Cap O' Rushes
Reading time: 4 minutes. Word count: 800 words.
WELL, there was once a very rich gentleman, and he 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 clothes. 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 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 as she. 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 slipt 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' Rushes!' 'What was' that?' says she. 'Why, the beautifullest lady you ever see, dressed right gay and ga'. The young master, he never took his eyes off her.'
'Well, I should have liked to have seen her,' says Cap o' Rushes. 'Well, there's to be another dance this evening, and perhaps she'll be there.'
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 and 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 slipt 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 ha' 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 her cap o' rushes and cleaned herself, and away she went to the dance. 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' rushes on.
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.
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Source: English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs (1890). Weblink.
Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology.
Laura Gibbs, Ph.D.
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