Fortunetellers' are often dressed as gypsies. Sometimes they are real gypsies. For telling fortunes is one of the chief ways in which gypsies, wherever they are, make a living.
Gypsies are nomads. They wander about from place to place. No one knows much about their early story. About 600 years ago tribes of gypsies wandered into Europe from Asia. Perhaps in the beginning they came from India. They are dark-skinned and black-haired like the people of India. And their language makes scientists think that they came from India. But the early gypsies said that they came from Egypt. "Gypsies" is short for "Egyptians."
In Europe the gypsies kept on wandering, moving northward in summer and southward in winter. They traveled in wagons pulled by horses. At night they built big campfires and sang songs around them.
The gypsies were soon famous for their horse trading and their for tune telling. Some of them were good smiths, too. Some earned money by mending pots and pans. And some were good musicians. Many composers have used gypsy tunes in their music.
The lives of the gypsies seemed to be very happy and carefree. Many other people wished that they could live as easy a life. But the gypsies were not always well treated. They sometimes had to steal to get enough food. People began to be afraid of them. They were even driven out of some countries for a time.
From Europe some of the gypsies wandered to the Americas and to Australia. In all their wanderings they have kept very much to themselves. They also cling to their own customs and their own language. Their language is called Romany.
There are thousands of gypsies in the United States now. As they wander about they now usually use automobiles instead of horses and wagons. Many of them spend the winters in cities. With their gay clothes and bright jewelry they are easy to tell from other people.