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“But, where’s Rye gone, Grandfather?”

The petulence and heartbreak in the young girl’s voice forced old Tshilaba to look up from tuning his cittern. Little Lala, whom he realized with a sigh was not so very little anymore being nigh onto 15, stared at him accusingly. The flickering camp fire scattered both shadows and gold across her dark furrowed brows and deep olive skin and made her demanding stare look all the more threatening.

The old man studied the features of his pretty young granddaughter, so clearly put out by the sudden disappearance of her second cousin, his grand nephew. “And why, Little Lala, do you care so very much?”

Even the fire’s interplay of light and shadows on her face did not hide the stain to her cheeks. The petulance in her voice moments before was now mixed with flustered irritation as she looked down to her knees, pulling idly and angrilly at the grass. “I’m not so little anymore,” she reminded her elder. “And it seems terribly unfair that he gets to wander off from the family without me!...Without anyone…” she hastily corrected, trailing off.

That little Lala had affections for her second cousin was easy enough to see, but what made Tshilaba’s face curl into dark suspicion was the possibility that roguish Rye had in fact encouraged the girl’s infatuation – or worse! He studied his granddaughter who still ripped at the grass and decided that no…no, there was still an air of innocence about the girl despite her protestations about her maturity.

And so her gave something of an answer to the girl. “Rye’s gone prospecting,” he said simply, returning to the calming task of alternately tuning and strumming his cittern.

“But where?” demanded the impatient girl. But it did not take long for the old man’s persistent plucking to clue her in to the fact that she was likely to get no more out of him tonight, and she rose and huffed away.

Rye Lel

Vices: Many! A rake of the first sort, this dark vagabond can lie with a silver, serpent’s tongue. Given to bouts of drunken revelry, fits of embittered wrath, and phases of somber malaise, the passions of life seem to run unchecked in this Gypsy cur. And, if stories of his kind are to be believed…they are thieves and lotharios too.

Virtues: Rye is unfailingly loyal -- to himself, and secondly to his family. And though naturally proficient at the necessary duplicities of his lifestyle, he -- unlike so many stuff-shirted ‘gentlemen’ and overly-refined ‘ladies’ of the day – is capable of sincerity of the purest, rawest sort. After all, every coin must have two sides, mustn’t it?Just look into his eyes – you’ll see.

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Vices and Virtues - Out of Print

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Most Mysterious Gypsy
Jan 2009

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