The Gipsy Prophecy by Bram Stoker
'I really think.' said the Doctor, 'that, at any rate, one of us
should go and try whether or not the thing is an imposture.'
'Good!' said Considine. 'After dinner we will take our cigars and
stroll over to the camp.'
Accordingly, when the dinner was over, and the La Tour
finished, Joshua Considine and his friend, Dr Burleigh, went over to
the east side of the moor, where the gipsy encampment lay. As they were
leaving, Mary Considine, who had walked as far as the end of the garden
where it opened into the laneway, called after her husband:
'Mind, Joshua, you are to give them a fair chance, but don't give
them any clue to a fortune--and don't you get flirting with any of the
gipsy maidens--and take care to keep Gerald out of harm.'
For answer Considine held up his hand, as if taking a stage oath,
and whistled the air of the old song, 'The Gipsy Countess.' Gerald
joined in the strain, and then, breaking into merry laughter, the two
men passed along the laneway to the common, turning now and then to
wave their hands to Mary, who leaned over the gate, in the twilight,
looking after them.
It was a lovely evening in the summer; the very air was full of rest
and quiet happiness, as though an outward type of the peacefulness and
joy which made a heaven of the home of the young married folk.
Considine's life had not been an eventful one. The only disturbing
element which he had ever known was in his wooing of Mary Winston, and
the long-continued objection of her ambitious parents, who expected a
brilliant match for their only daughter. When Mr. and Mrs. Winston had
discovered the attachment of the young barrister, they had tried to
keep the young people apart by sending their daughter away for a long
round of visits, having made her promise not to correspond with her
lover during her absence. Love, however, had stood the test. Neither
absence nor neglect seemed to cool the passion of the young man, and
jealousy seemed a thing unknown to his sanguine nature; so, after a
long period of waiting, the parents had given in, and the young folk
They had been living in the cottage a few months, and were just
beginning to feel at home. Gerald Burleigh, Joshua's old college chum,
and himself a sometime victim of Mary's beauty, had arrived a week
before, to stay with them for as long a time as he could tear himself
away from his work in London.
When her husband had quite disappeared Mary went into the house,
and, sitting down at the piano, gave an hour to Mendelssohn.
It was but a short walk across the common, and before the cigars
required renewing the two men had reached the gipsy camp. The place was
as picturesque as gipsy camps--when in villages and when business is
good--usually are. There were some few persons round the fire,
investing their money in prophecy, and a large number of others, poorer
or more parsimonious, who stayed just outside the bounds but near
enough to see all that went on.
As the two gentlemen approached, the villagers, who knew Joshua,
made way a little, and a pretty, keen-eyed gipsy girl tripped up and
asked to tell their fortunes. Joshua held out his hand, but the girl,
without seeming to see it, stared at his face in a very odd manner.
Gerald nudged him:
'You must cross her hand with silver,' he said. 'It is one of the
most important parts of the mystery.' Joshua took from his pocket a
half-crown and held it out to her, but, without looking at it, she
'You have to cross the gipsy's hand with gold.'
Gerald laughed. 'You are at a premium as a subject,' he said. Joshua
was of the kind of man--the universal kind--who can tolerate being
stared at by a pretty girl; so, with some little deliberation, he
'All right; here you are, my pretty girl; but you must give me a
real good fortune for it,' and he handed her a half sovereign, which
she took, saying:
'It is not for me to give good fortune or bad, but only to read what
the Stars have said.' She took his right hand and turned it palm
upward; but the instant her eyes met it she dropped it as though it had
been red hot, and, .with a startled look, glided swiftly away. Lifting
the curtain of the large tent, which occupied the centre of the camp,
she disappeared within.
'Sold again!' said the cynical Gerald. Joshua stood a little amazed,
and not altogether satisfied. They both watched the large tent. In a
few moments there emerged from the opening not the young girl, but a
stately looking woman of middle age and commanding presence.
The instant she appeared the whole camp seemed to stand still. The
clamour of tongues, the laughter and noise of the work were, for a
second or two, arrested, and every man or woman who sat, or crouched,
or lay, stood up and faced the imperial looking gipsy.
'The Queen, of course,' murmured Gerald. 'We are in luck tonight.'
The gipsy Queen threw a searching glance around the camp, and then,
without hesitating an instant, came straight over and stood before
'Hold out your hand,' she said in a commanding lone.
Again Gerald spoke, sotto voce: 'I have not been spoken to in
that way since I was at school.'
'Your hand must be crossed with gold.'
'A hundred per cent, at this game,' whispered Gerald, as Joshua laid
another half sovereign on his upturned palm.
The gipsy looked at the hand with knitted brows; then suddenly
looking up into his face, said:
'Have you a strong will--have you a true heart that can be brave for
one you love?'
'I hope so; but I am afraid I have not vanity enough to say "yes".'
'Then I will answer for you; for I read resolution in your
face--resolution desperate and determined if need be. You have a wife
'Then leave her at once--never see her face again. Go from her now,
while love is fresh and your heart is free from wicked intent. Go
quick--go far, and never see her face again!'
Joshua drew away his hand quickly, and said, 'Thank you!' stiffly
but sarcastically, as he began to move away.
'I say!' said Gerald, 'you're not going like that, old man; no use
in being indignant with the Stars or their wife. Why, it would be the
beginning of a new order of things between us. We have no secrets from
each other. If we ever have, then you may begin to look out for
something odd between us.'
'Still,' said Gerald, 'at the risk of unwelcome interference, I say
again be warned in time,'
'The gipsy's very words,' said Joshua. 'You and she seem quite of
one accord. Tell me, old man, is this a put-up thing? You told me of
the gipsy camp--did you arrange it all with Her Majesty?' This was said
with an air of bantering earnestness. Gerald assured him that he only
heard of the camp that morning; but he made fun of every answer of his
friend, and, in the process of this raillery, the time passed, and they
entered the cottage.
Mary was sitting at the piano but not playing. The dim twilight had
waked some very tender feelings in her breast, and her eyes were full
of gentle tears. When the men came in she stole over to her husband's
side and kissed him. Joshua struck a tragic attitude.
'Mary,' he said in a deep voice, 'before you approach me, listen to
the words of Fate. The Stars have spoken and the doom is sealed.'
'What is it, dear? Tell me the fortune, but do not frighten me.'
'Not at all, my dear; but there is a truth which it is well that you
should know. Nay, it is necessary so that all your arrangements can be
made beforehand, and everything be decently done and in order.'
'Go on, dear; I am listening.'
'Mary Considine, your effigy may yet be seen at Madame Tussaud's.
The juris-imprudent Stars have announced their fell tidings that this
hand is red with blood--your blood. Mary! Mary! my God!' He sprang
forward, but too late to catch her as she fell fainting on the floor.
'I told you,' said Gerald. 'You don't know them as well as I do.'
After a little while Mary recovered from her swoon, but only to fall
into strong hysterics, in which she laughed and wept and raved and
cried. 'Keep him from me--from me, Joshua, my husband,' and many other
words of entreaty and of fear.
Joshua Considine was in a state of mind bordering on agony, and when
at last Mary became calm he knelt by her and kissed her feet and hands
and hair and called her all the sweet names and said all the tender
things his lips could frame. All that night he sat by her bedside and
held her hand. Far through the night and up to the early morning she
kept waking from sleep and crying out as if in fear, till she was
comforted by the consciousness that her husband was watching beside her.
Breakfast was late the next morning, but during it Joshua received a
telegram which required him to drive over to Withering, nearly twenty
miles. He was loathe to go; but Mary would not hear of his remaining,
and so before noon he drove off in his dog-cart alone.
When he was gone Mary retired to her room. She did not appear at
lunch, but when afternoon tea was served on the lawn under the great
weeping willow, she came to join her guest. She was looking quite
recovered from her illness of the evening before. After some casual
remarks, she said to Gerald: 'Of course it was very silly about last
night, but I could not help feeling frightened. Indeed I would feel so
still if I let myself think of it. But, after all, these people may
only imagine things, and I have got a test that can hardly fail to show
that the prediction is false--if indeed it be false,' she added sadly.
'What is your plan?' asked Gerald.
'I shall go myself to the gipsy camp, and have my fortune told by
'Capital. May I go with you?'
'Oh, no! That would spoil it. She might know you and guess at me,
and suit her utterance accordingly. I shall go alone this afternoon.'
When the afternoon was gone Mary Considine took her way to the gipsy
encampment. Gerald went with her as far as the near edge of the common,
and returned alone.
Half-an-hour had hardly elapsed when Mary entered the drawing-room,
where he lay on a sofa reading. She was ghastly pale and was in a state
of extreme excitement. Hardly had she passed over the threshold when
she collapsed and sank moaning on the carpet. Gerald rushed to aid her,
but by a great effort she controlled herself and motioned him to be
silent. He waited, and his ready attention to her wish seemed to be her
best help, for, in a few minutes, she had somewhat recovered, and was
able to tell him what had passed.
'When I got to the camp,' she said, 'there did not seem to be a soul
about. I went into the centre and stood there. Suddenly a tall woman
stood beside me. "Something told me I was wanted!" she said. I held out
my hand and laid a piece of silver on it. She took from her neck a
small golden trinket and laid it there also; and then, seizing the two,
threw them into the stream that ran by. Then she took my hand in hers
and spoke: "Naught but blood in this guilty place," and turned away. I
caught hold of her and asked her to tell me more. After some
hesitation, she said: "Alas! alas! I see you lying at your husband's
feet, and his hands are red with blood".'
Gerald did not feel at all at ease, and tried to laugh it off.
'Surely.' he said, 'this woman has a craze about murder.'
'Do not laugh,' said Mary, 'I cannot bear it,' and then, as if with
a sudden impulse, she left the room.
Not long after Joshua returned, bright and cheery, and as hungry as
a hunter after his long drive. His presence cheered his wife, who
seemed much brighter, but she did not mention the episode of the visit
to the gipsy camp, so Gerald did not mention it either. As if by tacit
consent the subject was not alluded to during the evening. But there
was a strange, settled look on Mary's face, which Gerald could not but
In the morning Joshua came down to breakfast later than usual. Mary
had been up and about the house from an early hour; but as the time
drew on she seemed to get a little nervous and now and again threw
around an anxious look.
Gerald could not help noticing that none of those at breakfast could
get on satisfactorily with their food. It was not altogether that the
chops were tough, but that the knives were all so blunt. Being a guest,
he, of course, made no sign; but presently saw Joshua draw his thumb
across the edge of his knife in an unconscious sort of way. At the
action Mary turned pale and almost fainted.
After breakfast they all went out on the lawn. Mary was making up a
bouquet, and said to her husband, "Get me a few of the tea-roses, dear.'
Joshua pulled down a cluster from the front of the house. The stem
bent, but was too tough to break. He put his hand in his pocket to get
his knife; but in vain.