"Are you alone, Nelly?" The small, quiet, and soft whisper glued me to the bench as soon as I heard it. I was originally to go to the stable and work, but as soon as I heard Cathy's secretive whisper I knew I would do no such thing.
She was seeking Ellen, now, for keeping her secrets? How changed she was! Before her stay at the Grange she would never had done so, at least not without revealing such secrets to me before even thinking of seeking to tell another person. Yet now, Ellen was her first choice of a keeper? How quickly things change…
"Where's Heathcliff?" I heard Cathy ask Nelly. Her nervous tone revealed everything to me – she was not seeking me out, but seeking to ensure that I was not around! My heart clenched at the realization. I faintly heard Ellen tell her that I was at the stable, like I truly should be, and felt an enormous want, no, need, to hear what Cathy had to speak of that was not meant for my ears. To think there would be something that she would be unable to speak to me! Me, who had been her silent and faithful confidant for as long as either of us could remember! Cathy did not say anything immediately, however, and just as I thought she had decided against confiding in Nelly, I heard what could be nearly considered a cry from the kitchen.
"Oh, dear! I'm very unhappy!" Her tone, the clear sadness and emotion buried within her sweet voice, was as honest as it ever was. She was unhappy. She was! I faintly heard Ellen replying to her confession in an almost scolding manner, as if she did not believe Cathy's words. I knew they were true, however.
Cathy had never claimed to be unhappy before. Upset, yes, both of us had plenty of reasons and occasions for that, but never unhappy. So long as we were both together, I always believed, we could be at least content, even if it were under the cruel reign of Hindley's. That had been a truth that I had always kept as comfort. It was why I never reacted to any of the mistreatments I received – because I had Cathy and knew that together we would be fine, content, even happy.
And yet, I was not so sure of that any longer. Ever since returning from the Grange, Cathy acted different, spoke different, even felt different. She now felt the need to comment on my filth, sought the company of the pathetic Linton's, and even complained of my lack of conversation! Before, she was perfectly satisfied with my silent company and filth, and now it appeared almost as if I were beneath her, as if I was not enough to satisfy her or accompany her. I felt the fear that wandered in the back of my mind for weeks now resurge – could it be that I was no longer enough and she was seeking for a new companion? My body trembled at the thought and yet what I heard from the kitchen did nothing do dissuade my fears:
"…today, Edgar Linton has asked me to marry him, and I've given him an answer. Now, before I tell you whether it was a consent or denial, you tell me which it ought to have been." I could barely breathe as I heard such a thing. Please, Cathy, tell me it was denial! Tell me you did not accept that fool!
I entirely ignored all of their words that did not relate to the nature of Cathy's answer to the proposal. What was it, Cathy? What was it? And then I heard it, the worst possible words I could possibly have heard at such a moment:
"I accepted him, Nelly. Be quick, and say whether I was wrong!" Wrong, wrong, wrong! Very wrong! An acceptance… That was worse than an arrow or a gunshot to the heart. I wanted to leave at that moment, at that instance, and never return. But I knew Ellen and knew she would not simply leave the matter as it was. And I didn't want to either. I wanted to know. Why? Why, Cathy, did you accept that little mama's boy?
"First and foremost, do you love Mr. Edgar?" I listened intently to her answer.
"Who can help it? Of course I do" Torn and beaten, it appeared as if my heart was now to be stomped on.
"Why do you love him, Miss Cathy?" Yes, a very good question. Why, Cathy? Why? You certainly did not think highly of him before.
"Nonsense, I do—that's sufficient." Nonsense is to say that that is sufficient. Why?
"By no means; you must say why?"
"Well, because he is handsome, and pleasant to be with." Cathy would never love someone due to something so silly. Won't you give me the real reason?
"And because he is young and cheerful." That is no reason.
"And because he loves me." The biggest lie of all! For if loving you determined whether you loved back, you would not even take one glance at Linton and would instead focus entirely on me – because no one would ever love Catherine Earnshaw as I did and she knew this perfectly well.
"And he will be rich, and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighbourhood, and I shall be proud of having such a husband." At hearing this, I believe my head went blank for quite some time. Could it possibly be that five weeks were enough to change a person so? Money and influence never had been of any importance to Cathy. Yet now she gave it as a reason to marry Linton? Could it be?
Never before had I doubted Cathy's affections. Despite neither having ever said it out loud, I loved her and she loved me. Both of us knew that. Our relationship and actions spoke much louder than any stupid words ever would. I never once doubted Cathy, never once thought of our separation… Even after she changed, after she returned to the house, I never once thought things would drastically change. We were rather distant at the moment, but I always saw it as something temporary, something that would gradually disappear as she remembered how silly and idiotic the Lintons were. But it seems like I was wrong. Yet a small hope still remained in me, for all she uttered so far was silly nonsense – she still did not convince me of her affections for him!
"…I shall marry him: and yet you have not told me whether I'm right." If you were to ask me, I'd certainly tell you how wrong you are, Cathy! To be so doubtful, though, just proved how silly this all was. How wrong it was.
"Perfectly right; if people be right to marry only for the present. And now, let us hear what you are unhappy about. Your brother will be pleased; the old lady and gentleman will not object, I think; you will escape from a disorderly, comfortless home into a wealthy, respectable one; and you love Edgar, and Edgar loves you. All seems smooth and easy: where is the obstacle?" Again I paid enormous attention to this.
"Here! And here! in whichever place the soul lives. In my soul and in my heart, I'm convinced I'm wrong!" Then why carry on with something so wrong, then? Cathy, do speak rationally!
"'It's my secret. But if you will not mock at me, I'll explain it: I can't do it distinctly; but I'll give you a feeling of how I feel." I focused on her next words, yet she said nothing of importance. In fact, the two began to argue – for Cathy wished to speak of a dream and Nelly wished to hear none of it.
What did I care for this anyhow? The facts were already laid painfully bare – Cathy was to marry Linton. What good was left for me in Wuthering Heights, then? All that kept me from abandoning the horrid cage was Cathy and now she, of her own will, discarded me. Without her, there was no purpose, no reason for me to remain here.
"If I were in heaven, Nelly, I should be extremely miserable." Her words interrupted my train of thought, which was dangerously becoming darker and darker as the conversation went on. I began to pay attention once more, but again the two began to argue over the topic of dreams. It was as if both were doing it on purpose, delaying the answers and torturing me for a longer and longer period of time. I was about to ignore them once again, I was even debating whether I should not just leave at that moment, when Cathy again raised her voice.
"This is nothing," She began, and her voice was all I focused on, trembling and nervous as I was. I felt she was going to say something important. "I was only going to say that heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy. That will do to explain my secret, as well as the other. I've no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn't have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now–"
My heart could not take such abuse any longer. Whatever hope I had kept within me was now torn and utterly destroyed. Anyone, any person, being, god, or whatever, could have spoken badly about me and I would have no reaction to offer. But not Cathy, not her. She was the one ally I had, the one friend, the one love, the one person I completely and foolishly trusted with my heart and soul. Abuse from her lips was worse than hell itself. So I left – I left the kitchen, left Wuthering Heights, left the moors.
Cathy wished for a man of influence, power, and wealth. I would give her all of that and make her regret her choice. Not only her, I would make all who looked down on or abused me regret their actions. For what good was there left in the world for me? I had nothing.