Another week over and I
am so many days nearer health, and spring! I
have now heard all my neighbour’s history, at
different sittings, as the housekeeper could spare
time from more important occupations. I’ll
continue it in her own words, only a little condensed.
She is, on the whole, a very fair narrator, and I
don’t think I could improve her style.
In the evening, she said, the evening
of my visit to the Heights, I knew, as well as if
I saw him, that Mr. Heathcliff was about the place;
and I shunned going out, because I still carried his
letter in my pocket, and didn’t want to be threatened
or teased any more. I had made up my mind not
to give it till my master went somewhere, as I could
not guess how its receipt would affect Catherine.
The consequence was, that it did not reach her before
the lapse of three days. The fourth was Sunday,
and I brought it into her room after the family were
gone to church. There was a manservant left
to keep the house with me, and we generally made a
practice of locking the doors during the hours of service;
but on that occasion the weather was so warm and pleasant
that I set them wide open, and, to fulfil my engagement,
as I knew who would be coming, I told my companion
that the mistress wished very much for some oranges,
and he must run over to the village and get a few,
to be paid for on the morrow. He departed, and
I went up-stairs.
Mrs. Linton sat in a loose white dress,
with a light shawl over her shoulders, in the recess
of the open window, as usual. Her thick, long
hair had been partly removed at the beginning of her
illness, and now she wore it simply combed in its
natural tresses over her temples and neck. Her
appearance was altered, as I had told Heathcliff; but
when she was calm, there seemed unearthly beauty in
the change. The flash of her eyes had been succeeded
by a dreamy and melancholy softness; they no longer
gave the impression of looking at the objects around
her: they appeared always to gaze beyond, and
far beyond you would have said out of this
world. Then, the paleness of her face its
haggard aspect having vanished as she recovered flesh and
the peculiar expression arising from her mental state,
though painfully suggestive of their causes, added
to the touching interest which she awakened; and invariably
to me, I know, and to any person who saw her, I should
think refuted more tangible proofs of convalescence,
and stamped her as one doomed to decay.
A book lay spread on the sill before
her, and the scarcely perceptible wind fluttered its
leaves at intervals. I believe Linton had laid
it there: for she never endeavoured to divert
herself with reading, or occupation of any kind, and
he would spend many an hour in trying to entice her
attention to some subject which had formerly been her
amusement. She was conscious of his aim, and
in her better moods endured his efforts placidly,
only showing their uselessness by now and then suppressing
a wearied sigh, and checking him at last with the saddest
of smiles and kisses. At other times, she would
turn petulantly away, and hide her face in her hands,
or even push him off angrily; and then he took care
to let her alone, for he was certain of doing no good.
Gimmerton chapel bells were still
ringing; and the full, mellow flow of the beck in
the valley came soothingly on the ear. It was
a sweet substitute for the yet absent murmur of the
summer foliage, which drowned that music about the
Grange when the trees were in leaf. At Wuthering
Heights it always sounded on quiet days following a
great thaw or a season of steady rain. And of
Wuthering Heights Catherine was thinking as she listened:
that is, if she thought or listened at all; but she
had the vague, distant look I mentioned before, which
expressed no recognition of material things either
by ear or eye.
‘There’s a letter for
you, Mrs. Linton,’ I said, gently inserting it
in one hand that rested on her knee. ’You
must read it immediately, because it wants an answer.
Shall I break the seal?’ ‘Yes,’
she answered, without altering the direction of her
eyes. I opened it it was very short.
‘Now,’ I continued, ‘read it.’
She drew away her hand, and let it fall. I
replaced it in her lap, and stood waiting till it should
please her to glance down; but that movement was so
long delayed that at last I resumed ’Must
I read it, ma’am? It is from Mr. Heathcliff.’
There was a start and a troubled gleam
of recollection, and a struggle to arrange her ideas.
She lifted the letter, and seemed to peruse it; and
when she came to the signature she sighed: yet
still I found she had not gathered its import, for,
upon my desiring to hear her reply, she merely pointed
to the name, and gazed at me with mournful and questioning
‘Well, he wishes to see you,’
said I, guessing her need of an interpreter.
’He’s in the garden by this time, and
impatient to know what answer I shall bring.’
As I spoke, I observed a large dog
lying on the sunny grass beneath raise its ears as
if about to bark, and then smoothing them back, announce,
by a wag of the tail, that some one approached whom
it did not consider a stranger. Mrs. Linton
bent forward, and listened breathlessly. The
minute after a step traversed the hall; the open house
was too tempting for Heathcliff to resist walking
in: most likely he supposed that I was inclined
to shirk my promise, and so resolved to trust to his
own audacity. With straining eagerness Catherine
gazed towards the entrance of her chamber. He
did not hit the right room directly: she motioned
me to admit him, but he found it out ere I could reach
the door, and in a stride or two was at her side,
and had her grasped in his arms.
He neither spoke nor loosed his hold
for some five minutes, during which period he bestowed
more kisses than ever he gave in his life before, I
daresay: but then my mistress had kissed him first,
and I plainly saw that he could hardly bear, for downright
agony, to look into her face! The same conviction
had stricken him as me, from the instant he beheld
her, that there was no prospect of ultimate recovery
there she was fated, sure to die.
‘Oh, Cathy! Oh, my life!
how can I bear it?’ was the first sentence he
uttered, in a tone that did not seek to disguise his
despair. And now he stared at her so earnestly
that I thought the very intensity of his gaze would
bring tears into his eyes; but they burned with anguish:
they did not melt.
‘What now?’ said Catherine,
leaning back, and returning his look with a suddenly
clouded brow: her humour was a mere vane for constantly
varying caprices. ’You and Edgar
have broken my heart, Heathcliff! And you both
come to bewail the deed to me, as if you were the people
to be pitied! I shall not pity you, not I.
You have killed me and thriven on it, I
think. How strong you are! How many years
do you mean to live after I am gone?’
Heathcliff had knelt on one knee to
embrace her; he attempted to rise, but she seized
his hair, and kept him down.
‘I wish I could hold you,’
she continued, bitterly, ’till we were both
dead! I shouldn’t care what you suffered.
I care nothing for your sufferings. Why shouldn’t
you suffer? I do! Will you forget me?
Will you be happy when I am in the earth? Will
you say twenty years hence, “That’s the
grave of Catherine Earnshaw? I loved her long
ago, and was wretched to lose her; but it is past.
I’ve loved many others since: my children
are dearer to me than she was; and, at death, I shall
not rejoice that I am going to her: I shall be
sorry that I must leave them!” Will you say
‘Don’t torture me till
I’m as mad as yourself,’ cried he, wrenching
his head free, and grinding his teeth.
The two, to a cool spectator, made
a strange and fearful picture. Well might Catherine
deem that heaven would be a land of exile to her, unless
with her mortal body she cast away her moral character
also. Her present countenance had a wild vindictiveness
in its white cheek, and a bloodless lip and scintillating
eye; and she retained in her closed fingers a portion
of the locks she had been grasping. As to her
companion, while raising himself with one hand, he
had taken her arm with the other; and so inadequate
was his stock of gentleness to the requirements of
her condition, that on his letting go I saw four distinct
impressions left blue in the colourless skin.
‘Are you possessed with a devil,’
he pursued, savagely, ’to talk in that manner
to me when you are dying? Do you reflect that
all those words will be branded in my memory, and
eating deeper eternally after you have left me?
You know you lie to say I have killed you: and,
Catherine, you know that I could as soon forget you
as my existence! Is it not sufficient for your
infernal selfishness, that while you are at peace I
shall writhe in the torments of hell?’
‘I shall not be at peace,’
moaned Catherine, recalled to a sense of physical
weakness by the violent, unequal throbbing of her heart,
which beat visibly and audibly under this excess of
agitation. She said nothing further till the
paroxysm was over; then she continued, more kindly
’I’m not wishing you greater
torment than I have, Heathcliff. I only wish
us never to be parted: and should a word of mine
distress you hereafter, think I feel the same distress
underground, and for my own sake, forgive me!
Come here and kneel down again! You never harmed
me in your life. Nay, if you nurse anger, that
will be worse to remember than my harsh words!
Won’t you come here again? Do!’
Heathcliff went to the back of her
chair, and leant over, but not so far as to let her
see his face, which was livid with emotion. She
bent round to look at him; he would not permit it:
turning abruptly, he walked to the fireplace, where
he stood, silent, with his back towards us. Mrs.
Linton’s glance followed him suspiciously:
every movement woke a new sentiment in her.
After a pause and a prolonged gaze, she resumed; addressing
me in accents of indignant disappointment:
’Oh, you see, Nelly, he would
not relent a moment to keep me out of the grave.
That is how I’m loved! Well, never
mind. That is not my Heathcliff.
I shall love mine yet; and take him with me:
he’s in my soul. And,’ added she
musingly, ’the thing that irks me most is this
shattered prison, after all. I’m tired
of being enclosed here. I’m wearying to
escape into that glorious world, and to be always there:
not seeing it dimly through tears, and yearning for
it through the walls of an aching heart: but
really with it, and in it. Nelly, you think you
are better and more fortunate than I; in full health
and strength: you are sorry for me very
soon that will be altered. I shall be sorry for
you. I shall be incomparably beyond and
above you all. I wonder he won’t
be near me!’ She went on to herself. ’I
thought he wished it. Heathcliff, dear! you should
not be sullen now. Do come to me, Heathcliff.’
In her eagerness she rose and supported
herself on the arm of the chair. At that earnest
appeal he turned to her, looking absolutely desperate.
His eyes, wide and wet, at last flashed fiercely on
her; his breast heaved convulsively. An instant
they held asunder, and then how they met I hardly
saw, but Catherine made a spring, and he caught her,
and they were locked in an embrace from which I thought
my mistress would never be released alive: in
fact, to my eyes, she seemed directly insensible.
He flung himself into the nearest seat, and on my
approaching hurriedly to ascertain if she had fainted,
he gnashed at me, and foamed like a mad dog, and gathered
her to him with greedy jealousy. I did not feel
as if I were in the company of a creature of my own
species: it appeared that he would not understand,
though I spoke to him; so I stood off, and held my
tongue, in great perplexity.
A movement of Catherine’s relieved
me a little presently: she put up her hand to
clasp his neck, and bring her cheek to his as he held
her; while he, in return, covering her with frantic
caresses, said wildly
’You teach me now how cruel
you’ve been cruel and false. Why
did you despise me? Why did you betray your
own heart, Cathy? I have not one word of comfort.
You deserve this. You have killed yourself.
Yes, you may kiss me, and cry; and wring out my kisses
and tears: they’ll blight you they’ll
damn you. You loved me then what right
had you to leave me? What right answer
me for the poor fancy you felt for Linton?
Because misery and degradation, and death, and nothing
that God or Satan could inflict would have parted
us, you, of your own will, did it. I
have not broken your heart you have
broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine.
So much the worse for me that I am strong. Do
I want to live? What kind of living will it
be when you oh, God! would you like
to live with your soul in the grave?’
‘Let me alone. Let me
alone,’ sobbed Catherine. ’If I’ve
done wrong, I’m dying for it. It is enough!
You left me too: but I won’t upbraid you!
I forgive you. Forgive me!’
’It is hard to forgive, and
to look at those eyes, and feel those wasted hands,’
he answered. ’Kiss me again; and don’t
let me see your eyes! I forgive what you have
done to me. I love my murderer but
yours! How can I?’
They were silent their
faces hid against each other, and washed by each other’s
tears. At least, I suppose the weeping was on
both sides; as it seemed Heathcliff could weep on
a great occasion like this.
I grew very uncomfortable, meanwhile;
for the afternoon wore fast away, the man whom I had
sent off returned from his errand, and I could distinguish,
by the shine of the western sun up the valley, a concourse
thickening outside Gimmerton chapel porch.
‘Service is over,’ I announced.
’My master will be here in half an hour.’
Heathcliff groaned a curse, and strained
Catherine closer: she never moved.
Ere long I perceived a group of the
servants passing up the road towards the kitchen wing.
Mr. Linton was not far behind; he opened the gate
himself and sauntered slowly up, probably enjoying
the lovely afternoon that breathed as soft as summer.
‘Now he is here,’ I exclaimed.
’For heaven’s sake, hurry down!
You’ll not meet any one on the front stairs.
Do be quick; and stay among the trees till he is
‘I must go, Cathy,’ said
Heathcliff, seeking to extricate himself from his
companion’s arms. ’But if I live,
I’ll see you again before you are asleep.
I won’t stray five yards from your window.’
‘You must not go!’ she
answered, holding him as firmly as her strength allowed.
‘You shall not, I tell you.’
‘For one hour,’ he pleaded earnestly.
‘Not for one minute,’ she replied.
‘I must Linton
will be up immediately,’ persisted the alarmed
He would have risen, and unfixed her
fingers by the act she clung fast, gasping:
there was mad resolution in her face.
‘No!’ she shrieked.
’Oh, don’t, don’t go. It is
the last time! Edgar will not hurt us.
Heathcliff, I shall die! I shall die!’
‘Damn the fool! There
he is,’ cried Heathcliff, sinking back into his
seat. ’Hush, my darling! Hush, hush,
Catherine! I’ll stay. If he shot
me so, I’d expire with a blessing on my lips.’
And there they were fast again.
I heard my master mounting the stairs the
cold sweat ran from my forehead: I was horrified.
‘Are you going to listen to
her ravings?’ I said, passionately. ’She
does not know what she says. Will you ruin her,
because she has not wit to help herself? Get
up! You could be free instantly. That is
the most diabolical deed that ever you did.
We are all done for master, mistress, and
I wrung my hands, and cried out; and
Mr. Linton hastened his step at the noise. In
the midst of my agitation, I was sincerely glad to
observe that Catherine’s arms had fallen relaxed,
and her head hung down.
‘She’s fainted, or dead,’
I thought: ’so much the better. Far
better that she should be dead, than lingering a burden
and a misery-maker to all about her.’
Edgar sprang to his unbidden guest,
blanched with astonishment and rage. What he
meant to do I cannot tell; however, the other stopped
all demonstrations, at once, by placing the lifeless-looking
form in his arms.
‘Look there!’ he said.
’Unless you be a fiend, help her first then
you shall speak to me!’
He walked into the parlour, and sat
down. Mr. Linton summoned me, and with great
difficulty, and after resorting to many means, we managed
to restore her to sensation; but she was all bewildered;
she sighed, and moaned, and knew nobody. Edgar,
in his anxiety for her, forgot her hated friend.
I did not. I went, at the earliest opportunity,
and besought him to depart; affirming that Catherine
was better, and he should hear from me in the morning
how she passed the night.
‘I shall not refuse to go out
of doors,’ he answered; ’but I shall stay
in the garden: and, Nelly, mind you keep your
word to-morrow. I shall be under those larch-trees.
Mind! or I pay another visit, whether Linton be in
He sent a rapid glance through the
half-open door of the chamber, and, ascertaining that
what I stated was apparently true, delivered the house
of his luckless presence.