“Count Anteoni is happy then, now that he—now that he has joined this religion?”
“And you—a Catholic—what do you think?”
“I think that, since that is his honest belief, it is a blessed thing for him.”
He said no more, but went towards the sleeping-tent.
In the evening, when they were dining, he said to her:
“Domini, to-night I am going to leave you again for a short time.”
He saw a look of keen regret come into her face, and added quickly:
“At nine I have promised to go to see the priest. He—he is rather lonely here. He wants me to come. Do you mind?”
“No, no. I am glad—very glad. Have you finished?”
“Let us take a rug and go out a little way in the sand—that way towards the cemetery. It is quiet there at night.”
“Yes. I will get a rug.” He went to fetch it, threw it over his arm, and they set out together. She had meant the Arab cemetery, but when they reached it they found two or three nomads wandering there.
“Let us go on,” she said.
They went on, and came to the French cemetery, which was surrounded by a rough hedge of brushwood, in which there were gaps here and there. Through one of these gaps they entered it, spread out the rug, and lay down on the sand. The night was still and silence brooded here. Faintly they saw the graves of the exiles who had died here and been given to the sand, where in summer vipers glided to and fro, and the pariah dogs wandered stealthily, seeking food to still the desires in their starving bodies. They were mostly very simple, but close to Domini and Androvsky was one of white marble, in the form of a broken column, hung with wreaths of everlasting flowers, and engraved with these words:
JEAN BAPTISTE FABRIANI
Priez pour lui.
When they lay down they both looked at this grave, as if moved by a simultaneous impulse, and read the words.
“Priez pour lui!” Domini said in a low voice.
She put out her hand and took hold of her husband’s, and pressed it down on the sand.
“Do you remember that first night, Boris,” she said, “at Arba, when you took my hand in yours and laid it against the desert as against a heart?”
“Yes, Domini, I remember.”
“That night we were one, weren’t we?”
“Were we”—she was almost whispering in the night—“were we truly one?”
“Why do you—truly one, you say?”
“Yes—one in soul? That is the great union, greater than the union of our bodies. Were we one in soul? Are we now?”
“Domini, why do you ask me such questions? Do you doubt my love?”
“No. But I do ask you. Won’t you answer me?”
He was silent. His hand lay in hers, but did not press it.