June 25, 2023

#08-321: Cap o' Rushes

Cap o' Rushes (Wikipedia)

Note: Not all the great fairy tales collected in the 19th century were brought to us by the Brothers Grimm. Joseph Jacob's collection English Fairy Tales gives us "Jack and the Beanstalk," "The Three Little Pigs," "The Three Bears," and many others, including this lovely little tale that opens with a "Lear test" motif.

Get Ready: What can we say about a parent who sets up artificial tests of his or her children's love?

Here's an old English fairy tale.

A rich but foolish man wanted to know how much his three daughters loved him.

He asked the first and she said, "As much as I love my life." The second answered in a similar vein: "Better than all the world." But the third said only, "As much as meat loves salt."

"WHAT?!" he shouted, thinking this not enough, and summarily kicked her out of the house.

As she walked along in her finery she realized people would notice, so she stopped at a marsh by the road and cut some rushes to make a cloak and hood to cover herself up.

Reaching another large house, she took a job washing pots and pans in the kitchen. She never gave her name, so the other working girls called her "Cap o' Rushes."

One day there was a grand dance in the neighborhood and all the servants went to look at the grand people. But Cap o' Rushes stayed home, saying she was too tired to go. As soon as the others were gone, though, she took off her suit of rushes, got cleaned up, and went to the ball, where she danced with her own master's son.

Naturally, the lad fell in love with the most beautiful girl at the ball, and she returned the next night, and the next. On that third and final night she still would not give her name, so he gave her a ring, saying if he couldn't see her again, he would die.

In the following days the master's son searched for her until at last he fell ill and lay in bed, and all the time she was working in his kitchen.

One day the young master asked for a special gruel, and getting permission to make it, Cap o' Rushes slipped his ring into the bottom of the bowl.

When he found it ,he asked to see who made it, and Cap o' Rushes was brought to him. "Where did you get this ring?" he asked. "From him that gave it me," she replied. "Who are you, then?" he asked.

"I'll show you," she said, and took off the rushes revealing herself to be the girl from the dance.

Naturally, they were wed. And for the wedding feast she told the cook to prepare all the food without salt. ("That'll be rare nasty," said the cook.) And when her father, who attended the feast, tasted the bland food, he began to cry, and told the master's son about his daughter, and how she was lost.

"No, father, here I am!" Cap o' Rushes, and put her arms around him, and so they lived happily ever after.


Practice: Match the term to its definition:

Term Definition
  1. bland
  2. cloak
  3. finery
  4. gruel
  5. hood
  6. marsh
  7. nasty
  8. rare
  9. summarily
  10. vein
  1. outer garment
  2. disgusting
  3. without noticeable taste
  4. unusually
  5. swampy area
  6. manner
  7. directly; promptly
  8. fancy clothes
  9. thick soup
  10. head covering

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for June 27, 2023

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. c; 2. a; 3. h; 4. i; 5. j; 6. e; 7. b; 8. d; 9. g; 10. f