Thursday, 30 October 2008

Beware of the dame!

Extract from Wuthering Heights:

“ I took a seat at the end of the hearthstone opposite that towards which my landlord advanced, and filled up an interval of silence by attempting to caress the canine mother, who had left her nursery, and was sneaking wolfishly to the back of my legs, her lip curled up, and her white teeth watering for a snatch. My caress provoked a long, guttural gnarl.
“You’d better let the dog alone,"growled Mr Heathcliff, in unison, checking fiercer demonstrations with a punch of his foot. “She’s not accustomed to be spoiled-not kept for a pet.”
Then, striding to a side-door, he shouted again.
“Joseph!”
Joseph mumbled indistinctly in the depths of the cellar, but gave no intimation of ascending; so, his master dived down to him, leaving me vis-à-vis the ruffiantly bitch, and a pair of grim, shaggy sheep dogs, who shared with her a jealous guardianship over all my movements.
Not anxious to come into contact with their fangs, I sat still but, imagining they would scarcely understand tacit insults, I unfortunately indulged in winking and making faces at the trio, and some turn of physiognomy so irritated madam, that she suddenly broke into a fury, and leapt on my knees. I flung her back, and hastened to interpose the table between us. This proceeding roused the whole hive. Half-a-dozen four-footed friends, of various sizes, and ages, issued from hidden dens to the common centre. I felt my heels and coat-laps peculiar subjects of assault; and, parrying off the larger combatants, as effectually as I could, with the poker, I was constrained to demand, aloud, assistance from some of the household in re-establishing peace.
Mr Heathcliff and his man climbed the cellar steps with vexatious phlegm. I don’t think they moved one second faster than usual, though the hearth was an absolute temper of worrying and yelping.
Happily, an inhabitant of the kitchen made more dispatch; a lusty dame, with tucked-up gown, bare arms, and fire-flushed cheeks, rushed into the midst of us flourishing a frying-pan; and used that weapon, and her tongue, to such purpose, that the storm subsided magically, and she only remained, heaving like a sea after a high wind, when her master entered the scene."