top of page
For 2025 Board Exam
CBSE Competency Based Questions:
Class 10
Class 12

A Question of Trust: CBE Questions | NCERT Solution | Board Exam 2024

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

A Question of Trust: Competency Based Questions, NCERT Solution, Extract Questions, English Board Exam 2024

Lesson Architecture


  • The theme of the story "A Question of Trust" revolves around the idea that trust and honor are not necessarily present among individuals involved in illegal or dishonest activities.

  • The story presents a cautionary tale about misplaced trust and the consequences of deception, especially in criminal circles.

1. Deception and Betrayal : The story highlights how easily trust can be broken in the criminal world. Horace Danby, the protagonist, is a skilled thief who appears to be good and respectable on the surface. However, he falls victim to a young woman who also happens to be a thief. She deceives him into believing that she is the owner of the house and manipulates him into breaking open the safe. This deception leads to Danby's arrest, revealing that there is no honor or trust among thieves, even when they seem to share a similar profession.

2. The Fragility of Trust: The story shows how trust can be fragile and easily exploited, especially when dealing with individuals engaged in criminal activities. Horace Danby's trust in the young woman leads him to make a grave mistake, resulting in his arrest and imprisonment. It underscores the idea that trust should be placed with great caution, especially among people involved in illegal endeavors.

3. The Irony of Deceit: The story highlights the irony of a professional thief being deceived by another thief. Horace Danby, who is accustomed to planning his burglaries meticulously, becomes a victim of clever manipulation, making him realize that he cannot trust anyone, even those within his own criminal profession.

4. The Consequences of Dishonesty: "A Question of Trust" illustrates the repercussions of dishonesty and criminal behavior. While Danby himself is a thief, he experiences the harsh reality of being deceived, leading to his arrest and imprisonment. The story emphasizes that dishonest actions have consequences, and no one is exempt from facing the outcomes of their deeds.

  • Overall, the theme of the story serves as a moral lesson about the importance of caution, integrity, and the understanding that trust should not be taken for granted, especially in a world where dishonesty and deception are prevalent.

  • It warns against assuming that there is honor among thieves, as even those within the same profession may exploit trust for their own gain.


 Plot: A Question of Trust
| Horace Danby's Background                                    |
|  - Believed to be good and honest citizen                     |
|  - Fifty years old, unmarried, lived with housekeeper        |
|  - Suffered from hay fever in summer                          |
|  - Successful business of making locks, well-off financially |
|  Horace's Weakness                                           |
|  - Obsessed with rare and expensive books                    |
|  - Robs a safe every year to buy the books he loves          |
|  - Previously served a prison sentence for this              |
|Planning the Robbery at Shotover Grange                       |
|  - Studied the house for two weeks                            |
|  - Housekeeper hung the key to the kitchen door outside      |
|  - Opens the door, sneezes due to flowers, starts working    |
|  - Encounters a young and pretty woman in the drawing room   |
|Encounter with the Young Woman                                |
|  - Horace tries to convince her not to report the robbery    |
|  - Promises never to steal again if she lets him go          |
|  - She agrees but asks him to open the safe for her          |
|  - Horace opens the safe, gives her the jewels, and escapes  |
|Aftermath of the Robbery                                      |
|  - Horace keeps his promise for a couple of days             |
|  - Eventually, he decides to plan another robbery            |
|  - He gets arrested by the police, leaving fingerprints     |
|  - No one believes his story of the woman's involvement     |
|  - Ends up serving his second prison sentence as librarian  |
|Horace's Thoughts and Regrets                                 |
|  - Reflects on being tricked by the clever young lady       |

Explanation of Important Lines

Yes, Horace Danby was good and respectable — but not completely honest. (Page 20/Paragraph 1)


In brief, Horace Danby was perceived as a good and respectable person, but he had a hidden flaw: he was not completely honest. Despite his outward appearance, he engaged in illegal activities, robbing safes each year to support his love for rare and expensive books. This contrast between his public image and his hidden dishonesty adds complexity to his character.

Horace saw them go, and he felt happy in spite of a little tickle of hay fever in his nose. (Page 20/Paragraph 3)

In this sentence, the author describes how Horace Danby observed the two servants leaving the house, likely creating an opportunity for him to carry out his planned robbery. Despite experiencing a mild tickle of hay fever in his nose (a minor discomfort), Horace still felt happy or content with the situation because the absence of the servants allowed him to proceed with his burglary without interruption. The mention of the hay fever tickle adds a touch of realism to the character's experience, showing that even though he is engaged in unlawful activities, he is still subject to ordinary human sensations and emotions.

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. There were three very interesting books coming up for sale in the autumn. Now he would get the money he wanted to buy them. (Page 20-21/Paragraph 4)


In brief, the passage explains that the safe at Shotover Grange contains jewels worth fifteen thousand pounds. Horace Danby plans to steal these jewels and sell them individually, expecting to make at least five thousand pounds, which would be enough to satisfy his desires for another year. With this money, he looks forward to purchasing three intriguing books that will be available for sale in the upcoming autumn.

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! (Page 21/Para 7)


In brief, Horace Danby reflects on people's foolishness when they possess valuable items. He realizes that the owners of the house at Shotover Grange have made a mistake by publicly revealing information about the location of their safe in a magazine article. The article provided a detailed plan of the house and even mentioned that the painting in the room hid a safe. This careless disclosure makes it easier for Horace to plan his burglary and access the valuable items in the house.

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.” (Page 21/Para 11)


In brief, the lady advises Horace Danby to seek medical attention for his ailment, which seems to be caused by exposure to a specific plant. She overhears him from a distance and suggests that he should see a doctor if he is serious about his work.

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. (Page 22/Para 1)


In the story "A Question of Trust," this passage introduces a woman who unexpectedly enters the scene while Horace Danby, the protagonist, is in the process of attempting a burglary at Shotover Grange. The woman's voice is described as quiet and kindly, yet with a sense of firmness, suggesting she has a certain authority or confidence.

As the woman stands in the doorway, Horace notices her pet cat, Sherry, rubbing against her, indicating a friendly and familiar relationship between them. Her appearance is described as young, pretty, and dressed in red.

Without appearing alarmed or disturbed by the presence of a burglar in the house, the woman casually walks to the fireplace and starts straightening the ornaments there. This behavior implies that she is comfortable in the house and familiar with her surroundings, suggesting that she might be connected to the place in some way.

The passage adds an element of surprise and tension to the story, as Horace is caught off guard by the unexpected presence of the woman. Her confident demeanor and ease in the house create uncertainty for Horace and lead to a twist in the plot, making the reader curious about her identity and role in the unfolding events.

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.” (Page 23, Para 1)


In brief, Horace suggests a plan to disable the telephone wires and prevent the person from seeking help or contacting anyone for a few hours.

His statement indicates that he has devious intentions and is willing to take drastic measures to achieve his goals. The smile on his face while mentioning this plan adds to the intrigue and ambiguity surrounding his character.

“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…” (Page 23)


The woman confesses that she had promised her husband to take her jewels to the bank before leaving for London, but she left them in the safe at Shotover Grange instead. She now wants to retrieve the jewels to wear them to a party that night. However, her hesitation suggests that something has gone wrong or she is facing an unexpected obstacle in accessing the safe.

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’. (Page 24)


In this passage, it is revealed that Horace Danby is currently working as the assistant librarian in prison. Despite his imprisonment, he often reflects on the memory of the charming and clever young lady who deceived him. The lady was also a thief like him, but she tricked him during their burglary attempt at Shotover Grange.

Horace's anger is evident when the topic of "honour among thieves" is brought up. This phrase refers to the belief that even criminals have a code of conduct or a sense of loyalty to each other. However, his personal experience has shattered this notion. Being deceived by someone within his own profession makes him dismiss the idea of trust or honor among thieves, as he realizes that even those in the criminal world can betray one another.

NCERT Solution

Read and Find Out [Page 20]

Q1. What does Horace Danby like to collect?

Ans. Horace Danby likes to collect rare and expensive books. He has a passion for these valuable books, which he finds worth stealing from safes every year to support his collection. Despite his respectable appearance and successful lock-making business, his weakness lies in acquiring these cherished books through his illegal activities.

Q2. Why does he steal every year?

Ans. Horace Danby steals every year because he has an intense passion for collecting rare and expensive books. However, his love for these books exceeds his financial means. To support his book-collecting hobby, he resorts to robbing a safe annually, ensuring that he acquires enough money to buy the books he desires through an agent secretly. Despite the risk and the consequences of his criminal behavior, his overwhelming desire to possess these valuable books compels him to engage in theft regularly.

Read and Find Out [Page 22]

Q1. Who is speaking to Horace Danby?

Ans. It is a woman who enters the room unexpectedly while Horace is attempting a burglary at Shotover Grange. She is described as young, pretty, and dressed in red.

Q2. Who is the real culprit in the story? How do you Know?

Ans. In the story "A Question of Trust," the real culprit is the young and pretty woman who deceives Horace Danby.

She poses as the owner of the house at Shotover Grange, tricks Horace into believing her story, and manipulates him into breaking open the safe for her. In reality, she is a fellow thief who takes advantage of Horace's trust and commits the burglary herself while shifting the blame onto him. Her cunning deception leads to Horace's arrest, making her the true mastermind behind the crime.

Think About It (Page 25)

Q1. 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: As the story progresses, suspicions about the lady's true identity start to arise before its conclusion. Her calm and composed demeanor upon encountering Horace Danby appears peculiar and raises doubts about her authenticity.

The doubts solidify into clarity when she requests Horace to break open the safe for her, claiming that she had forgotten the combination. It becomes evident that something is not quite right about her story. If she truly had access to the house, she could have simply called a locksmith to open the safe instead of resorting to blackmailing a thief to do it for her. This discrepancy in her actions points to the fact that she may not be who she claims to be.

Moreover, her assurance that the safe will be fixed before her husband's return only adds to the suspicion. If she were the legitimate owner, she could have taken a more reasonable approach to resolve the situation rather than involving a burglar.

Another telltale sign is the absence of the servants in the house. If the lady of the house had truly returned, the servants would not have gone to the movies, as they would be needed to attend to her.

Collectively, these indications lead to the conclusion that the lady is not what she seems. Her calmness, unusual request, and the absence of servants all point to a possible deception, making the reader question her true intentions and identity as the story unfolds.

Q2. 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 skillfully employed subtle details to deceive Horace into believing she was the mistress of the house:

(i) Her appearance was impeccable, befitting the mistress of a large estate, which created the illusion of authority and ownership.

(ii) The dog's calm and affectionate behavior towards her reinforced the perception that she belonged there, as she lovingly interacted with the pet and addressed it by name.

(iii) Her confident and familiar movements as she walked to the fireplace, straightened the ornaments, and casually took a cigarette from a silver case gave the impression that she was at ease in the surroundings.

(iv) By insisting on calling the police to protect society from Horace's actions, she cleverly reinforced her role as the homeowner, adding to the illusion of her authority. Horace, already anxious about getting caught, easily fell for these small indications, further convincing himself that she was indeed the rightful owner of the house.

Upon realizing that she would release him if he opened the safe for her, Horace didn't hesitate to comply. The combination of her deceptive details and her offer of freedom was enough for him to act without suspicion, thus falling into her trap.

Q3. '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's characterization as atypical for a thief is accurate, as his lifestyle starkly contrasts with that of the stereotypical criminal. For most of the year, he maintains the appearance of a respectable individual, leading a quiet life as a fifty-year-old unmarried businessman. Unlike the common image of a thief engaged in illicit activities for personal gain, Horace's motivations are rather unique—he steals with the sole purpose of acquiring rare and expensive books, an inherently more cultured pursuit.

However, despite his relatively refined tastes and appearances, it is important to acknowledge that Horace is still a thief, engaging in dishonest and illegal behavior. While he may possess qualities that appear respectable on the surface, his criminal activities raise questions about the true extent of his respectability. The contradiction lies in the fact that even though he pursues an intellectual interest like collecting books, his actions still place him in the category of being dishonest and untrustworthy. Hence, labeling him as entirely "respectable" becomes questionable due to his dual identity as both a businessman and a thief.

Q4. Horace Danby was a meticulous planner but still he faltered. Where did he go wrong, and why?

Ans: At Shotover Grange, Horace's lack of critical thinking and trust in his observations proved detrimental. Despite spending two weeks studying the household, he failed to rely on his own knowledge and instincts. He noticed the absence of the servants, which indicated that the mistress of the house was not present or returning soon. However, when confronted by the mysterious woman, he naively believed her entitled demeanor and fell for her deception.

Unlike the composed and quick-thinking woman, Horace became fearful and desperate to avoid prison. His fear clouded his judgment, and he pleaded with her to release him. His desperation led to carelessness, as he heedlessly removed his gloves to please her, unknowingly leaving behind incriminating fingerprints for the police to find.

Horace's behavior serves as a cautionary example of how those engaged in wrongdoings often encounter the consequences of their actions. His blind trust and fear allowed him to be easily deceived, emphasizing the notion that trouble will inevitably catch up with those who engage in dishonest and unlawful activities.

CBE Questions

Q1. Horace Danby was punished for a crime he did not commit. Do you feel sorry for him? Why? Why not?

Ans: Horace Danby's situation is indeed complex, as he is punished for a crime he did not commit at Shotover Grange. However, it is essential to recognize that he has committed several other similar crimes in the past, stealing from various homes throughout the years. Despite only being caught once, it is reasonable to assume that Horace has likely engaged in these criminal activities for a long time, given his age and experience.

While it may be tempting to feel sympathy for him due to the wrongful accusation, there are several factors that dampen this sentiment. Horace's criminal record shows a pattern of unlawful behavior, making it difficult to entirely view him as an innocent victim. He has consistently used his skills to break into safes and steal valuables, albeit escaping detection in most instances.

Furthermore, the story highlights that Horace's downfall was due to being outsmarted by the young lady. If she had not intervened, he would have successfully stolen the jewelry from Shotover Grange, adding to his list of successful burglaries. This indicates that Horace does not have remorse for his actions, as he would have taken pride in his criminal accomplishments, whether it involved breaking safes or evading capture.

Ultimately, while the situation of being falsely accused might evoke some sympathy, the overall character of Horace and his repeated criminal activities make it challenging to feel sorry for him. The story portrays him as a seasoned and unrepentant thief, making it difficult to view his punishment as entirely undeserved.

Q2. Is it fair to say that Horace Danby was good and respectable but not entirely honest? Please provide reasons to support your answer.

Ans: Horace Danby is widely perceived as a good and respectable citizen due to his stable life as a bachelor and the success of his lock-making business. He has managed to maintain a clean reputation, with no negative rumors surrounding him. However, there lies a hidden secret that undermines this seemingly blameless facade. Behind his respectable exterior, Horace indulges in a criminal activity: robbing people to support his passion for collecting rare and expensive books.

Given the severity of his secret actions, describing Horace as "not completely honest" appears to be an understatement. His behavior goes beyond mere dishonesty; it involves committing illegal acts that are inexcusable. While Horace might argue that he only targets wealthy individuals and steals for a supposed "good reason," such justifications do not excuse his criminal behavior. Robbing others cannot be justified under any circumstance.

The statement that Horace is good and respectable seems to downplay the seriousness of his offense. Engaging in theft goes against the very definition of being a good and respectable person. The characterization of Horace as "not completely honest" appears to soften the truth about his criminality, almost as if using euphemistic language to mitigate the severity of his actions.

In summary, the assessment that Horace Danby is good and respectable is not entirely fair, as it fails to acknowledge the gravity of his criminal activities. His unlawful actions tarnish his image as an upstanding citizen, highlighting the need for a more accurate and critical evaluation of his character.

Q3. What is your interpretation of 'honour among thieves'? Is it genuinely possible for thieves to have honor among themselves? Discuss your views in the context of the story.

Ans: In the context of the story "A Question of Trust," "honour among thieves" refers to the belief that criminals, despite their illicit activities, adhere to a code of conduct or loyalty to each other. Horace Danby, the protagonist, claims to follow this principle, asserting that he only steals from the wealthy and for a just cause. However, the arrival of the cunning young lady challenges this notion.

The lady pretends to be the owner of Shotover Grange, a fellow thief who deceives Horace and manipulates him into breaking open the safe for her. This betrayal highlights the absence of true honor among thieves. Despite Horace's belief in their camaraderie, the lady prioritizes her own interests and escapes while leaving him to face the consequences of the crime.

The story demonstrates that "honour among thieves" is merely an illusion. Self-interest and deception override any loyalty or integrity. Horace's blind trust in the lady and his eagerness to please her lead to his downfall, exposing the vulnerability of those who put their faith in such an idea. Ultimately, the story suggests that genuine honor is not achievable in the criminal world, where deceit and self-preservation often prevail.

Recommended Reading



English With A Difference (

Hi, thanks for stopping by!

We have insatiable passion for Literature & Language and to empower English learners to build up a rock solid foundation. 

Let the lessons come to you.

Thanks for subscribing!

  • Instagram
  • YouTube
bottom of page