Coldfeet and the Queen of Lonesome Island
ONCE upon a time, and a long time ago it was, there lived an old woman in Erin. This old woman's house was at the northeast corner of Mount Brandon. Of all the friends and relatives that ever she had in the world there was but one left, her only son, Sean, nicknamed Fuarcosa (Coldfeet).
The reason that people called the boy Coldfeet was this : When a child he was growing always ; what of him did not grow one hour grew an other; what did not grow in the day grew in the night; what did not grow in the night grew in the day; and he grew that fast that when seven years old he could not find room enough in his mother's house. When night came and he was sleeping, whatever corner of the house his head was in, it was out of doors that his feet were, and, of course, they were cold, especially in winter.
It was not long till his legs as well as his feet were out of the house, first to the knees, and then to the body. When fifteen years old it was all that he could do to put his head in, and he lived outdoors entirely. What the mother could gather in a year would not support the son for a day, he was that large and had such an appetite.
Coldfeet had to find his own food, and he had no means of living but to bring home sheep and bullocks from whatever place he met them.
He was going on in this way, faring rather
ill than well, when one day above another he
I think I must go into the great world, mother. I am half starving in this place. I can do little good for myself as I am, and no good at all for you.
He rose early next morning, washed his face and hands, asked assistance and protection of God, and if he did not, may we. He left good, health with his mother at parting, and away he went, crossing high hills, passing low dales, and kept on his way without halt or rest, the clear day going and the dark night coming, taking lodgings each evening wherever he found them, till at last he came to a high roomy castle.
He entered the castle without delaying outside, and when he went in, the owner asked was he a servant in search of a master.
I am in search of a master, said Coldfeet.
He engaged to herd cows for small hire and his keeping, and the time of his service was a day and a year.
Next morning, when Coldfeet was driving the
cattle to pasture, his master was outside in the
field before him, and said,
You must take good care of yourself, for of all the herders who took service with me never a man but was killed by one or another of four giants who live next to my pastures. One of these giants has four, the next six, the third eight, and the fourth twelve heads on him.
By my hand ! said Coldfeet, I did not come here to be killed by the like of them. They will not hurt me, never fear.