In Mogar! Androvsky had dreaded something in Mogar. De Trevignac had come. He dreaded something in Amara. This light came. For an instant she fancied that the light was a lamp carried by De Trevignac. Then she saw that it gleamed upon a long black robe, the soutane of a priest.
As she and Androvsky rode into Amara she had asked herself whether his second dread would be followed, as his first dread had been, by an unusual incident. When she saw the soutane of a priest, black in the lamplight, moving towards her over the whiteness of the sand, she said to herself that it was to be so followed. This priest stood in the place of De Trevignac.
Why did he come to her?
When the priest drew close to the tent Domini saw that it was not he who carried the lantern, but a native soldier, one of the Tirailleurs, formerly called Turcos, who walked beside him. The soldier saluted her, and the priest took off his broad, fluffy black hat.
“Good-evening, Madame,” he said, speaking French with the accent of Marseilles. “I am the Aumonier of Amara, and have just heard of your arrival here, and as I was visiting my friends on the sand-hills yonder, I thought I would venture to call and ask whether I could be of any service to you. The hour is informal, I know, but to tell the truth, Madame, after five years in Amara one does not know how to be formal any longer.”
His eyes, which had a slightly impudent look, rare in a priest but not unpleasing, twinkled cheerfully in the lamplight as he spoke, and his whole expression betokened a highly social disposition and the most genuine pleasure at meeting with a stranger. While she looked at him, and heard him speak, Domini laughed at herself for the imaginations she had just been cherishing. He had a broad figure, long arms, large feet encased in stout, comfortable boots. His face was burnt brown by the sun and partially concealed by a heavy black beard, whiskers and moustache. His features were blunt and looked boyish, though his age must have been about forty. The nose was snub, and accorded with the expression in his eyes, which were black like his hair and full of twinkling lights. As he smiled genially on Domini he showed two rows of small, square white teeth. His Marseilles accent exactly suited his appearance, which was rough but honest. Domini welcomed him gladly. Indeed, her reception of him was more than cordial, almost eager. For she had been vaguely expecting some tragic figure, some personality suggestive of mystery or sorrow, and she thought of the incidents at Mogar, and associated the moving light with the approach of further strange events. This homely figure of her religion, beaming satisfaction and comfortable anticipation of friendly intercourse, laid to rest fears which only now, when she was conscious of relief, she knew she had been entertaining. She begged the priest to come into the dining-tent, and, taking up the little bell which was on the table, went out into the sand and rang it for Ouardi.