Jingo Page 12


And a slight cast in one eye. Scarred. He was carrying a large weapon. Curved, I'd say. And you'd have to call what he was wearing a turban because it wasn't moving fast enough to be a badger.' Littlebottom looked astonished. 'Detectoring is like gambling,' said Vimes, putting down the dove. 'The secret is to know the winner in advance. Thank you, corporal. Write down that description and make sure everyone gets a copy, please. He goes by the name of 71–hour Ahmed, heaven knows why. And then go and get some rest.' Vimes turned to face Carrot and Angua, who had crammed into the tiny little room, and nodded at the girl. 'I followed the clove smell all the way down to the docks,' she said. 'And then?'

'Then I lost it, sir.' Angua looked embarrassed. 'I didn't have any trouble through the fish market, sir. Or in the slaughterhouse district. And then it went into the spice market–'

'Ah. I see. And didn't come out again?'

'In a way, sir. Or came out going fifty different ways. Sorry.'

'Can't be helped. Carrot?'

'I did what you said, sir. The top of the Opera House is about the right distance from our archery butts. I used a bow just like the one he used, sir–' Vimes raised a finger. Carrot stared, and then said slowly: like the one you found next to him.. .' ,Right. And?'

'It's a Burleigh and Stronginthearm “Shureshotte Five”, sir. A bow for the expert. I'm not a great bowman but I could at least hit the target at that elevation. But...'

'I'm ahead of you,' said Vimes. 'You're, a big lad, Carrot. Our late Ossie had arms like Nobby. I could put my hand round them.'

'Yes, sir. It's a hundred–pound draw. I doubt if he could even pull the string back.'

'I'd hate to watch him try. Good grief... the only thing he could be sure of hitting with a bow like that would be his foot. By the way, do you think anyone saw you up there?'

'I doubt it, sir. I was right in among the chimneys and the air vents.' Vimes sighed. 'Captain, I expect if you'd done it in a cellar at midnight his lordship would have said “Wasn't it rather dark down there?” next morning.' He took out the by now rather creased picture. There was Carrot – or at least Carrot's arm and ear – as he ran towards the procession. And there, among the people in the procession turning to look at him, was the face of the Prince. There was no sign of 71–hour Ahmed. He'd been at the soiree, hadn't he? But then there'd been all that milling around at the door, people changing places, treading on one another's robes, nipping back to the privy, walking into one another... He could have gone anywhere.

'And the Prince fell as you got to him? With the arrow in his back? He was still facing you?'

'Yes, sir. I'm sure of that. Everyone else was milling around, of course.. .'

'So he was shot in the back by a man in front of him who could not possibly have used the bow that he didn't shoot him with from the wrong direction. . There was a tapping at the window. 'That'll be Downspout,' said Vimes, without looking round. 'I sent him on an errand...' Downspout never quite fitted in. It wasn't that he didn't get on with people, because he hardly ever met people, except those whose activities took them above, say, second–floor level. Constable Downspout's beat was the rooftops. Very slowly. He'd come down for the Watch's Hogswatch party and had poured gravy in his ears to show Willing, but gargoyles got very nervy indoors at ground level and he had soon exited via the chimney and his paper squeaker had echoed out forlornly amongst the snowy rooftops all night. But gargoyles were good at watching, and good at remembering, and very, very good at being patient. Vimes opened the window. Moving jerkily, Downspout unfolded himself into the room and then quickly scrambled up on to a corner of Vimes's desk, for the comfort that it brought. Angua and Carrot stared at the arrow the gargoyle held in his hand. 'Ah, well done,' said Vimes, in the same even voice. 'Where did you find it, Downspout?' Downspout spluttered a series of guttural syllables only pronounceable by someone with a mouth shaped like a pipe. 'In the wall on the second floor of the dress shop in the Plaza of Broken Moons,' Carrot translated. '

'eshk,' said Downspout. 'That's barely halfway to Sator Square, sir.'

'Yes,' said Vimes. 'A small weak man trying to pull a heavy bow, the arrow wobbling all over the place... Thank you very much, Downspout. There will be an extra pigeon for you this week.'

' 'nkorr,' said Downspout, and clambered back out of the window. 'Excuse me, sir?' said Angua. She took the arrow from Vimes and, closing her eyes, sniffed at it gingerly. 'Oh, yes... Ossie,' she said. 'All over it . . 'Thank you, corporal. It's as well to be sure.' Carrot took the arrow from the werewolf and looked at it critically. 'Huh. Peacock feathers and a plated point. It's the sort of thing an amateur buys because he thinks it'll magically improve his shot. Showy.'

'Right,' said Vimes. 'You, Carrot, and you, Angua... you're on the case.'

'Sir, I don't understand,' said Carrot. 'I am perplexed. I thought you said Fred and Nobby were investigating this?'

'Yes,' said Vimes. 'But–'

'Sergeant Colon and Corporal Nobbs are investigating why the late Ossie tried to kill the Prince. And do you know what? They're going to find lots of clues. I just know it. I can feel it in my water.'

'But we know he couldn't–' said Carrot. 'Isn't this fun?' said Vimes. 'I don't want you to get in Fred's way. Just... ask around. Try Done It Duncan, Or Sidney Lopsides, hah, there's a man with his ear to the ground all right. Or the Agony Aunts, or Lily Goodtime. Or Mr Slider, haven't seen him around for a while, but–'

'He's dead, sir,' said Carrot. 'What, Smelly Slider? When?'

'Last month, sir. He got hit by a falling bedstead. Freak accident, sir.'

'No–one told me.'

'You were busy, sir. But you put some money in the envelope when Fred brought it round, sir. Ten dollars, which Fred remarked was very generous.' Vimes sighed. Oh, yes, the envelopes. Fred was always wandering around with an envelope these days. Someone was always leaving, or some friend of the Watch was in trouble, or there was a raffle, or the tea money was low again, or some complicated explanation... so Vimes just put some money in. Simplest way. Old Smelly Slider... 'You should've mentioned it,' he said reproachfully. 'You've been working hard, sir.'

'Any other street news you haven't mentioned, captain?'

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'Not that I can think of, sir.'

'All right. Well... see which way the wind is blowing. Very carefully. And – trust no–one.' Carrot looked worried. 'Er... I can trust Angua, can't I?' he said. 'Well, of course you––'

'And you, presumably.'

'Me, well, obviously. That goes without say–'

'Corporal Littlebottom? She can be very helpful–'

'Cheery, yes, certainly you can trust–'

'Sergeant Detritus? I always thought he was very trust––'

'Detritus, oh yes, he–'

'Nobby? Should I–'

'Carrot, I understand what he means,' said Angua, tugging his arm. Carrot looked a little crestfallen. 'I've never liked... you know, underhand things,' he mumbled.

'I don't want any written reports,' said Vimes, grateful for that small mercy. 'This is... unofficial. But officially unofficial, if you see what I mean.' Angua nodded. Carrot just stayed looking dismal. She's a werewolf, thought Vimes, of course she understands. And you'd think a man who is technically a dwarf'd be able to fold his head around the idea of subterfuge. 'Look, just... listen to the streets,' said Vimes. 'The streets know everything. Talk to... Blind Hugh–'

'I'm afraid he passed away last month,' said Carrot. 'Did he? No–one told me!'

'I thought I sent you a memo, sir.' Vimes glanced guiltily at his overloaded desk, and then shrugged. 'Have a quiet look at things. Get to the bottom of things. And trust no– Trust practically no–one. All right? Except trustworthy people.'

'Come on, open up! Watch business!' Corporal Nobbs pulled at Sergeant Colon's sleeve and whispered in his ear. 'Not Watch business!' said Colon, pounding the door again. 'Nothing to do with the Watch at all! We are just civilians, all right?' The door opened a crack. 'Yes?' said a voice that counted its small change. 'We have to ask you some questions, missus.'

'Are you the Watch?' said the voice. 'No! I think I just made that clear– 'Piss off, copper!' The door slammed. 'You sure this is the right place, sarge?'

'Harry Chestnuts said he saw Ossie going in here. Come on, open up!'

'Everyone's looking at us, sarge,' said Nobby. Doors and windows had opened all along the street. 'And don't call me sarge when we're in plain clothes!'

'Right you are, Fred.'

'That's–' Colon hesitated in an agony of status. 'Well, that's Frederick to you, Nobby.'

'And they're giggling Fred... er... crick.'

'We don't want to make a cock–up of this, Nobby.'

'Right, Frederick. And that's Cecil, thank you.'

'Cecil?'

'That is my name,' said Nobby coldly. 'Have it your way,' said Colon. 'Just remember who's the superior civilian around here, all right?' He hammered on the door again. 'We hear you've got a room to let, missus!' he yelled.

'Brilliant, Frederick,' said Nobby. 'That was bloody brilliant!'

'Well, I am the sergeant, right?' Colon whispered. 'No.'

'Er... yeah... right... well, just you remember that, right?' The door snapped open. The woman within had one of those faces that had settled over the years, as though it had been made of butter and then left in the sun. But age hadn't been able to do much with her hair. It was a violent ginger and piled up like a threatening thunderhead. 'Room? You shoulda said,' she said. 'Two dollars a week, no pets, no cookin', no wimmin after 6 a.m., if you don't want it thousands do, are you with the circus? You look like you're with the circus.' 5 'We're–' Colon began, and then stopped. There were undoubtedly a large number of things to be apart from policemen, but there and then he couldn't think of any of them. '–actors,' said Nobby. 'Then it's payment a week in advance,' said the woman. 'And no filthy foreign habits. This is a respectable house, she added, in defiance of evidence so far. 'We ought to see the room first,' said Colon. 'Oh, the choosy sort, eh?' She led them upstairs. The room vacated so terminally by Ossie was small and bare. A few items of clothing hung on nails in the wall. and a heap of wrappers and greasy bags indicated that Ossie had been a man who ate, as it were, off the street. 'Whose is this stuff?' said Sergeant Colon. 'Oh, he's gone now. I told him he'd be out if he didn't pay up. I'll throw it out afore you settle in.'

'We'll get rid of it for you,' said Sergeant Colon. He fumbled in his pouch and produced a couple of dollars. 'Here you are, Miss–?'

'Mrs Spent,' said Mrs Spent. She gave them a lopsided look. 'Are you both stopping here or what?'

'Nah, I've just come along as his chaperon,' said Colon, giving her a friendly grin. 'He has to fight women off when they find out about his sexual magnetism.' Mrs Spent gave the shocked Nobby a sharp look and bustled out of the room. 'What'd you go and say that for?' said Nobby. 'It's got rid of her, hasn't it?' 5 Plain clothes was the problem. Both the men had been used to uniforms all their lives. Sergeant Colon's only suit had been bought by a man two stone lighter and ten years younger, so the buttons creaked under tension, and Nobby's idea of plain clothes was the ribbon–and-bell-bedecked costume he wore as a leading member of the Ankh–Morpork Folk Dance and Song Society. Small children had followed them in the street to see where the show was going to be.

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