About one in the morning, after being nearly locked up as a mad woman, she drove back to the Vicarage, again to find no Basil. Even then she did not go to bed but raged about the house in her wet clothes, until she fell down utterly exhausted. When her husband did return on the following morning, full of information about the cathedral, she was dangerously ill, and actually passed away while uttering a violent tirade against him for his supposed suspicious proceedings.
That was the end of this truly odious British matron.
In after days Bastin, by some peculiar mental process, canonised her in his imagination as a kind of saint. “So loving,” he would say, “such a devoted wife! Why, my dear Humphrey, I can assure you that even in the midst of her death-struggle her last thoughts were of me,” words that caused Bickley to snort with more than usual vigour, until I kicked him to silence beneath the table.
Death and Departure
Now I must tell of my own terrible sorrow, which turned my life to bitterness and my hopes to ashes.
Never were a man and a woman happier together than I and Natalie. Mentally, physically, spiritually we were perfectly mated, and we loved each other dearly. Truly we were as one. Yet there was something about her which filled me with vague fears, especially after she found that she was to become a mother. I would talk to her of the child, but she would sigh and shake her head, her eyes filling with tears, and say that we must not count on the continuance of such happiness as ours, for it was too great.
I tried to laugh away her doubts, though whenever I did so I seemed to hear Bastin’s slow voice remarking casually that she might die, as he might have commented on the quality of the claret. At last, however, I grew terrified and asked her bluntly what she meant.
“I don’t quite know, dearest,” she replied, “especially as I am wonderfully well. But—but—”
“But what?” I asked.
“But I think that our companionship is going to be broken for a little while.”
“For a little while!” I exclaimed.
“Yes, Humphrey. I think that I shall be taken away from you— you know what I mean,” and she nodded towards the churchyard.
“Oh, my God!” I groaned.
“I want to say this,” she added quickly, “that if such a thing should happen, as it happens every day, I implore you, dearest Humphrey, not to be too much distressed, since I am sure that you will find me again. No, I can’t explain how or when or where, because I do not know. I have prayed for light, but it has not come to me. All I know is that I am not talking of reunion in Mr. Bastin’s kind of conventional heaven, which he speaks about as though to reach it one stumbled through darkness for a minute into a fine new house next door, where excellent servants had made everything ready for your arrival and all the lights were turned up. It is something quite different from that and very much more real.”