Johnny Lingo’s 8 cow wife

Dear Friend,

Sometimes a valuable lesson can be taught best with a wonderful story of example.

I first read this story as  a youngster and have always remembered the messages it holds.  I hope you will find the insights it offers and use them in your own lives.

I look forward to reading  your comments.

Best Wishes,

Your Friend


My trip to the Kiniwata Island in the Pacific was a memorable one. Although the island was beautiful and I had an enjoyable time, the thing I remember most about my trip was the fact “Johnny Lingo gave eight cows for his wife.” I’m reminded of it every time I see a woman belittle her husband or a wife wither under her husband’s scorn. I want to say to them, “You should know why Johnny Lingo gave eight cows for his wife.”

Johnny Lingo is known throughout the islands for his skills, intelligence, and savvy. If you hire him as a guide, he will show you the best fishing spots and the best places to get pearls. Johnny is also one of the sharpest traders in the islands. He can get you the best possible deals. The people of Kiniwata all speak highly of Johnny Lingo. Yet, when they speak of him, they always smile just a little mockingly.

A couple days after my arrival to Kiniwata, I went to the manager of the guesthouse to see who he thought would be a good fishing guide. “Johnny Lingo,” said the manager. “He’s the best around. When you go shopping, let him do the bargaining. Johnny knows how to make a deal.”

“Johnny Lingo!” hooted a nearby boy. The boy rocked with laughter as he said, “Yea, Johnny can make a deal alright!”

“What’s going on?” I demanded.

“Everybody tells me to get in touch with Johnny Lingo and then they start laughing. Please, let me in on the joke.”

“Oh, the people like to laugh,” the manager said, shrugging. “Johnny’s the brightest and strongest young man in the islands. He’s also the richest for his age.”

“But …” I protested. “… if he’s all you say he is, why does everyone laugh at him behind his back?”

“Well, there is one thing. Five months ago, at fall festival, Johnny came to Kiniwata and found himself a wife. He gave her father eight cows!”

I knew enough about island customs to be impressed. A dowry of two or three cows would net a fair wife and four or five cows would net a very nice wife.

“Wow!” I said. “Eight cows! She must have beauty that takes your breath away.”

“She’s not ugly, …” he conceded with a little smile, “… but calling her ‘plain’ would definitely be a compliment. Sam Karoo, her father, was afraid he wouldn’t be able to marry her off. Instead of being stuck with her, he got eight cows for her. Isn’t that extraordinary? This price has never been paid before.”

“Yet, you called Johnny’s wife ‘plain?’ ”

“I said it would be a compliment to call her plain. She was skinny and she walked with her shoulders hunched and her head ducked. She was scared of her own shadow.”

“Well,” I said, “I guess there’s just no accounting for love.”

“True enough.” agreed the man. “That’s why the villagers grin when they talk about Johnny. They get special satisfaction from the fact the sharpest trader in the islands was bested by dull old Sam Karoo.”

“But how?”

“No one knows and everyone wonders. All of the cousins urged Sam to ask for three cows and hold out for two until he was sure Johnny would pay only one. To their surprise Johnny came to Sam Karoo and said, ‘Father of Sarita, I offer eight cows for your daughter.’ ”

“Eight cows.” I murmured. “I’d like to meet this Johnny Lingo.”

I wanted fish and pearls, so the next afternoon I went to the island of Nurabandi. As I asked directions to Johnny’s house, I noticed Johnny’s neighbors were also amused at the mention of his name. When I met the slim, serious young man I could see immediately why everyone respected his skills. However, this only reinforced my confusion over him.

As we sat in his house, he asked me, “You come here from Kiniwata?”


“They speak of me on that island?”

“Yes. They say you can provide me anything I need. They say you’re intelligent, resourceful, and the sharpest trader in the islands.”

He smiled gently. “My wife is from Kiniwata.”

“Yes, I know.”

“They speak of her?”

“A little.”

“What do they say?”

“Why, just … .” The question caught me off balance. “They told me you were married at festival time.”

“Nothing more?” The curve of his eyebrows told me he knew there had to be more.

“They also say the marriage settlement was eight cows.” I paused. “They wonder why.”

“They ask that?” His eyes lighted with pleasure. “Everyone in Kiniwata knows about the eight cows?”

I nodded.

“And in Nurabandi, everyone knows it too?” His chest expanded with satisfaction. “Always and forever, when they speak of marriage settlements, it will be remembered that Johnny Lingo paid eight cows for Sarita.”

So that’s the answer, I thought: Vanity.

Just then Sarita entered the room to place flowers on the table. She stood still for a moment to smile at her husband and then left. She was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. The lift of her shoulders, the tilt of her chin, and the sparkle in her eyes all spelled self-confidence and pride. Not an arrogant and haughty pride, but a confident inner beauty that radiated in her every movement.

I turned back to Johnny and found him looking at me.

“You admire her?” he murmured.

“She … she’s gorgeous.” I said. “Obviously, this is not the one everyone is talking about. She can’t be the Sarita you married on Kiniwata.”

“There’s only one Sarita. Perhaps, she doesn’t look the way you expected.”

“She doesn’t. I heard she was homely. They all make fun of you because you let yourself be cheated by Sam Karoo.”

“You think eight cows was too many?” A smile slid over his lips.

“No, but how can she be so different from the way they described her?”

Johnny said, “Think about how it must make a girl feel to know her husband paid a very low dowry for her? It must be insulting to her to know he places such little value on her. Think about how she must feel when the other women boast about the high prices their husbands paid for them. It must be embarrassing for her. I would not let this happen to my Sarita.”

“So, you paid eight cows just to make your wife happy?”

“Well, of course I wanted Sarita to be happy, but there’s more to it than that. You say she is different from what you expected. This is true. Many things can change a woman. There are things that happen on the inside and things that happen on the outside. However, the thing that matters most is how she views herself. In Kiniwata, Sarita believed she was worth nothing. As a result, that’s the value she projected. Now, she knows she is worth more than any other woman in the islands. It shows, doesn’t it?”

“Then you wanted …”

“I wanted to marry Sarita. She is the only woman I love.”

“But …” I was close to understanding.

“But,” he finished softly, “I wanted an eight-cow wife.”

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85 Responses to “Johnny Lingo’s 8 cow wife”

  1. Gloria says:

    This is truly a beautiful story. I went on to mention and share it with my husband hoping to enlight him. The joker that he is; his instant response was well I paid 10 cows for you….. Your head must be touching the ceiling and I am still paying!!!! Guess laughter is a good virtue too. At times that’s all you’ve got!!

  2. Urvi says:

    WOW ! so beautiful and inspiring….and i hope i am able to meet one such person.

  3. Confidence and self worth,is whatJohnny Lingo instiled on his wife. He made her feel like she was the most valuable thing in his life! The verry same way my husband of 51 years makes me feel! Sandi Smithson

  4. Elaine Hoffer says:

    In the 1970′s I was involved with the young women youth group at our church. We used to play the Johnny Lingo for the girls. I always loved the premise of the fact that he felt she was a 8 cow wife and wanted her to feel that way. What a great way to feel valued. When I saw 8 cow woman, I knew it was Johnny Lingo and I haven’t thought of it in years.

    Thanks for the memories!

  5. Think of the price Jesus paid for us!! We should all have confidence and self worth off the charts as brides of our Lord, Jesus

  6. LaMoyne Bryant says:

    This is a beautiful story. This is how every man should feel about his wife or intended wife. Every child should be raised with the attitude that they are worth 8 cows.

  7. Rebekah Ard says:

    I believe this story reflects exactly how Christ intends for a man to love his wife! He said in His word that a man should love his wife as He(Christ)loves the church….as we know He gave His life willingly and sacrificially for the church! I am very saddened to say that my spouse does not value and cherish me in that way. I believe ALL women married, unmarried, or looking desire to be admired and valued by the man to whom they said ”I DO!”

  8. Ronald Hogan says:

    Thank you for this lovely story. I hope its true meaning will educate us to appreciate one another. I truly value my soul-mate for her worth, that is why we two have stayed married for almost 51 years. We are now in our mid-70′s. Such a valuable lesson first time I’ve read this.

  9. Bhagirathi says:

    This story is a true gem. May every woman get a
    Johnny Lingo who makes her feel worthy of 8, 80
    or 800 cows. She will repay him with all the
    kindness during all the years, through thick and

  10. Alvin Roy,Langley Sr. says:

    This is the first time ever reading about Johnny Lingo and loved it.I was Blessed with three wives in my life. they all went Home to our Father.They all three where my Johnny Lingo’s.If more people had Attitude about GOD Love of life whey too will find there Johnny Lingo.We where true soul mates till they went Home.I pray every day to my Father for another true soul mate till I go Home. Remember what God says in the Bible,we are bankrupt without Love…A brother in Christ Alvin Roy,Langley Sr. God Bless America.

  11. Veerendra Dhiman says:

    A gem of a parable. I am pleased to have subscribed to this Inspiration by God. The lesson that we learn from the 8 cow wife is the kind of behaviour we should adopt towards others. The outward appearance of Sarita was what the people of Kiniwata remembered “She was skinny and she walked with her shoulders hunched and her head ducked. She was scared of her own shadow.” Sarita believed that she was worth nothing. But this was what she looked like before marriage. After her marriage she learnt that she was worth more than any other woman in that part of her world. Her bride price more than double of any other women married in Kiniwata increased her self esteem which resulted in bringing forth her inner hidden beauty “She was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. The lift of her shoulders, the tilt of her chin, and the sparkle in her eyes all spelled self-confidence and pride. Not an arrogant and haughty pride, but a confident inner beauty that radiated in her every movement.” It is a great feeling I got when I realised that your opinion of another person can change him/her so drastically specially your wife. It is a nauseating feeling to realise that nobody in the story took this incident with any seriousness, but instead preferred to make this episode a kind of a laughing matter, poking fun at Johhny and at Sam Karoo, Sarita’s father. But I am blessed.

  12. Leaveil Sasman says:

    that’s truly amazing i now value my women much much more than i already do
    true love has no monetary value just personal fullfilment in living life together

  13. jane quintos says:

    this is not only a husband-wife thing, but this story is for all of us. We should give value, honor and respect to every individual. The same as the value that we received from God, He gave us His best, His only begotten Son.

  14. Crystal says:

    Think of the price Jesus paid for us he gave his life for us praise god!! We should all have confidence and self worth We should give value, honor and respect to every individual.

  15. Maria says:

    Christ paid the highest price for us, he gave his all that we would know how much he loves us and value.s.A wonderful story we who had no value, in him we made rich beyond measure.

  16. A very good story.The quality of the person is on the inside,Christ gave His all,pray that we may give Him our all,and see people as He sees them

  17. Samkelo says:

    i love this story its just taught me to appreciate. to look on the inside not the outside part. its amazing how he praises her. the way he love and ador his wife. making her happy. sometime we don’t see the gold while its still infront of us but when its gone you soon realise that it was gold. you just opened my eyes. thank you

    God Bless you

  18. Alvin Traywick says:

    Our gracious God has also given me an 8 cow wife, for which I am extremely thankful.

  19. Beba Flores says:

    Worth sharing! Thank you!

  20. jay remedios says:

    WOW!!! amazing! I salute this man for giving the best in everything that he does or even acquire… it just proves that actions and good deeds play a significant role in our lives… and GOD started it all!

  21. Al Dimmett says:

    I guess it goes to show that you get what you pay for.. I also will pay enough to let my future wife know that she is valued above all others.

  22. I was disappointed that why I could not read this story some 25 years back. I got married on 25 Jun 1987 and know enlighted to learn this inspiring and story this the best formula to strengthen our relations. The greater values we give to other proportionally greater reward and satisfaction we receive.

    Thanks & Regards

    KS Rawat & Pushpa Rawat

  23. I was disappointed that why I could not read this story some 25 years back. I got married on 25 Jun 1987 and know enlighted to learn this inspiring story the best formula to strengthen our relations. The greater values we give to other proportionally greater reward and satisfaction we receive.

    Thanks & Regards

    KS Rawat & Pushpa Rawat

  24. betty capuyan says:

    its a very good example of how valuable we are, because Jesus Christ redeemed us with his very precious blood, not only eight cows but His whole being,so we have TO THINK AND ALWAYS BEAR IN OUR MIND THAT WE ARE SO PRECIOUS AND VALUABLE TO THE EYES OF GOD,so by thinking that we are nothing, we are committing a sin to our Lord Jesus Christ because THE MOST HIGH GOD IS THE ONE WHO VALUED US..

  25. Edgar says:

    Great story.It works mostly in thierd world nations.The American vertion isafter lifting them to such hights they take you for everything,leaving you with less then 50% an brag about being a independent woman.This is not an indictment of all Amercian woman but way too many think in those terms.However I still love them,now there is very little $ i have to share an they are hard to hold onto once they know your funds are limited.

  26. Frances wise says:

    a bEAUTIFUL story all men should be like Jonny lingo,and then most wives would love and respect there husbands ,Love comes from Inside out our hearts reveal who and what we are from the abundance the heart the mouth speak so real beauty comes from the heart,and show what we are on the out side,

  27. meseret says:

    Let alone outsiders, her father even used to think that he would never be able to marry her off. Then she developed another personality, a low self steam woman while she is a very gorgeous lady. I was surprised that she could lift her head up just because one man out of the whole country showed her that she is the most valued person. the whole town still thinks that she don’t worth it. But she won’t care to that any more .I have learnt a very useful life lesson. The first is that no matter want people think of us what matters is how we think about ourselves. The second is when you value someone you will be very pleased to see that you make that person feel valued this is a blessing. Let us value the whole human being and be everyone’s Johnny Lingo. After all, our Almighty Lord Jesus has paid his priceless blood for us. I am very happy that I subscribed to this site.
    Stay blessed
    Meseret from holly land Ethiopia

  28. bonaire says:

    this is an eye opener to me. my wife is breaking-up with me. but i don’t want to. i know now what she feels when i missed the times when i’m supposed to fetch her at work, or go out with her shopping, or just being with her while eating. i hope that our marriage will still work out. thank you for this story. i hope i can be a johnny lingo to my wife!!!

  29. Jacqueline says:

    I really loved this story. What some people see as unworthy, some of us see it as a real gem. I tend to behave like that sometimes, now i know.

    Thanks for the word and keep on doing a good job.

  30. Janet Thompson says:

    Many Thanks for posting this message, I have always believed each one of us needs to treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated. I try to live my life this way each and every day.

  31. Edgar says:

    Not all woman respond like she.They may have a different agenda.Especially if they have been hurt in the past by someother male,father,ex husbands,ex boyfriends.You can treat them like gold,but they have that low self esteem that takes over.If you can’t correct that situation you may have to cut your loses. USA poses many options therefore chooses can be confusing to some.Developing an smaller comunity you have to solve your problems rather than walk away from them.

  32. Maggy says:

    i love this story, so anybody can change somebody’s perspective of life. EIGHT COW FOR A DOWRY. IT’S AMAZING.

  33. Mrs. Tina Marie Demerath says:

    I heard this preached at a church once…I think it’s the most wonderful story I’ve ever heard. It illustrates, I think, the love of Christ for His beloved, as well.

  34. Carrie Veal says:

    An interesting dialogue is price comment. I believe that it is best to write extra on this topic, it may not be a taboo topic however typically people are not enough to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers

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