Posted on May 1, 2022
“Give over with that baby-work!” I interrupted, dragging the pillow away, and turning the holes towards the mattress, for she was removing its contents by handfuls. “Lie down and shut your eyes: youre wandering. Theres a mess! ”
“I see in you, Nelly,” she continued dreamily, “an aged woman: you have grey hair and bent shoulders. This bed is the fairy cave under Penistone Crags, and you are gathering elf-bolts to hurt our heifers; pretending, while I am near, that they are only locks of wool. Im not wandering: youre mistaken, or else I should believe you really were that withered hag, and I should think I was under Penistone Crags; and Im conscious its night, and there are two candles on the table making the black press shine like jet.”
“Theres no press in the room, and never was,” said I, resuming my seat, and looping up the curtain that I might watch her.
And say what I could, I was incapable of making her comprehend it to be her own; so I rose and covered it with a shawl.
Thats what youll come to fifty years hence: I know you are not so now
“Its behind there still!” she pursued, anxiously. “And it stirred. I hope it will not come out when you are gone! Oh! Nelly, the room is haunted! Im afraid of being alone!”
I took her hand in mine, and bid her be composed; for a succession of shudders convulsed her frame, and she would keep straining her gaze towards the glass.
Who is it?
Her fingers clutched the clothes, and gathered them over her eyes. I attempted to steal to the door with an intention of calling her husband; but I was summoned back by a piercing shriek-the shawl had dropped from the frame.
“Why, what is the matter?” cried I. “Who is coward now? Wake up! That is the glass-the mirror, Mrs. Linton; and you see yourself in it, and there am I too by your side.”
Trembling and bewildered, she held me fast, but the horror gradually passed from her countenance; its paleness gave place to a glow of shame.
“Oh, dear! I thought I was at home,” she sighed. “I thought I was lying in my chamber at Wuthering Heights. Because Im weak, my brain got confused, and I screamed unconsciously. Dont say anything; but stay with me. I dread sleeping: my dreams appal me.”
“A sound sleep would do you good, maam,” I answered: “and I hope this suffering will prevent your trying starving again.”
“Oh, if I were but in my own bed in the old house!” she went on bitterly, wringing her hands. “And that wind sounding in the firs by the lattice. Do let me feel it-it comes straight down the moor-do let me have one breath!”
To pacify her I held the casement ajar a few seconds. A cold blast rushed through; I closed it, and returned to my post. She lay still now, her face bathed in tears. Exhaustion of body had entirely subdued her spirit: our fiery Catherine was no better than a wailing child.
“Well, it seems a weary number of hours,” she muttered doubtfully: “it must be more. I remember being in the parlour after they had quarrelled, and Edgar being cruelly provoking, and me running into this room desperate. As soon as ever I had barred the door, utter blackness overwhelmed me, and I fell on the floor. I couldnt explain to Edgar how certain I felt of having a fit, or going raging mad, if he persisted in teasing me! I had no command of tongue, or brain, and he did not guess my agony, perhaps: it barely left me sense to try to escape from him and his voice. Before I recovered sufficiently to see and hear, it began to be dawn, and, Nelly, Ill tell you what I thought, and what has kept recurring and recurring till I feared for my reason. I thought as I lay there, with my head against that table leg, and my eyes dimly discerning the grey square of the window, that I was enclosed in the oak-panelled bed at home; and my heart ached with some great grief which, just waking, I could not recollect. I pondered, and worried myself to discover what it could be, and, most strangely, the whole last seven years of my life grew a blank! I did not recall that they had been at all. I was a child; my father was just buried, and my misery arose from the separation that Hindley had ordered between me and Heathcliff. I was laid alone, for the first time; and, rousing from a dismal doze after a night of weeping, I lifted my hand to push the panels aside: it struck the table-top! I swept it along the carpet, and then memory burst in: my late anguish was swallowed in a paroxysm of despair. I cannot say why I felt so wildly wretched: it must have been temporary derangement; for there is scarcely cause. But, supposing at twelve years old I had been wrenched from the Heights, and every early association, and my all in all, as Heathcliff was at that time, and been converted at a stroke into Mrs. Linton, the lady of Thrushcross Grange, and the wife of a stranger: an exile, and outcast, thenceforth, from what had been my world. You may fancy a glimpse of the abyss where I grovelled! Shake your head as you will, Nelly, you have helped to unsettle me! You should have spoken to Edgar, indeed you should, and compelled him to leave me quiet! Oh, Im burning! I wish I were out of doors! I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy, and free; and l I so changed? why does my blood rush into a hell of tumult at a few words? Im sure I should be myself were I once among the heather on those hills. Open the window again wide: fasten it open! Quick, why dont you move?”