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If You Neglect the Little Fire You Can't Put Out the Big One

Leo Tolstoy (1885)

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A great moral tale and reminder on how thirst for revenge can escalate and have serious unexpected consequences.

Translated by N. and A.C. Fifield.

Wikipedia: Quench the Spark

Scan: Popular stories and legends (page 19)


In a certain village there lived a peasant called Iván Shtcherbakoff. He was doing well, he was in the full strength of his years and the best workman in the village, and he had three grown up sons: one was married, one was about to marry, and the third was a lad who could drive the horses, and was beginning to plough. Iván’s old wife was a clever and thrifty housekeeper, and his daughter-in-law quiet and industrious. The only one of the family who had to be fed and could not work was Iván’s old father, who had been lying on the oven very bad with asthma for the last seven years. Iván had plenty of everything: three horses and a foal, a cow with a calf, and fifteen sheep. The women made the men’s clothes and their footwear, and worked in the fields, and the men earned the bread. There was always food enough, always last year’s corn left over after the new crops. The oats alone paid all the taxes and their usual necessities. Iván might have lived in peace and content with his children, but over the hedge lived his neighbour Gabriel the Lame— the son of Gordey Ivanoff. And there was hatred between Gabriel and Iván.

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