Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights: Ch. 21

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‘Then you believe I care more for my own feelings than yours, Cathy?’ he said.  ‘No, it was not because I disliked Mr. Heathcliff, but because Mr. Heathcliff dislikes me; and is a most diabolical man, delighting to wrong and ruin those he hates, if they give him the slightest opportunity.  I knew that you could not keep up an acquaintance with your cousin without being brought into contact with him; and I knew he would detest you on my account; so for your own good, and nothing else, I took precautions that you should not see Linton again.  I meant to explain this some time as you grew older, and I’m sorry I delayed it.’

‘But Mr. Heathcliff was quite cordial, papa,’ observed Catherine, not at all convinced; ‘and he didn’t object to our seeing each other: he said I might come to his house when I pleased; only I must not tell you, because you had quarrelled with him, and would not forgive him for marrying aunt Isabella.  And you won’t.  You are the one to be blamed: he is willing to let us be friends, at least; Linton and I; and you are not.’

My master, perceiving that she would not take his word for her uncle-in-law’s evil disposition, gave a hasty sketch of his conduct to Isabella, and the manner in which Wuthering Heights became his property.  He could not bear to discourse long upon the topic; for though he spoke little of it, he still felt the same horror and detestation of his ancient enemy that had occupied his heart ever since Mrs. Linton’s death.  ‘She might have been living yet, if it had not been for him!’ was his constant bitter reflection; and, in his eyes, Heathcliff seemed a murderer.  Miss Cathy—conversant with no bad deeds except her own slight acts of disobedience, injustice, and passion, arising from hot temper and thoughtlessness, and repented of on the day they were committed—was amazed at the blackness of spirit that could brood on and cover revenge for years, and deliberately prosecute its plans without a visitation of remorse.  She appeared so deeply impressed and shocked at this new view of human natured—excluded from all her studies and all her ideas till now—that Mr. Edgar deemed it unnecessary to pursue the subject.  He merely added: ‘You will know hereafter, darling, why I wish you to avoid his house and family; now return to your old employments and amusements, and think no more about them.’

Catherine kissed her father, and sat down quietly to her lessons for a couple of hours, according to custom; then she accompanied him into the grounds, and the whole day passed as usual: but in the evening, when she had retired to her room, and I went to help her to undress, I found her crying, on her knees by the bedside.

‘Oh, fie, silly child!’ I exclaimed.  ‘If you had any real griefs you’d be ashamed to waste a tear on this little contrariety.  You never had one shadow of substantial sorrow, Miss Catherine.  Suppose, for a minute, that master and I were dead, and you were by yourself in the world: how would you feel, then?  Compare the present occasion with such an affliction as that, and be thankful for the friends you have, instead of coveting more.’

‘I’m not crying for myself, Ellen,’ she answered, ‘it’s for him.  He expected to see me again to-morrow, and there he’ll be so disappointed: and he’ll wait for me, and I sha’n’t come!’

‘Nonsense!’ said I, ‘do you imagine he has thought as much of you as you have of him?  Hasn’t he Hareton for a companion?  Not one in a hundred would weep at losing a relation they had just seen twice, for two afternoons.  Linton will conjecture how it is, and trouble himself no further about you.’

‘But may I not write a note to tell him why I cannot come?’ she asked, rising to her feet.  ‘And just send those books I promised to lend him?  His books are not as nice as mine, and he wanted to have them extremely, when I told him how interesting they were.  May I not, Ellen?’

‘No, indeed! no, indeed!’ replied I with decision.  ‘Then he would write to you, and there’d never be an end of it.  No, Miss Catherine, the acquaintance must be dropped entirely: so papa expects, and I shall see that it is done.’

‘But how can one little note—?’ she recommenced, putting on an imploring countenance.

X [d] She appeared so deeply impressed and shocked …


Although sixteen, Catherine has led a secluded life, attended chiefly by Nelly and her father, and consequently is naive and suffers a sort of arrested development.