The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book I Chapter 3

Claes came to the canal of Bruges, not far from the sea.

There, baiting his line, he cast it in the water, and let down his net. A little lad, well attired, lay upon the other bank, sleeping like a log upon a clump of mussels.
The noise Claes made awoke him, and he would have fled away, fearing it might be some sergeant of the commune coming to turn him off his couch and hale him to the Steen for unlicensed vagrancy.

But his fears ceased when he knew Claes and when he heard him call:

“Would you like to earn six liards? Drive the fish this way.”

The lad on the word went down into the water, with his little belly already showing round and puffed up, and, arming himself with a tuft of long reeds, drove the fish toward Claes.

His fishing over, Claes drew in his net and line, and walking across the lock, came to the lad.

“You are he,” said Claes, “whom they call Lamme by baptism and Goedzak for your gentle nature, and you live in the street of the Heron, behind Notre Dame. How comes it, young and well clothed as you are, that you must needs sleep on a public bed?”

“Alas, master coalman,” replied the lad, “at home I have a sister a year younger than I, who beats me with heavy blows for the smallest wrangle. But I dare not take my revenge on her back, for I should do her a hurt. Last night, at supper, I was an-hungered and cleaned with my fingers a dish of beef and beans in which she meant to have a share. There was not enough of it for me, master. When she saw me licking my lips for the goodness of the sauce, she became as one out of her wits, and beat me so fast and furiously that I fled all bruised from out of the house.”

Claes asked him what his father and mother did during all this cuffing.

Lamme Goedzak replied:

“My father beat me on one shoulder and my mother on the other saying, ‘Avenge thyself, coward!’ But I, not willing to strike a girl, fled away.”

Suddenly Lamme grew pale and trembled all over.

And Claes saw a tall woman approaching, and by her side a little girl lean and of a fierce aspect.

“Ah!” said Lamme, taking hold of Claes by his breeches, “here be my mother and my sister coming to find me. Protect me, master coalman.”

“Here,” said Claes, “first take these seven liards for wages and let us go stoutly to meet them.”

When the two women saw Lamme, they ran to him and both were fain to beat him, the mother because she had been anxious and the sister because it was her habit.

Lamme hid behind Claes and cried:

“I have earned seven liards, I have earned seven liards, do not beat me!”

But already the mother was hugging him, while the little girl tried with might and main to open Lamme’s hands to have his money. But Lamme cried:

“It’s mine. You shall not have it.”

And he clenched his fists tight.

Claes shook the girl smartly by the ears and said to her:

“If you happen ever again to raise a brawl with your brother, who is as good and gentle as a lamb, I shall put you in a black coal-hole and there it will not be I that pull your ears, but the red devil out of hell, who will rend you in pieces with his long claws and his big forked teeth.”

At this threat the little girl, not daring now to look at Claes or to go near Lamme, took shelter behind her mother’s skirts. But as she went into the town she cried out everywhere:

“The coalman beat me: he has the devil in his cellar.”

However, she never struck Lamme again; but being tall, she made him work instead of her. And the kindly simpleton did it with a good will.

On his way back Claes had sold his catch to a farmer who usually bought it from him. And reaching home he said to Soetkin:

“Here is what I found in the belly of four pike, nine carp, and a basketful of eels.” And he threw two florins and a patard on the table.

“Why do you not go a-fishing every day, husband?” asked Soetkin.

Claes replied:

“Not to be fish myself in the nets of the constables.”