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NAN OF THE GYPSIES***


E-text prepared by Stephen Hutcheson, Roger Frank, and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team (http://www.pgdp.net)









_Five minutes later these two joyful gypsies started away in a covered
wagon._
(Page 233)


NAN OF THE GYPSIES

by

GRACE MAY NORTH







The Saalfield Publishing Company
Akron, Ohio New York

Copyright MCMXXVI
The Saalfield Publishing Company
Made in the United States of America




CONTENTS


CHAPTER PAGE
I. Gypsy Nan. 3
II. The Garden-all-aglow. 10
III. Good-bye Little Tirol. 17
IV. Nan Escapes. 24
V. Nan Revisits the Garden. 30
VI. Only a Gypsy-girl. 35
VII. Civilizing Gypsy Nan. 42
VIII. Nan's Punishment. 50
IX. The Lad Next Door. 56
X. "Lady Red Bird." 65
XI. The Doctor Takes a Hand. 73
XII. A Pleasant Call. 77
XIII. Mysterious Revelations. 85
XIV. The Mountain Ride. 93
XV. Sudden Changes. 103
XVI. School Girls. 110
XVII. Old Memories Revived. 115
XVIII. A Gypsy Camp. 123
XIX. An Enemy. 127
XX. Nan Disappointed. 133
XXI. The Power of Loving-kindness. 137
XXII. The Contest Recital. 143
XXIII. A Joyous Invitation. 147
XXIV. Nan's First Masquerade. 154
XXV. Nan's Decision. 161
XXVI. Nan's Eighteenth Birthday. 168
XXVII. Nan's Sudden Responsibility. 175
XXVIII. The Valedictorian. 179
XXIX. Faithful Friends. 183
XXX. Nan as Housekeeper. 190
XXXI. Nan's Problem. 194
XXXII. Surprising Things Happen. 201
XXXIII. The Thanksgiving Ride. 205
XXXIV. A Happy Surprise. 210
XXXV. An Unexpected Arrival. 220
XXXVI. Nan's Trousseau. 224
XXXVII. Nan's Wedding. 231




NAN OF THE GYPSIES




CHAPTER I.
GYPSY NAN.


One glorious autumn day, when the pale mellow gold of the sunshine
softened the ruggedness of the encircling mountains and lay caressingly
on the gnarled live oaks, on the sky-reaching eucalyptus, and on the
red-berried pepper trees, a tinkling of bells was heard on the long
highway that led into the little garden village of San Seritos, half
asleep by the gleaming blue Pacific. A gypsy caravan, consisting of three
covered wagons drawn by teams of six mules, and followed by a string of
horses, drew to one side of the road and stopped. A band of nut-brown,
fox-like children scrambled down and began to race about, the older ones
gathering sticks for the camp fire which they knew would soon be needed.

Four men, aquiline nosed, and with black hair hanging in ringlets to
their shoulders, and as many women, gaudily dressed, with red and yellow
silk handkerchiefs wound about their heads, prepared to make camp for the
night.

It was a fittingly picturesque spot for a clump of gnarled live oaks grew
about a spring of clear, cold water, which, fed from some hidden source,
was never dry.

A quarter of a mile away lay the first of the beautiful estates and homes
of Spanish architecture, for which San Seritos was far famed.

One of the gypsy women paused at her task to shade her eyes and gaze back
over the highway as though expecting someone.

A mis-shapen goblin-like boy tugged on her sleeve, and with a wistful
expression in his dark eyes, he whispered, "Manna Lou, Nan hasn't run
away again, has she?"

"I don' no," the gypsy answered, drearily. "Maybe yes and maybe not."

A moment later, when the woman had returned to her task, there was a
screaming of delight among the fox-like children, and Tirol, the
mis-shapen boy, cried in a thrill glad voice, "Here she comes, Manna Lou!
Here comes Gypsy Nan."

Toward them down the mountain drive, galloping on a spirited mottled
pony, rode a beautiful young girl of thirteen, her long black hair,
straight to her shoulders, suddenly broke into a riot of ringlets and
hung to her waist. Her gown and headdress were as bright as maple leaves
in Autumn, and her dark brown eyes were laughing with merriment and
mischief.

As she sprang from her pony, the gypsy children leaped upon her, uttering
animal-like cries of joy, but Tirol, hobbling to her side, caught her
warm brown hand in his thin claw-like one and looked up at her with
adoration in his hungering black eyes as he said: "I was 'fraid, Sister
Nan, 'fraid you had gone again, and maybe this time for good."

The gypsy girl knelt impulsively and caught the mis-shapen boy in her
arms, and her eyes flashed as she said passionately: "Little Tirol, Nan
will never, never go for good as long as you need her to protect you from
that wicked Anselo Spico. I hate him, hate him, because he abuses a poor
boy who can't grow strong and defend himself, but he won't strike you
again, little Tirol, unless he strikes me first."

"Hush!" warningly whispered Cyra, a small gypsy girl. "Here comes Spico.
He's been ahead to look over the village."

It was evident by the suspending work in the camp that the approaching
horseman was someone of importance in their midst. A Romany rye was he,
dressed in blue corduroy with a scarlet sash at his waist and a soft
scarlet ribbon knotted about his broad brimmed felt hat.

His dark, handsome face, which, when in repose had an expression of
either vanity or cruelty, was smiling as he dismounted from his spirited
black horse.

Gypsy Nan, who had been standing in the shadow of a live oak with
protecting arms about the goblin-like Tirol breathed a sigh of relief,
for the hated Spico was evidently in the best of spirits. He called gayly
after the tall gypsy lad who was leading his horse away: "Soobli, where
is Mizella, your queen? Call her forth, I have good news to tell."

While he was talking the curtains of the largest van were pushed apart,
an old hag-like gypsy appeared, and, with much groaning, made her way
down the wooden steps to the ground. There she leaned heavily on a cane,
and hobbling toward her son, asked eagerly: "What's the pickings like to
be, Spico? Is it a rich gorigo town?"

"Rich, Mother Mizella?" the handsome young rye repeated. "The gorigo
around here has his pockets lined with gold and will spend it freely if
he is amused. You women dress in your gayest and start out tomorrow with
your tambourines. You will gather in much money with your fortune telling
and we men in the village will not be idle."

Then, going to the camp fire, over which a small pig was being roasted,
he asked, looking around sharply. "Where is leicheen Nan? If she has run
away again, I'll - "

"No, no, Nan hasn't run away," the gypsy woman, Manna Lou, hastened to
say. "She's here, Spico. Come Nan, dearie," she called pleadingly. "Come
and speak pleasant."

The girl, with a defiant flashing of her dark eyes, stepped out of the
shadow of a low-branching live oak and stood in the full light of the
camp fire.

"Leicheen Nan," the Romany rye said, and his words were a command,
"tomorrow you will go to the village and dance at the gorigo inn. You
have idled long enough."

It was the gypsy woman, Manna Lou, who replied. "Not yet, Spico," she
implored in a wheedling tone - "Nan is only a little gothlin. Wait until
she is grown."

Before the angered young rye could answer, Mizella hobbled to the camp
fire and snarled angrily: "I am queen. My word is law. That
good-for-nothing leicheen Nan shall do as my son says."

The girl stepped back into the shadow, her heart rebellious. She said
nothing, but she was determined that she would not obey.

The men then sat about the fire and were served by the women, who, with
the children afterwards ate what was left.

The moon came up, and Nan, nymph-like, danced up a grassy hill back of
the camp. A throng of wild, fox-like little children scrambled up after
her. "A story. Tell us a story, Nanny," they called. The girl paused,
turned and seeing the crippled Tirol struggling to climb the hill, she
ran back, lifted him to her strong young shoulder and carried him to the
top of the knoll. There they all sat together, many bright black eyes
watching while Nan told them a story. A fanciful tale it was of how a
gypsy princess had been cruelly treated by a wicked man like Anselo
Spico. How he had shut the princess and six other gypsy girls, who had
defied him, in a van without horses and had let it roll down a cliff road
into the sea. "But they were not drowned, for the spirits of the
sea-spray carried them up to the sky, and any clear night you can see
that gypsy princess and the six gypsy girls dancing in their bright
crimson and gold shawls and you call it the sun-set."

Tirol, always the most intense of Nan's listeners leaned forward and
asked in a low whisper: "What did the sea-spray spirits do to - to that
wicked Romany rye?"

"That night," the gypsy girl said in a low voice of mystery, "he went to
the top of a cliff to make sure the van had gone into the sea, and it
had, for it lay broken in the surf. Then the sea-spray spirits lifted a
wave as high as a hill and it swept over the cliff and that wicked Romany
rye was seen no more."

Tirol's black eyes glowed in the moonlight and his frail hand was
trembling as Nan took it to lift him again to her shoulder.

"Steal back soft-like, so he won't know we left camp," she warned.
Crouching low, the file of little fox-like children crept back of trees
and brush until the vans were reached, then darted between the flaps and
crawled, without undressing, into their bunk-like beds, all but Nan and
Tirol. The gypsy girl felt smothered if she slept in the van.




CHAPTER II.
THE GARDEN-ALL-AGLOW.


Before day break, Gypsy Nan awakened the goblin-like boy. Rolled in
blankets they had slept in the shelter of the live oak trees and close to
the warm coals of the camp fire.

"Come Tirol," she whispered, glancing at the wagons, to see if anyone was
astir, "we must go now, for Nan isn't going to dance at the inn for the
gorigo. And you must come, too, else that wicked Anselo Spico will make
you stand on a corner and beg, making money out of your poor little bent
body that's always a-hurting you."

With many backward glances the two children stole away to where the mules
and ponies were corralled. After carefully lifting the frail boy to the
back of the mottled horse, Binnie, Nan mounted, and together they
galloped down the coast highway. The last star had faded, the grey in the
East was brightening, and then suddenly the sun, in a burst of glory
appeared and the sky and sea flamed rose and amethyst. The dark eyes of
the girl glowed with appreciation and joy, and she started singing a
wild, glad song to a melody of her own creating.

They had gone perhaps a mile from camp and away from the town when Nan
suddenly drew rein and listened. She heard the beating of hoofs behind
them, but the riders were hidden by the curve in the road.

Whirling her pony's head she turned down into a canyon that led to the
shore. There she concealed her horse and with Tirol she lay close to the
sand.

Two horsemen passed on the highway, and, as she had surmised, one was
Anselo Spico. She thought they were hunting for her but she was mistaken.
In the village the Romany rye had heard of a rich gorigo whose horses
were of the finest breed and whose stables were but slightly guarded, and
it was to inspect this place that they were going.

True, Mizella's son had noticed Nan's absence that morning but he knew
that she would return and he was planning a cruel punishment which he
would administer for her defiance and disobedience.

Nan remained in hiding until she could no longer hear the beating of the
hoofs, then she said gaily - "Look Tirol, the sand is hard on the beach.
I'll lift you up again, dearie, and we'll ride along by the sea."

The boy laughed happily as they rode, so close to the waves that now and
then one broke about the pony's feet, and the girl laughed, too, for it
is easy to forget troubles when one is young.

They soon came to a beautiful estate where the park-like grounds reached
the edge of the gleaming white sand, but it was surrounded by a hedge so
high that even on the small horse's back the children could not see over
it.

"Tirol," Nan exclaimed, "no one could find us here, and so close up to
this high hedge, we'll have our breakfast."

Leaping from the pony the girl, with tender compassion, carefully lifted
down the mis-shapen boy, then opening a bundle tied in a red
handkerchief, she gave him a thick slice of brown bread and a piece of
roasted pig, which she had stored away the evening before.

"Look! Look!" cried the boy, clapping his claw-like hands. "The birds are
begging, Nanny, let Tirol feed them."

Like a white cloud shining in the sun the sea gulls winged down from the
sky. Gypsy Nan leaped to her feet and ran with outstretched arms to greet
them, and the white birds fearlessly circled about her as she tossed
crumbs into the air, and one, braver than the others lighted on Tirol's
outstretched hand and pecked at his breakfast.

When at last this merry feast was over, the sea gulls flew away, and Nan
called merrily, "Tirol, maybe there's something beautiful behind the
hedge that's so high. Let's go through it, shall we?"

The deformed boy nodded. Many an exciting adventure he and Nan had when
they ran away. But the gypsy children found that the hedge was as dense
as it was high, and though it was glowing with small crimson flowers, it
was also bristling with thorns and nowhere was there space enough for
them to break through.

Suddenly Nan, who had danced ahead, gave a little cry of delight. "Here's
the gate, Tirol!" she called. "It opens on the beach."

Eagerly the girl lifted the latch and to her joy the gate swung open. She
leaped within and the boy followed her. Then for one breathless moment
Gypsy Nan stood with clasped hands and eyes aglow, as she gazed about
her.

Never before had she seen so wonderful a garden. There were masses of
crysanthemums, golden in the sunlight, and, too, there were banks of
flaming scarlet. In the midst of it all, glistening white in the
sunshine, was a group of marble nymphs, evidently having a joyous time
sporting in the fern-encircled pool, while a flashing of rainbow colors
showered about them from the fountain. A mockingbird sang in the pepper
tree near the house but there was no other sound.

"Let's find the gorigo lady that lives here," Nan whispered. "Maybe she'd
let me tell her fortune. Anselo Spico won't be so angry if we take back a
silver dollar."

Up the flowered path, the gypsy children went, but, though Nan fearlessly
lifted the heavy wrought iron knocker on the door nearest the garden and
on the one at the side, there was no response.

Returning to the garden, the girl stooped and passionately kissed a
glowing yellow crysanthemum.

"Nan loves you! Nan loves you bright, beautiful flower!" she said in a
low tense voice, "Nan would like to keep you."

"If you're wantin' it, why don't you take it?" t Tirol asked. "Spico an'
the rest, they always take what they want when they can get it easy."

The girl turned upon the small boy as she said almost fiercely. "Haven't
I told you time and again that 'tisn't honest to steal? Don't matter who
does it, 'tisn't right, Tirol. Manna Lou said my mother wouldn't love me
if I stole or lied. An' I won't steal! I won't lie! I won't."

Many a time Nan had been well beaten because she would not do these
things which so often Anselo Spico had commanded.

Then, noting how the small boy shrank away as if frightened, the girl
knelt and held him close in a passionate embrace. "Tirol!" she implored,
"Little Tirol, don't be scared of Nan. 'Twasn't you she was fierce at.
'Twas him as makes every-body and all the little ones lie and steal. All
the little ones that don't _dare_ not because he would beat them."

The girl felt Tirol's frail body trembling in her clasp. "There, there,
dearie. You needn't be afraid. Anselo Spico don't _dare_ to beat you. He
knows if he did, I'd kill him."

Then there was one of the changes of mood that were so frequently with
Nan. Kissing Tirol, she danced away, flinging her body in wild graceful
movements. Up one path she went, and down another. Catching up the
tambourine which always hung at her belt, she shook it, singing snatches
of song until she was quite tired out. Then, sinking down on a marble
bench, she held Tirol close and gazed up at the windows of the house. One
after another she scanned but no face appeared.

Had the proud, haughty owner of that house been at home, she would have
felt that her grounds were being polluted by the presence of a gypsy.

Suddenly Nan sprang up and held out her hand for the frail claw-like one
of the mis-shapen boy.

"No need to wait any longer. There's no lady here to get a dollar from
for telling her fortune, - an' I'm glad, glad! Fortunes are just lies! I
hate telling fortunes!"

Down the path they went toward the little gate in the high hedge which
opened out upon the beach. Turning, before she closed it, the girl waved
her free hand and called joyfully. "Good-bye flowers of gold, Nan's
coming back some day."




CHAPTER III.
GOOD-BYE LITTLE TIROL.


The gypsy children returned toward the camp just as the sun was setting.
"Aren't you 'fraid that Spico'll strike us?" the goblin-like boy asked,
holding close to Nan as the small, mottled pony galloped along the coast
road.

"No; I'm not scared," Nan said. "If he strikes us, we'll run away for
good."

"Could we go back and live in that garden?"

"I don't know where we'd go. Somewheres! Maybe up there." Nan pointed and
the boy glanced at the encircling mountains where the canyons were
darkening. Surely they would be well hidden there. They were close enough
now to see the smoke curling up from the camp fire near the clump of live
oaks.

Leaving the small horse in the rope corral with the others, the children
approached the wagons, keeping hidden behind bushes as best they could.
Nan wanted to see who was about the fire before she made her presence
known. The one whom she dreaded was not there and so she boldly walked
into the circle of the light, leading Tirol. Then she spoke the gypsies'
word of greeting: "Sarishan, Manna Lou."

"Leicheen Nan, dearie, how troubled my heart has been about you," the
gypsy woman said. "You ran away. I thought forever."

"Where is Anselo Spico?" the girl inquired.

"He hasn't come yet. Mizella's been asking this hour back. He said at
high sun he'd be here sure, more than likely he's been - "

"Hark!" Nan whispered, putting a protecting arm about the boy. "Hide,
quick, Tirol, here he comes."

But only one horseman appeared, galloping through the dusk, and that one
was Vestor, who had ridden away with the Romany rye that morning. His
dark face told them nothing and yet they knew that he had much to tell.
They gathered about him, but before he could speak, the old queen pushed
her way to the front. "Where's my son?" she demanded.

"In jail for tryin' to steal a rich gorigo's horse." Then Vestor added
mysteriously. "But he'll join us afore dawn, I'm tellin' you! Break camp
at once," he commanded. "We're to wait for Spico in a mountain canyon on
t'other side of town. I know where 'tis. I'll ride the leader."

The supper was hastily eaten, the fire beaten out, the mules and horses
watered and hitched. Just as the moon rose over the sea, the gypsy
caravan began moving slowly down the coast highway.

Nan, riding on her mottled pony, sincerely wished that Anselo Spico would
not escape, but he always did, as she knew only too well.

Two hours later the caravan stopped on a lonely mountain road and drew to
one side. Half an hour later everyone was asleep, but in the middle of
the night Nan was awakened by a familiar voice.

Anselo Spico had returned.

Long before daybreak the gypsy caravan was once more under way. The
jolting of the wagon of Manna Lou roused the girl. She climbed from her
berth and looked in the one lower to see if all was well with little
Tirol. Two big black eyes gazed out at her and one of the claw-like hands
reached toward her. Nan took it lovingly.

"Little Tirol," she said, "you aren't feeling well." The goblin-like boy
shook his head as he replied: "A crooked back hurts, Sister Nan. It hurts
all the time."

"I know - I know dearie!" the girl said tenderly gathering the little
fellow close in her arms. "Wait, Nan will bring you some breakfast." But
the boy turned away and wearily closed his eyes.

The caravan had stopped long enough to make a fire and prepare the
morning coffee. Soon Manna Lou entered the wagon. "Go out, Nan darling,"
she said. "Don't fear Spico. He only thinks of getting across the border
in safety."

The girl beckoned to the gypsy woman and said in a low voice, "Little
Tirol's not so well. We'd ought to stop at the next town and fetch a
doctor."

"Poor little Tirol," the gypsy woman said kindly. "You'll be lonely, Nan,
to have him go, but if the gorigo is right, if there is a heaven, then
little Tirol'll be happier, for there's been no harm in him here. And
there can't be anyone so cruel as Anselo Spico's been."

Nan clenched her hands and frowned. Manna Lou continued. "Perhaps his own
mother Zitha will be there waiting, and she'll take care of him. Before
she died, she gave me little Tirol and begged me to keep watch over him
and I've done my best."

Impulsively Nan put her arms about the gypsy woman as she said, "Manna
Lou, how good, how kind you are! You've been just like a mother to little
Tirol and me, too. Some day you're going to tell me who my own mother
was, aren't you, Manna Lou?"

"Yes, leicheen Nan. When you're eighteen, then I'm going to tell you. I
promised faithful I wouldn't tell before that."

As the morning wore on, it was plain to the watchers that little Tirol
was very ill and when at noon the caravan stopped, Nan, leaping from the
wagon of Manna Lou confronted Anselo Spico as she said courageously:
"Little Tirol is like to die. We've got to stop at that town down there
into the valley and fetch a doctor."

"Got to?" sneered the dark handsome man, then he smiled wickedly. "Since
when is leicheen Nan the queen of this tribe that she gives commands?
What we've got to do is cross over the border into Mexico before the
gorigo police gets track of us."

He turned away and Nan with indignation and pity in her heart, went back
to the wagon. As she sat by the berth, holding Tirol's hot hand, she
determined that as soon as the village was reached she herself would ride
ahead and find a doctor.

Manna Lou had tried all of the herbs, but nothing of which the gypsies
knew could help the goblin-like boy or quiet his cruel pain.

It was mid-afternoon when Nan saw that the winding downward road was
leading into a valley town. It would take the slow moving caravan at
least an hour to reach the village, while Nan, on her pony, could gallop
there very quickly. Not far below was a dense grouping of live oak trees.
She would slip among them on Binnie and then, out of sight of the


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