“Monsieur Androvsky has gone—without saying good-bye,” he said.
Again Domini felt ashamed for Androvsky.
“I don’t think he likes my pensioners,” the Count added, in amused voice, “or me.”
“I am sure—” Domini began.
But he stopped her.
“Miss Enfilden, in a world of lies I look to you for truth.”
His manner chafed her, but his voice had a ring of earnestness. She said nothing. All this time the Diviner was standing on the sand, still smiling, but with downcast eyes. His thin body looked satirical and Domini felt a strong aversion from him, yet a strong interest in him too. Something in his appearance and manner suggested power and mystery as well as cunning. The Count said some words to him in Arabic, and at once he walked forward and disappeared among the trees, going so silently and smoothly that she seemed to watch a panther gliding into the depths of a jungle where its prey lay hid. She looked at the Count interrogatively.
“He will wait in the fumoir.”
“Where we first met?”
“For us, if you choose.”
“Tell me about him. I have seen him twice. He followed me with a bag of sand.”
“He is a desert man. I don’t know his tribe, but before he settled here he was a nomad, one of the wanderers who dwell in tents, a man of the sand; as much of the sand as a viper or a scorpion. One would suppose such beings were bred by the marriage of the sand-grains. The sand tells him secrets.”
“He says. Do you believe it?”
“Would you like to test it?”
“By coming with me to the fumoir?”
She hesitated obviously.
“Mind,” he added, “I do not press it. A word from me and he is gone. But you are fearless, and you have spoken already, will speak much more intimately in the future, with the desert spirits.”
“How do you know that?”
“The ’much more intimately’?”
“I do not know it, but—which is much more—I feel it.”
She was silent, looking towards the trees where the Diviner had disappeared. Count Anteoni’s boyish merriment had faded away. He looked grave, almost sad.
“I am not afraid,” she said at last. “No, but—I will confess it—there is something horrible about that man to me. I felt it the first time I saw him. His eyes are too intelligent. They look diseased with intelligence.”
“Let me send him away. Smain!”
But she stopped him. Directly he made the suggestion she felt that she must know more of this man.
“No. Let us go to the fumoir.”
“Very well. Go, Smain!”
Smain went into the little tent by the gate, sat down on his haunches and began to smell at a sprig of orange blossoms. Domini and the Count walked into the darkness of the trees.