Donkey Cabbages

Donkey CabbagesDonkey Cabbages

I’ve been wondering what donkey cabbages were for a while. I’ve seen the title of the story as I have flipped through the book and it intrigued me. Well, I have finally found out what donkey cabbages are, and you’ll know too.

Once upon a time there was a huntsman who was goodly in heart. He went into the forest to hunt. There he met an ugly old crone who begged for alms. The huntsman reached into his pocket and gave her what he could. She thanked him, but also gave him a promise. He would see a tree with nine birds sitting in it. The birds would be fighting over a cloak. The huntsman should shoot into the midst of the birds. One of the birds would die. The huntsman should take the cloak, but he should also cut out the heart of the dead bird and swallow it whole.

The cloak was a wishing cloak that would take him wherever he desired if he wished it. Eating the bird’s heart would put a piece of gold under his pillow every single morning. The huntsman walked a hundred paces and saw the nine birds in the tree. He shot into the midst of the birds and did as the woman commanded. The next morning, he saw that what she had promised came to pass. The huntsman collected quite a bit of gold, but decided it wasn’t doing him much good at home. So he left his mother and father’s house to go out into the world.

The huntsman went into a dense forest and at the end of the forest was a castle. There was an old woman and a maiden. The old woman told the young maiden that the huntsman had a bird’s heart that granted him a piece of gold every morning. It would be better if they had it and not he. The woman told the maiden that she must do as she was told. They invited the huntsman into their castle and were very nice to him all around.

The old woman prepared a special drink for the huntsman. This drink caused him to throw up the bird’s heart. The maiden was made to swallow the bird’s heart herself. The old woman next contrived to take away the wishing cloak as well, but the maiden didn’t want to take away the huntsman’s cloak. She wanted him to keep it. The huntsman soon discovered that the bird’s heart had been taken from him, but he loved the maiden so much that he did not care.

The maiden was threatened by the old woman. If she did not go along with the plan, it would be very bad for her. The witch even beat her a bit to drive the point home. The maiden sat in a window one day looking longingly in the distance. The huntsman asked her what she was pondering. She told him there was a place called Garnet Mountain full of precious stones. No man could get there, only birds. The man used his cloak to wish himself and the maiden there. The witch had conjured up a spell to make his eyes heavy and he soon fell asleep. The maiden gathered her precious stones and wished herself home with the cloak. The huntsman was now alone.

The man realized he was alone and was kind of sad, but he was also hungry. He found a garden of cabbages. They didn’t look very appetizing, but the man knew they would satisfy his hunger. He ate of one cabbage and soon felt funny. He realized that he had been turned into an ass, but this was only disconcerting for a bit because his donkey form was so hungry he continued eating, but he ate a different cabbage. The other cabbage turned him back into a man. The huntsman took some of each type of cabbage and determined to get revenge.

He made his way back to the castle after dying his face brown so that no one would recognize him.  He went to the castle of his supposed beloved and offered a wonderful salad to those there. The witch and her maidservant were excited about this salad. He offered the bad cabbage to the witch. She was so excited about this great salad that she prepared it herself. She was anxious to take a couple of bites and when she did, she was turned into a donkey. The maidservant also took a couple of bites and also turned into a donkey.

The huntsman, in his disguise, took some of the salad to the maiden. She also ate it and was also turned into a donkey. The huntsman gathered up the three donkeys and took them to a mill where he told the owner that the donkeys were willful, but could work. The miller asked how to keep the donkeys in line. The huntsman told him to beat the old donkey three times a day and feed it only once. He was to beat the second donkey once a day and feed it three times a day. The third donkey was to be beaten none at all and fed three times a day. That particular donkey was the maiden. The huntsman could not bear to have her harmed even though she had betrayed him.

The huntsman went back to their castle and lived a while. The miller soon communicated with the huntsman that the old donkey had died and the other two weren’t doing so well, he probably wanted a refund. The huntsman felt sorry for the two women and fed them some of the good cabbage. They were turned back into their true forms.

The maiden told the huntsman that he could have his cloak back and that she had been forced to do these terrible things by her mother, the witch. The huntsman saw it in his heart to forgive her and they were married.

The End

Donkey CabbagesObservations

When I read this story I was reminded of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Remember how one side of the mushroom makes her grow taller and the other side makes her grow shorter? That reminded me of the different cabbages in this story. I wonder if Lewis was influenced by this story at all when he wrote his book?

Pinocchio was also turned into a donkey for a while. I forget the exact reason why. I have never read Pinocchio I have only seen the Disney movie, well, both the Disney movies. There is an animated version and live-action version with Jonathon Taylor Thomas. Hooray for the 90s!

Being turned into a donkey is kind of funny because when you do something foolish people will say that you made an ass of yourself. If you get turned into a donkey for your own actions, you literally made an ass of yourself and it was all your fault.

I like cabbage okay, but I’m not a huge fan. I don’t like sauerkraut and cabbage soup is disgusting. I like coleslaw though. I do tend to agree with this huntsman. He pretty much said he knew that the cabbage would help with his hunger but it wasn’t going to taste very good.

donkey cabbagesThemes

Quit making an ass of yourself!

While it is true that the maiden was coerced into deceiving the huntsman, he was also stupid enough to walk into her trap. Why is there a castle in the middle of the forest? Why are the people who live there so nice to you? They couldn’t possibly have any ulterior motives could they? No, that would never happen. This beautiful girl would never try to deceive you. Um..hmmm

Beauty is a tool in many aspects. If you’ve got the right look, you can talk people into all sorts of things, especially men. There have been so many times when I’ve been looking at a situation from the outside and I’ve seen a man do and say crazy things because a beautiful woman is involved. The woman is using this man for whatever reason, but he can’t see it. She’s so beautiful and her beauty must equate to goodness, so she couldn’t possibly be this terrible woman taking advantage of him and drinking the blood of puppies every single morning. It happens, well, maybe not the puppy blood thing.

This man made an ass of himself. A beautiful woman took advantage of him, flat-out, took advantage of him. She’s so pretty; she’s so good. This woman used this huntsman. He made an ass of himself, so he was turned into an ass. It makes sense to me.

I have to hand it to this guy though. He was taken advantage of. He was made an ass literally and figuratively. He got his revenge, but he was still good enough to be merciful and forgiving. I think if I was this maiden, I would consider this guy a keeper. She was terrible to him, not really of her own choice, but she was still terrible to him and he was good enough to forgive her. I hope they ended up really happy together.


There are many breeds of cabbages so I do wonder if there is one somewhere called donkey cabbage.

About The Author


There's way too much to write in this tiny space, but let's be short about this. Ashe is the creator, maintainer, and writer of One-Elevenbooks and has been since 2011. She likes to make artwork and write novels. She also likes the outside, in general. Ashe has a BA in Fine Arts and a BS in Information Technology.

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