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15 A trap

 

1800 A few days after the master had forbidden Cathy to visit Lintonhe asked my opinion of the boy

Tell me honestlyEllenwhat do you think of his character?’

WellsirI don't think he's wickedlike his fatherBut you'll have plenty of time to get to know himsirHe's too young to marry yet.’

Mr Edgar walked to the window and looked outIt was a misty February eveningbut the churchyard was just visible

I've often prayed for deathEllenI've been very happy with my little CathyBut I've been just as happy lyingthrough the long June eveningson her mother's graveand looking forward to the moment when I can join Catherine thereI haven't got much time leftEllenWhat can I do for Cathy before I dieShould she marry LintonI wouldn't mind him being Heathcliff's sonif only he loved her and could be a good husband to her.’

God will show us what to dosir,’I replied

In the spring Mr Edgar was still illand he continued to worry about Cathy's futureOne day he wrote to Linton inviting him to visit the GrangeLinton wrote a long letter backexplaining that his father would not allow him to do thatHe begged his uncle to let him meet Cathy for a walk or a ride on the moors between the Grange and Wuthering Heightsas they could not meet in either houseMr Edgar refused at firstand Linton sent him several more lettersI am sure they had all been carefully checked by Heathcliff before they were posted

Finally Mr Edgar agreedHe hoped thatif Cathy married Lintonwho would inherit the Linton fortuneshe would at least be able to remain in her family homeHe had no idea that Linton was seriously illNeither did II never imagined that a father could treat a dying child as cruelly and wickedly as we later discovered Heathcliff had done

It was a hotsunny day in summer when Cathy and I rode out to meet her cousinWe were both shocked to discover that he could neither ride nor walkand was lying on the grasswaiting for usHe looked even paler and weaker than the last time I had seen himDuring our meeting he did not seem interested in Cathy or her newsCathy noticed this immediately

WellLinton'she said after a while,‘you don't want to talk to meso I think I'll go home.’

Nono!’he criedgetting quite excited.‘Not yetStayat least another half-hourMy father will be angry with me if you leave early!’

I suppose we can stay a few minutes longer'said Cathy

We waitedtalking to each other quietly while Linton slept a littleSometimes he cried out in pain Do you think his health is better now than before?’whispered Cathy

I'm sorryMiss CathyI think it's much worse,’I answered

Cathy called her ponyand the sound woke Linton up

If you see my father,’he saidhesitating,‘could you tell him I've been cheerfulHe'll be here soon!’And he looked round in terror

I'll be here next Thursday!’cried Cathyas she jumped on her pony.‘Come onEllen!’

In the week that followedMr Edgar's illness grew worse every dayCathy could not avoid realizing how serious it wasand sat by his bedside day and nightlooking sad and paleHer father's room had become her whole worldOn Thursday I thought a ride in the fresh air would be good for herand Mr Edgar gladly gave her permission to see LintonHe was hoping that she would not be left alone after his deathI did not want to worry him in his last momentsso I did not tell him that Linton was also dying

We rode on to the moors and found Linton lying in the same place as beforeHe was looking very frightened

I thought you weren't going to come!’he said

Why won't you be honest?’cried Cathy at once.‘Why have you brought me here againif you don't want to see meMy father's very ill and I should be with him.’

Tears rolled down Linton's faceHe seemed terrified

OhI can't bear it!’he sobbed.‘CathyI daren't explainBut if you leave mehe'll kill meDear Cathymy life is in your handsKindsweet Cathyperhaps you will agreeand then he won't hurt me!’

Cathy was no longer impatient.‘Agree to whatLinton'she asked gently.‘Tell me everythingYou wouldn't do anything to hurt mewould youLintonI'm your best friend.’

I daren't tell youMy father'the boy gaspedJust then Heathcliff appearedHe did not look at Cathy and Lintonwho continued talking to each otherbut he spoke quietly to me

Ellenhow is EdgarIs he dyingas the villagers say?’

It's truethe master is dying,’I answered

That boy over there is dying tooI only hope Edgar dies before himIf Linton dies firstmy plan will fail.’He shouted angrily to his son,‘Get upLinton!’and then said politely to Cathy,‘Miss Cathywould you help him back to the houseHe can't walk far alone.’

Father has forbidden me to enter your house'said Cathy

Wellcome alongLintonI'll have to take you home then'said Heathcliff

NoNoNoPleaseCathyYou must come with me'screamed Linton wildlyHe held desperately on to her arm

Cathy could not refuse the boywho seemed almost mad with fearSo we all walked the few steps to Wuthering HeightsWhen we had entered the househoweverI was horrified to see Heathcliff lock the front doorThe key was in his hand

HaretonJoseph and Zillah are all out of the house,’he said calmly,‘so we are quite alone.’

Give me that key!’cried Cathy angrily.‘I'm not afraid of you!’She took hold of his closed hand and bit itHe hit her violently several timeson both sides of the headand she fell into a chairtremblingI rushed at himbut he pushed me away

Cry as much as you likeMiss Cathy,’he said.‘In a few days I'll be your fatherand I'll punish you just like thatas often as necessary!’

When Heathcliff went out to look for our horsesCathy and I hurried round the kitchen looking for a way to escapeBut all the doors and windows were lockedLinton was sitting calmly in a chair near the firehappy that he was not being punished this timeWe persuaded him to explain his father's plan to us

Father is afraid I'll die soonyou seeso he wants us to be married tomorrow morningYou'll have to stay here all nightCathyThen perhaps he'll let you go home in the morning.’

You marry this beautifulhealthy young lady?’I cried.‘You must be madAnd wicked tooYou and your father have tricked us into coming here!’And I shook him until he started coughing

I must go home nowFather will be worried already'said Cathy.‘I love Father better than youLinton!’

Heathcliff returned and sent his son upstairs to bed

Mr Heathcliff,’begged Cathy,‘Father will be miserable if I don't go homePlease let me goI promise to marry LintonFather would like itand I love himWhy do you force me to do something I want to do?’

He can't force you!’I cried.‘I'll go to the police!’

To the devil with youEllenMiss CathyI'm delighted that your father will be miserableIn that case you will certainly stay here for twenty-four hoursYou won't leave here until you've kept your promise to marry Linton.’

Please send Ellen to let Father know I'm safe'sobbed Cathy bitterly.‘Poor FatherHe'll think we're lost!’

Your father must have hated you when you came into the worldI didat least),and he'll hate you as he leaves itGo on cryingThat's what you'll be doing when you're Linton's wifeHe'll make a cruelselfish husbandI think.’

Heathcliff took us upstairs to Zillah's roomwhere we spent the nightlocked inNeither of us could sleepAt seven the following morning he came to fetch Cathyand took her awayFrom that moment I saw nobody except Haretonwho brought me foodfor four whole days and nights

On the fifth morning Zillah came into the roomShe was surprised and pleased to see meand told me the villagers all thought Cathy and I had got lost on the moorsand diedfour days agoI ran out of the room to look for Cathy

The big kitchen was full of sunshineand the door was openbut the only person there was Linton

Where is sheWhere is Miss Cathy?’I cried wildly

Upstairsin a locked room,’he replied calmlyeating a piece of sugar.‘We won't let her go yetFather says I shouldn't he soft with CathyWe've had the wedding ceremonyso she's my wife nowand must stay with meI don't care if she criesor is ill!’

Have you forgotten her kindness to you last winterwhen you wrote that you loved herand she used to come through wind and snow to see youNow you believe your father's lies about herAnd you leave her aloneill and crying in a strange houseYou pity yourselfbut you won't pity herWhat a heartlessselfish boy you are!’

I can't stay with herShe cries so much I can't bear itI can't sleep with all that noiseShe promised that if I gave her the key to our roomshed give me all her nice booksand her ponybut I told her she had nothing to giveThey're all mineor they'll belong to me very soonAnd then she criedand took a little gold case from around her neckInside were two picturesone of her mother and one of her fatherI wanted to take them both from herbut she wouldn't let meso I screamed for helpMy father cameand ordered her to give him the pictures and the caseWhen she refusedhehe hit her on the face and knocked her downand broke the gold case under his footHe took away the picture of her mother.’

And were you pleased to see Miss Cathy hurt?’I asked

My father was right to punish herBut I didn't like seeing her mouth full of bloodShe can't speak because of the painNow you've made me tired with all this talkingYou won't find the key to the roomGo away!’

As there seemed to be no chance of persuading him to help her escapeI decided to go back to the Grange as quickly as possibleand rescue her later

What a welcome I received from the servants at the Grangewho thought I was deadBut I did not have time to tell them my storyI went straight to my master's roomHe was lying in bedvery weak and close to deathI told him how Heathcliff had trapped usand that Cathy was probably mar ried to Linton by nowMr Edgar realized that his enemy wanted to get hold of the Linton fortunethrough his sonHe asked me to send for his lawyerto make arrangements so that Cathy would not lose all her inheritance

I did as he askedbut the lawyer sent a messagesaying that he could not come until the next dayI also sent four strong men with weapons to Wuthering Heightsto demand my young lady's freedomI was very angry when they returned without herbecause Heathcliff had sent them away

But I needn't have worriedIn the middle of the nightas I was taking some water to the masterI heard a knock on the front doorand went to open itIt was my little mistress

EllenEllen'she sobbed.‘Is Father still alive?’

Yes,’I cried,‘and thank God you're safe with us again!’

I managed to make Linton help me escape from the roomNow I must see Father!’

I could not bear to be present at their meetingI waited outside the bedroom doorBut they were both calmCathy's despair was as silent as her father's happinessHe died in perfect peaceMr LockwoodKissing herhe whispered,‘I'm going to join herand youdear childwill join us!’He did not move or speak again

Cathy did not crybut sat silently by his dead body all morningAt lunch-time the lawyer arrivedtoo late to help CathyHeathcliff had bribed him to stay awayHe gave us Heathcliff's ordersAll the servants except me had to leaveCathyMrs Heathcliff nowwas only allowed to stay at the Grange until her father was buried

 


 

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