In the pestilential episodes and in analogous outbreaks of fire, our novels continue to locate traces of an actively providential agency. These traces reflect a human desire to hold onto the comforting view of traditional faith. The desired traces are weakened, however, by the loss of genuine belief in a divine agency that plans and predisposes the future with the welfare of humanity in mind. Suggesting a debate that is never definitively concluded, the novels imply that instead of a pre-existent First Cause human beings must make do with more tentative impressions of a causality recognized in retrospect. Although this retrospective causality may still refer to God, it is connected more immediately with human beings. It relates to the narrators that reconstruct causality in their writing and to the readers that reconstruct it, in their retrospective recognition, at the conclusion of their reading. A contagion previously thought to have emanated from the original divine will is thus redefined as the medium in which all the individual human wills and other local causes are making history happen.