English CBSE Class 10 NCERT Footprints without Feet Chapter 5 Footprints without Feet Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words



The two boys stared in surprise at the fresh muddy imprints of a pair of bare feet. What was a barefooted man doing on the steps of a house, in the middle of London? And where was the man?

Word Meaning
Stared Looked, Gazed
Imprint Impression, Mark
Bare Naked

Two boys looked with surprise at impression of a pair of naked feet. These images were made of fresh mud. The boys thought what a person without shoes was doing at the steps of a house. That too in the middle of London city. They wondered where the man was. Because they saw image of feet only. They did not see any man.



As they gazed, a remarkable sight met their eyes. A fresh footmark appeared from nowhere!

Word Meaning
Remarkable Extraordinary, Peculiar
Sight Seen

While they were looking at those footprints, they saw an extraordinary scene. One more footmark appeared from nowhere.

Further footprints followed, one after another, descending the steps and progressing down the street. The boys followed, fascinated, until the muddy impressions became fainter and fainter, and at last disappeared altogether.

Word Meaning
Descending Coming down
Progressing Moving
Fascinated Attracted, Interested
Fainter Become more dull
At last Finally

More footprints appeared one by one. These were coming down from steps. These were moving in the street away from the boys. The boys were attracted by these footmarks and followed footmarks of mud till the marks became very dull. Finally footmarks could not be seen.

The explanation of the mystery was really simple enough. The bewildered boys had been following a scientist who had just discovered how to make the human body transparent.

Word Meaning
Mystery Secret, Puzzle
Bewildered Surprised

The explanation for this puzzle was very simple. The surprised boys were following a scientist. That scientist had discovered a method to make human body transparent. [Therefore his body was not visible to anyone]

Griffin, the scientist, had carried out experiment after experiment to prove that the human body could become invisible.

Word Meaning
Invisible That cannot be seen

Name of that scientist is Griffin. He had carried out many experiments to prove that a human body can be made invisible.

Finally he swallowed certain rare drugs and his body became as transparent as a sheet of glass — though it also remained as solid as glass.

Word Meaning
Swallowed Took without chewing
Rare Uncommon,
Drugs Medicines

He took some uncommon medicines. His body became as transparent as glass. But his body was still a solid mass like a glass.



Brilliant scientist though he was, Griffin was rather a lawless person. His landlord disliked him and tried to eject him. In revenge Griffin set fire to the house.

Word Meaning
Lawless Not following law or rules
Eject To throw out, To vacate

Griffin was a brilliant scientist. But he did not follow the law or rules. His landlord did not like him. He asked Griffin to vacate his house. Griffin burnt that house to take revenge from the landlord.

To get away without being seen he had to remove his clothes. Thus it was that he became a homeless wanderer, without clothes, without money, and quite invisible — until he happened to step in some mud, and left footprints as he walked!

Word Meaning
To get away Escape
Wanderer Traveller, Tramp

To escape without being seen, Griffin had to remove his clothes. Hence he became a traveller without home, without clothes and without money. Nobody could see him. But one day he stepped into the mud. The mud made his footprints while he was walking.

He escaped easily enough from the boys who followed his footprints in London. But his adventures were by no means over. He had chosen a bad time of the year to wander about London without clothes.

Word Meaning
Adventure Experience, Trouble
By no means Not at all, Certainly not
Wander To move, To roam

Griffin easily escaped from the two boys who were following his footprints in London. But his experience and troubles were certainly not over. He had selected wrong time of year to travel in London without clothes. [Because it was cold season]



It was mid-winter. The air was bitterly cold and he could not do without clothes. Instead of walking about the streets he decided to slip into a big London store for warmth.

Word Meaning
Bitterly Extremely
Slip into Go into
Warmth Heat

The season was middle of winter. The air was extremely cold. He could not tolerate such cold without clothes. Instead of walking in the streets, he decided to go into a big store of London city to get some warmth.

Closing time arrived, and as soon as the doors were shut Griffin was able to give himself the pleasure of clothing and feeding himself without regard to expense.

Word Meaning
Without regard to Without bothering about

After some time, the store was closed. As soon as doors of the store were closed, Griffin started wearing clothes and eating food. It gave him comfort and he enjoyed it. He did not need to pay anybody for his clothes and food.



He broke open boxes and wrappers and fitted himself out with warm clothes. Soon, with shoes, an overcoat and a wide-brimmed hat, he became a fully dressed and visible person.

He opened a box. Then he removed wrappers of clothes. He wore warm clothes that fitted him correctly. He also wore shoes, an over coat and a broad hat. Now he was fully dressed. He became visible because of his dress.

In the kitchen of the restaurant he found cold meat and coffee, and he followed up the meal with sweets and wine taken from the grocery store. Finally he settled down to sleep on a pile of quilts.

He went to kitchen of the restaurant. He ate cold meat and coffee. After taking his food, he ate sweets and drank some wine. Finally, he slept on a stack of quilts.

If only Griffin had managed to wake up in good time all might have been well. As it was, he did not wake up until the assistants were already arriving next morning.

Word Meaning
Good time Early
As it was It so happened, Actually
Assistants Workers

If Griffin had woken up early, everything would have been good. It so happened that he woke up only after workers had started arriving in the store.



When he saw a couple of them approaching, he panicked and began to run. They naturally gave chase.

Word Meaning
Panicked Got afraid
Chase Pursue, Run after

When Griffin saw some of the workers were coming towards him, he was afraid and he started running away. Workers started running after him to catch him.

In the end he was able to escape only by quickly taking off his newly found clothes. So once more he found himself invisible but naked in the chill January air.

Word Meaning
Take off Remove

Finally, he was able to escape by quickly removing his clothes. Now once more he was invisible but naked in the extreme winter season of January.

This time he decided to try the stock of a theatrical company in the hope of finding not only clothes but also something that would hide the empty space above his shoulders.

Word Meaning
Stock Material, Clothes
Theatrical company Drama company

This time he decided to try clothes from a drama company. He was hopeful that he would find clothes and something to hide his face. His face without clothes looked like an empty space above his shoulders.



Shivering with cold he hurried to Drury Lane, the centre of the theatre world. He soon found a suitable shop.

He was shivering because of cold. He quickly went to Drury Lane. On this street there were many theatres and shops. Very soon he found a suitable shop.

He made his way, invisible, upstairs and came out a little later wearing bandages round his forehead, dark glasses, false nose, big bushy side-whiskers, and a large hat.

Word Meaning
Made his way He went
Dark glasses Dark goggles
Bushy Thick
Side-whiskers Hair on side of face

He was invisible. He climbed stairs and went to next floor. After sometime time he came out of the floor wearing a bandage around his forehead, dark goggles, a false nose, a big and thick hair on sides of his face and a big hat.

To escape without being seen, he callously attacked the shopkeeper from behind, after which he robbed him of all the money he could find.

Word Meaning
Callously Cruelly, Without mercy

He wanted to escape from the shop without anyone noticing him. So he hit the shopkeeper without any mercy from behind. [Probably the shopkeeper became unconscious]. He took all the money of the shopkeeper.

Eager to get away from crowded London he took a train to the village of Iping, where he booked two rooms at the local inn.

Word Meaning
Eager Strongly desire,
Inn Small hotel

He had a strong desire to move away from a crowded place like London. He took a train and went to a village Iping. He booked two rooms for him in a small hotel at Iping.



The arrival of a stranger at an inn in winter was in any case an unusual event. A stranger of such uncommon appearance set all tongues wagging.

Word Meaning
In any case Certainly
Stranger Guest
Set all tongues wagging People started making guesses

Arrival of a guest in the inn during winter was certainly an unusual event. Because of his peculiar appearance people started making different guesses about him. They talked about him.

Mrs Hall, the landlord’s wife, made every effort to be friendly. But Griffin had no desire to talk, and told her, “My reason for coming to Iping is a desire for solitude. I do not wish to be disturbed in my work. Besides, an accident has affected my face.”

Word Meaning
Friendly To be kind, To talk nicely
Solitude Alone, Loneliness
Besides Additionally, In addition to

The wife of landlord, Mrs. Hall tried many times to talk to him. But Griffin did not want to talk. He told Mrs. Hall that he had come to Iping because he wanted to be alone. I do not want any disturbance in my work. Additionally, my face has become ugly in an accident.

Satisfied that her guest was an eccentric scientist, and in view of the fact that he had paid her in advance, Mrs Hall was prepared to excuse his strange habits and irritable temper.

Word Meaning
Eccentric Strange, Unusual. Mad
Irritable temper Bad or annoying behaviour

Mrs. Hall realised that the guest was a strange scientist. He had paid the rent in advance. Therefore Mrs. Hall was ready to neglect his strange habits and bad behaviour.

But the stolen money did not last long, and presently Griffin had to admit that he had no more ready cash. He pretended, however, that he was expecting a cheque to arrive at any moment.

Word Meaning
Did not last long Got over soon
Pretended Bluffed

But the money he had stolen from the shop got over very soon. Now Griffin had to accept to Mrs. Hall that he did not have money with him. He bluffed that a cheque for him would be coming very soon.

Shortly afterwards a curious episode occurred. Very early in the morning a clergyman and his wife were awakened by noises in the study. Creeping downstairs, they heard the chink of money being taken from the clergyman’s desk.

Word Meaning
Shortly Very soon
Curious Strange
Clergyman Priest
Creep To move slowly and carefully
Chink Sound of coins

Very soon after that a strange incident happened. Very early in the morning, a priest and his wife woke up because of noise in their study room. Carefully they came to the lower floor of their house. They heard sound of their money being taken away from desk of the priest.

Without making any noise and with a poker grasped firmly in his hand, the clergyman flung open the door. “Surrender!”

Word Meaning
Poker An iron rod
Firmly Tightly
Grasped Held, Gripped
Flung open Open suddenly

The priest tightly held an iron rod in his hand. Without making any noise he suddenly opened the door and shouted – surrender.

Then to his amazement he realised that the room appeared to be empty. He and his wife looked under the desk, and behind the curtains, and even up the chimney. There wasn’t a sign of anybody. Yet the desk had been opened and the housekeeping money was missing.

Word Meaning
Amazement Surprise
Housekeeping money Money for routine expenses

He was surprised to see that the room was empty. He and his wife looked everywhere in the room. But there was nobody in the room. In spite of that the desk had been opened and the money kept for their daily expenses was not there.

“Extraordinary affair!” the clergyman kept saying for the rest of the day. But it was not as extraordinary as the behaviour of Mrs. Hall’s furniture a little later that morning.

The priest kept saying for the remaining day that it was an extraordinary incident. But later during the day another more extraordinary incident happened. The furniture of Mrs. Hall started behaving [moving] in a peculiar manner.

The landlord and his wife were up very early, and were surprised to see the scientist’s door wide open. Usually it was shut and locked, and he was furious if anyone entered his room.

Word Meaning
Were up very early Woke up very early in the morning
Furious Very angry

The landlord [Mr. Hall] and his wife [Mrs. Hall] had woken up very early in the morning. They were surprised to see that the door of scientist’s room was fully open. Normally that door used to remain closed and locked. He would become very angry if anyone entered his room.

The opportunity seemed too good to be missed. They peeped round the door, saw nobody, and decided to investigate.

Word Meaning
Peeped Secretly looked
Investigate To find out, Inspect

They [Mr. and Mrs. Hall] thought that it was an excellent opportunity to go into the room. They did not want to miss this chance. They peeped through the open door. There was nobody in the room. So they decided to enter the room to find out more about the scientist.

The bedclothes were cold, showing that the scientist must have been up for some time; and stranger still, the clothes and bandages that he always wore were lying about the room.

Word Meaning
Bedclothes Bedsheets
Lying about Spread

The clothes of the bed [bedsheet] were cold. Meaning that the scientist had been not in the bed for some time. The clothes and bandage that the scientist was always wearing were spread in the room. They found this very strange.

All of a sudden Mrs. Hall heard a sniff close to her ear. A moment later the hat on the bedpost leapt up and dashed itself into her face.

Word Meaning
Sniff Sound of cough or sneeze
Leapt up Jumped
Dashed Struck, Crashed, Moved quickly

Suddenly Mrs. Hall heard sound of a sniff near her ear. Immediately after that the hat that was hanging on the post of the bed jumped. The hat struck on the face of Mrs. Hall.

Then the bedroom chair became alive. Springing into the air it charged straight at her, legs foremost.

Word Meaning
Springing Jumping suddenly
Charged Rushed, Came quickly

Then chair of the bed room started moving. The chair jumped in the air and it rushed directly towards Mrs. Hall. Legs of chair were pointed towards Mrs. Hall.

As she and her husband turned away in terror, the extraordinary chair pushed them both out of the room and then appeared to slam and lock the door after them.

Word Meaning
Terror Fear
Slam Put or strike violently

Mrs. Hall and her husband were afraid and moved away from the chair. The unusual chair pushed both of them out of the room. Then chair was put down violently on the floor. The door was locked after they had come out of the room.

Mrs. Hall almost fell down the stairs in hysterics. She was convinced that the room was haunted by spirits, and that the stranger had somehow caused these to enter into her furniture.

Word Meaning
Hysterics Extreme anger or fear
Convinced Certain, Sure
Spirits Ghosts
Haunted A place visited by ghosts

Mrs. Hall almost fell down the stairs due to her extreme anger. She became sure that there were ghosts in the room. The stranger had done something to enter those ghosts into her furniture.

“My poor mother used to sit in that chair,” she moaned. “To think it should rise up against me now!”

Word Meaning
Moaned Spoke painfully, Groaned

She spoke painfully that her mother used to sit on that chair. Mrs. Hall cannot even think that that chair could ever try to attack her.

The feeling among the neighbours was that the trouble was caused by witchcraft. But witchcraft or not, when news of the burglary at the clergyman’s home became known, the strange scientist was strongly suspected of having had a hand in it.

Word Meaning
Witchcraft Magic
Burglary Theft
Had a hand in it Was involved
Suspected Doubted

The neighbours thought that the problem of moving furniture was created by magic. People came to know about theft in house of the priest. People had a doubt that the stranger was involved in the theft.

Suspicion grew even stronger when he suddenly produced some ready cash, though he had admitted not long before that he had no money.

Word Meaning
Admitted Accepted

Their doubt became stronger when the stranger suddenly paid the rent in cash to Mrs. Hall. Because somedays ago the stranger had accepted that he did not have money.

The village constable was secretly sent for. Instead of waiting for the constable, Mrs Hall went to the scientist, who had somehow mysteriously appeared from his empty bedroom.

Word Meaning
Sent for Called
Mysteriously Secretly, Not known,

The police constable of the village was secretly called. But Mrs. Hall did not wait for his arrival. She went to the scientist. It seemed to her that the scientist had appeared from the empty bedroom. [She did not see him coming from outside]

“I want to know what you have been doing to my chair upstairs,” she demanded. “And I want to know how it is you came out of an empty room and how you entered a locked room.”

She asked him that she wanted to know what had he done to his chairs. She wanted to know how he had come out of the empty room. She also wanted to know how he entered the room when the door was locked.

The scientist was always quick-tempered; now he became furious. “You don’t understand who or what I am!” he shouted. “Very well — I’ll show you.”

Word Meaning
Quick tempered Easily become angry
Furious Very angry

The scientist would always become angry easily. But now he was very angry. He shouted that she did not know who he was. He said now he would show her what he was.

Suddenly he threw off bandages, whiskers, spectacles, and even nose. It took him only a minute to do this. The horrified people in the bar found themselves staring at a headless man!

Word Meaning
Threw off Removed
Horrified Afraid, Shocked due to fear

Suddenly he removed his bandage, whiskers, goggles and also the nose. He did that in less than one minute. The people of the bar got afraid. They were looking at a person who did not have a head.

Mr Jaffers, the constable, now arrived, and was quite surprised to find that he had to arrest a man without a head. But Jaffers was not easily prevented from doing his duty. If a magistrate’s warrant ordered a person’s arrest, then that person had to be arrested, with or without his head.

Word Meaning
Prevent Stop
Warrant A legal order

The constable, Mr Jaffers, reached there at that time. He was surprised to note that he was supposed to arrest a headless person. But Jaffers did not stop in performing his duty. He thought that if the order of the magistrate asked to arrest a person, that person had to be arrested. It does not matter if the person has a head or does not have a head.

There followed a remarkable scene as the policeman tried to get hold of a man who was becoming more and more invisible as he threw off one garment after another.

Word Meaning
Remarkable Strange, Extraordinary
Get hold of Catch, Arrest
Garment Clothe

Now people saw a strange scene. A policeman was trying to arrest a person who was becoming more and more invisible. The person was removing clothes from his body one by one.

Finally a shirt flew into the air, and the constable found himself struggling with someone he could not see at all. Some people tried to help him, but found themselves hit by blows that seemed to come from nowhere.

Word Meaning
Struggling Fighting

Finally the scientist removed his shirt and threw it in the air. The constable was fighting with a person whom he could not see. Some people tried to help him. But they were hit by blows. They could not see from where these blows were coming.

In the end Jaffers was knocked unconscious as he made a last attempt to hold on to the unseen scientist.

Word Meaning
Knocked Hit, Fell down

Jaffers made his last attempt to catch the invisible scientist. In the end, Jaffers became unconscious and he fell down.

There were nervous, excited cries of “Hold him!” But this was easier said than done. Griffin had shaken himself free, and no one knew where to lay hands on him.

Word Meaning
Shaken himself free He became free
To lay hands on To arrest

People nervously started shouting -‘hold him’, so that somebody will catch the scientist. But it was easy to say such words but difficult to actually catch him. Griffin had become free from the hold of Jaffers. Nobody knew how to arrest him.



Important Links
Footprints Without Feet – Textbook Q&A Footprints Without Feet – Extra Q&A
A Question of Trust – Explanation The Making of a Scientist – Explanation
A Question of Trust – Textbook Q&A The Making of a Scientist – Textbook Q&A
A Question of Trust – Extra Q&A The Making of a Scientist – 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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