Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Chapter Thirty-Five

Mosby felt like he should get in touch with Lilly’s family but he had no idea how to contact them. He knew very little about them other than that they had been somewhere in Kentucky the last time she’d them. As far as he knew she’d had no communication with her family since she was banned from the clan. Mosby remembered the day Lilly finally told him why she had been expelled.

“This is going to be hard for you to understand, Mosby. Our ways are so different from your ways.”

“Just start at the beginning, Lilly. I want to understand.”

“Okay, Mosby. Well all Roma are expected to marry. It isn’t like what you hear about us. We follow strict rules. Roma expect females to be virgins when they marry and to remain faithful to their husbands until death. There is no sex until we are married and we are expected to marry someone within our group. It is strictly against the rules to marry a non-Roma. If a Roma male marries a gadji, the community may eventually accept her but it is never acceptable for a Roma female to marry a gadjo.

Many times, it is lovely. The boy does the courting, and when the young couple agrees to marry they become engaged and exchange gifts. Parents are consulted, but the decision is made by the young people. In my case the decision was made for me. I was deemed to be the most suitable bride for the son of the leader of our group. I was selected based on my stamina and my cooking skills. Very romantic, isn’t it, Mosby?”

Mosby had just shook his head.

“My mother and father were compensated for the loss of their daughter and my future father-in-law assured them that I would be well-treated. After my price was agreed on there was celebration. Gypsies love parties, you know. There music and dancing. But I was very sad – especially when my future husband’s father put the necklace of gold coins around my neck making it clear to everyone that I was now engaged and not available as a bride to any other man.”

“Why were you so sad, Lilly?”

“My mother and father did not know that I had fallen in love with a gadjo and we planned to elope. They did not know that I was not a virgin. On our wedding night my husband discovered my secret. He was furious with me but he could not tell anyone because to do so would bring shame upon him and his family. But he punished me often for my sin. He was very cruel to me.”

“He beat you?”

“Yes. Both that wasn’t the worst thing. He…”

“It’s alright, Lilly. You don’t have to tell me.”

“There came a time when I couldn’t stand it any more. Even though I was carrying his child he continued. One night I was ready. When I went to our bed I carried a knife with me and when he forced himself on me, I was prepared. He died quickly with my knife in his heart.”

“The police must have realized it was self-defense, Lilly.”

“There were no police. Gypsies settle their own disputes. They have their own courts overseen by the leaders. Their decision was to ban me from our tribe. My father-in-law protested. He wanted me to see me dead, but the death penalty is prohibited among my people because we gypsies fear ghosts. We believe the angry spirit of the dead will seek revenge on the executioner.”

Looking back Mosby could only hope that Lilly’s spirit avenge her own murder. But just to be sure, Mosby intended to seek his own revenge. He stuffed the pages he had printed out in his backpack and went out to find Jerry Benson. Detective Jacoby might not take him seriously, but he was certain that Frances Britt’s attorney would be interested.



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