CBSE Class 12 English Chapter 7 Evans Tries an O Level Summary, Explanation with Video, Question Answers from Vistas Book
Evans Tries an O Level – CBSE Class 12 NCERT English Lesson 7 Evans Tries an O Level Summary Detailed explanation of the lesson along with meanings of difficult words. Also, the explanation is followed by a Summary of the Lesson. All the exercises and Question Answers are given at the back of the lessons have been covered.
Class 12 English (Vistas Book) Chapter 7 Evans Tries an O-Level
by Colin Dexter
|Introduction||Evans Tries an O Level Summary|
|Evans Tries an O Level Explanation||Evans Tries an O Level Question Answers|
Norman Colin Dexter (29 September 1930- 21 March 2017) was an English crime writer known for his Inspector Morse series of novels, which were written between 1975 and 1999 and were adapted as a TV series.
Introduction to the lesson
The story Evans Tries an O- Level is about a cunning prisoner Evans who makes a plan to escape from the prison on the day of his German-language O – Level exam. The jail authorities, on the other hand, are ready to cover up any sort of risk. Will he be able to succeed in his escape?
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Evans Tries an O Level Summary
Evans Tries an O Level Summary – The story starts with a telephonic conversation between the Governor and the Examination board secretary. The prison authorities want to conduct an O-Level exam in the German language for a prisoner named Evans. The secretary asks about the venue of the exam and also about the invigilator for it. The Governor replies that the exam can be conducted in Evans’s cell and a churchman will be appointed as the invigilator for the exam. They both then end their conversation by deciding on how and when the exam will be conducted. A senior prison officer Jackson visits Evans’s cell to conduct an inspection so that any weapon may be hidden. They are going through this checking because Evans had successfully escaped from prison earlier also, the episode gave him the name of ‘Evans the break’. The governor was not ready to take any risk with this as it could bring a bad name to him. Jackson and Stephens checked the cell thoroughly. They had taken away his nail scissors earlier and Jackson ordered Stephens to take away his razor blade as soon he had shaved. Jackson ordered Evans to take off his hat but left it because Evans requested him not to do so as it was his lucky hat for the exam. All sorts of arrangements were made to keep a check on Evans, even a microphone was placed in his cell. On the day of the exam Mc Leery, the churchman reached the prison and was assisted to the cell by Stephens. The Governor was informed that the exam was about to begin and that the cell did not have any weapons. The Governor ordered the officer to check the churchman so that Evans may not use any belongings of Mc Leery as a weapon. The churchman and his belongings were searched, the paper-knife was also removed so that Evans might not use it to injure the churchman in order to escape. During the search, Jackson found one abnormal thing in the Churchman’s bag. It was a semi-filled tube. When asked the reason for keeping it, McLeery said that he had to use it as he suffered from piles. The exam began and everything being spoken in the cell was constantly heard by the Governor. Meanwhile, a phone call from the examination board for some corrections in the question paper made the Governor suspicious. He cross checked it by dialing the number again which turned out to be busy. Then again, there was a phone call from the Magistrate demanding for police officers and a van. Such things were suspicious to the Governor but he calmed down as he was sure of his arrangements. Stephens stood outside the cell and peeped inside after every minute. It was always the same but later on, he noticed that Evans had put a blanket around himself. Though he doubted it at first but then stopped thinking much as it was cold inside the cell. Later on, the exam was conducted and as the Governor ordered on the phone, Stephens accompanied Mc Leery to the gate. Everything went as planned and Stephens was happy. To be sure of himself, he once again went to the cell for a final look. He was shocked to see Mc Leery lying in a pool of blood. Soon the news spread that Evans had injured the invigilator and had escaped from the jail by impersonating him. McLeery who was badly injured was taken to the Governor as he had some important information.Mc Leery told the Governor about the photocopy being placed on the question paper which shared the escape plan with Evans. The Governor tried to decode the Geman language and found out that Evans would reach NewBury after his jail break. Soon Superintendent Carter was called and Mc leery was sent with him to catch Evans. Both Jackson and Stephens were scolded for being unaware about Evans having a false beard and the churchman’s belongings in his cell. He then ordered both of them to go to St Aldates Police Station and meet Chief inspector Bell. Meanwhile, Carter called him up to inform that they had missed Evans while chasing him and that McLeery was sent to Radcliffe hospital. The Governor called up the hospital and came to know that they had sent an ambulance to the examination board but the churchman had already disappeared. He understood the whole plan that Mc Leery, who was helping them to search Evans was in fact Evans himself. Soon the real Mc Leery was also found by the police who was tied up at his house. On the other hand, Evans had reached hotel Golden Lion and was enjoying his freedom. When he reached the hotel room, he found the Governor in his room. He told Evans that he had all of his men around so there was no chance for him for escape again. The Governor asked him about his plan and Evans told every bit of it to him. Finally, the prison van was called to take Evans to the prison. The Governor felt proud of catching him again.As soon as the van started, the prison officer unlocked Evans’s handcuffs and asked the driver to drive fast so that the police could not catch them again.Finally, Evans once again managed to escape from the clutches of the police with the help of his friends.
Evans Tries an O Level Lesson Explanation
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?”
Governor: chief, administrator
In the month of March the Secretary of the examination board received a call from Oxford Prison. He said, that it was a strange request but they wanted to help the person. He also confirmed that there was just one person as he had said.
“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.
Qualification: completion of some course
cost him a packet: to cost a lot of money
Procedure: method, process
Concert: Musical Performance
card: a witty or eccentric person
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 there was only one person for the examination, named Evans. He also told him that Evans started taking night classes in O-level of German language, last September. He was interested in achieving educational qualification. The secretary asked, whether Evans was good at studies or not. The Governor replied that, he was the only one who attended classes. So, we can infer that he received individual tuition for the said course. Taking such a class outside the prison would have cost him a lot of money. On hearing this, the secretary agreed to give him a chance. The Governor appreciated him for his decision and also asked about the whole process. The secretary replied that he would send all the forms required for the examination. He asked the prisoner’s name and the Governor replied that his name was James Roderick Evans. The secretary also sought clarification whether Evans was a violent person or not. The Governor said that there was no such record. He was a nice guy, a bit humorous and was a star at the Christmas musical performance. He compared him to the comedian Mike Yarwood because of his copying acts. He also added that he suffered from Kleptomania which urged him to steal. The Governor wanted to tell something more but decided that he would keep a check on that.
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“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
Parsons: Churchman, priest
St. Mary Mags: St. Mary’s Magdalene, a church in England
Chuckled: laughed quietly
Incommunicado: not able to or allowed to communicate with other people
Cradled: rested, placed back
The secretary asked the Governor if he could arrange a room for the exam. The Governor replied that there was no such problem because Evans was in his own lockup. So, they could conduct the exam there if the secretary had no problem with it. The secretary found it suitable. The governor also told him that they would call a churchman from a nearby church, St. Mary Mags who would keep a check on Evans during the examination. The secretary laughed that the church had a good number of priests and one could be assigned the job of supervision. The secretary questions the governor that, if it was easy to stop Evans from communicating with the other person. The governor laughed and thanked him for accepting his request. He then put the receiver of the phone back on rest and called for 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
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 prison thrice. Due to the recent unrest in the highly guarded areas of the north, he would not be allowed to be present at the Governor’s residence in Oxford. The Governor did not want to be disgraced by Evans. Evans was not a burden but his presence was uncomfortable. The Governor planned to supervise him personally when he visited Oxford. It was possible that Evans was actually interested in adding up to his qualification by learning German. On the 7th of June, Monday at 8:30 PM, the German teacher shook hands with Evans at the high security recreational block which was across the D wing. He wished him luck in German language but Evans could not understand it. Later, Evans realized it and thanked the teacher. The teacher commented that Evans was not prepared and did not even have the slightest chance to pass the exam. Evans said, it was possible that he cleared the exam and would 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.”
Bunk: narrow bed attached to the wall
Burly: large and strong man
surly: bad-tempered and unfriendly.
Curtly: short, brief
The next morning at 8.30, Evans was visited by two men. He tucked his dirty string vest into his dirty trousers and stood up from his bed that was attached to a wall. He greeted Mr. Jackson cheerfully and said that it was an honor for him that he visited his cell early in the morning. Jackson was the senior prison officer of D wing and both Jackson and Evans were enemies. Mr. Stephens who was a newly appointed officer and a strong-looking man had come along with Mr. Jackson. Jackson greeted him briefly and then asked him about his well being and made fun of him by calling him Einstein. Evans replied in a similar way by pointing him out that Einstein was a Mathematician and then said that he thought that he was a jew. Evans had not shaved and he was wearing a dirty hat on his head. He asked Jackson to excuse him as he was going to shave when both of them entered his cell.
“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 take away his razor as soon he had completed shaving his ugly-looking face. He also added that one day Evans would do a favour for the prison officer by cutting down his throat with a razor. Evans gave a thoughtful look at his strict supervisor who had medals from the Second World War, lined up on the left side of his blazer, on the breast pocket. He asked him, Mr. Jackson was it you who took away my nail cutter. Evans was always worried about how his hands looked.
“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
Leered: watched, stared
Compassion: pity, sympathy
Jackson replied that he took his nail-file too. Evans got angry and his eyes started glowing with anger. Jackson was ready for this and he answered that it was the Governor’s order. He bent towards him and asked in a whisper whether he wanted to complain. Evans denied by moving his shoulders. Jackson told Evans that he had only half an hour to get ready and also told him to remove his dirty hat. Evans moved his hand towards his dirty woolen hat and smiled sadly. He told Mr. Jackson that he wanted to take it with him as it was his lucky charm. Evans knew that Jackson was sympathetic towards 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
Reverend: a member of the church
Drizzle:light shower of rain
Spattered: splash, spray
paper knife: blunt knife for cutting paper
Jackson allowed him to wear the hat just once, he also teased him by calling him Shirley Temple. ShirleyTemple was an actress, who had long wavy hair. Jackson hated Evans’s long and wavy hair. He then asked him to shave.
At 8.45 AM, Stuart Mc Lee who was a member of the church, left his Bachelor flat (flat made for a single person) in Broad street. He started walking fast towards Carfax. The weather reports claimed that the temperature would be below normal in early June. Mc Lee was wearing a black overcoat and a clerical hat (hat used by church clergy) to protect himself from rainfall that started within half an hour. It had also splashed water on his spectacles. He was carrying a small brown coloured suitcase in his right hand. It had all the things required for his morning duties, such as a sealed question paper envelope, a yellow supervisor form, a special permission card that verified him as a supervisor, a blunt knife to cut the seal of the paper, a Bible as he had to speak for a women’s association on the Book of Ruth and the latest 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
distempered: painted with distemper
Battered: worn out
The two hour exam was planned to begin at 9.15 am.
Evans was foaming his face strongly when Stephens brought in two small square tables. He put them opposite each other in the small space between the bed and the painted wall. He then brought in two chairs, the less worn out chair was placed in front of the table which was near the cell door. Jackson made a small final appearance and asked Evans to behave properly. Evans turned and showed 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
Jackson ordered Evans to remove the posters which Evans had pinned up on the cell wall. Evans agreed to this and said that he was about to remove them as he knew that it was some churchman who was going to come for the exam. Jackson queried as to how he knew that. Evans said that he had noticed it when he had signed the examination forms. Evans continued with his shaving and sought Jackson’s permission to ask him something. He then asked him why the officers had put a microphone in his cell and he turned his head towards 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.”
laddy: referred to boy
hawk: a bird of prey with broad rounded wings and long tail
Jackson admitted that the microphone was not put perfectly as Evans easily spotted it. Evans questions him why they think that he would run. Jackson replies that any one with a sense would not trust him. Evans then questions him as to who was going to listen to him. Jackson replied that the Governor would listen as he did not trust him. Jackson told him that even he didn’t trust him. So, he would watch him like a hawk , a bird that keeps its eye on its prey. He finally asks him to keep his nose clean and Evans agreed. He knew this already and so, had kept a neat hanky on the bed. Jackson wished him good luck before leaving.
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
keep one’s eyes skinned: be on the alert; watch carefully or vigilantly for something
Clanging: make a sound
Peep hole: keyhole, opening
The priest, Mc Leery signed his name in the visitor’s book at the gate house. He then followed the prison officer through the exercise yard to D wing. There he was greeted by Jackson . The heavy outer door of the D wing was opened and then shut behind them. The same happened when they entered through the inner door. Mc Leery joined Stephens. Jackson ordered Stephens to remove the razor from the cell. Stephen agreed, he also told him to keep a close watch. Mc Leery made a vibrating sound while climbing up the stairs, following his new guide. When they reached the entrance of the cell, Stephens opened the peep hole and informed Mc Leery that he was the person 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 was sitting quietly, facing the door, slightly away from the two tables. He was concentrating on the elementary German Grammar. Stephens took one of the keys from the ring and opened the lock. The lock of the cell made a ringing sound after it sprung up. At 9.10 am, the Governor switched on the receiver of the microphone. He ordered Jackson to tell Evans to be careful as they had installed a microphone in his cell. He thought that it would be good to forewarn him. He said it in a way as though Evans would never be able to spot it. A thought came to the Governor’s mind that all this seemed like a theatrical drama and all their preparations were like those done by school boys. He thought that how could Evans think of escaping that day. He could have tried it when he was at the Recreational block because it was easier to escape from there but today he was locked in his cell. All the officers were closely watching him. There were two doors between his cell and the yard. There were walls as high as piles of dry grass. Yes, Evans was totally safe now.
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
Jack-knife: a large knife with a folding blade
The Governor thought that there will be no problem if he keeps the receiver switched on. Although he knew that there was nothing to listen because it is the duty of the supervisor to maintain silence. But he was still in doubt. He was worried about Evans taking undue advantage of Mc Leery. He could have smuggled him to take long bladed hand tool or a rope ladder.The Governor at once got alert. He thought that they had taken away all the possible weapons from Evans. But there were chances that Mc Leery could have brought some weapon unknowingly with him. Such as a jack-knife which is a large knife with a folding blade. Even Evans could hold him captive for forcing 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
The Governor called up someone at 9.12 am. Stephens had already introduced the supervisor and Evans who had to appear for the exam. Just at that moment Jackson came and asked Mccleery to come outside for a minute. He explained about the Governor’s reasons for being worried. Mc Leery cooperated him in the checking process by holding out his arms so that he could be checked. Jackson started checking him very fast. He then found something hard. Which Mc Leery said was his reading glasses. To be more sure he even checked his suitcase. He checked each envelope and carefully searched everything with his palms. He also went roughly through the Holy writ and the church times. Everything was fine but there was one thing in the suitcase that was strongly confusing him.
“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
Demeanour: manner, attitude
Pleasantry: joke, a stuff to laugh
Embarrass: unease, awkward
Jackson asked Mc Leery as to why he had brought a half filled rubber ring. A rubber ring which was not even fit for a small child with twelve inch waist. He asked him whether he was going for a swim. Mc leery who till now seemed very friendly suddenly changed because of the tasteless joke he had made. So, he told him that he suffers from haemorrhoids and when he has to sit for a long time, he left his sentence incomplete. Jackson felt very awkward but felt sorry for asking him all that. He then later on discovered the paper knife in the suitcase and said that he hoped Mc Leery did 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.”
It was 9.18 am when Governor heard their voices again, it was understood that the exam will start a little late.
Mcleery queried Evans about having a watch. He answered yes. He said that he will tell him when to start and he will again tell him when only five minutes will be left. Evans said nothing. Mcleery gave him instructions about where to write the index number, centre number etc. He quietly followed it. When Mcleery was about to say “start”. Evans interrupted him and looked at Stephens. Stephens answered that he has been ordered by Jackson to stay there for the exam. Evans complained of not being able to concentrate if someone will be constantly be watching him like this. He also felt sorry for this. Governor called Jackson and ordered him to get Stephens out of the cell as he thought they were doing it a bit too much.
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 heard what was talked on the phone between Stephens and Jackson. He heard the door being shut and also heard McLeery announcing the beginning of the exam.
It was 9.25 am and there was great peace
At 9.40 am the Assistant Secretary for modern languages called up from the examination board to speak to the Governor. The examination had already started about a quarter of an hour ago. He told him that some fool had not placed the correction slip in the examination package. He then tried to seek help from the Governor. The receiver assures him of help by directly connecting the call 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 a reason behind his fear, The governor thought. A line of thoughts came to his mind about the call being a fake, call used to share some signal or a secret message. He then cross checked it by dialling the number of Examination board. He heard the sound of continuous beep which one hears if the phone is engaged. After a gap of two minutes he heard some whisper. After a while he heard McLeery giving instruction to the Evans in his heavy Scottish voice. He asked him to stop writing for a while and also instructed him to open page three. Here he gave him some instructions as to make correction of fourth word in 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
The Governor listened and smiled because he had taken German as a language when he was in sixth class. He remembered about the adjectives and so did Mc Leery.
The minister’s pronunciation of the words sounded very impressive to the Governor. But he thought, there were fewer chances of Evans being aware of the adjectives.
Meanwhile, he received a call from the Magistrate’s ( civil officer who administers law) court. There was a need of a prison van and some officers as there was a remanded case. Within the next two minutes, the Governor thought it to be a fake call. But then he thought that he was thinking too much. His imagination was getting 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.
Askew: tilted, angled
Semi profile: partly turned
Manicured: well cared, tidy
For the first fifteen minutes, Stephens had looked into the cell through the peephole after a gap of every one minute and then after a gap of two minutes. At 10.45 am everything seemed normal when he looked through the hole. There was no difference and it remained the same as always. Evans was always chewing his pen and looking at the front. Mc leery always seated on his chair a bit tilted on one side with his face partly turned. Stephens had noticed him earlier that his hair was cut very short near the scalp. He was reading the church times through his spectacles and his first finger was under his collar. The fingers of the left hand were nicely manicured. He was softly touching 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.”
At 10.50 am the phone rang and after a while the Governor found that he had almost forgotten about Evans. He then heard Evans seeking permission form the supervisor to wrap a blanket around his shoulder as he was feeling cold there. Mc Leery allowed him.
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
Revert: return to
At 10.51 am Stephens opened the peep hole and was surprised to see Evans sitting with a blanket on his shoulders. It seemed strange to him and he even thought of reporting Jackson for this new change he had noticed. He again looked at him and noticed that Evans pulled the dirty blanket close to himself. Now Stephens was getting doubtful about Evans. He even thought that he could harm Mc Leery by suffocating him with his blanket. But then he told himself that he should not behave so foolish as there is no sun on this side of prison, not even in summers.
It is normal that the cell gets chilly. So he decided to return back to his every minute check through the peep hole
At 11.20 am once again the governor’s phone rang. Meanwhile Mc leery told Evans that only five minutes were left for the exam to be completed. Governor was still doubtful about something but he went to receive 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
At 11.22 Jackson shouted to Stephens as the Governor wanted to talk to him. He ran up and listened carefully to each and everything ordered to him. It was his duty to accompany Mc Leery to the main gate of the prison. Stephens had to be fully assured about Evans’s cell being properly locked when Mc Leery leaves it. At 11.25 am the governor heard the final talks between Evans and Mc Leery
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
Illusion: mirage, imagination
Mc Leery asked Evans to stop writing. He also told him to arrange his sheets in order. Then the sound of the movement of chairs was heard. Evans said thank you to Mc Leery. He queried as to how his exam was. Evans replied that it was not too bad. He then called Mr. Stephens. The Governor heard the final shutting down of the door. The exam was over. Stephen asked Mc Leery did Evans’s exam go well. Mc Leery said he didn’t think so. His Scottish accent seemed a bit different from the earlier one, moreover, his overcoat was now reaching close to his knees leading to the imagination that he had suddenly turned slim.
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.
Stephens was happy as the Governor choose him over Jackson to accompany Mc Leery off the premises. Everything was done fine this day, he thought. he stopped him from going to the canteen for an overdue cup of coffee. He wanted to see Evans for one last time. It seemed to him like a TV programme in which the lady is never sure of locking the door before going to bed and she would get 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.
Veiled: face covering
Squelchy: a soft sucking sound made when pressure is applied to liquid or mud
Stephens again entered into the D wing and he once again opened the peephole of Evans’s cell. When he looked inside through it, he cried oh Christ as he was shocked to see the situation inside, For few seconds he thought it was Stephens on his chair but it was not so. The churchman was lying back. His hair was soaked in blood. The blood was flowing down horribly from his beard to his collar and then on his black overcoat.
Stephens shouted for Jackson so loudly that even McLeery whose ear was filled with blood was able to hear it. The churchman was weakly searching for the hanky to stop the blood flowing from his head. The hanky got soaked in the blood. He cried out of pain. He tried to speak but couldn’t do so. By the time Jackson came and ordered Stephens to call the police and ambulance, the hankey got fully soaked in blood and now it was making 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
Mc Leery raised himself and tells them that they should not worry about him as he is fine. He asked for the Governor as he knew where Evans had gone. The blood was splashing down from his head while he was trying hard to pick up the German question paper. All of a sudden there was massive sound of sirens. officers were giving away orders, doors were being opened and shut and the phones were ringing. Stephens and Jackson supported Mc Leery to the Governor’s office. His face was coated with dry blood when he was greeted by the governor at the prison yard. The governor looked puzzled.
“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:
Superimpose: place over another
The Governor wanted to take Mc leery to the hospital. But he insisted on calling the police.He then opened up the German question paper and moved it towards the Governor He wanted to show something important to him. The Governor noticed that a photocopied sheet was cleverly laid on the blank space of the question paper. The Governor tried to recall what he had learnt in his German classes. He was willing 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
Superintendent: supervisor, manager
The Governor tried to translate it. He was only able to translate it partly. It was written that everything should go by the plan. The important thing was that he had to do this just three minutes before the end of the exam. He was told to hit on McLeery’s head and was warned for not overdoing his Scottish accent. Meanwhile the sound of a fast moving siren reached its highest point and a white police car entered into the yard. Detective superintendent Carter waved out from his car and saluted the Governor. He queried about what had happened and looked worried when he asked as to who 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.
Crimson: a rich red color turning purple
leap: jump over
Mc Leery interrupts in between and said that Evans had gone to Elsfield. He was breathing heavily when he told so. Carter looked confused and tried to seek clarity from the governor. The governor told him to take him, as only he knew where Evans had gone. Carter helped McLeery sit inside and within a few seconds the car sprayed the little stones behind it. This means that the car left the place at a great speed.
“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
Whiplash: sudden movement
Blither: long-winded talk with no real substance
The Governor recalled that McLeery had said Elsfield way. He started reading the text again and discovered that it was a route towards the examination board. He then concluded that somebody from the examination board had helped him. He then turned towards Jackson and Stephens and scolded them in a very insulting manner to help Evans walk out of the prison.
Stephens mumbled that it was he who did it because the Governor had ordered him to do so. Governor was surprised to hear this and he said that he never did this. Stephens tells him the time, when he called him. The Governor once again scolded them for not understanding that it was a fake call. He then realized that it was of no use as it was he who had called 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!
Paraphernalia: things, stuff
The Governor was growing hopeless. He scolded senior prison officer Jackson for being so confident about his abilities. He had spent two hours checking Evans’s cell and had declared it to be all OK. But the reality was that Evans was able to hide a false beard, spectacles and other clerical stuff inside his cell. He also had a weapon which he had used to hit McLeery in such a terrible way.
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 came behind but the Governor did not move. He again looked down at the German text and try to decode it.. The word written it meant new grave. He tried hard to find the place and then finally decoded it to be Newbury. He had got the place where Evans had escaped to. He then ordered the driver to take Evans and Stephens to St Aldates Police station. He also instructed them to ask for chief inspector Bell on reaching 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.
Governor jumped the stairs to his office and called up Bell. He explained the entire situation to him. Bell said that he will catch him but with some luck. The Governor sat on his chair and started thinking while he lit up his cigarette. He thought that it was a nice plan but felt that Evans was careless to leave the question paper behind. He then admitted that all of them make mistakes like Evans and then reassured him that this mistake of Evans will again bring him back to the 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
Once again the phone rang very harsh on his desk. Carter informed him that McLeery had spotted him in a car at Elsfield way. They chased him as they had noted down his number. But soon lost him at Headington roundabout. Governor informed him that Evans was on the way to Newbury. He then explained as to why he thinks he is going towards Newbury and then left it all on the police as according to him his job was done. He had already become a laughing stock for others for being over trustful person.He also then enquired about Mc Leery being 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 — ”
Carter said that he has been taken to Radcliffe hospital. He also told him that McLeery had grown very weak when they took him to the examination office. So they rang up for the ambulance from there. Governor called in the hospital and enquired about the injured parson. They replied that they had sent the ambulance to bring the patient but they found 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
Impersonating: pretend to be another person
When the Governor heard about the disappearance of the parson, he didn’t hear anything more from the other side. He had understood the whole truth and he was feeling a bit uneasy in his neck. After a gap of fifteen minutes they found the real Reverend Mc Leery who was tied up by two men in his study at Broad street since 8.15 am. The search in Newbury resulted into nothing. It was clear that the man who was taken to the prison door by Stephens was not Evans who had pretended to be Mc Leery. But Evans was the one who stayed inside the cell and pretend to be McLeery who was 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…
Bobble: small ball attached to a hat
So, now the story is moved up to Evans . After having delicious fish and chips and a small walk near chipping Norton, he decides to go back to his hotel room to sleep early. He was wearing a new hat that had smartly hidden his short hair which seemed as remains of hair. He kept wearing it on his head even when he reached the reception of Golden Lion hotel. He then recalled his previous night when Jackson took away his scissors and he had to cut his hair with a razor blade. That was quite a bad luck. But then he thought about his good luck when Jackson asked him to remove his hat and how he managed to stop him from doing so. He then concluded that old Jackson was not 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.
Bother: concerned about
One of the worst things that seemed funny to him was using a false beard. He was sensitive to the sticking materials. But he had to use it for sticking up the beard. It was now irritating him as it had reddened his chin and he was feeling pain there. When he reached the reception counter. He found that it was not the same girl which was there at the time of his booking. But he thought that this change was good. He then told her that he is not concerned about morning breakfast, ordered a newspaper named Daily Express and asked to wake him up at 6:45 am as 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 climbing up the broad stairs while whistling. Evans was once again lost in his thoughts. He liked being dressed up like a minister, the dog collar and other things. He thought it to be good idea that Mc Leery was wearing two collars, two fronts. But the top collar was slipping off again and again. But there was a moment of great fear when Mc Leery tried to stop his collar from falling down with his finger in front of Stephens. They had somehow solved the problem by always keeping a pen in his mouth whenever Stephens peeked inside. There was a little annoying moment while he was trying to wear black front and the stud at the back collar. That was difficult for him. Otherwise things went well. He got everything in the car which they had promised him. Soap, water and a map. The ordinance survey map of Oxfordshire. He thought that he had got some good and clever 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
Darted: moved quickly
Evans unlocked his room and when he turned back after shutting the door, he was shocked to see someone in his room. He stood there lifeless. He had a quick look at the fierce looking man he had never expected in his room. It was the Governor. Evans looked around hopelessly. Governor tells him that there is no use of it as he had his men all around. He was also shocked at the thought of the blonde girl at the reception who was extra sweet 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?”
Evans looked disturbed. He held his head in his hands and it was silence for a few minutes. Evans then said that it was correction slip he guessed. The Governor tells him that there are some people who know German. Evans then relaxed over some time and explained that it was not an actual mistake as you can see. The mistake was that they were not able to decide about the hotel which they could have worked in some other way. He asserted that it was necessary for them to know the exact at which the paper started so that they could make a call 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 provided the information to him foolishly. Evans said that the correction slip gave him both the hotel name and the time of exam, it was like killing two birds with one stone. Governor agreed to it. Evans then queried how did he come to know that he was staying in which Golden lion hotel as their were hundreds of them.Governor said the index number 313 and centre number 271 were the six figure reference of the survey map for oxfordshire which brought 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 said he is right but we thought that you will go to Newbury. Governor said that yes we had. He asks Evans whether he was able to understand the question paper as the Governor was not able to understand it. Evans said no, he was not but we did it to confuse everyone. The governor then stood up and asked him where he got blood from to pour on his head. Evans felt happy to hear this and said that it was a clever thing to bring blood into the cell. He then revealed that when invigilator was being searched before exam, he then stop telling him anything so that he could use it in future too.
“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.
The governor guessed it to be rubber ring for piles. Evans smiled weakly and said it was a clever thing. Governor pointed out it to be a tough thing which Evans felt it not to be so tough. governor queried wasn’t it. Evans said the main problem was to prevent it from hardening. He tells him that they got pig blood easily from a meat shop in Kidlington and said that one has to mix his own blood to stop it from hardening. Evans took a break and said that he mixed 3.8 percent of trisodium citerate to prevent it from clotting. Governor shook his head though he did not want to praise him. He said that they learn new things everyday. He then took Evans with him and walked down the stairs.
“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?”
Governor asked him how he planned this as he had no visitors or letters for him. He replied that he had many friends. Even his German teacher was his friend. Governor surprisingly said that the teacher was from technical college. Evans questioned whether he had ever verified it. The receptionist said that the van was ready. Both Evans and the receptionist winked at each other. Evans was then shackled by the prison officer and they both climbed the van. The governor said bye in a way as he was bidding him farewell. Evans asked him whether he knows any other language. The governor asked him the reason behind 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 on his seat comfortably and happily replied that he asked so because he came to know that there will be O-level Italian classes coming up next September. The Governor assured him that he will not be with them by September. Evans thought for a while and then said yes may be. Soon the Van turned right from the Chipping Norton on to the Oxford road, The silent prison officer removed his handcuffs and asked the driver to drive fast. The driver asked about where to go in his scott accent. Evans suggested them to go to Newbury. At last Evans was able to escape once again with the help of his friends who were now pretending to be the prison officer and the driver.
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Evans Tries an O-Level Lesson Question Answers
Q1- Reflecting on the story, what did you feel about Evans’ having the last laugh?
A1-Evans was a very cunning person who smartly devised his plan to escape from the jail. He kept on misleading the police and the Governor with false evidences so that nobody could reach him. When Governor tracks him in the hotel and feels satisfied about his being able to catch his prey, Evans makes up another plan to escape and this he did again with the help of his friends who impersonate as the prison officer and driver and takes him away again in front of the eyes of the governor. So,we can say that Evans’ had the right to laugh as he managed everything very well.
Q2-When Stephens comes back to the cell he jumps to a conclusion and the whole machinery blindly goes by his assumption without even checking the identity of the injured ‘McLeery’. Does this show how hasty conjectures can prevent one from seeing the obvious? How is the criminal able to predict such negligence?
A2-When Stephens comes back to the cell he sees McCleery lying in a pool of blood. He was badly hit on his head and the blood was dripping on his beard and clothes. Stephens was a new recruit. He was not having much experience of such tricks and so when he saw an injured man in the cell, he instead of paying attention to the identity of the injured person mistook him as the real Mc Leery. He at once came to the conclusion that he escorted Evans to the gates and so the story spread like that and everyone else in the prison also believed it to be so. Evans was being a cunning criminal knew the weakness of all the officers and that is why he knitted his plan in a way that things went well in his favour.
Q3- What could the Governor have done to securely bring back Evans to prison when he caught him at the Golden Lion? Does that final act of foolishness really prove that “he was just another good-for-a-giggle, gullible governor, that was all”?
A3-In order to correct all the previous mistakes, the governor should have accompanied Evans himself to the prison. But he trusted the fake prison officer and the driver who were none other but friends of Evans. This was not his first mistake, he had done such mistakes in the past also. For example, he never verified about the German teacher who was later found to be Evans’s friend and not even Mc Leery who also was one of the Evans’s friends. He didn’t inform Stephens or Jackson that he was able to track Evans through the correction slip. In order to show himself the smartest person he thought of taking the whole situation in his own hands and took his friends to be the real prison officer and the driver without even verifying their identity and let Evans escape once again.So yes we can say that he was good-for-a-giggle.
Q4-While we condemn the crime, we are sympathetic to the criminal. Is this the reason why prison staff often develop a soft corner for those in custody?
A4- Yes, it is right that everyone condemns the crime. but when we see a criminal bearing the punishment our perception of him changes. So, is with the prison officers who with the passage of time develops a soft corner for them. This can be seen in the story as well. Jackson, who was a strict officer also let Evans wear his hat because he considered it to be his lucky charm. Whereas Evans was a very tricky person who had already discovered the emotional side of Jackson.
Q5-Do you agree that between crime and punishment it is mainly a battle of wits?
A5- Yes, we can say so if we go by the story. We all know that each battle is won by a strong person. In the story, the whole war was based on mental ability and not physical ability. The prison officer had taken away all sorts of weapons from Evans so that he may not find any way to escape but Evans used his tricky brain and managed to escape.