A Question of Trust
Horace Danby collects rare books, and finances his hobby by breaking safes. This year, however, he is caught by a pretty young lady claiming to be the wife of the house owner. She tricks him into opening the safe and handing her the jewels. Horace is later arrested for the jewel robbery.
Horace Danby was generally considered to be a good and respectable citizen. He was a fifty year old bachelor. He lived with a housekeeper. He was an expert lock maker. However, he was not completely honest. He had been to prison, fifteen years ago for stealing jewels. He had no desire to become honest.He was careful lest he should run into difficulties for his dishonesty.
Horace Danby hated prison. He was heartily fond of rare and expensive books. He used to commit one theft a year on an average. The stolen money lasted for the year. He chose the house at Shotover Grange to commit his next burglary. He studied the design of the house carefully for a fortnight. He found that the family had gone to London and the servants to the movie. He broke into the house one afternoon. He hoped to get fifteen thousand pounds worth of jewels from the safe. The jewellery would enable him to buy the books he wanted. He put on his gloves. He took the key from its usual place. He pacified the pet dog by addressing it with love. He reached the safe, placed in the drawing room behind a painting.
He was suffering from hay fever. The smell of the flowers at the table made him sneeze. Just then, a young beautiful woman in red clothes entered the house. She posed to be the mistress of the house. She suggested him that he should see a doctor if he was serious about his work. His sneezing had brought her down from the top of the house. She thanked her stars that she had returned in time not expecting to see a burglar in the house. To avoid trouble, Horace started conversing with her in a pleasant manner. He replied that he too had not expected to find her there. She got furious when he asked her to let him go. She threatened to get him arrested. The thought of going to prison made Horace shudder. He pledged that he would never repeat such kind of thing if he was let off.
The woman took a cigarette from a silver box. Horace took off his gloves and held his lighter towards her. She promised to let him go if he did something for her. Horace readily consented to the proposal. The woman said that she had come to take her jewels as she had to attend a party. She had forgotten the numbers to open the safe. She bade Horace to open it. She would get the safe repaired. Horace broke the safe open and gave her the jewels. Then, he was allowed to go.
Horace’s fingerprints were found on the safe. He was arrested for the jewel robbery on the third day.The house lady was an aged woman of sixty. He realised that he was befooled by a lady who was also a thief.
Short Answer Type Questions
Question. Why is Horace Danby described as good and respectable but not completely honest?
Answer. Horace Danby was a good person. He made locks. He was very successful in his business. He had engaged two helpers in his business. But he was not completely honest because he robbed a safe every year.
Question. Who is the real culprit in the story, the young lady in red or Horace Danby? Comment.
Answer. Law of any land works on evidence. Horace Danby opened the safe without wearing his gloves. He didn’t think it necessary to wear them as he thought he was working for ‘the lady of the house’. So the police matched his fingerprints and he was arrested. The lady in the red was actually the real culprit. She made Horace open the safe for her. She was also a thief and decamped with the jewels. But in the eyes of the law, Horace was the real culprit because the evidence was against him.
Question. ‘Horace Danby was good and respectable but not completely honest.’ Is this an apt description of Horace? If yes, why ?
Answer. Yes, Horace was good but not completely honest. He loved expensive books. So, he stole once a year. He was not aggressive by nature but only submissive as seen in the case of the lady thief in red.
Question. What went wrong when Horace Danby robbed at Shotover Grange?
Answer. While Horace Danby was inside the house, the lady in red came and announced that she was the owner of the house. Her appearance was such that he was fooled. She asked him to open the safe for her. Horace left his finger prints all over there. Hence, he was arrested.
Question. What was Horace Danby's hobby? How did he manage to fulfil it?
Answer. Horace Danby was not an ordinary thief. He loved rare and expensive books. So, he robbed a safe every year and through an agent secretly bought the books he loved. Each year, he planned carefully just what he would do.
Question. Describe the lady in red.
Answer. She was a young and smart thief. She was very graceful, resourceful and impressive. She spoke to Horace in an authoritative voice as if she was the mistress of the house. She was very intelligent. She was able to outsmart Danby easily. She not only robbed at Shotover Grange but also Danby Horace.
Long Answer Type Questions
Question. Horace Danby was a respectable man but he could not be called loyal. What do you think could be the reasons for leading a respectable man like him on the path of thievery? Did he feel lack of sense of freedom? Was it not in his nature to accept the differences among people regarding their social status? Discuss the values he should have possessed.
Answer. Horace Danby’s habits were not typical of a thief. He was fond of books was a respectable man but his passion for books lead him to thievery. He used to steal only once. In a year so, he was never stealing more than his needs. He stole only to buy rare books; he loved rare and expensive books.Moreover, Danby used to rob only rich people. It was his nature. To accept the differences among people regarding their social status. He was aware that people with high socio-background can help him to fulfill his desire. He found such people easy to rob.
Question. What was the passion of Horace Danby and how did he satisfy it ?
Answer. Horace Danby was a good and respectable citizen. He normally remained hale and hearty except for the attacks of hay fever which he usually had in summers. But there was another aspect of his personality. He was not completely honest. If he had a passion for something, it was rare and expensive books. He loved them. To satisfy his passion, he used to rob a safe every year. Each year, he planned the robbery carefully and then would steal enough to last for twelve months. His passion led him to buy the books secretly through an agent and thus satisfy himself. He kept a track of upcoming books and planned robbery accordingly once in a year. For the sake of books, he took the risk of robbing jewels from people’s safe and sold it to buy the books he loved through an agent.
Question. Give the reasons which made Horace Danby commit a theft at Shotover Grange. Why was he arrested although he failed to rob at Shotover Grange?
Answer. Horace chose Shotover Grange after a thorough study of the house for two weeks. He was looking at its rooms, its electric wiring, its paths and its garden. It was safe because the family was in London and the two servants, who remained in the Grange had gone to the movie. There were about fifteen thousand pounds worth of jewels in the Grange safe. If he sold them one by one, he epxected to get atleast five thousand, enough to make him comfortable 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.
When Horace was about to approach the safe, a lady in red came and announced that she was the owner of the house. Her apperance was such that Horace was fooled. He became eager to please her. She asked him to open a safe for her. With his gloveless hands, he opened the safe. So, his fingerprints were found on the safe and he was arrested after two days.