On one of their traversals of the moors, Heathcliff and Catherine venture to Thrushcross Grange and spy on the Lintons through the window. While doing so, Catherine is attacked by the Linton dog, who injures her ankle. She is taken into the house, but Heathcliff is seen as "quite unfit for a decent house" and kept outside. So, Heathcliff returns to Wuthering Heights while Catherine remains for five weeks while she recuperates. Finally, at Christmastime, Catherine returns home.
Catherine kisses Nelly fondly and asks for Heathcliff. When he finally appears, he is filthy, his hair uncombed and his face dirty, his clothes covered in mud and mire. He tries to hide himself. Nevertheless, Cathy runs to him and kisses him. But, Heathcliff refuses to shake hands with Edgar Linton, saying, "I shall not stnd to be laughed at. I shall not bear it!" When Catherine says something to him, Heathcliff dashes out of the room in a terrible temper.
Nellie recalls old Mr. Earnshaw's dying wish that Heathcliff be cared for, so she goes to find Heathcliff, who is in the stable. Telling him there are sweet cakes for him, Nellie hopes to lure him to the kitchen, but Heathcliff does not appear all night. The next day, Heathcliff runs out onto the moors, not returning until Catherine and the Lintons are at church. He asks Nellie to make him"decent." She agrees, telling him that Catherine cried; Heathcliff, in turn, informs Nellie that he also cried and with more reason. In reply, Nellie says, "Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves," but promises to make him presentable, for he is taller and stronger than Edgar. She essays to boost Heathcliff's disparagement of himself that he does not have fair skin and light hair by suggesting that he may be a "prince in disguise," with a father who was Emperor of China and a mother who was an Indian queen.
However, things do not go well for Heathcliff; after he is presentalbe, he enters from the kitchen just as Hindley pushes the door at the same time, shoving the boy back and telling Joseph to "keep the fellow out of the room" and send him to his garret, threatening to beat him. When he scolds Heathcliff and remarks about his long hair, Master Linton innocently says, "I wonder they [his locks] don't make his head ache. Its like a colt's mane over his eyes!" At this remark, Heathcliff reacts violently, treating Edgar as one would a rival. Seizing a tureen of hot apple sauce, he hurls it into Edgar's face. Catherine and Isabella Linton rush to his aid while Hindley takes Heathcliff to his chamber and whips him.
Nellie judges Catherine as uncaring because she continues to engage in activities with the Lintons, but later Cathy begs that Heathcliff "be liberated." When he is not, see sneaks up to his room. Nellie finally retrieves the two, taking them into the kitchen where Heathcliff vows revenge against Hindley, telling Nellie, "...while I'm thinking of that I don't feel pain."