Text - "Wuthering Heights" Emily Brontë

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In the confluence of the multitude,
several clubs crossed; blows, aimed at me, fell on other sconces.
Presently the whole chapel resounded with rappings and counter rappings:
every man's hand was against his neighbour; and Branderham, unwilling to
remain idle, poured forth his zeal in a shower of loud taps on the boards
of the pulpit, which responded so smartly that, at last, to my
unspeakable relief, they woke me. And what was it that had suggested the
tremendous tumult? What had played Jabez's part in the row? Merely the
branch of a fir-tree that touched my lattice as the blast wailed by, and
rattled its dry cones against the panes! I listened doubtingly an
instant; detected the disturber, then turned and dozed, and dreamt again:
if possible, still more disagreeably than before.

This time, I remembered I was lying in the oak closet, and I heard
distinctly the gusty wind, and the driving of the snow; I heard, also,
the fir bough repeat its teasing sound, and ascribed it to the right
cause: but it annoyed me so much, that I resolved to silence it, if
possible; and, I thought, I rose and endeavoured to unhasp the casement.
The hook was soldered into the staple: a circumstance observed by me when
awake, but forgotten. 'I must stop it, nevertheless!' I muttered,
knocking my knuckles through the glass, and stretching an arm out to
seize the importunate branch; instead of which, my fingers closed on the
fingers of a little, ice-cold hand! The intense horror of nightmare came
over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a
most melancholy voice sobbed, 'Let me in-let me in!' 'Who are you?' I
asked, struggling, meanwhile, to disengage myself. 'Catherine Linton,'
it replied, shiveringly (why did I think of Linton? I had read
Earnshaw twenty times for Linton)-'I'm come home: I'd lost my way on
the moor!' As it spoke, I discerned, obscurely, a child's face looking
through the window. Terror made me cruel; and, finding it useless to
attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken
pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the
bedclothes: still it wailed, 'Let me in!' and maintained its tenacious
grip, almost maddening me with fear. 'How can I!' I said at length.
'Let me go, if you want me to let you in!' The fingers relaxed, I
snatched mine through the hole, hurriedly piled the books up in a pyramid
against it, and stopped my ears to exclude the lamentable prayer. I
seemed to keep them closed above a quarter of an hour; yet, the instant I
listened again, there was the doleful cry moaning on! 'Begone!' I
shouted. 'I'll never let you in, not if you beg for twenty years.' 'It
is twenty years,' mourned the voice: 'twenty years. I've been a waif for
twenty years!' Thereat began a feeble scratching outside, and the pile
of books moved as if thrust forward. I tried to jump up; but could not
stir a limb; and so yelled aloud, in a frenzy of fright. To my
confusion, I discovered the yell was not ideal: hasty footsteps
approached my chamber door; somebody pushed it open, with a vigorous
hand, and a light glimmered through the squares at the top of the bed. I
sat shuddering yet, and wiping the perspiration from my forehead: the
intruder appeared to hesitate, and muttered to himself. At last, he
said, in a half-whisper, plainly not expecting an answer, 'Is any one
here?' I considered it best to confess my presence; for I knew
Heathcliff's accents, and feared he might search further, if I kept
quiet. With this intention, I turned and opened the panels. I shall not
soon forget the effect my action produced.

Heathcliff stood near the entrance, in his shirt and trousers; with a
candle dripping over his fingers, and his face as white as the wall
behind him. The first creak of the oak startled him like an electric
shock: the light leaped from his hold to a distance of some feet, and his
agitation was so extreme, that he could hardly pick it up.

'It is only your guest, sir,' I called out, desirous to spare him the
humiliation of exposing his cowardice further. 'I had the misfortune to
scream in my sleep, owing to a frightful nightmare. I'm sorry I
disturbed you.'

'Oh, God confound you, Mr. Lockwood! I wish you were at the-' commenced
my host, setting the candle on a chair, because he found it impossible to
hold it steady. 'And who showed you up into this room?' he continued,
crushing his nails into his palms, and grinding his teeth to subdue the
maxillary convulsions. 'Who was it? I've a good mind to turn them out
of the house this moment?'

'It was your servant Zillah,' I replied, flinging myself on to the floor,
and rapidly resuming my garments. 'I should not care if you did, Mr.
Heathcliff; she richly deserves it. I suppose that she wanted to get
another proof that the place was haunted, at my expense. Well, it
is-swarming with ghosts and goblins! You have reason in shutting it up,
I assure you. No one will thank you for a doze in such a den!'

'What do you mean?' asked Heathcliff, 'and what are you doing? Lie down
and finish out the night, since you are here; but, for heaven's sake!
don't repeat that horrid noise: nothing could excuse it, unless you were
having your throat cut!'

'If the little fiend had got in at the window, she probably would have
strangled me!' I returned. 'I'm not going to endure the persecutions of
your hospitable ancestors again. Was not the Reverend Jabez Branderham
akin to you on the mother's side? And that minx, Catherine Linton, or
Earnshaw, or however she was called-she must have been a
changeling-wicked little soul! She told me she had been walking the
earth these twenty years: a just punishment for her mortal
transgressions, I've no doubt!'

Scarcely were these words uttered when I recollected the association of
Heathcliff's with Catherine's name in the book, which had completely
slipped from my memory, till thus awakened. I blushed at my
inconsideration: but, without showing further consciousness of the
offence, I hastened to add-'The truth is, sir, I passed the first part
of the night in-' Here I stopped afresh-I was about to say 'perusing
those old volumes,' then it would have revealed my knowledge of their
written, as well as their printed, contents; so, correcting myself, I
went on-'in spelling over the name scratched on that window-ledge. A
monotonous occupation, calculated to set me asleep, like counting, or-'

'What can you mean by talking in this way to me!' thundered
Heathcliff with savage vehemence. 'How-how dare you, under my
roof?-God! he's mad to speak so!' And he struck his forehead with rage.

I did not know whether to resent this language or pursue my explanation;
but he seemed so powerfully affected that I took pity and proceeded with
my dreams; affirming I had never heard the appellation of 'Catherine
Linton' before, but reading it often over produced an impression which
personified itself when I had no longer my imagination under control.
Heathcliff gradually fell back into the shelter of the bed, as I spoke;
finally sitting down almost concealed behind it. I guessed, however, by
his irregular and intercepted breathing, that he struggled to vanquish an
excess of violent emotion. Not liking to show him that I had heard the
conflict, I continued my toilette rather noisily, looked at my watch, and
soliloquised on the length of the night: 'Not three o'clock yet! I could
have taken oath it had been six. Time stagnates here: we must surely
have retired to rest at eight!'

'Always at nine in winter, and rise at four,' said my host, suppressing a
groan: and, as I fancied, by the motion of his arm's shadow, dashing a
tear from his eyes. 'Mr. Lockwood,' he added, 'you may go into my room:
you'll only be in the way, coming down-stairs so early: and your childish
outcry has sent sleep to the devil for me.'

'And for me, too,' I replied. 'I'll walk in the yard till daylight, and
then I'll be off; and you need not dread a repetition of my intrusion.
I'm now quite cured of seeking pleasure in society, be it country or
town. A sensible man ought to find sufficient company in himself.'

'Delightful company!' muttered Heathcliff. 'Take the candle, and go
where you please. I shall join you directly. Keep out of the yard,
though, the dogs are unchained; and the house-Juno mounts sentinel
there, and-nay, you can only ramble about the steps and passages. But,
away with you! I'll come in two minutes!'