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WHAT MEN LIVE BY

Leo Tolstoy Simon was a poor shoemaker who did not have house or land of his own. He used to stay in a peasant’s house and earned his living by work to feed his wife and children. He and his wife had to share the same sheepskin coat during winter as the money he earned was spent only on food. Even that coat was worn out and he needed another one before winter. He had some money saved by his wife for purpose and there which he was supposed to get from his customers. But when he went to collect them, it was of no avail as all the customers turned him down on some plea or the other. Then he decided to buy the sheepskin on credit, but even the dealer did not oblige. That day, he only managed to get a small amount of money for his labour and took home another pair of felt boots for repair. Without knowing what to do with the little money, he went for a couple of drinks to warm himself.As he was returning home, he saw a man sitting naked and motionless against a shrine. After a second thought, Simon felt pity on him. He gave the stranger his coat and his felt boots to wear and he took him home. Meanwhile, Simon’s wife Matrena had already fed her children, ate herself and was waiting for her husband to return home with only a little amount of food left. When she saw her husband was drunk and also brought a stranger along with him, she became very annoyed. But immediately after that, she too felt pity for the stranger. She offered both with whatever little food she had. At this, the stranger just gave a little smile, but did not say anything to all the queries that he was asked. The next morning, Simon told the stranger, who then identified himself as Michael that he had to work for food. And surprisingly enough, Michael learned the trade of shoe-making very fast. Within one year, his fame spread far and wide and Simon’s family became quite well-off.Then one day, a gentleman who was sufficiently well built came with a piece of leather from which he wanted to make a long pair of boots that would last for one year. At that moment, Michael smiled for the second time, during his stay with Simon. After the gentleman was gone, Michael got down to work and instead of making boots, he prepared a pair of soft slippers which astonished Simon a lot. But some time the gentleman’s servant came and told that his master was already dead and the boots would be of no use and his mistress asked for a pair of soft slippers instead. Some six years passed by when one day a lady came to Simon’s place with two young girls, one of them crippled in one leg. Michael was pretty excited on seeing them and he smiled for the third time now. The woman told that those were not her daughters but she reared them very fondly after their mother had died. After the woman went away with the girls, Michael rose to speak about himself saying that now God has forgiven him. He was actually an angel of God, who was sent to get the soul of the mother of those girls. As he became emotional, God punished him, to live like human beings on earth and learn- what dwells in man? What is given to man? And what men live by? Michael who is in fact a good angel learnt these three answers by the three incidents by which he smiled. First he learned from Simon’s wife that love dwells in man. On the second occasion, he smiled and made the slippers because he knew the gentleman was not going to live to wear the boots as he could see the angel of death standing behind him. He got the second reply that it is not given to man to know his own needs. Finally on the third occasion, he realized that all men live not by the thoughts they spend in their own welfare, but because love exist in man.