WHAT VAIN WEATHER-COCKS we are! I, who had determined to hold myself independent of all social intercourse, and thanked my stars that, at length, I had lighted on a spot where it was next to impracticable—I, weak wretch, after maintaining till dusk a struggle with low spirits and solitude, was finally compelled to strike my colours; and under pretence of gaining information concerning the necessities of my establishment, I desired Mrs. Dean, when she brought in supper, to sit down while I ate it; hoping sincerely she would prove a regular gossip, and either rouse me to animation or lull me to sleep by her talk.
“You have lived here a considerable time,” I commenced; “did you not say sixteen years?”
“Eighteen, sir: I came when the mistress was married, to wait on her; after she died, the master retained me for his housekeeper.”
There ensued a pause. She was not a gossip, I feared; unless about her own affairs, and those could hardly interest me. However, having studied for an interval, with a fist on either knee, and a cloud of meditation over her ruddy countenance, she ejaculated—“Ah, times are greatly changed since then!”
“Yes,” I remarked, “You've seen a good many alterations, I suppose?”
“I have: and troubles too,” she said.
“Oh, I'll turn the talk on my landlord's family!” I thought to myself. “A good subject to start. And that pretty girl-widow, I should like to know her history: whether she be a native of the country, or, as is more probable, an exotic that the surly indigenw' will not recognise for kin.” With this intention I asked Mrs. Dean why Heathcliff let Thrushcross Grange, and preferred living in a situation and residence so much inferior. “Is he not rich enough to keep the estate in good order?” I inquired.
“Rich, sir!” she returned. “He has nobody knows what money, and every year it increases. Yes, yes, he's rich enough to live in a finer house than this: but he's very near—close-handed; and, if he had meant to flit to Thrushcross Grange, as soon as he heard of a good tenant he could not have borne to miss the chance of getting a few hundreds more. It is strange people should be so greedy, when they are alone in the world!”
“He had a son, it seems?”
“Yes, he had one—he is dead.”
“And that young lady, Mrs. Heathcliff, is his widow?”
“Where did she come from originally?”
“Why, sir, she is my late master's daughter: Catherine Linton was her maiden name. I nursed her, poor thing! I did wish Mr. Heathcliff would remove here, and then we might have been together again”.
“What! Catherine Linton?” I exclaimed, astonished. But a minute's reflection convinced me it was not my ghostly Catherine. “Then,” I continued, “my predecessor's name was Linton?”
“And who is that Earnshaw: Hareton Earnshaw, who lives with Mr. Heathcliff? Are they relations?”
“No; he is the late Mrs. Linton's nephew.”
“The young lady's cousin, then?”
“Yes; and her husband was her cousin also: one on the mother's, the other on the father's side: Heathcliff married Mr. Linton's sister.”
“I see the house at Wuthering Heights has ‘Earnshaw’ carved over the front door. Are they an old family?”
“Very old, sir, and Hareton is the last of them, as our Miss Cathy is of us—I mean, of the Lintons. Have you been to Wuthering Heights? I beg pardon for asking, but I should like to hear how she is!”
“Mrs. Heathcliff? she looked very well, and very handsome; yet, I think, not very happy.”
“Oh dear, I don't wonder! And how did you like the master?”
“A rough fellow, rather, Mrs. Dean. Is not that his character?”
“Rough as a saw-edge, and hard as whinstone! The less you meddle with him the better.”
“He must have had some ups and downs in life to make him such a churl. Do you know anything of his history?”
“It's a cuckoo's, sir—I know all about it: except where he was born, and who were his parents, and how he got his...
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