The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book I Chapter 60

Meanwhile Ulenspiegel bestrode the back of Jef through the lands and the marshes of the Duke of Lunebourg. The Flemings call this duke Water-Signorke because it is always damp in his country.

Jef obeyed Ulenspiegel like a dog, drank bruinbier, danced better than a Hungarian master of arts in posturing, pretended to be dead and lay down on his back at the least signal.

Ulenspiegel knew that the Duke of Lunebourg, annoyed and angry at Ulenspiegel’s making a mock of him at Darmstadt before the landgrave of Hesse, had forbidden him to set foot on his territories on pain of the halter. Suddenly he saw His Ducal Highness in person, and as he knew it was a hasty and violent Highness, he was seized with fright. Speaking to his ass:

“Jef,” said he, “here is Monseigneur of Lunebourg coming. I feel a sore itch of rope on my neck; but may it not be the hangman that will scratch me for it. Jef, I would gladly be scratched, but not hanged. Think that we are brothers in distress and long ears; think, too, what a good friend you would lose if you lost me.”

And Ulenspiegel wiped his eyes, and Jef began to bray.

Continuing his discourse:

“We live together in mirth,” said Ulenspiegel to him, “or in moan, according to circumstances; do you remember, Jef?..” The ass continued to bray, for he was hungry.

“And you will never be able to forget me,” said his master, “for what friendship is strong but that which laughs with the same joy and weeps with the same distress! Jef, you must get down on your back.”

The gentle ass obeyed, and was seen by the duke with all four hoofs in the air. Ulenspiegel quickly took seat on his belly. The duke came to him.

“What dost thou here?” said he, “knowest thou not that in my last edict I forbade thee under pain of the rope to set thy dusty foot on my territory?”

Ulenspiegel replied:

“Gracious lord, have compassion upon me!”

Then showing his ass:

“You know full well,” said he, “that by law and by justice, he is always free that dwelleth between his own four posts.”

The duke answered:

“Be off from out my territories, else thou shalt die.”

“Monseigneur,” replied Ulenspiegel, “I should be off from them so swiftly mounted on a florin or two!”

“Rogue,” said the duke, “wilt thou, not satisfied with thy disobedience, ask money of me to boot?”

“Needs must indeed, Monseigneur, I cannot take it from you…”

The duke gave him a florin.

Then said Ulenspiegel, speaking to his ass:

“Up, Jef, and salute Monseigneur.”

The ass got up and began to bray again.

Then both of them took themselves off.