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The Laughing Man - A Story of Gypsy Myth

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  • sabakakrazny
    ( Note to the reader - this story is not historically accurate, nor was it intended to be. It is rather an entertainment , though it is intended to capture the
    Message 1 of 4 , Sep 13, 2011
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      ( Note to the reader - this story is not historically accurate, nor was it intended to be. It is rather an entertainment , though it is intended to capture the flavor of the gypsy myths and the airs of the late periods of 1400 to 1500.Its also an attempt at a format of telling I'm hoping to pursue, as I'm looking to present more efforts as a skomorokhi and as I research more of the slavic and gypsy stories, all old favorites of mine.

      Given the air and tone, I hope its not inappropriate, and lends the reader some enjoyment. As always, critique is welcomed!

      I hope this small effort proved enjoyable!

      Bran Buchanan)




      The Laughing Man- A Story of Gypsy Myth



      The campfire's glow lit the gypsy encampment as the friendly aromas of stew and freshly heated bread filled the glade. The vardos had been drawn into a cozy circle around the fire and the sounds of music began to fill the air as fiddlers and drummers began to play about while the women were distributing the food. First the bandoleer and calldoon, which was their right when there were no guests. Next were the children, all asqueal at the smell of it, then the women. The men, naturally, ate last.

      Aside from the music, everyone was eagerly anticipating the supper but not for the conversation, that came later over toback and the harsh red gypsy arrack. No, the focus was all on the calldoon, because supper was the time for stories and legends, the questions to the calldoon and most importantly were the lessons. The calldoon, eldest in the tribe, was deeply respected for he alone carried all of the people's history. Oh, to be sure, any gypsy will rattle on for hours of what it is to be gypsy if only you will let them. But it was the calldoon alone who knew the lineages, the wills, the moiety and the contracts. He alone (until, at least, he took an apprentice) had the truth of it. As such, the bandoleer, a wise man (though young) always solicited his advice and if he did not always follow it, you may be sure he never lightly disregarded it.

      Over his supper the calldoon answered the children's questions here, told the story there, or settled some childish dispute. But it was the young raven- haired girl, blue of eye and red and green and blue and gold of dress who asked The Question.

      "Grandfather, when I was in town yesterday, I got beaten for stealing, even though I found the money on a table..." she said with a puzzled expression.

      "Well, and that is only fair, jes? That is the price of getting caught. Perhaps next time you will be more careful, and after supper I will teach you about the gaje custom of tipping." said the bandoleer, while swapping winks with the calldoon, who smiled back. (This was not the first time the children had clashed with gaje customs)
      " And you felt a bit slighted, too, I am thinking, jes?" asked the calldoon gently. "Tis no matter, the gaje have no more knowing of our ways than you of theirs."

      "I understand, Grandfather, but what I am not understanding is this; when I was caught I got angry, and I started to laugh even though it was hardly funny. And when Big Brother and cousin Nikki came and helped me run away they laughed, too, because they were angry because I got beat up. But when they laughed, the gaje got frightened and showed us the figue, and they ran away from us, and we...we were only children after all."

      "Jes, nestanya, and what is it you are wondering at?"

      "Why is it we laugh when we are angry, and why would the gaje be afraid of us?"

      The calldoon looked pensive at this and regarded the bandoleer, who merely shrugged. "Not two weeks ago we discussed this very thing, Grandfather, and we agreed then that when the time came you would tell the children as you did all of us," the bandoleer waved expansively to include the rest of the tribe, who watched all the by-play with close interest." I wish it were more cheerful, but I am thinking that now is the time."

      "Jes, jes, I feel you have the right of it. To answer your first question, little one, it is so simple a thing no gaje can really hope to understand. It is in one's nature if gaje to become like their primal, bestial selves when angry, and that beast comes out in growls, shrieks and yells. Pity them, for they have no better, poor things. Yet we Romani have in us the gypsy blood with the beat of tambourines, the music that is in our souls. We remember the joy of the lands we have walked, the dances we have done, the jokes we have told and the songs we have sung. And our anger is so alien to us, so unnatural to our very natures that we laugh to bring ourselves back to what we truly are. Even our warriors, brave they may be, would rather dance than fight; for though fierce necessity might force us to boldness, no true gypsy really loves it."

      "But, Grandfather " asked an older boy with hopes of becoming a blade dancer one day, " What of our great warriors, our famous fighters?"

      "Ah, good, that question touches upon my next answer." The calldoon wagged a finger at the boy with a stern expression. "Don't interrupt!" Chastened, the boy hung his head while his mother glared at him, then at his father who reddened. There would no doubt be a lesson in manners, later!

      "Come, children, and pay me heed, for this matter is a part of us all. For I will tell you now a story, a story of betrayal, of courage, of vengeance and of terror. Listen now to the story of the Laughing Man.

      "Long ago, when we still lived in our own country of Romany, there was a great warrior, brave and adventurous beyond all others. So glorious and many were his exploits that I should be several nights in the telling of it, but this is not that story at all.

      His name was Sipo, but you would know him as Sipo the Quick. Although brave and resolute, he was called the Quick because he was renowned for his speed of hand and blade. It was said that he was so fast of blade that the eye could not follow his strike or cut. (And it was said by those who knew best of such things, I assure you.)

      It came to pass that in the time that we were being put out of our land yet again by the gaje, that Sipo was the Torke of his tribe. And a good one too, leading his band of warriors to ever more successes. But ever did he feel inadequate, for however many battles he won, still the gaje pushed us ever further from our land.

      After one last battle, he felt his rage come upon him and he went to his calldoon and said "Calldoon, I am taking the warriors to the enemies rear, where we will attack his cities. It is time we handled them as they have us."

      "No, Sipo, such is not our way. We will not do this thing because it would be not only a denial of gypsy blood, but a sin against the land," the calldoon warned him. "Our way is to war on warriors, if need be, and none are braver than our brothers when we must fight, but we are people of song who the Mother land has blessed. To war indiscriminately would be against our blood. That would be a Gaje thing to do, indeed."

      " Fah! That is the thinking that cost us our place in the land, that is the thinking behind our children's hunger and our wives going without and that is the thinking that is causing us to die by the inch! Where once our vardos traveled freely, now we are hunted like dogs, our families slain to the youngest babe, and all because it is the gypsy way. These high-minded notions are bleeding our people dry!" Sipo's words dripped the venom as only a brave man who has been hurt to his core can utter. He shook his fist under the calldoon's nose, snapping his fingers, "Mark my words, old man, may my blood run cold like the gaje if I do not have my vengeance on those who bedevil us!"

      Now, my children, you should remember, that there was a time when the Gypsy Curse was no small thing, a thing to be well and truly feared. And the calldoon felt the chill creep like little cold fingers playing the harp of his spine at the words he heard, for he knew better than most a Curse when he heard one. He went away shaking his head for thinking that no good would come of what he heard and he was sorely troubled to know of nothing he could do to better it. Sipo was not satisfied, not a bit of it, but he restrained himself for though you might not think it to hear him, he deeply respected the old calldoon and obeyed his wishes though he chafed at them.

      But this was not to last. And so, only a few weeks later while Sipo's hurt was still upon him, the gaje king who was the source of these troubles felt that these particular gypsies were a pebble in his shoe he could do without, and with the disdain only royalty can feel for lesser folk he dispatched his general a message to do away with all gypsies in the kingdom, outright. The general of his army was a literal minded fellow; when his king should say all, then all it would be. And so it was that Sipo and his dancers came to find their tribe's vardos burned, and their wives and children and livestock slain. And a terrible anger came upon him, and as they rode about the land seeking more of their people they found more slain, butchered as they tried to run, wives with their little ones in their arms. Oh, my children, those were bad times, and Sipo saw it all. His terrible anger grew, and how he laughed!

      Now, gaje had always been unnerved by the gypsy anger, laughing when we are upset, but this they had not seen on the battlefield. Our blade dancers, of course, do not become angry when they fight, for no warrior is truly skilled when he lets anger cloud his mind. This is why any blade dancer holds his counsel, and why gaje respect them so in battle. But, Sipo, now, was another thing entirely!

      When Sipo saw a troop of the gaje soldiers pursuing some luckless survivors, his laughter changed from the sad and frustrated thing to a thing of a wilder, frenzied pitch. He could not contain himself, so great his anger became, and he let himself go to it, laughing all the while. His band of warriors, hardened and brave beyond doubt drew rein to see his change, for he stopped his horse, so! And turned. His mouth grew wider until it seemed his grin might spread to his ears, his eyes burned red from within, and peals of laughter, mirthless laughter, tortured laughter, cold heartless laughter rang from his lips, and his brave warriors knew fear that day! They shivered in their boots, and their daggers loosened in their hands as Sipo shrieked laughter at them saying "Now shall we avenge our dead!" and he spurred his horse at the enemy. He slew all that came before him that day, and many more after, and I will tell you this, children: he spared not a one. None of the brave men who followed him that day (and I tell you again, if you think I say it too much, they were indeed brave) would have dared to stop him, for he had become something other than Sipo. He had become the Laughing Man.

      Ever in the following months did the Laughing Man bring victory, a harsh and bitter victory, for he showed no quarter on his enemies. The Laughing Man went on sprees, killing all gaje as they had gypsy, and though he never harmed any Romani still it was a terrible, terrible thing to see. The Laughing Man took fearsome wounds that healed at the stroke, and some saw him maimed and others said he died yet always he arose unharmed with the rising sun or moon, hungry to pursue his tormentors. He led a gypsy army of blade dancers, fighters and didikai to battle anew each day and always did he laugh; cold, cold laughter. (Even, it is said, in his sleep) Good men died fighting with him, for always he carried the day but cared not at all for who died around him, and the gaje army ran to hear his laughter in the night or as the dancers approached the battlefield. For although the gaje feared him, they soon enough came to fear all gypsies to such degree that it was not long until no gypsy was safe from the gaje spear or sword or hot torch. For what one fears, one kills, my children.

      All the tribes suffered from this, and so in time the elders, bandoleers and calldoons came together to decide what to do. It was time to make a peace, and the gaje king was too glad to do so, for the gypsies had grown from an annoying pebble to a biting nail, sharp and painful. The king recalled his troops, and to this day the sons of the sons of those soldiers and officers dread the cold, hard laughter in the night.

      They sent out word to stop the killing, but Sipo did not stop as his anger had consumed him. And because the Laughing Man would heed them not, and because the people had to be protected, they called the kris on Sipo, and the old calldoon cried ( jes, my children, even an old man might cry, sometimes) to see his only son, Sipo, made no longer gypsy, as his Curse had demanded.

      So it came to be that when Sipo became gaje, the Laughing Man left him, leaving behind only two horrible scars that all might know he had been there; two scars like a smile from the corners of Sipo's mouth to his ears. And Sipo lived long in the land, a gaje beggar, with nothing but his scars and bitter memories to show for it.
      Sometimes, it is said, the Laughing Man returns when one is desperate enough or foolish enough or, perhaps, crazy enough to call upon him - for he is the spirit of vengeance and rage that lives in us all. Always, he leaves his mark, and always there is tragedy, for it is the Curse of the Laughing Man to be called to do the right thing for the wrong reason, or the wrong thing for the right reason. Whatever the reason, if you hear the Laughing Man, flee him, children! He is vengeance personified and he will always exact his price. No gaje may call upon him, and I for one think that a good thing, for what gaje could resist the lure he provides? That is why they fear our laughter, my children, for they fear him and so, they fear us.

      " I am tired," said the calldoon "and would think of other things. Come, wine, and some music, perhaps." But as the fiddlers played and the women danced, while the wineskins made their merry rounds, the calldoon sat and stared into the fire and he thought long on his great-grandfather, doomed to always be remembered not by his name or his deeds, but only as the Laughing Man.






      Note to the Reader
      This story is of the gypsy, and as such uses uniquely gypsy words and reflects many of their customs. All tribes have their own unique practices; those seen here are of clan Stavro and need not be considered universal. All words in Romani are in italics, and along with notes on various customs are examined below. This effort is strictly for you, the readers enjoyment, and should by no means be considered graven in stone. I hope you find them entertaining.
      BG

      1.vardo - the typical gypsy house wagon, the common gypsy domicile being either wagons or tents. Frequently gaudily painted and generally fairly luxurious inside. The preferred mode of propulsion is oxen.

      2. Dining customs- when in camp, most tribes follow a strict order of precedence, and the discerning stranger can tell much by watching closely. First served at any meal is the guest, who can expect the best the tribe has to offer, even if they must all do without. Such is gypsy hospitality. Obviously, it is a grave insult to refuse unless a good reason can be given. (One traveler gained much merit in his refusal, saying that he could hardly eat well however graciously offered if the children must go hungry.)

      Next would be the calldoon and the bandoleer followed by the children, the women and finally the men who are presumed to be guarding the encampment. Lastly is the Whip Mistress, as the animals usually require her attentions until late in the meal. This is no insult but long tradition, and the Whip Mistress takes enormous pride in being last to eat as a certain mark of her position.

      3.gaje -any non-gypsy.

      4. The figue -a common peasant superstition, consisting of placing the tip of the thumb between the fore and middle fingers of a fist (got yer nose!) and pointing at the object or person in question as a ward against the evil eye or unlucky influences.

      5.nestanya - "little sister", an affectionate term generally used only within the tribe. Bolyei or "little brother" would be the male equivalent.
    • Justinos Tekton called Justin
      ... In our personas, we do not assume the role of someone who lived in the Middle Ages, but rather we create someone who *could* have lived in our chosen time
      Message 2 of 4 , Sep 13, 2011
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        On Tue, 2011-09-13 at 13:33 +0000, sabakakrazny wrote:
        > Given the air and tone, I hope its not inappropriate, and lends the
        > reader some enjoyment. As always, critique is welcomed!


        In our personas, we do not assume the role of someone who lived in the
        Middle Ages, but rather we create someone who *could* have lived in our
        chosen time and culture in the Middle Ages. There is a long and proud
        tradition in the SCA of original bardic works created "after the
        fashion" or "in the style" of historical works. After all, many
        thousands of works no doubt *did* exist in period, with no written
        record of them surviving until today.

        I look forward to enjoying your story, but will wait until after work to
        savor it at leisure. :-)

        Justin

        --
        ()xxxx[]::::::::::::::::::> <::::::::::::::::::[]xxxx()
        Maistor Justinos Tekton called Justin (Scott Courtney)
        Gules, on a bezant a fleam sable and on a chief dovetailed Or two keys
        fesswise reversed sable.

        justin@... http://4th.com/sca/justin/
      • Paul DeLisle
        Ohh, dear.. Milord.I truly wish that I were still active.and in our area. This *NEEDS* telling around a fire. Many times. Please.I beg you.do so. Alden
        Message 3 of 4 , Sep 13, 2011
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          Ohh, dear….

          Milord…I truly wish that I were still active…and in our area.

          This *NEEDS* telling around a fire.

          Many times.

          Please…I beg you…do so.

           

          Alden Pharamond

           

          From: SCA_BARDS@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SCA_BARDS@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of sabakakrazny
          Sent: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 8:33 AM
          To: SCA_BARDS@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [SCA_BARDS] The Laughing Man - A Story of Gypsy Myth

           

           


          ( Note to the reader - this story is not historically accurate, nor was it intended to be. It is rather an entertainment , though it is intended to capture the flavor of the gypsy myths and the airs of the late periods of 1400 to 1500.Its also an attempt at a format of telling I'm hoping to pursue, as I'm looking to present more efforts as a skomorokhi and as I research more of the slavic and gypsy stories, all old favorites of mine.

          Given the air and tone, I hope its not inappropriate, and lends the reader some enjoyment. As always, critique is welcomed!

          I hope this small effort proved enjoyable!

          Bran Buchanan)

          The Laughing Man- A Story of Gypsy Myth

          The campfire's glow lit the gypsy encampment as the friendly aromas of stew and freshly heated bread filled the glade. The vardos had been drawn into a cozy circle around the fire and the sounds of music began to fill the air as fiddlers and drummers began to play about while the women were distributing the food. First the bandoleer and calldoon, which was their right when there were no guests. Next were the children, all asqueal at the smell of it, then the women. The men, naturally, ate last.

          Aside from the music, everyone was eagerly anticipating the supper but not for the conversation, that came later over toback and the harsh red gypsy arrack. No, the focus was all on the calldoon, because supper was the time for stories and legends, the questions to the calldoon and most importantly were the lessons. The calldoon, eldest in the tribe, was deeply respected for he alone carried all of the people's history. Oh, to be sure, any gypsy will rattle on for hours of what it is to be gypsy if only you will let them. But it was the calldoon alone who knew the lineages, the wills, the moiety and the contracts. He alone (until, at least, he took an apprentice) had the truth of it. As such, the bandoleer, a wise man (though young) always solicited his advice and if he did not always follow it, you may be sure he never lightly disregarded it.

          Over his supper the calldoon answered the children's questions here, told the story there, or settled some childish dispute. But it was the young raven- haired girl, blue of eye and red and green and blue and gold of dress who asked The Question.

          "Grandfather, when I was in town yesterday, I got beaten for stealing, even though I found the money on a table..." she said with a puzzled expression.

          "Well, and that is only fair, jes? That is the price of getting caught. Perhaps next time you will be more careful, and after supper I will teach you about the gaje custom of tipping." said the bandoleer, while swapping winks with the calldoon, who smiled back. (This was not the first time the children had clashed with gaje customs)
          " And you felt a bit slighted, too, I am thinking, jes?" asked the calldoon gently. "Tis no matter, the gaje have no more knowing of our ways than you of theirs."

          "I understand, Grandfather, but what I am not understanding is this; when I was caught I got angry, and I started to laugh even though it was hardly funny. And when Big Brother and cousin Nikki came and helped me run away they laughed, too, because they were angry because I got beat up. But when they laughed, the gaje got frightened and showed us the figue, and they ran away from us, and we...we were only children after all."

          "Jes, nestanya, and what is it you are wondering at?"

          "Why is it we laugh when we are angry, and why would the gaje be afraid of us?"

          The calldoon looked pensive at this and regarded the bandoleer, who merely shrugged. "Not two weeks ago we discussed this very thing, Grandfather, and we agreed then that when the time came you would tell the children as you did all of us," the bandoleer waved expansively to include the rest of the tribe, who watched all the by-play with close interest." I wish it were more cheerful, but I am thinking that now is the time."

          "Jes, jes, I feel you have the right of it. To answer your first question, little one, it is so simple a thing no gaje can really hope to understand. It is in one's nature if gaje to become like their primal, bestial selves when angry, and that beast comes out in growls, shrieks and yells. Pity them, for they have no better, poor things. Yet we Romani have in us the gypsy blood with the beat of tambourines, the music that is in our souls. We remember the joy of the lands we have walked, the dances we have done, the jokes we have told and the songs we have sung. And our anger is so alien to us, so unnatural to our very natures that we laugh to bring ourselves back to what we truly are. Even our warriors, brave they may be, would rather dance than fight; for though fierce necessity might force us to boldness, no true gypsy really loves it."

          "But, Grandfather " asked an older boy with hopes of becoming a blade dancer one day, " What of our great warriors, our famous fighters?"

          "Ah, good, that question touches upon my next answer." The calldoon wagged a finger at the boy with a stern expression. "Don't interrupt!" Chastened, the boy hung his head while his mother glared at him, then at his father who reddened. There would no doubt be a lesson in manners, later!

          "Come, children, and pay me heed, for this matter is a part of us all. For I will tell you now a story, a story of betrayal, of courage, of vengeance and of terror. Listen now to the story of the Laughing Man.

          "Long ago, when we still lived in our own country of Romany, there was a great warrior, brave and adventurous beyond all others. So glorious and many were his exploits that I should be several nights in the telling of it, but this is not that story at all.

          His name was Sipo, but you would know him as Sipo the Quick. Although brave and resolute, he was called the Quick because he was renowned for his speed of hand and blade. It was said that he was so fast of blade that the eye could not follow his strike or cut. (And it was said by those who knew best of such things, I assure you.)

          It came to pass that in the time that we were being put out of our land yet again by the gaje, that Sipo was the Torke of his tribe. And a good one too, leading his band of warriors to ever more successes. But ever did he feel inadequate, for however many battles he won, still the gaje pushed us ever further from our land.

          After one last battle, he felt his rage come upon him and he went to his calldoon and said "Calldoon, I am taking the warriors to the enemies rear, where we will attack his cities. It is time we handled them as they have us."

          "No, Sipo, such is not our way. We will not do this thing because it would be not only a denial of gypsy blood, but a sin against the land," the calldoon warned him. "Our way is to war on warriors, if need be, and none are braver than our brothers when we must fight, but we are people of song who the Mother land has blessed. To war indiscriminately would be against our blood. That would be a Gaje thing to do, indeed."

          " Fah! That is the thinking that cost us our place in the land, that is the thinking behind our children's hunger and our wives going without and that is the thinking that is causing us to die by the inch! Where once our vardos traveled freely, now we are hunted like dogs, our families slain to the youngest babe, and all because it is the gypsy way. These high-minded notions are bleeding our people dry!" Sipo's words dripped the venom as only a brave man who has been hurt to his core can utter. He shook his fist under the calldoon's nose, snapping his fingers, "Mark my words, old man, may my blood run cold like the gaje if I do not have my vengeance on those who bedevil us!"

          Now, my children, you should remember, that there was a time when the Gypsy Curse was no small thing, a thing to be well and truly feared. And the calldoon felt the chill creep like little cold fingers playing the harp of his spine at the words he heard, for he knew better than most a Curse when he heard one. He went away shaking his head for thinking that no good would come of what he heard and he was sorely troubled to know of nothing he could do to better it. Sipo was not satisfied, not a bit of it, but he restrained himself for though you might not think it to hear him, he deeply respected the old calldoon and obeyed his wishes though he chafed at them.

          But this was not to last. And so, only a few weeks later while Sipo's hurt was still upon him, the gaje king who was the source of these troubles felt that these particular gypsies were a pebble in his shoe he could do without, and with the disdain only royalty can feel for lesser folk he dispatched his general a message to do away with all gypsies in the kingdom, outright. The general of his army was a literal minded fellow; when his king should say all, then all it would be. And so it was that Sipo and his dancers came to find their tribe's vardos burned, and their wives and children and livestock slain. And a terrible anger came upon him, and as they rode about the land seeking more of their people they found more slain, butchered as they tried to run, wives with their little ones in their arms. Oh, my children, those were bad times, and Sipo saw it all. His terrible anger grew, and how he laughed!

          Now, gaje had always been unnerved by the gypsy anger, laughing when we are upset, but this they had not seen on the battlefield. Our blade dancers, of course, do not become angry when they fight, for no warrior is truly skilled when he lets anger cloud his mind. This is why any blade dancer holds his counsel, and why gaje respect them so in battle. But, Sipo, now, was another thing entirely!

          When Sipo saw a troop of the gaje soldiers pursuing some luckless survivors, his laughter changed from the sad and frustrated thing to a thing of a wilder, frenzied pitch. He could not contain himself, so great his anger became, and he let himself go to it, laughing all the while. His band of warriors, hardened and brave beyond doubt drew rein to see his change, for he stopped his horse, so! And turned. His mouth grew wider until it seemed his grin might spread to his ears, his eyes burned red from within, and peals of laughter, mirthless laughter, tortured laughter, cold heartless laughter rang from his lips, and his brave warriors knew fear that day! They shivered in their boots, and their daggers loosened in their hands as Sipo shrieked laughter at them saying "Now shall we avenge our dead!" and he spurred his horse at the enemy. He slew all that came before him that day, and many more after, and I will tell you this, children: he spared not a one. None of the brave men who followed him that day (and I tell you again, if you think I say it too much, they were indeed brave) would have dared to stop him, for he had become something other than Sipo. He had become the Laughing Man.

          Ever in the following months did the Laughing Man bring victory, a harsh and bitter victory, for he showed no quarter on his enemies. The Laughing Man went on sprees, killing all gaje as they had gypsy, and though he never harmed any Romani still it was a terrible, terrible thing to see. The Laughing Man took fearsome wounds that healed at the stroke, and some saw him maimed and others said he died yet always he arose unharmed with the rising sun or moon, hungry to pursue his tormentors. He led a gypsy army of blade dancers, fighters and didikai to battle anew each day and always did he laugh; cold, cold laughter. (Even, it is said, in his sleep) Good men died fighting with him, for always he carried the day but cared not at all for who died around him, and the gaje army ran to hear his laughter in the night or as the dancers approached the battlefield. For although the gaje feared him, they soon enough came to fear all gypsies to such degree that it was not long until no gypsy was safe from the gaje spear or sword or hot torch. For what one fears, one kills, my children.

          All the tribes suffered from this, and so in time the elders, bandoleers and calldoons came together to decide what to do. It was time to make a peace, and the gaje king was too glad to do so, for the gypsies had grown from an annoying pebble to a biting nail, sharp and painful. The king recalled his troops, and to this day the sons of the sons of those soldiers and officers dread the cold, hard laughter in the night.

          They sent out word to stop the killing, but Sipo did not stop as his anger had consumed him. And because the Laughing Man would heed them not, and because the people had to be protected, they called the kris on Sipo, and the old calldoon cried ( jes, my children, even an old man might cry, sometimes) to see his only son, Sipo, made no longer gypsy, as his Curse had demanded.

          So it came to be that when Sipo became gaje, the Laughing Man left him, leaving behind only two horrible scars that all might know he had been there; two scars like a smile from the corners of Sipo's mouth to his ears. And Sipo lived long in the land, a gaje beggar, with nothing but his scars and bitter memories to show for it.
          Sometimes, it is said, the Laughing Man returns when one is desperate enough or foolish enough or, perhaps, crazy enough to call upon him - for he is the spirit of vengeance and rage that lives in us all. Always, he leaves his mark, and always there is tragedy, for it is the Curse of the Laughing Man to be called to do the right thing for the wrong reason, or the wrong thing for the right reason. Whatever the reason, if you hear the Laughing Man, flee him, children! He is vengeance personified and he will always exact his price. No gaje may call upon him, and I for one think that a good thing, for what gaje could resist the lure he provides? That is why they fear our laughter, my children, for they fear him and so, they fear us.

          " I am tired," said the calldoon "and would think of other things. Come, wine, and some music, perhaps." But as the fiddlers played and the women danced, while the wineskins made their merry rounds, the calldoon sat and stared into the fire and he thought long on his great-grandfather, doomed to always be remembered not by his name or his deeds, but only as the Laughing Man.



          Note to the Reader
          This story is of the gypsy, and as such uses uniquely gypsy words and reflects many of their customs. All tribes have their own unique practices; those seen here are of clan Stavro and need not be considered universal. All words in Romani are in italics, and along with notes on various customs are examined below. This effort is strictly for you, the readers enjoyment, and should by no means be considered graven in stone. I hope you find them entertaining.
          BG

          1.vardo - the typical gypsy house wagon, the common gypsy domicile being either wagons or tents. Frequently gaudily painted and generally fairly luxurious inside. The preferred mode of propulsion is oxen.

          2. Dining customs- when in camp, most tribes follow a strict order of precedence, and the discerning stranger can tell much by watching closely. First served at any meal is the guest, who can expect the best the tribe has to offer, even if they must all do without. Such is gypsy hospitality. Obviously, it is a grave insult to refuse unless a good reason can be given. (One traveler gained much merit in his refusal, saying that he could hardly eat well however graciously offered if the children must go hungry.)

          Next would be the calldoon and the bandoleer followed by the children, the women and finally the men who are presumed to be guarding the encampment. Lastly is the Whip Mistress, as the animals usually require her attentions until late in the meal. This is no insult but long tradition, and the Whip Mistress takes enormous pride in being last to eat as a certain mark of her position.

          3.gaje -any non-gypsy.

          4. The figue -a common peasant superstition, consisting of placing the tip of the thumb between the fore and middle fingers of a fist (got yer nose!) and pointing at the object or person in question as a ward against the evil eye or unlucky influences.

          5.nestanya - "little sister", an affectionate term generally used only within the tribe. Bolyei or "little brother" would be the male equivalent.

        • jenny tavernier
          Wonderful! I am really glad to see this era/area being brought to life and invested in! jenneth the rindill Bard of the Pickle Bowl Laughing, Captain and King
          Message 4 of 4 , Sep 14, 2011
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            Wonderful! I am really glad to see this era/area being brought to life and invested in!

            jenneth the rindill
            Bard of the Pickle Bowl

            Laughing,
            Captain and King
            flew over the waves
            hunting to catch the mooncoin
            sliding into the sea
            jht

            --- On Tue, 9/13/11, Justinos Tekton called Justin <justin@...> wrote:

            From: Justinos Tekton called Justin <justin@...>
            Subject: Re: [SCA_BARDS] The Laughing Man - A Story of Gypsy Myth
            To: SCA_BARDS@yahoogroups.com
            Date: Tuesday, September 13, 2011, 9:32 AM

             

            On Tue, 2011-09-13 at 13:33 +0000, sabakakrazny wrote:
            > Given the air and tone, I hope its not inappropriate, and lends the
            > reader some enjoyment. As always, critique is welcomed!

            In our personas, we do not assume the role of someone who lived in the
            Middle Ages, but rather we create someone who *could* have lived in our
            chosen time and culture in the Middle Ages. There is a long and proud
            tradition in the SCA of original bardic works created "after the
            fashion" or "in the style" of historical works. After all, many
            thousands of works no doubt *did* exist in period, with no written
            record of them surviving until today.

            I look forward to enjoying your story, but will wait until after work to
            savor it at leisure. :-)

            Justin

            --
            ()xxxx[]::::::::::::::::::> <::::::::::::::::::[]xxxx()
            Maistor Justinos Tekton called Justin (Scott Courtney)
            Gules, on a bezant a fleam sable and on a chief dovetailed Or two keys
            fesswise reversed sable.

            justin@... http://4th.com/sca/justin/

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