The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book III Chapter 26

Meanwhile, Lamme and he were riding along well astraddle upon their asses.

“Listen here, Lamme,” said Ulenspiegel, “the nobles of the Low Countries, through jealousy against Orange, have betrayed the cause of the confederates, the holy alliance, the valiant covenant signed for the good of the land of our fathers. Egmont and de Hoorn were traitors alike and with no advantage to themselves. Brederode is dead; in this war there is nothing left us now but the poor common folk of Brabant and Flanders waiting for loyal chiefs to go forward; and then, my son, the isles, the isles of Zealand, North Holland, too, over which the Prince is governor; and farther still and on the sea, Edzard, Count of Emden and East Frisia.”

“Alas,” said Lamme, “I see it clear; we journey between rope, rack, and stake, dying of hunger, gaping for thirst, and with no hope of rest.”

“We are but at the beginning,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“Deign to consider how that all in this is pleasure for us, slaying our enemies, mocking them, having our pouches full of florins; well laden with meat, with beer, with wine, with brandy. What would you have more, feather bed? Would you like us to sell our asses and buy horses?”
“My son,” said Lamme, “the trotting of a horse is very severe on a man of my corpulence.”

“You will sit on your steed as peasants do,” said Ulenspiegel, “and no man will mock at you, since you are clad like a peasant, and do not wear the sword like me, but only carry a pikestaff.”

“My son,” said Lamme, “are you sure that our two passes will avail for the little towns?”

“Have not I the cur?’s certificate,” said Ulenspiegel, “with the great seal of the Church in red wax hanging from it by two tails of parchment, and our confession cards? The soldiers and catchpolls of the duke have no power against two men so well armed. And the black paternosters we have for sale? We are two reiters, both of us, you a Fleming and I a German, travelling by express command from the duke, to win over the heretics of this land to the Holy Catholic faith by the sale of sacred articles. We shall thus enter everywhere the houses of noble lords and the fat abb?s. And they will give us rich hospitality. And we shall surprise their secrets. Lick your chops, my gentle friend.”

“My son,” said Lamme, “we will then be carrying on the trade of spies.”

“By law and right of war,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“If they hear of the affair of the three preachers, we shall die without a doubt,” said Lamme.

Ulenspiegel sang:

“My standards ‘Live’ as motto bear
Live ever in a sunshine land
My skin the first is buff well tanned
And steel the second skin I wear.”

But Lamme, sighing:

“I have nothing but one skin, and a soft one; the least stroke of a dagger would make a hole in it immediately. We should do better to settle in some useful trade than to gad about in this way over hill and valley, to serve all these great princes who, with their feet in velvet hose, eat ortolans on gilded tables. To us the blows, perils, battle, rain, hail, snow, the thin soups that fall to vagabonds. To them the fine sausages, fat capons, savoury thrushes, succulent fowls.”

“The water is coming into your mouth, my gentle friend,” said Ulenspiegel.

“Where are ye, fresh bread, golden koekebakken, delicious creams? But where art thou, my wife?”

Ulenspiegel replied:

“The ashes beat upon my heart and drive me on to the battle. But thou, mild lamb that hast naught to avenge, neither the death of thy father nor of thy mother, nor the grief of those thou lovest, nor thy present poverty, leave me alone to march whither I say, if the toils of war affright thee.”

“Alone?” said Lamme.

And he pulled up his ass, which began to eat a tuft of thistles, of which there was a great plantation on that wayside. Ulenspiegel’s ass stopped and ate likewise.

“Alone,” said Lamme. “You will not leave me alone, my son; that would be an infamous cruelty. To have lost my wife and then further to lose my friend, that is impossible. I will whine no more, I promise you. And since it must be” – and he raised his head proudly – “I will go under the rain of bullets. Aye! And in the midst of swords; aye! in the face of those foul soldiers that drink blood like wolves. And if one day I fall at your feet bloody and death-stricken, bury me; and if you see my wife, tell her that I died because I could not bear to live without being loved by someone in this world. No, I could not do it, my son Ulenspiegel.”

And Lamme wept. And Ulenspiegel was moved to see that mild courage.