- Books Name
- Yash Tyagi Coaching English Book
- ACERISE INDIA
- CBSE Class 12
Evans Tries an O Level
By Colin Dexter
Evans Tries an O-Level is a story about a cunning prisoner named Evans who makes a plan to escape from the prison on the day of his German-language O-Level exam. The jail administration, on the other hand, is ready to cover up any kind of risk. Will he be successful in his escape?
The story begins with a phone call between the Governor and the secretary of the Examination Board. The prison administration wishes to administer an O-Level exam in German to a prisoner named Evans. The secretary asks about the exam's venue as well as the invigilator. The Governor responds that the exam can be held in Evans' cell, and that a churchman will be appointed as the exam's invigilator. They then conclude their conversation by deciding how and when the exam will be held. Jackson, a senior prison officer, visits Evans' cell to inspect it for any weapons that may be hidden. They are conducting this investigation because Evans had previously escaped from prison, earning him the nickname 'Evans the Break' from the episode. The governor was unwilling to take any chances because it could bring a bad name to him. Jackson and Stephens thoroughly examined the cell. They had already taken away his nail scissors, and Jackson had instructed Stephens to take away his razor blade as soon as he had shaved. Jackson told Evans to take off his hat, but he didn't because Evans requested him not to because it was his lucky hat for the exam. To keep an eye on Evans, various arrangements were made, including the setup of a microphone in his cell.
On the day of the exam, Mc Leery arrived at the prison and was assisted to his cell by Stephens. The Governor was informed that the examination was about to begin and that the cell had no weapons. The Governor ordered the officer to check the churchman to ensure that Evans did not use any of Mc Leery's belongings as a weapon. The churchman and his belongings were searched, and the paper-knife was taken away so Evans wouldn't use it to injure the churchman in order to escape. During the search, Jackson found something unusual in Churchman's bag. It was a semi-filled tube. When asked why he kept it, McLeery explained that he had to use it because he suffered from piles. The exam began, and the Governor could hear everything that was said in the cell. Meanwhile, the Governor became suspicious after receiving a phone call from the examination board requesting some corrections to the question paper. He cross-checked it by dialling the number again, which was busy. Then there was another phone call from the Magistrate demanding police officers and a van. Such things piqued the Governor's concern, but he calmed down because he was confident in his arrangements.
Stephens stood outside the cell, peering inside every minute. It was always the same, but he later noticed Evans had wrapped a blanket around himself. Though he doubted it at first, he soon stopped thinking about it because it was cold inside the cell. Later, the exam was held, and Stephens accompanied Mc Leery to the gate as directed by the Governor over the phone. Everything went according to plan, and Stephens was pleased. To be certain of himself, he returned to the cell for one last look. He was shocked when he saw Mc Leery lying in a pool of blood. Soon after, word got out that Evans had injured the invigilator and escaped from jail by impersonating him. McLeery, who was badly injured, was taken to the Governor because he possessed important information. Mc Leery told the Governor about the photocopy being placed on the question paper, which revealed Evans' escape plan. The Governor attempted to decode the Geman language and discovered that Evans would arrive in Newbury after his jailbreak. Soon after, Superintendent Carter was summoned, and Mc leery was sent with him to catch Evans. Jackson and Stephens were both chastised for being unaware of Evans' false beard and the churchman's belongings in his cell. He then ordered them both to the St Aldates Police Station to meet with Chief Inspector Bell.
Meanwhile, Carter called to inform him that they had missed Evans while chasing him and that McLeery had been admitted to Radcliffe Hospital. The Governor called the hospital and learned that an ambulance had been dispatched to the examination board, but the churchman had already disappeared. He realised that Mc Leery, who was assisting them in their search for Evans, was actually Evans himself. The police soon found the real Mc Leery, who was imprisoned at his home. Evans, on the other hand, had arrived at the Golden Lion Hotel and was enjoying his freedom. When he arrived at the hotel, he found the Governor in his room. He told Evans that he had all of his men surrounding him and that there was no way for him to escape again. When the Governor asked about his plan, Evans told him everything. Finally, the prison van was summoned to send Evans to the prison. The Governor was pleased that he had finally caught him. As soon as the van began to move, the prison officer unlocked Evans' handcuffs and instructed the driver to drive quickly so that the police would not be able to catch them again. Finally, with the help of his friends, Evans was able to escape the clutches of the police once more.
It was in early March when the Secretary of the Examinations Board received the call from Oxford Prison.
“It’s a slightly unusual request, Governor, but I don’t see why we shouldn’t try to help. Just the one fellow, you say?”
- Secretary: assistant
- Unusual: strange
- Governor: chief, administrator
The Secretary of the Examination Board received a call from Oxford Prison in March. He stated that it was an unusual request, but they wanted to help a person. He also confirmed that there was only one person, as he had previously stated.
“That’s it. Chap called Evans. Started night classes in O-level German last September. Says he’s dead keen to get some sort of academic qualification.”
“Is he any good?”
“He was the only one in the class, so you can say he’s had individual tuition all the time, really. Would have cost him a packet if he’d been outside.”
“Well, let’s give him a chance, shall we?”
“That’s jolly kind of you. What exactly’s the procedure now?”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. I’ll be sending you all the forms and stuff. What’s his name, you say? Evans?”
“James Roderick Evans.” It sounded rather grand.
“Just one thing, Governor. He’s not a violent sort of fellow, is he? I don’t want to know his criminal record or anything like that, but — ”
“No. There’s no record of violence. Quite a pleasant sort of chap, they tell me. Bit of a card, really. One of the stars at the Christmas concert. Imitations, you know the sort of thing: Mike Yarwood stuff.
No, he’s just a congenital kleptomaniac, that’s all.” The Governor was tempted to add something else, but he thought better of it. He’d look after that particular side of things himself.
- Academic: educational
- Qualification: completion of some course
- cost him a packet: to cost a lot of money
- grand: royal
- Procedure: method, process
- Concert: Musical Performance
- card: a witty or eccentric person
- Imitation: copying
- Congenital: Natural, inherited
- Kleptomania: a very strong wish to steal that you cannot control
- kleptomaniac: a person suffering from kleptomania
- Tempted: have an urge to do something
The Governor confirmed that the examination would only have one candidate, Evans. He also told him that Evans began taking night classes in German language at the O-level in September of last year. He was interested in seeking an educational qualification. The secretary asked as to whether Evans was a good student or not. The Governor responded that he was the only one who went to class. As a result, we can deduce that he received individual instruction for the said course. Taking a class like this outside of prison would have cost him a lot of money. The secretary agreed to give him a chance after hearing this. The Governor appreciated him for his decision and asked about the entire process. The secretary responded that he would send all of the forms needed for the exam. He asked about the prisoner's identity, and the Governor responded that his name was James Roderick Evans. The secretary also inquired as to whether Evans was a violent individual. The Governor stated that no such record existed. He was a nice guy, a little funny, and the star of the Christmas musical performance. Because of his impersonation acts, he was compared to comedian Mike Yarwood. He also stated that he had Kleptomania, which drove him to steal. The Governor wanted to say more, but decided to restrain himself.
“Presumably,” said the Secretary, “you can arrange a room where —”
“No problem. He’s in a cell on his own. If you’ve no objections, he can sit the exam in there.”
“And we could easily get one of the parsons from St. Mary Mags to invigilate, if that’s —”
“Fine, yes. They seem to have a lot of parson there, don’t they?” The two men chuckled good-naturedly, and the Secretary had a final thought. “At least there’s one thing. You shouldn’t have much trouble keeping him incommunicado, should you?”
The Governor chuckled politely once more, reiterated his thanks, and slowly cradled the phone.
- Presumably: to assume, believe
- Cell: lockup
- Objections: complaint
- Parsons: Churchman, priest
- St. Mary Mags: St. Mary’s Magdalene, a church in England
- Invigilate: supervise
- Chuckled: laughed quietly
- Incommunicado: not able to or allowed to communicate with other people
- Reiterated: repeated
- Cradled: rested, placed back
The secretary asked that the Governor set aside a room for the exam. The Governor responded that there was no such issue because Evans was in his own prison lockup. So, if the secretary was okay with it, they could hold the exam there. The secretary thought it was appropriate. The governor also told him that a churchman from a nearby church, St. Mary Mags, would be summoned to keep an eye on Evans during the examination. The secretary laughed, pointing out that the church had a large number of priests, one of whom could be assigned the job of supervision. The secretary asks the governor if it was simple to prevent Evans from communicating with the other person. The governor laughed and thanked him for agreeing to the governor's request. He then placed the phone receiver back on the table and called Evans.
“Evans the Break” as the prison officers called him.
Thrice he’d escaped from prison, and but for the recent wave of unrest in the maximum-security establishments up north, he wouldn’t now be gracing the Governor’s premises in Oxford; and the Governor was going to make absolutely certain that he wouldn’t be disgracing them. Not that Evans was a real burden: just a persistent, nagging presence. He’d be all right in Oxford, though: the Governor would see to that — would see to it personally. And besides, there was just a possibility that Evans was genuinely interested in O-level German. Just a slight possibility. Just a very slight possibility. At 8.30 p.m. on Monday 7 June, Evans’s German teacher shook him by the hand in the heavily guarded Recreational Block, just across from D Wing.
“Guten Gluck, Herr Evans.”
“I said, “Good luck”. Good luck for tomorrow.”
“Oh. Thanks, er, I mean, er, Danke Schon.”
“You haven’t a cat in hell’s chance of getting through, of course, but — ”
“I may surprise everybody,” said Evans.
- Escape: run away, get free
- Establishment: setting up, building
- Grace: bring honour or credit to (someone or something) by one’s attendance or participation.
- Premises: building, site
- Persistent: continuous
- Nagging: here, irritation
- Genuine: real, actual
- Recreation: relaxation, fun
- Guten gluck: German language word for ‘good luck’
- herr: German language word for ‘mister
- pardon: a request to a speaker to repeat something because one did not hear or understand it.
- Danke Schon: German language word for ‘Thank you very much’ or ‘Thank you kindly’
- haven’t a cat in hell’s chance: to be completely unable to achieve something
Evans had escaped from jail three times. He would not be permitted to attend the Governor's residence in Oxford due to recent unrest in the heavily guarded areas of the north. The Governor did not want Evans to bring him down. Evans was not a bother, but his presence was unsettling. When the Governor visited Oxford, he intended to personally supervise him. Evans might have been interested in adding to his qualifications by learning German. On Monday, June 7th, at 8:30 p.m., the German teacher shook hands with Evans across the D wing at the high security recreational block. He wished him luck in German, which Evans did not understand. Evans later realised what had happened and thanked the teacher. Evans was not prepared, according to the teacher, and he had no chance of passing the exam. Evans stated that it was possible that he would pass the exam and surprise everyone.
At 8.30 the following morning, Evans had a visitor. Two visitors, in fact. He tucked his grubby string-vest into his equally grubby trousers, and stood up from his bunk, smiling cheerfully. “Mornin”, Mr Jackson. This is indeed an honour.”
Jackson was the senior prison officer on D Wing, and he and Evans had already become warm enemies. At Jackson’s side stood Officer Stephens, a burly, surly-looking man, only recently recruited to the profession.
Jackson nodded curtly. “And how’s our little Einstein this morning, then?”
“Wasn’t ’e a mathematician, Mr Jackson?”
“I think ’e was a Jew, Mr. Jackson.”
Evans’s face was unshaven, and he wore a filthy-looking red-and-white bobble hat upon his head. “Give me a chance, Mr Jackson. I was just goin’ to shave when you bust in.”
- Tucked: push
- Grubby: dirty
- Bunk: narrow bed attached to the wall
- Burly: large and strong man
- surly: bad-tempered and unfriendly.
- recruited: appointed
- Curtly: short, brief
- Filthy: dirty
Evans was visited by two men the next morning at 8.30 a.m. He stood up from his bed, which was attached to a wall, and tucked his dirty string vest into his dirty trousers. He greeted Mr. Jackson cheerfully and stated that visiting his cell early in the morning was an honour for him. Jackson was the D wing's senior prison officer, and both he and Evans were enemies. Mr. Stephens, a newly appointed officer and a strong-looking man, had joined Mr. Jackson. Jackson gave him a brief greeting before asking about his wellbeing and making fun of him by calling him Einstein. Evans responded in a similar manner, pointing out that Einstein was a mathematician and then stating that he thought Einstein was Jewish. Evans had not shaved and wore a filthy hat on his head. When both of them entered his cell, he asked Jackson to excuse him because he needed to shave.
“Which reminds me.” Jackson turned his eyes on Stephens.
“Make sure you take his razor out of the cell when he’s finished scraping that ugly mug of his. Clear? One of these days he’ll do us all a favour and cut his bloody throat.” For a few seconds Evans looked thoughtfully at the man standing ramrod straight in front of him, a string of Second World War medals proudly paraded over his left breast-pocket. “Mr Jackson? Was it you who took my nail scissors away?” Evans had always worried about his hands.
- Scraping: to remove unwanted covering, here shaving
- mug: a person’s face
- Ramrod: here, a strict supervisor
- Paraded: here, lined
- nail scissors: nail cutter
After hearing him, Jackson told Stephen that this reminded him that Stephen should put his razor away as soon as he finished shaving his ugly face. He also stated that Evans would one day do a favour for the prison officer by slitting his throat with a razor. Evans cast a thoughtful glance at his strict supervisor, who wore World War II medals on the left side of his blazer, on the breast pocket. Mr. Jackson, was it you who took away my nail cutter? he asked. Evans was constantly concerned about the looks of his hands.
“And your nail-file, too.”
“Look!’ For a moment Evans’s eyes smoldered dangerously, but Jackson was ready for him.
“Orders of the Governor, Evans.” He leaned forward and leered, his voice dropping to a harsh, contemptuous whisper. “You want to complain?”
Evans shrugged his shoulders lightly. The crisis was over.
“You’ve got half an hour to smarten yourself up, Evans — and take that bloody hat off!”
“Me ’at? Huh!” Evans put his right hand lovingly on top of the filthy woollen, and smiled sadly. “D’you know, Mr Jackson, it’s the only thing that’s ever brought me any sort o’ luck in life. Kind o’ lucky charm, if you know what I mean. And today I thought — well, with me exam and all that…”
Buried somewhere in Jackson, was a tiny core of compassion; and Evans knew it.
- Smouldered: here, glowed with anger
- Leaned: bent
- Leered: watched, stared
- Contemptuous: disrespectful
- Shrugged:disregarded, dismiss
- Compassion: pity, sympathy
Jackson replied that he had also taken his nail-file. Evans became enraged, and his eyes began to glow with rage. Jackson was prepared for this and responded that it was the Governor's order. He bent down to him and asked in low voices if he wanted to complain. Evans refrained from answering by moving his shoulders. Jackson told Evans he only had half an hour to get ready and to take off his filthy hat. Evans smiled sadly as he moved his hand towards his filthy woollen hat. He told Mr. Jackson that it was his lucky charm and that he wanted to take it with him. Evans was aware that Jackson was sympathetic to him.
“Just this once, then, Shirley Temple.” (If there was one thing that Jackson genuinely loathed about Evans it was his long, wavy hair.) “And get shaving!”
At 8.45 the same morning the Reverend Stuart McLeery left his bachelor flat in Broad Street and stepped out briskly towards Carfax. The weatherman reported temperatures considerably below the normal for early June, and a long black overcoat and a shallow-crowned clerical hat provided welcome protection from the steady drizzle which had set in half an hour earlier and which now spattered the thick lenses of his spectacles. In his right hand he was carrying a small brown suitcase, which contained all that he would need for his morning duties, including a sealed question paper envelope, a yellow invigilation form, a special “authentication” card from the Examinations Board, a paper knife, a Bible (he was to speak to the Women’s Guild that afternoon on the Book of Ruth), and a current copy of The Church Times.
- Shirley temple: An actress famous for her wavy hair
- Loathe: hate
- Reverend: a member of the church
- Drizzle:light shower of rain
- Spattered: splash, spray
- Authentication: verify
- paper knife: blunt knife for cutting paper
- Guild: association
Jackson only let him wear the hat once, and he teased him by calling him Shirley Temple. ShirleyTemple was a famous actress with long wavy hair. Jackson hated Evans' long, wavy hair. He then asked that he shave.
Stuart Mc Lee, a church member, left his Bachelor flat (a flat designed for a single person) in Broad street at 8.45 a.m. He began walking quickly towards Carfax. The weather forecast predicted that the temperature would be lower than normal in early June. Mc Lee was dressed in a black overcoat and a clerical hat (a hat worn by church clergy) to protect himself from the impending rain. It had also splattered water on his glasses. He was carrying a small brown suitcase in his right hand. It contained everything he needed for his morning duties, including a sealed question paper envelope, a yellow supervisor form, a special permission card that verified his status as a supervisor, a blunt knife to cut the seal of the paper, a Bible because he had to speak for a women's association on the Book of Ruth, and the most recent copy of the Church Times.
The two-hour examination was scheduled to start at 9.15 a.m.
Evans was lathering his face vigorously when Stephens brought in two small square tables, and set them opposite each other in the narrow space between the bunk on the one side and on the other a distempered stone wall. Next, Stephens brought in two hard chairs, the slightly less battered of which he placed in front of the table which stood nearer the cell door.
Jackson put in a brief final appearance. “Behave yourself, laddy!”
Evans turned and nodded.
- scheduled: planned or fixed
- Lathering: to form foam with soap
- Vigorously: strongly
- distempered: painted with distemper
- Battered: worn out
The two-hour exam was scheduled to start at 9:15 a.m.
When Stephens brought in two small square tables, Evans was foaming at the mouth. In the small space between the bed and the painted wall, he placed them opposite each other. He then brought in two chairs, one of which was placed in front of the table near the cell door. Jackson made a brief appearances and asked Evans to behave properly. Evans turned to show his acceptance.
“And these” — (Jackson pointed to the pin-ups) — “off!”
Evans turned and nodded again. “I was goin’ to take “em down anyway. A minister, isn’t ’e? The chap comin’ to sit in, I mean.”
“And how did you know that?” asked Jackson quietly.
“Well, I ’ad to sign some forms, didn’t I? And I couldn’t
’elp — ”
Evans drew the razor carefully down his left cheek, and left a neat swath in the white lather. “Can I ask you something, Mr. Jackson? Why did they ’ave to bug me in this cell?” He nodded his head vaguely to a point above the door.
- Pin ups: Posters
- Swath: a broad strip or area of something
- bug: a small microphone
- vaguely: roughly
Evans was ordered by Jackson to remove the posters he had pinned up on the cell wall. Evans agreed and stated that he was about to remove them because he knew a churchman was going to come for the exam. Jackson questioned how he knew that. Evans stated that he became aware of it after signing the examination forms. Evans continued shaving and asked Jackson if he could ask him a question. He then asked as to why the officers had placed a microphone in his cell, and he turned his head toward the space above the door.
“Not a very neat job,” conceded Jackson.
“They’re not — they don’t honestly think I’m goin’ to try to — ”
“They’re taking no chances, Evans. Nobody in his senses would take any chance with you.”
“Who’s goin’ to listen in?”
“I’ll tell you who’s going to listen in, laddy. It’s the Governor himself, see? He don’t trust you a bloody inch — and nor do I. I’ll be watching you like a hawk, Evans, so keep your nose clean. Clear?” He walked towards the door.
Evans nodded. He’d already thought of that, and Number Two Handkerchief was lying ready on the bunk — a neatly folded square of off-white linen
“Just one more thing, Einstein.”
“Ya? Wha’s ‘at?”
“Good luck, old son.”
- Conceded: admit
- laddy: referred to boy
- hawk: a bird of prey with broad rounded wings and long tail
Jackson admitted that the microphone was not perfectly placed, as Evans easily noticed. Evans questions him about why they believe he will run. Anyone with a sense would not trust Jackson, Jackson responds. Evans then asks him who was going to listen to him. The Governor, Jackson replied, would listen because he did not trust him. Jackson admitted that he, too, did not trust him. As a result, he would keep an eye on him like a hawk, a bird that keeps an eye on its prey. Finally, he asks Evans to keep his nose clean, and Evans agrees. He was aware of this and had kept a neat hanky on the bed. Before leaving, Jackson wished him luck.
In the little lodge just inside the prison’s main gates, the Reverend S. McLeery signed his name neatly in the visitors’ book, and thence walked side by side with a silent prison officer across the exercise yard to D Wing, where he was greeted by Jackson. The Wing’s heavy outer door was unlocked, and locked behind them, the heavy inner door the same, and McLeery was handed into Stephens’s keeping.
“Get the razor?” murmured Jackson.
“Well, keep your eyes skinned. Clear?”
Stephens nodded again; and McLeery, his feet clanging up the iron stairs, followed his new guide, and finally stood before a cell door, where Stephens opened the peep-hole and looked through.
“That’s him, sir.”
- Lodge: gate house, cottage
- Murmur: whisper
- keep one’s eyes skinned: be on the alert; watch carefully or vigilantly for something
- Clanging: make a sound
- Peep hole: keyhole, opening
Mc Leery, the priest, signed his name in the visitor's book at the gate house. He then followed the prison officer to D wing through the exercise yard. Jackson greeted him when he arrived. The D wing's heavy outer door was opened and then closed behind them. When they entered through the inner door, the same thing happened. Stephens was joined by Mc Leery. Jackson told Stephens to take the razor out of the cell. Stephen agreed, but cautioned him to keep a close eye on him. While climbing the stairs with his new guide, Mc Leery made a vibrating sound. When they arrived at the cell's entrance, Stephens opened the peep hole and informed Mc Leery that he was the one who had to take the exam.
Evans, facing the door, sat quietly at the farther of the two tables, his whole attention riveted to a textbook of elementary German grammar. Stephens took the key from its ring, and the cell lock sprang back with a thudded, metallic twang.
It was 9.10 a.m. when the Governor switched on the receiver. He had instructed Jackson to tell Evans of the temporary little precaution — that was only fair. (As if Evans wouldn’t spot it!) But wasn’t it all a bit theatrical? Schoolboyish, almost? How on earth was Evans going to try anything on today? If he was so anxious to make another break, why in heaven’s name hadn’t he tried it from the Recreational Block? Much easier. But he hadn’t. And there he was now — sitting in a locked cell, all the prison officers on the alert, two more locked doors between his cell and the yard, and a yard with a wall as high as a haystack. Yes, Evans was as safe as houses…
- Rivet: here, fixed
- Sprang: past of spring
- thudded: strike something with a heavy sound
- twang: a strong ringing sound
- Haystack: a packed pile of hay (dried grass)
Evans sat quietly, facing the door and a little away from the two tables. He was concentrating on basic German grammar.cStephens taken one of the keys from the ring and unlocked the lock. When the cell's lock sprung open, it made a ringing sound. The Governor turned on the microphone receiver at 9:10 a.m. He told Jackson to warn Evans that they had installed a microphone in his cell. He reasoned that it would be beneficial to forewarn him. He said it in such a way that Evans would never notice it. The Governor had the impression that everything was being staged like a theatrical drama, with all of their preparations resembling those of schoolboys. He wondered how Evans could have thought of escaping that day. He could have tried it when he was in the Recreational block because it was easier to escape from there, but he was locked in his cell today. All of the officers were keeping a close eye on him. Between his cell and the yard, there were two doors. There were walls as tall as dry grass piles. Yes, Evans was now completely safe.
Anyway, it wouldn’t be any trouble at all to have the receiver turned on for the next couple of hours or so. It wasn’t as if there was going to be anything to listen to, was it? Amongst other things, an invigilator’s duty was to ensure that the strictest silence was observed. But… but still that little nagging doubt! Might Evans try to take advantage of McLeery? Get him to smuggle in a chisel or two, or a rope ladder, or —
The Governor sat up sharply. It was all very well getting rid of any potential weapon that Evans could have used; but what about McLeery? What if, quite unwittingly, the innocent McLeery had brought in something himself? A jack-knife, perhaps? And what if Evans held him hostage with such a weapon?
- Smuggle: to take someone or something illegally
- Chisel: a long bladed hand tool
- Potential: possible
- Unwittingly: unknowingly
- Jack-knife: a large knife with a folding blade
- Hostage: captive
The Governor thought that if he kept the receiver turned on, there would be no problem. Despite the fact that he knew there was nothing to listen to because it is the supervisor's duty to maintain silence. But he was still unsure. He was concerned that Evans would take advantage of Mc Leery. He could have smuggled a long-bladed hand tool or a rope ladder to him. The Governor was immediately alerted. He assumed they had taken away all of Evans' possible weapons. However, there was a chance that Mc Leery had brought a weapon with him unknowingly. A jack-knife, for example, is a large knife with a folding blade. Evans could even hold him hostage in order to force the prison officers to release him.
The Governor reached for the phone. It was 9.12 a.m. The examinee and the invigilator had already been introduced by Stephens when Jackson came back and shouted to McLeery through the cell door. “Can you come outside a minute, sir? You too, Stephens.”
Jackson quickly explained the Governor’s worries, and McLeery patiently held out his arms at shoulder level whilst Jackson lightly frisked his clothes. “Something hard here, sir.”
“Ma reading glasses,” replied McLeery, looking down at the spectacle case.
Jackson quickly reassured him, and bending down on the landing thumb-flicked the catches on the suitcase. He picked up each envelope in turn, carefully passed his palms along their surfaces — and seemed satisfied. He riffled cursorily through a few pages of Holy Writ, and vaguely shook The Church Times. All right, so far. But one of the objects in McLeery’s suitcase was puzzling him sorely.
- Frisk: check, search
- Riffle: turning pages quickly
- Sorely: with a great intensity, strongly
At 9:12 a.m., the Governor called someone. Stephens had already introduced the supervisor and Evans, both of whom had to take the exam. Just then, Jackson arrived and asked Mccleery to come outside for a moment. He went on to explain why the Governor was concerned. Mc Leery assisted him in the checking process by holding out his arms to be checked. Jackson began checking him out quickly. He then came across something hard. Which, according to Mc Leery, were his reading glasses. He even checked his suitcase to be sure. He thoroughly investigated each envelope and searched everything with his palms. He also went through the Holy Scriptures and church times roughly. Everything was fine, but there was one item in the suitcase that had him totally confused.
“Do you mind telling me why you’ve brought this, sir?” He held up a smallish semi-inflated rubber ring, such as a young child with a waist of about twelve inches might have struggled into. “You thinking of going for a swim, sir?”
McLeery’s hitherto amiable demeanour was slightly ruffled by this tasteless little pleasantry, and he answered Jackson somewhat sourly. “If ye must know, I suffer from haemorrhoids, and when I’m sitting down for any length o’ time —”
“Very sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to, er…” The embarrassment was still reddening Jackson’s cheeks when he found the paper-knife at the bottom of the case. “I think I’d better keep this though, if you don’t mind, that is, sir.”
- haemorrhoids: a swollen vein or a group of veins
- Semi inflated: half filled with air
- Hitherto: earlier, previous
- Amiable: friendly
- Demeanour: manner, attitude
- ruffled: disarrange
- Pleasantry: joke, a stuff to laugh
- Embarrass: unease, awkward
Jackson asked as to why Mc Leery had brought a half-filled rubber ring. A rubber ring that was too small for a small child with a twelve-inch waist. He inquired as to whether he intended to go swimming. Mc leery, who had previously appeared to be very friendly, had suddenly changed due to the tasteless joke he had made. So he told him that he has haemorrhoids and that when he has to sit for a long period of time, he leaves his sentence incomplete. Jackson felt awkward, but he felt bad for asking him all those questions. He later discovered the paper knife in the suitcase and expressed his hope that Mc Leery would not mind if he kept it with him.
It was 9.18 a.m. before the Governor heard their voices again, and it was clear that the examination was going to be more than a little late in getting under way.
MCLEERY: “Ye’ve got a watch?”
EVANS: “Yes, sir.”
MCLEERY: “I’ll be telling ye when to start, and again when ye’ve five minutes left. A’ right?”
MCLEERY: “There’s plenty more o’ this writing paper should ye need it.”
MCLEERY: “Now. Write the name of the paper, 021-1, in the top left-hand corner.”
MCLEERY: “In the top right-hand corner write your index number-313. And in the box just below that, write your centre number-271. A’ right?”
Silence. 9.20 a.m.
MCLEERY: “I’m now going to — ”
EVANS: “E’s not goin’ to stay ’ere, is ’e?”
MCLEERY: “I don’t know about that. I — ”
STEPHENS: “Mr Jackson’s given me strict instructions to — ”
EVANS: “How am I suppose to concentrate on my exam… with someone breathin’ down my neck? Christ! Sorry, sir, I didn’t mean — ”
The Governor reached for the phone. “Jackson? Ah, good. Get Stephens out of that cell, will you? I think we’re perhaps overdoing things.”
“As you wish, sir.”
When Governor heard their voices again at 9.18 a.m., it was clear that the exam would begin a little later.
Mcleery queried about Evans' watch. Yes, he said. He stated that he will tell him when to begin and again when only five minutes remain. Evans remained silent. Mcleery instructed him on where to write the index number, centre number, and so on. He followed it quietly. Mcleery was about to say "start." Evans cut him off and looked at Stephens. Stephens answered that Jackson had ordered him to stay for the exam. Evans complained that he would be unable to concentrate if someone was constantly watching him like this. He felt bad about it as well. Governor called Jackson and told him to get Stephens out of the cell because he thought they were overdoing it.
The Governor heard the exchanges in the cell, heard the door clanged once more, and heard McLeery announce that the examination had begun at last.
It was 9.25 a.m.; and there was a great calm.
At 9.40 a.m. the Examinations Board rang through, and the Assistant Secretary with special responsibility for modern languages asked to speak to the Governor. The examination had already started, no doubt? Ah, a quarter of an hour ago. Yes. Well, there was a correction slip which some fool had forgotten to place in the examination package. Very brief. “Could the Governor please…?
“Yes, of course. I’ll put you straight through to Mr Jackson in D Wing. Hold the line a minute.”
The governor heared Stephens and Jackson's phone conversation. He could hear the door closing and McLeery announcing the start of the exam.
It was 9.25 a.m., and everything was quiet.
The Assistant Secretary for Modern Languages was summoned from the examination board at 9:40 a.m. to speak with the Governor. The examination had already begun about a quarter-hour before. He told him that some idiot had failed to include the correction slip in the examination package. He then tried to seek assistance from the Governor. The receiver assures him of assistance by connecting the call directly to Mr. Jackson in D wing.
Was this the sort of thing the Governor had feared? Was the phone call a fake? Some signal? Some secret message…? But he could check on that immediately. He dialled the number of the Examinations Board, but heard only the staccato bleeps of a line engaged. But then the line was engaged, wasn’t it? Yes. Not very intelligent, that…
Two minutes later he heard some whispered communications in the cell, and then McLeery’s broad Scots voice:
“Will ye please stop writing a wee while, Mr Evans, and listen carefully. Candidates offering German, 021-1, should note the following correction. ‘On page three, line fifteen, the fourth word should read goldenen, not, goldene; and the whole phrase will therefore read zum goldenen Lowen, not zum goldene Lowen.’ I will repeat that…”
- Staccato: a short musical note
- Scots: another term for scottish
Could this be the source of his fear? The governor pondered. He had a series of thoughts about the call being a fake, a call used to share some signal or a secret message. He then cross-checked it by dialling the Examination Board's number. He heard the continuous beep that one hears when the phone is ringing. After a two-minute pause, he heard a whisper. After a while, he heard McLeery's heavy Scottish voice instructing the Evans. He asked him to stop writing for a moment and to turn to page three. He gave him instructions to correct the fourth word in the fifteenth line.
The Governor listened and smiled. He had taken German in the sixth form himself, and he remembered all about the agreements of adjectives. And so did McLeery,
by the sound of things, for the minister’s pronunciation was most impressive. But what about Evans? He probably didn’t know what an adjective was.
The phone rang again. The Magistrates’ Court. They needed a prison van and a couple of prison officers. Remand case. And within two minutes the Governor was wondering whether that could be a hoax. He told himself not to be so silly. His imagination was beginning to run riot.
- Magistrate: civil officer who administers law
- hoax: prank
The Governor listened intently and smiled because he had studied German in sixth grade. He remembered the adjectives, and Mc Leery did as well.
The Governor was impressed by the minister's pronunciation of the words. However, he believed that Evans was less likely to be aware of the adjectives.
Meanwhile, he received a call from the Magistrate's (civil officer in charge of enforcing the law) court. As there was a remanded case, a prison van and some officers were required. Within two minutes, the Governor assumed it was a fake call. But then he realised he was overthinking things. His imagination had gotten out of control.
For the first quarter of an hour Stephens had dutifully peered through the peep-hole at intervals of one minute or so; and after that, every two minutes. At 10.45 a.m. everything was still all right as he looked through the peephole once more. It took four or five seconds — no more. What was the point? It was always more or less the same. Evans, his pen between his lips, sat staring straight in front of him towards the door, seeking — it seemed — some sorely needed inspiration from somewhere. And opposite him McLeery, seated slightly askew from the table now: his face in semi-profile; his hair (as Stephens had noticed earlier) amateurishly clipped pretty closely to the scalp; his eyes behind the pebble lenses peering short-sightedly at The Church Times; his right index finger hooked beneath the narrow clerical collar; and the fingers of the left hand, the nails meticulously manicured, slowly stroking the short black beard.
- Stare: gaze
- Askew: tilted, angled
- Semi profile: partly turned
- Amateurish: beginner
- Meticulously: carefully
- Manicured: well cared, tidy
Stephens had looked into the cell through the peephole every one minute for the first fifteen minutes, then every two minutes. When he looked through the hole at 10.45 a.m., everything appeared normal. There was no change, and everything remained the same as before. Evans was constantly chewing his pen and staring out the window. Mc leery was always seated with his chair slightly tilted to one side and his face partially turned. Stephens had noticed his hair was cut very short near the scalp earlier. His first finger was under his collar, and he was reading the church times through his spectacles. The left hand's fingers were perfectly manicured. He gently caressed his black beard.
At 10.50 a.m. the receiver crackled to life and the Governor realised he’d almost forgotten Evans for a few minutes.
EVANS: “Please, sir!” (A whisper)
EVANS: “Please, sir!” (Louder)
EVANS: “Would you mind if I put a blanket round me shoulders, sir? It’s a bit parky in ’ere, isn’t it?”
EVANS: “There’s one on me bunk ’ere, sir.”
MCLEERY: “Be quick about it.”
- crackled:crack, sizzle
- parky: cold
The phone rang at 10.50 a.m., and the Governor realised that he had almost forgotten about Evans. He then heard Evans ask the supervisor for permission to wrap a blanket around his shoulder because he was cold there. Mc Leery gave him permission.
At 10.51 a.m. Stephens was more than a little surprised to see a grey regulation blanket draped round Evans’s shoulders, and he frowned slightly and looked at the examinee more closely. But Evans, the pen still between his teeth, was staring just as vacantly as before. Blankly beneath a blanket… Should Stephens report the slight irregularity? Anything at all fishy, hadn’t Jackson said? He looked through the peep-hole once again, and even as he did so Evans pulled the dirty blanket more closely to himself. Was he planning a sudden batman leap to suffocate McLeery in the blanket? Don’t be daft! There was never any sun on this side of the prison; no heating, either, during the summer months, and it could get quite chilly in some of the cells. Stephens decided to revert to his earlier every minute observation.
At 11.20 a.m. the receiver once more crackled across the silence of the Governor’s office, and McLeery informed Evans that only five minutes remained. The examination was almost over now, but something still gnawed away quietly in the Governor’s mind. He reached for the phone once more.
- Frowned: make a face
- fishy: doubtful thing
- suffocate: breathless
- Revert: return to
Stephens opened the peep hole at 10.51 a.m. and was surprised to see Evans sitting with a blanket on his shoulders. It seemed strange to him, and he considered reporting Jackson for this new change. He looked at him again and noticed Evans pulling the dirty blanket closer to himself. Stephens was beginning to have doubts about Evans. He even considered harming Mc Leery by suffocating him with his blanket. But then he reminded himself that he shouldn't act so foolishly because there is no sun on this side of the prison, even in the summer.
It is normal for the cell to become cold. So he decided to resume his minute checks through the peep hole. The governor's phone rang again at 11.20 a.m. Meanwhile, Mc leery told Evans that the exam had only five minutes to be completed. Governor was still unsure about something, but he went to take the call.
At 11.22 a.m. Jackson shouted along the corridor to Stephens. The Governor wanted to speak with him —
“Hurry, man!” Stephens picked up the phone apprehensively and listened to the rapidly spoken orders. Stephens himself was to accompany McLeery to the main prison gates.
Understood? Stephens personally was to make absolutely sure that the door was locked on Evans after McLeery had left the cell. Understood?
At 11.25 a.m. the Governor heard the final exchanges.
- Apprehensive: worried, anxious
- Absolutely: completely
At 11:22 a.m., Jackson shouted to Stephens that the Governor wanted to talk with him. He dashed up and listened intently to everything that was said to him. It was his responsibility to accompany Mc Leery to the prison's main gate. When Mc Leery leaves Evans' cell, Stephens must be absolutely confident that it is properly locked. The governor heard the final talks between Evans and Mc Leery at 11:25 a.m.
MCLEERY: “Stop writing, please.”
MCLEERY: “Put your sheets in order and see they’re correctly
Scraping of chairs and tables.
EVANS: “Thank you very much, sir.”
MCLEERY: “A’ right, was it?”
EVANS: “Not too bad.”
MCLEERY: “Good… Mr Stephens!” (Very loud)
The Governor heard the door clang for the last time. The examination was over.
“How did he get on, do you think?” asked Stephens as he walked beside McLeery to the main gates.
“Och. I canna think he’s distinguished himself, I’m afraid.” His Scots accent seemed broader than ever, and his long black overcoat, reaching almost to his knees, fostered the illusion that he had suddenly
- Scraping:the sound of an action of rubbing
- Distinguished: differentiate
- Foster: support
- Illusion: mirage, imagination
Mc Leery asked Evans to stop writing. He also instructed him to arrange his sheets in the correct order. Then there was the sound of chairs moving. Mc Leery was thanked by Evans. He queried about the status of his exam. Evans responded that it wasn't so bad. He then called Mr. Stephens'. The Governor heard the final slam of the door. The exam was finished. Stephen asked as to how Evans's exam went. Mc Leery stated that he did not think so. His Scottish accent seemed different from the previous one, and his overcoat was now reaching close to his knees, giving the impression that he had suddenly slimmed down.
Stephens felt pleased that the Governor had asked him, and not Jackson, to see McLeery off the premises, and all in all the morning had gone pretty well. But something stopped him from making his way directly to the canteen for a belated cup of coffee. He wanted to take just one last look at Evans. It was like a programme he’d seen on TV — about a woman who could never really convince herself that she’d locked the front door when she’d gone to bed: often she’d got up twelve, fifteen, sometimes twenty times to check the bolts.
- Belated:late, overdue
- Convince: assure
Stephens was pleased that the Governor chose him over Jackson to accompany Mc Leery out of the facility. Everything went fine today, he thought. He stopped him from going to the canteen for a cup of coffee that was overdue. He wished to see Evans one more time. It reminded him of a TV show where the lady is never sure if she has locked the door before going to bed and gets up twelve, fifteen, or even twenty times to check the bolts.
He re-entered D Wing, made his way along to Evans’s cell, and opened the peep-hole once more. Oh, no! CHRIST, NO! There, sprawled back in Evans’s chair was a man (for a semi second Stephens thought it must be Evans), a grey regulation blanket slipping from his shoulders, the front of his closely cropped, irregularly tufted hair awash with fierce red blood which had dripped already through the small black beard, and was even now spreading horribly over the white clerical collar and down into the black clerical front.
Stephens shouted wildly for Jackson: and the words appeared to penetrate the curtain of blood that veiled McLeery’s ears, for the minister’s hand felt feebly for a handkerchief from his pocket, and held it to his bleeding head, the blood seeping slowly through the white linen. He gave a long low moan, and tried to speak. But his voice trailed away, and by the time Jackson had arrived and dispatched Stephens to ring the police and the ambulance, the handkerchief was a sticky, squelchy wodge of cloth.
- Sprawl:lie back
- Awash:flooded, covered
- Veiled: face covering
- Seeping: flowing
- Moan: cry
- Squelchy: a soft sucking sound made when pressure is applied to liquid or mud
Stephens returned to the D wing and looked through the peephole in Evans' cell. When he looked inside through it, he exclaimed, "Oh Christ!" because he was shocked by what he saw. He thought it was Stephens on his chair for a few seconds, but it wasn't. The clergyman was lying. His hair was red with blood. The blood was pouring down his beard, collar, and then onto his black overcoat.
Stephens shouted for Jackson so loudly that McLeery, whose ear was filled with blood, could hear it. The churchman was actively looking for a hanky to stop the blood from flowing from his head. The hanky became swamped with blood. He cried out in pain. He tried to speak but was unable to do so. The hankey had become completely soaked in blood by the time Jackson arrived and ordered Stephens to call the police and an ambulance, and it now made a soft sucking sound when pressure was applied to it.
McLeery slowly raised himself, his face twisted tightly with pain. “Dinna worry about the ambulance, man! I’m a’ right… I’m a’ right… Get the police! I know…I know where… he…” He closed his eyes and another drip of blood splashed like a huge red raindrop on the wooden floor. His hand felt along the table, found the German question paper, and grasped it tightly in his bloodstained hand. “Get the Governor! I know… I know where Evans…”
Almost immediately sirens were sounding, prison officers barked orders, puzzled prisoners pushed their way along the corridors, doors were banged and bolted, and phones were ringing everywhere. And within a minute McLeery, with Jackson and Stephens supporting him on
either side, his face now streaked and caked with drying blood, was greeted in the prison yard by the Governor, perplexed and grim.
- Splash: A dashing sound of liquid
- Grasp: hold, grip
- immense: massive, enormous
- caked; coated
- Perplexed: puzzled
Mc Leery stands up and tells them not to worry about him because he is fine. He asked for the Governor because he knew where Evans had gone. The blood was splashing from his head as he struggled to pick up the German exam paper. There was a massive sound of sirens all of a sudden. Officers were issuing orders, doors were opening and closing, and phones were ringing. Stephens and Jackson supported Mc Leery's to Governor's office. When the governor greeted him in the prison yard, his face was covered in dry blood. The governor was confused.
“We must get you to hospital immediately. I just don’t — ”
“Ye’ve called the police?”
“Yes, yes. They’re on their way. But — ”
“I’m a’ right. I’m a’ right. Look! Look here!” Awkwardly he opened the German question paper and thrust it before the Governor’s face. “It’s there! D’ye see what I mean?”
The Governor looked down and realised what McLeery was trying to tell him. A photocopied sheet had been carefully and cleverly superimposed over the last (originally blank) page of the question paper.
“Ye see what they’ve done, Governor. Ye see…” His voice trailed off again, as the Governor, dredging the layers of long neglected learning, willed himself to translate the German text before him:
- Awkward: uneasy
- Thrust: push
- Superimpose: place over another
- Dredge: clear
The Governor wanted to take McLeery to the hospital. However, he insisted on calling the cops. He then took out the German question paper and handed it to the Governor. He wanted to show something significant to him. The Governor noticed that a photocopied sheet had been cleverly laid on the question paper's blank space. The Governor tried to remember what he had learned in his German classes. He agreed to translate the text.
Sie sollen dem schon verabredeten Plan genau folgen. Der wichtige Zeitpunkt ist drei Minuten vor Ende des Examens… “You must follow the plan already somethinged. The vital point in time is three minutes before the end of the examination but something something — something something… Don’t hit him too hard — remember, he’s a minister! And don’t overdo the Scots accent when…”
A fast-approaching siren wailed to its crescendo, the great doors of the prison yard were pushed back, and a white police car squealed to a jerky halt beside them.
Detective Superintendent Carter swung himself out of the passenger seat and saluted the Governor. “What the hell’s happening, sir?” And, turning to McLeery: “Christ! Who’s hit him?”
- Crescendo: the loudest point of a sound
- Squeal: cry, scream
- Swung: wave
- Detective: investigator
- Superintendent: supervisor, manager
The Governor made an attempt to translate it. He was only able to translate a portion of it. Everything was supposed to go according to plan. The important thing was that he had only three minutes before the exam ended to complete this task. He was told to hit McLeery on the head and was cautioned not to overdo his Scottish accent. Meanwhile, the sound of a fast-moving siren reached its peak, and a white police car entered the yard. Detective Superintendent Carter saluted the Governor as he waved from his car. He inquired as to what had occurred and appeared concerned when he asked as to who had hit the churchman.
But McLeery cut across whatever explanation the Governor might have given. “Elsfield Way, officer! I know where Evans…” He was breathing heavily, and leaned for support against the side of the car, where the imprint of his hand was left in tarnished crimson.
In bewilderment, Carter looked to the Governor for guidance. “What — ?”
“Take him with you, if you think he’ll be all right. He’s the only one who seems to know what’s happening.
Carter opened the back door and helped McLeery inside; and within a few seconds the car leaped away in a spurt of gravel.
- Tarnished: stained
- Crimson: a rich red color turning purple
- Bewilderment: confusion
- leap: jump over
- Gravel: stones
Mc Leery interjects, stating that Evans had gone to Elsfield. When he said this, he was breathing heavily. Carter appeared confused and tried to seek clarification from the governor. The governor told him to take him because he was the only one who knew where Evans had gone. Carter assisted McLeery in getting inside, and the car sprayed the small stones behind it in a matter of seconds. This means that the car sped away from the place.
“Elsfield Way”, McLeery had said; and there it was staring up at the Governor from the last few lines of the German text: “From Elsfield Way drive to the Headington roundabout, where…” Yes, of course. The Examinations Board was in Elsfield Way, and someone from the Board must have been involved in the escape plan from the very beginning: the question paper itself, the correction slip…
The Governor turned to Jackson and Stephens. “I don’t need to tell you what’s happened, do I?” His voice sounded almost calm in its scathing contempt.
“And which one of you two morons was it who took Evans for a nice little walk to the main gates and waved him bye-bye?”
“It was me, sir,” stammered
Stephens. “Just like you told me, sir. I could have sworn — ”
“What? Just like I told you, you say?
What the hell — ?”
“When you rang, sir, and told me to — ”
“When was that?” The Governor’s voice was a whiplash now.
“You know, sir. About twenty past eleven just before — ”
“You blithering idiot, man! It wasn’t me who rang you. Don’t you realise — ” But what was the use? He had used the telephone at that time, but only to try (unsuccessfully, once more) to get through to the Examinations Board.
- Scathing contempt: severe disrespect
- Stammer: mumble
- Whiplash: sudden movement
- Blither: long-winded talk with no real substance
The Governor recalled McLeery saying Elsfield way. He started reading the text and discovered that it was a path to the examination board. He then came to the conclusion that someone on the examination board had assisted him. He then turned to Jackson and Stephens and scolded them in an insulting manner for assisting Evans in walking out of the prison.
Stephens mumbled that he had done it because the Governor had ordered him to. Governor was surprised to hear this and stated that he had never done anything like this before. Stephens tells him what time he called. The Governor chastised them once more for failing to recognise that the call was a fake. He then realised it was pointless because he was the one who had contacted the examination board with a failed attempt.
He shook his head in growing despair and turned on the senior prison officer. “As for you, Jackson! How long have you been pretending you’ve got a brain, eh? Well, I’ll tell you something, Jackson. Your skull’s empty. Absolutely empty!” It was Jackson who had spent two hours in Evans’s cell the previous evening; and it was Jackson who had confidently reported that there was nothing hidden away there — nothing at all. And yet Evans had somehow managed to conceal not only a false beard, a pair of spectacles, a dog collar and all the rest of his clerical paraphernalia, but also some sort of weapon with which he’d given McLeery such a terrible blow across the head. Aurrgh!
- Despair: hopelessness
- Conceal: hide
- Paraphernalia: things, stuff
The Governor was losing hope. He chastised senior prison officer Jackson for his overconfidence in his abilities. He'd spent two hours checking Evans's cell and declared that everything was fine. Evans, on the other hand, was able to hide a false beard, spectacles, and other clerical items inside his cell. He also had a weapon, which he had used to inflict such serious injury on McLeery.
A prison van backed alongside, but the Governor made no immediate move. He looked down again at the last line of the German: “…to the Headington roundabout, where you go straight over and make your way to…to Neugraben.” “Neugraben”? Where on earth — ? “New” something. “Newgrave”? Never heard of it: There was a “Wargrave” somewhere near Reading, but… No, it was probably a code word, or — And then it hit him. Newbury! God, yes! Newbury was a pretty big sort of place but —
He rapped out his orders to the driver. “St Aldates Police Station, and step on it! Take Jackson and Stephens here, and when you get there ask for Bell. Chief Inspector Bell. Got that?”
The prison van reached, but the Governor remained motionless. He looked down at the German text once more, attempting to decode it. The written word meant "new grave." He worked hard to find the place and eventually decoded it to be Newbury. He'd tracked down the location where Evans had managed to escape. He then ordered the driver to take Evans and Stephens to the St Aldates Police Station. He also told them to ask for Chief Inspector Bell when they arrived at the police station.
He leaped the stairs to his office three at a time, got Bell on the phone immediately, and put the facts before him.
“We’ll get him, sir,” said Bell. “We’ll get him, with a bit o’luck.”
The Governor sat back, and lit a cigarette. Ye gods! What a beautifully laid plan it had all been! What a clever fellow Evans was! Careless leaving that question paper behind; but then, they all made their mistakes somewhere along the line. Well, almost all of them. And that’s why very very shortly Mr clever-clever Evans would be back inside doing his once more.
The governor dashed up the stairs to his office and called up Bel. He went over the entire situation with him. Bell stated that he will catch him, but only with luck. While lighting his cigarette, the Governor sat in his chair and began to think. He thought it was a good idea, but Evans was careless to leave the question paper behind. He then admitted that everyone makes mistakes, including Evans, and reassured him that Evans' mistake would land him back in prison.
The phone on his desk erupted in a strident burst, and Superintendent Carter informed him that McLeery had spotted Evans driving off along Elsfield Way; they’d got the number of the car all right and had given chase immediately, but had lost him at the Headington roundabout; he must have doubled back into the city.
“No,” said the Governor quietly. “No, he’s on his way to Newbury.” He explained his reasons for believing so, and left it at that. It was a police job now — not his. He was just another good-for-a-giggle, gullible governor, that was all.
“By the way, Carter. I hope you managed to get McLeery to the hospital all right?”
- Erupt: flare up
- Good for a giggle: for a laugh
- Gullible: over trustful
The phone rang loudly on his desk once more. McLeery had spotted him in a car on Elsfield Way, according to Carter. They chased him because they had written down his phone number. But he was soon lost at the Headington roundabout. Evans was on his way to Newbury, according to Governor. He then explained why he believes he is on his way to Newbury and then left it all to the police, stating that his job was done. He'd already become a laughingstock among his peers for being an overly trusting person. He then inquired as to whether Mc Leery had been taken to the hospital.
“Yes. He’s in the Radcliffe now. Really groggy, he was, when we got to the Examination offices, and they rang for the ambulance from there.”
The Governor rang the Radcliffe a few minutes later and asked for the accident department.
“McLeery, you say?”
“Yes. He’s a parson.”
“I don’t think there’s anyone — ”
“Yes, there is. You’ll find one of your ambulances picked him up from Elsfield Way about — ”
“Oh, that. Yes, we sent an ambulance all right, but when we got there, the fellow had gone. No one seemed to know where he was. Just vanished! Not a sign — ”
- Parson: churchman
Carter stated that he was taken to Radcliffe Hospital. He also told him that when they took McLeery to the examination office, he had become very weak. So they called an ambulance from there. The governor called up the hospital to inquire about the injured parson. They responded that they had sent an ambulance to bring the patient, but there was no one there.
But the Governor was no longer listening, and the truth seemed to hit him with an almost physical impact somewhere in the back of his neck.
A quarter of an hour later they found the Reverend S. McLeery, securely bound and gagged, in his study in Broad Street. He’d been there, he said, since 8.15 a.m., when two men had called and…
Enquiries in Newbury throughout the afternoon produced nothing. Nothing at all. And by tea-time everyone in the prison knew what had happened. It had not been Evans, impersonating McLeery, who had walked out; it had been Evans, impersonating McLeery, who had stayed in.
- bound: tied up
- Gagged: stopped
- Impersonating: pretend to be another person
When the Governor heard of the parson's disappearance, he received no further information from the other side. He had grasped the entire truth and was feeling a little uneasy in his neck. After a fifteen-minute wait, they found the real Reverend Mc Leery, who had been imprisoned by two men in his study on Broad Street since 8.15 a.m. The search in Newbury yielded no results. It was obvious that the man led by Stephens to the prison door was not Evans, who had pretended to be Mc Leery. But it was Evans who remained inside the cell and pretended to be McLeery, who was lying in a pool of blood.
The fish and chips were delicious, and after a gentle stroll round the centre of Chipping Norton, Evans decided to return to the hotel and have an early night. A smart new hat concealed the wreckage of his closely cropped hair, and he kept it on as he walked up to the reception desk of the Golden Lion. It would take a good while for his hair to regain its former glories — but what the hell did that matter. He was out again, wasn’t he? A bit of bad luck, that, when Jackson had pinched his scissors, for it had meant a long and tricky operation with his only razor blade the previous night. Ah! But he’d had his good luck, too. Just think! If Jackson had made him take his bobble hat off! Phew! That really had been a close call. Still, old Jackson wasn’t such a bad fellow…
- stroll: walk
- wreckage: remains
- Bobble: small ball attached to a hat
As a result, the story has been moved up to Evans. He returns to his hotel room to sleep early after eating delicious fish and chips and taking a short walk near chipping Norton. He was wearing a new hat that cleverly hidden his short hair, which appeared to be the remains of hair. He wore it on his head until he arrived at the Golden Lion hotel's reception. He then recalled Jackson taking away his scissors the night before, forcing him to cut his hair with a razor blade. That was quite a bad luck. But then he thought his good fortune when Jackson asked him to remove his hat and how he managed to prevent him from doing so. He then came to the conclusion that old Jackson wasn't all that bad.
One of the worst things — funny, really! — had been the beard. He’d always been allergic to sticking plaster, and even now his chin was irritatingly sore and red.
The receptionist wasn’t the same girl who’d booked him in, but the change was definitely for the better. As he collected his key, he gave her his best smile, told her he wouldn’t be bothering with breakfast, ordered the Daily Express, and asked for an early-morning call at 6.45 a.m. Tomorrow was going to be another busy day.
- Allergic: sensitive
- Bother: concerned about
Using a fake beard was one of the worst things that seemed funny to him. He was sensitive to the materials that stuck to him. But he had to use it to hold up his beard. It was now irritating him because it had reddened his chin and caused him pain. When he arrived at the reception desk. He found that it was not the same girl who had been present at the time of his booking. But he thought the change was beneficial. He then told her that he didn't care about breakfast in the morning, ordered a newspaper called the Daily Express, and asked her to wake him up at 6:45 a.m. because tomorrow was another busy day for him.
He whistled softly to himself as he walked up the broad stairs… He’d sort of liked the idea of being dressed up as a minister dog collar and everything. Yes, it had been a jolly good idea for “McLeery’ to wear two black fronts, two collars. But that top collar! Phew! It had kept on slipping off the back stud; and there’d been that one panicky moment when “McLeery’ had only just got his hand up to his neck in time to stop the collars springing apart before Stephens… Ah! They’d got that little problem worked out all right, though: a pen stuck in the mouth whenever the evil eye had appeared at the peep-hole. Easy! But all that fiddling about under the blanket with the black front and the stud at the back of the collar — that had been far more difficult than they’d ever bargained for… Everything else had gone beautifully smoothly, though. In the car he’d found everything they’d promised him: soap and water, clothes, the map — yes, the map, of course. The Ordnance Survey Map of Oxfordshire… He’d got some good friends; some very clever friends. Christ, ah!
- Panic: fear, alarm
- Fiddling:petty annoying thing
- Bargain: here thought or planned for
He was whistling as he climbed the wide stairwell. Evans had become deeply involved in his thoughts once more. He enjoyed dressing up as a minister, as well as wearing the dog collar and other accessories. Mc Leery was wearing two collars and two fronts, which he thought was a good idea. The top collar, on the other hand, kept slipping off. But there was a terrifying moment when Mc Leery tried to stop his collar from falling down by putting his finger in front of Stephens' face. They had solved the problem by always keeping a pen in Stephens' mouth whenever he peered inside. There was a minor annoyance while he was trying to wear the black front and the stud at the back collar. That was challenging for him. Everything else went smoothly. He got everything they had promised him in the car. A map, soap, and water Oxfordshire's ordinance survey map. He thought he had some clever and good friends.
He unlocked his bedroom door and closed it quietly behind him — and then stood frozen to the spot, like a man who has just caught a glimpse of the Gorgon.
Sitting on the narrow bed was the very last man in the world that Evans had expected — or wanted — to see.
“It’s not worth trying anything,” said the Governor quietly, as Evans’s eyes darted desperately around the room. “I’ve got men all round the place.” (Well, there were only two, really: but Evans needn’t know that.) He let the words sink in. “Women, too. Didn’t you think the blonde girl in reception was rather sweet?”
- Glimpse: quick look
- Gorgon: fierce
- Darted: moved quickly
- Desperately: hopeless
Evans unlocked his room, and when he turned back after closing the door, he was surprised to see someone in it. He stood motionless. He took a quick glance at the tough-looking man he hadn't expected to see in his room. It had to be the Governor. Evans looked around in vain. The governor tells him that it is pointless because he has his men all around him. He was also shocked by the thought of the blonde girl at the reception who had been extra nice to him.
Evans was visibly shaken. He sat down slowly in the only chair the small room could offer, and held his head between his hands. For several minutes there was utter silence.
Finally, he spoke. “It was that bloody correction slip, I s’pose.”
“We-ell” (the Governor failed to mask the deep satisfaction in his voice) “there are a few people who know a little German.”
Slowly, very slowly, Evans relaxed. He was beaten — and he knew it. He sat up at last, and managed to smile ruefully. “You know, it wasn’t really a mistake. You see, we ‘adn’t been able to fix up any ‘otel, but we could’ve worked that some other way. No. The really important thing was for the phone to ring just before the exam finished — to get everyone out of the way for a couple of minutes. So we ‘ad to know exactly when the exam started, didn’t we?”
- Shaken: disturbed
- Ruefully: sorrow
Evans appeared disturbed. For a few moments, he held his head in his hands, and there was silence. Evans then stated that he guessed it was a correction slip. The Governor tells him that there are some people who are fluent in German. Evans then calmed down and explained that, as you can see, it was not a genuine mistake. The error was that they were unable to make a decision about the hotel, which they could have worked on in another way. He asserted that they needed to know the exact time the paper began so that they could make a decision exactly before the end of the exam in order to get a clear way for Mc Leery.
“And, like a fool, I presented you with that little piece of information on a plate.”
“Well, somebody did. So, you see, sir, that correction slip killed two little birds with a single stone, didn’t it?
The name of the ‘otel for me, and the exact time the exam started, er, for, er…”
The Governor nodded. “It’s a pretty common word.”
“Good job it is pretty common, sir, or I’d never ‘ave known where to come to, would I?”
“Nice name, though: zum goldenen Lowen.”
“How did you know which Golden Lion it was? There’s
‘undreds of ‘em.”
“Same as you, Evans. Index number 313; Centre number 271. Remember? Six figures? And if you take an Ordnance Survey Map for Oxfordshire, you find that the six-figure reference 313/271 lands you bang in the middle of Chipping Norton.”
The Governor admitted that he had given him the information in foolishly. Evans stated that the correction slip provided him with both the name of the hotel and the time of the exam, basically killed two birds with one stone. The governor agreed. Evans then queried as to how he knew which Golden Lion hotel he was staying in, given that there were hundreds of them. Governor stated that the index numbers 313 and 271 on the survey map for Oxfordshire were the six figure references that landed us in the middle of Chipping Norton.
“Yea, you’re right. Huh! We’d ‘oped you’d run off to
“Well, that’s something, I s’pose.”
“That question paper, Evans. Could you really understand all that German? I could hardly — ”
“Nah! Course I couldn’t. I knew roughly what it was all about, but we just ‘oped it’d throw a few spanners in the works — you know, sort of muddle everybody a bit.’
The Governor stood up. “Tell me one thing before we go. How on earth did you get all that blood to pour over your head?”
Evans suddenly looked a little happier. “Clever, sir. Very clever, that was — ‘ow to get a couple o’ pints of blood into a cell, eh? When there’s none there to start off with, and when, er, and when the “invigilator”, shall we say, gets, searched before ‘e comes in. Yes, sir. You can well ask about that, and I dunno if I ought to tell you. After all, I might want to use that particular — ”
- Spanner: a sharp tool
- Muddle: confuse, jumble
- Pints:unit of liquid
Evans stated that he is right, but we assumed that you would go to Newbury. Governor confirmed that we had. He asks of Evans whether he was able to fully understand the question paper, as the Governor was unable to do so. Evans replied that he was not, but we did it to confuse everyone. The governor then stood up and asked to know where he got the blood to pour on his head. Evans was pleased to hear this and thought it was a clever thing to bring blood into the cell. He then revealed that when the invigilator was being searched prior to the exam, he stopped telling him anything so that he could use it in the future as well.
“Anything to do with a little rubber ring for piles,
Evans grinned feebly. “Clever, though, wasn’t it?”
“Must have been a tricky job sticking a couple of pints
“Nah! You’ve got it wrong, sir. No problem about that.”
“Nah! It’s the clotting, you see. That’s the big trouble. We got the blood easy enough. Pig’s blood, it was — from the slaughter’ouse in Kidlington. But to stop it clotting you’ve got to mix yer actual blood” (Evans took a breath)
“with one tenth of its own volume of 3.8 per cent trisodium citrate! Didn’t know that, did you, sir?”
The Governor shook his head in a token of reluctant admiration. “We learn something new every day, they tell me. Come on, m’lad.”
Evans made no show of resistance, and side by side the two men walked slowly down the stairs.
- Clotting: harden
- Reluctant: unwilling
- resist: withstand
The governor guessed it was a pile of rubber rings. Evans gave a weak smile and said it was a clever thing to do. The Governor stated that it was a tough task, which Evans felt was not so tough. Wasn't it, the governor wondered? Evans stated that the main issue was keeping it from hardening. He tells him that they easily obtained pig blood from a meat shop in Kidlington and that one must mix his own blood to prevent it from hardening. Evans took a break and explained that he mixed 3.8 percent trisodium citerate into the solution to keep it from clotting. Governor shook his head, refusing to praise him. He stated that they are constantly learning new things. He then walked down the stairs with Evans by his side.
“Tell me, Evans. How did you manage to plan all this business? You’ve had no visitors — I’ve seen to that. You’ve had no letters — ”
“I’ve got lots of friends, though.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Me German teacher, for a start.”
“You mean — ? But he was from the Technical College.”
“Was ‘e?’ Evans was almost enjoying it all now. “Ever
check up on ‘im, sir?”
“God Almighty! There’s far more going on than I — ”
“Always will be, sir.”
“Everything ready?” asked the Governor as they stood by the reception desk.
“The van’s out the front, sir,” said the pretty blonde receptionist. Evans winked at her; and she winked back at him. It almost made his day.
A silent prison officer handcuffed the recaptured Evans, and together the two men clambered awkwardly into the back seat of the prison van.
“See you soon, Evans.” It was almost as if the Governor were saying farewell to an old friend after a cocktail party.
“Cheerio, sir. I, er, I was just wonderin’. I know your
German’s pretty good, sir, but do you know any more o’ these modern languages?”
“Not very well. Why?”
- Handcuffed; shackled
- awkward: unease
Governor asked as to how he planned this, noting that he had no visitors or letters for him. He replied that he had a large number of friends. His German teacher was also a friend. Surprisingly, the governor stated that the teacher was from a technical college. Evans questioned whether or not he had ever confirmed it. The receptionist informed us that the van had arrived. Evans and the receptionist exchanged winks. The prison officer then shackled Evans and they both climbed into the van. As he bid him farewell, the governor said bye in a roundabout way. Evans asked as to whether he was fluent in any other languages. The governor asked as to the reason for this.
Evans settled himself comfortably on the back seat, and grinned happily. ‘Nothin’, really. I just ‘happened to notice that you’ve got some O-level Italian classes comin’ up next September, that’s all.’
“Perhaps you won’t be with us next September, Evans.”
James Roderick Evans appeared to ponder the Governor’s words deeply. “No. P’r’aps I won’t,” he said.
As the prison van turned right from Chipping Norton on to the Oxford road, the hitherto silent prison officer unlocked the handcuffs and leaned forward towards the driver, “For Christ’s sake get a move on! It won’t take ‘em long to find out —’
“Where do ye suggest we make for?” asked the driver, in a broad Scots accent..
“What about Newbury?” suggested Evans.
Evans sat back in his seat and happily replied that he asked because he learned that there will be O-level Italian classes starting next September. He was assured by the Governor that he would not be with them by September. Evans paused for a moment before responding, "Perhaps." The silent prison officer removed his handcuffs and told the driver to drive fast as the van turned right from Chipping Norton onto the Oxford road. In his scottish accent, the driver asked as to where we should go. Evans suggested them to go to Newbury. Evans was able to escape once more with the assistance of his friends, who were now acting as the prison officer and the driver.
Norman Colin Dexter (29 September 1930 – 21 March 2017) was an English crime writer best known for his Inspector Morse series of novels, which were published between 1975 and 1999 and adapted into a television series.