“The old banker was walking up and down his study and remembering how, fifteen years before, he had given up a party one autumn evening.”
i) What had happened fifteen years ago?
Answer : Fifteen years ago, the banker had given a party. At the party there had been a lively discussion about which was better capital punishment of life imprisonment and the banker had made a bet with the lawyer.
ii) Who had attended the party?
Answer : There were many people at the party and it was well attended. There had been many clever men there. The majority of the guests were journalists and intellectual men from eminent fields.
iii) There was an intense discussion at the party. What was the topic of discussion?
Answer : The topic of debate at the party was whether capital punishment was better or life imprisonment. Many of them disapproved of the death penalty. They argued that death penalty ought to be replaced by imprisonment of life.
iv) What was the banker’s view on the topic? How did the lawyer react to it?
Answer : The host of the party, the banker, said that he was not in favour of life imprisonment. He thought that death penalty was much more humane. However, the lawyer said that he was in favour of life imprisonment to death penalty.
v) What bet did the banker and the lawyer have?
Answer : A heated discussion arose when the lawyer said that he would prefer life imprisonment to death penalty. The banker thought that he would not last even five years. The lawyer said that he was ready to spend fifteen. The banker bet his two million roubles against fifteen years of solitary confinement for the lawyer.
“When the banker had read this he laid the page on the table, kissed the strange man on the head, and went out of the lodge, weeping.”
i) What had the baker read? What was his reaction?
Answer : The banker had read the statement written by his captive, the lawyer. He was full of remorse on reading this and kissed the lawyer on forehead. Then, he left the room weeping.
ii) What was written on the page? Describe in brief.
Answer : The lawyer had written that he had been enlightened. He had no wish of freedom or of the banker’s money. He despised the hypocrite world. He wanted to prove it by leaving the lodge before the stipulated time.
iii) Who was the strange man in the lodge? Why was he in the edge?
Answer : The strange man in the lodge was the lawyer. He was in the lodge for the last fifteen years as he had a bet with the banker. He wanted to win the bet to prove his point.
iv) How did the banker feel after reading what was written on the page?
Answer : The banker was full of disgust for himself. He wanted to kill the lawyer for the fear that he would have to pay him two million roubles. It meant that he would go bankrupt. He was afraid that the lawyer might win the bet and he will end up as a beggar.
v) What had the banker done fifteen years ago that he was lamenting at the present?
Answer : Fifteen years ago, the banker was rich and haughty and he had made a bet with the lawyer that he would pay him two million roubles if he spent fifteen years in solitary confienment. However, he had lost his fortunes during this period and was now lamenting on what he had done.
Long Answer Type Questions
Answer : The old banker was remembering the things that happened at a party thrown by him fifteen years ago. There were many clever intelligent men at the meeting and the topic of discussion was death penalty versus life imprisonment. The banker was of the view that death penalty was more humane but the lawyer thought otherwise. A lively discussion arose. The banker got carried away and said that he would bet two million roubles if the lawyer spent five years in solitary confinement. The lawyer said that he would spend fifteen years and the bet was finalised.
The banker remembered the things that followed. It was decided that the lawyer would spend the years of his captivity under the strictest supervision in one of the lodges in the banker’s garden. It was to be a solitary confinement for fifteen years, with no contact with the outside world, not even letters or newspapers. However, he was entitled to have musical instruments and books, was allowed to write letters and to drink and smoke. If any of the conditions of the term were broken even two minutes before the decided time, the banker would be released from the obligation of paying him.
Somehow fifteen years had passed and the day of his release had finally come. He was about to regain his freedom but the banker was about to be ruined. He had lost all his fortunes. The banker could not afford to pay him. He was jealous to think that he would be a beggar but the lawyer would enjoy his riches. He wanted to kill him and get done with it. Very cautiously, he approached the lodge. The watchman was nowhere to be seen. The prisoner was sitting but did not stir when the door was opened. He lawyer was just forty but looked old and emaciated. The had written a letter to his jailer.
The lawyer had written that he despised freedom, life and health. He had no intention of taking the banker’s money. He had learnt that material gains meant nothing in life. He had become wiser than all those who ran after such things. He was fed up of the illusory of the world that lay before him. He wanted to prove his point and thus decided to forfeit the bet by leaving the cell early. The banker was filled with disgust for himself. He had tears in his eyes. The lawyer escaped as promised but the banker was left feeling a great contempt at himself and his doing.