In which Melchior talks
very much like an astrologer, and Tim and I
return to our old trade of making up innocent prescriptions.
We had taken our horses for the next town; but as soon as we were fairly on the road, I stopped the boys, and told them that the Great Aristodemus intended to observe the planets and stars that night, and that they were to proceed to a common which I mentioned. The post-boys, who were well aware of his fame, and as fully persuaded of it as everybody else, drove to the common; we descended, took off the luggage, and received directions from Melchior in their presence about the instruments, to which the boys listened with open mouths and wonderment. I paid them well, and told them they might return, which they appeared very glad to do. They reported what had occurred, and this simple method of regaining our camp, added to the astonishment of the good town of ——. When they were out of sight we resumed our usual clothes, packed all up, carried away most of our effects, and hid the others in the furze to be sent for the next night, not being more than two miles from the camp. We soon arrived, and were joyfully received by Fleta and Nattee.
As we walked across the common, I observed to Melchior, “I wonder if these stars have any influence upon mortals, as it was formerly supposed?”
“Most assuredly they have,” rejoined Melchior. “I cannot read them, but I firmly believe in them.”
I made the above remark, as I had often thought that such was Melchior’s idea.
“Yes,” continued he, “every man has his destiny—such must be the case. It is known beforehand what is to happen to us by an Omniscient Being, and being known, what is it but destiny which cannot be changed? It is fate,” continued he, surveying the stars with his hand raised up, “and that fate is as surely written there as the sun shines upon us; but the great book is sealed, because it would not add to our happiness.”
“If, then, all is destiny, or fate, what inducement is there to do well or ill?” replied I. “We may commit all acts of evil, and say, that as it was predestined, we could not help it. Besides would it be just that the Omniscient Being should punish us for those crimes which we cannot prevent, and which are allotted to us by destiny?”
“Japhet, you argue well; but you are in error, because, like most of those of the Christian Church, you understand not the sacred writings, nor did I until I knew my wife. Her creed is, I believe, correct; and what is more, adds weight to the truths of the Bible.”
“I thought that gipsies had no religion.”
“You are not the only one who supposes so. It is true that the majority of the tribe are held by the higher castes as serfs, and are not instructed; but with—if I may use the expression—the aristocracy of them it is very different, and their creed I have adopted.”