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Il6                      THE   BRONTES
solicitude lest her patient should be tired by too
long gossip, but none the less having the effect of
pushing the tragic scene away from us, back into
the Past where it belongs, needing no one's tears
any more. For visible proof of this, there is Mrs.
Dean who has lived through it all, perfectly com-
posed, the " dree story " driven from her mind
by a glance at the clock which points to the hour
for Lockwood's medicine or gruel.
Mrs. Dean herself is another source of mitiga-
tion. Not that her attitude towards what has
happened is a tender one : far from it. She is
in some ways a crude medium, one through whose
eyes subtly perceptive people would be loth to
follow, unreservedly, any course of events. She
was a respectable, old-fashioned north-country
woman, of the type that the Brontes knew so well
in the person of their devoted old servant Tabby,
going into service in young girlhood, becoming
part and parcel of the family she worked for,
honest, faithful, outspoken, independent but with
a narrow outlook, naturally, and no sensitive
understanding of character though shrewd to
seize outstanding traits. Born and bred where
life is rough and folk, more often than not, are
violent in speech and deed, such people are not
deeply affected by violence ; they accept it as
part of life and meet it unsurprisedly, or at least
without lasting perturbation. They do not put
themselves about to fathom the causes of strange
or wild behaviour, for which very reason their
accounts of it are more definite and dramatic than
the versions of those who seek an explanation of