Thursday, January 5, 2012

Royal Flash - Chapter 4

The 4th chapter of Royal Flash is where the chronology of the books became complicated. At the end of chapter 3 it was 1843. By the time chapter 4 begins it's 1847. Flashman has been on 4 years worth of adventures, but these weren't covered until book 6 (Flashman's Lady) and book 9 (Flashman and the Mountain of Light). Flashman makes no allusions to the events in Flashman's Lady, but he does obliquely reference Flashman and the Mountain of Light, by saying that he'd managed to get some money of his own in his last escapade before arriving back home in 1847. Royal Flash was written in 1970, and Mountain of Light came out in 1990. I really do wonder how far George MacDonald Fraser thought ahead.

To his horror Flashman finds out that his in-laws have moved in, in his absence and Buck is off at a sanatorium drying out, the indications is that this is a pretty regular thing for Buck Flashman, as he had become an alcoholic. There's no mention of Judy, so I assume she didn't meet up to the standards of the pious Morrisons and was sent packing, whether or not Elspeth liked having her around. One of the few loose ends that was never tied up.

Flashman's exchanges with Morrison never fail to amuse. The two of them cannot stand each other and they don't hide it. It makes for some very amusing and snarky banter as the two men snipe at each other continually. The two of them actually need each other. Harry can't survive without Morrison's money and Morrison likes the entry to high society that Harry's name and reputation give him.

During a bout of coitus with Elspeth, part of the reason they get along so well and have remained together for so long is that Harry's rarely at home, so doesn't become irritated by Elspeth's seeming empty headedness or the high snobbery she developed not long after marrying and moving away from Scotland, Elspeth is also good in bed, Flashman's darling wife admits that her parents want to get their two other daughters; Agnes and Grizel married, and to quality. Elspeth reasons that she did it, and they're wealthy girls through their father and well educated so why shouldn't they. Flashman points out that neither of her unmarried sisters is anywhere near as attractive as she is, although Elspeth does say that Grizel is really pretty. I can't remember what became of Agnes, but I think readers found out that Grizel did marry fairly well in Flashman's Lady.

Flashman knows that living in a house containing his in-laws while depending entirely on them for funds (what he made in the intervening years won't take him long to go through) will drive him mad so gets Uncle Bindley to seek him a position that pays tolerably well. Whilst this is happening he receives a flowery letter from a Bavarian Countess. Flashman has never been to Bavaria, he may have bedded a countess, but the name doesn't ring any bells and he was unlikely to have had the opportunity to deflower a Bavarian noblewoman. However she is promising to give him money for travelling and more when she sees him.

Harry goes to see the woman's London based attorneys and discovers that the countess is in fact Lola Montez. While Flashman was adventuring his old lover became the consort of King Ludwig (commonly known these days as Mad King Ludwig) of Bavaria. She got given a title by her lover. Flashman is intrigued and he wants the money, so we'll soon be seeing Flashy let loose on the women of the continent.

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