Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights: Ch. 26

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‘I care nothing for his anger,’ exclaimed Cathy, imagining she would be its object.

‘But I do,’ said her cousin, shuddering.  ‘Don’t provoke him against me, Catherine, for he is very hard.’

‘Is he severe to you, Master Heathcliff?’ I inquired.  ‘Has he grown weary of indulgence, and passed from passive to active hatred?’

Linton looked at me, but did not answer; and, after keeping her seat by his side another ten minutes, during which his head fell drowsily on his breast, and he uttered nothing except suppressed moans of exhaustion or pain, Cathy began to seek solace in looking for bilberries, and sharing the produce of her researches with me: she did not offer them to him, for she saw further notice would only weary and annoy.

‘Is it half-an-hour now, Ellen?’ she whispered in my ear, at last.  ‘I can’t tell why we should stay.  He’s asleep, and papa will be wanting us back.’

‘Well, we must not leave him asleep,’ I answered; ‘wait till he wakes, and be patient.  You were mighty eager to set off, but your longing to see poor Linton has soon evaporated!’

‘Why did he wish to see me?’ returned Catherine.  ‘In his crossest humours, formerly, I liked him better than I do in his present curious mood.  It’s just as if it were a task he was compelled to perform—this interview—for fear his father should scold him.  But I’m hardly going to come to give Mr. Heathcliff pleasure; whatever reason he may have for ordering Linton to undergo this penance.  And, though I’m glad he’s better in health, I’m sorry he’s so much less pleasant, and so much less affectionate to me.’

‘You think he is better in health, then?’ I said.

‘Yes,’ she answered; ‘because he always made such a great deal of his sufferings, you know.  He is not tolerably well, as he told me to tell papa; but he’s better, very likely.’

‘There you differ with me, Miss Cathy,’ I remarked; ‘I should conjecture him to be far worse.’

Linton here started from his slumber in bewildered terror, and asked if any one had called his name.

‘No,’ said Catherine; ‘unless in dreams.  I cannot conceive how you manage to doze out of doors, in the morning.’

‘I thought I heard my father,’ he gasped, glancing up to the frowning nab above us.  ‘You are sure nobody spoke?’

‘Quite sure,’ replied his cousin.  ‘Only Ellen and I were disputing concerning your health.  Are you truly stronger, Linton, than when we separated in winter?  If you be, I’m certain one thing is not stronger—your regard for me: speak,—are you?’

The tears gushed from Linton’s eyes as he answered, ‘Yes, yes, I am!’  And, still under the spell of the imaginary voice, his gaze wandered up and down to detect its owner.

Cathy rose.  ‘For to-day we must part,’ she said.  ‘And I won’t conceal that I have been sadly disappointed with our meeting; though I’ll mention it to nobody but you: not that I stand in awe of Mr. Heathcliff.’

‘Hush,’ murmured Linton; ‘for God’s sake, hush!  He’s coming.’  And he clung to Catherine’s arm, striving to detain her; but at that announcement she hastily disengaged herself, and whistled to Minny, who obeyed her like a dog.

‘I’ll be here next Thursday,’ she cried, springing to the saddle.  ‘Good-bye.  Quick, Ellen!’

And so we left him, scarcely conscious of our departure, so absorbed was he in anticipating his father’s approach.

Before we reached home, Catherine’s displeasure softened into a perplexed sensation of pity and regret, largely blended with vague, uneasy doubts about Linton’s actual circumstances, physical and social: in which I partook, though I counselled her not to say much; for a second journey would make us better judges.  My master requested an account of our ongoings.  His nephew’s offering of thanks was duly delivered, Miss Cathy gently touching on the rest: I also threw little light on his inquiries, for I hardly knew what to hide and what to reveal.