This last supposition disturbed her almost absurdly for a moment. She was inclined to walk quickly round to the opposite side of the tower, but something stronger than her inclination, an imperious shyness, held her motionless. She had been carried so far away from the world that she felt unable to face the scrutiny of any world-bound creature. Having been in the transparent region of magic it seemed to her as if her secret, the great secret of the absolutely true, the naked personality hidden in every human being, were set blazing in her eyes like some torch borne in a procession, just for that moment. The moment past, she could look anyone fearlessly in the face; but not now, not yet.
While she stood there, half turning round, she heard the sound again and knew what caused it. A foot had shifted on the plaster floor. There was someone else then looking out over the desert. A sudden idea struck her. Probably it was Count Anteoni. He knew she was coming and might have decided to act once more as her cicerone. He had not heard her climbing the stairs, and, having gone to the far side of the tower, was no doubt watching the sunset, lost in a dream as she had been.
She resolved not to disturb him—if it was he. When he had dreamed enough he must inevitably come round to where she was standing in order to gain the staircase. She would let him find her there. Less troubled now, but in an utterly changed mood, she turned, leaned once more on the parapet and looked over, this time observantly, prepared to note the details that, combined and veiled in the evening light of Africa, made the magic which had so instantly entranced her.
She looked down into the village and could see its extent, precisely how it was placed in the Sahara, in what relation exactly it stood to the mountain ranges, to the palm groves and the arid, sunburnt tracts, where its life centred and where it tailed away into suburban edges not unlike the ragged edges of worn garments, where it was idle and frivolous, where busy and sedulous. She realised for the first time that there were two distinct layers of life in Beni-Mora—the life of the streets, courts, gardens and market-place, and above it the life of the roofs. Both were now spread out before her, and the latter, in its domestic intimacy, interested and charmed her. She saw upon the roofs the children playing with little dogs, goats, fowls, mothers in rags of gaudy colours stirring the barley for cous-cous, shredding vegetables, pounding coffee, stewing meat, plucking chickens, bending over bowls from which rose the steam of soup; small girls, seated in dusty corners, solemnly winding wool on sticks, and pausing, now and then, to squeak to distant members of the home circle, or to smell at flowers laid beside them as solace to their industry. An old grandmother rocked and kissed a naked baby with a pot belly. A big grey rat stole from a rubbish heap close by her, flitted across the sunlit