SOMETIMES, while meditating on these things in solitude, I've got up in a sudden terror,
and put on my bonnet to go see how all was at the farm. I've persuaded my conscience
that it was a duty to warn him how people talked regarding his ways; and then I've
recollected his confirmed bad habits, and, hopeless of benefiting him, have flinched from
re-entering the dismal house, doubting if I could bear to be taken at my word.
One time I passed the old gate, going out of my way, on a journey to Gimmerton. It was
about the period that my narrative has reached---a bright frosty afternoon; the ground
bare, and the road hard and dry.
I came to a stone where the highway branches off on to the moor at your left hand; a
rough sand-pillar, with the letters W H. cut on its north side, on the east, G., and on the
south-west, T. G. It serves as a guide post to the Grange, the Heights, and village.
The sun shone yellow on its grey head, reminding me of summer; and I cannot say why,
but all at once, a gush of child's sensations flowed into my heart. Hindley and I held it a
favourite spot twenty years before. I gazed long at the weather-worn block, and, stooping
down, perceived a hole near the bottom still full of snail-shells and pebbles, which we
were fond of storing there with more perishable things; and, as fresh as reality, it
appeared that I beheld my early playmate seated on the withered turf: his dark, square
head bent forward, and his little hand scooping out the earth with a piece of slate.
"Poor Hindley!" I exclaimed involuntarily.
I started---my bodily eye was cheated into a momentary belief that the child lifted its face
and stared straight into mine! It vanished in a twinkling; but immediately I felt an
irresistible yearning to be at the Heights. Superstition urged me to comply with this
impulse: supposing he should be dead! I thought---or should die soon!---supposing it
were a sign of death!
The nearer I got to the house the more agitated I grew; and on catching sight of it I
trembled in every limb. The apparition had outstripped me: it stood looking through the
gate. That was my first idea on observing an elf-locked, brown-eyed boy setting his ruddy
countenance against the bars. Further reflection suggested this must be Hareton, my
Hareton, not altered greatly since I left him, ten months since.
"God bless thee, darling!" I cried, forgetting instantaneously my foolish fears. "Hareton,
it's Nelly! Nelly, thy nurse."
He retreated out of arm's length, and picked up a large flint.