A Question of Trust
of the Chapter
· The short story ‘A Question of Trust’ is written by Victor Canning, a British novelist and short story writer.
It is a humorous account and unpleasant
experience from life of an unconventional thief, Horace Danby.
The chapter deals with the case of
mistaken identity where a lady thief was mistaken by the protagonist to be the
land lady of the house where he went with the purpose of robbery.
The story conveys that the intention is
what matters more than our action. We have experiences contrary to our beliefs,
thoughts and perception. Horace was frustrated when he was imprisoned for the
theft he hadn’t committed. He was sad to know that “There is no honour among the
Horace Danby is an unconventional thief who
believes in honour among thieves. He is frustrated to meet the lady in red who in spite of being a thief cheated another thief. He is disappointed to be in a world which
is full of liars, tricksters and the people with fake faces and deceptive
Summary / Synopsis
The story 'A Question of Trust' is about a thief, Horace Danby
who was considered to be a good, respectable and honest citizen, though he
wasn’t completely honest. He made locks and was successful enough at his
business. He didn’t require to commit a theft.
Fifteen years ago, Horace had served his
first and only sentence in a prison library. There, he developed love for rare
and expensive books. Each year he used to plan carefully, steal enough to last
for twelve months, and secretly bought the books through an agent. He stole
only once a year.
This year, he researched about a house at
Shotover Grange very well before the theft. He read about the house with its
detailed plan in a magazine article. He found out that two servants of the
house were going to the movies, while the family was in London. Horace felt happy
to see the servants going out and putting the key at kitchen door. There were
about fifteen thousand pounds’ worth of jewels in the Grange safe, more than
enough to keep him happy for entire year.
Horace put on his gloves, took the key,
and opened the door. He was able to quieten the dog calling its name ‘Sherry’.
safe was in the drawing room which was full of expensive paintings. He was also
tempted to steal them. Before touching the safe he cut the wires of the burglar
alarm. Horace was suffering from hay fever. He was sneezing again and again due
to his hay fever and the flowers in the room. Hearing him sneezing there
appeared a lady and asked him if he had cold or hay fever. Sherry was rubbing
against her as if it was her own dog. She was young, pretty, and dressed in red.
Horace felt that he was in trouble as he
thought she was the landlady. But the lady seemed to be gentle and amused at
meeting him. He might avoid trouble if he treated her the right way. First he
tried to frighten the lady saying that he could hurt her and run away. Later, he
tried to persuade the lady to let him go as he hated to go to the prison. He
also promised not to commit a theft ever again.
The lady seemed to be genuinely kind and
helpful person. She agreed to let him go if he opened the safe for her as she
forgot the code. She told that she had come from London to take her jewellery
for a party. She took a cigarette from a silver box from the table.
Horace who is eager to please her, took off his gloves and gave her his
cigarette lighter. Within
an hour Horace opened the safe, gave her the jewels, and went happily away.
After two days a policeman arrested him for
the jewel robbery at Shotover Grange. His fingerprints were there all over the
room as he had opened the safe without the gloves. No one believed him when he
said that the wife of the owner of the house had asked him to open the safe for
her. The wife who was a gray-haired, sharp-tongued woman of sixty said that the
story was nonsense when Horace told everything that had happened that day in
Horace was made the assistant librarian
in the prison. Often he thinks of the charming, clever young lady who was in
the same profession as he was, and tricked him. He gets very angry when someone
talks about ‘honour among thieves’ because the lady in red fooled him and he
was jailed for the theft he hadn’t committed.
The story ‘A Question of Trust’ conveys that
“Intentions are more important than our actions.” Even if we are not able to
commit a crime, our wrong intentions need to be punished. Horace was punished
for the theft that he didn’t commit at all. He opened the safe for the lady taking
her to be the owner of the house in order to help her. At the end of the story
the protagonist was utterly disappointed as the lady who he thought to be
friendly and helpful turned out to be a thief and a trickster.
But, we as readers can say that he received the well
deserving treatment Even though he was unsuccessful in committing the theft, he
went there with the purpose of robbery with proper planning. Evil thought is
equally punishable as an evil action is.
Horace Danby deserved what he got. A crime is a
crime, no matter if it is committed for your own benefit or for somebody else’s
Q. How is Horace different from other thieves? Why
can't he be categorised a stereotypical thief?
Ans. Horace was completely different from other thieves in his beliefs as well as actions. He conducted only one big robbery in a year
after meticulous planning and research, not for money or prosperity but for his love for books. He had love for exquisite and expensive
books. He was quite successful in his business of making locks.
Horace can't be categorised as a stereotypical thief because he was not a professional thief who earned his bread by robbing people. He did not harm anyone and neither took any weapon ever. He was afraid to be imprisoned. He wasn’t greedy. He used to steal some money once a year to satisfy his hobby to buy and read rare and expensive books with the stolen money. He believed in 'honour among thieves' but was cheated by another thief. Now, He started believing that there is no honour among thieves.
Q. Was Horace punished
unfairely for the theft he could not commit? Give your opinion.
Ans. Horace was imprisoned and punished for the robbery that the lady in red dress committed with his help. It seems that he was punished unfairly as he did not commit the theft for which he was punished. But, I think he was punished for his crimes only, may be little late. Earlier, he had committed robbery many times and escaped punishment for many robberies. This time too, he
went at Shotover Grange with an intention of theft but was unsuccessful and got tricked by another thief. It seems as if he got
punishment for all his previous crimes. It is evident that we have to pay for our sins sooner or later.