“Let me do it for you. See, I have the other brand!”
“Thank you—but I will do it.”
In the light of the flame that leaped up as if striving to touch her face he saw a light in her eyes that he understood, and he drooped his torch towards the earth while she lifted hers on high and waved it in the blackness.
He watched her. The tall, strong, but exquisitely supple figure, the uplifted arm with the torch sending forth a long tongue of golden flame, the ardent and unconscious pose, that set before him a warm passionate heart calling to another heart without shame, made him think of her as some Goddess of the Sahara. He had let his torch droop towards the earth, but, as she waved hers, he had an irresistible impulse to join her in the action she made heroic and superb. And presently he lifted his torch, too, and waved it beside hers in the night.
She smiled at him in the flames.
“He must see them surely,” she said.
From below, in the distance of the desert, there rose a loud cry in a strong man’s voice.
“Aha!” she exclaimed.
She called out in return in a warm, powerful voice. The man’s voice answered, nearer. She dropped her brand to the earth.
“Monsieur, you will come then—in half an hour?”
“Madame, with the most heartfelt pleasure. But let me accompany—”
“No, I am quite safe. And bring your men with you. We’ll make the best feast we can for them. And there’s enough champagne for all.”
Then she went away quickly, eagerly, into the darkness.
“To be her husband!” murmured De Trevignac. “Lucky—lucky fellow!” And he dropped his brand beside hers on the ground, and stood watching the two flames mingle.
“Lucky—lucky fellow!” he said again aloud. “I wonder what he’s like.”
When Domini reached the camp she found it in a bustle. Batouch, resigned to the inevitable, had put the cook upon his mettle. Ouardi was already to be seen with a bottle of Pommery in each hand, and was only prevented from instantly uncorking them by the representations of his mistress and an elaborate exposition of the peculiar and evanescent virtues of champagne. Ali was humming a mysterious song about a lovesick camel-man, with which he intended to make glad the hearts of the assembly when the halting time was over. And the dining-table was already set for three.
When Androvsky rode in with the Arabs Domini met him at the edge of the hill.
“You saw my signal, Boris?”
He was going to say more, when she interrupted him eagerly.
“Have you any gazelle? Ah——”
Across the mule of one of the Arabs she saw a body drooping, a delicate head with thin, pointed horns, tiny legs with exquisite little feet that moved as the mule moved.