"Well, sir," said Drumknott nervously. "What if you were to get married?"
Vetinari stared at him for a full minute before answering. "Drumknott, am I going to have to tell you to throw yourself in the scorpion pit?"
"But it could work, sir--"
"No, it couldn't," said Vetinari in withering tones. "For the simple reason that Commander Vimes is very much married and that hasn't stopped these silly rumours about him, has it?"
"Well no, sir. But it might stop there being quite so many of them about you…" Drumknott trailed off as Vetinari's eyes narrowed. "Sorry, bad idea."
"Yes, it was," said Vetinari solemnly. "Besides, who did you have in mind for the bride?"
"Lady Margolotta, sir."
"Margolotta? Are you mad?" exclaimed Vetinari. "You honestly think I'd marry her?"
"But you had that um, relationship with her when you were young, didn't you, sir? And you talk to her all the time using the clacks."
"Yes, but…" Vetinari shuddered. "That was all a long time ago, Drumknott. And the way she was then…and the way she is now…no, it simply wouldn't work."
"Why not, sir?"
"Because, Drumknott. Just because." Vetinari shuddered again then looked up at his secretary. "Any other bright ideas?"
"Capital." Vetinari pulled a bunch of keys out of his pocket and handed them to his secretary. "There you are. Go and throw yourself in the pit for ten minutes."
"Yes sir. Sorry sir." Drumknott turned to go but stopped at the doorway. "Um, sir?"
Vetinari looked up. "You appear to still be here, Drumknott."
"Yes. There's, er, there's something I haven't told you about, sir."
Vetinari's eyes narrowed. "You haven't actually arranged the wedding, have you, Drumknott? Because the gibbet in Nonesuch Street is still in a usable condition; you do know that, don't you?"
"Yes! No. It's not that, sir," said Drumknott hurriedly.
"Then what is it?"
"Well, we've received rather a lot of post today, sir. Quite a bit, actually."
"It's all addressed to you, sir."
Vetinari raised an eyebrow. "I am the Patrician, Drumknott."
"Yes sir, I know. It's just that—perhaps I'd better show you this, sir." Drumknott pulled an envelope out of his jacket pocket and handed it to Vetinari.
The eyebrow rose further as he quickly read the first paragraph of the letter. It was soon followed by the other one as he read the second paragraph. By the time he'd finished the entire thing not only had Vetinari's jaw dropped but his face was bright red.
Drumknott looked at him with fascination; he hadn't thought Vetinari could blush. "Are you okay, sir?"
"What? Oh…yes. Yes, I'm fine." Vetinari glanced at the letter again and winced. "Drumknott, who exactly is this Miss Oakeneye? And why would she want you to do…that to me? And me to do that to you? And why on the disc would she actually tell people about it?"
"As far as we can tell, sir, she's just a young lady who lives Dolly Sisters. We don't know why she wrote that."
"Are the Watch aware that there is a raging pervert residing in the area? Have any young men been accosted and forced to do this creature's bidding?" asked Vetinari.
"Not as yet, sir."
"My word. Such restraint." Vetinari risked another look at the note. "It's a shame she doesn't apply the same restraint to her correspondence. Are the rest of the letters like this?"
"Oh no, sir," said Drumknott. "Some are worse."
"Worse?" exclaimed Vetinari. "Is that possible?"
"Evidently so, sir. You've received a letter from someone calling themselves…" Drumknott blushed, "…'Drummers'."
"And what is that about?"
"It's a short story about you and the Commander--"
"—having what I believe is known as a 'threesome' with…let me see…"
"Oh gods…" muttered Vetinari. He took a sip of tea in an effort to calm his nerves. "Who is it?"
"…ah yes…Lady Sybil."
Vetinari went red again as he tried not to choke. "Sybil?" he croaked. "But I've known her since we were children. Why? How? How could that possibly work?"
"We were all wondering that ourselves in the clerks quarters, sir," said Drumknott, pulling a piece of paper out of his pocket. "So I asked Leonard to do a quick sketch of the three of you based on the story--"
"And the finished painting will be ready in a few days, I suppose," said Vetinari acidly. He glared at the picture.
"Leonard did say it would only be for a bit of practice, sir," said Drumknott. "He said it would be an interesting exercise in attempting to show motions and movements through a static medium. Especially as you're all so…enthusiastic in the story."
Vetinari sighed. "Exactly how many letters have we—I received so far?"
"At last count: 27, 372," said Drumknott. "But there are a couple of sacks downstairs we haven't sorted yet, so it could be more. And that's just this morning's delivery."
"Capital. What a truly wonderful day this is turning out to be," said Vetinari sarcastically.
"And that's not all, sir. There's something else you need to know..."
"Not yet but it's only three-thirty," muttered Dave. "You want something?"
"Yes," the figure in front of the counter whispered loudly. "Do you have any copies of…Pink Pages?"
Dave chuckled. "You've got to be kidding--" He looked up at last. "Oh, it's you, Captain Carrot."
Carrot smiled uneasily. "Hello, Mr Trumpton. So, um, do you have any?"
"I wish I did, Captain. But I had a bit of a rush on today; seems most of the city wanted to read that magazine today, I heard everyone's sold out."
"It was a bit strange really. Usually Pink Pages is a pretty slow seller but today I couldn't keep 'em on the shelves. Must've been those Vetinari and Vimes cut-out dolls they had free with the issue 'cause of that icono-story."
"Yeah. Basic stuff really, insert tab C into slot A and all that but the girls were going mad for 'em."
Carrot's brow furrowed. "Ladies were buying it?"
Dave nodded. "That was the other weird thing; normally all my customers for that one are men. But today each and every single one was a woman. Is that weird or what?"
"All the writers claim to belong to an organisation called F.A.N.G.I.R.L.S. sir," said Drumknott. "Females Advocating Nominated Gay Intimate Relationships and Loud Sex."
"Loud Sex?" said Vetinari, raising an eyebrow. "They really concern themselves with the decibel level involved?"
"Yes sir. They've even put it in their charter."
"Yes sir. Apparently F.A.N.G.I.R.L.S. really don't like it if a man just lies there and go 'mmm' a bit at the end."
"And there's the second problem," sighed Vetinari.
"Well I'm hardly going to be enthusiastic about something like that, am I?" Vetinari sighed again. "No, this simply won't do. Contact the person in charge of the F.A.N.G.I.R.L.S. and arrange a meeting. And find Vimes; I have a feeling he'll want to know about this."