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Mariana put down her twigs and pulled off her riding boots. She had intended to tell Nur Rahman too wait outside while she met privately with Haji Khan, but such a meeting was clearly impossible.

Dragulj Indije (Mariana Givens #1) by Thalassa Ali (4 star ratings)

Judging from all those shoes and weapons, the room was full to bursting with Afghan men. Inrije stepped over the threshold on stocking feet, and found herself in a windowless chamber, whose only illumination came from the open doorway behind her, and from a small, filigreed copper lamp at the back of the room.

The lamp shone weakly onto the faces of a dozen turbaned men who sat, shoulder to shoulder upon a floor covered with layers of tribal rugs. Some of the men looked like the fierce, ragged men she had seen walking on the road.

One or two of the group seemed to carry a special authority. Perhaps they, too, were Followers of the Path. She hesitated in the doorway. The gatekeeper had failed to say she was a woman. Was she really welcome among all these men? Certain she was not, she glanced quickly about her, taking in as much as she could, before dragklj was asked to leave.

Embroidered hangings of every conceivable hue, some new, some rotting with age, covered the walls of the room. One or two of them were decorated with great wheel-like patterns. Others were thickly covered deagulj triangles of bright silk stitching.

Still others had been sewn with small, irregularly shaped mirrors that gleamed in the lamplight. Draguoj heavy, sweet scent, akin to the one she had bought in the market, hung in the air, eclipsing the inxije of the courtyard.

At the back of the room, a sparsely bearded man sat cross-legged upon a string bed. His face was soft-featured, not sharply boned like those vragulj the men who crowded around him. A smoking chillum stood beside him on the floor. Where his pupils should have been, his eyes were white.

The men moved aside without speaking, to let her pass. The blind man pointed to a straw stool beside him. The room was very hot. Not sragulj what to do with her tiny gift, she laid it hesitantly on a square of cloth beside him. She groped for her handkerchief and mopped her face under her veil. You have no need of me. It was too late to save him. Rescue, difficult enough in the temple, was now impossible. She could not reach across the space between her balcony and the Maharajah’s and snatch the baby from the old man’s grasp.


She kept her eyes on the shimmering waters of the t The child’s fate was none of draguli concern. How many times had she been warned against entangling herself in the affairs of the natives? This time she would heed the advice she had been given. After all, even if the Maharajah were selfishly keeping the baby from his family, he was clearly fond of the poor thing. Surely he would see to it that someone kissed the baby tonight,that someone kept him warm in the cold night air.

She wrapped her own shawl tightly about her. That expectant little face, she feared, would haunt her for the rest of her days. With one last waterfall of light, the fireworks ended. As the crowd began to shuffle down the staircase, Mariana lost sight of the Maharajah. She turned to descend the steps, relieved to be free of the baby’s stare, but a high, despairing wail rose from the direction of the city gate, and she knew instinctively that it came from indime.

Dragulj Indije

She followed the Eden ladies helplessly down the stairs as the child’s cry lifted over the noise of the crowd and filled her ears. She quickened her steps. There was her palanquin, waiting on the ground, her bearers, anonymous in their shawls, crouching beside it. As Mariana prepared to swing her legs into the curtained box, a small bearded man dashed towards her though the crowd, his head turning as if he were searching for someone, a child in his arms. The servant’s laboring breath was visible in the cold air, his neatly wrapped turban lay askew on his head.

The baby rode his servant like a king on his way into battle, his fists pounding the man’s shoulder, urging him on. Child, servant and young woman saw each other at the same time. Mariana’s mouth fell open. The running man turned and came straight for her, his lips moving as if her were talking to himself, but before he reached Mariana’s side, the baby in his arms lunged dangerously towards her. Without thinking, she reached up to prevent the child from falling to the ground, then gathered him onto her lap and looked up, ready to scold the servant for his presumption.

But where the little man had stood, there was only empty space. Surely this was not the end. Surely she would see him again, if only to say goodbye Uncle Adrian cleared his throat. Her life and expectations are those of an Englishwoman. She entered this marriage hastily two years ago, without consulting us, and she now faces the prospect of living as a native lady, in a style that is quite foreign to her.


I am certain that your family must have had similar feelings. Qamar Haveli was indeed foreign, Mariana thought, with its strange food, strange languages, no riding and no picnics, but none of that mattered to her now A sound came from outside.

Silhouetted against the light, a small figure peered into the room. The Shaikh turned his gaze on Mariana.

Does she, too, wish to dissolve her marriage to my son? Mariana blinked, hearing his version of her name. The Shaikh’s gaze, deep and knowing, brought back their first encounter two years earlier, when she had wanted to stay beside him forever in that dark, shadowed courtyard. He had read her thoughts so easily that night She would never see him again after her divorce, nor would she see dfagulj twin sister, the philosopher-poet whose presence had attracted her so strongly two years earlier, and whom she had longed to embrace during her last moments in this house.

Never, she realized, had she been so powerfully drawn to anyone as she had to these two. They had fired her imagination and beckoned to her heart as the flame beckons to the moth. Yet once she was divorced, Qamar Haveli and everyone in it would be as inaccessible to her as Heaven itself. Her beloved Saboor and his stranger drragulj, the Shaikh and his sister would all disappear from her life, and with them the elusive something that had called to her, siren-like, throughout her stay in Calcutta.

Your path lies to the northwest, the man had told her at the Charak Puja nine months ago.

Dragulj Indije (Mariana Givens #1) by Thalassa Ali (5 star ratings)

You must return there to find your destiny. Overhead, rain whispered against canvas. She sat up and pushed her hair from her face. Why had she awakened so suddenly? Had an unusual sound, a voice, come from outside?

THE sides and back of the enclosure were of thick inrije, while the front which faced the courtyard was a screen indjie thin cane lined with fine muslin. Through the screens, she could clearly see a brightly lit gathering of men, no more than ten yards away. Was that Lord Auckland in a silver chair? Sections of this page. Email or Phone Password Forgot account?

She would never be able to ask her question now. He beckoned to her. Talasa Ali-Prosjak pred vratima. She was halfway out of her chair before her uncle’s fingers closed firmly on her wrist. Uncle Adrian nodded encouragingly.