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THE   BRONTES                       45
an analogy to suggest that the Gondal Chronicles,
which so absorbed them in later years, grew out
of a play which, following the example of Char-
lotte and Branwell, they had invented in child-
hood* Many children are similarly inventive,
though it is rare to find childish creations per-
sisting through adolescence and continuing well
into the twenties, as happened with the Brontes.
The explanation must be sought in their excep-
tionally isolated circumstances and in their shy-
ness, the result, probably, of isolation. All the
Brontes, except Branwell, were morbidly shy, but
then Branwell was the only one who had anything
like regular contact with the outside world. Char-
lotte was not shy at home or with friends ;
Emily's shyness was more fierce reserve than
timidity. It is worth noting that a mention of
Emily, aged six, when she was at Cowan Bridge
School, by the " Miss Temple" of Jane Eyre,
makes no reference to her shyness. " Miss
Temple " wrote her recollections of the Bronte
children to Mrs. Gaskell, and after dwelling on
Elizabeth's " exemplary patience " on an occa-
sion when she had an accident and cut her head
badly, she wrote : " Of the two younger ones (if
two there were) I have very slight recollections,
save that one, a darling child, under five years of
age, was quite the pet nursling of the school/'
This would have been Emily, as Mrs. Gaskell
points out, though she was six, not " under five,"
in September 1824, when she went with Charlotte
to Cowan Bridge. Her name was also entered in
the School Register with the remark : " Reads