On the morrow of that Monday, Earnshaw being still unable to follow his
ordinary employments, and therefore remaining about the house, I speedily
found it would be impracticable to retain my charge beside me, as
heretofore. She got downstairs before me, and out into the garden, where
she had seen her cousin performing some easy work; and when I went to bid
them come to breakfast, I saw she had persuaded him to clear a large
space of ground from currant and gooseberry bushes, and they were busy
planning together an importation of plants from the Grange.
I was terrified at the devastation which had been accomplished in a brief
half-hour; the black-currant trees were the apple of Joseph's eye, and
she had just fixed her choice of a flower-bed in the midst of them.
'There! That will be all shown to the master,' I exclaimed, 'the minute
it is discovered. And what excuse have you to offer for taking such
liberties with the garden? We shall have a fine explosion on the head of
it: see if we don't! Mr. Hareton, I wonder you should have no more wit
than to go and make that mess at her bidding!'
'I'd forgotten they were Joseph's,' answered Earnshaw, rather puzzled;
'but I'll tell him I did it.'
We always ate our meals with Mr. Heathcliff. I held the mistress's post
in making tea and carving; so I was indispensable at table. Catherine
usually sat by me, but to-day she stole nearer to Hareton; and I
presently saw she would have no more discretion in her friendship than
she had in her hostility.
'Now, mind you don't talk with and notice your cousin too much,' were my
whispered instructions as we entered the room. 'It will certainly annoy
Mr. Heathcliff, and he'll be mad at you both.'
'I'm not going to,' she answered.
The minute after, she had sidled to him, and was sticking primroses in
his plate of porridge.
He dared not speak to her there: he dared hardly look; and yet she went
on teasing, till he was twice on the point of being provoked to laugh. I
frowned, and then she glanced towards the master: whose mind was occupied
on other subjects than his company, as his countenance evinced; and she
grew serious for an instant, scrutinizing him with deep gravity.
Afterwards she turned, and recommenced her nonsense; at last, Hareton
uttered a smothered laugh. Mr. Heathcliff started; his eye rapidly
surveyed our faces, Catherine met it with her accustomed look of
nervousness and yet defiance, which he abhorred.
'It is well you are out of my reach,' he exclaimed. 'What fiend
possesses you to stare back at me, continually, with those infernal eyes?
Down with them! and don't remind me of your existence again. I thought I
had cured you of laughing.'
'It was me,' muttered Hareton.
'What do you say?' demanded the master.
Hareton looked at his plate, and did not repeat the confession. Mr.
Heathcliff looked at him a bit, and then silently resumed his breakfast
and his interrupted musing. We had nearly finished, and the two young
people prudently shifted wider asunder, so I anticipated no further
disturbance during that sitting: when Joseph appeared at the door,
revealing by his quivering lip and furious eyes that the outrage
committed on his precious shrubs was detected. He must have seen Cathy
and her cousin about the spot before he examined it, for while his jaws
worked like those of a cow chewing its cud, and rendered his speech
difficult to understand, he began:--
'I mun hev' my wage, and I mun goa! I _hed_ aimed to dee wheare I'd
sarved fur sixty year; and I thowt I'd lug my books up into t' garret,
and all my bits o' stuff, and they sud hev' t' kitchen to theirseln; for
t' sake o' quietness. It wur hard to gie up my awn hearthstun, but I
thowt I _could_ do that! But nah, shoo's taan my garden fro' me, and by
th' heart, maister, I cannot stand it! Yah may bend to th' yoak an ye
will--I noan used to 't, and an old man doesn't sooin get used to new
barthens. I'd rayther arn my bite an' my sup wi' a hammer in th' road!'
'Now, now, idiot!' interrupted Heathcliff, 'cut it short! What's your
grievance? I'll interfere in no quarrels between you and Nelly. She may
thrust you into the coal-hole for anything I care.'
'It's noan Nelly!' answered Joseph. 'I sudn't shift for Nelly--nasty ill
nowt as shoo is. Thank God! _shoo_ cannot stale t' sowl o' nob'dy! Shoo
wer niver soa handsome, but what a body mud look at her 'bout winking.
It's yon flaysome, graceless quean, that's witched our lad, wi' her bold
een and her forrard ways--till--Nay! it fair brusts my heart! He's
forgotten all I've done for him, and made on him, and goan and riven up a
whole row o' t' grandest currant-trees i' t' garden!' and here he
lamented outright; unmanned by a sense of his bitter injuries, and
Earnshaw's ingratitude and dangerous condition.
'Is the fool drunk?' asked Mr. Heathcliff. 'Hareton, is it you he's
finding fault with?'
'I've pulled up two or three bushes,' replied the young man; 'but I'm
going to set 'em again.'
'And why have you pulled them up?' said the master.
Catherine wisely put in her tongue.
'We wanted to plant some flowers there,' she cried. 'I'm the only person
to blame, for I wished him to do it.'
'And who the devil gave _you_ leave to touch a stick about the place?'
demanded her father-in-law, much surprised. 'And who ordered _you_ to
obey her?' he added, turning to Hareton.
The latter was speechless; his cousin replied--'You shouldn't grudge a
few yards of earth for me to ornament, when you have taken all my land!'
'Your land, insolent slut! You never had any,' said Heathcliff.
'And my money,' she continued; returning his angry glare, and meantime
biting a piece of crust, the remnant of her breakfast.
'Silence!' he exclaimed. 'Get done, and begone!'
'And Hareton's land, and his money,' pursued the reckless thing. 'Hareton
and I are friends now; and I shall tell him all about you!'
The master seemed confounded a moment: he grew pale, and rose up, eyeing
her all the while, with an expression of mortal hate.
'If you strike me, Hareton will strike you,' she said; 'so you may as
well sit down.'
'If Hareton does not turn you out of the room, I'll strike him to hell,'
thundered Heathcliff. 'Damnable witch! dare you pretend to rouse him
against me? Off with her! Do you hear? Fling her into the kitchen!
I'll kill her, Ellen Dean, if you let her come into my sight again!'
Hareton tried, under his breath, to persuade her to go.
'Drag her away!' he cried, savagely. 'Are you staying to talk?' And he
approached to execute his own command.
'He'll not obey you, wicked man, any more,' said Catherine; 'and he'll
soon detest you as much as I do.'
'Wisht! wisht!' muttered the young man, reproachfully; 'I will not hear
you speak so to him. Have done.'
'But you won't let him strike me?' she cried.
'Come, then,' he whispered earnestly.
It was too late: Heathcliff had caught hold of her.
'Now, _you_ go!' he said to Earnshaw. 'Accursed witch! this time she has
provoked me when I could not bear it; and I'll make her repent it for
He had his hand in her hair; Hareton attempted to release her looks,
entreating him not to hurt her that once. Heathcliff's black eyes
flashed; he seemed ready to tear Catherine in pieces, and I was just
worked up to risk coming to the rescue, when of a sudden his fingers
relaxed; he shifted his grasp from her head to her arm, and gazed
intently in her face. Then he drew his hand over his eyes, stood a
moment to collect himself apparently, and turning anew to Catherine,
said, with assumed calmness--'You must learn to avoid putting me in a
passion, or I shall really murder you some time! Go with Mrs. Dean, and
keep with her; and confine your insolence to her ears. As to Hareton
Earnshaw, if I see him listen to you, I'll send him seeking his bread
where he can get it! Your love will make him an outcast and a beggar.
Nelly, take her; and leave me, all of you! Leave me!'
I led my young lady out: she was too glad of her escape to resist; the
other followed, and Mr. Heathcliff had the room to himself till dinner. I
had counselled Catherine to dine up-stairs; but, as soon as he perceived
her vacant seat, he sent me to call her. He spoke to none of us, ate
very little, and went out directly afterwards, intimating that he should
not return before evening.
The two new friends established themselves in the house during his
absence; where I heard Hareton sternly cheek his cousin, on her offering
a revelation of her father-in-law's conduct to his father. He said he
wouldn't suffer a word to be uttered in his disparagement: if he were the
devil, it didn't signify; he would stand by him; and he'd rather she
would abuse himself, as she used to, than begin on Mr. Heathcliff.
Catherine was waxing cross at this; but he found means to make her hold
her tongue, by asking how she would like _him_ to speak ill of her
father? Then she comprehended that Earnshaw took the master's reputation
home to himself; and was attached by ties stronger than reason could
break--chains, forged by habit, which it would be cruel to attempt to
loosen. She showed a good heart, thenceforth, in avoiding both
complaints and expressions of antipathy concerning Heathcliff; and
confessed to me her sorrow that she had endeavoured to raise a bad spirit
between him and Hareton: indeed, I don't believe she has ever breathed a
syllable, in the latter's hearing, against her oppressor since.
When this slight disagreement was over, they were friends again, and as
busy as possible in their several occupations of pupil and teacher. I
came in to sit with them, after I had done my work; and I felt so soothed
and comforted to watch them, that I did not notice how time got on. You
know, they both appeared in a measure my children: I had long been proud
of one; and now, I was sure, the other would be a source of equal
satisfaction. His honest, warm, and intelligent nature shook off rapidly
the clouds of ignorance and degradation in which it had been bred; and
Catherine's sincere commendations acted as a spur to his industry. His
brightening mind brightened his features, and added spirit and nobility
to their aspect: I could hardly fancy it the same individual I had beheld
on the day I discovered my little lady at Wuthering Heights, after her
expedition to the Crags. While I admired and they laboured, dusk drew
on, and with it returned the master. He came upon us quite unexpectedly,
entering by the front way, and had a full view of the whole three, ere we
could raise our heads to glance at him. Well, I reflected, there was
never a pleasanter, or more harmless sight; and it will be a burning
shame to scold them. The red fire-light glowed on their two bonny heads,
and revealed their faces animated with the eager interest of children;
for, though he was twenty-three and she eighteen, each had so much of
novelty to feel and learn, that neither experienced nor evinced the
sentiments of sober disenchanted maturity.
They lifted their eyes together, to encounter Mr. Heathcliff: perhaps you
have never remarked that their eyes are precisely similar, and they are
those of Catherine Earnshaw. The present Catherine has no other likeness
to her, except a breadth of forehead, and a certain arch of the nostril
that makes her appear rather haughty, whether she will or not. With
Hareton the resemblance is carried farther: it is singular at all times,
_then_ it was particularly striking; because his senses were alert, and
his mental faculties wakened to unwonted activity. I suppose this
resemblance disarmed Mr. Heathcliff: he walked to the hearth in evident
agitation; but it quickly subsided as he looked at the young man: or, I
should say, altered its character; for it was there yet. He took the
book from his hand, and glanced at the open page, then returned it
without any observation; merely signing Catherine away: her companion
lingered very little behind her, and I was about to depart also, but he
bid me sit still.
'It is a poor conclusion, is it not?' he observed, having brooded awhile
on the scene he had just witnessed: 'an absurd termination to my violent
exertions? I get levers and mattocks to demolish the two houses, and
train myself to be capable of working like Hercules, and when everything
is ready and in my power, I find the will to lift a slate off either roof
has vanished! My old enemies have not beaten me; now would be the
precise time to revenge myself on their representatives: I could do it;
and none could hinder me. But where is the use? I don't care for
striking: I can't take the trouble to raise my hand! That sounds as if I
had been labouring the whole time only to exhibit a fine trait of
magnanimity. It is far from being the case: I have lost the faculty of
enjoying their destruction, and I am too idle to destroy for nothing.
'Nelly, there is a strange change approaching; I'm in its shadow at
present. I take so little interest in my daily life that I hardly
remember to eat and drink. Those two who have left the room are the only
objects which retain a distinct material appearance to me; and that
appearance causes me pain, amounting to agony. About _her_ I won't
speak; and I don't desire to think; but I earnestly wish she were
invisible: her presence invokes only maddening sensations. _He_ moves me
differently: and yet if I could do it without seeming insane, I'd never
see him again! You'll perhaps think me rather inclined to become so,' he
added, making an effort to smile, 'if I try to describe the thousand
forms of past associations and ideas he awakens or embodies. But you'll
not talk of what I tell you; and my mind is so eternally secluded in
itself, it is tempting at last to turn it out to another.
'Five minutes ago Hareton seemed a personification of my youth, not a
human being; I felt to him in such a variety of ways, that it would have
been impossible to have accosted him rationally. In the first place, his
startling likeness to Catherine connected him fearfully with her. That,
however, which you may suppose the most potent to arrest my imagination,
is actually the least: for what is not connected with her to me? and what
does not recall her? I cannot look down to this floor, but her features
are shaped in the flags! In every cloud, in every tree--filling the air
at night, and caught by glimpses in every object by day--I am surrounded
with her image! The most ordinary faces of men and women--my own
features--mock me with a resemblance. The entire world is a dreadful
collection of memoranda that she did exist, and that I have lost her!
Well, Hareton's aspect was the ghost of my immortal love; of my wild
endeavours to hold my right; my degradation, my pride, my happiness, and
'But it is frenzy to repeat these thoughts to you: only it will let you
know why, with a reluctance to be always alone, his society is no
benefit; rather an aggravation of the constant torment I suffer: and it
partly contributes to render me regardless how he and his cousin go on
together. I can give them no attention any more.'
'But what do you mean by a _change_, Mr. Heathcliff?' I said, alarmed at
his manner: though he was neither in danger of losing his senses, nor
dying, according to my judgment: he was quite strong and healthy; and, as
to his reason, from childhood he had a delight in dwelling on dark
things, and entertaining odd fancies. He might have had a monomania on
the subject of his departed idol; but on every other point his wits were
as sound as mine.
'I shall not know that till it comes,' he said; 'I'm only half conscious
of it now.'
'You have no feeling of illness, have you?' I asked.
'No, Nelly, I have not,' he answered.
'Then you are not afraid of death?' I pursued.
'Afraid? No!' he replied. 'I have neither a fear, nor a presentiment,
nor a hope of death. Why should I? With my hard constitution and
temperate mode of living, and unperilous occupations, I ought to, and
probably _shall_, remain above ground till there is scarcely a black hair
on my head. And yet I cannot continue in this condition! I have to
remind myself to breathe--almost to remind my heart to beat! And it is
like bending back a stiff spring: it is by compulsion that I do the
slightest act not prompted by one thought; and by compulsion that I
notice anything alive or dead, which is not associated with one universal
idea. I have a single wish, and my whole being and faculties are
yearning to attain it. They have yearned towards it so long, and so
unwaveringly, that I'm convinced it will be reached--and soon--because it
has devoured my existence: I am swallowed up in the anticipation of its
fulfilment. My confessions have not relieved me; but they may account
for some otherwise unaccountable phases of humour which I show. O God!
It is a long fight; I wish it were over!'
He began to pace the room, muttering terrible things to himself, till I
was inclined to believe, as he said Joseph did, that conscience had
turned his heart to an earthly hell. I wondered greatly how it would
end. Though he seldom before had revealed this state of mind, even by
looks, it was his habitual mood, I had no doubt: he asserted it himself;
but not a soul, from his general bearing, would have conjectured the
fact. You did not when you saw him, Mr. Lockwood: and at the period of
which I speak, he was just the same as then; only fonder of continued
solitude, and perhaps still more laconic in company.