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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Besides these regular Gipsy tokens


always paid cash for his purchases,

but accepted bills from his customers of respectability. Many a one purchased horses of him; and he was taken notice of by many respectable people in the neighbourhood; but the community in general looked upon him, and his people, with suspicion and fear, and were by no means fond of quarrelling with any of his vindictive fraternity. When any of his customers required a horse from him, and told him that the matter was left wholly to himself, as regards price, but to provide an animal suitable for the purpose required, no man in Scotland would act with greater honour than Charles Wilson. He would then fit his employer completely, and charge for the horse exactly what the price should be. To this manner of dealing he was very averse, and endeavoured to avoid it as much as possible. It is said he was never known to deceive any one in his transactions, when entire confidence was placed in him. But, on the other hand, when any tried to make a bargain with him, without any reference to himself, but trusting wholly to their own judgment, he would take three prices for his horses, if he could obtain them, and cheat them, if it was in his power. It is said his people stole horses in Ireland, and sent them to him, to dispose of in Scotland. On one occasion his gang stole and sold in Edinburgh, Stirling and Dumbarton a grey stallion, three different times in one week. Wilson himself was almost always mounted on a blood-horse of the highest mettle.

At one

time, Charles Wilson travelled the country with a horse and cart, vending articles which his gang plundered from shops in Glasgow and other places. He had an associate who kept a regular shop, and when Wilson happened to be questioned about his merchandise, he always had fictitious bills of particulars, invoices and receipts, ready to show that the goods were lawfully purchased from his merchant, who was no other than his friend and associate. As Charles was chief of his tribe, he received the title of captain, to distinguish him from the meaner sort of his race. Like others of his rank among the Gipsies, he generally had a numerous gang of youths in fairs, plundering for him in all directions, among the heedless and unthinking crowd. But he always managed matters with such art and address that, however much he might be suspected, no evidence could ever be found to show that he acted a part in such transactions. It was well understood, however, that Charlie, as he was commonly called, divided the contents of many a purse with his band; all the plundered articles being in fact brought to him for distribution.

This chief, as I have already mentioned, issued tokens to the members of his own tribe; a part of the polity of the Gipsies which will be fully described in the following chapter. But, besides these regular Gipsy tokens, he, like many of his nation, gave tokens of protection to his particular friends of the


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