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THE   BRONTES                       97
autumn of 1843, after a wretched August and
September during which time, the whole house-
hold being away on their holidays. Charlotte,
more forlorn than ever, wandered about Brussels
" trying to get a clearer acquaintance with the
streets/5 and once was so overcome by her loneli-
ness that she, an ultra Protestant, sought the con-
solation of outpouring in a confessional in Ste.
Gudule. The school re-assembled ; the Belgian
hubbub in which Charlotte took no interest - in-
deed, it desolated her - started again. Unable to
bear it any longer, Charlotte gave Mme. Heger
notice to leave. M. Heger would not hear of it;
there was evidently a scene out of which Char-
lotte drew enough comfort to stay on. But by
Christmas, her misery had festered again : M.
Heger probably had not been able to manifest
continuously the warm, if not heated, concern of
his manner during the October interview* Char-
lotte packed up her boxes and left the day after
New Year's Day. " I suffered much before I left"
Brussels/' she wrote to Ellen. " I think, however
long I live I shall not forget what the parting with
M. Heger cost me ; it grieved me so much to
grieve him who has been so true and disinterested
a friend. ..." " There are times now/3 she con-
tinued, <c when it appears to me as if all my ideas
and feelings, except a few friendships and affec-
tions, are changed from what they used to be :
something in me, which used to be enthusiasm,
is tamed down and broken. I have fewer illu-
sions ; what I wish for now is active exertion - a
stake in life."