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Nelly Dean Alison Case HarperCollins Copyright (#u668a3636-e978-5a58-9aff-a064794d9e05) The Borough Press, An imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF www.harpercollins.co.uk (http://www.harpercollins.co.uk) First published by HarperCollinsPublishers 2015 Copyright Alison Case 2015 Cover layout design HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 2016 Cover lettering by Alexandra Allden Cover photographs Marie Carr/ Arcangel Images (woman); Mark Owen / Trevillion Images (landscape) Alison Case asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the authors imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. 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No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books Ebook Edition August 2015 ISBN: 9780008123406 Source ISBN: 9780008123420 Version 2016-02-10 Dedication (#u668a3636-e978-5a58-9aff-a064794d9e05) For my brothers: Chris, Tim and Brady With love Table of Contents Cover (#ua4a68688-bb31-58c7-9b3a-947910f63bdc) Title Page (#u61ee9961-7917-564a-8566-491bc08bee6c) Copyright (#uc45eb0a4-2a62-5549-9a6d-270eb87ad5ab) Dedication (#u0d7d0446-d07d-5b63-8a4e-8962a6ed4d40) Chapter One (#ufdf99b2d-0c1e-5c04-8db2-1fa6d67e886f) Chapter Two (#u4d561561-0399-5d9a-a49b-e2e561e5fdb9) Chapter Three (#u070f7b43-8dae-5531-8d2f-37cb29be7c69) Chapter Four (#ud6af24c5-4596-59d3-85b2-aafae328df5d) Chapter Five (#u0196a8e6-e696-5bb8-96f9-30b9f8394d10) Chapter Six (#u2a58e36e-e5ae-5b38-b52c-e961a1c6ed18) Chapter Seven (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Eight (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Nine (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Ten (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Eleven (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Twelve (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Thirteen (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Fourteen (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Fifteen (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Sixteen (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Seventeen (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Eighteen (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Nineteen (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Twenty (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Twenty-One (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Twenty-Two (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Twenty-Three (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Twenty-Four (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Twenty-Five (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Twenty-Six (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Twenty-Seven (#litres_trial_promo) Acknowledgements (#litres_trial_promo) A Q&A With Alison Case (#litres_trial_promo) Writing Nelly Dean (#litres_trial_promo) Praise for Nelly Dean (#litres_trial_promo) About the Author (#litres_trial_promo) About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo) ONE (#u668a3636-e978-5a58-9aff-a064794d9e05) Dear Mr Lockwood, I dont suppose youll be expecting to hear from me, not since I sent you the few bits of things you left behind on your last visit youll remember, the handkerchiefs and your carved walking stick that turned up after you left. Im not writing about anything like that now I am sorry to say that we never did find your other pair of spectacles. I think they must have fallen from your overcoat pocket when you were floundering in the snow that night, and got trodden into the mud after it thawed in spring. I turned the house here inside out last month, when we were getting ready for the wedding: every drawer and cupboard emptied, and the carpets and cushions and bedding all taken out to be aired and beaten. Im sure we would have found them then if they were to be found. And that covers everything that you wrote to me was missing. There, I said I wasnt writing about your things, and I have gone and done it anyway. Its an old habit with me, to get the chores finished off before settling down to a bit of time for myself, and those spectacles of yours have been weighing on my mind like a half-sewn shirt or a half-swept floor. Or a half-told tale. Its that Im writing to you about, Mr Lockwood: the story I told you over those long, dark nights. And about the story I didnt tell. Dont mistake me, please, I told you no lies, or not what you would call lies. Or at least well, well come to that. But there were things I didnt say, things I couldnt say, then, and perhaps shouldnt now. But theyve weighed on me since, and my mind has kept returning to you listening, and me talking, and Ive imagined myself again and again telling you all those other things, and you taking an interest in them, as a story, you know, as you did that other tale I told. I half fancied that you might pass this way again, to pay a visit and see for yourself how Hareton and Cathy were coming on, and perhaps you might sit with me by the fire in the sitting room, and I would tell you another story altogether, a homespun grey yarn woven in among the bright-dyed and glossy dark threads of the Earnshaws and Lintons. So when your letter came about the things you missed, and you wrote that you were to be settling in Italy for your health, I saw that that would never be. And to be honest, even if you had, I could never have told you such a story to your face. But it pleased me to think of it, and as Ive said, it bothered me a bit, some of the things left out of that other story, till it came to where I sat myself down and started to write. So here I am. It was a strange thing, telling you that story, hour after hour, pulling myself back into all those times, and sorting and choosing among my memories what to tell and what not. You asked me to tell you everything, to leave out nothing, but of course no one can do that, tell all theyve seen and heard and felt, and all theyve known and thought, wondered, and suspected too. And I was so afraid of wearying you! You thought it was a simple thing: you asked for Heathcliffs story, and I knew it and told it to you, same as I might have told you any current story about the doings of a neighbour here, or one of the tales of folk from the other world that we tell on dark nights. And if somewhere in the middle youd grown weary and wanted to hear no more of it, why that would be that. Yet the story would be there with me, just the same, though untold. But the story wasnt there until I told it to you. It wasnt a story to tell, just a jumble of memories, like pictures in my mind: young Heathcliff tossing his dirty mane from his eyes like a wild moor pony; the two of them standing side by side, sullen and defiant, under one of Josephs lectures; or later, Catherine glittering and primping in her new finery; or Heathcliff with that set, frozen look hed get under one of Hindleys savage beatings, so that I didnt know which was the more awful: the baffled rage in Hindleys red face, that all his wild flailing with strap or stick could wring no cry nor plea from the boy, or the still hatred in Heathcliffs white one, that promised I didnt know what all that came after, it seems to me now. See, thats how it is when you tell a story. You cant help changing things, seeing the future lying curled in the past like a half-grown chick in an egg. But its not so. Putting myself back there, looking at him then, Heathcliffs face promised nothing, foreboded nothing, and I felt only sickness and horror looking on it, loving them both, in my own way, as I did, and powerless to stop them. In the midst of scenes like that, Mr Lockwood and may God grant that you never learn the truth of this yourself there are no stories, because there is no past and no future, only now. And afterwards, it seemed best to forget them, if I could. Until you asked about the folks at Wuthering Heights, and then I thought, Maybe this is where you come in, Nelly Dean, after all. It seemed so strange that all that remained of the family I grew up with at the Heights, and my own two beloved bairns as well, should be shut up together just a short way down the road each, as it seemed, set only on making misery for the others and I, the one person on earth that loved them all, barred from giving any help at all. And then you arrived, a handsome gentleman of independent means, taking solitude as a cure though for what ailment you wouldnt say. But it was soon plain enough you were hungry for excitement, and could no more bear being alone than the tabby cat here, that turns up her nose and stalks away from my offered caresses, but then comes and jumps in my lap the moment Im settled by the fire to sew. So off you went to the Heights the first fine day, and came back singed and smarting from your reception, but interested too, and curious. And youd seen my little Cathy, as lovely and loving a girl as any man could wish, to my mind, locked up there like a princess in a tower, and only needing to be rescued. A good servant ought to keep her mouth shut about her employers doings, or tell only what is already generally known in the neighbourhood. But as you must have guessed by now, I am a good deal less, and more, than a good servant. When I told you that story, I wanted it to do what stories in books had so often done to me caught me up in them until they seemed more real than the everyday world around me, and made me long to walk in them as my own sober self, to warn fools against foolishness and enlighten the deceived, to talk sense to the wicked and comfort the afflicted. To forestall disaster. To make peace. There have been times I could have flung a book against the wall, in sheer frustration that it could make me care so and yet leave me helpless to act. I thought if I could only tell the story like that, to make you feel that way, why for you there would be no barrier, nothing more than a stroll down the lane between you and the chance to make happiness out of the living tragedy. Well, it wasnt to be, though whether the fault was in the teller or the hearer or the tale itself, for it was a strange one is not for me to say. And it all worked out for the best. I was always a great one for reading. I well remember when I first saw the library at Thrushcross Grange; Id never seen so many books in one room before, or a whole room given over just to books. Mr Linton was kind enough to let me borrow books from it as often as I wished he was glad to see a servant wishing to improve her mind, he said. At the Heights, I had to steal the books and the time to read them both, once I began work in earnest until then I had my lessons with Cathy and Hindley. But I was as clever as any of them I get that from my mother. Cleverer than many, between ourselves, especially the wives. Not Cathy, she didnt lack for brains, any more than for spirit, Ill give her that. But Mrs Earnshaw was a sad, silly thing, whod made a right mess of the housekeeping at Wuthering Heights before she had my mother in to help her, and as for Frances, that Mr Hindley brought home for a wife, as far as I could tell she could scarcely read or write. I never saw her pick up a book without putting it down a minute afterwards, declaring it tiresome. It was no better with ciphering: she knew that as mistress she ought to keep the household accounts, and so once a month or so she would get out the account book and all the bills and receipts, and make a great show and bustle of laying them out on the table. Then she would sit down with a pen and stare at them in a state of puzzlement, before handing them over to me with the excuse that she had a headache. They all thought he was lost in love for her I know I told you so, Mr Lockwood, and anyone here would have told you the same. Indeed you would have thought the same yourself, had you seen them, with all the fuss and show he put on about her. And Ill not say he didnt love her. But sometimes, if I was by, and her back to me, in the midst of his fussing he would send me a long, keen look, as if all this show was for my benefit, and then he would find something to complain of, to mark the difference between us: Nelly, fetch more cushions for this sofa, or Nelly, this teas like dirty dishwater! My wife is used to better things. Make up a fresh pot, and dont stint the tea this time. You can drink this stuff yourself, if you like it so. Now the mistress, she would protest this at first. She was a friendly enough little thing, really, and wanted to be loved by all, so it was always dont take the trouble or I like it just as it is, thank you in her mouth. It was thanks to that we didnt have to fit up a ladys sitting room for her at the start, as Hindley wished us to do. But she soon saw where the wind lay: Hindley would frown and look dark at any friendly words from her to me, but he petted and kissed her for complaining of me and ordering me about. And to tell the truth, I did little to encourage her friendliness myself. She would have liked to make a confidante of me, I could see, and small wonder: she had no one else to talk to, poor child, with Cathy wild and scornful, and no visiting in the neighbourhood. But I was having none of it. I gave her no more than yes, maam and no, maam and if you please, maam, though I could see it hurt her to be put off so. You see, Mr Lockwood, when Hindley brought her back, and flaunted her in front of me as his fine lady bride, I vowed to myself that from then on Id work for my wages, and no more. Never again, I said to them all in my head, will I split myself in two for you, to be kin one day, and slave the next, as you see need. And as far as she went, I kept my word, and I was well pleased with myself for keeping it. Now, though, looking back, I think how lonely she must have been, for I think, silly as she was, she saw through all Hindleys petting and praise, that his heart was elsewhere, though she little guessed who had had the keeping of it. Yes, Mr Lockwood, if youd come to Wuthering Heights then, youd have seen Hindley a doting husband, and me, a bustling and solicitous servant, and Frances, fluttering and laughing as if all the world loved her. And youd have thought the only thing amiss in the family was a brooding, dark-faced boy and a wild mischievous girl, and their endless skirmishing with Hindley and Joseph. But all the time, Hindley was using her to strike at me, and I was using her to strike at him, and she, poor thing, was battered between us, and died of it. Of all the ghosts at Wuthering Heights, hers is the one I fear, for I wronged her, and God knows she meant me no harm. TWO (#u668a3636-e978-5a58-9aff-a064794d9e05) But this will not do: I am meandering about like a puppy on the moors, following after one scent and then another in every direction at once. I must make a proper start, and tell you my story in a more collected fashion. Heathcliffs arrival was the end of my childhood. I had lived at the Heights as long as I could remember. My mother had been nurse to Hindley when we were both babes-in-arms, so we had been nearly always together. After we were weaned, my mother returned home to the cottage she shared with my father, coming to the Heights only one or two days a week to help with the churning and other tasks too heavy for the mistress and too skilled to be left to maids. But she chose, for reasons of her own, that I should stay on with the Earnshaws, to live in the nursery and, in time, have lessons with Hindley and Cathy. I knew that I was not really one of the family. I knew that my own parents were poor, and that when I grew older I should have to work for my bread, as they did. I knew that I was only permitted to live and be educated at the Heights because of Mrs Earnshaws old friendship with my mother, and her gratitude for my mothers services to the family, and that it was expected of me that I would be a pleasing companion to the children and a help to Mrs Earnshaw and to my mother too, when she came over. I knew all this, I say, because I had been told it, but it was not a truth I had before me in my day-to-day life. Mrs Earnshaw was an indulgent mistress if anything, kinder to me than to her own children, though perhaps that was only because I tried her patience less. Mr Earnshaw was a good deal sterner than his wife, but again, not more so to me than to his own, and with him too, I felt myself to be something of a favourite. It is true that I was often called from my lessons to do chores in the kitchen, but Hindley was almost equally called upon out-of-doors, his father thinking it best to give him an early introduction to the labours required by the estate he was to inherit. For the rest, I ate, slept, studied and played with Hindley and Cathy, shared in their treats and their punishments, and participated as an equal in their games. I knew, if I thought about it, that my future prospects were widely different from theirs, but what child can think about that, when the sun is shining and the bees are humming over the blooming heather, and she and her nursery-mates have just been granted an unexpected holiday from lessons in honour of the first sunny day in a week? And looking back on it now, my childhood seems composed only of such holidays. But all that changed when Heathcliff came. We were little prepared for such a change that evening. We had all been eagerly anticipating the masters return from his trip to Liverpool, and our minds were dwelling much on the good things that were to arrive with him. You must not think, though, that we were greedy children, always looking after gifts and treats, or that we were much attached to toys and other possessions. This was an exceptional occasion, for the master had never been gone so far or so long from the house before. In those days, Gimmerton was the outermost limit of our known world, and Liverpool seemed scarcely less distant and magical than Paris or Constantinople. Then, too, the gifts Mr Earnshaw had engaged to bring back for us held a significance far beyond their price. For Hindley, who had asked for a fiddle, his fathers cheerful promise to bring him one had come like a peace offering, for he endured much criticism for preferring all forms of play and merrymaking which his father termed indolence to schoolwork or farm business. Cathy, too, had been often scolded for being too wild and too much out-of-doors, when she ought to be sitting in the house with her sampler, or helping her mother. Emboldened by Hindleys success, she had asked for a whip and took her fathers smiling acquiescence in the request as tacit permission for many a future gallop across the moors on her little pony. I myself, when asked, had not ventured to request anything more extravagant than an apple, whereupon he called me a good girl and promised me a whole pocketful. As the hour of his expected return approached, our excitement reached a pitch that made any pretence of rational employment impossible. Hindley, in anticipation of his fiddle, was holding an invisible one stiffly to his shoulder with his head bent sideways, and sawing the air over it with the grimmest possible expression on his face, while his feet danced merrily under him as if disconnected from the top, in perfect imitation of our best local fiddler a performance that had even the mistress in fits of laughter. Cathy, not to be outdone, was cantering around the outside of the room as if she were pony and rider both, and, by judicious application of her imaginary whip (signalled by shouting Thwack! as she moved her arm), leaping every obstacle in her path with ease. I, with nothing more exciting to expect than apples, was trying to prove my superior virtue by sitting quietly with some plain sewing, but Hindleys glee was infectious, and I soon jumped up to improvise a dance to his imaginary tune earning me a gallant bow from the pretending fiddler while Mrs Earnshaw clapped the time, and Cathy galloped about to the same rhythm. In all the riot we half forgot the object of our anticipation, so that the masters weary Halloo from outside, announcing his arrival at the gate, came like a magical signal ending the revels all in a flash, as we scurried to our seats, still flushed and laughing, to compose ourselves for a more seemly welcome. In addition to the promised gifts, we had formed hopes of getting some marvellous sweets, for Mr Earnshaw never went to town without bringing us back a few small indulgences of that kind, and, with childish logic, we thought that this much longer trip, to a much larger town, would yield treats proportionately more magnificent. But even our more reasonable expectations were disappointed, when the master appeared with nothing more to offer than that queer, filthy little child who would be named Heathcliff. Hindley could not forbear weeping when his father drew forth the shards of the broken kit, and Cathy wailed outright when her fathers assiduous searching and patting of pockets yielded only the news that her whip was lost. All this was but a poor recommendation of young Heathcliff to our affections, as you may imagine, and it was not helped by the masters too-evident disgust that his children should weigh the loss of mere trifling toys, as he put it, above the salvation of a human being. But the mistresss dismay at the new arrival was hardly less than their own, and as might have been expected, they all fed off each others: the children taking umbrage on their mothers behalf, and the mistress on the childrens and all of them directing their anger first and foremost at the child, as being a safer object for it than their lord and master. As for me, of course I never tasted my apples yet I was thrust out of the garden all the same. I have told you how I left the child out on the landing, that night, after being told to put him to bed, and how, upon the master discovering it, I was sent away in disgrace. I made light of it to you, but to my childish mind at the time it really seemed hardly less of a catastrophe than the expulsion of our first parents and no less permanent. He had thundered at me in the manner of an Old Testament prophet, concluding with the terrible words, Leave this house, Ellen Dean, and never return. Well, I stumbled out of there, I dont know how, and set out towards home. For the first half-mile I could scarcely walk for grief, so finally I set myself down in a small hollow and gave over entirely to sobbing. I had rarely seen Mr Earnshaw so angry, and never so with me, and it seemed a terrible thing to have lost his good opinion, as I thought, for ever. But when I had exhausted the first burst of grief, the chill wind sent me on my way again. Then walking warmed and woke me, and my mind began to dwell more on what lay before me than on what was behind. My reflections were not comfortable ones. I knew that it was at my mothers wish that I remained at the Heights, and I couldnt think that she would be pleased to see me cast out of there by my own fault. As for my father, on the rare occasions that I saw him he could scarcely look at me without raising his hand to strike me. Terrified of him as I was, I didnt like to think of what he might do if he thought Id given him good cause for displeasure. However, the more I dawdled on the way, the less chance I had of making it home before he returned from work, and I preferred to encounter my mothers anger alone first, reasoning that it would be the less dangerous of the two, and further, that once she had got over the worst of it herself she would be likelier to take my part in defence against my father, should that prove necessary. So I mended my pace, and began thinking how I might present myself in the best light to my mother. After all, I said to myself, what have I done but what the whole family (the master excepted) wished me to do? Am I not bound to do as Im bid by them, and did not Hindley and Cathy refuse to have the child in the nursery with them? The master, weary from his journey, was in bed already, and the mistress was going on at a great pace herself about how she couldnt think what Mr Earnshaw thought he was about, bringing such a creature into the family, when who knows what nasty habits the child will have picked up in the street most likely hed steal all the valuables in the house, or maybe murder us all in our beds! (Ill murder him first! was Hindleys reply) so what was I to do? With such reflections, I had worked myself, by the time I came within sight of my parents cottage, into feeling rather aggrieved at my expulsion than otherwise, and I almost looked forward to telling my wrongs to my mother until the sight of her in the flesh, standing in the doorway and looking more worried than pleased to see me, drove all my fine words from my head. Nelly! Whatever brings you here at this time? Has something happened at the Heights? Are they all well? I managed to stumble out a reassurance on this point, before sobs overtook me. I have been sent away, I wailed, never to return, because I did wrong by the orphan boy, and would have brought Gods curse down on the house by turning him from the door. My reception was not at all what I expected. Instead of being angry at me, or sympathizing with my sorrow, she began cross-questioning me about matters that had little to do with what was uppermost in my mind, which was the fault Id committed and the punishment I was to bear for it. What orphan boy was this? The one the master brought home from Liverpool yesterday. Liverpool! When did he go there? I saw him in church only last Sunday. Aye, he left just after dinner Sunday. Travelling of a Sunday! Thats unlike him. And he must have half-killed his horse, to go there and back in this time. Or did he take the coach from Gimmerton? Neither one. He walked all the way, and its his feet that were half killed, as I saw myself when I brought him a basin and towel to wash them. All swollen they were, and rubbed raw and bleeding in many places. It is not wrong to walk on a Sunday, is it? I added, a bit concerned about this point. How could it be, when we all walk to church and back? To be sure not though if hed waited until Monday he could still have got there quicker by coach. Very strange that he should walk all that way. And why should he go at all? He said he had business there. What business could he possibly have in Liverpool? Probably something about the wool, I should think. No, he deals with a wool stapler in Gimmerton, and any business he had further afield than that would be handled by his solicitor. Well Im sure I dont know, I said, beginning, perversely enough, to feel rather slighted by her focus on Mr Earnshaws doings. He doesnt tell me his business. But I dont know why hed make such a journey if he didnt need to. No And you say he picked up the child there? How did he come by it? He said he found it in the street, half-starved, and no one to take charge of it. And so he brought it all that way home? And on foot too? Strange. Well, he couldnt leave him there to die, could he? I said, now feeling rather defensive on Mr Earnshaws part. Are we not bid to care for orphans and widows? We are. But we neednt walk sixty miles to Liverpool to find them, when theres misery enough within a days walk to keep the charity of ten Earnshaws occupied. But he was there anyway, on business, I reminded her, and he found the child there, and no one would own it, and he couldnt leave it to starve, and so Aye. So you said. What does the child look like? Dark all over. Partly from dirt, I guess I dont think he had ever been bathed before. But his skin was dark even after bathing. How old? Two or three years by size, but he seems older by his manner. Can he not speak for himself? Only some queer gibberish. Nothing we can understand. Stranger and stranger! How does he act towards Mr Earnshaw? Does he seem to know him? He looks to him all the time, and seems less frightened of him than of the rest of us, I said choosing not to mention that this was no doubt because Hindley and Cathy pinched him whenever they could, and I made faces at him, while even Mrs Earnshaw made no secret of her dislike. But he doesnt seem to understand him any better than the rest of us. Hmm. She sank into a chair, looking puzzled. Like most children, I was accustomed to take what my elders told me as simple truth, never thinking to question it except insofar as it directly concerned myself. Little as I liked the strange new creature, and sorry as I was for the trouble he had brought on my head, it had never occurred to me that there was anything unaccountable in Mr Earnshaws having brought him home. That he was a good, wise, and just man I firmly believed. If he thought it his duty to claim a stray child in a far-off city as his responsibility, no doubt it was so. But this did not appear to be my mothers view of the case. How does he act towards the child? Is he very fond of it? He seems so. He fires up if anyone seems to be slighting him in any way. He was very angry when he found Id I stopped, unable to speak further. What did you do, Nelly? Nothing! I cried, all my sense of grievance returning. Hindley and Cathy wouldnt have him in the nursery, and Mrs Earnshaw was in hysterics that he was in the house at all, and it was left to me to find him a place to sleep, so where was I to put him? What else was I to do? Take him into my own bed? I just left him on the landing, and hoped hed be gone by morning. Hush, Nelly. Calm yourself and stop shouting. Did you tell Mr Earnshaw this? No. I dont like to carry tales, and And what? I didnt want Hindley to be beaten, as I knew he would be. Is Hindley beaten often? I dont know. Not so very often. Its just that What? Just I dont like to see it. Mr Earnshaw is so angry when he does it. His face gets purple. And Hindley, he I I took a deep breath, and looked at the ground. I feel as if its happening to me. Does Mr Earnshaw ever beat you? No. If Hindley and I get into mischief, it is always Hindley who gets the blame he takes the blame. And I never do wrong on my own. At least not until now. So how could I bring him into it? What did Mr Earnshaw do when he found out what youd done with the child? He was so angry it frightened me. He said he said I must leave and never come again. But I would rather he had beaten me, if only I could stay. What will Hindley do without me? Hell have no friend at all. And what will become of me? You may think it strange, Mr Lockwood, that a child of fourteen could ask such a question of her mother, and under her fathers roof. But I was mortally afraid of my father, and my mothers care in keeping me from the sight of him, by making him unfamiliar to me, only increased my terror. No doubt it was wrong of me, but I verily believed he might kill me if he had to see me every day. My mother sat me down in the kitchen, and shortly produced a mug of tea and some bread and butter. All the while, she was speaking to me in her gentlest tones. Hindley is a difficult lad, she said, and has been so from a babe. Mr Earnshaw doesnt wish to spare the rod and spoil him, and doubtless he is right in that, although well, it may be difficult for you to see it. Mr Earnshaw may be a hard man, Nelly, but he is a just man. If his anger has not fallen on you before today, it is because he has cause to believe Hindley is at the root of any mischief you two get into together. And that is so, is it not? Did you not say you never do wrong except with him until now, anyway? I nodded silently, looking steadily into my mug of tea. It is generous in Hindley to take all the blame to himself, she went on. It shows a good heart. But it means you have all the more duty to head him away from wrongdoing when you are with him, Nelly. That is the best way to shield him from punishment. But how am I to do that if I am never to return? I wailed. Leave that to me, she said, and began removing her apron and wrapping her shawl, preparatory to going out. I rose and was beginning to do the same, but she stopped me. You stay here, Nelly. I am going to the Heights, and I will see what I can do to allow you to return there, but I must go alone. I glanced towards the door, not liking to say what was in my mind. In all likelihood I will be back before your father returns. But if Im not She began looking about the cottage perhaps for a likely hiding place, I thought, though the rooms were too small and sparsely furnished to afford one. At last, with an air of decision, she reached down the crock of sugar, and, feeling her way to the bottom of it, pulled out a small purse, from which she drew two shillings, and put them on the table. Tell him youve brought him your wages, she said. My eyes widened at this. The teaching at Wuthering Heights was strong on the Commandments, and lying to my father, I thought, would be breaking two at one blow. She must have guessed my thought, for she flushed and added, You neednt say an untruth indeed I wouldnt wish you to. Leave the coins on the table, and only say Im getting wages now that should be true enough by the time youve said it, if my errand goes well. She thought a bit more, then added, If he asks if thats all your wages, just say Ive given you all I got thats true too. The money will soften your welcome, and with any luck hell go off with it to town straight away, and wont return until youre abed but most likely Ill be back before he comes in anyway, as I said. No doubt this was a good plan, and with luck might have worked well enough, but I had no intention of staying to find that out. As soon as my mother was out of sight behind a rise I got up myself and followed her, keeping well back and behind such cover as I could find. When we got nearer the Heights, this was easy enough, for Hindley and I had learned every dip and hollow all around, and prided ourselves on being able to disappear from view at a moments notice particularly when chores or lessons were in the offing. I had expected that my mother would go straight to Mrs Earnshaw, her old friend and staunchest ally in the household, so I was surprised to see her seek out the master instead, and in a manner that told me she had no wish to be spotted by the mistress first. This puzzled me, until I reflected that her wish to get home before my fathers return meant she must dispatch her business quickly, and that it was the master, after all, who had banned me from the house, and must be won over to agree to my return. Mr Earnshaw had carved out an office for himself from the corner of the nearer barn little more than a closet, really, but lit with a small window, and furnished with a desk, a couple of chairs, and a brazier for hot coals in winter. Here he kept his account books, and met with his tenants and any others with whom he had business that he did not wish to intrude on the house, where the mistress held sway. I was not near enough to hear what was said when my mother found Mr Earnshaw in another barn examining a lame horse, but the consequence of it was that they both went into the office and closed the door. Under the office window was a large and fiercely prickly gooseberry bush, placed there, no doubt, so as to discourage eavesdroppers. But years before, Hindley and I had amused ourselves one lazy afternoon by constructing a secret passageway, low to the ground between the bush and the wall. We had carefully lined it with willow twigs and grasses, to allow us to squeeze through without being snagged on the prickles, into a space carved out of the centre of the bush, scarcely large enough for the two of us to huddle in together, but perfectly situated to render audible anything that was said in the office. We never overheard anything of real interest to us there, but, by christening our little hideaway the robbers cave, and performing the like transformation on whatever we heard there as, turning shillings into pounds, and pounds into bags of gold, or taking milk as code for brandy, sultanas for pearls and rubies, and a ewe lamb for an Arabian mare of priceless bloodlines, we contrived to imagine ourselves as a pair of hardened bandits with prices on our heads, ruthlessly planning the violent diversion of all this precious cargo. It had been a few years since Hindley and I had last pushed our way under the gooseberry bush together, having outgrown its accommodation for the two of us, but the passage was still there, only a little dilapidated with time, and when I had squeezed myself along it into the old cave, I found it cramped but adequate for myself alone. I carefully settled down to listen. So you have thrown Nelly out of the house, began my mother, with a directness that rather startled me. By her own fault, he responded quickly, and told again what she had already had from me, much dwelling on the bad heart shown in my cruelty to an unfriended orphan, so that I was like to begin sobbing all over again, but that my fear of discovery was more powerful than my grief. She did wrong there, to be sure. But she had seen the child bring sorrow and strife into the house the mistress distraught and angry, and her nursery-mates dismayed, and it was that more than cruelty that made her act as she did. Whatever possessed you to bring the child home in the first place? I found him starving in the street in Liverpool, and no one to claim him or care for him. Aye, and could have found two or three more on every corner there, if what I hear is true. Not to mention the poor of our own parish, whom it would better become you to aid than a stranger from far away particularly as some of them are your own tenants. It is not for you to dictate to me how or to whom I extend charity, Mrs Dean. That is between me and my conscience. Very well then. What was the business that brought you to Liverpool? That too is between me and my conscience. Ah. Its as I thought then the business and the boy are one and the same. I dont know quite what you mean to imply. I can assure you that the boy was unknown to me before I went, nor do I know any more of his parentage or circumstances than I have told already. There was a short pause. But I will not deny to you that I had some such purpose in making this journey. And I trust that knowing this will make plainer to you the importance of treating this poor child with consideration. I would more willingly grant that if you had not made him the occasion for thrusting my own child from your hearth. Your child has a home, to which it is perhaps time she returned. She should come under her own fathers discipline. Her fathers discipline was like to have killed her! For pitys sake, Mr Earnshaw, do you not remember the condition she was in when I brought her here? Her arm broken, her eye blacked, and all over bruises? If he could treat her so as a child of four, what will he do now? Nelly is old enough now to avoid giving offence. Do you think he will wait for her to give offence? Her very existence gives offence to him! I have seen him with her, sir, as you have not. She has but to walk into the room for him to be lit up with rage. He will take offence at the way she stands, or walks, or sits in a chair. I had hoped it would be better when our son was born, but though he doted on the lad, it did little to soften him towards Nell. And since he died, she paused to regain her voice, it is as if all his grief were changed into anger at her. You would have thought she had had a hand in his death, to hear him. And this, even though I had made sure she was away from home during the whole of the poor childs illness though it was a bitter sorrow to her that she was unable to say farewell. You ought not to complain of your husband to me, said the master, but his voice had softened. I dont wish to. I have made my bed, and I will lie in it. But you must forgive a mothers concern for the welfare of her child. Mr Earnshaw, please think of what this means for her. Do you think I am happy to have her so far from me, or to let her believe, as I know she does, that I bear her too little love to care much for her company? Do you think I like to see her loving your wife with the love she might have given me? For pitys sake, sir, give her back the refuge here that you promised me for her ten years ago in this very room. Far be it from me to hinder your fulfilment of any vow you may have made with regard to this strange child, but bethink you, sir: can an act of penance be acceptable to the Lord if its burden falls heavier on others than on the penitent? That were like offering as sacrifice a ram taken from another mans flock. A long silence followed this speech. When the master finally spoke, it was in a voice so low I could scarcely follow it. There is something in what you say, Mrs Dean. I have perhaps been overly hasty in sending your daughter away. But neither can I simply remit her punishment. It must be clear, not only to her but to the whole household, that this child must be treated with all the consideration due to my own son. And is my but whatever my mother had been about to say, she thought better of it. I heard her draw a deep breath, such as I had sometimes seen her do to calm herself when angry, and when she spoke her voice was steady. Banish her for a day or two if you must, she said. I can keep her so long at least without too much difficulty. And when she returns, let her return on the footing of a servant the change will seem to her and your children to mark your displeasure clearly enough. And I do think it best, with this new child in the house, for her to understand her own place more clearly. She has been playmate to your children and a sharer in their lessons longer already than a girl of her her birth and prospects can expect. In addition, she added more hesitantly, her father expects her to be earning, but I dont want her going into the mills: that work is bad for girls both for their bodily health and their character. Mr Earnshaw concurred. I have heard that Martha Pickerell will be leaving you soon to be married. Nell can take her place. You need pay her no more than is customary for girls her age who are new to service a shilling a week to start with, which is a good deal less than Martha earns now and shes a quick-witted lass and a hard worker I was pleased to hear a grunt of assent here from the master so you will not lose anything by it. I have been teaching her the dairying on my days here already, and Ive no doubt that in time she will be able to manage that too, and more than repay you for all your kindness to her. To my astonishment, the master let out a grim chuckle. If she takes after you at all, Mary, Ive no doubt she will manage us all quite nicely. Oh yes, I have managed very well for myself, have I not? my mother replied bitterly. This produced another awkward silence. Very well then, he said at last, Nelly shall come back with us, say after church on Sunday, and on the terms you suggest. Relief flooded me (making its exit in a gush of silent tears), not only that I might come back, but that, as it seemed, Mr Earnshaws goodwill and good humour were restored for much as I longed to return to the Heights, I had rather dreaded living henceforth under his displeasure. I would have expected that my mother, having gained her point, would head homeward forthwith, so I was surprised to hear her broaching a new subject: And this new child, what place will he have? I shall raise him as one of my own. Do you think that is wise? Will you be giving him a sons portion? What will that mean for Hindley? If Hindley cannot welcome the lad as a brother, so much the worse for him. He must do as he is bid while I am still master in this house. He is your son. Aye, and his mothers. From whom he gets a loving heart and a merry spirit, if they be not trampled down by harsh treatment. Mrs Dean, I have listened to you on the subject of your daughter, and I have responded not ungenerously, I think, to your plea on her behalf. But I will not be dictated to by you about the way I raise my own children. I trust that is understood? Forgive me, sir. I still have something of a mothers feeling for my old nursling, and I couldnt wish to see him slighted for a child who has no prior claims on your heart. But I had no wish to give offence. You must do as you think best, of course. And I thank you heartily for what you have done for Nell. With this I heard sounds suggestive of my mother wrapping her shawl again in preparation for leaving. Will you not stop in to visit with my wife? She would be grieved to hear that youd come and gone without seeing her. Perhaps it would be best not to mention it, then. Not possible, Im afraid the children will have brought her word already. Do go in and see her and while you are there you can tell her of my decision about Nell. She will be glad of it I know she has been sorely grieved by all this. The master spoke with some embarrassment here. I guessed what I later learned was true that he had had hard words from the mistress over the new child and my expulsion, and he did not feel it would be conducive to his dignity or authority as master of the house to confess directly to suspending my punishment so soon. You are also best able to explain to her about Nellys new duties, he added, which of course it will be her task to oversee. Very well then, I will just stop in briefly to speak to her. While you are there, please tell her that I will be up in the high pasture this afternoon, so she should not expect me to dinner. With that they went their separate ways, my mother heading into the house, and the master taking off with his brisk, long strides towards the heights behind the house which, fortunately, lay in another direction than my own way. No sooner had they disappeared from view than I began extracting myself from my hiding place. This proved awkward, for my entrance had dislodged much of the wickerwork lining the passageway, and I was hard-pressed to make progress while detaching the snagged prickles that threatened to tear my clothes. My dress made it out unscathed, but my arms and face were not so lucky a fact that I realized would require some explanation when I saw my mother again, as I was supposed to have been sitting quietly at home all the while. No sooner did I emerge than Hindley pounced on me with a shout. Nell, Im so glad youre back. It would be too much to have that filthy little horror foisted upon us and lose you too all at one blow. But what in Heaven have you been doing? You look like the cats been at you. Hush, Hindley keep your voice low and come around the corner behind this wall Im not supposed to be here now. I had to scurry roundabout to get here without Mother spotting me, and I took a tumble into some brambles on the way. I didnt think it wise to mention my eavesdropping, as Hindley would insist on hearing everything that had been said, and I knew from long experience that his discretion was not to be relied on. Is your mother here now? Shes stepped in to see the mistress, I believe to see about my coming back. Well, lets hear them, then. Come over here beneath the window, and Ill lift you up. Better I should lift you youre smaller than I am. Nonsense! Im older, and anyway youre only a girl. In fact, I was the elder, though only by a few months, but from the time he could talk Hindley had always insisted it was he, and if anyone asked his age would always proudly claim his full years while subtracting one from mine, as in I am four, and Nelly is three. At the time, this had been terribly galling to my childish dignity, but my mother would not let me contradict him. As she said, it only made folk think me forward for my age, which was no harm to me. By this time, I had grown so used to Hindleys claim to be my elder that I all but forgot that it wasnt so. So I let him grasp me about the knees and heave me up, but he staggered about so that I begged him to put me down. Hindley, please lets switch places, I said. If your face is spotted at the window youll get only a scolding from your mother, but I shall be in a peck of trouble with my mother and the master both if Im caught. And anyway, I added cannily, you are better at gripping the sill than I am, which takes off a good deal of the weight. So Hindley allowed me to lift him up, and overheard just enough to announce to me with great importance the news I had already gleaned from my nest in the gooseberry bush. Youre to come back after church next Sunday, he said, but youre to be a servant now, Nell, and youll get a shilling a week! I wish I was a servant no lessons to do, and more pocket money than I shall ever see. But youll share with me, wont you, Nell? All my wages will go to my father, I said, and if I get no lessons, therell be no play either: I shall have to work all day, so you neednt be jealous. But hush now I want to hear what else is said. I lowered him to the ground, for in truth the conversation was perfectly audible from there, and easier to follow without Hindley relaying his own versions from above. I am so glad we are to have Nelly back with us, Mary, the mistress was saying. I was sorely grieved that she should be sent away on so slight a fault. But I do verily think my husband has gone mad! How could he bring this creature here all the way from Liverpool, and then turn on our own children so? And its worse than that hes named the child Heathcliff, after our firstborn! It is cruel of him, dont you think? Positively cruel to bring that name before me every day! She began sobbing bitterly. Hindleys eyes filled with tears too. The little beast! he hissed. I shall make him pay for this just watch me. Poor Hindley never could bear to see his mother cry (though it was a common enough occurrence), and generally contrived to get angry at someone else, to cover his own grief for her. In this case, I saw that the new child would bear the brunt of the anger Hindley dared not show towards his father. To be honest, I was not inclined to take the new childs part either, for I still felt aggrieved myself that he had pushed me, as I saw it, from my place with the children at the Heights. From the window came the familiar sounds of my mother soothing and cheering her old friend, as the mistresss sobs gradually subsided into sighs. You mustnt take it so, Helen, my mother was saying. It was a good deed, surely, to rescue the poor child from starvation or worse on the streets, and now that he is here it will be your duty to bring him up to be a credit to the family. Probably Mr Earnshaw thought that giving the boy the name of your firstborn would help you to feel a mothers affection for him. I am sure he meant you no harm by it. You know you have been sad not to be able to have more children about you, and now here is another little one come to you as if by magic, like the return of your lost child. And that Nelly is coming back as a servant need not grieve you either it only means shell be spending her days helping you instead of scampering over the moors with Hindley. Really, shell be more like a daughter to you than ever. And I shall have to come over here more often myself, at first, to help her learn her new duties. I wish you could be here always, Mary, said the mistress with a sigh. Those were the happiest years, when you were here, and I have never managed so well since you left. Why did you have to get married and go away? It was you who married first, Helen, long before me, said my mother gently. And if I had not married and had Nell, what would have become of Hindley? He would have died like all the rest, would he not? Those times seem happy to you now because you remember what you had then and have not now, but you forget that you didnt have your bairns then, and thought you never would, and that grieved you sorely. We never get all we want in this world. We must bear the trials God sends to us, and do our duty with a cheerful heart. Then, with special firmness, she added, And your duty now is to this child, to Heathcliff. Heathcliff, the mistress sighed. I suppose I must accustom myself to using it. It wont take long youll see, my mother replied, but I cannot stay longer, Helen. Ive left Nelly at home by herself, waiting to hear what is to become of her, and I should prefer to be back before Tom gets home, too. Send Nelly my love, then, and tell her how glad I shall be to have her back again, and she must not mind too much about the work, for I will be an easy mistress to her. Ill send your love to be sure, said my mother, but as to her work, Ill tell her nothing of the sort, and really, Helen, you will do her no favours by encouraging idleness, unless you have a fortune hidden somewhere you are planning to endow her with. Nelly will always have to earn her bread, like the rest of us, and the sooner she resigns herself to that, the happier she will be. I did not stay to hear more, for now I had to contrive to get home before my mother, and make it look as if Id never left. Hindley, I said, do you think you can manage to delay my mother a few minutes, so I can get well away before she sets out? Leave it to me, he said with a grin, delighted as always to have a hand in mischief of any kind. You know your mother can never resist an appeal from her old nursling. He took off for the door, while I took one of our more circuitous and well-hidden routes back towards my parents cottage. I soon saw that it would be hard to keep out of sight and ahead of my mother all the way (though stout, she was a brisk walker), and still arrive in time to compose myself and my story for her arrival, but I thought of something that would save me a good portion of my trip, and serve as excuse for my injuries as well. I brought myself around nigh and to one side of her, climbed up on a hummock, and waved, calling Mother, Mother! from a direction that was neither before nor behind her path. Nelly! What brings you here? I told you to stay at home. And what in Heaven have you done to yourself? she added, noticing the scratches on my arms and face. Im very sorry, Mother, but I just couldnt stay. I was I had There was no need to pretend my embarrassment. I didnt know what I should say if Father came in, and I grew anxious, so I ran out onto the moors and came to meet you, and then there were brambles in my way, and I got tangled in them. This was all true enough as far as it went, but I then bethought me that I ought to show some suspense about the result of her errand, and begged her to tell me if I would be permitted to return. Yes, Nelly, you are to go home with them after church on Sunday. But you shall be earning wages now, and must not go running off to the moors with the other children. And what am I to do until then? Will I stay here with you and Father? You will, for tonight anyway but dont fear, Nell, all will be well with him, youll see. Come with me now, and Ill tell you all about it. She told me, of course, a good deal less than all I had heard for myself, but I listened with as much interest as if it were all new to me. The events of that day had set me thinking about a number of things I had not given much thought to until then, and had made my mother an object of interest and curiosity to me in a way she had never been before. Dusk was approaching by the time we reached the cottage, but my father was not yet home. My mother hurried to build up the fire and set supper in motion. She was just looking at my scratches, and putting salve on the deeper ones, when we heard my fathers footsteps outside. She waved me into an inconspicuous corner, where I cowered, trying to quell my fear and be ready to compose my face into a smile when he should spot me. He came in without looking around, and sat down heavily in his chair by the fire. My mother quickly brought him a mug of tea and a large slice of bread and butter. He took these in either hand and leaned back with a sigh. How did the job go on? she asked solicitously. Did you finish it today? Noo, I did not. Its bigger nor I thought half the wall ill have to come down a the north side, and be done all anew. Id told the fellow at the start he munna think it war only a hole to be filled in, if the wall round it werent fit, and so it werent. But he took it with an ill grace, all the same. I asked for payment today, and he were right shy of givin it. Said as how hed pay when the job were done, but I were having none of that. Ive earned me wages, I said to him. Ye neednt fear that I wont finish the job Ive never left one unfinished yet, and Im not starting now. But Ive got t buy me bread and pay me rent same as the next man, and I dont see why I should be stinted because another mans wall is in worse shape than he thought. Nought a penny till the job is done, says ee. I know your ways, and if I pay you now, youll be drunk tomorrow, and my cows ill ve the cold wind on their backs another day. Can you believe that? Id aff a mind to swing my fist at him. And what are we to do without my wages tomorrow? Are we to have porridge for our Sunday dinner for the sake of your cows? I asked. Fie, Tom, my mother interjected, her voice drifting into broader Yorkshire than she ever employed at the Heights, when have I ever given you porridge for Sunday dinner? Therell be roast fowl and ale, and apple pasty, same as ever, whether you get your wages tomorrow or Saturday, or not till Monday. And theres money in the house now too look, Nellys come home, and shes earning wages now. Heres two shillings for you, and shes to have one every week. I took this as my cue to emerge from the corner, and I did my best to look cheerful and glad to see him. Hello, Father, I said, with a bit of a curtsey. Hoo, Father is it? Well, arent we the fine lady, he said, but he was hampered by the tea and bread in either hand from offering worse hostilities than this. Whisht, husband, my mother chided, is that any way to greet your daughter whos just brought you her first wages, like a good girl? What wages? I avent seen any yet. Shes afraid to come near ye, most likely. If you cant be friendly the first time youve seen her in six months, Ill just tell her to bring her wages elsewhere. Aw right then, he said, and, balancing his slice atop his mug, he extended a large, calloused hand to me in a reasonable imitation of friendship. I came forward, at my mothers encouraging nod, and put my small hand in his great one for a brief shake, before proffering the shillings. Eh, youre a good enough lass, he said, pulling me a foot or two closer and tousling my hair, at which I needed every ounce of self-control I had not to flinch. Then my mother motioned me to a stool at the other side of the fire, and handed me a mug and slice of my own before settling into the other chair herself. I had little appetite, but I was grateful for anything that would save me looking at or talking to my father, and so took to eating and drinking with a great show of earnestness, and we all sat munching in silence for some time. His supper finished, my father rose and headed for the door. Ill just step out to the Ox and Plough to meet a man about a job of work, he said. Aye, go then, said my mother, with as much good humour as if she believed him. When he was gone, she put an arm around me and heaved a sigh. Well done, Nelly, youre a good lass. Hell drink that off at the inn, and before hes back well have you tucked snug into bed up the ladder in the loft, where he never goes. And anyway, hes not one of those men who become more violent with drink quite the contrary, thank Heaven. It was a better end than I could have imagined to a day begun so badly, but for all that I could not help collapsing into her arms and sobbing as if my heart were broken. Why does he hate me so? I wailed rather to my own surprise, I must confess, since normally I did not think myself much concerned about what he thought of me, only provided I were out of reach of his fists. But, of all that had distressed me that day, this was the safest to express to my mother, and the likeliest to earn her sympathy, so perhaps that had something to do with it. My mother never had much patience for tears, but on this occasion she did no more than tighten her arms and ease me down beside her by the fire, rocking gently, until my sobs began to subside. He doesnt hate you, Nelly, she said at last. How could he? He doesnt know you at all. But he acts as if he does. He was not kind to you when you were just a little thing, and that sits heavy on his conscience now. Hes not a bad man, Nelly. I cant excuse how he has treated you, but I want you to know that in the main he is not a bad man. He has never laid a finger on me, nor done me any more wrong than to drink wages he ought to save. And then perhaps Ive taken too much care to keep you clear of him, so that he feels awkward with you, and acts rough to cover it. But you got off to a good start with him today, and perhaps these few days at home will prove a blessing in disguise, and make you better friends in future. I could see that she was convincing herself as she spoke, but I remembered too vividly her urgency in pleading with Mr Earnshaw for my return to the Heights to feel the same confidence in her assurances. Nor had she really answered my question. But why me? I persisted. He liked little Tommy well enough. Is it only because Im a girl? Or is it because I was because Im the eldest? She sighed heavily, and let silence gather for a time. When she finally spoke, it was with some reluctance: When a man marries beneath himself, Nell and let this be a lesson to you he raises his wife to his level. His friends and relations may wish he had looked higher, but that just puts the more responsibility on his wife to ensure that he never regrets his choice. But when a woman marries down, she brings shame on herself and no credit to her husband. She is thought less of for it, and he partakes in some measure of her shame. I did your father no service by marrying him. That my mother had married beneath her was not news to me it being a rather frequent subject of querulous commentary by Mrs Earnshaw but I was surprised to hear her own it so frankly, and it emboldened me to ask what I had never dared to ask before: Why did you marry him then? My mother flushed at this, and I could have pinched myself. I knew very well why they had married as did anyone else who had ever looked in the parish record to compare the date of their marriage with that of my birth. I mean, I stumbled, why him? I was over forty years old, Nelly, and I had never been a beauty, even in my youth. I had no fortune aside from some little savings out of my wages, nor any prospects of any, and no family remaining who could be of material assistance to a husband of mine. It is true that I had better birth and education than many in my situation, and some claim to family connection with the Earnshaws, but that would not be enough to tempt a man of any stature unless it were backed by more tangible attractions of person or property. Thomas Dean earned day wages by the work of his hands, and possessed but little book learning, true, but his skill was much in demand and well paid, and his character was generally respected. It was said, too, that he had been a most devoted son to his mother, who was but lately dead, and perhaps it was that made him look so kindly on a plain woman eight years his elder. At any rate, he smiled whenever he saw me, and made all manner of excuses to come by the Heights to visit, and in time well, I thought I could not do better, and might do a great deal worse. But why should you have wished to do anything I mean, to change your situation at all? I persisted. I had crossed into forbidden territory already, I felt, and thought I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, and ask all my questions at once. That is what Mrs Earnshaw cannot understand. She says you were already mistress of Wuthering Heights in all but name, because she was so often ill, and even that you had the best of it, for you got more in wages than she ever did in pin money. She ought not to say such things, my mother snapped, looking nettled. She forgets that I earned the household more than my wages and her pin money combined, selling the surplus butter and eggs that came out of my own good management of the dairy and poultry. Had I been mistress indeed that money would have been mine by right. Please dont be angry at her, I cried, stricken with guilt for having provoked her to lash out at the mistress, whom I loved dearly. Mrs Earnshaw never meant it seriously, Im sure it was only for a joke, and because she wishes you were still there, you know. Dont fret about it, Nelly, she said, softening. I am not really angry at her I know she meant no harm. She only means that I did the work of a mistress, and held some of a mistresss authority over the servants. And she was always sorry that she could not do those things herself, as she thought she ought to, so she envied me that. But she doesnt understand, because she hasnt felt it, how it is to have the work and cares and responsibilities of a mistress without she paused to find the right words without a mistresss honours, or privileges. I wanted a home of my own, even if it were a humble one, and children too, if that were still possible. I thought that I could give your father a better home than a woman of his own class could, and that would make up for any disparities in what we brought to our marriage. And so I have done, so far as material things go. When I saw that he was prone to drinking, I made sure that I could put food on the table and clothes on our backs and make up the rent on this cottage, by my own efforts, and I have managed it in such a way that there is scarcely ever money about that he could demand of me for his own uses. But his pride has suffered from it, I think. If he knew that his own comfort and mine depended on what he brought home, if he had to face an empty belly or the threat of eviction, perhaps he would not be so ready to drink all he earns, and the need of drink would not have grown on him as much as it has. And that is why I say that I did him no favour in marrying him. I had never before heard my mother speak so frankly about my father or her marriage. I was much struck by the regret in her voice, and I found myself thinking more kindly of my father than I had ever done before. In that state I was bundled off to bed in the loft, and it was not until I was almost asleep that I realized that she had never answered my first question. THREE (#u668a3636-e978-5a58-9aff-a064794d9e05) I awoke the next morning in considerable confusion, partly from the unfamiliar setting, though I soon recollected where I was, but more so because the morning was far advanced, and I was accustomed to being woken at dawn. I made haste down the ladder, expecting a scolding for my laziness, but my mother seemed cheerful enough. Good morning, little sleepyhead, she said with a smile. Your father is off to work long since, but I thought after all the excitement of yesterday it would be as well to let you sleep in for once well have you back in harness soon enough. Whereupon she placed before me a mug of tea and a freshly baked oatcake spread liberally with butter and jam a rare treat. And so it went on all day. My mother seemed inclined, most unusually, to be indulgent, and even make a fuss of me. She asked but little of me in the way of chores, so I found it easy to do more than she asked, and felt for the first time with her how pleasant it is to do labour that is offered in kindness and accepted with gratitude, instead of being demanded as a right. My father did get at least some of his wages that day or so we presumed, at any rate, from his not appearing at home until long after supper, and showing every sign that a good portion of his pay had been put to its usual use. I was already up in the loft again by the time he came in, but I was wide awake and peering over the edge of the ladder hole to watch him, counting on the darkness to hide me. Wheres Nelly? he asked, good-humouredly enough, and on being told that I was abed, bellowed, Nelly! wake up and come down from there, lass, and see what Ive brought ye. Seeing my mother nod encouragement, I obeyed, whereupon he pulled out from under his jacket a large and somewhat sodden parcel wrapped in paper. Look here, he said, placing it on the table and unwrapping it to show a sizeable joint of fresh pork, Braithwaite had just killed a pig, and he gev it me along wi half of my wages, an said he were sorry for what he said yesterday, and he hoped my Sunday dinner would be fine as ony mans. But I thought that as youd be gone back to the Heights before then, and as the wife here has already promised me roast fowl on Sunday here he grinned at my mother, with a flirtatious twinkle that gave me a glimpse of what she had seen in him to marry him that wed ave it tomorrow instead. I had no need to force a smile with my thanks this time, and as for my mother, she pounced on the joint with delight and began exclaiming over its size and beauty. Eh, leave off, woman. Its only a bit o pork, after all. The fuss youre making, youd think Id brought home the Infant Jesus. I couldnt repress a laugh at this, it was so apt a description of my mothers rapturous attentions to the pink blob still half-swaddled in paper on the table, whereupon my father gave me a broad smile and a wink. My mother affected to be nettled by his teasing, but it was clear she was pleased. In short, we formed just then, however briefly, a plausible picture of a happy little family, and, as each of us knew how unlikely that was, we felt something like awe at its appearance, almost as if (I later thought) the humble joint of pork had been the Infant Jesus indeed, sent to bring peace and goodwill to us all. The next day was devoted to the feast. In addition to the roast, my father had the night before given my mother a handful of coins for any such fixins as ye avent got about the house. So early that morning, my mother and I walked into the little market town to do our shopping. Along the way, she practically skipped with pleasure, her delight in the occasion making her seem almost girlish despite her age and heavy form. Its grand to see how hes taken to you at last, isnt it, Nelly? Its just as I thought he only felt awkward because of the temper he showed you as a little child, but hes over that now and ready to be right fond of you. Its rare for him to bring home so much of his wages as he gave me last night, and I know he did that for your sake. To think you thought he hated you! I hope you dont think that now, do you? No, I suppose not, I said cautiously, but do you think it will last? I was thinking of how she had told me that he couldnt hate me because he didnt know me, and reflecting that this was scarcely less true of his affection now. And I was half afraid that in her enthusiasm she would decide against sending me back to the Heights. Glad as I was for my fathers newfound friendliness and it gladdened me more than I would ever have expected it would I had no wish to trade for it the only home I had ever known, and the companionship of the people I had learned to love as my own family. Well, we shall have to be careful not to try it too much, shant we? she answered, seeing my worries in my face. Youll go back to the Heights tomorrow, and from then hell see you only on your days off once a month, when youll be bringing him your wages for real. We reached town, and bought flour, sugar, raisins, and tea, and a few bottles of ale for my father. Then she made me stay looking at bonnets in a shop window while she paid a visit to a pastrycooks shop, whence she returned with a small bundle tied up in white string. The rest of the day was spent preparing such a feast as I had never seen apart from Christmas or Easter, even at the Heights. My mother was a tireless worker, but usually steady and methodical in her work. Yet today she seemed almost frantic, as if by the sheer energy of her preparations for this one meal she could shore up and make permanent the good relations that had suddenly blossomed among us. She scoured the cupboards and garden for extra delicacies, and wound up undertaking more dishes at once than her small hearth could accommodate. At length she was driven to the expedient of making up a small fire in the yard, over which she set a pot with a suet pudding to boil and a small turnspit with the roast, leaving me to attend to them both while she concentrated on more complex matters within. My father came home earlier than usual, having finished Braithwaites wall not long after noon, but evidently my mother had expected this, for by the time he arrived the only evidence of our labours was the rich array of dishes crowded onto the clean white cloth on the table, and her own rather flushed and worn appearance me she had already sent to wash and change into my Sunday best. My father seemed delighted by everything, and responded to my mothers apologies for her own disarray by sweeping her into his arms for a kiss, and declaring she looked younger than the day he married her. Then, to my great astonishment, he did the same by me, then looked me up and down and declared me the prettiest girl for ten mile around a patent falsehood, but I blushed with pleasure all the same. And for that, and because youre a working lass now, and comin on for a grown woman, Ive brought ye a bit of summat, wherewith he handed me a small package done up in blue paper. I opened it to find a pretty pink and green hair ribbon, of the sort travelling pedlars sell for a hapenny. It was a small thing enough, but so much more than I ever expected of him that I felt my throat closing and my eyes filling with tears as I tried to thank him. It was hard for me to believe that this was the same man for whom I had felt such terror all my life, and from whom I had heard my mother beg Mr Earnshaw to protect me, only two days before. Shes overcome, arent you, Nelly? my mother said hastily, apparently fearing a misinterpretation of my response. Such a lovely thing, isnt it? I nodded and smiled, but was still unable to speak. Overworn is more likely, said my father. You must have driven her hard to get all this made since this morning. Shes quite the slave-driver, isnt she? he added aside to me in a loud whisper, at which I laughed and nodded again. Come, lets all eat before the poor girl faints away altogether. And so we sat down together, to such a meal as I had never imagined eating in that house: my father jovial, and full of a gentle, teasing wit I had not known he possessed; my mother continually looking from one to the other of us, her face lit with joy; and myself, so lost in wonder at it all that I scarcely tasted the rich pork, the pudding, the apple sauce and buttered greens, or even the magical-looking little iced cakes, adorned with tiny candied flowers, that my mother produced with a flourish at the end. When we were done it was still early afternoon. My father pushed back his chair and sighed deeply with satisfaction, then looked about, as if in some puzzlement what to do next. Did you ever settle with that fellow about the job, the other night at the Ox and Plough? my mother asked innocently. Er, not entirely, my father replied, his face clearing, but hell be there tonight, I expect. Maybe Ill just drop by and see. And with that he was off. As we were clearing the things from the table, my mother turned the conversation to my new role at the Heights. So, Nelly, now you are to be a servant in earnest. How shall you feel about that, do you think? I shant like it, I said frankly, for Hindley and Cathy will get to play, the same as ever, only I wont be able to join them any more. And how will Hindley learn his lessons, if I am not there to help him? And I shant have lessons at all, so I will not learn anything more. I will become as ignorant as Martha, who can scarcely write her own name. You would have to forget a great deal of the lessons you have had already, to become as ignorant as that, my mother replied. And what is to stop you pursuing your lessons on your own? The books will still be there, and you are clever enough not to need help from a teacher, are you not? Indeed, you can still help Hindley with his lessons, and, in helping him, learn them yourself. But when will I be able to do that? The servants at the Heights are up before the family in the morning, and go to bed at the same time, and they work all the time in between. Oh, they will not be so hard on you as all that, just at first, said my mother. And as you take on more responsibilities, you will find yourself more mistress of your time than you imagine. In just a few years you can become the housekeeper there, as I was, and a housekeeper sets her own tasks, and directs the other servants at theirs. If she manages her work well, she can always make time for herself to read and study. My mother meant well, Im sure, but the more she talked, the more bleak and laborious my future looked to me. Could a housekeeper make time to roll down hills and play hide-and-seek on the moors? And by the time I became one, would I even remember how to do these things? I decided to change the subject. The new boy, Heathcliff, I asked her, is he to be a servant, too? My mother sighed heavily. I dont rightly know what they plan for him in future, but at present he is to be raised with the children, so you must think of him as one of the family, and treat him accordingly. This was no more than I had learned for myself already, but hearing it from her was too much for me. Why am I to be cast out, and he set up as my master? He is just some filthy boy off the streets, while I have been there almost from my birth, and I am Hindleys foster-sister besides, and his kin, too, on our mothers side! You dont need to tell me that, Nell, she said. But I have always told you that you were not to think of yourself as one of the family, and nothing Mr Earnshaw does for this boy changes that. He has his own reasons, no doubt, that you cannot understand. Well, but I wish Fie, Nell, do not make wishes. If you cannot pray for it or work for it, you may be sure it will do you no good to wish for it, and it may do ill. Come and sit here, and I will tell you a story about a wish, and the trouble it brought. And so she did, and I will tell it to you. But to do that, I must take a fresh sheet, and give it a proper title, and all. FOUR (#u668a3636-e978-5a58-9aff-a064794d9e05) The Hearts Wish You know that there are many stories about folk who help some magical creature say a little man caught in a tree, or a hunted beast who turns out to be a man in disguise and are granted three wishes in return? Well, once, not long ago, and near here, there was a man, a poor farmer on bad land, who was weary of breaking his back day after day, year after year, to put food in bellies that were never more than half full. Hearing these stories, he took it into his head that he must find a fairy or a goblin, and gain from it the wishes that would lift the burden of his laborious life, and allow him to live in ease and comfort. But he was not content to wait until he should stumble over such an opportunity, nor did he wish to waste his time and anger his neighbours by saving every hunted beast that came his way, in the hopes it might prove to be magical, so instead he resolved to catch one. Well, he gathered up every story of magical folk from all the country around, and sifted and sorted them in his mind, to determine what were their habits, where they might be found, and how he might get one into his power. Accordingly, he began leaving a cup of sweetened milk and a small plate of oatcakes (which he could ill spare) on the hearth at night, and in the morning he always found it gone. His wife derided him for his efforts. What a fool you are to waste good food and drink on idle fancies, when it might have gone into our own bellies! she said. It is sure to be rats who have eaten the food, and now they will be all over the house, looking for more. Nay, wife, he replied, but look at how the dishes are left: the cup scoured clean and placed neatly on the plate, and both shifted to the side of the hearth, to be out of the way. We have lured a Brownie into the house, just as I hoped. Well, his wife demurred, but he kept on feeding the Brownie, and soon even she was convinced of its existence, by the good effects it produced. For all at once their thin and sickly cow grew fatter and began giving more and richer milk, and when the time came for her to be bred, she gave birth to twin heifers, who both throve as much as if there had only been the one. The oats that year yielded twice the normal crop on the same ground as before; the cabbages in the garden grew larger than their own heads, and the carrots so long and thick and close together they could not be pulled from the ground, but had to be dug out with a spade (yet sweet-tasting withal), and all the other vegetables throve in the like manner. For once there was more than the family could eat themselves, so the wife took butter and vegetables to market, where their beauty and sweetness brought excellent prices. With the money, she bought a piglet and a flock of chickens, to be fed up on the excess of their produce, and these throve as well as the rest. Soon the farmer was able to improve and enlarge his tumbled-down cottage, and his children grew fat and strong, and were enabled to better their condition by attending the school in the village. As a consequence, they gained reputations with their neighbours as excellent farmers and managers, the more so as they were placed in such an unpromising location, so that they were treated with great respect, and their opinions sought on all sorts of questions, where before they had only been pitied for the poverty of their condition. Now, you might think the farmer would be happy with this, but he had not forgotten his hope of gaining three wishes that would allow him to live at ease for ever after. So the farmer conceived a plan to get the resident Brownie into his power, that he might compel it to grant him wishes. When he told his wife of this, she grew angry. How can you be such a fool! she said. Since the Brownie has taken up residence in our house, everything we touch has prospered. Our larder and storeroom are full; we have money for all our needs. Our neighbours think well of us, and our children are moving up in the world. If you seek to wring more from the Brownie than he has freely given us already, he may withdraw his favour from us, and cause us to lose all our prosperity. Rest content with what you have. When I first set out to bring the Brownie into the house, her husband replied, you called me a fool, too, and told me I was wasting scarce food on old tales that no sensible person believed. But you were wrong, and now we are the better for it. Now, when I seek for more you tell me again that I am a fool. Why should I listen to you? It is true that I did not wish you to waste food taken out of our own childrens bellies, and for good reason. If a man with a wife and family to provide for wishes to gamble his last penny for a fortune, surely it is his wifes duty to speak against it, and it is hardly foolish in her to do so even if he prove her wrong by winning a fortune indeed, as I cannot deny that you have done. But when you lured the Brownie into our house, it was in service of what any man has a right to wish: good reward for his labour, security against hard times, and a better life for his children. But now you seek to return cruelty for kindness, and betrayal for trust, and for what? That you may sit at ease, and have all done for you without any effort at all! Since Adam, all men must eat their bread by the sweat of their brow, and why should you be exempt? Whether it were foolish or wise to put out food that might have served only to fatten mice may be proved by the result, but in this you do wrong whether you succeed or not, and no good can come of it. Well, the man saw that his wife would not be swayed, so he said no more of it. But neither would he give over his plan. And so, working in secret, he constructed a cage out of the roots of a graveyard yew tree and long vines of bindweed, and wove into it watercress and rosemary to restrain magic. He made a floor for it too, of the same materials, but did not fasten it to the rest. Then he waited for the new moon, for he knew the powers of such creatures wax and wane with the moon. The day before he put his plan into execution, he coaxed his wife into going to visit her relations in town for a few days, and to take their children with her, so that she might not interfere. That evening, he suspended the main part of the cage above the hearth, artfully concealing it among the hams and strings of onions that hung from the rafters. He put the floor of it under the hearthrug just under the cage, then he set out on top of it a pork pie, iced cakes, and a tankard of strong ale for the Brownie finer victuals than he was used to receiving and set the trap to spring when the creature should lift up the heavy tankard. This done, he concealed himself in the pantry, keeping the door slightly ajar that he might peep out and watch the success of his plan. As soon as the clock struck midnight, the Brownie appeared. He was no larger than a toddling child, but wizened and dark, like meat thats been smoked over a slow fire, with wide yellow eyes like a cats. He appeared startled at the sight of the fine victuals laid out for him, but tossed the iced cakes into his broad mouth without hesitation, and then lifted the tankard for a draught of ale. No sooner had he done so than the trap was sprung: the cage fell down with a crash around the Brownie, and before he could gather his wits to lift it up again, the man sprang out from his hiding place and, flinging himself on top of the cage, bound the floor of it to the rest with more bindweed and cress. Then, lighting a candle from the smouldering fire, he inspected his catch. At first the Brownie scuttled about inside the cage, up and down and all around, testing every inch of it and chattering incomprehensibly to himself like an angry squirrel. But he found no flaw in the workmanship: the cage was tightly made, and the yew roots, which had grown from the flesh of the dead, proved too strong for the little Brownie, whose powers were bound up with living things like crops and beasts. When he discovered this, the creature hunched himself up in the far corner, hugged his bony knees to himself, and turning his cats eyes balefully on his captor, addressed him in a high, grating voice: Well, he said, this is a fine return you have made me for all my help to you. What is it you want from me: are your pigs not fat enough? Is the butter that comes in great lumps from the churning not sweet enough for your taste? What have you turned your hand to since I came here that has not thriven? And all I have asked in return is a small share of it left for me by the hearth. So what would you now? The farmer was somewhat abashed at this response, but he bethought him that, whatever he did now, he had surely lost the Brownies goodwill for ever, so if he did not want to sink back into his former penury, he had better demand his wishes, and gain wealth for himself all at once. He told the Brownie that he meant him no harm, and would release him as soon as he agreed to grant him three wishes. Ah, so thats what you are about, said the Brownie. You are a greedy fellow indeed, if all your comfort and prosperity has bred nothing better in you than a desire for what you have not. But what makes you think I can grant you any wishes at all? I am only a Brownie. If my magical abilities extended so far as that, do you think you could catch and hold me as you have done? Do not try to fool me, replied the farmer, I have heard enough stories of wishes granted by just such creatures as you that I have no doubt you could give me what I ask. If you refuse, I will just keep you in this cage, and make my fortune by selling you to a huckster at a fair. Please, no! the Brownie howled. The very touch of sunlight on my skin would burn like a red-hot coal on yours. Take pity on me, sir; remember all my kindness to you, and do not condemn me to such a fate! Whereupon the Brownie began weeping and rocking back and forth, his whole body trembling and his eyes wide with dread, but the farmer remained adamant in his demands. Very well, said the Brownie at last, with an ill grace, I will give you three wishes. But I tell you again: do not imagine that I am some Arabian genie who can conjure golden coaches and chests of gems from the ends of the earth. You must moderate your wishes, and not ask for more than could be found within three leagues of this place. Now, the farmer had hoped to wish for just such things as the Brownie mentioned, but he was well pleased to have gained his point at all, and immediately began running over the possibilities in his mind thinking of one mans landed estate, anothers bustling woollen mills, and still anothers thriving grocery trade, considering which would bring him the greatest wealth and eminence with the least effort. At last he made up his mind: For my first wish Wait, said the Brownie. You must take time to think of what you will wish for, and I must gather my powers to grant it, for I am sure it will be no small thing. Release me now, and I promise you that when the sun goes down on the next Sabbath, I will grant you your hearts wish. The same will I do on each of the two succeeding Sabbaths. But after that, you must make the best of what you have gained, for I will be your Brownie no more. How am I to be sure that you will keep your promise? asked the farmer. I have never betrayed anyones trust in me, the little man said, with a look and tone that clearly showed he thought the same could not be said for his captor. The same stories from which you gleaned the knowledge to lure me to your house and capture me will have taught you that our promises are sacred to us, and not a word of mine will I abate, I assure you. After the sun touches the horizon, and before it sinks altogether below it, stand on the hearthstone here and speak your desire. You will not see me, but I will hear you. By sunrise the next day, your hearts wish will be granted. Well, the farmer was obliged to be satisfied with this. He cut the cords that tied on the floor of the cage, and pulled on the rope to raise the trap. As soon as a gap appeared, the creature scuttled out through it, and disappeared like a wisp of smoke into the crack between the hearthstone and the floor. The next day, so full was the farmers mind of all the good things that were coming to him that he scarcely noticed when the dairymaid came to tell him that one of the cows had borne a dead calf, and another was showing signs of milk fever, or when a labourer came from the fields to say that a trio of wild moor ponies had jumped a stone wall and trampled a fine crop of young oats into the ground. But, as the day wore on, the evidence mounted that the Brownie had not only withdrawn his favour from the household, but called down bad luck upon them: all the poultry were found with their throats torn out by a weasel, and the pig escaped from its pen and ran squealing away over the moors as if it were being chased by a devil. The very coal in the hearth would not light properly, but only smouldered and filled the house with evil-smelling smoke. This rather shook the farmers good spirits he had grown so used to having everything belonging to him go as well as it possibly could do that he had come to think such success was natural to him, so it was painful to be reminded how fragile was the prosperity of his family. But, he reflected to himself, that only shows all the more how wise it was of me to seek for greater security. I shall wish first for a landed estate. Rich men need not fear a few strokes of bad luck their rents come in all the same, and it is the tenants who must tighten their belts to make up the sum, as I well remember. So he went about his work in good spirits, disregarding these ominous misfortunes with a cheerfulness that astonished and impressed the servants. When Sunday came, the farmer was far too preoccupied with imagining his coming prosperity to go to church, or even to say prayers at home. He thought of going for a long walk, just to pass the time, for the weather looked fair and sunny, and the heather was all in bloom, but no sooner did he step outside than a powerful wind came up and drew a pall of angry-looking thunderclouds over the whole sky. When he went inside, the sky cleared as quickly as it had clouded before, so out he went again, but the same thing happened. So he resigned himself to pacing about within the house, and thinking about his coming wish. I wonder how the Brownie will give me what I ask, he reflected. Will it materialize all around me during the night, or will I wake the next day to find it nearby, and only waiting for me to move in and take possession? It then occurred to him for the first time that in either case his neighbours would surely find it strange to have an entire hall appear where none had been before. It will do me little good to be made master of a fine estate if it makes folk think I have had dealings with the Devil, he thought; I must be careful to word my wish so as to avoid that result. At last the sun touched the horizon. Eagerly, the farmer stepped onto the hearthstone and said the words he had been rehearsing all day: I wish to be master of an estate just like Morton Hall, which is to come to me without the appearance of magic. Silence greeted this statement, and then suddenly a strong gust of wind blew down the chimney, sending smoke and ash into the farmers face, and forcing him to step back off the hearth and retreat to the far end of the house. If you meant to prevent my claiming my wish, Brownie, he called out, you moved too late. The wish is spoken, and now you must keep your word by granting it. The farmer had expected a sleepless night, but to his surprise he slept heavily and long, and did not awake until broad day. As he dressed, he looked about the room eagerly, but all seemed just as it had been the day before. The same proved true of the rest of the house. Then the farmer went out-of-doors to see if anything new might be spied, but all he saw was his wife and family at a distance in their pony and trap, returning from their visit, as planned. The farmer set out at a brisk pace to meet them, reasoning that he had best tell his wife of their great good fortune before she learned of the many small misfortunes that had fallen upon them since the Brownie had withdrawn his favour from them. But when he came near, it was his wife who rushed forward. Such news! Such news! she gasped. The most shocking thing has come to pass the whole town is talking of it such a terrible thing! What is it? asked the farmer, an ominous chill touching his heart. Why, just think, the whole family at Morton Hall, all killed at once! Killed! All of them! How can that be? It came about last night. They all sat down to supper shortly after dark, as usual, the parents and all eight children, but no sooner did they eat it than they were all rolling about in agonies on the floor. The doctor came, but all his labours were in vain: by morning every one of them was dead! It is thought that the food must have been poisoned, and the cook has been taken up on suspicion, though why she would do such a thing I cannot think, for she has a good position, and has been with the family most of her life, and what could she gain by their deaths? The will is to be read tomorrow, as soon as the solicitor can get here from York, and it is hoped that will cast some light on the matter. But why so pale, husband, and why do you tremble? It is a dreadful thing, to be sure, that there could be so much evil in the world, and so near by us. But it is nothing to us we are all safe and sound, thank God. But this was small comfort to the farmer, as he turned and walked silently homeward beside the pony and cart. Gone now was any plan of telling his wife about his success with the Brownie. For once, the farmer longed to disbelieve in his own magic. His wife, meanwhile, was clucking the pony forward into a trot, eager to get home and see how her flock, her dairy, and her garden had been getting on in her absence. The farmer lagged behind, preferring to let the servants be the ones to deliver the bad news, and the cries of dismay coming from the direction of the barn soon told him she was in full possession of it. Then his wife herself appeared, tears streaming down her face, for amid all the other losses was that of her favourite dairy cow, Belle, who had been with them since their poorer days, and was like one of the family, and she felt this death of a beloved beast more deeply than the deaths of all the strangers at Morton Hall. What evil has come upon us? she sobbed to her husband. It seems as if all the goodness has gone from the world at once children murdered in the bosom of their family in town, and here it seems as if all Nature is turned against us at once, my flock destroyed, and the garden trampled, and poor Belle Then, seeing her husband trembling like an aspen, she asked more pointedly, What do you know of this? Nothing, he stammered awkwardly. We have had more than our share of good luck these last few years, have we not? And now we have a little taste of the bad, to balance it, but we shall weather it all right we have food in the house, and money in the bank, and soon all will be to rights again, you will see. What of the Brownie? she asked. I thought our good fortune was his doing? I am a little afeared, said the farmer carefully, that the Brownie may have, eh, heard me speak of my plan to capture him, and so he has taken offence, bringing these punishments upon us. We must let him know how sorry we are, and leave out better vittles and drink than ever, and we will soon put all to rights, I am sure. Perhaps so, said his wife, but it seems hard that my own dairy and flock should be the ones to suffer, when he must know that I spoke against your plan, and I hope he will take that into account. She spoke this last rather loudly, as if hoping the Brownie might be in earshot even then. And as for you, you should take this lesson to heart, not to be wishing for wealth and idleness when you have prosperity enough already. I have indeed, said the farmer feelingly. He was already resolved that on the following Sunday he would ask the Brownie to reverse all he had done, and then forgo his last wish altogether which, with some tempting offerings each night, might perhaps appease the Brownie, and return him to his former complaisance. True, it seemed unlikely that the creatures powers would be great enough to bring the Mortons all back to life again if indeed he had had anything to do with their deaths but doubtless relatives would arrive to take possession in their place. As for himself, he thought, he would work with a good heart to the end of his days, with never a complaint, if but the burden of this horror could be lifted from his conscience. But this was not to be. The next morning, while the family were at breakfast, a strange young man on horseback cantered up to the door, and, with pardons for interrupting the family at their meal, introduced himself as a clerk to the Morton familys solicitor, with urgent business for the man of the house. The familys eyes widened, as the farmer, with a sinking heart, rose and went outside to speak to the clerk. There he was informed that the solicitor, in going over the papers in Mr Mortons study, had discovered a will of more recent date than the one he had prepared for his client. How recent? gasped the farmer, terror gripping him. Oh, some two or three years back, said the clerk, a little puzzled at this response, but the one my master prepared is older than that, so this newer one, which was prepared by a different solicitor, is the one that will be read this afternoon. And it seems that you are named in it, no doubt for some small bequest, so I am come to bid you be present at the reading. The farmer went in and told this news to his wife, doing his best to act as if it were the most natural thing in the world, while straining his mind to invent a plausible explanation. I never mentioned it to you at the time, he said, but some years ago I pulled young Master Morton from a bog in which he was stuck fast and sinking. It was a small enough service, but the lad had been badly frightened, and assured me I had saved his life. No doubt he told his father the same, and so Mr Morton has left me a little something in gratitude. You see our luck is turning again already, he added, forcing a smile. That is lucky, his wife said, and I only hope it is a sum of money you are left and not some useless trinket like a ring or a cane, for I shall have to buy a whole new flock at the next market day, and perhaps another cow as well, and we are pinched already, with all the trouble your foolish talk has brought upon us. The farmer was glad enough, after that, to escape into town to hear the will. So he found himself sitting alongside a parcel of Morton relations from a nearby town, whose genuine grief at the horrific end of all their esteemed relations at once mingled with anticipation of their own likely good fortune as a result of it. But the contents of the will astonished them all. The farmers father, it explained, had been the natural son of Mr Mortons grandfather by a serving maid, and was hence half-brother to this Mr Mortons father. This secret had been hushed up by the girls marriage to a poor local farmer, and the bastard child himself had grown up knowing nothing of his true parentage. But, on his deathbed, the old man had repented of his neglect, and charged his only grandson and heir with making some amends to the boys descendants, should they prove worthy. With eight children of his own to provide for, and the family honour to consider, Mr Morton had not seen fit to do anything in his own lifetime, but upon enquiring after the character of his unknown uncles only surviving son, and finding him to be prosperous and held in high respect locally despite poor beginnings, he did alter his will to provide him with a small bequest, and, in the unlikely event that none of his own numerous children survived to inherit, with the reversion of the whole estate, as being the only other living descendant of his grandfather. Great was the amazement that greeted this news, and even the farmer, who had dimly expected something along these lines, knew not what to make of it. After the reading, he hurried up to question the solicitor. Was the will really so old, he wanted to know, and how could they tell it was authentic? The authenticity of the will cannot be in doubt, said the solicitor. It was prepared by a different firm, but I well know the hand and seal of the late colleague who prepared it. Late? He died eighteen months ago, the solicitor replied. How can that be? the farmer stammered. How could the will have been there all those years, and no one know about it at all? And my father, all the time half-brother to Mr Morton can all this really be true? Please sit down, sir, said the solicitor kindly. I fear this shock has been too much for you the more so as it comes on the heels of this strange and sinister tragedy. Here, take a glass of brandy, and try to calm yourself a little. The solicitor then turned to attend to the disappointed relations, who were as wonderstruck as the farmer, but with whom the solicitor had rather less patience as they were not likely to become his clients, and bustled them out of the room. Thereupon he addressed himself respectfully to the farmer. Good sir, he said, it speaks well of your heart that you show such distress at news that most men would find cause for rejoicing, and that you are so solicitous to assure yourself of the justice of your claim to good fortune. Of course, none of us can know the truth about private events that took place before we were born, and the participants in which are all now deceased. But I have looked into the household and parish records, and they do corroborate what the will says your grandmother was indeed employed at Morton Hall until just before her marriage, and your fathers birth took place only six months after it. Did you know anything about this? Nothing, said the farmer, beginning to recover his wits a little. I knew that my grandmother had been in service before her marriage, but not where she never spoke of it. And I am sure my father never had any cause to doubt he was his fathers son. Well, I dont doubt you, the solicitor replied, and you may rest assured that no suspicion will attach to you in these strange deaths, for I can attest that nothing could be more genuine than the shock and distress you displayed when the will was read. I watched you closely, given the suspicious circumstances of the familys deaths, and saw that your face went suddenly ashen, and you began shaking like a leaf, when the revelation of your heritage was made. Expressions and manner may be feigned, as any lawyer knows, but the most thoroughgoing scoundrel could not counterfeit such a response. How and why the family came to be murdered, or whether it was only some horrible mishap, we have yet to learn, but you are innocent of any hand in it I would stake my life that you knew nothing of that will or its contents before it was read. I thank you, sir, said the farmer. The horror that had struck him when he first heard his wifes news was now beginning to abate, as it dawned on him that he might actually take possession of Morton Hall without losing the good opinion of his neighbours, or exciting any suspicions in the town, since even his own dismay at the news was taken as evidence of his innocence and good character. Furthermore, he thought to himself, it appears that I am in truth the near relation of the late Mr Morton for these are matters of record from many years ago, and surely no Brownies magic could extend to altering the past. So the farmer reasoned, and if he could but have felt assured that his wish had played no part in the deaths of all the family, he would have been happy to believe that the inheritance was no more than was due to his parentage and proven merit, but about that his heart misgave him a little. Even so, though, he thought, surely I myself am innocent of these deaths, for I would never have framed my wish in such terms if I had known what would be the result. The evil in this is the Brownies, not mine. But I have learned my lesson. I will rest content with what I have, and ask no more of the Brownie than I have already got. Gone now, however, was his plan of asking the Brownie to revoke the wish he had already made it would be better, he decided, to leave further wishing alone altogether, for however cautiously he framed his wish, might not the cunning Brownie find a way to turn it to evil? And it would certainly be pleasant to be master of Morton Hall. The solicitor wished him to remain at Morton Hall and send for his family to tell them the news offering to send his clerk again to carry the message but the farmer thought it best to inform his wife in greater privacy. But he did have one of Mr Mortons saddle horses readied, that he might ride home in comfort and style. As he walked the fine beast down the main street of the town he saw fingers pointing and heard on all sides the wondering murmurs in which the news of his inheritance spread. No one turned aside from him or cast looks of suspicion, and if there were a few of the better-born folk who showed a hint of scorn at his sudden elevation, there were many more who smiled, and bowed or curtseyed, already seeking favour with the new master at Morton Hall. All this lifted the farmers heart considerably. But it still remained to inform his wife of their change in fortunes. When he came within sight of the cottage, it was his wife this time who hurried down the road to greet him. So he has left you a horse! she exclaimed. Well, it looks like a very fine one. But we will have to sell it of course. These fancy saddle horses take a good deal of care and rich feeding, and we certainly could never hitch him to the plough. Still, it is a start on better times for us, I suppose and the more cheering that it results from your own good deed to that poor lad. The horse is the least of it, wife, the farmer replied, choosing to ignore her last remark. You cannot imagine what good fortune has befallen us. I am to inherit all of Morton Hall! And he went on to explain about the revelations in the will, hoping that news of their elevation to prosperity and position would do away all his wifes anger and grief. But his wifes suspicions were roused. She had had a day to discover the full scope of the Brownies revenge, and now she remembered too how strangely the farmer had first taken the news of the Mortons deaths. There is something you are not telling me, she said sharply, what is it? The farmer stammered out a denial, but his red face and frightened manner betrayed him. Do not attempt to hide anything from me, she added sternly, you know I always see through your disguises. The farmer saw then that nothing less than the truth would satisfy his wife, and so, with downcast face and heavy heart, he confessed to her all that he had done. But he stressed also the date of the will and the evidence of the long-ago parish records. It has all come about very strangely, he said, but it seems that I am indeed kin to the Mortons, and rightfully heir to their estate. As for their deaths, I wished no ill on them, nor did them any. If the Brownie has done this evil which may not even be so the sin is surely on his head, not mine. And I will make no more wishes, I am resolved. What sort of man are you? cried his wife. How can you doubt that their deaths are your doing, whether you meant it or not? How did you think you could get possession of an estate of the size of Morton Hall in this neighbourhood without any appearance of magic, unless you were to get Morton Hall itself? And how might that come about, but by disposing of the current inhabitants? Their deaths are on your head, and if we take this ill-gotten inheritance, they will be on mine too! Think of it first you betray that good little Brownie, who was the author of all our prosperity, and now ten people have died in agony, the youngest but five years old, to satisfy your greed and indolence oh, it is horrible, horrible! and his wife threw herself on the ground, sobbing in her grief and dismay. The farmer endeavoured to reason away her distress, but in vain. Her mind was clearer and her heart truer than the selfish farmers, and she continued to reproach him with the evil he had brought upon them all. No, she said, I will tell you what we must do. We must tell the whole tale to the vicar in the village, and take his advice on the matter. This suggestion filled the farmer with alarm. Convincing as he believed his own excuses to be, he had no wish to try their force on an educated clergyman. Who knew what conclusions he might come to? It was not so many years back that there had been trials for witchcraft in the area, tales of which still lingered in those hills, and for all he knew he might still be liable for prosecution. These points he urged on his wife, and, when he saw her resolve weaken a little, followed up with the plan he had formed earlier. Two wishes yet remain of those the Brownie promised me, he said. This Sunday evening I will ask him to undo all he can of my previous wish, and return us to our former condition, and I will forgo the last wish altogether. Then, when we have made what amends we can, we will try to go on as if none of this had happened at all. At first his wife would not hear of it. Look how much evil came of your first wish, she said. How can you know the second will not bring worse? We will guard against it in the wording of the wish, the farmer assured her, by telling him that no harm is to come to anyone in the fulfilment of it, just as I told him before that there was to be no appearance of magic. Reluctantly his wife agreed to this, only stipulating that she should determine precisely what he was to say, and that she might still go to the vicar if the results failed to satisfy her conscience. The farmer then sent word to Morton Hall that his family would take some time to settle their affairs locally before taking possession of the estate. That Saturday, the children were sent to relations in town, and the servants dismissed, that there might be no mishap or interruption when they called upon the Brownie the following evening. Now, when the farmer had suggested that they ask the Brownie to return them to their former condition, he had meant, of course, the condition of prosperity that the Brownie had first brought about on their poor farm. So he was dismayed to discover that his wife, in the sternness of her conscience, had resolved that they must renounce even that, and return to all the poverty of their early years. But he was desperate to silence his wifes bitter reproaches (which she still made continually), and above all, to prevent her from going to the vicar, and so he agreed to whatever she suggested. His wife was anxious that there should be no mistake in the wording of the wish, so she had the farmer repeat it to her again and again, to be certain he had got it correctly, and she resolved to be present at the crucial moment, to prompt or correct him should it be needed. When the sun began to sink towards the horizon on the appointed day, she stationed herself in the doorway to watch for the precise moment when it touched the earth, while the farmer paced in front of the hearth, muttering bitterly under his breath against his wifes stubbornness, which would reduce them all to the direst poverty. But when she signalled that the moment had come, he stepped forward onto the hearth, heart pounding, and repeated the form of words his wife had taught him, asking the Brownie to reverse all the magic he had ever done for them that could be reversed without causing harm to anyone. No sooner had he done so than he heard a loud shriek from his wife, and she fell to the ground. He ran to her, and found she was dead! But how can that be? I interrupted in some annoyance. The wish said clearly that no one was to be hurt! I disliked fairy stories with morals to them, and this one was shaping up to be of that objectionable variety. If you will but let me finish the story, Nell, you will find out. Now hush. When the farmer found his wife was dead, he cried out at once and reproached the Brownie for breaking his word see, Nell? To his surprise, the Brownie himself appeared on the hearth. I have kept my promise, he said. But I said that no one was to be harmed, and here is my own wife, dead! I told you to speak a wish, but I did not promise to grant the wish you spoke, the Brownie replied with a cruel smile. You spoke the wish of your mouth, but I gave you the wish of your heart. Then the farmer saw that he had been tricked, and that all the while he spoke the words his wife had taught him, he had longed in his heart for everything that she would deny him while she lived. Is my heart so evil then, that I could wish her death? he cried. Can you deny it? the Brownie replied. Then the farmer fell to his knees, sobbing. Alas, I see that it is so. But I will repent me now of my greed and my anger. I beg your pardon, Brownie, for my poor treatment of you. I will ask no more wishes from you, but will use all my remaining years to make amends for my sins, and pray to God to take away my heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh. Pray all you please, the Brownie replied, but I told you once that I would abate no word of my promise, and so I will not. When the sun goes down on the next Sabbath, whether you are dumb or whether you speak, whether you stand on the hearth or a thousand miles away, you will be granted the inmost wish of your heart. And with that he disappeared. The farmer called and called for him to return, and pleaded with the empty air to be freed from this final wish, which he now regarded with terror, but to no avail. Then the farmer, seeing that the Brownie would not help him, set about to examine his heart, and bring it into a better frame, that his hearts wish would not bring such horrors upon him as it had done hitherto. But, like many another man who has left repentance to the last, he found that the time was too short; through unchecked selfishness and greed, the evil of his heart had grown too great to be uprooted in the few days remaining before the wish was granted. As the sun began to sink on the Sabbath, he could not take his mind from the shame and degradation he would face if the neighbours discovered his secret, and he grew terrified, in his guilt and despair, that in some unsearched corner of his heart he might be wishing the annihilation of the whole neighbourhood around, as he had that of his wife. So he snatched up a knife from the table and, before the sun touched the horizon, plunged it into his heart. He was found thus the next morning, and pinned to his breast was a note in a queer, crabbed hand that read, He got his hearts wish. But how could the Brownie know the wish of his inmost heart, even a thousand miles off? I interrupted again. I thought only God could know that. And the Brownie said before that he could not fetch things by magic more than three leagues distant! Well, you are a sharp cross-questioner, Nelly, said my mother. There is no fooling you. I suppose the Brownie was not being strictly truthful there. No doubt he had heard the farmers mutterings against his wife, and made out the wish of his heart from that, and as for the rest, he counted on the farmers fear and dismay to cloud his thinking. A man haunted by a guilty conscience thinks everyone can see into his heart. But the tale is true enough, for all that, as is pretty widely known about here. The man was buried as a suicide, in an unmarked grave at a crossroads just the other side of Gimmerton. I have seen the place myself. When I was still a girl, there was a man going around the fairs who showed what he said was the bloodstained knife and the note, at a penny a look, and I begged my mother to let me see them, but she said he could have written the note and stained the dagger himself, and no one would be the wiser, and she would not waste so much as a farthing on such trumpery shows. But the tale itself she always averred to be quite true, to her own knowledge, and she never lied. Take it to heart, Nell, and do not get in the habit of imagining yourself entitled to more than you have earned by your own labours. Leave off making idle wishes. Wise advice, no doubt, to anyone who could follow it. As for me, she might as well have told me to leave off breathing. But the story has haunted me since, and in my darkest times I have wondered, was there something I did in my youth, some unfledged sparrow I returned to its nest, or a moth I freed from a spiders web, that made me the recipient, all unwitting, of some such sinister boon? How many things that my wayward heart has wished for have come true, yet in a manner crueller than their denial could ever be? That very night, I wished fervently that my father might be to me henceforth as he had been these last few days. And so he was, in the sense that I never saw him otherwise, for before I saw again, he was dead. FIVE (#u668a3636-e978-5a58-9aff-a064794d9e05) Now, why did I write that? I am sure I thought nothing of the kind at the time. Indeed that friendly visit had been a great relief to my conscience, in freeing me of many a guilty unbidden daydream in which my fathers death figured prominently. And though it might certainly be said that I wished for his love, it was a wish I both prayed for and intended to work for resolving to show him in future such a mixture of dutiful respect and easy affection as would assure him I had forgiven and forgotten the wrongs of the past. How could such a wish be wrong? It is true that my mothers story came in time to haunt me, but that was years later, after other, darker events, and less innocent wishes. And I am getting ahead of myself again. I had expected that I would see my father on my next months day off, but in the meantime, he was called away for a large job at some distance from our home. An old friend of his boyhood a lad as poor as himself, but with a genius for all things mechanical had risen in the world, and was now the owner of some prosperous mills outside Brassing, about thirty miles away from us. He had bought a good-sized piece of land, and was having built for himself a large manor house, and he took it into his head that none other than his old friend should oversee all the stonework, and at pay several times what my father could earn locally. My father wished to move there outright with my mother there would be work for at least a year or two just on the house, and he counted on getting more through the connection after. But my mother flatly refused to leave the neighbourhood so soon, not wishing to be gone so far from me while I was new to my duties, or to give up the small farm into which she had poured so much work over the years, without more certain prospects elsewhere. There were hard words between them about this, as I gathered from my mothers hints, but the result was that my father left alone, with the understanding that my mother would join him in a year or two if the situation proved as good as he thought. And so he passed from my life again, though on better terms than before, certainly. I wrote to him now and again, printing in large letters so that he could read them easily, and saying as little about the Earnshaws as possible, on my mothers instructions. When I returned to Wuthering Heights to take up my position as a maidservant, I found my new duties easier in some respects, and harder in others, than I had anticipated. Mrs Earnshaw kept to the intention she expressed to my mother, and was an easy, indulgent mistress. Had her commands been all I had to consider, I would have seen little difference in the tenor of my life at the Heights. She had no wish to banish me from the lessons she superintended with Hindley and Cathy, for in truth they were both more refractory pupils in my absence. Hindley could not keep his mind to a schoolroom task for five minutes together, and his mother quickly lost patience with him without me there to devise games or rhymes or riddles to keep him to his task, and make him learn his lessons in spite of himself. Cathy was much better, but she was motivated primarily by a desire to outshine Hindley, and when that became easier, her own progress slowed accordingly. So when it was time for lessons, Mrs Earnshaw would generally call me to suspend whatever I was doing and join them. And then, having included me in the labours of the schoolroom, she was too kind to deny me its holidays, too, so when Cathy and Hindley were released outside to run off the ill effects of two or three hours of sedentary application, I would be told to join them. But my mother put a stop to this arrangement, when she came to hear of it, and there were words between her and the mistress about it, too. These I did not manage to overhear, but I saw the signs of them clearly enough, in my mothers set face and the mistresss quiet tears after they had been shut up together. After that my mother made time to walk over to the Heights nearly every morning, to instruct me in household duties and set my tasks for the day. These tasks, she made clear to me, were to be performed faithfully, whatever the mistress might say to the contrary so that, in performing my new duties, I had to fight not only my own inclinations, but those of all around me. I did not take well to the change I could not see why, if Mrs Earnshaw thought it worth my wages to have my assistance in the schoolroom, I should be denied the benefit of being there, and by my own mother, too. After a week of the new arrangement, I finally made bold to put this to her. You are paid wages as a servant, Nelly, and have a duty to do the service you are paid for, even if Mrs Earnshaw is too kind to ask it of you. But you dont know what it is like for her, teaching Hindley and Cathy without me there, I protested. She can keep no order at all, and Hindley learns nothing without me there to help him. She said herself that it is little help to her to have me shelling peas in the kitchen while she is driven to distraction by the two of them she would rather shell them herself later, and have my assistance where it is most needed. And I want to keep learning. Yes, she told me that, too. She sighed and motioned me to sit down. This is hard for you, Nelly, I know. But there is not only Mrs Earnshaw to consider. The master permitted you to return on the footing of a servant, and it is he that pays your wages. He has been much occupied this week with moving the sheep to fresh pastures, but when that is done he will be looking into the household again, and there will be anger for all of us, the mistress not excluded, if he has reason to feel that we have connived in circumventing his commands. And he would have reason to feel that. You do see that Nell, do you not? I said nothing, but looked downward and felt my face flush. I knew she was right, but it was a bitter draught to swallow, for all that, and I should have preferred to put it off as long as I could. But that was never my mothers way: she preferred to face unpleasant duties head on, as she said. It was the hardest of all the lessons she taught me, but it was a good one, and has stood me in better stead than all the rest combined. So I bid farewell to the schoolroom, and took some comfort in the general grumbling at this change, without adding much to it myself. There was actually much to learn in my new sphere: I had to know all about the proper management of a dairy, from scouring and scalding the milk pans, to skimming and churning the cream, making up the butter, and straining curds to make cheese. I had to learn how to keep the fire in the kitchen hot enough for our daily needs without making it so hot that it burned the oatcakes and wasted the coal, and how to make the smooth, thick oat porridge we ate daily, without creating lumps from too much haste in adding the oats, or burning the bottom through too little stirring and a great many other things which it would bore you to hear, no doubt. In time, as my mother predicted, I came to take almost the same pride in my quickness and efficiency at these duties that I had in my book learning before, and I had the added comfort of knowing that these skills would allow me to earn a living anywhere which could not be said of my command of the principal rivers of Asia, or my familiarity with the longest words in Johnsons Dictionary. There were other changes in the schoolroom at this time besides that of my absence. Heathcliff too had been excluded from it at first, on the grounds that he was too young and could not speak our language but it was really because no one in the house wanted him there and so he fell to my charge. I soon found, though, that it was only that his accent was so queer we could not make out what he was saying, nor he us. He must have been a bright lad at base, because within a few weeks that had changed, and he and I could make shift to understand each other well enough. By that time the master was back, and he made it known that Heathcliff was to have his lessons with the other children. And so he was settled on a footstool in the far corner, and given Cathys old hornbook to begin learning his letters. At first, both Cathy and Hindley made faces at him and jeered at his ignorance, every chance they got. But Heathcliff took no notice of it, except to turn his back to them and hunch more tightly over his hornbook, and Cathy soon tired of this sport and began to take an interest in the lads progress. Her first kind words to him brought forth a grateful devotion: he began following her about like a puppy, and taking her commands with such joyful alacrity that it is no wonder she was soon won over to loving him. We have a saying that a four-wheeled cart is steady, and a two-wheeled cart is quick, but a three-wheeled cart is good for naught but landing in a ditch. Before Heathcliff came, Hindley and I were the two-wheeled cart, and Cathy was often left behind on our excursions, or excluded from our sports, on the grounds that she was too little to participate. Now, with Heathcliff arrived and me gone from the schoolroom, Cathy saw that the tables could be turned, and Hindley would be the third wheel. And so it fell out. The effect of all this on Hindleys behaviour was not good. He became, as I said, more refractory in the schoolroom, and often uncontrollable out if it, except by his father, who enforced obedience with fear rather than love. Even the mistress, who had always loved Hindley best despite all his waywardness or perhaps for it lost all patience with him, and took to reporting his more egregious misdeeds directly to the master, something she had never used to do before, as it invariably earned the boy a beating. Hindley had always been a difficult, wilful child, but he began now to exhibit signs of real maliciousness and ill temper. And his favourite object for these was the new boy in the household. Heathcliff learned early not to carry tales to the master or mistress, except in extreme cases. Not that they were not ready enough to credit his tale and punish Hindley accordingly, but the masters bitterness too often spilled over most unreasonably onto Cathy as well, which Heathcliff could not bear to see. Also, every flogging Hindley received on Heathcliffs behalf only lengthened the score of the formers vengeance, and heightened his violence when the next opportunity presented itself. Cathy, for her part, would fight like a wild cat to defend her favourite, or if that failed, scurry off with him to nurse his wounds with kisses and plot some petty revenge. I would remonstrate with Hindley, and if possible interfere between them, if only for Hindleys sake, but we would neither of us carry tales, partly from the old loyalty of the schoolroom, and more because we could see that it did more harm than good. Even old Joseph, though normally he liked nothing better than to get any of us into trouble with the master, disliked Heathcliff too much to take up his defence. And so it became a more or less constant game of cat-and-mouse between Heathcliff and Hindley. Hindley knew that, if he could catch Heathcliff out of sight and hearing of either of his parents and what was more difficult, away from Cathy as well he could do pretty near whatever he liked to the boy with impunity, only provided he restrained himself from producing conspicuous injuries. I saw it all with a heavy heart. Towards me, and me alone, had Hindley retained any of his old warmth and boyish sense of fun, and I felt I had still some good influence over him, but we had little time together any more. One day, about a month after Heathcliffs arrival, we contrived to go off for a whole day together. It was the first of my monthly holidays, but my father being away, and my mother still a regular visitor at the Heights, I was not expected at home. Hindley had just succeeded (with much secret assistance from me of an evening) in keeping the whole of some hundred lines of Shakespeare in his mind at once, in honour of which achievement he had been granted a days freedom from lessons. The day being sunny, we had resolved to go to Pennistone Crag for a picnic. Mrs Earnshaw made up a packet of oatcakes and cheese for us to take along, which Hindley put in an old sack and slung over his shoulder, and off we went. But the day was unseasonably hot, so we chose to stop instead at another favourite place about midway there, a little hollow graced by a burbling stream and a small waterfall that stayed always cool and refreshing even when the rest of the world was baking. It was a beautiful little grotto, naturally walled with stone, where the water ran in over flat slabs of bedrock and then dropped in little waterfalls through multiple pools of varying shapes and levels. The water was coloured orange by the iron-rich soil, which also drifted to the bottom and made the pools red. There was one in particular in which a narrow fall dropped straight into still water, causing it to roil up in red bubbles. We had always called this the pool of blood, and avoided touching its contents with as much superstitious horror as if it had been blood indeed. At another place, the sunlight somehow came through the water from the back, though there was only stone behind it, so that the little waterfall, no more than a hands-breadth across, danced with an orange glow like flames. We called it the the waternixies bonfire, and liked to imagine tiny fairy-like creatures dancing behind it. Once, Hindley put out his hand and caught up the waters flow, so we could see behind it and catch them at it as he said, but there was nothing but bare stone behind. Too quick for us, I said. We took off our shoes and sat on a rock to dangle our feet in the stream. Then Hindley scooped up some water in his hand to cool his face and neck, and I did the same. By chance, a bit of it splashed onto Hindley, and he responded by flinging some on me. Then I returned fire, and soon we were in full battle, chasing each other about, splashing and laughing until we both collapsed, sopping wet and exhausted, on the bank. In that state, we found the shaded hollow a little too cool, so we went back up into the sunlight, where we rolled about on the dry heather, and lay in the hot sun to dry our clothes. After a time, Hindley declared us toasted to perfection neither too hot, nor too cold and said it was time to eat, so we made our way back to where we had left our provisions. This is a bit like old times, is it not, Nelly? he said, as we sat ourselves on a patch of soft moss beside the stream. Better, I said, because these days are rarer for us now, and more precious accordingly. I was fond of wise sayings, then. No, not better, because even now I cant forget what I have to go home to, he replied bitterly. Then he burst out, What am I to do, Nelly? Everybody hates me now, except you. Well I had a dozen answers on the tip of my tongue, beginning with Leave Heathcliff alone. But for once I knew better than to offer them. I made no answer but to lean against him, and he was silent too, for so long that I peeked over to see if he had fallen asleep. But his eyes were open, and I saw a steady trickle of tears making a path down the side of his face. When he saw me looking at him, he made a savage grunt and turned away, ashamed to have been caught weeping. But by then Id caught the infection, and I was soon sobbing away myself, huddling myself against his back for comfort. And then he turned round, and we held each other until the worst of it passed. There was no need to speak. We both knew what we had lost. After a while I began to busy myself with our provisions: I spread my kerchief on the ground and started to empty the sack and arrange our meal on it. When that was done, we both ate, still silent, but not so grieved as we had been. When I am grown up and Wuthering Heights is mine, Hindley said at last, I shall marry you, Nelly. I shall send Heathcliff packing, and Joseph too, and then we will be happy all day long. I made no reply to his announcement, but blushed, and no doubt looked as awkward as I felt. When we were small children, Hindley and I had often talked of marrying when we grew up, as if it were a matter of course. We had even gone a whole fortnight, once, pretending that we were secretly married already, with a cottage marked out with a square of stones in a little hollow nearby. But, as we got older, we had become shy of such talk, so that there had been no mention of marriage between us for some years. I had retained some secret hopes on that score, though, and often wondered if he did the same especially after I had transformed from playmate to maidservant. Hindley looked a little dismayed at my reaction. You will marry me, wont you, Nell? he asked anxiously. I hastened to assure him that I loved him as dearly as ever, all my shyness dissolving in the face of his obvious distress. And then I had a marvellous thought. Hindley, I said excitedly, I tell you what we must do. We must not grieve for the past, but think to the future, and prepare ourselves to be a good master and mistress of Wuthering Heights, as we will be some day. I am learning a great deal about that already, and you must learn too. You must ask your father if you can help him more in managing the estate, and ask him a great many questions about everything. Hindley caught my enthusiasm, so much so that he proposed we should return home straight away to put this plan into action. And so we packed up our things and headed back to Wuthering Heights, both of us more cheerful than we had been in a month. I was particularly delighted with my own cleverness in finding a way to turn Hindley into a path more likely to win him his fathers approbation, and more conducive to general peace in the household. When we were nearly home, with but one little hillock hiding us from view of the house, Hindley stopped and quickly kissed me on the lips. It was but a childs kiss, after all, but it seemed momentous to us, and we walked the rest of the way holding hands and feeling rather solemn. Well, turning a person out of his wonted path is not like turning a sheep, to be accomplished with a single wave of a stick or a nip at the heels. It is more like trying to shift a stream out of its bed: it looks easy enough at the start, as the water will go wherever you send it, but your dam of pebbles and mud will only hold so long as you are there to tend it, and left alone the water soon finds its way into its old path again. So it was with Hindley. To be fair, it was not all his fault. He began with great enthusiasm, hovering about his father, offering his help, and asking all manner of questions. But the change was so sudden that his father was more puzzled than pleased, and suspected some hidden motive, the more so as he could not help but observe that the lad did not attend particularly well to his answers. I assured Hindley at every opportunity that the master would come round in time if he would but persevere, but in the end the fathers suspicions lasted longer than the sons resolve. Not only did the waters return to their own path, but the release of dammed-up force only dug the channel deeper: to the master, Hindleys short-lived reformation seemed to confirm that the boy would never come to anything, while Hindley took his fathers refusal to credit his good intentions as proof that any further effort to please his father would be fruitless. And I, who had been so pleased with my own hand in bringing this about, felt sick at heart, and feared I had done more harm than good. Despite this, however, Hindley and I still spoke privately of our marriage as a settled thing, and I continued in my own resolve to learn as much as I could of household management, against the day that I would be mistress there, and to steer Hindley into good behaviour whenever I could, and comfort him when I couldnt. As the weeks passed, my mothers visits to the Heights became more infrequent, and my own responsibilities increased. I was still but a girl, of course, and not likely to be placed in command of servants older and longer-serving than myself, but I soon saw that it would not be long before I attained that eminence. At that time there were two maidservants employed at the Heights besides myself: one assigned to the dairy, and the other to the kitchen and household. They were both good, obedient, hard-working girls, like most rural folk, but rather slow of mind. They grew anxious when left to direct even their own work for very long, let alone anyone elses, and, when faced with an unexpected obstacle, would come to a puzzled halt, like a sheep encountering a wall, until it was removed. Furthermore, neither of them expected to spend more than a few years at the Heights before leaving for homes of their own. When they did so, I foresaw, their replacements would naturally look to me for instructions when the mistress was not available, which was more often than not, and I would be housekeeper in effect, if not in name. During this period, I received my first and, did I but know it, only letter from my father, all but the signature written not in his own painstaking, coarse print but in a flowing script that told me he had pressed someone into service as a scribe. I have it still. It reads: Dear Nelly, I hope this finds you well. I am well myself. I have five men working under me. They are all good men now but one was a lazy sot so I had to let him go and find another to fill his place. You would like to see the house I am building. It is very grand. It will have two floors above the ground plus the attics. The stones for the ground floor are very large and we must use a tackle to move them, but they are all dressed stone and easy enough to work with once they are in place. They have a better sort of mortar here too, smooth as butter. I am boarding at a house in town. It is a clean place and the landlady is very kind but not so good a cook as your mother. I hope your mother will come here soon. This house will need many servants when it is done and I am sure they would take you on if I said the word. Also you would get better wages I guess than you do now. Meantime, work hard and be a good girl. Be sure to save your wages and take them to your mother. Your loving father, THOMAS DEAN Letters were scarce in those days, so this one would have been a prize whatever its contents, but Your loving father moved me to tears, and remained precious to me for years, even after I realized that it was but a conventional closure, probably suggested by the scribe. The thought that my mother might leave soon, though, and worse, that my father might move me to a position in his employers household, filled me with alarm, which I conveyed to my mother on her next visit. The house will be at least another year a-building, Nell, she assured me, and probably more. And by the time its built, God willing, your father may be prosperous enough that he wont wish you in service at all, and certainly not in his own neighbourhood. Will you be going there yourself soon? Not right away. I should like to see you better settled in your duties, and know that Mrs Earnshaw can rely on your abilities, before I leave you all. What about the cows? I asked. My mother had but four cows at present, but her dairy was her greatest pride and pleasure. Though generally unsentimental, she loved her ladies, as she called her cows, and continued the practice, begun in her girlhood by Mrs Earnshaw, of naming them all after Shakespeares heroines. So it was that I was plain Ellen, but her barn was populated with, at present, Rosalind, Ophelia, Viola, and Marina. Only Reenie and Rosie will need milking over the winter, she told me, Feelie and Vi are drying off now theyre due to calve in March. I shall take Reenie with me your father has his eye on a little house in the town with one stall that will do for a cow, and shell bear the journey easily enough. The other three shall come here Ive spoken to Mr Earnshaw about it already. In return for feeding them through the winter, hes to have Rosies milk and his pick of Feelies and Vis calves come spring. They wont overload the dairy either, for youre getting low on milkers just now. And I know I can count on you to make sure my ladies get good care. Accordingly, one bleak afternoon in late November she appeared at the Heights, driving three weary-looking cows before her, and looking thoroughly exhausted herself. Nelly, she called out, come out here, my dear, and take these three into the barn. My, that was weary work! I thought to have been here hours ago, but these ladies wont be hurried balky as mules, they were. Despite her weariness, she was shaking her head and laughing as she spoke. Meanwhile Mrs Earnshaw had hurried out, wrapping a shawl around her as she came, and keeping up a steady stream of excited talk. Mary, there you are at last! And your ladies, too is this Rosalind? Ah, you didnt think Id recognize her, did you? But I remember her clear as yesterday the prettiest heifer in all the barn she was, with those long legs and that little star on her forehead, when I picked her out to be your wedding present. And my, what a beauty she has grown into. You say shes your best milker still, after all these years? You see I havent lost my eye for a good cow, at any rate. No you certainly havent, and not a day passes that I dont thank you for her: Rosies been a rare treasure to me in the dairy. And so good-natured! Shes still as an owl for the milking, and an angel for temperament always: I dont think shes ever kicked in her whole life. These two here are her daughters, Vi and Feely Viola and Ophelia, that is you see Ive kept up our old practice. Reenie thats Marina is back at home. Shes Rosies granddaughter, and bids fair to be her equal, but shell go with me to Brassing. Oh Mary, must you really go? Brassing is so far away, and I cant bear to think of you being gone so long. The mistress was pulling my mother towards the house as she spoke. Come now, Helen, you wouldnt have me neglect my duty to Tom, would you? The poor fellow is living in paid lodgings, and eating Heaven-knows-what: tallow in the butter, chalk in the milk, and the last time the landlady served goose, it tasted so foul, he thought it must be a vulture! He was half minded to demand to see the feet, he said. And Ill only be gone until spring Ill be back before youve noticed Im gone. With suchlike jollyings and reassurances, my mother led the mistress back to the house, while I turned away to attend to the cows, awkwardly shooing them towards the barn. I actually had little to do with managing livestock at the Heights the produce of the dairy was more my department than its four-footed inhabitants so I was in some difficulties, until Joseph spied me and came running over. What are ye up to, ye daft hinny? Thats no way to move cattle yell only get them into a fright, and have them trampling all the beds. He snatched the stick from my hands and, with a sequence of light taps, accompanied by deep cooing noises, soon had the cows moving into the barn. Do you know where theyre to go? I asked, trying to sound as if I knew myself. A-course I do wasnt it left to me to ready the stalls for them? An itll be left to me to find fodder for them too, I suppose. Feeding three for the milk of one thats a bad bargain the maisters made but he always did make bad bargains wi womanites, and yon canny witch is the warst on em. I had turned away before Joseph shot this parting bolt, but I turned to call back at him: Its nothing to the bad bargain youd be to any womanite foolish enough to look twice at a sour-tempered, monkey-faced dwarf like you! I regretted it the moment Id said it, of course. Not for its unkindness, which was well deserved, but because Joseph was forever trying to provoke me to lash out at him, so that he could denounce me to the master for ill temper and insubordination, and I had been trying to school myself to ignore him, or at least respond with no more than dignified silence and scornful looks. Now he had just what he wanted, and was gleefully working himself up into a hopping rage before running to report to the master: Hoo, listen to the little hussy shes as bad as her mother nay worse, for talking evil to her elders and betters. The maister shall hear of this hell turn you out, this time, he will, for sure. Its too long hes put up with your insolence and bad ways, but now hell see, now hell see what shes really made of, witch bastard that she is. I was almost at the house by now, using up all my little stock of self-control not to reply, or give any sign that his words affected me. Witch bastard was one of his favourite epithets for me, combining as it did aspersions on my character, my mothers, and the circumstances of my birth, and it usually got a response from me when nothing else could, but today I did no more than slam the kitchen door behind me and commence chopping onions with a fury, both to vent my anger, and to provide some cover for the tears that were sure to follow. Hearing the slam and subsequent racket, my mother came into the kitchen. Have you got the cows settled in, Nelly? she asked, but then seeing my face, Whatever is the matter, Nell? Youre red as beef and here, if you dont slow down with that knife youll lose a finger for sure. Put it down, now. Good heavens, child, youve chopped enough onions to stew a whole ox! What brought this on? I did not trust myself yet for a full reply, and said only Joseph. But that was a full enough explanation for anyone who knew the household as well as my mother did. I might have known, she said and then, seeing me about to elaborate, No, dont tell me what he said. Im sure it was not worth hearing, let alone repeating. And I suppose you replied in kind? I nodded, shamefaced. Well, hell carry that to the master, for sure. How many times have I told you to leave him be? Just because someone pours gunpowder in your ear, theres no need for you to set a spark to it. And the worst punishment you can give that old fool is to ignore him when he starts ranting at you. He called me witch bastard, I burst out in spite of myself. Her face went still. Did he now? she said quietly, and then looked at me for a bit in silence. Then she gave herself a little shake, and said, Dont you think any more about it, Nell. Youre not a bastard, and as for witch, Joseph thinks all women are witches except perhaps his sister, whos as dried up and miserable as he is himself. So pay no mind to what he says, and hell soon tire of provoking you. Now, then, what about my cattle? Joseph put them away he knew where they were to go. Do you think hell mistreat them? If they were only my cows, I have no doubt he would drive them into the nearest bog but Ive been careful to arrange things so that its in the masters interest for them to be well looked after, and Joseph knows it. Oh, hell grumble about them, and at them too, most like, but hell do all he can to be sure that Rosie gives good milk all winter and Feelie and Vi both bear healthy calves. He said it was a bad bargain the master made, I couldnt resist adding. And would have said the same if I were paying their weight in gold, my mother replied. Now Im serious, Nell, pay no mind to what Joseph says. And you are not to carry me any more tales about him. Do you understand? I nodded, and the subject was dropped. But I have reason to believe she spoke to the master on the subject, for, though Joseph continued to mutter that I was a witch, he never again called me a bastard, nor did he ever refer to my mother by any worse name than Mrs Dean or your mother though he contrived to throw into the latter enough scorn that you would have thought there was no worse title to be had. My mother would have liked to return home that evening, not wanting to leave even Reenies milking to the neighbours boy she had left in charge, but night was falling by the time all was settled at the Heights, and the night being moonless and cloudy to boot, it was of that inky blackness wherein you cannot see your own feet, let alone the path ahead. So she was persuaded to spend the night with us. The mistress was all for making up the guest bed for her, but my mother would not hear of it, and insisted on sharing my little bed instead. So I was very warm that night, sleeping in her arms for the first time since I was a little child. In the morning she kissed me goodbye, and promised to write to me and the mistress both, and the mistress cried heartily, and I cried a little, too, as we watched her disappear over the nearest rise. A few weeks later, I had my first letter from her. My dearest Nell, You will be glad to know that I arrived safely in Brassing, and am now settled with your father in a cottage on the edge of the town. I was glad not to be in the centre, for the stench there is dreadful to someone accustomed to the clean air of the moors. I think my cowshed at home is sweeter to the nose. But I am getting used to it now. The cottage your father found was smaller than we have at home, and not over-clean, but I have got it done up now and it will do. Reenie made the trip like a born traveller; she was only leaner and a bit footsore by the time she got here. She too has smaller and poorer lodgings than she did at home, but when I have got your father to plug some holes in the wall, and found some better straw for the floor, she will be quite cosy. It is warmer here, with all these houses to stop the wind, and everyone burning coal as well. We share a wall with a family of wool-combers, and they keep their stove red-hot all day long they have to, you know, or the grease in the wool goes hard, and it cant be combed out. If you ever feel sorry that you were born poor, Nelly, think on these poor wool-combers children, who from early childhood work all day long in a hot, airless room, doing hard and monotonous labour, and live on bad bread (the bread here is shocking) and worse tea. There are six of them altogether, all sleeping on one filthy pallet, like a heap of puppies. I am doing what I can for them, at any rate. At every morning and evenings milking, they line up, from youngest to oldest, and drink each in turn a mugful of Reenies good fresh milk. I told their father it was in payment for his stove half heating our cottage for us. I had planned to sell the rest of the milk in the marketplace what we dont use ourselves, that is but I am not to have that trouble, it seems. Word is out in the neighbourhood that we have a cow, and folk just show up at the door with their pitchers and cans and their coins, and they all say they have never tasted such milk in all their lives, which I can well believe. So I am quite a feature in the neighbourhood now, and have many acquaintances already. Your father is earning very good wages, and drinks but little of them, so there is a good deal of money in the house. But living in the town is more expensive than I ever imagined, as we must buy everything we need, even to the greens we eat and its no easy matter finding good ones, I can tell you. I go to the market at dawn, even before the milking, to get the freshest stuff, and pay extra for it, too. But what I meant to say is that we have enough money, so you can save your wages, and perhaps get yourself a new winter dress, as you have nearly outgrown the old one. Dont go spending your money on trifles, though, Nelly. Take good care of yourself in this weather. Always wrap up about the neck before you go outside, and drink something hot when you come in. And never, never go about with your feet wet. And work hard, and do your duty. Send my love to the family, and to my ladies too. Your father sends his love. Your loving mother, Mary Dean The next few months passed quietly enough. My mother kept up a regular correspondence with the mistress, so she and I exchanged shorter letters enclosed in those to save on postage, but there was little enough to tell, particularly as I did not care to comment on Hindley, who was going from bad to worse, despite all my best efforts to restrain him. It was early March, and the snows were just starting to recede from the roads, when Cathy came running into the kitchen to announce that she had spied a pony carriage coming our way, and who could it be? We all hurried out to look, but could make out no more than that it was a woman driving, and not like anyone we knew. The mistress sent us back in again with orders to put the kettle on for tea and see to it that the house was presentable, while she ran upstairs to freshen her toilette for a visitor. When the cart pulled up, we saw that it was driven by a handsome, fresh-faced woman, perhaps thirty years of age. Her gown and pelisse were of good materials, and well made, in a simple, sober style, her only mark of fashion being a jaunty bonnet from which sprang a beautiful dark-dyed ostrich feather. She jumped lightly down from the carriage and handed the reins to one of the lads hovering around. Cathy and I had been instructed to make ourselves scarce, so we were crouched at the top of the stairs, trying to be within sight and sound of the visitor without being seen or heard ourselves. But the lady spoke in a low, soft voice to the mistress, and we could not make out any of it. We were not left in suspense for long, though, for as soon as they had consulted, the mistress called out to me. Nelly, come down here and meet Mrs Thorne. She has a message for you from your mother. I came down and curtseyed as the mistress introduced me. Then she took both my hands in hers, and I looked up and saw tears in her eyes. My heart dropped. I opened my mouth to speak, but could get nothing out. So you are little Ellen, she said kindly. I am so sorry we should meet under these circumstances, dear child, but I have sad news to bring you. Your father has had an accident at work. A stone they were moving slipped and fell on top of him. He is badly injured, and it is not known whether he can recover. Your mother is with him now, and dare not leave his side, so I said that I would come to fetch you. I know this is very sudden, but do you think you can gather some things together and be ready to go with me, in perhaps half an hour? I should like to get back as soon as we can. I felt as if I had been struck with a stone myself, but I nodded mutely and turned to go upstairs. But the mistress took one look at my white face and folded me in her arms instead, and instructed the other maidservant to fetch tea for all three of us. There will be time enough to get ready when you have both sat down and refreshed yourselves, she said. I sat down. I could not cry, but could not seem to do anything else either. Finally the tea arrived, which at least gave me something to do with my hands and mouth. Meanwhile, Mrs Thorne and the mistress kept up a low, soothing patter of small talk. Mrs Thorne, it appeared, was the young wife of my fathers friend I had recognized the name when she came in. She owned quite frankly that she was new to being a fine lady, having begun life as a factory girl, and met her future husband at the works before his career was well begun. It was a great relief to me to meet Mrs Dean, she said. I do have a difficult time talking to the well-bred ladies I am supposed to visit all day. They talk of nothing but scandal, their children, and the iniquities of servants, whereas Mrs Dean is full of good, practical advice on everything from the planting of a kitchen garden to the best books to read, and she never tries to make me feel ignorant or crude. This set the mistress off on one of her favourite themes: the good sense, omni-competence, and general all-around excellence of my mother, though she carefully refrained, in this case, from interleaving her talk with the usual regrets and complaints that she no longer lived at Wuthering Heights. It was as soothing a cover as they could have hit upon under which I could recover my wits a little, and in a few minutes I had gathered enough of them to look about me a bit, and begin to stir myself to get ready. At this point, Cathy, who had been hovering in a corner, jumped up. Shall I pack your things for you, Nelly? she asked, evidently eager to be of help. I was about to decline, but, before I could speak, the mistress accepted on my behalf, and Cathy raced upstairs to begin. I wanted to go up with her, not quite trusting her judgement, but the mistress kept me next to her on the sofa, saying I must rest for the journey to come. Cathy, meanwhile, came to the head of the stairs every few minutes to consult. You will want your new brown dress, wont you, Nelly? was her first query, and then Mama, may Nelly borrow your old valise? and next, What is she to do for gloves, Mama? Yours would be too small for her, and Will she need a clean apron? By the time all these questions and more had been settled, and Cathy had dragged the packed valise to the top of the stairs for Hindley to carry down, I had to acknowledge she had done a better job than I could have in my present addled state. Nor were we much behind the half-hour Mrs Thorne had allotted to us to get ready. Mrs Earnshaw hugged and kissed and cried over me, assuring me all the while that I would be back soon enough, and my mother with me. Then she dug a crown out of her purse to bestow on me, and I shook hands with all the children and the master too (he had come in in the meantime), and the master told me to be a good girl, and we climbed into the carriage, and were off. At Gimmerton we exchanged the pony and carriage for a post-chaise, and drove on to Brassing at the fastest pace the post-boy could be coaxed to permit, stopping only to change horses again. All this was very new to me, and would have been a wondering pleasure, but in me both thought and feeling seemed stuck in one round. I didnt know which I feared more: that my father would die before I arrived, or that he would be alive, and not pleased to see me. Mrs Thorne seemed to understand something of what I was feeling, for she talked but little herself, and asked almost nothing of me. Brassing, when we finally drew nigh, looked to be a much larger town than Gimmerton, but it had little else to recommend it that I could see. The houses were of grey stone, and crowded together all higgledy-piggledy, and the air was thick with an acrid miasma composed of coal smoke mingled with the smell of open privies. The post-boy let us down at the top of a narrow lane, next to a small public house. Mrs Thorne said we would stop in there to get ready. Inside, she carried out a whispered consultation with the landlady, who then produced a pair of pattens for each of us. Mrs Thorne pulled a packet of pins from her bag, and said we must pin up our skirts, and strap on the pattens, before venturing into the lane, for it was ankle-deep, or worse, in dirt. I was in a trembling hurry to be on our way, but she assured me, on the landladys information, that there was no immediate cause for haste. Once equipped, we set off down the lane. Mrs Thorne kept a tight grip on my arm, which was just as well, as I was unaccustomed both to pattens and to cobblestones, and until I found my feet, each step threatened to pitch me head-foremost into the muck. From halfway down that lane, we turned into another still narrower, and at the end of it I saw my mother standing in a doorway. Mrs Thorne restrained me from rushing forward, but quickened her pace, and in another minute I was in my mothers arms. Mrs Thorne stayed only to receive my mothers thanks for fetching me, and then went on her way back up the lane. How is Father? I asked, as soon as I caught my breath. Hes resting, she said, and then set me on a stool in the entryway and began removing the pattens and taking the pins from my skirt. That done, she declared me fit to step indoors. The cottage had two small rooms, but the door to the bedroom was shut. My mother sat me down by the small fire, and fetched me tea and some sweet biscuits. For some time, she would not let me speak, only directing me to eat and drink instead. I would have thought that I had no appetite at all, but the tea awakened it, and between it, the biscuits, and some bread and cheese that followed, I found the haze lifting that I had been in since Mrs Thornes first news. Do you think Father will wake soon? I asked at last. When will I be able to see him? My mother knelt beside me and put her arms around me. Her eyes were filled with tears. Oh Nelly, he will never wake more in this world, she said. He went to his final rest some three hours since. He asked for you near the end, though, to say farewell, and to beg your forgiveness for his early cruelty to you. This opened the floodgates at last. I sobbed myself into exhaustion on her shoulder, and she sobbed as well. Then a woman opened the door to the bedroom to say that all was ready she had been engaged to wash his body and lay it out. So we went in, both of us, and I saw my father. The stone had struck his chest, so his face was his own, only paler and thinner than I remembered. I bent down and kissed his cold cheek the first kiss I ever bestowed on him, that I remember, and the last. My father lay in state for two days, so that his friends and neighbours could come to pay their respects. Mr and Mrs Thorne were among the first, and they spoke simply and frankly of their respect for my father, and their regret that they should have been in some manner the cause of his death, and Mr Thorne shed real tears for his boyhood friend. They also left with us a hamper of food, containing a ham, a large Dundee cake, a block of good Cheddar cheese, and a packet of fine tea, to feed ourselves and to offer to the other mourners as they came. There were a good many of them, for all my fathers residence in the town had been so short all the men who had worked with him or under him on the house, and all those whose acquaintance he had made in the pub. My mothers milk customers came too, and the wool-comber next door with his children. Their grief was very real, though I think it was less for my father himself than for the imminent departure of my mother and her cow. My mother did not wish my father to be buried in Brassing, where the churchyards were all crowded and airless. The weather being cool, she resolved to transport him back home, to be buried in the churchyard at Gimmerton. The Thornes very kindly arranged all this, so we had only to pack up the households few things to put in a hired wagon (not the one the coffin was in, to my relief) and tie Reenie to the back of it, before setting off home. Our progress going back was considerably slower than mine had been on the way, but another day brought us within sight of my parents cottage. Reenie grew excited then, and threatened to overset the wagon, so my mother untied her, whereupon she tossed her head and took off at a slow, lumbering gallop towards the barn. Well, she is not sorry to shake the dust of Brassing from her feet, at any rate, said my mother. And so we settled back into our old places I at the Heights, and my mother at the cottage, which she had resolved to keep. I used most of my small stock of savings to buy myself a full suit of mourning, and made much of my grief for my father. Had I known what was coming, I would have saved my tears. SIX (#ulink_917be78f-25fa-56c5-831f-1d92ff10eac0) I did not dare to speak to you of her death the mistresss, that is how it tore us all apart, and left wounds that never did heal. Yet if I didnt mention it to you, you might have asked about it at any time, and caught me unawares, and that would be worse. So I gabbled over it as fast as I could, and in the wrong place, too, so that I had to go back and tell things that came before it, as if they were after. But this is cool paper, that soaks up all I tell it without remark, and I am not so grieved now as I was then, either, by all that happened in those days. It began with the measles. It was midsummer. My mother, I forgot to mention, had left her little cottage. It proved lonelier than she had expected, she said, without my father. And then Mrs Thorne, who had been much impressed with my mothers good sense and practical energy, wrote to ask if she would come back to Brassing to manage the dairy Mrs Thorne had been persuaded by her to establish. She offered generous terms, including the purchase of all my mothers cows, and my mother thought it best to accept. But her cows were not all as fresh-footed as young Reenie, and so my mother, as she put it, turned drover for a time, driving the cows before her at an easy pace, taking frequent rests, and boarding at farmhouses along the way. It was only a day or two after she had left that Hindley first took sick with the measles, and Cathy caught them soon after, and it fell on me to nurse them, for I had been through the measles already, as a baby. It was no easy task: Cathy and Hindley complained vociferously of their many discomforts, and called on me peremptorily for help as if every cup of water or basin to be emptied and cleaned were the only thing standing between them and a speedy exit from this life. Heathcliff I tried to protect from infection by keeping him away from Cathy, for his own sake, and because I could not imagine how I was to manage without him to fetch things up and down the stairs and keep the coal-bin loaded, the fire burning, and the kettle full. It wasnt easy to keep them apart, but I told him that the excitement of seeing him would make Cathys fever worse, and I took to locking the door of the childrens sickroom whenever I was not there to guard it. But then Cathys fever reached a crisis, and she began crying out at one moment that she was afraid to die, and at the next that she could not bear to live another minute. After that, nothing in Heaven or earth, I believe, could have kept him from her. I woke from an exhausted nap to find my pocket picked and the key gone, and found them both in her bed, clasped in each others arms while Heathcliff sobbed and Cathy alternately burned and shivered. After that, Heathcliff took the infection, of course, though he hid it as long as he could, and took to his bed only when the telltale spots confessed his secret for him. Then the mistress took the infection as well, which was odd, for she said she had had the measles in her youth. As a patient, she was gentle and undemanding, but she fretted continually, dividing her time between dreading the loss of her children and fearing that she would leave them motherless. Hers looked to be a mild case, to judge from the spots, but Mr Earnshaw was concerned about her, and called in Dr Kenneth. He came later that day, looking harried and exhausted. The weather had turned remarkably hot even the nights brought no relief and this, he told us, had set off a rash of putrid fevers all over the neighbourhood, which had him running off his feet from morning to night. This was not the Dr Robert Kenneth who attended you, Mr Lockwood, but his father, Dr Richard Kenneth. The former was a lad only a couple of years older than Hindley and me, and he had often been a playmate of ours when we were quite small, and the doctor was a frequent visitor to the mistress. At fourteen that would be a year or two before Heathcliff came he had been formally prenticed to his father, and after that we saw him less. His father called him Robin, and Hindley and I, through some childish corruption of that with his last name, and because he used to be so slight he could sit between the two of us on one stout pony, had come to call him Bodkin, and Bodkin he still was to us, whenever we did see him. So Dr Kenneth came to see us, as I said. About the mistress he looked grave. The whole system must be weak, he said, to take ill of this after having it in her youth. He prescribed bed rest, beef jellies, and port wine, fortified with a brown mixture he left with us. Heathcliff was only just coming out in the spots when the doctor came, while Cathy and Hindley were in full bloom. The latter were noisy and demanding patients, as I said before, but Heathcliff was quiet as a lamb, and so I had assumed his was the milder case. But Dr Kenneth clucked and sighed as he examined him. Hes not of English stock, I think, he said. God only knows where his parents were from. These foreign-bred folk can take our common illnesses quite hard. I would advise you to watch him closely. And dont set too much store by what he says, Nelly Im thinking hes one of those that suffer in silence. Judge by his spots, his fever, and his appetite. Dr Kenneth went into the next room, then, to talk to the master privately, and Bodkin motioned me over. Father claims that whenever he hears a patient moaning and complaining a great deal, he has good hopes of their recovery. He says that crying out is almost as good as bloodletting for releasing poisons from the body. I thought at first that he only said that to cheer nurses with tiresome patients on their hands, but now that I have been observing cases with him, I think there is a grain of truth in it. Look to young Heathcliff, Nelly, and dont let the other two wear you down. I assured him that I would. Seeing my hands full with the children, the master said he would take over the nursing of his wife himself, which he did, I must say, with great gentleness and thoughtful consideration. But everything else in the house fell onto my shoulders. Joseph, who had never had the measles and was mortally afraid of contracting them, made up a pallet for himself in the barn, and took charge of all matters in the dairy and out-of-doors, never setting foot in the house. There was no time to make cheese or churn butter, and it was too hot for milk to keep, so I made up the pots of porridge for myself and my patients with fresh milk instead of water; we set the two calves to nurse for themselves on our gentlest cow, and sent the remainder of the milk home with the dairymaid, who lived hard by with her parents and a pack of hungry brothers and sisters. The days that followed recur to my memory now like time spent in another world. I seemed to be continually running or rushing about, except when I composed myself to attend to one of my patients, or collapsed into a few hours exhausted sleep before waking in terror that someone had died. Cathy and Hindley took so much of my time and attention that I all but ignored Heathcliff for a while. I was just settling them for sleep one night, when I heard a low moan from his bed, and turned to look after him. He lay on his back, still as death, and spoke not a word, but only panted faintly, his eyes wide with terror as they followed my motions, like a wounded fox that sees the dogs approach, and hopes for no mercy but a speedy end. I poured him a cup of water, and held up his head for him to drink it, and he drank greedily at first, his eyes fixed on me all the time, but swallowing seemed to pain him, and after a few gulps he leaned his head back and closed his eyes, and I laid him back down. I was speaking soothingly to him all the while softly, so as not to wake Cathy or Hindley, but he said nothing, and gave no sign of recognition. When I felt his forehead his skin burned to my touch Cathy and Hindley had been feverish too, but nothing like this. My heart smote me then, that I had not attended better to Bodkins advice. I thought, if I could not bring down his fever, he might die, and his death would be on my hands, for had I not neglected him, while attending to the others? I stripped the bedclothes off him, and his nightshirt as well. Then I wetted a cloth with water from the pitcher and washed him all over, in an effort to cool his burning skin. I have said it was hot, but there was at this time such a heat spell as I have never known before or since. Day and night, the air was still and sweltering; there was no coolness to be found anywhere in the house, even in the stillroom. Even the water in the pitcher was lukewarm, and it only sat on the poor boys skin like sweat, instead of drying off to cool him. I ran downstairs to fetch fresher and, I hoped, cooler water from the large jar in the kitchen, but it was little better. In my desperation, at length I bethought me of the well. Normally we drew our water from a shallow well in the courtyard, but the heat had caused the water in it to go foul, so we had resorted to an older well nearby, customarily used for watering the stock. It was a deep one, and water fresh-drawn from it had always the coolness of deep earth, whatever the weather. But the well was a good distance from the house, and the night black as pitch, with no moon, and stars obscured by the low haze of moisture in the air. I hastily prepared a lantern, though, and made my way as best I could to the well to draw a fresh bucketful. It was as cool as I hoped, so I filled my pitcher afresh and hurried back to the house to try its effect on my patient. His skin was still so hot to the touch, I half-fancied I could hear it sizzle when I applied the cloths, like water on a hot skillet. But the cool cloths did seem to give him some ease. His breathing slowed and became deeper, and his eyes looked less fearful. I lifted him again for another cool drink of water, and when he was done, his lips moved to thank me, though no sound came from them, and tears welled in his eyes. I kept up bathing him with water from the pitcher, but it was not long before it grew warm again and lost its power to cool him. Then I rushed out again to fill it from the well, and began all over again. Thus began the longest and strangest night of my life. I rushed back and forth from the well to Heathcliffs sickbed, bathing his burning skin continually except when I ran out to replenish the water in the pitcher. I stopped only to drink water myself at the well, for the rushing in and out of doors and up and down the stairs kept the sweat pouring off me in rivulets, though I had stripped myself to my shift because of the heat. By the time I saw the first glow of grey dawn in the east, my arms and legs were quivering with exhaustion, and my breath came in sobs at each new exertion. Yet I dreaded the coming of day, for fear the sun would add to the heat, and make my struggle against Heathcliffs fever yet harder. I had just drawn up the bucket from the well when I heard the steady clump of horses feet approaching. It was Dr Kenneth, and Bodkin behind him on a pony. I began waving my arms and shouting to them at the top of my voice, terrified that they would pass by without stopping (and that will tell you something of my state of mind, for there was no earthly reason for anyone to be on that road, unless it were to visit us). They clucked up their horses and hastened over to me, and it wasnt until they were a dozen yards away that I recollected I had only my shift on! I quickly grabbed the bucket to my chest for cover, but it was full of water, of course, which duly sloshed all down my front. This, you may be sure, improved neither my appearance nor my composure. But good Dr Kenneths face expressed nothing but its habitual kind concern. Good heavens, Nelly, poor child, whatever is the matter? Oh, Dr Kenneth, I didnt listen to you, and now Heathcliff has the fever terribly bad, and nothing I can do will bring it down, and Im afraid he will die, I sobbed out, and then commenced to babble incoherently about my long night, and my desperate efforts to cool the feverish child. Before I finished, Dr Kenneth turned his horse and hurried off to the house, pausing only to say a few words to his son in a voice too low for me to hear. His departure, and the relief that Heathcliff was now in better hands than mine, seemed to drain from me the last ounce of my desperate energy, and I crumpled to the ground and wrapped my arms around my knees, crying uncontrollably and shivering in my wet shift as if I had a chill wind on me instead of the same still heat as before. Bodkin slipped off his pony and came over to wrap his jacket around me, turning his head away as I hastily buttoned it down the front. Then he helped me up from the ground and half led, half carried me into the kitchen. There he blew up the fire, made tea, and put a mug of it before me with some oatcakes and a bit of jam he found in the storeroom. I shook my head I could not imagine finding the strength to eat or drink. None of that, Nelly. This is doctors orders. Food and something hot to drink, he said, and Im not to leave you until youve swallowed some of each. I did manage to take some, then, which revived me enough to remind me how hungry I was, and I set to with some eagerness. And now, Nelly, tell me where I may find a nightdress for you. Theyre upstairs, in the cupboard in my room thats the second on the right, I said, and then added, in some confusion, but I cant put on nightclothes now its already morning. But Bodkin was already heading up the stairs. Morning for those who have been sleeping all night, perhaps, he said, but bedtime for you. Again, these are my fathers orders. And then he was off, to return a minute later with one of my nightdresses. Here you are, milady, he said, and here is your dressing room (opening the storeroom door with a flourish). That coaxed a laugh from me. I can change more easily in my own room. Very likely, but you have not had near enough breakfast yet, and I cant have you spilling jam on my best summer jacket. Is this your best? I asked doubtfully (it was a remarkably threadbare garment). My best, my worst, and my middling all, for its my only one. Now go and change. I thought it best to obey, and indeed it felt good to get out of the wet shift and into something clean and dry. I felt shy of coming out of the storeroom in only my nightdress though, and poked my head through the door to say so. You forget I am in training to be a doctor, Nell, he said. Seeing folks in their nightclothes is a hazard of my chosen profession, just as getting run through with a sword is for a cavalry officer. Well, call up all your professional courage, then, for here I come. Bodkin put some bread and cheese in front of me, and refreshed my mug of tea. You would be astonished at what weve seen in this heat, Nelly, he went on. Some of it makes your wet shift look like a noble sacrifice to the cause of modesty. I laughed and shook my head. No, truly, he said, laughing himself, do you know Old Elspeth? I know of her, I said. Well, Father and I called by her cottage yesterday afternoon. Was she ill? I interrupted. It doesnt speak well of her art, that she couldnt cure herself, but had to call in a doctor to help. Nothing of the sort; shes as hale as ever it was we who needed her. Really! And I thought doctors and herbwomen were at daggers drawn. Not in this case. Father respects her. She serves more of the poor than he could get to if there were three of him, he says, and serves them well. And she makes a salve for the rheumatics that is better than anything. Gentlefolk wont touch it if they know it comes from her, so Father buys it from her and dispenses it as his own concoction, and thus keeps everybody happy. But to get back to my story: we rode up to her cottage and knocked at the door, but there was no answer, and then we heard her in the garden behind the cottage, so we went round there. You know she is rather deaf, so I suppose she didnt hear us coming. When we came upon her, she stood up from behind a bush, and can you guess what she was wearing, Nell? I shook my head. A broad-brimmed straw hat! he announced, making his eyes wide with feigned shock. Well, what is so surprising about that? I asked, a little puzzled. I wear one myself, when I am working outside on a sunny day. Bodkin gazed at me expectantly, his eyes twinkling. I am telling you, she was wearing a broad-brimmed straw hat. It hit me then. And nothing else? I gasped. Not a stitch. The hat was the sum total of her costume. A woman over eighty! I tell you, I needed every ounce of my professional courage not to turn tail and flee. I collapsed into helpless laughter, and he with me, and we both sat there giggling like a pair of naughty children. I would love to have seen her face when she saw you there, I said at last. You would have seen little to amuse you, actually, for her face showed no awkward consciousness at all. I tell you, a savage chief from the Americas could not have borne his nakedness with more dignity than that old woman. She simply turned and strode into the cottage, then emerged later, clothed, and with the pot of salve for my father, and we all exchanged the usual pleasantries as if nothing had happened. As we were leaving, Father turned to me and asked, So, Robin, what do you make of that? Well, Father, I replied, I know that older ladies often cling to the fashions of their youth, but I had not realized that Elspeth was old enough to take hers from Mother Eve. That made him laugh, and then we said not another word about it. You are a funny fellow, Bodkin. Well, laughter is the only medication I am at present qualified to dispense that and tea, he added, and the occasional article of dry clothing. And I see that those have had their usual miraculous restorative effect, so let us get you off to bed. But, before we could head up the stairs, we met the master and Dr Kenneth coming down. What, not abed yet, Nelly? the doctor said. Off with you, then, post haste. Please, sir, I asked, my old anxiety suddenly returning, how is Heathcliff? His fever has broken, thanks to you, he said, and he is resting peacefully. He should make a full recovery, as will Cathy and Hindley. This young woman, sir, he said, turning to the master, has done heroic service for yon poor lad all night long she ran back and forth to the old well, and up and down these stairs, to ease his fever with cooling baths it was her own thought, and I could not have had a better one myself and she wore herself near to collapse doing it. You have her to thank that he will pull through. The master looked haggard and worn himself, from worry and sleepless nights nursing his wife, but at this he turned to me, and I saw tears in his eyes. Come here, child, he said hoarsely. When I came up to him, he gestured me to kneel in front of him, and put both hands on my head. God bless you, Ellen Dean, he said in a choked voice, I think you were born to be the salvation of this house, and I swear that while I live you will always have a home here. His hands rested on my head, and we both remained there in silence, he standing, I kneeling and looking at the floor, for what seemed a long time, and then he said again, God bless you, and released me. I was weeping by then, and could scarcely rise, but Bodkin helped me up, and led me up the stairs. At the top I saw Hindley, out of bed and poking his head out of his door. He flashed on me a look of such anger and pain that I realized he must have heard every word below. How could you? he hissed at me as I passed, but I was too exhausted to face him just then, so I turned away without answering, and let Bodkin lead me to my room and put me into my bed, where I fell instantly into a deep sleep that lasted the whole of that day and the following night. * I awoke at dawn, as usual, but with a vague sense that everything was changed, as if a whole new world had taken shape around me while I slept, so that I was startled to see the same old familiar surroundings. As I dressed, memories came back to account for this feeling: my efforts for Heathcliff, and their success, and the praise I had received for them, but most of all, Mr Earnshaws heartfelt blessing, and his promise that I should always have a home at Wuthering Heights. I had thought that I had long since put away the bitter memory of my earlier expulsion, but somewhere in the back of my mind it must have still rankled. Now that pain was gone, as if the pressure of the masters hands on my head had been a baptism that washed away all my old sins, and made me a new person one who belonged at Wuthering Heights, and had claims there. About Heathcliff, too, I had new and warmer feelings. I had employed all my wits and all my strength to save his life, and I had saved it. So the doctor told me, so I believed myself, and so, I was sure, Heathcliff knew too. How could I not now value more greatly the life I had saved? And Heathcliffs need had touched me. As I had nursed him through that horrible night, I had kept up a steady gentle patter of reassurance and affection, such as a mother uses to her child. The words came naturally to my lips, and I believe I would have said the like for anyone I nursed so, but once spoken, they seemed to bring their own truth with them, and Heathcliff became no longer the troublesome brat I had always thought him, but my poor bairn, my good little laddie, my darling boy. And I saw, too, their effect on him: through the night, each time I returned to his bedside, his eyes would seek out mine and his lips move to say my name, and I saw in his face what I had never seen there for me before: trust, and gratitude, and love. Hindley I tried not to think about, only telling myself that he could not really wish me to have let Heathcliff die, and that he would come round in time. By the time I had thus taken stock of my mental world, I was washed and dressed. The terrible heat, I noticed, had broken at last, and all nature seemed to be celebrating it. At any rate, it was a beautiful day, of that crystalline sunny clearness we see so rarely here, that makes the very lungs leap to take in the fresh air, carries the sounds of birds for miles around, and gives the edges of objects the sharpness of a knife-blade. I went downstairs. Joseph was back in his old place Dr Kenneth must have declared the house free of infection but no one else was up yet. His was not the face I would have chosen to see first that morning, but my mood was too buoyant to let him affect it. Good morning, Joseph. I hope you slept well? I asked cheerfully. Not as well as you did, spending the whole of yesterday lazing in your bed, from what I hear. Doctors orders. Same as kept you from having to lift a finger in here while I was run off my feet the whole of last week. Not that Im complaining, I added brightly, for I managed very well on my own. Dr Kenneth said I saved Heathcliffs life, and the master gave me his blessing, and told me I was born to be the salvation of the family. This had the desired effect Joseph scowled and turned away, but could not think of a word to say in response that would not appear to disparage these two authorities. Now that youre here, I went on, can you tell me what happened yesterday while I was asleep? Is the mistress up from her bed yet? Or any of the children? And what of the master? He looked worn to a ravelling when last I saw him. Hindley and Cathy are out of their beds, but theyre to keep themselves quiet and not goo out adoors, and t doctor says Heathcliffs past the wust of it, but he still needs a few days rest a-bed. T mistress is still ill, and t master still gies all his time to nursing her. If ye want to make yeself useful, yell bring up a tray for both on them thin milk porridge for t mistress an summat more hearty for t master. I know what they need, I said, havent I been bringing trays for them all week? I hastened to put together the tray, adding a pot of tea and a small pitcher of milk before carrying it upstairs. Outside their room, I knocked softly at the door, as I had been instructed to do. The master opened the door, but, instead of taking the tray inside, he stepped out with me into the hall. Shes sleeping now, he whispered. Lets not disturb her. Ill eat downstairs. Please, sir, I ventured, as we went down the hall together, how is Mrs Earnshaw now? What did the doctor say? Never mind what the doctor said. Mrs Earnshaw is still weak, but mending. Her measles are clearing up it just took a little longer with her than with the children because she is older. She needs time to rest, and no disturbances. Trouble between the children especially frets her, and that will slow her recovery. I have arranged with the curate to take over their lessons, but apart from that I am counting on you to keep the peace, Nelly, for they are all fond of you. Do you think you can do that? . . , (https://www.litres.ru/alison-case/nelly-dean/?lfrom=390579938) . Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, , , , PayPal, WebMoney, ., QIWI , .