The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book I Chapter 21

As he grew up, he conceived a liking for wandering about through fairs and markets. If he saw there any one playing on the hautbois, the rebeck, or the bagpipes, he would, for a patard, have them teach him the way to make music on these instruments.

He became above all skilled in playing on the rommel-pot, an instrument made of a pot, a bladder, and a stout straw. This is how he arranged them: he damped the bladder and strained it over the pot, fastened with a string the middle of the bladder round the knot on the straw, which was touching the bottom of the pot, on the rim of which he then fixed the bladder stretched to bursting point. In the morning, the bladder, being dried, gave the sound of a tambourine when it was struck, and if the straw of the instrument was rubbed it hummed better than a viol. And Ulenspiegel, with his pot booming and sounding like a mastiff’s barking, went singing carols at house doors in company with youngsters, one of whom carried the shining star made out of paper on Twelfth Night.

If any master painter came to Damme to pourtray, on their knees on canvas, the companions of some Guild, Ulenspiegel, desiring to see how he wrought, would ask to be allowed to grind his colours, and for all salary would accept only a slice of bread, three liards, and a pint of ale.

Applying himself to the grinding, he would study his master’s manner. When the master was away, he would try to paint like him, but put vermilion everywhere. He tried to paint Claes, Soetkin, Katheline, and Nele, as well as quart pots and sauce-pans. Claes prophesied to him, seeing his works, that if he would be bold and persevering, he might one day earn florins by the score, painting inscriptions on the speel-wagen, which are pleasure carts in Flanders and in Zealand.

He learned, too, from a master mason how to carve wood and stone, when the man came to make, in the choir of Notre Dame, a stall so constructed that when it was necessary the aged dean could sit down on it while still seeming to remain standing.

It was Ulenspiegel who carved the first handle for the knife used by the Zealand folk. This handle he made in the shape of a cage. Within there was a loose death’s head; above it a dog in a lying posture. These emblems taken together signify “Blade faithful to the death.”

And in this wise Ulenspiegel began to fulfil the prediction of Katheline, showing himself painter, sculptor, clown, noble, all at once and together, for from father to son the Claes bore for arms three quart pots argent on a field of bruinbier.

But Ulenspiegel was constant to no trade, and Claes told him if this game went on, he would turn him away from the cottage.