First published in The Saturday Evening Post (January 7, 1911) and then in The Innocence of Father Brown collection (1911). This edition: The Complete Father Brown Mysteries (Carousel Books, 2021). SPOILERS AHEAD?
So it's Paul, is it? We get our little priest's Christian name all matter-of-factly, flatly. That delivery is fine, I guess. Paul the Apostle was a great communicator (letter-writing a specialty). Like Father Brown, he was physically unassuming.
This tale, however, is not well-communicated. Flambeau's utter confusion throughout continues to make me wonder about his ultimate success as a private detective. Moreso, I wondered at Father's inability to cue him in which scanned as being intentionally obtuse. I might be biased though, as I hate riddles. "I can't prove it; but I can do more--I can see it." Says Brown in a mystic manner alongside those riddles.
That's fine too, but could this have been done in such a way as to allow Flambeau a bit more savviness? Maybe. Also, why are we even looking at this mystery of history? At whose bequest? A certain now-dead Brazilian named Espado('s) perhaps? Why then though? Most likely just to posit a question that isn't here answered fully. Is it right for followers not to be aware of the evil of those they follow?
Look at all those question marks I just typed. My oh my. A cover-up to the tune of nearly a thousand slaughtered soldiers placed with a river to their backs. All to protect the pride of a country and a daughter thereof. A traitor allowed to be worshipped as a hero... doesn't seem worth it at all. So it's a tale of injustice. Now that Father Brown has uncovered all this mess, should he get that justice by serving it up cold and unveiling the truth to all? But would that really be justice and whose? More question marks.
He just comes across as nosy, to be honest. And again, Flambeau comes across as downright dim-witted. This reads like a poorly-booked pro wrestling program where neither worker comes out any better than before and perhaps worse off at that. But it is all food for thought. Or drink for thought.
"Come, it's cold," cried father brown; "let's have some beer or wine."
"Or brandy," said Flambeau.
Hard drink for thought, then. Seems apropos. I can't help but wonder if this one is written by a GK Chesterton far less certain of certain things; even though his Orthodoxy was already a few years in the rears. How about we find a moral to this tale and wrap up our little exercise that way... don't ask questions you don't want answered. Good advice, sure, but I'm less than sure of that being the intent here.
Previously: Thoughts on The Eye of Apollo from The Innocence of Father Brown by GK Chesterton
Next: Thoughts on The Three Tools of Death from The Innocence of Father Brown by GK Chesterton
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