The Patrician was an Assassin, he adhered to the Assassins' code. It was not a code that commended itself to Sam Vimes but he, Havelock Vetinari, had always faithfully abided by it. He accepted without question that he was a legitimate target, indeed he had gloried in the fact and been saddened when Guild refused to accept any more contracts to inhume him, deeply regretting the loss of exercise. Nor was he inclined to become exercised over non-Guild attempts to inhume or de-chair him or both. Call it an occupational hazard. Yes. He, Vetinari, was a fair target to anybody who cared to take a shot - and may the god of their choice have mercy upon their souls.

His staff, however, were not fair targets. Nor were his servants. Nor, most especially, were their innocent and helpless grandmothers and infant siblings.

The Patrician walked into the long gallery between the inner courts of the palace and nearly into Mildred Easy, third upstairs-maid, industriously sweeping up the tea leaves that had been scattered over the long blue carpet in the optimistic hope they would somehow clean it.

It was Havelock's private opinion that all it really did was make the floors smell of tea. He neatly caught the maid in one hand and her broom in the other keeping both from tumbling to the floor. "I beg your pardon, Miss Easy."

She smiled brightly, straightening her apron and giving her hair a quick, surreptitious pat. "Don't mention it, your lordship. Is there anything I can do for your lordship?"

It was a curious fact, and one Havelock had never quite managed to fathom, that women were never frightened of him. Fascinated, intrigued, even mesmerized but certainly not frightened. It was curious. "As a matter of fact I have been wanting to talk to you, Miss Easy." he glanced around, indicated a nearby window bay. "Shall we sit down?"

"Yes m'lord?" she prompted once they were seated facing each other across a built-in game table, her eyes bright with pleasure at this personal notice.

Havelock steepled his fingers. "I deeply regret the deaths of your grandmother, Mrs. Easy and your small brother William Easy. Please accept my condolences and my apologies for unwittingly placing your family in danger."

"Oh! oh, it wasn't your fault m'lord," her lower lip began to quiver. "It was mine, if I hadn't taken those candles -"

"Your prerequisites," Havelock said firmly. "Your lawful right in fact under the legal principle of quia ego sed dico."

Some of her brightness came back. "Legal? There, I knew I wasn't doing anything wrong taking those candle ends and the old sheets!"

"Quite," Havelock agreed. I regret that I will have to ask you to forgo your legal prerequisites in the future, however, to prevent a recurrence of this sad event."

"Oh," Mildred said, looking a trifle dismayed. "Well, Commander Vimes did say I could have the Watch house candles -"

"That is very kind of his Grace," Havelock interrupted smoothly. *'And characteristic.'* "Naturally you will be reimbursed for your loss. I trust another ten dollars a month will cover it?"

"Oh!" Her eyes went round. "Why that nearly doubles what I get now!"

*'Yes, I know.'*

"You don't have to do that, m'lord -" she began earnestly.

He flashed a brief smile. "As a matter of fact I do, Miss Easy. Quia ego sed dico, you know! If you cannot take your legal prerequisites I have to pay you the equivalent in cash. I, of all people, must obey the law. Don't you agree?"

"Yes, m'lord," she gave a little sigh of pleasure. "I don't mind telling your lordship that the extra money will come in handy."

"Speaking of income," Havelock lifted an interrogative eyebrow. "I understand your father and elder brothers are currently between positions?"

She understood him, working for Havelock Vetinari did wonders for the vocabulary. "Yes, m'lord. You see the mill closed -"

"Would they perhaps be open to accepting appointments here at the palace?" he interrupted again, no less smoothly. "Our new security measures will require an enlarged staff and of course I would prefer men vouched for by a trusted member of my staff."

Mildred glowed at being described as a 'trusted member of his staff', then the offer registered and the light went up a few megawatts. "Oh yes, m'lord! Thank you m'lord."

"Thank you, Miss Easy, Perhaps you will be so good as to pass the word to Mr. Easy, and to Mr. Harry and Mr. Jack Easy? Mr. Skimmer will explain their duties to them."

Mildred danced joyfully away, forgetting all about her broom and tea leaves and right past Drumknott.

Havelock eyed his secretary warily. His normal mask of duty seemed a little wrinkled about the edges, possibly even a touch dewy around the eyelids. "I trust you are not going to indulge in sentiment, Drumknott," he said severely.

"Never, my lord. The....execution has taken place, my lord." the secretary handed his master a sheet of paper.

"Extermination, Drumknott, one exterminates vermin," Vetinari said running an eye over the writing. "Dear me, I trust the palace foundations have not been compromised."

"Not in the least, my lord. There was a cave in in cell six, however."

"Excellent. Lots of wet mud I trust, Drumknott?"

"Yes, my lord."

"Very good, shall we be getting back to the oblong office?"

The thing about water, even Ankh water, is it seeps. And as it seeps it carries particles with it. Particles of dust for example, scattering and burying them deep. So deep that no drop of blood could ever manage to find them....

Croissant Rouge aka Sidney Snoggrass would make an excellent Dragon King at Arms. And perhaps it would be a good idea to appoint one or two more heralds to help him? Coats of arms did seem to be growing business, best to keep a close eye on it - and the new minted gentry.