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I have just returned from Wuthering Heights – the loneliest house you could ever imagine. The ancient stone farmhouse stands high up on the moors, blank-faced and grim, with a hedge of stunted trees bent almost double by the wind. Wuthering Heights is the home of Mr. Heathcliff, who also owns Thrushcross Grange[2], the house where I am staying. So, once I had settled into my rooms at the Grange, I thought it would be polite to visit my landlord, up at the Heights.

It was a hard ride across the moors, and as I approached Wuthering Heights, I was pleased to see a man who I thought must be Heathcliff, leaning on his garden gate, and gazing out over the moors. He was tall and wild-looking, with a mane of thick, dark hair, and as I came nearer, he seemed to shrink away from me, scowling up from under heavy, black eyebrows.

«Mr. Heathcliff?» I asked politely.

The man nodded.

«Let my introduce myself, sir,» I continued. «I am Mr. Lockwood, your new tenant, and I hope I won’t be troubling you too much if…»

«I don’t allow anyone to trouble me,» he interrupted rudely. Then, after a pause, he added gruffly, «Walk in!»

Heathcliff showed me into a large sitting room. The room was dark and plainly furnished, with an enormous fireplace and some vicious-looking pistols hanging on the wall. In one corner, a huge hound was curled up in a basket, surrounded by a mass of squealing puppies, and I could just make out some other large dogs hiding in the shadows.

I sat down by the fireside and tried to stroke one of the wolfish-looking beasts,

«You’d better leave her alone,» growled Heathcliff, «she’s not used to being spoiled.»

Then he strode off in search of a servant, leaving me alone in the room.

Грозовой перевал / Wuthering Heights - _015_2.jpg

Almost as soon as their master had disappeared, the beasts began to close in on me. Two shaggy-haired sheepdogs advanced menacingly towards me and others appeared from all corners of the room. I stayed very still in my chair, but couldn’t resist pulling faces and winking at the dogs. This foolish action drove them into a frenzy[3], and soon they were attacking me from all sides, tugging at my clothes, and baring their teeth in a storm of snarling and yelping.

Fortunately for me, the housemaid arrived just in time. She swirled around the room swinging at the dogs with her heavy frying pan, and was just chasing away the last of them when her master returned.

«What the devil is the matter?» he asked angrily.

But I was angry too. «What the devil indeed!» I replied. «You might just as well leave your guests alone with a pack of tigers!»

At this, Heathcliff’s face relaxed into a smile.

«Come, come,» he said, «don’t be flustered, Mr. Lockwood. Guests are so exceedingly rare in this house that I and my dogs hardly know how to look after them. Here, take a little wine with me. To your good health, sir!»

I decided to put the unfortunate incident behind me and gracefully accepted Heathcliff’s offer of wine. Then we settled down by the fireplace and talked for almost an hour, discussing the moors and the history of the area. To my surprise, my landlord turned out to be a well-educated man, and I asked myself why a gentleman like him would choose to spend his life cut off from the rest of the world.

All the way back across the moors, I thought about Heathcliff and his lonely life, and by the time I reached the Grange, I had made up my mind. I would make a friend of him, whether he liked it or not.

The next day was cold and misty, but I was determined to see my new friend again, so as soon as lunch was over, I set off to walk the four miles to the Heights. But even before I reached the house, I was regretting my plan. I was shivering and exhausted, and the first flakes of snow were just starting to fall.

I hammered on the door until my knuckles tingled and the dogs howled.

«Wretched people,» I shouted, shaking the door latch, «I’m freezing to death out here. Why don’t you let me in?»

A vinegary-faced old servant stuck his head out of the window.

«The master’s not at home. You’ll have to go and find him out in the fields.»

«Well, isn’t there anyone here to let me in?»

«There’s only the missus,» the old man replied, «and she wouldn’t open the door if you made that noise all night.»

By this time, the snow had begun to fall heavily and I had just seized the knocker to start hammering again when a young man with a pitchfork appeared in the yard. He called to me to follow him and we soon arrived in the room where I had been before.

I cheered up greatly when I saw a large fire burning in the grate, and I was delighted to see the «missus», sitting next to a table laid for supper. I bowed and waited, thinking that she would offer me a seat, but she stayed completely silent, staring up at me from her chair. She was about eighteen years old and very slim, with fair, curling hair. She also had the most exquisite face I had ever seen, with small features and eyes which would have been irresistible, if only they had a less disagreeable expression.

«Rough weather!» I remarked to the beautiful young lady.

She stared at me without smiling.

«Sit down,» said the young man, gruffly. «He’ll be in soon.»

I obeyed, and began to fondle the wretched dog that had caused me so much trouble on my last visit.

«A beautiful animal!» I started again. «Do you plan to keep her puppies, madam?»

«They’re not mine,» my charming hostess replied in a voice even more chilling than Heathcliff would have used.

«Ah, so these are your pets then?» I said, turning to a cushion full of something like cats.

«A strange choice of pets», she observed scornfully.

Unfortunately, the pets turned out to be a heap of dead rabbits! I cleared my throat again and tried repeating my comments on the weather.

«Well you shouldn’t have come out,» was all the rude young woman could say as she reached up for a canister of tea.

«Were you asked for tea?» she demanded.

«I would very much like a cup.»

«But were you asked?»

«No,» I said, half smiling. «But surely it’s up to you, madam, to ask me that.»

This reply seemed to make her even angrier, and she flung the teaspoon back into the canister and slumped into her chair, her lower lip pushed out, ready to cry.

Грозовой перевал / Wuthering Heights - _019_2.jpg

All this time, the young man was standing in front of the fire, glaring at me as if I were his deadly enemy. I had thought at first that he must be a servant, but now I began to wonder – he seemed so proud, and made no effort at all to look after the lady of the house. I decided it would be best to ignore him, and after five minutes of awkward silence I was greatly relieved when Heathcliff arrived.

«You see sir, I have come to visit you again,» I announced cheerfully, «but I’ll need to stay for another half an hour until the snow has died down again[4]

«Half an hour?» said Heathcliff, shaking the snowflakes from his clothes. «I can tell you there’s no chance of this snow stopping now. Whatever made you come out in weather like this?»

«Well perhaps one of your servants could guide me back across the moors? Could you spare me one for the night?»

«No, I could not.»

Then Heathcliff turned to the young lady, «Are you going to make the tea?» he demanded.

«Is he having any?» she asked in disgust.

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2

Thrushcross Grange – «Мыза Скворцов» (в противоположность Wuthering Heights, это место, где жизнь протекает спокойно и умиротворенно)

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3

This foolish action drove them into frenzy – Эти глупые действия привели их в бешенство

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4

until the snow has died down again – пока снег не прекратится

2
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