Sunday, February 12, 2012
Flash for Freedom - Chapter 10
Although Chapter 10 of Flash for Freedom is not the longest chapter in the book it is one of the most eventful.
Having escaped the riverboat with his skin still intact, unlike the luckless Randolph, who if the gun blast didn't kill him, the boat's paddle certainly did, Flashman has a decision to make. There are two banks he can make for. The shortest swim will put him on the Arkansas side, but that will be where he's most likely to be looked for, so he makes for the Mississippi bank.
Flashman's original intention is to work his way to the nearest port and then see if he can somehow scrape up passage home. Things don't work out quite that way and Harry finds himself living the life of a vagrant and cursing George Randolph's name with every breath. I have to say I agreed with him, if only Randolph had swallowed his pride for a few days both he and Flashman would have pulled it off and both been free to live the rest of their lives. I also wondered what had happened to the other 5 slaves with Randolph and how they had fared after the jig was up.
Harry hears of a plantation called Greystones who's driver has up and left for the diggings to make his fortune and decides to apply for the job. What he doesn't realise is that driving is a euphemism for overseer. It doesn't really make a lot of difference, even though it isn't what Flashman envisaged himself doing. Unsurprisingly for a bully Flashman makes a good overseer. He likens it to bullying the fags at Rugby, something else he was also good at.
Harry makes the best of his time at Greystones, the plantation owner; Mandeville, likes getting drunk with him and he installs a slave girl as his housekeeper and bedwarmer, although he does own she's not much good at either. The fly in the ointment comes in the form of the plantation's mistress; the elfin Annette Mandeville. Harry comes in from the field to find that Mrs Mandeville has ordered the girl be flogged. Harry's none too happy about it, but he accepts it as a spat between mistress and slave and installs another girl. However she meets the same fate. It's time for Harry to find out what is going on.
He had inklings that Annette Mandeville was greatly dissatisfied with her husband. She was well born and raised, her husband is a great deal older than her and while wealthy he is poorly educated and crude. Harry also believes he doesn't satisfy her in bed either. One thing leads to another and Harry and his mistress wind up in bed. One thing about Annette Mandeville ensures that Harry never forgets her. She wears boots and spurs to bed. Harry is acquainted with a hairbrush (Royal Flash), but not spurs. Eventually they are discovered by her husband and it all hits the fan.
The cuckolded plantation owner is all for stringing Harry up until a friend suggests a much worse fate. Harry has a dark complexion, he's passed for Indians and Afghans in the past. Mandeville's friend says that they can pass Harry off as a negro and living his life out as a slave would surely be a fate worse than death. Do you reckon things can get any worse?