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The Three Gypsies

By NIKOLAUS LENAU

(German Poet, Who Resided at Harmony, Pa.)

Rendered into English by William Benignus, Poet of the Schwangunk Mountains, New York

 

Three free Gypsies I one time found
Under some spreading willows.
When my wagon with creaking sound
Drew near the resting fellows.

One, in a dreaming mood, alone,
In his hands held a fiddle,
Played, while the glorious sunset shone,
Tunes of a fiery liedel.

Held the second a pipe in mouth,
Watched how his smoke-rings speeded.
Glad, as if on the earth's wide round
No other bliss was needed.

And the third one in comfort slept,
On the tree hung his cymbal,
Over the strings a wild breeze crept,
Over his heart dreams nimble.

On their clothes wore the happy three
Holes and plenty of patches,
But they offered, defiant, free,
Scorn to fate's wildcat-scratches.

Threefold to me they showed that day
If life's dark clouds arise,
How in smoking, in sleep, in play,
Three times bold hearts despise.

After the Gypsies looked I long.
Driving ahead, I must
Look after faces brown and strong,
Raven-black curls, wind-tossed.

 

 

 


"I see a column of slow rising smoke
O'er-top the lofty wood, that skirts the wild.
A vagabond and useless tribe, there eat
Their miserable meal.  A kettle
Slung between two poles, upon a stick transverse,
Receives the morsel: flesh obscene of hog,
Or vermin; or at best, of cock purloined
From his accustom'd perch. Hard faring race,
They pick their fuel out of every hedge,
Which kindled with dry leaves, and wood, just saves
The spark of life. The sportive wind blows wide
Their fluttering rags, and shows a tawney skin,
The vellum of the pedigree they claim."

                                                                             Cowper

" 'Gipsy Lore in Pennsylvania' strikes a memory note in my own life, since every year from my childhood Gipsies have colored the roadsides here in the mountains and have lived for weeks a few miles outside of Somerset. We always go out to see them and have them 'fake' us a fortune---it's part of the summer.  Years ago, when I was a little girl I had a strange encounter with a Gipsy that somehow I have never forgotten. The girls in our neighborhood were playing together in the back yard when a swarthy old Gipsy called to us over the fence in the alley, "Tell your fortune, girls."  They did, each separately behind a bush, but when it came my turn, as usual I laughed and refused, whereupon that old woman threw up her head---I can see the big gold crescent earings shaking yet---and, pointing her finger at me, she said, 'No, you don't need your fortune told; it is written on you.  You are the hills and you will climb them all your life.'  The astounding old creature actually told me when I was born, and under what star, and predited a brilliant career, all of which she said I could not help, it would just be so.  I was born in February and my own particular star has twinkled over master minds, but alas! not for me.  As the old Gipsy said, I am still climbing the hills---still of  them.  I am merely recounting this little story as an appendix to your gipsy narratives---an actual Gipsy picture from the walls of memory."

F__S__ B__.


The Tree Language of the Pennsylvania German Gypsies

An Address, by HENRY W. SHOEMAKER, at the Clio Club, Williamsport, Pa., December 2, 1925.

It is only recently that the Gypsy Lore Society of London has directed its attention to the origin and history of the Pennsylvania German Gypsies. These picturesque wanderers are the last to be studied by the members of this erudite society, which was once honored by the presidency of the noted American traveler and "Gyptologist," Charles Godfrey Leland. It is more than passing strange that this master of Gyspy lore makes scant mention of the Gypsies of his native State in any of his writings, although he treats the Romanies from about every other part of the world with his powers of illuminative observation. The reason is probably that Leland's activities in Pennsylvania were confined to the vicinity of Philadelphia and Germantown, or he saw little that was picturesque or colorful in the home-grown brand of Nomads, before comparatively early in life he took up his abode in foreign lands, although he has recorded most delightfully his meetings with the Whartons and other English-speaking Gypsies near Philadelphia.

The more the study of the Pennsylvania German Gypsies is pursued the more far-reaching and fascinating does it become. Hardly mentioned previously, now everyone seems to have some tale to tell of them, to add to their interest and charm. As far as can be definitely ascertained at the present time the Chi-kener, sometimes spelled She-kener (a transposition of the High-German word Zigeuner), or Pennsylvania German Gypsies, inhabited the Palatinate or Rhine County, for many centuries, wandering the entire distance between Schaffhausen and Middelburg on their migrations. It is also said that some of the Chi-kener came to Pennsylvania with the Moravians from Bohemia. On account of the long continued wars in Holland and Germany, and the poverty of the native populations, they resolved to journey across the ocean to the new world, impelled thence by the stories of the prosperity of the Palatines and Huguenots who had fled the war-desolated Rhineland for Pennsylvania. Some of them attempted to travel to the New World in large groups, but though hated in Europe, they were forbidden to leave the continent. Selling themselves for their passage money as "Redemptioners" seemed to be the only method remaining, and hundreds of Romanies reached the new world in that manner. Most of them posed as being as poor as the most poverty-stricken Palatines, but on arriving at their final destinations in inland Pennsylvania sometimes bought out their employer's farm, buildings, livestock and implements and all to the surprise of those worthy Pietists. They carried their money under their wide silken belts or sashes, which with handsome cashmere shawls formed leading elements of their costumes until as recently as fifty years ago, when they gradually adopted more modern styles of apparel. The Chi-kener girls dipped snuff, smoked sumac leaves in long-stemmed pipes, bobbed their hair, and wore short skirts, which gave rise to one early woman writer to call them "brazen Gypsy huzzies." They were cleanly in their habits, great bathers, and always on the move looking for fresh water. They were fond of a wild dance, perhaps the ancestor of the present "Charleston," and became very much excited while dancing it. Most of the Chi-kener families were broken up by this Redemptioner method of emigration, as some were dumped on the inhospitable New England coast, others in New Jersey, and still others in the far South instead of at the ports along the Delaware. Those who reached Philadelphia were ultimately reunited into family groups, and as soon as this was done their instinct took them to the road. A few gave up nomadic life altogether, by intermarrying with their employers, or their sons or daughters, adding another dark strain to the already Indian-Spanish-Jewish-Bohemian-Waidensian-Huguenot blend, which plays such a prominent part in that strange racial polyglot, known as the "Pennsylvania Dutchman." The darkness of the Chi-kener complexions was heightened, so Dr. Stephen tells us, by the use of various greases or "schmeres," which recalls William Penn's famous letter of 1683 to the Free Society of Traders, at London, in which he says: "The Pennsylvania Indians are of complexion black, but by design, as the Gypsies in England." Some Pennsylvania Germans called the Gypsies "Smutsers," and "Dutch" mothers whose babies had dirty faces called them "regular smutsers." The original language of these Gypsies in the Rhine Country was somewhat similar to the German-Hungarian Gypsy dialects of today, but in Pennsylvania words of French and even Indian origin became woven into the resultant language. The Pennsylvania German Gypsies hated the Indians, yet the native "Dutch" farmers, with whom the Chi-kener came into daily business intercourse, as horse-traders, tinkers, coppersmiths, pewter menders or basket-makers,compelled them to adopt certain Indian words commonly used by the rural dwellers of Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon counties. Their language today is much as it was a century ago, though there are more English or rather "American slang" words added every year. Thus far no glossary nor vocabulary has been prepared, but Dr. Walker L. Stephen, a leading philologist of Reading, a modern "Lavengro," is preparing a vocabulary and phrasebook of the Pennsylvania German Gypsy tongue, gathered direct from the Chi-kener, and the old wagoners, packers, drovers, peddlers and hostlers with whom they came in contact in the olden days. Herewith follows a brief vocabulary of English words with their Pennsylvania German Gypsy and English Gypsy equivalents partly furnished by Dr. Stephen, partly secured from other sources :

Graphics (p.3-3) Graphics (p.4-1)

Apart from their dialect, which was mainly utilized for business reasons, as they were naturally an extremely reticent people, the Pennsylvania German Gypsies developed a tree language, which in time was their chief defensive weapon against the constant persecutions of the white people. The Chi-kener were closely associated with trees. Trees were as the roof of their homes, as they lived under the skies. Wagons of any kind were a later development, which for many years they scorned. They traveled on foot, carrying their babies, leading their horses with belongings tied on their backs, although sometimes the Chi-kener kings and queens were mounted on flashy-looking ponies. They brought with them from the Rhineland many odds and ends of tree sorcery, some of them almost as old as the world itself. They taught the Pennsylvania farmers the symbolism of good and bad trees. They classed as good trees first the beech, widely known as the "Gypsy tree," after that the ash, and the rowan or mountain ash, the white oak, the birch, the linden, and the maple. Pines and aspens were evil, and the Chi-kener's prejudice became a prime cause for early settlers cutting down all pine trees near their dwellings. Your speaker recalls an old house, vacant for several years, near where he spent considerable time in his boyhood days in Clinton County. A family from Pine Creek, named McDonnell, rented it, but before they moved their furniture into the house, they cut down a row ofmagnificent Jersey pines along the front fence. Your speaker was horrified at such vandalism, and inquired the cause from the blackbearded man who seemed to be the chief executioner. "We'd have no luck if we let them stand," he whispered, as he swung his double-bitted axe for a final assault on the last of the shaggy conifers. The cross on which the Christ was crucified was made of aspen and a Chi-kener present at the crucifixion cursed the tree, and gave it the "years of Christ," in other words at about thirty years of age the quaking asp tree starts to dry up and die. The cross-bar was of pine, and having on it the blood of Christ, was cursed to bleed at all times of year, if cut into, and to eternally suffer pain, soughing and moaning in its misery. The Chi-kener taught the pioneers the properties of the "snake ash." In the early days many cattle were bitten by "rattlers" and copperheads in newly cleared pastures, and quite a few died. The Chi-kener sorcerers would bore a hole in a young ash tree, and in it insert the head of a newly killed reptile and plug up the hole. Switches were cut from the suckers of the tree the following year, and these were gently used on the parts of the cattle bitten by the venomous serpents. It may be rank superstition, but beyond that it might have some common-sense, as starting the circulation in the bitten parts, until other remedies could be applied. But more unaccountable was the treatment of paralyzed children by Chi-kener seers and seeresses. A young ash tree was split asunder and the afflicted child passed through the aperture. Then the tree was roped together and sealed with beeswax or grafting wax. If the tree survived the operation, the child's paralysis would grow less until cured; if the tree died, then there was no hope for the little sufferer. The old-time incantation of rural Pennsylvania ran as follows:

"Paralyzed and cannot stand
Gently by Chi-kener hand,
Through the ash-tree you are passed,
Strong and well you are at last."


Rev. Gilbert White, in his "Natural History of Selborne," tells about an almost similar treatment for ruptured children in rural England. If the Chi-kener had any religion at all it as Druidical. They venerated, if not worhsipped, trees and resented their being cut down and mutilated. They only burned dead wood, or the wood from fallen trees. They would not cut a green tree except a pine under any circumstances. They were mystics and had some conception of the beautiful. They believed in ghosts and liked to discuss the supernatural with the old people at the farm houses where they stopped. Fifteen years ago your speaker met a Gypsy girl at a fair on the outskirts of Reading, who told him of the family ghosts at a certain ancient ironmaster's mansion not far from the Berks and Lancaster County line, which stories were afterwards verified from the venerable chatelaine of the manor-house. One ghost was that of a Negro slave, beaten to death in an outhouse in all effort to make him confess the theft of silver plate from the home of a neighboring ironmaster, and who emerged from the hut and walked around the mansion at night; another was the son of the house, who started for Philadelphia on horseback, the steed returned riderless, and later the young man's body was discovered by the roadside on the Welsh mountains above Bareville, shot in the back, but with watch, horse-pistols and money intact, so that the crime was not robbery. Another was a daughter of the house who was in love with one man, but being forced to marry another, took poison the night before her unwelcome alliance. The fourth was an old bachelor uncle who returned with a fortune from the West Indies, made in the slave trade it was hinted by jealous neighbors, who buried his treasure in one of the fields, but died before he had a chance to turn it over to his relatives and came back to try and lead them to his "cache." The Chi-kener girl inquired "what would happen if the four ghosts ever met?" That would be a question for Sir A. Conan Doyle to answer, or some other eminent authority in ectoplasms. It cannot be said that a belief in unearthly visitations is confined to the lower orders. The aforementioned chatelaine of this old ironmaster's house, a singularly gifted woman, who died only a few months ago, told your speaker that she was an unwilling believer in ghosts. She had in her youth a very close girl friend, the daughter of another nearby ironmaster. They were closer than sisters and devoted to one another. One evening when the lady in question was in Europe, she came to her hotel room at Geneva at about dusk, on a dark autumnal day, the kind of a day when the Jura Mountains loom black as ink like a tall screen against the skyline shutting out the beauty of France. As she opened the door, there sat her friend looking into the mirror at a dressing table. She said she could have easily recognized her back, but she saw her face reflected towards her in the glass. "Oh Sylvia," she said, calling her by name, "What are you doing here?" As she spoke, the figure at the dressing-table rapidly faded away. Two weeks later she received a letter saying that her friend had died in Pennsylvania on the same day and at the same hour as she had seen her in the hotel room at Geneva. It was as a link with the unseen and interpreter of dreams and charms that the Chi-kener were tolerated in many Pennsylvania farm houses, and they were clever enough to capitalize this opening. They sold Gypsy charms cut out of paper which, if held in a certain light, would reflect the features of Christ on the farm house walls. Dr. Stephen believes that the Pennsylvania Germans learned the art of "pow-wowing" from the Gypsies; pow-wow, however, is an Indian word, but it means a "big talk" or conference. Henry Harbaugh in one of his most touching poems, "My Boyhood Room," in speaking of his repugnance at hearing the insect known as the death-watch working in the furniture at night says, "I would that worm were still." Among the Pennsylvania pioneers it was believed that if the death-watch was heard in a sick-room, the patient would die. The Chi-kener, if he happened to come around at that time, had an antidote: boiling hot water applied to the inhabited piece of furniture, which silenced the insect and insured the patient's recovery. Jonathan Swift had a similar cure which he versified and possibly he learned it from the Gypsies in his early days in England, for there were said to be no Romanies and no snakes in the Emerald Isle. And yet the Gypsies have boldly claimed St. Patrick was one of their number!

Not long ago, in quaint romantic Sugar Valley, Clinton County, your speaker heard a story which can be repeated here, as it is illustrative of the tree language of the Pennsylvania German Gypsies or Chi-kener, though it is not a very elegant narrative. A very mischievous little Nomad known on the roads as Gypsy Ike, in reality Jesse Womeldorf, made a profound impression on the heart of Clare Wolstencroft, the beautiful step-daughter of old Daniel Aschman, keeper of the Sign of the King of Prussia, at New Berlin, then the county seat of Union County, during the early spring of 1858. To lessen the danger of her elopement with the wily Chi-kener, who was said to be already several times a married man, the girl was spirited away to Sugar Valley to the site of Deborah Furnace, its glory departed, but then in partial operation by some of the girl's relatives, and near the mouth of Green's Gap, the scene of what was probably the last Indian massacre in Pennsylvania. Waldmer Dapp, a younger member of the Reinhold tribe, but only partly of Gypsy blood, has furnished your speaker with a brief account of the tree language of the Chi-kener. These symbols were carved on trees in or adjacent to their camping places, at the time of departure. A circle quartered on a beech ash or linden indicated "Everything as it should be, a safe and pleasant place to camp. We were in no hurry to leave." Left-hand upper quarter on a beech or ash, "One of our band in trouble here." Left-hand lower quarter on a beech or ash, "Two of our band in trouble here." Right-hand upper quarter, on beech or ash, "Three of our band in trouble here." Right-hand lower quarter on beech or ash, "Four or more in trouble, unsafe to remain." Upper half, on beech, "Fined, or robbed, or ill-treated." literally "purses emptied." Lower half, on beech, "Will camp within five miles." Lower half, on an ash, "Will camp one day's travel," i.e., twelve or fifteen miles distant. Lower half, on a linden, "Will camp two days' travel." Lower half, on a pine of any kind (bad tree), "Have killed a white man here." Lower half on a hemlock, "We have committed a minor offense, being watched or molested, unsafe to remain." Some of these marks are still discernible on venerable beech trees, and are called by the Pennsylvania mountain children as "Gypsy Trees."

During the affair with this lovely white girl Gypsy Ike had taught her the tree language, presaging the inevitable separation, which he was determined not to allow to end his romance. A diamond, cut on a beech, bisected, translated to mean that "must leave for reasons (best known to self). Will be within two days' journey." The bisecting line when extending on both sides beyond the diamond, "four days' journey." On one side only a "three days' journey." When Clare was ordered to go to her relatives in Sugar Valley, she contrived to carve on an old beech in view of the Chi-kener's camp, the diamond, with one line extending, which gave the shrewd Chi-kener the clue whereby to find her. This was surmounted by a heart and a cross, symbols of Gypsy lovers. When the tribe left New Berlin it was to scatter, as the leaves of an oak in autumn, as the only, son of Christian Caspar Appolonius Reinhold, the Chi-kener king was shot in the shoulder, at dusk, by some one concealed behind a shed, in the alley back of the King of Prussia, probably "potted" in mistake for Gypsy Ike. It was just before moving their tents that the Chi-kener carved the upper half of a circle, "ill-treated," on a massive beech near their erstwhile camp-ground. And they might have been more careful, for on all of the sheds back of the King of Prussia were painted the white man's warning against the Chi-kener: a black star and a black hand. It is a far cry to Joyce Kilmer's wished-for sign, "Gypsies are Welcome to Camp Here," erected by Chief Forester Pinchot's orders at the entrance to the Joyce Kilmer State Monument, in the Fourteen Mile Narrows, between Hartley Hall, now Hartleton and Woodward, and long a favored tarrying place for the Chi-kener. When Gypsy Ike noted his beloved's handicraft on the sturdy "boocha," though it was several days before the unfortunate maiming of King Reinhold's heir-apparent, he did not tarry, and straight as a homing pigeon, departed across the mountains, in a northwesterly direction. He had a decided feeling that he knew exactly where that three days' journey would lead him. Ten days earlier, during an altercation with Jesse Logan, an Indian raftman at the King of Prussia, he had his "schlor" or dagger taken from him by the sturdy Red Man, which weapon he had himself forged out of a single piece of steel at Pool Forge, Lancaster County and valued most highly. Pool Forge was the favorite place for the Chi-kener to tarry and make their hand-forged daggers, being permitted to do so by the Jacobs family of ironmasters, who Chi-kener claimed were Romanies, but Cyrus T. Fox, a noted historian of Reading, states that Cyrus Jacobs, the founder of this family, was a Welshman.

To console him for this serious misfortune, Clare had told him that at Deborah Furnace certain of the old-time hunters of Sugar Valley, such as Major Philip Wolford, David Zimmerman, "Jake" Karstetter and Philip Schrekengast had forged similar "pigstickers" for themselves. He knew that Clare's mother was related to the present occupants of Deborah Furnace, that it was distant three days' journey on foot from the beech tree where she had cut the symbol and that he would be allowed to make a new knife there. It was to Deborah Furnace that he immediately set out for, fired with confidence, and seething with love and revenge. It was a chilly afternoon in late March when he arrived at the more or less dilapidated mansion, where once Frederick Friedley, proud ironmaster, had resided. He knew the instinctive fear in which the Chi-kener was regarded and that any request he might make would not be refused. Yet the occupants might be on guard against him if the reason of Clare's presence there was known to them. He knocked on the door, which was opened by a slovenly middle-aged woman carrying a baby, and asked for a hot drink. The kitchen was full of smoke but he was invited to enter and told to sit on the wood-box while his drink was being prepared. As stills were located all over the valley, and whiskey retailed for two cents a glass at the cross-roads stores, it was almost as cheap as water, and few travellers were denied this hospitality---it was much as cider is handed out today.

While seated he overheard a conversation between two of the daughters of the house---dark, handsome Indian-looking girls---which hinged upon their preparing the former irornmaster's bedroom "for the young gentleman from Philadelphia." The word "gentleman" and Clare's non-appearance filled him with ;jealous apprehension, and he quickly left the house without waiting for the woman to come back with his jorum. Instead of returning to the highway he walked up a lane which led in the direction of the mountains. Hearing a dog bark in the forest, and thinking of Clare's pet Indian dog which accompanied her everywhere, he returned to the west, along a log-path which led through a growth of gigantic original white pines and hemlocks. The path again turned towards the mountain, slightly up-hill. At the foot of the mountain was an outstanding white pine, seemingly a third larger in circumference than its fellows. The purple-brown plates of the bark gleamed like burnished bronze in the fading sunlight, the needles and cones were of unusual length. The top had been broken off at a fork and lay on the ground nearby; yet to where this disfigurement occurred, the tree was a hundred feet high, carrying its thickness throughout. Next to the Grandfather Pine of Sugar Valley, which stood near the mouth of Chadwick's Gap, and measured when prone 270 feet from the high-cut stump to the top, and was venerated alike by pioneers, Indians and Chi-kener, and brought ill luck to Mike Courtney, Ario Pardee's prosperous camp boss who felled it (he is said to have ended his days driving an ox-team in the mountains of West Virginia), this was the biggest pine he had ever seen. From the interior of the tree came the sound of a dog's shrill barking. Walking around it, Gypsy Ike noticed it was hollow, and inside of it stood Clare looking up into the eyes of a handsome and distinguished young man, whose arms were clasped about her.

The snarling dog ran from Clare's side as if resenting the intrusion, but the lovers within the giant cavity made no sign that they noticed the swarthy interloper. Boiling with rage, yet unarmed, the Chi-kener picked up a huge dried branch that had fallen from the pine and aimed a swinging blow at the head of the unseeing and thoroughly impassioned youth. Just then a shot rang out and the Chi-kener, hit in the jugular vein, fell back in a crumpled heap, rolled about on the pine needles muttering curses in his strange jargon and expired. A Negro lad, black as ebony, ran forward from behind some tall rhododendrons carrying a smoking horse-pistol. "Land o' mercy, Ise gone an' done it," he kept shouting. Clare and her attractive youth, having come to their senses, rushed from their hiding place, and the deed was soon explained. Black Sam, the colored boy, was the groom in charge of the young man's horses, who had come to Sugar Valley to inspect timber lands for the Dr. Caspar Wistar estate of Philadelphia, had followed his master into the woods to "bark" squirrels, and was watching him, when he noticed Gypsy Ike approach, and as the Chi-kener picked up the billet apparently to brain the young gentleman, fired the shot to save his life. Clare was a darkeyed girl, with very stiff black hair, worn in a Zulu or Hottentot bob, similar to the late Mabel Hite's hair; she was of astounding loveliness, her faded daguerrotype still preserved by some of her relatives at Collomsville, in Nippenose Valley, shows a langorous and faintly eastern droop to her full eyes, very like Flo Kennedy, one of the most justly famed of Mr. Ziegfeld's glorified beauties.

Hard as flint, she took the execution of her former lover with imperturbability, never intimating but that the dead man was a perfect stranger to her. She ran to the mansion as if to acquaint her relatives with what had happened, but most probably to warn them not to mention her former acquaintance with "Gypsy Ike," should any of them want to talk too much. The death of a Chi-kener aroused no more pity or excitement than that of a wolf, the skeletons of several of which animals were gibbeted on neighboring trees, where they had been hung after having been poisoned and skinned.

Clare's uncle, Andocides Cleon, a grizzled Greek refugee who had taken care of Lord Byron's saddle horses at Missolonghi, was filled with a desire to have the corpse buried as quickly as possible. At the far edge of the forest by a field was a deep sink, locally known as the Buffalo Wallow, where the huge beasts were said to have rolled and coated their backs with mud in the days of their great migrations over the nearby Buffalo Path, but the sink was now used as a receptacle for stones from the clearing, and here it was decided to inter the Gypsy's remains. Into the deep sink the corpse was pitched head first, like some battered pole-cat or porcupine, and Cleon, the young Philadelphian, Black Sam, and two backwoods boys, Henry Wren and Jacob Mever, who had appeared on the scene, heaved great rocks over the body and left it there. It was not long afterwards until the solemn ravens began circling in leisurely aerial formations like some grim flying circus above the spot where the dead Chi-kener lay deep down among the rocks. They could be seen clearly from the ironmaster's house, and the family would watch them by the hour from the kitchen windows.

One of the dark Indian-looking girls, who had learned many old-time "ballets" from her grandfather, Emmanuel Harcourt de Benneville, one of the earliest Huguenot settlers in eastern Sugar Valley, recited to herself, over and over again, the song of the "Twa Corbies," which seemed strangely applicable to the situation, especially as Clare was busy preparing to accompany the young gentleman to Philadelphia:

'There were two corbies sat on a tree
Large and black, as black might be,
And one the other 'gan say,
Where shall we go and dine today?
Shall we go dine by the wild salt sea?
Shall we go dine 'neath the greenwood tree?

'As I sat on the deep sea sand,
I saw a fair ship nigh at hand.
I waved my wings, I bent my beak,
The ship sank, and I heard a shriek;
There they lie, one two and three,
I shall dine by the wild salt sea.

'Come I will show ye a sweeter sight,
A lonesome glen and a new slain knight;
His blood yet on the grass is hot,
His sword half drawn, his shafts unshot,
And no one kens that he lies there,
But his hawk, his hound, and his lady fair.

'His hound is to the hunting gane,
His hawk to fetch the wild fowl hame,
His lady's away with another mate,
So we shall make our dinner sweet;
Our dinner's sure, our feasting free,
Come, and dine by the greenwood tree.

'You shall sit on his whitehorse-bain,
I will pick out his bonny blue een;
Ye'll take a tress of his yellow hair,
To theak yere nest when it grows bare;
The gowden down on his young chin
Will do to sew my young ones in.

'O cauld and bare will his bed be,
When winter storms sing in the tree;
At his head a turf, at his feet a stone,
He will sleep, nor hear the maiden's moan;
O'er his white bones the birds shall fly,
The wild deer bound and the foxes cry.'

 

It was more than a week later when a group of male members of the Reinhold clan, following various clues and signs, arrived in the vicinity of Deborah Furnace. King Christian Caspar, Appolonius Reinhold's son, his arm in a sling from the wound he had received at New Berlin, was the first to notice the circling of the sable-winged ravens above the not distant pine woods, and read their sinister story. The lads were standing on a small bridge which spanned Fishing Creek, near a great beech tree and along the stone-row across the bridge was a giant stag-horn sumac or devil tree." They held a whispered conversation under the protecting beech, then young Reinhold, the ranking member of the party, slipped his arm out of the sling and drew a hand-forged "schlor" from his red silk sash and crossed the bridge. On the side of the smooth bark of the devil-tree, he carved a perfect square, which, in the tree language of the Chi-kener, meant "One of our tribe suffered death here. Beware."

The stockily built Romanies crossed the bridge in single-file, according to their rank, and stood silently by the cabalistic sign, Then they turned, and muttering strange sounds, walked away in the direction of Tea Springs and Hightown now White Deer. There was no use for a persecuted people to try to avenge the death of their friend and brother through the white man's law. They were men without a country, and with as little redness as the Indians, and some quiet and subtle revenge, years later, perhaps would be their only way to right what seemed to them their wrong and injustice, the way of the weaker against the stronger.

In the early Spring of 1917, shortly after the United States had entered the World War, your speaker was driving in the vicinity of the former Deborah Furnace on his way to Loganton to help organize a company of the Pennsylvania Reserve Militia. It was a beautiful, clear afternoon, yet the place had a depressing effect on him. Suddenly, from the sink or buffalo wallow where the remains of Gypsy Ike had rested, rose a superb vulture, the "wayfaring bird" of the Chi-kener, but a rare visitor to Sugar Valley. It was with wing feathers of these birds that the Gypsy youths often decked their dark, matted hair, for they never wore hats, and it was the rule of these wanderers never to allow a vulture to be killed. In their language the vulture was known as the vagrant, or bird of the highroads, and seemed to typify their conception of the hate that was felt towards them by many of the Gentiles who classed them with the vultures as devouers of carrion, and the Chi-kener's resentment at their contempt. As the giant king of the air with mighty strokes of his black-bronze pinions rose higher and higher over the tree tops, it seemed as if the ignoble soul of the obscure and long-dead Chi-kener was taking on a new existence and entering into the world conflict on surer wings, and your speaker stopped the horses and watched until at last the bird became a tiny speck and disappeared into the great heavenly blue dome. And the apotheosis of Gypsy Ike recalled to mind the old-time German Gypsy incantation---

"I had a lass, who was not true to me,
She gave her heart to another,
Why did she not love me?
Oh, pretty maid, I loved thee."



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