The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book II Chapter 1

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.”
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 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.”

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, 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; 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.