“I really think,” said the Doctor, “that, at any rate, one of us should go and try whether or not the thing is an imposture.”
“Good!” said Considine. “After dinner we will take our cigars and stroll over to the camp.”
Accordingly, when the dinner was over, and the La Tour finished, Joshua Considine and his friend, Dr. Burleigh, went over to the east side of the moor, where the gipsy encampment lay. As they were leaving, Mary Considine, who had walked as far as the end of the garden where it opened into the laneway, called after her husband:
“Mind, Joshua, you are to give them a fair chance, but don’t give them any clue to a fortune-and don’t you get flirting with any of the gipsy maidens-and take care to keep Gerald out of harm.”
For answer Considine held up his hand, as if taking a stage oath, and whistled the air of the old song, “The Gipsy Countess.” Gerald joined in the strain, and then, breaking into merry laughter, the two men passed along the laneway to the common, turning now and then to wave their hands to Mary, who leaned over the gate, in the twilight, looking after them.
It was a lovely evening in the summer; the very air was full of rest and quiet happiness, as though an outward type of the peacefulness and joy which made a heaven of the home of the young married folk. Considine’s life had not been an eventful one. The only disturbing element which he had ever known was in his wooing of Mary Winston, and the long-continued objection of her ambitious parents, who expected a brilliant match for their only daughter. When Mr. and Mrs. Winston had discovered the attachment of the young barrister, they had tried to keep the young people apart by sending their daughter away for a long round of visits, having made her promise not to correspond with her lover during her absence. Love, however, had stood the test. Neither absence nor neglect seemed to cool the passion of the young man, and jealousy seemed a thing unknown to his sanguine nature; so, after a long period of waiting, the parents had given in, and the young folk were married.
They had been living in the cottage a few months, and were just beginning to feel at home. Gerald Burleigh, Joshua’s old college chum, and himself a sometime victim of Mary’s beauty, had arrived a week before, to stay with them for as long a time as he could tear himself away from his work in London.
When her husband had quite disappeared Mary went into the house, and, sitting down at the piano, gave an hour to Mendelssohn.
It was but a short walk across the common, and before the cigars required renewing the two men had reached the gipsy camp. The place was as picturesque as gipsy camps-when in villages and when business is good-usually are. There were some few persons round the fire, investing their money in prophecy, and a large number of others, poorer or more parsimonious, who stayed just outside the bounds but near enough to see all that went on.
As the two gentlemen approached, the villagers, who knew Joshua, made way a little, and a pretty, keen-eyed gipsy girl tripped up and asked to tell their fortunes. Joshua held out his hand, but the girl, without seeming to see it, stared at his face in a very odd manner. Gerald nudged him:
“You must cross her hand with silver,” he said. “It is one of the most important parts of the mystery.” Joshua took from his pocket a half-crown and held it out to her, but, without looking at it, she answered:
“You must cross the gipsy’s hand with gold.”
Gerald laughed. “You are at a premium as a subject,” he said. Joshua was of the kind of man-the universal kind-who can tolerate being stared at by a pretty girl; so, with some little deliberation, he answered:
“All right; here you are, my pretty girl; but you must give me a real good fortune for it,” and he handed her a half sovereign, which she took, saying:
“It is not for me to give good fortune or bad, but only to read what the Stars have said.” She took his right hand and turned it palm upward; but the instant her eyes met it she dropped it as though it had been red hot, and, with a startled look, glided swiftly away. Lifting the curtain of the large tent, which occupied the centre of the camp, she disappeared within.
To read the rest of this story visit:
A Gipsy Prophecy at bramstoker.org