English CBSE Class 10 NCERT Footprints without Feet Chapter 4 A Question of Trust Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words



EVERYONE thought that Horace Danby was a good, honest citizen. He was about fifty years old and unmarried, and he lived with a housekeeper who worried over his health.

Word Meaning
Housekeeper Servant

Horace Danby was regarded as a good and honest person by everyone. His age was about 50 years and he was unmarried. He lived with a servant. The servant was always worried about health of Danby.



In fact, he was usually very well and happy except for attacks of hay fever in summer. He made locks and was successful enough at his business to have two helpers. Yes, Horace Danby was good and respectable — but not completely honest.

Word Meaning
Hay fever Allergy due to pollen and dust

Normally Danby was keeping good health. But in summer he suffered from allergy due to pollen or dust. He used to make locks and was a successful business. He could afford to keep two helpers for his business. Horace Danby was respectable but he was not honest.

Fifteen years ago, Horace had served his first and only sentence in a prison library. He loved rare, expensive books. So he robbed a safe every year.

Word Meaning
Sentence Punishment
Expensive Costly
Safe Almira

Fifteen years ago Horace was arrested for a theft. It was the only time he was punished and sent to prison. A prison that had library. Danby liked rare and costly books. So he made one robbery every year.



Each year he planned carefully just what he would do, stole enough to last for twelve months, and secretly bought the books he loved through an agent.

Every year Danby used to make plan for only one robbery. He would steal the amount that was sufficient for one year. With the stolen money he secretly bought books of his choice. He bought books through an agent.

Now, walking in the bright July sunshine, he felt sure that this year’s robbery was going to be as successful as all the others.

Danby was walking in the sun of a bright day of July month. He was thinking about robbery of this year, He was sure that this robbery would also be as successful as that of earlier years.

For two weeks he had been studying the house at Shotover Grange, looking at its rooms, its electric wiring, its paths and its garden. This afternoon the two servants, who remained in the Grange while the family was in London, had gone to the movies.

During last two weeks he had studied the house. Name of the house was Shotover Grange. He had studied its rooms, it electric wiring, its paths and the garden of the house. The full family living in the house had gone to London. Two servants were staying in the house. This afternoon these two servants had gone to see a movie.

Horace saw them go, and he felt happy in spite of a little tickle of hay fever in his nose. He came out from behind the garden wall, his tools carefully packed in a bag on his back.

Horace saw the two servants going out of the house. He felt happy though he had a mild attack of hay fever. He was feeling irritation in his nose. He packed his tools in a bag and put the bag on his back. He entered the Shotover Grange by climbing wall of the garden.



There were about fifteen thousand pounds’ worth of jewels in the Grange safe. If he sold them one by one, he expected to get at least five thousand, enough to make him happy for another year.

Word Meaning
Safe Locker, Almira
Jewels Gems
Worth Cost, Value

There were jewels in the locker of the house. Their value was about fifteen thousand pounds. If Danby sold these jewels one by one, he expected to earn about five thousand pounds. This amount would be enough for him for one more year.

There were three very interesting books coming up for sale in the autumn. Now he would get the money he wanted to buy them.

Word Meaning
Coming up for sale Would be available for sale

During the season of autumn, three very interesting book would be available for sale. Now Danby will get enough money to buy those books.

He had seen the housekeeper hang the key to the kitchen door on a hook outside. He put on a pair of gloves, took the key, and opened the door. He was always careful not to leave any fingerprints.

Word Meaning
Put on To wear

He had seen that the servant had hung the key in a hook at the outside of the kitchen door. He wore a pair of gloves in his hands. Took the key and opened the door. He never left his finger prints while making a theft.



A small dog was lying in the kitchen. It stirred, made a noise, and moved its tail in a friendly way.

Word Meaning
Stirred Moved

A small dog was in the kitchen. It moved a bit, made a low noise and wagged its tail in a friendly manner.

“All right, Sherry,” Horace said as he passed. All you had to do to keep dogs quiet was to call them by their right names, and show them love.

Horace crossed the dog and called out its name – Sherry. If you want to keep a dog quiet, you need to call it by its correct name. And speak to it lovingly.

The safe was in the drawing room, behind a rather poor painting. Horace wondered for a moment whether he should collect pictures instead of books. But they took up too much room. In a small house, books were better.

Word Meaning
Too much room Large space

The locker was in the drawing room behind a painting. Horace thought if he should start collecting paintings instead of books. But then he realised that paintings would take more space. In a small house it is better to collect books.



There was a great bowl of flowers on the table, and Horace felt his nose tickle. He gave a little sneeze and then put down his bag. He carefully arranged his tools. He had four hours before the servants returned.

Word Meaning
Tickle Irritation, Itching
Sneeze Quick blow of air through nose

On the table there was a big bowl. Flowers were kept in that bowl. Horace felt itching in his nose. He sneezed a bit and put his bag down. He took out his tools carefully. He knew that servants would return after four hours.

The safe was not going to be hard to open. After all, he had lived with locks and safes all his life. The burglar alarm was poorly built. He went into the hall to cut its wire. He came back and sneezed loudly as the smell of the flowers came to him again.

Word Meaning
Burglar Thief
Burglar alarm Alarm to sound in case of theft

It will not be difficult to open the safe. Because Horace has been making locks for safes throughout his life. The alarm to prevent theft was not installed correctly. He went into the hall and cut its wires. He came back to drawing room. He sneezed loudly because of smell of flowers.

How foolish people are when they own valuable things, Horace thought. A magazine article had described this house, giving a plan of all the rooms and a picture of this room. The writer had even mentioned that the painting hid a safe!

Word Meaning
Valuable Costly

Horace thought that people act foolishly when they are owner of costly things. An article in a magazine had given complete description of this house. It had given map of all the rooms and picture of drawing room. The writer had also mentioned about the safe behind the painting.



But Horace found that the flowers were hindering him in his work. He buried his face in his handkerchief.

Word Meaning
Hinder Disturb, Obstruct

Horace noted that flowers were disturbing him. [He was sneezing because of pollen of flowers]. So he put a handkerchief on his face.

Then he heard a voice say from the doorway, “What is it? A cold or hay fever?” Before he could think, Horace said, “Hay fever,” and found himself sneezing again.

Somebody asked Horace if the sneezing was because of cold or hay fever. Horace could not see face of the person. The voice was coming from door of the house. Without thinking Horace replied that it was because of hay fever. And he again sneezed.

The voice went on, “You can cure it with a special treatment, you know, if you find out just what plant gives you the disease. I think you’d better see a doctor, if you’re serious about your work. I heard you from the top of the house just now.”

Word Meaning
Went on Continued
See a doctor Consult a doctor

The voice continued to speak. It said that Horace could cure his disease by a special treatment. Horace needs to find out which plant causes the disease to him. The voice advised him to consult a doctor. The voice said that she had heard him sneeze from top of the house. [When Horace sneezed, the speaker was on the top of the house]



It was a quiet, kindly voice, but one with firmness in it. A woman was standing in the doorway, and Sherry was rubbing against her. She was young, quite pretty, and was dressed in red. She walked to the fireplace and straightened the ornaments there.

Word Meaning
Quiet Calm
Doorway Path towards door
Rub against To play

It was calm and kind voice but a firm voice as well. A woman was standing in the doorway. Sherry was playing with the woman. She was young and beautiful. She was wearing red dress. She came near the fireplace of drawing room. She adjusted her ornaments a bit.

“Down, Sherry,” she said. “Anyone would think I’d been away for a month!” She smiled at Horace, and went on, “However, I came back just in time, though I didn’t expect to meet a burglar.”

The woman asked Sherry to sit down. She said  if Sherry continued to play with her, people would think that she had been out of the house for about a month. [She wanted to convey to Horace that she had been out of the house for a short period]  However I came just at the right time. But I did not expect to meet a thief.

Horace had some hope because she seemed to be amused at meeting him. He might avoid trouble if he treated her the right way. He replied, “I didn’t expect to meet one of the family.”

Word Meaning
To be amused To be happy

Horace had some hope of saving himself because the woman appeared to be happy to meet him. He thought he may avoid problems if he gave good respect to the lady. So he replied that he did not expect to see any member of the family in the house.

She nodded. “I see what an inconvenience it is for you to meet me. What are you going to do?” Horace said, “My first thought was to run.”

Word Meaning
Inconvenience Problem, Trouble

She nodded her head. She said it must be a great trouble for Horace to meet her in the house. She asked Horace what he would do. Horace replied that in the beginning he thought of running away.

“Of course, you could do that. But I would telephone the police and tell them all about you. They’d get you at once.”

Word Meaning
Get you Catch you
At once Immediately

The lady said that Horace could certainly do that. [run away]. But I will telephone the police and tell everything about you. Police will immediately catch you.

Horace said, “I would, of course, cut the telephone wires first and then…,” he hesitated, a smile on his face, “I would make sure that you could do nothing for some time. A few hours would be enough.”

Horace said that he would certainly cut telephone wires before running away. Then he smiled. He said he would make sure that the lady was not able to do anything for some time. A time of some hours would be sufficient.

She looked at him seriously. “You’d hurt me?” Horace paused, and then said, “I think I was trying to frighten you when I said that.” “You didn’t frighten me.”

Word Meaning
Hurt To injure, To hit
Frighten Afraid, Feared

The lady looked at Horace and  asked if he would injure her. Horace did not speak for some time. The he said that he was trying to frighten the lady. The lady said she did not get afraid.

Horace suggested, “It would be nice if you would forget you ever saw me. Let me go.” The voice was suddenly sharp. “Why should I? You were going to rob me. If I let you go, you’ll only rob someone else. Society must be protected from men like you.”

Word Meaning
Suggested Requested

Horace requested the lady to forget that she ever saw him. He requested her to allow him to go away. The lady suddenly raised her voice. She asked why she should allow him to go. He was about to rob her. If she allowed him to go, he will rob somebody else. We must protect society from people like you.

Horace smiled. “I’m not a man who threatens society. I steal only from those who have a lot of money. I steal for a very good reason. And I hate the thought of prison.”

Horace smiled and told that he was not a person who was a threat [danger] to society. He said that he stole from people who had lot of money. I steal for a good cause. And I do not like to go to prison.

She laughed, and he begged, thinking that he had persuaded her, “Look, I have no right to ask you for anything, but I’m desperate. Let me go and I promise never to do this kind of thing again. I really mean it.”

Word Meaning
Persuade Convince
Begged Requested
Desperate Very eager, Urgent need

She laughed at his explanation. Horace thought he had convince her. He requested her to allow him to go away from the house. He said he does not have any authority to ask for anything but he is in urgent need to go. He promised that he would never do such things [theft] again. He promised.

She was silent, watching him closely. Then she said, “You are really afraid of going to prison, aren’t you?” She came over to him shaking her head. “I have always liked the wrong kind of people.”

She was silent and kept looking at him. She said that he was really afraid of going to prison. She came near to Horace and told that she always liked the wrong type of persons.

She picked up a silver box from the table and took a cigarette from it. Horace, eager to please her and seeing that she might help him, took off his gloves and gave her his cigarette lighter.

Word Meaning
Took off Removed

A silver box was on the table. She took out a cigarette from it. Horace wanted to make her happy in the hope that she would help him. He removed his glove and gave her his cigarette lighter.

“You’ll let me go?” He held the lighter towards her. “Yes, but only if you’ll do something for me.” “Anything you say.”

Horace held the lighter for lighting her cigarette. He requested her to let him go. She said she will allow him to go if he did some work for her. Horace agreed to do anything she said.

“Before we left for London, I promised my husband to take my jewels to our bank; but I left them here in the safe. I want to wear them to a party tonight, so I came down to get them, but…”

She said that before we went to London I had promised my husband to keep the jewels in the bank. But I forgot to do that. Those jewels are in the safe. I want to wear them tonight in a party. So I came to this room to get these but …

Horace smiled. “You’ve forgotten the numbers to open the safe, haven’t you?” “Yes,” replied the young lady. “Just leave it to me and you’ll have them within an hour. But I’ll have to break your safe.”

Horace smiled and told her that she had forgotten numbers of the lock to open the safe. She replied yes. Horace said that he could certainly take out jewels from the safe within one hour. But he will have to break the lock of the safe.

“Don’t worry about that. My husband won’t be here for a month, and I’ll have the safe mended by that time.” And within an hour Horace had opened the safe, given her the jewels, and gone happily away.

Word Meaning
Mended Repaired

She said not to worry about breaking the lock. Her husband will come back after one month. During this time she will get the lock repaired. And within one hour Horace opened the safe. He gave all the jewels to the lady. He happily went out of the house.

For two days he kept his promise to the kind young lady. On the morning of the third day, however, he thought of the books he wanted and he knew he would have to look for another safe.

For two days only Horace kept his promise to the kind lady of not stealing any more. In the morning of third day he again thought of books he wanted to have. He realized that he will have to search for another safe to steal.

But he never got the chance to begin his plan. By noon a policeman had arrested him for the jewel robbery at Shotover Grange.

But Horace did not get a chance to make a plan. During afternoon, a policeman arrested him for the theft at Shotover Grange.

His fingerprints, for he had opened the safe without gloves, were all over the room, and no one believed him when he said that the wife of the owner of the house had asked him to open the safe for her.

Because he had opened the safe without gloves, his finger prints were found everywhere. He said that he had opened the safe because wife of the owner of the house had asked him to do so. But nobody believed him.

The wife herself, a gray-haired, sharp-tongued woman of sixty, said that the story was nonsense.

The wife of the house owner also said that his statement was wrong. She was of about 60 year age and she had white hair. [While the lady who had met Horace was young]

Horace is now the assistant librarian in the prison. He often thinks of the charming, clever young lady who was in the same profession as he was, and who tricked him. He gets very angry when anyone talks about ‘honour among thieves’.

Word Meaning
Often Many times, Usually
Charming Beautiful
Tricked Deceived

Horace is now in the prison. He is assistant librarian in the library of the prison. He usually thinks of a clever young beautiful lady who was also a thief. The lady had deceived him. Whenever somebody tell him that a thief respects a thief, he gets very angry.



Important Links
A Question of Trust – Textbook Q&A A Question of Trust – Extra Q&A
The Midnight Visitor – Explanation Footprints Without Feet – Explanation
The Midnight Visitor – Textbook Q&A Footprints Without Feet – Textbook Q&A
The Midnight Visitor – Extra Q&A Footprints Without Feet – 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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