The Seasoning of Sharing
If you ever visit a certain Neohome and notice an empty container of salt on a shelf, be certain to ask about the meaning behind it. The explanation for it might prove to be interesting, indeed. This is the story behind that empty little container, and it happened around the Day of Giving, several years ago.
In the kitchen, UnaRae was busy as usual. The holidays were coming, and there was a lot of food that had to be made. Una reached for the container of salt, and glanced inside. There was no more salt in the container. The perky Koi grumbled as she reached for a sweater and scarf, and then glanced out the window at the darkening sky. She wrapped up warmly, then scooped up the slumbering Teasquito from where she was napping on the counter, and set her into a basket.
"Come on, Zaraxa, we need to get some more salt," Una said, and pulled a cloth over her petpet, then went outside. The air was bitingly cold, and the shadows seemed very unfriendly as the Koi set off for Neopia Central. The Fresh Food Shop was a packed place, with more customers than usual buying food for their holiday dinners. Una glanced at the shelf where salt was kept, but found none. She went to the Chia shopkeeper to ask about the salt.
"I'm out of salt, sorry," he said to Una, wrapping up the purchases for other customers as he spoke. "Have you looked in the shop in Meridell? There might be some salt there. Be safe out there, it's looking bad!" Una thanked him and hurried on her way despite the dropping temperatures and the thickly flying snow.
The journey to Meridell was longer than usual. Una had to climb over a couple snowdrifts as she took the familiar roads that led to Meridell. Once, she fell through a snowbank, and had a hard time getting out, but at last she made it, grabbed her basket tightly in one yellow fin, and went on her way again. At last, she noticed the simple wooden sign that boosted her spirits, and she checked on her petpet, then hurried along.
Inside the Meridell food shop, she was in luck. There was one last container of salt. It was pretty big, and Una bought the entire thing, then smiled happily as she stepped back into the inclement weather. But she only got so far before she ran into an old Skeith farmer, dressed in rags and looking at her with an eager, appealing expression on his face.
"Pardon me, miss, I was wondering if you had any herbs or seasoning to spare. My family is sitting down to a very bland meal again, and I was hoping to find someone nice with something to give me so I can give my family a tastier meal for a change. My wages don't amount to very much, after all, so often my family makes do with plain boiled potatoes and unspiced meat."
Una considered. "Well, I do have a bit of salt I can spare. Have you a sack I can pour some into for you?" The old farmer had a sack, indeed, and so Una gave him a bit of salt. He thanked her and went on his way. Una smiled and then took off toward home.
Just inside the Brightvale border, Una was stopped again, this time by a scholarly Kougra who was holding a book and looking perplexed. She was smartly dressed, but looked very young, in spite of the fine robe and sturdy shoes she was wearing.
"Pardon me, but do you have any salt to spare? I'm short on salt and I need to have a cup of it in order to make a batch of biscuits that's in this cookbook. It's part of a personal assignment from King Hagan, you know, and I don't want to let his Majesty down. I'd go to Meridell to get it, myself, but I'm short on time and I need to get to a math class in a few more minutes. You know how our king is in the matter of intelligent subjects!" She gave a rueful smile.
Una nodded and gave the Kougra a bit of salt. The Kougra thanked Una heartily and ran off with her cookbook and the bit of salt, hoping she could make it to her math class on time. At that moment, Zaraxa started to chirp nervously. It was getting steadily colder. Una proceeded along her way, first having wrapped her petpet more snugly in her basket.
Back in Neopia Central, Una once again answered the call of being kind, and doled out salt to several passersby, and by the time she was finished, the container was almost empty. Una glanced into it, sighed, and shook her head, but there was nothing she could do, now. All that could be done was head for home.
"Well, I guess we can make do with what we have, though it's not very much, now." Una proceeded to the kitchen, put the salt container on the counter with a little sigh, then went to bed, shivering as she crept under the covers. The next morning she woke with a mild cough. Zadar, her brother, noticed she was ill, and went to get food and medicine for her. His thick blue fur kept him warm as he completed his errands and went home, then he heated up some chicken soup and put more wood on the fire.
"Really, Una, you didn't need to go to such lengths for a bit of salt," the young mutant Kyrii growled as he brought her the medicine. "And there's hardly any salt, either. Where did it go?" Una told him, and Zadar suppressed his indignation. Instead, he gave her some soup with a bit of bread, and checked on her Teasquito, too. Then he made his excuses and left her.
Zadar paced before the fire, feeling annoyed with his sister, but for reasons known only to him, he kept his anger at bay. Instead, he sat in his chair and thought about a lot of things. After all, it did no good to argue with his sister when she wasn't feeling very well. He looked in on Una again before turning in for the night, but it cannot be said he slept well, with his mind full of new ideas.
The next day, Una was much better. Zadar said nothing to her, only helped her pack a few boxes that would be taken to the Money Tree that afternoon. It was the Month of Celebrating, and Una insisted on taking food to the Money Tree for the less fortunate. They set out the food and watched it disappear. Zadar glanced at his sister as she watched the poor Neopets take off with food and toys to enjoy.
"I always fancied Una as an old fool for wanting to just give stuff away for nothing," he thought, "but perhaps she's not as much a fool as I've believed her to be. Hearing about her giving away that salt to those other Neopets has also helped to change my beliefs. Neopia would be a lot better off if more Neopets could be like my sister. I know I am."
Thinking thus, Zadar and Una went home to enjoy a simple meal, but feeling all the better after witnessing the satisfying scene at the Money Tree. They had a fine Day of Giving, but it was all the finer due to Una's kindness from a few weeks before. Una never did discover the outcomes of the Neopets she'd helped in the matter of the salt, but to her, it wasn't quite as important as knowing she had been able to help them to begin with. This is why, to this very day, you'll always see an empty container of salt on the shelf in UnaRae's kitchen, and be told it's called the seasoning of sharing.