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Main > English folktales > Fairy tale "Caporushes"

Caporushes

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And the fen birds sate and listened and sang back to her:

"Cap o' rushes, shed no tear,

Robe o' rushes, have no fear;

With these words if fault he'd find,

Sure your father must be blind."

When her task was finished she put on her robe of rushes and it hid all her fine clothes, and she put on the cap and it hid all her beautiful hair, so that she looked quite a common country girl. But the fen birds flew away, singing as they flew:

"Cap-o-rushes! we can see,

Robe o' rushes! what you be,

Fair and clean, and fine and tidy,

So you'll be whate'er betide ye."

By this time she was very, very hungry, so she wandered on, and she wandered on; but ne'er a cottage or a hamlet did she see, till just at sun-setting she came on a great house on the edge of the fen. It had a fine front door to it; but mindful of her dress of rushes she went round to the back. And there she saw a strapping fat scullion washing pots and pans with a very sulky face. So, being a clever girl, she guessed what the maid was wanting, and said:

"If I may have a night's lodging, I will scrub the pots and pans for you."

"Why! Here's luck," replied the scullery-maid, ever so pleased. "I was just wanting badly to go a-walking with my sweetheart. So if you will do my work you shall share my bed and have a bite of my supper. Only mind you scrub the pots clean or cook will be at me."

Now next morning the pots were scraped so clean that they looked like new, and the saucepans were polished like silver, and the cook said to the scullion, "Who cleaned these pots? Not you, I'll swear." So the maid had to up and out with the truth. Then the cook would have turned away the old maid and put on the new, but the latter would not hear of it.

"The maid was kind to me and gave me a night's lodging," she said. "So now I will stay without wage and do the dirty work for her."

So Caporushes—for so they called her since she would give no other name—stayed on and cleaned the pots and scraped the saucepans.

Now it so happened that her master's son came of age, and to celebrate the occasion a ball was given to the neighbourhood, for the young man was a grand dancer, and loved nothing so well as a country measure.

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