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Chapter 4
WHAT vain weather-cocks we are! I, who had determined to hold myself independent of
all social intercourse, and thanked my stars that, at length, I had lighted on a spot where it
was next to impracticable---I, weak wretch, after maintaining till dusk a struggle with low
spirits and solitude, was finally compelled to strike my colours; and, under pretence of
gaining information concerning the necessities of my establishment, I desired Mrs. Dean,
when she brought in supper, to sit down while I ate it; hoping sincerely she would prove a
regular gossip, and either rouse me to animation or lull me to sleep by her talk.
"You have lived here a considerable time," I commenced; "did you not say sixteen
"Eighteen, sir: I came, when the mistress was married, to wait on her; after she died, the
master retained me for his housekeeper."
There ensued a pause. She was not a gossip, I feared; unless about her own affairs, and
those could hardly interest me. However, having studied for an interval, with a fist on
either knee, and a cloud of meditation over her ruddy countenance, she ejaculated:
"Ah, times are greatly changed since then!"
"Yes," I remarked, "you've seen a good many alterations, I suppose?"
"I have: and troubles too," she said.
"Oh, I'll turn the talk on my landlord's family!" I thought to myself. "A good subject to
start! And that pretty girl-widow, I should like to know her history: whether she be a
native of the country, or, as is more probable, an exotic that the surly indigenae will not
recognise for kin."
With this intention I asked Mrs. Dean why Heathcliff let Thrushcross Grange, and
preferred living in a situation and residence so much inferior.
"Is he not rich enough to keep the estate in good order?" I enquired.
"Rich, sir!" she returned. "He has, nobody knows what money, and every year it
increases. Yes, yes, he's rich enough to live in a finer house than this: but he's very near--
-close-handed; and, if he had meant to flit to Thrushcross Grange, as soon as he heard of
a good tenant he could not have borne to miss the chance of getting a few hundreds more.
It is strange people should be so greedy, when they are alone in the world!"