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第2节 第八章 【
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第八章


一个晴朗的六月天的早晨,第一个要我照应的漂亮小婴孩,也就是古老的恩萧家族的最后一个,诞生了。我们正在远处的一块田里忙着耙草,经常给我们送早饭的姑娘提前一个钟头就跑来了。她穿过草地,跑上小路,一边跑一边喊我。

“啊,多棒的一个小孩!”她喘着说,“简直是从来没有的最好的男孩!可是大夫说太太一定要完啦,他说好几个月来她就有肺痨病。我听见他告诉辛德雷先生的。现在她没法保住自己啦,不到冬天就要死了。你一定得马上回家。要你去带那孩子,耐莉,喂他糖和牛奶,白天夜里照应着。但愿我是你,因为到了太太不在的时候,就全归你啦!”

“可是她病得很重吗?”我问,丢下耙,系上帽子。

“我想是的,但看样子她还心宽。”那姑娘回答,“而且听她说话好像她还想活下去看孩子长大成人哩。她是高兴得糊涂啦,那是个多么好看的孩子:我要是她,准死不了:我光是瞅他一眼,也就会好起来的,才不管肯尼兹说什么呢。我都要对他发火啦,奥彻太太把这小天使抱到大厅给主人看,他脸上才有喜色,那个老家伙就走上前,他说:‘恩萧,你的妻给你留下这个儿子真是福气。她来时,我就深信保不住她啦。现在,我不得不告诉你,冬天她大概就要完了。别难过,别为这事太烦恼啦,没救了。而且,你本应该聪明些,不该挑这么个不值什么的姑娘!’”

“主人回答什么呢!”我追问着。

“我想他咒骂来着,可我没管他,我就是要看看孩子,”她又开始狂喜地描述起来。在我这方面我和她一样热心,兴高采烈地跑回家去看。虽然我为辛德雷着想,也很难过。他心里只放得下两个偶像——他的妻子和他自己。他两个都爱,只崇拜一个,我不能设想他怎么担起这损失。

我们到了呼啸山庄的时候,他正站在门前。在我进去时,我问:“孩子怎么样?”

“简直都能跑来跑去啦,耐儿①!”他回答,露出愉快的笑容。

①耐儿——Nell,耐莉(Nelly)的爱称。

“女主人呢?”我大胆地问,“大夫说她是——”

“该死的大夫!”他打断我的话,脸红了,“弗兰西斯还好好的哩,下星期这时候她就要完全好啦。你上楼吗?你可不可以告诉她,只要她答应不说话,我就来,我离开了她,因为她说个不停,她一定得安静些。——告诉她,肯尼兹大夫这样说的。”

我把这话传达给恩萧夫人,她看来兴致勃勃,而且挺开心地回答:

“艾伦,我简直没说一个字,他倒哭着出去两次啦。好吧,说我答应了我不说话,可那并不能管住我不笑他呀!”

可怜的人!直到她临死的前一个星期,那颗欢乐的心一直没有丢开她。她的丈夫固执地——不,死命地——肯定她的健康日益好转。当肯尼兹警告他说,病到这个地步,他的药是没用了,而且他不必来看她,让他再浪费钱了,他却回嘴说:

“我知道你不必再来了——她好啦——她不需要你再看她了。她从来没有生肺痨。那只是发烧,已经退了。她的脉搏现在跳得和我一样慢,脸也一样凉。”

他也跟妻子说同样的话,而她好像也信了他。可是一天夜里,她正靠在丈夫的肩上,正说着她想明天可以起来了,一阵咳嗽呛住了她的话——极轻微的一阵咳嗽——他把她抱起来。她用双手搂着恩萧的脖子,脸色一变,她就死了。

正如那姑娘所料,这个孩子哈里顿完全归我管了。恩萧先生对他的关心,只限于看见他健康,而且绝不要听见他哭,就满足。至于他自己,变得绝望了,他的悲哀是属于哭不出来的那种。他不哭泣,也不祷告。他诅咒又蔑视,憎恨上帝同人类,过起了恣情放荡的生活。仆人们受不了他的暴虐行为,不久都走了。约瑟夫和我是仅有的两个愿留下的人。我不忍心丢开我所照应的孩子,而且,你知道我曾经是恩萧的共乳姊妹,总比一个陌生人对他的行为还能够宽恕些。约瑟夫继续威吓着佃户与那些干活的,因为呆在一个有好多事他可以骂个没完的地方,就是他的职业。

主人的坏作风和坏朋友给凯瑟琳与希刺克厉夫做出一个糟糕的榜样。他对希刺克厉夫的待遇足以使得圣徒变成恶魔。而且,真的,在那时期,那孩子好像真有魔鬼附体似的。他幸灾乐祸地眼看辛德雷堕落得不可救药,那野蛮的执拗与残暴一天天地变得更显著了。我们的住宅活像地狱,简直没法向你形容。副牧师不来拜访了,最后,没有一个体面人走近我们。埃德加·林惇可以算是唯一的例外,他还常来看凯蒂小姐。到了十五岁,她就是乡间的皇后了,没有人能比得上她,她果然变成一个傲慢任性的尤物!自从她的童年时代过去后,我承认我不喜欢她了;我为了要改掉她那妄自尊大的脾气,我常常惹恼她,尽管她从来没有对我采取憎厌的态度。她对旧日喜爱的事物保持一种古怪的恋恋不舍之情;甚至希刺克厉夫也为她所喜爱,始终不变。年轻的林惇,尽管有他那一切优越之处,却发觉难以给她留下同等深刻的印象。他是我后来的主人,挂在壁炉上的就是他的肖像。本来一向是挂在一边,他妻子的挂在另一边的。可是她的被搬走了,不然你也许可以看看她从前是怎样的人。你看得出吗?

丁太太举起蜡烛,我分辨出一张温和的脸,极像山庄上那位年轻夫人,但是在表情上更显得沉思而且和蔼。那是一幅可爱的画像。长长的浅色头发在额边微微卷曲着,一对大而严肃的眼睛,浑身上下几乎是太斯文了。凯瑟琳·恩萧会为了这么个人,而忘记了旧友,我可一点也不感到奇怪。但若是他,有着和他本人相称的思想,能想得出此刻我对凯瑟琳·恩萧的看法,那才使我诧异哩。

“一幅非常讨人喜欢的肖像,”我对管家说,“像不像他本人?”

“像的,”她回答,“可是在他兴致好的时候还好看些;那是他平日的相貌,通常他总是精神不振的。”

凯瑟琳自从跟林惇他们同住了五个星期后,就和他们继续来往。既然在一起时,她不愿意表现出她那粗鲁的一面,而且在那儿,她见的都是些温文尔雅的举止,因此,她也懂得无礼是可羞的。她乖巧而又亲切地,不知不觉地骗住了老夫人和老绅士,赢得了伊莎贝拉的爱慕,还征服了她哥哥的心灵——这收获最初挺使她得意。因为她是野心勃勃的,这使她养成一种双重性格,也不一定是有意要去欺骗什么人。在那个她听见希刺克厉夫被称作一个“下流的小坏蛋”和“比个畜生还糟”的地方,她就留意着自己的举止不要像他。可在家,她就没有什么心思去运用那种只会被人嘲笑的礼貌了,而且也无意约束她那种放浪不羁的天性,因为约束也不会给她带来威望和赞美。

埃德加先生很少能鼓起勇气公开地来拜访呼啸山庄。他对恩萧的名声很有戒心,生怕遇到他。但是我们总是尽量有礼貌地招待他。主人知道他是为什么来的,自己也避免冒犯他。如果他不能文文雅雅的话,就索性避开。我简直认为他的光临挺让凯瑟琳讨厌;她不耍手段,从来也不卖弄风情,显然极力反对她这两个朋友见面。因为当希刺克厉夫当着林惇的面表示出轻蔑时,她可不像在林惇不在场时那样附和他;而当林惇对希刺克厉夫表示厌恶,无法相容的时候,她又不敢冷漠地对待他的感情,好像是人家看轻她的伙伴和她没任何关系似的。我总笑她那些困惑和说不出口的烦恼,我的嘲笑她可是躲不过的哩。听起来好像我心狠,可她太傲了,大家才不会去怜悯她的苦痛呢,除非她收敛些,放谦和些。最后她自己招认了,而且向我吐露了衷曲。除了我,还有谁能作她的顾问。

一天下午,辛德雷先生出去了,希刺克厉夫借此想给自己放一天假。我想,那时他十六岁了,相貌不丑,智力也不差,他却偏要想法表现出里里外外都让人讨厌的印象,自然他现在的模样并没留下任何痕迹。首先,他早年所受的教育,到那时已不再对他起作用了,连续不断的苦工,早起晚睡,已经扑灭了他在追求知识方面所一度有过的好奇心,以及对书本或学问的喜爱。他童年时由于老恩萧先生的宠爱而注入到他心里的优越感,这时已经消失了。他长久努力想要跟凯瑟琳在她的求学上保持平等的地位,却带着沉默的而又痛切的遗憾,终于舍弃了;而且他是完全舍弃了。当他发觉他必须,而且必然难免,沉落在他以前的水平以下的时候,谁也没法劝他往上走一步。随后人的外表也跟内心的堕落互相呼应了:他学了一套萎靡不振的走路样子和一种不体面的神气;他天生的沉默寡言的性情扩大成为一种几乎是痴呆的、过分不通人情的坏脾气。而他在使他的极少数的几个熟人对他反感而不是对他尊敬时,却显然是得到了一种苦中作乐的乐趣呢。

在他干活间休时,凯瑟琳还是经常跟他作伴;可是他不再用话来表示对她的喜爱了,而是愤愤地、猜疑地躲开她那女孩子气的抚爱,好像觉得人家对他滥用感情是不值得引以为乐的。在前面提到的那一天,他进屋来,宣布他什么也不打算干,这时我正帮凯蒂小姐整理她的衣服。她没有算计到他脑子里会生出闲散一下的念头;以为她可以占据这整个大厅,已经想法通知埃德加先生说她哥哥不在家,而且她准备接待他。

“凯蒂,今天下午你忙吗?”希刺克厉夫问,“你要到什么地方去吗?”

“不,下着雨呢。”她回答。

“那你干吗穿那件绸上衣?”他说,“我希望,没人来吧?”

“我不知道有没有人来,”小姐结结巴巴地说道,“可你现在应该在地里才对,希刺克厉夫。吃过饭已经一个钟头啦,我以为你已经走了。”

“辛德雷总是讨厌地妨碍我们,很少让我们自由自在一下,”这男孩子说,“今天我不再干活了,我要跟你待在一起。”

“啊,可是约瑟夫会告状的,”她绕着弯儿说,“你最好还是去吧!”

“约瑟夫在盘尼斯吞岩那边装石灰哩,他要忙到天黑,他决不会知道的。”

说着,他就磨磨蹭蹭到炉火边,坐下来了。凯瑟琳皱着眉想了片刻——她觉得需要为即将来访的客人排除障碍。

“伊莎贝拉和埃德加·林惇说过今天下午要来的,”沉默了一下之后,她说,“既然下雨了,我也不用等他们了。不过他们也许会来的,要是他们真来了,那你可不保险又会无辜挨骂了。”

“叫艾伦去说你有事好了,凯蒂,”他坚持着,“别为了你那些可怜的愚蠢的朋友倒把我撵出去!有时候,我简直要抱怨他们——可是我不说吧——”

“他们什么?”凯瑟琳叫起来,怏怏不乐地瞅着他。“啊,耐莉!”她性急地嚷道,把她的头从我手里挣出来,“你把我的卷发都要梳直啦!够啦,别管我啦。你简直想要抱怨什么,希刺克厉夫?”

“没什么——就看看墙上的日历吧。”他指着靠窗挂着的一张配上框子的纸,接着说:“那些十字的就是你跟林惇他们一起消磨的傍晚,点子是跟我在一起度过的傍晚。你看见没有?我天天都打记号的。”

“是的,很傻气,好像我会注意似的!”凯瑟琳回答,怨声怨气的。“那又有什么意思呢?”

“表示我是注意了的。”希刺克厉夫说。

“我就应该总是陪你坐着吗?”她质问,更冒火了。“我得到什么好处啦?你说些什么呀?你到底跟我说过什么话——,或是作过什么事来引我开心,你简直是个哑巴,或是个婴儿呢!”

“你以前从来没告诉过我,嫌我说话太少,或是你不喜欢我作伴,凯蒂。”希刺克厉夫非常激动地叫起来。

“什么都不知道,什么话也不说的人根本谈不上作伴,”她咕噜着。

她的同伴站起来了,可他没有时间再进一步表白他的感觉了,因为石板路上传来马蹄声,而年轻的林惇,轻轻地敲了敲门之后便进来了,他的脸上由于他得到这意外的召唤而容光焕发。无疑的,凯瑟琳在这一个进来,另一个出去的当儿,看出来她这两个朋友气质的截然不同。犹如你刚看完一个荒凉的丘陵产煤地区,又换到一个美丽的肥沃山谷;而他的声音和彬彬有礼也和他的相貌同样的与之恰恰相反。他有一种悦耳的低声的说话口气,而且吐字也跟你一样。比起我们这儿讲话来,没有那么粗声粗气的,却更为柔和些。

“我没来得太早吧?”他问,看了我一眼。我已开始揩盘子,并且清理橱里顶那头的几个抽屉。

“不早,”凯瑟琳回答,“你在那儿干吗,耐莉?”

“干我的事,小姐,”我回答。(辛德雷先生曾吩咐过我,只要在林惇私自拜访时我就得作个第三者。)

她走到我背后,烦恼地低声说:“带着你的抹布走开,有客在家的时候,仆人不该在客人所在的房间里打扫!”

“现在主人出去了,正是个好机会,”我高声回答,“他讨厌我在他面前收拾这些东西。我相信埃德加先生一定会谅解我的。”

“可我讨厌你在我面前收拾,”小姐蛮横地嚷着,不容她的客人有机会说话——自从和希刺克厉夫小小争执之后,她还不能恢复她的平静。

“我很抱歉,凯瑟琳小姐。”这是我的回答,我还继续一心一意地作我的事。

她,以为埃德加看不见她,就从我手里把抹布夺过去,而且使劲狠狠地在我胳膊上拧了一下,拧得很久。我已经说过我不爱她,而且时时以伤害她的虚荣心为乐;何况她把我弄得非常痛,所以我本来蹲着的,马上跳起来,大叫:“啊,小姐,这是很下流的手段!你没有权利掐我,我可受不了。”

“我并没有碰你呀,你这说谎的东西!”她喊着,她的手指头直响,想要再来一次,她的耳朵因发怒而通红。她从来没有力量掩饰自己的激动,总是使她的脸变得通红。

“那么,这是什么?”我回嘴,指着我明摆着的紫斑作为见证来驳倒她。

她跺脚,犹豫了一阵,然后,无法抗拒她那种顽劣的情绪,便狠狠地打了我一个耳光,打得我的两眼都溢满泪水。

“凯瑟琳,亲爱的!凯瑟琳!”林惇插进来,看到他的偶像犯了欺骗与粗暴的双重错误大为震惊。

“离开这间屋子,艾伦!”她重复说,浑身发抖。

小哈里顿原是到处跟着我的,这时正挨近我坐在地板上,一看见我的眼泪,他自己也哭起来,而且哭着骂“坏凯蒂姑姑”,这把她的怒火又惹到他这不幸的孩子的头上来了。她抓住他的肩膀,摇得这可怜的孩子脸都变青了。埃德加连想也没想便抓住她的手好让她放掉他。刹那间,有一只手挣脱出来,这吓坏了的年轻人才发觉这只手已打到了他自己的耳朵上,看样子绝不可能被误会为是开玩笑。她惊慌失措地缩回了手。我把哈里顿抱起来,带着他走到厨房去,却把进出的门开着,因为我很好奇,想看看他们怎么解决他们的不愉快。这个被侮辱了的客人走到他放帽子的地方,面色苍白,嘴唇直颤。

“那才对!”我自言自语,“接受警告,滚吧!让你看一眼她真正的脾气,这才是好事哩。”

“你到哪儿去?”凯瑟琳走到门口追问着。

他偏过身子,打算走过去。

“你可不能走!”她执拗地叫嚷着。

“我非走不可,而且就要走!”他压低了声音回答。

“不行,”她坚持着,握紧门柄,“现在还不能走,埃德加·林惇。坐下来,你不能就这样离开我。我要整夜难过,而且我不愿意为你难过!”

“你打了我,我还能留下来么?”林惇问。

凯瑟琳不吭气了。

“你已经使得我怕你,为你害臊了,”他接着说,“我不会再到这儿来了!”

她的眼睛开始发亮,眼皮直眨。

“而且你有意撒谎!”他说。

“我没有!”她喊道,又开腔了,“我什么都不是故意的。好,走吧,随你的便——走开!现在我要哭啦——我要一直哭到半死不活!”

她跪在一张椅子跟前,开始认真痛切地哭起来。埃德加保持他的决心径直走到院子里;到了那儿,他又踌躇起来。我决定去鼓励他。

“小姐是非常任性的,先生,”我大声叫,“坏得像任何惯坏了的孩子一样。你最好还是骑马回家,不然她要闹得死去活来,不过是折磨我们大家罢了。”

这软骨头斜着眼向窗里望:他简直没有力量走开,正像一只猫无力离开一只半死的耗子或是一只吃了一半的鸟一样。啊!我想,可没法挽救他了,他已经注定了,而且朝着他的命运飞去了!真是这样,他猛然转身,急急忙忙又回到屋里,把他背后的门关上。过了一会当我进去告诉他们,恩萧已经大醉而归,准备把我们这所老宅都毁掉(这是在那样情况下他通常有的心情),这时我看见这场争吵反而促成一种更密切的亲昵——已经打破了年轻人的羞怯的堡垒,并且使他们抛弃了友谊的伪装而承认他们自己是情人了。

辛德雷先生到达的消息促使林惇迅速地上马,也把凯瑟琳赶回她的卧房。我去把小哈里顿藏起来,又把主人的猎枪里的子弹取出,这是他在疯狂的兴奋状态中喜欢玩的,任何人惹了他,或甚至太引他注意,就要冒性命危险。我想出了把子弹拿开的办法,这样如果他真闹到开枪的地步的话,也可以少闯点祸。

 



Chapter 8


On the morning of a fine June day, my first bonny little nursling, and the last of the ancient Earnshaw stock, was born. 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 bonnet.

`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. Don't take on, and fret about it too much! it can't be helped. 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 loss.

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 cheerful smile.

`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 next week. 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, crying. Well, say I promise I won't speak: but that does not bind me not to laugh at him!'

Poor soul! 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 attending her, he retorted:

`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 tomorrow, 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 hands. 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 dissipation. 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 reprove.

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, at last; unless Edgar Linton's visits to Miss Cathy might 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 impression. 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 her ingenious cordiality; gained the admiration of 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 shrunk 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 the way. 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 presumed to give himself a holiday on the strength of it. 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 sympathized 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 acquaintance.

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. `Are you going anywhere?'

`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 today: I'll stay with you.'

`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 countenance. `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 almanac 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 day.'

`Yes--very foolish: as if I took notice!' replied Catherine in a peevish tone. `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 more irritated. `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 agitation.

`It's 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 parry 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 the 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 with Heathcliff.

`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 the arm. 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, `Oh, 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.

`Catherine, love! Catherine!' interposed Linton, greatly shocked at the double fault of falsehood and violence which his idol had committed.

`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 hands 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 jest. 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 disposition.'

`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 not come here again!'

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 serious earnest. Edgar persevered in his resolution as far as the court; there he lingered. 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 lovers.

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.