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might fare the worse for it, he let the thought drop ; but at the same time gave me a particular account of the mischiefs they do in the country, in stealing people's goods
and spoiling their servants. “If a stray piece of linen 5 hangs upon an hedge,” says Sir Roger, " they are sure to have it; if the hog loses his way in the fields, it is ten to one but he becomes their prey; our geese cannot live in peace for them ; if a man prosecutes them with severity,
his henroost is sure to pay for it. They generally straggle 10 into these parts about this time of the year, and set the s
heads of our servant-maids so agog for husbands that we do not expect to have any business done as it should be whilst they are in the country. I have an honest dairy
maid who crosses their hands with a piece of silver every 15 summer, and never fails being promised the handsomest
young fellow in the parish for her pains. Your friend, the butler, has been fool enough to be seduced by them ; and, though he is sure to lose a knife, a fork, or a spoon,
every time his fortune is told him, generally shuts himself 20 up in the pantry with an old gypsy for above half an hour
once in a twelvemonth. Sweethearts are the things they live upon, which they bestow very plentifully upon all those that apply themselves to them. You see, now and then,
some handsome young jades among them; the (wenches] 25 have very
often white teeth and black eyes." Sir Roger, observing that I listened with great attention to his account of a people who were so entirely new to me, told me that if I would they should tell us our fortunes.
As I was very well pleased with the knight's proposal, 30 we rid up and
communicated our hands to them. A Cassandra of the crew, after having examined my lines very diligently, told me that I loved a pretty maid in a corner ; that I was a good woman's man ; with some other particulars which I do not think proper to relate.
My friend Sir Roger alighted from his horse, and exposing
told him that he was a bachelor, but would not be so long; and that he was dearer to somebody than he thought. The knight still repeated she was an idle baggage, and bid her go on. 15 “Ah, master," says the gypsy, “ that roguish leer of yours makes a pretty woman's heart ache ; you ha'n't that simper about the mouth for nothing —” The uncouth gibberish with which all this was uttered, like the darkness of an oracle, made us the more attentive to it. TO 20 be short, the knight left the money with her that he had crossed her hand with, and got up again on his horse.
As we were riding away, Sir Roger told me that he knew several sensible people who believed these gypsies now and then foretold very strange things ; and for half 25 an hour together appeared more jocund than ordinary. In the height of his good humor, meeting a common beggar upon the road who was no conjurer, as he went to relieve him, he found his pocket was picked ; that being a kind of palmistry at which this race of vermin are very 30 dextrous.
I might here entertain my reader with historical remarks on this idle, profligate people, who infest all the countries of Europe, and live in the midst of governments
in a kind of commonwealth by themselves. But instead of entering into observations of this nature, I shall fill the remaining part of my paper with a story which is still
fresh in Holland, and was printed in one of our monthly 5 accounts about twenty years ago :
“ As the trekschuyt, or hackney boat, which carries pas. sengers from Leyden to Amsterdam, was putting off, a boy running along the side of the canal desired to be taken in ;
which the master of the boat refused, because the lad had not 10 quite money enough to pay the usual fare. An eminent mer
chant, being pleased with the looks of the boy and secretly touched with compassion towards him, paid the money for him, and ordered him to be taken on board.
“ Upon talking with him afterwards, he found that he could 15 speak readily in three or four languages, and learned upon
farther examination that he had been stolen away when he was a child, by a gypsy, and had rambled ever since with a gang of those strollers up and down several parts of Europe. It hap
pened that the merchant, whose heart seems to have inclined 20 towards the boy by a secret kind of instinct, had himself lost a
child some years before. The parents, after a long search for him, gave him for drowned in one of the canals with which that country abounds ; and the mother was so afflicted at the loss of
a fine boy, who was her only son, that she died for grief of it. 25 “Upon laying together all particulars, and examining the
several moles and marks by which the mother used to describe the child when he was first missing, the boy proved to be the son of the merchant whose heart had so unaccountably melted
at the sight of him. The lad was very well pleased to find a 30 father who was so rich, and likely to leave him a good estate :
the father, on the other hand, was not a little delighted to see a son return to him, whom he had given for lost, with such a strength of constitution, sharpness of understanding, and skill
in languages." 35 Here the printed story leaves off ; but if I may give
credit to reports, our linguist having received such extraordinary rudiments towards a good education, was afterwards trained up in everything that becomes a gentleman ; wearing off by little and little all the vicious habits and practices that he had been used to in the course of his peregrinations. Nay, it is said that he has since been employed in foreign courts upon national business, with great reputation to himself and honor to those who sent him, and that he has visited several countries as a public minister, in which he formerly wandered as a gypsy.
It is usual for a man who loves country sports to pre- 10 serve the game in his own grounds, and divert himself upon those that belong to his neighbor. My friend Sir Roger generally goes two or three miles from his house, and gets into the frontiers of his estate, before he beats about in search of a hare or partridge, on purpose to spare 15 his own fields, where he is always sure of finding diversion when the worst comes to the worst. By this means the breed about his house has time to increase and multiply ; besides that the sport is the more agreeable where the game is the harder to come at, and where it does not lie 20 so thick as to produce any perplexity or confusion in the pursuit. For these reasons the country gentleman, like the fox, seldom preys near his own home.
In the same manner I have made a month's excursion out of the town, which is the great field of game for sports- 25 men of my species, to try my fortune in the country, where I have started several subjects and hunted them down,
with some pleasure to myself, and I hope to others. I am here forced to use a great deal of diligence before I can spring anything to my mind; whereas in town, whilst I
am following one character, it is ten to one but I am 5 crossed in my way by another, and put up such a variety
of odd creatures in both sexes that they foil the scent of one another, and puzzle the chase. My greatest difficulty in the country is to find sport, and, in town, to choose it.
In the meantime, as I have given a whole month's rest to 10 the cities of London and Westminster, I promise myself abundance of new game upon my return thither.
It is indeed high time for me to leave the country, since I find the whole neighborhood begin to grow very
inquisitive after my name and character; my love of soli15 tude, taciturnity, and particular way of life, having raised a great curiosity in all these parts.
The notions which have been framed of me are varis ous: some look upon me as very proud, some as very
modest, and some as very melancholy. Will Wimble, as 20 my friend the butler tells me, observing me very much
alone, and extremely silent when I am in company, is afraid I have killed a man. The country people seem to suspect me for a conjurer ; and, some of them hearing of
the visit which I made to Moll White, will needs have it 25 that Sir Roger has brought down a cunning man with
him, to cure the old woman, and free the country from her charms. So that the character which I go under in part of the neighborhood, is what they here call a “White Witch.'
A justice of the peace, who lives about five miles off, 30 and is not of Sir Roger's party, has, it seems, said twice
or thrice at his table that he wishes Sir Roger does not harbor a Jesuit in his house, and that he thinks the gentlemen of the country would do very well to make me give some account of myself.