Wanjiru The Maiden - African
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The sun blazed upon the earth; there was no rain.
The crops died
and hunger was manifest among the people.
This happened one year, again
the next, and then for a third year.
So the people gathered at the praying
place and asked of each other the reason for their plight; then the question
was posed to the Medicine-Man.
He spilled his gourd of its contents, upon
the ground again and again. Then he declared that the rains would come
only when the maiden Wanjiru was bought. He told them that each, from the
youngest lad to the oldest man, must bring, on the appointed day, a goat
to purchase Wanjiru from her family.
The day arrived, and all the people
were present, with each man leading a goat. The people gathered in a circle,
and the relations of Wanjiru stood together, and she herself stood in the
middle. As they stood there Wanjiru began to sink into the ground.
she was in to her knees. She cried, "I am lost!" The people pressed close
and placed goats in the keeping of Wanjiru's parents. She sank lower to
her waist. Again she cried out, "I am lost but much rain will fall!" More
goats were thrust upon her family. She sank to her breast, and still no
rain came. Wanjiru cried out another time, "A great rain will come!" Now
she sank to her neck, and then the rain poured down. The people shoud have
come forward to save her, but instead they placed more goats upon the family.
Then Wanjiru said, "My people have undone me", and she sank down to her
eyes. As one or another of her family moved toward her to save her, another
of the people would present him or her with a goat and that family member
would step back.
Wanjiru cried out for the last time, "My own family has
undone me!" Then she sank from sight. The rain poured down in a great deluge
and the people hurried for shelter in their homes. There was a young warrior
who lamented the loss of Wanjiru. He swore to find her and bring her back.
He wandered for a long time, and eventually returned to the spot where
Wanjiru had disappeared.
Here as he stood where she had stood, he slowly
began to sink into the ground; and he sank lower and lower until the ground
closed over him.
He found himself on a road beneath the ground, and as
he trod down the road he came upon Wanjiru, all muddy and disheveled, and
without her clothing which had disintegrated. He picked her up and carried
her upon his back to where they had sunk beneath the ground.
rose up together into the open air. He took her to his mother's house where
she was fed the fat from slaughtered goats and clothed with their skins,
until she, again, was beautiful and well-dressed.
It came to pass that
the village was having a dance, and she and her warrior attended.
her family saw her they attempted to approach her, but her lover beat them
When her family made repeated attempts to see her over the course
of the next few days, the warrior repented.
He paid the family the purchase
price and allowed them to reconcile.