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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

She called upon them either to bring her a midwife


The

murderer was found at the place, and on the day, mentioned by the Gipsy. But, on entering the house, the constables could not discover him, although they knew he had been within its walls a few minutes before they approached it. A fire having been kindled in the house, a noise was heard in the chimney, which attracted the notice of the constables; and, on examination, they found the object of their search; the heat and smoke having caused him to become restless in his place of concealment. He was secured, and some of the country-people were called upon to assist in carrying him to Edinburgh. The prisoner was bound into a cart with ropes, to prevent him making his escape; the party in charge of him being aware of the desperate character of the man. Nothing particular occurred on the road, until after they had passed the town of Linlithgow, when, to their astonishment, they found a woman in the pangs of labour, in the open field. She called upon them either to bring her a midwife, or take her to one; a claim that could not be resisted. She was accordingly put into the cart, beside the prisoner, and driven with all speed to a place where a midwife could be procured. On arriving opposite a dell, full of trees and bushes, about the west-end of Kirkliston, the guards were confounded at seeing their prisoner, all at once, spring out of the cart, and, darting into the cover, vanish in an instant. Pursuit was immediately given, and, in the excitement, the unfortunate woman was left to
her fate. In searching for the Gipsy, they met a gentleman shooting in the neighbourhood, who had observed a man hide himself among the bushes. On going to the spot, they found the criminal, lying like a fox in his hole. The sportsman, presenting his gun, threatened to blow out his brains, if he did not come out, and deliver himself up to the constables. On returning with him to the cart, his captors, to their astonishment, found that the woman in labour had also vanished. It is needless to add that she was a Gipsy, who had feigned being in travail, and, while in the cart, had cut the ropes with which the prisoner was bound, to enable him to make his escape.

The female Gipsies have had recourse to many expedients in their impositions on the public. The following is an instance, of a singular nature, that took place a good many years ago. When it is considered that the Gipsies, in their native country,[118] would not be encumbered with much wearing-apparel, but would go about in a state little short of nudity, the extreme indecency of such an action will appear somewhat lessened. The inhabitants of Winchburgh and neighbourhood were one day greatly astonished at beholding a female, with a child in her arms, walking along the road, as naked as when she was born. She stated to the country-people that she had just been plundered, and stripped of every article of her wearing-apparel, by a band of Tinklers, to whom she pointed, lying in a field hard by. She submitted her piteous condition to the humanity of the inhabitants, and craved any sort of garment to cover her nakedness. The state in which she was found left not the slightest doubt on the minds of the spectators as to the truth of her representations. Almost every female in the neighbourhood ran with some description of clothing to the unfortunate woman; so that, in a short time, she was not only comfortably clad, but had many articles of dress to spare. Shortly after, she left the town, and proceeded on her journey. But some one, observing her motions more closely than the rest, was astonished at seeing her go straight to the very Tinklers who, she said, had stripped her. Her appearance among her band convulsed them all with laughter, at the dexterous trick she had played upon the simple inhabitants.


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