The Greedy Maiden

Corn Woman

Spacer Once long ago there was a Lenape maiden upon whom Kishelamakank, the Creator, wished to give a blessing of faith and understanding...

Spacer The Creator led the maiden to the edge of a large corn field which was so large that as far as one could see, the valley was covered with blossoming corn, and all the cornstalks were gently swaying to the singing of the wind.
Spacer Indeed it was a lovely and wonderful sight for her to see. And while she was standing there, a Spirit voice spoke to her , saying:
Spacer "Young maiden, you are now becoming a woman and in the field before you are many good ears of corn. Listen well to my advice. Those who pick good ears of corn are those who pluck them with faith, and with an honest heart. In doing this they shall enjoy the blessings of the medicine and Spirit of the corn, and that blessing shall be only as great as the size and beauty of the ear of corn that was chosen. Young maiden, you shall pass through the field but once, and pluck for yourself one ear of corn, and you must take it as you are walking forward. Be alert. Be cautious. Be very careful. Pick an ear of corn that is full and fair, and according to its size and beauty so shall its value to you as good medicine be for the rest of your life."
Spacer The young maiden offered her thanks to the Spirit voice, and then set forth on her quest. As she walked along, she saw many ears of corn, large, beautiful, ripe and good.
Spacer Careful judgement should have shown her that any one of them would possess a virtue that was good enough, but greed and selfish desire came forth in her eagerness to grasp the best. So she left unblemished ears of corn behind, hoping and craving for one still better.
Spacer The daylight passed by very rapidly, soon the deepening shadows began to dim the dying day, and now she reached that part of the corn field where the corn stalks were shorter, and the ears of corn much smaller, and here the choice was much less and poorer.
Spacer Regretfully, she now remembered the many good and sound ears of corn that she had left behind. But her wounded pride would not let her pick from the poor corn that was now everywhere around her.
Spacer Here she saw not one ear of corn that bore perfect grain. So, the maiden went on seeking, hoping and searching. Alas, to her great sorrow and disappointment, she found the cornstalks grew ever more feeble, blighted and useless.
Spacer At long last , after suffering much despair, all of the surrounding field began to disappear in to the fast approaching darkness, and now she found herself at the edge of the corn field without having plucked even one ear of corn.
Spacer There was no need for the voice of the Spirit to rebuke her, everything became very clear to her now, but it was too late!
Spacer However, the young maiden did not flee like a whimpering coyote into the night. Instead,she gathered up her courage and returned to her village.
Spacer Upon arriving there she made a great campfire near her wigwam, and she gathered her best and dearest friends around the fire, and while the flames crackled and leaped forth towards the starlit sky, while a wolf howled in the forest, while the crescent moon hid behind a passing cloud, she told her friends all about her grievous adventure, and she warned them not to follow in her footsteps.
Spacer Then, very sadly, very regretfully, she bade her friends goodnight. Next morning her elm bark wigwam was empty. Her canoe was gone, and from that day onwards, no one has ever found where she went on that fateful night.
Spacer All she left behind was this story.
Spacer The end.

With permission: The Indian Page