This one's been told and retold many times, and each time something changes a little more, but the overall theme is the same. It's been compared to Cinderella, but really, what faerie tale worth it's salt (haha, see what I did there? You will!) hasn't been?
Long long time ago, there lived a rich man and his three daughters.
One day, the rich man asked his daughters, 'How much do you love me, my dears?'
Because parents should always question their children on these things.
'Why, Father,' said the first daughter, ' I love you as much as life itself.'
'Oh, Father,' said the second daughter, 'I love you more than all the world.'
The rich man was very pleased.
"Haha, my self worth is validated by the cliche` words of small children! Clearly I am awesome!"
Then he turned to his youngest daughter, and asked, 'And how much do you love me, my little one?'
Being pure and innocent, she replied 'Daddy, I love you as much as I love salt because without salt, nothing has any taste.'
An odd thing to say, but she's probably very young, so I can cut her some slack on that. Plus I like salty things. Potato chips rule all.
Though spoken in innocence, this made the rich man very angry. 'You don't love me at all!', he exclaimed. 'You will no longer live in my house or be my daughter!' he said. He threw his youngest daughter out of the house, and shut the door.
Another example of parental oversensitivity and abandonment. Why do the adults in these stories have such thin skin? Someone says that the plume on a hat is a bit much for the style, and people will scream for their blood! How dare anyone mock my fashion sense! OFF WITH THEIR HEAD! Plus, she's probably a small child, so he gets bonus points in the suck department for that.
The poor girl wandered on and on by herself, till she came to a riverbank where tall, green rushes grew. She cut the rushes and wove herself a cloak and a hood to hide her beautiful clothes. She then went to a large house that she could see, and knocked at the kitchen door.
Huh, for a rich kid she seems to have some self-reliance skills if she knows how to weave that well, and knows that having rich clothes out on the roads and such alone could get her in trouble.
'What do you want?' asked the cook, as she opened the door and saw the girl in her cloak of rushes.
'I have nowhere to go, and nowhere to stay,' said the girl. 'I'll do any sort of work for you, and ask only for food and a roof to sleep under in return.'
'Well,' said the cook. 'I do need someone to scrub the floor and wash the dishes and scour the pans. If you are willing to do that, you are welcome to stay.'
Huh, lucky kid, first house she shows up at has work for her. Things seem to work out pretty well for rich kids in these stories, unless they're bratty and don't learn better.
So the girl became a scullery maid in the large house. All day long she would scrub and clean. At night she would go to sleep in a little corner of the kitchen.
Better than sleeping out in the woods, though if she had done that she probably would have met an inexplicably talking bear who she could have fed her jerk father to. Yesss....she should have done that. Gotten a giant bear minion to devour those who opposed her, to release in her old home and watch as it tore apart the father who scorned her love!
Issues? I don't have issues, what are you talking about?
The girl would never take her cloak of rushes off, not even at night. If someone asked her her name, she wouldn't answer. So, since she wouldn't give a name and she wouldn't take her hood and cloak of rushes off, the other maids began calling her Cap o' Rushes.
Kind of a mouthful for a little girl, isn't it? I'd call her Cappie or something.
Cap o' Rushes stayed in that big house for many days, doing all that she was asked to do.
One evening the other maids said to her, 'There is a great dance tonight in the next village, and the servants have leave to go and watch the rich folk dance. Will you come with us?'
But Cap o' Rushes said she was far too tired to go that far. She lay down in her corner and pretended to go to sleep.
"They'll never suspect the little girl in the corner...no, no, they'll never suspect usssss...."
As soon as the other servants had left, and the house was empty, Cap o' Rushes threw off her cloak and hood of rushes, and dressed in her fine clothes, went to the dance. There she was the most beautiful girl of all. The son of her master was at the dance as well. He could not take his eyes off the girl, and danced with her all evening.
I'll let this one slide on the principal that, being the Master's son, he may never have met her since she probably stayed in the kitchens working and all, and he probably didn't take notice of the servants. If he had ever seen her before, then unless she wove a ski mask out of those rushes too someone should have recognized her!
'Who are you?' he asked her. 'Where do you live?' But Cap o' Rushes only smiled and gave no answer. Well before the dance was over, Cap o' Rushes slipped off home. She quickly put on her hood and cloak of rushes again, and lay down in her corner, pretending to be fast asleep.
The other maids and servants returned home very excited. 'Why, Cap o' Rushes!' they said. 'You missed the most beautiful lady there ever was. She danced all evening with the master's son, and then vanished into thin air. Nobody knows where she came from, and where she went off to.'
'Oh,' said Cap o' Rushes, 'I would have liked to see that lovely lady!'
Now those guys don't get a free pass. They know her! They work with her every day! Unless that cloak has a face concealer of some kind, they should have darn well recognized her! Do they not look each other in the face or something?
The next evening there was a dance again. 'Come with us, Cap o' Rushes,' said the other maids and servants. 'Maybe the beautiful lady will be there again tonight, and you can see her.'
But Cap o' Rushes said she was too be tired to go all that way, and pretended to fall asleep in her corner again.
As soon as the house was empty, she threw off her hood and cloak of rushes, and dressed in her fine clothes, went to the dance again.
The master's son was at the dance again, hoping the beautiful lady would come again. When he saw Cap o' Rushes he rushed up to her, and wouldn't leave her side all evening. But as before, Cap o' Rushes would tell him nothing about herself, and slipped off before the dance was over.
The other maids and servants came home to find her sleeping in her corner as before. 'O Cap o' Rushes, ' they sighed. 'The beautiful lady was there again. The master's son danced with her all evening, and with no one else.'
'O', said Cap o' Rushes again. ' I would have loved to see that!'
I'm guessing from the references to the beautiful 'lady' and not 'girl' that she is in fact a bit older, maybe mid-teens or older. In that case she should be even MORE easily recognizable, because kids are a bit harder to tell apart sometimes (they all look the same to me!) than an adult, who's features are more pronounced and refined. They should be able to recognize her unless her face is concealed, and if it is that's kinda creepy.
The following evening there was another dance. Again the others begged Cap o' Rushes to come with them, again she refused, but went later to the dance dressed in fine clothes. The master's son was waiting for her, and danced with her all evening.
So she hasn't changed clothes once this whole time? Geez. I mean I know hygiene wasn't what it is now back then but still, I hope she at least bathed.
'I don't know who you are,' said the master's son to Cap o' Rushes that evening. 'But if I lose you, I will pine away and die for you.' And he gave her a ring to put on her finger, to remember him by.
And of course, he knew her size perfectly. Am I the only one who's noticed they never address how someone can always provide the character with a ring or hat or dress or whatever that is perfectly fitted, regardless of whether or not they've met before? Sometimes entire wardrobes are provided that all fit as if custom-made, when they've never met before!
Also, note that there is no mention of them having really spoken or anything-they just danced together and she was prettier than all the other girls, so he says he'll die without her. Because falling in love with someone you don't know based purely on appearance is the right way to go!
Once again, Cap o' Rushes slipped off before the dance was over, and the other maids and servants found her sleeping in her corner when they came back home. 'O, Cap o' Rushes,' they said, 'You've missed the beautiful lady forever, for now there are no more dances.'
Cap o' Rushes said nothing, but turned over and went back to sleep.
The master's son tried to find the beautiful lady. But nobody knew anything about her, and no one had ever seen her, except at the dances. Soon the master's on was ill with love and longing for his beautiful lady, and nobody knew how to help him or make him better.
"Doctor, do you know what is wrong with my boy?" "I'm afraid so...going by these symptoms-the starry, longing gaze, the lack of appetite, that horrible rash-" "You don't mean-?!" "Yep. Your son is infected with Love."
One morning the cook was making gruel for the master's son. 'What are you doing?' asked Cap o' Rushes. 'Making gruel for the master' son,' said the cook. 'Maybe eating it will make him feel better.'
'Let me do it,' said Cap o' Rushes. ' I know how to make good gruel.'
There's a such thing as good gruel?
'Very well, ' said the cook, and went off to do her work. Cap o' Rushes made the gruel, and poured it into a bowl. She dropped the ring the master's son had given her into the bowl of gruel, and gave it to the cook to take upstairs.
So that's where all those guys who drop the ring into the drink got the idea! Figures a girl came up with it first.
The master' son finished the gruel, and saw the ring lying at the bottom of the bowl. He recognized the ring as the one he had give his beautiful lady. 'Who made this gruel?' he asked the cook. 'Cap o' Rushes did, ' said the cook. 'Send her to me,' commanded the master's son.
Cap o' Rushes went into the master's son's room, still dressed in her hood and cloak of rushes. 'Where did you get this ring?' asked the master's son, not recognizing his beautiful lady under the hood and cloak of rushes.
He's so in love with her that he's been ill from sheer longing and he can't recognize her? That cloak has to have a mask of some kind.
'From him that gave it me,' answered Cap o' Rushes, throwing off her hood and cloak and standing there in her fine clothes.
Fine clothes that smelt entirely rank from being constantly worn and not washed once for several weeks.
The master's son was overjoyed to find his beautiful lady. But Cap o' Rushes still did not tell him her real name or who she was.
That must have been awkward.
Soon a wedding was arranged between the master's on and Cap o' Rushes. People from all over were invited to the wedding feast, including Cap o' Rushes own father. Before the feast, Cap o' Rushes went into the kitchen and told the cook to put no salt in any of the dishes she prepared for the feast.
'But that will make the food taste horrible,' protested the cook.
'Never mind,' said Cap o' Rushes. 'Just do as I say.'
"I don't care if the food tastes like old shoe leather covered in mud and goat feces, you'll serve it anyway! No I don't care about what it'll do to your reputation! I HAVE A PLAN!"
The guests arrived for the wedding feast, including Cap o' Rushes' father. The guests sat down to eat, but could not swallow a single bite - the saltless food tasted so terrible!
Suddenly, Cap o' Rushes' father burst out crying. 'What is the matter?' asked the others.
You mean it isn't normal to burst into tears at dinner? Huh. That etiquette book lied to me.
'I once had a daughter who said she loved me as much as food loved salt,' he wept. 'I didn't understand what she meant, and threw her out of the house. Now, eating this food without salt, I realize she loved me very much!'
"It's taken the bland taste of this donkey shite to make me realize that maybe I shouldn't have been a total jerkass to my children and tested their love for me constantly!"
Then Cap o' Rushes stood up and put her arms around her father. 'Here I am, Father,' she said. 'Your very own daughter!'Her father was overjoyed to see her safe and sound.
"Oh my gosh, I totally didn't notice it was you walking down the aisle the whole time I was here at the wedding! Even though I've known you your whole life and should have been able to recognize my own child!"
Cap o' Rushes and the master's son lived happily ever after, and so did her father and her sisters.
So, we never learn her real name, then?
This one's interesting in that the father and sisters live happily at the end, and are evidently forgiven. Usually the guilty party gets some form of comeuppance or punishment, or at least are banished from the life of whoever it is they wronged, but here they are forgiven and live just as happily as everyone else. Granted, it was only one stupid mistake on the part of the father, and the sisters never really did anything, so I suppose it makes sense. Though people have gotten the axe for next to nothing in faerie tales before...so I guess it's just a case-by-case basis, really. Something that-dare I say it-must be taken with a grain of salt?