The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book I Chapter 66

Ulenspiegel, drawing near Renaix in Flanders, was hungry and thirsty, but he would by no means complain, and endeavoured to make folk laugh so they might give him bread. But he laughed not over well, and they passed him by and gave him nothing.

It was cold: turn and turn about it snowed, rained, and hailed on the back of the wanderer. If he passed through the villages, the water came in his mouth only to see a dog gnawing a bone in the angle of a wall. Fain and fain would he have earned a florin, but had no idea how the florin could fall into his pouch.

Looking up, he saw the pigeons that from the roof of the dove cote dropped white pieces on the highway, but they were not florins. He searched on the ground along the causeways, but florins do not bloom among the paving stones.

Looking to the right hand he saw a rascal cloud that moved onward into the sky, like a great watering pot, but he knew that if aught were to fall from this cloud it would not be a plump of florins. Looking to the left hand he saw a great idle horse-chestnut tree, living and doing nothing: “Ah!” he said to himself, “why are there no florin trees? They would be splendid trees, indeed!”

Suddenly the big cloud burst asunder, and the hailstones fell thick like pebbles on Ulenspiegel’s back. “Alas,” said he, “I feel it sure enough, stones are never thrown but at wandering dogs.” Then starting to run: “It is not my fault,” said he to himself, “if I have not a palace nor even a tent to shelter my poor thin body. Ah! the cruel hailstones: they are hard as cannon shot. No, it is not my fault if I trail my wretched tatters about the world, it is only that such was my good pleasure. Why am I not emperor? These hailstones would fain force themselves into my ears like ill words.” And he was still running: – “Poor nose,” he added, “you will soon be pierced through and through like fretwork, and mayst serve as a pepperpot at the feasts of the great folk of this world on whom it never hails.” Then wiping his cheeks: – “These,” said he, “would do well for ladles for cooks that are too hot at their ovens. Ah! far-off memory of the sauces of long ago. I am hungry. Empty belly, complain not; sad entrails, grumble no more. Where dost thou hide, propitious fortune? take me to the place where the pasture is.”

While he talked thus with himself, the sky cleared and grew bright with a strong sun, the hail ceased, and Ulenspiegel said: “Good morrow, sun, my one friend, that comest to dry me!”

But he still kept on running, being cold. Suddenly from afar he saw coming along the road a black-and-white dog running straight before him, tongue hanging out and the eyes bolting from his head.

“This brute,” said Ulenspiegel, “has the madness in his belly!” He hastily picked up a big stone and climbed upon a tree; as he reached the first bough, the dog passed and Ulenspiegel launched the stone upon his skull. The dog stopped, and wretchedly and stiffly tried to get up the tree and bite Ulenspiegel, but he could not, and fell back to die.

Ulenspiegel was nowise glad at this, and still less when, coming down from the tree, he perceived that the dog’s mouth was not dry and parched as is usual when these animals are smitten with the hydrophobia. Then studying his skin, he saw it was fine and good to sell, stripped him of it, washed it, hung it on his staff, let it dry a little in the sun, and then put it away in his satchel.

Hunger and thirst tormented him more and more, and he went into many farmhouses, not daring to offer his skin for sale, for fear that it might have belonged to one of the farmers’ dogs. He asked for bread, and was refused it. Night came on. His limbs were weary, he went into a little inn. There he beheld an ancient baesine caressing a wheezy old dog whose skin was like a dead man’s.

“Whence comest thou, traveller?” asked the aged baesine.

Ulenspiegel made answer:

“I come from Rome, where I healed the Pope’s dog of a sorry rheum that grieved him sore.”

“Then thou hast seen the Pope?” said she to him, drawing him a glass of beer.

“Alas!” said Ulenspiegel, emptying the glass, “I have but been permitted to kiss his holy foot and his holy slipper.”

All this while the baesine’s old dog was coughing, but without spitting.

“When didst thou do this?” asked the old woman.

“The month before the last,” answered Ulenspiegel, “I arrived, being looked for, and knocked at the door. ‘Who is there?’ asked the chamberlain arch-cardinal, arch-privy, arch-extraordinary to His Most Holy Holiness.’ ‘’Tis I,’ I answered, ‘Monseigneur Cardinal, come from Flanders expressly to kiss the Pope’s foot and heal his dog of his rheum.’ ‘Ah! ’tis thou, Ulenspiegel?’ said the Pope, speaking from the other side of a little door. ‘I would rejoice to see thee, but that is a thing for the moment impossible. I am forbidden by the Holy Decretals to display my face to strangers when the holy razor is being passed over it.’ ‘Alas!’ said I, ‘I am an unfortunate man, I that am come from a land so far to kiss Your Holiness his foot and cure his dog of the rheum. Must I indeed return without being satisfied?’ ‘Nay,’ said the Holy Father; and then I heard him call. ‘Arch-chamberlain, roll my chair as far as the door, and open the little wicket at the foot of the door.’ The which was done. And I beheld thrust through the wicket a foot shod with a golden slipper, and I heard a voice, speaking like a peal of thunder, saying: ‘This is the redoubtable foot of the Prince of Princes, King of Kings, Emperor of Emperors. Kiss it, Christian man, kiss the holy slipper.’ And I kissed the holy slipper, and my nose was sweetly filled with the celestial perfume that was exhaled from that foot. Then the wicket was shut again, and the same formidable voice bade me to wait. The wicket opened once more, and from it there issued, with all due respect, an animal bereft of its hair, blear-eyed, coughing, swollen like a wine skin and forced to walk with its legs straddling by reason of the hugeness of its belly.

“The Holy Father deigned to address me again: ‘Ulenspiegel,’ said he, ‘thou dost look upon my dog; he was seized with a rheum and other maladies through gnawing the bones of heretics that had been broken for them. Cure him, my son; thou wilt have much good thereby.’”

“Drink,” said the old woman.

“Pour out,” answered Ulenspiegel. Continuing his tale: “I purged the dog,” said he, “by the aid of a wonder-working draught concocted by myself. He made water through this for three days and three nights without ceasing, and was cured.”

“Jesus God en Maria!” said the old woman; “let me kiss thee, glorious pilgrim, who hast seen the Pope and mayst also cure my dog.”

But Ulenspiegel, recking little of the old woman’s kisses, said to her: “Those who have touched with their lips the holy slipper may not within a space of two years receive the kisses of any woman. First give me for supper some goodly carbonadoes, a black pudding or so, and a sufficiency of beer, and I shall make your dog’s voice so clear that he will be able to chant the aves in e la in the rood-loft of the great church.”

“May it be true what thou sayest,” whined the old woman, “and I shall give thee a florin.”

“I shall accomplish it,” said Ulenspiegel, “but only after supper.”

She served him all he had asked for. He ate and drank his fill, and he would even have embraced the old woman for gratitude of his jaw, had it not been for what he had said to her.

While he was eating, the old dog put his paws on his knee to have a bone. Ulenspiegel gave him several; then he said to his hostess:

“If a man had eaten in your inn and not paid, what would you do?”

“I would have his best garment off that robber,” answered the old woman.

“’Tis well,” replied Ulenspiegel; then he took the dog under his arm and went into the stable. There he shut him up along with a bone, took the dead dog’s skin out of his satchel, and coming back to the old woman, he asked her if she had said she would have his best garment off the man who would refuse to pay for his meal.

“Well, then, your dog dined with me and did not pay: so I have, following your own rede, taken his best and his only coat.”

And he showed her the skin of the dead dog.

“Ah!” said the old woman, weeping, “it is cruel of thee, master doctor. Poor old dog! he was my child to me, a poor widow. Why didst thou take from me the only friend I had in the world? I have no more now to do but to die.”

“I will bring him to life again,” said Ulenspiegel.

“Bring him to life!” said she. “And he will fawn on me again, and he will look at me again, and he will lick me again, and he will wag his poor old stump of a tail again when he looks at me! Do this, master doctor, and thou shalt have dined here gratis, a most costly dinner, and I shall give thee a florin still over and above the bargain.”

“I will bring him to life again,” said Ulenspiegel; “but I must have hot water, syrup to glue the seams together, a needle and thread and sauce from the carbonadoes; and I would be alone during the operation.”

The old woman gave him what he asked for; he took up the skin of the dead dog and went off to the stable.

There he smeared the old dog’s muzzle with sauce, and the brute submitted to it with delight; he drew a great stripe of syrup under his belly, put syrup on his paws and sauce on his tail.

Then crying out loudly three times, he said: “Staet op! staet op! ik bevel ’t, vuilen hond!”

And then lightly putting the dead dog’s skin in his satchel he fetched the living dog a great kick and so pitched him into the inn chamber.

The old woman, seeing her dog alive and licking himself, was eager to embrace him; but Ulenspiegel did not permit this.

“You may not,” said he, “caress this dog until he has washed off with his tongue all the syrup with which he is anointed; only then will the seams in the skin be closed up. Count out to me now my ten florins.”

“I said one,” answered the old woman.

“One for the operation, nine for the resurrection,” replied Ulenspiegel.

She counted them out to him. Ulenspiegel went off, flinging into the inn chamber the skin of the dead dog and saying:
“There, woman, keep his old skin: it will serve you to patch up the new one when it will have holes in it.”