CBSE Class 9 English Main Course Book Unit 5 Mystery Chapter 3 The Tragedy of Birlstone

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CBSE Class 9 English Main Course Book Unit 5 Mystery Chapter 3 The Tragedy of Birlstone

Question 1:
Look at the picture below and list some phrases and words that come to your mind when you look at it.
Murder, Mystery, Crime, Investigation, Death

Question 2:
Can you make some guesses about the dead man? Give reasons for your answers.

  1. Did the man die a natural death or was he murdered?
  2. Was the dead man rich or poor?
  3. Who is the man bending over him?


  1. It looks like a murder because some sort of weapon is found near the dead body.
  2. His clothes and the Manor House are indicating that he was a rich man.
  3. Seems to be a detective or a police officer. The calm over his face says that he is not a relative of the dead man.

Question 3:
Here are a police constable’s notes of his investigation of the murder at Manor House. After reading the notes, discuss where the murder could have taken place. What was the motive behind the evil act? How was the act committed?
The murder took place in the Manor House. Exact location of the room is impossible to
tell. No clue for the motive is there. The act must have been committed in a ghastly manner which left injuries and marks on the deceased.

Question 4:
Dr. Wood, the capable general practitioner, has been requested to solve this case. He gathers information about the murder from the inmates of the house. The information is presented in two parts.
Part A: Background story by Arthur Canon Doyle
Part B: Conversation between Dr. Wood and Cecil Barker
Part A
Background Story
The background story gives a picturisation of the location of the story. This also gives an account of how Mr. Douglas became popular in Birlstone.
Part B is a discussion between Dr. Wood, and Mr. Barker at the crime scene. Certain things raise suspicion in Dr. Wood’s mind. The drawbridge was open in the night. The door was open and the window pane was broken. Mr. Douglas was in another room.

Question 5:
Answer the following questions by ticking the correct options.

  1. The only change in Birlstone in years has been ……………….
    (a) the opening of a few shops.
    (b) the timbered cottages.
    (c) an improvement in its picturesque appearance.
    (d) a number of well-to-do residents have settled there
  2. The Manor House stood out because of its  ……………….
    (a) diamond-paned windows.
    (b) huge beech trees.
    (c) drawbridge and windows.
    (d) residents.
  3. John Douglas had won quite a reputation for himself in Birlstone because of his ……………….
    (a) genial temperament.
    (b) Manor House.
    (c) his wealth.
    (d) his beautiful wife.
  4. Cecil Barker’s first reaction at the sight of the dead Douglas was to ………………..
    (a) inform Mr Woods.
    (b) stop Mrs Douglas from seeing the dead body.
    (c) call for help.
    (d) observe the open door.


  1. —(a),
  2. —(b),
  3. —(a),
  4. —(b).

Question 6:
In Question 3 you read an eye-witness account of a robbery. On the basis of your reading of the Birlstone tragedy, in about 125 words, write Dr Wood’s account of the discovery of John Douglas’s body.
It was approaching midnight when I got a call from Mr. Barker that Mr. Douglas had been murdered. I rushed towards the scene. To my great surprise the drawbridge was down which should have been up at this hour of the night. When I reached the scene of the murder I could see Mr. Douglas’ body lying spread out near the fireplace. His head was towards the fireplace. There was Mr. Barker in the room but Mr. Douglas’ wife was in another room. She was too shocked to see the dead body.

When I asked Mr. Barker he said that the door was open when he arrived on the scene and it was he who lowered the drawbridge. He also said that usually at 6 pm the drawbridge was put up so that nobody could enter the manor during night. There was a doubt in my mind that somebody might have entered before 6 pm and hid himself somewhere in the manor to wait for the right time to execute the crime. Mr. Barker and Douglas’ wife needed to be investigate nobody can be beyond suspicion. Proper investigation needs to be done to solve this murder mystery.

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