“Did you want anything, maam?” 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?”
He imagines me in a pet-in play, perhaps
“Neither,” replied I; “if you mean Mr. Linton. Hes 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! My God! does he know how Im altered?” continued she, staring at her reflection in a mirror hanging against the opposite wall. “Is that Catherine Linton? Cannot you inform him that it is frightful earnest? Nelly, if it be not too late, as soon as I learn how he feels, Ill 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, maam,” 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, “Id kill myself directly! These three awful nights Ive never closed my lids-and oh, Ive been tormented! Ive been haunted, Nelly! But I begin to fancy you dont like me. 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, Im positive; the people here. How dreary to meet death, surrounded by their cold faces! Isabella, terrified and repelled, afraid to enter the room, it would be so dreadful to watch Catherine go. And Edgar standing solemnly by to see it over; then offering prayers of thanks to God for restoring peace to his house, and going back to his books! What in the name of all that feels has he to do with books, when I am dying?”
She could not bear the notion which I had put into her head of Mr. Lintons philosophical resignation. Tossing about, she increased her feverish bewilderment to madness, and tore the pillow with her teeth; then raising herself up all burning, desired that I would open the window. We were in the middle of winter, the wind blew strong from the north-east, and I objected. Both the expressions flitting over her face, and the changes of her moods, began to alarm me terribly; and brought to my recollection her former illness, and the doctors injunction that she should not be crossed. A minute previously she was violent; now, supported on one arm, and not noticing my refusal to obey her, she seemed to find childish diversion in pulling the feathers from the rents she had just made, and ranging them on the sheet according to their different species: her mind had strayed to other associations.