Beau Sabreur – P.C. Wren

Back in the day, I had every intention of being a Legionnaire.

The country, colour and gender were all wrong, but then I would be a master of disguise of course. Today I read the sequel to Beau Geste, and I am afraid I do not remember Hank and Bud from the original novel. It had been so long ago, and I definitely have to go back and read Beau Geste when I am in my childhood home again. However, I still loved the adventure of Major de Beaujolais and the Sheikhs Hank and Bud immensely.

The first half of the novel is narrated by Henri de Beaujolais, the Etonian with a French father and English mother. He joins the blue Hussars as a volontaire. There he meets his loyal Dufour and also meets the villainous Becque for the first time. His Uncle the General has instilled in him Duty towards France is his highest ideal and aim. So it is to be a ‘tool in his hands’ when the right time came and to attain honour and glory is the public school boy waiting for. He is in the intelligence corps, and is a distinguished officer in a decade or so. As with Beau Geste, the narration shifts quickly to Afica and he meets the beautiful Mary Vanburgh in Zaguig. He also has to let Mary and her maid Maude tag along when he goes ahead to meet Bedouin Emir el Hamel el Kebir to sign a treaty with France. De Beaujolais lets his loyal followers fight Touaregs to death, and this greatly affects Mary though she’s falling in love with him. Especially after de Beaujolais tells her he would have left her and Maudie behind if he had only one camel. Of course he has falling in love with her by now, but Duty before everything else.

They do reach the Oasis where the Emir el Hamel el Kebir and his loyal vizier Sheikh el Habibka el Wazir rule over the Bedouin tribes. They are both magicians, men of honour and unknown to any two American deserters from the Foreign Legion. The entire story is a subdued laugh riot – if your sense of humour is akin to mine. In the end, unknowingly they allay Mary’s fear of ‘Bejolly’s love for her. The Emir decides to marry Maude and make her romantic dreams come true; Major de Beaujolais has no idea he just signed the most important treaty of his life with a fake Emir; Mary and de Beaujolais intend to marry once they reach civilization; and Hank and Bud plan to continue their adventure till the young would-be-Sheikh comes of age.

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