Sample Passages of Primary 6 English Papers (2013)
As far as anyone could tell, the group of men looked just like an ordinary working party going about the everyday business of repairing the posts around the prison camp. Two of them were obviously British .officers, with their peaked officer's caps and swagger sticks, while the other five looked like Indians, with their white turbans and dark skins. The British sergeant hardly glanced at them as he rode by on his bicycle in the dusty compound of the prison camp near Debra Dun in Northern India. The group headed for the main gate. The guards on duty there saluted the officers as they marched through. The officers nodded briskly in acknowledgement. This was the dangerous moment. If one of those guards had noticed that the five 'Indians' had blue eyes or that their dark make-up had run and stained their white robes, then that would be an instant end to their escape.
But nothing happened. Neither of the guards noticed anything. They just stood there on that late April afternoon in 1944, unaware that the oldest trick in the history of escape was being played on them, and let the carefully disguised party of Gentians and Austrians walk out of the camp, down the path and out of sight round the corner and into the bushes. It had all seemed incredibly easy but at least one of the 'Indians', the Austrian skier and mountaineer Heinrich Harrer, knew how great the risks and hardships of the next step of their escape were. For Heinrich Harrer had tried to get away from Debra Dun before, and had managed to remain free for eighteen days before being caught. Now, a year later, as he hastily removed his makeup and white robes, he knew exactly what lay ahead of him.
The only escape route with a chance of success lay through the tangled forests, rushing rivers and tricky paths of the Himalayan foothills, where turning a corner could bring a man face to face with a tiger, bear or leopard. Beyond the foothills lay the most demanding mountain country in the world, the ice-cold, merciless peaks of Tibet, with their savage winds, perilously narrow ledges and great gaping chasms that waited to claim climbers at a stumble or the slip of a foot No wonder Harrer's friend, the Italian general Marchese, who had escaped with him the last time, had chosen not to escape again. When the two of them were caught, at the nomadic village of Nelang, 2100 metres up in the mountains and about 160 kilometres from the Tibetan border, Marchese had been so exhausted by extreme heat and gruelling effort that he had to be taken back to Debra Dun on horseback.
Harrer's desire for freedom had not weakened, however. He had spent all year dreaming of the moment when he would be free again. After saying a quick farewell to his companions, he struck out on his own, up into the hills that would lead him to the valleys of the rivers Jumna and Aglar, which was the best route and safest, though by no means the easiest.
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