Leo Tolstoy tells this story:
A young Russian inherits his father’s small farm. He immediately starts dreaming of how to expand his property when one morning a well-dressed stranger visits him and makes him an offer that is too good to be true.
He could have free of charge all the land he could cover in one day. The only condition was that he returned to the same spot from which he started, the grave of his father, before the sun went down.
Seeing the rich fields in the distance, the young man set out without taking any provisions or saying goodbye to his family. He figured he could cover six square miles in a day.
After a short while he decided to make it nine, then twelve and finally fifteen square miles.
By noon he makes it to the halfway point. Though hungry with his legs aching, he continued. He was near the point of exhaustion but the obsession to own the land drove him on.
With only a few minutes left before the sun went down, he gathered all his strength, stumbled across the line, the new owner of fifteen square miles of land. And then he collapsed on the ground, dead.
The stranger smiled and said, "I offered him all the land he could cover. Now you can see what that is, six feet long by two feet wide, and I thought he would like to have the land close to his father’s grave, rather than to have it anywhere else."
Having said that, the stranger whose name is Death vanishes, saying ‘I have kept my pledge.’
(based loosely on the story “How Much Land Does A Man Need?” by Leo Tolstoy)
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