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How Much Land Does a Man Need?

by Leo Tolstoy

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What is the Bashkírs' "one thousand roubles a day" policy and its real test?

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The Bashkirs took one thousand roubles and sold their land based on the area covered by the potential buyer in a day. The buyer was expected to walk around the land from sunrise to sunset. The real test of the policy was that the potential buyer was expected to walk around the field and arrive at the starting point before sunset in order to get the land or forfeit the money.

The Chief laughed.

"It will all be yours!" said he. "But there is one condition: If you don't return on the same day to the spot whence you started, your money is lost."

Pahom paid the one thousand roubles and was allowed to walk around the land. He got greedy, however, and wanted to walk around a very large area. His attempts proved futile when time started to run out and the sun was setting on the horizon. Pahom died of exhaustion after he tried to rush to the starting point. His greed and unchecked ambition led him to an early grave.

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