Again the lamp flame flickered upon the crucifix. Quickly, while she saw the crucifix plainly, she went forward to the bed and fell on her knees by it, bending down her face upon its whiteness.
When Androvsky had fastened the tent door he turned round and saw her kneeling. He stood quite still as if petrified, staring at her. Then, as the flame, now sheltered from the wind, burned steadily, he saw the crucifix. He started as if someone had struck him, hesitated, then, with a look of fierce and concentrated resolution on his face, went swiftly to the crucifix and pulled it from the canvas roughly. He held it in his hand for an instant, then moved to the tent door and stooped to unfasten the cords that held it to the pegs, evidently with the intention of throwing the crucifix out into the night. But he did not unfasten the cords. Something—some sudden change of feeling, some secret and powerful reluctance—checked him. He thrust the crucifix into his pocket. Then, returning to where Domini was kneeling, he put his arms round her and drew her to her feet.
She did not resist him. Still holding her in his arms he blew out the lamp.
The Arabs have a saying, “In the desert one forgets everything, one remembers nothing any more.”
To Domini it sometimes seemed the truest of all the true and beautiful sayings of the East. Only three weeks had passed away since the first halt at Arba, yet already her life at Beni-Mora was faint in her mind as the dream of a distant past. Taken by the vast solitudes, journeying without definite aim from one oasis to another through empty regions bathed in eternal sunshine, camping often in the midst of the sand by one of the wells sunk for the nomads by the French engineers, strengthened perpetually, yet perpetually soothed, by airs that were soft and cool, as if mingled of silk and snow, they lived surely in a desert dream with only a dream behind them. They had become as one with the nomads, whose home is the moving tent, whose hearthstone is the yellow sand of the dunes, whose God is liberty.