Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Just five words

. . . I begged leave to withdraw and loafed off, leaving the three wise men to blink at each other and resume their chorus of “What is to be done?” — five words which are as sound a motto for disaster as I know. I've heard ’em at Kabul before the Retreat, at Cawnpore, on the heights above the North Valley at Balaclava, and I won't swear someone wasn't croaking them as we laboured up the Greasy Grass slope behind G.A. Custer, God rest his fat-headed soul. No one ever knows the answer, you see, so everyone looks blank until the man in command (in this case Good Prince Edward) makes up his mind in panic, and invariably does the wrong thing.

Flashman and the Tiger, pp.221-2, Harper Collins, paperback edition 2000.

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