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[-71-]

CHAPTER CLXIII.

THE ZINGAREES.

    THE old farmer had offered to convey Richard to Hounslow in his own spring-cart, or to provide him with a guide to conduct him thither; but our hero felt so confident of being enabled to find his way back to the town, that he declined both offers.
    He walked on, across the fields, pondering upon various subjects,  Isabella, his brother, Katherine, Reginald Tracy's crimes, and the frightful suicide of Lady Cecilia Harborough and with his mind so [-72-] intent upon these topics, that some time elapsed ere he perceived that he had fallen into a wrong path.
    He looked around; but not an object of which he had taken notice in the morning, when proceeding to the farm could he now discover.
    Thus he had lost the only means which could assist his memory in regaining the road.
    As he stood upon a little eminence, gazing around to find some clue towards the proper direction which he should follow, a light blue wreath of smoke, rising from behind a hill at a short distance, met his eyes.
    "There must be a dwelling yonder," he said to himself; "I will proceed thither, and ask my way; or, if possible, obtain a guide."
    Towards the light blue cloud which curled upwards, Markham directed his steps; but when he reached the brow of the hill, from the opposite side of which the smoke at first met his eye, he perceived, instead of a cottage as he expected, an encampment of gipsies.
    A covered van stood near the spot where two men, two women, and a boy were partaking of a meal, the steam of which impregnated the air with a powerful odour of onions.
    The caldron, whence the mess was served up in earthenware vessels, was suspended by means of stakes over a cheerful wood-fire.
    We need attempt no description of the persons of those who were partaking of the repast: it will be sufficient to inform the reader that they consisted of King Zingary, Queen Aischa, Morcar, Eva, and this latter couple's son.
    They were, however, totally unknown to Richard: but the moment he saw they were of the gipsy tribe, he determined to glean from them any thing which they might know and might choose to reveal concerning the Resurrection Man.
    He therefore accosted them in a civil manner, and, stating that he had lost his way, inquired which was the nearest path to Hounslow.
    "It would be difficult to direct you, young gentleman, by mere explanation," answered Zingary, stroking his long white beard in order to impress Richard with a sense of veneration; but my grandson here shall show you the way with pleasure."
    "That I will, sir," exclaimed the boy, starting from the ground, and preparing to set off.
    "But perhaps the gentleman will rest himself, and partake of some refreshment," observed Morcar.
    "If you will permit me," said Markham, whose purpose this invitation just suited, "I will warm myself for a short space by your cheerful fire; for the evening is chilly. But you must not consider me rude if I decline your kind hospitality in respect to food."
    "The gentleman is cold, Morcar," said Zingary: "produce the rum, and hand a snicker."
    The King's son hastened to the van to fetch the bottle of spirits; and Markham could not help observing his fine, tall, well-knit frame, to which his dark Roman countenance gave an additional air of manliness  even of heroism.
    Richard partook of the spirits, in order to ingratiate himself with the gipsies; and King Zingary then called for his "broseley."
    You appear to lead a happy life," observed Richard, by way of encouraging a conversation.
    "We are our own masters, young gentleman," answered Zingary; "and where there is freedom, there is happiness."
    "Is it true that your race is governed by a King?" asked Markham.
    "I am the King of the united races of Bohemians and Egyptians," said Zingary, in a stately manner. "This is my beloved Queen, Aischa: that is my son, Morcar; here is my daughter-in-law, Eva; and that lad is my grandson."
    Richard started when these names tell upon his ears; for they had been mentioned to him by Skilligalee in the Palace of the Holy Land. He also remembered to have been informed that it was in consequence of something which the Resurrection Man told Aischa, when she was attending to his wound, that the gipsies took him with them when they removed from the Palace to the encampment near the Penitentiary at Pentonville.
    "I feel highly honoured by the hospitality which your Majesty has afforded me," said Richard, with a bow  an act of courtesy which greatly pleased King Zingary. "On one occasion I was indebted to some of your subjects for a night's lodging at your establishment in St. Giles's."
    "Indeed!" exclaimed the King; and now all the gipsies surveyed Richard with some interest.
    "Yes," continued our hero; "and I may as well state to you frankly and candidly under what circumstances I became your guest  for you were all inmates of the house at the time I entered it."
    "Speak, young gentleman," said Zingary: "we will listen with attention to all you may please to tell us; but we do not seek your confidence of our own accord, as curiosity is forbidden to our race."
    "I must inform you," resumed Richard, "that I have sustained great and signal injuries at the hands of a miscreant, whom I one night traced to your dwelling in St. Giles's."
    "Call it the Palace, young gentleman," said Zingary, smoking his pipe, and listening with great complacency.
    "On that night, the man to whom I allude was desperately wounded  "
    "Ah!" ejaculated the gipsies, as it were in a breath.
    "And you removed him with you, away from the Palace during the night  or rather very early in the morning."
    "Then you, young gentleman," said the King, "were the stranger whom the porter locked in the room to which you were shown, and who escaped from the Palace by some means or other! The matter was duly reported to us by letter."
    "It is perfectly true that I liberated myself from the room in which I was imprisoned," said Markham. "But, answer me-I implore you  one question; did that vile man die of the wound which he received?"
    "Before I reply to you," observed Zingary, "you will have the goodness to inform me why you left the Palace by stealth on that occasion, and whether you saw or heard any thing remarkable after we had taken our departure?"
    "I will answer you frankly," returned Markham. "I left my room on that occasion, because I wished to discover whether Anthony Tidkins, to whom I have alluded, was in the house  "
    "The Palace," said Zingary.
    "I beg your Majesty's pardon  the Palace," continued Richard; "and I thank God that I was more [-73-]  

less instrumental in releasing from a horrible dungeon a poor woman  "
    "We know whom you mean," interrupted Zingary, sternly. "Did you see a tall young man  "
    "Who called himself by the strange name of Skilligalee?" added Markham, concluding the King's question for him. "I did;  I helped him to release the woman he named Margaret."
    "And whom the laws of the Ingres had condemned to the penalty from which you freed her," said the King. "Was it right, young man, thus to step between the culprit and the decree of justice?"
    "I acted in accordance with the dictates of humanity," replied Richard, firmly; "and under such circumstances I should act in a similar way again."
    "The young gentleman speaks well," said Morcar, who admired the resolution evinced in our hero's tone and manner.
    "And he showed a good heart," observed Eva, now speaking for the first time since Richard's arrival, and displaying her brilliant teeth.
    "Well  well," exclaimed Zingary: "I will not upbraid the young man more, since even my pretty Eva takes his part. You see," he continued, addressing himself especially to the gipsies, "it is as we thought. Skilligalee deserted us in order to liberate Margaret Flathers. I always believed that such was the case, from the moment we received the account of her escape. But I have one more question to ask our guest. Let him satisfy us how he traced Anthony Tidkins to the Palace. and how he learnt that Anthony Tidkins was wounded in the Palace."
    "On that head I must remain silent," said Richard. "I will not invent a falsehood, and I cannot reveal the truth. Be you, however, well assured that I never betrayed the secrets and mysteries of your establishment in Saint Giles's."
    "Our guest is an honourable man," observed Morcar. "We ought to be satisfied with what he says."
    "I am satisfied," exclaimed the King. "Aischa, answer you the questions which it is now the young man's turn to put to us."
    "I wish to know whether Anthony Tidkins died of the wound which he received?"' said Richard.
    "It was my lot to attend to his wound," began Aischa. "When he was so far recovered as to be [-74-] able to speak  which was about half an hour after the blood was stanched  he implored me to have him removed from the Palace. He told me a long and pathetic story of persecutions and sufferings which he had undergone; and he offered to enrich our treasury if we would take him beyond the reach of the person who had wounded him. His anxiety to get away was extreme; and it was in consequence of his representations and promises that I prevailed upon the King to issue orders to those who were to leave London with us, to hurry the departure as much as possible. That accounts for the abrupt manner in which we left at such an hour, and for the removal of the wounded man with us. In answer to your direct question, I must inform you that he did not die of the wound which he received."
    "He did not die!" repeated Markham. "Then he is still alive  and doubtless as active as ever in purposes of evil."
    "Is he such a bad man?" asked Aischa.
    "He belongs to the atrocious gang called Burkers" answered Richard, emphatically.
    "Merciful heavens!" cried Eva, with a shudder. "To think that we should have harboured such a wretch!"
    "And to think that I should have devoted my skill to resuscitate such a demon!" exclaimed Aischa.
    "The vengeance of the Zingaree will yet overtake him," said the King, calmly.
    "Wherever I meet him, there will I punish him with the stoutest cudgel that I can find ready to hand," cried Morcar, with a fierce air.
    "Have you then cause to complain against him?" asked Richard.
    "The wretch, sir," answered Morcar, "remained nearly a month in our company, until his wound was completely healed by the skill of my mother. We treated him with as much kindness as if he had been our near and dear relative. One morning, when he was totally recovered, he disappeared, carrying away my father's gold with him."
    "The ungrateful villain!" ejaculated Richard. "And he was indebted to your kindness for his life?"
    "He was," returned Morcar. "Fortunately, there was but little in the treasury at the time  very little;  nevertheless, it was all we had  and he took our all."
    "And you have no trace of him?" said Richard, eagerly.
    "Not yet," replied Morcar. "But we have adopted measures to discover him. The King my father has sent a description of his person and the history of his treachery to every chief of our race in the kingdom; and thousands of sharp eyes are on the look-out for him through the length and breadth of the land."
    "Heaven be thanked!" exclaimed Markham. "But when you discover him, hand him over to the grasp of justice, and instantly acquaint me with the fact."
    "The Zingarees recognise no justice save their own," said the King, in a dignified manner. "But this much I promise you, that the moment we obtain a trace of his whereabouts, we will communicate it to you, and you may act as seemeth good to yourself. We have no sympathy in common with a cowardly murderer."
    "None," added Morcar, emphatically.
    "I thank you for this promise," said Richard, addressing himself to the King. "Here is my card and remember that as anxious as I am to bring a miscreant to justice, so ready shall I be to reward those who are instrumental in his capture."
    "You may rely upon us, young gentleman," said Zingary. "We will not shield a man who belongs to the miscreant gang of Burkers. To-morrow morning I will issue fresh instructions to the various district chiefs, but especially to our friends in London."
    "And is it possible that, with no compulsory means to enforce obedience, you can dispose of thousands of individuals at will?" exclaimed Markham.
    "Listen, young man," said the King, stroking his beard. "When the great Ottoman monarch, the Sultan Selim, invaded Egypt at the beginning of the sixteenth century, and put to death the Marmeluke [-sic-] sovereign Toumanbai,  when the chivalry of Egypt was subdued by the overwhelming multitudes of warriors who fought beneath the banner of Selim and his great Vizier Sinan-Pacha,  then did a certain Egyptian chief place himself at the head of a chosen body of Mamelukes, and proclaim death and destruction to the Ottomans. This chief was Zingarai. For some time he successfully resisted the troops of Selim; but at length he was compelled to yield to numbers; and Selim put him to death. His followers were proscribed; and those who did not fall into the hands of the Turkish conquerors escaped into Europe. They settled first, in Bohemia, where their wandering mode of life, their simple manners, their happy and contented dispositions, and their handsome persons soon attracted notice. Then it was that the Bohemian maidens were proud to bestow their hands upon the fugitive followers of Zingarai; and many Bohemian men sought admittance into the fraternity. Hence the mixed Egyptian and Bohemian origin of the gipsy race. In a short time various members of this truly patriarchal society migrated to other climes; and 1534 our ancestors first settled in England. Now the gipsy race may be met with all over the globe: in every part of Asia, in the interior of Africa, and in both the Americas, you may encounter our brethren, as in Europe. The Asiatics call us Egyptians, the Germans Zinguener, the Italians Cingani, the Spaniards Gitanos, the French Bohemians the Russians Saracens, the Swedes and Danes Tartars, and the English Gipsies. We most usually denominate ourselves the united race, of Zingarees. And Time, young gentleman, has left us comparatively unchanged; we preserve the primitive simplicity of our manners; our countenances denote our origin; and, though deeply calumniated  vilely maligned, we endeavour to live in peace and tranquillity to the utmost of our power. We have resisted persecution  we have outlived oppression. All Europe has promulgated laws against us; and no sovereigns aimed more strenuously to extirpate our race in their dominions than Henry the Eighth and Elisabeth of England. But as the world grows more enlightened, the prejudice against us loses its virulence; and we now enjoy our liberties and privileges without molestation, in all civilised states."
    "I thank you for this most interesting account of your origin," said Richard.
    "Henceforth you will know how to recognise the real truth amongst all the wild, fanciful, and ridiculous tales which you may hear or read concerning our race," proceeded Zingary. "From the [-75-] two or three hundred souls who fled from Egypt and took refuge in Bohemia, as I have ere now explained to you, has sprung a large family, which has increased with each generation; and at the present moment we estimate our total number, scattered over all parts of the earth, at one million and a half."
    "I was not aware that you were so numerous," said Richard, much interested by these details. "Permit me to ask whether the members in every country have one sovereign or chief, as those in England?"
    "There is a King of the Zingarees in Spain; another in France; a third in Italy; and a fourth in Bohemia. In the northern provinces of European Turkey, in Hungary, and in Transylvania, there is a prince with the title of a Waiewode: the Zingarees of Northern Europe are governed by a Grand, or Great Lord."
    Richard now rose to take leave of the hospitable and entertaining family in whose society he had thus passed an hour; and, as it was growing dark, Morcar himself offered to conduct our hero as far as Hounslow.
    The proposal was gladly accepted; and Markham, having taken leave of the King, Aischa, and Eva, set out with Morcar.
    In the course of three-quarters of an hour they reached the precincts of the town.
    Richard forced a handsome remuneration upon the gipsy, and reminded him of the promise made by his father concerning the Resurrection Man.
    "You may rely upon us," said Morcar: "it cannot be very long before you will hear from us, for there are many on the alert to discover the haunt of the villain."
    The gipsy then turned to retrace his steps towards the encampment; and Richard proceeded to the inn, where he obtained a conveyance for London.

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