Saturday, December 10, 2011

Flashman - Chapter 12

Flashman awakens at the beginning of Chapter 12 (you knew he couldn't be dead, he's got another 11 books worth of adventures, and he's writing his memoirs in his 80's), and realises a few things. He's got some injuries, his head is bandaged and his leg appears to be broken, he's also in a bed, an English bed, so he's been rescued and is now safe.

Once the servant fanning him realises that he's awake others are informed and he's attended by a doctor and two British officials. One is 'Fighting Bob' Sale, the soldier in command of the forces that rescued Flashman from Pipers Fort, and the other is Major Henry Havelock, a grave looking individual.

Flashman's initial concern after working out that he's whole and safe is that if Hudson survived the attack on Pipers Fort the jig will be well and truly up. So his first question is to ask after Hudson. The three men see this as concern for his fellow soldier and this only serves to enhance Flashman's heroic reputation. To Flashman's relief Hudson died. Flashman was found, injured and unconscious, with the flag clasped to him. No one knew he was preparing to surrender it to the enemy.

Luck also intervenes in that the First Anglo-Afghan war was an unmitigated disaster for Britain. They had been abjectly humiliated by what was perceived to be an inferior enemy, so were happy to seize on anything that would take the edge of that. A 'hero' like Flashman was exactly what they wanted. Flashman, as he often does, plays the hero to the hilt, he really could have gone on stage. HIs fire eater reputation will come back to bite him on the backside later, especially with George Broadfoot (Flashman and the Mountain of Light).

He's transported to India and paraded and honoured as the hero of Pipers Fort. While I wouldn't say he's embarrassed by the attention, because he's not, he loves it, it does serve to confirm his belief that most people are hypocrites. Flashman tends to see and judge everyone else by his own deplorable conduct.

The chapter ends with Flashman being told that he will be sent back to England, largely so they can do what they did with him in India, and try to salvage something out of the Afghan disaster and humiliation. Although he does admit India was kind to him he is still overjoyed to be going home, and to be doing it as a hero, well that's just the icing on the cake.

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