Jingo Page 16


'Yes.'

'Well, supposing we assume that someone didn't pick up all the bits when they broke in?'

'For someone that doesn't like lying, Carrot, you can be quite devious, you know?'

'Just logical. There's glass outside the window, but all that means is that there is glass outside the window. Commander Vimes always says there're no such things as dues. It's how you look at them.'

'You think someone broke in and then carefully put the glass outside?'

'Could be.'

'Carrot? Why are we whispering?'

'No wimmin, remember?'

'And no pets,' said Angua. 'So she's got me coming and going. Don't look like that,' she added, when she saw his face. 'It's only bad taste if someone else says it. I'm allowed.' Carrot scratched up some more glass fragments. Angua looked under the bed and pulled out the battered magazines. 'Ye gods, do people really read this stuff?' she said, flicking through Bows and Ammo. ' “Testing the Locksley Reflex 7: A Whole Lotta Bow”… “Footsore! We test the Ten Best Caltrops!”... and what's this magazine... ? Warrior of Fortune?'

'There's always little wars somewhere,' said Carrot, pulling out the box of money. 'But will you look at the size of this axe here? “Get A Head, Get A Burleigh and Stronginthearm 'Streetsweeper' and Win By A Neck!” Well, it must be true what they say about men who like big weapons...'

'And that is?' said carrot, lifting the lid of the box. She looked at the top of his head. As always, Carrot radiated innocence like a small sun. But he'd... They'd... Surely he...

'They, er... they're rather small,' she said. 'Oh, that's true,' said Carrot, picking up some of the Klatchian coins. 'Look at dwarfs. Never happier than with a chopper the same size as them. And Nobby's fascinated by weapons and he's practically dwarfsized.', 'Er... ' Technically, Angua was sure she knew Carrot better than anyone else. She was pretty sure he cared a lot for her. He seldom said so, he just assumed that she knew. She'd known other men, although turning into a wolf for part of the month was one of those little flaws that could put any normal man off and, up until Carrot, always had. And she knew the sort of things men said in what might be called the heat of the moment and then forgot. But when Carrot said things, you knew that he felt that everything was now settled until further notice, so if she made any comment he'd be genuinely surprised that she'd forgotten what it was he had said and would probably quote date and time. And yet all the time there was this feeling that the greater part of him was always deep, deep inside, looking out. Noone could be so simple, no–one could be so creatively dumb, without being very intelligent. It was like being an actor. Only a very good actor was any good at being a bad actor. 'Rather a lonely person, our Nobby,' said Carrot. 'Well, yes...'

'But Im sure he'll find the right person for him,' Carrot added, cheerfully. Probably in a bottle, said Angua to herself. She remembered the conversation with him. It was a terrible thing to think, but there was somethin itchy about the thought of Nobby being allowed in pool, even at the shallow end. 'You know, these coins are odd,' said Carrot. 'How do you mean?' said Angua, grateful for the distraction. 'Why would he be paid in Klatchian wols? He wouldn't be able to spend them here, and the money changers don't give very good rates.' Carrot tossed a coin in the air and caught it. 'When we were leaving, Mr Vimes said to me, “Make sure you find the bunch of dates and the camel hidden under the pillow.” I think I know what he meant.'

'Sand on the floor,' said Angua. 'Now, isn't that an obvious clue? You can tell they were Klatchian because of the sand in their sandals!'

'But these cloves...' Carrot prodded the little bud. 'It's not as if it's a common habit, even among Klatchians. That's not a very obvious clue, is it?'

'It smells newer,' said Angua. 'I'd say he was here last night.'

'After Ossie was dead?'

'Yes.'

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'Why?'

'How should I know? What kind of name is 71–hour Ahmed?' said Angua. Carrot shrugged. 'I don't know. I think Mr Vimes thinks that someone in Ankh–Morpork wants us to believe that Klatchians paid to have the Prince

killed. That sounds... nasty but logical. But I don't understand why a real Klatchian would get involved...' Their eyes met. 'Politics?' they said together. 'For enough money, a lot of people would do anything,' said Angua. There was a sudden and ferocious knocking at the door. 'Have you got someone in there?' said Mrs Spent. 'Out of the window!' said Carrot. 'Why don't I just stay and rip her throat out?' said Angua. 'All right, all right, it was a joke, all right?' she said, swinging her legs over the sill. Ankh–Morpork no longer had a fire brigade. The citizens had a rather disturbingly direct way of thinking at times, and it did not take long for people to see the rather obvious flaw in paying a group of people by the number of fires they put out. The penny really dropped shortly after Charcoal Tuesday. Since then they had relied on the good old principle of enlightened self– interest. People living dose to a burning building did their best to douse the fire, because the thatch they saved might be their own. But the crowd watching the burning embassy were doing so in a hollow– eyed, distant way, as if it was all taking place on some distant planet. They moved aside automatically as Vimes elbowed his way through to the space in front of the gates. Flames were already licking from every groundfloor window, and they could make out scurrying silhouettes in the flickering light. He turned to the crowd. 'Come on! What's up with you? Get a bucket chain going!'

'It's their bloody embassy,' said a voice. 'Yeah. 's Klatchian soil, right?'

'Can't go on Klatchian soil.'

'That'd be an invasion, that would.'

'They wouldn't let us,' said a small boy holding a bucket. Vimes looked at the embassy gateway. There were a couple of guards. Their worried glances kept going back from the fire behind them to the crowd in front. They were nervous men, but it was much worse than that, because they were nervous men holding big swords. He advanced on them, trying to smile and holding his badge out in front of him. It had a shield on it. It was not a very big shield. 'Commander Vimes, Ankh–Morpork City Watch,' he said, in what he hoped was a helpful and friendly voice. A guard waved him away. 'Hyou be off!'

'Ah...' said Vimes. He looked down at the cobbles of the gateway and then back up at the guard. Somewhere in the flames someone was screaming.

'You! Come here! You see this?' he shouted at the guard, pointing down. The man took a hesitant step forward. 'That's Ankh–Morpork soil down there, my friend,' said Vimes. 'And you're standing on it and you're obstructing me in my–' he rammed his fist as hard as he could into the guard's stomach '–duty!' He was already kicking out as the other guard rushed him. He caught him on the knee. Something went click. It felt like Vimes's own ankle. Cursing and limping slightly, he ran on into the embassy and caught a scurrying man by his robe. 'Are there people still in there? Are there people in there?' The man gave Vimes a panicky look. The armfuls of paper he'd been carrying spilled on to the ground. Someone else grabbed his shoulder. 'Can you climb, Mr Vimes?'

'Who're–' The newcomer turned to the cowering paper–carrier and struck him heavily across the face. 'Rescuer of paper!' As the man fell back his turban was snatched from his head. 'This way!' The figure plunged off through the smoke. Vimes hurried after him until they reached a wall, with a drainpipe attached. 'How did you–?'

'Up! Up!' Vimes put one foot in the man's cupped hands, managed to get the other one on a bracket, and forced himself upwards. 'Hurry!' He managed to half climb, half pull himself up the pipe, little fireworks of pain exploding tip and down his legs as he reached a parapet and hauled himself over. The other man rose behind him as if he'd run up the wall. There was a strip of cloth hiding the lower half of his face. He thrust another strip towards Vimes. 'Across your nose and mouth!' he commanded. 'For the smoke!' It was boiling across the roof. Beside Vimes a chimneypot gushed a roaring tongue of flame. The rest of the unwound turban was thrust into his hands. 'You take this side, I'll take the other,' said the apparition, and darted away again into the smoke. 'But wh–' Vimes could feel the heat through his boots. He edged away across the roof, and heard the shouting coming from below. When he leaned over the edge here he could see the window some way below him. Someone had smashed a pane, because a hand was waving. There was more commotion down in the courtyard. Amid a press of figures he could make out the huge shape of Constable Dorfl, a golem and quite definitely fireproof. But Dorfl was bad enough at stairs as it was. There weren't many that could take the weight.

The hand in the smoke stopped waving. Vimes looked down again. Can you fly, Mr Vimes? He looked at the chimney, belching flame. He looked at the unwound turban. A lot of Sam Vimes's brain had shut down, although the bits relaying the twinges of pain from his legs were operating with distressing efficiency. But there were still some thoughts operating down around the core, and they delivered for his consideration the insight: ... tough–looking cloth... He looked back at the chimney. It looked stout enough. The window was about six feet below. Vimes began to move automatically. So, purely theoretically, if a man were to wrap one end of the cloth round the belching stack like this and pay it out like this and lower himself over the parapet like this and kick himself away from the wall like this, then when he swung back again his feet ought to be able to smash his way through the other panes of the window, like this… A cart squeaked along the wet street. Its progress was erratic because no two of its wheels were the same size, so it rocked and wobbled and skidded and probably involved more effort to pull than it saved overall, especially since its contents appeared to be rubbish. But then, so did its owner. Who was about the size of a man, but bent almost double, and was covered with hair or rags or quite possibly a matted mixture of both that was so felted and unwashed that small plants had taken root on it. If the thing had stopped walking and crouched down, it would have given an astonishingly good impression of a long–neglected compost heap. As it walked along, it snuffled. A foot was stuck out to impede its progress. 'Good evening, Stoolie,' said Carrot as the cart halted. The heap stopped. Part of it tilted upwards. 'Geroff,' it muttered, from somewhere in the thatch. 'Now, now, Stoolie, let's help one another, shall we? You help me, and I'll help you.'

'B'g'r'ff, c'p'r.'

'Well, you tell me things I want to know,' said Carrot, 'and I won't search your cart.'

'I hate gnolls,' said Angua. 'They smell awful.'

'Oh, that's hardly fair. The stressed be a lot dirtier without you and yours, eh, Stoolie?' said Carrot, still speaking quite pleasantly. 'You pick up this, you pick up that, maybe bash it against a wall until it stops struggling–'

' 's a vile acur'cy,' said the gnoll. There was a bubbling noise that might have been a chuckle.

'So I'm hearing you might know where Snowy Slopes is these days,' said Carrot. 'D'nno n'thin'.'

'Fine.' Carrot produced a three–tined garden fork and walked round to the cart, which dripped. 'D'nno n'thin' ab't–' said the gnoll quickly. 'Yes?' said Carrot, fork poised. 'D'nno n'thin' ab't t' sweetsp'p'n M'ney Tr'p L'ne.'

'The one with the Rooms To Let sign?'

'R't.'

'Well done. Thank you for being a good citizen,' said Carrot. 'Incidentally, we passed a dead seagull the way here. Its in Brewer Street. I bet if you hurried you could beat the rush.'

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