CAP O' RUSHES
ELL, 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
"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
"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'
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'
"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
gay and ga', and the young master he never took his eyes off
"Well, there," says she, "I should ha' liked to ha' seen
"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
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
The master's son 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 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
The young man he drank it and then he saw the ring at the
"Send for the cook," says he. So up she comes.
"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
"Well, then, "twas 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
wedding, and everyone was asked far and near. And Cap o'
Rushes's father was asked. But she never told anybody who
But before the wedding, she went to the cook, and says she:
"I want you to dress every dish without a mite o' salt."
"That'll be rare nasty," says the cook.
"That doesn't signify," says she.
"Very well," says the cook.
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's father tried first one
dish and then another, and then he burst out crying.
"What is 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.
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