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Chapter 5
IN the course of time, Mr. Earnshaw began to fail. He had been active and healthy, yet
his strength left him suddenly; and when he was confined to the chimney-corner he grew
grievously irritable. A nothing vexed him; and suspected slights of his authority nearly
threw him into fits. This was especially to be remarked if any one attempted to impose
upon, or domineer over, his favourite: he was painfully jealous lest a word should be
spoken amiss to him; seeming to have got into his head the notion that, because he liked
Heathcliff, all hated, and longed to do him an ill turn.
It was a disadvantage to the lad; for the kinder among us did not wish to fret the master,
so we humoured his partiality; and that humouring was rich nourishment to the child's
pride and black tempers. Still it became in a manner necessary; twice, or thrice, Hindley's
manifestation of scorn, while his father was near, roused the old man to a fury: he seized
his stick to strike him, and shook with rage that he could not do it.
At last, our curate (we had a curate then who made the living answer by teaching the little
Lintons and Earnshaws, and farming his bit of land himself) advised that the young man
should be sent to college; and Mr. Earnshaw agreed, though with a heavy spirit, for he
"Hindley was naught, and would never thrive as where he wandered."
I hoped heartily we should have peace now. It hurt me to think the master should be made
uncomfortable by his own good deed. I fancied the discontent of age and disease arose
from his family disagreements: as he would have it that it did: really, you know, sir, it
was in his sinking frame.
We might have got on tolerably, notwithstanding, but for two people, Miss Cathy and
Joseph, the servant: you saw him I daresay, up yonder. He was, and is yet most likely, the
wearisomest self-righteous Pharisee that ever ransacked a Bible to rake the promises to
himself and fling the curses to his neighbours. By his knack of sermonising and pious
discoursing, he contrived to make a great impression on Mr. Earnshaw; and the more
feeble the master became, the more influence he gained.
He was relentless in worrying him about his soul's concerns, and about ruling his children
rigidly. He encouraged him to regard Hindley as a reprobate; and, night after night, he
regularly grumbled out a long string of tales against Heathcliff and Catherine: always
minding to flatter Earnshaw's weakness by heaping the heaviest blame on the latter.
Certainly, she had ways with her such as I never saw a child take up before; and she put
all of us past our patience fifty times and oftener in a day: from the hour she came
downstairs till the hour she went to bed, we had not a minute's security that she wouldn't