Chapter 71

Friend of Slingsby - All quiet - Danger - The two cakes - Children in the wood - Don’t be angry - In deep thought - Temples throbbing - Deadly sick - Another blow - No answer - How old are you? - Play and sacrament - Heavy heart - Song of poison - Drow of gypsies - The dog - Ely’s church - Get up, bebee - The vehicle - Can you speak? - The oil.

THE next day, at an early hour, I harnessed my little pony, and, putting my things in my cart, I went on my projected stroll. Crossing the moor, I arrived in about an hour at a small village, from which, after a short stay, I proceeded to another, and from thence to a third. I found that the name of Slingsby was well known in these parts.

‘If you are a friend of Slingsby you must be an honest lad,’ said an ancient crone; ‘you shall never want for work whilst I can give it you. Here, take my kettle, the bottom came out this morning, and lend me that of yours till you bring it back. I’m not afraid to trust you - not I. Don’t hurry yourself, young man, if you don’t come back for a fortnight I shan’t have the worse opinion of you.’

I returned to my quarters at evening, tired, but rejoiced at heart; I had work before me for several days, having collected various kekaubies which required mending, in place of those which I left behind - those which I had been employed upon during the last few days. I found all quiet in the lane or glade, and, unharnessing my little horse, I once more pitched my tent in the old spot beneath the ash, lighted my fire, ate my frugal meal, and then, after looking for some time at the heavenly bodies, and more particularly at the star Jupiter, I entered my tent, lay down upon my pallet, and went to sleep.

Nothing occurred on the following day which requires any particular notice, nor indeed on the one succeeding that. It was about noon on the third day that I sat beneath the shade of the ash tree; I was not at work, for the weather was particularly hot, and I felt but little inclination to make any exertion. Leaning my back against the tree, I was not long in falling into a slumber; I particularly remember that slumber of mine beneath the ash tree, for it was about the sweetest slumber that I ever enjoyed; how long I continued in it I do not know; I could almost have wished that it had lasted to the present time. All of a sudden it appeared to me that a voice cried in my ear, ‘Danger! danger! danger!’ Nothing seemingly could be more distinct than the words which I heard; then an uneasy sensation came over me, which I strove to get rid of, and at last succeeded, for I awoke. The gypsy girl was standing just opposite to me, with her eyes fixed upon my countenance; a singular kind of little dog stood beside her.

‘Ha!’ said I, ‘was it you that cried danger? What danger is there?’

‘Danger, brother, there is no danger; what danger should there be? I called to my little dog, but that was in the wood; my little dog’s name is not danger, but Stranger; what danger should there be, brother?’

‘What, indeed, except in sleeping beneath a tree; what is that you have got in your hand?’

‘Something for you,’ said the girl, sitting down and proceeding to untie a white napkin; ‘a pretty manricli, so sweet, so nice; when I went home to my people I told my grand-bebee how kind you had been to the poor person’s child, and when my grand-bebee saw the kekaubi, she said, "Hir mi devlis, it won’t do for the poor people to be ungrateful; by my God, I will bake a cake for the young harko mescro."’

‘But there are two cakes.’

‘Yes, brother, two cakes, both for you; my grandbebee meant them both for you - but list, brother, I will have one of them for bringing them. I know you will give me one, pretty brother, gray- haired brother - which shall I have, brother?’

In the napkin were two round cakes, seemingly made of rich and costly compounds, and precisely similar in form, each weighing about half a pound.

‘Which shall I have, brother?’ said the gypsy girl.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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