At the close of three weeks I was able to quit my chamber and move about
the house. And on the first occasion of my sitting up in the evening I
asked Catherine to read to me, because my eyes were weak. We were in the
library, the master having gone to bed: she consented, rather
unwillingly, I fancied; and imagining my sort of books did not suit her,
I bid her please herself in the choice of what she perused. She selected
one of her own favourites, and got forward steadily about an hour; then
came frequent questions.
'Ellen, are not you tired? Hadn't you better lie down now? You'll be
sick, keeping up so long, Ellen.'
'No, no, dear, I'm not tired,' I returned, continually.
Perceiving me immovable, she essayed another method of showing her
disrelish for her occupation. It changed to yawning, and stretching,
'Ellen, I'm tired.'
'Give over then and talk,' I answered.
That was worse: she fretted and sighed, and looked at her watch till
eight, and finally went to her room, completely overdone with sleep;
judging by her peevish, heavy look, and the constant rubbing she
inflicted on her eyes. The following night she seemed more impatient
still; and on the third from recovering my company she complained of a
headache, and left me. I thought her conduct odd; and having remained
alone a long while, I resolved on going and inquiring whether she were
better, and asking her to come and lie on the sofa, instead of up-stairs
in the dark. No Catherine could I discover up-stairs, and none below.
The servants affirmed they had not seen her. I listened at Mr. Edgar's
door; all was silence. I returned to her apartment, extinguished my
candle, and seated myself in the window.
The moon shone bright; a sprinkling of snow covered the ground, and I
reflected that she might, possibly, have taken it into her head to walk
about the garden, for refreshment. I did detect a figure creeping along
the inner fence of the park; but it was not my young mistress: on its
emerging into the light, I recognised one of the grooms. He stood a
considerable period, viewing the carriage-road through the grounds; then
started off at a brisk pace, as if he had detected something, and
reappeared presently, leading Miss's pony; and there she was, just
dismounted, and walking by its side. The man took his charge stealthily
across the grass towards the stable. Cathy entered by the
casement-window of the drawing-room, and glided noiselessly up to where I
awaited her. She put the door gently too, slipped off her snowy shoes,
untied her hat, and was proceeding, unconscious of my espionage, to lay
aside her mantle, when I suddenly rose and revealed myself. The surprise
petrified her an instant: she uttered an inarticulate exclamation, and
'My dear Miss Catherine,' I began, too vividly impressed by her recent
kindness to break into a scold, 'where have you been riding out at this
hour? And why should you try to deceive me by telling a tale? Where
have you been? Speak!'
'To the bottom of the park,' she stammered. 'I didn't tell a tale.'
'And nowhere else?' I demanded.
'No,' was the muttered reply.
'Oh, Catherine!' I cried, sorrowfully. 'You know you have been doing
wrong, or you wouldn't be driven to uttering an untruth to me. That does
grieve me. I'd rather be three months ill, than hear you frame a
She sprang forward, and bursting into tears, threw her arms round my
'Well, Ellen, I'm so afraid of you being angry,' she said. 'Promise not
to be angry, and you shall know the very truth: I hate to hide it.'
We sat down in the window-seat; I assured her I would not scold, whatever
her secret might be, and I guessed it, of course; so she commenced--
'I've been to Wuthering Heights, Ellen, and I've never missed going a day
since you fell ill; except thrice before, and twice after you left your
room. I gave Michael books and pictures to prepare Minny every evening,
and to put her back in the stable: you mustn't scold him either, mind. I
was at the Heights by half-past six, and generally stayed till half-past
eight, and then galloped home. It was not to amuse myself that I went: I
was often wretched all the time. Now and then I was happy: once in a
week perhaps. At first, I expected there would be sad work persuading
you to let me keep my word to Linton: for I had engaged to call again
next day, when we quitted him; but, as you stayed up-stairs on the
morrow, I escaped that trouble. While Michael was refastening the lock
of the park door in the afternoon, I got possession of the key, and told
him how my cousin wished me to visit him, because he was sick, and
couldn't come to the Grange; and how papa would object to my going: and
then I negotiated with him about the pony. He is fond of reading, and he
thinks of leaving soon to get married; so he offered, if I would lend him
books out of the library, to do what I wished: but I preferred giving him
my own, and that satisfied him better.
'On my second visit Linton seemed in lively spirits; and Zillah (that is
their housekeeper) made us a clean room and a good fire, and told us
that, as Joseph was out at a prayer-meeting and Hareton Earnshaw was off
with his dogs--robbing our woods of pheasants, as I heard afterwards--we
might do what we liked. She brought me some warm wine and gingerbread,
and appeared exceedingly good-natured, and Linton sat in the arm-chair,
and I in the little rocking chair on the hearth-stone, and we laughed and
talked so merrily, and found so much to say: we planned where we would
go, and what we would do in summer. I needn't repeat that, because you
would call it silly.
'One time, however, we were near quarrelling. He said the pleasantest
manner of spending a hot July day was lying from morning till evening on
a bank of heath in the middle of the moors, with the bees humming
dreamily about among the bloom, and the larks singing high up overhead,
and the blue sky and bright sun shining steadily and cloudlessly. That
was his most perfect idea of heaven's happiness: mine was rocking in a
rustling green tree, with a west wind blowing, and bright white clouds
flitting rapidly above; and not only larks, but throstles, and
blackbirds, and linnets, and cuckoos pouring out music on every side, and
the moors seen at a distance, broken into cool dusky dells; but close by
great swells of long grass undulating in waves to the breeze; and woods
and sounding water, and the whole world awake and wild with joy. He
wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and
dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive;
and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and
he said he could not breathe in mine, and began to grow very snappish. At
last, we agreed to try both, as soon as the right weather came; and then
we kissed each other and were friends.
'After sitting still an hour, I looked at the great room with its smooth
uncarpeted floor, and thought how nice it would be to play in, if we
removed the table; and I asked Linton to call Zillah in to help us, and
we'd have a game at blindman's-buff; she should try to catch us: you used
to, you know, Ellen. He wouldn't: there was no pleasure in it, he said;
but he consented to play at ball with me. We found two in a cupboard,
among a heap of old toys, tops, and hoops, and battledores and
shuttlecocks. One was marked C., and the other H.; I wished to have the
C., because that stood for Catherine, and the H. might be for Heathcliff,
his name; but the bran came out of H., and Linton didn't like it. I beat
him constantly: and he got cross again, and coughed, and returned to his
chair. That night, though, he easily recovered his good humour: he was
charmed with two or three pretty songs--_your_ songs, Ellen; and when I
was obliged to go, he begged and entreated me to come the following
evening; and I promised. Minny and I went flying home as light as air;
and I dreamt of Wuthering Heights and my sweet, darling cousin, till
'On the morrow I was sad; partly because you were poorly, and partly that
I wished my father knew, and approved of my excursions: but it was
beautiful moonlight after tea; and, as I rode on, the gloom cleared. I
shall have another happy evening, I thought to myself; and what delights
me more, my pretty Linton will. I trotted up their garden, and was
turning round to the back, when that fellow Earnshaw met me, took my
bridle, and bid me go in by the front entrance. He patted Minny's neck,
and said she was a bonny beast, and appeared as if he wanted me to speak
to him. I only told him to leave my horse alone, or else it would kick
him. He answered in his vulgar accent, "It wouldn't do mitch hurt if it
did;" and surveyed its legs with a smile. I was half inclined to make it
try; however, he moved off to open the door, and, as he raised the latch,
he looked up to the inscription above, and said, with a stupid mixture of
awkwardness and elation: "Miss Catherine! I can read yon, now."
'"Wonderful," I exclaimed. "Pray let us hear you--you _are_ grown
'He spelt, and drawled over by syllables, the name--"Hareton Earnshaw."
'"And the figures?" I cried, encouragingly, perceiving that he came to a
'"I cannot tell them yet," he answered.
'"Oh, you dunce!" I said, laughing heartily at his failure.
'The fool stared, with a grin hovering about his lips, and a scowl
gathering over his eyes, as if uncertain whether he might not join in my
mirth: whether it were not pleasant familiarity, or what it really was,
contempt. I settled his doubts, by suddenly retrieving my gravity and
desiring him to walk away, for I came to see Linton, not him. He
reddened--I saw that by the moonlight--dropped his hand from the latch,
and skulked off, a picture of mortified vanity. He imagined himself to
be as accomplished as Linton, I suppose, because he could spell his own
name; and was marvellously discomfited that I didn't think the same.'
'Stop, Miss Catherine, dear!'--I interrupted. 'I shall not scold, but I
don't like your conduct there. If you had remembered that Hareton was
your cousin as much as Master Heathcliff, you would have felt how
improper it was to behave in that way. At least, it was praiseworthy
ambition for him to desire to be as accomplished as Linton; and probably
he did not learn merely to show off: you had made him ashamed of his
ignorance before, I have no doubt; and he wished to remedy it and please
you. To sneer at his imperfect attempt was very bad breeding. Had you
been brought up in his circumstances, would you be less rude? He was as
quick and as intelligent a child as ever you were; and I'm hurt that he
should be despised now, because that base Heathcliff has treated him so
'Well, Ellen, you won't cry about it, will you?' she exclaimed, surprised
at my earnestness. 'But wait, and you shall hear if he conned his A B C
to please me; and if it were worth while being civil to the brute. I
entered; Linton was lying on the settle, and half got up to welcome me.
'"I'm ill to-night, Catherine, love," he said; "and you must have all the
talk, and let me listen. Come, and sit by me. I was sure you wouldn't
break your word, and I'll make you promise again, before you go."
'I knew now that I mustn't tease him, as he was ill; and I spoke softly
and put no questions, and avoided irritating him in any way. I had
brought some of my nicest books for him: he asked me to read a little of
one, and I was about to comply, when Earnshaw burst the door open: having
gathered venom with reflection. He advanced direct to us, seized Linton
by the arm, and swung him off the seat.
'"Get to thy own room!" he said, in a voice almost inarticulate with
passion; and his face looked swelled and furious. "Take her there if she
comes to see thee: thou shalln't keep me out of this. Begone wi' ye
'He swore at us, and left Linton no time to answer, nearly throwing him
into the kitchen; and he clenched his fist as I followed, seemingly
longing to knock me down. I was afraid for a moment, and I let one
volume fall; he kicked it after me, and shut us out. I heard a
malignant, crackly laugh by the fire, and turning, beheld that odious
Joseph standing rubbing his bony hands, and quivering.
'"I wer sure he'd sarve ye out! He's a grand lad! He's getten t' raight
sperrit in him! _He_ knaws--ay, he knaws, as weel as I do, who sud be t'
maister yonder--Ech, ech, ech! He made ye skift properly! Ech, ech,
'"Where must we go?" I asked of my cousin, disregarding the old wretch's
'Linton was white and trembling. He was not pretty then, Ellen: oh, no!
he looked frightful; for his thin face and large eyes were wrought into
an expression of frantic, powerless fury. He grasped the handle of the
door, and shook it: it was fastened inside.
'"If you don't let me in, I'll kill you!--If you don't let me in, I'll
kill you!" he rather shrieked than said. "Devil! devil!--I'll kill
you--I'll kill you!"
Joseph uttered his croaking laugh again.
'"Thear, that's t' father!" he cried. "That's father! We've allas
summut o' either side in us. Niver heed, Hareton, lad--dunnut be
'feard--he cannot get at thee!"
'I took hold of Linton's hands, and tried to pull him away; but he
shrieked so shockingly that I dared not proceed. At last his cries were
choked by a dreadful fit of coughing; blood gushed from his mouth, and he
fell on the ground. I ran into the yard, sick with terror; and called
for Zillah, as loud as I could. She soon heard me: she was milking the
cows in a shed behind the barn, and hurrying from her work, she inquired
what there was to do? I hadn't breath to explain; dragging her in, I
looked about for Linton. Earnshaw had come out to examine the mischief
he had caused, and he was then conveying the poor thing up-stairs. Zillah
and I ascended after him; but he stopped me at the top of the steps, and
said I shouldn't go in: I must go home. I exclaimed that he had killed
Linton, and I _would_ enter. Joseph locked the door, and declared I
should do "no sich stuff," and asked me whether I were "bahn to be as mad
as him." I stood crying till the housekeeper reappeared. She affirmed
he would be better in a bit, but he couldn't do with that shrieking and
din; and she took me, and nearly carried me into the house.
'Ellen, I was ready to tear my hair off my head! I sobbed and wept so
that my eyes were almost blind; and the ruffian you have such sympathy
with stood opposite: presuming every now and then to bid me "wisht," and
denying that it was his fault; and, finally, frightened by my assertions
that I would tell papa, and that he should be put in prison and hanged,
he commenced blubbering himself, and hurried out to hide his cowardly
agitation. Still, I was not rid of him: when at length they compelled me
to depart, and I had got some hundred yards off the premises, he suddenly
issued from the shadow of the road-side, and checked Minny and took hold
'"Miss Catherine, I'm ill grieved," he began, "but it's rayther too bad--"
'I gave him a cut with my whip, thinking perhaps he would murder me. He
let go, thundering one of his horrid curses, and I galloped home more
than half out of my senses.
'I didn't bid you good-night that evening, and I didn't go to Wuthering
Heights the next: I wished to go exceedingly; but I was strangely
excited, and dreaded to hear that Linton was dead, sometimes; and
sometimes shuddered at the thought of encountering Hareton. On the third
day I took courage: at least, I couldn't bear longer suspense, and stole
off once more. I went at five o'clock, and walked; fancying I might
manage to creep into the house, and up to Linton's room, unobserved.
However, the dogs gave notice of my approach. Zillah received me, and
saying "the lad was mending nicely," showed me into a small, tidy,
carpeted apartment, where, to my inexpressible joy, I beheld Linton laid
on a little sofa, reading one of my books. But he would neither speak to
me nor look at me, through a whole hour, Ellen: he has such an unhappy
temper. And what quite confounded me, when he did open his mouth, it was
to utter the falsehood that I had occasioned the uproar, and Hareton was
not to blame! Unable to reply, except passionately, I got up and walked
from the room. He sent after me a faint "Catherine!" He did not reckon
on being answered so: but I wouldn't turn back; and the morrow was the
second day on which I stayed at home, nearly determined to visit him no
more. But it was so miserable going to bed and getting up, and never
hearing anything about him, that my resolution melted into air before it
was properly formed. It had appeared wrong to take the journey once; now
it seemed wrong to refrain. Michael came to ask if he must saddle Minny;
I said "Yes," and considered myself doing a duty as she bore me over the
hills. I was forced to pass the front windows to get to the court: it
was no use trying to conceal my presence.
'"Young master is in the house," said Zillah, as she saw me making for
the parlour. I went in; Earnshaw was there also, but he quitted the room
directly. Linton sat in the great arm-chair half asleep; walking up to
the fire, I began in a serious tone, partly meaning it to be true--
'"As you don't like me, Linton, and as you think I come on purpose to
hurt you, and pretend that I do so every time, this is our last meeting:
let us say good-bye; and tell Mr. Heathcliff that you have no wish to see
me, and that he mustn't invent any more falsehoods on the subject."
'"Sit down and take your hat off, Catherine," he answered. "You are so
much happier than I am, you ought to be better. Papa talks enough of my
defects, and shows enough scorn of me, to make it natural I should doubt
myself. I doubt whether I am not altogether as worthless as he calls me,
frequently; and then I feel so cross and bitter, I hate everybody! I am
worthless, and bad in temper, and bad in spirit, almost always; and, if
you choose, you may say good-bye: you'll get rid of an annoyance. Only,
Catherine, do me this justice: believe that if I might be as sweet, and
as kind, and as good as you are, I would be; as willingly, and more so,
than as happy and as healthy. And believe that your kindness has made me
love you deeper than if I deserved your love: and though I couldn't, and
cannot help showing my nature to you, I regret it and repent it; and
shall regret and repent it till I die!"
'I felt he spoke the truth; and I felt I must forgive him: and, though we
should quarrel the next moment, I must forgive him again. We were
reconciled; but we cried, both of us, the whole time I stayed: not
entirely for sorrow; yet I _was_ sorry Linton had that distorted nature.
He'll never let his friends be at ease, and he'll never be at ease
himself! I have always gone to his little parlour, since that night;
because his father returned the day after.
'About three times, I think, we have been merry and hopeful, as we were
the first evening; the rest of my visits were dreary and troubled: now
with his selfishness and spite, and now with his sufferings: but I've
learned to endure the former with nearly as little resentment as the
latter. Mr. Heathcliff purposely avoids me: I have hardly seen him at
all. Last Sunday, indeed, coming earlier than usual, I heard him abusing
poor Linton cruelly for his conduct of the night before. I can't tell
how he knew of it, unless he listened. Linton had certainly behaved
provokingly: however, it was the business of nobody but me, and I
interrupted Mr. Heathcliff's lecture by entering and telling him so. He
burst into a laugh, and went away, saying he was glad I took that view of
the matter. Since then, I've told Linton he must whisper his bitter
things. Now, Ellen, you have heard all. I can't be prevented from going
to Wuthering Heights, except by inflicting misery on two people; whereas,
if you'll only not tell papa, my going need disturb the tranquillity of
none. You'll not tell, will you? It will be very heartless, if you do.'
'I'll make up my mind on that point by to-morrow, Miss Catherine,' I
replied. 'It requires some study; and so I'll leave you to your rest,
and go think it over.'
I thought it over aloud, in my master's presence; walking straight from
her room to his, and relating the whole story: with the exception of her
conversations with her cousin, and any mention of Hareton. Mr. Linton
was alarmed and distressed, more than he would acknowledge to me. In the
morning, Catherine learnt my betrayal of her confidence, and she learnt
also that her secret visits were to end. In vain she wept and writhed
against the interdict, and implored her father to have pity on Linton:
all she got to comfort her was a promise that he would write and give him
leave to come to the Grange when he pleased; but explaining that he must
no longer expect to see Catherine at Wuthering Heights. Perhaps, had he
been aware of his nephew's disposition and state of health, he would have
seen fit to withhold even that slight consolation.