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Chapter 8

  • ON the morning of a fine June day my first bonny little nursling, and the las_f the ancient Earnshaw stock, was born. We were busy with the hay in a far- away field, when the girl that usually brought our breakfasts came running a_our too soon across the meadow and up the lane, calling me as she ran.
  • 'Oh, such a grand bairn!' she panted out. 'The finest lad that ever breathed!
  • But the doctor says missis must go: he says she's been in a consumption thes_any months. I heard him tell Mr. Hindley: and now she has nothing to kee_er, and she'll be dead before winter. You must come home directly. You're t_urse it, Nelly: to feed it with sugar and milk, and take care of it day an_ight. I wish I were you, because it will be all yours when there is n_issis!'
  • 'But is she very ill?' I asked, flinging down my rake and tying my bonnet.
  • 'I guess she is; yet she looks bravely,' replied the girl, 'and she talks a_f she thought of living to see it grow a man. She's out of her head for joy, it's such a beauty! If I were her I'm certain I should not die: I should ge_etter at the bare sight of it, in spite of Kenneth. I was fairly mad at him.
  • Dame Archer brought the cherub down to master, in the house, and his face jus_egan to light up, when the old croaker steps forward, and says he \-
  • "Earnshaw, it's a blessing your wife has been spared to leave you this son.
  • When she came, I felt convinced we shouldn't keep her long; and now, I mus_ell you, the winter will probably finish her. Don't take on, and fret abou_t too much: it can't be helped. And besides, you should have known bette_han to choose such a rush of a lass!"'
  • 'And what did the master answer?' I inquired.
  • 'I think he swore: but I didn't mind him, I was straining to see the bairn,'
  • and she began again to describe it rapturously. I, as zealous as herself, hurried eagerly home to admire, on my part; though I was very sad fo_indley's sake. He had room in his heart only for two idols - his wife an_imself: he doted on both, and adored one, and I couldn't conceive how h_ould bear the loss.
  • When we got to Wuthering Heights, there he stood at the front door; and, as _assed in, I asked, 'how was the baby?'
  • 'Nearly ready to run about, Nell!' he replied, putting on a cheerful smile.
  • 'And the mistress?' I ventured to inquire; 'the doctor says she's - '
  • 'Damn the doctor!' he interrupted, reddening. 'Frances is quite right: she'l_e perfectly well by this time next week. Are you going up-stairs? will yo_ell her that I'll come, if she'll promise not to talk. I left her because sh_ould not hold her tongue; and she must - tell her Mr. Kenneth says she mus_e quiet.'
  • I delivered this message to Mrs. Earnshaw; she seemed in flighty spirits, an_eplied merrily, 'I hardly spoke a word, Ellen, and there he has gone ou_wice, crying. Well, say I promise I won't speak: but that does not bind m_ot to laugh at him!'
  • Poor soul! Till within a week of her death that gay heart never failed her; and her husband persisted doggedly, nay, furiously, in affirming her healt_mproved every day. When Kenneth warned him that his medicines were useless a_hat stage of the malady, and he needn't put him to further expense b_ttending her, he retorted, 'I know you need not - she's well - she does no_ant any more attendance from you! She never was in a consumption. It was _ever; and it is gone: her pulse is as slow as mine now, and her cheek a_ool.'
  • He told his wife the same story, and she seemed to believe him; but one night, while leaning on his shoulder, in the act of saying she thought she should b_ble to get up to-morrow, a fit of coughing took her - a very slight one - h_aised her in his arms; she put her two hands about his neck, her fac_hanged, and she was dead.
  • As the girl had anticipated, the child Hareton fell wholly into my hands. Mr.
  • Earnshaw, provided he saw him healthy and never heard him cry, was contented, as far as regarded him. For himself, he grew desperate: his sorrow was of tha_ind that will not lament. He neither wept nor prayed; he cursed and defied: execrated God and man, and gave himself up to reckless dissipation. Th_ervants could not bear his tyrannical and evil conduct long: Joseph and _ere the only two that would stay. I had not the heart to leave my charge; an_esides, you know, I had been his foster-sister, and excused his behaviou_ore readily than a stranger would. Joseph remained to hector over tenants an_abourers; and because it was his vocation to be where he had plenty o_ickedness to reprove.
  • The master's bad ways and bad companions formed a pretty example for Catherin_nd Heathcliff. His treatment of the latter was enough to make a fiend of _aint. And, truly, it appeared as if the lad WERE possessed of somethin_iabolical at that period. He delighted to witness Hindley degrading himsel_ast redemption; and became daily more notable for savage sullenness an_erocity. I could not half tell what an infernal house we had. The curat_ropped calling, and nobody decent came near us, at last; unless Edga_inton's visits to Miss Cathy might be an exception. At fifteen she was th_ueen of the country-side; she had no peer; and she did turn out a haughty, headstrong creature! I own I did not like her, after infancy was past; and _exed her frequently by trying to bring down her arrogance: she never took a_version to me, though. She had a wondrous constancy to old attachments: eve_eathcliff kept his hold on her affections unalterably; and young Linton, wit_ll his superiority, found it difficult to make an equally deep impression. H_as my late master: that is his portrait over the fireplace. It used to han_n one side, and his wife's on the other; but hers has been removed, or els_ou might see something of what she was. Can you make that out?
  • Mrs. Dean raised the candle, and I discerned a soft-featured face, exceedingl_esembling the young lady at the Heights, but more pensive and amiable i_xpression. It formed a sweet picture. The long light hair curled slightly o_he temples; the eyes were large and serious; the figure almost too graceful.
  • I did not marvel how Catherine Earnshaw could forget her first friend for suc_n individual. I marvelled much how he, with a mind to correspond with hi_erson, could fancy my idea of Catherine Earnshaw.
  • 'A very agreeable portrait,' I observed to the house-keeper. 'Is it like?'
  • 'Yes,' she answered; 'but he looked better when he was animated; that is hi_veryday countenance: he wanted spirit in general.'
  • Catherine had kept up her acquaintance with the Lintons since her five-weeks'
  • residence among them; and as she had no temptation to show her rough side i_heir company, and had the sense to be ashamed of being rude where sh_xperienced such invariable courtesy, she imposed unwittingly on the old lad_nd gentleman by her ingenious cordiality; gained the admiration of Isabella, and the heart and soul of her brother: acquisitions that flattered her fro_he first - for she was full of ambition - and led her to adopt a doubl_haracter without exactly intending to deceive any one. In the place where sh_eard Heathcliff termed a 'vulgar young ruffian,' and 'worse than a brute,'
  • she took care not to act like him; but at home she had small inclination t_ractise politeness that would only be laughed at, and restrain an unrul_ature when it would bring her neither credit nor praise.
  • Mr. Edgar seldom mustered courage to visit Wuthering Heights openly. He had _error of Earnshaw's reputation, and shrunk from encountering him; and yet h_as always received with our best attempts at civility: the master himsel_voided offending him, knowing why he came; and if he could not be gracious, kept out of the way. I rather think his appearance there was distasteful t_atherine; she was not artful, never played the coquette, and had evidently a_bjection to her two friends meeting at all; for when Heathcliff expresse_ontempt of Linton in his presence, she could not half coincide, as she did i_is absence; and when Linton evinced disgust and antipathy to Heathcliff, sh_ared not treat his sentiments with indifference, as if depreciation of he_laymate were of scarcely any consequence to her. I've had many a laugh at he_erplexities and untold troubles, which she vainly strove to hide from m_ockery. That sounds ill-natured: but she was so proud it became reall_mpossible to pity her distresses, till she should be chastened into mor_umility. She did bring herself, finally, to confess, and to confide in me: there was not a soul else that she might fashion into an adviser.
  • Mr. Hindley had gone from home one afternoon, and Heathcliff presumed to giv_imself a holiday on the strength of it. He had reached the age of sixtee_hen, I think, and without having bad features, or being deficient i_ntellect, he contrived to convey an impression of inward and outwar_epulsiveness that his present aspect retains no traces of. In the firs_lace, he had by that time lost the benefit of his early education: continua_ard work, begun soon and concluded late, had extinguished any curiosity h_nce possessed in pursuit of knowledge, and any love for books or learning.
  • His childhood's sense of superiority, instilled into him by the favours of ol_r. Earnshaw, was faded away. He struggled long to keep up an equality wit_atherine in her studies, and yielded with poignant though silent regret: bu_e yielded completely; and there was no prevailing on him to take a step i_he way of moving upward, when he found he must, necessarily, sink beneath hi_ormer level. Then personal appearance sympathised with mental deterioration: he acquired a slouching gait and ignoble look; his naturally reserve_isposition was exaggerated into an almost idiotic excess of unsociabl_oroseness; and he took a grim pleasure, apparently, in exciting the aversio_ather than the esteem of his few acquaintance.
  • Catherine and he were constant companions still at his seasons of respite fro_abour; but he had ceased to express his fondness for her in words, an_ecoiled with angry suspicion from her girlish caresses, as if conscious ther_ould be no gratification in lavishing such marks of affection on him. On th_efore-named occasion he came into the house to announce his intention o_oing nothing, while I was assisting Miss Cathy to arrange her dress: she ha_ot reckoned on his taking it into his head to be idle; and imagining sh_ould have the whole place to herself, she managed, by some means, to infor_r. Edgar of her brother's absence, and was then preparing to receive him.
  • 'Cathy, are you busy this afternoon?' asked Heathcliff. 'Are you goin_nywhere?'
  • 'No, it is raining,' she answered.
  • 'Why have you that silk frock on, then?' he said. 'Nobody coming here, _ope?'
  • 'Not that I know of,' stammered Miss: 'but you should be in the field now, Heathcliff. It is an hour past dinnertime: I thought you were gone.'
  • 'Hindley does not often free us from his accursed presence,' observed the boy.
  • 'I'll not work any more to-day: I'll stay with you.'
  • 'Oh, but Joseph will tell,' she suggested; 'you'd better go!'
  • 'Joseph is loading lime on the further side of Penistone Crags; it will tak_im till dark, and he'll never know.'
  • So, saying, he lounged to the fire, and sat down. Catherine reflected a_nstant, with knitted brows - she found it needful to smooth the way for a_ntrusion. 'Isabella and Edgar Linton talked of calling this afternoon,' sh_aid, at the conclusion of a minute's silence. 'As it rains, I hardly expec_hem; but they may come, and if they do, you run the risk of being scolded fo_o good.'
  • 'Order Ellen to say you are engaged, Cathy,' he persisted; 'don't turn me ou_or those pitiful, silly friends of yours! I'm on the point, sometimes, o_omplaining that they - but I'll not - '
  • 'That they what?' cried Catherine, gazing at him with a troubled countenance.
  • 'Oh, Nelly!' she added petulantly, jerking her head away from my hands,
  • 'you've combed my hair quite out of curl! That's enough; let me alone. Wha_re you on the point of complaining about, Heathcliff?'
  • 'Nothing - only look at the almanack on that wall;' he pointed to a frame_heet hanging near the window, and continued, 'The crosses are for th_venings you have spent with the Lintons, the dots for those spent with me. D_ou see? I've marked every day.'
  • 'Yes - very foolish: as if I took notice!' replied Catherine, in a peevis_one. 'And where is the sense of that?'
  • 'To show that I DO take notice,' said Heathcliff.
  • 'And should I always be sitting with you?' she demanded, growing mor_rritated. 'What good do I get? What do you talk about? You might be dumb, o_ baby, for anything you say to amuse me, or for anything you do, either!'
  • 'You never told me before that I talked too little, or that you disliked m_ompany, Cathy!' exclaimed Heathcliff, in much agitation.
  • 'It's no company at all, when people know nothing and say nothing,' sh_uttered.
  • Her companion rose up, but he hadn't time to express his feelings further, fo_ horse's feet were heard on the flags, and having knocked gently, youn_inton entered, his face brilliant with delight at the unexpected summon sh_ad received. Doubtless Catherine marked the difference between her friends, as one came in and the other went out. The contrast resembled what you see i_xchanging a bleak, hilly, coal country for a beautiful fertile valley; an_is voice and greeting were as opposite as his aspect. He had a sweet, lo_anner of speaking, and pronounced his words as you do: that's less gruff tha_e talk here, and softer.
  • 'I'm not come too soon, am I?' he said, casting a look at me: I had begun t_ipe the plate, and tidy some drawers at the far end in the dresser.
  • 'No,' answered Catherine. 'What are you doing there, Nelly?'
  • 'My work, Miss,' I replied. (Mr. Hindley had given me directions to make _hird party in any private visits Linton chose to pay.)
  • She stepped behind me and whispered crossly, 'Take yourself and your duster_ff; when company are in the house, servants don't commence scouring an_leaning in the room where they are!'
  • 'It's a good opportunity, now that master is away,' I answered aloud: 'h_ates me to be fidgeting over these things in his presence. I'm sure Mr. Edga_ill excuse me.'
  • 'I hate you to be fidgeting in MY presence,' exclaimed the young lad_mperiously, not allowing her guest time to speak: she had failed to recove_er equanimity since the little dispute with Heathcliff.
  • 'I'm sorry for it, Miss Catherine,' was my response; and I proceede_ssiduously with my occupation.
  • She, supposing Edgar could not see her, snatched the cloth from my hand, an_inched me, with a prolonged wrench, very spitefully on the arm. I've said _id not love her, and rather relished mortifying her vanity now and then: besides, she hurt me extremely; so I started up from my knees, and screame_ut, 'Oh, Miss, that's a nasty trick! You have no right to nip me, and I'm no_oing to bear it.'
  • 'I didn't touch you, you lying creature!' cried she, her fingers tingling t_epeat the act, and her ears red with rage. She never had power to conceal he_assion, it always set her whole complexion in a blaze.
  • 'What's that, then?' I retorted, showing a decided purple witness to refut_er.
  • She stamped her foot, wavered a moment, and then, irresistibly impelled by th_aughty spirit within her, slapped me on the cheek: a stinging blow tha_illed both eyes with water.
  • 'Catherine, love! Catherine!' interposed Linton, greatly shocked at the doubl_ault of falsehood and violence which his idol had committed.
  • 'Leave the room, Ellen!' she repeated, trembling all over.
  • Little Hareton, who followed me everywhere, and was sitting near me on th_loor, at seeing my tears commenced crying himself, and sobbed out complaint_gainst 'wicked aunt Cathy,' which drew her fury on to his unlucky head: sh_eized his shoulders, and shook him till the poor child waxed livid, and Edga_houghtlessly laid hold of her hands to deliver him. In an instant one wa_rung free, and the astonished young man felt it applied over his own ear in _ay that could not be mistaken for jest. He drew back in consternation. _ifted Hareton in my arms, and walked off to the kitchen with him, leaving th_oor of communication open, for I was curious to watch how they would settl_heir disagreement. The insulted visitor moved to the spot where he had lai_is hat, pale and with a quivering lip.
  • 'That's right!' I said to myself. 'Take warning and begone! It's a kindness t_et you have a glimpse of her genuine disposition.'
  • 'Where are you going?' demanded Catherine, advancing to the door.
  • He swerved aside, and attempted to pass.
  • 'You must not go!' she exclaimed, energetically.
  • 'I must and shall!' he replied in a subdued voice.
  • 'No,' she persisted, grasping the handle; 'not yet, Edgar Linton: sit down; you shall not leave me in that temper. I should be miserable all night, and _on't be miserable for you!'
  • 'Can I stay after you have struck me?' asked Linton.
  • Catherine was mute.
  • 'You've made me afraid and ashamed of you,' he continued; 'I'll not come her_gain!'
  • Her eyes began to glisten and her lids to twinkle.
  • 'And you told a deliberate untruth!' he said.
  • 'I didn't!' she cried, recovering her speech; 'I did nothing deliberately.
  • Well, go, if you please - get away! And now I'll cry \- I'll cry myself sick!'
  • She dropped down on her knees by a chair, and set to weeping in seriou_arnest. Edgar persevered in his resolution as far as the court; there h_ingered. I resolved to encourage him.
  • 'Miss is dreadfully wayward, sir,' I called out. 'As bad as any marred child: you'd better be riding home, or else she will be sick, only to grieve us.'
  • The soft thing looked askance through the window: he possessed the power t_epart as much as a cat possesses the power to leave a mouse half killed, or _ird half eaten. Ah, I thought, there will be no saving him: he's doomed, an_lies to his fate! And so it was: he turned abruptly, hastened into the hous_gain, shut the door behind him; and when I went in a while after to infor_hem that Earnshaw had come home rabid drunk, ready to pull the whole plac_bout our ears (his ordinary frame of mind in that condition), I saw th_uarrel had merely effected a closer intimacy \- had broken the outworks o_outhful timidity, and enabled them to forsake the disguise of friendship, an_onfess themselves lovers.
  • Intelligence of Mr. Hindley's arrival drove Linton speedily to his horse, an_atherine to her chamber. I went to hide little Hareton, and to take the sho_ut of the master's fowling-piece, which he was fond of playing with in hi_nsane excitement, to the hazard of the lives of any who provoked, or eve_ttracted his notice too much; and I had hit upon the plan of removing it, that he might do less mischief if he did go the length of firing the gun.