'And if you're wondering where that dim little girl of yours is, she's back there with the fat girl. Honestly, what must you think of me?'

'Nothing, right up until you said that,' said Trev. 'And now I do.'

'Give my best to the orc,' said Andy. 'Shame to hear he's the last one.'

They strolled on, but Trev was quick enough to get out of the way before Mrs Atkinson sliced at his leg with her stick.

Find Juliet. Find Nutt. Find Glenda. Find help. Find a ticket to Fourecks.

Trev had never fought. Never really fought. Oh, there had been times when he was younger when he was drawn into a bit of a ruck and it was politic to be among the other kids, holding a makeshift weapon in his hands. He'd been so good at appearing to be everywhere, shouting a lot and then running into the thick of the fray, but never actually catching up with the real action. He could go to the Watch and tell them... that Andy had been threatening? Andy was always threatening. When trouble struck in the Shove as it sometimes did, when two tribes were brought into conjunction, there was always the forest of legs to dive between and once, when Trev had been really desperate, a number of shoulders to run across... What was he thinking? He wouldn't be there. He wasn't going to play. He'd promised his old mum. Everyone knew he'd promised his old mum. He'd like to play, but his old mum wouldn't like it. It was as if his old mum had written him a note: Dear Andy, please do not knife Trevor today because he has promised not to play.

He blinked away the sensation that a knife was already hurtling towards him and heard the voice of Nutt saying, 'Oh, I have heard about Bu-bubble.' There was Glenda and Juliet and Nutt and Juliet and a slightly worried young lady with a notebook and Juliet. There was also Juliet, but it was hard to even notice her because Juliet was there.

'She says she wants to write an article,' said Glenda, who had clearly waylaid the journalist. 'Her name is Miss - '

'Roz,' said the girl. 'Everyone's talking about you, Mister Nutt. Would you answer a few questions, please? We have a very now audience.'

'Yes?' he ventured.

'How does it feel to be an orc, Mister Nutt?'

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'I am not sure. How does it feel to be human?' said Nutt.

'Have your experiences as an orc affected the way you will play football?'

'I will only be playing as a substitute. My role is merely that of a trainer. And, I have to say, in answer to your question, I'm not sure I have had many experiences as an orc up until now.'

'But are you advising the players to rip opponents' heads off?' the girl giggled.

Glenda opened her mouth, but Nutt said solemnly, 'No, that would be against the rules.'

'I hear they think you're a very good trainer. Why do you think this is?'

Despite the patent stupidity of the question, Nutt seemed to think deeply. 'One must consider the horizons of possibility,' he said slowly. 'E Pluribus Unum, the many become one, but it could just as easily be said that the one becomes many, Ex uno multi, and indeed, as Von Sliss said in The Effluence of Reality, the one, when carefully considered, may in fact be a many in different clothing.'

Glenda looked at the girl's face. Her expression hadn't moved and neither had her pencil. Nutt smiled to himself and continued. 'Now let us consider this in the light, as it may be, of the speeding ball. Where it has come from we believe we know, but where it will land is an ever-changing conundrum, even if only considered in four-dimensional space. And there we have the existential puzzle that confronts the striker, for he is both striker and struck. As the ball flies, all possibilities are inexorably linked, as Herr Frugal said in Das Nichts des Wissens, "Ich kann mich nicht genau erinnern, aber es war so etwas wie eine Vanillehaltige s邦sse Nachspeisenbeigabe," although I believe he was on some medication at the time. Who is mover and who is moved? Given that the solution can only be arrived at through conceptual manifestation using, I believe, some perception of transfinite space, it can clearly be seen that among the possibilities is that the ball will land everywhere at the same time or turn out never to have been kicked at all. It is my job to reduce this metaphysical overhead, as it were, and to give my lads some acceptable paradigm, such as, it might be, whack it right down the middle, my son, and at least if the goalie stops it you will have given him a hot handful he won't forget in a hurry.

'You see, the thing about football is that it is not about football. It is a most fascinating multi-dimensional philosophy, an extrusion, as it were, of what Doctor Maspinder promulgated in Das Meer von Unvermeidlichkeit. Now, you would say to me, I am sure,' he went on, 'What of the 4每4每2 or even the 4每1每2每1每2, yes? And my answer to that would be, there is only the one. Traditionally we say there are eleven players in the team, but that is because of our rather feeble perceptions. In truth, there is only the one and therefore, I would say,' he gave a little laugh, 'daring to adapt a line from The Doors of Deception: it does not matter whether you win or lose so long as you score the most goals.'

The girl looked down at her notepad. 'Could you give that to me a little bit more simply?'

'Oh, I'm sorry,' said Nutt. 'I thought I had.'

'And I think that's about enough,' said Glenda, taking the girl by the arm.

'But I haven't asked him about his favourite spoon,' she wailed.

Nutt cleared his throat. 'Well, I would have appreciated some notice of that question because it is quite a large field, but I think the Great Bronze Spoon of Cladh, which weighed more than a ton, would definitely have to be a runner, though we must not forget the set of spoons, each one smaller than a grain of rice, crafted by some unknown genius for the concubines of the Emperor Whezi. But undoubtedly, from what I can gather, these were surpassed by the notorious clockwork spoon, devised by Bloody Stupid Johnson, which could apparently stir coffee so fast that the cup would actually rise up from the saucer and hit the ceiling. Oh, to be a fly on that wall, but not too close, obviously. Possibly less well known is the singing spoon of the learned sage Ly Tin Wheedle, which could entertain the dinner table by singing comic songs. Among other great spoons - '

'That is enough,' said Glenda, tugging the girl away for her own good.

'He's an orc?' the girl said.

'So everyone says,' said Glenda.

'Were they all like that? I thought it was all about twisting heads off?'

'Well, I suspect people get bored with the same old thing.'

'But how does he know all about spoons?'

'Believe me, if anyone has ever written Great Spoons of the World, Mister Nutt has read it.'

Trev heard the girl's plaintive voice as Glenda almost forcibly led her away, or at least away from Nutt. 'I really wanted to talk to Jewels,' Trev heard the girl say, as she walked past Juliet without a glance. 'But she's hiding out, everyone says.'

He hurried across and pulled the other two in a huddle towards him. 'There's gonna be murder tomorrow,' he said. 'The wizards can't use magic and Ankh-Morpork United is gonna be made up out of the toughest, nastiest bunch of buggers that're outside of the Tanty.'

'We shall have to change our tactics to suit, then,' said Nutt.

'Are you nu - insane? I'm talkin' about people like Andy, Nutt. An' he might not be the worst one.'

'But everything is a matter of tactics. A respect for strengths and weaknesses and the proper utilization of the knowledge,' said Nutt.

'Listen!' said Trev. 'There won't be time for that sort of thing.'

'If I may quote - ' Nutt began.

'I said listen! Do you know any quotes by people who have been knifed in the back an' then kicked in the nu - ' He stopped and then continued. 'Kicked when they're lyin' on the ground, yes? Because that's what you need to be thinkin' about at the moment.'

'The Watch will be there,' said Nutt.

'But generally their way of dealing with a complicated event is to get everyone lyin' on the ground,' said Trev. 'That makes it simpler.'

'I feel certain that we could beat any team at football,' said Nutt soothingly.

Trev looked around him in a desperate search for anyone who might have a grip. 'It doesn't work like that! It's not about the football!'

'I don't think I want to see anyone hurt,' said Juliet.

'Then you'll have to close your eyes,' said Trev. 'Nutt, you think that everythin' is going to be nice and sportsmanlike 'cos that's how the new football has been designed, but it's the same old people out there. You know what I think?'

'My dad says it won't look very good for Vetinari if the Academicals lose,' said Juliet.

'An' will he be glad about that?' said Trev.

'Well, I suppose, yes, but even Dad says prob'ly better to have bloody Vetinari than most of the buggers we've had.'

That was because the city worked, thought Trev. It had been a mess before Vetinari had taken over and no one knew exactly how he'd done it. He'd got the Watch working properly. He'd got the war between the dwarfs and the trolls sorted out. He let people do whatever they liked, provided they did whatever he liked. And above all, the city was crammed with people and money. Everyone wanted to live in Ankh-Morpork. Could he really be shaken down because the new football went bad? Well, the answer was, of course, yes每because that's how people were.

Trev mentioned this to Glenda as she came back from ushering the bemused Roz out of the range of more of Nutt's philosophy. She looked at Trev and said, 'Do you think Vetinari knows about this?'

'Dunno,' said Trev. 'Well, I know he's s'posed to have lots of spies, but I dunno whether they'd know about this.'

'Do you think someone ought to tell him?' said Glenda.

Trev laughed. 'What are you suggestin'? That we go over to the palace, walk right up to him and say, "Excuse us, mister, there are a few things that have escaped your attention?"'

'Yes,' said Glenda.

'Thank you, Drumknott, that will be all for now,' said Vetinari.

'Yes, sir,' said Drumknott. He nodded at Lady Margolotta and oiled his way noiselessly out of the room.

'Havelock, I appreciate that Drumknott is very competent, but he always seems to me to be a rather strange little man.'

'Well, it would be a funny old world if we were all alike, madam, although I admit not very funny if we were all like Drumknott. But he is loyal and excessively trustworthy,' said Vetinari.

'Hmm,' said her ladyship. 'Does he have much of a personal life?'

'I believe that he collects different types of stationery,' said Vetinari. 'I have sometimes speculated that he might change his life for the better should he meet a young lady willing to dress up as a manila envelope.'

They were on the balcony outside the Oblong Office, which offered a perfect view of the centre of the city while leaving the viewer almost invisible.

'The accord is going ahead?' said Vetinari.

'Certainly,' said her ladyship. 'Peace at last between dwarfs and trolls.'

Vetinari smiled. 'The word "peace" is generally defined as a period of rest and rearmament before the next war. Were many assassinations necessary?'

'Havelock, sometimes you are too direct!'

'I do beg your pardon, it's just that the progress of history requires butchers as well as shepherds.'

'There were no assassinations,' said her ladyship. She turned her eyes upwards. 'There was, however, a terrible mining accident and a rather unusual rock slide. But, of course, there is still the Loko business to sort out. The dwarfs still want total extermination.'

'How many orcs are there?'

'Nobody knows. Perhaps Nutt will be able to find them.'

'We must not have genocide,' said Vetinari. 'History has a way of repaying.'

'He is turning out to be quite a surprise.'

'So I understand. From the reports I have been receiving, all that the orcs were not, he is.'

'But he will remain an orc underneath it all,' said her ladyship.

'I wonder what remains under all of us?' said Vetinari.

'You've taken a very big risk, you know,' said Lady Margolotta.

'Madam, this city is all risk, I assure you.'

'And power is a game of smoke and mirrors,' said her ladyship, reaching for the wine.

'Oddly enough, Commander Vimes reminds me of that nearly every day. No civil police force could hold out against an irate and resolute population. The trick is not to let them realize that. Yes?'

There was a knock at the door. It was Drumknott again. 'I am sorry to interrupt, sir, madam, but in the circumstances I thought it would be a good idea.' He sniffed. 'It's the lady with the pies.'

'Ah, Miss Sugarbean, legendary inventor of the famous Ploughman's Pie,' said Vetinari. He glanced at her ladyship. 'And Mister Nutt's friend.'

'I have met her, Havelock. She harangued me.'

'Yes, she does it very well. You feel as if you've had a nice cold bath. Do show her in, Drumknott.'

'And there is a young man with her. I recognize him as Trevor Likely, son of the famous footballer Dave Likely, and I am informed by her that she has indeed brought you a Ploughman's Pie.'

'You would take untested food from a member of the public?' said her ladyship, horrified.

'Certainly from this one,' said Vetinari. 'There is no possible way that she would ever put poison in anything. Not out of respect for me, you understand, but out of respect for the food. Don't leave. I think you will find this... interesting.'

The pie was still warm in Glenda's hands as she stepped into the Oblong Office. She herself almost froze at the sight of Lady Margolotta, but a certain robustness kicked in.

'Do I have to curtsy?' she said.

'Not unless you really feel the need.'

'We've come to warn you,' said Trev.

'Indeed.' Vetinari raised an eyebrow.

'Ankh-Morpork United will walk all over Unseen Academicals with great big boots on.'

'Oh, dear. Do you think that will be the case?'

'They're not yer average players!' Trev blurted out. 'They're from the Shove. They go armed.'

'Ah, yes. Football as warfare,' said Vetinari. 'Well, thank you for telling me.'

Silence fell. Vetinari broke it by saying, 'Was there anything else you would like to say?' He looked at the pie that Glenda was holding out in front of her like some kind of chastity device.

'Can't you do something?' she said.

'It's a game, Miss Sugarbean. Having suggested the match in the first place, what do you think I would look like if I intervened? There will, after all, be rules. There will, after all, be a referee.'

'They won't care,' said Trev.

'Then I suppose the Watch will have to do its duty. And now, if you will excuse me, I have affairs of state to attend to, but please leave the pie.'

'One moment,' said her ladyship. 'Why have you come to warn his lordship, young lady?'

'Isn't that the sort of thing I ought to do?' said Glenda.

'And you walked in, just like that?'

'Well, the pie helped.'

'We have met before, you know,' said her ladyship.

She stared at Glenda and Glenda stared back, and she finally managed, 'Yes, I know, and I'm not frightened and I'm not sorry.'

The battle of the stares went on for a year too long and then Lady Margolotta turned her head away sharply and said, 'Well, you have got one of them right, but I am sure I shall enjoy the pie and also the match.'

'Yes, yes,' said Vetinari. 'Thank you both for calling, but if you will excuse us we do have matters of state to discuss.'

'Well!' said Lady Margolotta as the door shut behind them. 'What type of people are you incubating in this city of yours, Havelock?'

'I imagine some of the very best,' said Vetinari.

'Two common people can barge in on you without so much as an appointment?'

'But with a pie,' said Vetinari quickly.

'You were expecting them?'

'Let us just say that I was not unduly surprised,' said Vetinari. 'I certainly know about the make-up of Ankh-Morpork United. So does the Watch.'

'And you are going to let them into an arena with a bunch of old wizards who have promised not to do magic?'

'A bunch of old wizards and Mister Nutt,' said Vetinari cheerfully. 'Apparently he's very good at tactical planning.'

'I can't allow that.'

'This is my city, Margolotta. There are no slaves in Ankh-Morpork.'

'He is my ward. I expect you will ignore that, though.'

'I have every intention of doing so. After all, it's only a game.'

'But a game is not about games. And what sort of game do you think you will get tomorrow?'

'A war,' said Vetinari. 'And the thing about war is that it's about war.'

Lady Margolotta shot out her long sleeve and a fine steel dagger was suddenly in her hand.

'I suggest you cut it in half,' said Vetinari, indicating the pie, 'and I will choose which half to pick up.'

'But what if one half has more pickled onions than the other?'

'Then I think that will be open to negotiation. Would you like some more... wine?'

'Did you see that she tried to stare me down?' said Margolotta.

'Yes,' said Vetinari. 'I saw that she succeeded.'

When Glenda and Trev got back to the Hippo, Nutt looked at them expectantly. 'He hardly listened,' said Trev.

'Quite so,' said Nutt. 'I am confident of our success on the morrow. I am quite certain that we will be tactically supreme.'

'I'm just glad I won't be playin', that's all,' said Trev.

'Yes, Mister Trev, that really is a great shame.'

From the nearby table where last-minute adjustments were being made by the Football League came the voice of somebody saying, 'Nah, nah. Look, you've still got it wrong. If a bloke from side B is closer to the goalkeeper每no, I tell a lie每if he's closer to the goal than the goalkeeper, then he surely puts one away there and then. Stands to reason.'

There was a sigh that could only have come from Ponder Stibbons. 'No, I don't think you understand... '

Another voice chipped in. 'If the goalkeeper is that far out of his goal then he's a pillock!'

'Look, let's start again,' said another voice. 'Supposing I'm this bloke here.' Trev looked across and saw one of the men flick a screwed-up piece of paper across the table. 'Like, I've kicked the ball that far and this is me, this piece of paper. Then what?' He flicked the paper once again, which hit Ponder's pencil.

'No! I've already explained that. And stop flicking bits of paper around, I find it very confusing.'

'But it must work if he dribbles on it,' said a voice.

'Hold on a minute, though,' said yet another voice. 'What happens, right, if you get the ball in your own half of the field and run all the way, not passing it to anyone else, and get it into the net?'

'That would be perfectly legal,' said Ponder.

'Yeah, but there's no way that's goin' to happen, is there?' said the man who had just flicked a soggy piece of paper and had enjoyed it so much that he'd flicked another one.

'But if he tries and succeeds it would be magnificent football, would it not?' said Ponder.

'Where's our team?' said Trev, looking around.

'I've suggested they have an early night,' said Ponder.

'An early night for wizards is two o'clock in the morning,' said Glenda.

'I have also given instructions that the team are to have a special meal this evening,' said Nutt. 'On that note, Miss Glenda, I shall have to ask you to lock the Night Kitchen.'

Stony silence hung over the dining room that evening.

'I don't eat salads,' said Bledlow Nobbs (no relation). 'They gives me the wind.'

'How can a man live without pasta?' said Bengo. 'This is barbaric!'

'I hope you notice that my plate is as barren as yours, gentlemen,' said Ridcully. 'Mister Nutt is training us and I'm allowing Mister Nutt the driver's seat. Nor is there to be any smoking this evening.'

There was a chorus of dismay and he raised his hand for silence. 'Also, his instruction here... ' He looked closer at Nutt's rather untidy writing and gave a little smile. 'There is to be no sexual congress.' This did not meet with the reaction he had expected.

'That means talking about it, doesn't it?' said the Chair of Indefinite Studies.

'No, that's oral sex,' said Rincewind.

'No, that's listening to it.'

Bengo Macarona sat with a dazed look on his face.

'Now, I don't want any sneaking off for midnight snacks,' said Ridcully. 'There are rules. Mrs Whitlow and Miss Sugarbean have been told that I fully back Mister Nutt's authority here. Surely you gentlemen could show some backbone?'

'In an attempt to show solidarity with the rest of the team,' said the Lecturer in Recent Runes, 'I am led to believe that there is some cheese in the mousetrap in my room.'

Ridcully was left all alone with only the echo of falling chairs for company.

The Archchancellor repaired to his own room and tossed his hat on to its stand. There have to be rules, he said to himself, and there has to be a rule for them and a rule for me. He went to his eight-poster bed and opened the hatch containing the tobacco jar. It now contained a little note instead, saying, 'Dear Archchancellor, In accordance with your ratification of Mister Nutt's instructions that the faculty are not to be allowed food or the implements of smoking this evening, I've taken the liberty of clearing away your cigarettes and pipe tobacco. May I also mention that I have emptied the cool cupboard of the usual cold cuts and pickles to avoid temptation.'

'Bugger,' said Ridcully under his breath.

He walked to his wardrobe and rummaged in the pocket of his smoking jacket, coming up with a note that said, 'In accordance with Mister Nutt's rules, as ratified by yourself, Archchancellor [and it was remarkable how reproachful Mrs Whitlow could make her handwriting], I have taken the liberty of removing your emergency peppermints.'

'Change and decay!' Ridcully declared to the night air. 'I am surrounded by traitors! They thwart me at every turn.' He wandered disconsolately past his bookcase and pulled out Boddrys' Occult Companion, a book he knew by heart. And because he knew the book by heart, page 14 opened on to a neat little cavity, which contained a packet of extra-strong liquorice mints, an ounce of Jolly Sailor tobacco and a packet of Wizzla's... And, as it turned out, a small note: 'Dear Archchancellor, I just didn't have the heart. Mrs Whitlow.'

It seemed darker than usual. Generally, the Archchancellor's rulings were obeyed, and it seemed to the members of Unseen Academicals that every door was closed, indeed slammed, as they searched for food. Every pantry was locked and spell-proofed. The team trudged helplessly from one hall to another.

'I do have some reheatable pasta in my room,' said Bengo Macarona. 'My grandmother gave it to me before I came down here. It will keep for ten years and my grandmother says that it will taste as good after ten years as it does now. I regret that she may have been telling the truth.'

'If you get it, we could cook it up in my room,' said the Lecturer in Recent Runes.

'If you like. It contains alligator testicles, for nourishment. They are very popular at home.'

'I didn't know alligators had testicles,' said the Lecturer in Recent Runes.

'They haven't got 'em any more,' said Bledlow Nobbs (no relation).

'I've got a biscuit, we could share that out,' said Ponder Stibbons. He was immediately pierced by their questioning gazes. 'No,' he said, 'I am not going to countermand the Archchancellor's orders any further than that. I would never hear the last of it, gentlemen. Without a hierarchy we are nothing.'

'The Librarian will have some bananas,' said Rincewind.

'Are you sure?' said Macarona.

'I think the Librarian has a motto in these cases: "If you try to take my bananas from me, I will reclaim them from your cold dead hands."'

Trev, who had been lurking in the shadows, waited until the rumble of stomachs died away in the distance and then hurried back and knocked on the bolted door of the Night Kitchen. 'They've all met up and they're headed for the Library.'

'Good, I think he'll share his bananas with them,' said Nutt.

'I don't really see the point,' said Glenda.

'The point is they are friends. Partners in adversity. They are a team. That is football. You have to train a team to be a team and I will have no problem with them having a very large breakfast in the morning.'

Nutt was changing, Trev thought. 'Can I ask you a personal question, Mister Nutt?'

'Nearly all the questions people ask me are personal, though do go ahead, Mister Trev.'

'Well, er, all right. Sometimes you look big and sometimes you look small. What's that all about?'

'It is something built into us,' said Nutt. 'I believe that it is a product of the morphic field contracting and expanding. It affects your perceptions.'

'When you're upset, you do look very small,' said Glenda.

'What size do I look now?'

'Pretty big,' said Trev.

'Good,' said Nutt, helping himself to a slice of pie. 'Tomorrow I intend to look even bigger.'

'There's somethin' else we have to do,' said Trev. 'Pepe wants to help me. He thinks I'm gonna play football.'

'Well, you are going to play football,' said Nutt.

'No! You know this! I promised my ol' mum and you can't break a promise to your ol' mum, Gods rest her soul. Do you 'ave keys to the wine cellar, Glenda?'

'Do you think I'd tell you, Trev Likely?'

'Thought not. I want two bottles of best brandy. And, er, could you all come with me, please? I think Pepe means well, but he, er, well, you know him, it's midnight and everythin'.'

'I think I know Pepe,' said Glenda.

There was a guard on the rear door of Shatta, but before he could even think of turning away Trev and his bodyguards, Pepe appeared. 'Cor! Three chums. I must be very frightening,' he said, leering. 'Hello, chums, got the brandy?'

'Yes, what's this all about, Pepe? You've been putting the willies up Trev,' said Glenda.

'I never have! I hardly ever put the willies up anyone these days. I just told him he was going to play in the football.'

'I promised my ol' mum,' said Trev, clinging to the declaration as if it were a tiny raft in a choppy sea.

'But you've got a star in your hand and you don't have much of a choice.'

Trev looked at his palm. 'Just a lot of lines.'

'Well there's them that has the sight and there again there's them that don't. I'm one of those that have. 's metaphorical, see. But all it is is that I would like to give you a little something that may be of use to you tomorrow. What am I saying? It might damn well save your life,' said Pepe. 'It'll certainly save your marriage. I'm sure the ladies here would like to think that us at Shatta have done the best for you.'

'For what it's worth, Trev, I trust Pepe,' said Glenda.

'And this is Mister Nutt,' said Trev. 'He's a friend.'

'Yeah. I know what Mister Nutt is,' said Pepe. 'And you can come, too. I am pleased to make your... acquaintance.'

He turned to Glenda. 'You girls stay here, miss,' he said. 'This is no errand for a lady.' He ushered the boys into the gloom. 'What I'm going to show you gentlemen is top secret and if you cross me, Trev Likely, I will do things that will make Andy Shank look like a playground bully.'

'Andy was a playground bully,' said Trev, as they reached what was clearly a forge.

'Micromail,' said Pepe with satisfaction. 'The world hasn't seen the half of it yet.'

'It just looks like fine chain mail,' said Nutt.

'It's strange stuff,' said the dwarf. 'I can give you a vest and pair of shorts and they better both come back here, boy, otherwise said implications will be performed on your arse and I ain't kidding. This stuff isn't just for making the girls look pretty. You would be amazed what it can do with just a little change in the alloy.' He pointed to a glistening heap. 'It's as light as a feather and doesn't chafe, you know.'

'And what else does it do?'

'I'll show you in a minute. Slip on a pair of the shorts.'

'Wot, here?' said Trev.

Somehow, Pepe looked like a small demon by the light of the forge. 'Ooh, look at Mister Bashful!' said Pepe. 'Just pull a pair on over your trousers for now and I'll tell you what I'll do, I'll even turn my back while you're doing that.' He looked away, fiddling with the tools beside the anvil. 'Got 'em on?' he said, after listening to a few minutes of heavy breathing.

'Yes, they, er, well, they feel all right.'

'Okay,' said Pepe. 'Could you just wait 'ere one moment.' He disappeared into the darkness and, after a succession of strange noises, walked back into view, slowly and awkwardly.

'What's that you're wearin', Pepe?' said Trev. 'It looks like a mass of cushions to me.'

'Oh, just a bit of protection,' said Pepe. 'Now if you could just go back a little way, Mister Nutt, and Trev, if you could oblige me by putting your hands on your head, it just helps to get the measurements right.' He turned his back on them. 'Okay, Trevor, are your hands on your head?'

'Yeah, yeah.'

At which point, Pepe spun round and hit him full force in the groin with a twenty-four-pound sledgehammer...

Surprisingly, the only effect was to send Pepe crashing into the opposite wall. 'Perfect!' said his voice, muffled by the padding.

Morning came, but it seemed to Glenda that there was no night and no day, no work and no play, there was just football, ahead of them all, drawing them together. In the Great Hall the team had a table all to themselves. Servants and wizards side by side, filling up as only Unseen University could.

Football owned the day. Nothing was happening that wasn't about football. There were certainly no lectures. Of course, there never were, but at least today they weren't being attended because of the excitement about the upcoming match rather than not being attended because no one wanted to go to them. And after a while, Glenda became aware of the sound which was coming from the city itself.

There were crowds outside the university; there were crowds, even now, queuing to get into the Hippo. The sound of a hundred thousand people at one purpose rose like the buzz of a distant swarm.

Glenda went back to the sanctuary of the Night Kitchen and tried to pass some time by doing some baking, but the dough fell from her fingers.

'Are you upset?' said Juliet.

'I hope we're going to win,' said Glenda.

'Well, of course we're going to win,' said Juliet.

'That's all very well up until the time we lose,' said Glenda. 'Yes, who's that?'

The door was pushed open and Pepe stepped in, looking smarter than usual. 'Hello, ladies,' he said. 'Got a little message for you. How was you expecting to watch the match?'

'Just so long as we can get close,' said Glenda.

'Tell you what, then,' said Pepe. 'Madame has got the best seats in the stadium. Nothing underhand, just open and above-board bribery. Shatta has got to be seen out and about, you see? Got to keep micromail in the public eye.'

'I'd love to!' Juliet shouted. And even Glenda found that her automatic, unthinking cynicism was letting her down.

'There will be sherry,' said Pepe.

'Will there be anyone famous there?' said Juliet.

Pepe walked over and prodded her gently in the chest and said, 'Yes. You, miss. Everyone wants to see Jewels.'

It seemed as if the clocks turned backwards. All Watch leave had been suspended, but it was hard to see what crime there could be in streets where nobody could move. A flood of humanity, well, mostly humanity, poured towards the stadium, bounced off it and overflowed and backfilled more and more of the city. The game was in the Hippo, the crowd stretched back to Sator Square and eventually the pressure of so many eyeballs on the hands of so many clocks moved time forwards.

Only the team, and Trev, remained in the Great Hall, everyone else having left much earlier in a fruitless attempt at securing a seat. They milled around aimlessly prodding the ball to one another until Ponder, Nutt and the Archchancellor turned up.

'Well, big day, lads!' said Ridcully. 'Looks like there's going to be a nice day for it as well. They're all over there waiting for us to give them a show. I want you to approach this in the best traditions of Unseen University sportsmanship, which is to cheat whenever you are unobserved, though I fear that the chance of anyone being unobserved today is remote. But in any case, I want you all to give it one hundred and ten per cent.'

'Excuse me, Archchancellor,' said Ponder Stibbons. 'I understand the sense of what you are saying, but there is only one hundred per cent.'

'Well, they could give it one hundred and ten per cent if they tried harder,' said Ridcully.

'Well, yes and no, sir. But, in fact, that would mean that you had just made the one hundred per cent bigger while it would still be one hundred per cent. Besides, there is only so fast a man can run, only so high a man can jump. I just wanted to make the point.'

'Good point, well made,' said Ridcully, dismissing it instantly. He looked around at the faces. 'Ah, Mister Likely, I suppose there is nothing I can do that would get you on to the team? Dave Likely's boy playing for Unseen Academicals would be a bit of a feather in our cap. And I see my colleague Professor Rincewind has humorously already put a white one in his.'

'Well, sir, you know how I'm fixed,' Trev mumbled.

'Your old mum,' said Ridcully, nodding understandingly.

'I promised her,' said Trev. 'I know she's passed away, but I'm certain that she still watches over me, sir.'

'Well, that's nice and does you credit. Is there anything else that can be said? Let me think. Oh yes, gentlemen每Mrs Whitlow, as is her wont on these occasions, has organized her maids to dress up in appropriate costume and cheer us on from the sidelines.' His face was a blank mask as he continued. 'Mrs Whitlow unaccountably takes an enthusiastic and uncharacteristically athletic part in these things. There will be high kicking, I am told, but if you are careful where you let your gaze fall, you should see nothing that will upset you too much.'

'Excuse me, sir,' said Rincewind. 'Is it true that some of the men in Ankh-Morpork United are just a bunch of thugs from the Shove?'

'That might be a bit harsh,' Ridcully began.

'Excuse me, sir,' said Trev, 'that is quite true. I would say about half of them are honest cloggers and the rest of them are bastards.'

'Well, I'm sure we will overcome,' said Ridcully jovially.

'I would also like to make a few comments before we leave, sir,' said Nutt. 'A few words of advice, perhaps? In these few days I have taught you everything I know, even if I do not know how I know it. As you know, I am an orc and whatever else we were, we were team players. You are playing, therefore, not as individuals, but as a team. I think it was Von Haudenbrau who said - '

'I don't think we've got very much time to get through the crowds,' said Ridcully, who had been expecting this. 'Thank you, Mister Nutt, but I really think we ought to get going.'

Those watching from above would have seen the cramped streets of the city waver as the red caterpillar that was the Unseen Academicals made its way to the ground. There were cheers and there were boos and because this was Ankh-Morpork, usually the cheers and the booing were done alternately by everyone concerned.




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