Crom Duv's arms stretched down to his twisted knees; he had long, yellow, overlapping horse s teeth in his mouth, with a fall-down under-lip and a drawn-back upper-lip; he had a matted rug of hair on his head. He was as high as a haystack. He carried in his twisted hand an iron spike pointed at the end. And wherever he was going he went as quickly as a running mule.
He tied Flann's hands behind his back and drew the rope round Flann's body. Then he started off. Flann was dragged on as if at the tail of a cart. Over ditches and through streams; up hillsides and down into hollows he was hauled. Then they came into a plain as round as the wheel of a cart. Across the plain they went and into a mile-deep wood. Beyond the wood there were buildings--such walls and such heaps of stones Flann never saw before.
But before they had entered the wood they had come to a high grassy mound. And standing on that grassy mound was the most tremendous bull that Flann had ever seen.
"What bull is that, Giant?" said Flann.
"My own bull," said Crom Duv, "the Bull of the Mound. Look back at him, little fellow. If ever you try to escape from my service my Bull of the Mound will toss you into the air and trample you into the ground." Crom Duv blew on a horn that he had across his chest. The Bull of the Mound rushed down the slope snorting. Crom Duv shouted and the bull stood still with his tremendous head bent down.
Flann's heart, I tell you, sank, when he saw the bull that guarded Crom Duv's house. They went through the deep wood then, and came to the gate of the Giant's Keep. Only a chain was across it, and Crom Duv lifted up the chain. The courtyard was filled with cattle black and red and striped. The Giant tied Flann to a stone pillar. "Are you there, Morag, my byre-maid?" he shouted.
"I am here," said a voice from the byre. More cattle were in the byre and someone was milking them.
There was straw on the ground of the courtyard and Crom Duv lay down on it and went to sleep with the cattle trampling around him. A great stone wall was being built all round the Giant's Keep--a wall six feet thick and built as high as twenty feet in some places and in others as high as twelve. The wall was still being built, for heaps of stones and great mixing-pans were about. And just before the door of the Keep was a Rowan Tree that grew to a great height. At the very top of the tree were bunches of red berries. Cats were lying around the stems of the tree and cats were in its branches--great yellow cats. More yellow cats stepped out of the house and came over to him. They looked Flann all over and went back, mewing to each other.
The cattle that were in the courtyard went into the byre one by one as they were called by the voice of the byre-maid. Crom Duv still slept. By and by a little red hen that was picking about the courtyard came near him and holding up her head looked Flann all over.
When the last cow had gone in and the last stream of milk had sounded in the milking-vessel the byre-maid came into the courtyard. Flann thought he would see a long-armed creature like Crom Duv himself. Instead he saw a girl with good and kind eyes, whose disfigurements were that her face was pitted and her hair was bushy. "I am Morag, Crom Duv's byre-maid," said she.
"Will Crom Duv kill me?" said Flann.
"No. He'll make you serve him," said the byre-maid.
"And what will he make me do for him?"
"He will make you help to build his wall. Crom Duv goes out every morning to bring his cattle to pasture on the plain. And when he comes back he builds the wall round his house. He'll make you mix mortar and carry it to him, for I heard him say he wants a servant to do that."
"I'll escape from this," said Flann, "and I'll bring you with me."
"Hush," said Morag, and she pointed to seven yellow cats that were standing at Crom Duv's door, watching them. "The cats," said she, "are Crom Duv's watchers here and the Bull of the Mound is his watcher out-side."
"And is this Little Red Hen a watcher too?" said Flann, for the Little Red Hen was watching them sideways. "The Little Red Hen is my friend and adviser," Morag, and she went into the house with two vessels of milk.
Crom Duv wakened up. He untied Flann and left him free. "You must mix mortar for me now," he said. He went into the byre and came out with a great vessel of milk. He left it down near the mixing-pan. He went to the side of the house and came back with a trough of blood.
"What are these for, Crom Duv?" said Flann. "To mix the mortar with, gilly," said the Giant. "Bullock's blood and new milk is what I mix my mortar with, so that nothing can break down the walls that I'm building round the Fairy Rowan Tree. Every day I kill a bullock and every day my byre-maid fills a vessel of milk to mix with my mortar. Set to now, and mix the mortar for me."
Flann brought lime and sand to the mixing-pan and he mixed them in bullock's blood and new milk. He carried stones to Crom Duv. And so he worked until it was dark. Then Crom Duv got down from where he was building and told Flann to go into the house.
The yellow cats were there and Flann counted sixteen of them. Eight more were outside, in the branches or around the stem of the Rowan Tree. Morag came in, bringing a great dish of porridge. Crom Duv took up a wooden spoon and ate porridge out of vessel after vessel of milk. Then he shouted for his beer and Morag brought him vessel after vessel of beer. Crom Duv emptied one after the other..Then he shouted for his knife and when Morag brought it he began to sharpen it, singing a queer song to himself.
"He's sharpening a knife to kill a bullock in the morning," said Morag. "Come now, and I'll give you your supper."
She took him to the kitchen at the back of the house. She gave him porridge and milk and he ate his supper. Then she showed him a ladder to a room above, and he went up there and made a bed for himself. He slept soundly, although he dreamed of the twenty-four yellow cats within, and the tremendous Bull of the Mound outside Crom Duv's Keep.