The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book I Chapter 20

When he was fifteen, Ulenspiegel erected a little tent at Damme upon four stakes, and he cried out that everyone might see within, represented in a handsome frame of hay, his present and future self.

When there came a man of law, haughty and puffed up with his own importance, Ulenspiegel would thrust his head out of the frame, and mimicking the face of an old ape, he would say:

“An old mug may decay, but never flourish; am I not your very mirror, good sir of the doctoral phiz?”

If he had a stout soldier for client, Ulenspiegel would hide and show in the middle of the frame, instead of his face, a dishful of meat and bread, and say:

“Battle will make hash of you; what will you give me for my prophecy, O soldier beloved of the big-mouthed sakers?”

When an old man, wearing ingloriously his hoary head, would bring Ulenspiegel his wife, a young woman, the boy, hiding himself as he had done for the soldier, and showing in the frame a little tree, on whose branches were hung knife handles, caskets, combs, inkhorns, all made of horn, would call out:

“Whence come all these fine nicknacks, Messire? Is it not from the hornbeam that groweth within the garden of old husbands? Who shall say now that cuckolds are folk useless in a commonweal?”

And Ulenspiegel would display his young face in the frame alongside the tree.

The old man, hearing him, would cough with masculine anger, but his dear wife would soothe him with her hand, and smiling, come up to Ulenspiegel.

“And my mirror,” she would say, “wilt thou show it to me?”

“Come closer,” Ulenspiegel would answer.

She would obey, and he then, kissing her wherever he could:

“Thy mirror,” he would say, “is stark youth with proud codpiece.”

And the darling would go away also, but not without giving him florins one or two.

To the fat, blear-eyed monk who would ask to see his present and future self, Ulenspiegel would answer:

“Thou art a ham cupboard, and so thou shalt be a still room for cervoise ale; for salt calleth upon drinking, is not this true, great belly? Give me a patard for not having lied.”

“My son,” the monk would reply, “we never carry money.”

“’Tis then the money carries thee,” would Ulenspiegel answer, “for I know thou dost put it between two soles under thy feet. Give me thy sandal.”

But the monk:

“My son, ’tis the property of the Convent; I will none the less take from it, if I must, two patards for thy trouble.”

The monk gave them. Ulenspiegel received them graciously.

Thus showed he their mirror to the folk of Damme, of Bruges, of Blankenberghe, nay, even as far away as Ostend.

And instead of saying to them in his Flemish speech: “Ik ben u lieden Spiegel,” “I am your mirror,” he said to them, shortening it, “Ik ben ulen spiegel,” even as it is still said to-day in East and West Flanders.

And from thence there came to him his surname of Ulenspiegel.