In fact, Juliet and Trev were sitting in the darkness of the Night Kitchen. 'I'll find somethin' to do,' said Trev. 'I'll go wherever you go.'

'You ought to stay here and play football,' said Juliet. 'You know what some people said when we were drinking? They said Dave Likely was your father.'

'Well, yes, that's true.'

'Yes,' said Juliet, 'but they used to say you were his son.'

'Well, maybe a bit of football,' Trev conceded, 'but I don't think I'll get away with the tin can again.'

They kissed.

There and then, that was all that appeared necessary.


Glenda and Nutt had also wanted to find a place a little out of the way and, if possible, dark. Fortuitously she had pulled out of her pocket a pair of tickets, placed there by Dr Hix in his attempt to spread darkness and despondency throughout the world by the means of amateur dramatics, to the Dolly Sisters Players' production of Starcrossed by Hwel the Playwright. They sat hand in hand, watching it solemnly, feeling the ripples move them, then discussed it as they walked back through the city, carefully skirting the chanting bands of happy, drunken supporters.

'What did you think?' said Nutt, after a while. 'About the play, I mean.'

'I don't see that it was that romantic,' said Glenda. 'To be honest, I thought it was a bit silly.'


'It is widely regarded as one of the great romantic plays of the last fifty years,' said Nutt.

'Really? But what type of example are they setting? First of all, didn't anyone in Genua, even in those days, know how to take a pulse? Is a little first-aid knowledge too much to expect? Even a hand mirror would have helped and there are quite a number of respectable places where you can take a pulse.'

'I think that's because neither of them were thinking about themselves, perhaps,' said Nutt.

'Neither of them was thinking at all,' said Glenda, 'and they certainly weren't thinking about each other as people. A little common sense and they would be alive. It's made-up, like books. I don't think anyone sensible would act like that.'

He squeezed her hand. 'Sometimes you speak like Ladyship,' he said, 'and that reminds me.'

'Reminds you of what?'

'It's time for me to meet my maker.'

Andy Shank walked unsteadily among the night-time alleys, secure in the knowledge that they contained nothing worse than him, a belief which, as it happened, was in error.

'Mister Shank?'

'Who's asking?' he said, turning around and reaching instinctively into his coat for his new cutlass.

But another knife, silver and thin, sliced twice and a foot expertly stamped the length of his shin and forced him to the ground. 'Me! I'm the happy ending. You can call me the good fairy. Don't worry, you'll be able to see by the time you wipe the blood out of your eyes and, as they say, now you won't have to pay for a drink in any bar in this town, though I suspect you never have.'

His attacker leaned nonchalantly against the wall.

'And the reason I am doing this, Mister Shank, is that I am a bastard. I am an old bugger. I am a sod. They let you get away with it because they were nice people and, you know, the world needs someone like me to set the balance square. Since before you were born I have known people like you. Tormentors, bullies and thieves. Ah yes, thieves. Thieves of other people's self-respect. Thieves of their peace of mind. Now Mister Nutt, he's an orc and I've heard that he can talk people better. Well, so be it, say I. If it works, he's a genius, but that don't square things, not in my book, so I thought you ought to meet Pepe, just to say hello. If I ever see you again, they'll never find all the pieces, but just to show that I have a decent streak, here's something to put on your wounds.'

Something landed softly near Andy's groping hand.

Andy, dripping blood and snot on to the pavement, reached around quickly as the trim little footsteps disappeared, thinking only of getting the blood out of his eyes and revenge and retribution out of his heart. And in the circumstances, therefore, he should not have wiped the half-lemon across his face.

You think it's all over?

It is a regrettable fact that when two people are dining at a very large and impressive dining table they sit at the opposite ends of the long axis. This is incredibly stupid and makes conversation difficult and the passing of food impossible, but even Lord Vetinari and Lady Margolotta had apparently signed up to the idea.

On the other hand, they both ate very little and so there wasn't very much to pass.

'Your secretary seems to be getting on very well with my librarian,' said Lady Margolotta.

'Yes,' observed Vetinari. 'Apparently they are comparing ring binders. He has invented a new one.'

'Well, for the proper working of the world,' said Lady Margolotta, 'it is essential that ring binders are important to at least one person.' She put down her glass and looked towards the door.

'You seem nervous,' said Vetinari. 'Are you wondering how he will come?'

'He has had a very long day and a remarkably successful one. And you say he's gone to an amateur dramatics performance?'

'Yes, with that very forthright young lady who makes the pies,' said Vetinari.

'I see,' said Lady Margolotta. 'He must know I am here and he's gone off with a cook?'

There was just a trace of a smile on Vetinari's lips. 'Not any cook. A genius amongst cooks.'

'Well, I must admit to being surprised,' said her ladyship.

'And upset?' said Vetinari. 'A little jealous, perhaps?'

'Havelock, you go too far!'

'Would you expect otherwise? Besides, you must surely realize that his triumph is yours too?'

'Did I tell you that I've seen some of them?' said Margolotta after a while.

'The orcs?'

'Yes. They really are wretched. Of course, people say that about the goblins and while it is true that they religiously save their own snot, and, frankly, just about everything else, at least there is a logic to it.'

'Well, a religious logic, at least,' murmured Vetinari. 'They tend to be quite stretchable.'

'The Igors made them from men, did you know?'

Vetinari, still holding his glass, walked to the other end of the table and picked up the pepperpot. 'No. However, now you tell me, it's patently obvious. Goblins would not have been nearly ferocious enough.'

'And they had nothing,' said Margolotta. 'No culture, no legends, no history¨Che could give them those.'

'Everything they are not, he is,' said Vetinari, adding, 'but that's an enormous weight you're putting on his shoulders.'

'How much is on mine? How much of a weight is on yours?'

'It's rather like being a carthorse,' said Vetinari. 'After a while one ceases to notice, it's just the way of life.'

'They deserve their chance and it must be taken now, while the world is at peace.'

'Peace?' said Vetinari. 'Ah, yes, defined as a period of time to allow for preparation for the next war.'

'Where did you learn such cynicism, Havelock?'

Vetinari spun around and began his absent-minded walk along the length of the table again. 'Well, mostly from you, madam, though I have to say that the credit is not all yours, since I have had an extended period of further education as tyrant of this city.'

'I think you allow them too much freedom.'

'Oh, yes, I do. That's why I am still tyrant of this city. The way to retain power, I have always thought, is to ensure the absolute unthinkability of oneself not being there. I shall help you in any way I can, of course. There should be no slaves, even slaves to instinct.'

'One person can make a difference,' said Margolotta. 'Look at Mister Shine who is now Diamond King of Trolls. Look at yourself. If men can fall - '

Vetinari gave a sharp laugh. 'Oh, they can, indeed.'

' - then orcs can rise,' said Margolotta. 'If that is not true then the universe is not true.'

There was a velvet-like knock at the double doors and Drumknott entered. 'Mister Nutt is here, sir.' He added with a certain disdain, 'And he's with that... woman, who cooks in the university.'

Vetinari glanced at Margolotta. 'Yes,' he said. 'I think we should see him in the main hall.'

Drumknott coughed. 'I think I should tell you, sir, that Mister Nutt acquired entrance to the building through gates that were securely locked.'

'Did he tear them off their hinges?' asked Vetinari with apparent enthusiastic interest.

'No, sir, he lifted the gates bodily off their hinges and stacked them neatly against the wall.'

'Ah, then there is still hope for the world.'

'And the guards?'

Drumknott glanced for a moment at Lady Margolotta. 'I have taken the precaution of stationing some of them inconspicuously in the Great Hall gallery with crossbows.'

'Stand them down,' said Vetinari.

'Stand them down?' said Margolotta.

'Stand them down,' said Vetinari again, directly to Drumknott. He extended his arm to her ladyship. 'I think the term is, as they put it, alea iacta est. The die, your ladyship, is cast, and we should both see how it falls.'

'Will you get into trouble for that?' said Glenda, staying close to Nutt as they walked up the steps.

The main hall of the palace was an intimidating place when empty, because it had been designed for exactly that purpose.

'Why didn't you just knock like everyone else?'

'My dear Glenda, I am not like anyone else and neither are you.'

'Then what are you going to do?'

'I don't know. What will Ladyship do? I have no idea, although I am becoming aware of how she thinks and there are a few possibilities I have in mind.'

They watched two figures coming down the broad staircase that extended up into the rest of the building. It had been built to accommodate hundreds; the two people coming down looked uncharacteristically small.

'Ah, Mister Nutt,' said Vetinari as they had almost reached the bottom step, 'and Miss Sugarbean. I must add my congratulations to the pair of you on the wonderful, albeit surprising, success of Unseen Academicals.'

'I think you are going to have to make a lot of changes to the rules, sir,' said Nutt.

'Such as?' said Vetinari.

'I think you need assistants for the referee. His eyes can't be everywhere,' said Nutt, 'and there do need to be some more rules. Although Mister Hoggett did the honourable thing, I think.'

'And Professor Rincewind might make a very capable attacker, if only you could persuade him to take the ball with him,' said Vetinari.

'I would never tell the Archchancellor this, my lord, but I think he may be better in a more defensive role.'

'Who would you suggest as an alternative?' said Vetinari.

'Well, Charlie, the animated skeleton who works in the Department of Post-Mortem Communications, did very well in trials. And, after all,' he paused for a moment, 'yes, after all, none of us can help how we're made.'

They turned at a tap, tap, tapping behind them. It was Lady Margolotta's foot.

Nutt gave a little bow. 'Ladyship. I trust I find you in adequate health.'

'And you likewise, Nutt,' said Lady Margolotta.

Nutt turned to Glenda. 'What was that term you used once?'

'In the pink,' said Glenda.

'Yes, that's right, I am deeply in the pink,' said Nutt. 'And it's Mister Nutt, if you please, your ladyship.'

'Would the two of you care to join us upstairs for a late supper?' asked Vetinari, watching them both very carefully.

'No, I don't think we will impose, but thank you very much. I have a lot to do. Lady Margolotta?'


'Would you come here, please?'

Glenda watched the expressions: Vetinari's faint smile, her look of affront, Nutt's confidence. The rustle of her long, black dress was an audible intoxication as she walked the last few steps towards the orc and stopped. 'Do I have worth?' asked Nutt.

'Yes, Nutt, you do.'

'Thank you,' said Nutt, 'but I am learning that worth is something that must be continuously accumulated. You asked me to be becoming. Have I become?'

'Yes, Nutt, you have become.'

'And what is it you want me to do now?'

'Find the orcs that still live in Far Uberwald and bring them back out of the dark.'

'Then there are more orcs, like me?' said Nutt.

'A few dozen, perhaps,' said Margolotta, 'but in truth I could hardly say they are like you. They are a sorry bunch.'

'Is it they who should be sorry?' said Nutt.

Glenda watched the faces. Amazingly, Lady Margolotta looked taken aback.

'Many bad things were done under the Evil Empire,' she said. 'The best we can do now is undo them. Will you assist in this endeavour?'

'In every way that I can,' said Nutt.

'I would like you to teach them civilized behaviour,' said Ladyship coldly.

He appeared to consider this. 'Yes, of course, I think that would be quite possible,' he said. 'And who would you send to teach the humans?'

There was a brief outburst of laughter from Vetinari, who immediately cupped his hand over his mouth. 'Oh, I do beg your pardon,' he said.

'But since it falls to me,' continued Nutt, 'then, yes, I shall go into Far Uberwald.'

'Pastor Oats will be very pleased to see you, I'm sure,' said Margolotta.

'He's still alive?' said Nutt.

'Oh, yes, indeed, he is still quite young after all, and walks with forgiveness at his side. I think he would feel it very appropriate if you were to join him. In fact, he has told me on one of his all too infrequent visits that he would be honoured to pass the rate of forgiveness on to you.'

'Nutt doesn't need forgiveness!' Glenda burst out.

Nutt smiled and patted her hand. 'Uberwald is a wild country for a man to travel in,' he said, 'even a holy man. Forgiveness is the name of Pastor Oats's double-headed battle-axe. For Mister Oats the crusade against evil is not a metaphor. Forgiveness cut through my chains. I will gladly carry it.'

'The kings of the trolls and the dwarfs will give you all the help that they can,' said Ladyship.

Nutt nodded. 'But first I have a small favour to ask you, my lord,' he said to Vetinari.

'By all means, ask.'

'I know the city has a number of golem horses. I wonder if I could borrow one of them?'

'Be my guest,' said the Patrician.

Nutt turned to Glenda. 'Miss Sugarbean. Juliet told me that you secretly want to ride through Quirm on a warm summer's evening, feeling the wind in your hair. We could leave now. I have saved money.'

All kinds of reasons why she shouldn't foamed in Glenda's head. Everywhere were responsibilities, commitments and the never-ending clamour of wanting. There were a thousand and one reasons why she should say no.

'Yes,' she said.

'In that case, then, we will not take up any more of your valuable time, my lord, my lady, and will head off to the stables.'

'But - ' Lady Margolotta began.

'I think all that needs to be said has been,' said Nutt. 'I will, we will, of course, visit you shortly when I have settled my affairs here and I look forward very much to doing so.' He nodded to them and, with Glenda walking on air beside him, went back the way they had come.

'Wasn't that nice?' said Vetinari. 'Did you see that they held hands all the time?'

At the doorway, Nutt turned round. 'Oh, just one more thing. Thank you for not posting archers up in the gallery. That would have been so... embarrassing.'

'I shall drink to your success, Margolotta,' said Vetinari as their footsteps died away. 'You know, I seriously intended to proposition Miss Sugarbean to be my cook.' He sighed again. 'Still, what is a pie to a happy ending?'

You think it's all over?

The following morning Ponder Stibbons was at work in the High Energy Magic Building when Ridcully limped in. There was a glowing silver band around his knee. 'Grapeshot's Therapeutic Squeezer,' he announced. 'A simple little spell. I'll be right as rain in no time. Mrs Whitlow wanted me to put a stocking on it, but I told her that I'm not interested in that sort of thing.'

'I'm glad to see that you're in such good spirits, Archchancellor,' said Ponder, working his way down a long calculation.

'Have you had a chance to see the papers yet this morning, Mister Stibbons?'

'No, sir. What with the football business, I'm a little behind with my work.'

'It may interest you to know that late last night a seventy-foot-high chicken broke out of what they are pleased to call the Higher Energy Magic Building at Brazeneck and is apparently rampaging through Pseudopolis while being pursued by most of the faculty, who, I assume, would be quite capable of terrorizing the city all by themselves. Henry has just had a frantic clacks and has had to rush off.'

'Oh, that is very disturbing, sir.'

'Yes, it is, isn't it?' said Ridcully. 'Apparently it's laying eggs very fast.'

'Ah, that sounds like a quasi-expansion blit phenomenon adapting itself to a living organism,' said Ponder. He turned the page, his pencil moving neatly across the column of figures.

'The former Dean has egg all over his face,' said Ridcully.

'Well, I'm sure that Professor Turnipseed will be able to bring things back under control,' said Ponder. The tone of his voice was entirely unchanged.

There was a busy little silence and Ridcully said, 'How long do you think we should give him to get it under control?'

'What size are the eggs?'

'Eight or nine feet high, apparently,' said Ridcully.

'With calcium shells?'

'Yes, quite thick, so I'm told.'

Ponder looked thoughtfully at the ceiling. 'Hmm, that's not too bad, then. If you'd said steel it would have been rather worrying. It sounds very much like a blit devolution, possibly caused by... lack of experience.'

'I thought you taught Mister Turnipseed everything you know,' said Ridcully, looking happier than Ponder had seen him in a very long time.

'Well, sir, perhaps there was something he didn't quite grasp. Are people at risk?'

'The wizards have told everyone to stay indoors.'

'Well, sir, I think if I got some of my equipment together we could leave about teatime.'

'I'll come, too, of course,' said Ridcully. He looked at Ponder. 'And - '

'What?' said Ponder. He looked at Ridcully's grin. 'Yes, it might be a good idea if one of the gentlemen from the Times came along to take pictures. They might be very good for instructional purposes.'

'An extremely good plan, Mister Stibbons, and I think we should take the senior faculty as well. They will lend some much-needed... ' He snapped his fingers. 'What's the word?'

'Confusion,' said Ponder.

'No, not that,' said Ridcully.

'Appetite?' said Ponder. 'Weight?'

'Something like that... Ah, gravitas. Oh, yes, lots of gravitas. We aren't the kind of fellows who run around chasing strange birds. I'll see you after lunch. And now I have other matters to deal with.'

'Yes, Archchancellor,' said Ponder. 'Oh, and, um... What about the proposed football match?'

'Regrettably, it appears that it will have to wait until they have rebuilt the university.'

'That's a shame, Archchancellor,' said Ponder.

He carried on with the calculation until the very last figures danced into place, made sure the Archchancellor had left, gave a very small smile, which you might not have noticed had you not expected it, and then pulled another ledger towards him.

It was another good day.

It is now!

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