Her introspections were interrupted by an event that, for the time, put all such thoughts from her mind.
One morning, upon going into Harold’s room, she found that he did not recognise her. The local doctor, who usually attended him, was called in; he immediately asked for another opinion. This being obtained from London, the remedies the specialist prescribed proved so far beneficial that the patient dimly recovered the use of his senses, with the faint promise of further improvement if the medical instructions were obeyed to the letter. Then followed for Mavis long, scarcely endurable night watches, which were so protracted that often it seemed as if the hand of time had stopped, as if darkness for ever enshrouded the world. When, at last, day came, she would make an effort to snatch a few hours’ sleep in order to fit her for the next night’s attendance on the loved one. The shock of her husband’s illness immediately increased her faith in Divine Providence. It was as if her powerlessness in the face of this new disaster were such that she relied on something more than human aid to give her help. Always, before she tried to sleep, she prayed long and fervently to the Most High that He would restore her beloved husband to comparative health; that He would interfere to arrest the fell disease with which he was afflicted. She prayed as a mother for a child, sick unto death. At the back of her mind she had formed a resolution that, if her prayer were answered, she would believe in God for the rest of her life with all her old-time fervour. She dared not voice this resolve to herself; she believed that, if she did so, it would be in the nature of a threat to the Almighty; also, she feared that, if her husband got worse, it would be consequently incumbent on her to lose the much needed faith in things not of this world. Thus, when Mavis knelt she poured out her heart in supplication. She was not only praying for her husband but for herself.
But Mavis’s prayer was unheard. Her husband steadily got worse. One night, when the blackness of the sky seemed as a pall thrown over the corpse of her hopes, she took up a chance magazine, in which some verses, written to God by an author, for whose wide humanity Mavis had a great regard, attracted her.
The substance of these lines was a complaint of His pitiless disregard of the world’s sorrow. One phrase particularly attracted her: it was “His unweeting way.”
“That is it,” thought Mavis. “That expresses exactly what I feel. There is, there must be, a God, but His ways are truly unweeting. He has seen so much pain that He has got used to it and grown callous.”
One morning, when Mavis was leaving Harold, she was recalled by one of the nurses. He had signalled that he wished to see her again. Upon Mavis hastening to his side, he tried to speak, but could not. His eyes seemed to smile a last farewell till unconsciousness possessed him.