Today's Beautiful Gem: Concluding section of a
short story entitled
`How much land does a man need?' by Leo Tolstoy,
translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude.
"Though afraid of death, he could not stop. "After having run all
that way they will call me a fool if I stop now," thought he. And
he ran on and on, and drew near and heard the Bashkirs yelling and
shouting to him, and their cries inflamed his heart still more.
He gathered his last strength and ran on.
"The sun was close to the rim, and cloaked in mist looked large,
and red as blood. Now, yes now, it was about to set! The sun was
quite low, but he was also quite near his aim. Pahom could already
see the people on the hillock waving their arms to hurry him up.
He could see the fox-fur cap on the ground, and the money on it,
and the Chief sitting on the ground holding his sides. And Pahom
remembered his dream.
" "There is plenty of land," thought he, "but will God let me live
on it? I have lost my life! I shall never reach that spot!"
"Pahom looked at the sun, which had reached the earth: one side of
it had already disappeared. With all his remaining strength he
rushed on, bending his body forward so that his legs could hardly
follow fast enough to keep him from falling. Just as he reached
the hillock it suddenly grew dark. He looked up-- the sun had
already set! He gave a cry: "All my labour has been in vain,"
thought he, and he was about to stop, but he heard the Bashkirs
still shouting, and remembered that though to him, from below, the
sun seemed to have set, they on the hillock could see it. He took
a long breath and ran up the hillock. It was still light there.
He reached the top and saw the cap. Before it sat the Chief
laughing and holding his sides. Again Pahom remembered his dream,
and he uttered a cry: his legs gave way beneath him, he fell forward
and reached the cap with his hands.
" "Ah, that's a fine fellow!" exclaimed the Chief. "He has gained
much land!" Pahom's servant came running up and tried to raise
him, but he saw that blood was flowing from his mouth. Pahom was
dead! The Bakshirs clicked their tongues to show their pity.
"His servant picked up the spade and dug a grave long enough for
Pahom to lie in, and buried him in it. Six feet from his head to
his heels was all he needed."
Note: Pahom, the hero of this tragic story, could lay claim to
all the land that encloses the route he takes from sunrise to
sunset from a point at which he must start and also finish.
Om s'aantih: Peace! - J. K. Mohana Rao