Evans Tried An O-Level - Summary

Dramatis Personae

The Secretary of the Examinations Board
The Governor of HM Prison, Oxford
James Evans, a prisoner
Mr Jackson, a prison officer
Mr Stephens, a prison officer
The Reverend S. McLeery, an invigilator
Mr Carter, Detective Superintendent
Mr Bell, Detective Chief Inspector

This is an interesting story and it starts with preparations being made for a O-Level German examination to be held inside the Oxford Prison for a prisoner, Evans. The Governor of the prison called up the Secretary of the Examinations Board in early March about holding the exam. The Secretary said that it was an unusual request but they would help out with the same. The Governor told him that the prisoner, James Roderick Evans, had taken night classes for German as he wanted to gain an academic qualification and he was the only prisoner taking the classes. The secretary agreed to hold the exam and said that he would send across the required forms. He asked the Governor if he was violent in any way. The Governor said that he was not violent at all and was, in fact, quite a pleasant person and was in the prison only because he was a kleptomaniac. The Governor wanted to tell him that he had escaped from several prisons in the past and they were afraid of him running away again but did not say it. The Secretary asked for a room to be arranged for the exam and the Governor told him that Evans had a cell of his own and, therefore, the exam could be held there. The Secretary said that he would get one of the parsons from St. Mary Mags to invigilate.
Evans was notorious for escaping from prisons as he had done it thrice and was nicknamed ‘Evans the Break’ due to that. He was at Oxford Prison as there was some problem at the maximum – security prisons of the north and the Governor wanted to make sure that he did not escape as it would have been disgraceful. The Governor had decided that he would oversee everything personally to make sure it wasn’t a ruse to escape from prison again though it was quite possible that Evans actually wanted to gain a qualification.
On the evening of 07th June, Evans’ German teacher left Evans’ cell and wished him luck for the exam. He said that Evans had no chance to passing the exam but Evans said that he might surprise everyone.
Next morning, two prison officers went to Evans’ cell, Senior Prison Officer Jackson and Officer Stephens, a new recruit. Evans and Jackson greeted each other though neither liked each other and were like friendly enemies. Evans said that he was just about to start shaving and Jackson asked Stephens to take the razor from the cell for sure after he had shaved.
Evans asked him if he had taken away Evans’ nail-scissors and Jackson said he had taken the nail-file too and when he tried to say something, Jackson said it was done on the orders of the Governor. Evans shrugged his shoulders and left it at that. Jackson asked him to get ready within half an hour and to take off his hat. Evans said that it was his lucky hat and he wanted to wear it for the exam. Jackson allowed him to wear it.
At 8.45 AM, Reverend Stuart McLeery started out for the prison from his flat wearing a long black overcoat and a shallow-crowned clerical hat to protect him from the drizzle that had set in. He was carrying a small brown suitcase that contained all things necessary for the exam including a sealed envelope that contained the question paper. He had a bible and a newspaper too.
The exam was to start at 9.15. Stephens brought in two small square tables and placed them opposite each other and, then, brought in two chairs and placed them along the tables. Jackson came in for a final check and asked Evans to take down the posters from his cell. Evans agreed to it and said that with a minister coming in, it was correct to do so. Jackson asked how he knew that and he said that he observed it while filling up the forms for the exam.
Evans asked as to why had microphones been fitted in his cell and pointed at a point above the door. Jackson told him that the Governor wanted to listen in to everything inside the cell and they would be keeping a hawk-eye on Evans.
In the meantime, Reverend McLeery reached the prison and was taken to the D wing where Jackson met him. He asked Stephens to be careful while handing over the charge of the reverend and reminded him about taking the razor away. Stephens took the reverend to the cell where Evans was already seated by a table and was reading a grammar book.
At 9.10, the Governor switched on the receiver though he was sure he wouldn’t try anything. It was much easier for him to try it from the recreational block and impossible when he was locked in a cell with all prison officers on the alert, two locked doors between his cell and the yard and a high wall around the yard. But, still, he wasn’t taking any chances.
The governor suddenly realized that the Reverend might have brought something in by mistake that might help Evans and he called Jackson on the internal phone to check the belongings of the Reverend. Jackson frisked the Reverend’s clothes and opened his suitcase. Everything was fine in the suitcase except a small semi-inflated rubber ring that looked like a very small swim-tube. The Reverend explained in very uncomfortable manner that he suffered from haemorrhoids and he needed that tube if he had to sit somewhere for a long time. Jackson felt embarrassed and let him keep it. He kept a paper knife that he found in the suitcase with him though.
Then, the Reverend was taken back to the cell and he sat down and started giving instructions to Evans about the paper and about filling up his details on the sheets, like Index Number 313 and Centre Number 271. Evans asked if Stephens would be standing inside the cell and staring at him through the exam as he felt he would not be able to concentrate if he did. The Governor relented and asked Jackson to tell Stephens to stand outside the cell.
The exam began at 9.25 AM. At 9.40 AM, the Assistant Secretary from the Examinations Board called up and told the Governor that somebody had forgotten to place a correction slip in the examination package. The Governor got him connected to Mr. Jackson over the phone so that he could take down the correction. In the meantime, the Governor called up the Examinations Board office to confirm if it was them who were actually calling and found that the line was engaged and realized that it must be them on line with the prison.
Two minutes later, Jackson gave the correction to the Reverend and he read out the correction to Evans. The correction was,
“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...”
The Governor knew a bit of German and realized it was about adjectives but wondered if Evans understood that. After some time, the phone rang again and the Magistrates’ Court informed him that a prison van and a couple of officers were needed for a remand case. The Governor wondered if that could be a hoax and some plan of Evans but thought that it was silly of him to think so and was just imagining things.
In the meantime, Stephens kept looking inside the cell every couple of minutes and for more than an hour, he saw the same thing – Evans sat staring towards the door with his pen between his lips and Reverend McLeery was reading the newspaper he had brought with him.
At 10.50 AM, the Governor hear Evans requesting the Governor if he could keep a blanket over his shoulders as it was a bit cold inside the cell. The Reverend asked him to do it quickly. A minute later, when Stephens looked inside again, he was surprised to see Evans draped in a blanket though everything else looked the same. He felt suspicious but realized that he might really be feeling cold as there was no sun or heating in that part of the prison.
At 11.22 AM, Jackson received a call from the Governor again and he called Stephens as the Governor wanted to give him some instructions. He asked Stephens to personally accompany the Reverend to the main prison gates and was to make sure he locked the cell door behind him.
At 11.25 AM, the Reverend asked Evans to stop writing and submit his sheets. Once done, he called out to Stephens who opened the door and let him out and accompanied him to the main gates. After seeing him off, he went back to the cell instead of taking a break as he wanted to make sure he had locked up the cell properly.
As soon as he peeped inside the cell, he got the shock of his life as he saw a man sprawled back in Evans’ chair with the blanket slipping down from his shoulders to reveal blood dripping from his head and spreading all over his bearded face and clothes. He realized that it was Reverend McLeery there and shouted wildly to Jackson. His shouting even brought the Reverend back to consciousness and he took out a handkerchief and held it to his head and tried to say something but just moaned. Jackson sent Stephens to call for an ambulance and to inform the police that Evans had run away.
The Reverend slowly got up and told Jackson to forget about the ambulance and call the police as he knew where Evans was going and asked for the Governor. The sirens were sounded and all the prisoners were rushed back to their cells and the prison was brought to a lockdown. Within a minute, the Reverend, supported by Jackson and Stephens, met with the Governor in the yard. The Governor wanted to send the Reverend to the hospital but he insisted that the Governor look at the question paper he had with him. He showed that a photocopied sheet had been carefully superimposed over the last page of the question paper. The Governor read and translated the German text on that page,
“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...”
At that exact time, a police car reached the prison and was allowed inside. Detective Superintendent Carter got down and asked what was happening. Before the Governor could say anything, the Reverend cut through and said he knew that Evans was going to Elsfield Way. The Governor asked Carter to take the Reverend with him as he knew what was happening. While Reverend McLeery sat in the police car and sped away to Elsfield Way, the Governor translated the rest of the text, which read,
“From Elsfield Way drive to the Headington roundabout, where...”
He realized that the Examinations Board office was at Elsfield Way and someone from the office must have helped him with the question paper. The Governor asked Jackson and Stephens if they understood what had happened and inquired as to who took Evans to the gate. Stephens said it was him just like the Governor asked him to over the phone. The Governor was perplexed and he asked when did he call up to give such instructions. He scolded them and told them it wasn’t him. He started scolding Jackson then because it was Jackson who had checked the cell the previous evening and did not find anything hidden there like the false beard, a pair of spectacles, a dogcollar and the rest of the stuff he used to pretend he was the Reverend, as well as the weapon that he used to hit the Reverend badly.
Then, he read the rest of the text,
“ the Headington roundabout, where you go straight over and make your way Neugraben.”
He thought for a bit and realized that the text talked about going to Newbury, a nearby big town. A prison van had come by then and he asked the driver to go to the St. Aldates Police Station with Jackson and Stephens and ask for Chief Inspector Bell. Then, he called up the Inspector and told him everything and was assured that Evans would be caught.
While he was thinking about Evans’ plan, his phone rang and Detective Carter told him that they had spotted Evans’ car but had lost him at the Headington roundabout. The Governor told him to go to Newbury as that was where Evans was heading to. He asked Carter if he had dropped off Reverend McLeery to a hospital or not and was told that they rang for an ambulance from the Examinations Board office and went to Radcliffe hospital.
After talking to him, the Governor called up the Radcliffe hospital and asked for the condition of Reverend McLeery. He was told that no one by that name had been admitted to the hospital. When he asked about the ambulance, he was told that there was no one there when the ambulance reached the location at Elsfield Way.
It was then that the truth hit the Governor. He made some calls and Reverend McLeery was found tied up and gagged in his house at Broad Street and was there since the morning. By late afternoon, everyone in the prison had come to know that it wasn’t Evans who went out as impersonating Reverend McLeery, it was Evans who stayed back in his cell and impersonated as Reverend McLeery to get out later in the police car and the Governor himself had sent him out.
The scene then moves to Evans who was strolling around town of Chipping Norton. He had a good supper and had decided to go back to his hotel to sleep in early. He was still wearing the hat that he had used to hide his badly cut hair from Jackson that morning. He had used his razor blade to cut them so that he could look like the Reverend.
He noticed that the receptionist wasn’t the same as earlier as probably the shift had changed. He took his key and gave her instructions for an early morning wake-up call before going to his room.
While going to his room, he kept thinking about how well the plan had worked; how he got the clothes and other stuff from his friend who had come to the prison posing as Reverend McLeery and had brought all the required clothes and stuff; how he changed his clothes and used the blanket to hide the change; how they escaped in a fake police car and how he got new clothes and map in the car, and he thanked his friends mentally.
But, when he entered his room, he was shocked to find the Governor sitting on the bed. The Governor told him that there was no use trying to find a way to escape as the whole place was surrounded by his men and even the receptionist was one of them. In truth, it was only the Governor and two of his men but he lied to Evans.
Evans sat down on a chair and was dejected at seeing his plan failing. After a few minutes of silence, he said that it was probably the correction slip that gave him away. The Governor said that he probably did not know that the Governor knew some German. Evans said that it wasn’t actually a mistake as they needed to know the exact time when the exam began so that they could time themselves towards the end of the exam as they had only a couple of minutes at the end when Stephens was out of the way. So, the call for the correction slip served that purpose and also gave him the name of the hotel that had been arranged for his stay.
The Governor said that it was a pretty common word and Evans said that it had to be common else he wouldn’t have come to know of it. He asked Governor as to how did he come to know which Golden Lion hotel did he have to go to as there several hotels owned by the chain and all have the same name. The Governor told him that when he went over everything, he found out that the Index number 313 and Centre Number 271 were fake and he realized that they were reference points on a map. Using them, he arrived at Chipping Norton just like Evans did.
Evans said he had hoped that they would go to Newbury while he was in Chipping Norton. The Governor asked him if he could understand all that German in the question paper with all the instructions. He said that he understood just bits and pieces but they were the only relevant part so he got it. The Governor asked one final thing from him; how did he arrange for all the blood to pour over his head? Evans replied that it was the most clever part of the plan as they couldn’t use their own blood obviously and the invigilator would have been checked for sure. The Governor asked if they used the small rubber – ring to bring the blood in and Evans accepted that. He said that the only problem was clotting and for that, they mixed it with one tenth of its volume of 3.8 percent Trisodium Citrate. The Governor was surprised and could not help but admire the ingenuity of Evans.
Then, the Governor took him downstairs and while walking down, the Governor asked Evans as to how did he manage all that since he did not exchange any letters with anyone. He said he had a lot of friends. When the Governor did not understand what he meant, he told him that the German teacher who used to come to teach him every day was a friend and the Governor never checked on his background.
The Governor asked the receptionist if the prison van had arrived and she told him that it was waiting at the front. A prison officer handcuffed Evans and climbed into the back seat of the van with him. The Governor bid him bye and Evans, to have some fun, asked the Governor if he knew any other languages as he might want to take up Italian next time. The Governor said that he wouldn’t be at Oxford prison for that long.
With that the van moved out and just after going some distance, Evans asked the driver to drive faster as the Governor would soon find out that the prison van was fake and that he had escaped again. The driver asked him in a very thick Scottish accent, meaning that he was the same man who went to the prison posing as Reverend McLeery, where should they go to and Evans suggested that they should go to Newbury.


Kindly note that this copy of the text prescribed by NCERT has been reproduced for free circulation among students of CBSE board to help them prepare for their exams through electronic medium. English Emperor does not hold any copyright over the material. Therefore, kindly do not reproduce this text without permission from the original copyright holder(s) if you are reproducing it for any purpose other than educational.

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