I snuffed it off, and, very ill at ease under the influence of cold and lingering nausea, sat up and spread open the injured tome on my knee. It was a Testament, in lean type, and smelling dreadfully musty: a fly-leaf bore the inscription-“Catherine Earnshaw, her book,” and a date some quarter of a century back.
Catherines library was select, and its state of dilapidation proved it to have been well used, though not altogether for a legitimate purpose: scarcely one chapter had escaped a pen-and-ink commentary-at least the appearance of one-covering every morsel of blank that the printer had left. Some were detached sentences; other parts took the form of a regular diary, scrawled in an unformed, childish hand. At the top of an extra page (quite a treasure, probably, when first lighted on) I was greatly amused to behold an excellent caricature of my friend Joseph,-rudely, yet powerfully sketched. An immediate interest kindled within me for the unknown Catherine, and I began forthwith to decipher her faded hieroglyphics.
“An awful Sunday,” commenced the paragraph beneath. “I wish my father were back again. Hindley is a detestable substitute-his conduct to Heathcliff is atrocious-H. and I are going to rebel-we took our initiatory step this evening.
Heathcliff kicked his to the same place
“All day had been flooding with rain; we could not go to church, so Joseph must needs get up a congregation in the garret; and, while Hindley and his wife basked downstairs before a comfortable fire-doing anything but reading their Bibles, Ill answer for it-Heathcliff, myself, and the unhappy ploughboy were commanded to take our prayer-books, and mount: we were ranged in a row, on a sack of corn, groaning and shivering, and hoping that Joseph would shiver too, so that he might give us a short homily for his own sake. A vain idea! The service lasted precisely three hours; and yet my brother had the face to exclaim, when he saw us descending, ‘What, done already?
“‘You forget you have a master here, says the tyrant. ‘Ill demolish the first who puts me out of temper! I insist on perfect sobriety and silence. Oh, boy! was that you? Frances darling, pull his hair as you go by: I heard him snap his fingers. Frances pulled his hair heartily, and then went and seated herself on her husbands knee, and there they were, like two babies, kissing and talking nonsense by the hour-foolish palaver that we should be ashamed of. We made ourselves as snug as our means allowed in the arch of the dresser. I had just fastened our pinafores together, and hung them up for a curtain, when in comes Joseph, on an errand from the stables. He tears down my handiwork, boxes my ears, and croaks:
“‘T maister nobbut just buried, and Sabbath not oered, und t sound o t gospel still i yer lugs, and ye darr be laiking! Shame on ye! sit ye down, ill childer! theres good books eneugh if yell read em: sit ye down, and think o yer sowls!
On Sunday evenings we used to be permitted to play, if we did not make much noise; now a mere titter is sufficient to send us into corners
“Saying this, he compelled us so to square our positions that we might receive from the far-off fire a dull ray to show us the text of the lumber he thrust upon us. I could not bear the employment. I took my dingy volume by the scroop, and hurled it into the dog-kennel, vowing I hated a good book. Then there was a hubbub!