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like second-class French or Italian theatrical ar- overhead, church-spires tipped with great intistes, and I should not be astonished to learn verted golden turnips in the distance, and this that very late hours and champagne were famil- on a night when the frost seemed almost to iar to them as cigarettes, or that their flirtations scream in its intensity, is as much of a sensation among their own people were neither faint nor in the suburbs of Moscow as it could be out on few nor far between. But their conduct in my the steppes. A few wolves, more or less, make presence was irreproachable. Those of Moscow, no difference—and even wolves come sometimes in fact, had not even the apparent defects of within three hours' walk of the Kremlin. Et ego their St. Petersburg sisters and brothers, and inter lupos-I too have been among wolves in when among them it always seemed to me as if my time, by night, and thought nothing of such I were simply with nice gentle creoles or Cu- rides compared to the one I had when I went bans, the gypsy manner being tamed down to the gypsying from Moscow. Spanish level, their great black eyes and their In half an hour Vassili brought me to a house guitars increasing the resemblance.
which I entered. A“proud porter," a vast creaThe indescribably wild and thrilling character ture in uniform suggestive of embassies and of gypsy music is thoroughly appreciated by the kings' palaces, relieved me of my shuba, and I Russians, who pay very high prices for Rommany found my way into a very large and high hall, performances. From five to eight or ten pounds brilliantly lighted as if for a thousand guests, sterling is usually given to a dozen gypsies for while the only occupants were four couples singing an hour or two to a special party, and “spooning " sans gêne, one in each corner, and this is sometimes repeated twice or thrice of an a small party of men and girls drinking in the evening. “A Russian gentleman, when he is in middle. I called a waiter; he spoke nothing but funds,” said the clerk of the Slavansky Bazaar in Russian, and Russian is of all languages the most Moscow to me, “will make nothing of giving the useless to him who only speaks it "a little.” A Zigani a hundred-ruble note,” the ruble rating at little Arabic, or even a little Chippewa, I have half a crown. The result is, that good singers found of great service, but a fair vocabulary and among these lucky Rommanies are well to do, weeks of study of the grammar are of no avail and lead soft lives, for Russia.
in a country where even men of gentlemanly appearance turn away with childish impatience the
instant they detect the foreigner, resolving apMOSCOW
parently that they can not and will not underI HAD no friends in Moscow to direct me stand him. In matters like this the ordinary where to find gypsies en famille, and the in- Russian is more impatient and less intelligent quiries which I made of chance acquaintances than any Oriental or even Red Indian. simply convinced me that the world at large sult of my interview with the waiter was that we was as ignorant of their ways as it was preju- were soon involved in the completest misunderdiced against them. At last the good-natured standing on the subject of gypsies. The quesold porter of our hotel told me in his rough Bal- tion was settled by reference to a fat and fair tic German how to meet these mysterious min- damsel, one of the “spoons” already referred to, strels to advantage. “You must take a sleigh,” who spoke German. She explained to me that he said, “and go out to Petrovka. That is a as it was Christmas eve no gypsies would be place in the country where there are grand cafés there or at any other café. This was disapat considerable distances one from the other. Pay pointing. I called Vassili, and he drove on to the driver three rubles for four hours. Enter a another "garden,” deeply buried in snow. café, call for something to drink, listen to the
en entered the rooms at this place, I gypsies singing, and, when they pass round a perceived at a glance that matters had mended. plate, put some money in it. That's all.” This There were the hum of many voices, the perfume was explicit, and at ten o'clock in the evening I of much tea and many papiross or cigarettes, hired a sleigh and went.
with a prompt sense of society and of enjoyment. If the cold which I had experienced in the I was dazzled at first by the glare of the lights, General's troika in St. Petersburg might be com- and could distinguish nothing unless it was that pared to a moderate rheumatism, that which I the numerous company regarded me with utter encountered in the sleigh outside the walls of amazement; for it was an “off night " when Moscow on Christmas eve, 1876, was like a no business was expected—few were there save fierce gout. The ride was in all conscience “professionals” and friends and I was Russian enough to have its ending among gyp- manifestly an unexpected intruder on Bohemia. sies, Tartars, or Cossacks. To go at a head- As luck would have it, that which I believed was long pace over the creaking snow behind an the one worst night in the year to find the gypsy istvostshik, named Vassili, the round cold moon' minstrels proved to be the exceptional occasion
when they only were assembled, and I had hit these, and then three or four circles of gypsies of upon it. All of this struck me pleasantly enough different ages and tints standing up surrounded as I looked around, for I knew that at a touch us all. In the outer ring were several fast-lookthe spell would be broken, and with one word I ing and pretty Russian or German blonde girls, should have the warmest welcome from all. I whose mission it is, I believe, to dance-and flirt had literally not one speaking acquaintance with- --with visitors, and a few gentlemanly-looking in a thousand miles, and yet here was a room Russians-vieux garçons-evidently of the kind crowded with gay and festive strangers, whom who are at home behind the scenes, and who the slightest utterance would convert into friends. knew where to come to enjoy themselves. Al
I was not disappointed. Seeking for a be- together there must have been about fifty presginning, I saw a young man of gentlemanly ap- ent, and I soon observed that every word I utpearance, well dressed, and with a mild and tered was promptly repeated, while every eye amiable air. Speaking to him in German, I was fixed on me. asked the very needless question if there were I could converse in Rommany with the guiany gypsies present.
tarist, and without much difficulty, but with the “You wish to hear them sing ?” he inquired. charming, heedless young ladies I had as much
"I do not. I only want to talk with one- trouble to talk as with their sisters in St. Peterswith any one."
burg. The young gentleman already referred to, He appeared to be astonished, but pointing to whom in my fancy I promptly gave the Offento a handsome, slender young lady, a very dark bachian name of Prince Paul, translated whenbrunette, elegantly attired in black silk, said: ever there was a misunderstanding, and in a few “ There is one.”
minutes we were all intimate. Miss Sarsha, who I stepped across to the girl, who rose to meet had a slight cast in one of her wild black eyes, me. I said nothing for a few seconds, but looked which added something to the gypsiness and at her intently, and then asked:
roguery of her smiles, and who wore in a ring a “ Rakessa tu Romanes, miri pen?” (“Do large diamond, which seemed as if it might be you talk Rommany, my sister ?")
the right eye in the wrong place, was what is She gave one deep, long glance of utter as- called an earnest young lady, with plenty to say tonishment, drew one long breath, and, with a and great energy wherewith to say it. What cry of delight and wonder, said:
with her eyes, her diamond, her smiles, and her “ Romanichal !"
tongue, she constituted altogether a fine speciThat word awoke the entire company, and men of irrepressible fireworks, and Prince Paul with it they found out who the intruder was. had enough to do in facilitating conversation. “Then might you hear them cry aloud, “The There was no end to his politeness, but it was an Moringer is here!'” for I began to feel like the impossible task for him now and then promptly long-lost lord returned, so warm was my wel- to carry over a long sentence from German to come. They flocked around me; they cried aloud Russian, and he would give it up like an invinciin Rommany, and one good-natured, smiling man, ble conundrum, with the patient smile and headwho looked like a German gypsy, mounting a wag and hand-wave of an amiable Dundreary. chair, waved a guitar by its neck high in the air Yet I began to surmise a mystery even in him. as a signal of discovery to those at a distance, re- More than once he inadvertently betrayed a peating rapidly:
knowledge of Rommany, though he invariably “Av'akai, ava’kai, Romanichal!” (“Come spoke of his friends around in a patronizing manhere—here's a gypsy!")
ner as “these gypsies." This was very odd, And they came, dark and light, and for in appearance he was a Gorgio of the Gorgios, small, and got round me and shook hands, and and did not seem, despite any talent for lanheld to my arms, and asked where I came from, guages which he might possess, likely to trouble and how I did, and if it wasn't jolly, and what himself to acquire Rommany while Russian would I take to drink, and said how glad they would answer every purpose of conversation. were to see me; and when conversation flagged All of this was, however, explained to me afterfor an instant, somebody said to his next neigh- ward. bor, with an air of wisdom, “ American Rom- Prince Paul again asked me if I had come out many," and everybody repeated it with delight. to hear a concert. I said, “No-that I had simThen it occurred to the guitarist and the young ply come out to see my brothers and sisters and lady that we had better sit down. So my first talk with them, just as I hoped they would come acquaintance and discoverer, whose name was to see me if I were in my own country.” This Liubasha, was placed, in right of preemption, at speech produced a most favorable impression, my right hand, the belle des belles, Miss Sarsha, and there was, in a quiet way, a little private conat my left, a sprinkling of damsels all around versation among the leaders, after which Prince
Paul said to me, in a very pleasant manner, that England or Germany, on entering a tent-gypsy
these gypsies,” being delighted at the visit from encampment, is to be polite to.“ the old woman. the gentleman from a distant country, would like Unless you can win her good opinion you had to offer me a song in token of welcome. To this better be gone. The Russian city Roms have I answered, with many thanks, that such kind- apparently no such fancies. On the road, howness was more than I had expected, for I was ever, life is patriarchal, and the grandmother is a well aware of the great value of such a compli- power to be feared. As a fortune-teller she is a ment from singers whose fame had reached me witch, ever at warfare with the police world; she even in America. It was evident that my grain has a bitter tongue, and is quick to wrath. This of a reply did not fall upon stony ground, for I was not the style or fashion of the old gypsy never was among people who seemed to be so singer ; but, as soon as I saw the puri babali quickly impressed by any act of politeness, how- dye, I requested that she would shake hands with ever trifling. A bow, a squeeze of the hand, a and by the impression which this created I smile, or a glance, would gratify them, and this saw that the Rommany of the city had not lost gratification their lively black eyes expressed in all the feelings of the road. the most unmistakable manner.
I spoke of Waramoff's beautiful song of the So we had the song, wild and wonderful like “Krasneya Sarafan,” which Miss Sarsha began at all of its kind, given with all that delightful once to warble. The characteristic of Russian abandon which attains perfection only among gypsy-girl voices is a peculiarly delicate metallic gypsies. I had enjoyed the singing in St. Peters- tone-like that of the two silver bells of the Towburg, but there was a laisser aller, a completely er of Ivan Velikoi when heard from afar—yet algay spirit, in this Christmas-eve gypsy party in ways marked with fineness and strength. This is Moscow which was much more“ whirling away." sometimes startling in the wilder effects, but it is For at Dorot the gypsies had been on exhibition; always agreeable. These Moscow gypsy girls here at Petrovka they were frolicking en famille have a great name in their art, and it was round with a favored guest—a Rommany Rye from a the shoulders of one of them for aught I know far land to astonish and delight—and he took it may have been Sarsha’s great-grandmothergood care to let them feel that they were achieve that Catalani threw the cashmere shawl which ing a splendid success, for I declared many times had been given to her by the Pope, as “ to the that it was būtsi shükdr, or very beautiful. Then best singer in the world.” “It is not mine by I called for tea and lemon, and after that the gyp- right,” said the generous Italian; "it belongs to sies sang for their own amusement, Miss Sarsha, the gypsy." as the incarnation of fun and jollity, taking the The gypsies were desirous of learning somelead, and making me join in. Then the crowd thing about the songs of their kindred in distant made way, and in the space appeared a very lands, and, though no singer, I did my best to pretty little girl in the graceful old gypsy Oriental please them, the guitarist easily improvising acdress. This child danced charmingly indeed, in companiments, while the girls joined in. As all a style strikingly like that of the Almeh of Egypt, were in a gay mood, faults were easily excused, but without any of the erotic expressions which and the airs were much liked—Miss Tuckey's abound in Eastern pantomime. This little Rom- lyrics, set by Virginia Gabriel, being even more many girl was to me enchanting, being altogether admired in Moscow than in St. Petersburg, aprounaffected and graceful. It was evident that her pos of which I may mention that, when I afdancing, like the singing of her elder sisters, was terward visited the gypsy family in their own not an art which had been drilled in by instruc- home, the first request from Sarsha was, “ Eto tion. They had fallen into it in infancy, and per- gilyo rya !” (“ That song, sir"), referring to fected themselves by such continual practice, · Rommany," which has been heard at several that what they did was as natural as walking or concerts in London. And so, after much discustalking. When the dancing was over, I begged sion of the affairs of Egypt, I took my leave that the little girl would come to me, and, kissing amid a chorus of kind farewells. Then Vassili, her tiny gypsy hand, I said, “ Spassibo tute kam- loudly called for, reappeared from some nook li, eto hi būtsi shūkár" ("Thank you, dear; that with his elegantly frosted horse, and in a few is very pretty "), with which the rest were evident- minutes we were dashing homeward. Cold ! it ly pleased. I had observed among the singers, was as severe as in western New York or Minat a little distance, a very remarkable and rather nesota, where the thermometer for many days handsome old woman—a good study for an artist every winter sinks lower than in St. Petersburg, -and she, as I also noticed, had sung with a but where there are no such incredible precaupowerful and clear voice. “She is our grand- tions taken as in the land of double windows mother,” said one of the girls. Now, as every cemented down, and fur-lined shubas. It is restudent of gypsies knows, the first thing to do in markable that the gypsies, who are Hindoos by
origin, are said to surpass the Russians in endur- way, not in front, but through a court, a back ing cold; and there is a marvelous story told door, and up a staircase, very much in the style about a Rommany who for a wager undertook of certain dwellings in the Potteries in London. to sleep naked against a clothed Muscovite on But, having entered, I was led through one or the ice of a river during an unusually cold night. two neat rooms, where I saw lying sound asleep In the morning the Russian was found frozen on beds, but dressed, one or two very dark Romstiff, while the gypsy was snoring away un- manies, whose faces I remembered. Then we harmed. As we returned, I saw in the town passed into a sitting-room, which was very well something which recalled this story in more than furnished. I observed hanging up over the chimone moujik, who, well wrapped up, lay sleeping ney-piece a good collection of photographs, nearin the open air, under the lee of a house. Pass- ly all of gypsies, and indicating that close reseming through silent Moscow on the early Christ- blance to Hindoos which comes out so strongly mas morn, under the stars, as I gazed at the in such pictures, being, in fact, more apparent in marvelous city which yields neither to Edin- the pictures than in the models ; just as the phoburgh, Cairo, nor Prague in picturesqueness, and tographs of the old Ulfilas manuscript revealed thought over the strange evening I had spent curious characteristics not visible in the original. among the gypsies, I felt as if I were in a melo- In the center of the group was a cabinet-size pordrama with striking scenery. The pleasing finale trait of Sarsha, and by it another of an Englishwas the utter amazement and almost speechless man of very high rank. I thought this odd, but gratitude of Vassili at getting an extra half-ruble asked no questions. as an early Christmas gift.
My hosts were very kind, offering me promptAs I had received a pressing invitation from ly a rich kind of Russian cake, begging to know the gypsies to come again, I resolved to pay what else I would like to eat or drink, and apthem a visit on Christmas afternoon in their own parently deeply concerned that I could really house if I could find it. Having ascertained that partake of nothing, as I had just come from the gypsy street was in a distant quarter, called luncheon. They were all light-hearted and gay, the grouszini, I engaged a sleigh, standing be- so that the music began at once, as wild and as fore the door of the Slavanski-Bazaar Hotel, and bewitching as ever. And here I observed, even the usual close bargain with the driver was ef- more than before, how thoroughly sincere these fected with the aid of a Russian gentleman, a gypsies were in their art, and to what a degree stranger passing by, who reduced the ruble (one they enjoyed and were excited by their own singhundred kopecks) at first demanded to seventy ing. Here in their own home, warbling like kopecks. After a very long drive we found our- birds and frolicking like children, their performselves in the gypsy street, and the istvostshik ance was even more delightful than it had been asked me, “ To what house ?"
in the concert-room. There was evidently a “I don't know," I replied. “Gypsies live great source of excitement in the fact that I here, don't they?”
must enjoy it far more than an ordinary stranger, “Gypsies, and no others."
because I understood Rommany and sympa“Well, I want to find a gypsy."
thized with gypsy ways, and regarded them not as The driver laughed, and just at that instant I the Gaji or Gentiles do, but as brothers and sissaw, as if awaiting me on the sidewalk, Sarsha, ters. I confess that I was indeed moved by the Liubasha, and another young lady with a good- simple kindness with which I was treated, and I looking youth, their brother.
knew that, with the wonderfully keen perception “ This will do," I said to the driver, who ap- of character in which gypsies excel, they perpeared utterly amazed at seeing me greeted like fectly understood my liking for them. It is this an old friend by the Zigani, but who grinned with ready intuition of feelings which, when it is raised delight, as all Russians of the lower class inva- from an instinct to an art by practice, enables riably do, at anything like sociability and frater- shrewd old women to tell fortunes with so much nity. The damsels were faultlessly attired in skill. Russian style, with full fur-lined glossy black- I was here introduced to the mother of the satin cloaks and fine Orenberg scarfs, which are, girls. She was a neat, pleasant-looking woman, I believe, the finest woolen fabrics in the world. of perhaps forty years, in appearance and manThe party were particularly anxious to know if ners irresistibly reminding me of some respectaI had come specialiy to visit them, for I have ble Cuban lady. Like the others, she displayed passed over the fact that I had also made the an intelligent curiosity as to my knowledge of acquaintance of another very large family of gyp- Rommany, and I was pleased at finding that she sies who sang at a rival café, and who had also knew much more of the language than her chiltreated me very kindly. I was at once conducted dren did. Then there entered a young Russian to a house, which we entered in a rather gypsy gentleman, but not Prince Paul.” He was,
however, a very agreeable person, as all Russians proceeded to examine and predict. When I afcan be when so minded, and they are always so terward narrated this incident to the late G. H. minded when they gather from information or Lewes, he expressed himself to the effect that conjecture the fact that the stranger whom they to tell fortunes to gypsies struck him as the very meet is one of education or position. This young ne plus ultra of cheek—which shows how exgentleman spoke French, and undertook the part tremes meet, for verily it was with great modesty of occasional translator.
and proper diffidence that I ventured to foretell I asked Liubasha if any of them understood the lives of these little ladies, having an antipathy fortune-telling
to the practice of chiromancing as to other ro“No—we have quite lost the art of dorriki.* mancing. None of us know anything about it. But we I have observed that as among men of great hear that you Romanichals over the Black and varied culture, and of extensive experience, Water understand it. Oh,rya," she cried, eager- there are more complex and delicate shades and ly, “ you know so much-you're such a deep half-shades of light in the face, so in the palm Rommany—can't you tell fortunes ? "
the lines are correspondingly varied and broken. “ I should indeed know very little about Rom- Take a man of intellect and a peasant of equal many ways," I replied gravely, “ if I could not excellence of figure according to the literal rules pen dorriki. But I tell you beforehand, terni of art or of anatomy, and this subtile multiplicity pen, 'dorrikipen hi hokanipen' (Little Sister), of variety shows itself in the whole body in fafortune-telling is deceiving. Yet what the lines vor of the “gentleman,” so that it would almost say, I can read."
seem as if every book we read is republished in In an instant six as pretty little gypsy hands the person. The first thing that struck me in as I ever beheld were thrust before me, and I these gypsy hands was the very remarkable fewheard as many cries of delight. “Tell my for- ness of the lines, their clearly defined sweep, and tune, rya! tell mine! and mine!" exclaimed their simplicity. In every one the line of life was the damsels, and I complied. It was all very unbroken, and, in fine, one might think from a well to tell them there was nothing in it—they drawing of the hand, and without knowing who knew a trick worth two of that. I perceived at its owner might be, that he or she was of a type once that the faith which endures beyond its own of character unknown in most great European knowledge was placed in all I said. In England cities, a being gifted with special culture, and in the gypsy woman, who at home ridicules her own a certain simple sense refined, but not endowed fortune-telling and her dupes, still puts faith in with experience in a thousand confused phases a gusveri mush, or some “ wise man,” who with of life. To avoid mistakes I told the fortunes in crystal or magical apparatus professes occult French, which was translated into Russian I knowledge, for she thinks that her own false art need not say that every word was listened to with is an imitation of a true one. It is really amus- earnest attention, or that the group of dark but ing to see the reverence with which an old gypsy young and comely faces, as they gathered around will look at the awful hieroglyphics in Cornelius and bent over, would have made a good subject Agrippa's “Occult Philosophy," or, better still, for a picture. After the girls, the mother must “Trithemius," and, as a gift, any ordinary fortune- needs hear her dorriki also, and last of all the telling book is esteemed by them beyond rubies. young Russian gentleman, who seemed to take It is true that they can not read it, but the precious as earnest an interest in his future as even the volume is treasured like a fetich, and the owner gypsies. As he alone understood French, and is happy in the thought of at least possessing as he appeared to be un peu gaillard, and finaldarksome and forbidden lore, though it be of no ly, as the lines of his hand said nothing to the earthly use to her. After all the kindness they contrary, I predicted for him in detail a fortune had shown me, I could not find it in my heart to in which bonnes fortunes were not at all wanting. refuse to tell these gentle Zingari their little for- I think he was pleased, but when I asked him if tunes. It is not, I admit, exactly in the order of he would translate what I had said of his future things that the chicken should dress the cook, or into Russian, he replied with a slight wink and a the Gorgio tell fortunes to gypsies, but he who scarcely perceptible negative. I suppose he had wanders in strange lands meets with strange ad- his reasons. ventures. So, with a full knowledge of the legal Then we had singing again, and Christopher, penalties attached in England to palmistry and the brother, a wild and gay young gypsy, became other conjuration, and with the then pending so excited that while playing the guitar he also Slade case knocking heavily on my conscience, I danced and carolled, and the sweet voices of the
girls rose in chorus, and I was again importuned * In Old English Rommany this is called dorrikin, in for the Rommany song, and we had altogether a common parlance, dukkerin. "Both forms are really old. Very Bohemian frolic. I was sorry when the ear