Once there was a brave young warrior named Little Big Love, and his heart beat for the beautiful Maiden that gathered berries near the river.
Convinced he must have her as his wife he approached her.
“Good Morning beautiful Maiden. I am Little Big Love! And I have chosen you to be my wife.” The warrior smiled confidently.
The Maiden scoffed. “That’s presumptuous. Why would I marry you?”
“Because I am the brave warrior Little Big Love! That is why.”
“A warrior you are, but a lover? Can you be my heart’s desire?”
“Of course! I am Little Big Love.”
“Ha! You’ll need more than a fetching name to have my heart.” The Maiden snatched her basket of berries and disappeared into the tall grass.
Little Big Love was dismayed. He kicked a heavy boulder causing it to tumble into the river. Unsatisfied he pitched every stone he could find into the water, so many that the river, much to its chagrin, was forced to change its course.
His effort continued until his exhaustion overcame his frustration and he collapsed on the riverbank out of breath.
Between gasps, Little Big Love heard a rustle in the grass and spotted the face of a fox peering at him.
“I’ve been watching you.” The Fox said. “I couldn’t help but notice your sorry state. What troubles you?”
The Fox stepped out of the grass.
“The beautiful Maiden would not take my hand in marriage. Me! Little Big Love!”
“Shocking, isn’t it?” The Fox goaded.
“I don’t understand. Why does the Maiden refuse me?”
The Fox stretched its front legs then its hind. It lowered its body to ground and licked its paw. “A woman’s heart is a mystery.”
“I will not give up. I will do whatever it takes to win her heart?”
“And what does her heart desire?” The Fox wondered aloud.
Little Big Love looked to the sky as an eagle passed. “I know! I bet the Maiden desires passion. And nothing is more passionate than the eagle. I will become an eagle, and she will give me her heart.”
The next day Little Big Love soared through the sky. He climbed to heights of the blue expanse, then banked low to the ground and swooped around the Maiden.
“Fair Maiden, it is I, Little Big Love! And I am passionate, just as you desire. Will you give me your heart and marry me?”
“I can see you are very passionate.” Said the Maiden. “But you have made yourself an eagle. I cannot give you my heart. An eagle lives in the sky. I live on the ground. I will not marry you.
Little Big Love flew away dejected and returned to the riverbank where he found the Fox quenching its thirst.
“I was mistaken." Little Big Love sulked. "It is not passion the Maiden seeks.”
The Fox lifted its head from the river. “No? Hmm... A woman’s heart is a mystery. I wonder, what else could her heart desire?” The Fox took another drink from the river.
Little Big Love looked down and saw the paw print of a bear. “I bet it is strength she desires. Yes! That’s it. I will become a bear. She will see my strength and give me her heart.”
The next day Little Big Love found the Maiden gathering wood. He roared as he barreled past her. He toppled trees with the swipe of his paw and removed stumps with the pull of his jaw.
“Beautiful Maiden. It is I, Little Big Love. I am strength, just as you desire. Will you give me your heart and marry me?”
The Maiden jeered. “Your strength is impressive, but you are a bear. I cannot have a husband as large as you. You will not fit in our home, and your teeth will scare the children. No, I cannot give you my heart. I will not marry you.”
Little Big Love crawled back to the riverbank where he found the Fox lying on its back soaking in the warmth of the sun.
“What a fool am I?! It is not strength the Maiden desires.”
The Fox rolled onto its stomach. “No? Hmm...A woman’s heart is a mystery.”
“If she does not want passion and is not impressed by strength, what could she possibly want? Little Big Love pondered.
The Fox rolled onto its back, licked its lips, and let the sun warm its belly. “I’ve heard a woman loves a man who can fill her belly with laughter.”
“That’s it! Oh, Fox, you are so smart. Delight is her desire. And there is nothing more delightful than a peacock. I will become a peacock, and she will give me her heart.
The next day Little Big Love found the Maiden dancing near a wheat field.
“Beautiful Maiden. It is I, Little Big Love, and I have become a peacock so that I might delight you, just as you desire.”
Little Big Love fanned his colorful tail feathers and danced a circle around the maiden. He strutted and trotted with all his heart and soul.
The Maiden was delighted and laughed with great amusement.
Little Big Love was encouraged. “Dear Maiden, I have filled your belly with laughter, now will you give me your heart?”
The Maiden’s laughter subsided. “You have delighted me, but I cannot give you my heart. You have made yourself peacock. A peacock cannot keep me warm during winter snows or keep me safe from the predator that haunts the woods.”
Little Big Love was incensed. “I offer you passion. I offer you strength. I offer you delight. But you tell me that is not what you want.” Little Big Love pleaded, “What does your heart desire?”
The Maiden thought for a moment.
“I desire the Sun to warm me.
The Mountain to call me;
The River to restore me;
And the Wind to move me.
I desire the Earth, my foundation;
The Fire, my mystery;
The Tree, my cover;
The Stars, my guiding light.
I desire the Winter that blankets me;
The Spring that renews me;
The Summer that nurtures me;
The Autumn that transforms me.
I desire –"
Little Big Love interrupted. “Stop. You speak nonsense. The sun, the earth, the winter? No man can be all these things!”
The Maiden shrugged her shoulders. “It is what my heart desires.”
Little Big Love departed. His heart cried and cried and cried. For his one desire was to be the desire of the Maiden’s heart.
Little Big Love returned to his life as a warrior, though he never fought as bravely as he once had.
The Maiden picked berries, gathered wood, and danced near the wheat field. And each day she would peek over her shoulder, to the horizon, to see if the young warrior was coming. But she did not find him.
With each day the Maiden’s heart desired the warrior more and more, for even though the warrior could not be her heart’s desire, her heart loved him for trying.
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A WRITER AND TRAVELER KEEPING THE FAITH IN LOS ANGELES