“The heat has tired you. I know the look—”
“I assure you, Monsieur, that I am accustomed to heat. I have lived in North Africa all my life.”
“Indeed. And yet by your appearance I should certainly suppose that you needed a change from the desert. The air of the Sahara is magnificent, but there are people—”
“I am not one of them,” Androvsky said abruptly. “I have never felt so strong physically as since I have lived in the sand.”
The priest still looked at him closely, but said nothing further on the subject of health. Indeed, almost immediately his attention was distracted by the apparition of Ouardi bearing dishes from the cook’s tent.
“I am afraid I have called at a very unorthodox time,” he remarked, looking at his watch; “but the fact is that here in Amara we—”
“I hope you will stay to dejeuner,” Androvsky said.
“It is very good of you. If you are certain that I shall not put you out.”
“I will, then, with pleasure.”
He moved his lips expectantly, as if only a sense of politeness prevented him from smacking them. Androvsky went towards the sleeping-tent, where Domini, who had been into the city, was washing her hands.
“The priest has called,” he said. “I have asked him to dejeuner.”
She looked at him with frank astonishment in her dark eyes.
“Yes, I. Why not?”
“I don’t know. But generally you hate people.”
“He seems a good sort of man.”
She still looked at him with some surprise, even with curiosity.
“Have you taken a fancy to a priest?” she asked, smiling.
“Why not? This man is very different from Father Roubier, more human.”
“Father Beret is very human, I think,” she answered.
She was still smiling. It had just occurred to her that the priest had timed his visit with some forethought.
“I am coming,” she added.
A sudden cheerfulness had taken possession of her. All the morning she had been feeling grave, even almost apprehensive, after a bad night. When her husband had abruptly left her and gone away into the darkness she had been overtaken by a sudden wave of acute depression. She had felt, more painfully than ever before, the mental separation which existed between them despite their deep love, and a passionate but almost hopeless longing had filled her heart that in all things they might be one, not only in love of each other, but in love of God. When Androvsky had taken his arms from her she had seemed to feel herself released by a great despair, and this certainty—for as he vanished into the darkness she was no more in doubt that his love for her left room within his heart for such an agony—had for a moment brought her soul to the dust. She had been overwhelmed by a sensation that instead of being close together