“If Monsieur will permit me—” he began.
But the stranger took the cigar hastily from his mouth and flung it away.
“I don’t want to smoke,” Domini heard him say in French.
Then he walked away with Hadj into the darkness.
As they disappeared Domini heard a faint shrieking in the distance. It was the music of the African hautboy.
The night was marvellously dry and warm. The thickly growing trees in the garden scarcely moved. It was very still and very dark. Suzanne, standing at her window, looked like a shadow in her black dress. Her attitude was romantic. Perhaps the subtle influence of this Sahara village was beginning to steal even over her obdurate spirit.
The hautboy went on crying. Its notes, though faint, were sharp and piercing. Once more the church bell chimed among the date palms, and the two musics, with their violently differing associations, clashing together smote upon Domini’s heart with a sense of trouble, almost of tragedy. The pulses in her temples throbbed, and she clasped her hands tightly together. That brief moment, in which she heard the duet of those two voices, was one of the most interesting, yet also one of the most painful she had ever known. The church bell was silent now, but the hautboy did not cease. It was barbarous and provocative, shrill with a persistent triumph.
Domini went to bed early, but she could not sleep. Just before midnight she heard someone walking up and down on the verandah. The step was heavy and shuffling. It came and went, came and went, without pause till she was in a fever of uneasiness. Only when two chimed from the church did it cease at last.
She whispered a prayer to Notre Dame de la Garde, The Blessed Virgin, looking towards Africa. For the first time she felt the loneliness of her situation and that she was far away.
Towards morning Domini slept. It was nearly eight o’clock when she awoke. The room was full of soft light which told of the sun outside, and she got up at once, put on a pair of slippers and opened the French window on to the verandah. Already Beni-Mora was bathed in golden beams and full of gentle activities. A flock of goats pattered by towards the edge of the oasis. The Arab gardeners were lazily sweeping small leaves from the narrow paths under the mimosa and pepper trees. Soldiers in loose white suits, dark blue sashes and the fez, were hastening from the Fort towards the market. A distant bugle rang out and the snarl of camels was audible from the village. Domini stood on the verandah for a moment, drinking in the desert air. It made her feel very pure and clean, as if she had just bathed in clear water. She looked up at the limpid sky, which seemed full of hope and of the power to grant blessings, and she was glad that she had come to Beni-Mora. Her lonely sensation of