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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

That a number of Tinklers were


To

suit their purposes of deception, in practising their pilfering habits, the female Gipsies, as well as the males, often changed their wearing apparel. Some of them have been seen in four different dresses in one fair day, varying from the appearance of a sturdy female beggar to that of a young, flirting wench, fantastically dressed, and throwing herself, a perfect lure, in the way of the hearty, ranting, half-intoxicated, and merry young farmers, for the sole purpose of stripping them of their money.[109] The following is given as an instance of this sort of female deception:--On a fair-day, in the town of Kinross, a Brae-laird,[110] in the same county, fell in with a Gipsy harpy of the above character, of the name of Wilson, one of Charles' daughters, it was understood. She had a fine person, an agreeable and prepossessing countenance, was handsomely dressed, and was, altogether, what one would pronounce a pretty girl. Her charms made a very sudden and deep impression on the susceptible laird; and as it was an easy matter, in those times, to make up acquaintance at these large and promiscuous gatherings, the enamoured rustic soon found means to introduce himself to the stranger lady. He treated her in a gallant manner, and engaged to pay his respects to her at her place of residence. It happened, however, that a number of Tinklers were, that very evening, apprehended in the fair, for picking pockets, and a great many purses were found in their custody. Proclamation was made by
the authorities, that all those who had lost their money should appear at a place named, and identify their property. The Brae-laird, among others, missed his pocket-book and purse, and accordingly went to enquire after them. His purse was produced to him; but greatly was he ashamed and mortified when the thief was also shown to him, lying in prison--the very person of his handsome and beautiful sweetheart, now metamorphosed into a common Tinkler wench. Whether he now provoked the ire of his dulcinea, by harsh treatment, is not mentioned; but the woman sent, as it were, a dagger to his heart, by calling out before all present: "Ay, laird, ye're no sae kind to me noo, lad, as when ye treated me wi' wine in the forenoon." The man, confounded at his exposure, was glad to get out of her presence, and, rather than bear the cutting taunts of the Gipsy, fled from the place of investigation, leaving his money behind him.[111]

[109] An old woman, whom I found occupying the house of Charles Wilson, at Raploch, in 1845, informed me that she had seen his wife in _five_ different dresses, in one market-day. She was, at the time, a servant in a _blacksmith's_ family in Stirling, who were _great friends_ of Charles Wilson; and every time Mrs. Wilson came into the smith's house, from her plundering in the market, this servant girl, then nine years old, _cleaned her shoes_ for a fresh expedition in the crowd. When suspected, or even detected, in their practices, these female Gipsies, by such change of dress and character, easily escaped apprehension by the authorities.

[110] There are a number of small landed proprietors in the hilly parts of Kinross-shire; hence the appellation of Brae-laird.


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