Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Flash for Freedom - Chapter 6
In Chapter 6 of Flash for Freedom, our anti hero has appropriated the identity of dead naval lieutenant Beauchamp Comber and convinced the American authorities that he was in fact trying to put an end to John Charity Spring's nefarious trade, not assist it. Having been shot in the back by Looney, JC Spring isn't in a position to argue or denounce Flashman. The documents Harry had sewn into his belt only help to prove the truth of his story.
Once in the US, Harry has to scheme how to get out again, and back to England. The last thing he wants to do is testify against Spring. There are two issues at stake for him. Unfortunately Looney didn't kill the pyschotic former scholar, so therefore Flashman is still a little afraid of what might happen to him if he testifies and has Spring convicted. Secondly Spring can quite possibly prove that Flashman isn't Comber, he may be able to get out of any charges, because he wasn't a registered crew member, being taken on as a supercargo, but the resulting fall out would ruin him back home.
He seems to be carrying his deception off quite successfully until he meets an interesting chap at a dinner party. He is described thus: 'He was an unusually tall man, with the ugliest face you ever saw, deep dark eye sockets and a chin like a coffin, and a black cow's lick of hair smeared across his forehead.' Now if that description hasn't given it away the man Flashman is referring to is Abraham Lincoln, at this stage he was not President, but serving his one and only term as a Congressman. George MacDonald Fraser was not only unflattering in his physical description of the revered President, he was equally blunt in his assessment via Flashman of the man's politics and character. Fraser's Lincoln is a practical man, blunt in his speech and forthright with his opinions. In fact Flashman believes they are both rogues, they just go about things differently.
Abraham Lincoln is one of the few men who sees right through Flashman, and knows he isn't a naval lieutenant. He also believes that he's not as honourable or as innocent as he would like people to believe, although later actions in this and other books indicate that he had fallen for the hero myth that Harry creates for himself. It suits Lincoln's purposes to not expose Flashman as a fraud, he's still needed to testify against Spring.
There's two places where Flashman may end up; Baltimore or New Orleans. He'd prefer Baltimore as he feels he can get away easier from that port, but he's required at New Orleans, so that's where he's shipped off to and where he plans his escape from.