Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights: Ch. 30

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Chapter XXX

I have paid a visit to the Heights, but I have not seen her since she left: Joseph held the door in his hand when I called to ask after her, and wouldn’t let me pass.  He said Mrs. Linton was ‘thrang,’w and the master was not in.  Zillah has told med something of the way they go on, otherwise I should hardly know who was dead and who living.  She thinks Catherine haughty, and does not like her, I can guess by her talk.  My young lady asked some aid of her when she first came; but Mr. Heathcliff told her to follow her own business, and let his daughter-in-law look after herself; and Zillah willingly acquiesced, being a narrow-minded, selfish woman.  Catherine evinced a child’s annoyance at this neglect; repaid it with contempt, and thus enlisted my informant among her enemies, as securely as if she had done her some great wrong.  I had a long talk with Zillah about six weeks ago, a little before you came, one day when we foregathered on the moor; and this is what she told me.

‘The first thing Mrs. Linton did,’ she said, ‘on her arrival at the Heights, was to run up-stairs, without even wishing good-evening to me and Joseph; she shut herself into Linton’s room, and remained till morning.  Then, while the master and Earnshaw were at breakfast, she entered the house, and asked all in a quiver if the doctor might be sent for? her cousind was very ill.

‘“We know that!” answered Heathcliff; “but his life is not worth a farthing, and I won’t spend a farthing on him.”

‘“But I cannot tell how to do,” she said; “and if nobody will help me, he’ll die!”

‘“Walk out of the room,” cried the master, “and let me never hear a word more about him!  None here care what becomes of him; if you do, act the nurse; if you do not, lock him up and leave him.”

‘Then she began to bother me, and I said I’d had enough plague with the tiresome thing; we each had our tasks, and hers was to wait on Linton: Mr. Heathcliff bid me leave that labour to her.

‘How they managed together, I can’t tell.  I fancy he fretted a great deal, and moaned hisseln night and day; and she had precious little rest: one could guess by her white face and heavy eyes.  She sometimes came into the kitchen all wildered like, and looked as if she would fain beg assistance; but I was not going to disobey the master: I never dare disobey him, Mrs. Dean; and, though I thought it wrong that Kenneth should not be sent for, it was no concern of mine either to advise or complain, and I always refused to meddle.  Once or twice, after we had gone to bed, I’ve happened to open my door again and seen her sitting crying on the stairs’-top; and then I’ve shut myself in quick, for fear of being moved to interfere.  I did pity her then, I’m sure: still I didn’t wish to lose my place, you know.

‘At last, one night she came boldly into my chamber, and frightened me out of my wits, by saying, “Tell Mr. Heathcliff that his son is dying—I’m sure he is, this time.  Get up, instantly, and tell him.”

‘Having uttered this speech, she vanished again.  I lay a quarter of an hour listening and trembling.  Nothing stirred—the house was quiet.

‘She’s mistaken, I said to myself.  He’s got over it.  I needn’t disturb them; and I began to doze.  But my sleep was marred a second time by a sharp ringing of the bell—the only bell we have, put up on purpose for Linton; and the master called to me to see what was the matter, and inform them that he wouldn’t have that noise repeated.

‘I delivered Catherine’s message.  He cursed to himself, and in a few minutes came out with a lighted candle, and proceeded to their room.  I followed.  Mrs. Heathcliff was seated by the bedside, with her hands folded on her knees.  Her father-in-law went up, held the light to Linton’s face, looked at him, and touched him; afterwards he turned to her.

‘“Now—Catherine,” he said, “how do you feel?”

‘She was dumb.

‘“How do you feel, Catherine?” he repeated.

‘“He’s safe, and I’m free,” she answered: “I should feel well—but,” she continued, with a bitterness she couldn’t conceal, “you have left me so long to struggle against death alone, that I feel and see only death!  I feel like death!”

X [w] ‘thrang,’

Distressed, afflicted.

X [d] Zillah has told me

Writing & Reading

The words we read now originate with Zillah, who speaks to Nelly, who tells Lockwood, who tells us.

X [d] cousin

Understandably she doesn't refer to him as her husband.