To obviate the danger of this threat being fulfilled, Mr. Linton
commissioned me to take the boy home early, on Catherine's pony; and,
said he--'As we shall now have no influence over his destiny, good or
bad, you must say nothing of where he is gone to my daughter: she cannot
associate with him hereafter, and it is better for her to remain in
ignorance of his proximity; lest she should be restless, and anxious to
visit the Heights. Merely tell her his father sent for him suddenly, and
he has been obliged to leave us.'
Linton was very reluctant to be roused from his bed at five o'clock, and
astonished to be informed that he must prepare for further travelling;
but I softened off the matter by stating that he was going to spend some
time with his father, Mr. Heathcliff, who wished to see him so much, he
did not like to defer the pleasure till he should recover from his late
'My father!' he cried, in strange perplexity. 'Mamma never told me I had
a father. Where does he live? I'd rather stay with uncle.'
'He lives a little distance from the Grange,' I replied; 'just beyond
those hills: not so far, but you may walk over here when you get hearty.
And you should be glad to go home, and to see him. You must try to love
him, as you did your mother, and then he will love you.'
'But why have I not heard of him before?' asked Linton. 'Why didn't
mamma and he live together, as other people do?'
'He had business to keep him in the north,' I answered, 'and your
mother's health required her to reside in the south.'
'And why didn't mamma speak to me about him?' persevered the child. 'She
often talked of uncle, and I learnt to love him long ago. How am I to
love papa? I don't know him.'
'Oh, all children love their parents,' I said. 'Your mother, perhaps,
thought you would want to be with him if she mentioned him often to you.
Let us make haste. An early ride on such a beautiful morning is much
preferable to an hour's more sleep.'
'Is _she_ to go with us,' he demanded, 'the little girl I saw yesterday?'
'Not now,' replied I.
'Is uncle?' he continued.
'No, I shall be your companion there,' I said.
Linton sank back on his pillow and fell into a brown study.
'I won't go without uncle,' he cried at length: 'I can't tell where you
mean to take me.'
I attempted to persuade him of the naughtiness of showing reluctance to
meet his father; still he obstinately resisted any progress towards
dressing, and I had to call for my master's assistance in coaxing him out
of bed. The poor thing was finally got off, with several delusive
assurances that his absence should be short: that Mr. Edgar and Cathy
would visit him, and other promises, equally ill-founded, which I
invented and reiterated at intervals throughout the way. The pure
heather-scented air, the bright sunshine, and the gentle canter of Minny,
relieved his despondency after a while. He began to put questions
concerning his new home, and its inhabitants, with greater interest and
'Is Wuthering Heights as pleasant a place as Thrushcross Grange?' he
inquired, turning to take a last glance into the valley, whence a light
mist mounted and formed a fleecy cloud on the skirts of the blue.
'It is not so buried in trees,' I replied, 'and it is not quite so large,
but you can see the country beautifully all round; and the air is
healthier for you--fresher and drier. You will, perhaps, think the
building old and dark at first; though it is a respectable house: the
next best in the neighbourhood. And you will have such nice rambles on
the moors. Hareton Earnshaw--that is, Miss Cathy's other cousin, and so
yours in a manner--will show you all the sweetest spots; and you can
bring a book in fine weather, and make a green hollow your study; and,
now and then, your uncle may join you in a walk: he does, frequently,
walk out on the hills.'
'And what is my father like?' he asked. 'Is he as young and handsome as
'He's as young,' said I; 'but he has black hair and eyes, and looks
sterner; and he is taller and bigger altogether. He'll not seem to you
so gentle and kind at first, perhaps, because it is not his way: still,
mind you, be frank and cordial with him; and naturally he'll be fonder of
you than any uncle, for you are his own.'
'Black hair and eyes!' mused Linton. 'I can't fancy him. Then I am not
like him, am I?'
'Not much,' I answered: not a morsel, I thought, surveying with regret
the white complexion and slim frame of my companion, and his large
languid eyes--his mother's eyes, save that, unless a morbid touchiness
kindled them a moment, they had not a vestige of her sparkling spirit.
'How strange that he should never come to see mamma and me!' he murmured.
'Has he ever seen me? If he has, I must have been a baby. I remember
not a single thing about him!'
'Why, Master Linton,' said I, 'three hundred miles is a great distance;
and ten years seem very different in length to a grown-up person compared
with what they do to you. It is probable Mr. Heathcliff proposed going
from summer to summer, but never found a convenient opportunity; and now
it is too late. Don't trouble him with questions on the subject: it will
disturb him, for no good.'
The boy was fully occupied with his own cogitations for the remainder of
the ride, till we halted before the farmhouse garden-gate. I watched to
catch his impressions in his countenance. He surveyed the carved front
and low-browed lattices, the straggling gooseberry-bushes and crooked
firs, with solemn intentness, and then shook his head: his private
feelings entirely disapproved of the exterior of his new abode. But he
had sense to postpone complaining: there might be compensation within.
Before he dismounted, I went and opened the door. It was half-past six;
the family had just finished breakfast: the servant was clearing and
wiping down the table. Joseph stood by his master's chair telling some
tale concerning a lame horse; and Hareton was preparing for the hayfield.
'Hallo, Nelly!' said Mr. Heathcliff, when he saw me. 'I feared I should
have to come down and fetch my property myself. You've brought it, have
you? Let us see what we can make of it.'
He got up and strode to the door: Hareton and Joseph followed in gaping
curiosity. Poor Linton ran a frightened eye over the faces of the three.
'Sure-ly,' said Joseph after a grave inspection, 'he's swopped wi' ye,
Maister, an' yon's his lass!'
Heathcliff, having stared his son into an ague of confusion, uttered a
'God! what a beauty! what a lovely, charming thing!' he exclaimed.
'Hav'n't they reared it on snails and sour milk, Nelly? Oh, damn my
soul! but that's worse than I expected--and the devil knows I was not
I bid the trembling and bewildered child get down, and enter. He did not
thoroughly comprehend the meaning of his father's speech, or whether it
were intended for him: indeed, he was not yet certain that the grim,
sneering stranger was his father. But he clung to me with growing
trepidation; and on Mr. Heathcliff's taking a seat and bidding him 'come
hither' he hid his face on my shoulder and wept.
'Tut, tut!' said Heathcliff, stretching out a hand and dragging him
roughly between his knees, and then holding up his head by the chin.
'None of that nonsense! We're not going to hurt thee, Linton--isn't that
thy name? Thou art thy mother's child, entirely! Where is my share in
thee, puling chicken?'
He took off the boy's cap and pushed back his thick flaxen curls, felt
his slender arms and his small fingers; during which examination Linton
ceased crying, and lifted his great blue eyes to inspect the inspector.
'Do you know me?' asked Heathcliff, having satisfied himself that the
limbs were all equally frail and feeble.
'No,' said Linton, with a gaze of vacant fear.
'You've heard of me, I daresay?'
'No,' he replied again.
'No! What a shame of your mother, never to waken your filial regard for
me! You are my son, then, I'll tell you; and your mother was a wicked
slut to leave you in ignorance of the sort of father you possessed. Now,
don't wince, and colour up! Though it is something to see you have not
white blood. Be a good lad; and I'll do for you. Nelly, if you be tired
you may sit down; if not, get home again. I guess you'll report what you
hear and see to the cipher at the Grange; and this thing won't be settled
while you linger about it.'
'Well,' replied I, 'I hope you'll be kind to the boy, Mr. Heathcliff, or
you'll not keep him long; and he's all you have akin in the wide world,
that you will ever know--remember.'
'I'll be very kind to him, you needn't fear,' he said, laughing. 'Only
nobody else must be kind to him: I'm jealous of monopolising his
affection. And, to begin my kindness, Joseph, bring the lad some
breakfast. Hareton, you infernal calf, begone to your work. Yes, Nell,'
he added, when they had departed, 'my son is prospective owner of your
place, and I should not wish him to die till I was certain of being his
successor. Besides, he's _mine_, and I want the triumph of seeing _my_
descendant fairly lord of their estates; my child hiring their children
to till their fathers' lands for wages. That is the sole consideration
which can make me endure the whelp: I despise him for himself, and hate
him for the memories he revives! But that consideration is sufficient:
he's as safe with me, and shall be tended as carefully as your master
tends his own. I have a room up-stairs, furnished for him in handsome
style; I've engaged a tutor, also, to come three times a week, from
twenty miles' distance, to teach him what he pleases to learn. I've
ordered Hareton to obey him: and in fact I've arranged everything with a
view to preserve the superior and the gentleman in him, above his
associates. I do regret, however, that he so little deserves the
trouble: if I wished any blessing in the world, it was to find him a
worthy object of pride; and I'm bitterly disappointed with the
whey-faced, whining wretch!'
While he was speaking, Joseph returned bearing a basin of milk-porridge,
and placed it before Linton: who stirred round the homely mess with a
look of aversion, and affirmed he could not eat it. I saw the old man-
servant shared largely in his master's scorn of the child; though he was
compelled to retain the sentiment in his heart, because Heathcliff
plainly meant his underlings to hold him in honour.
'Cannot ate it?' repeated he, peering in Linton's face, and subduing his
voice to a whisper, for fear of being overheard. 'But Maister Hareton
nivir ate naught else, when he wer a little 'un; and what wer gooid
enough for him's gooid enough for ye, I's rayther think!'
'I _sha'n't_ eat it!' answered Linton, snappishly. 'Take it away.'
Joseph snatched up the food indignantly, and brought it to us.
'Is there aught ails th' victuals?' he asked, thrusting the tray under
'What should ail them?' he said.
'Wah!' answered Joseph, 'yon dainty chap says he cannut ate 'em. But I
guess it's raight! His mother wer just soa--we wer a'most too mucky to
sow t' corn for makking her breead.'
'Don't mention his mother to me,' said the master, angrily. 'Get him
something that he can eat, that's all. What is his usual food, Nelly?'
I suggested boiled milk or tea; and the housekeeper received instructions
to prepare some. Come, I reflected, his father's selfishness may
contribute to his comfort. He perceives his delicate constitution, and
the necessity of treating him tolerably. I'll console Mr. Edgar by
acquainting him with the turn Heathcliff's humour has taken. Having no
excuse for lingering longer, I slipped out, while Linton was engaged in
timidly rebuffing the advances of a friendly sheep-dog. But he was too
much on the alert to be cheated: as I closed the door, I heard a cry, and
a frantic repetition of the words--
'Don't leave me! I'll not stay here! I'll not stay here!'
Then the latch was raised and fell: they did not suffer him to come
forth. I mounted Minny, and urged her to a trot; and so my brief