NCERT Solutions for class 10th English Chapter 8 Mijbil the Otter



(Page 106)

Que1. What ‘experiment’ did Maxwell think Comusfearna would be suitable for?

Ans. Maxwell had settled in Comusfearna. He thought that he would like to keep an otter instead of a dog. Comusfearna was ringed by water. So it would be a very suitable spot for this experiment keeping an otter. An otter liked water.

Que 2. Why does he go to Basra? How long does he wait there and why?

Ans. He goes to Basra to collect and answer his mail from Europe. At the Consulate General, he found that his mail had not arrived. He had to wait there for five days. He had to wait there because his mail arrived five days later because of some problems.

Que 3. How does he get the otter? Does he like it? Pick out the words that tell you this.

Ans. Maxwell had told his friend about his desire to keep on otter as a pet. The friend sent two Arabs with an otter. They had carried it in a bag with a note from his friend: “Here your otter.” He liked the otter. The words that tell us this are: “It is, in effect, a thraldom to otters, an otter fixation, that I have since found to be shared by most people, who have ever owned one.”

Que 4. Why was the otter named “Maxwell’s Otter”?

Ans. Mijbil was, in fact, of a race previously unknown to science. So it was named ‘Maxwell’s Otter’.

Que 5. Tick the right answer. In the beginning, the otter was

• aloof and indifferent

• friendly

• hostile

Ans. aloof and indifferent.

Que 6. What happened when Maxwell took Mijbil to the bathroom? What did it do two days after that?

Ans. For half an hour Mijbil went wild with joy in the water, plunging and rolling in it. It shot up and down the length of the bathtub underwater. It made enough slosh and splash. Two days later, Mijbil escaped from Maxwell’s bedroom. He saw its tail disappearing round the bend of the corridor that led to the bathroom. He struggled with the taps until there was a full flow.


(Pages 108-109)

Que 1. How was Mij to be transported to England?

Ans. The British Airline to England would not fly animals. So Maxwell booked a flight to Paris on another airline, and from there to London. The airline insisted that Mij should be packed into a box not more than eighteen inches square. Thus Mij was transported to England in that box, which was kept on the floor at his feet.

Que 2. What did Mij do to the box?

Ans. Mij had torn the lining of the box to pieces.

Que 3. Why did Maxwell put the otter back in the box? How do you think he felt when he did this?

Ans. Maxwell put the otter back in the box. This was because the airline would not have flown it without doing so. Perhaps the writer felt bad about it because the otter didn’t like to be put in the box. But the writer had no choice.

Que 4. Why does Maxwell say the air hostess was “the very queen of her kind”?

Ans. The air hostess appreciated the problem of the writer. She was very cooperative. He had great admiration for her. According to the author, she was one of the finest air hostesses. That is why he called her “the very queen of her kind”.

Que 5. What happened when the box was opened?

Ans. When the box was opened, Mij went out of the box. He disappeared at a high speed down the aircraft. There were cries all around. A woman stood up in her seat crying, “A rat!”


(Page 110)

Que 1. What game had Mijbil invented?

Ans. Mijbil had invented a game of his own which he played with a ping-pong ball. The writer’s suitcase had got damaged on the journey home. There was a slope on one end of the suitcase. Mijbil would place the ball on the high end. The ball then would run down the length of the suitcase to the other end. He would run to the other end and throw the ball again to high end. This game continued for some time.

Que 2. What are ‘compulsive habits’? What does Maxwell say are the compulsive habits of

(i) school children

(ii) Mij?

Ans. ‘Compulsive habits’ are those habits that a man cannot control. School children on their way to school and back must place their feet on the center of each paving block. They must touch every seventh upright of the iron railings. Or they must pass to the outside of every second lamp post. Mijbil would tug the author to the two-foot-high wall of a school when he walked him. On his way home, Mij would jump onto the wall and run the full length of its thirty yards.

Que 3. What group of animals do otters belong to?

Ans. Otters belong to a comparatively small group of animals called Mustellines. Other animals that belong to this group are badger, mongoose, weasel, stoat, mink, etc.

Que 4. What guesses did the Londoners make about what Mij was?

Ans. An ordinary Londoner could not recognize an otter. They made guesses about what this animal was. They thought it to be a baby seal, a squirrel, a walrus, a hippo, a beaver, a bear cub, a leopard, brontosaur. Mij was anything but an otter.


Que 1. What things does Mij do which tell you that he is intelligent, friendly and fun-loving animal who needs love?

Ans. For the first twenty-four hours, Mijbil was neither hostile nor friendly. He was simply aloof and indifferent. He chose to sleep on the floor as far from Maxwell’s bed as possible. The second night Mijbil came onto Maxwell’s bed shortly after midnight. It reminded asleep in the crook of the author’s knees until the servant brought the tea in the morning. During the day, it began to lose its apathy and took a very keen interest in its surroundings.

Que 2. What are some of the things we come to know about otters from this text?

Ans. We learn that otters are intelligent, friendly, and fun-loving creatures. They like playing with water and other objects like marbles and ping-pong balls. They are fond of a free life without any captivity.

Que 3. Why is Mij’s species now known to the world as Maxwell’s otter?

Ans. This race of animals was unknown to scientists in the beginning. After it was discovered, zoologists called it Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli or Maxwell’s otter.

Que 4. Maxwell in the story speaks for the otter, Mij. He tells us what the otter feels and thinks on different occasions. Given below are some things the otter does. Complete the column on the right to say what Maxwell says about what Mij feels and thinks.

Que 5. Read the story and find the sentences where Maxwell describes his pet otter. Then choose and arrange your sentences to illustrate those statements below that you think are true.

Maxwell description

(i) makes Mij seem almost human, like a small boy.

(ii) shows that he is often irritated with what Mij does.

(iii) shows that he is often surprised by what Mij does.

(iv) of Mij’s antics is comical.

(v) shows that he observes the antics of Mij very carefully.

(vi) shows that he thinks Mij is a very ordinary otter.

(vii) shows that he thinks the otter is very unusual.


Que I. Describing a Repeated Action in the Past

To talk about something that happened regularly in the past, but does not happen any longer, we use would or used to. Both would and used to describe repeated actions in the past.

(a) Mij would follow me without a lead and come to me when I called his name.

(b) He would play for hours with a selection of toys.

(c) On his way home… Mij would tug me to this wall.

(d) When I was five years old, I used to follow my brother all over the place.

(e) He used to tease me when Mother was not around.

To describe repeated states or situations in the past, however, we use only used to. (We cannot use would for states or situations in the past.) So we do not use would with verbs like be, have, believe, etc. Look at the following sentences.

(a) When we were young, we used to believe there were ghosts in school. (Note: believe shows a state of mind.)

(b) Thirty years ago, more women used to be housewives than now. (Note: be here describes a situation).

From the table below, make as many correct sentences as you can using would and or used to, as appropriate. (Hint: First decide whether the words in italics show an action, or a state or situation, in the past.) Then add two or three sentences of your own to it.

Ans. (i) Emperor Akbar used to be fond of musical evenings.

(ii) Every evening we would take long walks on the beach.


Every evening we used to take long walks on the beach.

(iii) Fifty years ago, very few people used to own cars.

(iv) Till the 1980’s Shanghai used to have very dirty streets.

(v) My uncle used to spend his holidays by the sea.

Other similar expressions:

(i) I used to travel by car on such occasions.

(ii) India would be ushering in a new century.

(iii) My grandfather used to play with marbles.

II. Noun Modifiers

To describe or give more information about a noun (or to modify a noun), we use adjectives or adjectival phrases. Look at these examples from the text:

(a) An eminently suitable spot (b) His wide, flat belly

(c) Symmetrical pointed scales (d) A ricocheting bullet

Nouns can also be used as modifiers:

(a) The dinner party (b) A designer dress

(c) The car keys

We can use more than one noun as modifier. Proper nouns can also be used:

(a) The Christmas dinner party

(b) A silk designer dress

(c) The Maruti car keys

In the examples below, there is an adjectival phrase in front of a noun modifier:

(a) The lovely Christmas party

(b) A trendy silk designer dress

(c) The frightfully expensive golden Maruti car keys

1. Look at these examples from the text, and say whether the modifier (in italics) are nouns, proper nouns, or adjective plus noun.

(i) An otter fixation
(ii) The iron railings
(iii) The Tigris marshes
(iv) The London streets
(v) soft velvet fur
(vi) A four-footed soccer player

Ans. (i) Noun (ii) Noun (iii) Proper noun (iv) Proper noun (v) Adjective + Noun (vi) Adjective + Noun

Que 2. Given below are some nouns, and a set of modifiers (in the box). Combine the nouns and modifiers to make as many appropriate phrases as you can. (Hint: The nouns and modifiers are all from the texts in this book.)

temple three girls triangle dresses person thoughts boys roar gifts scream farewall expression time subject landscape handkerchief crossing flight chatterbox profession physique coffee view celebration college rough hundred stone ordinary love uncomfortable white slang slack bare railroad tremendous family marriage plump invigorating panoramic heartbreaking birthday incorrigible ridiculous loud first

Ans. temple stone

temple three girls three college girls

triangle a love triangle

dresses a hundred dresses

person an ordinary person, an incorrigible person

thoughts bare thoughts

boys rough boys

roar loud roar

gifts birthday gifts

scream a loud scream

farewell heartbreaking farewell

expression slang expression

time slack time

subject a ridiculous subject

landscape a panoramic landscape

handkerchief white handkerchief

crossing a railroad crossing

flight first flight

chatterbox incorrigible chatterbox

profession a family profession

physique plum physique

coffee invigorating coffee

view panoramic view

celebration marriage celebration

III. Read this sentence:

He shook himself, and I half expected a cloud of dust.

The author uses a cloud of dust to give a picture of a large quantity of dust. Phrases like this indicate a particular quantity of something that is not usually countable. For example a bit of land, a drop of blood, a pinch of salt, a piece of paper.

1. Match the words on the left with a word on the right. Some words on the left can go with more than one word on the right.

(i) a portion of — blood
(ii) a pool of — cotton
(iii) flakes of — stones
(iv) a huge heap of — gold
(v) a gust of — fried fish
(vi) little drops of — snow
(vii) a piece of — water
(viii) a pot of — wind

Ans. (i) a piece of cotton (ii) a pool of water (iii) flakes of snow (iv) a huge heap of stones (v) a gust of wind (vi) little drops of blood (vii) a portion of fried fish (viii) a pot of gold

Que 2. Use a bit of/a piece of/a bunch of/a cloud of/a lump of with the italicised nouns in the following sentences. The first has been done for you as an example.

(i) My teacher gave me My teacher gave me a bit some advice. of advice.
(ii) Can you give me some clay, please? _
(iii) The information you gave was very useful. _
(iv) Because of these factories, smoke hangs over the city. _
(v) Two stones rubbed together can produce sparks of fire. _
(vi) He gave me some flower on my birthday. __


You have seen how Maxwell describes Mij the otter’s feelings and thoughts by watching him. Play the game of dumb charades. Take turns to express a feeling or thought silently, through gestures. Let the class speak out their guesses about the feelings or thoughts you are trying to express.

Ans. Classroom activity.


Write a description of a person or an animal (such as a pet) that you know very well and love very much. Questions (4) and (5) in ‘Thinking about the Text’ will have given you some idea about how to do this. Mention some things the person or animal does, what you think the person or animal feels, etc.

Ans. Do yourself.

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