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The Midnight Visitor CBSE Class 10 NCERT English Footprints without Feet Book Lesson 3 Explanation, Summary, Difficult words

By Ruchika Gupta

CBSE Class 10 English Lesson Explanation Notes

The Midnight Visitor Class 10 English Footprints without Feet Book Lesson 3 - Detailed explanation of the lesson along with meanings of difficult words. Also, the explanation is followed by a Summary of the lesson. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson have been covered.

Class 10 English (Footprints without Feet) Chapter 3 - The Midnight Visitor

By- Robert Arthur

 

midnight visitor

 

Introduction to the lesson

Ausable, a secret agent, is expecting a very important report. Another secret agent, Max, threatens him with a pistol, demanding the report. Does Ausable outwit him?

The story is about a secret agent, Ausable who has spent an evening with a writer named Fowler who had expected that as he would be meeting a secret agent he would be looking into a lot of adventure. But instead, he rather gets bored when he meets Ausable as the things that happened were exactly the opposite of what he had imagined. How Ausable gets rid of his unexpected guest proves his expertise as a secret agent.

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robert jay arthur

About the Author

Robert Jay Arthur Jr. (November 10, 1909 – May 2, 1969) was a writer of speculative fiction known for his work with The Mysterious Traveler radio series and for writing The Three Investigators, a series of young adult novels. Arthur was honoured twice by the Mystery Writers of America with an Edgar Award for Best Radio Drama. He also wrote scripts for television such as The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock's TV show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

The Midnight Visitor Summary

The story is about a witty secret agent named Ausable. He was with a writer named Fowler throughout the evening as Fowler was interested in spending time with a secret agent but when he spends time with Ausable he realizes that he is exactly the opposite of what he had imagined and that he was a bore. Ausable then told Fowler that he had been thinking wrong and that soon he would be looking at a report that would change the country’s future. Then Ausable takes Fowler to his room and when they entered the room a guy with a gun named Max was standing in the room. He asked them to be comfortable until the reports about the missiles arrived in 30 minutes as he was there to steal the reports. This was the first adventure out of many that Fowler had expected when he had thought of meeting a secret agent. While they were talking, Ausable started with a story about how a guy had entered from the balcony last month below his room. While this talk was going on, a sudden knock was heard at the door. Ausable said that it must be the police as he wanted them to check on him after sometime because he wanted to make the reports that were coming in extra secure. Max, pointing his gun towards them, said that he would be waiting in the balcony and that Ausable should send away the police otherwise he would shoot them and even take the risk of being caught by the police. As the doorknob is turned, Max jumps out of the window and a loud scream is heard. The door opens and a waiter comes in and says that he has brought the wine that Mr. Ausable had ordered. He keeps the bottle, tray and glasses on the table and leaves. Fowler is surprised and asks him about the police to which Ausable replied that there was no police. Then Fowler asked what about the person who was waiting in the balcony outside the window to which Ausable replied that the person would not return and that there was no balcony there. This shows the quick wit of Ausable as he took advantage of the situation and made Max nervous due to which he jumped out of the window without thinking and looking down. He had jumped from the top floor of the hotel and would have possibly died. This is how Ausable outwitted Max and saved himself from a very dangerous situation.

The Midnight Visitor, SEE THE VIDEO

 

 

The Midnight Visitor Lesson and explanation (with word meanings)

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AUSABLE did not fit any description of a secret agent Fowler had ever read. Following him down the musty corridor of the gloomy French hotel where Ausable had a room, Fowler felt let down. It was a small room, on the sixth and top floor, and scarcely a setting for a romantic adventure. Ausable was, for one thing, fat. Very fat. And then there was his accent. Though he spoke French and German passably, he had never altogether lost the American accent he had brought to Paris from Boston twenty years ago. “You are disappointed,” Ausable said wheezily over his shoulder. “You were told that I was a secret agent, a spy, dealing in espionage and danger. You wished to meet me because you are a writer, young and romantic. You envisioned mysterious figures in the night, the crack of pistols, drugs in the wine.” “Instead, you have spent a dull evening in a French music hall with a sloppy fat man who, instead of having messages slipped into his hand by dark-eyed beauties, gets only a prosaic telephone call making an appointment in his room. You have been bored!” The fat man chuckled to himself as he unlocked the door of his room and stood aside to let his frustrated guest enter. “You are disillusioned,” Ausable told him. “But take cheer, my young friend. Presently you will see a paper, a quite important paper for which several men and women have risked their lives, come to me. Some day soon that paper may well affect the course of history. In that thought is drama, is there not?”

Musty- having a stale, mouldy, or damp smell.
Corridor- a long passage in a building from which doors lead into rooms.
Gloomy- dark or poorly lit, especially so as to appear depressing or frightening.
Scarcely- only just; almost not.
Accent- a distinctive way of pronouncing a language, especially one associated with a particular country, area, or social class.
Passably- just well enough; tolerably well
Espionage- spying
Envisioned- imagine as a future possibility; visualize.
Sloppy-  carelessly dressed
Prosaic- : ordinary
Chuckled- : laughed quietly, without opening his mouth
Disillusioned- disappointed in someone or something that one discovers to be less good than one had believed.

Fowler felt that Ausable did not look like a secret agent at all. He was following Ausable to his room through a smelly and a bit scary corridor. His room was on the top floor which was the sixth floor of the hotel. Ausable was a very fat man and his accent was American although he had been living in Paris for the last twenty years and could speak a bit of French and German. Then Ausable tells Fowler that although he was told that he was going to meet a secret agent, a spy agent who had been dealing with danger, crime scenes and drugs but Fowler was disappointed. He had to spend the evening in a music hall with an old, poorly dressed, extremely fat man who used traditional methods for making the information travel rather than beauties delivering to him.  He then exclaimed that Fowler was bored with him. As soon as he opened the door of his room, Ausable gave way to Fowler. He entered the the room, closed the door and turned on the light. Then Ausable told Fowler that he had been thinking all wrong and the best part was yet to come as they would soon be coming across a paper for which a lot of men and women had risked their lives and that report was very important.

As he spoke, Ausable closed the door behind him. Then he switched on the light. And as the light came on, Fowler had his first authentic thrill of the day. For halfway

midnight

across the room, a small automatic pistol in his hand, stood a man. Ausable blinked a few times. “Max,” he wheezed, “you gave me quite a start. I thought you were in Berlin. What are you doing here in my room? Max was slender, a little less than tall, with features that suggested slightly the crafty, pointed countenance of a fox. There was about him — aside from the gun — nothing especially menacing. “The report,” he murmured. “The report that is being brought to you tonight concerning some new missiles. I thought I would take it from you. It will be safer in my hands than in yours.” Ausable moved to an armchair and sat down heavily. “I’m going to raise the devil with the management this time, and you can bet on it,” he said grimly. “This is the second time in a month that somebody has got into my room through that nuisance of a balcony!” Fowler’s eyes went to the single window of the room. It was an ordinary window, against which now the night was pressing blackly.  “Balcony?” Max said, with a rising inflection. “No, a passkey. I did not know about the balcony. It might have saved me some trouble had I known.”

Authentic- of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine.
Halfway- at or to a point equidistant between two others.
Wheezed- spoke breathing noisily and heavily
Slender-  gracefully thin.
Countenance- a person's face or facial expression.
Menacing- suggesting the presence of danger; threatening.
Murmured- say something in a low or indistinct voice.
Missile- : weapons directed by remote control or automatically
Raise the devil- make a noisy disturbance.
Grimly- in a very serious, gloomy, or depressing manner.
Nuisance- a person or thing causing inconvenience or annoyance.
Balcony- a platform enclosed by a wall or balustrade on the outside of a building, with access from an upper-floor window or door.
Inflection- a change in the form of a word (typically the ending) to express a grammatical function or attribute such as tense, mood, person, number, case, and gender.
Passkey- a master key.

After saying this, Ausable closed the door behind him and turned on the light. As soon as the light was turned on, Fowler experienced his first thrill of visiting a secret agent as he saw a man with an automatic pistol standing across the room. Ausable recognized the man as Max and asked him what was he doing in his room when he was supposed to be in Berlin. Max was thin, a bit short and his face looked a bit like that of a fox. He seemed harmless except the gun he was holding. Max said that he wanted the report about the missiles for which Ausable had been waiting as he thought that he would be able to keep it more safely. This is said to create humour as he just wanted the reports for his own benefit. Ausable sat down on a chair and started speaking that he would definitely have a fight with the management of the hotel as this was the second time that someone had climbed up from the balcony of the room. Then Fowler looked towards the window and saw that it was an ordinary window and that it was pretty much dark outside. Max said that he came through the masterkey and did not know about the balcony. Had he known about it his work would have become much easier.

“It’s not my balcony,” Ausable said with extreme irritation. “It belongs to the next apartment.” He glanced explanatorily at Fowler. “You see,” he said, “this room used to be part of a large unit, and the next room — through that door there — used to be the living room. It had the balcony, which extends under my window now. You can get onto it from the empty room two doors down — and somebody did, last month. The management promised to block it off. But they haven’t.” Max glanced at Fowler, who was standing stiffly not far from Ausable, and waved the gun with a commanding gesture. “Please sit down,” he said. “We have a wait of half an hour, I think.” “Thirty-one minutes,” Ausable said moodily. “The appointment was for twelve-thirty. I wish I knew how you learned about the report, Max.” The little spy smiled evilly. “And we wish we knew how your people got the report. But no harm has been done. I will get it back tonight. What is that? Who is at the door?” Fowler jumped at the sudden knocking at the door. Ausable just smiled. “That will be the police,” he said. “I thought that such an important paper as the one we are waiting for should have a little extra protection. I told them to check on me to make sure everything was all right.”

Glanced- take a brief or hurried look.
Explanatorily- serving to explain
Stiffly- in a manner that is not relaxed or friendly.
Waved- move to and fro with a swaying motion while remaining fixed to one point.
Commanding- having a position of authority.
Gesture- a movement of part of the body, especially a hand or the head, to express an idea or meaning
Evilly- morally wrong or bad

Ausable continued that it was not his balcony through which people had tried coming in but was of the next apartment. He then started explaining things to Fowler that his room used to be a part of a large unit and the room next to his room used to be a living room. Then he said that it had the balcony that came till the window of his room. Then he said that to climb up to his room, one needed to go to the empty room which was two rooms away from his room and climb up the balcony. Then he said that somebody did climb up the balcony last month as well. He also told Fowler that the management had told him that they would surely get it blocked but they still hadn’t done so. Max looked at Fowler who was standing near Ausable. Max asked Fowler to sit down as there was still half an hour for the report to reach Ausable. Ausable joked that it was not 30 minutes but 31 minutes that were left for the report to reach them. The report was supposed to come in around 12:30 at night. Ausable said that he wished he had known how Max had come to know about the report coming in. Max smiled wickedly and said that he also wished to know how Ausable and his team had got the report. He added that nothing had happened to the report because he would take it from Ausable straight to his team. Then suddenly a knock is heard on the door and Max panics. Fowler is also scared by the knock on the door. Ausable replied to Max’s question about who was on the door that it must be the police because he had asked them to check on him after sometime as he thought that the report he was about to receive was important and definitely required extra attention. He had asked the police to check on him after every sometime to ensure that everything was alright.

midnight

Max bit his lip nervously. The knocking was repeated. “What will you do now, Max?” Ausable asked. “If I do not answer the door, they will enter anyway. The door is unlocked. And they will not hesitate to shoot.” Max’s face was black with anger as he backed swiftly towards the window. He swung a leg over the sill. “Send them away!” he warned. “I will wait on the balcony. Send them away or I’ll shoot and take my chances!” The knocking at the door became louder and a voice was raised. “Mr Ausable! Mr Ausable!” Keeping his body twisted so that his gun still covered the

waiter

fat man and his guest, the man at the window grasped the frame with his free hand to support himself. Then he swung his other leg up and over the window-sill. The doorknob turned. Swiftly Max pushed with his left hand to free himself from the sill and drop to the balcony. And then, as he dropped, he screamed once, shrilly. The door opened and a waiter stood there with a tray, a bottle and two glasses. “Here is the drink you ordered for when you returned,” he said, and set the tray on the table, deftly uncorked the bottle, and left the room. White-faced, Fowler stared after him. “But...” he stammered, “the police...” “There were no police.” Ausable sighed. “Only Henry, whom I was expecting.” “But won’t that man out on the balcony…?” Fowler began. “No,” said Ausable, “he won’t return. You see, my young friend, there is no balcony.”

Hesitate- to be reluctant or wait to act because of fear, indecision, or disinclination
Swiftly- moving or capable of moving with great speed or velocity; fleet; rapid
Sill- the horizontal piece or member beneath a window, door, or other opening.
Shrilly- piercingly; in a high pitch
Deftly- dexterous; nimble; skillful; clever
Uncorked- to draw the cork from
Stammered- to speak with involuntary breaks and pauses, or with spasmodic repetitions of syllables or sounds
Sighed- to let out one's breath audibly, as from sorrow, weariness, or relief

Max became nervous about the situation as the knocking continued and Ausable asked him what would he do next. Ausable added that the door was unlocked and if he did not let him open the door, the police would enter anyway and would definitely shoot if they saw him with a gun. Max was angered by the situation and ran quickly. The knocking on the door grew louder and someone from outside called for Mr. Ausable twice. Max was sitting on the window sill and was facing inside so that his gun could still be pointed towards Mr. Ausable and Fowler. Max then held the window sill and sat at the sill with both legs outside. The doorknob turned and Max thought that the police would be coming in so, he jumped from the sill to fall on the balcony and when he fell, a loud and shrill scream was heard. When the door opened, a waiter stood at the door with a tray, a bottle of wine and two glasses. He came in and kept everything on the table and said that it was the bottle that Ausable had ordered for. He opened the cork of the bottle skillfully and left. Fowler did not understand what had happened and stammered that where was the police to which Ausable replied that there was no police and that he knew that it was Henry, the waiter and he was expecting him only. Then again Ausable asked about the man outside the window to which Ausable replied that he would never come back as there was no balcony and that Max had fallen on the ground from the top floor of the building.

 

The Midnight Visitor Question and Answers

Q1. How does Ausable manage to make Max believe that there is a balcony attached to his room? Look back at his detailed description of it. What makes it a convincing story?
Ans. When Ausable says that he had complained to the hotel management earlier as well about someone entering the room from the balcony that was below his room, Max started thinking that had he known there was a balcony, it would have been much easier for him to get to Ausable’s room. Ausable then tells Max that he wanted extra protection for the papers that were supposed to come in that day and that he had informed the police who were knocking on the door, checking on him. This made Max very nervous and he thought that he would wait for the police to go on the balcony. Without realizing, he jumped out of the window and did not realize that there was no balcony. So the way Ausable thinks calmly and quickly makes the story a lot more convincing.

 

Q2. How is Ausable different from other secret agents?
Ans. Ausable is different from other secret agents because he was very fat, lived in a room on the top floor of a gloomy French hotel and could only speak French passibly although he had been living in Paris for over 20 years. His voice still had an American touch to it . He used to receive messages via telephone instead of dark eyed beauties getting him his messages. So he was very different from the way other secret agents are.

 

Q3. Who is Fowler and what is his first authentic thrill of the day?
Ans. Fowler is a young writer who comes to meet Ausable. He is bored sitting with Ausable in a music hall as he had thought that the country’s secret agent would be thrilling and exciting but nothing of that sort happened. After some time when they were coming back to Ausable’s room, Fowler saw a man holding a gun standing in the room. So that is when he feels that the life of a secret agent can be exciting.

 

Q4. How has Max got in?
Ans. Max had got in with a masterkey or passkey.

 

Q5. How does Ausable say he got in?
Ans. Ausable says that he thought that Max had got in through the balcony. He said that it was a nuisance as it was not even his own balcony and that it was the second time somebody had got in using that same balcony.