Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights: Ch. 22

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‘But Aunt Isabella was younger than papa,’ she remarked, gazing up with timid hope to seek further consolation.

‘Aunt Isabella had not you and me to nurse her,’ I replied.  ‘She wasn’t as happy as Master: she hadn’t as much to live for.  All you need do, is to wait well on your father, and cheer him by letting him see you cheerful; and avoid giving him anxiety on any subject: mind that, Cathy!  I’ll not disguise but you might kill him if you were wild and reckless, and cherished a foolish, fanciful affection for the son of a person who would be glad to have him in his grave; and allowed him to discover that you fretted over the separation he has judged it expedient to make.’

‘I fret about nothing on earth except papa’s illness,’ answered my companion.  ‘I care for nothing in comparison with papa.  And I’ll never—never—oh, never, while I have my senses, do an act or say a word to vex him.  I love him better than myself, Ellen;d and I know it by this: I pray every night that I may live after him; because I would rather be miserable than that he should be: that proves I love him better than myself.’

‘Good words,’ I replied.  ‘But deeds must prove it also; and after he is well, remember you don’t forget resolutions formed in the hour of fear.’

As we talked, we neared a door that opened on the road; and my young lady, lightening into sunshine again, climbed up and seated herself on the top of the wall, reaching over to gather some hips that bloomed scarlet on the summit branches of the wild-rose trees shadowing the highway side: the lower fruit had disappeared, but only birds could touch the upper, except from Cathy’s present station.  In stretching to pull them, her hat fell off; and as the door was locked, she proposed scrambling down to recover it.  I bid her be cautious lest she got a fall, and she nimbly disappeared.  But the return was no such easy matter: the stones were smooth and neatly cemented, and the rose-bushes and black-berry stragglers could yield no assistance in re-ascending.  I, like a fool, didn’t recollect that, till I heard her laughing and exclaiming—‘Ellen! you’ll have to fetch the key, or else I must run round to the porter’s lodge.  I can’t scale the ramparts on this side!’

‘Stay where you are,’ I answered; ‘I have my bundle of keys in my pocket: perhaps I may manage to open it; if not, I’ll go.’

Catherine amused herself with dancing to and fro before the door, while I tried all the large keys in succession.  I had applied the last, and found that none would do; so, repeating my desire that she would remain there, I was about to hurry home as fast as I could, when an approaching sound arrested me.  It was the trot of a horse; Cathy’s dance stopped also.

‘Who is that?’ I whispered.

‘Ellen, I wish you could open the door,’ whispered back my companion, anxiously.

‘Ho, Miss Linton!’ cried a deep voice (the rider’s), ‘I’m glad to meet you.  Don’t be in haste to enter, for I have an explanation to ask and obtain.’

‘I sha’n’t speak to you, Mr. Heathcliff,’ answered Catherine.  ‘Papa says you are a wicked man, and you hate both him and me; and Ellen says the same.’

‘That is nothing to the purpose,’ said Heathcliff.  (He it was.)  ‘I don’t hate my son, I suppose; and it is concerning him that I demand your attention.  Yes; you have cause to blush.  Two or three months since, were you not in the habit of writing to Linton? making love in play, eh?  You deserved, both of you, flogging for that!  You especially, the elder; and less sensitive, as it turns out.  I’ve got your letters, and if you give me any pertness I’ll send them to your father.  I presume you grew weary of the amusement and dropped it, didn’t you?  Well, you dropped Linton with it into a Slough of Despond.h  He was in earnest: in love, really.  As true as I live, he’s dying for you; breaking his heart at your fickleness: not figuratively, but actually.  Though Hareton has made him a standing jest for six weeks, and I have used more serious measures, and attempted to frighten him out of his idiotcy, he gets worse daily; and he’ll be under the sod before summer, unless you restore him!’

X [d] I love him better than myself, Ellen;

Writing & Reading

The situation replays that when Nelly interrogated Cathy about her reasons for loving Edgar Linton. 

X [h] Slough of Despond.

Writing & Reading

A place in Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress representing despair, and the second time this work is mentioned.