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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

289 289 The people above mentioned are doubtless Gipsies


principle of the transmutation of Gipsy blood into white, in appearance, is illustrated, in the ninth chapter of Mr. Borrow's "Bible in Spain," by its changing into almost pure black. A Gipsy soldier, in the Spanish army, killed his sergeant, for "calling him _calo_, (Gipsy,) and cursing him," and made his escape. His wife remained in the army, as a sutler, selling wine. Two years thereafter, a strange man came to her wine shop. "He was dressed like a Moor, (_corahano_,) and yet he did not look like one; he looked more like a black, and yet he was not a black, either, though he was almost black. And, as I looked upon him, I thought he looked something like the Errate, (Gipsies,) and he said to me, '_Zincali, chachipe_,' (the Gipsy salutation.) And then he whispered to me, in queer language, which I could scarcely understand,'Your husband is waiting; come with me, my little sister, and I will take you to him.' About a league from the town, beneath a hill, we found four people, men and women, all very black, like the strange man; and we joined ourselves with them, and they all saluted me, and called me 'little sister.' And away we marched, for many days, amidst deserts and small villages. The men would cheat with mules and asses, and the women told baji. I often asked him (her husband) about the black men, and he told me that he believed them to be of the Errate." Her husband, then a soldier in the Moorish army, having been killed, this Gipsy woman married the black man, with whom
she followed real Gipsy life. She said to him: "Sure I am amongst the Errate; . . . . and I often said that they were of the Errate; and then they would laugh, and say that it might be so; and that they were not Moors, (_corahai_,) but they could give no account of themselves." From this it would seem that, while preserving their identity, wherever they go, there are Gipsies who may not be known to the world, or to the tribe, in other continents, by the same name.[289]

[289] The people above-mentioned are doubtless Gipsies. According to Grellmann, the race is even to be found in the centre of Africa. Mollien, in his travels to the sources of the Senegal and Gambia, in 1818, says: "Scattered among the Joloffs, we find a people not unlike our Gipsies, and known by the name of Laaubes. Leading a roving life, and without fixed habitation, their only employment is the manufacture of wooden vessels, mortars, and bedsteads. They choose a well-wooded spot, fell some trees, form huts with the branches, and work up the trunks. For this privilege, they must pay a sort of tax to the prince in whose states they thus settle. In general, they are both ugly and slovenly.

"The women, notwithstanding their almost frightful faces, are covered with amber and coral beads, presents heaped on them by the Joloffs, from a notion that the favours, alone, of these women will be followed by those of fortune. Ugly or handsome, all the young Laaube females are in request among the Negroes.

"The Laaubes have nothing of their own but their money, their tools, and their asses; the only animals on which they travel. In the woods, they make fires with the dung of the flocks. Ranged round the fires, the men and women pass their leisure time in smoking. The Laaubes have not those characteristic features and high stature which mark the Joloffs, and they seem to form a distinct race. They are exempted from all military service. Each family has its chief, but, over all, there is a superior chief, who commands a whole tribe or nation. He collects the tribute, and communicates with such delegates of the king as receive the imposts: this serves to protect them from all vexation. The Laaubes are idolaters, speak the Poula language, and pretend to tell fortunes."

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