When he had gone, she remained stretched out on her pillows, languid, glowing. She discovered suddenly that she loved Akbar, and was astonished by the revelation, astonished too that it had taken her so long to realize it. Their sensual friendship, their work-related complicity and their shared trials had prepared, without her being aware of it, fertile ground for love to burgeon and bloom. It was not the same passion that Roger had inspired in her, nor the spiritual hold Firoz Shah had exercised over her. What she felt for Akbar was love. Understanding it made her value more clearly, more deeply the love that Akbar bore her, and she was immensely relieved. It seemed to her that once again energy and optimism were surging in her veins.