The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book III Chapter 22

Meanwhile, Ulenspiegel and Lamme, armed with their passes, came to a little inn backed up against the rocks of the Sambre, which in certain places are covered with trees. And on the sign there was written: Chez Marlaire.

Having drunk many a flask of Meuse wine of the fashion of Burgundy and eaten much fish, they gossiped with the host, a Papist of the deepest dye, but as talkative as a magpie through the wine he had drunk and all the time winking an eye cunningly. Ulenspiegel, divining some mystery under this winking, made him drink more, so much that the host began to dance and burst out into laughter, then returning to the table:

“Good Catholics,” he said, “I drink to you.”

“To you we drink,” replied Lamme and Ulenspiegel.

“To the extinction of all plague, of rebellion and heresy.”

“We drink,” replied Lamme and Ulenspiegel, who kept replenishing the goblet the host could never allow to stay full.

“You are good fellows,” said he. “I drink to your Generosities; I make a profit on wine drunk. Where are your passes?”

“Here they are,” answered Ulenspiegel.

“Signed by the duke,” said the host. “I drink to the duke.”

“To the duke we drink,” replied Lamme and Ulenspiegel. The host, continuing:

“How do we catch rats, mice, and field mice? In rat-traps, snares, and mouse-traps. Who is the field mouse? ’Tis the great heretic Orange as hellfire. God is with us. They are coming. H?! h?! Something to drink! Pour out, I am roasting, burning. To drink! Most goodly little reforming preachers… I say little … goodly little gallants, stout troopers, oak trees… Drink! Will you not go with them to the great heretic’s camp? I have passes signed by him. Ye shall see their work.”

“We shall go to the camp,” answered Ulenspiegel.

“They will get there all right, and by night if an opportunity offers” (and the host, whistling, made the gesture of a man cutting a throat). “Steel-wind will stop the blackbird Nassau from ever whistling again. Come on, something to drink, hey!”

“You are a gay fellow, even though you are married,” replied Ulenspiegel.

Said the host:

“I neither was nor am. I hold the secrets of princes. Drink up! My wife would steal them from my pillow to have me hanged and to be a widow sooner than Nature means it. Vive Dieu! they are coming … where are the new passes? On my Christian heart. Let us drink! They are there, three hundred paces along the road, at Marche-les-Dames. Do ye see them? Let us drink!”

“Drink,” said Ulenspiegel. “I drink to the king, to the duke, to the preachers, to Steel-wind; I drink to you, to me; I drink to the wine and to the bottle. You are not drinking.” And at every health Ulenspiegel filled up his glass and the host emptied it.

Ulenspiegel studied him for some time; then rising up:

“He is asleep,” said he; “let us go, Lamme.”

When they were outside:

“He has no wife to betray us… The night is about to come down… You heard clearly what this rogue said, and you know who the three preachers are?”

“Aye,” said Lamme.

“You know they are coming from Marche-les-Dames, along by the Meuse, and it will be well to wait for them on the way before Steel-wind blows.”

“Aye,” said Lamme.

“We must save the prince’s life,” said Ulenspiegel.

“Aye,” said Lamme.

“Here,” said Ulenspiegel, “take my musket; go there into the underwoods between the rocks; load it with two bullets and fire when I croak like a crow.”

“I will,” said Lamme.

And he disappeared into the undergrowth. And Ulenspiegel soon heard the creak of the lock of the musket.

“Do you see them coming?” said he.

“I see them,” replied Lamme. “They are three, marching like soldiers, and one of them overtops the others by the head.”

Ulenspiegel sat down on the road, his legs out in front of him, murmuring prayers on a rosary, as beggars do. And he had his bonnet between his knees.
When the three preachers passed by, he held out his bonnet to them, but they put nothing in.

Then rising, Ulenspiegel said piteously:

“Good sirs, refuse not a patard to a poor workman, a porter who lately cracked his loins falling into a mine. They are hard folk in this country, and they would give me nothing to relieve my wretched plight. Alas! give me a patard, and I will pray for you. And God will keep Your Magnanimities in joy throughout all their lives.”

“My son,” said one of the preachers, a fine robust fellow, “there will be no joy more for us in this world so long as the Pope and the Inquisition reign therein.”

Ulenspiegel sighed also, saying:

“Alas! what are you saying, my masters! Speak low, if it please Your Graces. But give me a patard.”

“My son,” replied a preacher who had a warrior-like face, “we others, poor martyrs, we have no patards beyond what we need to sustain life on our journey.”

Ulenspiegel threw himself on his knees.

“Bless me,” said he.

The three preachers stretched out their hands over Ulenspiegel’s head with no devoutness.

Remarking that they were lean men, and yet had fine paunches, he got up again, pretended to fall, and striking his forehead against the tall preacher’s belly, he heard therein a gay clink and tinkle of money.

Then drawing himself up and drawing his bragmart:

“My goodly fathers,” said he, “it is chilly weather and I am lightly clad; you are clad overly much. Give me your wool that I may cut myself a cloak out of it. I am a Beggar. Long live the Beggars!”

The tall preacher replied:

“My Beggar-cock, you carry your comb too high; we shall cut it for you.”

“Cut it!” said Ulenspiegel, drawing back, “but Steel-wind shall blow for you before ever it blows for the prince. Beggar I am; long live the Beggars!”

The three preachers, dumbfounded, said one to another:

“Whence does he know this news? We are betrayed! Slay! Long live the Mass!”

And they drew from under their hose fine bragmarts, well sharpened.

But Ulenspiegel, without waiting for them, gave ground towards that side of the brushwood where Lamme was hidden. Judging that the preachers were within musket range, he said:

“Crows, black crows, Lead-wind is about to blow. I sing for your finish.”

And he croaked.

A musket shot, from out of the brushwood, knocked over the tallest of the preachers with his face to the ground, and was followed by a second shot which stretched the second on the road.

And Ulenspiegel saw amid the brush Lamme’s good visage, and his arm up hastily recharging his arquebus.

And a blue smoke rose up above the black brushwood.

The third preacher, furious with rage, would fain by main force have cut down Ulenspiegel, who said:

“Steel-wind or Lead-wind, thou art about to go over from this world to the other, foul artificer of murders!”

And he attacked him, and he defended himself bravely.

And they both remained standing face to face stiffly upon the highway, delivering and parrying blows.

Ulenspiegel was all bloody, for his opponent, a tough soldier, had wounded him in the head and the leg. But he attacked and defended like a lion. As the blood that flowed from his head blinded him, he broke ground continually with great strides, wiped it off with his left hand and felt himself grow weak. He was like to be killed had not Lamme fired on the preacher and brought him down.
And Ulenspiegel saw and heard him belch forth blasphemy, blood, and deathfoam.

And the blue smoke rose up above the black brushwood, amidst of which Lamme showed his good face once more.

“Is that all over?” said he.

“Aye, my son,” answered Ulenspiegel. “But come…”

Lamme, coming out of his niche, saw Ulenspiegel all covered with blood. Then running like a stag, in spite of his belly, he came to Ulenspiegel, seated on the earth beside the slain men.

“He is wounded,” said he, “my friend, wounded by that murdering rascal.” And with a kick from his heel he broke in the teeth of the nearest preacher.

“You do not answer, Ulenspiegel! Are you going to die, my son? Where is that balsam? Ha! in the bottom of his satchel, under the sausages. Ulenspiegel, do you not hear me? Alas! I have no warm water to wash your wound, nor any way to have it. But the water of the Sambre will serve. Speak to me, my friend. You are not so terribly wounded, in any case. A little water, there, very cold water, is it not? He awakes. ’Tis I, thy friend: they are all dead! Linen! linen to tie up his hurts. There is none. My shirt then.” He took off his doublet. And Lamme continuing his discourse: “In pieces, shirt! The blood is stopping. My friend will not die.”

“Ha!” he said, “how cold it is, bareback in this keen air. Let us reclothe ourselves. He will not die. ’Tis I, Ulenspiegel, I thy friend Lamme. He smiles. I shall despoil the assassins. They have bellies of florins. Gilded entrails, carolus, florins, daelders, patards, and letters! We are rich. More than three hundred carolus to share. Let us take the arms and the money. Steel-wind will not blow as yet for Monseigneur.”

Ulenspiegel, his teeth chattering from the cold, rose up.

“There you are on your feet,” said Lamme.

“That is the might of the balsam,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“The balsam of valiancy,” answered Lamme.

Then taking the bodies of the three preachers one by one, he cast them into a hole among the rocks, leaving them their weapons and their clothes, all save their cloaks.

And all about them in the sky croaked the ravens, awaiting their food.

And the Sambre rolled along like a river of steel under the gray sky.

And the snow fell, washing the blood away.

And they were nevertheless troubled. And Lamme said:

“I would rather kill a chicken than a man.”

And they mounted their asses again.

At the gates of Huy the blood was still flowing; they pretended to fall into quarrel together, got down from their asses, and fenced and foined with their daggers most cruelly to behold; then having brought the combat to an end, they mounted again and entered into Huy, showing their passes at the gates of the city.

The women seeing Ulenspiegel wounded and bleeding, and Lamme playing the victor upon his ass, they looked on Ulenspiegel with pity and showed their fists at Lamme saying: “That one is the rascal that wounded his friend.”

Lamme, uneasy, only sought among them whether he did not see his wife.

It was in vain, and he was plunged in melancholy.