The Whole Wide World and the Crone

 Once upon a time a girl stood at the top of a rather large hill and surveyed the whole wide world.

    The sound of a throat clearing behind her startled her, and she whipped around.

    'What would you give for it?' asked an old, bent crone with a large wart on the tip of her nose and a curved walking stick as her cane.

    The girl blinked. She didn't have much, only an uneaten lunch and a fistful of daisies.

    She held them out to the crone. 'It's all I have,' she said.

    'What will you do with the world if I give it to you?'

    The girl blinked. 'Let it alone, I suppose. It doesn't need me. Not really.'

    It was the crone's turn to blink. 'Then I give it to you.'

    The girl's eyes went wide in surprise. 'To me? All this whole wide world for my very own?'

    'But you'll have to work for it,' said the crone. 'See that it doesn't come to harm.'

    The girl nodded vigorously.  She would protect it as best she could to have such a gift.

    'And it is my gift? Mine alone?' the girl said.

    'No,' said the crone. 'No it isn't. It is for everyone who sees it and cares for it. Does that trouble you?'

    The girl thought. At first it did. But then she realized how wide the world was, and how much care it needed. 

    She shook her head.

    'If you give all you have, and care for it, and share it with those who care, too, then it will be yours forever,' the crone said.

    The girl nodded her head in a wonder-filled kind of way, and stared out again at the whole wide world.

    A question crossed her mind, and she turned to the crone.

    'But...' she began.

    But the crone was gone.

    So that must have been the last word on the gift of the whole wide world.

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