For two months the fugitives remained absent; in those two months, Mrs.
Linton encountered and conquered the worst shock of what was denominated
a brain fever. No mother could have nursed an only child more devotedly
than Edgar tended her. Day and night he was watching, and patiently
enduring all the annoyances that irritable nerves and a shaken reason
could inflict; and, though Kenneth remarked that what he saved from the
grave would only recompense his care by forming the source of constant
future anxiety--in fact, that his health and strength were being
sacrificed to preserve a mere ruin of humanity--he knew no limits in
gratitude and joy when Catherine's life was declared out of danger; and
hour after hour he would sit beside her, tracing the gradual return to
bodily health, and flattering his too sanguine hopes with the illusion
that her mind would settle back to its right balance also, and she would
soon be entirely her former self.
The first time she left her chamber was at the commencement of the
following March. Mr. Linton had put on her pillow, in the morning, a
handful of golden crocuses; her eye, long stranger to any gleam of
pleasure, caught them in waking, and shone delighted as she gathered them
'These are the earliest flowers at the Heights,' she exclaimed. 'They
remind me of soft thaw winds, and warm sunshine, and nearly melted snow.
Edgar, is there not a south wind, and is not the snow almost gone?'
'The snow is quite gone down here, darling,' replied her husband; 'and I
only see two white spots on the whole range of moors: the sky is blue,
and the larks are singing, and the becks and brooks are all brim full.
Catherine, last spring at this time, I was longing to have you under this
roof; now, I wish you were a mile or two up those hills: the air blows so
sweetly, I feel that it would cure you.'
'I shall never be there but once more,' said the invalid; 'and then
you'll leave me, and I shall remain for ever. Next spring you'll long
again to have me under this roof, and you'll look back and think you were
Linton lavished on her the kindest caresses, and tried to cheer her by
the fondest words; but, vaguely regarding the flowers, she let the tears
collect on her lashes and stream down her cheeks unheeding. We knew she
was really better, and, therefore, decided that long confinement to a
single place produced much of this despondency, and it might be partially
removed by a change of scene. The master told me to light a fire in the
many-weeks' deserted parlour, and to set an easy-chair in the sunshine by
the window; and then he brought her down, and she sat a long while
enjoying the genial heat, and, as we expected, revived by the objects
round her: which, though familiar, were free from the dreary associations
investing her hated sick chamber. By evening she seemed greatly
exhausted; yet no arguments could persuade her to return to that
apartment, and I had to arrange the parlour sofa for her bed, till
another room could be prepared. To obviate the fatigue of mounting and
descending the stairs, we fitted up this, where you lie at present--on
the same floor with the parlour; and she was soon strong enough to move
from one to the other, leaning on Edgar's arm. Ah, I thought myself, she
might recover, so waited on as she was. And there was double cause to
desire it, for on her existence depended that of another: we cherished
the hope that in a little while Mr. Linton's heart would be gladdened,
and his lands secured from a stranger's gripe, by the birth of an heir.
I should mention that Isabella sent to her brother, some six weeks from
her departure, a short note, announcing her marriage with Heathcliff. It
appeared dry and cold; but at the bottom was dotted in with pencil an
obscure apology, and an entreaty for kind remembrance and reconciliation,
if her proceeding had offended him: asserting that she could not help it
then, and being done, she had now no power to repeal it. Linton did not
reply to this, I believe; and, in a fortnight more, I got a long letter,
which I considered odd, coming from the pen of a bride just out of the
honeymoon. I'll read it: for I keep it yet. Any relic of the dead is
precious, if they were valued living.
* * * * *
DEAR ELLEN, it begins,--I came last night to Wuthering Heights, and
heard, for the first time, that Catherine has been, and is yet, very ill.
I must not write to her, I suppose, and my brother is either too angry or
too distressed to answer what I sent him. Still, I must write to
somebody, and the only choice left me is you.
Inform Edgar that I'd give the world to see his face again--that my heart
returned to Thrushcross Grange in twenty-four hours after I left it, and
is there at this moment, full of warm feelings for him, and Catherine! _I
can't follow it though_--(these words are underlined)--they need not
expect me, and they may draw what conclusions they please; taking care,
however, to lay nothing at the door of my weak will or deficient
The remainder of the letter is for yourself alone. I want to ask you two
questions: the first is,--How did you contrive to preserve the common
sympathies of human nature when you resided here? I cannot recognise any
sentiment which those around share with me.
The second question I have great interest in; it is this--Is Mr.
Heathcliff a man? If so, is he mad? And if not, is he a devil? I
sha'n't tell my reasons for making this inquiry; but I beseech you to
explain, if you can, what I have married: that is, when you call to see
me; and you must call, Ellen, very soon. Don't write, but come, and
bring me something from Edgar.
Now, you shall hear how I have been received in my new home, as I am led
to imagine the Heights will be. It is to amuse myself that I dwell on
such subjects as the lack of external comforts: they never occupy my
thoughts, except at the moment when I miss them. I should laugh and
dance for joy, if I found their absence was the total of my miseries, and
the rest was an unnatural dream!
The sun set behind the Grange as we turned on to the moors; by that, I
judged it to be six o'clock; and my companion halted half an hour, to
inspect the park, and the gardens, and, probably, the place itself, as
well as he could; so it was dark when we dismounted in the paved yard of
the farm-house, and your old fellow-servant, Joseph, issued out to
receive us by the light of a dip candle. He did it with a courtesy that
redounded to his credit. His first act was to elevate his torch to a
level with my face, squint malignantly, project his under-lip, and turn
away. Then he took the two horses, and led them into the stables;
reappearing for the purpose of locking the outer gate, as if we lived in
an ancient castle.
Heathcliff stayed to speak to him, and I entered the kitchen--a dingy,
untidy hole; I daresay you would not know it, it is so changed since it
was in your charge. By the fire stood a ruffianly child, strong in limb
and dirty in garb, with a look of Catherine in his eyes and about his
'This is Edgar's legal nephew,' I reflected--'mine in a manner; I must
shake hands, and--yes--I must kiss him. It is right to establish a good
understanding at the beginning.'
I approached, and, attempting to take his chubby fist, said--'How do you
do, my dear?'
He replied in a jargon I did not comprehend.
'Shall you and I be friends, Hareton?' was my next essay at conversation.
An oath, and a threat to set Throttler on me if I did not 'frame off'
rewarded my perseverance.
'Hey, Throttler, lad!' whispered the little wretch, rousing a half-bred
bull-dog from its lair in a corner. 'Now, wilt thou be ganging?' he
Love for my life urged a compliance; I stepped over the threshold to wait
till the others should enter. Mr. Heathcliff was nowhere visible; and
Joseph, whom I followed to the stables, and requested to accompany me in,
after staring and muttering to himself, screwed up his nose and
replied--'Mim! mim! mim! Did iver Christian body hear aught like it?
Mincing un' munching! How can I tell whet ye say?'
'I say, I wish you to come with me into the house!' I cried, thinking him
deaf, yet highly disgusted at his rudeness.
'None o' me! I getten summut else to do,' he answered, and continued his
work; moving his lantern jaws meanwhile, and surveying my dress and
countenance (the former a great deal too fine, but the latter, I'm sure,
as sad as he could desire) with sovereign contempt.
I walked round the yard, and through a wicket, to another door, at which
I took the liberty of knocking, in hopes some more civil servant might
show himself. After a short suspense, it was opened by a tall, gaunt
man, without neckerchief, and otherwise extremely slovenly; his features
were lost in masses of shaggy hair that hung on his shoulders; and _his_
eyes, too, were like a ghostly Catherine's with all their beauty
'What's your business here?' he demanded, grimly. 'Who are you?'
'My name was Isabella Linton,' I replied. 'You've seen me before, sir.
I'm lately married to Mr. Heathcliff, and he has brought me here--I
suppose, by your permission.'
'Is he come back, then?' asked the hermit, glaring like a hungry wolf.
'Yes--we came just now,' I said; 'but he left me by the kitchen door; and
when I would have gone in, your little boy played sentinel over the
place, and frightened me off by the help of a bull-dog.'
'It's well the hellish villain has kept his word!' growled my future
host, searching the darkness beyond me in expectation of discovering
Heathcliff; and then he indulged in a soliloquy of execrations, and
threats of what he would have done had the 'fiend' deceived him.
I repented having tried this second entrance, and was almost inclined to
slip away before he finished cursing, but ere I could execute that
intention, he ordered me in, and shut and re-fastened the door. There
was a great fire, and that was all the light in the huge apartment, whose
floor had grown a uniform grey; and the once brilliant pewter-dishes,
which used to attract my gaze when I was a girl, partook of a similar
obscurity, created by tarnish and dust. I inquired whether I might call
the maid, and be conducted to a bedroom! Mr. Earnshaw vouchsafed no
answer. He walked up and down, with his hands in his pockets, apparently
quite forgetting my presence; and his abstraction was evidently so deep,
and his whole aspect so misanthropical, that I shrank from disturbing him
You'll not be surprised, Ellen, at my feeling particularly cheerless,
seated in worse than solitude on that inhospitable hearth, and
remembering that four miles distant lay my delightful home, containing
the only people I loved on earth; and there might as well be the Atlantic
to part us, instead of those four miles: I could not overpass them! I
questioned with myself--where must I turn for comfort? and--mind you
don't tell Edgar, or Catherine--above every sorrow beside, this rose pre-
eminent: despair at finding nobody who could or would be my ally against
Heathcliff! I had sought shelter at Wuthering Heights, almost gladly,
because I was secured by that arrangement from living alone with him; but
he knew the people we were coming amongst, and he did not fear their
I sat and thought a doleful time: the clock struck eight, and nine, and
still my companion paced to and fro, his head bent on his breast, and
perfectly silent, unless a groan or a bitter ejaculation forced itself
out at intervals. I listened to detect a woman's voice in the house, and
filled the interim with wild regrets and dismal anticipations, which, at
last, spoke audibly in irrepressible sighing and weeping. I was not
aware how openly I grieved, till Earnshaw halted opposite, in his
measured walk, and gave me a stare of newly-awakened surprise. Taking
advantage of his recovered attention, I exclaimed--'I'm tired with my
journey, and I want to go to bed! Where is the maid-servant? Direct me
to her, as she won't come to me!'
'We have none,' he answered; 'you must wait on yourself!'
'Where must I sleep, then?' I sobbed; I was beyond regarding
self-respect, weighed down by fatigue and wretchedness.
'Joseph will show you Heathcliff's chamber,' said he; 'open that
door--he's in there.'
I was going to obey, but he suddenly arrested me, and added in the
strangest tone--'Be so good as to turn your lock, and draw your
bolt--don't omit it!'
'Well!' I said. 'But why, Mr. Earnshaw?' I did not relish the notion of
deliberately fastening myself in with Heathcliff.
'Look here!' he replied, pulling from his waistcoat a
curiously-constructed pistol, having a double-edged spring knife attached
to the barrel. 'That's a great tempter to a desperate man, is it not? I
cannot resist going up with this every night, and trying his door. If
once I find it open he's done for; I do it invariably, even though the
minute before I have been recalling a hundred reasons that should make me
refrain: it is some devil that urges me to thwart my own schemes by
killing him. You fight against that devil for love as long as you may;
when the time comes, not all the angels in heaven shall save him!'
I surveyed the weapon inquisitively. A hideous notion struck me: how
powerful I should be possessing such an instrument! I took it from his
hand, and touched the blade. He looked astonished at the expression my
face assumed during a brief second: it was not horror, it was
covetousness. He snatched the pistol back, jealously; shut the knife,
and returned it to its concealment.
'I don't care if you tell him,' said he. 'Put him on his guard, and
watch for him. You know the terms we are on, I see: his danger does not
'What has Heathcliff done to you?' I asked. 'In what has he wronged you,
to warrant this appalling hatred? Wouldn't it be wiser to bid him quit
'No!' thundered Earnshaw; 'should he offer to leave me, he's a dead man:
persuade him to attempt it, and you are a murderess! Am I to lose _all_,
without a chance of retrieval? Is Hareton to be a beggar? Oh,
damnation! I _will_ have it back; and I'll have _his_ gold too; and then
his blood; and hell shall have his soul! It will be ten times blacker
with that guest than ever it was before!'
You've acquainted me, Ellen, with your old master's habits. He is
clearly on the verge of madness: he was so last night at least. I
shuddered to be near him, and thought on the servant's ill-bred
moroseness as comparatively agreeable. He now recommenced his moody
walk, and I raised the latch, and escaped into the kitchen. Joseph was
bending over the fire, peering into a large pan that swung above it; and
a wooden bowl of oatmeal stood on the settle close by. The contents of
the pan began to boil, and he turned to plunge his hand into the bowl; I
conjectured that this preparation was probably for our supper, and, being
hungry, I resolved it should be eatable; so, crying out sharply, '_I'll_
make the porridge!' I removed the vessel out of his reach, and proceeded
to take off my hat and riding-habit. 'Mr. Earnshaw,' I continued,
'directs me to wait on myself: I will. I'm not going to act the lady
among you, for fear I should starve.'
'Gooid Lord!' he muttered, sitting down, and stroking his ribbed
stockings from the knee to the ankle. 'If there's to be fresh
ortherings--just when I getten used to two maisters, if I mun hev' a
_mistress_ set o'er my heead, it's like time to be flitting. I niver
_did_ think to see t' day that I mud lave th' owld place--but I doubt
it's nigh at hand!'
This lamentation drew no notice from me: I went briskly to work, sighing
to remember a period when it would have been all merry fun; but compelled
speedily to drive off the remembrance. It racked me to recall past
happiness and the greater peril there was of conjuring up its apparition,
the quicker the thible ran round, and the faster the handfuls of meal
fell into the water. Joseph beheld my style of cookery with growing
'Thear!' he ejaculated. 'Hareton, thou willn't sup thy porridge
to-neeght; they'll be naught but lumps as big as my neive. Thear, agean!
I'd fling in bowl un' all, if I wer ye! There, pale t' guilp off, un'
then ye'll hae done wi' 't. Bang, bang. It's a mercy t' bothom isn't
It _was_ rather a rough mess, I own, when poured into the basins; four
had been provided, and a gallon pitcher of new milk was brought from the
dairy, which Hareton seized and commenced drinking and spilling from the
expansive lip. I expostulated, and desired that he should have his in a
mug; affirming that I could not taste the liquid treated so dirtily. The
old cynic chose to be vastly offended at this nicety; assuring me,
repeatedly, that 'the barn was every bit as good' as I, 'and every bit as
wollsome,' and wondering how I could fashion to be so conceited.
Meanwhile, the infant ruffian continued sucking; and glowered up at me
defyingly, as he slavered into the jug.
'I shall have my supper in another room,' I said. 'Have you no place you
call a parlour?'
'_Parlour_!' he echoed, sneeringly, '_parlour_! Nay, we've noa
_parlours_. If yah dunnut loike wer company, there's maister's; un' if
yah dunnut loike maister, there's us.'
'Then I shall go up-stairs,' I answered; 'show me a chamber.'
I put my basin on a tray, and went myself to fetch some more milk. With
great grumblings, the fellow rose, and preceded me in my ascent: we
mounted to the garrets; he opened a door, now and then, to look into the
apartments we passed.
'Here's a rahm,' he said, at last, flinging back a cranky board on
hinges. 'It's weel eneugh to ate a few porridge in. There's a pack o'
corn i' t' corner, thear, meeterly clane; if ye're feared o' muckying yer
grand silk cloes, spread yer hankerchir o' t' top on't.'
The 'rahm' was a kind of lumber-hole smelling strong of malt and grain;
various sacks of which articles were piled around, leaving a wide, bare
space in the middle.
'Why, man,' I exclaimed, facing him angrily, 'this is not a place to
sleep in. I wish to see my bed-room.'
'_Bed-rume_!' he repeated, in a tone of mockery. 'Yah's see all t' _bed-
rumes_ thear is--yon's mine.'
He pointed into the second garret, only differing from the first in being
more naked about the walls, and having a large, low, curtainless bed,
with an indigo-coloured quilt, at one end.
'What do I want with yours?' I retorted. 'I suppose Mr. Heathcliff does
not lodge at the top of the house, does he?'
'Oh! it's Maister _Hathecliff's_ ye're wanting?' cried he, as if making a
new discovery. 'Couldn't ye ha' said soa, at onst? un' then, I mud ha'
telled ye, baht all this wark, that that's just one ye cannut see--he
allas keeps it locked, un' nob'dy iver mells on't but hisseln.'
'You've a nice house, Joseph,' I could not refrain from observing, 'and
pleasant inmates; and I think the concentrated essence of all the madness
in the world took up its abode in my brain the day I linked my fate with
theirs! However, that is not to the present purpose--there are other
rooms. For heaven's sake be quick, and let me settle somewhere!'
He made no reply to this adjuration; only plodding doggedly down the
wooden steps, and halting, before an apartment which, from that halt and
the superior quality of its furniture, I conjectured to be the best one.
There was a carpet--a good one, but the pattern was obliterated by dust;
a fireplace hung with cut-paper, dropping to pieces; a handsome
oak-bedstead with ample crimson curtains of rather expensive material and
modern make; but they had evidently experienced rough usage: the
vallances hung in festoons, wrenched from their rings, and the iron rod
supporting them was bent in an arc on one side, causing the drapery to
trail upon the floor. The chairs were also damaged, many of them
severely; and deep indentations deformed the panels of the walls. I was
endeavouring to gather resolution for entering and taking possession,
when my fool of a guide announced,--'This here is t' maister's.' My
supper by this time was cold, my appetite gone, and my patience
exhausted. I insisted on being provided instantly with a place of
refuge, and means of repose.
'Whear the divil?' began the religious elder. 'The Lord bless us! The
Lord forgie us! Whear the _hell_ wold ye gang? ye marred, wearisome
nowt! Ye've seen all but Hareton's bit of a cham'er. There's not
another hoile to lig down in i' th' hahse!'
I was so vexed, I flung my tray and its contents on the ground; and then
seated myself at the stairs'-head, hid my face in my hands, and cried.
'Ech! ech!' exclaimed Joseph. 'Weel done, Miss Cathy! weel done, Miss
Cathy! Howsiver, t' maister sall just tum'le o'er them brooken pots; un'
then we's hear summut; we's hear how it's to be. Gooid-for-naught
madling! ye desarve pining fro' this to Churstmas, flinging t' precious
gifts o'God under fooit i' yer flaysome rages! But I'm mista'en if ye
shew yer sperrit lang. Will Hathecliff bide sich bonny ways, think ye? I
nobbut wish he may catch ye i' that plisky. I nobbut wish he may.'
And so he went on scolding to his den beneath, taking the candle with
him; and I remained in the dark. The period of reflection succeeding
this silly action compelled me to admit the necessity of smothering my
pride and choking my wrath, and bestirring myself to remove its effects.
An unexpected aid presently appeared in the shape of Throttler, whom I
now recognised as a son of our old Skulker: it had spent its whelphood at
the Grange, and was given by my father to Mr. Hindley. I fancy it knew
me: it pushed its nose against mine by way of salute, and then hastened
to devour the porridge; while I groped from step to step, collecting the
shattered earthenware, and drying the spatters of milk from the banister
with my pocket-handkerchief. Our labours were scarcely over when I heard
Earnshaw's tread in the passage; my assistant tucked in his tail, and
pressed to the wall; I stole into the nearest doorway. The dog's
endeavour to avoid him was unsuccessful; as I guessed by a scutter down-
stairs, and a prolonged, piteous yelping. I had better luck: he passed
on, entered his chamber, and shut the door. Directly after Joseph came
up with Hareton, to put him to bed. I had found shelter in Hareton's
room, and the old man, on seeing me, said,--'They's rahm for boath ye un'
yer pride, now, I sud think i' the hahse. It's empty; ye may hev' it all
to yerseln, un' Him as allus maks a third, i' sich ill company!'
Gladly did I take advantage of this intimation; and the minute I flung
myself into a chair, by the fire, I nodded, and slept. My slumber was
deep and sweet, though over far too soon. Mr. Heathcliff awoke me; he
had just come in, and demanded, in his loving manner, what I was doing
there? I told him the cause of my staying up so late--that he had the
key of our room in his pocket. The adjective _our_ gave mortal offence.
He swore it was not, nor ever should be, mine; and he'd--but I'll not
repeat his language, nor describe his habitual conduct: he is ingenious
and unresting in seeking to gain my abhorrence! I sometimes wonder at
him with an intensity that deadens my fear: yet, I assure you, a tiger or
a venomous serpent could not rouse terror in me equal to that which he
wakens. He told me of Catherine's illness, and accused my brother of
causing it promising that I should be Edgar's proxy in suffering, till he
could get hold of him.
I do hate him--I am wretched--I have been a fool! Beware of uttering one
breath of this to any one at the Grange. I shall expect you every
day--don't disappoint me!--ISABELLA.