NCERT (CBSE) Textbook Exercise

Comprehension Check (Important Questions)

Q.1: What did the author find in a junk shop?

Ans: The author found a very old 19th century roll-top desk in a junk shop. It was made of oak. It was in bad condition. So it was being sold at a cheap price.

Q.2: What did he find in a secret drawer? Who do you think had put it in there?

Ans: In a secret drawer of a roll-top desk, the author found a small tin box. There was a letter in that box.

There was a piece of lined newspaper pasted on the box on which it was hand-written: “Jim’s last letter received, January 25, 1915. To be buried with me when the time comes.” This clearly indicated that it was placed there by the addressee. The address on the envelope revealed that it was for Mrs. Jim Macpherson of 12, Copper Breeches Bridport, Dorset.” So Connie, the wife of Jim Macpherson must have put it there.

Q.3: Who had written the letter, to whom and when?

Ans: Jim Macpherson, captain of the British army, wrote this letter while he was fighting the German forces. The letter was dated December 26, 1914. It was addressed to his wife Connie.

Q.4: Why was the letter written – what was the wonderful thing that had happened?

Ans: The letter was written to describe a wonderful incident. Mr. Jim Macpherson wanted to share his feelings of this beautiful incident with his wife. It occurred on the Christmas day of 1914. The wonderful thing was that the two armies fighting each other celebrated Christmas together.

Q.5: Do you think Jim Macpherson came back from the war? How do you know this?

Ans: Jim Macpherson never came back from the war. His wife Connie knew about his death. That was why she kept the letter in a tin box. She wrote on the top of the box that it was Jim’s last letter.

Q.6: How old was Mrs. Macpherson now? Where was she?

Ans: Mrs. Macpherson was now 101 years old. She was in the conservatory of a hospital.

Q.7: Who did Connie Macpherson think her visitor was?

Ans: Connie Macpherson thought that her visitor was her husband Jim Macpherson.

Working with the Text (Important Questions)

Q.1: For how long do you think Connie had kept Jim’s letter? Give reasons for your answer.

Ans: Connie had kept Jim’s letter for a long time. She had received it on January 25, 1915. Jim had written it on December 26, 1914. At that time Jim was an officer, a captain in the British army. A captain in the army is always a young man and it means Jim’s wife Connie must have also been young then. In the story she is 101. It means the letter was about 70 – 75 years old.

There are hints also. The table containing the letter was found in a junk shop which is also an indication of its oldness.

Q.3: Why do Jim and Hans think that games or sports are good ways of resolving conflicts? Do you agree?

Ans: Jim and Hans are people whose heart is full of kindness. While serving the army they have been a witness to all the sufferings of war. So it is also natural for them to hate war. However the problems between the two countries are bound to there. A non-violent method to resolve these problems is what they desire. It occurs to them that this method can be to compete in games. So they think that games or sports are good ways of resolving conflicts.

I agree that some non-violent method must be found to resolve disputes between nations.

Q.4: Do you think the soldiers of the two armies like each other, or different from each other? Find evidence from the story to support your answer.

Ans: The soldiers of the two armies like each other and the story is all about it. They like to greet to each other, play football, eat and drink together. The two captains talk affectionately about their lives away from the field. They agree that the problems can be resolved in a non-violent method like – by competing in games instead of fighting wars.

The soldiers of both the armies long for peace and are eager to end the war. They want to go back to their families. Thus, there is much which is common in between them.

Q.5: Mention the various ways in which the British and German soldiers become friends and find things in common at Christmas.

Ans: It was the Christmas that made the British and German soldiers friends. They were the Germans who waved a white flag and wished the British a happy Christmas. The British responded with “same to you.” They were surprised when the Germans moved further towards them without arms. The British captain was alarmed that it might be a trick although, it was not.

Then they came close, shook hands. The Christmas and the ways of celebrating it were common between the two. They played, they ate and sang carols. The two captains talked of their families and their own fields of activities when there was no war. They had the same tender feeling about the same feelings about life. They did not want to fight. They liked peace and wanted to be with their families as soon as possible. They wished the disputes between the nations could be resolved by a non-violent way like playing or competing games.

Q.6: What is Connie’s Christmas present? Why is it “the best Christmas present in the world”?

Ans: Connie’s Christmas present was the letter which the author had brought fro her. However, in her muddled state she thought that it was not the author but her husband, Jim. She called the author Jim and made him sit beside her. She kissed him on the cheek. She thought that her husband had returned after such a long time. So she said that it was the best Christmas present she had ever received.

Q.7: Do you think the title of this story is suitable for it? Can you think of any other title(s)?

Ans: The title of the story is quite suitable. ‘The Best Christmas Present in the World’ refers to the present received by the old lady. As otherwise also the story is totally related to and moves around Christmas. However, it is possible to find alternate titles like -‘War and Peace’. ‘Christmas Present’ could also be a title.

Additional Important Question(s)

Q.1: Why did the author buy the desk which was in bad condition?

Ans: The author bought the desk although it was in a bad condition. He did so because he had always wanted to get roll-top desk. This was cheap and so he could afford it. Moreover, he felt that he could restore it to its original glory.

Q.2: How did Hans Wolf know Dorset?

Ans: Hans Wolf learnt about Dorset from a novel called ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’. It is written by Hardy. Hardy was Hans Wolf’s favourite author.

Q.3: How did Mrs. Macpherson behave when the author met her?

Ans: When the author went to Mrs. Macpherson, she was gazing out at the garden. As the author said ‘Hello’, she looked at him vacantly. But she fixed her eyes on him (author) when he took out the letter and gave it to her. Her eyes lit up in recognition of that letter. There was a glow of happiness on her face as she was delighted visibly. The author spoke in detail about how he happened to find that letter. But she was not listening. She said nothing but stroke the letter tenderly. Then there were tears in her eyes as she mistook the author for her husband. She made the author to sit beside her and kissed his cheeks showing love and affection.