Bronte extracts

Wuthering Heights

Chapter 1.4

[31] What vain weather-cocks 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 house-keeper."


l here 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 suppose?"

"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 recognize for kin." With this intention I asked Mrs Dean why Heathcliff let [32] 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 again."

"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?"

"It was."

"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 side, the other on the father's side. Heathcliff married Mr Linton's sister."

"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 [33] Wuthering Heights? I beg pardon for asking; but I should like to hear how she is."

"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 further invitation to her story -- I was almost always at Wuthering Heights, because my mother had nursed Mr Hindley Earnshaw (that was [34] 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 downstairs, 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 greatcoat, 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." [35]

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 be 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 greatcoat, 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 be 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 [36] 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 sympathized 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 ideas. 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 [37] 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 I not 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. [38]

"Take my colt, gipsy, then!" said young Earnshaw. "And I pray that he may break your neck. Take him, and be 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.

Volume 2

Chapter 2.1

[155] Another week over -- and I am so many days nearer health, and spring ! I have now heard all my neighbour's history, at different sittings, as the housekeeper could spare time from more important occupations. I'll continue it in her own words, only a little condensed. She is, on the whole, a very fair narrator and I don't think I could improve her style.

In the evening, she said, the evening of my visit to the Heights, I knew, as well as if I saw him, that Mr. Heathcliff was about the place; and I shunned going out, because I still carried his letter in my pocket, and didn't want to be threatened, or teased any more.

I had made up my mind not to give it till my master went somewhere, as I could not guess how its receipt would affect Catherine. The consequence was, that it did not reach her before the lapse of three days. The fourth was Sunday, and I brought it into her room, after the family were gone to church.

There was a man servant left to keep the house with me, and we generally made a practice of locking the doors during the hours of service; but on that occasion the weather was so warm and pleasant that I set them wide open, and, to fulfil my engagement, as I knew who would be coming, I told my companion that the mistress wished very much for some oranges, and he must run [156] over to the village and get a few, to be paid for on the morrow. He departed, and I went upstairs.

Mrs Linton sat in a loose, white dress, with a light shawl over her shoulders, in the recess of the open window as usual. Her thick, long hair had been partly removed at the beginning of her illness, and now she wore it simply combed in its natural tresses over her temples and neck. Her appearance was altered, as I had told Heathcliff; but when she was calm there seemed unearthly beauty in the change.

The flash of her eyes had been succeeded by a dreamy and melancholy softness; they no longer gave the impression of looking at the objects around her; they appeared always to gaze beyond, and far beyond -- you would have said out of this world. Then the paleness of her face -- its haggard aspect having vanished as she recovered flesh -- and the peculiar expression arising from her mental state, though painfully suggestive of their causes, added to the touching interest which she awakened, and -- -invariably to me, I know, and to any person who saw her, I should think -- refuted more tangible proofs of convalescence, and stamped her as one doomed to decay.

A book lay spread on the sill before her, and the scarcely perceptible wind fluttered its leaves at intervals. I believe Linton had laid it there, for she never endeavoured to divert herself with reading or occupation of any kind, and he would spend many an hour in trying to entice her attention to some subject which had formerly been her amusement. She was conscious of his aim, and in her better moods endured his efforts placidly, only showing their uselessness by now and then suppressing a wearied sigh, and checking him at last with the saddest of smiles and kisses. At other times she would turn petulantly away, and hide her face in her hands, or even push him off angrily; and then he took care to let her alone, for he was certain of doing no good.

Gimmerton chapel bells were still ringing, and the full, mellow flow of the beck in the valley came soothingly on the ear. It was a sweet substitute for the yet absent murmur of the summer [157] foliage which drowned that music about the Grange when the trees were in leaf. At Wuthering Heights it always sounded on quiet days following a great thaw or a season of steady rain. And of Wuthering Heights Catherine was thinking as she listened -- that is, if she thought or listened at all; but she had the vague, distant look I mentioned before, which expressed no recognition of material things either by ear or eye.

"There's a letter for you, Mrs Linton," I said, gently inserting it in one hand that rested on her knee. "You must read it immediately, because it wants an answer. Shall I break the seal?" "Yes," she answered, without altering the direction of her eyes. I opened it; it was very short. "Now," I continued, "read it." She drew away her hand, and let it fall. I replaced it in her lap, and stood waiting till it should please her to glance down; but that movement was so long delayed that at last I resumed --

"Must I read it, ma'am? It is from Mr. Heathcliff."

There was a start and a troubled gleam of recollection, and a struggle to arrange her ideas. She lifted the letter, and seemed to peruse it, and when she came to the signature she sighed; yet still I found she had not gathered its import, for, upon my desiring to hear her reply, she merely pointed to the name and gazed at me with mournful and questioning eagerness.

"Well, he wishes to see you," said I, guessing her need of an interpreter. "He's in the garden by this time, and impatient to know what answer I shall bring."

As I spoke I observed a large dog lying on the sunny grass beneath raise its ears as if about to bark, and then, smoothing them back, announce, by a wag of the tail, that some one approached whom it did not consider a stranger. Mrs. Linton bent forward and listened breathlessly. The minute after a step traversed the hall. The open house was too tempting for Heathcliff to resist walking in. Most likely he supposed that I was inclined to shirk my promise, and so resolved to trust to his own audacity.

[158] With straining eagerness Catherine gazed towards the entrance of her chamber. He did not hit the right room directly. She motioned me to admit him, but he found it out ere I could reach the door, and in a stride or two was at her side, and had her grasped in his arms.

He neither spoke nor loosed his hold for some five minutes, during which period he bestowed more kisses than ever he gave in his life before, I dare say; but then my mistress had kissed him first, and I plainly saw that he could hardly bear, for downright agony, to look into her face. The same conviction had stricken him as me, from the instant he beheld her, that there was no prospect of ultimate recovery there; she was fated, sure to die.

"O Cathy! O my life! how can I bear it?" was the first sentence he uttered, in a tone that did not seek to disguise his despair. And now he stared at her so earnestly that I thought the very intensity of his gaze would bring tears into his eyes; but they burned with anguish -- they did not melt.

"What now?" said Catherine, leaning back and returning his look with a suddenly clouded brow. Her humour was a mere vane for constantly varying caprices. "You and Edgar have broken my heart, Heathcliff! And you both come to bewail the deed to me, as if you were the people to be pitied! I shall not pity you, not I. You have killed me -- and thriven on it, I think. How strong you are! How many years do you mean to live after I am gone?"

Heathcliff had knelt on one knee to embrace her. He attempted to rise, but she seized his hair and kept him down.

"I wish I could hold you," she continued bitterly, "till we were both dead! I shouldn't care what you suffered. I care nothing for your sufferings. Why shouldn't you suffer? I do! Will you forget me? Will you be happy when I am in the earth? Will you say twenty years hence, 'That's the grave of Catherine Earnshaw. I loved her long ago, and was wretched to lose her; but it is past. I've loved many others since. My children are dearer to me than she was, and at death I shall not rejoice that I am going to [159] her; I shall be sorry that I must leave them.' Will you say so, Heathcliff?"

"Don't torture me till I'm as mad as yourself," cried he, wrenching his head free and grinding his teeth.

The two, to a cool spectator, made a strange and fearful picture. Well might Catherine deem that heaven would be a land of exile to her, unless with her mortal body she cast away her moral character also. Her present countenance had a wild vindictiveness in its white cheek, and a bloodless lip and a scintillating eye; and she retained in her closed fingers a portion of the locks she had been grasping. As to her companion, while raising himself with one hand, he had taken her arm with the other, and so inadequate was his stock of gentleness to the requirements of her condition that on his letting go I saw four distinct impressions left blue in the colourless skin.

"Are you possessed with a devil," he pursued savagely, "to talk in that manner to me when you are dying? Do you reflect that all those words will be branded in my memory, and eating deeper eternally after you have left me? You know you lie to say I have killed you; and, Catherine, you know that I could as soon forget you as my existence! Is it not sufficient for your infernal selfishness that, while you are at peace, I shall writhe in the torments of hell?"

"I shall not be at peace," moaned Catherine, recalled to a sense of physical weakness by the violent, unequal throbbing of her heart, which beat visibly and audibly under this excess of agitation. She said nothing further till the paroxysm was over, then she continued more kindly, --

"I'm not wishing you greater torment than I have, Heathcliff. I only wish us never to be parted; and should a word of mine distress you hereafter, think I feel the same distress underground, and for my own sake forgive me! Come here and kneel down again. You never harmed me in your life. Nay, if you nurse anger, that will be worse to remember than my harsh words. Won't you come here again? Do!"

Heathcliff went to the back of her chair and leant over, but [160] not so far as to let her see his face, which was livid with emotion. She bent round to look at him. He would not permit it. Turning abruptly, he walked to the fireplace, where he stood, silent, with his back towards us. Mrs Linton's glance followed him suspiciously. Every movement woke a new sentiment in her. After a pause and a prolonged gaze she resumed, addressing me in accents of indignant disappointment, --

"Oh, you see, Nelly, he would not relent a moment to keep me out of the grave! That is how I'm loved! Well, never mind. That is not my Heathcliff. I shall love mine yet, and take him with me; he's in my soul. And," added she musingly, "the thing that irks me most is this shattered prison, after all. I'm tired of being enclosed here. I'm wearying to escape into that glorious world, and to be always there -- not seeing it dimly through tears, and yearning for it through the walls of an aching heart, but really with it and in it. Nelly, you think you are better and more fortunate than I, in full health and strength. You are sorry for me. Very soon that will be altered. I shall be sorry for you. I shall be incomparably beyond and above you all. I wonder he won't be near me!" she went on to herself. "I thought he wished it -- Heathcliff dear, you should not be sullen now. Do come to me, Heathcliff."

In her eagerness she rose and supported herself on the arm of the chair. At that earnest appeal he turned to her, looking absolutely desperate. His eyes, wide and wet, at last flashed fiercely on her; his breast heaved convulsively. An instant they held asunder, and then how they met I hardly saw, but Catherine made a spring, and he caught her, and they were locked in an embrace from which I thought my mistress would never be released alive -- in fact, to my eyes, she seemed directly insensible. He flung himself into the nearest seat, and on my approaching hurriedly to ascertain if she had fainted, he gnashed at me and foamed like a mad dog, and gathered her to him with greedy jealousy. I did not feel as if I were in the company of a creature of my own species. It appeared that he would not understand, [161] though I spoke to him, so I stood off and held my tongue in great perplexity.

A movement of Catherine's relieved me a little presently. She put up her hand to clasp his neck, and bring her cheek to his as he held her; while he, in return, covering her with frantic caresses, said wildly, -- -

"You teach me now how cruel you've been -- cruel and false. Why did you despise me? Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have not one word of comfort. You deserve this. You have killed yourself. Yes, you may kiss me, and cry, and wring out my kisses and tears; they'll blight you -- they'll damn you. You loved me; then what right had you to leave me? What right -- answer me -- for the poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery, and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of your own will, did it. I have not broken your heart -- you have broken it; and in breaking it you have broken mine. So much the worse for me that I am strong. Do I want to live? What kind of living will it be when you -- -- O God! would you like to live with your soul in the grave?"

"Let me alone! let me alone!" sobbed Catherine. "If I've done wrong, I'm dying for it. It is enough! You left me too; but I won't upbraid you. I forgive you. Forgive me." "It is hard to forgive, and to look at those eyes, and feel those wasted hands," he answered. "Kiss me again, and don't let me see your eyes. I forgive what you have done to me. I love my murderer -- but yours! How can I?"

They were silent -- -their faces hid against each other, and washed by each other's tears. At least, I suppose the weeping was on both sides, as it seemed Heathcliff could weep on a great occasion like this.

I grew very uncomfortable, meanwhile, for the afternoon wore fast away, the man whom I had sent off returned from his errand, and I could distinguish by the shine of the western sun up the valley a concourse thickening outside Gimmerton chapel porch. [162]

"Service is over," I announced. "My master will be here in half an hour."

Heathcliff groaned a curse, and strained Catherine closer. She never moved.

Ere long I perceived a group of the servants passing up the road towards the kitchen wing. Mr Linton was not far behind. He opened the gate himself, and sauntered slowly up, probably enjoying the lovely afternoon, that breathed as soft as summer.

"Now he is here!" I exclaimed. "For Heaven's sake hurry down! You'll not meet any one on the front stairs. Do be quick, and stay among the trees till he is fairly in."

"I must go, Cathy," said Heathcliff, seeking to extricate himself from his companion's arms. "But if I live I'll see you again before you are asleep. I won't stray five yards from your window."

"You must not go!" she answered, holding him as firmly as her strength allowed. "You shall not, I tell you."

"For one hour," he pleaded earnestly.

"Not for one minute," she replied.

"I must; Linton will be up immediately," persisted the alarmed intruder.

He would have risen and unfixed her fingers by the act; she clung fast, gasping. There was mad resolution in her face.

"No!" she shrieked. "Oh, don't, don't go! It is the last time! Edgar will not hurt us. Heathcliff, I shall die! I shall die!"

"Damn the fool! There he is!" cried Heathcliff, sinking back into his seat. "Hush, my darling! Hush, hush, Catherine! I'll stay. If he shot me so, I'd expire with a blessing on my lips."

And there they were fast again. I heard my master mounting the stairs. The cold sweat ran from my forehead; I was horrified.

"Are you going to listen to her ravings?" I said passionately. "She does not know what she says. Will you ruin her because she has not wit to help herself? Get up! You could be free instantly. That is the most diabolical deed that ever you did. We are all done for -- master, mistress, and servant."

I wrung my hands and cried out, and Mr Linton hastened his step at the noise. In the midst of my agitation I was sincerely glad to observe that Catherine's arms had fallen relaxed, and her head hung down.

"She's fainted or dead," I thought; "so much the better. Far better that she should be dead than lingering a burden and a misery-maker to all about her."

Edgar sprang to his unbidden guest, blanched with astonishment and rage. What he meant to do I cannot tell. However, the other stopped all demonstrations at once by placing the lifeless-looking form in his arms.

"Look there!" he said. "Unless you be a fiend, help her first; then you shall speak to me!"

He walked into the parlour and sat down. Mr Linton summoned me, and with great difficulty, and after resorting to many means, we managed to restore her to sensation; but she was all bewildered. She sighed and moaned, and knew nobody. Edgar, in his anxiety for her, forgot her hated friend. I did not. I went at the earliest opportunity and besought him to depart, affirming that Catherine was better, and he should hear from me in the morning how she passed the night.

"I shall not refuse to go out of doors," he answered, "but I shall stay in the garden; and, Nelly, mind you keep your word to-morrow. I shall be under those larch trees. Mind! or I pay another visit, whether Linton be in or not."

He sent a rapid glance through the half-open door of the chamber, and, ascertaining that what I stated was apparently true, delivered the house of his luckless presence.

Chapter 2.2

[164] About twelve o'clock, that night, was born the Catherine you saw at Wuthering Heights, a puny, seven months' child; and two hours after the mother died, having never recovered sufficient consciousness to miss Heathcliff, or know Edgar.

The latter's distraction at his bereavement is a subject too painful to be dwelt on; its after effects showed how deep the sorrow sunk.

A great addition, in my eyes, was his-being left without an heir. I bemoaned that, as I gazed on the feeble orphan; and I mentally abused old Linton for, what was only natural partiality, the securing his estate to his own daughter, instead of his son's.

An unwelcomed infant it was, poor thing ! It might have wailed out of life, and nobody cared a morsel, during those first hours of existence. We redeemed the neglect afterwards; but its beginning was as friendless as its end is likely to be.

Next morning -- bright and cheerful out of doors -- stole softened in through the blinds of the silent room, and suffused the couch and its occupant with a mellow, tender glow.

Edgar Linton had his head laid on the pillow, and his eyes shut. His young and fair features were almost as death-like as those of the form beside him, and almost as fixed; but his was the hush of exhausted anguish, and hers of perfect peace. Her brow smooth, her lids closed, her lips wearing the expression of a smile, no angel in heaven could be more beautiful than she appeared; and I partook of the infinite calm in which she lay. My mind was never in a holier frame than while I gazed on that untroubled image of Divine rest. I instinctively echoed the words she had uttered, a few hours before. "Incomparably beyond and above us all ! Whether still on earth or now in Heaven, her spirit is at home with God!"

I don't know if it be a peculiarity in me, but I am seldom [165] otherwise than happy while watching in the chamber of death, should no frenzied or despairing mourner share the duty with me. I see a repose that neither earth nor hell can break, and I feel an assurance of the endless and shadowless hereafter -- the eternity they have entered -- where life is boundless in its duration, and love in its sympathy, and joy in its fullness. I noticed on that occasion how much selfishness there is even in a love like Mr. Linton's, when he so regretted Catherine's blessed release.

To be sure, one might have doubted, after the wayward and impatient existence she had led, whether she merited a haven of peace at last. One might doubt in seasons of cold reflection, but not then, in the presence of her corpse. It asserted its own tranquillity, which seemed a pledge of equal quiet to its former inhabitants.

Do you believe such people are happy in the other world, sir? I'd give a great deal to know.

I declined answering Mrs Dean's question, which struck me as something heterodox. She proceeded, -- -

Retracing the course of Catherine Linton, I fear we have no right to think she is; but we'll leave her with her Maker.

The master looked asleep, and I ventured soon after sunrise to quit the room and steal out to the pure refreshing air. The servants thought me gone to shake off the drowsiness of my protracted watch; in reality, my chief motive was seeing Mr. Heathcliff. If he had remained among the larches all night he would have heard nothing of the stir at the Grange -- unless, perhaps, he might catch the gallop of the messenger going to Gimmerton. If he had come nearer he would probably be aware, from the lights flitting to and fro, and the opening and shutting of the outer doors, that all was not right within. I wished yet feared to find him. I felt the terrible news must be told, and I longed to get it over; but how to do it I did not know. He was there -- at least a few yards farther in the park -- leant against an old ash tree, his hat off, and his hair soaked with the dew that had gathered on the budded branches, and fell pattering round him. He had been standing a long time in that position, for I saw a pair of ousels passing and repassing scarcely three feet [166] from him, busy in building their nest, and regarding his proximity no more than that of a piece of timber. They flew off at my approach, and he raised his eyes and spoke.

"She's dead!" he said. "I've not waited for you to learn that. Put your handkerchief away; don't snivel before me. Damn you all! she wants none of your tears!"

I was weeping as much for him as her; we do sometimes pity creatures that have none of the feeling either for themselves or others. When I first looked into his face, I perceived that he had got intelligence of the catastrophe; and a foolish notion struck me that his heart was quelled, and he prayed, because his lips moved, and his gaze was bent on the ground.

"Yes, she's dead!" I answered, checking my sobs and drying my cheeks -- "gone to heaven, I hope, where we may, every one, join her, if we take due warning and leave our evil ways to follow good!"

"Did she take due warning, then?" asked Heathcliff, attempting a sneer. "Did she die like a saint? Come, give me a true history of the event. How did -- -- "

He endeavoured to pronounce the name, but could not manage it; and compressing his mouth he held a silent combat with his inward agony, defying, meanwhile, my sympathy with an unflinching ferocious stare. "How did she die?" he resumed at last, fain, notwithstanding his hardihood, to have a support behind him; for, after the struggle, he trembled, in spite of himself, to his very finger-ends.

"Poor wretch!" I thought, "you have a heart and nerves the same as your brother men! Why should you be anxious to conceal them? Your pride cannot blind God. You tempt Him to wring them till He forces a cry of humiliation."

"Quietly as a lamb!" I answered aloud. "She drew a sigh, and stretched herself, like a child reviving, and sinking again to sleep; and five minutes after I felt one little pulse at her heart, and nothing more!"

"And -- did she ever mention me?" he asked, hesitating, as if he dreaded the answer to his question would introduce details that he could not bear to hear.

[167] "Her senses never returned. She recognized nobody from the time you left her," I said. "She lies with a sweet smile on her face, and her latest ideas wandered back to pleasant early days. Her life closed in a gentle dream. May she wake as kindly in the other world!"

"May she wake in torment!" he cried with frightful vehemence, stamping his foot and groaning in a sudden paroxysm of ungovernable passion. "Why, she's a liar to the end. Where is she? Not there -- not in heaven -- not perished -- where? -- Oh! you said you cared nothing for my sufferings! And I pray one prayer -- I repeat it till my tongue stiffens -- Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living! You said I killed you -- haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always -- -take any form -- drive me mad -- only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! O God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!"

He dashed his head against the knotted trunk, and, lifting up his eyes, howled -- not like a man, but like a savage beast being goaded to death with knives and spears. I observed several splashes of blood about the bark of the tree, and his hand and forehead were both stained; probably the scene I witnessed was a repetition of others acted during the night. It hardly moved my compassion -- it appalled me; still I felt reluctant to quit him so. But the moment he recollected himself enough to notice me watching, he thundered a command for me to go, and I obeyed. He was beyond my skill to quiet or console.

Chapter 2.20

[326] For some days after that evening, Mr Heathcliff shunned meeting us at meals; yet he would not consent, formally, to exclude Hareton and Cathy. He had an aversion to yielding so completely to his feelings, choosing rather to absent himself -- And eating once in twenty-four hours seemed sufficient sustenance for him.

One night, after the family were in bed, I heard him go down stairs, and out at the front door: I did not hear him re-enter and, in the morning, I found he was still away.

We were in April then: the weather was sweet and warm, the grass as green as showers and sun could make it, and the two dwarf apple trees, near the southern wall, in full bloom.

After breakfast, Catherine insisted on my bringing a chair, and sitting, with my work, under the fir trees at the end of the house; and she beguiled Hareton, who had perfectly recovered from his accident, to dig and arrange her little garden, which was shifted to that corner by the influence of Joseph's complaints.

I was comfortably revelling in the spring fragrance around, and the beautiful soft blue overhead, when my young lady, who had run down near the gate to procure some primrose roots for a border, returned only half laden, and informed us that Mr. Heathcliff was coming in.

"And he spoke to me," she added, with a perplexed countenance.

"What did he say ?" asked Hareton.

"He told me to begone as fast as I could," she answered. "But he looked so different from his usual look that I stopped a moment to stare at him."

"How ?" he enquired.

"Why, almost bright and cheerful -- No, almost nothing -- very much excited, and wild and glad !" she replied.

[327] "Night-walking amuses him, then," I remarked, affecting a careless manner -- in reality as surprised as she was, and anxious to ascertain the truth of her statement, for to see the master looking glad would not be an every-day spectacle. I framed an excuse to go in. Heathcliff stood at the open door. He was pale, and he trembled, yet certainly he had a strange, joyful glitter in his eyes that altered the aspect of his whole face.

"Will you have some breakfast?" I said. "You must be hungry rambling about all night." I wanted to discover where he had been, but I did not like to ask directly.

"No, I'm not hungry," he answered, averting his head and speaking rather contemptuously, as if he guessed I was trying to divine the occasion of his good-humour.

I felt perplexed. I didn't know whether it were not a proper opportunity to offer a bit of admonition.

"I don't think it right to wander out of doors," I observed, "instead of being in bed. It is not wise, at any rate, this moist season. I dare say you'll catch a bad cold or a fever. You have something the matter with you now."

"Nothing but what I can bear," he replied, "and with the greatest pleasure, provided you'll leave me alone. Get in, and don't annoy me."

I obeyed, and in passing I noticed he breathed as fast as a cat.

"Yes," I reflected to myself, "we shall have a fit of illness. I cannot conceive what he has been doing."

That noon he sat down to dinner with us, and received a heaped-up plate from my hands, as if he intended to make amends for previous fasting.

"I've neither cold nor fever, Nelly," he remarked, in allusion to my morning's speech, "and I'm ready to do justice to the food you give me."

He took his knife and fork, and was going to commence eating, when the inclination appeared to become suddenly extinct. He laid them on the table, looked eagerly towards the window, then rose and went out.

[328] We saw him walking to and fro in the garden while we concluded our meal, and Earnshaw said he'd go and ask why he would not dine; he thought we had grieved him some way.

"Well, is he coming?" cried Catherine, when her cousin returned.

"Nay," he answered; "but he's not angry. He seemed rarely pleased indeed; only I made him impatient by speaking to him twice, and then he bade me be off to you. He wondered how I could want the company of anybody else."

I set his plate to keep warm on the fender, and after an hour or two he re-entered, when the room was clear, in no degree calmer -- the same unnatural (it was unnatural) appearance of joy under his black brows; the same bloodless hue, and his teeth visible, now and then, in a kind of smile; his frame shivering -- not as one shivers with chill or weakness, but as a tight-stretched cord vibrates -- a strong thrilling rather than trembling.

I will ask what is the matter, I thought; or who should? And I exclaimed, --

"Have you heard any good news, Mr. Heathcliff? You look uncommonly animated."

"Where should good news come from to me?" he said. "I'm animated with hunger, and seemingly I must not eat."

"Your dinner is here," I returned; "why won't you get it?"

"I don't want it now," he muttered hastily. "I'll wait till supper. And, Nelly, once for all, let me beg you to warn Hareton and the other away from me. I wish to be troubled by nobody. I wish to have this place to myself."

"Is there some new reason for this banishment?" I inquired. "Tell me why you are so queer, Mr Heathcliff. Where were you last night? I'm not putting the question through idle curiosity, but -- -- "

"You are putting the question through very idle curiosity," he interrupted, with a laugh. "Yes, I'll answer it. Last night I was on the threshold of hell. Today I am within sight of my heaven. I have my eyes on it -- hardly three feet to sever me. And now you'd better go. You'll neither see nor hear anything to frighten you if you refrain from prying."

[329] Having swept the hearth and wiped the table, I departed, more perplexed than ever.

He did not quit the house again that afternoon, and no one intruded on his solitude, till, at eight o'clock, I deemed it proper, though unsummoned, to carry a candle and his supper to him. He was leaning against the ledge of an open lattice, but not looking out; his face was turned to the interior gloom. The fire had smouldered to ashes; the room was filled with the damp, mild air of the cloudy evening, and so still that not only the murmur of the beck down Gimmerton was distinguishable, but its ripples and its gurgling over the pebbles, or through the large stones which it could not cover. I uttered an ejaculation of discontent at seeing the dismal grate, and commenced shutting the casements, one after another, till I came to his.

"Must I close this?" I asked, in order to rouse him, for he would not stir.

The light flashed on his features as I spoke. O Mr. Lockwood, I cannot express what a terrible start I got by the momentary view -- those deep black eyes, that smile and ghastly paleness! It appeared to me not Mr. Heathcliff, but a goblin; and in my terror I let the candle bend towards the wall, and it left me in darkness.

"Yes, close it," he replied, in his familiar voice.

"There, that is pure awkwardness! Why did you hold the candle horizontally? Be quick, and bring another."

I hurried out in a foolish state of dread, and said to Joseph, --

"The master wishes you to take him a light and rekindle the fire." For I dare not go in myself again just then.

Joseph rattled some fire into the shovel, and went; but he brought it back immediately with the supper-tray in his other hand, explaining that Mr. Heathcliff was going to bed, and he wanted nothing to eat till morning. We heard him mount the stairs directly. He did not proceed to his ordinary chamber, but turned into that with the panelled bed. Its window, as I mentioned before, is wide enough for anybody [330] to get through; and it struck me that he plotted another midnight excursion, of which he had rather we had no suspicion.

"Is he a ghoul or a vampire?" I mused. I had read of such hideous incarnate demons. And then I set myself to reflect how I had tended him in infancy, and watched him grow to youth, and followed him almost through his whole course, and what absurd nonsense it was to yield to that sense of horror. "But where did he come from, the little dark thing, harboured by a good man to his bane?" muttered Superstition, as I dozed into unconsciousness. And I began, half dreaming, to weary myself with imagining some fit parentage for him; and repeating my waking meditations, I tracked his existence over again, with grim variations, at last picturing his death and funeral, of which all I can remember is being exceedingly vexed at having the task of dictating an inscription for his monument, and consulting the sexton about it; and as he had no surname, and we could not tell his age, we were obliged to content ourselves with the single word, "Heathcliff." That came true; we were. If you enter the kirkyard you'll read on his headstone only that, and the date of his death.

Dawn restored me to common-sense. I rose and went into the garden as soon as I could see, to ascertain if there were any footmarks under his window. There were none. "He has stayed at home," I thought, "and he'll be all right to-day." I prepared breakfast for the household, as was my usual custom, but told Hareton and Catherine to get theirs ere the master came down, for he lay late. They preferred taking it out of doors, under the trees, and I set a little table to accommodate them.

On my re-entrance I found Mr. Heathcliff below. He and Joseph were conversing about some farming business. He gave clear, minute directions concerning the matter discussed, but he spoke rapidly, and turned his head continually aside, and had the same excited expression, even more exaggerated. When Joseph quitted the room he took his seat in the place he generally chose, and I put a basin of coffee before him. He drew it nearer, and then rested his arms on the table and looked at the [331] opposite wall, as I supposed, surveying one particular portion, up and down, with glittering, restless eyes, and with such eager interest that he stopped breathing during half a minute together.

"Come now," I exclaimed, pushing some bread against his hand, "eat and drink that while it is hot; it has been waiting near an hour."

He didn't notice me, and yet he smiled. I'd rather have seen him gnash his teeth than smile so.

"Mr Heathcliff! master!" I cried, "don't, for God's sake, stare as if you saw an unearthly vision."

"Don't, for God's sake, shout so loud," he replied.

"Turn round and tell me -- are we by ourselves?"

"Of course," was my answer -- "of course we are."

Still I involuntarily obeyed him, as if I was not quite sure. With a sweep of his hand he cleared a vacant space in front among the breakfast things, and leant forward to gaze more at his ease.

Now I perceived he was not looking at the wall, for when I regarded him alone it seemed exactly that he gazed at something within two yards' distance. And whatever it was, it communicated apparently both pleasure and pain in exquisite extremes -- at least the anguished yet raptured expression of his countenance suggested that idea. The fancied object was not fixed either; his eyes pursued it with unwearied diligence, and, even in speaking to me, were never weaned away. I vainly reminded him of his protracted abstinence from food. If he stirred to touch anything in compliance with my entreaties, if he stretched his hand out to get a piece of bread, his fingers clenched before they reached it, and remained on the table, forgetful of their aim. I sat, a model of patience, trying to attract his absorbed attention from its engrossing speculation, till he grew irritable, and got up, asking why I would not allow him to have his own time [332] in taking his meals, and saying that on the next occasion I needn't wait -- I might set the things down and go. Having uttered these words he left the house, slowly sauntered down the garden path, and disappeared through the gate. The hours crept anxiously by; another evening came. I did not retire to rest till late, and when I did I could not sleep. He returned after midnight, and instead of going to bed, shut himself into the room beneath. I listened and tossed about, and finally dressed and descended. It was too irksome to lie there harassing my brain with a hundred idle misgivings.

I distinguished Mr Heathcliff's step restlessly measuring the floor, and he frequently broke the silence by a deep inspiration resembling a groan. He muttered detached words also. The only one I could catch was the name of Catherine, coupled with some wild term of endearment or suffering, and spoken as one would speak to a person present -- low and earnest, and wrung from the depth of his soul. I had not courage to walk straight into the apartment, but I desired to divert him from his reverie, and therefore fell foul of the kitchen fire, stirred it, and began to scrape the cinders. It drew him forth sooner than I expected. He opened the door immediately, and said, --

"Nelly, come here. Is it morning? Come in with your light."

"It is striking four," I answered. "You want a candle to take upstairs. You might have lit one at this fire."

"No, I don't wish to go upstairs," he said. "Come in and kindle me a fire, and do anything there is to do about the room."

"I must blow the coals red first before I can carry any," I replied, getting a chair and the bellows.

He roamed to and fro, meantime, in a state approaching distraction, his heavy sighs succeeding each other so thick as to leave no space for common breathing between.

"When day breaks I'll send for Green," he said. "I wish to [333] make some legal inquiries of him while I can bestow a thought on those matters, and while I can act calmly. I have not written my will yet, and how to leave my property I cannot determine. I wish I could annihilate it from the face of the earth."

"I would not talk so, Mr. Heathcliff," I interposed. "Let your will be a while; you'll be spared to repent of your many injustices yet. I never expected that your nerves would be disordered. They are at present marvellously so, however, and almost entirely through your own fault. The way you've passed these three last days might knock up a Titan. Do take some food and some repose. You need only look at yourself in a glass to see how you require both. Your cheeks are hollow, and your eyes bloodshot, like a person starving with hunger and going blind with loss of sleep."

"It is not my fault that I cannot eat or rest," he replied. "I assure you it is through no settled designs. I'll do both as soon as I possibly can. But you might as well bid a man struggling in the water rest within arm's length of the shore! I must reach it first, and then I'll rest. Well, never mind Mr. Green. As to repenting of my injustices, I've done no injustice, and I repent of nothing. I'm too happy; and yet I'm not happy enough. My soul's bliss kills my body, but does not satisfy itself."

"Happy, master?" I cried. "Strange happiness! If you would hear me without being angry, I might offer some advice that would make you happier."

"What is that?" he asked. "Give it."

"You are aware, Mr Heathcliff," I said, "that from the time you were thirteen years old you have lived a selfish, unchristian life, and probably hardly had a Bible in your hands during all that period. You must have forgotten the contents of the book, and you may not have space to search it now. Could it be hurtful to send for some one (some minister of any denomination -- it does not matter which) to explain it, and show you how very far you have erred from its precepts, and how unfit you will be for its heaven, unless a change takes place before you die?"

[334] "I'm rather obliged than angry, Nelly," he said, "for you remind me of the manner in which I desire to be buried. It is to be carried to the churchyard in the evening. "You and Hareton may, if you please, accompany me; and mind particularly to notice that the sexton obeys my directions concerning the two coffins. No minister need come, nor need anything be said over me. I tell you I have nearly attained my heaven, and that of others is altogether unvalued and uncoveted by me."

"And supposing you persevered in your obstinate fast, and died by that means, and they refused to bury you in the precincts of the kirk?" I said, shocked at his godless indifference. "How would you like it?"

"They won't do that," he replied. "If they did, you must have me removed secretly; and if you neglect it you shall prove, practically, that the dead are not annihilated."

As soon as he heard the other members of the family stirring he retired to his den, and I breathed freer. But in the afternoon, while Joseph and Hareton were at their work, he came into the kitchen again, and with a wild look bade me come and sit in the house; he wanted somebody with him. I declined, telling him plainly that his strange talk and manner frightened me, and I had neither the nerve nor the will to be his companion alone.

"I believe you think me a fiend," he said, with his dismal laugh -- "something too horrible to live under a decent roof." Then turning to Catherine, who was there, and who drew behind me at his approach, he added, half sneeringly, "Will you come, chuck? I'll not hurt you. No! To you I've made myself worse than the devil. Well, there is one who won't shrink from my company. By God, she's relentless! Oh, damn it! It's unutterably too much for flesh and blood to bear -- even mine."

He solicited the society of no one more. At dusk he went into his chamber. Through the whole night, and far into the morning, we heard him groaning and murmuring to himself. Hareton was anxious to enter, but I bade him fetch Mr Kenneth, and he should go in and see him.

[335] When he came, and I requested admittance and tried to open the door, I found it locked, and Heathcliff bade us be damned. He was better, and would be left alone; so the doctor went away.

The following evening was very wet -- indeed it poured down till day-dawn; and as I took my morning walk round the house I observed the master's window swinging open, and the rain driving straight in. He cannot be in bed, I thought; those showers would drench him through. He must either be up or out. But I'll make no more ado; I'll go boldly and look."

Having succeeded in obtaining entrance with another key, I ran to unclose the panels, for the chamber was vacant. Quickly pushing them aside, I peeped in. Mr. Heathcliff was there, laid on his back. His eyes met mine so keen and fierce, I started; and then he seemed to smile. I could not think him dead; but his face and throat were washed with rain, the bedclothes dripped, and he was perfectly still. The lattice, flapping to and fro, had grazed one hand that rested on the sill. No blood trickled from the broken skin, and when I put my fingers to it I could doubt no more -- he was dead and stark!

I hasped the window; I combed his black long hair from his forehead; I tried to close his eyes -- to extinguish, if possible, that frightful, life-like gaze of exultation before any one else beheld it. They would not shut -- they seemed to sneer at my attempts; and his parted lips and sharp white teeth sneered too. Taken with another fit of cowardice, I cried out for Joseph. Joseph shuffled up and made a noise, but resolutely refused to meddle with him.

"Th' divil's harried off his soul," he cried, "and he may hev his carcass into t' bargain for aught I care! Ech! what a wicked un he looks girning at death!" and the old sinner grinned in mockery. I thought he intended to cut a caper round the bed; but suddenly composing himself, he fell on his knees, and raised his hands, and returned thanks that the lawful master and the ancient stock were restored to their rights.

[336] I felt stunned by the awful event, and my memory unavoidably recurred to former times with a sort of oppressive sadness. But poor Hareton, the most wronged, was the only one who really suffered much. He sat by the corpse all night, weeping in bitter earnest. He pressed its hand, and kissed the sarcastic, savage face that every one else shrank from contemplating, and bemoaned him with that strong grief which springs naturally from a generous heart, though it be tough as tempered steel.

Mr. Kenneth was perplexed to pronounce of what disorder the master died. I concealed the fact of his having swallowed nothing for four days, fearing it might lead to trouble; and then I am persuaded he did not abstain on purpose -- it was the consequence of his strange illness, not the cause.

We buried him, to the scandal of the whole neighbourhood, as he wished. Earnshaw and I, the sexton, and six men to carry the coffin, comprehended the whole attendance. The six men departed when they had let it down into the grave. We stayed to see it covered. Hareton, with a streaming face, dug green sods and laid them over the brown mould himself. At present it is as smooth and verdant as its companion mounds, and I hope its tenant sleeps as soundly. But the country folks, if you ask them, would swear on the Bible that he walks. There are those who speak to having met him near the church, and on the moor, and even within this house. Idle tales, you'll say, and so say I. Yet that old man by the kitchen fire affirms he has seen two on 'em, looking out of his chamber window, on every rainy night since his death. And an odd thing happened to me about a month ago. I was going to the Grange one evening -- a dark evening, threatening thunder; and just at the turn of the Heights I encountered a little boy with a sheep and two lambs before him. He was crying terribly, and I supposed the lambs were skittish and would not be guided.

"What is the matter, my little man?" I asked.

"There's Heathcliff and a woman yonder, under t' nab," he blubbered, "un I darnut pass 'em."

I saw nothing; but neither the sheep nor he would go on, so I bade him take the road lower down.

[337] He probably raised the phantoms from thinking, as he traversed the moors alone, on the nonsense he had heard his parents and companions repeat. Yet, still I don't like being out in the dark now, and I don't like being left by myself in this grim house. I cannot help it. I shall be glad when they leave it and shift to the Grange.

"They are going to the Grange, then?" I said.

"Yes," answered Mrs Dean, "as soon as they are married, and that will be on New Year's day."

"And who will live here then?"

"Why, Joseph will take care of the house, and perhaps a lad to keep him company. They will live in the kitchen, and the rest will be shut up."

"For the use of such ghosts as choose to inhabit it," I observed.

"No, Mr. Lockwood," said Nelly, shaking her head.

"I believe the dead are at peace, but it is not right to speak of them with levity."

At that moment the garden gate swung to; the ramblers were returning.

"They are afraid of nothing," I grumbled, watching their approach through the window. "Together they would brave Satan and all his legions."

As they stepped on to the door-stones, and halted to take a last look at the moon -- or, more correctly, at each other by her light -- I felt irresistibly impelled to escape them again; and pressing a remembrance into the hand of Mrs. Dean, and disregarding her expostulations at my rudeness, I vanished through the kitchen as they opened the house-door, and so should have confirmed Joseph in his opinion of his fellow-servant's gay indiscretions, had he not fortunately recognized me for a respectable character by the sweet ring of a sovereign at his feet.

My walk home was lengthened by a diversion in the direction of the kirk. When beneath its walls I perceived decay had made progress, even in seven months. Many a window showed black gaps deprived of glass, and slates jutted off here and there beyond the right line of the roof, to be gradually worked off in coming autumn storms.

I sought and soon discovered the three headstones on the [338] slope next the moor -- the middle one gray, and half buried in heath; Edgar Linton's only harmonized by the turf and moss creeping up its foot; Heathcliff's still bare.

I lingered round them under that benign sky, watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.

The End