Part 2 out of 9
being well entitled to the name, being wonderfully sweet. Well,
everybody present seemed mighty well pleased with the song and
music, with the exception of one person, a carroty-haired Scotch
body; how he came there I don't know, but there he was; and, coming
forward, he began in Scotch as broad as a barn-door to find fault
with the music and the song, saying, that he had never heard viler
stuff than either. Well, brother, out of consideration for the
civil gentry with whom the fellow had come, I held my peace for a
long time, and in order to get the subject changed, I said to
Mikailia in Romany, You have told the ladies their fortunes, now
tell the gentlemen theirs, quick, quick,--pen lende dukkerin.
Well, brother, the Scotchman, I suppose, thinking I was speaking
ill of him, fell into a greater passion than before, and catching
hold of the word dukkerin--'Dukkerin,' said he, 'what's dukkerin?'
'Dukkerin,' said I, 'is fortune, a man or woman's destiny; don't
you like the word?' 'Word! d'ye ca' that a word? a bonnie word,'
said he. 'Perhaps, you'll tell us what it is in Scotch,' said I,
'in order that we may improve our language by a Scotch word; a pal
of mine has told me that we have taken a great many words from
foreign lingos.' 'Why, then, if that be the case, fellow, I will
tell you; it is e'en "spaeing,"' said he, very seriously. 'Well,
then,' said I, 'I'll keep my own word, which is much the prettiest-
-spaeing! spaeing! why, I should be ashamed to make use of the
word, it sounds so much like a certain other word;' and then I made
a face as if I were unwell. 'Perhaps it's Scotch also for that?'
'What do ye mean by speaking in that guise to a gentleman?' said
he; 'you insolent vagabond, without a name or a country.' 'There
you are mistaken,' said I; 'my country is Egypt, but we 'Gyptians,
like you Scotch, are rather fond of travelling; and as for name--my
name is Jasper Petulengro, perhaps you have a better; what is it?'
'Sandy Macraw.' At that, brother, the gentlemen burst into a roar
of laughter, and all the ladies tittered."
"You were rather severe on the Scotchman, Jasper."
"Not at all, brother, and suppose I were, he began first; I am the
civilest man in the world, and never interfere with anybody, who
lets me and mine alone. He finds fault with Romany, forsooth! why,
L-d A'mighty, what's Scotch? He doesn't like our songs; what are
his own? I understand them as little as he mine; I have heard one
or two of them, and pretty rubbish they seemed. But the best of
the joke is, the fellow's finding fault with Piramus's fiddle--a
chap from the land of bagpipes finding fault with Piramus's fiddle!
Why, I'll back that fiddle against all the bagpipes in Scotland,
and Piramus against all the bagpipers; for though Piramus weighs
but ten stone, he shall flog a Scotchman of twenty."
"Scotchmen are never so fat as that," said I, "unless indeed, they
have been a long time pensioners of England. I say, Jasper, what
remarkable names your people have!"
"And what pretty names, brother; there's my own, for example,
Jasper; then there's Ambrose and Sylvester; then there's Culvato,
which signifies Claude; then there's Piramus--that's a nice name,
"Then there's your wife's name, Pakomovna; then there's Ursula and
"Then, brother, there's Ercilla."
"Ercilla! the name of the great poet of Spain, how wonderful; then
"The name of a ship, brother; Leviathan was named after a ship, so
don't make a wonder out of her. But there's Sanpriel and Synfye."
"Ay, and Clementina and Lavinia, Camillia and Lydia, Curlanda and
Orlanda; wherever did they get those names?"
"Where did my wife get her necklace, brother?"
"She knows best, Jasper. I hope--"
"Come, no hoping! She got it from her grandmother, who died at the
age of a hundred and three, and sleeps in Coggeshall churchyard.
She got it from her mother, who also died very old, and who could
give no other account of it than that it had been in the family
time out of mind."
"Whence could they have got it?"
"Why, perhaps where they got their names, brother. A gentleman,
who had travelled much, once told me that he had seen the sister of
it about the neck of an Indian queen."
"Some of your names, Jasper, appear to be church names; your own,
for example, and Ambrose, and Sylvester; perhaps you got them from
the Papists, in the times of Popery; but where did you get such a
name as Piramus, a name of Grecian romance? Then some of them
appear to be Slavonian; for example, Mikailia and Pakomovna. I
don't know much of Slavonian; but--"
"What is Slavonian, brother?"
"The family name of certain nations, the principal of which is the
Russian, and from which the word slave is originally derived. You
have heard of the Russians, Jasper?"
"Yes, brother; and seen some. I saw their crallis at the time of
the peace; he was not a bad-looking man for a Russian."
"By the bye, Jasper, I'm half inclined to think that crallis is a
Slavish word. I saw something like it in a lil called 'Voltaire's
Life of Charles.' How you should have come by such names and words
is to me incomprehensible."
"You seem posed, brother."
"I really know very little about you, Jasper."
"Very little indeed, brother. We know very little about ourselves;
and you know nothing, save what we have told you; and we have now
and then told you things about us which are not exactly true,
simply to make a fool of you, brother. You will say that was
wrong; perhaps it was. Well, Sunday will be here in a day or two,
when we will go to church, where possibly we shall hear a sermon on
the disastrous consequences of lying."
The Church--The Aristocratical Pew--Days of Yore--The Clergyman--
"In What Would a Man be Profited?"
When two days had passed, Sunday came; I breakfasted by myself in
the solitary dingle; and then, having set things a little to
rights, I ascended to Mr. Petulengro's encampment. I could hear
church-bells ringing around in the distance, appearing to say,
"Come to church, come to church," as clearly as it was possible for
church-bells to say. I found Mr. Petulengro seated by the door of
his tent, smoking his pipe, in rather an ungenteel undress. "Well,
Jasper," said I, "are you ready to go to church? for if you are, I
am ready to accompany you." "I am not ready, brother," said Mr.
Petulengro, "nor is my wife; the church, too, to which we shall go
is three miles off; so it is of no use to think of going there this
morning, as the service would be three-quarters over before we got
there; if, however, you are disposed to go in the afternoon, we are
your people." Thereupon I returned to my dingle, where I passed
several hours in conning the Welsh Bible, which the preacher, Peter
Williams, had given me.
At last I gave over reading, took a slight refreshment, and was
about to emerge from the dingle, when I heard the voice of Mr.
Petulengro calling me. I went up again to the encampment, where I
found Mr. Petulengro, his wife, and Tawno Chikno, ready to proceed
to church. Mr. and Mrs. Petulengro were dressed in Roman fashion,
though not in the full-blown manner in which they had paid their
visit to Isopel and myself. Tawno had on a clean white slop, with
a nearly new black beaver, with very broad rims, and the nap
exceedingly long. As for myself, I was dressed in much the same
manner as that in which I departed from London, having on, in
honour of the day, a shirt perfectly clean, having washed one on
purpose for the occasion, with my own hands, the day before, in the
pond of tepid water in which the newts and defts were in the habit
of taking their pleasure. We proceeded for upwards of a mile, by
footpaths through meadows and corn-fields; we crossed various
stiles; at last, passing over one, we found ourselves in a road,
wending along which for a considerable distance, we at last came in
sight of a church, the bells of which had been tolling distinctly
in our ears for some time; before, however, we reached the church-
yard, the bells had ceased their melody. It was surrounded by
lofty beech-trees of brilliant green foliage. We entered the gate,
Mrs. Petulengro leading the way, and proceeded to a small door near
the east end of the church. As we advanced, the sound of singing
within the church rose upon our ears. Arrived at the small door,
Mrs. Petulengro opened it and entered, followed by Tawno Chikno. I
myself went last of all, following Mr. Petulengro, who, before I
entered, turned round, and, with a significant nod, advised me to
take care how I behaved. The part of the church which we had
entered was the chancel; on one side stood a number of venerable
old men--probably the neighbouring poor--and on the other a number
of poor girls belonging to the village school, dressed in white
gowns and straw bonnets, whom two elegant but simply dressed young
women were superintending. Every voice seemed to be united in
singing a certain anthem, which, notwithstanding it was written
neither by Tate nor Brady, contains some of the sublimest words
which were ever put together, not the worst of which are those
which burst on our ears as we entered:
"Every eye shall now behold Him,
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at nought and sold Him,
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
Shall the true Messiah see."
Still following Mrs. Petulengro, we proceeded down the chancel and
along the aisle; notwithstanding the singing, I could distinctly
hear as we passed many a voice whispering, "Here come the gypsies!
here come the gypsies!" I felt rather embarrassed, with a somewhat
awkward doubt as to where we were to sit; none of the occupiers of
the pews, who appeared to consist almost entirely of farmers, with
their wives, sons, and daughters, opened a door to admit us. Mrs.
Petulengro, however, appeared to feel not the least embarrassment,
but tripped along the aisle with the greatest nonchalance. We
passed under the pulpit, in which stood the clergyman in his white
surplice, and reached the middle of the church, where we were
confronted by the sexton dressed in long blue coat, and holding in
his hand a wand. This functionary motioned towards the lower end
of the church, where were certain benches, partly occupied by poor
people and boys. Mrs. Petulengro, however, with a toss of her
head, directed her course to a magnificent pew, which was
unoccupied, which she opened and entered, followed closely by Tawno
Chikno, Mr. Petulengro, and myself. The sexton did not appear by
any means to approve of the arrangement, and as I stood next the
door, laid his finger on my arm, as if to intimate that myself and
companions must quit our aristocratical location. I said nothing,
but directed my eyes to the clergyman, who uttered a short and
expressive cough; the sexton looked at him for a moment, and then,
bowing his head, closed the door--in a moment more the music
ceased. I took up a prayer-book, on which was engraved an earl's
coronet. The clergyman uttered, "I will arise, and go to my
father." England's sublime liturgy had commenced.
Oh, what feelings came over me on finding myself again in an
edifice devoted to the religion of my country! I had not been in
such a place I cannot tell for how long--certainly not for years;
and now I had found my way there again, it appeared as if I had
fallen asleep in the pew of the old church of pretty D---. I had
occasionally done so when a child, and had suddenly woke up. Yes,
surely I had been asleep and had woke up; but no! alas, no! I had
not been asleep--at least not in the old church--if I had been
asleep I had been walking in my sleep, struggling, striving,
learning, and unlearning in my sleep. Years had rolled away whilst
I had been asleep--ripe fruit had fallen, green fruit had come on
whilst I had been asleep--how circumstances had altered, and above
all myself, whilst I had been asleep. No, I had not been asleep in
the old church! I was in a pew, it is true, but not the pew of
black leather, in which I sometimes fell asleep in days of yore,
but in a strange pew; and then my companions, they were no longer
those of days of yore. I was no longer with my respectable father
and mother, and my dear brother, but with the gypsy cral and his
wife, and the gigantic Tawno, the Antinous of the dusky people.
And what was I myself? No longer an innocent child, but a moody
man, bearing in my face, as I knew well, the marks of my strivings
and strugglings, of what I had learnt and unlearnt; nevertheless,
the general aspect of things brought to my mind what I had felt and
seen of yore. There was difference enough, it is true, but still
there was a similarity--at least I thought so--the church, the
clergyman, and the clerk, differing in many respects from those of
pretty D---, put me strangely in mind of them; and then the words!-
-by the bye, was it not the magic of the words which brought the
dear enchanting past so powerfully before the mind of Lavengro? for
the words were the same sonorous words of high import which had
first made an impression on his childish ear in the old church of
The liturgy was now over, during the reading of which my companions
behaved in a most unexceptionable manner, sitting down and rising
up when other people sat down and rose, and holding in their hands
prayer-books which they found in the pew, into which they stared
intently, though I observed that, with the exception of Mrs.
Petulengro, who knew how to read a little, they held the books by
the top, and not the bottom, as is the usual way. The clergyman
now ascended the pulpit, arrayed in his black gown. The
congregation composed themselves to attention, as did also my
companions, who fixed their eyes upon the clergyman with a certain
strange immovable stare, which I believe to be peculiar to their
race. The clergyman gave out his text, and began to preach. He
was a tall, gentlemanly man, seemingly between fifty and sixty,
with greyish hair; his features were very handsome, but with a
somewhat melancholy cast: the tones of his voice were rich and
noble, but also with somewhat of melancholy in them. The text
which he gave out was the following one, "In what would a man be
profited, provided he gained the whole world, and lost his own
And on this text the clergyman preached long and well: he did not
read his sermon, but spoke it extempore; his doing so rather
surprised and offended me at first; I was not used to such a style
of preaching in a church devoted to the religion of my country. I
compared it within my mind with the style of preaching used by the
high-church rector in the old church of pretty D---, and I thought
to myself it was very different, and being very different I did not
like it, and I thought to myself how scandalized the people of D---
would have been had they heard it, and I figured to myself how
indignant the high-church clerk would have been had any clergyman
got up in the church of D--- and preached in such a manner. Did it
not savour strongly of dissent, methodism, and similar low stuff?
Surely it did; why, the Methodist I had heard preach on the heath
above the old city, preached in the same manner--at least he
preached extempore; ay, and something like the present clergyman;
for the Methodist spoke very zealously and with great feeling, and
so did the present clergyman; so I, of course, felt rather offended
with the clergyman for speaking with zeal and feeling. However,
long before the sermon was over I forgot the offence which I had
taken, and listened to the sermon with much admiration, for the
eloquence and powerful reasoning with which it abounded.
Oh, how eloquent he was, when he talked of the inestimable value of
a man's soul, which he said endured for ever, whilst his body, as
every one knew, lasted at most for a very contemptible period of
time; and how forcibly he reasoned on the folly of a man, who, for
the sake of gaining the whole world--a thing, he said, which
provided he gained he could only possess for a part of the time,
during which his perishable body existed--should lose his soul,
that is, cause that precious deathless portion of him to suffer
indescribable misery time without end.
There was one part of his sermon which struck me in a very
particular manner: he said, "That there were some people who
gained something in return for their souls; if they did not get the
whole world, they got a part of it--lands, wealth, honour, or
renown; mere trifles, he allowed, in comparison with the value of a
man's soul, which is destined either to enjoy delight, or suffer
tribulation time without end; but which, in the eyes of the
worldly, had a certain value, and which afforded a certain pleasure
and satisfaction. But there were also others who lost their souls,
and got nothing for them--neither lands, wealth, renown, nor
consideration, who were poor outcasts, and despised by everybody.
My friends," he added, "if the man is a fool who barters his soul
for the whole world, what a fool he must be who barters his soul
The eyes of the clergyman, as he uttered these words, wandered
around the whole congregation; and when he had concluded them, the
eyes of the whole congregation were turned upon my companions and
Return from Church--The Cuckoo and Gypsy--Spiritual Discourse.
The service over, my companions and myself returned towards the
encampment, by the way we came. Some of the humble part of the
congregation laughed and joked at us as we passed. Mr. Petulengro
and his wife, however, returned their laughs and jokes with
interest. As for Tawno and myself, we said nothing: Tawno, like
most handsome fellows, having very little to say for himself at any
time; and myself, though not handsome, not being particularly
skilful at repartee. Some boys followed us for a considerable
time, making all kinds of observations about gypsies; but as we
walked at a great pace, we gradually left them behind, and at last
lost sight of them. Mrs. Petulengro and Tawno Chikno walked
together, even as they had come; whilst Mr. Petulengro and myself
followed at a little distance.
"That was a very fine preacher we heard," said I to Mr. Petulengro,
after we had crossed the stile into the fields.
"Very fine indeed, brother," said Mr. Petulengro; "he is talked of,
far and wide, for his sermons; folks say that there is scarcely
another like him in the whole of England."
"He looks rather melancholy, Jasper."
"He lost his wife several years ago, who, they say, was one of the
most beautiful women ever seen. They say that it was grief for her
loss that made him come out mighty strong as a preacher; for,
though he was a clergyman, he was never heard of in the pulpit
before he lost his wife; since then, the whole country has rung
with the preaching of the clergyman of M--- as they call him.
Those two nice young gentlewomen, whom you saw with the female
childer, are his daughters."
"You seem to know all about him, Jasper. Did you ever hear him
"Never, brother; but he has frequently been to our tent, and his
daughters too, and given us tracts; for he is one of the people
they call Evangelicals, who give folks tracts which they cannot
"You should learn to read, Jasper."
"We have no time, brother."
"Are you not frequently idle?"
"Never, brother; when we are not engaged in our traffic, we are
engaged in taking our relaxation: so we have no time to learn."
"You really should make an effort. If you were disposed to learn
to read, I would endeavour to assist you. You would be all the
better for knowing how to read."
"In what way, brother?"
"Why, you could read the Scriptures, and, by so doing, learn your
duty towards your fellow-creatures."
"We know that already, brother; the constables and justices have
contrived to knock that tolerably into our heads."
"Yet you frequently break the laws."
"So, I believe, do now and then those who know how to read,
"Very true, Jasper; but you really ought to learn to read, as, by
so doing, you might learn your duty towards yourselves: and your
chief duty is to take care of your own souls; did not the preacher
say, 'In what is a man profited, provided he gain the whole
"We have not much of the world, brother."
"Very little indeed, Jasper. Did you not observe how the eyes of
the whole congregation were turned towards our pew, when the
preacher said, 'There are some people who lose their souls, and get
nothing in exchange; who are outcast, despised, and miserable?'
Now was not what he said quite applicable to the gypsies?"
"We are not miserable, brother."
"Well, then, you ought to be, Jasper. Have you an inch of ground
of your own? Are you of the least use? Are you not spoken ill of
by everybody? What's a gypsy?"
"What's the bird noising yonder, brother?"
"The bird! oh, that's the cuckoo tolling; but what has the cuckoo
to do with the matter?"
"We'll see, brother; what's the cuckoo?"
"What is it? you know as much about it as myself, Jasper."
"Isn't it a kind of roguish, chaffing bird, brother?"
"I believe it is, Jasper."
"Nobody knows whence it comes, brother?"
"I believe not, Jasper."
"Very poor, brother, not a nest of its own?"
"So they say, Jasper."
"With every person's bad word, brother?"
"Yes, Jasper, every person is mocking it."
"Tolerably merry, brother?"
"Yes, tolerably merry, Jasper."
"Of no use at all, brother?"
"None whatever, Jasper."
"You would be glad to get rid of the cuckoos, brother?"
"Why, not exactly, Jasper; the cuckoo is a pleasant, funny bird,
and its presence and voice give a great charm to the green trees
and fields; no, I can't say I wish exactly to get rid of the
"Well, brother, what's a Romany chal?"
"You must answer that question yourself, Jasper."
"A roguish, chaffing fellow, a'n't he, brother?"
"Ay, ay, Jasper."
"Of no use at all, brother?"
"Just so, Jasper; I see--"
"Something very much like a cuckoo, brother?"
"I see what you are after, Jasper."
"You would like to get rid of us, wouldn't you?"
"Why no, not exactly."
"We are no ornament to the green lanes in spring and summer time,
are we, brother? and the voices of our chies, with their cukkerin
and dukkerin, don't help to make them pleasant?"
"I see what you are at, Jasper."
"You would wish to turn the cuckoos into barn-door fowls, wouldn't
"Can't say I should, Jasper, whatever some people might wish."
"And the chals and chies into radical weavers and factory wenches,
"Can't say that I should, Jasper. You are certainly a picturesque
people, and in many respects an ornament both to town and country;
painting and lil writing too are under great obligations to you.
What pretty pictures are made out of your campings and groupings,
and what pretty books have been written in which gypsies, or at
least creatures intended to represent gypsies, have been the
principal figures. I think if we were without you, we should begin
to miss you."
"Just as you would the cuckoos, if they were all converted into
barn-door fowls. I tell you what, brother; frequently, as I have
sat under a hedge in spring or summer time, and heard the cuckoo, I
have thought that we chals and cuckoos are alike in many respects,
but especially in character. Everybody speaks ill of us both, and
everybody is glad to see both of us again."
"Yes, Jasper, but there is some difference between men and cuckoos;
men have souls, Jasper!"
"And why not cuckoos, brother?"
"You should not talk so, Jasper; what you say is little short of
blasphemy. How should a bird have a soul?"
"And how should a man?"
"Oh, we know very well that a man has a soul."
"How do you know it?"
"We know very well."
"Would you take your oath of it, brother--your bodily oath?"
"Why, I think I might, Jasper!"
"Did you ever see the soul, brother?"
"No, I never saw it."
"Then how could you swear to it? A pretty figure you would make in
a court of justice, to swear to a thing which you never saw. Hold
up your head, fellow. When and where did you see it? Now upon
your oath, fellow, do you mean to say that this Roman stole the
donkey's foal? Oh, there's no one for cross-questioning like
Counsellor P---. Our people when they are in a hobble always like
to employ him, though he is somewhat dear. Now, brother, how can
you get over the 'upon your oath, fellow, will you say that you
have a soul?'"
"Well, we will take no oaths on the subject; but you yourself
believe in the soul. I have heard you say that you believe in
dukkerin; now what is dukkerin but the soul science?"
"When did I say that I believed in it?"
"Why, after that fight, when you pointed to the bloody mark in the
cloud, whilst he you wot of was galloping in the barouche to the
old town, amidst the rain-cataracts, the thunder, and flame of
"I have some kind of remembrance of it, brother."
"Then, again, I heard you say that the dook of Abershaw rode every
night on horseback down the wooded hill."
"I say, brother, what a wonderful memory you have!"
"I wish I had not, Jasper; but I can't help it, it is my
"Misfortune! well, perhaps it is; at any rate it is very ungenteel
to have such a memory. I have heard my wife say that to show you
have a long memory looks very vulgar; and that you can't give a
greater proof of gentility than by forgetting a thing as soon as
possible--more especially a promise, or an acquaintance when he
happens to be shabby. Well, brother, I don't deny that I may have
said that I believe in dukkerin, and in Abershaw's dook, which you
say is his soul; but what I believe one moment, or say I believe,
don't be certain that I shall believe the next, or say I do."
"Indeed, Jasper, I heard you say on a previous occasion, on quoting
a piece of a song, that when a man dies he is cast into the earth,
and there's an end of him."
"I did, did I? Lor' what a memory you have, brother. But you are
not sure that I hold that opinion now."
"Certainly not, Jasper. Indeed, after such a sermon as we have
been hearing, I should be very shocked if you held such an
"However, brother, don't be sure I do not, however shocking such an
opinion may be to you."
"What an incomprehensible people you are, Jasper."
"We are rather so, brother; indeed, we have posed wiser heads than
yours before now."
"You seem to care for so little, and yet you rove about a distinct
"I say, brother!"
"What do you think of our women?"
"They have certainly very singular names, Jasper."
"Names! Lavengro! However, brother, if you had been as fond of
things as of names, you would never have been a pal of ours."
"What do you mean, Jasper?"
"A'n't they rum animals?"
"They have tongues of their own, Jasper."
"Did you ever feel their teeth and nails, brother?"
"Never, Jasper, save Mrs. Herne's. I have always been very civil
to them, so--"
"They let you alone. I say, brother, some part of the secret is in
"They seem rather flighty, Jasper."
"Ay, ay, brother!"
"Rather fond of loose discourse!"
"Rather so, brother."
"Can you always trust them, Jasper?"
"We never watch them, brother."
"Can they always trust you?"
"Not quite so well as we can them. However, we get on very well
together, except Mikailia and her husband; but Mikailia is a
cripple, and is married to the beauty of the world, so she may be
expected to be jealous--though he would not part with her for a
duchess, no more than I would part with my rawnie, nor any other
chal with his."
"Ay, but would not the chi part with the chal for a duke, Jasper?"
"My Pakomovna gave up the duke for me, brother."
"But she occasionally talks of him, Jasper."
"Yes, brother, but Pakomovna was born on a common not far from the
sign of the gammon."
"Gammon of bacon, I suppose."
"Yes, brother; but gammon likewise means--"
"I know it does, Jasper; it means fun, ridicule, jest; it is an
ancient Norse word, and is found in the Edda."
"Lor', brother! how learned in lils you are!"
"Many words of Norse are to be found in our vulgar sayings, Jasper;
for example--in that particularly vulgar saying of ours, 'Your
mother is up,' there's a noble Norse word; mother, there, meaning
not the female who bore us, but rage and choler, as I discovered by
reading the Sagas, Jasper."
"Lor', brother! how book-learned you be."
"Indifferently so, Jasper. Then you think you might trust your
wife with the duke?"
"I think I could, brother, or even with yourself."
"Myself, Jasper! Oh, I never troubled my head about your wife; but
I suppose there have been love affairs between gorgios and Romany
chies. Why, novels are stuffed with such matters; and then even
one of your own songs says so--the song which Ursula was singing
the other afternoon."
"That is somewhat of an old song, brother, and is sung by the chies
as a warning at our solemn festivals."
"Well! but there's your sister-in-law, Ursula, herself, Jasper."
"Ursula, herself, brother?"
"You were talking of my having her, Jasper."
"Well, brother, why didn't you have her?"
"Would she have had me?"
"Of course, brother. You are so much of a Roman, and speak Romany
so remarkably well."
"Poor thing! she looks very innocent!"
"Remarkably so, brother! however, though not born on the same
common with my wife, she knows a thing or two of Roman matters."
"I should like to ask her a question or two, Jasper, in connection
with that song."
"You can do no better, brother. Here we are at the camp. After
tea, take Ursula under a hedge, and ask her a question or two in
connection with that song."
Sunday Evening--Ursula--Action at Law--Meridiana--Married Already.
I took tea that evening with Mr. and Mrs. Petulengro and Ursula,
outside of their tent. Tawno was not present, being engaged with
his wife in his own tabernacle; Sylvester was there, however,
lolling listlessly upon the ground. As I looked upon this man, I
thought him one of the most disagreeable fellows I had ever seen.
His features were ugly, and, moreover, as dark as pepper; and,
besides being dark, his skin was dirty. As for his dress, it was
torn and sordid. His chest was broad, and his arms seemed
powerful; but, upon the whole, he looked a very caitiff. "I am
sorry that man has lost his wife," thought I; "for I am sure he
will never get another." What surprises me is, that he ever found
a woman disposed to unite her lot with his!
After tea I got up and strolled about the field. My thoughts were
upon Isopel Berners. I wondered where she was, and how long she
would stay away. At length becoming tired and listless, I
determined to return to the dingle, and resume the reading of the
Bible at the place where I had left off. "What better could I do,"
methought, "on a Sunday evening?" I was then near the wood which
surrounded the dingle, but at that side which was farthest from the
encampment, which stood near the entrance. Suddenly, on turning
round the southern corner of the copse, which surrounded the
dingle, I perceived Ursula seated under a thornbush. I thought I
never saw her look prettier than then, dressed as she was, in her
"Good evening, Ursula," said I; "I little thought to have the
pleasure of seeing you here."
"Nor would you, brother," said Ursula, "had not Jasper told me that
you had been talking about me, and wanted to speak to me under a
hedge; so, hearing that, I watched your motions, and came here and
"I was thinking of going to my quarters in the dingle, to read the
Bible, Ursula, but--"
"Oh, pray then, go to your quarters, brother, and read the
Miduveleskoe lil; you can speak to me under a hedge some other
"I think I will sit down with you, Ursula; for, after all, reading
godly books in dingles at eve, is rather sombre work. Yes, I think
I will sit down with you;" and I sat down by her side.
"Well, brother, now you have sat down with me under the hedge, what
have you to say to me?"
"Why, I hardly know, Ursula."
"Not know, brother; a pretty fellow you to ask young women to come
and sit with you under hedges, and, when they come, not know what
to say to them."
"Oh! ah! I remember; do you know, Ursula, that I take a great
interest in you?"
"Thank ye, brother; kind of you, at any rate."
"You must be exposed to a great many temptations, Ursula."
"A great many indeed, brother. It is hard, to see fine things,
such as shawls, gold watches, and chains in the shops, behind the
big glasses, and to know that they are not intended for one.
Many's the time I have been tempted to make a dash at them; but I
bethought myself that by so doing I should cut my hands, besides
being almost certain of being grabbed and sent across the gull's
bath to the foreign country."
"Then you think gold and fine things temptations, Ursula?"
"Of course, brother, very great temptations; don't you think them
"Can't say I do, Ursula."
"Then more fool you, brother; but have the kindness to tell me what
you would call a temptation?"
"Why, for example, the hope of honour and renown, Ursula."
"The hope of honour and renown! very good, brother; but I tell you
one thing, that unless you have money in your pocket, and good
broad-cloth on your back, you are not likely to obtain much honour
and--what do you call it? amongst the gorgios, to say nothing of
the Romany chals."
"I should have thought, Ursula, that the Romany chals, roaming
about the world as they do, free and independent, were above being
led by such trifles."
"Then you know nothing of the gypsies, brother; no people on earth
are fonder of those trifles, as you call them, than the Romany
chals, and more disposed to respect those who have them."
"Then money and fine clothes would induce you to do anything,
"Ay, ay, brother, anything."
"To chore, Ursula?"
"Like enough, brother; gypsies have been transported before now for
"Ay, ay; I was telling dukkerin only yesterday, brother."
"In fact, to break the law in everything?"
"Who knows, brother, who knows? as I said before, gold and fine
clothes are great temptations."
"Well, Ursula, I am sorry for it, I should never have thought you
"To think that I am seated by one who is willing to--to--"
"Go on, brother."
"To play the thief."
"Go on, brother."
"Go on, brother."
"Go on, brother."
"The what, brother?" said Ursula, starting from her seat.
"Why, the lubbeny; don't you--"
"I tell you what, brother," said Ursula, looking somewhat pale, and
speaking very low, "if I had only something in my hand, I would do
you a mischief."
"Why, what is the matter, Ursula?" said I; "how have I offended
"How have you offended me? Why, didn't you insinivate just now
that I was ready to play the--the--"
"Go on, Ursula."
"The--the--I'll not say it; but I only wish I had something in my
"If I have offended, Ursula, I am very sorry for it; any offence I
may have given you was from want of understanding you. Come, pray
be seated, I have much to question you about--to talk to you
"Seated, not I! It was only just now that you gave me to
understand that you was ashamed to be seated by me, a thief, a
"Well, did you not almost give me to understand that you were both,
"I don't much care being called a thief and a liar," said Ursula;
"a person may be a liar and thief, and yet a very honest woman,
"I tell you what, brother, if you ever sinivate again that I could
be the third thing, so help me duvel! I'll do you a mischief. By
my God I will!"
"Well, Ursula, I assure you that I shall sinivate, as you call it,
nothing of the kind about you. I have no doubt, from what you have
said, that you are a very paragon of virtue--a perfect Lucretia;
"My name is Ursula, brother, and not Lucretia: Lucretia is not of
our family, but one of the Bucklands; she travels about
Oxfordshire; yet I am as good as she any day."
"Lucretia; how odd! Where could she have got that name? Well, I
make no doubt, Ursula, that you are quite as good as she, and she
as her namesake of ancient Rome; but there is a mystery in this
same virtue, Ursula, which I cannot fathom; how a thief and a liar
should be able, or indeed willing, to preserve her virtue is what I
don't understand. You confess that you are very fond of gold.
Now, how is it that you don't barter your virtue for gold
sometimes? I am a philosopher, Ursula, and like to know
everything. You must be every now and then exposed to great
temptation, Ursula; for you are of a beauty calculated to captivate
all hearts. Come, sit down and tell me how you are enabled to
resist such a temptation as gold and fine clothes?"
"Well, brother," said Ursula, "as you say you mean no harm, I will
sit down beside you, and enter into discourse with you; but I will
uphold that you are the coolest hand that I ever came nigh, and say
the coolest things."
And thereupon Ursula sat down by my side.
"Well, Ursula, we will, if you please, discourse on the subject of
your temptations. I suppose that you travel very much about, and
show yourself in all kinds of places?"
"In all kinds, brother; I travels, as you say, very much about,
attends fairs and races, and enters booths and public-houses, where
I tells fortunes, and sometimes dances and sings."
"And do not people often address you in a very free manner?"
"Frequently, brother; and I give them tolerably free answers."
"Do people ever offer to make you presents? I mean presents of
value, such as--"
"Silk handkerchiefs, shawls, and trinkets; very frequently,
"And what do you do, Ursula?"
"I takes what people offers me, brother, and stows it away as soon
as I can."
"Well, but don't people expect something for their presents? I
don't mean dukkerin, dancing, and the like; but such a moderate and
innocent thing as a choomer, Ursula?"
"Innocent thing, do you call it, brother?"
"The world calls it so, Ursula. Well, do the people who give you
the fine things never expect a choomer in return?"
"Very frequently, brother."
"And do you ever grant it?"
"How do you avoid it?"
"I gets away as soon as possible, brother. If they follows me, I
tries to baffle them, by means of jests and laughter; and if they
persist, I uses bad and terrible language, of which I have plenty
"But if your terrible language has no effect?"
"Then I screams for the constable, and if he comes not, I uses my
teeth and nails."
"And are they always sufficient?"
"I have only had to use them twice, brother; but then I found them
"But suppose the person who followed you was highly agreeable,
Ursula? A handsome young officer of local militia, for example,
all dressed in Lincoln green, would you still refuse him the
"We makes no difference, brother; the daughters of the gypsy-father
makes no difference; and what's more, sees none."
"Well, Ursula, the world will hardly give you credit for such
"What cares we for the world, brother! we are not of the world."
"But your fathers, brothers, and uncles, give you credit, I
"Ay, ay, brother, our fathers, brothers, and cokos gives us all
manner of credit; for example, I am telling lies and dukkerin in a
public-house where my batu or coko--perhaps both--are playing on
the fiddle; well, my batu and my coko beholds me amongst the
public-house crew, talking nonsense and hearing nonsense; but they
are under no apprehension; and presently they sees the good-looking
officer of militia, in his greens and Lincolns, get up and give me
a wink, and I go out with him abroad, into the dark night perhaps;
well, my batu and my coko goes on fiddling just as if I were six
miles off asleep in the tent, and not out in the dark street with
the local officer, with his Lincolns and his greens."
"They know they can trust you, Ursula?"
"Ay, ay, brother; and, what's more, I knows I can trust myself."
"So you would merely go out to make a fool of him, Ursula?"
"Merely go out to make a fool of him, brother, I assure you."
"But such proceedings really have an odd look, Ursula."
"Amongst gorgios, very so, brother."
"Well, it must be rather unpleasant to lose one's character even
amongst gorgios, Ursula; and suppose the officer, out of revenge
for being tricked and duped by you, were to say of you the thing
that is not, were to meet you on the race-course the next day, and
boast of receiving favours which he never had, amidst a knot of
jeering militia-men, how would you proceed, Ursula? would you not
"By no means, brother; I should bring my action of law against
"Your action at law, Ursula?"
"Yes, brother, I should give a whistle, whereupon all one's cokos
and batus, and all my near and distant relations, would leave their
fiddling, dukkerin, and horse-dealing, and come flocking about me.
'What's the matter, Ursula?' says my coko. 'Nothing at all,' I
replies, 'save and except that gorgio, in his greens and his
Lincolns, says that I have played the--with him.' 'Oho, he does,
Ursula,' says my coko, 'try your action of law against him, my
lamb,' and he puts something privily into my hands; whereupon I
goes close up to the grinning gorgio, and staring him in the face,
with my head pushed forward, I cries out: 'You say I did what was
wrong with you last night when I was out with you abroad?' 'Yes,'
says the local officer, 'I says you did,' looking down all the
time. 'You are a liar,' says I, and forthwith I breaks his head
with the stick which I holds behind me, and which my coko has
conveyed privily into my hand."
"And this is your action at law, Ursula?"
"Yes, brother, this is my action at club-law."
"And would your breaking the fellow's head quite clear you of all
suspicion in the eyes of your batus, cokos, and what not?"
"They would never suspect me at all, brother, because they would
know that I would never condescend to be over-intimate with a
gorgio; the breaking the head would be merely intended to justify
Ursula in the eyes of the gorgios."
"And would it clear you in their eyes?"
"Would it not, brother? when they saw the blood running down from
the fellow's cracked poll on his greens and Lincolns, they would be
quite satisfied; why, the fellow would not be able to show his face
at fair or merry-making for a year and three-quarters."
"Did you ever try it, Ursula?"
"Can't say I ever did, brother, but it would do."
"And how did you ever learn such a method of proceeding?"
"Why, 't is advised by gypsy liri, brother. It's part of our way
of settling difficulties amongst ourselves; for example, if a young
Roman were to say the thing which is not respecting Ursula and
himself, Ursula would call a great meeting of the people, who would
all sit down in a ring, the young fellow amongst them; a coko would
then put a stick in Ursula's hand, who would then get up and go to
the young fellow, and say, 'Did I play the--with you?' and were he
to say 'Yes,' she would crack his head before the eyes of all."
"Well," said I, "Ursula, I was bred an apprentice to gorgio law,
and of course ought to stand up for it, whenever I conscientiously
can, but I must say the gypsy manner of bringing an action for
defamation is much less tedious, and far more satisfactory, than
the gorgiko one. I wish you now to clear up a certain point which
is rather mysterious to me. You say that for a Romany chi to do
what is unseemly with a gorgio is quite out of the question, yet
only the other day I heard you singing a song in which a Romany chi
confesses herself to be cambri by a grand gorgious gentleman."
"A sad let down," said Ursula.
"Well," said I, "sad or not, there's the song that speaks of the
thing, which you give me to understand is not."
"Well, if the thing ever was," said Ursula, "it was a long time
ago, and perhaps, after all, not true."
"Then why do you sing the song?"
"I'll tell you, brother, we sings the song now and then to be a
warning to ourselves to have as little to do as possible in the way
of acquaintance with the gorgios; and a warning it is; you see how
the young woman in the song was driven out of her tent by her
mother, with all kind of disgrace and bad language; but you don't
know that she was afterwards buried alive by her cokos and pals, in
an uninhabited place; the song doesn't say it, but the story says
it, for there is a story about it, though, as I said before, it was
a long time ago, and perhaps, after all, wasn't true."
"But if such a thing were to happen at present, would the cokos and
pals bury the girl alive?"
"I can't say what they would do," said Ursula; "I suppose they are
not so strict as they were long ago; at any rate, she would be
driven from the tan, and avoided by all her family and relations as
a gorgio's acquaintance; so that, perhaps, at last, she would be
glad if they would bury her alive."
"Well, I can conceive that there would be an objection on the part
of the cokos and batus that a Romany chi should form an improper
acquaintance with a gorgio, but I should think that the batus and
cokos could hardly object to the chi's entering into the honourable
estate of wedlock with a gorgio."
Ursula was silent.
"Marriage is an honourable estate, Ursula."
"Well, brother, suppose it be?"
"I don't see why a Romany chi should object to enter into the
honourable estate of wedlock with a gorgio."
"You don't, brother; don't you?"
"No," said I; "and, moreover, I am aware, notwithstanding your
evasion, Ursula, that marriages and connections now and then occur
between gorgios and Romany chies; the result of which is the mixed
breed, called half and half, which is at present travelling about
England, and to which the Flaming Tinman belongs, otherwise called
"As for the half and halfs," said Ursula, "they are a bad set; and
there is not a worse blackguard in England than Anselo Herne."
"All that you say may be very true, Ursula, but you admit that
there are half and halfs."
"The more's the pity, brother."
"Pity, or not, you admit the fact; but how do you account for it?"
"How do I account for it? why, I will tell you, by the break up of
a Roman family, brother--the father of a small family dies, and,
perhaps, the mother; and the poor children are left behind;
sometimes, they are gathered up by their relations, and sometimes,
if they have none, by charitable Romans, who bring them up in the
observance of gypsy law; but sometimes they are not so lucky, and
falls into the company of gorgios, trampers, and basket-makers, who
live in caravans, with whom they take up, and so--I hate to talk of
the matter, brother; but so comes this race of the half and halfs."
"Then you mean to say, Ursula, that no Romany chi, unless compelled
by hard necessity, would have anything to do with a gorgio?"
"We are not over-fond of gorgios, brother, and we hates basket-
makers, and folks that live in caravans."
"Well," said I, "suppose a gorgio who is not a basket-maker, a
fine, handsome gorgious gentleman, who lives in a fine house--"
"We are not fond of houses, brother; I never slept in a house in my
"But would not plenty of money induce you?"
"I hate houses, brother, and those who live in them."
"Well, suppose such a person were willing to resign his fine house;
and, for love of you, to adopt gypsy law, speak Romany, and live in
a tan, would you have nothing to say to him?"
"Bringing plenty of money with him, brother?"
"Well, bringing plenty of money with him, Ursula."
"Well, brother, suppose you produce your man; where is he?"
"I was merely supposing such a person, Ursula."
"Then you don't know of such a person, brother?"
"Why, no, Ursula; why do you ask?"
"Because, brother, I was almost beginning to think that you meant
"Myself! Ursula; I have no fine house to resign; nor have I money.
Moreover, Ursula, though I have a great regard for you, and though
I consider you very handsome, quite as handsome, indeed, as
"Meridiana! where did you meet with her?" said Ursula, with a toss
of her head.
"Why, in old Pulci's--"
"At old Fulcher's! that's not true, brother. Meridiana is a
Borzlam, and travels with her own people, and not with old Fulcher,
who is a gorgio, and a basket-maker."
"I was not speaking of old Fulcher, but Pulci, a great Italian
writer, who lived many hundred years ago, and who, in his poem
called 'Morgante Maggiore,' speaks of Meridiana, the daughter of--"
"Old Carus Borzlam," said Ursula; "but if the fellow you mention
lived so many hundred years ago, how, in the name of wonder, could
he know anything of Meridiana?"
"The wonder, Ursula, is, how your people could ever have got hold
of that name, and similar ones. The Meridiana of Pulci was not the
daughter of old Carus Borzlam, but of Caradoro, a great pagan king
of the East, who, being besieged in his capital by Manfredonio,
another mighty pagan king, who wished to obtain possession of his
daughter, who had refused him, was relieved in his distress by
certain paladins of Charlemagne, with one of whom, Oliver, his
daughter Meridiana fell in love."
"I see," said, Ursula, "that it must have been altogether a
different person, for I am sure that Meridiana Borzlam would never
have fallen in love with Oliver. Oliver! why, that is the name of
the curo-mengro, who lost the fight near the chong gav, the day of
the great tempest, when I got wet through. No, no! Meridiana
Borzlam would never have so far forgot her blood as to take up with
"I was not talking of that Oliver, Ursula, but of Oliver, peer of
France, and paladin of Charlemagne, with whom Meridiana, daughter
of Caradoro, fell in love, and for whose sake she renounced her
religion and became a Christian, and finally ingravidata, or
cambri, by him:-
'E nacquene un figliuol, dice la storia,
Che dette a Carlo-man poi gran vittoria;'
"I don't want to know what it means," said Ursula; "no good, I'm
sure. Well, if the Meridiana of Charles's wain's pal was no
handsomer than Meridiana Borzlam, she was no great catch, brother;
for though I am by no means given to vanity, I think myself better
to look at than she, though I will say she is no lubbeny, and would
"I make no doubt she would, Ursula, and I make no doubt that you
are much handsomer than she, or even the Meridiana of Oliver. What
I was about to say, before you interrupted me, is this, that though
I have a great regard for you, and highly admire you, it is only in
a brotherly way, and--"
"And you had nothing better to say to me," said Ursula, "when you
wanted to talk to me beneath a hedge, than that you liked me in a
brotherly way I well, I declare--"
"You seem disappointed, Ursula."
"Disappointed, brother! not I."
"You were just now saying that you disliked gorgios, so, of course,
could only wish that I, who am a gorgio, should like you in a
brotherly way: I wished to have a conversation with you beneath a
hedge, but only with the view of procuring from you some
information respecting the song which you sung the other day, and
the conduct of Roman females, which has always struck me as being
highly unaccountable; so, if you thought anything else--"
"What else should I expect from a picker-up of old words, brother?
Bah! I dislike a picker-up of old words worse than a picker-up of
"Don't be angry, Ursula, I feel a great interest in you; you are
very handsome, and very clever; indeed, with your beauty and
cleverness, I only wonder that you have not long since been
"You do, do you, brother?"
"Yes. However, keep up your spirits, Ursula, you are not much past
the prime of youth, so--"
"Not much past the prime of youth! Don't be uncivil, brother, I
was only twenty-two last month."
"Don't be offended, Ursula, but twenty-two is twenty-two, or, I
should rather say, that twenty-two in a woman is more than twenty-
six in a man. You are still very beautiful, but I advise you to
accept the first offer that's made to you."
"Thank you, brother, but your advice comes rather late; I accepted
the first offer that was made me five years ago."
"You married five years ago, Ursula! is it possible?"
"Quite possible, brother, I assure you."
"And how came I to know nothing about it?"
"How comes it that you don't know many thousand things about the
Romans, brother? Do you think they tell you all their affairs?"
"Married, Ursula, married! well, I declare!"
"You seem disappointed, brother."
"Disappointed! Oh! no, not at all; but Jasper, only a few weeks
ago, told me that you were not married; and, indeed, almost gave me
to understand that you would be very glad to get a husband."
"And you believed him? I'll tell you, brother, for your
instruction, that there is not in the whole world a greater liar
than Jasper Petulengro."
"I am sorry to hear it, Ursula; but with respect to him you
married--who might he be? A gorgio, or a Romany chal?"
"Gorgio, or Romany chal! Do you think I would ever condescend to a
gorgio! It was a Camomescro, brother, a Lovell, a distant relation
of my own."
"And where is he? and what became of him! Have you any family?"
"Don't think I am going to tell you all my history, brother; and,
to tell you the truth, I am tired of sitting under hedges with you,
talking nonsense. I shall go to my house."
"Do sit a little longer, sister Ursula. I most heartily
congratulate you on your marriage. But where is this same Lovell?
I have never seen him: I wish to congratulate him too. You are
quite as handsome as the Meridiana of Pulci, Ursula, ay, or the
Despina of Riciardetto. Riciardetto, Ursula, is a poem written by
one Fortiguerra, about ninety years ago, in imitation of the
Morgante of Pulci. It treats of the wars of Charlemagne and his
Paladins with various barbarous nations, who came to besiege Paris.
Despina was the daughter and heiress of Scricca, King of Cafria;
she was the beloved of Riciardetto, and was beautiful as an angel;
but I make no doubt you are quite as handsome as she."
"Brother," said Ursula--but the reply of Ursula I reserve for
another chapter, the present having attained to rather an uncommon
length, for which, however, the importance of the matter discussed
is a sufficient apology.
Ursula's Tale--The Patteran--The Deep Water--Second Husband.
"Brother," said Ursula, plucking a dandelion which grew at her
feet, "I have always said that a more civil and pleasant-spoken
person than yourself can't be found. I have a great regard for you
and your learning, and am willing to do you any pleasure in the way
of words or conversation. Mine is not a very happy story, but as
you wish to hear it, it is quite at your service. Launcelot Lovell
made me an offer, as you call it, and we were married in Roman
fashion; that is, we gave each other our right hands, and promised
to be true to each other. We lived together two years, travelling
sometimes by ourselves, sometimes with our relations; I bore him
two children, both of which were still-born, partly, I believe,
from the fatigue I underwent in running about the country telling
dukkerin when I was not exactly in a state to do so, and partly
from the kicks and blows which my husband Launcelot was in the
habit of giving me every night, provided I came home with less than
five shillings, which it is sometimes impossible to make in the
country, provided no fair or merry-making is going on. At the end
of two years my husband, Launcelot, whistled a horse from a
farmer's field, and sold it for forty-pounds; and for that horse he
was taken, put in prison, tried, and condemned to be sent to the
other country for life. Two days before he was to be sent away, I
got leave to see him in the prison, and in the presence of the
turnkey I gave him a thin cake of gingerbread, in which there was a
dainty saw which could cut through iron. I then took on
wonderfully, turned my eyes inside out, fell down in a seeming fit,
and was carried out of the prison. That same night my husband
sawed his irons off, cut through the bars of his window, and
dropping down a height of fifty feet, lighted on his legs, and came
and joined me on a heath where I was camped alone. We were just
getting things ready to be off, when we heard people coming, and
sure enough they were runners after my husband, Launcelot Lovell;
for his escape had been discovered within a quarter of an hour
after he had got away. My husband, without bidding me farewell,
set off at full speed, and they after him, but they could not take
him, and so they came back and took me, and shook me, and
threatened me, and had me before the poknees, who shook his head at
me, and threatened me in order to make me discover where my husband
was, but I said I did not know, which was true enough; not that I
would have told him if I had. So at last the poknees and the
runners, not being able to make anything out of me, were obliged to
let me go, and I went in search of my husband. I wandered about
with my cart for several days in the direction in which I saw him
run off, with my eyes bent on the ground, but could see no marks of
him; at last, coming to four cross roads, I saw my husband's
"You saw your husband's patteran?"
"Yes, brother. Do you know what patteran means?"
"Of course, Ursula; the gypsy trail, the handful of grass which the
gypsies strew in the roads as they travel, to give information to
any of their companions who may be behind, as to the route they
have taken. The gypsy patteran has always had a strange interest
for me, Ursula."
"Like enough, brother; but what does patteran mean?"
"Why, the gypsy trail, formed as I told you before."
"And you know nothing more about patteran, brother?"
"Nothing at all, Ursula; do you?"
"What's the name for the leaf of a tree, brother?"
"I don't know," said I; "it's odd enough that I have asked that
question of a dozen Romany chals and chies, and they always told me
that they did not know."
"No more they did, brother; there's only one person in England that
knows, and that's myself--the name for a leaf is patteran. Now
there are two that knows it--the other is yourself."
"Dear me, Ursula, how very strange! I am much obliged to you. I
think I never saw you look so pretty as you do now; but who told
"My mother, Mrs. Herne, told it me one day, brother, when she was
in a good humour, which she very seldom was, as no one has a better
right to know than yourself, as she hated you mortally: it was one
day when you had been asking our company what was the word for a
leaf, and nobody could tell you, that she took me aside and told
me, for she was in a good humour, and triumphed in seeing you
balked. She told me the word for leaf was patteran, which our
people use now for trail, having forgotten the true meaning. She
said that the trail was called patteran, because the gypsies of old
were in the habit of making the marks with the leaves and branches
of trees, placed in a certain manner. She said that nobody knew it
but herself, who was one of the old sort, and begged me never to
tell the word to any one but him I should marry; and to be
particularly cautious never to let you know it, whom she hated.
Well, brother, perhaps I have done wrong to tell you; but, as I
said before, I likes you, and am always ready to do your pleasure
in words and conversation; my mother, moreover, is dead and gone,
and, poor thing, will never know anything about the matter. So,
when I married, I told my husband about the patteran, and we were
in the habit of making our private trails with leaves and branches
of trees, which none of the other gypsy people did; so, when I saw
my husband's patteran, I knew it at once, and I followed it upwards
of two hundred miles towards the north; and then I came to a deep,
awful-looking water, with an overhanging bank, and on the bank I
found the patteran, which directed me to proceed along the bank
towards the east, and I followed my husband's patteran towards the
east; and before I had gone half a mile, I came to a place where I
saw the bank had given way, and fallen into the deep water.
Without paying much heed, I passed on, and presently came to a
public-house, not far from the water, and I entered the public-
house to get a little beer, and perhaps to tell a dukkerin, for I
saw a great many people about the door; and, when I entered, I
found there was what they calls an inquest being held upon a body
in that house, and the jury had just risen to go and look at the
body; and being a woman, and having a curiosity, I thought I would
go with them, and so I did; and no sooner did I see the body, than
I knew it to be my husband's; it was much swelled and altered, but
I knew it partly by the clothes, and partly by a mark on the
forehead, and I cried out, 'It is my husband's body,' and I fell
down in a fit, and the fit that time, brother, was not a seeming
"Dear me," said I, "how terrible! but tell me, Ursula, how did your
husband come by his death?"
"The bank, overhanging the deep water, gave way under him, brother,
and he was drowned; for, like most of our people, he could not
swim, or only a little. The body, after it had been in the water a
long time, came up of itself, and was found floating. Well,
brother, when the people of the neighbourhood found that I was the
wife of the drowned man, they were very kind to me, and made a
subscription for me, with which, after having seen my husband
buried, I returned the way I had come, till I met Jasper and his
people, and with them I have travelled ever since: I was very
melancholy for a long time, I assure you, brother; for the death of
my husband preyed very much upon my mind."
"His death was certainly a very shocking one, Ursula; but, really,
if he had died a natural one, you could scarcely have regretted it,
for he appears to have treated you barbarously."
"Women must bear, brother; and, barring that he kicked and beat me,
and drove me out to tell dukkerin when I could scarcely stand, he
was not a bad husband. A man, by gypsy law, brother, is allowed to
kick and beat his wife, and to bury her alive, if he thinks proper.
I am a gypsy, and have nothing to say against the law."
"But what has Mikailia Chikno to say about it?"
"She is a cripple, brother, the only cripple amongst the Roman
people: so she is allowed to do and say as she pleases. Moreover,
her husband does not think fit to kick or beat her, though it is my
opinion she would like him all the better if he were occasionally
to do so, and threaten to bury her alive; at any rate, she would
treat him better, and respect him more."
"Your sister does not seem to stand much in awe of Jasper
"Let the matters of my sister and Jasper Petulengro alone, brother;
you must travel in their company some time before you can
understand them; they are a strange two, up to all kind of
chaffing: but two more regular Romans don't breathe, and I'll tell
you, for your instruction, that there isn't a better mare-breaker
in England than Jasper Petulengro, if you can manage Miss Isopel
Berners as well as--"
"Isopel Berners," said I, "how came you to think of her?"
"How should I but think of her, brother, living as she does with
you in Mumper's dingle, and travelling about with you; you will
have, brother, more difficulty to manage her, than Jasper has to
manage my sister Pakomovna. I should have mentioned her before,
only I wanted to know what you had to say to me; and when we got
into discourse, I forgot her. I say, brother, let me tell you your
dukkerin, with respect to her, you will never--"
"I want to hear no dukkerin, Ursula."
"Do let me tell you your dukkerin, brother, you will never manage--
"I want to hear no dukkerin, Ursula, in connection with Isopel
Berners. Moreover, it is Sunday, we will change the subject; it is
surprising to me that, after all you have undergone, you should
look so beautiful. I suppose you do not think of marrying again,
"No, brother, one husband at a time is quite enough for any
reasonable mort; especially such a good husband as I have got."
"Such a good husband! why, I thought you told me your husband was
"Yes, brother, my first husband was."
"And have you a second?"
"To be sure, brother."
"And who is he? in the name of wonder."
"Who is he? why Sylvester, to be sure."
"I do assure you, Ursula, that I feel disposed to be angry with
you; such a handsome young woman as yourself to take up with such a
nasty pepper-faced good for nothing--"
"I won't hear my husband abused, brother; so you had better say no
"Why, is he not the Lazarus of the gypsies? has he a penny of his
"Then the more his want, brother, of a clever chi like me to take
care of him and his childer. I tell you what, brother, I will
chore, if necessary, and tell dukkerin for Sylvester, if even so
heavy as scarcely to be able to stand. You call him lazy; you
would not think him lazy if you were in a ring with him: he is a
proper man with his hands; Jasper is going to back him for twenty
pounds against Slammocks of the Chong gav, the brother of Roarer
and Bell-metal, he says he has no doubt that he will win."
"Well, if you like him, I, of course, can have no objection. Have
you been long married?"
"About a fortnight, brother; that dinner, the other day, when I
sang the song, was given in celebration of the wedding."
"Were you married in a church, Ursula?"
"We were not, brother; none but gorgios, cripples, and lubbenys are
ever married in a church: we took each other's words. Brother, I
have been with you near three hours beneath this hedge. I will go
to my husband."
"Does he know that you are here?"
"He does, brother."
"And is he satisfied?"
"Satisfied! of course. Lor', you gorgies! Brother, I go to my
husband and my house." And, thereupon, Ursula rose and departed.
After waiting a little time I also arose; it was now dark, and I
thought I could do no better than betake myself to the dingle; at
the entrance of it I found Mr. Petulengro. "Well, brother," said
he, "what kind of conversation have you and Ursula had beneath the
"If you wished to hear what we were talking about, you should have
come and sat down beside us; you knew where we were."
"Well, brother, I did much the same, for I went and sat down behind
"Behind the hedge, Jasper?"
"Behind the hedge, brother."
"And heard all our conversation."
"Every word, brother; and a rum conversation it was."
"'Tis an old saying, Jasper, that listeners never hear any good of
themselves; perhaps you heard the epithet that Ursula bestowed upon
"If, by epitaph, you mean that she called me a liar, I did,
brother, and she was not much wrong, for I certainly do not always
stick exactly to truth; you, however, have not much to complain of
"You deceived me about Ursula, giving me to understand she was not
"She was not married when I told you so, brother; that is, not to
Sylvester; nor was I aware that she was going to marry him. I once
thought you had a kind of regard for her, and I am sure she had as
much for you as a Romany chi can have for a gorgio. I half
expected to have heard you make love to her behind the hedge, but I
begin to think you care for nothing in this world but old words and
strange stories. Lor' to take a young woman under a hedge, and
talk to her as you did to Ursula; and yet you got everything out of
her that you wanted, with your gammon about old Fulcher and
Meridiana. You are a cunning one, brother."
"There you are mistaken, Jasper. I am not cunning. If people
think I am, it is because, being made up of art themselves,
simplicity of character is a puzzle to them. Your women are
certainly extraordinary creatures, Jasper."
"Didn't I say they were rum animals? Brother, we Romans shall
always stick together as long as they stick fast to us."
"Do you think they always will, Jasper?"
"Can't say, brother; nothing lasts for ever. Romany chies are
Romany chies still, though not exactly what they were sixty years
ago. My wife, though a rum one, is not Mrs. Herne, brother. I
think she is rather fond of Frenchmen and French discourse. I tell
you what, brother, if ever gypsyism breaks up, it will be owing to
our chies having been bitten by that mad puppy they calls
The Dingle at Night--The Two Sides of the Question--Roman Females--
Filling the Kettle--The Dream--The Tall Figure.
I descended to the bottom of the dingle. It was nearly involved in
obscurity. To dissipate the feeling of melancholy which came over
my mind, I resolved to kindle a fire; and having heaped dry sticks
upon my hearth, and added a billet or two, I struck a light, and
soon produced a blaze. Sitting down, I fixed my eyes upon the
blaze, and soon fell into a deep meditation. I thought of the
events of the day, the scene at church, and what I had heard at
church, the danger of losing one's soul, the doubts of Jasper
Petulengro as to whether one had a soul. I thought over the
various arguments which I had either heard, or which had come
spontaneously to my mind, for or against the probability of a state
of future existence. They appeared to me to be tolerably evenly
balanced. I then thought that it was at all events taking the
safest part to conclude that there was a soul. It would be a
terrible thing, after having passed one's life in the disbelief of
the existence of a soul, to wake up after death a soul, and to find
one's self a lost soul. Yes, methought I would come to the
conclusion that one has a soul. Choosing the safe side, however,
appeared to me to be playing a rather dastardly part. I had never
been an admirer of people who chose the safe side in everything;
indeed I had always entertained a thorough contempt for them.
Surely it would be showing more manhood to adopt the dangerous
side, that of disbelief; I almost resolved to do so--but yet in a
question of so much importance, I ought not to be guided by vanity.
The question was not which was the safe, but the true side? yet how
was I to know which was the true side? Then I thought of the
Bible--which I had been reading in the morning--that spoke of the
soul and a future state; but was the Bible true? I had heard
learned and moral men say that it was true, but I had also heard
learned and moral men say that it was not: how was I to decide?
Still that balance of probabilities! If I could but see the way of
truth, I would follow it, if necessary, upon hands and knees; on
that I was determined; but I could not see it. Feeling my brain
begin to turn round, I resolved to think of something else; and
forthwith began to think of what had passed between Ursula and
myself in our discourse beneath the hedge.
I mused deeply on what she had told me as to the virtue of the
females of her race. How singular that virtue must be which was
kept pure and immaculate by the possessor, whilst indulging in
habits of falsehood and dishonesty! I had always thought the gypsy
females extraordinary beings. I had often wondered at them, their
dress, their manner of speaking, and, not least, at their names;
but, until the present day, I had been unacquainted with the most
extraordinary point connected with them. How came they possessed
of this extraordinary virtue? was it because they were thievish? I
remembered that an ancient thief-taker, who had retired from his
useful calling, and who frequently visited the office of my master
at law, the respectable S---, who had the management of his
property--I remembered to have heard this worthy, with whom I
occasionally held discourse, philosophic and profound, when he and
I chanced to be alone together in the office, say that all first-
rate thieves were sober, and of well-regulated morals, their bodily
passions being kept in abeyance by their love of gain; but this
axiom could scarcely hold good with respect to these women--however
thievish they might be, they did care for something besides gain:
they cared for their husbands. If they did thieve, they merely
thieved for their husbands; and though, perhaps, some of them were
vain, they merely prized their beauty because it gave them favour
in the eyes of their husbands. Whatever the husbands were--and
Jasper had almost insinuated that the males occasionally allowed
themselves some latitude--they appeared to be as faithful to their
husbands as the ancient Roman matrons were to theirs. Roman
matrons! and, after all, might not these be in reality Roman
matrons? They called themselves Romans; might not they be the
descendants of the old Roman matrons? Might not they be of the
same blood as Lucretia? And were not many of their strange names--
Lucretia amongst the rest--handed down to them from old Rome? It
is true their language was not that of old Rome; it was not,
however, altogether different from it. After all, the ancient
Romans might be a tribe of these people, who settled down and
founded a village with the tilts of carts, which, by degrees, and
the influx of other people, became the grand city of the world. I
liked the idea of the grand city of the world owing its origin to a
people who had been in the habit of carrying their houses in their
carts. Why, after all, should not the Romans of history be a
branch of these Romans? There were several points of similarity
between them; if Roman matrons were chaste, both men and women were
thieves. Old Rome was the thief of the world; yet still there were
difficulties to be removed before I could persuade myself that the
old Romans and my Romans were identical; and in trying to remove
these difficulties, I felt my brain once more beginning to turn,
and in haste took up another subject of meditation, and that was
the patteran, and what Ursula had told me about it.
I had always entertained a strange interest for that sign by which
in their wanderings the Romanese gave to those of their people who
came behind intimation as to the direction which they took; but it
now inspired me with greater interest than ever,--now that I had
learnt that the proper meaning of it was the leaves of trees. I
had, as I had said in my dialogue with Ursula, been very eager to
learn the word for leaf in the Romanian language, but had never
learnt it till this day; so patteran signified leaf of a tree; and
no one at present knew that but myself and Ursula, who had learnt
it from Mrs. Herne, the last, it was said, of the old stock; and
then I thought what strange people the gypsies must have been in
the old time. They were sufficiently strange at present, but they
must have been far stranger of old; they must have been a more
peculiar people--their language must have been more perfect--and
they must have had a greater stock of strange secrets. I almost
wished that I had lived some two or three hundred years ago, that I
might have observed these people when they were yet stranger than
at present. I wondered whether I could have introduced myself to
their company at that period, whether I should have been so
fortunate as to meet such a strange, half-malicious, half good-
humoured being as Jasper, who would have instructed me in the
language, then more deserving of note than at present. What might
I not have done with that language, had I known it in its purity?
Why, I might have written books in it; yet those who spoke it would
hardly have admitted me to their society at that period, when they
kept more to themselves. Yet I thought that I might possibly have
gained their confidence, and have wandered about with them, and
learnt their language, and all their strange ways, and then--and
then--and a sigh rose from the depth of my breast; for I began to
think, "Supposing I had accomplished all this, what would have been
the profit of it; and in what would all this wild gypsy dream have
Then rose another sigh, yet more profound, for I began to think,
"What was likely to be the profit of my present way of life; the
living in dingles, making pony and donkey shoes, conversing with
gypsy-women under hedges, and extracting from them their odd
secrets?" What was likely to be the profit of such a kind of life,
even should it continue for a length of time?--a supposition not
very probable, for I was earning nothing to support me, and the
funds with which I had entered upon this life were gradually
disappearing. I was living, it is true, not unpleasantly, enjoying
the healthy air of heaven; but, upon the whole, was I not sadly
misspending my time? Surely I was; and, as I looked back, it
appeared to me that I had always been doing so. What had been the
profit of the tongues which I had learnt? had they ever assisted me
in the day of hunger? No, no! it appeared to me that I had always
misspent my time, save in one instance, when by a desperate effort
I had collected all the powers of my imagination, and written the
"Life of Joseph Sell;" but even when I wrote the Life of Sell, was
I not in a false position? Provided I had not misspent my time,
would it have been necessary to make that effort, which, after all,
had only enabled me to leave London, and wander about the country
for a time? But could I, taking all circumstances into
consideration, have done better than I had? With my peculiar
temperament and ideas, could I have pursued with advantage the
profession to which my respectable parents had endeavoured to bring
me up? It appeared to me that I could not, and that the hand of
necessity had guided me from my earliest years, until the present
night, in which I found myself seated in the dingle, staring on the
brands of the fire. But ceasing to think of the past which, as
irrecoverably gone, it was useless to regret, even were there cause
to regret it, what should I do in future? Should I write another
book like the Life of Joseph Sell; take it to London, and offer it
to a publisher? But when I reflected on the grisly sufferings
which I had undergone whilst engaged in writing the Life of Sell, I
shrank from the idea of a similar attempt; moreover, I doubted
whether I possessed the power to write a similar work--whether the
materials for the life of another Sell lurked within the recesses
of my brain? Had I not better become in reality what I had
hitherto been merely playing at--a tinker or a gypsy? But I soon
saw that I was not fitted to become either in reality. It was much
more agreeable to play the gypsy or the tinker than to become
either in reality. I had seen enough of gypsying and tinkering to
be convinced of that. All of a sudden the idea of tilling the soil
came into my head; tilling the soil was a healthful and noble
pursuit! but my idea of tilling the soil had no connection with
Britain; for I could only expect to till the soil in Britain as a
serf. I thought of tilling it in America, in which it was said
there was plenty of wild, unclaimed land, of which any one, who
chose to clear it of its trees, might take possession. I figured
myself in America, in an immense forest, clearing the land
destined, by my exertions, to become a fruitful and smiling plain.
Methought I heard the crash of the huge trees as they fell beneath
my axe; and then I bethought me that a man was intended to marry--I
ought to marry; and if I married, where was I likely to be more
happy as a husband and a father than in America, engaged in tilling
the ground? I fancied myself in America, engaged in tilling the
ground, assisted by an enormous progeny. Well, why not marry, and
go and till the ground in America? I was young, and youth was the
time to marry in, and to labour in. I had the use of all my
faculties; my eyes, it is true, were rather dull from early study,
and from writing the Life of Joseph Sell; but I could see tolerably
well with them, and they were not bleared. I felt my arms, and
thighs, and teeth--they were strong and sound enough; so now was
the time to labour, to marry, eat strong flesh, and beget strong
children--the power of doing all this would pass away with youth,
which was terribly transitory. I bethought me that a time would
come when my eyes would be bleared, and, perhaps, sightless; my
arms and thighs strengthless and sapless; when my teeth would shake
in my jaws, even supposing they did not drop out. No going a
wooing then--no labouring--no eating strong flesh, and begetting
lusty children then; and I bethought me how, when all this should
be, I should bewail the days of my youth as misspent, provided I
had not in them founded for myself a home, and begotten strong
children to take care of me in the days when I could not take care
of myself; and thinking of these things, I became sadder and
sadder, and stared vacantly upon the fire till my eyes closed in a
I continued dozing over the fire, until rousing myself I perceived
that the brands were nearly consumed, and I thought of retiring for
the night. I arose, and was about to enter my tent, when a thought
struck me. "Suppose," thought I, "that Isopel Berners should
return in the midst of the night, how dark and dreary would the
dingle appear without a fire! truly, I will keep up the fire, and I
will do more; I have no board to spread for her, but I will fill
the kettle, and heat it, so that, if she comes, I may be able to
welcome her with a cup of tea, for I know she loves tea."
Thereupon, I piled more wood upon the fire, and soon succeeded in
procuring a better blaze than before; then, taking the kettle, I
set out for the spring. On arriving at the mouth of the dingle,
which fronted the east, I perceived that Charles's wain was nearly
opposite to it, high above in the heavens, by which I knew that the
night was tolerably well advanced. The gypsy encampment lay before
me; all was hushed and still within it, and its inmates appeared to
be locked in slumber; as I advanced, however, the dogs, which were
fastened outside the tents, growled and barked; but presently
recognising me, they were again silent, some of them wagging their
tails. As I drew near a particular tent, I heard a female voice
say--"Some one is coming!" and, as I was about to pass it, the
cloth which formed the door was suddenly lifted up, and a black
head and part of a huge naked body protruded. It was the head and
upper part of the giant Tawno, who, according to the fashion of
gypsy men, lay next the door wrapped in his blanket; the blanket
had, however, fallen off, and the starlight shone clear on his
athletic tawny body, and was reflected from his large staring eyes.
"It is only I, Tawno," said I, "going to fill the kettle, as it is
possible that Miss Berners may arrive this night." "Kos-ko,"
drawled out Tawno, and replaced the curtain. "Good, do you call
it?" said the sharp voice of his wife; "there is no good in the
matter! if that young chap were not living with the rawnee in the
illegal and uncertificated line, he would not be getting up in the
middle of the night to fill her kettles." Passing on, I proceeded
to the spring, where I filled the kettle, and then returned to the
Placing the kettle upon the fire, I watched it till it began to
boil; then removing it from the top of the brands, I placed it
close beside the fire, and leaving it simmering, I retired to my
tent; where, having taken off my shoes, and a few of my garments, I
lay down on my palliasse, and was not long in falling asleep. I
believe I slept soundly for some time, thinking and dreaming of
nothing; suddenly, however, my sleep became disturbed, and the
subject of the patterans began to occupy my brain. I imagined that
I saw Ursula tracing her husband, Launcelot Lovel, by means of his
patterans; I imagined that she had considerable difficulty in doing
so; that she was occasionally interrupted by parish beadles and
constables, who asked her whither she was travelling, to whom she
gave various answers. Presently methought that, as she was passing
by a farm-yard, two fierce and savage dogs flew at her; I was in
great trouble, I remember, and wished to assist her, but could not,
for though I seemed to see her, I was still at a distance: and now
it appeared that she had escaped from the dogs, and was proceeding
with her cart along a gravelly path which traversed a wild moor; I
could hear the wheels grating amidst sand and gravel. The next
moment I was awake, and found myself sitting up in my tent; there
was a glimmer of light through the canvas caused by the fire; a
feeling of dread came over me, which was perhaps natural, on
starting suddenly from one's sleep in that wild lone place; I half
imagined that some one was nigh the tent; the idea made me rather
uncomfortable, and, to dissipate it, I lifted up the canvas of the
door and peeped out, and, lo! I had a distinct view of a tall
figure standing by the tent. "Who is that?" said I, whilst I felt
my blood rush to my heart. "It is I," said the voice of Isopel
Berners; "you little expected me, I dare say; well, sleep on, I do
not wish to disturb you." "But I was expecting you," said I,
recovering myself, "as you may see by the fire and kettle. I will
be with you in a moment."
Putting on in haste the articles of dress which I had flung off, I
came out of the tent, and addressing myself to Isopel, who was
standing beside her cart, I said--"just as I was about to retire to
rest I thought it possible that you might come to-night, and got
everything in readiness for you. Now, sit down by the fire whilst
I lead the donkey and cart to the place where you stay; I will
unharness the animal, and presently come and join you." "I need
not trouble you," said Isopel; "I will go myself and see after my
things." "We will go together," said I, "and then return and have
some tea." Isopel made no objection, and in about half-an-hour we
had arranged everything at her quarters, I then hastened and
prepared tea. Presently Isopel rejoined me, bringing her stool;
she had divested herself of her bonnet, and her hair fell over her
shoulders; she sat down, and I poured out the beverage, handing her
a cup. "Have you made a long journey to-night?" said I. "A very
long one," replied Belle. "I have come nearly twenty miles since
six o'clock." "I believe I heard you coming in my sleep," said I;
"did the dogs above bark at you?" "Yes," said Isopel, "very
violently; did you think of me in your sleep?" "No," said I, "I
was thinking of Ursula and something she had told me." "When and
where was that?" said Isopel. "Yesterday evening," said I,
"beneath the dingle hedge." "Then you were talking with her
beneath the hedge?" "I was," said I, "but only upon gypsy matters.
Do you know, Belle, that she has just been married to Sylvester, so
that you need not think that she and I--" "She and you are quite
at liberty to sit where you please," said Isopel. "However, young
man," she continued, dropping her tone, which she had slightly
raised, "I believe what you said, that you were merely talking
about gypsy matters, and also what you were going to say, if it
was, as I suppose, that she and you had no particular
acquaintance." Isopel was now silent for some time. "What are you
thinking of?" said I. "I was thinking," said Belle, "how
exceedingly kind it was of you to get everything in readiness for
me, though you did not know that I should come." "I had a
presentiment that you would come," said I; "but you forget that I
have prepared the kettle for you before, though it was true that I
was then certain that you would come." "I had not forgotten your
doing so, young man," said Belle; "but I was beginning to think
that you were utterly selfish, caring for nothing but the
gratification of your own selfish whims." "I am very fond of
having my own way," said I, "but utterly selfish I am not, as I
dare say I shall frequently prove to you. You will often find the
kettle boiling when you come home." "Not heated by you," said
Isopel, with a sigh. "By whom else?" said I; "surely you are not
thinking of driving me away?" "You have as much right here as
myself," said Isopel, "as I have told you before; but I must be
going myself." "Well," said I, "we can go together; to tell you
the truth, I am rather tired of this place." "Our paths must be
separate," said Belle. "Separate," said I, "what do you mean? I
shan't let you go alone, I shall go with you; and you know the road
is as free to me as to you; besides, you can't think of parting
company with me, considering how much you would lose by doing so;
remember that you know scarcely anything of the Armenian language;