The Eight Cow Wife

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share the unique love story of The Eight Cow Wife.

It is tradition, on an island in the Pacific, that when a bachelor would like to take a woman’s hand in marriage, he exchanges cows with her father. The more cows a woman is offered the better.

On this island, it is also well known that Johnny Lingo is an expert trader. He is able to see the true value in things, and because of this he is quite wealthy and desirable. But when Johnny is ready to pick out a bride, he picks a girl named Mahana.

Except Mahana was a woman who didn’t have much to offer. She was not young. She was not beautiful. She barely spoke to anyone, even her own father. And because of this, the whole village mocked her constantly.

Mahana’s father had long given up hope of anyone ever asking to take his daughter’s hand in marriage. In his eyes, she was worthless. He simply wanted to be rid of her. And he was jealous of the fact that his friend’s daughters were worth as much as four cows. He would’ve been lucky if he could’ve gotten one cow for Mahana!

On the day of the bargaining, the whole town gathered to see how embarrassing of a deal would be agreed upon for Mahana, while she hid in a tree.

The villagers know that the most her father could ask for is one cow, and they thought that she wasn’t even worth that.

Johnny and Mahana’s father sit down together. Johnny tells him that he would like to marry Mahana and he asks how much her father wants for her. Her father asks to console his advisor, and after decides to be risky by asking for three.

The village people think this is a joke and they all laugh at him.

Mahana for three cows? As if!

Johnny agrees that three cows are a lot. But he is willing to give eight cows for Mahana. Her father agrees to this deal but is clearly in shock. Johnny tells her father that he will be back tomorrow with the cows.

The next morning, Mahana refuses to come out of the house because she believes Johnny is mocking her. She knows he won’t actually show. She knows she isn’t worth much, let alone eight cows.

But Johnny does come. And with all eight cows, just like he promised.

She reluctantly gives him her hand, and he takes her with him. That night, at their wedding festival, kids make fun of Mahana and Johnny.

Everyone truly believes that Johnny paid too much for her and that he is going to be unhappy for the rest of his life. Mahana starts to cry, but Johnny comforts her.

Before they leave for the honeymoon, Johnny visits a supply store on the island and asks to trade a rare shell for a beautiful golden mirror. The store owner is reluctant, but orders one from the States for Johnny. The mirror is to be picked up after the honeymoon.

So Johnny and Mahana leave on their honeymoon and travel to many islands. They are gone for a long time. When they finally arrive back to the island, the store owner decides to pay Johnny a visit and deliver his mirror.

To his surprise, he is greeted by the most beautiful woman he has ever seen! Surely this woman cannot be the homely Mahana.

And yet it is.

The store owner is puzzled but gives Johnny the mirror for Mahana.

Once Mahana leaves, Johnny explains to the store owner that the number of cows a woman receives weighs very heavily on her. All the women boast of how many cows their husbands paid for them. He knows how awful it makes women feel to only be worth one or two cows.

Johnny tells the store owner that he has loved Mahana ever since they were little. She was always beautiful. But what mattered the most was what Mahana thought of herself.

You see, Johnny didn’t want a wife that was just worth one, or two, or four cows. He wanted an eight cow wife.

No one else on the island had ever been offered eight cows. And because of this, Mahana was able to love herself and see the value Johnny knew she had.

That is what makes her so beautiful now.

Whether you’re in a relationship or single this Valentine’s Day, whether you always buy into the holiday or absolutely can’t stand it, see the true value in yourself. And see the true value in others.

We need more of this kind of love in the world.

Be the one who spreads it.

“Let all that you do be done in love.”  1 Corinthians 16:14.








2 thoughts on “The Eight Cow Wife

  1. Love, love, LOVE THIS!


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