The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book I Chapter 26

The beautiful and sweet lady on a day left Valladolid to go to her Ch?teau of Dudzeele in Flanders.

Passing through Damme attended by her fat seneschal, she saw sitting against the wall of a cottage a boy of fifteen blowing into a bagpipe. In front of him was a red dog that, not liking this music, howled in a melancholy fashion. The sun shone bright. Standing beside the lad there was a pretty girl laughing loudly at each fresh pitiful burst of howling from the dog.

The beautiful dame and the fat seneschal, as they passed by the cottage, looked at Ulenspiegel blowing, Nele laughing, and Titus Bibulus Schnouffius howling.

“Bad boy,” said the dame, addressing Ulenspiegel, “could you not cease from making that poor red beast howl in that way?”

But Ulenspiegel, with his eyes on her, blew up his bagpipe more stoutly still. And Bibulus Schnouffius howled still more melancholily, and Nele laughed the more.

The seneschal, growing angry, said to the dame, pointing to Ulenspiegel:

“If I were to give this beggar’s spawn a dressing with my scabbard, he would stop making this impudent hubbub.”

Ulenspiegel looked at the seneschal, called him Jan Papzak, because of his belly, and continued to blow his bagpipe. The seneschal went up to him with a threatening fist, but Bibulus Schnouffius threw himself on the man and bit him in the leg, and the seneschal tumbled down in affright crying out:


The dame said to Ulenspiegel, smiling:

“Could you not tell me, bagpiper, if the road that runs from Damme to Dudzeele has not been changed?”

Ulenspiegel, without stopping his playing, nodded his head and looked still at the dame.

“Why do you look so steadily at me?” she asked.

But he, still playing, stretched his eyes wide as though rapt in an ecstasy of admiration.

She said to him:

“Are you not ashamed, young as you are, to stare at ladies so?”

Ulenspiegel reddened slightly, went on blowing, and stared harder.

“I asked you,” she went on, “if the road that runs from Damme to Dudzeele has not altered?”

“It is not green now since you deprived it of the joy of carrying you,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“Wilt thou guide me?” said the dame.

But Ulenspiegel remained seated, still never taking his eyes from her. And she, seeing him so roguish, and knowing that it was a mere trick of youth, forgave him easily. He got up, and turned to go into his home.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“To put on my best clothes,” he replied.

“Go then,” said the dame.

She sat down then on the bench beside the doorstep; the seneschal did the same. She would have talked to Nele, but Nele did not answer her, for she was jealous.

Ulenspiegel came back carefully washed and clad in fustian. He looked well in his Sunday garb, the little man.

“Art thou verily going with this beautiful lady?” Nele asked him.

“I shall be back soon,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“If I were to go instead of you?” said Nele.

“Nay,” he said, “the roads are full of mire.”

“Why,” said the dame, angry and jealous together, “why, little girl, do you want to keep him from coming with me?”

Nele made her no answer, but big tears welled up from her eyes and she gazed on the dame in sadness and in anger.

They started on their way, four all told, the dame sitting like a queen on her white hackney caparisoned with black velvet; the seneschal whose belly shook to his walking; Ulenspiegel holding the dame’s hackney by the bridle, and Bibulus Schnouffius walking alongside him, tail in air proudly.

They rode and strode thus for some time, but Ulenspiegel was not at his ease; dumb as a fish he breathed in the fine odour of benjamin wafted from the dame, and looked out of the corners of his eyes at all her fine tags and rare jewels and furbelows, and also at her soft mien, her bright eyes, her bared bosom, and her hair that the sun made to shine like a golden cap.

“Why,” said she, “why do you say so little, my little man?”

He made no reply.

“Your tongue is not so deep down in your shoes that you could not manage a message for me?”

“Right,” said Ulenspiegel.

“You must,” said the dame, “leave me here and go to Koolkercke, on the other way of the wind, and tell a gentleman clad particoloured in black and red, that he must not look for me to-day, but to come on Sunday at ten at night, into my castle by the postern.”

“I will not go,” said Ulenspiegel.

“Why not?” asked the dame.

“I will not go, no!” said Ulenspiegel again.

The dame said to him:

“What is it then, little ruffled cock, that inspires thee with this fierce mind?”

“I will not go!” said Ulenspiegel.

“But if I gave thee a florin?”

“No!” said he.

“A ducat?”


“A carolus?”

“No,” said Ulenspiegel again. “And yet,” he added, sighing, “I should like it in my mother’s purse better than a mussel-shell.”

The dame smiled, then cried out suddenly:

“I have lost my fine rare purse, made of silken cloth and broidered with rich pearls! At Damme it was still hanging at my girdle.”

Ulenspiegel budged not, but the seneschal came forward to the dame.

“Madame,” he said, “send not this young thief to look for it, for you would never see it again.”

“And who will go then?” asked the dame.

“Myself,” he answered, “despite my great age.”

And he went off.

Noon struck, the heat was great, the solitude profound; Ulenspiegel said no word, but he doffed his new doublet that the dame might sit down in the shade beneath a lime, without fearing the cool of the grass. He remained standing close by her, sighing.

She looked at him and felt pity rising up in her for this timid little fellow, and asked him if he was not weary with standing so on his tender young legs. He answered not a word, and as he let himself drop down beside her, she tried to catch him, and pulled him on to her bared bosom, where he remained with such good will that she would have thought herself guilty of the sin of cruelty if she had bidden him seek another pillow.

However, the seneschal came back and said he had not found the purse.

“I found it myself,” replied the dame, “when I dismounted from my horse, for it had unfastened its broochpin and got caught up on the stirrup. Now,” she said to Ulenspiegel, “take us the direct way to Dudzeele and tell me how thou art called.”

“My patron,” he answered, “is Master Saint Thylbert, a name which signifies light of foot to run after good matters; my name is Claes and my to-name Ulenspiegel. If you would look at yourself in my mirror, you will see that there is not upon all this land of Flanders a flower of beauty so dazzling as your fragrant loveliness.”

The dame blushed with pleasure and was in no wise wroth with Ulenspiegel.

And Soetkin and Nele wept during this long absence.