'These things happened last winter, sir,' said Mrs. Dean; 'hardly more
than a year ago. Last winter, I did not think, at another twelve months'
end, I should be amusing a stranger to the family with relating them!
Yet, who knows how long you'll be a stranger? You're too young to rest
always contented, living by yourself; and I some way fancy no one could
see Catherine Linton and not love her. You smile; but why do you look so
lively and interested when I talk about her? and why have you asked me to
hang her picture over your fireplace? and why--?'
'Stop, my good friend!' I cried. 'It may be very possible that _I_
should love her; but would she love me? I doubt it too much to venture
my tranquillity by running into temptation: and then my home is not here.
I'm of the busy world, and to its arms I must return. Go on. Was
Catherine obedient to her father's commands?'
'She was,' continued the housekeeper. 'Her affection for him was still
the chief sentiment in her heart; and he spoke without anger: he spoke in
the deep tenderness of one about to leave his treasure amid perils and
foes, where his remembered words would be the only aid that he could
bequeath to guide her. He said to me, a few days afterwards, "I wish my
nephew would write, Ellen, or call. Tell me, sincerely, what you think
of him: is he changed for the better, or is there a prospect of
improvement, as he grows a man?"
'"He's very delicate, sir," I replied; "and scarcely likely to reach
manhood: but this I can say, he does not resemble his father; and if Miss
Catherine had the misfortune to marry him, he would not be beyond her
control: unless she were extremely and foolishly indulgent. However,
master, you'll have plenty of time to get acquainted with him and see
whether he would suit her: it wants four years and more to his being of
Edgar sighed; and, walking to the window, looked out towards Gimmerton
Kirk. It was a misty afternoon, but the February sun shone dimly, and we
could just distinguish the two fir-trees in the yard, and the sparely-
'I've prayed often,' he half soliloquised, 'for the approach of what is
coming; and now I begin to shrink, and fear it. I thought the memory of
the hour I came down that glen a bridegroom would be less sweet than the
anticipation that I was soon, in a few months, or, possibly, weeks, to be
carried up, and laid in its lonely hollow! Ellen, I've been very happy
with my little Cathy: through winter nights and summer days she was a
living hope at my side. But I've been as happy musing by myself among
those stones, under that old church: lying, through the long June
evenings, on the green mound of her mother's grave, and wishing--yearning
for the time when I might lie beneath it. What can I do for Cathy? How
must I quit her? I'd not care one moment for Linton being Heathcliff's
son; nor for his taking her from me, if he could console her for my loss.
I'd not care that Heathcliff gained his ends, and triumphed in robbing me
of my last blessing! But should Linton be unworthy--only a feeble tool
to his father--I cannot abandon her to him! And, hard though it be to
crush her buoyant spirit, I must persevere in making her sad while I
live, and leaving her solitary when I die. Darling! I'd rather resign
her to God, and lay her in the earth before me.'
'Resign her to God as it is, sir,' I answered, 'and if we should lose
you--which may He forbid--under His providence, I'll stand her friend and
counsellor to the last. Miss Catherine is a good girl: I don't fear that
she will go wilfully wrong; and people who do their duty are always
Spring advanced; yet my master gathered no real strength, though he
resumed his walks in the grounds with his daughter. To her inexperienced
notions, this itself was a sign of convalescence; and then his cheek was
often flushed, and his eyes were bright; she felt sure of his recovering.
On her seventeenth birthday, he did not visit the churchyard: it was
raining, and I observed--'You'll surely not go out to-night, sir?'
He answered,--'No, I'll defer it this year a little longer.' He wrote
again to Linton, expressing his great desire to see him; and, had the
invalid been presentable, I've no doubt his father would have permitted
him to come. As it was, being instructed, he returned an answer,
intimating that Mr. Heathcliff objected to his calling at the Grange; but
his uncle's kind remembrance delighted him, and he hoped to meet him
sometimes in his rambles, and personally to petition that his cousin and
he might not remain long so utterly divided.
That part of his letter was simple, and probably his own. Heathcliff
knew he could plead eloquently for Catherine's company, then.
'I do not ask,' he said, 'that she may visit here; but am I never to see
her, because my father forbids me to go to her home, and you forbid her
to come to mine? Do, now and then, ride with her towards the Heights;
and let us exchange a few words, in your presence! We have done nothing
to deserve this separation; and you are not angry with me: you have no
reason to dislike me, you allow, yourself. Dear uncle! send me a kind
note to-morrow, and leave to join you anywhere you please, except at
Thrushcross Grange. I believe an interview would convince you that my
father's character is not mine: he affirms I am more your nephew than his
son; and though I have faults which render me unworthy of Catherine, she
has excused them, and for her sake, you should also. You inquire after
my health--it is better; but while I remain cut off from all hope, and
doomed to solitude, or the society of those who never did and never will
like me, how can I be cheerful and well?'
Edgar, though he felt for the boy, could not consent to grant his
request; because he could not accompany Catherine. He said, in summer,
perhaps, they might meet: meantime, he wished him to continue writing at
intervals, and engaged to give him what advice and comfort he was able by
letter; being well aware of his hard position in his family. Linton
complied; and had he been unrestrained, would probably have spoiled all
by filling his epistles with complaints and lamentations: but his father
kept a sharp watch over him; and, of course, insisted on every line that
my master sent being shown; so, instead of penning his peculiar personal
sufferings and distresses, the themes constantly uppermost in his
thoughts, he harped on the cruel obligation of being held asunder from
his friend and love; and gently intimated that Mr. Linton must allow an
interview soon, or he should fear he was purposely deceiving him with
Cathy was a powerful ally at home; and between them they at length
persuaded my master to acquiesce in their having a ride or a walk
together about once a week, under my guardianship, and on the moors
nearest the Grange: for June found him still declining. Though he had
set aside yearly a portion of his income for my young lady's fortune, he
had a natural desire that she might retain--or at least return in a short
time to--the house of her ancestors; and he considered her only prospect
of doing that was by a union with his heir; he had no idea that the
latter was failing almost as fast as himself; nor had any one, I believe:
no doctor visited the Heights, and no one saw Master Heathcliff to make
report of his condition among us. I, for my part, began to fancy my
forebodings were false, and that he must be actually rallying, when he
mentioned riding and walking on the moors, and seemed so earnest in
pursuing his object. I could not picture a father treating a dying child
as tyrannically and wickedly as I afterwards learned Heathcliff had
treated him, to compel this apparent eagerness: his efforts redoubling
the more imminently his avaricious and unfeeling plans were threatened
with defeat by death.