The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book III Chapter 25

At this time certain women and girls of Damme came to ask Nele if she would be the May bride and hide among the brushwood with the groom that would be found for her; “for,” said the women, not without jealousy, “there is not one young man in all Damme and round about who would not fain be betrothed to you, who stay so lovely, good, and fresh: the gift of a witch, doubtless.”

“Goodwives,” answered Nele, “say to the young men that seek after me: ‘Nele’s heart is not here, but with him that wandereth to deliver the land of our fathers.’ And if I am fresh, even as you say, it is no gift of a witch, but the gift of good health.”

The goodwives replied:

“All the same, Katheline is suspect.”

“Do not believe what ill folk say,” answered Nele; “Katheline is no witch. The law-men burned tow upon her head and God struck her with witlessness.”

And Katheline, nodding her head in a corner where she was sitting all huddled up, said:

“Take away the fire; he will come back, my darling Hanske.”

The goodwives asking who was this Hanske, Nele replied:

“It is the son of Claes, my foster brother, whom she thinks she lost since God struck her.”

And the kindly goodwives gave silver patards to Katheline. And when they were new she showed them to someone that nobody could see, saying:

“I am rich, rich in shining silver. Come, Hanske, my darling; I will pay for my love.”

And the goodwives being gone, Nele wept in the lonely cottage. And she thought on Ulenspiegel wandering in far-off countries where she might not follow him, and on Katheline who, often groaning “take away the fire,” held her bosom with both hands, showing in this way that the fire of madness burned her head and her body feverishly.

And in the meanwhile the bride and groom of May hid in the grass.

He or she who found one of them was, according to the sex of the one found, and his or her own, King or Queen of the feast.

Nele heard the cries of joy of the lads and lasses when the May bride was found on the edge of a ditch, hidden among the tall grasses.

And she wept, thinking on the sweet time when they hunted for her and her friend Ulenspiegel.