The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book II Chapter 3

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 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?”

“Aye,” said Ulenspiegel.

“At last!” said Lamme.