July 15, 2020

The Mysterious Picture part 5

“Very well,” said the Landgrave, and at his command the aforesaid notabilities appeared. Ulenspiegel took his stand in front of the curtain, which was still carefully drawn.“My Lord Landgrave,” he said “and you, Madame the Landgravine, and you, my Lord of Luneburg, and you others, fine ladies and valiant captains, know that behind this curtain have I portrayed to the best of my abilities, your faces, every one warlike or gentle, as the case may be. It will be quite easy for each one of you to recognize himself. And that you are anxious to see yourselves is only natural. But I pray you, have patience and suffer me to speak a word or two before the curtain is drawn. Know this, fair ladies and valiant captains: all you that are of noble blood shall behold my paintings and rejoice. But if there be any among you that is of low or humble birth, such an one will see nothing but a blank wall. So there! And now, have the goodness to open wide your noble eyes.”And so saying, Ulenspiegel drew the curtain.“Remember,” said he again, “only they of noble birth can see my pictures, whether they be lords or ladies.” And again, presently: “He of low birth is blind to my pictures, but he who clearly sees, that man is a nobleman without a doubt.”At that, everyone present opened wide his eyes, pretending—you may be sure—to see, and failing to recognize the various faces, and pointing themselves out to one another, though in reality they beheld nothing at all but a bare wall. And for this they were each and all secretly ashamed. Suddenly the court jester, who was standing by, jumped three feet in the air and jangled his bells.“Take me for a villain,” he cried, “a most villainous villain, I verily will affirm and assert and say with trumpets and fanfares that there I see a wall, a blank white wall and nothing but a wall, so help me God and his saints!”Ulenspiegel said, “When fools `gin talking, time for wise men to be walking.”And he was about to leave the palace when the Landgrave stopped him.

Making Mock of Foolery

“Fool in your folly,” said he, “you make boast that you go through the world praising what is good and fair and making mock of foolery, and you have dared to make open game of so many and so high-born ladies, and of their yet more noble lords, bringing ridicule on the pride of their nobility! Of a truth, I tell you that the day will come when you will hang for your free speech.”“If the cord is of gold,” said Ulenspiegel, “it will break with dread of my approach.”“Stay,” said the Landgrave. “Here is the first bit of your rope.” And he gave him fifteen florins.“All thanks to you,” said Ulenspiegel, “and I promise you that every tavern on the road shall have a thread of it, a thread of that gold which makes Croesuses of all those rascally tavern-keepers.”And off he went on his donkey, holding his head up high in the air, with the plume in his cap wagging joyously in the breeze.

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