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The Legend of Ulenspiegel, Volume 2 (of 2)

Charles de Coster


  And Lamme Goedzak, and their Adventures Heroical, Joyous and Glorious in the Land of Flanders and Elsewhere


  Translated by F. M. Atkinson

  Vol. II


  London: William Heinemann



  Book III 1 Book IV 197 Book V 305





  He goes away, the Silent One, God guideth him.

  The two counts have been seized already; Alba promises the SilentOne lenity and pardon if he will present himself before him.

  At this news, Ulenspiegel said to Lamme: "The Duke summons, at theinstance of Dubois, the procurator general, the Prince of Orange,Ludwig his brother, De Hoogstraeten, Van den Bergh, Culembourg,de Brederode, and other friends of the Prince's, to appear beforehim within thrice fourteen days, promising them good justice andgrace. Listen, Lamme, and hearken: One day a Jew of Amsterdam summonedone of his enemies to come down into the street; the summoner was onthe pavement and the summoned at a window.

  "'Come down, then,' said the summoner to the summoned, 'and I willgive thee such a cuff on the head with my fist that it will tumbleinto thy breast, and thou shalt look through thy ribs like a thiefthrough the bars of his prison.'

  "The summoned replied: 'Even if thou wast to promise me an hundredfoldmore, I would not come down even then.' And so may Orange and theothers answer."

  And they did so, refusing to appear. Egmont and de Hoorn did not followtheir example. And weakness in duty evokes the hour of God and fate.


  At this time were beheaded on the Horse Market at Brussels the siresd'Andelot, the sons of Battemberg and other renowned and valiant lords,that had wished to seize Amsterdam by surprise.

  And while they were going to execution, being eighteen in number,and singing hymns, the drummers drummed before and behind, all alongthe way.

  And the Spanish troopers escorting them and carrying blazing torchesburned their bodies with them all over. And when they writhed becauseof the pain, the troopers would say: "What now, Lutherans, does thathurt then to be burned so soon?"

  And he that had betrayed them was called Dierick Slosse, who broughtthem to Enkhuyse, that was still Catholic, to hand them over to theduke's catchpolls.

  And they died valiantly.

  And the king inherited.


  "Didst thou see him go by?" said Ulenspiegel, clad as a woodman,to Lamme similarly accoutred. "Didst thou see the foul duke with hisforehead flat above like an eagle's, and his long beard like a rope enddangling from a gallows? May God strangle him with it! Didst thou seethat spider with his long hairy legs that Satan vomiting spat out uponour country? Come, Lamme, come; we will fling stones into his web...."

  "Alas!" said Lamme, "we shall be burned alive."

  "Come to Groenendal, my dear friend; come to Groenendal, there is anoble cloister whither His Spiderly Dukishness goes to pray to the Godof peace to allow him to perfect his work, which is to rejoice hisblack spirits wallowing in carrion. We are in Lent, and it is onlyblood from which His Dukishness has no mind to fast. Come, Lamme,there are five hundred armed horsemen roundabout the house of Ohain;three hundred footmen have set out in little bands and are enteringthe forest of Soignes.

  "Presently, when Alba is at his devotions, we shall run out upon him,and having taken him, we shall put him in a good iron cage and sendhim to the prince."

  But Lamme, shivering in anguish:

  "A great risk, my son," he said to Ulenspiegel. "A great risk! I wouldfollow you in this emprise were not my legs so weak, if my belly wasnot so blown out by reason of the thin sour beer they drink in thistown of Brussels."

  This discourse was held in a hole dug in the earth in a wood, in themiddle of the undergrowth. Suddenly, looking through the leaves asthough out of a burrow, they saw the yellow and red coats of theDuke's troopers, whose weapons glittered in the sun and who weregoing afoot through the wood.

  "We are betrayed," said Ulenspiegel.

  When he saw the troopers no more, he ran at top speed as far asOhain. The troopers let him pass without noticing him, because ofhis woodcutter's clothes and the load of wood he carried on hisback. There he found the horsemen waiting; he spread the news, allscattered and escaped except the sire de Bausart d'Armentieres whowas taken. As for the footmen that were coming from Brussels, theycould not find a single one.

  And it was a cowardly traitor in the regiment of the Sieur de Likesthat betrayed them all.

  The Sire de Bausart paid cruelly for the others.

  Ulenspiegel went, his heart beating wildly with anguish, to see hiscruel punishment in the Cattle Market at Brussels.

  And poor d'Armentieres, put upon the wheel, received thirty-sevenblows of an iron bar on legs, arms, feet, and hands, which werebroken to pieces one by one, for the murderers desired to see himsuffer terribly.

  And he received the thirty-seventh on the breast, and of that onehe died.


  On a June day, bright and sweet, there was erected at Brussels,on the marketplace in front of the City Hall, a scaffold coveredwith black draperies, and hard by two tall stakes with iron spikedends. Upon the scaffold were two black cushions and a little tableon which there was a silver crucifix.

  And on this scaffold were put to death by the sword the noble countsof Egmont and of Hoorn. And the king inherited.

  And the ambassador of Francois, the first of that name, said, speakingof Egmont:

  "I have just seen the head cut from off the man that twice causedFrance to tremble."

  And the heads of the counts were set on the iron spikes.

  And Ulenspiegel said to Lamme:

  "The bodies and the blood are covered with black cloth. Blessed bethey that shall hold their heart high and the sword straight in theblack days that are at hand!"


  At this time the Silent One gathered an army and invaded the LowCountries from three sides.

  And Ulenspiegel said at a meeting of Wild Beggars at Marenhout:

  "Upon the advice of the Inquisitors, Philip, the king, has declaredeach and every inhabitant of the Low Countries guilty of treasonthrough heresy, both for adherence to it and for not having opposedit, and in consideration of this execrable crime, condemns them all,without respect to sex or age, excepting those that are expresslynoted by name, to the penalties attached to such misdemeanours;and that without hope of grace. The king inherits. Death is reapingthroughout the wide rich lands that border on the Northern Sea,the country of Emden, the river Amise, the countries of Westphalia,of Cleves, of Juliers and of Liege, the bishoprics of Cologne andof Treves, the countries of Lorraine and of France. Death is reapingover a land of three hundred and forty leagues, in two hundred walledcities, in a hundred and fifty villages holding city rights, in thecountryside in bourgs and plains. The king inherits.

  "It is nowise too much," he went on, "eleven thousand butchers todo the work. Alba calls them soldiers. And the land of our fathershas become a charnel house whence the a
rts are taking flight, whichthe trades abandon, whence industries are departing to go and enrichforeigners, who allow them in their land to worship the God of thefree conscience. Death and Ruin are reaping. The king inherits.

  "The countries had acquired their privileges by dint of money givento needy princes; these privileges are confiscated. They had hoped, inaccordance with the contracts entered upon and passed between them andthe sovereigns, to enjoy riches as the fruit of their labours. Theyare deceived: the mason builds for the fire, the worker toils forthe thief. The king inherits.

  "Blood and tears! death reaps at the stake; upon the trees that serveas gallows all along the highways; in the open graves wherein poorgirls are thrown alive; in the judicial drownings of the prisons,in the circles of blazing faggots within which the victims burn byslow fire, in the wrappings of burning straw in which the victimsdie in flame and smoke. The king inherits.

  "So has willed the Pope in Rome.

  "The cities are bursting with spies waiting for their share of thevictims' goods. The richer a man is, the guiltier he is. The kinginherits.

  "But the valiant men of the countries will not suffer themselves to beslain like lambs. Among those that flee there are armed men that takeshelter in the woods. The monks had denounced them that they might beslain and their goods seized. And so by night, by day, by bands, likewild beasts they rush upon the cloisters, and take back from thence themoney stolen from the poor people, in the shape of candelabra, goldand silver shrines, pyxes, patens, precious vases. Is not that so,good fellows? They drink from them the wine the monks were keepingfor themselves. The vases melted down or pledged will serve for theholy war. Long live the Beggars!"

  "They harass the king's soldiers, slay them and strip them, and thenthey flee into their dens. Day and night fires are seen lighted andextinguished, changing place incessantly. They are the fires of ourfeastings. For us the game, both fur and feather. We are lords. Thepeasants give us bread and bacon when we want it. Lamme, look atthem. Raggedy, fierce, resolute, and proud eyed, they wander aboutthe woods with their hatchets, halberds, long swords, daggers, pikes,lances, crossbows, arquebuses, for all weapons are good to them,and they will never march under ensigns. Long live the Beggars!

  And Ulenspiegel sang:

  "Slaet op den trommele van dirre dom deyne Slaet op den trommele van dirre doum, doum. Beat upon the drum! van dirre dom deyne, Beat upon the drum of war.

  "Let them tear out his bowels from the Duke! Let them lash his face with them! Slaet op den trommele, beat upon the drum Cursed be the Duke! Death to the murderer.

  "Let him be thrown to dogs! Death to the Butcher! Long live the Beggars! Let him be hanged by the tongue And by the arm, by the tongue that orders, And by the arm that signs the sentence of death.

  Slaet op den trommele. Beat upon the war drum. Long live the Beggar!

  "Let the Duke be shut up alive with his victims' bodies! In the noisome stench Let him die of the corpse plague! Beat upon the war drum. Long live the Beggar!

  "Christ from on high look on thy soldiers, Risking the fire, the rope, The sword for thy word's sake. They will deliverance for the land of their fathers. Slaet op den trommele, van dirre dom deyne. Beat upon the war drum. Long live the Beggar!"

  And all set to drinking and shouting:

  "Long live the Beggar!"

  And Ulenspiegel, drinking from the gilt tankard of a monk, lookedproudly round on the valiant faces of the Wild Beggars.

  "Wild men," said he, "ye are wolves, lions, and tigers. Eat the dogsof the bloody king."

  "Long live the Beggar!" said they, singing:

  "Slaet op den trommele van dirre dom deyne; Slaet op den trommele van dirre dom dom: Beat upon the war drum. Long live the Beggar!"


  Ulenspiegel, being at Ypres, was recruiting soldiers for the Prince:pursued by the Duke's catchpolls, he offered himself as beadle to theprovost of Saint Martin. There he had for his companion a bellringercalled Pompilius Numan, a coward of the deepest dye, who at nighttook his own shadow for the devil and his shirt for a ghost.

  The provost was fat and plump as a hen fattened just ripe for thespit. Ulenspiegel soon saw on what grass he grazed to make himselfso much pork. According to what he heard from the bellringer andsaw with his own eyes, the provost dined at nine and supped at fourby the clock. He stayed in bed until half-past eight; then beforedinner he went walking in his church to see if the poor-boxes werewell filled. And the half he put into his own pouch. At nine o'clockhe dined on a bowl of milk, half a leg of mutton, a little heron pie,and emptied five tankards of Brussels wine. At ten, sucking a fewprunes and washing them down with Orleans wine, he prayed God never tobring him in the way of gluttony. At noon, he ate, to pass the time,a wing and rump of a chicken. At one o'clock, thinking of his supper,he drained a big draught of Spanish wine; then stretching himselfout on his bed, refreshed himself with a little nap.

  Awaking, he would eat a little salted salmon to whet his appetite,and drink a great tankard of dobbel-knol of Antwerp. Then he wouldgo down into the kitchen, sit down before the chimney place and thenoble wood fire that flamed in it. There he watched roasting andbrowning for the abbey monks a big piece of veal or a well-scaldedlittle pigling, that he would have eaten more gladly than a piece ofbread. But his appetite was a little wanting. And he would study thespit, which turned by itself like a miracle. It was the work of Petervan Steenkiste the smith, who lived in the castellany of Courtrai. Theprovost paid him fifteen Paris livres for one of these spits.

  Then he would go up again to his bed, and dozing upon it throughfatigue, he would wake up about three o'clock to gulp in a littlepig jelly washed down with wine of Romagna at two hundred and fortyflorins the hogshead. At three he would eat a fledgling chick withMadeira sugar and empty two glasses of malvoisie at seventeen florinsthe keg. At half-past three, he took half a pot of preserves andwashed it down with hydromel. Being now well awaked, he would takeone foot in his hand and rest in meditation.

  The moment of supper being come, the cure of Saint Jean would oftenarrive to visit him at this succulent hour. They sometimes disputedwhich could eat most fish, poultry, game, and meat. The one thatwas quickest filled must pay a dish of carbonadoes for the other,with three hot wines, four spices, and seven vegetables.

  Thus drinking and eating, they talked together of heretics, beingof opinion anyhow that it was impossible to do away with too many ofthem. And then they never fell into any quarrel, except only when theywere discussing the thirty-nine ways of making good soups with beer.

  Then drooping their venerable heads upon their priestly paunches, theywould snore. Sometimes half waking, one of them would say that life inthis world is very sweet and that poor folk are very wrong to complain.

  This was the saintly man whose beadle Ulenspiegel became. He servedhim well during mass, not without filling the flagons three times,twice for himself and once for the provost. The ringer PompiliusNuman helped him at it on occasion.

  Ulenspiegel, who saw Pompilius so flourishing, paunchy, and fullcheeked, asked him if it was in the provost's service he had laid upfor himself this treasure of enviable health.

  "Aye, my son," replied Pompilius, "but shut the door tight for fearthat one might listen to us."

  Then speaking in a whisper:

  "You know," said he, "that our master the provost loveth all winesand beers, all meats and fowl, with a surpassing love. And so he lockshis meats in a cupboard and his wines in a cellar, the keys of whichare ever in his pouch. And he sleeps with his hand on them.... Bynight when he sleeps I go and take his keys from his pouch and putthem back again, not without trembling, my son, for if he knew mycrime he would have me boiled alive."

  "Pompilius," said Ulenspiegel, "it needs not to take all that trouble,but the keys one time only; I shall make keys on this pattern and weshall leave the others on the paunch of the g
ood provost."

  "Make them, my son," said Pompilius.

  Ulenspiegel made the keys; as soon as he and Pompilius judgedabout eight of the clock in the evening that the good provost wasasleep they would go down and take what they chose of meats andbottles. Ulenspiegel would carry two bottles and Pompilius the meats,because Pompilius always was trembling like a leaf, and hams and legsof mutton do not break in falling. They took possession of fowl morethan once before they were cooked, which brought about the accusationof several cats belonging to the neighbourhood, which were done todeath for the crime.

  They went thereafter into the Ketel-straat, which is the street ofthe bona robas. There they spared nothing, giving liberally to theirdears smoked beef and ham, saveloys and poultry, and gave them wineof Orleans and Romagna to drink, and Ingelsche bier, which they calledale on the other side of the sea, and which they poured in floods downthe fresh throats of the pretty ladies. And they were paid in caresses.

  However, one morning after dinner the provost sent for both ofthem. He had a formidable look, sucking a marrow bone in soup, notwithout anger.

  Pompilius was trembling in his shoes, and his belly was shaken withfear. Ulenspiegel, keeping quiet, felt at the cellar keys in hispocket with pleased satisfaction.

  The provost, addressing him, said:

  "Someone is drinking my wine and eating my fowl, is it thou, my son?"

  "No," replied Ulenspiegel.

  "And this ringer," said the provost, pointing to Pompilius, "hath nothe dipped his hands in this crime, for he is pallid as a dying man,assuredly because the stolen wine is poison to him."