The Last Bargain by Rabindranath Tagore

“Come and hire me,” I cried, while in the morning I was walking on the stone-paved road.
Sword in hand, the King came in his chariot.
He held my hand and said, “I will hire you with my power.”
But his power counted for nought, and he went away in his chariot.

In the heat of the midday the houses stood with shut doors.
I wandered along the crooked lane.
An old man came out with his bag of gold.
He pondered and said, “I will hire you with my money.”
He weighed his coins one by one, but I turned away.

It was evening. The garden hedge was all aflower.
The fair maid came out and said, “I will hire you with a smile.”
Her smile paled and melted into tears, and she went back alone into the dark.

The sun glistened on the sand, and the sea waves broke waywardly.
A child sat playing with shells.
He raised his head and seemed to know me, and said, “I hire you with nothing.”
From thenceforward that bargain struck in child’s play made me a free man.

Summary

A man was looking for a job. He was willing to serve anybody on payment. He was waiting to be hired. He walked along the stony road for an employer. The king carrying a sword in his hand came in his open royal vehicle. He caught the man by the arm and said that he was ready to hire him with his power. But the offer was rejected as power had no attraction for the man. The king went away.

At midday it was hot and the houses had their doors shut. The man was going along the irregular lane. An old man on hearing his offer, came to hire him with his gold coins. He counted the coins one by one. But gold also could not persuade the man to sell his services.

It was evening. The hedges round the garden were laiden with flowers. A lovely maid came out and offered to hire him with her smile. But she too went away disappointed. Her smile turned into tears and she was lost in the dark.

In the setting sunlight the sand around seacoast shone golden. The sea waves beat their heads on the shore and broke up. A child sitting there was playing with sea-shells. He said to the man that he was ready to hire him but without any payment. The man finalised the deal. He joined the child in game and since then he felt like a free man.


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