Men At Arms
As with most of the City Watch books, the Patrician plays so large a part that it would be best to reread the entire book to get all of his scenes. For my fellow devotees, however, I here present some of his best scenes.
Warning: There be major spoilers ahead. You have been warned.
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|First||Captain Vimes meets with His Lordship about his (Vimes's) impending retirement.|
|Second||His Lordship works in the gardens, a description thereof; the meeting between Dr Cruces of the Assassins' Guild and His Lordship.||Third||His Lordship is wounded, proving to all present that contrary to popular belief, he does indeed have quite a lot of blood.|
|Fourth||His Lordship is taken to more secure cover, and converses with Corporal Nobbs.|
The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork sat back on his austere chair with the sudden bright smile of a very busy person at the end of a crowded day who's suddenly found in his schedule a reminder saying: 7.00-7.05, Be Cheerful and Relaxed and a People Person.
'Well, of course, I was very saddened to receive your letter, captain...'
'Yes, sir,' said Vimes, still as wooden as a furniture warehouse.
'Please sit down, captain.'
'Yes, sir.' Vimes remained standing. It was a matter of pride.
'But of course I quite understand. The Ramkin country estates are very extensive, I believe. I'm sure Lady Ramkin will appreciate your strong right hand.'
'Sir?' Captain Vimes, while in the presence of the ruler of the city, always concentrated his gaze on a point one foot above and six inches to the left of the man's head.
'And of course you will be quite a rich man, captain.'
'I hope you have thought about that. You will have new responsibilities.'
It dawned onthe Patrician that he was working on both ends of this conversation. He shuffled through the papers on his desk.
'And of course I shall have to promote a new chief officer for the Night Watch,' said the Patrician. 'Have you any suggestions, captain?'
Vimes appeared to descend from whatever cloud his mind had been occupying. This was guard work.
'Well, not Fred Colon... He's one of Nature's sergeants...'
Vimes drummed his fingers on the desk.
'Not Colon, then,' he said. 'He's not as young as he was. Time he stayed in the Watch House, keeping up on the paperwork. Besides, he's got a log on his plate.'
'Sergeant Colon has always had a lot on his plate, I should say,' said the Patrician.
'With the new recruits, I mean,' said Vimes, meaningfully. 'You remember, sir?'
The ones you told me I had to have? he added in the privacy of his head. They weren't to go in the Day Watch, of course. And those bastards in the Palace Guard wouldn't take them, either. Oh, no. Put 'em in the Night Watch, because it's a joke anyway and no-one'll really see 'em. No-one important, anyway.
Vimes had only given in because he knew it wouldn't be his problem for long.
It wasn't as if he was speciesist, he told himself. But the Watch was a job for men.
'How about Corporal Nobbs?' said the Patrician.
They shared a mental picture of Corporal Nobbs.
'Then of course there is,' the Patrician smiled, 'Corporal Carrot. A fine young man. Already making a name for himself, I gather.'
'That's... true,' said Vimes.
'A further promotion opportunity, perhaps? I would value your advice.'
Vimes formed a mental picture of Corporal Carrot --
Vimes' meeting with the Patrician ended as all such meetings did, with the guest going away in possession of an unfocused yet nagging suspicion that he'd only just escaped with his life.Back to the Top
Lord Vetinari was also at work.Back to the Top
Normally, he was in the Oblong Office, or seated in his plain wooden chair at the foot of the steps in the palace of Ankh-Morpork; there was an ornate throne at the top of the steps, covered with dust. It was the throne of Ankh-Morpork and was, indeed, made of gold. He'd never dreamed of sitting on it.
But it was a nice day, so he was working in the garden.
Visitors to Ankh-Morpork were often surprised to find that there were some interesting gardens attached to the Patrician's Palace.
The Patrician was not a gardens kind of person. But some of his predecessors had been, and Lord Vetinari never changed or destroyed anything if there was no logical reason to do so. He maintained the little zoo, and the racehorse stable, and even recognized that the gardens themselves were of extreme historic interest because this was so obviously the case.
They had been laid out by Bloody Stupid Johnson.
Many great landscape gardeners have gone down in history and been remembered in a very solid way by the gardens that they designed with almost god-like power and foresight, thinking nothing of making lakes and shifting hills and planting woodlands to enable future generatios to appreciate the sublime beauty of wild Nature transformed by Man. There have been Capability Brown, Sagacity Smith, Intuition De Vere Slade-Gore...
In Ankh-Morpork, there was Bloody Stupid Johnson.
The Ankh-Morpork palace grounds were considered the high spot, if such it could be called, of his career. For example, they contained the ornamental trout lake, one hundred and fifty yards long, and, because of one of those trifling errors of notation that were such a distinctive feature of Bloody Stupid's designs, one inch wide. It was the home of one trout, which was quite comfortable provided it didn't try to turn around, and had once featured an ornate fountain which, when first switched on, did nothing but groan ominously for five minutes and then fire a small stone cherub a thousand feet into the air.
It contained a hoho, which was like a haha only deeper. A haha is a concealed ditch and wall designed to allow landowners to look out across rolling vistas without getting cattle and inconvenient poor people wandering across the lawns. Under Bloody Stupid's errant pencil it was dug fifty feet deep and had claimed three gardeners already.
The maze was so small that people got lost looking for it.
But the Patrician rather liked the gardens, in a quiet kind of way. He had certain views about the mentality of most of mankind, and the gardens made him feel fully justified.
Piles of paper were stacked on the lawn around the chair. Clerks renewed them or took them away periodically. They were different clerks. All sorts and types of information flowed into the Palace, but there was only one place where it all came together,very much like strands of gossamer coming together in the centre of a web.
A great many rulers, good and bad and quite often dead, know what happened; a rare few actually manage, by dint of much effort, to know what's happening. Lord Vetinari considered both types to lack ambition.
'Yes, Dr Cruces,' he said, without looking up.
How the hell does he do it? Cruces wondered. I know I didn't make any noise...
'Ah, Havelock --' he began.
'You have something to tell me, doctor?'
'It's been ... mislaid.'
'Yes. And no doubt you are anxiously seeing it. Very well. Good day.
The Patrician hadn't moved his head the whole time. He hadn't even bothered to ask what It was. He bloody well knows, thought Cruces. How is it you can never tell him anything he doesn't know?
Lord Vetinari put down a piece of paper on one of the piles, and picked up another.
'You are still here, Dr Cruces.'
'I can assure you, m'Lord, that --'
'I'm sure you can. I'm sure you can. There is one question that intrigues me, however.'
'Why was it in your Guild House to be stolen? I had been given to understand it had been destroyed. I'm quite sure I gave orders.'
This was the question the Assassin had been hoping would not be asked. But the Patrician was good at that game.
'Er. We - that is, my predecessor - thought it should serve as a warning and an example.'
The Patrician looked up and smiled brightly.
'Capital!' he said. 'I have always had a great belief in the effectiveness of examples. So I am sure you'll be able to sort this out with minimum inconvenience all round.'
'Certainly, m'Lord,' said the Assassin, glumly. 'But-'
Noon in Ankh-Morpork took some time, since twelve o'clock was established by consensus. Generally, the first bell to start was that one in the Teachers' Guild, in response to the universal prayers of its members. Then the water clock on the Temple of Small Gods would trigger the big bronze gong. The black bell in the Temple of Fate struck once, unexpectedly, but by then the silver pedal-driven carillon in the Fools' Guild would be tinkling, the gongs, bells and chimes of all the Guilds and temples would be in full swing, and it was impossible to tell them apart, except for the tongueless and magical octiron bell of Old Tom in the Unseen University clock tower, whose twelve measured silences temporarily overruled the din.
And finally, several strokes behind all the others, was the bell of the Assassins' Guild, which was always last.
Beside the Patrician, the ornamental sundial chimed twice and fell over.
'You were saying?' said the Patrician mildly.
'Captain Vimes,' said Dr Cruces. 'He's taking an interest.'
'Dear me. But it is his job.'
'Really? I must demand that you call him off!'
The words echoed around the garden. Several pigeons flew away.
'Demand?' said the Patrician, sweetly.
Dr Cruces backed and filled desperately. 'He is a servant after all,' he said. 'I see no reason why he should be allowed to involve himself in affairs that don't concern him.'
'I rather believe he thinks he's a servant of the law,' said the Patrician.
'He's a jack-in-office and an insolent upstart!'
'Dear me. I did not appreciate your strength of feeling. But since you demand it, I will bring him to heel without delay.'
'Don't mention it. Do not let me keep you.'
Dr Cruces wandered off in the direction of the Patrician's idle gesture.
Lord Vetinari bent over his paperwork again, and did not even look up when there was a distant, muffled cry. Instead, he reached down and rang a small silver bell.
A clerk hurried up.
'Go and fetch the ladder, will you, Drumknott?' he said. 'Dr Cruces seems to have fallen in the hoho.' [Transcriber's note: this is, I believe, the first appearance of Drumknott, who seems later to take over the position that the late, unlamented Lupine Wonse once occupied.]
Lord Vetinari stood up as he saw the Watch running towards him. That was why the first shot went through his thigh, instead of his chest.
Then Carrot cleared the door of the carriage and flung himself across the man, which is why the next shot went through Carrot.
A third shot knocked a chip out of Detritus, who slammed into the carriage, knocking it on its side and severing the traces. The horses scrambled away. The coachman had already made a lightening comparison between current job conditions and his ratees of pay and had vanished into the crowd.Back to the Top
Vimes slid to a halt behind the overturned carriage. Another shot spanged off the cobbles near his arm.
'How are you?'
'Oozing a bit, sir.'
A shot hit the carriage wheel above Vimes' head, making it spin.
'Right through my shoulder, sir.'
Vimes eased himself along on his elbows.
'Good morning, your lordship,' he said, manically. He leaned back and pulled out a mangled cigar. 'Got a light?'
The Patrician opened his eyes.
'Ah, Captain Vimes. And what happens now?'
Vimes grinned. Funny, he thought, how I never feel really alive until someone tries to kill me. That's when you notice that the sky is blue. Actually, not very blue right now. There's big clouds up there. But I'm noticing them.
'We wait for one more shot,' he said. 'And then we run for proper cover.'
'I appear... to be losing a lot of blood,' said Lord Vetinari.
'Who would have thought you had it in you,' said Vimes, with the frankness of those probably about to die. 'What about you, Carrot?'
'I can move my hand. Hurts like...heck, sir. But you look worse.'
Vimes looked down.
There was blood all over his coat.
'A bit of stone must have caught me,' he said. 'I didn't even feel it!'
He tried to form a mental picture of the gonne.
Six tubes, all in a line. Each one with its lead slug and charge of No. 1 powder, delivered into the gonne like crossbow bolts. He wondered how long it'd take to put in another six...
But we've got him where we want him! There's only one way down out of the Tower!
Yep, we might be sitting out here in the open with him shooting lead pellets at us, but we've got him just where we want him!
'Detritus! You haven't got time to ooze! Get over to the Tower! Take some people with you!'
Vimes reached the doorway of the Great Hall with the Patrician over his shoulder and Carrot stumbling along behind him. The wizards were clustered around the door. Big heavy drops of rain were beinning to fall, hissing on the hot stones.
Ridcully rolled up his sleeves.
'Hell's bells! What did that to his leg?'
'That's the gonne for you! Sort him out! And Corporal Carrot too!'
'There's no need,' said Vetinari, trying to smile and stand up. 'It's just a flesh-'
The leg collapsed under him.
Vimes blinked. He'd never expected this. The Patrician was the man who always had the answers, who was never surprised. Vimes had a sense that history was flapping loose...
'How do you feel, your lordship?' said Corporal Nobbs, the upwardly mobile.Back to the Top
'Who are you?'
'Corporal Nobbs, sir!' said Nobby, saluting.
'Do we employ you?'
'Ah. You're the dwarf, ar you?'
'Nossir. That was the late Cuddy, sir! I'm one of the human beings, sir!'
'You're not employed as the result of any...special hiring procedures?'
'Nossir,' said Nobby, proudly.
'My word,' said the Patrician. He was feeling a little light-headed from loss of blood. The Archchancelor had also given him a long drink of something he said was a marvellous remedy, although he'd been unspecific as to what it cured. Verticality, apparently. It was wise to remain sitting upright, though. It was a good idea to be seen to be alive. A lot of inquisitive people were peering around the door. It was important to ensure that rumours of his death were greatly exaggerated.
Corporal self-proclaimed-human Nobbs and some other guards had closed in around the Patrician, on Captain Vimes' orders. Some of them were a lot bulker than he rather muzzily remembered.
'You there, my man. Have you taken the King's Shilling?' he inquired of one.
'I never took nuffin.'
'Capital, well done.'
And then the crowds scattered. Something golden and vaguely dog-like burst through, growling, its nose close to the ground. And was gone again, covering the ground to the library in long, easy strides. The Patrician was aware of conversation.
'Did that look a bit familiar to you?'
'I know what you mean.'
Nobby fidgeted awkwardly.
'You should've bawled her out for not being in uniform,' he said.
'Bit tricky, that.'
'If I'd run through here without me clothes on, you'd fine me half a dollar for being improperly dressed--'
'Here's half a dollar, Nobby. Now shut up.'
Lord Vetinari beamed at them. Then there was the guard in the corner, another of the big lumpy ones--
'Still all right, your lordship?' said Nobby.
'Who's that gentleman?'
He followed the Patrician's gaze.
'That's Detritus the troll, sir.'
'Why is he sitting like that?'
'He's thinking, sir.'
'He hasn't moved for some time.'
'He thinks slow, sir.'