Sunday, January 8, 2012

Royal Flash - Chapter 7

After reading chapter 7 of Royal Flash I can see why the film makers took the decision of creating the sort of the film they did. The chapter is very bawdy and somewhat farcical in parts. It's one of the longer chapters I've encountered as well.

Flashman now impersonating the Danish prince Carl Gustaf, is taken to the duchy of Strackenz where he will meet and marry Duchess Irma. On the way his true colours assert themselves during a presentation from one of the local boarding schools. The school has a number of well turned out students who can recite Greek for his supposed entertainment. Flashman spies a surly lout who he sees as the school's version of his younger self and asks for that boy to recite. Of course he makes a hash of it and Flashman does his level best to ensure that the boy will be beaten following his departure. He leaves well pleased with himself. Detestable man.

Flashman certainly likes the look of Irma. She's young (19) and even more beautiful than her portrait suggested, but she is very cold and has no conversational skills. Flashman does't take to her, it would be hard to, he sees her as spoiled and arrogant, to a certain extent she probably is, but I believe most of it is due to her upbringing and the situation she's in. I believe Flashman mistook fear for arrogance.

He sizes up the crown jewels of Strackenz and like any good British soldier works out how he may be best able to make off with them if given the opportunity. He also notices that Starnberg is doing the same. A man after Flashman's own heart. Courage aside they're cut from the same cloth.

The news that one of Carl Gustaf's oldest friends; Erik Hansen, will be unexpectedly attending the wedding throws Flashman into a panic. Flashman's minders assure him that he won't have time to be unmasked, and if he is Rudi will take steps (kill Hansen) to assure that the plan doesn't come unstuck. He's told to say 'Erik, old friend, where did you spring from?" when one of his co conspirators whispers Hansen in his ear. He messes it up, crying something like: 'Erik, old friend, this is the most springing surprise of my happy day!', but fortunately it doesn't give the game away, or at least doesn't seem to. An uninvited guest at the wedding is the revolutionary Karl Marx, or at least George MacDonald Fraser in his notes at the back of the book believes that the character protesting outside after the ceremony is the Father of Communism judging by the description Flashman provides.

After the wedding the happy couple, along with Starnberg and De Gautet, go to the royal hunting lodge in Strelhow. When Flashman performs his husbandly duty with Irma she is initially petrified with fear, but very soon warms to the task and becomes near insatiable in bed. Flashman naturally attributes this to his skill in bed, although possibly he awakened something dormant in the sheltered young woman. He also sings her a nursery rhyme in English to settle her, he doesn't think she paid any attention, but Fraser in the notes points out that the rhyme first appeared in German after the wedding, so she may have paid more attention than Harry thought at the time.

Flashman develops a friendship with De Gautet during the stay at the hunting lodge, largely born of the fact that both men have a good eye for horseflesh and are excellent riders. Flashman puts De Gautet as almost his equal which puts him up there with the Cheyenne, who Harry in an allusion to another adventure (possibly Flashman and the Redskins) judges as the best riders he's seen. He and the German go riding and De Gautet tries to kill him. Flashman in sheer desperation fights him off and uses the benefits of a British public school education to torture Bismarck's real plan out of the swordsman. The statesman had never intended to pay Flashman, he had always been going to kill him, and then tell everyone he was a British spy and when the region is plunged into revolution use the Prussian army to intervene and thus bring everyone under German rule. The real Carl Gustaf is being held in the dungeons of the old Strackenzian royal castle of Jotunberg, he never had venereal disease, and he and his body will be disposed of once Bismarck has word that Flashman is dead.

Flashman pushes De Gautet off a cliff and does what Harry Flashman does best - run for his life! He shelters at a farm house with the elderly farmer and his daughter and is delivered to a bunch of capable looking types, who are to Flashman's horror led by Erik Hansen. They quickly work out he's not the real Carl Gustaf and Harry is once again going to have to lie through his teeth to save his own worthless hide.

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