Seven days glided away, every one marking its course by the henceforth
rapid alteration of Edgar Linton's state. The havoc that months had
previously wrought was now emulated by the inroads of hours. Catherine
we would fain have deluded yet; but her own quick spirit refused to
delude her: it divined in secret, and brooded on the dreadful
probability, gradually ripening into certainty. She had not the heart to
mention her ride, when Thursday came round; I mentioned it for her, and
obtained permission to order her out of doors: for the library, where her
father stopped a short time daily--the brief period he could bear to sit
up--and his chamber, had become her whole world. She grudged each moment
that did not find her bending over his pillow, or seated by his side. Her
countenance grew wan with watching and sorrow, and my master gladly
dismissed her to what he flattered himself would be a happy change of
scene and society; drawing comfort from the hope that she would not now
be left entirely alone after his death.
He had a fixed idea, I guessed by several observations he let fall, that,
as his nephew resembled him in person, he would resemble him in mind; for
Linton's letters bore few or no indications of his defective character.
And I, through pardonable weakness, refrained from correcting the error;
asking myself what good there would be in disturbing his last moments
with information that he had neither power nor opportunity to turn to
We deferred our excursion till the afternoon; a golden afternoon of
August: every breath from the hills so full of life, that it seemed
whoever respired it, though dying, might revive. Catherine's face was
just like the landscape--shadows and sunshine flitting over it in rapid
succession; but the shadows rested longer, and the sunshine was more
transient; and her poor little heart reproached itself for even that
passing forgetfulness of its cares.
We discerned Linton watching at the same spot he had selected before. My
young mistress alighted, and told me that, as she was resolved to stay a
very little while, I had better hold the pony and remain on horseback;
but I dissented: I wouldn't risk losing sight of the charge committed to
me a minute; so we climbed the slope of heath together. Master
Heathcliff received us with greater animation on this occasion: not the
animation of high spirits though, nor yet of joy; it looked more like
'It is late!' he said, speaking short and with difficulty. 'Is not your
father very ill? I thought you wouldn't come.'
'_Why_ won't you be candid?' cried Catherine, swallowing her greeting.
'Why cannot you say at once you don't want me? It is strange, Linton,
that for the second time you have brought me here on purpose, apparently
to distress us both, and for no reason besides!'
Linton shivered, and glanced at her, half supplicating, half ashamed; but
his cousin's patience was not sufficient to endure this enigmatical
'My father _is_ very ill,' she said; 'and why am I called from his
bedside? Why didn't you send to absolve me from my promise, when you
wished I wouldn't keep it? Come! I desire an explanation: playing and
trifling are completely banished out of my mind; and I can't dance
attendance on your affectations now!'
'My affectations!' he murmured; 'what are they? For heaven's sake,
Catherine, don't look so angry! Despise me as much as you please; I am a
worthless, cowardly wretch: I can't be scorned enough; but I'm too mean
for your anger. Hate my father, and spare me for contempt.'
'Nonsense!' cried Catherine in a passion. 'Foolish, silly boy! And
there! he trembles: as if I were really going to touch him! You needn't
bespeak contempt, Linton: anybody will have it spontaneously at your
service. Get off! I shall return home: it is folly dragging you from
the hearth-stone, and pretending--what do we pretend? Let go my frock!
If I pitied you for crying and looking so very frightened, you should
spurn such pity. Ellen, tell him how disgraceful this conduct is. Rise,
and don't degrade yourself into an abject reptile--_don't_!'
With streaming face and an expression of agony, Linton had thrown his
nerveless frame along the ground: he seemed convulsed with exquisite
'Oh!' he sobbed, 'I cannot bear it! Catherine, Catherine, I'm a traitor,
too, and I dare not tell you! But leave me, and I shall be killed!
_Dear_ Catherine, my life is in your hands: and you have said you loved
me, and if you did, it wouldn't harm you. You'll not go, then? kind,
sweet, good Catherine! And perhaps you _will_ consent--and he'll let me
die with you!'
My young lady, on witnessing his intense anguish, stooped to raise him.
The old feeling of indulgent tenderness overcame her vexation, and she
grew thoroughly moved and alarmed.
'Consent to what?' she asked. 'To stay! tell me the meaning of this
strange talk, and I will. You contradict your own words, and distract
me! Be calm and frank, and confess at once all that weighs on your
heart. You wouldn't injure me, Linton, would you? You wouldn't let any
enemy hurt me, if you could prevent it? I'll believe you are a coward,
for yourself, but not a cowardly betrayer of your best friend.'
'But my father threatened me,' gasped the boy, clasping his attenuated
fingers, 'and I dread him--I dread him! I _dare_ not tell!'
'Oh, well!' said Catherine, with scornful compassion, 'keep your secret:
_I'm_ no coward. Save yourself: I'm not afraid!'
Her magnanimity provoked his tears: he wept wildly, kissing her
supporting hands, and yet could not summon courage to speak out. I was
cogitating what the mystery might be, and determined Catherine should
never suffer to benefit him or any one else, by my good will; when,
hearing a rustle among the ling, I looked up and saw Mr. Heathcliff
almost close upon us, descending the Heights. He didn't cast a glance
towards my companions, though they were sufficiently near for Linton's
sobs to be audible; but hailing me in the almost hearty tone he assumed
to none besides, and the sincerity of which I couldn't avoid doubting, he
'It is something to see you so near to my house, Nelly. How are you at
the Grange? Let us hear. The rumour goes,' he added, in a lower tone,
'that Edgar Linton is on his death-bed: perhaps they exaggerate his
'No; my master is dying,' I replied: 'it is true enough. A sad thing it
will be for us all, but a blessing for him!'
'How long will he last, do you think?' he asked.
'I don't know,' I said.
'Because,' he continued, looking at the two young people, who were fixed
under his eye--Linton appeared as if he could not venture to stir or
raise his head, and Catherine could not move, on his account--'because
that lad yonder seems determined to beat me; and I'd thank his uncle to
be quick, and go before him! Hallo! has the whelp been playing that game
long? I _did_ give him some lessons about snivelling. Is he pretty
lively with Miss Linton generally?'
'Lively? no--he has shown the greatest distress,' I answered. 'To see
him, I should say, that instead of rambling with his sweetheart on the
hills, he ought to be in bed, under the hands of a doctor.'
'He shall be, in a day or two,' muttered Heathcliff. 'But first--get up,
Linton! Get up!' he shouted. 'Don't grovel on the ground there up, this
Linton had sunk prostrate again in another paroxysm of helpless fear,
caused by his father's glance towards him, I suppose: there was nothing
else to produce such humiliation. He made several efforts to obey, but
his little strength was annihilated for the time, and he fell back again
with a moan. Mr. Heathcliff advanced, and lifted him to lean against a
ridge of turf.
'Now,' said he, with curbed ferocity, 'I'm getting angry and if you don't
command that paltry spirit of yours--_damn_ you! get up directly!'
'I will, father,' he panted. 'Only, let me alone, or I shall faint. I've
done as you wished, I'm sure. Catherine will tell you that I--that
I--have been cheerful. Ah! keep by me, Catherine; give me your hand.'
'Take mine,' said his father; 'stand on your feet. There now--she'll
lend you her arm: that's right, look at her. You would imagine I was the
devil himself, Miss Linton, to excite such horror. Be so kind as to walk
home with him, will you? He shudders if I touch him.'
'Linton dear!' whispered Catherine, 'I can't go to Wuthering Heights:
papa has forbidden me. He'll not harm you: why are you so afraid?'
'I can never re-enter that house,' he answered. 'I'm _not_ to re-enter
it without you!'
'Stop!' cried his father. 'We'll respect Catherine's filial scruples.
Nelly, take him in, and I'll follow your advice concerning the doctor,
'You'll do well,' replied I. 'But I must remain with my mistress: to
mind your son is not my business.'
'You are very stiff,' said Heathcliff, 'I know that: but you'll force me
to pinch the baby and make it scream before it moves your charity. Come,
then, my hero. Are you willing to return, escorted by me?'
He approached once more, and made as if he would seize the fragile being;
but, shrinking back, Linton clung to his cousin, and implored her to
accompany him, with a frantic importunity that admitted no denial.
However I disapproved, I couldn't hinder her: indeed, how could she have
refused him herself? What was filling him with dread we had no means of
discerning; but there he was, powerless under its gripe, and any addition
seemed capable of shocking him into idiotcy. We reached the threshold;
Catherine walked in, and I stood waiting till she had conducted the
invalid to a chair, expecting her out immediately; when Mr. Heathcliff,
pushing me forward, exclaimed--'My house is not stricken with the plague,
Nelly; and I have a mind to be hospitable to-day: sit down, and allow me
to shut the door.'
He shut and locked it also. I started.
'You shall have tea before you go home,' he added. 'I am by myself.
Hareton is gone with some cattle to the Lees, and Zillah and Joseph are
off on a journey of pleasure; and, though I'm used to being alone, I'd
rather have some interesting company, if I can get it. Miss Linton, take
your seat by _him_. I give you what I have: the present is hardly worth
accepting; but I have nothing else to offer. It is Linton, I mean. How
she does stare! It's odd what a savage feeling I have to anything that
seems afraid of me! Had I been born where laws are less strict and
tastes less dainty, I should treat myself to a slow vivisection of those
two, as an evening's amusement.'
He drew in his breath, struck the table, and swore to himself, 'By hell!
I hate them.'
'I am not afraid of you!' exclaimed Catherine, who could not hear the
latter part of his speech. She stepped close up; her black eyes flashing
with passion and resolution. 'Give me that key: I will have it!' she
said. 'I wouldn't eat or drink here, if I were starving.'
Heathcliff had the key in his hand that remained on the table. He looked
up, seized with a sort of surprise at her boldness; or, possibly,
reminded, by her voice and glance, of the person from whom she inherited
it. She snatched at the instrument, and half succeeded in getting it out
of his loosened fingers: but her action recalled him to the present; he
recovered it speedily.
'Now, Catherine Linton,' he said, 'stand off, or I shall knock you down;
and, that will make Mrs. Dean mad.'
Regardless of this warning, she captured his closed hand and its contents
again. 'We will go!' she repeated, exerting her utmost efforts to cause
the iron muscles to relax; and finding that her nails made no impression,
she applied her teeth pretty sharply. Heathcliff glanced at me a glance
that kept me from interfering a moment. Catherine was too intent on his
fingers to notice his face. He opened them suddenly, and resigned the
object of dispute; but, ere she had well secured it, he seized her with
the liberated hand, and, pulling her on his knee, administered with the
other a shower of terrific slaps on both sides of the head, each
sufficient to have fulfilled his threat, had she been able to fall.'
At this diabolical violence I rushed on him furiously. 'You villain!' I
began to cry, 'you villain!' A touch on the chest silenced me: I am
stout, and soon put out of breath; and, what with that and the rage, I
staggered dizzily back and felt ready to suffocate, or to burst a blood-
vessel. The scene was over in two minutes; Catherine, released, put her
two hands to her temples, and looked just as if she were not sure whether
her ears were off or on. She trembled like a reed, poor thing, and leant
against the table perfectly bewildered.
'I know how to chastise children, you see,' said the scoundrel, grimly,
as he stooped to repossess himself of the key, which had dropped to the
floor. 'Go to Linton now, as I told you; and cry at your ease! I shall
be your father, to-morrow--all the father you'll have in a few days--and
you shall have plenty of that. You can bear plenty; you're no weakling:
you shall have a daily taste, if I catch such a devil of a temper in your
Cathy ran to me instead of Linton, and knelt down and put her burning
cheek on my lap, weeping aloud. Her cousin had shrunk into a corner of
the settle, as quiet as a mouse, congratulating himself, I dare say, that
the correction had alighted on another than him. Mr. Heathcliff,
perceiving us all confounded, rose, and expeditiously made the tea
himself. The cups and saucers were laid ready. He poured it out, and
handed me a cup.
'Wash away your spleen,' he said. 'And help your own naughty pet and
mine. It is not poisoned, though I prepared it. I'm going out to seek
Our first thought, on his departure, was to force an exit somewhere. We
tried the kitchen door, but that was fastened outside: we looked at the
windows--they were too narrow for even Cathy's little figure.
'Master Linton,' I cried, seeing we were regularly imprisoned, 'you know
what your diabolical father is after, and you shall tell us, or I'll box
your ears, as he has done your cousin's.'
'Yes, Linton, you must tell,' said Catherine. 'It was for your sake I
came; and it will be wickedly ungrateful if you refuse.'
'Give me some tea, I'm thirsty, and then I'll tell you,' he answered.
'Mrs. Dean, go away. I don't like you standing over me. Now, Catherine,
you are letting your tears fall into my cup. I won't drink that. Give
me another.' Catherine pushed another to him, and wiped her face. I
felt disgusted at the little wretch's composure, since he was no longer
in terror for himself. The anguish he had exhibited on the moor subsided
as soon as ever he entered Wuthering Heights; so I guessed he had been
menaced with an awful visitation of wrath if he failed in decoying us
there; and, that accomplished, he had no further immediate fears.
'Papa wants us to be married,' he continued, after sipping some of the
liquid. 'And he knows your papa wouldn't let us marry now; and he's
afraid of my dying if we wait; so we are to be married in the morning,
and you are to stay here all night; and, if you do as he wishes, you
shall return home next day, and take me with you.'
'Take you with her, pitiful changeling!' I exclaimed. '_You_ marry? Why,
the man is mad! or he thinks us fools, every one. And do you imagine
that beautiful young lady, that healthy, hearty girl, will tie herself to
a little perishing monkey like you? Are you cherishing the notion that
anybody, let alone Miss Catherine Linton, would have you for a husband?
You want whipping for bringing us in here at all, with your dastardly
puling tricks: and--don't look so silly, now! I've a very good mind to
shake you severely, for your contemptible treachery, and your imbecile
I did give him a slight shaking; but it brought on the cough, and he took
to his ordinary resource of moaning and weeping, and Catherine rebuked
'Stay all night? No,' she said, looking slowly round. 'Ellen, I'll burn
that door down but I'll get out.'
And she would have commenced the execution of her threat directly, but
Linton was up in alarm for his dear self again. He clasped her in his
two feeble arms sobbing:--'Won't you have me, and save me? not let me
come to the Grange? Oh, darling Catherine! you mustn't go and leave,
after all. You _must_ obey my father--you _must_!'
'I must obey my own,' she replied, 'and relieve him from this cruel
suspense. The whole night! What would he think? He'll be distressed
already. I'll either break or burn a way out of the house. Be quiet!
You're in no danger; but if you hinder me--Linton, I love papa better
than you!' The mortal terror he felt of Mr. Heathcliff's anger restored
to the boy his coward's eloquence. Catherine was near distraught: still,
she persisted that she must go home, and tried entreaty in her turn,
persuading him to subdue his selfish agony. While they were thus
occupied, our jailor re-entered.
'Your beasts have trotted off,' he said, 'and--now Linton! snivelling
again? What has she been doing to you? Come, come--have done, and get
to bed. In a month or two, my lad, you'll be able to pay her back her
present tyrannies with a vigorous hand. You're pining for pure love, are
you not? nothing else in the world: and she shall have you! There, to
bed! Zillah won't be here to-night; you must undress yourself. Hush!
hold your noise! Once in your own room, I'll not come near you: you
needn't fear. By chance, you've managed tolerably. I'll look to the
He spoke these words, holding the door open for his son to pass, and the
latter achieved his exit exactly as a spaniel might which suspected the
person who attended on it of designing a spiteful squeeze. The lock was
re-secured. Heathcliff approached the fire, where my mistress and I
stood silent. Catherine looked up, and instinctively raised her hand to
her cheek: his neighbourhood revived a painful sensation. Anybody else
would have been incapable of regarding the childish act with sternness,
but he scowled on her and muttered--'Oh! you are not afraid of me? Your
courage is well disguised: you seem damnably afraid!'
'I _am_ afraid now,' she replied, 'because, if I stay, papa will be
miserable: and how can I endure making him miserable--when he--when
he--Mr. Heathcliff, let _me_ go home! I promise to marry Linton: papa
would like me to: and I love him. Why should you wish to force me to do
what I'll willingly do of myself?'
'Let him dare to force you,' I cried. 'There's law in the land, thank
God! there is; though we be in an out-of-the-way place. I'd inform if he
were my own son: and it's felony without benefit of clergy!'
'Silence!' said the ruffian. 'To the devil with your clamour! I don't
want _you_ to speak. Miss Linton, I shall enjoy myself remarkably in
thinking your father will be miserable: I shall not sleep for
satisfaction. You could have hit on no surer way of fixing your
residence under my roof for the next twenty-four hours than informing me
that such an event would follow. As to your promise to marry Linton,
I'll take care you shall keep it; for you shall not quit this place till
it is fulfilled.'
'Send Ellen, then, to let papa know I'm safe!' exclaimed Catherine,
weeping bitterly. 'Or marry me now. Poor papa! Ellen, he'll think
we're lost. What shall we do?'
'Not he! He'll think you are tired of waiting on him, and run off for a
little amusement,' answered Heathcliff. 'You cannot deny that you
entered my house of your own accord, in contempt of his injunctions to
the contrary. And it is quite natural that you should desire amusement
at your age; and that you would weary of nursing a sick man, and that man
_only_ your father. Catherine, his happiest days were over when your
days began. He cursed you, I dare say, for coming into the world (I did,
at least); and it would just do if he cursed you as _he_ went out of it.
I'd join him. I don't love you! How should I? Weep away. As far as I
can see, it will be your chief diversion hereafter; unless Linton make
amends for other losses: and your provident parent appears to fancy he
may. His letters of advice and consolation entertained me vastly. In
his last he recommended my jewel to be careful of his; and kind to her
when he got her. Careful and kind--that's paternal. But Linton requires
his whole stock of care and kindness for himself. Linton can play the
little tyrant well. He'll undertake to torture any number of cats, if
their teeth be drawn and their claws pared. You'll be able to tell his
uncle fine tales of his _kindness_, when you get home again, I assure
'You're right there!' I said; 'explain your son's character. Show his
resemblance to yourself: and then, I hope, Miss Cathy will think twice
before she takes the cockatrice!'
'I don't much mind speaking of his amiable qualities now,' he answered;
'because she must either accept him or remain a prisoner, and you along
with her, till your master dies. I can detain you both, quite concealed,
here. If you doubt, encourage her to retract her word, and you'll have
an opportunity of judging!'
'I'll not retract my word,' said Catherine. 'I'll marry him within this
hour, if I may go to Thrushcross Grange afterwards. Mr. Heathcliff,
you're a cruel man, but you're not a fiend; and you won't, from _mere_
malice, destroy irrevocably all my happiness. If papa thought I had left
him on purpose, and if he died before I returned, could I bear to live?
I've given over crying: but I'm going to kneel here, at your knee; and
I'll not get up, and I'll not take my eyes from your face till you look
back at me! No, don't turn away! _do look_! you'll see nothing to
provoke you. I don't hate you. I'm not angry that you struck me. Have
you never loved _anybody_ in all your life, uncle? _never_? Ah! you must
look once. I'm so wretched, you can't help being sorry and pitying me.'
'Keep your eft's fingers off; and move, or I'll kick you!' cried
Heathcliff, brutally repulsing her. 'I'd rather be hugged by a snake.
How the devil can you dream of fawning on me? I _detest_ you!'
He shrugged his shoulders: shook himself, indeed, as if his flesh crept
with aversion; and thrust back his chair; while I got up, and opened my
mouth, to commence a downright torrent of abuse. But I was rendered dumb
in the middle of the first sentence, by a threat that I should be shown
into a room by myself the very next syllable I uttered. It was growing
dark--we heard a sound of voices at the garden-gate. Our host hurried
out instantly: _he_ had his wits about him; _we_ had not. There was a
talk of two or three minutes, and he returned alone.
'I thought it had been your cousin Hareton,' I observed to Catherine. 'I
wish he would arrive! Who knows but he might take our part?'
'It was three servants sent to seek you from the Grange,' said
Heathcliff, overhearing me. 'You should have opened a lattice and called
out: but I could swear that chit is glad you didn't. She's glad to be
obliged to stay, I'm certain.'
At learning the chance we had missed, we both gave vent to our grief
without control; and he allowed us to wail on till nine o'clock. Then he
bid us go upstairs, through the kitchen, to Zillah's chamber; and I
whispered my companion to obey: perhaps we might contrive to get through
the window there, or into a garret, and out by its skylight. The window,
however, was narrow, like those below, and the garret trap was safe from
our attempts; for we were fastened in as before. We neither of us lay
down: Catherine took her station by the lattice, and watched anxiously
for morning; a deep sigh being the only answer I could obtain to my
frequent entreaties that she would try to rest. I seated myself in a
chair, and rocked to and fro, passing harsh judgment on my many
derelictions of duty; from which, it struck me then, all the misfortunes
of my employers sprang. It was not the case, in reality, I am aware; but
it was, in my imagination, that dismal night; and I thought Heathcliff
himself less guilty than I.
At seven o'clock he came, and inquired if Miss Linton had risen. She ran
to the door immediately, and answered, 'Yes.' 'Here, then,' he said,
opening it, and pulling her out. I rose to follow, but he turned the
lock again. I demanded my release.
'Be patient,' he replied; 'I'll send up your breakfast in a while.'
I thumped on the panels, and rattled the latch angrily and Catherine
asked why I was still shut up? He answered, I must try to endure it
another hour, and they went away. I endured it two or three hours; at
length, I heard a footstep: not Heathcliff's.
'I've brought you something to eat,' said a voice; 'oppen t' door!'
Complying eagerly, I beheld Hareton, laden with food enough to last me
'Tak' it,' he added, thrusting the tray into my hand.
'Stay one minute,' I began.
'Nay,' cried he, and retired, regardless of any prayers I could pour
forth to detain him.
And there I remained enclosed the whole day, and the whole of the next
night; and another, and another. Five nights and four days I remained,
altogether, seeing nobody but Hareton once every morning; and he was a
model of a jailor: surly, and dumb, and deaf to every attempt at moving
his sense of justice or compassion.