I kept Heathcliff’s letter safe in my pocket, waiting for a time when my master was out. But it was four days later when I finally saw my chance. Mr. Edgar and the rest of the servants set off to walk to church, and I was left alone in the house with my mistress.
Cathy sat by an open window, enjoying the warm spring sunshine. Her appearance was greatly changed since her illness, and there was a strange, unearthly beauty in her face. Her once-flashing eyes were dreamy and melancholy, and she seemed to be always gazing into the distance – as if she were looking at something beyond this world.
«Here’s a letter for you, madam,» I said, putting it into her lifeless hand. «You must read it now, because it needs an answer. Shall I open it for you?»
«Yes, Nelly,» she answered, but then she let it fall. I gave it back to her.
«Shall I read it for you, madam? It’s from Mr. Heathcliff.»
She looked startled.
«He says he wishes to see you,» I said as gently as I could, «and he’s in the garden now, waiting for your answer.»
As I spoke, we heard footsteps in the hall. Cathy bent forward, listening breathlessly, and a minute later Heathcliff had found the door. In just two strides he was at Cathy’s side, and had grasped her in his arms.
For five whole minutes, Heathcliff held Cathy in silence, covering her with kisses, and I saw he could hardly bear to look at her face. He had seen immediately that she would never recover, and was sure to die very soon.
«Oh, Cathy! Oh, my life! How can I bear it?» he cried out in despair.
«What?» said Cathy, leaning back weakly. «Am I meant to pity you now? You and Edgar have both treated me so cruelly – you’ve broken my heart. Together you have killed me, but you will go on living. See how strong you are, Heathcliff! How many years do you plan to live after I am dead? Will you forget me and be happy when I am in my grave?»
«Oh, Cathy, please don’t torture me like this,» he cried, grinding his teeth. «How can you talk to me like this when I can see that you’re dying? Don’t you realize your words will be burned forever into my memory, after you’ve left me and you are at peace?»
«I shall never be at peace,» moaned Cathy. «How can I be at peace if we are parted?»
Heathcliff could bear it no longer, and he walked away from Cathy, his chest heaving with emotion. So she turned to me instead.
«Oh, Nelly, I’m so tired of this prison. I’m longing to escape to a different, glorious world. And soon I shall be there. Then I’ll be beyond and above you all. But now I want to be with Heathcliff… Heathcliff, won’t you please come to me now?»
Cathy tried to stand up, and Heathcliff turned towards her, his eyes wild and wet. For a moment they stood apart, then Cathy made a wild leap at Heathcliff. He just managed to catch her and they fell into each other’s arms, locked tightly together as though they would never part.
«Why have you been so cruel to me, Cathy?» said Heathcliff wildly. «Why did you marry Edgar when it was me that you loved? If we had been together, nothing would have parted us, but you chose to do this. I haven’t broken your heart – it’s you who has broken it! And you’ve broken mine as well. Do you think I want to live after you’ve gone? What kind of living will it be when you are in your grave?»
«If I’ve done wrong, I’m dying for it now,» sobbed Cathy. «But you left me too, Heathcliff. And I’ll forgive you, if you forgive me now!»
«It’s hard to forgive you, and look in your sunken eyes. Kiss me again, Cathy, but don’t let me see your eyes!
Then they were silent and clung to each other, drenched in each other’s tears.
Suddenly, I noticed through the window a group of people walking home from church.
«My master will be here very soon,» I warned them. But they never moved.
Soon I saw Edgar opening the garden gate.
«Now he’s here,» I cried. «For heaven’s sake, hurry! If you go now, you can still miss him.»
«I must go, Cathy,» said Heathcliff, «but I’ll stay close to your window.»
«No! You mustn’t go!» she shrieked. «It’s the last time! Edgar can’t hurt us, Heathcliff. I shall die if you go!
At that moment, Edgar opened the door. He rushed towards Heathcliff, shaking with rage. But before Edgar could reach him, Heathcliff had stepped forward.
«Look after Cathy first,» he said, putting her lifeless body into her husband’s arms, «and then you can speak to me!»
Cathy lay unconscious in Edgar’s arms, and while we tried desperately to revive her, Heathcliff crept silently out into the garden. Eventually, Cathy came around, but all she could do was sigh and moan and look around her wildly, not recognizing us at all. We put her straight to bed, and around midnight her baby was born, two months early. A couple of hours later, Cathy died, without ever recovering consciousness enough to see her daughter.
Edgar was so desperate with grief that he completely ignored his child, who we named Catherine after her mother. It seemed a terrible start for the puny little thing, and I worried that she had a difficult future ahead of her. The Lintons’ fortune was oddly arranged so that all Edgar’s wealth and property would go to Isabella after his death. If Edgar died, Isabella and Heathcliff would inherit everything, and little Catherine would be left with nothing.
Finally, morning came, and Edgar fell asleep, worn out with grief. I went out to look for Heathcliff and found him leaning on an old ash tree, his hair soaked in dew. When he saw me coming, he raised his eyes to me.
«She’s dead!» he said. «You needn’t tell me that. And put your handkerchief away, Nelly – she doesn’t want your tears!»
«Yes, she’s dead!» I answered, trying to stop my sobs.
«Tell me, Nelly,» he urged, «how did she…?» He struggled to speak, trembling all over. «How did she die?» he managed to say at last.
«As quietly as a lamb,» I answered. «She died in a gentle dream – and may she wake as gently in heaven!»
«May she wake in torment!» he cried out violently. «Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living! You said that I killed you – well haunt me, then! Be with me always – take any form – drive me insane! Only don’t leave me in this darkness where I cannot find you! You know I can’t live without my life! I can’t live without my soul!»
Then he started beating his head against the tree trunk and howling like a savage beast in pain.
Cathy was buried in Gimmerton churchyard five days later. Edgar spent every night until then sitting by her coffin, while Heathcliff kept watch in the garden outside. On the day of her funeral, only Edgar and the servants accompanied Cathy’s coffin to her grave. To my surprise, she wasn’t buried inside the church with the Lintons, or with her parents by the church door. Instead, her grave was dug on a green slope in the corner of the churchyard, just where the graveyard meets the moor.
On the evening of Cathy’s funeral, the warm spring sunshine changed to snow. Soon the primroses were covered in wintry snowdrifts and the larks were silent again. The mood in the Grange was dismal. My master stayed in his study while I took over the sitting room, turning it into a nursery for baby Catherine. I spent my days trying to comfort the tiny moaning doll of a child, and watching the sleet and snow driving outside.
The day after the funeral, I was sitting with the baby, when the door opened and I heard a familiar voice. It was Isabella Heathcliff and she was in a terrible state.
«Don’t be scared, Nelly, it’s only me!» she panted, «I’ve run all the way from Wuthering Heights, and I can’t count the number of falls I’ve had. Oh, I’m aching all over, but I can’t stay. I just need to collect a few clothes and then take a carriage on to Gimmerton.»
Her hair and clothes were dripping wet, and all she was wearing was a short-sleeved dress and a thin pair of shoes. She had a deep cut under one ear, and her face was covered in scratches and bruises. I also noticed that she was expecting a baby.
«My dear young lady,» I exclaimed, «you must at least get warm and dry and let me bandage your wound, before you go any further.»
She agreed to rest by the fire for a few minutes and, while I was looking after her, she told me her sad story…
«I daren’t stay long,» she began, «or Heathcliff will find me and force me to go back to the Heights. He was in such a fury when I left! I wish I could stay to comfort Edgar and help you with the baby, but Heathcliff would never allow it. He hates me with a passion and he loves to make me suffer. I can’t believe I ever liked him. How could Cathy have loved such a monster?»
«Hush! He’s a human being,» I said. «There are worse men than him!»
«He’s not a human being,» she replied, «he’s a fiend! And I can’t feel sorry for him now, not if he wept tears of blood for Cathy. But you ask me why I left…
«Yesterday, you know, was the day of Cathy’s funeral, and Heathcliff came back after six days away, looking like a savage wolf with his cannibal teeth gleaming in the dark. That night, Hindley tried to shoot Heathcliff with his rifle, and he would have succeeded if only Heathcliff hadn’t been so strong. Heathcliff didn’t stop beating Hindley until he was black and blue, and I just watched it all and wished I had the strength to overpower the brute myself.
«The next morning I decided it was time for my revenge. I waited until Hindley was prowling around the house, ready to pay Heathcliff back for the night before. Then I began to torment my husband in the best way I knew – by telling him that he could never have made Cathy happy! This made him so wild that he threw a knife at me, which cut me in the neck, and I ran screaming out of the kitchen. Hindley heard the scream and leaped on Heathcliff. Then I left them fighting like bears and ran all the way here!»
Isabella stopped her story. The carriage had arrived to take her to Gimmerton and she was anxious to be gone. Before she left, she kissed Edgar’s and Cathy’s portraits, and scooped her little dog up into her arms.
I believe she settled somewhere near London, and a few months later she had a son. She and Edgar wrote to each other regularly, but Isabella never came to Yorkshire again.
Somehow, Heathcliff learned from the servants about his son. Once, when I saw him in the village, he stopped and spoke to me.
«I hear Isabella’s called my son Linton. She must want me to hate him too!»
«I don’t think she wants you to know anything about him,» I replied frostily.
«Well, she can keep him now,» he said grimly. «But one day I’ll have him, she can be sure of that!»
After Cathy’s death, my master was a changed man. He almost never left the Grange except to visit Cathy’s grave. But he did have one great comfort in life – his little daughter Catherine. Hesoon stopped neglecting her and became immensely fond of the child, spending most of his days playing and talking with her.
I sometimes used to compare Edgar with Hindley, and wonder to myself how these two men could have turned out so differently. Both of them had lost a wife they adored and both had a child to care for. But Hindley, who had always seemed the stronger of the two to me, allowed himself to fall apart, while Edgar devoted himself to being a good father.
Poor Hindley died soon after his sister. We never found out exactly what happened to him, but the doctor said he had drunk himself to death. By the time Hindley died, he had nothing to leave to his son. Heathcliff had won his house and all his money by playing him at cards. And young Hareton, who should have inherited Wuthering Heights, was forced to work as a servant for his father’s enemy. The cuckoo had finally taken over the nest.