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94                      THE   BRONTES
her heart. The self-mortification she then under-
went left no " being in love " but a shrunken,
bitter úC being in despair." One must remember,
also, that conventional cpnsiderations played a
part in shocking Charlotte out of any temptation
to one-sided love. For all her defiance of the
Victorian convention that forbade women to feel
passionately at all, imposing upon them a strictly
passive role even with their avowred lovers, she
was conventionally proud, and when, in Shirley,
she declared that " no purest angel need blush
to love " she was. of course, assuming the exist-
ence of another angel who had already manifested
his intentions towards the unblushing one.
Charlotte and Emily wrere together for nine
months in Brussels. Miss Branwell was taken ill
suddenly in October 1842, and, as the news was
alarming, they decided to go home at once. Their
aunt was dead before they reached Haworth.
During their absence, Mr. Weightman, also, had
died ; Martha Taylor, too, had died recently, at
the Chateau de Kockleberg in Brussels, where,
with her sister Mary, she had been a pensionnaire.
It was a gloomy homecoming and the hopeful
mood in which Charlotte had left the Parsonage
in February was snuffed out. Nevertheless, she
made up her mind to return to Brussels after
Christmas. The dull sameness of home, probably,
had something to do with that decision, though
M. Heger's letter to Mr. Bronte praising the abili-
ties and characters of his late pupils and deploring
the interruption of their studies which, he said,
needed only a little more time pour etre menes