But a few years later Fatima is captured by pirates who sell her into slavery and once again her world collapses. A man takes pity on her plight and buys her from the slavers to be a companion for his wife. When he returns home he discovers that he has been robbed and can no longer afford to pay his workers, so he, his wife, and Fatima go to work in his wood yard building masts for boats. They are kind to Fatima and free her from the bond of slavery. She proves to be a good and loyal worker and she quickly learns the skill of mast building. One day they set sail to make a delivery, and again her ship is beset by storms and sinks. Fatima is cast alone upon yet another strange shore, where she soon is found by the Emperor's men who are looking for a "foreign woman to make a tent for the Emperor in fulfillment of an ancient prophecy".
Fatima is brought before the Emperor and tries to think of all the tents she has seen in her travels in order to figure out how to build one. She asks the Emperor for sturdy cloth, durable rope, and strong poles to construct the tent. There are none of these available, so she uses the spinning, weaving, and mast-making skills she has learned to produce the necessary components and she constructs a magnificent tent for the Emperor. Soon after she marries the son of the emperor and they live happily ever after.
There are times in our lives that important relationships abruptly end; times that our intended paths of learning are rudely interrupted. At the moment of a catastrophe or sudden change, it is hard to understand that there could be any purpose in these disrupting events. This story suggests that sometimes a difficult situation provides the lesson we need to build an unforeseen “tent” somewhere down the road. Trusting that more will be revealed, that there's "gotta be a pony here somewhere" (http://www.conversationsforchange.com/weekly-tidbits/category/pony) can make it easier to navigate and integrate some of life's harder transitions.