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THE  BRONTES                            <2Q
consequence of insufficient and badly cooked food
and Spartan treatment, or because they were
delicate to start with, or perhaps because of both
these reasons, they were taken ill at the school
and died soon after they were fetched home.
Maria left in February 1825, and died in May ;
Elizabeth was brought home at the end of May
and died a fortnight later. Charlotte and Emily
were taken away by Mr. Bronte the day after
Elizabeth was removed ; they were both back at
Haworth when Elizabeth died. Charlotte never
forgot her impressions of that time and drew upon
them for the picture of Lowood in Jane Eyre, and
in that story, the saintly Helen Burns was Maria, ,
as nearly as Charlotte could remember her much
loved sister. With such a sister, acting the little
mother to them all since their real mother's death,
the children's early years could not have been
unhappy, though to us they seem pathetic. Char-
lotte barely remembered her mother ; she had
only an isolated memory of her playing once in
the evening light with Branwell in the parlour.
Branwell was between Charlotte and Emily.
Emily was just three when her mother died-
Anne a year and a half old - so that probably
none of the recollections of these four younger
children even brushed on that monotonous hushed
time we are so often told of when the six children
were bundled into the tiny nursery, next door to
where the mother lay dying, and told to play
quietly. Distinct-memories may not have begun
for any of them, except Maria and Elizabeth,
until Aunt Branwell was well established at the