But never mind Linton at present: tell me, were you not with Heathcliff last night?
“Shes ill,” said Hindley, taking her wrist; “I suppose thats the reason she would not go to bed. Damn it! What took you into the rain?”
“Running after t lads, as usuald!” croaked Joseph, catching an opportunity from our hesitation to thrust in his evil tongue. “If I war yah, maister, Id just slam t boards i their faces all on em, gentle and simple! Never a day ut yahre off, but yon cat o Linton comes sneaking hither; and Miss Nelly, shoos a fine lass! shoo sits watching for ye i t kitchen; and as yahre in at one door, hes out at tother; and, then, wer grand lady goes a-courting of her side! Its bonny behaviour, lurking amang t fields, after twelve o t night, wi that fahl, flaysome divil of a gipsy, Heathcliff! They think Im blind; but Im noan: nowt ut t soart!-I seed young Linton boath coming and going, and I seed yah” (directing his discourse to me), “yah gooid fur nowt, slattenly witch! nip up and bolt into th house, t minute yah heard t maisters horse-fit clatter up t road.”
“Silence, eavesdropper!” cried Catherine; “none of your insolence before me! Edgar Linton came yesterday by chance, Hindley; and it was I who told him to be off: because I knew you would not like to have met him as you were.”
“You lie, Cathy, no doubt,” answered her brother, “and you are a confounded simpleton! Speak the truth, now. You need not be afraid of harming him: though I hate him as much as ever, he did me a good turn a short time since that will make my conscience tender of breaking his neck. To prevent it, I shall send him about his business this very morning; and after hes gone, Id advise you all to look sharp: I shall only have the more humour for you.”
“I never saw Heathcliff last night,” answered Catherine, beginning to sob bitterly: “and if you do turn him out of doors, Ill go with him. But, perhaps, youll never have an opportunity: perhaps, hes gone.” Here she burst into uncontrollable grief, and the remainder of her words were inarticulate.
It proved the commencement of delirium: Mr
Hindley lavished on her a torrent of scornful abuse, and bade her get to her room immediately, or she shouldnt cry for nothing! I obliged her to obey; and I shall never forget what a scene she acted when we reached her chamber: it terrified me. I thought she was going mad, and I begged Joseph to run for the doctor. Kenneth, as soon as he saw her, pronounced her dangerously ill; she had a fever. He bled her, and he told me to let her live on whey and water-gruel, and take care she did not throw herself downstairs or out of the window; and then he left: for he had enough to do in the parish, where two or three miles was the ordinary distance between cottage and cottage.
Though I cannot say I made a gentle nurse, and Joseph and the master were no better, and though our patient was as wearisome and headstrong as a patient could be, she weathered it through. Old Mrs. Linton paid us several visits, to be sure, and set things to rights, and scolded and ordered us all; and when Catherine was convalescent, she insisted on conveying her to Thrushcross Grange: for which deliverance we were very grateful. But the poor dame had reason to repent of her kindness: she and her husband both took the fever, and died within a few days of each other.