HE entered, vociferating oaths dreadful to hear; and caught me in the act o_towing his son sway in the kitchen cupboard. Hareton was impressed with _holesome terror of encountering either his wild beast's fondness or hi_adman's rage; for in one he ran a chance of being squeezed and kissed t_eath, and in the other of being flung into the fire, or dashed against th_all; and the poor thing remained perfectly quiet wherever I chose to put him.
'There, I've found it out at last!' cried Hindley, pulling me back by the ski_f my neck, like a dog. 'By heaven and hell, you've sworn between you t_urder that child! I know how it is, now, that he is always out of my way.
But, with the help of Satan, I shall make you swallow the carving-knife, Nelly! You needn't laugh; for I've just crammed Kenneth, head-downmost, in th_lack- horse marsh; and two is the same as one - and I want to kill some o_ou: I shall have no rest till I do!'
'But I don't like the carving-knife, Mr. Hindley,' I answered; 'it has bee_utting red herrings. I'd rather be shot, if you please.'
'You'd rather be damned!' he said; 'and so you shall. No law in England ca_inder a man from keeping his house decent, and mine's abominable! Open you_outh.' He held the knife in his hand, and pushed its point between my teeth: but, for my part, I was never much afraid of his vagaries. I spat out, an_ffirmed it tasted detestably - I would not take it on any account.
'Oh!' said he, releasing me, 'I see that hideous little villain is no_areton: I beg your pardon, Nell. If it be, he deserves flaying alive for no_unning to welcome me, and for screaming as if I were a goblin. Unnatural cub, come hither! I'll teach thee to impose on a good-hearted, deluded father. Now, don't you think the lad would be handsomer cropped? It makes a dog fiercer, and I love something fierce - get me a scissors - something fierce and trim!
Besides, it's infernal affectation - devilish conceit it is, to cherish ou_ars - we're asses enough without them. Hush, child, hush! Well then, it is m_arling! wisht, dry thy eyes - there's a joy; kiss me. What! it won't? Kis_e, Hareton! Damn thee, kiss me! By God, as if I would rear such a monster! A_ure as I'm living, I'll break the brat's neck.'
Poor Hareton was squalling and kicking in his father's arms with all hi_ight, and redoubled his yells when he carried him up- stairs and lifted hi_ver the banister. I cried out that he would frighten the child into fits, an_an to rescue him. As I reached them, Hindley leant forward on the rails t_isten to a noise below; almost forgetting what he had in his hands. 'Who i_hat?' he asked, hearing some one approaching the stairs'-foot. I lean_orward also, for the purpose of signing to Heathcliff, whose step _ecognised, not to come further; and, at the instant when my eye quitte_areton, he gave a sudden spring, delivered himself from the careless gras_hat held him, and fell.
There was scarcely time to experience a thrill of horror before we saw tha_he little wretch was safe. Heathcliff arrived underneath just at the critica_oment; by a natural impulse he arrested his descent, and setting him on hi_eet, looked up to discover the author of the accident. A miser who has parte_ith a lucky lottery ticket for five shillings, and finds next day he has los_n the bargain five thousand pounds, could not show a blanker countenance tha_e did on beholding the figure of Mr. Earnshaw above. It expressed, plaine_han words could do, the intensest anguish at having made himself th_nstrument of thwarting his own revenge. Had it been dark, I daresay he woul_ave tried to remedy the mistake by smashing Hareton's skull on the steps; but, we witnessed his salvation; and I was presently below with my preciou_harge pressed to my heart. Hindley descended more leisurely, sobered an_bashed.
'It is your fault, Ellen,' he said; 'you should have kept him out of sight: you should have taken him from me! Is he injured anywhere?'
'Injured!' I cried angrily; 'if he is not killed, he'll be an idiot! Oh! _onder his mother does not rise from her grave to see how you use him. You'r_orse than a heathen - treating your own flesh and blood in that manner!' H_ttempted to touch the child, who, on finding himself with me, sobbed off hi_error directly. At the first finger his father laid on him, however, h_hrieked again louder than before, and struggled as if he would go int_onvulsions.
'You shall not meddle with him!' I continued. 'He hates you - they all hat_ou - that's the truth! A happy family you have; and a pretty state you'r_ome to!'
'I shall come to a prettier, yet, Nelly,' laughed the misguided man, recovering his hardness. 'At present, convey yourself and him away. And har_ou, Heathcliff! clear you too quite from my reach and hearing. I wouldn'_urder you to-night; unless, perhaps, I set the house on fire: but that's a_y fancy goes.'
While saying this he took a pint bottle of brandy from the dresser, and poure_ome into a tumbler.
'Nay, don't!' I entreated. 'Mr. Hindley, do take warning. Have mercy on thi_nfortunate boy, if you care nothing for yourself!'
'Any one will do better for him than I shall,' he answered.
'Have mercy on your own soul!' I said, endeavouring to snatch the glass fro_is hand.
'Not I! On the contrary, I shall have great pleasure in sending it t_erdition to punish its Maker,' exclaimed the blasphemer. 'Here's to it_earty damnation!'
He drank the spirits and impatiently bade us go; terminating his command wit_ sequel of horrid imprecations too bad to repeat or remember.
'It's a pity he cannot kill himself with drink,' observed Heathcliff, muttering an echo of curses back when the door was shut. 'He's doing his ver_tmost; but his constitution defies him. Mr. Kenneth says he would wager hi_are that he'll outlive any man on this side Gimmerton, and go to the grave _oary sinner; unless some happy chance out of the common course befall him.'
I went into the kitchen, and sat down to lull my little lamb to sleep.
Heathcliff, as I thought, walked through to the barn. It turned out afterward_hat he only got as far as the other side the settle, when he flung himself o_ bench by the wall, removed from the fire and remained silent.
I was rocking Hareton on my knee, and humming a song that began, -
It was far in the night, and the bairnies grat, The mither beneath the mool_eard that,
when Miss Cathy, who had listened to the hubbub from her room, put her hea_n, and whispered, - 'Are you alone, Nelly?'
'Yes, Miss,' I replied.
She entered and approached the hearth. I, supposing she was going to sa_omething, looked up. The expression of her face seemed disturbed and anxious.
Her lips were half asunder, as if she meant to speak, and she drew a breath; but it escaped in a sigh instead of a sentence. I resumed my song; not havin_orgotten her recent behaviour.
'Where's Heathcliff?' she said, interrupting me.
'About his work in the stable,' was my answer.
He did not contradict me; perhaps he had fallen into a doze. There followe_nother long pause, during which I perceived a drop or two trickle fro_atherine's cheek to the flags. Is she sorry for her shameful conduct? - _sked myself. That will be a novelty: but she may come to the point - as sh_ill - I sha'n't help her! No, she felt small trouble regarding any subject, save her own concerns.
'Oh, dear!' she cried at last. 'I'm very unhappy!'
'A pity,' observed I. 'You're hard to please; so many friends and so fe_ares, and can't make yourself content!'
'Nelly, will you keep a secret for me?' she pursued, kneeling down by me, an_ifting her winsome eyes to my face with that sort of look which turns off ba_emper, even when one has all the right in the world to indulge it.
'Is it worth keeping?' I inquired, less sulkily.
'Yes, and it worries me, and I must let it out! I want to know what I shoul_o. To-day, Edgar Linton has asked me to marry him, and I've given him a_nswer. Now, before I tell you whether it was a consent or denial, you tell m_hich it ought to have been.'
'Really, Miss Catherine, how can I know?' I replied. 'To be sure, considerin_he exhibition you performed in his presence this afternoon, I might say i_ould be wise to refuse him: since he asked you after that, he must either b_opelessly stupid or a venturesome fool.'
'If you talk so, I won't tell you any more,' she returned, peevishly rising t_er feet. 'I accepted him, Nelly. Be quick, and say whether I was wrong!'
'You accepted him! Then what good is it discussing the matter? You hav_ledged your word, and cannot retract.'
'But say whether I should have done so - do!' she exclaimed in an irritate_one; chafing her hands together, and frowning.
'There are many things to be considered before that question can be answere_roperly,' I said, sententiously. 'First and foremost, do you love Mr. Edgar?'
'Who can help it? Of course I do,' she answered.
Then I put her through the following catechism: for a girl of twenty-two i_as not injudicious.
'Why do you love him, Miss Cathy?'
'Nonsense, I do - that's sufficient.'
'By no means; you must say why?'
'Well, because he is handsome, and pleasant to be with.'
'Bad!' was my commentary.
'And because he is young and cheerful.'
'And because he loves me.'
'Indifferent, coming there.'
'And he will be rich, and I shall like to be the greatest woman of th_eighbourhood, and I shall be proud of having such a husband.'
'Worst of all. And now, say how you love him?'
'As everybody loves - You're silly, Nelly.'
'Not at all - Answer.'
'I love the ground under his feet, and the air over his head, and everythin_e touches, and every word he says. I love all his looks, and all his actions, and him entirely and altogether. There now!'
'Nay; you are making a jest of it: it is exceedingly ill-natured! It's no jes_o me!' said the young lady, scowling, and turning her face to the fire.
'I'm very far from jesting, Miss Catherine,' I replied. 'You love Mr. Edga_ecause he is handsome, and young, and cheerful, and rich, and loves you. Th_ast, however, goes for nothing: you would love him without that, probably; and with it you wouldn't, unless he possessed the four former attractions.'
'No, to be sure not: I should only pity him - hate him, perhaps, if he wer_gly, and a clown.'
'But there are several other handsome, rich young men in the world: handsomer, possibly, and richer than he is. What should hinder you from loving them?'
'If there be any, they are out of my way: I've seen none like Edgar.'
'You may see some; and he won't always be handsome, and young, and may no_lways be rich.'
'He is now; and I have only to do with the present. I wish you would spea_ationally.'
'Well, that settles it: if you have only to do with the present, marry Mr.
'I don't want your permission for that - I SHALL marry him: and yet you hav_ot told me whether I'm right.'
'Perfectly right; if people be right to marry only for the present. And now, let us hear what you are unhappy about. Your brother will be pleased; the ol_ady and gentleman will not object, I think; you will escape from _isorderly, comfortless home into a wealthy, respectable one; and you lov_dgar, and Edgar loves you. All seems smooth and easy: where is the obstacle?'
'HERE! and HERE!' replied Catherine, striking one hand on her forehead, an_he other on her breast: 'in whichever place the soul lives. In my soul and i_y heart, I'm convinced I'm wrong!'
'That's very strange! I cannot make it out.'
'It's my secret. But if you will not mock at me, I'll explain it: I can't d_t distinctly; but I'll give you a feeling of how I feel.'
She seated herself by me again: her countenance grew sadder and graver, an_er clasped hands trembled.
'Nelly, do you never dream queer dreams?' she said, suddenly, after som_inutes' reflection.
'Yes, now and then,' I answered.
'And so do I. I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me eve_fter, and changed my ideas: they've gone through and through me, like win_hrough water, and altered the colour of my mind. And this is one: I'm goin_o tell it - but take care not to smile at any part of it.'
'Oh! don't, Miss Catherine!' I cried. 'We're dismal enough without conjurin_p ghosts and visions to perplex us. Come, come, be merry and like yourself!
Look at little Hareton! HE'S dreaming nothing dreary. How sweetly he smiles i_is sleep!'
'Yes; and how sweetly his father curses in his solitude! You remember him, _aresay, when he was just such another as that chubby thing: nearly as youn_nd innocent. However, Nelly, I shall oblige you to listen: it's not long; an_'ve no power to be merry to-night.'
'I won't hear it, I won't hear it!' I repeated, hastily.
I was superstitious about dreams then, and am still; and Catherine had a_nusual gloom in her aspect, that made me dread something from which I migh_hape a prophecy, and foresee a fearful catastrophe. She was vexed, but sh_id not proceed. Apparently taking up another subject, she recommenced in _hort time.
'If I were in heaven, Nelly, I should be extremely miserable.'
'Because you are not fit to go there,' I answered. 'All sinners would b_iserable in heaven.'
'But it is not for that. I dreamt once that I was there.'
'I tell you I won't hearken to your dreams, Miss Catherine! I'll go to bed,' _nterrupted again.
She laughed, and held me down; for I made a motion to leave my chair.
'This is nothing,' cried she: 'I was only going to say that heaven did no_eem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of th_eath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy. That wil_o to explain my secret, as well as the other. I've no more business to marr_dgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there ha_ot brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn't have thought of it. It woul_egrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: an_hat, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than _m. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton's i_s different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.'
Ere this speech ended I became sensible of Heathcliff's presence. Havin_oticed a slight movement, I turned my head, and saw him rise from the bench, and steal out noiselessly. He had listened till he heard Catherine say i_ould degrade her to marry him, and then he stayed to hear no further. M_ompanion, sitting on the ground, was prevented by the back of the settle fro_emarking his presence or departure; but I started, and bade her hush!
'Why?' she asked, gazing nervously round.
'Joseph is here,' I answered, catching opportunely the roll of his cartwheel_p the road; 'and Heathcliff will come in with him. I'm not sure whether h_ere not at the door this moment.'
'Oh, he couldn't overhear me at the door!' said she. 'Give me Hareton, whil_ou get the supper, and when it is ready ask me to sup with you. I want t_heat my uncomfortable conscience, and be convinced that Heathcliff has n_otion of these things. He has not, has he? He does not know what being i_ove is!'
'I see no reason that he should not know, as well as you,' I returned; 'and i_ou are his choice, he'll be the most unfortunate creature that ever was born!
As soon as you become Mrs. Linton, he loses friend, and love, and all! Hav_ou considered how you'll bear the separation, and how he'll bear to be quit_eserted in the world? Because, Miss Catherine - '
'He quite deserted! we separated!' she exclaimed, with an accent o_ndignation. 'Who is to separate us, pray? They'll meet the fate of Milo! No_s long as I live, Ellen: for no mortal creature. Every Linton on the face o_he earth might melt into nothing before I could consent to forsak_eathcliff. Oh, that's not what I intend - that's not what I mean! I shouldn'_e Mrs. Linton were such a price demanded! He'll be as much to me as he ha_een all his lifetime. Edgar must shake off his antipathy, and tolerate him, at least. He will, when he learns my true feelings towards him. Nelly, I se_ow you think me a selfish wretch; but did it never strike you that i_eathcliff and I married, we should be beggars? whereas, if I marry Linton _an aid Heathcliff to rise, and place him out of my brother's power.'
'With your husband's money, Miss Catherine?' I asked. 'You'll find him not s_liable as you calculate upon: and, though I'm hardly a judge, I think that'_he worst motive you've given yet for being the wife of young Linton.'
'It is not,' retorted she; 'it is the best! The others were the satisfactio_f my whims: and for Edgar's sake, too, to satisfy him. This is for the sak_f one who comprehends in his person my feelings to Edgar and myself. I canno_xpress it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or shoul_e an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if _ere entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have bee_eathcliff's miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: m_reat thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and HE remained, _hould still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he wer_nnihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem _art of it. - My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time wil_hange it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathclif_esembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, bu_ecessary. Nelly, I AM Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as _leasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.
So don't talk of our separation again: it is impracticable; and - '
She paused, and hid her face in the folds of my gown; but I jerked it forcibl_way. I was out of patience with her folly!
'If I can make any sense of your nonsense, Miss,' I said, 'it only goes t_onvince me that you are ignorant of the duties you undertake in marrying; o_lse that you are a wicked, unprincipled girl. But trouble me with no mor_ecrets: I'll not promise to keep them.'
'You'll keep that?' she asked, eagerly.
'No, I'll not promise,' I repeated.
She was about to insist, when the entrance of Joseph finished ou_onversation; and Catherine removed her seat to a corner, and nursed Hareton, while I made the supper. After it was cooked, my fellow-servant and I began t_uarrel who should carry some to Mr. Hindley; and we didn't settle it till al_as nearly cold. Then we came to the agreement that we would let him ask, i_e wanted any; for we feared particularly to go into his presence when he ha_een some time alone.
'And how isn't that nowt comed in fro' th' field, be this time? What is h_bout? girt idle seeght!' demanded the old man, looking round for Heathcliff.
'I'll call him,' I replied. 'He's in the barn, I've no doubt.'
I went and called, but got no answer. On returning, I whispered to Catherin_hat he had heard a good part of what she said, I was sure; and told how I sa_im quit the kitchen just as she complained of her brother's conduct regardin_im. She jumped up in a fine fright, flung Hareton on to the settle, and ra_o seek for her friend herself; not taking leisure to consider why she was s_lurried, or how her talk would have affected him. She was absent such a whil_hat Joseph proposed we should wait no longer. He cunningly conjectured the_ere staying away in order to avoid hearing his protracted blessing. They were
'ill eneugh for ony fahl manners,' he affirmed. And on their behalf he adde_hat night a special prayer to the usual quarter-of-an-hour's supplicatio_efore meat, and would have tacked another to the end of the grace, had no_is young mistress broken in upon him with a hurried command that he must ru_own the road, and, wherever Heathcliff had rambled, find and make him re- enter directly!
'I want to speak to him, and I MUST, before I go upstairs,' she said. 'And th_ate is open: he is somewhere out of hearing; for he would not reply, though _houted at the top of the fold as loud as I could.'
Joseph objected at first; she was too much in earnest, however, to suffe_ontradiction; and at last he placed his hat on his head, and walked grumblin_orth. Meantime, Catherine paced up and down the floor, exclaiming - 'I wonde_here he is - I wonder where he can be! What did I say, Nelly? I've forgotten.
Was he vexed at my bad humour this afternoon? Dear! tell me what I've said t_rieve him? I do wish he'd come. I do wish he would!'
'What a noise for nothing!' I cried, though rather uneasy myself. 'What _rifle scares you! It's surely no great cause of alarm that Heathcliff shoul_ake a moonlight saunter on the moors, or even lie too sulky to speak to us i_he hay-loft. I'll engage he's lurking there. See if I don't ferret him out!'
I departed to renew my search; its result was disappointment, and Joseph'_uest ended in the same.
'Yon lad gets war und war!' observed he on re-entering. 'He's left th' gate a_' full swing, and Miss's pony has trodden dahn two rigs o' corn, an_lottered through, raight o'er into t' meadow! Hahsomdiver, t' maister 'ul_lay t' devil to-morn, and he'll do weel. He's patience itsseln wi' sic_areless, offald craters - patience itsseln he is! Bud he'll not be soa allus - yah's see, all on ye! Yah mun'n't drive him out of his heead for nowt!'
'Have you found Heathcliff, you ass?' interrupted Catherine. 'Have you bee_ooking for him, as I ordered?'
'I sud more likker look for th' horse,' he replied. 'It 'ud be to more sense.
Bud I can look for norther horse nur man of a neeght loike this - as black a_' chimbley! und Heathcliff's noan t' chap to coom at MY whistle - happe_e'll be less hard o' hearing wi' YE!'
It WAS a very dark evening for summer: the clouds appeared inclined t_hunder, and I said we had better all sit down; the approaching rain would b_ertain to bring him home without further trouble. However, Catherine woul_ot be persuaded into tranquillity. She kept wandering to and fro, from th_ate to the door, in a state of agitation which permitted no repose; and a_ength took up a permanent situation on one side of the wall, near the road: where, heedless of my expostulations and the growling thunder, and the grea_rops that began to plash around her, she remained, calling at intervals, an_hen listening, and then crying outright. She beat Hareton, or any child, at _ood passionate fit of crying.
About midnight, while we still sat up, the storm came rattling over th_eights in full fury. There was a violent wind, as well as thunder, and eithe_ne or the other split a tree off at the corner of the building: a huge boug_ell across the roof, and knocked down a portion of the east chimney-stack, sending a clatter of stones and soot into the kitchen-fire. We thought a bol_ad fallen in the middle of us; and Joseph swung on to his knees, beseechin_he Lord to remember the patriarchs Noah and Lot, and, as in former times, spare the righteous, though he smote the ungodly. I felt some sentiment tha_t must be a judgment on us also. The Jonah, in my mind, was Mr. Earnshaw; an_ shook the handle of his den that I might ascertain if he were yet living. H_eplied audibly enough, in a fashion which made my companion vociferate, mor_lamorously than before, that a wide distinction might be drawn between saint_ike himself and sinners like his master. But the uproar passed away in twent_inutes, leaving us all unharmed; excepting Cathy, who got thoroughly drenche_or her obstinacy in refusing to take shelter, and standing bonnetless an_hawl-less to catch as much water as she could with her hair and clothes. Sh_ame in and lay down on the settle, all soaked as she was, turning her face t_he back, and putting her hands before it.
'Well, Miss!' I exclaimed, touching her shoulder; 'you are not bent on gettin_our death, are you? Do you know what o'clock it is? Half-past twelve. Come, come to bed! there's no use waiting any longer on that foolish boy: he'll b_one to Gimmerton, and he'll stay there now. He guesses we shouldn't wait fo_im till this late hour: at least, he guesses that only Mr. Hindley would b_p; and he'd rather avoid having the door opened by the master.'
'Nay, nay, he's noan at Gimmerton,' said Joseph. 'I's niver wonder but he's a_' bothom of a bog-hoile. This visitation worn't for nowt, and I wod hev' y_o look out, Miss - yah muh be t' next. Thank Hivin for all! All wark_ogither for gooid to them as is chozzen, and piked out fro' th' rubbidge! Ya_naw whet t' Scripture ses.' And he began quoting several texts, referring u_o chapters and verses where we might find them.
I, having vainly begged the wilful girl to rise and remove her wet things, left him preaching and her shivering, and betook myself to bed with littl_areton, who slept as fast as if everyone had been sleeping round him. I hear_oseph read on a while afterwards; then I distinguished his slow step on th_adder, and then I dropped asleep.
Coming down somewhat later than usual, I saw, by the sunbeams piercing th_hinks of the shutters, Miss Catherine still seated near the fireplace. Th_ouse-door was ajar, too; light entered from its unclosed windows; Hindley ha_ome out, and stood on the kitchen hearth, haggard and drowsy.
'What ails you, Cathy?' he was saying when I entered: 'you look as dismal as _rowned whelp. Why are you so damp and pale, child?'
'I've been wet,' she answered reluctantly, 'and I'm cold, that's all.'
'Oh, she is naughty!' I cried, perceiving the master to be tolerably sober.
'She got steeped in the shower of yesterday evening, and there she has sat th_ight through, and I couldn't prevail on her to stir.'
Mr. Earnshaw stared at us in surprise. 'The night through,' he repeated. 'Wha_ept her up? not fear of the thunder, surely? That was over hours since.'
Neither of us wished to mention Heathcliff's absence, as long as we coul_onceal it; so I replied, I didn't know how she took it into her head to si_p; and she said nothing. The morning was fresh and cool; I threw back th_attice, and presently the room filled with sweet scents from the garden; bu_atherine called peevishly to me, 'Ellen, shut the window. I'm starving!' An_er teeth chattered as she shrank closer to the almost extinguished embers.
'She's ill,' said Hindley, taking her wrist; 'I suppose that's the reason sh_ould not go to bed. Damn it! I don't want to be troubled with more sicknes_ere. What took you into the rain?'
'Running after t' lads, as usuald!' croaked Joseph, catching an opportunit_rom our hesitation to thrust in his evil tongue. 'If I war yah, maister, I'_ust slam t' boards i' their faces all on 'em, gentle and simple! Never a da_t yah're off, but yon cat o' Linton comes sneaking hither; and Miss Nelly, shoo's a fine lass! shoo sits watching for ye i' t' kitchen; and as yah're i_t one door, he's out at t'other; and, then, wer grand lady goes a- courtin_f her side! It's bonny behaviour, lurking amang t' fields, after twelve o' t'
night, wi' that fahl, flaysome divil of a gipsy, Heathcliff! They think I'_lind; but I'm noan: nowt ut t' soart! - I seed young Linton boath coming an_oing, and I seed YAH' (directing his discourse to me), 'yah gooid fur nowt, slattenly witch! nip up and bolt into th' house, t' minute yah heard t'
maister's horse-fit clatter up t' road.'
'Silence, eavesdropper!' cried Catherine; 'none of your insolence before me!
Edgar Linton came yesterday by chance, Hindley; and it was I who told him t_e off: because I knew you would not like to have met him as you were.'
'You lie, Cathy, no doubt,' answered her brother, 'and you are a confounde_impleton! But never mind Linton at present: tell me, were you not wit_eathcliff last night? Speak the truth, now. You need not he afraid of harmin_im: though I hate him as much as ever, he did me a good turn a short tim_ince that will make my conscience tender of breaking his neck. To prevent it, I shall send him about his business this very morning; and after he's gone, I'd advise you all to look sharp: I shall only have the more humour for you.'
'I never saw Heathcliff last night,' answered Catherine, beginning to so_itterly: 'and if you do turn him out of doors, I'll go with him. But, perhaps, you'll never have an opportunity: perhaps, he's gone.' Here she burs_nto uncontrollable grief, and the remainder of her words were inarticulate.
Hindley lavished on her a torrent of scornful abuse, and bade her get to he_oom immediately, or she shouldn't cry for nothing! I obliged her to obey; an_ shall never forget what a scene she acted when we reached her chamber: i_errified me. I thought she was going mad, and I begged Joseph to run for th_octor. It proved the commencement of delirium: Mr. Kenneth, as soon as he sa_er, pronounced her dangerously ill; she had a fever. He bled her, and he tol_e to let her live on whey and water-gruel, and take care she did not thro_erself downstairs or out of the window; and then he left: for he had enoug_o do in the parish, where two or three miles was the ordinary distanc_etween cottage and cottage.
Though I cannot say I made a gentle nurse, and Joseph and the master were n_etter, and though our patient was as wearisome and headstrong as a patien_ould be, she weathered it through. Old Mrs. Linton paid us several visits, t_e sure, and set things to rights, and scolded and ordered us all; and whe_atherine was convalescent, she insisted on conveying her to Thrushcros_range: for which deliverance we were very grateful. But the poor dame ha_eason to repent of her kindness: she and her husband both took the fever, an_ied within a few days of each other.
Our young lady returned to us saucier and more passionate, and haughtier tha_ver. Heathcliff had never been heard of since the evening of the thunder- storm; and, one day, I had the misfortune, when she had provoked m_xceedingly, to lay the blame of his disappearance on her: where indeed i_elonged, as she well knew. From that period, for several months, she cease_o hold any communication with me, save in the relation of a mere servant.
Joseph fell under a ban also: he would speak his mind, and lecture her all th_ame as if she were a little girl; and she esteemed herself a woman, and ou_istress, and thought that her recent illness gave her a claim to be treate_ith consideration. Then the doctor had said that she would not bear crossin_uch; she ought to have her own way; and it was nothing less than murder i_er eyes for any one to presume to stand up and contradict her. From Mr.
Earnshaw and his companions she kept aloof; and tutored by Kenneth, an_erious threats of a fit that often attended her rages, her brother allowe_er whatever she pleased to demand, and generally avoided aggravating he_iery temper. He was rather too indulgent in humouring her caprices; not fro_ffection, but from pride: he wished earnestly to see her bring honour to th_amily by an alliance with the Lintons, and as long as she let him alone sh_ight trample on us like slaves, for aught he cared! Edgar Linton, a_ultitudes have been before and will be after him, was infatuated: an_elieved himself the happiest man alive on the day he led her to Gimmerto_hapel, three years subsequent to his father's death.
Much against my inclination, I was persuaded to leave Wuthering Heights an_ccompany her here, Little Hareton was nearly five years old, and I had jus_egun to teach him his letters. We made a sad parting; but Catherine's tear_ere more powerful than ours. When I refused to go, and when she found he_ntreaties did not move me, she went lamenting to her husband and brother. Th_ormer offered me munificent wages; the latter ordered me to pack up: h_anted no women in the house, he said, now that there was no mistress; and a_o Hareton, the curate should take him in hand, by-and-by. And so I had bu_ne choice left: to do as I was ordered. I told the master he got rid of al_ecent people only to run to ruin a little faster; I kissed Hareton, sai_ood-by; and since then he has been a stranger: and it's very queer to thin_t, but I've no doubt he has completely forgotten all about Ellen Dean, an_hat he was ever more than all the world to her and she to him!
At this point of the housekeeper's story she chanced to glance towards th_ime-piece over the chimney; and was in amazement on seeing the minute-han_easure half-past one. She would not hear of staying a second longer: i_ruth, I felt rather disposed to defer the sequel of her narrative myself. An_ow that she is vanished to her rest, and I have meditated for another hour o_wo, I shall summon courage to go also, in spite of aching laziness of hea_nd limbs.