This September I was invited to devastate the moors of a friend in the north, and on my journey to his abode, I unexpectedly came within fifteen miles of Gimmerton. The ostler at a roadside public house was holding a pail of water to refresh my horses, when a cart of very green oats, newly reaped, passed by, and he remarked:
`Yon's frough Gimmerton, nah! They're allas three wick after other folk wi' ther harvest.'
`Gimmerton ?` I repeated--my residence in that locality had already grown dim and dreamy. `Ah! I know. How far is it from this?'
`Happen fourteen mile o'er th' hills; and a rough road,' he answered.
A sudden impulse seized me to visit Thrushcross Grange. It was scarcely noon, and I conceived that I might as well pass the night under my own roof as in an inn. Besides, I could spare a day easily to arrange matters with my landlord, and thus save myself the trouble of invading the neighbourhood again. Having rested a while, I directed my servant to inquire the way to the village; and, with great fatigue to our beasts, we managed the distance in some three hours.
I left him there, and proceeded down the valley alone. The grey church looked greyer, and the lonely churchyard lonelier. I distinguished a moor sheep cropping the short turf on the graves. It was sweet, warm weather--too warm for travelling; but the heat did not hinder me from enjoying the delightful scenery above and below: had I seen it nearer August, I'm sure it would have tempted me to waste a month among its solitudes. In winter nothing more dreary, in summer nothing more divine, than those glens shut in by hills, and those bluff, bold swells of heath.
I reached the Grange before sunset, and knocked for admittance; but the family had retreated' into the back premises, I judged, by one thin, blue wreath curling from the kitchen chimney, and they did not hear. I rode into the court. Under the porch, a girl of nine or ten sat knitting, and an old woman reclined on the house steps, smoking a meditative pipe.
`Is Mrs Dean within?' I demanded of the dame.
`Mistress Dean? Nay!' she answered, `shoo doesn't bide here: shoo's up at th' Heights.'
`Are you the housekeeper, then?' I continued.
`Ea, Aw keep th' house,' she replied.
`Well, I'm Mr Lockwood, the master. Are there any rooms to lodge me in, I wonder? I wish to stay here all night.'
`T' maister!' she cried in astonishment. `Whet, whoiver knew yah wur coming? Yah sud ha' send word. They's nowt norther dry nor mensful abaht t' place: nowt there isn't!'
She threw down her pipe and bustled in, the girl followed, and I entered too; soon perceiving that her report was true, and, moreover, that I had almost upset her wits by my unwelcome apparition, I bid her be composed. I would go out for a walk; and, meantime, she must try to prepare a corner of a sitting- room for me to sup in, and a bedroom to sleep in. No sweeping and dusting, only good fire and dry sheets were necessary. She seemed willing to do her best; though she thrust the hearth-brush into the grates in mistake for the poker, and malappropriated several other articles of her craft: but I retired, confiding in her energy for a resting-place against my return. Wuthering Heights was the goal of my proposed excursion. An afterthought brought me back, when I had quitted the court.
`All well at the Heights?' I inquired of the woman.
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