A Question of Trust – Summary

In the story, A Question of Trust by Victor Canning, Horace Danby collects rare books, and finances his hobby by breaking safes. This year, however, he is caught by a pretty young lady claiming to be the wife of the house owner. She tricks him into opening the safe and handing her the jewels. Horace is later arrested for the jewel robbery.


Horace Danby was generally considered to be a good and respectable citizen. He was a fifty year old bachelor. He lived with a housekeeper. He was an expert lock maker. However, he was not completely honest. He had been to prison, fifteen years ago for stealing jewels. He had no desire to become honest. He was careful lest he should run into difficulties for his dishonesty.

Horace Danby hated prison. He was heartily fond of rare and expensive books. He used to commit one theft a year on an average. The stolen money lasted for the year. He chose the house at Shotover Grange to commit his next burglary. He studied the design of the house carefully for a fortnight. He found that the family had gone to London and the servants to the movie. He broke into the house one afternoon. He hoped to get fifteen thousand pounds worth of jewels from the safe. The jewellery would enable him to buy the books he wanted. He put on his gloves. He took the key from its usual place. He pacified the pet dog by addressing it with love. He reached the safe, placed in the drawing room behind a painting. He was suffering from hay fever. The smell of the flowers at the table made him sneeze.

Just then, a young beautiful woman in red clothes entered the house. She posed to be the mistress of the house. She suggested him that he should see a doctor if he was serious about his work. His sneezing had brought her down from the top of the house. She thanked her stars that she had returned in time not expecting to see a burglar in the house. To avoid trouble, Horace started conversing with her in a pleasant manner. He replied that he too had not expected to find her there. She got furious when he asked her to let him go. She threatened to get him arrested. The thought of going to prison made Horace shudder. He pledged that he would never repeat such kind of thing if he was let off.

The woman took a cigarette from a silver box. Horace took off his gloves and held his lighter towards her. She promised to let him go if he did something for her. Horace readily consented to the proposal. The woman said that she had come to take her jewels as she had to attend a party. She had forgotten the numbers to open the safe. She bade Horace to open it. She would get the safe repaired. Horace broke the safe open and gave her the jewels. Then, he was allowed to go.

Horace’s fingerprints were found on the safe. He was arrested for the jewel robbery on the third day. The house lady was an aged woman of sixty. He realised that he was befooled by a lady who was also a thief.

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