The Thief’s Story CBSE Class 10 NCERT English Footprints without Feet Book Lesson 2 Explanation, Summary, Difficult words
By Ruchika Gupta
CBSE Class 10 English Lesson Explanation Notes
The Thief’s Story Class 10 English Footprints without Feet Book Lesson 2 - 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 2 - The Thief’s Story
By- Ruskin Bond
Introduction to the lesson
A young boy makes friends with Anil. Anil trusts him completely and employs him. Does the boy betray his trust?
The story is about a 15-year-old thief who changes his name every month to stay ahead of the police and old employers. This time he kept his name Hari Singh. The other person in the story is a 25 year old writer named Anil. The thief meets Anil and asks him if he can work for him. The story unfolds on how the thief betrays Anil by committing a theft but retracts later on.
About the Author
Ruskin Bond (born 19 May 1934) is an Indian author of British descent. He lives with his adopted family in Landour, Mussoorie, India. The Indian Council for Child Education has recognised his role in the growth of children's literature in India. He was awarded the Sahitya Academy Award in 1992 for Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra, his novel in English. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1999 and the Padma Bhushan in 2014.
The Thief’s Story Summary
The story is about two different people. One is a thief of 15 years of age and the other is a man of approximately 25 years, watching a wrestling match somewhere. The name of the person watching the match is Anil. The thief approaches Anil and starts talking to him because he feels that he had not robbed anyone in the past few days and thought that it would be easy to rob a simple person like Anil. They both start talking and Anil asks the thief his name. The thief introduces himself as Hari Singh. This is not his real name as he changes his name every month to escape his ex employers or police. Then they started talking about the wrestlers and Anil was leaving when Hari called him again and asked him if he could work for Anil. Anil said that he won't be able to pay him but could feed him if he knew how to cook. Hari lied that he knew how to cook. Anil took Hari to his room which was above a sweet shop. Hari cooked a meal which was really bad because Anil did not eat it. Anil asked Hari to leave but he tried to please Anil. Hari smiled in his most attractive way and Anil could not stop laughing looking at him. Anil agreed to teach Hari how to cook, write full sentences and add numbers. Hari was grateful as he knew that there would be no limit to robbing people once he learnt how to read and write.
The narrator used to like working for Anil as he used to make him tea in the morning and then go out to buy the groceries for the day. He also used to steal 1 rupee from the money that was given to him to buy the groceries everyday. Anil knew that he used to steal but did not mind.
Anil used to make money by irregular works. Sometimes he used to borrow money and the other day, when he had money, he would be lending it to other people. Whenever he used to get money, he would go out with his friends to celebrate.
One day, Anil came in with a bundle of notes and told Hari that he had sold a book to a publisher. At night he kept the money safely under the mattress of his bed. Hari realized that he had been working for Anil for more than a month and had not stolen anything apart from the 1 rupee that he kept everyday from the grocery money. Hari had many chances to steal as he had the key to the room as well. But he was surprised with the amount of trust Anil had on him as he had never seen such a trusting person in his life. This trust thing was preventing him from robbing Anil as Hari thought that robbing a careless person like Anil didn't make much difference because he might not even notice that he had been robbed and that took out all the fun from the work. Then he thought of stealing Anil’s money and justified himself that if he didn't steal money from Anil then also he would waste it on his friends and also, Anil didn't pay him for the work that he did.
Hari then woke up at night and quietly crawled to Anil’s bed. He steals the money and decides to leave the city by Lucknow Express that departed at 10:30. When he reached the station, the train had slowly started moving from the platform. He could have easily caught the train, but he hesitated and he himself did not know the reason for it. Before he had reached the station he counted the money and it was 600 rupees in 50 rupee notes. He could live a lavish life for 2 - 3 weeks with so much money. After the train had left, Hari was all alone at the train station. He was left with no place to sleep at night. The only person he knew was Anil and he had looted him as well. He sat on a bench in a park and as it started to rain, he sat down under the clock tower. Then he realized that the notes had got wet. He realized that learning how to read and write would help him to get a much more respectable and honest job which would pay him much more than these few hundred rupees. Then he decided to go back to Anil’s house.
He reached the room and placed the money back. Next morning, he woke up a bit late and Anil had already made his tea. Aniul gave a 50 rupee note to Hari as he had got paid for some work and he would be paid regularly. Hari took the note in his hand and realized that the note was still wet from the rain last night. Hari realized that Anil had come to know about his misdeed but there was no sadness, anger or guilt in his mind. The narrator smiled in a beautiful way and it was genuine happiness as he knew that he had saved himself from the wrong road.
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The Thief’s Story Lesson and explanation (with word meanings)
I was still a thief when I met Anil. And though only 15, I was an experienced and fairly successful hand. Anil was watching a wrestling match when I approached him. He was about 25 — a tall, lean fellow — and he looked easy-going, kind and simple enough for my purpose. I hadn't had much luck of late and thought I might be able to get into the young man’s confidence. “You look a bit of a wrestler yourself,” I said. A little flattery helps in making friends. “So do you,” he replied, which put me off for a moment because at that time I was rather thin. “Well,” I said modestly, “I do wrestle a bit.” “What’s your name?” “Hari Singh,” I lied. I took a new name every month. That kept me ahead of the police and my former employers. After this introduction, Anil talked about the well-oiled wrestlers who were grunting, lifting and throwing each other about. I didn’t have much to say. Anil walked away. I followed casually. “Hello again,” he said. I gave him my most appealing smile. “I want to work for you,” I said. “But I can’t pay you.”
Flattery- excessive and insincere praise
Modestly- in an unassuming manner; without vanity or arrogance.
Employers- a person or organization that employs people.
Grunting- make a low, short guttural sound.
Appealing- attractive or interesting.
The story starts from the point where the two main characters of the story meet- Anil and the thief. The thief is the narrator of the story. The thief says that according to him, he was pretty good at stealing. Anil was watching a wrestling match when the thief approached him. Anil was a tall, lean and an easy - going man of 25. The thief had not committed any theft in the past few days as he did not get a chance. He thought that Anil would be a good man to steal things from. So he thought about getting comfortable with him. Then the thief commented on Anil that he looks like a wrestler himself. He said that to win his confidence by flattering him. To this, Anil replied that even the thief looked like a wrestler which offended him as he was very thin at that time. The thief modestly replied that he did wrestle a bit sometimes. Anil asked his name and the narrator lied that his name was Hari Singh. The narrator used to change his name every month to escape the police and his ex-employers. Then they started talking about the well- oiled wrestlers whom they watched on the screen. The narrator did not have much to say as he did not know much about wrestling. As Anil was leaving, the narrator again approached him asking him that he wanted to work for him. The narrator approached him with the most appealing smile that he could. Anil told him that he won't be able to pay him for his work.
I thought that over for a minute. Perhaps I had misjudged my man. I asked, “Can you feed me?” “Can you cook?” “I can cook,” I lied again. “If you can cook, then maybe I can feed you.” He took me to his room over the Jumna Sweet Shop and told me I could sleep on the balcony. But the meal I cooked that night must have been terrible because Anil gave it to a stray dog and told me to be off. But I just hung around, smiling in my most appealing way, and he couldn’t help laughing. Later, he patted me on the head and said never mind, he’d teach me to cook. He also taught me to write my name and said he would soon teach me to write whole sentences and to add numbers. I was grateful. I knew that once I could write like an educated man there would be no limit to what I could achieve. It was quite pleasant working for Anil. I made the tea in the morning and then would take my time buying the day’s supplies, usually making a profit of about a rupee a day. I think he knew I made a little money this way but he did not seem to mind.
Misjudged- form a wrong opinion or conclusion about.
Balcony-a platform enclosed by a wall or balustrade on the outside of a building, with access from an upper-floor window or door.
Terrible- extremely bad or serious.
Patted- touch quickly and gently with the flat of the hand.
Pleasant- giving a sense of happy satisfaction or enjoyment.
Supplies- a stock or amount of something supplied or available for use.
Hari had not expected this reply and thought to himself that he had misjudged Anil as he had thought that Anil had a lot of money. The narrator then asked if he could feed him to which Anil instantly asked if Hari could cook. Hari lied again and said ‘yes’. Anil replied that if Hari could cook, then he could feed him. Both of them went to Anil’s room which was above the Jumna sweet shop.
Anil made money by fits and starts. He would borrow one week, lend the next. He kept worrying about his next cheque, but as soon as it arrived he would go out and celebrate. It seems he wrote for magazines — a queer way to make a living! One evening he came home with a small bundle of notes, saying he had just sold a book to a publisher. At night, I saw him tuck the money under the mattress. I had been working for Anil for almost a month and, apart from cheating on the shopping, had not done anything in my line of work. I had every opportunity for doing so. Anil had given me a key to the door, and I could come and go as I pleased. He was the most trusting person I had ever met. And that is why it was so difficult to rob him. It’s easy to rob a greedy man because he can afford to be robbed, but it’s difficult to rob a careless man — sometimes he doesn’t even notice he’s been robbed and that takes all the pleasure out of the work. Well, it’s time I did some real work, I told myself; I’m out of practice. And if I don’t take the money, he’ll only waste it on his friends. After all, he doesn’t even pay me.
Fits and Starts- not working on something consistently
Borrow- take and use (something belonging to someone else) with the intention of returning it.
Lend- grant to (someone) the use of (something) on the understanding that it will be returned.
Queer- strange; odd.
Bundle- a collection of things or quantity of material tied or wrapped up together.
Tuck- push, fold, or turn (the edges or ends of something, especially a garment or bedclothes) so as to hide or secure them.
Line of work- the principal activity in your life that you do to earn money
Beam- a ray or shaft of light.
Crept- move slowly and carefully in order to avoid being heard or noticed.
Drew- pull or drag
Sighed- emit a long, deep audible breath expressing sadness, relief, tiredness.
Startled- feeling or showing sudden shock or alarm.
Anil did not have any regular income as he used to earn money by doing different activities. He did not have any fixed job. The narrator says that Anil used to be worried about his paychecks all the time but as soon as he would receive a cheque, he would go out with friends and celebrate. The narrator thinks that he used to write for magazines. The narrator also thinks it to be a strange way to make money. Then suddenly one evening, Anil came home with some money and told Hari that he had just sold a book to a publisher. Before going to bed, Anil put the money under his mattress and Hari saw him putting the money there. Hari thought that he had been working for Anil for almost a month now and he had not cheated him apart from the 1 rupee that he used to take out daily. The narrator also thinks that he had every chance to steal as Anil had given him the key to his room as well and he could come and go whenever he wished to do so. Hari had been trusted upon by Hari the most. Hari had not been trusted upon by anyone else in his life. This was the only thing that was stopping Hari from stealing as Hari thought that it is way easy to rob a greedy man because he has the capability or the money to get robbed as he knows about what he has lost but for a careless man like Anil there was no use to steal as they sometimes don't even come to know that they have been robbed. Also, Hari feels that when someone doesn't come to know that he has been robbed, then there is no fun left in robbing him. Then Hari decided that he would start with some work. He had not robbed anyone for a long time. He also justified his act of stealing Anil’s money by telling himself that if he didn't steal it then also Anil would waste it on his friends. He also thought that he had a right over the money as Anil didn’t even pay him for the work he used to do.
Hari started his work when Anil was sleeping. There was a little bit light over Anil’s bed because of the moonlight that was coming in from the window. Hari sat on the floor and planned that if he took the money he could leave the city by the 10:30 pm Lucknow Express train. Hari then crawled towards the bed and slipped his hand slowly inside the bed mattress. He looked at Anil who was sleeping peacefully without a single line on his face and Hari’s face had so many scars on it. He realized that although he was much younger than Anil, he had such a bad appearance due to his wrong thinking. On the other hand, Anil was carefree and thought good for others because of which he had such a nice face. Hari then took out the notes without making any sound. Anil took a breath in his sleep and turned his side. He was directly facing Hari which scared him a bit and Hari quickly left the room. As soon as Hari left the room and was on the road, he started running and had kept the notes in his pyjamas. He had tied it with the string of pyjamas. Then after a while, Hari slowed down and counted the notes. He had 12 notes of 50 rupee each which made it 600 rupees. Then Hari thought to himself that with this much money he could live a luxurious life like an Arabian sheikh for at least two weeks.
When I reached the station I did not stop at the ticket office (I had never bought a ticket in my life) but dashed straight to the platform. The Lucknow Express was just moving out. The train had still to pick up speed and I should have been able to jump into one of the carriages, but I hesitated — for some reason, I can’t explain — and I lost the chance to get away.
When the train had gone, I found myself standing alone on the deserted platform. I had no idea where to spend the night. I had no friends, believing that friends were more trouble than help. And I did not want to make anyone curious by staying at one of the small hotels near the station. The only person I knew really well was the man I had robbed. Leaving the station, I walked slowly through the bazaar. In my short career as a thief, I had made a study of men’s faces when they had lost their goods. The greedy man showed fear; the rich man showed anger; the poor man showed acceptance. But I knew that Anil’s face when he discovered the theft, would show only a touch of sadness. Not for the loss of money, but for the loss of trust. I found myself in the maidan and sat down on a bench. The night was chilly — it was early November — and a light drizzle added to my discomfort. Soon it was raining quite heavily. My shirt and pyjamas stuck to my skin, and a cold wind blew the rain across my face.
Dashed- Quickly ran towards something
Carriages- any of the separate sections of a train that carry passengers.
Hesitated- pause in indecision before saying or doing something.
Deserted- (of a place) empty of people.
Curious- eager to know or learn something.
Robbed- take property unlawfully from (a person or place) by force or threat of force.
Maidan- a park
Drizzle- light rain falling in very fine drops.
When Hari reached the station, he straight away went to the platform without buying a ticket as he had never bought a ticket in his life. He had always travelled without a ticket. When he reached the platform, the Lucknow Express in which he had to go was just leaving the platform. The train was still slow so he could have easily jumped and got on one of the carriages. But he did not do so. There was a bit of hesitation in him. Even he didn't understand why he had that hesitation inside him and because of that he could not board the train. After sometime when the train had left, Hari found himself all alone at the empty platform. Hari did not know where would he spend the night. He did not have any friends whom he could go to as he used to think that friends were more of a trouble than being helpful. He did not even want to stay at any of the small hotels as that would attract attention. He knew only one person very well and he had robbed him as well. As Hari was walking through the bazaar after leaving the station he was thinking of his observations as a thief. In a short career span, he had realized that although everybody - from rich to poor shows different reactions to losing their goods but Anil would only be a little sad. That too would not be because he lost his money, but because he has lost trust that he had on Hari. He would be sad that he trusted someone so much and the person had betrayed him.
Hari was walking when he reached a park. He sat on a bench. As it was the month of November, the night was a bit chilly and then the drizzle added to the discomfort that Hari was going through. It started raining quite heavily and Hari’s shirt and pyjamas stuck to his body. Cold wind was blowing across Hari’s face.
I went back to the bazaar and sat down in the shelter of the clock tower. The clock showed midnight. I felt for the notes. They were damp from the rain. Anil’s money. In the morning he would probably have given me two or three rupees to go to the cinema, but now I had it all. I couldn’t cook his meals, run to the bazaar or learn to write whole sentences any more. I had forgotten about them in the excitement of the theft. Whole sentences, I knew, could one day bring me more than a few hundred rupees. It was a simple matter to steal — and sometimes just as simple to be caught. But to be a really big man, a clever and respected man, was something else. I should go back to Anil, I told myself, if only to learn to read and write. I hurried back to the room feeling very nervous, for it is much easier to steal something than to return it undetected. I opened the door quietly, then stood in the doorway, in clouded moonlight. Anil was still asleep. I crept to the head of the bed, and my hand came up with the notes. I felt his breath on my hand. I remained still for a minute. Then my hand found the edge of the mattress, and slipped under it with the notes. I awoke late next morning to find that Anil had already made the tea. He stretched out his hand towards me. There was a fifty-rupee note between his fingers. My heart sank. I thought I had been discovered. “I made some money yesterday,” he explained. “Now you’ll be paid regularly.” My spirits rose. But when I took the note, I saw it was still wet from the night’s rain. “Today we’ll start writing sentences,” he said. He knew. But neither his lips nor his eyes showed anything. I smiled at Anil in my most appealing way. And the smile came by itself, without any effort.
Shelter- a place giving temporary protection from bad weather or danger.
Clock Tower- a tower, typically forming part of a church or civic building, with a large clock at the top.
Midnight- twelve o'clock at night.
Damp- slightly wet.
Cinema- a theatre where films are shown for public entertainment.
Hurried- done in a hurry; rushed.
Undetected- not detected or discovered.
Clouded- make or become less clear or transparent.
Then Hari went back towards the bazaar and sat under the shelter of the clock tower to escape getting wet. It was 12 o'clock by the clock tower. Hari checked the notes and they were wet. Then again Hari started thinking that it was Anil’s money and if he had not stolen it, Anil would have surely given him 2-3 rupees to go for a movie. But now as he had stolen it, he had it all. Now he won’t be able to make tea or do groceries for Anil anymore nor would he be able to learn to write whole sentences ever. He had not realize that he would be loosing all these in the excitement of stealing the money. He knew that if he could learn to read and write, he could earn much more money than these few hundred rupees and that too honestly. He knew that it was very easy to steal something from someone but sometimes it was that easy to get caught as well. He knew that if he learnt to read and write, he could surely become a big and respected man one day. Then Hari told himself that he should go back if he wanted to learn to read and write and also if he wanted to be a big man one day.
Hari went back to Anil’s room and was very nervous because he knew that it was much more difficult to return stolen things without being caught than actually stealing it. Hari went to the hallway and stood there as the moonlight was still falling over the bed. Anil was still asleep. Hari went near the head of the bed and took out the notes. As he was going near the mattress, his hand could feel Anil’s breath on his hand. Hari became still for a moment, found the edge of the mattress and finally slipped the notes under it. The next morning, Hari woke up a little late and Anil had already made the tea by then. Anil extended his hand towards Hari and had a 50 rupee note in his hand. Hari thought he had been caught. Then suddenly Anil explained that he had made some money the day before, so he was giving him 50 rupees. He also said that he would be paying Hari regularly. Hari was really happy but when he took the note in his hand, he saw that it was still wet from last night. He also told Hari that that day he would teach him how to write complete sentences. Hari realized that Anil had come to know that he had stolen money and kept it back. But the great thing that happened was that he did not let it show on his face or his words. Hari again smiled at Anil in his most appealing way and Anil’s smile also came to his face without any effort.
The Thief’s Story Questions and Answers
Q1. What are Hari Singh’s reactions to the prospect of receiving an education? Do they change over time? (Hint: Compare, for example, the thought: “I knew that once I could write like an educated man there would be no limit to what I could achieve” with these later thoughts: “Whole sentences, I knew, could one day bring me more than a few hundred rupees. It was a simple matter to steal — and sometimes just as simple to be caught. But to be a really big man, a clever and respected man, was something else.”) What makes him return to Anil?
Ans. Hari Singh feels that education can make him earn a lot of money in an honest way. His prospect on receiving an education does not change over time. He feels that he can earn much more if he gets education. He returns to Anil because Anil trusts him, feeds him, treats him well and even teaches him.
Q2. Why does not Anil hand the thief over to the police? Do you think most people would have done so? In what ways is Anil different from such employers?
Ans. Anil did not hand over the thief to the police maybe because he knew that Hari Singh had realized his mistake. He was feeling guilty for what he had done and wanted to mend his ways. This was the reason why he had come back and put the money back to its place. Anil wanted to give him a chance to become a better person.
No, I don't think that anybody in today’s world would have done so because to do so, a person needs to have a lot of patience and compassion which is missing in most of the people today. In today's world a thief is considered a criminal even if he realizes his mistake. It takes a lot of courage to trust someone who has broken your trust once. Although i feel that if a person realizes his mistake he must be given another chance to win back your trust.
Q3. Who does ‘I’ refer to in this story?
Ans. In this story, “I” refers to the thief who introduces himself as Hari Singh.
Q4. What is he “a fairly successful hand” at?
Ans. He was a “fairly successful hand” at robbing and duping people of their money.
Q5. What does he get from Anil in return for his work?
Ans. When he asks Anil that he wants to work for him, Anil clearly says that he will; not be able to pay him. They mutually decide that if the thief would be able to cook food for him, then Anil would feed him. But soon, Anil comes to know that he can not cook. So Anil tells Hari, the thief that he would teach him to cook food, teach him to write his name and full sentences and also to add numbers. Apart from this, Hari also used to steal one rupee from the grocery money everyday.
Q6. How does the thief think Anil will react to the theft?
Ans. The thief though that on discovering that he had been robbed, Anil would definitely be sad but he would be sad because of the loss of trust and not because of the loss of money.
Q7. What does he say about the different reactions of people when they are robbed?
Ans. The thief says that according to his experience, upon being robbed the greedy man showed fear, the rich man showed anger and the poor man showed acceptance towards whatever had happened with him.
Q8. Does Anil realise that he has been robbed?
Ans. Yes, probably Anil knew that he had been robbed because all the notes were wet and damp from last night. He still did not say anything to the thief and gave him 50 rupees and told him that from now on, Anil will be paying him money as salary every month.