Now, alone with her purpose, she thought of this reserve. Would she be able to break it down with her love? For an instant she felt as if she were about to enter upon a contest with her husband, but she did not coldly tell over her armoury and select weapons. There was a heat of purpose within her that beckoned her to the unthinking, to the reckless way, that told her to be self-reliant and to trust to the moment for the method.
When Androvsky returned to the camp it was towards evening. A lemon light was falling over the great white spaces of the sand. Upon their little round hills the Arab villages glowed mysteriously. Many horsemen were riding forth from the city to take the cool of the approaching night. From the desert the caravans were coming in. The nomad children played, half-naked, at Cora before the tents, calling shrilly to each other through the light silence that floated airily away into the vast distances that breathed out the spirit of a pale eternity. Despite the heat there was an almost wintry romance in this strange land of white sands and yellow radiance, an ethereal melancholy that stole with the twilight noiselessly towards the tents.
As Androvsky approached Domini saw that he had lost the energy which had delighted her at dejeuner. He walked towards her slowly with his head bent down. His face was grave, even sad, though when he saw her waiting for him he smiled.
“You have been all this time with the priest?” she said.
“Nearly all. I walked for a little while in the city. And you?”
“I rode out and met a friend.”
“A friend?” he said, as if startled.
“Yes, from Beni-Mora—Count Anteoni. He has been here to pay me a visit.”
She pulled forward a basket-chair for him. He sank into it heavily.
“Count Anteoni here!” he said slowly. “What is he doing here?”
“He is with the marabout at Beni-Hassan. And, Boris, he has become a Mohammedan.”
He lifted his head with a jerk and stared at her in silence.
“You are surprised?”
“A Mohammedan—Count Anteoni?”
“Yes. Do you know, when he told me I felt almost as if I had been expecting it.”
“But—is he changed then? Is he—”
He stopped. His voice had sounded to her bitter, almost fierce.
“Yes, Boris, he is changed. Have you ever seen anyone who was lost, and the same person walking along the road home? Well, that is Count Anteoni.”
They said no more for some minutes. Androvsky was the first to speak again.
“You told him?” he asked.
“I told him.”
“What did he say?”
“He had expected it. When we ask him he is coming here again to see us both together.”
Androvsky got up from his chair. His face was troubled. Standing before Domini, he said: