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Full text of "The Brontes"

go                       THE   BRONTfiS
Parsonage, with her work, no doubt, cut out to
substitute her prim authority for the gentle rule
of good, untidy Maria. Clearer against these dim
beginnings for Charlotte and Emily must have
been the Lowood tragedy, the epidemic of sick-
ness at the school, the disappearance of Maria and
Elizabeth, the sudden, solemn return home, the
dramatic first meeting with death.
After Cowan Bridge, for the next six years, until
Charlotte went to school again in 1831, Aunt
BranwelTs rule settled over the schoolroom, or
rather over the lessons conducted in the bedroom
(formerly Mrs. Bronte's bedroom) where she spent
so much of the day. The downstairs rooms and
staircase were stone-flagged ; a sore grievance
with " Aunt," who stayed much upstairs in con-
sequence and clicked about on pattens whenever
she had to descend. Her rule was prim and fussy
but not destructive of personality, or otherwise
the children could not have been so devoted to
their home. She made pets of the boy, Bran well,
and Anne, the baby. Charlotte and Emily,
though they respected, never really cared for
"Aunt."
Mr. Bronte made two attempts to marry again.
He applied first to his old love, Mary Burder of
Wethersfield, but she refused his offer. From a
correspondence between them (published in the
Sphere, August 3Oth, 1913), apparently something
in the past rankled in her mind. She twitted him
about *c those great and affluent friends you used
to write and speak of" and then she said, mysteri-
ously : " Your confidence I have never betrayed,