Lying in bed in the dark that night Domini heard the church clock chime the hours. She was not restless, though she was wakeful. Indeed, she felt like a woman to whom an injection of morphia had been administered, as if she never wished to move again. She lay there counting the minutes that made the passing hours, counting them calmly, with an inexorable and almost cold self-possession. The process presently became mechanical, and she was able, at the same time, to dwell upon the events that had followed upon the discovery of the murdered woman by the tent: Androvsky’s pulling aside of the door of the tent to find it empty, their short ride to the encampment close by, their rousing up of the sleeping Arabs within, filthy nomads clothed in patched garments, unveiled women with wrinkled, staring faces and huge plaits of false hair and amulets. From the tents the strange figures had streamed forth into the light of the moon and the fading fires, gesticulating, talking loudly, furiously, in an uncouth language that was unintelligible to her. Led by Androvsky they had come to the corpse, while the air was rent by the frantic barking of all the guard dogs and the howling of the dog that had been a witness of the murder. Then in the night had risen the shrill wailing of the women, a wailing that seemed to pierce the stars and shudder out to the remotest confines of the desert, and in the cold white radiance of the moon a savage vision of grief had been presented to her eyes: naked arms gesticulating as if they strove to summon vengeance from heaven, claw-like hands casting earth upon the heads from which dangled Fatma hands, chains of tarnished silver and lumps of coral that reminded her of congealed blood, bodies that swayed and writhed as if stricken with convulsions or rent by seven devils. She remembered how strange had seemed to her the vast calm, the vast silence, that encompassed this noisy outburst of humanity, how inflexible had looked the enormous moon, how unsympathetic the brightly shining stars, how feverish and irritable the flickering illumination of the flames that spurted up and fainted away like things still living but in the agonies of death.
Then had followed her silent ride back to Beni-Mora with Androvsky along the straight road which had always fascinated her spirit of adventure. They had ridden slowly, without looking at each other, without exchanging a word. She had felt dry and weary, like an old woman who had passed through a long life of suffering and emerged into a region where any acute feeling is unable to exist, as at a certain altitude from the earth human life can no longer exist. The beat of the horses’ hoofs upon the road had sounded hard, as her heart felt, cold as the temperature of her mind. Her body, which usually swayed to her horse’s slightest movement, was rigid in the saddle. She recollected that once, when her horse stumbled, she had thrilled with an abrupt anger that was almost ferocious, and had lifted her whip to lash it. But the hand had slipped down nervelessly, and she had fallen again into her frigid reverie.