Posts Tagged ‘Dumas’

English Hystery

Posted in General, On This Day on January 30th, 2011 by Eugene Finerman – 5 Comments

Once upon a time, an English king had a stammer.  However, thanks to a decisive form of surgery, Charles I was cured.  That therapy happened on this day in 1649.

But some 350 years late, my friend Hal Gordon is still trying to save King Charles.  Hal has taken up fencing so he is ready to skewer entire regiments of Roundheads.  Unfortunately, time travel remains a challenge.  Hal’s first attempt transported him 750,000 years into the future where he found himself siding with the Morlocks.  (Well, Hal is a Republican.)

Even worse for Hal, it seems that Charles I defies rescue.  The Four Musketeers tried it in “Twenty Years After.”  (Actually, the sequel to “The Three Musketeers” came out just a year later.  Dumas had no problem with writer’s block; he had a staff of ghostwriters.)  The Musketeers think they have the rescue plan all worked out.  The real axeman is kidnapped and replaced by one of the Frenchmen; the others are hiding under the scaffold.  Somehow they will snatch the king, fight their way out of London and make it to the ship awaiting them in the Channel. 

Will they need a miracle?  As a matter of fact, they do have an omniscient power on their side:  Oliver Cromwell.  He knows exactly what they are planning and intends to let them succeed–up to a point.  Cromwell prefers not to be blamed for regicide, so he will let Charles escape–at least from England.  But, if the ship in the Channel should mysteriously explode before reaching France, Cromwell can’t be blamed for that.  (Only suspected.)

In any case, Charles should have survived the scaffold.  However, the Musketeers’ hopes, Cromwell’s scheme and King Charles’ neck are spoiled by Mordaunt, the thoroughly vindictive son of Lady DeWinter.  With his Oedipal devotion, Mordaunt is determined to kill everyone from the first novel.  He, too, disguises himself as an axeman and he gets to the scaffold ahead of the musketeer.   Now, if John Woo had worked for Dumas, there could have a great dueling scene between the two axemen.  But Dumas simply has Mordaunt kill the king; the author saves the climactic confrontation abroad the floating bomb in the English Channel. 

(You will be relieved to know that the Musketeers survive, and there is no vindictive grandson of Lady DeWinter in “The Man in the Iron Mask”.)

However, I digress–which is my usual means of communication.  But if Hal can travel back to the 17th century, so might someone else–not merely to spoil the rescue but to make “Paradise Lost” funny.

And now for a  factual account of this day’s history: