It was a quick, succinct read. It was also easy to follow. Nevertheless, the book does not hold long-standing value in the larger scheme of what composes literature. Flashman goes through the whole Slave trade cycle, being shanghai'd onto a slaver, and traveling to Africa. Having worked on newspapers in Britain and Canada he is perhaps most famous for his series of Flashman novels and his anti-hero Harry Flashman. In addition to his novels he also wrote numerous screenplays, most notably The Three Musketeers and the James Bond film Octopussy.
George MacDonald Fraser died in January at the age of Flash for Freedom! He was still occupied, though, what with brandy and the tables, and hunting — both kinds.
I was feeling pretty uneasy, then, when I ran up the steps and hammered on the front door. Oswald, the butler, raised a great cry when he saw who it was, because it was nowhere near the end of the half, and this brought other servants: they scented scandal, no doubt. My father had been sprawled on a settee, but he jumped up when he saw me. He had a glass in his hand and his face was flushed, but since both those things were usual it was hard to say whether he was drunk or not.
He stared at me, and then greeted the prodigal with:. At most times this kind of welcome would have taken me aback, but not now. There was a woman in the room, and she distracted my attention. She was a tall, handsome, hussy-looking piece, with brown hair piled up on her head and a come-and-catch-me look in her eye.
She was looking at me with a lazy, half-amused smile that sent a shiver up my back at the same time as it made me conscious of the schoolboy cut of my clothes. But it stiffened me, too, all in an instant, so that I answered his question pat:. Good God! He looked from the woman back to me, as though seeking enlightenment.
She seemed much amused by it, but seeing the old fellow in danger of explosion I made haste to explain what had happened. I was truthful enough, except that I made rather more of my interview with Arnold than was the case; to hear me you would suppose I had given as good as I got. But to my surprise he took it pretty well; he had never liked Arnold, of course. A pretty state of things, indeed. Expelled in disgrace, by gad!
Did he flog you? She had a deep husky voice, and I shivered again.
She smiled at me now, still with that half-amused look, and I preened myself — I was seventeen, remember — and sized up her points while the father got himself another glass and damned Arnold for a puritan hedge-priest. She was what is called junoesque, broad-shouldered and full-breasted, which was less common then than it is now, and it seemed to me she liked the look of Harry Flashman. I knew the 11th were at Canterbury, after long service in India, and unlikely for that reason to be posted abroad.
I had my own notions of soldiering. The port was making him quarrelsome, I could see, so I judged it best not to press him. He growled on:.enter site
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Damned nonsense. Never heard the like. Impudence, eh, Judy?
He was odd fish, all right; you could never tell how he would take anything. In the morning, though, when I met my father at breakfast, there was no talk of the army. He was too busy damning Brougham — who had, I gathered, made a violent attack on the Queen in the House 1 — and goggling over some scandal about Lady Flora Hastings 2 in the Post , to give me much attention, and left presently for his club.
Anyway, I was content to let the matter rest just now; I have always believed in one thing at a time, and the thing that was occupying my mind was Miss Judy Parsons. Let me say that while there have been hundreds of women in my life, I have never been one of those who are forever boasting about their conquests. But Judy has a close bearing on my story. Not that I was concerned on that account, for I fancied myself and rightly pretty well. She lived in the house — the young Queen was newly on the throne then, and people still behaved as they had under the Prince Regent and King Billy; not like later on, when mistresses had to stay out of sight.
I went up to her room before noon to spy out the land, and found her still in bed, reading the papers. She was glad to see me, and we talked, and from the way she looked and laughed and let me toy with her hand I knew it was only a question of finding the time. Sure enough, when I did come back, she was sitting prettying herself before her glass, wearing a bed-gown that would have made me a small handkerchief.
I came straight up behind her, took her big breasts out in either hand, stopped her gasp with my mouth, and pushed her on to the bed. She was as eager as I was, and we bounced about in rare style, first one on top and then the other.
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Which reminds me of something which has stayed in my head, as these things will: when it was over, she was sitting astride me, naked and splendid, tossing the hair out of her eyes — suddenly she laughed, loud and clearly, the way one does at a good joke. I believed then she was laughing with pleasure, and thought myself a hell of a fellow, but I feel sure now she was laughing at me.
I was seventeen, you remember, and doubtless she found it amusing to know how pleased with myself I was. I was annoyed at this, and got ugly, but she laughed at me again. I lost my temper, and tried to blackmail her by threatening to let my father find out about the night before, but she just curled her lip.
Now get out, and stick to servant girls after this. I went in a black rage, slamming the door, and spent the next hour striding about the Park, planning what I would do to her if I ever had the chance. After a while my anger passed, and I just put Miss Judy away in a corner of my mind, as one to be paid off when the chance came.
Oddly enough, the affair worked to my advantage. Whatever it was, his manner towards me changed abruptly; from harking back to my expulsion and treating me fairly offhand, he suddenly seemed sulky at me, and I caught him giving me odd looks, which he would hurriedly shift away, as though he were embarrassed. Anyway, within four days of my coming home, he suddenly announced that he had been thinking about my notion of the army, and had decided to buy me a pair of colours.
Obviously, my father wanted me out of the house, and quickly, so I pinned him then and there, while the iron was hot, on the matter of an allowance. A lot has been said about the purchase of commissions — how the rich and incompetent can buy ahead of better men, how the poor and efficient are passed over — and most of it, in my experience, is rubbish. Also, that they were close to town.
I said nothing of this to Uncle Bindley, but acted very keen, as though I was on fire to win my spurs against the Mahrattas or the Sikhs. He sniffed, and looked down his nose, which was very high and thin, and said he had never suspected martial ardour in me.
What concerns me is that you cannot, by report, hold your liquor. A noisy drunkard is intolerable; a passive one may do at a pinch. At least, if he has money; money will excuse virtually any conduct in the army nowadays, it seems. However, I took it all meekly. At that, you will be no worse than half the subalterns in the service, if no better.
George MacDonald Fraser
Ah, but wait. He commands the 11th, you know. He succeeded to the title only a year or so ago, while he was in India with the regiment. A remarkable man. I understand he makes no secret of his intention to turn the 11th into the finest cavalry regiment in the army. Certainly the matter of your colours must be pushed through without delay.
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