“Do you not see?” replied the hermit. “If you had not pitied my weakness yesterday, and had not dug these beds for me, but had gone your way, that man would have attacked you, and you would have repented of not having stayed with me. So the most important time was when you were digging the beds; and I was the most important man; and to do me good was your most important business. Afterwards, when that man ran to us, the most important time was when you were attending to him, for if you had not bound up his wounds he would have died without having made peace with you. So he was the most important man, and what you did for him was your most important business. Remember then: there is only one time that is important – now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power. The most necessary person is the one with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with anyone else: and the most important affair is to do that person good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life.”
The hermit explained:
  • If the king had not helped him dig the ground, he would've left early, and the enemy (the bearded man) would have stabbed him.
  • But the king did the right thing - by taking pity on the hermit, he decided to help him.
  • That is the most important time that saved the king's life.
  • The most important person at that time, to the king - was the hermit.
  • The most important thing to do - was to do the hermit some good help.
Again, the same thing happened with the bearded man also:
  • The king cared for him the day before - the most important time.
  • The king dressed his wounds  - the most important thing to do.
  • The king cared for the man in pain - the most important person.
The hermit goes on to explain that, the most important time to do anything is NOW- because we have the power to act only in the present moment. The most important person is the person who you are with, at a particular time. No one knows what will happen in the future or whether we will meet anyone else. The most important business is to do good deeds because we were sent to this world only for that purpose.
Meaning of difficult words:
pitiedfelt sorrow for the hardships of someone
repentedfelt regret about one's wrongdoing or a sin
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2019). Term-2 English Standard-8. The Three Questions - Leo Tolstoy (retold) (pp. 102-112). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.