فصل 04

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فصل 04

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CHAPTER 4

Catherine Earnshaw gets to know the Lintons

hind ley came home for his father’s burial. What was more surprising was that he brought a wife with him. She was called Frances, a thin, pale woman with a frequent cough. Now that Hindley was the master of the house, he ordered Joseph and me to spend our evenings in the small back-kitchen, as we were only servants, while he, his wife and Catherine sat in the main room. Catherine and Heathcliff were treated very differently. Catherine received presents, and could continue her lessons, but Heathcliff was made to work on the farm with the men, and, as a farm worker, was only allowed to eat with us in the back-kitchen. They grew up like two wild animals. Hindley did not care what they did, as long as they kept out of his way, and they did not care even if he punished them. They often ran away on to the moors in the morning and stayed out all day, just to make Hindley angry. I was the only one who cared what happened to the two poor creatures, and I was afraid for them.

One Sunday evening they were missing at bedtime, and Hindley ordered me angrily to lock the front door. But I did not want them to stay out in the cold all night, so I kept my window open to look out for them. In a while I saw Heathcliff walking through the gate. I was shocked to see him alone.

‘Where’s Catherine?’ I cried sharply.

‘At Thrushcross Grange, with our neighbours the Lintons,’ he replied. ‘Let me in, Ellen, and I’ll explain what happened.’ I went down to unlock the door, and we came upstairs very quietly.

‘Don’t wake the master up!’ I whispered. ‘Now tell me!’ ‘Well, Catherine and I thought we’d just walk to the Lintons’ house. We wanted to see if Isabella and Edgar Linton are punished all the time by their parents, as we are.’ ‘Probably not,’ I answered. ‘I expect they are good children and don’t need to be punished.’

‘Nonsense, Ellen! Guess what we saw when we looked in at their sitting-room window? A very pretty room, with soft carpets and white walls. Catherine and I would love to have a room like that! But in the middle of this beautiful room, Isabella and Edgar Linton were screaming and fighting over a little dog! How stupid they are, Ellen! If Catherine wanted something, I would give it to her, and she would do the same for me. I would rather be here at Wuthering Heights with her, even if I’m punished by Joseph and that wicked Hindley, than at Thrushcross Grange with those two fools!’ ‘Not so loud, Heathcliff! But you still haven’t told me why Catherine isn’t with you?’

‘Well, as we were looking in, we started laughing at them so loudly that they heard us, and sent the dogs after us. We were about to run away, when a great fierce dog caught Catherine’s leg in its teeth. I attacked it, and made it let go of her leg, but the Lintons’ servants appeared and caught hold of me. They must have thought we were robbers. Catherine was carried unconscious into the house, and they pulled me inside too. All the time I was shouting and swearing at them.

‘ “What a wicked pair of thieves!” said old Mr Linton. “The boy must be a gipsy, he’s as dark as the devil!” Mrs Linton raised her hands in horror at the sight of me. Catherine opened her eyes, and Edgar looked closely at her.

‘ “Mother,” he whispered, “the young lady is Miss Earnshaw, of Wuthering Heights. I’ve seen her in church occasionally. And look what our dog has done to her leg! It’s bleeding badly!” ‘ “Miss Earnshaw with a gipsy!” cried Mrs Linton. “Surely not! But I think you must be right, Edgar. This girl is wearing black, and Mr Earnshaw died recently. It must be her. I’d better put a bandage on her leg at once.” 4 “Why does her brother Hindley let her run around with such a companion?” wondered Mr Linton. “I remember now, he’s the gipsy child Mr Earnshaw brought home from Liverpool a few years ago.” ‘ “He’s a wicked boy, you can see that,” said Mrs Linton. “And did you hear the bad language he used just now? I’m shocked that my children heard it.” ‘I was pushed out into the garden, but I stayed to watch through the window. They put Catherine on a comfortable sofa, cleaned her wound and fed her with cakes and wine. I only left the house when I was sure she was well taken care of. She’s a breath of fresh air for those stupid Lintons. I’m not surprised they like her. Everybody who sees her must love her, mustn’t they, Ellen?’ ‘I’m afraid you’ll be punished for this, Heathcliff,’ I said sadly.

And I was right. Hindley warned Heathcliff that he must never speak to Catherine again, or he would be sent away from Wuthering Heights, and it was decided that Catherine would be taught to behave like a young lady.

She stayed with the Linton family at Thrushcross Grange for five weeks, until Christmas. By that time her leg was fine, and her manners were much better than before. Frances Earnshaw visited her often, bringing her pretty dresses to wear, and persuading her to take care of her appearance, so that when she finally came home after her long absence, she almost seemed a different person. Instead of a wild, hatless girl, we saw a beautiful, carefully dressed young lady.

When she had greeted all of us, she asked for Heathcliff. ‘Come forward, Heathcliff!’ called Hindley. ‘You may welcome Miss Catherine home, like the other servants.’ Heathcliff was used to being outside all day, and had not bothered to wash or change his clothes. His face and hands were black with dirt. In spite of this, Catherine was very glad to see him and rushed up to kiss him. Then she laughed.

‘How funny and black and cross you look! But that’s because I’m used to Edgar and Isabella, who are always so clean and tidy. Well, Heathcliff, have you forgotten me?’ But, ashamed and proud, the boy said nothing, until suddenly his feelings were too much for him.

‘I won’t stay to be laughed at!’ he cried, and was about to run away, when Catherine caught hold of his hand.

‘Why are you angry, Heathcliff? You … you just look a bit strange, that’s all. You’re so dirty!’

She looked worriedly at her hands, and her new dress.

‘You needn’t have touched me!’ he said, pulling away his hand. ‘I like being dirty, and I’m going to be dirty!’

As he ran miserably out of the room, Hindley and his wife laughed loudly, delighted that their plan to separate the two young people seemed to be succeeding.

The next day was Christmas Day. Edgar and Isabella Linton had been invited to lunch, and their mother had agreed, on condition that her darlings were kept carefully apart from ‘that wicked boy’. I felt sorry for poor Heathcliff, and while the Earnshaws were at church, I helped him wash and dress in clean clothes.

‘You’re too proud,’ I scolded him as I brushed his black hair. ‘You should think how sad Catherine is when you can’t be together. And don’t be jealous of Edgar Linton!’ ‘I wish I had blue eyes and fair hair like him! I wish I behaved well, and was going to inherit a fortune!’

‘He has none of your intelligence or character! And if you have a good heart, you’ll have a handsome face. Who knows who your parents were? Perhaps a king and queen, far more important than the Lintons!’ In this way I encouraged Heathcliff to have more confidence in himself. But when the Earnshaws and the Lintons arrived back from church, the first thing Hindley did was shout at Heathcliff.

‘Get out of my sight, until we’ve finished eating! I’ll pull that long hair of yours if you don’t obey me at once!’

‘It is long,’ said Edgar. ‘I’m surprised he can see anything.’ This was too much for Heathcliff. He looked desperately around for a weapon, picked up a bowl of hot soup and threw it at Edgar, who started screaming. Hindley immediately took hold of Heathcliff and pushed him upstairs.

‘I’m sure Hindley’s going to hit him!’ cried Catherine. ‘I hate it when Heathcliff is punished! It’s your fault, Edgar, you

annoyed him! Why did you speak to him?’

‘I didn’t,’ replied Edgar, tears in his eyes. ‘I promised Mother I wouldn’t. I spoke about him, not to him.’

‘Well, don’t cry,’ said Catherine with scorn. ‘You’ve made enough trouble already. Here comes my brother.’

Hindley returned, hot and breathless.

‘That’ll teach him!’ he said. ‘And now let’s have lunch!’

The others seemed to forget Heathcliff, but I noticed Catherine could not eat much, and I knew she was sorry for her friend. In the evening there was music from a travelling band, and dancing in the main room. Catherine said the music sounded sweeter from high up, and so she went to sit in the dark on the stairs. When I went to find her, however, I discovered she had gone right to the top of the house to talk to Heathcliff through his locked bedroom door, and had then climbed out on to the roof and in through his window. I persuaded them both to come out of the room the same way, as I had no key to the door, and took Heathcliff down into the warm servants’ kitchen with me, while Catherine returned to her guests and the dancing.

‘You must be hungry, Heathcliff,’ I said. ‘You haven’t eaten all day. Have some Christmas cake, do.’

‘I can’t eat anything,’ he growled, putting his head in his hands. ‘I’ve got to think how I can have my revenge on Hindley. I only hope he doesn’t die first! He’ll be sorry he’s treated me like this, Ellen!’

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