English CBSE Class 10 NCERT Footprints Without Feet Chapter 1 A Triumph of Surgery Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words



I was really worried about Tricki this time. I had pulled up my car when I saw him in the street with his mistress and I was shocked at his appearance.


Word Meaning
Mistress Lady owner
Pulled up Stopped car for a shot time
Shocked Surprised and upset


Tricki is name of a dog. The author (Dr. Herriot) says that he was really worried about Tricki. When I saw him with his mistress in the street, I stopped my car. I was upset to see appearance of Tricki.



He had become hugely fat, like a bloated sausage with a leg at each corner. His eyes, bloodshot and rheumy, stared straight ahead and his tongue lolled from his jaws.


Word Meaning
Bloated Swollen
Sausage A cylindrical dish of meat
Rheumy Watery, Filled with water
Lolled Hanging out


He had become very fat. He looked like a swollen sausage. One could see a leg at each corner of his huge body. His eyes were red and watery. He was looking in front of him. His tongue was hanging out of his mouth.

Mrs Pumphrey hastened to explain, “He was so listless, Mr Herriot. He seemed to have no energy.


Word Meaning
Hasten To do quickly
Listless Lazy
Veterinary doctor Doctor of animal


Mrs. Pumphery is owner of Tricki. Mr. Herriot is a veterinary doctor. Mrs. Pumphery quickly explained to Mr Herriot that Tricky had become lazy. He does not have any energy.



I thought he must be suffering from malnutrition, so I have been giving him some little extras between meals to build him up, some malt and cod-liver oil and a bowl of Horlicks at night to make him sleep — nothing much really.”


Word Meaning
Malnutrition Inadequate or unhealthy diet
Build up Make stronger


Mrs. Pumphery explains. She thought that Tricki was suffering because of unhealthy diet. So she had started feeding him something extra between his meals. She did this to make it stronger. She gave him some malt, cod-liver oil during day time. And a bowl of Horlicks in the night so that he could sleep well. She says that she did not feed him more.

“And did you cut down on the sweet things as I told you?” “Oh, I did for a bit, but he seemed to be so weak I had to relent. He does love ream cakes and chocolates so. I can’t bear to refuse him.”


Word Meaning
Cut down Reduce
For a bit For sometime
Relent To change one’s mind, To allow again
Bear Tolerate


Mr. Herriot asked if she reduced feeding sweets to Tricki. She replied that she reduced for some time. But he was very weak so I again started giving him sweets. He likes ream cakes and chocolates. Hence I cannot tolerate to refuse him.

I looked down again at the little dog. That was the trouble. Tricki’s only fault was greed. He had never been known to refuse food; he would tackle a meal at any hour of the day or night.

I looked at the small dog again. Now I understood the problem. The fault of the Tricki was that he was very greedy. He had never refused to take food. He would eat any time of day or night.

And I wondered about all the things Mrs Pumphrey hadn’t mentioned. “Are you giving him plenty of exercise?”


Word Meaning
Mentioned Told
Plenty Lot of


I tried to imagine many things that Mrs. Pumphery had not told me. I asked her if she was exercising her dog a lot.

“Well, he has his little walks with me as you can see, but Hodgkin, the gardener, has been down with lumbago, so there has been no ring-throwing lately.”


Word Meaning
Lumbago Back pain
Ring throw Game played with a rubber ring


She replied that the dog used to walk along with his mistress. Her gardener Hodgkin was suffering from back pain. So, the game of ring-throw has not been played these days.

I tried to sound severe: “Now I really mean this. If you don’t cut his food right down and give him more exercise he is going to be really ill. You must harden your heart and keep him on a very strict diet.”


Word Meaning
Severe Strict, Harsh
Cut down Reduce
Harden your heart Stop being sympathetic


Now I spoke with strictness. I am seriously telling you. If you do not immediately reduce his food and increase his exercises, he will certainly become ill. You must become less sympathetic to your dog. The dog must be on a strict diet.

Mrs Pumphrey wrung her hands. “Oh I will, Mr Herriot. I’m sure you are right, but it is so difficult, so very difficult.” She set off, head down, along the road, as if determined to put the new regime into practice immediately.


Word Meaning
Wrung Pressed hard
Set off Begin, Depart
Regime Rule, System
Practice To apply, To implement


Mrs. Pumphery pressed her hands together and said she will surely do it. She said that Dr. Herriot was right but it was very difficult. (To feed less to Tricki). She started walking on the road. Her head was down. It looked she was determined to follow the new arrangement immediately.

I watched their progress with growing concern. Tricki was tottering along in his little tweed coat; he had a whole wardrobe of these coats — for the cold weather and a raincoat for the wet days.


Word Meaning
Concern Worry
Totter To walk with difficulty
Tweed Type of cloth


With increasing worry I watched them walk. Tricki was walking with difficulty. He was wearing a tweed coat. His wardrobe was full of coats. Coats for cold weather and a raincoat for rainy days.

He struggled on, drooping in his harness. I thought it wouldn’t be long before I heard from Mrs. Pumphrey.


Word Meaning
Drooping Bending
Harness Strap for tying animal


Tricki walked with difficulty. He was bent in his strap. I was sure that very soon Mrs. Pumphery would give me a call.

The expected call came within a few days. Mrs Pumphrey was distraught. Tricki would eat nothing. Refused even his favourite dishes; and besides, he had bouts of vomiting. He spent all his time lying on a rug, panting. Didn’t want to go for walks, didn’t want to do anything.


Word Meaning
Distraught Worried, Upset
Besides Additionally
Bouts Instances, Spell
Panting Breathing rapidly


Within few days Mrs. Humprey called me. She was very worried. Tricki was not eating anything. He refused to eat even his favourite dishes. In addition to it he had vomited. All the time he was lying on his blanket and breathing quickly. He did not want to walk. He did not want to do anything.

I had made my plans in advance. The only way was to get Tricki out of the house for a period. I suggested that he be hospitalised for about a fortnight to be kept under observation.


Word Meaning
Fortnight 15 days


I had planned my answer in advance. I was sure that Tricki had to be taken out of that house. That was the only way to treat him. I suggested Mrs. Pumphery to hospitalize Tricki for about 15 days to keep him under observation.

The poor lady almost swooned. She was sure he would pine and die if he did not see her every day.


Word Meaning
Swoon To faint
Pine Sad because away from someone


The lady almost fainted. She was sure that Tricki would surely miss her. He would die if he did not see her every day.

But I took a firm line. Tricki was very ill and this was the only way to save him; in fact, I thought it best to take him without delay and, followed by Mrs. Pumphrey’s wailings, I marched out to the car carrying the little dog wrapped in a blanket.


Word Meaning
Wail To weep loudly
Wrapped Covered


But I was very strict this time. Tricki was very sick. In fact I thought that best way to save him would be to take him immediately. So I carried the little dog in my lap and got into my car. The dog was covered by a blanket. Mrs. Pumphery was weeping loudly.

The entire staff was roused and maids rushed in and out bringing his day bed, his night bed, favourite cushions, toys and rubber rings, breakfast bowl, lunch bowl, supper bowl.


Word Meaning
Roused Called
Supper Dinner


The entire staff of Mrs Pumphery was called. All the maids were running in and out of the house. They brought his day bed, night bed, toys, rubber rings, and separate bowls for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Realising that my car would never hold all the stuff, I started to drive away. As I moved off, Mrs. Pumphrey, with a despairing cry, threw an armful of the little coats through the window.


Word Meaning
Hold Carry, Accommodate
Despairing Without hope


I understood that my car will not be able to carry all those things. So I started the car and began to move. Mrs. Pumphery started crying because her hope of giving all these things were not getting fulfilled. She threw some coats into the car through the window.

I looked in the mirror before I turned the corner of the drive; everybody was in tears. Out on the road, I glanced down at the pathetic little animal gasping on the seat by my side.


Word Meaning
Pathetic Pitiful
Gasping Puffing, Taking short quick breaths


Before taking a turn on the road, I looked in the rear view mirror. Everybody was crying. When I reached the main road, I looked at the pitiful little dog who was puffing. He was sitting on the seat near me.

I patted the head and Tricki made a brave effort to wag his tail. “Poor old lad,” I said. “You haven’t a kick in you but I think I know a cure for you.”


Word Meaning
Patted Touched gently with palm
Haven’t a kick in you You are not active
Lad Boy
Cure Remedy


I touched his head. Tricki made a great effort to wag its tail. (He was so tired that wagging of tail was a big job for him). I told Tricki that he was not active. But I have a remedy for you.

At the surgery, the household dogs surged round me. Tricki looked down at the noisy pack with dull eyes and, when put down, lay motionless on the carpet.


Word Meaning
Surgery Hospital, Clinic
Surged Rushed, Moved
Pack Group


At the clinic, the dog living there moved around me. Dr. Herriot had come out of the car. He was holding Tricki in his lap. Tricki looked at the group of dogs that was making noise. Dr. Herriot put Tricki on the ground. He remained on the carpet without moving.

The other dogs, after sniffing round him for a few seconds, decided he was an uninteresting object and ignored him.


Word Meaning
Sniff To smell
Ignored Neglected


The other dogs smelled him for a few seconds. They decided that Tricki was an uninteresting object. So they neglected him. They moved away from him.

I made up a bed for him in a warm loose box next to the one where the other dogs slept. For two days I kept an eye on him, giving him no food but plenty of water.


Word Meaning
Keep an eye on Keep under observation
Plenty of Lot of


Tricki was put in a warm big cage. The cage was placed near to a place where other dogs were sleeping. For two days Dr. Herriot kept him under observation. I did not give him any food. He was given only lot of water.

At the end of the second day he started to show some interest in his surroundings and on the third he began to whimper when he heard the dogs in the yard.


Word Meaning
Surroundings Place and things around someone
Whimper To make small weak sounds, To moan


He showed some interest in things around him at the end of the second day. On the third day when he heard sound of other dogs he started making some weak sounds.

When I opened the door, Tricki trotted out and was immediately engulfed by Joe, the greyhound, and his friends. After rolling him over and thoroughly inspecting him, the dogs moved off down the garden. Tricki followed them, rolling slightly with his surplus fat.


Word Meaning
Trotted Ran slowly
Engulfed Surrounded
Greyhound Type of dog
Rolling him over Pushing on the ground
Rolling Walking


Third day I opened the door of the cage. Tricki came out running slowly. Immediately another dog Joe and his friends stood around him. They pushed Tricki to ground. They inspected him and then all dogs started going to garden. Tricki was following them, walking very slowly because he was very fat.

Later that day, I was present at feeding time. I watched while Tristan slopped the food into the bowls.


Word Meaning
Slopped Poured


Tristan is a worker in the clinic.

Afterwards, on that day, I was present at the feeding time for the dogs. There were many bowls kept. Tristan poured food in each bowl.

There was the usual headlong rush followed by the sounds of high-speed eating; every dog knew that if he fell behind the others he was liable to have some competition for the last part of his meal.


Word Meaning
Headlong rush Carelessly quick


As usual, every dog quickly ran towards these bowls, not caring for other dog. Then there was sound of eating quickly. Every dog was aware that if he ate slowly, his stomach will not get full. Every dog was competing with other dogs to get more share.

When they had finished, Tricki took a walk round the shining bowls, licking casually inside one or two of them.

After every dog had completed their eating, Tricki reached the bowls. He walked around bowls. These were shining because other dogs had eaten all the food. Tricki licked one or two empty bowls.

Next day, an extra bowl was put out for him and I was pleased to see him jostling his way towards it.


Word Meaning
Jostling Pushing and running


Next day there was an additional bowl for Tricki. I was happy to note that Tricki was also running and pushing with other dogs to reach his bowl.

From then on, his progress was rapid. He had no medicinal treatment of any kind but all day he ran about with the dogs, joining in their friendly scrimmages.


Word Meaning
From then on After that
Rapid Quick
Scrimmage Friendly fight


After that incident he improved quickly. He was not given any medicines. But for full day he ran with other dogs. He had joined in their friendly fights. (play)

He discovered the joys of being bowled over, tramped on and squashed every few minutes.


Word Meaning
Bowled over Thrown on the ground
Tramped on To get crushed under foot
Squashed Crushed between two things


He found the happiness of being thrown to the ground, somebody walking on him or he was crushed between many dogs. These happened almost every minute. [He had started playing with other dogs. This was also a good exercise for him]

He became an accepted member of the gang, an unlikely, silky little object among the shaggy crew, fighting like a tiger for his share at mealtimes and hunting rats in the old henhouse at night. He had never had such a time in his life.


Word Meaning
Unlikely Different
Shaggy Rough, Untidy
Crew Group
Henhouse Cage or place for keeping hens


Other dogs had accepted him in their group. He looked a different silky little object while other dogs were rough looking dogs. He started fighting for his meal. He started hunting for rats in the henhouse during night. He had never enjoyed these things in his life time.

All the while, Mrs. Pumphrey hovered anxiously in the background, ringing a dozen times a day for the latest bulletins.

Word Meaning
All the while During same time,
Hovered Remained


During the same time, Mrs. Pumphery anxiously remained in the background [At her house]. She would give a call almost twelve times in a day for the latest information about Tricki

I dodged the questions about whether his cushions were being turned regularly or his correct coat worn according to the weather; but I was able to tell her that the little fellow was out of danger and convalescing rapidly.


Word Meaning
Dodged Avoided
Convalescing Improving health


I avoided answering questions about cushion being changed regularly. Or if Tricki was wearing the correct coat as per weather. But I told her that the little dog was out of danger and his health was improving quickly.

The word ‘convalescing’ seemed to do something to Mrs. Pumphrey. She started to bring round fresh eggs, two dozen at a time, to build up Tricki’s strength.


Word Meaning
Build up To increase


Mrs. Pumphery appeared to be affected by the words ‘improving his health’. She started bringing two dozen fresh eggs during her every visit. This was to increase strength of Tricki.

For a happy period my partners and I had two eggs each for breakfast, but when the bottles of wine began to arrive, the real possibilities of the situation began to dawn on the household.

For a long time, I and my parents used to eat two eggs for breakfast. [Eggs were not given to Tricki. His food was same as that for other dogs]. Then bottles of wine were sent by Mrs. Pumphery. Now people at our house (surgery) understood the real situation of Tricki.

It was to enrich Tricki’s blood. Lunch became a ceremonial occasion with two glasses of wine before and several during the meal.

The wine was to improve blood of Tricki. Now lunch for us became just like a ceremony. We started having two glasses of wine before food and many glasses during meal.

We could hardly believe it when the brandy came to put a final edge on Tricki’s constitution. For a few nights the fine spirit was rolled around, inhaled and reverently drunk.


Word Meaning
Rolled around To happen again
Inhaled Smelled
Reverently Respectfully


We could not believe when Mrs Humphery sent brandy. It was to be added in food of Tricki. For some nights the fine drink was served repeatedly. We smelt it and drank with great respect.

They were days of deep content, starting well with the extra egg in the morning, improved and sustained by the midday wine and finishing luxuriously round the fire with the brandy.


Word Meaning
Deep content Great satisfaction
Sustained Maintained
Luxuriously Lavishly


Those days were days of great satisfaction. We started the day with extra eggs in the morning. The satisfaction was maintained and improved during lunch by enjoying wine. And in the dinner we had the luxury of having brandy.

It was a temptation to keep Tricki on as a permanent guest, but I knew Mrs. Pumphrey was suffering and after a fortnight, felt compelled to phone and tell her that the little dog had recovered and was awaiting collection.


Word Meaning
Temptation Desire, Attraction
Compelled Forced


It became a strong desire to keep Tricki permanently at the surgery. But I knew that Mrs. Pumphery was suffering a lot because Tricki was not with her. So after a fortnight I was forced to call Mrs. Pumphery. I told her that the little dog had become healthy. She can come to take her dog.

Within minutes, about thirty feet of gleaming black metal drew up outside the surgery. The chauffeur opened the door and I could just make out the figure of Mrs. Pumphrey almost lost in the interior.


Word Meaning
Thirty feet Very long
Gleaming Shining
Black metal Car
Drew up Stopped
Chauffeur Driver


Within few minutes, a long shining black car stopped outside the clinic. The driver opened the door of the car. I could make out that Mrs. Pumphery was sitting inside the car. She was busy in her thoughts.

Her hands were tightly clasped in front of her; her lips trembled. “Oh, Mr Herriot, do tell me the truth. Is he really better?”


Word Meaning
Clasped Held together
Trembled Shivered, Vibrated


She was tightly holding her hands together in front of her. Her lips shivered when she spoke. She requested me to tell her the truth. She wanted to know if the dog had really become better.

“Yes, he’s fine. There’s no need for you to get out of the car — I’ll go and fetch him.” I walked through the house into the garden.

I replied that he was fine. I requested her to remain in the car. I said that I will go and bring him. I walked into my house and then to the garden.

A mass of dogs was hurtling round and round the lawn and in their midst, ears flapping, tail waving, was the little golden figure of Tricki.


Word Meaning
Mass Group
Hurtling Racing
Flapping Moving up and down
Waving Moving sideways


A group of dogs was running in circular path in the garden. In that group there was a small golden colour dog Tricki. His ears were moving up and down and his tail was wagging.

In two weeks he had been transformed into a lithe, hard-muscled animal; he was keeping up well with the pack, stretching out in great bounds, his chest almost brushing the ground.


Word Meaning
Lithe Thin, Agile
Pack Group
Great bounds Great extent
Brushing Touching


In two weeks he had become a thin, agile animal. His muscles had become hard. He was running well with the group. He was stretching himself to great extent. His chest was almost touching the ground.

I carried him back along the passage to the front of the house. The chauffeur was still holding the car door open and when Tricki saw his mistress he took off from my arms in a tremendous leap and sailed into Mrs. Pumphrey’s lap.


Word Meaning
Took off Started
Tremendous Big
Leap Jump
Sailed Moved


I picked up Tricki in my lap and carried him through the passage to the front of the house. The driver had kept the door of the car still open. Tricki saw his mistress. He made a big jump from my arms. He moved into the lap of Mrs. Pumphery.

She gave a startled “Ooh!” And then had to defend herself as he swarmed over her, licking her face and barking.


Word Meaning
Startled Surprised
Defend Protect
Swarmed Climbed


With great surprise she spoke ‘Ooh!’ Tricki had jumped on her lap. She had to protect herself. He was licking her face and barking with affection and happiness.

During the excitement, I helped the chauffeur to bring out the beds, toys, cushions, coats and bowls, none of which had been used. As the car moved away, Mrs. Pumphrey leaned out of the window.

During this happiness, I helped the driver to bring all the cloths and toys of Tricki. None of these were used in the clinic. The car started to move away. Mrs. Pumphery moved her head out of window.

Tears shone in her eyes. Her lips trembled.

“Oh, Mr Herriot,” she cried, “how can I ever thank you? This is a triumph of surgery!”

Her eyes were full of tears. Her lips were shivering. She was so happy that it was not possible to express her thanks . She said ‘This is a triumph of surgery!’


Important Links
A Triumph of Surgery – Textbook Q&A A Triumph of Surgery – Extra Q&A
The Book That Saved the Earth – Explanation The Thief’s Story – Explanation
The Book That Saved the Earth – Textbook Q&A The Thief’s Story – Textbook Q&A
The Book That Saved the Earth – Extra Q&A The Thief’s Story – Extra Q&A
Re-arrange Exercises Error Finding Exercises
Active-Passive Rules Gap Filling Exercises
Passages Direct-Indirect Speech Rules
Story Writing Tips Letter Writing




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