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THE TILL EULENSPIEGEL SERIES : TALE 2
The second story tells of how all the villagers complained about the young Eulenspiegel and called him good-for-nothing and a scoundrel; and how he quietly sat on the horse behind his father and let the people see his arse.
It started at the tender age of three. Eulenspiegel demonstrates a remarkably precocious way of getting into trouble and out of it. People are already having trouble making their accusations stick. In many of the following stories you'll see the same pattern, as though Eulenspiegel were made of teflon when it comes to pinning the blame on him. Dad is simply clueless and has no idea what's really going on behind his back. Or in front of him, as a matter of fact.
Now when Eulenspiegel was old enough to stand up and walk, he also played a lot with the other children. He was, after all, an active child. He'd spend endless hours bouncing around on his bed and bouncing around on the grass in the yard. This lasted until he was three years old. After that he busied himself with all sorts of mischief, so much that all the neighbours came to his father to complain about his son being a scoundrel.
So Claus Eulensipegel took his son aside and said: "Why are all our neighbours coming to me saying that you're a troublemaker?" To which Eulenspiegel replied: "Father dearest, I never did anything bad to anyone and will prove it to you beyond all doubt. Get your horse. I'll ride behind you and the two of us will quietly ride through town. They'll still lie about me and say whatever they like. Just watch!" So his father did as Till suggested and took him behind him on the horse. Eulenspiegel lifted himself up, showed the people his bare backside and sat down again. Needless to sat, this made the neighbours point at him saying, "you should be ashamed of yourself! You really are a good-for-nothing!" Then Eulenspiegel said: "Hear, father, you see yourself that I'm quiet and doing nothing to anyone. But they're still calling me names!"
So his father did this: he put his dear son before him on the horse. Eulenspiegel sat quite still but opened his mouth, grinned at the onlooking farmers and stuck his tongue out at them. The people came up to them saying: "Look and see what sort of a young scoundrel he is!" So his father said: "Clearly you were born in a luckless hour. You're sitting there, being quiet and harming no one, yet everyone still thinks that you're a scoundrel."
English translation based on text in the public domain, made available by the German Projekt Gutenberg-DE web site.
Source URI: http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/bote/eulenspg/eulen02.htm
Commentary preceding story text added and, where applicable, researched by writeup author.