“The gift of belief.”
“Then you do believe in that man—Aloui?”
“I can only say that it seemed to me as if it might be divination. If I had not felt that I should not have stopped it. I should have treated it as a game.”
“It impressed you as it impresses me. Well, for both of us the desert has gifts. Let us accept them fearlessly. It is the will of Allah.”
She remembered her vision of the pale procession. Would she walk in it at last?
“You are as fatalistic as an Arab,” she said.
“I!” she answered simply. “I believe that I am in the hands of God, and I know that perfect love can never harm me.”
After a moment he said, gently:
“Miss Enfilden, I want to ask something of you.”
“Will you make a sacrifice? To-morrow I start at dawn. Will you be here to wish me God speed on my journey?”
“Of course I will.”
“It will be good of you. I shall value it from you. And—and when—if you ever make your long journey on that road—the route to the south—I will wish you Allah’s blessing in the Garden of Allah.”
He spoke with solemnity, almost with passion, and she felt the tears very near her eyes. Then they sat in silence, looking out over the desert.
And she heard its voices calling.
On the following morning, before dawn, Domini awoke, stirred from sleep by her anxiety, persistent even in what seemed unconsciousness, to speed Count Anteoni upon his desert journey. She did not know why he was going, but she felt that some great issue in his life hung upon the accomplishment of the purpose with which he set out, and without affectation she ardently desired that accomplishment. As soon as she awoke she lit a candle and glanced at her watch. She knew by the hour that the dawn was near, and she got up at once and made her toilet. She had told Batouch to be at the hotel door before sunrise to accompany her to the garden, and she wondered if he were below. A stillness as of deep night prevailed in the house, making her movements, while she dressed, seem unnaturally loud. When she put on her hat, and looked into the glass to see if it were just at the right angle, she thought her face, always white, was haggard. This departure made her a little sad. It suggested to her the instability of circumstance, the perpetual change that occurs in life. The going of her kind host made her own going more possible than before, even more likely. Some words from the Bible kept on running through her brain “Here have we no continuing city.” In the silent darkness their cadence held an ineffable melancholy. Her mind heard them as the ear, in a pathetic moment, hears sometimes a distant strain of music wailing like a phantom through the invisible. And the everlasting journeying of all created things oppressed her heart.