You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Wuthering Heights Author: Emily Bronte Release Date: April 19, 2007 eBook #768 This file last updated on August 28, 2010 Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII) ***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK WUTHERING HEIGHTS*** Transcribed from the 1910 John Murray edition by David Price, email firstname.lastname@example.org WUTHERING HEIGHTS CHAPTER I 1801.--I have just returned from a visit to my landlord--the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.
Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed: one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun.
Possibly, some people might suspect him of a degree of under-bred pride; I have a sympathetic chord within that tells me it is nothing of the sort: I know, by instinct, his reserve springs from an aversion to showy displays of feeling--to manifestations of mutual kindliness.
Mr. Heathcliff may have entirely dissimilar reasons for keeping his hand out of the way when he meets a would-be acquaintance, to those which actuate me.
I 'never told my love' vocally; still, if looks have language, the merest idiot might have guessed I was over head and ears: she understood me at last, and looked a return--the sweetest of all imaginable looks.
You might as well leave a stranger with a brood of tigers!'
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.
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.
'Perhaps I can get a guide among your lads, and he might stay at the Grange till morning--could you spare me one?'
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 countenance.
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.
Then it flashed upon me--'The clown at my elbow, who is drinking his tea out of a basin and eating his bread with unwashed hands, may be her husband: Heathcliff junior, of course.
The last reflection may seem conceited; it was not.
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.
gasped the elder; 'may the Lord deliver us from evil!'
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 to London!'
'That you may settle with your host.
'All day had been flooding with rain; we could not go to church, so Joseph must needs get up a congregation in the garret; and, while Hindley and his wife basked downstairs before a comfortable fire--doing anything but reading their Bibles, I'll answer for it--Heathcliff, myself, and the unhappy ploughboy were commanded to take our prayer-books, and mount: we were ranged in a row, on a sack of corn, groaning and shivering, and hoping that Joseph would shiver too, so that he might give us a short homily for his own sake.
'Saying this, he compelled us so to square our positions that we might receive from the far-off fire a dull ray to show us the text of the lumber he thrust upon us.
A pleasant suggestion--and then, if the surly old man come in, he may believe his prophecy verified--we cannot be damper, or colder, in the rain than we are here.'