فصل 18

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فصل 18

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Heathcliff s end

I was delighted to come back to the Heights, and 1801-2 hoped I could make Cathy’s life more comfortable. But she was restless, and complained of loneliness. At first she continued to annoy Hareton, by laughing at him, but after a while she decided she really wanted him as a friend. She apologized for being rude to him, and offered to teach him everything she knew. From that moment on, the two cousins have always been together, studying. Hareton has a lot to learn, and Cathy is not the most patient of teachers. But what they have in common is their love for each other. You see, Mr Lockwood, it was easy enough to win Cathy’s heart. But now I’m glad you didn’t try. I’ll be the happiest woman in England when those two marry!

Heathcliff noticed little of what was happening around him, and would never have been aware of the cousins’ feelings, if it hadn’t been for Joseph. In the middle of our lunch one day, the old man rushed into the room, shaking with anger.

i’ll have to leave! I wanted to die here, where I’ve been a servant for sixty years! But now she’s taken my garden from me! She’s stolen the boy’s soul, master! I can’t bear it!’ is the fool drunk?’ asked Heathcliff. ‘Can you explain this, Hareton?’

‘I’ve pulled up two or three of his fruit-trees,’ confessed Hareton, ‘but I’ll put them back again.’

it was my fault,’ added Cathy bravely. ‘I asked him to do it. We wanted to plant some flowers there.’

‘Who the devil gave you permission?’ growled Heathcliff. ‘You should let me have a bit of garden, as you’ve taken all my land!’ replied Cathy sharply. ‘And you’ve taken Hareton’s land too! He and I are friends now! I’ll tell him about you!’ The master stood up, staring at her fiercely.

‘Out of the room, wicked girl!’ he shouted, i’ll kill you if I get near you!’

if you hit me, Hareton will hit you. He won’t obey you any more, and soon he’ll hate you as much as I do!’

‘You’d better leave, Cathy,’ whispered Hareton urgently. ‘I won’t quarrel with Mr Heathcliff.’

But it was too late. I was sure Heathcliff was going to hit her.

He took hold of her, one strong hand in her hair and the other raised over her head. But when he looked into her face, his anger suddenly disappeared, and he let his arm fall to his side. He sat heavily down in his chair and put his hand over his eyes for a moment. We all stared at him.

‘You must learn not to make me angry,’ he said, trying to be calm. ‘Go away, all of you! Leave me alone!’ A little later he went out, saying he would return in the evening.

As darkness fell, Cathy and Hareton were busy at their studies in the kitchen. I was sitting with them, happy to see them helping each other so well. I feel they’re almost my children, Mr Lockwood, and I’m very proud of them. As the master entered the house, he had a full view of us three. They lifted their eyes to meet his. Perhaps you haven’t noticed it, but their eyes are very similar, and they are exactly like those of Catherine Earnshaw. Mr Heathcliff stopped and stared, then looked away. At a sign from me, Cathy and Hareton went quietly out into the garden, leaving me alone with Mr Heathcliff.

‘It’s silly, isn’t it, Ellen,’ he muttered, ‘that I have worked all my life to destroy these two families, the Earnshaws and the Lintons. I’ve got their money and their land. Now I can take my final revenge on the last Earnshaw and the last Linton, I no longer want to! There’s a strange change coming in my life. I’m in its shadow. I’m so little interested in daily events that I even forget to eat and drink. I don’t want to see those two, that’s why I don’t care if they spend time together. She only makes me angry. And he looks so like Catherine! But everything reminds me of Catherine! In every cloud, in every tree I see her face! The whole world reminds me that she was here once, and I have lost her!’ ‘You don’t feel ill, sir, do you? Are you afraid of death?’

‘I’m not ill, Ellen, and I’m not afraid to die. But I can’t continue like this! I have to remind myself to breathe - almost to remind my heart to beat! I have a single wish, for something my whole body and heart and brain have wanted for so long! Oh God! It’s a long fight! 1 wish it were finished!’ For some days after that, Mr Heathcliff avoided meeting us at meals. He ate less and less. Late one night I heard him leave the house. He did not return until the morning. When he came in, I noticed a change in his expression. There was a strange, wild happiness in his face, although he was pale and trembling.

‘Will you have some breakfast, sir?’ I asked.

‘No, I’m not hungry,’ he answered.

‘I don’t think you should stay outside at night, sir. You’ll catch a bad cold or a fever!’

‘Leave me alone, Ellen,’ he replied.

I began to worry about him. He was strong and healthy, but a man must eat in order to live. For the next three days he ate nothing. At every meal the food lay untouched on the plate in front of him. He did not look at the food, or at us. He seemed to be looking at something quite close to him, something we could not see. His fierce black eyes followed it with such eager interest that he sometimes stopped breathing for as much as half a minute.

He did not sleep either. For three days he had spent the night in Catherine Earnshaw’s old bedroom, and I could hear him walking up and down, and talking, calling, crying all night.

One morning I managed to speak to him, and make him listen to me. ‘Mr Heathcliff, you must have some food and sleep. Look at yourself in the mirror! You look ill and tired.’

‘It’s not my fault that I can’t eat or rest. You wouldn’t tell a drowning man to rest when he can see the shore! I’m close to what I’ve wanted for eighteen years, very close! But my soul’s happiness is killing my body!’ it’s a strange kind of happiness, master. Take my advice, and pray to God to forgive you for what you’ve done wrong in the past, if you think you’re going to die.’

‘Thank you, Ellen, you’ve reminded me of something. It’s the way I want to be buried. My coffin will be carried to the churchyard in the evening. You and Hareton will be present, nobody else. And make sure my orders about the two coffins are obeyed! I want no ceremony, or words from the Bible -1 don’t believe in any of that.’ He spent the next night, and the next day, in Catherine’s room, muttering and sobbing all the time. I sent for Dr Kenneth, but the door was locked, so the doctor could not see him. The following night was very wet, and in the morning as I walked in the garden, I noticed that the bedroom window was wide open.

‘He must be very wet if he’s in bed,’ I thought, ‘the bed is so close to the window. I’ll go and look.’ I found another key which fitted the lock, and opened the door. Mr Heathcliff was there in bed, lying on his back. His eyes were staring at me, so eagerly and fiercely, and he seemed to be smiling! His face and clothes were wet from the rain, and he did not move. I realized he was dead!

I closed the window. I combed his long, black hair from his forehead. I tried to close his eyes, but they would not shut. Suddenly frightened, I called for Joseph. The old servant came at once, but refused to touch the body.

‘Ah, the devil’s taken his soul! I warned him that would happen!’ he cried. ‘You see how wicked he is, smiling at death! But thank God Hareton Earnshaw will have the house and land

now, that he should have inherited from his father!’ And he went down on his knees to pray.

Hareton was, in fact, the only one who was sad at Heathcliff’s death. He and I were present at the burial. Heathcliff was buried next to Catherine’s grave, as he had wished. As we were not sure of his age or anything else about him, there is only one word on his gravestone - Heathcliff. The villagers are very frightened of his ghost. They say he often haunts the churchyard and the moors.

Hareton and Cathy will be married on New Year’s Day, and they’ll move to the Grange. I’ll be their housekeeper. Joseph will take care of Wuthering Heights, but most of the rooms here won’t be used again.

You’ll pass the churchyard, Mr Lockwood, on your way back to the Grange, and you’ll see the three gravestones close to the moor. Catherine’s, the middle one, is old now, and half buried in plants which have grown over it. On one side is Edgar Linton’s, and on the other is Heathcliff s new one. If you stay there a moment, and watch the insects flying in the warm summer air, and listen to the soft wind breathing through the grass, you’ll understand how quietly they rest, the sleepers in that quiet earth.

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