Chapter 13 - Minutus Cantorum, Minutus Balorum...
"Cunning," said Angua, shooting Carlin a flat stare underneath arched eyebrows and raised hackles. "What are you going on about?"
"Damn... damn and hell and damn," Carlin muttered, wringing her hands absent-mindedly as she stared at the floor. "I've been going about this all wrong..."
"Dr Lawn," interrupted Carlin, holding her frothy hands out in front of her, "I need your trust. Do I have that?"
"Well," he said amicably, leaning back as subtly as he could, "you have my trust as long as you don't try to touch me."
"Good," she said. "We need to get Vetinari out of the palace as soon as possible, and into Mr Vimes's house."
"Commander," the good doctor began, "I really don't think it would be a good idea to move the patrician."
"Maybe not," she said, "but only if you ignore all the other threats to his health."
Angua narrowed her eyes. "Those being?"
Carlin gave her a heavy look. "All the people in the palace who want him dead."
It's the poor man's life underneath the bridge.
The men who lived under the bridge were freelance panhandlers and muck entrepreneurs, the people who lived on the fringes of society. They sang in order to be paid to go away, they hung about in order to get hard lumps of bread thrown at them. They fished lemon slices out of the Ankh for their tea and hocked loogies onto innocent(1) bystanders for amusement.
They weren't members of the Beggars Guild. They were above that sort of thing.
"'Ere, Ron and I saw somefin' odd over by the Bucket."
"Buggrit, millenium hand and shrimp."
The Duck Man looked up. "Odd?"
Gaspode sneezed and scratched his ear with a bedraggled back paw to advertise his practiced nonchalance. "Fancy society lady muckin' about in the copper's pub. Don't see that everyday, not when it isn't Lady Sybil."
"Some women find the uniform attractive."
"This one don't. You can smell it on her. She's disgusted. Been smelling that a lot on the bitches these past few weeks."
Arnold Sideways waved his boot in the air. "It's cause 'a all these new coppers," he grumbled. "The fancy ones who don't be lettin' a poor innocent soul like I take a quick leak onna' palace. Out of sight, mind. Behind them fancy rock wossnames."
"Wotcha. Them's the duck."
Gaspode wrinkled his muzzle in a concerned sort of way. "Don't think that's it."
"Damn fancy coppers," Arnold Sideways muttered under his breath. "It's disgustin', letting them prance about."
"Sooner or later," the Duck Man mused, "one of them is going to arrest the head of the Thieves Guild again."
"Hmm," said Gaspode, his mind in faraway places.
"Wait!" Angua yelled and stumbled out the door after Carlin. "Where are you going?"
"To talk to Lady Sybil," Carlin said through stiff lips. "There's things to be done."
The werewolf caught up easily and swung into an easy trot beside the smaller woman. "Maybe if you'd like to explain to me what the hell you think is going on," she said tersely, "I could help."
Carlin stopped still in the middle of the street, stood quietly for a moment, and then bopped herself on the forehead a few times. "I swear I've got it," she said between smacks, "it just keeps getting all tangled."
"Start from the beginning and go from there."
"There is no beginning!"
"Well, start from a beginning, then," Angua said, snarling a bit despite herself.
Carlin groaned and clutched at her face. "I think -- I think -- that Carrot thinks there are people in the palace who want Vetinari dead, and we have to get him out no matter what. To Lady Sybil's. And Dr Lawn can help us. But it's important, and I almost know why, but I just can't... I just can't quite get my finger on it."
"You're still making no sense."
"He'd figured something out, don't you see? He said that he was helping me but I knew that wasn't right -- it was just cover up. I had just offered to help with the Vetinari case, and then the guards came and -- well, look, I think that he was trying to tell me something without them figuring out what I meant, and I keep feeling as though the answer is just on the other side of the next tree but by the time I get there I'm just as much in the woods as I was before."
Angua worked her jaw for a moment. "We're busting him out of there," she muttered.
"You think that'd work?"
"No. 'Personal isn't the same as important.' Damn!"
Carlin's face fell, and she turned to look about her, giving herself time to think. "Well, look," she said after a moment. "We don't have all the information but we're pretty sure Vetinari needs to be dragged the hell out of the palace, right?"
Angua grimaced. "I'll concede that."
"Right. Then let's do that before someone else gets arrested. How's that?"
The two spun.
"Hi there, Sergeant Angua!" Nell trilled, snapping off a perky salute. "How are things? Isn't it a lovely day? I'm just loving this weather. Absolutely wonderful for this time of year, don't you think? And the foliage! Brilliant pinks... well, of course, my lodgings are over by the university, so the foliage isn't so much pink as just, well, pigs hanging from the trees. It's really quite interesting. They make quite a bit of noise at sunrise. It's so cute!"
Carlin and Angua stood still for a moment, slack jawed and staring.
"I'm sorry, Sergeant," Jane mumbled. "She's had coffee today."
"What... are you..." Angua started, but shook her head. "Look, you two. Commander Carlin and I need your help. Lance-Constable Todd, run and tell Sergeant Colon that I'll be back soon and to clear out a big room with a table in it. I want a map of the city on the table, got me? Tell him that. Lance-Constable Chung, go back to the Yard and tell Cheri to send a clacks to Lady Sybil asap, telling her I'll be over there soon."
"What's going on?" Jane said, a suspicious look in her narrow eyes.
"Captain Carrot's been arrested," Angua said, "and we think we know why. Now get going!"
"Aye aye, cap'n!" Nell said, saluting again.
"I'm a sergeant," Angua snarled. "Carrot is the only Captain of the watch, arrested or not!"
"Now that is just low, Commander," said the woman in the doorway.
Vimes grunted awake. "Zuh?"
"Using the commander of a foreign country's police force to do your dirty work, just because she's a sammie? I'm very disappointed in you."
"Commander Teren Carlin," she said, sitting in the chair across from him and smoothing her skirt over her knees. "Surely you remember the name of your co-conspirator? But fear not -- the city will deal with her quickly and effectively."
The woman smiled, and patted her hair into place.
(2) For a given value of innocent.