That night the priest prayed long and earnestly for all wanderers in the desert.
When Domini and Androvsky came out from the church they saw vaguely a camel lying down before the door, bending its head and snarling fiercely. Upon its back was a palanquin of dark-red stuff, with a roof of stuff stretched upon strong, curved sticks, and curtains which could be drawn or undrawn at pleasure. The desert men crowded about it like eager phantoms in the wind, half seen in the driving mist of sand. Clinging to Androvsky’s arm, Domini struggled forward to the camel. As she did so, Smain, unfolding for an instant his burnous, pressed into her hands his mass of roses. She thanked him with a smile he scarcely saw and a word that was borne away upon the wind. At Larbi’s lips she saw the little flute and his thick fingers fluttering upon the holes. She knew that he was playing his love-song for her, but she could not hear it except in her heart. The perfume-seller sprinkled her gravely with essence, and for a moment she felt as if she were again in his dark bazaar, and seemed to catch among the voices of the storm the sound of men muttering prayers to Allah as in the mosque of Sidi-Zazan.
Then she was in the palanquin with Androvsky close beside her.
At this moment Batouch took hold of the curtains of the palanquin to draw them close, but she put out her hand and stopped him. She wanted to see the last of the church, of the tormented gardens she had learnt to love.
He looked astonished, but yielded to her gesture, and told the camel-driver to make the animal rise to its feet. The driver took his stick and plied it, crying out, “A-ah! A-ah!” The camel turned its head towards him, showing its teeth, and snarling with a sort of dreary passion.
“A-ah!” shouted the driver. “A-ah! A-ah!”
The camel began to get up.
As it did so, from the shrouded group of desert men one started forward to the palanquin, throwing off his burnous and gesticulating with thin naked arms, as if about to commit some violent act. It was the sand-diviner. Made fantastic and unreal by the whirling sand grains, Domini saw his lean face pitted with small-pox; his eyes, blazing with an intelligence that was demoniacal, fixed upon her; the long wound that stretched from his cheek to his forehead. The pleading that had been mingled with the almost tyrannical command of his demeanour had vanished now. He looked ferocious, arbitrary, like a savage of genius full of some frightful message of warning or rebuke. As the camel rose he cried aloud some words in Arabic. Domini heard his voice, but could not understand the words. Laying his hands on the stuff of the palanquin he shouted again, then took away his hands and shook them above his head towards the desert, still staring at Domini with his fanatical eyes.
The wind shrieked, the sand grains whirled in spirals about his body, the camel began to move away from the church slowly towards the village.