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proceeding roused the whole hive. Half-a-dozen four-footed fiends,
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 tempest 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 on the scene.
“What the devil is the matter?” he asked, eyeing me in a
manner I could ill endure after this inhospitable treatment.
“What the devil, indeed!” I muttered. “The herd of possessed
swine could have had no worse spirits in them than those animals
of yours, sir. You might as well leave a stranger with a brood of
“They won’t meddle with persons who touch nothing,” he
remarked, putting the bottle before me, and restoring the
displaced table. “The dogs do right to be vigilant. Take a glass of
“No thank you.”
“Not bitten, are you?”
“If I had been, I would have set my signet on the biter.”
Heathcliff’s countenance relaxed into a grin.