Cap O' Rushes
: OLD-FASHIONED STORIES
: Boys And Girls Bookshelf
Well, there was once a very rich gentleman who had three daughters, and
he thought he'd see how fond they were of him. So he says to the first:
"How much do you love me, my dear?"
"Why," says she, "as I love my life."
"That's good," says he.
So he says to the second: "How much do you love me, my dear?"
"Why," says she, "better nor all the world."
"That's good," says he.
So he says to the third: "How much do you love me, my dear?"
"Why, I love you as fresh meat loves salt," says she.
Well, but he was angry! "You don't love me at all," says he, "and in my
house you stay no more." So he drove her out, there and then, and shut
the door in her face.
Well, she went away, on and on, till she came to a fen, and there she
gathered a lot of rushes and made them into a kind of a sort of a cloak,
with a hood, to cover her from head to foot, and to hide her fine
And then she went on and on till she came to a great house.
"Do you want a maid?" says she.
"No, we don't," said they.
"I haven't nowhere to go," says she; "and I ask no wages, and will do
any sort of work," says she.
"Well," said they, "if you like to wash the pots and scrape the
saucepans you may stay," said they.
So she stayed there, and washed the pots, and scraped the saucepans, and
did all the dirty work. And because she gave no name they called her
"Cap o' Rushes."
Well, one day there was to be a great dance a little way off, and the
servants were allowed to go and look on at the grand people. Cap o'
Rushes said she was too tired to go, so she stayed at home.
But when they were gone, she offed with her cap o' rushes, and cleaned
herself, and went to the dance. And no one there was so finely dressed
Well, who should be there but her master's son, and what should he do
but fall in love with her the minute he set eyes on her. He wouldn't
dance with anyone else.
But before the dance was done, Cap o' Rushes slipped off and away she
went home. And when the other maids came back she was pretending to be
asleep with her cap o' rushes on.
Well, next morning they said to her: "You did miss a sight, Cap o'
"What was that?" says she.
"Why, the beautifullest lady you ever saw, dressed right gay and ga'.
The young master--he never took his eyes off her."
"Well, I should like to have seen her," says Cap o' Rushes.
"Well, there's to be another dance this evening, and perhaps she'll be
But, come the evening, Cap o' Rushes said she was too tired to go with
them. Howsoever, when they were gone, she offed with her cap o' rushes,
cleaned herself, and away she went to the dance.
The master's son had been reckoning on seeing her, and he danced with no
one else, and never took his eyes off her. But before the dance was over
she slipped off and home she went, and when the maids came back she
pretended to be asleep with her cap o' rushes on.
Next day they said to her again: "Well, Cap o' Rushes, you should have
been there to see the lady. There she was again, gay and ga', and the
young master--he never took his eyes off her."
"Well, there," says she, "I should ha' liked to ha' seen her."
"Well," says they, "there's a dance again this evening, and you must go
with us, for she's sure to be there."
Well, come this evening, Cap o' Rushes said she was too tired to go; and
do what they would she stayed at home. But when they were gone, she
offed with her cap o' rushes and cleaned herself, and away she went to
The master's son was rarely glad when he saw her. He danced with none
but her, and never took his eyes off her. When she wouldn't tell him her
name, nor where she came from, he gave her a ring, and told her if he
didn't see her again he should die.
Well, before the dance was over, off she slipped, and home she went; and
when the maids came home she was pretending to be asleep with her cap o'
Well, next day they says to her: "There, Cap o' Rushes, you didn't come
last night, and now you won't see the lady, for there's no more dances."
"Well, I should have rarely liked to have seen her," says she.
The master's son he tried every way to find out where the lady was
gone; but go where he might, and ask whom he might, he never heard
anything about her. And he got worse and worse for the love of her, till
he had to keep to his bed.
"Make some gruel for the young master," they said to the cook. "He's
dying for the love of the lady." The cook set about making it, when Cap
o' Rushes came in.
"What are you a-doing of?" says she.
"I'm going to make some gruel for the young master," says the cook, "for
he's dying for love of the lady."
"Let me make it," says Cap o' Rushes.
Well, the cook wouldn't at first, but at last she said yes, and Cap o'
Rushes made the gruel. And when she had made it she slipped the ring
into it on the sly before the cook took it upstairs.
The young man he drank it, and then he saw the ring at the bottom.
"Send for the cook," says he.
So up she came.
"Who made this gruel here?" says he.
"I did," says the cook, for she was frightened.
And he looked at her.
"No, you didn't," says he. "Say who did it, and you shan't be harmed."
"Well, then, 't was Cap o' Rushes," says she.
"Send Cap o' Rushes here," says he.
So Cap o' Rushes came.
"Did you make my gruel?" says he.
"Yes, I did," says she.
"Where did you get this ring?" says he.
"From him that gave it me," says she.
"Who are you, then?" says the young man.
"I'll show you," says she. And she offed with her cap o' rushes, and
there she was in her beautiful clothes.
Well, the master's son he got well very soon, and they were to be
married in a little time. It was to be a very grand wedding, and
everyone was asked, far and near. And Cap o' Rushes' father was asked.
But she never told anybody who she was.
But before the wedding, she went to the cook, and says she:
"I want you to dress every dish without a mite of salt."
"That'll be rare nasty," says the cook.
"That doesn't signify," said she.
Well, the wedding day came, and they were married. And after they were
married all the company sat down to the dinner. When they began to eat
the meat, it was so tasteless they couldn't eat it. But Cap o' Rushes'
father tried first one dish and then another, and then he burst out
"What's the matter?" said the master's son to him.
"Oh!" says he, "I had a daughter. And I asked her how much she loved me.
And she said, 'As much as fresh meat loves salt.' And I turned her from
my door, for I thought she didn't love me. And now I see she loved me
best of all. And she may be dead for aught I know."
"No, father, here she is!" said Cap o' Rushes. And she goes up to him
and puts her arms round him.
And so they were all happy ever after.
[J] From "English Fairy Tales," collected by Joseph Jacobs;
used by permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons.