“Boris,” she said. “Do you hear?”
“I think there is something in your heart that sometimes makes you sad even with me. I think perhaps I partly guess what it is.”
He took his hand away from her face, his arm from her shoulder, but she caught hold of him, and her arm was strong like a man’s.
“Boris, you are with me, you are close to me, but do you sometimes feel far away from God?”
He did not answer.
“I don’t know; I oughtn’t to ask, perhaps. I don’t ask—no, I don’t. But, if it’s that, don’t be too sad. It may all come right—here in the desert. For the desert is the Garden of Allah. And, Boris—put out the light.”
He extinguished the candle with his hand.
“You feel, perhaps, that you can’t pray honestly now, but some day you may be able to. You will be able to. I know it. Before I knew I loved you I saw you—praying in the desert.”
“I!” he whispered. “You saw me praying in the desert!”
It seemed to her that he was afraid. She pressed him more closely with her arms.
“It was that night in the dancing-house. I seemed to see a crowd of people to whom the desert had given gifts, and to you it had given the gift of prayer. I saw you far out in the desert praying.”
She heard his hard breathing, felt it against her cheek.
“If—if it is that, Boris, don’t despair. It may come. Keep the crucifix. I am sure you have it. And I always pray for you.”
They sat for a long while in the dark, but they did not speak again that night.
Domini did not sleep, and very early in the morning, just as dawn was beginning, she stole out of the tent, shutting down the canvas flap behind her.
It was cold outside—cold almost as in a northern winter. The wind of the morning, that blew to her across the wavelike dunes and the white plains, seemed impregnated with ice. The sky was a pallid grey. The camp was sleeping. What had been a fire, all red and gold and leaping beauty, was now a circle of ashes, grey as the sky. She stood on the edge of the hill and looked towards the tower.
As she did so, from the house behind it came a string of mules, picking their way among the stones over the hard earth. De Trevignac and his men were already departing from Mogar.
They came towards her slowly. They had to pass her to reach the track by which they were going on to the north and civilisation. She stood to see them pass.
When they were quite near De Trevignac, who was riding, with his head bent down on his chest, muffled in a heavy cloak, looked up and saw her. She nodded to him. He sat up and saluted. For a moment she thought that he was going on without stopping to speak to her. She saw that he hesitated what to do. Then he pulled up his mule and prepared to get off.
“No, don’t, Monsieur,” she said.