if he was still in the notion of going to the fence.
He answered, ‘No.’
I resolved then to try it. That evening, September 19th, at dusk, and before the bugler had sounded the signal for prisoners to retire to their quarters, a few friends, with myself, leisurely sauntered about the yard, and finally stopped near the ditch, opposite the gate.
As soon as the sentinels opposite had their backs turned—one going up, the other down the fence—I jumped into the ditch.
I did not then attempt to go further, but, closely hugging the opposite bank, dug holes for my hands and feet, so when the time came there would be no delay in getting out. Presently ‘Annie Laurie
’ was whistled.
It was the signal agreed upon.
By it I knew that the sentinels were relatively in the same positions.
Without hesitating a moment, I clambered out of the ditch and ran to the fence.
A friendly wheelbarrow was near, which I had calculated on making use of. To my consternation, it was so low I could barely lie flat under it. It was impossible to stay under it and work.
However, I placed it against the fence, and then commenced with a caseknife to dig. When the sentinel above approached (I could plainly hear every step), I crawled under the wheelbarrow.
It did not afford much protection, only covering my body.
He or any sentinel up or down the fence could easily have seen me, for I was not more than fifteen feet from a lamp that shed the brightness of day all around.
At 8 o'clock the bugle warned prisoners to their barracks, and my work had just fairly begun.
The friend who made the signal was to follow me, but after the bugle sounded I knew there was no chance for him. The prisoners retired to their quarters, and soon no sound was to be heard except the tread of the sentinels above.
It did not take me long to dig the hole; a very small one was sufficient.
In a few minutes it was completed, and I squeezed through.
The danger outside was as great as that I had already encountered.
True, I was beneath the platform on which the sentinels walked, but the guard-house was just in front; a large lamp was burning near it; the fence was whitewashed, and a soldier was walking by, not more than ten feet away.
I laid still until he passed, and then, as fast as possible, crawled down the fence.
There was no sense in trying to creep where there was so much light.
Soon I came to a large bush, behind which I hid. At 9 o'clock tattoo was beat.
The soldiers retired to their quarters; the last straggler soon passed by, and silence reigned supreme.
The next difficulty was to get away from the fence.
I crawled further, until I came to a point beneath two sentinels, who were conversing.