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When he is drunk, Hindley Earnshaw accidentally drops Hareton from the top of the staircase. Heathcliff, arriving at the critical moment, follows a natural impulse and catches the child in his arms. Later, he regrets his act, realizing the pain the boy's death would have caused his enemy, Hindley. Later in the kitchen, Nelly tries to put Hareton to sleep. Catherine enters, and believing Nelly to be alone, she tells her that Edgar Linton has asked her to marry him. Although she has accepted his proposal, she is not sure if she has made the right decision. She tells Nelly that "it would degrade (her) to marry Heathcliff now." Nelly notices Heathcliff noiselessly stealing out of the room before he hears Catherine's concluding remark, that she loves Heathcliff with her whole heart and soul. She also acknowledges that she and Heathcliff share the same temperament: "Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire."
When the conversation between the two women is almost over, Joseph comes in looking for Heathcliff. Heathcliff, however, has left Wuthering Heights, determined never to return. Nelly tells Catherine that Heathcliff has very likely left because he has overheard the news about Edgar. Catherine refuses to believe he has gone away and waits for Heathcliff in the rain all night. The next morning she falls ill. Mrs. Linton comes to Wuthering Heights and decides to take the convalescent Catherine to Thrushcross Grange. Later she has reason to repent her kindness, for she and her husband contract Cathy's illness and die within a few days of each other. Three years after his parents' deaths, Edgar Linton marries Catherine in Gimmerton Chapel; the couple settles in to life at Thrushcross Grange, and Catherine persuades Nelly to leave young Hareton and move to the Grange.
This is a very eventful chapter, revealing that Hindley has become a drunkard who abuses his son and the other members of the household. Heathcliff hates him more than ever and eagerly looks forward to his death. Additionally, Edgar proposes to and marries Cathy, and Heathcliff leaves Wuthering Heights. Finally, Mr. and Mrs. Linton contract Cathy's fever and die from it.
When Edgar proposes to her, Cathy tells Nelly that she has no more business marrying Edgar Linton than she has being in heaven. She admits that she loves Heathcliff much more than Edgar, but thinks it would be socially degrading to marry him. As a result, she commits to marrying the lesser man, even though she admits that "my love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath--a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff--he's always, always in my mind."
Catherine is unaware that Heathcliff is in the kitchen, overhearing the entire conversation that she has with Nelly about Edgar. As a result of what he hears, Heathcliff leaves Wuthering Heights, not returning for three years. It is most appropriate that on the night of these stormy emotions, it is also storming outside. Refusing to believe that Heathcliff has really gone away, Catherine waits outside in the rain for him to return. The next day, she grows very ill. Catherine's illness, and the doctor's advice that she not be upset in any way, implies that her fiery disposition hides a rather delicate mental state. During her convalescent stay at the Grange, she grows "saucier and more passionate, and haughtier than ever."
When Mr. and Mrs. Linton, the owners of Thrushcross Grange, die, the property passes to Edgar Linton. Three years after the death of his parents, he marries Cathy and brings her home to live. He believes himself to be the happiest man alive. Soon, however, Cathy's residence at Thrushcross Grange will disrupt the peace and calm. Not until the end of the novel, with the union of Cathy and Hareton, will the storminess come to an end.
The marriage of Catherine to Edgar and the beginning of her residence at Thrushcross Grange marks the start of another phase within the plot. It is a natural break in the story and the conclusion of Nelly's narrative.