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-yah'll niver mend uh yer ways; bud goa raight tuh ť divil, like yer mother afore ye !”
I imagined, for a moment, that this piece of eloquence was addressed to me; and, sufficiently enraged, stepped toward the aged rascal with an intention of kicking him out of the door.
Mrs. Heathcliff, however, checked me by her answer.
“You scandalous old hypocrite !” she replied; “are you not afraid of being carried away bodily, whenever you mention the devil's name? I warn you to refrain from provoking me, or I'll ask your abduction as a special favor. Stop, look here Joseph," she continued, taking a long, dark book from a shelf. “I'll show you how far I've progressed in the Black Art-I shall soon be competent to make a clear house of it. The red cow didn't die by chance; and your rheumatism can hardly be reckoned among providential visitations !”
“Oh, wicked, wicked !” gasped the elder, “may the Lord deliver us from evil !”.
“No, reprobate! you are a castaway-be off, or I'll hurt you seriously! I'll have you all modeled in wax and clay; and the first who passes the limits I fix, shall-I'll not say what he shall be done to-but, you'll see! Go, I'm looking at you !”
The little witch put a mock malignity into her beautiful eyes, and Joseph, trembling with sincere horror, hurried out praying and ejaculating “ wicked" as he went.
I thought her conduct must be prompted by a species of dreary fun; and, now that we were alone, I endeavored to interest her in my distress.
"Mrs. Heathcliff,” I said, earnestly, “you must excuse me for troubling you-I presume, because, with that face, I'm sure you can not help being good-hearted. 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 !”
“ Take the road you came," she answered, ensconcing herself in a chair, with a candle, and the long book open before her. “It is brief advice; but as sound as I can give.”
“Then, if you hear of me being discovered dead in a bog, or a pit full of snow, your conscience won't whisper that it is partly your fault ?”
“How so? I can not escort you. They wouldn't let me go to the end of the garden-wall.”
“You! I should be sorry to ask you to cross the threshold for my convenience on such a night,” I cried. “I want you to tell me my way, not to show it; or else to persuade Mr. Heathcliff to give me a guide.”
Who? There is himself, Earnshaw, Zillah, Joseph, and I. Which would you have ?”
“ Are there no boys at the farm ? " “No, those are all.” “Then it follows that I am compelled to stay."
“ That you may settle with your host. I have nothing to do with it.”
“I hope it will be a lesson to you, to make no more rash journeys on these hills,” cried Heathcliff's stern voice from the kitchen entrance. “As to staying here, I don't keep accommodations for visitors; you must share a bed with Hareton or Joseph, if you do."
“I can sleep on a chair in this room," I replied.
“No, no! A stranger is a stranger, be he rich or poor-it will not suit me to permit any one the range of the place while I am off guard !” said the unmannerly wretch.
With this insult my patience was at an end. I uttered an expression of disgust, and pushed past him into the yard, running against Earnshaw
in my haste. It was so dark that I could not see the means of exit, and as I wandered round I heard another specimen of their civil behavior among each other.
At first the young man appeared about to befriend me.
“I'll go with him as far as the park,” he said.
“You'll go with him to hell !” exclaimed his master, or whatever relation he bore. “And who is to look after the horses, eh?”.
"A man's life is of more consequence than one evening's neglect of the horses; somebody must go,” murmured Mrs. Heathcliff, more kindly than I expected.
“Not at your command !” retorted Hareton. “If you set store on him you'd better be quiet.
“ Then I hope his ghost will haunt you; and I hope Mr. Heathcliff will never get another tenant, till the Grange is a ruin !" she answered, sharply.
“Hearken, hearken, shoo's cursing on em !” muttered Joseph, toward whom I had been steering.
He sat within earshot, milking the cows by the aid of a lantern, which I seized unceremoniously, and calling out that I would send it back on the morrow, rushed to the nearest postern.
“ Maister, maister, he's staling ť lantern !” shouted the ancient, pursuing my retreat. “Hey, Gnasher! Hey, dog! Hey, wolf, holld him, holld him !”
On opening the little door two hairy monsters flew at my throat, bearing me down and extinguishing the light, while a mingled guffaw from Heathcliff and Hareton put the copestone on my rage and humiliation.
Fortunately the beasts seemed more bent on stretching their paws and yawning and flourishing their tails, than devouring me alive; but they would suffer no resurrection, and I was forced to lie till their malignant masters pleased to deliver me; then hatless, and trembling with wrath, I ordered the miscreants to let me out-on their peril to keep me one minute longer—with several incoherent threats of retaliation, that, in their indefinite depth of virulence, smacked of King Lear.
The vehemence of my agitation brought on a copious bleeding at the noise, and still Heathcliff laughed, and still I scolded. I don't know what would have concluded the scene, had there not been one person at hand rather more rational than myself, and more benevolent than my entertainer. This was Zillah, the stout housewife; who at length issued forth to inquire into the nature of the uproar. She thought that some of them had been laying violent hands on me; and, not daring to attack her master, she turned her vocal artillery against the younger scoundrel.
“Well, Mr. Earnshaw,” she cried, “I wonder what you'll have agait next! Are we going to murder folk on our very door-stones? I see this house will never do for me-look at t poor lad, he's fair choking! Wisht, wisht! you mun’n’t go on so--come in, and I'll cure that. There, now, hold ye still.”
With these words she suddenly splashed a pint of icy water down my neck, and pulled me into the kitchen. Mr. Heathcliff followed, his accidental merriment expiring quickly in his habitual moroseness.
I was sick exceedingly, and dizzy and faint; and thus compelled, perforce, to accept lodgings under his roof. He told Zillah to give me a glass of brandy, and then passed on to the inner room, while she condoled with me on my sorry predicament, and having obeyed his orders, whereby I was somewhat revived, ushered me to bed.
CHARLES F. BROWNE
CHARLES FARRER BROWNE, American humorist, better known by his pseudonym of Artemus Ward, born at Waterford, Me., in 1834; died at Southampton, England, in 1867. He learned the trade of a printer, and, after a few years in Boston, became an editor in Toledo, Ohio. Here he wrote a number of sketches, signed “ Artemus Ward,” that brought him into public notice, and he was called to New York to become editor of Vanity Fair, a comic weekly. His lectures and writings were very popular, both in this country and in England. His humor is of the most extravagant kind, and amuses by its mere absurdity.
WOMAN'S RIGHTS (From the Complete Works of Artemua Ward, copyright by
• G. W. Dillingham, and used by permission) PITCHT my tent in a small town in Injianny
one day last seeson, & while I was standin at the dore takin money, a deppytashun of ladies came up & sed they wos members of the Bunkumville Female Reformin & Wimin's Rite's Associashun, and thay axed me if they cood go in without payin.
“Not exactly,” sez I, “but you can pay without goin in.”
“Dew you know who we air ?” said one of the wimin-a tall and fervshus lookin critter, with a blew kotton umbreller under her arm--“ do you know who we air, Sir ?”
“My impreshun is,” sed I, “ from a kersery view, that you air females."