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6. French Thorn

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Captured as a child by nomad bandits in the Thar Desert of India, lovely young Merodonée escapes during a British Army raid and has to be transported home to France. On the way by ship, news reaches her that there is a revolution going on in her native land. Thus truly begins her new life, when she is either loved or hated by all who meet her, and whereby she tries to make up her own mind about her future, amid many misadventures.

444,880 words

First Page...


Anne Hauden©


                        For miles, indeed, as far as the eye could see in every direction of the compass, stretched the same landscape, arid, unwelcoming, pitiless and monotonous, with its undulations of golden sand punctuated by small caverns of shadow behind the larger dunes, whereof the surface broke into layers like strata of slate, where the warm winds of the daytime and the cool breezes of the night had shifted the grains in sheets and waves.  Above, in a sky entirely clear of all vaporous encumbrances, hung the sun, high at the meridian but ascending, having yet to reach that hour when shades disappeared beneath their tangible principals.  The orb, so bright and naked, burnt fiercely away in a white heat so compelling that the firmament about it paled in recognition, its blaze of such an extent as created about it a great scorching aureole, thô no-one would dare look upon it, and there were no eagles here.  Otherwise the heavens were a bright blue, the colour intensifying away from the solar disc, thô lightening a little about the horizon, where waves of hot air shifted and twisted as they rose off the ground.

            Notwithstanding the unfriendly and resourceless condition of this barren waste, it was unfair to consider that all was silent and that nothing stirred, for amid the changing sandy hillocks figured the signs of temporary habitation in the shape of an encampment, whereby a colony of flimsy shelters had been created here, spread over several yards, an area such as a small army might have effected occupation.  Certainly there was some order after the manner wherein these tents were pitched, and nothing haphazard about the manner wherein the camels and goats, the two quadruped members of this community, were tethered or penned without of each tilt or awning.  As for the tents themselves, they were of a somewhat unprepossessing appearance, made up of loosely woven wool from goat hair, much patched and repaired, so that the newer the piece, the stronger its hue, for all faded under this light, thô the word ‘hue’ was employed for want of any other, because the cloth was not usually dyed at all, and just fashioned from thread spun from hairs white, black, brown and grey, with an occasional ruddiness where a goat’s coat had been decorated with henna, or, as it was called here, Mehendi

            Yet it was not merely the four-legged population  who were in evidence, for the odd biped could be seen wandering about, the head wrapped in a cotton turban of colour indeterminate or a jaundiced white, the body covered from neck to ancle by a tunic with rent sides, worn over a variety of underclothing, from  as a baggy trouser much gathered at waist and crotch, called a shalwar, to a scrap of linen loosely tied and drawn between both legs for to be hitched up below the naval, called a dhoti.  Others, smaller in stature, curvaceous of shape and different in gender, preferred garb more uniform in appearance, consisting of a short chemise as exposed the diaphragm, a voluminous skirt, and a veil worn over the head and tucked into the belt, the coiffure itself being a simple, long braid worn upon the back or wound into a bun, and a dark crimson dye favoured as the colour to govern such clothes.  For the most part, however, the two-legged species remained out of sight under the screens provided by their cloth dwellings, about their several and divers activities, which included the preparation of food and the mending of all articles, whether to be worn, employed or discharged – like a firearm – while some, male and female alike, busied themselves with the...

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Anne Hauden’s Website for Historical Novels


Grateful thanks to The Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut,
The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.,
Michael Judkins, at Pexels.