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THE TILL EULENSPIEGEL SERIES : TALE 25
The twenty-fifth tale tells of how Eulenspiegel was banished from Lüneburg, and how he slit open his horse's belly and stood
Or: How to Convert Your Steed Into a Legal Residence in Three Easy Steps. Our hero unwisely appears where he's not welcome, defying the local
authorities' power over (his own) life and death. Quick thinking, fast talking, and swift butchery get him out of a sticky situation but probably
leave him covered in flies anyway.
We are once again dealing with historial inconsistency since the city of Celle did not become the residence of the Dukes of Lüneburg-Celle
until Albrecht I of Sachsen-Wittenberg made it his residence in 1378, a couple of decades after Eulenspiegel's death.
In Celle in the land of Lüneburg, Eulenspiegel pulled off one really adventurous prank. Because of this, the Duke of Lüneburg forbade him his lands--should he be discovered there, they should catch and hang him. Nevertheless Eulenspiegel made no effort to avoid Lüneburg. If it was on the way to wherever he was going, he'd ride or walk through it as often as he liked.
It happened so once that Eulenspiegel was riding through the Lüneburg countryside, and ran into the duke. As he saw that it was the duke, he thought: "If it's the duke and you run away, they'll catch up with you with their war horses and knock you off yours. Then the duke will come and be all angry, and will have you hanged from the nearest tree." So he made a quick decision, jumped off his horse and slashed open its belly. He then scooped out the entrails and stood in the belly of the carcass.
As the duke approached the point at which Eulenspiegel stood in his horse's belly, his servants said to him, "Look, my lord, Eulenspiegel is standing here in a horse's hide!" So the duke rode up to him and said: "Eulenspiegel, is that you? What are you doing sitting in this carrion? Don't you know that I've forbidden you to enter my dominion? And that, should I find you trespassing, I should have you hanged from a tree?" So Eulenspiegel replied: "O most merciful lord, I should hope that you will spare my life. I haven't done anything so evil that I should hang for it!"
The duke spoke to him again, and said, "Come here to me and prove your innocence. And what do you mean by standing in a horse's hide?" Eulenspiegel, though, peered out and replied, "Your lack of mercy worries me, my Lordship, and I'm very afraid. But all my life I've heard it said that everyone shall be granted peace within his own four posts."
The duke started laughing and said, "Alright then, now will you stay away from my lands in the future?" Eulenspiegel replied, "As Your Lordship wishes." The duke then rode off saying, "Stay as you are."
Eulenspiegel quickly jumped out of the dead horse's belly and spoke to it: "Many thanks, my dear horse. You helped me and saved my life, and earned me a lord's favour. Lie here now. Better the crows get you than they get me." And he ran off on foot.
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/eulen25.htm
Commentary preceding story text added and, where applicable, researched by writeup author.