Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights: Ch. 21

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‘Silence!’ I interrupted.  ‘We’ll not begin with your little notes.  Get into bed.’

She threw at me a very naughty look, so naughty that I would not kiss her good-night at first: I covered her up, and shut her door, in great displeasure; but, repenting half-way, I returned softly, and lo! there was Miss standing at the table with a bit of blank paper before her and a pencil in her hand, which she guiltily slipped out of sight on my entrance.

‘You’ll get nobody to take that, Catherine,’ I said, ‘if you write it; and at present I shall put out your candle.’

I set the extinguisher on the flame, receiving as I did so a slap on my hand and a petulant ‘cross thing!’  I then quitted her again, and she drew the bolt in one of her worst, most peevish humours.  The letter was finished and forwarded to its destination by a milk-fetcher who came from the village; but that I didn’t learn till some time afterwards.  Weeks passed on, and Cathy recovered her temper; though she grew wondrous fond of stealing off to corners by herself and often, if I came near her suddenly while reading, she would start and bend over the book, evidently desirous to hide it; and I detected edges of loose paper sticking out beyond the leaves.  She also got a trick of coming down early in the morning and lingering about the kitchen, as if she were expecting the arrival of something; and she had a small drawer in a cabinet in the library, which she would trifle over for hours, and whose key she took special care to remove when she left it.

One day, as she inspected this drawer, I observed that the playthings and trinkets which recently formed its contents were transmuted into bits of folded paper.  My curiosity and suspicions were roused; I determined to take a peep at her mysterious treasures; so, at night, as soon as she and my master were safe upstairs, I searched, and readily found among my house keys one that would fit the lock.  Having opened, I emptied the whole contents into my apron, and took them with me to examine at leisure in my own chamber.  Though I could not but suspect, I was still surprised to discover that they were a mass of correspondence—daily almost, it must have been—from Linton Heathcliff: answers to documents forwarded by her.  The earlier dated were embarrassed and short; gradually, however, they expanded into copious love-letters, foolish, as the age of the writer rendered natural, yet with touches here and there which I thought were borrowed from a more experienced source.  Some of them struck me as singularly odd compounds of ardour and flatness; commencing in strong feeling, and concluding in the affected, wordy style that a schoolboy might use to a fancied, incorporeal sweetheart.  Whether they satisfied Cathy I don’t know; but they appeared very worthless trash to me.  After turning over as many as I thought proper, I tied them in a handkerchief and set them aside, relocking the vacant drawer.

Following her habit, my young lady descended early, and visited the kitchen: I watched her go to the door, on the arrival of a certain little boy; and, while the dairymaid filled his can, she tucked something into his jacket pocket, and plucked something out.  I went round by the garden, and laid wait for the messenger; who fought valorously to defend his trust, and we spilt the milk between us; but I succeeded in abstracting the epistle; and, threatening serious consequences if he did not look sharp home, I remained under the wall and perused Miss Cathy’s affectionate composition.  It was more simple and more eloquent than her cousin’s: very pretty and very silly.  I shook my head, and went meditating into the house.  The day being wet, she could not divert herself with rambling about the park; so, at the conclusion of her morning studies, she resorted to the solace of the drawer.  Her father sat reading at the table; and I, on purpose, had sought a bit of work in some unripped fringes of the window-curtain, keeping my eye steadily fixed on her proceedings.  Never did any bird flying back to a plundered nest, which it had left brimful of chirping young ones, express more complete despair, in its anguished cries and flutterings, than she by her single ‘Oh!’ and the change that transfigured her late happy countenance.  Mr. Linton looked up.

‘What is the matter, love?  Have you hurt yourself?’ he said.

His tone and look assured her he had not been the discoverer of the hoard.