The Gypsy - part 2
For a few seconds after I returned to the table neither of us spoke. I was quite sure that the gypsy was smoldering at her lack of success with Gladys. She turned to me, "She is not a good friend," just the opposite of what she’d said earlier when Gladys was still a prospective customer. "Beware of her. I see a lot of’ jealousy. I see it in her aura. She is very jealous of you." Not likely, I thought, but decided not to defend her out loud because I didn’t want the gypsy to get annoyed with me too.
"I’d like two yards of that lace," I said again to change the subject. I’d already taken £6 from my purse during the time she was talking to Gladys.
"Get some scissors," she said. I obediently trotted off to my bedroom to get my sharp dressmaking scissors. She measured out two arm lengths of the lace and cut it. "Here," she said, handing it to me, "and don’t cut it, will you?" I didn't ask her why not, but assumed that the luck was more potent in a bigger piece.
The gypsy lady had blue eyes which rather surprised me as the rest of her appearance was so very dark. They were penetrating and direct, forceful and almost hypnotizing, yet when she prophesied or looked into the past she looked not at me but to the side of me at a spot of blank wall just above the cooker.
The lace business completed, her revelations began again. Her voice was so low and flat-toned that I found it hard to understand I asked her to repeat once and she got very annoyed. "You will get some money that you haven’t earned early in the new year. " Then she said, "You will get a new car and you will not have an accident in it."
Then she started talking about men again. "There is an older man who thinks about you a lot. Do you know who I mean?"
"No," I said as quickly went over the older men I knew who I thought might have some interest in me, including my brother-in-law in the States, 15 years my senior. But I noted also that while before she hadn’t been sure if it had been an older or a younger man, now she was definite that it was an older one. "Unless you mean my husband," I added. "He’s quite a bit older than me."
"No," she shouted, "not your husband. This is an older man from far away. He thinks of’ you a great deal." She sure didn’t like to be questioned or contradicted.
"You worry too much," the gypsy repeated. "Your husband is a good man. He has worries with his work and he doesn’t tell you about them because he doesn’t want to upset you. He loves you very much but he can't express it very well because he doesn’t know how to."
"What do you want to ask me?" was the next question from the gypsy, suddenly being very generous. I didn’t know what to ask. I couldn’t think of anything. She’d already said so much that my mind was in a whirl. "Do you have any special worries?" she demanded. "Hurry, don’t keep me waiting."
I ventured timidly, "About my son, I worry about my son, but you already told me that my children would all do well."
"Ah, yes," the gypsy went on, "he is very clever, your son. He is gifted. Very intelligent but not so easy for you to understand." She now became friendly, gentle, understanding. "He has the gift, your son. He will work things out. He will succeed. He will be successful at his business by the time he is forty. You don’t need to worry about him. You worry too much. Leave him alone more. Don’t force him to your ways. All your children will do well and be happy. Your youngest daughter will be a teacher or a nurse." Then she returned to the subject of my son. "He is very like you," she said, "but he has the gift. You should have had the gift but you don’t."
She then said, "Let me read your palm." Noticing my hesitation, she added, "It won't cost you anything." I agreed and she told me to come to the chair next to her. She lifted my left hand, palm up. Hers were big and blunt-ended, but not rough and dirty as I’d thought they would be. I’d noticed before that her clothes were clean and she didn’t smell as I’d half expected her to, thinking of the sort of’ life gypsies are supposed to lead. She traced the longest line in my hand. "That is your happiness line," she said and would have gone on, but I interrupted her. "Oh, I thought that one was the lifeline."
"No," she said, and pointed to a. smaller, less distinguishable-looking line, saying, "that is your life line." I expected her to go on then and tell me the usual gypsy line about having a long and happy life, but she abruptly changed the subject.
"I’ll give you three wishes," she said. This is silly, I thought. I’m not Cinderella and you certainly aren't my fairy godmother. "But first," she added, "go and get the four biggest denomination bank notes that you have in the house."
I felt very uneasy by this new departure. "I haven’t any more money in the house," I lied.
"Oh, yes you have," she said menacingly, leaning towards me with a nasty glint in her eye. "You have it hidden away in the cupboard in your bedroom. Go and get it," she shouted.
"But I’ve only got three £5 notes left," I protested, "as I’ve given you my other money for the lace."
"Well, go and get the five pound notes," she said disgustedly and I feebly went off to do as I was told. But suddenly I was really frightened. This woman had such control over me. I think I would have found it difficult to fight her off if it came to that. She was canny and very alert. I thought she might steal all that she could get into her bag, and call her friends to fill their bags too. I braced myself to re-enter the kitchen. She was standing by the window - looking across into Gladys’ house. She didn't say anything and waddled slowly back to the kitchen table and sat down heavily and wearily. I was once again ready to be putty in her hands. She motioned me back into the chair where I had been sitting previously.
"Now squeeze the notes in your left hand," she said, and I did it. "Repeat after me. I make these wishes on our Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour (You never wish on money,)" she added as an extra explanation,"(only on God and yourself) according to this Roman Catholic Romany gypsy." I duly repeated every phrase feeling very silly. It went on and on and I can’t remember the rest. Then I was to shut my eyes and make my wishes. I couldn’t think very clearly but decided that happiness for my three children would count and be easy and couldn’t harm anyone. When I had finished and had opened my eyes she said, "You didn’t tell me your wishes did you?
"No," I agreed.
"You’ve never seen me before, have you?"
"You wished for happiness, didn’t you"
"You wished it for your children, didn’t you?"
She seemed very pleased with her success. I was impressed anyway, which made it shake me even more when her next statement was "Which do you value more, the happiness of your children or the notes in your hand?"
Although I will admit that I think I really was under her spell I was also determined not to be taken in again. I said to her, "That’s not fair. You told me that it wouldn’t cost me any money when you offered to tell my fortune. I need that money to buy food. It’s all the money I have," I said bravely.
"Then," she spit out disgustedly, "put it back in your purse." But somehow I got the impression that she hadn’t really expected me to let her have the extra five pound notes. She just felt obliged to try it on. She sort of half-grinned. "Have you got a cigarette?" she asked. I produced the half pack that I’d brought out earlier. "I’ll give these to you," I said. "My husband doesn’t like me to smoke anyway." I went to get her a light. When she had it lit, she took a deep satisfying drag on the cigarette, and visibly relaxed.
"Ask me something more," she said coercingly. Perhaps she wanted to show that she didn’t harbour any hard feelings over my refusal to pay for my wishes. But my mind was a. blank. What did I want to know? What would I believe anyway?
"Will we always live in this house?" I asked.
"I’m glad you finally asked me that," she said giving a wide grin and showing her huge crooked teeth. "I’ve been waiting for you to ask that. I know it’s on your mind a lot. You don’t like this house. You don’t like living in this house. You won’t always live here. You will move in (a pause while she considered) eighteen months."
Then softly, almost affectionately she added, "You had a good mother. You have a family at home that thinks of you often and cares for you." I agreed. "There was unhappiness at your wedding," she added which was also somewhat true. We were married in America, so Phil’s parents couldn’t attend, and that upset them. My family were upset because they knew we planned on living in England. Both sets of parents would have preferred us to pick someone to marry from our own countries.
"You work hard," she said, and I almost laughed out loud. I’m not well known for industry. "You like to write with pen and paper. You go to bed late." Now the writing was fairly easy to guess, because I’d been writing letters before Gladys came over for coffee and the air letter forms were still in plain view on top of the refrigerator. But I do like to write and do a lot of it, which certainly couldn’t be said of everyone. As far as the staying up late, that wasn’t really true. I go to bed fairly early by most people’s standards, but often don’t go to sleep until well after midnight. Maybe she thought I looked tired.
"Would you like some coffee?" I asked her, more relaxed now that the fortune telling aspects seemed to be over.
"Could you make it for four?" she said. "I have three other friends outside who’d all like a cup. I’ll go out and find them." As she got to the door she looked back and said, "We’ll pay for it and drink it outside."
"That's not necessary," I said, rather embarrassed to think she'd consider me the sort of person who’d offer a drink and then make people pay for it. I put the kettle on and put some more biscuits in the dish on the table. When she came hack she said she couldn’t see her friends.
"Have you some clothes from across the sea that you’ll not be wanting, for my children?’ she asked.
"Well, I have some clothes you can have, but not children’s clothes." I went into my room and got out some dresses and shoes of mine that I didn’t wear very often. "You can have these," I said. Then thinking the gypsy wouldn’t fit into my dresses and I couldn’t see her wearing suede high heels, I added, "Perhaps you can sell them."
"No we don’t do that," she said firmly. "We look after our own," and she stuffed the clothes into her bag.
"I’ll make you a cup of coffee now," I offered, reluctant to let her go. I had almost forgotten that ten minutes earlier I had been considering calling the police to get her out of my house.
"No," she said and started to the door. Then she turned back. "You gave me that money freely, didn’t you?"
"Yes, of course," I replied.
"God bless you and give you good luck. When I go out you won't have any worries anymore."
"Goodbye and thank you."
Gladys rang shortly after she had left. "Are you all right?"
"Yes," I said, "she’s gone."
"I didn’t want to go into the kitchen or she’d see me through the window and know where I lived. I thought if I rang you up and you wanted to get rid of her you could always pretend it was something about the children being hurt at school and you had to rush down there. They’re so hard to get rid of sometimes."
"Yes," I agreed. Then I added, ‘I wasn’t really scared, but I’m glad now that she’s gone." Yet, even though I had said I hadn’t been scared, as I hung up I realized that my legs were trembling, my hands were shaking, my heart was beating very rapidly. I sat down shakily and thought about all the things the gypsy had told me. My husband would say I had been a fool, I thought. Nothing the gypsy had said was specific enough to make me say that I really believed that she had any special ability to know about me. What she’d said could have applied to many people in our area, and no doubt she was clever at reading my reactions, and added in things accordingly. But somehow I didn’t mind that I’d been a fool. I had liked her and I was glad that she had come.
P.S. I sat down at the typewriter and wrote out every word that she said as soon as she left. From time to time, I take out what I wrote to see how much of what she said has come true, or whether she was just a fraud. Gladys died a few years ago, after having dementia for many years, well short of a hundred. She'd had no more marriages, and I had had no more children. My children are all well and seem happy enough. My youngest daughter is a teacher, and my son, in the computing business, although currently unemployed. We did get a new car, and I haven't had a car accident since, although I had had two before. And we did move house, the decision being made almost exactly 18 months later as she had predicted. I hadn't wanted to move, so it hadn't been planned that way by me. I did get some unearned money just after Christmas, but it was only £20 - not quite what I had hoped for. I put the lace (without cutting it) on the bottom of a dress for my youngest daughter, and she still has it.