Perigal was struck dumb by the apparently miraculous appearance of Mavis in the room. Then, as her still body continued to menace him with a gesture of seemingly eternal accusation, he became shamefaced. A hum of voices sounded in Mavis’s ears, but she was indifferent to what they were saying.
Next, as if from a great distance, she heard her name called by a familiar voice. She was impelled to turn in the direction from which it came, to see Mrs Trivett, tearful, distraught, standing in the doorway. Mavis’s eyes expressed a fearful inquiry.
“Don’t come back! don’t come back,” wailed the woman.
Thus, almost in the same breath, Mavis learned how she had lost both lover and child.
THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW
Mavis never left the still, white body of her little one. She was convinced that they were all mistaken, and that he must soon awaken from the sleep into which he had fallen. She watched, with never-wearying eyes, for the first signs of consciousness, which she firmly believed could not long be delayed. Now and again she would hold its cold form for an hour at a stretch to her heart, in the hope that the warmth of her breasts would be communicated to her child. Once, during her long watch, she fancied that she saw his lips twitch. She excitedly called to Mrs Trivett, to whom, when she came upstairs, she told the glad news. To humour the bereaved mother, Mrs Trivett waited for further signs of animation, the absence of which by no means diminished Mavis’s confidence in their ultimate appearance. Her faith in her baby’s returning vitality, that never waned, that nothing could disturb, was so unwaveringly steadfast, that, at last, Mrs Trivett feared to approach her. Letters arrived from Miss Toombs, Perigal, Windebank, and Montague Devitt, Mavis did not open them; they accumulated on the table on which lay her untasted food. The funeral had been fixed for some days later (Mavis was indifferent as to who gave the orders), but, owing to the hot weather, it was necessary that this dread event should take place two days earlier than had originally been arranged. The night came when Mavis was compelled to take a last farewell of her loved one.
She looked at his still form with greedy, dry eyes, which never flinched. By and by, Mrs Trivett gently touched her arm, at which Mavis went downstairs without saying a word. The change from the room upstairs to the homely little parlour had the effect of making her, in some measure, realise her loss: she looked about her with wide, fearful eyes.
“My head! my head!” she suddenly cried.
“What is it, dear?” asked Mrs Trivett.
“Hold it! Hold it, someone! It’s going to burst.”
Mrs Trivett held the girl’s burning head firmly in her hands.
“Tighter! tighter!” cried Mavis.
“Oh, deary, deary! Why isn’t your husband here to comfort you?” sobbed Mrs Trivett.