Chapter 6 - More Narrow Escapes

On another occasion when I was living in a boarding house, I heard someone speaking in the hall way. Being on the second floor, I opened my door slowly and looked down the stairway to see who it was. The police had entered the building and were speaking to my landlord. I could hear them well enough to tell they were looking for someone. There was a small chance they had the building surrounded.

I was on the second floor and knew it would not be easy to slip away unnoticed. I thought my best opportunity for escape was to hide in someone else's room. I remember picking up a large kitchen knife as I hid myself in another room. I was prepared to end my life rather than be locked up forever. The police did not search the entire building and I was eventually able to make my escape.

One of my worst experiences was in northern Ontario where I hid at a farmhouse near Algonquin Park. I was standing in the driveway late one afternoon when two cars drove up, both filled with R.C.M.P. (Royal Canadian Mounted Police).

It was wintertime with snow deeper in places that I am tall. I dreaded running in the bitterly cold weather, and without snow shoes or food. I decided I'd better try to bluff my way through again.

I answered a few questions but soon realized the Mountie asking them did not believe my answers. Running seemed to be my only hope, so I made a dash for the distant forest. I knew a hail of gunfire could stop me from ever reaching the woods. I was unarmed and the odds were against me.

Evidently I took The Mounties by complete surprise. They thought I couldn't get far in such cold weather and deep snow, so they didn't pursue me immediately. They had underestimated my determination to elude capture. Apparently it didn't take them long to realize the seriousness of that error. I learned later that within hours they brought in dogs and tried to pick up my trail.

When I began running, I threw away my long fur coat because it slowed me down. That was a mistake I soon regretted. The icy wind threatened to freeze me to death as I ran. It seemed incredibly slow with every step a struggle against the snow and bitter cold.

I came to the shallow end of a lake with a huge marshy area covered with ice and snow. The marsh went right up to the road which by now I knew would be infested with Mounties. The lake was much too big to go around leaving me with only one unpleasant choice. I began crossing the marsh when my worst fears were realized. The ice was thinner than I had hoped and it broke. My feet were soaked. How long I wondered before they began to freeze.

I continued running as the odds mounted against me. The sun was going down, leaving me with no sense of direction. Running parallel to a road now became necessary. If I ventured too far into the bush and got lost, I ran the risk of becoming little more than an interesting article in the news when the spring thaw revealed my body. Freezing to death while lost in the "Great Canadian Wilderness" was not the happy ending I had envisioned for my life.

I worked my way parallel to a road as exhaustion set in. It had become fairly dark and I was stumbling more and falling often. At one point I rolled down a somewhat steep embankment. Had it been much bigger I might have been seriously injured or worse.

It must have been close to midnight when I was starting to hallucinate from the cold. I actually felt warm again when I realized I was freezing to death. Being totally exhausted and hungry didn't help the situation either. Refusing to lay down in the snow and give up, I came out on the road to look for help. The road had been plowed and that made walking a little easier. I had not walked far when I found a small cabin with lights still burning at that late hour. Dragging myself to their door, I knocked and hoped for the best.

I was greeted by a couple in their forty's. When I asked for help they took me in without any hesitation. They set me by the fire and wrapped me up in blankets. It took some effort to remove the frozen boots. Perhaps the constant running was what kept me from losing my feet. Thankfully, I didn't lose so much as a toe even though the boots were actually frozen onto my feet! (Thank God!) They gave me some warm food and tried to dry my clothes.

I told them the police were after me and asked if they had seen them around. They said they hadn't. I told them I was going to try and make it to Barry's Bay, a small nearby town. When I felt nearly revived and thawed out, I got ready to leave. They asked me if I wanted to wait in the house while they drove into Barry's Bay. They said they could see if there was a roadblock or any police presents at all.

I welcomed their offer knowing this information could bring some peace of mind. They returned within an hour informing me the way seemed clear. I thanked these kind people for their help and continued upon my journey with renewed vigor.

Had all this taken place in a large city, the outcome may have varied greatly. People seem to be different in a rural area. Your life could easily depend on your nearest neighbor and vise, versa. I doubt the thought that I was a threat to them ever crossed their minds. Likewise I never gave way to thoughts that they could betray me, or return with the Mounties.

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