“I knew you would know it in time—when we met again.”
“And you knew we should meet again?”
“Did not you?”
“In the heart of the desert. And you—where are you going? You are not returning to civilisation?”
“I don’t know. I have no plans. I want to do what my husband wishes.”
“He loves the desert. He has suggested our buying an oasis and setting up as date merchants. What do you think of the idea?”
She spoke with a smile, but her eyes were serious, even sad.
“I cannot judge for others,” he answered.
When he got up to go he held her hand fast for a moment.
“May I speak what is in my heart?” he asked.
“I feel as if what I have told you to-day about myself, about my having come to the open door of a home I had long been wearily seeking, had made you sad. Is it so?”
“Yes,” she answered frankly.
“Can you tell me why?”
“It has made me realise more sharply than perhaps I did before what must be the misery of those who are still homeless.”
There was in her voice a sound as if she suppressed a sob.
“Hope for them, remembering my many years of wandering.”
“Will you come again?”
“You are here for long?”
“Some days, I think.”
“Whenever you ask me I will come.”
“I want you and my husband to meet again. I want that very much.” She spoke with a pressure of eagerness.
“Send for me and I will come at any hour.”
“I will send—soon.”
When he was gone, Domini sat in the shadow of the tent. From where she was she could see the Arab cemetery at a little distance, a quantity of stones half drowned in the sand. An old Arab was wandering there alone, praying for the dead in a loud, persistent voice. Sometimes he paused by a grave, bowed himself in prayer, then rose and walked on again. His voice was never silent. The sound of it was plaintive and monotonous. Domini listened to it, and thought of homeless men, of those who had lived and died without ever coming to that open door through which Count Anteoni had entered. His words and the changed look in his face had made a deep impression upon her. She realised that in the garden, when they were together, his eyes, even when they twinkled with the slightly ironical humour peculiar to him, had always held a shadow. Now that shadow was lifted out of them. How deep was the shadow in her husband’s eyes. How deep had it been in the eyes of her father. He had died with that terrible darkness in his eyes and in his soul. If her husband were to die thus! A terror came upon her. She looked out at the stones in the sand and imagined herself there—as the old Arab was—praying for Androvsky buried there, hidden from her on earth for ever. And suddenly she felt, “I cannot wait, I must act.”