Slue-foot Sue
Slue-foot Sue by Laura Bannon, from Pecos Bill: The Greatest Cowboy of All Time by James Cloyd Bowman (1937)
Characters Adapted from Other Works
First Appearance: The Saga of Pecos Bill
Creator: Edward O'Reilly (possibly based on an earlier source)
Nationality: United States
Date of Birth: 1830s
Spouse: Pecos Bill
Occupation: Cowgirl, Explorer
Appearing in:

"Slue-Foot Sue and the Witch in the Woods"
by Laura Frankos

Fantasy Pastiche
Type of Appearance: Direct POV

Slue-foot Sue is the wife of Edward O'Reilly's fictional cowboy Pecos Bill. Sue first appears to Bill while riding a giant catfish down the Rio Grande River. After a whirlwind courtship, Sue insists on riding Bill's horse Widow Maker on the day of their wedding. Widow Maker, who will tolerate being ridden by no human other than Bill, bounces Sue off; she lands on her bustle and begins bouncing higher and higher, so that she can touch the Moon. The Bill stories offer multiple possibilities about what happens next, allowing the reader to choose. Either Sue does not survive the bouncing, or she returns to the ground but decides to remain permanently estranged from Bill, or she is rescued and they live happily ever after. The final option is the one most frequently chosen by retellings for mass consumption.

Slue-foot Sue in "Slue-Foot Sue and the Witch in the Woods"[]

When Slue-foot Sue's marriage to Pecos Bill was formalized, she took Bill's pet rattlesnake, Rat and the original Bowie knife, and against all reason, leaped onto Widow Maker's back. As Bill had warned, the horse threw her; she landed on her bustle and began to bounce, higher and higher. While legends often depicted Sue coming to a bad end as a result, that wasn't the case.[1]

In truth, Sue began bouncing from place to place, bouncing all the way from Texas to Washington, DC, and then across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe. While bouncing through a forest in Russia, she pulled out Rat and had him fasten his fangs to a tree; by holding on, she came to a complete stop.[2]

Realizing she wasn't in Texas anymore, she tried to get help from a passing rider who was dressed in white and astride a white horse. He ignored her, so she trudged on until she encountered a woman riding in a flying pot, and steering with a stick: the witch, Baba Yaga. When Baba Yaga refused to help Sue, Sue offered to make it worth Baba Yaga's while. As she'd been bored of late, Baba Yaga agreed to a contest. If Sue won two out of three skirmishes, Baba Yaga would take her home. If Baba Yaga won, Sue would surrender her valuable. They then went to Baba Yaga's house on chicken legs, and Baba Yaga uttered an incantation that commanded the house to squat down and let them in.[3]

Baba Yaga won the first contest when she used a magic potion to shrink herself down to the size of a mouse. While Sue removed her bustle, she didn't change size enough to match Baba Yaga.

Sue won the next two matches. Baba Yaga produced a knife that could cut under its own power. However, the original Bowie knife was sharp so sharp that its shadow cleaved Baba Yaga's blade apart. Finally, Baba Yaga turned a staff into a snake, but Rat made short work of it.[4]

While Sue had won, Baba Yaga protested that it was too late to for her to show Sue the way to Texas. Sue agreed to help make dinner, then went to sleep out in the barn. On her way out, she saw another rider, this time in black, who ignored her the way the white rider had.  As she was getting comfortable. a hedgehog approached her and told her that Baba Yaga meant to kill her. He also told her that she could use Baba Yaga's house to get home once the witch left. He further informed her that he was actually a prince named Dmitri Romanov.[5] She agreed to drop him in Kiev.[6]

When Baba Yaga left at midnight, Sue used the incantation, and the house headed for Kiev, and then Hell's Gate Ranch.[7] After the house refused to cross the Atlantic (and created the Norwegian fjords in the process), Sue lassoed a whale, and coaxed the house onto its back. They then rode it to the U.S., and the house carried her the rest of the way home. Sue cut off the house's legs and had the camp cook, Bean Hole, cook them so as to make things up to Pecos Bill. After Bill ate the drumsticks, he and Sue consummated their marriage.[8]


  1. Did You Say Chicks?, pg 24, mmp.
  2. Ibid., pgs. 24-25.
  3. Ibid., pg. 26.
  4. Ibid. pg. 26-27.
  5. Ibid., pg. 28.
  6. Ibid., pg. 28-29.
  7. Ibid., pgs. 29-30.
  8. Ibid., pgs. 30-31.