Hello, I hope you enjoy reading my first Wuthering Heights fanfic! I don't own any of the characters/plot and I'm not making any profit from my story. Please r&r! :-)
The window rattled impatiently within its casement, for all the world as though motivated by the impulsiveness of his heart's twin. Heathcliff moved with a startling alacrity, duly lent to him by months of frayed nerves and delusions, and in three swift strides he was by the window. The fine mist outside obstructed his view rendering the atmoshere like a pane of glass that has been breathed upon by some malign force, but he could discern no numinous signs of Cathy's presence, no imploring ashen face with wasted eyes pleading to return to her home.
Bitter memories blended with a keen sense of disillusion, reproachful tears stung his eyes and vile imprecations fell from his lips as he thought about the cursed tenant Lockwood, if only it had it been he; Heathcliff, who had beheld his adored Cathy he was sure his felicity would have exceeded all earthly limits. He knew he would never again behold her beloved countenance, but instead be forced to endure the whispers of her presence. To relinquish his life, extinguish his senses would be to forget that Cathy had once existed, and so he clung with an even greater tenacity to his miserable existence rather than end the memories connected with each sacred object that Cathy had once touched or beheld.
Recently, it was impossible for Heathcliff to be untroubled by loathsome memories of Thrushcross Grange, which caused a disquietude in his soul because it was connected to that fateful meeting with his rival to Cathy's affections, Edgar Linton. He remembered the house had been aglow with the warm blush of candlelight, the cosy furniture and roaring fire bespeaking a life of comfort and plenty. He had stolen a furtive glance at Cathy, and saw that her face was animated with good-humour as though her heart was kindled by the glow of the family scene. Cathy's fall had awakened the family from their peaceful tea-time and sent them bustling towards the origin of the terrible outburst. Heathcliff was completely forgotten in their rapturous reception of their neighbour Miss Catherine Earnshaw, they cooed over her and each sought to outdo the other in making her feel comfortable. Isabella Linon's expression was of avid interest, for Cathy was as alien in her rags to the Linton's world as their finery were to hers.
Heathcliff perceived Linton's look of adoration directed at Cathy and his heart sank a little at having a rival to challenge him for Cathy's love, however, this thought subsided gradually along with his anger; for after all, could Cathy countenance a match with one so pale and trembling? Edgar's timid expression gave his face the look of one who is constantly about to burst into tears. Heathcliff felt confident that this meeting was only an glitch in an otherwise tranquil landscape, and that as soon as they reached the Heights they would revert back to their usual past-time of causing as much trouble as possible for the adults (whom they despised), and playing their games of make-believe.
His one friend and ally seemed remote to him in all her new splendour, she had even strayed into the conventions of politeness, acting like the adults who chided him for his propensity towards swearing, fighting and general shabbiness of appearance. He was plunged from his solitary station of importance, Cathy's best friend and treasured companion, to servile interloper clinging to the edges of the Earnshaw family, unwanted and unloved, by a slender thread composed of his gratitude towards Mr. Earnshaw his rescuer and Hindley's aversion to acting against his late father's wishes, although it was clear from his cruelty and neglect that he despised Heathcliff. Heathcliff took Cathy's kindly meant words about his appearance as a rebuke and from then on sought no company but his own. In his mind he was determined to revenge himself on those he felt had treated him ill, spurning him and making him feel a burden to the Earnshaw's hospitality. A lightening bolt that tore across the turbulent skies recalled Heathcliff to the present as it briefly illumined the inscriptions made by Cathy on the window ledge in her former room.
A familiar stab of resentment seized his heart at the inscription 'Catherine Linton', along with the urge to obliterate Linton's name altogether, as if to efface the name would purge the rage he felt for that man who was beneath his pity.
Alas, my master's crazed brain sought frantically for his favourite – distorting the mundane sounds of the household into fantastical notions, the leaves that sighed against the widowpane whispered his name, the nimbus of light that shone under a door from an unspent candle was her ghost. I trembled with renewed fear each time his hopes were dashed, the material world railing against his dormant expectation that his favoured one was close at hand. Even the rain which battered the Heights, as no doubt it had done for centuries, became an inducement to believe in an unseen world of spirits and wandering souls. Leaden clouds gathered apace outside, portending rain as they rumbled ominously in the distance. The disconcerting noise of near thunder made my master start instinctively, chilling him to his very bones as it broke the silence that shrouded the house.
He was a different man after mistress Cathy died, even the erstwhile pleasure he had taken in haranguing the young Cathy when she had lived at the Heights with Hareton had lost its savour towards the end, as his senses became dulled by the pain of his own sombre contemplations. His equanimity, albeit a capricious one at best had been upset and I feared the change in my master's character - from the strong gentleman he was to this man who would jump at a shadow, and for all his moroseness I wished the old Heathcliff would return. I had long ago ceased to inquire into the state of my master's mind, afraid of the despondency that engulfed him, further clouding his brooding visage.
It seemed that my master was in a constant state of enmity, persisting since his childhood, with himself and every other soul in this world. For Heathcliff had long regarded the Heights as a place akin to a prison, Hareton was cast in the role of tyrant, not forgetting the grumbling, shuffling Joseph whose rare moments of loquaciousness were confined (it seemed to Heathcliff) to complaining solely about his and Cathy's behaviour, presaging doomed ends for them all and vaunting his own moral superiority, excluding any reproach of Hareton, much to Heathcliff's disdain.
I sought to allay his fears about my former mistress and wake him from the solitary world he now inhabited. I awaited an opportune moment to converse with him, for I was certain he would want to know about a conversation that passed between Cathy and I many years ago. I found him in Cathy's former room engrossed in his melancholy, staring at the inscriptions she had made. He barely lifted his eyes sensing my approach.
'Mr Heathcliff, there is something that is weighing on my conscience...' I began tentatively, knowing that my master was never a biddable man and prone to sudden bursts of choler. Heathcliff turned his dark eyes on me and with his reply consciously set about making me feel more uneasy, sensing the trepidation with which I spoke.
'Ah, and you wish to divest yourself of this moral burden, my good woman?' smirked my master, who ever found amusement in seeing the discomfiture of others. 'Is there a spot on Nelly Dean's impeccable soul? Has she something to absolve, afraid that heaven itself will renege on its promise of salvation and close its gates against you?' he sneered, all the while holding my stare with a most malign expression.
'Please, it is of Miss Cathy I wish to speak'. I was immediately sorry for having broached the subject, whereon the lines of his face drew themselves into their habitual grimace and the surly edge to his manner disappeared leaving only a shadow of pain.
'What of her?' he said abruptly, rising from his seat and walking slowly towards the window, his back towards me.
I was resolved not to lose composure, and so I began, fearing lest my resolve should waver and I would remain silent forever, 'As you know, when Miss Cathy was young she would talk to me of lots of things'. I began with this generalisation as a preamble.
'Go on' said Heathcliff tersely.
'Shortly before you left...' here I chose my words with great care, for I knew they evoked an epoch in my master's life that he could but reflect upon with pain; however, much to my own surprise my next words were, 'Miss Cathy spoke to me candidly about her relationship with Mr Edgar and yourself'.
'She told me that should calamity befall her and she be perforce separated from yourself or her home the Heights (here he turned his face almost to look at me) she would shun heaven to return again'. Having lived at the Heights I have seen both joy and despair in the countenance of others, and I believe a strange mixture of the two played across his countenance. He turned to face me and spoke with more composure than I thought possible from him, 'You wish to cajole me into good humour and peddle this ridiculous story, suggesting that she (he seemed determined not to mention my late mistress by name) has escaped the confines of heaven. For aught I know you conspire with the old man to turn me from this house!'
'I see that you are pre-disposed to see everything ill' I began, alarmed at his anger.
'Perhaps you enlighten me now for my moral edification? he retorted, taking a few steps towards me, 'this has contemptible echoes of a former conversation in which you told me of the negligible value of earthly things, including an angel's face and blue eyes, yet your mistress never held to such values as trust or honesty...' he trailed off and seemed to continue a conversation in his mind he had begun many times before.
'Please, sir...' I began, but he interrupted vehemently,
'She was wont to be seduced by an angel's face and fortune, what charm could a servant hold for her?'. I had never heard my master utter a disparaging word about himself, and I think his words even shocked him a little, for he fell silent and looked more desolate than ever. His outburst was proceeded by a few seconds of silence in which he visibly recuperated his strength, 'Speak plain Nelly, or else keep your counsel on this matter forever, wherefore does she tarry on this earth? Why must she importune the wretched human beings she left behind in her wake? I feared that his mind was again beginning to wander, for he grew more desperate, 'her presence poisons as it soothes, Nelly, why does she choose cover of the stars to wander the heights? Maybe the heavens have deliberately closed their eyes against her trespass and have to beckon her reluctant soul back at the slender touch of the first rays of light, recalling her to that heaven I have been told that all men seek and yet she alone is determined to shun'. I held my tongue at my master's blasphemy, and sought restore a little of my former mistress' dignity, 'Please master Heathcliff, pretentious and impulsive as she was she loved none but you', I could have sworn that a tear escaped his eye, 'Death is the only salve for my affliction now Nelly'.
My master's peace of mind being destroyed, I had to endure his petty vexations and outbursts daily. One evening my worst fears were realised as he seemed to be conducting a mysterious conversation that no earthly creature was party to, his look lingering on one of the chairs around the table in the sitting room with an expression of awe.
I perceived by dint of his responses and expostulations that his unseen interlocutor seemed to be goading him. I simply watched on transfixed, consumed by the thought that some new tragedy lurked around the corner, that somehow my master's monomania had to conclude itself, else we should all run mad from the tension that filled the house, like a heartbeat. Suddenly he was on his feet, and without a backwards glance he rushed out into the gathering storm, as though some revelation awaited him there...