Wuthering Heights Chapter 17
Summer ended and the moors were soon covered with snow. Nelly was rocking little Catherine when she heard someone come in, laughing. She was very surprised to see it was Isabella, who ran all the way from Wuthering Heights. She was soaking, without a coat, and had a deep cut under one ear. She changed her clothes and let Nelly tend her wound only after the coachman was ordered to get ready. Isabella was running away from Heathcliff.
Isabella asked Nelly to put the baby away; she grieved for Catherine, but not for Heathcliff, who had become even more crazy since her death. Isabella smashed her wedding ring and threw it in the fire. She told Nelly that she would stay, and help her brother, except that Heathcliff would never let her live in peace at Thrushcross Grange. She no longer loved him, and his hate has grown stronger. Isabella wished he were dead, but Nelly scolded her, reminding her that he is still a person, and not the worst one on earth. But Isabella isn't even sure he is a man; he broke her heart, and she cannot feel any pity for him.
Isabella told Nelly that Hindley did not attend Catherine's funeral, because he could not keep himself sober. Heathcliff had been absent for nearly a week, roaming the moors and coming home at dawn. He would lock himself up and recite terrible prayers, then head down to the Grange. Without Heathcliff around, Isabella was compelled to socialize with the sermonizing Joseph, ignorant little Hareton, or crazy Hindley. She preferred Hindley, because he would leave her alone. But that night when Heathcliff came home, Hindley asked for Isabella's help to keep the master out of the house. Then he asked her to keep quiet so he could kill Heathcliff. Disliking violence, Isabella warned her husband, who didn't listen to her. With all the doors bolted, Heathcliff broke open a window. Hindley shot his gun, and its attached knife cut Hindley. Heathcliff deepened the cut, jumped inside, and began beating Hindley, who lay injured on the floor. He could have killed him, but after the beating he bound Hindley's wounds. Isabella ran for Joseph, and Heathcliff tossed the servant onto the bloody floor, then threw Isabella there as well. He made Isabella convince Joseph not to go for help.
The next morning at breakfast, Hindley and Heathcliff sat quietly by the fire. Heathcliff looked troubled, and Isabella enjoyed his pain. She asked Hindley how he was, and told him how much Heathcliff had beaten on him while he was unconscious. She blamed Heathcliff for Catherine's death, and surprisingly, he started to cry. Isabella laughed at him, taunting him. When she suggested that if Catherine had married Heathcliff, she would have grown to hate him, Heathcliff threw a knife at her, stabbing her in the neck. She threw it back and ran from the house. At the completion of her story, Isabella left. She moved to the south of England and gave birth to a little boy whom she named Linton. Unfortunately, Heathcliff heard about the child. But when Isabella died, she left twelve year old Linton to her brother Edgar's care.
Edgar was happy to hear Isabella left her husband. Hoping to avoid Heathcliff, Edgar became a hermit, rarely leaving the Grange's land. Unlike Heathcliff, he hoped Catherine was at peace, and he grieved quietly. Little Catherine soon became his chief concern. He loved her very much, and Nelly thought often of the difference between Hindley and Edgar's response to their grief. Hindley died six months after his sister, unfortunately leaving Hareton in the care of Heathcliff. Nelly tried to bring the child to the Grange, but Heathcliff would not allow it. Hindley died in debt to Heathcliff. So now the Earnshaw estate is finally his. Hareton, who should have been the heir, was now dependent upon Heathcliff, and made a servant within the house he should have been master of.