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Title: The Legend of Ulenspiegel, Volume 1 (of 2)

Author: Charles de Coster

Translator: F. M. Atkinson

John Heron Lepper

Release date: December 8, 2011 [eBook #38247]
Most recently updated: June 16, 2012

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Jeroen Hellingman and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at for Project
Gutenberg (This file was produced from images generously
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The Legend of Ulenspiegel and Lamme Goedzak


Original Title Page.
The Legend of Ulenspiegel
And Lamme Goedzak, and their Adventures Heroical, Joyous and Glorious in the Land of Flanders and Elsewhere
Vol. I
London: William Heinemann

London: William Heinemann.


Béatrice de Holthoir



Book I 1
Book II 251

The Legend of Ulenspiegel and Lamme Goedzak

And their Adventures Heroical, Joyous, and Glorious in the Land of Flanders and Elsewhere.

Book I



When May was unfolding the whitethorn blossom Ulenspiegel, son of Claes, was born at Damme in Flanders.

A gossip midwife, by name Katheline, wrapt him in warm swaddling clothes, and, looking at his head, pointed out a caul on it.

“A caul! he is born under a lucky star!” exclaimed she, rejoicing.

But in a moment, lamenting and displaying a little black spot on the babe’s shoulder:

“Alas,” she wept, “’tis the black print of the devil’s finger.”

“Master Satan has been getting up very early, then,” rejoined Claes, “if he has had time already to put his mark on my son.”

“It was not yet his bedtime,” said Katheline, “for there is Chantecleer only now waking up the hens.”

And she went away, putting the child in the arms of Claes.

Then the dawn burst through the night clouds, the [2]swallows skimmed the meadows with shrill cries, and the sun showed his dazzling countenance, bright and red upon the horizon. Claes threw the window wide and spake to Ulenspiegel.

“Son with the caul,” said he, “lucky son, here is our lord Sun coming to salute the soil of Flanders. Look always on him when thou canst, and whenever thou art in a maze, knowing not what to do so as to do right, ask counsel of him: he is bright and warm; be thou honest as he is bright, and kind even as he is warm.”

“Husband Claes,” said Soetkin, “you are preaching to deaf ears; come, drink, my son.”

And the mother offered the newly born nature’s goodly flagons.



While Ulenspiegel drank of them, and called for no cup, all the birds in the countryside awoke.

Claes, who was binding faggots, looked upon his wife as she gave the breast to Ulenspiegel.

“Wife,” said he, “have you laid up store of this good milk?”

“The jars are full,” said she, “but that is not enough for my content.”

“You speak piteously of so great a joy.”

“’Tis in my mind,” said she, “that in the wallet you see hanging by the wall there is not one poor patard.”

Claes took the wallet in his hand; but in vain did he shake it, no morning song of coin answered him from within. Thereat he was chapfallen, but wishing nevertheless to hearten his good wife.

“Why do you vex yourself?” said he. “Have we not in the hutch the cake Katheline gave us yesterday? [3]Do not I behold a noble piece of beef that for three days at least will make good milk for the babe? That sack of beans squatting so snugly in the corner, does it prophesy famine? Yon firkin of butter, is it a ghost? Be they but phantoms, those bright platoons and companies of apples ranged warrior-like in ranks of eleven in the loft? Doth not that full-girthed cask of Bruges cuyte, that in its belly keeps the wherewithal for our refreshing, doth it not proclaim good drinking?”

“Needs must,” said Soetkin, “when the babe is borne to baptism, that we give two patards to the priest and a florin for the feasting.”

Therewith entered Katheline, holding a great sheaf of plants in her hand, saying:

“I bring the lucky babe angelica, that keepeth man from lewdness; fennel that putteth Satan to flight....”

“Have you not,” said Claes, “gotten the herb that conjureth florins?”

“Nay,” quoth she.

“Then,” said he, “I will even go see if there be none in the canal.”

Forth he went carrying line and net, being well assured of meeting nobody, for it still lacked an hour of the oosterzon, which is, in Flanders, the morning sun of six of the clock.



Claes came to the canal of Bruges, not far from the sea. There, baiting his line, he cast it in the water, and let down his net. A little lad, well attired, lay upon the other bank, sleeping like a log upon a clump of mussels.

The noise Claes made awoke him, and he would have [4]fled away, fearing it might be some sergeant of the commune coming to turn him off his couch and hale him to the Steen for unlicensed vagrancy.

But his fears ceased when he knew Claes and when he heard him call:

“Would you like to earn six liards? Drive the fish this way.”

The lad on the word went down into the water, with his little belly already showing round and puffed up, and, arming himself with a tuft of long reeds, drove the fish toward Claes.

His fishing over, Claes drew in his net and line, and walking across the lock, came to the lad.

“You are he,” said Claes, “whom they call Lamme by baptism and Goedzak for your gentle nature, and you live in the street of the Heron, behind Notre Dame. How comes it, young and well clothed as you are, that you must needs sleep on a public bed?”

“Alas, master coalman,” replied the lad, “at home I have a sister a year younger than I, who beats me with heavy blows for the smallest wrangle. But I dare not take my revenge on her back, for I should do her a hurt. Last night, at supper, I was an-hungered and cleaned with my fingers a dish of beef and beans in which she meant to have a share. There was not enough of it for me, master. When she saw me licking my lips for the goodness of the sauce, she became as one out of her wits, and beat me so fast and furiously that I fled all bruised from out of the house.”

Claes asked him what his father and mother did during all this cuffing.

Lamme Goedzak replied:

“My father beat me on one shoulder and my mother [5]on the other saying, ‘Avenge thyself, coward!’ But I, not willing to strike a girl, fled away.”

Suddenly Lamme grew pale and trembled all over.

And Claes saw a tall woman approaching, and by her side a little girl lean and of a fierce aspect.

“Ah!” said Lamme, taking hold of Claes by his breeches, “here be my mother and my sister coming to find me. Protect me, master coalman.”

“Here,” said Claes, “first take these seven liards for wages and let us go stoutly to meet them.”

When the two women saw Lamme, they ran to him and both were fain to beat him, the mother because she had been anxious and the sister because it was her habit.

Lamme hid behind Claes and cried:

“I have earned seven liards, I have earned seven liards, do not beat me!”

But already the mother was hugging him, while the little girl tried with might and main to open Lamme’s hands to have his money. But Lamme cried:

“It’s mine. You shall not have it.”

And he clenched his fists tight.

Claes shook the girl smartly by the ears and said to her:

“If you happen ever again to raise a brawl with your brother, who is as good and gentle as a lamb, I shall put you in a black coal-hole and there it will not be I that pull your ears, but the red devil out of hell, who will rend you in pieces with his long claws and his big forked teeth.”

At this threat the little girl, not daring now to look at Claes or to go near Lamme, took shelter behind her mother’s skirts. But as she went into the town she cried out everywhere:

“The coalman beat me: he has the devil in his cellar.” [6]

However, she never struck Lamme again; but being tall, she made him work instead of her. And the kindly simpleton did it with a good will.

On his way back Claes had sold his catch to a farmer who usually bought it from him. And reaching home he said to Soetkin:

“Here is what I found in the belly of four pike, nine carp, and a basketful of eels.” And he threw two florins and a patard on the table.

“Why do you not go a-fishing every day, husband?” asked Soetkin.

Claes replied:

“Not to be fish myself in the nets of the constables.”



At Damme they called Ulenspiegel’s father Claes the Kooldraeger or coalman: Claes had a black fell, eyes shining bright, a skin the same colour as his wares, except on Sundays and feast days, when there was great plenty of soap in the cottage. He was short, square, and strong, and of a gay countenance.

When the day was ended and the evening shadows were falling, if he went to some tavern on the Bruges road, to wash out his coal-blackened gullet with cuyte, all the women taking the cool air on their doorsteps would call out a friendly greeting:

“Good even and clear beer, coalman!”

“Good even and a wakeful husband,” Claes would reply.

The lasses coming back from the fields in troops used to plant themselves all in front of him so as to prevent him from going on, and would say: [7]

“What will you give for your right of way: scarlet ribbon, gilt buckle, velvet shoon, or florin in the pouch?”

But Claes would take one round the waist and kiss her cheeks or her neck, according to which fresh skin was nearest his mouth, then he would say:

“Ask your lovers, darlings, ask your lovers for the rest.”

Then they would go off in bursts of laughter.

The boys knew Claes by his big voice and the clatter of his shoes. Running to him they would say:

“Good evening, coalman.”

“God give you the like, my cherublings,” Claes would answer, “but don’t come too close, or I shall turn you into blackamoors.”

The little fellows, being bold, would come close all the same; and then he would seize one by the tunic, and rubbing his soft little muzzle with his smutty hands, would send him back like that, laughing in spite of it, to the great delight of all the others.

Soetkin, Claes’s wife, was a good helpmeet, early as the dawn and diligent as the ant.

She and Claes tilled their field together, yoking themselves like oxen to the plough. Hard and toilsome was the dragging, but harder still the harrowing when that rustic engine must tear the stiff earth with its wooden teeth. Yet always they worked light-hearted, singing some ballad song.

And in vain was the earth stony hard; in vain did the sun dart his hottest beams upon them: dragging the harrow, bending at the knees, it was as naught that they must strain their loins cruelly; when they would pause, and Soetkin turn toward Claes her gentle face, [8]and Claes kiss that mirror of a tender heart, then, ah, then, they would forget their utter weariness.



Last night it had been cried at the doorway of the Townhall that Madam, the wife of the Emperor Charles, being great with child, all men must pray for her speedy delivery.

Katheline came to Claes’s house all trembling.

“What aileth thee, gossip?” asked the goodman.

“Alas me!” she replied, and spoke brokenly. “Last night, spectres cutting down men as reapers mow the grass. Girl children buried quick! The hangman danced on the corpse——Stone sweating blood nine months, broken this night.”

“Have pity upon us,” groaned Soetkin, “Lord God, have pity: ’tis a black foreboding for the land of Flanders.”

“Sawest thou that with thine eyes or in a dream?” asked Claes.

“With mine own eyes,” said Katheline.

All pale and weeping Katheline spake again:

“Two boy babes are born, one in Spain, the Infante Philip, the other in the country of Flanders, the son of Claes who will in after days be surnamed Ulenspiegel. Philip will become a butcher, being engendered by Charles the Fifth, the murderer of our country. Ulenspiegel will be greatly learned in jests and pranks of youth, but he will be kind of heart, having had to father Claes, the stout worker that knew how to earn his bread in courage, honour, and simplicity. Charles the Emperor and Philip the King will ride roughshod [9]through life, working ill by battles, exactions, and other crimes. Claes toiling all week long, living by righteousness and law, and laughing instead of weeping in his heavy labours, will be the ensample of all the good workers of Flanders. Ulenspiegel ever young, and never to die, will run throughout the world without ever tying himself to any place. And he will be churl, noble, painter, sculptor, all together and at once. And through the world will journey in this wise, praising all things good and lovely, and flouting without stint all manner of folly. Claes is thy courage, noble Flanders folk, Soetkin thy valiant mother, Ulenspiegel is thy spirit; a darling sweet girl, Ulenspiegel’s mate and like him immortal, will be thy heart, and a fat paunch, Lamme Goedzak, will be thy stomach. And up aloft shall be the devourers of the folk; below, the victims; aloft the thieving hornets, below, the toiling bees, and in the skies shall bleed the wounds of Christ.”

This much having said, Katheline the good spaewife fell on sleep.



They bore Ulenspiegel to baptism: on a sudden fell a spouting shower that soaked him through. Thus was he baptized for the first time.

When he came within the church, word was given to godfather and godmother, father and mother, by the schoolmaster beadle, that they were to range themselves about the baptismal font, the which they did.

But there was in the roof above the font a hole made by a mason wherefrom to hang a lamp from a star of gilded wood. The mason, spying from on high the godfather and godmother stiffly standing around the font [10]covered with its lid, poured through the hole in the roof a treacherous bucket of water, which falling between them upon the lid of the font made a mighty splashing. But Ulenspiegel had the biggest share. And thus was he baptized for the second time.

The dean arrived: they complained to him; but he told them to make haste, and that it was an accident. Ulenspiegel was twisting about and kicking because of the water that had fallen on him. The dean gave him salt and water, and named him Thylbert, which signifies “rich in movements.” Thus he was baptized for the third time.

Leaving Notre Dame, they went opposite the church in the rue Longue to the Rosary of Bottles whose credo was a jar. There they drank seventeen quarts of dobbel-cuyt, and more. For this is the true Flanders way of drying drenched folk, to light a fire of beer in the belly. Ulenspiegel was thus baptized for the fourth time.

Going home and zigzagging along the road, their heads weighing more than their bodies, they came to a foot plank thrown across a little pool; Katheline, the godmother, was carrying the child, she missed her footing and fell in the mud with Ulenspiegel, who was thus baptized for the fifth time.

But he was pulled out of the pond and washed with warm water in the house of Claes, and that was his sixth baptism.



On that same day, His Sacred Majesty Charles resolved to hold high festival to celebrate the birth of his son befittingly. Like Claes he determined to go a-fishing, not in a canal, but in the pouches and pockets [11]of his people. Thence is it that sovereign houses draw crusadoes, silver daelders, gold lions, and all those miraculous fishes that change, at the fisher’s will, into velvet robes, priceless jewels, exquisite wines, and dainty meats. For the rivers best stocked with fish are not those that hold most water.

Having brought together his councillors, His Sacred Majesty resolved that the fishing should be done in the following manner.

His lordship the Infante should be borne to baptism toward nine or ten of the clock; the inhabitants of Valladolid, to testify their joy, should hold revelry and feast all night long, at their own charges, and should scatter their silver upon the great square for the poor.

In five carfaxes there should be a great fountain spouting until daybreak with strong wine paid for by the city. In five other carfaxes there should be displayed, upon wooden stages, sausages, saveloys, botargoes, chitterlings, ox tongues, and all kinds of meats, also at the city’s charges.

The folk of Valladolid should erect at their own expense, along the route of the procession, a great number of triumphal arches representing Peace, Felicity, Abundance, Propitious Fortune, and emblems of all and sundry gifts from the skies with which they were loaded under the reign of His Sacred Majesty.

Finally, besides these pacific arches, there should be set up certain others on which should be displayed in bright colours less benignant emblems, as lions, eagles, lances, halberds, pikes with wavy bladed heads, hackbuts, cannons, falconets, mortars with their huge jowls, and other engines showing in image the might and power in war of His Sacred Majesty. [12]

As for the lighting of the church, it should be graciously permitted to the Guild of Candlemakers to make free gratis and for nothing more than twenty thousand wax tapers, the unburned ends of which should revert to the chapter.

As for any other expenses, the Emperor would gladly bear them, thus showing his kindly determination not to burden his people overmuch.

As the commune was about to carry out these orders, lamentable tidings came from Rome. Orange, Alençon and Frundsberg, captains of the Emperor, had entered into the holy city and there sacked and spoiled churches, chapels, and houses, sparing no living soul, priests, nuns, women, children. The Holy Father had been made prisoner. For a whole week pillage had never ceased, and Reiters and Landsknechts were wandering through Rome, stuffed with food, drunken with wine, brandishing their weapons, hunting for cardinals, declaring they would cut enough out of their hides to save them from ever becoming popes. Others, having already carried out this threat, strutted proudly through the city, wearing on their breast rosaries of twenty-eight or more beads, big as walnuts, and all bloody. Certain streets were red streams in which lay heaped the rifled bodies of the dead.

Some said that the Emperor, needing money, had determined to fish for it in the blood of the Church, and that having taken cognizance of the treaty imposed by his commanders upon the captive pontiff, he forced him to cede all the strongholds in his states, to pay four hundred thousand ducats and to be prisoner until all was duly carried out.

None the less, great was His Majesty’s grief; he [13]countermanded all the joyous preparations, all feasts and rejoicings, and ordered the lords and ladies of his palace to don mourning.

And the Infante was baptized in white robes, the hue of royal mourning.

And lords and ladies interpreted this as a sinister omen.

For all this, my lady the nurse presented the Infante to the lords and ladies of the palace, that these might, as is the custom, offer good wishes and gifts.

Madame de la Coena hanged upon his neck a black stone potent against poison, the size and shape of a hazelnut, with a gold shell; Madame de Chauffade fastened upon him, by a silken cord, hanging down upon his stomach, a filbert, the which bringeth good digestion of all nourishment; Messire van der Steen of Flanders gave a Ghent sausage five ells long and half an ell in thickness, wishing that at its mere fragrance His Highness might be thirsty for clauwaert in the manner of the people of Ghent, saying that whoso loveth the beer of a town will never hate the brewers; Messire Squire Jacque-Christophe of Castile prayed my Lord the Infante to wear green jasper on his tiny feet, to make him run well. Jan de Paepe the fool, who was there present, exclaimed:

“Messire, give him rather the trumpet of Joshua, at the sound whereof all towns ran full trot before him, hastening to plant themselves elsewhere with all their inhabitants, men and women and babes. For monseigneur must not learn to run, but to make others run.”

The tearful widow of Floris van Borsele, who was lord of Veere in Zealand, gave Monseigneur Philip a stone, which, said she, made men loving and women inconsolable.

But the Infante whimpered like a young calf. [14]

At the same time Claes was putting in his son’s hands a rattle made of osier, with little bells, and said, dancing Ulenspiegel on his hand: “Bells, bells, tinkling bells may you have ever on your cap, manikin; for ’tis to the fools belongeth the realm of good days.”

And Ulenspiegel laughed.



Claes having caught a big salmon, that salmon was eaten one Sunday by himself and by Soetkin, Katheline, and little Ulenspiegel, but Katheline ate no more than a bird.

“Gossip,” said Claes to her, “is Flanders air so solid to-day that it is enough for you to breathe it to be fed as with a dish of meat? When shall we live in this wise? Rain would be good soup, it would hail beans, and the snows, transformed to celestial fricassees, would restore and refresh poor travelling folk.”

Katheline, nodding her head, uttered not a word.

“Lo now,” said Claes, “our dolorous gossip. What is it grieves her then?”

But Katheline, in a voice that seemed but a low breathing:

“The wicked one,” said she, “night is falling black—I hear him announcing his coming—screaming like a sea hawk—shuddering, I beseech the Virgin—in vain. For him, neither walls nor hedges nor doors nor windows. Entereth anywhere like a spirit——Ladder creaking——He beside me in the garret where I sleep. Seizes me in his cold arms, hard like marble. Face frozen cold, kisses like damp snow——The cottage tossed upon the earth, moving like a bark on the stormy sea....” [15]

“You must go,” said Claes, “every morning to mass, that our Lord Jesu may give you strength to drive away this phantom come from hell.”

“He is so handsome!” said she.



Being weaned, Ulenspiegel grew like a young poplar.

Claes now did not kiss him often, but loved him with a surly air so as not to spoil him.

When Ulenspiegel would come home, complaining of being beaten in some fray, Claes would beat him because he had not beaten the others, and thus educated Ulenspiegel became valiant as a young lion.

If Claes was from home, Ulenspiegel would ask Soetkin for a liard, to go play. Soetkin, angry, would say, “What need have you to go play? It would fit you better to stay at home to tie faggots.”

Seeing that she would give him nothing, Ulenspiegel would cry like an eagle, but Soetkin would make a great clatter of pots and pans, which she was washing in a wooden tub, to pretend she did not hear him. Then would Ulenspiegel weep, and the gentle mother, dropping her feigned harshness, would come to him, petting him, and say, “Will a denier be enough for you?” Now take notice that a denier is worth six liards.

So she loved him overmuch, and when Claes was not there, Ulenspiegel was king in the house.



One morning Soetkin beheld Claes with head down wandering about the kitchen like a man lost in his own thought. [16]

“What grieves thee, husband?” said she. “Thou art pale, wroth, and distraught.”

Claes answered in a low tone, like a growling dog:

“They are going to renew the Emperor’s cruel edicts. Death will hover once more over the soil of Flanders. Informers are to have the half of the victims’ goods, if the goods exceed not a hundred florins carolus.”

“We are poor folk,” said she.

“Poor,” said he, “but not poor enough. There are some of that vile crew, ravens and vultures living on corpses, who would denounce us to divide a basket of charcoal with His Majesty as well as a bag of carolus. What had poor Tanneken, the widow of Sis the tailor, who perished at Heyst, buried alive? A Latin Bible, three gold florins, and some pewter pans that her neighbour coveted. Johannah Martens was burned for a witch, being first flung into water, for her body had floated and they took it as a judgment of heaven. She had some poor bits of furniture, seven gold carolus in a purse, and the informer wanted half. Alas! I could tell thee the like until to-morrow, but come, goodwife, life is no longer worth the living in Flanders by reason of these edicts. Soon every night will the chariot of death pass through the town, and we shall hear the skeleton shaking in it with a dry clatter of bones.”

“You must not frighten me, husband. The Emperor is the father of Flanders and Brabant, and like a father is endued with long-suffering gentleness, patience, and compassion.”

“He would lose too much by that,” said Claes, “for he inherits the goods that are confiscate.”

Of a sudden sounded the trumpet and gnashed the cymbals of the town herald. Claes and Soetkin, carrying [17]Ulenspiegel in their arms turn about, ran to the sound with the crowd.

They came to the Townhall, before which were the heralds upon horseback, blowing their trumpets and clashing their cymbals, the provost holding the wand of justice and the procurator of the commune on horseback, holding in both hands an edict of the Emperor and making ready to read it to the assembled throng.

Claes heard that it was thenceforward straightly forbidden, to all men in general and in particular, to print, read, have, or maintain the writings, books, or doctrine of Martin Luther, Johannes Wycliff, Johannes Huss, Marcilius de Padua, Æcolampadius, Ulricus Zwinglius, Philippus Melancthon, Franciscus Lambertus, Joannes Pomeranus, Otto Brunselsius, Justus Jonas, Johannes Puperis et Gorcianus, the New Testaments printed by Adrien de Berghes, Christopher de Remonda, and Joannes Zel, full of Lutheran and other heresies, banned and condemned by the Theological Faculty of the University of Louvain.

“In like manner neither to paint or pourtray, nor cause to be painted or pourtrayed either opprobrious figures of God and the Blessed Virgin or of their saints; nor to break, rend, or efface the images or pourtraitures made in honour, memory, or remembrance of God and of the Virgin Mary or of saints approved by the Church.

“Furthermore,” said the proclamation, “no man, of whatever station, shall put himself forward to discuss or dispute upon Holy Writ, even upon matters that are held in doubt, if he is not a theologian renowned and approved by a great university.”

His Sacred Majesty enacted among other penalties [18]that suspected persons should ever after be incapable of holding honourable estate. As for persons fallen a second time into their error, or persons who were stubborn therein, they should be condemned to burn by a slow fire or quick, in an envelope of straw, or fastened to a stake, at the discretion of the judge. Other men should be executed by the sword if they were noble or reputable burgesses, churls by the gallows, and women by burying alive. Their heads, for a warning, should be planted on spikes. And there would be confiscation to the Emperor of the goods and chattels of all that lay within the limits of confiscation.

His Sacred Majesty granted to informers the half of all possessed by the condemned, provided their goods did not amount in all to one hundred pounds in Flanders money. As for the Emperor’s portion, he reserved to himself the right to employ it in works of piety and alms, as he did at the sack of Rome.

And Claes went sadly away, with Soetkin and Ulenspiegel.



The year had been a good one, and Claes bought a donkey and nine measures of peas for seven florins and one morning he mounted on the beast, and Ulenspiegel clung to the crupper behind him. They were going in this fashion to salute their uncle and elder brother, Josse Claes, who lived not far from Meyborg in Germany.

Josse, who had been simple and kind in his youth, having suffered various wrongs, became crotchety and malicious, his blood turned to bile in his veins, he became misanthropic and lived solitary and alone. [19]

His delight then was to make two so-called faithful friends fight each other, and he would give three patards to the one that gave the other the hardest drubbing.

He loved also to bring together in a well-heated room a great many old gossips, the oldest and crabbedest that could be found, and he would give them toasted bread to eat and hypocras to drink.

Those who were more than sixty years old he gave wool to knit in a corner, recommending them to let their nails always grow long. And it was a marvel to hear all the gurgling, the tongue clacking, the ill-natured tattle, the thin coughings and spittings of these old hags, who, with their knitting needles under their armpits, sat all together nibbling at their neighbours’ good name.

Now when he saw them all animated and lively, Josse would throw a hank of hair into the fire, and as it flared up the air would all at once be poisoned.

The gossips then, all talking together, would accuse each other of making the stench; all denying it, they would very soon have each other by the hair, and Josse would go on throwing more hair on the fire, and chopped up horsehair on the floor. When he could see no longer, by reason of the fury of the mêlée, the thick smoke and the flying dust, he would fetch two of his men disguised as constables, who would drive the old women out of the hall, beating them soundly with long switches, like a troop of angry geese.

And Josse would examine the battlefield, finding strips of clothes, fragments of shoes, pieces of chemises, and old teeth.

And filled with melancholy he would say to himself: [20]

“My day is wasted, never a one of them has left her tongue behind in the mêlée.”



Claes, being in the bailiwick of Meyborg, was going through a little wood: the donkey as he travelled was browsing on the thistles; Ulenspiegel was throwing his bonnet after the butterflies and picking it up without leaving the beast’s back. Claes was eating a hunch of bread, meaning to wash it down at the next tavern. Far off he heard a bell clinking and the noise of a great crowd of men all speaking together.

“’Tis some pilgrimage,” said he, “and the pilgrims will doubtless be numerous. Hold on well, my son, to the donkey, so that they may not knock you over. Come and let us see. Now, then, ass, stick to my heels.”

And the ass began to run.

Leaving the fringe of the wood, he descended towards a wide plateau bordered by a stream at the foot of its western slope. On the eastern slope was a little chapel with a gable surmounted by the image of Our Lady and at her feet two little figures each representing a bull. Upon the chapel steps, grinning with glee, were a hermit shaking his bell, fifty flunkeys holding lighted candles, players, blowers, bangers of drums, clarions, fifes, shawms, and bagpipes, and a knot of jolly companions holding with both hands iron boxes full of old metal, but all silent at the moment.

Five thousand pilgrims and more went along seven by seven in close ranks, casques on their heads, cudgels of green wood in their hands. If there came fresh [21]arrivals helmeted and armed in like fashion, they ranged themselves tumultuously behind the others. Then passing seven by seven before the chapel they had their cudgels blessed, received each man a candle from the hands of the flunkeys, and in exchange paid a demi-florin to the hermit.

And so long was the procession that the candles of the first were burnt down to the end of the wick while those of the latest were all but choking with too much tallow.

Claes, Ulenspiegel, and the donkey, astonished, saw thus passing before them an immense variety of bellies, broad, long, high, pointed, proud, firm, or falling ignobly upon their natural props. And all the pilgrims had casques on their heads.

Some of these casques had come from Troy, and were like Phrygian caps, or surmounted by aigrettes of red horsehair; some of the pilgrims, though they were fat-faced and paunchy, wore helms with outspread wings, but had no notion of flying; then came those who had on their heads salades that snails would have disdained for their lack of greenery.

But the greater part had casques so old and rusty that they seemed to date from the days of Gambrinus, the King of Flanders and of beer, the which monarch lived nine hundred years before Our Lord and wore a quart pot for a hat, so that he need never have to refrain from drinking for lack of a cup.

All at once rang, droned, thundered, thumped, squealed, brayed, clattered bells, bagpipes, shawms, drums, and ironmongery.

At the sound of this din, the signal for the pilgrims, they turned about, placing themselves face to face by bands of seven, and by way of provocation every man [22]thrust his flaming candle into the face of his opposite. Therefrom arose great sternutation. And it began to rain green wood. And they fought with foot, with head, with heel, with everything. Some hurled upon their adversaries like rams, casque foremost, smashing it down on to their shoulders, and ran blinded to fall on a seven-fold rank of furious pilgrims, the which received them ungently.

Others, whimperers and cowards, bemoaned themselves because of the blows, but while they were mumbling their dolorous paternosters, there whirled upon them, swift as a thunderbolt, two sevens of struggling pilgrims, flinging the poor blubberers to earth and trampling them without compassion.

And the hermit laughed.

Other sevens, keeping in clusters like grapes, rolled from the top of the plateau into the very stream where they still exchanged shrewd strokes without quenching their fury.

And the hermit laughed.

Those that remained upon the plateau were blacking each other’s eyes, breaking each other’s teeth, tearing out each other’s hair, rending each other’s doublet and breeches.

And the hermit would laugh and call out:

“Courage, friends, he that smiteth sore but loves the more. To the hardest hitters the love of their fair ones! Our Lady of Rindisbels, ’tis here may be seen the true males!”

And the pilgrims fell to it with joyous heart.

Claes, meanwhile, had drawn near the hermit, while Ulenspiegel, laughing and shouting, applauded the blows.

“Father,” said Claes, “what crime, then, have these [23]poor fellows committed to be forced so cruelly to strike one another?”

But the hermit, not giving ear to him, shouted:

“Lazybones! ye lose courage. If the fists are weary are the feet? God’s life! some of you have legs to run like hares! What makes fire leap from the flint? ’Tis the iron that beateth it. What blows up virility in old folk if not a goodly dish of blows well seasoned with male fury?”

At these words, the pilgrims continued to belabour one another with casque, with hands, with feet. ’Twas a wild mêlée where not Argus with his hundred eyes had seen aught but the flying dust or the peak of some casque.

Sudden the hermit clanked his bell. Fifes, drums, trumpets, bagpipes, shawms, and old iron ceased their din. And this was the signal for peace.

The pilgrims picked up their wounded. Among them were seen many tongues swollen with anger, protruding from the mouths of the combatants. But they returned of themselves to their accustomed palates. Most difficult of all it was to take off the casques of those who had thrust them down as far as their necks, and now were shaking their heads, but without making them fall, no more than green plums.

None the less the hermit said to them:

“Recite each one an Ave and go back to your good wives. Nine months hence there will be as many children more in the bailiwick as there were valiant champions in the battle to-day.”

And the hermit sang the Ave and all sang it with him. And the bell tinkled above.

Then the hermit blessed them in the name of Our Lady of Rindisbels and said:

“Go in peace!” [24]

They departed shouting, jostling, and singing all the way to Meyborg. All the goodwives, old and young, were waiting for them on the threshold of their houses which they entered like men at arms in a town taken by storm.

The bells of Meyborg were pealing their loudest: the little lads whistled, shouted, played the rommel-pot.

Quart stoups, tankards, goblets, glasses, flagons, and pint-pots rang and jingled marvellously. And the good wine rolled in waves down thirsty throats.

During this ringing, and while the wind brought to the ears of Claes from the town, in gusts, songs of men and women and children, he spake once again to the hermit, asking him what heavenly boon these good folk looked to win by these rough devotions.

The hermit answered, laughing:

“Thou seest upon this chapel two carven images, representing two bulls. They are placed there in memory of the miracle whereby Saint Martin transformed two bullocks into bulls, by making them fight with their horns. Then he rubbed their muzzles with a candle and green wood for an hour and longer.

“Wotting of the miracle, and fortified with a brief from His Holiness, for which I paid roundly, I came hither and established myself.

“Thenceforward all the ancient coughers and big-bellies in Meyborg and the country roundabout, persuaded by my arguments, were certain that having once beaten one another soundly with the candle, the which is unction, and with the cudgel, that is power, they would win favour of Our Lady. The women send their ancient husbands hither. The children born by virtue of this pilgrimage are violent, bold, fierce, nimble, and make perfect soldiers.” [25]

Suddenly the hermit said to Claes:

“Dost thou know me?”

“Yea,” said Claes, “thou art Josse my brother.”

“I am,” replied the hermit; “but what is this little man that makes faces at me?”

“It is thy nephew,” said Claes.

“What difference dost thou make between me and the Emperor Charles?”

“It is great,” replied Claes.

“It is but small,” rejoined Josse, “for we do both alike, we two: he makes men to slay one another, I to beat one another for our gain and pleasure.”

Then he brought them to his hermitage, where they held feast and revel for eleven days without pause or truce.



Claes, when he parted from his brother, mounted his donkey once more, taking Ulenspiegel on the crupper behind him. He passed by the great square of Meyborg, and there beheld, assembled in groups, a great number of pilgrims, who seeing them became enraged and flourishing their cudgels they all suddenly cried out, “Scamp!” because of Ulenspiegel, who, opening his breeches, plucked up his shirt and showed them his nether visage.

Claes, seeing that it was his son they were threatening, said to him:

“What did you do for them to be so angry against you?”

“Dear father,” replied Ulenspiegel, “I am sitting on the donkey, saying no word to any man, and nevertheless they say I am a scamp.”

Then Claes set him in front.

In this position Ulenspiegel thrust out his tongue [26]at the pilgrims, who, roaring, shook their fists at him, and lifting up their cudgels, would fain have beaten Claes and the donkey.

But Claes smote the beast with his heels to flee from their wrath, and while they pursued, losing their breath, he said to his son:

“Thou wert then born on a luckless day, for thou art sitting in front of me, doing no harm to any, and yet they would fain destroy thee.”

Ulenspiegel laughed.

Passing by Liège, Claes learned that the poor Rivageois were starving and that they had been placed under the jurisdiction of the Official, a tribunal composed of ecclesiastical judges. They made a riot demanding bread and lay judges. Some were beheaded or hanged, and the rest banished out of the country, such at that time was the clemency of Monseigneur de la Marck, the gentle archbishop.

Claes saw by the way the banished folk, fleeing from the pleasant vale of Liège, and on the trees near to the town the bodies of men hanged for being hungry. And he wept over them.



When he came home, riding upon his donkey, and provided with a bag full of patards his brother Josse had given him and a goodly tankard of pewter, there were in the cottage Sunday good cheer and daily feasts, for every day they had meat and beans to eat.

Claes filled often the great pewter tankard with dobbel-cuyt and emptied it as often.

Ulenspiegel ate for three and paddled in the dishes like a sparrow in a heap of corn. [27]

“Look,” said Claes, “he’s eating the saltcellar, too!”

Ulenspiegel answered:

“When the saltcellar, as in our house, is made of a hollow piece of bread, it must be eaten now and then, lest the worms might come in it as it gets old.”

“Why,” said Soetkin, “do you wipe your greasy hands on your breeches?”

“So that I may never have my thighs wet,” replied Ulenspiegel.

At this moment Claes drank a deep draught from his tankard. Ulenspiegel said to him:

“Why have you so big a cup, I have only a poor little mug?”

Claes answered:

“Because I am your father and the baes of this house.”

Ulenspiegel retorted:

“You have been drinking for forty years, I for nine only; your time to drink is passed, mine is come; it is therefore for me to have the tankard and for you to take the mug.”

“Son,” said Claes, “he that would pour a hogshead into a keg would throw his beer into the gutter.”

“You will then be wise to pour your keg into my hogshead, for I am bigger than your tankard,” replied Ulenspiegel.

And Claes, delighted, gave him his tankard to drain. In this wise Ulenspiegel learned how to talk for his drink.



Soetkin carried beneath her girdle the signs of renewed maternity; Katheline, too, was with child, but for fear dared not stir out of her house. [28]

When Soetkin went to see her:

“Ah!” said she, lamenting, “what shall I do with the poor fruit of my womb? Must I strangle it? I would rather die. But if the constables take me, for having a child without being married, they will make me pay twenty florins, like a girl of loose life, and I shall be whipped on the marketplace.”

Soetkin then said some soothing word to console her, and having left her, went home pondering. Then one day she said to Claes:

“If instead of one child I had two, would you beat me, husband?”

“I don’t know that,” replied Claes.

“But,” said she, “if this second were not born of me, and like Katheline’s were the offspring of an unknown, of the devil, mayhap?”

“Devils,” replied Claes, “engender fire, death, and foul smoke, but not children. I will hold as mine the child of Katheline.”

“You would do this?” she said.

“I have said,” replied Claes.

Soetkin went to tell Katheline.

Hearing it, the latter cried out, overjoyed.

“He has spoken, good man, spoken for the sake of my poor body. He will be blessed by God, and blessed of the devil, if it is a devil,” she said, shuddering, “that hath made thee, poor babe that movest in my bosom.”

Soetkin and Katheline brought into the world one a lad, the other a girl. Both were borne to baptism, as son and daughter of Claes. Soetkin’s son was named Hans, and did not live, Katheline’s daughter was named Nele and throve well.

She drank the wine of life from four flagons, two [29]of Katheline and two of Soetkin. And the two women quarrelled softly which should give the babe to drink. But against her desire Katheline must needs allow her milk to dry up, so that none might ask whence it came without her having been a mother.

When little Nele, her daughter, was weaned, she took her home and only let the child go to Soetkin’s when she had called her her mother.

The neighbours said it was well done of Katheline, who was well to do, to feed the child of the Claes, who for the most part lived in poverty their toilsome life.



Ulenspiegel found himself alone one morning at home, and for want of something better to do, he began to cut up one of his father’s shoes to make a little ship. Already he had planted the mainmast in the sole and bored the toe for the bowsprit, when at the half door he saw passing the bust of a horseman and the head of a horse.

“Is any one within?” asked the horseman.

“There are,” replied Ulenspiegel, “a man and a half and a horse’s head.”

“How so?” asked the horseman.

“Because I see here a whole man, which is me; the half of a man, which is your bust; and a horse’s head, which is that of your steed.”

“Where are your father and your mother?” asked the man.

“My father has gone to make bad worse,” replied Ulenspiegel, “and my mother is engaged in bringing us shame or loss.” [30]

“Explain,” said the horseman.

Ulenspiegel answered:

“My father at this moment is deepening the holes in his field so as to bring from bad to worse the huntsmen who trample down his corn. My mother has gone to borrow money: if she repays too little ’twill shame us, if too much ’twill be our loss.”

The man asked then which way he should go.

“Where the geese are,” replied Ulenspiegel.

The man went away and came back just when Ulenspiegel was making an oared galley out of Claes’s other shoe.

“You have misled me,” said he: “where the geese are is nothing but mud and marsh in which they are paddling.”

Ulenspiegel answered to this:

“I did not tell you to go where the geese paddle, but where they go.”

“Show me, at any rate,” said the man, “a road that goes to Heyst.”

“In Flanders, it is the travellers that go and not the roads,” said Ulenspiegel.



One day Soetkin said to Claes:

“Husband, my heart is sad: it is now three days since Thyl left the house; dost thou not know where he is?”

Claes replied ruefully:

“He is where homeless dogs are, on some highway with a crew of other vagabonds of his own kidney. God was cruel to give us such a son. When he was born, I beheld in him the joy of our age, a tool more [31]in the house; I looked to make a craftsman of him, and wicked fate makes him a thief and a drone.”

“Be not so hard, husband,” said Soetkin, “our son being but nine years old is in the heyday of childish thoughtlessness and folly. Is it not so that like the trees, he must shed the young buds before the coming of the full leaves, which for the human tree are honour and virtue? He is full of tricks, I am not blind to them, but they will turn later to his advantage, if instead of employing them to ill ends, he applies them to some useful trade. He is prone to flout his neighbours; but later this will help him to hold his own in merry company. He laughs ever and always; but faces sour before they are ripe are an ill omen for the countenance to come. If he runs, ’tis that he must grow; if he does not work, it is for that he is not yet of an age to feel that work is duty, and if now and then he spends day and night away from home for half a week together, ’tis that he knows nothing of what grief he gives us, for he has a good heart, and he loves us.”

Claes wagged his head and made no answer, and while he slept, Soetkin wept alone. And in the morning, thinking that her son was sick in a corner of some highway, she went out on the doorstep to see if he was not coming back; but she saw nothing, and she sate near the window, looking thence into the street. And many a time her heart danced in her bosom at the sound of the light foot of some lad; but when he passed, she saw it was not Ulenspiegel, and then she wept, poor dolorous mother.

In the meanwhile, Ulenspiegel with his vagabond companions was at Bruges, at the Saturday fair. [32]

There might be seen cobblers and shoemakers in booths apart, tailors selling clothes, miesevangers from Antwerp, who catch tits with an owl at night; poultry sellers, dog stealers, vendors of catskins for gloves, waistcoats, and doublets, buyers of every kind and condition, burgesses and their womenfolk, menservants and maidservants, pantlers, butlers, and all together, sellers and buyers, crying up and crying down, vaunting and disparaging the wares.

In one corner of the fair there was a fine canvas tent erected on four poles. At the door of the tent, a churl from the flat country of Alost, with two monks who were there to get something for themselves, was showing the curious devout, for a patard, a piece of the shoulder blade of Saint Mary of Egypt. Hoarsely he bawled out the saint’s merits, and omitted not from his song how, having no silver, she paid a young ferryman in kind, so as not to sin against the Holy Ghost by refusing the labourer his hire.

And the two monks nodded their heads to show that what the churl said was true. By them was a woman fat and ruddy, lascivious as Astarte, violently inflating a wretched bagpipe, while a pretty young girl sang beside her like a nightingale; but no one listened to her. Above the entrance to the tent was hung on two poles, held by cords in the two handles, a bucket full of holy water that had been blessed in Rome, according to the fat woman, while the two monks waggled head to bear witness to her tale. Ulenspiegel, beholding the bucket, became pensive.

To one of the poles supporting the tent was fastened [33]a donkey that was fed more upon hay than on oats: head down it was gazing at the earth, with no hope of seeing thistles spring up from it.

“Comrades,” said Ulenspiegel, pointing with his finger at the fat woman, the two monks, and the ass, “since the masters sing so sweetly, we must make the donkey dance as well.”

So saying, he went off to the next booth, bought six liards’ worth of pepper, pulled up the donkey’s tail and clapped the pepper underneath.

The donkey, feeling the pepper at work, looked round under his tail to see whence proceeded this unwonted heat. Thinking he had a red-hot devil there, he would fain run away to escape him, began to bray and rear, and shook the tent pole with all his might. At the first shock, the tub between the two poles spilled all its holy water on the tent and on those who were within it. And presently collapsing, the tent covered with a moist mantle those who were hearkening to the history of Mary of Egypt. And from under the canvas Ulenspiegel and his companions heard a great noise of moaning and lamenting, for the devout who were there were wild with anger and exchanged furious thwacks and thumps with one another. The canvas rose and fell at the struggles of the combatants. Every time Ulenspiegel saw a roundness shape itself under the cloth, he stuck a needle into it. Then there were louder shrieks beneath the canvas and a more liberal distribution of thwackings.

And he was transported, but more still seeing the donkey fleeing and dragging behind him tent, tub, and poles, while the baes of the tent, his wife and [34]his daughter, hung desperately on to the baggage. The donkey, which could run no longer, lifted his head into the air and ceased not to sing, except in order to look beneath his tail to see if the fire there burning would not soon be extinguished.

All this while the devout were going on with their battle; the monks, without giving them a thought, were picking up the money that had fallen from the collecting dishes, and Ulenspiegel was helping them, most devoutly, not without profiting.



Whilst the vagabond son of the coalman was growing up gay and frolicsome, in lean melancholy vegetated the dolorous scion of the sublime Emperor. Lords and ladies saw the pitiful little weakling dragging through the rooms and corridors of Valladolid his frail body and his tottering limbs that could scarce sustain the weight of his big head, covered with fair stiff hair.

Ever seeking out the darkest corridors, there he would sit for hours thrusting out his legs in front of him. If a servant trod on him by accident, he had the man flogged, and took pleasure in hearing him cry out under the lashes, but he never laughed.

The next day, going elsewhere to set the same trap, he would sit again in some corridor with his legs thrust out. The ladies, lords, and pages who might pass there going fast or slow would trip over him, fall down and hurt themselves. He took pleasure in this, also, but he never laughed.

When one of them, having run into him, failed to fall, he would cry out as if he had been struck, [35]and he was delighted to see their fear, but he never laughed.

His Sacred Majesty was informed of his behaviour and gave orders to take no notice of the boy, saying that if he did not wish to have his legs trodden on, he ought not to put them in the way of people’s feet.

This angered Philip, but he said nothing, and no one saw him after, except when on bright summer days he went to warm his shivering body in the sunshine in the courtyard.

One day, coming back from the wars, Charles saw him steeped in melancholy in this fashion.

“Son,” said he, “how different art thou from me! At thy age, I loved to climb among trees to hunt the squirrels; I had myself lowered by a rope down some steep cliff to take eaglets from the nest. At this play I might have left my bones behind me; they but became the harder for it. In the chase the wild things fled to their dens when they saw me coming with my good arquebus.”

“Ah,” sighed the boy, “I have a pain in the belly, monseigneur my father.”

“The wine of Paxaretos,” said Charles, “is a sovereign cure.”

“I do not like wine; my head aches, monseigneur my father.”

“Son,” said Charles, “thou must run and leap and romp as do other boys of thine own years.”

“My legs are stiff, monseigneur my father.”

“How,” said Charles, “how can they be otherwise if thou usest them no more than if they were legs of wood? I will have thee fastened on some nimble steed.

The boy wept. [36]

“Do not so,” said he, “I have a pain in my loins, monseigneur my father.”

“But,” said Charles, “you have a pain everywhere then?”

“I would not be ill at all if I were left in peace,” replied the child.

“Dost thou think,” rejoined the Emperor, impatiently, “to pass thy royal life in brooding as do clerks? For them, if it must be, in order that they may soil their parchments with ink, from the silence, solitude, and retirement; for thee, son of the sword, there needs hot blood, the eye of a lynx, the cunning of the fox, the strength of Hercules. Why dost thou make the holy sign? God’s blood! ’tis not for the lion’s cub to ape paternoster-mongering females.”

“Hark, the Angelus, monseigneur my father,” replied the child.



This year May and June were verily the months of flowers. Never did any see in Flanders hawthorn so fragrant, never in the gardens so many roses, such heaps of jasmine and honeysuckle. When the wind that blew up out of England drove the incense of this flowery land towards the east, every man, and specially in Antwerp, nose in air with delight, would say:

“Do you smell the sweet wind that comes from Flanders?”

In like wise the busy bees sucked the flowers’ honey, made wax, laid their eggs in hives too small to harbour their swarms. What music of labour under the blue sky that covered the rich earth with its dazzling tent!

Men made hives out of rushes, of straw, of osiers, [37]of plaited hay. Basketmakers, tubmakers, coopers were wearing out their tools over the work. As for the wood carvers, for a long time they had been unequal to the task.

The swarms were of full thirty thousand bees and two thousand seven hundred drones. The honeycombs were so delicious that because of their rare quality, the dean of Damme sent eleven to the Emperor Charles, by way of thanks for having through his edicts restored the Holy Inquisition to all its full vigour. It was Philip that ate them, but they did him no good.

Tramps, beggars, vagabonds, and all that ragtag and bobtail of idle rogues that parade their laziness about the roads, preferring to be hanged rather than to work, enticed by the taste of the honey, came to get their share of it. And they prowled about by night, in crowds.

Claes had made hives to attract the swarming bees to them; some were full and others empty, awaiting the bees. Claes used to watch all night to guard this sugared wealth. When he was tired, he used to bid Ulenspiegel take his place. And the boy did so with a good will.

Now one night Ulenspiegel, to avoid the cold air, had taken shelter in a hive, and, all huddled up, was looking through the openings, of which there were two, in the top of the hive.

As he was on the point of falling asleep, he heard the little trees and bushes of the hedge crackling and heard the voices of two men whom he took to be robbers. He looked out through one of the openings in the hive, and saw that they both had long hair and [38]a long beard, though the beard was the mark and sign of noble rank.

They went from hive to hive, and came to his own, and picking it up, they said:

“Let us take this one: it is the heaviest.”

Then they carried it off, using their sticks to do it. Ulenspiegel took no pleasure in being thus carted in a hive. The night was clear and bright, and the thieves walked along without uttering a word. Every fifty paces they stopped, clean out of breath, to go on their way again presently. The one in front grumbled furiously at having so heavy a weight to bear, and the one behind whimpered melancholy-wise. For in this world there are two kinds of idle cowards, those who grow angry with work, and those that whine when there is work to be done.

Ulenspiegel, having nothing else to do, pulled the hair of the robber who went in front, and the beard of the one behind, so that growing tired of this game, the angry one said to the snivelling one:

“Stop pulling my hair, or I will give you such a wallop on the head with my fist that it will sink down into your chest and you will look through your ribs like a thief through the bars of his prison.”

“I wouldn’t dare, my friend,” said the sniveller, “but it is you that are pulling me by the beard.”

The angry one answered:

“I don’t go hunting vermin in beggar fellows’ fur.”

“Sir,” replied the sniveller, “do not make the hive jump about so much; my poor arms are nearly breaking in two.”

“I’ll have them off altogether,” answered the angry fellow. [39]

Then, putting off his leathern gear he set the hive down on the ground, and leaped upon his comrade. And they fought with each other, the one cursing and swearing, the other crying for mercy.

Ulenspiegel, hearing the blows pattering down, came out of the hive, dragged it with him as far as the nearest wood so as to find it there again, and went back to Claes’s house.

And thus it is that in quarrellings sly folk find their advantage.



When he was fifteen, Ulenspiegel erected a little tent at Damme upon four stakes, and he cried out that everyone might see within, represented in a handsome frame of hay, his present and future self.

When there came a man of law, haughty and puffed up with his own importance, Ulenspiegel would thrust his head out of the frame, and mimicking the face of an old ape, he would say:

“An old mug may decay, but never flourish; am I not your very mirror, good sir of the doctoral phiz?”

If he had a stout soldier for client, Ulenspiegel would hide and show in the middle of the frame, instead of his face, a dishful of meat and bread, and say:

“Battle will make hash of you; what will you give me for my prophecy, O soldier beloved of the big-mouthed sakers?”

When an old man, wearing ingloriously his hoary head, would bring Ulenspiegel his wife, a young woman, the boy, hiding himself as he had done for the soldier, and showing in the frame a little tree, on whose branches [40]were hung knife handles, caskets, combs, inkhorns, all made of horn, would call out:

“Whence come all these fine nicknacks, Messire? Is it not from the hornbeam that groweth within the garden of old husbands? Who shall say now that cuckolds are folk useless in a commonweal?”

And Ulenspiegel would display his young face in the frame alongside the tree.

The old man, hearing him, would cough with masculine anger, but his dear wife would soothe him with her hand, and smiling, come up to Ulenspiegel.

“And my mirror,” she would say, “wilt thou show it to me?”

“Come closer,” Ulenspiegel would answer.

She would obey, and he then, kissing her wherever he could:

“Thy mirror,” he would say, “is stark youth with proud codpiece.”

And the darling would go away also, but not without giving him florins one or two.

To the fat, blear-eyed monk who would ask to see his present and future self, Ulenspiegel would answer:

“Thou art a ham cupboard, and so thou shalt be a still room for cervoise ale; for salt calleth upon drinking, is not this true, great belly? Give me a patard for not having lied.”

“My son,” the monk would reply, “we never carry money.”

“’Tis then the money carries thee,” would Ulenspiegel answer, “for I know thou dost put it between two soles under thy feet. Give me thy sandal.”

But the monk:

“My son, ’tis the property of the Convent; I will [41]none the less take from it, if I must, two patards for thy trouble.”

The monk gave them. Ulenspiegel received them graciously.

Thus showed he their mirror to the folk of Damme, of Bruges, of Blankenberghe, nay, even as far away as Ostend.

And instead of saying to them in his Flemish speech: “Ik ben u lieden Spiegel,” “I am your mirror,” he said to them, shortening it, “Ik ben ulen spiegel,” even as it is still said to-day in East and West Flanders.

And from thence there came to him his surname of Ulenspiegel.



As he grew up, he conceived a liking for wandering about through fairs and markets. If he saw there any one playing on the hautbois, the rebeck, or the bagpipes, he would, for a patard, have them teach him the way to make music on these instruments.

He became above all skilled in playing on the rommel-pot, an instrument made of a pot, a bladder, and a stout straw. This is how he arranged them: he damped the bladder and strained it over the pot, fastened with a string the middle of the bladder round the knot on the straw, which was touching the bottom of the pot, on the rim of which he then fixed the bladder stretched to bursting point. In the morning, the bladder, being dried, gave the sound of a tambourine when it was struck, and if the straw of the instrument was rubbed it hummed better than a viol. And Ulenspiegel, with his pot booming and sounding like a mastiff’s barking, went singing carols at house doors [42]in company with youngsters, one of whom carried the shining star made out of paper on Twelfth Night.

If any master painter came to Damme to pourtray, on their knees on canvas, the companions of some Guild, Ulenspiegel, desiring to see how he wrought, would ask to be allowed to grind his colours, and for all salary would accept only a slice of bread, three liards, and a pint of ale.

Applying himself to the grinding, he would study his master’s manner. When the master was away, he would try to paint like him, but put vermilion everywhere. He tried to paint Claes, Soetkin, Katheline, and Nele, as well as quart pots and sauce-pans. Claes prophesied to him, seeing his works, that if he would be bold and persevering, he might one day earn florins by the score, painting inscriptions on the speel-wagen, which are pleasure carts in Flanders and in Zealand.

He learned, too, from a master mason how to carve wood and stone, when the man came to make, in the choir of Notre Dame, a stall so constructed that when it was necessary the aged dean could sit down on it while still seeming to remain standing.

It was Ulenspiegel who carved the first handle for the knife used by the Zealand folk. This handle he made in the shape of a cage. Within there was a loose death’s head; above it a dog in a lying posture. These emblems taken together signify “Blade faithful to the death.”

And in this wise Ulenspiegel began to fulfil the prediction of Katheline, showing himself painter, sculptor, clown, noble, all at once and together, for [43]from father to son the Claes bore for arms three quart pots argent on a field of bruinbier.

But Ulenspiegel was constant to no trade, and Claes told him if this game went on, he would turn him away from the cottage.



The Emperor being returned from war, asked why his son Philip had not come to greet him.

The Infante’s archbishop-governor replied that he had not desired to do so, for, so he said, he cared for nothing but books and solitude.

The Emperor enquired where he was at that moment.

The governor answered that they must seek him in every place where it was dark. They did so.

Having gone through a goodly number of chambers, they came at last to a kind of closet, unpaven, and lit by a skylight. There they saw stuck in the earth a post to which was fastened by the waist a pretty little tiny monkey, that had been sent to His Highness from the Indies to delight him with its youthful antics. At the foot of this stake faggots still red were smoking, and in the closet there was a foul stench of burnt hair.

The little beast had suffered so much dying in this fire that its little body seemed to be not an animal that ever had life, but a fragment of some wrinkled twisted root, and in its mouth, open as though to cry out on death, bloody foam was visible, and the water of its tears made its face wet.

“Who did this?” asked the Emperor.

The governor did not dare to reply, and both men remained silent, sad, and wrathful. [44]

Suddenly in this silence there was heard a low little sound of a cough that came from a corner in the shadow behind them. His Majesty, turning about, received the Infante Philip, all clad in black and sucking a lemon.

“Don Philip,” said he, “come and salute me.”

The Infante, without budging, looked at him with his timid eyes in which there was no affection.

“Is it thou,” asked the Emperor, “that hast burned this little beast in this fire?”

The Infante hung his head.

But the Emperor:

“If thou wert cruel enough to do it, be brave enough to confess it.”

The Infante made no answer.

His Majesty plucked the lemon out of his hands and flung it on the ground, and he was about to beat his son melting away with fright, when the archbishop, stopping him, whispered in his ear:

“His Highness will be a great burner of heretics one day.”

The Emperor smiled, and the two men went away, leaving the Infante alone with his monkey.

But there were others that were no monkeys and died in the flames.



November had come, the month of hail in which coughing folk give themselves up wholehearted to the music of phlegm. In this month also the small boys descend in bands on the turnip fields, pilfering what they can from them, to the great rage of the [45]peasants, who vainly run after them with sticks and forks.

Now one evening, as Ulenspiegel was coming back from a marauding foray, he heard close by, in a corner of the hedge, a sound of groaning. Stooping down, he saw a dog lying upon some stones.

“Hey,” said he, “miserable beastie, what dost thou there so late?”

Caressing the dog, he felt his back wet, thought that someone had tried to drown him, and took him up in his arms to warm him.

Coming home he said:

“I bring a wounded patient, what shall I do to him?”

“Heal him,” said Claes in reply.

Ulenspiegel set the dog down upon the table. Claes, Soetkin, and himself then saw by the light of the lamp a little red Luxembourg spaniel hurt on the back. Soetkin sponged the wounds, covered them with ointment, and bound them up with linen. Ulenspiegel took the little beast into his bed, though Soetkin wanted to have him in her own, fearing, as she said, lest Ulenspiegel, who tumbled about in bed like a devil in a holy water pot, should hurt the dog as he slept.

But Ulenspiegel had his own way, and tended him so well that after six days the patient ran about like his fellows full of doggish tricks.

And the school-meester christened him Titus Bibulus Schnouffius: Titus in memory of a certain good Emperor of Rome, who took pains to gather in lost dogs; Bibulus because the dog loved bruinbier with the love of a true tosspot, and Schnouffius because sniff-sniffing [46]everywhere he was always thrusting his nose into rat-holes and mole holes.



At the end of the Rue Notre Dame there were two willows planted face to face on the edge of a deep pond.

Ulenspiegel stretched a rope between the two willows and danced upon it one Sunday after vespers, so well that all the crowd of vagabonds applauded him with both hand and voice. Then he came down from his rope and held out to all the bystanders a bowl that was speedily filled with money, but he emptied it in Soetkin’s apron and kept only eleven liards for himself.

The next Sunday he would fain dance again on his rope, but certain good-for-nought lads, being jealous of his nimbleness, had made a nick in the rope, so that after a few bounds the rope broke in sunder and Ulenspiegel tumbled into the water.

Whilst he swam to reach the bank the little fellows that cut the rope shouted to him:

“How is your limber health, Ulenspiegel? Are you going to the bottom of the pond to teach the carps to dance, dancer beyond price?”

Ulenspiegel coming out from the water and shaking himself cried out to them, for they were making off from him for fear of his fists:

“Be not afraid; come back next Sunday, I will show you tricks on the rope and you will have a share in the proceeds.”

On Sunday, the lads had not sliced the cord, but were keeping watch round about it, for fear any one might touch it, for there was a great crowd of people. [47]

Ulenspiegel said to them:

“Each of you give me one of your shoes, and I wager that however big or little they may be I will dance with every one of them.”

“What do you pay if you lose?” they asked.

“Forty quarts of bruinbier,” replied Ulenspiegel, “and ye shall pay me three patards if I win the wager.”

“Aye,” said they.

And they each gave him a shoe. Ulenspiegel put them all in the apron he was wearing, and thus laden he danced upon the rope, though not without trouble.

The cord slicers called out from below:

“Thou saidst thou wouldst dance with every one of our shoes; put them on then and hold thy wager!”

Ulenspiegel, all the while dancing, made reply:

“I never said I would put on your shoes, but that I would dance with them. Now I am dancing and everything in my apron is dancing with me. Do ye not see it with your frog’s eyes all staring out of your heads? Pay me my three patards.”

But they hooted at him, shouting that he must give them their shoes back.

Ulenspiegel threw them at them one after the other into a heap. Therefrom arose a furious affray, for none of them could clearly distinguish his own shoe in the heap, or lay hold of it without a fight.

Ulenspiegel then came down from the tree and watered the combatants, but not with fair water.



The Infante, being fifteen years of age, went wandering, as his way was, through corridors, staircases, and [48]chambers about the castle. But most of all he was seen prowling about the ladies’ apartments, in order to brawl with the pages who like himself were like cats in ambush in the corridors. Others planting themselves in the court, would be singing some tender ditty with their noses turned aloft.

The Infante, hearing them, would show himself at a window, and so terrify the poor pages that beheld this pallid muzzle instead of the soft eyes of their fair ones.

Among the court ladies there was a charming Flemish woman from Dudzeele hard by Damme, plump, a handsome ripe fruit and marvellously lovely, for she had green eyes and red crimped hair, shining like gold. Of a gay humour and ardent temperament, she never hid from any one her inclination for the lucky lord to whom she accorded the divine right of way of love over her goodly pleasaunce. There was one at this moment, handsome and high spirited, whom she loved. Every day at a certain hour she went to meet him, and this Philip discovered.

Taking his seat upon a bench set close up against a window, he watched for her and when she was passing in front of him, her eye alight, her lips parted, amiable, fresh from the bath, and rustling about her all her array of yellow brocade, she caught sight of the Infante who said to her, without getting up from his seat:

“Madame, could you not stay a moment?”

Impatient as a filly held back in her career, at the moment when she is hurrying to the splendid stallion neighing in the meadow, she answered:

“Highness, everyone here must obey your princely will.”

“Sit down beside me,” said he. [49]

Then looking at her luxuriously, stonily, and warily, he said:

“Repeat the Pater to me in Flemish; they have taught it to me, but I have forgotten it.”

The poor lady then must begin to say a Pater and he must needs bid her say it slower.

And in this way he forced the poor thing to say as many as ten Paters, she that thought the hour had come to go through other orisons.

Then covering her with praises and flatteries, he spoke of her lovely hair, her bright colour, her shining eyes, but did not venture to say a word to her either of her plump shoulders or her smooth round breast or any other thing.

When she thought she could get away and was already looking out into the court where her lord was waiting for her, he asked her if she knew truly what are the womanly virtues.

As she made no answer for fear of saying the wrong thing, he spoke for her and preaching at her, he said:

“The womanly virtues, these be chastity, watchfulness over honour, and sober living.”

He counselled her also to array herself decently and to hide closely all that pertained to her.

She made sign of assent with her head saying:

That for His Hyperborean Highness she would much sooner cover herself with ten bearskins than with an ell of muslin.

Having put him in ill humour with this retort, she fled away rejoicing.

However, the fire of youth was lit up in the Infante’s bosom, but it was not that hot burning flame that incites strong souls to high deeds, but a dark, sinister [50]flame come out of hell where Satan had without doubt kindled it. And it shone in his gray eyes like the wintry moon upon a charnel-house, and it burned him cruelly.



The beautiful and sweet lady on a day left Valladolid to go to her Château of Dudzeele in Flanders.

Passing through Damme attended by her fat seneschal, she saw sitting against the wall of a cottage a boy of fifteen blowing into a bagpipe. In front of him was a red dog that, not liking this music, howled in a melancholy fashion. The sun shone bright. Standing beside the lad there was a pretty girl laughing loudly at each fresh pitiful burst of howling from the dog.

The beautiful dame and the fat seneschal, as they passed by the cottage, looked at Ulenspiegel blowing, Nele laughing, and Titus Bibulus Schnouffius howling.

“Bad boy,” said the dame, addressing Ulenspiegel, “could you not cease from making that poor red beast howl in that way?”

But Ulenspiegel, with his eyes on her, blew up his bagpipe more stoutly still. And Bibulus Schnouffius howled still more melancholily, and Nele laughed the more.

The seneschal, growing angry, said to the dame, pointing to Ulenspiegel:

“If I were to give this beggar’s spawn a dressing with my scabbard, he would stop making this impudent hubbub.”

Ulenspiegel looked at the seneschal, called him Jan Papzak, because of his belly, and continued to [51]blow his bagpipe. The seneschal went up to him with a threatening fist, but Bibulus Schnouffius threw himself on the man and bit him in the leg, and the seneschal tumbled down in affright crying out:


The dame said to Ulenspiegel, smiling:

“Could you not tell me, bagpiper, if the road that runs from Damme to Dudzeele has not been changed?”

Ulenspiegel, without stopping his playing, nodded his head and looked still at the dame.

“Why do you look so steadily at me?” she asked.

But he, still playing, stretched his eyes wide as though rapt in an ecstasy of admiration.

She said to him:

“Are you not ashamed, young as you are, to stare at ladies so?”

Ulenspiegel reddened slightly, went on blowing, and stared harder.

“I asked you,” she went on, “if the road that runs from Damme to Dudzeele has not altered?”

“It is not green now since you deprived it of the joy of carrying you,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“Wilt thou guide me?” said the dame.

But Ulenspiegel remained seated, still never taking his eyes from her. And she, seeing him so roguish, and knowing that it was a mere trick of youth, forgave him easily. He got up, and turned to go into his home.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“To put on my best clothes,” he replied.

“Go then,” said the dame.

She sat down then on the bench beside the doorstep; the seneschal did the same. She would have talked to Nele, but Nele did not answer her, for she was jealous. [52]

Ulenspiegel came back carefully washed and clad in fustian. He looked well in his Sunday garb, the little man.

“Art thou verily going with this beautiful lady?” Nele asked him.

“I shall be back soon,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“If I were to go instead of you?” said Nele.

“Nay,” he said, “the roads are full of mire.”

“Why,” said the dame, angry and jealous together, “why, little girl, do you want to keep him from coming with me?”

Nele made her no answer, but big tears welled up from her eyes and she gazed on the dame in sadness and in anger.

They started on their way, four all told, the dame sitting like a queen on her white hackney caparisoned with black velvet; the seneschal whose belly shook to his walking; Ulenspiegel holding the dame’s hackney by the bridle, and Bibulus Schnouffius walking alongside him, tail in air proudly.

They rode and strode thus for some time, but Ulenspiegel was not at his ease; dumb as a fish he breathed in the fine odour of benjamin wafted from the dame, and looked out of the corners of his eyes at all her fine tags and rare jewels and furbelows, and also at her soft mien, her bright eyes, her bared bosom, and her hair that the sun made to shine like a golden cap.

“Why,” said she, “why do you say so little, my little man?”

He made no reply.

“Your tongue is not so deep down in your shoes that you could not manage a message for me?”

“Right,” said Ulenspiegel. [53]

“You must,” said the dame, “leave me here and go to Koolkercke, on the other way of the wind, and tell a gentleman clad particoloured in black and red, that he must not look for me to-day, but to come on Sunday at ten at night, into my castle by the postern.”

“I will not go,” said Ulenspiegel.

“Why not?” asked the dame.

“I will not go, no!” said Ulenspiegel again.

The dame said to him:

“What is it then, little ruffled cock, that inspires thee with this fierce mind?”

“I will not go!” said Ulenspiegel.

“But if I gave thee a florin?”

“No!” said he.

“A ducat?”


“A carolus?”

“No,” said Ulenspiegel again. “And yet,” he added, sighing, “I should like it in my mother’s purse better than a mussel-shell.”

The dame smiled, then cried out suddenly:

“I have lost my fine rare purse, made of silken cloth and broidered with rich pearls! At Damme it was still hanging at my girdle.”

Ulenspiegel budged not, but the seneschal came forward to the dame.

“Madame,” he said, “send not this young thief to look for it, for you would never see it again.”

“And who will go then?” asked the dame.

“Myself,” he answered, “despite my great age.”

And he went off.

Noon struck, the heat was great, the solitude profound; Ulenspiegel said no word, but he doffed his [54]new doublet that the dame might sit down in the shade beneath a lime, without fearing the cool of the grass. He remained standing close by her, sighing.

She looked at him and felt pity rising up in her for this timid little fellow, and asked him if he was not weary with standing so on his tender young legs. He answered not a word, and as he let himself drop down beside her, she tried to catch him, and pulled him on to her bared bosom, where he remained with such good will that she would have thought herself guilty of the sin of cruelty if she had bidden him seek another pillow.

However, the seneschal came back and said he had not found the purse.

“I found it myself,” replied the dame, “when I dismounted from my horse, for it had unfastened its broochpin and got caught up on the stirrup. Now,” she said to Ulenspiegel, “take us the direct way to Dudzeele and tell me how thou art called.”

“My patron,” he answered, “is Master Saint Thylbert, a name which signifies light of foot to run after good matters; my name is Claes and my to-name Ulenspiegel. If you would look at yourself in my mirror, you will see that there is not upon all this land of Flanders a flower of beauty so dazzling as your fragrant loveliness.”

The dame blushed with pleasure and was in no wise wroth with Ulenspiegel.

And Soetkin and Nele wept during this long absence.



When Ulenspiegel came back from Dudzeele, he saw Nele at the entrance to the town, leaning up [55]against a barrier. She was eating a bunch of grapes, crunching them one by one, and was doubtless refreshed and rejoiced by the fruit, but allowed none of her pleasure to be seen. She appeared, on the contrary, to be angry, and plucked the grapes from off the bunch with a choleric air. She was so dolorous and showed a face so marred, so sad and so sweet, that Ulenspiegel was overcome with loving pity, and going up behind her, gave her a kiss on the nape of her neck.

But she returned it with a great box on the ear.

“I can’t fathom that!” exclaimed Ulenspiegel.

She wept with heavy sobs.

“Nele,” said he, “are you going to set up fountains at the entrance to the villages?”

“Begone!” she said.

“But I cannot be gone, if you weep like this, my dear.”

“I am not your dear,” said Nele, “and I do not weep!”

“No, you do not weep, but none the less water comes from your eyes.”

“Will you go away?” said she.

“No,” said he.

She was holding her apron the while with her little trembling hands, and she was pulling the stuff jerkily and tears fell on it, wetting it.

“Nele,” asked Ulenspiegel, “will it be fine presently?” And he looked on her, smiling lovingly.

“Why do you ask me that?” said she.

“Because, when it is fine, it does not weep,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“Go,” said she, “go to your beautiful lady in the [56]brocade dress; you made her laugh well enough,” said she.

Then sang Ulenspiegel:

“When my darling’s tears I see

My heart is torn atwain,

’Tis honey when she laughs for me,

When she weeps, a pearl.

Always I love my dearest girl,

And I’ll buy good wine for us,

Good wine of Louvain,

I’ll buy good wine for us to drink,

When Nele smiles again.”

“Low man!” said she, “you are still flouting me.”

“Nele,” said Ulenspiegel, “a man I am, but not low, for our noble family, an aldermanish family, bears three silver quarts on a ground of bruinbier. Nele, is it so that in Flanders when a man sows kisses he reaps boxes on the ear?”

“I do not wish to speak to you,” said she.

“Then why do you open your mouth to tell me so?”

“I am angry,” said she.

Ulenspiegel very lightly gave her a blow with his fist in the back, and said:

“Kiss a mean thing, she’ll punch you; punch a mean thing and she’ll anoint you. Anoint me then, darling, since I have punched you.”

Nele turned about. He opened his arms, she cast herself in them still weeping, and said:

“You won’t go there again, Thyl, will you?”

But he made her no answer, for he was too busy clasping her poor trembling fingers and wiping away [57]with his lips the hot tears falling from Nele’s eyes like the big drops of a thunder shower.



In these days, the noble town of Ghent refused to pay her quota of the subsidy her son Charles the Emperor had asked of her. She could not, being void of money through the very doings of Charles. This was a great crime; he determined to go in his own person to chastise her.

For more than any other is a son’s cudgel grievous to the back of a mother.

François of the long nose, his foe, offered him free passage through the land of France. Charles accepted, and instead of being held a prisoner he was feasted and cherished imperially. ’Tis a sovereign concord between princes to help one another against the peoples.

Charles stayed long at Valenciennes without making any show of anger. Ghent, his mother, lived free from fear, in the certain belief that the Emperor, her son, would pardon her for having acted as was her lawful right.

Charles arrived beneath the city walls with four thousand horse. D’Alba was with him, so was the Prince of Orange. The common folk and the men of petty trades had wanted to prevent this filial entry, and to call out the eighty thousand men of the town and the flat country; the men of substance, the so-called hoogh-poorters, opposed this, fearing the predominance of the lower orders. Ghent could in this way have made mincemeat of her son and his four thousand horse. But she loved him too well, [58]and even the petty traders had resumed their trust in him.

Charles also loved his mother, but for the money he held in his coffers from her, and the further moneys he meant to have from her.

Having made himself master of the town, he set up military posts everywhere, and had Ghent patrolled by rounds night and day. Then he pronounced, with all pomp and ceremony, his sentence upon the town.

The most eminent citizens must come before his throne, with ropes about their necks, and make full public confession of their misdeeds: Ghent was declared guilty of the most expensive crimes, which are: disloyalty, treaty-breaking, disobedience, sedition, rebellion, and treason. The Emperor declared all and sundry privileges, rights, franchises, customs, and usages void and abolished; stipulating and engaging the future, as though he were God, that thenceforward his successors on their entering into their seigniory would swear to observe nothing save only the Caroline Concession of slavery granted by him to the town.

He had the Abbey of Saint Bavon pulled down in order to rear on its site a fortress from which he could pierce his mother’s bosom with cannon shot.

Like a good son eager to come into his inheritance, he confiscated all that belonged to Ghent, revenues, houses, artillery, munitions of war.

Finding her over well defended, he knocked down the Red Tower, the Toad’s Hole Tower, the Braampoort, the Steenpoort, the Waalpoort, the Ketelpoort, [59]and many others wrought and carven like jewels in stone.

When strangers thereafter came to Ghent, they said to one another:

“What is this flat, desolate town whose wonders and praises were sung so loudly?”

And the folk of Ghent would make answer:

“The Emperor Charles hath taken her precious girdle from the good town.”

And so saying they were shamed and wroth. And from the ruins of the gates the Emperor had the bricks for his fortress.

He would have Ghent poor, for thus neither by toil nor industry nor gold could she oppose his haughty plans; therefore he condemned her to pay the refused quota of the subsidy, four hundred thousand gold carolus, and besides this, one hundred and fifty thousand carolus down and six thousand every year in perpetuity. She had lent him money: he was to pay one hundred and fifty pounds interest yearly. He took possession by force of the deeds recording his debt and paying it in this way, he actually enriched himself.

Many a time had Ghent given him love and succour, but he now smote her bosom with a dagger, seeking blood from it because he found not enough milk there.

Then he looked upon Roelandt, the great bell, and hanged from the clapper the fellow who had sounded the alarm to call the city to defend her right. He had no mercy for Roelandt, his mother’s tongue, the tongue with which she spoke to Flanders: Roelandt, the proud bell, which saith of himself: [60]

Als men my slaet dan is’t brandt.

Als men my luyt dan is’t storm in Vlaenderlandt.

When they ring me there is fire.

When they toll me there is storm in Flanders.

Finding that his mother spoke too loud and free, he took away the bell. And the folk of the flat country say that Ghent died because her son had torn out her tongue with his iron pincers.



One of these days, which were bright fresh days of the springtime, when all the earth is full of love, Soetkin was talking by the open window, Claes humming some refrain, while Ulenspiegel had put a judge’s cap on the head of Titus Bibulus Schnouffius. The dog was working with his paws as though endeavouring to utter a judgment, but it was merely to get rid of his headgear.

Suddenly Ulenspiegel shut the window, ran into the middle of the room, jumped on chairs and tables, his hands stretched up to the ceiling. Soetkin and Claes saw that all this energy was to catch a pretty little bird that was crying out with fear, its wings fluttering, cowering against a beam in a corner of the ceiling.

Ulenspiegel was on the point of seizing it, when Claes said quickly:

“What are you jumping for like that?”

“To catch it,” answered Ulenspiegel, “and put it in a cage, and give it seed and make it sing for me.”

Meanwhile the bird, crying shrilly with terror, was flying about the room and dashing its head against the windowpanes. [61]

Ulenspiegel did not cease jumping after it: Claes laid his hand weightily on the lad’s shoulder:

“Catch it,” he said, “put it in a cage, make it sing for you, do, but I, too, will put you in a cage, shut in with stout iron bars, and I will make you sing as well. You like to run, you will not be able to run; you will be in the shade when you are cold, in the sun when you are hot. Then one Sunday we shall go out, forgetting to give you any food, and we shall only come back on the Thursday, and returning we shall find Thyl dead of hunger and stark and stiff.”

Soetkin wept, Ulenspiegel sprang forward.

“What are you going to do?” asked Claes.

“I am opening the window for the bird,” he answered.

And indeed, the bird, which was a goldfinch, went out of the window, uttered a cry of joy, shot up like an arrow in the air, then setting itself in an apple tree close by, it sleeked its wings with its beak, shook out its plumage, and becoming angry, hurled a thousand insults at Ulenspiegel in its bird speech.

Then Claes said to him:

“Son, never take liberty from man nor beast for liberty is the greatest boon in this world. Leave everyman to go in the sun when he is cold, in the shade when he is hot. And may God judge His Sacred Majesty who, having fettered freedom of belief in the land of Flanders, has now put Ghent, the noble town, in a cage of slavery.”



Philip had married Marie of Portugal, whose possessions he added to the Spanish crown; he had by her a [62]son, Don Carlos, the cruel madman. But he did not love his wife!

The Queen was ill after the birth. She kept her bed and had with her her ladies in waiting, among whom was the Duchess of Alba.

Philip often left her alone to go and see the burning of heretics, and all the lords and ladies of the court the same. Likewise also the Duchess of Alba, the Queen’s noble nurse.

At this time the Official seized a Flemish sculptor, a Roman Catholic, because when a monk had refused to pay the price agreed for a wooden statue of Our Lady, he had struck the face of the statue with his chisel, saying he would rather destroy his work than sell it for a mean price.

He was denounced by the monk as an iconoclast, tortured mercilessly, and condemned to be burned alive.

In the torture they had burned the soles of his feet, and as he walked from prison to the stake, wearing the san-benito, he kept crying out, “Cut off my feet, cut off my feet!”

And Philip heard these cries from afar off, and he was pleased, but he did not laugh.

Queen Marie’s ladies left her to go to the burning, and after them went the Duchess of Alba, who, hearing the Flemish sculptor’s cries, wished to see the spectacle, and left the Queen alone.

Philip, his noble servitors, princes, counts, esquires, and ladies being present, the sculptor was fastened by a long chain to a stake planted in the middle of a burning circle made of trusses of straw and of faggots that would roast him to death slowly, if he wished to avoid the quick fire by hugging the stake. [63]

And all looked curiously on him as he sought, naked or all but naked as he was, to stiffen his will and courage against the heat of the fire.

At the same time Queen Marie was athirst on her bed of childbirth. She saw half a melon on a dish. Dragging herself out of bed, she seized this melon and left nothing of it.

Then by reason of the cold flesh of the melon, she fell into sweating and trembling, lay on the floor, and could not move hand or foot.

“Ah,” she said, “I might grow warm if someone could carry me to my bed.”

She heard then the poor sculptor crying:

“Cut off my feet!”

“Ah!” said Queen Marie, “is that a dog howling for my death?”

At this moment the sculptor, seeing about him none but the faces of enemies and Spaniards, thought upon Flanders, the land of men, folded his arms, and dragging his long chain behind him he went straight to the straw and burning faggots and standing upright upon them with arms still folded:

“Lo,” said he, “how the Flemish can die before Spanish butchers. Cut off their feet, not mine, but theirs, that they may run no more after murder! Long live Flanders! Flanders for ever and evermore!”

And the ladies applauded, crying for mercy as they saw his proud face.

And he died.

Queen Marie shivered from head to foot, she wept, her teeth chattered with the cold of approaching death, and she said, stiffening her arms and legs: [64]

“Put me in my bed, that I may be warmed.”

And she died.

Thus, even according to the prediction of Katheline, the good witch, did Philip everywhere sow death, blood, and tears.



But Ulenspiegel and Nele loved with surpassing love.

It was then in the end of April, with all the trees in flower; all the plants, bursting with sap, were awaiting May, which cometh on the earth with a peacock for companion, blossoming like a nosegay, and maketh the nightingales to sing among the trees.

Often Ulenspiegel and Nele would wander down the roads alone together. Nele hung upon Ulenspiegel’s arm, and held to it with both hands. Ulenspiegel, taking pleasure in this play, often passed his arm about Nele’s waist, to hold her the better, he would tell her. And she was happy, though she did not speak a word.

The wind rolled softly along the roads the perfumed breath of the meadows; far away the sea murmured to the sun, idle and at ease; Ulenspiegel was like a young devil, full of spunk and fire, and Nele like a little saint from Paradise, all shamefast at her delight.

She leaned her head on Ulenspiegel’s shoulder, he took her hands, and as they went, he kissed her forehead, her cheeks, her darling mouth. But she did not speak.

After some hours, they were hot and thirsty, then [65]they drank milk at a peasant’s cottage, but they were not refreshed.

And they sat down on the green turf beside a ditch. Nele was pale and white, and pensive; Ulenspiegel looked at her, alarmed.

“You are sad?” she said.

“Ay,” said he.

“Why?” she asked.

“I know not,” he said, “but these apple trees and cherries all in blossom, this warm soft air, as it were, charged with thunder fire, these daisies opening and blushing upon the fields, the hawthorn there beside us in the hedgerows, all white.... Who shall tell me why I feel troubled and always ready to die or to sleep? And my heart beats so hard when I hear the birds awaking in the trees and see the swallows come back, then I long to go beyond the sun and the moon. And now I am cold, and now hot. Ah! Nele! I would fain no more be in this low world, or give a thousand lives to the one who would love me....”

But she did not speak, and smiling happily, looked at Ulenspiegel.



On the day of the Feast of the Dead, Ulenspiegel came away from Notre Dame with some vagabonds of his own age. Lamme Goedzak was lost among them, like a sheep in the midst of wolves.

Lamme freely paid for drink for everyone, for his mother gave him three patards every Sunday and feast day.

He went then with his comrades In den rooden [66]schildt, to the Red Shield, whose landlord Jan Van Liebeke served them with the dobbele knollaert of Courtrai.

The drink heated their wits, and talking of prayers Ulenspiegel declared plumply that masses for the dead are good only for the priests.

But there was a Judas in the band: he denounced Ulenspiegel as a heretic. In spite of Soetkin’s tears and Claes’s entreaties, Ulenspiegel was taken and cast into prison. There he remained in a cellar behind bars for a month and three days without seeing any one. The gaoler ate three quarters of his pittance. In the meanwhile, inquiries were made into his good and bad reputation. It was found merely that he was a sharp jester, flouting his neighbours continually, but never having missaid Monseigneur God, or Madame Virgin or messieurs the saints. And so the sentence was a light one, for he might have been branded in the face with a red-hot iron, and whipped till the blood came.

In consideration of his youth, the judges condemned him merely to walk in his shirt behind the priests, bareheaded and barefooted, and a candle in his hand, in the first procession that should go out from the church.

That was on Ascension Day.

When the procession was returning, he must stand still under the porch of Notre Dame and there cry aloud:

“Thanks to my Lord Jesu! Thanks to messieurs the priests! Their prayers are sweet to souls in purgatory, yea, refreshing; for every Ave is a bucket of water falling on their back, every Pater a cistern.”

And the people hearkened most devoutly, not without laughing. [67]

At the Feast of Pentecost, he must again follow the procession; he was in his shirt, barefoot and bareheaded, candle in hand. Coming back, standing beneath the porch, and holding his candle very reverently, not without pulling a waggish face or two, he called in a loud clear voice:

“If the prayers of Christian men are a great ease and solace to souls in purgatory, those of the dean of Notre Dame, that holy man perfect in the practice of all the virtues, assuage so well the torments of the fire that it is transformed to ices all at once. But the devil-tormentors have not so much as one crumb.”

And the people once more hearkened devoutly, not without laughter, and the dean, well pleased, smiled ecclesiastically.

Then Ulenspiegel was banished from the land of Flanders for three years, under condition of making pilgrimage to Rome and returning thence with absolution from the Pope.

Claes must pay three florins for this sentence; but he gave still another to his son and furnished him with the habiliments of a pilgrim.

Ulenspiegel was brokenhearted on the day of departing, when he embraced Claes and Soetkin, who was all in tears, the unhappy mother. They convoyed him a long long way on his road, in company of several townsfolk, both men and women.

Claes, when they came back to their cottage, said to his wife:

“Goodwife, it is exceeding harsh, for a few mad words, to condemn so young a lad to so heavy a penalty in this fashion.”

“Thou art weeping, my husband,” said Soetkin. [68]“Thou dost love him more than thou showest, for thou art breaking into man’s sobs, which be lion’s tears.”

But he made no answer.

Nele had gone to hide in the barn that none might see that she also wept for Ulenspiegel. A long way off she followed Soetkin and Claes and the townsfolk; when she saw her friend disappearing alone, she ran to him and leaping on his neck:

“You will be finding many beautiful dames over there,” said she.

“Beautiful,” replied Ulenspiegel, “I cannot tell; but fresh as you, no, for the sun has roasted them all.”

Long they went their way together: Ulenspiegel was pensive and now and then would say:

“I’ll make them pay their masses for the dead.”

“What masses, and who will pay?” asked Nele.

Ulenspiegel replied:

“All the deans, curates, clerks, beadles, and other bigwigs high or low that feed us on windy trash. If I were a stout workman, they would have robbed me of the fruit of three years’ toil by making me go pilgrimaging. But it is poor Claes who pays. They shall repay me my three years an hundredfold, and I will chant them as well the mass for their dead money.”

“Alas, Thyl, be prudent: they will burn you alive,” replied Nele.

“I am pure asbestos,” answered Ulenspiegel.

And they parted, she all in tears, he brokenhearted, and in anger.



Passing through Bruges on the Wednesday market, there he saw a woman led along by the executioner [69]and his knaves, and a great crowd of other women around her crying and howling a thousand vile insults.

Ulenspiegel, seeing the upper part of her dress equipped with pieces of red cloth, and seeing the stone of justice with its iron chains, at her neck, perceived that this was a woman who had sold for gain the fresh young bodies of her daughters. They told him her name was Barbe, she was the wife of Jason Darue, and would be brought in this costume from place to place until she came back to the great marketplace, where she would be set up on a scaffold already erected for her. Ulenspiegel followed her with the crowd of shouting people. Once back in the great marketplace she was set on the scaffold, bound to a stake, and the executioner laid before her a bundle of grass and a clod, signifying the pit of the grave.

They told Ulenspiegel, too, that she had been whipped already in prison.

As he was going away, he met Henri le Marischal, a swashbuckling rogue who had been hanged in the castle-ward of West Ypres and still showed the track of the cord around his neck. “He had been delivered,” he said, “while already hoisted into the air, by saying one only good prayer to Notre Dame of Hal, in such wise that, by a true miracle, the bailiffs and the judges having gone, the cords, already loosened, broke, he fell to earth, and was in this manner saved and sound.”

But later Ulenspiegel learned that this rascal delivered from the rope was a counterfeit Henri Marischal, and that he was left to run about retailing his lie because he was bearer of a parchment signed [70]by the dean of Notre Dame de Hal, who by reason of the tale of this Henri le Marischal saw flocking to his church and lavishly feeing him all those who smelled the gallows from near by or far off. And for a long time Our Lady of Hal was surnamed Our Lady of the Hanged.



At this time the inquisitors and theologians for the second time made representation to the Emperor Charles:

That the Church was going to ruin; that its authority was contemned; that if he had won so many glorious victories, he owed it to the prayers of Catholicism, which upheld the imperial power on its high throne.

A Spanish Archbishop asked him to have six thousand heads cut off or the same number of bodies burned, in order to root the malignant Lutheran heresy out of the Low Countries. His Sacred Majesty deemed this insufficient.

And so, everywhere the terrified Ulenspiegel went he saw nothing but heads on stakes, girls thrust into sacks and cast alive into the river; men stretched naked on the wheel and beaten with great blows of iron bars, women laid in shallow graves, with earth over them, and the executioner dancing on their breast to break it in. But the confessors of all, men and women, that had first repented, were richer by twelve sols a time.

He saw at Louvain the executioners burn thirty Lutherans at once, and light the pile with gunpowder. At Limburg he saw a family, men and women, daughters and sons-in-law, walk to the scaffold singing [71]psalms. The man, who was old, cried out while he was a-burning.

And Ulenspiegel, full of fear and grief, journeyed on over the poor earth.



In the fields, he shook himself like a bird or like a dog loosed from the lead, and his heart took comfort before the trees, the meadows, the clear sun.

Having walked for three days, he came to the neighbourhood of Brussels, in the powerful commune of Uccle. Passing before the hostelry of the Trumpet, he was enticed by a celestial fragrance of fricassees. He asked a little tramp who, nose in air, was regaling himself with the odour of the sauces, in whose honour this festival incense arose to heaven. The other replied that the Brothers of the Good Red Nose were to assemble after vespers to celebrate the deliverance of the commune by the women and girls in olden time.

Ulenspiegel, spying from far off a pole surmounted by a popinjay, and all around goodwives armed with bows, asked if women were becoming archers nowadays.

The tramp, sniffing up the odour of the sauces, replied that in the days of the Good Duke those same bows, in the hands of the women of Uccle, had laid low more than a hundred brigands.

Ulenspiegel, desiring to know more of this, the tramp told him that he would not say another word so hungry and so thirsty was he, unless he gave him a patard for food and drink. Ulenspiegel gave it him out of pity. [72]

As soon as the tramp had his patard, he went into the Trumpet Inn, like a fox into a henroost, and came out in triumph with half a sausage and a great hunch of bread.

All at once Ulenspiegel heard a soft noise of tambourines and viols, and beheld a great troop of women dancing, and among them a comely matron with a gold chain about her neck.

The tramp, who laughed for joy at having had something to eat, told Ulenspiegel that this handsome young woman was the Queen of the Archery, was called Mietje, the wife of Messire Renonckel, the sheriff of the commune. Then he asked Ulenspiegel for six liards for drink: Ulenspiegel gave them to him. Thus having eaten and drunken, the tramp sat down in the sun and picked his teeth and trimmed his nails.

When the women archers caught sight of Ulenspiegel in his pilgrim’s array, they set to work dancing about him in a ring, saying:

“Good morrow, handsome pilgrim; do you come from far away, youngling pilgrim?”

Ulenspiegel replied:

“I come from Flanders, a fine country rich in loving girls.”

And he thought sadly of Nele.

“What was your crime?” they asked him, desisting from their dancing.

“I would not dare to confess it,” said he, “so great a one it was. But I have other things that are not small.”

They smiled at that and asked why he must travel in this wise with staff and scrip and oyster shell. [73]

“Because,” said he, lying a little, “I said that masses for the dead are of advantage to the priests.”

“They bring them in good coin,” replied they, “but they are of advantage to souls in purgatory.”

“I wasn’t there,” rejoined Ulenspiegel.

“Will you eat with us, pilgrim?” said the prettiest of the archers.

“I will gladly eat with you,” said he, “and eat you, and all the others turn about, for you are titbits for a king, more delicious than ortolans or thrushes or woodcocks.”

“God give you food,” said they, “this is game beyond price.”

“Like all of you, dear ones,” he answered.

“Aye, verily,” said they, “but we are not for sale.”

“And for the giving?” he asked.

“Ay,” said they, “of blows to the overbold. And if you need it, we will thrash you like a sheaf of corn.”

“I abstain therefrom,” said he.

“Come eat,” said they.

He followed them into the court of the inn, happy to see these fresh faces about him. Suddenly he beheld entering the court with high ceremony, with banner and trumpet and flute and tambourine, the Brothers of the Good Red Nose, wearing in fatness the jolly name of their fellowship. As they looked curiously upon him, the women told them it was a pilgrim they had picked up by the way and that finding him a true Red Nose, and matching their husbands and betrotheds, they had been minded to make him share their feast.

The men approved their tale, and one said: [74]

“Pilgrim on pilgrimage, wouldst thou pilgrimage through sauces and fricassees?”

“I shall have seven-leagued boots for that,” said Ulenspiegel.

As he was on the point of entering the hall of the feasting with them, he descried on the road to Paris twelve blind men trudging along. When they passed before him, complaining of hunger and of thirst, Ulenspiegel said to himself that they would sup that night like kings, at the charge of the dean of Uccle, in memory of the masses for the dead. He went to them and said:

“Here be nine florins, come and eat. Do ye smell the good fragrance of the fricassees?”

“Alas!” said they, “for the last half of a league, and no hope.”

“You shall eat,” said Ulenspiegel, “now you have nine florins.” But he did not give them.

“A blessing on thee,” said they.

And guided by Ulenspiegel, they sat down around a small table, while the Brothers of the Good Red Nose sate at a great one with their goodwives and sweethearts.

Speaking with full assurance of nine florins:

“Host,” said the blind men, proudly, “give us to eat and drink of your best.”

The host, who had heard a mention of the nine florins, believed them to be in their pouches, and asked what they wished to have.

Then all of them, speaking at once, cried out:

“Peas with bacon, a hotchpotch of beef, veal, mutton, and fowl.”—“Are sausages meant for dogs?”—“Who ever smelled the passing of black puddings and white, [75]without seizing them by the collar? I used to see them, alas! when my poor eyes were candles to me.”—“Where are the koekebakken au beurre of Anderlecht? They sing in the pan, succulent and crisp, mother of quart draughts.”—“Who will bring under my nose ham and eggs or eggs and ham, those tender brothers and close friends in the mouth?”—“Where are ye, divine choesels, swimming, proud viands that you are, in the midst of kidneys, of cockscombs, of riz de veau, of oxtails, sheep’s trotters, and abundant onions, pepper, cloves, nutmeg, all in the stew and three quarts of white wine for sauce?”—“Who will bring you to me, divine andouilles, so good that ye say no word when ye are swallowed? Ye came ever straight from Luy-leckerland, the rich country of the happy do-naughts, the lickers up of never-ending sauces. But where are ye, withered leaves of bygone autumns!”—“I want a leg of mutton with beans.”—“I want pigs’ plumes, their ears.”—“For me a rosary of ortolans, with woodcocks for the Paters on it and a fat capon for the Credo.”

The host answered sedately:

“You shall have an omelette of sixty eggs, and for guiding posts for you spoons, fifty black puddings, planted smoking hot on this mountain of nourishment, and dobbel peterman to wash all down with: that will be the river.”

The water came into the mouths of the poor blind men and they said:

“Serve us the mountain, the guideposts, and the river.”

And the Brothers of the Good Red Nose and their goodwives already at table with Ulenspiegel said that this day was for the blind the day of invisible junketing, [76]and that the poor men thus lost the half of their pleasure.

When the omelette arrived, all decked with parsley and nasturtium, and borne by the host and four cooks, the blind men would fain have thrown themselves upon it and already were haggling in it, but the host served them separately, not without difficulty, to each his share in his own dish.

The archer women were touched to see them eating and heaving sighs of content, for they were mightily hungered and swallowed down the black puddings like oysters. The dobbel peterman flowed down into their bellies like cascades falling from mountain tops.

When they had cleaned their dishes, they asked again for koekebakken, for ortolans and fresh fricassees. The host only served them a great dish of bones of beef and veal and mutton swimming in a good sauce. He did not give each his portion.

When they had dipped their bread and their hands up to the elbows in the sauce, and only brought up bones of every kind, even some ox jaw bones, everyone thought his neighbour had all the meat, and they beat each other’s faces furiously with the bones.

The Brothers of the Good Red Nose, having laughed their fill, charitably conveyed part of their own feast into the poor fellows’ dish, and he who groped in the plate for a bone for a weapon would set his hand on a thrush, a chicken, a lark or two, while the goodwives, pulling their heads back, would pour Brussels wine down their throats in a flood, and when they groped about blindly to feel whence these streams of ambrosia were coming to them, they caught [77]nothing but a petticoat, and would fain have held it, but it would whisk away from them suddenly.

And so they laughed, drank, ate, and sang. Some scenting out the pretty goodwives, ran all about the hall beside themselves, bewitched by love, but teasing girls would mislead them, and hiding behind a Good Red Nose would say “kiss me.” And they would, but instead of a woman, they kissed the bearded face of a man, and not without rebuffs.

The Good Red Noses sang, the blind men, too. And the jolly goodwives smiled kindly seeing their glee.

When these rich and sappy hours were over, the baes said to them:

“You have eaten well and drunk well, I want seven florins.”

Each one swore he had no purse, and accused his neighbour. Hence arose yet another fray in which they sought to strike one another with foot and fist and head, but they could not, and struck out wildly, for the Good Red Noses, seeing the play, kept man away from man. And blows hailed upon the empty air, save one that by ill chance fell upon the face of the baes, who, in a rage, searched them all and found on them nothing but an old scapular, seven liards, three breeches buttons, and their paternosters.

He wanted to fling them into the swinehouse and leave them there on bread and water until someone should pay what they owed for them.

“Do you,” said Ulenspiegel, “want me to go surety for them?”

“Ay,” replied the baes, “if someone will be surety for you.” [78]

The Good Red Noses were about to do it, but Ulenspiegel stopped them, saying:

“The dean will be surety, I am going to find him.”

Thinking of the masses for the dead, he went to the deanery and told him how that the baes of the Trumpet, being possessed of the devil, spoke of nothing but pigs and blind men, the pigs devouring the blind and the blind eating the pigs under divers unholy guises of roasts and fricassees. During these fits, said he, the baes broke everything in the house, and he begged the dean to come and deliver the poor man from this wicked fiend.

The dean promised, but said he could not go immediately, for at that moment he was casting up the accounts of the chapter, and endeavouring to derive some profit out of them.

Seeing him impatient, Ulenspiegel said he would come back with the wife of the baes and that the dean could speak to her himself.

“Come both of you,” said the dean.

Ulenspiegel came back to the baes, and said to him:

“I have just seen the dean, he will stand surety for the blind men. While you keep guard over them, let the hostess come with me to the dean, he will repeat to her what I have just told you.”

“Go, goodwife,” said the baes.

She went off with Ulenspiegel to the dean, who was still figuring to find his profit. When she came in with Ulenspiegel, he impatiently waved her away, saying:

“Be easy, I shall come to your husband’s help in a day or two.”

And Ulenspiegel, returning to the Trumpet, said [79]to himself, “He will pay seven florins, and that will be my first mass for the dead.”

And he went on his way, and the blind men likewise.



Finding himself, on the morrow, upon a highway in the midst of a great crowd of folk, Ulenspiegel went with them, and soon knew that it was the day of the pilgrimage of Alsemberg.

He saw poor old women marching backwards, barefooted, for a florin and for the expiation of the sins of certain great ladies. On the edge of the highway, to the sound of rebecks, viols, and bagpipes, more than one pilgrim was holding a frying feast and junketing of bruinbier. And the smoke of delicious stews mounted towards heaven like a suave incense of food.

But there were other pilgrims, low fellows, needy and starveling, who, paid by the Church, were walking backwards for six sols.

A little man, completely bald, with staring eyes and a savage look, was skipping along backwards behind them reciting paternosters.

Ulenspiegel, wishing to know why he was mimicking the crayfishes in this fashion, planting himself before him and smiling, jumped in step with him. The rebecks, fifes, viols, and bagpipes, and the groans of the pilgrims made the music for the dance.

“Jan van den Duivel,” said Ulenspiegel, “is it that you may more certainly fall that you run in this wise?”

The man made no answer and went on mumbling his paternosters.

“Perhaps,” said Ulenspiegel, “you want to know [80]how many trees there are along the road. But are you not counting the leaves also?”

The man, who was reciting a Credo, signed to Ulenspiegel to hold his tongue.

“Perhaps,” said the latter, still skipping before him and imitating him, “it is the result of some sudden madness that you should thus be going the contrary way to everybody else. But he who would have a wise answer from a madman is not wise himself. Is not this true, master of the peeled poll?”

As the man still made no answer, Ulenspiegel went on skipping, but making so much noise with his boot-soles that the road reëchoed like a wooden box.

“Maybe,” said Ulenspiegel, “you might be dumb, good sir?”

Ave Maria,” said the other, “gratia plena et benedictus fructus ventris tui Jesu.

“Maybe you are deaf as well?” said Ulenspiegel. “We shall see that: they say deaf men hear neither praises nor insults. Let us see if the drums of your ears are skin or brass: thinkest thou, lantern without candle, simulacrum of a foot-goer, that thou dost resemble a man? That will be when men are made of rags. Where has such jaundiced visnomy been ever seen, that peeled head, save on the gallows field? Wast thou not hanged of yore?”

And Ulenspiegel went on dancing, and the man, who was entering on the ways of wrath, was running backwards angrily still mumbling his paternosters.

“Maybe,” said Ulenspiegel, “thou comprehendest but high Flemish, I will speak to thee in the low: if thou art no glutton, thou art a drunkard, if no drunkard, but a water bibber, thou art foully choked elsewhere; if not constipated, thou art jerry-go-nimble; if not a [81]lecher, a capon; if there be temperance, it was not that that filled the tun of thy belly, and if in the thousand million men that people the earth there were but one only cuckold, it would be thou.”

At this word Ulenspiegel sat down upon his seat, legs in air, for the man had fetched him such a blow with his fist under the nose that he saw more than a hundred candles. Then cunningly falling upon him, despite the weight of his belly, he struck him everywhere, and blows rained like hail upon the thin frame of Ulenspiegel, whose cudgel fell to the ground.

“Learn by this lesson,” said the man, “not to pester honest folk going on pilgrimage. For you may know that I go thus to Alsemberg according to custom to implore Madam Holy Mary to cause to miscarry a child my wife conceived when I was on my travels. To win so great a boon, a man must needs walk and dance backward from the twentieth step from his home to the foot of the church steps, without speaking. Alas! now I must begin all over again.”

Ulenspiegel having picked up his cudgel said:

“I shall help you, rascal, you who would have Our Lady serve to kill babes in their mothers’ womb.”

And he fell to beating the wretched cuckold so cruelly that he left him for dead on the road.

All this while there rose to heaven the groans of pilgrims, the sounds of fifes, viols, rebecks, and bagpipes, and, like a pure incense, the savour of frying.



Claes, Soetkin, and Nele were gossiping together about the ingle, and talked of the pilgrim on his pilgrimage. [82]

“Daughter,” said Soetkin, “why cannot you, by the might of the spell of youth, keep him always with us?”

“Alas!” said Nele, “I cannot.”

“’Tis because,” said Claes, “he hath a counter charm that drives him to run without ever resting save for the work of his teeth.”

“The cruel, ugly fellow!” sighed Nele.

“Cruel,” said Soetkin, “I admit, but ugly, no. If my son Ulenspiegel has not a Greek or a Roman countenance, he is all the better for that; for they are of Flanders his agile feet, of the Frank of Bruges his keen brown eye, and his nose and his mouth made by two past masters in the science of humour and sculpture.”

“Who, then,” asked Claes, “made him his lazy arms and his legs too prone to run to pleasure?”

“His heart that is over young,” replied Soetkin.



In these days Katheline by her simples cured an ox, three sheep, and a pig belonging to Speelman but could not cure a cow that belonged to Jan Beloen. The latter accused her of sorcery. He averred that she had cast a spell on the beast, inasmuch as, while giving his simples, she caressed and talked to it, doubtless in a diabolical speech, for an honest Christian should not talk to a beast.

The said Jan Beloen added that he was a neighbour of Speelman’s, whose ox, sheep, and pig she had healed, and if she had killed his cow, it was doubtless at the instigation of Speelman, jealous to see that his, Beloen’s, land was better tilled than his own. Upon [83]the testimony of Peter Meulemeester, a man of good life and conduct, and also of Jan Beloen, certifying that Katheline was reputed a witch in Damme, and had doubtless killed the cow, Katheline was arrested and condemned to be tormented until she should have confessed her crimes and misdeeds.

She was questioned by a sheriff who was always in a rage, for he drank brandy all day long. He had Katheline put upon the first bench of torment in his presence and before the Vierschare.

The executioner stripped her naked, then shaved her hair and all her body, looking everywhere to see if she concealed a charm.

Finding nothing, he fastened her with cords to the bench. Then she spake:

“I am all shamed to be naked thus before these men, Madam Mary, grant that I may die!”

Then the executioner put wet cloths upon her breast, her belly, and her legs, and raising the bench, he poured hot water into her stomach in such quantities that she was all swelled up. Then he lowered the bench again.

The sheriff asked Katheline if she would confess her crime. She made sign that she would not. The executioner poured more hot water into her, but she vomited all of it out again.

Then at the chirurgeon’s bidding she was untied. She did not speak, but struck on her breast to say the hot water had burned her. When the sheriff perceived that she had recovered from this first torment he said to her:

“Confess thou art a witch, and that thou didst cast a spell upon the cow.” [84]

“I will not confess,” said she. “I love all dumb beasts, as much as my poor heart may, and I would harm myself rather than them, who cannot defend themselves. I used the needful simples to cure the cow.”

But the sheriff:

“Thou didst give her poison,” said he, “for the cow is dead.”

“Master sheriff,” answered Katheline, “I am here before you, in your power. I dare say to you, nevertheless, that a beast can die of sickness, like a man, in spite of the assistance of the surgeons and the doctors. And I swear by my Lord Christ who died on the cross for our sins, that I have wished no harm to this cow, but sought to cure her by simple remedies.”

Then said the sheriff, enraged:

“This devil’s hag will not always deny, let her be put on another bench for the torment!”

And therewith he drank a great glass of brandy.

The executioner made Katheline sit on the lid of an oaken coffin placed upon trestles. The said lid, shaped like a roof, was sharp as a blade. A great fire was burning in the fireplace, for it was then November.

Katheline, seated upon the coffin and a spit of sharpened wood, was shod with tight shoes of new leather and set before the fire. When she felt the sharp wooden edge of the coffin and the pointed spit entering her flesh, and when the fire heated and shrank the leather of her shoes, she cried:

“I suffer a thousand pangs! Who will give me black poison?”

“Put her nearer the fire,” said the sheriff. Then questioning Katheline: [85]

“How often,” said he, “didst thou bestride a broom to go to the Sabbath? How often didst thou blast the corn in the ear, the fruit upon the tree, the babe in the mother’s womb? How often didst thou turn two brothers to sworn foes, and two sisters into rivals filled with hatred?”

Katheline would have spoken, but could not, and moved her arms as though to say no. The sheriff then:

“She will only speak when she feels all her witch fat melt in the fire. Put her nearer.”

Katheline cried out. The sheriff said:

“Pray to Satan that he may cool thee.”

She made a movement as though she would take off her shoes that were smoking in the fierceness of the fire.

“Pray to Satan that he pull off thy shoes,” said the sheriff.

The clock was striking ten, the furious creature’s dinner hour; he went away with the executioner and the clerk, leaving Katheline alone before the fire, in the torture chamber.

At eleven they came back and found Katheline seated stiff and motionless. The clerk said:

“She is dead, I think.”

The sheriff ordered the executioner to take Katheline down from the coffin and the shoes from off her feet. Not being able to pull them off, he cut them away, and the feet of Katheline were disclosed red and bleeding.

And the sheriff, thinking of his meal, looked at her without a word; but presently she recovered her senses, and falling on the ground and unable to rise for all her efforts, she said to the sheriff: [86]

“Once on a time wouldst fain have had me to wife, but now thou shalt not have me. Four times three it is the sacred number, and the thirteenth is the husband.”

Then as the sheriff would have spoken, she said to him:

“Stay silent, he has hearing finer than the archangel that in heaven counts the heart beats of the just. Why dost thou come so late? Four times three it is the sacred number, he slayeth those that desire me.”

The sheriff said:

“She receives the devil in her bed.”

“She is out of her wits with the anguish of the torment,” said the clerk.

Katheline was taken back to prison. Three days after, the sheriff’s court being assembled in the Vierschare, Katheline after deliberation was condemned to the fire.

The executioner and his assistants brought her to the marketplace of Damme where there was a scaffold on which she mounted. In the marketplace were the provost, the herald, and the judges.

The trumpets of the town herald sounded three times, and turning to the people he announced:

“The magistrate of Damme, having had compassion on the woman Katheline, has been pleased not to exact punishment according to the extreme rigour of the law of the town, but in order to bear witness that she is a witch, her hair shall be burned, she shall pay twenty gold carolus by way of fine, and shall be banished for three years from the precincts of Damme under pain of losing one limb.”

And the people applauded this harsh lenity. [87]

The executioner thereupon bound Katheline to the stake, set a wig of tow upon her shaven head and set it on fire. And the tow burned long and Katheline cried out and wept.

Then she was unbound and taken without the boundaries of Damme upon a cart, for her feet were burned.



Ulenspiegel being now at Bois-le-Duc in Brabant, the magnates of the town would fain have appointed him their fool, but he would none of this dignity. “Pilgrim on pilgrimage cannot play fool as a permanency, but only at inns and on the highways.”

At this same time Philip, who was King of England, came to visit the countries of his future inheritance, Flanders, Brabant, Hainault, Holland, and Zealand. He was then in his twenty-ninth year; in his grayish eyes dwelt sour melancholy, savage dissimulation, and cruel resolution. Cold was his countenance, and stiff his head covered with tawny hair; stiff, too, his meagre torso and spindle limbs. Slow was his speech and thick as though he had wool in his mouth.

Amid tourneys, jousts, and feastings, he visited the joyous duchy of Brabant, the rich county Flanders, and his other seignories. Everywhere he swore to observe and confirm the privileges; but when at Brussels he took oath upon the Testament to observe the Golden Bull of Brabant his hand clenched so tight that he must needs take it away from the sacred book.

He went to Antwerp, where they put up twenty-three triumphal arches to receive him. The city disbursed two hundred and eighty-seven thousand florins to pay [88]for these arches and for the costumes of eighteen hundred and seventy-nine merchants all clad in crimson velvet and for the rich livery of four hundred and sixteen lackeys and the brilliant silk trappings of four thousand burgesses, all clad alike. Many feasts were given by the rhetoricians of all the cities in the Low Countries, or nearly all.

There were seen, with their fools male and female, the Prince of Love, of Tournai, mounted upon a sow that was called Astarte; the King of Fools, of Lille, who led a horse by the tail and walked behind; the Prince of Pleasure, of Valenciennes, who amused himself counting how many times his donkey broke wind; the Abbot of Mirth, of Arras, who drank Brussels wine from a flask shaped like a breviary, and that was gay reading; the Abbot of the Paux-Pourvus, of Ath, who was provided with linen full of holes and boots down at heel, but had a sausage with which he made good provision for his belly; the Provost of Madcaps, a young man mounted on a shy goat, and who trotting in the crowd got many a thwack because of her; the Abbot of the Silver Dish, from Quesnoy, who mounted on his horse pretended to be sitting in a dish, saying “there is no beast so big that fire cannot cook him.”

And they played all kinds of harmless foolery, but the King remained sad and severe.

That same evening, the Markgrave of Antwerp, the burgomasters, captains and deans, assembled together to find out some game or play that might win Philip the King to laughter.

Said the Markgrave:

“Have ye not heard tell of a certain Pierkin Jacobsen, [89]the town-fool of Bois-le-Duc, and far renowned for his merry tricks?”

“Yes,” said the others.

“Well!” said the Markgrave, “let us summon him to come hither, and bid him do us some nimblewitted turn, since our own fool has his boots stuffed with lead.”

“Let us summon him hither,” said they.

When the messenger from Antwerp came to Bois-le-Duc, they told him that the fool Pierkin had snuffed out his candle with over-much laughing, but that there was in the town another fool, a bird of passage, called Ulenspiegel. The messenger went to look for him in a tavern where he was eating a fricassee of mussels and making a petticoat for a girl with the shells.

Ulenspiegel was delighted when he knew that it was for him the courier of the commune had come all the way from Antwerp, mounted upon a fine horse of Vuern-Ambacht and leading another by the bridle.

Without setting foot to ground, the courier asked him if he knew where to find a new trick to make King Philip laugh.

“I have a mine of them under my hair,” answered Ulenspiegel.

They went away together. The two horses galloping loose-reined brought Ulenspiegel and the courier to Antwerp.

Ulenspiegel made his appearance before the Markgrave, the two burgomasters, and the officials of the commune.

“What do you intend to do?” asked the Markgrave.

“Fly in the air,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“How will you set about this?” asked the Markgrave. [90]

“Do you know,” asked Ulenspiegel, “what is worth less than a burst bladder?”

“I do not know,” said the Markgrave.

“A secret that has been let out,” replied Ulenspiegel.

In the meanwhile, the heralds of the games, mounted upon their handsome steeds caparisoned with crimson velvet, rode through all the main streets, squares, and carfaxes of the city, sounding clarions and with beat of drum. In this fashion they announced to the signorkes and the signorkinnes that Ulenspiegel, the fool of Damme, would fly in the air at the quay, there being present upon a staging King Philip and his high illustrious and distinguished company.

Over against the staging there was a house built in the Italian fashion, with a gutter running along the whole length of the roof. A garret window opened upon the gutter.

Ulenspiegel on this day went through the city everywhere riding upon an ass. A footman ran alongside him. Ulenspiegel had donned the fine robe of crimson silk the magnates of the commune had given him. His headgear was a hood, crimson as well, on which were seen two asses’ ears with a bell on the tip of each. He wore a necklace of copper medallions embossed with the shield of Antwerp. On the sleeves of the robe there tinkled at each pointed elbow a gilt bell. He had shoes with gilt soles, and a bell at the tip of each.

His ass was caparisoned with crimson silk and on each thigh carried the shield of Antwerp broidered in fine gold.

The footman brandished a donkey’s head in one hand and in the other a branch at the end of which chimed a cowbell from a forest-bred cow. [91]

Ulenspiegel, leaving his ass and his footman in the street, climbed up into the gutter.

There, shaking his bells, he opened out his arms as if he was on the point of flying. Then leaning down towards King Philip, he said:

“I thought there was no fool in Antwerp save only me, but I perceive the town is full of them. If you had told me you were going to fly, I should not have believed you; but let a fool come and tell you he will do it, and you believe him. How would you have me fly, since I have no wings?”

Some laughed, others swore, but all said:

“This fool says what is none the less quite true.”

But King Philip remained stiff as a king of stone.

And the magnates of the commune said softly one to the other:

“There was no need to make such great festival for such a sour-face.”

And they gave three florins to Ulenspiegel, who departed, first perforce restoring to them the robe of crimson silk.

“What are three florins in the pouch of a young man but a snowball before a fire, a full bottle in front of you, wide-throated drinkers? Three florins! The leaves fall from the trees and sprout again upon them, but florins leave pouches and return thither no more: the butterflies flitter away with the summer time, and the florins, too, although they weigh two estrelins and nine as.”

So saying, Ulenspiegel contemplated his three florins closely.

“What a haughty mien,” murmured he, “hath the Emperor Charles upon the obverse, cuirassed and helmeted, holding a sword in one hand and in the other [92]the globe of this poor earthly world! He is by the grace of God Emperor of the Romans, King of Spain, and so forth, and he is most gracious towards these our countries, this emperor in the cuirass. And here on the reverse is a shield on which are graven and displayed the arms of a duke, count, etc., pertaining to his divers possessions, with this goodly device: Da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos: ‘Give me strength against thy enemies.’ He was valiant indeed against those of the reformed that have goods to confiscate, and he inheriteth them. Ah! were I the Emperor Charles, I would have florins minted for everybody, and each man being rich, no one should work more.”

But Ulenspiegel looked in vain at the lovely money; it was gone towards the land of ruin to the clinking of quart pots and the chiming of bottles.



While he displayed himself on the gutter all clad in crimson silk, Ulenspiegel had not seen Nele who from the crowd was looking on him smiling. She was living at this time at Borgerhout near Antwerp, and thought that if some fool was to fly before King Philip, it could only be her friend Ulenspiegel.

As he marched along the way, plunged in reverie, he did not hear a sound of hastening steps behind him, but felt two hands that were laid flat upon his eyes. Guessing Nele instinctively:

“Are you there?” said he.

“Aye,” she said, “I have been running behind you ever since you came out of the city. Come with me.”

“But where,” said he, “where is Katheline?” [93]

“Thou dost not know it,” said she, “that she was tortured unjustly for a witch, then banished out of Damme for three years, and that they burned her feet and burned tow upon her head. I tell thee this that thou mayest have no fear of her, for she is out of her wits because of the cruel torment. Often she spends whole hours looking at her feet and saying: ‘Hanske, my sweet devil, see what they did to thy dear. And her poor feet are like two wounds.’ Then she weeps, saying: ‘Other women have a husband or a lover, but I live at this moment as a widow.’ I tell her then that Hanske will hate her if she speaks of him before other folk than me. And she obeys me like a child save when she sees a cow or an ox, the cause of her torture; then she flees running without stay, and nothing can stop her, fences, streams, or ditches, till she falls for weariness in some corner of the wayside or against the wall of a farm, whither I go and take her up and dress her poor feet that are by then all bleeding. And I deem that in burning the hank of tow they burned also her brain in her head.”

And both were grieved thinking upon Katheline.

They came to her and saw her sitting upon a bench in the sun against the wall of a house. Ulenspiegel said to her:

“Do you know me?”

“Four times three,” quoth she, “it is the sacred number, and the thirteenth is Thereb. Who art thou, child of this wicked world?”

“I am Ulenspiegel,” he answered, “the son of Soetkin and of Claes.”

She shook her head and knew him; then beckoning him close with her finger and bending to his ear: [94]

“If thou see him whose kisses are as snow, tell him to come back to me, Ulenspiegel.”

Then showing her burned hair:

“I am ill,” she said; “they have taken my wits, but when he comes he will fill my head again, which now is all empty. Hearest thou? it sounds like a bell; it is my soul knocking at the door to depart, because it burns. If Hanske comes and has no mind to fill me my head again, I will tell him to make a hole in it with a knife: the soul that is there, ever knocking to come out, grieveth me cruelly, and I shall die, yea. And now I never sleep, and I look for him always, and he must fill me my head again, yea.”

And sinking down again, she groaned.

And the peasants that were coming back from the fields to go to dinner, while the church bell called them to it, passed before Katheline saying:

“There is the madwife.”

And they made the sign of the cross.

And Nele and Ulenspiegel wept, and Ulenspiegel must needs go on upon his pilgrimage.



At this time as he pilgrimaged he entered into the service of one Josse, surnamed the Kwaebakker, the cross baker, because of his vinegar face. The Kwaebakker gave him three stale loaves every week for his food, and for lodging a sloping garret under the roof, where the rain rained and the wind blew marvellously.

Seeing himself so evilly entreated, Ulenspiegel played him different tricks and this among them. When they bake in the early morning, the flour must be bolted over [95]night. One night, then, when the moon was shining, Ulenspiegel asked for a candle to see to work and had this answer from his master:

“Bolt the flour in the light of the moon.”

Ulenspiegel, obeying him, bolted the flour upon the earth, where the moonlight was shining.

In the morning the Kwaebakker, coming to see how much work Ulenspiegel had done, found him still bolting and said to him:

“Does flour now cost nothing at all that it should be bolted on the ground like this?”

“I bolted the flour in the moonlight as you had bidden me,” answered Ulenspiegel.

The baker replied:

“Pack-donkey, it was in a sieve you should have done it.”

“I thought the moon was a new-fangled kind of sieve,” replied Ulenspiegel. “But there will be no great loss, I will scrape up the flour.”

“It is too late,” answered the Kwaebakker, “to get ready the dough and to bake it.”

Ulenspiegel rejoined:

Baes, our neighbour’s dough is ready in the mill; shall I go and take that?”

“Go to the gallows,” replied the Kwaebakker, “and fetch what is on that.”

“I go, baes,” answered Ulenspiegel.

He ran to the gallows field, found there the dried hand of a robber, brought it to the Kwaebakker, and said:

“Here is a hand of glory that maketh invisible all those that carry it. Wilt thou henceforward conceal thy evil disposition?”

“I shall inform the commune against you,” replied [96]the Kwaebakker, “and you will see that you have infringed upon the rights of the overlord.”

When they were both before the burgomaster, the Kwaebakker, wishing to tell the whole rosary of Ulenspiegel’s misdeeds and delinquencies, saw that he was opening his eyes to their widest. He became so angry at this that interrupting his deposition he said to him:

“What do you want?”

Ulenspiegel replied:

“You told me you would accuse me in such wise that I ‘would see.’ I am trying to see, that is why I look.”

“Out of my eyes,” cried the baker.

“If I was in your eyes,” answered Ulenspiegel, “I could only come out, seeing that you shut them, through your nostrils.”

The burgomaster, seeing that this day was the day for the fair of japes, would listen to them no longer.

Ulenspiegel and the Kwaebakker went away together, the Kwaebakker raised his cudgel on him; Ulenspiegel dodged it, saying:

Baes, since it is with blows my flour is to be sifted, you take the bran of it—it is your anger: I keep the white—it is my gaiety.”

Then showing him his nether face:

“And here,” he added, “is the door of the oven, if you want to bake.”



Ulenspiegel as he pilgrimaged would gladly have turned highway robber, but he found the stones too heavy to carry.

He was trudging by chance on the road to Audenaerde where there was then a garrison of Flemish reiters [97]charged with the defence of the town against the French bands that ravaged the country like locusts.

The reiters had at their head a certain captain, a Frisian born, by name Kornjuin. They also overran the low country and pillaged the peoples, who were thus, as usual, devoured on both sides.

Everything was good in their eyes: hens, chickens, ducks, pigeons, calves, and pigs. One day, as they were coming back laden with plunder, Kornjuin and his lieutenants saw at the foot of a tree Ulenspiegel lying asleep and dreaming of fricassees.

“What do you do for a living?” asked Kornjuin.

“I’m dying of hunger,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“What is your trade?”

“To go on pilgrimage for my sins, look on at others toiling, dance on the rope, paint pretty faces, carve knife handles, play the rommel-pot, and blow the trumpet.”

Now if Ulenspiegel spoke so bold of trumpets, it was because he had learned that the post of watchman to the Castle of Audenaerde was vacant after the death of an old man who had held it.

Kornjuin said to him:

“You shall be trumpeter to the town.”

Ulenspiegel went with him and was posted on the tallest tower on the ramparts, in a little box of a cell well ventilated by the four winds, all except the south wind that fanned it only with one wing.

He was enjoined to sound the trumpet as soon as he might see an enemy coming and, to that end, to keep his head clear and his eyes keen; and so they did not give him overmuch either to eat or to drink.

The captain and his soldiers stayed in the tower and feasted there all day long at the expense of the low [98]country. There was killed and eaten there more than one capon whose one crime was to be plump. Ulenspiegel, always forgotten and forced to be satisfied with his meagre soup, found no pleasure in the smell of the sauces. The French came and carried off a great deal of cattle; Ulenspiegel did not sound his trumpet.

Kornjuin climbed up to his cell and said to him:

“Why did you not sound the trumpet?”

Ulenspiegel said to him:

“I give you no thanks for your provender.”

The next day, the captain ordered a great feast for himself and his soldiers, but Ulenspiegel was still forgotten. They were on the point of beginning to gorge, when Ulenspiegel blew his trumpet.

Kornjuin and his soldiers, thinking it was the French, left their wines and meats, leapt upon their horses, rode hastily out of the town, but found nothing in the country but an ox chewing the cud in the sun, and brought him back with them.

Meanwhile, Ulenspiegel had filled himself with wines and meats. The captain as he returned saw him standing, smiling, and his legs tottering at the door of the feast hall. He said to him:

“It is traitor’s work to sound the alarm when you do not see the enemy, and not to sound it when you do see them.”

“Master captain,” said Ulenspiegel, “I am in my tower so puffed out and swollen up with the four winds that I could float like a bladder if I had not blown in my trumpet to ease me. Have me hanged now, or another time when you need an ass’s skin for your drums.”

Kornjuin went away without a word. [99]

Meanwhile, news came to Audenaerde that the gracious Emperor Charles was about to come to the town, with a most noble company. On this occasion the sheriffs gave Ulenspiegel a pair of spectacles that he might the better discern His Sacred Majesty’s coming. Ulenspiegel was to blow three blasts on the trumpet as soon as he saw the Emperor marching upon Luppeghem, which is a quarter of a league away from the Borg-poort.

Thus the townsfolk would have time to ring their bells, to make ready fireworks, to put the meats in the oven, and to broach the hogsheads.

One day, towards noon, the wind was blowing from Brabant and the sky was clear: Ulenspiegel saw on the road leading to Luppeghem a great band of horsemen mounted on caracoling steeds, the long feathers in their caps streaming in the wind. Some carried banners. He who rode proudly at their head wore a bonnet of cloth of gold with great plumes. He was arrayed in brown velvet broidered with brocatel.

Ulenspiegel put on his spectacles and saw it was the Emperor Charles the Fifth who was coming to give the folk of Audenaerde permission to serve him their choicest wines and their choicest viands.

His whole band was moving leisurely, snuffing up the fresh air that awakens appetite, but Ulenspiegel thought that they made good cheer by custom and might very well fast for one day without perishing. So he looked on at them as they came and did not blow his trumpet.

They came on laughing and talking freely, whilst His Sacred Majesty looked into his stomach to see if there was enough room for the dinner of the Audenaerde [100]folk. He appeared surprised and displeased that no bell rang to announce his coming.

At this juncture a peasant entered the town running, to announce that he had seen a French band riding in the neighbourhood and marching upon the town to devour and pillage everything.

At this word the porter fastened the gate and sent a servant of the commune to warn the other porters of the town. But the reiters feasted without knowing anything.

His Majesty was still coming on, annoyed not to hear bells and cannon and arquebuses sounding and thundering and volleying. Straining his ears in vain, he heard nothing but the chime marking the half hour. He arrived before the gate, found it shut and beat on it with his fist to have it opened.

And the lords in his retinue, angry like him, muttered sour speeches. The porter who was on the summit of the ramparts cried out to them that if they did not put an end to this hubbub he would spray them with grapeshot to cool their impatience.

But His Majesty in a fury:

“Blind hog,” said he, “dost thou not know thy Emperor?”

The porter answered:

That the least hoggish are not always the most gilded; that he knew, besides, that the French were good mockers by their nature, since the Emperor Charles, at this moment waging war in Italy, could not be at the gates of Audenaerde.

Thereupon Charles and the lords cried out the more, saying:

“If thou dost not open, we shall roast thee on the [101]point of a spear. And thou shalt eat thy keys first and foremost.”

At the noise they were making, an old man-at-arms came out from the artillery room and showing his nose above the wall:

“Porter,” said he, “you are all wrong, it is our Emperor yonder; I know him well, though he has aged since he took Maria van der Gheynst from here to the Castle of Lallaing.”

The porter fell down stiff as death with terror, and the man-at-arms seized his keys and went to open the gate.

The Emperor asked why he had been forced to wait so long: the man-at-arms having told him, His Majesty ordered him to shut the gate again, and to fetch him the reiters of Kornjuin, whom he commanded to march before him beating their tambourines and playing their fifes.

Soon one by one the bells awoke to sound full peal. Thus preceded, His Majesty came with an imperial din to the Great Marketplace. The burgomasters and sheriffs were all assembled there; the sheriff Ian Guigelaar came out at the noise. He went back into the council chamber saying:

Keyser Karel is alhier! The Emperor Charles is here!”

Sorely affrighted to hear these tidings, the burgomasters, sheriffs, and councillors came out from the Townhall to go in a body to greet the Emperor, while their men ran throughout the whole town to have the fireworks got ready, to put the chickens to the fire, and to broach the casks.

Men, women, and children ran everywhere crying: [102]

Keyser Karel is op’t groot marckt! The Emperor is in the Great Market!”

Ere long great was the crowd in the square.

The Emperor, in deep anger, asked the two burgomasters if they did not deserve to be hanged for thus failing in respect to their sovereign.

The burgomasters replied that they deserved hanging indeed, but that Ulenspiegel, the trumpeter of the tower, deserved it much more, seeing that upon the rumour of His Majesty’s coming he had been stationed there, equipped with a good pair of barnacles, with express instructions that he should sound his trumpet three times as soon as he should see the imperial convoy approaching. But he had done nothing of this.

The Emperor, still angry, asked them to send for Ulenspiegel.

“Why,” said he, “having such clear spectacles, didst thou not blow a point on the trumpet at my coming?”

So saying, he passed his hand over his eyes, because of the brightness of the sun, and looked at Ulenspiegel.

Ulenspiegel also passed his hand over his eyes, and replied that since he had seen His Sacred Majesty looking between his fingers, he had no longer desired to make use of the spectacles.

The Emperor told him he was to be hanged, the town porter said it was well done, and the burgomasters were so terrified at this sentence that they made no word of answer, neither to approve it nor to oppose it.

The executioner and his assistants were sent for. They came carrying a ladder and a new rope, seized Ulenspiegel by the collar, as he walked in front of Kornjuin’s hundred reiters, keeping very quiet and saying his prayers. But they mocked him bitterly. [103]

The people who were following said:

“It is a great cruelty to put to death a poor young man in this way for so small a fault.”

And the weavers were there in great numbers and under arms, and they said:

“We shall not leave Ulenspiegel to be hanged: it is contrary to the law of Audenaerde.”

By now they were come to the gallows field, Ulenspiegel was hoisted up on the ladder, and the executioner put the rope on him. The weavers flocked up around the gallows. The provost was there on horseback, resting the rod of justice on his horse’s shoulder, the wand wherewith at the Emperor’s word he should give the signal for the execution.

All the assembled people cried out:

“Mercy! mercy for Ulenspiegel!”

Ulenspiegel upon his ladder said:

“Pity! gracious Emperor!”

The Emperor lifted his hand and said:

“If this rascal asks me for something I cannot do, he shall have his life!”

“Speak, Ulenspiegel,” cried the people.

The women wept and said:

“He can ask for nothing, poor fellow, for the Emperor can do all things.”

And all said:

“Speak, Ulenspiegel!”

“Sacred Majesty,” said Ulenspiegel, “I shall ask thee neither for money, nor for lands, nor for life, but only one thing, for which thou must not, if I dare to say it, have me whipped nor laid on the rack, before I depart to the land of spirits.”

“I promise thee this,” said the Emperor. [104]

“Majesty,” said Ulenspiegel, “I ask that before I be hanged, you shall come and kiss the mouth with which I speak no Flemish.”

The Emperor, laughing like all the people, replied:

“I cannot do what thou dost ask, and thou shalt not hang, Ulenspiegel.”

But he condemned the burgomasters and sheriffs to wear spectacles on the back of their heads for six months, in order, said he, that if the Audenaerde folk do not see in front, they may at least see behind.

And by imperial decree, these spectacles are still seen in the arms of the town.

And Ulenspiegel went away modestly, with a little bag of money the women had given him.



Ulenspiegel being at Liège, in the fish market, he followed after a big young man who with a net bag under one arm filled with every kind of poultry was filling another with haddocks, trout, eels, and pike.

Ulenspiegel knew Lamme Goedzak.

“What are you doing here, Lamme?” said he.

“You know,” said he, “how many Flanders folk have come to this kind country of Liège; for me, I follow my love here. And you?”

“I seek a master to serve for my bread,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“That is very dry food,” said Lamme. “It would be better for you to pass from dish to mouth a rosary of ortolans with a thrush for Credo.”

“You are rich?” asked Ulenspiegel.

Lamme Goedzak answered: [105]

“I have lost my father, my mother, and my young sister that used to beat me so soundly; I shall inherit their goods, and I live with a one-eyed servant woman, a great doctor in fricassees.”

“Would you like me to carry your fish and your poultry?” asked Ulenspiegel.

“Aye,” said Lamme.

And together they wandered about the market.

Suddenly Lamme said:

“Do you know why you are mad?”

“No,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“Because you are carrying your fish and your poultry in your hand, instead of carrying them in your belly.”

“You have said well, Lamme,” said Ulenspiegel; “but since I have no longer even bread, the ortolans won’t look at me now.”

“You shall eat them, Ulenspiegel,” said Lamme, “and you shall serve me if my cook will have you.”

While they were wending their way, Lamme pointed out to Ulenspiegel a pretty, neat, and lovesome girl, in silk attire, who was hastening about the market here and there and looked at Lamme with her soft eyes.

An old man, her father, walked behind her, laden with two net bags, one of fish, the other of game.

“That one,” said Lamme, pointing to her, “I am going to make her my wife.”

“Aye,” said Ulenspiegel, “I know her, she is Flemish from Zotteghem, she lives in the rue Vinave-d’Isle, and the neighbours say that her mother sweeps the street, in front of the house, instead of her, and that her father irons her shifts.”

But Lamme made no answer and said gleefully: [106]

“She looked at me.”

They came together to Lamme’s house, near the Pont-des-Arches, and knocked at the door. A one-eyed serving woman came and opened to them. Ulenspiegel saw she was old, lean and long, flat and fierce.

“La Sanginne,” said Lamme to her, “will you have this one to help you in your work?”

“I will take him on trial,” said she.

“Take him, then,” said he, “and make him know and test the delights of your cookery.”

La Sanginne then put three black puddings on the table, a quart of cervoise ale, and a big hunch of bread.

While Ulenspiegel ate, Lamme also munched a black pudding.

“Do you know,” said he, “where our soul hath its habitation?”

“No, Lamme,” said Ulenspiegel.

“In our stomach it dwelleth,” said Lamme, “to delve therein without ceasing and ever renew in our bodies the force of life. And what are its best companions? They are all good and choice eatables and wine of the Meuse over and above.”

“Aye,” said Ulenspiegel, “black puddings are agreeable company for the lonely soul.”

“He wants more of them, give him some, la Sanginne,” said Lamme.

La Sanginne gave him more, this time white puddings.

While he was eating largely, Lamme, grown pensive, said:

“When I die, my belly will die with me, and there below in purgatory, I shall be left fasting, carrying my paunch about with me all flabby and empty.”

“The black seem to me better,” said Ulenspiegel. [107]

“You have eaten six,” replied la Sanginne, “and you shall have no more.”

“You know,” said Lamme, “that you will be well treated here and will eat like myself.”

“I will remember that word,” said Ulenspiegel.

Ulenspiegel, seeing that he ate the same as Lamme, was happy and content. The black puddings had given him so high a spirit that on that day he made all the caldrons, pans, and cooking pots shine and glitter like so many suns.

Living well in this house, he delighted to haunt kitchen and cellar, leaving the garret to the cats. One day, la Sanginne had two fowls to roast and bade Ulenspiegel turn the spit while she went to the market to fetch herbs for the seasoning.

The two fowls being roasted, Ulenspiegel ate one. La Sanginne, returning, said:

“There were two fowls, now I see only one.”

“Open your other eye, you will see both of them,” replied Ulenspiegel.

She went all in a rage to tell the business to Lamme Goedzak, who came down into the kitchen and said to Ulenspiegel:

“Why do you make game of my servant? There were two fowls.”

“There were of a truth two, Lamme,” said Ulenspiegel, “but when I came here you told me I should drink and eat as yourself. There were two fowls; I have eaten one, you will eat the other; my pleasure is past, yours is to come; are you not better off than I?”

“Yea,” said Lamme, smiling, “but do everything la Sanginne bids you, and you will have but half tasks.”

“I shall watch that, Lamme,” replied Ulenspiegel. [108]

And so, every time that la Sanginne bade him do anything, he only did the half of it; if she told him to draw two buckets of water from the well, he brought back only one; if she told him to go and fill a jug of cervoise from the cask, he poured half of it down his throat on the way and so on with the rest.

At length la Sanginne, grown tired of these ways, told Lamme that if this good-for-naught remained in the house, she would go away on the spot.

Lamme went down to Ulenspiegel and said to him:

“You must depart, my son, although you have come to look well in this house. Listen to that cock crowing, it is two o’clock of the afternoon, it is a presage of rain. I would fain not turn you out of doors in this ill weather that is about to come upon us; but consider, my son, that la Sanginne by her fricassees is the warden of my life; I cannot, without risking a speedy death, allow her to leave me. Go, then, my boy, with God’s grace, and to enliven your way take these three florins and this string of saveloys.”

And Ulenspiegel went away grieving, regretting Lamme and his fleshpots.



November came to Damme and elsewhere, but the winter was tardy. No snow, no rain, nor cold weather; the sun shone from morning to evening without dimming: the children rolled about in the dust of the streets and the highways; at the hour of repose, after supper, the merchants, shopkeepers, goldsmiths, wheelwrights, and artisans came out upon their doorsteps to look on the sky that was always blue, the trees whose leaves were still not falling, the [109]storks standing up on the ridges of the roofs, and the swallows that had not yet gone away. The roses had flowered thrice, and for the fourth time were in bud; the nights were warm, the nightingale had not ceased to sing.

The folk of Damme said:

“Winter is dead, let us burn winter.”

And they built a giant figure with a bear’s face, a long beard of shavings, a thick shock head of flax. They clothed him in white garments and burned him with great ceremony.

Claes was steeped in melancholy, he blessed not the sky that was ever blue, nor the swallows that would not depart. For now nobody in Damme was burning charcoal save for cooking, and each having enough did not go to buy from Claes, who had disbursed all his savings to pay for his stock.

So, if standing on his doorstep, the coalman felt the tip of his nose grow chilly in some puff of sharpish wind:

“Ah!” he would say, “it is my bread coming to me!”

But the sharp wind would not continue to blow, and the sky stayed always blue, and the leaves would not fall. And Claes refused to sell his stock at half price to the miser Grypstuiver, the dean of the fishmongers. And soon bread began to lack in the cottage.



But King Philip was not hungry, and ate pastries by the side of his wife, ugly Mary, of the royal house of the Tudors. He did not love her for love, but hoped by begetting a child on this miserable creature to give the English nation a Spanish monarch. [110]

He loathed this union which was a union of a paving stone and of a burning coal. Still, they were sufficiently united to have poor Protestants burned and drowned by hundreds.

When Philip was not away from London, or slipped out in disguise to wallow in some evil haunt, the bedtime hour brought the wedded pair together.

Then Queen Mary, attired in fine linen of Tournai and Irish lace, would lie down supine upon the nuptial couch, while Philip would stand before her rigid as a post, and look if he could not see in his wife some sign or symptom of motherhood; but seeing none he was wroth, said no word, and stared at his nails.

Then the barren ghoul spoke tenderly and with her eyes, which she sought to make soft, begged the frosty Philip for love. Tears, cries, entreaties, she spared nothing to win a lukewarm caress from him who loved her not at all.

Vainly, joining her hands, she dragged herself at his feet; in vain, like a woman out of her wits, she wept and laughed together to soften him; nor the laugh nor the tears melted the stone of that hard heart.

In vain, like an amorous snake, she coiled her thin arms about him and clasped against her flat breast the narrow cage in which dwelt the stunted soul of the bloody king; he budged no more than if he had been stock or stone.

She tried, poor ugly thing, to make herself alluring; she called him by all the sweet names that women wild with love give the lover of their choice; Philip still stared at his nails. [111]

Sometimes he answered:

“Will you not have any children?”

At that word, Mary’s head fell forward on her breast.

“Is it my fault,” said she, “if I am barren? Take pity upon me, I live a widow’s life.”

“Why have you no children?” said Philip.

Then the Queen fell on the carpet like one smitten with death. And in her eyes were only tears, and she would have wept blood, if she had been able, the poor ghoul.

And in this wise God avenged upon their murderers the victims with which they had strewn the soil of England.



The rumour ran among the people that the Emperor Charles was minded to take away from the monks the free heirship of all who died in their convents, which mightily displeased the Pope.

Ulenspiegel being then upon the banks of the Meuse thought that the Emperor thus reaped his profit on all sides, since he was the heir when the family did not inherit. He sate him down on the bank of the river and cast into it a well-baited line. Then munching an ancient piece of brown bread, he regretted that he had no wine of Romagna to wash it down withal, but he bethought him that a man cannot always have his comforts.

However, he tossed some of his bread into the water, saying that he who eats without sharing his meal with his neighbour is not worthy to have victual to eat.

Up came a gudgeon, that first came to nose at a [112]crumb, licked it all about and opened up his innocent mouth, believing, doubtless, that the bread would fall into it of its own accord. While he was thus gazing into the air, he was all at once gulped down by a treacherous pike that darted out on him like an arrow.

The pike did the same to a carp that was catching flies in their flight, heedless of any danger. Being thus nobly replete, he remained motionless and still, dilly-dallying, scorning the small fry that in any case made haste to flee from his presence with all their fins. While he was basking in this fashion, upon him came swift, voracious jaws agape, a fasting pike that with one bound hurled himself upon him. A fierce battle was joined between them: undying jaw strokes were given and taken; the water ran red with their blood. The pike that had dined could ill defend himself against the pike that was fasting; and the latter having hauled off, returned with a rush and flung himself like a bullet on his adversary, who, awaiting him with wide-open jaws, swallowed his head half way, and would fain have got rid of it again, but could not because of his backward slanting teeth. And both thrashed about miserably.

Thus interlocked together, they saw not a stout hook that, fastened to a silk twine, rose up from the bottom of the water, sank deep in under the fin of the pike that had dined, drew him out of the water with his adversary, and cast them both rudely on the grass together.

Ulenspiegel, as he killed them, said:

“Pikes, my dears, would you two be the Pope and the Emperor devouring each the other, and would [113]not I be the people who in God’s hour seize you on the hook, both of you amid your battles?”



Meanwhile Katheline, who had not left Borgerhout, never ceased from wandering through the outskirts of the place, still saying: “Hanske, my man, they have made a fire upon my head: make a hole in it that my soul may win out. Alas! it beats ever against it and with every blow it is a cruel pang.”

And Nele tended her in her madness, and by her side thought sadly of her friend Ulenspiegel.

And at Damme Claes tied his faggots, sold his charcoal, and many times fell into melancholy, thinking that the banished Ulenspiegel could not for long and long come back to their cottage.

Soetkin stayed all day long at the window, looking if she would not see her son Ulenspiegel coming.

The latter, being arrived in the neighbourhood of Cologne, thought that for the moment he had a fancy for gardening.

He went and offered himself as servant to Jan of Zuursmoel, who being a captain of landsknechts, had narrowly escaped hanging in default of ransom and had an utter horror of hemp, which in the Fleming tongue was then called kennip.

One day, Jan of Zuursmoel, wishing to show Ulenspiegel his tasks, brought him to the end of his garden and there they saw a cantle of land, next to the garden, all planted over with green kennip.

Jan of Zuursmoel said to Ulenspiegel:

“Every time you see this ugly plant, you must entreat [114]it shamefully, for this it is that serveth for rack and gallows.”

“I will shamefully entreat it,” replied Ulenspiegel.

Jan of Zuursmoel being one day at table with certain gourmand friends of his, the cook said to Ulenspiegel:

“Go to the cellar and get some zennip,” which is mustard.

Ulenspiegel, cunningly taking it kennip instead of zennip, foully and shamefully entreated the pot of zennip in the cellar and came back to put it on the table, not without laughing.

“Why are you laughing?” asked Jan of Zuursmoel. “Do you think that our nostrils are made of brass? Eat of this zennip, since it is you that dressed it yourself.”

“I like better things grilled with cinnamon,” answered Ulenspiegel.

Jan of Zuursmoel got up to beat him.

“There is,” said he, “foulness in this pot of mustard.”

Baes,” said Ulenspiegel, “have you no mind of the day when I went at your heels to the far end of your garden? There, you bade me, showing the zennip: ‘Everywhere you see that plant, entreat it foully, for this it is that serveth for rack and gallows.’ I did entreat it so, baes, I did entreat it shamefully with great affronting; do not now go to murder me for my obedience.”

“I said kennip and not zennip,” shouted Jan of Zuursmoel in a fury.

Baes, you said zennip and not kennip,” retorted Ulenspiegel.

Thus they argued loud and long, Ulenspiegel speaking humbly, Jan of Zuursmoel screaming like an eagle [115]and mixing up zennip, kennip, kemp, zemp, zemp, kemp, zemp, like a skein of ravelled silk.

And the guests laughed like devils eating cutlets of Dominican friars and inquisitors’ kidneys.

But Ulenspiegel must needs leave Jan of Zuursmoel.



Nele was still always miserable for the sake of herself and her witless mother.

Ulenspiegel hired himself to a tailor who said to him:

“When you sew, sew close, so that I can see nothing.”

Ulenspiegel went and sat under a cask and there began to sew.

“That is not what I mean,” cried the tailor.

“I am close in a cask; how do you think any one can see in it?” answered Ulenspiegel.

“Come,” said the tailor, “take your seat there on the table and make your stitches close one to the other and make the coat like this wolf—” wolf was the name of a peasant’s jerkin.

Ulenspiegel took the jerkin, cut it in pieces and sewed it so as to give it the semblance and shape of a wolf.

The tailor, seeing this, cried out:

“What have you made, in the devil’s name?”

“A wolf,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“Evil mocker,” said the tailor, “I had told you a wolf, it is true, but you know that wolf is said of a peasant’s jerkin.”

Sometime after he said:

“Boy, cast these sleeves on to this doublet before you go to your bed.” [116]

Ulenspiegel hung up the doublet on a nail and spent the whole night throwing the sleeves at it.

The tailor came down to the noise.

“Good-for-naught,” said he, “what new ill trick are you playing me now?”

“Is that an ill trick?” answered Ulenspiegel. “See those sleeves, I have thrown them all night long against the doublet, and they don’t stick to it yet.”

“That is natural,” said the tailor. “And that is why I am throwing you out into the street: see if you will stick there better than the sleeves did.”



Meanwhile Nele, when Katheline was in the house of some kindly neighbour, and well looked after, Nele used to go far far afield, all alone, as far as Antwerp, all along by the Scheldt or elsewhere, ever seeking, both on the river banks and on the dusty highways, if she could not see her friend Ulenspiegel.

One fair-day, being at Hamburg, he saw merchants everywhere, and among them certain old Jews living on usury and old clothes.

Ulenspiegel, desiring to be a merchant, too, saw lying on the ground some lumps of horse dung and brought them to his lodging, which was a bastion of the rampart wall. There he dried them, and then bought red silk and green silk and made little bags with them, and put the horse dung in the bags and tied them with ribbon, as if they had been full of musk.

Then with some pieces of board he made himself a pedlar’s tray, hung it about his neck by means of old cords and came into the market, carrying in front of [117]him his tray filled with these sachets. In the evening to light them up he had a little candle burning in their midst.

When any came and asked him what he had for sale, he would reply mysteriously:

“I will tell you, but let us not speak too loud.”

“What is it then?” the customers would say.

“These,” Ulenspiegel replied, “are prophetical seeds, fetched straight from Araby into Flanders, and prepared with mighty art by the master Abdul-Médil of the kin of the great Mahomet.”

Certain customers would say one to another:

“He is a Turk.”

But the others:

“This is a pilgrim coming out of Flanders,” they would say; “do you not hear it by his speech?”

And the ragged, lousy, wretched poor folk came to Ulenspiegel and said to him:

“Give us of these prophetical seeds?”

“When you have florins to buy them,” answered Ulenspiegel. And the poor, ragged, lousy, wretched went away sorrowful, saying:

“There is no content in this world but for the rich.”

The tale of these seeds for sale was soon spread abroad in the market. The citizens said one to another:

“There is a Flanders man there that hath prophetical seeds blessed at Jerusalem upon the tomb of Our Lord Jesus, but they say he has no mind to sell them.”

And all the good citizens came to Ulenspiegel and asked him for his seeds.

But Ulenspiegel, who meant to have great profits, answered that they were not as yet ripened sufficiently, [118]and he had an eye upon two rich Jews that went wandering about the market.

“I would fain know,” said one of the citizens, “what will come of my ship that is on the sea.”

“It will go as far as heaven, if the waves are high enough,” said Ulenspiegel.

Another said, showing him his pretty daughter, all full of blushes:

“This one will doubtless turn out well?”

“Everything turns to what nature will have,” replied Ulenspiegel, for he had just seen the girl give a key to a young man who, puffed up with content, said to Ulenspiegel:

“Master merchant, give me one of your prophesying bags, that I may see whether I shall sleep alone to-night.”

“It is written,” replied Ulenspiegel, “that he who soweth the rye of seduction reaps the ergot of cuckoldom.”

The young man became wrathful.

“What are you talking about?” said he.

“The seeds say,” replied Ulenspiegel, “that they wish thee a happy marriage and a wife that will not bring thee Vulcan’s hat. Dost thou know that headgear?

Then declaiming like a preacher:

“For she,” said he, “that giveth earnest upon the marriage bargain leaves afterwards the whole merchandise to others for nothing.”

Hereupon the girl, wishing to pretend assurance:

“Is all that to be seen in the prophesying sachets?”

“There is a key to be seen there also,” said Ulenspiegel low in her ear. [119]

But the young man had gone already with the key.

Suddenly Ulenspiegel perceived a thief sneaking from a pork butcher’s stall a sausage an ell long and putting it under his cloak. But the merchant saw him not. The thief, full of glee, came to Ulenspiegel and said to him:

“What are you selling there, prophet of ill?”

“Sachets wherein you shall see that you will be hanged for loving sausage overly much,” replied Ulenspiegel.

At that word the thief fled swiftly, while the robbed merchant cried out:

“Stop thief! stop thief!”

But he was too late.

While Ulenspiegel was speaking, the two rich Jews, who had listened with the sharpest attention, came up to him and said:

“What sellest thou there, Fleming?”

“Sachets,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“What can one see,” they asked, “by means of thy prophetical seeds?”

“Future events, when one sucks them,” replied Ulenspiegel.

The two Jews consulted one another, and the elder said to the other:

“We could see thus when our Messiah will come; that would be a mighty consolement to us. Let us buy one of these sachets. How much is your price?” said they.

“Fifty florins,” replied Ulenspiegel. “If ye are not willing to pay this for it, ye may as well be off. He that will not buy the field must leave the dung where it is.” [120]

Seeing Ulenspiegel so determined, they counted out his money, took away one of the sachets and hied them to their place of assembly, whither came all the Jews hastily flocking, having learned that one of the two old men had bought a secret device by which he could discover and announce the coming of the Messiah.

Apprised of the matter, they would all fain have sucked at the prophesying sachet without paying; but the elder of the two Jews, who had bought it and whose name was Jehu, claimed to do this himself.

“Son of Israel,” said he, holding the sachet in his hand, “the Christians mock at us, we are driven out from among our fellowmen, and folk cry out after us as they cry out after thieves. The Philistines would fain abase us lower than the earth; they spit in our faces, for God hath cut our bowstrings and shaken the bridle before us. Must it still be long, Lord, God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, that evil cometh to us when we look for good, and the shadows fall when we hope for the light? Wilt thou soon appear upon the earth, divine Messiah? When shall the Christians hide themselves in the caves and the holes of the earth because of the terror they will have of thee and of thy glory magnifical when thou dost rise up to chastise them?”

And the Jews began to clamour.

“Come, Messias! Suck, Jehu!”

Jehu sucked, and spewing out, cried lamentably:

“I tell you verily this is nothing else but dung, and that pilgrim out of Flanders is a robber.”

Then all the Jews, rushing up, tore open the sachet and saw what it contained, and went off in high fury [121]to the fair to find Ulenspiegel there, who forsooth had not awaited their coming.



A man of Damme, not being able to pay Claes for his coal, gave him his most valuable possession, which was an arbalest with twelve quarrels well pointed to serve as missiles.

In hours when work was slack Claes went shooting with the cross bow; more than one hare was killed by his prowess and turned into a fricassee all through harbouring an inordinate love of cabbages.

Then would Claes eat greedily, and Soetkin would say, looking out upon the empty high road:

“Thyl, my son, dost thou not smell the fragrance of the sauces? He is an-hungered without doubt at this hour.” And all pensive, she would fain have kept him his share of the feast.

“If he is hungry,” said Claes, “it is his own fault; let him come back, he shall fare as we do.”

Claes kept pigeons; he liked, besides, to hear singing and chirruping about him, warblers, goldfinches, sparrows, and other birds that sing and chatter. And so he was swift and ready to shoot the buzzards and the royal sparhawks that were devourers of this poor folk.

Now once when he was measuring coal in the yard, Soetkin pointed out to him a great bird hovering high in air above the dove cote.

Claes seized his cross bow and said:

“May the Devil save his Hawkship!”

Having made ready his cross bow, he took his stand in the yard, following every movement of the bird, so as not to miss it. The light in the sky was between [122]day and night, Claes could only discern a black speck. He loosed the quarrel and saw a stork come tumbling down into the yard.

Claes was sorely grieved thereat; but Soetkin was grieved worse, and cried out:

“Cruel, thou hast slain God’s own bird!”

Then she took up the stork, and saw that she was but wounded in a wing, went to fetch a balsam, and said while she was dressing the wound:

“Stork, my dear, ’tis not clever of you that we all love, to hover in the sky like the sparhawk we all hate. And so poor folks’ arrows fly to the wrong address. Art thou hurt in thy poor wing, stork, that dost submit so patiently, knowing that our hands are the loving hands of friends?”

When the stork was healed, she had everything to eat that she wanted; but she liked best the fish Claes went and caught in the canal for her. And every time the bird of God saw him coming, she opened her huge beak.

She followed Claes about like a dog, but stayed in the kitchen for preference, warming her belly by the fire, and knocking with her beak on Soetkin’s front as she got the dinner ready, as much as to ask her:

“Is there nothing for me?”

And it was merry to behold this solemn messenger of good luck wandering about the cottage on her long stilts.



Now the bad days were come again; Claes was working alone and sadly on the land, for there was not work enough for two. Soetkin stayed in the cottage alone, dressing in every possible way the beans that were their [123]daily fare, in order to liven her man’s appetite. And she went singing and laughing so that he should not suffer to see her sad. The stork stayed close beside her, mounted on one leg and beak buried in her feathers.

A man on horseback stopped before the cottage; he was all arrayed in black, very lean, and had an air of profound sadness.

“Is there any one within?” he asked.

“God bless Your Melancholy,” answered Soetkin; “but am I, for one, a phantom that seeing me here you should ask if there is any one within?”

“Where is your father?” asked the horseman.

“If my father’s name be Claes, he is out yonder,” answered Soetkin, “and you see him sowing corn.”

The horseman went away, and Soetkin, too, all downcast, for she must go for the sixth time to fetch bread from the baker’s without paying for it. When she came back thence with empty hands, she was astonished to see Claes coming back to their house, triumphant and lordly, upon the horse of the man in black, who was going afoot beside him and holding the rein. Claes was proudly holding in one hand against his thigh a leathern wallet that seemed well stuffed.

Dismounting, he embraced the man, banged him merrily, then shaking the bag, he cried out:

“Long live my brother Josse, the good hermit! God keep him in joy, in fat, in mirth, in health! He is the Josse of benediction, the Josse of plenty, the Josse of rich fat soups! The stork did not play us false!” And he put the bag down upon the table.

Therewith said Soetkin lamentably:

“My man, we shall not eat to-day: the baker has denied me bread.” [124]

“Bread?” said Claes, opening the bag and pouring out a stream of gold on the table, “bread? Lo, here is bread, butter, meat, wine, beer! Here be hams, marrow bones, pies of herons, ortolans, fat hens, as for great lords! Here is beer in hogsheads and wine by the cask! Mad and mad will be the baker that will deny us bread, we shall buy no more in his shop.”

“But, my man...!” said Soetkin all a-daze.

“Now, then, hearken,” said Claes, “and be light of heart. Katheline, instead of wearing out her term of banishment in the marquisate of Antwerp, went on foot, under Nele’s guidance, as far as Meyborg. There Nele told my brother Josse that often we live in black want, in spite of my sore toil. According to what this good fellow messenger has told me but now”—and Claes pointed to the horseman in black—“Josse hath abandoned the Roman religion to adhere to the heresy of Luther.”

The man in black replied:

“Those be the heretics that follow the cult of the Great Harlot. For the Pope hath betrayed his trust and is a seller of holy things.”

“Ah!” said Soetkin, “speak not so loud, good sir, you will cause us to be burned all three.”

“And so,” said Claes, “Josse said to this good fellow messenger that since he was about to fight among the troops of Frederick of Saxony, and was taking him fifty well-found men at arms, he had no need, going into war, of so much money, to bequeath it in some ill hour to some rogue of a landsknecht. ‘So,’ said he, ‘take it to my brother Claes, with my blessing, these seven hundred gold florins carolus: tell him to live in comfort and think upon his soul’s salvation’.” [125]

“Aye,” said the horseman, “it is time for it, for God will render unto man according to his works, and will entreat each one according as he hath deserved in his life.”

“Good sir,” said Claes, “it will not be forbidden me in the meantime to rejoice at this good tidings; deign to stay within here, we shall, to do it honour, eat goodly tripe, carbonadoes without stint, a neat ham which lately I beheld so plump and appetizing in the pork butcher’s, that it made my teeth come out a foot long out of my jaws.”

“Alas!” said the other, “madmen thus take their joy the while the eyes of God are upon their ways.”

“Come now, messenger,” said Claes, “Will you or will you not eat and drink with us?”

The man replied:

“It will be time for the faithful to give their souls up to earthly joys when great Babylon is fallen!

Soetkin and Claes making the sign of the cross, he would have gone away:

Claes said to him:

“Since it is your pleasure thus to go away without being made much of, give my brother Josse the kiss of peace and watch over him in the battle.”

“I will do so,” said the man.

And he went away, while Soetkin went to bring wherewithal to feast propitious fortune. The stork that day had for supper two gudgeons and a cod’s head.

The news spread swiftly through Damme that Claes the poor had become Claes the rich through the act of his brother Josse, and the dean said that Katheline had doubtless cast a spell on Josse, since Claes had received from him a sum of money, a very [126]great sum, beyond a doubt, and had not given the poorest robe to Our Lady.

Claes and Soetkin were happy, Claes working in the fields or selling his coal, and Soetkin showing herself a brave housekeeper at home.

But Soetkin, always sad, sought unceasingly with her eyes for Ulenspiegel along the highway.



That day the Emperor Charles received from England a letter in which his son said to him:

Sir and Father:

It displeases me to have to live in this land where the accursed heretics breed like fleas and caterpillars and locusts. Fire and sword would not be amiss to lop them from off the trunk of the life-giving tree our mother Holy Church. As if this grief were not enough for me, still it must needs be that they will not look on me as their king, but as their queen’s husband, and having no authority apart from her. They make game of me, saying in malicious pamphlets, whose authors and printers none can discover, that the Pope pays me to trouble and harm the realm with impious hangings and burnings, and when I would raise some urgent levy from them, for oftentimes they leave me without money, out of mere malice, they reply in evil lampoons that I have but to ask money from Satan whose work I do. The men of the Parliament make excuses and hunch up their backs in fear lest I should bite, but they grant nothing.

All the while the walls of London are covered with lampoons representing me as a parricide ready to strike down Your Majesty to have your inheritance.

But you know, my lord and father, that in spite of all my legitimate ambition and pride, I wish Your Majesty a long and glorious reign. [127]

They scatter also throughout the town a drawing all too cleverly engraved on copper, in which I am seen making cats play upon a harpsichord with their paws, shut up inside the instruments, with their tails protruding through round holes into which they are fastened with iron pins. A man, who is myself, is burning their tails with a red-hot iron, and so making them strike on the keys with their paws and yowl desperately. I am depicted as so ugly that I cannot even bear to look at myself in it. And they show me laughing. Now you must know, dear sir and father, if I happened to take this profane pleasure at any time, I doubtless endeavoured to amuse myself by making these cats mew, but I never laughed. They make it a crime in me, in their rebel’s talk, what they call the newfangledness and cruelty of this harpsichord, although the beasts have no souls, and though men and especially all royal personages may use them even unto death for their diversion. But in this land of England they are so well mated with beasts that they treat them better than their servants; stables and kennels here are palaces, and there are lords even that sleep with their horses on the same litter.

Furthermore, my noble wife and queen is barren; they declare by way of brutal insult that I am the reason, and not she who is also jealous, sullen, and gluttonous of love beyond degree. Dear sir and father, every day I implore our Lord God to have me in his grace, hoping for another throne, were it among the Turks, while awaiting that to which I am called by the honour of being the son of your most glorious and greatly victorious Majesty.

(Signed) Philip.

To this letter the Emperor made answer:

Sir and Son:

Your enemies are strong, I do not contest the fact, but endeavour to endure with patience the waiting for a more illustrious crown. I have already announced to divers the intention I have conceived of withdrawing from the Low Countries and my other dominions, for I am well aware that [128]old and gouty as I now become, I cannot well make head against Henry of France, second of the name, for Fortune loveth the young. Think also that as the master of England you wound by your power our enemy France.

I was foully beaten before Metz, and lost forty thousand men there. I was forced to flee before him of Saxony. If God doth not restore me by a touch of his good and divine will unto my full strength and vigour, I am minded, dear sir and son, to quit my realms and leave them to you.

Have therefore patience and meanwhile do your duty fully against the heretics, sparing none of them, men, women, girls, nor babes, for word has come to me, to my great grief, that madame the queen would fain ofttimes have shown them grace.

Your affectionate father,
(Signed) Charles.



Having tramped a long time, Ulenspiegel’s feet were bleeding, and in the bishopric of Mayence he met with a pilgrims’ cart that brought him to Rome.

When he came into the city and got down from his cart, he descried upon the threshold of an inn a pretty goodwife who smiled, seeing him look at her.

Auguring well from this good humour:

“Hostess,” said he, “will you give a sanctuary to a pilgrim on pilgrimage, for I have come to my time and must be brought to bed with the remission of my sins.”

“We grant sanctuary to all that pay us.”

“I have a hundred ducats in my wallet,” said Ulenspiegel, who had but one, “and I would be pleased to spend the first one with you in drinking a bottle of old wine of Rome.”

“Wine is not dear in these holy places,” answered she. “Come in and drink for a soldo.” [129]

They drank together so long and emptied so many flagons with small talk that the hostess was forced to bid her servant give the customers their drink, while she and Ulenspiegel withdrew into a back parlour all of marble and as cold as winter.

Leaning her head on his shoulder she asked him who he was. Ulenspiegel replied:

“I am Sire of Geeland, Count of Gavergeeten, Baron of Tuchtendell, and at Damme, which is my birthplace, I have five and twenty bonniers of moonshine.”

“What land is that?” asked the hostess, drinking out of Ulenspiegel’s tankard.

“It is,” said he, “a soil wherein are sown the seeds of illusion, of wild hopes and airy promises. But thou wast not born in the moonlight land, sweet hostess of the amber skin, and eyes shining like pearls. ’Tis the sun’s colour the embrowned gold of thy hair; it was Venus that without jealousy bestowed on thee thy plump shoulders, thy full breasts, thy round arms, thy dainty hands. Shall we sup together to-night?”

“Handsome pilgrim of Flanders,” said she, “why do you come hither?”

“To talk with the Pope,” said Ulenspiegel.

“Alas!” said she, joining her hands, “talk with the Pope! I that am of this land, I have never been able to do that.”

“I shall do it,” said Ulenspiegel.

“But,” said she, “know you where he goes, what manner of man he is, what are his habits and his ways of living?”

“They told me on my way,” said Ulenspiegel, that [130]he has to name Julius the Third, that he is wanton, gay, and dissolute, a good talker and quick in repartee. They told me, too, that he had conceived an extraordinary friendship for a little beggar fellow, black, dirty, and forbidding, who begged for alms with a monkey, and that on his arriving at the pontifical throne, he made him cardinal of the Mount, and that he is ill whenever a day goes by without seeing him.”

“Drink,” said she, “and do not speak so loud.”

“They told me, too,” said Ulenspiegel, “that he swore like a trooper: Al dispetto di Dio, potta di Dio; one day when at supper he did not find a cold peacock he had had kept for himself, saying, ‘I, the Vicar of God, may very well swear over a peacock since my master lost his temper for an apple!’ You see, my dear, that I know the Pope and what he is.”

“Alas!” said she, “but don’t speak of it to other people. And in any case you will never see him.”

“I shall speak with him,” said Ulenspiegel.

“If you do, I give you a hundred florins.”

“They are mine already,” said Ulenspiegel.

The next day, although he was leg-weary, he went about the town and discovered where the Pope would say mass that day, at St. John Lateran. Ulenspiegel went thither and stationed himself as near and as plain to the Pope as he could compass, and every time the Pope raised the chalice or the host, Ulenspiegel turned his back upon the altar.

Beside the Pope was a cardinal serving, brown of visage, cunning and portly, who, with an ape on his shoulder, gave the people the sacrament with many wanton gestures. He called the Pope’s attention [131]to Ulenspiegel, and as soon as the mass was completed, His Holiness sent four famous soldiers such as are known in these warlike lands, to seize the pilgrim.

“What is your belief?” the Pope asked him.

“Most Holy Father,” replied Ulenspiegel, “I hold the same belief as my hostess.”

The Pope sent for the goodwife.

“What dost thou believe?” he said to her.

“What your Holiness believes,” she answered.

“And I the same,” said Ulenspiegel.

The Pope then asked him why he had turned his back on the Holy Sacrament.

“I felt myself unworthy to look upon it face to face,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“Thou art a pilgrim,” said the Pope.

“Yea,” said he, “and from Flanders I come to beg the remission of my sins.”

The Pope gave him his blessing, and Ulenspiegel departed with the hostess, who told him out one hundred florins. Thus ballasted he left Rome to return thence to the land of Flanders.

But he must needs pay seven ducats for his pardon inscribed on parchment.



In these days there came two Premonstratensian friars to Damme with indulgences for sale. They were attired, over their monkish array, in a fine shirt trimmed with lace.

Posting themselves at the church door when it was fair weather, and under the porch when it was foul and rainy, they put up their tariff, in which they [132]marked down for six liards, for a patard, a half livre of Paris, for seven, for twelve florins carolus, a hundred, two hundred, four hundred years of indulgence, and according to the price, demiplenary or full plenary, and forgiveness for the most heinous crimes, even that of desiring to violate Madame the Virgin. But that one cost seventeen florins.

They delivered to buyers who paid them certain little bits of parchment on which was written the number of years of indulgence. Above was found this inscription:

He that would not be

Stewed, roast, or fried

A thousand years in purgatory

Still in hell burning,

Let him buy indulgence,

Grace and compassion,

For a little silver,

God will repay him.

And there came buyers from ten leagues roundabout. One of the good friars often preached to the people; he had a face well blossomed and carried his three chins and his paunch with no false modesty.

“Miserable man!” he would say, fixing his eyes on one or another of his hearers; “miserable man! lo, there thou art, in hell! The fire burns thee cruelly: they are boiling thee in the cauldron of oil in which they cook Astarte’s olie koekjes; thou art but a black pudding on Lucifer’s frying pan, a leg of mutton on Guilguiroth’s, the great devil, for thou art first cut into joints. Look now on this great sinner, who contemned indulgences; see that dish of fricadelle; [133]’tis he, ’tis he, his impious body, his damned body boiled down to this. And what a sauce! sulphur, pitch, and tar! And all these poor sinners are thus eaten only to be reborn continually to anguish. And it is there that there is verily weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Have pity, God of compassion! Aye, there thou art in hell, poor damned one, suffering all these torments. Should one give a denier for thee, thou feelest all at once an easement in thy right hand; should another half denier be given, there are both thy hands out of the flame. But the rest of the body? A florin, and here falls the healing dew of the indulgence. O coolness delicious! And for ten days, a hundred days, a thousand years, according to what is paid: no more roast, no more olie koekje, nor fricassee! And if it be not for thee, sinner, are there not yonder in the hidden deeps of the fire poor souls thy parents, a beloved wife, some dear girl with whom thou once delightedst to sin?”

And so saying, the monk would give a nudge to the friar who stood beside him, with a silver basin. And the friar, lowering his eyes at this signal, would shake his basin impressively to call the money to it.

“Hast thou not,” the monk would continue, “hast thou not in this dreadful fire a son, a daughter, some darling babe? They cry, they weep, they call on thee. Canst thou remain deaf to those lamentable voices? Thou couldst not; thy heart of ice will melt, but that will cost thee a carolus. And see: at the chime of the carolus upon this common metal ... (the other monk still shook his basin) a void is made within the fire, and the poor soul mounts up to the lip of some volcano. Lo, there it is in the cool air, [134]in the free air! Where are the torments of the fire? The sea is near at hand, it plunges in, it swims on back, on front, above the waves and beneath the waves. Hearken how it crieth out for joy, look how it wallows in the water! The angels look on it and rejoice. They await it, but still it hath not enough, fain would it become a fish. It knoweth not that there on high are delicious baths full of perfumes in which float great lumps of sugar candy white and cold as ice. A shark cometh: the soul dreads him not. It climbs upon his back, but he feels it not; it would fain go with him into the depths of the sea. There it goeth to salute the angels of the waters, that eat waterzoey in coral kettles and fresh oysters on platters of mother of pearl. And how it is welcomed, feasted, made much of; the angels still call it from on high. At length, nobly refreshed, and happy, dost thou see it, how it flies up singing like a lark up to the highest heaven where God sitteth throned in glory? There it findeth all its earthly relatives and friends, save those that having slandered and missaid the indulgences of our Mother Holy Church, burn in the abyss of hell. And so for ever, ever, ever and always, even from age to age, throughout eternity of agony. But the other soul, that is close to God, refreshing itself in the delicious baths and eating the sugar candy. Buy indulgences, my brothers; they are to be had for crusadoes, for gold florins. Buy, buy, buy! this is the holy shop; there is here for the poor and for the rich, but unhappily there can be no credit, my brothers, for to buy and not pay ready money is a crime in the Lord’s eyes.”

The brother who was not preaching went on shaking [135]his dish. Florins, crusadoes, ducats, patards, sols, and deniers fell into it thick as hail.

Claes, seeing himself a rich man, paid a florin for ten thousand years’ indulgence. The monks gave him a piece of parchment in exchange.

Soon, seeing that there was nobody left in Damme who had not bought indulgence except the very scum of poverty, they went away together to Heyst.



Clad in his pilgrim’s garb and duly and well absolved of his sins, Ulenspiegel left Rome, tramping ever straight on before him, and came to Bamberg, where the best vegetables in the world are.

He went into an inn where there was a jolly hostess, who said to him:

“Young master, would you have victual for your money?”

“Aye,” said Ulenspiegel. “But for what sum does one eat here?”

The hostess answered:

“You eat at the nobles’ table for six florins; at the citizens’ table for four florins, at the house table for two.”

“The most money is the best for me,” replied Ulenspiegel.

So he went and sate down at the nobles’ table. When he was well filled and had washed down his dinner with Rhine wine, he said to his hostess:

“Goodwife, I have eaten well for my money. Give me the six florins.”

The hostess said to him: [136]

“Are you making game of me? Pay your score.”

“Dear baesine,” replied Ulenspiegel, “you have not the countenance of a fraudulent debtor; I see in it, on the contrary, so great a good faith, so much loyalty and love of neighbours that you would liefer pay me eighteen florins than refuse me the six you owe me. Those lovely eyes! ’tis the sun blazing on me, making the madness of love spring up higher than couch grass in a deserted garden.”

The hostess answered:

“I have nothing to do with your madness or your couch grass; pay and be off.”

“To be off,” said Ulenspiegel, “and never you see again! Far rather would I die on the spot. Baesine, gentle baesine, I am little used to eat for six florins, I, a poor young man wandering by hill and dale; I am stuffed and full, and presently my tongue will hang out like a dog’s in the sun: be so good as to pay me, I have well and duly earned the six florins by my hard jaw work; give me them and I will caress you, kiss you, embrace you with so great heat of gratitude that twenty-seven lovers could not all together suffice for such a task.”

“You are talking for money,” said she.

“Would you have me eat you for nothing?” said he.

“No,” said she, defending herself from him.

“Ah!” he sighed, pursuing her, “your skin is like cream, your hair like pheasant roasted golden on the spit, your lips like cherries! Is there any woman more dainty than you?”

“It becomes you well, nasty ruffian,” said she, smiling, “to come still demanding six florins from me. Be happy that I have fed you gratis and asked you for nothing.” [137]

“If you only knew,” said Ulenspiegel, “how much space there is still!”

“Go!” said the hostess, “before my husband comes.”

“I will be a lenient creditor,” replied Ulenspiegel; “give me just one florin for future thirst.”

“Here,” said she, “bad boy.”

And she gave it to him.

“Will you kindly go away?” said she.

“To go kindly would be to go to you, my dear, but it is going unkindly to leave your beauteous eyes. If you would deign to keep me with you I should eat no more than but a florin every day.”

“Must I take a yard stick?” said she.

“Take mine,” replied Ulenspiegel.

She laughed, but he must needs be gone.



Lamme Goedzak, in these days, came once more to live in Damme, the country of Liège being far from tranquil on account of heresy. His wife followed him with a good will, because the Liège people, good mockers by nature, made game of her husband’s easy meekness.

Lamme often visited Claes, who since he had his inheritance, haunted the tavern of the Blauwe Torre and had chosen out a table there for himself and his boon companions. At the next table there sat, meanly drinking his pint pot, Josse Grypstuiver, the miserly dean of the fishmongers, a scurvy fellow, niggard, living on red herrings, loving money more than his soul’s salvation. Claes had put in his pouch the piece of parchment on which were marked his ten thousand years of indulgence. [138]

One night when he was at the Blauwe Torre in the company of Lamme Goedzak, Jan van Roosebekke, and Mathys van Assche, Josse Grypstuiver being present, Claes made good play with the pot, and Jan Roosebekke said to him:

“’Tis a sin to drink so much!”

Claes replied:

“You only burn half a day for a quart too much. And I have ten thousand years of indulgence in my pouch. Who would like a hundred so as to be able to drown his belly without fear or favour?”

All cried out:

“What is your price for them?”

“A quart,” replied Claes, “but I will give a hundred and fifty for a muske conyn.”

Certain drinkers paid Claes, one a stoup, one a piece of ham, and he cut off a little strip of parchment for each of them. It was not Claes who ate and drank the price of the indulgence, but Lamme Goedzak, who ate until he was visibly a-swelling while Claes came and went through the tavern retailing his wares.

Grypstuiver, turning his sour face towards him:

“Have you a piece for ten days?” said he.

“No,” said Claes, “it’s too hard to cut.”

And everyone laughed, and Grypstuiver swallowed his rage. Then Claes went off to his cottage, followed by Lamme, walking as if his legs were made of wool.



Towards the end of her third year of banishment Katheline came back to her own house at Damme. And she never ceased to say in witless fashion: “Fire [139]on my head, the soul is knocking, make a hole, it would fain come out.” And she still fled away at the sight of oxen and of sheep. And she sat on the bench under the lime trees, behind her cottage, wagging her head and looking, without knowing them, at the folk of Damme, who said as they passed by in front of her, “There is the madwife.”

At this time, strolling by highways and byways, Ulenspiegel saw on the high road an ass harnessed with leather studded with copper nails, and its head adorned with tufts and tassels of red wool.

Certain old women stood about the ass all talking at the same time and saying: “No one can take possession of it, it is the horrible mount of the great wizard the Baron de Raix, who was burned alive for having sacrificed eight children to the devil——” “Gossips, he ran away so quickly that they could not catch him. Satan is in him to protect him——” “For while being weary, he stayed on his way, the sergeants of the commune came to take him bodily, but he reared and brayed so terribly that they dared not come near him——” “And it was not the braying of an ass but the roaring voice of a demon——” “So they left him to browse on thistles without putting him on his trial or burning him alive as a wizard——” “These folk have no kind of courage——”

In spite of all this fine talk, as soon as the donkey pricked up his ears or lashed his ribs with his tail, the women fled shrieking, to come in again chattering and jabbering, and to do the same thing again at the least movement of the donkey.

But Ulenspiegel, contemplating them and laughing:

“Ah,” said he, “endless curiosity and everlasting [140]babble flow like a river from the mouths of gossips and especially the old ones, for in the young, the flood is less common because of their amorous employments.”

Considering next the ass:

“This wizard beast,” said he, “is nimble and without doubt no sloucher; I can either ride or sell him.”

He went off without a word, to fetch a peck of oats, made the ass eat them, leaped lightly on his back, and tightening up the rein, turned to the north, the east, and the west, and from afar blessed the old women. These, swooning for terror, knelt down, and that day at the evening hour in the village it was told how an angel with a pheasant plumed hat on his head had come, had blessed them all and taken away the wizard’s ass, by special favour of God.

And Ulenspiegel went off bestriding his ass among rich fat meadows where the horses leaped in freedom, where cows and heifers grazed, lying idly in the sun. And he called him Jef.

The ass stopped and dined merrily on thistles. Sometimes he shivered with all his skin the while, and lashed his ribs with his tail to drive off the greedy horse flies that would fain dine like himself, but on his flesh.

Ulenspiegel, whose stomach cried hunger, was melancholy.

“You would be full happy,” said he, “master ass, dining like this on fine fat thistles, if no one came to disturb you in your comfort and remind you that you are mortal, that is to say, born to endure every kind of hardship.” [141]

“Even like thee,” he went on, gripping him with his legs, “even like thyself He of the Holy Slipper hath his gadfly, ’tis Master Luther; and his High Majesty King Charles hath his also, that is Messire François first of the name, the King with the long nose and the still longer sword. It is then permissible for me, a poor little fellow wandering like a Jew, to have my gadfly, too, master donkey. Alas, all my pockets have holes, and through the holes away go gadding all my lovely ducats, florins, and daelders, like a legion of mice scattering to flight before the jaws of a cat. I know not why money will have naught to do with me, me who so greatly desire money. Fortune is no woman, whatever they say, for she loveth but the scurvy miser loons that coffer her up, pouch her up, lock her up under twenty keys, and never allow her to show as much as the tip of her little golden nose at the window. That is the gadfly that devours me and stings me, and tickles me but not to make me laugh. You are not listening to me, master donkey, and you are thinking of nothing but your grazing. Ah! belly worshipper, filling thy belly, thy long ears are deaf to the cry of an empty stomach. Listen to me, I want you to.”

And he lashed him bitterly. The ass began to bray.

“Let us come away now that you have sung your song,” said Ulenspiegel.

But the donkey would not budge any more than a stone post, and seemed to have resolved to eat to the last one every thistle along the way. And there was no lack of them.

Ulenspiegel, perceiving this, he dismounted, cut a bunch of thistles, got up on his donkey again, held the [142]bunch under his muzzle, and led him by the nose as far as the territories of the Landgrave of Hesse.

“Master donkey,” said he, as they went on their way, “you run nimbly behind my bunch of thistles, a thin diet and poor, and leave behind you the fine highway all thick beset with these dainty plants. Even so do men, smelling some after the bouquet of glory that Fortune holds under their noses, others after the nosegay of gain, others the nosegay of love. At the end of the road they perceive like you that they have pursued that which is but little, and have left behind them that which is somewhat, that is to say, health, work, rest, and comfort in their homes.”

So conversing with his ass, Ulenspiegel came before the landgrave’s palace.

Two captains of musketeers were playing dice on the stair.

One of them, red headed and of giant size, caught sight of Ulenspiegel modestly sitting upon Jef and watching their play.

“What do you want with us,” said he, “hungry pilgrim-face?”

“I am exceedingly hungry, in very deed,” said Ulenspiegel, “and am pilgrimaging against my will.”

“If you are hungry,” rejoined the captain, “eat with your neck the rope that swings from the nearest gallows destined for vagabonds.”

“Messire captain,” replied Ulenspiegel, “if you were to give me that fine gold cord you wear on your hat, I should go and hang myself with my teeth to that fat ham that swings yonder at the cook shop.”

“Where do you come from?” asked the captain.

“From Flanders,” replied Ulenspiegel. [143]

“What would you?”

“Show His Highness the Landgrave a painting after my fashion.”

“If you are a painter and out of Flanders,” said the captain, “come within, and I will bring you to my master.”

Being come before the landgrave, Ulenspiegel saluted him three times and more.

“May Your Highness,” said he, “deign to excuse my impertinence in daring to come to lay at your noble feet a painting I made for you, wherein I had the honour to pourtray Madame the Virgin in imperial array.”

“This painting,” he went on, “may perhaps be to your liking, and in that case I vaunt myself sufficiently of my skill to hope to raise myself to that fine chair of crimson velvet wherein, during his life, the ever to be lamented painter of Your Magnanimity had place.”

The landgrave having contemplated the picture, which was a beautiful one:

“Thou shalt be our painter,” said he, “take thy seat in the chair.”

And gaily he kissed him on both cheeks. Ulenspiegel sat down.

“Thou art full ragged,” said the landgrave, scrutinizing him.

Ulenspiegel replied:

“In very truth, Monseigneur, Jef, the which is my ass, dined upon thistles, but I, for three days, I have lived only on want and fed only upon the savour of hope.”

“Thou shalt sup presently on better meat,” replied the landgrave, “but where is thy ass?” [144]

Ulenspiegel answered:

“I left him on the Great Marketplace, over against the palace of Your Goodness; I should be glad indeed if Jef had shelter and litter and fodder for the night.”

The landgrave gave instant command to one of his pages to treat Ulenspiegel’s ass like one of his own.

Soon came the hour of the supper, that was as a revel and a feast. And the meats gave up a noble savour and the wines rained down their throats.

Ulenspiegel and the landgrave being both fire red like live coals, Ulenspiegel became gay, but the landgrave remained pensive.

“Our painter,” said he, suddenly, “thou must paint my portrait, for it is a great satisfaction to a mortal prince to bequeath to his descendants the memory of his countenance.”

“Sire Landgrave,” said Ulenspiegel, “your pleasure is my will, but it seems to my poor self that pourtrayed alone by yourself Your Lordship will have no great joy in ages to come. You must be accompanied by your noble wife, Madame the Landgravine, and your ladies and lords, your most warlike captains and officers, in the midst of whom Monseigneur and Madame will shine like two suns surrounded by lanterns.”

“True indeed, our painter,” replied the landgrave, “and what should I have to pay thee for this great work?”

“One hundred florins, in advance or otherwise,” answered Ulenspiegel.

“Here they are in advance,” said the landgrave.

“Kind and good lord,” replied Ulenspiegel, “you put oil in my lamp, it shall burn in your honour.”

The next day he asked the landgrave to cause to [145]pass before him all those for whom he reserved the honour of figuring in the portraiture.

Came then the Duke of Lunebourg, the commander of the lansquenets in the landgrave’s service. This was a big heavy man, carrying with difficulty his paunch swollen with victuals. He drew near Ulenspiegel and whispered a word in his ear:

“If you do not, in making my portrait, take away half my fat, I shall have you hanged by my troopers.”

The duke passed on.

And then a noble lady, the which had a hump on her back and a bosom as flat as the blade of an executioner’s glaive:

“Messire painter,” said she, “if you do not give me two humps for the one that you shall take away, and do not put them in front, I shall have you quartered as a poisoner.”

The lady passed on.

Then came a young maid of honour, fair, fresh, and pretty, but who lacked three teeth under her upper lip.

“Messire painter,” she said, “if you do not make me laugh and show thirty-two teeth, I shall have you cut to pieces by my lover, who is over there.”

And pointing out the captain of musketeers who had before been playing dice on the palace stairway, she passed on.

The procession continued; Ulenspiegel remained alone with the landgrave.

“If thou hast the ill-luck,” said the landgrave, “to err in one feature the pourtraying all these countenances, I shall have thy head cut off like a chicken’s.”

“Bereft of my head,” thought Ulenspiegel, “quartered, [146]chopped in pieces, or hanged at least, it will be much more comfortable to pourtray nothing at all. I will bethink me for it.”

“Where,” he asked the landgrave, “is the hall that I am to decorate with all these paintings?”

“Follow me,” said the landgrave.

And showing him a great room with spacious walls all bare and empty:

“This,” he said, “is the hall.”

“I should greatly like,” said Ulenspiegel, “that they should set great curtains on these walls, so as to assure my paintings against the insults of flies and against dust.”

“That shall be done,” said the landgrave.

The curtains being put in place, Ulenspiegel asked for three apprentices, as he said, to make them prepare his colours.

For thirty days, Ulenspiegel and the apprentices did nothing but hold feast and revel, sparing neither the choice viands nor the old wines. The landgrave watched over all.

However, on the thirty-first day he came and put in his nose at the door of the room which Ulenspiegel had enjoined on him not to enter.

“Well, Thyl, where are thy portraits?”

“Far away,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“Could not one see them?”

“Not yet.”

The thirty-sixth day, he put his nose in at the door again.

“Well, Thyl?” he asked.

“Ah! sire Landgrave, they are travelling towards the end.” [147]

The sixtieth day, the landgrave became angry, and entering the room:

“Thou art immediately to show me the pictures,” said he.

“Yea, great lord,” replied Ulenspiegel, “but deign not to draw aside this curtain until you have summoned hither the lords and captains and ladies of your court.”

“I consent to this,” said the landgrave.

They all came at his command.

Ulenspiegel stood before the curtain closely drawn.

“Monseigneur Landgrave,” said he, “Madame Landgravine, and you, Monseigneur de Lunebourg, and you other beauteous dames and valiant captains, I have pourtrayed as best I could your pretty or warlike faces behind this curtain. It will be easy to recognize each one of you there. You are curious to see yourselves, it is natural, but pray have patience and permit me to say a word or two to you. Beauteous ladies and valiant captains, who are all of noble blood, you can see and admire my painting; but if among you there is one of low origin, he will see nothing save the blank wall. And now deign to open your noble eyes.”

Ulenspiegel pulled the curtain back.

“Noble men alone see aught, alone they see aught there, the noble ladies, so shall men say ere long: ‘blind in painting as a base fellow, clear seeing as a noble gentleman’!”

All opened their eyes to the widest, pretending to see, mutually pointing themselves out to one another, showing and recognizing each other, but seeing nothing in reality but the white wall, which made them grieved.

All at once the fool who was there bounded three feet into the air and shaking his bells: [148]

“Let me be looked on as base,” said he, “a base fellow full of basest baseness, but I will say and cry and proclaim with trumpets and flourish of trumpets that I see there a bare wall, a blank wall, a naked wall. So help me God and all His saints!”

Ulenspiegel replied:

“When fools begin to talk it is time for wise men to be off.”

He was making to leave the palace when the landgrave staying him:

“Fool full of folly,” said he, “that goest about the world praising things fine and good and mocking at things stupid with wide mouth, thou that hast dared before so many noble dames and most high and mighty lords to make a vulgar mock of pride of blasonry and lordship, thou wilt be hanged one day for thy over-free speech.”

“If the rope be a golden rope,” replied Ulenspiegel, “it will break with terror to see me coming.”

“There,” said the landgrave, giving him fifteen florins, “there is the first piece of it.”

“All thanks, Monseigneur,” answered Ulenspiegel, “every inn by the way shall have a strand of it, a strand all of gold that maketh Crœsuses of all these thieving innkeepers.”

And away he went on his ass, his bonnet high, his plume streaming in the wind, merry and jolly.



The leaves were yellowing on the trees and the autumn wind was beginning to blow. Katheline sometimes had her reason for an hour or two or three. And [149]Claes then said that the spirit of God had visited her in His great compassion. At these moments she had power by passes and by words to cast a spell upon Nele, who saw more than a hundred leagues away all that happened in city places, in the streets, or within the houses.

On this day then, Katheline, being in her wits, was eating olie koekjes well washed down with dobbel-cuyt in company with Claes, Soetkin, and Nele.

Said Claes:

“To-day is the day of the abdication of His Sacred Majesty the Emperor Charles the Fifth. Nele, my dear, could you see as far as Brussels in Brabant?”

“I could, if Katheline is willing,” answered Nele.

Then Katheline made the girl sit upon a bench, and by her words and passes, acting like a spell, Nele sank down all deep in slumber.

Katheline said to her:

“Go into the little house in the Park, which is the favourite abode of the Emperor Charles the Fifth.”

“I am,” said Nele, speaking low and as though she was being stifled, “I am in a little chamber painted green with oil colours. There there is a man bordering upon four and fifty years, bald and gray, with a fair beard on a jutting chin, with an evil look in his gray eyes, full of cunning, of cruelty, and feigned good nature. And this man he is called Sacred Majesty. He is in catarrh and coughs sorely. Beside him is another, young, with an ugly mask like an ape hydrocephalous; that one I saw at Antwerp, it is King Philip. His Sacred Majesty at this moment is reproaching him for having slept abroad last night; doubtless, he saith, to go and find some vile creature in a filthy den in the low [150]quarters of the city. He says his hair stinks of the tavern, which is no pleasure for a king that hath only to choose sweet bodies, skins of satin refreshed in baths of perfumes, and hands of great ladies amorous, which is far better, saith he, than a wild sow, come hardly washed from the arms of a drunken trooper. There is, saith he, never a maiden, wife, or widow who would resist him, among the most noble and beauteous, that illumine their loves with perfumed tapers, not by the greasy glimmer of stinking tallow-dips.

“The king replied that he will obey His Sacred Majesty in all things.

“Then His Sacred Majesty coughs and drinks some mouthfuls of hypocras.

“‘You will presently,’ says he, addressing Philip, ‘see the States General, prelates, nobles, and burgesses: Orange the Silent, Egmont the Vain, de Hornes the Unpopular, Brederode the Lion; and also all those of the Fleece of Gold of whom I make you sovereign. You will see there a hundred wearers of baubles, who would all cut their noses off to have the privilege of hanging them from a gold chain on their breasts, in token of higher nobility.’

“Then, changing his tone and full of sadness, His Sacred Majesty saith to King Philip:

“‘Thou knowest, my son, that I am about to abdicate in thy favour, to give the world a great spectacle and to speak in front of a huge crowd, though hiccupping and coughing—for all my life I have eaten over much, my son—and thy heart must be hard indeed, if having heard me, thou dost not shed a few tears.’

“‘I shall weep, father,’ answers King Philip. [151]

“Then His Sacred Majesty speaks to a valet called Dubois:

“‘Dubois,’ says he, ‘give me a piece of Madeira sugar, I have a hiccup. If only it will not seize me when I shall be speaking to all these people. Will that goose I had yesterday never be done with! Should I drink a tankard of Orleans wine? No, it is too harsh! Should I eat a few anchovies? They are very oily. Dubois, give me some Romagna wine.’

“Dubois gives His Majesty what he asketh, then puts upon him a gown of crimson velvet, wraps him in a gold cloak, girds on his sword, puts into his hands the sceptre and the globe, and the crown upon his head.

“Then His Sacred Majesty leaves the house in the Park, riding on a low mule and followed by King Philip and many high personages. In this fashion they go into a great building that they call a palace, and there they find in a chamber a tall slender man, richly clad, whom they call Orange.

“His Sacred Majesty speaks to this man and says to him: ‘Do I look well, cousin William?’

“But the man makes no answer, not a word.

“His Sacred Majesty then says to him, half laughing, half angry:

“‘You will be dumb always, then, cousin, even to tell the truth to old broken-down things? Ought I to reign still or to abdicate, Silent One?’

“‘Sacred Majesty,’ replied the slender man, ‘when winter cometh the most vigorous oaks let their leaves fall.’

“Three of the clock strikes.

“‘Silent One,’ says he, ‘lend me thy shoulder, that I may lean on it.’ [152]

“And he enters with him and with his retinue into a great hall, takes his seat under a canopy and on a dais covered with silk or crimson carpets. There are three seats on it: His Sacred Majesty takes the middle one, more ornate than the others, and surmounted with an imperial crown; King Philip sits on the second, and the third is for a woman, who is doubtless a queen. To the right and to the left, seated upon tapestried benches and cushioned, are men clad in red and wearing a little gold sheep on their necks. Behind them are placed many persons who are doubtless princes and lords. Over against them and at the foot of the dais are seated, upon benches that have no cushions, men clad in cloth. I hear them say that they are thus modestly seated and clad only because they are themselves paying all their proper charges. All rose up when His Sacred Majesty came in, but he soon sate him down and signed to all to sit down likewise.

“An old man next speaks long about the gout, then the woman, who seemeth to be a queen, hands His Sacred Majesty a roll of parchment in which are written things which His Sacred Majesty reads out, coughing, and in a voice low and indistinct, and speaking of himself says:

“‘I have made many voyages in Spain, in Italy, in the Low Countries, in England and in Africa, all for the glory of God, the lustre of my arms, and the welfare of my peoples.’

“Then having spoken long, he says that he is broken and weary, and fain to deliver the crown of Spain, the counties, duchies, marquisates of these lands into his son’s hands.

“Then he weeps, and all weep with him. [153]

“King Philip now rises, and falling upon his knees:

“‘Sacred Majesty,’ he says, ‘is it for me to accept this crown at your hands when you are so capable of wearing it still!’

“Then His Sacred Majesty whispered in his ear to speak comfortably to the men seated upon the cushioned benches.

“King Philip, turning towards them, says to them in a harsh tone and without rising:

“‘I understand French passing well, but not sufficiently to speak to you in that tongue. Ye will hear what the Bishop of Arras, Master Grandvelle, shall say to you on my behalf.’

“‘Thou sayest ill, my son,’ says His Sacred Majesty.

“And indeed the assembly murmurs, seeing the young king so arrogant and so haughty. The woman, who is the queen, speaks also to make her eulogy, then comes the turn of an aged man of learning who, when he has made an end, receives a sign from the hand of His Sacred Majesty by way of thanks. These ceremonies and harangues being over, His Sacred Majesty declares his subjects released from their oath of fidelity, signs the acts drawn up to that end, and rising up from his throne, sets his son therein. And everyone in the hall weeps. Then they go back to the house in the Park.

“There, being once more in the green chamber, alone and all doors fast shut, His Sacred Majesty laughs loud and long, and speaking to King Philip who laughs not:

“‘Did you see,’ he says, speaking, hiccuping, and laughing all together, ‘how little is needed to move these good souls? What a deluge of tears! And that fat Maes who, when he finished his long discourse, wept [154]like a calf. You yourself seemed touched, but not enough. These are the true spectacles the common folk must have. My son, we men love our mistresses the more the more they cost us. It is the same with peoples. The more we make them pay, the more they love us. In Germany I tolerated the reformed faith that I punished severely in the Low Countries. If the princes of Germany had been catholic, I would have been Lutheran and confiscated their goods. They believe in the reality of my zeal for the Roman faith and regret to see me leave them. There have perished at my hands, in the Low Countries and for heresy, fifty thousand of their most hardy men and prettiest maids. I am departing, they lament. Without counting confiscations, I have made them pay more than the Indies and Peru: they are heartbroken at losing me. I have torn up the peace of Cadzand, broken Ghent, suppressed everything that could come in my way; liberties, franchises, privileges, everything is at the discretion of the prince’s officers: these good souls think they are still free because I allow them to shoot with the cross bow and carry the banners of their guilds in procession. They felt my hand as master: put in a cage, they find themselves comfortable there, they sing in it and weep for me. My son, be to them as I have been: benign in words, harsh in deeds; lick as long as there is no need to bite. Swear, swear always to their liberties, franchises, and privileges, but if there be any peril to yourself, destroy them all. They are iron if one touch them with a faltering hand, glass if you brush them with a strong arm. Smite heresy not because of its divergence from the Roman religion, but because in these Low Countries it would destroy our authority; [155]those that attack the Pope, who weareth a triple crown, have speedily done with princes that have but one. Make it treason, as I did liberty of conscience, entailing the confiscation of goods, and you will inherit them as I did all my life, and when you depart, to abdicate or to die, they will say:—’Oh! the good prince!’ and they will weep.

“And I hear nothing more,” went on Nele, “for His Sacred Majesty has lain down on a bed and is asleep, and King Philip, arrogant and proud, looks upon him with no love.”

Having said so much, Nele was awakened by Katheline. And Claes, pensive, looked at the flame on the hearth lightening up the chimney place.



Ulenspiegel, leaving the landgrave of Hesse, mounted his ass and crossing the town square, met certain wrathful countenances of lords and ladies, but he took no heed of them.

Soon he arrived on the lands of the Duke of Lunebourg, and there fell in with a band of Smaedelyke broeders, jolly Flemings from Sluys who laid aside some money every Saturday so that once a year they could go for a tour in Germany.

They were going on their way singing, in an open cart drawn by a stout horse of Vuerne-Ambacht, that brought them gambolling by the highways and marshy lands of the duchy of Lunebourg. Among them were some that played the fife, the rebeck, the viol, and the bagpipe with a mighty din. Beside the cart there walked at frequent intervals a dikzak playing on the [156]rommel-pot and going afoot in the hope of melting off some of his great belly.

As they were down to their last florin they saw Ulenspiegel come up to them, laden with chiming coin, and went into an inn and paid for his draught. Ulenspiegel gladly accepted. Seeing the while the Smaedelyke broeders were winking as they looked at him and smiling while they poured out his wine for him, he had wind of some trick, went outside, and posted himself at the door to hear their talk. He heard the dikzak saying of him:

“This is the painter of the landgrave who gave him more than a thousand florins for a picture. Let us feast him full with beer and wine, he will pay us back twofold.”

“Amen,” said the others.

Ulenspiegel went to fasten his ass all saddled a thousand paces away at a farmer’s, gave two patards to a girl to take charge of it, came back into the chamber of the inn and sat down at the Smaedelyke broeders’ table, without uttering a word. They poured out wine for him and paid. Ulenspiegel rattled the landgrave’s florins in his satchel, saying that he had just sold his ass to a countryman for seventeen silver daelders.

They travelled on, eating and drinking, playing the fife, the bagpipe, and rommel-pot, and picking up by the way the goodwives they thought comely. In this way they begot foundling children, and beyond all, Ulenspiegel, whose gossip later bore a son which she named Eulenspiegelken, which signifies, in high German, little mirror and owl, and that because she did not understand clearly the meaning of her casual man’s name, and also perhaps in memory of the hour when [157]the child was made. And this is the Eulenspiegelken wrongly said to have been born at Krittingen, in the land of Saxony.

Drawn by their stout horse they went along a highway at the side of which was a village and an inn with the sign In den ketele: “In the Kettle.” Thence issued a goodly savour of fricassee.

The dikzak who played the rommel-pot went to the baes and said to him, speaking of Ulenspiegel:

“That is the landgrave’s painter; he will pay for all.”

The baes, perusing Ulenspiegel’s appearance, which was excellent, and hearing the chink of florins and daelders, set upon the table wherewith to eat and drink; Ulenspiegel did not shrink from it. And ever and always jingled the crowns in his wallet. Many a time, too, he had stuck his hand on his hat saying it covered his chief treasure. The revels having lasted two days and one night, the Smaedelyke broeders said to Ulenspiegel:

“Let us be off from here and pay the bill.”

Ulenspiegel answered:

“When the rat is in the cheese, doth he ask to leave it?”

“Nay,” said they.

“And when a man eats well and drinks well, does he seek out the dust of the roads and the water from springs full of leeches?”

“Nay, indeed,” said they.

“Well, then,” said Ulenspiegel, “let us stay here as long as my florins and daelders serve us as funnels to pour into our throats the drinks that bring us to laughter.” [158]

And he bade the host bring still more wine and more sausage.

While they drank and ate, Ulenspiegel said:

“’Tis I who pay, I am landgrave for the nonce. If my wallet were empty, what would you do, comrades? You might take my soft felt headgear and you might find it full of carolus, in the crown as well as round the brim.”

“Let us feel,” cried they all with one accord. And sighing they felt in it between their fingers large coins of the size and dimensions of gold carolus. But one among them handled it so lovingly that Ulenspiegel took it back, saying:

“Impetuous dairy man, you must learn to await the milking hour.”

“Give me the half of your hat,” said the Smaedelyke broeders.

“Nay,” answered Ulenspiegel, “I don’t want you to have a madman’s brain, one half in the shade and the other in the sun.”

Then giving his headgear over to the baes:

“You,” said he, “do you keep it in any case, for it is hot. For my part, I am going out to ease me.”

He went, and the host took charge of the hat.

Presently he left the inn, went to the peasant’s cottage, got up upon his ass, and went off full speed along the road that leads to Embden.

The Smaedelyke broeders, not seeing him come back, said one to another:

“Has he gone? Who will pay the charges?”

The baes, seized with fear, cut open Ulenspiegel’s hat with a knife. But instead of the carolus, he found nothing in it between the felt and the lining but worthless copper counters. [159]

Raging then against the Smaedelyke broeders he said to them:

“Brothers of roguery, ye shall not stir out of here save leaving behind all your clothes except only your shirts.”

And they had every man to strip off his clothes to pay his shot.

In this fashion they went in their shirts over hill and dale, for they would by no means sell their horse nor their cart.

And all that beheld them in so pitiable a plight, gave them freely bread to eat, beer, and sometimes meat; for everywhere they told the tale how they had been despoiled by robbers.

And among the lot they had but one pair of breeches.

And thus they came back to Sluys in their shirts, dancing in their cart and playing the rommel-pot.



Meanwhile Ulenspiegel bestrode the back of Jef through the lands and the marshes of the Duke of Lunebourg. The Flemings call this duke Water-Signorke because it is always damp in his country.

Jef obeyed Ulenspiegel like a dog, drank bruinbier, danced better than a Hungarian master of arts in posturing, pretended to be dead and lay down on his back at the least signal.

Ulenspiegel knew that the Duke of Lunebourg, annoyed and angry at Ulenspiegel’s making a mock of him at Darmstadt before the landgrave of Hesse, had forbidden him to set foot on his territories on pain of the halter. Suddenly he saw His Ducal Highness in person, [160]and as he knew it was a hasty and violent Highness, he was seized with fright. Speaking to his ass:

“Jef,” said he, “here is Monseigneur of Lunebourg coming. I feel a sore itch of rope on my neck; but may it not be the hangman that will scratch me for it. Jef, I would gladly be scratched, but not hanged. Think that we are brothers in distress and long ears; think, too, what a good friend you would lose if you lost me.”

And Ulenspiegel wiped his eyes, and Jef began to bray.

Continuing his discourse:

“We live together in mirth,” said Ulenspiegel to him, “or in moan, according to circumstances; do you remember, Jef?...” The ass continued to bray, for he was hungry.

“And you will never be able to forget me,” said his master, “for what friendship is strong but that which laughs with the same joy and weeps with the same distress! Jef, you must get down on your back.”

The gentle ass obeyed, and was seen by the duke with all four hoofs in the air. Ulenspiegel quickly took seat on his belly. The duke came to him.

“What dost thou here?” said he, “knowest thou not that in my last edict I forbade thee under pain of the rope to set thy dusty foot on my territory?”

Ulenspiegel replied:

“Gracious lord, have compassion upon me!”

Then showing his ass:

“You know full well,” said he, “that by law and by justice, he is always free that dwelleth between his own four posts.”

The duke answered:

“Be off from out my territories, else thou shalt die.” [161]

“Monseigneur,” replied Ulenspiegel, “I should be off from them so swiftly mounted on a florin or two!”

“Rogue,” said the duke, “wilt thou, not satisfied with thy disobedience, ask money of me to boot?”

“Needs must indeed, Monseigneur, I cannot take it from you....”

The duke gave him a florin.

Then said Ulenspiegel, speaking to his ass:

“Up, Jef, and salute Monseigneur.”

The ass got up and began to bray again. Then both of them took themselves off.



Soetkin and Nele were seated at one of the windows of the cottage and looked into the street.

Soetkin said to Nele:

“Dearest, see you not my boy Ulenspiegel coming?”

“No,” said Nele, “we shall never see him again, the naughty vagabond.”

“Nele,” said Soetkin, “you must not be angry with him but sorry for him, for he is away from his home, poor fellow.”

“I know full well,” said Nele, “he hath another house far from here, richer than his own, where some beauteous dame doubtless gives him lodging.”

“That would be good luck indeed for him,” said Soetkin; “mayhap there he feedeth upon ortolans.”

“Why do they not give him stones to eat: speedily would he be here then, the glutton!” said Nele.

Then Soetkin laughed and said:

“Whence doth it arise then, dearest, all this big anger?” [162]

But Claes, who, all pensive, too, was binding faggots in a corner.

“Do you not see,” said he, “that she is infatuate for him?”

“Lo you,” said Soetkin, “the crafty cunning thing that never murmured word of it! Is it so, dearest, that you long for him?”

“Never believe it,” said Nele.

“You will have there,” said Claes, “a stout husband with a big mouth, a hollow belly, and a long tongue, turning florins into liards and never a half-penny for his work, always loafing about and measuring the highways with the ell wand of vagabondage.”

But Nele replied, all red and cross:

“Why did you not make something different of him?”

“There,” said Soetkin, “now she is weeping; hold your tongue, husband.”



Ulenspiegel upon a day came to Nuremberg and gave himself out for a great physician, the conqueror of sickness, a most illustrious purger, renowned queller of fevers, celebrated scavenger of plagues, and scourge invincible of the itch and mange.

There were in the hospital so many sick that they could not know where to put them. The master hospitaller hearing of Ulenspiegel’s coming, came to see him and inquired if it was true that he could heal all diseases.

“Except the last sickness,” replied Ulenspiegel; “but promise me two hundred florins for the cure of all the others, and I will not accept a liard till all [163]your sick confess themselves cured and leave the hospital.”

On the morrow he came to the said hospital with a confident look and carrying his phiz solemnly and doctorally. Once within the wards, he took each sick man separately and said:

“Swear,” quoth he, “not to confide to any what I am about to tell thee in thine ear. What is thy malady?”

The sick man would tell him, and swear by his almighty God to hold his tongue.

“Know,” said Ulenspiegel, “that I mean to reduce one of you to powder by means of fire, that of this dust or powder I shall concoct a marvellous mixture and give it to all the sick to drink. The one that cannot walk shall be burned. To-morrow I shall come here and standing in the street with the master hospitaller, I shall summon you all crying, ‘Let him that is not sick take up his duds and come!’”

In the morning, Ulenspiegel came and called out as he had said. All the sick, the lame, the rheumy, the coughing, the fever stricken, would fain come out together. All were in the street, even some that for ten years had not left their bed.

The master hospitaller asked them if they were cured and could walk.

“Aye,” replied they, imagining that one of them was burning in the courtyard.

Ulenspiegel then said to the master hospitaller:

“Pay me, since they are all outside, and declare themselves cured.”

The master paid him two hundred florins. And Ulenspiegel departed. [164]

But on the second day the master beheld his sick folk coming back in a worse state than before, save one who, being cured in the open air, was found drunk and singing through the streets: “Noel to the great physician Ulenspiegel!”



The two hundred florins having gone their light ways Ulenspiegel came to Vienne where he hired himself to a wheelwright who continually scolded his workmen because they did not blow the bellows of his forge strongly enough:

“Keep time,” he would be crying always, “follow with the bellows.

One day when the baes went into the garden Ulenspiegel took down the bellows, carried it off on his shoulders, and followed his master. The latter being astonished to see him so strangely burthened, Ulenspiegel said to him:

Baes, you ordered me to follow with the bellows, where am I to put this one while I go and fetch the other.”

“Dear lad,” said the baes, “I did not say that; go and put the bellows back in its place.”

However, he studied how to pay him out for this trick. Thenceforward he rose every day at midnight, awoke his men and made them work.

Then men said to him:

Baes, why do you wake us up in the middle of the night?”

“’Tis a custom of mine,” replied the baes, “not to allow my workmen to stay more than half the night in a bed for the first seven days.” [165]

The following night he awaked his men at midnight again. Ulenspiegel, who slept in the garret, took his bed on his back and thus laden came down into the forge.

The baes said to him:

“Are you mad? Why do you not leave your bed in its place?”

“’Tis a custom I have,” answered Ulenspiegel, “to spend for the first seven days half the night on top of my bed and the other half under it.”

“Well, for me, it is a second custom I have to throw into the street my impudent workmen with leave to pass the first week above the pavement and the second below it.”

“In your cellar, baes, if you please, beside the casks of bruinbier,” replied Ulenspiegel.



Having left the wheelwright and gone back to Flanders, he must hire himself as apprentice to a shoemaker who liked better to stay in the streets than to wield the awl in his workshop. Ulenspiegel, seeing him for the hundredth time ready to go abroad, asked him how he must cut the leather for vamps.

“Cut it,” replied the baes, “for big feet and average feet, so that all that lead big cattle and little cattle may get into them handily.”

“So shall it be, baes,” answered Ulenspiegel.

When the shoemaker had gone out, Ulenspiegel cut out vamps only good to make shoes for fillies, asses, heifers, sows, and ewes. [166]

Coming back to his workshop, the baes, seeing his leather in pieces:

“What have you done there, good-for-nothing botcher?” said he.

“What you bade me,” Ulenspiegel made answer.

“I bade you,” replied the baes, “cut me shoes in which might be put handily everything that leads oxen, swine, and sheep, and you make me shoes for the feet of the beasts.”

Ulenspiegel replied:

Baes, what leads the boar but the sow, the donkey but the ass, the bull but the heifer, the ram but the ewe, in the season when all the beasts are in love?”

Then he went away, and must needs remain outside.



At this time ’twas April, the air had been soft and sweet, then it froze hard and the sky was gray as on All Souls’ Day. The third year of Ulenspiegel’s banishment had long since run out and Nele awaited her friend from day to day. “Alas!” said she, “it will snow on the pear trees, on the flowering jasmine, on all the poor plants unfolded confidingly in the genial warmth of an untimely springtide. Already the little flakes are falling from the sky upon the roadways. And it snoweth, too, upon my poor heart.

“Where are the bright rays playing on bright faces, on the roofs they made still redder than their wont, on the window panes they caused to flame? Where are they, warming earth and sky, bird and insect? Alas! now night and day I am chilled to the bone with [167]sadness and my long waiting. Where art thou, Ulenspiegel, my dear?”



Ulenspiegel, drawing near Renaix in Flanders, was hungry and thirsty, but he would by no means complain, and endeavoured to make folk laugh so they might give him bread. But he laughed not over well, and they passed him by and gave him nothing.

It was cold: turn and turn about it snowed, rained, and hailed on the back of the wanderer. If he passed through the villages, the water came in his mouth only to see a dog gnawing a bone in the angle of a wall. Fain and fain would he have earned a florin, but had no idea how the florin could fall into his pouch.

Looking up, he saw the pigeons that from the roof of the dove cote dropped white pieces on the highway, but they were not florins. He searched on the ground along the causeways, but florins do not bloom among the paving stones.

Looking to the right hand he saw a rascal cloud that moved onward into the sky, like a great watering pot, but he knew that if aught were to fall from this cloud it would not be a plump of florins. Looking to the left hand he saw a great idle horse-chestnut tree, living and doing nothing: “Ah!” he said to himself, “why are there no florin trees? They would be splendid trees, indeed!”

Suddenly the big cloud burst asunder, and the hailstones fell thick like pebbles on Ulenspiegel’s back. “Alas,” said he, “I feel it sure enough, stones are never thrown but at wandering dogs.” Then starting to [168]run: “It is not my fault,” said he to himself, “if I have not a palace nor even a tent to shelter my poor thin body. Ah! the cruel hailstones: they are hard as cannon shot. No, it is not my fault if I trail my wretched tatters about the world, it is only that such was my good pleasure. Why am I not emperor? These hailstones would fain force themselves into my ears like ill words.” And he was still running:—“Poor nose,” he added, “you will soon be pierced through and through like fretwork, and mayst serve as a pepperpot at the feasts of the great folk of this world on whom it never hails.” Then wiping his cheeks:—“These,” said he, “would do well for ladles for cooks that are too hot at their ovens. Ah! far-off memory of the sauces of long ago. I am hungry. Empty belly, complain not; sad entrails, grumble no more. Where dost thou hide, propitious fortune? take me to the place where the pasture is.”

While he talked thus with himself, the sky cleared and grew bright with a strong sun, the hail ceased, and Ulenspiegel said: “Good morrow, sun, my one friend, that comest to dry me!”

But he still kept on running, being cold. Suddenly from afar he saw coming along the road a black-and-white dog running straight before him, tongue hanging out and the eyes bolting from his head.

“This brute,” said Ulenspiegel, “has the madness in his belly!” He hastily picked up a big stone and climbed upon a tree; as he reached the first bough, the dog passed and Ulenspiegel launched the stone upon his skull. The dog stopped, and wretchedly and stiffly tried to get up the tree and bite Ulenspiegel, but he could not, and fell back to die. [169]

Ulenspiegel was nowise glad at this, and still less when, coming down from the tree, he perceived that the dog’s mouth was not dry and parched as is usual when these animals are smitten with the hydrophobia. Then studying his skin, he saw it was fine and good to sell, stripped him of it, washed it, hung it on his staff, let it dry a little in the sun, and then put it away in his satchel.

Hunger and thirst tormented him more and more, and he went into many farmhouses, not daring to offer his skin for sale, for fear that it might have belonged to one of the farmers’ dogs. He asked for bread, and was refused it. Night came on. His limbs were weary, he went into a little inn. There he beheld an ancient baesine caressing a wheezy old dog whose skin was like a dead man’s.

“Whence comest thou, traveller?” asked the aged baesine.

Ulenspiegel made answer:

“I come from Rome, where I healed the Pope’s dog of a sorry rheum that grieved him sore.”

“Then thou hast seen the Pope?” said she to him, drawing him a glass of beer.

“Alas!” said Ulenspiegel, emptying the glass, “I have but been permitted to kiss his holy foot and his holy slipper.”

All this while the baesine’s old dog was coughing, but without spitting.

“When didst thou do this?” asked the old woman.

“The month before the last,” answered Ulenspiegel, “I arrived, being looked for, and knocked at the door. ‘Who is there?’ asked the chamberlain arch-cardinal, arch-privy, arch-extraordinary to His Most [170]Holy Holiness.’ ‘’Tis I,’ I answered, ‘Monseigneur Cardinal, come from Flanders expressly to kiss the Pope’s foot and heal his dog of his rheum.’ ‘Ah! ’tis thou, Ulenspiegel?’ said the Pope, speaking from the other side of a little door. ‘I would rejoice to see thee, but that is a thing for the moment impossible. I am forbidden by the Holy Decretals to display my face to strangers when the holy razor is being passed over it.’ ‘Alas!’ said I, ‘I am an unfortunate man, I that am come from a land so far to kiss Your Holiness his foot and cure his dog of the rheum. Must I indeed return without being satisfied? ‘Nay,’ said the Holy Father; and then I heard him call. ‘Arch-chamberlain, roll my chair as far as the door, and open the little wicket at the foot of the door.’ The which was done. And I beheld thrust through the wicket a foot shod with a golden slipper, and I heard a voice, speaking like a peal of thunder, saying: ‘This is the redoubtable foot of the Prince of Princes, King of Kings, Emperor of Emperors. Kiss it, Christian man, kiss the holy slipper.’ And I kissed the holy slipper, and my nose was sweetly filled with the celestial perfume that was exhaled from that foot. Then the wicket was shut again, and the same formidable voice bade me to wait. The wicket opened once more, and from it there issued, with all due respect, an animal bereft of its hair, blear-eyed, coughing, swollen like a wine skin and forced to walk with its legs straddling by reason of the hugeness of its belly.

“The Holy Father deigned to address me again: ‘Ulenspiegel,’ said he, ‘thou dost look upon my dog; he was seized with a rheum and other maladies through gnawing the bones of heretics that had been broken [171]for them. Cure him, my son; thou wilt have much good thereby.’”

“Drink,” said the old woman.

“Pour out,” answered Ulenspiegel. Continuing his tale: “I purged the dog,” said he, “by the aid of a wonder-working draught concocted by myself. He made water through this for three days and three nights without ceasing, and was cured.”

Jesus God en Maria!” said the old woman; “let me kiss thee, glorious pilgrim, who hast seen the Pope and mayst also cure my dog.”

But Ulenspiegel, recking little of the old woman’s kisses, said to her: “Those who have touched with their lips the holy slipper may not within a space of two years receive the kisses of any woman. First give me for supper some goodly carbonadoes, a black pudding or so, and a sufficiency of beer, and I shall make your dog’s voice so clear that he will be able to chant the aves in e la in the rood-loft of the great church.”

“May it be true what thou sayest,” whined the old woman, “and I shall give thee a florin.”

“I shall accomplish it,” said Ulenspiegel, “but only after supper.”

She served him all he had asked for. He ate and drank his fill, and he would even have embraced the old woman for gratitude of his jaw, had it not been for what he had said to her.

While he was eating, the old dog put his paws on his knee to have a bone. Ulenspiegel gave him several; then he said to his hostess:

“If a man had eaten in your inn and not paid, what would you do?” [172]

“I would have his best garment off that robber,” answered the old woman.

“’Tis well,” replied Ulenspiegel; then he took the dog under his arm and went into the stable. There he shut him up along with a bone, took the dead dog’s skin out of his satchel, and coming back to the old woman, he asked her if she had said she would have his best garment off the man who would refuse to pay for his meal.

“Well, then, your dog dined with me and did not pay: so I have, following your own rede, taken his best and his only coat.”

And he showed her the skin of the dead dog.

“Ah!” said the old woman, weeping, “it is cruel of thee, master doctor. Poor old dog! he was my child to me, a poor widow. Why didst thou take from me the only friend I had in the world? I have no more now to do but to die.”

“I will bring him to life again,” said Ulenspiegel.

“Bring him to life!” said she. “And he will fawn on me again, and he will look at me again, and he will lick me again, and he will wag his poor old stump of a tail again when he looks at me! Do this, master doctor, and thou shalt have dined here gratis, a most costly dinner, and I shall give thee a florin still over and above the bargain.”

“I will bring him to life again,” said Ulenspiegel; “but I must have hot water, syrup to glue the seams together, a needle and thread and sauce from the carbonadoes; and I would be alone during the operation.”

The old woman gave him what he asked for; he took up the skin of the dead dog and went off to the stable. [173]

There he smeared the old dog’s muzzle with sauce, and the brute submitted to it with delight; he drew a great stripe of syrup under his belly, put syrup on his paws and sauce on his tail.

Then crying out loudly three times, he said: “Staet op! staet op! ik bevel ’t, vuilen hond!

And then lightly putting the dead dog’s skin in his satchel he fetched the living dog a great kick and so pitched him into the inn chamber.

The old woman, seeing her dog alive and licking himself, was eager to embrace him; but Ulenspiegel did not permit this.

“You may not,” said he, “caress this dog until he has washed off with his tongue all the syrup with which he is anointed; only then will the seams in the skin be closed up. Count out to me now my ten florins.”

“I said one,” answered the old woman.

“One for the operation, nine for the resurrection,” replied Ulenspiegel.

She counted them out to him. Ulenspiegel went off, flinging into the inn chamber the skin of the dead dog and saying:

“There, woman, keep his old skin: it will serve you to patch up the new one when it will have holes in it.”



On that Sunday at Bruges was held the procession of the Blessed Blood. Claes said to his wife and to Nele to go to see it and that mayhap they might find Ulenspiegel in the town. As for himself, said he, he would keep the cottage if the pilgrim should perchance return thither. [174]

The two women went off together; Claes, remaining at Damme, sate on the doorstep and found the town very empty and deserted. He heard nothing except the crystalline chime of some village bell, while from Bruges there came to him by fits and starts the music of the carillons and a great din of falconets and fireworks let off in honour of the Blessed Blood.

Claes, looking pensively for Ulenspiegel along the roads, saw nothing, only the sky pure and blue and cloudless, a few dogs lying tongue out in the sun, bold sparrows bathing and twittering in the dust, a cat spying after them, and the sunlight entering every house like a friend and making the brass kettles and pewter tankards on every dresser glisten and shine.

But Claes was downcast amid all this glee, and looking for his son he sought to see him behind the gray mist along the meadows, to hear him in the glad rustling of the leaves and the gay concert of the birds in the trees. Suddenly he saw on the road from Maldeghem a man of great stature, and knew it was not Ulenspiegel. He saw him pause at the edge of a field of carrots and eat eagerly.

“There’s a man mightily an-hungered,” said Claes.

Having lost sight of him for a moment, he saw him reappear at the corner of the street of the Heron, and he recognized the messenger from Josse who had brought him the seven hundred gold carolus. He went to him in the highway and said:

“Come to my house.”

The man replied:

“Blessed are they that are kind to the wandering travelling man.” [175]

On the outer sill of the cottage window there was crumbled bread that Soetkin kept for the birds of the neighbourhood. Here they came in the winter to find their food. The man caught up these crumbs and ate them.

“You are hungry and thirsty,” said Claes.

The man replied:

“Since I was stripped by robbers a week past, I have lived only on carrots from the fields and roots in the woods.”

“It is then,” said Claes, “time to indulge in feasting. And here,” said he, opening the cupboard, “here is a full bowlful of peas, eggs, black puddings, hams, sausage of Ghent, waterzoey: hotchpotch of fish. Below, in the cellar, sleeps Louvain wine, made in the manner of the wines of Burgundy, red and clear as a ruby; it asks but the awakening of glasses. Come, now, let us put a faggot on the fire. Do you hear the black puddings sizzling on the grid? ’Tis the song of good feeding.”

Claes, turning them over, said to the man:

“Have you not seen my boy Ulenspiegel?”

“Nay,” he answered.

“Do you bring me any tidings of my brother Josse?” said Claes, putting upon the table grilled puddings, an omelette of fat ham, cheese, and great tankards, and red clear wine of Louvain sparkling in the flasks.

The man replied:

“Thy brother Josse died upon the rack at Sippenaken, near Aix. And that was for having borne arms, being a heretic, against the Emperor.”

Claes was as one beside himself, and said, trembling in every limb, for his wrath was extreme: [176]

“Evil murderers! Josse! my poor brother!”

The man said then in no gentle tone:

“Our joys and our woes are not of this world.”

And he began to eat. Then he said:

“I gave thy brother help in his prison, passing myself off for a countryman from Nieswiller, a relation of his. I have come hither because he said to me: ‘If thou dost not die for the faith as I do, go to my brother Claes; enjoin upon him to live in the Lord’s peace, doing the works of mercy, rearing his son in secret in the law of Christ. The money I gave him was taken from the poor and ignorant people; let him use it to bring Thyl up in the knowledge of God and the word.

Having said this, the messenger gave Claes the kiss of peace.

And Claes, lamenting:

“Died on the rack,” said he, “my poor brother!”

And he could not recover himself out of his great sorrow. All the same, as he saw that the man was thirsty and held out his glass, he poured wine for him, but he ate and drank joylessly.

Soetkin and Nele were away during seven days; during this time the messenger from Josse lived under Claes’s roof.

Every night they heard Katheline crying terribly in the cottage:

“The fire, the fire! Make a hole: the soul would fain escape!”

And Claes would go to her, and calm her with soothing speech, then come back into his own house.

At the end of seven days the man departed and [177]would accept no more from Claes but two carolus to feed and shelter him upon his way.



Nele and Soetkin being come back from Bruges, Claes, in his kitchen, seated on the floor after the fashion of tailors, was putting buttons on an old pair of breeches. Nele was close by him tarring on against the stork Titus Bibulus Schnouffius who, dashing at the bird and retreating by turns, was yelping in the shrillest voice. The stork standing on one foot, looking at him gravely and pensively, withdrew her long neck into the feathers on her breast. Titus Bibulus Schnouffius, seeing her so pacific, yelped more and more terribly. But all of a sudden the bird, tired and sick of this music, lashed out her bill like an arrow on the back of the dog, who fled yelling:

“Help, help!”

Claes laughed, Nele, too, and Soetkin never ceased looking into the street, seeking if she could not see Ulenspiegel coming.

Suddenly she said:

“Here is the provost and four constables. It cannot surely be us they want. There are two of them turning behind the cottage.”

Claes lifted his nose from his task.

“And two that are stopping in front,” went on Soetkin.

Claes got up.

“Who are they going to arrest in this street?” said she. “Jesus God! my husband, they are coming in here.” [178]

Claes leaped from the kitchen into the garden, followed by Nele.

He said to her:

“Save the carolus, they are behind the chimney-back.”

Nele understood, then seeing that he was making through the hedge, that the constables seized him by the collar, that he was fighting to get loose from them, she cried and wept:

“He is innocent! he is innocent! do not hurt Claes, my father! Ulenspiegel, where art thou? Thou wouldst kill both of them!”

And she threw herself upon one of the constables and tore his face with her nails. Then crying out “They will kill him!” she fell down on the sward of the garden and rolled about on it, distraught.

Katheline had come at the noise, and standing straight and motionless, was contemplating the sight, saying as she shook her head from side to side: “The fire! the fire! Make a hole! the soul would fain escape!”

Soetkin saw nothing, and speaking to the constables that had come into the cottage:

“Sirs, whom seek ye in our poor dwelling? If it is my son, he is far away. Are your legs long ones?”

Saying so, she was full of mirth.

At this moment Nele, crying out for help, Soetkin ran into the garden, saw her husband seized by the collar and struggling on the highway close to the hedge.

“Strike!” she said. “Kill! Where art thou, Ulenspiegel?”

And she would have gone to help her husband, but one of the constables seized her round the body, not without peril.

Claes struggled and struck so hard that he might well [179]have escaped, if the two constables to whom Soetkin had spoken had not come to the help of the two that were holding him.

They brought him with both his hands tied into the kitchen where Soetkin and Nele were weeping and sobbing.

“Messire provost,” said Soetkin, “what hath my poor man done then, that you should bind him thus with ropes?”

“Heretic,” said one of the constables.

“Heretic?” returned Soetkin, “thou a heretic, thou? These devils have lied.”

Claes answered:

“I place myself in God’s keeping.”

He went out; Nele and Soetkin followed him weeping and believing that they also were to be brought before the judge. Men and women came to them; when they knew that Claes was going thus bound because he was suspect of heresy, they were so sore afraid that they went back into their homes in haste, and shut all the doors behind them. Only a few girls dared go to Claes and say to him:

“Whither goest thou thus bound, coal man?”

“To the grace of God, my girls,” he replied.

They brought him to the prison of the commune; Soetkin and Nele sat down upon the threshold. Towards evening, Soetkin bade Nele leave her and go to see if Ulenspiegel was not coming back.



Soon the news ran abroad through the villages round about that a man had been cast into prison for heresy [180]and that the inquisitor Titelman, the dean of Renaix, nicknamed the Inquisitor Pitiless, would conduct the interrogatories. Ulenspiegel was then living at Koolkerke, in the most private favours of a pretty farmer, an amiable widow that denied him nothing that was hers. There he was very well off, spoiled and caressed until the day when a treacherous rival, the sheriff of the commune, lay in wait for him one morning as he came out of the tavern and would fain have rubbed him down with an oaken towel. But Ulenspiegel, to cool his anger, cast him in a pond whence the sheriff crept out as best he could, green as a toad and steeped full as a sponge.

Ulenspiegel for this high feat, must leave Koolkerke and set off with all speed towards Damme, fearing the sheriff’s vengeance.

The evening was falling cool, Ulenspiegel ran swiftly; fain would he have been at home already, in his mind’s eye he saw Nele sewing, Soetkin preparing supper, Claes binding faggots, Schnouffius gnawing on a bone and the stork knocking with her bill on the housewife’s front to have some scraps of food.

A pedlar afoot said to him as he passed:

“Whither away in such hurry?”

“To Damme, to my own home,” replied Ulenspiegel.

The pedlar answered:

“The town is not safe now by reason of the folk of the reformed faith that are being arrested there.”

And he went on his way.

Arrived before the inn of the Roode-Schildt, Ulenspiegel went in to drink a glass of dobbel-cuyt. The baes said to him:

“Are not you the son of Claes?” [181]

“I am,” answered Ulenspiegel.

“Make haste, then,” said the baes, “for the ill hour has struck for your father.”

Ulenspiegel asked what he meant.

The baes replied that he would know all too soon.

And Ulenspiegel continued to run.

As he was at the entrance to Damme, the dogs that were on the doorsteps jumped out at his legs yelping and barking. The goodwives came out at the noise and said to him, all talking at once:

“Whence come you?” “Have you news of your father?” “Where is your mother?” “Is she with him in prison, too?” “Alas! if only they do not burn him!”

Ulenspiegel ran the harder.

He met Nele, who said to him:

“Thyl, do not go to your house: the town governors have put a guard in it on behalf of His Majesty.”

Ulenspiegel stopped.

“Nele,” said he, “is it true that my father Claes is in prison?”

“Yea,” said Nele, “and Soetkin weeps on the threshold.”

Then the heart of the prodigal son was swollen with anguish and he said to Nele:

“I am going to see them.”

“That is not what you should do,” said she, “but you should obey Claes instead, who said to me before he was taken: ‘save the carolus, they are behind the chimney-back.’ They are what you must save first and foremost, for it is the inheritance of Soetkin, the poor woman.”

Ulenspiegel, listening no whit, ran to the gaol. [182]There he saw Soetkin seated on the threshold; she embraced him with tears, and they wept together.

The people assembling, because of these two, in a crowd in front of the gaol, the constables came and told Ulenspiegel and Soetkin that they were to be off out of that and at the speediest possible.

Mother and son went away to Nele’s cottage, next door to their own home, before which they saw one of the lansquenet troopers summoned from Bruges through fear of the troubles that might arise during the trial and during the execution. For the folk of Damme loved Claes greatly.

The trooper was sitting on the pavement, before the door, busy sucking the last drop of brandy out of a flask. Finding nothing more in it, he flung it some paces away, and drawing his dagger, he amused himself in digging up the paving stones.

Soetkin, all tears, entered Katheline’s house.

And Katheline shaking her head: “The fire! Make a hole, the soul would fain escape,” said she.



The bell that is called Borgstorm—the storm of the burg—having summoned the judges to the tribunal, they met in the Vierschare, at the stroke of four, about the linden tree of judgment.

Claes was brought before them and saw seated beneath the canopy the bailiff of Damme, and beside him and opposite him the mayor, the aldermen, and the clerk.

The people flocked up at the sound of the bell in great multitude. Many said: [183]

“The judges are not there to do the works of justice, but of imperial serfdom.”

The clerk announced that the tribunal having first met in the Vierschare, around the linden tree, had decided that, considering the denunciations and testimonies before it, there had been good ground for seizing the body of Claes, coal vendor, native of Damme, husband of Soetkin, the daughter of Joostens. They would now, he added, proceed to the hearing of the witnesses.

Hans Barbier, a neighbour of Claes, was the first heard. Having taken the oath, he said: “Upon my soul’s salvation, I affirm and asseverate that Claes, present before this court, has been known to me for almost seventeen years, that he has always lived honestly and decently, and according to the laws and rules of our holy mother the Church, has never spoken opprobriously of her, nor to my knowledge harboured any heretic, nor hidden Luther’s book, nor spoken of the said book, nor done anything that could bring him into suspicion of having transgressed the laws and regulations of the empire. So help me God and all His saints.”

Jan Van Roosebekke was next heard, and said “that during the absence of Soetkin, Claes’s wife, he had often thought he heard in the accused man’s house the voices of two men, and that often at night, after the curfew, he had seen in a small chamber beneath the roof a light, and two men, one of them was Claes, conversing together. As for saying whether the other man was heretic or no, he could not, having only seen him at a distance. As for what concerns Claes,” he added, “I will say, speaking in all truth, that since I have [184]known him, he always kept his Easter regularly, communicated on the principal feast days, went to mass every Sunday, except that of the Blessed Blood and those following. And I know nothing further but this. So help me God and all His saints.”

Questioned if he had not seen Claes in the tavern of the Blauwe Torre selling indulgences and mocking at purgatory, Jan Van Roosebekke replied that in fact Claes had sold indulgences, but without contempt or mockery, and that he, Jan Van Roosebekke, had bought even as also was fain to do Josse Grypstuiver, the dean of the fishmongers, who was there present among the crowd.

Thereafter the bailiff said he would proclaim the actions and conduct for the which Claes was brought before the court of the Vierschare.

“The informer,” said he, “having, as it happened, remained at Damme, so as not to go to Bruges to spend his money in riot and revelry, as is too often done at these holy times, was soberly taking the air on his own doorstep. Being there he saw a man walking in the street of the Heron. Claes, perceiving this man, went to him and saluted him. The man was arrayed in black cloth. He went into Claes’s house, and the door of the cottage was left ajar. Curious to know what this man might be, the informer went into the porch, heard Claes speaking in the kitchen with the stranger, of a certain Josse, his brother, who having been taken prisoner among the reformed troops, had been for this put to death on the rack not far from Aix. The stranger said to Claes that the money he had received from his brother being money gained through the ignorance of poor folk, he was to employ it in bringing up [185]his son in the reformed religion. He had enjoined Claes also to leave the bosom of our Mother Holy Church, and uttered other impious words to which Claes made answer only with these words: ‘Cruel murderers! my poor brother!’ And the accused thus blasphemed against our Holy Father the Pope and his Royal Majesty, accusing them of cruelty because they most justly punished heresy as a crime, being treason divine and human. When the man had made an end of eating, the informer heard Claes cry aloud: ‘Poor Josse, may God have thee in His glory, they were cruel to thee!’ Thus he even accused God of impiety, deeming that He may receive heretics into His heaven. And Claes ceased not to say ‘My poor brother!’ The stranger, then entering into frenzy like a preacher in his preaching, cried: ‘She shall fall, great Babylon the Romish whore, and she shall become the habitation of demons and the haunt of every obscene bird!’ Claes said: ‘Cruel murderers! My poor brother!’ The stranger, continuing his discourse, said: ‘For the angel will take up that stone which is as great as a millstone. And it shall be cast into the sea, and he will say: ‘Thus great Babylon shall be cast out, and she shall no more be found.’ ‘Messire,’ said Claes, ‘your mouth is filled with anger, but tell me when shall come the reign when they that are meek and lowly of heart shall be able to live in peace upon the earth?’ ‘Never,’ replied the stranger, ‘so long as Antichrist, which is the Pope and the enemy of truth, reigneth.’ ‘Ah,’ said Claes, ‘you speak of our Holy Father without respect. Assuredly he knoweth naught of the cruel torments with which the poor reformers are punished.’ The stranger made answer: ‘He is not ignorant of [186]these, for it is he that issueth the edicts, hath them enforced by the Emperor, now by the king, who hath the profit of confiscations, inherits from the dead, and readily brings suit for heresy against the rich.’ Claes replied: ‘These things are told in the country of Flanders, I must needs believe them; man’s flesh is weak, even when it is royal flesh. My poor Josse!’ And Claes by this signified that it was through base desire of lucre that His Majesty punished heresiarchs. The stranger, wishing to harangue further, Claes replied: ‘Be so good, messire, as to hold no more such discourses with me, for if they were overheard, they would stir up some grievous suit against me.’

“Claes arose to go to the cellar and came up thence with a jug of beer. ‘I will shut the door,’ said he then, and the informer heard no more, for he must needs lightly leave the house. The door that had been shut was nevertheless opened again at nightfall. The stranger came out, but went back speedily and knocked at it saying: ‘Claes, I am cold, I have nowhere to lodge: give me shelter, no one has seen me come in, the town is deserted and empty.’ Claes received him in his house, lighted a lantern, and was seen preceding the heretic, mounting the stairs and bringing the stranger underneath the roof to a little chamber whose window looked towards the country....”

“Who, then,” cried Claes, “who can have recounted all if not thou, vile fishmonger, whom I saw on that Sunday upon thy threshold, stiff as a post, hypocritically watching the swallows flying through the air?”

And with his finger he pointed to Josse Grypstuiver, the dean of the fishmongers, who showed his ugly face amid the crowd of the people. [187]

The fishmonger smiled cruelly, seeing Claes betray himself in this fashion. All the people, men, women, and girls, said one to the other:

“The poor fellow, his words will past doubt cause his death.”

But the clerk continued his announcement:

“The heretic and Claes,” said he, “conversed together for long that night, and also during other nights, during which the stranger could be seen making many gestures of threatening or blessing, and lifting his arms to heaven as the manner is of his fellows in heresy. Claes seemed to approve of his words.

“Certes, during these days, evenings and nights, they talked opprobriously of the mass, of confession, of indulgences, and of His Royal Majesty....”

“No man hath heard it,” said Claes, “and I cannot be accused thus without proofs!”

The clerk continued:

“Another thing was heard. When the stranger came out from thy house, on the seventh day at the tenth hour, the night being fallen already, thou didst walk in the way with him as far as close to the boundary of the field of Katheline. There he asked what thou hadst done with the wicked idols”—and at that the bailiff crossed himself—“of Madame Virgin, Master Saint Nicholas, and Master Saint Martin. Thou didst answer that thou hadst broken them to pieces and cast them into the well. And they were in fact found in thy well last night, and the fragments are in the torture-chamber.”

At this word Claes appeared overwhelmed. The bailiff asked him if he had nothing to say in answer: Claes made a sign with his head to say no. [188]

The bailiff asked him if he did not wish to retract the evil thought that had made him break up the images and the impious error that by reason whereof he had uttered words opprobrious to His Divine Majesty and His Royal Majesty.

Claes answered that his body was His Royal Majesty’s but that his conscience was Christ’s, whose law he meant to follow. The bailiff asked him if this law was that of our Mother Holy Church. Claes made answer:

“It is contained in the holy Gospel.”

Called upon to answer the question whether the Pope is the representative of God upon earth:

“No,” said he.

Asked if he believed it was forbidden to worship the images of Madame the Virgin and Messieurs the Saints, he replied that it was idolatry. Questioned on the point as to whether auricular confession be a good and salutary thing, he replied:

“Christ said: ‘Confess yourselves one to another’.”

He was valiant and stout in his answers, though he seemed sorely troubled and affrighted at the bottom of his heart.

Eight o’clock having struck, and the night falling, the members of the court withdrew, deferring till the morrow their final judgment.



In Katheline’s cottage Soetkin wept distraught with anguish. And she said over and over again:

“My husband! my poor husband!”

Ulenspiegel and Nele embraced her with utmost [189]tenderness. Then taking them into her arms she wept in silence. And then she signed to them to leave her alone. Nele said to Ulenspiegel:

“Let us leave her there, it is her own wish: let us save the carolus.”

They went away together; Katheline kept moving round Soetkin, saying:

“Make a hole: the soul would fain escape!”

And Soetkin, with fixed eyes, looked at her without seeing her.

The cottages of Claes and Katheline touched, that of Claes set back with a little garden in front, Katheline’s had a patch of ground planted with beans giving upon the street. This patch was surrounded with a green hedge in which Ulenspiegel to get to Nele’s and Nele to get to Ulenspiegel’s, had made a big hole in their childish days.

Ulenspiegel and Nele came into this garden patch, and from there saw the trooper who with head wagging spat into the air, but the spittle fell back on his doublet. A wicker flask lay by his side:

“Nele,” said Ulenspiegel, in a whisper, “this drunken trooper has not drunk out his thirst; he must drink more still. We shall then be his master. Let us take his flask.”

At the sound of their voices, the lansquenet turned his heavy head in their direction, hunted for his flask, and not finding it, he went on spitting into the air and tried to see his spittle falling back in the moonlight.

“He is full of brandy to the teeth,” said Ulenspiegel; “do you hear how he can hardly spit?”

However, the trooper, having spit and stared in the air a long while, put out his arm again to get his hand [190]on the flask. He found it, put his mouth to its neck, threw his head back, turned the flagon upside down, tapped on it to make it give up all its juice and sucked at it like a babe at its mother’s breast. Finding nothing in it, he resigned himself, put the flask down beside him, swore a little in high German, spat again, waggled his head to right and left, and went to sleep muttering inarticulate and unintelligible paternosters.

Ulenspiegel, knowing that this sleep would not last, and that it must be thickened further, slipped through the hole in the hedge, took the trooper’s flask, and gave it to Nele, who filled it with brandy.

The trooper did not cease to snore; Ulenspiegel passed again through the hole in the hedge and put the full flask between his legs, came back into Katheline’s bean patch and waited behind the hedge with Nele.

Because of the chill of the newly drawn liquor the trooper awoke a little, and with his first movement sought what was making him cold under the doublet.

Judging with drunken intuition that this might well be a full flask, he put his hand to it. Ulenspiegel and Nele saw him, in the light of the moon, shake the flask to hear the lap of the liquor, taste it, laugh, marvel that it should be so full, drink a mouthful, then a good gulp, put it down on the ground, take it up again and drink once more.

Then he sang:

When Seigneur Maan comes up the way

To bid good e’en to lady Zee,

To high Germans, dame Zee, which is the sea, is the wife of Seigneur Maan, which is the moon and the master of women. And so he sang: [191]

When Seigneur Maan comes up the way

To bid good e’en to lady Zee,

The lady Zee will straight purvey

A cup of wine spiced daintily,

When Seigneur Maan comes up the way.

With him she then will sup that day

And give of kisses a relay:

And when he’s cleared the supper tray

Within her bed to slumber lay

When Seigneur Maan comes up the way.

Just so, my dear, provide for me,

Good food and wine spiced daintily

Just so, my dear, provide for me

When Seigneur Maan comes up the way.

Then drinking and singing a quatrain turn and turn about, he went to sleep. And he could not hear Nele saying: “They are in a pot behind the chimney-back”; nor see Ulenspiegel go through the stable into Claes’s kitchen, lift the slab of the chimney-back, find the pot and the carolus, come back into Katheline’s garden, hide the carolus there beside the well wall, knowing full well that if they were searched for it would be inside and not outside.

Then they returned to Soetkin and found the sad wife weeping and saying:

“My husband! My poor husband!”

Nele and Ulenspiegel watched by her until morning.



On the morrow, the Borgstorm summoned with loud peals the judges to the court of the Vierschare.

When they were seated on the four benches, about the tree of justice, they interrogated Claes afresh and asked him if he wished to recant his errors. [192]

Claes raised his hand towards heaven:

“Christ, my Lord, seeth me from on high,” said he, “I looked upon his sun when my boy Ulenspiegel was born. Where is he now, the runagate? Soetkin, my gentle goodwife, wilt thou be brave against ill fortune?”

Then looking at the linden tree, he said, cursing it:

“Storm winds and drought! make all the trees of the land of our father die as they stand rather than see freedom of conscience condemned to death under their shade. Where art thou, my son Ulenspiegel? I was hard to thee. Messieurs, have pity upon me and judge me as Our Compassionate Lord would judge me.”

All that heard him wept, save the judges.

Then he asked if there was no pardon for him, saying:

“I toiled all my days, earning but little; I was good to the poor and comfortable to all men. I left the Romish Church to obey the spirit of God that spoke to me. I ask for no other boon than to commute the penalty of the fire into that of perpetual banishment for life from the land of Flanders, a penalty already full grievous.”

All that were present cried aloud:

“Pity, sirs! Mercy!”

But Josse Grypstuiver did not cry with them.

The bailiff signed to the people there to be silent and said that the edicts contained an express prohibition against asking mercy for heretics; but that if Claes would abjure his error, he should be executed by the rope instead of by fire.

And among the people ran the word:

“Fire or rope, it is death.”

And the women wept, and the men growled sullen and low. [193]

Then said Claes:

“I will not abjure. Do with my body as your mercy pleases.”

The dean of Renaix, Titelman, cried out:

“It is intolerable to see such heretic vermin lift up its head before its judges; to burn their bodies is but a fleeting pain; we must save their souls and force them by the torment to deny their errors, that they may not give the people the dangerous spectacle of heretics dying in final impenitence.”

At this word the women wept more and more and the men said:

“Where confession is made, there is penalty, but no torture.”

The court decided that, torture not being laid down in the Ordinances, there was no ground for making Claes undergo it. Once more called upon to abjure he replied:

“I cannot.”

He was, in accordance with the edicts, declared guilty of simony, because of the sale of the indulgences, a heretic, harbourer of heretics, and as such, condemned to be burned alive until death ensued before the doors of the Townhall.

His body would be left for two days’ space fastened to the stake to serve as an example and warning, and thereafter interred in that place where the bodies of executed criminals are wont to be buried.

The court awarded to the informer, Josse Grypstuiver, who was not named, fifty florins on the first hundred florins of the inheritance, and a tenth part of the remainder.

Having heard this sentence, Claes said to the dean of the fishmongers: [194]

“Thou shalt come to an ill death and a bad end, thou man of evil, who for wretched pelf dost make a widow of a happy wife, and an unhappy orphan of a lighthearted son.”

The judges had allowed Claes to speak, for they also, all but Titelman, held in scorn and loathing the informing of the dean of the fishmongers.

The latter appeared all livid with shame and rage.

And Claes was taken back to gaol.



On the morrow, which was the day before Claes was to die, the sentence was made known to Nele, to Ulenspiegel, and to Soetkin.

They asked the judges for permission to enter the prison, which was granted, but not to Nele.

When they went in, they saw Claes fastened to the wall with a long chain. A little wood fire was burning in the fireplace because of the dampness. For it is ordained by law and justice, in Flanders, to be indulgent with those that are to die, and to give them bread, meat or cheese, and wine. But the greedy gaolers often violate the law, and many of them eat the greater part and the best of the poor prisoners’ food.

Claes embraced Ulenspiegel and Soetkin weeping, but he was the first to dry his eyes, because such was his will, being a man and head of a family.

Soetkin wept and Ulenspiegel said:

“I will break these cruel irons.”

Soetkin wept, saying:

“I will go to King Philip, he will grant pardon.”

Claes replied: [195]

“The king inherits the goods of the martyrs.” Then he added: “Beloved wife and son, I am about to go sadly and dolorously out of this world. If I have some fear of suffering for my body, I am sore troubled also thinking that, when I am no more, ye will both be poor and in need, for the king will take all your goods.”

Ulenspiegel answered, speaking in a whisper:

“Nele saved all yesterday with me.”

“I am full glad of it,” replied Claes; “the informer will not laugh over my spoils.”

“Rather let him die first,” said Soetkin, her eye full of hate and without weeping.

But Claes, thinking of the carolus, said:

“Thou wast cunning, Thylken my dear boy; she will not be hungry then in her old age, Soetkin my widow.”

And Claes embraced her, pressing her body tightly to his breast, and she wept more, thinking that soon she must lose his sweet protection.

Claes looked at Ulenspiegel and said:

“Son, thou didst often sin as thou didst run upon the highways, as do wicked lads; thou must do so no more, my child, nor leave the afflicted widow alone in her house, for thou owest her protection and defence, thou the male.”

“Father, this I shall do,” said Ulenspiegel.

“O my poor husband!” said Soetkin, embracing him. “What great crime have we committed? We lived by us two peaceably, an honest simple life, loving one another well, Lord God, thou knowest it. We arose betimes to labour, and at night, giving thee thanks, we ate our daily bread. I will go to the king and rend him with my nails. Lord God, we were not guilty folk!” [196]

But the gaoler came in and they must needs depart.

Soetkin begged to remain. Claes felt her poor face burn his own, and Soetkin’s tears, falling in floods, wetting his cheeks, and all her poor body shivering and trembling in his arms. He begged that she might stay with him.

The gaoler said again that they must go, and took Soetkin from out of Claes’s arms.

Claes said to Ulenspiegel:

“Watch over her.”

Ulenspiegel said he would do this. Then he went away with Soetkin, the son supporting the mother.



On the morrow, which was the day of execution, the neighbours came and in pity shut up Ulenspiegel, Soetkin, and Nele, in Katheline’s house.

But they had not thought that they could hear from afar the cries of the victim, and through the windows see the flame of the fire.

Katheline went roaming about the town, nodding her head and saying:

“Make a hole, the soul would fain come forth!”

At nine o’clock Claes was brought out from the prison, in his shirt, his hands bound behind his back. In accordance with the sentence, the pyre was prepared in the street of Notre Dame around a stake set up before the doors of the Townhall. The executioner and his assistants had not yet made an end of piling up the wood.

Claes, in the midst of his gaolers, waited patiently till this task was finished, while the provost, on horseback, [197]and the liveried men of the bailiwick, and the nine lansquenets summoned from Bruges, could barely keep within bounds of respect the people growling and unruly.

All said, it was sheer cruelty to murder thus in his old age, unjustly, a poor fellow so kind hearted, compassionate, and stout hearted in toil.

Suddenly they all knelt down and prayed. The bells of Notre Dame were tolling for the dead.

Katheline also was in the crowd of the common people, in the first row, and all beside herself. Looking at Claes and the pyre, she said, nodding her head:

“The fire! the fire! Make a hole; the soul would fain escape!”

Soetkin and Nele, hearing the bells tolling, both crossed themselves. But Ulenspiegel did not, saying that he would no longer worship God after the fashion of murderers. And he ran about the cottage, seeking to break down doors and to leap out through windows; but all were guarded.

Suddenly Soetkin cried out, hiding her face in her apron:

“The smoke!”

The three afflicted ones saw indeed in the sky a great whirl of smoke, all black. It was the smoke of the pyre on which was Claes bound to a stake, and which the executioner had just set fire to in three places in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Claes looked about him, and not perceiving Soetkin and Ulenspiegel in the crowd, he was glad, thinking they would not behold him suffering.

No other sound was to be heard but the voice of Claes praying, the wood crackling, men growling, women [198]weeping, Katheline saying:—“Take away the fire, make a hole: the soul would fain escape.”—and the bells of Notre Dame tolling for the dead.

Suddenly Soetkin became white as snow, shuddered in all her body without weeping, and pointed with her finger to the sky. A long narrow flame had just spouted up from the pyre and rose at moments above the roofs of the low houses. It was cruelly tormenting to Claes, for according to the whims of the wind it gnawed at his legs, touched his beard and made it frizzle and smoke, licked at his hair and burned it.

Ulenspiegel held Soetkin in his arms and would have dragged her away from the window. They heard a piercing cry, it came from Claes whose body was burning on one side only. But he held his tongue and wept, and his breast was all wet with his tears.

Then Soetkin and Ulenspiegel heard a great noise of voices. This was the citizens, women and children, crying out:

“Claes was not condemned to burn by a slow fire, but by a great one. Executioner, make the pyre burn up!”

The executioner did so, but the fire did not catch quickly enough.

“Strangle him,” they cried.

And they cast stones at the provost.

“The flame! The great flame!” cried Soetkin.

In very deed, a red flame climbed up the sky in the midst of the smoke.

“He is about to die,” said the widow. “Lord God, have pity upon the soul of the innocent. Where is the king, that I may rip out his heart with my nails?”

The bells of Notre Dame were tolling for the dead. [199]

Soetkin heard Claes again utter a loud cry, but she saw not his body writhing from the torment of the flame, nor his face twisting, nor his head that he turned every way and beat against the wood of the stake. The people continued to cry out and to hiss; women and boys threw stones, and all heard Claes saying, from the midst of the flame and the smoke:

“Soetkin! Thyl!”

And his head fell forward on his breast like a head of lead.

And a lamentable shrill and piercing cry was heard coming from out of Katheline’s cottage. Then none heard aught else, save the poor witless woman nodding her head and saying: “The soul would fain escape!”

Claes was dead. The pyre having burned out sank down at the foot of the stake. And the poor body, all blackened, stayed on it hanging by the neck.

And the bells of Notre Dame tolled for the dead.



Soetkin was in Katheline’s standing against the wall, her head hanging low and her hands joined together. She was holding Ulenspiegel in her embrace, neither speaking nor weeping.

Ulenspiegel also remained silent; he was terrified to feel the fire of fever with which his mother’s body burned.

The neighbours, being back from the place of execution, said that Claes had ended his sufferings.

“He is in glory,” said the widow.

“Pray,” said Nele to Ulenspiegel: and she gave him her rosary; but he would by no means make use of it, because, said he, the beads had been blessed by the Pope. [200]

Night having fallen, Ulenspiegel said to the widow: “Mother, we must put you in bed: I shall watch beside you.”

But Soetkin: “I have no need,” said she, “that you should watch; sleep is good for young men.”

Nele made ready a bed for each in the kitchen, then she went away.

They stayed together as long as the remains of a fire of roots burned in the chimney place.

Soetkin went to bed, Ulenspiegel likewise, and heard her weeping beneath the coverlets.

Outside, in the silence of night, the wind made the trees by the canal complain with a sound as of the sea, and, harbinger of autumn, flung dust in whirlwinds against the cottage windows.

Ulenspiegel saw as it might be a man coming and going; he heard as it might be a sound of feet in the kitchen. Looking, he saw no man; hearkening, he heard nothing now but the wind soughing in the chimney and Soetkin weeping under her bedclothes.

Then he heard steps again, and behind him, at his head, a sigh.... “Who is there?” he said.

None answered, but three knocks were given on the table. Ulenspiegel grew afraid, and trembling: “Who is there?” he said again. He received no answer but three knocks on the table and he felt two arms clasp and strain him, and a body lean upon his face, a body whose skin was wrinkled and that had a great hole in its breast and a smell of burning:

“Father,” said Ulenspiegel, “is it thy poor body that weighs thus upon me?”

He got no answer, and although the shade was beside him, he heard a cry without: “Thyl! Thyl!” Suddenly [201]Soetkin rose and came to Ulenspiegel’s bed, “Dost thou hear naught?” said she.

“Aye,” said he, “the father calling on me.”

“I,” said Soetkin, “I felt a cold body beside me in my bed; and the mattresses moved, and the curtains were shaken and I heard a voice saying: Soetkin; a voice low as a breath, and a step light as the sound of a gnat’s wings.” Then speaking to Claes’s spirit:—“Husband,” she said, “if thou desirest aught in heaven where God keeps thee in his glory, thou must tell us what it is, that we may carry out thy will.”

Suddenly a blast blew the door open impetuously, filling the chamber with dust, and Ulenspiegel and Soetkin heard the far-off croakings of ravens.

They went out together and came to the pyre.

The night was black, save when the clouds, driven away by the sharp north wind and galloping like stags across the sky, left the face of the moon clear and shining.

A constable of the commune was patrolling, keeping guard on the pyre. Ulenspiegel and Soetkin heard the sound of his steps upon the hard ground and the voice of a raven, doubtless calling others, for from afar croakings answered him.

Ulenspiegel and Soetkin having drawn near to the dead fire, the raven alit upon Claes’s shoulder; they heard the blows of his beak upon the body, and soon other ravens arrived.

Ulenspiegel would have leaped upon the pyre and struck at the ravens: the constable said to him:

“Wizard, seekest thou hands of glory? Know that the hands of men burned do not render invisible, but only the hands of men hanged as thou shalt be one day.”

“Messire Constable,” answered Ulenspiegel, “I am [202]no wizard, but the orphaned son of him who is there fastened, and this woman is his widow. We were but minded to kiss him once again and to have a little of his ashes in memory of him. Give us leave for this, messire, who art no trooper from a foreign country, but a very son of this land.”

“Be it as thou wouldst,” replied the constable.

The orphan and the widow, going over the burnt wood, came to the body; both kissed with tears the face of Claes.

Ulenspiegel took from the place of the heart, where the flames had made a great hole, a little of the dead man’s ashes. Then kneeling, Soetkin and he prayed. When the dawn appeared pallid in the heavens, they were both there still; but the constable drove them away for fear of being punished because of his good-will.

Returning, Soetkin took a piece of red silk and a piece of black silk; with these she made a sachet, and then put the ashes in it, and to the sachet sewed two ribbands, so that Ulenspiegel could always wear it on his neck. When she was putting the sachet in its place on him, she said to him:

“Let these ashes, that are the heart of my man, this red that is his blood, this black that is our mourning, be ever on thy breast, like the fire of vengeance upon the murderers.”

“I would have it even so,” said Ulenspiegel.

And the widow embraced the orphan, and the sun arose.



On the morrow came the constables and criers of the commune to Claes’s house to set all its plenishing in the [203]street and proceed to the sale by law appointed. Soetkin from Katheline’s saw them bring down the brass and iron cradle which from father to son had always been in the house of Claes where the poor dead man had been born, where Ulenspiegel also had been born. Then they brought down the bed where Soetkin had conceived her son and where she had spent such good nights on her husband’s shoulder. Then came, too, the cupboard where she put away her bread, the press in which, in good times, meats were kept, pans, kettles, and cooking pots no longer shining and scoured as in the good days of happiness, but sullied with the dust of neglect. And they recalled to her the family feasts when the neighbours used to come drawn to the good savours.

Then came, too, a cask and a little cask of simpel and dobbel-cuyt, and, in a basket, flasks of wine, of which there were at least thirty; and all was set down upon the street, down to the last nail the poor widow heard them dragging noisily out of the walls.

Sitting, she looked on without uttering cry or complaint, and all heartbroken, beholding these humble riches carried off. The crier having lighted a candle, the things were sold by auction. The candle was near its end when the dean of the fishmongers had bought all for a miserable price to sell again; and he seemed to be as pleased as a weasel sucking the brain of a hen.

Ulenspiegel said in his heart: “Thou shalt not laugh long, murderer.”

The sale ended, meanwhile, and the constables who were searching everywhere did not find the carolus. The fishmonger exclaimed:

“Ye search ill: I know that Claes had seven hundred six months ago.” [204]

Ulenspiegel said in his heart: “Thou shalt not be the heir to them, murderer.”

Suddenly Soetkin turning towards him:

“The informer!” said she, showing him the fishmonger.

“I know that,” said he.

“Would you suffer him,” said she, “to inherit from the father’s blood?”

“Rather would I endure a whole day on the torture bench,” replied Ulenspiegel.

Quoth Soetkin:

“I, too, but do not give me away for pity, whatever torment you may see me enduring.”

“Alas! you are a woman,” said Ulenspiegel.

“Poor lad,” said she, “I brought you into the world, and know how to suffer. But you, if I saw you....” Then growing pale: “I will pray Madame the Virgin, who saw her son upon the cross.”

And she wept, caressing Ulenspiegel.

And thus was made between them a pact of hate and force.



The fishmonger need pay only one half of the price of his purchase, the other half serving to pay him the reward of his informing, until they should have recovered the seven hundred carolus that had impelled him to his villainy.

Soetkin spent the nights in weeping and the day in the tasks of housekeeping. Often Ulenspiegel heard her talking all alone and saying:

“If he inherits, I shall kill myself.”

Knowing that she would indeed do as she said, Nele [205]and he did all they could to get Soetkin to retire to Walcheren, where she had kinsfolk. Soetkin would by no means do this, saying she had no need to run away from the worms that would soon eat her widowed bones.

In the meanwhile, the fishmonger had gone afresh to the bailiff and had told him that the defunct had inherited seven hundred carolus but a few months before, that he was a niggardly man and living on little, and therefore had not spent all that large amount, which was doubtless hidden away in some corner.

The bailiff asked him what harm had Ulenspiegel and Soetkin done him that having robbed one of a father and the other of her husband, he still racked his wits to harass them cruelly.

The fishmonger replied that being a leading burgess of Damme, he desired to have the laws of the empire respected and thus to deserve His Majesty’s clemency.

Having said so much, he deposited in the bailiff’s hands a written charge, and brought forward witnesses who, speaking in all truth and sincerity, must certify reluctantly that the fishmonger was no liar.

The members of the Chamber of Aldermen, having heard the testimony of the witnesses, declared the indications of guilt sufficient to warrant the application of torture. They sent, therefore, to have the house thoroughly searched once again by sergeants who had full powers to fetch the mother and the son to the town gaol, where they were detained until the executioner should come from Bruges, whither they sent to summon him immediately.

When Ulenspiegel and Soetkin passed along the street, their hands tied behind them, the fishmonger [206]was posted on the threshold of his house, to look at them.

And the citizens of Damme, men and women, were on the thresholds of their houses also. Mathyssen, a near neighbour of the fishmonger, heard Ulenspiegel say to the informer:

“God will curse thee, tormentor of widows!”

And Soetkin saying to him:

“Thou wilt come to an ill end, persecutor of orphans!”

The folk of Damme having thus learned that it was upon a second denunciation by Grypstuiver that the widow and the orphan were thus being haled off to prison, hooted the fishmonger, and that night flung stones through his windows. And his door was covered with filth.

And he no longer dared to leave his own house.



Towards ten o’clock in the forenoon Ulenspiegel and Soetkin were brought into the torture chamber.

There were the bailiff, the clerk and the sheriffs, the executioner from Bruges, his assistant and a barber surgeon.

The bailiff asked Soetkin if she was not holding back goods that belonged to the Emperor. She replied that having nothing, she could hold back nothing.

“And thou?” asked the bailiff, speaking to Ulenspiegel.

“Seven months since,” said he, “we inherited seven hundred carolus; some of these we ate. As for the others, I cannot tell where they are; I think indeed that [207]the traveller on foot that stayed in our house, for our undoing, took the rest away, for I have seen nothing since then.”

The bailiff asked again if both persisted in declaring themselves innocent.

They answered that they were holding back nothing that belonged to the Emperor.

The bailiff then said gravely and sadly:

“The charges against you being serious and the accusation well sustained, you must needs, if you do not confess, undergo the question.”

“Spare the widow,” said Ulenspiegel. “The fishmonger has bought up everything.”

“Poor lad,” said Soetkin, “men cannot endure pain as women can.”

Seeing Ulenspiegel pale as the dead because of her, she said again:

“I have hate and force.”

“Spare the widow,” said Ulenspiegel.

“Take me in his stead,” said Soetkin.

The bailiff asked the executioner if he had in readiness the implements and all things needful to discover the truth.

The executioner replied:

“They are all here.”

The judges, having consulted, decided that, in order to come at the truth, they should begin with the woman.

“For,” said one of the sheriffs, “there is no son so cruel or hard hearted as to see his mother suffer without making confession of the crime and so to deliver her; the same will do any mother, were she a tigress at heart, for her offspring.”

Speaking to the executioner, the bailiff said: [208]

“Make the woman sit in the chair and put the baguettes on her hands and her feet.”

The executioner obeyed.

“Oh, do not do that, Messieurs Judges!” cried Ulenspiegel. “Bind me in her place, break my fingers and my toes, but spare the widow.”

“The fishmonger,” said Soetkin. “I have hate and force.”

Ulenspiegel seemed livid pale, trembling, beside himself, and held his peace.

The baguettes were little rods of boxwood, placed between each finger and toe, touching the bone, and joined together with strings by an instrument so craftily designed that the executioner could, at the behest of the judge, squeeze all the fingers together, strip the bones of their flesh, grind them terribly, or give the victim only a slight pain.

He put the baguettes on Soetkin’s hands and feet.

“Tighten,” said the bailiff.

He did so cruelly.

Then the bailiff, addressing himself to Soetkin:

“Discover to me,” said he, “the place where the carolus are hidden.”

“I do not know it,” she replied, groaning.

“Harder,” said he.

Ulenspiegel twisted his arms that were bound behind his back to be rid of the rope and so come to Soetkin’s aid.

“Do not tighten them, messieurs judges,” said he, “do not tighten them, these be but woman’s bones, thin and brittle. A bird could break them with its beak. Do not tighten them, sirs—master executioner, I do not speak to you, for you must needs be obedient [209]to these gentlemen’s orders. O do not bid him tighten them; have pity!”

“The fishmonger,” said Soetkin.

And Ulenspiegel held his peace.

However, seeing that the executioner was locking the baguettes tighter still, he cried out again:

“Pity, sirs!” he said. “Ye are breaking the widow’s fingers that she needeth to work withal. Alas! her feet! Will she never walk again now? Pity, sirs!”

“Thou shalt come to an ill end, fishmonger,” cried Soetkin.

And the bones crackled and the blood from her feet fell in little drops.

Ulenspiegel looked at all this, and trembling with anguish and with rage, he said:

“A woman’s bones, do not break them, sirs!”

“The fishmonger,” groaned Soetkin.

And her voice was low and stifled like the voice of a ghost.

Ulenspiegel trembled and cried out:

“Master judges, her hands are bleeding and her feet, too. The widow’s bones are broken, broken!”

The barber surgeon touched them with his finger, and Soetkin uttered a loud scream.

“Confess for her,” said the bailiff to Ulenspiegel.

But Soetkin looked at him with eyes like the eyes of the dead, wide open and staring. And he knew he could not speak, and he wept and said nothing.

But the bailiff said next:

“Since this woman is gifted with a man’s fortitude, we must try her courage before the torments of her son.”

Soetkin heard nothing, for she had lost her senses by reason of the great agony she had suffered. [210]

They brought her back to consciousness with much vinegar. Then Ulenspiegel was stripped naked before the widow’s eyes. The executioner shaved his head and his whole body, so as to spy that he had no wicked spell on him. Then he perceived on his back the little black mark he carried from his birth. He thrust a long needle into it several times; but as the blood came, he decided that there was no sorcery in the mark. At the bailiff’s order, the hands of Ulenspiegel were tied with two cords running over a pulley fixed to the roof so that the executioner at the judges’ pleasure could hoist him up and let him drop with a brutal jerk; which he did nine times, having first hung a weight of twenty-five pounds on each foot.

At the ninth time, the skin of his wrists and ankles tore, and the bones of his legs began to come out of their sockets.

“Confess,” said the bailiff.

“No,” replied Ulenspiegel.

Soetkin looked at her son and could find no strength either to cry out or to speak; only she stretched forth her arms, fluttering her bleeding hands and showing thus that they must make an end of this torment.

The executioner ran Ulenspiegel up and down yet again. And the skin of his wrists and ankles was torn still more; and the bones of his legs came out of their sockets further still; but he uttered no cry.

Soetkin wept and fluttered her bleeding hands.

“Confess the concealment,” said the bailiff, “and you shall have pardon for it.”

“The fishmonger hath need of pardon,” answered Ulenspiegel.

“Wilt thou mock thy judges?” said one of the sheriffs. [211]

“Mock? Alas!” replied Ulenspiegel, “I but feign to mock, believe me.”

Soetkin then saw the executioner, who, at the bailiff’s order, was blowing up a brazier of red coals, and an assistant who was lighting two candles. She would fain have risen up on her murdered feet, but fell back to a sitting posture, and exclaiming:

“Take away that fire!” she cried. “Ah! master judges, spare his poor youth. Take away the fire!”

“The fishmonger!” cried Ulenspiegel, seeing her weakening.

“Raise Ulenspiegel a foot above the ground,” said the bailiff; “set the brazier underneath his feet and a candle under either armpit.”

The executioner obeyed. What hair was left in his armpits crackled and smoked in the flame.

Ulenspiegel cried out, and Soetkin, weeping, said:

“Take the fire away!”

The bailiff said:

“Confess the concealment and thou shalt be set at liberty. Confess for him, woman.”

And Ulenspiegel said: “Who will throw the fishmonger into the fire that burneth for ever?”

Soetkin made sign with her head that she had nothing to say. Ulenspiegel ground and gnashed his teeth, and Soetkin looked at him with haggard eyes and all in tears.

Nevertheless, when the executioner, having blown out the candles, set the burning brazier under Ulenspiegel’s feet, she cried:

“Master judges, have pity upon him: he knows not what he saith.”

“Why doth he not know what he saith?” asked the bailiff, craftily. [212]

“Do not question her, master judges; ye see full well that she is out of her wits with torment. The fishmonger lied,” said Ulenspiegel.

“Wilt thou say the same as he, woman?” asked the bailiff.

Soetkin made sign with her head to say yes.

“Burn the fishmonger!” cried Ulenspiegel.

Soetkin held her peace, raising her clenched fist into the air as though to curse.

Yet seeing the brazier burn up more fiercely under her son’s feet, she cried:

“O Lord God! Madame Mary that art in heaven, put an end to this torment! Have pity! Take the brazier away!”

“The fishmonger!” groaned Ulenspiegel again.

And he vomited blood in great gushes through nose and mouth, and letting his head fall, hung suspended above the coals.

Then Soetkin cried:

“He is dead, my poor orphan! They have killed him! Ah! him, too. Take away this brazier, master judges! Let me take him into my arms to die also, I, too, to die with him. Ye know I cannot flee on my broken feet.”

“Give the widow her son,” said the bailiff.

Then the judges deliberated together.

The executioner unbound Ulenspiegel, and laid him all naked and covered with blood upon Soetkin’s knees, while the barber surgeon put back his bones in their sockets.

All the while Soetkin embraced Ulenspiegel, and said, weeping:

“Son, poor martyr! If the judges will, I shall heal [213]thee, I; but awaken, Thyl, my son! Master judges, if ye have killed him on me, I shall go to His Majesty; for ye have done contrary to all laws and justice, and ye shall see what one poor woman can do against wicked men. But, sirs, leave us free together. We have nothing but our two selves in the world, poor wretches on whom the hand of God has been heavy.”

Having deliberated, the judges gave out the following sentence:

“Inasmuch as you, Soetkin, lawful widow of Claes, and you, Thyl, son of Claes, and called Ulenspiegel, having been accused of fraudulently withholding the goods that by confiscation were the property of His Majesty the King, maugre all privileges contrary to this, despite severe torture and adequate ordeal, have confessed to nothing:

“The court, considering the absence of sufficient proofs, and in you, woman, the piteous condition of your members, and in you, man, the harsh torment you have undergone, declares you both at liberty, and accords you permission to take up your abode in the house of him or her who may please to give you lodging, in spite of your poverty.

“Thus decreed at Damme, the three and twentieth day of October in the year of Our Lord 1558.”

“Thanks be to you, master judges,” said Soetkin.

“The fishmonger!” groaned Ulenspiegel.

And mother and son were taken to the house of Katheline in a cart.



In this year, which was the fifty-eighth of the century, Katheline went into Soetkin’s house, and said: [214]

“Last night, having anointed myself with a balsam, I was carried to the tower of Notre Dame, and I beheld the spirits of the element passing on to the angels the prayers of men who flying towards the farthest heavens, bore them to the throne. And the sky was all over sprinkled with radiant stars. Suddenly there rose up from a fire pile a shape that seemed all black and climbed up to set himself beside me on the tower. I recognized Claes as he was in life, clad in his coalman’s attire. ‘What dost thou,’ said he, ‘on the tower of Notre Dame?’ ‘But thyself,’ I replied, ‘whither goest thou, flying through the air like a bird?’ ‘I go,’ he said, ‘to the judgment, dost thou not hear the angel’s trump?’ I was quite close to him, and felt that his spiritual body was not solid like the bodies of living men; but so tenuous that moving forward against him, I entered into it as into a hot vapour. At my feet, in all the land of Flanders, there shone a few lights, and I said to myself: ‘Those who rise early and work late are the blessed of God.’

“And all the while I heard the angel’s trumpet sounding through the night. And I saw then another shade that mounted, coming out of Spain; this one was old and decrepit, had a chin like a slipper and preserve of quince on its lips. It wore on its back a cloak of crimson velvet lined with ermine, on its head a crown imperial, in one hand an anchovy which it was munching, in the other a tankard full of beer.

“It came, doubtless for weariness, and sate down on the tower of Notre Dame. Kneeling down, I said to it: ‘Crowned Majesty, I revere you, but I know you not. Whence come you and what do you in the world?’ ‘I come,’ it said, ‘from Saint Just in Estramadura, and I [215]was the Emperor Charles the Fifth.’ ‘But,’ said I, ‘whither go you as now on this cold night, through these clouds laden with hail?’ ‘I go,’ it said, ‘to the judgment.’ Just as the Emperor was fain to finish his anchovy and to drink his beer from his tankard, the angel’s trumpet sounded, and he flew up into the air growling and grumbling at being thus interrupted in his meal. I followed His Sacred Majesty. He went through space, hiccoughing with fatigue, wheezing with asthma, and sometimes vomiting, for death had come on him during a spell of indigestion. We mounted continually, like arrows sped from a bow of cornelwood. The stars glided beside us, tracing lines of fire in the sky; we saw them break loose and fall. And still the trumpet of the angel kept a-sounding. What a mighty and sonorous blare! At every flourish, as it beat against the mists of the air, they opened up as though some hurricane blast had blown upon them from near at hand. And so was our path marked out for us. Having been borne away for a thousand leagues and more, we beheld Christ in his glory, seated on a throne of stars, and on his right hand was the angel that inscribes the deeds of men upon a brazen register, and on his left hand Mary his mother, entreating him without ceasing for sinners.

“Claes and the Emperor Charles knelt down before the throne.

“The angel cast the crown from off Charles’s head: ‘There is but one emperor here,’ said he, ‘that is Christ.’

“His Sacred Majesty seemed angry; nevertheless, speaking humbly: ‘Might I not,’ said he, ‘keep this anchovy and this tankard of beer, for this long journey made me hungry.’ [216]

“‘As thou wast all thy life long,’ rejoined the angel; ‘but eat and drink none the less.’

“The Emperor drained the tankard of beer and munched at the anchovy.

“Then Christ spake and said:

“‘Dost thou offer a cleansed soul for judgment?’

“‘I hope as much, my sweet Lord, for I confessed myself,’ replied the Emperor Charles.

“‘And thou, Claes?’ said Christ, ‘thou dost not tremble as doth this emperor.’

“‘My Lord Jesus,’ answered Claes, ‘there is no soul that is clean; I am not, therefore, afraid of Thee who art the supreme good and the supreme justice, but withal I fear for my sins that were many.’

“‘Speak, carrion,’ said the angel, addressing the Emperor.

“‘I, Lord,’ replied Charles in an embarrassed voice, ‘being anointed by the finger of Thy priests, I was consecrated King of Castile, Emperor of Germany, and King of the Romans. I had ever at heart the preservation of the power that cometh from Thee, and to that end I wrought by the rope, by the steel, by the pit, and by the fire against all them of the reform.”

“But the angel:

“‘Belly-aching liar,’ said he, ‘thou wouldst fain deceive us. Thou didst tolerate the reformers in Germany, because thou wast afeard of them, and had them beheaded, burned, hanged, and buried alive in the Low Countries, where thou hadst no fear save not to inherit enough from these toiling bees so rich in plenteous honey. A hundred thousand souls perished by thy doing, not because thou didst love Christ, monseigneur, but because thou wast a despot, tyrant, [217]devourer of countries, loving but thyself, and after thyself, meats, fishes, wines, and beers, for thou wast as great a glutton as any dog, and thirsty as a sponge.’

“‘And thou, Claes, speak,’ said Christ.

“But the angel, standing up:

“‘This one hath naught to say. He was good, hard-working like the poor Flanders folk, willing to toil and willing to laugh, keeping the faith he owed his princes and believing that his princes would keep the faith they owed to him. He had money, he was accused, and as he had harboured one of the reformed, he was burned alive.’

“‘Ah,’ said Mary, ‘poor martyr, but there are in heaven cool springs, fountains of milk, and choice wine that will refresh thee, and I will myself lead thee to them, coalman!’

“The trumpet of the angel sounded again, and I saw arising from the depths of the abyss a man naked and beautiful, with a crown of iron. And on the round of the crown were inscribed these words: ‘Dark until the day of doom!’

“He drew near to the throne and said to Christ:

“‘I am thy slave until I am thy master.’

“‘Satan,’ said Mary, ‘a day shall come when there will be no more slaves or masters, and when Christ who is love, Satan who is pride, will signify: Might and Knowledge.’

“‘Woman,’ said Satan, ‘thou art fair and kind.’

“Then speaking to Christ, and pointing to the Emperor:

“‘What is to be done with this one?’ said he.

“Christ replied:

“‘Thou shalt put the crowned worm in a chamber [218]where thou shalt collect all the implements of torment used during his reign. Each time a wretched, innocent man endureth the torment of the water, which bloweth men up like bladders; of the candles, that burneth the soles of the feet and the armpits; the strappado, which breaketh the limbs; the riving asunder by four galleys; every time a free soul gives up its last breath on the fire, he must undergo all these deaths in turn, all these tortures, that he may learn what evil may be wrought by an unjust man that hath at command millions of his fellow men: let him rot in gaols, die upon scaffolds, groan in exile far from his own country; let him be dishonoured, shamefully entreated, scourged; let him be rich and harried by the treasury; let informers bring accusations against him, and confiscations ruin him. Thou shalt make of him an ass, that he may be meek, ill treated, and ill fed; a poor man, that he may ask for alms and be greeted with insults; a worker that he may toil too much and eat too little; then when he shall have suffered sorely in his man’s body and soul, thou shalt turn him into a dog, that he may be friendly, and be beaten; a slave in the Indies, that he may be sold by auction; a soldier, that he may fight for another man and be slain without knowing wherefore. And when, at the end of three hundred years, he will thus have gone through every form of suffering, every distress, thou shalt make a free man of him, and if in this condition he is good as was Claes, thou shalt give his body eternal repose, in a spot shaded at noon, visited by the sun in the morning, under a goodly tree, and covered by a cool verdant sward. And his friends will come to shed their tears of grief upon his tomb, and sow violets, the blossoms of remembrance.’ [219]

“‘Pardon, my son,’ said Mary, ‘he knew not what he did, for power hardeneth the heart.’

“‘There is no pardon,’ said Christ.

“‘Ah!’ said His Sacred Majesty, ‘if only I had a glass of Andalusian wine!’

“‘Come,’ said Satan, ‘past is the time of wine, of meats and fowls.’

“And he bore away to the uttermost deeps of hell the soul of the poor emperor, still munching his fragment of anchovy.

“Satan for pity left it to him. Then I saw Madame the Virgin leading Claes to the highest height of heaven, there where was naught but stars hanging like clusters of grapes to the vaulted roof. And there angels laved him and he became handsome and young. Then they gave him rystpap to eat, in silver spoons. And heaven closed again.”

“He is in glory,” said the widow.

“The ashes beat against my heart,” said Ulenspiegel.



During the next three and twenty days Katheline grew white, and thin, drying up as though she were devoured by a fire within more consuming than the fire of madness.

She said no longer: “The fire! Make a hole: the soul would fain escape,” but ever in ecstasy and delight she would say to Nele: “Spouse am I: spouse thou art to be. Handsome; long hair; hot love; knees cold and cold arms!”

And Soetkin looked on her grieving, for she thought this some new madness. [220]

Katheline continued:

“Thrice three make nine, the sacred number. He that in the night hath eyes shining as a cat’s alone seeth the mystery.”

One night Soetkin, hearing her, made a movement of doubting.

But Katheline:

“Four and three,” said she, “misfortune under Saturn; under Venus, the marriage number. Cold arms! Cold knees! Heart of fire!”

Soetkin made answer:

“It is not well to speak of wicked heathen idols.”

Hearing which Katheline made the sign of the cross and said:

“Blessed be the gray horseman. Nele must have a husband, a handsome husband carrying a sword, a black husband with a shining face.”

“Aye,” said Ulenspiegel, “a fricassee of husbands for which I shall make the sauce with my knife.”

Nele looked at her friend with eyes all moist for the pleasure of seeing him so jealous.

“I want no husband,” said she.

Katheline replied:

“When he that is clad in gray shall come, ever booted and spurred in another fashion.”

Soetkin said:

“Pray to God for the poor madwife.”

“Ulenspiegel,” said Katheline, “go fetch us four quarts of dobbel-cuyt whilst I go to prepare the heete-koeken”; which are pancakes in the land of France.

Soetkin asked why she made feast on Saturday like the Jews.

Katheline answered: [221]

“Because the dough is ready.”

Ulenspiegel was standing holding in his hand the great pewter pot, which held the exact measure.

“Mother, what must I do?”

“Go,” said Katheline.

Soetkin would not answer, not being mistress in the house: she said to Ulenspiegel, “Go, my son.”

Ulenspiegel ran up to the Scaeck, whence he brought back the four quarts of dobbel-cuyt.

Soon the perfume of the heete-koeken spread throughout the kitchen, and all were hungry, even the sorrow-stricken widow.

Ulenspiegel ate heartily. Katheline had given him a great tankard saying that being the only male, and head in the house, he must drink more than the others and sing afterwards.

Saying this, she had a crafty look; but Ulenspiegel drank and did not sing. Nele wept, looking at Soetkin all pale and huddled down; only Katheline was gay.

After the meal Soetkin and Ulenspiegel went up to the garret to go to bed; Katheline and Nele remained in the kitchen where the beds were prepared.

Towards two in the morning, Ulenspiegel had long been asleep by reason of the heavy drink; Soetkin, with eyes open even as she had every night, was praying to Madame the Virgin to send her sleep, but Madame did not give ear.

Suddenly she heard the cry of a sea eagle and from the kitchen a like cry in answer; then from afar in the country, other cries resounded, and always she deemed that there was an answer from the kitchen.

Thinking that these were night birds, she paid no heed to them. She heard the neighing of horses and [222]the clatter of iron-shod hoofs striking on the causeway; she opened the window of the garret and saw indeed two horses, saddled, pawing the ground, and browsing on the grass of the roadside. Then she heard the voice of a woman crying out, a man’s voice threatening, blows struck, fresh cries, the banging of a door, and an agonized foot climbing the steps of the stair.

Ulenspiegel snored and heard nothing at all; the garret door opened; Nele came in all but naked, out of breath, panting, weeping, and sobbing, against the door she thrust a table, chairs, an old stove, all she could find in the shape of furniture. The last stars were nearly extinguished, the cocks were beginning to crow.

Ulenspiegel, at the noise that Nele had made, had turned in his bed, but still continued to sleep.

Nele then, flinging herself on Soetkin’s neck: “Soetkin,” she said, “I am afraid, light the candle.”

Soetkin did so; and Nele still groaned the while.

The candle being lit, Soetkin looked at Nele and saw the girl’s chemise torn at the shoulder and on her forehead, her cheek, and her neck bloody scratches such as might be made by fingernails.

“Nele,” said Soetkin, embracing her, “whence come you wounded in this fashion?”

The girl, still trembling and moaning, said: “Do not have us burned, Soetkin.”

In the meantime, Ulenspiegel awaked and was blinking in the candlelight. Soetkin said: “Who is below there?”

Nele replied:

“Hold thy peace, it is the husband she wants to give me.” [223]

Soetkin and Nele all at once heard Katheline cry out, and their limbs gave way under both of them.

“He is beating her, he is beating her on my account,” said Nele.

“Who is in the house?” cried Ulenspiegel, leaping out of his bed. Then rubbing his eyes, he went searching about the chamber until he had got his hands on a weighty poker lying in a corner.

“No one,” said Nele, “nobody at all; do not go down, Ulenspiegel!”

But he, paying no heed to anything, ran to the door, flinging aside chairs, tables, and stove. Katheline ceased not to cry out below; Nele and Soetkin clung to Ulenspiegel on the landing, one with her arms about his body, the other holding by his legs, saying: “Do not go down, Ulenspiegel, they are devils.”

“Aye,” he replied, “devil-husband of Nele, I will join him in wedlock with my poker. Betrothal of iron and flesh! Let me go down.

But still they would not let go, for they were strong by reason of their holding on the balusters. He dragged them down the steps of the staircase, and they were afraid at thus drawing nearer to the devils. But they could do nothing against him. Descending by leaps and bounds like a great snowball from the top of a mountain, he went into the kitchen, saw Katheline worn out and wan in the light of the dawn, and heard her saying: “Hanske, why dost thou leave me alone? It is not my fault if Nele is bad.”

Ulenspiegel, without staying to listen to her, opened the stable door. Finding no one within, he dashed out into the garden and from thence into the highway; far off he saw two horses galloping and losing themselves [224]in the mist. He ran to catch them up, but could not, for they went like the storm winds sweeping up the withered leaves.

Vexed and wild with anger and despair, he came back again, saying between his teeth: “They have violated her! they have violated her!” And with an ill flame burning in his eyes he looked on Nele, who, all shuddering, standing before the widow and Katheline, said: “No Thyl, no, my beloved, no!”

Saying so, she looked into his eyes so seriously and so candidly that Ulenspiegel well perceived that she spoke the truth. Then questioning her:

“Whence came these cries?” said he; “where were those men going? Why is thy chemise torn at the shoulder and the back? Why hast thou on thy cheek and forehead the marks of fingernails?”

“Listen,” said she, “but do not have us burned, Ulenspiegel. Katheline, may God preserve her from hell! has now for three and twenty days a devil for lover, clad in black, booted and spurred. His face shines with the fire seen in summertime upon the waves of the sea when it is hot.”

“Why art thou gone, Hanske, my darling?” said Katheline. “Nele is bad.”

But Nele, going on with her tale, said: “He cries like a sea eagle to announce his presence. My mother sees him in the kitchen every Saturday. She says that his kisses are cold and his body like snow. He beats her when she does not do all that he would have her do. He once brought her some florins, but he took all the others from her.”

During this tale, Soetkin, clasping her hands, prayed for Katheline. Katheline said, rejoicing: [225]

“Mine is my body no longer, mine no longer is my spirit, but his. Hanske, my darling, bring me to the sabbath again. There is only Nele that never hath mind to come; Nele is bad.”

“At daybreak he was wont to depart,” continued the girl; “and on the morrow my mother would tell me a hundred marvels.... But there is no need to look on me with such cruel eyes, Ulenspiegel. Yesterday she told me that a fine seigneur, clothed in gray and called Hilbert, desired to have me in marriage and would come here to show himself to me. I answered that I had no mind for any husband, neither ugly nor handsome. By her maternal authority she forced me to remain up to wait their coming; for she loses none of her wits when it is a matter of her amours. We were half undressed, ready to go to bed; I was sleeping upon yonder chair. When they came within I did not wake. Suddenly I felt someone embracing me and kissing me on the neck. And by the light of the shining moon I beheld a face as bright as the crests of the waves of the sea in July, when it is like to thunder, and I heard one saying to me in a whispering voice: ‘I am Hilbert, thy husband; be mine and I shall make thee rich.’ The face of him that spake had a smell as of fish. I repulsed him; he would have taken me by force, but I had the strength of ten men like him. Even so he tore my chemise, wounded my face, and went on saying, ‘Be mine, I shall make thee rich.’ ‘Aye,’ I said, ‘like my mother, from whom thou wilt take her last liard.’ Then he redoubled his violence, but could avail naught against me. Then as he was uglier than a corpse, I gave him my nails in his eyes so hard that he screamed for the pain and I could break loose and come hither to Soetkin.” [226]

Katheline kept repeating:

“Nele is bad. Why hast thou gone so quickly, Hanske, my darling?”

“Where wast thou, ill mother,” said Soetkin, “while they would have taken away thy child’s honour?”

“Nele is bad,” said Katheline. “I was with my black lord, when the gray devil came to us, his face all bloody, and said: ‘Come away, lad: the house is a bad house; the men in it would beat us to the death, and the women have knives at their fingertips.’ Then they ran to their horses and disappeared in the mist. Nele is bad!”



On the morrow, while they were drinking hot milk, Soetkin said to Katheline:

“Thou seest that sorrow is driving me already out of this world, wouldst thou drive me to flee from it through thy damned witchcrafts?”

But Katheline kept saying:

“Nele is bad. Come back, Hanske, my darling.”

On the next Wednesday the devils came back together. Since the Saturday Nele slept at the house of the widow Van den Houte, saying that she could not stay at Katheline’s by reason of the presence of Ulenspiegel, a young bachelor.

Katheline received her black lord and his friend in the keet, which is the wash house and the bakery appurtenant to the main dwelling. And then they held feast and revel with old wines and smoked ox tongues, that were always there awaiting them. The black devil said to Katheline:

“We have need,” said he, “for an important task [227]that is to be done, of a heavy sum of money; give us what thou canst.”

Katheline, being unwilling to give more than a florin, they threatened to kill her. But they let her off with two gold carolus and seven deniers.

“Come no more on the Saturday,” she told them. “Ulenspiegel knows that day and will await you with weapons to kill you, and I should die after you.”

“We shall come next Tuesday,” said they.

On that day Ulenspiegel and Nele slept without fear of the devils, for they believed that they came only on Saturday.

Katheline rose and went into the keet, to see if her friends had come.

She was sorely impatient, because since she had seen Hanske again, her madness had greatly lessened, for folk said it was love-madness.

Not seeing them, she was brokenhearted; when she heard the sea eagle cry from the direction of Sluys, in the country, she went towards the cry. Going in the meadow at the foot of a dyke of faggots and green sod, she heard from the other side of the dyke the two devils talking together. One said:

“I shall have the half of it.”

The other replied:

“Thou shalt have none of it; what is Katheline’s is mine.”

Then they cursed and blasphemed like madmen, disputing between them who should have to himself alone the money and the loves of Katheline and Nele together. Transfixed with fear, daring neither to speak nor budge, Katheline presently heard them fighting, then one of them saying: [228]

“This steel is cold.” Then a rattling breath and the fall of a heavy body.

Affrighted, she walked back to her cottage. At two o’clock in the night she heard again, but now in her garden, the cry of the sea eagle. She went to open and saw before the door her lover devil alone. She asked him:

“What hast thou done with the other?”

“He will not come again,” he answered.

Then embracing her he caressed her. And he seemed to her colder than usual. And Katheline’s spirit was well awaked. When he went away, he asked her for twenty florins, all she had: she gave him seventeen.

On the morrow, being curious, she went along by the dyke; but she saw nothing, save at a spot as big as a man’s coffin blood upon the turf that was less solid under foot. But that night rain washed away the blood.

The next Wednesday she heard the cry of the sea eagle once more in her garden.



Each time he needed money to pay their share of expenses at Katheline’s Ulenspiegel went by night to lift the stone from the hole dug beside the well, and took out a carolus.

One night the three women were spinning; Ulenspiegel was carving with his knife a box that the bailiff had entrusted to him, and on which he was skilfully graving a goodly chase, with a pack of Hainaut dogs, mastiffs from Crete, the which are most savage beasts; Brabant dogs going in pairs and called ear biters, and [229]other dogs, straight-legged, crook-legged, short-legged, and greyhounds.

Katheline being present, Nele asked Soetkin if she had hidden her treasure well. The widow answered without any misgivings that it could not be better than in the side of the well wall.

Towards the midnight, being Thursday, Soetkin was awakened by Bibulus Schnouffius, barking very sharply, but not for long. Deeming that it was some false alarm, she went to sleep again.

Friday morning, early, Soetkin and Ulenspiegel, having risen, did not see Katheline as usual in the kitchen, nor the fire lit, nor the milk boiling on the fire. They were dumbfounded and looked to see if she was not perchance in the garden. They saw her there, though it was misty rain, dishevelled, in her body linen all soaked and chilled, but not daring to enter.

Ulenspiegel, going to her, said:

“What dost thou there, half naked, when it rains?”

“Ah,” she said, “aye, aye, a great portent!”

And she showed the dog with his throat cut and lying stiff.

Ulenspiegel thought at once of the treasure; he ran to it. The hole was empty and the earth strewed far about.

Leaping on Katheline and beating her:

“Where are the carolus?” he said.

“Aye, aye, a great portent!” replied Katheline.

Nele, defending her mother, cried out:

“Mercy and pity, Ulenspiegel!”

He ceased to strike. Soetkin then showed herself and asked what was the matter. [230]

Ulenspiegel showed her the dog killed and the hole empty. Soetkin went white and said:

“Thou dost smite me cruelly, Lord God. My poor feet!”

And she said that because of the agony she had in them and the torment borne in vain for the gold carolus. Nele, seeing Soetkin so gentle, fell in despair and wept; Katheline, waving a piece of parchment, said:

“Aye, a great portent. Last night he came, kindly and goodly. No longer was there on his face that livid glow that gave me so much affright. He spoke to me with a great tenderness. I was ravished with joy, my heart melted within me. He said to me, ‘Now I am rich, and will before long bring thee a thousand florins.’ ‘Aye,’ said I, ‘I am more glad for thy sake than for mine, Hanske, my darling.’ ‘But hast thou not here,’ he asked, ‘some other person thou lovest and whom I might make rich?’ ‘Nay,’ I replied, ‘those that be here have no need of thee.’ ‘Thou art proud,’ said he, ‘are then Soetkin and Ulenspiegel rich?’ ‘They live with no help from their neighbours,’ I replied. ‘In spite of the confiscation?’ said he. To which I answered that you had endured the torture rather than allow your money to be taken. ‘I was not without knowledge of that,’ said he. And he began, laughing quiet and low, to jeer at the bailiff and the sheriffs, for that they had not been able to make you confess. Then I laughed equally. ‘They had not been so silly,’ said he, ‘as to hide their treasure in their house.’ I laughed. ‘Nor in the cellar, here.’ ‘No, no,’ said I. ‘Nor in the garden?’ I made no reply. ‘Ah,’ said he, ‘it would be too much of an imprudence.’ ‘Not much,’ said I, ‘for neither the [231]water nor the wall will speak.’ And he continued to laugh.

“Last night he went away sooner than usual, after giving me a powder with which, said he, I could go to the finest of sabbaths. I brought him, in my linen, to the garden gate, and I was all overcome with sleep. I went, as he had said, to the sabbath, and came back only at daybreak, when I found myself here, and saw the dog dead and the hole empty. That is a very heavy blow for me, who loved him so tenderly and gave him my soul. But you shall have all I have, and I shall work with my feet and my hands to maintain you.”

“I am the corn under the millstone: God and a robber devil strike me at the same time,” said Soetkin.

“Robber, do not say so,” rejoined Katheline; “he is a devil, a devil. And for proof, I will show you the parchment he left in the yard; there is written upon it: ‘Never forget to do my service. In thrice two weeks and five days I shall return thee the twofold of the treasure. Have no doubt, else thou shalt die.’ And he will keep his word, I am convinced and sure.”

“Poor witless one!” said Soetkin.

And that was her last word of reproach.



The two weeks having thrice passed by and the five days as well, the lover devil never came back. And still Katheline lived without despairing of it.

Soetkin, never working now, remained continually in front of the fire, coughing and bent. Nele gave her the best and most fragrant herbs: but no remedy had power upon her. Ulenspiegel never left the [232]cottage, fearing that Soetkin might die while he was abroad.

Then it came that the widow could neither eat nor drink without vomiting. The barber surgeon came and bled her; the blood being taken from her, she was so weak that she could not leave her stool. At length, withered up with sorrow and pain, she said one evening:

“Claes, my husband! Thyl, my son! I thank thee, God who takest me away!”

And she died on a sigh.

Katheline not daring to watch by her, Ulenspiegel and Nele did it together, and all night long they prayed for the dead woman.

At dawn there entered by the open window a swallow.

Nele said:

“The bird of souls, ’tis a good omen: Soetkin is in heaven.”

The swallow flew round the chamber thrice and went off with a cry.

Then there entered a second swallow, bigger and blacker than the other. It circled around Ulenspiegel, and he said:

“Father and Mother, the ashes beat against my breast, I shall do what ye ask.”

And the second went away crying shrill like the first. The day showed brighter; Ulenspiegel saw thousands of swallows skimming the meadows, and the sun arose.

And Soetkin was buried in the field of the poor.



After Soetkin’s death, Ulenspiegel, dreamy, sorrowful, or angry, wandered about the kitchen, hearing [233]nothing, taking what food or drink was given him, without choosing. And he often rose at night.

In vain did Nele with her soft voice exhort him to hope. Vainly did Katheline tell him that she knew Soetkin was in paradise with Claes. To all Ulenspiegel replied:

“The ashes are beating.”

And he was as a man distraught, and Nele wept to see him in this plight.

Meanwhile, the fishmonger remained in his house alone like a parricide, and dared not go forth save by night; for men and women, passing near him, hooted him and called him murderer, and children fled before him, for they had been told that he was the executioner. He wandered alone and solitary, not daring to go into any of the three taverns of Damme; for he was pointed at in them, and if he merely remained standing for a minute inside, the drinkers went away.

Hence it came that the baesen wished not to see him again, and if he presented himself, shut their door to him. Then the fishmonger would offer a humble remonstrance: they would reply that it was their right and not their obligation to sell.

Tired of the struggle, the fishmonger used to go to drink in ’t Roode Valck, at the Red Falcon, a little wine shop away from the town on the edge of the Sluys Canal. There they served him; for they were grubbing folk to whom any money was welcome. But the baes of the Roode Valck never spoke a word to him nor did his wife. There were two children and a dog in the house: when the fishmonger would have caressed the children, they ran away; and when he called the dog, the dog tried to bite him. [234]

One evening Ulenspiegel stood on the threshold: Mathyssens the cooper, seeing him so pensive and dreaming, said to him:

“You should work with your hands and forget this sad blow.”

Ulenspiegel answered:

“The ashes of Claes beat against my breast.”

“Ah,” said Mathyssens, “he leads a sadder life than thou, the wretched fishmonger. No man speaks to him, and everyone flees from him, so that he is driven to go among the poor ragamuffins at the Roode Valck to drink his quart of bruinbier by himself. ’Tis a sore punishment.”

“The ashes beat!” said Ulenspiegel again.

That same evening, while the clock on Notre Dame was striking the ninth hour, Ulenspiegel went towards the Roode Valck, and seeing that the fishmonger was not there, he went wandering under the trees on the edge of the canal. The moon was shining bright and clear.

He saw the murderer coming.

As he passed before him, he could see him near at hand, and heard him say, speaking aloud like those who live alone:

“Where have they hidden these carolus?”

“Where the devil has found them,” answered Ulenspiegel striking him full in the face with his fist.

“Alas!” said the fishmonger, “I know thee who thou art, thou art the son. Have pity, I am old and weak. What I did, it was not for hate, but to serve His Majesty. Deign to pardon me. I wilt give thee back the furniture I purchased, thou wilt not have to pay me one single patard for it. Is not that enough? [235]I paid seven gold florins for them. Thou shalt have all and a demi-florin to boot, for I am not rich, it must not be imagined.”

And he would have gone on his knees before him.

Ulenspiegel, seeing him so ugly, so trembling, and so cowardly and mean, flung him into the canal.

And he went away.



On the doomfires smoked the fat of the victims. Ulenspiegel, thinking of Claes and Soetkin, wept in solitude.

One night he went to find Katheline and ask her for a remedy and for vengeance.

She was alone with Nele sewing beside the lamp. At the noise he made on coming within, Katheline dully lifted up her head like a woman awakened out of a heavy slumber.

He said to her:

“The ashes of Claes beat upon my breast; I would fain save the land of Flanders. I asked the Great God of heaven and earth, but He gave me no answer.”

Katheline said:

“The Great God could not hear you: first you must address yourself to the spirits of the elemental world, which being of double nature, celestial and terrestrial, receive the complaints of poor humankind, and transmit them to the angels, which after bear them to the throne.”

“Help me,” said he, “in my design; I will pay thee with my blood if need be.”

Replied Katheline:

“I will help thee, if a girl that loveth thee would [236]bring thee with her to the sabbath of the Spirits of the Springtide, which is the Easter of the Sap.”

“I will bring him,” said Nele.

Katheline poured into a crystal goblet a grayish coloured mixture of which she gave them both to drink; with this mixture she rubbed their temples, their nostrils, palms of the hand and wrists, made them swallow a pinch of a white powder, and bade them look at the other, that their two souls might become as but one.

Ulenspiegel looked at Nele, and the kind soft eyes of the girl lit up a great fire within him; then by reason of the mixture he felt as it might have been a thousand crabs tearing at him.

Then they took off their clothes, and they were beautiful thus in the lamplight, he in his proud strength, she in her delicious grace; but they could not see one another, for already they were as though in sleep. Then Katheline laid Nele’s neck upon Ulenspiegel’s arm, and taking his hand put it upon the maiden’s heart.

And they remained thus naked and lying one beside the other.

It seemed to them twain that their bodies touching each other were of fire soft as the sun in the month of roses.

They rose up, as they told later, mounted upon the window sill, launched themselves thence into void space, and felt the air bear them up as the water bears the ships.

Then they perceived nothing any more, neither the earth where poor men were sleeping, nor the heavens where but now the clouds were rolling beneath their [237]feet. And they set their feet on Sirius, the Cold Star. Then from there they were cast upon the pole.

There they saw, not without fear, a naked giant, the Giant Winter, with tawny hair, seated upon ice mounds and against a wall of ice. In shallow pools bears and seals were moving hither and thither, a bellowing flock, all about him. In a hoarse voice, he called up hail and snow and cold floods and gray clouds and red and foul-smelling fogs, and the winds, among which the bitter north wind hath the strongest blast. And all raged together at once in this deadly place.

Smiling upon these horrors, the giant was lying upon a bed of flowers faded by his hand, upon leaves withered at his breath. Then leaning over and scratching the earth with his nails, biting it with his teeth, he delved a hole to seek for the heart of the earth; to devour it, and also to put black coal in the place where shady forests were, straw where the corn was, sand in the room of the fertile earth. But the heart of the earth being of fire, he dared not touch it and recoiled abashed and afraid.

He was throned like a king, draining his cup of oil, in the midst of his bears and his seals, and of the skeleton bones of all those whom he had killed upon the sea, upon land, and in the cottages of poor folk. He listened with delight to the roaring of the bears, the bellowing of the seals, and the dry rattling of the bones of the skeletons of men and beasts under the claws of vultures and ravens seeking a last rag of flesh on them, and the sound of ice lumps dashed one against the other by the gloomy water.

And the voice of the giant was like the roar of hurricanes, the clamour of wintry storms, and the wind howling in chimneys. [238]

“I am acold and am afeard,” said Ulenspiegel.

“He hath no power against spirits,” answered Nele.

Suddenly there was a great stir among the seals, which dashed in haste into the water, the bears, which laying their ears flat with fright, roared lamentably, and the ravens, which lost themselves in the clouds with agonized croakings.

And lo, Nele and Ulenspiegel heard the dull thudding blows of a ram upon the wall of ice that served as a support to the Giant Winter. And the wall split and cracked and shook to and fro on its foundations.

But the Giant Winter heard nothing, and he went on howling and shouting in glee, filling and draining his cup of oil; and he went on searching for the heart of the earth to freeze it, and not daring to lay hold of it.

Meantime, the blows reëchoed louder and harder, and the wall cracked more and more, and the rain of icicles flying in splintered pieces ceased not to fall about him.

And the bears roared lamentably and without ceasing, and the seals complained in the leaden gloomy water.

The wall crumbled and fell, and it became light in the sky; a man descended therefrom, naked and beautiful, leaning one hand upon a golden axe. And this man was Lucifer, King Springtide.

When the giant beheld him, he flung far away his cup of oil, and implored him not to slay him.

And at the warm breath of King Springtide, the Giant Winter lost all strength. Then the king took chains of diamonds, bound him with these, and tied him to the pole.

Then staying, he uttered a cry, but a tender, amorous [239]cry. And from the sky came down a blonde woman, naked and beautiful. Placing herself beside the king, she said to him:

“Thou art my vanquisher, mighty man.”

He made answer:

“If thou art an-hungered, eat; if thou art athirst, drink; if thou art afraid, come close to me: I am thy male and thy mate.”

“I am,” said she, “hungry and athirst only for thee.”

The king shouted yet again seven times terribly. And there was a mighty din of thunder and lightning, and behind him there took shape a canopy of suns and of stars. And the twain sat them down upon thrones.

Then the king and the woman, without a movement of their noble faces, and without a gesture impairing their might and their calm majesty, cried aloud.

At these cries there was an undulating movement in the earth, the hard stone and the ice floes. And Nele and Ulenspiegel heard a noise such as might be made by gigantic birds seeking to break the shell of enormous eggs with blows of their beak.

And in this huge movement of the earth which rose and fell like the waves of the sea there were shapes like the shape of an egg.

Suddenly from everywhere came forth trees with their dry branches dovetailed and interlocked together, while their boles moved, swaying like drunken men. Then they drew apart, leaving between them a huge void space. From the stirring soil came forth the genii of the earth; from the deeps of the forest the woodland spirits; from the sea near by the genii of the water. [240]

Ulenspiegel and Nele saw there the dwarfs that are the wardens of treasure, hunchbacked, hairy, clumsy-foot, ugly and grinning, princes of the stones, men of the woods living like trees, and, by way of mouth and stomach, having a tuft of roots at the lower part of their face, thus to suck up their food from the bosom of the earth; the emperors of mines, who cannot speak, have neither heart nor entrails, and move like bright automatons. There, too, were dwarfs of flesh and bone, with lizard tails, toads’ heads, and lantern for headgear, who leap by night upon the shoulders of drunken men afoot or timid travellers, leap down again and waving their lantern, lead into pools and bogholes the poor devils who imagine that this lantern is the candle burning in their homes.

There, too, were the flower-maidens, flowers of feminine strength and haleness, naked and not blushing, proud of their beauty, having for their only cloak their hair.

Their eyes shone with the wet lustre of mother of pearl in water; the flesh of their bodies was firm, white, and gilded by the light; from their red mouths partly open came a breath more sweet and fragrant than jasmine.

These are they that wander by eventide in parks and gardens, or in the deeps of the woods, in shady bridle ways, amorous and seeking some human soul to enjoy it. So soon as passeth before them a young man and a young maid, they seek to slay the maid, but when they cannot, they breathe into the sweetling, still reluctant, desires of love so that she may yield herself to the lover; for then the flower-maiden hath half of the kisses. [241]

Ulenspiegel and Nele saw also coming down from the high heavens the guardian spirits of the stars, the genii of the winds, of the breeze and the rain, winged young men that make the earth fertile.

Then in every quarter of the sky appeared the birds of souls, the dear swallows. When they were come, the light appeared stronger. Flower-maids, princes of the stones, emperors of the mines, men of the woods, spirits of the water, of fire, and of the earth all cried out in unison: “Light! Sap! Glory to King Springtide!”

Although the sound of their unanimous outcry was greater than that of the raging sea, the thunder, and the unleashed tempest, it sounded as solemn music in the ears of Nele and of Ulenspiegel, who, silent and motionless, remained huddled together behind the rugged trunk of an oak tree.

But they were still more affrighted when the spirits, thousands upon thousands, took their places upon seats that were immense spiders, toads with elephants, trunks, interlacing serpents, crocodiles standing up on their tails and holding a band of spirits in their jaws, serpents carrying more than thirty dwarfs, both men and women, seated astraddle on their undulating bodies, and full a hundred thousand insects bigger than Goliaths, armed with swords, spears, jagged scythes, forks with seven tines, and every other kind of dreadful murdering implements. They fought together with tremendous din, the strong devouring the weak, growing fat upon them, and showing thus that Death is made from Life and that Life is made from Death.

And from among this crowd of spirits, swarming, shifting, dense, confused, there arose a noise like low [242]thunder and a hundred weavers’ looms, fullers and locksmiths all working together.

Suddenly appeared the spirits of the sap, short, squat, round about the loins as big as the great Heidelberg tun, with thighs as big as hogsheads, and muscles so marvellously strong and powerful that one would have said their bodies were made up of large eggs and small eggs joined to one another and covered with a red, oily skin, shining like their sparse beard and their red hair; and they carried enormous tankards filled with a strange liquor.

When the other spirits beheld them coming, a great tremor of joy ran among them; trees and plants moved and shook, and the earth opened up in cracks to drink.

And the spirits of the sap poured out the wine: and all things incontinently budded, were green, flourished; the sward was full of whispering insects, and the sky of birds and butterflies; the spirits poured on and on, and those below received the wine as best they might: the flower-maids, opening their mouths or leaping up upon their red cupbearers, and kissing them to have more; some, clasping their hands in sign of entreaty; others who, in ecstasy, let it rain over them; but all greedy or parched, flying, standing, running or motionless, seeking to have the wine, and more intensely alive with every drop they attained to receiving. And there were no oldsters there, but ugly or goodly, all were full of prime strength and keenest youth.

And they laughed, shouted, sang, pursuing one another upon the trees like squirrels, in the air like birds, every male seeking his female and under the skies of God falling to the holy deed of kind.

And the spirits of the sap brought to the king and the [243]queen the great cup full of their wine. And the king and the queen drank and embraced one another.

Then the king, holding the queen in his arm, cast upon the trees, the flowers and the spirits, the dregs of his cup and cried aloud:

“Glory to Life! Glory to the free Air! Glory to Force!”

And all shouted:

“Glory to Nature! Glory to Force!”

And Ulenspiegel took Nele into his arms. Thus enlaced, a dance began: a round circling dance like a dance of leaves that a whirlwind swings together, where all was in motion, trees, plants, insects, butterflies, heaven and earth, king and queen, flower-maidens, emperors of mines, princes of stones, spirits of the waters, hunchback dwarfs, men of the woods, lantern bearers, guardian spirits of the stars, and the hundred thousand horrific insects mingling their spears, their saw-edged scythes, their seven-pronged forks; a giddy dance, swaying about in space and filling it, a dance in which the sun, the moon, the planets, the stars, the wind, the clouds, all took part.

And the oak to which Nele and Ulenspiegel were clinging rolled with the whirl, and Ulenspiegel said to Nele:

“Dear one, we are about to die.”

A spirit heard them and saw that they were mortals:

“Mankind,” he bawled, “mankind in this place!”

And he wrenched them from the tree and flung them in the crowd.

And Ulenspiegel and Nele fell soft and limp on the backs of the spirits, which bandied them about from one to another, saying: [244]

“Hail to mankind! Welcome be the earth worms! Who would have the lad and lass? They come to visit us, the puny things.”

And Ulenspiegel and Nele flew from one to another, crying:


But the spirits paid no heed, and both went fluttering, legs in air, head down, turning and circling like feathers in the winter winds, while the spirits said:

“Glory to the manlings male and female, let them dance like us!”

The flower-maidens, wishing to sever Nele from Ulenspiegel, smote her and would have killed her, had not King Springtide, staying the dance with a gesture, cried out:

“Let these two lice be brought before me!”

And they were separated one from the other; and each flower-maiden said, endeavouring to take Ulenspiegel from her rivals:

“Thyl, wouldst thou not die for me?”

“I will do so in a moment,” said Ulenspiegel.

And the dwarf wood sprites that were carrying Nele said:

“Why art thou not a spirit like us, that we might take thee to us!”

Nele answered:

“Have patience.”

Thus they arrived before the king’s throne; and they trembled sore seeing his golden axe and his iron crown.

And he said to them:

“What are ye come hither to do, ye puny things?”

They made no answer. [245]

“I know thee, witches’ shoot,” added the King, “and thee too, sprout of the coalman; but having by the power of spells achieved the deed of penetrating to this laboratory of Nature, why have ye now your beaks locked like capons stuffed with crumb?”

Nele trembled, looking at the terrible demon; but Ulenspiegel, recovering his manly hardihood, replied:

“The ashes of Claes beat upon my heart. Divine Highness, death goeth throughout the land of Flanders, mowing down, in the Pope’s name, the strongest men, the sweetest women; her privileges are destroyed, her charters abolished, famine gnaweth her, her weavers and cloth merchants leave her to go to the foreigner seeking freedom for their work. She will die soon if no one comes to her help. Highness, I am but a poor mean fellow come into the world like any other, who have lived as I could, imperfect, limited, ignorant, not virtuous, in no wise chaste or deserving of any favour human or divine. But Soetkin died of the effects of the torture and her grief, but Claes burned in a terrible fire, and I was minded to avenge them, and did so once; I was minded also to see this poor soil happier, this poor soil in which their bones are sown, and I asked God for the death of the persecutors, but he did not hearken to me nor heed me. Weary and sick of complaints, I evoked thee by the potency of Katheline’s spell, and we come, I and my trembling she-comrade, to thy feet, to ask you, Divine Highnesses, to save this poor earth.”

The king and his spouse replied together:

“Through war and through fire

Through death, through the sword.

Seek the Seven.


“In death and blood

In ruin and tears,

Find the Seven.

“Foul, cruel, bad, deformed,

Mere Scourge of the poor earth.

Burn the Seven.

“Wait, hear and see!

Say, wretch, art thou not glad?

Find the Seven.”

And all the spirits fell to chanting in unison:

“In death and blood,

In ruin and tears

Find the Seven.

“Wait, hear and see!

Say, wretch, art thou not glad?

Find the Seven.”

“But,” said Ulenspiegel, “Highness, and ye, spirits, I understand not your talk. Ye make a mock of me, sans doubt.”

But without heeding him they said:

“When the North

Shall kiss the West

Ruin shall end;

Find thou the Seven

The Girdle find!”

And that with so tremendous a chorus and so terrifically loud, strong, and sonorous that the earth trembled and the heavens shivered. And the birds whistling, the owls bubbling, the sparrows twittering in [247]affright, the sea eagles complaining, all flew round aghast. And the beasts of the earth, lions, serpents, bears, stags, bucks, wolves, dogs, and cats roared, hissed, belled, howled, barked, and mewed terribly.

And the spirits chanted:

“Wait, hear and see,

Love thou the Seven

The Girdle love.”

And the cocks crowed, and all the spirits vanished save one malicious emperor of mines who seizing Ulenspiegel and Nele each by an arm, hurled them brutally out into the void.

They found themselves lying beside each other, as though for sleep, and they shivered in the keen wind of the morning.

And Ulenspiegel saw the delicious body of Nele all gilded in the sun that was then rising. [249]


Book II



On that morning, which was in September, Ulenspiegel took his stick, three florins that Katheline gave him, a piece of pig’s liver, and a slice of bread, and set out from Damme, going in the direction of Antwerp, seeking the Seven. Nele was sleeping.

As he journeyed, he was followed by a dog that came sniffing about him because of the liver, and leaped up on his legs. Ulenspiegel would have driven him away, and seeing that the dog was determined to follow him, addressed this discourse to him:

“Doggie, my dear, thou art but ill advised to leave the home where good messes await thee, delicious scraps, and bones full of marrow, to follow upon the road of adventure a vagabond fellow who mayhap will not always have even roots to give thee for thy food. Be guided by me, dog of no prudence, and go back to thine own baes. Avoid the rains, snows, hails, drizzles, mists, hoarfrosts, and other lean fare that fall upon the wanderer’s back. Stay in the corner of the hearth, keeping thyself snug and warm, rolled up into a ball before the gay fire; leave me to walk in the mud, the dust, the cold, and the heat, roasted to-day, to-morrow frozen, feasted on Friday, famished on Sunday. Thou wilt do a sensible thing if thou dost return whence thou comest, dogling of small experience.” [252]

The animal did not appear to hear Ulenspiegel at all. Wagging his tail and leaping all he could, he went barking for appetite’s sake. Ulenspiegel thought it was for friendliness, but he never thought of the liver he carried in his satchel.

He walked on; the dog followed him. Having thus gone more than a league, they saw in the road a cart drawn by an ass hanging its head. Upon a bank on the roadside there sat, between two clumps of thistles, a big man holding in one hand a knuckle bone of mutton, which he was gnawing, and in the other a flask whose juice he was draining. When he was not in the act of eating or of drinking, he whimpered and wept.

Ulenspiegel having stopped, the dog stopped likewise. Smelling the mutton and the liver, he climbed up the bank. There, sitting on his hindquarters beside the man, he pawed his doublet, that he might share the feast, but the man, repulsing him with an elbow and holding the knuckle bone high in air, groaned lamentably. The dog imitated him for greedy longing. The ass, cross to find himself harnessed to the cart, and so unable to reach the thistles, began to bray.

“What wouldst thou have, Jan?” asked the man of his ass.

“Nothing,” answered Ulenspiegel, “except that he would fain breakfast on these thistles that flourish beside you as they grow on the roodscreen of Tessenderloo beside and above Monseigneur Christ. That dog, too, would not be grieved to effect a wedlock of jaws with the bone you have there; in the meanwhile, I am going to give him the liver I have here.”

The liver having been devoured by the dog, the man looked at his bone picked it again to have the meat [253]that still remained on it, then he gave it thus denuded of flesh to the dog, who, setting his forepaws on it, began to crunch it on the grass.

Then the man looked at Ulenspiegel.

The latter knew Lamme Goedzak, of Damme.

“Lamme,” he said, “what dost thou here drinking, eating, and whimpering? What trooper can have rudely dressed down your ears?”

“Alas! my wife!” said Lamme.

He was on the point of emptying his wine flask, when Ulenspiegel put his hand on his arm.

“Do not drink in this fashion,” said he, “for drinking precipitately doth no benefit save to the kidneys. It were better if this belonged to him that hath no bottle.”

“You say well,” said Lamme, “but will you drink any better?” And he proffered him the flask.

Ulenspiegel took it, lifted up his elbow, then, returning the flask:

“Call me Spaniard,” said he, “if there is enough left to moisten a sparrow.”

Lamme looked at the flask, and without ceasing to whine, groped in his satchel, pulled out another flask and a piece of sausage which he began to cut in slices and chew in melancholy fashion.

“Dost thou never stop eating, Lamme?” asked Ulenspiegel.

“Often, my son,” replied Lamme, “but it is to drive away my mournful thoughts. Where art thou, wife?” said he, wiping away a tear.

And he cut off ten slices of sausage.

“Lamme,” said Ulenspiegel, “do not eat so fast and without a thought of compassion for the poor pilgrim.” [254]

Lamme, still weeping, gave him four slices and Ulenspiegel eating them was moved and softened by their delicious flavour.

But Lamme, weeping and eating without ceasing, said:

“My wife, my good, dear wife! How sweet and shapely she was of her body, light as a butterfly, bright and swift as lightning, singing like a lark! Too well, however, loved she to clothe herself with fine adornments. Alas! they became her so well! But the flowers themselves have also a rich array. If you had seen, my son, her little hands so light for caressing, never would you have allowed them to touch pan or pot. The kitchen fire would have blackened their colour that was clear and bright as the day itself. And what eyes! I melted with love merely to look at them.—Take a draught of wine. I shall drink after you. Ah! if only she be not dead! Thyl, I kept all the work of my house for myself, so as to spare her the smallest task; I swept the house, I made the nuptial bed on which she lay down at night weary with idleness and comfort; I washed the dishes and the linen which I ironed myself.—Eat, Thyl, it is from Ghent, this sausage.—Often having gone out a walking she came back late for dinner, but it was so great a joy for me to see her that I never ventured to scold her, happy when, pouting, she did not turn her back to me at night. I have lost all.—Drink of this wine, it is a Brussels vintage, made in the same way as Burgundy.”

“Why did she go away?” asked Ulenspiegel.

“Do I know that, I?” went on Lamme Goedzak. “Where are the days when I used to go to her home, [255]hoping to marry her, and she fled from me for love or fear? If she had her arms bare, lovely round white arms, and saw me looking at them, all at once she would pull down her sleeves over them. At other times she would give herself to my caresses, and I could kiss her lovely eyes, which she shut for me, and the wide firm nape of her neck; then she would shiver, utter little cries, and throwing her head back, hit my nose with it. And she would laugh when I said ‘oh!’ and I would beat her in lover fashion, and there was nothing between us but games and laughter.—Thyl, is there any wine still left in the flask?”

“Aye,” said Ulenspiegel.

Lamme drank and went on with his discourse:

“At other times, more loving, she would fling both arms about my neck and say to me, ‘How handsome you are!’ and she would kiss me gamesomely and a hundred times together, on my cheek or my forehead but never on the mouth, and when I asked her whence came this great reserve in so extended a license, she went running to take from a tankard on a chest a doll clad in silk and pearls, and said, shaking and dandling it: ‘I don’t want this.’ Doubtless her mother, to keep her virtue safe, had told her that babies are made by the mouth. Ah! sweet moments! tender caresses! Thyl, see if you cannot find a little ham in the pouch of this bag.”

“Half of one,” replied Ulenspiegel, giving it to Lamme, who ate it all every bit.

Ulenspiegel watched him doing so, and said:

“This ham doth me great good in my stomach.”

“To me also,” said Lamme, picking his teeth with his nails. “But I shall never again see my darling; [256]she has fled from Damme; would you seek her with me in my cart?”

“I will,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“But,” said Lamme, “is there nothing at all left in the flask?”

“Nothing at all,” answered Ulenspiegel.

And they got up into the cart, drawn by the donkey, who sounded in melancholy wise the bray of departure.

As for the dog, he had gone off, well fed and filled, without saying a word.



While the cart rolled along upon a dyke between the canal and a pond, Ulenspiegel, in deep thought, caressed the ashes of Claes on his breast. He asked himself if the vision was false or true, if those spirits had mocked him or if they had by riddles told him what in good sooth he must find to make the land of his fathers happy.

Vainly groping for the interpretation, he could not discover what the Seven and the Girdle meant.

Thinking upon the dead Emperor, the living King, the Lady Governor, the Pope of Rome, the Grand Inquisitor, the General of the Jesuits, he found in these six great tormentors of the country whom he would gladly have burned alive. But he thought it was not they, for they were too easy to burn, so the Seven must be elsewhere.

And in his own mind he was always repeating:

When the North

Shall kiss the West,

Ruin shall end,

Love thou the Seven,

The Girdle Love.


“Alas!” said he to himself, “in death, blood, and tears, find seven, burn seven, love seven! My poor wit fails, for who then burns what he loves?”

The cart having already swallowed up a long stretch of the road, they heard a noise of feet on the sandy earth, and a voice singing:

“Good travellers, saw you him, I pray,

My wild lost lover gone astray?

He roams at random here and there,

Saw you him, pray?

“As lamb by eagle of the air

He bore my heedless heart away:

A man whose face shows little hair.

Saw you him, pray?

“When he is met, that Nele with care

And toil is very weary, say,

Beloved Thyl, where dost delay?

Saw you him, pray?

“Does he not know the dove’s despair

What time her mate abroad doth stay?

Much more a faithful heart must bear.

Saw you him, pray?”

Ulenspiegel smote upon Lamme’s paunch and said to him:

“Hold thy breath, big belly.”

“Alas!” answered Lamme, “that is a hard thing for a man of my corpulence!”

But Ulenspiegel, paying him no heed, hid behind the [258]tilt of the cart, and imitating the voice of a wheezy fellow lilting after drinking, he sang:

“Thy wild lover I saw, I say,

Within an old worm-eaten shay

Beside a glutton one fine day,

I saw, I say.”

“Thyl,” said Lamme, “thou hast an ill tongue this morning.”

Ulenspiegel, without listening to him, thrust his head out through the opening of the tilt and said:

“Nele, do you not know me?”

She, seized with fear, weeping and laughing at the same time, for her cheeks were all wet, said to him:

“I see you, nasty traitor!”

“Nele,” said Ulenspiegel, “if you want to beat me I have a yard stick in here. It is heavy to make the strokes sink well in and knotty to make them leave their mark.”

“Thyl,” said Nele, “art thou going towards the Seven?”

“Aye,” answered Ulenspiegel.

Nele was carrying a satchel that looked ready to burst; it was so full.

“Thyl,” she said, holding it up to him, “I thought it was unwholesome for a man to travel without taking with him a good fat goose, a ham, and Ghent sausages. And you must eat this in remembrance of me.”

As Ulenspiegel was looking at Nele and not at all thinking of taking the satchel, Lamme thrust out his head through another hole in the canvas and said: [259]

“Forethinking damsel, if he does not accept, it is but in forgetfulness; but give me that ham, give me that goose, tender me those sausages; I shall keep them for him.”

“What,” said Nele, “is this good moonface?”

“That,” said Ulenspiegel, “is a victim of marriage, who, devoured by sorrow, would wither away like an apple in the oven, if he did not recuperate his strength with constant nourishment.”

“Thou hast said the truth, son,” sighed Lamme.

The sun, which was shining strong, burned and scorched Nele’s head. She covered herself up with her apron. Wishing to be alone with her, Ulenspiegel said to Lamme:

“Seest thou that woman wandering yonder in the meadow?”

“I see her,” said Lamme.

“Dost thou recognize her?”

“Ah, me!” said Lamme, “could it be my wife? She is not clad like a townswoman.”

“Thou doubtest still, blind mole,” said Ulenspiegel.

“If it were not she?” said Lamme.

“Thou wouldst lose nothing by going; on the left there, towards the north, there is a kaberdoesje where thou wilt find good bruinbier. We shall go thither to join thee. And here is ham to salt thy natural thirst withal.”

Lamme, getting out of the cart, ran quickly towards the woman that was in the meadow.

Ulenspiegel said to Nele:

“Why do you not come beside me?”

Then, helping her to get up into the cart, he made her sit beside him, took the apron from about her head [260]and the cloak from her shoulders: then giving her a hundred kisses, he said:

“Whither wert thou going, my beloved?”

She answered no word, but she seemed all entranced in ecstasy. And Ulenspiegel, transported even as she, said to her:

“So thou art here, indeed! The sweetbriar roses in the hedges have not the lovely redness of your fresh skin. You are no queen, but let me make you a crown of kisses. Darling arms, all soft, all rosy, that Love himself made all on purpose for kissing! Ah, beloved maid, will not my rugged man’s hands wither that shoulder? The light butterfly settles on the crimson carnation, but can I rest on your dazzling whiteness without withering it, clumsy lout that I am? God is in his heaven, the king upon his throne, and the sun is aloft, triumphing; but am I God, the king, or sunlight, to be so near you? Oh, hair softer than flossy silk! Nele, I strike, I rend, I tear to pieces! But do not be afraid, my love. Thy darling little foot! How comes it to be so white! Has it been bathed in milk?”

She would fain have risen.

“What fearest thou?” said Ulenspiegel. “’Tis not the sun that shineth on us and paints thee all in gold. Lower not thine eyes. See in mine what a lovely fire he lighteth there. Listen, beloved; hear, my darling; it is the silent hour of noon; the peasant is in his home feeding on his soup, shall not we feed upon love? Why have not I a thousand years to pluck one by one on thy knees like a string of pearls from the Indies!”

“Golden tongue!” said she. [261]

And Master Sun blazed through the white canvas of the cart, and a lark sang above the clover, and Nele drooped her head upon Ulenspiegel’s shoulder.



Meanwhile Lamme came back sweating big drops of perspiration, and puffing and blowing like a dolphin.

“Alas!” he said, “I was born under an ill star. After I had to run hard to come up with that woman, who was not my wife and who was old, I saw by her face that she was full forty-five years of age, and by her headdress that she had never been married. She asked me tartly what I was coming to do among the clover with my paunch.

“‘I am looking for my wife, who has left me,’ I replied with all gentleness, ‘and taking you for her, I came hastening towards you.’

“At that word the old maid told me I had nothing to do but to go back whence I had come, and that if my wife had left me, she had done right, seeing that all men were scoundrels, heretics, disloyal, poisoners, deceiving poor maids despite even their ripe years, and that anyhow she would make her dog eat me if I did not make myself scarce as quickly as possible.

“I did so, though not without apprehension; for I could see a huge mastiff lying growling at her feet. When I had cleared the boundary of her field, I sat down and to restore myself I bit into your piece of ham you gave me. I was at that moment between two patches of clover; suddenly I heard a noise behind me, and turning round, I saw the old girl’s big [262]mastiff, not threatening now, but wagging his tail to and fro with amiability and appetite. It was my ham he was sharp set against. So I gave him a few little pieces, when his mistress came up, and she cried out:

“‘Seize the fellow! seize him, put your teeth in him, my son!’

“And I started to run, and the big mastiff at my stockings, and he took a piece of them and the flesh with it. But being angered with the pain of this, turning round on him I fetched him such a sour blow of my stick on his front paws that I broke at least one of them for him. He fell, crying out in his dog’s speech ‘mercy,’ which I accorded him. Meanwhile, his mistress was throwing clods of earth at me for want of stones. And I ran.

“Alas! is it not cruel and unjust that because a girl had not enough beauty to find a man to marry her, she should take revenge on poor innocent folk like myself?

“I went away all melancholy to the kaberdoesje that you had pointed out to me, hoping to find there the bruinbier of consolation, were it but one quart or half a dozen. But I was deceived, for when I went within I saw a man and a woman and they fighting. I asked them to be so good as to interrupt their battle to give me a pot of bruinbier, were it one quart or half a dozen; but the woman, a regular stokfisch, in a fury, answered that if I did not be off from there as quickly as possible she would make me swallow the sabot with which she was beating her husband over the head. And so, my friend, here I am, sweating sore and sore wearied. Have you not anything to eat?” [263]

“Aye,” said Ulenspiegel.

“At last!” said Lamme.



Thus re-united, they went on their way together. The donkey, laying back his ears, pulled the cart along.

“Lamme,” said Ulenspiegel, “here be we four food comrades: the ass, the beast of the good God, feeding on chance-found thistles along the meadows; thou, good belly, seeking her that fled from thee; she, sweet girl beloved, tender hearted, finding one that is not worthy of her, I mean myself the fourth.

“Now, then, my children, courage! the leaves are yellowing and the skies will be more gorgeous, for soon will Master Sun go to rest amid the autumnal mists, winter will come, the image and likeness of death, covering with snowy shrouds those that sleep beneath our feet, and I shall be trudging it for the happiness of the land of our fathers. Poor dead ones; Soetkin who didst die of grief; Claes that diedst in the fire; oak of goodness and ivy of love, I, your seedling, I suffer greatly and I shall avenge you, beloved ashes that beat upon my breast.”

Lamme said:

“We must not weep those that die for justice’s sake.”

But Ulenspiegel remained rapt in thought; all at once he said:

“This, Nele, is the hour of farewell, for a long long time, and never again, it may be, shall I look on thy sweet face.”

Nele, looking at him with her eyes gleaming like stars:

“Why,” said she, “why do you not leave this cart to [264]come with me into the forest where you would find good and dainty things to eat; for I know the plants and how to call the birds to me?”

“Damsel,” said Lamme, “’tis ill done of thee to seek to stop Ulenspiegel in the way, for he must look for the Seven and help me to find my wife again.”

“Not yet,” said Nele; and she wept, laughing tenderly through her tears upon her friend Ulenspiegel.

He, seeing this, answered him:

“Your wife, you will always find her soon enough, when you want to seek a new sorrow.”

“Thyl,” said Lamme, “wilt thou leave me thus alone in my cart for this damsel? Thou dost not answer and art thinking of the forest, where the Seven are not, nor my wife, either. Let us rather seek her along this stone paven road on which carts go so well and handily.”

“Lamme,” said Ulenspiegel, “you have a full satchel in the cart, you will not therefore die of hunger if you go without me from here to Koolkerke, where I shall join you again. You must be alone there, for there you will know towards which point of the compass you must direct yourself in order to find your wife again. Listen and hearken. You will go at once with your cart to Koolkerke, three leagues away, the cool church, so named because like many others it is beaten upon by the four winds all at once. Upon the spire there is a vane shapen like a cock and swinging to all the winds on its rusty hinges. It is the screeching of these hinges that indicates to poor men that have lost their lovers the way they must follow to find them again. But first they must strike each wall seven times with a hazel wand. If the hinges cry out when the wind [265]blows from the north, that is the direction in which you must go, but prudently, for the northern wind is a wind of war; if from the south, go lightly thither, it is a love wind; if from the east, run along full speed, it is gaiety and light; if from the west, go softly, it is the wind of rain and tears. Go, Lamme, go to Koolkerke, and wait for me there.”

“I go thither,” said Lamme.

And he set off in his cart.

While Lamme was trundling towards Koolkerke, the wind, which was both high and warm, drove like a flock of sheep in the sky the gray clouds drifting in bands; the trees complained like the waves of a swelling sea. Ulenspiegel and Nele were now a long while in the forest alone together. Ulenspiegel was hungry, and Nele looked for roots that were good to eat, and found nothing but the kisses her friend gave her, and acorns.

Ulenspiegel, having laid down snares, whistled to call the birds down, in order to catch and cook any that might come. A nightingale settled on a leafy branch close to Nele; she did not catch it, for she wished to leave it to sing; a warbler came, and she had pity on it, because it was so pretty and proud in its air; then came a lark, but Nele told it it would do better to fly away into the heights of the sky and sing a hymn to Nature, than to come stupidly to struggle on the murderous point of a spit.

And she said the truth, for in the meantime Ulenspiegel had lighted a clear fire and cut a wooden spit that only awaited its victims.

But no more birds came now, except a few evil ravens that croaked a long way up over their heads. [266]

And so Ulenspiegel did not eat at all.

Now the time had come when Nele must go away and return to Katheline. And she went weeping, and Ulenspiegel from afar off watched her go.

But she came back, and flinging herself on his neck:

“I am going,” she said.

Then she went a few steps, came back again, saying once more:

“I am going.”

And thus twenty times and more over and over.

Then she went indeed, and Ulenspiegel remained alone. He set off then to go and find Lamme.

When he came up with him, he found him sitting at the foot of the tower, with a great pot of bruinbier between his legs and nibbling most melancholy-wise at a hazel wand.

“Ulenspiegel,” said he, “I think you but sent me here that you might be alone with the damsel; I smote as you bade me, seven times with the hazel wand on each wall of the tower, and though the wind is blowing like the devil, the hinges have not made a sound.”

“Without doubt, then, they must have been oiled,” replied Ulenspiegel.

Then they went away in the direction of the Duchy of Brabant.



King Philip, dark and gloomy, dabbled with paper with no respite all day long, and even by night, and scribbled over papers and parchments. To them he confided the thoughts of his hard heart. Loving no man in his life, knowing that no man loved him, fain [267]to bear his immense empire alone, a dolorous Atlas, he bowed beneath the burden. Phlegmatic and melancholy of temperament, his excessive toil devoured his weak body. Detesting every bright or merry face, he had conceived hatred for our country because of its gaiety; for our traders because of their wealth; for our nobles because of their free speech, frank ways and manners, the sanguine mettlesomeness of their gallant joviality. He knew, for he had been told, that long before Cardinal de Cousa had indicted the abuses of the Church and preached the need for reforms, the revolt against the Pope and the Romish Church, having been manifested throughout our country under different kinds of sect, was in every head like boiling water in a tight shut kettle.

Obstinate and mulish, he thought that his will ought to lie heavy on the whole world like the will of God; he desired that our countries, little used to ways of servile obedience, should bow beneath the old yoke without obtaining any reform. He wanted his Holy Mother the Catholic Church, Apostolic and Roman, to be one, entire and universal with neither modification nor change, and with no other grounds for wanting this except that he did want it so. Acting in this like an unreasonable woman, tossing and turning by night on his bed as though a couch of thorns, incessantly tormented by his thoughts.

“Yea, Master Saint Philip, yea, Lord God, were I to be forced to make of the Low Countries a common grave and throw into it all the inhabitants, they shall come back to you, my blessed patron, and to you, Madame Virgin Mary, and to you, all ye Saints of Paradise.” [268]

And he sought to do even as he said, and thus he was more Roman than the Pope and more Catholic than the councils.

And Ulenspiegel and Lamme, and the people of Flanders and the Low Countries, full of anguish, imagined that they could see from far within the gloomy haunt of the Escurial, that crowned spider, with long legs and open claws, spreading out his web to entangle them around and suck the best of their heart’s blood.

Although the Papal Inquisition had, under the reign of Charles, killed at the stake, by burying alive, and by the rope, a hundred thousand Christians; though the goods of the poor condemned folk had found their way into the coffers of the Emperor and the King, as the rain flows into the drain, Philip deemed that it was insufficient; he imposed new bishops upon the country and proposed to introduce into it the Spanish Inquisition.

And the town heralds everywhere read out to the sound of trump and tambourine proclamations decreeing to all heretics, men and women and girls, death by fire to those who did not abjure their error, by the rope to those who should abjure. Women and girls would be buried alive, and the executioner should dance upon their bodies.

And the flame of resistance ran throughout the whole land.



The fifth of April, before Easter Day, the lords Count Louis of Nassau, Culembourg, and Brederode, the Drinking Hercules, entered with three hundred other [269]gentlemen of birth into the Court of Brussels, to the Duchess of Parma, the Lady Governor. Going in ordered ranks of four, they went in this way up the great stair of the palace.

Being in the chamber where Madame was they presented to her a request in which they asked her to seek to obtain from King Philip the rescinding of the proclamations touching upon religion and also of the Spanish Inquisition, declaring that within our roused and discontented country there could result from it only troubles, ruins, and universal distress.

And this request was termed The Compromise.

Berlaymont, who later was so treacherous and so cruel to the land of his fathers, was standing beside Her Highness, and said to her, mocking at the poverty of certain of the confederated nobles:

“Madame, fear nothing, they are nothing but beggars.”

Meaning thus that these nobles had ruined themselves in the king’s service or else in trying to match the Spanish lords by their sumptuous display.

To turn to scorn the speech of the Sieur de Berlaymont, the lords declared afterwards that they “held it an honour to be esteemed and called beggars for the king’s service and the good of these lands.”

They began to wear a gold medallion about their neck, having the king’s effigy on one side and on the other two hands locked and passing through a beggar’s wallet, with these words: “Faithful to the king even unto the beggar’s wallet.” They wore also in their hats and bonnets little gold jewels in the shape of beggars’ bowls and beggars’ hats. [270]

Meanwhile, Lamme was taking his paunch throughout the whole town, looking for his wife and not finding her.



Ulenspiegel said to him one morning:

“Follow me: we are going to pay our respects to a high, noble, powerful, and redoubted personage.”

“Will he tell me where my wife is?” asked Lamme.

“If he knows,” answered Ulenspiegel.

And they went to call on Brederode, the Drinking Hercules. He was in the courtyard of his house.

“What wouldst thou with me?” he asked of Ulenspiegel.

“To speak with you, Monseigneur,” answered Ulenspiegel.

“Speak,” replied Brederode.

“You,” said Ulenspiegel, “are a goodly, valiant, and mighty lord. You strangled, once long ago, a Frenchman within his cuirass like a mussel in its shell: but if you are mighty and valiant, you are also of good counsel. Why, then, do you wear this medal on which I read ‘Faithful to the king even unto the beggar’s wallet?’”

“Aye,” asked Lamme, “why, Monseigneur?”

But Brederode made no reply whatever and looked hard at Ulenspiegel. The latter continued:

“Why are you, you noble lords, fain to be faithful to the king even to the wallet? Is it for the great good he wills you, for the goodly amity he bears you? Why, instead of being faithful to him unto the wallet, why do ye not make it so that the despoiled tormentor of his countries should be ever faithful to the beggar’s wallet?” [271]

And Lamme nodded his head in sign of assent.

Brederode looked at Ulenspiegel with his keen glance and smiled, seeing his friendly open mien.

“If thou art not,” said he, “a spy of King Philip’s, thou art a good Fleming, and I shall reward thee for either case.”

He brought him along, Lamme following, into his office. There, pulling his ear till the blood came:

“That,” he said, “is for the spy.”

Ulenspiegel uttered no cry.

“Bring,” he said to his cellarer, “bring that kettle of wine with cinnamon.”

The cellarer brought the kettle and a great tankard of mulled wine perfuming the air.

“Drink,” said Brederode to Ulenspiegel; “this is for the good Fleming.”

“Ah!” said Ulenspiegel, “good Flemish, lovely cinnamon speech, the saints speak not its like.”

Then having drunk the half of the wine, he passed the other half to Lamme.

“Who is he?” said Brederode, “this big-bellied papzak who is rewarded without having done anything?”

“This,” answered Ulenspiegel, “is my friend Lamme, who every time he drinks wine mulled imagines he is going to find his wife again.”

“Aye,” said Lamme, draining the wine from the tankard with devout zeal.

“Whither go ye as now?” asked Brederode.

“We are going,” answered Ulenspiegel, “in search of the Seven that shall save the land of Flanders.”

“What Seven?” asked Brederode.

“When I have found them, I shall tell you what they are,” answered Ulenspiegel. [272]

But Lamme, all merry disposed from having drunk:

“Thyl,” said he, “if we were to go to the moon to look for my wife?”

“Order the ladder,” answered Ulenspiegel.

In May, the month of greenery, Ulenspiegel said to Lamme:

“Lo the lovely month of May! Ah! the clear sky of blue, the happy swallows; see the branches on the trees ruddy with sap, the earth is in love. ’Tis the moment to hang and burn for religion. They are there, the dear little inquisitors. What noble countenances! They have all power to correct, to punish, to degrade, to hand over to the secular judges, to have their prisons. Ah, the lovely month of May!—to arrest the person, to conduct law suits without adhering to the customary forms of justice, to burn, hang, behead, and dig for poor women and girls the grave of premature death. The finches sing in the trees. The good inquisitors have their eye on the rich. And the king shall be heir. Go, damsels, dance in the meadows to the sound of pipes and shawms. Oh! the lovely month of May!”

The ashes of Claes beat upon the breast of Ulenspiegel.

“Let us on,” he said to Lamme. “Happy they that will keep an upright heart, and the sword aloft in the black days that are to come!”



Ulenspiegel passed, one day in the month of August, in the rue de Flandre at Brussels, before the house of Jean Sapermillemente, so called because his paternal grandsire when angry used to swear in this fashion as so [273]to avoid blaspheming the most holy name of God. The said Sapermillemente was a master broiderer by trade; but having grown deaf and blind by dint of drinking, his wife, an old gossip with a sour face, broidered in his stead the coats, doublets, cloaks, and shoes of the lords. Her pretty young daughter helped her in this well-paid work.

Passing before the aforesaid house in the last hours of daylight, Ulenspiegel saw the girl at the window and heard her crying aloud:

“August, August

Tell me, sweet month,

ho will take me to wife,

Tell me, sweet month?”

“I will,” said Ulenspiegel, “if you like.”

“Thou?” said she. “Come nearer that I may see thee.” But he:

“Whence comes it that you are calling in August what the Brabant girls call on the Eve of March?”

“Those girls,” she said, “have only one month to give them a husband; I have twelve, and on the eve of each, not at midnight but for six hours up to midnight, I jump out of my bed, I take three steps backwards towards the window, I cry what you have heard; then returning, I take three steps backwards towards the bed, and at midnight, going to bed, I fall asleep, dreaming of the husband I shall have. But the months, the sweet months, being mockers by nature, ’tis not of one husband I dream now, but of twelve together; you shall be the thirteenth if you will.”

“The others would be jealous,” answered Ulenspiegel. “You cry also ‘Deliverance’.” [274]

The girl answered, blushing:

“I cry ‘Deliverance’ and know what I ask for.”

“I know, too, and I am bringing it to you,” answered Ulenspiegel.

“You must wait,” said she, smiling and showing her white teeth.

“Wait,” said Ulenspiegel, “nay. A house may fall on my head, a gust of wind might blow me into a ditch, a mad pug might bite me in the leg; nay, I shall not wait.”

“I am too young,” said she, “and only cry this for custom’s sake.”

Ulenspiegel became suspicious, thinking that it is on the Eve of March and not of the corn month that the Brabant girls cry to have a husband.

She said, smiling:

“I am too young and only cry this for the sake of the old custom.”

“Will you wait till you are too old?” answered Ulenspiegel. “That is bad arithmetic. Never have I seen a neck so round, or whiter breasts, Flemish breasts full of that good milk that makes men.”

“Full?” said she, “not yet, Traveller in a hurry.”

“Wait,” repeated Ulenspiegel. “Must I have no teeth left to eat you raw with, darling? You do not answer, you smile with your eyes clear brown and your lips red as cherries.”

The girl, looking craftily at him, replied:

“Why dost thou love me so quickly? What is thy trade? Art thou beggar, art thou rich?”

“A beggar,” said he, “am I, and rich at the same time, if you give me your darling self.”

She replied: [275]

“That is not what I want to know. Dost thou go to mass? Art thou a good Christian? Where dost thou dwell? Wouldst thou dare to say that thou art a Beggar, a true blue Beggar resisting the proclamations and the Inquisition?”

The ashes of Claes beat upon Ulenspiegel’s breast.

“I am a Beggar,” said he, “I would fain see dead and eaten by worms the oppressors of the Low Countries. Thou lookest on me confounded and astonied. This fire of love that burns for thee, darling, is the fire of youth. God lighted it; it flames as the sun shines, until it dieth down. But the fire of vengeance that broodeth in my heart, God lit that as well. It will be the sword, the fire, the rope, conflagration, devastation, war, and ruin to the murderers.”

“Thou art goodly,” said she, sadly, kissing him on both cheeks, “but hold thy peace.”

“Why dost thou weep?” answered he.

“You must always,” she said, “watch here and elsewhere wherever you are.”

“Have these walls ears?” asked Ulenspiegel.

“No ears but mine,” said she.

“Carven by love, I will stop them with a kiss.”

“Mad lover, listen to me when I speak to you.”

“Why? what have you to say to me?”

“Listen to me,” she said, impatient. “Here comes my mother.... Hold your tongue, hold your peace above all things before her....”

The old Sapermillemente woman came in. Ulenspiegel studied her.

“Muzzle full of holes like a skimming ladle,” said he to himself, “eyes with a hard false look, mouth that would laugh and grimace, you make me curious.” [276]

“God be with you, Messire,” said the old woman, “be with you without ceasing. I have received moneys, Daughter, good moneys from Messire d’Egmont when I took him his cloak on which I had embroidered the fool’s bauble. Yes, Messire, the fool’s bauble against the Red Dog.”

“The Cardinal de Granvelle?” asked Ulenspiegel.

“Aye,” said she, “against the Red Dog. It is said that he denounces their doings to the King; they would fain bring him to death. They are right, are they not?”

Ulenspiegel answered not a word.

“You have not seen them in the streets clad in a gray doublet and opperst-kleed, gray as the common folk wear them, and the long hanging sleeves and their monks’ hoods and on all the opperst-kleederen the fool’s bauble embroidered. I made at least twenty-seven and my daughter fifteen. That incensed the Red Dog to see these baubles.”

Then speaking in Ulenspiegel’s ear:

“I know that the lords have decided to replace the bauble by a sheaf of corn in sign of unity. Aye, aye, they mean to struggle against the king and the Inquisition. It is well done of them, is it not, Messire?”

Ulenspiegel made no answer.

“The stranger lord is melancholy,” said the old woman; “he has his mouth tight shut all of a sudden.”

Ulenspiegel said not a word and went out.

Presently he went into a gaffhouse so as not to forget to drink. The gaff was full of drinkers speaking imprudently of the king, of the detested proclamations, of the Inquisition and of the Red Dog who must be forced to leave the country. He saw the old woman, all in rags, and seeming to doze beside a pint of brandy. [277]She remained like that for a long time; then he saw her taking a little platter out of her pocket, asking money, especially from those who spoke the most incautiously.

And the men gave her florins, deniers, and patards, and without stinginess.

Ulenspiegel, hoping to learn from the girl what the old Sapermillemente woman did not say to him, passed before the house again; he saw the girl who was not crying out her rhyme any more, but smiled at him and winked her eye, a sweet promise.

All on a sudden the old woman came back after him.

Ulenspiegel, angry to see her, ran like a stag into the street crying out: “’T brandt! ’t brandt! Fire! Fire!” till he came before the house of the baker Jacob Pietersen. The front, glazed in the German fashion, was flaming red to the sunset. A thick smoke, the smoke of faggots turning to red coals in the furnace, was pouring out of the bakehouse chimney. Ulenspiegel never ceased to cry as he ran: “’T brandt, ’t brandt,” and pointed out Jacob Pietersen’s house. The crowd, gathering in front of it, saw the red windows, the thick smoke, and cried like Ulenspiegel: “’T brandt, ’t brandt, it burns! it burns!” The watchman on Notre Dame de la Chapelle blew his trumpet while the beadle rang the bell called Wacharm in full peal. And lads and lasses ran up in swarms, singing and whistling.

The bell and the trumpet still sounding, the old Sapermillemente woman picked up her heels and went off.

Ulenspiegel was watching her. When she was far away, he came into the house. [278]

“You here!” said the girl; “is there not a fire then over yonder?”

“Yonder? No,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“But that bell that is ringing so lamentably?”

“It knows not what it doth,” answered Ulenspiegel.

“And that dolorous trumpet and all these folk running?”

“Infinite is the tale of fools.”

“What is burning then?” said she.

“Thy eyes and my flaming heart,” answered Ulenspiegel.

And he leaped to her mouth.

“You eat me,” she said.

“I like cherries,” said he.

She looked at him, smiling and distressed. Suddenly bursting into tears:

“Come back here no more,” she said. “You are a Beggar, a foe to the Pope, do not come back....”

“Thy mother!” said he.

“Aye,” she said, blushing. “Dost thou know where she is at this moment? She is listening where the fire is. Dost thou know where she will go presently? To the Red Dog, to report all she knows and make ready the work for the duke that is to come. Flee, Ulenspiegel; I save thee, but flee. Another kiss, but come back no more; still another, thou art goodly, I weep, but begone.”

“Brave girl,” said Ulenspiegel, holding her embraced.

“I was not always,” she said. “I, too, like her....”

“These songs,” said he, “these mute appealings of beauty to men prone to love...?”

“Aye,” said she. “My mother would have it so. Thou, I save thee, loving thee for love’s sake. The [279]others, I shall save them in remembrance of thee, my beloved. When thou art far away, will thy heart pull a little towards the girl that repented? Kiss me, darling. She will never again for money give victims to the stake. Go, go; nay, stay a little still. How soft and smooth thy hand is! There, I kiss thy hand, it is the sign of slavery; thou art my master. Listen, come nearer, hush. Men, ragged scoundrels and robbers and an Italian among them, came here last night, one after the other. My mother brought them into the chamber where thou art, and bade me go out from it, and she shut the door. I heard these words: ‘Stone crucifix.... Borgerhoet gate ... procession ... Antwerp.... Notre Dame,’ suppressed laughter and florins counted out on the table.... Flee, here they are; flee away, my beloved. Keep a kind memory for me; flee....”

Ulenspiegel ran as she bade him as far as the Old Cock, In den ouden Haen, and found there Lamme plunged in melancholy, eating a sausage and draining his seventh quart of Louvain peterman.

And he forced him to run like himself, in spite of his belly.



Running thus at full speed, followed by Lamme, he found in the Eikenstraat a savage lampoon on Brederode. He went and took it to him directly.

“Monseigneur,” he said, “I am that good Fleming and that king’s spy whose ears you dressed down so well, and to whom you gave such good mulled wine to drink. He brings you a pretty little pamphlet in which among other things you are accused of calling [280]yourself Count of Holland, like the king. It is fresh and hot from the press of Jan a Calumnia, living near the Vagabonds’ Quay, in the blind alley of the Thieves of Honour.”

Brederode answered, smiling:

“I shall have you flogged for two hours if you do not tell me the scribe’s real name.”

“Monseigneur,” replied Ulenspiegel, “have me flogged for two years if you will, but you will not be able to make my back tell you what my mouth does not know.”

And he went away, not without getting a florin for his trouble.



Since June, the month of roses, the preachings had begun in the country of Flanders.

And the apostles of the primitive Christian Church preached everywhere, in every place, in fields and in gardens, on the hillocks which in times of flood were used to keep cattle on, upon rivers, in boats.

On land, they entrenched themselves as in a camp, surrounding themselves with their wains. Upon the rivers and in harbours, boats filled with armed men kept guard round about them.

And thus the word of freedom was heard on every side on the soil of our fathers.



Ulenspiegel and Lamme being at Bruges, with their cart, which they left in a yard close by, went into the church of Saint Sauveur, instead of going to the [281]tavern, for there was in their pouches no more the merry clink of coins.

Father Cornelis Adriensen, a minor friar, dirty, brazen, furious, and a bellowing preacher, was on that day occupying the pulpit of truth.

Beautiful young devout women were thronging all around.

Father Cornelis was discoursing of the Passion. When he came to the passage in the Holy Gospel where the Jews cried to Pilate, speaking of our Lord Jesus, “Crucify him, crucify him, for we have our law, and by that law he must die,” Broer Cornelis exclaimed:

“Ye have just heard it, good people, if Our Lord Jesus Christ endured a dreadful and a shameful death, it is because there have at all times been laws to punish heretics. He was justly condemned, because he had disobeyed those laws. And to-day they would fain regard as naught the edicts and proclamations. Ah! Jesus! What curse wouldst thou set upon these lands. Honoured Mother of God, if the Emperor Charles were still alive, and could he see the scandal of these confederate nobles who have dared to present to the Lady Governor a request against the Inquisition and against the proclamations made for an aim so good, which are so ripely thought out, and promulgated after so long and so wise reflection and deliberation, to destroy all sects and heresies! And they would fain reduce them to nothing, though they are more necessary than bread and than cheese! In what foul, loathsome, abominable gulf are we to be made to fall to-day? Luther, that vile Luther, that mad ox, triumphs in Saxony, in Brunswick, in Lunebourg, in Mecklenburg; Brentius, that dung Brentius [282]who lived in Germany upon acorns the pigs refused, Brentius triumphs in Württemberg; Servetus the Lunatic, who hath a quarter of the moon in his head, the Trinitarian Servetus, reigns in Pomerania, in Denmark and in Sweden, and there he dares to blaspheme the holy, glorious, and mighty Trinity. Aye. But I am informed that he hath been burned alive by Calvin, who was never right or good save in that; aye, by the stinking Calvin who smells of musty sourness; aye, with his long face like a leather bottle; a face of cheese, with his big teeth like a gardener’s shovel. Aye, these wolves eat one another; aye, the ox Luther, the mad ox, roused the princes of Germany to arms against the Anabaptist Münzer, who was a good man, they say, and lived according to the Gospel. And through all Germany the bellowings of this ox have been heard, aye!

“Aye, and what do we see in Flanders, Gueldre, Frisia, Holland, Zealand? Adamites running naked through the streets; yea, good people, naked in the streets, showing their lean flesh without shame to the passers-by. There was but one of them, say you: aye—let it pass—one is as good as a hundred, a hundred is even as one. And he was burned, say you, and he was burned alive, at the request of the Calvinists and Lutherans. These wolves eat one another, I say unto you!

“Aye, and what do we see in Flanders, Gueldre, Frisia, Holland, Zealand? Free thinkers teaching that all servitude is contrary to the word of God. They lie, the stinking heretics; we must submit to the Holy Mother Church of Rome. And there, in that accursed city of Antwerp, the rendezvous and meeting-ground of all the heretic dogs in the world, they have dared to [283]preach that we prepare and bake the host with dog’s grease. Another saith, ’tis that beggar upon the chamber pot at the corner of the street, ‘There is no God, nor life eternal, nor resurrection of the body, nor everlasting damnation.’ ‘We can,’ saith another yonder, in a whining voice, ‘baptise without salt, or lard, or spittle, without exorcism and without candle.’ ‘There is no purgatory,’ says another. There is no purgatory, good people! Ah! it were better for you to have committed sin with your mothers, your sisters, and your daughters, than to doubt purgatory.

“Aye, and they turn up their nose at the Inquisitor, that holy man, aye. They came to Belem, near this place, as many as four thousand Calvinists, with weaponed men, banners and drums. Aye. And you can smell from here the smoke of their cooking fires. They have taken the Church of Saint Catholyne to dishonour it, profane it, desecrate it by their damnable preachifying.

“What is this impious and scandalous tolerance? By the thousand devils of hell, ye supine, faint-hearted Catholics, why do not ye also take weapons into your hands? Ye have, even as these damned Calvinists, cuirasses, lances, halberds, swords, daggers, arbalests, knives, cudgels, pikes, the town falconets and culverins.

“They are peaceful folk, say you; they desire in all freedom and tranquillity to hear the word of God. That is all one to me. Go forth from Bruges! hunt me, slay me, blow me up all these Calvinists that are without the pale of the Church. Ye are not yet started! Fie on you! Ye are hens trembling with fear on your dunghill. I see the moment when these damned Calvinists will drum on your wives’ and daughters’ [284]bellies, and you will let them, men of tow and putty. Go not over yonder, go not ... ye will get your stockings wet in the battle. Fie upon you, men of Bruges! fie upon you, Catholics! That is well done and like true Catholics, O cowardly poltroons! Shame upon you, ducks and drakes, geese and turkeys that you are!

“Are not they goodly preachers, that you should go in crowds to hearken to the lies they belch forth, that the young girls should go by night to their sermons, aye, and that in nine months the town should be full of little beggar-boys and beggar-girls? There were four of them there, four scandalous vagabonds, that preached in the cemetery of the church. The first of these vagabonds, livid and lean, the ugly loose-belly, had a dirty hat upon his head. Thanks to it his ears were not to be seen. Which of you hath seen the ears of a preacher? He had no shirt, for his bare arms came linenless out through his doublet. I saw it well, though he tries to cover himself up with a dirty little cloak, and I saw, too, all right in his black canvas breeches, full of open work like the spire of Notre Dame, the swinging of his bells and clapper. The other vagabond preached in a doublet, and no shoes. Nobody saw his ears. And he had to stop short in his preachifying, and the boys and girls began to hoot him, crying: ‘Yah! Yah! he doesn’t know his lesson!’ The third of these scandalous vagabonds had on his head a dirty ugly little hat, with a little feather sticking out of the top. And his ears were not to be seen, either. The fourth of the rascals, Hermanus, better arrayed than the others, must have been branded on the shoulder twice by the executioner, aye, verily. [285]

“They all wear under their headgear greasy silk caps that hide their ears. Did you ever see the ears of a preacher? Which of these rogues ever dared to show his ears? His ears! Ah! yes, show his ears; they have all been cut off. Aye, the executioner has cut the ears off every one of them.

“And yet it was round about these scandalous rogues, these cut purses, these cobblers that have run away from their stools, these ragamuffin preachers, that all the whole populace went crying and shouting: ‘Long live the Beggars!’ as if they had all been mad, drunk, or fools.

“Ah, it only remains for us poor Roman Catholics to leave the Low Countries, since there they allow this bawling cry: ‘Long live the Beggars! Long live the Beggars!’ What a millstone of a curse hath therefore fallen upon this bewitched and foolish folk, ah! Jesus! Everywhere, rich and poor, noble and base, young and old, men and women, all cry out: ‘Long live the Beggars!’

“And what are all these lords, these scald leather seats that have come to us from Germany? All their having is gone on harlots, or gaming, lechery, lewdness, long-drawn debauchery, rooted villainies, abominations of dice and ostentation of outward array. They have not even a rusty nail to scratch themselves with where they itch. And now they must needs have the goods and wealth of churches and convents.

“And there at their banquet in the house of that rogue De Culembourg, with that other rogue De Brederode, they drank in wooden bowls, for scorn of Messire de Berlaymont and Madame the Lady Governor. Aye, and they shouted ‘Long live the Beggars!’ Ah! if I had been the good God (with all respect), I would [286]have caused their drink, whether it was beer or wine, to be changed into a foul and loathy dishwater, aye, into foul, abominable, stinking suds, in which they had washed their shirts and foul sheets.

“Aye, bawl, donkeys that you are, bawl ‘Long live the Beggars!’ Aye! and I am a prophet. And all the curses, miseries, fevers, plagues, conflagrations, ruins, desolations, cankers, English sweating sickness and black plagues will fall upon the Low Countries. Aye, thus will God be revenged upon your filthy braying of ‘Long live the Beggars!’ And there will not be left one stone of your houses upon another, and not a morsel of bone in your damned legs that ran to this accursed Calvinistry and preachifying. And so, so, so, so, so be it. Amen!”

“Let us go, my son,” said Ulenspiegel to Lamme.

“In a moment,” said Lamme.

And he looked and searched among the beautiful young devotees there present at the sermon, but he did not discover his wife.



Ulenspiegel and Lamme came to the place called Minne-Water, Love-Water; but the great doctors and Wysneusen Pedants say it is Minre-Water, Minim-Water. Ulenspiegel and Lamme sat down upon the brink, seeing pass by beneath the trees all leafy down to their very heads, like a low roof, men, women, girls, and boys, hand in hand, garlanded with flowers, walking hip to hip, looking tenderly in one another’s eyes, without seeing anything in this world but themselves.

Ulenspiegel, thinking of Nele, gazed at them. In his melancholy, he said: [287]

“Let us go drink.”

But Lamme, not hearkening Ulenspiegel, also looked upon the pairs of lovers:

“In the old days we, too, used to pass, my wife and I, loving each other under the eyes of those who like you and me, on the edge of ditches, were stretched out solitary and without a woman.”

“Come and drink,” said Ulenspiegel, “we shall find the Seven at the bottom of a quart.”

“A drinker’s word,” answered Lamme: “you know the Seven are giants who could not stand upright under the big dome of the church of Saint Sauveur.”

Ulenspiegel, thinking wretchedly of Nele, and also that in some hostelry he might perchance find a good bed, good supper, a comely hostess, said yet again:

“Let us go and drink!”

But Lamme paid no heed, and said, looking at the tower of Notre Dame:

“Madame Holy Mary, patroness of lawful loves, grant me to see again her white bosom, that soft pillow.”

“Come and drink,” said Ulenspiegel, “you shall find her, displaying it to the drinkers, in a tavern.”

“Dost thou dare think so ill of her?” said Lamme.

“Let us go and drink,” said Ulenspiegel, “she is baesine somewhere, without a doubt.”

“Thirst talk,” said Lamme.

Ulenspiegel went on:

“Perchance keepeth she in reserve for poor travellers a dish of goodly stewed beef, whose spices perfume the air, not too rich, tender, succulent as rose leaves, and swimming like Shrove Tuesday fishes amid cloves, nutmeg, cocks’ combs, sweetbreads, and other celestial dainties.” [288]

“Cruel!” said Lamme, “you mean to kill me for sure. Do you not know that for two days we have lived on nothing but dry bread and small beer?”

“Hunger talk,” answered Ulenspiegel. “You are weeping with appetite; come and eat and drink. I have here a fine half florin that will defray the cost of our feast.”

Lamme laughed. They went to find their cart and thus went about the town, seeking to know which was the best inn. But seeing several crabbed countenances on the baes and no wise pleasing on the baesines, they passed on, thinking that a sour face is a poor sign for a hospitable kitchen.

They arrived at the Saturday Market and went into the hostelry called de Blauwe-Lanteern, the Blue-Lantern. Here there was a baes of pleasant aspect.

They put up their cart and had the ass lodged in the stable, in company with a peck of oats. They ordered supper to be served, ate their fill, slept well, and rose to eat again. Lamme, bursting with comfort, said:

“I hear heavenly music in my stomach.”

When the time came to pay, the baes came to Lamme and said to him:

“Ten patards, if you please.”

“He has them,” said Lamme, pointing to Ulenspiegel who answered:

“I have not.”

“And the half florin?” said Lamme.

“I have not got it,” said Ulenspiegel.

“This is all very well,” said the baes: “I shall take the doublet and the shirt off both of you.”

Suddenly Lamme, plucking up bottle courage:

“And if I want to eat and drink, I,” exclaimed he, [289]“to eat and drink, aye, drink for twenty-seven florins worth or more, I will do it. Dost thou think there is not a sou’s value in this belly of mine? Good God! it was never fed till now but on ortolans. Never didst thou carry the like under thy greasy girdle. For like an ill fellow thou hast thy tallow on the collar of thy doublet, and not like me, three inches of dainty fat on the paunch!”

The baes had fallen into an ecstasy of rage. A stammerer by nature, he wanted to speak quickly; the more he hurried, the more he sneezed and sputtered like a dog coming out of the water. Ulenspiegel threw little balls of bread at his nose. And Lamme, becoming hotter, went on:

“Aye, I have wherewith to pay for your three scraggy hens, your four mangy pullets, and that big idiot of a peacock dragging his dirty tail in your yard. And if your skin was not drier than an old cock’s, if your bones were not crumbling to dust in your breast, I would have still enough to eat you, yourself, your snot of a man, your one-eyed maid and your cook, who if he had itch would have arms too short to scratch himself.

“Do you see,” he went on, “do you see this fine bird that, for half a florin, wants to seize our doublets and our shirts? Tell me what your wardrobe is worth, tattered impertinence, and I will give you three liards for it.”

But the baes, becoming angrier and angrier, puffed and blew the more.

And Ulenspiegel flung balls in his face.

Lamme, like a roaring lion, said:

“How much do you think, scrawny face, a fine ass is worth, with a fine muzzle, long ears, wide chested, [290]with legs of iron? Eighteen florins at the least, is not that so, miserable baes? How many old nails have you in your coffers to pay for so fine a beast?”

The baes sputtered more and more, but dared not budge.

Lamme said:

“How much do you think a fine cart is worth, all made of ash painted red, and equipped all over with Courtrai canvas against the sun and the showers? Twenty-four florins at least, hey? And how much is twenty-four florins and eighteen florins? Answer that, leper devoid of arithmetic. And as it is a market day, and as there are farming folk in your miserable hostelry, I am going to sell cart and donkey to them at once.”

And so it was done, for all knew Lamme. And in fact he got for his ass and his cart forty-four florins and ten patards. Then, clinking the gold under the nose of the baes, he said to him:

“Dost thou smell in that the savour of feasting to come?”

“Aye,” replied the host.

And he said under his breath:

“When you are selling your skin, I will buy a liard’s worth to make a charm against prodigality with it.”

In the meantime, a pretty, taking woman who was in the dark of the yard had come again and again to look at Lamme through the window, and drew back every time he might have caught sight of her pretty face.

That night, on the staircase, as he was going up without a light, tottering a little from the wine he had drunk, he felt a woman who flung her arms about him, kissed him on the cheek, the mouth, even on the nose, [291]gluttonously, and wetting his face with amorous tears, then left him.

Lamme, all sleepy from his drink, went to bed, fell asleep, and next day went off to Ghent with Ulenspiegel.



There he sought for his wife in all the kaberdoesjen, musicos, tafelhooren, and taverns. At night, he rejoined Ulenspiegel in den zingende Zwaan, at the Singing Swan. Ulenspiegel went wherever he could, spreading alarm and rousing the people against the butchers of the land of their fathers.

Finding himself in the Friday Market, near the Dulle-Griet, the Great Cannon, Ulenspiegel lay down flat on his face on the pavement.

A coalman came and said to him:

“What are you doing there?”

“I am damping my nose to know which way the wind blows,” replied Ulenspiegel.

A carpenter came along.

“Do you take the pavement,” said he, “for a mattress?”

“There are some,” replied Ulenspiegel, “who will soon take it for a quilt.”

A monk stopped.

“What is this moon calf doing there?” he asked.

“He is on his face begging for your blessing, Father,” replied Ulenspiegel.

The monk having bestowed it, went on his way.

Ulenspiegel then lay with his ear against the ground. A peasant came by.

“Dost thou hear any noise from below?” he said. [292]

“Aye,” replied Ulenspiegel, “I hear the wood growing, the wood whose faggots will serve to burn poor heretics.”

“Dost thou hear naught else?” said a constable of the commune to him.

“I hear,” said Ulenspiegel, “the gendarmerie coming from Spain; if thou hast aught to keep, bury it, for soon the towns will be safe no longer by reason of robbers.”

“He is mad,” said the constable.

“He is mad,” repeated the townsfolk.



Meanwhile, Lamme could not eat, thinking of the sweet vision of the stairs at the Blauwe-Lanteern. His heart turning to Bruges, he was led perforce by Ulenspiegel to Antwerp, where he continued his sorrowful searchings.

Ulenspiegel being in the taverns, in the midst of good Flemings of the reformed faith, or even Catholics that were lovers of liberty, would say to them about the proclamations: “They bring us the Inquisition under pretext of purging us from heresy, but it is meant for our purses, this rhubarb. We have no love to be physicked save at our own will and as we choose; we shall be wroth, we shall rebel and take arms in our hands. The king knew this well beforehand. Seeing that we have no mind to rhubarb, he will advance the syringes, to wit the great guns and the little guns, serpents, falconets, and mortars with their big mouths. A kingly clyster! There will not be left a single rich Fleming in all Flanders physicked in this fashion. Happy is our land to have so royal a physician.” [293]

But the townsfolk could only laugh.

Ulenspiegel would say: “Laugh to-day, but flee or arm on that day when something is broken at Notre Dame.”



On the 15th of August, the great feast of Mary and of the blessing of herbs and roots, when filled with corn the hens are deaf to the bugle of the cock imploring love, a great stone crucifix was broken at one of the gates of Antwerp by an Italian in the pay of the Cardinal de Granvelle, and the procession of the Virgin, preceded by fools in green, in yellow, and in red, came forth out of the church of Notre Dame.

But the Virgin’s statue, having been insulted on the way by men whom no one knew, was hastily taken back into the choir of the church, the iron gates of which were shut.

Ulenspiegel and Lamme went into Notre Dame. Young beggars and ragamuffins, and some grown men among them, that nobody knew were in front of the choir, making certain signs and grimaces one to another. They were making a great din with feet and tongues. No one had seen them before in Antwerp, no one ever saw them again. One of them, with a face like a burned onion, asked if Mieke, that was Our Lady, had been afraid that she had gone back to the church in such a hurry.

“It is not of thee that she is afeared, ugly blackamoor,” replied Ulenspiegel.

The young man to whom he spoke went up to him, to beat him, but Ulenspiegel, gripping him by the collar: [294]

“If you strike me,” said he, “I will make you spew out your tongue.”

Then turning towards certain men of Antwerp that were present:

Signorkes and pagaders,” said he, pointing out the ragged young men, “be cautious, these are spurious Flemings, traitors paid to bring us to ill, to misery, and to ruin.”

Then speaking to the strangers:

“Hey,” said he, “donkey faces, withered with want, whence have ye the money that chinks to-day in your pouches? Have ye perchance sold your skins beforehand for drumheads?”

“Look at the sermonizer!” said the strangers.

Then they all began to shout together with one accord speaking of Our Lady:

“Mieke has a fine robe. Mieke has a fine crown! I will give them to my doxy.”

They went away, while one of them had got up into a pulpit to proclaim insulting and outrageous things from it, and they came back crying:

“Come down, Mieke, come down before we go and fetch you. Perform a miracle, that we may see if you can walk as well as you can have Mieke carried about, the lazy thing!”

But Ulenspiegel cried in vain: “Workers of ruin, have done with your vile talk; all pillage is a crime!” They ceased not at all from their talk; and some spoke even of breaking into the choir to force Mieke to come down.

Hearing this, an old woman, who sold candles in the church, flung in their faces the ashes of her foot warmer; but she was beaten and flung down on the floor, and then the riot began. [295]

The markgrave came to the church with his sergeants. Seeing the populace assembled, he exhorted them to leave the church, but so feebly that only a few went away; the others said:

“First we want to hear the canons singing vespers in honour of Mieke.”

The markgrave replied:

“There shall be no singing.”

“We will sing ourselves,” answered the ragged strangers.

Which they did in the naves and near the porch of the church. Some played at Krieke-steenen, at cherry-stones, and said: “Mieke, you never game in paradise and you are bored there; play with us.”

And insulting the statue without ceasing, they cried out, hooted and whistled.

The markgrave pretended to be afraid and departed. By his orders all the doors of the church were shut save one.

Without the populace having any hand in it, the ragtag and bobtail of the strangers became bolder and shouted more and more. And the roofs reëchoed as though to the din of a hundred cannon.

One of them, he of the face like a burned onion, appearing to have some authority among them, got up into a pulpit, made a sign with his hand to them, and began to preach:

“In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” said he: “the three making but one, and the one making three, God keep us in paradise from arithmetic; this day the twenty-ninth of August, Mieke went forth in great pomp of array to show her wooden face to the signorkes and pagaders of Antwerp. [296]But Mieke, in the procession met the devil Satanas. And Satanas said to her, mocking her: ‘There you are, high and mighty, prinked up like a queen, Mieke, and borne by four signorkes, and you will not look now at the poor pagader Satanas that makes his way on foot.’ And Mieke answered: ‘Begone, Satanas, or I bruise thy head still more than ever, foul serpent!’ ‘Mieke,’ said Satanas, ‘that is the task in which you have been spending your time for fifteen hundred years, but the Spirit of the Lord, your master, hath delivered me. I am stronger than you are; you shall not walk over my head any more, and I am going to make you dance now.’ Satanas took a great whip, sharp and cutting, and started to flog Mieke, who dared not cry out for fear of showing her terror, and then she began to run as hard as she could, forcing the signorkes that were carrying her to run, too, so as not to let her fall with her gold crown and her jewels among the poor common folk. And now Mieke stays as stiff and as still as a frightened mouse in her niche, watching Satan, who is seated up at the top of the pillar under the little dome, and who says to her, still grasping his whip and grinning, ‘I will make you pay for the blood and tears that flow in your name! Mieke, how goes your virgin birth? This is the time to flit. You shall be cut in twain, evil statue of wood, for all the statues of flesh and bone that were burned in your name, burned, hanged, buried alive without pity.’ So spake Satanas; and he spoke well. And thou must come down from thy niche, bloody Mieke, Mieke the cruel, that wast in no way like thy son Christus.”

And all the band of the strangers, hooting and crying out, shouted: “Mieke! Mieke! it is time to come out! [297]Are you wetting your linen for fear in your niche? Up Brabant for the good Duke. Away with the wooden saints! Who will have a bath in the Scheldt! Wood swims better than fishes.”

The populace listened to them without saying a word.

But Ulenspiegel, getting up into the pulpit, threw down the stair by main force the one that was haranguing.

“Fools fit to tie,” he said, speaking to the populace; “lunatic fools, idiot fools, who see no further than the end of your dirty noses, do ye not see that all this is the work of traitors? They mean to make you commit sacrilege and pillage that they may declare you rebels, empty your coffers, cut off your heads, and burn you alive! And the king will inherit. Signorkes and pagaders, do not believe in the speeches of these artificers of woes: leave Notre Dame in her niche, live stoutly, working happily, spending your earnings and profits. The black devil of ruin has his eye upon you, and it is through sackings and destruction that he will call up the army of your foes to treat you as rebels and make Alba reign over you with dictatorship, inquisition, confiscation, and death.”

“And he will inherit!”

“Alas,” said Lamme, “do not pillage anything, signorkes and pagaders; the king is already very angry. The daughter of the embroideress told my friend Ulenspiegel so. Do not indulge in pillage, sirs!”

But the populace would not give ear to them.

The unknown kept shouting:

“Sack and turn out! Sack Brabant for the good Duke! To the river with wooden saints! They swim better than fishes!” [298]

Ulenspiegel, still in the pulpit, cried in vain:

Signorkes and pagaders do not suffer pillage! Do not call down ruin upon the town!”

He was plucked away from there all torn, face, doublet, and breeches, though he avenged himself with both feet and hands. And all bleeding he never ceased to cry out:

“Do not suffer pillage!”

But it was in vain.

The unknown and the ragtag and bobtail of the city flung themselves on the iron grille of the choir, which they broke through, crying:

“Long live the Beggar!”

They all set to work to break, sack, destroy. Before midnight this great church, in which there were seventy altars, every kind of noble paintings and precious things, was empty as a nut. The altars were broken, the images flung down, and all the locks smashed.

This being done, the same unknown set off to treat like Notre Dame, the Minor Brothers, the Franciscans, Saint Peter, Saint Andrew, Saint Michael, Saint Pierre-au-Pot, the Bourg, the Fawkens, the White Sisters, the Gray Sisters, the Third Order, the Preachers, and all the churches and chapels in the city. They took candles and torches out of them and ran around everywhere in this manner.

Among them there was no quarrel nor dispute; not one of them was hurt in that great demolishing of wood and other materials.

They betook themselves to The Hague to proceed there to the overthrow of statues and altars, without the reformed lending them any aid either there or elsewhere. [299]

At The Hague, the magistrate asked them where was their commission.

“It is here,” said one of them, striking upon his heart.

“Their commission, hear you, signorkes and pagaders?” said Ulenspiegel, having been informed of this. “So then there is someone who deputes them to this work of sacrilege. Let some robber thief come into my cottage; I will do as did the magistrate of The Hague, I will say, taking off my bonnet: ‘Gentle robber, gracious rogue, worshipful rascal, show me your commission.’ He will reply that it is in his heart that is greedy for my goods. And I shall give him the keys of everything. Seek, seek out who it is that profits by this pillage. Beware of the Red Dog. The great stone crucifix is flung down. Beware of the Red Dog!”

The Great Sovereign Council of Malines having given orders through its president Viglius, not to put any obstacle in the way of image breaking:—“Alas!” said Ulenspiegel, “the harvest is ripe for the Spanish reapers. The Duke! the Duke is marching upon you. Flemings, the sea rises, the sea of vengeance. Poor women and girls, flee the living grave! Poor men, flee the gallows, the fire, and the sword! Philip means to finish the bloody work of Charles. The father sowed death and exile, the son hath sworn that he would rather rule over a cemetery than over a heretic folk. Flee; here be the executioner and the gravediggers.”

The populace hearkened to Ulenspiegel, and families left the cities by hundreds, and the roads were encumbered with carts laden with the household stuff of those that were going into exile. [300]

And Ulenspiegel went everywhere, followed by Lamme grieving and looking for his beloved.

And at Damme Nele wept by the side of Katheline the madwife.



Ulenspiegel being at Ghent in the barley month which is October, saw Egmont returning from revelling and feasting in the noble company of the Abbot of Saint Bavon. Being in a singing humour, he was absentmindedly allowing his horse to go at a foot pace. Suddenly he saw a man who, carrying a lighted lantern, was walking alongside him.

“What wouldst thou of me?” asked Egmont.

“Good,” replied Ulenspiegel, “the good of a lantern when it is lit.”

“Begone and leave me,” replied the Count.

“I will not begone,” rejoined Ulenspiegel.

“Wouldst thou have a stroke of the whip then?”

“I would willingly have ten, if I can put in your head such a lantern that you might see clear from here to the Escurial.”

“I take no stock in thy lantern nor in the Escurial,” replied the Count.

“Well, for my part,” answered Ulenspiegel, “it burns in me to give you a good advice.”

Then taking by the bridle the Count’s horse, rearing and kicking:

“Monseigneur,” said he, “think that now you dance well on your horse and that your head dances also very well upon your shoulders; but the king, they say, means to interrupt this fine dance, to leave you your body, [301]but to take your head and make it dance in a land so far away that you will never be able to overtake it. Give me a florin, I have earned it.”

“The whip, if thou wilt not be off, evil newsmonger.”

“Monseigneur, I am Ulenspiegel, the son of Claes, that was burned alive for his belief and of Soetkin that died of sorrow. The ashes beating upon my breast tell me that Egmont, the gallant soldier, might with the gendarmerie in his command oppose the thrice-victorious troops of the Duke of Alba.”

“Begone,” replied Egmont, “I am no traitor.”

“Save the countries; you alone can save them,” said Ulenspiegel.

The Count would have beaten Ulenspiegel; but he had not waited for this and fled away, crying:

“Eat lanterns, eat lanterns, Messire Count. Save the countries.”

Another day, Egmont being athirst had stopped in front of the inn In ’t bondt verken, the Piebald Pig—kept by a woman of Courtrai, a pretty piece, called Musekin, the Little Mouse.

The Count, rising up in his stirrups, cried out:

“Bring me to drink!”

Ulenspiegel, who was in Musekin’s service, came up to the Count holding a pewter tankard in one hand and in the other a flask of red wine.

The Count, seeing him:

“Are you there,” said he, “ill-omened raven?”

“Monseigneur,” answered Ulenspiegel, “if my omens are black, ’tis because they are ill washen; but will you tell me which is the redder, the wine that goes down the throat or the blood that leaps out of the neck? That is what my lantern asked.” [302]

The Count made no answer, but paid and departed.



Ulenspiegel and Lamme, each mounted on an ass, which Simon Simonsen had given them, one of the faithfuls of the Prince of Orange, went everywhere, warning the burgesses of the black designs of the king of blood, and ever on the watch to discover news coming from Spain.

They sold vegetables, being clad like country folk, and haunted all the markets.

Coming back from the Brussels market, they saw in a stone house, on the Brick Quay, in a low chamber, a handsome dame clad in satin, high coloured, well bosomed, and with a lively eye.

She was saying to a fresh young cookmaid:

“Scour me this pan, I do not like rust sauce.”

Ulenspiegel put his nose in at the window.

“I,” said he, “I like every sauce, for a hungry belly is no great picker and chooser among fricassees.”

The dame turning round:

“Who,” said she, “is this fellow that interferes with my soup?”

“Alas! fair dame,” answered Ulenspiegel, “if you would only make it in my company, I would teach you travellers’ stews unknown to fair dames that sit at home.”

Then clacking with his tongue, he said:

“I am thirsty.”

“For what?” said she.

“For thee,” said he.

“He is a pretty fellow,” said the cookmaid to the [303]dame. “Let us bring him in and let him tell us his adventures.”

“But there are two of them,” said the dame.

“I will look after one,” replied the maid.

“Madame,” said Ulenspiegel, “we are two, it is true, myself and my poor Lamme, who cannot carry five pounds on his back, but carries five hundred on his stomach in meats and drinks with the best will in the world.”

“My son,” said Lamme, “do not mock at an unhappy man to whom it costs so much to fill his paunch.”

“It will not cost thee a liard to-day,” said the dame. “Come within, both of you.”

“But,” said Lamme, “there are also two asses upon which we are.”

“Pecks of corn,” replied the dame, “are nowise lacking in the stable of the Count of Meghem.”

The cookmaid left her pan and drew into the yard Ulenspiegel and Lamme bestriding their asses, which began to bray incontinent.

“That,” said Ulenspiegel, “is the flourish for food near at hand. They are trumpeting their joy, the poor asses!”

And having both dismounted, Ulenspiegel said to the cookmaid:

“If you were a she-ass, would you like an ass like me?”

“If I was a woman,” she replied, “I should like a young man with a jolly face.”

“What are you, then, being neither woman nor ass?” asked Lamme.

“A virgin,” quoth she, “a virgin is neither woman nor ass either: do you understand, big belly?” [304]

Ulenspiegel said to Lamme:

“Do not believe her, ’tis half a wild girl and quarter of two she-devils. Her carnal tricks have already bespoken for her in hell a place on a mattress to fondle Beelzebub.”

“Evil mocker,” said the cook, “if your hairs were horsehair I would not have them even to walk on them.”

“For my part,” said Ulenspiegel, “I would like to eat all your hair.”

“Golden tongue,” said the dame, “must you have them all?”

“No,” replied Ulenspiegel, “a thousand would suffice me melted down into one like you.”

The dame said to him:

“Drink first a quart of bruinbier, eat a piece of ham, cut deep into this leg of mutton, disembowel me this pie, swallow me this salad.”

Ulenspiegel joined his hands.

“Ham,” said he, “is a good meat; bruinbier, heavenly beer; leg of mutton, divine flesh; a pie that one disembowels makes one’s tongue tremble with pleasure in the mouth; a fat salad is princely swallowing. But blessed will he be to whom you will give to sup on your beauty.”

“See how he rattles on,” said she. “Eat first of all, vagabond!”

Ulenspiegel replied:

“Shall we not say the benedicite before the graces?”

“No,” said she.

Then Lamme, whining, said:

“I am hungry.”

“You shall eat,” said the fair dame, “since you have no other care than for cooked meat.” [305]

“And fresh, too, as my wife was,” said Lamme. The cookmaid became sullen at this word. All the same they ate copiously and drank in floods. And the dame that night gave Ulenspiegel his supper, and next day and the days that followed.

The asses had double measure of corn and Lamme a double portion. For a whole week he never left the kitchen, and he played with the dishes, but not with the cook, for he thought of his wife.

That angered the girl, who said it was hardly worth while to cumber the world only to think of one’s belly.

Meanwhile, Ulenspiegel and the dame lived in good amity. And one day she said to him:

“Thyl, thou hast no manners: who art thou?”

“I am,” said he, “a son that Happy Chance had one day on Good Adventure.”

“Thou dost not missay thyself,” said she.

“’Tis for fear others may not praise me,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“Wouldst thou undertake the defence of thy brothers that are persecuted?”

“The ashes of Claes beat upon my breast,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“How goodly thou art there!” said she. “Who is this Claes?”

Ulenspiegel replied:

“My father, burned for his belief.”

“The Count of Meghem is not like thee,” she said. “He would bleed the country I love, for I was born at Antwerp the glorious city. Know then that he has accorded with the Councillor Scheyf of Brabant to admit him into Antwerp with his ten companies of infantry.” [306]

“I will denounce him to the citizens,” said Ulenspiegel, “and I go immediately, light as a ghost.”

He went, and on the morrow the townsfolk were in arms.

However, Ulenspiegel and Lamme, having left their asses with a farmer of Simon Simonsen’s, were forced to hide for fear of the Count de Meghem who had them searched for everywhere to have them hanged; for he had been told that two heretics had drunk of his wine and eaten of his meat.

He was jealous, and said so to the fair dame, who gnashed her teeth with anger, wept, and fainted seventeen times. The cookmaid did the same, but not so often, and declared upon her share of Paradise and eternal salvation that she nor her lady had done nothing, except to give the remains of a dinner to two poor pilgrims who, mounted on wretched donkeys, had stopped at the kitchen window.

And that day there were shed so many tears that the floor was all damp with them. Seeing which, Messire de Meghem was assured that they were not lying.

Lamme dared not show himself again at M. de Meghem’s house, for the cook always called him “My wife!”

And he was exceedingly grieved, thinking of the food; but Ulenspiegel always brought him some good dish, for he used to go into the house by the rue Sainte Catherine and hide in the garret.

The next day, at vespers, the Count de Meghem confessed to the handsome goodwife how that he had determined to fetch the gendarmerie he commanded into Bois-le-Duc before daybreak. The [307]goodwife went to the garret to recount this to Ulenspiegel.



Ulenspiegel in pilgrim’s robes set out incontinent with neither provisions nor money for Bois-le-Duc, in order to warn the citizens. He counted on taking a horse by the way at Jeroen Praet’s, Simon’s brother, for whom he had letters from the Prince, and from thence he would go full speed by cross-country ways to Bois-le-Duc.

Going along the highway, he saw a band of troopers coming. He was sore afraid because of the letters.

But, resolved to set a good face against misadventure, he waited the troopers stoutly, and stopped in the way muttering his paternosters; when they passed he marched with them, and learned that they were going to Bois-le-Duc.

A company of Walloons opened the march, and at the head was Captain Lamotte with his guard of six halberdiers; then according to their rank, the ensign with a smaller guard, the provost, his halberdiers and his two myrmidons, the chief of the watch, the baggage wardens, the executioner and his assistant, and fifes and tambourines making loud uproar.

Then came a Flemish company of two hundred men, with its captain and its standard bearer, and divided into two centuries commanded by the troop sergeants, and in decuries commanded by the rot-meesters. The provost and the stocks-knechten were likewise preceded by fifes and tambourines beating and squealing.

Behind them came, with bursts of laughter, twittering [308]like warblers, singing like nightingales, eating, drinking, dancing, standing, lying, or riding, their women; handsome wild girls, in two open carts.

Some were clad like lansquenets, but in fine white linen low-necked, slashed on the arms, the legs, the doublet, showing their sweet flesh; with caps on their heads of fine linen edged with gold, and surmounted by handsome ostrich plumes floating in the wind. At their belts of cloth-of-gold touched off with red satin, hung the cloth-of-gold scabbards of their daggers. And their shoes, stockings, and breeches, their doublets, laces, and metal trappings were all made of gold and white silk.

Others were also clad in the fashion of landsknechts, but in blue, in green, in scarlet, in azure, in crimson, slashed, broidered, blazoned at their own caprice. And all wore upon their arm the armlet of the colour that indicated their profession.

A hoer-wyfel, their sergeant, would fain have made them keep silence; but by their captivating grimaces and speeches they forced him to laugh and never obeyed him at all.

Ulenspiegel, in pilgrim array, walked in company with the two troops, as a small boat might with a great ship. And he kept on murmuring his paternosters.

Suddenly Lamotte said to him:

“Whither art thou going thus, Pilgrim?”

“Master Captain,” replied Ulenspiegel, who was hungry, “long ago I committed a grave sin and was condemned by the chapter of Notre Dame to go a-foot to Rome to ask for pardon from the Holy Father, who accorded it to me. I came back to these countries [309]cleansed of my offence on condition that on the way I should preach the Sacred Mysteries to all and any soldiers I might meet with, who should in return for my sermons give me bread and meat. And thus preaching I sustain my poor life. Will you grant me permission to keep my vow at the next halt?”

“Yea,” said Messire de Lamotte.

Ulenspiegel, mingling and fraternizing with the Walloons and Flemings, felt his letters underneath his doublet.

The girls cried out to him:

“Pilgrim, handsome pilgrim, come hither and show us the power of your scallops.”

Ulenspiegel, drawing near to them, said modestly:

“My sisters in God, mock not ye the poor pilgrim who goeth over mountain and by vale to preach the holy faith unto soldiers.”

And he devoured with his eyes their dainty charms.

But the girls, thrusting their sprightly faces into the openings in the canvas of the carts:

“You are very young,” said they, “to preach to soldiers. Come up into our carts, we will teach you pleasant discourses.”

Ulenspiegel would willingly have obeyed, but could not on account of his letters; already two of the girls, reaching their round white arms out of the cart, were trying to pull him up to them, when the hoer-wyfel, jealous, said to Ulenspiegel: “If you do not take yourself off, I will have your head off.”

And Ulenspiegel went farther off, looking slyly at the fresh girls, all golden in the sun, which shone bright and clear on the road.

They came to Berchem. Philippe de Lannoy, [310]sieur de Beauvoir, the commander of the Flemings, ordered them to halt.

At this place there was an oak of middle height, bereft of all its branches, except one big bough broken off halfway on which the month before there had been an Anabaptist hanged by the neck.

The soldiers stopped; the sutlers came to them, and sold them bread, wine, beer, meats of every kind. As for the girls, they sold them sugar, castrelins, almonds, tartlets, seeing which Ulenspiegel grew still hungrier.

Suddenly climbing up the tree like a monkey, he planted himself astride of the great bough that was some seven feet above the earth; there, lashing himself with a scourge, while the troopers and the girls made circle about him:

“In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” said he. “Amen. It is written: ‘He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord’: soldiers, and ye, beauteous dames, sweet companions in love to these valiant warriors, lend ye to the Lord, which is to say: give me bread, meat, wine, beer, if ye will, tartlets if it please you, and God, who is rich, will repay it you in morsels of ortolans, in rivers of malvoisie, in mountains of sugar candy, in rystpap which ye shall eat in paradise with silver spoons.”

Then bemoaning himself:

“See ye not with what cruel torments of penance I seek to merit forgiveness for my sins? Will ye not ease the sharp anguish of this scourge that woundeth my back and maketh me to bleed?”

“Who is this mad man?” said the troopers.

“Friends,” answered Ulenspiegel, “I am not mad, but repentant and famished; for while my spirit [311]weepeth for its guilty crimes, my belly weepeth its lack of meat. Blessed soldiers, and you, fair damsels, I see there among you fat ham, goose, sausages, wine, beer, tartlets. Will you not give somewhat to the pilgrim?”

“Aye, aye,” said the Flemish troopers, “he has a good old phiz, the preacher.”

And all began to throw pieces of food to him like balls. Ulenspiegel ceased not to talk, and went on eating, sitting astride the bough.

“Hunger,” said he, “maketh man hard-hearted and unfit for prayer, but ham taketh away this evil humour all of a sudden.”

“Look out, crackpot!” said a troop sergeant, throwing him a bottle half full.

Ulenspiegel caught the bottle in the air, and drinking by little sips, said:

“If a sharp and raging hunger is a thing harmful to the poor body of a man, there is another thing as hurtful, and that is the anguish of a poor pilgrim to whom generous soldiers have given, one a slice of ham, the others a bottle of beer. For the pilgrim is sober by his custom, and if he drank and had in his inside such scanty and trifling nourishment, he would be drunk immediately.”

As he spoke, he caught once again a goose’s thigh in the air.

“This,” said he, “is a thing miraculous, to fish meadow fish out of the air. But it has disappeared, bone and all. What is greedier than dry sand? A barren woman and a famished stomach.”

Suddenly he felt a halberd point prick him in the seat. And he heard an ensign say: [312]

“Do pilgrims disdain a leg of mutton for the nonce?”

Ulenspiegel saw, spitted on the blade of the halberd, a big knuckle bone. Taking it he said:

“I will make a marrow flute of it to sing thy praises, compassionate halberdier. And yet,” said he, eating at the knuckle bone, “what is a meal without dessert, what is a knuckle bone, however succulent, if after it the pilgrim doth not behold a tartlet displaying its blessed face?”

Saying this he put up his hand to his face, for two tartlets coming from the group of girls had flattened themselves out, one on his eye, the other on his cheek. And the girls laughed and Ulenspiegel answered:

“All thanks, sweet damsels, who give me accolades of sweetmeats.”

But the tartlets had fallen to the ground.

Suddenly the drums beat, the fifes squealed, and the soldiers resumed their march.

Messire de Beauvoir bade Ulenspiegel come down from his tree and march beside the troop from which he would fain have been a hundred leagues, for from the talk of some sour-faced troopers he scented that they were suspicious of him, that they would before long seize him for a spy, would search him and hang him if they found his letters.

And so, letting himself tumble into a ditch, he cried:

“Pity, soldiers; my leg is broken, I cannot walk farther, let me get up into the women’s cart.”

But he knew that the jealous hoer-wyfel would never allow it.

The girls called to him from their cart:

“Now, come up, dear pilgrim, come. We will love you, caress you, feast you, heal you all in one day.” [313]

“I know,” said he, “a woman’s hand is a heavenly balm for every wound.”

But the jealous hoer-wyfel, speaking to Messire de Lamotte:

“Messire,” said he, “I believe that this pilgrim is fooling us with his broken leg, to get into the cart of the women. Give orders to leave him in the road.”

“That is my will,” said Messire de Lamotte.

And Ulenspiegel was left in the ditch.

Certain troopers, believing that he had really broken his leg, were sorry for it because of his jollity. They left him meat and wine enough for two days. The girls would fain have gone to help him, but not being able to, they threw him all the castrelins they had left.

The band was far away; Ulenspiegel made across the fields in his pilgrim’s robes, bought a horse, and by highways and byways he came like the wind to Bois-le-Duc.

At the news of the coming of Messires de Beauvoir and de Lamotte, the townspeople took arms to the number of eight hundred, chose captains for them, and despatched Ulenspiegel to Antwerp disguised as a coalman to ask help from the Drinking Hercules, Brederode.

And the troopers of Messires de Lamotte and de Beauvoir could not come into Bois-le-Duc, a city armed and watchful, and ready for a stout defence.



The following month, a certain doctor, Agileus, gave Ulenspiegel two florins and letters with which he was to betake himself to Simon Praet, who would tell him what he had to do. [314]

At Praet’s, Ulenspiegel found food and shelter. He slept well, and well liking was his face in the flower of youth; Praet, on the contrary, with a wretched and pitiful mien, seemed for ever locked in with melancholy thoughts. And Ulenspiegel was astonished to hear by night, if by any chance he awoke, the noise of hammering.

However early he might rise, Simon Praet was up before him, and more pitiful his look, sadder still his eyes, gleaming like a man’s making ready for death or for battle.

Often Praet sighed, clasping his hands for prayer, and ever seemed filled with indignation. His fingers were black and greasy, and so, too, were his arms and his shirt.

Ulenspiegel determined to discover whence came the hammering, and the black arms and the melancholy of Praet. One night, having been at the Blauwe Gans, the tavern of the Blue Goose, in company with Simon who was there against his will, he feigned to be so drunk and to have so much in his head that he must needs take it incontinently to his pillow.

And Praet brought him home mournfully.

Ulenspiegel slept in the garret, under the cats; Simon’s bed was below, near the cellar.

Ulenspiegel, continuing his drunken feigning, went climbing staggering up the stairs, pretending to be about to fall and holding on by the rope. Simon helped him with tender care, like a brother. Having put him to bed, condoling with him for his drunkenness, and praying God to be good enough to forgive him, he came down, and soon Ulenspiegel heard the same noise of hammering that had awakened him many times. [315]

Getting up noiselessly, he went barefoot down the narrow stairs, so that after two and seventy steps he found himself in front of a low little door, through the chinks of which filtered a thread of light.

Simon was printing broadsides on the old types of the time of Laurens Coster, the great fosterer of the noble art of printing.

“What dost thou there?” asked Ulenspiegel.

Simon answered in affright:

“If thou art on the devil’s side, denounce me, that I may die; but if thou art on God’s side let thy mouth be prison to thy tongue.”

“I am on God’s side,” replied Ulenspiegel, “and wish thee no evil. What dost thou?”

“I am printing Bibles,” answered Simon. “For if by day to keep my wife and my children I publish the cruel and wicked edicts of His Majesty, by night I sow the true word of God and thus repair the ill I did during the day.”

“Thou art brave,” said Ulenspiegel.

“I have the faith,” replied Simon.

In very deed, it was from this holy printing shop that there issued the Bibles in Flemish that were distributed through the countries of Brabant, of Flanders, Holland, Zealand, Utrecht, Noord-Brabant, Over-Yssel, Gelderland, until the day when Simon was condemned to have his head cut off, thus finishing his life for Christ.



Simon said one day to Ulenspiegel:

“Listen, brother, hast thou courage?”

“I have enough,” replied Ulenspiegel, “to serve [316]to flog a Spaniard to the death, to kill an assassin, to destroy a murderer.”

“Could you,” asked the printer, “stay patiently in a chimney place to hear what is said in a room?”

Ulenspiegel made answer:—“Having by the grace of God, strong loins and supple knees, I can stay a long while as I please, like a cat.”

“Hast thou patience and a good memory?” asked Simon.

“The ashes of Claes beat upon my breast,” answered Ulenspiegel.

“Hearken, then,” said the printer; “you shall take this playing card folded in this wise, and you shall go to Dendermonde and knock twice loudly and once softly at the door of the house whose outward appearance is here limned. One will open to you and ask if you are the chimney sweeper; you shall answer that you are thin and that you have not lost the card. You shall then show him the card. And then, Thyl, you shall do your duty. Great woes hover above the land of Flanders. A chimney will be shown to you, prepared and swept in advance; you will find in it good climbing irons for your feet, and for your seat a little wooden board firmly stayed. When the one that opened the door to you bids you climb into the chimney, you shall do so, and there you shall remain quiet and still. Illustrious lords will meet within the chamber, before the chimney in which you will be. They are William the Silent, Prince of Orange, the Counts of Egmont, Hoorn, Hoogstraeten, and Ludwig of Nassau, the valiant brother of the Silent One. We of the reformed faith would know what these lords will and can undertake in order to save the country.” [317]

Now on the first of April Ulenspiegel did as he had been bidden, and posted himself in the chimney. He was satisfied to see that no fire burned in it, and thought that, having no smoke, he would thus have better hearing.

Presently, the door of the chamber opened, and he was pierced through and through by a gust of wind. But he took this wind patiently, saying that it would freshen his attentiveness.

Then he heard the lords of Orange, Egmont, and the others come into the chamber. They began to speak of their fears, of the king’s anger and the bad administration of the public moneys and finances. One of them spoke in sharp, haughty clear tones; that was Egmont. Ulenspiegel recognized Hoogstraeten by his hoarse voice; De Hoorn by his big voice; Count Louis of Nassau by his firm and warrior-like speaking; and the Silent One, by his pronouncing all his words slowly as if he had first weighed every one in a balance.

The Count of Egmont asked why they were brought together a second time, while at Hellegat they had had leisure to determine on what they meant to do.

De Hoorn replied:

“The hours go by swiftly, the king grows angry; let us take care not to waste time.”

The Silent One said then:

“The countries are in danger; we must defend them against the attack of an army of foreigners.”

Egmont replied, growing angry, that he found it astonishing that the king his master should think it necessary to send an army there, at a time when all was pacified by the care of the lords and especially by himself. [318]

But the Silent:

“Philip hath in the Low Countries fourteen bands of regulars, of whom all the soldiers are devoted to him who commanded at Gravelines and at Saint Quentin.”

“I do not understand,” said Egmont.

The prince went on:

“I do not wish to say more, but there will be read to you and the assembled lords certain letters, those from the poor prisoner Montigny to begin with.

“In these letters, Messire de Montigny wrote:

“‘The king is exceeding wroth at what has come to pass in the Low Countries, and he will punish the abettors of trouble at a given hour.’”

Herewith the Count of Egmont said that he was cold and that it would be well to light a great fire of wood. That was done while the two lords discussed the letters.

The fire did not catch because of the over-great stopper that was in the chimney, and the chamber was filled with smoke.

The Count of Hoogstraeten then read, coughing, the intercepted letters of Alava, the Spanish Ambassador, addressed to the Lady Governor.

“The Ambassador,” said he, “writes that all the ill that has befallen the Low Countries has come from the doings of three men: to wit, Orange, Egmont, and Hoorn. We must, says the Ambassador, show a fair face to these three lords and tell them that the king recognizes that he holds these countries in his obedience through their services. As for the two single ones, Montigny and De Berghes, they are in the place where they ought to be.”

“Ah,” said Ulenspiegel, “I like better a smoky [319]chimney in Flanders than a cool, airy prison in Spain: for garrottes spring up out of the damp walls.”

“The said Ambassador adds that the king said in the city of Madrid:

“‘By all that hath come to pass in the Low Countries our royal reputation is diminished, the service of God is disparaged, and we shall rather expose all our other lands than leave such a rebellion unpunished. We are determined to go in person to the Low Countries and to request the help of the Pope and of the Emperor. Under the present evil lies the future good. We will reduce the Low Countries under our absolute sway, and will change and modify to our mind state, religion, and government.’”

“Ah! Philip King,” said Ulenspiegel to himself, “if I could in my mode modify thee, thou shouldst undergo a great modification of thy thighs, arms, and legs under my Flemish cudgel; I should fasten thy head in the middle of thy back with two nails to see whether in that state, looking at the graveyard thou leavest behind thee, thou wouldst sing in thine own fashion thy song of tyrannical modifying.”

Wine was brought in. D’Hoogstraeten rose and said: “I drink to the countries!” All followed his example, and putting his tankard down empty on the table, he added: “The evil hour strikes for the Belgian nobles. We must take thought for means of defending ourselves.”

Waiting for an answer, he looked at Egmont, who uttered not a word.

But the Silent One spoke: “We will resist,” said he, “if Egmont who twice, at Saint Quentin and at Gravelines, made France tremble, who has all authority over the Flemish soldiers, will come to our rescue [320]and prevent the Spaniard from coming into our countries.”

Messire d’Egmont replied: “I think of the king with too much respect to believe that we must arm ourselves like rebels against him. Let those who fear his anger draw back. I will remain, having no way of living save by his help.”

“Philip may take cruel vengeance,” said the Silent.

“I have complete trust!” answered Egmont.

“Your head included?” asked Ludwig of Nassau.

“Included,” replied Egmont, “head, body, and loyal devotion, which are his.”

“Trusty and well-beloved, I will do even as thou,” said De Hoorn. Said the Silent:

“We must foresee and not wait.”

Then Messire d’Egmont, speaking vehemently, “I have,” said he, “had two and twenty reformed hanged at Grammont. If the preachings come to an end, if the image breakers are punished, the king’s anger will be appeased.”

The Silent replied:

“There are hopes that are uncertain.”

“Let us put on the armour of trust,” said Egmont.

“Let us put on the armour of trust,” said De Hoorn.

“It is iron we should arm with, not trust,” replied D’Hoogstraeten.

Hereupon the Silent made a sign that he wished to go.

“Adieu, Prince without land!” said Egmont.

“Adieu, Count without a head!” replied the Silent. Ludwig of Nassau said then: “For the sheep the butcher, and glory for the soldier that is the saviour of the land of our fathers!”

“I cannot, and will not,” said Egmont. [321]

“Blood of the victims,” said Ulenspiegel, “fall upon the head of the courtier!”

The lords withdrew.

Then Ulenspiegel came down out of his chimney and went immediately to bring the news to Praet. The latter said: “Egmont is a traitor, God is with the Prince.”

The Duke! the Duke in Brussels! Where are the strong boxes that have wings?

End of Vol. I



Printed in Great Britain by
Richard Clay & Sons, Limited

Bungay, Suffolk.

Table of Contents



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Volume two is available from Project Gutenberg as etext 40004.

Scans are available from the Internet Archive (Volume I: 1, 2; Volume II: 1, 2).

Till Eulenspiegel is a legendary medieval figure in Germany and the Low Countries. Well known for his practical jokes and pranks that circulate in stories and printed in chap-books since the 15th century.

Charles the Coster transplanted this figure to the 16th century and gave him a role in the war of independence of the Netherlands against Spain. Although some of the pranks have survived, this is a completely different story. By some this work is considered the Belgian national epic. Curiously, even though it deals mainly with Flanders, this work was originally written in French.

An abbreviated translation of this work by Geoffrey Whitworth is available under the title The Legend of the Glorious Adventures of Tyl Ulenspiegel in the land of Flanders.

An excellent Dutch translation is also available from Project Gutenberg.

Project Gutenberg catalog page: 38247.

Related Library of Congress catalog page: 22009000.

Related Open Library catalog page (for source): OL7083222M.

Related Open Library catalog page (for work): OL1274405W.

Related WorldCat catalog page: 647646543.


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The following corrections have been applied to the text:

Page Source Correction
25 Ulenspeigel Ulenspiegel
26, 26, 104, 104, 137, 137 Liége Liège
32 again against
35, 118, 125
65 appletrees apple trees
101 Van van
120 cves caves
129 [Not in source]
145 dear near
164, 223 [Deleted]
165 hiefers heifers
170, 176 [Not in source]
173 ik’t bevel ik bevel ’t
191, 191 chimney back chimney-back
264, 264, 265, 265 Koelkerke Koolkerke