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Chapter 15
ANOTHER week over---and I am so many days nearer health, and spring! I have now
heard all my neighbour's history, at different sittings, as the housekeeper could spare time
from more important occupations. I'll continue it in her own words, only a little
condensed. She is, on the whole, a very fair narrator, and I don't think I could improve
her style.
In the evening, she said, the evening of my visit to the Heights, I knew, as well as if I saw
him, that Mr. Heathcliff was about the place; and I shunned going out, because I still
carried his letter in my pocket, and didn't want to be threatened or teased any more.
I had made up my mind not to give it till my master went somewhere, as I could not
guess how its receipt would affect Catherine. The consequence was, that it did not reach
her before the lapse of three days. The fourth was Sunday, and I brought it into her room
after the family were gone to church.
There was a man-servant left to keep the house with me, and we generally made a
practice of locking the doors during the hours of service; but on that occasion the weather
was so warm and pleasant that I set them wide open, and, to fulfil my engagement, as I
knew who would be coming, I told my companion that the mistress wished very much for
some oranges, and he must run over to the village and get a few, to be paid for on the
morrow. He departed, and I went upstairs.
Mrs. Linton sat in a loose, white dress, with a light shawl over her shoulders, in the recess
of the open window, as usual. Her thick, long hair had been partly removed at the
beginning of her illness, and now she wore it simply combed in its natural tresses over
her temples and neck. Her appearance was altered, as I had told Heathcliff; but when she
was calm, there seemed unearthly beauty in the change.
The flash of her eyes had been succeeded by a dreamy and melancholy softness; they no
longer gave the impression of looking at the objects around her: they appeared always to
gaze beyond, and far beyond---you would have said out of this world. Then the paleness
of her face---its haggard aspect having vanished as she recovered flesh---and the peculiar
expression arising from her mental state, though painfully suggestive of their causes,
added to the touching interest which she awakened; and---invariably to me, I know, and
to any person who saw her, I should think---refuted more tangible proofs of
convalescence, and stamped her as one doomed to decay.
A book lay spread on the sill before her, and the scarcely perceptible wind fluttered its
leaves at intervals. I believe Linton had laid it there: for she never endeavoured to divert
herself with reading, or occupation of any kind, and he would spend many an hour in
trying to entice her attention to some subject which had formerly been her amusement.