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  外语解密学习法 逆读法(Reverse Reading Method) 和  解读法(Decode-Reading Method)训练范文 ——                 

解密目标语言:英语                                解密辅助语言:汉语
              Language to be decoded:  English             Auxiliary Language :  Chinese  

  
       
解密文本:     《呼啸山庄》   [英] 艾米莉·勃朗特  著         
 

Wuthering Heights
by   Emily Bronte


      第1-10章      |       第11-20章       |      第21-30 章      |      第31-34章

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CHAPTER I

1801.—I have just returned from a visit to my landlord—the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.  This is certainly a beautiful country!  In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society.  A perfect misanthropist’s heaven: and Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us.  A capital fellow!  He little imagined how my heart warmed towards him when I beheld his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows, as I rode up, and when his fingers sheltered themselves, with a jealous resolution, still further in his waistcoat, as I announced my name.

‘Mr. Heathcliff?’ I said.

A nod was the answer.

‘Mr. Lockwood, your new tenant, sir.  I do myself the honour of calling as soon as possible after my arrival, to express the hope that I have not inconvenienced you by my perseverance in soliciting the occupation of Thrushcross Grange: I heard yesterday you had had some thoughts—’

‘Thrushcross Grange is my own, sir,’ he interrupted, wincing.  ‘I should not allow any one to inconvenience me, if I could hinder it—walk in!’

The ‘walk in’ was uttered with closed teeth, and expressed the sentiment, ‘Go to the Deuce:’ even the gate over which he leant manifested no sympathising movement to the words; and I think that circumstance determined me to accept the invitation: I felt interested in a man who seemed more exaggeratedly reserved than myself.

When he saw my horse’s breast fairly pushing the barrier, he did put out his hand to unchain it, and then sullenly preceded me up the causeway, calling, as we entered the court,—‘Joseph, take Mr. Lockwood’s horse; and bring up some wine.’

‘Here we have the whole establishment of domestics, I suppose,’ was the reflection suggested by this compound order.  ‘No wonder the grass grows up between the flags, and cattle are the only hedge-cutters.’

Joseph was an elderly, nay, an old man: very old, perhaps, though hale and sinewy.  ‘The Lord help us!’ he soliloquised in an undertone of peevish displeasure, while relieving me of my horse: looking, meantime, in my face so sourly that I charitably conjectured he must have need of divine aid to digest his dinner, and his pious ejaculation had no reference to my unexpected advent.

Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff’s dwelling.  ‘Wuthering’ being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather.  Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed: one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun.  Happily, the architect had foresight to build it strong: the narrow windows are deeply set in the wall, and the corners defended with large jutting stones.

Before passing the threshold, I paused to admire a quantity of grotesque carving lavished over the front, and especially about the principal door; above which, among a wilderness of crumbling griffins and shameless little boys, I detected the date ‘1500,’ and the name ‘Hareton Earnshaw.’  I would have made a few comments, and requested a short history of the place from the surly owner; but his attitude at the door appeared to demand my speedy entrance, or complete departure, and I had no desire to aggravate his impatience previous to inspecting the penetralium.

One stop brought us into the family sitting-room, without any introductory lobby or passage: they call it here ‘the house’ pre-eminently.  It includes kitchen and parlour, generally; but I believe at Wuthering Heights the kitchen is forced to retreat altogether into another quarter: at least I distinguished a chatter of tongues, and a clatter of culinary utensils, deep within; and I observed no signs of roasting, boiling, or baking, about the huge fireplace; nor any glitter of copper saucepans and tin cullenders on the walls.  One end, indeed, reflected splendidly both light and heat from ranks of immense pewter dishes, interspersed with silver jugs and tankards, towering row after row, on a vast oak dresser, to the very roof.  The latter had never been under-drawn: its entire anatomy lay bare to an inquiring eye, except where a frame of wood laden with oatcakes and clusters of legs of beef, mutton, and ham, concealed it.  Above the chimney were sundry villainous old guns, and a couple of horse-pistols: and, by way of ornament, three gaudily-painted canisters disposed along its ledge.  The floor was of smooth, white stone; the chairs, high-backed, primitive structures, painted green: one or two heavy black ones lurking in the shade.  In an arch under the dresser reposed a huge, liver-coloured bitch pointer, surrounded by a swarm of squealing puppies; and other dogs haunted other recesses.

The apartment and furniture would have been nothing extraordinary as belonging to a homely, northern farmer, with a stubborn countenance, and stalwart limbs set out to advantage in knee-breeches and gaiters.  Such an individual seated in his arm-chair, his mug of ale frothing on the round table before him, is to be seen in any circuit of five or six miles among these hills, if you go at the right time after dinner.  But Mr. Heathcliff forms a singular contrast to his abode and style of living.  He is a dark-skinned gipsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman: that is, as much a gentleman as many a country squire: rather slovenly, perhaps, yet not looking amiss with his negligence, because he has an erect and handsome figure; and rather morose.  Possibly, some people might suspect him of a degree of under-bred pride; I have a sympathetic chord within that tells me it is nothing of the sort: I know, by instinct, his reserve springs from an aversion to showy displays of feeling—to manifestations of mutual kindliness.  He’ll love and hate equally under cover, and esteem it a species of impertinence to be loved or hated again.  No, I’m running on too fast: I bestow my own attributes over-liberally on him.  Mr. Heathcliff may have entirely dissimilar reasons for keeping his hand out of the way when he meets a would-be acquaintance, to those which actuate me.  Let me hope my constitution is almost peculiar: my dear mother used to say I should never have a comfortable home; and only last summer I proved myself perfectly unworthy of one.

While enjoying a month of fine weather at the sea-coast, I was thrown into the company of a most fascinating creature: a real goddess in my eyes, as long as she took no notice of me.  I ‘never told my love’ vocally; still, if looks have language, the merest idiot might have guessed I was over head and ears: she understood me at last, and looked a return—the sweetest of all imaginable looks.  And what did I do?  I confess it with shame—shrunk icily into myself, like a snail; at every glance retired colder and farther; till finally the poor innocent was led to doubt her own senses, and, overwhelmed with confusion at her supposed mistake, persuaded her mamma to decamp.  By this curious turn of disposition I have gained the reputation of deliberate heartlessness; how undeserved, I alone can appreciate.

I took a seat at the end of the hearthstone opposite that towards which my landlord advanced, and filled up an interval of silence by attempting to caress the canine mother, who had left her nursery, and was sneaking wolfishly to the back of my legs, her lip curled up, and her white teeth watering for a snatch.  My caress provoked a long, guttural gnarl.

‘You’d better let the dog alone,’ growled Mr. Heathcliff in unison, checking fiercer demonstrations with a punch of his foot.  ‘She’s not accustomed to be spoiled—not kept for a pet.’  Then, striding to a side door, he shouted again, ‘Joseph!’

Joseph mumbled indistinctly in the depths of the cellar, but gave no intimation of ascending; so his master dived down to him, leaving me vis-à-vis the ruffianly bitch and a pair of grim shaggy sheep-dogs, who shared with her a jealous guardianship over all my movements.  Not anxious to come in contact with their fangs, I sat still; but, imagining they would scarcely understand tacit insults, I unfortunately indulged in winking and making faces at the trio, and some turn of my physiognomy so irritated madam, that she suddenly broke into a fury and leapt on my knees.  I flung her back, and hastened to interpose the table between us.  This proceeding aroused the whole hive: half-a-dozen four-footed fiends, of various sizes and ages, issued from hidden dens to the common centre.  I felt my heels and coat-laps peculiar subjects of assault; and parrying off the larger combatants as effectually as I could with the poker, I was constrained to demand, aloud, assistance from some of the household in re-establishing peace.

Mr. Heathcliff and his man climbed the cellar steps with vexatious phlegm: I don’t think they moved one second faster than usual, though the hearth was an absolute tempest of worrying and yelping.  Happily, an inhabitant of the kitchen made more despatch: a lusty dame, with tucked-up gown, bare arms, and fire-flushed cheeks, rushed into the midst of us flourishing a frying-pan: and used that weapon, and her tongue, to such purpose, that the storm subsided magically, and she only remained, heaving like a sea after a high wind, when her master entered on the scene.

‘What the devil is the matter?’ he asked, eyeing me in a manner that I could ill endure, after this inhospitable treatment.

‘What the devil, indeed!’ I muttered.  ‘The herd of possessed swine could have had no worse spirits in them than those animals of yours, sir.  You might as well leave a stranger with a brood of tigers!’

‘They won’t meddle with persons who touch nothing,’ he remarked, putting the bottle before me, and restoring the displaced table.  ‘The dogs do right to be vigilant.  Take a glass of wine?’

‘No, thank you.’

‘Not bitten, are you?’

‘If I had been, I would have set my signet on the biter.’  Heathcliff’s countenance relaxed into a grin.

‘Come, come,’ he said, ‘you are flurried, Mr. Lockwood.  Here, take a little wine.  Guests are so exceedingly rare in this house that I and my dogs, I am willing to own, hardly know how to receive them.  Your health, sir?’

I bowed and returned the pledge; beginning to perceive that it would be foolish to sit sulking for the misbehaviour of a pack of curs; besides, I felt loth to yield the fellow further amusement at my expense; since his humour took that turn.  He—probably swayed by prudential consideration of the folly of offending a good tenant—relaxed a little in the laconic style of chipping off his pronouns and auxiliary verbs, and introduced what he supposed would be a subject of interest to me,—a discourse on the advantages and disadvantages of my present place of retirement.  I found him very intelligent on the topics we touched; and before I went home, I was encouraged so far as to volunteer another visit to-morrow.  He evidently wished no repetition of my intrusion.  I shall go, notwithstanding.  It is astonishing how sociable I feel myself compared with him.

 

CHAPTER II

Yesterday afternoon set in misty and cold.  I had half a mind to spend it by my study fire, instead of wading through heath and mud to Wuthering Heights.  On coming up from dinner, however, (N.B.—I dine between twelve and one o’clock; the housekeeper, a matronly lady, taken as a fixture along with the house, could not, or would not, comprehend my request that I might be served at five)—on mounting the stairs with this lazy intention, and stepping into the room, I saw a servant-girl on her knees surrounded by brushes and coal-scuttles, and raising an infernal dust as she extinguished the flames with heaps of cinders.  This spectacle drove me back immediately; I took my hat, and, after a four-miles’ walk, arrived at Heathcliff’s garden-gate just in time to escape the first feathery flakes of a snow-shower.

On that bleak hill-top the earth was hard with a black frost, and the air made me shiver through every limb.  Being unable to remove the chain, I jumped over, and, running up the flagged causeway bordered with straggling gooseberry-bushes, knocked vainly for admittance, till my knuckles tingled and the dogs howled.

‘Wretched inmates!’ I ejaculated, mentally, ‘you deserve perpetual isolation from your species for your churlish inhospitality.  At least, I would not keep my doors barred in the day-time.  I don’t care—I will get in!’  So resolved, I grasped the latch and shook it vehemently.  Vinegar-faced Joseph projected his head from a round window of the barn.

‘What are ye for?’ he shouted.  ‘T’ maister’s down i’ t’ fowld.  Go round by th’ end o’ t’ laith, if ye went to spake to him.’

‘Is there nobody inside to open the door?’ I hallooed, responsively.

‘There’s nobbut t’ missis; and shoo’ll not oppen ’t an ye mak’ yer flaysome dins till neeght.’

‘Why?  Cannot you tell her whom I am, eh, Joseph?’

‘Nor-ne me!  I’ll hae no hend wi’t,’ muttered the head, vanishing.

The snow began to drive thickly.  I seized the handle to essay another trial; when a young man without coat, and shouldering a pitchfork, appeared in the yard behind.  He hailed me to follow him, and, after marching through a wash-house, and a paved area containing a coal-shed, pump, and pigeon-cot, we at length arrived in the huge, warm, cheerful apartment where I was formerly received.  It glowed delightfully in the radiance of an immense fire, compounded of coal, peat, and wood; and near the table, laid for a plentiful evening meal, I was pleased to observe the ‘missis,’ an individual whose existence I had never previously suspected.  I bowed and waited, thinking she would bid me take a seat.  She looked at me, leaning back in her chair, and remained motionless and mute.

‘Rough weather!’ I remarked.  ‘I’m afraid, Mrs. Heathcliff, the door must bear the consequence of your servants’ leisure attendance: I had hard work to make them hear me.’

She never opened her mouth.  I stared—she stared also: at any rate, she kept her eyes on me in a cool, regardless manner, exceedingly embarrassing and disagreeable.

‘Sit down,’ said the young man, gruffly.  ‘He’ll be in soon.’

I obeyed; and hemmed, and called the villain Juno, who deigned, at this second interview, to move the extreme tip of her tail, in token of owning my acquaintance.

‘A beautiful animal!’ I commenced again.  ‘Do you intend parting with the little ones, madam?’

‘They are not mine,’ said the amiable hostess, more repellingly than Heathcliff himself could have replied.

‘Ah, your favourites are among these?’ I continued, turning to an obscure cushion full of something like cats.

‘A strange choice of favourites!’ she observed scornfully.

Unluckily, it was a heap of dead rabbits.  I hemmed once more, and drew closer to the hearth, repeating my comment on the wildness of the evening.

‘You should not have come out,’ she said, rising and reaching from the chimney-piece two of the painted canisters.

Her position before was sheltered from the light; now, I had a distinct view of her whole figure and countenance.  She was slender, and apparently scarcely past girlhood: an admirable form, and the most exquisite little face that I have ever had the pleasure of beholding; small features, very fair; flaxen ringlets, or rather golden, hanging loose on her delicate neck; and eyes, had they been agreeable in expression, that would have been irresistible: fortunately for my susceptible heart, the only sentiment they evinced hovered between scorn and a kind of desperation, singularly unnatural to be detected there.  The canisters were almost out of her reach; I made a motion to aid her; she turned upon me as a miser might turn if any one attempted to assist him in counting his gold.

‘I don’t want your help,’ she snapped; ‘I can get them for myself.’

‘I beg your pardon!’ I hastened to reply.

‘Were you asked to tea?’ she demanded, tying an apron over her neat black frock, and standing with a spoonful of the leaf poised over the pot.

‘I shall be glad to have a cup,’ I answered.

‘Were you asked?’ she repeated.

‘No,’ I said, half smiling.  ‘You are the proper person to ask me.’

She flung the tea back, spoon and all, and resumed her chair in a pet; her forehead corrugated, and her red under-lip pushed out, like a child’s ready to cry.

Meanwhile, the young man had slung on to his person a decidedly shabby upper garment, and, erecting himself before the blaze, looked down on me from the corner of his eyes, for all the world as if there were some mortal feud unavenged between us.  I began to doubt whether he were a servant or not: his dress and speech were both rude, entirely devoid of the superiority observable in Mr. and Mrs. Heathcliff; his thick brown curls were rough and uncultivated, his whiskers encroached bearishly over his cheeks, and his hands were embrowned like those of a common labourer: still his bearing was free, almost haughty, and he showed none of a domestic’s assiduity in attending on the lady of the house.  In the absence of clear proofs of his condition, I deemed it best to abstain from noticing his curious conduct; and, five minutes afterwards, the entrance of Heathcliff relieved me, in some measure, from my uncomfortable state.

‘You see, sir, I am come, according to promise!’ I exclaimed, assuming the cheerful; ‘and I fear I shall be weather-bound for half an hour, if you can afford me shelter during that space.’

‘Half an hour?’ he said, shaking the white flakes from his clothes; ‘I wonder you should select the thick of a snow-storm to ramble about in.  Do you know that you run a risk of being lost in the marshes?  People familiar with these moors often miss their road on such evenings; and I can tell you there is no chance of a change at present.’

‘Perhaps I can get a guide among your lads, and he might stay at the Grange till morning—could you spare me one?’

‘No, I could not.’

‘Oh, indeed!  Well, then, I must trust to my own sagacity.’

‘Umph!’

‘Are you going to mak’ the tea?’ demanded he of the shabby coat, shifting his ferocious gaze from me to the young lady.

‘Is he to have any?’ she asked, appealing to Heathcliff.

‘Get it ready, will you?’ was the answer, uttered so savagely that I started.  The tone in which the words were said revealed a genuine bad nature.  I no longer felt inclined to call Heathcliff a capital fellow.  When the preparations were finished, he invited me with—‘Now, sir, bring forward your chair.’  And we all, including the rustic youth, drew round the table: an austere silence prevailing while we discussed our meal.

I thought, if I had caused the cloud, it was my duty to make an effort to dispel it.  They could not every day sit so grim and taciturn; and it was impossible, however ill-tempered they might be, that the universal scowl they wore was their every-day countenance.

‘It is strange,’ I began, in the interval of swallowing one cup of tea and receiving another—‘it is strange how custom can mould our tastes and ideas: many could not imagine the existence of happiness in a life of such complete exile from the world as you spend, Mr. Heathcliff; yet, I’ll venture to say, that, surrounded by your family, and with your amiable lady as the presiding genius over your home and heart—’

‘My amiable lady!’ he interrupted, with an almost diabolical sneer on his face.  ‘Where is she—my amiable lady?’

‘Mrs. Heathcliff, your wife, I mean.’

‘Well, yes—oh, you would intimate that her spirit has taken the post of ministering angel, and guards the fortunes of Wuthering Heights, even when her body is gone.  Is that it?’

Perceiving myself in a blunder, I attempted to correct it.  I might have seen there was too great a disparity between the ages of the parties to make it likely that they were man and wife.  One was about forty: a period of mental vigour at which men seldom cherish the delusion of being married for love by girls: that dream is reserved for the solace of our declining years.  The other did not look seventeen.

Then it flashed on me—‘The clown at my elbow, who is drinking his tea out of a basin and eating his broad with unwashed hands, may be her husband: Heathcliff junior, of course.  Here is the consequence of being buried alive: she has thrown herself away upon that boor from sheer ignorance that better individuals existed!  A sad pity—I must beware how I cause her to regret her choice.’  The last reflection may seem conceited; it was not.  My neighbour struck me as bordering on repulsive; I knew, through experience, that I was tolerably attractive.

‘Mrs. Heathcliff is my daughter-in-law,’ said Heathcliff, corroborating my surmise.  He turned, as he spoke, a peculiar look in her direction: a look of hatred; unless he has a most perverse set of facial muscles that will not, like those of other people, interpret the language of his soul.

‘Ah, certainly—I see now: you are the favoured possessor of the beneficent fairy,’ I remarked, turning to my neighbour.

This was worse than before: the youth grew crimson, and clenched his fist, with every appearance of a meditated assault.  But he seemed to recollect himself presently, and smothered the storm in a brutal curse, muttered on my behalf: which, however, I took care not to notice.

‘Unhappy in your conjectures, sir,’ observed my host; ‘we neither of us have the privilege of owning your good fairy; her mate is dead.  I said she was my daughter-in-law: therefore, she must have married my son.’

‘And this young man is—’

‘Not my son, assuredly.’

Heathcliff smiled again, as if it were rather too bold a jest to attribute the paternity of that bear to him.

‘My name is Hareton Earnshaw,’ growled the other; ‘and I’d counsel you to respect it!’

‘I’ve shown no disrespect,’ was my reply, laughing internally at the dignity with which he announced himself.

He fixed his eye on me longer than I cared to return the stare, for fear I might be tempted either to box his ears or render my hilarity audible.  I began to feel unmistakably out of place in that pleasant family circle.  The dismal spiritual atmosphere overcame, and more than neutralised, the glowing physical comforts round me; and I resolved to be cautious how I ventured under those rafters a third time.

The business of eating being concluded, and no one uttering a word of sociable conversation, I approached a window to examine the weather.  A sorrowful sight I saw: dark night coming down prematurely, and sky and hills mingled in one bitter whirl of wind and suffocating snow.

‘I don’t think it possible for me to get home now without a guide,’ I could not help exclaiming.  ‘The roads will be buried already; and, if they were bare, I could scarcely distinguish a foot in advance.’

‘Hareton, drive those dozen sheep into the barn porch.  They’ll be covered if left in the fold all night: and put a plank before them,’ said Heathcliff.

‘How must I do?’ I continued, with rising irritation.

There was no reply to my question; and on looking round I saw only Joseph bringing in a pail of porridge for the dogs, and Mrs. Heathcliff leaning over the fire, diverting herself with burning a bundle of matches which had fallen from the chimney-piece as she restored the tea-canister to its place.  The former, when he had deposited his burden, took a critical survey of the room, and in cracked tones grated out—‘Aw wonder how yah can faishion to stand thear i’ idleness un war, when all on ’ems goan out!  Bud yah’re a nowt, and it’s no use talking—yah’ll niver mend o’yer ill ways, but goa raight to t’ divil, like yer mother afore ye!’

I imagined, for a moment, that this piece of eloquence was addressed to me; and, sufficiently enraged, stepped towards the aged rascal with an intention of kicking him out of the door.  Mrs. Heathcliff, however, checked me by her answer.

‘You scandalous old hypocrite!’ she replied.  ‘Are you not afraid of being carried away bodily, whenever you mention the devil’s name?  I warn you to refrain from provoking me, or I’ll ask your abduction as a special favour!  Stop! look here, Joseph,’ she continued, taking a long, dark book from a shelf; ‘I’ll show you how far I’ve progressed in the Black Art: I shall soon be competent to make a clear house of it.  The red cow didn’t die by chance; and your rheumatism can hardly be reckoned among providential visitations!’

‘Oh, wicked, wicked!’ gasped the elder; ‘may the Lord deliver us from evil!’

‘No, reprobate! you are a castaway—be off, or I’ll hurt you seriously!  I’ll have you all modelled in wax and clay! and the first who passes the limits I fix shall—I’ll not say what he shall be done to—but, you’ll see!  Go, I’m looking at you!’

The little witch put a mock malignity into her beautiful eyes, and Joseph, trembling with sincere horror, hurried out, praying, and ejaculating ‘wicked’ as he went.  I thought her conduct must be prompted by a species of dreary fun; and, now that we were alone, I endeavoured to interest her in my distress.

‘Mrs. Heathcliff,’ I said earnestly, ‘you must excuse me for troubling you.  I presume, because, with that face, I’m sure you cannot help being good-hearted.  Do point out some landmarks by which I may know my way home: I have no more idea how to get there than you would have how to get to London!’

‘Take the road you came,’ she answered, ensconcing herself in a chair, with a candle, and the long book open before her.  ‘It is brief advice, but as sound as I can give.’

‘Then, if you hear of me being discovered dead in a bog or a pit full of snow, your conscience won’t whisper that it is partly your fault?’

‘How so?  I cannot escort you.  They wouldn’t let me go to the end of the garden wall.’

You!  I should be sorry to ask you to cross the threshold, for my convenience, on such a night,’ I cried.  ‘I want you to tell me my way, not to show it: or else to persuade Mr. Heathcliff to give me a guide.’

‘Who?  There is himself, Earnshaw, Zillah, Joseph and I.  Which would you have?’

‘Are there no boys at the farm?’

‘No; those are all.’

‘Then, it follows that I am compelled to stay.’

‘That you may settle with your host.  I have nothing to do with it.’

‘I hope it will be a lesson to you to make no more rash journeys on these hills,’ cried Heathcliff’s stern voice from the kitchen entrance.  ‘As to staying here, I don’t keep accommodations for visitors: you must share a bed with Hareton or Joseph, if you do.’

‘I can sleep on a chair in this room,’ I replied.

‘No, no!  A stranger is a stranger, be he rich or poor: it will not suit me to permit any one the range of the place while I am off guard!’ said the unmannerly wretch.

With this insult my patience was at an end.  I uttered an expression of disgust, and pushed past him into the yard, running against Earnshaw in my haste.  It was so dark that I could not see the means of exit; and, as I wandered round, I heard another specimen of their civil behaviour amongst each other.  At first the young man appeared about to befriend me.

‘I’ll go with him as far as the park,’ he said.

‘You’ll go with him to hell!’ exclaimed his master, or whatever relation he bore.  ‘And who is to look after the horses, eh?’

‘A man’s life is of more consequence than one evening’s neglect of the horses: somebody must go,’ murmured Mrs. Heathcliff, more kindly than I expected.

‘Not at your command!’ retorted Hareton.  ‘If you set store on him, you’d better be quiet.’

‘Then I hope his ghost will haunt you; and I hope Mr. Heathcliff will never get another tenant till the Grange is a ruin,’ she answered, sharply.

‘Hearken, hearken, shoo’s cursing on ’em!’ muttered Joseph, towards whom I had been steering.

He sat within earshot, milking the cows by the light of a lantern, which I seized unceremoniously, and, calling out that I would send it back on the morrow, rushed to the nearest postern.

‘Maister, maister, he’s staling t’ lanthern!’ shouted the ancient, pursuing my retreat.  ‘Hey, Gnasher!  Hey, dog!  Hey Wolf, holld him, holld him!’

On opening the little door, two hairy monsters flew at my throat, bearing me down, and extinguishing the light; while a mingled guffaw from Heathcliff and Hareton put the copestone on my rage and humiliation.  Fortunately, the beasts seemed more bent on stretching their paws, and yawning, and flourishing their tails, than devouring me alive; but they would suffer no resurrection, and I was forced to lie till their malignant masters pleased to deliver me: then, hatless and trembling with wrath, I ordered the miscreants to let me out—on their peril to keep me one minute longer—with several incoherent threats of retaliation that, in their indefinite depth of virulency, smacked of King Lear.

The vehemence of my agitation brought on a copious bleeding at the nose, and still Heathcliff laughed, and still I scolded.  I don’t know what would have concluded the scene, had there not been one person at hand rather more rational than myself, and more benevolent than my entertainer.  This was Zillah, the stout housewife; who at length issued forth to inquire into the nature of the uproar.  She thought that some of them had been laying violent hands on me; and, not daring to attack her master, she turned her vocal artillery against the younger scoundrel.

‘Well, Mr. Earnshaw,’ she cried, ‘I wonder what you’ll have agait next?  Are we going to murder folk on our very door-stones?  I see this house will never do for me—look at t’ poor lad, he’s fair choking!  Wisht, wisht; you mun’n’t go on so.  Come in, and I’ll cure that: there now, hold ye still.’

With these words she suddenly splashed a pint of icy water down my neck, and pulled me into the kitchen.  Mr. Heathcliff followed, his accidental merriment expiring quickly in his habitual moroseness.

I was sick exceedingly, and dizzy, and faint; and thus compelled perforce to accept lodgings under his roof.  He told Zillah to give me a glass of brandy, and then passed on to the inner room; while she condoled with me on my sorry predicament, and having obeyed his orders, whereby I was somewhat revived, ushered me to bed.

 

CHAPTER III

While leading the way upstairs, she recommended that I should hide the candle, and not make a noise; for her master had an odd notion about the chamber she would put me in, and never let anybody lodge there willingly.  I asked the reason.  She did not know, she answered: she had only lived there a year or two; and they had so many queer goings on, she could not begin to be curious.

Too stupefied to be curious myself, I fastened my door and glanced round for the bed.  The whole furniture consisted of a chair, a clothes-press, and a large oak case, with squares cut out near the top resembling coach windows.  Having approached this structure, I looked inside, and perceived it to be a singular sort of old-fashioned couch, very conveniently designed to obviate the necessity for every member of the family having a room to himself.  In fact, it formed a little closet, and the ledge of a window, which it enclosed, served as a table.  I slid back the panelled sides, got in with my light, pulled them together again, and felt secure against the vigilance of Heathcliff, and every one else.

The ledge, where I placed my candle, had a few mildewed books piled up in one corner; and it was covered with writing scratched on the paint.  This writing, however, was nothing but a name repeated in all kinds of characters, large and small—Catherine Earnshaw, here and there varied to Catherine Heathcliff, and then again to Catherine Linton.

In vapid listlessness I leant my head against the window, and continued spelling over Catherine Earnshaw—Heathcliff—Linton, till my eyes closed; but they had not rested five minutes when a glare of white letters started from the dark, as vivid as spectres—the air swarmed with Catherines; and rousing myself to dispel the obtrusive name, I discovered my candle-wick reclining on one of the antique volumes, and perfuming the place with an odour of roasted calf-skin.  I snuffed it off, and, very ill at ease under the influence of cold and lingering nausea, sat up and spread open the injured tome on my knee.  It was a Testament, in lean type, and smelling dreadfully musty: a fly-leaf bore the inscription—‘Catherine Earnshaw, her book,’ and a date some quarter of a century back.  I shut it, and took up another and another, till I had examined all.  Catherine’s library was select, and its state of dilapidation proved it to have been well used, though not altogether for a legitimate purpose: scarcely one chapter had escaped, a pen-and-ink commentary—at least the appearance of one—covering every morsel of blank that the printer had left.  Some were detached sentences; other parts took the form of a regular diary, scrawled in an unformed, childish hand.  At the top of an extra page (quite a treasure, probably, when first lighted on) I was greatly amused to behold an excellent caricature of my friend Joseph,—rudely, yet powerfully sketched.  An immediate interest kindled within me for the unknown Catherine, and I began forthwith to decipher her faded hieroglyphics.

‘An awful Sunday,’ commenced the paragraph beneath.  ‘I wish my father were back again.  Hindley is a detestable substitute—his conduct to Heathcliff is atrocious—H. and I are going to rebel—we took our initiatory step this evening.

‘All day had been flooding with rain; we could not go to church, so Joseph must needs get up a congregation in the garret; and, while Hindley and his wife basked downstairs before a comfortable fire—doing anything but reading their Bibles, I’ll answer for it—Heathcliff, myself, and the unhappy ploughboy were commanded to take our prayer-books, and mount: we were ranged in a row, on a sack of corn, groaning and shivering, and hoping that Joseph would shiver too, so that he might give us a short homily for his own sake.  A vain idea!  The service lasted precisely three hours; and yet my brother had the face to exclaim, when he saw us descending, “What, done already?”  On Sunday evenings we used to be permitted to play, if we did not make much noise; now a mere titter is sufficient to send us into corners.

‘“You forget you have a master here,” says the tyrant.  “I’ll demolish the first who puts me out of temper!  I insist on perfect sobriety and silence.  Oh, boy! was that you?  Frances darling, pull his hair as you go by: I heard him snap his fingers.”  Frances pulled his hair heartily, and then went and seated herself on her husband’s knee, and there they were, like two babies, kissing and talking nonsense by the hour—foolish palaver that we should be ashamed of.  We made ourselves as snug as our means allowed in the arch of the dresser.  I had just fastened our pinafores together, and hung them up for a curtain, when in comes Joseph, on an errand from the stables.  He tears down my handiwork, boxes my ears, and croaks:

‘“T’ maister nobbut just buried, and Sabbath not o’ered, und t’ sound o’ t’ gospel still i’ yer lugs, and ye darr be laiking!  Shame on ye! sit ye down, ill childer! there’s good books eneugh if ye’ll read ’em: sit ye down, and think o’ yer sowls!”

‘Saying this, he compelled us so to square our positions that we might receive from the far-off fire a dull ray to show us the text of the lumber he thrust upon us.  I could not bear the employment.  I took my dingy volume by the scroop, and hurled it into the dog-kennel, vowing I hated a good book.  Heathcliff kicked his to the same place.  Then there was a hubbub!

‘“Maister Hindley!” shouted our chaplain.  “Maister, coom hither!  Miss Cathy’s riven th’ back off ‘Th’ Helmet o’ Salvation,’ un’ Heathcliff’s pawsed his fit into t’ first part o’ ‘T’ Brooad Way to Destruction!’  It’s fair flaysome that ye let ’em go on this gait.  Ech! th’ owd man wad ha’ laced ’em properly—but he’s goan!”

‘Hindley hurried up from his paradise on the hearth, and seizing one of us by the collar, and the other by the arm, hurled both into the back-kitchen; where, Joseph asseverated, “owd Nick” would fetch us as sure as we were living: and, so comforted, we each sought a separate nook to await his advent.  I reached this book, and a pot of ink from a shelf, and pushed the house-door ajar to give me light, and I have got the time on with writing for twenty minutes; but my companion is impatient, and proposes that we should appropriate the dairywoman’s cloak, and have a scamper on the moors, under its shelter.  A pleasant suggestion—and then, if the surly old man come in, he may believe his prophecy verified—we cannot be damper, or colder, in the rain than we are here.’

* * * * * *

I suppose Catherine fulfilled her project, for the next sentence took up another subject: she waxed lachrymose.

‘How little did I dream that Hindley would ever make me cry so!’ she wrote.  ‘My head aches, till I cannot keep it on the pillow; and still I can’t give over.  Poor Heathcliff!  Hindley calls him a vagabond, and won’t let him sit with us, nor eat with us any more; and, he says, he and I must not play together, and threatens to turn him out of the house if we break his orders.  He has been blaming our father (how dared he?) for treating H. too liberally; and swears he will reduce him to his right place—’

* * * * * *

I began to nod drowsily over the dim page: my eye wandered from manuscript to print.  I saw a red ornamented title—‘Seventy Times Seven, and the First of the Seventy-First.’  A Pious Discourse delivered by the Reverend Jabez Branderham, in the Chapel of Gimmerden Sough.’  And while I was, half-consciously, worrying my brain to guess what Jabez Branderham would make of his subject, I sank back in bed, and fell asleep.  Alas, for the effects of bad tea and bad temper!  What else could it be that made me pass such a terrible night?  I don’t remember another that I can at all compare with it since I was capable of suffering.

I began to dream, almost before I ceased to be sensible of my locality.  I thought it was morning; and I had set out on my way home, with Joseph for a guide.  The snow lay yards deep in our road; and, as we floundered on, my companion wearied me with constant reproaches that I had not brought a pilgrim’s staff: telling me that I could never get into the house without one, and boastfully flourishing a heavy-headed cudgel, which I understood to be so denominated.  For a moment I considered it absurd that I should need such a weapon to gain admittance into my own residence.  Then a new idea flashed across me.  I was not going there: we were journeying to hear the famous Jabez Branderham preach, from the text—‘Seventy Times Seven;’ and either Joseph, the preacher, or I had committed the ‘First of the Seventy-First,’ and were to be publicly exposed and excommunicated.

We came to the chapel.  I have passed it really in my walks, twice or thrice; it lies in a hollow, between two hills: an elevated hollow, near a swamp, whose peaty moisture is said to answer all the purposes of embalming on the few corpses deposited there.  The roof has been kept whole hitherto; but as the clergyman’s stipend is only twenty pounds per annum, and a house with two rooms, threatening speedily to determine into one, no clergyman will undertake the duties of pastor: especially as it is currently reported that his flock would rather let him starve than increase the living by one penny from their own pockets.  However, in my dream, Jabez had a full and attentive congregation; and he preached—good God! what a sermon; divided into four hundred and ninety parts, each fully equal to an ordinary address from the pulpit, and each discussing a separate sin!  Where he searched for them, I cannot tell.  He had his private manner of interpreting the phrase, and it seemed necessary the brother should sin different sins on every occasion.  They were of the most curious character: odd transgressions that I never imagined previously.

Oh, how weary I grow.  How I writhed, and yawned, and nodded, and revived!  How I pinched and pricked myself, and rubbed my eyes, and stood up, and sat down again, and nudged Joseph to inform me if he would ever have done.  I was condemned to hear all out: finally, he reached the ‘First of the Seventy-First.’  At that crisis, a sudden inspiration descended on me; I was moved to rise and denounce Jabez Branderham as the sinner of the sin that no Christian need pardon.

‘Sir,’ I exclaimed, ‘sitting here within these four walls, at one stretch, I have endured and forgiven the four hundred and ninety heads of your discourse.  Seventy times seven times have I plucked up my hat and been about to depart—Seventy times seven times have you preposterously forced me to resume my seat.  The four hundred and ninety-first is too much.  Fellow-martyrs, have at him!  Drag him down, and crush him to atoms, that the place which knows him may know him no more!’

Thou art the Man!’ cried Jabez, after a solemn pause, leaning over his cushion.  ‘Seventy times seven times didst thou gapingly contort thy visage—seventy times seven did I take counsel with my soul—Lo, this is human weakness: this also may be absolved!  The First of the Seventy-First is come.  Brethren, execute upon him the judgment written.  Such honour have all His saints!’

With that concluding word, the whole assembly, exalting their pilgrim’s staves, rushed round me in a body; and I, having no weapon to raise in self-defence, commenced grappling with Joseph, my nearest and most ferocious assailant, for his.  In the confluence of the multitude, several clubs crossed; blows, aimed at me, fell on other sconces.  Presently the whole chapel resounded with rappings and counter rappings: every man’s hand was against his neighbour; and Branderham, unwilling to remain idle, poured forth his zeal in a shower of loud taps on the boards of the pulpit, which responded so smartly that, at last, to my unspeakable relief, they woke me.  And what was it that had suggested the tremendous tumult?  What had played Jabez’s part in the row?  Merely the branch of a fir-tree that touched my lattice as the blast wailed by, and rattled its dry cones against the panes!  I listened doubtingly an instant; detected the disturber, then turned and dozed, and dreamt again: if possible, still more disagreeably than before.

This time, I remembered I was lying in the oak closet, and I heard distinctly the gusty wind, and the driving of the snow; I heard, also, the fir bough repeat its teasing sound, and ascribed it to the right cause: but it annoyed me so much, that I resolved to silence it, if possible; and, I thought, I rose and endeavoured to unhasp the casement.  The hook was soldered into the staple: a circumstance observed by me when awake, but forgotten.  ‘I must stop it, nevertheless!’ I muttered, knocking my knuckles through the glass, and stretching an arm out to seize the importunate branch; instead of which, my fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand!  The intense horror of nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed, ‘Let me in—let me in!’  ‘Who are you?’ I asked, struggling, meanwhile, to disengage myself.  ‘Catherine Linton,’ it replied, shiveringly (why did I think of Linton?  I had read Earnshaw twenty times for Linton)—‘I’m come home: I’d lost my way on the moor!’  As it spoke, I discerned, obscurely, a child’s face looking through the window.  Terror made me cruel; and, finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes: still it wailed, ‘Let me in!’ and maintained its tenacious gripe, almost maddening me with fear.  ‘How can I!’ I said at length.  ‘Let me go, if you want me to let you in!’  The fingers relaxed, I snatched mine through the hole, hurriedly piled the books up in a pyramid against it, and stopped my ears to exclude the lamentable prayer.  I seemed to keep them closed above a quarter of an hour; yet, the instant I listened again, there was the doleful cry moaning on!  ‘Begone!’ I shouted.  ‘I’ll never let you in, not if you beg for twenty years.’  ‘It is twenty years,’ mourned the voice: ‘twenty years.  I’ve been a waif for twenty years!’  Thereat began a feeble scratching outside, and the pile of books moved as if thrust forward.  I tried to jump up; but could not stir a limb; and so yelled aloud, in a frenzy of fright.  To my confusion, I discovered the yell was not ideal: hasty footsteps approached my chamber door; somebody pushed it open, with a vigorous hand, and a light glimmered through the squares at the top of the bed.  I sat shuddering yet, and wiping the perspiration from my forehead: the intruder appeared to hesitate, and muttered to himself.  At last, he said, in a half-whisper, plainly not expecting an answer, ‘Is any one here?’  I considered it best to confess my presence; for I knew Heathcliff’s accents, and feared he might search further, if I kept quiet.  With this intention, I turned and opened the panels.  I shall not soon forget the effect my action produced.

Heathcliff stood near the entrance, in his shirt and trousers; with a candle dripping over his fingers, and his face as white as the wall behind him.  The first creak of the oak startled him like an electric shock: the light leaped from his hold to a distance of some feet, and his agitation was so extreme, that he could hardly pick it up.

‘It is only your guest, sir,’ I called out, desirous to spare him the humiliation of exposing his cowardice further.  ‘I had the misfortune to scream in my sleep, owing to a frightful nightmare.  I’m sorry I disturbed you.’

‘Oh, God confound you, Mr. Lockwood!  I wish you were at the—’ commenced my host, setting the candle on a chair, because he found it impossible to hold it steady.  ‘And who showed you up into this room?’ he continued, crushing his nails into his palms, and grinding his teeth to subdue the maxillary convulsions.  ‘Who was it?  I’ve a good mind to turn them out of the house this moment?’

‘It was your servant Zillah,’ I replied, flinging myself on to the floor, and rapidly resuming my garments.  ‘I should not care if you did, Mr. Heathcliff; she richly deserves it.  I suppose that she wanted to get another proof that the place was haunted, at my expense.  Well, it is—swarming with ghosts and goblins!  You have reason in shutting it up, I assure you.  No one will thank you for a doze in such a den!’

‘What do you mean?’ asked Heathcliff, ‘and what are you doing?  Lie down and finish out the night, since you are here; but, for heaven’s sake! don’t repeat that horrid noise: nothing could excuse it, unless you were having your throat cut!’

‘If the little fiend had got in at the window, she probably would have strangled me!’ I returned.  ‘I’m not going to endure the persecutions of your hospitable ancestors again.  Was not the Reverend Jabez Branderham akin to you on the mother’s side?  And that minx, Catherine Linton, or Earnshaw, or however she was called—she must have been a changeling—wicked little soul!  She told me she had been walking the earth these twenty years: a just punishment for her mortal transgressions, I’ve no doubt!’

Scarcely were these words uttered when I recollected the association of Heathcliff’s with Catherine’s name in the book, which had completely slipped from my memory, till thus awakened.  I blushed at my inconsideration: but, without showing further consciousness of the offence, I hastened to add—‘The truth is, sir, I passed the first part of the night in—’  Here I stopped afresh—I was about to say ‘perusing those old volumes,’ then it would have revealed my knowledge of their written, as well as their printed, contents; so, correcting myself, I went on—‘in spelling over the name scratched on that window-ledge.  A monotonous occupation, calculated to set me asleep, like counting, or—’

‘What can you mean by talking in this way to me!’ thundered Heathcliff with savage vehemence.  ‘How—how dare you, under my roof?—God! he’s mad to speak so!’  And he struck his forehead with rage.

I did not know whether to resent this language or pursue my explanation; but he seemed so powerfully affected that I took pity and proceeded with my dreams; affirming I had never heard the appellation of ‘Catherine Linton’ before, but reading it often over produced an impression which personified itself when I had no longer my imagination under control.  Heathcliff gradually fell back into the shelter of the bed, as I spoke; finally sitting down almost concealed behind it.  I guessed, however, by his irregular and intercepted breathing, that he struggled to vanquish an excess of violent emotion.  Not liking to show him that I had heard the conflict, I continued my toilette rather noisily, looked at my watch, and soliloquised on the length of the night: ‘Not three o’clock yet!  I could have taken oath it had been six.  Time stagnates here: we must surely have retired to rest at eight!’

‘Always at nine in winter, and rise at four,’ said my host, suppressing a groan: and, as I fancied, by the motion of his arm’s shadow, dashing a tear from his eyes.  ‘Mr. Lockwood,’ he added, ‘you may go into my room: you’ll only be in the way, coming down-stairs so early: and your childish outcry has sent sleep to the devil for me.’

‘And for me, too,’ I replied.  ‘I’ll walk in the yard till daylight, and then I’ll be off; and you need not dread a repetition of my intrusion.  I’m now quite cured of seeking pleasure in society, be it country or town.  A sensible man ought to find sufficient company in himself.’

‘Delightful company!’ muttered Heathcliff.  ‘Take the candle, and go where you please.  I shall join you directly.  Keep out of the yard, though, the dogs are unchained; and the house—Juno mounts sentinel there, and—nay, you can only ramble about the steps and passages.  But, away with you!  I’ll come in two minutes!’

I obeyed, so far as to quit the chamber; when, ignorant where the narrow lobbies led, I stood still, and was witness, involuntarily, to a piece of superstition on the part of my landlord which belied, oddly, his apparent sense.  He got on to the bed, and wrenched open the lattice, bursting, as he pulled at it, into an uncontrollable passion of tears.  ‘Come in! come in!’ he sobbed.  ‘Cathy, do come.  Oh, do—once more!  Oh! my heart’s darling! hear me this time, Catherine, at last!’  The spectre showed a spectre’s ordinary caprice: it gave no sign of being; but the snow and wind whirled wildly through, even reaching my station, and blowing out the light.

There was such anguish in the gush of grief that accompanied this raving, that my compassion made me overlook its folly, and I drew off, half angry to have listened at all, and vexed at having related my ridiculous nightmare, since it produced that agony; though why was beyond my comprehension.  I descended cautiously to the lower regions, and landed in the back-kitchen, where a gleam of fire, raked compactly together, enabled me to rekindle my candle.  Nothing was stirring except a brindled, grey cat, which crept from the ashes, and saluted me with a querulous mew.

Two benches, shaped in sections of a circle, nearly enclosed the hearth; on one of these I stretched myself, and Grimalkin mounted the other.  We were both of us nodding ere any one invaded our retreat, and then it was Joseph, shuffling down a wooden ladder that vanished in the roof, through a trap: the ascent to his garret, I suppose.  He cast a sinister look at the little flame which I had enticed to play between the ribs, swept the cat from its elevation, and bestowing himself in the vacancy, commenced the operation of stuffing a three-inch pipe with tobacco.  My presence in his sanctum was evidently esteemed a piece of impudence too shameful for remark: he silently applied the tube to his lips, folded his arms, and puffed away.  I let him enjoy the luxury unannoyed; and after sucking out his last wreath, and heaving a profound sigh, he got up, and departed as solemnly as he came.

A more elastic footstep entered next; and now I opened my mouth for a ‘good-morning,’ but closed it again, the salutation unachieved; for Hareton Earnshaw was performing his orison sotto voce, in a series of curses directed against every object he touched, while he rummaged a corner for a spade or shovel to dig through the drifts.  He glanced over the back of the bench, dilating his nostrils, and thought as little of exchanging civilities with me as with my companion the cat.  I guessed, by his preparations, that egress was allowed, and, leaving my hard couch, made a movement to follow him.  He noticed this, and thrust at an inner door with the end of his spade, intimating by an inarticulate sound that there was the place where I must go, if I changed my locality.

It opened into the house, where the females were already astir; Zillah urging flakes of flame up the chimney with a colossal bellows; and Mrs. Heathcliff, kneeling on the hearth, reading a book by the aid of the blaze.  She held her hand interposed between the furnace-heat and her eyes, and seemed absorbed in her occupation; desisting from it only to chide the servant for covering her with sparks, or to push away a dog, now and then, that snoozled its nose overforwardly into her face.  I was surprised to see Heathcliff there also.  He stood by the fire, his back towards me, just finishing a stormy scene with poor Zillah; who ever and anon interrupted her labour to pluck up the corner of her apron, and heave an indignant groan.

‘And you, you worthless—’ he broke out as I entered, turning to his daughter-in-law, and employing an epithet as harmless as duck, or sheep, but generally represented by a dash—.  ‘There you are, at your idle tricks again!  The rest of them do earn their bread—you live on my charity!  Put your trash away, and find something to do.  You shall pay me for the plague of having you eternally in my sight—do you hear, damnable jade?’

‘I’ll put my trash away, because you can make me if I refuse,’ answered the young lady, closing her book, and throwing it on a chair.  ‘But I’ll not do anything, though you should swear your tongue out, except what I please!’

Heathcliff lifted his hand, and the speaker sprang to a safer distance, obviously acquainted with its weight.  Having no desire to be entertained by a cat-and-dog combat, I stepped forward briskly, as if eager to partake the warmth of the hearth, and innocent of any knowledge of the interrupted dispute.  Each had enough decorum to suspend further hostilities: Heathcliff placed his fists, out of temptation, in his pockets; Mrs. Heathcliff curled her lip, and walked to a seat far off, where she kept her word by playing the part of a statue during the remainder of my stay.  That was not long.  I declined joining their breakfast, and, at the first gleam of dawn, took an opportunity of escaping into the free air, now clear, and still, and cold as impalpable ice.

My landlord halloed for me to stop ere I reached the bottom of the garden, and offered to accompany me across the moor.  It was well he did, for the whole hill-back was one billowy, white ocean; the swells and falls not indicating corresponding rises and depressions in the ground: many pits, at least, were filled to a level; and entire ranges of mounds, the refuse of the quarries, blotted from the chart which my yesterday’s walk left pictured in my mind.  I had remarked on one side of the road, at intervals of six or seven yards, a line of upright stones, continued through the whole length of the barren: these were erected and daubed with lime on purpose to serve as guides in the dark, and also when a fall, like the present, confounded the deep swamps on either hand with the firmer path: but, excepting a dirty dot pointing up here and there, all traces of their existence had vanished: and my companion found it necessary to warn me frequently to steer to the right or left, when I imagined I was following, correctly, the windings of the road.

We exchanged little conversation, and he halted at the entrance of Thrushcross Park, saying, I could make no error there.  Our adieux were limited to a hasty bow, and then I pushed forward, trusting to my own resources; for the porter’s lodge is untenanted as yet.  The distance from the gate to the grange is two miles; I believe I managed to make it four, what with losing myself among the trees, and sinking up to the neck in snow: a predicament which only those who have experienced it can appreciate.  At any rate, whatever were my wanderings, the clock chimed twelve as I entered the house; and that gave exactly an hour for every mile of the usual way from Wuthering Heights.

My human fixture and her satellites rushed to welcome me; exclaiming, tumultuously, they had completely given me up: everybody conjectured that I perished last night; and they were wondering how they must set about the search for my remains.  I bid them be quiet, now that they saw me returned, and, benumbed to my very heart, I dragged up-stairs; whence, after putting on dry clothes, and pacing to and fro thirty or forty minutes, to restore the animal heat, I adjourned to my study, feeble as a kitten: almost too much so to enjoy the cheerful fire and smoking coffee which the servant had prepared for my refreshment.

 

CHAPTER IV

What vain weathercocks we are!  I, who had determined to hold myself independent of all social intercourse, and thanked my stars that, at length, I had lighted on a spot where it was next to impracticable—I, weak wretch, after maintaining till dusk a struggle with low spirits and solitude, was finally compelled to strike my colours; and under pretence of gaining information concerning the necessities of my establishment, I desired Mrs. Dean, when she brought in supper, to sit down while I ate it; hoping sincerely she would prove a regular gossip, and either rouse me to animation or lull me to sleep by her talk.

‘You have lived here a considerable time,’ I commenced; ‘did you not say sixteen years?’

‘Eighteen, sir: I came when the mistress was married, to wait on her; after she died, the master retained me for his housekeeper.’

‘Indeed.’

There ensued a pause.  She was not a gossip, I feared; unless about her own affairs, and those could hardly interest me.  However, having studied for an interval, with a fist on either knee, and a cloud of meditation over her ruddy countenance, she ejaculated—‘Ah, times are greatly changed since then!’

‘Yes,’ I remarked, ‘you’ve seen a good many alterations, I suppose?’

‘I have: and troubles too,’ she said.

‘Oh, I’ll turn the talk on my landlord’s family!’ I thought to myself.  ‘A good subject to start!  And that pretty girl-widow, I should like to know her history: whether she be a native of the country, or, as is more probable, an exotic that the surly indigenae will not recognise for kin.’  With this intention I asked Mrs. Dean why Heathcliff let Thrushcross Grange, and preferred living in a situation and residence so much inferior.  ‘Is he not rich enough to keep the estate in good order?’ I inquired.

‘Rich, sir!’ she returned.  ‘He has nobody knows what money, and every year it increases.  Yes, yes, he’s rich enough to live in a finer house than this: but he’s very near—close-handed; and, if he had meant to flit to Thrushcross Grange, as soon as he heard of a good tenant he could not have borne to miss the chance of getting a few hundreds more.  It is strange people should be so greedy, when they are alone in the world!’

‘He had a son, it seems?’

‘Yes, he had one—he is dead.’

‘And that young lady, Mrs. Heathcliff, is his widow?’

‘Yes.’

‘Where did she come from originally?’

‘Why, sir, she is my late master’s daughter: Catherine Linton was her maiden name.  I nursed her, poor thing!  I did wish Mr. Heathcliff would remove here, and then we might have been together again.’

‘What!  Catherine Linton?’ I exclaimed, astonished.  But a minute’s reflection convinced me it was not my ghostly Catherine.  Then,’ I continued, ‘my predecessor’s name was Linton?’

‘It was.’

‘And who is that Earnshaw: Hareton Earnshaw, who lives with Mr. Heathcliff?  Are they relations?’

‘No; he is the late Mrs. Linton’s nephew.’

‘The young lady’s cousin, then?’

‘Yes; and her husband was her cousin also: one on the mother’s, the other on the father’s side: Heathcliff married Mr. Linton’s sister.’

‘I see the house at Wuthering Heights has “Earnshaw” carved over the front door.  Are they an old family?’

‘Very old, sir; and Hareton is the last of them, as our Miss Cathy is of us—I mean, of the Lintons.  Have you been to Wuthering Heights?  I beg pardon for asking; but I should like to hear how she is!’

‘Mrs. Heathcliff? she looked very well, and very handsome; yet, I think, not very happy.’

‘Oh dear, I don’t wonder!  And how did you like the master?’

‘A rough fellow, rather, Mrs. Dean.  Is not that his character?

‘Rough as a saw-edge, and hard as whinstone!  The less you meddle with him the better.’

‘He must have had some ups and downs in life to make him such a churl.  Do you know anything of his history?’

‘It’s a cuckoo’s, sir—I know all about it: except where he was born, and who were his parents, and how he got his money at first.  And Hareton has been cast out like an unfledged dunnock!  The unfortunate lad is the only one in all this parish that does not guess how he has been cheated.’

‘Well, Mrs. Dean, it will be a charitable deed to tell me something of my neighbours: I feel I shall not rest if I go to bed; so be good enough to sit and chat an hour.’

‘Oh, certainly, sir!  I’ll just fetch a little sewing, and then I’ll sit as long as you please.  But you’ve caught cold: I saw you shivering, and you must have some gruel to drive it out.’

The worthy woman bustled off, and I crouched nearer the fire; my head felt hot, and the rest of me chill: moreover, I was excited, almost to a pitch of foolishness, through my nerves and brain.  This caused me to feel, not uncomfortable, but rather fearful (as I am still) of serious effects from the incidents of to-day and yesterday.  She returned presently, bringing a smoking basin and a basket of work; and, having placed the former on the hob, drew in her seat, evidently pleased to find me so companionable.

Before I came to live here, she commenced—waiting no farther invitation to her story—I was almost always at Wuthering Heights; because my mother had nursed Mr. Hindley Earnshaw, that was Hareton’s father, and I got used to playing with the children: I ran errands too, and helped to make hay, and hung about the farm ready for anything that anybody would set me to.  One fine summer morning—it was the beginning of harvest, I remember—Mr. Earnshaw, the old master, came down-stairs, dressed for a journey; and, after he had told Joseph what was to be done during the day, he turned to Hindley, and Cathy, and me—for I sat eating my porridge with them—and he said, speaking to his son, ‘Now, my bonny man, I’m going to Liverpool to-day, what shall I bring you?  You may choose what you like: only let it be little, for I shall walk there and back: sixty miles each way, that is a long spell!’  Hindley named a fiddle, and then he asked Miss Cathy; she was hardly six years old, but she could ride any horse in the stable, and she chose a whip.  He did not forget me; for he had a kind heart, though he was rather severe sometimes.  He promised to bring me a pocketful of apples and pears, and then he kissed his children, said good-bye, and set off.

It seemed a long while to us all—the three days of his absence—and often did little Cathy ask when he would be home.  Mrs. Earnshaw expected him by supper-time on the third evening, and she put the meal off hour after hour; there were no signs of his coming, however, and at last the children got tired of running down to the gate to look.  Then it grew dark; she would have had them to bed, but they begged sadly to be allowed to stay up; and, just about eleven o’clock, the door-latch was raised quietly, and in stepped the master.  He threw himself into a chair, laughing and groaning, and bid them all stand off, for he was nearly killed—he would not have such another walk for the three kingdoms.

‘And at the end of it to be flighted to death!’ he said, opening his great-coat, which he held bundled up in his arms.  ‘See here, wife!  I was never so beaten with anything in my life: but you must e’en take it as a gift of God; though it’s as dark almost as if it came from the devil.’

We crowded round, and over Miss Cathy’s head I had a peep at a dirty, ragged, black-haired child; big enough both to walk and talk: indeed, its face looked older than Catherine’s; yet when it was set on its feet, it only stared round, and repeated over and over again some gibberish that nobody could understand.  I was frightened, and Mrs. Earnshaw was ready to fling it out of doors: she did fly up, asking how he could fashion to bring that gipsy brat into the house, when they had their own bairns to feed and fend for?  What he meant to do with it, and whether he were mad?  The master tried to explain the matter; but he was really half dead with fatigue, and all that I could make out, amongst her scolding, was a tale of his seeing it starving, and houseless, and as good as dumb, in the streets of Liverpool, where he picked it up and inquired for its owner.  Not a soul knew to whom it belonged, he said; and his money and time being both limited, he thought it better to take it home with him at once, than run into vain expenses there: because he was determined he would not leave it as he found it.  Well, the conclusion was, that my mistress grumbled herself calm; and Mr. Earnshaw told me to wash it, and give it clean things, and let it sleep with the children.

Hindley and Cathy contented themselves with looking and listening till peace was restored: then, both began searching their father’s pockets for the presents he had promised them.  The former was a boy of fourteen, but when he drew out what had been a fiddle, crushed to morsels in the great-coat, he blubbered aloud; and Cathy, when she learned the master had lost her whip in attending on the stranger, showed her humour by grinning and spitting at the stupid little thing; earning for her pains a sound blow from her father, to teach her cleaner manners.  They entirely refused to have it in bed with them, or even in their room; and I had no more sense, so I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it might be gone on the morrow.  By chance, or else attracted by hearing his voice, it crept to Mr. Earnshaw’s door, and there he found it on quitting his chamber.  Inquiries were made as to how it got there; I was obliged to confess, and in recompense for my cowardice and inhumanity was sent out of the house.

This was Heathcliff’s first introduction to the family.  On coming back a few days afterwards (for I did not consider my banishment perpetual), I found they had christened him ‘Heathcliff’: it was the name of a son who died in childhood, and it has served him ever since, both for Christian and surname.  Miss Cathy and he were now very thick; but Hindley hated him: and to say the truth I did the same; and we plagued and went on with him shamefully: for I wasn’t reasonable enough to feel my injustice, and the mistress never put in a word on his behalf when she saw him wronged.

He seemed a sullen, patient child; hardened, perhaps, to ill-treatment: he would stand Hindley’s blows without winking or shedding a tear, and my pinches moved him only to draw in a breath and open his eyes, as if he had hurt himself by accident, and nobody was to blame.  This endurance made old Earnshaw furious, when he discovered his son persecuting the poor fatherless child, as he called him.  He took to Heathcliff strangely, believing all he said (for that matter, he said precious little, and generally the truth), and petting him up far above Cathy, who was too mischievous and wayward for a favourite.

So, from the very beginning, he bred bad feeling in the house; and at Mrs. Earnshaw’s death, which happened in less than two years after, the young master had learned to regard his father as an oppressor rather than a friend, and Heathcliff as a usurper of his parent’s affections and his privileges; and he grew bitter with brooding over these injuries.  I sympathised a while; but when the children fell ill of the measles, and I had to tend them, and take on me the cares of a woman at once, I changed my idea.  Heathcliff was dangerously sick; and while he lay at the worst he would have me constantly by his pillow: I suppose he felt I did a good deal for him, and he hadn’t wit to guess that I was compelled to do it.  However, I will say this, he was the quietest child that ever nurse watched over.  The difference between him and the others forced me to be less partial.  Cathy and her brother harassed me terribly: he was as uncomplaining as a lamb; though hardness, not gentleness, made him give little trouble.

He got through, and the doctor affirmed it was in a great measure owing to me, and praised me for my care.  I was vain of his commendations, and softened towards the being by whose means I earned them, and thus Hindley lost his last ally: still I couldn’t dote on Heathcliff, and I wondered often what my master saw to admire so much in the sullen boy; who never, to my recollection, repaid his indulgence by any sign of gratitude.  He was not insolent to his benefactor, he was simply insensible; though knowing perfectly the hold he had on his heart, and conscious he had only to speak and all the house would be obliged to bend to his wishes.  As an instance, I remember Mr. Earnshaw once bought a couple of colts at the parish fair, and gave the lads each one.  Heathcliff took the handsomest, but it soon fell lame, and when he discovered it, he said to Hindley—

‘You must exchange horses with me: I don’t like mine; and if you won’t I shall tell your father of the three thrashings you’ve given me this week, and show him my arm, which is black to the shoulder.’  Hindley put out his tongue, and cuffed him over the ears.  ‘You’d better do it at once,’ he persisted, escaping to the porch (they were in the stable): ‘you will have to: and if I speak of these blows, you’ll get them again with interest.’  ‘Off, dog!’ cried Hindley, threatening him with an iron weight used for weighing potatoes and hay.  ‘Throw it,’ he replied, standing still, ‘and then I’ll tell how you boasted that you would turn me out of doors as soon as he died, and see whether he will not turn you out directly.’  Hindley threw it, hitting him on the breast, and down he fell, but staggered up immediately, breathless and white; and, had not I prevented it, he would have gone just so to the master, and got full revenge by letting his condition plead for him, intimating who had caused it.  ‘Take my colt, Gipsy, then!’ said young Earnshaw.  ‘And I pray that he may break your neck: take him, and be damned, you beggarly interloper! and wheedle my father out of all he has: only afterwards show him what you are, imp of Satan.—And take that, I hope he’ll kick out your brains!’

Heathcliff had gone to loose the beast, and shift it to his own stall; he was passing behind it, when Hindley finished his speech by knocking him under its feet, and without stopping to examine whether his hopes were fulfilled, ran away as fast as he could.  I was surprised to witness how coolly the child gathered himself up, and went on with his intention; exchanging saddles and all, and then sitting down on a bundle of hay to overcome the qualm which the violent blow occasioned, before he entered the house.  I persuaded him easily to let me lay the blame of his bruises on the horse: he minded little what tale was told since he had what he wanted.  He complained so seldom, indeed, of such stirs as these, that I really thought him not vindictive: I was deceived completely, as you will hear.

 

CHAPTER V

In the course of time Mr. Earnshaw began to fail.  He had been active and healthy, yet his strength left him suddenly; and when he was confined to the chimney-corner he grew grievously irritable.  A nothing vexed him; and suspected slights of his authority nearly threw him into fits.  This was especially to be remarked if any one attempted to impose upon, or domineer over, his favourite: he was painfully jealous lest a word should be spoken amiss to him; seeming to have got into his head the notion that, because he liked Heathcliff, all hated, and longed to do him an ill-turn.  It was a disadvantage to the lad; for the kinder among us did not wish to fret the master, so we humoured his partiality; and that humouring was rich nourishment to the child’s pride and black tempers.  Still it became in a manner necessary; twice, or thrice, Hindley’s manifestation of scorn, while his father was near, roused the old man to a fury: he seized his stick to strike him, and shook with rage that he could not do it.

At last, our curate (we had a curate then who made the living answer by teaching the little Lintons and Earnshaws, and farming his bit of land himself) advised that the young man should be sent to college; and Mr. Earnshaw agreed, though with a heavy spirit, for he said—‘Hindley was nought, and would never thrive as where he wandered.’

I hoped heartily we should have peace now.  It hurt me to think the master should be made uncomfortable by his own good deed.  I fancied the discontent of age and disease arose from his family disagreements; as he would have it that it did: really, you know, sir, it was in his sinking frame.  We might have got on tolerably, notwithstanding, but for two people—Miss Cathy, and Joseph, the servant: you saw him, I daresay, up yonder.  He was, and is yet most likely, the wearisomest self-righteous Pharisee that ever ransacked a Bible to rake the promises to himself and fling the curses to his neighbours.  By his knack of sermonising and pious discoursing, he contrived to make a great impression on Mr. Earnshaw; and the more feeble the master became, the more influence he gained.  He was relentless in worrying him about his soul’s concerns, and about ruling his children rigidly.  He encouraged him to regard Hindley as a reprobate; and, night after night, he regularly grumbled out a long string of tales against Heathcliff and Catherine: always minding to flatter Earnshaw’s weakness by heaping the heaviest blame on the latter.

Certainly she had ways with her such as I never saw a child take up before; and she put all of us past our patience fifty times and oftener in a day: from the hour she came down-stairs till the hour she went to bed, we had not a minute’s security that she wouldn’t be in mischief.  Her spirits were always at high-water mark, her tongue always going—singing, laughing, and plaguing everybody who would not do the same.  A wild, wicked slip she was—but she had the bonniest eye, the sweetest smile, and lightest foot in the parish: and, after all, I believe she meant no harm; for when once she made you cry in good earnest, it seldom happened that she would not keep you company, and oblige you to be quiet that you might comfort her.  She was much too fond of Heathcliff.  The greatest punishment we could invent for her was to keep her separate from him: yet she got chided more than any of us on his account.  In play, she liked exceedingly to act the little mistress; using her hands freely, and commanding her companions: she did so to me, but I would not bear slapping and ordering; and so I let her know.

Now, Mr. Earnshaw did not understand jokes from his children: he had always been strict and grave with them; and Catherine, on her part, had no idea why her father should be crosser and less patient in his ailing condition than he was in his prime.  His peevish reproofs wakened in her a naughty delight to provoke him: she was never so happy as when we were all scolding her at once, and she defying us with her bold, saucy look, and her ready words; turning Joseph’s religious curses into ridicule, baiting me, and doing just what her father hated most—showing how her pretended insolence, which he thought real, had more power over Heathcliff than his kindness: how the boy would do her bidding in anything, and his only when it suited his own inclination.  After behaving as badly as possible all day, she sometimes came fondling to make it up at night.  ‘Nay, Cathy,’ the old man would say, ‘I cannot love thee, thou’rt worse than thy brother.  Go, say thy prayers, child, and ask God’s pardon.  I doubt thy mother and I must rue that we ever reared thee!’  That made her cry, at first; and then being repulsed continually hardened her, and she laughed if I told her to say she was sorry for her faults, and beg to be forgiven.

But the hour came, at last, that ended Mr. Earnshaw’s troubles on earth.  He died quietly in his chair one October evening, seated by the fire-side.  A high wind blustered round the house, and roared in the chimney: it sounded wild and stormy, yet it was not cold, and we were all together—I, a little removed from the hearth, busy at my knitting, and Joseph reading his Bible near the table (for the servants generally sat in the house then, after their work was done).  Miss Cathy had been sick, and that made her still; she leant against her father’s knee, and Heathcliff was lying on the floor with his head in her lap.  I remember the master, before he fell into a doze, stroking her bonny hair—it pleased him rarely to see her gentle—and saying, ‘Why canst thou not always be a good lass, Cathy?’  And she turned her face up to his, and laughed, and answered, ‘Why cannot you always be a good man, father?’  But as soon as she saw him vexed again, she kissed his hand, and said she would sing him to sleep.  She began singing very low, till his fingers dropped from hers, and his head sank on his breast.  Then I told her to hush, and not stir, for fear she should wake him.  We all kept as mute as mice a full half-hour, and should have done so longer, only Joseph, having finished his chapter, got up and said that he must rouse the master for prayers and bed.  He stepped forward, and called him by name, and touched his shoulder; but he would not move: so he took the candle and looked at him.  I thought there was something wrong as he set down the light; and seizing the children each by an arm, whispered them to ‘frame up-stairs, and make little din—they might pray alone that evening—he had summut to do.’

‘I shall bid father good-night first,’ said Catherine, putting her arms round his neck, before we could hinder her.  The poor thing discovered her loss directly—she screamed out—‘Oh, he’s dead, Heathcliff! he’s dead!’  And they both set up a heart-breaking cry.

I joined my wail to theirs, loud and bitter; but Joseph asked what we could be thinking of to roar in that way over a saint in heaven.  He told me to put on my cloak and run to Gimmerton for the doctor and the parson.  I could not guess the use that either would be of, then.  However, I went, through wind and rain, and brought one, the doctor, back with me; the other said he would come in the morning.  Leaving Joseph to explain matters, I ran to the children’s room: their door was ajar, I saw they had never lain down, though it was past midnight; but they were calmer, and did not need me to console them.  The little souls were comforting each other with better thoughts than I could have hit on: no parson in the world ever pictured heaven so beautifully as they did, in their innocent talk; and, while I sobbed and listened, I could not help wishing we were all there safe together.

CHAPTER VI

Mr. Hindley came home to the funeral; and—a thing that amazed us, and set the neighbours gossiping right and left—he brought a wife with him.  What she was, and where she was born, he never informed us: probably, she had neither money nor name to recommend her, or he would scarcely have kept the union from his father.

She was not one that would have disturbed the house much on her own account.  Every object she saw, the moment she crossed the threshold, appeared to delight her; and every circumstance that took place about her: except the preparing for the burial, and the presence of the mourners.  I thought she was half silly, from her behaviour while that went on: she ran into her chamber, and made me come with her, though I should have been dressing the children: and there she sat shivering and clasping her hands, and asking repeatedly—‘Are they gone yet?’  Then she began describing with hysterical emotion the effect it produced on her to see black; and started, and trembled, and, at last, fell a-weeping—and when I asked what was the matter, answered, she didn’t know; but she felt so afraid of dying!  I imagined her as little likely to die as myself.  She was rather thin, but young, and fresh-complexioned, and her eyes sparkled as bright as diamonds.  I did remark, to be sure, that mounting the stairs made her breathe very quick; that the least sudden noise set her all in a quiver, and that she coughed troublesomely sometimes: but I knew nothing of what these symptoms portended, and had no impulse to sympathise with her.  We don’t in general take to foreigners here, Mr. Lockwood, unless they take to us first.

Young Earnshaw was altered considerably in the three years of his absence.  He had grown sparer, and lost his colour, and spoke and dressed quite differently; and, on the very day of his return, he told Joseph and me we must thenceforth quarter ourselves in the back-kitchen, and leave the house for him.  Indeed, he would have carpeted and papered a small spare room for a parlour; but his wife expressed such pleasure at the white floor and huge glowing fireplace, at the pewter dishes and delf-case, and dog-kennel, and the wide space there was to move about in where they usually sat, that he thought it unnecessary to her comfort, and so dropped the intention.

She expressed pleasure, too, at finding a sister among her new acquaintance; and she prattled to Catherine, and kissed her, and ran about with her, and gave her quantities of presents, at the beginning.  Her affection tired very soon, however, and when she grew peevish, Hindley became tyrannical.  A few words from her, evincing a dislike to Heathcliff, were enough to rouse in him all his old hatred of the boy.  He drove him from their company to the servants, deprived him of the instructions of the curate, and insisted that he should labour out of doors instead; compelling him to do so as hard as any other lad on the farm.

Heathcliff bore his degradation pretty well at first, because Cathy taught him what she learnt, and worked or played with him in the fields.  They both promised fair to grow up as rude as savages; the young master being entirely negligent how they behaved, and what they did, so they kept clear of him.  He would not even have seen after their going to church on Sundays, only Joseph and the curate reprimanded his carelessness when they absented themselves; and that reminded him to order Heathcliff a flogging, and Catherine a fast from dinner or supper.  But it was one of their chief amusements to run away to the moors in the morning and remain there all day, and the after punishment grew a mere thing to laugh at.  The curate might set as many chapters as he pleased for Catherine to get by heart, and Joseph might thrash Heathcliff till his arm ached; they forgot everything the minute they were together again: at least the minute they had contrived some naughty plan of revenge; and many a time I’ve cried to myself to watch them growing more reckless daily, and I not daring to speak a syllable, for fear of losing the small power I still retained over the unfriended creatures.  One Sunday evening, it chanced that they were banished from the sitting-room, for making a noise, or a light offence of the kind; and when I went to call them to supper, I could discover them nowhere.  We searched the house, above and below, and the yard and stables; they were invisible: and, at last, Hindley in a passion told us to bolt the doors, and swore nobody should let them in that night.  The household went to bed; and I, too, anxious to lie down, opened my lattice and put my head out to hearken, though it rained: determined to admit them in spite of the prohibition, should they return.  In a while, I distinguished steps coming up the road, and the light of a lantern glimmered through the gate.  I threw a shawl over my head and ran to prevent them from waking Mr. Earnshaw by knocking.  There was Heathcliff, by himself: it gave me a start to see him alone.

‘Where is Miss Catherine?’ I cried hurriedly.  ‘No accident, I hope?’  ‘At Thrushcross Grange,’ he answered; ‘and I would have been there too, but they had not the manners to ask me to stay.’  ‘Well, you will catch it!’ I said: ‘you’ll never be content till you’re sent about your business.  What in the world led you wandering to Thrushcross Grange?’  ‘Let me get off my wet clothes, and I’ll tell you all about it, Nelly,’ he replied.  I bid him beware of rousing the master, and while he undressed and I waited to put out the candle, he continued—‘Cathy and I escaped from the wash-house to have a ramble at liberty, and getting a glimpse of the Grange lights, we thought we would just go and see whether the Lintons passed their Sunday evenings standing shivering in corners, while their father and mother sat eating and drinking, and singing and laughing, and burning their eyes out before the fire.  Do you think they do?  Or reading sermons, and being catechised by their manservant, and set to learn a column of Scripture names, if they don’t answer properly?’  ‘Probably not,’ I responded.  ‘They are good children, no doubt, and don’t deserve the treatment you receive, for your bad conduct.’  ‘Don’t cant, Nelly,’ he said: ‘nonsense!  We ran from the top of the Heights to the park, without stopping—Catherine completely beaten in the race, because she was barefoot.  You’ll have to seek for her shoes in the bog to-morrow.  We crept through a broken hedge, groped our way up the path, and planted ourselves on a flower-plot under the drawing-room window.  The light came from thence; they had not put up the shutters, and the curtains were only half closed.  Both of us were able to look in by standing on the basement, and clinging to the ledge, and we saw—ah! it was beautiful—a splendid place carpeted with crimson, and crimson-covered chairs and tables, and a pure white ceiling bordered by gold, a shower of glass-drops hanging in silver chains from the centre, and shimmering with little soft tapers.  Old Mr. and Mrs. Linton were not there; Edgar and his sisters had it entirely to themselves.  Shouldn’t they have been happy?  We should have thought ourselves in heaven!  And now, guess what your good children were doing?  Isabella—I believe she is eleven, a year younger than Cathy—lay screaming at the farther end of the room, shrieking as if witches were running red-hot needles into her.  Edgar stood on the hearth weeping silently, and in the middle of the table sat a little dog, shaking its paw and yelping; which, from their mutual accusations, we understood they had nearly pulled in two between them.  The idiots!  That was their pleasure! to quarrel who should hold a heap of warm hair, and each begin to cry because both, after struggling to get it, refused to take it.  We laughed outright at the petted things; we did despise them!  When would you catch me wishing to have what Catherine wanted? or find us by ourselves, seeking entertainment in yelling, and sobbing, and rolling on the ground, divided by the whole room?  I’d not exchange, for a thousand lives, my condition here, for Edgar Linton’s at Thrushcross Grange—not if I might have the privilege of flinging Joseph off the highest gable, and painting the house-front with Hindley’s blood!’

‘Hush, hush!’ I interrupted.  ‘Still you have not told me, Heathcliff, how Catherine is left behind?’

‘I told you we laughed,’ he answered.  ‘The Lintons heard us, and with one accord they shot like arrows to the door; there was silence, and then a cry, “Oh, mamma, mamma!  Oh, papa!  Oh, mamma, come here.  Oh, papa, oh!”  They really did howl out something in that way.  We made frightful noises to terrify them still more, and then we dropped off the ledge, because somebody was drawing the bars, and we felt we had better flee.  I had Cathy by the hand, and was urging her on, when all at once she fell down.  “Run, Heathcliff, run!” she whispered.  “They have let the bull-dog loose, and he holds me!”  The devil had seized her ankle, Nelly: I heard his abominable snorting.  She did not yell out—no! she would have scorned to do it, if she had been spitted on the horns of a mad cow.  I did, though: I vociferated curses enough to annihilate any fiend in Christendom; and I got a stone and thrust it between his jaws, and tried with all my might to cram it down his throat.  A beast of a servant came up with a lantern, at last, shouting—“Keep fast, Skulker, keep fast!”  He changed his note, however, when he saw Skulker’s game.  The dog was throttled off; his huge, purple tongue hanging half a foot out of his mouth, and his pendent lips streaming with bloody slaver.  The man took Cathy up; she was sick: not from fear, I’m certain, but from pain.  He carried her in; I followed, grumbling execrations and vengeance.  “What prey, Robert?” hallooed Linton from the entrance.  “Skulker has caught a little girl, sir,” he replied; “and there’s a lad here,” he added, making a clutch at me, “who looks an out-and-outer!  Very like the robbers were for putting them through the window to open the doors to the gang after all were asleep, that they might murder us at their ease.  Hold your tongue, you foul-mouthed thief, you! you shall go to the gallows for this.  Mr. Linton, sir, don’t lay by your gun.”  “No, no, Robert,” said the old fool.  “The rascals knew that yesterday was my rent-day: they thought to have me cleverly.  Come in; I’ll furnish them a reception.  There, John, fasten the chain.  Give Skulker some water, Jenny.  To beard a magistrate in his stronghold, and on the Sabbath, too!  Where will their insolence stop?  Oh, my dear Mary, look here!  Don’t be afraid, it is but a boy—yet the villain scowls so plainly in his face; would it not be a kindness to the country to hang him at once, before he shows his nature in acts as well as features?”  He pulled me under the chandelier, and Mrs. Linton placed her spectacles on her nose and raised her hands in horror.  The cowardly children crept nearer also, Isabella lisping—“Frightful thing!  Put him in the cellar, papa.  He’s exactly like the son of the fortune-teller that stole my tame pheasant.  Isn’t he, Edgar?”

‘While they examined me, Cathy came round; she heard the last speech, and laughed.  Edgar Linton, after an inquisitive stare, collected sufficient wit to recognise her.  They see us at church, you know, though we seldom meet them elsewhere.  “That’s Miss Earnshaw?” he whispered to his mother, “and look how Skulker has bitten her—how her foot bleeds!”

‘“Miss Earnshaw?  Nonsense!” cried the dame; “Miss Earnshaw scouring the country with a gipsy!  And yet, my dear, the child is in mourning—surely it is—and she may be lamed for life!”

‘“What culpable carelessness in her brother!” exclaimed Mr. Linton, turning from me to Catherine.  “I’ve understood from Shielders”’ (that was the curate, sir) ‘“that he lets her grow up in absolute heathenism.  But who is this?  Where did she pick up this companion?  Oho! I declare he is that strange acquisition my late neighbour made, in his journey to Liverpool—a little Lascar, or an American or Spanish castaway.”

‘“A wicked boy, at all events,” remarked the old lady, “and quite unfit for a decent house!  Did you notice his language, Linton?  I’m shocked that my children should have heard it.”

‘I recommenced cursing—don’t be angry, Nelly—and so Robert was ordered to take me off.  I refused to go without Cathy; he dragged me into the garden, pushed the lantern into my hand, assured me that Mr. Earnshaw should be informed of my behaviour, and, bidding me march directly, secured the door again.  The curtains were still looped up at one corner, and I resumed my station as spy; because, if Catherine had wished to return, I intended shattering their great glass panes to a million of fragments, unless they let her out.  She sat on the sofa quietly.  Mrs. Linton took off the grey cloak of the dairy-maid which we had borrowed for our excursion, shaking her head and expostulating with her, I suppose: she was a young lady, and they made a distinction between her treatment and mine.  Then the woman-servant brought a basin of warm water, and washed her feet; and Mr. Linton mixed a tumbler of negus, and Isabella emptied a plateful of cakes into her lap, and Edgar stood gaping at a distance.  Afterwards, they dried and combed her beautiful hair, and gave her a pair of enormous slippers, and wheeled her to the fire; and I left her, as merry as she could be, dividing her food between the little dog and Skulker, whose nose she pinched as he ate; and kindling a spark of spirit in the vacant blue eyes of the Lintons—a dim reflection from her own enchanting face.  I saw they were full of stupid admiration; she is so immeasurably superior to them—to everybody on earth, is she not, Nelly?’

‘There will more come of this business than you reckon on,’ I answered, covering him up and extinguishing the light.  ‘You are incurable, Heathcliff; and Mr. Hindley will have to proceed to extremities, see if he won’t.’  My words came truer than I desired.  The luckless adventure made Earnshaw furious.  And then Mr. Linton, to mend matters, paid us a visit himself on the morrow, and read the young master such a lecture on the road he guided his family, that he was stirred to look about him, in earnest.  Heathcliff received no flogging, but he was told that the first word he spoke to Miss Catherine should ensure a dismissal; and Mrs. Earnshaw undertook to keep her sister-in-law in due restraint when she returned home; employing art, not force: with force she would have found it impossible.

CHAPTER VII

Cathy stayed at Thrushcross Grange five weeks: till Christmas.  By that time her ankle was thoroughly cured, and her manners much improved.  The mistress visited her often in the interval, and commenced her plan of reform by trying to raise her self-respect with fine clothes and flattery, which she took readily; so that, instead of a wild, hatless little savage jumping into the house, and rushing to squeeze us all breathless, there ‘lighted from a handsome black pony a very dignified person, with brown ringlets falling from the cover of a feathered beaver, and a long cloth habit, which she was obliged to hold up with both hands that she might sail in.  Hindley lifted her from her horse, exclaiming delightedly, ‘Why, Cathy, you are quite a beauty!  I should scarcely have known you: you look like a lady now.  Isabella Linton is not to be compared with her, is she, Frances?’  ‘Isabella has not her natural advantages,’ replied his wife: ‘but she must mind and not grow wild again here.  Ellen, help Miss Catherine off with her things—Stay, dear, you will disarrange your curls—let me untie your hat.’

I removed the habit, and there shone forth beneath a grand plaid silk frock, white trousers, and burnished shoes; and, while her eyes sparkled joyfully when the dogs came bounding up to welcome her, she dared hardly touch them lest they should fawn upon her splendid garments.  She kissed me gently: I was all flour making the Christmas cake, and it would not have done to give me a hug; and then she looked round for Heathcliff.  Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw watched anxiously their meeting; thinking it would enable them to judge, in some measure, what grounds they had for hoping to succeed in separating the two friends.

Heathcliff was hard to discover, at first.  If he were careless, and uncared for, before Catherine’s absence, he had been ten times more so since.  Nobody but I even did him the kindness to call him a dirty boy, and bid him wash himself, once a week; and children of his age seldom have a natural pleasure in soap and water.  Therefore, not to mention his clothes, which had seen three months’ service in mire and dust, and his thick uncombed hair, the surface of his face and hands was dismally beclouded.  He might well skulk behind the settle, on beholding such a bright, graceful damsel enter the house, instead of a rough-headed counterpart of himself, as he expected.  ‘Is Heathcliff not here?’ she demanded, pulling off her gloves, and displaying fingers wonderfully whitened with doing nothing and staying indoors.

‘Heathcliff, you may come forward,’ cried Mr. Hindley, enjoying his discomfiture, and gratified to see what a forbidding young blackguard he would be compelled to present himself.  ‘You may come and wish Miss Catherine welcome, like the other servants.’

Cathy, catching a glimpse of her friend in his concealment, flew to embrace him; she bestowed seven or eight kisses on his cheek within the second, and then stopped, and drawing back, burst into a laugh, exclaiming, ‘Why, how very black and cross you look! and how—how funny and grim!  But that’s because I’m used to Edgar and Isabella Linton.  Well, Heathcliff, have you forgotten me?’

She had some reason to put the question, for shame and pride threw double gloom over his countenance, and kept him immovable.

‘Shake hands, Heathcliff,’ said Mr. Earnshaw, condescendingly; ‘once in a way that is permitted.’

‘I shall not,’ replied the boy, finding his tongue at last; ‘I shall not stand to be laughed at.  I shall not bear it!’  And he would have broken from the circle, but Miss Cathy seized him again.

‘I did not mean to laugh at you,’ she said; ‘I could not hinder myself: Heathcliff, shake hands at least!  What are you sulky for?  It was only that you looked odd.  If you wash your face and brush your hair, it will be all right: but you are so dirty!’

She gazed concernedly at the dusky fingers she held in her own, and also at her dress; which she feared had gained no embellishment from its contact with his.

‘You needn’t have touched me!’ he answered, following her eye and snatching away his hand.  ‘I shall be as dirty as I please: and I like to be dirty, and I will be dirty.’

With that he dashed headforemost out of the room, amid the merriment of the master and mistress, and to the serious disturbance of Catherine; who could not comprehend how her remarks should have produced such an exhibition of bad temper.

After playing lady’s-maid to the new-comer, and putting my cakes in the oven, and making the house and kitchen cheerful with great fires, befitting Christmas-eve, I prepared to sit down and amuse myself by singing carols, all alone; regardless of Joseph’s affirmations that he considered the merry tunes I chose as next door to songs.  He had retired to private prayer in his chamber, and Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw were engaging Missy’s attention by sundry gay trifles bought for her to present to the little Lintons, as an acknowledgment of their kindness.  They had invited them to spend the morrow at Wuthering Heights, and the invitation had been accepted, on one condition: Mrs. Linton begged that her darlings might be kept carefully apart from that ‘naughty swearing boy.’

Under these circumstances I remained solitary.  I smelt the rich scent of the heating spices; and admired the shining kitchen utensils, the polished clock, decked in holly, the silver mugs ranged on a tray ready to be filled with mulled ale for supper; and above all, the speckless purity of my particular care—the scoured and well-swept floor.  I gave due inward applause to every object, and then I remembered how old Earnshaw used to come in when all was tidied, and call me a cant lass, and slip a shilling into my hand as a Christmas-box; and from that I went on to think of his fondness for Heathcliff, and his dread lest he should suffer neglect after death had removed him: and that naturally led me to consider the poor lad’s situation now, and from singing I changed my mind to crying.  It struck me soon, however, there would be more sense in endeavouring to repair some of his wrongs than shedding tears over them: I got up and walked into the court to seek him.  He was not far; I found him smoothing the glossy coat of the new pony in the stable, and feeding the other beasts, according to custom.

‘Make haste, Heathcliff!’ I said, ‘the kitchen is so comfortable; and Joseph is up-stairs: make haste, and let me dress you smart before Miss Cathy comes out, and then you can sit together, with the whole hearth to yourselves, and have a long chatter till bedtime.’

He proceeded with his task, and never turned his head towards me.

‘Come—are you coming?’ I continued.  ‘There’s a little cake for each of you, nearly enough; and you’ll need half-an-hour’s donning.’

I waited five minutes, but getting no answer left him.  Catherine supped with her brother and sister-in-law: Joseph and I joined at an unsociable meal, seasoned with reproofs on one side and sauciness on the other.  His cake and cheese remained on the table all night for the fairies.  He managed to continue work till nine o’clock, and then marched dumb and dour to his chamber.  Cathy sat up late, having a world of things to order for the reception of her new friends: she came into the kitchen once to speak to her old one; but he was gone, and she only stayed to ask what was the matter with him, and then went back.  In the morning he rose early; and, as it was a holiday, carried his ill-humour on to the moors; not re-appearing till the family were departed for church.  Fasting and reflection seemed to have brought him to a better spirit.  He hung about me for a while, and having screwed up his courage, exclaimed abruptly—‘Nelly, make me decent, I’m going to be good.’

‘High time, Heathcliff,’ I said; ‘you have grieved Catherine: she’s sorry she ever came home, I daresay!  It looks as if you envied her, because she is more thought of than you.’

The notion of envying Catherine was incomprehensible to him, but the notion of grieving her he understood clearly enough.

‘Did she say she was grieved?’ he inquired, looking very serious.

‘She cried when I told her you were off again this morning.’

‘Well, I cried last night,’ he returned, ‘and I had more reason to cry than she.’

‘Yes: you had the reason of going to bed with a proud heart and an empty stomach,’ said I.  ‘Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves.  But, if you be ashamed of your touchiness, you must ask pardon, mind, when she comes in.  You must go up and offer to kiss her, and say—you know best what to say; only do it heartily, and not as if you thought her converted into a stranger by her grand dress.  And now, though I have dinner to get ready, I’ll steal time to arrange you so that Edgar Linton shall look quite a doll beside you: and that he does.  You are younger, and yet, I’ll be bound, you are taller and twice as broad across the shoulders; you could knock him down in a twinkling; don’t you feel that you could?’

Heathcliff’s face brightened a moment; then it was overcast afresh, and he sighed.

‘But, Nelly, if I knocked him down twenty times, that wouldn’t make him less handsome or me more so.  I wish I had light hair and a fair skin, and was dressed and behaved as well, and had a chance of being as rich as he will be!’

‘And cried for mamma at every turn,’ I added, ‘and trembled if a country lad heaved his fist against you, and sat at home all day for a shower of rain.  Oh, Heathcliff, you are showing a poor spirit!  Come to the glass, and I’ll let you see what you should wish.  Do you mark those two lines between your eyes; and those thick brows, that, instead of rising arched, sink in the middle; and that couple of black fiends, so deeply buried, who never open their windows boldly, but lurk glinting under them, like devil’s spies?  Wish and learn to smooth away the surly wrinkles, to raise your lids frankly, and change the fiends to confident, innocent angels, suspecting and doubting nothing, and always seeing friends where they are not sure of foes.  Don’t get the expression of a vicious cur that appears to know the kicks it gets are its desert, and yet hates all the world, as well as the kicker, for what it suffers.’

‘In other words, I must wish for Edgar Linton’s great blue eyes and even forehead,’ he replied.  ‘I do—and that won’t help me to them.’

‘A good heart will help you to a bonny face, my lad,’ I continued, ‘if you were a regular black; and a bad one will turn the bonniest into something worse than ugly.  And now that we’ve done washing, and combing, and sulking—tell me whether you don’t think yourself rather handsome?  I’ll tell you, I do.  You’re fit for a prince in disguise.  Who knows but your father was Emperor of China, and your mother an Indian queen, each of them able to buy up, with one week’s income, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange together?  And you were kidnapped by wicked sailors and brought to England.  Were I in your place, I would frame high notions of my birth; and the thoughts of what I was should give me courage and dignity to support the oppressions of a little farmer!’

So I chattered on; and Heathcliff gradually lost his frown and began to look quite pleasant, when all at once our conversation was interrupted by a rumbling sound moving up the road and entering the court.  He ran to the window and I to the door, just in time to behold the two Lintons descend from the family carriage, smothered in cloaks and furs, and the Earnshaws dismount from their horses: they often rode to church in winter.  Catherine took a hand of each of the children, and brought them into the house and set them before the fire, which quickly put colour into their white faces.

I urged my companion to hasten now and show his amiable humour, and he willingly obeyed; but ill luck would have it that, as he opened the door leading from the kitchen on one side, Hindley opened it on the other.  They met, and the master, irritated at seeing him clean and cheerful, or, perhaps, eager to keep his promise to Mrs. Linton, shoved him back with a sudden thrust, and angrily bade Joseph ‘keep the fellow out of the room—send him into the garret till dinner is over.  He’ll be cramming his fingers in the tarts and stealing the fruit, if left alone with them a minute.’

‘Nay, sir,’ I could not avoid answering, ‘he’ll touch nothing, not he: and I suppose he must have his share of the dainties as well as we.’

‘He shall have his share of my hand, if I catch him downstairs till dark,’ cried Hindley.  ‘Begone, you vagabond!  What! you are attempting the coxcomb, are you?  Wait till I get hold of those elegant locks—see if I won’t pull them a bit longer!’

‘They are long enough already,’ observed Master Linton, peeping from the doorway; ‘I wonder they don’t make his head ache.  It’s like a colt’s mane over his eyes!’

He ventured this remark without any intention to insult; but Heathcliff’s violent nature was not prepared to endure the appearance of impertinence from one whom he seemed to hate, even then, as a rival.  He seized a tureen of hot apple sauce (the first thing that came under his gripe) and dashed it full against the speaker’s face and neck; who instantly commenced a lament that brought Isabella and Catherine hurrying to the place.  Mr. Earnshaw snatched up the culprit directly and conveyed him to his chamber; where, doubtless, he administered a rough remedy to cool the fit of passion, for he appeared red and breathless.  I got the dishcloth, and rather spitefully scrubbed Edgar’s nose and mouth, affirming it served him right for meddling.  His sister began weeping to go home, and Cathy stood by confounded, blushing for all.

‘You should not have spoken to him!’ she expostulated with Master Linton.  ‘He was in a bad temper, and now you’ve spoilt your visit; and he’ll be flogged: I hate him to be flogged!  I can’t eat my dinner.  Why did you speak to him, Edgar?’

‘I didn’t,’ sobbed the youth, escaping from my hands, and finishing the remainder of the purification with his cambric pocket-handkerchief.  ‘I promised mamma that I wouldn’t say one word to him, and I didn’t.’

‘Well, don’t cry,’ replied Catherine, contemptuously; ‘you’re not killed.  Don’t make more mischief; my brother is coming: be quiet!  Hush, Isabella!  Has anybody hurt you?’

‘There, there, children—to your seats!’ cried Hindley, bustling in.  ‘That brute of a lad has warmed me nicely.  Next time, Master Edgar, take the law into your own fists—it will give you an appetite!’

The little party recovered its equanimity at sight of the fragrant feast.  They were hungry after their ride, and easily consoled, since no real harm had befallen them.  Mr. Earnshaw carved bountiful platefuls, and the mistress made them merry with lively talk.  I waited behind her chair, and was pained to behold Catherine, with dry eyes and an indifferent air, commence cutting up the wing of a goose before her.  ‘An unfeeling child,’ I thought to myself; ‘how lightly she dismisses her old playmate’s troubles.  I could not have imagined her to be so selfish.’  She lifted a mouthful to her lips: then she set it down again: her cheeks flushed, and the tears gushed over them.  She slipped her fork to the floor, and hastily dived under the cloth to conceal her emotion.  I did not call her unfeeling long; for I perceived she was in purgatory throughout the day, and wearying to find an opportunity of getting by herself, or paying a visit to Heathcliff, who had been locked up by the master: as I discovered, on endeavouring to introduce to him a private mess of victuals.

In the evening we had a dance.  Cathy begged that he might be liberated then, as Isabella Linton had no partner: her entreaties were vain, and I was appointed to supply the deficiency.  We got rid of all gloom in the excitement of the exercise, and our pleasure was increased by the arrival of the Gimmerton band, mustering fifteen strong: a trumpet, a trombone, clarionets, bassoons, French horns, and a bass viol, besides singers.  They go the rounds of all the respectable houses, and receive contributions every Christmas, and we esteemed it a first-rate treat to hear them.  After the usual carols had been sung, we set them to songs and glees.  Mrs. Earnshaw loved the music, and so they gave us plenty.

Catherine loved it too: but she said it sounded sweetest at the top of the steps, and she went up in the dark: I followed.  They shut the house door below, never noting our absence, it was so full of people.  She made no stay at the stairs’-head, but mounted farther, to the garret where Heathcliff was confined, and called him.  He stubbornly declined answering for a while: she persevered, and finally persuaded him to hold communion with her through the boards.  I let the poor things converse unmolested, till I supposed the songs were going to cease, and the singers to get some refreshment: then I clambered up the ladder to warn her.  Instead of finding her outside, I heard her voice within.  The little monkey had crept by the skylight of one garret, along the roof, into the skylight of the other, and it was with the utmost difficulty I could coax her out again.  When she did come, Heathcliff came with her, and she insisted that I should take him into the kitchen, as my fellow-servant had gone to a neighbour’s, to be removed from the sound of our ‘devil’s psalmody,’ as it pleased him to call it.  I told them I intended by no means to encourage their tricks: but as the prisoner had never broken his fast since yesterday’s dinner, I would wink at his cheating Mr. Hindley that once.  He went down: I set him a stool by the fire, and offered him a quantity of good things: but he was sick and could eat little, and my attempts to entertain him were thrown away.  He leant his two elbows on his knees, and his chin on his hands and remained rapt in dumb meditation.  On my inquiring the subject of his thoughts, he answered gravely—‘I’m trying to settle how I shall pay Hindley back.  I don’t care how long I wait, if I can only do it at last.  I hope he will not die before I do!’

‘For shame, Heathcliff!’ said I.  ‘It is for God to punish wicked people; we should learn to forgive.’

‘No, God won’t have the satisfaction that I shall,’ he returned.  ‘I only wish I knew the best way!  Let me alone, and I’ll plan it out: while I’m thinking of that I don’t feel pain.’

‘But, Mr. Lockwood, I forget these tales cannot divert you.  I’m annoyed how I should dream of chattering on at such a rate; and your gruel cold, and you nodding for bed!  I could have told Heathcliff’s history, all that you need hear, in half a dozen words.’

* * * * *

Thus interrupting herself, the housekeeper rose, and proceeded to lay aside her sewing; but I felt incapable of moving from the hearth, and I was very far from nodding.  ‘Sit still, Mrs. Dean,’ I cried; ‘do sit still another half-hour.  You’ve done just right to tell the story leisurely.  That is the method I like; and you must finish it in the same style.  I am interested in every character you have mentioned, more or less.’

‘The clock is on the stroke of eleven, sir.’

‘No matter—I’m not accustomed to go to bed in the long hours.  One or two is early enough for a person who lies till ten.’

‘You shouldn’t lie till ten.  There’s the very prime of the morning gone long before that time.  A person who has not done one-half his day’s work by ten o’clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.’

‘Nevertheless, Mrs. Dean, resume your chair; because to-morrow I intend lengthening the night till afternoon.  I prognosticate for myself an obstinate cold, at least.’

‘I hope not, sir.  Well, you must allow me to leap over some three years; during that space Mrs. Earnshaw—’

‘No, no, I’ll allow nothing of the sort!  Are you acquainted with the mood of mind in which, if you were seated alone, and the cat licking its kitten on the rug before you, you would watch the operation so intently that puss’s neglect of one ear would put you seriously out of temper?’

‘A terribly lazy mood, I should say.’

‘On the contrary, a tiresomely active one.  It is mine, at present; and, therefore, continue minutely.  I perceive that people in these regions acquire over people in towns the value that a spider in a dungeon does over a spider in a cottage, to their various occupants; and yet the deepened attraction is not entirely owing to the situation of the looker-on.  They do live more in earnest, more in themselves, and less in surface, change, and frivolous external things.  I could fancy a love for life here almost possible; and I was a fixed unbeliever in any love of a year’s standing.  One state resembles setting a hungry man down to a single dish, on which he may concentrate his entire appetite and do it justice; the other, introducing him to a table laid out by French cooks: he can perhaps extract as much enjoyment from the whole; but each part is a mere atom in his regard and remembrance.’

‘Oh! here we are the same as anywhere else, when you get to know us,’ observed Mrs. Dean, somewhat puzzled at my speech.

‘Excuse me,’ I responded; ‘you, my good friend, are a striking evidence against that assertion.  Excepting a few provincialisms of slight consequence, you have no marks of the manners which I am habituated to consider as peculiar to your class.  I am sure you have thought a great deal more than the generality of servants think.  You have been compelled to cultivate your reflective faculties for want of occasions for frittering your life away in silly trifles.’

Mrs. Dean laughed.

‘I certainly esteem myself a steady, reasonable kind of body,’ she said; ‘not exactly from living among the hills and seeing one set of faces, and one series of actions, from year’s end to year’s end; but I have undergone sharp discipline, which has taught me wisdom; and then, I have read more than you would fancy, Mr. Lockwood.  You could not open a book in this library that I have not looked into, and got something out of also: unless it be that range of Greek and Latin, and that of French; and those I know one from another: it is as much as you can expect of a poor man’s daughter.  However, if I am to follow my story in true gossip’s fashion, I had better go on; and instead of leaping three years, I will be content to pass to the next summer—the summer of 1778, that is nearly twenty-three years ago.’

CHAPTER VIII

On the morning of a fine June day my first bonny little nursling, and the last of the ancient Earnshaw stock, was born.  We were busy with the hay in a far-away field, when the girl that usually brought our breakfasts came running an hour too soon across the meadow and up the lane, calling me as she ran.

‘Oh, such a grand bairn!’ she panted out.  ‘The finest lad that ever breathed!  But the doctor says missis must go: he says she’s been in a consumption these many months.  I heard him tell Mr. Hindley: and now she has nothing to keep her, and she’ll be dead before winter.  You must come home directly.  You’re to nurse it, Nelly: to feed it with sugar and milk, and take care of it day and night.  I wish I were you, because it will be all yours when there is no missis!’

‘But is she very ill?’ I asked, flinging down my rake and tying my bonnet.

‘I guess she is; yet she looks bravely,’ replied the girl, ‘and she talks as if she thought of living to see it grow a man.  She’s out of her head for joy, it’s such a beauty!  If I were her I’m certain I should not die: I should get better at the bare sight of it, in spite of Kenneth.  I was fairly mad at him.  Dame Archer brought the cherub down to master, in the house, and his face just began to light up, when the old croaker steps forward, and says he—“Earnshaw, it’s a blessing your wife has been spared to leave you this son.  When she came, I felt convinced we shouldn’t keep her long; and now, I must tell you, the winter will probably finish her.  Don’t take on, and fret about it too much: it can’t be helped.  And besides, you should have known better than to choose such a rush of a lass!”’

‘And what did the master answer?’ I inquired.

‘I think he swore: but I didn’t mind him, I was straining to see the bairn,’ and she began again to describe it rapturously.  I, as zealous as herself, hurried eagerly home to admire, on my part; though I was very sad for Hindley’s sake.  He had room in his heart only for two idols—his wife and himself: he doted on both, and adored one, and I couldn’t conceive how he would bear the loss.

When we got to Wuthering Heights, there he stood at the front door; and, as I passed in, I asked, ‘how was the baby?’

‘Nearly ready to run about, Nell!’ he replied, putting on a cheerful smile.

‘And the mistress?’ I ventured to inquire; ‘the doctor says she’s—’

‘Damn the doctor!’ he interrupted, reddening.  ‘Frances is quite right: she’ll be perfectly well by this time next week.  Are you going up-stairs? will you tell her that I’ll come, if she’ll promise not to talk.  I left her because she would not hold her tongue; and she must—tell her Mr. Kenneth says she must be quiet.’

I delivered this message to Mrs. Earnshaw; she seemed in flighty spirits, and replied merrily, ‘I hardly spoke a word, Ellen, and there he has gone out twice, crying.  Well, say I promise I won’t speak: but that does not bind me not to laugh at him!’

Poor soul!  Till within a week of her death that gay heart never failed her; and her husband persisted doggedly, nay, furiously, in affirming her health improved every day.  When Kenneth warned him that his medicines were useless at that stage of the malady, and he needn’t put him to further expense by attending her, he retorted, ‘I know you need not—she’s well—she does not want any more attendance from you!  She never was in a consumption.  It was a fever; and it is gone: her pulse is as slow as mine now, and her cheek as cool.’

He told his wife the same story, and she seemed to believe him; but one night, while leaning on his shoulder, in the act of saying she thought she should be able to get up to-morrow, a fit of coughing took her—a very slight one—he raised her in his arms; she put her two hands about his neck, her face changed, and she was dead.

As the girl had anticipated, the child Hareton fell wholly into my hands.  Mr. Earnshaw, provided he saw him healthy and never heard him cry, was contented, as far as regarded him.  For himself, he grew desperate: his sorrow was of that kind that will not lament.  He neither wept nor prayed; he cursed and defied: execrated God and man, and gave himself up to reckless dissipation.  The servants could not bear his tyrannical and evil conduct long: Joseph and I were the only two that would stay.  I had not the heart to leave my charge; and besides, you know, I had been his foster-sister, and excused his behaviour more readily than a stranger would.  Joseph remained to hector over tenants and labourers; and because it was his vocation to be where he had plenty of wickedness to reprove.

The master’s bad ways and bad companions formed a pretty example for Catherine and Heathcliff.  His treatment of the latter was enough to make a fiend of a saint.  And, truly, it appeared as if the lad were possessed of something diabolical at that period.  He delighted to witness Hindley degrading himself past redemption; and became daily more notable for savage sullenness and ferocity.  I could not half tell what an infernal house we had.  The curate dropped calling, and nobody decent came near us, at last; unless Edgar Linton’s visits to Miss Cathy might be an exception.  At fifteen she was the queen of the country-side; she had no peer; and she did turn out a haughty, headstrong creature!  I own I did not like her, after infancy was past; and I vexed her frequently by trying to bring down her arrogance: she never took an aversion to me, though.  She had a wondrous constancy to old attachments: even Heathcliff kept his hold on her affections unalterably; and young Linton, with all his superiority, found it difficult to make an equally deep impression.  He was my late master: that is his portrait over the fireplace.  It used to hang on one side, and his wife’s on the other; but hers has been removed, or else you might see something of what she was.  Can you make that out?

Mrs. Dean raised the candle, and I discerned a soft-featured face, exceedingly resembling the young lady at the Heights, but more pensive and amiable in expression.  It formed a sweet picture.  The long light hair curled slightly on the temples; the eyes were large and serious; the figure almost too graceful.  I did not marvel how Catherine Earnshaw could forget her first friend for such an individual.  I marvelled much how he, with a mind to correspond with his person, could fancy my idea of Catherine Earnshaw.

‘A very agreeable portrait,’ I observed to the house-keeper.  ‘Is it like?’

‘Yes,’ she answered; ‘but he looked better when he was animated; that is his everyday countenance: he wanted spirit in general.’

Catherine had kept up her acquaintance with the Lintons since her five-weeks’ residence among them; and as she had no temptation to show her rough side in their company, and had the sense to be ashamed of being rude where she experienced such invariable courtesy, she imposed unwittingly on the old lady and gentleman by her ingenious cordiality; gained the admiration of Isabella, and the heart and soul of her brother: acquisitions that flattered her from the first—for she was full of ambition—and led her to adopt a double character without exactly intending to deceive any one.  In the place where she heard Heathcliff termed a ‘vulgar young ruffian,’ and ‘worse than a brute,’ she took care not to act like him; but at home she had small inclination to practise politeness that would only be laughed at, and restrain an unruly nature when it would bring her neither credit nor praise.

Mr. Edgar seldom mustered courage to visit Wuthering Heights openly.  He had a terror of Earnshaw’s reputation, and shrunk from encountering him; and yet he was always received with our best attempts at civility: the master himself avoided offending him, knowing why he came; and if he could not be gracious, kept out of the way.  I rather think his appearance there was distasteful to Catherine; she was not artful, never played the coquette, and had evidently an objection to her two friends meeting at all; for when Heathcliff expressed contempt of Linton in his presence, she could not half coincide, as she did in his absence; and when Linton evinced disgust and antipathy to Heathcliff, she dared not treat his sentiments with indifference, as if depreciation of her playmate were of scarcely any consequence to her.  I’ve had many a laugh at her perplexities and untold troubles, which she vainly strove to hide from my mockery.  That sounds ill-natured: but she was so proud it became really impossible to pity her distresses, till she should be chastened into more humility.  She did bring herself, finally, to confess, and to confide in me: there was not a soul else that she might fashion into an adviser.

Mr. Hindley had gone from home one afternoon, and Heathcliff presumed to give himself a holiday on the strength of it.  He had reached the age of sixteen then, I think, and without having bad features, or being deficient in intellect, he contrived to convey an impression of inward and outward repulsiveness that his present aspect retains no traces of.  In the first place, he had by that time lost the benefit of his early education: continual hard work, begun soon and concluded late, had extinguished any curiosity he once possessed in pursuit of knowledge, and any love for books or learning.  His childhood’s sense of superiority, instilled into him by the favours of old Mr. Earnshaw, was faded away.  He struggled long to keep up an equality with Catherine in her studies, and yielded with poignant though silent regret: but he yielded completely; and there was no prevailing on him to take a step in the way of moving upward, when he found he must, necessarily, sink beneath his former level.  Then personal appearance sympathised with mental deterioration: he acquired a slouching gait and ignoble look; his naturally reserved disposition was exaggerated into an almost idiotic excess of unsociable moroseness; and he took a grim pleasure, apparently, in exciting the aversion rather than the esteem of his few acquaintance.

Catherine and he were constant companions still at his seasons of respite from labour; but he had ceased to express his fondness for her in words, and recoiled with angry suspicion from her girlish caresses, as if conscious there could be no gratification in lavishing such marks of affection on him.  On the before-named occasion he came into the house to announce his intention of doing nothing, while I was assisting Miss Cathy to arrange her dress: she had not reckoned on his taking it into his head to be idle; and imagining she would have the whole place to herself, she managed, by some means, to inform Mr. Edgar of her brother’s absence, and was then preparing to receive him.

‘Cathy, are you busy this afternoon?’ asked Heathcliff.  ‘Are you going anywhere?’

‘No, it is raining,’ she answered.

‘Why have you that silk frock on, then?’ he said.  ‘Nobody coming here, I hope?’

‘Not that I know of,’ stammered Miss: ‘but you should be in the field now, Heathcliff.  It is an hour past dinnertime: I thought you were gone.’

‘Hindley does not often free us from his accursed presence,’ observed the boy.  ‘I’ll not work any more to-day: I’ll stay with you.’

‘Oh, but Joseph will tell,’ she suggested; ‘you’d better go!’

‘Joseph is loading lime on the further side of Penistone Crags; it will take him till dark, and he’ll never know.’

So, saying, he lounged to the fire, and sat down.  Catherine reflected an instant, with knitted brows—she found it needful to smooth the way for an intrusion.  ‘Isabella and Edgar Linton talked of calling this afternoon,’ she said, at the conclusion of a minute’s silence.  ‘As it rains, I hardly expect them; but they may come, and if they do, you run the risk of being scolded for no good.’

‘Order Ellen to say you are engaged, Cathy,’ he persisted; ‘don’t turn me out for those pitiful, silly friends of yours!  I’m on the point, sometimes, of complaining that they—but I’ll not—’

‘That they what?’ cried Catherine, gazing at him with a troubled countenance.  ‘Oh, Nelly!’ she added petulantly, jerking her head away from my hands, ‘you’ve combed my hair quite out of curl!  That’s enough; let me alone.  What are you on the point of complaining about, Heathcliff?’

‘Nothing—only look at the almanack on that wall;’ he pointed to a framed sheet hanging near the window, and continued, ‘The crosses are for the evenings you have spent with the Lintons, the dots for those spent with me.  Do you see?  I’ve marked every day.’

‘Yes—very foolish: as if I took notice!’ replied Catherine, in a peevish tone.  ‘And where is the sense of that?’

‘To show that I do take notice,’ said Heathcliff.

‘And should I always be sitting with you?’ she demanded, growing more irritated.  ‘What good do I get?  What do you talk about?  You might be dumb, or a baby, for anything you say to amuse me, or for anything you do, either!’

‘You never told me before that I talked too little, or that you disliked my company, Cathy!’ exclaimed Heathcliff, in much agitation.

‘It’s no company at all, when people know nothing and say nothing,’ she muttered.

Her companion rose up, but he hadn’t time to express his feelings further, for a horse’s feet were heard on the flags, and having knocked gently, young Linton entered, his face brilliant with delight at the unexpected summon she had received.  Doubtless Catherine marked the difference between her friends, as one came in and the other went out.  The contrast resembled what you see in exchanging a bleak, hilly, coal country for a beautiful fertile valley; and his voice and greeting were as opposite as his aspect.  He had a sweet, low manner of speaking, and pronounced his words as you do: that’s less gruff than we talk here, and softer.

‘I’m not come too soon, am I?’ he said, casting a look at me: I had begun to wipe the plate, and tidy some drawers at the far end in the dresser.

‘No,’ answered Catherine.  ‘What are you doing there, Nelly?’

‘My work, Miss,’ I replied.  (Mr. Hindley had given me directions to make a third party in any private visits Linton chose to pay.)

She stepped behind me and whispered crossly, ‘Take yourself and your dusters off; when company are in the house, servants don’t commence scouring and cleaning in the room where they are!’

‘It’s a good opportunity, now that master is away,’ I answered aloud: ‘he hates me to be fidgeting over these things in his presence.  I’m sure Mr. Edgar will excuse me.’

‘I hate you to be fidgeting in my presence,’ exclaimed the young lady imperiously, not allowing her guest time to speak: she had failed to recover her equanimity since the little dispute with Heathcliff.

‘I’m sorry for it, Miss Catherine,’ was my response; and I proceeded assiduously with my occupation.

She, supposing Edgar could not see her, snatched the cloth from my hand, and pinched me, with a prolonged wrench, very spitefully on the arm.  I’ve said I did not love her, and rather relished mortifying her vanity now and then: besides, she hurt me extremely; so I started up from my knees, and screamed out, ‘Oh, Miss, that’s a nasty trick!  You have no right to nip me, and I’m not going to bear it.’

‘I didn’t touch you, you lying creature!’ cried she, her fingers tingling to repeat the act, and her ears red with rage.  She never had power to conceal her passion, it always set her whole complexion in a blaze.

‘What’s that, then?’ I retorted, showing a decided purple witness to refute her.

She stamped her foot, wavered a moment, and then, irresistibly impelled by the naughty spirit within her, slapped me on the cheek: a stinging blow that filled both eyes with water.

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

‘Leave the room, Ellen!’ she repeated, trembling all over.

Little Hareton, who followed me everywhere, and was sitting near me on the floor, at seeing my tears commenced crying himself, and sobbed out complaints against ‘wicked aunt Cathy,’ which drew her fury on to his unlucky head: she seized his shoulders, and shook him till the poor child waxed livid, and Edgar thoughtlessly laid hold of her hands to deliver him.  In an instant one was wrung free, and the astonished young man felt it applied over his own ear in a way that could not be mistaken for jest.  He drew back in consternation.  I lifted Hareton in my arms, and walked off to the kitchen with him, leaving the door of communication open, for I was curious to watch how they would settle their disagreement.  The insulted visitor moved to the spot where he had laid his hat, pale and with a quivering lip.

‘That’s right!’ I said to myself.  ‘Take warning and begone!  It’s a kindness to let you have a glimpse of her genuine disposition.’

‘Where are you going?’ demanded Catherine, advancing to the door.

He swerved aside, and attempted to pass.

‘You must not go!’ she exclaimed, energetically.

‘I must and shall!’ he replied in a subdued voice.

‘No,’ she persisted, grasping the handle; ‘not yet, Edgar Linton: sit down; you shall not leave me in that temper.  I should be miserable all night, and I won’t be miserable for you!’

‘Can I stay after you have struck me?’ asked Linton.

Catherine was mute.

‘You’ve made me afraid and ashamed of you,’ he continued; ‘I’ll not come here again!’

Her eyes began to glisten and her lids to twinkle.

‘And you told a deliberate untruth!’ he said.

‘I didn’t!’ she cried, recovering her speech; ‘I did nothing deliberately.  Well, go, if you please—get away!  And now I’ll cry—I’ll cry myself sick!’

She dropped down on her knees by a chair, and set to weeping in serious earnest.  Edgar persevered in his resolution as far as the court; there he lingered.  I resolved to encourage him.

‘Miss is dreadfully wayward, sir,’ I called out.  ‘As bad as any marred child: you’d better be riding home, or else she will be sick, only to grieve us.’

The soft thing looked askance through the window: he possessed the power to depart as much as a cat possesses the power to leave a mouse half killed, or a bird half eaten.  Ah, I thought, there will be no saving him: he’s doomed, and flies to his fate!  And so it was: he turned abruptly, hastened into the house again, shut the door behind him; and when I went in a while after to inform them that Earnshaw had come home rabid drunk, ready to pull the whole place about our ears (his ordinary frame of mind in that condition), I saw the quarrel had merely effected a closer intimacy—had broken the outworks of youthful timidity, and enabled them to forsake the disguise of friendship, and confess themselves lovers.

Intelligence of Mr. Hindley’s arrival drove Linton speedily to his horse, and Catherine to her chamber.  I went to hide little Hareton, and to take the shot out of the master’s fowling-piece, which he was fond of playing with in his insane excitement, to the hazard of the lives of any who provoked, or even attracted his notice too much; and I had hit upon the plan of removing it, that he might do less mischief if he did go the length of firing the gun.

CHAPTER IX

He entered, vociferating oaths dreadful to hear; and caught me in the act of stowing his son sway in the kitchen cupboard.  Hareton was impressed with a wholesome terror of encountering either his wild beast’s fondness or his madman’s rage; for in one he ran a chance of being squeezed and kissed to death, and in the other of being flung into the fire, or dashed against the wall; and the poor thing remained perfectly quiet wherever I chose to put him.

‘There, I’ve found it out at last!’ cried Hindley, pulling me back by the skin of my neck, like a dog.  ‘By heaven and hell, you’ve sworn between you to murder that child!  I know how it is, now, that he is always out of my way.  But, with the help of Satan, I shall make you swallow the carving-knife, Nelly!  You needn’t laugh; for I’ve just crammed Kenneth, head-downmost, in the Black-horse marsh; and two is the same as one—and I want to kill some of you: I shall have no rest till I do!’

‘But I don’t like the carving-knife, Mr. Hindley,’ I answered; ‘it has been cutting red herrings.  I’d rather be shot, if you please.’

‘You’d rather be damned!’ he said; ‘and so you shall.  No law in England can hinder a man from keeping his house decent, and mine’s abominable!  Open your mouth.’  He held the knife in his hand, and pushed its point between my teeth: but, for my part, I was never much afraid of his vagaries.  I spat out, and affirmed it tasted detestably—I would not take it on any account.

‘Oh!’ said he, releasing me, ‘I see that hideous little villain is not Hareton: I beg your pardon, Nell.  If it be, he deserves flaying alive for not running to welcome me, and for screaming as if I were a goblin.  Unnatural cub, come hither!  I’ll teach thee to impose on a good-hearted, deluded father.  Now, don’t you think the lad would be handsomer cropped?  It makes a dog fiercer, and I love something fierce—get me a scissors—something fierce and trim!  Besides, it’s infernal affectation—devilish conceit it is, to cherish our ears—we’re asses enough without them.  Hush, child, hush!  Well then, it is my darling! wisht, dry thy eyes—there’s a joy; kiss me.  What! it won’t?  Kiss me, Hareton!  Damn thee, kiss me!  By God, as if I would rear such a monster!  As sure as I’m living, I’ll break the brat’s neck.’

Poor Hareton was squalling and kicking in his father’s arms with all his might, and redoubled his yells when he carried him up-stairs and lifted him over the banister.  I cried out that he would frighten the child into fits, and ran to rescue him.  As I reached them, Hindley leant forward on the rails to listen to a noise below; almost forgetting what he had in his hands.  ‘Who is that?’ he asked, hearing some one approaching the stairs’-foot.  I leant forward also, for the purpose of signing to Heathcliff, whose step I recognised, not to come further; and, at the instant when my eye quitted Hareton, he gave a sudden spring, delivered himself from the careless grasp that held him, and fell.

There was scarcely time to experience a thrill of horror before we saw that the little wretch was safe.  Heathcliff arrived underneath just at the critical moment; by a natural impulse he arrested his descent, and setting him on his feet, looked up to discover the author of the accident.  A miser who has parted with a lucky lottery ticket for five shillings, and finds next day he has lost in the bargain five thousand pounds, could not show a blanker countenance than he did on beholding the figure of Mr. Earnshaw above.  It expressed, plainer than words could do, the intensest anguish at having made himself the instrument of thwarting his own revenge.  Had it been dark, I daresay he would have tried to remedy the mistake by smashing Hareton’s skull on the steps; but, we witnessed his salvation; and I was presently below with my precious charge pressed to my heart.  Hindley descended more leisurely, sobered and abashed.

‘It is your fault, Ellen,’ he said; ‘you should have kept him out of sight: you should have taken him from me!  Is he injured anywhere?’

‘Injured!’ I cried angrily; ‘if he is not killed, he’ll be an idiot!  Oh!  I wonder his mother does not rise from her grave to see how you use him.  You’re worse than a heathen—treating your own flesh and blood in that manner!’  He attempted to touch the child, who, on finding himself with me, sobbed off his terror directly.  At the first finger his father laid on him, however, he shrieked again louder than before, and struggled as if he would go into convulsions.

‘You shall not meddle with him!’ I continued.  ‘He hates you—they all hate you—that’s the truth!  A happy family you have; and a pretty state you’re come to!’

‘I shall come to a prettier, yet, Nelly,’ laughed the misguided man, recovering his hardness.  ‘At present, convey yourself and him away.  And hark you, Heathcliff! clear you too quite from my reach and hearing.  I wouldn’t murder you to-night; unless, perhaps, I set the house on fire: but that’s as my fancy goes.’

While saying this he took a pint bottle of brandy from the dresser, and poured some into a tumbler.

‘Nay, don’t!’ I entreated.  ‘Mr. Hindley, do take warning.  Have mercy on this unfortunate boy, if you care nothing for yourself!’

‘Any one will do better for him than I shall,’ he answered.

‘Have mercy on your own soul!’ I said, endeavouring to snatch the glass from his hand.

‘Not I!  On the contrary, I shall have great pleasure in sending it to perdition to punish its Maker,’ exclaimed the blasphemer.  ‘Here’s to its hearty damnation!’

He drank the spirits and impatiently bade us go; terminating his command with a sequel of horrid imprecations too bad to repeat or remember.

‘It’s a pity he cannot kill himself with drink,’ observed Heathcliff, muttering an echo of curses back when the door was shut.  ‘He’s doing his very utmost; but his constitution defies him.  Mr. Kenneth says he would wager his mare that he’ll outlive any man on this side Gimmerton, and go to the grave a hoary sinner; unless some happy chance out of the common course befall him.’

I went into the kitchen, and sat down to lull my little lamb to sleep.  Heathcliff, as I thought, walked through to the barn.  It turned out afterwards that he only got as far as the other side the settle, when he flung himself on a bench by the wall, removed from the fire and remained silent.

I was rocking Hareton on my knee, and humming a song that began,—

It was far in the night, and the bairnies grat,
The mither beneath the mools heard that,

when Miss Cathy, who had listened to the hubbub from her room, put her head in, and whispered,—‘Are you alone, Nelly?’

‘Yes, Miss,’ I replied.

She entered and approached the hearth.  I, supposing she was going to say something, looked up.  The expression of her face seemed disturbed and anxious.  Her lips were half asunder, as if she meant to speak, and she drew a breath; but it escaped in a sigh instead of a sentence.  I resumed my song; not having forgotten her recent behaviour.

‘Where’s Heathcliff?’ she said, interrupting me.

‘About his work in the stable,’ was my answer.

He did not contradict me; perhaps he had fallen into a doze.  There followed another long pause, during which I perceived a drop or two trickle from Catherine’s cheek to the flags.  Is she sorry for her shameful conduct?—I asked myself.  That will be a novelty: but she may come to the point—as she will—I sha’n’t help her!  No, she felt small trouble regarding any subject, save her own concerns.

‘Oh, dear!’ she cried at last.  ‘I’m very unhappy!’

‘A pity,’ observed I.  ‘You’re hard to please; so many friends and so few cares, and can’t make yourself content!’

‘Nelly, will you keep a secret for me?’ she pursued, kneeling down by me, and lifting her winsome eyes to my face with that sort of look which turns off bad temper, even when one has all the right in the world to indulge it.

‘Is it worth keeping?’ I inquired, less sulkily.

‘Yes, and it worries me, and I must let it out!  I want to know what I should do.  To-day, Edgar Linton has asked me to marry him, and I’ve given him an answer.  Now, before I tell you whether it was a consent or denial, you tell me which it ought to have been.’

‘Really, Miss Catherine, how can I know?’ I replied.  ‘To be sure, considering the exhibition you performed in his presence this afternoon, I might say it would be wise to refuse him: since he asked you after that, he must either be hopelessly stupid or a venturesome fool.’

‘If you talk so, I won’t tell you any more,’ she returned, peevishly rising to her feet.  ‘I accepted him, Nelly.  Be quick, and say whether I was wrong!’

‘You accepted him!  Then what good is it discussing the matter?  You have pledged your word, and cannot retract.’

‘But say whether I should have done so—do!’ she exclaimed in an irritated tone; chafing her hands together, and frowning.

‘There are many things to be considered before that question can be answered properly,’ I said, sententiously.  ‘First and foremost, do you love Mr. Edgar?’

‘Who can help it?  Of course I do,’ she answered.

Then I put her through the following catechism: for a girl of twenty-two it was not injudicious.

‘Why do you love him, Miss Cathy?’

‘Nonsense, I do—that’s sufficient.’

‘By no means; you must say why?’

‘Well, because he is handsome, and pleasant to be with.’

‘Bad!’ was my commentary.

‘And because he is young and cheerful.’

‘Bad, still.’

‘And because he loves me.’

‘Indifferent, coming there.’

‘And he will be rich, and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighbourhood, and I shall be proud of having such a husband.’

‘Worst of all.  And now, say how you love him?’

‘As everybody loves—You’re silly, Nelly.’

‘Not at all—Answer.’

‘I love the ground under his feet, and the air over his head, and everything he touches, and every word he says.  I love all his looks, and all his actions, and him entirely and altogether.  There now!’

‘And why?’

‘Nay; you are making a jest of it: it is exceedingly ill-natured!  It’s no jest to me!’ said the young lady, scowling, and turning her face to the fire.

‘I’m very far from jesting, Miss Catherine,’ I replied.  ‘You love Mr. Edgar because he is handsome, and young, and cheerful, and rich, and loves you.  The last, however, goes for nothing: you would love him without that, probably; and with it you wouldn’t, unless he possessed the four former attractions.’

‘No, to be sure not: I should only pity him—hate him, perhaps, if he were ugly, and a clown.’

‘But there are several other handsome, rich young men in the world: handsomer, possibly, and richer than he is.  What should hinder you from loving them?’

‘If there be any, they are out of my way: I’ve seen none like Edgar.’

‘You may see some; and he won’t always be handsome, and young, and may not always be rich.’

‘He is now; and I have only to do with the present.  I wish you would speak rationally.’

‘Well, that settles it: if you have only to do with the present, marry Mr. Linton.’

‘I don’t want your permission for that—I shall marry him: and yet you have not told me whether I’m right.’

‘Perfectly right; if people be right to marry only for the present.  And now, let us hear what you are unhappy about.  Your brother will be pleased; the old lady and gentleman will not object, I think; you will escape from a disorderly, comfortless home into a wealthy, respectable one; and you love Edgar, and Edgar loves you.  All seems smooth and easy: where is the obstacle?’

Here! and here!’ replied Catherine, striking one hand on her forehead, and the other on her breast: ‘in whichever place the soul lives.  In my soul and in my heart, I’m convinced I’m wrong!’

‘That’s very strange!  I cannot make it out.’

‘It’s my secret.  But if you will not mock at me, I’ll explain it: I can’t do it distinctly; but I’ll give you a feeling of how I feel.’

She seated herself by me again: her countenance grew sadder and graver, and her clasped hands trembled.

‘Nelly, do you never dream queer dreams?’ she said, suddenly, after some minutes’ reflection.

‘Yes, now and then,’ I answered.

‘And so do I.  I’ve dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas: they’ve gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.  And this is one: I’m going to tell it—but take care not to smile at any part of it.’

‘Oh! don’t, Miss Catherine!’ I cried.  ‘We’re dismal enough without conjuring up ghosts and visions to perplex us.  Come, come, be merry and like yourself!  Look at little Hareton! he’s dreaming nothing dreary.  How sweetly he smiles in his sleep!’

‘Yes; and how sweetly his father curses in his solitude!  You remember him, I daresay, when he was just such another as that chubby thing: nearly as young and innocent.  However, Nelly, I shall oblige you to listen: it’s not long; and I’ve no power to be merry to-night.’

‘I won’t hear it, I won’t hear it!’ I repeated, hastily.

I was superstitious about dreams then, and am still; and Catherine had an unusual gloom in her aspect, that made me dread something from which I might shape a prophecy, and foresee a fearful catastrophe.  She was vexed, but she did not proceed.  Apparently taking up another subject, she recommenced in a short time.

‘If I were in heaven, Nelly, I should be extremely miserable.’

‘Because you are not fit to go there,’ I answered.  ‘All sinners would be miserable in heaven.’

‘But it is not for that.  I dreamt once that I was there.’

‘I tell you I won’t hearken to your dreams, Miss Catherine!  I’ll go to bed,’ I interrupted again.

She laughed, and held me down; for I made a motion to leave my chair.

‘This is nothing,’ cried she: ‘I was only going to say that heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy.  That will do to explain my secret, as well as the other.  I’ve no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn’t have thought of it.  It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am.  Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.’

Ere this speech ended I became sensible of Heathcliff’s presence.  Having noticed a slight movement, I turned my head, and saw him rise from the bench, and steal out noiselessly.  He had listened till he heard Catherine say it would degrade her to marry him, and then he stayed to hear no further.  My companion, sitting on the ground, was prevented by the back of the settle from remarking his presence or departure; but I started, and bade her hush!

‘Why?’ she asked, gazing nervously round.

‘Joseph is here,’ I answered, catching opportunely the roll of his cartwheels up the road; ‘and Heathcliff will come in with him.  I’m not sure whether he were not at the door this moment.’

‘Oh, he couldn’t overhear me at the door!’ said she.  ‘Give me Hareton, while you get the supper, and when it is ready ask me to sup with you.  I want to cheat my uncomfortable conscience, and be convinced that Heathcliff has no notion of these things.  He has not, has he?  He does not know what being in love is!’

‘I see no reason that he should not know, as well as you,’ I returned; ‘and if you are his choice, he’ll be the most unfortunate creature that ever was born!  As soon as you become Mrs. Linton, he loses friend, and love, and all!  Have you considered how you’ll bear the separation, and how he’ll bear to be quite deserted in the world?  Because, Miss Catherine—’

‘He quite deserted! we separated!’ she exclaimed, with an accent of indignation.  ‘Who is to separate us, pray?  They’ll meet the fate of Milo!  Not as long as I live, Ellen: for no mortal creature.  Every Linton on the face of the earth might melt into nothing before I could consent to forsake Heathcliff.  Oh, that’s not what I intend—that’s not what I mean!  I shouldn’t be Mrs. Linton were such a price demanded!  He’ll be as much to me as he has been all his lifetime.  Edgar must shake off his antipathy, and tolerate him, at least.  He will, when he learns my true feelings towards him.  Nelly, I see now you think me a selfish wretch; but did it never strike you that if Heathcliff and I married, we should be beggars? whereas, if I marry Linton I can aid Heathcliff to rise, and place him out of my brother’s power.’

‘With your husband’s money, Miss Catherine?’ I asked.  ‘You’ll find him not so pliable as you calculate upon: and, though I’m hardly a judge, I think that’s the worst motive you’ve given yet for being the wife of young Linton.’

‘It is not,’ retorted she; ‘it is the best!  The others were the satisfaction of my whims: and for Edgar’s sake, too, to satisfy him.  This is for the sake of one who comprehends in his person my feelings to Edgar and myself.  I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you.  What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here?  My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself.  If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it.—My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees.  My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary.  Nelly, I am Heathcliff!  He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.  So don’t talk of our separation again: it is impracticable; and—’

She paused, and hid her face in the folds of my gown; but I jerked it forcibly away.  I was out of patience with her folly!

‘If I can make any sense of your nonsense, Miss,’ I said, ‘it only goes to convince me that you are ignorant of the duties you undertake in marrying; or else that you are a wicked, unprincipled girl.  But trouble me with no more secrets: I’ll not promise to keep them.’

‘You’ll keep that?’ she asked, eagerly.

‘No, I’ll not promise,’ I repeated.

She was about to insist, when the entrance of Joseph finished our conversation; and Catherine removed her seat to a corner, and nursed Hareton, while I made the supper.  After it was cooked, my fellow-servant and I began to quarrel who should carry some to Mr. Hindley; and we didn’t settle it till all was nearly cold.  Then we came to the agreement that we would let him ask, if he wanted any; for we feared particularly to go into his presence when he had been some time alone.

‘And how isn’t that nowt comed in fro’ th’ field, be this time?  What is he about? girt idle seeght!’ demanded the old man, looking round for Heathcliff.

‘I’ll call him,’ I replied.  ‘He’s in the barn, I’ve no doubt.’

I went and called, but got no answer.  On returning, I whispered to Catherine that he had heard a good part of what she said, I was sure; and told how I saw him quit the kitchen just as she complained of her brother’s conduct regarding him.  She jumped up in a fine fright, flung Hareton on to the settle, and ran to seek for her friend herself; not taking leisure to consider why she was so flurried, or how her talk would have affected him.  She was absent such a while that Joseph proposed we should wait no longer.  He cunningly conjectured they were staying away in order to avoid hearing his protracted blessing.  They were ‘ill eneugh for ony fahl manners,’ he affirmed.  And on their behalf he added that night a special prayer to the usual quarter-of-an-hour’s supplication before meat, and would have tacked another to the end of the grace, had not his young mistress broken in upon him with a hurried command that he must run down the road, and, wherever Heathcliff had rambled, find and make him re-enter directly!

‘I want to speak to him, and I must, before I go upstairs,’ she said.  ‘And the gate is open: he is somewhere out of hearing; for he would not reply, though I shouted at the top of the fold as loud as I could.’

Joseph objected at first; she was too much in earnest, however, to suffer contradiction; and at last he placed his hat on his head, and walked grumbling forth.  Meantime, Catherine paced up and down the floor, exclaiming—‘I wonder where he is—I wonder where he can be!  What did I say, Nelly?  I’ve forgotten.  Was he vexed at my bad humour this afternoon?  Dear! tell me what I’ve said to grieve him?  I do wish he’d come.  I do wish he would!’

‘What a noise for nothing!’ I cried, though rather uneasy myself.  ‘What a trifle scares you!  It’s surely no great cause of alarm that Heathcliff should take a moonlight saunter on the moors, or even lie too sulky to speak to us in the hay-loft.  I’ll engage he’s lurking there.  See if I don’t ferret him out!’

I departed to renew my search; its result was disappointment, and Joseph’s quest ended in the same.

‘Yon lad gets war und war!’ observed he on re-entering.  ‘He’s left th’ gate at t’ full swing, and Miss’s pony has trodden dahn two rigs o’ corn, and plottered through, raight o’er into t’ meadow!  Hahsomdiver, t’ maister ‘ull play t’ devil to-morn, and he’ll do weel.  He’s patience itsseln wi’ sich careless, offald craters—patience itsseln he is!  Bud he’ll not be soa allus—yah’s see, all on ye!  Yah mun’n’t drive him out of his heead for nowt!’

‘Have you found Heathcliff, you ass?’ interrupted Catherine.  ‘Have you been looking for him, as I ordered?’

‘I sud more likker look for th’ horse,’ he replied.  ‘It ’ud be to more sense.  Bud I can look for norther horse nur man of a neeght loike this—as black as t’ chimbley! und Heathcliff’s noan t’ chap to coom at my whistle—happen he’ll be less hard o’ hearing wi’ ye!’

It was a very dark evening for summer: the clouds appeared inclined to thunder, and I said we had better all sit down; the approaching rain would be certain to bring him home without further trouble.  However, Catherine would not be persuaded into tranquillity.  She kept wandering to and fro, from the gate to the door, in a state of agitation which permitted no repose; and at length took up a permanent situation on one side of the wall, near the road: where, heedless of my expostulations and the growling thunder, and the great drops that began to plash around her, she remained, calling at intervals, and then listening, and then crying outright.  She beat Hareton, or any child, at a good passionate fit of crying.

About midnight, while we still sat up, the storm came rattling over the Heights in full fury.  There was a violent wind, as well as thunder, and either one or the other split a tree off at the corner of the building: a huge bough fell across the roof, and knocked down a portion of the east chimney-stack, sending a clatter of stones and soot into the kitchen-fire.  We thought a bolt had fallen in the middle of us; and Joseph swung on to his knees, beseeching the Lord to remember the patriarchs Noah and Lot, and, as in former times, spare the righteous, though he smote the ungodly.  I felt some sentiment that it must be a judgment on us also.  The Jonah, in my mind, was Mr. Earnshaw; and I shook the handle of his den that I might ascertain if he were yet living.  He replied audibly enough, in a fashion which made my companion vociferate, more clamorously than before, that a wide distinction might be drawn between saints like himself and sinners like his master.  But the uproar passed away in twenty minutes, leaving us all unharmed; excepting Cathy, who got thoroughly drenched for her obstinacy in refusing to take shelter, and standing bonnetless and shawl-less to catch as much water as she could with her hair and clothes.  She came in and lay down on the settle, all soaked as she was, turning her face to the back, and putting her hands before it.

‘Well, Miss!’ I exclaimed, touching her shoulder; ‘you are not bent on getting your death, are you?  Do you know what o’clock it is?  Half-past twelve.  Come, come to bed! there’s no use waiting any longer on that foolish boy: he’ll be gone to Gimmerton, and he’ll stay there now.  He guesses we shouldn’t wait for him till this late hour: at least, he guesses that only Mr. Hindley would be up; and he’d rather avoid having the door opened by the master.’

‘Nay, nay, he’s noan at Gimmerton,’ said Joseph.  ‘I’s niver wonder but he’s at t’ bothom of a bog-hoile.  This visitation worn’t for nowt, and I wod hev’ ye to look out, Miss—yah muh be t’ next.  Thank Hivin for all!  All warks togither for gooid to them as is chozzen, and piked out fro’ th’ rubbidge!  Yah knaw whet t’ Scripture ses.’  And he began quoting several texts, referring us to chapters and verses where we might find them.

I, having vainly begged the wilful girl to rise and remove her wet things, left him preaching and her shivering, and betook myself to bed with little Hareton, who slept as fast as if everyone had been sleeping round him.  I heard Joseph read on a while afterwards; then I distinguished his slow step on the ladder, and then I dropped asleep.

Coming down somewhat later than usual, I saw, by the sunbeams piercing the chinks of the shutters, Miss Catherine still seated near the fireplace.  The house-door was ajar, too; light entered from its unclosed windows; Hindley had come out, and stood on the kitchen hearth, haggard and drowsy.

‘What ails you, Cathy?’ he was saying when I entered: ‘you look as dismal as a drowned whelp.  Why are you so damp and pale, child?’

‘I’ve been wet,’ she answered reluctantly, ‘and I’m cold, that’s all.’

‘Oh, she is naughty!’ I cried, perceiving the master to be tolerably sober.  ‘She got steeped in the shower of yesterday evening, and there she has sat the night through, and I couldn’t prevail on her to stir.’

Mr. Earnshaw stared at us in surprise.  ‘The night through,’ he repeated.  ‘What kept her up? not fear of the thunder, surely?  That was over hours since.’

Neither of us wished to mention Heathcliff’s absence, as long as we could conceal it; so I replied, I didn’t know how she took it into her head to sit up; and she said nothing.  The morning was fresh and cool; I threw back the lattice, and presently the room filled with sweet scents from the garden; but Catherine called peevishly to me, ‘Ellen, shut the window.  I’m starving!’  And her teeth chattered as she shrank closer to the almost extinguished embers.

‘She’s ill,’ said Hindley, taking her wrist; ‘I suppose that’s the reason she would not go to bed.  Damn it!  I don’t want to be troubled with more sickness here.  What took you into the rain?’

‘Running after t’ lads, as usuald!’ croaked Joseph, catching an opportunity from our hesitation to thrust in his evil tongue.  ‘If I war yah, maister, I’d just slam t’ boards i’ their faces all on ’em, gentle and simple!  Never a day ut yah’re off, but yon cat o’ Linton comes sneaking hither; and Miss Nelly, shoo’s a fine lass! shoo sits watching for ye i’ t’ kitchen; and as yah’re in at one door, he’s out at t’other; and, then, wer grand lady goes a-courting of her side!  It’s bonny behaviour, lurking amang t’ fields, after twelve o’ t’ night, wi’ that fahl, flaysome divil of a gipsy, Heathcliff!  They think I’m blind; but I’m noan: nowt ut t’ soart!—I seed young Linton boath coming and going, and I seed yah’ (directing his discourse to me), ‘yah gooid fur nowt, slattenly witch! nip up and bolt into th’ house, t’ minute yah heard t’ maister’s horse-fit clatter up t’ road.’

‘Silence, eavesdropper!’ cried Catherine; ‘none of your insolence before me!  Edgar Linton came yesterday by chance, Hindley; and it was I who told him to be off: because I knew you would not like to have met him as you were.’

‘You lie, Cathy, no doubt,’ answered her brother, ‘and you are a confounded simpleton!  But never mind Linton at present: tell me, were you not with Heathcliff last night?  Speak the truth, now.  You need not be afraid of harming him: though I hate him as much as ever, he did me a good turn a short time since that will make my conscience tender of breaking his neck.  To prevent it, I shall send him about his business this very morning; and after he’s gone, I’d advise you all to look sharp: I shall only have the more humour for you.’

‘I never saw Heathcliff last night,’ answered Catherine, beginning to sob bitterly: ‘and if you do turn him out of doors, I’ll go with him.  But, perhaps, you’ll never have an opportunity: perhaps, he’s gone.’  Here she burst into uncontrollable grief, and the remainder of her words were inarticulate.

Hindley lavished on her a torrent of scornful abuse, and bade her get to her room immediately, or she shouldn’t cry for nothing!  I obliged her to obey; and I shall never forget what a scene she acted when we reached her chamber: it terrified me.  I thought she was going mad, and I begged Joseph to run for the doctor.  It proved the commencement of delirium: Mr. Kenneth, as soon as he saw her, pronounced her dangerously ill; she had a fever.  He bled her, and he told me to let her live on whey and water-gruel, and take care she did not throw herself downstairs or out of the window; and then he left: for he had enough to do in the parish, where two or three miles was the ordinary distance between cottage and cottage.

Though I cannot say I made a gentle nurse, and Joseph and the master were no better, and though our patient was as wearisome and headstrong as a patient could be, she weathered it through.  Old Mrs. Linton paid us several visits, to be sure, and set things to rights, and scolded and ordered us all; and when Catherine was convalescent, she insisted on conveying her to Thrushcross Grange: for which deliverance we were very grateful.  But the poor dame had reason to repent of her kindness: she and her husband both took the fever, and died within a few days of each other.

Our young lady returned to us saucier and more passionate, and haughtier than ever.  Heathcliff had never been heard of since the evening of the thunder-storm; and, one day, I had the misfortune, when she had provoked me exceedingly, to lay the blame of his disappearance on her: where indeed it belonged, as she well knew.  From that period, for several months, she ceased to hold any communication with me, save in the relation of a mere servant.  Joseph fell under a ban also: he would speak his mind, and lecture her all the same as if she were a little girl; and she esteemed herself a woman, and our mistress, and thought that her recent illness gave her a claim to be treated with consideration.  Then the doctor had said that she would not bear crossing much; she ought to have her own way; and it was nothing less than murder in her eyes for any one to presume to stand up and contradict her.  From Mr. Earnshaw and his companions she kept aloof; and tutored by Kenneth, and serious threats of a fit that often attended her rages, her brother allowed her whatever she pleased to demand, and generally avoided aggravating her fiery temper.  He was rather too indulgent in humouring her caprices; not from affection, but from pride: he wished earnestly to see her bring honour to the family by an alliance with the Lintons, and as long as she let him alone she might trample on us like slaves, for aught he cared!  Edgar Linton, as multitudes have been before and will be after him, was infatuated: and believed himself the happiest man alive on the day he led her to Gimmerton Chapel, three years subsequent to his father’s death.

Much against my inclination, I was persuaded to leave Wuthering Heights and accompany her here. Little Hareton was nearly five years old, and I had just begun to teach him his letters.  We made a sad parting; but Catherine’s tears were more powerful than ours.  When I refused to go, and when she found her entreaties did not move me, she went lamenting to her husband and brother.  The former offered me munificent wages; the latter ordered me to pack up: he wanted no women in the house, he said, now that there was no mistress; and as to Hareton, the curate should take him in hand, by-and-by.  And so I had but one choice left: to do as I was ordered.  I told the master he got rid of all decent people only to run to ruin a little faster; I kissed Hareton, said good-by; and since then he has been a stranger: and it’s very queer to think it, but I’ve no doubt he has completely forgotten all about Ellen Dean, and that he was ever more than all the world to her and she to him!

* * * * *

At this point of the housekeeper’s story she chanced to glance towards the time-piece over the chimney; and was in amazement on seeing the minute-hand measure half-past one.  She would not hear of staying a second longer: in truth, I felt rather disposed to defer the sequel of her narrative myself.  And now that she is vanished to her rest, and I have meditated for another hour or two, I shall summon courage to go also, in spite of aching laziness of head and limbs.

CHAPTER X

A charming introduction to a hermit’s life!  Four weeks’ torture, tossing, and sickness!  Oh, these bleak winds and bitter northern skies, and impassable roads, and dilatory country surgeons!  And oh, this dearth of the human physiognomy! and, worse than all, the terrible intimation of Kenneth that I need not expect to be out of doors till spring!

Mr. Heathcliff has just honoured me with a call.  About seven days ago he sent me a brace of grouse—the last of the season.  Scoundrel!  He is not altogether guiltless in this illness of mine; and that I had a great mind to tell him.  But, alas! how could I offend a man who was charitable enough to sit at my bedside a good hour, and talk on some other subject than pills and draughts, blisters and leeches?  This is quite an easy interval.  I am too weak to read; yet I feel as if I could enjoy something interesting.  Why not have up Mrs. Dean to finish her tale?  I can recollect its chief incidents, as far as she had gone.  Yes: I remember her hero had run off, and never been heard of for three years; and the heroine was married.  I’ll ring: she’ll be delighted to find me capable of talking cheerfully.  Mrs. Dean came.

‘It wants twenty minutes, sir, to taking the medicine,’ she commenced.

‘Away, away with it!’ I replied; ‘I desire to have—’

‘The doctor says you must drop the powders.’

‘With all my heart!  Don’t interrupt me.  Come and take your seat here.  Keep your fingers from that bitter phalanx of vials.  Draw your knitting out of your pocket—that will do—now continue the history of Mr. Heathcliff, from where you left off, to the present day.  Did he finish his education on the Continent, and come back a gentleman? or did he get a sizar’s place at college, or escape to America, and earn honours by drawing blood from his foster-country? or make a fortune more promptly on the English highways?’

‘He may have done a little in all these vocations, Mr. Lockwood; but I couldn’t give my word for any.  I stated before that I didn’t know how he gained his money; neither am I aware of the means he took to raise his mind from the savage ignorance into which it was sunk: but, with your leave, I’ll proceed in my own fashion, if you think it will amuse and not weary you.  Are you feeling better this morning?’

‘Much.’

‘That’s good news.’

* * * * *

I got Miss Catherine and myself to Thrushcross Grange; and, to my agreeable disappointment, she behaved infinitely better than I dared to expect.  She seemed almost over-fond of Mr. Linton; and even to his sister she showed plenty of affection.  They were both very attentive to her comfort, certainly.  It was not the thorn bending to the honeysuckles, but the honeysuckles embracing the thorn.  There were no mutual concessions: one stood erect, and the others yielded: and who can be ill-natured and bad-tempered when they encounter neither opposition nor indifference?  I observed that Mr. Edgar had a deep-rooted fear of ruffling her humour.  He concealed it from her; but if ever he heard me answer sharply, or saw any other servant grow cloudy at some imperious order of hers, he would show his trouble by a frown of displeasure that never darkened on his own account.  He many a time spoke sternly to me about my pertness; and averred that the stab of a knife could not inflict a worse pang than he suffered at seeing his lady vexed.  Not to grieve a kind master, I learned to be less touchy; and, for the space of half a year, the gunpowder lay as harmless as sand, because no fire came near to explode it.  Catherine had seasons of gloom and silence now and then: they were respected with sympathising silence by her husband, who ascribed them to an alteration in her constitution, produced by her perilous illness; as she was never subject to depression of spirits before.  The return of sunshine was welcomed by answering sunshine from him.  I believe I may assert that they were really in possession of deep and growing happiness.

It ended.  Well, we must be for ourselves in the long run; the mild and generous are only more justly selfish than the domineering; and it ended when circumstances caused each to feel that the one’s interest was not the chief consideration in the other’s thoughts.  On a mellow evening in September, I was coming from the garden with a heavy basket of apples which I had been gathering.  It had got dusk, and the moon looked over the high wall of the court, causing undefined shadows to lurk in the corners of the numerous projecting portions of the building.  I set my burden on the house-steps by the kitchen-door, and lingered to rest, and drew in a few more breaths of the soft, sweet air; my eyes were on the moon, and my back to the entrance, when I heard a voice behind me say,—‘Nelly, is that you?’

It was a deep voice, and foreign in tone; yet there was something in the manner of pronouncing my name which made it sound familiar.  I turned about to discover who spoke, fearfully; for the doors were shut, and I had seen nobody on approaching the steps.  Something stirred in the porch; and, moving nearer, I distinguished a tall man dressed in dark clothes, with dark face and hair.  He leant against the side, and held his fingers on the latch as if intending to open for himself.  ‘Who can it be?’ I thought.  ‘Mr. Earnshaw?  Oh, no!  The voice has no resemblance to his.’

‘I have waited here an hour,’ he resumed, while I continued staring; ‘and the whole of that time all round has been as still as death.  I dared not enter.  You do not know me?  Look, I’m not a stranger!’

A ray fell on his features; the cheeks were sallow, and half covered with black whiskers; the brows lowering, the eyes deep-set and singular.  I remembered the eyes.

‘What!’ I cried, uncertain whether to regard him as a worldly visitor, and I raised my hands in amazement.  ‘What! you come back?  Is it really you?  Is it?’

‘Yes, Heathcliff,’ he replied, glancing from me up to the windows, which reflected a score of glittering moons, but showed no lights from within.  ‘Are they at home? where is she?  Nelly, you are not glad! you needn’t be so disturbed.  Is she here?  Speak!  I want to have one word with her—your mistress.  Go, and say some person from Gimmerton desires to see her.’

‘How will she take it?’ I exclaimed.  ‘What will she do?  The surprise bewilders me—it will put her out of her head!  And you are Heathcliff!  But altered!  Nay, there’s no comprehending it.  Have you been for a soldier?’

‘Go and carry my message,’ he interrupted, impatiently.  ‘I’m in hell till you do!’

He lifted the latch, and I entered; but when I got to the parlour where Mr. and Mrs. Linton were, I could not persuade myself to proceed.  At length I resolved on making an excuse to ask if they would have the candles lighted, and I opened the door.

They sat together in a window whose lattice lay back against the wall, and displayed, beyond the garden trees, and the wild green park, the valley of Gimmerton, with a long line of mist winding nearly to its top (for very soon after you pass the chapel, as you may have noticed, the sough that runs from the marshes joins a beck which follows the bend of the glen).  Wuthering Heights rose above this silvery vapour; but our old house was invisible; it rather dips down on the other side.  Both the room and its occupants, and the scene they gazed on, looked wondrously peaceful.  I shrank reluctantly from performing my errand; and was actually going away leaving it unsaid, after having put my question about the candles, when a sense of my folly compelled me to return, and mutter, ‘A person from Gimmerton wishes to see you ma’am.’

‘What does he want?’ asked Mrs. Linton.

‘I did not question him,’ I answered.

‘Well, close the curtains, Nelly,’ she said; ‘and bring up tea.  I’ll be back again directly.’

She quitted the apartment; Mr. Edgar inquired, carelessly, who it was.

‘Some one mistress does not expect,’ I replied.  ‘That Heathcliff—you recollect him, sir—who used to live at Mr. Earnshaw’s.’

‘What! the gipsy—the ploughboy?’ he cried.  ‘Why did you not say so to Catherine?’

‘Hush! you must not call him by those names, master,’ I said.  ‘She’d be sadly grieved to hear you.  She was nearly heartbroken when he ran off.  I guess his return will make a jubilee to her.’

Mr. Linton walked to a window on the other side of the room that overlooked the court.  He unfastened it, and leant out.  I suppose they were below, for he exclaimed quickly: ‘Don’t stand there, love!  Bring the person in, if it be anyone particular.’  Ere long, I heard the click of the latch, and Catherine flew up-stairs, breathless and wild; too excited to show gladness: indeed, by her face, you would rather have surmised an awful calamity.

‘Oh, Edgar, Edgar!’ she panted, flinging her arms round his neck.  ‘Oh, Edgar darling!  Heathcliff’s come back—he is!’  And she tightened her embrace to a squeeze.

‘Well, well,’ cried her husband, crossly, ‘don’t strangle me for that!  He never struck me as such a marvellous treasure.  There is no need to be frantic!’

‘I know you didn’t like him,’ she answered, repressing a little the intensity of her delight.  ‘Yet, for my sake, you must be friends now.  Shall I tell him to come up?’

‘Here,’ he said, ‘into the parlour?’

‘Where else?’ she asked.

He looked vexed, and suggested the kitchen as a more suitable place for him.  Mrs. Linton eyed him with a droll expression—half angry, half laughing at his fastidiousness.

‘No,’ she added, after a while; ‘I cannot sit in the kitchen.  Set two tables here, Ellen: one for your master and Miss Isabella, being gentry; the other for Heathcliff and myself, being of the lower orders.  Will that please you, dear?  Or must I have a fire lighted elsewhere?  If so, give directions.  I’ll run down and secure my guest.  I’m afraid the joy is too great to be real!’

She was about to dart off again; but Edgar arrested her.

You bid him step up,’ he said, addressing me; ‘and, Catherine, try to be glad, without being absurd.  The whole household need not witness the sight of your welcoming a runaway servant as a brother.’

I descended, and found Heathcliff waiting under the porch, evidently anticipating an invitation to enter.  He followed my guidance without waste of words, and I ushered him into the presence of the master and mistress, whose flushed cheeks betrayed signs of warm talking.  But the lady’s glowed with another feeling when her friend appeared at the door: she sprang forward, took both his hands, and led him to Linton; and then she seized Linton’s reluctant fingers and crushed them into his.  Now, fully revealed by the fire and candlelight, I was amazed, more than ever, to behold the transformation of Heathcliff.  He had grown a tall, athletic, well-formed man; beside whom my master seemed quite slender and youth-like.  His upright carriage suggested the idea of his having been in the army.  His countenance was much older in expression and decision of feature than Mr. Linton’s; it looked intelligent, and retained no marks of former degradation.  A half-civilised ferocity lurked yet in the depressed brows and eyes full of black fire, but it was subdued; and his manner was even dignified: quite divested of roughness, though stern for grace.  My master’s surprise equalled or exceeded mine: he remained for a minute at a loss how to address the ploughboy, as he had called him.  Heathcliff dropped his slight hand, and stood looking at him coolly till he chose to speak.

‘Sit down, sir,’ he said, at length.  ‘Mrs. Linton, recalling old times, would have me give you a cordial reception; and, of course, I am gratified when anything occurs to please her.’

‘And I also,’ answered Heathcliff, ‘especially if it be anything in which I have a part.  I shall stay an hour or two willingly.’

He took a seat opposite Catherine, who kept her gaze fixed on him as if she feared he would vanish were she to remove it.  He did not raise his to her often: a quick glance now and then sufficed; but it flashed back, each time more confidently, the undisguised delight he drank from hers.  They were too much absorbed in their mutual joy to suffer embarrassment.  Not so Mr. Edgar: he grew pale with pure annoyance: a feeling that reached its climax when his lady rose, and stepping across the rug, seized Heathcliff’s hands again, and laughed like one beside herself.

‘I shall think it a dream to-morrow!’ she cried.  ‘I shall not be able to believe that I have seen, and touched, and spoken to you once more.  And yet, cruel Heathcliff! you don’t deserve this welcome.  To be absent and silent for three years, and never to think of me!’

‘A little more than you have thought of me,’ he murmured.  ‘I heard of your marriage, Cathy, not long since; and, while waiting in the yard below, I meditated this plan—just to have one glimpse of your face, a stare of surprise, perhaps, and pretended pleasure; afterwards settle my score with Hindley; and then prevent the law by doing execution on myself.  Your welcome has put these ideas out of my mind; but beware of meeting me with another aspect next time!  Nay, you’ll not drive me off again.  You were really sorry for me, were you?  Well, there was cause.  I’ve fought through a bitter life since I last heard your voice; and you must forgive me, for I struggled only for you!’

‘Catherine, unless we are to have cold tea, please to come to the table,’ interrupted Linton, striving to preserve his ordinary tone, and a due measure of politeness.  ‘Mr. Heathcliff will have a long walk, wherever he may lodge to-night; and I’m thirsty.’

She took her post before the urn; and Miss Isabella came, summoned by the bell; then, having handed their chairs forward, I left the room.  The meal hardly endured ten minutes.  Catherine’s cup was never filled: she could neither eat nor drink.  Edgar had made a slop in his saucer, and scarcely swallowed a mouthful.  Their guest did not protract his stay that evening above an hour longer.  I asked, as he departed, if he went to Gimmerton?

‘No, to Wuthering Heights,’ he answered: ‘Mr. Earnshaw invited me, when I called this morning.’

Mr. Earnshaw invited him! and he called on Mr. Earnshaw!  I pondered this sentence painfully, after he was gone.  Is he turning out a bit of a hypocrite, and coming into the country to work mischief under a cloak?  I mused: I had a presentiment in the bottom of my heart that he had better have remained away.

About the middle of the night, I was wakened from my first nap by Mrs. Linton gliding into my chamber, taking a seat on my bedside, and pulling me by the hair to rouse me.

‘I cannot rest, Ellen,’ she said, by way of apology.  ‘And I want some living creature to keep me company in my happiness!  Edgar is sulky, because I’m glad of a thing that does not interest him: he refuses to open his mouth, except to utter pettish, silly speeches; and he affirmed I was cruel and selfish for wishing to talk when he was so sick and sleepy.  He always contrives to be sick at the least cross!  I gave a few sentences of commendation to Heathcliff, and he, either for a headache or a pang of envy, began to cry: so I got up and left him.’

‘What use is it praising Heathcliff to him?’ I answered.  ‘As lads they had an aversion to each other, and Heathcliff would hate just as much to hear him praised: it’s human nature.  Let Mr. Linton alone about him, unless you would like an open quarrel between them.’

‘But does it not show great weakness?’ pursued she.  ‘I’m not envious: I never feel hurt at the brightness of Isabella’s yellow hair and the whiteness of her skin, at her dainty elegance, and the fondness all the family exhibit for her.  Even you, Nelly, if we have a dispute sometimes, you back Isabella at once; and I yield like a foolish mother: I call her a darling, and flatter her into a good temper.  It pleases her brother to see us cordial, and that pleases me.  But they are very much alike: they are spoiled children, and fancy the world was made for their accommodation; and though I humour both, I think a smart chastisement might improve them all the same.’

‘You’re mistaken, Mrs. Linton,’ said I.  ‘They humour you: I know what there would be to do if they did not.  You can well afford to indulge their passing whims as long as their business is to anticipate all your desires.  You may, however, fall out, at last, over something of equal consequence to both sides; and then those you term weak are very capable of being as obstinate as you.’

‘And then we shall fight to the death, sha’n’t we, Nelly?’ she returned, laughing.  ‘No! I tell you, I have such faith in Linton’s love, that I believe I might kill him, and he wouldn’t wish to retaliate.’

I advised her to value him the more for his affection.

‘I do,’ she answered, ‘but he needn’t resort to whining for trifles.  It is childish and, instead of melting into tears because I said that Heathcliff was now worthy of anyone’s regard, and it would honour the first gentleman in the country to be his friend, he ought to have said it for me, and been delighted from sympathy.  He must get accustomed to him, and he may as well like him: considering how Heathcliff has reason to object to him, I’m sure he behaved excellently!’

‘What do you think of his going to Wuthering Heights?’ I inquired.  ‘He is reformed in every respect, apparently: quite a Christian: offering the right hand of fellowship to his enemies all around!’

‘He explained it,’ she replied.  ‘I wonder as much as you.  He said he called to gather information concerning me from you, supposing you resided there still; and Joseph told Hindley, who came out and fell to questioning him of what he had been doing, and how he had been living; and finally, desired him to walk in.  There were some persons sitting at cards; Heathcliff joined them; my brother lost some money to him, and, finding him plentifully supplied, he requested that he would come again in the evening: to which he consented.  Hindley is too reckless to select his acquaintance prudently: he doesn’t trouble himself to reflect on the causes he might have for mistrusting one whom he has basely injured.  But Heathcliff affirms his principal reason for resuming a connection with his ancient persecutor is a wish to install himself in quarters at walking distance from the Grange, and an attachment to the house where we lived together; and likewise a hope that I shall have more opportunities of seeing him there than I could have if he settled in Gimmerton.  He means to offer liberal payment for permission to lodge at the Heights; and doubtless my brother’s covetousness will prompt him to accept the terms: he was always greedy; though what he grasps with one hand he flings away with the other.’

‘It’s a nice place for a young man to fix his dwelling in!’ said I.  ‘Have you no fear of the consequences, Mrs. Linton?’

‘None for my friend,’ she replied: ‘his strong head will keep him from danger; a little for Hindley: but he can’t be made morally worse than he is; and I stand between him and bodily harm.  The event of this evening has reconciled me to God and humanity!  I had risen in angry rebellion against Providence.  Oh, I’ve endured very, very bitter misery, Nelly!  If that creature knew how bitter, he’d be ashamed to cloud its removal with idle petulance.  It was kindness for him which induced me to bear it alone: had I expressed the agony I frequently felt, he would have been taught to long for its alleviation as ardently as I.  However, it’s over, and I’ll take no revenge on his folly; I can afford to suffer anything hereafter!  Should the meanest thing alive slap me on the cheek, I’d not only turn the other, but I’d ask pardon for provoking it; and, as a proof, I’ll go make my peace with Edgar instantly.  Good-night!  I’m an angel!’

In this self-complacent conviction she departed; and the success of her fulfilled resolution was obvious on the morrow: Mr. Linton had not only abjured his peevishness (though his spirits seemed still subdued by Catherine’s exuberance of vivacity), but he ventured no objection to her taking Isabella with her to Wuthering Heights in the afternoon; and she rewarded him with such a summer of sweetness and affection in return as made the house a paradise for several days; both master and servants profiting from the perpetual sunshine.

Heathcliff—Mr. Heathcliff I should say in future—used the liberty of visiting at Thrushcross Grange cautiously, at first: he seemed estimating how far its owner would bear his intrusion.  Catherine, also, deemed it judicious to moderate her expressions of pleasure in receiving him; and he gradually established his right to be expected.  He retained a great deal of the reserve for which his boyhood was remarkable; and that served to repress all startling demonstrations of feeling.  My master’s uneasiness experienced a lull, and further circumstances diverted it into another channel for a space.

His new source of trouble sprang from the not anticipated misfortune of Isabella Linton evincing a sudden and irresistible attraction towards the tolerated guest.  She was at that time a charming young lady of eighteen; infantile in manners, though possessed of keen wit, keen feelings, and a keen temper, too, if irritated.  Her brother, who loved her tenderly, was appalled at this fantastic preference.  Leaving aside the degradation of an alliance with a nameless man, and the possible fact that his property, in default of heirs male, might pass into such a one’s power, he had sense to comprehend Heathcliff’s disposition: to know that, though his exterior was altered, his mind was unchangeable and unchanged.  And he dreaded that mind: it revolted him: he shrank forebodingly from the idea of committing Isabella to its keeping.  He would have recoiled still more had he been aware that her attachment rose unsolicited, and was bestowed where it awakened no reciprocation of sentiment; for the minute he discovered its existence he laid the blame on Heathcliff’s deliberate designing.

We had all remarked, during some time, that Miss Linton fretted and pined over something.  She grew cross and wearisome; snapping at and teasing Catherine continually, at the imminent risk of exhausting her limited patience.  We excused her, to a certain extent, on the plea of ill-health: she was dwindling and fading before our eyes.  But one day, when she had been peculiarly wayward, rejecting her breakfast, complaining that the servants did not do what she told them; that the mistress would allow her to be nothing in the house, and Edgar neglected her; that she had caught a cold with the doors being left open, and we let the parlour fire go out on purpose to vex her, with a hundred yet more frivolous accusations, Mrs. Linton peremptorily insisted that she should get to bed; and, having scolded her heartily, threatened to send for the doctor.  Mention of Kenneth caused her to exclaim, instantly, that her health was perfect, and it was only Catherine’s harshness which made her unhappy.

‘How can you say I am harsh, you naughty fondling?’ cried the mistress, amazed at the unreasonable assertion.  ‘You are surely losing your reason.  When have I been hash, tell me?’

‘Yesterday,’ sobbed Isabella, ‘and now!’

‘Yesterday!’ said her sister-in-law.  ‘On what occasion?’

‘In our walk along the moor: you told me to ramble where I pleased, while you sauntered on with Mr. Heathcliff!’

‘And that’s your notion of harshness?’ said Catherine, laughing.  ‘It was no hint that your company was superfluous?  We didn’t care whether you kept with us or not; I merely thought Heathcliff’s talk would have nothing entertaining for your ears.’

‘Oh, no,’ wept the young lady; ‘you wished me away, because you knew I liked to be there!’

‘Is she sane?’ asked Mrs. Linton, appealing to me.  ‘I’ll repeat our conversation, word for word, Isabella; and you point out any charm it could have had for you.’

‘I don’t mind the conversation,’ she answered: ‘I wanted to be with—’

‘Well?’ said Catherine, perceiving her hesitate to complete the sentence.

‘With him: and I won’t be always sent off!’ she continued, kindling up.  ‘You are a dog in the manger, Cathy, and desire no one to be loved but yourself!’

‘You are an impertinent little monkey!’ exclaimed Mrs. Linton, in surprise.  ‘But I’ll not believe this idiotcy!  It is impossible that you can covet the admiration of Heathcliff—that you consider him an agreeable person!  I hope I have misunderstood you, Isabella?’

‘No, you have not,’ said the infatuated girl.  ‘I love him more than ever you loved Edgar, and he might love me, if you would let him!’

‘I wouldn’t be you for a kingdom, then!’ Catherine declared, emphatically: and she seemed to speak sincerely.  ‘Nelly, help me to convince her of her madness.  Tell her what Heathcliff is: an unreclaimed creature, without refinement, without cultivation; an arid wilderness of furze and whinstone.  I’d as soon put that little canary into the park on a winter’s day, as recommend you to bestow your heart on him!  It is deplorable ignorance of his character, child, and nothing else, which makes that dream enter your head.  Pray, don’t imagine that he conceals depths of benevolence and affection beneath a stern exterior!  He’s not a rough diamond—a pearl-containing oyster of a rustic: he’s a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man.  I never say to him, “Let this or that enemy alone, because it would be ungenerous or cruel to harm them;” I say, “Let them alone, because I should hate them to be wronged:” and he’d crush you like a sparrow’s egg, Isabella, if he found you a troublesome charge.  I know he couldn’t love a Linton; and yet he’d be quite capable of marrying your fortune and expectations: avarice is growing with him a besetting sin.  There’s my picture: and I’m his friend—so much so, that had he thought seriously to catch you, I should, perhaps, have held my tongue, and let you fall into his trap.’

Miss Linton regarded her sister-in-law with indignation.

‘For shame! for shame!’ she repeated, angrily.  ‘You are worse than twenty foes, you poisonous friend!’

‘Ah! you won’t believe me, then?’ said Catherine.  ‘You think I speak from wicked selfishness?’

‘I’m certain you do,’ retorted Isabella; ‘and I shudder at you!’

‘Good!’ cried the other.  ‘Try for yourself, if that be your spirit: I have done, and yield the argument to your saucy insolence.’—

‘And I must suffer for her egotism!’ she sobbed, as Mrs. Linton left the room.  ‘All, all is against me: she has blighted my single consolation.  But she uttered falsehoods, didn’t she?  Mr. Heathcliff is not a fiend: he has an honourable soul, and a true one, or how could he remember her?’

‘Banish him from your thoughts, Miss,’ I said.  ‘He’s a bird of bad omen: no mate for you.  Mrs. Linton spoke strongly, and yet I can’t contradict her.  She is better acquainted with his heart than I, or any one besides; and she never would represent him as worse than he is.  Honest people don’t hide their deeds.  How has he been living? how has he got rich? why is he staying at Wuthering Heights, the house of a man whom he abhors?  They say Mr. Earnshaw is worse and worse since he came.  They sit up all night together continually, and Hindley has been borrowing money on his land, and does nothing but play and drink: I heard only a week ago—it was Joseph who told me—I met him at Gimmerton: “Nelly,” he said, “we’s hae a crowner’s ‘quest enow, at ahr folks’.  One on ’em ’s a’most getten his finger cut off wi’ hauding t’ other fro’ stickin’ hisseln loike a cawlf.  That’s maister, yeah knaw, ’at ’s soa up o’ going tuh t’ grand ’sizes.  He’s noan feared o’ t’ bench o’ judges, norther Paul, nur Peter, nur John, nur Matthew, nor noan on ’em, not he!  He fair likes—he langs to set his brazened face agean ’em!  And yon bonny lad Heathcliff, yah mind, he’s a rare ’un.  He can girn a laugh as well ’s onybody at a raight divil’s jest.  Does he niver say nowt of his fine living amang us, when he goes to t’ Grange?  This is t’ way on ’t:—up at sun-down: dice, brandy, cloised shutters, und can’le-light till next day at noon: then, t’fooil gangs banning und raving to his cham’er, makking dacent fowks dig thur fingers i’ thur lugs fur varry shame; un’ the knave, why he can caint his brass, un’ ate, un’ sleep, un’ off to his neighbour’s to gossip wi’ t’ wife.  I’ course, he tells Dame Catherine how her fathur’s goold runs into his pocket, and her fathur’s son gallops down t’ broad road, while he flees afore to oppen t’ pikes!”  Now, Miss Linton, Joseph is an old rascal, but no liar; and, if his account of Heathcliff’s conduct be true, you would never think of desiring such a husband, would you?’

‘You are leagued with the rest, Ellen!’ she replied.  ‘I’ll not listen to your slanders.  What malevolence you must have to wish to convince me that there is no happiness in the world!’

Whether she would have got over this fancy if left to herself, or persevered in nursing it perpetually, I cannot say: she had little time to reflect.  The day after, there was a justice-meeting at the next town; my master was obliged to attend; and Mr. Heathcliff, aware of his absence, called rather earlier than usual.  Catherine and Isabella were sitting in the library, on hostile terms, but silent: the latter alarmed at her recent indiscretion, and the disclosure she had made of her secret feelings in a transient fit of passion; the former, on mature consideration, really offended with her companion; and, if she laughed again at her pertness, inclined to make it no laughing matter to her.  She did laugh as she saw Heathcliff pass the window.  I was sweeping the hearth, and I noticed a mischievous smile on her lips.  Isabella, absorbed in her meditations, or a book, remained till the door opened; and it was too late to attempt an escape, which she would gladly have done had it been practicable.

‘Come in, that’s right!’ exclaimed the mistress, gaily, pulling a chair to the fire.  ‘Here are two people sadly in need of a third to thaw the ice between them; and you are the very one we should both of us choose.  Heathcliff, I’m proud to show you, at last, somebody that dotes on you more than myself.  I expect you to feel flattered.  Nay, it’s not Nelly; don’t look at her!  My poor little sister-in-law is breaking her heart by mere contemplation of your physical and moral beauty.  It lies in your own power to be Edgar’s brother!  No, no, Isabella, you sha’n’t run off,’ she continued, arresting, with feigned playfulness, the confounded girl, who had risen indignantly.  ‘We were quarrelling like cats about you, Heathcliff; and I was fairly beaten in protestations of devotion and admiration: and, moreover, I was informed that if I would but have the manners to stand aside, my rival, as she will have herself to be, would shoot a shaft into your soul that would fix you for ever, and send my image into eternal oblivion!’

‘Catherine!’ said Isabella, calling up her dignity, and disdaining to struggle from the tight grasp that held her, ‘I’d thank you to adhere to the truth and not slander me, even in joke!  Mr. Heathcliff, be kind enough to bid this friend of yours release me: she forgets that you and I are not intimate acquaintances; and what amuses her is painful to me beyond expression.’

As the guest answered nothing, but took his seat, and looked thoroughly indifferent what sentiments she cherished concerning him, she turned and whispered an earnest appeal for liberty to her tormentor.

‘By no means!’ cried Mrs. Linton in answer.  ‘I won’t be named a dog in the manger again.  You shall stay: now then!  Heathcliff, why don’t you evince satisfaction at my pleasant news?  Isabella swears that the love Edgar has for me is nothing to that she entertains for you.  I’m sure she made some speech of the kind; did she not, Ellen?  And she has fasted ever since the day before yesterday’s walk, from sorrow and rage that I despatched her out of your society under the idea of its being unacceptable.’

‘I think you belie her,’ said Heathcliff, twisting his chair to face them.  ‘She wishes to be out of my society now, at any rate!’

And he stared hard at the object of discourse, as one might do at a strange repulsive animal: a centipede from the Indies, for instance, which curiosity leads one to examine in spite of the aversion it raises.  The poor thing couldn’t bear that; she grew white and red in rapid succession, and, while tears beaded her lashes, bent the strength of her small fingers to loosen the firm clutch of Catherine; and perceiving that as fast as she raised one finger off her arm another closed down, and she could not remove the whole together, she began to make use of her nails; and their sharpness presently ornamented the detainer’s with crescents of red.

‘There’s a tigress!’ exclaimed Mrs. Linton, setting her free, and shaking her hand with pain.  ‘Begone, for God’s sake, and hide your vixen face!  How foolish to reveal those talons to him.  Can’t you fancy the conclusions he’ll draw?  Look, Heathcliff! they are instruments that will do execution—you must beware of your eyes.’

‘I’d wrench them off her fingers, if they ever menaced me,’ he answered, brutally, when the door had closed after her.  ‘But what did you mean by teasing the creature in that manner, Cathy?  You were not speaking the truth, were you?’

‘I assure you I was,’ she returned.  ‘She has been dying for your sake several weeks, and raving about you this morning, and pouring forth a deluge of abuse, because I represented your failings in a plain light, for the purpose of mitigating her adoration.  But don’t notice it further: I wished to punish her sauciness, that’s all.  I like her too well, my dear Heathcliff, to let you absolutely seize and devour her up.’

‘And I like her too ill to attempt it,’ said he, ‘except in a very ghoulish fashion.  You’d hear of odd things if I lived alone with that mawkish, waxen face: the most ordinary would be painting on its white the colours of the rainbow, and turning the blue eyes black, every day or two: they detestably resemble Linton’s.’

‘Delectably!’ observed Catherine.  ‘They are dove’s eyes—angel’s!’

‘She’s her brother’s heir, is she not?’ he asked, after a brief silence.

‘I should be sorry to think so,’ returned his companion.  ‘Half a dozen nephews shall erase her title, please heaven!  Abstract your mind from the subject at present: you are too prone to covet your neighbour’s goods; remember this neighbour’s goods are mine.’

‘If they were mine, they would be none the less that,’ said Heathcliff; ‘but though Isabella Linton may be silly, she is scarcely mad; and, in short, we’ll dismiss the matter, as you advise.’

From their tongues they did dismiss it; and Catherine, probably, from her thoughts.  The other, I felt certain, recalled it often in the course of the evening.  I saw him smile to himself—grin rather—and lapse into ominous musing whenever Mrs. Linton had occasion to be absent from the apartment.

I determined to watch his movements.  My heart invariably cleaved to the master’s, in preference to Catherine’s side: with reason I imagined, for he was kind, and trustful, and honourable; and she—she could not be called opposite, yet she seemed to allow herself such wide latitude, that I had little faith in her principles, and still less sympathy for her feelings.  I wanted something to happen which might have the effect of freeing both Wuthering Heights and the Grange of Mr. Heathcliff quietly; leaving us as we had been prior to his advent.  His visits were a continual nightmare to me; and, I suspected, to my master also.  His abode at the Heights was an oppression past explaining.  I felt that God had forsaken the stray sheep there to its own wicked wanderings, and an evil beast prowled between it and the fold, waiting his time to spring and destroy.

 

 

 

  第一章

  一八○一年。我刚刚拜访过我的房东回来——就是那个将要给我惹麻烦的孤独的邻居。这儿可真是一个美丽的乡间!在整个英格兰境内,我不相信我竟能找到这样一个能与尘世的喧嚣完全隔绝的地方,一个厌世者的理想的天堂。而希刺克厉夫和我正是分享这儿荒凉景色的如此合适的一对。一个绝妙的人!在我骑着马走上前去时,看见他的黑眼睛缩在眉毛下猜忌地瞅着我。而在我通报自己姓名时.他把手指更深地藏到背心袋里,完全是一副不信任我的神气。刹那间,我对他产生了亲切之感,而他却根本未察觉到。

  “希刺克厉夫先生吗?”我说。

  回答是点一下头。

  “先生,我是洛克乌德,您的新房客。我一到这儿就尽可能马上来向您表示敬意,希望我坚持要租画眉田庄没什么使您不方便。昨天我听说您想——”。

  “画眉田庄是我自己的,先生。”他打断了我的话,闪避着。“只要是我能够阻止,我总是不允许任何人给我什么不方便的。进来吧!”

  这一声“进来”是咬着牙说出来的,表示了这样一种情绪,“见鬼!”甚至他靠着的那扇大门也没有对这句许诺表现出同情而移动;我想情况决定我接受这样的邀请:我对一个仿佛比我还更怪僻的人颇感兴趣。

  他看见我的马的胸部简直要碰上栅栏了,竟也伸手解开了门链,然后阴郁地领我走上石路,在我们到了院子里的时候,就叫着:

  “约瑟夫,把洛克乌德先生的马牵走。拿点酒来。”

  “我想他全家只有这一个人吧,”那句双重命令引起了这种想法。“怪不得石板缝间长满了草,而且只有牛替他们修剪篱笆哩。”

  约瑟夫是个上年纪的人,不,简直是个老头——也许很老了,虽然还很健壮结实。“求主保佑我们!”他接过我的马时,别别扭扭地不高兴地低声自言自语着,同时又那么愤怒地盯着我的脸,使我善意地揣度他一定需要神来帮助才能消化他的饭食,而他那虔诚的突然喊叫跟我这突然来访是毫无关系的。

  呼啸山庄是希刺克厉夫先生的住宅名称。“呼啸”是一个意味深长的内地形容词,形容这地方在风暴的天气里所受的气压骚动。的确,他们这儿一定是随时都流通着振奋精神的纯洁空气。从房屋那头有几棵矮小的枞树过度倾斜,还有那一排瘦削的荆棘都向着一个方向伸展枝条,仿佛在向太阳乞讨温暖,就可以猜想到北风吹过的威力了。幸亏建筑师有先见把房子盖得很结实:窄小的窗子深深地嵌在墙里,墙角有大块的凸出的石头防护着。

  在跨进门槛之前,我停步观赏房屋前面大量的稀奇古怪的雕刻,特别是正门附近,那上面除了许多残破的怪兽和不知羞的小男孩外,我还发现“一五○○”年代和“哈里顿·恩萧”的名字。我本想说一两句话,向这倨傲无礼的主人请教这地方的简短历史,但是从他站在门口的姿势看来,是要我赶快进去,要不就干脆离开,而我在参观内部之前也并不想增加他的不耐烦。

  不用经过任何穿堂过道,我们径直进了这家的起坐间:他们颇有见地索性把这里叫作“屋子”。一般所谓屋子是把厨房和大厅都包括在内的;但是我认为在呼啸山庄里,厨房是被迫撤退到另一个角落里去了;至少我辨别出在顶里面有喋喋的说话声和厨房用具的磕碰声;而且在大壁炉里我并没看出烧煮或烘烤食物的痕迹,墙上也没有铜锅和锡滤锅之类在闪闪发光。倒是在屋子的一头,在一个大橡木橱柜上摆着一叠叠的白镴盘子;以及一些银壶和银杯散置着,一排排,垒得高高的直到屋顶,的确它们射出的光线和热气映照得灿烂夺目。橱柜从未上过漆;它的整个构造任凭人去研究。只是有一处,被摆满了麦饼、牛羊腿和火腿之类的木架遮盖住了。壁炉台上有杂七杂八的老式难看的枪,还有一对马枪;并且,为了装饰起见,还有三个画得俗气的茶叶罐靠边排列着。地是平滑的白石铺砌的;椅子是高背的,老式的结构,涂着绿色;一两把笨重的黑椅子藏在暗处。橱柜下面的圆拱里,躺着一条好大的、猪肝色的母猎狗,一窝唧唧叫着的小狗围着它,还有些狗在别的空地走动。

  要是这屋子和家具属于一个质朴的北方农民,他有着顽强的面貌,以及穿短裤和绑腿套挺方便的粗壮的腿,那倒没有什么稀奇。这样的人,坐在他的扶手椅上,一大杯啤酒在面前的圆桌上冒着白沫,只要你在饭后适当的时间,在这山中方圆五六英里区域内走一趟,总可以看得到的。但是希刺克厉夫先生和他的住宅,以及生活方式,却形成一种古怪的对比。在外貌上他像一个黑皮肤的吉普赛人,在衣着和风度上他又像个绅士——也就是,像乡绅那样的绅士:也许有点邋遢,可是懒拖拖的并不难看,因为他有一个挺拔、漂亮的身材;而且有点郁郁不乐的样子。可能有人会怀疑,他因某种程度的缺乏教养而傲慢无礼;我内心深处却产生了同情之感,认为他并不是这类人。我直觉地知道他的冷淡是由于对矫揉造作——对互相表示亲热感到厌恶。他把爱和恨都掩盖起来,至于被人爱或恨,他又认为是一种鲁莽的事。不,我这样下判断可太早了:我把自己的特性慷慨地施与他了。希刺克厉夫先生遇见一个算是熟人时,便把手藏起来,也许另有和我所想的完全不同的原因。但愿我这天性可称得上是特别的吧。我亲爱的母亲总说我永远不会有个舒服的家。直到去年夏天我自己才证实了真是完全不配有那样一个家。

  我正在海边享受着一个月的好天气的当儿,一下子认识了一个迷人的人儿——在她还没注意到我的时候,在我眼中她就是一个真正的女神。我从来没有把我的爱情说出口;可是,如果神色可以传情的话,连傻子也猜得出我在没命地爱她。后来她懂得我的意思了,就回送我一个秋波——一切可以想象得到的顾盼中最甜蜜的秋波。我怎么办呢?我羞愧地忏悔了——冷冰冰地退缩,像个蜗牛似的;她越看我,我就缩得越冷越远。直到最后这可怜的天真的孩子不得不怀疑她自己的感觉,她自以为猜错了,感到非常惶惑,便说服她母亲撤营而去。由于我古怪的举止,我得了个冷酷无情的名声;

  多么冤枉啊,那只有我自己才能体会。

  我在炉边的椅子上坐下,我的房东就去坐对面的一把。为了消磨这一刻的沉默,我想去摩弄那只母狗。它才离开那窝崽子,正在凶狠地偷偷溜到我的腿后面,呲牙咧嘴地,白牙上馋涎欲滴。我的爱抚却使它从喉头里发出一声长长的狺声。

  “你最好别理这只狗,”希刺克厉夫先生以同样的音调咆哮着,跺一下脚来警告它。“它是不习惯受人娇惯的——它不是当作玩意儿养的。”接着,他大步走到一个边门,又大叫:

  “约瑟夫!”

  约瑟夫在地窖的深处咕哝着,可是并不打算上来。因此他的主人就下地窖去找他,留下我和那凶暴的母狗和一对狰狞的蓬毛守羊狗面面相觑。这对狗同那母狗一起对我的一举一动都提防着,监视着。我并不想和犬牙打交道,就静坐着不动;然而,我以为它们不会理解沉默的蔑视,不幸我又对这三只狗挤挤眼,作作鬼脸,我脸上的某种变化如此激怒了狗夫人,它忽然暴怒,跳上我的膝盖。我把它推开,赶忙拉过一张桌子作挡箭牌。这举动惹起了公愤;六只大小不同、年龄不一的四脚恶魔,从暗处一齐窜到屋中。我觉得我的脚跟和衣边尤其是攻击的目标,就一面尽可能有效地用火钳来挡开较大的斗士,一面又不得不大声求援,请这家里的什么人来重建和平。

  希刺克厉夫和他的仆人迈着烦躁的懒洋洋的脚步,爬上了地窖的梯阶:我认为他们走得并不比平常快一秒钟,虽然炉边已经给撕咬和狂吠闹得大乱。幸亏厨房里有人快步走来:一个健壮的女人,她卷着衣裙,光着胳臂,两颊火红,挥舞着一个煎锅冲到我们中间——而且运用那个武器和她的舌头颇为见效,很奇妙地平息了这场风暴。等她的主人上场时,她已如大风过后却还在起伏的海洋一般,喘息着。

  “见鬼,到底是怎么回事?”他问。就在我刚才受到那样不礼貌的接待后,他还这样瞅着我,可真难以忍受。

  “是啊,真是见鬼!”我咕噜着。“先生,有鬼附体的猪群,①还没有您那些畜生凶呢。您倒不如把一个生客丢给一群老虎的好!”

  ①有鬼附体的猪群——见《圣经·新约·路加福音》第八章第三十一节到第三十三节:“鬼就央求耶稣,不要吩咐他们到无底坑里去。那里有一大群猪,在山上吃食。鬼央求耶稣,准他们进入猪里去。耶稣准了他们。鬼就从那人身上出来,进入猪里去。于是那群猪闯下山崖,投在湖里淹死了。”

  “对于不碰它们的人,它们不会多事的。”他说,把酒瓶放在我面前,又把搬开的桌子归回原位。

  “狗是应该警觉的。喝杯酒吗?”

  “不,谢谢您。”

  “没给咬着吧?”

  “我要是给咬着了,我可要在这咬人的东西上打上我的印记呢。”

  希刺克厉夫的脸上现出笑容。

  “好啦,好啦,”他说,“你受惊啦,洛克乌德先生。喏,喝点酒。这所房子里客人极少,所以我愿意承认,我和我的狗都不大知道该怎么接待客人。先生,祝你健康!”

  我鞠躬,也回敬了他;我开始觉得为了一群狗的失礼而坐在那儿生气,可有点傻。此外,我也讨厌让这个家伙再取笑我,因为他的兴致已经转到取乐上来了。也许他也已察觉到,得罪一个好房客是愚蠢的,语气便稍稍委婉些,提起了他以为我会有兴趣的话头——谈到我目前住处的优点与缺点。我发现他对我们所触及的话题,是非常有才智的;在我回家之前,我居然兴致勃勃,提出明天再来拜访。而他显然并不愿我再来打搅。但是,我还是要去。我感到我自己跟他比起来是多么擅长交际啊,这可真是惊人。

 

 

 第二章

  昨天下午又冷又有雾。我想就在书房炉边消磨一下午,不想踩着杂草污泥到呼啸山庄了。

  但是,吃过午饭(注意——我在十二点与一点钟之间吃午饭,而可以当作这所房子的附属物的管家婆,一位慈祥的太太却不能,或者并不愿理解我请求在五点钟开饭的用意),在我怀着这个懒惰的想法上了楼,迈进屋子的时候,看见一个女仆跪在地上,身边是扫帚和煤斗。她正在用一堆堆煤渣封火,搞起一片弥漫的灰尘。这景象立刻把我赶回头了。我拿了帽子,走了四里路,到达了希刺克厉夫的花园口口,刚好躲过了一场今年初降的鹅毛大雪。

  在那荒凉的山顶上,土地由于结了一层黑冰而冻得坚硬,冷空气使我四肢发抖。我弄不开门链,就跳进去,顺着两边种着蔓延的醋栗树丛的石路跑去。我白白地敲了半天门,一直敲到我的手指骨都痛了,狗也狂吠起来。

  “倒霉的人家!”我心里直叫,“只为你这样无礼待客,就该一辈子跟人群隔离。我至少还不会在白天把门闩住。我才不管呢——我要进去!”如此决定了。我就抓住门闩,使劲摇它。苦脸的约瑟夫从谷仓的一个圆窗里探出头来。

  “你干吗?”他大叫。“主人在牛栏里,你要是找他说话,就从这条路口绕过去。”

  “屋里没人开门吗?”我也叫起来。

  “除了太太没有别人。你就是闹腾到夜里,她也不会开。”

  “为什么?你就不能告诉她我是谁吗,呃,约瑟夫?”

  “别找我!我才不管这些闲事呢,”这个脑袋咕噜着,又不见了。

  雪开始下大了。我握住门柄又试一回。这时一个没穿外衣的年轻人,扛着一根草耙,在后面院子里出现了。他招呼我跟着他走,穿过了一个洗衣房和一片铺平的地,那儿有煤棚、抽水机和鸽笼,我们终于到了我上次被接待过的那间温暖的、热闹的大屋子。煤、炭和木材混合在一起燃起的熊熊炉火,使这屋子放着光彩。在准备摆上丰盛晚餐的桌旁,我很高兴地看到了那位“太太”,以前我从未料想到会有这么一个人存在的。我鞠躬等候,以为她会叫我坐下。她望望我,往她的椅背一靠,不动,也不出声。

  “天气真坏!”我说,“希刺克厉夫太太,恐怕大门因为您的仆人偷懒而大吃苦头,我费了好大劲才使他们听见我敲门!”

  她死不开口。我瞪眼——她也瞪眼。反正她总是以一种冷冷的、漠不关心的神气盯住我,使人十分窘,而且不愉快。

  “坐下吧,”那年轻人粗声粗气地说,“他就要来了。”

  我服从了;轻轻咳了一下,叫唤那恶狗朱诺。临到第二次会面,它总算赏脸,摇起尾巴尖,表示认我是熟人了。

  “好漂亮的狗!”我又开始说话。“您是不是打算不要这些小的呢,夫人?”

  “那些不是我的,”这可爱可亲的女主人说,比希刺克厉夫本人所能回答的腔调还要更冷淡些。

  “啊,您所心爱的是在这一堆里啦!”我转身指着一个看不清楚的靠垫上那一堆像猫似的东西,接着说下去。

  “谁会爱这些东西那才怪呢!”她轻蔑地说。

  倒霉,原来那是堆死兔子。我又轻咳一声,向火炉凑近些,又把今晚天气不好的话评论一通。

  “你本来就不该出来。”她说,站起来去拿壁炉台上的两个彩色茶叶罐。

  她原先坐在光线被遮住的地方,现在我把她的全身和面貌都看得清清楚楚。她苗条,显然还没有过青春期。挺好看的体态,还有一张我生平从未有幸见过的绝妙的小脸蛋。五官纤丽,非常漂亮。淡黄色的卷发,或者不如说是金黄色的,松松地垂在她那细嫩的颈上。至于眼睛,要是眼神能显得和悦些,就要使人无法抗拒了。对我这容易动情的心说来倒是常事,因为它们所表现的只是在轻蔑与近似绝望之间的一种情绪,而在那张脸上看见那样的眼神是特别不自然的。

  她简直够不到茶叶罐。我动了一动,想帮她一下。她猛地扭转身向我,像守财奴看见别人打算帮他数他的金子一样。

  “我不要你帮忙,”她怒气冲冲地说,“我自己拿得到。”

  “对不起!”我连忙回答。

  “是请你来吃茶的吗?”她问,把一条围裙系在她那干净的黑衣服上,就这样站着,拿一匙茶叶正要往茶壶里倒。

  “我很想喝杯茶。”我回答。

  “是请你来的吗?”她又问。

  “没有,”我说,勉强笑一笑。“您正好请我喝茶。”

  她把茶叶丢回去,连匙带茶叶,一起收起来,使性地又坐在椅子上。她的前额蹙起,红红的下嘴唇撅起,像一个小孩要哭似的。

  同时,那年轻人已经穿上了一件相当破旧的上衣,站在炉火前面,用眼角瞅着我,简直好像我们之间有什么未了的死仇似的。我开始怀疑他到底是不是一个仆人了。他的衣着和言语都显得没有教养,完全没有在希刺克厉夫先生和他太太身上所能看到的那种优越感。他那厚厚的棕色卷发乱七八糟,他的胡子像头熊似的布满面颊,而他的手就像普通工人的手那样变成褐色;可是,他的态度很随便,几乎有点傲慢,而且一点没有家仆伺候女主人那谨慎殷勤的样子。既然缺乏关于他的地位的明白证据,我认为最好还是不去注意他那古怪的举止。五分钟以后,希刺克厉夫进来了,多少算是把我从那不舒服的境况中解救出来了。

  “您瞧,先生,说话算数,我是来啦!”我叫道,装着高兴的样子,“我担心要给这天气困住半个钟头呢,您能不能让我在这会儿避一下。”

  “半个钟头?”他说,抖落他衣服上的雪片,“我奇怪你为什么要挑这么个大雪天出来逛荡。你知道你是在冒着迷路和掉在沼泽地里的危险吗?熟悉这些荒野的人,往往还会在这样的晚上迷路的。而且我可以告诉你,目前天气是不会转好的。”

  “或许我可以在您的仆人中间找一位带路人吧,他可以在田庄住到明天早上——您能给我一位吗?”

  “不,我不能。”

  “啊呀!真的!那我只得靠我自己的本事啦。”

  “哼!”

  “你是不是该准备茶啦?”穿着破衣服的人问,他那恶狠狠的眼光从我身上转到那年轻的太太那边。

  “请他喝吗?”她问希刺克厉夫。

  “准备好,行吗?”这就是回答,他说得这么蛮横,竟把我吓了一跳。这句话的腔调露出他真正的坏性子。我再也不想称希刺克厉夫为一个绝妙的人了。茶预备好了之后,他就这样请我,“现在,先生,把你的椅子挪过来。”于是我们全体,包括那粗野的年轻人在内,都拉过椅子来围桌而坐。在我们品尝食物时,四下里一片严峻的沉默。

  我想,如果是我引起了这块乌云,那我就该负责努力驱散它。他们不能每天都这么阴沉缄默地坐着吧。无论他们有多坏的脾气,也不可能每天脸上都带着怒容吧。

  “奇怪的是,”我在喝完一杯茶,接过第二杯的当儿开始说,“奇怪的是习惯如何形成我们的趣味和思想,很多人就不能想象,像您,希刺克厉夫先生,所过的这么一种与世完全隔绝的生活里也会有幸福存在。可是我敢说,有您一家人围着您,还有您可爱的夫人作为您的家庭与您的心灵上的主宰——”

  “我可爱的夫人!”他插嘴,脸上带着几乎是恶魔似的讥笑。“她在哪儿——我可爱的夫人?”

  “我的意思是说希刺克厉夫夫人,您的太太。”

  “哦,是啦——啊!你是说甚至在她的肉体死去了以后,她的灵魂还站在家神的岗位上,而且守护着呼啸山庄的产业。

  是不是这样?”

  我察觉我搞错了,便企图改正它。我本来该看出双方的年龄相差太大,不像是夫妻。一个大概四十了,正是精力健壮的时期,男人在这时期很少会怀着女孩子们是由于爱情而嫁给他的妄想。那种梦是留给我们到老年聊以自慰的。另一个人呢,望上去却还不到十七岁。

  于是一个念头在我心上一闪,“在我胳臂肘旁边的那个傻瓜,用盆喝茶,用没洗过的手拿面包吃,也许就是她的丈夫:希刺克厉夫少爷,当然是罗。这就是合理的后果:只因为她全然不知道天下还有更好的人,她就嫁给了那个乡下佬!憾事——我必须当心,我可别引起她悔恨她的选择。”最后的念头仿佛有点自负,其实倒也不是。我旁边的人在我看来近乎令人生厌。根据经验,我知道我多少还有点吸引力。

  “希刺克厉夫太太是我的儿媳妇,”希刺克厉夫说,证实了我的猜测。他说着,掉过头以一种特别的眼光向她望着:一种憎恨的眼光,除非是他脸上的肌肉生得极反常,不会像别人一样地表现出他心灵的语言。

  “啊,当然——我现在看出来啦:您才是这慈善的天仙的有福气的占有者哩。”我转过头来对我旁边那个人说。

  比刚才更糟:这年轻人脸上通红,握紧拳头,简直想要摆出动武的架势。可是他仿佛马上又镇定了,只冲着我咕噜了一句粗野的骂人的话,压下了这场风波,这句话,我假装没注意。

  “不幸你猜得不对,先生!”我的主人说,“我们两个都没那种福分占有你的好天仙,她的男人死啦。我说过她是我的儿媳妇,因此,她当然是嫁给我的儿子的了。”

  “这位年轻人是——”

  “当然不是我的儿子!”

  希刺克厉夫又微笑了,好像把那个粗人算作他的儿子,简直是把玩笑开得太莽撞了。

  “我的姓名是哈里顿·恩萧,”另一个人吼着,“而且我劝你尊敬它!”

  “我没有表示不尊敬呀。”这是我的回答,心里暗笑他报出自己的姓名时的庄严神气。

  他死盯着我,盯得我都不愿意再回瞪他了,唯恐我会耐不住给他个耳光或是笑出声来。我开始感到在这个愉快的一家人中间,我的确是碍事。那种精神上的阴郁气氛不止是抵销,而且是压倒了我四周明亮的物质上的舒适。我决心在第三次敢于再来到这屋里时可要小心谨慎。

  吃喝完毕,谁也没说句应酬话,我就走到一扇窗子跟前去看看天气。我见到一片悲惨的景象:黑夜提前降临,天空和群山混杂在一团寒冽的旋风和使人窒息的大雪中。

  “现在没有带路人,我恐怕不可能回家了,”我不禁叫起来。

  “道路已经埋上了,就是还露出来的话,我也看不清往哪儿迈步啦。”

  “哈里顿,把那十几只羊赶到谷仓的走廊上去,要是整夜留在羊圈就得给它们盖点东西,前面也要挡块木板。”希刺克厉夫说。

  “我该怎么办呢?”我又说,更焦急了。

  没有人搭理我。我回头望望,只见约瑟夫给狗送进一桶粥,希刺克厉夫太太俯身向着火,烧着火柴玩;这堆火柴是她刚才把茶叶罐放回炉台时碰下来的。约瑟夫放下了他的粥桶之后,找碴似地把这屋子浏览一通,扯着沙哑的喉咙喊起来:

  “我真奇怪别人都出去了,你怎么能就闲在那儿站着!可你就是没出息,说也没用——你一辈子也改不了,就等死后见魔鬼,跟你妈一样!”

  我一时还以为这一番滔滔不绝是对我而发的。我大为愤怒,便向着这老流氓走去,打算把他踢出门外。但是,希刺克厉夫夫人的回答止住了我。

  “你这胡扯八道的假正经的老东西!”她回答,“你提到魔鬼的名字时,你就不怕给活捉吗?我警告你不要惹我,不然我就要特别请它把你勾去。站住!瞧瞧这儿,约瑟夫,”她接着说,并从书架上拿出一本大黑书,“我要给你看看我学魔术已经进步了多少,不久我就可以完全精通。那条红牛不是偶然死掉的,而你的风湿病还不能算作天赐的惩罚!”

  “啊,恶毒,恶毒!”老头喘息着,“求主拯救我们脱离邪恶吧!”

  “不,混蛋!你是个上帝抛弃的人——滚开,不然我要狠狠地伤害你啦!我要把你们全用蜡和泥捏成模型;谁先越过我定的界限,我就要——我不说他要倒什么样的霉——可是,瞧着吧!去,我可在瞅着你呢。”

  这个小女巫那双美丽的眼睛里添上一种嘲弄的恶毒神气。约瑟夫真的吓得直抖,赶紧跑出去,一边跑一边祷告,还嚷着“恶毒!”我想她的行为一定是由于无聊闹着玩玩的。现在只有我们俩了,我想对她诉诉苦。

  “希刺克厉夫太太,”我恳切地说,“您一定得原谅我麻烦您。我敢于这样是因为,您既有这么一张脸,我敢说您一定也心好。请指出几个路标,我也好知道回家的路。我一点也不知道该怎么走,就跟您不知道怎么去伦敦一样!”

  “顺你来的路走回去好啦,”她回答,仍然安坐在椅子上,面前一支蜡烛,还有那本摊开的大书。“很简单的办法,可也是我所能提的顶稳当的办法。”

  “那么,要是您以后听说我给人发现已经死在泥沼或雪坑里,您的良心就不会低声说您也有部分的过错吗?”

  “怎么会呢?我又不能送你走。他们不许我走到花园墙那头的。”

  “您送我!在这样一个晚上,为了我的方便就是请您迈出这个门槛,那我也于心不忍啊!”我叫道,“我要您告诉我怎么走,不是领我走。要不然就劝劝希刺克厉夫先生给我派一位带路人吧。”

  “派谁呢?只有他自己,恩萧,齐拉,约瑟夫,我。你要哪一个呢?”

  “庄上没有男孩子吗?”

  “没有,就这些人。”

  “那就是说我不得不住在这儿啦!”

  “那你可以跟你的主人商量。我不管。”

  “我希望这是对你的一个教训,以后别再在这山间瞎逛荡。”从厨房门口传来希刺克厉夫的严厉的喊声:“至于住在这儿,我可没有招待客人的设备。你要住,就跟哈里顿或者约瑟夫睡一张床吧!”

  “我可以睡在这间屋子里的一把椅子上。”我回答。

  “不行,不行!生人总是生人,不论他是穷是富。我不习惯允许任何人进入我防不到的地方!”这没有礼貌的坏蛋说。

  受了这个侮辱,我的忍耐到头了。我十分愤慨地骂了一声,在他的身边擦过,冲到院子里,匆忙中正撞着恩萧。那时是这么漆黑,以至我竟找不到出口;我正在乱转,又听见他们之间有教养的举止的另一例证:起初那年轻人好像对我还友好。

  “我陪他走到公园那儿去吧,”他说。

  “你陪他下地狱好了!”他的主人或是他的什么亲属叫道。

  “那么谁看马呢,呃?”

  “一个人的性命总比一晚上没有人照应马重要些。总得有个人去的。”希刺克厉夫夫人轻轻地说,比我所想的和善多了。

  “不要你命令我!”哈里顿反攻了。“你要是重视他,顶好别吭声。”

  “那么我希望他的鬼魂缠住你,我也希望希刺克厉夫先生再也找不到一个房客,直等田庄全毁掉!”她尖刻地回答。

  “听吧,听吧,她在咒他们啦!”约瑟夫咕噜着,我正向他走去。

  他坐在说话听得见的近处,借着一盏提灯的光在挤牛奶,我就毫无礼貌地把提灯抢过来,大喊着我明天把它送回来,便奔向最近的一个边门。

  “主人,主人,他把提灯偷跑啦!”这老头一面大喊,一面追我。“喂,咬人的!喂,狗!喂,狼!逮住他,逮住他!”

  一开小门,两个一身毛的妖怪便扑到我的喉头上,把我弄倒了,把灯也弄灭了。同时希刺克厉夫与哈里顿一起放声大笑,这大大地激怒着我,也使我感到羞辱。幸而,这些畜生倒好像只想伸伸爪子,打呵欠,摇尾巴,并不想把我活活吞下去。但是它们也不容我再起来,我就不得不躺着等它们的恶毒的主人高兴在什么时候来解救我。我帽子也丢了,气得直抖。我命令这些土匪放我出去——再多留我一分钟,就要让他们遭殃——我说了好多不连贯的、恐吓的、要报复的话,措词之恶毒,颇有李尔王①之风。

  ①李尔王——“Kinglear”莎士比亚的名剧之一,剧名即以主人公李尔王为名。

  我这剧烈的激动使我流了大量的鼻血,可是希刺克厉夫还在笑,我也还在骂,要不是旁边有个人比我有理性些,比我的款待者仁慈些,我真不知道怎么下台。这人是齐拉,健壮的管家婆。她终于挺身而出探问这场战斗的真相。她以为他们当中必是有人对我下了毒手。她不敢攻击她的主人,就向那年轻的恶棍开火了。

  “好啊,恩萧先生,”她叫道,“我不知道你下次还要干出什么好事!我们是要在我们家门口谋害人吗?我瞧在这家里我可再也住不下去啦——瞧瞧这可怜的小子,他都要噎死啦!喂,喂!你可不能这样走。进来,我给你治治。好啦,别动。”

  她说着这些话,就猛然把一桶冰冷的水顺着我的脖子上一倒,又把我拉进厨房里。希刺克厉夫先生跟在后面,他的偶尔的欢乐很快地消散,又恢复他的习惯的阴郁了。

  我难过极了,而且头昏脑胀,因此不得不在他的家里借宿一宵。他叫齐拉给我一杯白兰地,随后就进屋去了。她呢,对我不幸的遭遇安慰一番,而且遵主人之命,给了我一杯白兰地,看见我略略恢复了一些,便引我去睡了。

    

 

 

 第三章

  她把我领上楼时,劝我把蜡烛藏起来,而且不要出声。因为她的主人对于她领我去住的那间卧房有一种古怪的看法,而且从来也不乐意让任何人在那儿睡。我问是什么原因,她回答说不知道。她在这里才住了一两年,他们又有这么多古怪事,她也就不去多问了。

  我自己昏头昏脑,也问不了许多,插上了门,向四下里望着想找张床。全部家具只有一把椅子,一个衣橱,还有一个大橡木箱。靠近顶上挖了几个方洞,像是马车的窗子。我走近这个东西往里瞧,才看出是一种特别样子的老式卧榻,设计得非常方便,足可以省去家里每个人占一间屋的必要。事实上,它形成一个小小的套间。它里面的一个窗台刚好当张桌子用。我推开嵌板的门,拿着蜡烛进去,把嵌板门又合上,觉得安安稳稳,躲开了希刺克厉夫以及其他人的戒备。

  在我放蜡烛的窗台上有几本发霉了的书堆在一个角落里,窗台上的油漆面也被字迹划得乱七八糟。但是那些字迹只是用各种字体写的一个名字,有大有小——凯瑟琳·恩萧,有的地方又改成凯瑟琳·希刺克厉夫,跟着又是凯瑟琳·林惇。

  我无精打采地把头靠在窗子上,连续地拼着凯瑟琳·恩萧——希刺克厉夫——林惇,一直到我的眼睛合上为止。可是还没有五分钟,黑暗中就有一片亮得刺眼的白闪闪的字母,仿佛鬼怪活现——空中充满了许多凯瑟琳。我跳起来,想驱散这突然冒出的名字,发现我的烛芯靠在一本古老的书上,使那靠着的地方发出一种烤牛皮的气味。我剪掉烛芯,灭了它,在寒冷与持续的恶心交攻之下,很不舒服,便坐起来,把这本烤坏的书打开,放在膝上。那是一本圣经,印的是细长字体,有很浓的霉味。书前面的白纸写着——“凯瑟琳·恩萧,她的书”,还注了一个日期,那是在二十来年以前了。我阖上它,又拿起一本,又一本,直到我把它们都检查过一遍。凯瑟琳的藏书是经过选择的,而且这些书损坏的情况证明它们曾经被人一再地读过,虽然读得不完全得当,几乎没有一章躲过钢笔写的评注——至少,像是评注——凡是印刷者留下的每一块空白全涂满了。有的是不连贯的句子,其他的是正规日记的形式,出于小孩子那种字形未定的手笔,写得乱七八糟。在一张空余的书页上面(也许一发现它还把它当作宝贝呢)我看见了我的朋友约瑟夫的一幅绝妙的漫画像,大为高兴,——画得粗糙,可是有力。我对于这位素昧平生的凯瑟琳顿时发生兴趣,我便开始辨认她那已褪色的难认的怪字了。

  “倒霉的礼拜天!”底下一段这样开头。“但愿我父亲还能再回来。辛德雷是个可恶的代理人——他对希刺克厉夫的态度太凶。——希和我要反抗了——今天晚上我们要进行第一步。

  “整天下大雨,我们不能到教堂去,因此约瑟夫非要在阁楼里聚会不可。于是正当辛德雷和他的妻子在楼下舒舒服服地烤火——随便做什么,我敢说他们决不会读圣经,——而希刺克厉夫、我和那不幸的乡巴佬却受命拿着我们的祈祷书爬上楼。我们排成一排,坐在一口袋粮食上,又哼又哆嗦。希望约瑟夫也哆嗦,这样他为了他自己也会给我们少讲点道了。妄想!做礼拜整整拖了三个钟头。可是我的哥哥看见我们下楼的时候,居然还有脸喊叫,‘什么,已经完啦?’从前一到星期天晚上,还准许我们玩玩,只要我们不太吵,现在我们只要偷偷一笑,就得罚站墙角啦!

  “‘你们忘记这儿有个主人啦,’这暴君说,‘谁先惹我发脾气,我就把他毁掉!我坚决要求完全的肃静。啊,孩子!是你么?弗兰西斯,亲爱的,你走过来时揪揪他的头发,我听见他捏手指头响呢。’弗兰西斯痛快地揪揪他的头发,然后走过来坐在她丈夫的膝上。他们就在那儿,像两个小孩似的,整个钟点地又接吻又胡扯——那种愚蠢的甜言蜜语连我们都应该感到羞耻。我们在柜子的圆拱里面尽量把自己弄得挺舒服。我刚把我们的餐巾结在一起,把它挂起来当作幕布,忽然约瑟夫有事正从马房进来。他把我的手工活扯下来,打我耳光,嘎嘎叫着——

  “‘主人才入土,安息日还没有过完,福音的声音还在你们耳朵里响,你们居然敢玩!你们好不害臊!坐下来,坏孩子!只要你们肯看,有的是好书。坐下来,想想你们的灵魂吧!’

  “说了这番话,他强迫我们坐好,使我们能从远处的炉火那边得来一线暗光,好让我们看他塞给我们的那没用的经文。我受不了这个差事。我提起我这本脏书的书皮哗啦一下,使劲地把它扔到狗窝里去,赌咒说我恨善书。希刺克厉夫把他那本也扔到同一个地方。跟着是一场大闹。

  “‘辛德雷少爷!’我们的牧师大叫,‘少爷,快来呀!凯蒂小姐把《救世盔》的书皮子撕下来啦,希刺克厉夫使劲踩《走向毁灭的广阔道路》的第一部分!你让他们就这样下去可不得了。唉!换了老头子的话可要好好地抽他们一顿——可他不在啦!’

  “辛德雷从他的炉边天堂赶了来,抓住我们俩,一个抓领子,另一个抓胳臂,把我们都丢到后厨房去。约瑟夫断言在那儿‘老尼克’①一定会把我们活捉的。我们受到如此帮助之后,便各自找个角落静等它降临。我从书架上伸手摸到了这本书和一瓶墨水,便把门推开一点,漏进点亮光,我就写字消遣了二十分钟。可是我的同伴不耐烦了,他建议我们可以披上挤牛奶女人的外套,到旷野上跑一跑。一个怪有意思的建议——那么,要是那个坏脾气的老头进来,他也会相信他的预言实现啦——在雨里我们也不会比在这儿更湿更冷的。”

  ①老尼克——Old Nick,即恶魔。

  我猜想凯瑟琳实现了她的计划,因为下一句说的是另一件事,她伤心起来了。

  “我做梦也没想到辛德雷会让我这么哭!”她写着,“我头痛,痛得我不能睡在枕头上。可是我还是不能不哭。可怜的希刺克厉夫!辛德雷骂他是流氓,再也不许他跟我们一起坐,一起吃啦。而且他说,不许他和我在一起玩,又吓唬说要是我们违背命令,就把他撵出去。还怪我们的父亲(他怎么敢呀?)待希太宽厚了,还发誓说要把他降到应有的地位去。”

  我对着这字迹模糊的书页开始打盹了,眼睛从手稿转到印的字上。我看见一个红颜色的花字标题——“七十乘七,与第七十一的第一条。杰别斯·伯兰德罕牧师在吉默吞飕的教堂宣讲的一篇神学论文。”在我糊里糊涂地绞尽脑汁猜想杰别斯·伯兰德罕牧师将如何发挥他这个题目的时候,我却倒在床上睡着了。咳,这倒霉的茶和坏脾气的影响啊!还能有什么足以使我度过这么可怕的一夜呢?自从我学会吃苦以来,我记不起有哪一次是能和这一夜相比的。

  我开始做梦,几乎在我还没忘记自己在哪里的时候就开始作梦了。我觉得是到早晨了,我往回家的路上走,有约瑟夫带路。一路上,雪有好几码深。在我们挣扎着向前走的时候,我的同伴不停地责备我,惹得我心烦。他骂我不带一根朝山进香的拐杖,告诉我不带拐杖就永远也进不了家,还得意地舞动着一根大头棍棒,我明白这就是所谓的拐杖了。当时我认为需要这么一个武器才能进自己的家,那是荒谬的。跟着一个新的念头一闪。我并不是去那儿,我们是在长途跋涉去听那有名的杰别斯·伯兰德罕讲“七十乘七”的经文,而不论约瑟夫,或是牧师,或是我要犯了这“第七十一的第一条”,就要被人当众揭发,而且被教会除名。

  我们来到了教堂。我平日散步时真的走过那儿两三回。它在两山之间的一个山谷里:一个高出地面的山谷靠近一片沼泽,据说那儿泥炭的湿气对存放在那儿的几具死尸足以产生防腐作用。房顶至今尚完好,但是这儿教士的收入每年只有二十镑,外带一所有两间屋的屋子,而且眼看恐怕就要决定只给一间了,所以没有一个教士愿意担当牧羊人的责任,特别是传说他的“羊群”宁可饿死他,也不愿从他们自己腰包里多掏出一分钱来养活他。但是,在我的梦里,杰别斯有专心听讲的满会堂会众。他讲道了——老天爷呀!什么样的一篇讲道呀,共分四百九十节,每一节完全等于一篇普通的讲道,每一节讨论一种罪过!我不知道他从哪儿搜索出来这么些罪过。他对于讲解辞句有他独到的方法,仿佛教友必然时时刻刻会犯不同的种种罪过。这些罪过的性质极其古怪:是我以前从没想象过的一些古怪离奇的罪过。

  啊,我是多么疲倦啊!我是怎样地翻腾,打呵欠,打盹,又清醒过来!我是怎样掐自己,扎自己,揉眼睛,站起来,又坐下,而且用胳膊肘碰约瑟夫,要他告诉我他有没有讲完的时候。我是注定要听完的了。最后,他讲到“第七十一的第一条”。正在这当口,我不由自主地站起来,痛责杰别斯·伯兰德罕是个犯了那种没有一个基督徒能够饶恕的罪过的罪人。

  “先生,”我叫道,“坐在这四堵墙壁中间,我已经一连气儿忍受而且原谅了你这篇说教的四百九十个题目。有七十个七次我拿起我的帽子,打算离去。——有七十个七次你硬逼着我又坐下。这第四百九十一可叫人受不了啦。信教的难友们,揍他呀!把他拉下来,把他捣烂,让这个知道有他这个人的地方从此再也见不到他吧!”

  “你就是罪人!”一阵严肃的静默之后,杰别斯从他的坐垫上欠身大叫。“七十个七次你张大嘴作怪相——七十个七次我和我的灵魂商量着——看啊,这是人类的弱点,这个也是可以赦免的!第七十一的第一条来啦。弟兄们,把写定的裁判在他身上执行吧。衪①所有的圣徒有这种光荣的!”

  

  ①衪——He,指“神”而言。对上帝(神)表示尊敬,故将第一个字母大写。在中国,教徒言及上帝往往写“衪”。

  话才落音,全体会众举起他们的朝山拐杖,一起向我冲来。我没有武器用来自卫,便开始扭住约瑟夫,离我最近也最凶猛的行凶者,抢他的手杖。有人潮汇集之中,好多根棍子交叉起来,对我而来的打击却落在别人的脑袋上。马上整个教堂乒乒乓乓响成一片。每个人都对他邻近的人动起手来。而伯兰德罕也不甘心闲着,便在讲坛板壁上使劲来一阵猛敲,好发泄他的热心,声音好响,最后竟惊醒了我,使我说不出来的轻松。到底是什么东西令人联想那极大的骚扰呢?在这场吵闹中是谁扮演杰别斯的角色呢?只不过是在狂风悲叹而过时,一棵枞树的枝子触到了我的窗格,它的干果在玻璃窗面上碰得嘎嘎作响而已!我满怀疑虑地倾听了一会;查清骚扰得我不安的就是它,然后翻身又睡了,又作梦了:可能的话,这梦比先前的那个更不愉快。

  这一回,我记得我是躺在那个橡木的套间里。我清清楚楚地听见风雪交加;我也听见那枞树枝子重复着那戏弄人的声音,而且也知道这是什么原因。可是它使我太烦了,因此我决定,如果可能的话,把这声音止住。我觉得我起了床,并且试着去打开那窗子。窗钩是焊在钩环里的——这情况是我在醒时就看见了的,可是又忘了。“不管怎么样,我非止住它不可!”我咕噜着,用拳头打穿了玻璃,伸出一个胳臂去抓那搅人的树。我的手指头没抓到它,却碰着了一只冰凉小手的手指头!梦魇的恐怖压倒了我,我极力把胳臂缩回来,可是那只手却拉住不放,一个极忧郁的声音抽泣着:“让我进去——让我进去!”“你是谁?”我问,同时拚命想把手挣脱。

  “凯瑟琳·林惇,”那声音颤抖着回答(我为什么想到林惇?我有二十遍念到林惇时都念成恩萧了)。“我回家来啦,我在旷野上走迷路啦!”在她说话时,我模模糊糊地辨认出一张小孩的脸向窗里望。恐怖使我狠了心,发现想甩掉那个人是没有用的,就把她的手腕拉到那个破了的玻璃面上,来回地擦着,直到鲜血滴下来,沾湿了床单。可她还是哀哭着,“让我进去!”而且还是紧紧抓住我,简直要把我吓疯了。“我怎么能够呢?”我终于说。“如果你要我让你进来,先放开我!”手指松开了。我把自己的手从窗洞外抽回,赶忙把书堆得高高的抵住窗子,捂住耳朵不听那可怜的祈求,捂了有一刻钟以上。可是等到我再听,那悲惨的呼声还继续哀叫着!“走开!”我喊着,“就是你求我二十年,我也绝不让你进来。”“已经二十年啦,”这声音哭着说,“二十年啦。我已经作了二十年的流浪人啦!”接着,外面开始了一个轻微的刮擦声,那堆书也挪动了,仿佛有人把它推开似的。我想跳起来,可是四肢动弹不得,于是在惊骇中大声喊叫。使我狼狈的是我发现这声喊叫并非虚幻。一阵匆忙的脚步声走近我的卧房门口。有人使劲把门推开,一道光从床顶的方洞外微微照进来。我坐着还在哆嗦,并且在揩着我额上的汗。这闯进来的人好像迟疑不前,自己咕噜着。最后他轻轻地说:“有人在这儿吗?”显然并不期望有人答话。我想最好还是承认我在这儿吧,因为我听出希刺克厉夫的口音,唯恐如果我不声不响,他还要进一步搜索的。这样想着,我就翻身推开嵌板。我这行动所产生的影响将使我久久不能忘记。

  希刺克厉夫站在门口,穿着衬衣衬裤,拿着一支蜡烛,烛油直滴到他的手指上,脸色苍白得像他身后的墙一样。那橡木门第一声轧的一响吓得他像是触电一样:手里的蜡烛跳出来有几尺远,他激动得这么厉害,以至于他连拾也拾不起来。

  “只不过是你的客人在这儿罢了,先生。”我叫出声来,省得他更暴露出胆怯样子而使他丢掉面子。“我作了一个可怕的恶梦,不幸在睡着时叫起来了。我很抱歉我打搅了你。”

  “啊,上帝惩罚你,洛克乌德先生!但愿你在——”我的主人开始说,把蜡烛放在一张椅子上,因为他发现不可能拿着它不晃。“谁把你带到这间屋子里来的?”他接着说,并把指甲掐进他的手心,磨着牙齿,为的是制止腭骨的颤动。“是谁带你来的?我真想把他们就在这会儿撵出门去!”

  “是你的佣人,齐拉,”我回答,跳到地板上,急急忙忙穿衣服。“你撵,我也不管,希刺克厉夫先生。她活该,我猜想她是打算利用我来再证明一下这地方闹鬼罢了。咳,是闹鬼——满屋是妖魔鬼怪!我对你说,你是有理由把它关起来的。凡是在这么一个洞里睡过觉的人是不会感谢你的!”

  “你是什么意思?”希刺克厉夫问道,“你在干吗?既然你已经在这儿了,就躺下,睡完这一夜!可是,看在老天的份上!别再发出那种可怕的叫声啦。那没法叫人原谅,除非你的喉咙正在给人切断!”

  “要是那个小妖精从窗子进来了,她大概就会把我掐死的!”我回嘴说。“我不预备再受你那些好客的祖先们的迫害了。杰别斯·伯兰德罕牧师是不是你母亲的亲戚?还有那个疯丫头,凯瑟琳·林惇,或是恩萧,不管她姓什么吧——她一定是个容易变心的——恶毒的小灵魂!她告诉我这二十年来她就在地面上流浪——我不怀疑,她正是罪有应得啊!’

  这些话还没落音,我立刻想起那本书上希刺克厉夫与凯瑟琳两个名字的联系,这点我完全忘了,这时才醒过来。我为我的粗心脸红,可是,为了表示我并不觉察到我的冒失,我赶紧加一句,“事实是,先生,前半夜我在——”说到这儿我又顿时停住了——我差点说出“阅读那些旧书”,那就表明我不但知道书中印刷的内容,也知道那些用笔写出的内容了。因此,我纠正自己,这样往下说——“在拼读刻在窗台上的名字。一种很单调的工作,打算使我睡着,像数数目似的,或是——”

  “你这样对我滔滔不绝,到底是什么意思?”希刺克厉夫大吼一声,蛮性发作。“怎么——你怎么敢在我的家里?——天呀!他这样说话必是发疯啦!”他愤怒地敲着他的额头。

  我不知道是跟他抬杠好,还是继续解释好。可是他仿佛大受震动,我都可怜他了,于是继续说我的梦,肯定说我以前绝没有听过“凯瑟琳·林惇”这名字,可是念得过多才产生了一个印象,当我不能再约束我的想象时,这印象就化为真人了。希刺克厉夫在我说话的时候,慢慢地往床后靠,最后坐下来差不多是在后面隐藏起来了。但是,听他那不规则的上气不接下气的呼吸,我猜想他是拚命克制过分强烈的情感。我不想让他看出我已觉察出了他处在矛盾中,就继续梳洗,发出很大的声响,又看看我的表,自言自语地抱怨夜长。

  “还没到三点钟哪!我本来想发誓说已经六点了,时间在这儿停滞不动啦:我们一定是八点钟就睡了!”

  “在冬天总是九点睡,总是四点起床,”我的主人说,压住一声呻吟。看他胳臂的影子的动作,我猜想他从眼里抹去一滴眼泪。“洛克乌德先生,”他又说,“你可以到我屋里去。你这么早下楼也妨碍别人,你这孩子气的大叫已经把我的睡魔赶掉了。”

  “我也一样。”我回答。“我要在院子里走走,等到天亮我就走。你不必怕我再来打搅。我这想交友寻乐的毛病现在治好了,不管是在乡间或在城里。一个头脑清醒的人应该发现跟自己作伴就够了。”

  “愉快的作伴!”希刺克厉夫咕噜着,“拿着蜡烛,你爱去哪儿就去吧。我就来找你。不过,别到院子里去,狗都没拴住。大厅里——朱诺在那儿站岗,还有——不,你只能在楼梯和过道那儿溜达。可是,你去吧!我过两分钟就来。”

  我服从了,就离开了这间卧室。当时不知道那狭窄的小屋通到哪里,就只好还站在那儿,不料却无意亲眼看见我的房东做出一种迷信的动作,这很奇怪,看来他不过是表面上有头脑罢了。

  他上了床,扭开窗子,一边开窗,一边涌出压抑不住的热泪。“进来吧!进来吧!”他抽泣着。“凯蒂,来吧!啊,来呀——再来一次!啊!我的心爱的!这回听我的话吧,凯蒂,最后一次!”幽灵显示出幽灵素有的反复无常,它偏偏不来!只有风雪猛烈地急速吹过,甚至吹到我站的地方,而且吹灭了蜡烛。

  在这突然涌出的悲哀中,竟有这样的痛苦伴随着这段发狂的话,以致我对他的怜悯之情使我忽视了他举止的愚蠢。我避开了,一面由于自己听到了他这番话而暗自生气,一面又因自己诉说了我那荒唐的恶梦而烦躁不安,因为就是那梦产生了这种悲恸。至于为什么会产生,我就不懂了。我小心地下楼,到了后厨房,那儿有一星火苗,拨拢在一起,使我点着了蜡烛。没有一点动静,只有一只斑纹灰猫从灰烬里爬出来,怨声怨气地咪唔一声向我致敬。

  两条长凳,摆成半圆形,几乎把炉火围起来了。我躺在一条凳子上,老母猫跳上了另一条。我们两个都在打盹,不料有人来捣乱,那就是约瑟夫放下一个木梯,它经过一个活门直通阁楼里:我猜想这就是他上升阁楼之路了。他向着我拨弄起来的火苗狠狠地望了一眼,把猫从它的高座下撵下来,自己安坐在空出的位子上,开始了把烟叶填进三寸长的烟斗里的动作。我在他的圣地出现,显然被他看作是羞于提及的莽撞事情。他默默地把烟管递到嘴里,胳臂交叉着,喷云吐雾。我让他享受安逸,不打搅他。他吸完最后一口,深深地吁出一口气,站起来,像走进来时那样庄严地又走出去了。

  跟着有人踏着轻快的脚步进来了;现在我张开口正要说早安,可又闭上了,敬礼未能完成,因为哈里顿·恩萧正在SottoVoce①作他的早祷,也就是说他在屋角搜寻一把铲子或是铁锹去铲除积雪时,他碰到每样东西都要对它发出一串的咒骂。他向凳子后面溜了一眼,张大鼻孔,认为对我用不着客气,就像对我那猫伴一样。看他作的准备,我猜他允许我走了,我离开我的硬座,打算跟他走。他注意到这点,就用他的铲子头戳戳一扇黑门,不出声的表示如果我要改变住处,就非走这儿不可。

  

  ①意大利文,意为“偷偷地低声”。

  那扇门通到大厅,女人们已经在那儿走动了:齐拉用一只巨大的风箱把火苗吹上烟囱;希刺克厉夫夫人,跪在炉边,借着火光读着一本书。她用手遮挡着火炉的热气,使它不伤她的眼睛,仿佛很专心地读着。只有在骂佣人不该把火星弄到她身上来,或者不时推开一只总是用鼻子向她脸上凑近的狗的时候才停止阅读。我很惊奇地看见希刺克厉夫也在那儿。他站在火边,背朝着我。由于刚刚对可怜的齐拉发过一场脾气,她时不时地放下工作,拉起围裙角,发出气愤的哼哼声。

  “还有你,你这没出息的——”我进去时,他正转过来对他的儿媳妇发作,并且在形容词后面加个无伤的词儿,如鸭呀,羊呀,可是往往什么也不加,只用一个“——”来代表了。“你又在那儿,搞你那些无聊的把戏啦!人家都能挣饭吃——你就只靠我!把你那废物丢开,找点事做!你老是在我眼前使我烦,你要得报应的——你听见没有,该死的贱人!”

  “我会把我的废物丢开,因为如果我拒绝,你还是可以强迫我丢的。”那少妇回答,合上她的书,把它丢在一张椅子上。

  “可你就是咒掉了舌头,我也是除了我愿意作的事以外,别的什么我都不干!”

  希刺克厉夫举起他的手,说话的人显然熟悉那只手的份量,马上跳到一个较安全的远点的地方。我无心观赏一场猫和狗的打架,便轻快地走向前去,好像是很想在炉边取暖,完全没理会这场中断了的争吵似的。双方都还有足够的礼貌,总算暂时停止了进一步的敌对行为。希刺克厉夫不知不觉地把拳头放在他的口袋里。希刺克厉夫夫人噘着嘴,坐到远远的一张椅子那儿,在我待在那儿的一段时间里,她果然依照她的话,扮演一座石像。我没有待多久。我谢绝与他们进早餐。等到曙光初放,我就抓紧机会,逃到外面的自由的空气里,它现在已是清爽、宁静而又寒冷得像块无形的冰一样了。

  我还没有走到花园的尽头,我的房东就喊住了我,他要陪我走过旷野。幸亏他陪我,因为整个山脊仿佛一片波涛滚滚的白色海洋。它的起伏并不指示出地面的凸凹不平:至少,许多坑是被填平了;而且整个蜿蜒的丘陵——石矿的残迹——都从我昨天走过时在我心上所留下的地图中抹掉了。我曾注意到在路的一边,每隔六七码就有一排直立的石头,一直延续到荒原的尽头。这些石头都竖立着,涂上石灰,是为了在黑暗中标志方向的;也是为了碰上像现在这样的一场大雪把两边的深沿和较坚实的小路弄得混淆不清时而设的。但是,除了零零落落看得见这儿那儿有个泥点以外,这些石头存在的痕迹全消失了。当我以为我是正确地沿着蜿蜒的道路向前走时,我的同伴却时不时地需要警告我向左或向右转。

  我们很少交谈,他在画眉园林门口站住,说我到这儿就不会走错了。我们的告别仅限于匆忙一鞠躬,然后我就径向前去。相信我自己有本事,因为守门人的住处还没赁出去。从大门到田庄是两英里,我相信我给走成四英里了。由于在树林里迷了路,又陷在雪坑里被雪埋到齐脖子:那种困难景况只有经历过的人才能领会。总之,不论我怎么样的乱荡,在我进家时,钟正敲十二下。这指出从呼啸山庄循着通常的道路回来,每一英里都花了整整一个钟头。

  我那坐在家里不动的管家和她的随从蜂拥而出来欢迎我,七嘴八舌地嚷着说她们都以为我是没指望的了。人人都猜想我昨晚已死掉了。她们不知道该怎么出发去找我的尸体。现在她们既然看见我回来了,我就叫她们安静些,我也快要冻僵了。我吃力地上楼去,换上干衣服以后,踱来踱去走了三四十分钟,好恢复元气。我又到我的书房里,软弱得像一只小猫,几乎没法享受仆人为恢复我的精神而准备下的一炉旺火和热气腾腾的咖啡了。

 

 

 

 

 第四章

  我们是些多么没用的三心二意的人啊!我,本来下决心摒弃所有世俗的来往。感谢我的福星高照,终于来到了一个简直都无法通行的地方——我,软弱的的可怜虫,与消沉和孤独苦斗直到黄昏,最后还是不得不扯起降旗。在丁太太送晚饭来时,我装着打听关于我的住所必需的东西,请她坐下来守着我吃,真诚地希望她是一个地道的爱絮叨的人,希望她的话不是使我兴高采烈,就是催我入眠。

  “你在此地住了相当久了吧,”我开始说,“你不是说过有十六年了吗?”

  “十八年啦,先生,我是在女主人结婚时,就跟过来伺候她的。她死后,主人就把我留下来当他的管家了。”

  “哦。”

  跟着一阵静默。我担心她不是一个爱絮叨的人,除非是关于她自己的事,而那些事又不能使我发生兴趣。但是,她沉思了一会,把拳头放在膝上,她那红红的脸上罩着一层冥想的云雾,突然失声叹道:

  “啊,从那时起,世道可变得多厉害呀!”

  “是的,”我说,“我猜想你看过不少变化了吧?”

  “我见过,也见过不少烦恼哩。”她说。

  “啊,我要把谈话转到我房东家里来了!”我思忖着。“谈这题目倒不错!还有那个漂亮的小寡妇,我很想知道她的历史。她是本地人呢,还是,更可能的是一个外乡人,因此这乖戾的本地居民就跟她合不来。”这样想着,我就问丁太太,为什么希刺克厉夫把画眉田庄出租,宁可住在一个地点与房屋都差得多的地方。“他难道还不够富裕得把产业好好整顿一下吗?”我问。

  “富裕啊,先生!”她回答。“他有钱,谁也不知道他有多少钱,而且每年都增加。是啊,是啊,他富得足够让他住一所比这还好的房子。可是他有点——手紧。而且,假使他有意搬到画眉田庄的话,他一听见有个好房客,他就绝不会放弃这个多拿几百的机会。有的人孤孤单单地活在世上,可还要这么贪财,这真奇怪!”

  “好像他有过一个儿子吧?”

  “是的,有过一个——死啦。”

  “那位年轻的太太,希刺克厉夫夫人,是他的遗孀吧?”

  “是的。”

  “她本来从哪儿来的?”

  “哪,先生,她就是我那过世的主人的女儿啊;凯瑟琳·林惇是她的闺名。我把她带大的,可怜的东西!我真情愿希刺克厉夫先生搬到这儿来,那我们又可以在一起了。”

  “什么?凯瑟琳·林惇!”我大为吃惊地叫道。可是只经过一分钟的回想,我就相信那不是我那鬼怪的凯瑟琳了。“那么,”我接着说,“我以前的房主人姓林惇啦?”

  “是的。”

  “那么跟希刺克厉夫先生同住的那个恩萧,哈里顿·恩萧又是谁呢?他们是亲戚吗?”

  “不,他是过世的林惇夫人的侄子。”

  “那么,是那年轻太太的表哥啦?”

  “是的,她的丈夫也就是她的表兄弟:一个是母亲的内侄,一个是父亲的外甥;希刺克厉夫娶了林惇的妹妹。”

  “我看见呼啸山庄的房子的前门上刻着‘恩萧’这个字。

  他们是个古老的世家吧?”

  “很古老的,先生,哈里顿是他们最后一个了,就像我们的凯蒂小姐也是我们最后一个——我意思是说林惇家的最后一个。你去过呼啸山庄吗?我冒昧地问一声,我很想打听她怎么样了!”

  “希刺克厉夫夫人吗?她看上去很好,也很漂亮。可是,我想,不太快乐。”

  “啊呀,那我倒不奇怪!你看那位主人怎么样?”

  “简直是一个粗暴的人,丁太太。他的性格就是那样吗?”

  “像锯齿一样地粗,像岩石一样地硬!你跟他越少来往越好。”

  “他一生一定经历过一些坎坷,才使他变成这么一个粗暴的人吧。你知道一点他的经历吗?”

  “就像一只布谷鸟的一生似的,先生——除了他生在哪儿,他的父母是谁,还有他当初怎么发财的以外,别的我全知道。哈里顿就像个羽毛还没长好的篱雀似的给扔出去了!在全教区里只有这不幸的孩子,是唯一的料想不到自己是怎么被欺骗的哩。”

  “啊,丁太太,做做好事告诉我一点有关我邻居的事吧。我觉得要是我上床睡去,我也不会安心的,所以行行好坐下聊一个钟头吧。”

  “啊,当然可以,先生!我就去拿点针线来,然后你要我坐多久,都可以。可是你着凉啦。我看见你直哆嗦,你得喝点粥去去寒气。”

  这位可尊敬的女人匆匆忙忙地走开了,我朝炉火边更挨近些。我的头觉得发热,身上却发冷,而且,我的神经和大脑受刺激到发昏的地步。这使我觉得,不是不舒服,可是使我简直害怕(现在还害怕),唯恐今天和昨天的事会有严重的后果。她不久就回来了,带来一个热气腾腾的盆子,还有针线篮子。她把盆子放在炉台上后,又把椅子拉过来,显然发现有我作伴而高兴呢。

  在我来这儿住之前——她开始说,不再等我邀请就讲开了——我差不多总是在呼啸山庄的。因为我母亲是带辛德雷·恩萧先生的,他就是哈里顿的父亲,我和孩子们也在一起玩惯了。我也给他们干杂活,帮忙割草,在庄园里荡来荡去,不管谁叫我作点什么我都作。一个晴朗的夏日清晨——我记得那是开始收获的时候——老主人恩萧先生下楼来,穿着要出远门的衣服。在他告诉了约瑟夫这一天要作些什么之后,他转过身来对着辛德雷、凯蒂和我——因为我正在跟他们一块儿吃粥——,他对他的儿子说:“喂,我的漂亮人儿,我今天要去利物浦啦。我给你带个什么回来呢?你喜欢什么就挑什么吧,只是要挑个小东西,因为我要走去走回:一趟六十英里,挺长一趟路哩!”辛德雷说要一把小提琴,然后他就问凯蒂小姐。她还不到六岁,可是她已经能骑上马厩里任何一匹马了,因而选择一根马鞭。他也没有忘掉我,因为他有一颗仁慈的心,虽然有时候他有点严厉。他答应给我带回来一口袋苹果和梨,然后他亲亲孩子们,说了声再会,就动身走了。

  他走了三天,我们都觉得仿佛很久了,小凯蒂总要问起他什么时候回家来。第三天晚上恩萧夫人期待他在晚饭时候回来,她把晚饭一点钟一点钟的往后推迟。可是,没有他回来的征象。最后,孩子们连跑到大门口张望也腻了。天黑下来了,她要他们去睡,可是他们苦苦地哀求允许他们再待一会儿。在差不多十一点钟时,门闩轻轻地抬起来了,主人走进来。他倒在一把椅子上,又是笑又是哼,叫他们都站开,因为他都快累坏了——就是给他英伦三岛,他也不肯再走一趟了。

  走到后来,就跟奔命似的!他说,打开他的大衣,这件大衣是被他裹成一团抱在怀里的。“瞧这儿,太太!我一辈子没有给任何东西搞得这么狼狈过,可是你一定得当作是上帝赐的礼物来接受,虽然他黑得简直像从魔鬼那儿来的。”

  我们围拢来,我从凯蒂小姐的头上望过去,窥见一个肮脏的,穿得破破烂烂的黑头发的孩子。挺大了,已经该能走能说了。的确,他的脸望上去比凯瑟琳还显得年龄大些。可是,让他站在地上的时候,他只会四下呆望,叽哩咕噜地尽重复一些没有人能懂的话。我很害怕,恩萧夫人打算把他丢出门外。她可真跳起来了,质问他怎么想得出把那个野孩子带到家来,自己的孩子已够他们抚养的了。他到底打算怎么办,是不是疯了?主人想把事情解释一下,可是他真的累得半死。我在她的责骂声中,只能听出来是这么回事:他在利物浦的大街上看见这孩子快要饿死了,无家可归,又像哑巴一样。他就把他带着,打听是谁的孩子。他说,没有一个人知道他是谁家的孩子。他的钱和时间又都有限,想想还不如马上把他带回家,总比在那儿白白浪费时间好些。因为他已经决定既然发现了他就不能不管。那么,结局是我的主妇抱怨够了,安静了下来。恩萧先生吩咐我给他洗澡,换上干净衣服,让他跟孩子们一块睡。

  在吵闹时,辛德雷和凯蒂先是甘心情愿地又看又听,直到秩序恢复,两个人就开始搜他们父亲的口袋,找他答应过的他们的礼物。辛德雷是一个十四岁的男孩,可是当他从大衣里拉出那只本来是小提琴,却已经挤成碎片的时候,他就放声大哭。至于凯蒂,当她听说主人只顾照料这个陌生人而失落了她的鞭子时,就向那小笨东西呲牙咧嘴啐了一口以发泄她的脾气,然而,她这样费劲却换了他父亲一记很响亮的耳光,这是教训她以后要规矩些。他们完全拒绝和他同床,甚至在他们屋里睡也不行。我也不比他们清醒,因此我就把他放在楼梯口上,希望他明天会走掉。不知是凑巧呢,还是他听见了主人的声音,他爬到恩萧先生的门前,而他一出房门就发现了他。当然他追问他怎么到那儿去的,我不得不承认。

  就因为我的卑怯和狠心,我得了报应,被主人撵出家门。

  这就是希刺克厉夫到这家来开头的情形。没过几天我回来了(因为我并不认为我的被撵是永远的),发现他们已经给他取了名,叫“希刺克厉夫”。那原是他们一个夭折了的儿子的名字,从此这就算他的名,也算他的姓。凯蒂小姐现在跟他很亲热,可是辛德雷恨他。说实话,我也恨他,于是我们就折磨他,可耻地欺负他,因为我还不能意识到我的不厚道,而女主人看见他受委屈时也从来没有替他说过一句话。

  他看来是一个忧郁的、能忍耐的孩子,也许是由于受尽虐待而变得顽强了。他能忍受辛德雷的拳头,眼都不眨一下,也不掉一滴眼泪。我掐他,他也只是吸一口气,张大双眼,好像是他偶然伤害了自己,谁也不能怪似的。当老恩萧发现他的儿子这样虐待他所谓的可怜的孤儿时,这种逆来顺受使老恩萧冒火了。奇怪的是他特别喜欢希刺克厉夫,相信他所说的一切(关于说话,他其实难得开口,要说就总说实话),而爱他远胜过爱凯蒂,凯蒂可是太调皮、太不规矩,够不上充当宠儿。

  所以,一开始,他就在这家里惹起了恶感。不到两年,恩萧夫人死去,这时小主人已经学会把他父亲当作一个压迫者而不是当作朋友,而把希刺克厉夫当作一个篡夺他父亲的情感和他的特权的人。他盘算着这些侮辱,心里越发气不过。有一阵我还同情他,但当孩子们都出麻疹时,我看护他们,担负起一个女人的责任,我就改变想法了。希刺克厉夫病得很危险。当他病得最厉害时,他总是要我常在他枕旁。我料想他是觉得我帮他不少忙,还猜不出我是不得已的。无论如何,我得说:他可是做保姆的所从未看护过的最安静的孩子。他与别的孩子不同,迫使我不得不少偏一点心。凯蒂和她哥哥把我磨得要命,他却像个羊羔似的毫不抱怨——虽然他不大麻烦人是出于顽强,而不是出于宽厚。

  他死里逃生,医生肯定说这多亏我,并且称赞我看护得好。我因为他的赞赏而得意。对于这个因他而使我受了称赞的孩子,也就软化了。就这样辛德雷失去了他最后一个同盟者。不过我还是不能疼爱希刺克厉夫,我常常奇怪我主人在这阴沉的孩子身上看出哪一点会让他这么喜欢。根据我的记忆,这孩子可从来没有过任何感激的表示以报答他的宠爱。他对他的恩人并非无礼,他只是漫不经心。虽然他完全知道他已经占有了他的心,而且很明白他只要一开口,全家就不得不服从他的愿望。举一个例子,我记得有一次恩萧先生在教区的市集上买来一对小马,给他们一人匹。希刺克厉夫挑了那最漂亮的一匹,可是不久它跛了,当他一发现,他就对辛德雷说:

  “你非跟我换马不可。我不喜欢我的了。你要是不肯,我就告诉你父亲,你这星期抽过我三次,还要把我的胳臂给他看,一直青到肩膀上呢。”

  辛德雷伸出舌头,又打他耳光。

  “你最好马上换,“他坚持着,逃到门廊上(他们是在马厩里)又坚持说:“你非换不可,要是我说出来你打我,你可要连本带利挨一顿。”

  “滚开,狗!”辛德雷大叫,用一个称土豆和稻草的秤砣吓唬他。

  “扔吧,”他回答,站着不动,“我要告诉他你怎么吹牛说等他一死你就要把我赴出门外,看他会不会马上把你赶出去。”

  辛德雷真扔了,打在他的胸上,他倒下去,可又马上踉跄地站起来,气也喘不过来,脸也白了。要不是我去阻止,他真要到主人跟前,只要把他当时的情况说明白,说出是谁惹的,那就会完全报了这个仇。

  “吉普赛,那就把我的马拿去吧,”小恩萧说,“我但愿这匹马会把你的脖子跌断。把它拿去,该死的,你这讨饭的碍事的人,把我父亲所有的东西都骗去吧。只是以后可别叫他看出你是什么东西,小魔鬼。记住:我希望它踢出你的脑浆!”

  希刺克厉夫去解马缰,把它领到自己的马厩里去。他正走过马的身后,辛德雷结束他的咒骂,把他打倒在马蹄下,也没有停下来查看一下他是否如愿了,就尽快地跑掉了。我非常惊奇地看见这孩子如何冷静地挣扎起来,继续做他要做的事:换马鞍子等等,然后在他进屋以前先坐在一堆稻草上来压制住这重重的一拳所引起的恶心。我很容易地劝他把他那些伤痕归罪于马:他既然已经得到他所要的,扯点瞎话他也不在乎。的确他很少拿这类风波去告状,我真的以为他是个没有报仇心的人。我是完全受骗了,以后你就会知道的。

   

   

   

 

 第五章

  日子过下去,恩萧先生开始垮下来了。他本来是活跃健康的,但是他的精力突然从他身上消失。当他只能待在壁炉的角落里时,就变得暴躁得令人难过。一点点小事就会使他心烦,而且疑心人家损伤了他的威信,就简直要气得发疯。如果有人企图为难或欺压他的宠儿,恩萧就特别生气;他很痛苦地猜忌着,唯恐有人对他说错一句话。好像他的脑子里有这么个想法:即因为自己喜欢希刺克厉夫,所有的人就都恨他,并且想暗算他。这对那孩子可不利,因为我们中间比较心慈的人并不愿惹主人生气,所以我们就迎合他的偏爱。那种迁就可大大滋长了孩子的骄傲和乖僻。可也非这样不可。有两三回,辛德雷当着他父亲的面,表现出瞧不起那孩子的神气,使老人家大为光火,他抓住手杖要打辛德雷,却由于打不动,只能气得直抖。

  最后,我们的副牧师(那时候我们有两个副牧师,靠教林惇和恩萧两家的小孩子读书,以及自己种一块地为生)出主意说,该把这年轻人送到大学去了。恩萧先生同意了,虽然心情很不畅快,因为他说“辛德雷没出息,不管他荡到哪儿也永远不会发迹的”。

  我衷心希望如今我们可以太平无事了。一想到主人自己作下善事,反而搞得别别扭扭,我就伤心。我猜想他晚年的不痛快而且多病,都是由于家庭不和而来。事实上他自己也那么想:真的,先生,你知道这日渐衰老的骨架里头就藏着这块心病。其实,要不是为了两个人,凯蒂小姐和那佣人约瑟夫,我们还可以凑合下去。我敢说,你在那边看见过他的。他过去是,现在八成还是,翻遍圣经都难找出来的,一个把恩赐都归于自己,把诅咒都丢给邻人的最讨厌的、自以为是的法利赛人。约瑟夫极力凭着花言巧语和虔诚的说教,给恩萧先生一个很好的印象。主人越衰弱,他的势力越大。他毫无怜悯地折磨主人,大谈他的灵魂,以及如何对孩子们要严加管束。他鼓励主人把辛德雷当作堕落的人,而且,还经常每天晚上编派事端去抱怨希刺克厉夫和凯瑟琳一番,总是忘不了把最重的过错放在后者身上,以迎合恩萧的弱点。

  当然,凯瑟琳有些怪脾气,那是我在别的孩子身上从未见到过的。她在一天内能让我们所有的人失去耐心不止五十次,从她一下楼起直到上床睡觉为止,她总是在淘气,搅得我们没有一分钟的安宁。她总是兴高采烈,舌头动个不停——唱呀,笑呀,谁不附和着她,就纠缠不休,真是个又野又坏的小姑娘。可是在教区内就数她有双最漂亮的眼睛,最甜蜜的微笑,最轻巧的步子。话说回来,我相信她并没有恶意,因为她一旦把你真惹哭了,就很少不陪着你哭,而且使你不得不静下来再去安慰她。她非常喜欢希刺克厉夫。我们如果真要惩罚她,最厉害的一着就是把他俩分开,可是为了他,她比我们更多挨骂。在玩的时候,她特别喜欢当小主妇,任性地作这个那个,而且对同伴们发号施令。她对我也这样,可是我可受不了充当杂差和听任使唤,所以我也就叫她放明白点。

  不过,恩萧先生不理解孩子们的嬉笑。他们在一起时,他总是严峻庄严的。在凯瑟琳这方面,她不明白父亲为什么在衰弱时,比在盛年时脾气要暴躁些,耐性少些。他那暴躁的责备反而唤起她想逗乐的情趣,故意地去激怒父亲。她顶高兴的是我们在一起骂她,她就露出大胆、无礼的神气,以机灵的话语对抗我们。她把约瑟夫的宗教上的诅咒编成笑料,捉弄我,干她父亲最恨的事——炫耀她那假装出来的(而他却信以为真的)傲慢如何比他的慈爱对希刺克厉夫更有力量;炫耀她能使这个男孩如何对自己唯命是从,而对他的命令,只有合自己心意时才肯玄干。在一整天干尽了坏事后,有时到晚上她又来撒娇想和解。“不,凯蒂,”老人家说,“我不能爱你。你比你哥哥还坏。去,祷告去吧,孩子,求上帝饶恕你。我想你母亲和我一定会悔恨生养了你哩!”起初这话还使她哭一场,后来,由于经常受申斥,心肠也就变硬了。要是我叫她说因为自己的错误而觉得羞愧,要求父亲原谅,她倒反而大笑起来。

  但是,恩萧先生结束尘世烦恼的时辰终于来到。在十月的一个晚上,他坐在炉边椅上宁静地死去了。大风绕屋咆哮,并在烟囱里怒吼,听起来狂暴猛烈,天却不冷。我们都在一起——我离火炉稍远,忙着织毛线,约瑟夫凑着桌子在读他的圣经(因为那时候佣人们做完了事之后经常坐在屋里的)。凯蒂小姐病了,这使她安静下来。她靠在父亲的膝前,希刺克厉夫躺在地板上,头枕着她的腿。我记得主人在打盹之前,还抚摸着她那漂亮的头发——看她这么温顺,他难得的高兴,而且说着:

  “你为什么不能永远做一个好姑娘呢,凯蒂?”她扬起脸来向他大笑着回答:“你为什么不能永远作一个好男人呢,父亲?”但是一看见他又恼了,凯蒂就去亲他的手,还说要唱支歌使他入睡。她开始低声唱着,直到父亲的手指从她手里滑落出来,头垂在胸前。这时我告诉她要住声,也别动弹,怕她吵醒了他。我们整整有半个钟头都像耗子似的不声不响。本来还可以呆得久些,只是约瑟夫读完了那一章,站起来说他得把主人唤醒,让他作了祷告去上床睡。他走上前去,叫唤主人,碰碰他的肩膀,可是他不动,于是,他拿支蜡烛看他。他放下蜡烛的时候,我感到出事了。他一手抓着一个孩子的胳臂,小声跟他们说快上楼去,别出声——这一晚他们可以自己祷告——他还有事。

  “我要先跟父亲说声晚安,”凯瑟琳说。我们没来得及拦住她,她已一下子伸出胳臂,搂住了他的脖子。这可怜的东西马上发现了她的损失,就尖声大叫:“啊,他死啦,希刺克厉夫!他死啦!”他们两人就放声大哭,哭得令人心碎。

  我也和他们一起恸哭,哭声又高又惨。可是约瑟夫向我们说,对一位已经升天的圣人,这样吼叫是什么意思。他叫我穿上外衣,赶紧跑到吉默吞去请医生和牧师。当时我猜不透请这两个人来有什么用。可是我还是冒着风雨去了,带回来个医生,另一个说他明天早上来。约瑟夫留在那里向医生解说一切,而我便跑到孩子们的房间里去。门半开着,虽然已经过半夜了,他们根本就没躺下来。只是已安静些了,不需要我来安慰了。这两个小灵魂正在用比我所能想到的更好的思想互相安慰着:世上没有一个牧师,能把天堂描画得像他们在自己天真的话语中所描画的那样美丽;当我一边抽泣,一边听着的时候,我不由得祝愿我们大家都平平安安地一块到天堂去。

   

   

     

 

 第六章

 

  辛德雷先生回家奔丧来了,而且——有一件事使我们大为惊讶,也使左邻右舍议论纷纷——他带来一个妻子。她是什么人,出生在哪儿,他从来没告诉我们。大概她既没有钱,也没有门第可夸,不然他也不至于把这个婚姻瞒着他父亲的。

  她倒不是个为了自己而会搅得全家不安的人。她一跨进门槛,所见到的每样东西以及她周围发生的每项事情:除了埋葬的准备,和吊唁者临门外,看来都使她愉快。这时,我从她的举止看来,认为她有点疯疯癫癫的:她跑进卧室,叫我也进去,虽然我正该给孩子们穿上孝服,她却坐在那儿发抖,紧握着手,反复地问:“他们走了没有?”

  然后,她就带着神经质的激动开始描述看见黑颜色会对她有什么影响,她吃惊,哆嗦,最后又哭起来——当我问她怎么回事时,她又回答说不知道,只是觉得非常怕死!我想她和我一样不至于就死的。她相当地瘦,可是年轻,气色挺好,一双眼睛像宝石似的发亮。我倒也确实注意到她上楼时呼吸急促,只要听见一点最轻微的突然的声响,就浑身发抖,而且有时候咳嗽得很烦人。可是我一点也不知道这些病预示着什么,也毫不同情她的冲动。在这里我们跟外地人一般是不大亲近的,洛克乌德先生,除非他们先跟我们亲近。

  年轻的恩萧,一别三年,大大地变了。他瘦了些,脸上失去了血色,谈吐衣着都跟从前不同了。他回来那天,就吩咐约瑟夫和我从此要在后厨房安身,把大厅留给他。的确,他本想收拾出一间小屋铺上地毯,糊糊墙壁,当作客厅。可是他的妻子对那白木地板和那火光熊熊的大壁炉,对那些锡镴盘子和嵌磁的橱,还有狗窝,以及他们通常起坐时可以活动的这广阔的空间,表现出那样的喜爱,因此他想为了妻子的舒适而收拾客厅是多此一举,便放弃了这个念头。

  她为能在新相识者中找到一个妹妹而表示高兴。开始时,她跟凯瑟琳说个没完,亲她,跟她跑来跑去,给她许多礼物。但是不多久,她的这种喜爱劲头就退了。当她变得乖戾的时候,辛德雷也变得暴虐了。她只要吐出几个字,暗示不喜欢希刺克厉夫,这就足以把他对这孩子的旧恨全都勾起来。他不许他跟大伙在一起,把他赶到佣人中间去,剥夺他从副牧师那儿受教诲的机会,坚持说他该在外面干活,强迫他跟庄园里其他的小伴子们一样辛苦地干活。

  起初这孩子还很能忍受他的降级,因为凯蒂把她所学的都教给他,还陪他在地里干活或玩耍。他们都有希望会像粗野的野人一样成长。少爷完全不过问他们的举止和行动,所以他们也乐得躲开他。他甚至也没留意他们星期日是否去礼拜堂,只有约瑟夫和副牧师看见他们不在的时候,才来责备他的疏忽。这就提醒了他下令给希刺克厉夫一顿鞭子,让凯瑟琳饿一顿午饭或晚饭。但是从清早跑到旷野,在那儿待一整天,这已成为他们主要娱乐之一,随后的惩罚反而成了可笑的小事一件罢了。尽管副牧师随心所欲地留下多少章节叫凯瑟琳背诵,尽管约瑟夫把希刺克厉夫抽得胳臂痛,可是只要他们又聚在一起,或至少在他们筹划出什么报复的顽皮计划的那一分钟,他们就把什么都忘了。有多少次我眼看他们一天比一天胡来,只好自己哭,我又不敢说一个字,唯恐失掉我对于这两个举目无亲的小家伙还能保留的一点点权力。一个星期日晚上,他们碰巧又因为太吵或是这类的一个小过失,而被撵出了起坐间。当我去叫他们吃晚饭时,哪儿也找不到他们,我们搜遍了这所房子,楼上楼下,以及院子和马厩,连个影儿也没有。最后,辛德雷发着脾气,叫我们闩上各屋的门,发誓说这天夜里谁也不许放他们进来。全家都去睡了,我急得躺不住,便把我的窗子打开,伸出头去倾听着,虽然在下雨,我决定只要是他们回来,我就不顾禁令,让他们进来。过了一会,我听见路上有脚步声,一盏提灯的光一闪一闪地进了大门。我把围巾披在头上,跑去以防他们敲门把恩萧吵醒。原来是希刺克厉夫,只有他一个人——我看他只一个人回来可把我吓一跳。

  “凯瑟琳小姐在哪儿?”我急忙叫道,“我希望没出事吧。”

  “在画眉田庄,”他回答,“本来我也可以待在那儿,可是他们毫无礼貌,不留我。”

  “好呀,你要倒霉啦!”我说,“一定要到人家叫你滚蛋,你才会死了心。你们怎么想起来荡到画眉田庄去了?”

  “让我脱掉湿衣服,再告诉你怎么回事,耐莉。”他回答。

  我叫他小心别吵醒了主人。当他正脱着衣服,我在等着熄灯时,他接着说:“凯蒂和我从洗衣房溜出来想自由自在地溜达溜达。我们瞅见了田庄的灯火,想去看看林惇他们在过星期日的晚上是不是站在墙角发抖,而他们的的父母却坐在那儿又吃又喝,又唱又笑,在火炉跟前烤火烤得眼珠都冒火了。你想林惇他们是这样的吗?或者在读经,而且给他们的男仆人盘问着,要是他们答得不正确,还要背一段圣经上的名字,是吗?”

  “大概不会,”我回答,“他们当然是好孩子,不该像你们由于你们的坏行为而受惩罚。”

  “别假正经,耐莉,”他说,“废话!我们从山庄顶上跑到庄园里,一步没停——凯瑟琳完全落在后面了,因为她是光着脚的。你明天得到泥沼地里去找她的鞋哩。我们爬过一个破篱笆,摸索上路,爬到客厅窗子下面的一个花坛上站在那儿。灯光从那儿照出来,他们还没有关上百叶窗,窗帘也只是半开半掩。我们俩站在墙根地上,手扒着窗台边,就能瞧到里面。我们看见——啊!可真美——一个漂亮辉煌的地方,铺着猩红色的地毯,桌椅也都有猩红色的套子,纯白的天花板镶着金边,一大堆玻璃坠子用银链子从天花板中间吊下来,许多光线柔和的小蜡烛照得它闪闪发光。老林惇先生和太太都不在那儿,只有埃德加和他妹妹霸占了这屋子。他们还不该快乐吗?换了是我们的话,都会以为自己到了天堂啦!可是哪,你猜猜你说的那些好孩子在干什么?伊莎贝拉——我相信她有十一岁,比凯蒂小一岁——躺在屋子那头尖声大叫,叫得好像是巫婆用烧得通红的针刺进她的身体似的。埃德加站在火炉边,不声不响地哭着,在桌子中间有一只小狗坐在那儿,抖着它的爪子,汪汪地叫。从他们双方的控诉听来,我们明白了他们差点儿把它扯成两半。呆了!这就是他们的乐趣!争执着该谁抱那堆暖和的软毛,而且两个都开始哭了,因为两个人争着抢它之后又都不肯要了。我们对这两个惯宝贝不禁笑出声来。我们真瞧不起他们!你几时瞅见我想要凯瑟琳要的东西来着,或是发现我们又哭又叫,在地上打滚,一间屋子一边一个,这样子玩法?就是再让我活一千次,我也不要拿我在这儿的地位和埃德加在画眉田庄的地位交换——就是让我有特权把约瑟夫从最高的屋尖上扔下来,而且在房子前面涂上辛德雷的血,我也不干!”

  “嘘!嘘!”我打断他,“希刺克厉夫,你还没告诉我怎么把凯瑟琳撂下啦?”

  “我告诉过你我们笑啦,”他回答,“林惇他们听见我们了,就一起像箭似的冲到门口,先是不吭声,跟着大嚷起来,‘啊,妈妈,妈妈!啊,爸爸!啊,妈妈!来呀!啊,爸爸,啊!’他们真的就那样号叫出来个什么东西。我们就做出可怕的声音好把他们吓得更厉害,然后我们就从窗台边上下来,因为有人在拉开门闩,我们觉得还是溜掉好些。我抓住凯蒂的手,拖着她跑,忽然一下子她跌倒了。‘跑吧,希刺克厉夫,跑吧,’她小声说。‘他们放开了牛头狗,它咬住我啦!’这个魔鬼咬住了她的脚踝了,耐莉,我听见它那讨厌的鼻音。她没有叫出声来——不!她就是戳在疯牛的角上,也不会叫的。可我喊啦,发出一顿足以灭绝基督王国里任何恶魔的咒骂,我捡到一块石头塞到它的嘴里,而且尽我所有的力量想把这石头塞进它的喉咙。一个像畜生似的佣人提个提灯来了,叫着:‘咬紧,狐儿①咬紧啦!’可是,当他看见狐儿的猎物,就改变了他的声调。狗被掐住了,它那紫色的大舌头从嘴边挂出来有半尺长,耷拉的嘴巴流着带血的口水。那个人把凯蒂抱起来。她昏倒了,不是出于害怕,我敢说,是痛的。他把她抱进去。我跟着,嘴里嘟囔着咒骂和要报仇的话。‘抓到什么啦,罗伯特?’林惇从大门口那儿喊着。‘先生,狐儿逮到一个小姑娘。’他回答,‘这儿还有个小子,’他又说,抓住了我,‘我倒像个内行哩!很像是强盗把他们送进窗户,好等大家都睡了,去开门放这一帮子进来,好从从容容地把我们干掉。闭嘴,你这满口下流的小偷,你!你就要为这事上绞架啦。林惇先生,你先别把枪收起来。’‘不,罗伯特,’那个老混蛋说,‘这些坏蛋知道昨天是我收租的日子,他们想巧妙地算计我。进来吧,我要招待他们一番。约翰,把链子锁紧。给狐儿点水喝,詹尼。竟敢冒犯一位长官,而且在他们公馆里,还是在安息日!他们的荒唐还有个完吗?啊,我亲爱的玛丽,瞧这儿!别害怕,只是一个男孩子——可是他脸上明摆着流氓相,他们相貌已经露出本性来了,趁他的行动还没表现出来,立刻把他绞死,不是给乡里做了件好事吗?’他把我拉到吊灯底下。林惇太太把眼镜戴在鼻梁上,吓得举起双手。胆小的孩子们也爬近一些,伊莎贝拉口齿不清地说着,‘可怕的东西!把他放到地窖里去吧,爸爸。他正像偷我那支驯雉的那个算命的儿子呀。不就是他吗,埃德加?’

  

  ①狐儿——狗名。

  “他们正在审查我时,凯蒂过来了。她听见最后这句话,就大笑起来。埃德加·林惇好奇地直瞪她,总算不傻,把她认出来了。你知道,他们在教堂看见过我们,虽然我们很少在别的地方碰见他们。‘那是恩萧小姐!’他低声对他母亲说,‘瞧瞧狐儿把她咬成什么样,她的脚上血流得多厉害呀!’

  “‘恩萧小姐?瞎扯!’那位太太嚷着。‘恩萧小姐跟个吉普赛人在乡里乱荡!可是,我亲爱的,这孩子在戴孝——当然是啦——她也许一辈子都残废啦!’

  “‘她哥哥的粗心可真造孽!’林惇先生叹着,从我这儿又转过身去看凯瑟琳。‘我从希尔得斯那儿听说(先生,那就是副牧师),他听任她在真正的异教中长大。可这是谁呢?她从哪儿捡到了这样一个同伙?哦!我断定他——定是我那已故的邻人去利物浦旅行时带回来的那个奇怪的收获——一个东印度小水手,或是一个美洲人或西班牙人的弃儿。’

  “‘不管是什么,反正是个坏孩子,’那个老太太说,‘而且对于一个体面人家十分不合适!你注意到他的话没有,林惇!想到我的孩子们听到这些话,我真吓得要命。’

  “我又开始咒骂了——别生气,耐莉——这样罗伯特就奉命把我带走。没有凯蒂我就是不肯走。他把我拖到花园里去,把提灯塞到我手里,告诉我,一定要把我的行为通知恩萧先生,而且,要我马上开步走,就又把门关紧了。窗帘还是拉开一边,我就再侦察一下吧,因为,要是凯瑟琳愿意回来的话,我就打算把他们的大玻璃窗敲成粉碎,除非他们让她出来。她安静地坐在沙发上。林惇太太把我们为了出游而借来的挤牛奶女人的外套给她脱下来,摇着头,我猜是劝她。她是一个小姐,他们对待她就和对待我大有区别了。然后女仆端来一盆温水,给她洗脚,林惇先生调了一大杯混合糖酒,伊莎贝拉把满满一盘饼干倒在她的怀里,而埃德加站得远远的,张大着嘴傻看。后来他们把她美丽的头发擦干,梳好,给她一双大拖鞋,用车把她挪到火炉边。我就丢下了她,因为她正高高兴兴地在把她的食物分给小狗和狐儿吃。它吃的时候,她还捏它的鼻子,而且使林惇一家人那些呆呆的蓝眼睛里燃起了一点生气勃勃的火花——是她自己的的迷人的脸所引出的淡淡的反映。我看他们都表现出呆气十足的赞赏神气,她比他们高超得没法比——超过世上每一个人,不是吗,耐莉?”

  “这件事将比你所料想的严重得多呢。”我回答,给他盖好被,熄了灯。“你是没救啦,希刺克厉夫,辛德雷先生一定要走极端的,瞧他会不会吧。”

  我的话比我所料想的更为灵验。这不幸的历险使恩萧大为光火。随后林惇先生,为了把事情补救一下,亲自在第二天早上来拜访我们,而且还给小主人做了一大段演讲,关于他领导的家庭走的什么路,说得他真的动了心。希刺克厉夫没有挨鞭子抽,可是得到吩咐:只要一开口跟凯瑟琳小姐说话,他就得被撵出去。恩萧夫人承担等小姑回家的时候给她相当约束的任务,用伎俩,不是用武力;用武力她会发现是行不通的。

   

   

 

 第七章

  凯蒂在画眉田庄住了五个星期,一直住到圣诞节。那时候,她的脚踝已痊愈,举止也大有进步。在这期间,女主人常常去看她,开始了她的改革计划。先试试用漂亮衣服和奉承话来提高她的自尊心,她也毫不犹豫地接受了。因此,她不再是一个不戴帽子的小野人跳到屋里,冲过来把我们搂得都喘不过气,而是从一匹漂亮的小黑马身上下来一个非常端庄的人,棕色的发卷从一支插着羽毛的海狸皮帽子里垂下来,穿一件长长的布质的骑马服。她必须用双手提着衣裙,才能雍容华贵地走进。辛德雷把她扶下马来,愉快地惊叫着:“怎么,凯蒂,你简直是个美人啦!我都要认不出你了。你现在像个贵妇人啦。但莎贝拉·林惇可比不上她,是吧,弗兰西斯?”

  “伊莎贝拉没有她的天生丽质,”他的妻子回答,“可是她得记住,在这儿可不要再变野了。艾伦,帮凯瑟琳小姐脱掉外衣,别动,亲爱的,你要把你的头发卷搞乱了。——让我把你的帽子解开吧。”

  我脱下她的骑马服,里面露出了一件大方格子的丝长袍,白裤,还有亮光光的皮鞋。在那些狗也跳上来欢迎她的时候,她的眼睛高兴得发亮,可她不敢摸它们,生怕狗会扑到她漂亮的衣服上去。她温柔地亲我:我身上尽是面粉,正在作圣诞节蛋糕,要拥抱我可不行。然后她就四下里望着想找希刺克厉夫。恩萧先生和夫人很焦切地注视着他们的会面,认为这多少可以使他们判断,他们有没有根据希望把这两个朋友分开。

  起初找不到希刺克厉夫。如果他在凯瑟琳不在家之前就是邋里邋遢,没人管的话,那么,后来他更糟上十倍。除了我以外,甚至没有人肯叫他一声脏孩子,也没有人叫他一星期去洗一次澡;像他这样大的孩子很少对肥皂和水有天生的兴趣。因此,姑且不提他那满是泥巴和灰土已穿了三个月的一身衣服,还有他那厚厚的从不梳理的头发,就是他的脸和手也盖上一层黑。他看到走进屋来的是这么一个漂亮而文雅的小姐,而不是如他所期望的,跟他配得上的一个披头散发的人,他只好藏在高背椅子后面了。

  “希刺克厉夫不在这儿吗?”她问,脱下她的手套,露出了她那由于待在屋里不作事而显得特别白的手指头。

  “希刺克厉夫,你可以走过来,”辛德雷先生喊着,看到他的狼狈相很高兴,望着他将不得不以一个可憎厌的小流氓的模样出场,而心满意足。“你可以来,像那些佣人一样来欢迎欢迎凯瑟琳小姐。”

  凯蒂一瞅见她的朋友藏在那儿,便飞奔过去拥抱他。她在一秒钟内在他脸上亲了七八下,然后停住了,往后退,放声大笑,嚷道:

  “怎么啦,你满脸的不高兴!而且多——多可笑又可怕呀!可那是因为我看惯了埃德加和伊莎贝拉·林惇啦。好呀,希刺克厉夫,你把我忘了吗?”

  她是有理由提出这个问题来的,因为羞耻和自尊心在他脸上投下了双重的阴影,使他动弹不得。

  “握下手吧,希刺克厉夫。”恩萧先生大模大样地说,“偶尔一次,是允许的。”

  “我不,”这男孩终于开口了,“我可受不了让人笑话。我受不了!”他要从人群里走开,但是凯蒂小姐又把他拉住了。

  “我并没有意思笑你呀,”她说,“刚才我是忍不住笑出来的。希刺克厉夫,至少握握手吧!你干吗不高兴呢?只不过是你看着有点古怪罢了。要是你洗洗脸,刷刷头发,就会好的,可是你这么脏!”

  她关心地盯着握在自己手里的黑手指头,又看看她的衣服,怕自己的衣服和他的衣服一碰上会得不到好处。

  “你用不着碰我!”他回答,看到她的眼色,就把手抽回来了。“我高兴怎么脏,就怎么脏。我喜欢脏,我就是要脏。”

  他说完,就一头冲出屋外,使主人和女主人很开心,而凯瑟琳则十分不安;她不能理解她的话怎么会惹出这么一场坏脾气的爆发。

  我作为女仆侍候了这位新来的人之后,把蛋糕放在烘炉里,在大厅与厨房里都升起旺火,搞得很像过圣诞节的样子。完事后,我就准备坐下来,唱几支圣诞歌来使自己开开心,也不管约瑟夫断言说什么我所选的欢乐的调子根本够不上是歌。他已经回到卧房独自祷告去了,恩萧夫妇正在用那些为她买来送小林惇兄妹的各式各样漂亮的小玩意吸引她的注意力,这些是用来答谢他们的招待的。他们已经邀请小林惇兄妹第二天来呼啸山庄,这邀请已被接受了,不过有个条件:林惇夫人请求把她的宝贝儿们和那个“顽皮、好咒骂人的男孩”小心隔开。

  因此就剩下我一个人在这里。我闻到烂熟了的香料的浓郁香味,欣赏着那些闪亮的厨房用具,用冬青叶装饰着的擦亮了的钟,排列在盘里的银盆——它们是准备用来在晚餐时倒加料麦酒的。我最欣赏的是我特别小心擦洗得清洁无暇的东西,就是那洗过扫过的地板。我暗自对每样东西都恰如其分的赞美一番,于是我就记起老恩萧从前在一切收拾停当时,总是怎么走进来,说我是假正经的姑娘,而且把一个先令塞到我手里作为圣诞节的礼物。从这我又想起他对希刺克厉夫的喜爱,他生怕死后希刺克厉夫会没人照管为此所感到的恐惧,于是我很自然地接着想到现在这可怜的孩子的地位。我唱着唱着,哭起来了。但是一会我就猛然想到,弥补一下他所受的委屈,总比为这些事掉眼泪还有意义些。我起来,到院子里去找他。他就在不远的地方。我发现他在马厩里给新买的小马抚平那有光泽的毛皮,并且和往常一样在喂别的牲口。

  “快,希刺克厉夫!”我说,“厨房里挺舒服。约瑟夫在楼上呢。快,让我在凯蒂小姐出来之前把你打扮得漂漂亮亮的,那你们就可以坐在一起,整个火炉归你们,而且可以长谈到睡觉的时候。”

  他继续干他的事,死也不肯把头掉过来对着我。

  “来呀——你来不来呀!”我接着说,“你们两个一人一小块蛋糕,差不多够了,你得要半个钟头打扮好哩。”

  我等了五分钟,可是得不到回答,就走开了。凯瑟琳和她的哥哥嫂嫂一块吃晚饭。约瑟夫和我合吃了一顿不和气的饭,一方在申斥,另一方也不客气。他的蛋糕和干酪就一整夜摆在桌上留给神仙了。他干活直干到九点钟,然后不声不响,执拗地走进他的卧房。凯蒂呆到很迟的时候,为了接待她的新朋友们吩咐了一大堆事情。她到厨房来过一次,想跟她的老朋友说话。可是他不在,只问了一下他是怎么回事,就又回去了。第二天早晨他起得很早,那天正是假日,他就怏怏不乐地到旷野去,直到全家都出发到教堂去了,他才回来。饥饿和思索仿佛使他的兴致好些。他跟了我一阵,然后鼓起勇气,突然高声说:

  “耐莉,把我打扮得体面些,我要学好啦!”

  “正是时候,希刺克厉夫,”我说,“你已经把凯瑟琳搞伤心啦,她挺后悔回家来,我敢这么说!看来好像是你嫉妒她似的,只因为她比你多被人关心些。”

  这嫉妒凯瑟琳的念头,他是不能理解的,可是使她伤心这个念头,他可是十分明白的。

  “她说她伤心啦?”他追问,很严肃的样子。

  “今天早上我告诉她你又走掉了,那时候她哭啦。”

  “唉,我昨天夜里也哭的,”他回答说,“我比她更有理由哭哩。”

  “是啊,你是有理由带着一颗骄傲的心和一个空肚子上床的。”我说,“骄傲的人给自己招来悲哀。可是,如果你为你那种暴脾气惭愧,记住,在她进来的时候,你一定得道歉。你一定得走过去请求亲亲她,而且说——你很知道该说什么。只是要诚心诚意地去做,不要认为她穿了漂亮的衣服就变成陌生人似的。现在,尽管我还要把中饭准备好,我还可以抽出空来把你打扮好,好让埃德加·林惇在你旁边显得像个洋娃娃:他是像洋娃娃。你虽比他小,可是,我可以断定,你高些,肩膀也比他宽一倍,你可以在一眨眼工夫就把他打倒。你不觉得你能够吗?”

  希刺克厉夫的脸色开朗了一下,随后又阴沉下来,他叹气。

  “可是,耐莉,就算我把他打倒二十回,也不会使他不漂亮些,或者使我更漂亮些。我愿我有浅色的头发,白白的皮肤,穿着和举动也像他,而且也有机会变得和他将来一样的有钱!”

  “而且动不动就哭着喊妈妈,”我添上一句,“而且要是一个乡下孩子向你举起拳头的时候,就发抖,而且下一场大雨就整天坐在家里。啊,希刺克厉夫,你这是没出息!到镜子这儿来,我要让你看看你该愿望什么吧。你看到你两只眼睛中间那两条纹路没有,还有那浓眉毛,不在中间弓起来,却在中间低垂。还有那对黑黑的恶魔,埋得这么深,从来不大胆地打开它们的窗户,却在底下闪闪地埋伏着,像是魔鬼的奸细似的,但愿而且要学着把这些执拗的纹路摩平,坦率地抬起你的眼皮来,把恶魔变成可以信赖的、天真的天使,什么也不猜疑,对不一定是仇敌的人永远要当作朋友。不要现出恶狗的样子,好像知道被踢是该得的报酬,可又因为吃了苦头,就又恨全世界,以及那踢它的人。”

  “换句话说,我一定要希望有埃德加·林惇的大蓝眼睛和平坦的额头才行,”他回答,“我真心愿望——可那也不会帮助我得到那些。”

  “只要有了好心,就会使你有张好看的脸,我的孩子,”我接着说,“哪怕你是一个真正的黑人;而一颗坏心就会把最漂亮的脸变得比丑还要糟。现在我们洗呀,梳呀,闹别扭呀,都搞完啦。告诉我你是不是觉得你自己挺漂亮?我要告诉你,我可觉得你简直像一个化装的王子哩。谁知道呢?也许你父亲是中国的皇帝,你母亲是个印度皇后,他们俩中间一个人只要用一个星期的收入,就能把呼啸山庄和画眉田庄一块买过来?而你是被恶毒的水手绑了票,才带到英国来的。如果我处在你的地位,我就要对我的出身编造出很高的奇想。而且一想到我曾经是什么人,就可以给我勇气和尊严来抵得住一个小农场主的压迫!”

  我就这样喋喋不休地扯下去,希刺克厉夫渐渐地消除了他的不快,开始表现得挺快乐了。这时我们的谈话一下子被一阵从大路上传来进了院子的辚辚车声打断了。他跑到窗口,我跑到了院子里,刚好看见林惇兄妹俩从家用马车中走下来,裹着大氅皮裘,恩萧们也从他们的马上下来,他们在冬天常常骑马去教堂的。凯瑟琳一手牵着一个孩子,把他们带到大厅里,安置在火炉前,他们的白脸很快地有了血色。

  我催我的同伴现在要赶快收拾,还要显得和和气气,他心甘情愿地顺从了。可是倒楣的是,他一打开从厨房通过来的这边门,辛德雷也正打开另一边门。他们碰上了,主人一看见他又干净又愉快的样子就冒火了——或者,也许因为一心要对林惇夫人守信用吧——猛然一下把他推回去,而且生气地叫约瑟夫,“不许这家伙进这间屋子——把他送到阁楼里去,等午饭吃过再说。

  要是让他跟他们在一起待上一分钟,他就要用手指头塞到果酱蛋糕里去,还会偷水果哩。”

  “不会的,先生,”我忍不住搭腔了,“他什么也不会碰的,他不会的。而且我猜想他一定和我们一样也有他那份点心。”

  “要是在天黑以前我在楼下捉到他,就叫他尝尝我的巴掌,”辛德雷吼着。“滚,你这流氓!什么?你打算作个花花公子么,是不是;等我抓住那些漂亮的卷发——瞧瞧我会不会把它再拉长一点!”

  “那已经够长的啦,”林惇少爷说,从门口偷瞧,“我奇怪这些头发没让他头疼。耷拉到他的眼睛上面像马鬃似的!’

  他说这话并没有侮辱他的想法。可是希刺克厉夫的暴性子却不准备忍受在那时候甚至似乎已经当作情敌来痛恨的那人的傲慢表现。他抓起一盆热苹果酱,这是他顺手抓到的头一件东西,把它整个向说话的人的脸上和脖子上泼去。那个人立刻哭喊起来,伊莎贝拉和凯瑟琳都连忙跑到这边儿来。恩萧先生马上抓起这个罪犯,把他送到他卧房里去。毫无疑问,他在那儿采用了一种粗暴的治疗法压下那一阵愤怒,因为他回来时脸挺红而且喘着气。我拿起擦碗布,恶狠狠地揩着埃德加的鼻子和嘴,说这是他多管闲事的报应。他的妹妹开始哭着要回家,凯蒂站在那里惊慌失措,为这一切羞得脸红。

  “你不应该跟他说话!”她教训着林惇少爷,“他脾气不好,现在你把这一趟拜访搞糟糕啦。他还要挨鞭子,我可不愿意他挨鞭子!我吃不下饭啦。你干吗跟他说话呢,埃德加?”

  “我没有,”这个少年抽泣着,从我手里挣脱出来,用他的白麻纱手绢结束剩余的清洁工作。“我答应过妈妈我一句话也不跟他说,我没有说。”

  “好啦,别哭啦,”凯瑟琳轻蔑地回答,“你并没有被人杀死。别再淘气了。我哥哥来啦,安静些!嘘,伊莎贝拉!有人伤着你了吗?”

  “喏,喏,孩子们——坐到你们的位子上去吧!”辛德雷匆匆忙忙进来喊着。“那个小畜生倒把我搞得挺暖和。下一回,埃德加少爷,就用你自己的拳头打吧——那会使你开胃的!”

  一瞅见这香味四溢的筵席,这小小的一伙人又安定下来。他们在骑马之后已经饿了,而且那点气也容易平下来,因为他们并没有受到什么真正的伤害。恩萧先生切着大盘的肉,女主人的谈笑风生使他们高兴起来。我站在她椅子背后侍候着,而且很难过地看着凯瑟琳,她毫无眼泪的眼睛带着漠然的神气,开始切她面前的鹅翅膀。

  “没心肝的孩子,”我心想,“她多么轻易地就把她从前游伴的苦恼给撇开啦。我没法想象她竟是这么自私。”

  她拿起一口吃的送到嘴边,随后又把它放下了。她的脸绯红,眼泪涌出来。她把叉子滑落到地板上,赶紧钻到桌布下面去掩盖她的感情。没过多久我就再不能说她没心肝了,因为我看出来她一整天都在受罪,苦苦想着找个机会自己呆着,或是去看看希刺克厉夫——他已经被主人关起来了——照我看来,她想私下给他送吃的去。

  晚上我们有个跳舞会。凯蒂请求这时把他放出来,因为伊莎贝拉·林惇没有舞伴。她的请求是白费的,我奉命来补这个缺。这种活动使我们兴奋,它驱散了一切忧郁和烦恼。吉默吞乐队的到来更增添了我们的欢乐。这乐队有十五个人之多——除了歌手外,还有一个喇叭,一个长喇叭,几支竖笛,低音笛,法国号角,一把低音提琴。每年圣诞节,他们轮流到所有的体面人家演奏,收点捐款。能听到他们的演奏,我们是当作一件头等乐事来看待的,等到一般的颂主诗歌唱之后,就请他们唱歌曲和重唱。恩萧太太爱好音乐,所以他们演奏了不少。

  凯瑟琳也爱好音乐,可是她说在楼上听起来,那将会是最动听的了,于是,就摸黑上了楼,我也跟着走开。他们把楼下大厅的门关着,根本没注意我们,因为那屋里挤满了这么多人。她没有在楼梯口上停下,却往上走,走到禁闭希刺克厉夫的阁楼上,叫唤他。有一会他执拗地不理睬。她坚持叫下去,最后说服了他,隔着木板与她交谈。我让这两个可怜的东西谈着话,不受干扰,直等到我推测歌唱要停止,那些歌手要吃点东西了,我就爬上梯子去提醒她。我在外面没找到她,却听见她的声音在里面。这小猴子是从一个阁楼的天窗爬进去,沿着房顶,又进另一个阁楼的天窗。于是我费了好大劲才把她叫出来。当她真出来时,希刺克厉夫也跟她来了。她坚持要我把他带到厨房去,因为我那位伙伴约瑟夫,为了躲避他所谓的“魔鬼颂”,到邻居家去了。我告诉他们我无意鼓励他们玩这种把戏,但是既然这囚犯自从昨天午饭后就没吃过,我就默许他欺瞒辛德雷这一回。他下去了,我搬个凳子叫他坐在火炉旁,给他一大堆好吃的。可是他病了,吃不下,我本想款待他的企图也只好丢开了。他两个胳臂肘支在膝上,手托着下巴,一直不声不响地沉思着。我问他想些什么,他严肃地回答——

  “我在打算怎样报复辛德雷。我不在乎要等多久,只要最后能报仇就行,希望他不要在我报复之前就死掉。”

  “羞啊,希刺克厉夫!”我说,“惩罚恶人是上帝的事,我们应该学着饶恕人。”

  “不,上帝得不到我那种痛快,”他回答,“但愿我能知道最好的方法才好!让我一个人呆着吧,我要把它计划出来。这样在想那件事的时候,我就不觉得痛苦了。”

  可是,洛克乌德先生,我倒忘记了这些故事是不能供你消遣的。我再也没想到絮叨到这样地步,真气人。你的粥冷啦,你也瞌睡啦!我本来可以把你要听的关于希刺克厉夫的历史用几个字说完的。

  管家这样打断了她自己的话,站起来,正要放下她的针线活,但是我觉得离不开壁炉,而且我一点睡意也没有。

  “坐着吧,丁太太,”我叫着,“坐吧,再坐半个钟头!你这样慢条斯理地讲故事正合我的意,你就用同样的口气讲完吧。我对你所提的每个人物或多或少都感到有兴趣哩。”

  “钟在打十一点啦,先生。”

  “没关系——我不习惯在十二点以前上床的。对于一个睡到十点钟才起来的人,一两点钟睡已经够早的啦。”

  “你不应该睡到十点钟。早上最好的时间在十点以前就过去啦。一个人要是到十点钟还没有做完他一天工作的一半,就大有可能剩下那一半也做不完。”

  “不管怎么样,丁太太,还是再坐下来吧,因为明天我打算把夜晚延长到下午哩。我已经预感到自己至少要得一场重伤风。”

  “我希望不会,先生。好吧,你必须允许我跳过三年,在那期间,恩萧夫人——”

  “不,不,我不允许这样搞法!你熟悉不熟悉那样的心情:如果你一个人坐着,猫在你面前地毯上舐它的小猫,你那么专心地看着这个动作,以致有一只耳朵猫忘记舐了,就会使你大不高兴?”

  “我得说,是一种很糟糕的懒性子。”

  “相反,是一种紧张得令人讨厌的心情。在目前,我的心情正是这样。因此,你要详详细细地接着讲下去。我看出来这一带的人,对于城里的那些形形色色的居民来说,就好比地窖里的蜘蛛见着茅舍里的蜘蛛,得益不少。这并不完全我是个旁观者,才得出这种日益深刻的印象。他们确实更认真,更自顾自的过着日子,不太顾及那些表面变化的和琐碎的外界事物。我能想象在这儿,几乎可能存在着一种终生的爱;而我过去却死不相信会有什么爱情能维持一年。一种情况像是把一个饥饿的人,安放在仅仅一盘菜前面,他可以精神专注地大嚼一顿,毫不怠慢它。另一种情况,是把他领到法国厨子摆下的一桌筵席上,他也可能从这整桌菜肴中同样享用了一番,但是各盆菜肴在他心目中、记忆里却仅仅是极微小的分子而已。”

  “啊!你跟我们熟了的时候,就知道我们这儿跟别地方的人是一样的。”丁太太说,对我这番话多少有点莫名其妙。

  “原谅我,”我搭腔,“你,我的好朋友,这是反对那句断言的一个显著证据。我一向认为的你们这一阶层人所固有的习气,在你身上并未留下痕迹,你只是稍稍有点乡土气罢了。我敢说你比一般仆人想得多些。你不得不培养你思考的能力,因为你没有必要把生命消耗在愚蠢的琐事中。

  丁太太笑起来。

  “我的确认为我自己是属于一种沉着清醒的人,”她说,

  “这倒不一定是由于一年到头住在山里,老是看见那几张面孔和老套的动作,而是我受过严格的训练,这个给了我智慧;而且我读过的书比你想象的还多些,洛克乌德先生。在这个图书室里,你可找不到有哪本书我没看过,而且本本书,我都有所得益。除了那排希腊文和拉丁文的,还有那排法文的,但那些书我也能分辨得出。对于一个穷人的女儿,你也只能期望这么多。只是,如果你希望我像闲聊一样,把整个来龙去脉都要细讲,那我就这样说下去吧。而且,时间上不跳过三年,就从第二年夏天讲起也可以啦——一七七八年的夏天,那就是,差不多二十三年前。”

   

   

     

 第八章

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

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

  “可是她病得很重吗?”我问,丢下耙,系上帽子。

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

  “主人回答什么呢!”我追问着。

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

  我们到了呼啸山庄的时候,他正站在门前。在我进去时,我问:“孩子怎么样?”

  “简直都能跑来跑去啦,耐儿①!”他回答,露出愉快的笑容。

  

  ①耐儿——Nell,耐莉(Nelly)的爱称。

  “女主人呢?”我大胆地问,“大夫说她是——”

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

  我把这话传达给恩萧夫人,她看来兴致勃勃,而且挺开心地回答:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  “一幅非常讨人喜欢的肖像,”我对管家说,“像不像他本人?”

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

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

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

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

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

  “凯蒂,今天下午你忙吗?”希刺克厉夫问,“你要到什么地方去吗?”

  “不,下着雨呢。”她回答。

  “那你干吗穿那件绸上衣?”他说,“我希望,没人来吧?”

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

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

  “啊,可是约瑟夫会告状的,”她绕着弯儿说,“你最好还是去吧!”

  “约瑟夫在盘尼斯吞岩那边装石灰哩,他要忙到天黑,他决不会知道的。”

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

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

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

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

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

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

  “表示我是注意了的。”希刺克厉夫说。

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

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

  “什么都不知道,什么话也不说的人根本谈不上作伴,”她咕噜着。

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

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

  “不早,”凯瑟琳回答,“你在那儿干吗,耐莉?”

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

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

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

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

  “我很抱歉,凯瑟琳小姐。”这是我的回答,我还继续一心一意地作我的事。

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

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

  “那么,这是什么?”我回嘴,指着我明摆着的紫斑作为见证来驳倒她。

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

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

  “离开这间屋子,艾伦!”她重复说,浑身发抖。

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

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

  “你到哪儿去?”凯瑟琳走到门口追问着。

  他偏过身子,打算走过去。

  “你可不能走!”她执拗地叫嚷着。

  “我非走不可,而且就要走!”他压低了声音回答。

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

  “你打了我,我还能留下来么?”林惇问。

  凯瑟琳不吭气了。

  “你已经使得我怕你,为你害臊了,”他接着说,“我不会再到这儿来了!”

  她的眼睛开始发亮,眼皮直眨。

  “而且你有意撒谎!”他说。

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

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

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

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

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

   

   

   

 第九章

  他进来了,叫喊着不堪入耳的咒骂的话,刚好看见我正把他的儿子往厨房碗橱里藏。哈里顿对于碰上他那野兽般的喜爱或疯人般的狂怒,都有一种恐怖之感,这是因为在前一种情况下他有被挤死或吻死的机会,而在另一种情况下他又有被丢在火里或撞在墙上的机会。他的惊恐倒使我可以随意地把他放在任何地方,这可怜的东西总是不声不响。

  “哪,我到底发现啦!”辛德雷大叫,抓着我脖子上的皮,像拖只狗似地往后拖。“天地良心,你们一定发了誓要谋害那个孩子!现在我知道他怎么总不在我的跟前了。可是,魔鬼帮助我,我要让你吞下这把切肉刀,耐莉!你不用笑,因为我刚刚把肯尼兹头朝下闷到黑马沼地里,两个一个都一样——我要杀掉你们几个,我不杀就不安心!”

  “可我不喜欢切肉刀,辛德雷先生,”我回答,“这刀刚切过熏青鱼。要是你愿意的话,我情愿被枪杀。”

  “你还是遭天杀吧,”他说,“而且你将来也非遭不可。在英格兰没有一条法律能禁止一个人把他的家弄得像样,可我的家却乱七八糟!——张开你的嘴!”

  他握住刀子,把刀尖向我的牙齿缝里戳。而我可从来不太怕他的奇想。我唾一下,肯定说味道很讨厌——我无论如何不要吞下去。

  “啊!”他放开了我,说道,“我看出那个可恶的小流氓不是哈里顿——我请你原谅,耐儿——要是他的话,他就应该活剥皮,因为他不跑来欢迎我,而且还尖声大叫,倒好像我是个妖怪。不孝的崽子,过来!你欺骗一个好心肠的、上当的父亲,我要教训教训你。现在,你不觉得这孩子头发剪短点还可以漂亮些吗?狗的毛剪短可以显得凶些,我爱凶的东西——给我一把剪刀——凶而整洁的东西!而且,那是地狱里才有的风气——珍爱我们的耳朵是魔鬼式的狂妄,——我们没有耳朵,也够像驴子的啦。嘘,孩子,嘘!好啦,我的乖宝贝!别哭啦,揩干你的眼睛——这才是个宝贝啦。亲亲我。什么!他不肯?亲亲我,哈里顿!该死的,亲亲我!上帝呀,好像我愿意养这么个怪物似的!我非把这臭孩子的脖子摔断不可。”

  可怜的哈里顿在他父亲怀里拚命又喊又踢,当他把哈里顿抱上楼,而且把他举到栏杆外面的时候,他更加倍地喊叫。我一边嚷着他会把孩子吓疯的,一边跑去救他。我刚走到他们那儿,辛德雷在栏杆上探身向前倾听楼下有个声音,几乎忘记他手里有什么了。“是谁?”他听到有人走近楼梯跟前,便问道。我也探身向前,为的是想作手势给希刺克厉夫,我已经听出他的脚步声了,叫他不要再走过来。就在我的眼睛刚刚离开哈里顿这一瞬间,他猛然一窜,便从那不当心的怀抱中挣脱出来,掉下去了。

  我们只顾看这个小东西是否安全,简直没有时间来体验那尖锐的恐怖感觉了。希刺克厉夫正在紧要关头走到了楼下,他下意识地把他接住了,并且扶他站好,抬头看是谁惹下的祸。即使是一个守财奴为了五分钱舍弃一张幸运的彩票,而第二天发现他在这交易上损失了五千镑,也不能表现出当希刺克厉夫看见楼上的人是恩萧先生时那副茫然若失的神气。那副神气比言语还更能明白地表达出那种极其深沉的苦痛,因为他竟成了阻挠他自己报仇的工具。若是天黑,我敢说,他会在楼梯上打碎哈里顿的头颅来补救这错误,但是我们亲眼看见孩子得救了,我立刻下楼把我的宝贝孩子抱过来,紧贴在心上。辛德雷从容不迫地下来,酒醒了,也觉得羞愧了。

  “这是你的错,艾伦,”他说,“你该把他藏起来不让我看见。你该把他从我手里抢过去。他跌伤了什么地方没有?”

  “跌伤!”我生气地喊着,“他要是没死,也会变成个白痴!啊!我奇怪他母亲怎么不从她的坟里站起来瞧瞧你怎样对待他。你比一个异教徒还坏——这样对待你的亲骨肉!”

  他想要摸摸孩子。这孩子一发觉他是跟着我,就马上发泄出他的恐怖,放声哭出来。但是他父亲的手指头刚碰到他,他就又尖叫起来,叫得比刚才更高,而且挣扎着像要惊风似的。

  “你不要管他啦!”我接着说。“他恨你——他们都恨你——这是实话!你有一个快乐的家庭,却给你弄到这样一个糟糕的地步!”

  “我还要弄得更糟哩,耐莉,”这陷入迷途的人大笑,恢复了他的顽强,“现在,你把他抱走吧。而且,你听着,希刺克厉夫!你也走开,越远越好。我今晚不会杀你,除非,也许,我放火烧房子:那只是我这么想想而已。”

  说着,他从橱里拿出一小瓶白兰地,倒一些在杯子里。

  “不,别!”我请求,“辛德雷先生,请接受我的警告吧。

  如果你不爱惜你自己,就可怜可怜这不幸的孩子吧!”

  “任何人都会比我待他更好些,”他回答。

  “可怜可怜你自己的灵魂吧!”我说,竭力想从他手里夺过杯子。

  “我可不。相反,我宁愿叫它沉沦来惩罚它的造物主,”这亵渎神明的人喊叫着,“为灵魂的甘心永堕地狱而干杯!”

  他喝掉了酒,不耐烦地叫我们走开。用一连串的可怕的,不堪重述也不能记住的咒骂,来结束他的命令。

  “可惜他不能醉死,”希刺克厉夫说。在门关上时,也回报了一阵咒骂,“他是在拚命,可是他的体质顶得住,肯尼兹先生说拿自己的马打赌,在吉默吞这一带,他要比任何人都活得长,而且将像个白发罪人似的走向坟墓,除非他碰巧遇上什么越出常情的机会。”

  我走进厨房,坐下来哄我的小羔羊入睡。我以为希刺克厉夫走到谷仓去了。后来才知道他只走到高背长靠椅的那边,倒在墙边的一条凳子上,离火挺远,而且一直不吭声。

  我正把哈里顿放在膝上摇着,而且哼着一支曲子,那曲子是这样开始的——

  “夜深了,孩子睡着了。

  坟堆里的母亲听见了——”

  这时凯蒂小姐,已经在她屋里听见了这场骚扰,伸进头来,小声说:

  “你一个人吗,耐莉?”

  “是啊,小姐,”我回答。

  她走进来,走近壁炉。我猜想她要说什么话,就抬头望着。她脸上的表情看来又烦又忧虑不安。她的嘴半张着,好像有话要说。她吸了一口气,但是这口气化为一声叹息而不是一句话。我继续哼我的歌,还没有忘记她刚才的态度。

  “希刺克厉夫呢?”她打断了我的歌声,问我。

  “在马厩里干他的活哩,”这是我的回答。

  他也没有纠正我,也许他在瞌睡。接着又是一阵长长的停顿。这时我看见有一两滴水从凯瑟琳的脸上滴落到石板地上。她是不是为了她那可羞的行为而难过呢?我自忖着,那倒要成件新鲜事哩。可是她也许愿意这样——反正我不去帮助她!不,她对于任何事情都不大操心,除非是跟她自己有关的事。

  “啊,天呀!”她终于喊出来,“我非常不快乐!”

  “可惜,”我说,“要你高兴真不容易,这么多朋友和这么少牵挂,还不能使你自己知足!”

  “耐莉,你肯为我保密吗?”她纠缠着,跪在我旁边,抬起她那迷人的眼睛望着我的脸,那种神气足以赶掉人的怒气,甚至在一个人极有理由发怒的时候也可以。

  “值得保守吗?”我问,不太别扭了。

  “是的,而且它使我很烦,我非说出来不可!我要想知道我该怎么办。今天,埃德加·林惇要求我嫁给他,我也已经给他回答了。现在,在我告诉你这回答是接受还是拒绝之前,你告诉我应该是什么。”

  “真是的,凯瑟琳小姐,我怎么知道呢?”我回答。“当然,想想今天下午你当着他的面出了那么大的丑,我可以说拒绝他是聪明的。既然他在那件事之后请求你,他一定要么是个没希望的笨蛋,要么就是一个好冒险的傻瓜。”

  “要是你这么说,我就不再告诉你更多的了,”她抱怨地回答,站起来了。“我接受了,耐莉。快点,说我是不是错了!”

  “你接受了?那么讨论这件事又有什么好处呢?你已经说定,就不能收回啦。”

  “可是,说说我该不该这样作——说吧!”她用激怒的声调叫着,绞着她的双手,皱着眉。

  “在正确地回答那个问题之前,有许多事要考虑的,”我说教似地讲着。“首先,最重要的是你爱不爱埃德加先生?”

  “谁能不爱呢?当然我爱。”她回答。

  然后我就跟她一问一答:对于一个二十二岁的姑娘说来,这些问话倒不能算是没有见识。

  “你为什么爱他,凯蒂小姐?”

  “问得无聊,我爱——那就够了。”

  “不行,你一定要说为什么。”

  “好吧,因为他漂亮,而且在一起很愉快。”

  “糟,”这是我的评语。

  “而且因为他又年轻又活泼。”

  “还是糟。”

  “而且因为他爱我。”

  “那一点无关紧要。”

  “而且他将要有钱,我愿意做附近最了不起的女人,而我有这么一个丈夫就会觉得骄傲。”

  “太糟了!现在,说说你怎么爱他吧?”

  “跟每一个人恋爱一样。你真糊涂,耐莉。”

  “一点也不,回答吧。”

  “我爱他脚下的地,他头上的天,他所碰过的每一样东西,以及他说出的每一个字。我爱他所有的表情和所有的动作,还有整个的完完全全的他。好了吧!”

  “为什么呢?”

  “不,你是在开玩笑,这可太恶毒了!对我可不是开玩笑的事!”小姐说,并且皱起眉,掉过脸向着炉火。

  “我绝不是开玩笑,凯瑟琳小姐!”我回答。“你爱埃德加先生是因为他漂亮、年轻、活泼、有钱,而且爱你。最后这一点,不管怎么样,没什么作用,没有这一条,你也许还是爱他;而有了这条,你倒不一定,除非他具备四个优点。”

  “是啊,当然,如果他生得丑,而且是个粗人,也许我只能可怜他——恨他。”

  “可是世界上还有好多漂亮的、富裕的年轻人呀——可能比他还漂亮,还有钱。你怎么不去爱他们呢?”

  “如果有的话,他们也不在我的道路上!我还没有看见过像埃德加这样的人。”

  “你还可以看见一些,而且他不会总是漂亮、年轻,也不会总是有钱的。”

  “他现在是,而我只要顾眼前,我希望你说点合乎情理的话。”

  “好啦,那就解决了,如果你只顾眼前,就嫁林惇先生好啦。”

  “这件事我并不要得到你的允许——我要嫁他。可是你还没有告诉我,我到底对不对。”

  “如果人们结婚只顾眼前是对的话,那就完全正确。现在让我们听听你为什么不高兴。你的哥哥会高兴的,那位老太太和老先生也不会反对。我想,你将从一个乱糟糟的、不舒服的家庭逃脱,走进一个富裕的体面人家。而且你爱埃德加,埃德加也爱你。一切看来是顺心如意——障碍又在哪儿呢?”

  “在这里,在这里!”凯瑟琳回答,一只手捶她的前额,一只手捶胸:“在凡是灵魂存在的地方——在我的灵魂里,而且在我的心里,我感到我是错了!”

  “那是非常奇怪的!我可不懂。”

  “那是我的秘密。可要是你不嘲笑我,我就要解释一下了。

  我不能说得很清楚——可是我要让你感觉到我是怎样感觉的。”

  她又在我旁边坐下来,她的神气变得更忧伤、更严肃,她紧攥着的手在颤抖。

  “耐莉,你从来没有做过稀奇古怪的梦吗?”她想了几分钟后,忽然说。

  “有时候做。”我回答。

  “我也是的。我这辈子做过的梦有些会在梦过以后永远留下来跟我在一起,而且还会改变我的心意。这些梦在我心里穿过来穿过去,好像酒流在水里一样,改变了我心上的颜色。这是一个——我要讲了——可是你可别对随便什么话都笑。”

  “啊,别说啦,凯瑟琳小姐!”我叫着,“用不着招神现鬼来缠我们,我们已够惨的啦。来,来,高兴起来,像你本来的样子!看看小哈里顿——他梦中想不到什么伤心事。他在睡眠中笑得多甜啊!”

  “是的,他父亲在寂寞无聊时也诅咒得多甜!我敢说,你还记得他和那个小胖东西一样的时候——差不多一样的小而天真。可是,耐莉,我要请你听着——并不长;而我今天晚上也高兴不起来。”

  “我不要听,我不要听!”我赶紧反复说着。

  那时候我很迷信梦,现在也还是。凯瑟琳脸上又有一种异常的愁容,这使我害怕她的梦会使我感到什么预兆,使我预见一件可怕的灾祸。她很困恼,可是她没有接着讲下去。停一会她又开始说了,显然是另拣一个题目。

  “如果我在天堂,耐莉,我一定会非常凄惨。”

  “因为你不配到那儿去,”我回答,“所有的罪人在天堂里都会凄惨的。”

  “可不是为了那个。我有一次梦见我在那儿了。”

  “我告诉你我不要听你的梦,凯瑟琳小姐!我要上床睡觉啦。”我又打断了她。她笑了,按着我坐下来,因为我要离开椅子走了。

  “这并没有什么呀,”她叫着,“我只是要说天堂并不是像我的家。我就哭得很伤心,要回到尘世上来。而天使们大为愤怒,就把我扔到呼啸山庄的草原中间了。我就在那儿醒过来,高兴得直哭。这就可以解释我的秘密了,别的也是一样。讲到嫁给埃德加·林惇,我并不比到天堂去更热心些。如果那边那个恶毒的人不把希刺克厉夫贬得这么低,我还不会想到这个。现在,嫁给希刺克厉夫就会降低我的身份,所以他永远也不会知道我多么爱他;那并不是因为他漂亮,耐莉,而是因为他比我更像我自己。不论我们的灵魂是什么做成的,他的和我的是一模一样的;而林惇的灵魂就如月光和闪电,或者霜和火,完全不同。”

  这段话还没有讲完,我发觉希刺克厉夫就在这儿。我注意到一个轻微的动作,我回过头,看见他从凳子上站起来,不声不响地悄悄出去了。他一直听到凯瑟琳说嫁给他就会降低她的身份,就没再听下去。我的同伴,坐在地上,正被高背长靠椅的椅背挡住,看不见他在这儿,也没看见他离开。可是我吃了一惊,叫她别出声。

  “干吗?”她问,神经过敏地向四周望着。

  “约瑟夫来了,”我回答,碰巧听见他的车轮在路上隆隆的声音,“希刺克厉夫会跟他进来的。我不能担保他这会儿在不在门口哩。”

  “啊,他不可能在门口偷听我的!”她说。“把哈里顿交给我,你去准备晚饭,弄好了叫我去跟你一块吃吧。我愿意欺骗我这不好受的良心,而且也深信希刺克厉夫没想到这些事。

  他没有,是吧?他不知道什么叫做爱吧?”

  “我看不出有什么理由说他不能跟你一样地了解。”我回答,“如果你是他所选定的人,他就要成为天下最不幸的人了。你一旦变成林惇夫人,他就失去了朋友、爱情以及一切!你考虑过没有?你将怎样忍受这场分离,而他又将怎么忍受完全被人遗弃在世上,因为,凯瑟琳小姐——”

  “他完全被人遗弃!我们分开!”她喊,带着愤怒的语气。

  “请问,谁把我们分开?他们要遭到米罗①的命运!只要我还活着,艾伦——谁也不敢这么办。世上每一个林惇都可以化为乌有,我绝不能够答应放弃希刺克厉夫。啊,那可不是我打算的——那不是我的意思!要付这么一个代价,我可不作林惇夫人!将来他这一辈子,对于我,就和他现在对于我一样地珍贵。埃德加一定得消除对希刺克厉夫的反感,而且,至少要容忍他。当他知道了我对他的真实感情,他就会的。耐莉,现在我懂了,你以为我是个自私的贱人。可是,你难道从来没想到,如果希刺克厉夫和我结婚了,我们就得作乞丐吗?而如果我嫁给林惇,我就能帮助希刺克厉夫高升,并且把他安置在我哥哥无权过问的地位。”

  

  ①米罗——Milo,纪元前57年曾为罗马护民官。原为宠贝的手下人,原组织斗士与克劳狄斯暗斗达五年之久。纪元前55年做了罗马执政官。纪元前52年谋杀了克劳狄斯,后被控告并放逐。纪元前48年又组织叛乱,在科萨被捕并被处死。

  “用你丈夫的钱吗,凯瑟琳小姐?”我问,“你要发觉他可不是你估计的这么顺从。而且,虽然我不便下断言,我却认为那是你要作小林惇的妻子的最坏的动机。”

  “不是,”她反驳,“那是最好的!其他的动机都是为了满足我的狂想;而且也是为了埃德加的缘故——因为在他的身上,我能感到,既包含着我对埃德加的还包含着他对我自己的那种感情。我不能说清楚,可是你和别人当然都了解,除了你之外,还有,或是应该有,另一个你的存在。如果我是完完全全都在这儿,那么创造我又有什么用处呢?在这个世界上,我的最大的悲痛就是希刺克厉夫的悲痛,而且我从一开始就注意并且互相感受到了。在我的生活中,他是我最强的思念。如果别的一切都毁灭了,而他还留下来,我就能继续活下去;如果别的一切都留下来,而他却给消灭了,这个世界对于我就将成为一个极陌生的地方。我不会像是它的一部分。我对林惇的爱像是树林中的叶子:我完全晓得,在冬天变化树木的时候,时光便会变化叶子。我对希刺克厉夫的爱恰似下面的恒久不变的岩石:虽然看起来它给你的愉快并不多,可是这点愉快却是必需的。耐莉,我就是希刺克厉夫!他永远永远地在我心里。他并不是作为一种乐趣,并不见得比我对我自己还更有趣些,却是作为我自己本身而存在。所以别再谈我们的分离了——那是作不到的;而且——”

  她停住了,把脸藏到我的裙褶子里;可是我用力把她推开。对她的荒唐,我再也没有耐心了!

  “如果我能够从你的胡扯中找出一点意义来,小姐,”我说,“那只是使我相信你完全忽略了你在婚姻中所要承担的责任;不然,你就是一个恶毒的、没有品德的姑娘。可不要再讲什么秘密的话来烦我。我不能答应保守这些秘密。”

  “这点秘密你肯保守吧?”她焦急地问。

  “不,我不答应,”我重复说。

  她正要坚持,约瑟夫进来了,我们的谈话就此结束。凯瑟琳把她的椅子搬到角落里,照管着哈里顿,我就做饭。饭做好后,我的伙伴就跟我开始争执谁该给辛德雷送饭菜去,我们没能解决,直到饭菜都快冷了。然后我们达成协议说,我们就等他来要吧,如果他想吃的话。因为当他暂时单独一个人的时候,我们都特别怕走到他面前。

  “到这时候了,那个没出息的东西怎么还不从地里回来?他干嘛去啦?又闲荡去啦?”这老头子问着,四下里望着,想找希刺克厉夫。

  “我去喊他,”我回答。“他在谷仓里,我想没问题。”

  我去喊了,可是没有答应。回来时,我低声对凯瑟琳说,我料到他已经听到她所说的大部分话,并且告诉她正当她抱怨她哥哥对他的行为的时候,我是怎样看见他离开厨房的。她吃惊地跳起来——把哈里顿扔到高背椅子上,就自己跑出去找她的朋友了,也没有好好想想她为什么这么激动,或是她的谈话会怎样影响他。她去了很久,因此约瑟夫建议我们不必再等了。他多心地猜测他们在外面逗留为的是避免听他那拖得很长的祷告。他们是“坏得只会作坏事了,”他断定说。而且,为了他们的行为,那天晚上他在饭前通常作一刻钟的祈祷外,又加上一个特别祈祷,本来还要在祈祷之后再来一段,要不是他的小女主人这时冲进来,匆忙地命令他必须跑到马路上去,不管希刺克厉夫游荡到哪儿,也得找到他,要他马上再进来!

  “我要跟他说话,在我上楼以前,我非跟他说话不可,”她说。“大门是开着的,他跑到一个听不见喊叫的地方去啦。因为我在农场的最高处尽量使劲大声喊叫,他也不答理。”

  约瑟夫起初不肯,但是她太着急了,不容他反对。终于他把帽子往头上一戴,嘟哝着走出去了。

  这时,凯瑟琳在地板上来回走着,嚷着,“我奇怪他在哪儿——我奇怪他能跑到哪儿去了!我说了什么啦,耐莉?我都忘啦,他是怪我今天下午发脾气吗?亲爱的,告诉我,我说了什么使他难过的话啦?我真想他来。真想他会来呀!”

  “无缘无故嚷嚷什么!”我喊,虽然我自己也有点不定心。

  “这一丁点儿小事就把你吓着啦!当然是没有值得大惊小怪的大事,希刺克厉夫没准在旷野上来一个月下散步,或者就躺在稻草的厩楼里,别扭得不想跟我们说话。我敢说他是躲在那儿呢。瞧,我要不把他搜出来才怪!”

  我去重新找一遍,结果是失望,而约瑟夫找的结果也是一样。

  “这孩子越来越糟!”他一进来就说。“他把大门敞开了,小姐的小马都踏倒了两排小麦,还直冲到草地里去了!反正,主人明天早上一定要闹一场,闹个好看。他对这样不小心的,可怕的家伙可没有什么耐心——他可没有那份耐心!可他不能老是这样——你瞧着吧,你们大家!你们不应该让他无缘无故地发一阵疯!”

  “你找到希刺克厉夫没有?你这个蠢驴,”凯瑟琳打断他。

  “你有没有照我吩咐的找他?”

  “我倒情愿去找马,”他回答。“那还有意义些。可是在这样的夜晚,人马都没法找——黑得像烟囱似的!而且希刺克厉夫也不是听我一叫就来的人——没准你叫他还听得入耳些呢!”

  正当夏天,那倒真是一个非常黑的晚上。阴云密布,很像要有雷雨,我说我们最好还是坐下来吧:即将到来的大雨一定会把他带回家的,用不着再费事。但是没法把凯瑟琳劝得平静下来。她一直从大门到屋门来回徘徊,激动得一刻也不肯休息,终于在靠近路上一面墙边站住不动。在那儿,不顾我的忠告,不顾那隆隆的雷声和开始在她四周哗啦哗啦落下的大雨点,她就待在那儿,时不时喊叫一下,又听听,跟着放声大哭。这一场放声嚎啕大哭是哈里顿,或任何孩子都比不过的。

  大约午夜时分,我们都还坐着的当儿,暴风雨来势汹汹地在山庄顶上隆隆作响。起了一阵狂风,打了一阵劈雷,不知是风还是雷把屋角的一棵树劈倒了。一根粗大的树干掉下来压到房顶上,把东边烟囱也打下来一块,给厨房的炉火里送来一大堆石头和煤灰。我们还以为闪电落在我们中间了呢,约瑟夫跪下来,祈求主不要忘记诺亚和罗得①。而且,更像从前一样,虽然他要打击不敬神的人,却要赦免无辜的人。我也有点感到这一定也是对我们的裁判。在我的心里,约拿②就是恩萧先生。我就摇摇他小屋的门柄,想弄明白他是不是还活着。他回答得有气无力,使我的同伴比刚才喊得更热闹,好像要把像他自己这样的圣人和像他主人这样的罪人划清界限似的。但是二十分钟后这场骚扰过去了,留下我们全都安全无恙。只是凯蒂,由于她固执地拒绝避雨而淋得浑身湿透,不戴帽子,不披肩巾地站在那儿,任凭她的头发和衣服渗透了雨水。她进来了,躺在高背椅上,浑身水淋淋的,把脸对着椅背,手放在脸前。

  

  ①诺亚——Noah,见《圣经》旧约创世记第六、七、八、九章。上帝忿怒降洪水于世,诺亚受神示,造方舟将其家和各种家禽置于舟中,得免灾祸。

  罗得——Lot,为亚伯拉罕之侄,见《圣经》旧约创世记第十九章。在今死海边曾有一城名索顿Sodom,(《圣经》上名所多玛),圣经中谓该城居民罪恶深重,故天降大火焚之,罗得于该城灭亡时幸免于难。

  ②约拿——Jonah,见《圣经》旧约约拿书第一章。约拿因违抗上帝,乘船逃遁,上帝施以巨风,遂致吹入海中,为巨鱼所吞,而困于鱼腹中三昼夜。

  “好啦,小姐!”我叫着,抚着她的肩。“你不是下决心找死吧,是吗?你知道这是几点钟啦?十二点半啦。来吧!睡觉去。用不着再等那个傻孩子啦,他一定去吉默吞了,而且现在他一定住在那儿了。他猜想这么晚我们不会醒着等他,至少他猜到只有辛德雷先生会起来,他是宁可避免让主人给他开门的。”

  “不,不,他不会在吉默吞,”约瑟夫说。“我看他一定是掉在泥塘底下去啦。这场天降之祸不是无所谓的。我希望你们瞧瞧,小姐——下一回该是你了。为了一切感谢上帝!一切配合起来都是为了他们好,仿佛从垃圾堆里挑选出来的!你们知道《圣经》上说什么——”

  他开始引了好几段经文,给我们指明章节,叫我们去查。

  我求这执拗的姑娘站起来换掉她的湿衣服,却是白费劲,只好走开,任她祈祷,任她发抖,我自己就带着哈里顿睡觉去了。小哈里顿睡得这么香,好像是他四周的每一个人都睡着了似的。以后我还听见约瑟夫读了一会经。然后,我还听得出他上梯子时慢腾腾的脚步,后来我就睡着了。

  我比平时下楼迟些,靠着百叶窗缝中透进来的阳光,看见凯瑟琳小姐还坐在壁炉房。大厅的门也还是半开,从那没有关上的窗户那儿进来了光亮。辛德雷已经出来了,站在厨房炉边,憔悴而懒塌塌的。

  “什么事让你难过呀,凯蒂?”我进来时他正在说。“看你像个淹死的小狗那样惨凄凄的。孩子,你怎么这么混,这么苍白?”

  “我淋湿了,”她勉强回答,“而且我冷,就这么回事。”

  “啊,她太不乖啦!”我大声说,看出来主人还相当清醒,

  “她昨天晚上在大雨里泡,而且她又坐了个通宵,我也没法劝得她动一动。”

  恩萧先生惊奇地瞅瞅我们。“通宵,”他重复着,“什么事使她不睡?当然,不会是怕雷吧?几个钟头以前就不打雷了。”

  我们都不愿意提希刺克厉夫失踪的事,我们能瞒多久就瞒多久,所以我回答,我不知道她怎么想起来坐着不睡,她也没说什么。早上的空气是新鲜凉快的,我把窗户拉开,屋里立刻充满了从花园里来的甜甜的香气。可是凯瑟琳暴躁地叫唤我,“艾伦,关上窗户。我都要冻死了!”她向那几乎灭了的灰烬那边移近些,缩成一团,牙齿直打颤。

  “她病了,”辛德雷说,拿起她的手腕,“我想这是她不肯上床去的缘故。倒霉!我可不愿这儿再有人生病添麻烦,你干吗到雨里去呢?”

  “和平时一样,追男孩子呀!”约瑟夫嗄声说,趁我们在犹豫时,就抓住机会进谗言。“如果我是你,主人,我就不论他们是贵是贱都给他们一顿耳光!只要有一天你不在家,那个贪嘴的猫林惇可就偷着来啦。还有耐莉小姐呀,她也是个不赖的小姐!她就坐在厨房守着你,你一进这个门,她就出了那个门。还有,我们那个贵妇人就走到她跟前巴结去!这可是好事,夜里十二点钟过了,跟那个吉普赛人生的野鬼,希刺克厉夫,躲在地里!他们以为我是瞎子,我才不是:一点也不瞎!我瞧见小林惇来,也瞧见他走,我还瞅见你(指着我说),你这没出息的,破破烂烂的巫婆!你一听见主人的马蹄在路上响,你就跳起来窜到大厅里去。”

  “住嘴,偷听话的!”凯瑟琳嚷着,“在我面前不容你放肆!辛德雷,埃德加·林惇昨天是碰巧来的,是我叫他走的,因为我知道你一直不喜欢遇见他。”

  “你撒谎,凯蒂,毫无疑问,”她哥哥回答,“你是一个讨厌的呆子!可是目前先别管林惇吧。——告诉我,你昨天夜里没跟希刺克厉夫在一起么?现在,说实话。你用不着怕我害他,虽然我一直这么恨他,不久以前他却为我作了件好事,使我的良心没法让我掐断他的脖子了。为了防止这种事,我今天早上就要赶他走。等他走后,我劝你们都小心点,我可要对你们不客气哪!”

  “我昨天夜里根本没有看见希刺克厉夫,”凯瑟琳回答。开始痛哭起来:“你要是把他撵出大门,我就一定要跟他走。可是,也许,你永远不会有机会啦!也许他已经走啦。”说到这儿,她忍不住放声哀哭,她下面的话就听不清了。

  辛德雷向她冷嘲热讽,大骂一场,叫她立刻回她屋里去,要不然的话,就不该无缘无故地大哭!我请求她服从。当我们到了她的卧房时,我永远不会忘记她演了怎样的一场戏,真的把我吓坏了——我以为她要疯了,我就求约瑟夫快跑去请大夫。这证实是热病的开始,肯尼兹先生一看见她,就宣布她病势危险,她在发烧。他给她放血,又告诉我只给她乳浆和稀饭吃;而且要小心别让她跳楼,或是跳窗,然后他就走了。因为他在这教区里是够忙的,而在这一带,这个村和那个村,中间相隔两三英里远是常有的事。

  虽然我不能说我是一个温柔的看护,可是约瑟夫和主人总不见得比我好。而且虽然我们的病人是病人中最麻烦、最任性的——可是她总算起死回生了。当然啦,老林惇夫人来拜访了好几次,而且百般挑剔,把我们都骂了一阵,吩咐了一阵,当凯瑟琳病快复原的时候,她坚持要把她送到画眉田庄去。这真是皇恩大赦,我们非常感谢。但是这可怜的太太很有理由后悔她的善心,她和她丈夫都被传染了热病,在几天之内,两人便相继逝世了。

  我们的小姐回到我们这儿来,比以前更拗,更暴躁,也更傲慢了。希刺克厉夫自从雷雨之夜后就毫无音讯。有一天她惹得我气极啦,我自认倒霉竟把他的失踪归罪于她身上了。的确这责任是该她负,她自己也明白。从那个时期起,有好几个月,她不理我,仅仅保持主仆关系。约瑟夫也受到冷遇:尽管他只顾说他自己的想法,还拿她当个小姑娘似的教训她,她却把自己当作成年女子,是我们的女主人。并且以为她最近这场病使她有权要求别人体谅她。还有,大夫也说过她不能再受很多打击了,她得由着她自己的性子才行。在她眼里,任何人若敢于站起来反对她,就跟谋杀差不多。她对恩萧先生和他的同伴们都躲得远远的,她哥哥受了肯尼兹的教导,又想到她的狂怒常常会引起一阵癫痫的严重威胁,也就对她百依百顺,尽量不去惹恼她。讲到容忍她的反复无常,他实在是太迁就了,这并不是出于感情,而是出于妄自尊大,他真心盼望能看到她和林惇家联姻以便门第增光,并且只要她不去打扰他,她就尽可以把我们当奴隶一样践踏,他才不管呢!埃德加·林惇,像在他以前和以后的多数人一样,是给迷住了。他父亲逝世三年后,他把她领到吉默吞教堂那天,他自信是世上最幸福的人。

  我很勉强地被劝说离开了呼啸山庄,陪她到这儿来了。小哈里顿差不多五岁了,我才开始教他认字,我们分别得很惨。可是凯瑟琳的眼泪比我们的更有力量——当我拒绝去,而她发觉她的请求不能感动我的时候,她就到她丈夫和她哥哥跟前去恸哭。她丈夫要给我很多工钱,她哥哥命令我打铺盖——他说,现在没有女主人啦,他屋里不需要女佣人了。至于哈里顿,不久就有副牧师来照管了。因此我只有一条路可以选择,叫我做什么就照办吧。我告诉主人说,他把所有的正派人都打发走了,那只会让他毁灭得更快些。我亲亲哈里顿作为告别。从此以后他和我是陌生人啦,想起来可非常古怪,可是我敢说他已把丁艾伦一古脑儿全忘了,也忘了他曾经是她在世上最宝贵的,而她也曾是他最宝贵的!

  管家把故事讲到这里,偶然向烟囱上的时钟瞅了一眼:出乎她的意料,时针已指到一点半。她就再也不肯多待一秒钟。老实说,我自己也有意让她的故事的续篇搁一搁。现在她已经不见踪影,睡觉去了,我又沉思了一两个钟头,虽然我的头和四肢痛得不想动,可是我也得鼓起勇气去睡觉了。

   

   

 

 第十章

  对于一个隐士的生活这倒是一个绝妙的开始!四个星期的折磨,辗转不眠,还有生病!啊,这荒凉的风,严寒的北方天空,难走的路,慢腾腾的乡下大夫!还有,啊,轻易看不见人的脸,还有,比什么都糟的是肯尼兹可怕的暗示,说我不到春天甭想出门!

  希刺克厉夫先生刚刚光临来看了我。大概在七天以前他送我一对松鸡——这是这季节的最后两只了。坏蛋!我这场病,他可不是全然没有责任的,我很想这样告诉他。可是,唉呀!这个人真够慈悲,坐在我床边足足一个钟点。谈了一些别的题目,而不谈药片、药水、药膏治疗之类的内容,那么我怎么能得罪他呢?这倒是一段舒适的休养时期。我还太弱,没法读书,但是我觉得我仿佛能够享受一点有趣的东西了。为什么不把丁太太叫上来讲完她的故事呢?我还能记得她所讲到的主要情节。是的,我记得她的男主角跑掉了,而且三年杳无音讯;而女主角结婚了。我要拉铃。我要是发现我已经能够愉快地聊天,一定会高兴的。丁太太来了。

  “先生,还要等二十分钟才吃药哩,”她开始说。

  “去吧,去它的!”我回答,“我想要——”

  “医生说你必须服药粉了。”

  “我满心愿意,不要打扰我。过来,坐在这儿。不要碰那一排苦药瓶。把你的毛线活从口袋里拿出来——好啦——现在接着讲希刺克厉夫先生的历史吧,从你打住的地方讲到现在。他是不是在欧洲大陆上完成他的教育,变成一个绅士回来了?或是他在大学里得到了半工半读的免费生的位置?或者逃到美洲去,从他的第二祖国那儿吸取膏血而获得了名望?或者更干脆些在英国公路上打劫发了财?”

  “也许这些职业他都干过一点,洛克乌德先生,可是我说不出他究竟干了什么,我声明过我不知道他怎么搞到钱的!我也不明白他用什么方法把他本来沉入野蛮无知的心灵救出来的。但是,对不起,如果你认为能让你高兴而不烦扰你,我就要用我自己的方式讲下去了。你今天早上觉得好点吗?”

  “好多了。”

  “好消息。”

  我带着凯瑟琳小姐一起到了画眉田庄。虽然失望,然而足以欣慰的是她的举止好多了,这是我当初简直不敢想的。看来她几乎过于喜爱林惇先生了,甚至对他的妹妹,她也表现出十分亲热。当然,他们两个对她的舒适也非常关怀。并不是荆棘倒向忍冬①,而是忍冬拥抱荆棘。并没有双方互相让步的事,一个站得笔直,其他的人就都得顺从。既遭不到反对,又遭不到冷淡,谁还能使坏性子发脾气呢?我看出埃德加先生是生怕惹她发怒。他掩饰着这种惧怕不让她知道;可是当她有什么蛮不讲理的吩咐时,他若一听见我答话声气硬些,或是看见别的仆人不太乐意时,他就皱起眉头表示生气了,而他为了自己的事从来不沉下脸的。他几次很严厉地对我说起我的不懂规矩;而且肯定说那怕用一把小刀戳他一下,也抵不上看见他的夫人烦恼时那么难受。我不要让一位仁慈的主人难过,我就得学着克制些。而且,有半年时间,这火药像沙土一样地摆在那儿并没引爆,因为没有火凑近来使它爆炸。凯瑟琳时不时地也有阴郁和沉默的时候,她的丈夫便以同情的沉默,以表示尊重。他认为这是由于她那场危险的病所引起的体质上的变化,因为她以前从来没有过心情抑郁的时候。她如现出阳光重返的神气,他这边也就现出阳光重返来表示欢迎。我相信我可以说他们真的得到深沉的、与日俱增的幸福了。

  

  ①忍冬——honeysuckle,半常绿罐木,茎蔓生,初夏开白花,有香气,叶花可入药,俗名金银花。

  幸福完结了。唉,到头来我们总归是为了自己;温和慷慨的人不过比傲慢霸道的人自私得稍微公平一点罢了,等到种种情况使得两个人都感觉到一方的利益并不是对方思想中主要关心的事物的时候,幸福就完结了。九月里一个醉人的傍晚,我挎着一大篮才采下来的苹果从花园出来。那时已经快黑了,月亮从院子的高墙外照过来,照出一些模糊的阴影,潜藏在这房子的无数突出部分的角落里。我把我这篮东西放在厨房门口的台阶上,站一站,休息一会,再吸几口柔和甜美的空气,我抬眼望着月亮,背朝着大门,这时我听见我背后有个声音说:

  “耐莉,是你吗?”

  那是个深沉的声音,又是外地口音,可是唸我的名字又唸得让人听了怪熟悉的。我害怕地转过来看看倒是谁在说话,因为门是关着的,我又没看见有人上台阶。在门廊里有个什么东西在动。而且,正在走近,我看出是个高高的人,穿着黑衣服,有张黑黑的脸,还有黑头发。他斜靠在屋边,手指握着门闩,好像打算自己要开门似的。

  “能是谁呢?”我想着。“恩萧先生吗?啊,不是!声音不像他的。”

  “我已经等了一个钟头了,”就在我还发愣的当儿他又说了,“我等的时候,四周一直像死一样的静。我不敢进去。你不认识我了吗?瞧瞧,我不是生人呀!”

  一道光线照在他的脸上:两颊苍白,一半为黑胡须所盖,眉头低耸,眼睛深陷而且很特别。我记起这对眼睛了。

  “什么!”我叫道,不能确定是把他当作人,还是鬼。我惊讶地举起双手。“什么!你回来啦?真是你吗?是你吗?”

  “是啊,希刺克厉夫,”他回答,从我身上抬眼看一下窗户,那儿映照出灿烂的月亮,却没有灯光从里面射出来。“他们在家吗——她在哪儿?耐莉,你在不高兴——你用不着这么惊慌呀!她在这儿吗?说呀!我要跟她说一句话——你的女主人。去吧,说有人从吉默吞来想见见她。”

  “她怎么接受这消息呢?”我喊起来,“她会怎么办呢?这件意外的事真让我为难——这会让她昏了头的!你是希刺克厉夫!可是变啦!不,简直没法让人明白,你当过兵了吧?”

  “去吧,送我的口信去。”他不耐烦地打断了我的问话。

  “你不去,我就等于在地狱里!”

  他抬起门闩,我进去了。可是当我走到林惇先生和夫人所在的客厅那儿,我没法让自己向前走了。终于,我决定借口问他们要不要点蜡烛,我就开了门。

  他们一起坐在窗前,格子窗拉开,抵在墙上,望出去,除了花园的树木与天然的绿色园林之外,还可以看见吉默吞山谷,有一长条白雾简直都快环绕到山顶上(因为你过了教堂不久,也许会注意到,从旷野里吹来的燃燃微风,正吹动着一条弯弯曲曲顺着狭谷流去的小溪)。呼啸山庄耸立在这银色的雾气上面,但是却看不见我们的老房子——那是偏在山的另一面的。这屋子和屋里的人,以及他们凝视着的景致,都显得非常安谧。我畏畏缩缩不情愿执行我的使命,问过点灯的话后,实际上差点不说话就走开,这时意识到我的傻念头,就又迫使我回来,低声说:

  “从吉默吞来了一个人想见你,夫人。”

  “他有什么事?”林惇夫人问。

  “我没问他,”我回答。

  “好吧,放下窗帘,耐莉,”她说,“端茶来,我马上就回来。”

  她离开了这间屋子。埃德加先生不经意地问问是谁。

  “是太太没想到的人,”我回答,“就是那个希刺克厉夫——你记得他吧,先生——他原来住在恩萧先生家的。”

  “什么!那个吉普赛——是那个乡巴佬吗?”他喊起来。

  “你为什么不告诉凯瑟琳呢?”

  “嘘!你千万别这么叫他,主人,”我说。“她要是听见的话,她会很难过的。他跑掉的时候她几乎心碎了,我猜他这次回来对她可是件大喜事呢。”

  林惇先生走到屋子那边一个可以望见院子的窗户前,他打开窗户,向外探身。我猜他们就在下面,因为他马上喊起来了:

  “别站在那儿,亲爱的!要是贵客,就把他带进来吧。”

  没有多久,我听见门闩响,凯瑟琳飞奔上楼,上气不接下气,心慌意乱,兴奋得不知该怎么表现她的欢喜了:的确,只消看她的脸,你反而要猜疑将有什么大难临头似的。

  “啊,埃德加,埃德加!”她喘息着,搂着他的脖子。“啊,埃德加,亲爱的!希刺克厉夫回来啦——他是回来啦!”她拚命地搂住他。

  “好啦,好啦。”她丈夫烦恼地叫道,“不要为了这个就要把我勒死啦!我从来没有想到他是这么一个稀奇的宝贝。用不着高兴得发疯呀!”

  “我知道你过去不喜欢他。”她回答,稍微把她那种强烈的喜悦抑制了一些。“可是为了我的缘故,你们现在非作朋友不可。我叫他上来好吗?”

  “这里?”他说,“到客厅里来么?”

  “不到这儿还到哪儿呢?”她问。

  他显得怪难为情的,绕着弯儿说厨房对他还比较合适些。

  林惇夫人带着一种诙谐的表情瞅着他——对于他的苛求是又好气又好笑。

  “不!”过了一会她又说:“我不能坐在厨房里。在这儿摆两张桌子吧,艾伦,一张给你主人和伊莎贝拉小姐用,他们是有门第的上等人;另一张给希刺克厉夫和我自己,我们是属于下等阶级的。那样可以使你高兴吧,亲爱的?或是我必须在别的地方生个火呢?如果是这样,下命令吧。我要跑下楼陪我的客人了。我真怕这场欢喜太大了,也许不会是真的吧!”

  她正要再冲出去,可是埃德加把她拦住了。

  “你叫他上来吧。”他对我说:“还有,凯瑟琳,尽管欢喜可别做得荒唐!用不着让全家人都看着你把一个逃亡的仆人当作一个兄弟似的欢迎。”

  我下楼发现希刺克厉夫在门廊下等着,显然是预料要请他进来。他没有多说话就随着我进来了。我引他到主人和女主人面前,他们发红的脸还露出激辩的痕迹。但是当她的朋友在门口出现时,夫人的脸上闪着另一种情感。她跳上前去,拉着他的双手,领他到林惇这儿。然后她抓住林惇不情愿伸出来的手指硬塞到他的手里。这时我借着炉火和烛光,越发惊异地看见希刺克厉夫变了样。他已经长成了一个高高的、强壮的、身材很好的人;在他旁边,我的主人显得瘦弱,像个少年。他十分笔挺的仪表使人想到他一定进过军队,他的面容在表情上和神色上都比林惇先生老成果断多了:那副面容看来很有才智,并没有留下从前低贱的痕迹。一种半开化的野性还潜伏在那凹下的眉毛和那充满了黑黑的火焰的眼睛里,但是已经被克制住了。他的举止简直是庄重,不带一点粗野,然而严峻有余,文雅不足。我主人的惊奇跟我一样,或者还超过了我,他呆在那儿有一分钟之久,不知该怎样招呼这个他所谓的乡巴佬。希刺克厉夫放下他那瘦瘦的手,冷静地站在那儿望着他,等他先开口。

  “坐下吧,先生。”他终于说:“想起往日,林惇夫人要我诚意地接待你。当然,凡是能使她开心的任何事情,我都是很高兴去做的。”

  “我也是。”希刺克厉夫回答。“特别是那种如果有我参加的事情,我将很愿意待一两个钟头。”

  他在凯瑟琳对面的一张椅子上坐下来,她一直盯着他,唯恐她若不看他,他就会消失似的。他不大抬眼看她,只是时不时地很快地瞥一眼。可是这种偷看,每一次都带回他从她眼中所汲取的那种毫不掩饰的喜悦,越来越满不在乎了。他们过于沉浸在相互欢乐里,一点儿不觉得窘。埃德加先生可不这样,他满心烦恼而脸色苍白。当他的夫人站起来,走过地毯,又抓住希刺克厉夫的手,而只大笑得忘形的时候,这种感觉就达到顶点了。

  “明天我要以为这是一场梦哩!”她叫道:“我不能够相信我又看见了你,摸到你,而且还跟你说了话。可是,狠心的希刺克厉夫!你不配受这个欢迎。一去三年没有音信,从来没想到我!”

  “比你想到我可还多一点呢。”他低声说:“凯蒂,不久以前,我才听说你结婚了。我在下面院子等你的时候,我打算——只看一下你的脸——也许是惊奇地瞅一下,而且假装高兴,然后就去跟辛德雷算帐。再就自杀以避免法律的制裁。你的欢迎把我这些念头都赶掉了,可是当心下一回不要用另一种神气与我相见啊!不,你不会再赶走我了——你曾经真为我难过的,是吧?嗯,说来话长。自从我最后听见你说话的声音之后,我总算苦熬过来了,你必须原谅我,因为我只是为了你才奋斗的!”

  “凯瑟琳,除非我们是要喝冷茶,不然就请到桌子这儿来吧。”林惇打断说,努力保持他平常的声调,以及相当程度的礼貌。“希刺克厉夫先生无论今晚住在哪里,也还得走段长路,而且我也渴了。”

  她走到茶壶前面的座位上,伊莎贝拉小姐也被铃声召唤来了。然后,我把他们的椅子向前推好,就离开了这间屋子。这顿茶也没有超过十分钟。凯瑟琳的茶杯根本没倒上茶:她吃不下,也喝不下。埃德加倒了一些在他的碟子里,也咽不下一口。那天晚上他们的客人逗留不到一个钟头。他临走时,我问他是不是到吉默吞去?

  “不,到呼啸山庄去,”他回答。“今天早上我去拜访时,恩萧先生请我去住的。”

  恩萧先生请他!他拜访恩萧先生!在他走后,我苦苦地思索着这句话。他变得有点像伪君子了,乔装改扮了到乡间来害人吗?我冥想着——在我的心底有一种预感,他若是一直留在外乡,那还好些。

  大约在夜半,我才打盹没多会儿,就被林惇夫人弄醒了,她溜到我卧房里,搬把椅子在我床边,拉我的头发把我唤醒。

  “我睡不着,艾伦,”她说,算是道歉。“我要有个活着的人分享我的幸福!埃德加在闹别扭,因为我为一件并不使他发生兴趣的事而高兴。他死不开口,除了说了些暴躁的傻话。而且他肯定说我又残忍又自私,因为在他这么不舒服而且困倦的时候,我还想跟他说话。他有一点别扭就总是想法生病,我说了几句称赞希刺克厉夫的话,他,不是因为头痛,就是因为在嫉妒心重,开始哭起来,所以我就起身离开他了。”

  “称赞希刺克厉夫有什么用呢?”我回答。“他们做孩子的时候就彼此有反感,要是希刺克厉夫听你称赞他,也会一样地痛恨的——那是人性呀。不要让林惇先生再听到关于他的话吧,除非你愿意他们公开吵闹起来。”

  “那他不是表现了很大的弱点吗?”她追问着。“我是不嫉妒的——我对于伊莎贝拉的漂亮的黄头发,她的白皙的皮肤,她那端庄的风度,还有全家对她所表示的喜爱,可从来不觉得苦恼呀。甚至你,耐莉,假使我们有时候争执,你立刻向着伊莎贝拉,我就像个没主见的妈妈似的让步了——我叫她宝贝,把她哄得心平气和。她哥哥看见我们和睦就高兴,这也使我高兴。可是他们非常相像:他们是惯坏了的孩子,幻想这世界就是为了他们的方便才存在的。虽然我依着他们俩,可我又想狠狠的惩罚他们一下也许会把他们变好哩。”

  “你错了,林惇夫人,”我说。“他们迁就你哩——我知道他们要是不迁就你就会怎么样!只要他们努力不违背你的心意,你就得稍微忍让一下他们一时的小脾气。——但是,到末了,你们总会为了对于双方都有同等重要的什么事情闹开的,那时候你所认为软弱的人也能和你一样地固执哩。”

  “然后我们就要争到死,是吗,耐莉?”她笑着回嘴。“不!我告诉你,我对于林惇的爱情有着这样的信心:我相信我就是杀了他,他也不会想到报复的。”

  我劝她为了他的爱情那就更要尊重他些。

  “我是尊重啊,”她回答。“可是他用不着为了一点琐碎小事就借题哭起来。那是孩子气。而且,不应该哭得那样伤心,就因为我说希刺克厉夫如今可值得尊重了,乡里第一名绅士也会以跟他结交为荣,他原应该替我说这话,而且由于同意还感到愉快哩,他必须习惯他,甚至喜欢他:想想希刺克厉夫多有理由反对他吧,我敢说希刺克厉夫的态度好极啦!”

  “你对于他去呼啸山庄有什么想法?”我问她。“显然他在各方面都改好了——简直成了基督徒:向他四周的敌人都伸出了友好的右手!”

  “他解释了,”她回答。“我也跟你一样奇怪。他说他去拜访是想从你那里得到关于我的消息,他以为你还住在那里。约瑟夫就告诉了辛德雷,他出来了,问他一直作些什么,怎么生活的,最后要他走进去了。本来有几个人坐在那儿玩牌,希刺克厉夫也加入了。我哥哥输了一些钱给他,发现他有不少钱,就请他今晚再去,他也答应了。辛德雷是荒唐得不会谨慎地选择他的朋友,他没有动脑筋想想对于一个他践踏过的人应该不予信任的道理。但是希刺克厉夫肯定说他所以跟从前迫害他的人重新联系,主要因为要找一个离田庄不远的住处,可以常来常往,而且对我们曾在一起住过的房子也有一种眷恋;还有一个希望,希望我会有更多的机会到那儿去看他,如果他住在吉默吞,机会就少啦。他打算慷慨解囊以便住在山庄,毫无疑问我哥哥因为贪财而接受他,辛德雷总是贪婪的,虽然他一手抓过来,另一手又丢出去。”

  “那倒是年轻人的好住处!”我说。“你不怕有什么后果吗,林惇夫人?”“对于我的朋友,我不担心,”她回答,“他那坚强的头脑会使他躲开危险的。对于辛德雷倒有些担心。可是他在道德方面,总不能比现在更坏吧。至于伤害身体,我是要从中阻挡的。今晚的事情使我跟上帝和人类又和解了!我曾经愤怒地反抗神。啊,我曾经忍受过非常非常的悲哀啊,耐莉!如果那个人知道我曾是那么苦,他就该对他那因无聊的愤怒而不知去向的往事引以为羞哩。我一个人受苦,对他还好些,如果我表达出我时常感到的悲痛,他也会像我一样地热望着解脱这悲痛的。不管怎么样,事情过去啦,我对他的愚蠢也不要报复,今后我什么都能忍受啦!即便世上最下贱的东西打我的嘴巴,我不但要转过另一边给他打,还要请他原谅我惹他动手。而且,作为一个保证,我马上就要跟埃德加讲和啦。晚安!我是一个天使!”

  她就怀着这样自我陶醉的信心走了,第二天她显然已成功地实现了自己的决心。林惇先生不仅不再抱怨(虽然他的情绪看来仍然被凯瑟琳的旺盛的欢乐所压倒),而且居然不反对她带着伊莎贝拉下午一起去呼啸山庄。她用这么大量的甜言蜜语来报答他,使全家有好几天像天堂一样,不论主仆都从这无穷的阳光中获益不浅。

  希刺克厉夫——以后我要说希刺克厉夫先生了——起初还倒是谨慎地使用着拜访画眉田庄的自由权利,他仿佛在掂量田庄主人将怎样看待他的光临。凯瑟琳也认为在接待他时把她高兴的表情稍稍节制一下得当些,他渐渐地得到了他被接待的权利。他还保留不少在他童年时就很显著的缄默,这种缄默刚好能压抑情感的一切令人吃惊的表现。我主人的不安暂时平息了,以后的情况又使他的不安暂时转到另一个方面去了。

  他的烦恼的新根源,是从一件没有预料到的不幸的事而来的,伊莎贝拉对这位勉强受到招待的客人,表示了一种突然而不可抗拒的爱慕之情。那时她是一个十八岁的娇媚的小姐,举止还是孩子气的,虽然具有敏锐的才智,敏锐的感觉,如果给惹气了,还有一种敏锐的脾气。她的哥哥深深地爱着她,对于这荒诞的爱情惊骇万分。且不提和一个没名没姓的人联姻有失身份,也不提他若无男嗣,他的财产很可能落在这么一个人的掌握之中——把这些都搁在一边不提,他也还能理解希刺克厉夫的性格。他知道,虽然他的外貌变了,他的心地是不能变的,也没有变。他害怕,他使他反感,他不敢想到把伊莎贝拉交托给他,像有什么预感似的。如果他知道她的恋情是未经被追求就自己涌现出来了,而且对方以毫不动情作为报答,他更要畏缩了。因为他一发现这恋情的存在,就怪希刺克厉夫,认为是他精心策划出来的。

  有一段时间,我们都看出林惇小姐不知为什么事心烦意乱,而且很忧伤。她变得别扭而且消沉,常常叱骂揶揄凯瑟琳,眼看就有耗尽她那有限的耐性的危险。我们多多少少原谅她,借口说她不健康,她就在我们眼前萎靡憔悴下去。但是有一天,她特别执拗,不肯吃早餐,抱怨仆人不照她所吩咐的去作。女主人不许她在家里作任何事,而且埃德加也不睬她,又抱怨屋门敞开使她受了凉,而我们让客厅的炉火灭了存心惹她生气。此外还有一百条琐碎的诉苦。林惇夫人断然要她上床睡觉,而且把她痛骂一顿,吓唬她说要请大夫来。一提到肯尼兹,她立刻大叫,说她的健康情况十分好,只是凯瑟琳的苛刻使她不快乐而已。

  “你怎么能说我苛刻呢,你这怪脾气的宝贝?”女主人叫起来,对这毫无道理的论断感到莫名其妙。“你一定没有理性啦。我哪时候苛刻啦?告诉我!”

  “昨天,”伊莎贝拉抽泣着,“还有现在!”

  “昨天,”她嫂嫂说。“什么时候呀?”

  “在我们顺着荒野散步的时候,你吩咐我随便去溜达一下,而你却跟希刺克厉夫先生闲逛啦!”

  “这就是你所谓的苛刻吗?”凯瑟琳说,笑起来,“这并不是暗示你的陪伴是多余的,我们才不在乎你跟不跟我们在一起。我只不过以为希刺克厉夫的话你听着也未必有趣。”

  “啊,不,”小姐哭着,“你愿意我走开,因为你知道我喜欢在那儿!”

  “她神智清楚吗?”林惇夫人对我说。“我要把我们的谈话一个字一个字地背出来,伊莎贝拉,你把其中对你有任何吸引力的话指出来吧。”

  “我不在乎谈话,”她回答,“我要跟——”

  “怎么!”凯瑟琳说,看出她犹豫着,不知要不要说全这句话。

  “跟他在一起,我不要总是给人打发走!”她接着说,激动起来。“你是马槽里的一只狗①,凯蒂,而且希望谁也不要被人爱上,除了你自己!”

  

  ①引自《伊索寓言》,指已不能享用,而又不肯与人的鄙夫,即心术不正者。

  “你是一个胡闹的小猴子!”林惇夫人惊奇地叫起来。“可我不能相信这件蠢事!你没法博得希刺克厉夫的爱慕——你不能把他当作情投意合的人!但愿是我误解你的话啦,伊莎贝拉?”

  “不,你没有,”这入了迷的姑娘说,“我爱他胜过你爱埃德加,而且他可以爱我的,只要你让他爱!”

  “那么,就是给我王位,我也不愿意是你!”凯瑟琳断然声明,她好像很诚恳地说着。“耐莉,帮帮我让她明白她在发疯。告诉她希刺克厉夫是什么样的人:一个没驯服的人,不懂文雅,没有教养,一片长着金雀花和岩石的荒野。要叫我把你的心交给他,我宁可在冬天把那只小金丝雀放到园子里!可惜你不懂他的性格,孩子,没有别的原因,就是这种可悲的糊涂,才会让那个梦钻进你的头脑里。求求你别妄想他在一副严峻的外表下深深埋藏着善心和恋情!他不是一块粗糙的钻石——乡下人当中的一个含珠之蚌,而是一个凶恶的,无情的,像狼一样残忍的人。我从来不对他说,‘放开这个或那个敌人吧,因为伤害他们是不正大光明的,残酷的。’我说,‘放开他们吧,因为我可不愿意他们被冤枉。’伊莎贝拉,如果他发现你是一个麻烦的负担,他会把你当作麻雀蛋似的捏碎。我知道他不会爱上一个林惇家的人。但是他也很可能跟你的财产和继承财产的希望结婚的。贪婪跟着他成长起来,成了易犯的罪恶。这就是我对他的写照。而且我是他的朋友——就因为如此,如果他真打算提到你,也许我应该不开口,让你掉在他的陷阱里去哩。”

  林惇小姐对她嫂嫂大怒。

  “羞,羞!”她生气地重复着,“你比二十个敌人还坏,你这恶毒的朋友!”

  “啊,那么你不肯相信我?”凯瑟琳说,“你以为我说这些是出于阴险的自私心么?”

  “我确实知道你是的,”伊莎贝拉反唇相讥,“而且我一想到你就发抖!”

  “好!”另一个喊着。“如果你有那勇气,你就自己试试吧,我已经吃了亏。对于你的傲慢无礼,我也不跟你辩了。”

  “可我还得为了她的自私自利活受罪!”当林惇夫人离开这屋子时,她抽泣着。“一切,一切都反对我。她把我的唯一的安慰也毁掉啦。可是她说的是假话,不是吗?希刺克厉夫先生不是一个恶魔,他有一个可尊敬的心灵,一个真实的灵魂,不然他怎么还会记得她呢?”

  “把他从你的思想里撵出去吧,小姐,”我说。“他是一只不祥的鸟,不是你的配偶。林惇夫人说得过火些,可我驳不倒她。她比我,或比其他任何人,更熟悉他的心。而且她绝不会把他说得比他本人更坏。诚实的人不隐瞒他们所作的事。他怎么生活过来的?他怎么阔起来的?他为什么要住在呼啸山庄,那是他所痛恨的人的房子呀?他们说恩萧先生自从他到来之后越来越糟了。他们接二连三地整夜不睡,辛德雷把他的地也抵押出去了,什么事也不作,除了打牌喝酒。我只是在一星期以前才听说的——是约瑟夫告诉我的——我在吉默吞遇见他。‘耐莉!’他说,‘我们房子里的人得请个验尸官来验尸啦。都要死掉的一个为了拦住另一个像呆子似地扎自己,他本人也差点把手指头砍断。那就是主人,你知道,他想去受最高审判。他不怕那些裁判官,不怕保罗、彼得、约翰、马太①,他一个也不怕!他挺像——他还想厚着脸皮去见他们哩!还有你那个好孩子希刺克厉夫,你记得吧,他可是个宝贝!哪怕真正的魔鬼来玩把戏,他也会笑,把别人送掉。他去田庄时,就从来没说过他在我们这儿过的美妙的生活么?是这样的方式——太阳落时起床,掷骰子,白兰地,关上百叶窗,还有蜡烛,直到第二天中午——然后,那傻瓜就在他卧房里乒乒乓乓乱闹一场,使体面人都羞得用手指头堵起耳朵来。那个坏蛋呢,他倒能恬不知耻地又吃又喝,到邻居家跟人家老婆瞎扯去。当然啦,他会告诉凯瑟琳小姐她父亲的金钱是如何流到他口袋里去,她父亲的儿子倒如何流落在大街上,同时他跑到前面去给他打开栅栏吗?’听着,林惇小姐,约瑟夫是个老流氓,可不是撒谎的人。如果他所说的关于希刺克厉夫的行为是真实的话,你绝不会想要这么一个丈夫吧,你会吗?”

  

  ①保罗、彼得、约翰、马太——PaulPeterJohnMatthew,全是耶稣的使徒。

  “你跟别人勾结在一起,艾伦!”她回答。“我不要听你这些诽谤。你真是多毒辣呀,想让我相信这世界上没有幸福!”

  如果让她自己想去,她是不是会丢开这场幻想,还是永久保存它呢,我从不能断定。她也没有什么时间多想了。第二天,邻城有个审判会议,我的主人不得不去参加,希刺克厉夫知道他不在,就来得比平时早些。凯瑟琳和伊莎贝拉坐在书房里,彼此敌对,可是谁也不吭声。小姐由于她最近的卤莽,还有她在一阵暴怒之下泄露了秘密的感情,颇感惊惶不安。而夫人已经考虑成熟,真的在对她的同伴呕气。如果她再笑她的无礼,就得让她瞧瞧对她这可不是什么可笑的事。当她看见希刺克厉夫走过窗前时,她真的笑了。我正在扫炉子,我注意到她嘴角上露出恶意的微笑。伊莎贝拉专心在冥想,也许在专心看书,直到门开时还那样呆着。再打算逃掉已是太迟了,如果办得到的话,她真愿意逃掉的。

  “进来,对啦!”女主人开心地喊叫,拖一把椅子放在炉火边。“这里有两个人急需一个第三者来融解他们之间的冰块呢。你正是我们俩都会选择的人。希刺克厉夫,我很荣幸终于给你看到一个比我自己更痴心恋你的人。我希望你感到得意——不,不是耐莉;别瞧着她!我的可怜的小姑一想到你身体上与道德上的美,她的芳心都碎啦。你要是愿作埃德加的妹夫,你完全办得到!不,不,伊莎贝拉,你不要跑掉,”她接着说,带着假装闹着玩的神气,一把抓住那惊惶失措的姑娘,而她已经愤怒地站起来了。“我们为了你吵得像两只猫一样,希刺克厉夫。在诉说爱慕的誓言这方面,我可是给打败了。而且,已经通知我说,如果我只要懂得靠边站的规矩,我的情敌(她自己认为是这样的)就要把爱情的箭射进你的心灵,使你永不变心,而且把我的影子永远遗忘!”

  “凯瑟琳!”伊莎贝拉说,想起了她的尊严,不屑跟那紧紧抓住她的拳头挣扎。“我得谢谢你照实话说,而不诽谤我,即使是在说笑话!希刺克厉夫先生,作作好事叫你这位朋友放开我吧——她忘记你我并不是亲密的朋友。她觉得有趣的事,在我可正是表达不出的痛苦呢。”

  客人没有回答,都坐下了,对于她对他怀有什么样的情感,仿佛完全漠不关心。她又转身,低声热切地请求折磨的人快放开她。

  “不行!”林惇夫人回答。“我不要再被人叫作马槽里的一只狗了,现在你得留在这儿。希刺克厉夫,你听了我这个好消息为什么不表示满意呢?伊莎贝拉发誓说埃德加对我的爱比起她对你的爱来是不足道的。我敢说她说了这一类的话,是不是,艾伦?而且自从前天散步以后她就又难过又愤怒,以致不吃不喝,就因为我把她从你身旁打发走了,认为你是不会接受她的。”

  “我想你是冤枉她了,”希刺克厉夫说,把椅子转过来朝着她们。“无论如何,现在她是愿意离开我身边的!”

  他就盯着这个谈话的对象,像是盯着一个古怪可憎的野兽一样:譬如说,从印度来的一条蜈蚣吧,不管它的样子引起了人的恶感,好奇心总会引人去观察它的。这个可怜的东西受不了这个,她脸上一阵红一阵白,同时眼泪盈眶,拚命用她的纤细的手指想把凯瑟琳的紧握的拳头扳开。而且看出来她才扳开她胳臂上的一个手指,另一个手指又把它抓住了,她不能把所有的手指一块扳开,她开始利用她的手指甲了。手指甲的锐利马上就在那扣留她的人的手上装饰上红红的月牙印子。

  “好一个母老虎!”林惇夫人大叫,把她放开,痛得直甩她的手。“看在上帝的份上,滚吧,把你那泼妇的脸藏起来。当着他面就露出那些爪子可多笨呀!你不能想象他会得到什么结论吗?瞧,希刺克厉夫!这些是杀人的工具——你要当心你的眼睛啊。”

  “如果这些一旦威胁到我头上,我就要把它们从手指头上拔掉,”当她跑掉后门关上时,他野蛮地回答。“可是你那样取笑这个东西是什么意思呢,凯蒂?你说的不是事实吧,是吗?”

  “我跟你保证我说的是事实话,”她回答。“好几个星期以来她苦苦地想着你。今早又为你发了一阵疯,而且破口大骂,因为我很坦白地说出你的缺点,想缓和一下她的狂恋。可是不要再注意这事了。我只想惩罚她的无耻而已。我太喜欢她啦,我亲爱的希刺克厉夫,我不容你专横地把她抓住吞掉。”

  “我是太不喜欢她了,因此不打算这样作,”他说,“除非用一种非常残酷的方式。如果我跟那个让人恶心的蜡脸同居,你会听到古怪事情的。最平常的是每隔一两天那张白脸上就要画上彩虹的颜色,而且蓝眼睛就要变成黑的,那双眼睛跟林惇的眼睛相像得令人讨厌。”

  “讨人喜欢!”凯瑟琳说。“那是鸽子的眼睛——天使的眼睛!”

  “她是她哥哥的继承人,是吧?”沉默了一会,他问。

  “想到这个,我就要抱歉了,”他的同伴回答。“有半打侄子将要取消她的权利哩。谢谢老天!目前,你不要把你的心思放在这事上吧。你太贪你邻人的财产。记住,这份邻人的财产是我的。”

  “如果是我的,也还是一样,”希刺克厉夫说。“可是虽然伊莎贝拉·林惇痴,她可不疯。而且——一句话,如你所说,我们不谈这事吧。”

  他们嘴上是不谈了,而且凯瑟琳大概真的把这事忘了,我可确实感到另一个人在那天晚上常常反复思索着。只要是林惇夫人一离开这间房子,我就看见他自己在微笑——简直是在狞笑——而且沉入凶险的冥想中。

  我决心观察他的动向。我的心毫不更变地总是依附在主人身边,而不是在凯瑟琳那边。我想是有理由的,因为他仁慈、忠厚,而且可敬;而她——她也不能说是正相反。但是她仿佛过于放任自己,因此我对她的为人缺少信心,对她的情感更少同情。我愿意有什么事发生,这事可以产生这种效果,使呼啸山庄与田庄都平静地脱离了希刺克厉夫,让我们还像他没来以前那样过日子。他的拜访对于我像是种时时袭来的梦魇,我猜想,对于我的主人也是的。他住在山庄成了一种没法解释的压迫。我感觉上帝在那儿丢下了这迷途的羔羊,任它胡乱游荡,而一只恶兽暗暗徘徊在那只羊与羊栏之间,伺机跳起来毁灭它。

   

   

   

       



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