“Boris,” Domini said, “that is for the Arabs, but for us, too, for we belong to the garden of Allah as they do, perhaps even more than they.”
She remembered how, long ago, Count Anteoni had stood there with her and repeated the words of the angel to the Prophet, and she murmured them now:
“O thou that art covered, arise, and magnify thy Lord, and purify thy clothes, and depart from uncleanness.”
Then, standing side by side, they prayed, looking at the desert.
In the evening of that day they left Beni-Mora.
Domini wished to go quietly, but, knowing the Arabs, she feared it would be impossible. Nevertheless, when she paid Batouch in the hotel and thanked him for all his services, she said:
“We’ll say adieu here, Batouch.”
The poet displayed a large surprise.
“But I will accompany Madame to the station. I will—”
“It is not necessary.”
Batouch looked offended but obstinate. His ample person became almost rigid.
“If I am not at the station, Madame, what will Hadj think, and Ali, and Ouardi, and—”
“They will be there?”
“Of course, Madame. Where else should they be? Does Madame wish to leave us like a thief in the night, or like—”
“No, no, Batouch. I am very grateful to you all, but especially to you.”
Batouch began to smile.
“Madame has entered into our hearts as no other stranger has ever done,” he remarked. “Madame understands the Arabs. We shall all come to say au revoir and to wish Madame and Monsieur a happy journey.”
For the moment the irony of her situation struck Domini so forcibly that she could say nothing. She only looked at Batouch in silence.
“What is it? But I know. Madame is sad at leaving the desert, at leaving Beni-Mora.”
“Yes, Batouch. I am sad at leaving Beni-Mora.”
“But Madame will return?”
“I know. The desert has a spell. He who has once seen the desert must see it again. The desert calls and its voice is always heard. Madame will hear it when she is far away, and some day she will feel, ’I must come back to the land of the sun and to the beautiful land of forgetfulness.’”
“I shall see you at the station, Batouch,” Domini said quickly. “Good-bye till then.”
The train for Tunis started at sundown, in order that the travellers might avoid the intense heat of the day. All the afternoon they kept within doors. The Arabs were sleeping in dark rooms. The gardens were deserted. Domini could not sleep. She sat near the French window that opened on to the verandah and said a silent good-bye to life. For that was what she felt—that life was leaving her, life with its intensity, its fierce meaning. She had come out of a sort of death to find life in