an ocelot, recently escaped from the zoo, stumbles upon a great and generous sorcerer.
the sorcerer looks deeply in her proud and feline eyes and offers to grant any wish of which she could think.
she asks simply to be given a voice to speak.
the kind sorcerer simply smiled, and with a wave of his hand the ocelot found she could speak loud concise and clear as day, as if she were a human like you or me.
at first when she began to speak, each utterance was a joyful noise. and what joyful utterances! what? to be the first ocelot since the fall of Adam to speak in harmony once again with humans. to enunciate and engage in all the workings of mankind and entertain the trappings of his tepid mind.
she soon became a great star. all the other jungle cats, those who didn’t resent her, looked upon her as if she were a bright idol, their great speaking queen. she held the other jungle animals in the crest of her paw. women and children came for miles to hear her speak of anything at all. men sent her great gifts. pelts of lesser animals. make-ups and all sorts of balsams and perfumes to enhance her already mighty and profound beauty.
then one day, her old zookeeper came by the palace where she had come to reside. he remarked snidely as to how she used to behave before she had been given a voice to speak. how she would mew like a kitten at night for want of the jungle. how she would purr against her will when she was well fed. such was the humiliation, and so unbearable the memory of her former captivity, that she left the palace at once.
she wandered far and wide. her days and nights filled with the harsh bitterness and regret of being made so vulnerable in the court of all who had once worshiped her. she began to curse those around her. where before she had spoke of joy and light and the goodness of earth, she now would spew decrepit and foul tidings of her misery to any that would listen. eventually she began to not only curse the zookeeper and her loyal devotees, but the mighty sorcerer himself, the one who had first granted her the gift to speak. cruel it seemed, that what she once thought as a great and precious gift she now regarded as a dastardly and vile curse.
one night in particular she fell asleep and began to dream under the eaves of a sycamore tree. in her dream she was visited by the sorcerer. upon seeing him she snarled her fangs and hissed and screamed her most sordid and pungent slurs upon the sorcerer and his so called gift. hours went by it seemed, until she had unleashed all the pain and shame and anger she had harbored inside her. suddenly it seemed she no longer had the will to speak. her harsh words had left her deflated, empty, and breathless. all the while the kind and gentle sorcerer stood tall, looking at her with compassionate and friendly eyes. when it seemed she would surely speak no more she uttered a final question:
sorcerer, demon. why have you wrought this upon me? when I was first given a voice to speak, I filled the ears of those around me with all the wonder and joy and longing I felt so deeply upon my emancipation. did you not know I would be confronted with the zookeeper and all of his harsh reprimands? could you not have spared me this shame and humiliation? or are you simply so cruel that you receive some sort of enjoyment for all of my suffering? I was once a mighty and noble ocelot. Yet now, in all of my confusion and anger, I have become as foul as he. Through the weight of my words I have made prisoners of all those who once surrounded me. I have brought melancholy and despair upon all who have crossed my path and once again, have found myself behind bars. Had I know this was my lot, I would rather I had never spoken. The animals of the jungle used to speak of your goodness, but now all I can speak of is your cruelty. I admit, I have even cursed your name behind your back, and now I proudly spew my venom to your very face. Speak truly mage, and let it be openly known. Be this dream or reality, I beg of you to tell me, towards what sick purpose lies the root of all of this suffering your treachery has caused me?
The sorcerer stood firm and said simply.
After you freed yourself from your prison at the zoo, you entered into another prison altogether. You entered the world of men with no way to share in their sorrows or musings, and with that no way to share in their celebrations or joy. I granted you your wish, yes. But know this: I did not give you your voice that you could speak towards the deepest good, nor for the darkest of evils.
I gave you your voice that you might say it all.
and now that you have spoken, both light and dark in earnest, it is up to you to decide, from this moment on, of what you will now speak. Let each word be as a seed, and always remember, what you now sow, you must also one day reap.
With that the dream ended. the sorcerer disappeared. and upon waking up, the ocelot was back at the zoo, prisoner again in her lonely little cage, with no claim of her own and no voice to speak of. sighing her deep feral sigh, she looked with longing towards the bars of her cage before her eyes finally rested upon the latch. she said in her mind, if she could only do it all over again, she would simply return to the jungle, and share with her people all that her visions had shared with her. just then, a deep rustle of wind blew and from somewhere both fortunate and divine, the door to her cage blew open just enough for her mighty and sleek figure to slip through the crack. Paw after padded paw she made her way out of the zoo and into the jungle. this time content to speak the language of her kin and finally willing to live by her most natural means. it was there she remained, simple and triumphant, happily ever after among her own in the wild kingdom of beasts.