Someplace, some time ago, there was a vibrant green hill. There was nothing particularly unusual about this hill except that it was exceedingly beautiful. Upon the hill sat a mansion. It was comprised of dark wood, laced with gold and silver. The man who lived within it was wealthy beyond imagination. But he was a shut in. His wife was the only other person he talked to.
His wife was named Thaiya and she was very soft spoken and gentle. She would cook for her husband and answer the door for him and run his errands. But, he rarely thanked her and often didn’t care for what she wanted.
One day she and her husband got into an argument. She was crying over how he had all this money, yet spent it all on his wants only. The husband was insulted at how ungrateful his wife was and wanted her gone. He grabbed a fistful of bills from his safe and threw them at her, rattling off a ridiculous grocery list of things he wanted her to get him. He figured it would keep her busy for the rest of the day.
She took the money and left, tears still streaming down her face. She inspected the list, which was longer than her forearm, and got busy.
When she was done she had far too many bags to carry home. She struggled with them, but could only carry a small part of them at a time. A man who had been resting against one of the buildings watched her fiddle with the items before standing up and taking a great amount of them in his arms.
“Where to, Madame?” He asked.
Grateful for the help, she led him back to the mansion. He set the bags down on the porch and turned to leave, but Thaiya stopped him.
“Don’t you want some compensation?”
He shook his head, again turning to leave.
“No, I insist!” Thaiya called out. “How much do you want?”
The man stopped and carefully eyed her bags. “I would like enough food for me and my family, Madame. You see, we don’t have any home or job.”
“Then why were you willing to help me for nothing?” She asked.
“Helping another human being is not something that merits payment. It’s simply being polite.”
Thaiya fumbled through the bags and took out a few loaves of bread and a whole fish and gave it to the man.
“Will that be enough?”
He nodded, and went on his way.
The man of the house had been watching the exchange from an upstairs window and hit Thaiya the moment she came in the door. He screamed at her for giving away his food that was bought with his money.
That night she slept in one of the guest rooms, bruised and crying.
A week later she went again to the market. As she was walking back she saw a young girl getting chased away from a bakery. She had been trying to steal bread. Thaiya looked at the bread in her bags and sought out the girl.
She followed her down many alleys she never knew existed, until she fell upon a dead end littered with blankets and reeking of sweat. At least twenty homeless were gathered there, including the man who had helped her the previous week.
They all stared at her, such a well kept woman amid such desolation. She took her bag of bread and offered it to them all. She also gave them the change she had from the day’s shopping. It was at least a hundred Ouas, and they gasped at the crisp notes she held out.
She left them to their food, navigating back through the dismal alleyways and narrow side streets. As she was walking a man stopped her, asking if she was lost.
“I’m just on my way back home, I’m fine.” She said quietly, walking past.
“Are you sure you want to go back home?”
She stopped in her tracks. “What do you mean?”
“Surely your husband will not be happy you gave away all the bread and the change.”
Thaiya turned and stared at the man. His hair was a deep gray, despite his face not looking any older than about twenty. His eyes glittered a bright green, and she knew he was not human.
“Angel…Zadkiel…?” Her voice was smaller than usual, and she seemed to shrink where she stood.
“I am not here to harm you. I’m here to praise you.” He placed a comforting hand on her shoulder and smiled. “I believe you are in the right, giving food to those who have none. Therefore I offer you protection from your husband’s wrath.”
“And what do you want in return?”
“Helping another human being is not something that merits payment. I ask nothing of you.”
And with that the angel left and Thaiya hurried home. When asked why she had no bread she said there was none left. When asked why she had no change she said the prices had been raised. Her husband was no fool and called her a liar. He hit her with a pan, and she fell to the floor. He then left the kitchen, retreating to his study.
Though she had been knocked down, Thaiya did not feel any pain. She felt her head and felt nothing unusual. The protection had worked.
She began to smuggle the homeless food every week, then every three or four days, then every other day. She took the blows to the head with pride, knowing that Heaven was on her side. All the while her husband had started to refer to her as "Liar", instead of by her actual name.
One day she took a few loaves and hid them by tucking them into a pouch she made from her skirt. Just as she was about to creep out of the house with the bread, her husband stopped her and asked her what she had.
“These are merely tulips I plucked from the hill.” She said nervously.
“Then let me see.” He demanded.
Reluctantly, she let go of her skirt, expecting to hear the thud of bread hitting the floor. Instead an array of colorful tulips, natural and unnatural colors alike, fell from the fold of her skirt. Her husband stared in shock, and she smiled triumphantly.
“You know I would never lie to you.”