THE BRONTES 127
that the obscurity attending the names of Ellis
and Acton should be dispelled.
Emily- and Anne were dead then. Their long-
cherished dream of becoming authors had scarcely
been realised, had come to seem almost a farce
to them in that miserable autumn after Branwell's
death and just before Emily died. On one
November afternoon, two years before, the three
sisters had sat together over the fire in the very
room where Charlotte, in 1850, was writing alone.
The North American Review had come that day.
Charlotte had read bits of it aloud to the other
two, thinking that as Emily seemed a little easier,
it might amuse her and Anne to hear what a bad
lot the Bells were thought to be. As she sat be-
tween them, she had studied the two " ferocious
authors/' as she called them in writing to Mr.
Williams that same evening, describing the scene.
" Ellis/3 she wrote, " £ the man of uncommon
talents, but dogged, brutal and morose/ sat lean-
ing back in his easy chair, drawing his impeded
breath as he best could and looking, alas, pit-
eously pale and wasted : it is not his wont to laugh,
but he smiled, half amused and half in scorn, as
he listened. Acton was sewing, no emotion ever
stirs him to loquacity, so he only smiled too,
dropping at the same time a single word of calm
amazement to hear his character so darkly por-
The recollection of this scene, and of many even
sadder ones, must have been terribly with her as
she sat in the empty silent room, her sisters' books
before her, their chairs close by. Wuthering