Stories I Like: “Three Questions” by Leo Tolstoy ~ Part 2 of 2

THREE QUESTIONS – PART 2 OF 2

The hermit listened to the King, but answered nothing. He just spat on his hand and recommenced digging.

“You are tired,” said the King, “let me take the spade and work awhile for you.”

“Thanks!” said the hermit, and, giving the spade to the King, he sat down on the ground.

When he had dug two beds, the King stopped and repeated his questions. The hermit again gave no answer, but rose, stretched out his hand for the spade, and said:

“Now rest awhile-and let me work a bit.”

But the King did not give him the spade, and continued to dig. One hour passed, and another. The sun began to sink behind the trees, and the King at last stuck the spade into the ground, and said:

“I came to you, wise man, for an answer to my questions. If you can give me none, tell me so, and I will return home.”

“Here comes some one running,” said the hermit, “let us see who it is.”

The King turned round, and saw a bearded man come running out of the wood. The man held his hands pressed against his stomach, and blood was flowing “from under them. When he reached the King, he fell fainting on the ground moaning feebly. The King and the hermit unfastened the man’s clothing. There was a large wound in his stomach. The King washed it as best he could, and bandaged it with his handkerchief and with a towel the hermit had. But the blood would not stop flowing, and the King again and again removed the bandage soaked with warm blood, and washed and re-bandaged the wound. When at last the blood ceased flowing, the man revived and asked for something to drink. The King brought fresh water and gave it to him. Meanwhile the sun had set, and it had become cool. So the King, with the hermit’s help, carried the wounded man into the hut and laid him on the bed. Lying on the bed the man closed his eyes and was quiet; but the King was so tired with his walk and with the work he had done, that he crouched down on the threshold, and also fell asleep—so soundly that he slept all through the short summer night. When he awoke in the morning, it was long before he could remember at him.

“I do not know you, and have nothing to forgive you for,” said the King.

“You do not know me, but I know you. I am that enemy of yours who swore to revenge himself on you, because you executed his brother and seized his property. I knew you had gone alone to see the hermit, and I resolved to kill you on your way back. But the day passed and you did not return. So I came out from my ambush to find you, and I came upon your bodyguard, and they recognized me, and wounded me. I escaped from them, but should have bled to death had you not dressed my wound. I wished to kill you, and you have saved my life. Now, if I live, and if you wish it, I will serve you as your most faithful slave, and will bid my sons do the same. Forgive me!”

The King was very glad to have made peace with his enemy so easily, and to have gained him for a friend, and he not only forgave him, but said he would send his servants and his own physician to attend him, and promised answer to the questions he had put. The hermit was outside, on his knees, sowing seeds in the beds that had been dug the day before.

The King approached him, and said:

“For the last time, I pray you to answer my questions, wise man.”

“You have already been answered!” said the hermit, still crouching on his thin legs, and looking up at the King, who stood before him.

“How answered? What do you mean?” asked the King.

“Do you not see,” replied the hermit. “If you had not pitied my weakness yesterday, and had not dug those beds for me, but had gone your way, that man would have attacked you, and you would have repented of not having stayed with me. So the most important time was when you were digging the beds; and I was the most important man; and to do me good was your most important business. Afterwards when that man ran to us, the most important time was when you were attending to him, for if you had not bound up his wounds he would have died without having made peace with you. So he was the most important man, and what you then: there is only one time that is important—Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power. The most necessary man is he with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with any one else: and the most important affair is, to do him good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life!”

Excerpt From

What Men Live By, and Other Tales

by Leo Tolstoy

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Wisdom for Living by Shakespeare

Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice And could of men distinguish, her election Hath sealed thee for herself; for thou hast been As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing,
A man that fortune’s buffets and rewards
Hast ta’en with equal thanks; and bless’d are those Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled That they are not a pipe for fortune’s finger
To sound what stop she please. Give me that man That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him
In my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart,
As I do thee.

William Shakespeare.

If All The Skies ~ Poem by Henry Van Dyke

If All The Skies

If all the skies were sunshine,  Our faces would be fainTo feel once more upon them  The cooling plash of rain.

If all the world were music,  Our hearts would often longFor one sweet strain of silence.  To break the endless song.

If life were always merry,  Our souls would seek relief,And rest from weary laughter  In the quiet arms of grief.

by Henry Van Dyke

Something to Think About

The most important relationship we can all have is the one you have with yourself, the most important journey you can take is one of self-discovery. To know yourself, you must spend time with yourself, you must not be afraid to be alone. Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.

Aristotle

The Armful ~ Poem by Robert Frost

The Armful

by Robert Frost

For every parcel I stoop down to seize
I lose some other off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns,
Extremes too hard to comprehend at. once
Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have to hold with hand and mind
And heart, if need be, I will do my best.
To keep their building balanced at my breast.
I crouch down to prevent them as they fall;
Then sit down in the middle of them all.
I had to drop the armful in the road
And try to stack them in a better load.

The House by the Side of the Road ~ Poem by Sam Foss

The House By The Side of The Road

Let me live in a house by the side of the road, Where the race of men go by—
The men who are good and the men who are bad, As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat, Or hurl the cynic’s ban;—
Let me live in a house by the side of the road And be a friend to man.
I see from my house by the side of the road, By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope, The men who are faint with the strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears— Both parts of an infinite plan;—
Let me live in my house by the side of the road And be a friend to man.
I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead And mountains of wearisome height;
And the road passes on through the long afternoon And stretches away to the night.
But still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice, And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road Like a man who dwells alone.
Let me live in my house by the side of the road Where the race of men go by—
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish—so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat
Or hurl the cynic’s ban?—
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.
Sam Walter Foss.