“The Poor Man Enriched”, Fable by Ivan. A. Krylov

Russian Fable

Krylov and his fables

Russian LiteratureChildren BooksRussian PoetryIvan. A. KrylovContents

< < < The Elephant As Governor
The Quartette > > >

The Poor Man Enriched

” IS IT worth while being ricli, if one is never to eat or drink delicately, and to do nothing but heap up money ? And to what end ? We die, and then leave all behind. We only torment ourselves, and get a bad name. No ; if riches had fallen to my share, not only roubles, but even thousands of them wouldn’t have been grudged by me, so long as I could live sumptuously and luxuriously; and my feasts should have been talked about far and wide. Besides, I should have done good to others. To rich misers, their life is a kind of torment.”

So reasoned a Poor Man with himself, lying on the bare boards in a wretched hovel. Suddenly, gliding to his side through a chink, there appeared — some say a wizard, others say the Evil One (most likely the latter, as the end of the story will show), and began to speak thus :

” You wish to be rich ; I have heard you say why. I am glad to help a friend, so here is a purse for you ; there is a ducat in it— no more. But, as soon as you have taken one coin out of it, you will find another in it all ready for you. So now, my friend, your growing rich depends entirely upon your own wishes. Take the purse, and freely supply yourself from it until your craving is satisfied. Only bear this in mind, — until you shall have flung the purse into the river, you are forbidden to spend a single ducat.”

He spoke, and left the purse with the Poor Man. The Poor Man was almost beside himself for joy. But, as soon as he returned to his senses, he began to handle the purse ; and with what result ? Scarcely could he believe it was not a dream. He had hardly taken one ducat out, before another was already stirring in the purse. Our needy friend says to himself,

” I will shake out a heap of ducats. Then, to-morrow I shall be rich, and I will begin to live like a Sybarite.”

But the next morning he had changed his mind.

” It ‘s true,” he says, ” I am rich now. But who isn’t glad to get hold of a good thing ? and whу shouldn’t I become twice as rich ? It surely wouldn’t be laziness in me to spend another day over the purse. Here I have money for a mansion, an equipage, a country house. But if I might buy estates too, wouldn’t it be stupid in me to lose such an opportunity ? Yes, I will keep the wonderful purse. So be it : I will fast one day more. As to that, I shall always have time enough for luxurious living.”

But what happens ? A day goes by, and then a week, a month, a year. Our Poor Man has long ago lost all count of the ducats. Meanwhile, he eats scantily, and drinks scantily. Scarcely has the day begun to break before he is back at the old work. The day comes to an end ; but, according to his calculations, something or other is still sure to be wanting. Sometimes he makes up his mind to throw away the purse. But then his heart grows faint within him. He reaches the bank of the river, and — then turns back again.

” How can I possibly part with the purse,” he says, ” while it yields a stream of gold of its own accord ? ”

By this time our poor friend has grown grey, and thin, and as yellow as his own gold. He no more so much as thinks about luxury now. He has become faint and feeble ; health and rest have utterly deserted him. But still with trembling hand he goes on taking ducats out of the purse. He takes, and takes; and how does it all end? On the bench on which he used to sit gloating over his wealth — on that very bench he dies, in the act of counting the last coins of his ninth million.

< < < The Elephant As Governor
The Quartette > > >

Russian LiteratureChildren BooksRussian PoetryIvan. A. KrylovContents

Copyright holders –  Public Domain Book

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