manner--will show you all the sweetest spots; and you can bring a book in fine weather, and make a green hollow your study; and, now and then, your uncle may join you in a walk: he does, frequently, walk out on the hills.'
`And what is my father like?' he asked. `Is he as young and handsome as uncle?'
`He's as young,' said I; `but he has black hair and eyes, and looks sterner; and he is taller and bigger altogether. He'll not seem to you so gentle and kind at first, perhaps, because it is not his way: still, mind you, be frank and cordial with him; and naturally he'll be fonder of you than any uncle, for you are his own.'
`Black hair and eyes!' mused Linton. `I can't fancy him. Then I am not like him, am I?'
`Not much,' I answered: not a morsel, I thought, surveying with regret the white complexion and slim frame of my companion, and his large languid eyes--his mother's eyes, save that, unless a morbid touchiness kindled them a moment, they had not a vestige of her sparkling spirit.
`How strange that he should never come to see mamma and me!' he murmured. `Has he ever seen me? If he have, I must have been a baby. I remember not a single thing about him!'
`Why, Master Linton,' said I, `three hundred miles is a great distance; and ten years seem very different in length to a grown-up person compared with what they do to you. It is probable Mr Heathcliff proposed going from summer to summer, but never found a convenient opportunity; and now it is too late. Don't trouble him with questions on the subject: it will disturb him, for no good.'
The boy was fully occupied with his own cogitations for the remainder of the ride, till we halted before the farmhouse garden gate. I watched to catch his impressions in his countenance. He surveyed the carved front and low-browed lattices, the straggling gooseberry bushes and crooked firs, with solemn intentness, and then shook his head: his private feelings entirely disapproved of the exterior of his new abode. But he had sense to postpone complaining: there might be compensation within. Before he dismounted, I went and opened the door. It was half past six; the family had just finished breakfast; the servant was clearing and wiping down the table. Joseph stood by his master's chair telling some tale concerning a lame horse; and Hareton was preparing for the hay field.
`Hallo, Nelly!' cried Mr Heathcliff, when he saw me. `I feared I should have to come down and fetch my property myself. You've brought it, have you? Let us see what we can make of it.'
He got up and strode to the door. Hareton and Joseph followed in gaping curiosity. Poor Linton ran a frightened eye over the faces of the three.
`Sure-ly,' said Joseph, after a grave inspection, `he's swopped wi' ye, maister, an' yon's his lass!'
Heathcliff, having stared his son into an ague of confusion, uttered a scornful laugh.
`God! what a beauty! what a lovely, charming thing!' he exclaimed. `Haven't they reared it on snails and sour milk, Nelly? Oh, damn my soul! but that's worse than I expected--and the devil knows I was not sanguine!'
I bid the trembling and bewildered child get down, and enter. He did not thoroughly comprehend the meaning of his father's speech, or whether it were intended for him: indeed, he was not yet certain that the grim, sneering stranger was his father. But he clung to me with growing trepidation; and on Mr Heathcliff's taking a seat and bidding him `come hither', he hid his face on my shoulder and wept.
`Tut, tut!' said Heathcliff, stretching out a hand and dragging him roughly between his knees, and then holding up his head by the chin. `None of that nonsense! We're not going to hurt thee, Linton--isn't that thy name? Thou art thy mother's child, entirely! Where is my share in thee, puling chicken?'
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