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
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
'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
'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 whole figure
and countenance. She was slender,
and apparently scarcely past
girlhood: an admirable form,
and the most exquisite little
face that I have ever had the
pleasure of beholding; small
features, very fair; flaxen ringlets,
or rather golden, hanging loose
on her delicate neck; and eyes,
had they been agreeable in expression,
that would have been irresistible:
fortunately for my susceptible
heart, the only sentiment they
evinced hovered between scorn
and a kind of desperation, singularly
unnatural to be detected there.
The canisters were almost out
of her reach; I made a motion
to aid her; she turned upon me
as a miser might turn if any
one attempted to assist him in
counting his gold.
'I don't want your help,' she
snapped; 'I can get them for
'I beg your pardon!' I hastened
'Were you asked to tea?' she
demanded, tying an apron over
her neat black frock, and standing
with a spoonful of the leaf poised
over the pot.
'I shall be glad to have a
cup,' I answered.
'Were you asked?' she repeated.
'No,' I said, half smiling.
'You are the proper person to
She flung the tea back, spoon
and all, and resumed her chair
in a pet; her forehead corrugated,
and her red under-lip pushed
out, like a child's ready to
Meanwhile, the young man had
slung on to his person a decidedly
shabby upper garment, and, erecting
himself before the blaze, looked
down on me from the corner of
his eyes, for all the world as
if there were some mortal feud
unavenged between us. I began
to doubt whether he were a servant
or not: his dress and speech
were both rude, entirely devoid
of the superiority observable
in Mr. and Mrs. Heathcliff; his
thick brown curls were rough
and uncultivated, his whiskers
encroached bearishly over his
cheeks, and his hands were embrowned
like those of a common labourer:
still his bearing was free, almost
haughty, and he showed none of
a domestic's assiduity in attending
on the lady of the house. In
the absence of clear proofs of
his condition, I deemed it best
to abstain from noticing his
curious conduct; and, five minutes
afterwards, the entrance of Heathcliff
relieved me, in some measure,
from my uncomfortable state.
'You see, sir, I am come, according
to promise!' I exclaimed, assuming
the cheerful; 'and I fear I shall
be weather-bound for half an
hour, if you can afford me shelter
during that space.'
'Half an hour?' he said, shaking
the white flakes from his clothes;
'I wonder you should select the
thick of a snow-storm to ramble
about in. Do you know that you
run a risk of being lost in the
marshes? People familiar with
these moors often miss their
road on such evenings; and I
can tell you there is no chance
of a change at present.'
'Perhaps I can get a guide
among your lads, and he might
stay at the Grange till morning
- could you spare me one?'
'No, I could not.'
'Oh, indeed! Well, then, I
must trust to my own sagacity.'
'Are you going to mak' the
tea?' demanded he of the shabby
coat, shifting his ferocious
gaze from me to the young lady.
'Is HE to have any?' she asked,
appealing to Heathcliff.
'Get it ready, will you?' was
the answer, uttered so savagely
that I started. The tone in which
the words were said revealed
a genuine bad nature. I no longer
felt inclined to call Heathcliff
a capital fellow. When the preparations
were finished, he invited me
with - 'Now, sir, bring forward
your chair.' And we all, including
the rustic youth, drew round
the table: an austere silence
prevailing while we discussed
I thought, if I had caused
the cloud, it was my duty to
make an effort to dispel it.
They could not every day sit
so grim and taciturn; and it
was impossible, however ill-tempered
they might be, that the universal
scowl they wore was their every-day
'It is strange,' I began, in
the interval of swallowing one
cup of tea and receiving another
- 'it is strange how custom can
mould our tastes and ideas: many
could not imagine the existence
of happiness in a life of such
complete exile from the world
as you spend, Mr. Heathcliff;
yet, I'll venture to say, that,
surrounded by your family, and
with your amiable lady as the
presiding genius over your home
and heart - '
'My amiable lady!' he interrupted,
with an almost diabolical sneer
on his face. 'Where is she -
my amiable lady?'
'Mrs. Heathcliff, your wife,
'Well, yes - oh, you would
intimate that her spirit has
taken the post of ministering
angel, and guards the fortunes
of Wuthering Heights, even when
her body is gone. Is that it?'
Perceiving myself in a blunder,
I attempted to correct it. I
might have seen there was too
great a disparity between the
ages of the parties to make it
likely that they were man and
wife. One was about forty: a
period of mental vigour at which
men seldom cherish the delusion
of being married for love by
girls: that dream is reserved
for the solace of our declining
years. The other did not look
Then it flashed on me - 'The
clown at my elbow, who is drinking
his tea out of a basin and eating
his broad with unwashed hands,
may be her husband: Heathcliff
junior, of course. Here is the
consequence of being buried alive:
she has thrown herself away upon
that boor from sheer ignorance
that better individuals existed!
A sad pity - I must beware how
I cause her to regret her choice.'
The last reflection may seem
conceited; it was not. My neighbour
struck me as bordering on repulsive;
I knew, through experience, that
I was tolerably attractive.
'Mrs. Heathcliff is my daughter-in-law,'
said Heathcliff, corroborating
my surmise. He turned, as he
spoke, a peculiar look in her
direction: a look of hatred;
unless he has a most perverse
set of facial muscles that will
not, like those of other people,
interpret the language of his
'Ah, certainly - I see now:
you are the favoured possessor
of the beneficent fairy,' I remarked,
turning to my neighbour.
This was worse than before:
the youth grew crimson, and clenched
his fist, with every appearance
of a meditated assault. But he
seemed to recollect himself presently,
and smothered the storm in a
brutal curse, muttered on my
behalf: which, however, I took
care not to notice.
'Unhappy in your conjectures,
sir,' observed my host; 'we neither
of us have the privilege of owning
your good fairy; her mate is
dead. I said she was my daughter-in-law:
therefore, she must have married
'And this young man is - '
'Not my son, assuredly.'
Heathcliff smiled again, as
if it were rather too bold a
jest to attribute the paternity
of that bear to him.
'My name is Hareton Earnshaw,'
growled the other; 'and I'd counsel
you to respect it!'
'I've shown no disrespect,'
was my reply, laughing internally
at the dignity with which he
He fixed his eye on me longer
than I cared to return the stare,
for fear I might be tempted either
to box his ears or render my
hilarity audible. I began to
feel unmistakably out of place
in that pleasant family circle.
The dismal spiritual atmosphere
overcame, and more than neutralised,
the glowing physical comforts
round me; and I resolved to be
cautious how I ventured under
those rafters a third time.
The business of eating being
concluded, and no one uttering
a word of sociable conversation,
I approached a window to examine
the weather. A sorrowful sight
I saw: dark night coming down
prematurely, and sky and hills
mingled in one bitter whirl of
wind and suffocating snow.
'I don't think it possible
for me to get home now without
a guide,' I could not help exclaiming.
'The roads will be buried already;
and, if they were bare, I could
scarcely distinguish a foot in
'Hareton, drive those dozen
sheep into the barn porch. They'll
be covered if left in the fold
all night: and put a plank before
them,' said Heathcliff.
'How must I do?' I continued,
with rising irritation.
There was no reply to my question;
and on looking round I saw only
Joseph bringing in a pail of
porridge for the dogs, and Mrs.
Heathcliff leaning over the fire,
diverting herself with burning
a bundle of matches which had
fallen from the chimney-piece
as she restored the tea-canister
to its place. The former, when
he had deposited his burden,
took a critical survey of the
room, and in cracked tones grated
out - 'Aw wonder how yah can
faishion to stand thear i' idleness
un war, when all on 'ems goan
out! Bud yah're a nowt, and it's
no use talking - yah'll niver
mend o'yer ill ways, but goa
raight to t' divil, like yer
mother afore ye!'
I imagined, for a moment, that
this piece of eloquence was addressed
to me; and, sufficiently enraged,
stepped towards the aged rascal
with an intention of kicking
him out of the door. Mrs. Heathcliff,
however, checked me by her answer.
'You scandalous old hypocrite!'
she replied. 'Are you not afraid
of being carried away bodily,
whenever you mention the devil's
name? I warn you to refrain from
provoking me, or I'll ask your
abduction as a special favour!
Stop! look here, Joseph,' she
continued, taking a long, dark
book from a shelf; 'I'll show
you how far I've progressed in
the Black Art: I shall soon be
competent to make a clear house
of it. The red cow didn't die
by chance; and your rheumatism
can hardly be reckoned among
'Oh, wicked, wicked!' gasped
the elder; 'may the Lord deliver
us from evil!'
'No, reprobate! you are a castaway
- be off, or I'll hurt you seriously!
I'll have you all modelled in
wax and clay! and the first who
passes the limits I fix shall
- I'll not say what he shall
be done to - but, you'll see!
Go, I'm looking at you!'
The little witch put a mock
malignity into her beautiful
eyes, and Joseph, trembling with
sincere horror, hurried out,
praying, and ejaculating 'wicked'
as he went. I thought her conduct
must be prompted by a species
of dreary fun; and, now that
we were alone, I endeavoured
to interest her in my distress.
'Mrs. Heathcliff,' I said earnestly,
'you must excuse me for troubling
you. I presume, because, with
that face, I'm sure you cannot
help being good-hearted. Do point
out some landmarks by which I
may know my way home: I have
no more idea how to get there
than you would have how to get
'Take the road you came,' she
answered, ensconcing herself
in a chair, with a candle, and
the long book open before her.
'It is brief advice, but as sound
as I can give.'
'Then, if you hear of me being
discovered dead in a bog or a
pit full of snow, your conscience
won't whisper that it is partly
'How so? I cannot escort you.
They wouldn't let me go to the
end of the garden wall.'
'YOU! I should be sorry to
ask you to cross the threshold,
for my convenience, on such a
night,' I cried. 'I want you
to tell me my way, not to SHOW
it: or else to persuade Mr. Heathcliff
to give me a guide.'
'Who? There is himself, Earnshaw,
Zillah, Joseph and I. Which would
'Are there no boys at the farm?'
'No; those are all.'
'Then, it follows that I am
compelled to stay.'
'That you may settle with your
host. I have nothing to do with
'I hope it will be a lesson
to you to make no more rash journeys
on these hills,' cried Heathcliff's
stern voice from the kitchen
entrance. 'As to staying here,
I don't keep accommodations for
visitors: you must share a bed
with Hareton or Joseph, if you
'I can sleep on a chair in
this room,' I replied.
'No, no! A stranger is a stranger,
be he rich or poor: it will not
suit me to permit any one the
range of the place while I am
off guard!' said the unmannerly
With this insult my patience
was at an end. I uttered an expression
of disgust, and pushed past him
into the yard, running against
Earnshaw in my haste. It was
so dark that I could not see
the means of exit; and, as I
wandered round, I heard another
specimen of their civil behaviour
amongst each other. At first
the young man appeared about
to befriend me.
'I'll go with him as far as
the park,' he said.
'You'll go with him to hell!'
exclaimed his master, or whatever
relation he bore. 'And who is
to look after the horses, eh?'
'A man's life is of more consequence
than one evening's neglect of
the horses: somebody must go,'
murmured Mrs. Heathcliff, more
kindly than I expected.
'Not at your command!' retorted
Hareton. 'If you set store on
him, you'd better be quiet.'
'Then I hope his ghost will
haunt you; and I hope Mr. Heathcliff
will never get another tenant
till the Grange is a ruin,' she
'Hearken, hearken, shoo's cursing
on 'em!' muttered Joseph, towards
whom I had been steering.
He sat within earshot, milking
the cows by the light of a lantern,
which I seized unceremoniously,
and, calling out that I would
send it back on the morrow, rushed
to the nearest postern.
'Maister, maister, he's staling
t' lanthern!' shouted the ancient,
pursuing my retreat. 'Hey, Gnasher!
Hey, dog! Hey Wolf, holld him,
On opening the little door,
two hairy monsters flew at my
throat, bearing me down, and
extinguishing the light; while
a mingled guffaw from Heathcliff
and Hareton put the copestone
on my rage and humiliation. Fortunately,
the beasts seemed more bent on
stretching their paws, and yawning,
and flourishing their tails,
than devouring me alive; but
they would suffer no resurrection,
and I was forced to lie till
their malignant masters pleased
to deliver me: then, hatless
and trembling with wrath, I ordered
the miscreants to let me out
- on their peril to keep me one
minute longer - with several
incoherent threats of retaliation
that, in their indefinite depth
of virulency, smacked of King
The vehemence of my agitation
brought on a copious bleeding
at the nose, and still Heathcliff
laughed, and still I scolded.
I don't know what would have
concluded the scene, had there
not been one person at hand rather
more rational than myself, and
more benevolent than my entertainer.
This was Zillah, the stout housewife;
who at length issued forth to
inquire into the nature of the
uproar. She thought that some
of them had been laying violent
hands on me; and, not daring
to attack her master, she turned
her vocal artillery against the
'Well, Mr. Earnshaw,' she cried,
'I wonder what you'll have agait
next? Are we going to murder
folk on our very door-stones?
I see this house will never do
for me - look at t' poor lad,
he's fair choking! Wisht, wisht;
you mun'n't go on so. Come in,
and I'll cure that: there now,
hold ye still.'
With these words she suddenly
splashed a pint of icy water
down my neck, and pulled me into
the kitchen. Mr. Heathcliff followed,
his accidental merriment expiring
quickly in his habitual moroseness.
I was sick exceedingly, and
dizzy, and faint; and thus compelled
perforce to accept lodgings under
his roof. He told Zillah to give
me a glass of brandy, and then
passed on to the inner room;
while she condoled with me on
my sorry predicament, and having
obeyed his orders, whereby I
was somewhat revived, ushered
me to bed.