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第5节 第十七章 【
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第十七章


那个星期五是一个月以来最后一个晴朗的日子。到了晚上,天气变了,南来的风变成了东北风,先是带来了雨,跟着就是霜和雪。第二天早上,人都难以想象三个星期以来一直是夏天天气:樱草和番红花躲藏在积雪下面,百灵鸟沉默了,幼树的嫩芽也被打得发黑。那个早晨就这么凄凉、寒冷、阴郁地慢慢捱过去!我的主人待在他屋子里不出来;我就占据了这个寂寞的客厅,把它改换成一间育儿室:我就在那儿坐着,把个哇哇哭的娃儿搁在我膝盖上,摇来摇去,同时瞅着那仍然刮着的雪片在那没下窗帘的窗户外面堆积着,这时门开了,有人进来,又喘又笑!当时我的怒气远胜过我的惊讶。我以为是个女仆,就喊:

“好啦!你怎么敢在这儿调皮;林惇先生若是听见你闹,他会说什么呀?”

“原谅我!”一个熟悉的声音回答,“可我知道埃德加还没起来,我又管不住自己。”说话的人说着就走向炉火跟前,喘息着,手按着腰部。

“我从呼啸山庄一路跑来的!”停了一会,她接着说,“有时简直是死。我数不清跌了多少次。啊,我浑身都痛!别慌!等我能解释的时候我会解释的!先做做好事出去吩咐马车把我送到吉默吞去,再叫佣人在我的衣橱里找出几件衣服来吧。”

闯入者是希刺克厉夫夫人。她那情形也实在叫人笑不出来:她的头发披在肩上,给雪和雨淋得直滴水;她穿的是她平常作姑娘时穿的衣服,对她的年龄比对她的身分还适合些;短袖的露胸上衣,头上和脖子上什么也没戴。上衣是薄绸的,透湿地贴在她身上,保护她的脚的只是薄薄的拖鞋;此外,一只耳朵下面还有一道深的伤痕,只因为天冷,才止住了过多的流血,一张被抓过、打过的白白的脸,一个累得都难以支持的身躯,你可以想象,等我定下心来仔细看她时,并没有减去多少我最初的惊恐。

“我亲爱的小姐,”我叫道,“我哪儿也不去,什么也不听,除非你把衣服一件件都换下来,穿上干的;你今晚当然不能去吉默吞,所以也不需要吩咐马车。”

“我当然得去,”她说,“不论走路,还是坐车,可是我也不反对把自己穿得体面些——而且啊,现在瞧瞧血怎么顺着我的脖子流吧!火一烤,可痛得火辣辣的了。”

她坚持要我先完成她的指示,然后才许我碰她,直到我叫马夫准备好了,又叫一个女仆把一些必需的衣服收拾停当之后,我才得到她的允许给她裹伤,帮她换衣服。

“现在,艾伦,”她说,这时我的工作已完毕,她坐在炉边一张安乐椅上,拿着一杯茶,“你坐在我对面,把可怜的凯瑟琳的小孩搁在一边:我不喜欢看她!你可不要因为我进来时作出这样蠢相,就以为我一点也不心痛凯瑟琳,我也哭过了,哭得很伤心——是的,比任何有理由哭的人都哭得厉害些。我们是没有和解就分开了的,你记得吧,我不能饶恕我自己。可是,尽管这样,我还是不打算同情他——那个畜生!啊,递给我火钳!这是我身边最后一样他的东西了!”她从中指上脱下那只金戒指,丢在地板上。“我要打碎它!”她接着说,带着孩子气的泄愤敲着,“我还要烧掉它!”她拾起这个搞坏了的东西往煤里一扔。“哪!他要是叫我回去,他得再买一个。他可能来找我,好惹惹埃德加。我不敢待在这儿,免得他存坏心眼,况且,埃德加也不和气,不是吗?我不要求他帮助,也不要给他带来更多的烦恼。逼得我躲到这儿来;不过,要不是我听说他没待在这儿,我还不得不待在厨房,洗洗脸,暖和暖和,叫你把我要的东西拿来,再离开,到任何一个我那可诅咒的恶魔化身所找不到的地方去!啊,他是这么光火!若是他捉到我呀!可惜恩萧在力气上不是他的对手;如果辛德雷能够做到,我不看到他全被捣烂,我才不会跑掉呢!”

“好啦,别说得这么快吧,小姐!”我打断她说,“你会把我给你扎脸的手绢弄松,那伤口又要流血了。喝点茶,缓口气.别笑啦:在这个房子里,在你这样的情况,笑是很不合适的!”

“这倒是不可否认的实话,”她回答。“听听那孩子吧!她一直没完没了地哭——把她抱开,让我有一个钟头听不见她哭吧;我不会待多久的。”

我拉拉铃,把她交给一个仆人照应,然后我盘问她是什么事逼她在这么一种狼狈境况中逃出呼啸山庄,而且,既然她拒绝留下来和我在一起,那她又打算到哪儿去。

“我应该,我也愿意留下来,”她回答,“也好陪陪埃德加;照料一下孩子,一举两得,而且因为田庄才是我真正的家。可是我告诉你他不准我!你以为他就能眼看我发胖,快乐起来——能想到我们过得很平静,而不打算来破坏我们的舒适吗?现在,使我感到满足的是,我确实知道他憎恨我,而且恨到了这种程度:一听到我,或者看见我,他就十分烦恼,我注意到,当我走到他跟前时,他脸上的肌肉不由自主地扭成憎恨的表情;这几分是由于他知道我有充分的理由憎恨他,几分是出于原来就有的反感。这就足以使我相信,假如我设法逃走,他也不会走遍全英格兰来追我的;因此我一定得走开,我已经不再有我最初那种甘愿被他杀死的欲望了;我宁可他自杀!他很有效地熄灭了我的爱情,所以我很安心。我还记得我曾如何爱过他;也能模模糊糊地想象我还会爱他,如果——不,不,即使他宠爱过我,那魔鬼的天性总会暴露出来的。凯瑟琳完全了解他,却又有一种怪癖,那么一往情深地重视他。怪物!但愿他从人间、从我的记忆里一笔勾销!”

“别说啦,别说啦!他还是个人啊,”我说。“要慈悲些;还有比他更糟的人哪!”

“他不是人,”她反驳。“我没有向他要求慈悲的权利。我把我的心交给他,他却拿过去捏死了,又丢回给我。人们是用他们的心来感觉的,艾伦;既然是他毁了我的,我就无力同情他了;而且,虽然他从今以后会一直呻吟到他死的那天,为凯瑟琳哭出血来,我也不会同情他,不,真的,真的,我才不哩!”说到这儿,伊莎贝拉开始哭起来;可是,立刻抹掉她睫毛上的泪水,又开始说,“你问我,什么事把我逼得终于逃跑吗?我是被迫作出这个打算的,因为我已经把他的愤怒煽得比他的恶毒还要高一点了。用烧红的钳子拔神经总比敲打脑袋需要更多的冷静。他被我搞得已经丢开了他所自夸的那种恶魔般的谨慎,而要进行暴力杀害了。我一想到能够激怒他,就体验到一种快感;这快感唤醒了我保全自己的本能,所以我就公然逃跑了;如果我再落在他的手里,那他肯定会狠狠地报复我的。”

“昨天,你知道,恩萧先生本该来送殡的。他还特意让自己保持清醒——相当清醒;不像往常那样到六点钟才疯疯癫癫地上床,十二点才醉醺醺地起来。后来,他起来了,不过情绪低沉得像要自杀似的,不适于到教堂,就跟不适于跳舞一样;他哪儿也没去,坐在火边,把一大杯一大杯的烧酒或白兰地直吞下去。

“希刺克厉夫——我一提这个名字就哆嗦!他从上星期日到今天就像是这家里的一个陌生人。是天使养活他,还是地狱里他的同类养活他,我也说不上来;可是他有近一个星期没跟我们一起吃饭了。天亮他才回家,就上楼到他的卧房里;把他自己锁在里头——倒像是会有人想要去陪他似的!他就在那儿待着,像个美以美会教徒似的祈祷着,不过他所祈求的神明只是无知觉的灰尘而已;而上帝,在他提及的时候,是很古怪地跟他自己的黑种父亲混在一起!做完了这些珍贵的祷告——经常拖延到他的嗓子嘶哑,喉头哽住才算完——他就又走掉了;总是径直到田庄来!我奇怪埃德加不找个警察,把他关起来!至于我,虽然我为凯瑟琳难过,却不能不把这一段从受侮辱的压迫中解脱出来的时间当作一个假期哩。

“我恢复了精力,可以去听约瑟夫的没完没了的说教而不哭泣了,而且也可以不像以前那样跟惊恐的小偷似的蹑手蹑脚地在屋里走动。你可不要以为不管约瑟夫说什么,我都会哭;可是他和哈里顿真是极为讨厌的同伴。我宁可跟辛德雷坐着,听他那可怕的言语,也比跟这个‘小主人’和他那可靠的助手,那个糟老头子,在一起好!希刺克厉夫在家的时候,我往往不得不到厨房找伴,不然就要在那些潮湿而没人住的卧房里挨饿;他不在家时,就像这个星期的情形,我就在大厅的炉火一角摆了一张桌子和一把椅子,也不管恩萧先生在搞什么,他也不干涉我的安排。如果没人惹他,他比往常可安静多了;更阴沉些,沮丧些,火气少些。约瑟夫肯定说他相信他换了一个人:说是上帝触动他的心,他就得救了,‘像受过火的锻炼一样’。我也看出这种好转的征象,很觉诧异;可那与我也无关。

“昨天晚上,我坐在我的角落里读些旧书,一直读到十二点。外面大雪纷飞,我的思潮不断地转到墓园和那新修的坟上,那时上楼去好像很凄惨!我的眼睛刚刚敢从我面前的书页上抬起来,用幅忧郁的景象立刻侵占了书本上的位置。辛德雷坐在对面,手托着头;或者也在冥想着同一件事。他已经不再喝酒了,到了比失去理性还糟的地步,两三个钟头他都不动,也不说话。屋里屋外什么声音都没有,只有呜咽着的风时不时的摇撼着窗户,煤块的轻轻爆裂声,以及间或剪着长长的烛心时的烛花剪刀声;哈里顿和约瑟夫大概都上床睡着了,周围是那么凄凉,太凄凉了!我一面看书,一面叹息着,因为看来好像世界上所有的欢乐都消失了,永远不会再恢复了。

“终于这场阴惨惨的沉寂被厨房门闩的响声打破了:希刺克厉夫守夜回来了,比平时早一点;我猜,是由于这场突来的风雪的缘故。那个门是闩住的,我们听见他绕到另一个门口要走进来。我站起来,自己也觉得嘴上带着一种压抑不住的表情,这引起了我那向门瞪视着的同伴转过头来望着我。

“‘我要让他在外面待五分钟,’他叫着。‘你不会反对吧?’

“‘不会,为了我你可以让他整夜待在外面,’我回答。‘就这样办!把钥匙插在钥匙洞里,拉上门闩。’

“恩萧在他的客人还没有走到门口以前就做完了这件事;然后他过来,把他的椅子搬到我桌子对面,靠在椅上,他眼里射出燃烧着的愤恨,也想从我眼里寻求同情。既然他看上去并且自己也感觉到像个刺客,他就不能肯定是否能从我的眼里找到同情;但是他发现这也足以是鼓励他开腔了。

“‘你和我,’他说,‘都有一大笔债要跟外面那个人算!如果我们都不是胆小鬼,我们可以联合起来清算。你难道跟你哥哥一样软弱吗?你是愿意忍受到底,一点也不想报仇吗?’

“‘我现在是忍不下去了,’我回答,‘我喜欢一种不会牵累到我自己的报复,但是阴谋和暴力是两头尖的矛,它们也能刺伤使用它们的人,比刺伤它们的敌人还会重些。’

“‘以阴谋和暴力对付阴谋和暴力是公平的报答!’辛德雷叫道。‘希刺克厉夫夫人,我不请你作别的,就坐着别动别响。现在告诉我,你能不能?我担保你亲眼看这恶魔的生命结束,会得到和我所得到的同等的愉快;他会害死你的,除非你先下手;他也会毁了我。该死的恶棍!他敲门敲得好像他已经是这儿的主人了!答应我别吭声,在钟响之前——还差三分钟到一点——你就是个自由的女人了!’

“他从他胸前取出我在信里跟你描述过的武器,正想吹蜡烛。但是我把蜡烛夺过来,抓住他的胳臂。

“‘我不能不吭气!’我说,‘你千万别碰他。就让门关着,不出声好了!’

“‘不!我已经下了决心,而且对着上帝发誓,我非实行不可!’

这个绝望的东西喊着。‘不管你自己怎么样,我要给你作件好事,而且也为哈里顿主持公道!你用不着费心维护我,凯瑟琳已经死去了。没有一个活着的人会惋惜我,或是为我羞愧,即使我这时割断我的喉咙——是到了结束的时候了!’

“我还不如跟只熊搏斗,或是跟疯子论理还好些。我唯一的方法就是跑到窗前,警告那个他所策划的牺牲者,当心等待着他的命运。

“‘今天夜里你最好在别的地方安身吧!’我叫着,简直是一种胜利的腔调。‘如果你坚持要进来,恩萧先生打算拿枪崩你。’

“‘你最好把门开开,你这——’他回答,用某种文雅的名字称呼我,我不屑再重复了。

““我不管这闲事,’我反唇相讥。‘进来挨枪崩吧,如果你愿意的话。我是已经尽到我的责任了。’

“说完,我就关上窗户,回到炉边我的位置上;能供我使用的虚伪可太少了,没法为那威胁着他的危险装出焦急的样子。恩萧激怒地咒骂我,肯定说我还在爱那个流氓,因为我所表现出那种卑贱的态度,他就用各式各样的称呼咒骂我,而我,在我的心里(良心从来没有责备过我)却在想,如果希刺克厉夫使他脱离苦难,对于他那是何等福气啊!而如果他把希刺克厉夫送到他应去的地方,对于我又是何等福气啊!在我坐着这么思索时,希刺克厉夫一拳把我背后的一扇窗户打下来了,他那黑黑的脸阴森森地向里面望着。窗子栏杆太密了,他的肩膀挤不进来。我微笑着,为自己想象出来的安全颇感得意。他的头发和衣服都被雪下白了,他那锋利的蛮族的牙齿,因为寒冷和愤怒而呲露着,在黑暗中闪闪发光。

“‘伊莎贝拉,让我进来,不然我可要让你后悔,’他就像约瑟夫所说的‘狞笑’着。

“‘我不能作杀人的事,’我回答。‘辛德雷先生拿着一把刀和实弹手枪站在那儿守着呢。’

“‘让我从厨房门进来,’他说。

“‘辛德雷会赶在我前面先到的,’我回答,‘你的爱情敢情这么可怜,竟受不了一场大雪!夏天月亮照着的时候,你还让我们安安稳稳地睡觉,可是冬天的大风一刮回来,你就非要找安身的地方不可了!希刺克厉夫,如果我是你,我就直挺挺地躺在她的坟上,像条忠实的狗一样地死去。现在当然不值得再在这个世界上过下去啦!是吧?你已经很清楚地给我这个印象,凯瑟琳是你生命里全部的欢乐:我不能想象你失去她之后怎么还想活下去。’

“‘他在那儿,是吧?’我的同伴大叫,冲到窗前。‘如果我能伸得出我的胳臂,我就能揍他!’

“我恐怕,艾伦,你会以为我真是很恶毒的;可是你不了解全部事实,所以不要下判断。即或是谋害他的性命的企图,我也无论怎样不会去帮忙或教唆的。我但愿他死掉,我必须如此;因此当他扑到恩萧的武器上,把它从他手里夺过去时,我非常非常失望!而且想到我那嘲弄的话所要引起的后果,都吓瘫了。

“枪响了,那把刀弹回去,正切着枪主的手腕。希刺克厉夫使劲向回一拉,把肉割开一条长口子,又把那直滴血的武器塞到他的口袋里。然后他拾起一块石头,敲落两扇窗户之间的窗框,跳进来了。他的敌手已经由于过度的疼痛,又由于从一条动脉或是一条大血管里涌出了大量的鲜血,而倒下来失去知觉了。那个恶棍踢他,踩他,不断地把他的头往石板地上撞,同时一只手还抓住我,防止我去叫约瑟夫来。他使出超人的自制力克制自己,才没有送他的命,可是他终于喘不过气来,罢手了,又把那显然已无生气的身体拖到高背椅子旁边。在那儿他们恩萧的外衣袖子撕下来,用兽性的粗鲁态度把伤处裹起来,在进行包扎时,他又唾又诅咒,就跟刚才踢他时那样带劲。我既得到了自由,就赶忙去找那些老仆人,他好容易一点点地领会了我那慌里慌张的叙述的意思,赶紧下楼,在他两步并一步地下楼时,大口喘着。

“‘现在,怎么办呀?现在,怎么办呀?’

“‘有办法,’希刺克厉夫吼着。‘你的主人疯了;如果他再活一个月,我就要把他送到疯人院去。你们到底干吗把我关在外面,你这没牙的狗?不要在那儿嘟嘟囔囔的,来,我可不要看护他。把那滩东西擦掉,小心你的蜡烛的火星——那比混合白兰地还多!’

“‘敢情你把他谋害啦?’约瑟夫大叫,吓得手举起来,眼睛往上翻。‘我可从来没见过这种情景呀,愿主——’

“希刺克厉夫推他一下,正好把他推得跪下来,跪在那滩血中间,又扔给他一条毛巾,可是他并不动手擦干,却交叉双手,开始祈祷了。他那古怪的措词把我引得大笑起来了。我正处在天不怕地不怕的心境中;事实上,我就像有些犯人在绞架底下所表现得那样不顾一切了。

“‘啊,我忘记你了,’这个暴君说。‘你应该作这件事,跪下去。你和他串通一起反对我,是吧,毒蛇?那,那才是你该作的事儿呢!’

“他摇撼我,直摇得我的牙齿卡嗒卡嗒地响,又把我猛推到约瑟夫身边,约瑟夫镇定地念他的祈祷词,然后站起来,发誓说他要马上动身到田庄去。林惇先生是个裁判官,就是他死了五十个妻子,他也得过问这件事。他的决心这么大,以致希刺克厉夫认为还是有必要逼我把所发生的事扼要地重述一遍;在我勉强地回答他的问题,说出这事的经过时,他逼近我,满腔怒火。费了很大的劲,特别是我那些硬挤出来的回答,才满足了这老头子,使他知道希刺克厉夫不是首先发动进攻的人;无论如何,恩萧先生不久就使他相信还是活着的;约瑟夫赶紧让他喝一杯酒,酒一下肚,他的主人立刻能动弹而且恢复知觉了。希刺克厉夫明知道他的对手对于昏迷时所受的待遇全然不知,就说他发酒疯;又说不要再看见他凶恶的举动,只劝他上床睡去。他绘了这个得体的劝告之后,就离开我们,这使我很开心;而辛德雷直挺挺地躺在炉边。我也走开回到自己屋里。想到我竟这么容易地逃掉,自己也感到惊奇。

“今天早上,我下楼时,大概还有半个钟点就到中午了。恩萧先生坐在炉火旁,病得很重;那个恶魔的化身,差不多一样地憔悴、惨白,身子倚着烟囱。两个人看来都不想吃东西,一直等到桌上的东西都冷了,我才开始自己吃起来。没有什么可以拦住我吃个痛快,时不时地朝我那两个沉默的同伴溜一眼,觉得很舒服,因为我的良心很平静,便体验出某种满足与优越感。等我吃完了,我就大胆擅自走近炉火旁,绕过恩萧的椅子,跪在他旁边的角落里烤火。

“希刺克厉夫没有向我这边瞅一眼,我就抬头盯着,而且几乎很沉着地研究着他的面貌,仿佛他的脸已经变成石头了。他的前额,我曾认为很有丈夫气概,现在我感到它变得十分恶毒,笼罩着一层浓云;他那露出怪物的凶光的眼睛由于缺乏睡眠都快熄灭了,也许还由于哭泣,因为睫毛是湿的;他的嘴唇失去了那凶恶的讥嘲神情,却被一种难以名状的悲哀的表情封住了。如果这是别人,我看到这样悲伤,都会掩面不忍一睹了。现在是他,我就很满足;侮辱一个倒下的敌人固然看来有点卑鄙,可我不能失去这个猛刺一下的机会;他软弱的时候正是我能尝到冤冤相报的愉快滋味的唯一时机。”

“呸,呸,小姐!”我打断她说。“人家还会以为你一辈子没打开过圣经呢。如果上帝使你的敌人苦恼,当然你就应该知足了。除了上帝施加于他的折磨,再加上你的,那就显得卑劣和狂妄了。”

“一般情况我可以这样,艾伦。”她接着说,“可是除非我也下手,不然,不管希刺克厉夫遭到多大的不幸,我都不会满足。如果我引起他痛苦,而且他也知道我是这痛苦的原因,我倒情原他少受点苦。啊,我对他的仇可太大了。只有一个情况,可以使我有希望饶恕他。那就是,要是我能以眼还眼,以牙还牙,每回他拧痛我,我也要扭伤他,让他也受受我的罪。既然是他先伤害我的,就叫他先求饶;然后——到那时候呀,艾伦,我也许可以向你表现出一点宽宏大量来。但我是根本报不了仇的,因此我就不能饶恕他。辛德雷要点水喝,我递给他一杯水,问他怎么样了?

“‘不像我所愿望的那么严重,’他回答。‘可是除了我的胳臂,我浑身上下都酸痛得好像我跟一大队小鬼打过仗似的。’

“‘是的,一点也不奇怪,’我接口说,‘凯瑟琳经常夸口说她护住你,使许的身体不受伤害:她的意思是说有些人因为怕惹她不高兴,就不会来伤害你。幸亏死人不会真的从坟里站起来,不然,昨天夜里,她会亲眼看见一种惹她讨厌的情景呢!你的胸部和肩膀没有被打坏割伤吧?’

“‘我也说不出来,’他回答,‘可你这话是什么意思呢?难道我倒下来时,他还敢打我吗?’

“‘他踩你,踢你,把你往地上撞,’我小声说。‘他的嘴流着口水,想用牙咬碎你;因为他只有一半是人:怕还没有一半呢。”

“恩萧先生和我一样,也抬头望望我们共同的敌人的脸,这个敌人正沉浸在他的悲痛里,对他四周的任何东西仿佛都毫无知觉:他越站得久,透过他脸上的那阴郁的思想也表露得更为明显。

“‘啊,只要上帝在我最后的苦痛时给我力量把他掐死,我就会欢欢喜喜地下地狱的。’这急躁的人呻吟着,扭动着想站起来,又绝望地倒回椅子上,明白自己是不宜再斗争下去了。

“‘不,他害死你们中的一个已经够了,’我高声说。‘在田庄,人人都知道要不是因为希刺克厉夫先生,你妹妹如今还会活着的。到底,被他爱还不如被他恨。我一回忆我们过去曾经多快乐——在他来之前,凯瑟琳曾经多么快乐——我真要诅咒如今的日子。’

“大概希刺克厉夫比较注意这话的真实性,而不大注意说话的人的口气。我看见他的注意力被唤醒了,因为他的眼泪顺着睫毛直淌,在哽咽的叹息中抽泣着,我死盯着他,轻蔑地大笑,那阴云密布的地狱之窗(他的眼睛)冲我闪了一下;无论如何,那平时看上去像个恶魔的人竟如此惨淡消沉,所以我冒昧地又发出了一声嘲笑。

“‘起来,走开,别在我眼前,’这个悲哀的人说。

“至少,我猜他说出了这几个字,虽然他的声音是难以听清的。

“‘我请你原谅,’我回答,‘可是我也爱凯瑟琳;而她哥哥需要人侍候,为了她的缘故我就得补这个缺。如今,她死了,我看见辛德雷就如同看见她一样:辛德雷的眼睛要不是你曾想挖出来,搞成这样又黑又红,倒是跟她的一模一样;而且她的——’

“‘起来,可恶的呆子,别等我踩死你!’他叫着,移动了一下,使得我也移动了一下。

“‘可是啊,’我继续说,一面准备逃跑,‘如果可怜的凯瑟琳真的信任你,承受了希刺克厉夫夫人这个可笑的、卑贱的、堕落的头衔,她不久也会落到这步田地!她才不会安静地忍受你那可恶的作风;她一定会发泄她的厌恶和憎恨的。’

“高背椅子的椅背和恩萧本人把我和他隔开了;因此他也不想走到我面前:只从桌上抓把餐刀往我头上猛掷过来。刀子正掷在我的耳朵下面,把我正在说的一句话打断了;可是,我拔出了刀,窜到门口,又说了一句;这句话我希望比他的飞镖还刺得深些。我最后一眼是看见他猛冲过来,被他的房主拦腰一抱,挡住了;两个人紧抱着倒在炉边。我跑过厨房时,叫约瑟夫赶快到他主人那儿去;我撞倒了哈里顿,他正在门口的一张椅背上吊起一窠小狗;我就像一个灵魂从涤罪所中逃出来似的,连跑带跳,飞也似地顺着陡路下来;然后避开弯路,直穿过旷野,滚下岸坡,涉过沼泽:事实上我是慌里慌张地向着田庄的灯台的光亮直奔。我宁可注定永久住在地狱里,也不肯再在呼啸山庄的屋顶下住一夜了。”

伊莎贝拉停一下:喝了口茶。然后她站起来,叫我给她戴上帽子,披上我给她拿来的一条大披巾。我恳求她再停留一个钟头,可她根本不听,她蹬上一张椅子,亲亲埃德加和凯瑟琳的肖像,对我也施以类似的礼仪,就带着凡尼上了马车;这狗又找到了她的女主人,欢喜得直叫。她走了,从来也没有再到这一带来过,但是等到事情稍安定些以后,她和我的主人就建立了正常的通信联系,我相信她的新居是在南方,靠近伦敦;她逃走后没有几个月,就在那儿生了一个儿子,取名林惇,而且从一开始,她就报告说他是一个多病的任性的东西。

有一天希刺克厉夫在村子里遇到我,就盘问我她住在哪里。我拒绝告诉他。他说那也没什么关系,只要她当心不到她哥哥这儿来:既然他得养活她,她就不该跟埃德加在一起。虽然我没说出来,他却从别的仆人口中发现了她的住处以及那个孩子的存在。可他还是没去妨害她;我猜想,为了这份宽宏大量,她也许要谢谢他的反感呢。当他看见我时,他常常打听这个婴儿;一听说他的名字,他就苦笑着说:

“他们愿意我也恨他,是吧?”

“我认为他们不愿意你知道关于这孩子的任何事情。”我回答。

“可我一定要得到他,”他说,“等我需要他的时候。他们等着瞧吧!”

幸亏他的母亲在那时候到来之前就死了;那是在凯瑟琳死后十三年左右,林惇是十二岁,也许还略略大一点。

伊莎贝拉突然到来的那天,我没有机会跟我主人说。他回避谈天,而且他的心情不适于讨论任何事情。当我好容易使他听我说话时,我看出他妹妹离开了她丈夫这回事使他很高兴;他对她丈夫憎恶到极点,其深度是他那柔和的天性几乎不能容许的。他的反感是如此痛切而敏锐,以致任何他可能看到或听到希刺克厉夫的地方他决不涉足。悲痛,加上那种反感,把他化为一个道地的隐士,他辞去裁判官的职务,甚至教堂也不去,避免一切机会到村里去,在他的花园之内过着一种完全与世隔绝的生活;只是有时到旷野上独自散散步,去他妻子坟前望望,改变一下生活方式,这还多半在晚间或清早没有游人的时候。但是他太善良了,不会长久地完全不快乐的。他也不祈求凯瑟琳的魂牵梦萦。时间会使人听天由命的,而且带来了一种比日常的欢乐还甜蜜的忧郁。他以热烈、温柔的爱情,以及她将到更好的世界的热望,来回忆她;

他毫不怀疑她是到那更好的世界去了。

而且,在尘世间还有他能得到慰藉和施以情感之处。我说过,有几天他好像并不关心那死去的人留下的小后代,然而这种冷淡就如四月里的雪融化得那么快,在这小东西还不会说出一个字,或是歪歪倒倒走一步之前,她已经盘据了林惇的心。孩子名叫凯瑟琳;可他从来不叫她全名,正如他也从来不用简名叫那头一个凯瑟琳;这大概是因为希刺克厉夫有这样叫她的习惯。这个小东西却总是叫做凯蒂:对他说来这跟她母亲既有区别又有联系,而他对她的宠爱,一大半与其说是由于她是自己的骨肉,还不如说是由于她和凯瑟琳的关系的缘故。

我总是拿他和辛德雷·恩萧相比,我想来想去也难以满意地解释出为什么他们在相似的情况下,行为却如此相反。他们都当过多情的丈夫,都疼自己的孩子;我不明白为什么好好坏坏,他们就没走上一条路。但是,我心里想,辛德雷无疑是个比较有理智的人,却表现得更糟更弱。当他的船触礁时,船长放弃了他的职守,而全体船员,不但不试着挽救这条船,却张惶失措,乱作一团,使得他们这条不幸的船毫无获救的希望,相反,林惇倒显出一个忠诚而虔敬的灵魂所具有的真正的勇气,他信赖上帝,而上帝也安慰了他。这一个在希望中,而另一个在绝望中;各自选择了自己的命运,并且自然各得其所。可是你是不会想听我的说教吧,洛克乌德先生,你会跟我一样地判断这一切的。至少,你会认为你自己可以下判断的,那就行了。

恩萧的死是在预料之中的,这是紧跟在他妹妹的逝世后,这中间还不到六个月。我们住在田庄这边,从来没人过来告诉我们关于恩萧临死前的情况,哪怕是简单的几句话。我所知道的一切都是去帮忙料理后事时才听说的。是肯尼兹过来向我的主人报告这件事的。

“喂,耐莉,”他说,有一天早晨他骑马走进院子,来得太早,不能不使我吃惊,心想一定是报告坏消息来的。“现在该轮到你我去奔丧了。你想想这回是谁不辞而别啦?”

“谁?”我慌张地问。

“怎么,猜呀!”他回嘴,下了马,把他的马缰吊在门边的钩上。“把你的围裙角捏起来吧:我断定你一定用得着。”

“该不是希刺克厉夫先生吧?”我叫出来。

“什么!你会为他掉眼泪吗?”医生说。“不,希刺克厉夫是个结实的年轻人:今天他气色好得很哪,我刚才还看见他来着。自从他失去他那位夫人后,他很快又发胖啦。”

“那么,是谁呢,肯尼兹先生?”我焦急地又问。

“辛德雷·恩萧!你的老朋友辛德雷,”他回答,“也是说我坏话的朋友:不过他骂了我这么久,也未免太过分了。瞧,我说我们会有眼泪吧。可是高兴点吧!他死得很有性格:酩酊大醉。可怜的孩子!我也很难过。一个人总不能不惋惜一个老伙伴呀,尽管他有着人们想象不出的坏行为,而且也对我使过一些流氓手段,好像他才二十七岁吧;也正是你的年龄;谁会想到你们是同年生的呢?”

我承认这个打击比林惇夫人之死所给的震动还大些;往日的联想在我心里久久不能消逝;我坐在门廊里,哭得像在哭自己亲人似的,要肯尼兹先生另找个仆人引他去见人。我自己禁不住在思忖着,“他可曾受到公平的待遇?”不论我在干什么事,这个疑问总使我烦恼。它是那样执拗地纠缠着我,以致我决定请假到呼啸山庄去,帮着料理后事。林惇先生很不愿意答应,可是我说起死者无亲无故的情况而娓娓动听地请求着;我又提到我的旧主人又是我的共乳兄弟,有权要我去为他效劳,正如有权要他自己办事一样。此外,我又提醒林惇先生,那个孩子哈里顿是他的妻子的内侄,既是没有更近的亲人,他就该作他的保护人;他应该,而且必须去追询遗产的下落,并且照料与他内兄有关的事情。他在当时是不便过问这类事的,但他吩咐我跟他的律师说去;终于他准许我去了。他的律师也曾是恩萧的律师,我到村里去了,并且请他一起去。他摇摇头,劝我别惹希刺克厉夫;可以肯定,一旦真相大白,那就会发现哈里顿同乞丐是差不了多少的。

“他的父亲是负债死去的,”他说,“全部财产都抵押了,现在这位合法继承人的唯一机会,就是应该让他在债权人心里引起一点好感,这样他还可以对他客气些。”

当我到达山庄时,我解释说我来看看一切是不是都搞得还像样;带着极度悲哀的神情出现的约瑟夫对于我的到来表示满意。希刺克厉夫先生说他看不出来这地方有什么事需要我,可是如果我愿意的话,也可以留下来,安排出殡的事。

“正确地讲,”他说,“那个傻瓜的尸首应该埋在十字路口,不用任何一种仪式。昨天下午我碰巧离开他十分钟,就在那会儿,他关上大厅的两扇门,不要我进去,他就整夜喝酒,故意大醉而死,我们今天早上是打开房门进去的,因为我们听见他哼得像匹马似的;他就在那儿,躺在高背椅子上:即使咒骂他,剥掉他的头皮,也弄不醒他。我派人去请肯尼兹,他来了,可是那时候这个畜生已经变成死尸了,他已经死了,冷了,而且僵硬了;因此你得承认再拨弄他也是没用了。”

老仆人证实了这段叙述,可是咕噜着:

“我倒巴不得他去请医生哩!我侍候主人当然比他好点——我走时,他还没死,一点死的样子也没有!”

我坚持要把丧礼办得体面点。希刺克厉夫先生说在这方面可以由我作主,只是,他要我记住办这场丧事的钱是从他口袋里掏出来的。他保持一种严酷的、漠不关心的态度,既无欢乐的表示,也没有悲哀的神色,如果有什么的话,那只有在顺利完成一件艰难工作时,所具有的感到一种满足的冷酷表情。的确,我有一次看见在他的神色里有着近乎狂喜的样子:那正是在人们把灵柩抬出屋子的时候。他还有那份虚伪去装个吊丧者:在跟着哈里顿出去之前,他把这不幸的孩子举起来放在桌上,带着特别的兴趣咕噜着,“现在,我的好孩子,你是我的了!我们要看看用同样的风吹扭它,这棵树会不会像另外一棵树长得那样弯曲!”那个天真无邪的东西挺喜欢这段话:他玩着希刺克厉夫的胡子,抚摩着他的脸,可是我猜出这话的意思,便尖刻地说,“那孩子一定得跟我回画眉田庄去,先生。在这世界上,这孩子和你丝毫不相干。”

“林惇是这么说的吗?”他质问。

“当然——他叫我来领他的。”我回答。

“好吧,”这个恶棍说,“现在我们不要争辩这件事吧,可是我很想自己带个小孩子;所以通知你主人说,如果他打算带走他,我就得要我自己的孩子补这个缺。我才不会一声不吭地让哈里顿走,可我是一定要那一个回来!记住告诉他吧。”

这个暗示已够使我束手无策了。我回去后,把这话的内容重说了一遍,埃德加·林惇本来就没多大兴趣,就从此不再提及要去干涉了”。就算他有意,我想他也不会成功。

客人如今是呼啸山庄的主人了,他掌握不可动摇的所有权,而且向律师证明——律师又转过来向林惇先生证明——恩萧已经抵押了他所有的每一码土地,换成现款,满足了他的赌博狂;而他,希刺克厉夫,是承受抵押的人。于是,哈里顿原该是附近一带的第一流绅士,却落到完全靠他父亲的多年仇人来养活的地步。他在他自己的家里倒像个仆人一样,还被剥夺了领取工钱的权利;他是翻不了身了,这是由于他的无亲无故,而且自己还根本不知道他在受人欺侮了。


Chapter 17


That Friday made the last of our fine days for a month. In the evening, the weather broke: the wind shifted from south to northeast, and brought rain first, and then sleet and snow. On the morrow one could hardly imagine that there had been three weeks of summer: the primroses and crocuses were hidden under wintry drifts; the larks were silent, the young leaves of the early trees smitten and blackened. And dreary, and chill, and dismal, that morrow did creep over! My master kept his room; I took possession of the lonely parlour, converting it into a nursery: and there I was, sitting with the moaning doll of a child laid on my knee; rocking it to and fro, and watching, meanwhile, the still driving flakes build up the uncurtained window, when the door opened, and some person entered, out of breath and laughing! My anger was greater than my astonishment for a minute. I supposed it one of the maids, and I cried--

`Have done! How dare you show your giddiness here? What would Mr Linton say if he heard you?'

`Excuse me!' answered a familiar voice; `but I know Edgar is in bed, and I cannot stop myself.'

With that the speaker came forward to the fire, panting and holding her hand to her side.

`I have run the whole way from Wuthering Heights!' she continued, after a pause; `except where I've flown. I couldn't count the number of falls I've had. Oh, I'm aching all over! Don't be alarmed! There shall be an explanation as soon as I can give it; only just have the goodness to step out and order the carriage to take me on to Gimmerton, and tell a servant to seek up a few clothes in my wardrobe.'

The intruder was Mrs Heathcliff. She certainly seemed in no laughing predicament: her hair streamed on her shoulders, dripping with snow and water; she was dressed in the girlish dress she commonly wore, befitting her age more than her position: a low frock with short sleeves, and nothing on either head or neck. The frock was of light silk, and clung to her with wet, and her feet were protected merely by thin slippers; add to this a deep cut under one ear, which only the cold prevented from bleeding profusely, a white face scratched and bruised, and a frame hardly able to support itself, through fatigue; and you may fancy my first fright was not much allayed when I had had leisure to examine her.

`My dear young lady,' I exclaimed, `I'll stir nowhere, and hear nothing, till you have removed every article of your clothes, and put on dry things; and certainly you shall not go to Gimmerton tonight, so it is needless to order the carriage.'

`Certainly, I shall,' she said; `walking or riding: yet I've no objection to dress myself decently. And--ah, see how it flows down my neck now! The fire does make it smart.'

She insisted on my fulfilling her directions, before she would let me touch her; and not till after the coachman had been instructed to get ready, and a maid set to pack up some necessary attire, did I obtain her consent for binding the wound and helping to change her garments.

`Now, Ellen,' she said, when my task was finished and she was seated in an easy chair on the hearth, with a cup of tea before her, you sit down opposite me, and put poor Catherine's baby away: I don't like to see it! You mustn't think I care little for Catherine, because I behaved so foolishly on entering: I've cried, too, bitterly--yes, more than anyone else has reason to cry. We parted unreconciled, you remember, and I shan't forgive myself. But, for all that, I was not going to sympathize with him--the brute beast! Oh, give me the poker! This is the last thing of his I have about me.' She slipped the gold ring from her third finger, and threw it on the floor. `I'll smash it!' she continued, striking it with childish spite, `and then I'll burn it!' and she took and dropped the misused article among the coals. `There! he shall buy another, if he gets me back again. He'd be capable of coming to seek me, to tease Edgar. I dare not stay, lest that notion should possess his wicked head! And besides, Edgar has not been kind, has he? And I won't come suing for his assistance; nor will I bring him into more trouble. Necessity compelled me to seek shelter here; though, if I had not learned he was out of the way, I'd have halted at the kitchen, washed my face, warmed myself, got you to bring what I wanted, and departed again to anywhere out of the reach of my accursed--of that incarnate goblin! Ah! he was in such a fury! If he had caught me! It's a pity Earnshaw is not his match in strength: I wouldn't have run till I'd seen him all but demolished, had Hindley been able to do it!'

`Well, don't talk so fast, miss!' I interrupted; `you'll disorder the handkerchief I have tied round your face, and make the cut bleed again. Drink your tea, and take breath, and give over laughing: laughter is sadly out of place under this roof, and in your condition!'

`An undeniable truth,' she replied. `Listen to that child! It maintains a constant wail--send it out of my hearing for an hour; I shan't stay any longer.'

I rang the bell, and committed it to a servant's care; and then I inquired what had urged her to escape from Wuthering Heights in such an unlikely plight, and where she meant to go, as she refused remaining with us.

`I ought, and I wish to remain,' answered she, `to cheer Edgar and take care of the baby, for two things, and because the Grange is my right home. But I Bell you he wouldn't let me! Do you think he could bear to see me grow fat and merry; and could bear to think that we were tranquil, and not resolve on poisoning our comfort? Now, I have the satisfaction of being sure that he detests me, to the point of its annoying him seriously to have me within earshot or eyesight: I notice, when I enter his presence, the muscles of his countenance are involuntarily distorted into an expression of hatred; partly arising from his knowledge of the good causes I have to feel that sentiment for him, and partly from original aversion. It is strong enough to make me feel pretty certain that he would not chase me over England, supposing I contrived a clear escape; and therefore I must get quite away. I've recovered from my first desire to be killed by him: I'd rather he'd kill himself! He has extinguished my love effectually, and so I'm at my ease. I can recollect yet how I loved him; and can dimly imagine that I could still be loving him, if--no, no! Even if he had doted on me, the devilish nature would have revealed its existence somehow. Catherine had an awfully perverted taste to esteem him so dearly, knowing him so well. Monster! would that he could be blotted out of creation, and out of my memory!'

`Hush, hush! He's a human being,' I said. `Be more charitable: there are worse men than he is yet!'

`He's not a human being,' she retorted; `and he has no claim on my charity. I gave him my heart, and he took and pinched it to death, and flung it back to me. People feel with their hearts, Ellen: and since he has destroyed mine, I have not power to feel for him: and I would not, though he groaned from this to his dying day, and wept tears of blood for Catherine! No, indeed, indeed, I wouldn't!' And here Isabella began to cry; but, immediately dashing the water from her lashes, she recommenced. `You asked, what has driven me to flight at last? I was compelled to attempt it, because I had succeeded in rousing his rage a pitch above his malignity. Pulling out the nerves with red-hot pincers requires more coolness than knocking on the head. He was worked up to forget the fiendish prudence he boasted of, and proceeded to murderous violence. I experienced pleasure in being able to exasperate him; the sense of pleasure woke my instinct of self-preservation, so I fairly broke free; and if ever I come into his hands again he is welcome to a signal revenge.

`Yesterday, you know, Mr Earnshaw should have been at the funeral. He kept himself sober for the purpose--tolerably sober: not going to bed mad at six o'clock and getting up drunk at twelve. Consequently he rose, in suicidal low spirits, as fit for the church as for a dance; and instead, he sat down by the fire and swallowed gin or brandy by tumblerfuls.

`Heathcliff--I shudder to name him! has been a stranger in the house from last Sunday till today. Whether the angels have fed him, or his kin beneath, I cannot tell; but he has not eaten a meal with us for nearly a week. He has just come home at dawn, and gone upstairs to his chamber; locking himself in--as if anybody dreamt of coveting his company! There he has continued, praying like a Methodist: only the deity he implored in senseless dust and ashes; and God, when addressed, was curiously confounded with his own black father! After concluding these precious orisons--and they lasted generally till he grew hoarse and his voice was strangled in his throat--he would be off again; always straight down to the Grange! I-wonder Edgar did not send for a constable, and give him into custody! For me, grieved as I was about Catherine, it was impossible to avoid regarding this season of deliverance from degrading oppression as a holiday.

`I recovered spirits sufficient to hear Joseph's eternal lectures without weeping, and to move up and down the house less with the foot of a frightened thief than formerly. You wouldn't think that I should cry at anything Joseph could say; but he and Hareton are detestable companions. I'd rather sit with Hindley, and hear his awful talk, than with ``t' little maister'' and his staunch supporter, that odious old man! When Heathcliff is in, I'm often obliged to seek the kitchen and their society, or starve among the damp uninhabited chambers; when he is not, as was the case this week, I establish a table and chair at one comer of the house fire, and never mind how Mr Earnshaw may occupy himself; and he does not interfere with my arrangements. He is quieter now than he used to be, if no one provokes him: more sullen and depressed, and less furious. Joseph affirms he's sure he's an altered man: that the Lord has touched his heart, and he is saved ``so as by fire''. I'm puzzled to detect signs of the favourable change: but it is not my business.

`Yester-evening I sat in my nook reading some old books till late on towards twelve. It seemed so dismal to go upstairs, with the wild snow blowing outside, and my thoughts continually reverting to the kirkyard and the new-made grave! I dared hardly lift my eyes from the page before me, that melancholy scene so instantly usurped its place. Hindley sat opposite, his head leant on his hand; perhaps meditating on the same subject. He had ceased drinking at a point below irrationality, and had neither stirred nor spoken during two or three hours. There was no sound through the house but the moaning wind, which shook the windows every now and then, the faint crackling of the coals, and the click of my snuffers as I removed at intervals the long wick of the candle. Hareton and Joseph were probably fast asleep in bed. It was very, very sad: and while I read I sighed, for it seemed as if all joy had vanished from the world, never to be restored.

`The doleful silence was broken at length by the sound of the kitchen latch: Heathcliff had returned from his watch earlier than usual; owing, I suppose, to the sudden storm. That entrance was fastened, and we beard him coming round to get in by the other. I rose with an irrepressible expression of what I felt on my lips, which induced my companion, who had been staring towards the door, to turn and look at me.

``I'Il keep him out five minutes,'' he exclaimed. ``You won't object?''

`"No, you may keep him out the whole night for me,'' I answered. ``Do! put the key in the lock, and draw the bolts.''

`Earnshaw accomplished this ere his guest reached the front; he then came and brought his chair to the other side of my table, leaning over it, and searching in my eyes, a sympathy with the burning hate that gleamed from his: as he both looked and felt like an assassin, he couldn't exactly find that; but he discovered enough to encourage him to speak.

`"You and I'', he said, ``have each a great debt to settle with the man out yonder! If we were neither of us cowards, we might combine to discharge it. Are you as soft as your brother? Are you willing to endure to the last, and not once attempt a repayment?''

``I'm weary of enduring now,'' I replied; ``and I'd be glad of a retaliation that wouldn't recoil on myself; but treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends: they wound those who resort to them worse than their enemies.''

``Treachery and violence are a just return for treachery and violence!'' cried Hindley. ``Mrs Heathcliff, I'll ask you to do nothing; but sit still and be dumb. Tell me now, can you? I'm sure you would have as much pleasure as I in witnessing the conclusion of the fiend's existence; he'll be your death unless you overreach him; and he'll be my ruin. Damn the hellish villain! He knocks at the door as if he were master here already! Promise to hold your tongue, and before that clock strikes--it wants three minutes of one--you're a free woman!''

`He took the implements which I described to you in my letter from his breast, and would have turned down the candle. I snatched it away, however, and seized his arm.

` ``I'Il not hold my tongue!'' I said; ``you mustn't touch him. Let the door remain shut, and be quiet!''

` ``No! I've formed my resolution, and by God I'll execute it!'' cried the desperate being. ``I'Il do you a kindness in spite of yourself, and Hareton justice! And you needn't trouble your head to screen me; Catherine is gone. Nobody alive would regret me, or be ashamed, though I cut my throat this minute--and it's time to make an end!''

`I might as well have struggled with a bear, or reasoned with a lunatic. The only resource left me was to run to a lattice and warn his intended victim of the fate which awaited him.

`"You'd better seek shelter somewhere else tonight!'' I exclaimed in a rather triumphant tone. ``Mr Earnshaw has a mind to shoot you, if you persist in endeavouring to enter.''

``You'd better open the door, you--"he answered, addressing me by some elegant term that I don't care to repeat.

``I shall not meddle in the matter,'' I retorted again. ``Come in and get shot, if you please! I've done my duty.''

`With that I shut the window and returned to my place by the fire; having too small a stock of hypocrisy at my command to pretend any anxiety for the danger that menaced him. Earnshaw swore passionately at me: affirming that I loved the villain yet; and calling me all sorts of names for the base spirit I evinced. And I, in my secret heart (and conscience never reproached me), thought what a blessing it would be for him should Heathcliff put him out of misery; and what a blessing for me should he send Heathcliff to his right abode! As I sat nursing these reflections, the casement behind me was banged on to the floor by a blow from the latter individual, and his black countenance liked blightingly through. The stanchions stood too close to suffer his shoulders to follow, and I smiled, exulting in my fancied security. His hair and clothes were whitened with snow, and his sharp cannibal teeth, revealed by cold and wrath, gleamed through the dark.

`"Isabella, let me in, or I'll make you repent!'' he ``girned'', as Joseph calls it.

I cannot commit murder,'' I replied. ``Mr Hindley stands sentinel with a knife and loaded pistol.''

``Let me in by the kitchen door,'' he said.

``Hindley will be there before you,'' I answered: ``and that's a poor love of yours that cannot bear a shower of snow! We were left at peace on our beds as long as the summer moon shone, but the moment a blast of winter returns, you must run for shelter! Heathcliff, if I were you, I'd go stretch myself over her grave and die like a faithful dog. The world is surely not worth living in now, is it? You had distinctly impressed on me the idea that Catherine was the whole joy of your life: I can't imagine how you think of surviving her loss.''

``He's there, is he?'' exclaimed my companion, rushing to the gap. ``If I can get my arm out I can hit him!''

`I'm afraid, Ellen, you'll set me down as really wicked; but you don't know all, so don't judge. I wouldn't have aided or abetted an attempt on even his life for anything. Wish that he were dead, I must; and therefore I was fearfully disappointed, and unnerved by terror for the consequences of my taunting speech, when he flung himself on Earnshaw's weapon and wrenched it from his grasp.

`The charge,exploded, and the knife, in springing back, closed into its owners wrist. Heathcliff pulled it away by main force, slitting up the flesh as it passed on, and thrust it dripping into his pocket. He then took a stone, struck down the division between two windows, and sprang in. His adversary had fallen senseless with excessive pain and the flow of blood, that gushed from an artery or a large vein. The ruffian kicked and trampled on him, and dashed his head repeatedly against the flags, holding me with one hand, meantime, to prevent me summoning Joseph. He exerted preterhuman self-denial in abstaining from finishing him completely; but getting out of breath he finally desisted, and dragged the apparently inanimate body on to the settle. There he tore off the sleeve of Earnshaw's coat, and bound up the wound with brutal roughness; spitting and cursing during the operation as energetically as he had kicked before. Being at liberty, I lost no time in seeking the old servant; who, having gathered by degrees the purport of my hasty tale, hurried below, gasping, as he descended the steps two at once.

``What is there to do, now? what is there to do, now?''

`"There's this to do,'' thundered Heathcliff, ``that your master's mad; and should he last another month, I'll have him to an asylum. And how the devil did you come to fasten me out, you toothless hound? Don't stand muttering and mumbling there. Come, I'm not going to nurse him. Wash that stuff away; and mind the sparks of your candle--it is more than half brandy!''

`"And so, ye've been murthering on him?'' exclaimed Joseph, lifting his hands and eyes in horror. ``If iver I seed a seeght loike this! May the Lord-- -''

`Heathcliff gave him a push on to his knees in the middle of the blood, and flung a towel to him; but instead of proceeding to dry it up, he joined his hands and began a prayer, which excited my laughter from its odd phraseology. I was in the condition of mind to be shocked at nothing: in fact, I was as reckless as some malefactors show themselves at the foot of the gallows.

`"Oh, I forgot you,'' said the tyrant. ``You shall do that. Down with you. And you conspire with him against me, do you, viper? There, that is work fit for you!''

`He shook me till my teeth rattled, and pitched me beside Joseph, who steadily concluded his supplications and then rose, vowing he would set off for the Grange directly. Mr Linton was a magistrate, and though he had fifty wives dead, he should inquire into this. He was so obstinate in his resolution, that Heathcliff deemed it expedient to compel from my lips a recapitulation of what had taken place; standing over me, heaving with malevolence, as I reluctantly delivered the account in answer to his questions. It required a great deal of labour to satisfy the old man that Heathcliff was not the aggressor; especially with my hardly wrung replies. However, Mr Earnshaw soon convinced him that he was alive still; Joseph hastened to administer a dose of spirits, and by their succour his master presently regained motion and consciousness. Heathcliff, aware that his opponent was ignorant of the treatment received while insensible, called him deliriously intoxicated; and said he should not notice his atrocious conduct further, but advised him to get to bed. To my joy, he left us, after giving this judicious counsel, and Hindley stretched himself on the hearthstone. I departed to my own room, marvelling that I had escaped so easily.

`This morning, when I came down, about half an hour before noon, Mr Earnshaw was sitting by the fire, deadly sick; his evil genius, almost as gaunt and ghastly, leant against the chimney. Neither appeared inclined to dine, and, having waited till all was cold on the table, I commenced alone. Nothing hindered me from eating heartily, and I experienced a certain sense of satisfaction and superiority, as, at intervals, I cast a look towards my silent companions, and felt the comfort of a quiet conscience within me. After I had done, I ventured on the unusual liberty of drawing near the fire, going round Earnshaw's seat, and kneeling in the corner beside him.

`Heathcliff did not glance my way, and I gazed up, and contemplated his features almost as confidently as if they had been turned to stone. His forehead, that I once thought so manly, and that I now think so diabolical, was shaded with a heavy cloud; his basilisk eyes were nearly quenched by sleeplessness, and weeping, perhaps, for the lashes were wet then; his lips devoid of their ferocious sneer, and sealed in an expression of unspeakable sadness. Had it been another, I would have covered my face in the presence of such grief. In his case, I was gratified; and, ignoble as it seems to insult a fallen enemy, I couldn't miss this chance of sticking in a dart: his weakness was the only time when I could taste the delight of paying wrong for wrong.

`Fie, fie, miss!' I interrupted. `One might suppose you had never opened a Bible in your life. If God afflict your enemies, surely that ought to suffice you. It is both mean and presumptuous to add your torture to His!'

`In general I'll allow that it would be, Ellen,' she continued; `but what misery laid on Heathcliff could content me, unless I have a hand in it? I'd rather he suffered less, if I might cause his sufferings and he might know that I was the cause. O, I owe him so much. On only one condition can I hope to forgive him. It is, if I may take an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; for every wrench of agony return a wrench: reduce him to my level. As he was the first to injure, make him the first to implore pardon; and then--why then, Ellen, I might show you some generosity. But it is utterly impossible I can ever be revenged, and therefore I cannot forgive him. Hindley wanted some water, and I handed him a glass, and asked him how he was.

``Not as ill as I wish,'' he replied. ``But leaving out my arm, every inch of me is as sore as if I had been fighting with a legion of imps!''

`"Yes, no wonder,'' was my next remark. ``Catherine used to boast that she stood between you and bodily harm: she meant that certain persons would not hurt you for fear of offending her. It's well people don't really rise from their grave, or, last night, she might have witnessed a repulsive scene! Are not you bruised and cut over your chest and shoulders?''

``I can't say,'' he answered: ``but what do you mean? Did he dare to strike me when I was down?"

"He trampled on you and kicked you, and dashed you on the ground,'' I whispered. ``And his mouth watered to tear you with his teeth; because he's only half a man--not so much.''

`Mr Earnshaw looked up, like me, to the countenance of our mutual foe; who, absorbed in his anguish, seemed insensible to anything around him: the longer he stood, the plainer his reflections revealed their blackness through his features.

`"Oh, if God would but give me strength to strangle him in my last agony, I'd go to hell with joy,'' groaned the impatient man, writhing to rise, and sinking back in despair, convinced of his inadequacy for the struggle.

`"Nay, it's enough that he has murdered one of you,'' I observed aloud. ``At the Grange, everyone knows your sister would have been living now, had it not been for Mr Heathcliff. After all, it is preferable to be hated than loved by him. When I recollect how happy we were--how happy Catherine was before he came--I'm fit to curse the day.''

`Most likely, Heathcliff noticed more the truth of what was said, than the spirit of the person who said it. His attention was roused, I saw, for his eyes rained down tears among the ashes, and he drew his breath in suffocating sighs. I stared full at him, and laughed scornfully. The clouded windows of hell flashed a moment towards me; the fiend which usually looked out, however, was so dimmed and drowned that I did not fear to hazard another sound of derision.

``Get up, and begone out of my sight,'' said the mourner.

`I guessed he uttered those words, at least, though his voice was hardly intelligible.

`"I beg your pardon,'' I replied. ``But I loved Catherine too; and her brother requires attendance, which, for her sake, I shall supply. Now that she's dead, I see her in Hindley: Hindley has exactly her eyes, if you had not tried to gouge them out, and made them black and red; and her--''

``Get up, wretched idiot, before I stamp you to death!'' he cried, making a movement that caused me to make one also.

``But then,'' I continued, holding myself ready to flee; ``if poor Catherine had trusted you, and assumed the ridiculous, contemptible, degrading title of Mrs Heathcliff, she would soon have presented a similar picture! She wouldn't have borne your abominable behaviour quietly: her detestation and disgust must have found voice.''

`The back of the settle and Earnshaw's person interposed between me and him: so instead of endeavouring to reach me, he snatched a dinner knife from the table and flung it at my head. It struck beneath my ear, and stopped the sentence I was uttering; but, pulling it out, I sprang to the door and delivered another; which I hope went a little deeper than his missile. The last glimpse I caught of him was a furious rush on his part, checked by the embrace of his host; and both fell locked together on the hearth. In my flight through the kitchen I bid Joseph speed to his master; I knocked over Hareton, who was hanging a litter of puppies from a chair back in the doorway; and, blest as a soul escaped from purgatory, I bounded, leaped, and flew down the steep road; then, quitting its windings, shot direct across the moor, rolling over banks, and wading through marshes: precipitating myself, in fact, towards the beacon light of the Grange. And far rather would I be condemned to a perpetual dwelling in the infernal regions, than, even for one night, abide beneath the roof of Wuthering Heights again.'

Isabella ceased speaking, and took a drink of tea; then she rose, and bidding me put on her bonnet, and a great shawl I had brought, and turning a deaf ear to my entreaties for her to remain another hour, she stepped on to a chair, kissed Edgar's and Catherine's portraits, bestowed a similar salute on me, and descended to the carriage, accompanied by Fanny, who yelped wild with joy at recovering her mistress. She was driven away, never to revisit the neighbourhood: but a regular correspondence was established between her and my master when things were more settled. I believe her new abode was in the south, near London; there she had a son born, a few months subsequent to her escape. He was christened Linton, and, from the first, she reported him to be an ailing, peevish creature.

Mr Heathcliff, meeting me one day in the village, inquired where she lived. I refused to tell. He remarked that it was not of any moment, only she must beware of coming to her brother: she should not be with him, if he had to keep her himself. Though I would give no information, he discovered, through some of the other servants, both her place of residence and the existence of the child. Still he didn't molest her: for which forbearance she might thank his aversion, I suppose. He often asked about the infant, when he saw me; and on hearing its name, smiled grimly, and observed:

`They wish me to hate it too, do they?'

`I don't think they wish you to know anything about it,' I answered.

`But I'll have it,' he said, `when I want it. They may reckon on that!'

Fortunately, its mother died before the time arrived; some thirteen years after the decease of Catherine, when Linton was twelve, or a little more.

On the day succeeding Isabella's unexpected visit, I had no opportunity of speaking to my master: he shunned conversation, and was fit for discussing nothing. When I could get him to listen, I saw it pleased him that his sister had left her husband; whom he abhorred with an intensity which the mildness of his nature would scarcely seem to allow. So deep and sensitive was his aversion, that he refrained from going anywhere where he was likely to see or hear of Heathcliff. Grief, and that together, transformed him into a complete hermit: he threw up his office of magistrate, ceased even to attend church, avoided the village on all occasions, and spent a life of entire seclusion within the limits of his park and grounds; only varied by solitary rambles on the moors, and visits to the grave of his wife, mostly at evening, or early morning before other wanderers were abroad. But he was too good to be thoroughly unhappy long. He didn't pray for Catherine's soul to haunt him. Time brought resignation, and a melancholy sweeter than common joy. He recalled her memory with ardent, tender love, and hopeful aspiring to the better world; where he doubted not she was gone.

And he had earthly consolation and affections also. For a few days, I said, he seemed regardless of the puny successor to the departed: the coldness melted as fast as snow in April, and ere the tiny thing could stammer a word or totter a step, it wielded a despot's sceptre in his heart. It was named Catherine; but he never called it the name in full, as he had never called the first Catherine short; probably because Heathcliff had a habit of doing so. The little one was always Cathy; it formed to him a distinction from the mother, and yet a connection with her; and his attachment sprang from its relation to her, far more than from its being his own.

I used to draw a comparison between him and Hindley Earnshaw, and perplex myself to explain satisfactorily why their conduct was so opposite in similar circumstances. They had both been fond husbands, and were both attached to their children; and I could not see how they shouldn't both have taken the same road, for good or evil. But, I thought in my mind, Hindley, with apparently the stronger head, has shown himself sadly the worse and the weaker man. When his ship struck, the captain abandoned his post; and the crew, instead of trying to save her, rushed into riot and confusion, leaving no hope for their luckless vessel. Linton, on the contrary, displayed the true courage of a loyal and faithful soul: he trusted God; and God comforted him. One hoped, and the other despaired: they chose their own lots, and were righteously doomed to endure them. But you'll not want to hear my moralizing, Mr Lockwood: you'll judge as well as I can, all these things: at least, you'll think you will, and that's the same. The end of Earnshaw was what might have been expected; it followed fast on his sister's: there was scarcely six months between them. We, at the Grange, never got a very succinct account of his state preceding it; all that I did learn, was on occasion of going to aid in the preparations for the funeral. Mr Kenneth came to announce the event to my master.

`Well, Nelly,' said he, riding into the yard one morning, too early not to alarm me with an instant presentiment of bad news, `it's yours and my turn to go into mourning at present. Who's given us the slip now, do you think?'

`Who?' I asked in a flurry.

`Why, guess!' he returned, dismounting, and slinging his bridle on a hook by the door. `And nip up the corner of your apron: I'm certain you'll need it.'

`Not Mr Heathcliff, surely?' I exclaimed.

`What! would you have tears for him?' said the doctor. `No, Heathcliff's a tough young fellow: he looks blooming today. I've just seen him. He's rapidly regaining flesh since he lost his better half.'

`Who is it then, Mr Kenneth?' I repeated impatiently.

`Hindley Earnshaw! Your old friend Hindley,' he replied, `and my wicked gossip: though he's been too wild for me this long while. There! I said we should draw water. But cheer up. He died true to his character: drunk as a lord. Poor lad! I'm sorry, too. One can't help missing an old companion: though he had the worst tricks with him that ever man imagined, and has done me many a rascally turn. He's barely twenty-seven, it seems; that's your own age: who would have thought you were born in one year?'

I confess this blow was greater to me than the shock of Mrs Linton's death: ancient associations lingered round my heart; I sat down in the porch and wept as for a blood relation, desiring Kenneth to get another servant to introduce him to the master. I could not hinder myself from pondering on the question--`Had he had fair play?' Whatever I did, that idea would bother me: it was so tiresomely pertinacious that I resolved on requesting leave to go to Wuthering Heights, and assist in the last duties to the dead. Mr Linton was extremely reluctant to consent, but I pleaded eloquently for the friendless condition in which he lay; and I said my old master and foster-brother had a claim on my services as strong as his own. Besides, I reminded him that the child Hareton was his wife's nephew, and, in the absence of nearer kin, he ought to act as its guardian; and he ought to and must inquire how the property was left, and look over the concerns of his brother-in-law. He was unfit for attending to such matters then, but he bid me speak to his lawyer; and at length permitted me to go. His lawyer had been Earnshaw's also: I called at the village, and asked him to accompany me. He shook his head, and advised that Heathcliff should be let alone; affirming, if the truth were known, Hareton would be found little else than a beggar.

`His father died in debt,' he said; `the whole property is mortgaged, and the sole chance for the natural heir is to allow him an opportunity of creating some interest in the creditor's heart, that he may be inclined to deal leniently towards him.'

When I reached the Heights, I explained that I had come to see everything carried on decently; and Joseph, who appeared in sufficient distress, expressed satisfaction at my presence. Mr Heathcliff said he did not perceive that I was wanted; but I might stay and order the arrangements for the funeral, if I chose.

`Correctly,' he remarked, `that fool's body should be buried at the crossroads, without ceremony of any kind. I happened to leave him ten minutes yesterday afternoon, and in that interval he fastened the two doors of the house against me, and he has spent the night in drinking himself to death deliberately! We broke in this morning, for we heard him snorting like a horse; and there he was, laid over the settle; flaying and scalping would not have wakened him. I sent for Kenneth, and he came; but not till the beast had changed into carrion: he was both dead and cold, and stark; and so you'll allow it was useless making more stir about him!'

The old servant confirmed this statement, but muttered:

`Aw'd rayther he'd goan hisseln fur t' doctor! Aw sud uh taen tent uh t' maister better nur him--un he warn't deead when Aw left, nowt uh t' soart!'

I insisted on the funeral being respectable. Mr Heathcliff said I might have my own way there too; only, he desired me to remember that the money for the whole affair came out of his pocket. He maintained a hard, careless deportment, indicative of neither joy nor sorrow; if anything, it expressed a flinty gratification at a piece of difficult work successfully executed. I observed once, indeed, something like exultation in his aspect: it was just when the people were bearing the coffin from the house. He had the hypocrisy to represent a mourner: and previous to following with Hareton, he lifted the unfortunate child on to the table and muttered, with peculiar gusto, `Now, my bonny lad, you are mine! And we'll see if one tree won't grow as crooked as another, with the same wind to twist it!' The unsuspecting thing was pleased at this speech: he played with Heathcliff's whiskers, and stroked his cheek; but I divined its meaning, and observed tartly, `That boy must go back with me to Thrushcross Grange, sir. There is nothing in the world less yours than he is!'

`Does Linton say so?' he demanded.

`Of course--he has ordered me to take him,' I replied.

`Well,' said the scoundrel, `we'll not argue the subject now: but I have a fancy to try my hand at rearing a young one; so intimate to your master that I must supply the place of this with my own, if he attempt to remove it. I don't engage to let Hareton go undisputed; but I'll be pretty sure to make the other come! Remember to tell him.'

This hint was enough to bind our hands. I repeated its substance on my return; and Edgar Linton, little interested at the commencement, spoke no more of interfering I'm not aware that he could have done it to any purpose, had he been ever so willing.

The guest was now the master of Wuthering Heights: he held firm possession, and proved to the attorney--who, in his turn, proved it to Mr Linton--that Earnshaw had mortgaged every yard of land he owned, for cash to supply his mania for gaming; and he, Heathcliff, was the mortgagee. In that manner Hareton, who should now be the first gentleman in the neighbourhood, was reduced to a state of complete dependence on his father's inveterate enemy; and lives in his own house as a servant, deprived of the advantage of wages, and quite unable to right himself, because of his friendlessness, and his ignorance that he has been wronged.