Domini looked down. All the triumph died out in her, all the exquisite consciousness of the freedom, the colour, the bigness of life. For there was a black spot on the sun—humanity, God’s mistake in the great plan of Creation. And the shadow cast by humanity tempered, even surely conquered, the light. She wondered whether she would always feel the cold of the sunless places in the golden dominion of the sun.
The man had dropped his eyes too. His hand fell from the door to his knee. He did not move till the train ran into Beni-Mora, and the eager faces of countless Arabs stared in upon them from the scorched field of manoeuvres where Spahis were exercising in the gathering twilight.
Having given her luggage ticket to a porter, Domini passed out of the station followed by Suzanne, who looked and walked like an exhausted marionette. Batouch, who had emerged from a third-class compartment before the train stopped, followed them closely, and as they reached the jostling crowd of Arabs which swarmed on the roadway he joined them with the air of a proprietor.
“Which is Madame’s hotel?”
Domini looked round.
Suzanne jumped as if her string had been sharply pulled, and cast a glance of dreary suspicion upon the poet. She looked at his legs, then upwards.
He wore white socks which almost met his pantaloons. Scarcely more than an inch of pale brown skin was visible. The gold buttons of his jacket glittered brightly. His blue robe floated majestically from his broad shoulders, and the large tassel of his fez fell coquettishly towards his left ear, above which was set a pale blue flower with a woolly green leaf.
Suzanne was slightly reassured by the flower and the bright buttons. She felt that they needed a protector in this mob of shouting brown and black men, who clamoured about them like savages, exposing bare legs and arms, even bare chests, in a most barbarous manner.
“We are going to the Hotel du Desert,” Domini continued. “Is it far?”