Sunday, February 19, 2012
Flash for Freedom - Chapter 14
In the 14th and final chapter of Flash for Freedom Harry Flashman once again finds himself in the familiar position of having to lie through his teeth to save his unworthy skin.
He's been effectively told by John Charity Spring's lawyer to perjure himself or risk public humiliation and probably incarceration, if not more serious penalties.
Harry feels his way through the hearing and manages to not answer any incriminating questions by saying that to do so would be to forgo his duty as a British naval agent against the slave trade. The hearing degenerates into a farce and the court has no option, but to find the classic quoting slaving captain not guilty as they can't see what to charge him with, seeing as the key witness is unwilling to speak out.
Flashman escapes further prosecution as Spring walks free, but he's still got the problem of how to get home. The American navy won't help, and he doesn't have sufficient funds to purchase a passage to England, so he does the most unexpected thing.
He approaches Spring and asks him for a lift! Spring's reaction is much the same as mine when I read this for the first time. Has Harry Flashman taken complete and total leave of his senses? Spring's more likely to murder him than agree to ferry him back home. However I had forgotten about Harry's ace in the hole. Comber's documents. Flashman tells Spring he has them, and that they are kept somewhere safe (Spring obviously doesn't think the wily soldier would be daft enough to carry them on his person), if Spring agrees to get him home, or close enough to, then he'll hand the documents over and that will be the end of their association. Spring agrees, but threatens to drop Harry over the side if he's lying and he doesn't much care where he has to do it.
The packet ends with Flashman gleefully anticipating his next meeting with his father-in-law.
I did say this ended on a cliffhanger, and it kind of does. Up until Flash for Freedom the accounts had finished with Harry getting back home as the conquering hero. Flash for Freedom doesn't. Harry's not home, not by a long shot, at the very least he's got a passage from New Orleans to England with a homicidal maniac to deal with.
There's a cutting from a British paper pasted at the end, it is John Morrison's obituary. One can only imagine Flashman's glee at learning he'd outlived his miserly father-in-law.