“Quite—nay, better; for the school-boys may find me out, but not you. But now observe, when we come to the next cross road, we must get down—at least, I expect so; but we shall know in a minute.”
In about the time he mentioned, a dark, gipsy-looking man looked into the wagon, and spoke to our acquaintance in an unknown language. He replied in the same, and the man disappeared. We continued our route for about a quarter of an hour, when he got out, asked us to follow him, and speaking a few words to the fool, which I did not hear, left him and the boy in the wagon. We paid our fare, took possession of our bundles, and followed our new companion for a few minutes on the cross road, when he stopped, and said, “I must now leave you, to prepare for your reception into our fraternity; continue straight on this road until you arrive at a lime-kiln, and wait there till I come.”
He sprang over a stile, and took a direction verging at an angle from the road, forced his way through a hedge, and disappeared from our sight. “Upon my word, Timothy,” said I, “I hardly know what to say to this. Have we done right in trusting to this man, who, I am afraid! is a great rogue? I do not much like mixing with these gipsy people, for such I am sure he belongs to.”
“I really do not see how we can do better,” replied Timothy. “The world is all before us, and we must force our own way through it. As for his being a quack doctor, I see no great harm in that. People put their faith in nostrums more than they do in regular medicines; and it is well known that quack medicines, as they call them, cure as often as others, merely for that very reason.”
“Very true, Timothy; the mind once at ease, the body soon recovers, and faith, even in quack medicines, will often make people whole; but do you think that he does no more than impose upon people in that way?”
“He may, or he may not; at all events, we need do no more, I suppose.”
“I am not sure of that; however, we shall see. He says we may be useful to him, and I suppose we shall be, or he would not have engaged us—we shall soon find out.”
In which the reader
is introduced to several new acquaintances, and
all connected with them, except birth and parentage, which appears
to be the one thing wanting throughout the whole of this work.
By this time we had arrived at the lime-kiln to which we had been directed, and we sat down on our bundles, chatting for about five minutes, when our new acquaintance made his appearance, with something in his hand, tied up in a handkerchief.
“You may as well put your coats into your bundles, and put on these frocks,” said he, “you will appear better among us, and be better received, for there is a gathering now, and some of them are queer customers. However, you have nothing to fear; when once you are with my wife and me, you are quite safe; her little finger would protect you from five hundred.”