Five weeks later, Catherine returns to Wuthering Heights, and you can bet that was a long five weeks for Heathcliff. Without her around, Heathcliff was neglected and abused even more than usual.
Catherine has changed a lot during her stay at Thrushcross Grange. No longer the tomboyish wild child, she is composed and groomed, looking quite the little lady.
Hindley and Frances look on as the friends are reunited—a polished young miss and swarthy, "beclouded" Heathcliff. No one can fail to see the contrast between them, and Hindley refers to Heathcliff as a servant, leaving him humiliated and bitter.
The Lintons are invited to Wuthering Heights and Nelly Dean sets out to clean up Heathcliff. After pouting and fasting, Heathcliff approaches Mrs. Dean, exclaiming, "Nelly, make me decent, I'm going to be good" (7.33).
Nelly cautions Heathcliff to watch his behavior around Edgar Linton, who, though fair-skinned, blue-eyed, well-behaved, and rich, is also far less strong and well-built than Heathcliff.
Though now groomed and well-mannered, Heathcliff is kept away from the company by Hindley, who proceeds to torment him with names like "vagabond" and "coxcomb." When Edgar Linton pipes in, Heathcliff throws a tureen of hot applesauce in his face. That's gotta hurt.
Hindley banishes Heathcliff to his room for the remainder of the evening.
Meanwhile, Catherine alternates between lively participation in the party and dark moodiness while lurking in the stairwell.
When Heathcliff finally emerges, he makes a solemn vow to Nelly Dean: "I'm trying to settle how I shall pay Hindley back. I don't care how long I wait, if I can only do it at last. I hope he will not die before I do" (7.69).
Thus, the revenge plot is set in motion. Now things start to get really ugly.
Nelly Dean's narrative stops as she tries to skip over a few years, but Lockwood insists she include all of the details. She is now up to the summer of 1778, which, she remarks, is "nearly twenty-three years ago" (7.87).