Corn Plume and Bean Maiden
by Mabel Powers
The Great Spirit had smiled upon his Red Children. The land was filled
with plenty, for the Great Spirit had given to them the three sustainers
of life, the corn, the bean, and the squash. Flowers bloomed, birds
sang, and all the earth was glad with the Red Children, for the gifts of
the Great Spirit.
On one side of a hill grew the tall, waving corn, with its silk tassels
and plumes. On another side, beans, with their velvety pods, climbed
toward the sky. Some distance down a third slope, beautiful yellow
squashes turned their faces to the sun.
One day, the Spirit of the corn grew restless. There came a rustling
through the waving leaves, and a great sigh burst from the heart of the
tall stalks. The Spirit of the corn was lonely.
After that, every morning at sunrise, a handsome young chief was seen to
come and stand on the brow of the hill. On his head were shining red
plumes. Tall, and strong, and splendid he stood, wrapped in the folds of
his waving blanket, whose fringed tassels danced to the summer breeze.
"Che che hen! Che che hen! Some one I would marry! Some one I would
marry!" the young chieftain would sing, many, many times.
One day, his voice reached the Squash Maiden, on the other side of the
hill. The Squash Maiden drew about her a rich green blanket, into which
she had woven many flaunting gold trumpet-shaped flowers. Then she ran
swiftly to the young chieftain.
"Marry me! Marry me!" said the Squash Maiden, as she spread her
beautiful gold and green blanket at his feet.
Corn Plume looked down at the Squash Maiden sitting on her blanket at
his feet. She was good to look upon, and yet Corn Plume was not content.
He wanted a maiden who would stand by his side, not always sit at his
Then Corn Plume spoke thus to the Squash Maiden.
"Corn Plume cannot marry Squash Maiden. She is very beautiful, but she
will not make song in Corn Plume's heart. Squash Maiden will grow tired
of his lodge. She will not stay in his wigwam. She likes to go a long
trail, and wander far from the lodge.
"Corn Plume cannot make Squash Maiden his wife, for he is not content
with her. But she shall be Corn Plume's sister, and sit in his lodge
whenever she will. The maiden Corn Plume weds must be ever at his side.
She must go where he goes, stay where he stays."
Next morning at sunrise, the voice of Corn Plume was again heard,
singing from the hilltop, "Che che hen! Che che hen! Some one I would
marry! Some one I would marry! Che che hen! Che che hen!"
This time his song reached the ears of the Bean Maiden. Her heart sang,
when she heard the voice of Corn Plume, for she knew that he was calling
her. So light of heart was Bean Maiden, that she ran like a deer up the
hillside. On and on, up and over the brow of the hill she climbed, till
she reached the young chieftain's side.
Then Corn Plume turned and beheld the most beautiful maiden he had ever
seen. Her eyes were deep and dark, like mountain pools. Her breath was
sweet as the waters of the maple. She threw off her blanket of green,
and purple, and white, and stretched her twining arms to him.
Corn Plume desired to keep Bean Maiden forever close to him. He bent his
tall plumed head to her. Her arms wound round and round the young
chieftain, and Corn Plume was content.
So closely were the arms of Corn Plume and the Bean Maiden entwined, so
truly were they wed, that the Indians never attempted to separate them.
Ever after, corn and beans were planted in the same hill, and often a
squash seed was added.
Since the Great Spirit had placed the corn, the bean, and the squash
together on a hill, the Indian said they should continue to live and
grow and occupy a hill together.
The door of Corn Plume's lodge was ever open to the Squash Maiden, if
she chose to enter. But seldom did she stay in his wigwam. More often,
she was found running off on a long trail.
But Bean Maiden remained true to Corn Plume. Always she was found by his
side. Never did she leave the lodge unless he went with her. Corn
Plume's lodge was her lodge, and her trail was his trail.
And because the Spirits of the corn and the bean are as one, the Indians
not only plant and grow them together, but cook and eat them together.
"In life, they were one," they say, "We will not separate them in
And now, when a great rustling and sighing of the corn is heard in the
White man's land, the Indians often say, "'Tis the Spirit of Corn Plume,
crying for his lost Bean Maiden!"