While Miss Linton moped about the park and garden, always silent, and
almost always in tears; and her brother shut himself up among books that
he never opened--wearying, I guessed, with a continual vague expectation
that Catherine, repenting her conduct, would come of her own accord to
ask pardon, and seek a reconciliation--and _she_ fasted pertinaciously,
under the idea, probably, that at every meal Edgar was ready to choke for
her absence, and pride alone held him from running to cast himself at her
feet; I went about my household duties, convinced that the Grange had but
one sensible soul in its walls, and that lodged in my body. I wasted no
condolences on Miss, nor any expostulations on my mistress; nor did I pay
much attention to the sighs of my master, who yearned to hear his lady's
name, since he might not hear her voice. I determined they should come
about as they pleased for me; and though it was a tiresomely slow
process, I began to rejoice at length in a faint dawn of its progress: as
I thought at first.
Mrs. Linton, on the third day, unbarred her door, and having finished the
water in her pitcher and decanter, desired a renewed supply, and a basin
of gruel, for she believed she was dying. That I set down as a speech
meant for Edgar's ears; I believed no such thing, so I kept it to myself
and brought her some tea and dry toast. She ate and drank eagerly, and
sank back on her pillow again, clenching her hands and groaning. 'Oh, I
will die,' she exclaimed, 'since no one cares anything about me. I wish
I had not taken that.' Then a good while after I heard her murmur, 'No,
I'll not die--he'd be glad--he does not love me at all--he would never
'Did you want anything, ma'am?' I inquired, still preserving my external
composure, in spite of her ghastly countenance and strange, exaggerated
'What is that apathetic being doing?' she demanded, pushing the thick
entangled locks from her wasted face. 'Has he fallen into a lethargy, or
is he dead?'
'Neither,' replied I; 'if you mean Mr. Linton. He's tolerably well, I
think, though his studies occupy him rather more than they ought: he is
continually among his books, since he has no other society.'
I should not have spoken so if I had known her true condition, but I
could not get rid of the notion that she acted a part of her disorder.
'Among his books!' she cried, confounded. 'And I dying! I on the brink
of the grave! My God! does he know how I'm altered?' continued she,
staring at her reflection in a mirror hanging against the opposite wall.
'Is that Catherine Linton? He imagines me in a pet--in play, perhaps.
Cannot you inform him that it is frightful earnest? Nelly, if it be not
too late, as soon as I learn how he feels, I'll choose between these two:
either to starve at once--that would be no punishment unless he had a
heart--or to recover, and leave the country. Are you speaking the truth
about him now? Take care. Is he actually so utterly indifferent for my
'Why, ma'am,' I answered, 'the master has no idea of your being deranged;
and of course he does not fear that you will let yourself die of hunger.'
'You think not? Cannot you tell him I will?' she returned. 'Persuade
him! speak of your own mind: say you are certain I will!'
'No, you forget, Mrs. Linton,' I suggested, 'that you have eaten some
food with a relish this evening, and to-morrow you will perceive its good
'If I were only sure it would kill him,' she interrupted, 'I'd kill
myself directly! These three awful nights I've never closed my lids--and
oh, I've been tormented! I've been haunted, Nelly! But I begin to fancy
you don't like me. How strange! I thought, though everybody hated and
despised each other, they could not avoid loving me. And they have all
turned to enemies in a few hours: they have, I'm positive; the people
here. How dreary to meet death, surrounded by their cold faces!
Isabella, terrified and repelled, afraid to enter the room, it would be
so dreadful to watch Catherine go. And Edgar standing solemnly by to see
it over; then offering prayers of thanks to God for restoring peace to
his house, and going back to his _books_! What in the name of all that
feels has he to do with _books_, when I am dying?'
She could not bear the notion which I had put into her head of Mr.
Linton's philosophical resignation. Tossing about, she increased her
feverish bewilderment to madness, and tore the pillow with her teeth;
then raising herself up all burning, desired that I would open the
window. We were in the middle of winter, the wind blew strong from the
north-east, and I objected. Both the expressions flitting over her face,
and the changes of her moods, began to alarm me terribly; and brought to
my recollection her former illness, and the doctor's injunction that she
should not be crossed. A minute previously she was violent; now,
supported on one arm, and not noticing my refusal to obey her, she seemed
to find childish diversion in pulling the feathers from the rents she had
just made, and ranging them on the sheet according to their different
species: her mind had strayed to other associations.
'That's a turkey's,' she murmured to herself; 'and this is a wild duck's;
and this is a pigeon's. Ah, they put pigeons' feathers in the pillows--no
wonder I couldn't die! Let me take care to throw it on the floor when I
lie down. And here is a moor-cock's; and this--I should know it among a
thousand--it's a lapwing's. Bonny bird; wheeling over our heads in the
middle of the moor. It wanted to get to its nest, for the clouds had
touched the swells, and it felt rain coming. This feather was picked up
from the heath, the bird was not shot: we saw its nest in the winter,
full of little skeletons. Heathcliff set a trap over it, and the old
ones dared not come. I made him promise he'd never shoot a lapwing after
that, and he didn't. Yes, here are more! Did he shoot my lapwings,
Nelly? Are they red, any of them? Let me look.'
'Give over with that baby-work!' I interrupted, dragging the pillow away,
and turning the holes towards the mattress, for she was removing its
contents by handfuls. 'Lie down and shut your eyes: you're wandering.
There's a mess! The down is flying about like snow.'
I went here and there collecting it.
'I see in you, Nelly,' she continued dreamily, 'an aged woman: you have
grey hair and bent shoulders. This bed is the fairy cave under Penistone
crags, and you are gathering elf-bolts to hurt our heifers; pretending,
while I am near, that they are only locks of wool. That's what you'll
come to fifty years hence: I know you are not so now. I'm not wandering:
you're mistaken, or else I should believe you really _were_ that withered
hag, and I should think I _was_ under Penistone Crags; and I'm conscious
it's night, and there are two candles on the table making the black press
shine like jet.'
'The black press? where is that?' I asked. 'You are talking in your
'It's against the wall, as it always is,' she replied. 'It _does_ appear
odd--I see a face in it!'
'There's no press in the room, and never was,' said I, resuming my seat,
and looping up the curtain that I might watch her.
'Don't _you_ see that face?' she inquired, gazing earnestly at the
And say what I could, I was incapable of making her comprehend it to be
her own; so I rose and covered it with a shawl.
'It's behind there still!' she pursued, anxiously. 'And it stirred. Who
is it? I hope it will not come out when you are gone! Oh! Nelly, the
room is haunted! I'm afraid of being alone!'
I took her hand in mine, and bid her be composed; for a succession of
shudders convulsed her frame, and she would keep straining her gaze
towards the glass.
'There's nobody here!' I insisted. 'It was _yourself_, Mrs. Linton: you
knew it a while since.'
'Myself!' she gasped, 'and the clock is striking twelve! It's true,
then! that's dreadful!'
Her fingers clutched the clothes, and gathered them over her eyes. I
attempted to steal to the door with an intention of calling her husband;
but I was summoned back by a piercing shriek--the shawl had dropped from
'Why, what is the matter?' cried I. 'Who is coward now? Wake up! That
is the glass--the mirror, Mrs. Linton; and you see yourself in it, and
there am I too by your side.'
Trembling and bewildered, she held me fast, but the horror gradually
passed from her countenance; its paleness gave place to a glow of shame.
'Oh, dear! I thought I was at home,' she sighed. 'I thought I was lying
in my chamber at Wuthering Heights. Because I'm weak, my brain got
confused, and I screamed unconsciously. Don't say anything; but stay
with me. I dread sleeping: my dreams appal me.'
'A sound sleep would do you good, ma'am,' I answered: 'and I hope this
suffering will prevent your trying starving again.'
'Oh, if I were but in my own bed in the old house!' she went on bitterly,
wringing her hands. 'And that wind sounding in the firs by the lattice.
Do let me feel it--it comes straight down the moor--do let me have one
breath!' To pacify her I held the casement ajar a few seconds. A cold
blast rushed through; I closed it, and returned to my post. She lay
still now, her face bathed in tears. Exhaustion of body had entirely
subdued her spirit: our fiery Catherine was no better than a wailing
'How long is it since I shut myself in here?' she asked, suddenly
'It was Monday evening,' I replied, 'and this is Thursday night, or
rather Friday morning, at present.'
'What! of the same week?' she exclaimed. 'Only that brief time?'
'Long enough to live on nothing but cold water and ill-temper,' observed
'Well, it seems a weary number of hours,' she muttered doubtfully: 'it
must be more. I remember being in the parlour after they had quarrelled,
and Edgar being cruelly provoking, and me running into this room
desperate. As soon as ever I had barred the door, utter blackness
overwhelmed me, and I fell on the floor. I couldn't explain to Edgar how
certain I felt of having a fit, or going raging mad, if he persisted in
teasing me! I had no command of tongue, or brain, and he did not guess
my agony, perhaps: it barely left me sense to try to escape from him and
his voice. Before I recovered sufficiently to see and hear, it began to
be dawn, and, Nelly, I'll tell you what I thought, and what has kept
recurring and recurring till I feared for my reason. I thought as I lay
there, with my head against that table leg, and my eyes dimly discerning
the grey square of the window, that I was enclosed in the oak-panelled
bed at home; and my heart ached with some great grief which, just waking,
I could not recollect. I pondered, and worried myself to discover what
it could be, and, most strangely, the whole last seven years of my life
grew a blank! I did not recall that they had been at all. I was a
child; my father was just buried, and my misery arose from the separation
that Hindley had ordered between me and Heathcliff. I was laid alone,
for the first time; and, rousing from a dismal doze after a night of
weeping, I lifted my hand to push the panels aside: it struck the table-
top! I swept it along the carpet, and then memory burst in: my late
anguish was swallowed in a paroxysm of despair. I cannot say why I felt
so wildly wretched: it must have been temporary derangement; for there is
scarcely cause. But, supposing at twelve years old I had been wrenched
from the Heights, and every early association, and my all in all, as
Heathcliff was at that time, and been converted at a stroke into Mrs.
Linton, the lady of Thrushcross Grange, and the wife of a stranger: an
exile, and outcast, thenceforth, from what had been my world. You may
fancy a glimpse of the abyss where I grovelled! Shake your head as you
will, Nelly, you have helped to unsettle me! You should have spoken to
Edgar, indeed you should, and compelled him to leave me quiet! Oh, I'm
burning! I wish I were out of doors! I wish I were a girl again, half
savage and hardy, and free; and laughing at injuries, not maddening under
them! Why am I so changed? why does my blood rush into a hell of tumult
at a few words? I'm sure I should be myself were I once among the
heather on those hills. Open the window again wide: fasten it open!
Quick, why don't you move?'
'Because I won't give you your death of cold,' I answered.
'You won't give me a chance of life, you mean,' she said, sullenly.
'However, I'm not helpless yet; I'll open it myself.'
And sliding from the bed before I could hinder her, she crossed the room,
walking very uncertainly, threw it back, and bent out, careless of the
frosty air that cut about her shoulders as keen as a knife. I entreated,
and finally attempted to force her to retire. But I soon found her
delirious strength much surpassed mine (she was delirious, I became
convinced by her subsequent actions and ravings). There was no moon, and
everything beneath lay in misty darkness: not a light gleamed from any
house, far or near all had been extinguished long ago: and those at
Wuthering Heights were never visible--still she asserted she caught their
'Look!' she cried eagerly, 'that's my room with the candle in it, and the
trees swaying before it; and the other candle is in Joseph's garret.
Joseph sits up late, doesn't he? He's waiting till I come home that he
may lock the gate. Well, he'll wait a while yet. It's a rough journey,
and a sad heart to travel it; and we must pass by Gimmerton Kirk to go
that journey! We've braved its ghosts often together, and dared each
other to stand among the graves and ask them to come. But, Heathcliff,
if I dare you now, will you venture? If you do, I'll keep you. I'll not
lie there by myself: they may bury me twelve feet deep, and throw the
church down over me, but I won't rest till you are with me. I never
She paused, and resumed with a strange smile. 'He's considering--he'd
rather I'd come to him! Find a way, then! not through that kirkyard. You
are slow! Be content, you always followed me!'
Perceiving it vain to argue against her insanity, I was planning how I
could reach something to wrap about her, without quitting my hold of
herself (for I could not trust her alone by the gaping lattice), when, to
my consternation, I heard the rattle of the door-handle, and Mr. Linton
entered. He had only then come from the library; and, in passing through
the lobby, had noticed our talking and been attracted by curiosity, or
fear, to examine what it signified, at that late hour.
'Oh, sir!' I cried, checking the exclamation risen to his lips at the
sight which met him, and the bleak atmosphere of the chamber. 'My poor
mistress is ill, and she quite masters me: I cannot manage her at all;
pray, come and persuade her to go to bed. Forget your anger, for she's
hard to guide any way but her own.'
'Catherine ill?' he said, hastening to us. 'Shut the window, Ellen!
He was silent. The haggardness of Mrs. Linton's appearance smote him
speechless, and he could only glance from her to me in horrified
'She's been fretting here,' I continued, 'and eating scarcely anything,
and never complaining: she would admit none of us till this evening, and
so we couldn't inform you of her state, as we were not aware of it
ourselves; but it is nothing.'
I felt I uttered my explanations awkwardly; the master frowned. 'It is
nothing, is it, Ellen Dean?' he said sternly. 'You shall account more
clearly for keeping me ignorant of this!' And he took his wife in his
arms, and looked at her with anguish.
At first she gave him no glance of recognition: he was invisible to her
abstracted gaze. The delirium was not fixed, however; having weaned her
eyes from contemplating the outer darkness, by degrees she centred her
attention on him, and discovered who it was that held her.
'Ah! you are come, are you, Edgar Linton?' she said, with angry
animation. 'You are one of those things that are ever found when least
wanted, and when you are wanted, never! I suppose we shall have plenty
of lamentations now--I see we shall--but they can't keep me from my
narrow home out yonder: my resting-place, where I'm bound before spring
is over! There it is: not among the Lintons, mind, under the
chapel-roof, but in the open air, with a head-stone; and you may please
yourself whether you go to them or come to me!'
'Catherine, what have you done?' commenced the master. 'Am I nothing to
you any more? Do you love that wretch Heath--'
'Hush!' cried Mrs. Linton. 'Hush, this moment! You mention that name
and I end the matter instantly by a spring from the window! What you
touch at present you may have; but my soul will be on that hill-top
before you lay hands on me again. I don't want you, Edgar: I'm past
wanting you. Return to your books. I'm glad you possess a consolation,
for all you had in me is gone.'
'Her mind wanders, sir,' I interposed. 'She has been talking nonsense
the whole evening; but let her have quiet, and proper attendance, and
she'll rally. Hereafter, we must be cautious how we vex her.'
'I desire no further advice from you,' answered Mr. Linton. 'You knew
your mistress's nature, and you encouraged me to harass her. And not to
give me one hint of how she has been these three days! It was heartless!
Months of sickness could not cause such a change!'
I began to defend myself, thinking it too bad to be blamed for another's
wicked waywardness. 'I knew Mrs. Linton's nature to be headstrong and
domineering,' cried I: 'but I didn't know that you wished to foster her
fierce temper! I didn't know that, to humour her, I should wink at Mr.
Heathcliff. I performed the duty of a faithful servant in telling you,
and I have got a faithful servant's wages! Well, it will teach me to be
careful next time. Next time you may gather intelligence for yourself!'
'The next time you bring a tale to me you shall quit my service, Ellen
Dean,' he replied.
'You'd rather hear nothing about it, I suppose, then, Mr. Linton?' said
I. 'Heathcliff has your permission to come a-courting to Miss, and to
drop in at every opportunity your absence offers, on purpose to poison
the mistress against you?'
Confused as Catherine was, her wits were alert at applying our
'Ah! Nelly has played traitor,' she exclaimed, passionately. 'Nelly is
my hidden enemy. You witch! So you do seek elf-bolts to hurt us! Let
me go, and I'll make her rue! I'll make her howl a recantation!'
A maniac's fury kindled under her brows; she struggled desperately to
disengage herself from Linton's arms. I felt no inclination to tarry the
event; and, resolving to seek medical aid on my own responsibility, I
quitted the chamber.
In passing the garden to reach the road, at a place where a bridle hook
is driven into the wall, I saw something white moved irregularly,
evidently by another agent than the wind. Notwithstanding my hurry, I
stayed to examine it, lest ever after I should have the conviction
impressed on my imagination that it was a creature of the other world. My
surprise and perplexity were great on discovering, by touch more than
vision, Miss Isabella's springer, Fanny, suspended by a handkerchief, and
nearly at its last gasp. I quickly released the animal, and lifted it
into the garden. I had seen it follow its mistress up-stairs when she
went to bed; and wondered much how it could have got out there, and what
mischievous person had treated it so. While untying the knot round the
hook, it seemed to me that I repeatedly caught the beat of horses' feet
galloping at some distance; but there were such a number of things to
occupy my reflections that I hardly gave the circumstance a thought:
though it was a strange sound, in that place, at two o'clock in the
Mr. Kenneth was fortunately just issuing from his house to see a patient
in the village as I came up the street; and my account of Catherine
Linton's malady induced him to accompany me back immediately. He was a
plain rough man; and he made no scruple to speak his doubts of her
surviving this second attack; unless she were more submissive to his
directions than she had shown herself before.
'Nelly Dean,' said he, 'I can't help fancying there's an extra cause for
this. What has there been to do at the Grange? We've odd reports up
here. A stout, hearty lass like Catherine does not fall ill for a
trifle; and that sort of people should not either. It's hard work
bringing them through fevers, and such things. How did it begin?'
'The master will inform you,' I answered; 'but you are acquainted with
the Earnshaws' violent dispositions, and Mrs. Linton caps them all. I
may say this; it commenced in a quarrel. She was struck during a tempest
of passion with a kind of fit. That's her account, at least: for she
flew off in the height of it, and locked herself up. Afterwards, she
refused to eat, and now she alternately raves and remains in a half
dream; knowing those about her, but having her mind filled with all sorts
of strange ideas and illusions.'
'Mr. Linton will be sorry?' observed Kenneth, interrogatively.
'Sorry? he'll break his heart should anything happen!' I replied. 'Don't
alarm him more than necessary.'
'Well, I told him to beware,' said my companion; 'and he must bide the
consequences of neglecting my warning! Hasn't he been intimate with Mr.
'Heathcliff frequently visits at the Grange,' answered I, 'though more on
the strength of the mistress having known him when a boy, than because
the master likes his company. At present he's discharged from the
trouble of calling; owing to some presumptuous aspirations after Miss
Linton which he manifested. I hardly think he'll be taken in again.'
'And does Miss Linton turn a cold shoulder on him?' was the doctor's next
'I'm not in her confidence,' returned I, reluctant to continue the
'No, she's a sly one,' he remarked, shaking his head. 'She keeps her own
counsel! But she's a real little fool. I have it from good authority
that last night (and a pretty night it was!) she and Heathcliff were
walking in the plantation at the back of your house above two hours; and
he pressed her not to go in again, but just mount his horse and away with
him! My informant said she could only put him off by pledging her word
of honour to be prepared on their first meeting after that: when it was
to be he didn't hear; but you urge Mr. Linton to look sharp!'
This news filled me with fresh fears; I outstripped Kenneth, and ran most
of the way back. The little dog was yelping in the garden yet. I spared
a minute to open the gate for it, but instead of going to the house door,
it coursed up and down snuffing the grass, and would have escaped to the
road, had I not seized it and conveyed it in with me. On ascending to
Isabella's room, my suspicions were confirmed: it was empty. Had I been
a few hours sooner Mrs. Linton's illness might have arrested her rash
step. But what could be done now? There was a bare possibility of
overtaking them if pursued instantly. _I_ could not pursue them,
however; and I dared not rouse the family, and fill the place with
confusion; still less unfold the business to my master, absorbed as he
was in his present calamity, and having no heart to spare for a second
grief! I saw nothing for it but to hold my tongue, and suffer matters to
take their course; and Kenneth being arrived, I went with a badly
composed countenance to announce him. Catherine lay in a troubled sleep:
her husband had succeeded in soothing the excess of frenzy; he now hung
over her pillow, watching every shade and every change of her painfully
The doctor, on examining the case for himself, spoke hopefully to him of
its having a favourable termination, if we could only preserve around her
perfect and constant tranquillity. To me, he signified the threatening
danger was not so much death, as permanent alienation of intellect.
I did not close my eyes that night, nor did Mr. Linton: indeed, we never
went to bed; and the servants were all up long before the usual hour,
moving through the house with stealthy tread, and exchanging whispers as
they encountered each other in their vocations. Every one was active but
Miss Isabella; and they began to remark how sound she slept: her brother,
too, asked if she had risen, and seemed impatient for her presence, and
hurt that she showed so little anxiety for her sister-in-law. I trembled
lest he should send me to call her; but I was spared the pain of being
the first proclaimant of her flight. One of the maids, a thoughtless
girl, who had been on an early errand to Gimmerton, came panting
up-stairs, open-mouthed, and dashed into the chamber, crying: 'Oh, dear,
dear! What mun we have next? Master, master, our young lady--'
'Hold your noise!' cried, I hastily, enraged at her clamorous manner.
'Speak lower, Mary--What is the matter?' said Mr. Linton. 'What ails
your young lady?'
'She's gone, she's gone! Yon' Heathcliff's run off wi' her!' gasped the
'That is not true!' exclaimed Linton, rising in agitation. 'It cannot
be: how has the idea entered your head? Ellen Dean, go and seek her. It
is incredible: it cannot be.'
As he spoke he took the servant to the door, and then repeated his demand
to know her reasons for such an assertion.
'Why, I met on the road a lad that fetches milk here,' she stammered,
'and he asked whether we weren't in trouble at the Grange. I thought he
meant for missis's sickness, so I answered, yes. Then says he, "There's
somebody gone after 'em, I guess?" I stared. He saw I knew nought about
it, and he told how a gentleman and lady had stopped to have a horse's
shoe fastened at a blacksmith's shop, two miles out of Gimmerton, not
very long after midnight! and how the blacksmith's lass had got up to spy
who they were: she knew them both directly. And she noticed the
man--Heathcliff it was, she felt certain: nob'dy could mistake him,
besides--put a sovereign in her father's hand for payment. The lady had
a cloak about her face; but having desired a sup of water, while she
drank it fell back, and she saw her very plain. Heathcliff held both
bridles as they rode on, and they set their faces from the village, and
went as fast as the rough roads would let them. The lass said nothing to
her father, but she told it all over Gimmerton this morning.'
I ran and peeped, for form's sake, into Isabella's room; confirming, when
I returned, the servant's statement. Mr. Linton had resumed his seat by
the bed; on my re-entrance, he raised his eyes, read the meaning of my
blank aspect, and dropped them without giving an order, or uttering a
'Are we to try any measures for overtaking and bringing her back,' I
inquired. 'How should we do?'
'She went of her own accord,' answered the master; 'she had a right to go
if she pleased. Trouble me no more about her. Hereafter she is only my
sister in name: not because I disown her, but because she has disowned
And that was all he said on the subject: he did not make single inquiry
further, or mention her in any way, except directing me to send what
property she had in the house to her fresh home, wherever it was, when I