His voice broke on the last words. Tears were shining in his eyes. After a long silence he said:
“Domini, take me where you will. If it is to Beni-Mora I will go. But—but—afterwards?”
“Afterwards——” she said.
Then she stopped.
The little note of the frog sounded again and again by the still water among the reeds. The moon was higher in the sky. “Don’t let us think of afterwards, Boris,” she said at length. “That song we have heard together, that song we love—’No one but God and I knows what is in my heart.’ I hear it now so often, always almost. It seems to gather meaning, it seems to—God knows what is in your heart and mine. He will take care of the—afterwards. Perhaps in our hearts already He has put a secret knowledge of the end.”
“Has He—has He put it—that knowledge—into yours?”
“Hush!” she said.
They spoke no more that night.
The caravan of Domini and Androvsky was leaving Arba.
Already the tents and the attendants, with the camels and the mules, were winding slowly along the plain through the scrub in the direction of the mountains, and the dark shadow which indicated the oasis of Beni-Mora. Batouch was with them. Domini and Androvsky were going to be alone on this last stage of their desert journey. They had mounted their horses before the great door of the bordj, said goodbye to the Sheikh of Arba, scattered some money among the ragged Arabs gathered to watch them go, and cast one last look behind them.
In that mutual, instinctive look back they were both bidding a silent farewell to the desert, that had sheltered their passion, surely taken part in the joy of their love, watched the sorrow and the terror grow in it to the climax at Amara, and was now whispering to them a faint and mysterious farewell.
To Domini the desert had always been as a great and significant personality, a personality that had called her persistently to come to it. Now, as she turned on her horse, she felt as if it were calling her no longer, as if its mission to her were accomplished, as if its voice had sunk into a deep and breathless silence. She wondered if Androvsky felt this too, but she did not ask him. His face was pale and severe. His eyes stared into the distance. His hands lay on his horse’s neck like tired things with no more power to grip and hold. His lips were slightly parted, and she heard the sound of his breath coming and going like the breath of a man who is struggling. This sound warned her not to try his strength or hers.
“Come, Boris,” she said, and her voice held none of the passionate regret that was in her heart, “we mustn’t linger, or it will be night before we reach Beni-Mora.”
“Let it be night,” he said. “Dark night!”
The horses moved slowly on, descending the hill on which stood the bordj.