The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book II Chapter 7

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?”

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.

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!”