Gipsy’s Story

Gipsy’s Story

First published as « Sharing her crime ».

A strange and rebel girl has many adventures.

Follow her on them.

You will like this book!

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The Astrologer

Having assured himself that all danger was past, Doctor Wiseman was about to start from the building, when a sudden moonbeam fell on the polished door-plate, and he started back to see the name it revealed.

"The astrologer, Ali Hamed!" he exclaimed. "Now what foul fiend has driven me to his accursed den tonight? 'Tis said he can read the future. And surely no man ever needed to know it more than I.

Can it be that the hand of destiny has driven me here, to show me what is yet to come. Well, it is useless going home or attempting to sleep tonight. So, Ali Hamed, I shall try what your magical black art can do for me."

He rang the bell sharply, but moment after moment passed, and no one came. Losing all patience, he again rang a deafening peal, which echoed and re-echoed through the house.

Presently the sound of footsteps clattering down stairs struck his ear, and in a moment more the door was cautiously opened, and a dark, swarthy face protruded through the opening. Seeing but one, he stood aside to allow him to enter, and then securely locked and bolted the door.

"The astrologer, Ali Hamed, resides here?" said the doctor.

Accustomed to visitors at all hours of the day and night, the man betrayed no surprise at the unreasonable time he had taken to inquire, but answered quietly in the affirmative.

"Can I see him?"

"I think so. Step in here one moment, and I will see."

He ushered Dr. Wiseman into a small and plainly furnished parlor, while he again went up stairs. In a few moments he reappeared, and, bidding his visitor follow him, led the way up the long staircase through a spacious suite of apartments, and finally into a long, dark room, where the astrologer usually received visitors.

The doctor glanced around with intense curiosity, not unmingled with awe. The floor was painted black, and the walls were hung with dark tapestry, covered with all manner of cabalistic figures. Skulls, crucibles, magic mirrors, tame serpents, vipers, and all manner of hideous things were scattered profusely around.

While the doctor still stood contemplating the strange things around him, the door opened and the astrologer himself entered. He was an imposing-looking personage, tall and majestic, with grave, Asiatic features, and arrayed with Eastern magnificence.

He bent his head with grave dignity in return to the doctor's profound bow, and stood for a few moments silently regarding him.

"You would know the future?" said the astrologer, at length, in his slow, impressive voice.

"Such is my business here tonight."

"You would have your horoscope cast, probably?"


"Then give me the day and hour of your birth, and return tomorrow morning."

"No, I cannot wait until then. I must know all tonight."

The astrologer bowed, and after many tedious preliminaries, directed the doctor to quit the room until he should send for him. Dr. Wiseman then entered one of the long suite of apartments through which he had passed, and seated himself in a state of feverish anxiety to hear the result.

Some time elapsed ere the swarthy individual who had admitted him presented himself at the door and announced that the astrologer was ready to receive him.

Dr. Wiseman found Ali Hamed standing beside a smoking caldron, with his cross-bones, and lizards, and mystic figures around him, awaiting his entrance.

Not much given to credulity, the doctor determined to test his skill before placing implicit belief in his predictions. And therefore, bluntly announcing his skepticism, he demanded to know something of the past.

"You are a widower, with one child," said the astrologer, calmly.

The doctor bowed assent.

"You are not rich, but avaricious. There is nothing you would not do for money. You are liked by none. By nature you are treacherous, cunning, and unscrupulous; your hands are dyed, and your heart is black with crime. You…"

"Enough!" interrupted the doctor, turning as pale as his saffron visage would permit; "no more of the past. What has the future in store for me?"

"A life of disgrace, and death on the scaffold!"

A suppressed cry of horror burst from the white lips of the doctor, who reeled as if struck by some sudden blow.

"Tonight," continued the astrologer, unheeding the interruption, "a child has been born whose destiny shall be united with yours through life. Some strange, mystic tie will bind you together for a time. But the hand of this child will yet bring your head to the halter."

He paused. Dr. Wiseman stood stiff, rooted to the ground with horror.

"Such is your future, you may go," said the Egyptian, waving his hand.

With his blood freezing in his veins, with hands trembling and lips palsied with horror, he quitted the house. An hour had scarcely passed since his entrance. But that hour seemed to have added ten years to his age.

He felt not the cold, keen air as he slowly moved along, every sense paralyzed by the appalling prediction he had just heard.

"Die on the scaffold!" His crime deserved it. But the bare thought made his blood run cold. And through a child born that night he was to perish! Was it the child of Esther Oranmore? Oh, absurd! it had been swept far away by the waves long ere this.

Whose, then, could it be? There were more children born this Christmas Eve than that one. But how could any one ever know what he had done? No one knew of it but Mrs. Oranmore. And he well knew she would never tell.

He plunged blindly onward through the heaps of drifted snow, heeding not, caring not, whither his steps wended. Once or twice he met a watchman going his rounds, and he shrank away like the guilty thing that he was, dreading lest the word "murder" should be stamped on his brow.

He thought with cowardly terror of the coming day, when every eye, he fancied, would turn upon him with a look of suspicion.

Involuntarily he wandered to the sea-shore, and stood on the bank where he had been one hour before. The waves were dashing now almost to his feet. No trace of any living thing was to be seen around.

"It has perished, then!" he exclaimed, with a feeling of intense relief. "I knew it! I knew it! It, then, is not the child which is to cause my death. But, pshaw! why do I credit all that soi-disant prophet told me!

Yet he spoke so truly of the past, I cannot avoid believing him. Perish on the scaffold! Heavens! if I felt sure of it, I would go mad. Ha! what is that? Can it be the ghastly white face of a child?"

He leaned over and bent down to see, but nothing met his eye save the white caps of the waves.

"Fool that I am!" he exclaimed, turning away impatiently. "Well might stony Madam Oranmore deem me a coward did she see me now. I will hasten back to her, and report the success of my mission."

He turned away, and strode in the direction of her house as fast as he could walk over the frozen ground, quite unconscious of what was at that same moment passing in another quarter of the city on that same eventful night.