulty _ould coax her out again. When she did come, Heathcliff came with her, and sh_nsisted that I should take him into the kitchen, as my fellow-servant ha_one to a neighbour's, to be removed from the sound of our 'devil's psalmody,'
as it pleased him to call it. I told them I intended by no means to encourag_heir tricks: but as the prisoner had never broken his fast since yesterday'_inner, I would wink at his cheating Mr. Hindley that once. He went down: _et him a stool by the fire, and offered him a quantity of good things: but h_as sick and could eat little, and my attempts to entertain him were throw_way. He leant his two elbows on his knees, and his chin on his hands an_emained rapt in dumb meditation. On my inquiring the subject of his thoughts, he answered gravely - 'I'm trying to settle how I shall pay Hindley back. _on't care how long I wait, if I can only do it at last. I hope he will no_ie before I do!'
'For shame, Heathcliff!' said I. 'It is for God to punish wicked people; w_hould learn to forgive.'
'No, God won't have the satisfaction that I shall,' he returned. 'I only wis_ knew the best way! Let me alone, and I'll plan it out: while I'm thinking o_hat I don't feel pain.'
'But, Mr. Lockwood, I forget these tales cannot divert you. I'm annoyed how _hould dream of chattering on at such a rate; and your gruel cold, and yo_odding for bed! I could have told Heathcliff's history, all that you nee_ear, in half a dozen words.'
Thus interrupting herself, the housekeeper rose, and proceeded to lay asid_er sewing; but I felt incapable of moving from the hearth, and I was very fa_rom nodding. 'Sit still, Mrs. Dean,' I cried; 'do sit still another half- hour. You've done just right to tell the story leisurely. That is the method _ike; and you must finish it in the same style. I am interested in ever_haracter you have mentioned, more or less.'
'The clock is on the stroke of eleven, sir.'
'No matter - I'm not accustomed to go to bed in the long hours. One or two i_arly enough for a person who lies till ten.'
'You shouldn't lie till ten. There's the very prime of the morning gone lon_efore that time. A person who has not done one-half his day's work by te_'clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.'
'Nevertheless, Mrs. Dean, resume your chair; because to-morrow I inten_engthening the night till afternoon. I prognosticate for myself an obstinat_old, at least.'
'I hope not, sir. Well, you must allow me to leap over some three years; during that space Mrs. Earnshaw - '
'No, no, I'll allow nothing of the sort! Are you acquainted with the mood o_ind in which, if you were seated alone, and the cat licking its kitten on th_ug before you, you would watch the operation so intently that puss's neglec_f one ear would put you seriously out of temper?'
'A terribly lazy mood, I should say.'
'On the contrary, a tiresomely active one. It is mine, at present; and, therefore, continue minutely. I perceive that people in these regions acquir_ver people in towns the value that a spider in a dungeon does over a spide_n a cottage, to their various occupants; and yet the deepened attraction i_ot entirely owing to the situation of the looker-on. They DO live more i_arnest, more in themselves, and less in surface, change, and frivolou_xternal things. I could fancy a love for life here almost possible; and I wa_ fixed unbeliever in any love of a year's standing. One state resemble_etting a hungry man down to a single dish, on which he may concentrate hi_ntire appetite and do it justice; the other, introducing him to a table lai_ut by French cooks: he can perhaps extract as much enjoyment from the whole; but each part is a mere atom in his regard and remembrance.'
'Oh! here we are the same as anywhere else, when you get to know us,' observe_rs. Dean, somewhat puzzled at my speech.
'Excuse me,' I responded; 'you, my good friend, are a striking evidenc_gainst that assertion. Excepting a few provincialisms of slight consequence, you have no marks of the manners which I am habituated to consider as peculia_o your class. I am sure you have thought a great deal more than th_enerality of servants think. You have been compelled to cultivate you_eflective faculties for want of occasions for frittering your life away i_illy trifles.'
Mrs. Dean laughed.
'I certainly esteem myself a steady, reasonable kind of body,' she said; 'no_xactly from living among the hills and seeing one set of faces, and on_eries of actions, from year's end to year's end; but I have undergone shar_iscipline, which has taught me wisdom; and then, I have read more than yo_ould fancy, Mr. Lockwood. You could not open a book in this library that _ave not looked into, and got something out of also: unless it be that rang_f Greek and Latin, and that of French; and those I know one from another: i_s as much as you can expect of a poor man's daughter. However, if I am t_ollow my story in true gossip's fashion, I had better go on; and instead o_eaping three years, I will be content to pass to the next summer - the summe_f 1778, that is nearly twenty-three years ago.'