He was silent, but his face still spoke to her, his eyes read her eyes. And in that moment at last they understood each other fully and for ever. “It was written”—that was Domini’s thought—“it was written by God.” Far away the church bell chimed.
“Boris,” Domini said quietly, “we must go to-day. We must leave Beni-Mora. You know that?”
“Yes,” he said, “I know.”
He looked out into the garden. The almost fierce resolution, that had something in it of triumph, faded from him.
“Yes,” he said, “this is the end, the real end, for—there, it will all be different—it will be terrible.”
“Let us sit here for a little while together,” Domini said, “and be quiet. Is it like the garden of El-Largani, Boris?”
“No. But when I first came here, when I saw the white walls, the great door, when I saw the poor Arabs gathered there to receive alms, it made me feel almost as if I were at El-Largani. That was why——” he paused.
“I understand, Boris, I understand everything now.”
And then they were silent. Such a silence as theirs was then could never be interpreted to others. In it the sorrows, the aspirations, the struggles, the triumphs, the torturing regrets, the brave determinations of poor, great, feeble, noble humanity were enclosed as in a casket—a casket which contains many kinds of jewels, but surely none that are not precious.
And the garden listened, and beyond the garden the desert listened—that other garden of Allah. And in this garden was not Allah, too, listening to this silence of his children, this last mutual silence of theirs in the garden where they had wandered, where they had loved, where they had learned a great lesson and drawn near to a great victory?
They might have sat thus for hours; they had lost all count of time. But presently, in the distance among the trees, there rose a light, frail sound that struck into both their hearts like a thin weapon. It was the flute of Larbi, and it reminded them—of what did it not remind them? All their passionate love of the body, all their lawlessness, all the joy of liberty and of life, of the barbaric life that is liberty, all their wandering in the great spaces of the sun, were set before them in Larbi’s fluttering tune, that was like the call of a siren, the call of danger, the call of earth and of earthly things, summoning them to abandon the summons of the spirit. Domini got up swiftly.
“Come, Boris,” she said, without looking at him.
He obeyed her and rose to his feet.
“Let us go to the wall,” she said, “and look out once more on the desert. It must be nearly noon. Perhaps—perhaps we shall hear the call to prayer.”
They walked down the winding alleys towards the edge of the garden. The sound of the flute of Larbi died away gradually into silence. Soon they saw before them the great spaces of the Sahara flooded with the blinding glory of the summer sunlight. They stood and looked out over it from the shelter of some pepper trees. No caravans were passing. No Arabs were visible. The desert seemed utterly empty, given over, naked, to the dominion of the sun. While they stood there the nasal voice of the Mueddin rose from the minaret of the mosque of Beni-Mora, uttered its fourfold cry, and died away.