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第3节 第十五章 【
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第十五章


又过了一个星期——我更接近了健康和春天!我现在已经听完了我的邻人的全部历史,因为这位管家可以从比较重要的工作中腾出空闲常来坐坐。我要用她自己的话继续讲下去,只是压缩一点。总的说,她是一个说故事的能手,我可不认为我能把她的风格改得更好。

晚上,(她说):就是我去山庄的那天晚上,我知道希刺克厉夫先生又在附近,就像是我看到了他;我不出去,因为我还把他的信搁在口袋里,而且不愿再被吓唬或被揶揄了。我决定现在不交这信,一直等到我主人到什么地方去后再说,因为我拿不准凯瑟琳收到这信后会怎么样。结果是,这信过了三天才到她的手里。第四天是星期日,等到全家都去教堂后,我就把信带到她屋里。还有一个男仆留下来同我看家。我们经常在做礼拜时把门锁住,可是那天天气是这么温暖宜人,我就把门都大开,而且,我既然知道谁会来,为了履行我的诺言,我就告诉我的同伴的说女主人非常想吃桔子,他得跑到村里去买几个,明天再付钱。他走了,我就上了楼。

林惇夫人穿着一件宽大的白衣服,和往常一样,坐在一个敞开着窗子的凹处,肩上披着一条薄薄的肩巾。她那厚厚的长发在她初病时曾剪去一点,现在她简单地梳梳,听其自然地披在她的鬓角和颈子上。正如我告诉过希刺克厉夫的一样,她的外表是改变了;但当她是宁静的时候,在这种变化中仿佛具有非凡的美。她眼里的亮光已经变成一种梦幻的、忧郁的温柔;她的眼睛不再给人这种印象:她是在望着她四周的东西;而是显现出总是在凝视着远方,遥远的地方——你可以说是望着世外。还有她脸上的苍白——她恢复之后,那种憔悴的面貌是消失了——还有从她心境中所产生的特别表情,虽然很凄惨地暗示了原因,却使她格外令人爱怜;这些现象——对于我,我知道,对于别的看见她的人都必然认为——足以反驳那些说是正在康复的明证,却标明她是注定要凋谢了。

一本书摆在她面前的窗台上,打开着,简直令人感觉不到的风间或掀动着书页。我相信是林惇放在那儿的:因为她从来不想读书,或干任何事,他得花上许多钟头来引她注意那些以前曾使她愉快的事物。她明白他的目的,在她心情较好时,就温和地听他摆布;只是时不时地压下一声疲倦的叹息,表示这些是没有用的,到最后就用最悲惨的微笑和亲吻来制止他。在其他时候,她就突然转身,用手掩着脸,或者甚至愤怒地把他推开;然后他就小心翼翼地让她自己待着,因为他确信自己是无能为力的了。

吉默吞的钟还在响着;山谷里那涨满了的水溪传来的潺潺流水声非常悦耳。这美妙的声音代替了现在还没有到来的夏日树叶飒飒声,等到树上生了果子,这声音就湮没了田庄附近的那种音乐。在呼啸山庄附近,在风雪或雨季之后的平静日子里,这小溪总是这样响着的。在凯瑟琳倾听时,那就是,如果她是在想着或倾听着的话;她所想的就是呼啸山庄!可是她有着我以前提到过的那种茫然的、捉摸不到的神气,这表明她的耳朵或眼睛简直不能辨识任何外界的东西。

“有你一封信,林惇夫人,”我说,轻轻把信塞进她摆在膝上的一只手里。“你得马上看它,因为等着回信呢。我把封漆打开好吗?”“好吧,”她回答,没改变她的目光的方向。我打开它——信很短。“现在,”我接着说,“看吧。”她缩回她的手,任这信掉到地上。我又把它放在她的怀里,站着等她乐意朝下面看看的时候;可是她总是不动,终于我说——

“要我唸吗,太太?是从希刺克厉夫先生那儿来的。”

她一惊,露出一种因回忆而苦恼的神色,竭力使自己镇定下来。她拿起信,仿佛是在阅读;当她看到签名的地方,她叹息着;但我还是发现她并没有领会到里面的意思,因为我急着要听她的回信,她却只指着署名,带着悲哀的、疑问的热切神情盯着我。

“唉,他想见见你,”我说,心想她需要一个人给她解释,“这时候他在花园里,急想知道我将给他带去什么样的回信呢”。

在我说话的时候,我看见躺在下面向阳的草地上的一只大狗竖起了耳朵,仿佛正要吠叫,然后耳朵又向后平下去。它摇摇尾巴算是宣布有人来了,而且它不把这个人当作陌生人看待。林惇夫人向前探身,上气不接下气地倾听着。过了一分钟,有脚步声穿过大厅;这开着门的房子对于希刺克厉夫是太诱惑了,他不能不走进来:大概他以为我有意不履行诺言,就决定随心所欲地大胆行事了。凯瑟琳带着紧张的热切神情,盯着她卧房的门口。他并没有马上发现应该走进哪间屋子:她示意要我接他进来,可是我还没走到门口,他已经找到了,而且大步走到她身边,把她搂在自己怀里了。

有五分钟左右,他没说话,也没放松他的拥抱,在这段时间我敢说他给予的吻比他有生以来所给的还多:但是先吻他的是我的女主人,我看得清清楚楚,他由于真正的悲痛,简直不能直瞅她的脸!他一看见她,就跟我同样地确信,她是没有最后复原的希望了——她命中注定,一定要死了。

“啊,凯蒂!啊,我的命!我怎么受得了啊?”这是他说出的第一句话,那声调并不想掩饰他的绝望。现在他这么热切地盯着她,他的凝视是这么热烈,我想他会流泪的。但是那对眼睛却燃烧着极度的痛苦:并没化作泪水。

“现在还要怎么样呢?”凯瑟琳说,向后仰着,以突然阴沉下来的脸色回答他的凝视:她的性子不过是她那时常变动的精神状态的风信标而已。“你和埃德加把我的心都弄碎了,希刺克厉夫!你们都为那件事来向我哀告,好像你们才是该被怜悯的人!我不会怜悯你的,我才不。你已经害了我——而且,我想,还因此心满意足吧。你多强壮呀!我死后你还打算活多少年啊?“

希刺克厉夫本来是用一条腿跪下来搂着她的。他想站起来,可是她抓着他的头发,又把他按下去。

“但愿我能抓住你不放,”她辛酸地接着说,“一直到我们两个都死掉!我不应该管你受什么苦。我才不管你的痛苦哩。你为什么不该受苦呢?我可在受呀!你会忘掉我吗?等我埋在上里的时候,你会快乐吗?二十年后你会不会说,‘那是凯瑟琳·恩萧的坟。很久以前我爱过她,而且为了失去她而难过;可是这都过去了。那以后我又爱过好多人:我的孩子对于我可比她要亲多了;而且,到了死的时候,我不会因为我要去她那儿就高兴:我会很难过,因为我得离开他们了!’你会不会这么说呢,希刺克厉夫?”

“不要把我折磨得跟你自己一样地发疯吧,”他叫,扭开他的头,咬着牙。

在一个冷静的旁观者看来,这两个人形成了一幅奇异而可怕的图画。凯瑟琳很有理由认为天堂对于她就是流放之地,除非她的精神也随同她的肉体一起抛开。在她现在的面容上,那白白的双颊,没有血色的唇,以及闪烁的眼睛都显出一种狂野的要复仇的心情;在她的握紧的手指中间还留有她刚才抓住的一把头发。至于她的同伴,他一只手撑住自己,一只手握着她的胳膊;他对她那种温存,对于她当时的健康状况是很不适合的。在他松手时,我看见在那没有血色的皮肤上留下了四条清清楚楚的紫痕。

“你是不是被鬼缠住了,”他凶暴地追问着,“在你要死的时候还这样跟我说话?你想没想到所有这些话都要烙在我的记忆里,而且在你丢下我之后,将要永远更深地啮食着我?你明知道你说的我害死你的话是说谎;而且,凯瑟琳,你知道我只要活着就不会忘掉你!当你得到安息的时候,我却要在地狱的折磨里受煎熬,这还不够使你那狠毒的自私心得到满足吗?”

“我不会得到安息的,”凯瑟琳哀哭着,感到她身体的衰弱,因为在这场过度的激动下,她的心猛烈地、不规则地跳动着,甚至跳得能觉察出来。她说不出话来,直到这阵激动过去,才又接着说,稍微温和一些了。

“我并不愿意你受的苦比我受的还大,希刺克厉夫。我只愿我们永远不分离:如果我有一句话使你今后难过,想想我在地下也感到一样的难过,看在我自己的份上,饶恕我吧!过来,再跪下去!你一生从来没有伤害过我。是啊,如果你生了气,那今后你想起你的气愤就要比想起我那些粗暴的话更难受!你不肯再过来吗?来呀!”

希刺克厉夫走到她椅子背后,向前探身,却让她看不见他那因激动而变得发青的脸。她回过头望他;他不许她看;他突然转身,走到炉边,站在那儿,沉默着,背对着我们。林惇夫人的目光疑惑不解地跟着他:每一个动作在她心里都唤起一种新的感情。在一阵沉默和长久的凝视之后,她又讲话了;带着愤慨的失望声调对我说——

“啊,你瞧,耐莉,他都不肯暂时发发慈悲好让我躲开坟墓。我就是这样被人爱啊!好吧,没关系。那不是我的希刺克厉夫。我还是要爱我那个;我带着他:他是在我灵魂里。而且,”她沉思地又说,“使我最厌烦的到底还是这个破碎的牢狱,我不愿意被关在这儿了。我多想躲避到那个愉快的世界里,永远在那儿:不是泪眼模糊地看到它,不是在痛楚的心境中渴望着它;可是真的跟它在一起,在它里面。耐莉,你以为你比我好些,幸运些;完全健康有力:你为我难过——不久这就要改变了。我要为你们难过。我将要无可比拟地超越你们,在你们所有的人之上。我奇怪他不肯挨近我?”她自言自语地往下说,“我以为他是愿意的。希刺克厉夫,亲爱的!

现在你不该沉着脸。到我这儿来呀,希刺克厉夫。”

她异常激动地站起身来,身子靠着椅子的扶手。听了那真挚的乞求,他转身向她,神色是完全不顾一切了。他睁大着双眼,含着泪水,终于猛地向她一闪,胸口激动地起伏着。他们各自站住一刹那,然后我简直没看清他们是怎么合在一起的,只见凯瑟琳向前一跃,他就把她擒住了,他们拥抱得紧紧的,我想我的女主人绝不会被活着放开了:事实上,据我看,她仿佛立刻就不省人事了。他投身到最近处的椅子上,我赶忙走上前看看她是不是昏迷了,他就对我咬牙切齿,像个疯狗似的吐着白沫,带着贪婪的嫉妒神色把她抱紧。我简直不觉得我是在陪着一个跟我同类的动物:看来即使我跟他说话,他也不会懂;因此我只好非常惶惑地站开,也不吭声。

凯瑟琳动弹了一下,这才使我立刻放了心:她伸出手搂住他的脖子,他抱住她,她把脸紧贴着他的脸;他回报给她无数疯狂的爱抚,又狂乱地说——

“你现在才使我明白你曾经多么残酷——残酷又虚伪。你过去为什么瞧不起我呢?你为什么欺骗你自己的心呢,凯蒂?我没有一句安慰的话。这是你应得的。你害死了你自己。是的,你可以亲吻我,哭,又逼出我的吻和眼泪:我的吻和眼泪要摧残你——要诅咒你。你爱过我——那么你有什么权利离开我呢?有什么权利——回答我——对林惇存那种可怜的幻想?因为悲惨、耻辱和死亡,以及上帝或撒旦①所能给的一切打击和痛苦都不能把我们分开,而你,却出于你自己的心意,这样作了。我没有弄碎你的心——是你弄碎了的;而在弄碎它的时候,你把我的心也弄碎了。因为我是强壮的,对于我就格外苦。我还要活吗?那将是什么样的生活,当你——

①撒旦——魔鬼。

啊,上帝!你愿意带着你的灵魂留在坟墓里吗?”

“别管我吧,别管我吧,”凯瑟琳抽泣着。“如果我曾经作错了,我就要为此而死去的。够啦!你也丢弃过我的,可我并不要责备你!我饶恕你。饶恕我吧!”

“看看这对眼睛,摸摸这双消瘦的手,要饶恕是很难的,”他回答。“再亲亲我吧;别让我看见你的眼睛!我饶恕你对我作过的事。我爱害了我的人——可是害了你的人呢?我又怎么能够饶恕他?”

他们沉默着——脸紧贴着,用彼此的眼泪在冲洗着。至少,我猜是双方都在哭泣;在这样一个不同寻常的场合中,就连希刺克厉夫仿佛也能哭泣了。

同时我越来越心焦;因为下午过去得很快,我支使出去的人已经完成使命回来了,而且我从照在山谷的夕阳也能分辨出吉默吞教堂门外已有一大堆人涌出了。

“作完礼拜了,”我宣布。“我的主人要在半个钟头内到家啦。”

希刺克厉夫哼出一声咒骂,把凯瑟琳抱得更紧,她一动也不动。

不久我看见一群仆人走过大路,向厨房那边走去。林惇先生在后面不远;他自己开了大门,慢慢蹓跶过来,大概是要享受这风和日丽、宛如夏日的下午。

“现在他到这儿来了,”我大叫。“看在老天爷的份上,快下去吧!你在前面楼梯上不会遇到什么人的。快点吧,在树林里待着,等他进来你再走。”

“我一定得走了,凯蒂,”希刺克厉夫说,想从他的伴侣的胳臂中挣脱出来。“可是如果我还活着,在你睡觉以前,我还要来看你的。我不会离开你的窗户五码之外的。”

“你决不能步!”她回答,尽她的全力紧紧地抓住他。“我告诉你,你不要走。”

“只走开一个钟头,”他热诚地恳求着。

“一分钟也不行,”她回答。

“我非走不可——林惇马上就要来了,”这受惊的闯入者坚持着。

他想站起来,要松开她的手指——但她紧紧搂住,喘着气:在她脸上现出疯狂的决心。

“不!”她尖叫。“啊,别,别走。这是最后一次了!埃德加不会伤害我们的。希刺克厉夫,我要死啦!我要死啦!”

“该死的混蛋!他来了,”希刺克厉夫喊着,倒在他的椅子上。‘别吵,我亲爱!别吵,别吵,凯瑟琳!我不走了。如果他就这么拿枪崩了我,我也会在嘴唇上带着祝福咽气的。”

他们又紧紧地搂在一起。我听见我主人上楼了——我的脑门上直冒冷汗;我吓坏了。

“你就听她的胡话吗?”我激动地说。“她不知道她说什么。就因为她神志丧失,不能自主,你要毁了她吗?起来!你马上就可以挣脱的。这是你所作过的最恶毒的事。我们——主人,女主人,仆人——可都给毁啦!”

我绞着手,大叫;林惇先生一听声音,加快了脚步,在我的震动之中,我衷心喜欢地看见凯瑟琳的胳臂松落下来,她的头也垂下来“她是昏迷了,或是死了,”我想,“这样还好些。与其活着成为周围人的负担,成为不幸的制造者,那还不如让她死了的好。”

埃德加冲向这位不速之客,脸色因惊愕与愤怒而发白。他打算怎么样,我也不知道;可是,另一个人把那看来已没有生命的东西往他怀里一放,立刻停止了所有的示威行动。

“瞧吧!”他说。“除非你是一个恶魔,不然就去救救她吧——然后你再跟我说话!”

他走到客厅里坐下来。林惇先生召唤我去,费了好大劲,用了好多方法,我们才使她醒过来;可是她完全精神错乱了;她叹息,呻吟,谁也不认识。埃德加一心为她焦急,也忘了她那可恨的朋友。我可没有忘。我找了个最早的机会劝他离开:肯定说凯瑟琳已经好些了,他明天早晨可以听我告诉他她这一夜过得怎么样。

“我不会拒绝出这个门,”他回答,“可是我要待在花园里:耐莉,记着明天你要遵守诺言。我将在那些落叶松下面,记住!不然我还要来,不管林惇在不在家。”

他急急地向卧房的半开的门里投去一瞥,证实了我所说的是真实的,这不吉利的人才离开了这所房子。



Chapter 15
   

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 manservant 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 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 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 someone 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. 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.

`Oh, Cathy! Oh, 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 came 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 her: I shall be sorry that I must leave them!'' Will you say so, Heathcliff?'

`Don't torture me till I am 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 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 on 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 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 in this shattered prison, after all. I'm tired, 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, 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 ring 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--oh, God! would you like to live with your soul in the grave?'

`Let me alone. let me alone,' sobbed Catherine. `If I have 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 westering sun up the valley, a concourse thickening outside Gimmerton chapel porch.

`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 anyone 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; 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.