The Legend of Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster Book III Chapter 30

Meanwhile, the provost Spelle le Roux, armed with his red wand, was hurrying from town to town on his lean horse, everywhere setting up scaffolds, lighting fires of execution, digging graves to bury poor women and girls alive in them. And the King inherited.

Ulenspiegel being at Meulestee with Lamme, under a tree, found himself full of weary lassitude. It was cold although the month was June. From the skies, laden with gray clouds, there fell a fine hail.

“My son,” said Lamme, “you are for the past four nights shamelessly running wild, gadding after the bona robas, you go to sleep in de Zoeten Inval, at the Sweet Fall; you will do like the man on the sign, falling head foremost into a hive of bees. Vainly do I wait for you in de Zwaen, and I draw evil forebodings from this liquorish living. Why do you not take a wife virtuously?”

“Lamme,” said Ulenspiegel, “he to whom one woman is all women, and to whom all women are one in this gentle combat that they call love, must not lightly rush upon his choice.”

“And Nele, do you not think at all on her?”

“Nele is at Damme, far away,” said Ulenspiegel.

While he was in this posture and the hail was falling thick, a young and pretty woman passed by, running and covering up her head in her petticoat.

“Eh,” said she, “dreamy one, what dost thou under that tree?”

“I am dreaming,” said Ulenspiegel, “of a woman that should make me a roof against the hail with her petticoat.”

“Thou hast found her,” said the woman. “Rise up.”

“Wilt thou leave me alone again?” said Lamme.

“Aye,” said Ulenspiegel, “but go in de Zwaen, eat a leg of mutton or two, drink a dozen tankards of beer; you will sleep and you will not be forlorn then.”

“I will do that,” said Lamme.

Ulenspiegel went up to the woman.

“Pick up my skirt on one side,” said she, “I will lift it on the other, and now let us run.”

“Why run?” asked Ulenspiegel.

“Because,” she said, “I am fain to flee from Meulestee; the provost Spelle is in it with two catchpolls and he has sworn to have all the light ladies whipped if they will not pay him five florins each. That is why I am running: run, too, and stay with me to defend me.”

“Lamme,” cried Ulenspiegel, “Spelle is in Meulestee. Go off and away to Destelberg, to the Star of the Wise Men.”

And Lamme, getting up affrighted, took his belly in both hands and began to run.

“Whither is this fat hare going?” said the girl.

“To a burrow where I shall find him again,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“Let us run,” said she, beating the ground with her foot like a restive filly.

“I would fain be virtuous without running,” said Ulenspiegel.

“What does that mean?” asked she.

Ulenspiegel made answer:

“The fat hare wants me to renounce good wine, cervoise ale, and the fresh skin of women.”

The girl looked at him with an ugly eye.

“Your breath is short; you must rest,” said she.

“Rest myself? I see no shelter,” replied Ulenspiegel.

“Your virtue,” said the girl, “will serve for a quilt.”

“I like your petticoat better,” said he.

“My petticoat,” said the girl, “would not be worthy to cover a saint such as you would fain be. Take yourself off that I may run alone.”

“Do you not know,” replied Ulenspiegel, “that a dog goes swifter with four feet than a man with two? And so, having four feet, we shall run better.”

“You have a lively tongue for a virtuous man.”

“Aye,” said he.

“But,” said she, “I have always observed that virtue is a quiet, sleepy, thick, and chilly quality. It is a mask to hide grumbling faces, a velvet cloak on a man of stone. I like men that have in their breast a stove well lighted with the fire of virility, which exciteth to valiant and gay enterprises.”

“It was ever thus,” replied Ulenspiegel, “that the lovely she-devil spake to the glorious Saint Anthony.”

There was an inn a score of paces from the road.

“You have spoken well,” said Ulenspiegel, “now you must drink well.”

“My tongue is still cool and fresh,” said the girl.

They went in. On a chest there slumbered a big jug nicknamed “belly,” because of its wide paunch.

Ulenspiegel said to the baes:

“Dost thou see this florin?”

“I see it,” said the baes.

“How many patards would thou extract from it to fill up that belly there with dobbel-clauwert?”

The baes said to him:

“With negen mannekens (nine little men), you will be clear.”

“That,” said Ulenspiegel, “is six Flanders mites, and overmuch by two mites. But fill it, anyhow.”

Ulenspiegel poured out a goblet for the woman, then rising up proudly and applying the beak of the belly to his mouth, he emptied it all every drop into his throat. And it was as the noise of a cataract.

The girl, dumbfounded, said to him:

“How did you manage to put so big a belly into your lean stomach?”

Without replying, Ulenspiegel said to the baes:

“Bring a knuckle of ham and some bread, and another full belly, that we may eat and drink.”

Which they did.

While the girl was munching a piece of the rind he took her so subtly, that she was startled, charmed, and compliant all at once.

Then questioning him:

“Whence,” she said, “have they come to your virtue, this thirst like a sponge, this wolf’s hunger, and these amorous audacities?”

Ulenspiegel replied:

“Having sinned a hundred ways, I swore, as you know, to do penance. That lasted a whole long hour. Thinking during that hour upon my life that was to come, I saw myself fed meagrely on bread, dully refreshed with water; sadly fleeing from love; daring neither to move nor sneeze, for fear to commit wickedness; esteemed by all, feared by each; alone like a leper; sad as a dog orphaned of his master, and after fifty years of martyrdom, ending by undergoing my death in melancholy fashion on a pallet. The penance was long enough: so kiss me, my darling, and let us go out from purgatory together.”

“Ah!” said she, obeying cheerfully, “what a good sign virtue is to put on the end of a pole!”

Time passed in these amorous doings; nevertheless they must needs rise and go, for the girl feared to see in the midst of their pleasure the provost Spelle suddenly appear with his catchpolls.

“Truss up thy petticoat then,” said Ulenspiegel.

And they ran like stags towards Destelberg, where they found Lamme eating at the Star of the Three Wise Men.