......to be a gypsy in those days was to wander the countryside appearing in county fairs, carnivals, and village festivals of questionable repute. Little Giselle had come from a long line of fortune-tellers, clairvoyants, phrenologists, palm readers, and crystal ball gazers... She herself was considered a prodigy and possibly a savant in her ability to hear a customer's birthday (day, month, year!), and their birthplace, and, without a globe to check longitude and latitude or any sky charts to check for astronomical details, she could perfectly recite their zodiac profile... all the planets, aspects, conjunctions, rising signs, the trigons and trines, everything in a chart that it would take the average astrologer a week to diagram on paper, she could do in her head in seconds. And, even if the client was a skeptic and didn't believe in astrology, Giselle could then astound people with their subtle personality details, the hopes, the dreams, even their fears. Her family and the extended "family" of the other travelers in the caravans and carnivals would whisper and nod sagely whenever little Giselle would walk into the communal tents for lunch, often alone as her parents knew that she was old, wise and very old for her years, which numbered only six. Everyone knew she could handle herself with great dignity and composure. And at a time of greater innocence when children were less likely to be harmed by strangers, and when families watched out for each other's children more aggressively, no one worried about her independence.. It was in this world that Giselle, (Giselle Barund-Keelikov), wandered off from the encampment one afternoon in early November when the chill had started to settle in on the world of the open road and the lifestyle that was lived there. The morning frost had reluctantly given way to the grey sun that fretfully wandered low across the horizon and was already promising to disappear behind the leafless trees to the West, and at 4:30 in the afternoon! Parents were folding up their trade carts and novelty-wagons a little earlier...the clouds were rolling up and some of the older folks could "smell rain", possibly in the next hour or so. Visitors to the sad little carnival had been few and far between, and many of the gypsy families were already planning their yearly trek down to the Southern towns and villages for their warmer weather and cheerier atmosphere. Giselle had been seen sitting with her bowl of sweet turnip chowder and her beloved butter-crackers that Widow Crentski made especially just for her. A few of the older men tipped their caps to Giselle, giving their respects to her parents, or conferred with her about important matters, a cow's successful calving in the Spring, a possible match made between the tinsmith's son and the saddlemaker's daughter... When she was finished, she paid the nice lady the correct amount of money and left the proper gratuity which her parents had carefully educated her about. She smiled and nodded to the other diners. She thanked the wife of the candy-maker who complimented her on her nice hat, and then moving out of the tent with a short glance back over her shoulder, she was never seen again.... A local miller was questioned by authorities several weeks later who claimed that he'd seen a little girl sitting on the roadside, perhaps on the day in question, he couldn't be sure. He remembered that she seemed to be conferring very seriously with a dog and a horse... he was sure he heard her elaborately discussing something about the stars and the "constellations" (a word he recalled from a scientist who had visited a pub and told fascinated listeners about over several tankards of ale). Oh, and one other thing too... he heard the little girl say the words "pegasus", "can us major" or something like that, and that she was very "serious" about it all. She would pat her animal friends as she chatted, looking deeply into their eyes, and the miller remarked that the dog and horse seemed to be listening intently and appeared to be deep in thought. The authorities were somewhat impatient with him and asked why he didn't speak to the little girl, especially since she was unaccompanied on the open road. Why didn't he question her, or find out where her family was... he paused, looked down for a minute and then said without irony that he didn't think it was his place to interrupt what was clearly a serious conversation. Didn't she use the term "serious" over and over in the few sentences he heard as he passed by? Didn't she point at the sky and then trace an arc of some sort from the South East to the North West and then point first to the dog and then to the horse...?? What could it all mean. He told the inspector that he wanted to stay and listen.. Though only slightly educated and forced to leave school as a teenager, he had always been fascinated by wiser people, and the little girl seemed to be very, very wise... strangely so. Was he at all concerned that she might have come to harm being alone on the road, accompanied only by a dog and a horse in the gathering twilight as the sun vanished and the first stars started to twinkle in the dusky East?... "No.", he said and smiled. "There are souls here that move among us with a journey of their own... we are mere watchers... and we should stand aside as they pass."