Three Questions

by Leo Tolstoy

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Describe the events of the king's day with the hermit in "Three Questions."

Quick answer:

In "Three Questions," the king spends most of his day with the hermit digging and spends the evening tending to a wounded man. Through these simple actions, and with the hermit's guidance, he is able to learn the answers to his questions.

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In Tolstoy's short story "Three Questions," the king begins his day with the hermit by posing his questions: how he can know the right thing to do at the right time, to whom he should pay most attention, and which affairs are the most important. The hermit does not attempt to answer him, but continues digging. The king offers to dig while the hermit rests, and spends most of the day digging by the hermit's hut.

At sunset, just as the king is about to leave the hermit, a man comes running out of the forest nearby. He is wounded, and the king tends to his wounds, gives him water, and takes him into the hermit's hut, where he goes to sleep. The king is so exhausted that he also sleeps. These, therefore, are the events of the king's day with the hermit.

When he wakes the next day, the wounded man is recovering. He confesses that he was lying in wait to kill the king when he was set upon and wounded by the king's bodyguard. Now that the king has saved his life, he no longer feels any animosity, and begs the king's forgiveness. The hermit points out that the king's three questions have been answered by the previous day's events. He knew the right thing to do, whether it was digging to help the hermit, or saving the man's life. The most important person was the one to whom he had to give his attention at any given moment, again, the hermit or the wounded man. The most important thing do do was the duty with which he was faced at that particular moment.

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