`He is not at home then, is he?' I panted, quite breathless with quick walking and alarm.
`No, no,' she replied: `both he and Joseph are off, and I think they won't return this hour or more. Step in and rest you a bit.'
I entered, and beheld my stray lamb seated on the hearth, rocking herself in a little chair that had been her mother's when a child. Her hat was hung against the wall, and she seemed perfectly at home, laughing and chattering, in the best spirits imaginable, to Hareton--now a great, strong lad of eighteen--who stared at her with considerable curiosity and astonishment: comprehending precious little of the fluent succession of remarks and questions which her tongue never ceased pouring forth.
`Very well, miss!' I exclaimed, concealing my joy under an angry countenance. `This is your last ride, till papa comes back. I'll not trust you over the threshold again, you naughty, naughty girl!'
`Aha, Ellen!' she cried gaily, jumping up and running to my side. `I shall have a pretty story to tell tonight: and so you've found me out. Have you ever been here in your life before?'
`Put that hat on, and home at once,' said I. `I'm dreadfully grieved at you, Miss Cathy: you've done extremely wrong. It's no use pouting and crying: that won't repay the trouble I've had, scouring the country after you. To think how Mr Linton charged me to keep you in; and you stealing off so! it shows you are a, cunning little fox, and nobody will put faith in you any more.
`What have I done?' sobbed she, instantly checked. `Papa charged me nothing: he'll not scold me, Ellen-- he's never cross, like you!'
`Come, come!' I repeated. `I'll tie the riband. Now, let us have no petulance. Oh, for shame! You thirteen years old, and such a baby!'
This exclamation was caused by her pushing the hat from her head, and retreating to the chimney out of my reach.
`Nay,' said the servant, `don't be hard on the bonny lass, Mrs Dean. We made her stop: she'd fain have ridden forwards, afeard you should be uneasy. But Hareton offered to go with her, and I thought he should: it's a wild road over the hills.'
Hareton, during the discussion, stood with his hands in his pockets, too awkward to speak; though he looked as if he did not relish my intrusion.
`How long am I to wait?' I continued, disregarding the woman's interference. `It will be dark in ten minutes. Where is the pony, Miss Cathy? And where is Phoenix? I shall leave you, unless you be quick; so please yourself.'
`The pony is in the yard,' she replied, `and Phoenix is shut in there. He's bitten--and so is Charlie. I was going to tell you all about it; but you are in a bad temper, and don't deserve to hear.'
I picked up her hat, and approached to reinstate it; but perceiving that the people of the house took her part, she commenced capering round the room; and on my giving chase, ran like a mouse over and under and behind the furniture, rendering it ridiculous for me to pursue. Hareton and the woman laughed, and she joined them, and waxed more impertinent still; till I cried, in great irritation:
`Well, Miss Cathy, if you were aware whose house this is, you'd be glad enough to get out.
`It's your father's, isn't it?' said she, turning to Hareton. `Nay,' he replied, looking down, and blushing bashfully.
He could not stand a steady gaze from her eyes, though they were just his own.
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