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Chapter 23
THE rainy night had ushered in a cold, misty morning---half-frost, half-drizzle---and
temporary brooks crossed our path, gurgling from the uplands. My feet were thoroughly
wetted; I was cross and low; exactly the humour suited for making the most of these
disagreeable things. We entered the farmhouse by the kitchen way, to ascertain whether
Mr. Heathcliff were really absent; because I put slight faith in his own affirmation.
Joseph seemed sitting in a sort of elysium alone, beside a roaring fire; a quart of ale on
the table near him, bristling with large pieces of toasted oat-cake; and his black, short
pipe in his mouth. Catherine ran to the hearth to warm herself I asked if the master was
in? My question remained so long unanswered, that I thought the old man had grown
deaf, and repeated it louder.
"Na-ay!" he snarled, or rather screamed through his nose. "Na-ay! yah muh goa back
whear yah coom frough."
"Joseph!" cried a peevish voice, simultaneously with me, from the inner room. "How
often am I to call you? There are only a few red ashes now. Joseph! come this moment."
Vigorous puffs, and a resolute stare into the grate declared he had no ear for this appeal.
The housekeeper and Hareton were invisible; one gone on an errand, and the other at his
work, probably. We knew Linton's tones, and entered.
"Oh, I hope you'll die in a garret! starved to death," said the boy, mistaking our approach
for that of his negligent attendant.
He stopped, on observing his error; his cousin flew to him.
"Is that you, Miss Linton?" he said, raising his head from the arm of the great chair, in
which he reclined. "No---don't kiss me: it takes my breath. Dear me! papa said you would
call," continued he, after recovering a little from Catherine's embrace; while she stood by
looking very contrite. "Will you shut the door, if you please? you left it open; and those--
-those detestable creatures won't bring coals to the fire. It's so cold!"
I stirred up the cinders, and fetched a scuttleful myself. The invalid complained of being
covered with ashes; but he had a tiresome cough, and looked feverish and ill, so I did not
rebuke his temper.
"Well, Linton," murmured Catherine, when his corrugated brow relaxed. "Are you glad to
see me? Can I do you any good?"