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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

But a riah a gentleman Gipsy


style="text-align: justify;">During

the following summer, a brother and a cousin of these girls called at my house, selling baskets. The one was about twenty-one, the other fifteen, years of age. I happened to be from home, but one of my family, suspecting them to be Gipsies, invited them into the house, and mentioned to them, (although very incorrectly,) that I understood every word of their speech. "So I saw," replied the eldest lad, "for when he passed us on the road, some time ago, I called, in our language, to my neighbour, to come out of the way, and he understood what I said, for he immediately turned round, and looked at us." I, however, knew nothing of the circumstance; I did not even recollect having seen them pass me. It is likely, however, I had been examining their appearance, and it is as likely they had been trying if I understood their speech. At all events, they appeared to have known me, while I was entirely ignorant of who they were, and to have had their curiosity excited, on account, as I imagined, of their relatives having told them I was acquainted with their language. This occurrence produced a wonderful effect upon the two lads, for they appeared pleased to think I could speak their language. At this moment, one of my daughters, about seven years of age, repeated, in their hearing, the Gipsy word for pot, having picked it up from hearing me mention it. The young Tinklers now thought they were in the midst of a Gipsy family, and seemed quite happy. "But are you really a _nawken_?" I asked
the eldest of them. "Yes, sir," he replied; "and to show you I am no impostor, I will give you the names of everything in your house;" which, in the presence of my family, he did, to the extent I asked of him. "My speech," he continued, "is not the cant of packmen, nor the slang of common thieves."

But Gipsy-hunting is like deer-stalking. In prosecuting it, it is necessary to know the animal, its habits, and the locality in which it is to be found. I saw the unfavourable turn approaching: the Gipsies' time was up; their patience was exhausted. I dropped the subject, and ordered them some refreshment. On their taking leave of me, I said to them, "Do you intend coming round this part of the country again?" (I need not have asked them such a question as that.) "That we do, sir; and we will not fail to come and see you again." They thus left me, with the strong impression on their minds, that I was a _nawken_, like themselves, but a _riah_--a gentleman Gipsy. I waited patiently for their return, which would happen in due season, on their half-yearly _tramp_. Everything looked so favourably, circumstances had contributed so fortunately, to the end which I had so much at heart, that I looked upon the information to be drawn from these poor Tinkler lads, with as much solicitude and avarice as one would who had discovered a treasure hid in his field.

This species of Gipsy-hunting, I believe, I had exclusively to myself. I had none of the difficulties to contend with, which would be implied in the field of it having been gone over by others before me. That kind of Gipsy-hunting which implied imprisonment, banishment, and hanging, was a thing of which the Gipsies had had sad experience; if not in their own persons, at least in that which the traditions of their tribe had so carefully handed down to them. Besides this, the experience of the daily life of the members of their tribe afforded


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