1. The Adventure of Toto Introduction


The Adventure of Toto

By Ruskin Bond

The Adventure of Toto Introduction

This is a humorous and exciting storey about a mischievous monkey named 'Toto.' The monkey was purchased by the writer's grandfather from a tonga driver. Toto's pranks have been described in an engaging manner, making the storey a must-read for us.

The Adventure of Toto Summary

The writer's grandfather collected animals and kept a zoo at home. He once paid five rupees to a tonga driver for a monkey named Toto.

Because the grandmother disliked animals, Toto was kept hidden. Toto was a devious character. When the writer and his grandfather locked Toto in a cupboard and tied him to a hook, he broke the hook and wrecked the room. When he was kept in the servants' room with other animals the next day, he did not let them sleep all night.

Because grandfather needed to go to Saharanpur for work, he decided to bring the monkey with him. He carried Toto in a strong canvas bag and nicely closed the zip so Toto couldn't escape. Toto tried unsuccessfully to get out of the bag, causing the back to jump and roll. This attracted the attentions of fellow passengers at the train station. When grandfather was getting his ticket checked at the Saharanpur railway station, Toto peeked out of his bag and smiled at the ticket collector. Due to the ticket collector's declaration that it was a dog, grandfather was forced to purchase a ticket for 3 rupees, much to his great annoyance.

When grandmother accepted Toto, he was given a place in the stable with Nana, the donkey. Toto had a difficult relationship with Nana.

During the winter, Toto enjoyed taking baths in warm water. He nearly boiled himself one day when he jumped into a kettle of boiling water. Toto ate the family meal of pulao one afternoon. He thrown the empty dish from the tree, shattering it into several pieces. Toto's misbehaviour grew worse by the day, and grandfather realised they couldn't keep him at home any longer. Finally, he contacted the same Tongan driver and returned Toto to him for three rupees.

The Adventure of Toto Lesson Explanation

GRANDFATHER bought Toto from a tonga-driver for the sum of five rupees. The tonga-driver used to keep the little red monkey tied to a feeding-trough, and the monkey looked so out of place there that Grandfather decided he would add the little fellow to his private zoo.

  • Feeding-trough: a large container for feeding animals
  • Tonga: horse cart

The writer's grandfather paid a tonga driver five rupees to buy a monkey named Toto. To prevent the little red-colored monkey from fleeing, the tonga driver had tied him to a feeding trough. When the writer's grandfather saw the monkey, he wanted to add him to his collection of animals in his home zoo.

Toto was a pretty monkey. His bright eyes sparkled with mischief beneath deep-set eyebrows, and his teeth, which were a pearly white, were very often displayed in a smile that frightened the life out of elderly Anglo-lndian ladies. But his hands looked dried-up as though they had been pickled in the sun for many years. Yet his fingers were quick and wicked; and his tail, while adding to his good looks (Grandfather believed a tail would add to anyone’s good looks), also served as a third hand. He could use it to hang from a branch; and it was capable of scooping up any delicacy that might be out of reach of his hands.

  • Anglo-lndian: a person relating to both britain and india
  • Pickled: food that is preserved in vinegar
  • scooping up: lifting

Toto is described by the author. He had bright, gleaming eyes that were brimming with mischief. His brows were firmly set on his face. His teeth were as white as pearls. Many ladies from the Anglo-Indian community were terrified when they saw his teeth when he smiled. Toto's hands were wrinkled and dry, as if they had been sun-dried like pickled vegetables. He had a very long tail. The tail, according to the writer's grandfather, added to an animal's good looks. Toto's tail served as a third hand for him. It enabled him to dangle from a tree branch. He also used it to lift objects that were out of reach of his hands.

Grandmother always fussed when Grandfather brought home some new bird or animal. So it was decided that Toto’s presence should be kept a secret from her until she was in a particularly good mood. Grandfather and I put him away in a little closet opening into my bedroom wall, where he was tied securely — or so we thought — to a peg fastened into the wall.

  • Peg: a hook

The grandfather's attitude of bringing new pets – birds and animals – was opposed by the writer's grandmother. So the grandfather reasoned that they would keep this information from her until she was in a good mood. They would tell her about it at the time. Toto was secured in a small cupboard in the writer's room by the writer and his grandfather. To prevent Toto from escaping, they tied him to a hook in the wall.

A few hours later, when Grandfather and I came back to release Toto, we found that the walls, which had been covered with some ornamental paper chosen by Grandfather, now stood out as naked brick and plaster. The peg in the wall had been
wrenched from its socket, and my school blazer, which had been hanging there, was in shreds. I wondered what Grandmother would say. But Grandfather didn’t worry; he seemed pleased with Toto’s performance.

  • Ornamental: decorative
  • Naked: uncovered
  • Wrenched: broke
  • Socket: attachment
  • Shreds: cut into thin slices

After a few hours, the writer and his grandfather went to Toto. The scene was horrifying. The decorative wallpaper had been ripped by Toto. He'd broken the hook and gotten free of his shackles. He also ripped the writer's balzer into thin pieces.

“He’s clever,” said Grandfather. “Given time, I’m sure he could have tied the torn pieces of your blazer into a rope, and made his escape from the window!”

The grandfather was overjoyed to witness Toto's adventure. Toto, he thought, was very clever. He claimed that if they had given him more time, he would have made a rope out of the thin pieces of the writer's torn blazer and escaped through the window.

His presence in the house still a secret, Toto was now transferred to a big cage in the servants’ quarters where a number of Grandfather’s pets lived very sociably together — a tortoise, a pair of rabbits, a tame squirrel and, for a while, my pet goat. But the monkey wouldn’t allow any of his companions to sleep at night; so Grandfather, who had to leave Dehradun next day to collect his pension in Saharanpur, decided to take him along.

  • Sociably: in a friendly manner

Toto was relocated to the servant quarters. He was placed in a cage. He'd live in grandfather's zoo with the other animals. The zoo included a tortoise, two rabbits, a squirrel, and the writer's pet goat. Toto was a devious character. He refused to allow the animals to sleep at night. The next day, the writer's grandfather had to leave for Saharanpur. He decided to bring Toto because he was uncontrollable.

Unfortunately, I could not accompany Grandfather on that trip, but he told me about it afterwards. A big black canvas kit-bag was provided for Toto. This, with some straw at the bottom, became his new abode. When the bag was closed, there was no escape. Toto could not get his hands through the opening, and the canvas was too strong for him to bite his way through. His efforts to get out only had the effect of making the bag roll about on the floor or occasionally jump into the air — an exhibition that attracted a curious crowd of onlookers on the Dehra Dun railway platform.

  • Abode: home

The writer was disappointed because he was unable to accompany his grandfather and Toto on their trip. Later, his grandfather recounted the events of the trip to him. He'd gotten Toto a special bag. It was made of a tough material called canvas. He stuffed some dry grass into the bag's bottom. Toto's home on the trip would be the bag, as he would live in it. The bag had a zipper on the top. Toto would not be able to escape from the bag once it was closed, according to the writer's grandfather. He couldn't get out of the opening because it was closed with a zipper, and it couldn't escape by biting the strong canvas material. Despite this, Toto made several unsuccessful attempts to escape from the bag. As a result, the bag would frequently roll on the floor or leap into the air. The people on the railway platform were attracted by these movements and wanted to know what was inside the bag.

Toto remained in the bag as far as Saharanpur, but while Grandfather was producing his ticket at the railway turnstile, Toto suddenly poked his head out of the bag and gave the ticket collector a wide grin.

  • Turnstile: a mechanical gate consisting of revolving horizontal arms fixed to a vertical post, allowing only one person at a time to pass-through

Toto remained safe in his grandfather's bag until they arrived in Saharanpur. The writer's grandfather was preparing to cross the turnstile at the Saharanpur railway station. Toto peeks out of the bag and smiled at the ticket collector at the time.

The poor man was taken aback; but, with great presence of mind and much to Grandfather’s annoyance, he said, “Sir, you have a dog with you. You’ll have to pay for it accordingly.”

  • Annoyance:  to anger someone

The ticket collector was astonished when he noticed a monkey in grandfather's back. He quickly recovered and asked his grandfather to pay the ticket cost for travelling with a dog.

In vain did Grandfather take Toto out of the bag; in vain did he try to prove that a monkey did not qualify as a dog, or even as a quadruped. Toto was classified a dog by the ticket-collector, and three rupees was the sum handed over as his fare.

  • Vain:  an unsuccessful attempt
  • Quadruped:  an animal which has 4 feet
  • Fare:  ticket price

Grandfather was unable to convince the ticket collector that Toto was a monkey, not a dog. He insisted that Toto was not even a four-legged animal. However, the ticket collector was adamant that Toto belonged in the category of dogs. Toto's ticket cost, Grandfather had paid three rupees.

Then Grandfather, just to get his own back, took from his pocket our pet tortoise, and said, “What must I pay for this, since you charge for all animals?”

  • To get his own back (idiom):  to take revenge

Grandfather was disappointed, so he took his pet tortoise from his pocket to exact revenge on the ticket collector. He inquired as to whether he, too, was required to purchase a ticket.

The ticket collector looked closely at the tortoise, prodded it with his forefinger, gave Grandfather a pleased and triumphant look, and said, “No charge. It is not a dog.”

  • Prodded:  pushed

The ticket collector examined the tortoise closely, pushed it slightly, and announced that grandfather did not need to purchase a ticket for it because it was not classified as a dog.

When Toto was finally accepted by Grandmother he was given a comfortable home in the stable, where he had for a companion the family donkey, Nana. On Toto’s first night in the stable, Grandfather paid him a visit to see if he was comfortable. To his surprise he found Nana, without apparent cause, pulling at her halter and trying to keep her head as far as possible from a bundle of hay.

  • Stable:  building set apart  and adapted for keeping horses
  • Halter:  a strap or loop placed around the head of a horse or other animal,  used for leading or tethering it

Toto's presence in the house was finally discovered by the writer's grandmother. She gave him a space in the stable, alongside the family donkey Nana. Grandfather paid Toto a visit on his first night in the stable. Nana was restless, pulling on its rope to keep away from the haystack.

Grandfather gave Nana a slap across her haunches, and she jerked back, dragging Toto with her. He had fastened on to her long ears with his sharp little teeth.
Toto and Nana never became friends.

  • Haunches: back

Grandfather hit Nana on the back to put a stop to it. Nana jerked back, and Toto was dragged along with her.

A great treat for Toto during cold winter evenings was the large bowl of warm water given him by Grandmother for his bath. He would cunningly test the temperature with his hand, then gradually step into the bath, first one foot, then the other (as he had seen me doing), until he was into the water up to his neck. Once comfortable, he would take the soap in his hands or feet, and rub himself all over. When the water became cold, he would get out and run as quickly as he could to the kitchen-fire in order to dry himself. If anyone laughed at him during this performance, Toto’s feelings would be hurt and he would refuse to go on with his bath. One day Toto nearly succeeded in boiling himself alive.

Toto loved taking warm baths during the winter. He'd pretend to be selfish and check the temperature of the water before starting his bath. He followed the writer's example and stepped into the tub one foot at a time. Finally, he would sit in the water with his face above the surface. He'd then rub himself with soap. When the water became cold, he would dash to the stove in the kitchen to dry himself. Toto became irritated when he was laughed at, and he refused to take a bath as a result. The author recalls an incident in which Toto nearly boiled himself.

A large kitchen kettle had been left on the fire to boil for tea and Toto, finding himself with nothing better to do, decided to remove the lid. Finding the water just warm enough for a bath, he got in, with his head sticking out from the open kettle. This was just fine for a while, until the water began to boil. Toto then raised himself a little; but, finding it cold outside, sat down again. He continued hopping up and down for some time, until Grandmother arrived and hauled him, half-boiled, out of the kettle.

  • Hauled him:  pulled him out

On the stove, water was boiling in a large kettle. Toto climbed to the top of the stove and removed the lid. He thought the water was warm enough to take a bath in. With his head out of the kettle, he entered it. Toto became hot when the water began to boil. He considered getting out of the kettle, but the temperature outside was too cold for him, so he stayed in it. For a while, Toto continued to jump in the cattle. When the writer's grandmother arrived, she took the half-baked monkey from the kettle.

If there is a part of the brain especially devoted to mischief, that part was largely developed in Toto. He was always tearing things to pieces. Whenever one of my aunts came near him, he made every effort to get hold of her dress and tear a hole in it.

If there is a part of our brain that governs our ability to cause mischief, Toto's brain had a highly developed part because he had a great capacity for mischief. He was always busy doing mischief. He tried to tear the writer's aunts' dresses whenever they passed him.

One day, at lunchtime, a large dish of pullao stood in the centre of the dining-table. We entered the room to find Toto stuffing himself with rice. My grandmother screamed — and Toto threw a plate at her. One of my aunts rushed forward — and received a glass of water in the face. When Grandfather arrived, Toto picked up the dish of pullao and made his exit through a window. We found him in the branches of the jackfruit tree, the dish still in his arms. He remained there all afternoon, eating slowly through the rice, determined on finishing every grain. And then, in order to spite Grandmother, who had screamed at him, he threw the dish down from the tree, and chattered with delight when it broke into a hundred pieces.

  • Spite:  a desire to hurt,  annoy or offend someone
  • Chattered:  the sound made by the monkey

The author recalls another incident in which Toto caused a lot of trouble. A dish of rice was placed on the dining table at lunchtime. When the family went to eat, they discovered Toto eating it. Toto screamed by the writer's grandmother, and in response, he threw a plate at her. When Toto's aunts tried to apprehend him, he threw a glass of water in their faces. When the grandfather arrived, Toto exited through a window, carrying the dish of rice with him. Toto was gone the entire afternoon. He sat on a Jackfruit tree branch, determined to consume all of the rice.

Obviously Toto was not the sort of pet we could keep for long. Even Grandfather realised that. We were not well-to-do, and could not afford the frequent loss of dishes, clothes, curtains and wallpaper. So Grandfather found the tonga-driver, and sold Toto back to him — for only three rupees.

Finally, grandfather realised that Toto could not be kept at home. They couldn't afford the frequent losses he inflicted on them. He ripped clothes, curtains, wallpaper, and dishes. As a result, the grandfather sold Toto to the same Tongan driver for three rupees.

About the Author

Ruskin Bond is a well-known contemporary Indian writer of British origin. He wrote numerous inspiring children's books and was honoured with the Sahitya Akademi Award for his literary work. He was born on May 19, 1934, in Kasauli, India, to Edith Clarke and Aubrey Bond.