ON the morning of a fine June day, my first bonny
little nursling, and the last of the ancient Earnshaw stock was
We were busy with the hay in a far away field, when the girl that
usually brought our breakfasts came running, an hour too soon,
across the meadow and up the lane, calling me as she ran.
"Oh, such a grand bairn!" she panted out.
"The finest lad that ever breathed!
But the doctor says missis must go; he says she's been in a
consumption these many months.
I heard him tell Mr Hindley -- and now she has nothing to keep her,
and she'll be dead before winter.
You must come home directly.
You're to nurse it, Nelly -- to feed it with sugar and milk, and
take care of it, day and night -- I wish I were you, because it
will be all yours when there is no missis!"
"But is she very ill?" I asked, flinging down my rake, and tying my
"I guess she is; yet she looks bravely," replied the girl, "and she
talks as if she thought of living to see it grow a man.
She's out of her head for joy, it's such a beauty!
If I were her I'm certain I should not die.
I should get better at the bare sight of it, in spite of Kenneth.
I was fairly mad at him.
Dame Archer brought the cherub down to master, in the house, and
his face just began to light up, then the old croaker steps
forward, and, says he: -- 'Earnshaw, it's a blessing your wife has
been spared to leave you this son.
When she came, I felt convinced we shouldn't keep her long; and
now, I must tell you, the winter will probably finish her.
And besides, you should have known better than to choose such a
rush of a lass!' "
"And what did the master answer?" I inquired.
"I think he swore -- but, I didn't mind him, I was straining to see
the bairn," and she began again to describe it rapturously.
I, as zealous as herself, hurried eagerly home to admire, on my
part, though I was very sad for Hindley's sake; he had room in his
heart only for two idols -- his wife and himself -- he doted on
both, and adored one, and I couldn't conceive how he would bear the
When we got to Wuthering Heights, there he stood at the front door;
and, as I passed in, I asked, "how was the baby?"
"Nearly ready to run about, Nell!" he replied, putting on a
"And the mistress?" I ventured to inquire, "the doctor says she's -
- -- "
"Damn the doctor!" he interrupted, reddening.
"Frances is quite right -- she'll be perfectly well by this time
Are you going upstairs? will you tell her that I'll come, if she'll
promise not to talk.
I left her because she would not hold her tongue; and she must --
tell her Mr Kenneth says she must be quiet."
I delivered this message to Mrs Earnshaw; she seemed in flighty
spirits, and replied merrily --
"I hardly spoke a word, Ellen, and there he has gone out twice,
Well, say I promise I won't speak; but that does not bind me not to
laugh at him!"
Till within a week of her death that gay heart never failed her;
and her husband persisted doggedly, nay, furiously, in affirming
her health improved every day.
When Kenneth warned him that his medicines were useless at that
stage of the malady, and he needn't put him to further expense by
"I know you need not -- she's well -- she does not want any more
attendance from you!
She never was in a consumption.
It was a fever; and it is gone -- her pulse is as slow as mine now,
and her cheek as cool."
He told his wife the same story, and she seemed to believe him; but
one night, while leaning on his shoulder, in the act of saying she
thought she should be able to get up to-morrow, a fit of coughing
took her -- a very slight one -- he raised her in his arms; she put
her two hands about his neck, her face changed, and she was dead.
As the girl had anticipated; the child Hareton, fell wholly into my
Mr Earnshaw, provided he saw him healthy, and never heard him cry,
was contented, as far as regarded him.
For himself, he grew desperate; his sorrow was of that kind that
will not lament, he neither wept nor prayed -- he cursed and defied
-- execrated God and man, and gave himself up to reckless
The servants could not bear his tyrannical and evil conduct long:
Joseph and I were the only two that would stay.
I had not the heart to leave my charge; and besides, you know, I
had been his foster sister, and excused his behaviour more readily
than a stranger would.
Joseph remained to hector over tenants and labourers; and because
it was his vocation to be where he had plenty of wickedness to
The master's bad ways and bad companions formed a pretty example
for Catherine and Heathcliff.
His treatment of the latter was enough to make a fiend of a saint.
And, truly, it appeared as if the lad were possessed of
something diabolical at that period.
He delighted to witness Hindley degrading himself past redemption;
and became daily more notable for savage sullenness and ferocity.
I could not half tell what an infernal house we had.
The curate dropped calling, and nobody decent came near us,
be an exception.
At fifteen she was the queen of the countryside; she had no peer:
and she did turn out a haughty, headstrong creature!
I own I did not like her, after her infancy was past; and I vexed
her frequently by trying to bring down her arrogance; she never
took an aversion to me though.
She had a wondrous constancy to old attachments; even Heathcliff
kept his hold on her affections unalterably, and young Linton, with
all his superiority, found it difficult to make an equally deep
He was my late master; that is his portrait over the fireplace.
It used to hang on one side, and his wife's on the other; but hers
has been removed, or else you might see something of what she was.
Can you make that out?
Mrs Dean raised the candle, and I discerned a soft-featured face,
exceedingly resembling the young lady at the Heights, but more
pensive and amiable in expression.
It formed a sweet picture.
The long light hair curled slightly on the temples; the eyes were
large and serious; the figure almost too graceful.
I did not marvel how Catherine Earnshaw could forget her first
friend for such an individual.
I marvelled much how he, with a mind to correspond with his person,
could fancy my idea of Catherine Earnshaw.
"A very agreeable portrait," I observed to the housekeeper.
"Is it like?"
"Yes," she answered; "but he looked better when he was animated,
that is his everyday countenance; he wanted spirit in general."
Catherine had kept up her acquaintance with the Lintons since her
five weeks' residence among them; and as she had no temptation to
show her rough side in their company, and had the sense to be
ashamed of being rude where she experienced such invariable
courtesy, she imposed unwittingly on the old lady and gentleman, by
Isabella, and the heart and soul of her brother -- acquisitions
that flattered her from the first, for she was full of ambition,
and led her to adopt a double character without exactly intending
to deceive anyone.
In the place where she heard Heathcliff termed a "vulgar young
ruffian," and "worse than a brute," she took care not to act like
him; but at home she had small inclination to practise politeness
that would only be laughed at, and restrain an unruly nature when
it would bring her neither credit, nor praise.
Mr Edgar seldom mustered courage to visit Wuthering Heights openly.
He had a terror of Earnshaw's reputation, and shrank from
encountering him, and yet, he was always received with our best
attempts at civility: the master himself, avoided offending him --
knowing why he came, and if he could not be gracious, kept out of
I rather think his appearance there was distasteful to Catherine;
she was not artful, never played the coquette, and had evidently an
objection to her two friends meeting at all: for when Heathcliff
expressed contempt of Linton, in his presence, she could not half
coincide, as she did in his absence; and when Linton evinced
disgust and antipathy to Heathcliff, she dared not treat his
sentiments with indifference, as if depreciation of her playmate
were of scarcely any consequence to her.
I've had many a laugh at her perplexities, and untold troubles,
which she vainly strove to hide from my mockery.
That sounds ill-natured -- but she was so proud, it became really
impossible to pity her distresses, till she should be chastened
into more humility.
She did bring herself, finally, to confess, and confide in me.
There was not a soul else that she might fashion into an adviser.
Mr Hindley had gone from home, one afternoon; and Heathcliff
He had reached the age of sixteen then, I think, and without having
bad features or being deficient in intellect, he contrived to
convey an impression of inward and outward repulsiveness that his
present aspect retains no traces of.
In the first place, he had, by that time, lost the benefit of his
early education: continual hard work, begun soon and concluded
late, had extinguished any curiosity he once possessed in pursuit
of knowledge, and any love for books, or learning.
His childhood's sense of superiority, instilled into him by the
favours of old Mr Earnshaw, was faded away.
He struggled long to keep up an equality with Catherine in her
studies and yielded with poignant though silent regret: but, he
yielded completely; and there was no prevailing on him to take a
step in the way of moving upward, when he found he must,
necessarily, sink beneath his former level.
Then personal appearance sympathised with mental deterioration; he
acquired a slouching gait, and ignoble look; his naturally reserved
disposition was exaggerated into an almost idiotic excess of
unsociable moroseness; and he took a grim pleasure, apparently, in
exciting the aversion rather than the esteem of his few
Catherine and he were constant companions still, at his seasons of
respite from labour; but he had ceased to express his fondness for
her in words, and recoiled with angry suspicion from her girlish
caresses, as if conscious there could be no gratification in
lavishing such marks of affection on him.
On the before-named occasion he came into the house to announce his
intention of doing nothing, while I was assisting Miss Cathy to
arrange her dress -- she had not reckoned on his taking it into his
head to be idle, and imagining she would have the whole place to
herself, she managed, by some means, to inform Mr Edgar of her
brother's absence, and was then preparing to receive him.
"Cathy, are you busy, this afternoon?" asked Heathcliff.
"No, it is raining," she answered.
"Why have you that silk frock on, then?" he said.
"Nobody coming here, I hope?"
"Not that I know of;" stammered Miss,; "but you should be in the
field now, Heathcliff.
It is an hour past dinner-time; I thought you were gone."
"Hindley does not often free us from his accursed presence;"
observed the boy, "I'll not work any more to-day, I'll stay with
"Oh, but Joseph will tell;" she suggested, "you'd better go!"
"Joseph is loading lime on the farther side of Pennistow Crag, it
will take him till dark, and he'll never know."
So saying he lounged to the fire, and sat down.
Catherine reflected an instant, with knitted brows -- she found it
needful to smooth the way for an intrusion.
"Isabella, and Edgar Linton talked of calling this afternoon;" she
said at the conclusion of a minute's silence.
"As it rains, I hardly expect them; but, they may come, and if they
do, you run the risk of being scolded for no good."
"Order Ellen to say you are engaged, Cathy," he persisted, "Don't
turn me out for those pitiful, silly friends of yours!
I'm on the point, sometimes, of complaining that they -- but I'll
not -- "
"That they what?" cried Catherine, gazing at him with a troubled
"Oh Nelly!" she added petulantly jerking her head away from my
hands, "you've combed my hair quite out of curl!
That's enough, let me alone.
What are you on the point of complaining about, Heathcliff?"
"Nothing -- only look at the almanack, on that wall," he pointed to
a framed sheet hanging near the window, and continued;
"The crosses are for the evenings you have spent with the Lintons,
the dots for those spent with me -- Do you see, I've marked every
"Yes -- very foolish; as if I took notice!" replied Catherine in a
"And where is the sense of that?"
"To show that I do take notice," said Heathcliff.
"And should I always be sitting with you?" she demanded, growing
"What good do I get -- What do you talk about?
You might be dumb or a baby for anything you say to amuse me, or
for anything you do, either!"
"You never told me before that I talked too little, or that you
disliked my company, Cathy!" exclaimed Heathcliff, in much
"It is no company at all, when people know nothing and say
nothing," she muttered.
Her companion rose up, but he hadn't time to express his feelings
further, for a horse's feet were heard on the flags, and, having
knocked gently, young Linton entered, his face brilliant with
delight at the unexpected summons he had received.
Doubtless Catherine marked the difference between her friends as
one came in, and the other went out.
The contrast resembled what you see in exchanging a bleak, hilly,
coal country, for a beautiful fertile valley; and his voice, and
greeting were as opposite as his aspect -- He had a sweet, low
manner of speaking, and pronounced his words as you do, that's less
gruff than we talk here and softer.
"I'm not come too soon, am I?" he said, casting a look at me.
I had begun to wipe the plate, and tidy some drawers at the far end
in the dresser.
"No," answered Catherine -- "What are you doing there, Nelly?"
"My work, miss," I replied.
(Mr Hindley had given me directions to make a third party in any
private visits Linton chose to pay.)
She stepped behind me and whispered crossly, "Take yourself and
your dusters off! when company are in the house, servants don't
commence scouring and cleaning in the room where they are!"
"It's a good opportunity, now that master is away," I answered
aloud, "he hates me to be fidgeting over these things in his
presence -- I'm sure Mr Edgar will excuse me."
"I hate you to be fidgeting in my presence," exclaimed
the young lady imperiously, not allowing her guest time to speak --
she had failed to recover her equanimity since the little dispute
"I'm sorry for it, Miss Catherine!" was my response; and I
proceeded assiduously with my occupation.
She, supposing Edgar could not see her, snatched the cloth from my
hand, and pinched me, with a prolonged wrench, very spitefully on
I've said I did not love her; and rather relished mortifying her
vanity, now and then; besides, she hurt me extremely, so I started
up from my knees, and screamed out.
"O, Miss, that's a nasty trick!
You have no right to nip me, and I'm not going to bear it!"
"I didn't touch you, you lying creature!" cried she, her fingers
tingling to repeat the act, and her ears red with rage.
She never had power to conceal her passion, it always set her whole
complexion in a blaze.
"What's that, then?" I retorted, showing a decided purple witness
to refute her.
She stamped her foot, wavered a moment, and then, irresistibly
impelled by the naughty spirit within her, slapped me on the cheek
a stinging blow that filled both eyes with water.
double fault of falsehood, and violence which his idol had
"Leave the room, Ellen!" she repeated, trembling all over.
Little Hareton, who followed me everywhere, and was sitting near me
on the floor, at seeing my tears commenced crying himself, and
sobbed out complaints against "wicked aunt Cathy," which drew her
fury on to his unlucky head: she seized his shoulders, and shook
him till the poor child waxed livid, and Edgar thoughtlessly laid
hold of her hand to deliver him.
In an instant one was wrung free, and the astonished young man felt
it applied over his own ear in a way that could not be mistaken for
He drew back in consternation -- I lifted Hareton in my arms, and
walked off to the kitchen with him; leaving the door of
communication open, for I was curious to watch how they would
settle their disagreement.
The insulted visitor moved to the spot where he had laid his hat,
pale and with a quivering lip.
"That's right!" I said to myself, "Take warning and begone!
It's a kindness to let you have a glimpse of her genuine
"Where are you going?" demanded Catherine, advancing to the door.
He swerved aside and attempted to pass.
"You must not go!" she exclaimed energetically.
"I must and shall!" he replied in a subdued voice.
"No," she persisted, grasping the handle; "not yet, Edgar Linton --
sit down, you shall not leave me in that temper.
I should be miserable all night, and I won't be miserable for you!"
"Can I stay after you have struck me?" asked Linton.
Catherine was mute.
"You've made me afraid, and ashamed of you;" he continued; "I'll
Her eyes began to glisten and her lids to twinkle.
"And you told a deliberate untruth!" he said.
"I didn't!" she cried, recovering her speech.
"I did nothing deliberately -- Well, go, if you please -- get away!
And now I'll cry -- I'll cry myself sick!"
She dropped down on her knees by a chair and set to weeping in
Edgar persevered in his resolution as far as the court; there, he
I resolved to encourage him.
"Miss is dreadfully wayward, sir!" I called out.
"As bad as any marred child -- you'd better be riding home, or else
she will be sick, only to grieve us."
The soft thing looked askance through the window -- he possessed
the power to depart, as much as a cat possesses the power to leave
a mouse half killed, or a bird half eaten.
Ah; I thought, there will be no saving him -- He's doomed, and
flies to his fate!
And so it was; he turned abruptly, hastened into the house again,
shut the door behind him; and, when I went in a while after to
inform them that Earnshaw had come home rabid drunk, ready to pull
the whole place about our ears, (his ordinary frame of mind in that
condition) I saw the quarrel had merely effected a closer intimacy
-- had broken the outworks of youthful timidity, and enabled them
to forsake the disguise of friendship, and confess themselves
Intelligence of Mr Hindley's arrival drove Linton speedily to his
horse, and Catherine to her chamber.
I went to hide little Hareton, and to take the shot out of the
master's fowling piece which he was fond of playing with in his
insane excitement, to the hazard of the lives of any who provoked,
or even, attracted his notice too much; and I had hit upon the plan
of removing it, that he might do less mischief, if he did go the
length of firing the gun.