All is well in the kingdom of Monaco until a man commits a murder. The king had never had to deal with a murderer before, and after the judicial process had run its course and the man had been sentenced to death, he runs into considerable trouble trying to carry out the sentence. Monaco has no guillotine and no executioner, so they ask the government of France to see if they could borrow them. France offers to send a guillotine and an executioner for 16,000 francs. This would require levying more taxes, so the king tries requesting help from the king of Italy, but the cost would only be somewhat lower at 12,000 francs. The decision is made to simply keep the murderer imprisoned for life.
Life imprisonment, however, presents its own set of problems. There needs to be a guard at all times, and the man has to be fed. The yearly costs are calculated to be 600 francs, which would still necessitate an increase of taxes. It is decided that the guard should be dismissed, even at the risk of losing the prisoner.
The prisoner, however, does not try to escape and continues to eat the food provided by the government. The Minister of Justice decides that the criminal is not worth the trouble and asks him why he does not escape. The criminal responds that he has nowhere to go in Monaco and that his reputation is ruined. He is finally given an annual salary by the government to remain in exile just outside of the country.
- "The Works of Tolstoi." Black's Readers Service Company: Roslyn, New York. 1928.