‘Speak for yourself, brother,’ said Mr. Petulengro. ’However, I will tell you how the matter stands. There is a point at present between us. There can be no doubt that you are the cause of Mrs. Herne’s death, innocently, you will say, but still the cause. Now, I shouldn’t like it to be known that I went up and down the country with a pal who was the cause of my mother-in-law’s death, that’s to say, unless he gave me satisfaction. Now, if I and my pal have a tussle, he gives me satisfaction; and, if he knocks my eyes out, which I know you can’t do, it makes no difference at all, he gives me satisfaction; and he who says to the contrary knows nothing of gypsy law, and is a dinelo into the bargain.’
‘But we have no gloves!’
‘Gloves!’ said Mr. Petulengro, contemptuously, ’gloves! I tell you what, brother, I always thought you were a better hand at the gloves than the naked fist; and, to tell you the truth, besides taking satisfaction for Mrs. Herne’s death, I wish to see what you can do with your mawleys; so now is your time, brother, and this is your place, grass and shade, no ruts or holes; come on, brother, or I shall think you what I should not like to call you.’
Offence and defence—I’m satisfied—Fond of solitude—Possession of property—Chal Devlehi—Winding path.
And when I heard Mr. Petulengro talk in this manner, which I had never heard him do before, and which I can only account for by his being fasting and ill-tempered, I had of course no other alternative than to accept his challenge; so I put myself into a posture which I deemed the best both for offence and defence, and the tussle commenced; and when it had endured for about half an hour, Mr. Petulengro said, ’Brother, there is much blood on your face; you had better wipe it off’; and when I had wiped it off, and again resumed my former attitude, Mr. Petulengro said, ’I think enough has been done, brother, in the affair of the old woman; I have, moreover, tried what you are able to do, and find you, as I thought, less apt with the naked mawleys than the stuffed gloves; nay, brother, put your hands down, I’m satisfied; blood has been shed, which is all that can be reasonably expected for an old woman who carried so much brimstone about her as Mrs. Herne.’
So the struggle ended, and we resumed our route, Mr. Petulengro sitting sideways upon his horse as before, and I driving my little pony-cart; and when we had proceeded about three miles, we came to a small public-house, which bore the sign of the Silent Woman, where we stopped to refresh our cattle and ourselves; and as we sat over our bread and ale, it came to pass that Mr. Petulengro asked me various questions, and amongst others, how I intended to dispose of myself; I told him that I did not know; whereupon, with considerable frankness, he invited me to his camp, and told me that if I chose to settle down amongst them, and become a Rommany chal, I should have his wife’s sister Ursula, who was still unmarried, and occasionally talked of me.