Chapter 2Yesterday 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.
`Whet are ye for?' he shouted. `T' maister's dahn i' t' fowld. Go rahnd by th' end ut' laith, if yah went tuh spake tull him.'
`Is there nobody inside to open the door?' I hallooed, responsively.
`They's nobbut t' missis; and shoo'll nut oppen't an ye mak yer flaysome dins till neeght.'
`Why? Cannot you tell her who I am, eh, Joseph?'
`Nor-ne me! Aw'll hae noa 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.
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