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Wuthering Heights, Chapter 19 - The Best Place to Curl Up with a Good Book [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Big Comfy Chair

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Wuthering Heights, Chapter 19 [Jun. 22nd, 2007|03:47 pm]
Big Comfy Chair

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[cpt_babypants]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]



CHAPTER XIX



A LETTER, edged with black, announced the day of my master's
return, Isabella was dead; and he wrote to bid me get mourning for
his daughter, and arrange a room, and other accommodations, for his
youthful nephew. Catherine ran wild with joy at the idea of
welcoming her father back; and indulged most sanguine anticipations
of the innumerable excellencies of her 'real' cousin. The evening
of their expected arrival came. Since early morning she had been
busy ordering her own small affairs; and now attired in her new
black frock - poor thing! her aunt's death impressed her with no
definite sorrow - she obliged me, by constant worrying, to walk
with her down through the grounds to meet them.

'Linton is just six months younger than I am,' she chattered, as we
strolled leisurely over the swells and hollows of mossy turf, under
shadow of the trees. 'How delightful it will be to have him for a
playfellow! Aunt Isabella sent papa a beautiful lock of his hair;
it was lighter than mine - more flaxen, and quite as fine. I have
it carefully preserved in a little glass box; and I've often
thought what a pleasure it would be to see its owner. Oh! I am
happy - and papa, dear, dear papa! Come, Ellen, let us run! come,
run.'

She ran, and returned and ran again, many times before my sober
footsteps reached the gate, and then she seated herself on the
grassy bank beside the path, and tried to wait patiently; but that
was impossible: she couldn't be still a minute.

'How long they are!' she exclaimed. 'Ah, I see, some dust on the
road - they are coming! No! When will they be here? May we not
go a little way - half a mile, Ellen, only just half a mile? Do
say Yes: to that clump of birches at the turn!'

I refused staunchly. At length her suspense was ended: the
travelling carriage rolled in sight. Miss Cathy shrieked and
stretched out her arms as soon as she caught her father's face
looking from the window. He descended, nearly as eager as herself;
and a considerable interval elapsed ere they had a thought to spare
for any but themselves. While they exchanged caresses I took a
peep in to see after Linton. He was asleep in a corner, wrapped in
a warm, fur-lined cloak, as if it had been winter. A pale,
delicate, effeminate boy, who might have been taken for my master's
younger brother, so strong was the resemblance: but there was a
sickly peevishness in his aspect that Edgar Linton never had. The
latter saw me looking; and having shaken hands, advised me to close
the door, and leave him undisturbed; for the journey had fatigued
him. Cathy would fain have taken one glance, but her father told
her to come, and they walked together up the park, while I hastened
before to prepare the servants.

'Now, darling,' said Mr. Linton, addressing his daughter, as they
halted at the bottom of the front steps: 'your cousin is not so
strong or so merry as you are, and he has lost his mother,
remember, a very short time since; therefore, don't expect him to
play and run about with you directly. And don't harass him much by
talking: let him be quiet this evening, at least, will you?'

'Yes, yes, papa,' answered Catherine: 'but I do want to see him;
and he hasn't once looked out.'

The carriage stopped; and the sleeper being roused, was lifted to
the ground by his uncle.

'This is your cousin Cathy, Linton,' he said, putting their little
hands together. 'She's fond of you already; and mind you don't
grieve her by crying to-night. Try to be cheerful now; the
travelling is at an end, and you have nothing to do but rest and
amuse yourself as you please.'

'Let me go to bed, then,' answered the boy, shrinking from
Catherine's salute; and he put his fingers to remove incipient
tears.

'Come, come, there's a good child,' I whispered, leading him in.
'You'll make her weep too - see how sorry she is for you!'

I do not know whether it was sorrow for him, but his cousin put on
as sad a countenance as himself, and returned to her father. All
three entered, and mounted to the library, where tea was laid
ready. I proceeded to remove Linton's cap and mantle, and placed
him on a chair by the table; but he was no sooner seated than he
began to cry afresh. My master inquired what was the matter.

'I can't sit on a chair,' sobbed the boy.

'Go to the sofa, then, and Ellen shall bring you some tea,'
answered his uncle patiently.

He had been greatly tried, during the journey, I felt convinced, by
his fretful ailing charge. Linton slowly trailed himself off, and
lay down. Cathy carried a footstool and her cup to his side. At
first she sat silent; but that could not last: she had resolved to
make a pet of her little cousin, as she would have him to be; and
she commenced stroking his curls, and kissing his cheek, and
offering him tea in her saucer, like a baby. This pleased him, for
he was not much better: he dried his eyes, and lightened into a
faint smile.

'Oh, he'll do very well,' said the master to me, after watching
them a minute. 'Very well, if we can keep him, Ellen. The company
of a child of his own age will instil new spirit into him soon, and
by wishing for strength he'll gain it.'

'Ay, if we can keep him!' I mused to myself; and sore misgivings
came over me that there was slight hope of that. And then, I
thought, how ever will that weakling live at Wuthering Heights?
Between his father and Hareton, what playmates and instructors
they'll be. Our doubts were presently decided - even earlier than
I expected. I had just taken the children up-stairs, after tea was
finished, and seen Linton asleep - he would not suffer me to leave
him till that was the case - I had come down, and was standing by
the table in the hall, lighting a bedroom candle for Mr. Edgar,
when a maid stepped out of the kitchen and informed me that Mr.
Heathcliff's servant Joseph was at the door, and wished to speak
with the master.

'I shall ask him what he wants first,' I said, in considerable
trepidation. 'A very unlikely hour to be troubling people, and the
instant they have returned from a long journey. I don't think the
master can see him.'

Joseph had advanced through the kitchen as I uttered these words,
and now presented himself in the hall. He was donned in his Sunday
garments, with his most sanctimonious and sourest face, and,
holding his hat in one hand, and his stick in the other, he
proceeded to clean his shoes on the mat.

'Good-evening, Joseph,' I said, coldly. 'What business brings you
here to-night?'

'It's Maister Linton I mun spake to,' he answered, waving me
disdainfully aside.

'Mr. Linton is going to bed; unless you have something particular
to say, I'm sure he won't hear it now,' I continued. 'You had
better sit down in there, and entrust your message to me.'

'Which is his rahm?' pursued the fellow, surveying the range of
closed doors.

I perceived he was bent on refusing my mediation, so very
reluctantly I went up to the library, and announced the
unseasonable visitor, advising that he should be dismissed till
next day. Mr. Linton had no time to empower me to do so, for
Joseph mounted close at my heels, and, pushing into the apartment,
planted himself at the far side of the table, with his two fists
clapped on the head of his stick, and began in an elevated tone, as
if anticipating opposition -

'Hathecliff has sent me for his lad, and I munn't goa back 'bout
him.'

Edgar Linton was silent a minute; an expression of exceeding sorrow
overcast his features: he would have pitied the child on his own
account; but, recalling Isabella's hopes and fears, and anxious
wishes for her son, and her commendations of him to his care, he
grieved bitterly at the prospect of yielding him up, and searched
in his heart how it might be avoided. No plan offered itself: the
very exhibition of any desire to keep him would have rendered the
claimant more peremptory: there was nothing left but to resign
him. However, he was not going to rouse him from his sleep.

'Tell Mr. Heathcliff,' he answered calmly, 'that his son shall come
to Wuthering Heights to-morrow. He is in bed, and too tired to go
the distance now. You may also tell him that the mother of Linton
desired him to remain under my guardianship; and, at present, his
health is very precarious.'

'Noa!' said Joseph, giving a thud with his prop on the floor, and
assuming an authoritative air. 'Noa! that means naught.
Hathecliff maks noa 'count o' t' mother, nor ye norther; but he'll
heu' his lad; und I mun tak' him - soa now ye knaw!'

'You shall not to-night!' answered Linton decisively. 'Walk down
stairs at once, and repeat to your master what I have said. Ellen,
show him down. Go - '

And, aiding the indignant elder with a lift by the arm, he rid the
room of him and closed the door.

'Varrah weell!' shouted Joseph, as he slowly drew off. 'To-morn,
he's come hisseln, and thrust HIM out, if ye darr!'

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