Part 1 out of 7
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
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1801. - I have just returned from a visit to my landlord - the
solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. This is
certainly a beautiful country! In all England, I do not believe
that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from
the stir of society. A perfect misanthropist's heaven: and Mr.
Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation
between us. A capital fellow! He little imagined how my heart
warmed towards him when I beheld his black eyes withdraw so
suspiciously under their brows, as I rode up, and when his fingers
sheltered themselves, with a jealous resolution, still further in
his waistcoat, as I announced my name.
'Mr. Heathcliff?' I said.
A nod was the answer.
'Mr. Lockwood, your new tenant, sir. I do myself the honour of
calling as soon as possible after my arrival, to express the hope
that I have not inconvenienced you by my perseverance in soliciting
the occupation of Thrushcross Grange: I heard yesterday you had
had some thoughts - '
'Thrushcross Grange is my own, sir,' he interrupted, wincing. 'I
should not allow any one to inconvenience me, if I could hinder it
- walk in!'
The 'walk in' was uttered with closed teeth, and expressed the
sentiment, 'Go to the Deuce:' even the gate over which he leant
manifested no sympathising movement to the words; and I think that
circumstance determined me to accept the invitation: I felt
interested in a man who seemed more exaggeratedly reserved than
When he saw my horse's breast fairly pushing the barrier, he did
put out his hand to unchain it, and then sullenly preceded me up
the causeway, calling, as we entered the court, - 'Joseph, take Mr.
Lockwood's horse; and bring up some wine.'
'Here we have the whole establishment of domestics, I suppose,' was
the reflection suggested by this compound order. 'No wonder the
grass grows up between the flags, and cattle are the only hedge-
Joseph was an elderly, nay, an old man: very old, perhaps, though
hale and sinewy. 'The Lord help us!' he soliloquised in an
undertone of peevish displeasure, while relieving me of my horse:
looking, meantime, in my face so sourly that I charitably
conjectured he must have need of divine aid to digest his dinner,
and his pious ejaculation had no reference to my unexpected advent.
Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff's dwelling.
'Wuthering' being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive
of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy
weather. Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all
times, indeed: one may guess the power of the north wind blowing
over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the
end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching
their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun. Happily, the
architect had foresight to build it strong: the narrow windows are
deeply set in the wall, and the corners defended with large jutting
Before passing the threshold, I paused to admire a quantity of
grotesque carving lavished over the front, and especially about the
principal door; above which, among a wilderness of crumbling
griffins and shameless little boys, I detected the date '1500,' and
the name 'Hareton Earnshaw.' I would have made a few comments, and
requested a short history of the place from the surly owner; but
his attitude at the door appeared to demand my speedy entrance, or
complete departure, and I had no desire to aggravate his impatience
previous to inspecting the penetralium.
One stop brought us into the family sitting-room, without any
introductory lobby or passage: they call it here 'the house' pre-
eminently. It includes kitchen and parlour, generally; but I
believe at Wuthering Heights the kitchen is forced to retreat
altogether into another quarter: at least I distinguished a
chatter of tongues, and a clatter of culinary utensils, deep
within; and I observed no signs of roasting, boiling, or baking,
about the huge fireplace; nor any glitter of copper saucepans and
tin cullenders on the walls. One end, indeed, reflected splendidly
both light and heat from ranks of immense pewter dishes,
interspersed with silver jugs and tankards, towering row after row,
on a vast oak dresser, to the very roof. The latter had never been
under-drawn: its entire anatomy lay bare to an inquiring eye,
except where a frame of wood laden with oatcakes and clusters of
legs of beef, mutton, and ham, concealed it. Above the chimney
were sundry villainous old guns, and a couple of horse-pistols:
and, by way of ornament, three gaudily-painted canisters disposed
along its ledge. The floor was of smooth, white stone; the chairs,
high-backed, primitive structures, painted green: one or two heavy
black ones lurking in the shade. In an arch under the dresser
reposed a huge, liver-coloured bitch pointer, surrounded by a swarm
of squealing puppies; and other dogs haunted other recesses.
The apartment and furniture would have been nothing extraordinary
as belonging to a homely, northern farmer, with a stubborn
countenance, and stalwart limbs set out to advantage in knee-
breeches and gaiters. Such an individual seated in his arm-chair,
his mug of ale frothing on the round table before him, is to be
seen in any circuit of five or six miles among these hills, if you
go at the right time after dinner. But Mr. Heathcliff forms a
singular contrast to his abode and style of living. He is a dark-
skinned gipsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman: that
is, as much a gentleman as many a country squire: rather slovenly,
perhaps, yet not looking amiss with his negligence, because he has
an erect and handsome figure; and rather morose. Possibly, some
people might suspect him of a degree of under-bred pride; I have a
sympathetic chord within that tells me it is nothing of the sort:
I know, by instinct, his reserve springs from an aversion to showy
displays of feeling - to manifestations of mutual kindliness.
He'll love and hate equally under cover, and esteem it a species of
impertinence to be loved or hated again. No, I'm running on too
fast: I bestow my own attributes over-liberally on him. Mr.
Heathcliff may have entirely dissimilar reasons for keeping his
hand out of the way when he meets a would-be acquaintance, to those
which actuate me. Let me hope my constitution is almost peculiar:
my dear mother used to say I should never have a comfortable home;
and only last summer I proved myself perfectly unworthy of one.
While enjoying a month of fine weather at the sea-coast, I was
thrown into the company of a most fascinating creature: a real
goddess in my eyes, as long as she took no notice of me. I 'never
told my love' vocally; still, if looks have language, the merest
idiot might have guessed I was over head and ears: she understood
me at last, and looked a return - the sweetest of all imaginable
looks. And what did I do? I confess it with shame - shrunk icily
into myself, like a snail; at every glance retired colder and
farther; till finally the poor innocent was led to doubt her own
senses, and, overwhelmed with confusion at her supposed mistake,
persuaded her mamma to decamp. By this curious turn of disposition
I have gained the reputation of deliberate heartlessness; how
undeserved, I alone can appreciate.
I took a seat at the end of the hearthstone opposite that towards
which my landlord advanced, and filled up an interval of silence by
attempting to caress the canine mother, who had left her nursery,
and was sneaking wolfishly to the back of my legs, her lip curled
up, and her white teeth watering for a snatch. My caress provoked
a long, guttural gnarl.
'You'd better let the dog alone,' growled Mr. Heathcliff in unison,
checking fiercer demonstrations with a punch of his foot. 'She's
not accustomed to be spoiled - not kept for a pet.' Then, striding
to a side door, he shouted again, 'Joseph!'
Joseph mumbled indistinctly in the depths of the cellar, but gave
no intimation of ascending; so his master dived down to him,
leaving me VIS-A-VIS the ruffianly bitch and a pair of grim shaggy
sheep-dogs, who shared with her a jealous guardianship over all my
movements. Not anxious to come in contact with their fangs, I sat
still; but, imagining they would scarcely understand tacit insults,
I unfortunately indulged in winking and making faces at the trio,
and some turn of my physiognomy so irritated madam, that she
suddenly broke into a fury and leapt on my knees. I flung her
back, and hastened to interpose the table between us. This
proceeding aroused the whole hive: half-a-dozen four-footed
fiends, of various sizes and ages, issued from hidden dens to the
common centre. I felt my heels and coat-laps peculiar subjects of
assault; and parrying off the larger combatants as effectually as I
could with the poker, I was constrained to demand, aloud,
assistance from some of the household in re-establishing peace.
Mr. Heathcliff and his man climbed the cellar steps with vexatious
phlegm: I don't think they moved one second faster than usual,
though the hearth was an absolute tempest of worrying and yelping.
Happily, an inhabitant of the kitchen made more despatch: a lusty
dame, with tucked-up gown, bare arms, and fire-flushed cheeks,
rushed into the midst of us flourishing a frying-pan: and used
that weapon, and her tongue, to such purpose, that the storm
subsided magically, and she only remained, heaving like a sea after
a high wind, when her master entered on the scene.
'What the devil is the matter?' he asked, eyeing me in a manner
that I could ill endure, after this inhospitable treatment.
'What the devil, indeed!' I muttered. 'The herd of possessed swine
could have had no worse spirits in them than those animals of
yours, sir. You might as well leave a stranger with a brood of
'They won't meddle with persons who touch nothing,' he remarked,
putting the bottle before me, and restoring the displaced table.
'The dogs do right to be vigilant. Take a glass of wine?'
'No, thank you.'
'Not bitten, are you?'
'If I had been, I would have set my signet on the biter.'
Heathcliff's countenance relaxed into a grin.
'Come, come,' he said, 'you are flurried, Mr. Lockwood. Here, take
a little wine. Guests are so exceedingly rare in this house that I
and my dogs, I am willing to own, hardly know how to receive them.
Your health, sir?'
I bowed and returned the pledge; beginning to perceive that it
would be foolish to sit sulking for the misbehaviour of a pack of
curs; besides, I felt loth to yield the fellow further amusement at
my expense; since his humour took that turn. He - probably swayed
by prudential consideration of the folly of offending a good tenant
- relaxed a little in the laconic style of chipping off his
pronouns and auxiliary verbs, and introduced what he supposed would
be a subject of interest to me, - a discourse on the advantages and
disadvantages of my present place of retirement. I found him very
intelligent on the topics we touched; and before I went home, I was
encouraged so far as to volunteer another visit to-morrow. He
evidently wished no repetition of my intrusion. I shall go,
notwithstanding. It is astonishing how sociable I feel myself
compared with him.
YESTERDAY afternoon set in misty and cold. I had half a mind to
spend it by my study fire, instead of wading through heath and mud
to Wuthering Heights. On coming up from dinner, however, (N.B. - I
dine between twelve and one o'clock; the housekeeper, a matronly
lady, taken as a fixture along with the house, could not, or would
not, comprehend my request that I might be served at five) - on
mounting the stairs with this lazy intention, and stepping into the
room, I saw a servant-girl on her knees surrounded by brushes and
coal-scuttles, and raising an infernal dust as she extinguished the
flames with heaps of cinders. This spectacle drove me back
immediately; I took my hat, and, after a four-miles' walk, arrived
at Heathcliff's garden-gate just in time to escape the first
feathery flakes of a snow-shower.
On that bleak hill-top the earth was hard with a black frost, and
the air made me shiver through every limb. Being unable to remove
the chain, I jumped over, and, running up the flagged causeway
bordered with straggling gooseberry-bushes, knocked vainly for
admittance, till my knuckles tingled and the dogs howled.
'Wretched inmates!' I ejaculated, mentally, 'you deserve perpetual
isolation from your species for your churlish inhospitality. At
least, I would not keep my doors barred in the day-time. I don't
care - I will get in!' So resolved, I grasped the latch and shook
it vehemently. Vinegar-faced Joseph projected his head from a
round window of the barn.
'What are ye for?' he shouted. 'T' maister's down i' t' fowld. Go
round by th' end o' t' laith, if ye went to spake to him.'
'Is there nobody inside to open the door?' I hallooed,
'There's nobbut t' missis; and shoo'll not oppen 't an ye mak' yer
flaysome dins till neeght.'
'Why? Cannot you tell her whom I am, eh, Joseph?'
'Nor-ne me! I'll hae no hend wi't,' muttered the head, vanishing.
The snow began to drive thickly. I seized the handle to essay
another trial; when a young man without coat, and shouldering a
pitchfork, appeared in the yard behind. He hailed me to follow
him, and, after marching through a wash-house, and a paved area
containing a coal-shed, pump, and pigeon-cot, we at length arrived
in the huge, warm, cheerful apartment where I was formerly
received. It glowed delightfully in the radiance of an immense
fire, compounded of coal, peat, and wood; and near the table, laid
for a plentiful evening meal, I was pleased to observe the
'missis,' an individual whose existence I had never previously
suspected. I bowed and waited, thinking she would bid me take a
seat. She looked at me, leaning back in her chair, and remained
motionless and mute.
'Rough weather!' I remarked. 'I'm afraid, Mrs. Heathcliff, the
door must bear the consequence of your servants' leisure
attendance: I had hard work to make them hear me.'
She never opened her mouth. I stared - she stared also: at any
rate, she kept her eyes on me in a cool, regardless manner,
exceedingly embarrassing and disagreeable.
'Sit down,' said the young man, gruffly. 'He'll be in soon.'
I obeyed; and hemmed, and called the villain Juno, who deigned, at
this second interview, to move the extreme tip of her tail, in
token of owning my acquaintance.
'A beautiful animal!' I commenced again. 'Do you intend parting
with the little ones, madam?'
'They are not mine,' said the amiable hostess, more repellingly
than Heathcliff himself could have replied.
'Ah, your favourites are among these?' I continued, turning to an
obscure cushion full of something like cats.
'A strange choice of favourites!' she observed scornfully.
Unluckily, it was a heap of dead rabbits. I hemmed once more, and
drew closer to the hearth, repeating my comment on the wildness of
'You should not have come out,' she said, rising and reaching from
the chimney-piece two of the painted canisters.
Her position before was sheltered from the light; now, I had a
distinct view of her whole figure and countenance. She was
slender, and apparently scarcely past girlhood: an admirable form,
and the most exquisite little face that I have ever had the
pleasure of beholding; small features, very fair; flaxen ringlets,
or rather golden, hanging loose on her delicate neck; and eyes, had
they been agreeable in expression, that would have been
irresistible: fortunately for my susceptible heart, the only
sentiment they evinced hovered between scorn and a kind of
desperation, singularly unnatural to be detected there. The
canisters were almost out of her reach; I made a motion to aid her;
she turned upon me as a miser might turn if any one attempted to
assist him in counting his gold.
'I don't want your help,' she snapped; 'I can get them for myself.'
'I beg your pardon!' I hastened to reply.
'Were you asked to tea?' she demanded, tying an apron over her neat
black frock, and standing with a spoonful of the leaf poised over
'I shall be glad to have a cup,' I answered.
'Were you asked?' she repeated.
'No,' I said, half smiling. 'You are the proper person to ask me.'
She flung the tea back, spoon and all, and resumed her chair in a
pet; her forehead corrugated, and her red under-lip pushed out,
like a child's ready to cry.
Meanwhile, the young man had slung on to his person a decidedly
shabby upper garment, and, erecting himself before the blaze,
looked down on me from the corner of his eyes, for all the world as
if there were some mortal feud unavenged between us. I began to
doubt whether he were a servant or not: his dress and speech were
both rude, entirely devoid of the superiority observable in Mr. and
Mrs. Heathcliff; his thick brown curls were rough and uncultivated,
his whiskers encroached bearishly over his cheeks, and his hands
were embrowned like those of a common labourer: still his bearing
was free, almost haughty, and he showed none of a domestic's
assiduity in attending on the lady of the house. In the absence of
clear proofs of his condition, I deemed it best to abstain from
noticing his curious conduct; and, five minutes afterwards, the
entrance of Heathcliff relieved me, in some measure, from my
'You see, sir, I am come, according to promise!' I exclaimed,
assuming the cheerful; 'and I fear I shall be weather-bound for
half an hour, if you can afford me shelter during that space.'
'Half an hour?' he said, shaking the white flakes from his clothes;
'I wonder you should select the thick of a snow-storm to ramble
about in. Do you know that you run a risk of being lost in the
marshes? People familiar with these moors often miss their road on
such evenings; and I can tell you there is no chance of a change at
'Perhaps I can get a guide among your lads, and he might stay at
the Grange till morning - could you spare me one?'
'No, I could not.'
'Oh, indeed! Well, then, I must trust to my own sagacity.'
'Are you going to mak' the tea?' demanded he of the shabby coat,
shifting his ferocious gaze from me to the young lady.
'Is HE to have any?' she asked, appealing to Heathcliff.
'Get it ready, will you?' was the answer, uttered so savagely that
I started. The tone in which the words were said revealed a
genuine bad nature. I no longer felt inclined to call Heathcliff a
capital fellow. When the preparations were finished, he invited me
with - 'Now, sir, bring forward your chair.' And we all, including
the rustic youth, drew round the table: an austere silence
prevailing while we discussed our meal.
I thought, if I had caused the cloud, it was my duty to make an
effort to dispel it. They could not every day sit so grim and
taciturn; and it was impossible, however ill-tempered they might
be, that the universal scowl they wore was their every-day
'It is strange,' I began, in the interval of swallowing one cup of
tea and receiving another - 'it is strange how custom can mould our
tastes and ideas: many could not imagine the existence of
happiness in a life of such complete exile from the world as you
spend, Mr. Heathcliff; yet, I'll venture to say, that, surrounded
by your family, and with your amiable lady as the presiding genius
over your home and heart - '
'My amiable lady!' he interrupted, with an almost diabolical sneer
on his face. 'Where is she - my amiable lady?'
'Mrs. Heathcliff, your wife, I mean.'
'Well, yes - oh, you would intimate that her spirit has taken the
post of ministering angel, and guards the fortunes of Wuthering
Heights, even when her body is gone. Is that it?'
Perceiving myself in a blunder, I attempted to correct it. I might
have seen there was too great a disparity between the ages of the
parties to make it likely that they were man and wife. One was
about forty: a period of mental vigour at which men seldom cherish
the delusion of being married for love by girls: that dream is
reserved for the solace of our declining years. The other did not
Then it flashed on me - 'The clown at my elbow, who is drinking his
tea out of a basin and eating his broad with unwashed hands, may be
her husband: Heathcliff junior, of course. Here is the
consequence of being buried alive: she has thrown herself away
upon that boor from sheer ignorance that better individuals
existed! A sad pity - I must beware how I cause her to regret her
choice.' The last reflection may seem conceited; it was not. My
neighbour struck me as bordering on repulsive; I knew, through
experience, that I was tolerably attractive.
'Mrs. Heathcliff is my daughter-in-law,' said Heathcliff,
corroborating my surmise. He turned, as he spoke, a peculiar look
in her direction: a look of hatred; unless he has a most perverse
set of facial muscles that will not, like those of other people,
interpret the language of his soul.
'Ah, certainly - I see now: you are the favoured possessor of the
beneficent fairy,' I remarked, turning to my neighbour.
This was worse than before: the youth grew crimson, and clenched
his fist, with every appearance of a meditated assault. But he
seemed to recollect himself presently, and smothered the storm in a
brutal curse, muttered on my behalf: which, however, I took care
not to notice.
'Unhappy in your conjectures, sir,' observed my host; 'we neither
of us have the privilege of owning your good fairy; her mate is
dead. I said she was my daughter-in-law: therefore, she must have
married my son.'
'And this young man is - '
'Not my son, assuredly.'
Heathcliff smiled again, as if it were rather too bold a jest to
attribute the paternity of that bear to him.
'My name is Hareton Earnshaw,' growled the other; 'and I'd counsel
you to respect it!'
'I've shown no disrespect,' was my reply, laughing internally at
the dignity with which he announced himself.
He fixed his eye on me longer than I cared to return the stare, for
fear I might be tempted either to box his ears or render my
hilarity audible. I began to feel unmistakably out of place in
that pleasant family circle. The dismal spiritual atmosphere
overcame, and more than neutralised, the glowing physical comforts
round me; and I resolved to be cautious how I ventured under those
rafters a third time.
The business of eating being concluded, and no one uttering a word
of sociable conversation, I approached a window to examine the
weather. A sorrowful sight I saw: dark night coming down
prematurely, and sky and hills mingled in one bitter whirl of wind
and suffocating snow.
'I don't think it possible for me to get home now without a guide,'
I could not help exclaiming. 'The roads will be buried already;
and, if they were bare, I could scarcely distinguish a foot in
'Hareton, drive those dozen sheep into the barn porch. They'll be
covered if left in the fold all night: and put a plank before
them,' said Heathcliff.
'How must I do?' I continued, with rising irritation.
There was no reply to my question; and on looking round I saw only
Joseph bringing in a pail of porridge for the dogs, and Mrs.
Heathcliff leaning over the fire, diverting herself with burning a
bundle of matches which had fallen from the chimney-piece as she
restored the tea-canister to its place. The former, when he had
deposited his burden, took a critical survey of the room, and in
cracked tones grated out - 'Aw wonder how yah can faishion to stand
thear i' idleness un war, when all on 'ems goan out! Bud yah're a
nowt, and it's no use talking - yah'll niver mend o'yer ill ways,
but goa raight to t' divil, like yer mother afore ye!'
I imagined, for a moment, that this piece of eloquence was
addressed to me; and, sufficiently enraged, stepped towards the
aged rascal with an intention of kicking him out of the door. Mrs.
Heathcliff, however, checked me by her answer.
'You scandalous old hypocrite!' she replied. 'Are you not afraid
of being carried away bodily, whenever you mention the devil's
name? I warn you to refrain from provoking me, or I'll ask your
abduction as a special favour! Stop! look here, Joseph,' she
continued, taking a long, dark book from a shelf; 'I'll show you
how far I've progressed in the Black Art: I shall soon be
competent to make a clear house of it. The red cow didn't die by
chance; and your rheumatism can hardly be reckoned among
'Oh, wicked, wicked!' gasped the elder; 'may the Lord deliver us
'No, reprobate! you are a castaway - be off, or I'll hurt you
seriously! I'll have you all modelled in wax and clay! and the
first who passes the limits I fix shall - I'll not say what he
shall be done to - but, you'll see! Go, I'm looking at you!'
The little witch put a mock malignity into her beautiful eyes, and
Joseph, trembling with sincere horror, hurried out, praying, and
ejaculating 'wicked' as he went. I thought her conduct must be
prompted by a species of dreary fun; and, now that we were alone, I
endeavoured to interest her in my distress.
'Mrs. Heathcliff,' I said earnestly, 'you must excuse me for
troubling you. I presume, because, with that face, I'm sure you
cannot help being good-hearted. Do point out some landmarks by
which I may know my way home: I have no more idea how to get there
than you would have how to get to London!'
'Take the road you came,' she answered, ensconcing herself in a
chair, with a candle, and the long book open before her. 'It is
brief advice, but as sound as I can give.'
'Then, if you hear of me being discovered dead in a bog or a pit
full of snow, your conscience won't whisper that it is partly your
'How so? I cannot escort you. They wouldn't let me go to the end
of the garden wall.'
'YOU! I should be sorry to ask you to cross the threshold, for my
convenience, on such a night,' I cried. 'I want you to tell me my
way, not to SHOW it: or else to persuade Mr. Heathcliff to give me
'Who? There is himself, Earnshaw, Zillah, Joseph and I. Which
would you have?'
'Are there no boys at the farm?'
'No; those are all.'
'Then, it follows that I am compelled to stay.'
'That you may settle with your host. I have nothing to do with
'I hope it will be a lesson to you to make no more rash journeys on
these hills,' cried Heathcliff's stern voice from the kitchen
entrance. 'As to staying here, I don't keep accommodations for
visitors: you must share a bed with Hareton or Joseph, if you do.'
'I can sleep on a chair in this room,' I replied.
'No, no! A stranger is a stranger, be he rich or poor: it will
not suit me to permit any one the range of the place while I am off
guard!' said the unmannerly wretch.
With this insult my patience was at an end. I uttered an
expression of disgust, and pushed past him into the yard, running
against Earnshaw in my haste. It was so dark that I could not see
the means of exit; and, as I wandered round, I heard another
specimen of their civil behaviour amongst each other. At first the
young man appeared about to befriend me.
'I'll go with him as far as the park,' he said.
'You'll go with him to hell!' exclaimed his master, or whatever
relation he bore. 'And who is to look after the horses, eh?'
'A man's life is of more consequence than one evening's neglect of
the horses: somebody must go,' murmured Mrs. Heathcliff, more
kindly than I expected.
'Not at your command!' retorted Hareton. 'If you set store on him,
you'd better be quiet.'
'Then I hope his ghost will haunt you; and I hope Mr. Heathcliff
will never get another tenant till the Grange is a ruin,' she
'Hearken, hearken, shoo's cursing on 'em!' muttered Joseph, towards
whom I had been steering.
He sat within earshot, milking the cows by the light of a lantern,
which I seized unceremoniously, and, calling out that I would send
it back on the morrow, rushed to the nearest postern.
'Maister, maister, he's staling t' lanthern!' shouted the ancient,
pursuing my retreat. 'Hey, Gnasher! Hey, dog! Hey Wolf, holld
him, holld him!'
On opening the little door, two hairy monsters flew at my throat,
bearing me down, and extinguishing the light; while a mingled
guffaw from Heathcliff and Hareton put the copestone on my rage and
humiliation. Fortunately, the beasts seemed more bent on
stretching their paws, and yawning, and flourishing their tails,
than devouring me alive; but they would suffer no resurrection, and
I was forced to lie till their malignant masters pleased to deliver
me: then, hatless and trembling with wrath, I ordered the
miscreants to let me out - on their peril to keep me one minute
longer - with several incoherent threats of retaliation that, in
their indefinite depth of virulency, smacked of King Lear.
The vehemence of my agitation brought on a copious bleeding at the
nose, and still Heathcliff laughed, and still I scolded. I don't
know what would have concluded the scene, had there not been one
person at hand rather more rational than myself, and more
benevolent than my entertainer. This was Zillah, the stout
housewife; who at length issued forth to inquire into the nature of
the uproar. She thought that some of them had been laying violent
hands on me; and, not daring to attack her master, she turned her
vocal artillery against the younger scoundrel.
'Well, Mr. Earnshaw,' she cried, 'I wonder what you'll have agait
next? Are we going to murder folk on our very door-stones? I see
this house will never do for me - look at t' poor lad, he's fair
choking! Wisht, wisht; you mun'n't go on so. Come in, and I'll
cure that: there now, hold ye still.'
With these words she suddenly splashed a pint of icy water down my
neck, and pulled me into the kitchen. Mr. Heathcliff followed, his
accidental merriment expiring quickly in his habitual moroseness.
I was sick exceedingly, and dizzy, and faint; and thus compelled
perforce to accept lodgings under his roof. He told Zillah to give
me a glass of brandy, and then passed on to the inner room; while
she condoled with me on my sorry predicament, and having obeyed his
orders, whereby I was somewhat revived, ushered me to bed.
WHILE leading the way upstairs, she recommended that I should hide
the candle, and not make a noise; for her master had an odd notion
about the chamber she would put me in, and never let anybody lodge
there willingly. I asked the reason. She did not know, she
answered: she had only lived there a year or two; and they had so
many queer goings on, she could not begin to be curious.
Too stupefied to be curious myself, I fastened my door and glanced
round for the bed. The whole furniture consisted of a chair, a
clothes-press, and a large oak case, with squares cut out near the
top resembling coach windows. Having approached this structure, I
looked inside, and perceived it to be a singular sort of old-
fashioned couch, very conveniently designed to obviate the
necessity for every member of the family having a room to himself.
In fact, it formed a little closet, and the ledge of a window,
which it enclosed, served as a table. I slid back the panelled
sides, got in with my light, pulled them together again, and felt
secure against the vigilance of Heathcliff, and every one else.
The ledge, where I placed my candle, had a few mildewed books piled
up in one corner; and it was covered with writing scratched on the
paint. This writing, however, was nothing but a name repeated in
all kinds of characters, large and small - CATHERINE EARNSHAW, here
and there varied to CATHERINE HEATHCLIFF, and then again to
In vapid listlessness I leant my head against the window, and
continued spelling over Catherine Earnshaw - Heathcliff - Linton,
till my eyes closed; but they had not rested five minutes when a
glare of white letters started from the dark, as vivid as spectres
- the air swarmed with Catherines; and rousing myself to dispel the
obtrusive name, I discovered my candle-wick reclining on one of the
antique volumes, and perfuming the place with an odour of roasted
calf-skin. I snuffed it off, and, very ill at ease under the
influence of cold and lingering nausea, sat up and spread open the
injured tome on my knee. It was a Testament, in lean type, and
smelling dreadfully musty: a fly-leaf bore the inscription -
'Catherine Earnshaw, her book,' and a date some quarter of a
century back. I shut it, and took up another and another, till I
had examined all. Catherine's library was select, and its state of
dilapidation proved it to have been well used, though not
altogether for a legitimate purpose: scarcely one chapter had
escaped, a pen-and-ink commentary - at least the appearance of one
- covering every morsel of blank that the printer had left. Some
were detached sentences; other parts took the form of a regular
diary, scrawled in an unformed, childish hand. At the top of an
extra page (quite a treasure, probably, when first lighted on) I
was greatly amused to behold an excellent caricature of my friend
Joseph, - rudely, yet powerfully sketched. An immediate interest
kindled within me for the unknown Catherine, and I began forthwith
to decipher her faded hieroglyphics.
'An awful Sunday,' commenced the paragraph beneath. 'I wish my
father were back again. Hindley is a detestable substitute - his
conduct to Heathcliff is atrocious - H. and I are going to rebel -
we took our initiatory step this evening.
'All day had been flooding with rain; we could not go to church, so
Joseph must needs get up a congregation in the garret; and, while
Hindley and his wife basked downstairs before a comfortable fire -
doing anything but reading their Bibles, I'll answer for it -
Heathcliff, myself, and the unhappy ploughboy were commanded to
take our prayer-books, and mount: we were ranged in a row, on a
sack of corn, groaning and shivering, and hoping that Joseph would
shiver too, so that he might give us a short homily for his own
sake. A vain idea! The service lasted precisely three hours; and
yet my brother had the face to exclaim, when he saw us descending,
"What, done already?" On Sunday evenings we used to be permitted
to play, if we did not make much noise; now a mere titter is
sufficient to send us into corners.
'"You forget you have a master here," says the tyrant. "I'll
demolish the first who puts me out of temper! I insist on perfect
sobriety and silence. Oh, boy! was that you? Frances darling,
pull his hair as you go by: I heard him snap his fingers."
Frances pulled his hair heartily, and then went and seated herself
on her husband's knee, and there they were, like two babies,
kissing and talking nonsense by the hour - foolish palaver that we
should be ashamed of. We made ourselves as snug as our means
allowed in the arch of the dresser. I had just fastened our
pinafores together, and hung them up for a curtain, when in comes
Joseph, on an errand from the stables. He tears down my handiwork,
boxes my ears, and croaks:
'"T' maister nobbut just buried, and Sabbath not o'ered, und t'
sound o' t' gospel still i' yer lugs, and ye darr be laiking!
Shame on ye! sit ye down, ill childer! there's good books eneugh if
ye'll read 'em: sit ye down, and think o' yer sowls!"
'Saying this, he compelled us so to square our positions that we
might receive from the far-off fire a dull ray to show us the text
of the lumber he thrust upon us. I could not bear the employment.
I took my dingy volume by the scroop, and hurled it into the dog-
kennel, vowing I hated a good book. Heathcliff kicked his to the
same place. Then there was a hubbub!
'"Maister Hindley!" shouted our chaplain. " Maister, coom hither!
Miss Cathy's riven th' back off 'Th' Helmet o' Salvation,' un'
Heathcliff's pawsed his fit into t' first part o' 'T' Brooad Way to
Destruction!' It's fair flaysome that ye let 'em go on this gait.
Ech! th' owd man wad ha' laced 'em properly - but he's goan!"
'Hindley hurried up from his paradise on the hearth, and seizing
one of us by the collar, and the other by the arm, hurled both into
the back-kitchen; where, Joseph asseverated, "owd Nick would fetch
us as sure as we were living: and, so comforted, we each sought a
separate nook to await his advent. I reached this book, and a pot
of ink from a shelf, and pushed the house-door ajar to give me
light, and I have got the time on with writing for twenty minutes;
but my companion is impatient, and proposes that we should
appropriate the dairywoman's cloak, and have a scamper on the
moors, under its shelter. A pleasant suggestion - and then, if the
surly old man come in, he may believe his prophecy verified - we
cannot be damper, or colder, in the rain than we are here.'
* * * * * *
I suppose Catherine fulfilled her project, for the next sentence
took up another subject: she waxed lachrymose.
'How little did I dream that Hindley would ever make me cry so!'
she wrote. 'My head aches, till I cannot keep it on the pillow;
and still I can't give over. Poor Heathcliff! Hindley calls him a
vagabond, and won't let him sit with us, nor eat with us any more;
and, he says, he and I must not play together, and threatens to
turn him out of the house if we break his orders. He has been
blaming our father (how dared he?) for treating H. too liberally;
and swears he will reduce him to his right place - '
* * * * * *
I began to nod drowsily over the dim page: my eye wandered from
manuscript to print. I saw a red ornamented title - 'Seventy Times
Seven, and the First of the Seventy-First.' A Pious Discourse
delivered by the Reverend Jabez Branderham, in the Chapel of
Gimmerden Sough.' And while I was, half-consciously, worrying my
brain to guess what Jabez Branderham would make of his subject, I
sank back in bed, and fell asleep. Alas, for the effects of bad
tea and bad temper! What else could it be that made me pass such a
terrible night? I don't remember another that I can at all compare
with it since I was capable of suffering.
I began to dream, almost before I ceased to be sensible of my
locality. I thought it was morning; and I had set out on my way
home, with Joseph for a guide. The snow lay yards deep in our
road; and, as we floundered on, my companion wearied me with
constant reproaches that I had not brought a pilgrim's staff:
telling me that I could never get into the house without one, and
boastfully flourishing a heavy-headed cudgel, which I understood to
be so denominated. For a moment I considered it absurd that I
should need such a weapon to gain admittance into my own residence.
Then a new idea flashed across me. I was not going there: we were
journeying to hear the famous Jabez Branderham preach, from the
text - 'Seventy Times Seven;' and either Joseph, the preacher, or I
had committed the 'First of the Seventy-First,' and were to be
publicly exposed and excommunicated.
We came to the chapel. I have passed it really in my walks, twice
or thrice; it lies in a hollow, between two hills: an elevated
hollow, near a swamp, whose peaty moisture is said to answer all
the purposes of embalming on the few corpses deposited there. The
roof has been kept whole hitherto; but as the clergyman's stipend
is only twenty pounds per annum, and a house with two rooms,
threatening speedily to determine into one, no clergyman will
undertake the duties of pastor: especially as it is currently
reported that his flock would rather let him starve than increase
the living by one penny from their own pockets. However, in my
dream, Jabez had a full and attentive congregation; and he preached
- good God! what a sermon; divided into FOUR HUNDRED AND NINETY
parts, each fully equal to an ordinary address from the pulpit, and
each discussing a separate sin! Where he searched for them, I
cannot tell. He had his private manner of interpreting the phrase,
and it seemed necessary the brother should sin different sins on
every occasion. They were of the most curious character: odd
transgressions that I never imagined previously.
Oh, how weary I grow. How I writhed, and yawned, and nodded, and
revived! How I pinched and pricked myself, and rubbed my eyes, and
stood up, and sat down again, and nudged Joseph to inform me if he
would EVER have done. I was condemned to hear all out: finally,
he reached the 'FIRST OF THE SEVENTY-FIRST.' At that crisis, a
sudden inspiration descended on me; I was moved to rise and
denounce Jabez Branderham as the sinner of the sin that no
Christian need pardon.
'Sir,' I exclaimed, 'sitting here within these four walls, at one
stretch, I have endured and forgiven the four hundred and ninety
heads of your discourse. Seventy times seven times have I plucked
up my hat and been about to depart - Seventy times seven times have
you preposterously forced me to resume my seat. The four hundred
and ninety-first is too much. Fellow-martyrs, have at him! Drag
him down, and crush him to atoms, that the place which knows him
may know him no more!'
'THOU ART THE MAN!' cried Jabez, after a solemn pause, leaning over
his cushion. 'Seventy times seven times didst thou gapingly
contort thy visage - seventy times seven did I take counsel with my
soul - Lo, this is human weakness: this also may be absolved! The
First of the Seventy-First is come. Brethren, execute upon him the
judgment written. Such honour have all His saints!'
With that concluding word, the whole assembly, exalting their
pilgrim's staves, rushed round me in a body; and I, having no
weapon to raise in self-defence, commenced grappling with Joseph,
my nearest and most ferocious assailant, for his. In the
confluence of the multitude, several clubs crossed; blows, aimed at
me, fell on other sconces. Presently the whole chapel resounded
with rappings and counter rappings: every man's hand was against
his neighbour; and Branderham, unwilling to remain idle, poured
forth his zeal in a shower of loud taps on the boards of the
pulpit, which responded so smartly that, at last, to my unspeakable
relief, they woke me. And what was it that had suggested the
tremendous tumult? What had played Jabez's part in the row?
Merely the branch of a fir-tree that touched my lattice as the
blast wailed by, and rattled its dry cones against the panes! I
listened doubtingly an instant; detected the disturber, then turned
and dozed, and dreamt again: if possible, still more disagreeably
This time, I remembered I was lying in the oak closet, and I heard
distinctly the gusty wind, and the driving of the snow; I heard,
also, the fir bough repeat its teasing sound, and ascribed it to
the right cause: but it annoyed me so much, that I resolved to
silence it, if possible; and, I thought, I rose and endeavoured to
unhasp the casement. The hook was soldered into the staple: a
circumstance observed by me when awake, but forgotten. 'I must
stop it, nevertheless!' I muttered, knocking my knuckles through
the glass, and stretching an arm out to seize the importunate
branch; instead of which, my fingers closed on the fingers of a
little, ice-cold hand! The intense horror of nightmare came over
me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a
most melancholy voice sobbed, 'Let me in - let me in!' 'Who are
you?' I asked, struggling, meanwhile, to disengage myself.
'Catherine Linton,' it replied, shiveringly (why did I think of
LINTON? I had read EARNSHAW twenty times for Linton) - 'I'm come
home: I'd lost my way on the moor!' As it spoke, I discerned,
obscurely, a child's face looking through the window. Terror made
me cruel; and, finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature
off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and
fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes: still it
wailed, 'Let me in!' and maintained its tenacious gripe, almost
maddening me with fear. 'How can I!' I said at length. 'Let ME
go, if you want me to let you in!' The fingers relaxed, I snatched
mine through the hole, hurriedly piled the books up in a pyramid
against it, and stopped my ears to exclude the lamentable prayer.
I seemed to keep them closed above a quarter of an hour; yet, the
instant I listened again, there was the doleful cry moaning on!
'Begone!' I shouted. 'I'll never let you in, not if you beg for
twenty years.' 'It is twenty years,' mourned the voice: 'twenty
years. I've been a waif for twenty years!' Thereat began a feeble
scratching outside, and the pile of books moved as if thrust
forward. I tried to jump up; but could not stir a limb; and so
yelled aloud, in a frenzy of fright. To my confusion, I discovered
the yell was not ideal: hasty footsteps approached my chamber
door; somebody pushed it open, with a vigorous hand, and a light
glimmered through the squares at the top of the bed. I sat
shuddering yet, and wiping the perspiration from my forehead: the
intruder appeared to hesitate, and muttered to himself. At last,
he said, in a half-whisper, plainly not expecting an answer, 'Is
any one here?' I considered it best to confess my presence; for I
knew Heathcliff's accents, and feared he might search further, if I
kept quiet. With this intention, I turned and opened the panels.
I shall not soon forget the effect my action produced.
Heathcliff stood near the entrance, in his shirt and trousers; with
a candle dripping over his fingers, and his face as white as the
wall behind him. The first creak of the oak startled him like an
electric shock: the light leaped from his hold to a distance of
some feet, and his agitation was so extreme, that he could hardly
pick it up.
'It is only your guest, sir,' I called out, desirous to spare him
the humiliation of exposing his cowardice further. 'I had the
misfortune to scream in my sleep, owing to a frightful nightmare.
I'm sorry I disturbed you.'
'Oh, God confound you, Mr. Lockwood! I wish you were at the - '
commenced my host, setting the candle on a chair, because he found
it impossible to hold it steady. 'And who showed you up into this
room?' he continued, crushing his nails into his palms, and
grinding his teeth to subdue the maxillary convulsions. 'Who was
it? I've a good mind to turn them out of the house this moment?'
'It was your servant Zillah,' I replied, flinging myself on to the
floor, and rapidly resuming my garments. 'I should not care if you
did, Mr. Heathcliff; she richly deserves it. I suppose that she
wanted to get another proof that the place was haunted, at my
expense. Well, it is - swarming with ghosts and goblins! You have
reason in shutting it up, I assure you. No one will thank you for
a doze in such a den!'
'What do you mean?' asked Heathcliff, 'and what are you doing? Lie
down and finish out the night, since you ARE here; but, for
heaven's sake! don't repeat that horrid noise: nothing could
excuse it, unless you were having your throat cut!'
'If the little fiend had got in at the window, she probably would
have strangled me!' I returned. 'I'm not going to endure the
persecutions of your hospitable ancestors again. Was not the
Reverend Jabez Branderham akin to you on the mother's side? And
that minx, Catherine Linton, or Earnshaw, or however she was called
- she must have been a changeling - wicked little soul! She told
me she had been walking the earth these twenty years: a just
punishment for her mortal transgressions, I've no doubt!'
Scarcely were these words uttered when I recollected the
association of Heathcliff's with Catherine's name in the book,
which had completely slipped from my memory, till thus awakened. I
blushed at my inconsideration: but, without showing further
consciousness of the offence, I hastened to add - 'The truth is,
sir, I passed the first part of the night in - ' Here I stopped
afresh - I was about to say 'perusing those old volumes,' then it
would have revealed my knowledge of their written, as well as their
printed, contents; so, correcting myself, I went on - 'in spelling
over the name scratched on that window-ledge. A monotonous
occupation, calculated to set me asleep, like counting, or - '
'What CAN you mean by talking in this way to ME!' thundered
Heathcliff with savage vehemence. 'How - how DARE you, under my
roof? - God! he's mad to speak so!' And he struck his forehead
I did not know whether to resent this language or pursue my
explanation; but he seemed so powerfully affected that I took pity
and proceeded with my dreams; affirming I had never heard the
appellation of 'Catherine Linton' before, but reading it often over
produced an impression which personified itself when I had no
longer my imagination under control. Heathcliff gradually fell
back into the shelter of the bed, as I spoke; finally sitting down
almost concealed behind it. I guessed, however, by his irregular
and intercepted breathing, that he struggled to vanquish an excess
of violent emotion. Not liking to show him that I had heard the
conflict, I continued my toilette rather noisily, looked at my
watch, and soliloquised on the length of the night: 'Not three
o'clock yet! I could have taken oath it had been six. Time
stagnates here: we must surely have retired to rest at eight!'
'Always at nine in winter, and rise at four,' said my host,
suppressing a groan: and, as I fancied, by the motion of his arm's
shadow, dashing a tear from his eyes. 'Mr. Lockwood,' he added,
'you may go into my room: you'll only be in the way, coming down-
stairs so early: and your childish outcry has sent sleep to the
devil for me.'
'And for me, too,' I replied. 'I'll walk in the yard till
daylight, and then I'll be off; and you need not dread a repetition
of my intrusion. I'm now quite cured of seeking pleasure in
society, be it country or town. A sensible man ought to find
sufficient company in himself.'
'Delightful company!' muttered Heathcliff. 'Take the candle, and
go where you please. I shall join you directly. Keep out of the
yard, though, the dogs are unchained; and the house - Juno mounts
sentinel there, and - nay, you can only ramble about the steps and
passages. But, away with you! I'll come in two minutes!'
I obeyed, so far as to quit the chamber; when, ignorant where the
narrow lobbies led, I stood still, and was witness, involuntarily,
to a piece of superstition on the part of my landlord which belied,
oddly, his apparent sense. He got on to the bed, and wrenched open
the lattice, bursting, as he pulled at it, into an uncontrollable
passion of tears. 'Come in! come in!' he sobbed. 'Cathy, do come.
Oh, do - ONCE more! Oh! my heart's darling! hear me THIS time,
Catherine, at last!' The spectre showed a spectre's ordinary
caprice: it gave no sign of being; but the snow and wind whirled
wildly through, even reaching my station, and blowing out the
There was such anguish in the gush of grief that accompanied this
raving, that my compassion made me overlook its folly, and I drew
off, half angry to have listened at all, and vexed at having
related my ridiculous nightmare, since it produced that agony;
though WHY was beyond my comprehension. I descended cautiously to
the lower regions, and landed in the back-kitchen, where a gleam of
fire, raked compactly together, enabled me to rekindle my candle.
Nothing was stirring except a brindled, grey cat, which crept from
the ashes, and saluted me with a querulous mew.
Two benches, shaped in sections of a circle, nearly enclosed the
hearth; on one of these I stretched myself, and Grimalkin mounted
the other. We were both of us nodding ere any one invaded our
retreat, and then it was Joseph, shuffling down a wooden ladder
that vanished in the roof, through a trap: the ascent to his
garret, I suppose. He cast a sinister look at the little flame
which I had enticed to play between the ribs, swept the cat from
its elevation, and bestowing himself in the vacancy, commenced the
operation of stuffing a three-inch pipe with tobacco. My presence
in his sanctum was evidently esteemed a piece of impudence too
shameful for remark: he silently applied the tube to his lips,
folded his arms, and puffed away. I let him enjoy the luxury
unannoyed; and after sucking out his last wreath, and heaving a
profound sigh, he got up, and departed as solemnly as he came.
A more elastic footstep entered next; and now I opened my mouth for
a 'good-morning,' but closed it again, the salutation unachieved;
for Hareton Earnshaw was performing his orison SOTTO VOCE, in a
series of curses directed against every object he touched, while he
rummaged a corner for a spade or shovel to dig through the drifts.
He glanced over the back of the bench, dilating his nostrils, and
thought as little of exchanging civilities with me as with my
companion the cat. I guessed, by his preparations, that egress was
allowed, and, leaving my hard couch, made a movement to follow him.
He noticed this, and thrust at an inner door with the end of his
spade, intimating by an inarticulate sound that there was the place
where I must go, if I changed my locality.
It opened into the house, where the females were already astir;
Zillah urging flakes of flame up the chimney with a colossal
bellows; and Mrs. Heathcliff, kneeling on the hearth, reading a
book by the aid of the blaze. She held her hand interposed between
the furnace-heat and her eyes, and seemed absorbed in her
occupation; desisting from it only to chide the servant for
covering her with sparks, or to push away a dog, now and then, that
snoozled its nose overforwardly into her face. I was surprised to
see Heathcliff there also. He stood by the fire, his back towards
me, just finishing a stormy scene with poor Zillah; who ever and
anon interrupted her labour to pluck up the corner of her apron,
and heave an indignant groan.
'And you, you worthless - ' he broke out as I entered, turning to
his daughter-in-law, and employing an epithet as harmless as duck,
or sheep, but generally represented by a dash - . 'There you are,
at your idle tricks again! The rest of them do earn their bread -
you live on my charity! Put your trash away, and find something to
do. You shall pay me for the plague of having you eternally in my
sight - do you hear, damnable jade?'
'I'll put my trash away, because you can make me if I refuse,'
answered the young lady, closing her book, and throwing it on a
chair. 'But I'll not do anything, though you should swear your
tongue out, except what I please!'
Heathcliff lifted his hand, and the speaker sprang to a safer
distance, obviously acquainted with its weight. Having no desire
to be entertained by a cat-and-dog combat, I stepped forward
briskly, as if eager to partake the warmth of the hearth, and
innocent of any knowledge of the interrupted dispute. Each had
enough decorum to suspend further hostilities: Heathcliff placed
his fists, out of temptation, in his pockets; Mrs. Heathcliff
curled her lip, and walked to a seat far off, where she kept her
word by playing the part of a statue during the remainder of my
stay. That was not long. I declined joining their breakfast, and,
at the first gleam of dawn, took an opportunity of escaping into
the free air, now clear, and still, and cold as impalpable ice.
My landlord halloed for me to stop ere I reached the bottom of the
garden, and offered to accompany me across the moor. It was well
he did, for the whole hill-back was one billowy, white ocean; the
swells and falls not indicating corresponding rises and depressions
in the ground: many pits, at least, were filled to a level; and
entire ranges of mounds, the refuse of the quarries, blotted from
the chart which my yesterday's walk left pictured in my mind. I
had remarked on one side of the road, at intervals of six or seven
yards, a line of upright stones, continued through the whole length
of the barren: these were erected and daubed with lime on purpose
to serve as guides in the dark, and also when a fall, like the
present, confounded the deep swamps on either hand with the firmer
path: but, excepting a dirty dot pointing up here and there, all
traces of their existence had vanished: and my companion found it
necessary to warn me frequently to steer to the right or left, when
I imagined I was following, correctly, the windings of the road.
We exchanged little conversation, and he halted at the entrance of
Thrushcross Park, saying, I could make no error there. Our adieux
were limited to a hasty bow, and then I pushed forward, trusting to
my own resources; for the porter's lodge is untenanted as yet. The
distance from the gate to the grange is two miles; I believe I
managed to make it four, what with losing myself among the trees,
and sinking up to the neck in snow: a predicament which only those
who have experienced it can appreciate. At any rate, whatever were
my wanderings, the clock chimed twelve as I entered the house; and
that gave exactly an hour for every mile of the usual way from
My human fixture and her satellites rushed to welcome me;
exclaiming, tumultuously, they had completely given me up:
everybody conjectured that I perished last night; and they were
wondering how they must set about the search for my remains. I bid
them be quiet, now that they saw me returned, and, benumbed to my
very heart, I dragged up-stairs; whence, after putting on dry
clothes, and pacing to and fro thirty or forty minutes, to restore
the animal heat, I adjourned to my study, feeble as a kitten:
almost too much so to enjoy the cheerful fire and smoking coffee
which the servant had prepared for my refreshment.
WHAT vain weathercocks we are! I, who had determined to hold
myself independent of all social intercourse, and thanked my stars
that, at length, I had lighted on a spot where it was next to
impracticable - I, weak wretch, after maintaining till dusk a
struggle with low spirits and solitude, was finally compelled to
strike my colours; and under pretence of gaining information
concerning the necessities of my establishment, I desired Mrs.
Dean, when she brought in supper, to sit down while I ate it;
hoping sincerely she would prove a regular gossip, and either rouse
me to animation or lull me to sleep by her talk.
'You have lived here a considerable time,' I commenced; 'did you
not say sixteen years?'
'Eighteen, sir: I came when the mistress was married, to wait on
her; after she died, the master retained me for his housekeeper.'
There ensued a pause. She was not a gossip, I feared; unless about
her own affairs, and those could hardly interest me. However,
having studied for an interval, with a fist on either knee, and a
cloud of meditation over her ruddy countenance, she ejaculated -
'Ah, times are greatly changed since then!'
'Yes,' I remarked, 'you've seen a good many alterations, I
'I have: and troubles too,' she said.
'Oh, I'll turn the talk on my landlord's family!' I thought to
myself. 'A good subject to start! And that pretty girl-widow, I
should like to know her history: whether she be a native of the
country, or, as is more probable, an exotic that the surly
INDIGENAE will not recognise for kin.' With this intention I asked
Mrs. Dean why Heathcliff let Thrushcross Grange, and preferred
living in a situation and residence so much inferior. 'Is he not
rich enough to keep the estate in good order?' I inquired.
'Rich, sir!' she returned. 'He has nobody knows what money, and
every year it increases. Yes, yes, he's rich enough to live in a
finer house than this: but he's very near - close-handed; and, if
he had meant to flit to Thrushcross Grange, as soon as he heard of
a good tenant he could not have borne to miss the chance of getting
a few hundreds more. It is strange people should be so greedy,
when they are alone in the world!'
'He had a son, it seems?'
'Yes, he had one - he is dead.'
'And that young lady, Mrs. Heathcliff, is his widow?'
'Where did she come from originally?'
'Why, sir, she is my late master's daughter: Catherine Linton was
her maiden name. I nursed her, poor thing! I did wish Mr.
Heathcliff would remove here, and then we might have been together
'What! Catherine Linton?' I exclaimed, astonished. But a minute's
reflection convinced me it was not my ghostly Catherine. Then,' I
continued, 'my predecessor's name was Linton?'
'And who is that Earnshaw: Hareton Earnshaw, who lives with Mr.
Heathcliff? Are they relations?'
'No; he is the late Mrs. Linton's nephew.'
'The young lady's cousin, then?'
'Yes; and her husband was her cousin also: one on the mother's,
the other on the father's side: Heathcliff married Mr. Linton's
'I see the house at Wuthering Heights has "Earnshaw" carved over
the front door. Are they an old family?'
'Very old, sir; and Hareton is the last of them, as our Miss Cathy
is of us - I mean, of the Lintons. Have you been to Wuthering
Heights? I beg pardon for asking; but I should like to hear how
'Mrs. Heathcliff? she looked very well, and very handsome; yet, I
think, not very happy.'
'Oh dear, I don't wonder! And how did you like the master?'
'A rough fellow, rather, Mrs. Dean. Is not that his character?
'Rough as a saw-edge, and hard as whinstone! The less you meddle
with him the better.'
'He must have had some ups and downs in life to make him such a
churl. Do you know anything of his history?'
'It's a cuckoo's, sir - I know all about it: except where he was
born, and who were his parents, and how he got his money at first.
And Hareton has been cast out like an unfledged dunnock! The
unfortunate lad is the only one in all this parish that does not
guess how he has been cheated.'
'Well, Mrs. Dean, it will be a charitable deed to tell me something
of my neighbours: I feel I shall not rest if I go to bed; so be
good enough to sit and chat an hour.'
'Oh, certainly, sir! I'll just fetch a little sewing, and then
I'll sit as long as you please. But you've caught cold: I saw you
shivering, and you must have some gruel to drive it out.'
The worthy woman bustled off, and I crouched nearer the fire; my
head felt hot, and the rest of me chill: moreover, I was excited,
almost to a pitch of foolishness, through my nerves and brain.
This caused me to feel, not uncomfortable, but rather fearful (as I
am still) of serious effects from the incidents of to-day and
yesterday. She returned presently, bringing a smoking basin and a
basket of work; and, having placed the former on the hob, drew in
her seat, evidently pleased to find me so companionable.
Before I came to live here, she commenced - waiting no farther
invitation to her story - I was almost always at Wuthering Heights;
because my mother had nursed Mr. Hindley Earnshaw, that was
Hareton's father, and I got used to playing with the children: I
ran errands too, and helped to make hay, and hung about the farm
ready for anything that anybody would set me to. One fine summer
morning - it was the beginning of harvest, I remember - Mr.
Earnshaw, the old master, came down-stairs, dressed for a journey;
and, after he had told Joseph what was to be done during the day,
he turned to Hindley, and Cathy, and me - for I sat eating my
porridge with them - and he said, speaking to his son, 'Now, my
bonny man, I'm going to Liverpool to-day, what shall I bring you?
You may choose what you like: only let it be little, for I shall
walk there and back: sixty miles each way, that is a long spell!'
Hindley named a fiddle, and then he asked Miss Cathy; she was
hardly six years old, but she could ride any horse in the stable,
and she chose a whip. He did not forget me; for he had a kind
heart, though he was rather severe sometimes. He promised to bring
me a pocketful of apples and pears, and then he kissed his
children, said good-bye, and set off.
It seemed a long while to us all - the three days of his absence -
and often did little Cathy ask when he would be home. Mrs.
Earnshaw expected him by supper-time on the third evening, and she
put the meal off hour after hour; there were no signs of his
coming, however, and at last the children got tired of running down
to the gate to look. Then it grew dark; she would have had them to
bed, but they begged sadly to be allowed to stay up; and, just
about eleven o'clock, the door-latch was raised quietly, and in
stepped the master. He threw himself into a chair, laughing and
groaning, and bid them all stand off, for he was nearly killed - he
would not have such another walk for the three kingdoms.
'And at the end of it to be flighted to death!' he said, opening
his great-coat, which he held bundled up in his arms. 'See here,
wife! I was never so beaten with anything in my life: but you
must e'en take it as a gift of God; though it's as dark almost as
if it came from the devil.'
We crowded round, and over Miss Cathy's head I had a peep at a
dirty, ragged, black-haired child; big enough both to walk and
talk: indeed, its face looked older than Catherine's; yet when it
was set on its feet, it only stared round, and repeated over and
over again some gibberish that nobody could understand. I was
frightened, and Mrs. Earnshaw was ready to fling it out of doors:
she did fly up, asking how he could fashion to bring that gipsy
brat into the house, when they had their own bairns to feed and
fend for? What he meant to do with it, and whether he were mad?
The master tried to explain the matter; but he was really half dead
with fatigue, and all that I could make out, amongst her scolding,
was a tale of his seeing it starving, and houseless, and as good as
dumb, in the streets of Liverpool, where he picked it up and
inquired for its owner. Not a soul knew to whom it belonged, he
said; and his money and time being both limited, he thought it
better to take it home with him at once, than run into vain
expenses there: because he was determined he would not leave it as
he found it. Well, the conclusion was, that my mistress grumbled
herself calm; and Mr. Earnshaw told me to wash it, and give it
clean things, and let it sleep with the children.
Hindley and Cathy contented themselves with looking and listening
till peace was restored: then, both began searching their father's
pockets for the presents he had promised them. The former was a
boy of fourteen, but when he drew out what had been a fiddle,
crushed to morsels in the great-coat, he blubbered aloud; and
Cathy, when she learned the master had lost her whip in attending
on the stranger, showed her humour by grinning and spitting at the
stupid little thing; earning for her pains a sound blow from her
father, to teach her cleaner manners. They entirely refused to
have it in bed with them, or even in their room; and I had no more
sense, so I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it might he
gone on the morrow. By chance, or else attracted by hearing his
voice, it crept to Mr. Earnshaw's door, and there he found it on
quitting his chamber. Inquiries were made as to how it got there;
I was obliged to confess, and in recompense for my cowardice and
inhumanity was sent out of the house.
This was Heathcliff's first introduction to the family. On coming
back a few days afterwards (for I did not consider my banishment
perpetual), I found they had christened him 'Heathcliff': it was
the name of a son who died in childhood, and it has served him ever
since, both for Christian and surname. Miss Cathy and he were now
very thick; but Hindley hated him: and to say the truth I did the
same; and we plagued and went on with him shamefully: for I wasn't
reasonable enough to feel my injustice, and the mistress never put
in a word on his behalf when she saw him wronged.
He seemed a sullen, patient child; hardened, perhaps, to ill-
treatment: he would stand Hindley's blows without winking or
shedding a tear, and my pinches moved him only to draw in a breath
and open his eyes, as if he had hurt himself by accident, and
nobody was to blame. This endurance made old Earnshaw furious,
when he discovered his son persecuting the poor fatherless child,
as he called him. He took to Heathcliff strangely, believing all
he said (for that matter, he said precious little, and generally
the truth), and petting him up far above Cathy, who was too
mischievous and wayward for a favourite.
So, from the very beginning, he bred bad feeling in the house; and
at Mrs. Earnshaw's death, which happened in less than two years
after, the young master had learned to regard his father as an
oppressor rather than a friend, and Heathcliff as a usurper of his
parent's affections and his privileges; and he grew bitter with
brooding over these injuries. I sympathised a while; but when the
children fell ill of the measles, and I had to tend them, and take
on me the cares of a woman at once, I changed my idea. Heathcliff
was dangerously sick; and while he lay at the worst he would have
me constantly by his pillow: I suppose he felt I did a good deal
for him, and he hadn't wit to guess that I was compelled to do it.
However, I will say this, he was the quietest child that ever nurse
watched over. The difference between him and the others forced me
to be less partial. Cathy and her brother harassed me terribly:
he was as uncomplaining as a lamb; though hardness, not gentleness,
made him give little trouble.
He got through, and the doctor affirmed it was in a great measure
owing to me, and praised me for my care. I was vain of his
commendations, and softened towards the being by whose means I
earned them, and thus Hindley lost his last ally: still I couldn't
dote on Heathcliff, and I wondered often what my master saw to
admire so much in the sullen boy; who never, to my recollection,
repaid his indulgence by any sign of gratitude. He was not
insolent to his benefactor, he was simply insensible; though
knowing perfectly the hold he had on his heart, and conscious he
had only to speak and all the house would be obliged to bend to his
wishes. As an instance, I remember Mr. Earnshaw once bought a
couple of colts at the parish fair, and gave the lads each one.
Heathcliff took the handsomest, but it soon fell lame, and when he
discovered it, he said to Hindley -
'You must exchange horses with me: I don't like mine; and if you
won't I shall tell your father of the three thrashings you've given
me this week, and show him my arm, which is black to the shoulder.'
Hindley put out his tongue, and cuffed him over the ears. 'You'd
better do it at once,' he persisted, escaping to the porch (they
were in the stable): 'you will have to: and if I speak of these
blows, you'll get them again with interest.' 'Off, dog!' cried
Hindley, threatening him with an iron weight used for weighing
potatoes and hay. 'Throw it,' he replied, standing still, 'and
then I'll tell how you boasted that you would turn me out of doors
as soon as he died, and see whether he will not turn you out
directly.' Hindley threw it, hitting him on the breast, and down
he fell, but staggered up immediately, breathless and white; and,
had not I prevented it, he would have gone just so to the master,
and got full revenge by letting his condition plead for him,
intimating who had caused it. 'Take my colt, Gipsy, then!' said
young Earnshaw. 'And I pray that he may break your neck: take
him, and he damned, you beggarly interloper! and wheedle my father
out of all he has: only afterwards show him what you are, imp of
Satan. - And take that, I hope he'll kick out your brains!'
Heathcliff had gone to loose the beast, and shift it to his own
stall; he was passing behind it, when Hindley finished his speech
by knocking him under its feet, and without stopping to examine
whether his hopes were fulfilled, ran away as fast as he could. I
was surprised to witness how coolly the child gathered himself up,
and went on with his intention; exchanging saddles and all, and
then sitting down on a bundle of hay to overcome the qualm which
the violent blow occasioned, before he entered the house. I
persuaded him easily to let me lay the blame of his bruises on the
horse: he minded little what tale was told since he had what he
wanted. He complained so seldom, indeed, of such stirs as these,
that I really thought him not vindictive: I was deceived
completely, as you will hear.
IN the course of time Mr. Earnshaw began to fail. He had been
active and healthy, yet his strength left him suddenly; and when he
was confined to the chimney-corner he grew grievously irritable. A
nothing vexed him; and suspected slights of his authority nearly
threw him into fits. This was especially to be remarked if any one
attempted to impose upon, or domineer over, his favourite: he was
painfully jealous lest a word should be spoken amiss to him;
seeming to have got into his head the notion that, because he liked
Heathcliff, all hated, and longed to do him an ill-turn. It was a
disadvantage to the lad; for the kinder among us did not wish to
fret the master, so we humoured his partiality; and that humouring
was rich nourishment to the child's pride and black tempers. Still
it became in a manner necessary; twice, or thrice, Hindley's
manifestation of scorn, while his father was near, roused the old
man to a fury: he seized his stick to strike him, and shook with
rage that he could not do it.
At last, our curate (we had a curate then who made the living
answer by teaching the little Lintons and Earnshaws, and farming
his bit of land himself) advised that the young man should be sent
to college; and Mr. Earnshaw agreed, though with a heavy spirit,
for he said - 'Hindley was nought, and would never thrive as where
I hoped heartily we should have peace now. It hurt me to think the
master should be made uncomfortable by his own good deed. I
fancied the discontent of age and disease arose from his family
disagreements; as he would have it that it did: really, you know,
sir, it was in his sinking frame. We might have got on tolerably,
notwithstanding, but for two people - Miss Cathy, and Joseph, the
servant: you saw him, I daresay, up yonder. He was, and is yet
most likely, the wearisomest self-righteous Pharisee that ever
ransacked a Bible to rake the promises to himself and fling the
curses to his neighbours. By his knack of sermonising and pious
discoursing, he contrived to make a great impression on Mr.
Earnshaw; and the more feeble the master became, the more influence
he gained. He was relentless in worrying him about his soul's
concerns, and about ruling his children rigidly. He encouraged him
to regard Hindley as a reprobate; and, night after night, he
regularly grumbled out a long string of tales against Heathcliff
and Catherine: always minding to flatter Earnshaw's weakness by
heaping the heaviest blame on the latter.
Certainly she had ways with her such as I never saw a child take up
before; and she put all of us past our patience fifty times and
oftener in a day: from the hour she came down-stairs till the hour
she went to bed, we had not a minute's security that she wouldn't
be in mischief. Her spirits were always at high-water mark, her
tongue always going - singing, laughing, and plaguing everybody who
would not do the same. A wild, wicked slip she was - but she had
the bonniest eye, the sweetest smile, and lightest foot in the
parish: and, after all, I believe she meant no harm; for when once
she made you cry in good earnest, it seldom happened that she would
not keep you company, and oblige you to be quiet that you might
comfort her. She was much too fond of Heathcliff. The greatest
punishment we could invent for her was to keep her separate from
him: yet she got chided more than any of us on his account. In
play, she liked exceedingly to act the little mistress; using her
hands freely, and commanding her companions: she did so to me, but
I would not bear slapping and ordering; and so I let her know.
Now, Mr. Earnshaw did not understand jokes from his children: he
had always been strict and grave with them; and Catherine, on her
part, had no idea why her father should be crosser and less patient
in his ailing condition than he was in his prime. His peevish
reproofs wakened in her a naughty delight to provoke him: she was
never so happy as when we were all scolding her at once, and she
defying us with her bold, saucy look, and her ready words; turning
Joseph's religious curses into ridicule, baiting me, and doing just
what her father hated most - showing how her pretended insolence,
which he thought real, had more power over Heathcliff than his
kindness: how the boy would do HER bidding in anything, and HIS
only when it suited his own inclination. After behaving as badly
as possible all day, she sometimes came fondling to make it up at
night. 'Nay, Cathy,' the old man would say, 'I cannot love thee,
thou'rt worse than thy brother. Go, say thy prayers, child, and
ask God's pardon. I doubt thy mother and I must rue that we ever
reared thee!' That made her cry, at first; and then being repulsed
continually hardened her, and she laughed if I told her to say she
was sorry for her faults, and beg to be forgiven.
But the hour came, at last, that ended Mr. Earnshaw's troubles on
earth. He died quietly in his chair one October evening, seated by
the fire-side. A high wind blustered round the house, and roared
in the chimney: it sounded wild and stormy, yet it was not cold,
and we were all together - I, a little removed from the hearth,
busy at my knitting, and Joseph reading his Bible near the table
(for the servants generally sat in the house then, after their work
was done). Miss Cathy had been sick, and that made her still; she
leant against her father's knee, and Heathcliff was lying on the
floor with his head in her lap. I remember the master, before he
fell into a doze, stroking her bonny hair - it pleased him rarely
to see her gentle - and saying, 'Why canst thou not always be a
good lass, Cathy?' And she turned her face up to his, and laughed,
and answered, 'Why cannot you always be a good man, father?' But
as soon as she saw him vexed again, she kissed his hand, and said
she would sing him to sleep. She began singing very low, till his
fingers dropped from hers, and his head sank on his breast. Then I
told her to hush, and not stir, for fear she should wake him. We
all kept as mute as mice a full half-hour, and should have done so
longer, only Joseph, having finished his chapter, got up and said
that he must rouse the master for prayers and bed. He stepped
forward, and called him by name, and touched his shoulder; but he
would not move: so he took the candle and looked at him. I
thought there was something wrong as he set down the light; and
seizing the children each by an arm, whispered them to 'frame up-
stairs, and make little din - they might pray alone that evening -
he had summut to do.'
'I shall bid father good-night first,' said Catherine, putting her
arms round his neck, before we could hinder her. The poor thing
discovered her loss directly - she screamed out - 'Oh, he's dead,
Heathcliff! he's dead!' And they both set up a heart-breaking cry.
I joined my wail to theirs, loud and bitter; but Joseph asked what
we could be thinking of to roar in that way over a saint in heaven.
He told me to put on my cloak and run to Gimmerton for the doctor
and the parson. I could not guess the use that either would be of,
then. However, I went, through wind and rain, and brought one, the
doctor, back with me; the other said he would come in the morning.
Leaving Joseph to explain matters, I ran to the children's room:
their door was ajar, I saw they had never lain down, though it was
past midnight; but they were calmer, and did not need me to console
them. The little souls were comforting each other with better
thoughts than I could have hit on: no parson in the world ever
pictured heaven so beautifully as they did, in their innocent talk;
and, while I sobbed and listened, I could not help wishing we were
all there safe together.
MR. HINDLEY came home to the funeral; and - a thing that amazed us,
and set the neighbours gossiping right and left - he brought a wife
with him. What she was, and where she was born, he never informed
us: probably, she had neither money nor name to recommend her, or
he would scarcely have kept the union from his father.
She was not one that would have disturbed the house much on her own
account. Every object she saw, the moment she crossed the
threshold, appeared to delight her; and every circumstance that
took place about her: except the preparing for the burial, and the
presence of the mourners. I thought she was half silly, from her
behaviour while that went on: she ran into her chamber, and made
me come with her, though I should have been dressing the children:
and there she sat shivering and clasping her hands, and asking
repeatedly - 'Are they gone yet?' Then she began describing with
hysterical emotion the effect it produced on her to see black; and
started, and trembled, and, at last, fell a-weeping - and when I
asked what was the matter, answered, she didn't know; but she felt
so afraid of dying! I imagined her as little likely to die as
myself. She was rather thin, but young, and fresh-complexioned,
and her eyes sparkled as bright as diamonds. I did remark, to be
sure, that mounting the stairs made her breathe very quick; that
the least sudden noise set her all in a quiver, and that she
coughed troublesomely sometimes: but I knew nothing of what these
symptoms portended, and had no impulse to sympathise with her. We
don't in general take to foreigners here, Mr. Lockwood, unless they
take to us first.
Young Earnshaw was altered considerably in the three years of his
absence. He had grown sparer, and lost his colour, and spoke and
dressed quite differently; and, on the very day of his return, he
told Joseph and me we must thenceforth quarter ourselves in the
back-kitchen, and leave the house for him. Indeed, he would have
carpeted and papered a small spare room for a parlour; but his wife
expressed such pleasure at the white floor and huge glowing
fireplace, at the pewter dishes and delf-case, and dog-kennel, and
the wide space there was to move about in where they usually sat,
that he thought it unnecessary to her comfort, and so dropped the
She expressed pleasure, too, at finding a sister among her new
acquaintance; and she prattled to Catherine, and kissed her, and
ran about with her, and gave her quantities of presents, at the
beginning. Her affection tired very soon, however, and when she
grew peevish, Hindley became tyrannical. A few words from her,
evincing a dislike to Heathcliff, were enough to rouse in him all
his old hatred of the boy. He drove him from their company to the
servants, deprived him of the instructions of the curate, and
insisted that he should labour out of doors instead; compelling him
to do so as hard as any other lad on the farm.
Heathcliff bore his degradation pretty well at first, because Cathy
taught him what she learnt, and worked or played with him in the
fields. They both promised fair to grow up as rude as savages; the
young master being entirely negligent how they behaved, and what
they did, so they kept clear of him. He would not even have seen
after their going to church on Sundays, only Joseph and the curate
reprimanded his carelessness when they absented themselves; and
that reminded him to order Heathcliff a flogging, and Catherine a
fast from dinner or supper. But it was one of their chief
amusements to run away to the moors in the morning and remain there
all day, and the after punishment grew a mere thing to laugh at.
The curate might set as many chapters as he pleased for Catherine
to get by heart, and Joseph might thrash Heathcliff till his arm
ached; they forgot everything the minute they were together again:
at least the minute they had contrived some naughty plan of
revenge; and many a time I've cried to myself to watch them growing
more reckless daily, and I not daring to speak a syllable, for fear
of losing the small power I still retained over the unfriended
creatures. One Sunday evening, it chanced that they were banished
from the sitting-room, for making a noise, or a light offence of
the kind; and when I went to call them to supper, I could discover
them nowhere. We searched the house, above and below, and the yard
and stables; they were invisible: and, at last, Hindley in a
passion told us to bolt the doors, and swore nobody should let them
in that night. The household went to bed; and I, too, anxious to
lie down, opened my lattice and put my head out to hearken, though
it rained: determined to admit them in spite of the prohibition,
should they return. In a while, I distinguished steps coming up
the road, and the light of a lantern glimmered through the gate. I
threw a shawl over my head and ran to prevent them from waking Mr.
Earnshaw by knocking. There was Heathcliff, by himself: it gave
me a start to see him alone.
'Where is Miss Catherine?' I cried hurriedly. 'No accident, I
hope?' 'At Thrushcross Grange,' he answered; 'and I would have
been there too, but they had not the manners to ask me to stay.'
'Well, you will catch it!' I said: 'you'll never be content till
you're sent about your business. What in the world led you
wandering to Thrushcross Grange?' 'Let me get off my wet clothes,
and I'll tell you all about it, Nelly,' he replied. I bid him
beware of rousing the master, and while he undressed and I waited
to put out the candle, he continued - 'Cathy and I escaped from the
wash-house to have a ramble at liberty, and getting a glimpse of
the Grange lights, we thought we would just go and see whether the
Lintons passed their Sunday evenings standing shivering in corners,
while their father and mother sat eating and drinking, and singing
and laughing, and burning their eyes out before the fire. Do you
think they do? Or reading sermons, and being catechised by their
manservant, and set to learn a column of Scripture names, if they
don't answer properly?' 'Probably not,' I responded. 'They are
good children, no doubt, and don't deserve the treatment you
receive, for your bad conduct.' 'Don't cant, Nelly,' he said:
'nonsense! We ran from the top of the Heights to the park, without
stopping - Catherine completely beaten in the race, because she was
barefoot. You'll have to seek for her shoes in the bog to-morrow.
We crept through a broken hedge, groped our way up the path, and
planted ourselves on a flower-plot under the drawing-room window.
The light came from thence; they had not put up the shutters, and
the curtains were only half closed. Both of us were able to look
in by standing on the basement, and clinging to the ledge, and we
saw - ah! it was beautiful - a splendid place carpeted with
crimson, and crimson-covered chairs and tables, and a pure white
ceiling bordered by gold, a shower of glass-drops hanging in silver
chains from the centre, and shimmering with little soft tapers.
Old Mr. and Mrs. Linton were not there; Edgar and his sisters had
it entirely to themselves. Shouldn't they have been happy? We
should have thought ourselves in heaven! And now, guess what your
good children were doing? Isabella - I believe she is eleven, a
year younger than Cathy - lay screaming at the farther end of the
room, shrieking as if witches were running red-hot needles into
her. Edgar stood on the hearth weeping silently, and in the middle
of the table sat a little dog, shaking its paw and yelping; which,
from their mutual accusations, we understood they had nearly pulled
in two between them. The idiots! That was their pleasure! to
quarrel who should hold a heap of warm hair, and each begin to cry
because both, after struggling to get it, refused to take it. We
laughed outright at the petted things; we did despise them! When
would you catch me wishing to have what Catherine wanted? or find
us by ourselves, seeking entertainment in yelling, and sobbing, and
rolling on the ground, divided by the whole room? I'd not
exchange, for a thousand lives, my condition here, for Edgar
Linton's at Thrushcross Grange - not if I might have the privilege
of flinging Joseph off the highest gable, and painting the house-
front with Hindley's blood!'
'Hush, hush!' I interrupted. 'Still you have not told me,
Heathcliff, how Catherine is left behind?'
'I told you we laughed,' he answered. 'The Lintons heard us, and
with one accord they shot like arrows to the door; there was
silence, and then a cry, "Oh, mamma, mamma! Oh, papa! Oh, mamma,
come here. Oh, papa, oh!" They really did howl out something in
that way. We made frightful noises to terrify them still more, and
then we dropped off the ledge, because somebody was drawing the
bars, and we felt we had better flee. I had Cathy by the hand, and
was urging her on, when all at once she fell down. "Run,
Heathcliff, run!" she whispered. "They have let the bull-dog
loose, and he holds me!" The devil had seized her ankle, Nelly: I
heard his abominable snorting. She did not yell out - no! she
would have scorned to do it, if she had been spitted on the horns
of a mad cow. I did, though: I vociferated curses enough to
annihilate any fiend in Christendom; and I got a stone and thrust
it between his jaws, and tried with all my might to cram it down
his throat. A beast of a servant came up with a lantern, at last,
shouting - "Keep fast, Skulker, keep fast!" He changed his note,
however, when he saw Skulker's game. The dog was throttled off;
his huge, purple tongue hanging half a foot out of his mouth, and
his pendent lips streaming with bloody slaver. The man took Cathy
up; she was sick: not from fear, I'm certain, but from pain. He
carried her in; I followed, grumbling execrations and vengeance.
"What prey, Robert?" hallooed Linton from the entrance. "Skulker
has caught a little girl, sir," he replied; "and there's a lad
here," he added, making a clutch at me, "who looks an out-and-
outer! Very like the robbers were for putting them through the
window to open the doors to the gang after all were asleep, that
they might murder us at their ease. Hold your tongue, you foul-
mouthed thief, you! you shall go to the gallows for this. Mr.
Linton, sir, don't lay by your gun." "No, no, Robert," said the
old fool. "The rascals knew that yesterday was my rent-day: they
thought to have me cleverly. Come in; I'll furnish them a
reception. There, John, fasten the chain. Give Skulker some
water, Jenny. To beard a magistrate in his stronghold, and on the
Sabbath, too! Where will their insolence stop? Oh, my dear Mary,
look here! Don't be afraid, it is but a boy - yet the villain
scowls so plainly in his face; would it not be a kindness to the
country to hang him at once, before he shows his nature in acts as
well as features?" He pulled me under the chandelier, and Mrs.
Linton placed her spectacles on her nose and raised her hands in
horror. The cowardly children crept nearer also, Isabella lisping
- "Frightful thing! Put him in the cellar, papa. He's exactly
like the son of the fortune-teller that stole my tame pheasant.
Isn't he, Edgar?"
'While they examined me, Cathy came round; she heard the last
speech, and laughed. Edgar Linton, after an inquisitive stare,
collected sufficient wit to recognise her. They see us at church,
you know, though we seldom meet them elsewhere. "That's Miss
Earnshaw?" he whispered to his mother, "and look how Skulker has
bitten her - how her foot bleeds!"
'"Miss Earnshaw? Nonsense!" cried the dame; "Miss Earnshaw
scouring the country with a gipsy! And yet, my dear, the child is
in mourning - surely it is - and she may be lamed for life!"
'"What culpable carelessness in her brother!" exclaimed Mr. Linton,
turning from me to Catherine. "I've understood from Shielders"'
(that was the curate, sir) '"that he lets her grow up in absolute
heathenism. But who is this? Where did she pick up this
companion? Oho! I declare he is that strange acquisition my late
neighbour made, in his journey to Liverpool - a little Lascar, or
an American or Spanish castaway."
'"A wicked boy, at all events," remarked the old lady, "and quite
unfit for a decent house! Did you notice his language, Linton?
I'm shocked that my children should have heard it."
'I recommenced cursing - don't be angry, Nelly - and so Robert was
ordered to take me off. I refused to go without Cathy; he dragged
me into the garden, pushed the lantern into my hand, assured me
that Mr. Earnshaw should be informed of my behaviour, and, bidding
me march directly, secured the door again. The curtains were still
looped up at one corner, and I resumed my station as spy; because,
if Catherine had wished to return, I intended shattering their
great glass panes to a million of fragments, unless they let her
out. She sat on the sofa quietly. Mrs. Linton took off the grey
cloak of the dairy-maid which we had borrowed for our excursion,
shaking her head and expostulating with her, I suppose: she was a
young lady, and they made a distinction between her treatment and
mine. Then the woman-servant brought a basin of warm water, and
washed her feet; and Mr. Linton mixed a tumbler of negus, and
Isabella emptied a plateful of cakes into her lap, and Edgar stood
gaping at a distance. Afterwards, they dried and combed her
beautiful hair, and gave her a pair of enormous slippers, and
wheeled her to the fire; and I left her, as merry as she could be,
dividing her food between the little dog and Skulker, whose nose
she pinched as he ate; and kindling a spark of spirit in the vacant
blue eyes of the Lintons - a dim reflection from her own enchanting
face. I saw they were full of stupid admiration; she is so
immeasurably superior to them - to everybody on earth, is she not,
'There will more come of this business than you reckon on,' I
answered, covering him up and extinguishing the light. 'You are
incurable, Heathcliff; and Mr. Hindley will have to proceed to
extremities, see if he won't.' My words came truer than I desired.
The luckless adventure made Earnshaw furious. And then Mr. Linton,
to mend matters, paid us a visit himself on the morrow, and read
the young master such a lecture on the road he guided his family,
that he was stirred to look about him, in earnest. Heathcliff
received no flogging, but he was told that the first word he spoke
to Miss Catherine should ensure a dismissal; and Mrs. Earnshaw
undertook to keep her sister-in-law in due restraint when she
returned home; employing art, not force: with force she would have
found it impossible.
CATHY stayed at Thrushcross Grange five weeks: till Christmas. By
that time her ankle was thoroughly cured, and her manners much
improved. The mistress visited her often in the interval, and
commenced her plan of reform by trying to raise her self-respect
with fine clothes and flattery, which she took readily; so that,
instead of a wild, hatless little savage jumping into the house,
and rushing to squeeze us all breathless, there 'lighted from a
handsome black pony a very dignified person, with brown ringlets
falling from the cover of a feathered beaver, and a long cloth
habit, which she was obliged to hold up with both hands that she
might sail in. Hindley lifted her from her horse, exclaiming
delightedly, 'Why, Cathy, you are quite a beauty! I should
scarcely have known you: you look like a lady now. Isabella
Linton is not to be compared with her, is she, Frances?' 'Isabella
has not her natural advantages,' replied his wife: 'but she must
mind and not grow wild again here. Ellen, help Miss Catherine off
with her things - Stay, dear, you will disarrange your curls - let
me untie your hat.'
I removed the habit, and there shone forth beneath a grand plaid
silk frock, white trousers, and burnished shoes; and, while her
eyes sparkled joyfully when the dogs came bounding up to welcome
her, she dared hardly touch them lest they should fawn upon her
splendid garments. She kissed me gently: I was all flour making
the Christmas cake, and it would not have done to give me a hug;
and then she looked round for Heathcliff. Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw
watched anxiously their meeting; thinking it would enable them to
judge, in some measure, what grounds they had for hoping to succeed
in separating the two friends.
Heathcliff was hard to discover, at first. If he were careless,
and uncared for, before Catherine's absence, he had been ten times
more so since. Nobody but I even did him the kindness to call him
a dirty boy, and bid him wash himself, once a week; and children of
his age seldom have a natural pleasure in soap and water.
Therefore, not to mention his clothes, which had seen three months'
service in mire and dust, and his thick uncombed hair, the surface
of his face and hands was dismally beclouded. He might well skulk
behind the settle, on beholding such a bright, graceful damsel
enter the house, instead of a rough-headed counterpart of himself,
as he expected. 'Is Heathcliff not here?' she demanded, pulling
off her gloves, and displaying fingers wonderfully whitened with
doing nothing and staying indoors.
'Heathcliff, you may come forward,' cried Mr. Hindley, enjoying his
discomfiture, and gratified to see what a forbidding young
blackguard he would be compelled to present himself. 'You may come
and wish Miss Catherine welcome, like the other servants.'
Cathy, catching a glimpse of her friend in his concealment, flew to
embrace him; she bestowed seven or eight kisses on his cheek within
the second, and then stopped, and drawing back, burst into a laugh,
exclaiming, 'Why, how very black and cross you look! and how - how
funny and grim! But that's because I'm used to Edgar and Isabella
Linton. Well, Heathcliff, have you forgotten me?'
She had some reason to put the question, for shame and pride threw
double gloom over his countenance, and kept him immovable.
'Shake hands, Heathcliff,' said Mr. Earnshaw, condescendingly;
'once in a way, that is permitted.'
'I shall not,' replied the boy, finding his tongue at last; 'I
shall not stand to be laughed at. I shall not bear it!' And he
would have broken from the circle, but Miss Cathy seized him again.
'I did not mean to laugh at you,' she said; 'I could not hinder
myself: Heathcliff, shake hands at least! What are you sulky for?
It was only that you looked odd. If you wash your face and brush
your hair, it will be all right: but you are so dirty!'
She gazed concernedly at the dusky fingers she held in her own, and
also at her dress; which she feared had gained no embellishment
from its contact with his.
'You needn't have touched me!' he answered, following her eye and
snatching away his hand. 'I shall be as dirty as I please: and I
like to be dirty, and I will be dirty.'
With that he dashed headforemost out of the room, amid the
merriment of the master and mistress, and to the serious
disturbance of Catherine; who could not comprehend how her remarks
should have produced such an exhibition of bad temper.
After playing lady's-maid to the new-comer, and putting my cakes in
the oven, and making the house and kitchen cheerful with great
fires, befitting Christmas-eve, I prepared to sit down and amuse
myself by singing carols, all alone; regardless of Joseph's
affirmations that he considered the merry tunes I chose as next
door to songs. He had retired to private prayer in his chamber,
and Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw were engaging Missy's attention by sundry
gay trifles bought for her to present to the little Lintons, as an
acknowledgment of their kindness. They had invited them to spend
the morrow at Wuthering Heights, and the invitation had been
accepted, on one condition: Mrs. Linton begged that her darlings
might be kept carefully apart from that 'naughty swearing boy.'
Under these circumstances I remained solitary. I smelt the rich
scent of the heating spices; and admired the shining kitchen
utensils, the polished clock, decked in holly, the silver mugs
ranged on a tray ready to be filled with mulled ale for supper; and
above all, the speckless purity of my particular care - the scoured
and well-swept floor. I gave due inward applause to every object,
and then I remembered how old Earnshaw used to come in when all was
tidied, and call me a cant lass, and slip a shilling into my hand
as a Christmas-box; and from that I went on to think of his
fondness for Heathcliff, and his dread lest he should suffer
neglect after death had removed him: and that naturally led me to
consider the poor lad's situation now, and from singing I changed
my mind to crying. It struck me soon, however, there would be more
sense in endeavouring to repair some of his wrongs than shedding
tears over them: I got up and walked into the court to seek him.
He was not far; I found him smoothing the glossy coat of the new
pony in the stable, and feeding the other beasts, according to
'Make haste, Heathcliff!' I said, 'the kitchen is so comfortable;
and Joseph is up-stairs: make haste, and let me dress you smart
before Miss Cathy comes out, and then you can sit together, with
the whole hearth to yourselves, and have a long chatter till
He proceeded with his task, and never turned his head towards me.
'Come - are you coming?' I continued. 'There's a little cake for
each of you, nearly enough; and you'll need half-an-hour's
I waited five minutes, but getting no answer left him. Catherine
supped with her brother and sister-in-law: Joseph and I joined at
an unsociable meal, seasoned with reproofs on one side and
sauciness on the other. His cake and cheese remained on the table
all night for the fairies. He managed to continue work till nine
o'clock, and then marched dumb and dour to his chamber. Cathy sat
up late, having a world of things to order for the reception of her
new friends: she came into the kitchen once to speak to her old
one; but he was gone, and she only stayed to ask what was the
matter with him, and then went back. In the morning he rose early;
and, as it was a holiday, carried his ill-humour on to the moors;
not re-appearing till the family were departed for church. Fasting
and reflection seemed to have brought him to a better spirit. He
hung about me for a while, and having screwed up his courage,
exclaimed abruptly - 'Nelly, make me decent, I'm going to be good.'
'High time, Heathcliff,' I said; 'you HAVE grieved Catherine:
she's sorry she ever came home, I daresay! It looks as if you
envied her, because she is more thought of than you.'
The notion of ENVYING Catherine was incomprehensible to him, but
the notion of grieving her he understood clearly enough.
'Did she say she was grieved?' he inquired, looking very serious.
'She cried when I told her you were off again this morning.'
'Well, I cried last night,' he returned, 'and I had more reason to
cry than she.'
'Yes: you had the reason of going to bed with a proud heart and an