Книга: Грозовой перевал / Wuthering Heights (легко читаем по-английски)
Назад: Edgar and Cathy
Дальше: Quarrels at the Grange

A surprising visitor

At this point in my housekeeper’s story she glanced up at the clock, and was amazed to see that it was half past one. She wouldn’t hear of staying a second longer, and I suddenly realized just how tired I was. I dragged my aching body off to bed, and spent a troubled night, dreaming of Wuthering Heights.

In the morning, I woke up with a throbbing head and a sore throat, which developed into a nasty case of flu. For the next few days I was forced to stay in bed. It was weeks before I was strong enough to do more than doze by the fireside, but at last I began to feel better. I was still too weak to walk outside, so I asked Nelly if she would come and sit with me, and continue her story where she had left off…


After Miss Cathy and Mr. Edgar were married, I went to live at Thrushcross Grange to help look after Cathy. I was very sad to leave Wuthering Heights. My little Hareton was not yet five years old and I had just begun to teach him to read. It nearly broke my heart to leave the boy in that cheerless house, with only his drunken father and old Joseph to care for him.

Once she was settled in at the Grange, Cathy behaved a great deal better than I had expected. She seemed almost too fond of Mr. Edgar, and she even showed plenty of affection for his sister, Isabella. They certainly made a great fuss of her, bending over backwards to agree to all her wishes. I noticed that Edgar had a great fear of upsetting his wife, and none of the servants were allowed to answer her back or complain about her many orders.

I soon learned to respect my new master, with his kind and gentle ways. I even tried to be less touchy with Cathy in order to please him. For six months, we all lived peacefully together. There were times when Cathy was silent and gloomy, but Edgar was always understanding, believing that her spells of depression were caused by her long illness. When Cathy became cheerful again, Edgar was happy too, and it seemed to me then that they had a chance of deep and growing happiness. Perhaps such fragile happiness could never have lasted, but the way it came to an end was worse than anyone could have imagined.


One warm September evening, I was coming in from the garden with a basket of apples. The light was fading, and there were deep shadows on the grass. I had stopped by the kitchen door to look up at the moon, when I heard a voice behind me.

«Nelly, is that you?»

It was a man’s voice – but not one I knew – although there was something familiar in the way he pronounced my name.

Something stirred outside the door, and, moving nearer, I saw a tall man in dark clothes with a dark face and hair. He leaned against the side of the porch, his fingers on the door latch, as if he were about to open it.

«Who can it be who knows my name?» I wondered, as I came closer.

«I’ve been waiting here for an hour,» the voice continued, «and all the time the house has been as still as death. But don’t you know who I am, Nelly? Take a look – I’m not a stranger.»

I saw a face half-covered with whiskers and a pair of deep-set, glittering eyes… Of course, I remembered those eyes.

«What!» I cried in amazement, «Have you come back? Is it really you?»


«Yes, it’s Heathcliff,» he replied, impatiently, glancing up at the windows of the house. «Are they at home, Nelly? And where is your mistress? You needn’t be so disturbed. I just want to have one word with her. Go and say that a person from Gimmerton is here and wishes to see her.»

«But how will she take it?» I cried out. «What will she do? The shock of seeing you will send her out of her mind!»

«Go and carry my message,» he interrupted. «I’m in torment until you do!»

Then he lifted the door latch for me and I entered the house.


When I reached the sitting room, I almost turned away. Edgar and Cathy were sitting by the fire, looking wonderfully peaceful in the evening light. I was about to leave them undisturbed, when something made me mutter, «A person from Gimmerton wishes to see you, madam.»

«What does he want?» asked Cathy.

«I didn’t question him.»

«Well, close the curtains, Nelly, and bring us up some tea. I’ll be back very soon.»

After Cathy had left the room, Mr. Edgar asked carelessly who the visitor was.

«Someone the mistress doesn’t expect,» I replied. «It’s that Heathcliff, you remember, who used to live at the Heights.»

«What… the gypsy, the farm boy!» cried Edgar. «Why didn’t you say so to Catherine?»

«Please sir, don’t ever call him those names,» I said. «My mistress will be so angry to hear them. You know she was heartbroken when Heathcliff ran off, and she’ll be overjoyed to see him now.»


Before long, I heard the click of the latch and Cathy flew into the room, breathless and wild, «Oh Edgar, Edgar darling,» she panted, flinging her arms around his neck, «Heathcliff’s come back!» And she tightened her hold to a squeeze.

«Well, well,» said her husband, crossly, «don’t strangle me for that! He never struck me as such a great treasure. There’s no need to be so frantic.»

«I know you didn’t like him,» she answered, trying to be calm, «but, for my sake, you must be friends now. Shall I ask him to come up?»

«Here?» he asked. «Into the sitting room?»

«Where else?»

«I would have thought the kitchen was more suitable for him.»

Cathy gave him a strange look – half-laughing and half-cross.

«No,» she said firmly. «I can’t sit in the kitchen. Please set two tables here, Nelly – one for the grand folks – your master and Miss Isabella – and one for the commoners – Heathcliff and me. Oh, I must go and find him now!»

She was about to run off, when Edgar stopped her.

«Nelly will ask him to come in,» he said. «And Catherine, try to be glad without being ridiculous. We don’t want all the servants to see you welcoming a runaway farm boy as if he were your brother.»


I went down to the porch and found Heathcliff waiting to be let in. He followed me in silence up the stairs and, as I showed him into the room, I managed to have a proper look at him. I was amazed to see just how much he had changed. He was now a tall, athletic man with a handsome, intelligent face. Beside him, my master Edgar looked like a pretty boy. He was very upright, which made me wonder if he had spent some time in the army. But whatever he’d been doing, this new Heathcliff dressed and acted like a gentleman – there were no signs of the ruffian he used to be. Only his eyes, I noticed, were still full of fire.

My master was also surprised to see how the farm boy had changed, and at first he didn’t seem to know how to treat his guest. But Heathcliff just stood staring at Edgar, waiting coolly for him to speak.

«Sit down, sir,» Edgar said, at last. «My wife wishes to welcome you into our home, and of course I am delighted when anything pleases her.»

«And so am I,» answered Heathcliff. «I shall gladly stay for an hour or two.»

Then he took a seat opposite Cathy, who kept her eyes fixed on him all the time, as if she was afraid he would vanish any minute. Heathcliff didn’t raise his eyes very often, but each time he did, I noticed his delight at seeing Cathy again.


The two of them were much too absorbed in each other to notice anyone else, but Edgar was pale with annoyance. This rapidly turned to anger when Cathy jumped up and seized both of Heathcliff’s hands.

«Tomorrow, I shall think that this was all a dream!» she cried. «I shan’t be able to believe that I’ve seen you and touched you again! And yet, cruel Heathcliff, you don’t deserve this welcome… when you’ve been away for three whole years, and never thought of me!»

«A little more than you have thought of me!» he murmured. «Promise me you’ll never drive me away again, Cathy. I’ve fought through a bitter life since I last saw you, and all my struggles have been only for you!

«Catherine,» interrupted Edgar, trying hard to stay calm, «please come to the table – we don’t all want our tea to go cold. I’m sure Mr. Heathcliff has a long walk ahead of him and I, for one, am becoming thirsty.»

Cathy took the teapot, and Miss Isabella arrived to join in the meal. But it hardly lasted ten minutes. Cathy’s cup was never filled – she couldn’t eat or drink, and Edgar managed to spill his tea and hardly swallowed a mouthful.

Heathcliff didn’t stay much longer, and I was soon called to show him out. As he was on his way out, I asked if he was walking back to Gimmerton.

«No, to Wuthering Heights,» he answered. «Hindley invited me there when I called on him this morning.»

I was too amazed to reply. Hindley had invited Heathcliff… his old enemy? And Heathcliff had chosen to call on Hindley? What could he be plotting now? I thought about it long and hard after Heathcliff had gone, and the more I thought, the more worried I became. I had a heavy feeling in the bottom of my heart, and I wished for all our sakes that Heathcliff had stayed away.

Heathcliff moved into Wuthering Heights, and the news soon spread that he was staying up until all hours, playing cards and drinking with Mr. Hindley. I wondered what his plans could be, but I kept my fears to myself.

Meanwhile, Heathcliff began to pay visits to the Grange. But I noticed he was careful not to come too often or to stay too long, as if he were testing Edgar’s patience. During these visits, Heathcliff said very little and Cathy managed to control her excitement, so Edgar began to feel that he could relax.

But Edgar soon had something new to worry about. After a few weeks of visits from Heathcliff, Isabella began to fall in love with him. She was now a charming young lady of eighteen, but with childish manners and a quick temper. Her brother loved her dearly and was horrified by her choice. He had the sense to realize that, although Heathcliff’s appearance might have changed, he could never be trusted. Edgar felt and dreaded Heathcliff’s savage power, and shrank from the thought of allowing his sister into its grasp.


We all noticed Miss Isabella’s moods, and put up with her sighs and grumbles as well as we could. But one morning, Cathy couldn’t bear it any longer. She insisted that Isabella should go to bed, while I went to fetch the doctor to see what was wrong.

«There’s nothing wrong with me,» sobbed Isabella. «It’s just your cruelty that’s making me unhappy!»

«When have I been cruel to you?» asked Cathy in amazement.

«Yesterday!» cried Isabella. «On our walk on the moor, you told me to go away while you talked to Heathcliff!»

«And that’s your idea of cruelty? I simply thought that Heathcliff’s talk was not very interesting to you.»

«That’s not the reason you sent me away,» said Isabella. «You knew I wanted to be with him. But you had to keep him all to yourself!»

«You’re an impertinent little monkey!» exclaimed Cathy in surprise. «But I don’t believe this foolishness. Do you really want to be loved by Heathcliff? I hope I’ve misunderstood you, Isabella.»

«No you haven’t,» Isabella insisted. «I love him more than you ever loved Edgar. And he might love me too, if only you’d let him.»

«Well I wouldn’t be you for a kingdom then! Nelly, tell Isabella what Heathcliff really is – a creature of stone and wildness, a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man. I’d rather let my tame canary out onto the stormy moors than allow you to fall in love with him. I know he couldn’t love a Linton, but he’d marry you for your fortune and then crush you like a sparrow’s egg. Listen to my advice, Isabella. I know Heathcliff and I’m speaking as his friend. Don’t, whatever you do, fall into his trap.»

Isabella looked at Cathy with horror. «You’re a poisonous friend… you’re worse than twenty enemies.»

«Ah! You won’t believe me then? You think I’m speaking from wicked selfishness?»

«I’m certain you are,» flashed back Isabella, «and I shudder at you!»

«Good!» cried Cathy, leaving the room. «Try for yourself, if that’s what you want. I won’t argue with you any more.»

I was left to comfort Isabella, but I was determined that she should be warned.

«Don’t think about him any more, Miss Isabella,» I said. «Your sister-in-law knows Heathcliff better than anyone else, and she would never pretend that he’s worse than he is. Think about it carefully, Miss. Honest people don’t keep their actions hidden, but what do we know about where he’s been for these past three years? And what do you think he’s doing up at the Heights? Why is he staying in the house of a man he despises? They say that Mr. Hindley is worse and worse since he came…»

«No, Nelly!» she interrupted. «You’re as bad as Cathy and I won’t listen to you. Why do you want to convince me there’s no happiness in the world?»


Perhaps Isabella might have forgotten about Heathcliff if she’d been left to herself. But the next day, Edgar was out at a meeting all day, and Heathcliff arrived at the Grange very early. Cathy and Isabella were sitting in the library, and I noticed a smile cross Cathy’s face when she saw Heathcliff arrive.

«Come in,» she said cheerfully, «and let me congratulate you, Heathcliff. At last I’ve found someone who loves you more than I do. My poor sister-in-law is breaking her heart over you. You could become Edgar’s brother! No, no, Isabella, you shan’t run off,» she continued, grasping the arm of the girl, who was trying to escape. «We were fighting like cats over you, Heathcliff, and Isabella told me that I must give you up, so she can make you hers forever!»


«Catherine,» said Isabella, struggling to be free, «I’d thank you to stick to the truth! Mr. Heathcliff, please be kind enough to ask your friend to let me go.»

Heathcliff did nothing to rescue Isabella, who was forced to free herself by using her nails.

«Well, there’s a tigress!» exclaimed Cathy, setting her free, and shaking her hand with pain. «Now, run away Isabella and hide your vixen’s face. How foolish of you to show those claws to him! Watch out Heathcliff, you must be careful of your eyes!»

«I’d wrench the nails off her fingers, if she ever used them on me,» Heathcliff muttered brutally, when the door had closed behind Isabella. «But what are you doing teasing her like that, Cathy? You weren’t speaking the truth were you?»

«I assure you I was,» she replied. «She’s been pining for you for weeks, and was raving about you yesterday. But take no more notice – I like her too much to let you devour her.»

«And I like her too little to do it,» replied Heathcliff. He was silent for a while, and then another thought struck him, «I believe that Isabella will inherit all her brother’s wealth?» he asked slyly.

«You’re much too interested in grasping other people’s money,» said Catherine angrily. «But let’s forget all about it now.»


Neither of them spoke about Isabella again, but I was sure that Heathcliff had not forgotten her. Several times, during the rest of the day, I noticed him smiling secretly to himself, and I decided that I would have to watch him very carefully. I was worried for Mr. Edgar, who was a kind and trusting man, and I longed to find a way to send Heathcliff away. His visits were a constant nightmare to me and, I suspected, to my master too. And as for his games up at the Heights – I dreaded to think where they would end. It seemed to me that we were like stray sheep, lost and alone, while a savage beast prowled around us, just waiting for the moment when he would spring.

Назад: Edgar and Cathy
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