Книга: Грозовой перевал / Wuthering Heights (легко читаем по-английски)
Назад: A surprising visitor
Дальше: Isabella’s story

Quarrels at the Grange

The next time Heathcliff came to Thrushcross Grange, Miss Isabella was in the garden, feeding the pigeons. She hadn’t said a word to Cathy for days, but at least she’d stopped her complaining, which was a comfort to us all.

Usually, Heathcliff completely ignored Isabella. But this time he checked all the windows to see if anyone was watching, and then walked quickly over to her. I was standing by the kitchen window and saw it all. At first, Isabella seemed intent on getting away, but then I saw Heathcliff lay a hand on her arm. He asked her a question, and when she refused to answer, the scoundrel dared to take her in his arms!

«So now you’re a cheat and a hypocrite as well!» I couldn’t help saying out loud.

«Who is, Nelly?» said Cathy behind me – I hadn’t noticed that she had come in.

«Your worthless friend!» I answered angrily. «What does he think he’s doing with Miss Isabella?»

Cathy went out to meet Heathcliff, her eyes blazing.

«Why are you causing all this trouble?» she raged. «I thought you had promised to leave Isabella alone. You’d better stop now or Edgar will lock you out of the house!»

«Just let him try!» growled Heathcliff. «I’m losing patience with him. Every day, I grow more desperate to see him gone!»

«For heavens’ sake be quiet, or Edgar will hear you,» said Cathy, closing the kitchen door. «Now why did you disobey me? Did Isabella fling herself at you?»

«What does it matter to you? She has every right to kiss me, and you have no right to object – I’m not your husband, so you needn’t be jealous of me!»

«I’m not jealous of you,» replied Cathy, crossly. «You’re welcome to marry Isabella if you really like her. But tell me the truth, Heathcliff, do you really like her? I can’t believe that you do.»

«Who cares whether I like her or not?» replied Heathcliff coldly. «This has nothing to do with liking. And thank you for telling me Isabella’s secret. I swear I’ll make good use of it.»

It was just as I feared – Heathcliff was going to trap Miss Isabella! I decided I had heard quite enough, and I hurried away to find my master.


«Nelly,» Mr. Edgar said as I entered the room, «have you seen your mistress?»

«Yes, sir, she’s in the kitchen, very upset by Mr. Heathcliff. And if you don’t mind me saying so, sir, I think it’s time to put an end to his visits.»

Then I described what I’d seen in the garden, and the quarrel that followed, as much as I dared.

«This is unbearable!» Edgar stormed. «It’s disgraceful that Catherine calls this man a friend and forces his company on me and my sister! Call some strong men to the kitchen, Nelly. I’ll make sure my wife spends no more time with him!»

Edgar strode into the kitchen.

«Why are you still talking to this wretch, Catherine?» he began angrily «You should have ordered him straight out of the house!»

«Have you been listening at the door, Edgar?» she replied mockingly, and Heathcliff added a sneering laugh.

My master kept very calm.

«Up until now, sir,» he said quietly, «I have been very patient, but that time is over. Your presence is a poison that is spreading through my home, and I refuse to allow you to visit here again. In fact, if you don’t leave in the next three minutes, I shall be forced to throw you out of my house!»

Heathcliff looked Edgar up and down with eyes full of scorn.

«Cathy, this little lamb of yours is threatening me like a bull!» he said. «The tiny creature is in danger of splitting its skull against my knuckles. Heavens, Linton, I’m sorry you’re not worth the bother of knocking down!»

Edgar gave me a signal to get the men. But Cathy saw what was happening, and quickly locked the kitchen door, grabbing the key.

«Let’s have a fair fight,» she said to her husband. «If you don’t have the courage to tackle Heathcliff on your own, you should apologize to him or let yourself be beaten. But don’t pretend to be braver than you are. I’m not letting go of this key – and I hope that Heathcliff beats you thoroughly, as a punishment for daring to criticize me!»

Edgar tried to seize the key from Cathy, but she threw it into the hottest part of the fire. Then he sank back into a chair, overcome by shaking and his face deathly white.


«Oh, heavens!» said Gathy scornfully «We are overcome! What a fine, brave knight you are! You’re more like a baby rabbit than a lamb!»

«I wish you joy of this milk-blooded coward, Cathy,» said Heathcliff roughly. «And this is the whimpering, shivering thing that you preferred to me! Is he weeping? Or is he going to faint from fear?»

Heathcliff gave Edgar’s chair a little push, but this was enough. My master jumped up and punched him in the throat – a blow that would have flattened a smaller man. It took Heathcliff’s breath away for a moment and, while he was choking, Edgar walked out of the back door and into the yard.

«There! That’s the end of your visiting here,» cried Cathy. «Get away now, before he comes back with a couple of pistols and half a dozen servants. Now, hurry up and go!»

«Do you think I’d leave now without crushing him into the ground?» roared Heathcliff.

«He’s not coming back,» I interrupted, inventing a story quickly. «But three men are coming up the path, and all of them are armed.»

Heathcliff hesitated for a moment and then decided to leave. He seized a poker, smashed the lock on the kitchen door, and escaped through the house.


Cathy raced into the sitting room after him, but then clutched onto me, «I feel as if I’m losing my mind, Nelly!» she cried, throwing herself onto a sofa. «A thousand blacksmith’s hammers are beating in my head! Tell Isabella to keep away – and tell Edgar I’m in danger of being seriously ill – I hope it will be true. He’s upset me shockingly by daring to tell me what to do, and now I want to frighten him… But, Nelly, why don’t you look more anxious about me?» I’m sure my calmness was exasperating, but I believed that she should learn some self-control. I also didn’t wish to frighten her husband any more. So I said nothing when I saw Edgar going to join her, but I took the liberty of listening at the door.


It was Edgar who spoke first.

«Stay where you are, Catherine,» he said calmly, «I just want to know if you intend to continue your friendship with…»

«Oh, for heavens’ sake,» said Cathy, stamping her foot, «stop this lecturing now! I see your cold blood can’t be worked up into a fever – your veins are full of ice water – but mine are boiling, and the sight of such chilliness makes them boil more!»

«If you want to get rid of the sight of me,» Edgar continued, «you must answer my question. Will you give up Heathcliff or will you give me up instead? I need to know which of us you will choose.»

«And I need to be left alone!» screamed Cathy. «Can’t you see I can hardly stand? Leave me now, Edgar!»

Cathy rang the bell furiously until it broke with a twang. But I answered slowly. It was enough to try the patience of a saint, I thought, these wicked, senseless rages. There she lay, hitting her head against the arm of the sofa, and grinding her teeth as if she planned to break them into splinters. Mr. Edgar stood staring at her in a panic and told me to fetch some water as quickly as I could.

I brought a glass of water and, when Cathy wouldn’t drink it, I sprinkled it over her face. In a few seconds, she stretched herself out stiff, her eyes rolled up and her cheeks turned deathly white. Edgar looked terrified.

«There’s nothing the matter,» I whispered. I didn’t want him to be fooled by her play-acting, although I couldn’t help feeling afraid.

«She has blood on her lips!» he said, shuddering.

«Never mind!» I answered sharply.

Suddenly, Cathy jumped up, her hair flying over her shoulders and her eyes flashing wildly. I was prepared for broken bones at least, but she only glared at me and then rushed upstairs. The master told me to follow her, but she locked herself in her room.


For the next few days, Miss Isabella moped around the garden, always silent and usually in tears. Her brother shut himself up in the library and tried to read his books, and Cathy stayed in her room, obstinately refusing to take any food. While all this was happening, I carried out my usual duties, convinced I was only sane person living at the Grange.

On the third day, Cathy unlocked her bedroom door and asked for a bowl of soup. She drank the soup eagerly, but then sank back onto her pillows, clenching her hands and groaning, «Oh, I will die, I’m sure I will die!»

«Did you want anything else, madam?» I asked, trying to stay calm in spite of her haggard appearance.

«What is Edgar doing?» she demanded, pushing her tangled hair away from her wasted face. «Is he ill too, or perhaps he is dead?»

«Neither,» I replied calmly. «He’s spending his time with his books, as he has no one else to talk to.»

I know I shouldn’t have spoken to Cathy like that, but I couldn’t give up the idea that she was just pretending to be sick.

«With his books!» Cathy cried out, amazed. «While I am dying! Heavens, does he know how much I’ve changed?» She stared into the mirror. «Is that really Catherine Linton? Please tell him I’m not acting in a play. Does he care so little about my life?»

«No, madam,» I answered, «the master has no idea that you are raging like this. And I don’t think he’s afraid thatyou will starve yourself to death

«Do you think I won’t, Nelly? Well then, tell him that I will. Say you have seen me and you’re certain that I will.»

«No, madam, you forget,» I reminded her. «You’ve just had some soup and soon you’ll be feeling better.»

«Oh Nelly!» she interrupted. «Don’t you care about me at all? You have no idea how tormented I’ve been. I’ve been haunted for these last few nights! But I begin to think you’ve all turned into my enemies. How dreary to die, surrounded by such cold faces!»

Then she began to rage, one minute tearing at her pillow with her teeth, and the next leaping up and trying to open the window. The wild expression on her face and her rapid changes of mood began to frighten me. They reminded me of her earlier illness, and I decided I must fetch Mr. Edgar immediately.


One minute earlier, Cathy had been violent, but now she began to play with the feathers that escaped from her pillow and flew around the room.

«That’s a turkey’s,» she murmured to herself, «and this is a wild duck’s and that’s a pigeon’s. And here’s a lapwing’s. How I wish that I were a lapwing flying over the moor!»

«Stop playing like a baby!» I ordered, dragging the pillow away. But now she sat staring at the mirror.

«Do you see that face in the mirror, Nelly? What does it want from me?»

I told her it was her own face, but she refused to believe me, so in the end I covered it up with a shawl.

«It’s still waiting there for me,» she cried in terror. «Oh Nelly, this room is haunted, and I’m so frightened of being alone!»

«There’s nobody here,» I insisted, as I edged my way out of the room. But as I left the room I was summoned back by a piercing scream – the shawl had dropped off the mirror and she was petrified by what she saw.

«Now look in the mirror, madam,» I said as firmly as I could, «and you’ll see just yourself with me by your side.»

Trembling and bewildered, she held onto me tightly «Oh Nelly… I hardly know where I am any more. I keep thinking I’m back at the Heights with Heathcliff, just after my father died. I wish I was a girl again, wild and free… and racing through the heather. If only I could feel the wind from the moors, I would be better. Just let me feel it, Nelly – let me have one breath.»

I tried to stop her, but her delirious strength was much greater than mine, and she pushed open the window and leaned all the way out. Beyond the house, everything lay in misty darkness, but Cathy insisted she could see the lights at the Heights.


«Look, Nelly,» she said eagerly, «there’s my room with the candle in it and the trees swaying in front of the window. And there’s Joseph’s lamp. He’s waiting up late for me to come home so he can lock the gate. Well, he’ll have to wait for a little while yet… it’s a long journey over the moors and I must go past the graveyard to get there.

«Heathcliff and I used to play games in that graveyard. But, Heathcliff, I dare you, will you come there now? I won’t lie there all by myself. They can bury me twelve feet deep, but I won’t rest until you’re with me… I never will!»


At this moment, I heard the rattle of the doorlatch, and Mr. Edgar was in the room.

«Oh sir!» I cried, «my poor mistress is ill and I can’t manage her at all. Please help me persuade her to go back to bed.»

«Catherine ill?» he said, hurrying toward us. «Shut the window at once, Nelly! Catherine, my love, what has happened to you?»

«She’s been sulking up here all on her own,» I tried to explain. «And she’s hardly eaten anything all that time. She wouldn’t admit to any of this until this evening, so I couldn’t tell you how she was. But please don’t worry, sir. I’m sure it will pass.

«So this is nothing, is it, Nelly Dean?» my master said sternly. «You will need to explain yourself better than that!» Then he took his wife in his arms and stared at her in despair.

At first, Cathy didn’t seem to recognize Edgar at all, but gradually she realized who he was. «Ah, so you’ve come at last, Edgar Linton,» she said sadly. «I suppose there will be plenty of sorrowing now. But you can’t keep me away from my narrow home on the moors… my resting place where I’ll be before spring is over! That’s where I’ll be, not with the Lintons, under a church roof, but in the open air out in the churchyard, and you can please yourself, Edgar, whether you go to them or come to me!»

«Catherine, what’s happened to you?» said Edgar, horrified. «Don’t you care about me anymore? Do you love that wretch, Heath…»

«Stop!» cried Cathy. «Stop this minute. Don’t mention that name, or I’ll jump out of the window now. I don’t want you any more, Edgar. I’m past wanting you… Go back to your books. I’m pleased you’ll have them for company after I’ve gone.»

«Her mind is wandering, sir,» I interrupted. «She’s been talking nonsense all evening. If you leave her quietly, I’m sure she’ll get better. We’ll just have to be careful not to upset her…»

«Thank you, Nelly,» Mr. Edgar said coldly, «but I won’t be needing any more advice from you. You never gave me a hint of how she’s been these last few days! Months of sickness couldn’t have caused such a change!»

I was covered with shame and confusion, and set off as fast as I could to find the doctor.

Назад: A surprising visitor
Дальше: Isabella’s story