If only Flashman had got on with his dinner, and ignored the handkerchief dropped by a flirtatious hussy in a Calcutta hotel . . . well, American history would have been different, a disastrous civil war might have been avoided - and Flash Harry himself would have been spared one of the most hair-raising adventures of his misspent life.
If only . . . but alas, the arch-rotter of the Victorian age could never resist the lure of a pretty foot and this latest extract from 'The Flashman Papers' soon finds him careering towards the little Virginia town of Harper's Ferry, where John Brown and his gang of rugged fanatics were to fire the first shot in the great war against slavery.