His new source of trouble sprang from the not anticipated misfortune of Isabella Linton evincing a sudden and irresistible attraction towards the tolerated guest. She was at that time a charming young lady of eighteen; infantile in manners, though possessed of keen wit, keen feelings, and a keen temper, too, if irritated. Leaving aside the degradation of an alliance with a nameless man, and the possible fact that his property, in default of heirs male, might pass into such a ones power, he had sense to comprehend Heathcliffs disposition: to know that, though his exterior was altered, his mind was unchangeable and unchanged. And he dreaded that mind: it revolted him: he shrank forebodingly from the idea of committing Isabella to its keeping. He would have recoiled still more had he been aware that her attachment rose unsolicited, and was bestowed where it awakened no reciprocation of sentiment; for the minute he discovered its existence he laid the blame on Heathcliffs deliberate designing.
Linton peremptorily insisted that she should get to bed; and, having scolded her heartily, threatened to send for the doctor
We had all remarked, during some time, that Miss Linton fretted and pined over something. She grew cross and wearisome; snapping at and teasing Catherine continually, at the imminent risk of exhausting her limited patience. We excused her, to a certain extent, on the plea of ill-health: she was dwindling and fading before our eyes. But one day, when she had been peculiarly wayward, rejecting her breakfast, complaining that the servants did not do what she told them; that the mistress would allow her to be nothing in the house, and Edgar neglected her; that she had caught a cold with the doors being left open, and we let the parlour fire go out on purpose to vex her, with a hundred yet more frivolous accusations, Mrs. Mention of Kenneth caused her to exclaim, instantly, that her health was perfect, and it was only Catherines harshness which made her unhappy.
“How can you say I am harsh, you nazed at the unreasonable assertion. “You are surely losing your reason. When have I been harsh, tell me?”
Theres my picture: and Im his friend-so much so, that had he thought seriously to catch you, I should, perhaps, have held my tongue, and let you fall into his trap
“In our walk along the moor: you told me to ramble where I pleased, while you sauntered on with Mr. Heathcliff!”
“And thats your notion of harshness?” said Catherine, laughing. “It was no hint that your company was superfluous; we didnt care whether you kept with us or not; I merely thought Heathcliffs talk would have nothing entertaining for your ears.”
“Is she sane?” asked Mrs. Linton, appealing to me. “Ill repeat our conversation, word for word, Isabella; and you point out any charm it could have had for you.”
“You are an impertinent little monkey!” exclaimed Mrs. Linton, in surprise. “But Ill not believe this idiocy! It is impossible that you can covet the admiration of Heathcliff-that you consider him an agreeable person! I hope I have misunderstood you, Isabella?”
“No, you have not,” said the infatuated girl. “I love him more than ever you loved Edgar, and he might love me, if you would let him!”
“I wouldnt be you for a kingdom, then!” Catherine declared, emphatically: and she seemed to speak sincerely. “Nelly, help me to convince her of her madness. Tell her what Heathcliff is: an unreclaimed creature, without refinement, without cultivation; an arid wilderness of furze and whinstone. Id as soon put that little canary into the park on a winters day, as recommend you to bestow your heart on him! It is deplorable ignorance of his character, child, and nothing else, which makes that dream enter your head. Pray, dont imagine that he conceals depths of benevolence and affection beneath a stern exterior! Hes not a rough diamond-a pearl-containing oyster of a rustic: hes a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man. I never say to him, ‘Let this or that enemy alone, because it would be ungenerous or cruel to harm them; I say, ‘Let them alone, because I should hate them to be wronged: and hed crush you like a sparrows egg, Isabella, if he found you a troublesome charge. I know he couldnt love a Linton; and yet hed be quite capable of marrying your fortune and expectations: avarice is growing with him a besetting sin. ”