The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book I Chapter 43

Ulenspiegel being at Li?ge, in the fish market, he followed after a big young man who with a net bag under one arm filled with every kind of poultry was filling another with haddocks, trout, eels, and pike.

Ulenspiegel knew Lamme Goedzak.

“What are you doing here, Lamme?” said he.

“You know,” said he, “how many Flanders folk have come to this kind country of Li?ge; for me, I follow my love here. And you?”

“I seek a master to serve for my bread,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“That is very dry food,” said Lamme. “It would be better for you to pass from dish to mouth a rosary of ortolans with a thrush for Credo.”

“You are rich?” asked Ulenspiegel.

Lamme Goedzak answered:

“I have lost my father, my mother, and my young sister that used to beat me so soundly; I shall inherit their goods, and I live with a one-eyed servant woman, a great doctor in fricassees.”

“Would you like me to carry your fish and your poultry?” asked Ulenspiegel.

“Aye,” said Lamme.

And together they wandered about the market.

Suddenly Lamme said:

“Do you know why you are mad?”

“No,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“Because you are carrying your fish and your poultry in your hand, instead of carrying them in your belly.”

“You have said well, Lamme,” said Ulenspiegel; “but since I have no longer even bread, the ortolans won’t look at me now.”

“You shall eat them, Ulenspiegel,” said Lamme, “and you shall serve me if my cook will have you.”

While they were wending their way, Lamme pointed out to Ulenspiegel a pretty, neat, and lovesome girl, in silk attire, who was hastening about the market here and there and looked at Lamme with her soft eyes.

An old man, her father, walked behind her, laden with two net bags, one of fish, the other of game.

“That one,” said Lamme, pointing to her, “I am going to make her my wife.”

“Aye,” said Ulenspiegel, “I know her, she is Flemish from Zotteghem, she lives in the rue Vinave-d’Isle, and the neighbours say that her mother sweeps the street, in front of the house, instead of her, and that her father irons her shifts.”

But Lamme made no answer and said gleefully:

“She looked at me.”

They came together to Lamme’s house, near the Pont-des-Arches, and knocked at the door. A one-eyed serving woman came and opened to them. Ulenspiegel saw she was old, lean and long, flat and fierce.

“La Sanginne,” said Lamme to her, “will you have this one to help you in your work?”

“I will take him on trial,” said she.

“Take him, then,” said he, “and make him know and test the delights of your cookery.”

La Sanginne then put three black puddings on the table, a quart of cervoise ale, and a big hunch of bread.

While Ulenspiegel ate, Lamme also munched a black pudding.

“Do you know,” said he, “where our soul hath its habitation?”

“No, Lamme,” said Ulenspiegel.

“In our stomach it dwelleth,” said Lamme, “to delve therein without ceasing and ever renew in our bodies the force of life. And what are its best companions? They are all good and choice eatables and wine of the Meuse over and above.”

“Aye,” said Ulenspiegel, “black puddings are agreeable company for the lonely soul.”

“He wants more of them, give him some, la Sanginne,” said Lamme.

La Sanginne gave him more, this time white puddings.

While he was eating largely, Lamme, grown pensive, said:

“When I die, my belly will die with me, and there below in purgatory, I shall be left fasting, carrying my paunch about with me all flabby and empty.”

“The black seem to me better,” said Ulenspiegel.

“You have eaten six,” replied la Sanginne, “and you shall have no more.”

“You know,” said Lamme, “that you will be well treated here and will eat like myself.”

“I will remember that word,” said Ulenspiegel.

Ulenspiegel, seeing that he ate the same as Lamme, was happy and content. The black puddings had given him so high a spirit that on that day he made all the caldrons, pans, and cooking pots shine and glitter like so many suns.

Living well in this house, he delighted to haunt kitchen and cellar, leaving the garret to the cats. One day, la Sanginne had two fowls to roast and bade Ulenspiegel turn the spit while she went to the market to fetch herbs for the seasoning.

The two fowls being roasted, Ulenspiegel ate one. La Sanginne, returning, said:

“There were two fowls, now I see only one.”

“Open your other eye, you will see both of them,” replied Ulenspiegel.

She went all in a rage to tell the business to Lamme Goedzak, who came down into the kitchen and said to Ulenspiegel:

“Why do you make game of my servant? There were two fowls.”

“There were of a truth two, Lamme,” said Ulenspiegel, “but when I came here you told me I should drink and eat as yourself. There were two fowls; I have eaten one, you will eat the other; my pleasure is past, yours is to come; are you not better off than I?”

“Yea,” said Lamme, smiling, “but do everything la Sanginne bids you, and you will have but half tasks.”

“I shall watch that, Lamme,” replied Ulenspiegel.

And so, every time that la Sanginne bade him do anything, he only did the half of it; if she told him to draw two buckets of water from the well, he brought back only one; if she told him to go and fill a jug of cervoise from the cask, he poured half of it down his throat on the way and so on with the rest.

At length la Sanginne, grown tired of these ways, told Lamme that if this good-for-naught remained in the house, she would go away on the spot.

Lamme went down to Ulenspiegel and said to him:

“You must depart, my son, although you have come to look well in this house. Listen to that cock crowing, it is two o’clock of the afternoon, it is a presage of rain. I would fain not turn you out of doors in this ill weather that is about to come upon us; but consider, my son, that la Sanginne by her fricassees is the warden of my life; I cannot, without risking a speedy death, allow her to leave me. Go, then, my boy, with God’s grace, and to enliven your way take these three florins and this string of saveloys.”

And Ulenspiegel went away grieving, regretting Lamme and his fleshpots.