NCERT Textbook - Evan Tries an O'Level Class 12 Notes | EduRev

English Class 12

Class 12 : NCERT Textbook - Evan Tries an O'Level Class 12 Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


70 Vistas
7
Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level
Colin Dexter
Before you read
Should criminals in prison be given the opportunity of learning
and education?
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
All precautions have been taken to see to it that
the O-level German examination arranged in the
prison for Evans does not provide him with any
means of escape.
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?”
•  What kind of a
person was
Evans?
•  What were the
precautions taken
for the smooth
conduct of the
examination?
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


70 Vistas
7
Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level
Colin Dexter
Before you read
Should criminals in prison be given the opportunity of learning
and education?
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
All precautions have been taken to see to it that
the O-level German examination arranged in the
prison for Evans does not provide him with any
means of escape.
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?”
•  What kind of a
person was
Evans?
•  What were the
precautions taken
for the smooth
conduct of the
examination?
© NCERT
not to be republished
71 Evans Tries an O-Level
“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.
“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.”
“That’s fine.”
“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 parsons 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.
Evans!
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 3


70 Vistas
7
Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level
Colin Dexter
Before you read
Should criminals in prison be given the opportunity of learning
and education?
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
All precautions have been taken to see to it that
the O-level German examination arranged in the
prison for Evans does not provide him with any
means of escape.
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?”
•  What kind of a
person was
Evans?
•  What were the
precautions taken
for the smooth
conduct of the
examination?
© NCERT
not to be republished
71 Evans Tries an O-Level
“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.
“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.”
“That’s fine.”
“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 parsons 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.
Evans!
© NCERT
not to be republished
72 Vistas
“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.”
“Pardon?”
“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.
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.”
..
..
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 4


70 Vistas
7
Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level
Colin Dexter
Before you read
Should criminals in prison be given the opportunity of learning
and education?
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
All precautions have been taken to see to it that
the O-level German examination arranged in the
prison for Evans does not provide him with any
means of escape.
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?”
•  What kind of a
person was
Evans?
•  What were the
precautions taken
for the smooth
conduct of the
examination?
© NCERT
not to be republished
71 Evans Tries an O-Level
“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.
“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.”
“That’s fine.”
“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 parsons 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.
Evans!
© NCERT
not to be republished
72 Vistas
“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.”
“Pardon?”
“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.
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.”
..
..
© NCERT
not to be republished
73 Evans Tries an O-Level
“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.
“And your nail-file, too.”
“Look!’ For a moment Evans’s eyes smouldered
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.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 5


70 Vistas
7
Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level Evans Tries An O-Level
Colin Dexter
Before you read
Should criminals in prison be given the opportunity of learning
and education?
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
All precautions have been taken to see to it that
the O-level German examination arranged in the
prison for Evans does not provide him with any
means of escape.
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?”
•  What kind of a
person was
Evans?
•  What were the
precautions taken
for the smooth
conduct of the
examination?
© NCERT
not to be republished
71 Evans Tries an O-Level
“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.
“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.”
“That’s fine.”
“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 parsons 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.
Evans!
© NCERT
not to be republished
72 Vistas
“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.”
“Pardon?”
“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.
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.”
..
..
© NCERT
not to be republished
73 Evans Tries an O-Level
“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.
“And your nail-file, too.”
“Look!’ For a moment Evans’s eyes smouldered
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.
© NCERT
not to be republished
74 Vistas
“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.
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.
“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
© NCERT
not to be republished
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