Cap O’ Rushes

cap o' rushesThe beginning of this folktale has been likened to that of Shakespeare’s King Lear. A rich man asks his daughters how much they love him. One answers in a way that he doesn’t understand, making him think she doesn’t love him. He throws her out of the house, which leads to some “Cinderella-like” adventures. There is no magic fairy godmother in this story, but the girl still manages to turn her bad luck into a “happily ever after” type of ending.

Elementary Vocabulary Help

The words and expressions in our Elementary level Simplified English story which are not in our 800 word list are: , , , , , , , , , , , , and .

General Comments on the Story

english fairy talesOur source for the story was a children’s book called English Fairy Stories by Australian folktale collector Joseph Jacobs, first published in 1890. The book can be downloaded in various e-book forms from Project Gutenberg here. An audiobook is available from Librivox here. Jacobs’ source was a folktale of the same name which appeared in the “Suffolk Notes and Queries” section of the Ipswich Journal in 1877. It was contributed by Victorian poet Anna Walter-Thomas (née Fison), who had heard it from her nurse as a child.

There are many ways of classifying folktales. If we look at Cap O’ Rushes’ main story elements we see a woman who is treated badly by her family; a life of hard, boring work; beautiful dresses; dancing at balls; a handsome prince; and an item she uses to help the prince to find her. These are the elements of what are commonly called “Cinderella Tales”. There are hundreds of stories like this around the world, including two others featured on our website: Tam and Cam and Donkey Skin.

Another folktale class that Cap O’ Rushes falls into is that of “Unnatural Love”. It is generally accepted that the father’s demand to hear how much his daughters love him is an indication of incestuous thoughts. Jacobs’ story is almost identical to the one which first appeared in the Ipswich Journal. The fact that the aspect of incest was not spelt out more clearly probably has to do with the fact that the person who contributed the story (Mrs Walter-Thomas) had led a sheltered life and was married to a church minister. The story Donkey Skin referred to above is also included in this category of folktales.


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(n: cape pl capes) 1. A piece of clothing that does not have sleeves and that fits closely at the neck and hangs over the shoulders, arms, and back. Superman has a red cape. 2. A large area of land that sticks out into a sea, bay, etc; a large headland. The ship rounded the Cape of Good Hope. 6000

cape headland

dead(adj: dead) No longer alive or living; no longer having life. Her husband is dead. He died last year.
(adj: deadly, deadlier, deadliest) 1. Causing or able to cause death. Deadly weapons. A deadly poison. 2. Very great or effective. He was deadly serious. She shoots with deadly accuracy. 1000

else(adv, adj: else) Besides; other than that already mentioned; used to refer to a different or additional person or thing. What else can I do? He took someone else's pencil.
(adv: elsewhere) In, or to, another place; somewhere or anywhere else. You must look elsewhere if you want a better job. 1000

master(n: master pl masters) 1. A person who has become very skilled at doing something. 2. Someone who has control or power over others. 3. A polite title for a boy. 2000

pan(n: pan pl pans) A shallow container that has a long handle and is used for cooking or baking. He broke the eggs into the frying pan. 3000

porridge(n: porridge, noncount) A soft food made by boiling rolled oats in water or milk. 6000

pretend(v: pretend, pretends, pretended, pretending) 1. To imagine and act out a particular role, situation, etc.. The children were pretending to be lions. 2. To try to make it look like something is true, in order to trick or deceive. He pretended that he had a headache. 2000

rushes(n: rush pl rushes) A tall plant similar to grass that grows in wet areas and is used to make baskets and other things when dried. 2000

salt(n: salt, noncount) A natural white substance that is commonly used to flavor or preserve food; sodium chloride. The soup needs more salt.
(adj: salty, saltier, saltiest) Containing salt or having too much salt. A salty lake; salty food. 2000

servant(n: servant pl servants) Someone who is hired to do household or personal duties [such as cleaning and cooking]. (คนรับใช้) 1000

sweet(adj: sweet, sweeter, sweetest) 1. Containing a lot of sugar; not sour, salty or bitter. Children eat too many sweet foods. 2. Having a very pleasant smell, sound, or appearance. 3. Very gentle, kind, or friendly. She's a sweet girl. The child has a sweet nature. 2000

trouble(n: trouble pl troubles) A situation that is difficult or has a lot of problems; [something which causes] worry, difficulty, extra effort or work, etc. When the new CEO arrived, the company was in big trouble. (ปัญหา)
(v: trouble, troubles, troubled, troubling) 1. To make (someone) feel worried or upset; to disturb or bother (someone). She was troubled by the news of her sister's illness. (ทำให้ไม่สบายใจ) 2. To make an effort to do something. He didn't even trouble to call. (พยายาม) 1000

wedding(n: wedding pl weddings) The act of getting married; marrying. (การแต่งงาน) 2000

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