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Full text of "The Brontes"

54                      THE   BRONTES
her. Charlotte could act the schoolmistress to
Ellen ; she could tell her what to read, guide her
tastes. " Your natural abilities are excellent/*
Charlotte wrote to Ellen soon after leaving Roe
Head and back at home again, " and under the
direction of a judicious and able friend . . . you
might acquire a decided taste for elegant litera-
ture, and even poetry which, indeed, is included
under that general term. I was very much dis-
appointed by your not sending the hair . . ."
A typical schoolgirls' friendship had started, ap-
proached on Charlotte's side with prim, distrust-
ful timidity, born of Papa's precepts. It grew
apace, through letter-writing and visits, and later
became ardent; indeed, for a time, between 1835
and 1839, Charlotte was near to getting a real
emotional conception, as distinguished from in-
tellectual comprehension, of that hopeless passion
for the Marquis of Douro which had so unhinged
the mind of Lady Zenobia of Angrian fame. But
fiction is one thing and real life another. Char-
lotte, unlike Lady Zenobia, took a pull at herself
and nipped her passion for Ellen Nussey in the
bud. Ellen Nussey, evidently, did not under-
stand it: she was no Douro and her gentle blue
eyes could never have starded Charlotte with any
look but surprise or mild dismay. However, this
phase of intense feeling, which coincided with a
period of acute religious depression, occurred
after Charlotte's return to Roe Head as a teacher
in July 1835, three years after she had left the
school as a pupil. The intervening three years
were spent at Haworth, teaching her sisters and,