Charlotte flexed her stiff fingers and rose, crossing the chilly parlor to poke with angry jabs at the coal glowing dimly in the grate. Emily started, her reverie shattered. "Goodness Charlotte, you don't have to make quite so much noise."
Charlotte ignored her younger sister and went on poking and prodding at the meager lumps that would never be sufficient to warm the spare parsonage. "If you've nothing to do, you could help me with the mending. Anne has torn another nightgown playing the pianoforte."
Emily rose ungraciously, the feet she'd tucked under her grey wool skirt had gone to sleep. She stamped her tiny boots against the cold floor. "I've got pins and needles enough in my feet. I don't need them in my hands."
Charlotte's back stiffened, her head, covered with unremarkable brown hair raised slowly, her back still facing her ungrateful sister. She stared into the fire, her spine as straight as the poker gripped in her hand. A chill, unrelated to the cold room ran down Emily's spine.
Charlotte turned smoothly, her eyes narrowed into cruel slits. When she spoke, her words were deliberate and low. "What did you say?"
Emily swallowed, her throat suddenly dry as dust. "I...well I have decided." Her back straightened as nervous hands fumbled at her waist. A look of resolve swept across her clear brow and she cleared her throat. Her voice was high but her tone was clear. "I am resolved not to do any more mending. I'm sick to death of needlework. I have decided I want to be a horse wrangler."
Charlotte gave a derisive snort. "That will be a simple task as we've only one horse."
Emily's shoulders rounded for a moment in discouragement. Charlotte did have a point. The Brontë herd consisted of only one tired plow horse named Heathcliffe.
She brightened. "I'll use Heathcliffe to start my herd!" She clapped her tiny hands in excitement. "We'll have a colt every year and soon I'll have a stable full of glorious creatures to wrangle."
Charlotte's laugh was harsh and without jollity. "You are aware Emily, that Heathcliffe is a gelding?"
Emily raised a bewildered eyebrow. "What's a gelding?"
to be continued