English CBSE Class 10 NCERT Footprints without Feet Chapter 2 The Thief’s Story Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words



I was still a thief when I met Anil. And though only 15, I was an experienced and fairly successful hand. Anil was watching a wrestling match when I approached him.

When I met Anil, my profession was of a thief. At that time my age was 15. But I was an experienced and a successful thief. When I first spoke to Anil, he was watching a wrestling match.



He was about 25 — a tall, lean fellow — and he looked easy-going, kind and simple enough for my purpose. I hadn’t had much luck of late and thought I might be able to get into the young man’s confidence.


Word Meaning
Lean Thin
Easy going Relaxed, Generous
Of late In recent past


Age of Anil was about 25. He was a tall and thin person. He appeared to be relaxed, simple and kind person. So I thought it would be easy to rob him. In recent past, I have not been lucky. [Meaning that I could not steal anything] I thought I would be able to win confidence of this young person.

“You look a bit of a wrestler yourself,” I said. A little flattery helps in making friends. “So do you,” he replied, which put me off for a moment because at that time I was rather thin.


Word Meaning
Flattery False praise, Sweet talk
Put someone off To discourage, To surprise


I said to Anil that he looked like a wrestler. Praising someone helps in making a friend. Anil replied that I also looked like a wrestler. His answer surprised me because at that time I was very thin.



“Well,” I said modestly, “I do wrestle a bit.” “What’s your name?” “Hari Singh,” I lied. I took a new name every month. That kept me ahead of the police and my former employers.


Word Meaning
Modestly Humbly, Politely
Ahead of To manage not being caught


I humbly replied that I did wrestling only a bit. Anil asked my name. I said Hari Singh. I had spoken a lie. Every month I used to change my name. By this method police and my previous employers were not able to catch me.

After this introduction, Anil talked about the well-oiled wrestlers who were grunting, lifting and throwing each other about. I didn’t have much to say. Anil walked away. I followed casually.


Word Meaning
Grunting Making sound through throat
Followed Walked behind


After learning my name, Anil talked about wrestlers. They had applied lot of oil on their body. They were making noise, lifting and throwing each other. I did not say anything. Anil started walking away from there. I walked behind him.

“Hello again,” he said. I gave him my most appealing smile. “I want to work for you,” I said. “But I can’t pay you.”


Word Meaning
Most appealing Very pleasant


Anil said hello to me. I gave him a most pleasant smile. I said that I wanted to work for him. Anil replied that he did not have money to give me salary.

I thought that over for a minute. Perhaps I had misjudged my man. I asked, “Can you feed me?” “Can you cook?” “I can cook,” I lied again.

I thought that perhaps my judgement about Anil was wrong. [Meaning I had thought that Anil was a rich person]. I asked Anil if he can give me food. Anil asked if I could cook. I told him a lie that I could cook.



“If you can cook, then may be I can feed you.” He took me to his room over the Jumna Sweet Shop and told me I could sleep on the balcony.

Anil told me that if I could cook, he would give me food. He took me to his room. His room was above Jumna Sweet shop. He told me that I could sleep in the balcony.

But the meal I cooked that night must have been terrible because Anil gave it to a stray dog and told me to be off. But I just hung around, smiling in my most appealing way, and he couldn’t help laughing.


Word Meaning
Terrible Very bad
Stray dogs Dogs living in streets
Be off Go away
Hung around Remained there


That night I cooked food. The food must have been very bad because Anil gave it to dogs living in the street. He asked me to go away from his room. But I remained there. I again smiled in the most pleasant way. He started laughing.

Later, he patted me on the head and said never mind, he’d teach me to cook. He also taught me to write my name and said he would soon teach me to write whole sentences and to add numbers.


Word Meaning
Patted Repeated touching with palm
Never mind Not to get disappointed


After that he touched my head and said not to get disappointed. He said he would teach me cooking. He taught me to write my name. He said that he would teach me to write full sentences and to do addition.



I was grateful. I knew that once I could write like an educated man there would be no limit to what I could achieve. It was quite pleasant working for Anil.


Word Meaning
Grateful Thankful


I was thankful to Anil. I knew that after learning to write like an educated person, I would be able to achieve almost everything. I was happy to work for Anil.

I made the tea in the morning and then would take my time buying the day’s supplies, usually making a profit of about a rupee a day. I think he knew I made a little money this way but he did not seem to mind.


Word Meaning
Day’s supply Things needed for the day
Did not mind Did not object


In the morning I made tea. Then I used to go to the market to buy things needed for that day. Normally I saved one rupee for me while purchasing things. Probably Anil knew about it. But he did not appear to object.

Anil made money by fits and starts. He would borrow one week, lend the next.


Word Meaning
Fits and starts Not regularly


Anil earned money irregularly. One week he would borrow money and next week he would lend money. [Meaning during one week he had shortage of money and next week he had surplus money]



He kept worrying about his next cheque, but as soon as it arrived he would go out and celebrate. It seems he wrote for magazines — a queer way to make a living!


Word Meaning
Next cheque Next income
Queer Strange


He was always worrying about his next income. But as soon as he earned some money, he would celebrate. Probably he used to write for magazines. A strange way of earning money.

One evening he came home with a small bundle of notes, saying he had just sold a book to a publisher. At night, I saw him tuck the money under the mattress.


Word Meaning
Tuck To hide something


One evening when he came home he told me that he had sold a book to a publisher. He had a small bundle of notes with him. He put this money under the mattress to hide.

I had been working for Anil for almost a month and, apart from cheating on the shopping, had not done anything in my line of work.


Word Meaning
Apart from Other than
My line of work My profession


Now I had completed almost one month working for Anil. Other than cheating during shopping, I had not had any thing of my profession. [Recall that narrator is a thief]



I had every opportunity for doing so. Anil had given me a key to the door, and I could come and go as I pleased. He was the most trusting person I had ever met.

I had many chances to steal money. Anil had given me the key of the main door. I could come anytime and go anytime as per my wish. He had trusted me. Nobody else had ever trusted me so much.

And that is why it was so difficult to rob him. It’s easy to rob a greedy man, because he can afford to be robbed; but it’s difficult to rob a careless man — sometimes he doesn’t even notice he’s been robbed and that takes all the pleasure out of the work.

Because he trusted me, it was difficult to rob him. It is easy to rob a greedy person because he has lot of money with him. But it is difficult to rob a person who is not careful. Sometimes he will not come to know that he has been robbed. Therefore there is no pleasure in robbing a careless person.

Well, it’s time I did some real work, I told myself; I’m out of practice. And if I don’t take the money, he’ll only waste it on his friends. After all, he doesn’t even pay me.

I thought now it was the time to do some work. [Time to steal]. I thought I am out of practice of robbing. [I had not done any stealing since many days]. I thought if I did not rob Anil, he would waste his money on his friends. And he was not paying me any salary.

Anil was asleep. A beam of moonlight stepped over the balcony and fell on the bed. I sat up on the floor, considering the situation. If I took the money, I could catch the 10.30 Express to Lucknow.


Word Meaning
Asleep Sleeping
Beam Ray


Anil was sleeping. Moonlight was coming in the balcony and on the bed of Anil. Considering the moonlight, I sat on the floor. [I did not stand]. I thought if I steal money from Anil, I can take 10:30 PM express train for Lucknow.



Slipping out of the blanket, I crept up to the bed. Anil was sleeping peacefully. His face was clear and unlined; even I had more marks on my face, though mine were mostly scars.


Word Meaning
Slipping out Coming out
Crept Crawled, Moved on hands and knees
Unlined face Young looking face
Marks Spots
Scars Spot left by a wound or a disease


I came out of my blanket and crawled up to the bed of Anil. Anil was sleeping. His face could be seen clearly in the moonlight. The face was looking young. I had more spots on my face. Most of these spots were scars.

My hand slid under the mattress, searching for the notes. When I found them, I drew them out without a sound. Anil sighed in his sleep and turned on his side, towards me. I was startled and quickly crawled out of the room.


Word Meaning
Sighed Took deep breath, Made a sound
Startled Surprised


I put my hand under the mattress to search for notes. I found them and pulled them out without making any noise. Anil made a sound in his sleep. Then he turned his side and now he face was towards me. I was surprised. I crawled out of the room.

When I was on the road, I began to run. I had the notes at my waist, held there by the string of my pyjamas. I slowed down to a walk and counted the notes: 600 rupees in fifties! I could live like an oil-rich Arab for a week or two.

When I reached road, I started running. I had put notes near the string of my pyjamas at my waist. After some time I slowed down and started walking. I counted notes. These were 600 rupees in notes of fifty. [12 notes of 50 rupees each]. I could live like a very rich person for about two weeks.

When I reached the station I did not stop at the ticket office (I had never bought a ticket in my life) but dashed straight to the platform. The Lucknow Express was just moving out.

I reached the railway station. I did not go the ticket office because I had never bought a ticket. [Narrator used to travel without buying ticket]. The Lucknow Express train had just started from the platform.

The train had still to pick up speed and I should have been able to jump into one of the carriages, but I hesitated — for some reason I can’t explain — and I lost the chance to get away.


Word Meaning
Pick up Gained, Attained
Carriage Coach of a train
Hesitated Was unwilling,
Get away Run away. Escape


The train was running slow. It had not gained speed. I could have easily jumped into any one of the coach. But I was not willing to get into the train. I do not know the reason. I missed the chance to run away.

When the train had gone, I found myself standing alone on the deserted platform. I had no idea where to spend the night.


Word Meaning
Deserted Empty, Without any body


The train had gone. I was standing alone on the empty platform. I did not know where to spend the night.

I had no friends, believing that friends were more trouble than help. And I did not want to make anyone curious by staying at one of the small hotels near the station.


Word Meaning
Curious Eager to know


I did not have any friend. I believed that friends were more of a trouble than help. I did not want to stay in any one of the small hotels near the station. I did not want people to become eager to know about me.

The only person I knew really well was the man I had robbed. Leaving the station, I walked slowly through the bazaar.

I knew only one person. I had robbed that man. I left the station. I walked slowly in the streets of the bazaar.

In my short career as a thief, I had made a study of men’s faces when they had lost their goods. The greedy man showed fear; the rich man showed anger; the poor man showed acceptance.

When goods are stolen from people, different types of expression comes to their faces. I had understood this in my brief career as a thief. The greedy man had expression of fear. The rich man of anger. The poor man had the expression of accepting his misfortune.

But I knew that Anil’s face, when he discovered the theft, would show only a touch of sadness. Not for the loss of money, but for the loss of trust.

When Anil comes to know about the theft, his face would show expression of sadness. I was sure about it. The sadness will not be because of loss of money. He will be sad because I had lost his trust.

I found myself in the maidan and sat down on a bench. The night was chilly — it was early November — and a light drizzle added to my discomfort.


Word Meaning
Chilly Very cold
Drizzle Rain of low intensity
Discomfort Trouble, Uneasiness


By this time I had reached an open ground. I sat down on a bench. The night was very cold. It was beginning of November. There was light rain which increased my trouble.

Soon it was raining quite heavily. My shirt and pyjamas stuck to my skin, and a cold wind blew the rain across my face.

Very soon it started raining heavily. My shirt and pyjamas became wet. These were sticking to my skin. A cold wind started blowing. It blew the rain on my face.

I went back to the bazaar and sat down in the shelter of the clock tower. The clock showed midnight. I felt for the notes. They were damp from the rain.


Word Meaning
Damp Wet


I went back to bazaar. I sat in the clock tower. The time was midnight. [12 o’clock]. I touched notes to be sure that these were with me. These had become wet due to rain.

Anil’s money. In the morning he would probably have given me two or three rupees to go to the cinema, but now I had it all. I couldn’t cook his meals, run to the bazaar or learn to write whole sentences any more.

It was Anil’s money. In the morning he would have given me two or three rupees to go to cinema. But now I had all the money. I am out of his house. I cannot cook his food. I cannot go to bazaar to buy supplies. Now I cannot learn to write complete sentences.

I had forgotten about them in the excitement of the theft. Whole sentences, I knew, could one day bring me more than a few hundred rupees.

I forgot about these aspects during the eagerness to steal money. I was aware that one day I could earn more than a few hundred rupees through complete sentences. [Narrator means that education would bring more money]

It was a simple matter to steal — and sometimes just as simple to be caught. But to be a really big man, a clever and respected man, was something else. I should go back to Anil, I told myself, if only to learn to read and write.

It was a very simple thing to steal in comparison to getting education. And sometimes it was equally simple to get caught. But to become a respectable and big person was different. I thought that I should go back to Anil to learn to read and write.

I hurried back to the room feeling very nervous, for it is much easier to steal something than to return it undetected.


Word Meaning
Undetected Without getting noticed


I started going back quickly to the room. I was very nervous. Because it is easier to steal. But it is difficult to return back the stolen thing without getting noticed.

I opened the door quietly, then stood in the doorway, in clouded moonlight. Anil was still asleep. I crept to the head of the bed, and my hand came up with the notes.

I opened the door quietly. I stood in the doorway. There was moonlight and clouds in the sky. Anil was in deep sleep. I crawled to the head of the bed. [The side Anil had his head on the bed] I took out notes in my hand.

I felt his breath on my hand. I remained still for a minute. Then my hand found the edge of the mattress, and slipped under it with the notes.


Word Meaning
Still Without movement


I could feel breath of Anil on my hand. I did not move for a minute. Then my hand reached edge of the mattress. Then my hand went under the mattress to keep the money back.

I awoke late next morning to find that Anil had already made the tea. He stretched out his hand towards me. There was a fifty-rupee note between his fingers. My heart sank. I thought I had been discovered.


Word Meaning
Stretched out Extended
Heart sank Felt sad, Felt afraid


Next day I woke up late. I noticed that Anil had already made tea. He extended his hand towards me. In his hand he had a fifty-rupee note. I was suddenly afraid. I thought he had become aware of  my fault.

“I made some money yesterday,” he explained. “Now you’ll be paid regularly.” My spirits rose. But when I took the note, I saw it was still wet from the night’s rain. “Today we’ll start writing sentences,” he said.


Word Meaning
My spirits rose I felt happy


Anil told me that yesterday he had earned some money. Now he will pay my salary regularly. I was feeling very happy when I took the note from him. The note was wet because of rains of last night. He told me that today he would teach me to write sentences.

He knew. But neither his lips nor his eyes showed anything. I smiled at Anil in my most appealing way. And the smile came by itself, without any effort.


Word Meaning
Appealing Pleasant, Attarctive


He knew what had happened last night. But he neither spoke nor expressed through his eyes. I smiled at Anil in most pleasant manner. This smile had automatically come on my face. I did not make efforts to smile.



Important Links
The Thief’s Story – Textbook Q&A The Thief’s Story – Extra Q&A
A Triumph of Surgery – Explanation The Midnight Visitor – Explanation
A Triumph of Surgery – Textbook Q&A The Midnight Visitor – Textbook Q&A
A Triumph of Surgery – Extra Q&A The Midnight Visitor – 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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