Hindley comes home from college for the funeral, which is bad news, because now he's master of the house. On top of that, he has a wife, Frances, in tow and she's ready to help him run the show. Mrs. Dean thinks the wife's a silly nitwit, but her suspicious coughing lets us know she probably won't be around for long anyway.
Now that Hindley is boss, things are going to change around Wuthering Heights. When Frances expresses her dislike of Heathcliff, it stokes Hindley's animosity all over again. Hindley decides to start treating his adoptive brother like a servant, reducing him to a farmhand and depriving him of an education.
Heathcliff consoles himself with the friendship and love of Catherine. The two of them steer clear of Hindley and spend a lot of time enjoying idyllic childhood activities like romping around on the moors. Having each other makes living with the tyrant Hindley OK.
But everything changes when Heathcliff comes home late one night without Catherine. Mrs. Dean demands an explanation, and this is what Heathcliff tells her:
Catherine and Heathcliff had decided it would be fun to go spy on the Linton family down at Thrushcross Grange. (There's not a lot going on around the moors.) Peering into the house, they see that it is everything Wuthering Heights is not: colorful, bright, and well-lit (and with no cranky Joseph telling them they are all going to hell).
Catherine and Heathcliff see the Linton children – Edgar and Isabella – fighting over a dog. Catherine and Heathcliff can't imagine this – they are much too in love and have other things to worry about, like a drunken sot of a guardian.
When the Linton children detect the intruders, Catherine and Heathcliff try to make a run for it, but another dog, Skulker, gets her. (Can you believe how many unruly dogs there are in this story?)
The kids are dragged into Thrushcross Grange by a servant, and Heathcliff is subjected to a round of insults based on his race and class. He's made to know he is an outsider – a "villain," the "son of fortune teller," "a gipsy," "a Spanish castaway," and so forth. Basically a lot is made of the fact that he has dark skin.
Heathcliff is locked out and sent on his way. Catherine remains behind while her wound heals and she is treated like a princess. Now Heathcliff has no one.