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
"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
"How?" he inquired.
"Why, almost bright and cheerful -- No, almost nothing -- very
much excited, and wild and glad!" she replied.
"Night-walking amuses him, then," I remarked, affecting a careless
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
"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
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
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
"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.
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 rare and pleased
indeed; only, I made him impatient by speaking to him twice; and
then he bid me be off to you; he wondered how I could want the
company of any body 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.
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
"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.
"Yet, I'll answer it.
Last night, I was on the threshold of hell.
To-day, 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."
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 fllled 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
The light flashed on his features, as I spoke.
Oh, Mr Lockwood, I cannot express what a terrible start I got, by
the momentary view!
Those deep black eyes!
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
"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 to get
through, and it struck me, that he plotted another midnight
excursion, 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
And I began, half dreaming, to weary myself with imaging 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 inscrip
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-
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 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 were 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
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 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.
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 up 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 up
stairs -- you might have lit one at this fire."
"No, I don't wish to go up stairs," 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 make
some legal inquiries of him, while I can bestow a thought on those
matters, and while I can act calmly.
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
Your cheeks are hollow, and your eyes blood-shot, 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 arms-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.
If you would hear me without being angry, I might offer some advice
that would make you happier."
"What is that?" he asked.
"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
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
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?"
"I'm rather obliged than angry, Nelly," he said, "for you remind me
of the manner that I desire to be buried in -- 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, bid 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
"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.
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
Hareton was anxious to enter, but I bid him fetch Mr Kenneth, and
he should go in, and see him.
When he came, and I requested admittance and tried to open the
door, I found it locked; and Heathcliff bid 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
"He cannot be in bed," I thought, "those showers would drench him
He must either be up, or out.
But, I'll make no more ado, I'll go boldly, and look!"
Having succeeded in gaining 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 bed-clothes 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
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 anyone else
They would not shut -- they seemed to sneer at my attempts, and his
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 muh hev his
carcass intuh t' bargin for ow't Aw care!
Ech! what a wicked un he looks girnning 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.
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 that really
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.
Kenneth was perplexed to pronounce of what disorder the master
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
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 asked them, would swear on
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
"What is the matter, my little man?" I asked.
"They's Heathcliff, and a woman, yonder, under t' Nab," he
blubbered, "un' Aw darnut pass 'em."
I saw nothing; but neither the sheep nor he would go on, so I bid
him take the road lower down.
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
"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
At that moment the garden gate swung to; the ramblers were
"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 onto 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 on 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
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 head-stones on the slope
next the moor -- the middle one, grey, 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 hare-bells; listened to the soft
wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could
ever imagine unquiet slumbers, for the sleepers in that quiet