Thursday, January 10, 2013
Flashman's Lady Chapter 3
Chapter 3 of Flashman's Lady is where the brown smelly stuff really hits the fan.
It features a form of cricket I had never been aware of before. Haslam goads Harry into accepting a wager. They'll play cricket against each other. I'd never heard of playing cricket with two people before. There are all sorts of bizarre variations with beach cricket and backyard cricket and tippenny run, but they're very casual things. What Haslam proposed against Flashman was pretty serious. I hope the ICC don't get wind of this, they'll be sure to start putting on matches like this.
The cashed up Solomon proposes wagering a thousand pounds. Harry's confident that he can beat Haslam, but he doesn't have the money to match his opponent. Haslam gives him an out by saying that in the unlikely event Harry loses he gets to take Elspeth and Morrison on that cruise.
There are two flies in the ointment and they both are connected. Flashman has been having an affair with Mrs Leo Lade, who is the paramour of an old fashioned Duke, who is the patron of two bare knuckle boxers he uses as muscle. If the Duke finds out he will have no hesitation in setting them on Harry. The second is Tighe. Flashman has taken money from it and he can prove it. Unless Flashman does as he says then Tighe will ruin him publicly, inform the Duke that he's been cuckolded and probably have his own minders hand out a decent kicking as well.
Tighe wants Flashman to lose the match against Haslam. Harry's in two minds about it and he keeps changing before and during the game. He wants to win, but he doesn't want the fall out that will result. On the other hand if he loses and Elspeth sails off with Haslam at least he won't be there to see her being unfaithful to him, and he's always thought she was anyway.
During the game Harry's natural competitive instincts come to the fore and he does his level best to beat Haslam until it's too late and he spies an angry Tighe on the sidelines. Flashman manages to lose at last, however the game winds up as a tie.
So Harry has nearly humiliated himself and almost lost to a duffer all for nothing. Tighe doesn't get his stake back on a tie and Haslam claims that a tie gives him the right to take Elspeth away. There are some days it does not pay to get out of bed.
Readers are left in the dark as to how Harry is going to get out of facing Tighe and the Duke's leg breakers. It is left to Elspeth's diary entry to inform readers. He's decided to accompany her and her father on their trip. Using Elspeth's diary was seriously a stroke of genius by MacDonald Fraser.