|

Chapter 20

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 To obviate the danger of this threat being fulfilled, Mr. Linton commissioned me to take the boy home early, on Catherine’s pony; and, said he—‘As we shall now have no influence over his destiny, good or bad, you must say nothing of where he is gone to my daughter: she cannot associate with him hereafter, and it is better for her to remain in ignorance of his proximity; lest she should be restless, and anxious to visit the Heights.  Merely tell her his father sent for him suddenly, and he has been obliged to leave us.’

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Linton was very reluctant to be roused from his bed at five o’clock, and astonished to be informed that he must prepare for further travelling; but I softened off the matter by stating that he was going to spend some time with his father, Mr. Heathcliff, who wished to see him so much, he did not like to defer the pleasure till he should recover from his late journey.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 ‘My father!’ he cried, in strange perplexity.  ‘Mamma never told me I had a father.  Where does he live?  I’d rather stay with uncle.’

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 ‘He lives a little distance from the Grange,’ I replied; ‘just beyond those hills: not so far, but you may walk over here when you get hearty.  And you should be glad to go home, and to see him.  You must try to love him, as you did your mother, and then he will love you.’

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 ‘But why have I not heard of him before?’ asked Linton.  ‘Why didn’t mamma and he live together, as other people do?’

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 ‘He had business to keep him in the north,’ I answered, ‘and your mother’s health required her to reside in the south.’

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 ‘And why didn’t mamma speak to me about him?’ persevered the child.  ‘She often talked of uncle, and I learnt to love him long ago.  How am I to love papa?  I don’t know him.’

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 ‘Oh, all children love their parents,’ I said.  ‘Your mother, perhaps, thought you would want to be with him if she mentioned him often to you.  Let us make haste.  An early ride on such a beautiful morning is much preferable to an hour’s more sleep.’

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 ‘Is she to go with us,’ he demanded, ‘the little girl I saw yesterday?’

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 ‘Not now,’ replied I.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 ‘Is uncle?’ he continued.

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 ‘No, I shall be your companion there,’ I said.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 Linton sank back on his pillow and fell into a brown study.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 ‘I won’t go without uncle,’ he cried at length: ‘I can’t tell where you mean to take me.’

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 I attempted to persuade him of the naughtiness of showing reluctance to meet his father; still he obstinately resisted any progress towards dressing, and I had to call for my master’s assistance in coaxing him out of bed.  The poor thing was finally got off, with several delusive assurances that his absence should be short: that Mr. Edgar and Cathy would visit him, and other promises, equally ill-founded, which I invented and reiterated at intervals throughout the way.  The pure heather-scented air, the bright sunshine, and the gentle canter of Minny, relieved his despondency after a while.  He began to put questions concerning his new home, and its inhabitants, with greater interest and liveliness.

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 ‘Is Wuthering Heights as pleasant a place as Thrushcross Grange?’ he inquired, turning to take a last glance into the valley, whence a light mist mounted and formed a fleecy cloud on the skirts of the blue.

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 ‘It is not so buried in trees,’ I replied, ‘and it is not quite so large, but you can see the country beautifully all round; and the air is healthier for you—fresher and drier.  You will, perhaps, think the building old and dark at first; though it is a respectable house: the next best in the neighbourhood.  And you will have such nice rambles on the moors.  Hareton Earnshaw—that is, Miss Cathy’s other cousin, and so yours in a manner—will show you all the sweetest spots; and you can bring a book in fine weather, and make a green hollow your study; and, now and then, your uncle may join you in a walk: he does, frequently, walk out on the hills.’

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 ‘And what is my father like?’ he asked.  ‘Is he as young and handsome as uncle?’

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 ‘He’s as young,’ said I; ‘but he has black hair and eyes, and looks sterner; and he is taller and bigger altogether.  He’ll not seem to you so gentle and kind at first, perhaps, because it is not his way: still, mind you, be frank and cordial with him; and naturally he’ll be fonder of you than any uncle, for you are his own.’

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 ‘Black hair and eyes!’ mused Linton.  ‘I can’t fancy him.  Then I am not like him, am I?’

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 ‘Not much,’ I answered: not a morsel, I thought, surveying with regret the white complexion and slim frame of my companion, and his large languid eyes—his mother’s eyes, save that, unless a morbid touchiness kindled them a moment, they had not a vestige of her sparkling spirit.

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 ‘How strange that he should never come to see mamma and me!’ he murmured.  ‘Has he ever seen me?  If he has, I must have been a baby.  I remember not a single thing about him!’

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 ‘Why, Master Linton,’ said I, ‘three hundred miles is a great distance; and ten years seem very different in length to a grown-up person compared with what they do to you.  It is probable Mr. Heathcliff proposed going from summer to summer, but never found a convenient opportunity; and now it is too late.  Don’t trouble him with questions on the subject: it will disturb him, for no good.’

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 The boy was fully occupied with his own cogitations for the remainder of the ride, till we halted before the farmhouse garden-gate.  I watched to catch his impressions in his countenance.  He surveyed the carved front and low-browed lattices, the straggling gooseberry-bushes and crooked firs, with solemn intentness, and then shook his head: his private feelings entirely disapproved of the exterior of his new abode.  But he had sense to postpone complaining: there might be compensation within.  Before he dismounted, I went and opened the door.  It was half-past six; the family had just finished breakfast: the servant was clearing and wiping down the table.  Joseph stood by his master’s chair telling some tale concerning a lame horse; and Hareton was preparing for the hayfield.

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 1 ‘Hallo, Nelly!’ said Mr. Heathcliff, when he saw me.  ‘I feared I should have to come down and fetch my property myself.  You’ve brought it, have you?  Let us see what we can make of it.’

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 He got up and strode to the door: Hareton and Joseph followed in gaping curiosity.  Poor Linton ran a frightened eye over the faces of the three.

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 ‘Sure-ly,’ said Joseph after a grave inspection, ‘he’s swopped wi’ ye, Maister, an’ yon’s his lass!’

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 Heathcliff, having stared his son into an ague of confusion, uttered a scornful laugh.

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 ‘God! what a beauty! what a lovely, charming thing!’ he exclaimed.  ‘Hav’n’t they reared it on snails and sour milk, Nelly?  Oh, damn my soul! but that’s worse than I expected—and the devil knows I was not sanguine!’

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 I bid the trembling and bewildered child get down, and enter.  He did not thoroughly comprehend the meaning of his father’s speech, or whether it were intended for him: indeed, he was not yet certain that the grim, sneering stranger was his father.  But he clung to me with growing trepidation; and on Mr. Heathcliff’s taking a seat and bidding him ‘come hither’ he hid his face on my shoulder and wept.

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 ‘Tut, tut!’ said Heathcliff, stretching out a hand and dragging him roughly between his knees, and then holding up his head by the chin.  ‘None of that nonsense!  We’re not going to hurt thee, Linton—isn’t that thy name?  Thou art thy mother’s child, entirely!  Where is my share in thee, puling chicken?’

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 He took off the boy’s cap and pushed back his thick flaxen curls, felt his slender arms and his small fingers; during which examination Linton ceased crying, and lifted his great blue eyes to inspect the inspector.

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 ‘Do you know me?’ asked Heathcliff, having satisfied himself that the limbs were all equally frail and feeble.

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 ‘No,’ said Linton, with a gaze of vacant fear.

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 ‘You’ve heard of me, I daresay?’

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 ‘No,’ he replied again.

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 ‘No!  What a shame of your mother, never to waken your filial regard for me!  You are my son, then, I’ll tell you; and your mother was a wicked slut to leave you in ignorance of the sort of father you possessed.  Now, don’t wince, and colour up!  Though it is something to see you have not white blood.  Be a good lad; and I’ll do for you.  Nelly, if you be tired you may sit down; if not, get home again.  I guess you’ll report what you hear and see to the cipher at the Grange; and this thing won’t be settled while you linger about it.’

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 ‘Well,’ replied I, ‘I hope you’ll be kind to the boy, Mr. Heathcliff, or you’ll not keep him long; and he’s all you have akin in the wide world, that you will ever know—remember.’

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 ‘I’ll be very kind to him, you needn’t fear,’ he said, laughing.  ‘Only nobody else must be kind to him: I’m jealous of monopolising his affection.  And, to begin my kindness, Joseph, bring the lad some breakfast.  Hareton, you infernal calf, begone to your work.  Yes, Nell,’ he added, when they had departed, ‘my son is prospective owner of your place, and I should not wish him to die till I was certain of being his successor.  Besides, he’s mine, and I want the triumph of seeing my descendant fairly lord of their estates; my child hiring their children to till their fathers’ lands for wages.  That is the sole consideration which can make me endure the whelp: I despise him for himself, and hate him for the memories he revives!  But that consideration is sufficient: he’s as safe with me, and shall be tended as carefully as your master tends his own.  I have a room up-stairs, furnished for him in handsome style; I’ve engaged a tutor, also, to come three times a week, from twenty miles’ distance, to teach him what he pleases to learn.  I’ve ordered Hareton to obey him: and in fact I’ve arranged everything with a view to preserve the superior and the gentleman in him, above his associates.  I do regret, however, that he so little deserves the trouble: if I wished any blessing in the world, it was to find him a worthy object of pride; and I’m bitterly disappointed with the whey-faced, whining wretch!’

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 While he was speaking, Joseph returned bearing a basin of milk-porridge, and placed it before Linton: who stirred round the homely mess with a look of aversion, and affirmed he could not eat it.  I saw the old man-servant shared largely in his master’s scorn of the child; though he was compelled to retain the sentiment in his heart, because Heathcliff plainly meant his underlings to hold him in honour.

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 ‘Cannot ate it?’ repeated he, peering in Linton’s face, and subduing his voice to a whisper, for fear of being overheard.  ‘But Maister Hareton nivir ate naught else, when he wer a little ’un; and what wer gooid enough for him’s gooid enough for ye, I’s rayther think!’

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 ‘I sha’n’t eat it!’ answered Linton, snappishly.  ‘Take it away.’

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 Joseph snatched up the food indignantly, and brought it to us.

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 ‘Is there aught ails th’ victuals?’ he asked, thrusting the tray under Heathcliff’s nose.

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 ‘What should ail them?’ he said.

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 ‘Wah!’ answered Joseph, ‘yon dainty chap says he cannut ate ’em.  But I guess it’s raight!  His mother wer just soa—we wer a’most too mucky to sow t’ corn for makking her breead.’

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 ‘Don’t mention his mother to me,’ said the master, angrily.  ‘Get him something that he can eat, that’s all.  What is his usual food, Nelly?’

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 I suggested boiled milk or tea; and the housekeeper received instructions to prepare some.  Come, I reflected, his father’s selfishness may contribute to his comfort.  He perceives his delicate constitution, and the necessity of treating him tolerably.  I’ll console Mr. Edgar by acquainting him with the turn Heathcliff’s humour has taken.  Having no excuse for lingering longer, I slipped out, while Linton was engaged in timidly rebuffing the advances of a friendly sheep-dog.  But he was too much on the alert to be cheated: as I closed the door, I heard a cry, and a frantic repetition of the words—

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 ‘Don’t leave me!  I’ll not stay here!  I’ll not stay here!’

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 Then the latch was raised and fell: they did not suffer him to come forth.  I mounted Minny, and urged her to a trot; and so my brief guardianship ended.

Page 101

Source: https://marginalia.sunygeneseoenglish.org/wuthering-heights/wh-chapter-20/

Skip to toolbar