The man, however, intent on replacing the coin he had lost, took no notice of her, but went on vociferating and gesticulating. The traveller said something in Arabic. Domini was now very angry. She gripped the jacket, exerted all her force, and pulled the Arab violently from the door. He alighted on the platform beside her and nearly fell. Before he had recovered himself she sprang up into the train, which began to move at that very moment. As she got in, the man who had caused all the bother was leaning forward with a bit of silver in his hand, looking as if he were about to leave his seat. Domini cast a glance of contempt at him, and he turned quickly to the window again and stared out, at the same time putting the coin back into his pocket. A dull flush rose on his cheek, but he attempted no apology, and did not even offer to fasten the lower handle of the door.
“What a boor!” Domini thought as she bent out of the window to do it.
When she turned from the door, after securing the handle, she found the carriage full of a pale twilight. The train was stealing into the gorge, following the caravan of camels which she had seen disappearing. She paid no more attention to her companion, and her feeling of acute irritation against him died away for the moment. The towering cliffs cast mighty shadows, the darkness deepened, the train, quickening its speed, seemed straining forward into the arms of night. There was a chill in the air. Domini drank it into her lungs again, and again was startled, stirred, by the life and the mentality of it. She was conscious of receiving it with passion, as if, indeed, she held her lips to a mouth and drank some being’s very nature into hers. She forgot her recent vexation and the man who had caused it. She forgot everything in mere sensation. She had no time to ask, “Whither am I going?” She felt like one borne upon a wave, seaward, to the wonder, to the danger, perhaps, of a murmuring unknown. The rocks leaned forward; their teeth were fastened in the sky; they enclosed the train, banishing the sun and the world from all the lives within it. She caught a fleeting glimpse of rushing waters far beneath her; of crumbling banks, covered with debris like the banks of a disused quarry; of shattered boulders, grouped in a wild disorder, as if they had been vomited forth from some underworld or cast headlong from the sky; of the flying shapes of fruit trees, mulberries and apricot trees, oleanders and palms; of dull yellow walls guarding pools the colour of absinthe, imperturbable and still. A strong impression of increasing cold and darkness grew in her, and the noises of the train became hollow, and seemed to be expanding, as if they were striving to press through the impending rocks and find an outlet into space; failing, they rose angrily, violently, in Domini’s ears, protesting, wrangling, shouting, declaiming. The darkness became like the darkness of a nightmare. All the trees vanished, as if they fled in fear. The rocks closed in as if to crush the train. There was a moment in which Domini shut her eyes, like one expectant of a tremendous blow that cannot be avoided.