Charlie was a fugitive. He had been running for a long time. It felt as if everyone had turned against him.
He was at one of the lowest points of his life. He thought it was bad when his father was tragically killed. The two years since then went from bad to worse. With his father gone, he could no longer live in the house in which he had grown up. Forced to leave his comfortable way of life, he was forced to adjust to what promised to be a life of loneliness. If that weren’t bad enough, he had now run afoul of the law and was hiding out like a common criminal.
Hopefully, you have never found yourself in the same situation as Charlie. If that ever happens to you, you’ll understand his gloomy mood. When you are on the run and have no one to turn to, everyone appears to be an enemy. Even a small search party can feel like you are defending yourself against an army of thousands.
Even so, it is a bit of an exaggeration to say that Charlie had no friends. They probably weren’t the kinds of friends that would bolster his soiled reputation in the eyes of his pursuers, but at the moment, they provided some support. It was with their help that Charlie found his first hideout.
The first gang he joined was led by five brothers. The Penderel boys saw a kindred spirit in the fugitive and offered to let him use their place as a hideout. The only problem with that plan was that the Penderel gang was well known to the authorities. It wasn’t long before they came looking for Charlie, so he needed to find a safer place.
There is a long history of gang rivalry, but when faced with a common enemy, it’s not unheard of to find cooperation between two outlaw groups. Charlie went from Penderel territory to meet up with the Giffords. He ditched the clothes he was wearing and cut his hair to disguise his appearance. It would have helped if he had more time to plan his disguise. His clothing made him stand out even more because they fit him so poorly. The borrowed shoes were far too small and did little to help him move quickly. Even so, under the cover of darkness, Charlie navigated the streets at 3:00 in the morning and arrived safely at the Giffords.
If he thought he would have time to rest, he was sadly mistaken. Somehow, the authorities grew wise to his plans, and search parties were reported to be nearby. He was so close to being discovered on several occasions. Only when the heavens opened with a torrential downpour were his pursuers put off of his trail. Finally, after what seemed like ages, Charlie had a chance to sit down, get something to eat, and change into clean, dry clothes.
As he sat in front of the fireplace, savoring his dinner and waiting for his ill-fitting shoes to dry, Charlie dared to hope that he would have some time to rest and better plan his escape. That hope was snatched away almost as quickly as it developed. Apparently, someone had seen Charlie skulking through the streets at an unlikely hour and filed a report. His hideaway house was no longer safe.
Still chilled and damp, Charlie had to flee the comfort of his hideout and relocate to a row of uncomfortable shrubbery. Barely daring to breathe, he waited among the scratchy branches for about half an hour, waiting for the coast to be clear.
He knew he would not stay in the hedge forever. He went on the run again. Before long, he found himself in a thickly wooded area. It seemed like a promising place to hide. Charlie wasn’t the only one who thought so. In his quest to avoid capture, he ran into another guy who was on the run. William Carlis may not have been thrilled about sharing his hiding place with Charlie, but he agreed to do so.
The fugitives had their eyes on a nearby house that would serve as a relatively comfortable hideaway. It, too, was a known location of criminal activity, however. It wouldn’t be long before routine patrols would bring someone with a gun to check on the residence.
By now it was nearly sunrise. Resigned to the unhappy reality that they would have to remain outside, the fugitives looked around for a place that would hide them during daylight hours. With nothing better as an alternative, they climbed a large Pollard oak tree.
Charlie and William hoped they would only be in the tree for a short time. It turns out they were in the large tree’s branches all day. From their vantage point, they could see officers searching for them, but the sturdy tree kept the fugitives well hidden.
Charlie was so exhausted from his ordeal that he fell asleep while nestled in the tree. As he slept, a search party approached the tree and were directly beneath the two men. William was fearful that Charlie would make some sort of noise and alert their pursuers, so he quietly woke his sleeping companion.
As tired as he was, Charlie became instantly alert when he realized how perilous their situation had become. Just a few feet below, the searchers were whacking at the shrubs and bushes that had been their hiding place just a few hours earlier.
The men held their breaths, certain that they were moments away from being captured. As thorough as the search on the ground was, however, no one bothered to look up where they would have seen the terrified fugitives.
Charlie and William remained in the tree all day. Only after sunset did they slowly climb down and again stand on solid ground. Their bodies were sore and their nerves were shot.
By this point, the two men were definitely on the “Most Wanted” list. Everywhere they looked, there were posters advertising a reward for information leading to their capture. The amount of the reward was staggering — more than $180,000 in today’s economy.
With that kind of reward, Charlie knew it was only a matter of time before someone turned him in. He knew the only way he could be safe would be if he could flee the country.
His instincts were correct. The authorities had, by now, zeroed in on some of his prior hiding places. They descended on the Penderel brothers, searching their home and seizing evidence. They were actively investigating every reported sighting from a public that was eager to collect on the big reward.
Charlie arranged passage out of the country on a boat. The sea captain had to promise absolute secrecy so Charlie’s plans wouldn’t be discovered. He was all set to make his great escape when everything fell apart. The captain’s wife, suspicious about her husband’s hush-hush activities concluded that he must be carrying on an affair. The jealous wife locked the captain in the bedroom and wouldn’t let him out. Charlie had a boat but no way to sail it.
Charlie was again on the run and in hiding. It wasn’t until six weeks later that he finally realized his plan to flee to foreign shores. He had been in fear for his life. He was disguised. He hid in houses, shrubs, a tree, and a boat. He even hid in some holes in the ground for a while. Finally, he breathed a sigh of relief when he stepped off the boat in a non-extradition country. Only then could he dare hope about the prospects for a long-term future.
What was it that Charlie was running from? What did he do that made him Public Enemy Number One? Why was a king’s ransom offered as a reward for his capture?
Charlie’s biggest crime had nothing to do with anything he had done. It was all about who he was. He was, after all, his father’s son. His father who had been so tragically killed two years earlier was the Public Enemy Number One of his day. He was arrested and died under a sentence of death. When he was out of the way, all eyes turned to Charlie, because everyone knows the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Charlie may have followed in his father’s footsteps in terms of being a criminal and a fugitive. We’re happy to report that he managed to turn his life around, however. After narrowly escaping to another country, Charlie was able to return to his native homeland. He even returned to his father’s home.
And he carried on the family business. Nine years after narrowly escaping with his life, Charlie assumed control of the family business and was crowned Charles II, King of England, Scotland, and Ireland.
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