He attempted to touch the child, who, on finding himself with me, sobbed off his terror directly. At the first finger his father laid on him, however, he shrieked again louder than before, and struggled as if he would go into convulsions.
`You shall not meddle with him!' I continued. `He hates you--they all hate you--that's the truth! A happy family you have: and a pretty state you're come to!'
`I shall come to a prettier, yet, Nelly,' laughed the misguided man, recovering his hardness. `At present, convey yourself and him away. And, hark you, Heathcliff! clear you too, quite from my reach and hearing. I wouldn't murder you tonight; unless, perhaps, I set the house on fire: but that's as my fancy goes.
While saying this he took a pint bottle of brandy from the dresser, and poured some into a tumbler.
`Nay, don't!' I entreated. `Mr Hindley, do take warning. Have mercy on this unfortunate boy, if you care nothing for yourself!'
`Anyone will do better for him than I shall,' he answered.
`Have mercy on your own soul!' I said, endeavouring to snatch the glass from his hand.
`Not I! On the contrary, I shall have great pleasure in sending it to perdition to punish its Maker,' exclaimed the blasphemer. `Here's to its hearty damnation!'
He drank the spirits and impatiently bade us go; terminating his command with a sequel of horrid imprecations, too bad to repeat or remember.
`It's a pity he cannot kill himself with drink,' observed Heathcliff, muttering an echo of curses back when the door was shut. `He's doing his very utmost; but his constitution defies him. Mr Kenneth says he would wager his mare, that he'll outlive any man on this side Gimmerton, and go to the grave a hoary sinner; unless some happy chance out of the common course befall him.'
I went into the kitchen, and sat down to lull my little lamb to sleep. Heathcliff, as I thought, walked through to the barn. It turned out afterwards that he only got as far as the other side the settle, when he flung himself on a bench by the wall, removed from the fire, and remained silent.
I was rocking Hareton on my knee, and humming a song that began:
It was far in the night, and the bairnies grat,
`Are you alone, Nelly?'
`Yes, miss,' I replied.
She entered and approached the hearth. I, supposing she was going to say something, looked up. The expression of her face seemed disturbed and anxious. Her lips were half asunder, as if she meant to speak, and she drew a breath; but it escaped in a sigh instead of a sentence. I resumed my song; not having forgotten her recent behaviour.
`Where's Heathcliff?' she said, interrupting me.
`About his work in the stable,' was my answer.
He did not contradict me; perhaps he had fallen into a doze. There followed another long pause, during which I perceived a drop or two trickle from Catherine's cheek to the flags. Is she sorry for her shameful
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