What Pegman Saw: Elanua

Mdna, Malta, Google Maps

“Papa, I had an idea about letters,” Elanua said. “Instead of copying the same letters over and over again, what if you carved the letters on a tile and them painted them with ink? Then you could press your words to paper over and over again.”

The old man laughed. That one was full of ideas. Last week she had a notion about the moldy bread. The week before that she talked of lancing the pox from a child with fever in order to make a potion to keep the others well.

His wife shook her head and clucked; she was less forgiving of the girl. “Go fetch water Elanua,” she said. As the girl danced through the doorway and down the cobbled path, she turned to him. “Enough indulging her. It’s time to get that one married so she can put her mind to good use—bringing us grandsons.”

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click here.


  1. Amazing story. I love the genius of the girl. I imagine that her gender made it worse, but that her parents would’ve been almost as discouraging to a boy with such crackpot ideas. Well done.

    1. True that.

      I came up with the idea while I was wondering if there was ever a Leonardo who was female, and all her ideas were dismissed as crackpot. But genius (especially out of time) has a hard time getting traction no matter what the gender. But especially if it’s not male. And white, apparently: https://financesonline.com/13-most-intelligent-people-in-the-history-of-the-world/

      But what of the medicine woman of antiquity, who sensed by smell the potential in each leaf–who remembered their location and could concoct cures for such ills that now baffle Western medicine? Our measure of genius invents and defines itself. Who knows what wisdom is lost.

  2. Brilliant idea. Too bad Elanua was discounted merely for being female.

    1. Thanks for reading, James!

  3. peterkirsch

    To consider what advances and leadership we’ve lost out on over the centuries…
    Just tragic.

    1. It is! Who knows what we’ve missed out on. Thanks for reading, Peter.

  4. Those ideas probably would sound crackpot the first time (or ten) they were suggested — and even worse coming from a child. (What a very precocious child, my!) And of course, coming from a girl, whose only purpose in society is making babies.. (sigh) It does make me wonder how much more progress we might have made as a society if we had encouraged the minds of those who weren’t white male property owners. But then, realizing that was a major type of progress in itself.

    1. Shaking my head and laughing at the last line of that especially. Yes, I wonder where we could be… Thanks for reading, Joy!

  5. I love your concept – a female Leonardo – and you’ve written the story well. Lovely humour, with a sting in the tail.

  6. It just makes me wonder how often people concocted brilliant ideas, but were squashed by “right thinking” people. I think the number of times this really has happened would be terrifying. Far-reaching ideas rarely come from conventional thinkers. I think this is a brilliant characterization.

    1. I’m with you–I’ll bet it would be both sad and sickening if we ever knew what genius we missed. Thanks for reading!

  7. Great subject, great story. Love the energy of the girl. Guess she needs it to challenge the status quo. I hope there was a female Leonardo- Leonora Da Vinci ??

    1. There should be a Leonara–I want to read that book! Thanks for reading, Francine.

  8. This is wonderful! And yes, to think of the genius we’ve missed out on over the centuries.

  9. A lovely story, Karen, full of your signature lightness and loving touches. The sad part is, this rejection of ideas and people continues today, anywhere we look is we scratch hard enough. I had a similar theme in mind for my stories written yesterday but the location and characters were too predictable hence I rejected posting them which kind of highlights the point I was trying to make. Doh!

    1. Maybe you need to go back and post them anyway. Sometimes we can be our own worst critics. The world is hard enough on ideas without us rejecting them before they make it out to the world. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Kelvin.

      1. I know. Thank you for your support, Karen. I can always rely on you to respond.

  10. […] Walking Dead (one down, four to go), I have taken a break to visit The Pegman!  Thanks always to Karen and Josh for hosting and accepting my late entry […]

  11. One cannot help but wonder how many brilliant ideas were “poo-pooed” away, only to be picked up by someone else at the “right” time…

    I adore the idea of a female DaVinci and would not be surprised that there is one out there, hiding from the history books written by men…

    1. I’ll bet there are more of them than we want to know about. We need some historians to uncover them. Thanks for reading, Dale.

  12. Women have been fighting the stereotypes our entire existence. Great example you’ve written! Jelli~ on the lam

    1. For sure. Thanks for reading and commenting, Jelli. Hope you can join us this week on Pegman!

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