The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book II Chapter 17

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 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?”

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.”

“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.”

“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 goodwife went to the garret to recount this to Ulenspiegel.