"You may go in now ladies," said Drumknott as he held open the door of the Oblong Office for the four women in the waiting room. They stood almost at the same time and filed in through the door with only a small amount of glaring1.
The Patrician was seated behind his desk, waiting for them which was unusual. Normally he studiously ignored his visitors and they had all been on the receiving end of a Vetinari silence before but this was a different situation. As they entered the room he rose and gave them a stately bow.
"Ladies," he said, "I wish to thank you. It seems that whenever I am in trouble you come to my aid. No doubt there are times when you feel I do not entirely deserve it, however I wish you to know that it gives me great pleasure in knowing that I have such excellent allies."
All four women, even Mrs Manger had gone pink at the praise. He could be most charming when he wanted to be. He walked out from behind his desk and stood in front of the row of women.
"Unfortunately, as you know I am unable to express my thanks any other way than verbally but I hope that that may still have some little value with you."
They nodded. He moved to stand before Dixie Voom and held out his hand.
"Miss Voom it is, as always, a pleasure," he said silkily as he took her hand and bent low to kiss it gently. Dixie blushed an even deeper shade of pink and curtsied him before leaving the room.
"Mrs Manger, so good to see you again."
"And you sir," she mumbled as he performed the same motion over her beefy mit. She bustled off through the door, her mind already on the new boiling kettles they were importing.
Molly gave a wild giggle and slapped him on the shoulder.
"Never out of trouble are you?" she cackled at him, he smiled in return and she tottered outside. That just left Mrs Palm.
"You know one day you'll run into something that can't be stopped by four women," she told him ruefully.
"Ah but that storm is a while off as yet," he answered gently. "And I have no doubt that even when it arises you shall still be, my very dear, Mrs Palm."
His cool lips grazed the back of her hand and she blushed quite as much as Dixie had.
"Charmer," she scolded him before she sailed regally out of the room.
When Drumknott re-entered the office a few moments later the Patrician was standing by the window, watching the four figures disperse into the streets of his city.
"Dear ladies," he murmured to himself.
"I wonder sir if you can rely on bought loyalty forever?" said the clerk bravely.
Vetinari turned to him and smiled thinly.
"But I did not buy them Drumknott," he replied. "You will tend to find that women have a much better understanding of such a relationship. I ask nothing of them and they expect nothing of me and yet they will fly to my aid at the merest sign of trouble."
"I believe that's called sentimentality sir, or the maternal instinct."
Vetinari raised an eyebrow at his clerk.
"And what better kind of loyalty is there Drunknott, than one which exists simply for loyalties sake?"
"Yes sir," said the clerk as the Patrician seated himself at his desk once more and began to read a report on grain tax.
1 This will happen anywhere you get a group of high-powered women together, they fight silently over precedence.