Thursday, 25 March 2010

The great escape (1)

Over the last few days Raymond and his miners had widened the passages wherever possible, positioned candles and moved the biscuit stocks close to the surface. Friedrich himself had exited the system and laid out some stones to provide orientation once they emerged.

AS night fell, the message was passed from hut to hut and the escapees assembled behind the nearest hut to the cliff before being quietly guided across to the hidden entrance. Once inside the way was clearly lit by candles so there was no mistaking the route. On emerging each pair/trio of escapees was given a bag of biscuit and a rough idea of where to go. The choice was either east to the river bank in the hope of finding a boat or south if the French army had possibly landed. North was far too dangerous as it must lead towards the cities of Pappenheim and Sonnenbad.

Once the last of the escapees had emerged and been dispatched Raymond set off in the opposite direction, north east intending to gradually curve round to the south and meet up either with a French army or find a stretch of river that was not as well guarded.

Once daylight had broken Raymond had dodged from cover to cover trying to remain unseen. By mid morning he had arrived at a point where he had to cross a large area of open ground. Carefully he scanned the area trying to spot any foresters that might be on watch. As he was about to break cover he saw a couple of figures emerge from the woods a couple of hundred paces away heading away from him.

There was a sudden shout “Hande Hoch”. One of the figures stopped, but the other started running. Raymond heard the crack of a rifle and saw the running figure tumble into the dirt.

Moments later a couple of Freishutze appeared from a copse and moved towards the two escapees. The running man had been hit in the leg and the hunters made his companion support him as they escorted them towards the nearest village.

Raymond reflected that the prisoner was lucky that the foresters were good shots and that the bounty was higher for live prisoners. Once quiet resumed he dashed over the open ground to the copse. As expected he found a concealed hide used for hunting deer or escaping prisoners. From now on he would have to be even more careful.