Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights, 1847
Death of Catherine:
With straining eagerness Catherine gazed towards the
entrance of her chamber. He did not hit the right room directly; she
motioned me to admit him; but he found it out, ere I could reach the
door, and in a stride or two was at her side, and had her grasped in
He neither spoke nor loosed his hold for some five
minutes, during which period he bestowed more kisses that ever he
gave in his life before, I dare say: but then my mistress had kissed
his first, and I plainly saw that he could hardly bear, for
downright agony, to look into her face! The same conviction had
stricken him as me, from the instant he beheld her, that there was
no prospect of ultimate recovery — she was fated, sure to die.
"Oh Cathy! Oh, my life! How can I bear it?" was the
first sentence he uttered, in a tone that did not seek to disguise
And now he stared at her so earnestly that I thought
the very intensity of his gaze would bring tears into his eyes; but
they burned with anguish, they did not melt.
"What now?" said Catherine, leaning back, and
returning his look with a suddenly clouded brow — her humour was a
mere vane for constantly varying caprices. "You and Edgar have
broken my heart, Heathcliff! And you both come to bewail the deed to
me, as if you were the people to be pitied! I shall not pity you,
not I. You have killed me — and thriven on it, I think. How strong
you are! How many years do you mean to live after I am gone?"
Heathcliff had knelt on one knee to embrace her; he
attempted to rise, but she seized his hair, and kept him down.
"I wish I could hold you," she continued, bitterly,
"till we were both dead! I shouldn’t care what you suffered. I care
nothing for your suffering. Why shouldn’t you suffer? I do! Will you
forget me? Will you be happy when I am in the earth? Will you say
twenty years hence, ‘that’s the grave of Catherine Earnshaw. I loved
her long ago, and was wretched to lose her; but it is past. I’ve
loved many others since; my children are dearer to me than she was,
and, at death, I shall not rejoice that I am going to her, I shall
be sorry that I must leave them!’ Will you say so, Heathcliff?"
"Don’t torture me till I’m as mad as yourself,"
cried he, wrenching his head free, and grinding his teeth.
The two, to a cool spectator, made a strange and
fearful picture. Well might Catherine deem that heaven would be a
land of exile to her, unless with her mortal body she cast away her
mortal character also. Her present countenance had a wild
vindictiveness in its white cheek, and a bloodless lip and
scintillating eye; and she retained in her closed fingers a portion
of the locks she had been grasping. As to her companion, while
raising himself with one hand, he had taken her arm with the other;
and so inadequate was his stock of gentleness to the requirement of
her condition, that on his letting go I saw four distinct
impressions left blue in the colourless skin.
"You are possessed with a devil," he pursued
savagely, "to talk in that manner to me when you are dying? Do you
reflect that all those words will be branded in my memory, and
eating deeper eternally after you have left me? You know you lie to
say I have killed you, and, Catherine, you know that I could as soon
forget you as my existence! Is it not sufficient for your infernal
selfishness, that while you are at peace I shall writhe in the
torments of hell?"
"I shall not be at peace," moaned Catherine,
recalled to a sense of physical weakness by the violent, unequal
throbbing of her heart, which beat visibly and audibly under this
excess of agitation.
She said nothing further till the paroxysm was over;
then she continue, more kindly —
I’m not wishing you greater torment than I have, Heathcliff. I only wish us never to be parted: and should a word of
mine distress you hereafter, think I feel the same distress
underground, and for my own sake, forgive me! Come here and kneel
down again! You never harmed me in your life. Nay, if you nurse
anger, that will be worse to remember than my harsh words! Won’t you
come here again? Do!"
Heathcliff went to the back of her chair, and leant
over, but not far enough as to let her see his face, which was livid
with emotion. She bent round to look at him; he would not permit it;
turning abruptly, he walked to the fireplace, where he stood,
silent, with his back towards us.
Mrs. Linton’s glance followed him suspiciously:
every movement woke a new sentiment in her. After a pause, and a
prolonged gaze, she resumed, addressing me in accents of indignant
"Oh, you see, Nelly, he would not relent a moment to
keep me out of the grave. That is how I’m loved! Well, never mind.
That is not my Heathcliff. I shall love mine yet; and take him with
me — he’s my soul. And," she added musingly, "the thing that irks me
most is this shattered prison, after all. I’m tired, tired of being
enclosed here. I’m wearying to escape to that glorious world, and to
be always there: not seeing it dimly through tears, and yearning for
it through the walls of an aching heart, but really with it, and in
it. Nelly, you think you are better and more fortunate than I, in
full health and strength; you are sorry for me — very soon that will
be altered. I shall be sorry for you.
I shall be incomparably beyond and above you all. I
wonder he won’t be near me!" She went on to herself. "I thought he
wished it. Heathcliff, dear! You should not be sullen now. Do come
to me, Heathcliff."
In her eagerness she rose and supported herself on
the arm of the chair. At that earnest appeal he turned to her,
looking absolutely desperate. His eyes wide, and wet at last,
flashed fiercely on her; his breast heaved convulsively. An instant
they held asunder, and then how they met I hardly saw, but Catherine
made a spring, and he caught her, and they were locked in an embrace
from which I thought my mistress would never be released alive — in
fact, to my eyes, she seemed directly insensible. He flung himself
into the nearest seat, and on my approaching hurriedly to ascertain
if she had fainted, he gnashed at me, and foamed like a mad dog, and
gathered her to him with greedy jealousy. I did not feel as if I
were in the company of a creature of my own species; it appeared
that he would not understand, though I spoke to him; so I stood off,
and held my tongue, in great perplexity.
A movement of Catherine’s relieved me a little
presently — she put up her hand to clasp his neck, and bring her
cheek to his as he held her; while he, in return, covered her in
frantic caresses, said wildly —
"You teach me how cruel you’ve been — cruel and
false. Why did you despise me? Why did you betray your own heart,
Cathy? I have not one word of comfort. You deserve this. You have
killed yourself. Yes, you may kiss me, and cry, and wring out my
kisses and tears; they’ll blight you — they’ll damn you. You loved
me — then what right had you to leave me? What right — answer me—
for the poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery, and
degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict
would have parted us, you, of your own will, did it. I have not
broken your heart — you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have
broken mine. So much the worse for me, that I am strong. Do I want
to live? What kind of living will it be when you — oh, God! Would
you like to live with your soul in the grave?"
"Let me alone. Let me alone," sobbed Catherine. "If
I’ve done wrong, I’m dying for it. It is enough! You left me too —
but I won’t upbraid you! I forgive you. Forgive me!"
"It is hard to forgive, and to look at those eyes,
and feel those wasted hands," he answered. "Kiss me again; and don’t
let me see your eyes! I forgive what you have done to me. I love my
murderer — but yours! How can I?"
They were silent — their faces hid against each
other, and washed by each other’s tears. At least, I suppose the
weeping was on both sides; as it seemed Heathcliff could weep on a
great occasion like this.
I grew very uncomfortable, meanwhile; for the
afternoon wore away fast, the man whom I have sent off returned from
his errand, and I could distinguish, by the shine of the westering
sun up the valley, a concourse thickening outside Gimmerton chapel
"Service is over," I announced. "My master will be
here in half and hour."
Heathcliff groaned a curse, and strained Catherine
closer; she never moved.
Ere long I perceived a group of servants passing up
the road towards the kitchen wing. Mr. Linton was not far behind; he
opened the gate himself and sauntered slowly, probably enjoying the
lovely afternoon that breathed as soft as summer.
"Now here he is," I exclaimed. "For Heaven’s sake,
hurry down! You’ll not meet anyone on the front stairs. Do be quick;
and stay among the trees till he is fairly in."
"I must go Cathy," said Heathcliff, seeking to
extricate himself from his companion’s arms. "But, if I live, I’ll
see you again before you are asleep. I won’t stray five yards from
"You must not go!" she answered, holding him as
firmly as her strength allowed. "You shall not, I tell you."
"For one hour," he pleaded, earnestly.
"Not for one minute," she replied.
"I must — Linton will be up immediately," persisted
the alarmed intruder.
He would have risen, and unfixed her fingers by the
act — she clung fast, gasping; there was mad resolution in her face.
"No!" she shrieked. "Oh, don’t, don’t go. It is the
last time! Edgar will not hurt us. Heathcliff, I shall die! I shall
"Damn the fool! There he is," cried Heathcliff,
sinking back into his seat. "Hush, my darling! Hush, hush,
Catherine! I’ll stay. If he shot me so, I’d expire with a blessing
on my lips."
And there they were fast again. I heard my master
mounting the stairs — the cold sweat ran form my forehead; I was
"Are you going to listen to her ravings?" I said,
passionately. "She does not know what she says. Will you ruin her,
because she has not the wit to help herself? Get up! You could be
free instantly. That is the most diabolical deed that you ever did.
We are done for — master, mistress, and servant."
I wrung my hands, and cried out, and Mr. Linton
hastened his step at the noise. In the midst of my agitation, I was
sincerely glad to observe that Catherine’s arms had fallen relaxed,
and her head hung down.
"She’s fainted, or dead," I thought; "so much the
better. Far better that she be dead, than lingering a burden and a
misery-maker to all about her."
Edgar sprang to his unbidden guest, blanched with
astonishment and rage. What he meant to do, I cannot tell; however,
the other stopped all demonstrations, at once, by placing the
lifeless-looking form in his arms.
"Look there!" he said. "Unless you be a fiend, help
her first — then you shall speak to me!"
He walked into the parlour, and sat down. Mr. Linton
summoned me, and with great difficulty, and after resorting to many
means, we managed to restore her to sensation; but she was all
bewildered; she sighed, and moaned, and knew nobody. Edgar, in his
anxiety for her, forgot her hated friend. I did not. I went, at the
earliest opportunity, and besought him to depart, affirming that
Catherine was better, and he should hear from me in the morning, how
she passed the night.
"I shall not refuse to go out of doors," he
answered, "but I shall stay in the garden — and, Nelly, mind you
keep your word tomorrow. I shall be under those larch trees. Mind!
Or I pay another visit, whether Linton be in or not."
He sent a rapid glance through the half-open door of
the chamber, and, ascertaining that what I stated was apparently
true, delivered the house of his luckless presence.
Edgar Linton had his head laid on the pillow, and his eyes shut.
His young and fair features were almost as deathlike as those of the
form beside him, and almost as fixed — but his was the hush of
exhausted anguish, and hers of perfect peace. Her brow was smooth,
her lids closed, her lips wearing the expression of a smile — no
angel in heaven could be more beautiful than she appeared. And I
partook of the infinite calm in which she lay; my mind was never in
a holier frame than while I gazed on the untroubled image of Devine
rest. I instinctively echoed the words she had uttered a few hours
before: "Incomparably beyond and above us all! Whether still on
earth or now in heaven, her spirit is a home with God!"