The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book I Chapter 84

After Soetkin’s death, Ulenspiegel, dreamy, sorrowful, or angry, wandered about the kitchen, hearing nothing, taking what food or drink was given him, without choosing. And he often rose at night.

In vain did Nele with her soft voice exhort him to hope. Vainly did Katheline tell him that she knew Soetkin was in paradise with Claes. To all Ulenspiegel replied:

“The ashes are beating.”

And he was as a man distraught, and Nele wept to see him in this plight.

Meanwhile, the fishmonger remained in his house alone like a parricide, and dared not go forth save by night; for men and women, passing near him, hooted him and called him murderer, and children fled before him, for they had been told that he was the executioner. He wandered alone and solitary, not daring to go into any of the three taverns of Damme; for he was pointed at in them, and if he merely remained standing for a minute inside, the drinkers went away.

Hence it came that the baesen wished not to see him again, and if he presented himself, shut their door to him.

Then the fishmonger would offer a humble remonstrance: they would reply that it was their right and not their obligation to sell.
Tired of the struggle, the fishmonger used to go to drink in ’t Roode Valck, at the Red Falcon, a little wine shop away from the town on the edge of the Sluys Canal. There they served him; for they were grubbing folk to whom any money was welcome. But the baes of the Roode Valck never spoke a word to him nor did his wife. There were two children and a dog in the house: when the fishmonger would have caressed the children, they ran away; and when he called the dog, the dog tried to bite him.

One evening Ulenspiegel stood on the threshold: Mathyssens the cooper, seeing him so pensive and dreaming, said to him:

“You should work with your hands and forget this sad blow.”

Ulenspiegel answered:

“The ashes of Claes beat against my breast.”

“Ah,” said Mathyssens, “he leads a sadder life than thou, the wretched fishmonger. No man speaks to him, and everyone flees from him, so that he is driven to go among the poor ragamuffins at the Roode Valck to drink his quart of bruinbier by himself. ’Tis a sore punishment.”

“The ashes beat!” said Ulenspiegel again.

That same evening, while the clock on Notre Dame was striking the ninth hour, Ulenspiegel went towards the Roode Valck, and seeing that the fishmonger was not there, he went wandering under the trees on the edge of the canal. The moon was shining bright and clear.

He saw the murderer coming.

As he passed before him, he could see him near at hand, and heard him say, speaking aloud like those who live alone:

“Where have they hidden these carolus?”

“Where the devil has found them,” answered Ulenspiegel striking him full in the face with his fist.

“Alas!” said the fishmonger, “I know thee who thou art, thou art the son. Have pity, I am old and weak. What I did, it was not for hate, but to serve His Majesty. Deign to pardon me. I wilt give thee back the furniture I purchased, thou wilt not have to pay me one single patard for it. Is not that enough? I paid seven gold florins for them. Thou shalt have all and a demi-florin to boot, for I am not rich, it must not be imagined.”

And he would have gone on his knees before him.

Ulenspiegel, seeing him so ugly, so trembling, and so cowardly and mean, flung him into the canal.

And he went away.