Jingo Page 47


'Are you any good with a pencil, captain?' said Lord Vetinari innocently. 'No, he's not!' said Vimes. 'Do you actually have a hurdle?'

'No!' snapped Vimes. 'Oh? Well, I believe there's a sports equipment shop in Sheer Street. just in case, Sir Samuel.' A figure walked across the trampled sand near Gebra, and paused when a voice very near ground level said, hopefully, 'Bingeley–bingeley beep?'

The Dis–organizer felt itself being picked up. WHAT KIND OF A THING ARE YOU? 'I am the Dis–organizer Mk II, with many handy hard–touse features, Insert Name Here!' SUCH AS? Even the Dis–organizer's tiny mind felt slightly uneasy. The voice it was speaking to didn't sound right. 'I know what time it is everywhere,' it ventured. SO DO I. 'Er... I can maintain an up–to–the–minute contacts directory...' The Dis– organizer felt movements that suggested the new owner had mounted a horse. REALLY? I HAVE A GREAT MANY CONTACTS. 'There you are, then,' said the demon, trying to hold on to its rapidly draining enthusiasm. 'So I make a note of them, and when you want to contact them again–' THAT IS GENERALLY NOT NECESSARY. MOSTLY, THEY STAY CONTACTED. 'Well... do you have many appointments?' There were hoofbeats, and then no sound but rushing wind. MORE THAN YOU COULD POSSIBLY IMAGINE. NO... I THINK, PERHAPS, YOUR TALENTS COULD BE BETTER EMPLOYED ELSEWHERE... There was more rushing wind, and then a splash. The Rats Chamber was crowded. Guild leaders were entitled to be there, but there were plenty of other people who considered they had a right to be in at the death too. There were even some of the senior wizards. Everyone wanted to be able to say to their grandchildren 'I was there'. 17 'I feel certain I ought to be wearing more chains,' said Vetinari, as they paused in the doorway and looked at the assembled crowd. 'Are you taking this seriously, sir?' said Vimes. 'Incredibly seriously, commander, I assure you. But if by some chance I survive, I authorize you to buy some shackles. We must learn to do this sort of thing properly.'

'I shall keep them handy, I assure you.'

'Good.' The Patrician nodded at Lord Rust, who was flanked by Mr Boggis and Lord Downey. 'Good morning,' he said. 'Can we make this quick? It's going to be a busy day.' 17 Although of course wizards aren't allowed to, because they're not supposed to have grandchildren.

'It pleases you to continue to make Ankh–Morpork a laughing stock,' Rust began. His glance flicked to Vimes for a moment, and wrote him out of the universe. 'This is not a formal trial, Lord Vetinari. It is an arraignment so that the charges may be known. Mr Slant tells me that it will be many weeks before a full trial can be mounted.'

'Expensive weeks no doubt. Shall we get on with it?' said Vetinari. 'Mr Slant will read the charges,' said Rust. 'But in a nutshell, as you are well aware, Havelock, you are charged with treason. You surrendered most ignobly–'

'–but I did not–'

'–and quite illegally waived all rights to our sovereignty of the country known as Leshp–'

'–but there is no such place.' Lord Rust paused. 'Are you quite sane, sir?'

'The surrender terms were to be ratified on the island of Leshp, Lord Rust. There is no such place.'

'We passed it on the way here, man!'

'Has anyone looked recently?' Angua tapped Vimes on the shoulder. 'A strange wave came up the river just after we arrived, sir–' There was some urgent conversation among the wizards, and Archchancellor Ridcully stood up. 'There seems to be a bit of a problem, your lordships. The Dean says it really isn't there.'

'It's an island. Are you suggesting someone's stolen it? Are you sure you know where it is, man?'

'We do know where it is, and it isn't there. There's just a lot of seaweed and wreckage,' said the Dean coldly. He stood up, holding a small crystal ball in his hands. 'We've been watching it most evenings. For the fights, you know. Of course, the picture is pretty bad at this distance––' Rust stared at him. But the Dean was too large to be written out of the scene. 'But an entire island can't just vanish,' said Rust. 'In theory they can't just appear either, my lord, but this one did.'

'Perhaps it's sunk again,' said Carrot. Now Rust glared at Vetinari. 'Did you know about this?' he demanded. 'How could I know something like that?' Vimes watched the faces around the room. 'You do know something about this!' said Rust. He glanced towards Mr Slant, who was leafing hurriedly through a large volume. 'All I know, my lord, is that Prince Cadram has, at a politically dangerous time for him, given up a huge military advantage in exchange for an island

which seems to have sunk under the sea,' said Lord Vetinari. 'The Klatchians are a proud people. I wonder what they will think?' And Vimes thought about General Ashal, standing beside Prince Cadram's throne. Klatchians like successful leaders, he thought. I wonder what happens to the unsuccessful ones? I mean, look at what when we think– Someone nudged him. '

's us, sir,' said Nobby. 'They said they didn't have any hurdles but they do a ping–pong table for ten dollars. There's a small trampoline we could drag him on but sarge thinks that'd be a bit ridiculous.' Vimes walked out of the room, dragging Nobby with him, and pushed the little man against the wall. 'Where did you get to with Vetinari, corporal? And remember I know when you tell me lies. Your lips move. 'We... we... we... just went on a little voyage, sir. He said I wasn't to say we went under the island, sir!'

'So you – Under Leshp?'

'Nossir! We didn't go down there! Stinking hole it was, too. Stunk of rotten eggs, the whole bloody cave, and as big as the city, believe me!'

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'I bet you're glad you didn't go, then.' Nobby looked relieved. 'That's right, sir.' Vimes sniffed. 'Are you using some kind of aft–' – he corrected himself – 'some kind of insteadofshave, Nobby?'

'No, sir?'

'Something smells of fermented flowers.'

'Oh, it's just a souvenir I picked up in foreign parts, sir. It kind of lingers, if you know what I mean.' Vimes shrugged and went back into the Rats Chamber. '–and I resent most strongly the suggestion that I would have negotiated with His Highness in the knowledge that... ah, Sir Samuel. The keys to the handcuffs, please.'

'You knew! You knew all the time!' Rust shouted. 'Is Lord Vetinari charged with anything?' said Vimes. Mr Slant was scrabbling through another volume. He looked quite flustered, for a zombie. His greygreen shade was distinctly greener. 'Not as such...' he muttered. 'But he will be!' said Lord Rust. 'Well, when you find out what it is you be sure and let me know, and I'll go and arrest him for it,' said Vimes, unlocking the handcuffs. He was aware of cheering outside. Nothing stayed secret very long in Ankh-Morpork. The damn island wasn't there any more. And, somehow, it had all worked out. He met Vetinari's eyes. 'Piece of luck for you,– eh?' he said. 'Oh, there's always a chicken, Sir Samuel. If you look hard enough.'

The day turned out to be nearly as trying as war. At least one carpet made the flight from Klatch, and there was a constant stream of messages between the palace and the embassy. A crowd still hung around outside the palace. Things were happening, and even if they did not know what they were they weren't going to miss them. If any history was going to occur, they wanted to watch it. Vimes went home. To his amazement, the door was answered by Willikins. He had his sleeves rolled up and was wearing a long green apron. 'You? How the hell did you get back so quickly?' said Vimes. 'Sorry. I didn't mean to be impolite–'

'I inveigled myself on to Lord Rust's ship in the general confusion, sir. I did not wish to let things go to rack and ruin here. The silverware is frankly disgusting, I am afraid. The gardener does not have the least idea how to do it. Allow me to apologize in advance for the shocking condition of the cutlery, sir.'

'A few days ago you were biting people's noses off!'

'Ah, you must not believe Private Bourke, sir,' said the butler, as Vimes stepped in. 'It was only one nose.'

'And now you've hurried back to polish the silver?'

'It does not do to let standards slip, sir.' He stopped. ‘Sir?'

'Yes?'

'Did we win?' Vimes looked into the round pink face. 'Er... we didn't lose, Willikins,' he said. 'We couldn't let a foreign despot raise a hand to Ankh-Morpork, could we, sir?' said the butler. There was a slight tremble in his voice. 'I suppose not...'

'So it was right, what we did.'

'I suppose so...'

'The gardener was saying that Lord Vetinari put one over on the Klatchians, sir...'

'I don't see why not. He's done it with everyone else.'

'That would be very satisfactory, sir. Lady Sybil is in the Slightly Pink Drawing Room, sir.' She was knitting inexpertly when Vimes came in, but rose and gave him a kiss. 'I heard the news,' she said. 'Well done.' She looked him up and down. As far as she could see, he was all there. 'I'm not sure that we won...'

'Getting you back alive counts as a win, Sam. Although of course I wouldn't say that in front of Lady Selachii.' Sybil waved the knitting at him. 'She's organized a committee to knit socks for our brave lads at the front, but it turns out you're back. And I haven't even worked out how to turn a heel yet. She's probably going to be annoyed.'

'Er.. . how long do you think my legs are?'

'Um...' She looked at the knitting. 'Do you need a scarf?' He kissed her again. 'I'm going to have a bath and then something to eat,' he said. The water was only lukewarm. Vimes had some hazy idea that Sybil thought that really hot baths might be letting the side down while there was a war on. He was lying with his nose just above the surface when he heard, with the addition of that special gloinggloing sound that comes from listening with your ears underwater, some distant talking. Then the door opened. 'Fred's here. Vetinari wants you,' said Sybil. 'Already? But we haven't even started dinner.'

'I'm coming with you, Sam. He can't keep on calling you out at all hours, you know.' Sam Vimes tried to look as serious as any man can when he's holding a loofah. 'Sybil, Im the Commander of the Watch and he's the ruler of the city. It's not like going to complain to the teacher because I'm not doing well in geography...'

'I said I'm coming with you, Sam.' The Boat slipped down its rails and into the water. A stream of bubbles came up. Leonard sighed. He had very carefully refrained from putting the cork in. The current n–tight roll it anywhere. He hoped it'd roll to the deepest pit of the ocean, or even right over the Rim. He walked unnoticed through the crowds until he came to the palace. He let himself into the secret corridor and avoided the various traps without thinking, since he himself had designed them. He reached the door to his airy room and unlocked it. When he was inside he locked it again, and pushed the key back under the door. And then he sighed. So that was the world, was it? Clearly a mad place, with madmen in it. Well, from now on he'd be careful. It was clear that some men would try to turn anything into a weapon. He made himself a cup of tea, a process slightly delayed while he designed a better sort of spoon and a small device to improve the circulation of the boiling water. Then he sat back in his special chair and pulled a lever. Counterweights dropped. Somewhere, water sloshed from one tank to another. Bits of the chair creaked and slid into a comfortable position. Leonard stared bleakly out of the skylight. A few seabirds turned lazily in the blue square, circling, hardly moving their wings... After a while, his tea growing cold, Leonard began to draw.

'Lady Sybil? This is an unexpected surprise,' said Lord Vetinari. 'Good evening, Sir Samuel, and may I say what a nice scarf you're wearing. And Captain Carrot. Please sit down. We have a lot of business to finish.' They sat. 'Firstly,' said Lord Vetinari, 'I have just drafted a proclamation for the town criers. The news is good.'

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