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Too Dear

2. Too Dear!
Leo Tolstoy
declare, source of pride
game of chance
Prohibited, Banned
anguish, depression
submerge and die.
owned, exclusively
control, rule
area controlled by a ruler.
convicted, damned
device for beheading a person
sinner, rogue, reprobate
a sole and absolute ruler
estimate, evaluate
called for, requested
serious thought, discussion
carry, bring
Crushed, destroyed
enmity, hatred
Where is the kingdom of Monaco?
The kingdom of Monaco lies on the shore of the
Mediterranean sea near the borders of France and Italy
On the shores of which sea is the kingdom of Monaco is located Mediterranean sea
What is the population of Monaco?
Seven thousand inhabitants
If the kingdom of Monaco were divided among its
inhabitants how much land would each inhabitant get?
Each inhabitant would get less than an acre.
How many men are there in the army of Monaco?
Sixty men
What are the items on which tax is levied in Monaco?
Tobacco, wine and spirits, and poll-tax
Why was it hard for the Prince to feed his courtiers and
officials and to keep himself?
As very few people in the kingdom drank and smoked the
revenue from the taxes on tobacco and on wine and spirits
was insufficient for the Prince to feed his courtiers and
officials and to keep himself.
What was the new and special source of revenue found
by the king?
Gaming house.
What did people play in the gaming house?
How did the king of Monaco supplement the kingdom's
He supplemented the kingdoms revenue by keeping to
himself the monopoly of the gaming business.
What did the king of Monaco consider dirty business?
Why were the German sovereigns forbidden from
keeping gaming houses? Why?
Gaming houses run by German sovereigns did a great deal
of harm to the people. Many a time gamblers who lost their
money in the German gaming houses, out of despair they
drowned or shot themselves.
What proverb does the writer mention to justify the
dirty business of gambling?
“You can't earn stone palaces by honest labor'
In what way does the Prince of Monaco hold his court
with all the ceremony of a real king?
The Prince of Monaco had his coronation, and his levees. He
also gave rewards, and awarded sentences and pardons. He
also held reviews, councils, laws and courts of justice.
What unusual crime was committed in the kingdom of Monaco?
A murder
In what manner was the criminal condemned to be executed?
The criminal was condemned to be executed by an
executioner using a guillotine machine.
What was the hitch in the execution of the criminal?
The kingdom of Monaco did not have either a guillotine
machine or a professional executioner.
How much did the French government expect from
machine and an expert?
The French Government offered to lend a machine and an
expert for a price of 16000 francs (16 thousand)
Who according to the council was a brother monarch?
The council of Monaco considered the king of Italy as a
brother monarch. (Monarchic type of government)
How much did the Italian government demand for the
It demanded 12000 francs(12 thousand) for lending the machine and the
services of an executioner. It also included the travelling expenses.
Too Dear – Comprehension I
1. Why ‘Monaco’ was called a ‘Toy Kingdom’?
Because it was a tiny little kingdom with a population of only about seven thousand people.
2. Name the commodities taxed in Monaco.
Tobacco, wine and spirits and poll-tax. They also introduced a new gaming tax.
3. What was the source of the King’s special revenue? Who were its beneficiaries?
The source of the king’s special revenue came from gambling called Roulette. The gaming
house-keeper got a percentage on the turnover of which h paid large sums to the king as tax.
4. Why did the Germans stop gaming houses in their country and how did it benefit Monaco?
The Germans stopped gaming-houses because many people lost all their money, also took
loans to gamble again to lose it. After risking all they had, they would drown or shoot
themselves, in despair. The prince of Monaco profited because his was the only gambling
house in the whole of Europe, where all would come to gamble.
5. What was the punishment given to the murderer?
The prisoner was sentenced to death by cutting – off his head.
6. The death sentence was converted into life imprisonment because
a. Monaco had abolished death penalty.
b. Carrying out death sentence was expensive.
c. Monaco wanted to show mercy on the criminal.
Ans: B. Carrying out death sentence was expensive.
7. How much did the king spend on the criminal, annually?
More than 600 Francs.
8. On what condition did the criminal agree to go away from the prison? Why was his demand
The prisoner agreed to go away if he were promised a sum of 600 Francs per year regularly.
Too Dear – Comprehension II
1. Though gambling is a dirty business, why does the king of Monaco resort to it?
As there was no other way to generate enough money to keep himself, his courtiers and
officials; this was the only new source of revenue.
2. Why did the king of Monaco keep changing his mind in dealing with the criminal?
Because of the expenses involved in carrying out the death sentence or in his imprisonment.
3. Why was the criminal reluctant to go out of the prison?
The criminal was reluctant to go out of the prison because he thought it would have been
better if his head was cut-off. Now, his character was ruined, the people will turn their backs
on him and he, during his imprisonment was adjusted to the lazy life, free food etc.
4. How did the criminal lead his life after his release?
The criminal received one third of his pension in advance, and went to another country not far
away and bought a small piece of land and started farming. He also drew his annual pension
and led an easy life. He also gambled a few Francs.
Too Dear – Comprehension III
1. ‘You can’t earn stone palaces by honest labor’ in what context in this statement made?
‘You can’t earn stone palaces by honest labor’. The king meant that if he does not tax people for
drinking and smoking tobacco and also gambling even though it is dirty business he can’t live
in a palace and pay his officials.
2. Though the trial and imprisonment of the criminal is depicted in a comic mode in this story,
it does give rise to serious questions. What are they?
A. Can a criminal or murderer be released with pension if the government cannot bear the
expense of his imprisonment?
B. Is it wise to promote, smoking, drinking and gambling just because it gives revenue to the
3. Were there other ways of dealing with crime and the criminal? Discuss in the light of the
Yes, crime can be kept under control if bad habits like drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco,
gambling are restricted.
1. Describe the attempts made by the ministers in solving the problem of cutting off
the criminal’s head?
Monaco was a tiny little kingdom on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, though there were
only seven thousand inhabitants, there was a real king and even an army. The people of this
country were peaceful but surprisingly a murder was committed. After much discussion, it
was decided to execute the criminal.
But in it the hitch was that, the kingdom had neither a guillotine nor an executioner.
Therefore they asked the government of France, to see if they could lend them one. France
offered to lend a guillotine and an executioner for 16000 francs. This could require levying
more taxes, so the king tried requesting his brother Monarch, the king of Italy. But they
asked for 12000 francs. It wasagain too expensive and therefore too dear. After this, they
asked soldiers to cut off the head of the criminal. But the soldiers refused stating that they
had not been taught how to do it- so, they cannot cut off the criminal.
2. In spite all of their efforts, the king and his team failed in punishing the criminal.
How is it narrated in the story, ‘Too Dear?’
Too Dear is a mockery of the judicial system. Discuss.
Trail and imprisonment represents the comic mood in this story.
Ans: ‘Too Dear’ is a short story by Leo Tolstoy which is a satire on the political structure of the
country and the decisions taken by themselves. Though the people of the tiny kingdom of
Monaco were peaceful, surprisingly a murder was committed. After much discussion the
criminal was sentenced to death. But there was a hitch, that is the kingdom neither had a
guillotine, nor had an executioner. So they thought of taking help from France and Italy.
Therefore they wrote letters and France and Italy demanded 16,000 and 12,000 France
respectively. So the king decided that it was too expensive therefore too dear. Then the army
general was asked if any soldier could cut the criminal’s head off but they refused stating that
they had not been trained to do it.
Later in the meeting the minister and lawyers decided to give the criminal life imprisonment.
Therefore, the death sentence was changed to life imprisonment.
In the prison, a security guard was to be employed and food to be served from palace kitchen.
But this venture cost 600 francs per year. So the king wanted to get rid of the criminal and
dismissed the guard. But the man didn’t run away from the prison. When the minsters asked
him to leave the prison he refused because he said that they had ruined his character by their
sentence and people would turn their back on him. Further that he had nowhere to go and
gone out or the way of working. Finally a pension of 600 Francs was offered and he was told to
quit the King’s Domain. His pension was thus confirmed and he accepted the offer on a
condition that eh would pay it regularly. Thus he crossed the frontier and started market
gardening and went to the kingdom to draw his pension on the right time, gambled and lived
Though the criminal is caught and the crime is established he is not punished. The judicial
system and the king are more worried about the expenses than justice. Hence it is a mockery of
the judicial system.
3. How did the criminal benefit from the pension he was offered in the lesson, ‘Too
How did the criminal spend his life after he was given a pension, in ‘Too Dear’
Ans: The prisoner could not be executed by the king and his ministers. So he was kept in prison
but in maintaining him the king was spending a huge amount, more than 600 Francs per year.
Therefore the prince and his ministers asked him to go out the prison but he was not ready to
do that, as they had ruined his character.
He agreed on one condition when they offered him the annual pension of 600 Francs till the
time he was alive. So the matter was settled. He received one third of his annuity in advance
and he left the King’s dominion. It was only a quarter of an hour by rail and he emigrated and
settled just across the frontier, where he bought a bit of land, started market gardening and
lived happily, comfortably. He always went at the proper time to draw his pension. After
receiving it he went to the gaming tables, staked two or three Francs, he won some times, lost
sometimes and returned home. He lived peaceably and well.
The good thing was that he had not committed the crime in a country where they do not
grudge the expense to cut a man’s head off, or to keep him in prison for life.
What were the arguments put forth by the prisoner for not running away from the prison?
Ans: At the beginning of the story, the commission announced death sentence for the prisoner
but they were unable to execute the criminal. So the death sentence was changed to
imprisonment for life. But that turned out to be too expensive. Thus the guard was dismissed
and the prisoner was allowed to run away.
But the prisoner did not run away from the prison because he and nowhere to go. Further they
had ruined his character by their sentence and people will turn their backs on him. Besides he
had gone out of the way of the way of working. They had treated him badly. It was not fair. In
the first place they sentenced him to death. They ought to have executed him, but they did not.
He had not complained about that. Then they sentenced him to life imprisonment and put a
guard to bring him his food, but after a while they took him away again the criminal had to
fetch his own food. Again he did not complain. The prince and the ministers actually wanted
him to go away, he did not agree to that. He said that they might do as they liked but he would
not go away.
4. Though gambling is a dirty business, why does the king of Monaco resort to it and how
did he justify?
How did the Kinglet feed his courtiers and all?
How did the prince justify having a gaming house?
Ans: The population of Monaco was very small. There were only about seven thousand
inhabitants. There are taxes in this kingdom, a tax on tobacco, and on wine and spirits and poll
tax. But becauseof less population the revenue generated from them is not as same as other
countries. Therefore the prince would have found it hard to feed his courtiers and officials and
to keep himself, if he had not found a new and special source of revenue. It is from the gaming
house where people play roulette. After the game, whether people win or lose he always get a
percentage from the turnover and from the profits, he is paid a large sum to the prince.
It is the only gambling house left in Europe. Though some of the little Germansovereigns used
to keep gaming houses of some kind, and some years ago they were forbidden to do so, as it
did much harm. A man would come and try his luck, he would risk all he had and after losing it
he would risk the money that is not his. After losing all the money in despair he would shoot or
drown himself. So the Germans forbade their rulers to make money in this way, but there was
no one to stop the prince of Monaco and he remained with a monopoly of the business.
So now everyone who wants to gamble goes to Monaco, whether they win or lose the prince
earns and gains from it. ‘You can’t earn stone palaces by honest labor’ as the proverb says. The
kinglet of Monaco knows that it is a dirty business, he has no other option. He has to live, and
draw a revenue from drink, tobacco and other things. So he lives and reigns and takes in the
money. And hold his court with all the ceremonies of a real king.
The End