Saturday, March 31, 2012

Flashman at the Charge - Chapter 12

The 12th and final chapter of Flashman at the Charge is one where not a lot happens. It's really just a way of wrapping up the adventure.

Before that can happen though readers have to find out why Harry was so insanely brave in the previous chapter. Flashman himself wants the answer to that one. It bothers him, his cowardice is a part of him, it''s kept him alive many a time. The person best placed to answer this is the Silk One, she was the last person he saw before he turned into Harry the Brave.

As usual she skirts around issue, carrying on one of her seemingly nonsensical conversations with the kitten. Harry begs her to talk to him and not the cat, and she does. She refers again to the Old Man of the Mountain, she had asked Flashman about him before and Harry had admitted the name meant nothing to him. What the Silk One is referring to is Hassan el Sabbah, often referred to as the Old Man of the Mountains. He is covered in Fraser's notes. Hassan el Sabbah began the cult of the Assassin. They were originally known as hasheesheen which was altered to assassin. They were in the habit of taking opium before they killed. The Silk One was aware of this and even knew how to administer opium to produce the desired result.

She needed a brave Flashman to help Yakub Beg. Unlike many others Ko Dali's daughter knew Harry was a coward, she doesn't see it as a weakness, fear to her isn't necessarily that, all men have fear in them she says. However a cowardly Flashman wasn't going to get the job done against the Russians, so she put opium in Harry's kefir and his bravery at the fort was the result.

Harry leaves soon after and is given an Afghan escort by Yakub Beg. There's a rather poignant passage when they reach Kabul, and Harry goes through the British base at the city remembering events from Flashman. The book ends with Harry, dressed in full native costume, arriving at Peshawar trying to convince the British troops there that despite all appearance he is Colonel Harry Flashman of the 17th Lancers.

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