We had sad work with little Cathy that day: she rose in high glee, eager
to join her cousin, and such passionate tears and lamentations followed
the news of his departure that Edgar himself was obliged to soothe her,
by affirming he should come back soon: he added, however, 'if I can get
him'; and there were no hopes of that. This promise poorly pacified her;
but time was more potent; and though still at intervals she inquired of
her father when Linton would return, before she did see him again his
features had waxed so dim in her memory that she did not recognise him.
When I chanced to encounter the housekeeper of Wuthering Heights, in
paying business visits to Gimmerton, I used to ask how the young master
got on; for he lived almost as secluded as Catherine herself, and was
never to be seen. I could gather from her that he continued in weak
health, and was a tiresome inmate. She said Mr. Heathcliff seemed to
dislike him ever longer and worse, though he took some trouble to conceal
it: he had an antipathy to the sound of his voice, and could not do at
all with his sitting in the same room with him many minutes together.
There seldom passed much talk between them: Linton learnt his lessons and
spent his evenings in a small apartment they called the parlour: or else
lay in bed all day: for he was constantly getting coughs, and colds, and
aches, and pains of some sort.
'And I never know such a fainthearted creature,' added the woman; 'nor
one so careful of hisseln. He _will_ go on, if I leave the window open a
bit late in the evening. Oh! it's killing, a breath of night air! And
he must have a fire in the middle of summer; and Joseph's bacca-pipe is
poison; and he must always have sweets and dainties, and always milk,
milk for ever--heeding naught how the rest of us are pinched in winter;
and there he'll sit, wrapped in his furred cloak in his chair by the
fire, with some toast and water or other slop on the hob to sip at; and
if Hareton, for pity, comes to amuse him--Hareton is not bad-natured,
though he's rough--they're sure to part, one swearing and the other
crying. I believe the master would relish Earnshaw's thrashing him to a
mummy, if he were not his son; and I'm certain he would be fit to turn
him out of doors, if he knew half the nursing he gives hisseln. But then
he won't go into danger of temptation: he never enters the parlour, and
should Linton show those ways in the house where he is, he sends him up-
I divined, from this account, that utter lack of sympathy had rendered
young Heathcliff selfish and disagreeable, if he were not so originally;
and my interest in him, consequently, decayed: though still I was moved
with a sense of grief at his lot, and a wish that he had been left with
us. Mr. Edgar encouraged me to gain information: he thought a great deal
about him, I fancy, and would have run some risk to see him; and he told
me once to ask the housekeeper whether he ever came into the village? She
said he had only been twice, on horseback, accompanying his father; and
both times he pretended to be quite knocked up for three or four days
afterwards. That housekeeper left, if I recollect rightly, two years
after he came; and another, whom I did not know, was her successor; she
lives there still.
Time wore on at the Grange in its former pleasant way till Miss Cathy
reached sixteen. On the anniversary of her birth we never manifested any
signs of rejoicing, because it was also the anniversary of my late
mistress's death. Her father invariably spent that day alone in the
library; and walked, at dusk, as far as Gimmerton kirkyard, where he
would frequently prolong his stay beyond midnight. Therefore Catherine
was thrown on her own resources for amusement. This twentieth of March
was a beautiful spring day, and when her father had retired, my young
lady came down dressed for going out, and said she asked to have a ramble
on the edge of the moor with me: Mr. Linton had given her leave, if we
went only a short distance and were back within the hour.
'So make haste, Ellen!' she cried. 'I know where I wish to go; where a
colony of moor-game are settled: I want to see whether they have made
their nests yet.'
'That must be a good distance up,' I answered; 'they don't breed on the
edge of the moor.'
'No, it's not,' she said. 'I've gone very near with papa.'
I put on my bonnet and sallied out, thinking nothing more of the matter.
She bounded before me, and returned to my side, and was off again like a
young greyhound; and, at first, I found plenty of entertainment in
listening to the larks singing far and near, and enjoying the sweet, warm
sunshine; and watching her, my pet and my delight, with her golden
ringlets flying loose behind, and her bright cheek, as soft and pure in
its bloom as a wild rose, and her eyes radiant with cloudless pleasure.
She was a happy creature, and an angel, in those days. It's a pity she
could not be content.
'Well,' said I, 'where are your moor-game, Miss Cathy? We should be at
them: the Grange park-fence is a great way off now.'
'Oh, a little further--only a little further, Ellen,' was her answer,
continually. 'Climb to that hillock, pass that bank, and by the time you
reach the other side I shall have raised the birds.'
But there were so many hillocks and banks to climb and pass, that, at
length, I began to be weary, and told her we must halt, and retrace our
steps. I shouted to her, as she had outstripped me a long way; she
either did not hear or did not regard, for she still sprang on, and I was
compelled to follow. Finally, she dived into a hollow; and before I came
in sight of her again, she was two miles nearer Wuthering Heights than
her own home; and I beheld a couple of persons arrest her, one of whom I
felt convinced was Mr. Heathcliff himself.
Cathy had been caught in the fact of plundering, or, at least, hunting
out the nests of the grouse. The Heights were Heathcliff's land, and he
was reproving the poacher.
'I've neither taken any nor found any,' she said, as I toiled to them,
expanding her hands in corroboration of the statement. 'I didn't mean to
take them; but papa told me there were quantities up here, and I wished
to see the eggs.'
Heathcliff glanced at me with an ill-meaning smile, expressing his
acquaintance with the party, and, consequently, his malevolence towards
it, and demanded who 'papa' was?
'Mr. Linton of Thrushcross Grange,' she replied. 'I thought you did not
know me, or you wouldn't have spoken in that way.'
'You suppose papa is highly esteemed and respected, then?' he said,
'And what are you?' inquired Catherine, gazing curiously on the speaker.
'That man I've seen before. Is he your son?'
She pointed to Hareton, the other individual, who had gained nothing but
increased bulk and strength by the addition of two years to his age: he
seemed as awkward and rough as ever.
'Miss Cathy,' I interrupted, 'it will be three hours instead of one that
we are out, presently. We really must go back.'
'No, that man is not my son,' answered Heathcliff, pushing me aside. 'But
I have one, and you have seen him before too; and, though your nurse is
in a hurry, I think both you and she would be the better for a little
rest. Will you just turn this nab of heath, and walk into my house?
You'll get home earlier for the ease; and you shall receive a kind
I whispered Catherine that she mustn't, on any account, accede to the
proposal: it was entirely out of the question.
'Why?' she asked, aloud. 'I'm tired of running, and the ground is dewy:
I can't sit here. Let us go, Ellen. Besides, he says I have seen his
son. He's mistaken, I think; but I guess where he lives: at the
farmhouse I visited in coming from Penistone' Crags. Don't you?'
'I do. Come, Nelly, hold your tongue--it will he a treat for her to look
in on us. Hareton, get forwards with the lass. You shall walk with me,
'No, she's not going to any such place,' I cried, struggling to release
my arm, which he had seized: but she was almost at the door-stones
already, scampering round the brow at full speed. Her appointed
companion did not pretend to escort her: he shied off by the road-side,
'Mr. Heathcliff, it's very wrong,' I continued: 'you know you mean no
good. And there she'll see Linton, and all will be told as soon as ever
we return; and I shall have the blame.'
'I want her to see Linton,' he answered; 'he's looking better these few
days; it's not often he's fit to be seen. And we'll soon persuade her to
keep the visit secret: where is the harm of it?'
'The harm of it is, that her father would hate me if he found I suffered
her to enter your house; and I am convinced you have a bad design in
encouraging her to do so,' I replied.
'My design is as honest as possible. I'll inform you of its whole
scope,' he said. 'That the two cousins may fall in love, and get
married. I'm acting generously to your master: his young chit has no
expectations, and should she second my wishes she'll be provided for at
once as joint successor with Linton.'
'If Linton died,' I answered, 'and his life is quite uncertain, Catherine
would be the heir.'
'No, she would not,' he said. 'There is no clause in the will to secure
it so: his property would go to me; but, to prevent disputes, I desire
their union, and am resolved to bring it about.'
'And I'm resolved she shall never approach your house with me again,' I
returned, as we reached the gate, where Miss Cathy waited our coming.
Heathcliff bade me be quiet; and, preceding us up the path, hastened to
open the door. My young lady gave him several looks, as if she could not
exactly make up her mind what to think of him; but now he smiled when he
met her eye, and softened his voice in addressing her; and I was foolish
enough to imagine the memory of her mother might disarm him from desiring
her injury. Linton stood on the hearth. He had been out walking in the
fields, for his cap was on, and he was calling to Joseph to bring him dry
shoes. He had grown tall of his age, still wanting some months of
sixteen. His features were pretty yet, and his eye and complexion
brighter than I remembered them, though with merely temporary lustre
borrowed from the salubrious air and genial sun.
'Now, who is that?' asked Mr. Heathcliff, turning to Cathy. 'Can you
'Your son?' she said, having doubtfully surveyed, first one and then the
'Yes, yes,' answered he: 'but is this the only time you have beheld him?
Think! Ah! you have a short memory. Linton, don't you recall your
cousin, that you used to tease us so with wishing to see?'
'What, Linton!' cried Cathy, kindling into joyful surprise at the name.
'Is that little Linton? He's taller than I am! Are you Linton?'
The youth stepped forward, and acknowledged himself: she kissed him
fervently, and they gazed with wonder at the change time had wrought in
the appearance of each. Catherine had reached her full height; her
figure was both plump and slender, elastic as steel, and her whole aspect
sparkling with health and spirits. Linton's looks and movements were
very languid, and his form extremely slight; but there was a grace in his
manner that mitigated these defects, and rendered him not unpleasing.
After exchanging numerous marks of fondness with him, his cousin went to
Mr. Heathcliff, who lingered by the door, dividing his attention between
the objects inside and those that lay without: pretending, that is, to
observe the latter, and really noting the former alone.
'And you are my uncle, then!' she cried, reaching up to salute him. 'I
thought I liked you, though you were cross at first. Why don't you visit
at the Grange with Linton? To live all these years such close
neighbours, and never see us, is odd: what have you done so for?'
'I visited it once or twice too often before you were born,' he answered.
'There--damn it! If you have any kisses to spare, give them to Linton:
they are thrown away on me.'
'Naughty Ellen!' exclaimed Catherine, flying to attack me next with her
lavish caresses. 'Wicked Ellen! to try to hinder me from entering. But
I'll take this walk every morning in future: may I, uncle? and sometimes
bring papa. Won't you be glad to see us?'
'Of course,' replied the uncle, with a hardly suppressed grimace,
resulting from his deep aversion to both the proposed visitors. 'But
stay,' he continued, turning towards the young lady. 'Now I think of it,
I'd better tell you. Mr. Linton has a prejudice against me: we
quarrelled at one time of our lives, with unchristian ferocity; and, if
you mention coming here to him, he'll put a veto on your visits
altogether. Therefore, you must not mention it, unless you be careless
of seeing your cousin hereafter: you may come, if you will, but you must
not mention it.'
'Why did you quarrel?' asked Catherine, considerably crestfallen.
'He thought me too poor to wed his sister,' answered Heathcliff, 'and was
grieved that I got her: his pride was hurt, and he'll never forgive it.'
'That's wrong!' said the young lady: 'some time I'll tell him so. But
Linton and I have no share in your quarrel. I'll not come here, then; he
shall come to the Grange.'
'It will be too far for me,' murmured her cousin: 'to walk four miles
would kill me. No, come here, Miss Catherine, now and then: not every
morning, but once or twice a week.'
The father launched towards his son a glance of bitter contempt.
'I am afraid, Nelly, I shall lose my labour,' he muttered to me. 'Miss
Catherine, as the ninny calls her, will discover his value, and send him
to the devil. Now, if it had been Hareton!--Do you know that, twenty
times a day, I covet Hareton, with all his degradation? I'd have loved
the lad had he been some one else. But I think he's safe from _her_
love. I'll pit him against that paltry creature, unless it bestir itself
briskly. We calculate it will scarcely last till it is eighteen. Oh,
confound the vapid thing! He's absorbed in drying his feet, and never
looks at her.--Linton!'
'Yes, father,' answered the boy.
'Have you nothing to show your cousin anywhere about, not even a rabbit
or a weasel's nest? Take her into the garden, before you change your
shoes; and into the stable to see your horse.'
'Wouldn't you rather sit here?' asked Linton, addressing Cathy in a tone
which expressed reluctance to move again.
'I don't know,' she replied, casting a longing look to the door, and
evidently eager to be active.
He kept his seat, and shrank closer to the fire. Heathcliff rose, and
went into the kitchen, and from thence to the yard, calling out for
Hareton. Hareton responded, and presently the two re-entered. The young
man had been washing himself, as was visible by the glow on his cheeks
and his wetted hair.
'Oh, I'll ask _you_, uncle,' cried Miss Cathy, recollecting the
housekeeper's assertion. 'That is not my cousin, is he?'
'Yes,' he, replied, 'your mother's nephew. Don't you like him!'
Catherine looked queer.
'Is he not a handsome lad?' he continued.
The uncivil little thing stood on tiptoe, and whispered a sentence in
Heathcliff's ear. He laughed; Hareton darkened: I perceived he was very
sensitive to suspected slights, and had obviously a dim notion of his
inferiority. But his master or guardian chased the frown by exclaiming--
'You'll be the favourite among us, Hareton! She says you are a--What was
it? Well, something very flattering. Here! you go with her round the
farm. And behave like a gentleman, mind! Don't use any bad words; and
don't stare when the young lady is not looking at you, and be ready to
hide your face when she is; and, when you speak, say your words slowly,
and keep your hands out of your pockets. Be off, and entertain her as
nicely as you can.'
He watched the couple walking past the window. Earnshaw had his
countenance completely averted from his companion. He seemed studying
the familiar landscape with a stranger's and an artist's interest.
Catherine took a sly look at him, expressing small admiration. She then
turned her attention to seeking out objects of amusement for herself, and
tripped merrily on, lilting a tune to supply the lack of conversation.
'I've tied his tongue,' observed Heathcliff. 'He'll not venture a single
syllable all the time! Nelly, you recollect meat his age--nay, some
years younger. Did I ever look so stupid: so "gaumless," as Joseph calls
'Worse,' I replied, 'because more sullen with it.'
'I've a pleasure in him,' he continued, reflecting aloud. 'He has
satisfied my expectations. If he were a born fool I should not enjoy it
half so much. But he's no fool; and I can sympathise with all his
feelings, having felt them myself. I know what he suffers now, for
instance, exactly: it is merely a beginning of what he shall suffer,
though. And he'll never be able to emerge from his bathos of coarseness
and ignorance. I've got him faster than his scoundrel of a father
secured me, and lower; for he takes a pride in his brutishness. I've
taught him to scorn everything extra-animal as silly and weak. Don't you
think Hindley would be proud of his son, if he could see him? almost as
proud as I am of mine. But there's this difference; one is gold put to
the use of paving-stones, and the other is tin polished to ape a service
of silver. _Mine_ has nothing valuable about it; yet I shall have the
merit of making it go as far as such poor stuff can go. _His_ had first-
rate qualities, and they are lost: rendered worse than unavailing. I
have nothing to regret; he would have more than any but I are aware of.
And the best of it is, Hareton is damnably fond of me! You'll own that
I've outmatched Hindley there. If the dead villain could rise from his
grave to abuse me for his offspring's wrongs, I should have the fun of
seeing the said offspring fight him back again, indignant that he should
dare to rail at the one friend he has in the world!'
Heathcliff chuckled a fiendish laugh at the idea. I made no reply,
because I saw that he expected none. Meantime, our young companion, who
sat too removed from us to hear what was said, began to evince symptoms
of uneasiness, probably repenting that he had denied himself the treat of
Catherine's society for fear of a little fatigue. His father remarked
the restless glances wandering to the window, and the hand irresolutely
extended towards his cap.
'Get up, you idle boy!' he exclaimed, with assumed heartiness.
'Away after them! they are just at the corner, by the stand of hives.'
Linton gathered his energies, and left the hearth. The lattice was open,
and, as he stepped out, I heard Cathy inquiring of her unsociable
attendant what was that inscription over the door? Hareton stared up, and
scratched his head like a true clown.
'It's some damnable writing,' he answered. 'I cannot read it.'
'Can't read it?' cried Catherine; 'I can read it: it's English. But I
want to know why it is there.'
Linton giggled: the first appearance of mirth he had exhibited.
'He does not know his letters,' he said to his cousin. 'Could you
believe in the existence of such a colossal dunce?'
'Is he all as he should be?' asked Miss Cathy, seriously; 'or is he
simple: not right? I've questioned him twice now, and each time he
looked so stupid I think he does not understand me. I can hardly
understand him, I'm sure!'
Linton repeated his laugh, and glanced at Hareton tauntingly; who
certainly did not seem quite clear of comprehension at that moment.
'There's nothing the matter but laziness; is there, Earnshaw?' he said.
'My cousin fancies you are an idiot. There you experience the
consequence of scorning "book-larning," as you would say. Have you
noticed, Catherine, his frightful Yorkshire pronunciation?'
'Why, where the devil is the use on't?' growled Hareton, more ready in
answering his daily companion. He was about to enlarge further, but the
two youngsters broke into a noisy fit of merriment: my giddy miss being
delighted to discover that she might turn his strange talk to matter of
'Where is the use of the devil in that sentence?' tittered Linton. 'Papa
told you not to say any bad words, and you can't open your mouth without
one. Do try to behave like a gentleman, now do!'
'If thou weren't more a lass than a lad, I'd fell thee this minute, I
would; pitiful lath of a crater!' retorted the angry boor, retreating,
while his face burnt with mingled rage and mortification! for he was
conscious of being insulted, and embarrassed how to resent it.
Mr. Heathcliff having overheard the conversation, as well as I, smiled
when he saw him go; but immediately afterwards cast a look of singular
aversion on the flippant pair, who remained chattering in the door-way:
the boy finding animation enough while discussing Hareton's faults and
deficiencies, and relating anecdotes of his goings on; and the girl
relishing his pert and spiteful sayings, without considering the
ill-nature they evinced. I began to dislike, more than to compassionate
Linton, and to excuse his father in some measure for holding him cheap.
We stayed till afternoon: I could not tear Miss Cathy away sooner; but
happily my master had not quitted his apartment, and remained ignorant of
our prolonged absence. As we walked home, I would fain have enlightened
my charge on the characters of the people we had quitted: but she got it
into her head that I was prejudiced against them.
'Aha!' she cried, 'you take papa's side, Ellen: you are partial I know;
or else you wouldn't have cheated me so many years into the notion that
Linton lived a long way from here. I'm really extremely angry; only I'm
so pleased I can't show it! But you must hold your tongue about _my_
uncle; he's my uncle, remember; and I'll scold papa for quarrelling with
And so she ran on, till I relinquished the endeavour to convince her of
her mistake. She did not mention the visit that night, because she did
not see Mr. Linton. Next day it all came out, sadly to my chagrin; and
still I was not altogether sorry: I thought the burden of directing and
warning would be more efficiently borne by him than me. But he was too
timid in giving satisfactory reasons for his wish that she should shun
connection with the household of the Heights, and Catherine liked good
reasons for every restraint that harassed her petted will.
'Papa!' she exclaimed, after the morning's salutations, 'guess whom I saw
yesterday, in my walk on the moors. Ah, papa, you started! you've not
done right, have you, now? I saw--but listen, and you shall hear how I
found you out; and Ellen, who is in league with you, and yet pretended to
pity me so, when I kept hoping, and was always disappointed about
Linton's coming back!'
She gave a faithful account of her excursion and its consequences; and my
master, though he cast more than one reproachful look at me, said nothing
till she had concluded. Then he drew her to him, and asked if she knew
why he had concealed Linton's near neighbourhood from her? Could she
think it was to deny her a pleasure that she might harmlessly enjoy?
'It was because you disliked Mr. Heathcliff,' she answered.
'Then you believe I care more for my own feelings than yours, Cathy?' he
said. 'No, it was not because I disliked Mr. Heathcliff, but because Mr.
Heathcliff dislikes me; and is a most diabolical man, delighting to wrong
and ruin those he hates, if they give him the slightest opportunity. I
knew that you could not keep up an acquaintance with your cousin without
being brought into contact with him; and I knew he would detest you on my
account; so for your own good, and nothing else, I took precautions that
you should not see Linton again. I meant to explain this some time as
you grew older, and I'm sorry I delayed it.'
'But Mr. Heathcliff was quite cordial, papa,' observed Catherine, not at
all convinced; 'and he didn't object to our seeing each other: he said I
might come to his house when I pleased; only I must not tell you, because
you had quarrelled with him, and would not forgive him for marrying aunt
Isabella. And you won't. _You_ are the one to be blamed: he is willing
to let us be friends, at least; Linton and I; and you are not.'
My master, perceiving that she would not take his word for her uncle-in-
law's evil disposition, gave a hasty sketch of his conduct to Isabella,
and the manner in which Wuthering Heights became his property. He could
not bear to discourse long upon the topic; for though he spoke little of
it, he still felt the same horror and detestation of his ancient enemy
that had occupied his heart ever since Mrs. Linton's death. 'She might
have been living yet, if it had not been for him!' was his constant
bitter reflection; and, in his eyes, Heathcliff seemed a murderer. Miss
Cathy--conversant with no bad deeds except her own slight acts of
disobedience, injustice, and passion, arising from hot temper and
thoughtlessness, and repented of on the day they were committed--was
amazed at the blackness of spirit that could brood on and cover revenge
for years, and deliberately prosecute its plans without a visitation of
remorse. She appeared so deeply impressed and shocked at this new view
of human nature--excluded from all her studies and all her ideas till
now--that Mr. Edgar deemed it unnecessary to pursue the subject. He
merely added: 'You will know hereafter, darling, why I wish you to avoid
his house and family; now return to your old employments and amusements,
and think no more about them.'
Catherine kissed her father, and sat down quietly to her lessons for a
couple of hours, according to custom; then she accompanied him into the
grounds, and the whole day passed as usual: but in the evening, when she
had retired to her room, and I went to help her to undress, I found her
crying, on her knees by the bedside.
'Oh, fie, silly child!' I exclaimed. 'If you had any real griefs you'd
be ashamed to waste a tear on this little contrariety. You never had one
shadow of substantial sorrow, Miss Catherine. Suppose, for a minute,
that master and I were dead, and you were by yourself in the world: how
would you feel, then? Compare the present occasion with such an
affliction as that, and be thankful for the friends you have, instead of
'I'm not crying for myself, Ellen,' she answered, 'it's for him. He
expected to see me again to-morrow, and there he'll be so disappointed:
and he'll wait for me, and I sha'n't come!'
'Nonsense!' said I, 'do you imagine he has thought as much of you as you
have of him? Hasn't he Hareton for a companion? Not one in a hundred
would weep at losing a relation they had just seen twice, for two
afternoons. Linton will conjecture how it is, and trouble himself no
further about you.'
'But may I not write a note to tell him why I cannot come?' she asked,
rising to her feet. 'And just send those books I promised to lend him?
His books are not as nice as mine, and he wanted to have them extremely,
when I told him how interesting they were. May I not, Ellen?'
'No, indeed! no, indeed!' replied I with decision. 'Then he would write
to you, and there'd never be an end of it. No, Miss Catherine, the
acquaintance must be dropped entirely: so papa expects, and I shall see
that it is done.'
'But how can one little note--?' she recommenced, putting on an imploring
'Silence!' I interrupted. 'We'll not begin with your little notes. Get
She threw at me a very naughty look, so naughty that I would not kiss her
good-night at first: I covered her up, and shut her door, in great
displeasure; but, repenting half-way, I returned softly, and lo! there
was Miss standing at the table with a bit of blank paper before her and a
pencil in her hand, which she guiltily slipped out of sight on my
'You'll get nobody to take that, Catherine,' I said, 'if you write it;
and at present I shall put out your candle.'
I set the extinguisher on the flame, receiving as I did so a slap on my
hand and a petulant 'cross thing!' I then quitted her again, and she
drew the bolt in one of her worst, most peevish humours. The letter was
finished and forwarded to its destination by a milk-fetcher who came from
the village; but that I didn't learn till some time afterwards. Weeks
passed on, and Cathy recovered her temper; though she grew wondrous fond
of stealing off to corners by herself and often, if I came near her
suddenly while reading, she would start and bend over the book, evidently
desirous to hide it; and I detected edges of loose paper sticking out
beyond the leaves. She also got a trick of coming down early in the
morning and lingering about the kitchen, as if she were expecting the
arrival of something; and she had a small drawer in a cabinet in the
library, which she would trifle over for hours, and whose key she took
special care to remove when she left it.
One day, as she inspected this drawer, I observed that the playthings and
trinkets which recently formed its contents were transmuted into bits of
folded paper. My curiosity and suspicions were roused; I determined to
take a peep at her mysterious treasures; so, at night, as soon as she and
my master were safe upstairs, I searched, and readily found among my
house keys one that would fit the lock. Having opened, I emptied the
whole contents into my apron, and took them with me to examine at leisure
in my own chamber. Though I could not but suspect, I was still surprised
to discover that they were a mass of correspondence--daily almost, it
must have been--from Linton Heathcliff: answers to documents forwarded by
her. The earlier dated were embarrassed and short; gradually, however,
they expanded into copious love-letters, foolish, as the age of the
writer rendered natural, yet with touches here and there which I thought
were borrowed from a more experienced source. Some of them struck me as
singularly odd compounds of ardour and flatness; commencing in strong
feeling, and concluding in the affected, wordy style that a schoolboy
might use to a fancied, incorporeal sweetheart. Whether they satisfied
Cathy I don't know; but they appeared very worthless trash to me. After
turning over as many as I thought proper, I tied them in a handkerchief
and set them aside, relocking the vacant drawer.
Following her habit, my young lady descended early, and visited the
kitchen: I watched her go to the door, on the arrival of a certain little
boy; and, while the dairymaid filled his can, she tucked something into
his jacket pocket, and plucked something out. I went round by the
garden, and laid wait for the messenger; who fought valorously to defend
his trust, and we spilt the milk between us; but I succeeded in
abstracting the epistle; and, threatening serious consequences if he did
not look sharp home, I remained under the wall and perused Miss Cathy's
affectionate composition. It was more simple and more eloquent than her
cousin's: very pretty and very silly. I shook my head, and went
meditating into the house. The day being wet, she could not divert
herself with rambling about the park; so, at the conclusion of her
morning studies, she resorted to the solace of the drawer. Her father
sat reading at the table; and I, on purpose, had sought a bit of work in
some unripped fringes of the window-curtain, keeping my eye steadily
fixed on her proceedings. Never did any bird flying back to a plundered
nest, which it had left brimful of chirping young ones, express more
complete despair, in its anguished cries and flutterings, than she by her
single 'Oh!' and the change that transfigured her late happy countenance.
Mr. Linton looked up.
'What is the matter, love? Have you hurt yourself?' he said.
His tone and look assured her _he_ had not been the discoverer of the
'No, papa!' she gasped. 'Ellen! Ellen! come up-stairs--I'm sick!'
I obeyed her summons, and accompanied her out.
'Oh, Ellen! you have got them,' she commenced immediately, dropping on
her knees, when we were enclosed alone. 'Oh, give them to me, and I'll
never, never do so again! Don't tell papa. You have not told papa,
Ellen? say you have not? I've been exceedingly naughty, but I won't do
it any more!'
With a grave severity in my manner I bade her stand up.
'So,' I exclaimed, 'Miss Catherine, you are tolerably far on, it seems:
you may well be ashamed of them! A fine bundle of trash you study in
your leisure hours, to be sure: why, it's good enough to be printed! And
what do you suppose the master will think when I display it before him? I
hav'n't shown it yet, but you needn't imagine I shall keep your
ridiculous secrets. For shame! and you must have led the way in writing
such absurdities: he would not have thought of beginning, I'm certain.'
'I didn't! I didn't!' sobbed Cathy, fit to break her heart. 'I didn't
once think of loving him till--'
'_Loving_!' cried I, as scornfully as I could utter the word. '_Loving_!
Did anybody ever hear the like! I might just as well talk of loving the
miller who comes once a year to buy our corn. Pretty loving, indeed! and
both times together you have seen Linton hardly four hours in your life!
Now here is the babyish trash. I'm going with it to the library; and
we'll see what your father says to such _loving_.'
She sprang at her precious epistles, but I hold them above my head; and
then she poured out further frantic entreaties that I would burn them--do
anything rather than show them. And being really fully as much inclined
to laugh as scold--for I esteemed it all girlish vanity--I at length
relented in a measure, and asked,--'If I consent to burn them, will you
promise faithfully neither to send nor receive a letter again, nor a book
(for I perceive you have sent him books), nor locks of hair, nor rings,
'We don't send playthings,' cried Catherine, her pride overcoming her
'Nor anything at all, then, my lady?' I said. 'Unless you will, here I
'I promise, Ellen!' she cried, catching my dress. 'Oh, put them in the
fire, do, do!'
But when I proceeded to open a place with the poker the sacrifice was too
painful to be borne. She earnestly supplicated that I would spare her
one or two.
'One or two, Ellen, to keep for Linton's sake!'
I unknotted the handkerchief, and commenced dropping them in from an
angle, and the flame curled up the chimney.
'I will have one, you cruel wretch!' she screamed, darting her hand into
the fire, and drawing forth some half-consumed fragments, at the expense
of her fingers.
'Very well--and I will have some to exhibit to papa!' I answered,
shaking back the rest into the bundle, and turning anew to the door.
She emptied her blackened pieces into the flames, and motioned me to
finish the immolation. It was done; I stirred up the ashes, and interred
them under a shovelful of coals; and she mutely, and with a sense of
intense injury, retired to her private apartment. I descended to tell my
master that the young lady's qualm of sickness was almost gone, but I
judged it best for her to lie down a while. She wouldn't dine; but she
reappeared at tea, pale, and red about the eyes, and marvellously subdued
in outward aspect. Next morning I answered the letter by a slip of
paper, inscribed, 'Master Heathcliff is requested to send no more notes
to Miss Linton, as she will not receive them.' And, henceforth, the
little boy came with vacant pockets.