Suzanne disappeared, walking as one who suspects an ambush.
After dinner Domini went again to the verandah. She found Batouch there. He had now folded a snow-white turban round his head, and looked like a young high priest of some ornate religion. He suggested that Domini should come out with him to visit the Rue des Ouled Nails and see the strange dances of the Sahara. But she declined.
“Not to-night, Batouch. I must go to bed. I haven’t slept for two nights.”
“But I do not sleep, Madame. In the night I compose verses. My brain is alive. My heart is on fire.”
“Yes, but I am not a poet. Besides, I may be here for a long time. I shall have many evenings to see the dances.”
The poet looked displeased.
“The gentleman is going,” he said. “Hadj is at the door waiting for him now. But Hadj is afraid when he enters the street of the dancers.”
“There is a girl there who wishes to kill him. Her name is Aishoush. She was sent away from Beni-Mora for six months, but she has come back, and after all this time she still wishes to kill Hadj.”
“What has he done to her?”
“He has not loved her. Yes, Hadj is afraid, but he will go with the gentleman because he must earn money to buy a costume for the fete of Ramadan. I also wish to buy a new costume.”
He looked at Domini with a dignified plaintiveness. His pose against the pillar of the verandah was superb. Over his blue cloth jacket he had thrown a thin white burnous, which hung round him in classic folds. Domini could scarcely believe that so magnificent a creature was touting for a franc. The idea certainly did occur to her, but she banished it. For she was a novice in Africa.
“I am too tired to go out to-night,” she said decisively.
“Good-night, Madame. I shall be here to-morrow morning at seven o’clock. The dawn in the garden of the gazelles is like the flames of Paradise, and you can see the Spahis galloping upon horses that are beautiful as—”
“I shall not get up early to-morrow.”
Batouch assumed an expression that was tragically submissive and turned to go. Just then Suzanne appeared at the French window of her bedroom. She started as she perceived the poet, who walked slowly past her to the staircase, throwing his burnous back from his big shoulders, and stood looking after him. Her eyes fixed themselves upon the section of bare leg that was visible above his stockings white as the driven snow, and a faintly sentimental expression mingled with their defiance and alarm.
Domini got up from her chair and leaned over the parapet. A streak of yellow light from the doorway of the hotel lay upon the white road below, and in a moment she saw two figures come out from beneath the verandah and pause there. Hadj was one, the stranger was the other. The stranger struck a match and tried to light a cigar, but failed. He struck another match, and then another, but still the cigar would not draw. Hadj looked at him with mischievous astonishment.