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8 Catherine is ill

 

1783 The next time Heathcliff came to Thrushcross Grangehe met Isabella by chance in front of the houseI was watching from the kitchen windowas he went up to herandsupposing that no one else could see himkissed her

Lookmadam!’I cried to Catherinewho was passing through the kitchen.‘That devil Heathcliff told you he could never love Miss IsabellaAnd now he's kissing her!’

Sohwhen Heathcliff entered the houseCatherine was ready to scold him

Leave Isabella aloneHeathcliff'she ordered.‘You'll make Edgar angry!’

You think I'm afraid of that weak little creature?’he growled.‘Anywaywhat difference does it make to youI can kiss her if she likes itI'm not your husbandyou needn't be jealous of me!’

I'm not jealous of you'replied Catherine.‘If you like Isabellayou can marry herBut do you like her?’

It's you I want to talk aboutCatherineYou know you've treated me badlyAnd I'm going to have my revengeThank you for telling me Isabella's secretI swear I'll make good use of it!’

At this point I went to look for my masterand told him that Catherine and Heathcliff were quarrelling in the kitchen

How can my wife call that man a friend?’he cried angrily.‘I've been too weak with herI can't allow him to visit her any moreCall two servantsEllen.’He went to the kitchenI followed himtelling the servants to wait in the hall

Catherine'said Mr Edgar to his wife as he entered.‘Do you think it's right to listen to this wicked man's talk?’

Have you been listening at the doorEdgar?’asked Catherine coldlyHeathcliff laughedwhich made Mr Edgar even angrier

Yousir’,he said to Heathcliff,‘are poisoning our family lifeI should never have accepted you as Catherine's friendI must inform you that you will never be allowed to enter this house againand that if you don't leave within three minutesyou will be thrown out.’

Wellwell'replied Heathclifflooking scornfully at Mr Edgar's small figure..‘Soyou're going to throw me out your selfare you?’

My master looked towards the doorI realized he wanted to call the servantsas he knew he was not strong enough to fight Heathcliff aloneBut Catherine must have guessed his planShe hurried to the door and locked itMr Edgar looked at her in angry surprise

You must fight him like a gentlemanwithout anyone to help you'she told her husband.‘That'll teach you to scold me!’

Mr Edgar tried to get hold of the keybut she threw it quickly into the hottest part of the fireHe went very paleand could not stop his whole body trembling

Oh Edgar!’cried his wife.‘You've lost the fight alreadyYou aren't a manyou're a mouse!’

So that'said Heathcliffpointing at MrLEdgar,‘is the thing you preferred to meCatherineIs he cryingor is he goingIto die of fear?’

He went up to look more closely at Mr Edgarwho suddenly recovered and hit Heathcliff hard on the neckWhile Heath cliff was getting his breath backMr Edgar walked out of the other kitchen door into the garden

Now you'll never be able to come here again'said Cather ine to Heathcliff.‘Go away quicklyHe'll return with men and guns.’

Heathcliff was sensible enough to take her adviceHe broke down the locked door and escapedjust as the master and his men returned

Catherinewho was over-excitedordered me to go upstairs with herI hoped she would not discover that I had told Mr Edgar about her quarrel with Heathcliff

I'm wild with angerEllen'she saidwhen we reached the sittingroom.‘All this trouble is because of IsabellaTell Edgar I'm in danger ofhbecoming seriously illI hope it's trueI want to frighten himHe's upset me badlyWhy did he lis ten to us talking in the kitchenHeathcliff says wicked thingsbut I know I can control himWellif I can't have Heathcliff as my friendif Edgar is going to be mean and jealousI'll try to break both their hearts by breaking my ownYou must re mind Edgar how quick-tempered I amand What Dr Kenneth said about my healthEdgar must let me do what I want!’

I did not feel sympathetic towards Catherineand certainly did not want to frighten my poor master by telling him she was illAs I was leaving the roomhoweverhe entered

Catherine,’he said,‘you must tell me one thingYou must choose between me and HeathcliffWhich do you intend to have?’

Leave me alone'she cried wildly.‘I'm illcan't you seeI can't even standEdgarleave me!’

She fellstiff and paleon to the floorMr Edgar looked very frightened

Don't worrysir,’I whispered to him.‘She told me she would try to make you afraid by pretending to be ill.’

Unfortunately she heard meShe jumped upher hair loose and her eyes staringand rushed to her bedroomWe heard the key turn in the lock

For the next few days she refused to speak to anyoneeven meI took her food up to her roombut she would not eatMr Edgar spent his time in the libraryand did not ask about his wifeHe hopedI supposethat she would come and ask him to forgive herBut I knew she was too proud to do that

On the third day she unlocked her door and called meShe ate and drank eagerlythen lay down again

Ohwhy don't I diesince no one cares about me'she muttered.‘Edgar doesn't love me at allWhat is he doing all this timeEllen?’

He's reading Mbooks in the librarymadam,’I answered

Reading books'she criedshocked.‘And I'm dying up hereMy GodDoes he know how I've changedhow ill I amCan't you tell him I'm seriously illEllen?’

You forgetMrs Lintonthat you've eaten tonightI'm sure you'll feel better tomorrow morning.’I still wanted to make her realize how selfish she was beingalthough I was a little worried by her palealmost ghostly face

I begin to see that you don't like meEllenHow strangeI always thought everybody loved meNow they are all my enemiesIsabella and Edgar and youI'll die with cold faces around meI've had terrible dreams these past few nightsyou knowOpen the windowEllenI'm so hot!’

I refusedas it was the middle of winterShe was feverish

Who is that over there'she askedstaring at her own face in a mirror opposite her bedI could not make her under stand it was herselfand I began to be afraid that her illness was real

Stay with meEllen'she criedholding my hand.‘I'm frightened of that faceI'm frightened of being aloneI wish I were in my bed at Wuthering Heightswith the wind howling through the treesDo let me feel a breath of air from the moorsjust one breath!’

I opened the window for a momentthen closed itThe cold air seemed to calm her.‘I wish I were a young girl againwild and freeout on the moors with HeathcliffOpen the window againwider this timeWhy won't you?’

Because I don't want you to die of cold,’I replied

But it's my only chance of life'she criedjumping out of bed and going to the windowI tried to force her back to bedbut her fever made her surprisingly strongWe looked out together into the icy darknessThere was no moonand no lights were visible anywhereBut Catherine was sure she could see Wuthering Heights

Look'she said.‘There's my old homeand the church yard near itI won't lie there aloneHeathcilffI won't rest until you're in the grave with me!’

I was still holding her back from the windowand wondering what to do nextwhen Mr Edgar entered

Please helpsir,’I called,‘Mrs Linton is ill.’

Catherine's ill?’he gasped.‘Shut the windowEllenCatherineWhy—’

When he saw his wife's facehe was so shocked that he stopped speaking and stared at her in horrorShe was almost unconscious and did not recognize him at first

Ahit's youis itEdgar Linton'she said after a few moments.‘You don't come when you're wantedand now you come when you're not wantedBut whatever you saynothing can keep me from my homemy place of restout there in the open airwith a gravestone at my head!’

She's feverishsirand doesn't know what she's saying,’I whispered.‘If she has food and restshe'll recover.’

I want no further advice from youEllen Dean'said Mr Edgar coldly.‘You knew how ill she wasand you didn't tell me!’

I ran downstairs and out of the kitchen door to fetch the doctorI thought I heard the sound of horses in the distancewhich seemed strange at two oclock in the morningAnd when I found Dr Kennethhe told me someone had seen Isabella and Heathcliff meeting secretly in the garden earlier that evening

That night none of us sleptWe all sat together and waitedwhile the doctor stayed with his patientHe told us he hoped that Catherine would recoverif we kept her very quiet

In the morning we discovered that Isabella's room was emptyShe had run away with HeathcliffWhen Mr Edgar heard the newshe just said,‘She chose to go with himDon't speak to me of her againI no longer think of her as my sister.’

 


 

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