Chapters 26–28 Summary and Analysis
Finally, Nelly and Cathy ride out to meet Linton. When they arrive at the agreed-upon meeting place, however, they are told that Linton is waiting a little way away. When they find Linton, he is lying in the grass only a quarter mile from Wuthering Heights. Nelly is angry that they have ended up so close to the house, but both women are shocked when they see how frail and sickly Linton looks. Although he insists that he is stronger, Linton is so weak that he cannot even follow their conversation. Seeing how ill he is, Cathy suggests that she and Nelly leave him. When Linton hears this, he becomes visibly agitated and insists that they stay with him for at least another half hour. Though Cathy is puzzled as to why Linton wants them to stay when he is clearly not interested in their company, Nelly realizes that he is afraid of Heathcliff. Linton asks Cathy to tell her father that he is better and begs her not to tell Heathcliff about how quiet and downcast he has been. Cathy tells him that she isn’t afraid of Heathcliff but promises to visit again. As Heathcliff approaches, Cathy and Nelly ride off, though Linton feebly tries to make Cathy stay. When they arrive home, Cathy and Nelly reveal little of Linton’s condition to Edgar, deciding to withhold judgment until after another visit.
Over the next seven days, Edgar’s health begins to rapidly deteriorate, and Cathy remains by his side. Nelly and Edgar encourage her to keep her date with Linton so that she may get fresh air. Edgar, knowing little of Linton’s true character, is convinced that he is a fine match for Cathy, and Nelly admits that she did not have the heart to tell him the truth. When Cathy and Nelly visit Linton again, he is more animated, though his energy appears to come from fear rather than genuine excitement to see Cathy. Linton admits that Heathcliff is forcing him to spend time with Cathy, and Cathy, irate at being unnecessarily taken from her father’s bedside, attempts to leave. Heathcliff appears and roughly orders Linton to get up. When Linton shrinks away from Heathcliff in terror, Heathcliff asks Cathy to help Linton back to the house. Unable to refuse, Cathy and Nelly walk Linton inside, intending to leave immediately. As soon as they cross the threshold, however, Heathcliff locks the door behind them and insists that they stay for tea. Cathy tries to wrest the key away from Heathcliff, and he slaps her several times before leaving the room. Nelly and Cathy turn to Linton—who is now totally calm—and demand to know what is going on. He explains that Heathcliff, fearing that Linton will die before Edgar, intends to force Cathy to marry Linton in the morning. Knowing that her unexplained absence will distress her dying father, Cathy is distraught at the thought of being kept overnight and vows to escape, even if she has to burn the house down. When Heathcliff returns, Cathy promises that she will return in the morning to marry Linton if he will let her go back to her father now. Heathcliff tells her that he delights in the idea of Edgar being tormented by her disappearance, and he vows to imprison her until she has married Linton. The next morning, Heathcliff removes Cathy from the bedroom in which she and Nelly are locked but leaves Nelly inside. Nelly is forced to stay in the bedroom for five days, during which time the only person she sees is Hareton.
Nelly is finally freed by Zillah, Heathcliff’s housekeeper. Zillah explains that the villagers all think Nelly and Cathy have been lost in Blackhorse Marsh. From Zillah, Nelly learns that Edgar is not yet dead, though his doctor believes he may only have a day left. Searching through the house, Nelly finds Linton lying down in front of the hearth. He tells Nelly that he and Cathy are now married, but she is locked upstairs because he and Heathcliff will not let her return to Thrushcross Grange. Nelly berates Linton for his terrible repayment of Cathy’s...
(The entire section is 1,455 words.)