“We shall want it to-night. Take it quickly to the cook’s tent, Ahmed.” Androvsky got off his mule.
“There’s a light in the tower!” he said, looking at her and then dropping his eyes.
“And I saw two signals. There were two brands being waved together.”
“To-night, we have comrades in the desert.”
“Comrades!” he said.
His voice sounded startled.
“Men who have escaped from a horrible death in the dunes.”
Quickly she told him her story. He listened in silence. When she had finished he said nothing. But she saw him look at the dining-table laid for three and his expression was dark and gloomy.
“Boris, you don’t mind!” she said in surprise. “Surely you would not refuse hospitality to these poor fellows!”
She put her hand through his arm and pressed it.
“Have I done wrong? But I know I haven’t!”
“Wrong! How could you do that?”
He seemed to make an effort, to conquer something within him.
“It’s I who am wrong, Domini. The truth is, I can’t bear our happiness to be intruded upon even for a night. I want to be alone with you. This life of ours in the desert has made me desperately selfish. I want to be alone, quite alone, with you.”
“It’s that! How glad I am!”
She laid her cheek against his arm.
“Then,” he said, “that other signal?”
“Monsieur de Trevignac gave it.”
Androvsky took his arm from hers abruptly.
“Monsieur de Trevignac!” he said. “Monsieur de Trevignac?”
He stood as if in deep and anxious thought.
“Yes, the officer. That’s his name. What is it, Boris?”
There was a sound of voices approaching the camp in the darkness. They were speaking French.
“I must,” said Androvsky, “I must——”
He made an uncertain movement, as if to go towards the dunes, checked it, and went hurriedly into the dressing-tent. As he disappeared De Trevignac came into the camp with his men. Batouch conducted the latter with all ceremony towards the fire which burned before the tents of the attendants, and, for the moment, Domini was left alone with De Trevignac.
“My husband is coming directly,” she said. “He was late in returning, but he brought gazelle. Now you must sit down at once.”
She led the way to the dining-tent. De Trevignac glanced at the table laid for three with an eager anticipation which he was far too natural to try to conceal.
“Madame,” he said, “if I disgrace myself to-night, if I eat like an ogre in a fairy tale, will you forgive me?”
“I will not forgive you if you don’t.”
She spoke gaily, made him sit down in a folding-chair, and insisted on putting a soft cushion at his back. Her manner was cheerful, almost eagerly kind and full of a camaraderie rare in a woman, yet he noticed a change in her since they stood together waving the brands by the tower. And he said to himself: