The Ears of Wheat
by The Brothers Grimm (translated)
Ages upon ages ago, says the German
when angels used to wander on earth, the
ground was more fruitful than it is now. Then the
stalks of wheat bore not fifty or sixty fold, but
four times five hundred fold. Then the wheat-
ears grew from the bottom to the top of the stalk.
But the men of the earth forgot that this blessing
came from God, and they became idle and selfish.
One day a woman went through a wheat-field,
and her little child, who accompanied her, fell
into a puddle and soiled her frock. The mother
tore off a handful of the wheat-ears and cleaned
the child's dress with them.
Just then an angel passed by and saw
her. Wrathfully he spoke:
"Wasteful woman, no longer shall
the wheat-stalks produce ears. You mortals are not worthy
of the gifts of Heaven!''
Some peasants who were gathering wheat in
the fields heard this, and falling on their knees,
prayed and entreated the angel to leave the wheat
alone, not only on their account, but for the sake
of the little birds who otherwise must perish of
The angel pitied their distress, and granted a
part of the prayer. And from that day to this the
ears of wheat have grown as they do now.