As the troupe of cold, but not-yet-weary youths made their way across the wide fields and through scatterings of woodland towards the invisible steeples of old ‘Oundle, Elsa related the tale with a voice that seemed out of body. From her travels there with her father, she had heard the tale first hand from several different witnesses and, subsequently, had built her own romantic version, but with an accuracy and assuredness that placed the listener squarely at the scene. John and the boys listened with little interruption as they moved towards the mysterious locale of Elsa’s unfolding story.
Over the years, many have said that no one really knows what started it or if the Run had been well planned far in advance. But one thing was certain, and all who tell the story agree, that the ‘Oundle Run was a complete surprise to the zone’s then new overlords.
Mind you, there was some healthy suspicion that some authorities on both sides of the border had an unusually difficult time trying to track and tag those who seemed to have had a hand in instigating the run, but no border guard was ever reprimanded officially for lagging behind in the chase or failing to round up stray students.
Of all the villages stretching along the scythe shape of the early zone from the northwest to just beyond the north of Cambridge, ‘Oundle had been the model of how a traditional English village could survive in peaceful coexistence with the newer paradigm, even if the town was one of the most staunchly opposed to the changes the zone’s leadership had been slowly implementing over the years. Even with the subtle rise of the new order within the confines of the counties in the then new zone, many of the older institutions in more independent towns had managed to hang onto the traditional British way of life, thanks in large part to the help of old money.
Yet, on that oddly crisp spring-like summer day years ago, something was not quite right in old ‘Oundle.
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