Domini observed this swiftly. Then she saw that her neighbour was unpleasantly conscious of her observation. This vexed her vaguely, perhaps because even so trifling a circumstance was like a thin link between them. She snapped it by ceasing to look at or think of him. The window was down. A delicate and warm breeze drifted in, coming from the thickets of the palms. In flashing out of the darkness of the gorge Domini had had the sensation of passing into a new world and a new atmosphere. The sensation stayed with her now that she was no longer dreaming or giving the reins to her imagination, but was calmly herself. Against the terrible rampart of rock the winds beat across the land of the Tell. But they die there frustrated. And the rains journey thither and fail, sinking into the absinthe-coloured pools of the gorge. And the snows and even the clouds stop, exhausted in their pilgrimage. The gorge is not their goal, but it is their grave, and the desert never sees their burial. So Domini’s first sense of casting away the known remained, and even grew, but now strongly and quietly. It was well founded, she thought. For she looked out of the carriage window towards the barrier she was leaving, and saw that on this side, guarding the desert from the world that is not desert, it was pink in the evening light, deepening here and there to rose colour, whereas on the far side it had a rainy hue as of rocks in England. And there was a lustre of gold in the hills, tints of glowing bronze slashed with a red line as the heart of a wound, but recalling the heart of a flower. The folds of the earth glistened. There was flame down there in the river bed. The wreckage of the land, the broken fragments, gleamed as if braided with precious things. Everywhere the salt crystals sparkled with the violence of diamonds. Everywhere there was a strength of colour that hurled itself to the gaze, unabashed and almost savage, the colour of summer that never ceases, of heat that seldom dies, in a land where there is no autumn and seldom a flitting cold.
Down on the road near the village there were people; old men playing the “lady’s game” with stones set in squares of sand, women peeping from flat roofs and doorways, children driving goats. A man, like a fair and beautiful Christ, with long hair and a curling beard, beat on the ground with a staff and howled some tuneless notes. He was dressed in red and green. No one heeded him. A distant sound of the beating of drums rose in the air, mingled with piercing cries uttered by a nasal voice. And as if below it, like the orchestral accompaniment of a dramatic solo, hummed many blending noises; faint calls of labourers in the palm-gardens and of women at the wells; chatter of children in dusky courts sheltered with reeds and pale-stemmed grasses; dim pipings of homeward-coming shepherds drowned, with their pattering charges, in the golden vapours of the west; soft twitterings of birds beyond brown walls in green seclusions; dull barking of guard dogs; mutter of camel drivers to their velvet-footed beasts.