Once upon a time, a rich man had three daughters. They lived in a large manor house surrounded by pretty fields with ponies and sheep. He also owned several other houses, at home and abroad, as well as factories and farms, and even published a newspaper with all the fashionable and up-to-date opinions.

One evening, he gathered together his family including his daughters. Eventually, he tapped a glass with a silver spoon and called everyone to attention.

“As you know,”
he said.

“I am no longer young, and looking after my fortune is becoming a burden. The time has come to divvy up my riches among my three lovely girls. But first, I wish each of you girls to tell me how much you love me. Whichever of you who loves me most shall receive the largest share. That is only as it should be.”
The eldest daughter stood up, came over to her father, and kissed him on the cheek.


she said, 

“I love you more than words can say. More than eyesight, movement or freedom. More than life, beauty, health or honour. I love you as much as any child ever loved a father.”

The old man blushed to hear such fine words. 

“Well done,” 

he said, 

“Can anyone put it better than that? Who's next?”

The second eldest daughter stood up and kissed her father on the forehead. She took his hand in hers and told him:

“Dearest, darling daddy, I love you just as much as my sister, only more so. She is stingy with her affection when she says that she loves you AS much as any child ever loved a parent. Because I love you a whole lot MORE than any child ever loved a father in the whole of history.”

 “Well that’s so nice to hear,” 

said the father, beaming with pride. And then he looked at his youngest and favourite daughter, the joy of his life, whose name was Cordelia. Cordelia did not come over to kiss her father as her sisters had. In fact, she thought the whole scene was rather silly and undignified, and she suspected that her two elder sisters were much more moved by money than by love. But she had made ready with what she thought was a good line. She said:

“Father, I want you to know that I love you as meat loves salt.” 
“What did you say, my dear?” 
“I love you as meat loves salt?” 
“Is that all you have to say?” 
“Yes, father.” 
“Oh,that is a pity, you shall be the poorer for it.” 
And not only did she not receive any money from her father, but for the next few weeks he sulked whenever he saw her and refused to speak to her. And her sisters took every opportunity to taunt her saying,

“Daddy’s right, you don’t deserve any money because you don’t love him.We love him, as is only right and proper, and that’s why our husbands will always love us and we shall live happily ever after in luxury and comfort, while you baby sister will never marry, and live miserably ever after.” 

It all became too much for Cordelia, and she decided to leave home and make her own way in the world. She prepared for her escape by weaving herself a dress and a cap out of the long rushes that grew by the river.
She pulled these clothes over her fine dress, and to look at her you would think she had been born into poverty.

Then one moonlit night, when everyone else was asleep, she set off on her own. She walked straight to the next village where a man lived who was even richer than her father, and whose house was even bigger, and who owned even more factories, and published not one, but two fashionable newspapers. There she begged for a job scrubbing the dishes, and because she refused to tell them her name, they called her "Cap-o'-Rushes."

It so happened that the wealthy owner of the house had a son who was both handsome and charming. When the early summer came round, the family held a ball in the great hall. 

The servants were allowed to stand on the balcony to watch all the wealthy folk dancing and having fun. They were particularly fascinated to see which lucky girl would be dancing with the young man of the house. But Cap-o-Rushes said she felt too tired to watch the ball and preferred to stay in her room. What fun she missed!

The young man of the house was captivated by a mysterious beauty. He danced with her all night, but when the clock struck midnight, she left without giving him her name.

Cap-o-Rushes was again too tired to watch the dance. In the morning the servants gave her all the gossip. The young man had begged the mystery girl to give him her name, but she had teasingly refused. The boy had liked the mystery girl for her dance and beauty.

The next evening was not too different, only this time the boy managed to give the girl a diamond ring for her pretty finger. The servants were overcome with excitement. 
“He’s giving gifts but he doesn’t even know her name. 
(but this is not quite the end of the story...in summary, the boy discovered the mystery girl was Cordelia and they became best of friends.)

They invited the girl’s father and her sisters to a feast, but did not say who it was about. Cordelia ordered that the food be prepared without any salt. This left all the dishes without flavour, and when her father tasted the meat, he burst into tears because he finally realised what his daughter had meant when she told him that she loved him as meat loves salt. At this point, he thought his daughter had run away forever, or might even be dead!

But she soon revealed herself to him, and father and daughter were reunited, and all was forgiven.

Fortunately the cooks had prepared another feast with salt and seasoning, and so everyone enjoyed their food and the celebration!

And that was called ‘Cap-o-Rushes’. I hope you take the story with more than just a pinch of salt! So is salt good or bad for you? There are all sorts of views on that. Salt is actually necessary in our diet. And in the past, before we had refrigerators, it was used to make food last longer. And it does make things more tasty. But, these days it’s added to all sorts of processed foods, like crisps, of course, and often on nuts. It’s in cheese, in bread, and in ready-meals. Salt is everywhere. Too much salt is bad for your heart, especially as you get older. So that’s why you hear that salt is bad for you - because we have far too much of it!

Written by Bertie, shared with express permission of storynory.com. Image illustration by DALL-E-2 AI.