SEBA Class 10 English Question Answer|Chapter-2| A Question of Trust

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SEBA Class 10 English Question Answer|Chapter-2| A Question of Trust

SEBA Class 10 English Question Answer|Chapter-2| A Question of Trust Notes covers all the exercise questions in Assam Board SEBA Textbooks. The SEBA Class 10 English Question Answer provided here ensures a smooth and easy understanding of all the concepts. Understand the concepts behind every chapter and score well in the board exams.

About the author-Victor Canning

Born in Devon, on 16 June, 1911, Victor Canning was a prolific writer of novels and thrillers. A friendly man and an avid sportsperson, Canning’s love of the English countryside and wildlife pervades his early and late works whereas his middle period thrillers were mostly set overseas.

Canning wrote many novels and thrillers and his work seemed to flourish in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Victor Canning died on 21 February, 1986, in Gloucestershire, while still working on his last book Table Number Seven, which was later completed by his wife Adria and his sister Jean.


A Question of Trust penned by Victor Canning describes how an honest thief is outwitted by a seemingly harmless lady who later turns out to be a thief herself.

Horace Danby, the protagonist was an honest man with a penchant for collecting famous books. To meet the expense of his hobby, this otherwise respectable man, looted a safe every year. However, on that particular year he was outwitted by another thief. Posing as the lady of the house, the thief had Horace all flustered and made him open the safe for her, which Horace did in exchange for not being reported to the police. But this very act made the police arrest him, because in his haste to please who he thought was the mistress of the house, Horace made the grave mistake of opening the safe without his gloves. Thus he got himself implicated in a crime he did not commit and ended up serving time for it.

1.What does Horace Danby like to collect?

Ans. Horace Danby likes to collect rare and expensive books

2. Why does he steal every year?

Ans.He steals every year so that he can buy rare and expensive books with the money.

1.Who is speaking to Horace Danby? 

Ans. The person speaking to Horace Danby is a young, pretty woman, who he believes is a family member of the house he has come to rob.

2.Who is the real culprit in the story?

Ans. The young woman who tricked Horace into believing that she was the mistress of the house and made him open the safe for her, was the real culprit.

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?

Ans. (Hint given- students should try to frame their own answers) began to suspect that the lady might have some ulterior motives when instead of calling the police she asked Horace, a thief, to open her safe.

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?

Ans. The lady very slyly convinces Horace that she is the lady of the house. Her mannerisms and confidence all added to give credibility to her being so. Her familiarity with the house dog and her saying that it appears she has been away for a month, all fools Horace. She talks with firmness, moves around the room straightening things, as one would do only in one’s own house, and casually takes a cigarette from a cigarette box lying on the table – by all these subtle ways she manages to deceive Horace completely.

Horace did not suspect any foul play because the crafty lady gave him no reason to do so. She displayed not the slightest hesitation nor any inhibition while talking to Horace. Moreover Horace had been taken aback at being caught and so maybe was not as alert as he could be.

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?

Ans. Horace Danby could not be categorised as a typical thief because stealing was neither his habit nor his profession. He stole only once a year and that too because he wanted to buy books. The rest of the year he worked hard, earning his keep as a locksmith. He was an honest man and also employed two people under him. Thus the description ‘good and respectable but not completely honest, was apt for Horace.

4.Horace Danby was a meticulous planner but still he faltered. Where did he go wrong and why?

Ans. Horace Danby faltered because he had failed to take his hay fever into account. It was his sneezing that had given away his location and brought the woman down to where he was. If she had not come then he might have taken the jewels and got away before she made her appearance. He thought there was no one else in the house so he became complacent and sneezed loudly, when he should have at least muffled it. The second mistake he made was to take it for granted from the word go, that the woman was a member of the family.

Talk about it

1. Do you think Horace Danby was unfairly punished, or that he deserved what he got? 

Ans. Horace Danby deserved what he got, for after all he was a thief and robbed people even if only once a year. However, that particular year, he went to prison for someone else’s crime. It can thus be said that Horace’s past caught up with him and he ended up paying the price for all 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?

Ans. Intentions do not always justify actions, as we cannot do wrong or break the law, even if doing so involves a reason that will benefit all. There are always other lawful ways to achieve the desired end, even if difficult. I believe in the saying that honesty is the best policy. It is always better to stick to truthful and just ways. I would at the most tell a white lie if doing so will cause no harm to anybody, and will actually benefit somebody. In such a case I would not be completely honest, but to me my action would be excusable.


Questions and Answers: 

1. Give a description of Horace Danby.

Ans. Horace Danby was about fifty years old, unmarried and a respectable man. He had a housekeeper with him who took care of his health. Though he was quite in good health, he suffered from attacks of hay fever in summer. He was in the profession of making locks and was successful enough to have hired two helpers. But Horace had a drawback and that was a desperate love for rare and expensive books. Not being able to afford them on his own he robbed some rich person’s safe once a year so as to procure money to purchase these books on the sly.

2. What was the one thing Horace loved? What did he do to sustain his love? 

Ans. Horace loved to collect rare and expensive books.

To sustain his love Horace robbed a safe every year.

3. What was Horace’s latest target? What made this year’s robbery especially easy?

Ans. The jewels hidden in the safe of a house in Shotover Grange were Horace’s latest target. 

The year’s robbery was made especially easy by the fact that a magazine article had described the house, giving a plan of all the rooms, and a picture of the main room where the safe was hidden. It even mentioned that the safe was hidden behind a painting 

4. How much was the jewellery in Grange’s safe worth? How much did Horace expect to get for them? What did he intend to do with the money?

Ans. The jewellery in Grange’s safe was worth about fifteen thousand pounds.

Horace expected to get around five thousand pounds for them, With the money from the robbery, Horace intended to buy three very interesting books that were coming up for sale in the autumn. 

5. How did Horace enter the house? Who did he first meet inside the house? 

Ans. Horace entered the house by using the key to the kitchen door, which he had seen the housekeeper hang on a hook outside.

Horace first met Sherry, the owner’s dog inside the house. 

6. For a moment Horace thought he should collect paintings. What drawback did he say this has as against collecting books?

Ans. Horace says that paintings took up much more space than books and since he had a small house collecting books would be easier. 

7. Why was the house at Shotover Grange empty? Why did Horace go over to the house? How long did he have to accomplish his task?

Ans. The house at Shotover Grange was empty because the owners had gone to London and the two servants had gone to the movies. Horace went over to the empty house because he wanted to rob the jewels present in a safe inside the house. He had four hours to accomplish his task.

8. What caused Horace to start sneezing in the Grange house?

Ans. A large bowl of flowers that was present on the drawing room table caused Horace to start sneezing in the Grange house, Horace suffered from hay fever, disorder that causes one to sneeze due to allergy to pollen.

9. Horace is advised a cure for his hay fever. What is it and who gives it to him?

Ans. Horace is advised that he should identify the particular plant that he is allergic to, which gives him hay fever. This advice is given to him by the lady in red, who he met at the Grange when he came to rob it. 

10. How did Horace’s prints get all over the room?

Ans. Horace had taken off his gloves to give the lady, whom he mistook for the mistress of the house, his cigarette lighter. So when he opened the safe at her behest, he inadvertently left his fingerprints all over the room.

11. Who was the lady dressed in red? How did she trick Horace and why?

Ans. The lady in red was a thief herself and just like Horace, she had come to the house to steal the jewels. The lady tricked Horace into believing that she was the mistress of the house by her mannerisms. She concocted a story about wanting to wear the jewels to a party that very night. She then lied that she had forgotten the combination of the safe. In an attempt to please her and prevent her from reporting him to the police, Horace willingly opened the safe for her. 

The lady tricked Horace into opening the safe because she had come to the Grange’s house with the intention of robbing them, and getting Horace to do her work was a convenient and safe way to get her hands on the Grange’s jewels. 

12. Do you think the lady in red expected that Horace would be arrested? 

Ans. The lady in red was a very smart woman, and she must have been only too happy to note that Horace had opened the safe without wearing his gloves. Hence with his finger prints being all over the place, she must have quite expected that he would be arrested. An added advantage would be that with the culprit behind bars, the police would not be after her.

13. Though the occupants of the house at the Grange were absent, they had certain precautions in place to stop burglars. What were they and how did Horace overcome them?

Ans. The house at the Grange was protected against burglars by the presence of a dog and a burglar alarm, and of course the house was locked. Horace gained entrance into the house by use of the key which he had observed the housekeeper hang on the kitchen door. He then made sure that the dog did not make a sound by calling it by its name and thus making it feel that he was a friend. Finally he cut the wires of the burglar alarm, which was poorly built. Horace thus, overcame all the obstacles to his theft. 

14. Horace mentions that he felt sure that this robbery would be successful. What makes him feel so? 

Ans. Horace was sure that this robbery would be successful because he had been planning for it meticulously for two weeks. He had studied the house and its rooms, its wiring, its paths and also the garden around it. On the day of the robbery the owners were in London and the servants had gone to the movies. So the path was clear and he was confident of success.

15. Give a brief character sketch of Horace Danby. 

Ans. Horace Danby was a bachelor aged about fifty and liked to live a respectable life. He made locks and was a successful businessman. However he did not make enough to nurture his hobby of collecting rare books which were pretty expensive. To fund his expensive hobby he made a big robbery a year, and justified it by thinking that he did no wrong as he was not a threat to society and was looting only the very rich. Horace was a very meticulous planner and took care of minor details. Nonetheless he looked outside, and forgot to look inward, i.e. at his own allergic condition. He was also careless and overconfident, and thus sneezed loudly when he could have stifled it. It was by his carelessness and over eagerness to please the ‘mistress of the house’ that he forgot to use his gloves while opening the safe. Horace also hated the idea of going to prison. 

16. Give a brief character sketch of the woman Horace met at the house he went to rob. 

Ans. The woman Horace met at the house was a pretty, charming, clever, young thief who outsmarted Horace in every aspect. She was very confident and spoke with a quiet, kind but firm voice. She was very cunning and by her subtle actions led Horace to believe that she was the mistress of the house, and even made him open the safe for her. She too like Horace Danby was a meticulous planner, for she too handled the dog with equal ease. She was a fast thinker too, which is apparent from the manner she handled the unexpected presence of Horace Danby and even used it to her advantage.

17. Contrast the appearance of the woman Horace mistook for the mistress of the house at Shotover Grange and the real mistress.

Ans. The woman Horace mistook for the mistress of the house was a very pretty, charming and young woman who spoke with a quiet, firm and kind voice; while the real mistress was a gray-haired woman of sixty had a sharp tongue. 

18. What is meant by ‘honour among thieves’? Who displays lack of such honour?

Ans. The idiom ‘honour among thieves’ means that criminals do not commit crimes against each other. They have some principles which stop them from cheating each other. The woman Horace meets at the house lacks such honour as she, though being a thief herself, cheats Horace into believing that she is the owner of the house. She also gets him to open the safe and makes away with the jewels, while Horace is arrested for it.

Reference to the Context:

1. “The safe was not going to be hard to open.”

(i) Which safe is being referred to here? 

Ans. The safe in the house at Shotover Grange.

(ii) Who intends to open the safe? Why would it not be hard for him to open it?

Ans. Horace Danby intends to open the safe. It would not be hard for him to open the safe because he was a locksmith and so knew all about locks and safes. 

2. “Horace had some hope because she seemed to be amused at meeting him.” 

(i) Who is the ‘she’ referred to here? Who did ‘she’ pretend to be? 

Ans. ‘She’ in the given sentence refers to the young woman in red whom Horace met in the house at Shotover Grange.

She pretended to be the mistress of the house. 

(ii) Who did Horace mistake her for? 

Ans. Horace mistook her to be the mistress of the house he was trying to rob. 

3. “Society must be protected from men like you.”

(i) Who is the speaker? 

Ans. The young woman in red whom Horace met in the house at Shotover Grange is the speaker.

(ii) Who is the ‘you’ referred to here? Explain why society needed to be protected from men like him. 

Ans. ‘You’ in the above quoted sentence refers to Horace Danby.

Society needed to be protected from men like Horace Danby because he was a thief who robbed people of their valuables.

(iii) What was the other person’s reply? 

Ans. Horace replied that he did not threaten society as he stole only from those who he knew to be very rich. He added that he stole for a very good reason and he hated the thought of prison.

4. “He gets very angry when anyone talks about ‘honour among thieves.” 

(i) Who is the ‘he’ referred to here?

Ans. ‘He’ is Horace Danby.

(ii) Why does he get angry whenever anyone talks about ‘honour among thieves’? 

Ans. Horace gets angry whenever anyone talks about ‘honour among thieves’ because it was a thief who had tricked him into opening a safe for her, making him believe that she was the owner who had forgotten the combination of the lock, and then conveniently had made away with the jewels. With his fingerprints on the safe, it was Horace who was arrested and was languishing in prison. If the woman believed in ‘honour among thieves’ she would have revealed her true identity to Horace, maybe shared the loot, but definitely not cheated him.

1A letter To God
2Nelson Mandela (A Long
Walk To Freedom)
3Glimpses of India
IITea From Assam
4Madam Rides the Bus
5A Tiger in the Zoo
7The Ball Poem
8The Tale of Custard the Dragon
1The Midnight Visitor
2A Question of Trust
3Footprint without Feet
4The Hack Driver

5. “For two days he kept his promise to the kind young lady.”

(i) Who is ‘he’ in the above line? 

Ans. ‘He’ refers to Horace Danby. 

(ii) Who is the ‘kind young lady’? Is she really kind?

Ans. The ‘kind young lady’ is the woman he meets at the house at Shotover Grange, which he has gone to rob. He mistakes her for the mistress of the house. No, she is not kind but very cunning, as she is also a thief and is after the same jewels as Horace.

(iii) What promise does ‘he’ make to the ‘kind young lady’? What does ‘he’ do on the third day? 

Ans. In desperation that he be allowed to go and not be handed over to the police, Horace promises the woman that he will never commit burglary again.

On the third day of the event at Shotover Grange, Horace is again tempted by the thought of the books he wants to buy and begins to think that he will have to plan another burglary. However by noon time he is arrested for the burglary at the house.

Multiple Choice Questions:

1. How old was Horace Danby?

  1. About fifty years
  2. About twenty five years 
  3. Forty years
  4. Thirty years

Ans. (a) About fifty years

2. What problem did Horace face every year during summer?

  1.  Lack of business 
  2. Yellow fever
  3. Hay fever
  4. Sun stroke

Ans. (c) Hay fever

3. For how long had Horace been studying the house at Shotover Grange? 

  1. A day
  2. More than a year
  3. Four hours
  4. More than two weeks

Ans. (d) More than two weeks

4. What is Horace’s current profession?

  1.  Locksmith
  2. Assistant librarian in the prison.
  3. Thief
  4. Cook

Ans. (b) Assistant librarian in the prison

5. Who is the writer of ‘A Question of Trust’? 

  1. Robert Frost
  2. HG Wells
  3. Victor Canning
  4. K. A. Abbas

Ans. (c) Victor Canning

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