When she had buttoned her jacket and drawn on her gloves she went to the French window and pushed back the shutters. A wan semi-darkness looked in upon her. Again she wondered whether Batouch had come. It seemed to her unlikely. She could not imagine that anyone in all the world was up and purposeful but herself. This hour seemed created as a curtain for unconsciousness. Very softly she stepped out upon the verandah and looked over the parapet. She could see the white road, mysteriously white, below. It was deserted. She leaned down.
“Batouch!” she called softly. “Batouch!”
He might be hidden under the arcade, sleeping in his burnous.
No answer came. She stood by the parapet, waiting and looking down the road.
All the stars had faded, yet there was no suggestion of the sun. She faced an unrelenting austerity. For a moment she thought of this atmosphere, this dense stillness, this gravity of vague and shadowy trees, as the environment of those who had erred, of the lost spirits of men who had died in mortal sin.
Almost she expected to see the desperate shade of her dead father pass between the black stems of the palm trees, vanish into the grey mantle that wrapped the hidden world.
He was not there. That was certain. She resolved to set out alone and went back into her bedroom to get her revolver. When she came out again with it in her hand Androvsky was standing on the verandah just outside her window. He took off his hat and looked from her face to the revolver. She was startled by his appearance, for she had not heard his step, and had been companioned by a sense of irreparable solitude. This was the first time she had seen him since he vanished from the garden on the previous day.
“You are going out, Madame?” he said.
“I believe so. Unless I find Batouch below.”
She slipped the revolver into the pocket of the loose coat she wore.
“But it is dark.”
“It will be day very soon. Look!”
She pointed towards the east, where a light, delicate and mysterious as the distant lights in the opal, was gently pushing in the sky.
“You ought not to go alone.”
“Unless Batouch is there I must. I have given a promise and I must keep it. There is no danger.”
He hesitated, looking at her with an anxious, almost a suspicious, expression.
“Good-bye, Monsieur Androvsky.”
She went towards the staircase. He followed her quickly to the head of it.
“Don’t trouble to come down with me.”
“If—if Batouch is not there—might not I guard you, Madame?” She remembered the Count’s words and answered:
“Let me tell you where I am going. I am going to say good-bye to Count Anteoni before he starts for his desert journey.”