1802.—This September I was invited to devastate the moorsd 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’w 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 awhile, 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 housesteps, smoking a meditative pipe.d
‘Is Mrs. Dean within?’ I demanded of the dame.
‘Mistress Dean? Nay!’ she answered, ‘she doesn’t bide here: shoo’s up at th’ Heights.’
‘Are you the housekeeper, then?’ I continued.
‘Eea, aw keep th’ hause,’ she replied.
‘Well, I’m Mr. Lockwood, the master. Are there any rooms to lodge me in, I wonder? I wish to stay 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 mensfulw 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 bade 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.
‘Eea, f’r owt ee knaw!’ she answered, skurrying away with a pan of hot cinders.
Lockwood's wit. Partridge season opened Sept. 1. Hunting was the English gentleman's obsession, determining his calendar.
Always three weeks. Because of the colder climate (some 800' high, with winds), Gimmerton has a later harvest.
Writing & Reading
As the novel nears its conclusion, it settles back into quieter goings-on. This, like Lockwood's partridge hunting and Joseph's dialect, is one of the many details that reinforce the novel's realism. These are the Yorkshire moors in 1800, and what has happened was tantamount to the bursting of a peat bog but not a lasting cataclysm. …