ON the morning of a fine June
day my first bonny little nursling,
and the last of 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 an
hour too soon across the meadow
and up the lane, calling me as
'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 these
many months. I heard him tell
Mr. Hindley: and now she has
nothing to keep her, and she'll
be dead before winter. You must
come home directly. You're to
nurse it, Nelly: to feed it with
sugar and milk, and take care
of it day and night. I wish I
were you, because it will be
all yours when there is no missis!'
'But is she very ill?' I asked,
flinging down my rake and tying
'I guess she
is; yet she looks bravely,'
replied the girl, 'and
she talks as if 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 get better 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 just began
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 must tell you, the winter
will probably finish her. Don't
take on, and fret about it too
much: it can't be helped. And
besides, you should have known
better than to choose such a
rush of a lass!"'
'And what did the master answer?'
'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 for
Hindley's sake. He had room in
his heart only for two idols
- his wife and himself: he doted
on both, and adored one, and
I couldn't conceive how he would
bear the loss.
When we got to Wuthering Heights,
there he stood at the front door;
and, as I passed 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'll be perfectly well
by this time next week. Are you
going up-stairs? will you tell
her that I'll come, if she'll
promise not to talk. I left her
because she would not hold her
tongue; and she must - tell her
Mr. Kenneth says she must be
I delivered this message to
Mrs. Earnshaw; she seemed in
flighty spirits, and replied
merrily, 'I hardly spoke a word,
Ellen, and there he has gone
out twice, crying. Well, say
I promise I won't speak: but
that does not bind me not 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 health improved
every day. When Kenneth warned
him that his medicines were useless
at that stage of the malady,
and he needn't put him to further
expense by attending her, he
retorted, 'I know you need not
- she's well - she does not want
any more attendance from you!
She never was in a consumption.
It was a fever; and it is gone:
her pulse is as slow as mine
now, and her cheek as cool.'
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
be able to get up to-morrow,
a fit of coughing took her -
a very slight one - he raised
her in his arms; she put her
two hands about his neck, her
face changed, 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 that kind that will not
lament. He neither wept nor prayed;
he cursed and defied: execrated
God and man, and gave himself
up to reckless dissipation. The
servants could not bear his tyrannical
and evil conduct long: Joseph
and I were the only two that
would stay. I had not the heart
to leave my charge; and besides,
you know, I had been his foster-sister,
and excused his behaviour more
readily than a stranger would.
Joseph remained to hector over
tenants and labourers; and because
it was his vocation to be where
he had plenty of wickedness to
The master's bad ways and bad
companions formed a pretty example
for Catherine and Heathcliff.
His treatment of the latter was
enough to make a fiend of a saint.
And, truly, it appeared as if
the lad WERE possessed of something
diabolical at that period. He
delighted to witness Hindley
degrading himself past redemption;
and became daily more notable
for savage sullenness and ferocity.
I could not half tell what an
infernal house we had. The curate
dropped calling, and nobody decent
came near us, at last; unless
Edgar Linton's visits to Miss
Cathy might be an exception.
At fifteen she was the queen
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 I vexed
her frequently by trying to bring
down her arrogance: she never
took an aversion to me, though.
She had a wondrous constancy
to old attachments: even Heathcliff
kept his hold on her affections
unalterably; and young Linton,
with all his superiority, found
it difficult to make an equally
deep impression. He was my late
master: that is his portrait
over the fireplace. It used to
hang on one side, and his wife's
on the other; but hers has been
removed, or else you might see
something of what she was. Can
you make that out?
Mrs. Dean raised the candle,
and I discerned a soft-featured
face, exceedingly resembling
the young lady at the Heights,
but more pensive and amiable
in expression. It formed a sweet
picture. The long light hair
curled slightly on the 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 such an individual.
I marvelled much how he, with
a mind to correspond with his
person, could fancy my idea of
'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 his everyday 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 in their company,
and had the sense to be ashamed
of being rude where she experienced
such invariable courtesy, she
imposed unwittingly on the old
lady and gentleman by her ingenious
cordiality; gained the admiration
of Isabella, and the heart and
soul of her brother: acquisitions
that flattered her from the first
- for she was full of ambition
- and led her to adopt a double
character without exactly intending
to deceive any one. In the place
where she heard 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
to practise politeness that would
only be laughed at, and restrain
an unruly nature when it would
bring her neither credit nor
Mr. Edgar seldom mustered courage
to visit Wuthering Heights openly.
He had a terror of Earnshaw's
reputation, and shrunk from encountering
him; and yet he was always received
with our best attempts at civility:
the master himself avoided 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 to Catherine; she
was not artful, never played
the coquette, and had evidently
an objection to her two friends
meeting at all; for when Heathcliff
expressed contempt of Linton
in his presence, she could not
half coincide, as she did in
his absence; and when Linton
evinced disgust and antipathy
to Heathcliff, she dared not
treat his sentiments with indifference,
as if depreciation of her playmate
were of scarcely any consequence
to her. I've had many a laugh
at her perplexities and untold
troubles, which she vainly strove
to hide from my mockery. That
sounds ill-natured: but she was
so proud it became really impossible
to pity her distresses, till
she should be chastened into
more humility. 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 give himself a holiday
on the strength of it. He had
reached the age of sixteen then,
I think, and without having bad
features, or being deficient
in intellect, he contrived to
convey an impression of inward
and outward repulsiveness that
his present aspect retains no
traces of. In the first place,
he had by that time lost the
benefit of his early education:
continual hard work, begun soon
and concluded late, had extinguished
any curiosity he once 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 old Mr. Earnshaw, was faded
away. He struggled long to keep
up an equality with Catherine
in her studies, and yielded with
poignant though silent regret:
but he yielded completely; and
there was no prevailing on him
to take a step in the way of
moving upward, when he found
he must, necessarily, sink beneath
his former level. Then personal
appearance sympathised with mental
deterioration: he acquired a
slouching gait and ignoble look;
his naturally reserved disposition
was exaggerated into an almost
idiotic excess of unsociable
moroseness; and he took a grim
pleasure, apparently, in exciting
the aversion rather than the
esteem of his few acquaintance.
Catherine and he were constant
companions still at his seasons
of respite from labour; but he
had ceased to express his fondness
for her in words, and recoiled
with angry suspicion from her
girlish caresses, as if conscious
there could be no gratification
in lavishing such marks of affection
on him. On the before-named occasion
he came into the house to announce
his intention of doing nothing,
while I was assisting Miss Cathy
to arrange her dress: she had
not reckoned on his taking it
into his head to be idle; and
imagining she would have the
whole place to herself, she managed,
by some means, to inform Mr.
Edgar of her brother's absence,
and was then preparing to receive
'Cathy, are you busy this afternoon?'
asked Heathcliff. 'Are you going
'No, it is raining,' she answered.
'Why have you that silk frock
on, then?' he said. 'Nobody coming
here, I hope?'
'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
'Oh, but Joseph will tell,'
she suggested; 'you'd better
'Joseph is loading lime on
the further side of Penistone
Crags; it will take him till
dark, and he'll never know.'
So, saying, he lounged to the
fire, and sat down. Catherine
reflected an instant, with knitted
brows - she found it needful
to smooth the way for an intrusion.
'Isabella and Edgar Linton talked
of calling this afternoon,' she
said, at the conclusion of a
minute's silence. 'As it rains,
I hardly expect them; but they
may come, and if they do, you
run the risk of being scolded
for no good.'
'Order Ellen to say you are
engaged, Cathy,' he persisted;
'don't turn me out for those
pitiful, silly friends of yours!
I'm on the point, sometimes,
of complaining 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.
What are you on the point of
complaining about, Heathcliff?'
'Nothing - only look at the
almanack on that wall;' he pointed
to a framed sheet hanging near
the window, and continued, 'The
crosses are for the evenings
you have spent with the Lintons,
the dots for those spent with
me. Do you see? I've marked every
'Yes - very foolish: as if
I took notice!' replied Catherine,
in a peevish tone. 'And where
is the sense of that?'
'To show that I DO take notice,'
'And should I always be sitting
with you?' she demanded, growing
more irritated. 'What good do
I get? What do you talk about?
You might be dumb, or a 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 my company, Cathy!'
exclaimed Heathcliff, in much
'It's no company at all, when
people know nothing and say nothing,'
Her companion rose up, but
he hadn't time to express his
feelings further, for a horse's
feet were heard on the flags,
and having knocked gently, young
Linton entered, his face brilliant
with delight at the unexpected
summon she had received. Doubtless
Catherine marked the difference
between her friends, as one came
in and the other went out. The
contrast resembled what you see
in exchanging a bleak, hilly,
coal country for a beautiful
fertile valley; and his voice
and greeting were as opposite
as his aspect. He had a sweet,
low manner of speaking, and pronounced
his words as you do: that's less
gruff than we talk here, and
'I'm not come too soon, am
I?' he said, casting a look at
me: I had begun to wipe 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 a third party in any
private visits Linton chose to
She stepped behind me and whispered
crossly, 'Take yourself and your
dusters off; when company are
in the house, servants don't
commence scouring and cleaning
in the room where they are!'
'It's a good opportunity, now
that master is away,' I answered
aloud: 'he hates me to be fidgeting
over these things in his presence.
I'm sure Mr. Edgar will excuse
'I hate you to be fidgeting
in MY presence,' exclaimed the
young lady imperiously, not allowing
her guest time to speak: she
had failed to recover her equanimity
since the little dispute with
'I'm sorry for it, Miss Catherine,'
was my response; and I proceeded
assiduously with my occupation.
She, supposing Edgar could
not see her, snatched the cloth
from my hand, and pinched me,
with a prolonged wrench, very
spitefully on the arm. I've said
I did 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 screamed out,
'Oh, Miss, that's a nasty trick!
You have no right to nip me,
and I'm not going to bear it.'
'I didn't touch you, you lying
creature!' cried she, her fingers
tingling to repeat the act, and
her ears red with rage. She never
had power to conceal her passion,
it always set her whole complexion
in a blaze.
'What's that, then?' I retorted,
showing a decided purple witness
to refute her.
She stamped her foot, wavered
a moment, and then, irresistibly
impelled by the naughty spirit
within her, slapped me on the
cheek: a stinging blow that filled
both eyes with water.
'Catherine, love! Catherine!'
interposed Linton, greatly shocked
at the double fault of falsehood
and violence which his idol had
'Leave the room, Ellen!' she
repeated, trembling all over.
Little Hareton, who followed
me everywhere, and was sitting
near me on the floor, at seeing
my tears commenced crying himself,
and sobbed out complaints against
'wicked aunt Cathy,' which drew
her fury on to his unlucky head:
she seized his shoulders, and
shook him till the poor child
waxed livid, and Edgar thoughtlessly
laid hold of her hands to deliver
him. In an instant one was wrung
free, and the astonished young
man felt it applied over his
own ear in a way that could not
be mistaken for jest. He drew
back in consternation. I lifted
Hareton in my arms, and walked
off to the kitchen with him,
leaving the door of communication
open, for I was curious to watch
how they would settle their disagreement.
The insulted visitor moved to
the spot where he had laid his
hat, pale and with a quivering
'That's right!' I said to myself.
'Take warning and begone! It's
a kindness to let you have a
glimpse of her genuine disposition.'
'Where are you going?' demanded
Catherine, advancing to the door.
He swerved aside, and attempted
'You must not go!' she exclaimed,
'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 I won'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 here again!'
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 serious earnest. Edgar persevered
in his resolution as far as the
court; there he lingered. 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 to depart as much as
a cat possesses the power to
leave a mouse half killed, or
a bird half eaten. Ah, I thought,
there will be no saving him:
he's doomed, and flies to his
fate! And so it was: he turned
abruptly, hastened into the house
again, shut the door behind him;
and when I went in a while after
to inform them that Earnshaw
had come home rabid drunk, ready
to pull the whole place about
our ears (his ordinary frame
of mind in that condition), I
saw the quarrel had merely effected
a closer intimacy - had broken
the outworks of youthful timidity,
and enabled them to forsake the
disguise of friendship, and confess
Intelligence of Mr. Hindley's
arrival drove Linton speedily
to his horse, and Catherine to
her chamber. I went to hide little
Hareton, and to take the shot
out of the master's fowling-piece,
which he was fond of playing
with in his insane excitement,
to the hazard of the lives of
any who provoked, or even attracted
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