Naturally I got busy extorting contributions in cash and other impedimenta in furtherance of Conspiracy and Cause. Since everyone in the school was thrilled by the prospect of someday going “Over The Hill,” this turned out pretty easy. When by some miracle Robyn’s twin brother Carol (my other rival for the attentions of the gorgeous German lass) decided to join the Great Escape, my efforts on behalf of the Underground Railroad acquired the fury of desperation. By nightfall the conjuration had prospered and the Daring young Dutchmen slipped off into twilight, packed and bound for that nostalgic den of vice and iniquity—Rio de Janeiro. Nobody noticed a thing until the next morning.
Never was a rollcall attended by so many expressions of helpless bafflement and insincere offers to “help.” We lied en masse about having seen the fugitives asleep in their bunks the night before, or strolling the ground just minutes ago. All eagerly pointed in every direction of the compass to convey impressions as to their probable immediate whereabouts. Nobody believed us, but the Headmaster believed in us, which was a much more practical and important consideration. Case Morris realized that no amount of torture would rattle the truth out of any of us, but he did go through the motions with inquisitions, an emergency meeting, lectures, exhortations, wheedling, promises and threats—mainly to give the appearance of due diligence. Then with tears in his eyes he loaded wanted posters, shovels, rakes, come-alongs, handcuffs and straitjackets into a blue VW microbus and headed off into the sunset, bound for that dark Sodom of Gomorrahs so distant from the cheerful sunlight and invigorating breezes that whistled through the British School of Teresópolis.
Our versatile and intrepid escapees, meanwhile, had neither the means not the inclination to string a telephone wire across the street, strangle a passing Gestapo agent and steal his motorcycle and go cross-country rallye-hopping over the barbed wire. Instead they hitchhiked (this was, after all, the 1960s!) and quickly caught a ride on a truck headed all the way into Rio—100 km or 62 miles. Case Morris wasted no time contacting the authorities or searching the surrounding countryside. It was clear to him that the lot of us street-wise little weasels were perfectly competent to organize a successful break. He plotted a course directly to Laranjeiras—not far from the cog-wheel choo-choo train that takes tourists up from Cosme Velho to the Big Jesus on the Mountain—where the fugitives’ mom lived. Case’s blue VW microbus probably passed the truck carrying the contraband along the way. I believe our heroes ended up having to hike some distance after getting dropped off. Imagine their chagrin to arrive well after dark and find The Long Arm of the Law—Case Morris himself—sitting in the easy chair chatting with Mrs DeRoo over a cuppa tea! AUGH!
Needless to say, the two villains were clapped in irons and frogmarched back to the compound where, under heightened security, we did the daily death-defying steeplechase as warmup for the grueling physical jerks. On Mondays we ran long distance down to the tourist hotel and back a total of 3 km, dreaming every foot of the way of the next Great Escape.