Get summary, textbook solutions, questions, answers, notes, extras, MCQs, pdf of the chapter “A Question of Trust” by Victor Canning for SEBA, (Assam Board) and TBSE (Tripura Board) Class 10 English from the book Footprints Without Feet (supplementary reader). However, the given notes/solutions should only be used for references and should be modified/changed according to needs.
Summary: Victor Canning’s short story A Question of Trust tells the story of an honest thief who is outwitted by a seemingly harmless lady who later reveals herself to be a thief. Horace Danby was well-respected in society. He was in his fifties and unmarried. He made locks with the assistance of two others. He was a collector of rare and expensive books. Every year, Horace robbed a safe. He was now on his way to committing a robbery.
Horace had been studying Shotover Grange for two weeks. He had no choice but to break into this house. Horace Danby walked into the house. Horace developed a flower allergy and began sneezing. Then he heard a voice say something to him. He could cure the sneeze, according to the voice. It was a woman’s voice. She was standing in the doorway. She was young and attractive. His initial thought was to flee. The lady informed him that she would contact the police. She was going to tell them about him. Horace Danby advised him to let him go and forget he ever existed. The lady stipulated one condition for releasing Horace.
She explained that she had promised her husband that she would take her jewel to the bank. However, she had left jewels in the safe. She informed him that she planned to wear the jewels to a party that evening. She came downstairs to retrieve them. But she’d forgotten the combination to the safe. As a result, she required his assistance, and Horace opened the safe for her.
After two days, he was apprehended by a police officer for the jewel robbery at Shotover Grange. Danby’s fingerprints were discovered all over the place. He’d opened the safe without wearing gloves. He told the cops that the landlady of the house had told him to open the safe. However, the lady was 60 years old. She dismissed Danby’s story as nonsense.
Horace is now incarcerated. He often thinks of the lovely and astute young lady. She worked in the same field. She’d simply duped him. Danby becomes enraged whenever anyone mentions “honour among thieves.”
Intext questions and answers of A Question of Trust
1. What does Horace Danby like to collect?
Answer: Horace Danby enjoys collecting rare and valuable books.
2. Why does he steal every year?
Answer: Every year, he steals in order to buy rare and expensive books with the proceeds.
3. Who is speaking to Horace Danby?
Answer: The person talking to Horace Danby is a young and attractive woman who he asserts is a member of the family of the house he has come to rob.
4. Who is the real culprit in the story A Question of Trust?
Answer: The real culprit was the young woman who duped Horace into thinking she was the mistress of the house and forced him to open the safe for her.
Textual/exercise questions and answers A Question of Trust
1. Did you begin to suspect, before the end of the story, that the lady was not the person Horace Danby took her to be? If so, at what point did you realise this, and how?
Answer: Yes, before the end of the story, one begins to suspect that the lady was not the person Horace Danby thought she was. When she saw Horace, she was exceptionally calm. This seemed odd enough. When she didn’t call the cops and instead asked Horace to open the safe and take out all the jewels. It appeared suspicious. Furthermore, it did not appear likely that she would forget the code to open the safe. As a result, it was clear by the end of the story A Question of Trust that the lady was not the person Horace had imagined her to be.
2. What are the subtle ways in which the lady manages to deceive Horace Danby into thinking she is the lady of the house? Why doesn’t Horace suspect that something is wrong?
Answer: The lady deceives Horace into believing she is the lady of the house. Her demeanour and confidence all contributed to her credibility. Horace, her familiarity with the house dog and her claim that she appears to have been gone for a month are both forgeries. She speaks firmly, moves around the room straightening things as one would only do in one’s own home, and casually takes a cigarette from a cigarette box lying on the table – all of these subtle ways allow her to completely deceive Horace.
Horace had no reason to suspect any wrongdoing because the crafty lady had given him no reason to. When she was speaking with Horace, she showed no hesitation or inhibition. Furthermore, Horace had been taken aback by being apprehended and thus may not have been as alert as he could have been.
3. “Horace Danby was good and respectable but not completely honest.” Why do you think this description is apt for Horace? Why can’t he be categorised as a typical thief?
Answer: Horace Danby was not a typical thief because thievery was neither his habit nor his profession. He only stole once a year, and it was for the purpose of purchasing books. He worked hard the rest of the year as a locksmith to make ends meet. He was an honest man who also had two people working for him. As a result, Horace’s description as “good and respectable but not completely honest” was accurate.
4. Horace Danby was a meticulous planner but still he faltered. Where did he go wrong and why?
Answer: Horace Danby faltered because he had forgotten about his hay fever. It was his sneezing that had alerted the woman to his location and brought her down to where he was. If she hadn’t shown up, he could have taken the jewels and fled before she arrived. Because he assumed there was no one else in the house, he became complacent and sneezed loudly when he should have muffled it. The second error he made was assuming from the start that the woman was a member of the family.
Talk about it (A Question of Trust)
1. Do you think Horace Danby was unfairly punished, or that he deserved what he got?
Answer: Horace Danby deserved what he got because, after all, he was a thief who robbed people once a year. However, he was imprisoned for someone else’s crime that year. Thus, Horace’s past caught up with him, and he was forced to pay the price for all of his previous robberies.
2. Do intentions justify actions? Would you, like Horace Danby, do something wrong if you thought your ends justified the means? Do you think that there are situations in which it is excusable to act less than honestly?
Answer: Intentions do not always justify actions, because we cannot do wrong or violate the rules for the sake of benefiting everyone. Even if it is difficult, there are always other legal ways to achieve the desired result. The adage “honesty is the best policy” holds true for me. It is always preferable to follow the path of truth and justice. At most, I would tell a white lie if it would not harm anyone and would actually benefit someone. In such a case, I would not be completely honest, but my actions would be excusable in my opinion.
Extra/additional questions and answers/solutions of A Question of Trust
1. Give a brief description of Horace Danby’s character.
Answer: Horace Danby was a fifty-year-old bachelor who preferred to live a respectable life. He was a successful businessman who made locks. However, he did not earn enough to support his hobby of collecting rare books, which was quite costly. To fund his expensive hobby, he committed a large robbery each year, justifying it by claiming that he did nothing wrong because he was not a threat to society and was only looting the very wealthy. Horace was a thorough planner who paid attention to the smallest details. Nonetheless, he focused on the outside and ignored the inside, i.e. his own allergic condition. He was also careless and overconfident, resulting in a loud sneeze when he could have stifled it. He forgot to use his gloves while opening the safe due to his carelessness and overeagerness to please the “mistress of the house.” Horace despised the prospect of going to prison.
2. Give a brief profile of the woman Horace met at the house.
Answer: The woman Horace met at the house was a lovely, charming, astute young thief who outwitted him in every way. She exuded confidence and spoke in a soft, kind, but firm tone. She was astute, and her subtle actions led Horace to believe she was the mistress of the house, even forcing him to open the safe for her. She, like Horace Danby, was a meticulous planner, as evidenced by her ability to handle the dog with equal ease. She was also a quick thinker, as evidenced by how she handled the unexpected presence of Horace Danby and even used it to her advantage.
3. What was Horace’s favourite thing? What did he do to keep his love alive?
Answer: Horace had a penchant for collecting rare and expensive books. Every year to keep his love alive, Horace robbed a safe.
4. What was Horace’s most recent prey? What made this year’s robbery particularly simple?
Answer: Horace’s latest target was the jewels hidden in a safe in a house in Shotover Grange.
The fact that a magazine article had detailed the house, giving a plan of all the rooms and a picture of the main room where the safe was hidden, made the year’s robbery especially simple. The safe was even mentioned to be concealed behind a painting.
5. What was the value of the jewellery in Grange’s safe? How much did Horace anticipate getting for them? What was he going to do with the money?
Answer: The jewellery in Grange’s safe was estimated to be worth around £15,000.00.
Horace expected to get around £5,000 for them. Horace planned to spend the proceeds of the robbery on three very interesting books that would be available for purchase in the autumn.
6. How did Horace gain access to the house? Who did he meet inside the house?
Answer: Horace gained access to the house by using the key to the kitchen door, which he had seen the housekeeper hang on a hook outside. Inside the house, Horace first met Sherry, the owner’s dog.
7. Why was Shotover Grange’s house deserted? Horace went over to the house for what reason? How much time did he have to finish his assignment?
Answer: The owners had gone to London, and the two servants had gone to the movies, so the house at Shotover Grange was empty. Horace went over to the empty house because he wanted to steal the jewels that were kept in a safe inside. He only had four hours to complete his assignment.
8. What triggered Horace’s sneezing in the Grange house?
Answer: Horace began sneezing in the Grange house due to a large bowl of flowers on the drawing-room table. Horace suffered from hay fever, a condition that causes one to sneeze due to pollen allergy.
9. Horace is given advice on how to treat his hay fever. What exactly is it, and who gives it to him?
Answer: Horace is advised to identify the specific plant to which he is allergic, as this causes his hay fever. This advice is given to him by the lady in red, whom he met when he came to rob the Grange.
10. How did Horace’s prints end up all over the place?
Answer: Horace had removed his gloves in order to give his cigarette lighter to the lady, whom he misidentified as the mistress of the house. As a result, when he opened the safe at her request, he unintentionally left his fingerprints all over the room.
11. Who was the red-dressed lady? How and why did she dupe Horace?
Answer: In the story “A Question of Trust,” the lady in red was also a thief, and she had come to the house to steal the jewels, just like Horace. By her demeanour, the lady led Horace astray and led him to believe she was the mistress of the house. She made up a story about how she wanted to wear the jewels to a party that night. She then pretended to have forgotten the safe combination. Horace willingly opened the safe for her in an attempt to please her and keep her from reporting him to the cops. The lady duped Horace into opening the safe because she had come to the Grange’s house with the intention of robbing them and having Horace do her work was a convenient and safe way for her to obtain the Grange’s jewels.
12. Do you believe the lady in red anticipated Horace’s arrest?
Answer: The lady in red was a very astute woman, and she must have been overjoyed to discover that Horace had opened the safe without his gloves. As a result of his fingerprints being all over the place, she must have expected him to be arrested. An added benefit would be that with the perpetrator in custody, the police would not be looking for her.
13. Despite the fact that the occupants of the house at the Grange were not present, certain precautions were in place to deter burglars. What were they, and how did Horace triumph over them?
Answer: The presence of a dog and a burglar alarm, as well as the house being locked, kept burglars at bay at the Grange. Horace gained access to the house by using the key he saw the housekeeper hang on the kitchen door. He then made sure the dog didn’t make a sound by calling it by its name and giving it the impression that he was a friend. Finally, he severed the wires of the burglar alarm, which had been poorly constructed. As a result, Horace was able to overcome all of the obstacles to his theft.
14. Horace expresses confidence that the robbery will be successful. What makes him feel this way?
Answer: Horace was confident that the robbery would go off without a hitch because he had meticulously planned it for two weeks. He had studied the house and its rooms, as well as its wiring, paths, and the garden surrounding it. The owners were in London on the day of the robbery, and the servants had gone to the movies. So the path was clear, and he was optimistic about his chances of success.
15. Draw a comparison between the appearances of the woman Horace mistook for the mistress of the house at Shotover Grange and the true mistress.
Answer: The woman Horace misidentified as the mistress of the house in the story A Question of Trust was a very beautiful, captivating, and young woman who spoke in a quiet, firm, and kind voice, whereas the true mistress was a grey-haired woman of sixty with a sharp tongue.
16. What exactly is ‘honour among thieves? Who demonstrates a lack of such honour?
Answer: Criminals do not commit crimes against one another, according to the idiom “honour among thieves.” They have some principles that prevent them from cheating each other. The woman Horace meets at the house lacks such dignity because, despite being a thief herself, she dupes Horace into thinking she is the owner of the house. She also gets him to open the safe and steals the jewels, while Horace is arrested.
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