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Rooli, the Slave

Tired because of the day's long journey, and after unpacking all of the regal finery, Rooli spilled her mistress's heated bathwater to a waste on the carpets. For punishment, that night she was sent to the stockade to keep watch over the camp's animals.

A raised human voice scares away even the fiercest animal intruders. So, mournful at her watch, Rooli began a song about her bondage and the unfairness and distress in her life. Oh! poor Rooli, singing her heart out to the darkness, to the contemplative night birds, to the silent four-legged stalkers, to the creatures crawling through the dusty weeds.

Forced by her soul's outpouring, they all paused to listen.

In the way of mysteries, it happened that a group of djinni were using that part of the world for passage to their business. These powerful, impulsive spirits always travel at night because they prefer its quiet to daylight's tumult. Coming upon Rooli's singing, they murmured amongst themselves.

'Her song is soft dew sliding to warm earth,' said one spirit.

'Her voice is cool as darkness, sweet as breeze,' said another.

'A treasure we can appreciate,' the djinni agreed, and taking human form, they approached and bade her sing again. When they had heard enough, they asked if her song was true.

'As true as I stand guard here,' swore Rooli, the slave.

'If you wish it to be, you shall have no reason to sing so sadly anymore,' offered the spirits.

'Ah! My gratitude would be boundless,' said Rooli.

Go in to your bed, young Rooli,' said the djinni. 'Sleep in peace and comfort. That rich house in which you slaved is now your own. And so that you'll nevermore slave at this chore, henceforth no harm will come to any of your household's livestock.'

When Rooli went inside, it was as promised. Who had been her fellow slaves now addressed her as "mistress." They led her to beautiful quarters, a warm jasmine-scented bed, and filled with amazement at such wondrous luxury, she fell fast asleep.

As soon as she awoke next morning, Rooli went about testing whether her dream life would continue true. The situation remained the same. Whatever she bade, slaves did. They dressed and fed her, made her comfortable, and it took many hours before Rooli became satisfied that indeed her world had changed.

As that reality filled her joyful soul, she looked to the sky and filled her chest to sing thanks to the benevolent djinni.

But only an ugly rasp came forth from Rooli's throat: the spirits had taken her music with them.