YESTERDAY AFTERNOON set in misty and cold. I had half a mind to spend it by my study fire, instead of wading through heath and mud to Wuthering Heights. On coming up from dinner, however, (N.B.—I dine between twelve and one o'clock; the housekeeper, a matronly lady, taken as a fixture along with the house, could not, or would not, comprehend my request that I might be served at five)—on mounting the stairs with this lazy intention, and stepping into the room, I saw a servant-girl on her knees surrounded by brushes and coal-scuttles, and raising an infernal dust as she extinguished the flames with heaps of cinders. This spectacle drove me back immediately; I took my hat, and, after a four-miles' walk, arrived at Heathcliff's garden-gate just in time to escape the first feathery flakes of a snow-shower.
On that bleak hill-top the earth was hard with a black frost, and the air made me shiver through every limb. Being unable to remove the chain, I jumped over, and, running up the flagged causeway bordered with straggling gooseberry-bushes, knocked vainly for admittance, till my knuckles tingled and the dogs howled.
“Wretched inmates!” I ejaculated, mentally, “you deserve perpetual isolation from your species for your churlish inhospitality. At least, I would not keep my doors barred in the day-time. I don't care—I will get in!” So resolved, I grasped the latch and shook it vehemently. Vinegar-faced Joseph projected his head from a round window of the barn.
“What are ye for?” he shouted. “T' maister's down i' t' fowld. Go round by th' end o' t' laith, if ye went to spake to him.”
“Is there nobody inside to open the door?” I hallooed, responsively.
“There's nobbut t' missis; and shoo'll not oppen't an ye mak' yer flaysome dins till neeght.”
“Why? Cannot you tell her whom I am, eh, Joseph?”
“Nor-ne me! I'll hae no hend wi't,” muttered the head, vanishing.
The snow began to drive thickly. I seized the handle to essay another trial; when a young man without coat, and shouldering a pitchfork, appeared in the yard behind. He hailed me to follow him, and, after marching through a wash-house, and a paved area containing a coal-shed, pump, and pigeon-cot, we at length arrived in the huge, warm, cheerful apartment where I was formerly received. It glowed delightfully in the radiance of an immense fire compounded of coal, peat, and wood; and near the table laid for a plentiful evening meal, I was pleased to observe the “missis,” an individual whose existence I had never previously suspected. I bowed and waited, thinking she would bid me take a seat. She looked at me, leaning back in her chair, and remained motionless and mute.
“Rough weather!” I remarked. “I'm afraid, Mrs. Heathcliff, the door must bear the consequence of your servants' leisure attendance: I had hard work to make them hear me.”
She never opened her mouth. I stared—she stared also: at any rate, she kept her eyes on me in a cool, regardless manner, exceedingly embarrassing and disagreeable.
“Sit down,” said the young man, gruffly. “He'll be in soon.”
I obeyed; and hemmed, and called the villain Juno, who deigned, at this second interview, to move the extreme tip of her tail, in token of owning my acquaintance.
“A beautiful animal!” I commenced again. “Do you intend parting with the little ones, madam?”
“They are not mine,” said the amiable hostess, more repellingly than Heathcliff himself could have replied.
“Ah, your favourites are among these?” I continued, turning to an obscure cushion full of something like cats.
“A strange choice of favourites!” she observed scornfully.
Unluckily, it was a heap of dead rabbits. I hemmed once more, and drew closer to the hearth, repeating my comment on the wildness of the evening.
“You should not have come out,” she said, rising and reaching from the chimney-piece two of the painted canisters.
Her position before was sheltered from the light; now I had a distinct view of her...
(The entire section is 3,350 words.)