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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

This Gipsy gravely told the good wife of Rachan mill


On

one of these bargain-making occasions, as the wife of the farmer of Glencotha, in Tweed-dale, went to give a boontith to Mary Yorkston, the harpy thrust, unobserved, about four pounds weight of tallow into her lap. On the return of the good-wife, the tallow was missed. She charged Mary with the theft, but Mary, with much gravity of countenance, exclaimed: "God bless ye, mistress, I wad steal from mony a one before I wad steal from you." The good-wife, however, took hold of Mary, to search her person. A struggle ensued, when the tallow fell out of Mary's lap, on the kitchen-floor. At this exposure, in the very act of stealing, the Gipsy burst into a fit of laughter, exclaiming: "The Lord hae a care o' me, mistress; ye hae surely little to spare, whan ye winna let a body take a bit tauch for a candle, to light her to bed." At another time, this Gipsy gravely told the good-wife of Rachan-mill, that she must give her a pound of butter for her boontith, that time, as it would be the last she would ever give her. Astonished at the extraordinary saying, the good-wife demanded, with impatience, what she meant. "You will," rejoined the Gipsy, "be in eternity (by a certain day, which she named,) and I will never see you again; and this will be the last boontith you will ever give me." The good-wife of Rachan-mill, however, survived the terrible prediction for several years.[149]

[149] The following facts will show what a Scottish Tinkler, at the present

day, will sometimes do in the way of "sorning," or masterful begging.

One of the race paid a visit to the house of a country ale-wife, and, in a crowded shop, vaulted the counter, and applied his bottle to her whiskey-tap. Immediately a cry, with up-lifted hands, was raised for the police, but the prudent ale-wife treated the circumstance with indifference, and exclaimed: "Hout, tout, tout! _let_ the deil tak' a wee drappie."

On another occasion, a Gipsy woman entered a country public-house, leaving her partner at a short distance from the door. Espying a drawn bottle of porter, standing on a table, in a room in which were two females sitting, she, without the least ceremony, filled a glass, and drank it off; but before she could decant another, the other Gipsy, feeling sure of the luck of his mate, from her being admitted into the premises, immediately proceeded to share it with her. But he had hardly drank off the remainder of the porter, ere a son of the mistress of the house made his appearance, and demanded what was wanted. "Want--_want?_" replied the Gipsy, with a leering eye towards the empty bottle; "we want nothing--we've got all that we want!" On being ordered to "walk out of that," they left, with a smile of satisfaction playing on their weather-beaten countenances.

Such displays of Gipsy impudence sometimes call forth only a hearty laugh from the people affected by them.--ED.

The female Gipsies also derived considerable profits from their trade of fortune-telling. The art of telling fortunes was not, however, general among the Gipsies; it was only certain old females who pretended to be inspired with the gift of prophecy. The method which they adopted to get at the information which often enabled them to tell, if not fortunes, at least the history, and condition of mind, of individuals, with great accuracy, was somewhat this:


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