Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights: Ch. 2

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Chapter II

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’clockh; 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,w and the air made me shiver through every limb.  Being unable to remove the chain,d 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.w  Go round by th’ end o’ t’ laith,w 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.’w

‘Why?  Cannot you tell her whom I am, eh, Joseph?’

‘Nor-ne me!  I’ll hae no hendw wi’t,’ muttered the head, vanishing.

The snow began to drive thickly.d  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:d I had hard work to make them hear me.’

She never opened her mouth.d  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.

X [h] N.B.—I dine between twelve and one o’clock

Daily Life

"N. B." is the abbreviation for nota bene or note well or heed this. Lockwood's use of it is pedantic. 

His dining hours are based on the London custom of a late dinner, the main meal. We learn shortly that people at the Heights go to bed at 9 and rise at 4. Hence, the early dinner at noon to one. This change in routine further unsettles Lockwood.

X [w] black frost,

A black frost is a below freezing temperature that, owing to the air's dryness, produces no white frosting on the flora but will turn it black.

X [d] Being unable to remove the chain,

Why? That he can't indicates his unfamiliarity and/or lack of strength. This prepares us for the moment coming up when he claims an exaggerated view of his strength.

X [w] fowld.

Sheepfold.

X [w] t’ laith,

By the end of the barn.

N.B.: from now on the notes on the dialect will be attached to the last word of the phrase, sentence, or paragraph and then translate whatever dialect precedes.

X [w] neeght.’

"There's only the missis; and she'll not open it [eveni] if you make such a terrible racket until night."

X [w] hend

"I'll have no hand in it."

X [d] The snow began to drive thickly.

Writing & Reading

Extreme weather, including gorgeous calms, often accompanies the plot or, as here, determines it.

The weather is the actualization of what German Romanticism called sturm und drang (ReSearch), a German literary term meaning storm and stress and denoting certain kinds of poetry and fiction in which powerful emotions dominate. Weather in Wuthering Heights is the point at which human behavior and nature intersect. 

X [d] the door must bear the consequence of your se…

Lockwood is suggesting that he's accustomed to attentive servants and that he's strong enough to have left his mark on the door. Both claims can only amuse "Mrs. Heathcliff." 

X [d] She never opened her mouth.

Precisely Emily Brontë's own general behavior (see the introductory annotation).