Evans Tries an O-Level was written by Norman Colin Dexter, who was an English crime writer. The story Evans Tries an O-Level is a story about a cunning prisoner who plans to escape from the prison on the day of his German language exam. The prison authorities are willing to cover up all kinds of risk.
The Secretary of the Examination Board received a call in early March from the Governor of Oxford Prison, requesting the creation of an examination center in prison for one candidate, Evans. Evans had started night classes for O-level German and was the only student in the class. The Secretary made some inquiries and promised to send the required forms.
Evans’ cell was turned into an Examination Room, and the Parson from St. Mary’s Mags was supposed to invigilate the exam. The Governor decided against informing the Parson about ‘Evans the Break’ escaping prison thrice. The Governor of Oxford Prison had taken upon himself to see that Evans would not escape. The day before the exam, on 7th June, a Monday, Evans’s German teacher shook his hand and wished him luck in the heavily guarded Recreational Block, just across D. Wing.
The following morning, at 8.30 p.m, Evans was visited by the senior prison officer on D. Wing, Mr. Jackson, and Mr. Stephens, who looked burly surly and was recently recruited. Mr. Jackson mockingly addressed Evans as Einstein. Evans was unshaven and requested Mr. Jackson to allow him to shave. Mr.Jackson informed Evans that he has an hour to smarten himself and instructed Mr.Stephens to take out the razors from his cell. He also asked Evans to remove his filthy hat, which Evans claimed brought him luck, and requested to keep it on during the exam.
The same morning, Reverend Stuart McLeery left his bachelor flat and stepped out towards Carfax. The temperature was fairly below normal. He wore a long black overcoat and a shallow clerical hat to protect him from the drizzle, which spattered the thick lenses of his spectacles. He carried a small brown suitcase in his right hand, which contained everything he needed for his morning duties.
The two-hour examination was scheduled to start at 9.15 a.m. Two small square tables were placed before each other, and two hard chairs were placed in front of them. Jackson informed Evans that the Governor would be listening in, and he would watch him like a hawk. He also asked him to keep his nose clean, and Evans took his number two handkerchief, which was kept ready on the bunk. Jackson wished Evans good luck before he left the cell.
At the prison gate’s lodge, the Reverend signed his name neatly in the visitor’s book and walked next to a silent officer to D Wing, where Jackson greeted him. The Wing’s heavy doors were locked behind them, and McLeery was then looked after by Stephens.
McLeery followed Stephens to the cell Evans was kept in. Through the peephole, Stephens could see that Evans was utterly engrossed in the German Grammar textbook and then unlocked the door.
At 9.10 a.m., the Governor instructed Jackson to tell McLeery of the temporary precautions and was afraid that Evans would take advantage of McLeery. He thought that McLeery could have weapons that Evans could use. The Governor called Jackson, and Jackson frisked McLeery’s and searched his suitcase. He found a semi-inflated rubber ring and was puzzled. McLeery explained that he suffered from hemorrhoids when he sat down for a long time. Jackson found a paper-knife, which he politely took away.
The examination started late. The Governor could listen to the examiner and the examinee talk. Evans objected to Stephens’s presence as it would interfere with his concentration. The Governor asked Jackson to order Stephens to leave, after which the examination began at 9.25 a.m.
The Examination Board rang through at 9.40 a.m., and the Assistant Secretary informed me that a correction slip was not placed in the examination package. The Governor put him straight through Mr.Jackson and was simultaneously checking if the phone call was legitimate. He dialed the Examination Board and could only hear staccato beeps of an engaged line. The Governor then listened to some whispered communication from the cell where McLeery was dictating the corrections. The Governor had taken German in the sixth form and remembered about agreements of adjectives. He received a call from the Magistrate’s Court because they needed a prison van and a couple of officers for a remand case.
Stephens had dutifully peeped through at intervals of every minute and then of two minutes for the first quarter-hour. Everything seemed fine at 10.45 a.m. Evans has the pen between his lips and he stared straight, looking for some inspiration. McLeery sat opposite him and his hair was clipped amateurity close to scalp.
At 11.20 a.m., McLeery informed Evans that only 5 minutes remained. Seven though the examination was almost, omehting gnawed at the Governor. He reached for the phone again. At 11.22 a.m., Jackson shouted along the corridors because the Governor wanted to spead the Stephens. Stephens listened to the quick orders that he was supposed to accompany McLeery to prison gates and ensure that the cell’s gates were locked on Evans as McLeery left.
The Governor heard the final exchanges at 11.25 a.m. and the door clang. Stephens walked McLeery to the prison gate and his overcoat make it seem like he suddenly grew thinner. Stephens was pleased that the Governor asked him to walk McLeery and not Jackson and thought the day went well. He opened the peep hole of Evan’s door and saw a man sprawled in Evan’s chair. The front of his closely cropped hair was covered in blood and it dripped through the small black beard and was spreading over the white clerical collar down to the black clerical collar.
Stephens wildly shouted for Jakcson. McLeery reached for his handkerchief and held it to his bleeding head. He moaned slowly and tried to speak, but his voice became quieter and stopped. Both the police and ambulance were called. McLeery got up, noticed the question paper, and called for the Governor, claiming to know where Evans was.
The sirens blew almost suddenly, and the entire prison machinery went into action. McLeery was supported by Jackson and Stephens on either side and met with the Governor in the yard, where he showed the German paper. A photocopied sheet was superimposed to the last page and contained the plan of action.
At the door of the prison, Detective Superintendent Carter greeted the Governor. McLeery told the officer to head to Elsfield where Evans must be, and he accompanied the police. The Governor read the last portion of the text, which said- ‘From Elsfield Way drive to the Headington roundabouť.
The Governor was angry at Jackson and Stephens because Evans managed to hide a false beard, a pair of spectacles, a dog-collar, and all the rest of his clerical paraphernalia and a weapon using which he hurt McLeery. The Governor concentrated on the last part of the text, and the word ‘Neugraben’ troubled him. It seemed to be Newbury. He asked his driver to take Stephens and Jackson to St. Aldates Police Station and contact Chief Inspector Bell there and called his office, and Bell promised to get Evans.
The Governor lit a cigarette and sat back. He thought that the plan was beautifully laid out but leaving behind the paper was a big mistake. The Governor hoped to get Evans back with the clues. Superintendent Carter informed him that McLeery spotted Evans driving off to Elsfield Way but lost him at the roundabout and that he must have doubled back to the city and might be on the way to Newbury.
The Governor inquired if Carter could get McLeery to hospital and Carter replied that he was in Radcliffe. The Governor inquired about a person at Radcliffe and was shocked to hear that the fellow disappeared when the ambulance arrived. McLeery was found a quarter of an hour later, bound and gagged in his study in Broad Street, where he was since 8.15 a.m. and when two men called.
There were enquiries about Newbury throughout the afternoon, but no result. Everyone in prison knew that Evans impersonated McLeery and stayed in.
Evans returned to the Golden Lion Hotel after a stroll around Chippig Norton. He concealed his hair with a hat and his chin was soar from sticking beard with plaster. He instructed the receptionist, smiled at her, and went to his room and was shocked to find the Governor sitting on his bed.
The Governor asked Evans not to try anything because he has men and women all around and Evans was visibly shaken. He confessed that the correction slip ruined it and slowly relaxed, before he spoke about the plan. He could pick any hotel and the important thing was for the phone to ring just before the exam finished to get the prison officers away for just some time.
The correction slip has the name of the hotel and when the exam started. Evans asked how he knew which Golden Lion it was, and the Governor said he used the same method: Index number 313; Centre number 271. The six-figure reference 313/271 lands one bang in the middle of Chipping Norton. The Governor asked about his knowledge of German and the blood. Evans explained how he used the rubber rings and mixed pig blood with 3.8 percent trisodium citrate to stop it from clotting. The Governor was impressed with that. They walked down the stairs. He always had his German teacher who claimed he was from a Technical College, but no one checked.
The receptionist told the Governor that the van was outside and a prison officer handcuffed and recaptured Evans. The two men sat in the van, and Evans said that O-Level Italian classes were coming up next September. The Governor said that he might not be with them then, and Evans pondered and thought the same.
As the prison van turned from Chipping Norton onto Oxford Road, the silent police officer unlocked the handcuffs and leaned towards the driver, asking him to drive faster. The driver in a broad Scotts accent asked where they should head for, to which Evans suggested Newbury and had his last laugh.
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