• “What is that?” said the king.
  • “A mouthful of the blood of Billy Beg’s bull.”
  • Then he off and away, with Billy.

“Then do you take to your bed, very sick with a complaint,” said the Hen-Wife, “and I’ll do the rest.”

“I can’t give you that,” said the king, and went away, sorrowful.

“Are you wanting a boy?” says Billy.

 “What are the wages?” says Billy.
After a time, the king married again, and the new queen could not abide Billy; no more could she stand the bull, seeing him and Billy so thick. So she asked the king to have the bull killed. But the king said he had promised, come what might, come what may, he’d not part Billy Beg and his bull, so he could not.

“Oh, mercy, mercy! Spare my life!” cried the giant.

“All right,” says Billy, and he entered service with the old gentleman.
That night, when the cows and the goats were driven home, they gave so much milk that all the dishes in the house were filled, and the milk ran over and made a little brook in the yard.


“I think not,” said Billy; and he cut off his heads.

Just before noon he heard a terrific roar; and out of the wood came a giant with six heads.
But when he came down, he told Billy Beg that he was to fight another bull, the brother of the other two, and that this time the other bull would be too much for him, and would kill him and drink his blood.

Billy Beg was very sad to hear that his friend must die. And very soon he heard a more dreadful roar than ever he heard, and a tremendous bull rushed out of the forest. Then came the worst fight of all. In the end, the other bull was too much for Billy Beg’s bull, and he killed him and drank his blood.

“Mercy, mercy, kind gentleman!” cried the giant. “Spare my life!”

And, sure enough, just as Billy finished eating, there was a frightful roar, and a mighty great bull, greater than the first, rushed out of the forest. And the two bulls at it and fought. It was a terrible fight! They knocked the hard ground into soft, the soft into hard, the rocks into spring wells, and the spring wells into rocks. But in the end, Billy Beg’s bull killed the other bull, and drank his blood.

“I think not,” said Billy, and cut off his heads.

Billy Beg sat down and cried for three days and three nights. After that he was hungry; so he put his hand in the bull’s left ear, and drew out the napkin, and ate all kinds of eating and drinking. Then he put his hand in the right ear and pulled out the stick which was to turn into a sword if waved round his head three times, and to give him the strength of a thousand men beside his own. And he cut a strip of the hide for a belt, and started off on his adventures.

“Nothing worse than myself,” said Billy.

“I am wanting a herd-boy,” says the gentleman, “to take my six cows, six horses, six donkeys, and six goats to pasture every morning, and bring them back at night. Maybe you’d do.”

“I’ll have you, my fine boy,” cries he; “how will you die, then?”

The first day, he drove the six cows, six horses, six donkeys, and six goats to pasture, and sat down by them. About noon he heard a kind of roaring from the wood; and out rushed a giant with two heads, spitting fire out of his two mouths.

“We’ll see,” says Billy; “come on!”

Then Billy jumped on the bull’s back, and the bull off and away, where you wouldn’t know day from night or night from day, over high hills, low hills, sheep walks and bullock traces, the Cove o’ Cork, and old Tom Fox with his bugle horn. And when he stopped he told Billy to put his hand in his left ear and pull out the napkin, because he’d to fight another great bull of the forest. So Billy pulled out the napkin and spread it, and it was covered with all kinds of eating and drinking, fit for a king.