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A Collection of

ICSE Poems and Short Stories
Volume II — Short Stories
Teachers’ Handbook
Edited by:
P. Pinto
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First Edition: 2014
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Beeta Publications
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A Collection of ICSE
Poems and Short Stories
Volume II — Short Stories
1. India’s Heroes 5 — 8
2. Journey by Night 8 — 12
Norah Burke
3. Hunger 12 — 16
Nasira Sharma
4. My Lost Dollar 16 — 19
Stephen Leacock
5. God Lives in the Panch 19 — 24
Munshi Premchand
6. The Last Leaf 24 — 27
O’ Henry
7. The Kabuliwala 27 — 30
Rabindranath Tagore
8. The Bet 31 — 36
Anton Chekhov
9. The Tiger in the Tunnel 36 — 40
Ruskin Bond
10. Princess September 41 — 44
W. Somerset Maugham
I. (i) Mrs. Baruah is a teacher, teaching the students of Class Eight.
Her full name is Mrs. Reeta Baruah. She exclaims ‘wonderful’
when, in response to her question about the number of students
who have completed their assignment, all the forty students raise
their hand in affrmation.
(ii) Mrs. Baruah gave an assignment to the students of Class Eight
to write what they would like to be when they grew up. There
were forty students in the class. All the forty student raised their
hands in affrmation when Mrs. Baruah asked them if they had
completed their assignment.
(iii) According to the author, the students fdgeted and shifted in their
seats before Mrs. Baruah entered. This shows their eagerness
to speak in front of their classmates. Their eagerness indicated
that they had completed their assignment and were interested
in sharing it with their classmates.
(iv) Ajit Basu was the frst speaker. He spoke about his desire of
becoming the best cricketer in the world. Sachin Tendulkar was
his idol.
(v) The next two speakers were Gayatri Chhabra and Sanjay Damle.
Gayatri wanted to become a social worker, whereas Sanjay Damle
wanted to become a pilot.
(vi) Mrs. Baruah was an accomplished teacher, who had a
student-centred approach of teaching.
(a) She gave the students an assignment with which they could
relate themselves, i.e., to write what they would like to be
when they grew up. Consequently, all the students brought
their completed assignments.
(b) She was a strict disciplinarian. That is why the students
maintained strict discipline in her class and spoke only when
their turn came.
II. (i) ‘He’ refers to Kabeer. Kabeer seems to be a hard working and
intelligent student. Though he was shy at making speeches
before the entire class, he put in extra efforts to complete his
assignment. He not only wrote something different from his
classmates but also presented it with such confdence that he
drew everybody’s attention and evoked the emotions of both his
classmates and his teacher.
(ii) No, he was not confdent when he stood up to speak before the
entire class. This is evident from the fact that his hands shook
slightly and beads of perspiration appeared on his forehead,
both being signs of nervousness.
(iii) The other children spoke about becoming social workers, pilots,
movie stars, sportsmen and politicians. The speaker, unlike
his classmates who spoke about the famous and successful
personalities, spoke about the unsung heroes of India who laid
down their lives to save the lives of their fellow countrymen,
during the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai.
(iv) Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan joined NSG in January 2007.
Before joining the NSG, he served two tenures with his battalion
in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorist operations.
(v) When the speaker spoke about the life of Major Unnikrishnan,
there was complete silence in the class and everybody listened
attentively. This was because the students were listening about
the extraordinary sacrifce of a braveheart, who laid down his
life, fghting the terrorists. It was different from the accounts of
people about whom they had listened from their other classmates.
III. (i) Vishnu Zende was an announcer with the Mumbai railways for
ten years. When he heard a loud explosion at one end of the
railway platform and saw bloodstains on the clothes of some
people, he guessed that something was wrong.
(ii) Vishnu Zende’s act of staying in his position, in the face of
danger speaks volumes of his courage, his selfess devotion to his
duty and his presence of mind in the face of calamity. Vishnu
Zende’s announcements from the public address system at the
railway plaform helped hundred of passengers to move out of
the platform from a different exit and thus saved their lives.
(iii) The scene outside the classroom was noisy with the chirping of
the birds, honking of cars and the younger childen enjoying their
recess. No, the students were not affected by it. They remained
unconcerned with what was happening outside and focussed
their attention on Kabeer’s speech.
(iv) The next hero Kabeer spoke about was Karambir Singh Kang,
the General Manager of the Taj Hotel, Mumbai. He helped in
evacuating the guests and his staff from the hotel. He continued
his duty even on being informed that his own wife and children
had died of suffocation in the same hotel.
(v) This hero lost his wife and his children, as they died of suffocation
on being trapped in a room in the Taj Hotel, which was attacked
by the terrorists. Despite suffering an irreparable loss of losing
his entire family, Karambir Kang did not give up his duty and
continued to evacuate the guests safely from the hotel.
(vi) Kabeer mentioned Karambir Kang’s loyalty and devotion to his
duty. He attributed these qualities to him because even after
suffering an irreparable loss of losing his entire family, he did
not quit his job and remained at the Taj hotel and helped to
restore the heritage structure of the hotel.
IV. (i) Hemant Karkare was the Chief of the Anti-Terrorism Squad. He
pursued the terrorists in a jeep, without caring for his own life.
(ii) Hemant Karkare’s companions included DIG Ashok Kamte and
Vijay Salaskar. The three lost their lives, when they were gunned
down by terrorists, whom they were pursuing in a jeep.
(iii) Hemant Karkare and his two comrades DIG Ashok Kamte and
Vijay Salaskar, were true patriots, who considered their duty
before self and sacrifced their lives while fghting the terrorists.
(iv) The speaker had goose bumps on his arms whereas the students
in his class became emotional. Their teacher, Mrs. Baruah became
so emotional that tears welled up in her eyes.
(v) Kabeer next spoke about Mohammed Taufeeq Sheikh, popularly
known as Chottu Chaiwala, who ran a tea stall outside CST
station, Mumbai. He helped to transport the victims of the
terrorist attack to the nearby St. George Hospital and thus,
saved their lives.
V. (i) Sandra Samuel was an Indian nanny to two-year-old Moshe
Holtzberg, who neither belonged to her nationality nor her
religion. She saved Moshe’s life during the 2008 terrorist attacks
in Mumbai, in which Moshe’s parents were killed.
(ii) The action of the caretakers of the Kabristans in refusing to
allow the dead terrorists to be buried there tells us that they
were above all social barriers. They proved by their action that
man’s supreme duty is to love and respect other human beings
and that no religion is above humanity.
(iii) According to Kabeer, the only true religion in the world is love
and respect for all human beings. From his speech, Kabeer comes
out to be a person, who not only values courage, fearlessness,
selfessness and caring for other but also practises it.
(iv) The whole class was touched by Kabeer’s speech. It stirred up
their emotions and tears welled up in their eyes. Mrs. Baruah was
on the verge of crying but she hid her tears from her students
by dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief to wipe her tears.
(v) Mrs. Baruah felt proud to see her students cherish the virtues
of peace, tolerance, sense of duty and selfessness. She was of
the opinion that her students would act as pillars to uphold
the virtues of peace, tolerance and selfessness in an India that
would one day be terror free and lead the world.
I. (i) ‘He’ refers to Sher Singh. He ran to get water, sticks and dung
for the fre to get hot water for his sick, younger brother.
(ii) The ‘child’ referred to in the extract is Sher Singh’s younger
brother, Kunwar. He was suffering from acute stomach ache.
(iii) Sher Singh’s mother was worried to see her child’s illness but
she did not react at all. This was because she had gone through
such ordeals many times when her other children had gradually
moved towards death.
(iv) Kalaghat was a town in the Solan district of Himachal Pradesh.
It was ffty miles away from Sher Singh’s village, Laldwani. The
villagers used to go Kalaghat by crossing two rivers and then
taking a lift in a bullock cart or a broken-down truck.
(v) Sher Singh was shocked to know that his brother had to be
hospitalised. This was because of the belief prevalent among the
jungle people that hospital was the place for those who were
destined to die.
(vi) The boy suggested that he would call his father to take his
younger brother to the hospital at Kalaghat. The mother said
that it would be too late before his father would reach home. It
tells us that she was wise enough to judge the severity of her
child’s deteriorating condition and that by the time her husband
would return, the child’s condition would deteriorate further and
may even prove fatal.
II. (i) Bahadur the Brave was the title given to Sher Singh Bahadur.
He was given this title because of his deeds of courage, which
helped save the lives of many, whenever he accompanied an
expedition in the forest in search of big game, either to photograph
or shoot them.
(ii) Bahadur lived in Laldwani village. He was a farmer by occupation.
Besides farming, he was famous as a hunter.
(iii) The members of the expeditions wanted Bahadur to join them
(a) he had a thorough knowledge of the forest around his village.
(b) he was familiar with the sounds of animals and birds,
which proved as an asset during a hunting or photographic
(iv) Bahadur got scars on his body, when he was attacked by a tiger
while saving one of his comrades from the tiger. The tiger’s claws
tore open his fesh down his skull to the back of his shoulder
and left the scars there.
(v) Bahadur was away in jungle on a photographic expedition. His
actions tells us that he was a brave and adventure-loving man,
who was ever ready to be a part of any expedition in the jungle.
(vi) Bahadur was negligent of his duties towards his family. Most of
the times he used to be away in the jungle on hunting or shooting
trips seeking adventure, overlooking the needs of his wife and
children. It was because of Bahadur’s negligent attitude that
his family suffered. Perhaps, it was Bahadur’s absence from
his family for days together that his other children could not
be saved from death, caused by cholera, infuenza and jungle
III. (i) Kunwar Singh was Sher Singh’s younger brother. He had to be
taken to the hospital because of acute pain in his stomach and
fever. Sher Singh’s brother was in a serious condition. He was
writhing in such a pain that Sher Singh could see death in his
(ii) Sher Singh’s father was away in jungle, accompanying a
photographic expedition. There were no men in the village because
all of them had accompanied Sher Singh Bahadur as beaters
on the photographic expedition in the jungle.
(iii) Sher Singh’s mother being a hill woman knew about carrying
loads. She took one of her two saris to make a sling that could
be put around Sher Singh’s forehead and down his back, to
carry his sick, younger brother to the hospital.
(iv) The mother felt that Sher Singh’s brother was too big to be
carried by Sher Singh all through the ffty miles to the hospital
at Kalaghat. She said that he would not be able to get to the
hospital. The boy did not respond in any way and set off silently
from there.
(v) Sher Singh’s family was not fnancially sound. According to the
extract, Sher Singh’s mother had to look after the cattle and
work their land when his father used to be away in the jungle
because otherwise they would be starved. The other examples
from the story are:
(a) Sher Singh had to gather sticks from the forest for frewood.
(b) Sher Singh’s mother had only two saris and used one of
them for making the sling.
(c) They did not have the basic necessities of life like water,
which had to fetched from far away.
(vi) Sher Singh’s decision to take his brother alone to the hospital
tells us that he was not only a responsible boy but also selfess
and had a deep love for his brother.
IV. (i) It was a cobra. The creature was sunning itself on the jungle
path in the last of the daylight. When Sher Singh stepped close
to it, it contracted and rose with a hiss, spreading its hood.
(ii) On seeing the creature, Sher Singh was petrifed and stood
frozen. He backed away from the cobra.
(iii) Sher Singh was heading towards the hospital at Kalaghat. He
had planned to pass through the jungle, cross two rivers and
complete the rest of his journey by taking a lift in a bullock
cart or a truck.
(iv) The jungle presented many challenges to the boy in the form of
impenetrable thorny bushes and scrubs and a number of wild
animals, ready to devour him. The beasts of prey posed more
danger to the humans now than before because poaching had
reduced the deer population considerably and forced the beasts
of prey to kill domestic animals and even human beings for food.
(v) The boy quickened his steps on the journey on seeing bear tracks
in the dust and thus, avoiding a possible encounter with the bear.
(vi) Sher Singh decided to take rest on a cliff above the river bed
because he was extremely tired and knew that he would not be
able to go any further without taking rest.
V. (i) Sher Singh and Kunwar were on the cliff, when they heard the
jostle and squeal of elephants. Sher Singh was tired and his
back and forehead were hurting, so he gently put down Kunwar
to take rest, when they heard squeal of the elephants.
(ii) An old elephant was the leader of elephants. He was more
aggressive at that time because of the period of heightened
aggressiveness that happens annually in male elephants.
(iii) Sher Singh chilled with fright because the old elephant, moving
his tusk to and fro came round towards him. He could not
escape in the situation because he could neither climb nor run,
carrying his brother on his back.
(iv) Sher Singh earnestly prayed to God to avert the danger. It tells
us that Sher Singh was a brave boy who had frm belief in God.
It seems that God heard Sher Singh’s prayers and consequently,
the elephant hurriedly went away.
(v) Immediately after being saved from the elephants, Sher Singh
got up and decided to continue his journey. This was because
he heard an elephant trumpet at a distance and could not take
the risk of being attacked by elephants again.
VI. (i) Sher Singh had anticipated the river would be shallow and the
water would not be very cold as the snow-water would not have
entered the river by that time. However, when Sher Singh entered
the river, he found the water colder than he had anticipated.
Besides, it was almost waist-deep, deeper than what he had
thought. Further, there was the danger of his falling into the
river because of slime on the stone.
(ii) The bridge at the second river was a kutcha, impermanent one.
It was made of rings of bamboo poles driven into the river bed
and tied round and were flled with stones to make the piers of
the bridge. The surface of the bridge was also made of bamboos
laid down horizontally and across and laced thick grass and
river gravel.
(iii) When Sher Singh reached the second river, his hopes were
shattered to see the river in food, as he had not expected foods
at that time of the year. The river was in food because of the
melting of a big head of snow. The bridge over the river had
submerged because of the sudden foods in the river.
(iv) The breaking of the bridge made matters worse for the boy
because now the boy had to swim across the fooded river, with
his younger brother on his back.
(v) The boy crossed the second river by moving along the wreck
of the broken bridge and holding on to anything he could hold
along the way. He made sure that his brother was not harmed
by making a rope of grass and tying it round his brother and
himself and by keeping his brother’s head above water.
(vi) As Sher Singh and his brother entered the second river, the
river seized them and fattened them against the wreck of the
broken bridge. With great diffculty, Sher Singh managed to
move holding on to the things he could get hold of. But the
food water defeaned him and the timber banged and bruised
him. The water was too cold for him to keep his hold. So he
was deaf, blinded, frozen and drowned. But he continued moving
ahead and fnally crossed the second river.
VII. (i) After crossing the river, Sher Singh took a lift, frst in a bullock
cart and then in a truck to reach the hospital.
(ii) People were surprised to hear his story when they came to know
that he has brought his sick brother to the hospital all alone
by crossing the fooded river.
(iii) At the rail yards, Sher Singh got the work of loading coal. He
earned a few pence. With the money, he bought coarse atta
(four), some mustard oil and chillies to cook a meal for himself.
(iv) Sher Singh put up in the hospital compound, where the relatives
of other patients in the hospital were camping. Sher Singh was
overtaken by the feelings of anxiety about the condition of his
ailing, younger brother and expected the worst.
(v) The doctor addressed Sher Singh as Sher Singh Bahadur. He did
so to applaud his deed of bravery of carrying his ailing brother,
all along to the hospital. Sher Singh replied that his father Sher
Singh Bahadur was not present there and that his name was
Sher Singh.
(vi) The doctor informed Sher Singh that his brother was out of
danger and that he would live.
I. (i) Rizwan was an educated young man, who was in search of a
job. He was standing in a crowded market place, to look out
for a person, whom he could interview for a newspaper.
[Corrigendum: Please read Q.I(i) of the extract as—Who was
Rizwan? Where was he standing and why?]
(ii) As Rizwan stood in the crowded market place, he thought that
although there was unemployment, yet people were eating and
drinking and buying expensive articles.
(iii) Kasim, a rag-seller was walking in Rizwan’s direction. He was
carrying a load of old clothes to be sold to the intended buyers,
who included poor labourers.
(iv) Rizwan stopped the man to take his interview for the Kihaan
newspaper. He did not exchange any greetings with the man
because he did not consider it necessary to show respect to a
poor, rag-seller. This shows that Rizwan lacked politeness and
manners. Further, he had double standards because he greeted
people in his offce.
(v) Rizwan neither greet the man nor ask him anything to build a
rapport with him before starting the interview.
[Corrigendum: Please read Q.I(v) of the extract as—How did
Rizwan treat the man walking in his direction in the market?]
II. (i) Rizwan is the speaker in these lines. He is addressing a poor,
rag-seller, Kasim. He is doing so because he is interviewing him
for the Kihaan newspaper.
(ii) Chacha gets angry when Rizwan asks him where he lives because
he does not have a permanent home and lives wherever he gets
a place, like in front of a shop or under a bridge.
(iii) The story only mentions Chacha’s father and his son. His father
was an old man, who used to work as labourer and did not earn
decent wages for a living. His son was a four-year old boy, who
used to play around in the village, chase dogs and would take
up his father’s profession of rag-selling, on attaining the age of
(iv) The government was apparently helping the poor farmers by
giving land to them and providing education to their children.
Chacha considered the policies of government as futile and
false promises to solicit votes. He felt so because he was a poor
labourer and his father, grandfather and great grandfather were
poor labourers, who did not get any beneft from the government
policies to alleviate their poverty.
(v) A ‘tout’ is a person who persuades somebody on behalf of
another person or organisation to buy something or take a
particular action. The frst speaker says that he is a journalist
by profession.
III. (i) Rizwan, the interviewer and Kasim, the interviewee are the
speakers in these lines. They are present in a crowded market
(ii) ‘Shah’ refers to ruler of Iran, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
Rizwan, the interviewer asked Kasim, a poor rag-seller (the
interviewee), if he knew who was the Shah, to which he replied
in negative.
(iii) The second speaker, i.e., Kasim says that his father had told
him that his father (Kasim’s grandfather) died of hunger or cold.
(iv) The answer given by the second speaker reveals that during the
Shah’s reign, there was widespread poverty. The labourers could
hardly earn enough to make both ends meet and therefore, many
used to die of hunger and starvation.
(v) The second speaker’s son was a child of four years, who used
to play around in village, chasing dogs. The speaker wanted him
to join his profession of rag-selling, on attaining the age of fve.
IV. (i) Rizwan wanted to tell the rag-seller that the government was
helping the poor farmers and that he could take loan from the
bank, to set up his business and lead a better life.
(ii) No, Rizwan was not sent by the government because he was
interviewing Kasim on behalf of the Kihaan newspaper, where
Rizwan had joined that day only.
(iii) Kasim said that he did not want a better job because he was
satisfed with his lot and he had no faith in the promises made
by the government for the welfare of the poor.
(iv) The similar things, which happened with Kasim earlier included
the promises made by the government to improve the lot of
the poor and the government’s total apathy towards their poor
condition later on.
(v) Kasim used to spend his nights in front of a shop or under a
bridge. He used to do so because he had no home or shelter
to spend the nights.
(vi) Kasim said that he could not meet Rizwan the next day in the
market place because he was going to his village. He then told
Rizwan that it was time for him to start his work and carrying
his goods, went away hurriedly from there.
V. (i) The rag-seller simply walked away because he did not want to
waste any more time in discussing the shallow political propaganda
of the government.
(ii) Rizwan felt helpless when Kasim, the rag-seller, whom he was
interviewing, went away without giving his address, for he (Kasim)
was a homeless, poor man.
(iii) Rizwan would be considered for a job in the Kihaan newspaper
on the condition that he would contibute a few articles and
submit interviews with fve people along with their names and
addresses for the newspaper.
(iv) The task of interviewing people for the newspaper was made
diffcult for Rizwan by the lack of a permanent address of the
poor rag-seller, whom he had interviewed. The condition for
Rizwan being given a job in the newspaper stipulated that he
had to give the interviews of fve people with their names and
(v) Rizwan’s father had died two years ago and his mother was
ill. His two younger brothers had dropped out of school due to
fnancial problems. He was the eldest boy in the family, and he
did not have a permanent job. If he did not get a job, his family
would have to starve.
VI. (i) Rizwan was thinking of his unending problems at home which
included the sickness of his mother and his two younger brothers
dropping out of school because of fnancial constraints. He was
feeling dejected because he could not get the address of the
person he had interviewed and the interview had to be submitted
in the newspaper only with the name and the address of the
(ii) At his offce, Rizwan greeted everyone, although he had joined
the offce that day only. But he did not greet Kasim when he
met him at the market place. He straight away started asking
him questions for the interview. It shows that Rizwan followed
double standards and did not think it important to show any
respect to Kasim, a rag-seller. Besides, he lacked the experience
of a reporter.
(iii) Before submitting the interview at the newspaper offce, Rizwan
wrote his own name and address on Kasim’s interview. He did
so because the condition laid by the newspaper for Rizwan to
be considered for the job of a journalist, stipulated that the
interview must have the name and address of the interviewee.
(iv) When Rizwan came out of the newspaper offce, he had the
satisfaction that he had submitted one interview for the newspaper
and consequently, would have the work for at least the next day.
He was worried about fnding the names and addresses of the
people to be interviewed the next day so that the possibility of
getting a job would continue to exist for him.
(v) Rizwanted wanted to reach home as quickly as possible because
he was extremely tired and hungry.
(vi) The socio-economic inequality is brought out in the story by the
(a) There were customers in the market, who were purchasing
expensive items and enjoying themselves, eating and drinking.
In contrast to them was Rizwan, an educated, jobless young
man. He did not have money in his pocket even to satiate
his hunger. His two younger brothers had dropped out of
school because of fnancial constraints.
(b) There was Kasim, a rag-seller, who represented the have-nots.
He lived in the city and used to sell rags to those who could
not afford to buy new clothes. Kasim did not have any home
and slept wherever he got a place. He told Rizwan that his
father, grandfather and great grandfather worked hard as
labourers but could not earn enough to make both ends meet.
I. (i) Todd is a Major in the army and the narrator’s friend, who had
borrowed a dollar from the narrator a year ago. Todd and the
narrator seem to be close friends because they meet each other
frequently and the issue of the borrowed dollar does not make
any difference in their trust and friendship for each other.
(ii) Todd borrowed a dollar from the narrator to pay his taxi fare
because he did not have any change with him. One year had
passed since he borrowed the dollar from the narrator.
(iii) Todd has failed to return the loan because of forgetfulness. This
tells us that Todd is a careless and forgetfull man.
(iv) (a) It means that the narrator’s friend’s act of borrowing a
dollar and then forgetting to pay it back would not make
any difference to their friendship.
(b) The narrator means to say that if somebody borrows something
from him, he will remember it throughout his life.
(v) The human memory is strong in the case of lenders, whereas it
diminishes with time in the case of the borrowers. For example,
the narrator not only remembers that he had lent a dollar to
his friend, Todd, but also the exact date on which he had lent
the dollar. But, the borrower, i.e., the narrator’s friend, Todd
not only forgets of having borrowed a dollar, he does not even
get any hint from a number of indirect references made by the
narrator about debts.
(vi) No, the narrator does not seem to have any hope of being paid
back the dollar his friend has borrowed. This is because a year
has already passed since his friend has borrowed the dollar. He
seems to have totally forgotten about it because a number of
indirect references given by the narrator about debts does not
have any effect in reviving his friend’s memory.
II. (i) Todd was away for three weeks to Hamilton, Bermuda. He wrote
to the narrator about the extreme temperature conditions in
Bermuda, the temperature reaching nearly 100° F.
(ii) The narrator went to the railway station to receive Todd because
he felt that his friend, Todd might feel happy to see him waiting
for him on the station after being away for three weeks. This
shows that the narrator values friendship and does things that
makes his friend happy.
(iii) Todd and the narrator were close friends. They liked each other’s
company and therefore, met practically everyday at the club
and remained in touch with each other. There existed trust and
mutual understanding between the two. The small issues of one
dollar did not affect their friendship in anyway.
(iv) The University Club of Montreal, where Todd and the narrator
used to meet practically everyday is referred to. The narrator
suggested that they should take a taxi because that might remind
his friend of the dollar he had borrowed from him a year ago
for paying his taxi fare.
(v) The narrator and his friend, Todd talked about the latter’s trip
to Bermuda. Then, they talked about the currency used in
Bermuda and whether it is at par with the American Dollar.
During the conversation, the thought of the dollar borrowed by
Todd was at the back of the narrator’s mind.
III. (i) Major Todd’s trip to Bermuda is being referred to in the extract.
It lasted for three weeks. Todd said that he had practically
forgotten everything about his trip.
(ii) The extract tells us that Todd is a forgetfull and careless man
for he forgets the dollar he had borrowed from his friend as well
as practically everything about his trip to Bermuda, just after
returning from the trip.
(iii) (a) It means that the narrator does not have any negative feelings
for his friend, Todd despite Todd having forgotten to pay
back the dollar he had borrowed from the him a year ago.
(b) It means behaviour or attitude. The narrator says that no
change occurs in his behaviour with his friend Tood who had
borrowed a dollar from him an year ago and has forgotten
to pay him back.
(iv) The narrator’s borrowers have forgotten to pay back the money
they had borrowed from him. The narrator’s attitude towards
his borrowers does not undergo any change on account of their
not having paid back the borrowed money.
(v) The practice of lending and borrowing referred to in the extract
points to the painful fact that the lenders remember the money
they have lent, whereas the borrowers forget about it.
IV. (i) In the frst sentence of the extract, ‘them’ refers to the people
to whom the narrator owes some money and has forgotten to
pay back.
By the phrase ‘on this side of the grave’ the narrator wants to
say that while he is alive, he may not pay back the money he
has borrowed from some people.
(ii) The narrator’s act of writing down names in the alphabetic order
suggests that he is serious about repaying the money he has
borrowed. That is why, he even asks his creditors to speak out
and tell him if he owes them any money.
(iii) The narrator feels that it is not necessary to pay back the money
lent over a bridge table or for drinking soda water. The narrator
feels so because these are friendly exchanges among friends.
(iv) The narrator wants to start a Back to Honesty Movement, which
calls for repayment of all the money borrowed in times of need.
This plan of the narrator reveals that he is meek and eccentric
for instead of asking his friend straightaway to pay back the
borrowed dollar, he thinks of starting such a high-sounding
(v) The title of the story My Lost Dollar is quite appropriate because:
(a) the entire story revolves around a particular dollar that the
narrator had lent to his friend, Todd. Todd has completely
forgotten to pay back and the narrator considers it as lost
for ever.
(b) the observations that the narrator makes in the story like he
himself must have borrowed money from some people and
would have forgotten to pay back and difference in memory
between the lenders and the borrowers and starting a Back
to Honesty Movement, are a refection on the practice of
lending and borrowing based on the one dollar that he had
lent to his friend, Todd.
I. (i) Alagu and Jumman were close childhood friends. They used
to till their land in common, were partners in money lending
business and used to take care of each other’s household, in
case of either’s absence.
(ii) The secret of their mutual trust and confdence was their mutual
outlook and a community of ideas.
(iii) Jumman’s father was a strict disciplinarian, who believed in the
precept, “Don’t spare the rod, or you’ll spoil him.” As a result of
his precept, his son grew up to be a fne scholar, who was
unequal in the entire village for drafting petitions or drawing
up a deed.
(iv) Alagu’s father believed that a teacher’s blessings are necessary for
transforming a student into a fne scholar and that his blessings
can be attained by keeping his hookah fresh and feeding his
chillum regularly. Alagu continued with his father’s advice and
spent his time serving his teacher by keeping his hookah fresh
and feeding his chillum. Consequently, Alagu failed to acquire
much education.
(v) Alagu was respected in the village for his wealth, whereas
Jumman was respected for his learning.
II. (i) The old lady was Jumman’s maternal aunt and Jumman was
her nephew. There was an agreement between the two that the
old lady would transfer her property to him on the condition
she would be looked after by Jumman and his wife.
(ii) Before the deed was signed, the old lady’s every wish used to
be fulflled without askance. Jumman was obliging towards her
and considerate of all her needs. After the deed was registered,
Jumman became indifferent towards her and used to illtreat her.
(iii) The nephew’s wife’s name was Kariman. She illtreated the old
lady and continuously nagged and insulted her. She never served
the old lady her meals without uttering remarks full of bitterness
and insult.
(iv) The old lady patiently bore all the insults and daily humilation
as long as she could. But ultimately she demanded that she
should be given a small allowance so that she could set up a
separate kitchen for herself.
(v) Her newphew reacted indifferently to her demands and said that
the money did not grow on trees and taunted her that she had
not conquered death.
(vi) The old lady threatened her nephew that if he would not fulfll
her demands, she would take her case before the panchayat.
No, the old lady’s threat did not affect him in anyway. This was
because all the members of the panchayat were his friends,
whom he had obliged at one time or the other. He was sure
that they would not go against him.
III. (i) The old woman was Jumman’s maternal aunt, who used to live
with Jumman and his family. She went from villager to villager
to narrate her tale of woe, comprising humiliation and insults
hurled on her by Jumman and his wife.
(ii) The incident of Jumman’s aunt threatening Jumman of taking
her case to the panchayat, if her demands were not fulflled and
Jumman’s indifferent attitude to the threat is referred to here.
(iii) Most of the villagers offered their verbal sympathy to her. Some
of them cursed the hard times which had brought the old woman
to such a miserable state, whereas others advised her to patch
up with her nephew.
(iv) At last, the old woman approached Jumman’s friend, Alagu. She
requested him to attend the panchayat, when her case comes
up in the panchayat.
(v) Alagu agreed to attend the panchayat as per the old lady’s
request but asked her to excuse him from being part of the
proceedings in the panchayat.
IV. (i) The old lady, who has called the panchayat to take up her case
against her nephew, is the speaker in these lines. The speaker
is Jumman’s maternal aunt.
(ii) The speaker was constantly nagged and insulted by Jumman
and his wife. She was not served any meal without abuses being
hurled on her. She was denied the basic necessities of life like
food and clothes.
(iii) The speaker demanded that justice should be done to her. If she
was in the wrong, she should be punished, but if her nephew,
Jumman was wrong, he should be corrected.
(iv) The panchayat was held in the evening under the village tree.
Jumman made all the arrangements for the panchayat such
as getting the carpet laid and providing a good supply of pan,
elaichi and hookahs to those present in the panchayat.
(v) The panchayat held under a tree after the sun set, presented
a strange sight. In one corner of the panchayat, live charcoal
was kept glowing to feed the ‘chillums’ of the guests. In another
corner, the village children were shouting, crying and quarelling
with each other. Yet in another corner, the village dogs had
assembled in full force, thinking it was a day of feasting. There
was excitement and disorder all around.
V. (i) Alagu Chowdhari became the head-panch when he was nominated
by Jumman’s aunt, as the panchayat system stipulated the
nomination of a head-panch, acceptable to both the parties.
Jumman’s aunt nominated him because she was sure that Alagu
will not kill his conscience for the sake of his friendship with
(ii) Jumman was delighted at Alagu’s nomination as the head-panch
because he knew that Alagu, being his intimate friend, would
not go against him.
(iii) Jumman did not propose anybody’s name as nominee for the
head-panch because majority of the people, who attended the
panchayat did not have a favourable opinion of Jumman.
(iv) Alagu told the old lady about his friendship with Jumman and
indirectly reminded her of the repercussions of appointing him
as the head-panch. The old lady replied that she was well aware
of Alagu’s friendship with Jumman and she also knew that
Alagu won’t kill his conscience for the sake of his friendship
with Jumman.
(v) As the head-panch, Alagu began the proceedings by addressing
Jumman and telling him that although they had earlier helped
each other in times of diffculty, but now since he was the
panch, both Jumman and his aunt, were equal in his eyes.
(vi) Jumman’s frst reaction to Alagu’s proceedings was that Alagu
was only pretending to be fair and just. In his defence, Jumman
said that he had been carrying all his obligations towards his
aunt like a son would be doing for his mother. He accepted the
fact that there had been occasional quarrels between his aunt
and his wife. However, he could not afford to pay a monthly
allowance to his aunt.
VI. (i) ‘He’ in the extract refers to Alagu. He gained knowledge of law
by visiting the courts often in connection with his business and
by observing the legal proceeedings there.
(ii) Ramadhan Misra was the resident of another village. He bore
a grudge against Jumman for the latter had settled some of
Ramadhan’s tenants in his own village. He was excited to see
Alagu defeating Jumman in his cross-examination.
(iii) Jumman was wondering how his friend, Alagu, who was talking
to him cordially a moment ago, was now trying to bring before
the panchayat his faults. He found it diffcult to understand for
which old grievance, Alagu was trying to take revenge on him.
He was wondering like that because Alagu was his close friend
and he had thought that he would favour him, rather than his
(iv) The panchayat’s verdict was that Jumman had to pay a monthly
allowance to his aunt. In case of non-compliance with the
panchayat’s verdict, the deed transferring her aunt’s property
to him will be declared null and void.
Jumman was stunned to hear the verdict. He could not understand
how his friend, Alagu, whom he trusted so much had suddenly
turned into an enemy by pronouncing a verdict against him.
(v) The villagers were full of praise for Alagu for his sense of fairness
and justice. They said that Alagu had separated truth from
falsehood as a swan separates milk from water.
(vi) The verdict spoiled the relationship that existed between Jumman
and Alagu. The two friends avoided seeing each other, and if
they happened to meet by chance, they behaved like enemies.
Jumman kept on thinking about how to take revenge on Alagu
and waited with baited breath for such an opportunity to come
his way.
VII. (i) Alagu purchased the pair of bullocks a year ago from the
Bateshwar fair. The bullocks had beautiful long curved horns
and were of western breed. They were so attractive that they
remained the envy and the rage of the whole village for months
(ii) The death of one of the bullocks further strained the already
strained relationship between Alagu and Jumman. Jumman
connected the death of the bullock as God’s punishment on
Alagu for his treacherous conduct of giving the verdict against
him. Alagu, on the other hand, accused Jumman of poisoning
his bullock.
(iii) Alagu sold the other bullock to Samjhu Sahu, a cart driver. The
bullock was sold at one-hundred and ffty rupees. It was agreed
that Samjhu Sahu, the buyer would pay the price in a month’s
(iv) The bullock led a miserable life at his new master, Samjhu Sahu’s
place. He was overworked and forced to undertake three trips to
the town without any rest and full feed. Consequently, the bullock
was reduced to a skeleton and could hardly drag the cart.
VIII. (i) Samjhu Sahu nominated Jumman as the head-panch. He did
so because he was aware of the hostility between Alagu and
Jumman and thought Jumman would not favour Alagu and so
the verdict would go in his favour.
(ii) On hearing Jumman’s name as the head-panch, Alagu’s heart
began to sink, his face turned pale and looked as if he had
received a sudden blow. He felt so because he was aware that
Jumman had been waiting for an opportunity to take revenge
on him.
(iii) As Jumman became the head-panch in the Alagu-Sahu case,
he realised the gravity of his offce. He knew that since he was
sitting on the throne of justice, he should not utter anything
but truth. He was conscious of the fact that as a judge, his
words carry the same respect as the words of God. He realised
that he must not allow his personal feelings of hostility towards
Alagu to interfere with his duty of dispensing justice.
(iv) The members of the panchayat differed on the issue of whether
Alagu should be paid the full price of the bullock, or whether there
should be any reduction in the price, taking into consideration
the loss suffered by Sahu.
(v) Jumman pronounced the verdict that Samjhu had to pay the
full amount for the ox he bought from Alagu, because when he
bought the cattle, it was in good health and the ox died of slow
starvation and ovework. Had Samjhu paid the amount at the
time of purchase, the present situation would not have arisen.
(vi) Yes, Jumman’s verdict was absolutely fair as it was Samjhu
Sahu’s greed to earn more proft that made him overwork his
ox, without giving the animal rest and proper food. The verdict
once again brought the two friends close to each other. Alagu
was ovewhelmed at Jumman’s fairness in dispensing justice. He
broke down and wept on Jumman’s shoulders. They embraced
each other and renewed their friendship.
I. (i) The frst speaker in the extract is the doctor, who has come to
examine Johnsy. He is an optimistic person, who strongly belives
in the power of positive thinking.
(ii) The ‘little lady’ is a reference for Johnsy. She is suffering from
(iii) The ‘little lady’ has only one in ten chances of recovery. This
is because she has lost her will to live and therefore, even the
medicines fail to have any positive effect on her.
(iv) To the frst speaker’s last question in the extract, Sue replied
that a man is not worth thinking and Johnsy does not have a
man on her mind. Johnsy does not consider men worth giving
attention. This shows that she does not have a positive attitude
towards men.
(v) The ‘little lady’ actually has all the negative thoughts regarding
her death on her mind. She believes that when the last ivy leaf
falls from the vine, her life too will come to an end.
(vi) The frst speaker, i.e., the doctor assured Sue that if she would
be able to make Johnsy ask one question about the latest winter
styles in cloak sleeves, he would promise one-in-fve chances for
Johnsy’s survival, instead of one in ten.
II. (i) Johnsy and Sue are two young artists, who share an apartment.
They frst met six months ago at a group table in Delmonico’s,
a restaurant in New York City.
(ii) The two girls’ common tastes and interests in art, chicory salad
and bishop sleeves made them start a joint studio.
(iii) Johnsy was looking outside the window to watch the leaves
falling from an ivy vine on the wall of the opposite brick house.
She was counting the number of the leaves falling from the ivy
(iv) She was sketching a pair of elegant horseshow riding trousers
and a monocle of the fgure of the hero, an Idaho cowboy.
(v) Johnsy had taken strange fancy to the falling ivy leaves from
the vine. She believed that with the fall of the last ivy leaf from
the vine, her life too would come to an end.
(vi) She told Johnsy that her chances of recovery were ten to one.
She told a lie to Johnsy to keep up her sagging spirits and
revive a hope of survival in Johnsy.
III. (i) The frst speaker here is ‘Johnsy’. She is waiting for the last
leaf to fall from the vine and also her impending death.
(ii) Johnsy told Sue to tell her when the last leaf from ivy vine
would fall because she wanted to see the last leaf fall.
(iii) Behrman is a painter by profession, who lives in the apartment
beneath Sue and Johnsy.
Behrman is an old man past sixty. He has a beard that looks
like the beard of Moses, a sculpture by Michael Angelo. His
beard curls down from his head and makes him look like a
mythological creature having a man’s face and body of a little
man that has magic powers but behaves badly.
(iv) No, Behrman was not considered a professional success because
in the last forty years of his career, he has not painted anything
(v) Behrman used to earn his living by serving as a model to those
young artists, who could not afford a professional for the purpose.
(vi) Behrman’s attitude towards Sue and Johnsy was fraternal
affection, for he was a striving artist like the two girls. Further,
he had a fatherly affection for them for he considered himself
as ‘especial mastiff-in-waiting’ to protect the two girls.
IV. (i) When Behrman came to know about Johnsy’s strange fancy
concerning the last leaf, he became quite angry and expressed
his contempt and derision for such an idiotic imagination.
(ii) Behrman refused to pose as a model for Sue in the beginning
because he was angry with Sue for allowing Johnsy to harbour
such a strange fancy concerning the last leaf and her own death.
(iii) The strange fancy which has flled Johnsy’s mind was that she
would die the very moment the last ivy leaf on the vine would fall.
(iv) Yes, Behrman after refusing initially, fnally agreed to pose as
a model for Sue. He did so because he had a fatherly affection
for Sue and Johnsy and was concerned for their well-being. This
shows that Behrman was a noble soul, whose heart was full of
gentle feelings.
V. (i) ‘It’ refers to the last leaf on the ivy vine. It plays an important
role in the story with regard to Johny’s strange fancy that with
the falling of the last leaf from the vine, she would die.
(ii) Johnsy was sure that ‘it’, i.e., the last leaf would fall during
the night because she had been continuously sitting near her
window and watching the leaves fall from the vine. Hearing the
wind, she was sure that even the last leaf would fall at night.
(iii) Johnsy’s strange thinking regarding the falling of the leaves
of the ivy vine and her own life suggests that Johnsy had a
pessimistic view of life and harboured negative thoughts.
(iv) Sue’s dialogue in the extract tells us that she has developed a
strong bond of friendship with Johnsy and is much concerned
about Johnsy’s welfare. She is hinting that she may not be able
to bear the loss of losing Johnsy.
(v) Johnsy did not answer Sue’s last question in the extract.
(vi) Sue tried to change Johnsy’s pessimistic attitude towards life
by diverting Johnsy’s mind from the last leaf and sickness by
making her take interest in things around her. She talked to
her about clothes and fashion. She tried to keep up Johnsy’s
sagging spirits by bringing her drawing board in Johnsy’s room
and whistling while painting.
VI. (i) Sue is the speaker here. She is speaking to Johnsy.
(ii) The speaker, i.e., Sue addressed the listener, i.e., Johnsy as
‘white mouse’ because Johnsy had recovered from her illness
and regained her health.
(iii) Mr. Behrman was an old artist, who used to live in the apartment
beneath Sue and Johnsy. The speaker got the news of Behrman’s
death from the doctor, who had come to examine Johnsy.
(iv) Mr. Behrman was out in the heavy rain at night, with a ladder,
across the brick wall where the ivy vine went in order to paint
an ivy leaf on the wall.
(v) The things found on the morning of the frst day of Mr. Behrman’s
illness included a lighted lantern, a ladder, some scattered brushes
and a palette with green and yellow colours mixed on it.
(vi) Mr. Behrman risked his life by going out in the pouring rain
and painting the last ivy leaf on the wall, after the original leaf
has fallen. On seeing that the last leaf, with the falling of which
she had associated her death, Johnsy got the hope and the will
to live and was fnally cured of her illness. But in the process
of saving Johnsy’s life, old Behrman got drenched in the rain,
caught pneumonia and died. Thus, Behrman sacrifced his own
life to save Johnsy’s life.
I. (i) The father in the extract is the narrator and the daughter is
the narrator’s daughter, Mini. It can be concluded from the
daughter’s questions that she is a talkative girl, always bursting
with questions.
(ii) The two fathers in the story are — the narrator and Rahamat,
the Kabuliwala. The narrator is an author by profession, whereas
Rahamat is a pedlar, who brings seasonal goods from his country,
Afghanistan and sells them in India.
(iii) The most important traits of the daughter’s character are that
she is talkative and always questioning. Her father says that her
daughter has not wasted a single moment of her life remaining
(iv) The father had started writing the seventeenth chapter of his
novel, the moment his daughter, Mini, entered the room. The
father shows that he is patient with his daughter by listening to
her volley of questions without saying anything and later joining
her prattle and having a lively talk with her.
(v) The main theme of the story, The Kabuliwala is human relationships
that exist on different levels — the relationship between a
father and his daughter, represented by the narrator and his
daughter, Mini; the relationship between the Kabuliwala and
Mini, a representation of the Kabuliwala’s relationship with his
own daughter, who is far away from him; and Mini’s relationship
with her mother, who is quite protective of her daughter.
II. (i) The narrator is the speaker here. He was startled to see Mini
laughing and talking with the Kabuliwala because initially she
was scared of the Kabuliwala. She had the unknown fear that the
Kabuliwala carried several living children like herself in his bag.
(ii) The Kabuliwala was a pedlar, who used to bring dry fruits and
other goods from his country, Afghanistan and sell them in India.
Kabuliwala was a tall, shabbily dressed Afghan, who used to
wear a turban on his head and carry a bag over his shoulder
and a few boxes of dry grapes in his hand.
(iii) The frst meeting between Mini and the Kabuliwala happened
when she called him to her house. But when the Kabuliwala
came, she got frightened and ran inside. She came only when
her father called her out. She stood nervously, pressing her
father’s body and looking suspiciously at the Kabuliwala and his
bag. When the Kabuliwala offered her some raisins and apricots
from his bag, she refused to take them and clung closer to her
father with a redoubled suspicion.
(iv) Mini overcame her fear of Kabuliwala when her father called
her from inside the house to meet the Kabuliwala. Mini’s fear of
Kabuliwala carrying several children like her in his bag subsided,
when the Kabuliwala took out some dry fruits from his bag and
offered them to her.
(v) The narrator paid half-a-rupee coin to the Kabuliwala for the
almonds and raisins he gave to Mini as gifts. The Kabuliwala
gave the money to Mini.
(vi) When Kabuliwala gave the money paid by Mini’s father to Mini,
Mini’s mother got annoyed that her daughter had accepted the
money from a stranger. Mini’s father rescued Mini from her
mother’s wrath by taking her out for a walk.
III. (i) Mini’s mother’s fear that the world was full of thieves, bandits,
drunkards, malaria and cockroaches, waiting for an opportunity
to harm her family, is referred to in the extract.
(ii) The lady is not able to overcome the fear because she has been
hearing about instances of child abduction, theft and robbery
and is too concerned about the welfare of her family.
(iii) She is full of suspicion about the Kabuliwala because she
has heard tales of child abduction and robbery prevalent in
Afghanistan, the country to which the Kabuliwala belonged.
Since, the Kabuliwala was a huge and tall man, she feared that
he could kidnap her daughter, Mini.
(iv) She was annoyed at her daughter’s act of accepting things
from a stranger, i.e., the Kabuliwala. She had the fear that the
Kabuliwala was trying to befriend her daughter by giving her
gifts, with the intention of kidnaping her.
(v) The ‘pointed questions’ that the lady asked the narrator included —
were there no instances of child abduction, was not slave trade
in practice in Afghanistan and was it impossible for a giant like
Kabuliwala to kidnap a little child.
(vi) The narrator had to agree to the doubts of his wife because her
doubts were not impossible. No, he did not succeed in allaying
her wife’s fear.
IV. (i) The dishonest man was the narrator’s neighbour, who had bought
a Rampuri shawl from the Kabuliwala on credit. Rahamat was
hurling abuses at him because when he asked for his payment
for the shawl, the man denied having bought the shawl.
(ii) The ‘usual exchange’ refers to Mini’s questioning Kabuliwala
about the contents in his bag.
(iii) When Mini asked Kabuliwala if he was going to his in-laws’
house, he replied that he was going there only.
(iv) The Kabuliwala was charged with murderous assault. He was
sentenced to eight years of imprisonment for his crime.
(v) It was the end of the winter season. The weather was freezing
cold and almost unbearable, especially in the morning hours,
with little warmth after sunrise.
V. (i) The narrator’s house is being referred to in the extract. The
noise and bustle pervading the house is because of the narrator’s
daughter’s wedding.
(ii) There was lot of hustle and bustle in the house because of the
narrator’s daughter’s wedding. The visitors were continuously
walking in and out. A tent was being put up in the courtyard
of the house and the ringing of the chandeliers being put in the
verandah flled the air. The wedding music was beig played in
the house since dawn and there was festivity in the house and
no end to the noise.
(iii) Rahamat’s physical features had changed in the eight years he
had been in prison. He no longer had his long hair or his old
vigour. The usual bag he carried on his shoulder was also missing.
(iv) The narrator could not recognise him frst because his looks had
changed from what it used to be eight years ago. He did not
have his long hair, his old vigour and the bag on his shoulder.
The narrator recognised him from his smile.
(v) Rahamat had come from jail after being released from there. The
narrator was little annoyed with the Kabuliwala and asked him
to come some other day. He did not like his visit to the house
because it was the auspicious day of his daughter’s wedding.
(vi) Rahamat was little hurt by the indifferent attitude of the narrator
and was stunned on hearing that he would not be able to meet
Mini, as she was getting married that day.
VI. (i) The impresson of the hand of Kabuliwala’s daughter on a piece
of paper, created with burnt charcoal was the ‘memorabilia of
his daughter’. Kabuliwala carried it with himself as a mark of
love and remembrance from his daughter, which provided comfort
and happiness to his lonely heart.
(ii) The ‘merchandise’ that the Kabuliwala sold on the streets of
Kolkata included dry fruits like almonds, raisins and apricots
and woollen clothes like shawls.
(iii) The Kabuliwala requested the speaker to hand over the grapes
and raisins, which he has brought for Mini, to her. The speaker
accepted the Kabuliwala’s request because he realised a father’s
longing for his daughter and that the Kabuliwala saw a refection
of his own daughter in Mini.
(iv) The Kabuliwala was shocked when Mini fnally appeared before
him because his little chirping, fve-year-old Mini has grown up
into young, beautiful girl and was dressed up like a bride.
(v) On seeing Mini, it dawned on the Kabuliwala that his own little
daughter at home, away in Afghanistan, must have grown up like
Mini. She would not be the same girl, whom he had left behind,
eight years ago and would have to know her all over again.
(vi) The narrator helped the Kabuliwala by cutting down on the
wedding expenses of his daughter and giving him the money so
that he could go back to his own country and meet his daughter.
(vii) Both the narrator and the Kabuliwala are doting fathers to their
daughters. Both of them, also suffer the pangs of separation
from their daughters : the Kabuliwala got separated from his
daughter when he was imprisoned eight years ago, whereas the
narrator was about to be separated from his daughter because
of her getting married.
I. (i) The old banker hosted the party. The people who attended the
party included journalists, intellectuals, a lawyer and a banker.
The host was in a depressing and reminiscent mood.
(ii) Capital punishment was the topic of discussion at the party. Life
imprisonment was the alternative suggested in place of capital
(iii) The majority of guests at the party were against giving death
penalty as they considered it out of date, immoral and unsuitable
for Christian states.
(iv) The host’s view was that capital punishment was more moral than
life imprisonment. He justifed his view by stating that capital
punishment kills a man at once, whereas life imprisonment kills
a man slowly.
(v) According to the young lawyer, both capital punishment and life
sentence were immoral. But given a choice, he would go for life
imprisonment because to live is better than not living at all.
I am in/not in favour of capital punishment:
For: (a) Capital punishment achieves nothing but revenge.
(b) A criminal is a mentally sick person who must
be cured of his ailment rather than be destroyed
(c) Capital punishment does not reform the criminal
but just eliminates him.
(d) Capital punishment does not act as a deterrent
against crime. The claim that capital punishment
reduces violent crime is inconclusive and certainly
not proven.
Against: (a) All humans have the right to life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness. When someone wilfully commits
crimes against his fellow humans, he should be
given capital punishment.
(b) Lesser sentence or life imprisonment will remove the
fear and deterrence instilled by capital punishment.
(c) When the criminals will be out, they will be free
to resume their nefarious activities and even take
revenge against the law enforcing agencies or the
relatives of the victims.
II. (i) The bet stipulated that if the lawyer would remain in solitary
confnement for a period of ffteen years, the banker would pay
him two million roubles. It was wild and senseless because by
accepting it, the lawyer would lose his freedom and the best
years of his life in confnement, just for the sake of getting two
million roubles.
(ii) It tells us that the banker was a mean and heartless fellow, who
sought to ruin the youth and the life of the lawyer by setting
inhuman and unreasonable conditions for the bet.
(iii) The lawyer accepted the bet as a challenge and for the sake of
getting two million roubles. The lawyer’s act of accepting such
a bet shows him to be a daring but greedy fellow.
(iv) The banker warned the lawyer to think again about it because
by undertaking such a bet, he would lose the best years of his
life in prison. He also told him that voluntary confnement is
much more harder than being in compulsory confnement. He
felt sorry for the lawyer because the latter would ruin his life
by undertaking the bet.
(v) The banker questioned himself about the object of the bet, the
good involved in lawyers’ losing ffteen years of his life and his
throwing away two million roubles and whether the bet can prove
that the death penalty is better or worse than life imprisonment.
The banker’s desire to prove his point that capital punishment is
better than life imprisonment prompted him to risk two million
roubles on a bet.
(vi) The banker cursed the bet he undertook ffteen years ago
because his fortune had declined and he was himself in debt.
By paying the lawyer, two million roubles, he would be ruined.
The lawyer, on the other hand, decided to forfeit the bet he had
undertaken ffteen years ago, to prove the futility and feeting
nature of worldly possessions.
(vii) The bet between the lawyer and the banker was unreasonable
and inhuman because it put at stake the freedom and youth
of a man for ffteen long years, just to prove which of the two
options — capital punishment or life imprisonment is better.
The lawyer staked more because he staked his freedom and
his youth by being in confnement for ffteen years, whereas
the banker staked only money, which can be recovered, unlike
youth and time lost, which can never be regained.
III. (i) In the second year of his confnement, the prisoner did not
play any music and no piano was heard. This was because he
wanted to study only the classics.
(ii) In the second year the prisoner asked for classics to read,
whereas in the ffth year of his confnement, he altogether gave
up reading books.
(iii) In the frst year of his confnement, the prisoner refused to
take wine because he believed that wine excites the desires and
desires are the worst enemy of a prisoner. Besides, he felt that
nothing could be more gloomy than drinking wine and not being
able to meet anyone.
(iv) In the ffth year of his confnement, the prisoner indulged in
music, eating, drinking, lying on his bed, frequently yawning,
angrily talking to himself and writing at night and tearing up
in the morning, all that he had written.
(v) The prisoner used to tear up all that he had written at night,
in the morning. He did so to spend time and avoid the bouts
of depression. Besides, he was not interested in anything.
(vi) The prisoner’s act of crying tells us that he was in a state of
depression, restlessness and frustration.
IV. (i) The frst ‘them’ in the frst line of the extract refers to the people
who knew six languages in which the prisoner had written a
letter to the banker. The prisoner wanted them to read the letter
he had written to the banker.
(ii) The prisoner took a great interest in learning languages is hinted
from the fact that he procured six hundred volumes of books
related to languages. The banker had the diffculty in getting
the books which the prisoner wanted to become profcient in
different languages.
(iii) It means that although people belonging to different lands speak
different languages, but their feelings and thoughts are the same.
(iv) The prisoner wanted the banker to fre a shot in the garden if
the experts in different languages could not fnd a single mistake
in the letter he had written in six languages. In this way, he
would be able to prove himself that all the efforts he made in
learning different languages were not a waste.
The banker ordered two shots to be fred in the garden to
recognise the profciency the prisoner had acquired in different
languages over the years.
(v) It shows that prisoner was a seeker of knowledge, who wanted
to understand the reality of life through books because in
confnement, he could not gain it through life’s experiences.
V. (i) The banker’s fortune declined because of wild speculation and
gambling on the Stock Exchange. As a result of decline in his
fortune, the banker who used to be a proud, fearless, self-
confdent millionaire, became a banker of middling rank, fearing
loss at every rise and fall in his investments.
(ii) The old man described the bet as ‘cursed’ because by following
the conditions laid down in the bet, he would go bankrupt if had
to pay two million roubles to the lawyer. The banker clutched his
head, cursed the bet and the lawyer for the miserable condition
in which he was.
(iii) The old man wished the prisoner to have died. He wished so
because, he would be spared the payment of two million roubles
to the prisoner, as stipulated in the bet.
(iv) The prisoner would take the money from the banker and use it
to get married, enjoy life and gamble on the Stock Exchange.
(v) The old man said that he would look at the prisoner with
envy because by paying two million roubles to the prisoner as
stipulated in the bet, the old man would be reduced to the state
of a pauper, whereas the prisoner would regain his freedom,
marry and enjoy life.
This shows that the banker was a jealous and selfsh man, who
could not stand the success of another person. Further, instead
of improving himself, he blamed others for his downfall.
(vi) The old man decided to unlock the garden house door, kill the
prisoner and throw the blame on the watchman, to save himself
from paying money to the prisoner.
The banker’s resolve to kill the prisoner creates surprise in the
story by arousing anxiety among the readers about the outcome
of the banker’s resolve and its further consequences for both
the banker and the prisoner.
VI. (i) Fifteen years of solitary confnement in the prison, made the
prisoner calm and at peace within himself so that he could
sit still, perhaps in a state of meditation. The prisoner did not
respond at all to the banker’s tapping at the window because
he was fast asleep.
(ii) The banker was in a state of despair when he broke the seals off
the door. He was in a state of despair because only a day was
left for the fnal accounting of the stipulated ffteen years of the
bet and he would have to pay two million roubles to the prisoner.
(iii) The author wants to create suspense in the story by usig
expressions like ‘rusty’, ‘lock’, ‘grating sound’ and ‘creaking door’.
These expressions hint at the passage of ffteen years as well
as the miserable condition in which the prisoner might be.
(iv) The banker expected to hear the footsteps of the prisoner because
he thought that the latter would rush towards the door and give
a cry of amazement on knowing that somebody had opened the
door and he would be freed from the prison.
(v) The banker fnally decided to enter the lodge in his garden,
where the lawyer has been in captivity for the last ffteen years.
He made up his mind to go inside the lodge to kill the prisoner
and put to an end the bet and the issue of paying two million
roubles to the prisoner.
(vi) The banker thought that the prisoner would be dreaming about
the two million roubles, he was likely to get after completing
the stipulated time period of ffteen years in prison.
(vii) The prisoner is to be pitied for the condition in which he
landed himself for his greed for money. He staked his liberty
and youth for ffteen years in return for two million roubles.
He did realise the worthlessness of the materialistic world and
the need for introspection, after ffteen years of being in solitary
confnement. However, his efforts to learn and excel in many
areas of achievements in the confnement are praiseworthy.
VII. (i) The watchman of the lodge informed the banker about the
disappearance of the prisoner from the lodge. The prisoner stayed
for fve hours less than ffteen years in confnement.
(ii) The prisoner renounced the two million roubles because ffteen
years of his confnement in the prison, during which he moved
from one enthusiasm to other like music, eating, drinking,
sleeping, smoking and reading books made him realise that
nothing endures in this world: death destroys everything and
everyone. Therefore, this world is empty, illusory and doomed.
(iii) The banker after reading the prisoner’s note underwent a
transformation of heart. He wept and felt a great contempt for
himself. When he reached home and tried to sleep, he could not
do so because his tears and emotions kept him awake for hours.
(iv) The banker kept the note in the safe to avoid the arousal of
unnecessary suspicion among the people regarding the bet and
the prisoner. This act of the banker suggests that he was a
self-protective man, who does not want to land himself in any
trouble because of the prisoner’s note.
(v) At the end of the story, the prisoner realised the worthlessness
of the material world and rejected all the pleasures he has
experienced and renounced the two million roubles he could
have won, as stipulated in the bet. The banker, after seeing
the emaciated condition of the prisoner and reading his note,
became remorseful for his inhuman bet and felt great contempt
for himself.
(vi) The Bet is an appropriate title for the story because:
(a) the entire story revolves around the ‘bet’ between two people—a
banker and a lawyer. The banker staked two million roubles,
whereas the lawyer staked his freedom and his youth for
ffteen long years in confnement.
(b) symbolically, human life itself is a bet, where we stake
everything to achieve material possessions, but realise their
futility only after losing everything, i.e., life itself.
I. (i) Tembu is the twelve year old son of Baldeo, a khalasi at a small
wayside signal stop. Tembu is lying in a corner of a hut near
the station, with his father. He suddenly woke up in the night
and wondered if his father, who used to go every night on his
night duty at the railway signal, had left for the duty as it was
a dark and cold night.
(ii) Tembu’s father was working as a watchman at a small wayside
railway signal. His nightly errand was to signal whether or not
the tunnel was clear of obstruction for the train to pass and to
see that the lamp was burning.
The author has described the night as calm and still by portraying
it as dark, moonless, chilly, having the “deathly, stillness of the
surrounding jungle” which was occasionally broken by the shrill
cry of the cicada, the hollow hammering of a woodpecker or the
grunt of a wild boar.
(iii) It means that there was complete silence on a chilly, dark night
with the only sounds heard occasionally being that of a cicada,
a woodpecker or the grunt of a wild boar. And these occasional
sounds were engulped by the silence of the forest.
(iv) The station was said to be in name only because it was a small
shack where mail trains stopped only for a few seconds before
entering the tunnel.
(v) Most of the trains slowed down near the station because there was
a sharp curve before the cutting which led to the tunnel and to
wait for the signal to make sure if it was free of all obstructions.
II. (i) Baldeo’s duties included—
to check whether the lamp was burning; and
using his hand-worked signal to signal whether or not the tunnel
was clear of obstruction for the train to pass through.
(ii) The station, a small shack, which served as a wayside signal
stop, was three miles away from human habitation. It was
surrounded by dense jungle with hills overhanging the main
line of the railway. A deep cutting in the forest led to a tunnel
through which mail train passed. There was darkness and
complete silence in the jungle with the only sounds heard being
those of a barking deer, grunting boar, hammering woodpecker
and that of dense undergrowth.
(iii) The darkness of the night heightened the eeriness of the station
with the black tunnel entrance looming up menacingly.
(iv) Tembu normally used to sleep in his home, in a small tribal
village on the outskirts of the forest, about three miles from the
station, where his father worked as a night watchman.
(v) Baldeo’s fnancial condition was quite poor as his income from
the small rice felds was not enough to provide for his family.
He considered himself lucky to get the job of a khalasi at the
signal stop because that supplemented his meagre income from
his land in the village.
III. (i) Before leaving for duty, Baldeo lit his lamp and closed the door
of his hut, where his son lay fast asleep.
(ii) Baldeo thought whether the lamp on the signal post would still
be alighted. The path leading to his work place, i.e., the station,
was marked by dense jungle and hills which overhung the main
line of the railway. If he had his way, Baldeo would go back to
his hut and feel the warm comfort there instead of working out
in a chilling, dark night.
(iii) The rock walls towering high above the rails reminded Baldeo of
the wild animals that he might encounter on the way. He had
heard that the tiger frequented the tunnel and was a maneater.
The other animals mentioned included panthers, whom Baldeo
had never seen but had occasionally heard their sawing when
they called their mates.
(iv) Baldeo had a small axe, whose head was made of pure steel,
was thin but ringing time like a bell. Though it looked fragile,
it was deadly when put to use. Baldeo could cut down a tree
using his axe in just three or four swift strokes.
Baldeo was emotionally attached to his axe because it belonged
to his forefathers and its axe-head had been made by his father
over a charcoal fre. That is why he carried the axe wherever
he went and did not part with it in return for a good amount
of money.
(v) Baldeo had excellent skill in using his axe. He could cut down
a tree with just three or four swift strokes using his axe, as
neatly as if it had been sawn. He was proud of it because of
the skill he had acquired in killing wild animals with it.
IV. (i) A cutting refers to a narrow open passage that is dug through
high ground for a railway tunnel or a road.
It means that in the darkness the black entrance to the tunnel
appeared threateningly.
(ii) Just fve minutes before the arrival of the mail train, the signal
light was out and Baldeo would have to rush back to his hut
if the oil in the signal lamp had fnished.
(iii) The signal light was out and the mail train was due in fve
minutes and within fve minutes Baldeo had to lit the lamp and
check the tunnel of any obstruction.
Baldeo hauled the lamp down by its chain, checked the oil in
the lamp and fnding a little oil still remaining, lit the lamp and
put it back into position. In order to ensure that the line was
clear, Baldeo took his own lamp in his hand walked down the
tunnel and by swinging his lamp, which cast shadows on the
wall made sure that there was no obstruction in the line.
(iv) Baldeo was out in the dark, chilling night at the railway signal.
He walked from his hut to the station, lighted the signal lamp
and checked the tunnel of any obstruction. Since the train
was late, he huddled up in a corner and dozed off in the biting
(v) Baldeo was indeed a responsible employee. He would not shirk
his duty even in the dead of night, extreme cold and amidst
prowling wild animals. Every night, he used to leave the warmth
of his bed to proceed toward the station, lit the signal lamp and
walking down the tunnel check for any obstruction in the line.
Baldeo was a caring father. He took up the job of a watchman,
unmindful of having to stay away from home and family, just
to supplement his meagre income from land. When he heard
the roar of a tiger, his frst thought was whether the tiger was
moving towards his hut, where his son was sleeping unprotected.
V. (i) The absence of usual jungle noises and the thump and rattle of
small stones made by the forward march of the tiger, indicated
that it had entered the cutting.
(ii) Baldeo’s main worry was whether the tiger was moving towards
his hut, where his son, Tembu was fast asleep, unprotected.
It is said that he did not have to wonder for long because he
could see the tiger moving towards him.
(iii) The tiger’s eyes have been described as shining green in the
light from the signal lamp. Baldeo thought that fight would be
useless because the tiger would be faster and sure-footed than
him and would soon pounce upon him.
(iv) As the tiger moved towards Baldeo, he stood with his back to
the signal post, motionless, staring at the tiger with courage
and without being intimidated.
(v) Baldeo did not lose his calm and courage on seeing the tiger
moving towards him. Although he was aware that fight would
be useless, he decided not to be an easy prey to the tiger. He
stood there motionless, waiting for his prey. As the tiger pounced
on him, he hit it with his axe, wounded it and almost served its
leg. Unfortunately, his axe got struck in the tiger’s shoulder, the
tiger tore his body and put to an end the life of valiant Baldeo.
VI. (i) Baldeo was standing at the station with his back to the
signal. The tiger had became fearless because it had become
used to the ways of men, for he had been preying on them for
(ii) The tiger attacked Baldeo with its right paw. But Baldeo, who
was prepared to defend himself, made an agile leap and avoided
the tiger’s paw. He hit his axe on the tiger’s shoulder. The tiger
roared and tried to come closer to Baldeo. This time Baldeo
hit the tiger on the shoulder and almost severed its leg. But
unfortunately, the axe got struck in the tiger’s bone and Baldeo
became weaponless. The tiger, now furious with pain sprang on
Baldeo, tore his body and killed him.
(iii) The overland mail entered the cutting with its engine puffng
and climbing steadily. As it advanced through the trees, the glow
of its furnace could be seen with the showers of sparks falling
like Diwali lights over the forest.
The tiger was in agony because of his wounded leg and did not
notice the faint rumble on the earth caused by the moving train.
The overland mail entered the tunnel and the tiger saw it but
found himself trapped in the narrow cutting with no space to
run for safety.
(iv) The title of the story is quite apt because the entire story revolves
around one incident in which a tiger appears in the tunnel
through which the train used to pass and the deadly encounter
between the ferocious maneater and the night watchman at the
traffc signal.
VII. (i) The wounded tiger failed to notice the train entering the cutting
and was trapped in the tunnel. The train passed through the
tunnel and the tiger was cut into half by the engine and its
major portion got struck in the train’s cowcatcher.
(ii) Baldeo’s body was lying at the cutting. Baldeo’s son, Tembu
sat beside the body guarding it from wild animals. The relief
watchman arrived early at the dawn.
(iii) Baldeo’s family remained grief-stricken for two whole days.
However, despite the great tragedy of losing his father and the
only earning member, Baldeo’s son, Tembu took over his father’s
responsibility on himself and assumed the job of a watchman
at the signal stop.
(iv) Tembu took up his father’s responsibility with the confdence
that his father’s axe and blessings are with him. He was no
longer afraid of anything because his father had killed the most
fearsome enemy—the maneater tiger.
(v) For the answer, please refer to the Extract V, (v).
I. (i) The king said that he would cut off the queen’s head after the
birth of their twelfth daughter. The king’s decision to cut off
the queen’s head was strange because he was extremely fond of
his queen. The queen felt uneasy on hearing the king’s decision
to cut off her head because she knew that the king would be
unhappy after doing so.
(ii) The king and queen had nine daughters. They were named after
the months of the year, because they were nine and the days of
the week were not suffcient to name then. The king’s daughter’s
were frst named after the four seasons, then the days of the
week and fnally months in a year.
(iii) Princess September had a very sweet and charming nature, whereas
her elder sisters had embittered characters. The difference in their
nature was because Princess September, being the youngest, had
just one name, September, whereas her elder sisters’ names had
been changed often, with the change in number of their siblings.
The elder sisters of Princess September out of jealousy offered
to buy her a green and yellow parrot to replace her singing
(iv) (a) The King’s liking for the parrot’s greeting, ‘God Save the
King’ shows that he loved fattery.
(b) The King’s act of giving presents on his birthday shows that
he did not value the feelings or sentiments of those who
used to gift him presents on other occasions as he used to
give those presents to others on his birthday.
(v) Although the king was fond of the queen, yet he decided to
have her head cut off. This shows that he was not emotionally
attached to her.
The queen was fnally saved when she gave birth to sons only
and named them after the letters of the alphabet.
II. (i) The parrots could only say ‘God Save the King’ and ‘Pretty Polly’
in seven oriental languages whereas the nightingale could sing
beautifully. The nightingale is shown to be an artist by depicting
her as having good manners beftting an artist like bowing before
the audience and being appreciated.
(ii) The king did not mind hearing the phrase ‘God Save the King’
often but was tired of hearing the parrots repeating the phrase
‘Pretty Polly’.
(iii) Princess September’s parrot died in its golden cage. She was
full of grief on fnding that her parrot had died and burst into
tears. She kept on crying and went to bed, without any supper.
(iv) The queen was annoyed at Princess September’s act of bursting
into tears at the loss of her parrot. She considered it as sheer
nonsense and sent Princess September to bed, without supper.
This shows her to be an uncaring and unaffectionate mother.
(v) The maids of Honour wanted to go to a party. So they put
Princess September to bed as quickly as possible and went away
leaving her by herself.
(vi) The beautiful song sung by the nightingale pulled Princess
September out of her gloom.
III. (i) The little bird sang about the lake in the king’s garden, the
refection of the willow trees in the still water and the goldfsh
that seemed to glide in and out of the branches of the willow
tree refected in the water.
(ii) The nightingale’s song gave comfort to the mourning Princess.
She stopped crying, forgot her grief and that she had not taken
her supper.
(iii) The bird gave the Princess a bow as a part of its artistic good
manners. It tells us that the bird has the temperament of an
(iv) The little bird offered to take the place of the Princess’ parrot
because of her charming nature and to provide comfort to her
in her grief.
(v) The Princess was delighted to hear the nightingale’s offer and
clapper her hands in joy.
(vi) Princess September and the bird became good friends. The
princess used to take good care of the bird, whereas the bird
used to sing beautiful songs to her as and when she desired.
And as a true friend, the bird did not mind her putting him in
a cage, whereas Princess September granted the bird freedom
realising that a true bird cannot sing in confnement.
IV. (i) ‘They’ refer to the eight parrots that belonged to the eight
princesses. They used to say ‘God Save the King’ and ‘Pretty
Polly’ in seven oriental languages.
(ii) The Princesses made this remark when the king said that he
was tired of hearing their parrots say Pretty Polly.
(iii) The king had a poor opinion of his councillors. According to
him, his councillors said the same thing in seven different ways
but without conveying any meaning. It tells us that the king
had his own fxed principles and did not readily took the ideas
of his councillors.
(iv) The Princesses’ characters were naturally embittered because of
having to change their names often with the change in number
of their sisters.
(v) The Princesses’ frst offered to buy a lovely green and yellow
parrot to replace the nightingale, in order to avenge themselves
on Princess September. But when she declined the offer, they
persuaded her to put the nightingale in a cage.
V. (i) The little bird had gone to visit his father-in-law. He returned
so late because he attended the party hosted by his father-in-
(ii) When the bird did not come in time the Princess thought whether
the bird was in any trouble or had he been ensnared by hawks
or men or whether he had forgotten her and taken fancy to
somebody else.
(iii) The Princess fnally decided to put the bird in the cage because
she was concerned for his safety and did not want to lose him
as she had lost her parrot.
(iv) The bird questioned the Princess as to why she has put him
in the cage. But when she answered that it was for his safety,
the bird did not mind her putting him in the cage as long as
she would let him out in the morning.
(v) Princess September reasoned that to protect him from her mother’s
prowling cats she had put him in the cage. The bird said that
he did not like living in the cage. But when the Princess told
him that it was for his safety, the bird seemed satisfed with
her reason because he thought that she would let her go out
in the morning.
VI. (i) No, the Princess was not aware of what was good for the bird.
She acted on the advice of her sisters and her own concern
for the safety of the bird, without realising the bird’s need for
(ii) The bird said that he could not sing without seeing the trees,
the lake and the green rice growing in the felds, since these
beauties of nature inspired him to sing.
(iii) In order to satisfy the bird’s wish, Princess September took the
bird out in the open air to have him look at the trees, the lake
and the green rice felds.
No, it did not help the bird to sing because he longed for freedom
and not just a glance at nature’s beauty.
(iv) The other Princesses told Princess September to remain frm in
her act of putting the bird in the cage because it was for his
good and safety only and that he would get used to the cage
in a day. They further said that if he was obstinate, he would
die and she would get rid of him.
(v) When the Princess woke up, she saw the nightingale lying at
the bottom of the cage, on his side, with his eyes closed and
looking as if it were dead.
(vi) On seeing the bird lying like a dead one, Princess September
opened the door and lifted the bird with her hand out of the
cage. She felt little relieved on fnding that the bird was still
alive. She told the bird that she had put him in the cage for
his safety only but if that is harmfull for him, she would let
him out of the cage to be happy in his own way.
(vii) Princess September’s act of freeing the bird gave a new lease of
life to him. He few away but kept his promise and continued
to visit Princess September, eating out of her hand and singing
beautiful songs to her.
Princess September kept the window of her room open all the time
for the bird to come and go. This allowed sunlight and fresh air
to enter her room. Consequently, she got nature’s nourishment
and grew up to be extremely beautiful and married the King of

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