The Earnshaws of Wuthering Heights


Before I came to live here at Thrushcross Grange, I, Ellen Dean, was nearly always at Wuthering Heights. My mother was employed there as a children's nurse, and I was allowed to play with the two children, Hindley and Catherine. I liked to do small jobs, too, and waited around the farm, ready for anything that anybody would give me to do.


One fine summer morning at the beginning of the harvest, in 1771 I think it was, Mr Earnshaw, the old master, came downstairs dressed for a journey. First he told Joseph, the servant, what was to be done during the day. Then he turned to Hindley and Catherine. Speaking to his son, he said, "Now, my young man, I'm going to Liverpool today. What shall I bring back for you? You may choose what you like, but it must be small, for I shall walk there and back. It's sixty miles each way, and that's a long distance."


Hindley chose a toy violin. Then the master asked Miss Catherine. She was not quite six years old, but she could ride any horse in the stable, and so she chose a whip. He did not forget me, for, although he was rather strict sometimes, he had a kind heart. He promised to bring me some apples and pears. Then he said goodbye to his wife, kissed his children and set off.


It seemed a long time to us all - the three days that he was away. Little Catherine often asked when her father would be home.


Mrs Earnshaw expected her husband by supper-time on the third evening. Although we ate our meal late, there was no sign of him coming. The children asked if they could stay up and wait for him. Then, at last, at about eleven o'clock, the door opened quietly and the master stepped in. He threw himself into a chair. He looked happy, and glad to be home, but he told the children to wait patiently, for his long walk had made him very tired.


"At the end of it, I was almost worried to death!" he said, opening his coat, which he held wrapped up in his arms. "Look! I have never been bothered so much by anything before. But you must take him as a gift of God."


We crowded round. Looking over Miss Catherine's head, I saw a dirty, black-haired boy, big enough to walk and talk. Indeed, his face looked older than Catherine's. When he was set on his feet, he only stared round, and repeated some words that nobody could understand. I was frightened. What would they do with such a wild, dirty child?


Emily Brontė was one of three very talented sisters who lived quietly in the north of England, about 150 years ago. Wuthering Heights, her only novel, is one of the most extraordinary stories of passion and revenge in English Literature.


Emily Brontė: Wuthering Heights. Oxford Progressive English Readers; Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1992

Grade 5 (5,000 headwords)