Treasure Trove The Blue Bead Short Stories Workbook Answers

This post is part of Exam18’s ICSE Treasure Trove Workbook Answers Series.

Book Name Story Name Story Writer
Treasure Trove Short Stories The Blue Bead Norah Burke

Long-answer type questions

1. Describe in your own words the habitat of the crocodile as given in the story “The Blue Bead.”

Answer:  Norah Burke, the writer of the story “The Blue Bead”, has given a graphic picture of an exciting adventure — an encounter between Sibia, a 12-year old girl and a crocodile. The crocodile is the focus of interest and the story begins from the habitat in which he is living. He is living on the ghat of a great Indian river. This river is being used to float the timber which comes from the forests above. Some logs of wood or ‘sleepers’ lie stuck around the big stones which block their way. These sleepers are a good resting place for the huge crocodile. Quite often this crocodile comes upto the sandbank to breathe the sunny air.

2. How does the writer paint a pen-picture of the monstrous strength of the crocodile ? What is his purpose in giving these details ?

Answer: The writer, Norah Burke, has given a graphic account of the monstrous crocodile which is the centre of interest in this story. We are told that the crocodile was twice the length of a tall man. He looked ferocious and formidable. He was a mugger crocodile blackish brown above and yellow white below. He could be scientifically described as an antediluvian saurian reptile. His huge tail had an irresistible power. We are amused to read that inside his stomach there rolled a silver bracelet among the stones which the crocodile had swallowed to help him in his digestion. He had an inch-thick skin which could not be pierced even by rifle-bullets.
Norah has purposely given all these details about the powerful crocodile in order to emphasize the fact that the little girl Sibia had a great strength of mind to fight with his physically stronger rival while saving a woman’s life from his clutches.

3. How did the crocodile sustain himself after his birth and what kind of food did he get to satisfy his hunger ?

Answer: The crocodile was hatched from an egg on a sandbank of the river a long time ago (may be a hundred years ago). He was ready to fend for himself from the very moment of his birth. He was ready to snap at anything before he was even fully hatched out of his shell. He had been able to sustain himself by his “brainless craft and ferocity.” He had to save himself from other predators like birds of prey store food in the holes near the bank of the river. By taking plenty of rotted food he grew to his great length in the water of the great river. He lived well in the river, running himself sometimes with other crocodiles — muggers and gharials. In case of danger, the crocodile could easily jump into the river from the sunny sandbank. Thus, the crocodile led a life of ease and tensionlessness until the fateful day when the fearless Sibia encountered him.

4. How did the crocodile feed himself while living in the great river ?

Answer: The crocodile had plentiful food to enjoy. His staple food was fish, though he often ate deer and monkeys that came to the river to drink water. Now and then he had the luxury of eating a duck or two. But sometimes he had to satisfy his hunger by eating a pic-dog full of parasites or a skeleton cow. There were times when he had to go down to the burning ghats and eat the half-burned bodies of Indians who had been cast into the stream. Thus, all days were not equal for him. Sometimes it was a lavish feast for him and sometimes he had to satisfy himself with filthy, rotten food.

5. What was the “blue bead” which forms the title of the story by Norah Burke ?

Answer: “The Blue Bead” may seem to be a misleading and inappropriate title for the story written by Norah Burke. But on deeper reflection, we find that the title is quite justified. It tells us something about the character of Sibia who is simple, humble and modest girl.
The blue bead was in reality a piece of sand- worn glass that had been rolling about in the river for a long time. By chance, it had a hole in it and could be used like a gem in a necklace. It was glimmering like a blue gem when the heroic girl Sibia found it at the shallow sand bank. The girl is greatly excited and overjoyed to get it, though it was not a real gem. She does not talk about her act of bravery in saving the life of the Gujar woman. She doesn’t want any reward or appreciation for her heroic act. She thinks herself amply rewarded with the piece of glass which she can wear in a string or necklace around her neck. This is a good example of child-like innocence and grace.

6. Give an account of the thin, starving village girl, Sibia, emphasizing her poor economic background.

Answer:  Sibia is the protagonist of the story “The Blue Bead” written by Norah Burke. She lives in a mud house in a noisy village and dressed in an earth-coloured rag. The rag had been torn in two to make a skirt and sari for her. The writer describes her as “a happy, immature child-woman” about twelve years old. Her meal consists of a chupatti wrapped around a smear of green chilli and rancid butter. She wears no shoes. She is as the writer tells us, “born to toil.” She has to husk the corn, gather sticks for fuel and put dung to dry up. She has to fetch water from the river and cut grass for animals fodder. On its often, she has to do the cooking job to help her mother. As far as money is concerned, she has never owned a penny inspite of her hard labour. Like many other young girls of her age, she is also attracted by the colourful bangles, necklaces and other items of jewellery in the bazaar. However, she knows that she is too poor to buy any of these items. Nor can she buy the brilliant honey confections at the sweatmeat stall to satsify her craving for good eatables. This is hard luck indeed. And yet she has never felt sore about this life of want and misery.

7. Give a brief account of the bazaar near Sibia’s village on the basis of the story “The Blue Bead.”

Answer: The bazaar near Sibia’s village is always full of hustle and bustle. The colourful wares in the stalls are quite eye-catching. The blown glass- beads piled up in a stall look like stars. There is a bangle-seller who keeps the multi-coloured bangles on a stick to attract the eyes of the passing women. There is a big crowd of people in the bazaar along with stray dogs, monekys full of fleas and sacred bulls with clonking bells. Apart from this there is a sweatmeat stall displaying brilliant honey confections smelling wonderfully. And then, there is a cloth-stall stacked with great rolls of new cotton cloth. Tin trays from Birmingham, embroidered saris and silks added to the charm of this little bazaar.

8. Describe the occupation of the Gujar community as brought out in the story “The Blue Bead”

Answer: The Gujar women make their living by cutting paper-grass from the cliffs above the river. When they have cut enough grass, they take it down by the bullockcart to be delivered to the agent. The agent’s job is to arrange for the dispatch of this grass to the paper-mills. The Gujjar women toil all through the day while the agent sits on silk-cushions, smoking a hookah. Besides cutting grass, the Gujar women also graze their buffaloes and other cattle. They have to carry heavy loads on their heads and cross the river to go to the other side. Not only this. They have to fetch drinking water from the river in earthen or brass pitchers for their domestic consumption.

9. Comment on the Gujar woman’s love of beaded ornaments. Also explain how they made hand-crafted jewllery.

Answer: The Gujars were tribals who moved from one place to another with their cattle in search of new grazing areas or pastures. They didn’t have the means to have access to precious kind of gold or silver ornaments. However, they crafted their own ‘jewellery’ from the beads that grew in the jungle itself. They wore necklaces made out of lal-lal-beeger, the shiny scarlet seeds that grew almost everywhere in the jungle. They discarded the faded necklaces and made new ones with the new seeds. Even little Sibia was preparing one for herself. She could already imagine the rattling swish of the necklace around her little neck. However, there was a little problem. Each seed (bead), which was as hard as stone, had to be drilled with a red-hot needle. Unluckily the family needle was broken, so Sibia must wait till they could buy another needle. Still she often dreamt about strings and strings of glass and beads—anklets, ear-rings, bangles etc.:— to decorate her little golden body.

10. Give a brief description of the encampment of the nomadic graziers whose life¬style forms the backdrop of the story “The Blue Bead.”

Answer:  The nomadic graziers lived in a Gujar encampment. They would live there as long as there was green grass for their cattle. They would often live in the area to exhaust their supply of white butter and milk and then move on. Sometimes they had to wait until their young male buffaloes were sold out for tiger-bait. There were times when a cattle-killing tiger would prove to be a nuisance for their cattle and they had to live on for some more time in the encampment.
The Gujar women seemed to be fond of adornments. They wore trousers, tight and wrinkled at the ankles. In their ears they wore large silver rings made out of melted silver rupees. They belonged to the pastoral age. The women went to the river to fill their big brass gurrahs (pitchers) with fresh water.

11.  Give a brief account of Sibia’s heroic act in saving the life of a Gujar woman.

Answer:  The Gujar women were returning home after their day’s work. Sibia who remained behind put her big load on a huge boulder to rest for sometime. Suddenly, a Gujar woman came to get clear water in her two pitchers. She walked on to the steps of the ghat, unaware of the crocodile who was waiting for his prey. The woman screamed loudly as the crocodile lunged at her. Both his jaws closed on her leg. Silia at once plunged into the water and aimed at the reptile’s eyes with her hayfork. The blinded crocodile crashed back and disappeared in the bloody foam of water. Then Sibia approached the fainting woman and somehow, dragged her out of the water. Still she did not brag about her act of bravery. She was only excited about the blue bead she found on the sandbank which she could use as a gem in her necklace.

12. How did the Gujar woman struggle against the crocodile to save herself ? How was she rescued by Sibia ?

Answer:  The Gujar woman came down with two gurrahs to the river to get clean water from the river bed. She wanted to fill both the gurrahs to the top without sand. So she walked down the stepping stone. She was within a yard of the crocodile when he lunged at her. He closed his jaws round her leg. The Gujar woman screamed, dropped both her pitchers with a clatter on the boulder. Sibia, who was present nearly, observed this. She at once made up her mind to rescue the helpless woman. She sprang from boulder to boulder like a mountain-goat. In a minute, she was beside the shrieking woman. The crocodile was tugging to and fro when he noticed Sibia and struck at her. But Sibia did not hesitate and aimed straight at the crocodiles eyes. With all the force of her little body. She drove the hayfork into his eyes. The crocodile reared up in convulsion and then disappeared. Sibia dragged the injured woman from the water with a heroic effort. She stopped her wounds with sand and bound them with a rag. She was also able to help her home to the Gujar encampment for further medical care.
This shows that Sibia is a girl with a heroic streak. But the best thing about her is that she does not boast of her great victory over a giant reptile. She is happy with the blue bead she gets near the river bank after the great fight against the monster of the river.


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Comprehension Passages

1. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :

Sibia was eating the last of her meal, chupatti wrapped round a smear of green chili and rancid butter; and she divided this also, to make it seem more, and bit it, showing straight white teeth.
With her ebony hair and great eyes, and her skin of oiled brown cream, she was a happy immature child-woman about twelve years old. Barefoot, of course, and often goosey-cold on a winter morning, and born to toil.

(i) Where did Sibia live ? How was she dressed ? What did her last meal consist of?
Answer: Sibia lived in a mud house in a noisy village. She was dressed in an earth- coloured rag. Her last meal consisted of a chupatti wrapped round a green chili and rancid butter.

(ii) What did Sibia like to buy ? Why ?
Answer: Sibia liked to buy a handful of blown glass beads from the bazaar and one of the thin glass bangles that the man kept on a stick. She couldn’t buy those things because she had no money.

(iii) Describe Sibia’s physical appearance.
Answer: Sibia was a twelve years old girl with ebony hair and great eyes. Her skin was of oiled brown cream colour.

(iv) What did she look at when she passed before the sweetmeat stall ?
Answer: She looked at the brilliant honey confections, abuzz with dust and flies.

(v) What did Sibia like to taste at home ? What drink did she like to have at home ?
Answer: Sibia liked to taste wild honey at home. She liked to have the syrup crunched out of a stalk of sugar cane.

2. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :

But Sibia, in all her life from birth to death, was marked for work. Since she could toddle, she had husked corn, and gathered sticks, and put dung to dry, and cooked and weeded, and carried, and fetched water, and cut grass for fodder.
She was going with her mother and some other women now to get paper grass from the cliffs above the river. When you had enough of it, you could take it down by bullock cart to the railhead and sell it to the agent who would arrange for its dispatch to the paper mills. The women often toiled all day at this work, and the agent sat on silk cushions, smoking a hookah.

(i) What tasks had Sibia been doing during her childhood ?
Answer: During her childhood, Sibia had been husking corn, gathering sticks, putting dung to dry, cooking and weeding, fetching water and cutting grass for fodder.

(ii) Why did she go with her mother and some other women ?
Answer: She went with her mother and some other women to get paper grass from the cliff above the river.

(iii) What did the women toil for the whole day ? What did the agent do ?
Answer: The women toiled to collect the paper grass for the whole day and then brought it down by bullock cart to the railhead and then sold it to the agent. The agent despatched it to the paper mills.

(iv) What did Sibia carry with her when she went with her mother ?
Answer: Sibia carried with her sickle and hayfork when she went with her mother.

(v) Why could Sibia not skip when she was on her way back from the cliffs ?
Answer: Sibia could not skip when she was on her way back from the cliffs because she carried a great load on her head and was tired.

3. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :

Oh, for strings and strings of glass and beads-anklets, earrings, nose-rings, bangles- all the gorgeous dazzle of the bazaar—all her little golden body decorated !
Chattering as they went, the women followed the dusty track towards the river. On their way, they passed a Gujar encampment of grass huts where these nomadic graziers would live for a time until their animals had perhaps finished all the easy grazing within reach, or they were not able to sell enough of their white butter and white milk in the district, or there was no one to buy the young male buffaloes for tiger-bait.

(i) What did the women pass by when they went toward the river ?
Answer: The women passed by a Gujar encampment of grass huts where the nomadic graziers lived when they went towards the river.

(ii) What did the Gujar women wear ?
Answer: The Gujar women wore trousers, tight and wrinkled at the ankles and large silver rings made of melted rupees in their ears.

(iii) Where had the Gujar men and boys gone ?
Answer: The Gujar men and boys had gone out with the herd or gone to the bazaar to sell produce.

(iv) What did Sibia notice about the buffaloes that the Gujar men left behind ?
Answer: Sibia noticed that the buffaloes were standing about, creatures of great wet noses, and moving jaws and gaunt black bones.

(v) Why were the Gujars called Junglis ?
Answer: They were called junglis because they were born and bred in the forest. For centuries they had been getting their living from animals and from grass trees. They scratched their food together and stored their substance in large herds and silver jewellery.

4. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :

Ah, now there was the river, twinkling between the trees, sunlit beyond dark trunks. They could hear it rushing along.
The women came out on the shore, and made for the stepping-stones.
They had plenty to laugh and bicker about, as they approached the river in a noisy crowd. They girded up their skirts, so as to jump from stone to stone, and they clanked
their sickles and forks together over their shoulders to have ease of movement. They shouted their quarrels above the gush of the river.
Noise frightens crocodiles. The big mugger did not move, and all the women crossed in safety to the other bank.

(i) How had the Gujars been getting their living ?
Answer: The Gujars had been getting their living from animals and from grass trees.

(ii) How did the women cross the river ?
Answer: The women laughed and bickered about as they approached the river in a noisy crowd. They girded up their skirts, and jumped from stone to stone, clanked their sickles and forks together as they crossed the river. They also shouted their quarrels above the gush of river.

(iii) In what mood did the women cross the river ?
Answer: They crossed the river in a happy mood. They laughed and bickered about. They shouted their quarrels above the gush of water.

(iv) What frightens the crocodile ? What had the women to do to get the paper grass ?
Answer: Noise frightens the crocodiles. The women had to climb a still hillside to get the paper grass.

(v) Give the names of the different animals that lived in the river.
Answer: Great turtles, mahseer and crocodiles lived in the river.

5. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :

When she was halfway over, she put her load down on a big boulder to rest; and leaned, breathing, on the fork.
At the same moment a Gujar woman came down with two gurrahs to the water on the other side. In order to get the good clear water, which would quickly fill both gurrahs to the top without sand, she walked onto the stepping-stones.
She was within a yard of the crocodile when he lunged at her.
Up out of the darkling water heaved the great reptile, water slushing off him, his livid jaws yawning and all his teeth flashing as he slashed at her leg.

(i) When did Sibia put her load down on a boulder ? Why ?
Answer: When Sibia was halfway over, she put her load down on a boulder. She did so in order to take rest.

(ii) Why did a Gujar woman come with two gurrahs to the water on the other side of the bank ?
Answer: A Gujar woman came with two gurrahs to the water on the other side of the bank to get good clean water.

(iii) What happened when the Gujar woman was within a yard of the crocodile ?
Answer: When the Gujar woman was within a yard of the crocodile, the crocodile lunged at her.

(iv) What did the Gujar woman do to save herself ?
Answer: The woman screamed, dropped both brass pots with a clatter on a boulder. She recoiled from the crocodile, but his jaws closed on her leg as she slipped and fell on the stone and clutched one of the timber logs to save herself.

(v) What did the crocodile try to do after pulling her leg ?
Answer: The crocodile pulled her leg and tried to carry her off down into the deeps of the pool.

6. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :

With all the force of her little body, she drove the hayfork at the eyes, and one prong went in – right in – while its pair scratched past on the horny cheek.
The crocodile reared up in convulsion, till half his lizard body was out of the river, the tail and nose nearly meeting over his stony back. Then he crashed back, exploding the water, and in an uproar of bloody foam he disappeared.
He would die. Not yet, but presently, though his death would not be known for days; not till his stomach, blown with gas, floated him. Then perhaps he would be found upside down among the logs at the timber boom, with pus in his eye.

(i) What did Sibia do when she saw the woman being attacked by the crocodile ?
Answer: With all her force of her little body, Sibia drove the hayfork at the crocodile’s eyes and one prong went in-right in-while its pair scratched past on the horny cheek.

(ii) What did Sibia aim at to harm the crocodile ? What did she use to attack the crocodile to save the woman ?
Answer: Sibia aimed at the crocodile’s eyes. She used a hayfork to attack the crocodile.

(iii) What happened to the crocodile after he was attacked by Sibia ?
Answer: The crocodile was attacked and hit in the eye with hayfork by Sibia. The crocodile reared up in convulsion and then disappeared.

(iv) What did Sibia do to bring her out of water ? How did Sibia deal with her wounds ?
Answer: Sibia got her arms round the fainting woman, and somehow dragged her out from the water. She stopped her wounds with sand and bound them with rag and took her to her home.

(v) What did Sibia do after saving the life of a Gujar woman ?
Answer: Sibia took her grass, sickle and fork and went back to her home.