The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book III Chapter 23

“Whither are we going?” said Lamme.

“To Maestricht,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“But, my son, they say the duke’s army is there all about and around, and that he himself is within the city. Our passes will not be enough for us. If the Spanish troopers accept them, none the less we shall be held in the town and interrogated. Meanwhile, they will have discovered the death of the preachers, and we shall have finished with living.”

Ulenspiegel replied:

“The ravens, the owls, and the vultures will soon have made an end of their meat; already, beyond a doubt, they have faces that could not be recognized. As for our passes they may be good; but if they learned of the slaughter, we should, as you say, be taken prisoners. Nevertheless, we must needs go to Maestricht and take Landen on our way.”

“They will hang us,” said Lamme.

“We shall pass,” replied Ulenspiegel.

Thus talking, they arrived at the Magpie inn, where they found good meals, good beds, and hay for their asses.

The next day they set out on their way to Landen.

Having arrived at a great farm near the city, Ulenspiegel whistled like the lark, and immediately there answered from within the warlike clarion of a cock. A farmer with a goodly face appeared on the threshold of the farmhouse. He said to them:

“Friends, as freemen, long live the Beggar! Come within.”

“Who is this one?” asked Lamme.

Ulenspiegel replied:

“Thomas Utenhove, the brave reformer; his serving men and women on the farm work like him for freedom of conscience.”

Then Utenhove said:

“Ye are the prince’s envoys. Eat and drink.”

And the ham began to crackle in the pan and the black puddings also, and the wine went about and glasses were filled. And Lamme fell to drinking like the dry sand and to eating lustily.

Lads and lasses of the farm came in turns and thrust in their noses at the half-open door to look at him labouring with his jaws. And the men, jealous of him, said they could do as well as he.

At the end of the meal Thomas Utenhove said:

“A hundred peasants will go from here this week under pretence of going to work on the dykes at Bruges and round about. They will travel by bands of five or six and by different ways. There will be boats at Bruges to fetch them by sea to Emden.”

“Will they be furnished with weapons and money?” asked Ulenspiegel.

“They will have each ten florins and big cutlasses.”

“God and the prince will reward you,” said Ulenspiegel.

“I am not working for reward,” replied Thomas Utenhove.

“What do you do,” said Lamme, eating big black puddings, “what do you do, master host, to have a dish so savoury, so succulent, and with such fine grease?”

“’Tis because we put in it,” the host said, “cinnamon and catnip.”

Then speaking to Ulenspiegel:

“Is Edzard, Count of Frisia, is he still the prince’s friend?”

Ulenspiegel replied:

“He hides it, while at the same time giving refuge at Emden to his ships.”

And he added:

“We must go to Maestricht.”

“You will not be able to do so,” said the host; “the duke’s army is before the town and in the environs.”

Then taking him into the loft, he showed him far away the ensigns and guidons of horse soldiers and footmen riding and marching in the country.

Ulenspiegel said:

“I shall make my way through if you, who are of authority in this place, will give me a permit to marry. As for the woman, she must be pretty, gentle, and sweet, and willing to marry me, if not for always, at least for a week.”

Lamme sighed and said:

“Do not do this, my son; she will leave you alone, burning in the fires of love. Your bed, where you now sleep so snugly, will become as a mattress of holly to you, depriving you of sweet slumber.”

“I will take a wife,” replied Ulenspiegel.

And Lamme, finding nothing more on the table, was deeply distressed. However, having discovered castrelins in a bowl, he ate them in melancholy fashion.

Ulenspiegel said to Thomas Utenhove:

“Come, then, let us drink; give me a wife rich or poor. I shall go with her to church and have the marriage blessed by the cur?. And he will give us the certificate of marriage, which will not be valid since it comes from a Papist and inquisitor; we shall have it set down in it that we are all good Christians, having confessed and taken the Sacrament, living apostolically according to the precepts of our Holy Mother the Roman Church, which burneth her children, and thus calling upon us the blessings of our Holy Father the Pope, the armies celestial and terrestrial, the saints both men and women, deans, cur?s, monks, soldiers, catchpolls, and other rascals. Armed with this certificate aforesaid, we shall make our preparations for the usual festal wedding journey.”

“But the woman,” said Thomas Utenhove.

“You will find her for me,” replied Ulenspiegel. “I will take two wagons, then; I will bedeck them with wreaths adorned with pine boughs, holly, and paper flowers; I will fill them with certain of the lads you want to send to the prince.”

“But the woman?” said Thomas Utenhove.

“She is here without a doubt,” replied Ulenspiegel. And continuing:

“I shall harness two of your horses to one of the wagons, our two asses to the other. In the first wagon I shall put my wife and myself, my friend Lamme, the witnesses of the marriage; in the second, tambourine players, fifers, and shawm players. Then displaying the joyful marriage flags, playing the tambourine, singing, drinking, we will go trotting down the highway that leads to the Galgen-Veld, the Gallows Field, or to liberty.”

“I will help you,” said Thomas Utenhove. “But the women and girls will wish to go with their men.”

“We shall go, by the grace of God,” said a pretty girl, putting her head in at the half-open door.

“There will be four wagons, if they are needed,” said Thomas Utenhove; “in this way we shall get more than twenty-five men through.”

“The duke will be crestfallen,” said Ulenspiegel.

“And the prince’s fleet served by some good soldiers the more,” replied Thomas Utenhove.

Having his serving men and women summoned then by ringing a bell, he said to them:

“All ye that are of Zealand, men and women, oyez; Ulenspiegel the Fleming here present desires that you should pass through the duke’s army in wedding array.”

Men and women of Zealand shouted together:

“Danger of death! we are willing!”

And the men said, one to another:

“It is joy to us to leave the land of slavery to go to the free sea. If God be for us, who shall be against us?”

Women and girls said:

“Let us follow our husbands and our lovers. We are of Zealand and we shall find harbour there.”

Ulenspiegel espied a pretty young girl, and said to her, jesting:

“I want to marry you.”

But she, blushing, replied:

“I am willing, but only in church.”

The women, laughing, said to one another:

“Her heart turns to Hans Utenhove, the son of the baes. Doubtless he is going with her.”

“Aye,” replied Hans.

And the father said to him:

“You may.”

The men donned festal raiment, doublet and breeches of velvet, and the big opperst-kleed over all, and large kerchiefs on their heads, to keep off sun and rain; the women in black stockings and pinked shoes; wearing the big gilt jewel on their foreheads, on the left for the girls, on the right for the married women; the white ruff upon their necks, the plastron of gold, scarlet, and azure embroidery, the petticoat of black woollen, with wide velvet stripes of the same colour, black woollen stockings and velvet shoes with silver buckles.

Then Thomas Utenhove went off to the church to beg the priest to marry immediately, for two ryck-daelders which he put in his hand, Thylbert the son of Claes, which was Ulenspiegel, and Tannekin Pieters, to the which the cur? consented.

Ulenspiegel then went to church followed by the whole wedding party, and there he married before the priest Tannekin, so pretty and sweet, so gracious and so plump, that he would gladly have bitten her cheeks like a love-apple. And he told her so, not daring to do it for the respect he had to her gentle beauty. But she, pouting, said to him:

“Leave me alone: there is Hans looking murder at you.”

And a jealous girl said to him:

“Look elsewhere: do you not see she is afraid of her man?”

Lamme, rubbing his hands, exclaimed:

“You are not to have them all, rogue.”

And he was delighted.

Ulenspiegel, applying patience to his trouble, came back to the farm with the wedding party. And there he drank, sang, and was jolly, drinking hob-nob with the jealous girl. Thereat Hans was merry, but not Tannekin, nor the girl’s betrothed.

At noon, in bright sunshine and a cool wind, the wagons set forth, all greenery and flowers, all the banners displayed to the merry sound of tambourines, shawms, fifes, and bagpipes.

At Alba’s camp there was another feast. The advanced outposts and sentinels having sounded the alarm, came in one after another, saying:

“The enemy is near at hand; we have heard the noise of tambourines and fifes and seen his ensigns. It is a strong body of cavalry come there to draw you into some ambush. The main army is doubtless farther on.”

The duke at once had his camp masters, colonels, and captains informed, ordered them to set the army in battle array, and sent to reconnoitre the enemy.

Suddenly there appeared four wagons advancing towards the musketeers. In the wagons men and women were dancing, bottles were jigging round, and merrily squealed the fifes, moaned the shawms, beat the drums and droned the bagpipes.

The wedding party having halted, Alba came in person to the noise, and beheld the new-made bride on one of the four wagons; Ulenspiegel, her bridegroom, all rosy and fine beside her, and all the country folk, both men and women, alighted on the ground, dancing all about and offering drink to the soldiers.

Alba and his train marvelled greatly at the simplicity of these peasants who were singing and feasting when everything was in arms all about them.

And those who were in the wagons gave all their wine to the soldiers.

And they were well applauded and welcomed by them.

The wine giving out in the wagons, the peasants went on their way again to the sound of the tambourines, fifes, and bagpipes, without being interfered with.

And the soldiers, gay and jolly, fired a salvo of musket shots in their honour.

And thus they came into Maestricht, where Ulenspiegel made arrangements with the reformers’ agents to despatch by vessels arms and munitions to the fleet of the Silent.

And they did the same at Landen.

And they went in this way elsewhere, clad as workmen.

The duke heard of the trick; and there was a song made upon it, which was sent him, and the refrain of which was:

Bloody Duke, silly head,

Have you seen the newlywed?

And every time he had made a wrong man?uvre the soldiers would sing:

The Duke has dust in eye:

He has seen the newlywed.