Drumknott picked up the stack of out papers one-handedly. His bandaged arm hung stiffly at his side.

Vetinari glanced up at the clerk, then his gaze travelled to the wounded limb whilst remaining inscrutable the whole time.

"I trust you are feeling well?" the Patrician asked.

The clerk nodded, bringing his other hand up to the papers unconsciously. A twinge of pain tightened his features for a moment. "Fine, sir."

"Indeed." Vetinari turned back to his papers. Drumknott turned to leave.

He was almost to the door when Vetinari addressed him again.

"Rufus?"

"Yes, my lord?"

"A longer leave of absence would be acceptable if you so desire."

A tangle of half-formed emotions flicked on Drumknott's face for a moment. "Thank you, sir, but no."

"As you like."

The clerk waited a few more seconds, but nothing else was forthcoming. He left quietly.

In the empty office, Vetinari paused in his work for a moment, apparently lost in thought, but as always, he betrayed no sign of his contemplation.