The hours fled, and she remained cold, listless. Often she was hardly thinking at all. When the Arab servant came in to tell her that it was time to start for the station she got up slowly and looked at him vaguely.
“Time to go already?” she asked.
“Yes, Madame. I have told Monsieur.”
At this moment Androvsky came into the room.
“The carriage is waiting,” he said.
She felt almost as if a stranger was speaking to her.
“I am ready,” she said.
And without looking round the room she went downstairs and got into the carriage.
They drove to the station without speaking. She had not seen Father Roubier. Androvsky took the tickets. When they came out upon the platform they found there a small crowd of Arab friends, with Batouch in command. Among them were the servants who had accompanied them upon their desert journey, and Hadj. He came forward smiling to shake hands. When she saw him Domini remembered Irena, and, forgetting that it is not etiquette to inquire after an Arab’s womenfolk, she said:
“Ah, Hadj, and are you happy now? How is Irena?”
Hadj’s face fell, and he showed his pointed teeth in a snarl. For a moment he hesitated, looking round at the other Arabs. Then he said:
“I am always happy, Madame.”
Domini saw that she had made a mistake. She took out her purse and gave him five francs.
“A parting present,” she said.
Hadj shook his head with recovered cheerfulness, tucked in his chin and laughed. Domini turned away, shook hands with all her dark acquaintances, and climbed up into the train, followed by Androvsky. Batouch sprang upon the step as the porter shut the door.
“Madame!” he exclaimed.
“What is it, Batouch?”
“To-day you have put Hadj to shame.”
He smiled broadly.
“I? How? What have I done?”
“Irena is dancing at Onargla, far away in the desert beyond Amara.”