The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book I Chapter 59

Ulenspiegel, leaving the landgrave of Hesse, mounted his ass and crossing the town square, met certain wrathful countenances of lords and ladies, but he took no heed of them.

Soon he arrived on the lands of the Duke of Lunebourg, and there fell in with a band of Smaedelyke broeders, jolly Flemings from Sluys who laid aside some money every Saturday so that once a year they could go for a tour in Germany.

They were going on their way singing, in an open cart drawn by a stout horse of Vuerne-Ambacht, that brought them gambolling by the highways and marshy lands of the duchy of Lunebourg. Among them were some that played the fife, the rebeck, the viol, and the bagpipe with a mighty din. Beside the cart there walked at frequent intervals a dikzak playing on the rommel-pot and going afoot in the hope of melting off some of his great belly.

As they were down to their last florin they saw Ulenspiegel come up to them, laden with chiming coin, and went into an inn and paid for his draught. Ulenspiegel gladly accepted. Seeing the while the Smaedelyke broeders were winking as they looked at him and smiling while they poured out his wine for him, he had wind of some trick, went outside, and posted himself at the door to hear their talk. He heard the dikzak saying of him:

“This is the painter of the landgrave who gave him more than a thousand florins for a picture. Let us feast him full with beer and wine, he will pay us back twofold.”

“Amen,” said the others.

Ulenspiegel went to fasten his ass all saddled a thousand paces away at a farmer’s, gave two patards to a girl to take charge of it, came back into the chamber of the inn and sat down at the Smaedelyke broeders’ table, without uttering a word. They poured out wine for him and paid. Ulenspiegel rattled the landgrave’s florins in his satchel, saying that he had just sold his ass to a countryman for seventeen silver daelders.

They travelled on, eating and drinking, playing the fife, the bagpipe, and rommel-pot, and picking up by the way the goodwives they thought comely. In this way they begot foundling children, and beyond all, Ulenspiegel, whose gossip later bore a son which she named Eulenspiegelken, which signifies, in high German, little mirror and owl, and that because she did not understand clearly the meaning of her casual man’s name, and also perhaps in memory of the hour when the child was made. And this is the Eulenspiegelken wrongly said to have been born at Krittingen, in the land of Saxony.

Drawn by their stout horse they went along a highway at the side of which was a village and an inn with the sign In den ketele: “In the Kettle.” Thence issued a goodly savour of fricassee.

The dikzak who played the rommel-pot went to the baes and said to him, speaking of Ulenspiegel:

“That is the landgrave’s painter; he will pay for all.”

The baes, perusing Ulenspiegel’s appearance, which was excellent, and hearing the chink of florins and daelders, set upon the table wherewith to eat and drink; Ulenspiegel did not shrink from it. And ever and always jingled the crowns in his wallet. Many a time, too, he had stuck his hand on his hat saying it covered his chief treasure. The revels having lasted two days and one night, the Smaedelyke broeders said to Ulenspiegel:

“Let us be off from here and pay the bill.”

Ulenspiegel answered:

“When the rat is in the cheese, doth he ask to leave it?”

“Nay,” said they.

“And when a man eats well and drinks well, does he seek out the dust of the roads and the water from springs full of leeches?”

“Nay, indeed,” said they.

“Well, then,” said Ulenspiegel, “let us stay here as long as my florins and daelders serve us as funnels to pour into our throats the drinks that bring us to laughter.”

And he bade the host bring still more wine and more sausage.

While they drank and ate, Ulenspiegel said:

“’Tis I who pay, I am landgrave for the nonce. If my wallet were empty, what would you do, comrades? You might take my soft felt headgear and you might find it full of carolus, in the crown as well as round the brim.”

“Let us feel,” cried they all with one accord. And sighing they felt in it between their fingers large coins of the size and dimensions of gold carolus. But one among them handled it so lovingly that Ulenspiegel took it back, saying:

“Impetuous dairy man, you must learn to await the milking hour.”

“Give me the half of your hat,” said the Smaedelyke broeders.

“Nay,” answered Ulenspiegel, “I don’t want you to have a madman’s brain, one half in the shade and the other in the sun.”

Then giving his headgear over to the baes:

“You,” said he, “do you keep it in any case, for it is hot. For my part, I am going out to ease me.”

He went, and the host took charge of the hat.

Presently he left the inn, went to the peasant’s cottage, got up upon his ass, and went off full speed along the road that leads to Embden.

The Smaedelyke broeders, not seeing him come back, said one to another:
“Has he gone? Who will pay the charges?”

The baes, seized with fear, cut open Ulenspiegel’s hat with a knife. But instead of the carolus, he found nothing in it between the felt and the lining but worthless copper counters.

Raging then against the Smaedelyke broeders he said to them:

“Brothers of roguery, ye shall not stir out of here save leaving behind all your clothes except only your shirts.”

And they had every man to strip off his clothes to pay his shot.

In this fashion they went in their shirts over hill and dale, for they would by no means sell their horse nor their cart.

And all that beheld them in so pitiable a plight, gave them freely bread to eat, beer, and sometimes meat; for everywhere they told the tale how they had been despoiled by robbers.

And among the lot they had but one pair of breeches.

And thus they came back to Sluys in their shirts, dancing in their cart and playing the rommel-pot.