She abandoned them under a delusion, picturing in me
a hero of romance, and expecting unlimited indulgences from my chivalrous
devotion. I can hardly regard her in the light of a rational creature, so
obstinately has she persisted in forming a fabulous notion of my character
and acting on the false impressions she cherished. But, at last, I think
she begins to know me: I don't perceive the silly smiles and grimaces that
provoked me at first; and the senseless incapability of discerning that
I was in earnest when I gave her my opinion of her infatuation and herself.
It was a marvellous effort of perspicacity to discover that I did not love
her. I believed, at one time, no lessons could teach her that! And yet it
is poorly learnt; for this morning she announced, as a piece of appalling
intelligence, that I had actually succeeded in making her hate me! A positive
labour of Hercules, I assure you! If it be achieved, I have cause to return
thanks. Can I trust your assertion, Isabella? Are you sure you hate me?
If I let you alone for half a day, won't you come sighing and wheedling
to me again? I daresay she would rather I had seemed all tenderness before
you: it wounds her vanity to have the truth exposed. But I don't care who
knows that the passion was wholly on one side: and I never told her a lie
about it. She cannot accuse me of showing one bit of deceitful softness.
The first thing she saw me do, on coming out of the Grange, was to hang
up her little dog; and when she pleaded for it, the first words I uttered
were a wish that I had the hanging of every being belonging to her, except
one: possibly she took that exception for herself. But no brutality disgusted
her: I suppose she has an innate admiration of it, if only her precious
person were secure from injury! Now, was it not the depth of absurdity --
of genuine idiocy, for that pitiful, slavish, mean-minded brach to dream
that I could love her? Tell your master, Nelly, that I never, in all my
life, met with such an abject thing as she is. She even disgraces the name
of Linton; and I've sometimes relented, from pure lack of invention, in
my experiments on what she could endure, and still creep shamefully cringing
back! But tell him, also, to set his fraternal and magisterial heart at
ease: that I keep strictly within the limits of the law. I have avoided,
up to this period, giving her the slightest right to claim a separation;
and, what's more, she'd thank nobody for dividing us. If she desired to
go, she might: the nuisance of her presence outweighs the gratification
to be derived from tormenting her!
Credits: Reprinted from Wuthering Heights. Emily Brontë. New
York: Harper & Brothers, 1848.
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