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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Belonging to the Stirling horde


[118] It is pretty certain that the Gipsies came from a warm country, for they have no words for frost or snow, as will be seen in my enquiry into the history of their language.

The following anecdote, related to me of one of the well-attired female Gipsies, belonging to the Stirling horde, will illustrate the gratitude which the Scottish Gipsies have, on all occasions, shown to those who have rendered them acts of kindness and attention: A person, belonging to Stirling, had rendered himself obnoxious to the Gipsies, by giving information relative to one of the gang, of the name of Hamilton, whom he had observed picking a man's pocket of forty pounds in a fair at Doune. Hamilton was apprehended immediately after committing the theft, but none of the money was found upon him. The informer, however, was marked out for destruction by the band, for his officious conduct; and they only waited a convenient opportunity to put their resolution into execution. Some time afterwards, the proscribed individual had occasion to go to a market at no great distance from Stirling, and while on his way to it, he observed, on the road before him, a female, in the attire of a lady, riding on horseback. On coming to a pond at the road-side, the horse suddenly made for the water, and threw down its head to drink. Not being prepared for the movement, the rider was thrown from her seat, with considerable violence, to the ground. The proscribed individual, observing

the accident, ran forward to her assistance; but, being only slightly stunned, she was, with his help, safely placed in her seat again. She now thanked him for his kind and timely assistance, and informed him of the conspiracy that had been formed against him. She said it was particularly fortunate for him that such an accident had befallen her under the circumstances; for, in consequence of the information he had given about the pocket-picking at Doune, he was to have been way-laid and murdered; that very night having been fixed upon for carrying the resolution into effect. But, as he had shown her this kindness, she would endeavour to procure, from her people, a pardon for him, for the past. She then directed him to follow slowly, while she would proceed on, at a quick pace, and overtake some of her people, to whom she would relate her accident, and the circumstances attending it. She then informed him that if she waved her _hand_, upon his coming in sight of herself and her people, he was to retrace his steps homeward, there being then no mercy for him; but if she waved her _handkerchief_, he might advance without fear. To his heart-felt delight, on coming near the party, the signal of peace was given, when he immediately hastened forward to the spot. The band, who had been in deliberation upon his fate, informed him that the lady's intercession had prevailed with them to spare his life; and that now he might consider himself safe, provided he would take an oath, there and then, never again to give evidence against any of their people, or speak to any one about their practices, should he discover them. The person in question deemed it prudent, under all the circumstances of the case, to take the oath; after which, nothing to his hurt, in either purse or person, ever followed.[119] The lady, thus equipped, and possessed of so much influence, was the chief female of the Gipsy band, to whom all the booty obtained at the fair was brought, at the house where she put up at for the day. It would seem that she was determined to save her friend at all events; for, had her band not complied with her wishes, the waving of her hand--the signal for him to make his escape--would have defeated their intentions for that time.

[119] Such interference with the Gipsies causes them much greater offence than if the informer was a principal in the transaction. To such people, their advice has always been: "Follow your nose, and let sleeping dogs lie." The following anecdote will illustrate the way in which they have revenged themselves, under circumstances different from the above:


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