The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book II Chapter 19

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.

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.

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.