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第5节 第二十三章 【
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第二十三章

夜雨引来了一个雾气蒙蒙的早晨——下着霜,又飘着细雨——临时的小溪横穿过我们的小径——从高地上潺潺而下。我的脚全湿了;我心境不好,无精打采,这种情绪恰好适于作这类最不愉快的事。我们从厨房过道进去,到达了农舍,先确定一下希刺克厉夫先生究竟是否真的不在家:因为我对于他自己肯定的话是不大相信的。

约瑟夫仿佛是独自坐在一种极乐世界里,在一炉熊熊燃烧的火边;他旁边的桌子上有一杯麦酒,里面竖着大块的烤麦饼;他嘴里衔着他那黑而短的烟斗。凯瑟琳跑到炉边取暖。我就问主人在不在家?我问的话很久没有得到回答,我以为这老人已经有点聋了,就更大声地又说一遍。

“没——有!”他咆哮着,这声音还不如说是从他鼻子里叫出来的。“没——有!你从哪儿来,就滚回哪儿去。”

“约瑟夫!”从里屋传来的一个抱怨的声音跟我同时叫起来。“我要叫你几次呀?现在只剩一点红灰烬啦。约瑟夫!马上来。”

他挺带劲地喷烟,对着炉栅呆望着,表明他根本听不见这个请求。管家和哈里顿都看不见影儿;大概一个有事出去了,另一个忙他的事儿。我们听出是林惇的声音,便进去了。

“啊,我希望你死在阁楼上,活活饿死!”这孩子说,听见我们走进来,误以为是他那怠慢的听差来了呢。

他一看出他的错误就停住了,他的表姐向他奔去。

“是你吗,林惇小姐?”他说,从他靠着的大椅子扶手上抬起头来。“别——别亲我;弄得我喘不过气来了。天呀!爸爸说你会来的,”他继续说,在凯瑟琳拥抱以后稍稍定下心来;这时她站在旁边,显出很后悔的样子。“请你关上门,可以吗?你们把门开着啦;那些——那些可恶的东西不肯给火添煤。这么冷!”

我搅动一下那些余烬,自己去取了一煤斗的煤。病人抱怨着煤灰飘满他一身;可是他咳嗽没完,看来像是在发烧生病,所以我也没有斥责他的脾气。

“喂,林惇,”等他皱着的眉头展开时,凯瑟琳喃喃地说,“你喜欢看见我吗?我对你能做点什么呢?”

“你为什么以前不来呢?”他问。“你应该来的,不必写信。写这些长信把我烦死啦。我宁可跟你谈谈。现在我可连谈话也受不了,什么事都作不成。不知道齐拉上哪儿去了!你能不能(望着我)到厨房里去看一下?”

我刚才为他忙这忙那的,却并没有听到他一声谢;我也就不愿再在他的命令下跑来跑去,我回答说——

“除了约瑟夫,没有人在那儿。”

“我要喝水,”他烦恼地叫着,转过身去。“自从爸爸一走,齐拉就常常荡到吉默吞去,真倒霉!我不得不下来到这儿呆着——他们总是故意听不见我在楼上叫。”

“你父亲照顾你周到吗,希刺克厉夫少爷?”我问,看出凯瑟琳的友好的表示遭受了挫折。

“照顾?至少他叫他们照顾得太过分了,”他叫喊。“那些坏蛋!你知道吗,林惇小姐,那个野蛮的哈里顿还笑我哩!我恨他!实在的,我恨他们所有的人:尽是些讨厌的家伙。”

凯蒂开始找水;她在食橱里发现一瓶水,就倒满一大杯,端过来。他吩咐她从桌子上一个瓶子里倒出一匙酒来加上;喝下一点后,他显得平静些了,说她很和气。

“你喜欢看见我吗?”她重复她以前的问话,很高兴地看出他脸上稍稍有一点微笑的神气了。

“是的,我喜欢,听见像你讲话的这种声音是怪新鲜的事!”他回答。“可是我苦恼过,因为你不肯来。爸爸赌咒说是由于我的缘故,他骂我是一个可怜的、阴阳怪气的,不值一文的东西,又说你瞧不起我;还说如果他处在我的地位,这时他就会比你父亲更像是田庄的主人了。可你不是瞧不起我吧,是吗,小姐——?”

“我愿意你叫我凯瑟琳,或是凯蒂,”我的小姐打断他的话。“瞧不起你?不!除了爸爸和艾伦,我爱你超过爱任何活着的人。不过,我不爱希刺克厉夫先生;等他回来,我就不敢来了。他要走开好多天吗?”

“没有好多天,”林惇回答,“可是自从猎季开始,他常常到旷野去;当他不在的时候你可以陪我一两个钟头,答应我你一定要来。我想我一定不会跟你发脾气,你是不会惹我生气的,而且你总是想帮助我的,不是吗?”

“是的,”凯瑟琳说,抚着他的柔软的长发。“只要我能得到爸爸的允许,我就把我一半的时间全用来陪你。漂亮的林惇!我但愿你是我的弟弟。”

“那你就会喜欢我像喜欢你父亲一样了吗?”他说,比刚才愉快些了。“可是爸爸说,如果你是我的妻子,你就会爱我胜过爱他、爱全世界,所以我宁愿你是我的妻子。”

“不,我永远不会爱任何人胜过爱爸爸,”她严肃地回嘴。

“有时候人们恨他们的妻子,可是不恨他们的兄弟姊妹,如果你是弟弟,你就可以跟我们住在一起,爸爸就会跟喜欢我一样的喜欢你。”

林惇否认人们会恨他们的妻子;可是凯蒂肯定他们会这样,并且,一时聪明,举出他自己的父亲对她姑姑的反感为例。我想止住她那毫不思索的饶舌,但止不住她,她把她所知道的全倒出来了。希刺克厉夫少爷大为恼火,硬说她的叙述全是假的。

“爸爸告诉我的,爸爸不说假话。”她唐突地说。

“我的爸爸看不起你爸爸,”林惇大叫。“他骂他是一个鬼鬼祟祟的呆子。”

“你爸爸是一个恶毒的人,”凯瑟琳反骂起来,“你竟敢重复他所说的话,这是非常可恶的。他一定是很恶毒,才会使伊莎贝拉姑姑离开了他。”

“她并不是离开他,”那男孩子说,“你不要反驳我。”

“她是,”我的小姐嚷道。

“好,我也告诉你点事吧!”林惇说。“你的母亲恨你的父亲,怎么样吧。”

“啊!”凯瑟琳大叫,愤怒得说不下去了。

“而且她爱我的父亲。”他又说。

“你这说谎的小家伙!我现在恨你啦!”她喘息着,她的脸因为激动变得通红。

“她是的!她是的!”林惇叫着。陷到他的椅子里头,他的头往后抑靠着来欣赏站在他背后的那个辩论家的激动神气。

“住嘴,希刺克厉夫少爷?”我说,“我猜那也是你父亲编出来的故事。”

“不是:你住嘴!”他回答。“她是的,她是的,凯瑟琳!

她是的,她是的!”

凯蒂管不住自己了,把林惇的椅子猛然一推,这一下使他倒在一只扶手上。他立刻来了一阵窒息的咳嗽,很快地结束了他的胜利。他咳得这么久,连我都吓住了。至于他表姐呢,拚命大哭,为她所惹的祸吓坏了;虽然她并没说什么。我扶着他,直等到他咳嗽咳够了。然后他把我推开,默默地垂下了头。凯瑟琳也止住了她的悲泣,坐在对面的椅子上,庄严地望着火。

“你现在觉得怎么样,希刺克厉夫少爷?”等了十分钟,我问道。

“我但愿她也尝尝我所受的滋味,”他回答,“可恶的、残忍的东西!哈里顿从来没有碰过我;他从来没有打过我。今天我才好一点,就——”他的声音消失在呜咽中了。

“我并没有打你呀!”凯蒂咕噜着,咬住她的嘴唇,以防感情再一次爆发。

他又叹息又哼哼,就像是一个在忍受着极大苦痛的人。他哼了有一刻钟之久;显然是故意让他表姐难过,因为他每次一听到她发出哽咽的抽泣,他就在他的抑扬顿挫声调中重新添点痛苦与悲哀。

“我很抱歉我伤了你,林惇,”她终于说了,给折磨得受不住了。“可是那样轻轻一推,我就不会受伤,我也没想到你会。你伤得不厉害吧,是吗,林惇?别让我回家去还想着我伤害了你。理睬我吧!跟我说话呀。”

“我不能跟你说话,”他咕噜着,“你把我弄伤了,我会整夜醒着,咳得喘不过气来。要是你有这病,你就可以懂得这滋味啦;可是我在受罪的时候,你只顾舒舒服服地睡觉,没有一个人在我身边。我倒想要是你度过那些可怕的长夜,你会觉得怎么样!”他因为怜悯自己,开始大哭起来。

“既然你有度过可怕的长夜的习惯,”我说,“那就不是小姐破坏了你的安宁啦;她要是不来,你也还是这样。无论如何,她不会再来打搅你啦;也许我们离开了你,你就会安静些了。”

“我一定得走吗?”凯瑟琳忧愁地俯下身对着他问道。“你愿意我走吗?林惇?”

“你不能改变你所作的事,”他急躁地回答,躲着她,“除非你把事情改变得更糟,把我气得发烧。”

“好吧,那么,我一定得走啦,”她又重复说。

“至少,让我一个人待在这儿,”他说,“跟你谈话,我受不了。”

她踌躇不去,我好说歹说地劝她走,她就是不听。可是既然他不抬头,也不说话,她终于向门口走去,我也跟着。我们被一声尖叫召回来了。林惇从他的椅子上滑到炉前石板上,躺在那里扭来扭去,就像一个任性的死缠人的孩子在撒赖,故意要尽可能地作出悲哀和受折磨的样子。他的举动使我看透他的性格,立刻看出要迁就他,那才傻哩。我的同伴可不这样想:她恐怖地跑回去,跪下来,又叫,又安慰又哀求,直到他没了劲,安静了下来,决不是因为看她难过而懊悔的。

“我来把他抱到高背长靠椅上,”我说,“他爱怎么滚就怎么滚。我们不能停下来守着他。我希望你满意了,凯蒂小姐,因为你不是能对他有益的人;他的健康情况也不是由于对你的依恋而搞成这样的。现在,好了,让他在那儿吧!走吧,等到他一知道没有人理睬他的胡闹,他也就安安静静地躺着了。”

她把一个靠垫枕在他的头下,给他一点水喝。他拒绝喝水,又在靠垫上不舒服地翻来复去,好像那是块石头或是块木头似的。她试着把它放得更舒服些。

“我可不要那个,”他说,“不够高。”

凯瑟琳又拿来一个靠垫加在上面。

“太高啦,”这个惹人厌的东西咕噜着。

“那么我该怎么弄呢?”她绝望地问道。

他靠在她身上,因为她半跪在长椅旁,他就把她的肩膀当作一种倚靠了。

“不,那不成,”我说,“你枕着靠垫就可以知足了,希刺克厉夫少爷。小姐已经在你身上浪费太多的时间啦:我们连五分钟也不能多待了。”

“不,不,我们能!”凯蒂回答。“现在他好了,能忍着点啦。他在开始想到,如果我认为是我的来访才使他病重的话,那我今晚肯定会比他过得还要难受。那么我也就不敢再来了。

说实话吧,林惇;要是我弄痛了你,我就不能来啦。”

“你一定要来,来医治我,”他回答。“你应该来,因为你弄痛了我:你知道你把我弄痛得很厉害!你进来时我并没有像现在这样病得厉害——是吧?”

“可是你又哭又闹把你自己弄病了的——可不是我,”他的表姐说,“无论如何,现在我们要作朋友了。而且你需要我:

你有时也愿意看见我,是真的么?”

“我已经告诉了你我愿意,”他不耐烦地回答说。“坐在长椅子上,让我靠着你的膝。妈妈总是那样的,整个整个下午都那样。静静地坐着,别说话:可要是你能唱歌也可以唱个歌;或者你可以说一首又长又好又有趣的歌谣——你答应过教我的;或者讲个故事。不过,我情愿来首歌谣!开始吧。”

凯瑟琳背诵她所能记住的最长的一首。这件事使他俩都很愉快。林惇又要再来一个,完了又再来一个,丝毫不顾我拚命反对;这样他们一直搞到钟打了十二点,我们听见哈里顿在院子里,他回来吃中饭了。

“明天,凯瑟琳,明天你来吗?”小希刺克厉夫问,在她勉强站起来时拉着她的衣服。

“不,”我回答,“后天也不。”她可显然给了一个不同的答复,因为在她俯身向他耳语时,他的前额就开朗了起来。

“你明天不能来,记住,小姐!”当我们走出这所房子时,我就说。“你不是作梦吧,是不是?”

她微笑。

“啊,我要特别小心,”我继续说,“我要把那把锁修好,你就没路溜走啦。”

“我能爬墙,”她笑着说,“田庄不是监牢,艾伦,你也不是我的看守。再说,我快十七岁啦,我是一个女人。我担保如果林惇有我去照应他,他的身体会很快好起来。我比他大,你知道,也聪明点,孩子气少些,不是吗?稍微来点甜言蜜语,他就会听我的了。当他好好的时候,他是个漂亮的小宝贝哩。如果他是我家里人,我要把他当个宝贝。我们永远不吵架,等我们彼此熟悉了,我们还会吵吗?你不喜欢他吗,艾伦?”

“喜欢他!”我大叫。“一个勉强挣扎到十几岁的,脾气坏透的小病人。幸亏,如希刺克厉夫所料,他是活不到二十岁的。真的,我怀疑他还能不能看见春天。无论什么时候他死了,对他的家庭都算不得是个损失。对我们来说,总算运气好,因为他父亲把他带走了:对待他越和气,他就越麻烦,越自私。我很高兴你没有要他作你丈夫的机会,凯瑟琳小姐。”

我的同伴听着这段话时,变得很严肃。这样不经意地谈到他的死,伤了她的感情。

“他比我小,”沉思半晌之后,她答道,“他应该活得很长,他要——他一定得活得跟我一样长久。现在他和才到北方来时一样强壮,这点我敢肯定。他只是受了一点凉,就跟爸爸一样,你说爸爸会好起来的,那他为什么不能呢?”

“好啦,好啦,”我叫着,“反正我们用不着给自己找麻烦;你听着,小姐——记住,我说话可是算数的——如果你打算再去呼啸山庄,有我陪着也好,没有我陪着也好,我就告诉林惇先生;除非他准许,不然你和你表弟的亲密关系绝不能再恢复。”

“已经恢复了,”凯蒂执拗地咕噜着。

“那么就一定不能继续,”我说。

“我们走着瞧吧,”这是她的回答,她就骑马疾驰而去,丢下我在后面辛辛苦苦地赶着。

我们都在午饭之前到了家;我的主人还以为我们是在花园里溜达哩,因此没要我们解释不在家的原因。我一进门,就赶忙换掉我那湿透了的鞋袜;可是在山庄坐了这么久可惹出了祸。第二天早上我起不来了,有三个星期之久,我不能执行我的职务:这个灾难是那时期以前从未经历过的,而且感谢上帝,自那以后也没有过。

我的小女主人表现得如天使一般,来侍候我,在我寂寞时来使我愉快。这种禁闭使我的情绪很低沉。对于一个忙碌好动的人,真感到无聊极了。可是和人家相比,我简直没什么理由可抱怨的。凯瑟琳一离开林惇先生的屋子,就出现在我的床边。她一天的时间全分给我们两个人了;没有一分钟是玩掉的:吃饭、读书和游戏她都不放在心上,真是位难得的、讨人喜的看护。在她这么爱她的父亲时,还能这么关心我,她必然是有颗热情的心。我说过她一天的时间全分给我们两个人了;但是主人休息得很早,我通常在六点钟以后也不需要什么,如此晚上就是她自己的了。可怜的东西!我从来没想到在吃茶以后她去作什么了。虽然时不时地,当她进来望望我,跟我道声晚安时,我看见她的脸上有一种鲜艳的色彩,她的纤细的手指也略微泛红。但我没想到这颜色是因为冒着严寒骑马过旷野而来,却以为是因为在书房烤火的缘故哩。
 


Chapter 23

The rainy night had ushered in a misty morning--half frost, half drizzle and temporary brooks crossed our path--gurgling from the uplands. My feet were thoroughly wetted; I was cross and low; exactly the humour suited for making the most of these disagreeable things. We entered the farmhouse by the kitchen way, to ascertain whether Mr Heathcliff were really absent; because I put slight faith in his own affirmation.

Joseph seemed sitting in a sort of elysium alone, beside a roaring fire; a quart of ale on the table near him, bristling with large pieces of toasted oatcake; and his black, short pipe in his mouth. Catherine ran to the hearth to warm herself. I asked if the master was in? My question remained so long unanswered, that I thought the old man had grown deaf, and repeated it louder.

`Na-ay!' he snarled, or rather screamed through his nose. `Na-ay! yah muh goa back whear yah coom frough.'

`Joseph!' cried a peevish voice, simultaneously with me, from the inner room. `How often am I to call you? There are only a few red ashes now. Joseph! come this moment.

Vigorous puffs, and a resolute stare into the grate declared he had no ear for this appeal. The housekeeper and Hareton were invisible; one gone on an errand, and the other at his work, probably. We knew Linton's tones, and entered.

`Oh, I hope you'll die in a garret! starved to death,' said the boy, mistaking our approach for that of his negligent attendant.

He stopped, on observing his error; his cousin flew to him.

`Is that you, Miss Linton?' he said, raising his head from the arm of the great chair, in which he reclined. `No--don't kiss me: it takes my breath. Dear me! Papa said you would call,' continued he, after recovering a little from Catherine's embrace; while she stood by liking very contrite. `Will you shut the door, if you please? you left it open; and those--those detestable creatures won't bring coals to the fire. It's so cold!'

I stirred up the cinders, and fetched a scuttleful myself. The invalid complained of being covered with ashes; but he had a tiresome cough, and looked feverish and ill, so I did not rebuke his temper.

`Well, Linton,' murmured Catherine, when his corrugated brow relaxed. `Are you glad to see me? Can I do you any good?'

`Why didn't you come before?' he asked. `You should have come, instead of writing. It tired me dreadfully, writing those long letters. I'd far rather have talked to you. Now, I can neither bear to talk, nor anything else. I wonder where Zillah is! Will you (looking at me) step into the kitchen and see?'

I had received no thanks for my other service; and being unwilling to run out to and fro at his behest, I replied:

`Nobody is out there but Joseph.'

`I want to drink,' he exclaimed fretfully, turning away. `Zillah is constantly gadding off to Gimmerton since papa went: it's miserable! And I'm obliged to come down here--they resolved never to hear me upstairs.'

`Is your father attentive to you, Master Heathcliff?' I asked, perceiving Catherine to be checked in her friendly advances.

`Attentive? He makes them a little more attentive at least,' he cried. `The wretches! Do you know, Miss Linton, that brute Hareton laughs at me! I hate him! indeed, I hate them all: they are odious beings.'

Cathy began searching for some water; she lighted on a pitcher in the dresser, filled a tumbler, and brought it. He bid her add a spoonful of wine from a bottle on the table; and having swallowed a small portion, appeared more tranquil, and said she was very kind.

`And are you glad to see me?' asked she, reiterating her former question, and pleased to detect the faint dawn of a smile.

`Yes, I am. It's something new to hear a voice like yours!' he replied. `But I have been vexed, because you wouldn't come. And papa swore it was owing to me: he called me a pitiful, shuffling, worthless thing; and said you despised me; and if he had been in my place, he would be more the master of the Grange than your father, by this time. But you don't despise me, do you, Miss--

`I wish you would say Catherine, or Cathy,' interrupted my young lady. `Despise you? No! Next to papa and Ellen, I love you better than anybody living. I don't love Mr Heathcliff, though; and I dare not come when he returns; will he stay away many days?'

`Not many,' answered Linton; `but he goes on to the moors frequently, since the shooting season commenced; and you might spend an hour or two with me in his absence. Do say you will. I think I should not be peevish with you: you'd not provoke me, and you'd always be ready to help me, wouldn't you?'

`Yes,' said Catherine, stroking his long soft hair; `if I could only get papa's consent, I'd spend half my time with you. Pretty Linton! I wish you were my brother.'

`And then you would like me as well as your father?' observed he, more cheerfully. `But papa says you would love me better than him and all the world, if you were my wife; so I'd rather you were that.'

`No, I should never love anybody better than papa,' she returned gravely. `And people hate their wives, sometimes; but not their sisters and brothers: and if you were the latter you would live with us, and papa would be as fond of you as he is of me.'

Linton denied that people ever hated their wives; but Cathy affirmed they did, and, in her wisdom, instanced his own father's aversion to her aunt. I endeavoured to stop her thoughtless tongue. I couldn't succeed till everything she knew was out. Master Heathcliff, much irritated, asserted her relation was false.

`Papa told me; and papa does not tell falsehoods,' she answered pertly.

`Ny papa scorns yours!' cried Linton. `He calls him a sneaking fool!'

`Yours is a wicked man,' retorted Catherine, `and you are very naughty to dare to repeat what he says. He must be wicked to have made Aunt Isabella leave him as she did!'

`She didn't leave him,' said the boy; `you shan't contradict me!'

`She did!' cried my young lady.

`Well, I'll tell you something!' said Linton. `Your mother hated your father: now then.'

`Oh!' exclaimed Catherine, too enraged to continue. `And she loved mine!' added he.

`You little liar! I hate you now,' she panted, and her face grew red with passion.

`She did! she did!' sang Linton, sinking into the recess of his chair, and leaning back his head to enjoy the agitation of the other disputant, who stood behind.

`Hush, Master Heathcliff!' I said; `that's your father's tale, too, I suppose.'

`It isn't: you hold your tongue!' he answered. `She did, she did, Catherine! she did, she did!'

Cathy, beside herself, gave the chair a violent push, and caused him to fall against one arm. He was immediately seized by a suffocating cough that soon ended his triumph. It lasted so long that it frightened even me. As to his cousin, she wept, with all her might; aghast at the mischief she had done: though she said nothing. I held him till the fit exhausted itself. Then he thrust me away, and leant his head down silently. Catherine quelled her lamentations also, took a seat opposite, and looked solemnly into the fire.

`How do you feel now, Master Heathcliff?' I inquired, after waiting ten minutes.

`I wish she felt as I do,' he replied: `spiteful, cruel thing! Hareton never touches me: he never struck me in his life. And I was better today: and there--` his voice died in a whimper.

`I didn't strike you!' muttered Cathy, chewing her lip to prevent another burst of emotion.

He sighed and moaned like one under great suffering, and kept it up for a quarter of an hour; on purpose to distress his cousin apparently, for whenever he caught a stifled sob from her he put renewed pain and pathos into the inflections of his voice.

`I'm sorry I hurt you, Linton,' she said at length, racked beyond endurance. `But I couldn't have been hurt by that little push, and I had no idea that you could, either: you're not much, are you, Linton? Don't let me go home thinking I've done you harm. Answer! speak to me.'

`I can't speak to you,' he murmured; `you've hurt me so, that I shall lie awake all night choking with this cough. If you had it you'd know what it was; but you'll be comfortably asleep while I'm in agony, and nobody near me. I wonder how you would like to pass those fearful nights!' And he began to wail aloud, for very pity of himself.

`Since you are in the habit of passing dreadful nights,' I said, `it won't be miss who spoils your ease: you'd be the same had she never come. However, she shall not disturb you again; and perhaps you'll get quieter when we leave you.

`Must I go?' asked Catherine dolefully, bending over him. `Do you want me to go, Linton?'

`You can't alter what you've done,' he replied pettishly, shrinking from her, `unless you alter it for the worse by teasing me into a fever.'

`Well, then, I must go?' she repeated.

`Let me alone, at least,' said he; `I can't bear your talking.'

She lingered, and resisted my persuasions to departure a tiresome while; but as he neither looked up nor spoke, she finally made a movement to the door and I followed. We were recalled by a scream. Linton had slid from his seat on to the hearthstone, and lay writhing in the mere perverseness of an indulged plague of a child, determined to be as grievous and harassing as it can. I thoroughly gauged his disposition from his behaviour, and saw at once it would be folly to attempt humouring him. Not so my companion: she ran back in terror, knelt down, and cried, and soothed, and entreated, till he grew quiet from lack of breath: by no means from compunction at distressing her.

`I shall lift him on the settle,' I said, `and he may roll about as he pleases: we can't stop to watch him. I hope you are satisfied, Miss Cathy, that you are not the person to benefit him; and that his condition of health is not occasioned by attachment to you. Now, then, there he is! Come away: as soon as he knows there is nobody by to care for his nonsense, he'll be glad to lie still.'

She placed a cushion under his head, and offered him some water; he rejected the latter, and tossed uneasily on the former, as if it were a stone or a block of wood. She tried to put it more comfortably.

`I can't do with that,' he said; `it's not high enough.'

Catherine brought another to lay above it.

`That's too high,' murmured the provoking thing.

`How must I arrange it, then?' she asked despairingly.

He twined himself up to her, as she half knelt by the settle, and converted her shoulder into a support.

`No, that won't do,' I said. `You'll be content with the cushion, Master Heathcliff. Miss has wasted too much time on you already: we cannot remain five minutes longer.'

`Yes, yes, we can!' replied Cathy. `He's good and patient now. He's beginning to think I shall have far greater misery than he will tonight, if I believe he is the worse for my visit; and then I dare not come again. Tell the truth about it, Linton; for I mustn't come, if I have hurt you.'

`You must come, to cure me,' he answered. `You ought to come, because you have hurt me: you know you have extremely! I was not as ill when you entered as I am at present--was I?'

`But you've made yourself ill by crying and being in a passion.'

`I didn't do it at all,' said his cousin. `However, we'll be friends

now. And you want me: you would wish to see me sometimes, really?'

`I told you I did,' he replied impatiently. `Sit on the settle and let me lean on your knee. That's as mamma used to do, whole afternoons together. Sit quite still and don't talk: but you may sing a song, if you can sing; or you may say a nice long interesting ballad--one of those you promised to teach me: or a story. I'd rather have a ballad, though: begin.'

Catherine repeated the longest she could remember. The employment pleased both mightily. Linton would have another; and after that another, notwithstanding my strenuous objections; and so they went on until the clock struck twelve, and we heard Hareton in the court, returning for his dinner.

`And tomorrow, Catherine, will you be here tomorrow?' asked young Heathcliff, holding her frock as she rose reluctantly.

`No,' I answered, `nor next day neither.' She, however, gave a different response evidently, for his forehead cleared as she stooped and whispered in his ear.

`You won't go tomorrow, recollect, miss!' I commenced, when we were out of the house. `You are not dreaming of it, are you?'

`Oh, I'll take good care,' I continued: `I'll have that lock mended, and you can escape by no way else.'

`I can get over the wall,' she said, laughing. `The Grange is not a prison, Ellen, and you are not my jailer. And besides, I'm almost seventeen: I'm a woman. And I'm certain Linton would recover quickly if he had me to look after him. I'm older than he is, you know, and wiser: less childish, am I not? And he'll soon do as I direct him, with some slight coaxing. He's a pretty little darling when he's good. I'd make such a pet of him, if he were mine. We should never quarrel, should we, after we were used to each other? Don't you like him, Ellen?'

`Like him?' I exclaimed. `The worst-tempered bit of a sickly slip that ever struggled into its teens. Happily, as Mr Heathcliff conjectured, he'll not win twenty. I doubt whether he'll see spring, indeed. And small loss to his family whenever he drops off. And lucky it is for us that his father took him: the kinder he was treated, the more tedious and selfish he'd be. I'm glad you have no chance of having him for a husband, Miss Catherine.'

My companion waxed serious at hearing this speech. To speak of his death so regardlessly, wounded her feelings.

`He's younger than I,' she answered, after a protracted pause of meditation, `and he ought to live the longest: he will--he must live as long as I do. He's as strong now as when he first came into the north; I'm positive of that. It's only a cold that ails him, the same as papa has. You say papa will get better, and why shouldn't he?'

`Well, well,' I cried, `after all, we needn't trouble ourselves; for listen, miss, and mind, I'll keep my word,--if you attempt going to Wuthering Heights again, with or without me, I shall inform Mr Linton, and, unless he allow it, the intimacy with your cousin must not be revived.'

`It has been revived,' muttered Cathy sulkily. `Must not be continued, then,' I said.

`We'll see,' was her reply, and she set off at a gallop, leaving me to toil in the rear.

We both reached home before our dinner time; my master supposed we had been wandering through the park, and therefore he demanded no explanation of our absence. As soon as I entered, I hastened to change my soaked shoes and stockings; but sitting such a while at the Heights had done the mischief. On the succeeding morning I was laid up, and during three weeks I remained incapacitated for attending to my duties: a calamity never experienced prior to that period, and never, I am thankful to say, since.

My little mistress behaved like an angel, in coming to wait on me, and cheer my solitude: the confinement brought me exceedingly low. It is wearisome, to a stirring active body: but few have slighter reasons for complaint than I had. The moment Catherine left Mr Linton's room, she appeared at my bedside. Her day was divided between us; no amusement usurped a minute: she neglected her meals, her studies, and her play; and she was the fondest nurse that ever watched. She must have had a warm heart, when she loved her father so, to give so much to me. I said her days were divided between us; but the master retired early, and I generally needed nothing after six o'clock; thus the evening was her own. Poor thing! I never considered what she did with herself after tea. And though frequently, when she looked in to bid me good night, I remarked a fresh colour in her cheeks and a pinkness over her slender fingers; instead of fancying the hue borrowed from a cold ride across the moors, I laid it to the charge of a hot fire in the library.