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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Baillie went to a concealment in the wall


"There

was formerly a gang of Gipsies, or pick-pockets, who used to frequent the fairs in Dumfries-shire, headed by a William Baillie, or Will Baillie, as the country-people were accustomed to call him, of whom the old men used to tell many stories.

"Before any considerable fair, if the gang were at a distance from the place where it was to be held, whoever of them were appointed to go, went singly, or, at most, never above two travelled together. A day or so after, Mr. Baillie himself followed, mounted like a nobleman; and, as journeys, in those days, were almost all performed on horseback, he sometimes rode, for many miles, with gentlemen of the first respectability in the country. And, as he could discourse readily and fluently on almost any topic, he was often taken to be some country gentleman of property, as his dress and manners seemed to indicate.

"Once, in a very crowded fair at Dumfries, an honest farmer, from the parish of Hatton, in Annandale, had his pocket picked of a considerable sum, in gold, with which he was going to buy cattle. On discovering his loss, he immediately went and got a purse like the one he had lost, into which he put a good number of small stones, and, going into a crowded part of the fair, he kept a watchful eye on his pocket, and, in a little while, he caught a fellow in the very act of picking it. The farmer, who was a stout, athletic man, did not wish to make any noise, as he knew

a more ready way of recovering his money; but whispered to the fellow, while he still kept fast hold of him, to come out of the throng a little, as he wanted to speak to him. There he told him that he had lost his money, and that, if he would get it to him again, he would let him go; if not, he would have him put in jail immediately. The pick-pocket desired him to come along with him, and he would see what could be done, the farmer still keeping close to him, lest he should escape. They entered an obscure house, in an unfrequented close, where they found Mr. Baillie sitting. The farmer told his tale, concluding with a promise that, as the loss of the money would hurt him very much, he would, if he could get it back again, make no more ado about it. On which, Mr. Baillie went to a concealment in the wall, and brought out the very purse the farmer had lost, with the contents untouched, which he returned to the farmer, who received it with much gratitude.

"The farmer, after doing his business in the fair, got a little intoxicated in the evening; on which he thought he would call on Mr. Baillie, and give him a treat, for his kindness in restoring his purse; but on entering the house, the woman who kept it, a poor widow, fell on him and abused him sadly, asking him what he had done to cause Mr. Stewart, by which name she knew Mr. Baillie, to leave her house; and saying she had lost the best friend that ever she had, for always when he stayed a day or two in her house, (which he used to do twice a year,) he gave her as much as paid her half-year's rent; but after he, (the farmer,) called that day, Mr. Stewart, she said, left her house, telling her he could not stay with her any longer; but before he went, she said, he had given her what was to pay her half-year's rent, a resource, she lamented, she would lose in future. About two years afterwards, the farmer again had the curiosity to call on her, and ask her if her lodger had ever returned. She said he never had, but that, ever since, a stranger had called regularly, and given her money to pay her rent.


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