WHILE MISS LINTON moped about the park and garden, always silent, and almost always in tears; and her brother shut himself up among books that he never opened—wearying, I guessed, with a continual vague expectation that Catherine, repenting her conduct, would come of her own accord to ask pardon, and seek a reconciliation—and she fasted pertinaciously, under the idea, probably, that at every meal Edgar was ready to choke for her absence, and pride alone held him from running to cast himself at her feet; I went about my household duties, convinced that the Grange had but one sensible soul in its walls, and that lodged in my body. I wasted no condolences on Miss, nor any expostulations on my mistress; nor did I pay much attention to the sighs of my master, who yearned to hear his lady's name, since he might not hear her voice. I determined they should come about as they pleased for me; and though it was a tiresomely slow process, I began to rejoice at length in a faint dawn of its progress: as I thought at first.
Mrs. Linton, on the third day, unbarred her door, and having finished the water in her pitcher and decanter, desired a renewed supply, and a basin of gruel, for she believed she was dying. That I set down as a speech meant for Edgar's ears; I believed no such thing, so I kept it to myself and brought her some tea and dry toast. She ate and drank eagerly, and sank back on her pillow again, clenching her hands and groaning. “Oh, I will die,” she exclaimed, “since no one cares anything about me. I wish I had not taken that.” Then a good while after I heard her murmur, “No, I'll not die—he'd be glad—he does not love me at all—he would never miss me!”
“Did you want anything, ma'am?” I inquired, still preserving my external composure, in spite of her ghastly countenance and strange, exaggerated manner.
“What is that apathetic being doing?” she demanded, pushing the thick entangled locks from her wasted face. “Has he fallen into a lethargy, or is he dead?”
“Neither,” replied I; “if you mean Mr. Linton. He's tolerably well, I think, though his studies occupy him rather more than they ought: he is continually among his books, since he has no other society.”
I should not have spoken so if I had known her true condition, but I could not get rid of the notion that she acted a part of her disorder.
“Among his books!” she cried, confounded. “And I dying! I on the brink of the grave! My God! does he know how I'm altered?” continued she, staring at her reflection in a mirror hanging against the opposite wall. “Is that Catherine Linton? He imagines me in a pet—in play, perhaps. Cannot you inform him that it is frightful earnest? Nelly, if it be not too late, as soon as I learn how he feels, I'll choose between these two: either to starve at once—that would be no punishment unless he had a heart—or to recover, and leave the country. Are you speaking the truth about him now? Take care. Is he actually so utterly indifferent for my life?”
“Why, ma'am,” I answered, “the master has no idea of your being deranged; and of course he does not fear that you will let yourself die of hunger.”
“You think not? Cannot you tell him I will?” she returned. “Persuade him! speak of your own mind: say you are certain I will!”
“No, you forget, Mrs. Linton,” I suggested, “that you have eaten some food with a relish this evening, and to-morrow you will perceive its good effects.”
“If I were only sure it would kill him,” she interrupted, “I'd kill myself directly! These three awful nights I've never closed my lids—and oh, I've been tormented! I've been haunted, Nelly! But I begin to fancy you don't like me. How strange! I thought, though everybody hated and despised each other, they could not avoid loving me. And they have all turned to enemies in a few hours: they have, I'm positive; the people here . How dreary to meet death, surrounded by their cold faces! Isabella, terrified and...
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