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

The night of the day after this, when the dawn was rising gray, Ulenspiegel was awakened by Lamme crying:
“Ulenspiegel! Ulenspiegel! help, rescue, keep her from going away. Cut the cords! cut the cords!”
Ulenspiegel came up on the deck and said:
“Why dost thou call out? I see naught.”
“’Tis she,” replied Lamme, “she, my wife, there, in that skiff rounding that flyboat; aye, that flyboat whence there came the sound of singing and the viol strings.”
Nele had come up on deck.
“Cut the cords, my dear,” said Lamme. “Seest thou not that my wound is cured, her soft hand hath healed it; she, aye, she. Dost thou see her standing up in the skiff? Dost thou hear? she is singing still. Come, my beloved, come; flee not from thy poor Lamme, who was so lonely in the world without thee.”
Nele took his hand, touched his face.
“He hath the fever still,” she said.
“Cut the cords,” said Lamme; “give me a skiff! I am alive, I am happy, I am healed!”
Ulenspiegel cut the cords: Lamme, leaping from his bed in breeches of white linen, without a doublet, set to work himself to lower away the skiff.
“See him,” said Nele to Ulenspiegel: “his hands tremble with impatience as they work.”
The skiff ready, Ulenspiegel, Nele, and Lamme went down into it with an oarsman, and set off towards the flyboat anchored far off in the harbour.
“See the goodly flyboat,” said Lamme, helping the oarsman.
On the fresh morning sky, coloured like crystal gilded by the rays of the young sun, the flyboat showed up her hull and her elegant masts.
While Lamme rowed:
“Tell us now how didst find her again,” asked Ulenspiegel.
Lamme replied, speaking in jerks:
“I was sleeping, already much better. All at once a dull noise. A piece of wood struck the ship. A skiff. A sailor hurries up at the noise: ‘Who goes there?’ A soft voice, her voice, my son, her voice, her sweet voice: ‘Friends.’ Then a deeper voice: ‘Long live the Beggar: the commander of the flyboat Johannah to speak with Lamme Goedzak.’ The sailor drops the ladder. The moon was shining. I see a man’s shape coming up on to the deck: strong hips, round knees, wide pelvis; I say to myself: ‘a pretended man’: I feel as it might be a rose opening and touching my cheek: her mouth, my son, and I hear her saying to me, she – dost thou follow? – herself, covering me with kisses and with tears: ’twas liquid perfumed fire falling on my body: ‘I know I am sinning; but I love thee, my husband! I have sworn before God: I am breaking my oath, my man, my poor man! I have come often without daring to come nigh thee; the sailor at last allowed me: I dressed thy wound, thou knewest me not; but I have healed thee; be not wroth, my man! I have followed thee, but I am afraid; he is upon this ship, let me go; if he saw me he would curse me and I should burn in the everlasting fire!’ She kissed me again, weeping and happy, and went away in spite of me, despite my tears: thou hadst bound me hand and foot, my son, but now…”
And saying this he bent mightily to his oars: ’twas like the taut string of a bow that launches the arrow forthright.
As they approached the flyboat, Lamme said:
“There she is, upon the deck, playing the viol, my darling wife with her hair of golden brown, with the brown eyes, the cheeks still fresh and young, the bare round arms, the white hands. Leap onward, skiff, over the sea!”
The captain of the flyboat, seeing the skiff coming up and Lamme rowing like a demon, had a ladder dropped from the deck. When Lamme was by it, he leapt from the skiff on to the ladder at the risk of tumbling into the sea, thrusting the skiff three fathoms behind him and more; and climbing like a cat up to the deck, ran to his wife, who swooning with joy, kissed and embraced him, saying:
“Lamme! come not to take me: I have sworn to God, but I love thee. Ah! dear husband!”
Nele cried out:
“It is Calleken Huybrechts, the pretty Calleken.”
“’Tis I,” said she, “but alas! the hour of noon has gone by for my beauty.”
And she seemed wretched.
“What hast thou done?” said Lamme: “what became of thee? Why didst thou leave me? Why wilt thou leave me now?”
“Listen,” said she, “and be not wroth; I will tell thee: knowing that all monks are men of God I confided in one of them: his name was Broer Cornelis Adriaensen.”
Hearing which Lamme:
“What!” said he, “that wicked hypocrite who had a sewer mouth, full of filth and dirt, and spoke of naught but spilling the blood of the Reformed; what! that praiser of the Inquisition and the edicts! Ah, it was a blackguardly good-for-naught rascal!”
Calleken said:
“Do not insult the man of God.”
“The man of God!” said Lamme, “I know him; ’twas a man of filth and foulness. Wretched fate! my beautiful Calleken fallen into the hands of this lascivious monk! Come not near me, I will kill thee: and I that loved her so much! my poor deceived heart that was all her own! What dost thou come hither for? Why didst thou tend me? thou shouldst have left me to die. Begone, thou; I would see thee no more, begone, or I fling thee in the sea. My knife!..”
She, embracing him:
“Lamme,” said she, “my husband, weep not: I am not what thou deemest: I have not belonged to this monk.”
“Thou liest,” said Lamme, weeping and grinding his teeth both at the same time. “Ah! I was never jealous, and now I am. Sad passion, anger, and love, the need to slay and embrace. Begone, thou! no, stay! I was so good to her! Murder is master in me. My knife! Oh! this burns, devours, gnaws; thou laughest at me…
She embraced him weeping, gentle and submissive.
“Aye,” said he, “I am a fool in my anger: aye, thou didst guard my honour, that honour a man is mad enough to hang on a woman’s skirts. So it was for that thou wast wont to pick out thy sweetest smiles to ask me leave to go to the sermon with thy she-friends.”
“Let me speak,” said the woman, embracing him. “May I die on the instant if I deceive thee!”
“Die, then,” said Lamme, “for thou art going to lie.”
“Listen to me,” said she.
“Speak or speak not,” said he, “’tis all one to me.”
“Broer Adriaensen,” she said, “passed for a good preacher; I went to hear him: he set the ecclesiastic and celibate estate above all others as being more proper to win paradise for the faithful. His eloquence was great and fiery: several wives of good repute, of whom I was one, and in especial a goodly number of widow women and girls, had their minds troubled by it. The estate of celibacy being so perfect, he enjoined upon us to dwell therein: we swore thenceforward no longer to be spouses…”
“Save to him, no doubt,” said Lamme, weeping.
“Be silent,” said she, angry.
“Go to,” said he, “finish: thou hast fetched me a bitter blow; I shall never be whole of it.”
“Yea,” said she, “my man, when I shall be always with thee.”
And she would fain have embraced and kissed him, but he repulsed her.
“The widows,” said she, “swore between his hands never to marry again.”
And Lamme listened to her, lost in his jealous musing.
Calleken, shamefaced, went on:
“He desired,” she said, “to have no penitents save young and beauteous wives or maids: the others he sent back to their own curés. He established an order of devotees, making us all swear to have no other confessors but himself only: I swore it; my companions, more initiate than I, asked me if I was fain to be instructed in the Holy Discipline and the Holy Penance: I wished it. There was at Bruges, at the Stone Cutters’ Quay, by the convent of the Franciscan friars, a house dwelt in by a woman called Calle de Najage, who gave girls instruction and lodging, for a gold carolus by the month: Broer Cornelis could enter her house without being seen to leave his cloister. It was to this house I went, into a little chamber where he was alone: there he ordered me to tell him all my natural and carnal inclinations: at first I dared not; but in the end I gave way, wept, and told him all.”
“Alas!” wept Lamme, “and this swine monk thus received thy sweet confession.”
“He still told me, and this is true, my husband, that above earthly modesty is a celestial modesty, through which we make unto God the sacrifice of our earthly shames, and that thus we avow to our confessors all our secret desires, and are then worthy to receive the Holy Discipline and the Holy Penance.
“In the end he made me strip naked before him, to receive upon my body, which had sinned, the too-light chastisement of my faults. One day he made me unclothe myself; I fainted when I must let my body linen fall: he revived me with salts and flasks. – ‘’Tis well for this time, daughter,’ said he, ‘come back in two days’ time and bring a rod.’ That went on for long without ever … I swear it before God and all his saints … my man … understand me … look at me … see if I lie: I remained pure and faithful … I loved thee.”
“Poor sweet body,” said Lamme, “O stain upon thy marriage robe!”
“Lamme,” said she, “he spoke in the name of God and of our Holy Mother Church; was I not to listen to him? I loved thee always, but I had sworn to the Virgin, by dreadful oaths, to deny myself to thee: yet I was weak, weak to thee. Dost thou recall the hostelry of Bruges? I was at the house of Calle de Najage thou didst pass by upon thine ass with Ulenspiegel. I followed thee; I had a goodly sum of money; I spent nothing ever for myself. I saw thee an hungered: my heart pulled towards thee, I had pity and love.”
“Where is he now?” asked Ulenspiegel.
Calleken replied:
“After an inquiry ordered by the magistrate and an investigation of evil men, Broer Andriaensen must needs leave Bruges, and took refuge in Antwerp. They told me on the flyboat that my man had made him prisoner.”
“What!” said Lamme, “this monk I am fattening is…”
“He,” answered Calleken, hiding her face.
“A hatchet! a hatchet!” said Lamme, “let me kill him, let me auction his fat, the lascivious he-goat! Quick, let us back to the ship. The skiff! where is the skiff?”
Nele said to him:
“’Tis a foul cruelty to kill or to wound a prisoner.”
“Thou lookest on me with a cruel eye; wouldst thou prevent me?” said he.
“Aye,” said she.
“Well, then,” said Lamme, “I will do him no hurt: let me only fetch him out from his cage. The skiff! where is the skiff?”
They climbed down into it speedily; Lamme made haste to row, weeping the while.
“Thou art sad, husband?” said Calleken to him.
“Nay,” said he, “I am glad: doubtless thou wilt never leave me again?”
“Never!” said she.
“Thou wast pure and faithful, thou sayest; but, sweet, my darling, beloved Calleken, I lived but to find thee, and lo, now, thanks to this monk, there will be poison in all our happiness, poison of jealousy … as soon as I am sad or but only tired, I shall see thee naked, submitting thy lovely body to that infamous flagellation. The spring time of our loves was mine, but the summer was for him; the autumn will be gray, soon will come the winter to bury my faithful love.”
“Thou art weeping?” said she.
“Aye,” quoth he, “what is past can never come again.”
Then Nele said:
“If Calleken was faithful, she ought to leave thee alone for thy ill words.”
“He knoweth not how I love him,” said Calleken.
“Dost thou say true?” cried Lamme; “come, darling; come, my wife; there is no longer gray autumn nor winter that diggeth graves.”
And he seemed cheerful, and they came to the ship.
Ulenspiegel gave Lamme the keys of the cage, and he opened it; he tried to pull the monk out on the deck by the ear, but he could not; he tried to fetch him out sideways, he could not do that, either.
“We must break all; the capon is fattened,” said he.
The monk then came forth, rolling about big daunted eyes, holding his paunch with both hands, and fell down on his seat because of a great wave that passed beneath the ship.
And Lamme, speaking to the monk:
“Wilt thou still say, ‘big man’? Thou art bigger than I. Who made thee seven meals a day? I. Whence cometh it, bawler, that now thou art quieter, milder towards the poor Beggars?”
And continuing further:
“If thou dost stay another year encaged, thou wilt not be able to come out again: thy cheeks quiver like pork jelly when thou dost move: thou criest no longer already; soon thou wilt not be able to breathe.”
“Hold thy peace, big man,” said the monk.
“Big man,” said Lamme, becoming furious; “I am Lamme Goedzak, thou art Broer Dikzak, Vetzak, Leugenzak, Slokkenzak, Wulpszak, the friar big sack, grease sack, lying sack, cram sack, lust sack: thou hast four fingers deep of fat under thy skin, thy eyes can be seen no longer: Ulenspiegel and I would both lodge comfortably within the cathedral of thy belly! Thou didst call me big man; wilt thou have a mirror to study thy Bellyness? ’Tis I that fed thee, thou monument of flesh and bone. I have sworn that thou wouldst spit grease, sweat grease, and leave behind thee spots of grease like a candle melting in the sun. They say that apoplexy cometh with the seventh chin; thou hast five and a half by now.”
Then to the Beggars:
“Look at this lecher! ’tis Broer Cornelis Adriaensen Rascalsen, of Bruges: there he preached the new modesty. His grease is his punishment; his grease is my work. Hear now, all ye sailors and soldiers: I am about to leave you, to leave thee, thee, Ulenspiegel, to leave thee, too, thee, little Nele, to go to Flushing where I have property, to live there with my poor wife that I have found again. Of yore ye took an oath to grant me all that I might ask of you…”
“On the word of the Beggars,” said they.
“Then,” said Lamme, “look on this lecher, this Broer Adriaensen Rascalsen of Bruges; I swore to make him die of fatness like a hog; construct a wider cage, force him to take twelve meals a day instead of seven; give him a rich and sugared diet: he is like an ox already; see that he be like an elephant, and ye will soon see him fill the cage.”
“We shall fatten him,” said they.
“And now,” went on Lamme, speaking to the monk, “I bid thee also adieu, rascal, thee whom I cause to be fed monkishly instead of having thee hanged: grow in grease and in apoplexy.”
Then taking his wife Calleken in his arms:
“Look, growl or bellow, I take her from thee; thou shalt whip her never more.”
But the monk, falling in a fury and speaking to Calleken:
“Thou art going away then, carnal woman, to the bed of lust! Aye, thou goest without pity for the poor martyr for the word of God, that taught thee the holy, sweet, celestial discipline. Be accursed! May no priest give thee absolution; may earth be burning underneath thy feet; may sugar be salt to thee; may beef be as dead dog to thee; may thy bread be ashes; may the sun be ice to thee, and the snow hell fire; may thy child-bearing be accursed; may thy children be detestable; may they have the bodies of apes, pigs’ heads greater than their bellies; mayst thou suffer, weep, moan in this world and in the other, in the hell that awaits thee, the hell of sulphur and bitumen kindled for females such as thou art. Thou didst refuse my fatherly love: be thrice accursed by the Blessed Trinity, seven times accursed by the candlesticks of the Ark; may confession be to thee damnation; may the Host to thee be mortal poison, and may every paving stone in the church rise up to crush thee and say to thee: ‘This woman is the fornicator, this woman is accursed, this woman is damned’.”
And Lamme, rejoicing, jumping for joy, said:
“She was faithful; he said it, the monk: hurrah for Calleken!”
But she, weeping and trembling:
“Remove it,” she said, “my man, remove this curse from over me. I see hell! Remove the curse!”
“Take off the curse,” said Lamme.
“I will not, big man,” rejoined the monk.
And the woman remained all pale and swooning, and on her knees with hands folded she besought Broer Adriaensen.
And Lamme said to the monk:
“Take off thy curse, else thou shalt hang, and if the rope breaks because of thy weight, thou shalt be hanged again and again until death ensues.”
“Hanged and hanged again,” said the Beggars.
“Then,” said the monk to Calleken, “go, wanton, go with this big man; go, I lift my curse from thee, but God and all the saints will have their eyes upon thee; go with this big man, go.”
And he held his peace, sweating and puffing.
Suddenly Lamme cried out:
“He puffs, he puffs! I see the sixth chin; at the seventh ’tis apoplexy! And now,” said he to the Beggars:
“I commend you to God, thou Ulenspiegel; to God, you all my good friends, to God, thou Nele; to God the holy inspirer of liberty: I can do no more for her cause.”
Then having given all and taken from all the kiss of parting, he said to his wife Calleken:
“Come, it is the hour for lawful loves.”
While the boat was slipping over the water, carrying off Lamme and his beloved, he in the stern, soldiers, sailors, and cabin boys all called out, waving their caps: “Adieu, brother; adieu, Lamme; adieu, brother, brother and friend.”
And Nele said to Ulenspiegel, taking a tear from out the corner of his eye with her dainty finger:
“Thou art sad, my beloved?”
“He was a good fellow,” said he.
“Ah!” said she, “this war will never end; shall we be forced to live forever in blood and in tears?”
“Let us seek out the Seven,” said Ulenspiegel: “it draws nigh, the hour of deliverance.”
Following Lamme’s behest, the Beggars fattened the monk in his cage. When he was set at liberty, in consideration of ransom, he weighed three hundred and seventeen pounds and five ounces, Flemish weight.
And he died prior of his convent.