SOMETIMES, while meditating
on these things in solitude,
I've got up in a sudden terror,
and put on my bonnet to go see
how all was at the farm. I've
persuaded my conscience that
it was a duty to warn him how
people talked regarding his ways;
and then I've recollected his
confirmed bad habits, and, hopeless
of benefiting him, have flinched
from re-entering the dismal house,
doubting if I could bear to be
taken at my word.
One time I passed the old gate,
going out of my way, on a journey
to Gimmerton. It was about the
period that my narrative has
reached: a bright frosty afternoon;
the ground bare, and the road
hard and dry. I came to a stone
where the highway branches off
on to the moor at your left hand;
a rough sand-pillar, with the
letters W. H. cut on its north
side, on the east, G., and on
the south-west, T. G. It serves
as a guide-post to the Grange,
the Heights, and village. The
sun shone yellow on its grey
head, reminding me of summer;
and I cannot say why, but all
at once a gush of child's sensations
flowed into my heart. Hindley
and I held it a favourite spot
twenty years before. I gazed
long at the weather-worn block;
and, stooping down, perceived
a hole near the bottom still
full of snail-shells and pebbles,
which we were fond of storing
there with more perishable things;
and, as fresh as reality, it
appeared that I beheld my early
playmate seated on the withered
turf: his dark, square head bent
forward, and his little hand
scooping out the earth with a
piece of slate. 'Poor Hindley!'
I exclaimed, involuntarily. I
started: my bodily eye was cheated
into a momentary belief that
the child lifted its face and
stared straight into mine! It
vanished in a twinkling; but
immediately I felt an irresistible
yearning to be at the Heights.
Superstition urged me to comply
with this impulse: supposing
he should be dead! I thought
- or should die soon! - supposing
it were a sign of death! The
nearer I got to the house the
more agitated I grew; and on
catching sight of it I trembled
in every limb. The apparition
had outstripped me: it stood
looking through the gate. That
was my first idea on observing
an elf-locked, brown-eyed boy
setting his ruddy countenance
against the bars. Further reflection
suggested this must be Hareton,
MY Hareton, not altered greatly
since I left him, ten months
'God bless thee, darling!'
I cried, forgetting instantaneously
my foolish fears. 'Hareton, it's
Nelly! Nelly, thy nurse.'
He retreated out of arm's length,
and picked up a large flint.
'I am come to see thy father,
Hareton,' I added, guessing from
the action that Nelly, if she
lived in his memory at all, was
not recognised as one with me.
He raised his missile to hurl
it; I commenced a soothing speech,
but could not stay his hand:
the stone struck my bonnet; and
then ensued, from the stammering
lips of the little fellow, a
string of curses, which, whether
he comprehended them or not,
were delivered with practised
emphasis, and distorted his baby
features into a shocking expression
of malignity. You may be certain
this grieved more than angered
me. Fit to cry, I took an orange
from my pocket, and offered it
to propitiate him. He hesitated,
and then snatched it from my
hold; as if he fancied I only
intended to tempt and disappoint
him. I showed another, keeping
it out of his reach.
'Who has taught you those fine
words, my bairn?' I inquired.
'Damn the curate, and thee!
Gie me that,' he replied.
'Tell us where you got your
lessons, and you shall have it,'
said I. 'Who's your master?'
'Devil daddy,' was his answer.
'And what do you learn from
daddy?' I continued.
He jumped at the fruit; I raised
it higher. 'What does he teach
you?' I asked.
'Naught,' said he, 'but to
keep out of his gait. Daddy cannot
bide me, because I swear at him.'
'Ah! and the devil teaches
you to swear at daddy?' I observed.
'Ay - nay,' he drawled.
'I asked if he liked Mr. Heathcliff.'
'Ay!' he answered again.
Desiring to have his reasons
for liking him, I could only
gather the sentences - 'I known't:
he pays dad back what he gies
to me - he curses daddy for cursing
me. He says I mun do as I will.'
'And the curate does not teach
you to read and write, then?'
'No, I was told the curate
should have his - teeth dashed
down his - throat, if he stepped
over the threshold - Heathcliff
had promised that!'
I put the orange in his hand,
and bade him tell his father
that a woman called Nelly Dean
was waiting to speak with him,
by the garden gate. He went up
the walk, and entered the house;
but, instead of Hindley, Heathcliff
appeared on the door-stones;
and I turned directly and ran
down the road as hard as ever
I could race, making no halt
till I gained the guide-post,
and feeling as scared as if I
had raised a goblin. This is
not much connected with Miss
Isabella's affair: except that
it urged me to resolve further
on mounting vigilant guard, and
doing my utmost to cheek the
spread of such bad influence
at the Grange: even though I
should wake a domestic storm,
by thwarting Mrs. Linton's pleasure.
The next time Heathcliff came
my young lady chanced to be feeding
some pigeons in the court. She
had never spoken a word to her
sister-in-law for three days;
but she had likewise dropped
her fretful complaining, and
we found it a great comfort.
Heathcliff had not the habit
of bestowing a single unnecessary
civility on Miss Linton, I knew.
Now, as soon as he beheld her,
his first precaution was to take
a sweeping survey of the house-front.
I was standing by the kitchen-window,
but I drew out of sight. He then
stepped across the pavement to
her, and said something: she
seemed embarrassed, and desirous
of getting away; to prevent it,
he laid his hand on her arm.
She averted her face: he apparently
put some question which she had
no mind to answer. There was
another rapid glance at the house,
and supposing himself unseen,
the scoundrel had the impudence
to embrace her.
'Judas! Traitor!' I ejaculated.
'You are a hypocrite, too, are
you? A deliberate deceiver.'
'Who is, Nelly?' said Catherine's
voice at my elbow: I had been
over-intent on watching the pair
outside to mark her entrance.
'Your worthless friend!' I
answered, warmly: 'the sneaking
rascal yonder. Ah, he has caught
a glimpse of us - he is coming
in! I wonder will he have the
heart to find a plausible excuse
for making love to Miss, when
he told you he hated her?'
Mrs. Linton saw Isabella tear
herself free, and run into the
garden; and a minute after, Heathcliff
opened the door. I couldn't withhold
giving some loose to my indignation;
but Catherine angrily insisted
on silence, and threatened to
order me out of the kitchen,
if I dared to be so presumptuous
as to put in my insolent tongue.
'To hear you, people might
think you were the mistress!'
she cried. 'You want setting
down in your right place! Heathcliff,
what are you about, raising this
stir? I said you must let Isabella
alone! - I beg you will, unless
you are tired of being received
here, and wish Linton to draw
the bolts against you!'
'God forbid that he should
try!' answered the black villain.
I detested him just then. 'God
keep him meek and patient! Every
day I grow madder after sending
him to heaven!'
'Hush!' said Catherine, shutting
the inner door! 'Don't vex me.
Why have you disregarded my request?
Did she come across you on purpose?'
'What is it to you?' he growled.
'I have a right to kiss her,
if she chooses; and you have
no right to object. I am not
YOUR husband: YOU needn't be
jealous of me!'
'I'm not jealous of you,' replied
the mistress; 'I'm jealous for
you. Clear your face: you sha'n't
scowl at me! If you like Isabella,
you shall marry her. But do you
like her? Tell the truth, Heathcliff!
There, you won't answer. I'm
certain you don't.'
'And would Mr. Linton approve
of his sister marrying that man?'
'Mr. Linton should approve,'
returned my lady, decisively.
'He might spare himself the
trouble,' said Heathcliff: 'I
could do as well without his
approbation. And as to you, Catherine,
I have a mind to speak a few
words now, while we are at it.
I want you to be aware that I
KNOW you have treated me infernally
- infernally! Do you hear? And
if you flatter yourself that
I don't perceive it, you are
a fool; and if you think I can
be consoled by sweet words, you
are an idiot: and if you fancy
I'll suffer unrevenged, I'll
convince you of the contrary,
in a very little while! Meantime,
thank you for telling me your
sister-in-law's secret: I swear
I'll make the most of it. And
stand you aside!'
'What new phase of his character
is this?' exclaimed Mrs. Linton,
in amazement. 'I've treated you
infernally - and you'll take
your revenge! How will you take
it, ungrateful brute? How have
I treated you infernally?'
'I seek no revenge on you,'
replied Heathcliff, less vehemently.
'That's not the plan. The tyrant
grinds down his slaves and they
don't turn against him; they
crush those beneath them. You
are welcome to torture me to
death for your amusement, only
allow me to amuse myself a little
in the same style, and refrain
from insult as much as you are
able. Having levelled my palace,
don't erect a hovel and complacently
admire your own charity in giving
me that for a home. If I imagined
you really wished me to marry
Isabel, I'd cut my throat!'
'Oh, the evil is that I am
NOT jealous, is it?' cried Catherine.
'Well, I won't repeat my offer
of a wife: it is as bad as offering
Satan a lost soul. Your bliss
lies, like his, in inflicting
misery. You prove it. Edgar is
restored from the ill-temper
he gave way to at your coming;
I begin to be secure and tranquil;
and you, restless to know us
at peace, appear resolved on
exciting a quarrel. Quarrel with
Edgar, if you please, Heathcliff,
and deceive his sister: you'll
hit on exactly the most efficient
method of revenging yourself
The conversation ceased. Mrs.
Linton sat down by the fire,
flushed and gloomy. The spirit
which served her was growing
intractable: she could neither
lay nor control it. He stood
on the hearth with folded arms,
brooding on his evil thoughts;
and in this position I left them
to seek the master, who was wondering
what kept Catherine below so
'Ellen,' said he, when I entered,
'have you seen your mistress?'
'Yes; she's in the kitchen,
sir,' I answered. 'She's sadly
put out by Mr. Heathcliff's behaviour:
and, indeed, I do think it's
time to arrange his visits on
another footing. There's harm
in being too soft, and now it's
come to this - .' And I related
the scene in the court, and,
as near as I dared, the whole
subsequent dispute. I fancied
it could not be very prejudicial
to Mrs. Linton; unless she made
it so afterwards, by assuming
the defensive for her guest.
Edgar Linton had difficulty in
hearing me to the close. His
first words revealed that he
did not clear his wife of blame.
'This is insufferable!' he
exclaimed. 'It is disgraceful
that she should own him for a
friend, and force his company
on me! Call me two men out of
the hall, Ellen. Catherine shall
linger no longer to argue with
the low ruffian - I have humoured
He descended, and bidding the
servants wait in the passage,
went, followed by me, to the
kitchen. Its occupants had recommenced
their angry discussion: Mrs.
Linton, at least, was scolding
with renewed vigour; Heathcliff
had moved to the window, and
hung his head, somewhat cowed
by her violent rating apparently.
He saw the master first, and
made a hasty motion that she
should be silent; which she obeyed,
abruptly, on discovering the
reason of his intimation.
'How is this?' said Linton,
addressing her; 'what notion
of propriety must you have to
remain here, after the language
which has been held to you by
that blackguard? I suppose, because
it is his ordinary talk you think
nothing of it: you are habituated
to his baseness, and, perhaps,
imagine I can get used to it
'Have you been listening at
the door, Edgar?' asked the mistress,
in a tone particularly calculated
to provoke her husband, implying
both carelessness and contempt
of his irritation. Heathcliff,
who had raised his eyes at the
former speech, gave a sneering
laugh at the latter; on purpose,
it seemed, to draw Mr. Linton's
attention to him. He succeeded;
but Edgar did not mean to entertain
him with any high flights of
'I've been so far forbearing
with you, sir,' he said quietly;
'not that I was ignorant of your
miserable, degraded character,
but I felt you were only partly
responsible for that; and Catherine
wishing to keep up your acquaintance,
I acquiesced - foolishly. Your
presence is a moral poison that
would contaminate the most virtuous:
for that cause, and to prevent
worse consequences, I shall deny
you hereafter admission into
this house, and give notice now
that I require your instant departure.
Three minutes' delay will render
it involuntary and ignominious.
Heathcliff measured the height
and breadth of the speaker with
an eye full of derision.
'Cathy, this lamb of yours
threatens like a bull!' he said.
'It is in danger of splitting
its skull against my knuckles.
By God! Mr. Linton, I'm mortally
sorry that you are not worth
My master glanced towards the
passage, and signed me to fetch
the men: he had no intention
of hazarding a personal encounter.
I obeyed the hint; but Mrs. Linton,
suspecting something, followed;
and when I attempted to call
them, she pulled me back, slammed
the door to, and locked it.
'Fair means!' she said, in
answer to her husband's look
of angry surprise. 'If you have
not courage to attack him, make
an apology, or allow yourself
to be beaten. It will correct
you of feigning more valour than
you possess. No, I'll swallow
the key before you shall get
it! I'm delightfully rewarded
for my kindness to each! After
constant indulgence of one's
weak nature, and the other's
bad one, I earn for thanks two
samples of blind ingratitude,
stupid to absurdity! Edgar, I
was defending you and yours;
and I wish Heathcliff may flog
you sick, for daring to think
an evil thought of me!'
It did not need the medium
of a flogging to produce that
effect on the master. He tried
to wrest the key from Catherine's
grasp, and for safety she flung
it into the hottest part of the
fire; whereupon Mr. Edgar was
taken with a nervous trembling,
and his countenance grew deadly
pale. For his life he could not
avert that excess of emotion:
mingled anguish and humiliation
overcame him completely. He leant
on the back of a chair, and covered
'Oh, heavens! In old days this
would win you knighthood!' exclaimed
Mrs. Linton. 'We are vanquished!
we are vanquished! Heathcliff
would as soon lift a finger at
you as the king would march his
army against a colony of mice.
Cheer up! you sha'n't be hurt!
Your type is not a lamb, it's
a sucking leveret.'
'I wish you joy of the milk-blooded
coward, Cathy!' said her friend.
'I compliment you on your taste.
And that is the slavering, shivering
thing you preferred to me! I
would not strike him with my
fist, but I'd kick him with my
foot, and experience considerable
satisfaction. Is he weeping,
or is he going to faint for fear?'
The fellow approached and gave
the chair on which Linton rested
a push. He'd better have kept
his distance: my master quickly
sprang erect, and struck him
full on the throat a blow that
would have levelled a slighter
man. It took his breath for a
minute; and while he choked,
Mr. Linton walked out by the
back door into the yard, and
from thence to the front entrance.
'There! you've done with coming
here,' cried Catherine. 'Get
away, now; he'll return with
a brace of pistols and half-a-dozen
assistants. If he did overhear
us, of course he'd never forgive
you. You've played me an ill
turn, Heathcliff! But go - make
haste! I'd rather see Edgar at
bay than you.'
'Do you suppose I'm going with
that blow burning in my gullet?'
he thundered. 'By hell, no! I'll
crush his ribs in like a rotten
hazel-nut before I cross the
threshold! If I don't floor him
now, I shall murder him some
time; so, as you value his existence,
let me get at him!'
'He is not coming,' I interposed,
framing a bit of a lie. 'There's
the coachman and the two gardeners;
you'll surely not wait to be
thrust into the road by them!
Each has a bludgeon; and master
will, very likely, be watching
from the parlour-windows to see
that they fulfil his orders.'
The gardeners and coachman
were there: but Linton was with
them. They had already entered
the court. Heathcliff, on the
second thoughts, resolved to
avoid a struggle against three
underlings: he seized the poker,
smashed the lock from the inner
door, and made his escape as
they tramped in.
Mrs. Linton, who was very much
excited, bade me accompany her
up- stairs. She did not know
my share in contributing to the
disturbance, and I was anxious
to keep her in ignorance.
'I'm nearly distracted, Nelly!'
she exclaimed, throwing herself
on the sofa. 'A thousand smiths'
hammers are beating in my head!
Tell Isabella to shun me; this
uproar is owing to her; and should
she or any one else aggravate
my anger at present, I shall
get wild. And, Nelly, say to
Edgar, if you see him again to-night,
that I'm in danger of being seriously
ill. I wish it may prove true.
He has startled and distressed
me shockingly! I want to frighten
him. Besides, he might come and
begin a string of abuse or complainings;
I'm certain I should recriminate,
and God knows where we should
end! Will you do so, my good
Nelly? You are aware that I am
no way blamable in this matter.
What possessed him to turn listener?
Heathcliff's talk was outrageous,
after you left us; but I could
soon have diverted him from Isabella,
and the rest meant nothing. Now
all is dashed wrong; by the fool's
craving to hear evil of self,
that haunts some people like
a demon! Had Edgar never gathered
our conversation, he would never
have been the worse for it. Really,
when he opened on me in that
unreasonable tone of displeasure
after I had scolded Heathcliff
till I was hoarse for him, I
did not care hardly what they
did to each other; especially
as I felt that, however the scene
closed, we should all be driven
asunder for nobody knows how
long! Well, if I cannot keep
Heathcliff for my friend - if
Edgar will be mean and jealous,
I'll try to break their hearts
by breaking my own. That will
be a prompt way of finishing
all, when I am pushed to extremity!
But it's a deed to be reserved
for a forlorn hope; I'd not take
Linton by surprise with it. To
this point he has been discreet
in dreading to provoke me; you
must represent the peril of quitting
that policy, and remind him of
my passionate temper, verging,
when kindled, on frenzy. I wish
you could dismiss that apathy
out of that countenance, and
look rather more anxious about
The stolidity with which I
received these instructions was,
no doubt, rather exasperating:
for they were delivered in perfect
sincerity; but I believed a person
who could plan the turning of
her fits of passion to account,
beforehand, might, by exerting
her will, manage to control herself
tolerably, even while under their
influence; and I did not wish
to 'frighten' her husband, as
she said, and multiply his annoyances
for the purpose of serving her
selfishness. Therefore I said
nothing when I met the master
coming towards the parlour; but
I took the liberty of turning
back to listen whether they would
resume their quarrel together.
He began to speak first.
'Remain where you are, Catherine,'
he said; without any anger in
his voice, but with much sorrowful
despondency. 'I shall not stay.
I am neither come to wrangle
nor be reconciled; but I wish
just to learn whether, after
this evening's events, you intend
to continue your intimacy with
'Oh, for mercy's sake,' interrupted
the mistress, stamping her foot,
'for mercy's sake, let us hear
no more of it now! Your cold
blood cannot be worked into a
fever: your veins are full of
ice- water; but mine are boiling,
and the sight of such chillness
makes them dance.'
'To get rid of me, answer my
question,' persevered Mr. Linton.
'You must answer it; and that
violence does not alarm me. I
have found that you can be as
stoical as anyone, when you please.
Will you give up Heathcliff hereafter,
or will you give up me? It is
impossible for you to be MY friend
and HIS at the same time; and
I absolutely REQUIRE to know
which you choose.'
'I require to be let alone?'
exclaimed Catherine, furiously.
'I demand it! Don't you see I
can scarcely stand? Edgar, you
- you leave me!'
She rang the bell till it broke
with a twang; I entered leisurely.
It was enough to try the temper
of a saint, such senseless, wicked
rages! There she lay dashing
her head against the arm of the
sofa, and grinding her teeth,
so that you might fancy she would
crash them to splinters! Mr.
Linton stood looking at her in
sudden compunction and fear.
He told me to fetch some water.
She had no breath for speaking.
I brought a glass full; and as
she would not drink, I sprinkled
it on her face. In a few seconds
she stretched herself out stiff,
and turned up her eyes, while
her cheeks, at once blanched
and livid, assumed the aspect
of death. Linton looked terrified.
'There is nothing in the world
the matter,' I whispered. I did
not want him to yield, though
I could not help being afraid
in my heart.
'She has blood on her lips!'
he said, shuddering.
'Never mind!' I answered, tartly.
And I told him how she had resolved,
previous to his coming, on exhibiting
a fit of frenzy. I incautiously
gave the account aloud, and she
heard me; for she started up
- her hair flying over her shoulders,
her eyes flashing, the muscles
of her neck and arms standing
out preternaturally. I made up
my mind for broken bones, at
least; but she only glared about
her for an instant, and then
rushed from the room. The master
directed me to follow; I did,
to her chamber-door: she hindered
me from going further by securing
it against me.
As she never offered to descend
to breakfast next morning, I
went to ask whether she would
have some carried up. 'No!' she
replied, peremptorily. The same
question was repeated at dinner
and tea; and again on the morrow
after, and received the same
answer. Mr. Linton, on his part,
spent his time in the library,
and did not inquire concerning
his wife's occupations. Isabella
and he had had an hour's interview,
during which he tried to elicit
from her some sentiment of proper
horror for Heathcliff's advances:
but he could make nothing of
her evasive replies, and was
obliged to close the examination
unsatisfactorily; adding, however,
a solemn warning, that if she
were so insane as to encourage
that worthless suitor, it would
dissolve all bonds of relationship
between herself and him.