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

Being at Heyst, upon the dunes, Ulenspiegel and Lamme see, coming from Ostend, from Blanckenberghe, from Knokke, many fishing boats full of armed men, adherents of the Beggars of Zealand, who wear in their headgear the silver crescent with this inscription: “Better to serve the Turk than the Pope.”
Ulenspiegel is glad; he whistles like the lark; from all sides answers the warlike clarion of the cock.
The boats, sailing or fishing and selling their fish, come to land, one after the other, at Emden. There William of Blois is detained, who is equipping a ship under commission from the Prince of Orange.
Très-Long, having been at Emden for eleven weeks, was bitterly sick of waiting. He went from his ship to land and from the land to his ship, like a bear on a chain.
Ulenspiegel and Lamme, wandering about on the quays, saw there a lord of a jovial visage, somewhat melancholy and at a loss to heave up one of the paving-stones of the quay with a pikestaff. Not succeeding in this he still bent every effort to carry out his undertaking, while a dog gnawed at a bone behind him.
Ulenspiegel came to the dog and pretended to want to rob him of his bone. The dog growls; Ulenspiegel does not stop: the dog makes a great uproar of doggish wrath.
The lord, turning at the noise, said to Ulenspiegel:
“What good does it do thee to torment this beast?”
“What good does it do you, Messire, to torment this pavement?”
“It is not the same thing at all,” said the lord.
“The difference is not extreme,” replied Ulenspiegel; “if the dog sets store by his bone and wants to keep it, this pavement holds to its quay and is fain to remain on it. And it is the very least that folk like us may do, turning to busy ourselves about a dog when folk like you busy yourselves about a paving stone.”
Lamme remained behind Ulenspiegel, not daring to speak.
“Who art thou?” asked the lord.
“I am Thyl Ulenspiegel, the son of Claes, who died in the flames for his faith.”
And he whistled like the lark and the lord crowed like the cock.
“I am Admiral Très-Long,” said he; “what wouldst thou with me?”
Ulenspiegel narrated to him his adventures, and gave him five hundred carolus.
“Who is this big man?” asked Très-Long, pointing a finger at Lamme.
“My comrade and friend,” replied Ulenspiegel: “he desires, like myself, to sing on your ship, with the fine voice of a musket, the song of deliverance for the land of our fathers.”
“Ye are brave men both,” said Très-Long, “and ye shall go on my ship.”
They were then in the month of February; sharp was the wind, keen the frost. After three weeks of grudging waiting Très-Long left Emden under protest. Thinking to enter the Texel, he went out from Vlie, but was forced to go in to Wieringen, where his ship was locked up in the ice.
Soon there was a merry spectacle all about: sledges and skaters all in velvet; women skating in jackets and skirts broidered with gold, pearl, scarlet, azure; lads and lasses went, came, glided, laughed, following one another in line, or two by two, in pairs, singing the song of love upon the ice, or going to eat and drink in booths decked out with flags, brandy, oranges, figs, peperkoek, schols, eggs, hot vegetables, and eete-koeken, which are pancakes and pickled vegetables, while all about them sleds and sailing sleighs made the ice cry out under their runners.
Lamme, seeking his wife, went wandering on skates like the jolly men and women, but he fell often.
Meanwhile, Ulenspiegel went to drink and to feed in a small inn on the quay where he had not to pay too dear for his daily rations; and he liked to talk with the old baesine.
One Sunday about nine he went in there asking them to give him his dinner.
“But,” said he to a pretty woman coming forward to serve him, “baesine rejuvenated, what hast thou done with thy old wrinkles? Thy mouth hath all its teeth, white and girlish, and its lips are red as cherries. Is it for me, that soft and cunning smile?”
“No, no,” said she; “but what must I give you?”
“Thyself,” said he.
The woman answered:
“That would be too much for a starveling like you; would you not like other meat?”
Ulenspiegel making no reply:
“What have you done,” she said, “with that handsome, well-made, corpulent man whom I often saw with you?”
“Lamme?” said he.
“What have you done with him?” she said.
Ulenspiegel replied:
“He eats, in the booths, hard eggs, smoked eels, salt fish, zuertjes, and all that he can put under his tooth; and all to look for his wife. Why art thou not his wife, pretty one? Wouldst thou like fifty florins? Wouldst thou like a gold necklace?”
But she, crossing herself:
“I am not to buy or to take,” said she.
“Dost thou love naught?” said he.
“I love thee as my neighbour, but I love above all my Lord Christ and Madame the Virgin, who bid me live a chaste life. Hard and heavy are its duties, but God is our helper, we poor women. Yet there are some that succumb. Is thy big friend happy?”
Ulenspiegel replied:
“He is gay when he is eating, sad when fasting, and always pensive. But thou, art thou happy or sad?”
“We women,” said she, “are slaves of that that rules us!”
“The moon?” said he.
“Aye,” said she.
“I am going to tell Lamme to come to see thee.”
“Do not so,” said she; “he would weep and I in likewise.”
“Didst thou ever see his wife?” asked Ulenspiegel.
Sighing, she answered:
“She sinned with him and was condemned to a cruel penance. She knows that he goeth on the sea for the triumph of heresy, and that is a hard thing for a Christian heart to think on. Defend him if he is attacked; care for him if he is wounded: his wife bade me make this request of you.”
“Lamme is my brother and my friend,” replied Ulenspiegel.
“Ah!” she said, “why do ye not return to the bosom of our Mother Holy Church?”
“She devours her children,” answered Ulenspiegel.
And he went his way.
One morning in March, since the wind, that was blowing sharp and cutting, ceased not to thicken the ice, and Très-Long’s ship could not leave, the sailors and the soldiers of the vessel were holding feasting and revel on sledges and on skates.
Ulenspiegel was at the inn, and the pretty woman said to him, all woeful and as if bereft of her wits:
“Poor Lamme! poor Ulenspiegel!”
“Why do you lament?” asked he.
“Alas! Alas!” said she, “why do ye not believe in the mass. Ye would go to paradise, without a doubt, and I could save you in this life.”
Seeing her go to the door and listen attentively, Ulenspiegel said to her:
“It is not the snow falling that you are listening to?”
“No,” said she.
“It is not the moaning wind that you give ear to?”
“No,” she said again.
“Nor to the merry din that our valiant sailors are making in the tavern close by?”
“Death cometh as a thief,” she said.
“Death!” said Ulenspiegel. “I do not understand thee; come inside and speak.”
“They are there,” she said.
“Who?” she answered. “The soldiers of Simonen-Bol, who are to come, in the name of the duke, to throw themselves on all of you; if you are so well treated here, it is like the bullocks that are meant for the slaughter. Ah! why,” said she all in tears, “why did I not know it save but just now.”
“Do not weep, nor cry out,” said Ulenspiegel, “and stay where you are!”
“Do not betray me,” said she.
Ulenspiegel went out from her house, ran, made his way to all the booths and taverns, whispering into the ears of the seamen and the soldiers these words: “The Spaniard is coming.”
All ran to the ship, preparing with the utmost haste all that was needed for battle, and they awaited the enemy. Ulenspiegel said to Lamme:
“Seest thou yon pretty woman standing upon the quay, with her black dress embroidered with scarlet, and hiding her face under her white hood?”
“It is all one to me,” replied Lamme. “I am cold; I want to sleep.”
And he rolled his head up in his opperst-kleed. And like that he was as a man deaf.
Ulenspiegel then recognized the woman and called to her from the ship:
“Dost thou wish to follow us?”
“To the grave,” said she, “but I cannot…”
“Thou wouldst do well,” said Ulenspiegel; “yet think of this: when the nightingale stays in the forest, it is happy and sings; but if it leaves the forest and risks its little wings in the wind of the great sea, it breaks them and dies.”
“I have sung in my house,” said she, “and would sing outside if I could.” Then drawing closer to the ship: “Take this ointment,” she said, “for thyself and thy friend who sleeps when he should wake…”
And she went away saying:
“Lamme! Lamme! God keep thee from harm; come back safe.”
And she uncovered her face.
“My wife, my wife!” cried Lamme.
And he would have leaped down on the ice.
“Thy faithful wife!” said she.
And she ran away swiftly.
Lamme would have leaped from off the deck down on the ice, but he was prevented by a soldier, who held him back by his opperst-kleed. He cried, wept, implored that he might be given leave to go. But the provost said to him:
“Thou shalt be hanged if thou dost leave the ship.”
Again Lamme would have cast himself on the ice, but an old Beggar held him back, saying to him:
“The floor is damp, you might get your feet wet.”
And Lamme fell on his behind, weeping and saying without ceasing:
“My wife, my wife! let me go to my wife!”
“Thou shalt see her again,” said Ulenspiegel. “She loves thee, but she loves God more than thee.”
“The mad she-devil,” cried Lamme. “If she loves God more than her husband, why does she show herself to me lovely and desirable? And if she loves me, why does she leave me?”
“Dost thou see clear in a deep well?” asked Ulenspiegel.
“Alas!” said Lamme, “I shall die before long.”
And he stayed upon the deck, livid and distraught.
Meanwhile, had come up the men of Simonen-Bol, with a great artillery.
They fired against the ship, which replied to them. And their cannon balls broke the ice all about it. Towards evening a warm rain fell.
The wind blowing from the west, the sea grew angry under the ice, and heaved it up in immense blocks, which were seen rising up on high, falling back again, clashing against one another, one mounting on top of another, not without peril to the ship, which when dawn broke through the clouds of night, opened out its canvas wings like a bird of freedom and sailed towards the free ocean.
There they joined up with the fleet of Messire de Lumey de la Marche, admiral of Holland and Zealand, and chief and captain-general, and as such carrying a lantern at his ship’s peak.
“Look well at him, my son,” said Ulenspiegel; “that one will never spare thee, if thou shouldst wish to leave the ship against orders. Hearest thou his voice breaking forth like thunder? See how broad and strong he is in his great stature! Look at his long hands with the crooked nails! See his round eyes, eagle eyes and cold, and his long pointed beard that he means to leave to grow until he has hanged all the monks and priests to avenge the death of the two counts! See him redoubtable and cruel; he will have thee hanged high on a short rope, if thou dost continue to whine and cry always: ‘My wife!’”
“My son,” replied Lamme, “he that talks of a halter for his neighbour has already the hempen cravat on his own neck.”
“Thou thyself shalt be the first to wear it. Such is my vow as a friend,” said Ulenspiegel.
“I shall see thee on the gallows,” replied Lamme, “thrust out thy poisonous tongue a fathom out of thy mouth.”
And both were in mere jest.
On that day Très-Long’s ship took a ship from Biscay laden with mercury, gold dust, wines, and spices. And the ship was emptied of its marrow, men, and booty, as a beef bone under a lion’s teeth.
It was at this time also that the duke ordained in the Low Countries cruel and abominable imposts, obliging all the inhabitants who sold real or personal estate to pay one thousand florins in ten thousand. And this tax was a permanent one. All sellers and buyers whatsoever must pay the king the tenth part of the purchase price, and it was said among the people that if goods were sold ten times within a week the king should have all.
And thus commerce and industry took the way towards Ruin and Death.
And the Beggars took Briele, a strong seaboard fortress that was christened the Orchard of Freedom.