Badajoz--Antonio the Gipsy--Antonio's Proposal--The Proposal Accepted --Gipsy Breakfast--Departure from Badajoz--The Gipsy Donkey-- Merida--The Ruined Wall--The Crone--The Land of the Moor--The Black Men--Life in the Desert--The Supper.
I WAS now at Badajoz in Spain, a country which for the next four years was destined to be the scene of my labours: but I will not anticipate. The neighbourhood of Badajoz did not prepossess me much in favour of the country which I had just entered; it consists chiefly of brown moors, which bear little but a species of brushwood, called in Spanish carrasco; blue mountains are, however, seen towering up in the far distance, which relieve the scenery from the monotony which would otherwise pervade it.
It was at this town of Badajoz, the capital of Estremadura, that I first fell in with those singular people, the Zincali, Gitános, or Spanish gipsies. It was here I met with the wild Paco, the man with the withered arm, who wielded the cachas (shears) with his left hand; his shrewd wife, Antonio, skilled in hokkano baro, or the great trick; the fierce gipsy, Antonio Lopez, their father-in-law; and many other almost equally singular individuals of the Errate, or gipsy blood. It was here that I first preached the gospel to the gipsy people, and commenced that translation of the New Testament in the Spanish gipsy tongue, a portion of which I subsequently printed at Madrid.
After a stay of three weeks at Badajoz, I prepared to depart for Madrid; late one afternoon, as I was arranging my scanty baggage, the gipsy Antonio entered my apartment, dressed in his zamarra and high-peaked Andalusian hat.
Antonio.--Good-evening, brother; they tell me that on the callicaste (day after to-morrow) you intend to set out for Madrilati.
Myself.--Such is my intention; I can stay here no longer.
Antonio.--The way is far to Madrilati: there are, moreover, wars in the land, and many chories (thieves) walk about; are you not afraid to journey?
Myself.--I have no fears; every man must accomplish his destiny: what befals my body or soul was written in a gabicote (book) a thousand years before the foundation of the world.
Antonio.--I have no fears myself, brother; the dark night is the same to me as the fair day, and the wild carrascal as the market-place or the chardy (fair); I have got the bar lachi in my bosom, the precious stone to which sticks the needle.
Myself.--You mean the loadstone, I suppose. Do you believe that a lifeless stone can preserve you from the dangers which occasionally threaten your life?
Antonio.--Brother, I am fifty years old, and you see me standing before you in life and strength; how could that be unless the bar lachi had power? I have been soldier and contrabandista, and I have likewise slain and robbed the Busné. The bullets of the Gabiné (French)