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6 Heathcliff disappears

 

17789 Hindley came into the kitchenswearing terriblyjust as I was about to hide little Haretonin a cupboardI was always afraid that Hindley would hurt his small soneither by accident or on purposewhen he was drunkso I tried to keep Hareton out of the wayBut this time Hindley discovered my plan

Ahyou keep my son in a cupboarddo you!’he cried angrilypicking up a sharp kitchen knife.‘With the devil's help I'll make you swallow thisEllen!’And he pushed the knife between my teeth

I was never afraid he would hurt meand calmly took the knife out of my mouth

But that can't be my soncan it?’he continued aggressivelystaring at the frightened littlebboy.‘If it ishe should be punished for not running to greet his fatherPerhaps I'll cut his ears off!’And then suddenly his manner changed.‘NoHaretondarlingdon't cryKiss mekiss your fatherWhatYou won'tThen I'll break your neck!’

Poor Haretonscreaming wildlywas carried upstairs by his fatherSuddenly Hindley stopped on the stairs to listenalmost forgetting what he was holdingHeathcliff had come into the house and stood at the bottom of the stairslooking upJust then the child jumped out of Hindley's arms and fellI onlyhhad time to gasp inkhorrorbefore I saw that Heathcliff had caught him

Heathcliff stared down at the child he was holdingHe must have felt sorry he had saved the life of his enemy's sonI rushed to take the poor little boy in my armsand Hindley came slowly downstairs

Look what you've doneMr Hindley!’I cried.‘You nearly killed your own sonWhat would his mother say if she were alive?’

Take him awayEllen And youHeathcliffgo away tooI won't murder you tonightunless perhaps I set the house on fireBut that depends how I feel.’And he poured himself a drink

Don't drink any moreMr Hindley!’I begged

What difference does it make?’he growled.‘Get outboth of youTo the devil with you!’

We left him swearing at usand went back into the kitchen

It's a pity he can't kill himself with drink'muttered Heathcliff.‘Dr Kenneth says he'll live longer than any of ushe's so strong.’

He walked out of the door andI thoughtinto the fields In fact I discovered later that he was sitting just under the windowand could hear everything that was said in the kitchen

I was singing little Hareton to sleep when Catherine came in

Are you aloneEllen'she whispered.‘Where's Heath cliff?’

He's out on the farm,’I answered

She looked sad and worriedand I even saw a tear or two on her faceBut I had not forgotten how she had liedand behaved so badly to me as well as to Edgar Lintonso I did not feel sorry for heror encourage her to talk

Ellenwill you keep a secret for me'she asked in the endgiving me her sweetest smile.‘I must tell youI need your adviceToday Edgar Linton has asked me to marry himand I gave him an answerNowbefore I tell you if it was yes or noyou tell me which I should have said.’

ReallyMiss Catherinehow can I knowPerhaps you should have refused himHe must be a fool to ask youafter you were so rude and violent this afternoon.’

WellI accepted himEllen'she said crossly.‘But should I have done soShould IWhat do you think?’

Firstdo you love him?’I asked

Of course I do'she replied

Why do you love himMiss Catherine?’

WellI dothat's enoughWellbecause he's handsomeand a pleasant companion.’

Ohthat's bad,’I saidshaking my head

And because he loves me.’

That's worse.’

Andhbecause he'll be richand I shall be the most important woman for miles around.’

Worst of allBut there are several other handsomerich young men in the worldWhy don't you marry one of them?’

I don't know any of themI only know Edgar.’

WellI don't know why you're unhappyMiss CatherineYour brother will be pleasedand Mr Edgar's parents willtooYou love Edgarand Edgar loves youWhat's the problem?’

hereAnd here'replied Catherinebeating her head and her chest.‘In my heart and soul I know I'm wrongEllenI can't live apart from HeathcliffHe is more myself than I amOur souls are the sameI have nothing in common with EdgarBut I can't marry Heathcliff nowHindley has made him become a poordull farm workerHe'll never know how I love him.’

I suddenly heard a movement outside the windowand saw Heathcliff stand up and walk awayI realized he had been listening until he heard Catherine say she could not marry himThen he stayed to hear no more

QuietMiss Q Catherine!’I said.‘Just imagine how hard it will be for Heathcliff when you marry Mr EdgarHe'll have no friends at all when you leave him.’

Leave himWhy should we be separated'she asked angrily.‘Who will separate usNobody will dareEdgar must learn to accept him as my friendDidn't you ever thinkEllenthat if Heathcliff and I marriedwe would be very poorBut if I marry EdgarI can help Heathcliff with my husband's money.’

That's the worst reason you've given so far for marrying Mr Edgar,’I repliedshocked.

It isn'tHeathcliff is more important to me than myselfMy love for Edgar is like the leaves on the treesI'm sure time will change itBut my love for Heathcliff is like the rocks in the groundnot beautifulbut necessary and unchangingHe's alwaysalways in my heart—’

Just then Joseph entered the kitchenI whispered to Catherine that I was sure Heathcliff had heard some of what she saidShe jumped upfrightenedand rushed outsideBut although we all looked everywhere for Heathcliffthere was no sign of him that nightor for many nights in the future

At about midnightwhile we were still waiting for him to come homewe noticed the wind was getting strongerWe could hear it whistling down the chimneyand howling all around the houseSuddenly there was a terrible crash of thunderand the branch of a tree fell on to the roofWe were not hurtbut Joseph immediately dropped on to his knees to prayThe rain was beating down on the windowsbut Catherine stayed outsidealthough by now her hair and clothes were completely wet

In the end we all went to bedI managed to persuade Catherine to come inbut she insisted on sleeping in the kitchenin case Heathcliff returned during the nightIn the morning we discovered that she had caught a feveras a result of getting wetShe became seriously illand it was several weekshbefore Dr Kenneth would allow her out of bed

When she recoveredshe was invited to stay for a while at Thrushcross GrangeUnfortunately old Mr and Mrs Linton caught the fever tooand died within a few days of each other Catherine returned to usprouder and quicker-tempered than everbut not as strong as before

If she gets ill againit could be fatal,’Dr Kenneth warned us.‘My advice to you is to do whatever she wantsand don't make her angry!’So we had to obey all her ordersand Joseph and I were not allowed to scold her any more

Edgar Linton was still in love with herand thought himself the happiest man on earth when he married her three years after his parentsdeath She insisted on having me with herso we moved together to Thrushcross Grangealthough I was very sad to leave little Hareton with his father

It's very lateMr LockwoodI think you should go to bedor you'll be ill tomorrowI can tell you the rest of the story another time

Four weeks later In fact I was ill the next dayand have been ill since thenThe terrible night I spent at Wuthering Height was the cause of my illnessand I blame Mr Heathcliff for itDr Kenneth has warned me I won't be able to go out until the springAll I can do is lie in bedlistening to the howling wind and staring at the grey northern sky

So I've decided to ask Mrs Dean to come upstairs and finish telling me her storyShe tells me she's happy to continue

 


 

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