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Chapter 8: The Tale of Melon City
In the city of which I sing
There was a just and placid King.
The King proclaimed an arch should be
Constructed, that triumphally
Would span the major thoroughfare
To edify spectators there.
The workmen went and built the thing.
They did so since he was the King.
The King rode down the thoroughfare
To edify spectators there.
Under the arch he lost his crown.
The arch was built too low. A frown
Appeared upon his placid face.
The King said, ‘This is a disgrace.
The chief of builders will be hanged.’
The rope and gallows were arranged.
The chief of builders was led out.
He passed the King. He gave a shout,
‘O King, it was the workmen’s fault’
‘Oh!’ said the King, and called a halt
To the proceedings. Being just
(And placider now) he said, ‘I must
Have all the workmen hanged instead.’
The workmen looked surprised, and said,
‘O King, you do not realise
The bricks were made of the wrong size.’
‘Summon the masons!’ said the King.
The masons stood there quivering.
‘It was the architect…’, they said,
The architect was summoned.
‘Well, architect,’ said His Majesty.
‘I do ordain that you shall be
Hanged.’ Said the architect, ‘O King,
You have forgotten one small thing.
You made certain amendments to
The plans when I showed them to you.’
The King heard this. The King saw red.
In fact he nearly lost his head;
But being a just and placid King
He said, ‘This is a tricky thing.
I need some counsel. Bring to me
The wisest man in this country.’
The wisest man was found and brought,
Nay, carried, to the Royal Court.
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NCERT Solutions Class 11 English Chapter 8 The Tale of Melon City
1. Narrate ‘The Tale of Melon City’ in your own words.
Once upon a time, there reigned a calm king. He once wanted to build an arch that would eddy the people. The king’s wish was quickly fulfilled, and a beautiful arch was built.
When the king rode down the thoroughfare, his crown fell from his head and was struck by the arch, which was built too low. The king thought it was a disgrace to him and wanted to hang the perpetrator.
He commanded the chief of the builders to be hanged. The chief then stated that it was the builders’ fault. The king then shifted the blame to the builders. The builders then cried that because the bricks were larger, the architect should be hanged. As a result, the architect was finally punished. The architect reminded the king that the king had made some changes to the design he had shown him. It had finally turned to face the king.
He paused for a moment before ordering the soldiers to bring the wisest man in the country. They brought an old man who could barely see or hear, as the king had ordered. He proposed that the arch be hanged because it was the source of such disgrace, which was immediately implemented. Then one of the ministers disagreed, asking how they could shamelessly hang an arch. The king then reversed his decision and decided to deal with it his way.
They said the nation wanted someone hanged right away, so every man was measured, and only one man was tall enough to get trapped in the arch, and that man was the king. As a result, he was eventually hanged.
The country’s people then desired a new king. They asked the first person to pass through the city gate, as is their custom. Regrettably, the individual was insane. When the soldiers questioned him about who should be the next king, he said, “Who should be the next king?” He said melon because he liked them the best. So a melon was finally crowned and placed on the throne.
2. What impression would you form of a state where the King was ‘just and placid’?
A state in which the king is just and peaceful will not be secure. It is the same in the state described in this poem. The king was so stupid that he convicted himself to death for no reason. He felt insecure in the actions he took and kept changing them. In such a state, no right decision can be made and no situation can be handled properly.
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